WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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

This is an archive of posts from July 1 - 7, 2008 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Peter Hirst: Can't find it at the moment but there was a long article about 1957 in one of the Trenton, NJ newspapers on the history of Fisher & Norris. Clark (sorry, it should have been Clark, not his father Mark) married Harriet, who was around 30 years younger than he, in the late 1800s. Within a couple of years Clark died as the result of a RR accident. Harriet then took over full management of F&N, making her the first woman head of a manufacturing company in the U.S. She learned the business from top to bottom (actually working on the production floor) and significantly expanded their sales. What threw Postman off in AIA was the age difference.

For the full article go to www.abana.org, Forums, Blacksmithing History & Lore and then the item on History of Fisher & Norris Anvil Works.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/01/08 07:21:48 EDT

More on hematite... Pete... you know what I meant about the magnetic fields, but there's something about online forums that causes people to HAVE TO correct another, some sort of false ego boost, I dunno. Regardless, hematite DOES come in all black to gray sometimes with spots of red occasionally the opposite, when I was younger I was into pagan rituals and have a mineral collection, none of my hematite is red. Black does happen in nature. Meanwhile, I took it upon myself to hammer one of the "hematite" magnetic sizzlers. They are really ceramic magnets simply polished up all nice and shiny. True magnetic hematite isn't cheap, but you can get a pair of sizzlers for a couple dollars. I'm sure someone here will tell me I'm wrong. If you do, I hope it makes you feel like you're better than me.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/01/08 09:13:10 EDT

Black (dark steel grey to blue grey) Hematite Fe2O3. I have a catalog of iron museum pieces and the most ancient are polished crystalline black hematite. If you scratch this mineral on a scratch plate or make dust from it you get a bright rust red. There are also silver formations of hematite. Both black and silver hematite often form in the softer matrices of red hematite.

Magnetite Fe3O4 is similar to black hematite but is magnetic while hematite is not. Both were carved by the ancients.

I wouldn't trust ANY product targeted to the faux science of the new-agers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/01/08 09:54:04 EDT

Yep. Sorry about the whole ego thing. I remember a while back one of your "color guards" told me that my Wilkinson anvil is a Joseph Wilkinson after I said that it reads "Joshua" on it. Here's a pic of the anvil.


Some people just want to say "you're wrong" for the sake of argument.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/01/08 10:18:52 EDT

Nip said, "Some people just want to say "you're wrong" for the sake of argument."

I disagree.
   - Marc - Tuesday, 07/01/08 10:59:59 EDT

I challange Marc's disagreement and second TGN's contention with a long rambling off topic story! OOPS lets not get that started!

The colour of powdered minerals often differs from them in massive or crystaline forms. Why the streak plate is a standard mineralogical test and one easily done in the field. (Unlike X-Ray diffraction...)

I did an installation, (hardware/software) of a large computerized system in Indonesia once and besides bringing the complete manuals as my carry-on baggage and the software in my shirt pocket---dat tapes. I brought gender benders for all the various types of cables we used---which saved a *lot* of time over the course of the installation. What I should have brought was a good tool kit as tools were hard to come by. I ended up installing large floor bolts by pounding US coins in their tops and twisting the coins with a pair of pliers---for a multimillion dollar system!

Picking locks: I was on international field support for several years and had to sit in on long international conference calls every week; most of which had nothing I was responsible for. So I got to teiddling with my desk lock with a spade fastener for paper and endeed up "picking the lock". Got pretty good at it and helped out a friend or two who had locked their desk and lost or forgotton the key---took 2-6 weeks to get a locksmith through maintenance.
Not sure what sort of reputation this gave me but one supervisor had a tendency to lock her purse up with the keys in it during salary review time. (when they were supposed to keep everything locked up) I got used to her showing up near the end of the day asking if I could unlock her desk---full of restricted information---so she could go get the kids on time. The field support group was pretty understanding and we once even went around noting the lock codes on all the desks, filing cabinets and coat lockers and then pulling the locks and making "matching sets" so you only needed 1 key instead of 3 to access all your stuff. A field support crew without any problems in the field can be a scary thing!


   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/01/08 11:23:24 EDT

Mistakes often do happen. I am not always right . . . and will stupidly argue the point sometimes.

On early anvil makers I would say there are no absolutes. Far, far too many were hand made in small shops and while shapes were based on a lot of tradition and the techniques used, the signing of them left a lot of room for variation. Often they were marked on the "wrong" side and many during the period when marking was standard were not marked.

I had an M&H Armitage Mousehole anvil that was a factory second. The logo had been completely covered with vertical chisel marks but you could still make it out. The only flaw we could find was a slight dip in the anvil face as well as some slope to one side. I traded a nearly identical anvil for it and $75. . . Then sold the second. I SHOULD have carefully photographed the seconding logo. But that was before anyone really cared about such oddities.

I have a Hay-Budden with factory mods. One side of the shelf was removed to extend the horn and it has two pritichel holes. It also has two bolt holes drilled in the base. Probably a very early farriers anvil experiment.

A friend has a collection of Colonial anvils. It is probably the ugliest collection of anvils you would ever see. I suspect every one came from different makers. Only one has a very nice shape.

The same friend has a 350 pound Hay-Budden with no markings of any kind. It is absolutely a Hay-budden.

Dean Curfman has a Peddinghaus that they welded a side table onto. You can't tell it from being factory original except that they don't make them that way. . . I can see someone having a big argument over that one. . Yes they do, no they don't. . .

In my friends collection mentioned above there are several of the old anvils that were "modernized". One had the hardy hole resized. Looked good from the top but the metal was cold or had splits at the bottom and now looks like the hardy hole was blasted through. . . Another had a drilled pritchell hole. It was far larger than normal. In fact it was larger than than the hardy hole.

Some modern farriers anvils such as NC-TOOL's have huge "turning" holes where the hardy hole would normally be. While NC does not make them I have seen large machined hardies to fit the round hole. The advantage is that it can be rotated to any direction you like. The one I saw was a very nice tool but that doesn't mean it was not a one-off.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/01/08 11:54:27 EDT

Locks and Keys: I've dealt with far too many folks that had too many keys and no system to maintain them. The big problem is having keys made from copies of copies. . . . until they no longer work. I had one business that would send someone out to have a half dozen keys or more made from 3rd generation copies and find that they had thrown their money away. . .

ORIGINAL keys should always be tagged and stored safely and one generation copies used (never the originals). Replacements should always be made from an original. But almost nobody follows this rule including myself. . I think I have two vehicles now with only one key each.

The REAL irony about locks and keys is that they lowest people in the hierarchy end up with the most important set of keys, janitors often has master keys to everything. . . Bruce Blackiston tells a story of a janitor losing the keys to a NYC building (one of the World Trade Centers I think) and the entire building needing to be rekeyed. Bruce ended up with the scraped bronze keys. The thing about the keying of large buildings with a true master key system is that the logistics, the logic and implementation of the system costs far more than the locks and keys themselves.

My ex recently bought a new Dodge van. It came with a fancy high security electronic key. Replacement or copies are near $200. . . I suspect they are no more secure than a common key.

In Costa Rica all the rental cars come with Yale door keys. The replacement locks are much better made than the tinny automotive locks which are amazingly easy to pick. I doubt if they are that much more secure but the quality of the lock gives you a safer feeling.

Old Keys: I've recently had two different forklifts. Each came with a set of keys to who knows what. . . and only one key fit each machine. Recently I was looking at the keys on my old truck keyring. One was for a home that friends of mine have sold, another was for a house that has not been in the family for a decade, and a bunch were for the last place I worked and ONE was for a van that long ago went to the junkyard. . . And THIS was a keyring in current use. I wonder how many other people carry a ring full of useless keys? I guess its time I spent a day organizing keys.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/01/08 12:24:53 EDT

At about what time in European history did hardy hole become common on anvils. Also what about the horn? Does anybody have a general period when these became common on anvils.
   - John L. - Tuesday, 07/01/08 15:37:19 EDT

There used to be a rumor that GM made their keys so flimsy that lock repair and new ignition switches would generate more revenue.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/01/08 16:03:32 EDT

Nip: Actually, I didn't know what you meant. Main reason to participate here is for accurate, useful information, no? As Guru said, not to trust New Age hocus pocus when it comes to such info, and you gotta admit "interaction of magnetic fields" does sound a little ooga-booga. SO trust me, its all about accuracy. I don't need to nit pick stuff to feel superior to a guy who hangs anvils from his ... never mind, just messin with ya
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 07/01/08 16:07:39 EDT

Heck, I don't need a computer to feel superior, I just have to look around at other people! (grin!) Just kidding, of course.

Also not pickin' on magnetic fields, all I said was that hematite is not and cannot be made to be magnetic and still remain hematite. Not an opinion, merely a statement of fact. As I tell folks who need it, believe what you want, just don't come crying when reality doesn't agree with you. I've had that lesson pounded into my head often enough to want to pass it along to others. (grin!)

I think a lot of the confusion with hematite is that nifty black chrome look specular ore gets when polished is all most folks know when it comes to jewelry, so any darkly shiny metallic beadlike object becomes hematite to them.

Personally I like those magnetic copper bracelets. Ever try to magnetize copper?
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 07/01/08 16:51:47 EDT

No, but electromagnets would be useless without copper. Right?

And Pete, it's ASO's I hang from my.... well you get it. (grin)

Although, for my next Guinness record breaking I plan on using the 100 lb Wilkinson. Yeah, I said it.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/01/08 17:02:03 EDT

what kind of steel are farrier's rasps made of? i have access to a surplus of them and maybe interested in making knives out of them.
   albert wells jr - Tuesday, 07/01/08 17:29:33 EDT


At last you came prepared with the U.S. coins. I measure lots of things with a dollar bill. They're 6" long (or close enough), and I fold them in quarters or thirds, wrap them around pipe or square stock, etc.

I hadn't seen the magnetic copper bracelets, but the Q-Ray was ionized -- because Polaroid Corp. threatened to sue if they called it "polarized." Of course, if you've been to the movies lately, you may have seen Indiana Jones find a magnetic object using the metal in gunpowder.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 07/01/08 17:45:59 EDT

Not to mention Indy using the lead shot from a shotgun shell and later the same sort of thing attracting silver and gold coins...

Anvils: some early medieval anvils had very small horns on them. Think thumb sized. Stake anvils were often almost all horn.

BTW Are you referring to the London Pattern anvil that dates only to the 1820's or any shape anvils?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/01/08 18:01:36 EDT

Does the $1-$3 per pound rule apply to large stump anvils similiar to the large one the Guru had at the hammerin (I think its the same one shown on the home page picture)? Found a big one at a flea market in Lexington NC that isn't as nice and detailed as the Guru's but of similiar size. Also could someone look up an anvil with I C I spaced across the waist with another C in the center down near the feet approximatly 100LBS and tell me who made it. Thanks, I'm still trying to find a copy of Anvils in America for a price I can afford.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 07/01/08 18:37:18 EDT

Ever since I first became a burglary detective back in the 70's, I've carried a set of lock picks in my briefcase. The last couple of years at the VIPD, I worked for the Commissioner and was constantly picking cabinet locks (4-pin, 2-second jobs), desk drawers (more simplicity), and once, we took delivery on a half-million dollar or so bomb response van and the salesman promptly locked it up in the middle of our parking lot - yep, both sets of keys inside it. The sales guy was frantic, as the van supposedly had the latest and greatest high-security locks on the doors and he was going to have to have a set of keys flown out from the manufacturer, by courier. Took me four minutes to open it up, and three of those were wasted trying to turn the cylinder the wrong way since the locks were installed reversed. Duh. High security, indeed! Replacement keys were priced at $34 each. One torsion wrench, $6; one rake, $4; the look on the salesman's face when I popped the lock in minutes, priceless!

As a retired cop in good standing, I can carry a concealed handgun anywhere in the US and its Territories, but I don't know if I get a free pass on the lock picks anymore. I might ought to check on that...
   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/01/08 19:00:44 EDT

Albert Wells,

Simonds and Nicholson may make high carbon rasps, but I heard there are some cheesy ones in the marketplace that are simply case hardened. I would spark test one deeply to check whether it has the same carbon content all the way through. It's a good idea to grind away all rasp and file cuts before forging.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/01/08 19:02:11 EDT

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy. However, I don't carry lock picks; that will get you in trouble.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 07/01/08 20:25:28 EDT

TGN, don't rip yer nips, dude.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 07/01/08 20:29:05 EDT

Shouldn't you guys just be using the appropriately sized hammer?
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 07/01/08 20:30:39 EDT

Historic Anvil Design Changes: John, this gets tricky. First, Bronze age bronze anvils had horns, punching holes and swaging grooves. But as a cast shape they were very easy to make ANY shape the maker wanted and they varied a great deal. One interesting feature was the use of the horn as stake and stake as horn so the work surfaces could be changed.

The earliest know small iron anvils (1000AD) were similar to Bronze Age anvils but has less detail. Due to rust and age it is difficult to know how well formed their horns were but they did appear to have a somewhat pinched out horn.

Some of the earliest illustrated iron anvils of the 1400's where sort of boat shaped when viewed from the top and rectangular from the side. This point was sort of a horn but not quite. However, just as many modern artists draw anvils very poorly there are always questions about how accurate these of wood cuts and engravings were.

In Diderot (about 1770) You see many plain, small horned (add on type) and well designed double horned anvils. I believe what we see here is a catalog of anvils ranging from several hundred years to the time of the illustrator. Artworks from the 1500's show the classic French and Italian style double horned anvils with splayed feet.

In the 1700's we also have a lot of hornless English anvils along with heavy bickerns or stake anvils that could be used when that shape was needed.

The hardy hole is a relatively new invention as far as recorded anvil history goes. Many 1700's era anvils do not have them and those that do are very small (1/2" or 13mm). As the hardy became a standard tool the holes became larger and other tools made to fit. I suspect that anything other than hardies in the hole are mid to late 1800's. Pritchel holes are fairly well documented to be post 1840 or there abouts.

However, as noted, Bronze Age bronze anvils made thousands of years prior and overlapping into the Iron Age were multi-function tools with various holes. See the Swageblocks.com article on the antiquity of swage blocks for some examples.

The problem with so much of this is that it is mostly speculation based on rather weak evidence. There are virtually no iron tools remaining from the age of the Roman Empire or even as late as 1000 AD. Many old tools were recycled and modified. I can imagine a young smith taking his grandfathers old hornless anvil and having a new fangled horn welded on to it because his competition down the road was killing him with their new efficiency. So you might have an anvil originally made in 1450 with a new 1625 horn. . We KNOW hardie and pritichel holes were being added in the 1800's from the quality of the modifications. But what of high class mods like Dean's Peddinghaus with a side shelf. . . I've made mods to tools that you could not tell from OEM features. So with few samples and no documentation all we can do is guess.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/01/08 21:13:36 EDT

I decided to age some steel in the tidal pond near my shop. I wirebush it shiny, and the next morning it is rusty again. What do I have to do to get the salt out?
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 07/01/08 21:16:13 EDT

Stake Anvils: Robert, The one I have is a classic European antique that would sell for a lot more than an anvil. But the typical price on stake anvils is the same as sheet metal stakes, around $150 but less when the seller wants to move said item, more when in exemplary condition. The last blowhorn stake I purchased was $99 and I thought a good deal.

Cheap AIA: No such thing. Used book sellers are asking double and triple the NEW selling price of $65. And all you can expect is for that to go UP. It is a large expensive book to publish and the profits pretty low. I expect the price to go UP another $10 with the next printing and the same for the second book. The best deal is on our AIA-Mousehole Forge bundle. You save over $10 on the pair depending on how you have it shipped. If you call in an order we will ship book rate to save you a few bucks(if you can wait).
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/01/08 21:28:14 EDT

Rust: John, don't use a wire brush. Wire brushes and certain grinding operations smear the steel creating a skin like scales that chemicals can hide under. Wash with soap and water, rinse and rinse again. Clean with less aggressive methods.

Also, if you are near tidal pools you are also in a salt air zone. We get lots of nightly condensation this time of year. Unless the steel is coated with something it is going to rust fairly aggressively, ESPECIALLY if you keep cleaning it. Much "clean" steel that does not seem to rust has been phosphated or some other protective process (even a simple gray haze of oxidation with oil will slow rusting in some cases).
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/01/08 21:37:18 EDT

   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 07/01/08 22:25:37 EDT

Thanks for the comments
   - John L. - Tuesday, 07/01/08 23:16:38 EDT

Expensive car key - My Mom has a PT Cruiser with one of those expensive keys. There is some sort of gizmo imbeded in the rubber part that is "read" by a component in the security system that is mounted in the steering colum. Even if You pick the lock the car is not supposed to run.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/01/08 23:42:23 EDT

FYI-- Centaur currently lists its Vaughn blowhorn anvil on this very site at $405 U.S.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 07/02/08 00:51:46 EDT

Merl, my shop has not had critters for a long time so it smells a lot cleaner than it looks.
   brian kennedy - Wednesday, 07/02/08 06:06:28 EDT

Thank you. The stake anvil I found was priced at $200.00 pre-haggle so another look might not be a bad idea. Is the AIA bundle that you are referring to the one shown on the store page?
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 07/02/08 06:50:56 EDT

Electromagnets and copper:

Actually a wire made of any electrically conducting material will become an electromagnet when current goes through it. It's the current, not the metal. I believe aluminum wire has been used in buzz-boxes, and a transformer is just a different application of an electromagnet.

I bet even a tube of saltwater would make an electromagnet. That might be a cool Mr. Wizard kind of experiment.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 07/02/08 08:10:49 EDT

Marc, no water conductor magnets allowed! That might wreck my theory that no water creature could develop serious technology. No fire, no tech. Thus a lot of the science fiction about advanced creatures from water worlds is bad science.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/02/08 10:38:29 EDT

Expensive High Tech Keys: The problem is replacement cost AND locking your key in the car . . . something that my ex did often enough that I still had the second key to her old car for 5 years after we separated (and had to rescue her at least once). I sent the key to her new husband with a note to keep it in a safe place. . .

The fact that these cars come with only ONE key is also a problem. Few people will fork out that much money for a second key.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/02/08 10:43:57 EDT

Guru, Forgot one step in describing rusting process. What I actualy did, was wirebrush the steel till shiny, then waxed with bowling alley wax. the next morning, rust right through the wax. So now I think I have to get the wax off, then treat the salt impregnated in the steel. Other steel, that I rusted in fresh water/air, is still unrusted a month later, in the same shop, which is only a couple hundred feet from salt water. I am wondering if I should soak it in acid, or throw it in a freshwater pond, or use a wax remover, then soap,etc. Ideas welcome.
   John Christiansen - Wednesday, 07/02/08 12:27:02 EDT

Just for that, I'm going to rustle up some tubing and make myself a water magnet.

Anyway, the reason water creatures have all that technology is because they developed it on dry land before their continent sunk. I thought everybody knew that.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 07/02/08 13:43:52 EDT

John, A high pressure flush is about all I can think of. Salts cannot be neutralized because they are the result of neutralizing acids and alkalies. All you can do is wash them off. If you have wax you will need to use a dewaxer, followed by a degreaser and possibly an alkaline cleaner like bleach (which should then be neutralized with a weak acid), all followed by fresh water flushing.

If the surface has the scaled or smeared finish I was speaking of then getting out whatever is embedded under the surface is tough. I first experianced this with surface ground parts and radioactive contamination. Parts with common machined surfaces cleaned right up but one set of surface ground parts were nearly impossible. While the surface was in fact perfectly clean and surface sampling showed nothing a meter still showed contamination (all it takes is one HOT molecule). I eventually flushed it out with some WD-40. But we were beginning to think the tools would have to be scrapped.

   - guru - Wednesday, 07/02/08 15:26:18 EDT

Thankyou for your thorough and timely reply.
   John Christiansen - Wednesday, 07/02/08 16:03:58 EDT

Not to be picky, but I'd think one hot molecule would only be a problem if it happened to decay when you had the meter on it. It would give up its alpha, beta, or gamma particle and decay into whatever it decays into, and that would be that.

Okay, I guess the product might be unstable and decay into something else again, and maybe the molecule would be made up of more than one radioactive atom. But it's hard to see a single molecule emitting a constant stream of particles.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 07/02/08 17:01:01 EDT

OK, a microscopic spec. In any case, we couldn't see it or wipe it off. But when I DID manage to flush it, the wipe and the bag of trash all read the same high reading. Reading would be gamma at distance. Not sure how many Uranium atoms make up an invisible spec. . . Yep, the only thing that reads that hot is bits of fuel that has leaked from the fuel rods.

In any case, that much salt hidden in the surface of a piece of metal would continually create an electrolytic corrosion process in the presence of any moisture.

The nuc tool parts I was cleaning had been throughly degreased with freon before use. IF they had been slightly oily the problem probably would not occurred and the contamination just wiped off . . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/02/08 18:01:43 EDT

Will 7018 welding rods Be good for hard faceing a project anvil
   Joel - Wednesday, 07/02/08 19:48:16 EDT

I just fired the forge for the first time and other than a yellowish tinge, the tuyre appears to be unscathed. I didn't see any white smoke or brilliant white flames, I don't think my forge gets hot enough to make the zinc coating a problem. Then again, I'll let you know if I come down with something.
   Nabiul Haque - Wednesday, 07/02/08 20:55:51 EDT

Joel: 7018 is a typical structural welding rod, it won't be any harder than the material You made the anvil from. Just yse the anvil face as it is and dress it if You ding it up.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 07/02/08 22:27:33 EDT

Dave, Thanks I wasnt sure if it would be any better or not. I think it is going to be more like WHEN I ding it instead of if. LOL
   Joel - Wednesday, 07/02/08 22:50:23 EDT

Nabiul, A bright yellow dusty coating is also a form of zinc oxide. As I mentioned, unless a test firing is a full blast "trying to get a welding heat" type fire it is rarely a test of what the forge is really going to do. It is the moment when you answer the phone or get similarly distracted for more than a few minutes that things often get REAL hot.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/02/08 23:56:16 EDT

A friend brought a solid bar of silica bronze, 1 1/2' diam., 12" long, over to my shop to heat it up and shape it. I have a one burner propane forge and heated the bar untill it got red hot. when we hit it with a hammer, 2lb, it split and large pieces fell off. It had grain marks all going toward the center. What happened and why? What kind of bronze do we need to heat and shape it? We were trying to flatten it. Did we over heat it? We would appreciate all the info you can provide. Thanks, David
   - David - Wednesday, 07/02/08 23:56:57 EDT

Hard Facing: Joel, The hidden cost of hard facing is the electricity used and the abrasives. The rods are expensive to start but the other costs are often overlooked. The electric bill may not be yours or come a month after the fact. . . Unless it is a very small part of a big industrial bill it WILL be noticed. All that heat is not free.

Unless you are a darn good welder a hard facing job will look like the surface of the moon or a rutted dirt road. Then it will need be ground reasonably flat, all flux removed from pits (grinding with a die grinder) and then more welding to repair the mess followed by more grinding and welding. Most of that rod you turn to dust will need to be replaced. . .

Most common hard facing jobs are not continuous smooth things. They are wear stripes and wear padding on back hoe buckets and dozer blades. They are linings in rock crushers and mineral cooking drums. All these are pretty ugly. Making an anvil or die face is a different business.

There are a variety of hard facing rods. You should consult your welding supplier. You want tough more than hard because the REAL hard rods are designed to resist abrasion from things like grinding media.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/03/08 00:09:00 EDT

Bronze: David, There are thousands of bronzes and you must know what you have before you heat and forge it. Generally a red heat is too high unless it is just barely red in very low light. Red you can see in daylight is on the verge of melting.

Many 12" lengths of bronze found in "scraps" are bearing stock which is sold in short lengths, some of which is sintered oilite bronze. This may look like a solid material but it is not. It is made from powder and compressed enough to hold together and be porous enough to absorb oil. It cannot be shaped by bending or forging. Oilite is also made into flats and bars.

Other bronzes are leaded free machining stocks. When heated the lead melts first and the stock crumbles when forged. If heated to less than the melting point of the lead it can be forged but this requires careful temperature control. A friend of mine bought what was supposed to be "architectural" bronze but was a higher leaded bronze that matched the architectural bronze color. He managed to do the job (using a coal forge) but lost about 15% in the fire.

The best forging bronze is actually a brass C26000, 70% Cu, 30% Zn. All others forgeability are measured from this.

See our Brass and Bronze FAQ and Machinery's Handbook for more brasses and bronzes and their applications.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/03/08 00:30:26 EDT

Although there is not, as far as I know, anything commonly called "silica" bronze, a very common alloy that a lot of blacksmiths like to forge is C655, Silicon Bronze.
This is almost all copper, and so its a very forgiving alloy to forge-but if you got it red, you got it way too hot, and the result is what we call "cookie dough", which is what it looks like as it falls apart when you hit it.
I forge it more at about a purple/brown color in room light, or a very light red in a dark room.

I gotta disagree with the guru about C260 being the best- I much prefer to forge any of the bronzes with much less, or no, zinc. I like Silicon Bronze a lot, but any of the higher copper content bronzes, like aluminum bronze or nickel bronzes forge pretty well.
I have forged hundreds of pounds of naval bronze, which is very close to C260- it just has a trace of Silicon in it, usually around .75%, otherwise its almost indistinguishable from that C260- and it requires extreme focus and concentration. It does forge quite nicely, but it is not the easiest, by far. I just did a few pieces the other day, forging 3/4" material down to about 1/8" plate, and it took multiple heats, and a lot of patience. Very easy to end up with an expensive puddle, and a lot of zinc in an alloy seems to make it crumble and crack a lot more than Silicon does.
Real "architectural" bronze is usually C385, which is 57% copper, 40% zinc, and 3% lead, and it is always nasty to forge. It is made for machined, and cold formed architectural uses, and the lead in it makes it a poor forging bronze.

My guess is that the stuff David had, if it was Silicon bronze, probably would have forged quite sweetly if it was worked at a lower temp.
   - Ries - Thursday, 07/03/08 00:46:35 EDT


What you had mustnot have been real silicon bronze if it crumbled at a red heat. I routinely forge silicon bronze, alloy C65500, at a high orange heat with no problems. If you work it too much at a low red heat, say with a power hammer, you can crack it from work hardening, but not on one hit. High silicon bronze, C65500, can be worked at any heat short of melting and is wonderful stuff to forge.

Architectural bronze, alloy C38500, also forges very nicely, but the silicon bronze can be TIG welded with no color change, so I prefer it for most uses.
   vicopper - Thursday, 07/03/08 00:48:50 EDT

The best scrap bronze/brass I've worked is door hinges. My bro-in-law refurbished a house and gave me about two dozen hinges. Don't know exactly what type of brass/bronze it is, but it forges just the way silicon bronze is described. Door hinges are relatively small though, but they are great for bolsters and handguards for knives and the mini swords I make.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 07/03/08 08:38:09 EDT

Man, Rich, if you like that C385, I probably have a couple of hundred pounds of 3/8" x 2" flat bar in it kicking around- I hates the stuff, nothing but trouble with it crumbling, cracking, and just plain being nasty.
I ended up cold hammering a texture on a hundred feet or so, and just machining and riveting it, for a big project I had, as compared to Silicon or Naval it was so irrascable.
I wont be at quad state, but next time I come east for a big blacksmithing event, I will have to bring some in my baggage, to offload on masochists.
   - Ries - Thursday, 07/03/08 09:38:34 EDT

Remember that heat colours are very subjective and depend a *LOT* on ambient light. At a bronze forging demo at SOFA I remember the demonstrator saying just barely glowing in a *full* *dark* shop and that is what I have used with good success.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/03/08 10:33:48 EDT

For the C65500 silicon bronze, I forge it at a orange heat as viewed in my rather brightly lighted shop. I've never dimmed the lights to see what it looked like in lower light, as I hate working in dim light. Probably even be a lighter orange, though.
   vicopper - Thursday, 07/03/08 10:41:50 EDT

I've been commisioned to do torches for fire performers.. check these out
These are un-wicked torches, most fire performers wrap their own wicking with Kevlar, the barbs on the tip help keep the head from coming loose. These will sell for $40-$50 per torch.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 07/03/08 14:30:47 EDT

Is TGN already in use on the big board? With all the different things you are making your IPO can't be too far off.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/03/08 15:16:27 EDT

Been thinking too much again. We've had a number of discussions regarding the work hardening of anvil faces. My take has always been that true work hardening takes way more deformation than you would ever see on an anvil. BUT, there is something happening. The anecdotal is very compelling. My best guess at this time is localized heating by the hot steel. In the instant that your hammer hits the hot steel it is forced into very intimate contact with the anvil face. Maybe it heats the face to a high enough temperature to cause some kind of hardening. I’m talking on a micro-level here. Something that cannot be observed with the eye. This has been observed in drop forging dies too. Often after use there will be a hard surface that is near impossible to machine. So, I think the question should NOT be “is it work-hardening” but rather “is it hardening”? Whatcha think Quenchcrack?
   - grant - Thursday, 07/03/08 15:33:44 EDT

Guess I'm stuck on this. Re-defining the question has certainly changed my thinking. Part of the problem is making too many assumptions too soon. What do we know for sure? First, we think we know that the surface gets harder “with use”. This is just anecdotal, but comes from many sources. Then we jump to the conclusion that that means work-hardening. Maybe. Too soon to decide. I jumped too far the other way because I “know” that work-hardening requires a lot of deformation. Now I have to question that. It’s based on the work required to harden soft material, but how much deformation is required to make fairly hard steel “a little harder”?

I’ve dressed off flat dies that showed no visible deformation but had a very hard “bark” or thin surface hardness that was well over 60Rc at least. These dies were 50-52 Rc before use. So if a 50% reduction is required to reach this harness from soft, how much reduction is required from 50Rc? Then we get into: 50% of what? In soft material we might get compressing down to what, 1/8 inch? In 50Rc material how deep will our blows make a physical change? Using 10% (because the material is already 50Rc) we could get expect a .010 depth of increased hardness by denting the surface only .001. That’s only one thousandth of an inch! A .010 hard surface backed up by material that is pretty hard should be pretty good. Also, the surface hardness would probably be in a gradient with the hardest material right on the surface.

I’ll keep thinkin’ on it and hope for input.
   - grant - Thursday, 07/03/08 17:00:45 EDT

Grant, IF the steel, even a very thin layer got hot enough then it could possibly quench and be quite hard. But we are talking about a VERY thin skin. . . maybe less than case hardening. Or it could be some kind of compacting. . .

I think most of the anecdotal lore about work hardening anvils comes from dealers or sellers of soft anvils. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 07/03/08 18:00:21 EDT


Doesn't shot peening result in surface hardening? It seems like the effect you'd get on an anvil would be similar.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 07/03/08 18:32:31 EDT

One other thought -- it seems unlikely that the anvil surface could ever get hard enough to quench harden. If you could place a hot piece of steel in perfect contact with the surface of the anvil, heat would (duh) flow from the hotter piece to the cooler layer surface layer of the anvil face. As that layer started to get warm, heat would begin to flow from it into the rest of the anvil.

Once the anvil surface reached the midway point between the temperature of the work and that of the rest of the anvil, heat would flow *out* of the surface layer at the same rate as it was flowing *into* it. The system would be at equilibrium, and the surface temperature would stabilize. If you split the difference between even a forge welding heat and a cold anvil, you'd probably still be below critical temperature. At most, you'd barely reach it.

And, for at least two reasons, the surface temperature would not reach even that theoretical halfway point. First, the anvil surface will always be in better contact with the anvil than the work. Second, the work would be in contact only for a very short period, and the closer the anvil surface got to the equilibrium temperature, the slower its temperature would change.

So I think that if the anvil surface *does* harden, it must be due to a mechanical effect.

   Mike BR - Thursday, 07/03/08 18:59:00 EDT

Mike, you just shot my theory down. .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/03/08 19:20:25 EDT

OK, let me wax philosophical and you can all punch holes in my thinking. First, I think is is possible and even likely that the surface of the anvil could reach a temperature sufficient to create austenite. This is probably only a VERY thin layer, a few .0001's of an inch. If the anvil was cold, it would mass quench this layer very quickly to form martensite. However, subsequent applications of hot iron would temper the martensite back to nearly the same hardness as before. Similarly, work hardening is also probable on the anvil face but again only as a very thin layer. As has been mentioned, dents in a hard anvil face are usually on the order of a few thousandths of an inch deep. The metal under that dent may get harder to some degree. However, as in the martensite formation, application of hot metal to the surface would stress relieve the shallow work-hardened layer back to normal hardness level. There is a third possiblity but it is even less probable. If the face of a medium carbon anvil were quenched but tempered at a low temperature, you may have some retained austenite in the martensitic structure. The higher the carbon content the more likely this is. Retained austenite can transform to martensite at room temperature by mechanical impact, eg a hammer blow. As the retained austenite transforms to martensite, the hardness may increase somewhat. However, putting hot iron on the anvil would also likely temper this martensite back considerably. So I am thinking that it is probably possible to work harden an anvil face but the net effect would be fairly small if it were even measureable. I did read about someone who spent 8 hours hammering on a new anvil face to get the hardness up. I am not sure how he would know if he had any effect especially after putting hot iron on it. I think he bought it from Frankie8Acres.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 07/03/08 19:44:31 EDT

*makes the sign of the T and invokes the name of Our Ford*
You guys can therorize all you want, and you will never know, so why doesn't one of you buy a brandnew anvil, measure the hardness of the surface, use it for a year, (or a decade) then measure it again?
No sense wasting energy on theories on "why" before you even know "if".
   JimG - Thursday, 07/03/08 20:32:15 EDT

I need a price for a wedgelock connector/wedgelock hardware and am having a difficult time locating the item.
   Gary Abreo - Thursday, 07/03/08 23:02:38 EDT

Gary, You need to be clearer on the type of item. McMaster-Carr has wedge lock washers, there are wedgelock excavator attachments, cable wedge locks, wagner has wedge lock pipe welding connectors and there are many shelf assembly methods call "wedge lock". Google is loaded with various wedge lock devices.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/03/08 23:32:36 EDT

I need help in finding the April '08 archives for this forum. All I can see is January '08. Thanks for the help.
   boss - Friday, 07/04/08 01:00:23 EDT


My dad passed away a month ago and I've inherited some old blacksmith equipment. I have no idea if modern blacksmiths would be interested, but thought I'd give this a shot. I have a Champion Blower & Forge brand "400" blower set from the turn of the century. All original blower in mint condition on original legs, plus the pipes and kiln (fire pot - not sure what you call it). Also, the "pliers", cups, and other stuff. As well, a mint condition Champion Blower & Forge post/wall mounted blacksmith drill press, as well as two anvils. All of this equipment was used in my great-grandfather's Ford (Model T) dealership/shop in the early 20's. His son, my grandfather, ran the shop and suddenly died of appendicitis in July 1925. They literally closed the doors and all has been sitting dry and secure since. I have lots of pictures. Also, there's an acetylene furnace and associated room full of tools and dies, which I have no clue what most are. If anyone has interest, or could give me some advice on groups that might be - I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks for reading. Joe
   Joe - Friday, 07/04/08 07:16:15 EDT


All that equipment has value and there are many who would pay a very fair price for it, if they are in the same general area. That stuff is heavy to ship, obviously. The best bet for you is probably to check with the nearest blacksmithing group to get a fair appraisal for at least the main items. If you go to www.abana-chapter.com you can find a list of blacksmithing groups in the US and seeif one is near you. Contact them for further assistance; since you didn't give your location, that's about the best I can tell you.

Don't, don't, don't go to an antiques dealer for an appraisal or sale! Those are working tools that should be kept in usde by people who really care about the craft, not turned into rusty yard ornaments.
   vicopper - Friday, 07/04/08 07:58:28 EDT

Thank you for the advice, much appreciated. The equipment is at our family home in north central TN (on the Cumberland Plateau). I will check on a local chapter. I'd much rather someone have the equipment that can use and appreciate it. If curious, there's a vintage brochure picture of the exact set I have on the About Us page of this website: http://www.championfan.com/. Thanks again.
   Joe - Friday, 07/04/08 08:11:54 EDT

Joe, I wish I were closer! I'm in northeast TN, Johnson City.

Your local forge groups are in Cookeville, Mt. Juliet, or Clarksville, depending on just where on the northern plateau you happen to be. Shoot me an email for further info, Alan.Longmire (add the @ symbol) state.tn.us and be sure to get all the dots in there with no spaces. And spell Alan right, two "l's" or an "e" won't get to me! (grin!)
   Alan-L - Friday, 07/04/08 09:41:13 EDT

Jim G, good idea. Can you tell me what Rockwell scale to use? Since the effect is expected to be limited to a thin surface layer, we can't use the standard Rockwell C 150 KG load. If we use the superficial loads as in a microhardness tester, using 5-50 grams, we need to polish the surface to a mirror finish or the surface irregularities will affect the reading. Next, we need to figure out how to put a 100 pound anvil under a machine made to test samples in the 100 gram range. Sounds easy but it isn't.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/04/08 11:02:33 EDT

I am guessing the wedgelock hardware is the stuff Wagner makes for connecting pipe, in ornamental iron and railing uses- if so, you need to google the Wagner Companies or R&B Wagner. They are located in Wisconsin, and they make, right here in America, a lot of the pipe rail fittings and ornamental stuff sold at places like King Metals.
They make a wedgelock system for pipe, (Wedge-Lock is a copyrighted name owned by Wagner) in sizes from 3/4" up to at least 2", in stainless, mild, and aluminum, which holds two pipe ends in registration, while you weld them together. In most large scale pipe rail jobs, these are standard for the industry.
I have used em a bunch, and they work exactly as advertised, leaving a precisely sized gap, for minimum grinding afterwards.
   - Ries - Friday, 07/04/08 12:04:45 EDT

Thomas... "big board"... IPO? What is this? Is it good? Does this mean I can call myself an actual blacksmith?!
   - Nippulini - Friday, 07/04/08 12:08:43 EDT

I have an anvil that was used to the point that the hard plate has been completely worn through, and into the wrought body underneath. I have no idea who wore it out, on what class of work. I don't see why, whatever tremendous number of hammer blows caused this wear, would not be sufficient to cause work hardening. Also, if steel, especialy very hard steel is worked too cold, it could transfer lot of energy to an anvil face. No argument, just some thoughts.
   John Christiansen - Friday, 07/04/08 12:11:10 EDT

QC, of course I can't tell you which scale to use, I'm just a simple country smith. I don't care what scale is used, but unless something can be measured it doesn't exist.
   JimG - Friday, 07/04/08 12:42:41 EDT

Ths point is, you can't readily measure the hardness difference with existing hardness testing equipment. It is easy to say "just measure it before and after use" but it is not easy to do so.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/04/08 13:03:24 EDT

Which are you saying, that it is difficult to measure, or that it is impossible?
   JimG - Friday, 07/04/08 15:01:30 EDT

Work Hardening and Wear: John, I too have such an old anvil with the face worn through and I have seen anvils used to where grooves were worn in them from the scale. It is also common for farriers to wear out numerous anvils in a carreer. Since we are speaking of microscopic effects over time the problem may be that the face wears down faster than it could work harden.

While it takes a LOT to wear an anvil I know a smith that wore a groove in his making one of the more popular items he makes. . . This was not generations of wear but ONE smith.

Grant mentioned power hammer dies hardening. I think this is more likely possible due to the huge number of cycles.

I go back to my anvil salesman statement ("It will work harden") and wonder what good is an anvil with only the sweet spot where 90% of the work is done being hard and the rest soft? While 90% is done in a few places the kind of work done on the rest is often the kinds of work that would damage a soft anvil.
   - guru - Friday, 07/04/08 16:48:15 EDT

As the sun is lowering and it will soon be fireworks time in the U.S. celebrating the 4th of July, Y'all be safe out there tonight!
   - guru - Friday, 07/04/08 16:50:11 EDT

I think it's funny that the ads on the sidebar are all trying to teach us math after your discussion of general incompetence with fractions.
   - Josh s - Friday, 07/04/08 18:52:11 EDT

Jim, We could sawcut a chunk out of the anvil face, mount and polish it and do a hardness test. Except grinding and polishing the surface would probably abrade away the hardened surface. Maybe not impossible but I can't think of a practical way to do it.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/04/08 19:34:40 EDT

Ah. . destructive testing. . .
   - guru - Friday, 07/04/08 20:25:59 EDT

I like destructive testing. It's second only to explosive testing. I wish you all a safe and happy 4th. I went out and bought my firecrackers today. I will be setting them off EARLY tomorrow morning for the benefit of those who will keep me awake tonight.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/04/08 20:39:15 EDT

So in conclusion, if the "work hardened" surface isn't hard enough to survive being measured, it's not going to be hard enough to be noticeable to a smith swinging a hammer, and for practical purposes isn't any harder than it was when the anvil was new.
   JimG - Friday, 07/04/08 20:48:41 EDT

Jim G, You got it! Theories aren't so bad, after all. If only we could offer Quenchcrack a $50,000 grant plus $500 per hour, I'll betcha' he could hustle up a workable experiment.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 07/04/08 21:04:40 EDT

Work hardening anvils: I stand by My original post on this subject. The hammer dies Grant is talking about aren't hard in the first place, He mentions machining them. They may be soft enough to work harden from deformation. Hard steel doesn't deform from working hot or cold steel [not hardened steel] on it, it just wears away. By the way, when I am talking about hard tool steel, I mean above 55RC. You can only deform steel in this hardnes range a little before it chips, cracks or spalls. Do Your hammer faces work harden? They should too if Your anvil does. Drop forging dies do go through severe heat cycling from transfered heat, it shows up as heat checking. The hot work tool steels are formulated to tolerate this better than cold work tool steel.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/04/08 22:32:45 EDT

Glad I'm not a $50,000 Grant!!
   - grant - Friday, 07/04/08 23:44:40 EDT

Dave, there you go, how hard is hard? I usually made "flat" dies from 4340 heat treated to 50-52 Rc. Plenty soft enough to machine, just about right for hammer dies.
   - grant - Friday, 07/04/08 23:49:34 EDT

i heard that a smith can make all his tools other than his anvil so how would one go about making a bench vise?
   denny - Saturday, 07/05/08 03:11:39 EDT

FAQ's, "V", Leg Vices: Denny, Blacksmiths used a vise called a "leg vice". While they are a bit of a chore to make (most were made in large blacksmith shops that were early "factories") they WERE hand forged. A common bench vise is made of cast parts and is actually easier to make in a foundry, except for the screw.

The hard part to make is the screw. Modern vises and blacksmiths leg vices since the early 1800's have the screws and matching nuts machined on a screw cutting lathe. Early screws were hand turned on a lathe similar to doing wood turning. Then the nuts were made by coiling a piece of square bar around the screw, slipping it in a hand made tube and fire brazing the thread into the tube to make the nut. It is a complicated process but was figured out by vise makers and used for hundreds of years to make perhaps millions of vises.

The brazed nut or "box" as they called it had a forge welded tube, thrust shoulder ring, finishing ring and end plug all brazed together. In our article on leg vises I have a photo of one of these that is missing some of the parts.

The great British anvil and vise maker "Peter Wright" was the first to use a lathe to drill and thread what they called their patented "solid box". They were a beautiful piece of early turning and were hand finished and decorated in the lathe. Soon other makers followed in this superior process.

Other changes in vise manufacturing included drop forging many of the parts and casting ductile iron bench brackets. Blacksmiths leg vices became such a standard item, made almost identically by every manufacture that they were eventually sold by the pound without reference to maker.

Since the mid 1800's a lathe was a common tool in many blacksmith shops and a smith so equipped could make a very nice vise if they wanted to. However, factory made vises, like anvils were readily available at a cost much less than doing so by hand.

The statement in Alex Bealer's book The Art of Blacksmithing, that a blacksmith could make all his tools except his anvil is not really true. Today many smiths make their own anvils using modern tools but it was also possible for very primitive smiths using stone tools to make an anvil provided they had the iron. Technology has always "bootstrapped" it's way up from primitive tools to more advanced tools one step at a time.

However, generally in the blacksmith shop to make your own tools including a vise, requires an anvil, hammer and forge. From there you can make tongs, punches, chisels. Then more hammers and even a vise provided that you have the knowledge and training as well as the materials. Tongs are a tool that can be made without tongs if you have long bar OR even wood or metal "tweezer" tongs. Once you have one pair it is much easier to make more.

Knowledge is the blacksmiths most important tool. With it you can start at a stone age level of tools and build a machine shop.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/05/08 09:03:32 EDT

This may not be as simple as it seems -- things seldom are. But it occurs to me that if you subtract the yeild strength for a given material from its ultimate tensile strength, you'd get the change in strength due to work hardening.

My 1941 Marks' Handbook gives strength values for 4340 in a number of different states. Annealed, it's 45K PSI yield and 80K PSI ultimate tensile strength. Quenched and drawn to 1300 degrees, the numbers are 110K PSI and 130K PSI. Quenched and drawn to 400 degrees, they're 260K PSI and 290K PSI.

So at least for that alloy (if my logic and the 1941 numbers are good), there's always some room for work hardening, but the harder the steel's heat treated, the less significant the strength gain becomes.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 07/05/08 09:30:15 EDT

Mike, yes, if the Y/T Ratio is low enough (60%) there appears to be "room" for work hardening. Do you think no work hardening is possible with a Y/T ratio of, say .98? The difference between the Yield and Tensile strengh is not necessarily what the book publishes. Yield strength is purely a defined number as opposed to tensile strength with is an observable point of failure. For example, some specifications state that yield will be determined at .2% extension under load. Others say .5% EUL. Some say to use a .2% strain offset. All of these assume a very slow strain rate, not the impulsive loads of a hammer blow. Work hardening occurs when the nice neat regular rows of atoms in a metallic crystal are radically distorted. This impedes dislocation mobility so it takes more load to move the metal. The crystal lattices must be sufficiently distorted to implede dislocation movement and I do not believe you will get that distortion to any significant depth into the anvil face with a hand hammer. I think you could do so with soft dies in a power hammer.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/05/08 14:40:48 EDT

Hardness testing; Quenchcrack you are spoiled with too much high tech! You would use a scleroscope to test the change in hardness!

TGN, Big Board is at the Ney York Stock exchange and IPO refers to initial public offering, the first time a company sells stock as it goes to a publically traded status.

Thomas, drifting through
   Thomas Powers - Saturday, 07/05/08 14:48:51 EDT

Quenchcrack, they do make pocket Rockwell hardness testers for what ever scale you need. I was going to borrow one from a former employer to check the table on my Hey-Bud but, I decided it just wasn't important. No burn intended, I just figured the hardness as a resault of whatever proses ment nothing to an amateur such as myself.
   - merl - Saturday, 07/05/08 16:26:40 EDT

Guru, if someone wanted to make a leg vise from scratch do you think it would be folly to try and make the two halves(fixed and moving) each from one forged piece.
That is to start with one bar large enough to make the entire half from? Obviously you would need a striker or two or a big enough power hamer but I think it would make an impressive demo piece at my annual club show with a bit of practice.
   - merl - Saturday, 07/05/08 16:42:48 EDT

The scleroscope is one of the least accurate hardness measuring devices. Never had much use for them. Portable Rockwell machines are similarly limited in accuracy. They typically use Rc or Rb, both of which put a heavy load on the indenter. This could easily punch right through a thin skin of work hardened steel. Listen guys, if you want to go measure the workhardening on your anvil, do so. I am not here to say it CAN'T be done or SHOULDN'T be done. I am saying that if you understand the theory of hardness testing, you need to address some problems that will affect your results. For instance, the very act of pushing a pointed diamond or a small ball bearing into steel will cause it to work harden. How do you identify and differentiate the hardening done by the instrument and the hardening done by the hammer?
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/05/08 16:48:06 EDT

Vise/Vice Making: Merl, Almost identical designs were used for little clamp on bench vises. So you could start small for practice.

The lightest regular leg vise is about 30 pounds with probably 18 pounds of that the stationary jaw. The thing to remember about these is that they were originally almost all wrought iron and it was common to build up rather than forge down. The back jaw with leg is several pieces. The leg is welded on at the hinge and the hinge slabs cover and reinforce the total joint. Hardened inserts are also welded on. The jaw holes are split and drifted open in a way that takes advantage of the grain in the wrought iron without cutting it.

Even the late drop forged vises seem to have the hinge side slabs forge welded on. However, I have one that they appear to have been arc welded.

The early vices also used the tennon bench bracket which was much easier to make than the later wedge and strap type. A single pin held the bracket and spring.

In French and other European vises the hinge side slabs were much larger and riveted to the back jaw. This avoided a pair of forge welds and also made rigid side guides for the movable jaw.

The crews that made these were probably the same 5 man crews that made anvils. A master smith directing strikers and holders who probably rotated as they tired AND/OR the smith possibly doing the primary work holding and everyone else strikeing. . . As noted above, with piecing the vise together some of the parts could be made in advance of assembly OR by others. The lower leg tapers gently converting from square to round then has a thrust ring forge welded on. Making the leg is as much a seperate part as making the box.

A smallish power hammer (100 to 200 pounds) would work nicely but you are going to need more than just ONE striker to do it manually. To make this an enjoyable demo you are going to need a crew that is making various parts at one time so that it does not take a week OR do most of the forging in advance and do the welding, brazing and fitting as the demo. The trick would be to have a well practiced crew that had made a half dozen vices before putting on a show.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/05/08 20:30:46 EDT

Grant, We did "machine" A2 & D2 stamping dies that were about 60 RC or a little above with a Hydrotell and shop made carbide ball mills, but I wouldn't call that material machinable. The well used working surfaces wern't any worse to cut than the underlying material, and as these are air hardening die steels, they harden through in large sections. And for the record, the materials were actually tested for hardness with a rockwell tester. How hard is hard is always a relative question. A leather mallet is plenty hard if You hit Your thumb with it.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 07/05/08 22:58:06 EDT

Dempsey's shop rule "All steel is like rubber except when apposed to flesh."
   - guru - Saturday, 07/05/08 23:16:40 EDT

Ken and Grant--
Thanks for the information. This at least gives me a ballpark idea and a starting place, as well as knowing the shaft-driven part so I can describe it better. I checked the ABANA section of the site--there is a chapter in Montana, but no contact information! I am thinking I may try to sell the things on Craigslist, unless anyone has a better idea.
   Ellen McKinley - Saturday, 07/05/08 23:17:37 EDT

Ellen-- these tools are all unique specialty items and worth quite a bit to those who use or admire/collect them. Even the shafting and the brackets and wheels thereof have their market. I doubt Craigslist would reach them. Ebay would, but gets you into a big shipping headache. How about Early American Industries Association, the old tool collectors' group? They may have a chapter in your area that meets regularly. To get top dollar you will have to wait for the right buyer(s). Sell in a hurry and you may take a huge hit. Is Dave Drum still around Billings? He founded KOA, knows a lot of people....
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/06/08 00:02:56 EDT

Dave Boyer, it is entirely appropriate to use Rc to test A2 or D2. They have a uniformly hard structure from the surface to deep into the piece. These are high carbon, high alloy tool steels and any effect from work hardening would be negligible compared to the mass hardness from the high carbon martensite and the massive carbide structure.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/06/08 08:59:07 EDT

QC, but what if they were not hardened in the first place and all hardening if from shallow surface work?

The problem as I have stated it is salesmen selling non heat treated anvils and telling the customer "It will work harden" which is what I think the root of the discussion. Of course most high carbon high alloy tool steels are pretty darn tough even when annealed. I suspect as-cast or normalized is harder to start than the subject "work hardening" anvils. .

   - guru - Sunday, 07/06/08 09:17:41 EDT

Is this a similar discussion as to an anvil losing wieght with age due to sway? I don't buy that one... if a 100 lb anvil is flat and true, then gets whacked on for a hundred years or so and loses its flatness, with out any material removal, how could weight be lost? It's just compression. 1 pound is one pound regardless of if its squished.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 07/06/08 10:25:26 EDT

I've seen two old English anvils where there was not only noticable sway-back, but about 1/4" edge mushrooming at the deepest part of the sway, near and far edges. Just an observation. It tells us nothing about Rockwell or Brinell.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/06/08 11:00:32 EDT

THANK YOU, Guru, for the clear and concise reply.
I was wondering if the old vise I have wasn't a build up. It's very nicely done but, I just couldn't beleive that who ever was producing them was making them from a solid. What you say about having multiple people making parts and bringing them together makes a good visual and is what I would like to see beeing done during the show. I relise if you intend to make trinkets to sell at the window you gotta' make what sells but, I've seen enough S hooks, rail road spike knives and camp fire cup holders to choke a horse! Every show I go to the different smiths or shops are making the same stuff (and selling the same amount, little to none) I do think with alot of practice this would be a nice demo and would convey to the public the roll the blacksmith had in the industrial revolution that braught civilisation to were it is.
When I demo I don't do the trinkets unless someone askes. I make tools and hardware. Granted because of my newbe status it's simple stuff but, we got one older fella who makes trinkets all day and is very good at it. We have up to six guys working there at a time and I think we should be doing more. BTW, where would I get a good video of a multiple striker gang at work?
   - merl - Sunday, 07/06/08 11:22:56 EDT

Weight Loss: Nip, anvils DO lose weight due to wear. I have an old anvil with the face worn through in a hole about silver dollar size. All that missing face material is weight.

Blacksmiths are also known to dress their anvils occasionally removing the mushrooming that often goes with sway (as Frank noted). I've also used anvils that the horn was quite misshapened or blunt. I suspect either wear from making shoes OR a broken tip that was reshaped. In either case weight was lost. I have also seen old anvils that had been half buried in the ground for a century or so and a good 3/16" (5mm) was rusted off the base and sides.

However, you are correct that simple sway, which is deformation, does not change the weight of an anvil. But in some cases it IS a result of wear.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/06/08 11:24:09 EDT

Back in the 60's, I visited Pitt's Blacksmithing Service in downtown L.A., and Mr. Pitt showed us his first used anvil. He had dressed so many pavement breaker points on it that there was a triangular depression near the far anvil edge about 5/16" deep on the worker's side, and fading to about 1/16" near the anvil edge. He said he finally got power hammers to help do that work.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/06/08 13:08:50 EDT

Nip, I think you probably mean the material is flowing from the center of the face toward the edges. A solid is not compressable but it will flow cold under repeated pressure or impact. Blacksmiths count on the conservation of volume to do our forging. You know, forge it half as thick and it gets wider or longer in proportion. But it weighs the same as you noted.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/06/08 13:35:53 EDT

Guru, as Grant pointed out, a power hammer could create sufficient deformation to achieve measureable work hardening on soft dies. A very soft anvil and a big hammer might get something going on the anvil face to a much shallower depth. But not with my noodle arm. Work hardening is measured in terms of percent reduction. That means if you forge a 1" pancake to a 1/2" pancake, you have a 50% reduction. This would result in considerable work hardening due to crushing of the metal grains and disrution of the dislocation mobility. If you crush an anvil face by .005" of an inch, you don't get much reduction below the .005". As far as the anvil salesman, you must have been talking to Frankie8Acres again. Did he offer to throw in a bottle of snake oil with it?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/06/08 13:43:18 EDT

What steel are horseshoes likely to be made of?
   JLW - Sunday, 07/06/08 13:56:23 EDT

Thanks for the suggestion. In a roundabout way, it led me to the Northern Rockies Blacksmith Association, and a couple of email addresses, though they are at least a year old. Hopefully, they will lead somewhere!

I have the same concerns about ebay--shipping! And, selfishly, I'd like these things to stay in the area, and maybe get to see them up and running, as I don't recall that they had been used in my lifetime. However, I have considered going to a place that sells things for you on ebay--hopefully they'd know how to ship.

Is Dave Drum a blacksmith?
   Ellen McKinley - Sunday, 07/06/08 14:19:06 EDT

Merl, to get videos of multiple strikers, just contact Roger Degner at UMBA- I believe he lives in some faroff place called Wisconsin.
He has been making videos of blacksmiths for years now, documenting ABANA and other demos.
There are undoubtedly some DVD's in the UMBA library of those crazy russians at the La Crosse Abana conference, or of the Brit crew at Richmond, or the Germans, who have been over several times, as well as some homegrown american multiple striking teams. It is amazing to watch when they get going- trust in your teammate takes on a whole new meaning.


but I would email Roger, and ask him which DVD's have multiple strikers on them.
   - Ries - Sunday, 07/06/08 14:51:27 EDT


JLW, Horseshoes are manufactured of mild Steel, which nowadays is ASTM A36. The Diamond brand shoes of about 20 to 30 years ago were unpredictable. Some of them had high carbon ranges. Perhaps it was a quality control situation or else they were knowingly using something of rebar quality.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/06/08 15:36:15 EDT

SOFA has had demos on forging a traditional anvil, anchor making and welding up a pattern welded gun barrel; the more esoteric the demo the bigger the crowd in my memory.

OTOH for every guy who has been there since the group began there is probably a half dozen new people who would profit from watching the "beginners" demos.

Best way to get more interesting demos it to offer to do one; or ask a master in a field to do one from the club. Most clubs would love to have new demos and demonstrators!

Scale is an abrasive and will over time and use "polish" the face of an anvil. I have an HB that was finely pitted due to spending 50 years in a damp unheated location that I did not mill/grind/sand down but am letting use polish out the face for me.

Compression; well *generally* stuff is considered to be non-compressable however under special circumstances it may compress---how the "implosion" A-bombs work with sub critical masses. The compression brings up the density till it becomes critical for just the necessary extremely short length of time to get the chain reaction going that then blows up everything anyway.

Reduction is a tricky thing. If you have a 1" bar and pound it down to 1/2" you have 50% reduction. What happens if you have and anvil and only look at the top 64th of an inch rather the the complete face thickness. Could you get a substantial reduction in just that thin layer? I would think that the number of dislocations induced would include a factor for how far from the surface the force is action on.

Thomas, OFF for nw AR Tomorrow.
   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 07/06/08 15:58:01 EDT

Thomas, Uh, yup, that is what I have been trying to say for about a week now. Compression of an anvil face would be limited to a thin layer. Lay a 2000F piece of steel on that spot and it might just get hot enough to stress relieve it soft again. Hit and Miss to be sure. As for the compression of the uranium sphere in the A-bomb, well, I am not sure how that translates into the physical phenomena of blacksmithing.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/06/08 16:40:47 EDT

My latest creation... special request.. don't show kiddies.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 07/06/08 16:54:33 EDT

By the way, that is a handle for a fire torch. There will be a "matching" one for a set if you get what I mean.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 07/06/08 16:55:32 EDT

Horseshoes: I have a lot of pickups available, Spark testing suggested medium carbon. I read that in the old days, horseshoes and nails were prime materials for forging damascus shotgun barrels. I was thinking of making some twist for a blade. Probably needs some high carbon added to the mix for hardness.
   JLW - Sunday, 07/06/08 18:26:58 EDT

My question was could u give me precise instruction on lost wax casting i have tried and tried to find out how and even purchased books but nothing was specific
   Brady - Sunday, 07/06/08 19:54:30 EDT

I'm pretty sure that the "reduction" we're talking about is reduction in cross sectional area. Pounding a 1" bar to 1/2" would be 50% reduction only if the bar's 1/2" X 1" (not something wider) when you finish.

But I also have to believe that the correlation between reduction and work hardening only holds for a specific process (such as cold rolling). Bend a bar back and forth enough times and it gets hard, even though there's very little change in cross section.

It seems likely to me that (cold) hammering a bar to a given cross section would disturb the crystal structure more, and therefore cause more work hardening, than doing the same thing with a rolling mill. And I'd even expect that chasing dents around the face of a soft anvil long enough would work harden the face, even if the overall dimensions don't change much. But the hardening would only go as deep as the steel was disturbed by the dents (which is probably a little deeper than the dents themselves).
   Mike BR - Sunday, 07/06/08 20:23:27 EDT

Brady- If you have had little luck with books than a quick message here may not help much either. You need to give more details. I suggest you go back to the books, especially Tim McCreight's "The Complete Metalsmith" as a great starting point.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 07/06/08 20:48:29 EDT

somewhere on youtube there are old videos of strikers. In one video they forge weld a heavy 16' ring. I don't recall the names but I think they were promotional for a lens company.
   - Josh S - Sunday, 07/06/08 20:54:24 EDT

Ellen-- Dave Drum is (was? I hope not!) an entrepreneur, the guy who gave the world the campground chain, KOA. I mentioned him because he was in Billings when I met him years ago and he seemed to know everybody in creation. I thought as a savvy businessman he might have some helpful suggestions for a damsel in distress.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/06/08 21:02:59 EDT

Reis- Speaking of videos I forgot to add my voice to the thread a while back about Hossfelds and a good how to video. If you have any inclination I would strongly encourage such a project- at the least I would be first in line to buy one!

Horseshoes- The used ones I have forged worked very nicely- quite soft under the hammer not unlike high grade mild steel. They were modern mass produced shoes, Diamond or LaCroix or something similar.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 07/06/08 21:04:16 EDT

Merl: Search youtube using forging as a search term. I just looked at it a couple of days ago. The anchor forging was there too.
   JLW - Sunday, 07/06/08 22:07:56 EDT

Brady-- write to Shidoni Foundry in Tesuque, New Mexico at shidoni@shidoni.com and ask them to send you their one-page description of the lost wax casting process. It is brief but comprehensive and will tell you the basics. They cast tons of bronze sculpture week in and week out. Also, Lindsay Books, www.lindsaybks.com has some books on foundry work that might help.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/06/08 22:21:46 EDT

Lost Wax: Brady, There are bunches of books that cover the process in detail. For starters see our iForge demo on the subject.

Foundry work is a vast and complicated subject. One of the best books is C.W. Ammem's The Metalcaster's Bible. A more specific title is Casting Brass and there is also Metal Casting.

The basics of lost wax.

1) Make your original piece in wax. Any wax works but there are various grades that work better than others. For carving you want to use a hard machinable wax.

2) Add gates, sprue, risers and vents using more wax welded on using a hot knife. The design of the aforementioned is the high art of all foundry work and is why you need to study MANY books then practice, practice, practice.

3) Dip in a wetting solution (a detergent) and then pour plaster around the the part. The plaster should be filled with refractory and strentghing substances (sand, talc) and absorbant fill (wood flour). There are various recipes but you can also buy pre mixed plaster for the process.

4) Drying and burnout. This is the process that results in the most failures in this operation. The mold should dry well to start (several days in a dry vented location). Then is is heated in a furnace over a period of hours slowly reaching a temperature of about 1300°F. The wax should burn out and the mold become "calcined" (much of the bound water cooked out).

5) Pouring the metal. This is done while the mold is still hot, taken directly from the calcining furnace. The metal should be sufficiently hot, stirred, swarf skimmed off, then poured in a continuous stream into the sprue. How to melt the metal and handle it is a whole seperate subject.

Method No.2

1)An object (sculpture) is created in wax or clay.

2) A plaster shell is made around the object.

3) The clay or wax is removed from the mold. This usually destroys the original but it is possible to make a two or more piece mold and peal it off the clay with minor damage.

4) Hot wax is poured into the mold and the mold rolled as the wax cools to create a thin hollow shell that will be replaced by metal.

5) Sprue, risers and vents are attached as above.

6) Small brass studs are embedded in the wax to create supports between the inside and outside of the mold. They should stick above the wax so they stay embedded in the inner mold shell.

7) Plaster is poured into the mold and hollow shell and rolled again to create a hollow interior shell. The open end attaches to the exterior to make one mold.

8) The whole is dried then burned out. The thinner the shell the less calcining is needed but the more fragile the mold. Thickness is determined by overall size and can vary from 1/4" to several inches.

9) The hot shell is supported in dry sand.

10) While the shell is hot the metal is poured in one continuous stream.

THERE are more methods but these are the most common. The second was used in the Bronze age by the Greeks and others and as late as the 1300's in parts of Africa where there is little on no other evidence of the civilizations that made the castings. It is still used in art foundries and by individual artists.

When you study casting you want to study ALL types including clay ceramics and plastics. The methods used in these crafts are also used in the metal foundry to make molds, copies of patterns and production wax originals.

Note that while you can make most of your foundry equipment you should purchase crucibles and crucible tongs (unless you are a blacksmith). However, the most important is the safety equipment. Face shields, safety glasses, aprons, gloves, proper foot protection (boots and spats) and so on. Even "low temperature" melting metals can do serious damage if spilled.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/06/08 23:35:07 EDT

For Books, two of our advertisers carry most that you will need. Artisan Ideas and Centaur Forge. BlacksmithDepot also carried a few books but nothing on casting.

After that try BookFinder.com. All of C.W. Ammen's titles were available used this evening.

For a couple hundred dollars you could buy almost every book on casting plus a few on general metal work. It would be a cheap education compared to taking classes AND buying text books. You can also borrow these by ILL (ask your library if they do not have them).

See our book review page for the books by Untratcht and Hasluck. These two books cover a wide range of metal working including some on casting.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/06/08 23:45:47 EDT

Thanks Ries, I'll check that out. Wisconsin? I think I've heard of the place. Isn't that the land of two seasons?(winter and road construction season) Met another practicing blacksmith this weekend from Beaver Dam, I'll have to check him out too.
   - merl - Sunday, 07/06/08 23:50:23 EDT

Note, IF there are local classes or you find classes ANYWHERE on metal casting TAKE them. You can easily waste more money on fuel, mold materials and metal and NOT succeed.

My comment above about books refers to their value. Most of the books in our fields are relatively inexpensive compared to text books. You can buy four or five for what ONE almost useless textbook costs. Many are references you will refer to your whole life if you stick with metal working.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/06/08 23:52:58 EDT


For a pretty good description of the process of lost wax casting of large sculptures during the Renaissance times, read "Treatises on Goldsmithing and Sculpture" by Bienvenuto Cellini. For more modern lost wax casting techniques applicable to jewelry and modelmaking goals, read "Creative Casting" by Sharr Coate. These two books will give you the background information you need to ask more goal-oriented questions that I can answer with specific guidelines and far more detailed processes and techniques. Look at iForge Demo #137, a short but hopefully informative demo I prepared on lost wax casting.
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/06/08 23:57:05 EDT

I have a question on ethics and knifemaking. I have smithing part time since 1999 and selling my work to supplement my income. I am interested in knifemaking. The one thing holding me back is my fear that people may buy my knives to do harm. What advice would you give me?
   Dan - Monday, 07/07/08 00:49:24 EDT

Knives and ethics:
My opinion is that a well-crafted knife is a work of art. People collect them just to enjoy looking at them, showing them off, and using them for carving, hunting, skinning, whatever they were designed to do. Most of the stabbings seem to be with smaller folding knives that are easy to hide in a pocket. A bigger knife would be used in something like a crime of passion because it was available, just as a baseball bat or bowling trophy might.

Now if you're looking to make nice folding doomsday switchblades, that's a different problem.
   - Marc - Monday, 07/07/08 07:50:29 EDT

Blade Ethics: Dan, If the subject of someone using your work as a weapon bothers you then you better not make fireplace pokers either. . .

If you make knives of ANY type or size they COULD be used to do harm. The 9/11 hijackers used nothing more than utility knives with cheap 1" long blades. They could have used any type of knife or even broken glass for that matter. . . Imagine the kind of attention that would have been placed on a maker of custom blades if they had been used!

One of the most famous modern sword makers has had his blades used twice in murders. These were fine art collector's pieces that were probably normally kept in a glass case. I think one was used in a suicide of a close friend and the other to murder family members. Both cases put a lot of emotional strain on the sword maker.

As mark pointed out, if you make illegal weapons, or weapons that can be hidden (belt buckle knives, non-metalic blades) then you might actually be somewhat responsible for their use. But making a good utilitarian blade has been the job of tool makers since the stone age. Making high-art presentation pieces followed soon after.

On the other hand, some makers, such as those making commando knives are proud of the fact that their blades are used to kill. . .
   - guru - Monday, 07/07/08 08:55:31 EDT

Wax-- interesting (to me, anyway) footnote from my high school Latin class several centuries ago: the word sincere comes from two Latin words meaning without wax, hence genuine, the real McCoy, not a cast copy.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/07/08 11:19:26 EDT

Knives-- Federal statute absolutely, totally, prohibits making, selling, carrying, even owning a switchblade except certain cases, such as if you are a cop or one-armed. Spare me the usual zzzzzz re: how all the blade mags have ads for them and they are okay in Idaho and the 2nd Amendment says.... Oops, I dozed off there for a moment, sorry. It's Federal law. Unenforced, maybe, but the law nonetheless. P.s., if somebody kills or hurts somebody with something I make, it's on her conscience, not mine.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/07/08 11:24:56 EDT

Well, I make and sell items that can definitely do harm to the buyer. The stainless nails I make are a no-brainer (pun intended), they are up to the user, and my clients know how to do it without hurting themselves. Now the drill bits I make I send with a small disclaimer letting them know about possible wobble during use. Now I am doing fire torches, another liability hazard. How many axe murders occur in the world? Are the makers at fault? Do they get sued? If you make something and someone uses it to do harm, it's on their conscience, not yours... and if you do wish to accept your end of it, stop making things. Remember, ALL weapons fall into the category of the blacksmith... blame the smith for all the innocent people murdered during the crusades.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 07/07/08 12:00:52 EDT

I try to emulate the Tom Waits character in the movie Mystery Men, and make only non-lethal weapons, but drawing a taper is one of the most basic of blacksmithing techniques, and anything tapered can potentially stab you.
Its awfully tough, as a smith, not to make sharp things from time to time. I would say that the lure of making a sharp pointy thing is almost as elemental as the primordial urge to stand around a fire staring at the flames and consuming fermented liquids...
   - Ries - Monday, 07/07/08 12:15:46 EDT

Probably as many murders have been committed using the ordinary machete, which is a common farm tool in much of the world as with knives designed for the purpose of killing.

People from outside the areas where the machete is commonly carried often do not understand that a group holding them in the air is more likely to be demonstrating that they are united as farmers or farm laborers than to be doing violence.

In some countries the road sides are more likely to be cleared with a machete by hand then by machinery. In Brazil the majority of sugar cane is still cut by near slave labor by hand with a machete. It is what makes their alcohol fuel profitable. . .

But it is the shear number of machetes (like guns in some places) that make them a common murder weapon.
   - guru - Monday, 07/07/08 13:05:16 EDT

Just a few further comments on knives in the weapons vs. tools category. It's all a matter of perception. If you design something with lots of aggressive (if somewhat useless) spikes and saw-teeth, and name it something like "The Ultimate Aggressor Terminal Death-Basher dagger", and someone uses it in a crime; you're goose might possibly be cooked. By the same token, nobody brought suit against Colonial Williamsburg, despite the loss of one of my beloved relatives to a cast brass candlestick by person or persons still unknown. The knife magazines, and the knife-making industry, drive me crazy. They push the very legitimate point that the vast majority of knives are basic, utilitarian tools, and many are historic recreations, and some are wonderful works of art; and then on the next page someone advertises the UATD-B (above) in garish colors with a half nekked female (not that I'm objecting to that, mind you) brandishing it in a poor imitation of a Frank Frazetta poster. This is major foot shooting, but also an indication of what sells (the sizzle, more than the steak) or what people think will sell. The crescent shaped Alaskan Native Ulu is a pretty nonaggressive knife, more suitable to cutting mincemeat as much as walrus hide; but don't take it aboard the plane with you, or to school, or into a court house.

In England, where the government has a strict gun control policy, young folks are spending more and more time poking holes in each other with the usual variety of cheap knives. When they outlaw and take away the knives, I guess they'll go to bricks, and someone will sell them the Ultimate Aggressor Terminal Death-Basher Brick, and the whole thing will start all over!

“Tools are weapons, and weapons are tools; and all are dangerous in the hands of fools.” (Uncle Atli’s Very Thin Book of Wisdom)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/07/08 15:31:59 EDT

Uncle Atli's book is getting pretty thick. . .

   - guru - Monday, 07/07/08 16:12:10 EDT

there was a really hummid day last week and my anvil got a little rusty, i should probably oil it but what is the best choice for oil?
   PATRICK - Monday, 07/07/08 16:47:43 EDT

My history is a little rusty but I believe that when the English outlawed swords and other weapons in Scotland and/ or Ireland back in midevil times those groups of people made good use of the sheleighly (excuse my spelling). Where there is a will there is a way to hurt someone with just about anything that is at hand. Fire hardened spears were the standard for a long time before stone and metal were commonly worked materials. Why even the jaw bone of an ass was used in at least one recorded incident.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 07/07/08 17:27:03 EDT

On my retail fire pokers I intentionally leave the end somewhat blunt. If kids use them as a sword, at least the damage will be minimal.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 07/07/08 17:52:21 EDT

Patrick, almost any oil will work. However, automotive engine oils make toxic fumes when burned. If this worries you then use vegetable oil (same thing you fry with) OR mineral oil. Mineral oil is sold as "baby oil" and as "Stool softener".

I use WD-40 because it is easy to wipe off and I keep it for many other uses.
   - guru - Monday, 07/07/08 17:54:14 EDT

Unusual Weapons The Japanese went through the same thing (banishing edged weapons) so the heavy walled bamboo flute made from the root of the bamboo became common.
   - guru - Monday, 07/07/08 17:58:31 EDT

NEVER, ever, put mineral oil on your stool! There is absolutely nothing more dangerous in a shop than a soft, limp stool. The very thought makes me blanch.

Speaking of stools, I discovered last week that there is nowhere on this island that sells a good, old-fashioned wooden stool. Egads, what is my world coming to?
   vicopper - Monday, 07/07/08 19:54:08 EDT

Sounds like a business opportunity. On the other hand, its getting so that you cannot find many good old fashioned things. . .
   - guru - Monday, 07/07/08 20:28:41 EDT

On the subject of knives that cater to people on the wrong side of the tracks in my opinion,(or people that fantasize about being there). What do you guys think about those new folding and spring loaded knives with bogus looking claims and are painted matte black for some reason?

For example microtech knives, from what I'm seeing mostly insecure teens and twentysomething guys buy this brand of knife for god knows what.

Some clips that I scrounged from youtube.
   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 07/07/08 20:55:28 EDT

Are there any hardwood trees from which to make stools on your Island? If there are will they let you cut them down or are they habitat for some rare endangered bird or animal?

I'll take five and a half feet of good iron shod hickory over a knife any day. I'm past my twenties now.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 07/07/08 21:18:58 EDT

I dunnon about anyone else, Nabiul, but I have carried a Microtech knife every day for the past several years and find it to be a wonderful little knife. I'm certainly not twenty-something, or even forty-someting, (barely still fifty-something, sadly), and I'm not particularly insecure either. Yes, mine is an automatic knife with the matte black finish (appropriate when I was an active-duty police officer).

I really think the over-$100 price tag and relatively short blade length (2-1/8") would be unappealing to the run-of-the-mill hoodlum, as well. It's really just a very convenient pocket knife for general utility and has very low testosterone-enhancement or intimidation value. Very high quality steel, precision craftsmanship and good ergonomics. Suits me and I'll continue to carry it for many more years, I'm sure.
   vicopper - Monday, 07/07/08 22:02:16 EDT


Oh, I have access to any number of thousands of board feet of mahogany, saman, lignum vitae and other hardwoods I can't name. I'm just too lazy to make a stool I can buy for ten or twenty bucks. I actually have a couple stools, but they're heavy steel drafting stools that are a nuisance to kick aside when they're in my way, hence the desire for cheap wooden ones in the shop. I'll find a couple one of these days, I'm sure.
   vicopper - Monday, 07/07/08 22:05:30 EDT

Hmmm; last time I was in the VI (BVI, anyways) staying on a stool, at least in the bars, seemed to be a problem. Maybe they've eliminated the problem of drinkers falling off of stools in bars by eliminating the stools. Makes as much sense as some of the other schemes I've heard for human betterment (whether we need it or not). ;-)

Finishes & Styles of Knife Blades: Some are practical for certain operations, some just look "cool" and therefore fit into the realm of "fashion." Never underestimate fashion when it comes to supply and demand. In some circles, knives were, and still are, fashion accessories, a form of male jewelry to project your self image to others. In most contexts, however, they're just tools and just because it's fashionable does not rule out utilitarian uses. I will note that unless you brought it back from Iraq, or a serviceman gave it to you as a gift, a "Desert Storm" knife with desert camouflage sure sticks out in an Eastern Woodlands hunting trip. A plain old Parkerized K-Bar with a brown or OD sheath does for me when I'm hacking about backwoods (rarely) for the Park Service.

The styles and implications of knives is a complex subject, and demands more thought than I can spare right now. Maybe we should adjourn it to the Hammer-In.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/07/08 22:36:01 EDT

I have an antique "Modern Power Hammer" made in Grinnell, Iowa. I am hoping you will be able to help me locate any information and/or parts for this type of trip hammer. It has been sitting idle on our farm for approximately 60 years and I would like to restore it for my personal use.

Any assistance would be appreciated.

Bob White
   Bob White - Monday, 07/07/08 22:45:19 EDT

I do still have a nice stag antler Robi-Klass spring loaded knife I picked up in Germany where they are still legal or at least were. It was great since I'm usually holding onto the other end of what ever I need to cut but the concealed weapon charge it might land me has left it stored in the special tools locker for a decade now. Nice wood collection by the way. Those lignum vitae mallets they use for wood carving bring a pretty penny.Sounds like you've got the goods for a nice mixed back up business if smithing slows down. I knew a guy who worked in a machine shop where when the machining tapered off the owner moved them over to his furniture refinishing business next door. Flexibility is always useful when working for yourself.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 07/07/08 22:57:43 EDT

On the knives I said mostly ;), based on the videos I've seen so far.

The thing about the insecurity is that most of the knives have easy concealability, and one being small enough to look like a cell phone on a lanyard. If any one decides to use them for malice, it would only take a second to use and then reholster.

   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 07/07/08 23:03:15 EDT

Like I've always said,

"When you outlaw arms, only criminals will have hands!"

Good discussion on work hardening anvils.

   blackbart - Monday, 07/07/08 23:29:41 EDT

Modern Power Hammer: Bob, this was one of the less than successful hammer makers. If you need parts you will need to make them yourself or have someone else make them starting from making the drawings (reverse engineering). This is why you have to LOVE old machinery if you want to run it an use it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/08/08 00:06:15 EDT

Nabuil, I have carried a nice little legal Buck knife for 20 years. They open just as easily one handed (with a flick of the thumb) as the automatic knives. The trick is a smooth mechanism and low spring load. I've had four of the same model and they all worked exactly the same.

If you think a cop is going to mistake that cute little knife with its logo for a phone you might think about it for many years in a jail cell.

I was given a very nice little automatic knife the same size as my Buck and after researching the laws I got rid of it. In Virginia I could legally carry it (open carry) because of its short length. But if I forgot and stuck it in a pocket where I've been carrying a knife since I was 10 years old then it would be a felony. If I carried it out of the state into North Carolina then it was illegal for ANYONE including the military or cops to carry.

I've never done anything in my adult life that I was worried about getting arrested for but sh*t happens and sometimes you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Carrying an illegal hidden weapon could escalate the trouble from a simple mistake to a much more serious level.

Most of the violent crime in the local area is gang related. It almost all involves guns. I don't carry a gun, and I am certainly not going to carry a knife to a gun fight just to make myself the target. My little Buck knife is a tool, that is all.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/08/08 00:27:32 EDT

A couple of weeks back Linna annd I went to parliament to see a man who has helped us with the earthquake appeal. LInna had forgotten she had a tiny lock knife in her bag. She was stopped, the knife taken from her and a search done into her criminal past- which showed nothing. Now when I bought the knife it was legal but now a lock knife of any size is illegal in UK. So another point is that laws change and ignorance of the law is no defence.

She got the knife back when we left but she COULD have been arrested and then would have a record of trying to enter a restricted area with a weapon and illegal possession of a locking blade knife.
   - philip in china - Tuesday, 07/08/08 06:15:03 EDT

So my little Buck pocket knife that is perfectly legal just about anywhere in the US except as carry-on in a plane is an illegal "weapon" in the UK because it is a locking knife.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/08/08 08:17:30 EDT

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