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This is an archive of posts from July 8 - 15, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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Well, Kevin finally got home and returned my call late last night after the thing he does every Wednesday evening, alphabetizing all his C-clamps out in his shop, and I asked him about Holstrom. Kevin points out that Holstrom, on p. 43 of the 1982 Crown-Greenwich House edition reprint, says he doesn't care much for cross-pein/pane/pene/peen hammers on account of too much wind resistance. At least it looks like a cross-pein/pane/pene/peen he is talking about-- hard to tell with Holstrom's truly incredibly crapola drawings. We are currently running wind tunnel tests here to check on this and will post results as soon as the boffins finish up their reports. That might explain the old itis in the shoulder, though, come to think of it-- the hammer needs a spoiler.
   miles undercut - Friday, 07/08/05 00:30:00 EDT

Miles ( again I exp the soda venting through my nose, you'd think I'd learn by now not to dring while reading your posts.)
Old 'itis ' in your sholder:

Dee Dot Dow martial artists rub( burns but helps fer days)

WD-40: Toxic , but works for bursitis and general joit pain.
Beer: mmmnnn You figure this one out

Asprin rub cream: self exp only lasts for one or two hrs.

Ball PIN to mellon:

Works for split second or untill the fresh air reaches the frontal loab. But after that you can't feel any thing any ways
   - Timex - Friday, 07/08/05 03:23:23 EDT

Miles I forgot this one

Udder cream( yes it is what your thinking)
COW CREAM CONTAINS A low dose of testostrone that will help repair MINOR dammg and raise your pain tolerance levels.
BC chewables: kinda like taking a alkerselzer but works better on joint pain
   - Timex - Friday, 07/08/05 03:43:10 EDT

Timex: I believe your cow cream is udder balm. May be sold by local livestock supplies, such as farmers' co-ops. Commonly used as a hand lotion, suspect from farmer's wives noticing the effect on their hands after milking. For really heavy-duty work I know guys who swear by Cornhuskers (Corn Huskers?) Lotion. That one is a bit harder to find. Believe I found mine at local Wal-Mart though.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/08/05 07:12:33 EDT

From hammers breaking wind to Bag Balm; that's why anvilfire is so popular.

In my earlier post on Virtual, I purposely did not praise Holstrom, but I had kind words for Holford's toolsmithing portion of the book.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 07/08/05 09:12:21 EDT

thanks for answering my ? gentlmen I'm sure I'll have more as I go on this is really good and I like the iforge area everything is very well explained buck
   buck dannar - Friday, 07/08/05 10:04:05 EDT

Typo alert-- The dust jacket of my copy of American Blacsmithing carries the names of the authors as Holstrom and Holford on both the spine and the cover, so naturally I assumed, naively enough, that the author's name was, in fact, Holstrom. However, I see on the spine of the hardcover within, and on the title page, and on the copyright page, that man's name, in fact, is, or was, Holmstrom, with an m. On behalf of Kevin and the entire staff here I wish to spologize to Mr. John Gustaf Holmstrom and his entire family and their heirs and assigns for the error. The responsible parties will be reprimanded. You hear that, Kevin? Sheesh!
   miles undercut - Friday, 07/08/05 11:39:00 EDT

Motor for 300 lb Bradley Upright Helve:

Jock, I recall hearing that this hammer can be run with a 7.5 Hp motor even the factory supplied motor was a 10 hp. Do you have any experience with this?

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 07/08/05 12:10:23 EDT

i have been restoreing a champion 400 coal forge, the bellows leaks oil through the front seal, can anyone tell me if there is a seal or packing where the shafts comes through the gear housing? i have packed all the bearings with grease and it seams to have stoped the leak for now. all the gears and bearings are in good shape this forge does not look to have been abused it is just old and not used for a long while. thanks for any info. about this forge.
   ron60 - Friday, 07/08/05 12:59:51 EDT

ron60, It it's a blower, I think they all leak, if you overfill. I give mine about 3 drops of oil every two or three days, when in use.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 07/08/05 13:05:28 EDT

Ron60 we don't call them "flow through" oilers for nothing!

Don't fill the sump, just give it a squirt or two as necessary.

   Thomas P - Friday, 07/08/05 13:32:42 EDT

All who um.. Care, i just wanted to inform you that the World Championship blacksmithing Competition is Being Held As i speak in calgary alberta canada , at stampede
   Fyrex - Friday, 07/08/05 14:11:38 EDT

I have access to an Excelsior drill press with leather belts. This has been sitting unused for years. I want to keep the belts in good shape and my copy of Machinery's (13th ed.) recommends beef tallow and Cod liver oil. I can make it easy enough, but was wondering if there might be something a little better?
   Gronk - Friday, 07/08/05 14:12:42 EDT

MILES; That little typo explains why I got mine from a remainder table in the late '80's new for $8.00. That's also where I get all my Hillerman hardbacks for $7.50. I have no shame.
   3dogs - Friday, 07/08/05 14:24:15 EDT

I recently purchased a small three legged forge that is marked Champion Blower and Forge, Lancaster, Pa. The pan is embossed with a number 2 and measures approximately 12X16 inches. The legs are pinned and removable for transporting
I am attempting to rebuild the entire forge and have been moderately sucessful in getting it to come apart for cleaning and refurbishing. My question? There is nothing left of the mechanism on the blower shaft to contact the v- shaped drive wheel. It appears that the blower shaft had some sort of bobbin that would contact the drive wheel and perhaps allow the blower shaft to free wheel once the blower had been bought up to speed. The bobbin was cotter keyed to the shaft and originally had a spring and washer on the body of the bobbin. If anyone has seen one of these small forges in operation could you please tell me what the original bobbin/clutch or drive mechanism looked like and whether or not it is possible to fabricate something to establish the link between the drive wheel and the blower shaft. I find it difficult to believe that it was some sort of rubber wheel considering the proximity of a lot of heat.
   Pete Rowe - Friday, 07/08/05 15:29:19 EDT

I am waiting for my Machinery's handbook to arrive, but I am too impatient to find something out. What is the best speed for the 2" belt grinder. I am seeing everything from 200's to 4000's. I can see that the 36" wide belts will run slower, like 40fps. Is there a norm or a rule?
   John W - Friday, 07/08/05 15:31:19 EDT

John; what are you grinding? And How? You can change the speed depending on what you are working on and if you are roughing out or finishing---why they make variable speed grinders.

I can measure the two drive wheels and get the motor speed off my old Bader BM2 grinder to give a couple of speeds in SFM.

   Thomas P - Friday, 07/08/05 15:46:17 EDT

Blades. I have been doing the finishing on a little delta 27" that looks like a toy. I will be doing blades, I hope of all sizes but mostly belt knife size 3 to 12 inches, maybe a little more.
   John W - Friday, 07/08/05 16:01:16 EDT

I was looking through the manual of my 1970's era craftsman drill press and I notice that they recomend sears brand light house oil for lubrication. Is this the same a sewing machine oil?
   - Michael Gora - Friday, 07/08/05 16:17:25 EDT

3dogs-- You want a comprehensive, no-stone-left-unturned bookfinding demon of a search engine, try http://www.campusi.com/ I get no commission, mind you. A friend tipped me onto this. Supposedly devised by some zealots at MIT. Works great.
   miles undercut - Friday, 07/08/05 16:27:47 EDT

ptree, the purpose for my last post was to "spoof" some comments that were made that basically stated that if general precautions are taken, fire in a blacksmith or fabrication situation is rare, the rational for this reasoning was that the commentor had never witnessed or heard of a "burned down shop". hobbiest "shops" and industrial facilities do have a lot of things in common: lots of potential for disaster. that potential increases with the "my saftey beliefs are sufficient" attitude. it is not the one or two oversites that lead to big problems, it generally is a series of mistakes and omissions. being paranoid of injury or loss of property is never a bad idea, just ask the people who have suffered injury or property loss: why is common to hear " i knew better, this would have been avioded if i had only did x,y,z, ect.." or, "i do it that way all day long and never had a problem". some of these events are not recoverable. people need to be reminded of practices to minimize risk and how to recognize potentially dangerous situations, such that OSHA and saftey managers are necessary. my hat is off to you. i dont work around hydraulics, but if i ever do, i wont forget what you said....i am on your side: you can never be too careful.
   - rugg - Friday, 07/08/05 16:29:10 EDT

Guys, for handcreams, etc., I've got y'all beat. I go from smithing, shut down the fire, head inside and use the spinning wheel. 100% all natrual lanolin... Thick skin but soft with no caluses, and my few burns have healed in 1/2 the time, with no scarring. One of the side bennies of being multi crafted.
   Monica - Friday, 07/08/05 16:49:14 EDT

Rugg, I knew you were, Some no doubt think I over react. I have been doing first aid since 1974, and an industrial responder since the mid 80's. I really hate doing first aid, and especially on my buddies. Even worse is calling the family to tell them I just shipped their loved one in an ambulance with a serious injury. Then I have to clean what my friends left behind off a machine, or fork truck. Ruins my day and my attitude for a while. As you may guess I had a pretty bad attitude yesterday. Annervesery of a friend getting crushed on the forks of a fork truck, and I saw another idiot standing on the forks of a truck yesterday, right after remembering the day. After we did the first aid on the friend, we spent 3 hours cleaning the truck. I still hate the 7th of July! Pardon my tirade yesterday.
   ptree - Friday, 07/08/05 17:38:55 EDT

Monica, your lucky.
I had a guy a few years ago break out with industrial dermatitis. So we sent him to the Doc's and they gave him a special cream to use ETC. After a few days he was worse, so we sent him back. Even more special cream, and after a few days he was so bad they were thinking of the hospital. New Doc gets an idea, and does a test. Each of those creams had an increased amount of lanolin, with the last 100%. And yep, he was allergic to lanolin! Our soap at work had a bit to help with drying.
   ptree - Friday, 07/08/05 17:42:31 EDT

Now that I am in a much better mood than yesterday, let me relate a thing I saw today.
I was in a large comercial forge shop that will go un-named. A machine that is an a part of a forging operation has been leaking quite a bit. 2" to 4" of oil dry on the pipes that run along the floor. Kicked the absorbant aside and sure enough, plumbed with pipe. Nice neat job, done with workmanlike skills, and leaking at too many places to count. Plumbed with schedule 40, seamed pipe and cast iron fittings. You know, those that you buy in a hardware store, rated for 150 psi. Seems they have been cracking a lot of fittings. Been losing about 20 gallons a day.
If you must use pipe, use schedule 80, seamless, anarobic pipe sealant, and forged steel fittings. Unless you need really big pipe the proper hydraulic tubing and fittings are MUCH cheaper.
   ptree - Friday, 07/08/05 18:00:02 EDT

Lanolin Is wonderful for those who can use it. My wife is allergic to it and so I don't use it either.
   - John Odom - Friday, 07/08/05 20:03:59 EDT

Michael G: That would be good, something like 3in1 brand. I wouldn't hesitate to use 10W40 motor oil, or ATF Myself, as anything close is better than none at all.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/08/05 22:35:35 EDT

Hey vicopper I took your advice and got some mineral spirits but I was a bit confused when I got it. It's paint thinner correct or did I just confused at the store?
   - Michael Gora - Friday, 07/08/05 22:51:17 EDT


You got it right, my friend. Same thing. I like it because it is a bit "cleaner" than kerosene and has about the same low volatility. It is a reasonably effective solvent for grease, oil, and tar, and far safer than the "hotter" solvents like gasoline, lacquer thinner, MEK and the like. Less toxic too, though that is not to say that it is nontoxic. Plus, you can use it to thin paint. :-)
   vicopper - Friday, 07/08/05 23:10:53 EDT

Well timex,the grate is made from an old chadwick cooking grill.(small one ,probably 5 inch x 5 inch by the way it is not welded in,it is just laying on the firepot.)
In the disc that i am using thier is a 1 3/4 hole in it.and the grate is mainly cherry red hot where the hole is located.I am using coal for fuel.
   - Jim humatus - Saturday, 07/09/05 00:53:47 EDT

As Vicopper notes the old standbys can be quite dangerous. A couple of products have come across my desk as samples in the last week and I am awaiting a third to try. They are all NON-flammable. All use citrus based solvents. While the ph is a bit eleveted, they look very promising. Should be able to report in a week or so. I have a lathe that I brought home that had sat and accumulated grease, oil and graphite dust since the 80's. and I intend to try the stuff on cleaning this mix.
In the standards, 143F flashpoint is the break between "flammable" and "combustable". The flashpoint is the temp that will generate enough vapor to support flame. This is of important, as a liquid generally does not burn, but the vapor above the liquid does. Another issue is the Lower explosion limit. This is the % at which a mixture is explosive in air. The lower the limit, and the lower the flashpoint the more likely to get a vapor that can be ignited by some source like a pilot light ETC,
For reference;
MEK flashpoint 125F to 200F LEL ?
Kerosene 100 to 162F 0.7%
Gasolene -45F 1.4%
Benzene 12F 1.2%
Naptha 100 to 109F 1.4%
For those who think 1.4% is a lot, that is 1400 parts per million.
You will note that mineral spirits is not listed as there is not a defined chemical composition for mineral spirits. Often mineral is a mixture of 10 to 15 different chemicals.
When using any solvent with a low flashpoint, Usually one will find "flammable" on the label. Be aware that if the mixture can be pushed to a 144F flash, the flammable label is not required. Use lots of ventilation. Preferably using a fan to push air INTO the work area rather than exhausting, as most of our cheap exhaust fans are ignition sources. Keep the can closed, and take saturated rags that are not in use outside the work area.
   ptree - Saturday, 07/09/05 08:58:46 EDT

John W., I run my 2x72 grinder at 1600 FPM for almost everything I do with it.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 07/09/05 09:24:43 EDT

hey, i'm just a beginner, and I want to make my own bellows. I have plans, but I would like to know where I might find some reasonably priced bellows leather.
   Eric - Saturday, 07/09/05 14:21:56 EDT

Bellows leather-strip a leather sofa from Goodwill
   - ptpiddler - Saturday, 07/09/05 14:25:15 EDT

Bellows Leather: As PTpiddler noted, the covering off an old sofa might be pretty good. Upholstery shops have access to reasonably priced leather that is soft tanned and nicely finished (all sorts of colors). Cost for a large bellows should be around $150 US amd for a small about $100. The same place will be able to sew the leather for you once you determine the size/shape. I made a pattern from newspaper to fit the bellows and then had the leather sewn. To make it fit well required a seam up the middle of the bowght and along the middle board. Due to size limitations it also had seams near the front.

This may seem high but it is only about double or tripple what the wood will cost and will result in a bellows that will last for decades.

The alternative is to use heavy cotton duck. However, cotton duck is not as flexible as leather and will pass some air making a cloth covered bellows less efficient. Those that have used them claim the work very well but are surprised at how much better leather is.

Another alternative is to make a Japanese box bellows. These require no leather. This is a rectangular tube about a foot square made of wood like pine shelving. In the bellows is a wood piston operated by a long handle that passes through a hole in one end board. Gates with flapper type valves are made in the side or bottom. One easy to build design has the valves in a wood tube on the side of the bellows. Alow about 3 x 3 inches for the manifold tube.

The design is fairly easy to figure out and there are plans available in several of the bladesmithing books. The more sophisticated box bellows has a hidden internal manifold so that the whole is clean and symetrical. These require a little more skill to plan and build but are a very satisfying design.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/09/05 15:11:04 EDT

Lanolin: One brand of gel hand cleaner is called "Lan-Lin". It is the normal stuff made from beets with lanolin added. Very nice on the skin if you are washing your hands multiple times a day. I also liked it for cleaning brushes as the final clean because the lanolin kept the brushes supple and would easily rinse out with solvent.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/09/05 15:17:34 EDT

Piping: Another thing folks do that is WRONG is plumb up air systems with PVC. It works for a while and then the pipe will shatter from stress and movement. Ever have a loose air line without a fitting? PVC pipe will do the same whipping around until something stops it or the air runs out. It is also very hard on the air compressor and your nerves.

Schedule 40 iron pipe is sufficient for most air systems.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/09/05 15:22:07 EDT

My Bader B2 has a appx 6.25 drive wheel and a 3450 rpm motor it's a big burley industrial grinder and will really hog metal in this configuration There is a smaller drivewheel for finishing; but it's still packed so I can't measure it. I generally use a 10" contact wheel.

   - Thomas P - Saturday, 07/09/05 17:58:44 EDT

A good tight weave canvas works well for bellows.
   Ralph - Saturday, 07/09/05 18:20:00 EDT

is There Anyway to heat treat a cast iron anvil so that it is hard and strong enough for a beginner blacksmith...is there any way to make a cast iron anvil useable for forging?
   cam - Saturday, 07/09/05 19:06:59 EDT

also, for anyone who was wondering, a guy had borrowed my email for a while while i was away on buisseness, and it was taken from him and i just recently got it back, I am not the person who was Being a "Troll" Earlier
   cam - Saturday, 07/09/05 19:13:29 EDT

Saw Russin labeled 110#. alledged to be cast steel anvils at the Harbor Freight in louisville today for $89.99 and they even had the hardy hole the right way. Didn't have a steel ball to test, but a quick tap sounded fair compared to the Chinese cast iron ASO next to it.
   ptree - Saturday, 07/09/05 19:44:40 EDT

COVERING BELLOWS: I built a great bellows some 17+ years ago and it has seen has much heavy use. I covered it with heavy canvas shrunk in a hot-water wash, and painted it with rubberized patio paint. It has never needed anything in the way of touch ups, and is as efficient as any set of leather covered ones I have ever used. The best plans on the net for a Japanese box bellows can be found at:
   RC - Saturday, 07/09/05 20:55:29 EDT

This is a greasey situation I am in now. Well aparently none of the local home improvement stores carry the old style gear grease I need to lubricate my drill press in some places. The only thing they carry are silicone and lithium bases. Now I know that mixing greases can be a bad thing especialy in bearings. So what should I do? The bearings are factory packed and the manual says I don't need to chance them. Thought the quill assembly for the drill press does need new grease. It is using 1970's erra Sears Gear Grease, can I just put the lithium ontop of this or will there be problems. If not whats the best way to fix this? Try finding the paropriate grease? Or using terpentine to degrease everything and coat with lithium? Any sugestions?
   - Michael Gora - Saturday, 07/09/05 21:15:50 EDT

All this talk of solvents reminds me of a shop I worked in, there were the usual cans of various solvents in the safety room, MEK, Naptha, Mineral sprits, etc. The boss got sick of having to buy more mineral sprits everytime someone painted their house, so one day the mineral sprits drum was gone and was was replaced by a drum labeled "Stoddard Solvent" when asked the Boss said be careful with it it's expensive and nasty. Of course it was good old mineral sprits but the housepainters did stop borrowing a gallon or two when it was time to paint the house.
   - Hudson - Saturday, 07/09/05 21:29:57 EDT

All this talk of solvents reminds me of a shop I worked in, there were the usual cans of various solvents in the safety room, MEK, Naptha, Mineral sprits, etc. The boss got sick of having to buy more mineral sprits everytime someone painted their house, so one day the mineral sprits drum was gone and was was replaced by a drum labeled "Stoddard Solvent" when asked the Boss said be careful with it it's expensive and nasty. Of course it was good old mineral sprits but the housepainters did stop borrowing a gallon or two when it was time to paint the house.
   - Hudson - Saturday, 07/09/05 21:30:12 EDT

Michael G: On the factory packed bearings, asuming they have seals or shields, I would put a little light oil at the outer edge of the inner race-where it meets the seal. Some oil will get in and soften the old grease. The other greasable parts should be OK with any type of wheel bearing grease that You would use on a car or trailor. I usually remove old, dried out, dirty grease with a small CLEEN piece of wood, or a screwdriver. The trick is not to introduce dirt into the asembly, if You wash bearings in solvent resist the temptation to let them spin at high speed when You blow them off with the air hose, as they have NO LUBE after the solvent. I don't see any problem mixing petrolium based greases and oils, but I have met people who wouldn't change the brand of oil that a car was broken in on.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 07/09/05 23:14:35 EDT

Is thier any forge welding substitute for borax?
   - Jim humatus - Saturday, 07/09/05 23:46:47 EDT

there are lost of welding fluxes. Some folks like them. Personally I like 20 Mule Team Borax.
I take it you might be having problems?
If so I will go over my way;
bring steel to an even heat until it looks like a pat of butter that is just starting to melt under a broiler. It will swirl and move( actualy the flux does)
Bring both pieces to anvil and place together and immediately hit with hammer. Note I said hit! NOt whale the tar out of it. You need a good solid firm hit but remember you are not trying to move the metal but join it. At first hit you will hear a sorta wet wood thunk, second hit should if the weld took have a slightly more sharp sound. But cooling down will also cause this.
Clean up area check how weld looks and the reflux and reheat to weld and take a second weld on it if needed.
   Ralph - Sunday, 07/10/05 00:51:48 EDT

Michael Gora; Go to an auto parts store and get wheel bearing grease. There's the old thick brown colored stuff, and there's another one that's white, called Lubriplate. They've both been around purtnear forever, and one of the two will likely feed yer needs.
   3dogs - Sunday, 07/10/05 02:04:16 EDT

Its sounds like you have two minor problems that are adding up too a larger one.
1. air difusion: the input air flow is not difusing thought your coal evenly, Turn on your blower and feel the air flow with your hand. It should be a gental but constant flow that covers the palm of your hand ( if general forging )
Solution: make a new air cover for the air input( fire side )try using a cover that has more holes but holes have a smaller radi. ( this allows the same amount of air to enter the fire but over a greater surface, at a slower rate { Bernalie's gas laws, dynamic fluids }
2. you may be drowning the 'hot spot' with too much fuel. By piling the fuel too tighly you are in effect trapping the hot gasses raising the temp of that one spot in your forge.
Solution: bigger birds nest, or better fuel control( less fuel)
You might also look at the elevation of the grate, it could be a bit too high and thusly is in the fire not just below it. I've burned a few up this way. Now I keep the cover at the verry bottom if the forge floor and sheild the edges with ash( packed down untill hard) or I use raw sand to sheild the edges.

Try em and let us know how it turnes out.
Bty I'm working on a fire can forge for heating long bolts. Will let you know how it turns out.
Have fun and be safe!.
   - Timex - Sunday, 07/10/05 04:37:25 EDT

Cast Iron Anvil: Cam, No, an ASO is always an ASO until it is melted down to make a boat anchor.

Sealed Permanently Lubricated Bearings: I just love these products that are "lubricated for life". "Life" is the life of the bearing, not you or the product. It is like a lifetime warrentee . . when the product fails, THAT is the life.

The recomendations to oil at the seals are good. Be sure the area is clean first and do not try to force lubricant past the seal. However, you CAN dissassemble the device and force clean lube past the seals flushing out the old grease. But the dissasembly may trash the bearings. . .

Most modern ball bearings are fairly standard and can be replaced economicaly.

All greases are based on a "soap" and oil. Lithium grease is a fairly normal grease today and is compatible with most other greases in normal duty. I would not use a silicon base grease on machinery.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/10/05 08:22:43 EDT

Michael Gora,
I will ask the lube engineer for you just to double check, but there are grease bases that are NOT compatable. Lithium base is the most common base as far as I know. There are aluminum, bentenite and some other exotic bases.
If you have standard Sears gear grease, then the common axle grease found at any auto parts house should be the same base.

To all who may feel the need to blow off a ball or roller bearing after cleaning. As the guru notes, there is no lube, but an even better reason to not spin the bearing with air is that several cases of the bearing reaching a speed that was beyond the strenght limits have occured. The bearings exploded! Several injuries and a death or two have occured.
   ptree - Sunday, 07/10/05 09:05:27 EDT

Why is the tip of the round horn of one of my 9 anvils magnetic? None of the others are.
   Claudio T - Sunday, 07/10/05 10:25:10 EDT

What is the recommended height for a power hammer from the ground to the bottom die. I've raised mine to 80cms but it still feels low to me.
   Claudio T - Sunday, 07/10/05 10:29:11 EDT

Magnetic Anvil: Claudio, It is common for hardened tool steel parts to become magnetized by rubbing or by proximity to or rubbing by a magnet. Ocassionaly anvils lifted by electromagnets become magnetic. Tools that become magnetic are a real pain as chips and scale stick to them. Most machine shops have small demagnetizers to take care of this problem in cutters and drills. Heat will also remove magnetisim but will also effect the temper of the steel.

An interesting fact about iron and magnets is that pure iron does not become magnetic. Only steel and iron/nickle alloys becomes magnetic and the harder the steel the stonger a magnet it makes. Thus HSS tools often become magnetic.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/10/05 10:46:27 EDT

Hammer Die Height: This is largely a matter of convienience and personal prefferernce. As a matter of design many old machine tools were designed for short people. I do not know why but it is true. Some say it is because machinists were generaly short.

In power hammers the height has to do with the most convienient height to handle a heavy billet with the arms slightly flexed. The bigger the hammer the lower the die height. For decorative ironworkers doing small detailed work this is often too low as what you want is a higher height where you can see better and manipulate the work easier.

Do not change the die height by using tall dies or spacers on the hammer. The die location is part of the machine design and needs to be where the designer intended. Lowering dies on mechanical hammers often results in bent link arms. Raising dies reduces the efficiency and power of the hammer.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/10/05 10:55:40 EDT


At one time most of the European population was short as compared to today. Perhaps 100 years ago the average height for a man might have been around 5'6' and women about 5'2
   - Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 07/10/05 11:18:21 EDT

RC, you said rubberized patio paint for the bellows canvas. Don't mean to sound like a dolt, but is there some brand name or special product one should be looking for? I've never painted a patio.
Also, anyone out there know of a good belt dressing for leather machine belts other than the tallow and Cod liver oil mix recomended in old Machinery's Handbook?
   Gronk - Sunday, 07/10/05 11:54:43 EDT

Guru. Once a friend gave me a huge magnet to put on the horn to reduce noise so maybe I magnetized it.It didn't work so I took it off.Thanks.
   Claudio T - Sunday, 07/10/05 12:12:54 EDT

I was hoping one of y'all might have an email addy for jeffery funk. or point me in the direction to finding it at least. I went to a demonstration he did on hammer making. and went straight back to the shop and built my own. I was amazed at how much I learned from him in such a short period of time. his intuitive grasp of steel work was amazing. I have been hoping to thank him. but I wasn't able to talk to him at the conference.

   eskimoben - Sunday, 07/10/05 12:56:53 EDT

I've just noticed this unusual anvil on Evilbay, item number 6191710351 If you look at the plan view of the anvil you can see that the horn is located to one side rather than in the centre as normal. Is this a manufacturing error or is there a reason for this?
   Bob G - Sunday, 07/10/05 13:22:52 EDT

Hi guys just a query does one have to be a profesional blacksmith to register a touchmark,I ask as I am retired and have taken up blade-smithing as a hobby I give (not sell)most of the knives I make to friends or family but I would like to put my mark on them just as a point of pride I suppose and to say that I made them is this possible or is the registry for profesionals only.
Thanks in advance for any replies.
best rgds
luddau (Derek)
   luddau - Sunday, 07/10/05 13:50:27 EDT

Bob G:

That is an odd one. In Mousehole Forge, page 95, Richard Postman has an old ad (1906) for Brooks & Cooper showing a somwhat similar one identified as a Soho anvil. However, it has a standard horn. Remember at apparently most of the English anvil manufacturers at the time you could special order one. I suspect this was one made for a very specific purpose. (Same page shows a Coachsmith's anvil with the double pritchel holes.)
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 07/10/05 13:56:19 EDT


You do not need to be a professional to register your touchmark. You can send images and a written description of it, along with the fee, to Jock and he will get it posted to the registry.

If you join CyberSmiths International, the support group fro Anvilfire, you don't have to pay the registration fee for your touchmark. That is just one of the benefits of membership in CSI. This shameless plug brought to you by the color blue and the letters C, S and I.
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/10/05 15:32:12 EDT

ptree, my Russian anvil had a metal tag riveted to the body attesting to the fact that it was made in Russia. I immediately removed it, of course, thus ruining what was sure to be a valuable antique someday..... :-)
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/10/05 16:15:46 EDT

Quenchcrack, I'm sure someone will think it a valuable antique some day... and you ruined the provenence.:)
For a demo anvil it does not look too ugly, perhaps a couple of hours with a grinder on the horn...
   ptree - Sunday, 07/10/05 17:57:35 EDT

Gronk: The paint is from Standard Brands paint co. and is labeled as rubberized concrete and patio paint. I dont know if it is still made, I came across it while buying other hardware for the bellows and decided to give it a try. I know of others who have used a good latex paint on canvas painted on both sides before mounting it and it has worked well for them. Shrinking the weave with a hot water wash seems to make a difference as well. After 17+ years it is still working fine. I would have preferred leather myself, but didnt have the money at the time. Unless I find some leather real cheap, my next bellows (I have built 4 sets just like mine), I will stick to canvas. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Good luck
   RC - Sunday, 07/10/05 19:25:22 EDT

I am pretty sure you answered this before but I cannot find it in the archives (sorry) The jaws on my leg vise are a little warped. They will touch on the right side and on the left will not hold 1/4 inch stock tightly at all. Is this fixable or should I just give up and put on a liner? The big square nut at the bottom seems to be tight.
   John W - Sunday, 07/10/05 20:28:59 EDT

Rubber Paint: There are Hypalon roof paints available, Hypalon being a Dupont synthetic rubber that is resistant to UV and common chemicals. There is allso fabric belting with Hypalon callendered on & into it when it is made, this is air tight, and what better quality inflatable boats are made of. If you need a suplier for Hypalon fabric belting, I can ask a friend who uses it for the adress.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/10/05 21:39:24 EDT

John W,

If the pivot bolt is tight, so that there is no side play in the moveable jaw, then the moving arm is probably bent. If you have a forge large enough to heat it, you can heat it up and straighten it to align the jaws. Spend some time with a square straight edge fiirst, to determine just *where* it is out of alignment, so that you're not guessing while it is hot.

On the subject of hot, if the vise is one of the wrought iron ones, you need to have it really hot to bend or twist it. A high yellow heat, almost to welding temperature. Ifyo try to do it at a low heat, the wrought iron may split along old weld seams or siliceous inclusion lines.
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/10/05 22:38:03 EDT

Tool Atraction:
A cheep degause tool can be bought for 34$ US at harbor freight.
Degause: Pulsing a magnetic feild across or around a ferrious item that has a magnetic feild.
IE: wipe the sucker clean of most of its mag properties.
Check out the degause units fer a navy ship( USN, anti torp and mine ) you won't be dissapointed.
   - Timex - Monday, 07/11/05 01:40:04 EDT

Vicopper: For heating the moving arm: Rosebud while it is still on the vise or take it apart and heat and bend( and dissassemble, heat, bend reassemble ad infinitum)?
   John W - Monday, 07/11/05 09:08:27 EDT

Gronk, Leather belts.

If the belts are stiff and/or dirty, you can clean them with a high glycerin soap and a scrub brush. Do a final spongeoff with water and allow the leather to dry. Neatsfoot oil is an old standby for leather dressing. Use it sparingly on the flesh and hair side.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 07/11/05 09:16:43 EDT

"siliceous inclusion lines", vicopper I get all hot and bothered when you talk like that!

Looks like I'm going to have to do a bloomery run this fall; too many folks want to "help" Guess I better start removing the dry weeds---I wonder if you can make cobb using tumbleweeds?

   Thomas P - Monday, 07/11/05 10:16:16 EDT

Thomas P-- At a solar energy whoopdido down in Texas a while back somebody was proposing compacting the boogers to make fuel blocks.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/11/05 10:35:59 EDT

John W,

If you have a big rosebud, I'd use that and a couple of hefty monkey wrenches to tweak the thing. Just be sure you have it hot enough.
   vicopper - Monday, 07/11/05 10:46:38 EDT

Thanks for the paint tips RC and Dave Boyer. I've got an old canvas tent that I was thinking would make a good bellows skin. There is a paint "leave and take" at the local dump... never know what might turn up.

Frank, yup the belts are cruddy, the pullies too. Hasn't been run in years. Glycerin and Neatsfoot it is. Thank you.
   Gronk - Monday, 07/11/05 11:47:06 EDT

Unique Anvil: Bob, This is a unique special probably ordered made to the customers wishes. The reason for the offset was probably to make an inside corner for some purpose known only to designer. This is like many custom swage blocks or special tools that only the smith knows what it was for.
   - guru - Monday, 07/11/05 11:53:32 EDT

Hi there - where on the web can I find statistics about how many/few blacksmiths and traditional metalworkers/crafters are in the US? I'm writing a grant to support an apprenticeship project.
   liz - Monday, 07/11/05 13:17:20 EDT

John W.

I will suggest yet another approach if you do have a large rosebud torch available. My SWAG of what happened is someone in the past clamped something only in one side and then really tried to torque it down, resulting in the bending of the shaft. Reverse the process. Clamp say a 1/2" piece in the side which meets first and then use the rosebud on the shaft under the jaw area. As it heats up to at least a dull red, apply increasing torque to the screw. Note clearance when starting. You will likely need to go past the 1/4" to say 3/8" to allow for some spring back. When back in alignment torque tight until it cools.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 07/11/05 13:56:38 EDT

Thomas P. - That belt is idling at about 5890 FPM, almost 67MPH! (Figuring the motor idles at 3600rpm.) I hope it has good guards, 'cause getting thwaped by a belt at that speed would smart. . .

Once upon a time I built a grinder roughly based on a BII. It was a little scary: Coarse belts cut REALLY, REALLY fast. When something cuts steel that fast, it sure encourages you to watch where your fingers, knuckles, elbows, etc are. When I finished it I was in a hurry to try it and didn't have dust collection/spark control arranged yet and promptly set my shirt on fire with the sparks. . . 8-)
   - John Lowther - Monday, 07/11/05 14:29:42 EDT

Liz- your question is too openended to answer- are you talking about professional blacksmiths? and would that include industrial blacksmiths, ornamental and artistic smiths, and/or farriers?
And when you say traditional metalworkers- well that could mean just about anything. Jewelers, metalsmiths who make vessels like punchbowls or windvanes, sheet metal workers, foundry workers, machinists, metal spinners, the list could go on for a long time.
You could start with ABANA's membership- but that includes a whole lot of hobby types.
Depending on how strict your interpretation is, my guess is the blacksmith part would run from a couple thousand who actually make a living at it, not counting farriers, to 20,000 to 30,000 if you include all they hobbyiests.
Traditional is pretty meaningless- because it depends on what date your "tradition" is from- but I would hazard to guess that virtually all the metalworkers in the US today use electricity, so their "tradition" is only good back to about 1930 or so.
   - Ries - Monday, 07/11/05 15:11:04 EDT

Ptree, may I add something to your essay on hydraulics? I know a man in Crestview, Fl who was working on a high pressure line; the fitting was leaking (cracked nut). He tried to repair it with teflon tape but it spewed out under tremendous pressure and injected the fluid into a vein in his arm. Hospital, doctors surgery, etc and he is still messed up. If a fitting is cracked, trash it and get a whole new one. The line with fittings at the time was only about $25.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 07/11/05 15:31:07 EDT

John Lowther: I am thinking that my 1076 rpm motor (6" wheel, therefore about 1500 sfpm?) sounds more than enough to make me happy. If I run across a 10" wheel, I may try it but I think I can make do with the stuff I have at hand.
   John W - Monday, 07/11/05 16:45:17 EDT

Ron Childers,
At my old plant, we tested millions of valves a year at pressures up to 10,500 psi. We had to train our test machine operators to NEVER try to wipe a little water off the valve to see if a leak is there. Injects every time. The really bad part of injecting test water, test kerosene, or hydraulic oil is you are insured to get a massive dose of infectous materials. I believe I read that pressures above 2800 psi will inject if pushed through a small orifice, but the number is not that important. I always caution to not handle hoses under pressure, as the common failure mode for hoses is a pinhole leak.
Like all tools, hydraulics are a powerful, very useful way to do many tough jobs, that require some care and thought to prevent safety issues.
   ptree - Monday, 07/11/05 17:42:15 EDT

Trying to cut a 3-5 degree crown on a wheel for the now legendary belt grinder: If a 24 inch bar is bent in the center to approximate the 3-5 degree angle, the end of the bar will be .6 to 1.0 inches off of a flat surface and this could be used as a pattern for the wheel. It has been 30 years since using a trig table and I am not sure if I am thinking about this right. Is there a better way to do this without a precision lathe? Or should I just spin the wheel and hold a file on it until it looks a little bit crowned?
   John W - Monday, 07/11/05 18:04:56 EDT

I build quite a few belt grinders- one is on anvil fire news volume 32- I crown the top(idler roller) about 1
degree each side to form a crown and never have any tracking problem- the bottom drive roller is totally flat. Once I bought a grizzley 72" grinder from a guy who had purchased it new and could not get it to track- after some
investigation I saw that the rubber roller has not been
machined flat and had a slight depression in the center-
I put it on my lathe and machined it flat and the machine
tracked perfect. (by machined- I mean I ground it with a tool post grinder)
   ptpiddler - Monday, 07/11/05 18:55:34 EDT

I should have mentioned that sometimes it is possible to form a crowm on a flat roller by just putting a few layers
of 3/4 " wide masking tape in the center to form a crown.
This will work if the roller is only used for an idler- don't know if I would use on a roller that was used for grinding against- but what have you got to lose by trying it- I would do this before I ground on a roller as they are very easy to get out of balance
   ptpiddler - Monday, 07/11/05 19:00:50 EDT

Pree, you're makin' me paranoid... what would be the "effective range" of a pinhole leak like that? I like using forklifts and such but would not like being injected and infected with/by 3000psi hydraulic fluid.
   T. Gold - Monday, 07/11/05 20:07:16 EDT

Thanks, that sounds like a very good idea. If it doesnt work I havent lost anything.
I have one more dumb question for the week, then I will take some time off. There was a lot of discussion about making flypresses a couple of months ago. I have now read about brazing on threads made by wrapping paired stock onto a mandrel. Would this work for a flypress? It sounds pretty simple to make a screw and nut like that.
   John W - Monday, 07/11/05 20:38:51 EDT

The jet from a hydraulic pinhole loses it's energy and begins to spread in an inch or so. If you have ever seen a water jet cutting machine, the nozzle is held quite close to the work. I would think that the flows from a fork truck hydraulic system could not make a jet that would inject no matter the orifice size at more than an inch or two. You "could" get oil in an ear, or an eye, but I suspect that you are quite safe from the hydraulics in the operators position.
I had a valve that had a pinhole leak that would make a lovely cutter at 3500 psi on water. I used it to teach C0-ops new to the lab about the danger. I would pump up the valve and use the jet to cut heavy cardstock at about a 1/16". At an 1 or so the card merely got wet.

Now for a short fork truck rant. The worst industrial accident I ever worked was a buddy that decided to stand on the forks of a fork truck to be lifted up to toss a chain onto a stuck machine. End result was a crushed buddy that never was able to return to work. I have promised to personally escort to the gate anybody standing on the forks to be lifted, as well as the driver.
Need to be lifted? use a manlift, scissors lift, or a articulated boom lift. All have check valves to stop the basket from freefalling if a hose breaks. The fork trucks do not.
   ptree - Monday, 07/11/05 20:58:44 EDT

TUMBLEWEEDS are the hottest fire that I know of. If you could harness them. They would melt a forge down.

   sandpile - Monday, 07/11/05 23:17:10 EDT

Hi folks,
Been busy with grandkids horses and hay, so I've been away for a while. Going back to the top of the page, the question about lighting coke. After many different experiments, some fun, some stupid, the most practical and efficient way I've found is this. Breakup three Kingsford matchlight briquettes into approx 1" pieces. Put them on the tuyere, then build a small 6 to 8 piece teepee of 1/4 to 1/2" diameter by 2"long kindling over the top. Squirt a little charcoal lighter fluid on the assemblage, bank the outer edges with coke, turn your blower on it's lowest setting (to keep from getting a small unexpected explosion in your ash tube which could force you to go change your drawers and therefore have to start all over again), and light. After the initial ignition occurs and the fire's going along merrily, turn off the blower, have a seat, smoke a cigarette or count to 100. When the wood is burning nicely (blackened in places), turn the blower back on and start adding coke to the top of the flames. Not a heap, just a few pieces at a time. When you smell it burning, add more , turn up the fan you're in business till the clinker Gods come a callin'. This works a good 8.5 times out of 10! Coming back to the 21st century, anyone got any real simple plans on building a propane forge? In particular, the burner system. Thanks, Thumper
   Thumper - Monday, 07/11/05 23:39:04 EDT

A small question:

I built a small forge out of a fire extinguisher( fer heating long bolts) and on the first five fires it made a consistant ' fump ' noise. Almost sounded like a reflash trying to ignight. It was solved by increasing air and decreasing fuel.
What caused this, the build up of gas?( I'm using good wood charr coal ). I'm just wondering if any one else has had this problem and how they fixed it.

The forge is set up with a twin input for the air ( modled after a turbo stoke boiler used to incenerate " stuff ") the inputs creat a sudo- vortice with in the tube. This causes the fuel to clean its self( ash off), and allows O2 too reach all side of the fuel.
   - Timex - Tuesday, 07/12/05 01:55:48 EDT


Take a look at eBay listing #6189308624. Doesn't get much simplier than that. Almost everything is off-the-shelf from a local hardware store. Gas orifices are .0330 holes drill in the copper tubing. In listing #6156474785 you can see the air baffle control a bit better. Nothing but a 2" panel washer with a wing nut welded on it. The only purpose of the T between the tubes is to hold the orifices centered over the tubes. Gas pipe goes through the top T. Can e-mail close-ups if you need them.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/12/05 07:44:01 EDT

Timex, you were creating wood gas and it was igniting as it mixed with room air. You were way too "rich". Increasing the air is burning off the gas.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/12/05 07:44:10 EDT

Burners: The simplest fail proof burners are on our gas forge burner FAQ. They use a MIG tip and compression fittings to hold it. I have an adjustable model using similar construction that is easy to build (one weld) and virtualy fool proof. Will get photos posted soon.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/12/05 07:47:09 EDT

Crown: John, Etal, This is one of those places you guys NEED Machinery's handbook. Crown is normally measured in rise to the center (or drop to the edge). Two sloped surfaces are machined with a slight flat in the middle then the edges broken by polishing or filing off. Commercial pullies have the slops meet at the center.

On narrow width pullies the crown is as little as 1/64 to 1/32" (.4 - .8mm).

The reason crown works is that the belt tracks where it is tightest. If crown is sufficient the belt will track on misaligned pullies.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/12/05 08:27:39 EDT

I'm thinking about doing the mini forge on www.geocities.com/zoellerforge instead of buying the Whisper Baby. It uses a Bernzomatic model JTH7 torch. Does this screw in to a regular propane tank that you would use for grilling and will I be able to forge 1/2" round bar in it without having to wait for an eternity. I know I could contact Bernzomatic to answer these q's but this will be quicker and might be helpful to someone.
   Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 07/12/05 11:11:03 EDT

I once needed to use the 50#LG at SOFA when it was throwing the belt everytime you pressed down on the bail. A bit of duct tape on the center of the motor pully and it worked fine to get my project done---I was a 2 hour drive away and so the adjustment was left for the local members to have fun with.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/12/05 11:17:18 EDT

thanks guru: I swear the book is on order. I should have it in a couple of days and after that I will ask only smart questions. Maybe.
   John W - Tuesday, 07/12/05 11:49:33 EDT

I am looking to purchase a coal burning forge.

I am a beginner and have purchased a few tools and an anvil and would like to set up an old-fashioned coal-burning forge for a hobby.

Where would I purchase one of these already assembled? Also, is it more cost efficient to build one myself or a pre-made one? Any other suggestions for a green-behind-the-ears soul such as me?

Michigan, United States
   Bunk - Tuesday, 07/12/05 12:03:05 EDT

Bunk, how good's your scrounging gene? If you're a good scrounger, and have welding capabilities (or welding friends), making your own is much less expensive.

If you've gone through countless years of "scrounge gene repression" and have the money to spend (Lots of it), buying one assembled is quick and easy. Check out the advertisers.

Then again, the oldest "olf fashioned" forge is a hole in the ground, with a heat shield rock, and a small piece of pipe (or covererd trench) to direct the air flow.
   Monica - Tuesday, 07/12/05 13:25:00 EDT

Bunk, see the plans page for a do-it-yourself brakedrum forge. No, there's no exact list of parts, as it's a "Build-it-as-you-scrounge-it" deal.
   Monica - Tuesday, 07/12/05 13:26:11 EDT

Micro Forges: These are suitable for 1/4" stock (if you are not in a hurry) and smaller. The Whisper Baby is about 5-10 times the forge as a propane torch powered micro.

Bernzomatic will probably not answer this kind of question. I have used commerecial bottle mount torches by attaching adaptors to the threaded fittings of the torch. This is modifying the product and manufacturers WILL NOT assist you in this.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/12/05 13:55:37 EDT

Mail sent off to Bunk. Us Michiganders gotta stick together.
   Bob H - Tuesday, 07/12/05 14:42:28 EDT

Micro forge: Note thatZoeller is using Mapp gas and not propane.
   John W - Tuesday, 07/12/05 14:46:12 EDT

Brazing threads for a flypress:

We discussed this a while back. This is a technique for restoring vise threads. Two pieces of say 1/4" keystock are wrapped tightly together around a mandrel. After separation one is brazed onto a rod to become the thread and the other is brazed into a piece of pipe to make the nut.

The main weaknes, as ThomasP observed, is that owing to the low accuracy, the threads will only seat at one point and that one point will take all the stress when the press bottoms out. If it tears loose from the brazing then the stress will shift to the next point and you get a zipper effect like tearing a piece of paper. I think you could overcome this by being careful in your construction and by doing a good job of lapping the thread and nut together after brazing. After all it's acceptable for a vise and they take a lot of punishment - though generally steady pressure not a the sudden pulse as is the case with the press.

So it might could work. We would sure like for John to try it out and report back to us. :)
   adam - Tuesday, 07/12/05 15:35:29 EDT

Bunk; Quad-State in western OH is coming up the end of september. There will likely be a largish number of forges for sale there.

Have you asked everyone you know and meet about a forge? You're bound to find one local to you if you "network" enough.

"Repression of the scrounging gene" isn't that a capital offense???

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/12/05 16:32:46 EDT

Thomas P.

Received my SOFA Sounds today. Quad-State will be Sept 23-25. Demonstrators not announced.

In the newsletter is an announcement SOF&A will co-host the August 26-28 show of the American Bladesmithing Society (Mid-American Bladesmithing Expo and Knife Show) at their location at the Miami County Fairgrounds in Troy, OH. From description it sounds much like a Quad-State, just completely oriented towards bladesmithing. Go to www.americanbladesmith.com for details.

Bunk: Via the NAVIGATE anvilfire box find the list of blacksmithing groups. Contact those in your area. My observation is most groups have at least one member who dabbles in used blacksmithing equipment. They are also usually available on eBay so keep checking for one in your general area. Otherwise shipping cost will be very high.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/12/05 16:55:01 EDT

"Repression of the Scrounging Gene" occurs with military brats that get moved every 3 years. Compound that with a parent that thinks "One man's junk is... Junk." and you get Repression. The stricter the parent, the stronger the repression.

I'm tempted to talk to one of my mentors here in Fl about visiting a few scrap yards together and seeing if it can be re-trained. I do get the "junk antique shop has NO idea what they have" syndrom, so if I could just get that re-tuned to smith-ish scrounging....
   Monica - Tuesday, 07/12/05 17:10:39 EDT

Life rule number 3 "a stupid question is easier to answer than a stupid mistake is to fix"

addendum to life rule number 3. This does not apply to silly timewasting questions that can be answered by reading the anvilfire FAQ's :)

   JimG - Tuesday, 07/12/05 18:04:10 EDT

Hi Guru,

I need some information about the corrosion when we have a wather piping whith copper and stell linked.
Thanks a lot
   antonio zampol - Tuesday, 07/12/05 18:06:45 EDT

I was wondering how I could get in contact with Paul Parenica? He is an old friend of mine.
   Peter Cullipher - Tuesday, 07/12/05 18:18:28 EDT

Scrounging gene: I too was a repressed scrounger Having being raised in an apartment in central London . But years of therapy, consisting mostly of visits to the landfill and the flea markets have helped me heal and filled my large backyard with a HUGE pile of rusty iron. I no longer suffer from that terrible emptiness that comes from with having a tidy yard.
   adam - Tuesday, 07/12/05 19:33:10 EDT


I am a college student studying Blacksmithing in a class pertaining to the history of technology. I have found all the information regarding the art of blacksmithing very interesting. Our instructor has issued a challenge. I need to find out the significance of the chestnut tree or chestnut to blacksmithing. What did the chestnut provide to the Smith other than shade?

The instructor referred us (the class) to the poem by Longfellow entitled "The Village Blacksmith".

"Under the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands".

So far I have figured out the smithy is the building or shop and not the man.

I've tried many different theories, but the instructor insists that the Smith used something to do with the chestnut tree for a practical purpose.

Thanks and any help is appreciated.

Jeff Hawke
   Jeff Hawke - Tuesday, 07/12/05 19:38:18 EDT

Charcoal from the wood?
   adam - Tuesday, 07/12/05 19:53:42 EDT


I don't think the tree was cut down. I talked to a history buff today who told me that green chestnuts burn super hot.....perhaps for melting certain iron???


   Jeff Hawke - Tuesday, 07/12/05 19:58:09 EDT

The tree was real and important to Longfellow and was cut down. A group of children had a really nice chair made for him from the tree. He wrote a poem for the children. Anyone who came to his house was welcome to sit in it. This is a real brief overview. You will need to do the continued research for more detail. I am just pointing you in the direction. Burnt Forge
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 20:04:15 EDT


The tree was real and important to Longfellow and was cut down. A group of children had a really nice chair made for him from the tree. He wrote a poem for the children. Anyone who came to his house was welcome to sit in it. This is a real brief overview. You will need to do the continued research for more detail. I am just pointing you in the direction. Burnt Forge
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 20:05:17 EDT

Warped cast iron B-B-Q Plate design !!!!!!
We are designing a new commercial grill and it has cast iron plates aproximately 14" x 14" with a 5/32" wall section plus some ribbing. But when we heat them up, to 660F (350C)in 5 Minutes the plates warp up in the middle approx 1/4". Currently they are cast in standard grey iron. How can we keep the plates flat - is it a design thing, add more ribs or cut some stress relieving grooves. Is it a material grade choice or maybe some sort of heat treatment process. Our main constraint is that the plate has to be around 10 Pounds (4.5Kg)in weight as we need to store a certain amount of heat. Currently we are using an electric coil type element to heat the plate and we could adjust the pattern to get more heat to the edges and less in the middle. Any advice would be appreciated. Kind regards Scott Cox, Brisbane Australia.
   Scott - Tuesday, 07/12/05 20:07:14 EDT

Chestnut trees were prized for their shade because they spread. And Smiths being practical people that's probaly the only reason. Your instructor is making way too much of it. Sometimes a shade tree is just a shade tree!
And if he thinks he knows better than us tell him we want to see a minumum 3 peices of documentation on his theory, and at least two of them primary source.
   JimG - Tuesday, 07/12/05 20:08:43 EDT

Sure, the tree was not cut down but in the poem, perhaps it symbolizes all the trees that did give their wood for smithing.

Also, he would probably set up his bellows using a convenient overhanging tree limb. He likely used green branches as makeshift handles for for his "top tools" the punches, chisels and formin tools. these often have an eye to take a handle to keep the hand away from the heat , and from the hammer blow and the handles are often just any scrap of wood. Plus if it were me I would hang my tools all over the trunk on nails. Also, I would roast and eat the chestnuts when they were ripe :)

The green chestnuts? Doesnt sound right to me. Nothing with water in it burns hot enough to be useful for forging (smiths dont usually melt their iron, they soften just enough for forging). First you have to drive off the water and then you have a dry chestnut. No? I would not be impressed when a "history buff" tells me something is "super hot". If I heard that from a blacksmith OTH, I would take it seriously.
   adam - Tuesday, 07/12/05 20:13:50 EDT

ah... should have read burntforge's post first. :)
   adam - Tuesday, 07/12/05 20:16:30 EDT

As I remember the story, the blacksmith shop which inspired Longfellow's poem did exist. The tree was cut down some years later to widen a road and wood from it was used to make a chair for him. Some years later the wood was examined and found not to be an American Chestnut, but rather an European Horse Chestnut.

Again, to my knowledge, the tree itself has no special significance other than the poem and that it was once a prized wood for all sorts of carpentry work, such as wagon bodies.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/12/05 20:40:21 EDT

The expression "old chestnut" comes to mind somehow . . .
   Mike B - Tuesday, 07/12/05 20:50:20 EDT

Remember that it was the "village" smithy. That chestnut tree was probably a central fixture of the village from its very founding, and thus an icon of sorts. Early settlers, particularly in the Midwest, planted trees for shade, for windbreaks and for durable fencing. Trees had a fair degree of significance. As Ken said, chestnut was used extensively for furniture making.

During the early years of iron smelting in the US, the forests in many areas were totally depleted to make charcoal for iron production, though I seriously doubt that this was of any significance to Longfellow. More likely, it is the tree as the symbol of the village; planted with the hope/thought that the village would prosper and grow, as the tree itself grew. Besides, it was probably the only tree large enough to build a building under. :-)

The line reads, "Under a spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands." It is just "a" chestnut tree, not "the" chestnut tree, so maybe it wasn't really significant at all. Sometimes, a tree is just a tree.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/12/05 21:00:58 EDT


You should try to design the grill so that the area exposed to radiant heat is consistent from edge to edge, if at all possible. The coefficient of thermal expansion of the metal is what is causing you problems. As it heats, it expands. More heat, more expansion. If the heat is even, the expansion will also be even. The edges will always have cool air surrounding them, so they need to get more heat to offset that. Ribs on the bottom of the grill will lengthen fractionaly as the heat, so you may be able to use that to counteract the warping up in the middle. But I really think that even heat is the answer. Try heating up one of the grills in an oven and you'll see what I mean, I think. If it still humps up in the middle, then you might try altering the ribs.

Let us know how it works out, okay. I'm interested.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/12/05 21:06:44 EDT

I have to secong Jim G. I think your instructor is full of chestnuts! (grin!) Seriously, if he says anything other than charcoal or a chair for the poet, hip boots are in order. Although, if he believes every word Alex Bealer says in "The Art of the Blacksmith," he suspects green chestnut wood was used for forge fuel in northern Georgia.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 07/12/05 21:07:50 EDT

Antonio: When copper and steel are in direct (electrical) contact in a wet environment, either inside or outside the pipe, electrochemical corrosion takes place. The Iron will corrode badly. This can be prevented by using only one kind of metal, or electricaly isolating the different metels. There are available from industrial suppliers, not hardware stores, "Isolating Unions" that are electricaly non-conductive. If these are used between the copper and steel parts of the system, and there is no stray path for the electrochemical current the corrosion will be stopped or greatly reduced.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 07/12/05 21:21:29 EDT

I will go along with the "any good shade tree would have worked" camp, However there is some significance in that chesnut trees came to thier demise due to blight [at least where I live] about the same time as villiage blacksmith shops came to thiers due to masproduction. Longfellow would have had to look into the future to apreciate this, however.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/12/05 21:44:38 EDT

Scott: As vicopper suggests proper heat distribution will help a lot.If the perimiter was a little hotter than the center, the middle of the plate would be under tension instead of compression, and not try to warp to acomadate the excess material. If You could get them cast of Mehanite, it may help as it expands less. Invar is out of the question from a cost standpoint I would think, but it is the most stable metal that comes to mind.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/12/05 21:57:23 EDT

Antonio: The corosion problem becomes worse if the water is acedic, or mineral laden, as this increases it's electrical conductivity. The diferent metals become the same as plates in a battery, the water is the electrolite. In a really bad case it can help to plumb a "T" fitting into the system with a sacrifical zink threaded into a pipe plug in the "T". The zink is the least noble of the materials, so it is the one that corodes away. It must be replaced when depleted. The zink element and the tapped pipe plug are available from marine supliers.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/12/05 22:13:05 EDT

Ken and I "burntforge" are right on the money with the chestnut tree. In college I did my research and wrote a lengthy disortation on Longfellow.
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 22:32:31 EDT

Vicopper...Chestnut Tree
I have many of Longfellow's works as he is my one of my favorite poets. As you are probably an expert yourself. You would know his writings were greatly criticized as much as he was beloved by others. BTW- When the city of Cambridge grew, Brattle Street needed to be widened. The tree Longfellow made famous had to be cut down. His neighbors, Phoebe & Eben organized a campaign of school children to make an armchair for Longfellow from the tree's wood. GRIN ;)
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 22:41:48 EDT

More on the chestnut armchair
700 children donated money to pay for the chair to be made by a furniuture maker in Boston. It was given to him on his 72nd birthday. It was designed by his nephew Pitt PrebleLongfellow. Chestnut tree leaves and flowers were carved in the chair along with many verses of his poem.
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 22:45:34 EDT

To thank the Children
Longfellow wrote "From My Arm-chair." only your love and your remembrance could give life to this dead wood etc.....
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 22:47:42 EDT

Longfellow worked at Harvard teaching and walked by the tree that shaded a blacksmith shop on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Mass. He loved the tree and was very inspired by it. I forgot he was also given a book with all the childrens names who gave money to have the chair made. The chair is still in his home- a historical site. It is very beautiful. He loved children and they loved him also.
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 22:52:35 EDT

As I agree with much of your above suggestions. I believe it is part of the dimensions to this poetic story. h Longfellow really took a shine to the tree...for more reasons than we will know. I doubt his poem was one dimensional and was more than the conotative meaning you point out. Sometimes a blacksmith shop is just a shop. Hard for us iron heads to believe, though.
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 23:00:32 EDT

I was just thinking about The Village Blacksmith Poem. The smith a mighty man is he with large sinewy hands; muscles of his brawny arms etc through the entire poem. I wonder...just a technical thought to keep this proper to this forum. I think the Smith and the Tree were one in the same. The large truck and long reaching embracing arms of the branches. It is all about life, Love, Death, Courage, Growth, Vigor, Satifaction, Integrity, Morals, Morays and the Last of the three L's in life too Laugh. It is just bursting with multi-dimensions. Looks how he draws his beloved children in. Cease Life screams from the bowels of this poem. Maybe that is why we all love it. I rest my case on Longfellow etc... Good night and sleep well my fellow smiths and always in our thoughs and anvils song-PPW.
   burntforge - Tuesday, 07/12/05 23:25:56 EDT


I'm hardly an expert on poetry! Far from it, I'm afraid. My literary tastes seem to be a bit more on the entertainment side and less on the artistic side. But I do have opinion, that's for sure! (grin)

I think the last verse, or stanza, or whatever it's called, sum up Longfellow's intent:

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

The smith is the heroic "everyman" figure. The tree is just a tree. Maybe. If I get the chance, I'll ask him.(grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/12/05 23:29:55 EDT

Ken, Thanks for the input. I want to weld with the forge even though it's primary purpose will be to remove mill scale so your burners wouldn't be adequate. An unsolicited plug for you though.....anyone just starting in blacksmithing and wanting to get equipment reasonably priced, look up Poorboy Blacksmithing Supplies (I think I got it right) on ebay, or just type in "blacksmith" and scroll till you find the seller Poorboy. I'll probably get in trouble for that little plug, no good deed goes unpunished!! Guru, thanks for the tip on the FAQ page, that's probably the way I'll go to get the heat I want to achieve. Thumper
   Thumper - Tuesday, 07/12/05 23:41:24 EDT

As you said you do have opinions. I agree with your opinion on the surface of viewing his poem. After learning about the man and his feeling toward the tree. I just look at it a little different than the conotative meaning from the writing. I think the literal you bring forth is for sure true. After studing the man and his love for the tree I can see it for the other dimensions hidden below the obvious meaning. I don't know how to explain what I mean. Not just the clarity in the box but ouside and under it. Around and above it. You know what I mean. vicopper we all have opinions. We all vary in our thoughts. The few times I ever post anything to try and help anyone out you jump right out with a post disagreeing laying down the vicopper view opinion law. I am just getting tired of it. I am trying to show you other dimensions. Your opinion is very valuable it seems to be how you go about it. I just gave it back to you. You didn't like it. Now you know how it feels. You know your stuff about many things...I am not arguing that.
   burntforge - Wednesday, 07/13/05 00:50:11 EDT

Poor boy blacksmith Tools
I have been real happy with Ken's Tools. I will second the plug!!
   burntforge - Wednesday, 07/13/05 00:52:51 EDT

Burntforge: So in a way is the blacksmith regarding the tree as Longfellow regards the smith, "worthy friend, for the lesson thou hast taught..." and the paralells between the brawny smith and the powerful tree. Like the NOrse gods who gained strength from touching the earth...The tree provides so much and ultimately sacrifices itself for fuel, furniture, nuts etc. so the blacksmith grows strong and provides of his own substance, his product is also made from his essence or his flesh. They grow together, live and strive and provide for the comunity and then die. But their hardware and strenght live on in what they produced as well as their image.
   John W - Wednesday, 07/13/05 08:01:23 EDT

I like your analysis, John. There is no doubt that it is a fine piece of writing, one of the American classics, and undoubtedly has far deeper meaning than I am capable of grasping. But your explanation makes sense to me. Thanks.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 07/13/05 08:21:16 EDT

The orginal question from Jeff is

"I need to find out the significance of the chestnut tree or chestnut to blacksmithing. What did the chestnut provide to the Smith other than shade?"

The way I read it the key words are "to the Smith" not what Longfellow was thinking when he wrote the poem. Interesting thoughts on that though.
   JimG - Wednesday, 07/13/05 09:20:19 EDT

You explained it very eloquently. I don't think the poem could be explained any better than you just did.
   burntforge - Wednesday, 07/13/05 09:34:08 EDT

The image is one of a starkly contrapuntal juxtaposition of pure nature vs. the artifice of man, the quintessentially bifurcated tableau in which we forever find ourselves: the tragic dichotomy (I can go on like this all day if I have to) of organic plant producing oxygen, nutrients, replenishing life, whilst (love them Brit words, love 'em, and they sure do class up the exegesis, don't you think?) serenely goading the conscience of the smith-- nay, of all mankind-- as he bustles about marauding and desecrating the natural world, ripping up the landscape to obtain his filthy coal, smelting his iron ore, befouling the atmosphere with all his stinky smoke, bringing on global warming, bursitis and rust stains. Next question.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 07/13/05 09:51:03 EDT

Thanks to all who answered my post regarding the chestnut tree. I will pass along all the thoughts to the instructor. It will be interesting to find out what he is referring to.

I knew nothing about blacksmithing at the beginning of the week. What an interesting and important profession!

Thanks again for the help.

Jeff Hawke
   - Jeff Hawke - Wednesday, 07/13/05 09:55:57 EDT

Thanks to all who answered my post regarding the chestnut tree. I will pass along all the thoughts to the instructor. It will be interesting to find out what he is referring to.

I knew nothing about blacksmithing at the beginning of the week. What an interesting and important profession!

Thanks again for the help.

Jeff Hawke
   Jeff Hawke - Wednesday, 07/13/05 09:56:29 EDT

The Foxfire Book is a series of 12 books about southern appalachian folklore, customs, simple living, etc. Book 5 has a chapter about blacksmithing and book 6 has a chapter about the chestnut. Neither of them say anything about a chestnut tree having something to do with blacksmithing.
   Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 07/13/05 10:30:49 EDT

Antonio, what you need is call a dielectric union, it's a coupler that is used to connect dissimilar metals such as copper and steel pipe in water systems. If they are connected directly corrosion is inevitable. Check with your local plumbing supplier they will know just what you need.
   daveb - Wednesday, 07/13/05 10:46:50 EDT

Miles, go take a pill your eyes are turning brown,...again...and you forgot to include "post modernist deconstruction, Hegel, synthesis..."

Chestnut was believed to make a very hot burning charcoal; the instructor may be remembering Cellini's autobiography where he mentions burning chestnut for a very hot fire when doing a bronze pour---the one where he started burning the house when he ran out of fuel...

I don't think the smith worked out underneath the tree much rain and snow up in MA you know and he had a "smithy"! Poem doesn't say his forge was under the tree...


   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/13/05 10:58:30 EDT

Hold on, there. Jeff! Whoa! You can't leave now. We are just getting started here. We have not yet touched upon the tree as sustaining the smith, great emblem of the rood that it is, the sturdy armature of faith that undergirded his life. Ooops, there's the bell. More next time. This will all be on the exam, by the way, and it will count 10 percent of your semester grade. No, we do not grade on the curve.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 07/13/05 10:59:48 EDT


Thank you for the leeway on the grade. The instructor is surprised no one knows the answer. Not for coal. Not philisophical. Some practical use. ???????

Let's nail this one guys!
   Jeff Hawke - Wednesday, 07/13/05 11:02:43 EDT

Jeff, probably those darn husks for starting the fire. dried of cource. Chestnuts will fatten the hogs too.
   daveb - Wednesday, 07/13/05 11:38:41 EDT

JEFF HAWKE: Back at the time of Longfellow's writing of the poem, lots of folks had chestnut trees on their property, and the forests were loaded with them. Later on, a load of diseased chestnut landed here and introduced a blight which killed off virtually all the American Chestnut trees. Until fairly recently there were only a few incidences of feeble growth sprouting up from old growth stumps, and they wouldn't survive for long. Arborists seem to think now, that they may have bred a strain of disease resistant chestnut which may, to some extent, allow the restoration of the tree in this country. As regards the use of the chestnut tree in the vicinity of the smithy (the shop), I'd say, in a word, shade. It most likely predated the smithy, and was simply not cut down when the land was cleared.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 07/13/05 11:54:14 EDT

OK, we actually figured it out with help from classmates. Here are the details from the instructor:

The chestnut tree stump was used and preferred for the mounting of the anvil because of the strengh of the tree and root system. The chestnut stump and root system helped the smith because of the way it dissipated the energy from the hammer strike on the anvil.

The smithy was acutally built around the stump(s). Therefore, most likely in or near a grove of chestnut trees. This is why Longfellow observed the tree outside the smithy.

What do you think?

   Jeff Hawke - Wednesday, 07/13/05 12:04:08 EDT

Maybe we're looking at the overly obvious, yes a chestnut provides shade, and feul but what else can you get from a chestnut?
Sap? would that make a glue? or a quench? Or be good for burns? same with the leaves or nuts? Does a chestnut attract fauna that would be handy for a smith? Owls for pest control? :) lol
I'm just thinking if this teacher is insisting it has a practical use to a smith it must be somthing to do with the tree itself or the micro eco system that the tree supports. I know for instance that a single oak tree can support hundreds of species. If shade is not it what might it be?
Its got to be somthing out of the box, or somthing that was once well known and has been forgotten
   Tinker - Wednesday, 07/13/05 12:30:35 EDT

maybe I should post quicker! lol
   Tinker - Wednesday, 07/13/05 12:31:46 EDT

now that I think on... doesn't that make a hell of a lot of work for a smith? If he has to fell the tree just to use the stump because of the root system? And then built an entire Smithy around this stump. Surely you could just get a length of trunk and bury it wherever you wanted instead of clearing a site just for that?
If you factor all the other things a smith would look at eg water, wind, trade routes etc surely he's making life difficult for himself?
just a thought
   Tinker - Wednesday, 07/13/05 12:43:30 EDT

Jeff: Me thinkith your instructor is way, way off base. I strongly doubt a blacksmith shop (smithy) would have been build around a single tree stump. It would have then dicated the positioning of the forging and other areas, which may or may not have been where the smith wanted. A stump with root still intact underground would have provided perhaps only a extremely marginal amount of anvil base support over just a section of log countersunk into the shop floor. And then there is the size of the stump to consider. Chestnut trees grew to be very, very large. A stump over 3' in diameter would have been very common. An anvil base much over 2' would have put even the largest anvils at an awkward distance from the smith. A chestnut lot section preferred for an anvil base - perhaps.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 07/13/05 12:45:13 EDT

I was recently given a Buffalo forge co drill press. It is an electric floor standing model with a 1/2 HP 220V single phase motor. There are what appear to be 4 leads coming from the motor. I would like to know how to connect these leads to either a on/off switch or directly into a cord with the appropriate plug. Thanks for your help.

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 07/13/05 12:54:26 EDT

It does seem like a whole bunch of work to situate the smithy around the stump and root system.

The instructor indicates that this info was gathered by interviewing blacksmiths


   Jeff Hawke - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:01:52 EDT

Anvil blocks.
My understanding is that Elm is prefered for anvil stumps because of it's twisted grain makes it difficult to split. Same reason it was often used as wheel hubs. Plus elm does not make good fire wood.

I disagree with your instructor. Tell him we want 3 peices of documentation 2 of them primary source before we'll even consider such an answer.

(oh what the clinker am I doing even discussing this? I got work to do!) (but work will allways be there and chestnut trees won't)
   JimG - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:04:00 EDT

Stump as Stump: Although we call our log section anvil stands "stumps" they are not. They are actually sectiones of logs. In the recent past long sections (6 to 8 feet) were burried to provide a more steady base. Actual stumps from felled trees may have been used but I have yet to see any reference to it as a general practice. In fact due to size of these trees in the vigin forests it may have been an illogical choice, the diameter would have been too large and the spreading roots a tripping hazzard. Although we know a stout stand is better we also know that there is a practical limit to what is needed for an anvil used for hand work, even with sledges.

The "Spreading Chestnut Tree" is what it is. A symbol of what was once the most common tree in the Eastern forests of North America. It was used for food, fuel and shelter (wood to build homes and furniture). It was strong, rot and insect resistant making it a prised wood. When the chestnut forests began to die they were rapidly logged off to prevent forest fire danger and to be replaced. As a shade tree it has been replaced by the oaks that were planted by the thousands to replace the dieing chestnuts in city parks and lawns. The choice in the poem was very fortuitous but I do not believe it was any more than that.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:04:52 EDT

I don't recall using a stump as an anvil base in any of my books on 19th century smithing; but I'll skim "Practical Blacksmithing" which is a bit late but still dates from "working smithies" time and Moxon's Mechanics Exercises a bit earlier but with information on setting up a shop.

Blacksmith's have a history of BS'ing ivory tower folk and sometimes their flights of fancy even make it into popular books on smithing!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:20:07 EDT

Jeff-- Your instructor, alas, missed the forest for the tree. I spent many a happy hour on Brattle Street and that interpretation would never fly.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:20:39 EDT

Patrick when I had the same problem I took the motor to the local motor shop and the fellow figured it out in about 30 seconds---and didn't charge me anything for it either!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:21:52 EDT

Pete Rowe RE: Rebuild Champion Forge--I have one of those forges, though without the legs (what is the design/measurements of the legs??). The driven shaft (blower shaft) is relatively free-floating (back and forth) on the bearings. There is a V-shaped rubber or equivalent pully? on the shaft, to match the shape of the driving pully. One side is fixed on the shaft. The other side is keyed on the shaft, with a coil spring pushing it toward the fixed side (this side of the driven pully is floating on the blower shaft). Because the driven (blower) shaft itself is relatively free-floating on the bearings, the floating side closes the gap so the driving pully can make contact and drive the system, and the entire driven (blower) shaft floats on the driving pully. It (the rubber) is probably cool, as it is seperate from the forge pan and air for the blower is drawn past the pully system. If the floating pully doesn't float, it will not work. I believe this forge pan also needs to be clayed before use.

What are the measurements/design of the legs? Thanx
   - David Hughes - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:22:16 EDT

Methinks we over think these poem things. Why heck, how can anyone ever really know what was in the mind of another? At this point it really is just conjecture.

As for the stump, yeah, my first thoughts were the roots would trip ya. And ya don't need any more obstacles in your path when handling hot iron.

Now, I gotta disagree with JimG. Me, I burn plenty of Elm wood. Good hardwood, good coals in the campfire. I've had plenty of standing dead elms here at my new home that I have taken down for firewood. Not sure where you would get the idea that it is not good firewood. Now, Black Locust ain't good firewood, at least not in an open fire. That stuff smokes and is very acidic [SP?]in the smoke. Plus, my dogs would not even pick up a stick of the wood, without spitting it out.

Man, the things ya learn on Anvilfire. Thanks again Jock for a great site!
   Bob H - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:29:38 EDT

Jeff Hawke
JimG brings to light a good points about the use of chestnut tree for an anvil stand. I disagree with your instructor Jeff...he said "dissipated the energy from the hammer strike on the anvil". I want the energy from the hammer strike on the hot iron laying on the anvil to return my hammer. The rebound is needed to work all day. Just ask Uri Hofi for the importance of this energy. Tell your instructor to refer to Newtons Second Law that Mr. Hofi talks about in his video. work = m x v squared divied by 2. Velocity = speed in direction. The Guru and Hofi can explain much better than I. It kills the instructors theory. I hope you are not tested on that dissipated energy junk. Tell the instructor to go do a little smithing then come back and tell why he was mis-informed.
   burntforge - Wednesday, 07/13/05 13:58:46 EDT

Bob, Burning elm.
From an old poem (which I don't know the provinance of) "Elmwood burns like churchyard mold, e'en it's flames are very cold. But ashwood green, or ashwood dry if fit for any queen to warm her feet bye" But in practice when dry elm makes a nice fire, but I find it miserable to split, and takes about 3 times as long to dry as maple or poplar here.

Of course this shows that poet's don't allways know what they are talking about either.
   JimG - Wednesday, 07/13/05 14:10:53 EDT

Jeff Hawke and Chestnut trees

You have done your homework, now is the time for you to step aside and have the teacher look at you source of information. Invite your instructor to post to the Anvilfire forum. He can talk directly to knowledgable Blacksmith's about the topic.
   - Conner - Wednesday, 07/13/05 14:32:13 EDT

Jeff, it sounds to me that your instructor got sold a line of crud, or fell for the "Union soldiers cut of Anvil Horns" syndrom.

If you haven't heard the Union anti-horn campaigne, a smith was pondering about all the anvils with broken off horns he'd seen. So he started to wonder, if Union soldiers may have sabotaged the anvils, by breaking off the horns. Well, he discussed this a time or two with folks, and sure enough, his theory came back to him as a Set in Stone Fact. Actually, when he concluded his research, it did NOT support his original theory. But, now that theory has a life of it's own. It isn't on Snopes yet, but give it time.
   Monica - Wednesday, 07/13/05 14:40:41 EDT

There is a miniature anvil on eBay (6193620438)for the Fred C. Gichner Iron Works. Wash D.C. I believe Bill's parents had such a company. Is this is family's business?
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 07/13/05 14:49:47 EDT

Single Phase 4 lead: Partick, I would do as suggested above and take it to a motor shop. I have sorted out 3PH HV/LV windings with a VOM but this is a bit more tricky. Normally there are two leads for an old 1PH motor with the ground going to the body. I suspect two get connected to one for LV and two to each other for HV but usualy you need the motor plate for this.

Note that 20-22" back geared drill presses used 1 HP motors, 16-18" used half or 3/4.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/13/05 15:22:24 EDT

"Beneath the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands" If the chestnut is actually a stump, how is the smithy under it unless dug out as an underground room and that sounds REALLY unlikely.
   John W - Wednesday, 07/13/05 16:07:58 EDT

Hi Jock, I'm assuming your in NC, hope your OK, Thanks for you help on the 4th,went by you home as few time and also called,Pete would not tell me anthing,can I use the article about "iron in hat" for the BRBAVA? If you are planning coming back anytime soon?
   Bobby Floyd - Wednesday, 07/13/05 16:26:36 EDT

Patrick, I think that you'll find that 2 of those wires go to the start capacitor and 2 go for ac power or if the starting cap is already connected then they are two 110v windings that need to be wired in parallel to run on 110 vac. The motor shop can get it right for you but there may be a small wiring diagram on the cover where the connections are made..
   dale - Wednesday, 07/13/05 16:33:53 EDT

What is the marble theory?
   Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 07/13/05 17:12:21 EDT

I will add a bit on chestnuts, firewood, Elm ETC.
Firts, not all chestnut trees were quickly cleared. My grandfather owneda mountainside of chestnuts in Leslie Co. Ky. Blight killed em in late 20's/30's. he was still cutting mine props and RR ties from the dead trees still on the stump into the 50's. According to my Mother, he was getting $0.25 per tie. That was for hand cut, hand hewed RR ties made from dead dry trees in the 50's.
I have burned much elm in an airtight and in my outside woodburner, and liked it quite well. Most guides that list splittabilty list elm as "Won't":)
I like locust even better in an airtight stove of my outside burner, but its special quality is the long drying time. I like mulberry best, when green splits like a dream, and when dry is dense and burns well. Just takes about three years to dry.

I have never seen a reference to a real stump being used for an anvil. I have been thru Practical Blacksmithing and I do not recall seeing it there either. As for building a shop over the stump, thats going to cause problems with settling as the roots dry and rot.
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/13/05 17:26:44 EDT

Ken-- Yes.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 07/13/05 17:28:26 EDT

Tyler, when you start smithing you go out and buy a big bag of marbles and everytime you learn something you give away a marbles: when you have lost all your marbles you're a smith!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/13/05 17:56:52 EDT

I noticed on the Harbor Freight website that they have a recall on some of their weedburners. I anyone bought one of these to use as a burner you might want to check it out.

Problems with things that use propane and fire are to be avoided if possible.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/13/05 17:58:46 EDT

If the tree is a stump then its not "under the spreading chestnut tree" its "over the block chestnut stump" :)
   adam - Wednesday, 07/13/05 18:20:07 EDT

erm... "blocky"
   adam - Wednesday, 07/13/05 18:26:26 EDT


Again, thanks to all for the good information regarding my post. I will definately invite the instructor to post the theory regardging the chestnut tree stump for anvil mounting.

He had another question regarding the proper height of the anvil from the ground. Some quick Google work revealed that the proper height would differ depending on the hammer downswing of the individual Smith. I learned that the anvil should be positioned to match the downswing so that the hammar strikes the iron squarely without unnecessary down travel.

Does this or any close variation sound right?


   Jeff Hawke - Wednesday, 07/13/05 18:34:34 EDT

Jeff, look at the I-forge demo on hammer control. You want the anvil at knuckle height.
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 07/13/05 19:25:28 EDT

Yeah - hammer handle should be parallel when it strikes the work. Usually we use "knuckle height"
   adam - Wednesday, 07/13/05 19:25:57 EDT

Jeff: Knuckle height is only a rule of thumb. It somewhat depends on how heavy of work you are doing on it. I made an anvil stand for a knifemaker with a bad back which was 6" higher than his knickles. It allowed him to work on the blades without having to bend over much.

Bear in mind also once an anvil is set on a large block of wood (or other solid surface), it is difficult to adjust up or down for different smiths using it. Somewhat you work with what is available.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 07/13/05 20:50:12 EDT

A friend of mine is just getting started in blacksmithing. He lives in a place where coal is hard to get. He sent me this note:

"I've got a question about forge fuel. I have a friend who works at a graphite plant. They throw away about 200 lbs of almost pure carbon pellets each day. Would that make an adequate fuel? I know it will burn, but I don't know how well it would work in a forge."

I've never heard of it. Any ideas?
   Don A - Wednesday, 07/13/05 22:08:31 EDT

Geez, now I see where I went wrong! I should have listened to that knowledgeable instructor of Jeff Hawke's before I foolishly built my smithy and then dragged in a stump for the anvil to sit on. Instead, I should have cut down a tree, mounted the anvil and then built the shop around it. What a concept! What a crock.

And having my hammer blow dissipated is the very absolute last thing I want. I want that sucker to smack the bejabbers out of the hot iron and then rebound nicely so that I don't have to do all the work lifting it up for the next blow. By the professor's reckoning, I'm doing so many things wrong I have no hope of ever being a real smith. Drat! A couple dozen years of my life spent doing things wrong, and I can never get them back. Woe is me; what will I do now? Wait, I have it...I can profess.

Jeff, to answer your question about anvil height, I have the simple solution. I have three anvils, all mounted at differing heights. For fussy close-up work, I use the highest one. General work is done on an anvil that is mounted a bit higher thn knuckle high, because that's the way I prefer it. Lastly, upsetting and sledging is done on an anvil that is usually sitting on the floor. This is just what works for me, and is no more an ironbound rule than any other. Ya uses it the way ya likes it, son.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 07/13/05 22:13:36 EDT


I swore I was not going to jump in on this chestnut thread, but here I go. A smith doesn't want a round-sectioned trunk for an anvil stand, because it gets in the way. His/her toes and legs bang into it, and if tools are hung on it, it is REALLY in the way.

I keep going back to one of my first purchased books, "The Blacksmith's Craft". I quote, "The livliness or spring of an anvil is much improved [over angle iron] by mounting it on a wooden block preferably made from a squared-up trunk of elm. This should be sunk at least 3' into the ground with the grain standing vertically." The book further
states that the disadvantage of this setup is that the block cannot be moved out of the way, if need be.

Note that the authors say "squared-up trunk". I like the timbers to be the same size as the anvil base, when possible.

There are several species of Castanea (chestnut) native to Europe, but I'm sure if they were in the UK.

Building a shop over an in situ chestnut tree to obtain an anvil stand sounds like a crock to me, as vicopper points out.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/13/05 22:18:38 EDT

Folk Beliefs, Customs, Legends, and Rules of Thumb:

Useful, usually right on some level, but not always accurate. However, if Grandpa got a bad burning batch of wood, would you argue with him? Stories and "facts" were frequently changed to suit the individual or to make a better story.

My favorite was relayed to me by a friend from the Eastern Shore. The family always cut off the tip of the ham before baking it. Finally, the husband asked his wife why she did it.

"Makes it bake better, I guess, but I'll ask my mother."

Her mother responded: "Because your Grandmother did it; I'll have to ask her."

Grandmother's reply: "So it would fit into the pan when I baked it."

Hot and humid on the banks of the lower Potomac. The longship Sae Hrafn is somewhere east of Littlerock.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/13/05 22:36:05 EDT

I am in the process of building a side draft forge in a new hobby shop we built. There is a question as to the material needed for the chimney, as in how hot will the gasses be. The building is a 2 story and the materials estimate for the chimney is 1700 due to the class of material needed. My question is how much heat should be expected in the chimney. Dont want to underbuild it but dont want overdue it due to lack of experiance or knowledge. Thanks for any help in advance.
Bill Adkins
   Bill Adkins - Wednesday, 07/13/05 23:45:23 EDT

Ken-- Gichner's ironworks was out on on East Capital Street in D.C. last time I saw a sign for it, years ago. Before that it was in Georgetown, I think. Bill took his share of the trove of tools when the business ended or moved or something, and installed it in his Iron Age antique shop and warehouse(s) in Ocean View, Del. A good bit of it is still there, now The Front Porch. This trade favour anvil on Ebay goes wayyyy back. A friend tells me Bill had many of them.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/14/05 00:19:04 EDT

Splitting elm, elm is easy to split with a power log splitter but only when it is frozen, up here in the great white north we have found that it splits fairly easily below 10 degress F but you need at least a 7hp splitter. Since there is a recurrance of Dutch Elm desease here, we may be splitting elm this winter.
   - Hudson - Thursday, 07/14/05 01:14:07 EDT

Chestnut tree

I think the idea that the smithy was built around a stump is ridiculous. The smithy stood UNDER the spreading Chestnut tree. Not "Where the spreading chestnut tree used to stand." There would be no solid, stump under a mature tree. Stumps came from cutting trees or from trees so rotten they broke. There would not have been time, since settlement to Longfellow's time for a mature tree to developed over a stump. Even a chestnut stump would have rotted too much to use as an anvil base. The stump size and shape alone, as previously mentioned makes the idea ridiculous.

Longfellow just picked on a nice hapenstance of NO significance and wrote a nice poem. The Smith is the focus. the tree just stood there.

John Odom, Chatttanooga, TN

   - John Odom - Thursday, 07/14/05 07:43:18 EDT

Elm was used for cannon carriages and trucks specifically because it was so difficult to split. Each wood had its uses according to its properties. I was hoping to get some elm from the D.C. tree department when they culled out some, but it didn't work out. I can't ask the NPS, that's against the law for me. ;-) ("Mr. Blackistone; just WHAT did you do with the elm trees on the National Mall?!")

In my studies of medieval history and folklore I've picked up a lot of lore about ash, and oak, and willow, and rowan, but zip about chestnut. Not that it might not be there, but it doesn't seem to be common in my experience.

A shade tree, ANY shade tree is a good thing to have by the forge, and the hybrid poplar is doing just fine, about as tall as the barn, but not exactly "spreading". Sort of shaped like me, I guess.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/14/05 08:27:43 EDT

My grandfather's land in West Virginia has an American Chestnut growing on it. It is stunted by the blight, but it is very much alive. When the nuts are ripe their hulls have rather unpleasent spikes on them. I wouldn't want to be pounding iron underneath those missles, they are worse than acrons.

Stephen Galperin, New Hampshire
   Stephen G - Thursday, 07/14/05 09:04:32 EDT

Don A, i am very curious as to if those "almost pure carbon pellets" would work as forging fuel. try it and let us know. the forge coke that i use is said to be "mostly carbon", what percentage i dont know. i know some things about "forge coke"; it can get intensely hot and it is not easy to light. it seems to be more efficient vs coal as i can use a 5 gallon bucket of it for several hours worth of work. my guess is that i would have gone through two or more bags of coal. advise on lighting it if you have trouble: use small chunks of hard wood and get it blazing before you add the fuel. try it!!

   - rugg - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:00:08 EDT

Built around a tree: In the Elliad, Ulysses built his bed attached to a strong and ancient olive tree for permanence and then built his house around the bed. This tree symbolized strength, Greek life and the life of the family.

Although this sounds like an archetectural nightmare it works in the dry Mediterranean where open courtyards (with trees) are common. Such open courtyards are even common in wet tropical climates.

Chestnut and walnut were so common in North America that they were often used for furniture and veneered over with tropical hardwoods like mahogany. We have an old Wardrobe that is walnut with mahogany veneer and I have seen oak veneers over chestnut even though they are very hard to tell apart. My parents old Victorian home had chestnut floors and panelling in all but the parlors which were cherry, painted maple and birds eye maple. The main stairway and all the parts were chestnut.

All over the Eastern US you can still find old chestnut and walnut barns and log cabins although they are becoming rarer now. Chestnut barns and log cabins are still being mined for their wood in the Southern US and converted to furniture and decorative crafts items.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:05:22 EDT

Stephen, there are probably a handfull of auboritum (SP?) societies that would love to get their hands on some of those nuts (or a grafting from the tree itself). If your grandfather's tree was JUST stunted, and not killed, it has some natural resilience against the blight, and that would be usefull in breeding resistant strands. Heck, I wouldn't mind a nut or 20. But then, my grandfather was heavily involved in the Iowa Arbaritum, to the point that when he died, the arbaritum was the "fourth child" of his estate.
   Monica - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:06:22 EDT

comment/question on anvil rebound: is it really easier on your hammer arm working on an anvil that has rebound vs one that is "dead" when you are forging steel that is hot(soft)?? isnt the mass of the anvil the critical determinant? if an anvil has "good rebound" doesnt that signify that it will be more durable, resisting damage from mislicks? when forging hot steel, does the anvil rebound help to return the hammer into position. i dont think so, but i may be wrong. i have almost popped myself in the face with a mislick when detail forging. i have not used a dead anvil, so i cant say that my hammer arm has more stamina with one that is "live". are not power hammer anvils cast iron? i know the dies are tool steel, tempered for durability. isnt that the real issue, that is "good" rebound predicts durability of the anvil and not the operators extremity?? comments/opinions??
   - rugg - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:17:17 EDT

My college roomate's farm house was framed with black walnut and I still have a section of a 2"x16"x16' blackwalnut plank I rescued when they bulldozed down and burnt a barn in NJ to build a house on the lot. Not so bright cityfolk; if they had told me that was what they were planning to do I could have gotten them about $25,000 for the wood in it through a company that specialized in remilling "recycled" wood...

I too have anvils at 3 different heights---as well as one on the floor---ask the Proff "what is the proper speed to drive on a road?" It depends on the conditions, what you are driving and how it's loaded...He sounds like a "one book wonder" to me.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:19:25 EDT

Graphite as Fuel: Don, Graphite is an unusual carbon molecule with most of the bonds in carbon carbon bonds. This makes a flat plate which is slipery and thus good as a dry lubricant. It also makes a refractory carbon that is used to make crucibles and is difficult to burn. The carbon must reach the vaporization point to produce carbon gas before it will burn. This is a very high temperature so graphite does not make a very good fuel.

Pelletized and other molded forms of graphite are glued together with a range of substances from copper and cobalt to epoxy. Depending on the matrix they will burn but the graphite will not. If it burns easily then the product is amophorous carbon such as carbon black or charcoal.

   - guru - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:33:46 EDT


Hammer rebound is a definate advantage when working hot soft steel. Even beyond the "dead vs Live", I can feel the differnce in arm fatigue between my 100 and 150 Fishers.

Beyond that, the rebound does more than JUST lift the hammer back up. You hit the workpiece, and the force goes hammer-work-anvil. On a dead anvil, that's it. On a live anvil, it goes hammer-work-anvil-work-hammer. Not only does it lift the hammer, but it re-works the workpiece too. Not as much as hitting it twice, but on a side by side comparison (can yout tell I did this when I got my new anvil in?) it does make a difference. May only be a few hits each piece, but after a full day, it adds up.
   Monica - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:48:21 EDT

Built around a tree: Most trees grow fast enough to make this a poor idea. Olive trees grow exceptionally slowly. Also, Jock, I hate to be the one to break it to you but "Ulysses" is a fairy story and doesnt even rate being quoted as an anectodal example. Next week we discuss Santa Claus.
   adam - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:48:41 EDT

Anvil Rebound: Rugg, as you sumized in your question this is not a simple subject.

Yes, the rebound indicates the hardness and durability.

No, it does not reflect greater forging efficiency on hot steel. Solid continous mass in line with the blow is critical to efficiency.

Yes, the rebound makes forging easier. When a smith works not every stroke strikes the work. When turning or studying the work between strokes the smith keeps his rhythm by bouncing the hammer off the anvil face (ringing the anvil). Not all smiths do this but those that do need a lively anvil with good rebound.

Please note that if ringing the anvil is not a natural part of your rhythm DO NOT FORCE IT. You will end up looking like one of those actors that was instructed to hit the work then the anvil, tink, tink, tink. . . (barf!).

Ringing the anvil comes natural for some folks and not for others. I do it more late in the day when I am tired and when working on small pieces that I need a moment to study before the next blow.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/14/05 10:59:34 EDT

Guru, I have to argue with your No statement.

We forge metal soft, but not molten. The rebound is reduced in soft, hot metal, as opposed to, say directly against the anvil, but I still maintain that it is there. It does get more dramatic as the work cools, and the increased rebound is one of the "this is too cold to work" cues that I use when it's time to put the piece back into the forge. Now, this is just was I feel I've experienced, and I can't think of a good way to prove this in a test environment.
   Monica - Thursday, 07/14/05 11:36:59 EDT

On the home front, I've got a bunch of chestnut trees that are supposed to be American/Chinese hybrids - at least that's what I was told when I purchased the property. The wife's father was an amateur botanist whose interests included reviving the American chestnut. They're about 25 to 30 years old now, and have a very aggressive branch spread. Also, the husks, from the nuts require cleanup or they impact the grass quite a bit away from the tree.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 07/14/05 12:29:36 EDT

Fairy Stories:

Next you'll be telling me that there is no Troy, that Leif Erickson never landed in North America; and that the British didn't drag the pews out of Chaptico Church and stable their horses there during the War of 1812 (family oral history, later backed by research and documentation).

Even fairy stories have some core of meaning or truth to them, and if Odysseus didn't do it; the meaning is clear for those who want to see.

The world is wide, and abounds with wonders. Some things that seem fantastic were commonplace, and some things we take for granted are figments and impositions of our modern imaginations upon past times. Our ancestors would regard a TV remote as a magic wand to a magic box, where our descendants may consider us despicably lazy for not getting off the couch and pedaling the generator to power the appliances. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/14/05 13:17:38 EDT

Do a Google search for the American Chestnut Society. Likely they can lead you to a nursery selling the hybrid, bright-resistent American Chestnut. We have a tree in the county which continues to be a matter of debate as to whether or not it is a true original American Chestnut. Half of those who have studied the wood grains, bark and nuts say it is. The other half say it is more likely something like the European Horse Chestnut. A blight (or plague) seldoms kills the entire population, so likely there are still some originals around. Whether they are blight-resistant or just haven't been exposed???
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 07/14/05 13:26:41 EDT

Hey, i was just wondering how i could buy a japanese anvil, the old kinds that just sit on the ground, if there arent any for sale, can you tell me the exact dimentions, if there were any and what kind of steel they were, some ive seen on different websites almost look like their made of rock, would they have been?
   Katana - Thursday, 07/14/05 13:50:55 EDT


A typical Japanese anvil is a lengthy block of steel about 5" x 10"or12" at the face. It is buried in the earthen floor of the shop 18" or more, and sticks up above ground 8" to 10".

You must realize that the Japanese smith commonly sits on one foot, so to speak, folding that leg under him while pushing and pulling the bellows handle. When ready to hammer, he rises up on the knee of that same leg to get leverage into the blows.

I suspect the way to get an anvil similar to what I've described, is through salvage.

>"The Craft of the Japanese Sword" by Kapp & Yoshihara
>photos of Yataiki, Japanese saw maker
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/14/05 14:36:59 EDT

I'm trying to research an ancient Talmudic passage dealing with the properties of Iron heated in a forge. Basically, in certain instances in order to make an iron vessel kosher, the Talmud requires one to heat the vessel "untill the shell, or crust falls off" or alternately "untill sparks fly". It is unclear as to whether the Talmud requires sparks must fly on their own, or whether this could be achieved by impact with a hammer or anvil. From what I have read it would seem that when iron is heated to 1600 F or so, some sort of crust or scale forms, which flakes off at 1800 F or so when the iron turns orange/yellow.Also it seems that at around 2350 F or so some sparks begin to fly on their own. Since you guys are the experts, I'm wondering if you could tell me if this is indeed the case. Also I'm wondering what the minimum tempurature would be that one would observe sparks flying off upon impact with a hammer or anvil.
Thanks in advance,
Rabbi Jacobowitz
   Rabbi Jacobowitz - Thursday, 07/14/05 15:00:46 EDT

Here in the Caribbean, a high percentage of the homes are built with a courtyard, or around a courtyard. Depending on the particular location, the purpose of the courtyard may be for cooking or for general living area or for sleeping area. Most commonly it is used for all three, varying somewhat with the season. The majority have some type of tree planted planted in them, usually a shade tree with fairly short stature.

Tall trees are not desireable in a courtyard in a region where hurricanes are common and drinking water is customarily obtained from the roof via a cistern. We just don't enjoy leaves in our gutters and cisterns, nor do we want our houses crushed by a falling tree in a storm. But we sure do like them for shade and for cooling the area!

I wonder if, in arid regions, building around or near a tree might have been because the presence of a tree indicated the presence of reachable subterranean water. Digging a well is a major task, but a very necessary one, and one wouldn't want to have to dig three or four to find one that produced water. Many Southwestern estancias have central courtyards with both a tree and a well, as I recall. Enough that I think there may be a connection, anyway.
   vicopper - Thursday, 07/14/05 15:20:40 EDT

Monica - If you want chestnuts, I'm visiting WV next week. Email me.
   Stephen G - Thursday, 07/14/05 15:48:52 EDT

Just because fairy stories are sometimes found to have truth mixed in with the fantasy doesnt suddenly turn them into a reliable source. Of course there is always SOME truth in a story - the best lies have a lot of truth woven into them. And even a pathological liar tells the truth from time to time - doesnt mean you should start trusting him.

The ancient Greeks were a seafaring people (and still are today). Legends about sailing adventures are a natural in that culture - like Sindabad the Sailor etc. Perhaps there was an actual Odesseus - perhaps not - perhaps he fashioned his nuptial bed on a live olive tree. Perhaps not. Which part is true? All,none, some? You are listening to oral tradition, which is a pathological liar.

Cyclops;? Medusa;? Islands that slam together like hydraulic steel doors;? Olive trees made into beds? These need real evidence not some yarn thats been transmitted from mouth to mouth.
   adam - Thursday, 07/14/05 15:55:38 EDT


Iron at about 2400F does throw sparks but this is very hard on the metal and can only really be done in preparation for heavy forging or welding. For finished work - (you are talking about koshering a pot that has been used? yes?) - raising it to that temp would ruin it.

At orange heat, and I think this is about 1600F, scale forms. This is a high temp oxide like rust. If the smith strikes scaley work then hot flakes of scale will fly off and these do look like sparks to the casual observer. I wouldnt consider them true "sparks" but this might hinge on the actual Hebrew/Aramaic word used in the Talmud.

BTW could you please give us the reference in the Talmud?

Bringing a whole iron vessel upto 1600F without damaging or distorting it would be a tricky business and probably not worth it. I would try a heat treating shop for that kind of job and I would expect to pay more for the work than I did for the pot.

A final complication: The rabbis were almost surely talking about iron while any pot you bought today would be made of steel, stainless steel, cast iron all of which have significantly different properties from soft porous iron that would have been available in their time.
   adam - Thursday, 07/14/05 16:31:54 EDT

Does anybody who is experienced with gas burners know if the T-Rex burner on hybridburners.com would be easy for a novice to operate? I'm starting to think the whisper baby is a rip off. You can't weld w/ it and it costs more than it would to put together a forge with the T-rex which can weld.
   - Tyler Murch - Thursday, 07/14/05 16:33:27 EDT

Tyler, I think any propane forge could weld, IF calibrated correctly. The whisper, right out of the box, would not/could not be calibrated right. There's too many variables for the factory to be able to have it that well tweeked.

That being said, I don't know that the T-rex would be any easier or harder to fine-tune for a novice. The hard part is enterpreting the fire you have, and figuring out if it's running too rich, or too lean, has enough venting, etc. Humidity, barometric pressure, altitude, etc., all have subtle effects, and pressure gages vary from just inaccurate to Yea, whatever. So therej's no one "formula" that you could be given to get the perfect burner. You have to play with it.
   Monica - Thursday, 07/14/05 16:48:51 EDT

I've made 3 forges with the T-Rex burner, they work great.
They have all been made in old propane tanks or freon tanks.
I use rammed refractory material instead of kaowool, it takes longer to heat up the forge, but it also lasts a lot longer.
Good Luck
   blackbart - Thursday, 07/14/05 16:50:03 EDT

Regarding tweeking burners, there was a thread some time back on determining the rich/lean/just right cues, dragon's breath, etc., if you search the archives. I know because it happened roughly when I put together my gasser, and I learned a whole lot from the thread.
   Monica - Thursday, 07/14/05 16:54:45 EDT

New to this, and have a question for anyone about possibly making my own anvilout RR Rail. Here goes, if I were to weld sheet metal from one end to the other down the the rail, aswell as filling with lead and welding on end caps(one of the end caps goes on before the lead goes in). And then welding feet onto the part where the trains wheels actually touch so it can stand in the upside down position,giving me a wider face sense the bottom is wider than the top. Would this be a huge waste of my time or would it work untill I can afford the anvil I want.

I'm very sorry I couldn't be more specific,but thanks for atleast trying
   - ANTIBEOUS - Thursday, 07/14/05 16:58:29 EDT

Thanks Bart and Monica. Also, with the purchase of the T-Rex what else will I need just to run the burner? Gages, hose, what else?
   - Tyler Murch - Thursday, 07/14/05 17:02:02 EDT

In the dropdown menu (upper righthand courner where it probaly says "NAVIGATE anvilfire" there is an FAQ's go there and then go to the anvil selection link. There is a bit there on make do anvils.
Good luck.
   JimG - Thursday, 07/14/05 17:44:20 EDT

JimG thanks a bunch.
   - ANTIBEOUS - Thursday, 07/14/05 17:49:48 EDT

Lead/Steel RR-anvil: ANTIBEOUS, Yes it would be a big wast of time. You would be better off with a beat up old junker of a REAL anvil. The lead will rapidly seperate from the flexing steel adding little effective mass and no support. Melting and dealing with the lead is hazardous as well.

Spend your time and money going to blacksmith meets and you will find someone with an inexpensive old anvil. One with a worn swayed face, broken horn and rounded edges is much better than a RR-rail anvil of any sort.

Next option is a big heavy lump of almost anything in the 100+ pound range.

The most effective RR-rail anvil would be a piece long enough to not need a stand set verticaly. This will weigh about 100 pounds depending on the rail section and put almost ALL the mass directly under the hammer blow. It will need a foot or to be attached to the side of a heavy log. See iForge demo #45 figures 17-19.

This small target is similar to what many knifemakers are using today and will quickly train you have hammer control. In the real world many smiths work in a small sweet spot no bigger of just a few square inches.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/14/05 17:49:53 EDT

thanks Guru
   - ANTIBEOUS - Thursday, 07/14/05 17:57:38 EDT

Koshering a pot, one thing Adam didn't mention is that the old soft iron actually deals with high temperatures better than the modern steels do. In fact you generally can work old real wrought iron at a temp where modern A36 "mild steel" is burning like a sparkler. It is still hard on a pot as it represents a loss of thickness due to the scale.

Heating till the surface scales would insure that no prior coatings or "left overs" would still be present---the goal of the process.

Can this process be used to switch a pot from meat to milk use or vice versa?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/14/05 18:36:37 EDT

Chestnut, Elm, etc.
Check out Oliver Wendell Holmes "The Deacon's Masterpiece", aka "The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay". (Google) Cute little ditty that makes reference to the preferred wood for a particular application.
   - Tom H - Thursday, 07/14/05 18:56:01 EDT

Black Walnut
Used to be pretty common in SW Missouri. Grampa told of salvaging out an old house 100% Black Walnut. Beams, joists, studs, flooring, sheeting, all of it. They burned it for firewood!
   - Tom H - Thursday, 07/14/05 18:58:11 EDT

Purifying an Iron Vessle: Rabbi, There are two different types of iron vessle. Cast iron like common cooking pots or frying pan and wrought pans and pots. Your method should only be applied to wrought pots made from maleable wrought iron or steel. Wrought iron is the old hand made bloomery product that would have been the most commonly known wrought product during biblical times. Wrought iron is nearly pure iron with some slag inclusions. Steel was also available but was used primarily for edged tools and weapons at that time.

In the following the term "iron" is used for the maleable products, wrought iron or steel.

When iron or steel is heated to a red heat it begins to oxidize. The oxide forms a hard brittle blue black skin known as "scale". Under the right conditions heavy scale will flake off on its own. Usualy it requires some help such as working under the hammer. The goal of the blacksmith is to create as little scale as possible. In your case you would want to hold the vessle at temperature for a longer time than necessary to get it hot. This longer time would create heavier scale that would flake off on its own or with a little help.

Heating to the sparking point is burning the iron. At just below this point the steel will throw off sparks or yellow hot scale when worked under the hammer. At near the burning point the surface of the iron melts and will splatter when struck. At this point the scale also melts and can become tighter on the iron OR flake off when it cools depending on conditions in the fire. The burning point varies with the type of material. In steel (which is iron with carbon) the temperature is several hundred degrees lower than for pure iron or wrought iron.

Heating to the burning point will easily damage a piece unless it is fairly thick. I would not heat a cooking pot less than 3/8" (10 mm) to this temperature. Heating to scale is less damaging but WILL reduce the thickness of the metal. You would not want to repeat this process over and over.

The temperature you gave are more or less correct but the burning temperature is a little low. 2500 F is closer to the burning point for steel and higher for wrought iron. Almost any blacksmith would gladly demonstrate scaling and burning for you on a piece of scrap.

There is a famous Israeli smith that you might want to discuss this with. See Who is Uri Hofi:. His website with e-mail is listed under the links. He will be in the US in Late July and August.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/14/05 19:05:16 EDT

Scaling temperatures.

An extractive metallurgist gave me this information. Most shop steels begin to scale at 1550F. They become "free scaling" (scale loosens, becomes "corn-flakey") at 1680F. At 2280F, the metal begins to lightly spark. Tiny particles of iron or steel leave the parent material and burst, looking a little like grinding wheel sparks.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/14/05 19:40:28 EDT

Thank you all for your informative answers.
Adam, the reference I quoted is the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Avoda Zara page 76 regarding the crust, and the Jerusalem Talmud at the very end of the same Tractate regarding the sparks. There is not much more to go on. The Talmud is commenting on a law requiring something called "libun" - literally translateable as "whitening, or perhaps cleansing, through fire" for a vessel that became non kosher. The Talmud inquires as to what degree must the "libun" be performed and it then gives the aforementioned answers.
This process can certainly be used to switch a pot from milk to meat.The commentaries actually seem to understand this process as not only taking care of any coatings or leftovers on the surface of the vessel as you mentioned, but also any molecules from the previous cookings that may have been absorbed into the actual walls of the ancient pots. It certainly would seem that the vessels refenced were made of wrought iron. The commentaries do seem to say that in some cases there is some possibility of negatively affecting the vessel with this process. I know there are some contemporary scholars who seem to understand the Talmudic process as bringing the vessel to a red glow. From what you mentioned it seems that at this level even blows from a hammer or anvil would not necessarily result in sparks emanating from the vessel.
Thanks for all your help.
Rabbi Jacobowitz
   rabbi Jacobowitz - Thursday, 07/14/05 20:06:34 EDT


If the purpose of the cleansing is to remove all traces of previous use, then a temperature above 1200F will be suficient to totally reduce all organic material to ash. I realize this does not follow the dictates for sparking or scaling, but it is adequate from a chemical standpoint. I used to use this temperature as the set point for doing burnouts of organic matter for precious metal casting, where there could be no contaminants left prior to introducing the molten metal to the mold.

As for the metal absorbing contaminants from cooking, I would think that extremely unlikely. Some metal may have a slightly porous surface that could retain trapped contaminants, bnut they do not actualy absorb into the metal itself, but rest in tiny crevices or voids in the surface. A process such as is used for flame hardening, where a very high temperature flame is passed over the surface at a speed that heats only the outer few thousandths of an inch of the metal, would remove all impurities as well, I think. Again, not in compliance with the laws, I know.
   vicopper - Thursday, 07/14/05 20:32:25 EDT

Re: Kosher pots. Wasn't most of the biblical times bronze age? Hittites were mentioned in the pentatauch (sorry about the sp) rather peripherally and werent they the first iron smelters? Wouldnt most vessels in Mosaic to first temple times have been copper, brass/bronze or precious metals?
   John W - Thursday, 07/14/05 20:57:08 EDT

Need some advice about moving a Little Giant #50. Upright or should I lay it down? Dangers both ways as I see it. I have a lot of experience moving heavy objects, shorter machinery, 3 ton stone slabs and more, but never anything this tall. Anyone moved one recently?

   mark - Thursday, 07/14/05 21:06:54 EDT

What does a little giant #50 weight anyhow?
   mark - Thursday, 07/14/05 21:11:23 EDT

The hittites learned how to smelt iron around 3000BC I believe Thats what made them such a threat to the bronze armys of Egypt. That is until Egypt figured it out.

I have a bunch of questions.
-Does anybody know how I can find a conical firepot without buying for $123 from centuar Forge in Wisconsin?
-How set up should I get before I make an out building away from my lumber barn? The question arises because of the obvious flammibilty of lumber and the high heat of forges.
-A black smith offered me lessons for some money and work a month. How much can I learn on my own so that I don't worry about wasting his time?
-How long can igo without buying a professionally made forge? Mines just based on the drum forge design.
-Anybody possibly interested in a 60-70 pound anvil with a cracked edge? Looks fairly old. And it just looks like the edge towards the table is chipped off a bit.
   Aron Obrecht (newbie) - Thursday, 07/14/05 21:43:39 EDT

Oh yeah, and is there some kind of thermometer I can use to get a general heat of the fire until I get a bit more practiced?
   Aron Obrecht (newbie) - Thursday, 07/14/05 21:46:41 EDT

Rabbi: At red heat the pot will scale the most and the most quickly if in a part of the fire where there is plenty of oxygen. In most metalwork, We are trying NOT to form scale on the material. Where I used to work We stress relived weldments at 1400f taking no precautions against scaling, they scaled heavily - a loose scale that flaked off easily.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/14/05 21:58:13 EDT

Before I take a lot of grief over My last post I will add: The weldments were SUPPOSED to be stress relieved at 1400f. The shop was set up well enough to measure and maintain the propper temp, however the heat treat operator may not have been willing, those parts may have been heated well over the specified temperature, but in any case, they always came out the same.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:07:53 EDT

Great Gurus of fire and Iron:
I'm looking for a sort of rubber pad to plop my 50# little giant on. anybody heard of these things?
   Adam - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:26:42 EDT

rugg: Think of the die on the power hammer in the same way that You think of the hard top plate on an anvil. The die or the top plate takes the localized heavy point contact without deformation, and transfers the force to the mass below, which doesn't need to be hard enough to take the point contact, because the die or the top plate has distributed it over a larger area, to a point below what is needed to deform the softer underlying material. Even oil hardening tool steels are only fully hard for about 1/4 to1/2" deep in heavy sections. A dead anvil is "dead" because the surface deforms slightly under impact, some ammount of energy is consumed in this deformation.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:27:48 EDT

Adam, buy a pad used for weight room equipment. Its essentially the same thing.
   Aron Obrecht (newbie) - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:30:37 EDT

   Aron Obrecht (newbie) - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:34:14 EDT

50# Little Giant: These weigh 1800 pounds with motor. The center of gravity is below the dies. I've moved these standing up in a HD 3/4 ton pickup chained to prevent sliding at the base and from tipping at the top. Plywood for load distribution and friction. No problem with the truck. Have also shipped same way with others.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:34:23 EDT

I moved my 25lb Jardine 400km lying down. Just in the back of a pickup truck I never bothered with any blocking or support, just let it rest on the big pulley.
According to the Little Giant spec page on the powerhammer page (accessible by the drop down menu) here on anvilfire a 50lb LG w/o motor weighs 1800 pounds.
This answer brought to you by the letters C,S,I and the colour blue.
   JimG - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:41:15 EDT

Scale and Pots:

When I forge a cookpot out of a 1/8" thick sheet of mild steel, I usually heat the disc/proto-pot until the working area is a yellow and freely scaling on the topside. Scale is my marker, as much as the color, for when the metal forges best. Eric thing (see the Armoury Page in the pull-down menu) forges his medieval helmets at much the same temperature, but without quite as much scaling, due to his custom gas armor forge. I'm sure wrought iron will behave a little differently, but possibly more a matter of degree rather than completely different behavior.

Folklore and History:

Old stories shouldn't be trusted implicitly, but they shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, either. Witness the good Rabbi's question, above. Sounds like an acute observation, preserved as part of the laws and heritage.

Hot and humid on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:46:23 EDT

Bruce: After rereading, I would like to apologize for the strident tone of my reply to your post (fairy stories). While I stand by my opinion, there was no need to be a jerk about it - sorry
   adam - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:48:16 EDT

Aron: Temperature measurements. What I did was to buy a set of Tempil sticks at for the critical temps and used these to calibrate my eyeball. Tempils sticks are a special kind of wax crayon that melts at a specified temp. You can buy them in 50f increments up to 2400F from McMaster. They cost about $10 each so you will likely only want to get three or four but that will be enough
   adam - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:51:38 EDT

ThomasP wrote "I could have gotten them about $25,000 for the wood in it through a company that specialized in remilling "recycled" wood..."

ThomasP, could you email me? My dad is getting ready to burn an old barn framed with the most beautiful timbers. I cannot convince him there is value in them. Those old Iowa farmers are a stubborn lot.
   Sriver - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:52:01 EDT

Chestnut trees: My Grandpop had some nut bearing trees in his orchard that were probably not of the same species as the natrually [dead] ones in the ajacent woods. His were probably purchased hybreds. The stumps of the ones killed by the blight were still plentyfull in the woods in the early'70s when I started hunting, they were about 8" in diameter, indicating when the area was last harvested for charcoal cordwood by the Brooks Iron Company, who had once owned the land. The locations of the charcoal mounds were still evident, as trees were just starting to grow on the round, flat areas, charcoal could be found by digging up the layer of rotted leaves.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/14/05 22:55:18 EDT

Sriver: One of My friends used flooring sawn from old timbers in his Home, an adition to an old farm house. There is definatly a market for first growth wood.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/14/05 23:12:29 EDT

Mark-- I moved a 50-pound Little Giant from Trinidad, Colorado down to Santa Fe about 15 years ago, in a 3/4-ton pickup, lying down on one side, with another several hundred pounds of gear out of an old farrier/blacksmith shop stacked tightly around it. We loaded it with a gin-pole crane, unloaded it with a cherry picker engine hoist. The tricky part is establishing the balance point. The bell bottom is extremely heavy. N.B.,Make a plywood template for the mounting bolts for your foundation BEFORE you stand it up. The factory specs, replicated in Richard R. Kern's book on restoring the beasts, called for a concrete foundation 49 inches by 35 inches wide, by 26 inches deep, with four bolts 5/8 by 23 inches going down through 1 1/4 pipe the first 6 inches. They wanted the hammer to rest on 1/4 or 3/8 thick cork or rubber shim.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/15/05 00:37:56 EDT

Mark-- You've doubtless noticed this already, but the LG trip hammer has a bit of a cant to the dies vis a vis the frame, to accomodate working long stock. Maximize that potential by positioning the monster so that whatever long stuff you may find yourself wanting to beat the hell out of the end of can stick out the door.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/15/05 00:58:44 EDT

Sriver: I'm in NW Illinois and would be willing to come over and pick out the good, and some reclaimable stuff. I could, with help dismantle the barn peacefully and transport some of it away, depending on the trailer I find. I'm esp looking for 4x4 bracers, siding, and six by sixes, but will take whatever I can get. If you interested, email me at closet_anarchist@hotmail.com. If your interested we could work out a deal for payment through that.
   Aron Obrecht (newbie) - Friday, 07/15/05 02:54:40 EDT

Adam, The best (in my opinion, anyway...) mats for installing hammers on are sold by a company called 'Fabreeka' - they are essentially 'rubber plywood' if that makes sense, bonded up with fabric reinforcement. The only downside of these pads is they cost a fortune (we put them under the anvils of BIG industrial hammers) - you have to weigh up the cost of the mat against the cost / inconvienence of lifting the hammer if a cheaper mat collapses.
   John N - Friday, 07/15/05 05:43:26 EDT

Anon Obrecht:

- While you say conical, I assume you mean their 12" round coal pot. It's worth the money, although I would recommend upgrading to the one with the dumping ashgate. If you are willing to pay more for a much, much more heavy duty pot contact Bob Cruiksahnk in Springfield, OH at 937-323-1300. He now sells the Zeller/SOFA pot. While the Centaur pots are about 3/8" thick, the Zeller/SOFA pots are about 5/8" thick. The Zeller/SOFA pots come in there sizes, normal rectangular, long rectangular and round. These are always for sale at the Quad-State Conferences (Sept 23-25) at the Miami County Fairgrounds in Troy, OH. Likely they will also be offered during the Mid-American Blacksmithing Expo and Knife Show at the same location August 26-28. I strongly recommend these pots as they are well worth the extra money.
-- Also keep current on blacksmithing conferences in your area. Most have tailgate sales areas where you might be able to pick up an old complete coal forge. At some of the larger ones, such as Quad-State (and likely the knife show), the major dealers will be there. At least at Quad-State, Centaur Forge doesn't bring a lot of equipment (mostly books). If you are interested in a particular item, such as the firepot, I suspect if you make prior arrangments they will be sure to bring one for you to look over.
-- eBay is a pretty good source of used blacksmithing tools and equipment. However, watch out for S&H costs. They can be more than the item itself. Don't bid without knowing in advance with S&H charges will be.
- Assuming your shop doesn't have a wood floor and the forge is away from the wall, the potential fire hazard is then how you vent it through the roof. If you use a standard fireplace double-walled exhaust venting/pipe you should be fine. Don't try to cut corners at the roof exit point.
- A good blacksmithing can teach you in an hour what it might take you weeks to learn on your own. You will not be wasting their time if you are eager to learn and fairly quickly pick up the skills. Some money and some work for lessons sounds like a fair deal to me, particularly if you practice what you learn at home as well.
- How long you can use the drum forge depends on what you are planning to do. For hobby or occasional usage, it might work for you for a lifetime. If you are going to go into professional smithing, then spend the money on high quality, professional tools. Even here, as far as a coal fire goes, one of the elongated Zeller/SOFA pots placed in some type of metal table should be quite adequate even for professional smithing. E-mail me (just click on my name) and I'll send you back some photos of one such forge. Also don't overlook propane forges. Some shops have both. Propane for most of the work and coal for forge welding or specific uses.
- I would recommend you put the anvil on eBay. If you give us some particulars on it (particularly any writing on the side with the horn to the right) we may be able to identify the manufacturer for you. You can also send me some photographs and I'll see what I can find similar to it in Postman's book, Anvils in America. On what you might get it for? Depends a good bit on how useable it is. If it is a good quality (that is, not cast iron), $1.00 - $2.00 pound isn't unreasonable.
- On temperature of heated iron/steel, most smiths use their eyeball based on the color. Essentially as the metal increases in temperature it goes from red to orange to yellow to whitish. Go to eBay listing #6124538030. The third picture is a color chart for heat and tempering. If you cannot get it to reproduce at full size for you via copying it (use right click), e-mail me and I'll send it as an attachment.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/15/05 07:26:45 EDT


We're both on the same sheet of music; I was just singing the base line to your tenor. ;-)

Ypographical Terror:

In my pot post, above, that was Eric Thing, not "thing," who is a person, and is neither an object nor an assembly of argumentative Norsemen.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 07/15/05 08:09:04 EDT


Your search engines can find recycled "tire mats". My 25# LG has been sitting on 3/4" plywood for 30 years.

MOVING 50# LG. SAFETY. A Colorado farrier was rolling his power hammer on some pipes. It was already upright in the shop and was being moved to the point of installation. He came to about a 1" drop where the floor level changed, and you guessed it, the hammer fell on him. He hollered for his wife who was at their house nearby, and she got help. He survived. However, that ended his career in farriery.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 07/15/05 08:30:55 EDT

It's been years since I started a fire in my home made forge. I need some tips on getting it started. When I start it sometimes in goes and sometimes it burns out. I have a dayton blower with a speed control on it. I use a small piece of hard wood to start the fire with an acetylene torch. What am I doing wrong.
   - Marty - Friday, 07/15/05 10:26:59 EDT

What else do I need to buy to run the T-Rex burner. I'm not talking about what I need to set up a whole forge, I'm just talking about what I need to run the burner. Thank you.
   Tyler Murch - Friday, 07/15/05 10:49:52 EDT

Re: Frank's horror story, I was going to add re: the moving of the LG that when that mother starts to want to tip over, it takes a LOT of muscle to stop it. Not a one-person job if inexperienced. Also, mine is bolted to a raft of RR ties sitting on dirt. Not nearly enough mass-- with a 1 hp motor on top to replace the line shaft, it sways considerably going full out. Don't skimp on the foundation. There is a photo in one of the woodbutcher house series books showing Alexander Weygers's hammer mounted on a low concrete pedestal. Seems like a practical alternative to digging that huge hole, and it would get the treadle up a bit, too.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/15/05 10:50:59 EDT

Marty, Sounds like you need fresh coal (too much old coke in fire) or better coal. Clean the firepot and start with the wood or some paper and a little fresh coal. If you pile on too much coal you can choke a new small fire. Once it is going pile on some more fresh coal. After the fire starts making coke you can add coke you have saved.
   - guru - Friday, 07/15/05 10:52:47 EDT

Moving Machinery can be pretty scary. I've moved 50 and 100 pound LG's up and down ramps and loaded them on my own. Rolling on pipes works well but on slopes you must be careful. In these situations I use a come-a-long anchored to something bolted down (an anchored machine tool).

Besides power hammers I have moved shapers, surface grinders, milling machines, drill presses and lathes. They have been manhandled, scooted with pry bars, had skids attached so that they could roll on pipe rollers. All safely and smoothly.

But I have seen and heard of some disasters. Most damage to old machinery is moving damage. Fork lifts are wonderful tools but they have been the result of more wrecked machinery than the scrap yards. While trying to load a 250 pound Little Giant a friend had two fork lifts trying to lift in scync. . . this was VERY dangerous. They were lucky and the hammer slid off the forks just as the truck stopped under the load. However, the treadle and internal link bar was mangled. Minimal damage but the machine WAS perfect. When I loaded this same hammer we used two hoists to tip it over and then gently set on the trailer. Did the same righting a 350# Niles hammer. The other fellow involved was amazed at how smooth and safely this operation went.

When my father purchased a new (NEW) milling machine we had it unloaded from the closed truck at a local shop because we could not unload a closed truck. The guys in the shop got impatient and one of the fellows thought his tiny Toyota truck was a REAL truck and had the Mill that weighed as much as the truck loaded and tried to bring it home. . . He pulled out onto the slightly banked curve of the road and the Mill tipped taking the truck with it. My brother was in the back "steadying" the Mill and was luckily on the uphill side. The mill fell out on the road breaking the head casting and the truck dropped back on its wheels. We arrived a few seconds later in MY HD PU truck that easily carried the broken machine home. . . There was no insurance coverage on the damaged machine as it was not within 50 feet of our property.

Take your time, be safe.
   - guru - Friday, 07/15/05 11:20:43 EDT

Another power hammer story. One of the members of the Indiana Blacksmithing Ass'n was moving a LG (I think 50 pounder) to his new home a couple of states away. Just had it laying in the back of his king-cab pickup. Car pulled out in front and he slammed on his brakes. The LG kept going forward plowing into the extended cab area. Fortunately no one was back there at the time.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/15/05 11:52:57 EDT

Thanks for thi info on the floor mats. This forum is terrific.
   Adam - Friday, 07/15/05 12:50:32 EDT

Incorrect loading of any load can and does KILL folks.

If you are doing it yourself then I'd recommend everything up to and included bolting it down with everything you can, including the kitchen sink. My brother has LITERALLY had to scrape people up who forgot things like inertia and friction and unsecured heavy objects. He's seen everything from a man who had his head taken off by the speedboat he was towing to a man impaled by about half a dozen scaffolding poles. They were launched by an improperly loaded flat sided wagon that crashed into back of standing traffic on a motorwway. Apparently the worst part of that job was trying to recover the plugs/chunks the chap left of himself in some of the poles. They used mop handles. Rather graphic perhaps but if it 'goes over' there are more important things to worry about than damage to the cargo. Theres the damage to YOU.
Your are so obviously better safe than sorry. 'Over' secure it first, before you even think of moving it on the road. Look at how lucky Guru's brother was. 1800lbs landing on you = going home in a bucket.
just a thought :)
   Tinker - Friday, 07/15/05 13:05:49 EDT

Moving Safety:

What kills most people, in my experience, is a lack of understanding of simple physics. They have no concept of MASS, as opposed to weight. Inertia and momentum are as foreign to their thinking as astral projection. That type of ignorance or lack of understanding forces them to rely on instinct and good luck. Unfortunately, the laws of physics are not a matter of luck. They are inflexible and immutable, and they have NO sympathy or conscience.

Big, massive objects have the capacity to wreak death and destruction if just one little thing goes wrong. There is NO substitute for knowledge, training and the proper equipment when rigging such loads, whether for transport or hoisting and placement. Fatal accidents happen almost instantaneously and are permanent. Paralysis, disfigurement, dismemberment and disability are all permanent, too.

Sometimes, the cheapest insurance you can get is simply hiring a professional to do a job that you are not equipped to do safely. What's your life and health worth?
   vicopper - Friday, 07/15/05 15:12:14 EDT

Mass, weight, intertia, momentum. Good ones, Waugh! We camped at the Taos Pueblo powwow in a borrowed tipi last weekend. When the tipi was taken down, the covering and erection pole were removed, leaving a conical, tipi pole "skeleton". Each pole is then taken down, and we had beginners helping. One guy grabbed a 24' pole by himself and lifted it vertically so the butt was about a foot off the ground. Needless to say, there was too much weight and length above his head. The pole started to fall toward my car! The guy finally let the butt to the ground, and muscled it upright again, but he did some bodily contortions in doing so. The tipi owner hollered, "Walk the pole down! Use two people!!"
   Frank Turley - Friday, 07/15/05 15:53:45 EDT

Frank's story is a classic. We had a construction crew trying to right one of those hollow wood chimneys. . it was about 30 foot tall. Now. . . when you try to walk something upright that the top section is going to weigh more than the bottom section at the point where you have it lifted as high as you can. . . its going to tip over to the high side using YOU as the fulcrum. You go from supporting half the weight to ALL the weight as the thing flips over! Sometimes you need someone to hold the bottom DOWN!

We watched the idiots on the construction crew for about an hour and then took over. Push poles were attached at about 2/3 of the height using large spikes as pivots. Socketed extensions were made for the puch poles so that one the stack was part way up the poles were extended so that we had control all the way up. Took us about 10 minutes to do what the amature carpenters could not figure out in an hour. . .

I had the same problem righting 16' 6x6 posts. The plain posts were no problem but near the limit of what could be done by one man. The problem was two posts with cross pieces that made them very top heavy. A couple push poles (and a helper) solved the problem.

Rigging: A few days after buying my HD 3/4 T Pickup truck I bought 60 feet of 5/16" chain divided in four pieces, grab and chain hooks for each end, six eye bolts and four small (sized to fit) loadbinders. The chains were assembled and the eyebolts installed using 4" squares of 3/16" plate to reinforce the bed of the truck.

Many heavy and awkward loads were hauled without fear of sliding or tipping. Doing the right thing from the start makes life much easier. A truck without sturdy anchor points and suitable rigging is just a modern style statement for the urban cowboy, NOT a truck.
   - guru - Friday, 07/15/05 17:23:22 EDT

Thank you all for the additional input.
John W, the verse actually cited as the source for koshering vessels in in Numbers 31:22 which specifically mentions Iron as well, though the verse describes both vessels requiring koshering through fire as well as vessels requiring only koshering via heated water, hence the mention of lead, gold, and the like.
Vicopper, I would assume that the wrought Iron pots of old which were somewhat crudely fashioned would contain some crevices or voids in which organic matter might become trapped.The commentaries do differentiate between matter absorbed into other food, and matter "absorbed" into a vessel, the latter of which is not considered to be as absorbed and bound into the pot as matter absorbed into food, perhaps do to the reason you mentioned.
One point I forgot to mention is that the Talmudical reference is actually mention a spit, and some sort of roasting rack. These might stand up to a higher temperature without becoming distorted as opposed to a pot, altough the law might actually require the same to be done to a pot.
Thanks to all of you.
   Rabbi Jacobowitz - Friday, 07/15/05 17:51:01 EDT

I soke with a fellow at work today who spent his whole working carrer building and running forge shops. He retired and got bored so he went into the biz of moving forging equipment. He said Fabreeka is thebest period. He said he had pulled the Fabreeka from under presses and drop hammers that had been in service in comercial shops for over 40 years and was still usable. He said that many times the scrap machines yeilded parts and the Fabreeka pad, and the pad yeilded the most $ return! The stuff is very high, but he said if you want the best, and don't want to do it again, use the Fabreeka.
   ptree - Friday, 07/15/05 17:59:53 EDT

Simple items like understanding that Web slings stretch and need retightning after a bit get people in trouble. Things like using hardware store chain instead of load rated chain. Anchoring to flimsey attach points.
As Jock notes, add reinforced attachment points to the truck. I like to go to the frame. A real headache bar is very nice, stops the junk from joining you in the cab. A real headache bar is frame attached and goes from the bed floor to the top of the cab. It will stop most of the loads, but not a rampaging LG.
Trailers? Mine has a 5/8" tiedown bar full lenght and width. Also individual ring points. I carry 8 of the 3" web racheting tie downs in the truck all the time and add to that when I have a special load such as a freshly harvested Acorn. I brought home a 14 x 30 lathe, on my trailer. Weighed less than 5000#( barely) as that was the rating of the fork truck that loaded it. Used 10 each 3" web racheting tie downs. A rigging crew put it on the trailer, and set back to smirk at what they thought would be a too light tiedown job. When done, they walked over and said that I overkilled the job, but that was far better than most did. The lathe came home behind an extremely HD 3/4", and never shifted an iota. Think of the havoc if it had come off the trailer, on the interstate.
I started overkilling tiedowns after a semi, hauling crushed cars, restrained with only wire rope ties lost the load in the Hospital corner of I-65 in downtown louisville at rush hour. He was speeding and the flattened cars came rolling end over end down all the lanes of the roadway. Killed a pair of sisters and a couple of others and injured more.I always consider that accident when I think I am ready to roll. Then I almost always add to the rigging.

We used to move 60,000# machine on pipe rollers on the upper floors of our old 7 story machine shop. Used pinchbars to move, and often a forklift for brakes only. In the first 10 years I was there we probably made a couple of hundred machine moves that way. No injuries. Not to people or machines. But we had a very experienced crew, there was alway thought put into the move as to where the machine wanted to go VS where we wanted it to go and escape routes.

A good rigger with all the tools, while expensive is still very good ecomony in most cases.
   ptree - Friday, 07/15/05 18:20:31 EDT

Moving an LG #50

Well it would seem that I have been given some pretty good advice. I'll heed it. One more question about moving a LG. Since I will probably lay it down and lay it down on a rubber mat and wood blocks, should I dismantle the shaft/pulleys/etc? I will be using a combination of chain and industrial duty webbing tie downs btw, and we will be using a rented trailer with a load rating of 3200 lbs. Plenty of solid tie down places.
   mark - Friday, 07/15/05 19:09:50 EDT

Wasnt there a story a few years ago about a Highway patrolman that imnpounded an Ajax upsetter for overweight and finally the movers had to take it apart to get it off the side of the road. It was some sort of horrendous amount over the road limit.
   John W - Friday, 07/15/05 19:24:29 EDT

I have moved a lot of very heavy equipment and other items over the years with no damage to either myself or the stuff. I just have one little rule that I follow, that has saved me countless headaches and injuries over the years: I never, ever, under any circumstances accept the help of a stranger. Period. No exceptions, no matter how much it looks like a good idea.

Before I learned that lesson, I got hurt a couple times and/or had things damaged by over-eager but unskilled help. I'd much rather spend all day long and into the night doing the necessary rigging to do it alone than risk unskilled help ever again. Down here, I use only my brother Riley, because he and I have worked to gether for so many years we can anticipate each other, never get in each other's way and have a synergy that goes on to make things go easily. If he ever develops a bad back or something, I don't know what I'll do. The professional riggers down here scare me to death.

When I had the sign company and the big crane truck, we used to make and haul sizeable electrical signs all over the place. They weren't that heavy, usually under a ton, but were often overheight and/or pretty long, making them unwieldy and top heavy. Our solution to hauling them on the crane was to weld them to the bed using angle iron stringers and stays. (This only works if you use the irons strictly under tension, and never compression.) When we got to the jobsite, we'd simply grind the welds loose, touch up the paint and swing the sign into place. That Miller rig on the truck paid for itself many times over, doing that task alone.
   vicopper - Friday, 07/15/05 20:10:59 EDT

Mark-- Check the cross-bracing/supports on the underside of that rented trailer. Car haulers can carry a lot of weight, but they are not designed for the nearly 1-ton concentration directly amidships that the Little Giant will present. I left the clutch/pulley, shaft in place on mine with no ill effect. But I would make sure everything is solidly blocked up. Cast iron, even as thick as that frame is, is brittle stuff.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/15/05 20:40:24 EDT

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