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 8 - 16, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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


ABANA coverage looks good. Tell us more about the Rathole Forge anvils. I've been wondering about them. (Not that I need another anvil, but who knows when my wif might hit the lottery. ;-)

Things sure are quiet around here, 'cept for Ferris Oxhide (who has a familiar style about him...).

Visit your National Parks (none of which are near Richmond, KY): www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/08/04 08:11:31 EDT

Yeah I noticed that as well Bruce.
   Mills - Thursday, 07/08/04 08:30:36 EDT

My propane supplier won't give me more than 5psi to my new shop. They did in the old one, but that garage was detached. The guy cited a part of the fire code limiting delivery to a building using a vapor system to 5psi.

So what to do? I'd like to keep using a non-blown burner. I know that I can forge at 5psi right now, but not weld. A larger jet would get me more heat, but only to a point. Somewhere along the line the velocity will be too low to mix using just the venturi. Any experience with this?

Also, I was looking to use the piped propane to run some oxy-propane for cutting and spot heating. What pressures are needed for that? And how about a hand torch, like a propane TurboTorch? Do they need higher pressure than 5psi?

My other option is to get my own tank, like an 80-lb, but I got spoiled with my previous 100-gal tank. It took 6 months to empty that one and that's easy to catch long before it's empty. Also only a phone call to fill it.

Thanks for any thoughts on this.

   - MarcG - Thursday, 07/08/04 10:30:37 EDT

MarcG, The way they do it with NG is BIG pipes. 1" going to a forge would be typical. If your forge is used for business and you business is zoned legaly then you should fall under the industrial rules. .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/08/04 14:20:53 EDT


EXCELLENT coverage on the set-up day at ABANA! If the previous conference's coverage, or ABANA's own publicity or coverage had been this good, I probably would have attended this year, since I'm on vacation this week anyway. Sadly, based on what I saw of last year and what ABANA published ahead of time about this conference lead me to believe I wouldn't be getting sufficient bang for my buck if I attended. I AM going to make it to Quad States this year, if nothing goes awry. Your coverage of last year's Quad States sold me on the value of making that meet. Thanks,

   vicopper - Thursday, 07/08/04 14:57:50 EDT

Hi Guru,Am from the interior of Guyana, South America,and I run a little workshop/repair shop here. We are very far from the rest of the world in technology, and we make no tools in the country,all comes from somewhere else ( a lot from China!) so seeing that we just got this cyber thing, thot I'd look up how to temper some of my tools...like cold chilsels,hss drill bits(especially) and how can I get the right angle ground back on them...do I have to sharpen them first and then retemper them or the other way around?
I don't have anything to check the temperature, so maybe you can recomend a colour? By the way, am 44 years old, and am really glad that have lived to see this age and times.My father used to do forgework but I was too small to learn...I have oxy/acety equipment and an electric welder and some electric power tools but nothing FANCY...
   - Andrew Melville - Thursday, 07/08/04 16:25:28 EDT

Andrew, The cold chisel of high carbon steel can be hardened in water at a cherry heat, about when it loses magnetism. Remove scale and chase oxide colors toward the business end until you reach full blue. Re-quench to "hold your temper". You're hardening the business-end (blade portion) only. Read the FAQ Heat Treatment on this site.
Don't mess with the HSS drills. Just keep sharpening them.Each of the 2 cutting lips gets a 59 degree angle to the center line of the drill. The included angle is 118 degrees. There is nore to it. You need clearance for the chip to come out of the drilled hole. Best to have someone show you. Also, there should be a small line, the chisel point, at dead center.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/08/04 17:35:09 EDT

   NANETTE - Thursday, 07/08/04 21:02:54 EDT

I am a beginner and I am interested in making some bbq tools, such as meat forks, tongs, etc. Can you give me some tips on how to color and rust prevent tools that will be used with food. Thanks, R.w. Howard
   R.W. Howard - Thursday, 07/08/04 22:07:23 EDT

My first thought would be to use stainless stell, Howard. :-)
   HavokTD - Thursday, 07/08/04 22:37:36 EDT

Nanette, Find the nearest Lincoln Electric distributor and get a 110v wire feed unit. They are easy to learn and the distributor should be able to point you to some folks than can teach you. My original WeldPak100 came with a video that got me started. Have fun!
   dief - Thursday, 07/08/04 22:47:40 EDT

Andrew Melville,

Welcome to cyberspace and Anvilfire! The best infromation I have seen on sharpening drill bits was in a textbook on machine work called Shop Theory that was published by the Henry Ford Trade School in the 30's. You might check on eBay to see if a copy turns up.

The fundamental thing to remember on sharpening a twist drill is that each flute of the drill acts as a rotating chisel, shaving off metal from the bottom of the hole. With that in mind, you can get a feel for the necessity of having the proper heel relief (or lip clearance angle) and attack angle on the cutting edge. In general, the lip clearance angle should be between 12º and 15º. One way to judge if you have the angle correct is to look at the tip of the bit and check the angle from the cutting lip to a line extended from the center point line. That angle should be between 120º and 135º.

If you are careful not to overheat them when grinding your bits, they will not need any heat treating. If the grinding area gets hot enough to show color changes, then you have over heated that area and the simplest cure is to slowly grind farther back to an area that has not been overheated.

For very simple seat-of-the-pants sor tof tool making and maintenance information, check out The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alexander Weygers.
   vicopper - Thursday, 07/08/04 23:13:41 EDT

ANDREW & VICOPPER; Lindsay Publications has both of the books mentioned. Andrew, use your search engine to find Lindsay. You can buy on line or over the phone.
   3dogs - Friday, 07/09/04 03:36:13 EDT

I have been given a Royersford 21" Excelsior drill press. Everything is there and all seems to work. What years were they manfactured, and where can I get more inforemation on this model. Thanx, Earl
   Earl Borchardt - Friday, 07/09/04 07:48:40 EDT

I am a beginner in the art of metal working. So far I have done more in the armor catigory than anything else. I learned how to make chain mail from endless internet research (although that is not really blacksmithing). I am now trying to make plate armor. To my knowledge good armor is made with 16 gauge steel (this knowledge was gathered mostly from looking at armor for sale at sites such as the Albion Armerors). When I was making "school-costume quality" scale armor I used 24 gauge aluminum, and cut it with some light duty aviation tin snips. 16 gauge steel is obviously harder than 24 gauge aluminum therefore, tin snips of any kind will not work to cut it. What are my options for cutting 16 gauge steel, and if there are many, which seems the best choice to you?
Although I don't have hundreds of dollars to spend, I would still like to know about the high tech metal cutters that I am sure are out there some where.
   arlo - Friday, 07/09/04 20:21:53 EDT


The best choice for cutting 16 ga. sheet steel, in my opinion, is a Beverly shear. They are not cheap however, around $300. Harbor Freight Tools sells a knock-off of the samll Beverly shear fro around $90, and I have heard that it works just fine.

Traditionally, sheet was cut with a hammer and chisel, on a cutting plate placed on top of the anvil. The cutting plate protects the anvil face from being damaged by the chisel. This is still a perfectly good way to cut sheet stock, and sometimes the only method other than a scroll saw for cutting small complex shapes. With a series of different shapes and sizes of chisels, yuo can cut any shape you want, and do it in reasonable time once you get some practice. You can make your own special shaped chisels from flea market cold chisels, old crowbars or heavy coil spring stock. The usual caveats about junkyard steel and heat treating apply, of course.
   vicopper - Friday, 07/09/04 20:47:58 EDT

Jeeez! My typing is really dyslexic tonight! samll=small; fro=for; yuo=you. And that doesn't include the ones I caught as I was doing them.
   vicopper - Friday, 07/09/04 20:50:23 EDT

If Lindsay does, in fact, stock Shop Theory by the Henry Ford Trade School, I would encourage anyone to pick up a copy. It has excellent information on a number of useful things to do with metal working, machine tools, shop practices and several useful charts. It was obviously intended as a companion textbook for Ford's apprentice program, so there is some stuff left out that they must have intended to be taught by the shop teacher. Still, a very good resource.
   vicopper - Friday, 07/09/04 21:00:06 EDT


Just to reinforce what VICopper said, I have one of the Harbor Freight knock offs of the Beverly Shear, and it works great. I don't know how long it will last, but mins a couple of years old, and I still haven't had to install the set of spare blades that I bought at the same time.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 07/09/04 22:49:57 EDT

NEWS! VIc. . Thanks! Posted a bunch more tonight and working on more. I left the conference about 10 pm (after taking MORE pictures) and posted some more pages and have more to post tonight. It takes about 3 hours per page of the news. . and I have posted 10 pages since getting here. It makes it hard to get to all the things and report on it.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/10/04 00:14:26 EDT

Guru, Thanks for the photos of the ABANA Conference. No place but Anvilfire! Dang, must be a real hoot and here I sit in NW Tennessee swatting skeeters.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/10/04 19:41:30 EDT

have taken several classes and would like to construct a small shop - hava a 10x10 tool shed but would be willing to build if needed. The question I have is layout, is there a time proven way to organize a blacksmiths shop? I understand a great deal has to do with personal preference but there must be some starting point that has evolved.

ANY help is appreciated - Thank you!
   tim edwards - Saturday, 07/10/04 21:34:33 EDT

tim, did u read the getting started in blacksmithing page? You need room for a forge and a anvil and room to move around in ur little shop. Forges also need good ventalation.
   - Steven - Saturday, 07/10/04 22:44:48 EDT

Tim, a lot depends on what it is you THINK you want to do.
A bladesmith's shop will have a different layout than say an ornamental smith or an architectural smith.

Will you be making fences or gates eventually? ( layout tables and areas for fitment)

Ok, so generally what I do is locate my forge such that I can have long pieces stick through with out hitting the wall. Then place your anvil such that you can basically swing around to the anvil and take no more than 1/2 to a whole step. Will you have a power hammer? it will also need ot be near the forge. Post vise and work bench?

Easy answer is place everything to where it is no strain or problem for you working..

Perhaps you can get some old boxes ( refrigerator/freezer or wash/dryer) and place where you think you need your stuff and walk about checking how it all looks and feels.
   Ralph - Saturday, 07/10/04 22:45:23 EDT

Would anvil from about 30 years ago bee a secong hand one. Would old blacksimthing and welding gear such a cloves have a great value? When rumaging through my grandfarthers shed I stumbled upon gloves a boots etc.
   - Boby - Saturday, 07/10/04 23:06:14 EDT


I agree with Ralph, mock it up with cardboard boxes os something and then do several walk-throughs until you like the arrangement. Keep in mind that some things, like the anvil, slack tub, and forge, can be moved around as necessary. On the other hand, a post vise set in the floor isn't going to be moveable later without a bunch of work, so get that one right the first time. I detest post vises that are "portable", (a euphemism for wobbly and less useful), so I consider that the anchor point for everything else. If you plan on having a powerhammer, that will be another less-than-easily-moved item.

Whatever you do, build bigger and taller than you think is reasonable. Believe me, a 25' by 50' shop seems big when you're planning it, and small when you're working in it. And the ceiling should be as tall as you can manage; 16 feet is pretty good unless you want to do big architectural stuff, and then you need 22' to have room for a trolley crane and chainfalls to move the big stuff. Anything less than a full 8', even for a hobbiest, is just a nightmare. You'd be hitting the ceiling everytime you picked up anything, and you could never swing a sledge overhead without taking out a rafter, unless you're only 4' tall.

Make LOTS of windows and doors! If you have to choose between one or the other, make doors. You'll want all the ventilation you can get, and daylight is nicer to work by, too.

The more I think about it, the best solution is to build three or four shops arranged differently so you can use whichever one suits your fancy on a given day.

A number of blacksmithing books have layouts of shops you can look at. Do the cardboard box thing with the ones in the books and see how they feel to you. After all, it is YOUR shop, and it has to feel good to you.

And finally, every good blacksmith's shop simply has to have a refrigerator. Wives really hate it when you leave grungy marks all over their refrigerator door when getting that much-needed cold one while forging. Domestic tranquility is very important! (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 07/10/04 23:17:02 EDT


A 30 year old anvil might have been bought either second-hand or new. Anvils are still being made today. Old gloves, shoes, etc. probably aren't intrinsically worth anything, but darn near anything will sell on eBay. P.T. Barnum was right.
   vicopper - Saturday, 07/10/04 23:20:04 EDT

Arlo and armour:-)

There is a lot of varition in armour, medieval as well as modern reproductions. The best armour was and is properly heat treated medium to high carbon steel. In period it was done hot, most modern reproductions are done cold. Wrought steel is a very different animal than modern homogenious mild steel. Modern steels are much more forgiving than period wrought iron and steel. You can cold work mild steel and only need to anneal it occasionally. Wrought steel will break and shear along the fibers of silica and the weld surfaces within the steel. Modern spring steel plate armour with proper heat treatment is wonderful protection and not too aweful to make if you can buy the stock preannealed. I have been told it is no worse than working in stainless (which is reasonable unpleasant compared with mild:-)

For information on making armour yourself I have to recommend Brian Price's book on 14th Century Armour Reproduction. He goes into how to armour and how to follow period examples. Armour is VERY difficult to do well! In it's own way it is every bit as difficult and challenging as swordsmithing. Fit, finish, articulation, and overall aesthetics of the design, not to mention it needs to look period. The compound curves involved can be hard to fully percieve, which makes them even harder to reproduce:-) But once you have a proper working knowledge of a specific type of armour from a specific time, you will be able to tell when it is right. My freinds who are armourers or just conesuers of medieval armour, can look at a helmet or suit and tell you when and where it is from at the very least, if not identify it as a specific piece from a specific collection:-) I am not nearly so adept at identifying pieces:-) and my armouring skills are munitions grade at best right now...

Are you in the SCA or other recreation group?
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 07/10/04 23:23:42 EDT

Tim; Shop Layout:

Jack Andrews in "The New Edge of the Anvil" has some good thoughts on layout. You might also want to visit some other folk’s shops to see how they lay theirs out, too.

Most of my hot-work tools and such are within a step, and in a "circular" pattern (well, it’s square, but in arms-reach), so I can do most operations in half-a-turn. (After years of doing layout and design for office space, I will also note that no one solution fits everybody or every operation.)

Two factors that I pay attention to is segregation of hot and cold work areas (cruelly violated, of late, by the introduction of a gas forge plopped in the middle of everything) and varying heights of equipment for different operations. The heaviest post vise is mounted lowest for hammering, while the lightest is mounted higher for filing and finer operations. Likewise, I have a second, lighter anvil mounted much higher than the main anvil, for detail work.

I do a lot of my design on paper, but only because I'm familiar with the clearances. I like the mock-up idea for getting a better feel of things.

100 square feet is a little tight, but useable if you are working on smaller scale projects. If you're planning on doing great Gothic gates, you will need a larger shop. ;-)

Also, based on my experience in working in a converted tobacco stripping house, where light control is critical (just like a blacksmith shop), I would suggest windows and/or doors on the north, east and west walls, but none on the south. This makes sure that at least two openings are always in the shade, and you can shutter off the direct sunlight while still getting some cross-ventilation.

Cooling, humid and cloudy on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/10/04 23:55:29 EDT

A last bit of conflicting advice...Everything changes depending on the climate where your shop is and the prevailing wind.
Almost all shops are too small in a few years. The more specialized your operation is, the smaller the necessary space.
Some years back i roughed in a spacious new shop...now I have to sidle sideways to get to some locations.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 07/11/04 03:30:28 EDT

hey everyone.

I have my own shop that I have been doing blacksmithing and welding to create artwork, knives, and other junk for a couple years now. Recently a couple high school seniors have expressed an interest in doing their "Senior Project" with me being their mentor and instructor. I am very safety conscious and people have said I am a good instructor and I feel up to the task.

I have been brainstorming on a "curriculum" and required safety gear and tools. But I am stumped on the following:

Safety waiver- what should I put down? should I pay for a lawyer to write one up? I am going to go through the safety course that was taught to me in my college welding class.

Cost- my work in the shop is my livelyhood and I am going to be teaching instead of working, how much is reasonable to charge?

Any other advice from people who teach would be much appreciated.

   Luke D S - Sunday, 07/11/04 03:56:30 EDT

I took a young man into my shop last winter who wanted to learn Blacksmithing. I lost a great deal of time working on projects I needed to get done. In the end the young man (age 20) just stopped coming to my shop. It was a waste of time for me and you never make up for lost time that should be making money.
My advise regarding fees: Charge for each person at least as much as you would make per hour working by yourself.
Just my 2 cents . Harley
P.S On the other hand , I NEVER have a problem making time to share with someone who has allready been bitten by the smithing bug , who has set up their own forge and has dedicated time and effort to the art.
   Harley - Sunday, 07/11/04 08:00:18 EDT

RE: Harley

Thanks for the advice. I can't say for sure how much time and effort they're willing to put in, I'll have to keep that in mind.
   Luke D S - Sunday, 07/11/04 09:34:36 EDT

I think that you have hit the nail on the head,as investing in the forge and tools seperates the motivated from the "do I have tos" . I think we all help the real, motivated, people, as most of us learned about all we know from others who saw the we "had the Bug"
   ptree - Sunday, 07/11/04 09:38:20 EDT

TIM-I work out of a small shop,necessity more than want,my forge shop is 10x12,I read a lot about setup andlistened to what the folks had to say,especially on this site,then I spent a lot of time just standing in the structure measuring and trying to anticipate what I want to be able to do,I was able to build this shed custom and placed doors and windows acoordingly.A side draft forge hood saves floor space,and my forge is semi portable so I can tuck it onder the hood when not in use,I have another 16x 12 shed thats set up for welding and ,the biggest drawback on this arrangementis I seem to spend a lot of time looking for tools Ive set down.Bigger is better if you can ,but you can make a small shop work,I had a lot of fun planning and building my shop,sure wish it was bigger though!!!
   crosspean - Sunday, 07/11/04 09:43:24 EDT

Tim, yup i also work out of 10'x12', fancy that. Storage space is a premium in any case and especially in a shop smaller than the average garage. You already have all the key points listed. Ventilation (windows and doors), mock setup, (may I suggest swinging an 8' 2x4 around after you get your boxes in place)Jack Andrews' book, can't build a big enough shop. Your climate and type of work you plan and what tools you have/hope to have will mean a lot. If you burn coal you'll need to store it. Long lenths of stock will need to be kept somewhere too. Digging a coil spring from the scrap pile can be rough when its covered with 2' of snow and ice. You're willing to build? BUILD. If you need more help just give a few more specifics. Lots of us have to make due. Crosspean, you have a 16x12 welding shop? Sweet. That's gotta be handy.
   Gronk - Sunday, 07/11/04 10:23:03 EDT

Safety - Luke DS
Read the iForge-Anvilfire demo #66 by PawPaw Wilson on safety.

With all the safety equiptment and procedure in place and working, someone WILL get hurt at some point. Lawyers ? sooner is better than later. If you think you will need one, do not invite the student onto the property. You will loose even if you win in court.

As a full time blacksmith, if you take a day off work to teach, either charge shop rates or loose money. Either way you fall a day behind in production.

That said, Harley is right, if the person has shown they are trying, we will make time to share with them.
   - Conner - Sunday, 07/11/04 10:49:01 EDT

I read the Shop Safety for blacksmiths and it is pretty basic compared to the other safety issues I will be addressing- I am a metal sculptor and use blacksmithing as well as modern tools such as a wirefeed. I have my old homework from the welding safety course I took in college.

As for the teaching itself- the idea really gets me excited, there's a lot of things I'd like to show these guys and I'd feel proud if I could bring out their potential.
   Luke D S - Sunday, 07/11/04 11:34:31 EDT

good evening guru i have got 7oo 12mmx30mm slots to be punched through 3mm mild steel i have a no5 fly press could you tell me if it will have the power to punch this thickness of steel cold or hot as i do not want to make the punch and die if it will not could you tell me what tonnage this press will exert thank you david
   david hannah - Sunday, 07/11/04 12:05:50 EDT

Which is better for general use? A coal forge or a gas forge. Which gets hotter. Thank You.
   Andrew Todd - Sunday, 07/11/04 12:22:51 EDT


Which is better depends on what the circumstances are. If you live/work in a subdivision with picky neighbors, then coal is going to be a problem due to the smoke/smell. If you live in the Caribbean (like I do), then coal ain't gonna work 'cuz there ain't any here. There are other places where coal can't be had without expensive shipping, too.

Gas forges are restrictive as to size, since they are, by nature, a semi-closed box. Yes, they can have end ports, side ports, etc, but there is a limit to what you can get into one. It makes you plan your work better because you can't go back and heat the middle 3" of a scroll that is 2 feet in diameter, for example. If you do a lot of work of differing sizes, you'll very likely wind up with more than one gas forge to accomodate the different sizes. Gas forges have linings that really hate borax flux, so you have to take some extra precautions when forge welding with one. Bad gas forges won't reach a welding heat, but the good ones with good burners will. Propane is a heavier-than-air gas, so there are safety considerations such as storing the bottle outside, proper venting, etc.

Good coal will get hotter than gas. You can easily burn up a piece of steel in a coal forge, something that is hard to do in a gas forge. This higher heat can be a blessing and a curse, depending on how well you manage your fire and work. You can stack a lot of stock in a gas forge and let it sit without it burning up, which can be hand in production work. Scaling can be a real problem if you don't have your burners adjusted perfectly, though.

The most flexible fuel is coal or charcoal. You can build any size fire you need, and make it as hot as you want. If you can't use coal, charcoal may work for you. It does take about the same weight of charcoal to make the same heat as mineral coal, but the volume is much greater with charcoal. Charcoal takes a deeper fire, and has more sparks and ash than coal, but it was the fuel used for centuries before coal was discovered. It is still the fuel of choice for many smiths in Asia and a number of bladesmiths worldwide.

Fundamentally, ANY forge is burning carbon/air in some form. Whether coal, coke, charcoal, propane, natural gas or oil, the chemistry still boils down to burning carbon with air. You just choose the form of carbon you prefer, and adjust the container, air source and exhaust to suit that particular form of carbon.

   vicopper - Sunday, 07/11/04 14:17:22 EDT

Shop size: I am in 24x36 and it is too small, primarily because I don't have room for steel storage, WIP, finishing operations and the equipment. One thing I would do for sure in building the next one is to put in skylights. I had them in my first shop but tried to save a few pennies on this one. I am in sunny south Texas but it is still too dark in the shop without the lights on. I have machine tools in the shop in addition to the forging stuff but they really need to be in a cleaner environment. Moving the lathe, mill, phase convertor and arbor press would help a lot with the space issues.
   - HWooldridge - Sunday, 07/11/04 14:20:51 EDT

O.K. folks, time for a refresher on Paw-Paw's wire wheel safety demo. Today it got me, not as bad as it did him, but it knocked the h--l out of me. Was cleaning up a leaf & stem that I made out of 3/8 round. Wheel grabbed it- hit me in the left cheek, small cut to cheek, skined hide off inside my mustache, cut lip on inside, big lump on cheek, sore teeth. This was while wearing a face shield, if I had'nt been wearing it-who knows.

Get the safety gear and wear it.
   Brian C - Sunday, 07/11/04 15:04:11 EDT

If my computer repair person cannot allow customers into her clean, tidy, totally non-threatening shop on account of liability risks, if workman's comp problems prohibit me from hiring some perfectly capable but unlicensed, uninsured artisans to work on my house lest I wind up supporting some poor guy for the rest of his life after he slips and falls off the roof how can anybody even consider letting a civilian step into his blacksmith shop with all those sharp, hot, heavy hazards? Waivers mean nothing. If they get hurt, by the time the lawyers get through with you you will be lucky to be working at Walmart. Fugeddabouddit! Let 'em go to the community college.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Sunday, 07/11/04 17:01:34 EDT

Re: safety with wire wheels.

I've noticed from comments on this noticeboard that a number of people have been bitten by wire wheels. Strangely enough I have a healthy fear of these and will not use a bench mounted wire wheel. I prefer the slightly safer non-woven abrasive wheels that are becoming more popular. They can, of course, still whip a piece of steel from your hands and turn it into a dangerous projectile. It is better to secure smaller objects in a vice and use an angle grinder fitted with a wire brush. Bad things can still happen but the weight of the grinder lessens its effectiveness as a projectile. I always find pieces of wire brush stuck in my clothes, wearing a leather welding jacket plus leather bib and braces helps to lessen the effect.
My favorite piece of kit at the moment is my new safety helmet. Its visor locks down, it cannot be knocked up accidentally. The built in ear defenders also help to ensure it is firmly attached to my head. An added bonus is that I no longer have to search for seperate visor, ear defenders and Kromer cap. I wouldn't operate power tools without it now. I have some grade 1.7 and grade 3 green visors for the helmet but have not used them for forge welding yet.

Be safe.
   Bob G - Sunday, 07/11/04 20:45:17 EDT


The ABANA NEWS photos are all much too dark. That is from working on my Laptop in the motel trying to edit photos. Will adjust all 120 some images and repost tonight.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/11/04 21:20:03 EDT

Punch Capacity: David, To calculate this you take the perimeter, times the thickness to find the area to be sheared.

I will guess that your slots are round ended.

12mm * PI = 37.699mm (half circle on each end equals full circle). Then add the two straight lines.

37.7mm + (2 * 7mm) = 51.7mm

Multiply by the thickness

51.7 * 3 = 155.1mm2

NOW. . the rule of thumb I have for shearing is 30 tons per square inch so we will need to convert mm2 to In2.

155.1mm / 645.16 = .24sqin.

.24 * 30 tons = 7.2 tons to punch mild steel.

As a punch press operation I would round this UP to 10 tons for stripper springs or retraction.

NOWW..... if you look at my capacity chart on FlyPress.com you will see that most of the flypresses are rated APROXIMATELY in tons at .012 to .015" (0.3 to 0.4 mm) travel. OR 1/10th the thickness you are punching. The capacity at 3mm is 1/2 ton.

SO. . the answer is a decided NO. However, a 10 ton or greater punch press is not too hard to come by. A hydraulic bottle jack in a frame could do the job. 700 holes is a lot to punch and is worth setting up right to do the job. Note that if the slot IS round ended, it is a fairly standard shape. Folks that make standard press tooling may have the punch and die you need OR be able to make it cheaped than you can.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/11/04 21:42:04 EDT

Bob G-

Ironically, I was looking at helmets like yours in a catalog last week. The idea sounds much better tonight. :)
   Brian C - Sunday, 07/11/04 22:19:47 EDT

Further to my earlier post (2nd July) about an old blacksmith's hearth/HT oven I had found I can now confirm that it has been safely rescued. I suspect the comments about it being a heat treating oven are correct as I have now discovered what I believe to be the firebricks that lined the oven. Sharpening drill bits would be the likely main use, though I also suspect it was used for various other smithing tasks. Replacing the firebars would be no problem for the quarry as they had their own cuppola furnace and pattern makers. The comments and emails I recieved gave me the necessary motivation to carry just under 100lb of cast iron out of the quarry and there is more left yet! In answer to the most asked question, the remaining anvil base is about 30% bigger than the base of my 4 hundredweight anvil. The quarry did make its own anvils and has 4 or 5 in its museum.
In answer to many requests I have added about 150 photos to my site. I hope it gives an insight into the work of the smith in the quarry and the machinery he had to work with. If anybody can identify the machine in photo no. 28 (page 2 of the site) please let me know.

Many thanks
   Bob G - Sunday, 07/11/04 22:24:52 EDT


and here's the link!
   Bob G - Sunday, 07/11/04 22:25:14 EDT

Yippee! Well, I finally finished my side draft forge hood. And then I installed my 12" galv duct. Soooo, if ya got the duct up, ya gotta light a fire. And if ya light a fire, ya gotta make something. So I did. And boy, does that baby suck, in good way. And using 12" pipe, it doesn't even get that hot. I even went up to the top, where I have a 90 degee elbow, and I could touch that without burning my hand. Not bad. I'm a happy boy. Now, to start to arrange my anvil and set my post vise. I already built a nice stand for the vise, now I have to drill and anchor it wherever in the floor. I've also got a homebuilt gas forge to take into consideration on my arrangements, but having the coal forge operational is a major accomplishment.

Luke, I too wonder about the liability deal. I'd like to teach others, but don't want to take those risks. And also, one thing I learned in the past, you do need to charge. I gave free karate lessons to my fellow airmen for awhile, but because they were free, no one was obligated to come and soon lost interest. However, if you pay for something, you go to get your moneys worth. Which means you don't schedule a training session just to have no one show up.
   Bob H - Sunday, 07/11/04 22:41:50 EDT

Small Shop, Build your door openings for an "out swing" or sliding barn doors, in a small shop the floor space covered by the arc of an in-swing door can be almost 10sq feet by the time you figure space for your door and clearance for your butt ;) Also, think about the placement of windows and doors, and cut table, in my small wood shop the chop saw and radial arm saw is on the wall between the door and window on each end, I can cut 20' lumber in the 12' wide shop.
   Habu - Sunday, 07/11/04 22:52:16 EDT

Bob G.

In several of the pictures you can see square or rectangular opening that you describe as tunnels. Where to they run, and what were they used for?

That place would be a dream to work in!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 07/11/04 23:08:57 EDT

Bog G,

Thanks so much for posting those photos! They gave me a view into a world totally unlike my own, and expanded my horizons some. Fascinating!

That piece of unkown machinery does look like it might have been a pneumatic swage for truing/shaping drill shanks or something along that line. The part with the two springs reminds me of a pneumatic slider valve, and the top piece looks like it may have been designed to reciprocate on the central shaft. Further, deponent sayeth not, because he doesn't know anything. (grin)
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/11/04 23:22:52 EDT

Wire wheels:

The simplest way to make a wire wheel safer is to slow it down. Instead of using a wire wheel on a grinder motor shaft, mount it on an arbor driven by a belt. You can configure the pulleys to get the speed that works without the high rim speed and you'll have a much more controllable wheel. A slower wheel that you can lean into is better than a high speed one that snatches parts and flings them in your face.


I do the same sort of thing in my shop, where the cutting table is only 25' long. There's a hole in the wall to the next room so long sticks can be poked through to let me cut a foot off a full stick.
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/11/04 23:29:10 EDT

Paw Paw.

Most of the tunnels were either access tunnels or for the narrow gauge railway. They allowed slate to be taken to the inclines for lowering. They sometimes appear in the middle of rockfaces as the quarry is worked deeper. The link below is an arial photo, the tunnels terminate in the pits to the left (3rd one up). The smithy can be seen at the top.
   Bob G - Sunday, 07/11/04 23:41:04 EDT

hmmmm, one definite thing I am getting from yall is that the teaching experience is very rewarding.

Someone suggested that I not charge because I haven't built up a reputation and they're just high school seniors, but on the other hand if they are paying then there's an incentive to get their money's worth. I think charging a small fee would be the way to go.

Liability... I definitely need to talk to a lawyer, then once I have my ducks in a row and I still want to go through with it, talk to my insurance agent.

thanks to everyone for the input ;)
   Luke D S - Monday, 07/12/04 00:02:02 EDT

I had a query to throw around the collective genies on this forum. I won’t go in to much detail because if you don’t know what I’m referring to, the odds are you can’t help. Long story short, I with the guidance of my mentor Ron Reil am trying to perfect the concept of the variable chamber forge able to reach a forge weld temp. In my planning of this project I have run into one huge decision, whether to have a top or bottom mounted burner system. I have used a top mounted burner system for years now on my pipe forge and have a working knowledge of this type of mounting. But on the other hand I have no experience working with a bottom-mounted burner. My question is; have any of you used a burner mounted in this fashion? And if so, wear you able to achieve a hot spot within welding temp?

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Kevin Brown
   Kevin Brown - Monday, 07/12/04 00:53:51 EDT

I'd guess that the burners would have an easier time of it down lower because they wouldn't have to fight a tendancy to thermosyphon and, heat rises.
On the other hand , the work sits down there and you wouldn't want it obstructing the burner.
Evenly distributed heat, rather than a hot spot would seem desirable, and you should be able to make welding temp with good burners and insulation.
If i were you, I'd listen to Ron and ignore me.

   - Pete F - Monday, 07/12/04 04:57:33 EDT

Variable chamber forge:

Why not imitate Ron Reil's design? It is proven and obviously works extremely well for him. I am not exactly sure what you mean by "variable forge chamber", but his is variable and appears to work *very* well with a top-mounted burner setup. The only problem with top-mounted burners (or basically any burners angled above the horizontal) is, as Pete sort of mentioned, hot air rising into burners. Pete mentions this in connection with running burners but in my experience it's usually only a problem when the burner is off and you have another burner running. This isn't a big deal; it's easy enough to snip some sheet-metal full-bore chokes for the inactive burners and drop them on when the burners aren't running. Anyway, enough of my rambling. I would, however, note that with a bottom-mounted burner, you lose that much area on the bottom AND have the potential of hot pieces of steel or scale FALLING INTO YOUR BURNER! Danger danger! I wish you the best of luck with your forge. Please come back and let us know how it goes.

Lots of lightning, humid, and cool in Kansas City, Kansas.
   T. Gold - Monday, 07/12/04 05:50:01 EDT

Bob G.:

Wow; I just went through 190+ photos and all I can say is you did a wonderful job of recording the site. If you added a scale for reference and had a map for locations, you'd have a great piece of industrial archeology.

Now that we can see it, I think the tuyere was designed specifically for working long pieces, like drill bits and rods. The oversize anvil base (and thus a VERY large anvil) would indicate a desire to efficiently work long pieces. I've seen similar set-ups for heat treating swords, where you want to uniformly heat and quench the entire length, but it would certainly lend itself to straightening operation.

The quarrymen's clothes still hanging from the pegs was particularly poignant. It's like an entire world of work and culture was lost in 1969; and it might as well have been 969 for all that remains. Thank you for showing us what used to be.

Awaiting the rain on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/12/04 09:36:07 EDT

Bob G:

Is this the place?


It shows the blacksmith's hearth at:


and some mounts for tool on a wall at:

http://www.gtj.org.uk/item.php?lang=en&id=4657&t=1 .
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/12/04 09:48:08 EDT

Work Cloths Hanging: I have been in several old factories where they just closed the door one day. It is kind of erie, everything left where it was the previous day sometimes including lunch pails and the day's workorders posted the previous night. Whe big businesses shut down, they SHUT DOWN.

On the other hand, hold an auction to sell off the equipment and machinery and in a matter of a few hours even the trash cans, files and personal belongings disappear. Nothing left except the dust on the floor and spiderwebs on the walls. . .
   - guru - Monday, 07/12/04 12:22:51 EDT

NEWS PHOTOS: They are all a bit grainy from the extreame outdoor light but I think I have the light balance right now. VIcopper says they are too light. I may go back through the full size images and try again as the ones I adjusted were the small posted images. .

A few more are coming. . and I am searching for page 26. . apparently it is on my lap top and didn't make it.

   - guru - Monday, 07/12/04 12:25:23 EDT


The links you posted are for the main workshop which is down by the lakes you can see in some of my photos. The photo of the hearth is just one of four in the same room. The bellows and all the machinery were powered by the waterwheel. The workshop I visited was about 1000' up the hillside and probably just did local repairs and drill sharpening. I'm trying to arrange an interview with the museum manager so that I can photograph the main blacksmith's shop for an article that I want to write. That workshop still has a lathe with a 20' bed and a 5 tonne powerhamer. All the tools and anvils were made at the workshop, it still gets used for demonstrations occasionally.
   Bob G - Monday, 07/12/04 12:43:48 EDT

Bob G:

Thanks for clearing that up; I'm the sort that really does need a map. What a fascinating place! You'll have to keep us posted.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/12/04 13:21:04 EDT

Captive screwbox!
I have a legvise where the screwbox wiggles but won't come out. Is there some trick to removing them or could this one have been sawged into place?
   Roy - Monday, 07/12/04 14:07:26 EDT


The screwboxes on post vises usually have a key on the side of them to prevent them from rotating. That key engages a slot in the back of the back leg; sometimes that "slot" is little more than the "v" where the hole for the screwbox was slitted and drifted. If someone has attempted to turn the screwbox forcibly, that key could be jammed in the hole. Once you get the front leg removed and the screw out, clean out all the old grease and crud inside the hole and see if you can spot the key. If you can see it, you should be able to get it lined up to let the screwbox free.
   vicopper - Monday, 07/12/04 14:47:44 EDT

One of the most poignant things (for me) about the photos that Bob posted was the realization that that quarry closed down AFTER I had graduated from high school. In the photos, it looks as if, like Atli said, it could have closed in 969. It is a sad state of affairs when things that happened when I was in college look ancient; I am NOT that old! (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 07/12/04 14:52:01 EDT

What is the cheapest place to get a Beverly shear?
   arlo - Monday, 07/12/04 15:06:08 EDT


Probably the cheapest is the Harbor Freight copy of the Beverly shear. They call it a throatless shear. The catalog number is: 38413-3VGA It is currently selling for $94.99
   Paw Paw - Monday, 07/12/04 15:51:42 EDT

Thank you Vicopper,
I can indeed see the key at the top vee of the, as you called it, "slitted and drifted" (almond shaped) hole. But while the box is loose without much debris around it, it still won't come out! I thought that there might be some trick like a quarter turn but it won't turn more than a few degrees. It would just be nice to get it out so I can wash out the threads occasionally.
   Roy - Monday, 07/12/04 15:56:06 EDT


Soak the drift and shaft with B'laster from your nearest NAPA store. Then use a long drift punch, preferably brass and see if you can tap the key loose.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 07/12/04 16:11:03 EDT

Anyone know if you can use clear acrilic over wax?
I am making towel bars and i dont think just wax will be enough.
   - Hayes - Monday, 07/12/04 16:53:16 EDT

I am currious as to where to find any pictures of the proper colors of steel to determine optimum malability and also pictures of how to determine the proper colors of tempering. please i would like to find these, because i am just starting into blacksmithing, but am finding little in my quest wich is very frustraiting, because of the lack of blacksmiths in my area. please is anyone has some links i would be honored to here from you morgangoble@sbcglobal.net
   Morgan - Monday, 07/12/04 16:59:21 EDT

I am an architect. I have an exterior, solid wood door that has 3/4" deep rectagonal panels in it. I want to cover it in a metal foil that is the matte, medium grey color of bronze or zinc. Is there such a thing as bronze foil? Or, can I use a copper or composition gold and chemically treat it in a controlled way to get the desired color, and then seal? Thanks!
   Suzan - Monday, 07/12/04 17:35:30 EDT

Hot burners when not being used.
If you place something in the top bore ( air inlet) of a none running burner much of the heat will not go up that tube. As it is no longer a chimney
   Ralph - Monday, 07/12/04 18:22:08 EDT

PH question:

I have a 35# or so kerrihard with very flat dies, and I was hoping to buy something to allow me to more easily draw out material.

Ideally I would get a new set of dies, but I am not sure how to go about this, and am somewhat concerned about the cost.

Kayne offeres 2 products that look like they would do what I need: the OC Drawing Swage, and the Large fuller in the texturing section.

Given these options, (new dies, Drawing swage, large fuller) which would likely be best for my general drawing needs?


   -JIM - Monday, 07/12/04 19:23:56 EDT

Bob G-- Maybe I missed it but can you tell us where this beautiful, fascinating quarry is, in case I am lucky enough to get back to England? Wales? Near where? Many thanks for that info-- and for posting all those great snaps!
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Monday, 07/12/04 20:19:21 EDT

Hayes: don't put anything on top of wax. You can put wax on top of anything. Remember those two finishing rules and you won't be too angry at wax!
   Alan-L - Monday, 07/12/04 20:24:05 EDT

Morgan, go to the home page here at Anvilfire. Scroll down to "Blacksmithing in the 21st Century". There is a temper color chart there as well as more information than you can probably use....but should!
   quenchcrack - Monday, 07/12/04 20:34:32 EDT


It's in North Wales and was once one of the 2 largest slate quarries in the world which allowed it to run its own foundry and railway. Now its my main source of carbon steel and heavy mild steel section :-) If your ever passing I'd be happy to give a tour. If you want a map go to www.streetmap.co.uk and enter this UK gridref. 259750,360250
   Bob G - Monday, 07/12/04 20:53:13 EDT

re: parts bigger than the shop

I once visited a shop that made railroad track switches they had a planner mill that was use to shape switch points, when they did large ie #20 points, the table travel was longer then the building, so there was a mini automatic garage door at each end that would open to allow maximum table travel, most of the year the doors were just left open when the planner mill was in use. But in cold weather they would open and close as needed.
   - Hudson - Monday, 07/12/04 22:30:13 EDT

Hi...Just an information....I bought a 100 pounds power hammer,It is a Murco, from past info this Murco would be like Moloch or Murry or Mayer. It was made in 1958.
Size is 80" height, 54" depth and 28" width..Now I have to transport it at my shop....
Whath is the weight of this "machine" ???
Any recommandation to move it. Any particular place to strap it in order to lift it.
Finally...presently the motor is a 550Volts, I have to replaced it with a 220Volt. How many H.P. and R.P.M.should I used???
Thanks to help me .....
André from Montréal....
   André Boudreault - Monday, 07/12/04 23:12:08 EDT


The short answer to your question is, "No." There is no way that any composition product (made of aluminum) will be weatherproof enough for exterior use. You can get brass shim stock in very thin gauges, but it will still be too heavy to do what you want, and it will be hard rolled. Another problem is that no clear sealer coat works well enough to protect a bare metal surface unless that metal has been physically or chemically prepared to accept a finish. And even then, clear is nowhere near as durable as pigmented paint.

If I were faced with your situation, I would use paint. There are several manufacturers of good quality automotive paints that can match any metallic finish you want. Automotive paint is expected to last ten or more years with total exposure to the elements, so it will do what you want at a reasonable price. Any good automotive body shop can match whatever sample piece you bring them; color, finish, lustre are all do-able.

Hollywood does this all the time form movies. Did you really think those massive bronze bank vault doors you see in movies are really bronze? Nope...foamcore board painted to look EXACTLY like bronze.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/13/04 00:19:20 EDT


There are two possible alternatives to automotive paint that MAY work. Bronzing powders, available from a sign painter's supply house could be applied over oil sizing and then clear coated. This might last a few years. I used it on lots of signs that held up well years ago. With the development of the newer synthetic automotive finishes, I switched to them because of the much better results.

The other is a product called Gilder's Paste. It is a pigmented metallic medium that is used to color metal, and comes in a wide variety of colors. I have heard good things about it, but have never personally used it.

   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/13/04 00:24:35 EDT

Bob G-- Again, many thanks! And, who knows, I may some day take you up on your kind invitation!
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Tuesday, 07/13/04 00:40:04 EDT


there is a paint that has metal powder in it and can be patinaed, they have a pewter coloring that might work as well as bronze. check out this link.
   Luke D S - Tuesday, 07/13/04 01:10:18 EDT

hi, i was wondering how you can remove the discoloring of metal when you heat it. we heated a piece of metal and it dicolored kinda black and yellow ish. ok thank you.
   jacob - Tuesday, 07/13/04 01:24:51 EDT

nevermind we got it off with some polish stuff.
   jacob - Tuesday, 07/13/04 01:33:46 EDT

Archetictural Metal Finishes: Suzan, There are places that make prefinished sheets of steel that are plated with various metals. They often come in the standard ASTM archetictural hardware finishes (like door knobs and railings). These include brushed and flat bronze, brushed and flat pewter. The bronzes vary from bright brass to soft red bronze with many shades in beteen. All have a standard ASTM number. Most of these sheets are not foil but 28ga or so sheet designed for manufacturing appliance enclosures and various things. It will not conform to a raised panel.

The other suggestions above are the best. If looking for a very long lasting metalic look the wood will need to be well sealed such as with epoxy or lacquer sealers then hand finished very smooth (primed and sanded). Then the finely finished surface gilded (either real or paint) and finished as desired. Always have samples made on similar wood before proceeding. If parts of the door are to be left wood finished they should be sealed first.

Note that for a truely beautiful and honest brass/bronze finish it is common to use gold leaf (the real thing) then lacquer over it to optain the desired color and finish. In Europe this is a common method of finishing various items and a bit of an art.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/13/04 09:15:00 EDT

Off-line I'm having phone dificultities today (one line out via lightening) so I will be in and out. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/13/04 09:16:10 EDT


Borax problems

Been absent for a long while. Drs told me I had a heart condition, hurt like hell even to breath at one stage. Turns out it is a type of arthritis in one of my rib joints...haha.

During my six months absence from blacksmithing some of my forge welded tool handles developed a white residue. I use borax as a flux. If this happens on a client's table or chandelier...

How does one get rid of borax after doing a weld?

PS, my email is not working
   Tiaan - Tuesday, 07/13/04 10:06:53 EDT


Either Sand blast the parts, or remove the Borax Chemically. I can't answer the question from a chemical point of view, but sandblasting not only removes the Borax, but it also leaves the work with a very slightly rough surface, (called tooth for some reason) that helps paint to grab better.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 07/13/04 10:27:59 EDT

Tiann, To rid yourself of borax residue, you can also reheat to at least an orange and wire brush the heck out of the piece.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/13/04 10:37:49 EDT

Borax is also known as boracic acid? If it is acidic maybe one can try baking soda and a brush?
   Tiaan - Tuesday, 07/13/04 10:42:56 EDT

Good to see you are back Tiaan! I have had no success using a neutralization for it still leaves the residue. I watched Frank Turley do what he just described, wire brush well as the last step to completion of that stage and it cleans up fine. Borax has some stuff other than just Boric Acid.
   Mills - Tuesday, 07/13/04 10:50:28 EDT

Tried a few time to subscribe to the slack-tub pub. its been some weeks now. HELLO?
   e_mike - Tuesday, 07/13/04 14:01:54 EDT

Keeping Bronze Bronze:

There are, of course, two other methods of keeping bronze panels shined up:

1) Hand a can of Brasso and large supply of rags to housekeeper, servant or child and pay them by the job, on completion.

2) If you're the government in the early 21st century at a large, but un-named government building built in the 1930s (where Mom used to work, come to think of it), have several bidders compete on contract. The winner comes in and cleans and coats two dozen+ bronze doors. Coating gives way, and you have contractor re-clean and recoat doors with the right stuff!

If I remember tonight I'll check my NPS historic preservation metals handbook and see what it is that we use on the statues around town between their periodic cleanings. (Might be useful information for the rest of the crew, too.)

As Jock has pointed out in the past, we can't count on folks these days doing even routine maintenance; but if your clients are at the higher end of the spectrum, they may be able to hire out the service.

Hazy and humid on the banks of the Potomac; good rain last night, and I hear they get a foot in central New Jersey! I have to polish Mom’s English brass fireplace fender tonight before my sister hauls it off to the antique dealers. Ah well… last time for everything.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/13/04 14:24:04 EDT

Removing Borax: No, borax is not boric acid it is sodium tetraborate. However, some flux miztures contain boric acid. See our FAQ on the subject.

Boric acid is sold for a variety of purposes including to bathe in (some medicinal property) AND is used in boilers.

Removing cooked borax it IS a bitch. It re-hydrates VERY slowly. If caught in crevices it will be coming out for YEARS. I have the most problems with brazed joints. The white crystals expand and burst through paint making a mess. I was once told that boric acid will help remove it but I am not sure. If heated to above a forge welding heat it boils and gases off. Soaking the piece in water for a week or so may disolve most of the borax out.

The best thing is to be sure you use good joint design so that the borax is not trapped. Then clean, clean, clean (and or soak).

Line 2 still not working. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/13/04 15:24:08 EDT

you help is greatly appriciated alan-L and again thank again
   Morgan - Tuesday, 07/13/04 16:35:37 EDT

   Morgan - Tuesday, 07/13/04 16:46:08 EDT

I primaraly work with copper in my work and have some questions I was wondering if you could help with.
1. I am looking for some type of repeating hammer (plenisher sp.) so I could do more unique work with sheet copper and brass. Do you know of a place where I can find one used or new?
2. Since I work with round copper, I have become rather good at grinding down the ends of the copper tubes for connecting at various angles. Is there a jig out there that will make these connections a bit easier to make.
3. Do you know of any company that is makeing stamped leaves. I make my own but demand is such that I can not keep up with the demand. Any ideas of people out there that manufacture copper stamped leaves?

Thanks for you time
Hansen by Design
   Shane - Tuesday, 07/13/04 17:31:48 EDT

e mike i've had that problem too.can anyone help us?
   - John S - Tuesday, 07/13/04 18:16:50 EDT

Shane, Jere Kirkpatrick, www.saber.net , was doing some cool work with an air chisel mounted to a stand. might contact him. it was pretty loud, but he was planishing like crazy with it.
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 07/13/04 18:33:08 EDT


Good to hear it wasn't your heart! As for the borax, boiling water will remove it. It takes a half hour to an hour, but it will do the job. Toss some vinegar in the water and it cleans scale, too. If the piece is too big to just toss in the pot, then you might look into steam cleaning. The real, live steam kind, not the car-wash gimmick thing.

   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/13/04 19:23:54 EDT


What you are describing is called a Pullmax, from the company name of one big manufacturer of industrial planishing hammers. There are others as well, and you can make your own, too. For relatively soft copper, you might look into making one like the hot-rod guys do from a pneumatic chipping hammer. Check out the metalweb forums for more info.

Yes, there are jigs made for using with annular cutters or hole saws on a drill press. I think Harbor Freight even sells one. You'll need to have the correct sized cutter for each diameter of tubing you're going to cut. Look under "tubing notcher".

Architectural Metalwork and King Metals both sell leaves, but I don't know if they sell stamped copper ones. You could look them up and ask, I suppose.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/13/04 19:28:58 EDT

Tiaan, Welcome back! We are all glad that it was not your heart!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 07/13/04 20:15:33 EDT

Suzan-- why not just go to a sheet metal/ductwork/HVAC outfit and buy a roll of flashing tin, 10 feet by 36 inches, cut to fit, nail or bolt it with appropriately decorative fittings atop the outside of the door, on which you have previously filled in the panels with suitable material, and let it sit outside for a while? It'll weather in to just what you want. Cost you $30 plus the nails/bolts-- plus demurrage, of course. Never forget the demurrage!
   Goods Inward - Tuesday, 07/13/04 21:18:53 EDT

Iwould like some info on building a Junk Yard Power hammer. Thanks
   - butcher - Tuesday, 07/13/04 21:52:48 EDT

I would like some info on building a Junk Yard Power Hammer. Thanks
   - butcher - Tuesday, 07/13/04 21:54:46 EDT

I would like info on building a Junk Yard Power Hammer Thanks
   butcher - Tuesday, 07/13/04 21:57:24 EDT

Thanks all for the responses. I will post some pics of my new forge when it is complete. I would estimate time of completion to be six weeks out, given I have enough free time from now to then.

Thanks again……

   Kevin Brown - Tuesday, 07/13/04 23:36:30 EDT

I just have a quick question for you. I'm just starting to look into blacksmithing as an activity, I would really like to make kitchen knives. I have been a chef for several years and been around the products of several different mass-market knife makers and would like to try it myself. My biggest question is where do you get the metals that you work with? Are there suppliers that are geared towards craftspeople? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
   Brian Wiley - Wednesday, 07/14/04 01:45:32 EDT

kitchen knives:
Ok, I could be putting my foot into my mouth, but I am thinking that since you are just starting you do not know what is what as far as making stuff form iron/steel is like.
Metal working is not that hard in general. BUT it does take some effort to learn and learn it properly. On top of this making knives is a rather specialized field. Using cooking as an example, it would be like the kid who was hired yesterday at a fast food place as a fry cook, and having him try to prepare a 10 course gourmet dinner for 20 people.

I would make several suggestions First read the getting started section here on anvilfire. Also take a welding class at a local Community College or trade school ( even if it is not what you paln on doing, it will teach how to use various tools and the safety issues with same) See if you can locate a local smithing group ( betting there is one very near you) and attend events and perhaps classes with them to learn general smithing. Then practise and slowly move into the knife making. Not saying you can not just jump in, but I think you will waste much less time and money doing it in a simular way as I have described.
Metals can be ordered on line from places such as here on anvilfire or McMaster-Carr.
Please do read the getting started and also feel free to ask questions
   Ralph - Wednesday, 07/14/04 02:25:15 EDT

Butcher, re JYH.
Look at the hammer page on anvilfire.
The whole deal with JYH's is what you have on hand and what you can scrounge. Then design and build one. There are really no plans on these as what I have in my junk pile will be different than what you have availible.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 07/14/04 02:26:45 EDT

Brian Wiley: Here's the web address for Koval knifemaking supplies. They'll have your steels and any other misc supplies you might need. I don't know how much you know about steels, but I reccomend their O1 or 1095, the rest of their steels are fairly difficult to heat treat in a forge.

   AwP - Wednesday, 07/14/04 02:29:00 EDT

Anybody can help me with the weight of the power hammer(question asked a few days ago)I am moving it this friday and we have to decide the size of the lift and trailer we will rent. Any rough idea!!!! Help me with this...It is a Murco 100 pounds(80"x54"x28") but is just as a Moloch or Murry or Mayer
(Possibly the weight of a little giant 100# would be mostly the same...this may gave me an idea)
   André Boudreault - Wednesday, 07/14/04 08:12:01 EDT

Those of you trying to register for the Pub: The Guru has to do all those entries by hand, and has been very busy with other things lately. Don't despair, it'll happen one of these days! You could help by actually joining anvilfire, and thus helping to pay for this service, you know...
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 07/14/04 08:16:02 EDT

Andre: A LG 100 lb will go 2500 lbs, use a double axle 5 or 7000 lb gross trailer, fairly standard stuf around here, and something to lift with rated for 3000 or better.

:) now those that really know will start coming out to let all and sundry know that a LG 100 lb will weigh 2018 lb and 3 oz without grease which it should have if it has been properly maintained and if it hasn't then you will need to ....
   Mills - Wednesday, 07/14/04 08:44:42 EDT

Name Correction On the article about the Czech smiths at the ABANA conference I had the names of Daniel Cerny and Gert Bruyninx switched. It is fixed now. There is also a link to the organization that sponsored them and Daniel's web site.

Robert Dulfer return mail to rozmberk.org bounced.

Hammer Weight: The Moloch and Murry hammers were slightly heavier than the Little Giant (from my observations of the Moloch frames). From our Little Giant spec sheet on our Power hammer Page we find that a late 100 pound LG weighed 3,000 to 3,300 pounds. My early 100 weighed 3,200 without the motor. So I would guess 3,200 to 3,800 pounds. A little under two tons. I hauled mine home in a heavy duty 3/4 ton Dodge pickup truck - your milage may vary.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/14/04 08:54:09 EDT

Borax question

Thanks guys. Also thanks for the welcome back, been missing the Q&A.

I guess it is down to good joint design as Guru said, getting the joint very hot and wirebrushing the heck out of it, then soaking in hot water...come to think of it, one of the local blacksmiths, Paul Mikula, (we are only about ten in the whole country!) has a deep jacuzzi sized tank sunk into the ground filled with HCl (Hydrochloric acid) of about 15% concentration. He has a nice crane with a sling, he just lowers up to six seater table sized objects into the pool and it comes out scaleless, nicely etched, almost a sand blast finish. One of these days I'll get myself one of those!
   Tiaan - Wednesday, 07/14/04 09:15:06 EDT

Power Planninshing: Shane, first I recommend that you do LOTS of hand plannishing. It is a skill that when properly learned can produce amazing results. I have seen armourers produce a surface by hand that could go directly to the buffing wheel.

Pullmax is a large hydraulic industrial machine that will shape everything from light aluminium sheet to steel plate. They were used largely in the mid 20th century air craft industry.

Pettingell Hammers were a mechanical planishing hammer used in the aircraft industry in the earlier part of the 20th century and are still used by custom air craft builders. See our Power hammer page.

Ted Banning built a JYH planishing hammer using a 1 ton punch press as the drive with springs to allow variable throw. I have photos for the JYH page which I will try to find and get posted today.

Tube End Prep: In thin wall tubing you can buy special dies that fit the tube ends (must be supported inside) that cut the tubing using a press or punch press. Standard angles are available. These are expensive but if you are in high production they will quickly pay for them selves.

Stamped Leaves: The various architectural component suppliers like King and Braun sell all kinds of stamped and formed leaves. They are made in 28ga steel in French Baroque patterns. These light thin leaves are avoided by most smiths and should never be used on outdoor work as they are easy to damage and rust out.

If you need leaves in copper then you may need to make your own. This is a case for custom dies and diesets (see our punch press series on the iForge page). Forming dies for copper can be wood. Half the die is hand carved and the other half is cast against the first using epoxy with a shim layer or hand formed piece to represent the metal thickness. A die carved in rock maple would last for many thousands of parts, more if coated with epoxy. A die carved in mahogany would do hundreds or a thousand parts without showing excessive wear.

I would recommend blanking by laser or water-jet cutting unless you are talking about tens of thousands of pieces. Then a custom die set may be cost effective. These new computer guided cutting systems have largely replaced die cutting in low and medium production situations.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/14/04 09:36:18 EDT

Very nice coverage of ABANA in the News, guru. Thanks and thanks to Big Blue too. You realize the beating I'm gonna get when Sweetie-pie sees the Big Blue in the corner of the living room. But Honey, it matches the curtains. (Smack)
   Gronk - Wednesday, 07/14/04 11:00:46 EDT

OOOPS. My apologies. That should be Big Blu. No E.
   Gronk - Wednesday, 07/14/04 11:08:52 EDT

SOFA, Quad State: Will someone, preferably from SOFA please post information about the event on our Calendar of Events page. I would do it but I prefer someone from the organization to do it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/14/04 11:19:53 EDT

Gronk, some things just don't quite fit under the Christmas tree. . . dies would fit. . ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/14/04 11:22:43 EDT

how good is a peice of rail road track for a first anvil?
   - John S - Wednesday, 07/14/04 13:18:14 EDT

John S.: Marginally better than nothing for medium to large work, okay for very small work. A big hunk of thick plate stood on edge is much better.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 07/14/04 13:24:35 EDT


Tell her it matches her eyes. You'll be hammered either way!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/14/04 14:31:31 EDT

Anybody want to give me more information about Willem Yonkers demonstrating making a Viking fire grate? He’s pounding on some heavy stock there, and I’m curious about what he came up with.

Meanwhile, another line of heavy thunderstorms is heading east; looks like another messy night on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/14/04 14:41:39 EDT

I bought a large shear that is unlike any I have seen. It has a circular blade that closes and rottates and and a kind of pocket blade. It has a handle that is 5 feet long. It does not shear mild steel good at all. Could it be a cable cutter? Could I send you a picture of it? It has some printing on the top but I can not read it. Thanks.Don Agostine
   Don Agostine - Wednesday, 07/14/04 17:29:00 EDT

Coping Tube Ends: Years ago I bought a tube end notcher from a company called Williams Low Buck Tools. He is still in business. The thing is really simple, was inexpensive, and allows you to cut variable notches for different angles. It does require a small amount of eye hand coordination though. It might be worth a google search to check out the idea even though it's intended ofr a minimum tube size of 1".
   SGensh - Wednesday, 07/14/04 18:07:17 EDT

Don, Sure, I will give it a shot. There have been a bunch of sheet metal cutting machines that used roller shears.

NEWS, Bruce, that was one of those demos that took DAYS. . I have a disk coming of someone else's photos, might be there.

I just posted info on the Rat Hole Forge anvils in the NEWS (page 12). No prices on their flier or ad. I hate that. Folks that had asked said they were high for a cast anvil.

   - guru - Wednesday, 07/14/04 18:30:10 EDT

RR Rail Anvil: Rail's narrow web LOOKS to be anvil material to many but it is not. The narrow web makes a springy bouncy anvil for all but the lightest work. See our iForge demo on tools from RR Rail for a better way to use rail.

small anvil from rail

Very heavy rail is 140 pounds per YARD (36") or 70kg/m. A two foot long piece would be less than 100 pounds IF from heavy rail. A foot long piece of common rail is usualy about 30 pounds. Not much of an anvil and the mass is still spread out too much. Anvils need to be compact mass.

   - guru - Wednesday, 07/14/04 18:47:28 EDT

Speaking of anvils, I am in the p[rocess of ordering a new one. The 335# Euroanvil from Stephen Feinstein. The price is very right, particularly considering the rising cost of steel worldwide, and many people have given very favorable reports on this anvil.

I can say that Stephen is very good to work with. I e-mailed himn last night, to get a shipping quote, and got a reply with (VERY reasonable) quote today. That's the kind of service I like!

I told Stephen in my email, and I'll tell everyone here: One BIG reason I'm buying his anvil is because he advertises on Anvilfire. I support those who support us. If YOU want to support us, JOIN CSI!
   vicopper - Wednesday, 07/14/04 19:53:33 EDT

I saw the finished peice the Wille Jonkers made. It was a very nice fire dog. It was a winged dragon. It did take a long time, but I did not hang arond for that demo. I spent almost all my time watching Uri Hoffi TEACH. I caught about 20% of the power hammer techniques at each demo. (about par for me) so I watched each demo three times! I think that I learned enough to make it worth the price of the Conference.
I would love to be able to be 20, single and his apprentice for a year or three!
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/14/04 21:30:27 EDT

The line of thunderstorms that came thru here last night packed 80 mph winds! over 90,000 homes out of power in Louisville, and I have more firewood this morning to remove.
Boy have we had a rough weather season so far this year.
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/14/04 21:50:11 EDT

Giving up my electric blowered railroad forge I aquired in 1972. Going to perminent brick forge. I am using a good commerical morter mix for my brick chimmeny which is perminant. However, I would like a formula for a weak morter mix on the table of the forge. Expect to make some changes in the near future and want to be able to break out the table without destroying the bricks. Heard of Menonite Mud and mixes of clay, ash, and lime but don't know any recommended mix ratios. Need formula please and/or any suggestions. All are appreciated.
   Steve - Wednesday, 07/14/04 23:23:55 EDT


For a weak mortar, use a mixture of sand, Portland cement and white lime. About 5 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement and 1/2 part white lime. You should still be able to break the bricks apart later, but you'll find that the cleanup isn't that much fun. The problem is, if it sets hard enough to hold together, then it's going to be that same way later when you try to take it apart.

If you only want to hold the bricks in place, but not have any true structural strength, then you can set them with a mix of clay and slaked lime plaster. That is where you would use the bentonite (not Mennonite) clay. Bentonite expands when wet and shrinks when dry, so as it sets it will tend to shrink back and make a weaker bond. The slaked lime is nowhere near as strong as Portland cement, but it will last a long time. It doesn't have high adhesion to non-porous surfaces, though.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 07/14/04 23:47:04 EDT

Rat Hole Anvil

I took a look at the additional info posted about this anvil and I think I can explain the higher prices Jock heard about. First-it is made from 4340. The anvils coming in from Euroanvils are made from a high hardenability version of 1030 IIRC, and are flame hardened. This produces a fine anvil with a significantly lower material cost. Second, the Rat Hole is made in the US and, as with many things these days, domestic production results in increased prices. It would be interesting to see an actual price on this anvil and compare it to the Nimba.

   Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 07/15/04 07:30:37 EDT

The potential tornado that the Doppler radar spotted did not fully develop last night. Still, some of our neighbors lost power, my wif lost her cable channels (gotta set priorities here ;-) and one of my neighbors/co-workers had a barn blown off its foundations. Winds may have exceeded 60 knots in some places, but we were dealt with lightly, for which I'm always grateful.

Thanks for the information on Rat Hole Anvils; I've seen them in Anvil's Ring, but the lack of price is somewhat grating. Nice shape, looks good for armoring (the narrow flat horn is handy for backing rivets in small places from time-to-time) and has a name that perversely appeals to me, but I'm pretty sure it's out of reach.

Lots of neat new information about the ABANA conference on the News pages, too; sorry I couldn't make it, but considering how thin I've found myself stretched at work/farm/church/longship/scholarship/home it's probably just as well. With the next one in Washington State, I guess that gives me four or six (or eight) years to save-up for when it does get within striking range again. Well, the leave I save can possibly be applied to projects around here like the RJYH (where are those drawings?), the community art show at North End Gallery (they need more ironwork) and the GIB (maybe by THIS Christmas) and the half-dozen other projects stalled by clearing out the parent's house for sale and bouncing about the country for the NPS and the DoI.

Sunny, cool and bright on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/15/04 08:37:20 EDT

Rat Hole Anvil Prices: I called Steve at Rat Hole Forge and got prices. The 250 is $1,220 and the 425 $1,750.

4.88/lb and 4.11/lb This is comprable with Nimba anvils (page off-line this AM so I could not check).

Compared to the Czech made Euroanvils at $1,100 for the 500+ and 335 lb. at $735 for 2.19/lb. But I predict that these prices are going to go up as steel is on the increase world wide. Rat Hole just had a $40 per anvil increase.

Peddinghaus forged steel anvils are selling for $4.40 and $5/lb for the larger sizes. But this is a forged anvil, not cast.

Some of these price differences are largely in finish. Nimba is the best finished new anvil I have seen, followed closely by Rat Hole. Peddinghaus HAS had good and bad finishes and are said to be improving. All the American made farriers' anvils are well finished. The cheap cast European anvils coming from the Czech Republic are a good anvil but the casting finish quality is poor. There is often surface porosity on the sides of the horn that will not clean up. So, to some degree you get what you pay for.

However none compare to the $3000 asking price of $6.5/lb for the 200+kg Habberman anvil sold by Tom Clark. The only other anvils in this price range are the smallest forged Peddinghaus anvils.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/15/04 10:50:31 EDT

Ptree, I finally got your hammer on the JYH page. Could use some specs (HP, stoke, ram weight, die info). Ted Banning's hammer is posted as well.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/15/04 10:56:42 EDT

Nice looking hammer Ptree. How does it work? Any advice or other words of wisdom for us wannabe JYH builders?

   FredlyFX - Thursday, 07/15/04 14:20:56 EDT

At present my junk yard hammer has the following spec's:
Ram is 32#
Crank stroke is 7", stroke of the ram at full speed is about 11"
Dies are S-7 combination type.
Motor was a found, without nameplate, 220vac 1 ph, and i suspect is in the 3/4 to 1 Hp. range.
The photo entitled stroke adjustment is the access to the grease fittings thru the guard.

I put grease fittings to feed moly grease to all moving surfaces, and have not seen any wear yet.
I am in the process of reworking a bit. I went from a 1" radius on the fullering portion of the dies to a 7/8" radius per Uri Hoffi's design, and have changed to a heavier, tapered truck spring. I am adding about 12# to the ram.
FredlyFX, the hammer beats a hand hammer every day. I am tuning now for max. performance. As I am a pretty good scrounger, i have about $43.00 invested in the hammer, and about that much more in the foundation.

To all who have or are going to build a JYH, especially one of the crank actuated spring hammers, Please, Please install a guard on the machine top to contain the ram and spring parts if the spring breaks. The ram will exit the machine if the spring breaks on the upstroke!
I have seen several JYH's with unguarded belts, cranks and springs. Please don't run this way, as the risks are too high.

I will advise as to the effects of the changes.
   ptree - Thursday, 07/15/04 18:12:24 EDT

Copper planishing and leaves-
First- leaves- there used to be two companies doing most of the stamped leaves in the US- Frank Morrow, and All States Stamping. Back in the late 80's, early 90's when I was doing production knick knacks, I bought from all state, and noticed that JG Braun and the others were also buying from all state, as they had the same stuff I got for twice the price. All State used to be right in lower manhattan, then moved to New Jersey. Last I heard they were in Mesa Az, or at least the sales office was. But I dont know if they are in existance any more. Cant find em on the internet. But Frank Morrow is- frankmorrow.com, in providence RI, and they will be happy to run copper for you, in many weights, in any of several hundred leaf patterns.
As far as finishing the ends of tubing goes- steves suggestion of a williams lobuck tool is a good one, for heavy tubing and large sizes- I also have one, and it works well for 1" and larger stuff. For itty bitty copper, you should look at abrasive coping tools- Mittler bros. is probably the best known- they are basically a belt sander with an adjustable vise mounted on it- mittlerbros.com . A variety of other companies make similar tools, including Jancy, who make mag drill presses.
On a minor piciune note- a pullmax is not hydraulic- it is mechanical, powered by a relatively small electric motor- usually a 1hp or 1 1/2hp. Very short stroke- 3/4" or less, but hits hundreds of times a minute, much faster than a blacksmithing hammer. They were designed as 4 foot throat nibblers for sheet steel and aluminum, and were quite popular until plasma cutters and cnc punches replaced them. Now the metalshapers have converted most of the existing ones over to planishing. A used pullmax, trumpf, or libert weighs 3000lbs or so, and is quite a beast to move, so they often turn up for between 1 and 2 thousand dollars used. The alternatives in power planishing include a used pettingill or yoder hammer- figure $20,000 plus shipping, for a 75 year old tool with no parts, service or info available. But they are so good that the guys who repair ferrari's keep the prices up and availabilty down. You could buy a new Eckold hammer- figure about $35,000, plus shipping from europe. Although US Tools sometimes has one in stock. UStool.com
There is a company making yoder copy kits, for about $10,000. cant remember their name, but you can find info on all of these hammers, photos and more at metalshapers.org
And also at metalshapers are plans and info for a variety of homemade planishing hammers.
   - Ries - Thursday, 07/15/04 19:16:19 EDT

Just as an example of what the pullmax type machines can do here's a couple of things I've used my Vibra Shear brand machine for recently. I use some home made S7 dies to turn return edges on some 14 ga mild steel candle drip pans. The pans were first formed cold with a male and female die set for the flypress and then planished on the VS/Pullmax with a pair of crowned dies for a nice textural effect before turning the rim. Last week it was used to form some .080 titanium sheet into a compound curve for sheilding parts for a dragster. For that we made up some dies with approximately the right curvature and then finessed the shape to a couple of templates.

The stroke on my machine is only about a tenth of an inch but it moves so fast you can barely see the reciprocating motion. I also have shearing dies for it and both the rip and circle guides though I haven't used either very much. Anybody thinking about one of these machines might want to try one out somewhere if possible before buying. They take some getting used to and they won't do everything. I've had mine less than a year and still have an awfull lot to learn about using it but I wouldn't want to part with it.
   SGensh - Thursday, 07/15/04 20:22:10 EDT

Yeah, but that sure is a cute little machine you got, Steve. And that big Pullmax John had was pretty fun to run, too, though I kept thinking I was going to slip my finger in there and get my nails trimmed down to the first knuckle.
   vicopper - Thursday, 07/15/04 21:32:47 EDT


That is one slick looking hammer! Nicely done!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 07/15/04 23:02:04 EDT

Good day,
I was reading in your anvilefire news, about a Mr. Allan Bauldree, who was using the "delft clay" for brass castings.
I am interested in emailing him or anyone else who knows how to use this product. Would like to know its limitations and drawbacks vs. sandcasting.
Thank You,
John Hariot
   - john hariot - Friday, 07/16/04 02:16:06 EDT

Good day,
I was reading in "anvilfire news" about Mr. Allan Bauldree, using "delft clay" for brass castings. How can I find out more about how to use this and how it compares to sand casting. If it has any disadvantages, and its limitations.
Thank you,
John Hariot
   - John hariot - Friday, 07/16/04 02:18:10 EDT

Good day,
I was reading in your anvilefire news, about a Mr. Allan Bauldree, who was using the "delft clay" for brass castings.
I am interested in emailing him or anyone else who knows how to use this product. Would like to know its limitations and drawbacks vs. sandcasting.
Thank You,
John Hariot
   - john hariot - Friday, 07/16/04 02:18:33 EDT

Will my boy have any problems with the health?
   nadia - Friday, 07/16/04 02:32:00 EDT

John S
The most practical way to use a RR rail as an anvil is to get a longinsh section and bury the butt end so that the up-end is about the right height. Dress the upright end ( polished is good) after cutting away the web and foot near the top.
This set up puts the mass directly under the forging face ( end) where it will do the most good for you. Most forging is done within an area of a couple of Sq, In...even on a big anvil. It's the mass right under the hammer that does the anvil work.
Shane; I demoed a take off/development of an EA Chase tool at the fall CAB conf that used a small hand held style pneumatic chipping hammer, clamped in a frame, and controled by a gimicked foot pedal. I used modified hammer bits and shaped stakes set in the bottom part of the frame. Jere' saw it and did his own version which he is getting ready to sell. "Old Forge" co sells upset, small, chipping hammer bits that are easily modified.
At the conference, EA Chase ( who is the master of the small pnuematic air hammer and is writing a book on the subject), Corky Storer ( who does raising on 3/8" plate with his) and myself, were all running small air hammers on flat steel at once. It was the loudest conference ever held, I'd bet.
   - Pete F - Friday, 07/16/04 03:43:51 EDT

Lay the boy lengthwise along the anvil with the horn and his head pointed exactly due north...that's magnetic north. If you hold him perfectly still for 33 minutes, he will have no problems with the health.
   - Pete F - Friday, 07/16/04 03:51:14 EDT

I have just bought a very old anvil and I wish to identify is'the century it was made in.
I have some photos.
Can anybody help ?
   Colin - Friday, 07/16/04 07:20:42 EDT


Send the pictures to me by email, (just click on my name at this message) and I'll try to help you.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 07/16/04 08:17:05 EDT


I assume you are enquiring about blacksmithing and health, and that this is not a random comment.

There's a whole section on shop safety at: http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/safety/safety.htm .

But health begins with the person. Safety glasses, good ventilation, strong clothes with natural fibers (they may burn, but they don't melt into the skin), aprons and other safety equipment go a long way; but the key safety equipment is the right attitude. Think, then do; and if you think something is unsafe, then stop before you hurt yourself. If you're too tired; stop. If you're distracted; stop. (Good advise for any activity involving things that can chomp you, like motor vehicles and boats.)

Of my three independent children, all have been chewed-up worse by motor vehicles and bad company than any of us have in the forge.

For total safety, I recommend sitting in a library and studying books; but although this is a wonderful activity, nothing gets made that way. Every age, place and activity has its hazards, but the more you know about them, the more you can take steps to minimize them. Blacksmithing can be done safely or carelessly, just like many other creative activities.

(Pete's comment does reflect that for many centuries blacksmiths were considered to be something akin to magicians. Works for me. I'll have to try it with my youngest. ;-)

Cool and clear on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 07/16/04 08:53:19 EDT

Papercuts can be very nasty and there is no telling who or what handled a library book last. There is no such thing as total safety. ;)
   Shack - Friday, 07/16/04 10:42:34 EDT

Delft clay -

I was googling around for some casting info on Delft clay a while back, and found this - http://www.xs4all.nl/~pquanjer/spectechn/delftcasting.htm
   Peter - Friday, 07/16/04 10:49:28 EDT

Bruce, are you implying that we're NOT something akin to magicians? I beg to differ!
   Alan-L - Friday, 07/16/04 11:25:11 EDT

Delft Clay is very similar to Petrobond in color and use. However it is much finer for jewelry use. It is used the same way as green sand except that you do not have to constantly readjust the moisture content. The bond also seems to be stronger than green sand. Thus it is much more convienient and easier to use.

Both can be used for everything up to brass. However at brass temperatures the bonding agents burn and after shake out many folks pick out the blackend burned pieces. However, on the industrial scale they just remix the the entire batch and use it until it does not bond well. Since the fresh product is red you can probably tell by the general darkening when it is worn out.

Delft clay is made by a goldsmith in the Netherlands and costs $40 per 10 pound bag in the US. It eventually dries out losing its bonding properties so it helps to keep it in a sealed container. It works better warm than cold (I've seen it warmed in a double boiler). Petrobond costs about $1/pound and is available in 50 pound containers from foundry suppliers. If you wanted to buy it from me it would be double that (or half the cost of Delft Clay).

There are photos of a Delft Clay mold on page 7 of the current news (#34 p.7).

Note that the fineness of the sand is normally proportional to the size of the casting. Very large castings (thousands of pounds) use very coarse sand (almost the size of small gravel). Jewelery and flat ware have always been cast using the finest sands. Delft clay produces results very close to plaster investments.

The quality of results in any sand casting are largely based on the skill of the mold maker.
   - guru - Friday, 07/16/04 13:15:14 EDT

Guilding Bronze - How do you apply gold leaf manually to Si Bronze (Everdur) and any protection on it afterwards?
   Glenn - Friday, 07/16/04 18:27:06 EDT


For surface gilding of any object, the process is the same. First, get some 23k gold leaf. I personally prefer G. Manetti leaf, but have use Hastings leaf with good success as well. Gold leaf comes in two grades, "glass" grade and "surface" grade. You don't need the glass grade, which is thinner than the surface grade. The difference is actually pretty small. Both are on the order of 1/300,000" thick. Thin enough to be translucent when held up to a strong light.

The leaf is adhered to the surface with sizing, either oil size or varnish size. The best results are obtained with the oil size. The sizing should be applied to the surface of the object with a very soft camel hair brush, as evenly and thinly as possible. Then the object is set aside to wait for the size to tack up. This will take anywhere from a day in Phoenix in summer, to three days in London any time of year. If you are in a hurry, you can use quick varnish size, but the results are very haphazard compared to slow oil size.

When the size has set to a "hard tack", you are ready to apply the leaf. You will know that the size is ready when you can touch it with a finger and it doesn't feel tacky at all, but a finger dragged along the surface will squeak. You may think it has dried too much, but you'll be wrong. If you apply the leaf to size that is not set adequately, you will "drown" the leaf; the size will slowly percolate through the gold and leave a dull finish.

To apply the leaf, use a gilder's tip. This is a camel hair brush with just one row of bristles, usually about 3" wide. The tip is used to pick up the leaf by static electricity and transfer it from the book to the object being gilded. It is very important to keep the tip totally clean. To charge it, just drag it lightly across your hair. (If you're bald, use a hand cat.) Then touch it to the corner of the leaf in the book and make a smooth motion from the book to the object. There can be NO wind when you do this, or you'll have hundreds of bucks worth of leaf scattered to the four winds.

If you are going to be gilding a flat surface, or one that curves in only one dimension, then you can use what is called "patent" leaf. It is the same 23k leaf, but it comes lightly adhered to each page of the book of leaf. You take out the page, place it on the size, and rub the back gently with a cotton ball and the leaf is transferred to the surface. It doesn't, however, work all that well an surfaces with lots of changes of height, texture or small compound curves.

When the leaf is on the object, GENTLY pat it into place with a cotton ball. REAL cotton, medical grade. No synthetic stuff. And keep the cotton off the bare size. You shouldn't have to mash it on, just pat it enough to work the gold into any low areas.

Once the entire surface has been gilded, you can burnish is gently with clean cotton balls, until it shines like newly minted money. You can use a piece of chamois on a dowel rod and do an "engine turned" finish, or any number of other special burnishes if you wish. At that point, the job is done, if it is going to be in a place where it is not handled. The 23k leaf will not tarnish or erode away. However, if it will be subject to handling, washing with detergents or a constant barrage or pigeon poo, then you should varnish it.

No varnish will look as good as uncoated leaf, period. All clear coatings degrade over time, and when they do, the leaf will be ruined when you try to renew the varnish. Its just a sad fact of life. That said, when I do have to clear coat, I prefer Ditzler Delstar acrylic enamel with the DXR80 urethane additive. Wear a respirator rated for isocyanurates when you spray it unless you want long-term health problems.
   vicopper - Friday, 07/16/04 21:17:54 EDT

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   - guru - Saturday, 07/17/04 01:48:47 EDT

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   ptree - Saturday, 07/17/04 09:46:51 EDT

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