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Thumper I hope this info helps after your woopie di do across the street

Steel & Brass


   - Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 00:08:59 EDT

Burnt Forge, Thanks for the info, I looked em up and bookmarked the site to call tommorrow. Curious though, by "woopie di do across the street", are you refering to ebay, or do you know my neighbors?? (Sorta LOL).
   Thumper - Tuesday, 07/25/06 01:15:21 EDT

Thumper: Centaur Forge carries steel and brass button head rivets. Pieh Tool Co. carries brass, copper and steel round headed rivets. Support Anvilfire advertisers and tell them you were referred by Anvilfire.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/25/06 01:15:47 EDT

Lesson learned: For some time my bandsaw cutting lengths have been inconsistent. On long items cuts were right on. On short ones (under one foot) they were often off. Just thought it was carelessness on my part. Turns out the culprit was the China-import 8" x 12" steel square I used for the short markings.

Cut two 18" lengths I needed to bend in the middle, measured using a tape measure. For center I used the square and marked at 9". To double check I marked at 9" from the other end and there was a difference in the lines of a good 1/4". Hummm. Two tape measures put mark exactly in center of them. Compared square to both tape measures and the square was off 1/8" at 8". Same difference when I double checked with an old larger square. On the CI square 1" is off (too long) 1/64". However, each inch afterwards is also off an ADDITIONAL 1/64" to where it accumulates to 1/8" at 8". Looks like when they layed out the inch markings they started with a 1 1/64th measure and then used that same measure for each additional mark (e.g., 1 1/64", 2 1/32", 3 3/64").

I don't use metrics so cannot tell the accuracry of the other side of the square.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/25/06 04:38:32 EDT

I'm sure it's off as well. I always use tape, I also have an AMERICAN made 15" steel ruler from my graphic design days in college. The metric system sucks, the French and Canadians can keep it!
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/25/06 08:47:46 EDT

Imported inches: Well as I see it you got more for your money than if you had bought domestic - so good deal!

I bought a set of letter stamps from HF. Instead of an "A" they gave me an extra "4". I guess if you dont read the Latin alphabet, the two are the same
   4d4m - Tuesday, 07/25/06 09:45:57 EDT

Inaccurate Square? Ken, That is REAL bottom of the barrel stuff. . . MAYBE. I have checked old 1700's hand made square with forge welded corners with modern calipers and an inch was an INCH even when there were no international standards. And although I have not personally checked I am told that inch measures from the 1500's are no different.

Of course this is because the folks that made measuring instruments took pride in their workmanship.

Now. . . are you SURE that is not a shrink rule you picked up? These come in lengths where 12" is longer by 1/8", 3/16" and 1/4". Pattern makers use them for making patterns oversized so that when the cast metal solidifies it is true size. 12/64 = 3/16 so that would be a 3/16" shrink rule.

If it is metric on the other side it should be 25.4 cm at the 10" mark on the oposite side. This would make is a metric/English shrink rule which are hard to come by in this country. If you don't want it let me know how much you want.

Most shrink rules are marked with the amount over 12" on the end or corner. This ones should be marked 3/16
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/25/06 10:04:27 EDT

Po tools will give you po results. Use quality tools if you are after quality results
   - Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 07/25/06 10:04:51 EDT

PROFORGE:, Perry its #1 under its name on google. Try PROFORGE.com

Rivets: Besides the standard suppliers Kayne and Son, Blacksmiths Depot carries a variety of small hammered look rivets.

Maxim: Don't know. I remember doing the interview a few months ago and my daughter called yesterday to say that her boy friend had seen the article. Conversation was like, "Someone with your Dad's name is in Maxim. That IS my Dad! No. . really?"

Also got a note the other day that one of our pages was a googlewhack. However, it did not meet the spelling rules on one term. This is the second time we have been identified as a googlewhack.

Well. . . after waiting 10 days for a new DSL modem from Sprint and spending 10 hours on the phone chasing IP addresses and replacing a router. . I am back on-line on my base PC. Hope to have archives and NEWS posted today.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/25/06 10:22:08 EDT

Adam I'm glad that tightening the packing nuts did the trick for you. There have been other occasional questions about the repair of torches and regulators. I offer this reference to help any who need such services, I hope that by so doing I am not violating any rules or customs of this site. If I am I am sure Jock can remove this post.

I have a friend here in Chattanooga that does torch and regulator etc repair for a living. I have not mentioned him before because I did not know if he would want to do any "mail order" work. I talked to him this morning, and he says he now does quite a bit by mail, mostly from customers who have moved away from Chattanooga. He has parts for and works on all brands. He is meticulous and does fine work. He does not sell new equipment so will not try to talk you into a trade-up.

Contact info:

James Lence

Gas Apparatus Remanufacturing
698 Manufacturers Rd.
Chattanooga TN 37405

1 423 756 6122

He will be glad to discuss your equipment and problems by phone.

He rents space from, and is on the premisis of, the local Airgas dealer, but is not a part of their bussiness. The phone is on their switchboard. You have to ask for James Lence if you call. They answer "Airgas."

He has done good work for me, and is my friend, but I have no financial interest in his bussiness.

John Odom

   - John Odom - Tuesday, 07/25/06 11:26:04 EDT

A question and some news.

The question is ... should you water charcoal when using it for forging?

I've used (natural lump) charcoal for years ... and watered it some to control size of fire and such. Was shop talking with someone and they said water the middle. I tried this ... you can quench the fire a bit and keep it smaller and more concentrated, but I don't see that it really does anything much else.

This fellow was saying if you keep it fairly wet it will drastically reduce your fuel consumption (an issue with charcoal unless you make your own).

Any opinions or ideas.


Have relocated to IL. Will probably be here for some time. Working out of an awning in the back (as usual).

Little riveters forge that I've used for years rusted out pretty bad (probably not worth fixing up) on the trip down from MN ... soooooo ...

Amused the carpenters adding on to my folk's place by scrounging their scrap pile (with permission, of course) and borrowing an idea from the Revolutionary Blacksmith.

2x12 scrap making a 2'x 2' x 11" box. Hole in the side for 1.5" pipe. Filled with dirt, well packed, made a hole for a firepot down to the pipe.

I haven't welded in it yet, but the carpenters don't think I'm so nuts anymore. Lots of work out of a box of dirt.

   Timothy - Tuesday, 07/25/06 11:56:02 EDT

Another question:

Wasn't there an iForge demo awhile back on making silver bracelets? Can anyone point me to it? Seem to remember some good info on anealling and sizing.

   Timothy - Tuesday, 07/25/06 12:03:05 EDT

Timothy ,
Where are you at in Illinois? I am around the greater peoria area, if you are interested we have the Illinois Valley Blacksmiths Association around here... http://www.illinoisblacksmith.org... great group, i wish i had more time to attend all the events.
   - sandycreekforge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 13:18:33 EDT

I was just being funny

I hope the rivet site is a great venue for you. As Ken mentions Centaur is great as well. I just had a feeling you were looking for more rivet options. The rivet supplier has over 38,0000 options.
   - Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 13:42:35 EDT

I meant the rivet supplier has Over 349,000 rivet variations from 20 different materials.
   - Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 13:45:36 EDT

wanting to build a new coal forge, my current one (rivet forge?) is small and cracked, was wondering if 1/4" plate would work well for a firepot and tuyuer(sp?)

also was wondering what you guys thought of using 5160 steel for hot cut tooling? will it hold up to use?
Sandy Creek Forge: im located in pekin, were you at the arts festival in East Peoria last month?
   MikeKruzan - Tuesday, 07/25/06 13:49:39 EDT

Coal Forge Material: Mike, it depends on the duty and durability you want. I have seen entire coal forges made of scrap hot water heater tanks including the firepot.

For sturdyness 1/4" plate is right for a forge table or pan. It will also work fine for the firepot.

Two things damage coal forges, rust and too much heat. The heat is determined by how big a fire and how long there is a continous blast. With a hand crank blower or bellows supplying the air it is difficult to burn out a fire pot. However, I have seen new CI pots that were 1/2" thick or more ruined in one use by piling on a lot of coal, cranking up the air then leaving the forge unattended. Damage ocassionaly occurs when attended but busy working as well.

For durability make your firepot out of the thickest convienient material up to 3/4".
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/25/06 14:12:50 EDT

5160: Mike, this will work fine for hot cut tooling. Smiths have used lower grades for centuries and if you keep your tools cool and not too sharp you can cut like with like.

Hot work steels are a modern invention and are wonderful to use. But they are not absolutely necessary. If you repeated cool and lubricate punches and cutters and are careful not to upset them by punching too deep or hiting the anvil then any steel of higher carbon or alloy than what is being cut will work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/25/06 14:18:00 EDT

Charcoal: Timothy, It does not hurt to water your charcoal if needed. I would not soak the whole pile but fines stick together better wet and you can get some control if needed.

Remember that slaked ash makes lye which is a corrosive that will eat metals.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/25/06 14:22:22 EDT

Thanks Guru,
have some 1/2" plate peices sitting in the scrap pile.. should be enough to build the pot out of..
   MikeKruzan - Tuesday, 07/25/06 14:42:06 EDT

if you are interested, i might know of a source around peoria for another riveters forge at a reasonable price. If you are interested let me know and i will check it out this weekend.
Aaron @ The SCF
   - sandycreekforge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 14:44:08 EDT

Googlewhack, interesting
   - Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 07/25/06 20:00:31 EDT


I don't recall an iForge demo on bracelets, but I can give you a few pointers. I've made a few hundred of them, give or take a dozen.

First, a bracelet mandrel is a really handy thing to have, but you can do without it if you have something to form the work on. Anvil horn, bick iron, scrap metal, etc. Jus tpolish it up relly well before you start. Silver is soft and will take on the surface of whatever it is worked on.

For sizing, keep in mind what it needs to do, then try practice pieces made of stiff paper. Or strips cut from a pop can. Mind you don't have sharp edges, though.

There are abracelets that "clip on", that hook around, and that slip on over the hand. The Slip over the hand ones should be round, and as small as will possibly fit over the hand. And not too heavy either, or they try to slip off all the time. The clip on and closure types are better if they are oval, so they follow the contour of the wrist better.

To anneal silver, heat it to red heat as seen in a dim light, then quench it in water. You can quench it in pickling solution to remove the firescale (oxides) if you wish. Pickle is made of either 10% sulfuric acid in water, or buy Sparex #2 from a jeweler's supply. The Sparex is a bit safer, but even it will burn holes in you Levis if you splatter it on you. Wear an apron, face shield and goggles when quenching.

What more do you want to know?
   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/25/06 21:02:57 EDT

Got a bunch of used circular sawblades. Mostly carbon steel or just the teeth? I checked Junkyard Steel Rules, found nothing in particular about this.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/25/06 22:31:48 EDT

All steel unless you have brazed in carbide inserts.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/25/06 22:46:28 EDT

TGN - Saw Blades: The better quality ones were just soft enough to sharpen with a good sharp file,and be "set" with a saw set. lesser ones were pretty much softer. There were cheap throw away blades that were much harder, not intended to be re sharpened, mostly in Skillsaw sizes. I have no idea what alloy any of them were, but the really soft ones were poor quality to begin with, and probably at the lower end of mediun carbon, if there is that much.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 07/26/06 01:36:23 EDT

Cool, the intended use for these is getting chopped up into pieces for me to use in junkyard art sculpture. I've been really getting into that lately. My folks raise chickens, so I made them a medium sized chicken sculpture. When my dog broke his leg, the vet took care of him for free, so I made him a set of dog and cat sculptures. The saw blades will make nice lion manes, scaredy cat arched backs, etc. I also plan on making a knife from a sawblade for the guy who gave them to me.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 07/26/06 08:27:59 EDT

Junkyard art: Nip, the only thing you need to worry about is welds failing. Arc welding high carbon steels often leads to a very brittle weld zone that can easily break. For most of what you do this will not be a problem but if you build something large, heavy, or that overhangs people (like a mobile) then consider the material and test the welds. Often an anneal or stress relieve with a torch will correct the problem.

I've seen all sizes and types of saw blades used in sculpture. Somewhere I think I saw a porcupine made with a stack of small curcular saw blades.

   - guru - Wednesday, 07/26/06 09:22:54 EDT

Steel in Art: We had a serious discussion with Johan Cubillos of San Jose, Costa Rica about what to do about the restoration of Simon Bolivar's sword on a statue in San Jose's central park. The sword (a plated steel blade that had replaced the original bronze) was soft and folks kept climbing on the statue and trying to steal the sword and ended up bending it. Drooping swords are not a very triumphant or heroic symbol. The embassy that had donated the sculpture wanted it repaired.

The question was, would it be best to make it it from high carbon steel and heat treat it then plate it? The problem was that a hard blade might be more suseptible to breakage and possibly injuring someone. For durability AND strength the decision was to make if of stainless steel with a much thicker cross section. The diamond cross section of the blade lent it to being much heavier without looking heavy. It also had a narrow enough edge to be uncomfortable to pull on or hang off of. A light scale finish was applied so that the sword would match the patina on the bronze statue better.

The point? When selecting metal for public sculpture you need to consider durability and safety. If people can climb on or jump and grab part of it they will. You don't want parts breaking off with sharp ragged edges that might result in injury.

Quality of construction is also important. The city of Asheville, NC bought a number of large steel sculptures from an artist and put them in prominent places about town. Now several are falling apart and a hazzard. Small welds have rusted out and large steel plates have come loose. . .

Not the kind of thing you want in your lifetime OR to be remembered for afterwards.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/26/06 09:35:05 EDT

To Sandy Creek Forge, IL: Aaron(?), I'm in Rockford, probably for the next 2 years (IT being such a great field I'm getting my teaching certificate and finding someplace rural to be an English teacher in ... English Major, Computer Geek, Geek/Blacksmith, Engligh Teacher/Geek/Blacksmith ... call it evolution ... ) and there is a group that meets here ... but I would *love* to visit the group down your way and such.

vicopper: thank you for the silver tips ... actually mostly what I was after was the chart I seem to recall that was rough lengths of stock for "standard" bracelet sizes. I think it was like 7" for women, 9" for men or something like that.

I don't necessarily want to get much into silver right now ... what I've found at events is that making a few "trade bangles" as I call them, and odd things for pendants out of steel scrap get picked up as souveniers. I've been guessing and making things that kinda fit, mostly ... but figured if I could get some "standards" for starting material I'd be guessing less.

To Whoever (apologies for forgetting) ...

D'oh! Charcoal ash ... lye ... ... so on my old riveter's forge ... that might be why there are holes that form arc's where I used to make a fire pot over the tuyer?

Well ... my wood box forge should be immune to rust from lye at least. Thank you for pointing that out to me.

Next project: if I can find the wood I'm gonna build bellows. I'll get photos of this stuff if anyone is interested.

Timothy -- urban guerrilla blacksmith

   Timothy (Raven Turtle Forge) - Wednesday, 07/26/06 11:40:51 EDT

Brattleboro Vermont - beginner blacksmith -
I am selling my blacksmith shop. Anvils, tools, forge, books. My question is, what is the best way to advertise? I am selling it whole, not by piece. I have two anvils, several vices, swage blocks, lots of tools, a whisper baby gas forge (barely used) and other goodies. Also, how do I price what I have. I have collected this stuff over the years. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
   Robin - Wednesday, 07/26/06 12:06:15 EDT


I will trade you two dogs and a wife for the blacksmith shop. hehehe. Hope the little lady doesn't read this or I am in trouble.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 07/26/06 12:18:44 EDT

Dear Burnt Forge,
Its a deal! Let me know what kind of dogs you have and any woman is more valuable than a blacksmith shoppe, so just let me know the details!!! Be well!!! hehehe back to you! Robin :)
   Robin - Wednesday, 07/26/06 13:07:32 EDT

Robin: Every so often a complete set-up like yours comes up on eBay, with local pick up specified. The market then determines its value.

If time isn't an issue you might contact the newsletter editor of each of the blacksmithing groups in the New England area asking them to put a notice of the impending eBay sale, with a specific date given as to when the listing will start. Interested parties can contact you for an inventory list.

On pricing, one method would be to begin bidding at the least you would accept for it. What that might be? Perhaps figure $1.50 lb for anvil/vises/block, 50% of purchase price on forge, $10 each on handled tools and $5.00 each on other tools.

You might also check with historical places which have a smithy for a donation with a tax-write off.

IMHO your best price would be to piece it out over eBay. Weights of up to 150 pounds can be shipped via either UPS or FedEx Ground. USPS has two sizes of Priority Mail flat rate boxes. One is 6" x 9" x 12" and the other is 3.5" x 12" x 14" at a flat $8.10 to any U.S. address and a 70-lb per box limit. You can get a lot of items in these boxes.

Just for general information, at least for UPS Ground you do not need to box up an anvil if under 150 pounds. The label can be placed in a stick on bag and glued to the top of the anvil (and I would wrap clear tape around it was well. There is a $5.00 special handing surchage on this, but it sure beats trying to box one up. Also be aware the www.usps.com price and what you will be charged by a local drop-off point creating the label will be different. The drop-off point adds on about a 25% surcharge for their services.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 07/26/06 13:16:41 EDT

John Odom: thanks for the recommendation. I will take advantage as soon as I can spare the torch for 2 wks.
   4d4m - Wednesday, 07/26/06 14:03:36 EDT

I am the happiest man alive after finally springing for a quality anvil.... that piece of rail road rail just wasnt cutting it. Fortunately, i can cut it up for anvil tools. Anyhow, I have noticed that I am not going to get much further without a blacksmith vise. I read through your faq guru, but it seemed to address the historical and artistic aspects of these tools. I looked around and the first vise I came across was new and priced at $500 (which is what i paid for my anvil). So, my questions to you are: How do you reccomend getting a decent vise for a reasonable price, and what makes a vise decent? Oh, and i really dont want you to take more time than you have to on this. I am sure you have more pressing matters.
   Matthew Marting - Wednesday, 07/26/06 14:32:17 EDT

I was attempting to make a flint striker today. I forged it to shape using a propane torch to heat the steel. The steel I was using is a tang of a file. I heated it to red/orange and tried quenching in oil and then tried to spark it no spark. I tried it again and then got a couple of small sparks. I tried again quenching in water only a couple of sparks. What have I done wrong? Is this steel (old file) suitable for a striker? Am I hardening wrong? Do I need to soften the steel? What??? Help!!!
   djhofmeyer - Wednesday, 07/26/06 14:35:52 EDT

I was attempting to make a flint striker today. I forged it to shape using a propane torch to heat the steel. The steel I was using is a tang of a file. I heated it to red/orange and tried quenching in oil and then tried to spark it no spark. I tried it again and then got a couple of small sparks. I tried again quenching in water only a couple of sparks. What have I done wrong? Is this steel (old file) suitable for a striker? Am I hardening wrong? Do I need to soften the steel? What??? Help!!!
   djhofmeyer - Wednesday, 07/26/06 14:42:16 EDT

I tried posing this earlier but I don't think it took.
I attempted to forge a flint striker earlier out of the tang of a file. Long story short after shaping and attempting to harden it, the striker still won't throw a spark. What have I done wrong?
   - djhofmeyer - Wednesday, 07/26/06 14:47:53 EDT

djhofmeyer did you grind off the possible decarb layer after you finished heat treat?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/26/06 16:48:23 EDT

Matthew Marting,

The new forged steel post vises are really high quality, and worth the money. The only drawback to them is that they are homely as a hound, compared to the graceful old antique vises with chamfered legs and turned screwboxes.

Most of the used post vises I've seen have been priced at around $1 to $2 per pound depending on quality. What you want to look for is good threads on the screw and the screwbox, that the spherical thrust washers are there, and the jaws meet resonably square.

A twisted vise can be straightened, and missing spherical washers can be replaced. A bad scew or screwbox is a much tougher undertaking. It can be done, but it is more work than it is worth. Find another vise with a good screw and box.

Best way I know to get a good deal on a post vise is to attend lots of hammer-ins and gatherings, asking everyone yo meet if they know of any available.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 07/26/06 16:56:18 EDT

Thanks Rich
   Matthew Marting - Wednesday, 07/26/06 17:16:09 EDT

How about the vises the Ozark School carries. How are their quality? It's a steal compared to blacksmith's depot, but don't get me wrong, I still think Blacksmith's Depot is awesome.
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 07/26/06 17:42:26 EDT

Hi Tyler

The blacksmith depot carries forged vises. Ozark carries a cst ductile iron made in pakistan. Thr hardened jawed forged ones from carbon steel are a winner hands down. I do understand the Ozark one are a decent usable vise. Can't purchase individual parts or a screw if it breaks. You can for the forged one. The Blacksmith Depot are awesome folks to deal with. Tom at Ozark isn't always a nice guy. I would buy from Steve if you can afford it.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 07/26/06 18:16:30 EDT

cst = cast above post
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 07/26/06 18:16:52 EDT

in response to Thomas P:

Thank You for the response. Yes, I did grind the striker face after I heat treated. I just can't understand what's goin' on! Argh!!!!
   djhofmeyer - Wednesday, 07/26/06 18:32:34 EDT

I have know Tom Clark for perhaps 6 years, and he has been a gentleman in every aspect. I have bought and traded with him and his dealings with me were in every aspect ethical.

I have to say that I have met, and had some dealings even if small with many of the people labeled as "Prima donnas" I have in my personal dealings with the many blacksmiths never yet been cheated or treated badly by ANY smith.

Perhaps I am the exception.
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/26/06 19:50:45 EDT

Matthew Marting: At the current time there are 20 post vises listed on eBay, either as bidding auctions or in a store. Just go to the category for Collectibles/Tools, Hardware & Locks/Tools/Blacksmithing and then do a keyword search on vise. As noted above, if not evident in the listing ask the seller if the jaws align when closed and the conditions of the screw and screw box. Anytime you consider a purchase on eBay make sure you understand before you do exactly what the S&H costs will be. On heavy items they can easily be more than the item itself. Also, some sellers build an additional profit into their handling charge.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 07/26/06 19:51:59 EDT

Fire Steel, djhofmeyer, There are three aspects to this, good clean HARD steel a good flint and technique. Bad flint or stone that is too soft fill not spark either. Technique demands that hit a fast glancing blow that curls off chips that are hot and self ignite. All three things must be working for you. If the shape of your steel is bad and hard to hold or precarious to use you may fail even if the materials are perfect.

It helps to have a corner or sharp edge to strike as this concentrates the force and helps curl off a chip.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/26/06 19:55:35 EDT

Leg Vises: I have not seen the vises Tom Clark sells. However, NEW prices a few years ago were $1500 US for English Vises sold by Centaur. Then Kayne and Son started selling a European made vise and now sell forged vises from India for a third or less than what Centaur used to get. Anything cheaper is likely to not be very good.

Blacksmith's leg vices are all steel or wrought iron with steel jaws. Anything less is lible to break.

The old style English and American made blacksmith's vises are the best. Not only are they of beautiful design artisticaly they are are engineered beautifully. Like the violin their shape was perfected early and should not change, EVER.

Like old anvils, old vises are readily available and are a bargain. The only problem is that screws are often worn out and generally that means they are not work repairing. Worn out vises often sell for the same price as perfect ones so it can be a gamble unless you personally inspect them. Other missing parts can be replaced by any blacksmith. If they are a problem then you probably don't need the vise.

I have not been to a blacksmiths meet in my lifetime that there wasn't somebody with a truck load of vices the prices all under $200.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/26/06 20:07:12 EDT

I wound up doing another striker out of a file. At first it wouldn't spark either. Then I heated it up a little hotter than I had at first and quenched quickly in ice water. That did the trick, it sparks great now.

I tried this on the first striker and still no go.
   djhofmeyer - Wednesday, 07/26/06 20:13:37 EDT

I just scrounged a big tractor trailer brake drum (Bigger always better, More Power! ) 17-18" in diameter and 8-10" deep. Should I fill/build up the bottom with fire brick or fireclay to some shallower depth? Any problem with a long (4-6") vertical air tube up to the bottom of the fire?
   Bruce Bannerman - Wednesday, 07/26/06 21:42:35 EDT

djhofmeyer: Was the file You made the first striker from hard, brittle hard all the way through? There are some junk files being sold, have been for a while now. Good files are about 1% carbon and get brittle hard if heat treated properly and not tempered.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 07/26/06 22:07:44 EDT

Hi Ptree
Sorry...My message may not have come out proper. I have always had wonderful service with The Blacksmith Depot. I have been as friendly as a peach with Tom and have not had the same experience in return. I am glad you have. Maybe he was having a rough time for unknown reasons on several occasions. He was out of stock on an item last time I spoke with him concerning something I was going to purchase. I said no big deal. He was going to return my call and never did when item came in. After some time I called and got one of his helpers and he got me Tom and he was being a Grizzly. I just didn't bother with him again.
I used to be a blacksmith supplier as well. He is among two organizations I will not recommend to folks because how he wavers. Just bad business.

I can't speak for Uri Hofi, but he has had trouble with Tom as well.

   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 07/26/06 23:10:57 EDT

I meant no offense. I hope there was none taken by you. I have always be treated awesome by almost all Blacksmiths, Suppliers and Distributers as well.

I am just honest about the two I don't like. I can recommend everyone on the advertisers list here. They are all wonderful in many ways.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 07/26/06 23:19:25 EDT

Hey Bruce,
Your big brakedrum is a bit too deep, You would do better if its filled up or just cut off to about 3-4" deep. 18" dia. would make this awfully big as a firepot yet smallish as a pan forge.
You would need to do something anyway as the center hole of the drum should be reduced to about 2"dia. Are you planning a rockerball or just a couple bars over the tuyeer?

4-6" length of pipe is no problem.
In fact about any length is OK so long as you have a method of dumping clinker and coalfines out of the pipe. Typically this is done with a "T" section where the "T" is fitted straight through vertically, the air input enters the "T" from its side, the bottom of the "T" needs a cap of some kind to seal in the air whilst blowing but open the cap occasionally to allow dumping out the clinkers & coalfines.

If you are going to be stationary with it, (not taking place to place alot) You may want to build a metal table top around this 18" pan even if you dont do large workpieces, It sure helps to reduce coal spilled to the floor.

   - Sven - Thursday, 07/27/06 00:56:27 EDT

On post vices. Matthew, it is quite a bit easier to find a decent used post vice than an anvil. I found a post vice on Ebay that was a 10 minute drive from my workplace. I was the only bidder. It was homemade, and was not such a great vise, but it works. The main things that I use it for are holding hot items to be hammered, twisting, and holdinb some bottom tools. It does leave a bit to be desired, especially for the last two.

If the only post vices available costed more than a few hundred dollars, I would build a makeshift vise. Maybe, I would build two. One for clamping hot metal to be hammered, and one for holding tools. Although a post vise is difficult to fabricate, a universal toolholder not so hard. Also, I have been kicking around a design for holding hot metal to be pounded. Instead of the traditional post vice shape, it would take the form of a set of blocks like a machinists vise, with a long lever actuated cam. This would grab fast, and withstand a lot of hammering.

I struck a pretty nasty spark inadvertently today. I was using some nippers I bought from a blacksmith to nip some floor tile.
   EricC - Thursday, 07/27/06 02:44:42 EDT

Thanks for the comments. Yes, a 2" cast iron T and a vertical nipple 5" to 6" long, based on your comments of finished depth 3"-4". Adapting the 'brake drum forge' plans from this site. Had planned a couple of stainless steel bars (i got 'em already) but whaz'za "Rockerball"?
The table top is a nice idea. There is a lip on the drum already that will be just perfect to locate the top.
   Bruce Bannerman - Thursday, 07/27/06 09:02:15 EDT

Bruce B, when you put stock in your forge you generally want it fairly horizontal and it's easier to be able to shove it in from the side of the coal fire than try to nestle it down from the top. So for a deep large brake drum you either have to fill it till close to the top or make sure you cut two fair sized slits opposite each other.

if you fill it, it becomes *very* heavy; I've had a friend abandon one like that rather than move it when he moved just about a mile away from his last place. Though IIRC his was quite a bit deeper than 8-10".

Cutting slots is a pain in the heavy tough stuff.

This is a case where bigger is not better IMNSHO.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/27/06 11:01:04 EDT

Leg vise replacement box and screw.

I purchased a large Iron City leg vise about 30 years ago. The old blacksmith had just redone the box and screw. He had acquired or made an internal Acme threaded tube, 3 3/4" long, and braze welded it to the existing box after cropping the box to size. I think that the original screw box was of malleable cast iron; it was 11 1/2" in length, outside.

I'm not sure what he did to convert the screw to Acme, because the original screw head and handle are still in evidence. It may have been turned down; the present diameter is 1 3/16". The threads are smallar that the original, so that a guy winds up cranking a little more to close and open the jaws. I've used the vise for years, and it's held up pretty well.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/27/06 11:25:28 EDT

POST VISE SCRWE REPAIR: It is true that for many a worn-out screw and nut makes a vise worthless. If you have any welding and machining capabillity and facilities it makes a nice way to get a good vise cheap. I've made the repair several times.

In one case I made a whole new screw box of pipe fittings I welded and turned with an acme nut welded inside. I made a new head for the 1" Acme screw bought by the foot at a local industrial supplier. I turned the end of the screw down to fit a hole in the new head, and welded. For a handle I used an auto shock absorber rod. This whole repair was easy and worked very well.

For the next vise I used a scaffold leg and nut. I turned the outside of the nut and welded it to the original screw box after shortening and machining . I used the original handle and screw head which I fitted and welded to the scaffold leg screw.

In both cases the material was less than $15 and the zises $10 and $15 respectively. The second vise was Big and heavy with 5 3/4" jaws. They are now better than new.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 07/27/06 12:35:41 EDT

Speaking of post vises, there is one on eBay now which is the chain drive type with two screws coupled with a roller chain. I suspect it is a Fisher since it seems have a year on it. Sitting on a $.99 bid with a reserve. Located in WA as I recall. Angle iron welded on one jaw.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 07/27/06 15:11:27 EDT

Anyone with information about grates PLEASE tell me. I am currently builing a MASSIVE stone forge and need to know what kind of material i can use for the grate (I was thinking stainless steel, it doesnt crack very easily). Also I need to know how big to make the grate. PLEASE REPLY, NEED TO KNOW BADLY!!!!
   Stephen - Thursday, 07/27/06 19:53:31 EDT

There is a couple of massive Hay Buddens on Ebay if anyone is interested. I think they are both around 400 pounds.
   Jeff - Thursday, 07/27/06 20:27:56 EDT

Also it would be greatly appreciated if someone would tell me if I should mill straight narrow holes or just drill them in. I'm selling my old Stainless Steel forge $200 w/ blower ash dump and hose. Grate is cast iron. Its cracked but is removable and repairable. Will trade for 170lb anvil or higher!!!!!!!!!!!!!
   Stephen - Thursday, 07/27/06 21:15:40 EDT

Stephen: Many people build a cast iron firepot into a masonry forge. I think Frank Turley suggested a 5/8" x 1 1/2" slot a few months ago when this came up. You might also look at the bullet grate, blueprint#138 on iforgeiron.com
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/27/06 22:50:23 EDT


Don't use a grate. Don't drill holes. Grates let the fire fall through or cause the fire to spread, thus being less concentrated. Holes get clogged right away.

The proprietary bottom-blast fire pots have a rotating "tuyere ball". I liked the old buffalo which had a rotating cylinder with a single hole in it. Just guessing at the dimensions, about 2" in diameter and maybe 2½" long, slightly oval in section. The hole was approximately 5/8" x 1 ¼". The rectangular hole helps to give a "sweet spot", a concentrated hot area of coke about 4"-5" above it.

You might do a little research by looking at catalog pictures. With the NAVIGATE menu on this page, look up advertisers and their fire pots.

The old time stone hearths had a side blast, a tuyere nose or pipe coming in horizontally from the bellows connection. It was elevated off the hearth 1" to 2" and the fire was built in front of it. No grates.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/27/06 23:05:13 EDT

My local Grange Fair is coming up, last year I asked them about blacksmithing competitions or entries. They told me they haven't had blacksmith categories in over 5 years, seems the trade was dying out so they removed it from their list. We entered other stuff, my folks entered egss, black walnut, the old lady entered her banana bread (won 2nd place)... etc. So I was looking though the entry book and found two appropriate areas in the handicraft section: Any useful item, and Any decorative item. Seems pretty vague, huh? So I plan on making some hand cut nails, coat hook nails, s hooks, that kind of thing for the "Any useful item"... any thoughts or ideas for the "Any decorative item"? If anyone doesn't know what a Grange is, ask your local farmer.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 07/28/06 08:47:04 EDT

Remember those big tongs I'm trying to sell? You said somebody who could use them may pay $100 for them. Well, I talked to a guy who operates a 750 lb. Niles Bement pond steam hammer. He offfered $20 each. :>) Still trying to sell them!
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 07/28/06 09:58:16 EDT

Nip, There are dozens of things on our iForge page that are suitable.

My best seller was sadly enough a piece that had little blacksmithing in it. A dinner bell tringle. Of course you can make a wall bracket and fancy forged striker but that ups the price. They sell well plain.

I did a lot of triangle R&D and came up with what I called my "best ringer ever". Proportions and technique are important.

Start with a chamfered and debured 30" length of 1/2" HR round.

Mark it with chalk at the center (15") and at 5" from each end. This is where your bends go.

Clamp it in a leg vise (convienent height) between two of the bend marks. Heat the far short leg first using a cutting tip and bend. Make the heat short and work around the bar. A pair of standard sized 1/2" bolt tongs works well for bending. Bend the middle corner next then the last corner bringing it around to align with the first. The two short legs should make a straight line with about a 1/4: gap between the ends. I would use my tongs to bend and tap the legs into alignment.

Then, QUENCH. You must work fast, but do not quench if you can still see red. If quenched red the corners are too brittle and will break. If not quenched they are too soft and the triangle does not ring quite as well. Yeah, I KNOW, it shouldn't harden at this point but it does.

This style triangle is balanced like a tuning fork and rings loud and long. I made strikers from an 1" length of the same bar, rounded and flattened one end to about 3/16" thick and then drilled a 3/16" hole. You can get fancier if you want. Paint flat black. Plain they sell well at $20. Double that with a wall bracket. I do not know if these are suitable prices with the current cost of steel.

I've made these by the hundreds. Sawed, chamfered on a lathe (faster than filing by hand), bent doezens per day in production. I would ocassionaly make the strikers at demos but as easy as they are to make it is hard to keep up at a busy show. After making a few you know the angles well enough that the ends line up perfectly and rarely need adjustment. However, keeping the whole flat takes care.

Leaf key fobs. . . all kinds of do dads sell. See the work of Brent Bailey in the ABANA conference NEWS just posted. He had what sells to blacksmiths. . .
   - guru - Friday, 07/28/06 10:15:19 EDT

Hey, guys. Thanks for the info. on the grate and tuyere!!!
It was very much appriciated. Im going to get masonary cement and some fire brick. Fire mortar is expensive but, I need it so there goes 30. Well Ill send you guys picks in a month if you want them. (I hope it will only take a month!?!?!?!?)
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 10:43:57 EDT

Very interesting triangle idea... sure beats the plain two bend triangles I've seen. The pieces are to be entered into the Grange Fair for competition, not sold. I've never seen any metal arts at this Grange, so I should be a shoe-in to win. I'll definitely make one of those triangles, thanks Guru!
   - Nippulini - Friday, 07/28/06 11:04:59 EDT

Stephen, you need to size your forge and grate for the type of work you will be doing. If you don't know what size you need you probably should not be building a massive masonry one...

Anyway make sure that the grate/firepot is removable as they tend to be a consumable if you are doing large work.

   Thomas P - Friday, 07/28/06 11:20:05 EDT

Big Tongs Tyler, IF they need them. Most folks with this kind of machinery have a glut of tools bought cheap. $20/pair for odd used tongs is not too bad a price.

Import Vises: The vises the Kaynes sell ARE NOT made in China. They are manufactured in India by the same folks that make their flypresses.
   - guru - Friday, 07/28/06 11:27:54 EDT

I found some nice tongs in the USED TOOL bin for $1.00 a piece!!! Seems the people didn't have a clue to what they were for let alone worth
   - Nippulini - Friday, 07/28/06 12:17:16 EDT

Thomas P, My main work focuses on breast plates and Helms. I'm not much into the whole sword idea. I also make a great amount of farm tools. But I have to admit that my main feild is armory. My last forge was O.K. but I figured I needed more room and a better chimney system. Also, my castiron fire pot cracked and would no longer seal properly when it was heated and expanded. Any ideas on better blowers?
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 12:33:38 EDT

Heating sheetmetal: you want a larger not as intense hot spot generally than you do working rod/sq stock and great control over the blower. So the "bullet tuyere" is not as usefull *except* they were generally made so you could rotate them 90 deg and so not have the intense blast in the middle but a more diffuse one around the perimeter of the ball. You may want to make one with this the "normal" position.

Throwing some coke/charcoal inside a piece as insulation can help it heat faster or to localize the heat in a particular spot.

For me I really prefer the double chambered bellows for this type of heating; however if I was going electric I would get a foot switch so the fire was only being blown while I was stepping on it.

Though for delicate work it can actually be better in the reverse: heat the fire up while the work is *not* in it and then let it coast when you are heating the piece---less oxidizing too!

Note since cast iron expands at a different rate than masonry always make sure that there is some give in the system---perhaps bedding the firepot in some loose clay or clean ashes so it can move and settle independently.

When I made my gas forge cart I only bolted down the front feet of the forge to allow the thing to expand and contract and not put force on the welds.

When I needed a large forge to do box folds in 3/8" plate for a shipboard fire box (for a Santa Maria replica in Columbus OH) I dug a trench in my yard and drilled a lot of 1/4" holes in a piece of pipe and used the vacuum cleaner exhaust to blow it Bolted a chunk of RR Rail onto two uprights to get a long edge to bend/hammer against.

   Thomas P - Friday, 07/28/06 13:52:22 EDT

what size coal pieces should you use for brake forge,1",2"
   jeff - Friday, 07/28/06 14:02:03 EDT

Quick note on an old subject. We (I) was/were discussing tendonitus AKA tennis elbow. I did some research on the subject and discovered 2 non-invasive methods of treatment. The first is an ultrasound machine built by Seimens, (the hearing aid company), the name of the unit if you want to Google it, is "Sonocur", The second method which I recommend through recent personal experience, is , acupuncture, the difference in one secession was night and day. I am going for follow-up sessions as most people don't get cured in one sitting and today (3 days later), it aches just a little bit. Also, on guru's post about dinner bells, I sell one on ebay continually,(seller name "sltm1"), bidding starting at $30.00. It has a forged striker, an "s" hook for hanging, and the ends forged into a snakes head and tail. They take some time to make but they sell pretty well and probably would get a better price at a show or demo. If anyone wants spec's, or info please email.
   thumper - Friday, 07/28/06 14:26:07 EDT

Dear Guru,
I am looking for a source in the U.S. to supply me with a bronze material that when treated with rhodium will look identicle to white gold. There is a product like this in Europe named newsilver. It has a comp of Ni7,Zu39,Pb3,Mn2&Cu49. I also want a product that will look like yellow gold.
   - Tim - Friday, 07/28/06 14:38:48 EDT

Thanks Thomas! One more question. If I were to cast my own anvil how would I join the tool steel face to the body? My current anvil is 170lbs but is damaged severley. I purchased it from a machine shop that was going out of buisness (G.E. bought them out), unfortunatley it was used to much for cold forging and the base underneath the face is beginning to cracked and seprate from the face.
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 15:06:36 EDT

tendonitus AKA tennis elbow: I had a fellow call yesterday doing research and was looking for something called "blacksmiths glass arm". I figured it was something like a "glass jaw" or the result of nerve damage making the arm which appears physically perfect be useless.

Anyone hear of "glass arm"?

   - guru - Friday, 07/28/06 15:08:09 EDT

Casting Anvils with Top Stephen, this is a large scale process. With CI to Steel anvil face joints it is done "in the mold". For details you want to see the Fisher-Norris patents in Anvils in America, THEN do a lot or R&D. After you cast about a ton of iron you may get the process right.

Modern cast anvils are solid cast steel. Simpler process EXCEPT for melting and maintaining the steel chemistry and properly treating it to prevent ingotism. Ah. . another BIG industry job.

If you want to make a DIY anvil start with heavy plate a cutting torch, angle grinder and a welder. IF you start with scrap price steel and your time is worth less than $5/hour you might do better than just buying a REAL anvil. . .
   - guru - Friday, 07/28/06 15:16:35 EDT

Grange fair: The Grange still sponsors fairs in Pennsylvania?

The Granges are all but extinct in Kansas: There are still a few around, but it has been years since I have heard of them doing anything. As an organization they seem to be in much worse shape than the Oddfellows or Masons (who seem to be having something of a comeback.)

The Fairs in Kansas are almost exclusively sponsored by 4-H and FFA and are therefore heavily biased towards youth entrants.
   John Lowther - Friday, 07/28/06 15:18:09 EDT

Go to the "Rio Grande", site and go into their catalog. It's a jewelry supply company and they sell easily cast bronze alloy(I think they call it Merlins Gold),for jewelry models. Cheaper than tying up gold as display only inventory. It might be a 2 or 3 step process to rhodium plate the stuff (copper, nickle and then rhodium), but they have what you want.
   thumper - Friday, 07/28/06 15:18:14 EDT

I've done numerous sand-castings before and have the Iron to do it. Thanks for the infor.

   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 15:22:01 EDT

Guru, am I better of just grinding of the face of my anvil or should I try to mill it off? Also, how would I join the face once the old one is off?? SHould I just weld a whole new face onto it useing tool steel rods?
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 15:40:09 EDT

I've seen it done before but then, when you grind the weld down to create a smooth face it eats up grinding stones like nothing.
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 15:41:25 EDT

Stephen, If you want to replace the face on a wrought anvil and the old face is tight you heat to a forging heat, dress the face and edges with a sledge, then take a welding heat and weld on a new face. When the anvil is still hot but below a red heat you bring it up to non-magnetic and then quench under a fresh water flow of about 1000 GPM.

That is the RIGHT way to do it. Traditionaly it takes a 4 man crew but a really experianced anvil maker with the right tools (a factory setup) could make a small anvil alone.

Folks have built new anvils and repaired old ones using hardfacing rod but it is an expensive (as well as labor intensive) route and you may be able to buy a new anvil for less than the cost of rods, wheels and electricity. Yep, abrasives are not cheap. . neither is labor.

Welding a plate around the edges makes a lousy job and you anvil is probably a better tool AS-IS.
   - guru - Friday, 07/28/06 16:20:16 EDT

I have a freind that is a great machinest. He gets me my rods for free. I was thinking I'd let him do it.
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 16:29:03 EDT

Stephen: Do you know the brand of the anvil? If no clear logo can you make out any letters or numbers anywhere on it?

Nippulini: Use the Grange show as a potential sales opportunity if you have business cards. Fold one in half, punch a hole and then attach to each item. Lots of items can be made out of new and used horseshoes. "Horsey" folks like them and are willing to pay well.

I vaguely remember Grange Halls as a kid. Dancing, kids running around outside, teenagers courting and the men checking around for who brought some white lightening or for the politician giving out free cigars (and probably with an open bar in his trunk). Back then farmers didn't have a lot of social opportunities and the Grange filled a need.

Thumper: Your dinner triangle and horseshoe door knocker are VERY impressive. Are you drawing out the tails by hand?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/28/06 16:49:28 EDT

Ken, no but I know for a fact that the body is cast iron.
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 17:05:52 EDT

Ken, on the base there are 3 numbers which I can not access at this time becaue it is strapped to a stump. :)
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 17:07:21 EDT

Stephen, If your anvil has a CI body and the face is not repairable then forget it and set it aside for dead weight purposes. Or use it to cast your next anvil. . .

A friend of mine was visiting a shop in Germany when he noticed the bottom of an anvil facing UP set flush in the floor. It was an old forged anvil with a square handling hole in the bottom. Just about the time he got the question half out of his mouth he realized that it was for upsetting.

The sides of some anvils are useful shapes for forming sheet metal such as in armour work. If nothing but the hardy hole is good then it is a useful tool holder.

The worst dead weight use I've seen of an anvil was one that had been eaten up by some corrosive. Most of the heel was gone. A farmer strapped it to the frame of an old spike harrow for weight. It had been dragged around on that harrow so long that it had grooves worn from the straps nearly 1/8" deep! Hard to believe that old wooden frame could met out that much abuse.

Old nasty anvils are also good apprentice anvils. . .
   - guru - Friday, 07/28/06 17:37:46 EDT

Stephen: Off top of head only makers of cast iron bodied anvils which put something on the front foot were FISHER and II&B Co. (Illinois Iron and Bolt - Vulcan). Some people mistake the II&B for either H&B (Hay-Budden) or 1138 or such.

From Anvils in America several companies apparently tried to manufacture anvils with a body of cast iron and a steel plate. Problem was sometimes they achieved a perfect union and sometimes it popped right off. At one time I had what I am pretty sure was a small Vulcan without a plate. Fisher perfected the practice. If I understand the process right the top plate was brought up to forge welding temperature, dropped in a mold and then cast iron was injected, rather than poured, into the mold.

Richard Postman told me at one Quad-State someone had cut into a Vulcan for some reason and found pegs under the top plate.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/28/06 18:00:41 EDT

CI anvils with a steel face: in the USA the best ones were Fishers with Vulcans coming in a low second IMNSHO.

Is the steel face still there enough that you could weld to it and not bother with the CI? Make *SURE* you follow pre-heat post-heat rules you do *NOT* want to pop the face off the CI!

Your friend who "gives" you rods---will this still be true when you ask for several hundred dollars worth?

   Thomas P - Friday, 07/28/06 18:04:16 EDT

Well the problem isn't getting the rods, it's how to get the smooth surface after I resurface it.
   Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 19:06:24 EDT

borax Q
Mule team 20 borax has additives (perfumes and such) if i am thinking correctly, but one of the local stores has "Boric Acid Roach killer" the bottle sais 98% orthoboric acid and 2% inert ingrediants, comes in 1lb bottles,
would this work for flux? i never got to take chem in hs so i dont really know what the ortho means ;)
thanks for helping out!
   MikeKruzan - Friday, 07/28/06 19:31:03 EDT

I'm not sure about the "ortho" either, but borax and boric acid are different chemicals. Some folks (including me) mix a smaller quantity of boric acid with borax for flux.
Straight boric acid isn't supposed to make a good flux, so I haven't bothered trying it. My box of 20 Mule Team doesn't list any perfume (or smell of any) but who knows.
   Mike B - Friday, 07/28/06 19:54:33 EDT

Thanks for the cudos! I draw out the horseshoes by hand and do preliminary tapering on the 5/8ths" snake with my JYH, then round and finish tapering it by hand. By the way, took your advice on my listing title, thanks.
   Thumper - Friday, 07/28/06 20:51:02 EDT

are you sure you have regular twenty mule team and not the borax "laundry booster"? I know that the laundry booster has some kinda smellum stuff in it, but i to have never noticed a smell in regular borax.

I also know that the laundry booster (if used in enough qauntity along with some tide) does a pretty good job of getting that shop smell out of your clothes when you wear "fit for public" clothing to the shop on accident....
Aaron @ the SCF
   - sandycreekforge - Friday, 07/28/06 23:55:23 EDT

All mighty GURU
My question is this. I live in Canada( BC ) and am looking for a good anvil. Do you know of any dealers in my area. I have spoken to a number of people and no one seems to know. I realize that I could order one on the internet but buying a rather expensive item without seeing it bothers me. That is all, and no I don,t want to know how to make a sword. :)

Thanks for your help.
   erik - Saturday, 07/29/06 02:01:42 EDT

Just wondering if anyone has a bigblu QC110 air hammer?? If so what size air compressor are you running (brand,cfm,hp,ect) and are you satisfied? I am going to purchase a compressor and would rather buy the correct one. Also, I have heard that maybe I should get two compressors and conect them together, any truth to this??
Thanks for your help
   Tom - Saturday, 07/29/06 02:36:16 EDT

Erik: Have you explored local options such as putting a classified ad in small town newspapers to the effect: WANTED: Blacksmithing anvil. (phone number). Ask around pretty well everywhere you go. Your barber or a store clerk may know of someone who still has one and might be interested in selling it. Find the ABANA affiliate which covers your area of Canada and inquire with them for possibilities. Just use the NAVIGATE anvilfire box to scroll down to ABANA-Chapter.com.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 07/29/06 05:25:25 EDT


I don't have jone, but the Dean Curfman, the maker of the BIgBLu, told me that he recommends the Ingersoll-Rand 7-1/2hp 80 gallon model. It is the largest compressor that will really fun on 220v single-phase and keeps up with the QC-110 just fine.

Yes, you can couple two compressors together to get higher delivery and storage rates, but you have to do a thing or two to make it work. Mostly, you need to make sure that the two of them don't try to start at the same time, as this will put a huge load on your electrical supply. You also should put backflow preventers between the two.
   vicopper - Saturday, 07/29/06 07:50:50 EDT

To Timothy (Recently of Rockford Il),

I am located in Beloit, WI, about 30 minutes to the north of you. If you ever want to get together for some forging, please feel free to email me. The local ABANA chapter for this area is the Upper Midwest Blacksmiths Association. They do have a web site which is kept fairly current. One of their larger meetings in coming up in a few weeks. It will be held in Edgerto, WI at the Thresherman's Park. Hope to see you there.

   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 07/29/06 08:44:14 EDT


Near the Calgary Stampede dates, there are "world championship horseshoeing and blacksmithing contests". You should find dealers and tailgaters there.

Mike, Borax.

The last I checked, there are three product trade names: Twenty Mule Team Borax; Borateem; and Boraxo. Borateem is blue colored and is supposedly a color safe, bleach-like laundry additive. Boraxo is a hand soap, white colored, and looks like borax, but IT ISN'T borax.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 07/29/06 09:11:06 EDT

Guru, i made the dinner bell (triangle), man does that thing ring forever!! And it IS loud! My question is inregards to the striker. Your directions said to use a 1" piece of 1/2" HR round, flatten one end and drill a hole. I thought one inch would be too short, so I used a 3" piece, flattened, drilled. It feels a little small in the hand and sometimes doesn't hit the bell all the way. Was one inch a misprint?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 07/29/06 10:19:17 EDT

Tom, in regards to the big blue. I have the 110 and am running the Ingersoll 7.5 hp and it works great. If I had it to do over again I would run two smaller hp compressors in series. The 7.5 has a very large draw when it loads. Ingersoll recommends an 80 amp breaker for this size compressor. I had to run a new main out to the shop which was an expensive and time consuming endeavor. By using two compressors you double your air storage capacity, put less strain on your electrical system, and really don't increase your cost by very much if any. All you have to do is adjust the pressure switches so that they kick on at different pressures (they put the adjustment info in the manual when you get them). This insures that they both don't load at the same time. I found this out after I bought my compressor and did all the work. Learn from my experience.
   Mike H - Saturday, 07/29/06 11:09:06 EDT

Thanks guys for the advise, I will listen. Mike would you run two 5hp 80gal?? And is the minimum cfm 14cfm for this hammer??
   Tom - Saturday, 07/29/06 11:12:40 EDT

I don't have my manual with me, but 14cfm sounds correct. Two 5hp compressors should work well. If you call Ingersoll's tech support they are very helpfull, well informed, and will give you all of the missing information you require.
   Mike H - Saturday, 07/29/06 11:34:11 EDT

Tom, just doing a little research it looks like you would spend about an additional $400.00 give or take for two 5hp vs. 1 7.5hp compressor. That seems like a no-brainer to me.
   Mike H - Saturday, 07/29/06 11:39:29 EDT

Mike, thanks sounds like a no-brainer to me also. Thanks for all your help. I was thinking linking two together would be best from what I had heard. Can't wait to get everything together. From what I have heard I will like this hammer. How big of steel have you forged?? Just wondering.
   Tom - Saturday, 07/29/06 11:51:02 EDT

I work 2" axel from time to time making anvil tools and the like. I can also draw a pretty nice taper on a piece of 1/4" round. Nice control. The only problem I've had is that the lines sometimes freeze up if it's extremely cold in the winter. If you poor a little tool oil directly into the lines it solves the problem. After the forge warms the shop it's not an issue.
   Mike H - Saturday, 07/29/06 12:16:33 EDT

Sweet smelling mules:

20 Mule Team Borax has no additives. It's the standard among US smiths - used by such notables as Frank Turley. It would be a bit nicer if it were anhydrous but thats not a real problem
   4d4m - Saturday, 07/29/06 12:44:27 EDT

Jock: Your triangle dinner bell design if different than the standard open joint at one corner. Does putting the open joint in the center bottom really affect tone?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 07/29/06 13:02:38 EDT


   Tyler Murch - Saturday, 07/29/06 13:31:44 EDT

Triangle with three bands: Makes a big difference. Has a more uniform tone with less dissonance and much longer sustain.

I saw something similar to this with short vertical runs (about 2") from the corners (5 bends). I made four or five from 5/8" stock before I got one to sound like a bell (not just clank clank). I made a lot of these and they seemed to work best made of CF bar.

Then I tried making some without the squared corners and after half a dozen came up with the 30" above. I did not experimant a lot but the proportions (length relative to diameter) make a big difference.

At one time I had an octave set (judged by my tone deaf ear). Sadly it got broken up. To do this right you need bar sizes like 7/16" (11mm), 1/2" (13mm), 9/16" (14 mm) and 5/8" (16 mm) as well as making the triangle different dimensions.

WHOOPS. . The striker length was (8) EIGHT inches! Flattened, drilled and a loop of raw hide lace used to hang the striker.

The other thing that makes a big difference in triangles is how they are hung. You need soft flexible material, I used rawhide lace and braided string. Chain deadens the ring and introduces humming sounds.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/29/06 13:32:35 EDT

I have a question about pipe bending. I will need to fabricate a tree design in which the branches are spiral forms. In some cases they will taper all the way from zero to, say, two inches in diameter. These spirals will make at least three and often four revolutions as they grow, and will be coiled fairly tightly. So I will want to start at the center and work outward, so I have some room to weld and clean the joints as I add material and the branch will get two or three feet across by the time it is formed so it will be clumsy to handle. (I have a platen table to help.) I have heard of packing pipe with sand so it does not buckle when being bent, but I tried it and was not successful. However I did not have any kind of a supportive die to help spread the pressure on the pipe wall. I am willing to get a Hossfeld bender to do the job if that would be a benefit.
   brian kennedy - Saturday, 07/29/06 13:33:48 EDT

To clarify a bit more, I would hope to use pipe where the outside diameter of the brach was, say, 3/4 inches or greater. Size transitions will have to be custom fabricated to fool the eye, I am looking for the simplest way to deal with the general case.
   brian kennedy - Saturday, 07/29/06 13:40:20 EDT

Mike, thanks again. One more question do you recommend a company to order the compressor from? I will be going with the ingersoll. Looks to me like bigblu may the as fair priced as anyone else(includes shipping). Just worndering if you found any better deals.
   Tom - Saturday, 07/29/06 14:02:30 EDT

Brian: The sand works, but it has tyo be packed tight and the ends sealed. I have also filled the tube with melted lead, and melted it out after bvending. This was in the old days before we were afraid of lead. There are lead-free low-melting allows for that now, but they are expensive.
   - John Odom - Saturday, 07/29/06 14:02:33 EDT

hi there
Query about warded locks, im after plans, books on how they are made and different styles.
Have a couple of friends that have been and still do a bit of blacksmithing. I love old locks thinking about smithing old warded locks with the help of friends to get me started. where do you suggest i look for the best results not had much results so far.
cheers Richard.
   Richard Bennett - Saturday, 07/29/06 15:34:51 EDT

where can I fine plans for a home built power hammer
   Stan Kirtley - Saturday, 07/29/06 16:28:59 EDT

Lock Smithing: Richard, There are few good books on the subject. Most are for collectors and museums and have little to do with contruction except in an ocassional diagram. I'd make a list except my collection is on loan. Most were purchased via used book stores on the net at considerable expense. See our book reviews on the following two:

Spruce Forge Manual of Locksmithing Available in print.

Locks from Iran One printing, collectable.

The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing is a modern book in print from McGraw-Hill. I have not seen it so I cannot say if has any historical warded lock information.

Locksmithing course books also include many basics.

I have a series of basic locksmithing articles on our iForge page. See #139, #140 and #145.

Complicated ward systems are made by fabrication and by casting depending on the size and complexity of the lock. Many parts, both wards and keys are turned on a lathe and were made that way as early as the 1600's using special tools and small hand operated lathes. With modern tooling you get similar results much easier.

Other parts, slides and guides were all made by hand and are often done so today. However, a small modern milling machine is very helpful and reduces filing and hand scraping time tremondously. Where a lathe OR turning engine is an absolute necessity a mill is an option. Many pieces are brazed together either with a torch or in a brazier (small forge).

Lock parts are both forged and cast, hand carved and filed as well as engraved. So between these and the machining aspect locksmiths use just about every metalworking method there is.

   - guru - Saturday, 07/29/06 16:50:56 EDT

Bells and such: I found that a piece of welded 8" Long x 5.5" OD x .300" wall pipe quenched and tempered to about 22 Rc, and saw cut down the weld makes an amazing bell. It does not do as well without saw cutting it open. I think it would benefit from some engineering of the length and placement of the holes to hold the support at the node. For the curious, this configuration is a common API size pipe; 17 pound per foot grade L80.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/29/06 17:51:20 EDT

A question on a vertical propane heat-treating forge. Where do I place the burner? I'm going to attempt to make a heat treating forge with those parts I mentioned before instead of a general work forge. Thanks in advance!

   - Rob - Saturday, 07/29/06 18:20:36 EDT

Rob, At the bottom, nearly parallel to the interterior surface. If you put the burner above the bottom there will be a cold zone below the burner.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/29/06 19:19:36 EDT

Tom, I think big blue is very competetive on compressor price. My Ingersoll compressor works great. No problems at all.
   Mike H - Saturday, 07/29/06 20:40:59 EDT

Mike, thanks again I'll let you know how it all works when I get it together. I will just order the compressors from big blue also. They seem to be competetive on most everything they sell.
   Tom - Saturday, 07/29/06 21:12:47 EDT

MIke H:

If you're having trouble with the air lines on your hammer freezing in the coild weather, you've got water in your air. That will almost surely wreck that nice air hammer!

YOu need to either re-do your plumbing so that you have drip legs on all lines and all horizontal runs are pitched so that they drain back to the compressor, rather than towards the load. All runs coming off the horizontals should tee off the top of the run, not the bottom. I'd also recommend that you install an automatic drain on your air receiver.

ANother thing that will make a big difference in your air is installing a reciever right next to your hammer. Even a relatively small receiver, say 45 gallons, will allow the air a place to slow down and lose any residual moisture.

You DO have an automatic lubricator on your hamjer, right? The best kind is the micro-mist unit that NOrgren sells. Get the 3/4" size for that flow, I believe. ATF is a good oil to run in it, and is cheap and available.

If you don't cure that moisture problem, you'll be really sorry.
   vicopper - Saturday, 07/29/06 21:23:51 EDT

"The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing", by C.A. Roper & Bill Phillips. ©1991 McGraw-Hill ISBN 0-8306-7522-1

It is mostly aimed at the guy who wants to try being a locksmith and thinks he can learn it from a book. It goes into great detail on all manner of pin-tumbler locks and has a rafty of information on installation and service of many locking systems. It has about four pages on warded locks, dealing only with the cheapie locks for trunks and cabinets. Nothing at all on how to build a ward box or how to build lever tumblers and followers, etc.

One nice thing about making warded locks is that you can mock-up most of your ideas in stiff cardboard or strips of manila folders, cutting them with a knife or scissors. When it works, you have a pattern for cutting the steel.

Some time back, I saw a book of paterns for making wooden locks. All warded lever locks, as I recall. Pretty nicely done, too. It would give you all you need to understand the concept and mechanics, on a large enough scale to be forgiving on the tolerances. You can probably find it on Amazon or Abebooks.
   vicopper - Saturday, 07/29/06 21:39:10 EDT

Thanks Guru. Sorry, that was a stupid question but I wasn't sure and I couldn't find any clear plans. Thanks again!
   - Rob - Saturday, 07/29/06 22:35:28 EDT

I have a file that says "cast steel", is it fully hardenable? or just the surface?
Thank you.
   Víctor Zamora - Saturday, 07/29/06 22:49:42 EDT

hey all,
Well, now that we've started on the cement floor (one 4X8 foot chunk at a time...) its time to start thinking about getting everything more or less in a permanent location in the shop. My question for the night:

I have an old "family hierloom" blower, about 20 or 22 inches in diameter that was originally set up on a line shaft in a production type shop. It has lead babbit bushings. How fast can i SAFELY run this blower?? INFO: the shaft is 3/4" and the babit bearings are still in really good shape and shouldn't need reworked for quite some time. in other words, aside from a little surface rust , and a missing flat belt pulley, the thing is in excellent condition.
   - sandycreekforge - Saturday, 07/29/06 23:09:00 EDT

Vicopper, I agree. I've replumbed the lines and adjusted the compressors automatic drain since last winter. Hopefully no problems this year.
   Mike H - Saturday, 07/29/06 23:19:46 EDT

Life rule #2 "a stupid question is easier to answer than a stupid mistake is to fix"
   JimG - Saturday, 07/29/06 23:29:15 EDT

Vicopper, The term "Micro Mist" is I believe a trademarked name for the better Parker brand oilers.
No matter the name, get a good oiler that throws a fine mist, and once in use, NEVER let it run dry. Once you start oiling, you wash out the factory assembly grease, and damage occurs pretty quick.
   - ptree - Saturday, 07/29/06 23:34:01 EDT

Victor, cast steel could in theory be any alloy. However, I've read, quite likely here, that when the Bessemer and open hearth processes were first introduced, their products were labeled "cast steel." This was because, unlike in earlier processes, the steel was cast in billets before being rolled to shape. Today "cast steel" normally describes something cast to shape. I can't imagine a file being made that way, so you probably have one of those early products rolled from modern steel.

Case hardened mild steel files are supposed to be a much more recent development, so your file will very likely through harden. Of course, there's one way to find out for sure . . .
   Mike B - Sunday, 07/30/06 06:12:48 EDT

Tapered Spiral Pipe: Brian, One thing that makes a big difference in bending pipoe and tube is the quality of the product. Some cheap stuff will split on the seam every time. Another variable is wall thickness. The thicker the wall the less likely the tube is to crush or wrinkle. THEN. . . no matter how you support a tube there is a limit to how tight a bend that can be made. Remeber that the wall thickness is part of this ratio. I think Machinery's Handbook has a formula for the minimum bend.

Depending on how tight the sprals are you MAY have to go with solid. Yeah, a lot heavier.

Back when I was researching musical instruments it came to my attention that all low brass instruments have continously tapering tubes. The shape, including the bell end is a theoretical parabolic curve which starts quite curved and then tapers to infinity. While the bells are made by typical sheet metal forming methods special tube drawing machinery is used to make that continous taper. If I had found funding for the book I wanted to write I would have visited some fellows in Michigan that offered to show me their machinery. . . alas, it is still a mystery.

On the other hand, tubes are comonly hot forged to tapers in V dies or in a rotary forging machine.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/30/06 07:55:18 EDT

Can anyone tell me the best way to repair a hole in a set of leather bellows? im having some backdraft problems and i need to fix it before i pop them. im just not sure if i should stitch a patch on the outside or inside, or if i should use a leather patch kit, or if there is an adhesive that would stay flexible enough that i wouldnt be fixing the patch in a month. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
   Dave - Sunday, 07/30/06 11:00:38 EDT

My old copper pots and pans need re-tining. Where can I have this done near Houston, Texas?
   Jan - Sunday, 07/30/06 11:45:52 EDT

I think the bell ringing goes into the physics of having 2 equal ends, something along the lines of having the sound waves crashing into eachother to create a harmonizing thing. I forget, I actually did some of this stuff in high school, but that was almost 2 decades ago.

Thanks for the misinformation, Jock! Just messin'.

Instructions on warded locks can be found in the back of "Professional Smithing" by Streeter, I think he even includes plans and patterns as well.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 07/30/06 12:40:27 EDT

Bellows Repair: Dave, It depends on the condition of the leather and where the hole is. First you need to consider if the leather is repairable or not. The bellows I built in 1978 finally gave up last year. The thin split cow hide "buckskin" finally rotted to the point that every time you looked at it there was a new hole. It had gotten dry a couple times and been re-oiled but finally gave up.

Then you need to look at where the hole is. Some places are nearly impossible to get to for repair without removing nails. Will the leather and wood take it? Many old bellows cannot be re-leathered economicaly. It is cheaper to retire them as antiques and replace with new.

The patch needs to be as flexable or preferably more flexible (thinner) than the old leather. Then I would glue it AND sew it. Often when they cannot be sewn they are just glued. But if you can get to the back side a sewing awl will make the most permanent repair.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/30/06 13:50:13 EDT

Nip, The two balanced masses of the triangle work like a tuning fork, their masses keeping a common center stationary and a standing wave between them which conserves the vibrating energy by not disapating it with dissonant frequencys which "fight" the vibrations.

The same is true of a very narrow waisted anvil. The two masses (the base and top) vibrating in unison make for a much louder and longer ring.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/30/06 13:55:38 EDT

Jock, maybe that explains why cutting the pipe down the weld makes such a good bell. It is similar in function to your balanced masses in symetrical Triangle. I have seen "bells" made from three triangular panels welded only at the top to form a pyramid shape that can ring very well, too.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/30/06 14:34:39 EDT

Pyramid Bell: These became popular in the late 1970's. I am not sure who invented them but suddenly every metal hacker had them. They were made from three long triangular plates of steel wedled to a hook at the top. Each bar makes a different tone.

Somewhere at home I have a stack of steel plates I ordered to make these. I made one with a tacky weld to an old S-hook. I wanted to come up with a triangular bar for the hook and bell top that would suit the design but never got around to it. . . I think I segued out of blacksmithing about that time. . So I still have the plate. The hard part is getting someone to cut all those triangles from different thickness plates. I suspect it is easier today to have someone laser or waterjet cut them. I had to convince my warehouse guys to shear them.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/30/06 15:10:35 EDT

I don't know what the heck "blacksmith glass arm " is but I had tendonitis 6 years ago. It took a long time to heel about a year until it felt completely better. I think it was the result of using improper fitting tongs while work with a power hammer.
   Bruce Wallace - Sunday, 07/30/06 17:28:06 EDT

I was just wondering how civil war cannons were made. Were they cast or rolled and lap welded?
   - bnc - Sunday, 07/30/06 23:23:01 EDT

BNC, They were made a variety of ways. Early in the war some were cast iron some cast bronze. The Parrott system reinforced cast iron with wrought iron and had rifled barrels. There were also wrought iron guns made by the build up method around a mandrel. Later in the war cast steel cannon were made.

If you use the key words "civil war cannon" in google the first listing that comes up.
   - guru - Monday, 07/31/06 08:59:17 EDT

Well Mike you have a few things mixed up here. Cast steel originally referred to items made by taking blister steel made from carburized Wrought Iron and melting it to produce a more uniform steel than blister steel or shear steel. Look up the "Huntsman Process" as he gets credit for it in the 18th Century.

Bessemer Process steel was not described as "Cast Steel".

Also case hardening of files is described in "Divers Arts" written in 1120 A.D. so not quite a recent process; but you are right that as better steel became available case hardening of files was not commonly done; though rasps often were case hardened.

As to the original question a "cast steel" file will be good hardenable steel all the way through. Note though that it is probably close to one hundred years old if not older. I save them for "special" projects or for historical replication work.

   Thomas P - Monday, 07/31/06 10:35:19 EDT

"Cast Steel" Thomas, I have seen many tools labled "cast steel" much later than when the crucible process was in vogue and in fact we talk about cast steel anvils and tools today. My Beverly shear made in the 1930's has "cast steel" on its frame. This is not because it is made from crucible steel but because the frame is a manganese cast steel, not cast iron.

Many manufacturers also continued to use the "cast steel" designation on tools many years after they were using modern process steels because there was basicaly no difference in the product and their customers were used to seeing the cast steel designation on the tools.

I do not know of any quality line of file that is case hardened. However, some farriers rasps are made very cheaply because of the rapid use them and throw them away cycle. And I do not doubt that many import files may be case hardened.
   - guru - Monday, 07/31/06 11:13:07 EDT

Thank you Mike, Thomas and Guru
   Víctor Zamora - Monday, 07/31/06 12:05:22 EDT

Bending pipe and tubing:

If you are having problems with it kinking or cracking try filling it with clean dry fine sand.

This will give it support while bending
   - Hudson - Monday, 07/31/06 12:45:34 EDT

Cannon have always been cast, At the timë of the US Civil War I expect they would also been trued-up by boring on a lathe. I think about that time or shortly afterward rifled barrel was also developed.
   - Sven - Monday, 07/31/06 14:03:05 EDT

Well teeming an ingot was still practiced in Sheffield England till fairly modern times...but I will agree that the term cast steel has moved on to differentiate from forged steel or cast iron.

Sven, the earliest cannon were not cast but build up out of Wrought Iron in a barrel stave construction. (plus the odd one made of *leather*)

Some cheap modern import files act as if they were case hardened with the exterior sloughing off if you try to forge them.

   Thomas P - Monday, 07/31/06 14:32:29 EDT

According to the article I just read the "3-inch ordnance rifle".
It was also a major step forward in material, being made entirely of wrought iron. Strips of wrought iron were hammer-welded in criss-crossing spiral layers around a mandrel; this was then bored out and the finished product lathe turned into shape
The alternating layers of wrought iron make the strongest possible wrought structure. This was an expensive weapon but was the best (safest) made during the US Civil War.

Some barrel stave cannons were HUGE and very dangerous!

Machining had come quite a ways by the 1860's. When James Watt started inspecting steam engines in the 1760's to find ways to improve them the typical bore (made on cannon boring machines) was +/- 1/4".
   - guru - Monday, 07/31/06 14:54:40 EDT

The US Navy was expermenting with cast steel cannons just before the Civil War.

One exploded killing several members of the Naval Staff, thus cast steel had a bad rep for quite awhile with the US Navy.

The British Navy however fell in love with wirewound guns which was fine untill they got hot and drooped.

   - Hudson - Monday, 07/31/06 15:17:41 EDT

Are sway bars the same steel as leaf sprngs? I'm planning on buying a sway bar to forge a sword from (my first customer), and the Junk Yard steels section doesn't specify. Thanks in advance!

   - Rob - Monday, 07/31/06 20:00:17 EDT


A sword you are going to sell should never be forged from an unknown styeel, whether new or used. If a sword breaks in use, it can send sharp pieces flying, possibly injuring someone. The liability will be yours. If you make it from some unknown steel, where you are simply guessing at the proper heat treating, you could esily be found to be negligent. Due diligence requires that you use a steel that is appropriate for the use and heat treat it in accordance with the manufacturer's specification for the particular alloy. Why not just buy a piece of 5160 spring stock from a steel supplier? It will not have the "value added" pricing for the labor of forging into a sway bar and will probably be cheaper, too.
   vicopper - Monday, 07/31/06 20:25:09 EDT

Do you want to make a difference? Would you like to be part of something that could have a lasting effect on the best Blacksmithing site on the internet? Become a CSI member and make yourself be heard. CSI was started to make sure that Anvilfire would continue long into the future as one of the best resources for metal working on the planet and all you have to do to be a part of it is join CSI.
   - dale - Monday, 07/31/06 20:36:26 EDT

Post Vise questions. I recently picked up an Iron City vise that has me a bit baffled. The jaws are 3.75", NOT 4', which I thought was the smallest size, and the ball that ends the threaded screw tube is beveled to go in like a pressure fit cork and is easily removed. Anyone ever seen the like? By the way, it's a full 42" including the leg, not a bench top mount.
   Thumper - Monday, 07/31/06 21:40:17 EDT

Rob what vicopper said and also a sword is a LOT of work. It doesnt pay to cheap out on the material. What if there's a crack that you cant see and the blade falls apart during the quench or worse, when the owner swings it? What if it isnt 5160 like you might guess from the junkyard steel chart. If you just want to practice forging spring steel then it might be fine but to invest all that labor when new material is comparatively cheap makes no sense. Its the proverbial silk purse from a pig's ear. Go to an auto spring shop and buy a piece of brand new leaf spring. There are a lot of useful things a smith can make from recycled steel. A sword isnt one of them
   adam - Monday, 07/31/06 22:10:30 EDT

I also have 3.75" post vise. According to the leg vise FAQ on this site, there is also a 3.5" jaw size. Can't say I've seen a handle like you describe though. The handle on mine just has a steel ball brazed on either end.
   Steven Galonska - Monday, 07/31/06 22:34:46 EDT

It's not the handle, it's at the opposite end of the screw track where there is just a knob normally.
   Thumper - Monday, 07/31/06 23:12:12 EDT

Vise Parts: Thumper, I have seen several American made vises with a hole in the end of the nut where most are closed. Those I have seen had a rough surface and did not appear to have been made to accept a plug. There is always a possibility that someone made this extra part that did not like the open hole (I do not like them myself).
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/01/06 08:00:39 EDT

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