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 16 - 21, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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Can anyone assist I have just started metalwork and have purchased a Mk2/3 scroll former but am having difficulty in working out the scroll sizes to fit a certain area also the length of metal to make certain size scrolls. I am a complete novice any replys in plain language please.
   Tom Harris - Wednesday, 07/16/08 02:21:59 EDT

Merl, most polishing compounds are mixed with a little oil or wax, applied to a rag and rubbed. Hard wax makes sticks that can be applied to buffing wheels, soft wax like beeswax makes a soft rubbing compound, oil can make a soft compound OR if used in small quantities a paste.

Any substance harder than another can be used for polishing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/16/08 02:26:29 EDT

Clinkers: John, all coal forms some clinkers. About 10% by volume is good. 50% by volume is bad and 75% is horrible. . . The best way to know is to buy some good coal of a known quality, forge with it and then you have something to compare to.

Now, GOOD coal cokes. That is melts together and the volatiles gas or burn out leaving a large torus mass. This is high quality fuel that still burns but the large mass needs to be broken up. In a badly designed forge the bulk of the coal cokes at once rather than a little at a time and makes it difficult to feed the fire or stick work into it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/16/08 02:32:49 EDT

mk2/3 scroll Former: Tom, That is odd ball jargon to me. . . What the heck are you talking about?

Generally a scroll "form" makes only one size scroll. If you want other sizes you need other forms. It is much better to make your own unless you are dealing with a powered machine then you most often need to go to the manufacturer.

Most methods of determining needed length are estimates only (wire, flexible rule). The best method is to take a piece longer than you need, form the end (forge it) then bend it, cut off the extra and subtract THAT from the original length. If you have a double end scroll with or without a straight section make the two ends separately, cut to fit, subtract the drops and add the two remaining pieces. The results will be perfect and you only wasted a foot or so of material. Make notes and keep them.

For custom scroll benders see our 21st Century page article on Benders
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/16/08 03:01:16 EDT

hey guys .. jus have another query ... well we sent our forged material to one of our customers(new) .. and he got our material checked for its specs.. he then told us tht all sizes below 200 are 100% OK. but size of 200mm has 5% SLAG and size 210 has 10% SLAG .. he said tht 5% SLAG was acceptable but not more than tht(he got it ultrasound checked).. ! wht is this SLAG he is referring too ... is it another term for centre looseness..?? we forge mainly D3 grade of steel. our reduction is about 2:1.. thanx in advance u guys ..!
   Abhay - Wednesday, 07/16/08 04:07:31 EDT

Abhay, Patrick Nowack is the right man to answer this but I have not seen him here in a while. Generally, slag is the fused mineral cover on the top of liquid metal that keeps the oxygen from getting to the metal. When you pour it, some slag may be entrained in the liquid metal and get frozen into the steel. Or, the inspector may be referring to oxides and aluminate inclusions in the steel. This is not slag, per se. Getting rid of slag is best done by leaving more in the ladle to put back into the furnace after the pour.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 07/16/08 09:02:33 EDT

Once you make a test piece for a form get a paint pen and write how much it took on the piece and hang it on the wall of the shop as an easy reference for the future. It's especially handy if a job may have interruptions---like doing 20' of railing a year for 5 years. lets you "match" the old and the new without having to refer to the stuff in place at the customer's.

Patrick's around; I caught him asking about a powerhammer on another forum yesterday... Guess with all the water he's dealing with he wants to try soil liquification as a means of sinking a large hammer foundation...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/16/08 11:04:09 EDT

A MK 2/3 is a little tabletop scroll bender made by wrought iron handicrafts.
It makes one size of scroll. You cut off what you dont want to make it smaller.
As the guru said, trial and error is the only way to figure this out- not only is there no industry wide standard, each different material type and shape, and sometimes each different mill run, will bend slightly differently.

So what you have to do is bend a few scrolls, and see how much material it takes you, in different sizes.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 07/16/08 14:09:41 EDT

Hi all- I'm still here. We haven't floated away, though we have had standing water in basement for going on 5 weeks. It is mostly a nusance and not causing any real problems, but I am looking forward to getting things dried out.

Abhay- I have seen some of your other postings and been quite interested, but I have to be somewhat careful about how I answer these questions since I too work at a forging company making large bars, so there are some potential conflits of intrest I have to be careful to avoid.

Your description of so much % Slag is not one I am familiar with. What I ASSUME is that the inspector is refering to are measure of ultrasonic severity. Typically there are two components to this. First there is the intesity of the indication, usually described as a percentage of some reference size, for example 1/8" diameter flat bottom hole. The second part is the amout of loss of back reflection. For example, an ultrasonic defect would normally be described as 30% of referece with 50% loss of back reflection. Without cutting up the product, and doing opitcal or scanning electron microscopoy you won't be able to verify if you have actual steel making inclusions or voids. Based on some of you earlier questions, I would not be surprised if what you have are voids. If that is the case, you will have to review your forge practices to eliminate this defect.

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 07/16/08 14:36:54 EDT

Steel variations can be HUGE. I bought good top quality rounded edge hot roll 3/16 x 2" and made test bends, bender gauges and a whole set of fixtures for some industrial bending. I also made the prototype parts for the customer. When I bought material for the production run I was delivered bar sheared from plate with rolled edges. Very work hardened, bad edges to bend (cracked). Spring back was far too much. I had to return the whole load. The steel people were not happy. I was not happy. Took a couple weeks to get the right material.

   - guru - Wednesday, 07/16/08 14:37:52 EDT

The swage block patterns would be no problem for a foundry i know of here in louisiana. You can leave a pettern and they will make it that week, but is a swage block steel or iron. They will make 1 or 100 at a fair price.

   Matt Tessier - Wednesday, 07/16/08 18:31:19 EDT

I have a pretty old hydraulic press that I picked up from a foundry.

When I got the press, it had a U cup seal in it that no longer worked, so I replaced it with a similar sized custom fabric U cup seal that worked, with some unpredicatable leaking, for a couple of years.

The press came with a 2,500 lbs. pump and I generally ran the press to a max of 1,500 lbs. (60 tons).

Finally my replacement seal would no longer worked, so I order two more fabric seals, from a different maker, with the same specs.

These seals will not work.

The press:

The ram is 9.986" O.D. The ram is an uplift and has a heavy 42" O.D. cast iron table that fits on top of it.

The cylinder is 10.017" I.D. and is cast into a large bracket that holds it into a large, riveted, channel iron frame.

Machined into the cylinder approximately 12" down from the top of the opening, is a groove for the seal. The groove has a vertical opening of 1.115 inches and at the bottom of the groove it is recessed into the wall almost exactly 1". But, here is the odd part: the top of the groove is actually radiused about 1/2", so that the inside height of the groove is approximately 1 1/4".

The U cups that I did get to work were both eaten up on the top, inside edge from the point in the groove where the radius comes around and meets the cylinder wall, so I do not believe that a U cup is correct, or it needs some kind of half round shim in the top.

Can anyone point me in the right direction for a proper packing for this press that will work? Also, does anyone know why they would machine such a strange groove for a seal?

The press was manufactured by: Southwark Foundry and Machine Co. - Builders, Philadelphia, Penn.

Thanks, John
   John P. - Wednesday, 07/16/08 19:45:20 EDT

John P
I have seen several of the older presses with leather cup seals that had a back up ring. The back up ring was a stiffer leather and ate the tolerences so the cup would not invert
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/16/08 19:59:21 EDT

I recently gained possesion of a 40 pound Fisher anvil. On the back foot it has 3 dates. 2 of them have month, day, and year (May 18,86 and June 28 1887). The other date is just the year 1889. Is this third date the year this anvil was made.
   Art Shanholtz - Wednesday, 07/16/08 21:56:27 EDT

Swage Blocks: Matt, old blocks are grey iron, the better modern blocks are ductile (AKA nodular) iron.

Often getting them cast is not the problem, it is getting a good finish and a foundry that will cast relatively small through holes (cores). Swage blocks are also a special case in that they are a big thick block. Many foundries can cast a 100 pound casting if none of it is over an inch thick but try to cast a 4 inch (100mm) thick block and the rules change. Sand must be coarser, molds weighted better, risers larger. . . The coarse sand is required to support the heavy casting and have enough porosity for steam to escape. This results in a rough casting. To get smoothness the mold must be coated with a wash. In the old days they used a thing layer of fine finishing sand. The problem is that this gets mixed with your coarser casting sand and the life of the sand is shortened. . foundries generally refuse to use finishing sand.

My problem is that my experience is having gotten good castings and REALLY bad castings. . . I need someplace I could work with fairly close. Paying to have something as heavy as an anvil or block shipped half way across the country and then having to reject it is not in my budget.

I'm going to try sending out photos of the pattern and a specification and seeing if I can develop a working relationship with someone.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 00:44:03 EDT

Odd Seal Seat: After drawing this I wondered if the seat was for a Bellville spring that tensioned the U-cup down (toward the lip) and the radius was clearance for deflection beyond flat. . . OR a feature to make the ring installable.

I also wondered if that radius was for the installation ease of the seal. . . Need a clear drawing and research.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 00:55:08 EDT

Art Shanholtz: The first two are patent dates. 1889 would have been the year the pattern/mold was made, but should be within a couple years of manufactured year, depending on how long they used that particular pattern.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 07/17/08 00:56:09 EDT

I obtained a large hydraulic cylinder with the intention of making a hydraulic H-frame press per the Batson design. Is there anyone who has a working strength of materials knowledge that could check my calculation as I work up the frame design using locally available steel section drops? If so, please send me a PM to woodewe@earthlink.net.
Thanks in advance...
   Bob Johnson - Thursday, 07/17/08 01:59:25 EDT

thank u patrick nowak & quenchcrack .. for ur replies to my query.. well patrick about the presence of voids the material is also ultra sound checked at our plant(basically checked for voids, cracks and piping).. if it is found ok then only the material is dispatched.
what i thought what he meant was centre looseness - that is the material(that is material having a bigger diameter >180) whn forged is forged more at the outer half then the centre.. that is the centre area of the cylinder does not get as reduced as compared to the outer surface. hence can cuase failure whn material is used where load is applied at the centre. tht is wht thought .. but i didnt understand y they said SLAG. and i would defiantely get the material cut up and have it scanned on an electron microscope .. ill definately let u knw patrick..
quenchcrack ..i couldnt understand the line " Getting rid of slag is best done by leaving more in the ladle to put back into the furnace after the pour."
but as u said tht it could be because of the presence of aluminates or oxides etc.. they should also occur in the material having a small dia tht is 60mm-180mm .. but tht material had 0% SLAG content.!
thanx again guys.!
   Abhay - Thursday, 07/17/08 04:07:11 EDT

Dare I suggest send the plans and photos of the swage block to me and I will see if I can get some quotes for you.
   philip in china - Thursday, 07/17/08 05:40:59 EDT

Abhay, many inspectors do not fully understand the nature of the defect they are trying to describe. If there really is entrained slag in the material, the only way to control it is to stop pouring before the slag gets close enough to the ladle spout or pouring gate to slip through with the iron. However, I believe he might be describing ingotism in the center of the bar and this is the result of a low reduction ratio from forging to only 2:1. When I was in the business of making Oil Field Drilling tools from forged bar stock (up to 12") we specified a minimum of 3:1 and really wanted 6:1 whenever possible.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 07/17/08 08:14:35 EDT

Art Shanholtz,
Quoting from "Anvils in America," 'Foundry marks were not consistent...and can be found on various parts of Fisher anvils.' I couldn't find a Fisher that had three dates, as yours does. One pictured anvil showed a patent date from 1877. Some Fishers were absent the Eagle trademark. Sorry I can't be of more help.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/17/08 09:45:38 EDT

Materials Strength: Bob, I can give you a rule of thumb or two and a copy of a program I wrote that will give you simple deflection (pinned joints) and stress.

Note that determining your design and then modeling the forces (directions of the vectors and how much they are) is the difficult part. Once that is achieved remember that you design for maximum or stall power of a system NOT the normal operating condition.

Rule #1, In shop design (not critically engineered) you should never load a part over 10,000 PSI. So bolts, pins welds, keys and such need their area in shear calculated and the stress determined. Through high strength bolts with matching nuts may be rated at double this or more. Structurals should also be limited to 10,000 PSI.

Rule #2 Deflection is more of a problem than stress in many designs. On floors and crane beams deflection should be limited to 1/4" at the center. On press frames it should be much less. Deflection means springiness and stored energy that can result in flying parts if something slips or fails. Look at your force model closely.

NOTE #1: Fixed or welded joints are much higher stress than pinned or joints that are free to move. That is why bridges set on bearing blocks that can rotate and old trusses had single pins in all the tension member joints. It is much simpler to engineer and stresses are less.

NOTE #2: Double column press frames deflect OUT at the points of applied force and IN on the parallel tension members (columns).

NOTE #3: Cylinders next to a beam are similar to open C frames in that the deflection tries to open the C or bend the vertical frame to belly out. The force model can be approximated with simple lever analysis. That same deflection of the beam is also sideways force on the cylinder (trying to force work sideways OUT of the frame).

Mass2 DOS 2.0 beta

The structurals section of the above program has the 1983 AISC database. This is good for most available steel sections. The only cases calculated are pin ended or simple support with center point and equally distributed loading. Once your length and load is entered you may scroll up and down through the data table and the stress and deflection is shown.

Note that this is an old DOS program written when Windows 3.1 was coming of age. The program did not work well in Win 3.1 but works great in Win98, Win2000 and XP except for buggy mouse support. It was written to be a commercial program but was not completed due to the failure to run in Win 3.1 and the necessity to rewrite it completely. To install just unzip in a folder named MASS2. There is an icon to use with a shortcut but you will need to set it up manually. There are a few incomplete sections.

The note above and the incomplete help in the program is all the support you will get since I am giving it away. See our on-line version Mass3j for historical notes. It was a very handy program that does all kinds of things. I still use it daily. But then, it was my baby.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 10:01:38 EDT

Guru, if you could send me pics, ill see what i can do because they put out really really good castings and dont have alot of bad ones. If you need cores, thats not a problem at all.
   Matt Tessier - Thursday, 07/17/08 10:08:50 EDT

thanx quenchcrack .. for ur reply ... i guess i was thinking the same thing ..
   Abhay - Thursday, 07/17/08 11:18:34 EDT

Ingotism, Inclusions: What is interesting about this question/discussion is that it highlights the difference between a cast steel anvil and a forged steel anvil. The folks that cast them like to claim that castings are equal to forgings but the materials industry clearly defines the difference between a cast billet and a rolled or forged billet, the later being superior and worth the added expense.

That makes Peddinghaus still the best current anvil and Hay-Budden and a few others the best no longer in production.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 11:25:55 EDT

I'v allways wanted to be a blacksmith,but i wonder if now days a blacksmith is still nedded.
Can a blacksmith make a living in this modern era?
If so me being new to this, would it be wise to even try to get into this art?
Are there any blacksmiths in Oregan ?
   Dan M. - Thursday, 07/17/08 12:12:20 EDT

Dan, Yes, Yes, Maybe and Yes.

Blacksmithing is done today primarily as an art. The profitable work is in custom architectural ironwork, similar hardware, sculpture and furniture. Bladesmiths also can make a living but it is a VERY competitive field.

This class of blacksmith is known as an "artist blacksmith". Many getting into the trade forget the "art" and "artist" part of this as they are attracted to the romance and self reliance. But the ART is very important. You need to have a sense of design, balance and proportion, able to draw and produce plans.

Blacksmiths are also primarily self employed entrepreneurs. This means they have to be good at business and self promotion OR be just another starving artist. It takes a special kind of person and you have to love the work.

When you get into blacksmithing you will find that there are a LOT of blacksmiths and that you have quite a bit of competition as well as support. Try ABANA-Chapter.com for a group near you.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 12:34:54 EDT

Guru, perhaps the difference between a casting and a forging should be established in the intended use. Any part that undergoes high stress, cyclic stress, etc. should probably be a forging. For things like anvils, I am not sure any of us can apply enough force (within the limits of hammer size for a given anvil size) to seriously harm either a casting or a forging. I am not yet conviced that a cast steel anvil, properly made and hardended, would perform any less admirably than a similar forged anvil. I have seen Peddinghaus anvils with the horn forged on at an angle, too. Not a pretty site.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 07/17/08 12:39:53 EDT

Thanks Guru, I'll work with your suggestions and the program.
   Bob Johnson - Thursday, 07/17/08 12:41:30 EDT

So for some reason I decided to go buy an anvil before I found this site, after which I promptly discovered that the anvil I purchased from Harbor Freight for $15.00@55# was:
#1)too small,
#2)merely an ASO and not even an anvil! (Rebound testing leaves a mark on the face! 1# Ball Peen Hammer held by the end of handle @45degrees to ASO and dropped. Rebounds aprox 1-2" and makes about the same sound as hitting my concreet floor!)
#3 a bent and hammered "flat" lawnmower blade makes a better rebound/striking surface than this thing!

Now the question I have is this; Can I "fix" this thing well enough to use until I can find a larger real anvil or can get one made from scrap?

My current thoughts are to find a scrap of tool steel that will cover the face and is about 1" or more thick and just weld it on this thing. I would think the chances of this ASO taking a good heat treatment even if I heated the entire thing to nonmagnetic and quenched are almost -0- but perhaps a new THICK face on it would be "Good enough" to learn on?

Thoughts? Cautions? Questions?
... My first clue should have been the CHINA forge mark that covers the both sides of the ASO.

   NateDJ - Thursday, 07/17/08 14:27:57 EDT

Cast iron will not heat treat by "heating the entire thing to nonmagnetic and quenching". It's *NOT* a carbon steel.

Welding steel to cast iron is not an easy thing to do, especially if it will be cyclically loaded.

Use it and abuse it till you can find a better one. Work hot and get good hammer control.

You will really like the good anvils after starting with that ASO!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/17/08 15:49:33 EDT

Replacing an ASO: Nate, Sorry, no fixes available. At least you are only out $15. Normally these things sell for $1/lb. which is CHEAP for a casting IF that is what you wanted.

Cast iron is difficult to impossible to weld and does not improve with heat treatment.

The best thing to do if you want a decent anvil is to be patient and search for a good used old anvil. The worst beat up old anvil is usually better than a new ASO. The exception is that they also made ASO's way back when. However, most of these did not survive. The majority of old anvils are pretty good.

To find old anvils it is best to tell everyone you know including every relative you didn't know you had that you are looking for one because you want to get into blacksmithing. This often results in a FREE anvil. The next best thing is to ask everyone you meet if they know of any blacksmithing tools for sale. Do not just ask about anvils. Even if you need one more than a forge you can sell or trade almost all blacksmith's tools for something else.

Flea markets are also possibilities. You need to be there EARLY. Dawn on opening day. You will find there are a couple dealers that are likely suspects for your type stuff. Check them first every time you go.

The next way is to be more proactive and search as antique shops. Not the fancy high dollar kind but the roadside type with old wagon wheels and lots of iron everything piled in the yard. Also on this list are country hardware stores and farm suppliers. ASK the oldest folks you find in the place and follow their leads. Follow up is essential to be a successful "finder". That and a willingness to initiate a conversation with a stranger and then LISTEN to their long sad tales. . . often they will conclude with, "Ya knowww, I thiiink old Clem over at four corners has an old anvil he ain't usin'. Frank, you know Clem, tell the boy how to find em'. . . If you don't WAIT until the end of the story you won't get the gold.

Farm sales and estate auctions are a possibility but are very low on the list. I went to dozens, maybe 100 and saw three anvils in all the years I was going. . and bought two.

Better yet is to go to local blacksmithing meets. There is almost always someone there tailgating a bunch of stuff and anvils can be found. It is worth traveling to the big SOFA meet in late September. There are hundreds of tailgaters and thousands of tools. I bought a nice 120 pound Mousehole anvil last time I went for $125 and a nice blow horn stake for $90 the year before. I always buy SOMETHING to make the trip worth while.

Often at meets and flea markets you need to opportunistic and decisive. Twice I've bought good items cheap when a bunch of guys were standing around trying to make up their minds. One was a perfect leg vise at a flea market. The handle and leg was bent but otherwise it appeared in good condition. A bunch of guys were trying to decide what to do with the bent parts. I had to run to bank and get $50. . when I got back they were STILL looking at the bent parts. I handed they guy $75 and said THANK YOU! It took 30 seconds to straighten the soft wrought iron parts on a concrete floor with a hammer. . . The other item was that nice little Mousehole anvil mentioned above. It was not perfect but the price was right. A bunch of guys were trying to decide what to do with the little 1" section missing from the edge when I bought it. I DID however ask the guy if he was SURE the price was what he wanted. He said he was selling it for a friend who HE had told it was worth twice as much but the friend said sell it for $125.

Its a great little anvil, I have been teaching Sheri's 18 year old grand daughter forging on it. She is short (5 feet) and the anvil is just right on the shortest stand I have.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 15:52:34 EDT

Ok, well it was worth asking about. Think I may take my oldest boy and hit up the flea markets this weekend then. Thanks for the help!
   NateDJ - Thursday, 07/17/08 16:00:39 EDT

i have a question about propane for my forge. i have a cylinder of LP. one of the large cylinders, 100 lbs i believe. what kind of pressures are in this tank and how can i safely use it in my forge? I know i need a regulator obviously but how high are the pressures. it hasthe internal reverse thread like an acetylene tank. what do i need to safely run this propane? thanks!
   armymechanic78 - Thursday, 07/17/08 16:03:23 EDT

one more question....i am making an anvil and hve read all the articles...i am piecing it together with heavy pieces and am now looking for a face for it...i have come on a piece of o-1 toolsteel that is 1" thick and 4" wide. will this make a suitable face? if so, what should i draw the temper at to make it useable....thanks so much
   armymechanic78 - Thursday, 07/17/08 16:58:03 EDT

Propane, in General:

Propane is a heavy gas that is cooled and remains liquefied at about 240 PSI. So this is the normal tank pressure (due to evaporation/boiling at room temperature).

Being a heavy, I call it a viscous gas, it collects in low places on floors, in basements, wells and such. Because of this it is considered more of a fire hazard than thin light gases like acetylene and methane. Many localities and insurance policies regulate where you can keep propane cylinders. Generally they must be outside and 20 feet from sources of ignition. Check your local laws, zoning, regulations. Asking the fire marshal is a good source of information.

If you keep cylinders in your shop, turn them OFF when not in use.

For gas appliances the pressure is VERY low, a couple PSI tops. For forges it varies from 4 to 25 PSI with the average (10-12PSI) being a common operating pressure. You need a regulator with a gauge. I like them to be rated 0-50 or 60 PSI. This hardware is available from a welding supplier.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 17:59:15 EDT

Anvil Top: O1 is a very good, expensive tool steel. Normally it is sold annealed (soft) and ground. To arc weld it you should use special high manganeses rods designed for tool steel and preheat both pieces to about 350F prior to welding. Peen and clean between passes.

To harden a plate once it is on the anvil either flame hardening or induction hardening is used. In both case the surface of the steel is heated to a low red and let cool. Normally a heavy piece like an anvil will self quench. It takes a large fan flame or wide heating element that is slowly moved from one end of the plate to the other. This should harden the surface about 1/4" deep. Tempering is usually not required when hardening this way but it would not hurt to bring it to 400F similar as you did for the weld preheat.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 18:10:41 EDT

Guru, is O1 really expensive compared to the A, S or D series tool steels? Or did you mean to say inexpensive?
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/18/08 10:54:40 EDT

Compared to W series and to medium carbon steel like 4140.
   - guru - Friday, 07/18/08 11:45:04 EDT


I've been smithing for about ten years or so, oddly enough I recently discovered (on accident) bluing or heat coloring the steel, the problem is that is was an accident and I'd love to know if there is a technique of formula for "heat coloring" steel, preferably "blue/purple". Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
   Matt - Friday, 07/18/08 13:14:34 EDT


I've been smithing for about ten years or so, oddly enough I recently discovered (on accident) bluing or heat coloring the steel, the problem is that is was an accident and I'd love to know if there is a technique of formula for "heat coloring" steel, preferably "blue/purple". Any advice would be great appreciated. Thanks.
   Matt - Friday, 07/18/08 13:15:10 EDT

Sorry for the double post.
   Matt - Friday, 07/18/08 13:15:58 EDT

Matt, clean and polish the surface, heat in an oxidizeing flame to 450F-650F. Quench immediately upon reaching the color you want. This is a very delicate color and will easily wear off. If you need to preserve it, us clear lacquer on it.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/18/08 13:43:59 EDT

Also, see the temper color chart on this site for the temperature for other colors.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/18/08 13:44:42 EDT

See also Color Case Hardening under "Case Hardening". This process can be performed without the case hardening.
   - guru - Friday, 07/18/08 13:52:45 EDT

Very nice, thanks for great advice.

   Matt - Friday, 07/18/08 14:00:02 EDT

Hey y'all. I got a man that wants me to make BBQ smokers from a bunch of large propane tanks. Really big suckers, some of them. I would welcome all replies about how this is foolhardy and dont try it at home and also replies from people that have actualy welded and cut on former propane tanks and survived the event.
My plan right now is to set them on old cross ties and build a cross tie scrap fire and burn the hell out of them. I figure if I get them hot enough to burn the aluminum paint off the outside it should be hot enough to release any contamination from the metal. Comments?
I may fill them with water before cutting them with an abrasive wheel, too, these things got me really hainty. In fact I wouldnt even fool with it execpt the payments on my vehicle and life insurance are due.
Any advise welcomed, thanks in advance, Dutch
   - Txfarrier - Friday, 07/18/08 14:26:45 EDT

Colouring: if you have a clean kitchen oven you can use it for colouring. Remember that most ovens have bad thermostats and you will need to put in an oven thermometer to see what temp you rally have.

However the higher temps are a bit much for an oven and you have to go with a furnace or a torch.

   Thomas P - Friday, 07/18/08 15:18:00 EDT

Frank: I've seen some older Fishers with the patent date on the bottom also.

If I'm not mistaking one of those patent dates helped solve a mystery. On page 198 of Anvils in America Postman notes finding an advertisement for Eagle and Star anvils after he was pretty certain the American Anvil Factory (Trenton, NJ) (American Star brand) had gone out of business. He thought it was possible Fisher bought them out and continued the line.

A fair number of anvils have shown up on eBay with a six-pointed star. On one of them the patent date exactly matched one of Fisher's. Ad for the Eagle and Star then made sense if Fisher put out this anvil intended for the low-end of the market and didn't want it associated with the Fisher name.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/18/08 15:20:27 EDT

Propane Tank Welding: Tex, One of members used to work for a gas company in Canada and weld on "live" gas pipes. . . But he explained that there was on oxygen IN the pipe and as long as he didn't make a BIGGER hole. . . Still, he was relieved to retire from that job.

That said, here is the problem on any hollow vessel, its not the OLD contents that explode, its the unburned mixture of oxygen and acetylene that that is injected into the tank while cutting it that builds up and explodes.

So ventilation of the hollow vessel OR filling it with water is the way to go if cutting with a torch. Note that plasma torches do not have this problem.

Propane tanks often have a nasty sludge left in them when drained and opened. It should be treated as hazardous waste of some sort.

They torch up big old underground gasoline and other fuel tanks. I do not know the procedure but I would suspect that they unbolt a man way and ventilate with a blower until there are no fumes. I would continue to ventilate while cutting with a torch.

Cutting with an abrasive cutoff, or a saw is not a bad idea.
   - guru - Friday, 07/18/08 16:12:30 EDT

Welding on enclosed spaces with possible flammable vapors.
I know a very experienced tank repair man who would dump a large hunk of dry ice into a tank and wait for the fog to come out the vents to show he had displaced the oxygen. No oxygen and no fire/explosion in flammable hydrocarbons.

A little safety guy talk;
a flammable liquid does not burn. The vapors from same, when mixed with the right amount of oxygen will burn. Look at a MSDS for LEL and UEL. These are the percentages of fuel to air that will burn. UEL is the upper limit and LEL the lower %. Outside these limits should be no fire.
Flammable liquids are liquids that will evolve vapors at a temp that most folks can stand around in. That is they will make enough vapors to support flame over an open cup at a temp of 141F or less. Many solvents are able to support flame at temps or 24F and some like gasoline subzeroF

Combustable liquids are those that require higher temps to evaporate enough vapor to support a flame. Most hydraulic oils are in the 340F flashpoint range. In other words you could not in your shirtsleeves stand there at that temp in my explanation.
Flashpoint is the upper temp limit for evolving enough vapor to support flame.

Fume is generally technically described as a smoke, that is like weld fume. A fume is usually a solid aerosol partical suspended in air.
Vapor is usually a liquid that has evaporated into a gasous form.

Residue in a propane tank. This is probably parafin wax with a witches brew of minor other chemicals. If open burning is allowed in your area, I would be tempted to fill with water, and do the cut. If the water does not have a sheen after the cut drain. If it has a sheen use a non water absorbing oil asorbant pad. These float and will pull the oil from the water, then drain. then toss a for lit matchlite charcoal into the tank and burn out the residue. The absorbants may be burned it there is not an open burning ban.
   ptree - Friday, 07/18/08 18:33:46 EDT

Hey all,

I got the steel to "color" very nicely from a rainbow like gold to deep blue, pretty sweet, now my next issue is I'm trying to up set my drift pin, and mushroom or flare the end to finish the hinge set, my handicap is that I've yet to figure out the secret of upsetting a pin, I know it sounds elementary but it's still a problem. Any advice would be great. Thanks.
   Matt - Friday, 07/18/08 18:45:00 EDT

Any chance you can get well pressure tanks instead of propane for your smokers? They're the right size, and there's a whole lot less stress. Cleaner on the inside than the propane smell additive, too. They're a thinner gauge, but I would thing strong enough. I use one for my slack tub.

Buuuut, if you're stuck with propane tanks ... I cut one open to make my propane forge. This is what worked for me. I unscrewed the valve and filled it with soapy water, and let it sit for a week. Dumped out the water and cut with a reciprocating saw. I don't think there was any propane left, but I still didn't want to risk the sparks from any kind of cutting wheel.

That's it. The smell stuck around for a while; pretty much until I poured in the refractory. That stuff is greasy and sticky. Good luck cleaning it out.

   - Marc - Friday, 07/18/08 18:53:50 EDT


We don't know about the size of your hinges or the diameter of the hinge pins. If the pins are mild steel, it helps to anneal them, a bright cherry red and slow cooling. When inserted in the barrel, allow a little to stand proud on either end of the barrel. If a 3/8" pin, I would allow maybe 3/32" protruding. The exposed ends of the pin can be chamfered all around, which helps in preventing cold-work cracks. Upset cold using a ball peen hammer and using shim stock between barrel and anvil to prevent the barrel from dropping by gravity to the anvil face. Get a start on the upset and reverse the barrel to work on the other upset. Once both upsets have mushroomed to the point that the hinge knuckles are frozen, you can finish without the shim stock, still working both ends. When the upsets are finished they will be semi-flat. You can dome them a little with careful hammer blows. If you don't want the hammer marks, dome them with a rivet set domer or a homemade one. When done to your satisfaction, the hinge will be frozen. To ease it, heat the barrel cherry red and work the leaves back and forth as the assembly cools. Heating the barrel may ruin your color finish. Perhaps the order of work would be to finish the barrel, take the leaves to bare metal, and then give them the color finish.

There are other methods. The described one is fairly common.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 07/18/08 19:58:08 EDT

Awesome Frank, that worked great, my pins are roughly 3/8, and the hinges are for a large juniper chest, pretty nice, but thanks for the great tips, most of my smithing has been more industrial like large steel angle supports for log girders etc, I've never done hinges before, so all the advice has been great, as well as the "I-forge" hinge post. Again thanks.
   Matt - Friday, 07/18/08 20:10:08 EDT

Hello to all I am new to the site but long in the metal worker field. Gotta say this is one really great site. :)
   ben - Friday, 07/18/08 21:12:27 EDT

Cutting propane tanks:

I simply purge them using the argon from my TIG welder and then cut them with either a zip disc or the O/A torch. With the argon purge, no chance of combustion - when using the O/A torch to cut, I leave the argon purge running at about 10 lpm to flush out any unburned gases from the torch.
   vicopper - Friday, 07/18/08 21:40:35 EDT

I could be wrong about this, but I suspect that dry ice makes "fog" by condensing the water vapor present in air. So if you drop dry ice in a vessel and fog comes out, this would mean that there's still air inside. I'd think the vessel would be safe when the fog *stops*. Or possibly at some point before that (when there's too little air left to support combustion), but I'm not sure how you'd tell when that was.
   Mike BR - Friday, 07/18/08 22:30:46 EDT

thanks for the safety guy talk ptree, Iv'e heard alot of safety breifings over the years but, I don't recall ever getting such a clear description of the diference in flamibility of liquids ect...
knowlage is power...
   - merl - Friday, 07/18/08 23:39:27 EDT

Merl, you are welcome. Since I have found that jobs in my prefered career feild have evaporated in this area, I have worked as a safety guy for a few years now.

Mike BR, The all out best way to ceck an atmosphere inside something like a tank is a 4 gas anaylizer just as is used to enter a "Permit Required Confined Space" These MEASURE the oxygen content, and usually from there they have a carbon monoxide, a hydrogen sulfide and a LEL sensor. These will give you a % of Oxygen, and the LEL sensor looks at flammable hydrocarbons % expressed as a % of the LEL of Methane.

I never did the dry ice air displacement method, just saw it done. I believe he waited for a good volume of fog then started welding. He may have depended on the need for a great deal of very cold carbon dioxide to be present to dilute the air before the fog was formed.

Best is the meter. In the boiler shops we used air powered air movers at an entry and an exit to weld on vessels. We were usually welding inside the vessel so we were also moving the weld fume out.
   ptree - Saturday, 07/19/08 07:52:44 EDT

Upsetting pins: I have made special collars for my vise that, when closed, has holes for stock to drop in to.


Take to pieces of angle iron, place a thin sheet of steel between the two and weld the ends together. Drill a series of holes at the diameter of rod(s) you use. Cut the welds and discard the sheet. When you place the collars in the vise, the holes you drilled will hold the stock. The thin sheet decreases the actual diameter of the collars holes making it clamp down nicely on round stock without marring it. Use your o/a torch, heat the tip of the stock and hammer down.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 07/19/08 09:29:39 EDT

Upsetting pins: my method works the same like Nippulinì´s. but without welding.

clamp the two angle-irons in your drilling-machine-vise with a thin piece of cardboard inbetween it as a distance-holder and drill a hole like the diameter of your pin throug it and you have your clamping collar.

greetings from switzerland Daniel
   Feuerdesigner - Saturday, 07/19/08 13:55:30 EDT

I think Feuerdesigner has the right idea. The card (business card woors well) also acts like a center hole, keeping the drill going in the right place. Clamp TIGHT because the drill can shift them causing a real bind. Don't ask me how I know, I just do!
   - grant - Saturday, 07/19/08 15:25:51 EDT

woors?????? Should be "works well".

Poof, then prost!
   - grant - Saturday, 07/19/08 15:27:41 EDT

Odd Seal Seat -

Guru and ptree:

Thanks for your replies. I do have a drawing of the opening with dimensions if you will let me know how to send it to you.

Guru - the radius inside of the upper edge of the groove definately doesn't help with installing the U cups that I am using now. These fabric seals are very stiff and are a real bear to install into the opening without damaging the seal. The two seals that worked showed excessive wear on the upper, inside edge, where the seal meets the narrow part of the machined edge between the cylinder wall and the radiused groove.

ptree - any more specifics that you can give me on leather cup rings with backup seals would be appreciated.

Thanks, John
   John P. - Saturday, 07/19/08 17:21:10 EDT

John P, I used to get all my odd ball seals froma shop here in the louisville area, gone now. You might try Chigago Rawhide Seal. Most know it as CRS.
   ptree - Saturday, 07/19/08 21:07:27 EDT

Grant, yes the drill can shift the angle iron out of alignment while clamped, which is why I switch to the weld-then-drill-then-cut-welds-off method.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 07/20/08 09:51:59 EDT

I have an old Brooks & Cooper Single Bick Anvil (1 1/4 cwt-64Kgs)Would like to know it's value?
   - M. Beaman - Sunday, 07/20/08 11:43:00 EDT

Brooks & Cooper Anvils were made at Mousehole Forge in the late 1800's. The partnership bought the works and changed the name on the anvils from M&H Armitage which was a well known brand. Sales under Brooks & Cooper did poorly so they changed back to M&H Armitage. So the trademark is comparitively rare.

Anvil prices vary depending on type/brand, condition and location. In the U.S. this anvil would generally sell for $150 in typical condition to $350 in fine condition. Location greatly effects the demand. Even within the U.S. there are great variations due to the region one is in. In the industrial North East prices are low. In the South East and Mid-South they are moderate but in the West, particularly California and in sparsely populated areas the price will be higher.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/20/08 13:06:30 EDT

M. Beaman: How is the weight marked on your anvils? It is is in Kgs, I highly doubt it is a Brooks and Cooper but rather a Brooks. Completely different manufacturers and compositon.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 07/20/08 23:04:32 EDT

I am an intermediate level smith and have done some Fredricks Crosses out of square bar[the one piece split cross]. Could you direct me to a website that shows variations of this cross using different materials or shapes. I have done one thing myself with the cross, putting a sprocket behind the top portion, like a halo. Bicycle sprockets of various sizes work very well. Thanking you in advance, Jim Jacobs
   Jim Jacobs - Monday, 07/21/08 10:16:52 EDT

Jim, I do not know of a collection of these but we have two on our iForge page, the standard split cross and one that is split then the center opened up (drifted with a round tool) to make a Celtic cross out of it. Taking your idea you could make this hole to fit a gear inside of it. . .

You could use any sufficiently ductile metal, gold, silver, brass, monel, stanless, or even a laminated steel Damascus or non-ferrous Mokume' Gane'. I like projects that mix brass and iron. You can fill forged channels with brass, use brass collars and brazed brass appliqué's. Japanese swordsmiths did beautiful work with small bits of gold in a wrought iron back.

Hanging in our shop is an incomplete cross from 1" sq. bar that each arm was flared and made into fish-tailed scrolls. The tapers start with heavy parallel fuller grooves then blend into flat. Yes, size is another variable.

Using a chisel or fullers you could add moulding lines or texture to the cross. Lines could be incised and filled with silver, stainless or brass wire.

If you start with rectangular stock you can produce different section arms or square. The arms can be forged square and any of a dozen twist techniques applied to the cross. Imagine a pineapple twist applied to each arm.

If you start with heavy wire cable you MIGHT be able to make the cross without splitting and the result be a twisted assembly. It is does not want to stay together you could collar it, silver solder or braze it. I am sure there is a way to make one of round bar twisted together.

With great care (or a little welding) you could make a Malteese cross (a cross with crosses on the arms).

And then there is the whole area of crucifixes with a forging of Christ on the cross.

I have not tried any of the (14) ideas above but I know they would work and be interesting and different. If I set down with a sketch book I could probably come up with a dozen more. But that is your job if you want something original that is yours. Remember, you are an ARTIST blacksmith. Instead of looking for smithwork for inspiration I would be looking at Church and Religious art. There are lots of books on this subject.
   - guru - Monday, 07/21/08 10:54:31 EDT

hey guys ... we are about to start forging H-13 grade ... any precautions for forging it ..?
   Abhay - Monday, 07/21/08 11:55:28 EDT

Have you thought about making your crosses out of steel cable? It would make a interesting pattern. (Just make sure to forge weld the ends)
   - nathan - Monday, 07/21/08 13:12:24 EDT

im looking at casting bronze but instead of buying i wanted to make my own bronze where could i get plain copper and tin in an ingot or bar or something?
   - micheal dane - Monday, 07/21/08 14:05:55 EDT

Micheal, Copper wire is as pure of copper as you can get. You can use large and small diameters. Tin is sold at various hardware suppliers in ingot form for tinning and soldering. Try McMaster-Carr "mcmaster.com" They also carry copper and zinc.

Please research bronze alloys before you start. Minor differences in proportions of elements can make a lot of difference in physical properties.
   - guru - Monday, 07/21/08 17:13:55 EDT

Abhay, why not employ a metallurgist who knows his stuff? IMHO it doesnt reflect to well on a commercial forging company if the tech department is a web-forum aimed primarily at hobby blacksmiths (no disrespect to the depth of knowledge of the posters on here)

A lot of commercial forging work has been outsourced from the states & europe on the promise of low prices and top quality (that is often not delivered).

The forges that have closed used to pay good wages to people that know the answers to your questions, the wages formed part of the " overheads " that made the forging companies unecconomical in the global market.....
   - John N - Monday, 07/21/08 17:51:30 EDT

Maybe Abhay could pay you guys for your knowledge by providing a source of good quailty custom cast steel anvils. You tell him what he needs to know and you guys sell the anvils to the rest of us at a modest profit. Just a thought.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 07/21/08 19:33:51 EDT

Hello all,
I have only posted here once and received outstanding advice, a thank you for that as a start.
Now on to my current problem, any advice is welcome.

My Smithing Mentor (Charly Fary) found an old gas forge and presented it to me as a gift. Unfortunately it is not suitable for my shop as it is forced air driven and produces extreme amounts of heat for my 900 square foot shop. As a welder I feel confident that I can refab it, into something more suitable for my needs. I have recently aquired a couple T-Rex burners and plan on putting into use with my forge but need some advice on a few particulars. The forge deminsions (without the Kao-wool) are 10" Wide x 8 1/2" tall (including the fireclay bed) and 36" long. I trid to post some pictures here for reference but was unable to do so.
1. What angle do I set the new burners into the forge?
2. How thick do I make the Kao-wool walls?
3. Does there need to be a maximum inner diameter to insure that I do not burn up my burners? I know that I need to keep atleast an inch of insulation between the burners tip and the inner wall. What I need to know is how much open space is max to ensure productivity and safety?
4. Being as my forge is 36inches long and currently has three burners, do I need to go ahead and fab up another spot for a third burner so I do not mess with the integrity of the Kaowool as the future financing allows.

I sure appreciate the forthcoming advice, I have never built my own forge and need a little nudge.

Rusty of Slayton's Ironworks.
   Rusty - Monday, 07/21/08 20:40:53 EDT

Rusty, Every atmospheric burner has an optimum volume it will heat. I recommend you ask Rex Price about his burner capacity. Note that if you do not change the forge size or insulation it will put out just as much waste heat as it did with the blower.

I like at least 2" of Kaowool in a forge. However, the bigger the forge the more you should have. Some folks temporarily block off a section of a forge with some brick or a block of Kaowool to control the size.

Burners can be mounted anywhere from horizontal to about 80 degrees (20 degrees from vertical). SOME makers, even commercial builders mount them vertical but most folks do not recommend it. I like them mounted to create some swirl.

I like burner nozzles buried back at least 1" into the insulation and a minimum of 2" clear space in front when in use. More when the forge is empty.

Hope this helps.
   - guru - Monday, 07/21/08 20:55:31 EDT

Thank you for replying GURU. Your response did raise more questions though.

I will work on learning the chamber diameters to ensure the maximum burner efficency. If anyone reading this knows the Optimum Volume to chamber deminsions, please feel free to speak up.

Now my question. Waste Heat? Are you referring to the amount of heat that is blown out of the opening of my forge by the blower (which is tremendous)? Or the amount of waste according to the chambers demensions?

Another question that I forgot to ask. Can I coat fireclay with the Infared refractor coating? Or will it be a waste of resource as work pieces will rub it off over time? I ask because I was going to use the fireclay rather than a silica base. Simply for ease of refab, and inability to find a suitable size Silica based plate.

   Rusty - Monday, 07/21/08 21:13:00 EDT

Rusty, All the heat, radiated and blown out are waste heat. You get a lot of "dragon's breath" from venturi burners as well as the blower burner. My point is that for the forge to operate right the amount MAY be the same.

You can cover almost anything with ITC-100 except metal. On metal ITC recommends ITC-213 and ITC-296A over it. We apply ITC-100 to Kaowool, refractory bricks and fibre boards. It helps fill porosity as well as provide a hard surface.
   - guru - Monday, 07/21/08 21:50:12 EDT

I know this is going to strike you as naive, or that you most likely get this one a lot, but I must ask it. I've been working on a book, and it is a fictional/fantasy novel set in an undetermined period during medieval times. And my character is an apprentice to a blacksmith. But as I began writing I found I didn't even know what a blacksmith was. Conan or Highlander surely wasn't going to be enough to make something realistic [more so now that I've researched the snow is useless] and yet I find I can't understand it until I do it myself. What's the best thing to start with and where's a safe place that I can make a forge? By the way I live in Texas in case location matters. And what sort of pricing would I be looking at?
   Lee Knight - Monday, 07/21/08 22:03:09 EDT

I've read plenty of books on metalsmithing and the such, I understand the tools and the basics. But I don't know the feel of it and I don't really 'know' any of it.
   Lee Knight - Monday, 07/21/08 22:15:57 EDT

Well, I may have to quit blacksmithing...
It seems to be causing me to gain wieght uncontrolably.
I keep my Boraxo in a large, coverd season salt shaker that I thought was clean.
However, every time I shake some on to a piece of hot metal for a weld, I am greated by the most wonderful aroma of sizzeling steak! and I have to run up to the house for a sandwich...
any advise? (hee hee)
   - merl - Monday, 07/21/08 22:52:59 EDT

Lee Knight-- fake it. That's why they call it fiction.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/21/08 23:22:54 EDT


I just acquired a metal bucket for my gas forge project, and noticed it seems to bend under the weight of my burner assembly, which is kind of heavy (a few lbs). I was planning on using 2" of Kaowool insulation to line it, but I don't think that's very rigid. Would it work to reinforce it with a thin layer (1/2") of concrete? If so, would regular concrete (cheap) work or would I need some special hard refractory, even though it's going to have 2" of Kaowool blanket between it and the forge chamber itself?
   mike3 - Monday, 07/21/08 23:26:25 EDT

Use your shaker on the next sandwich and after that I don't think the smell will be as appealing. You probably won't want another one for a long time. Or just move your shop farther from the house so the walk burns off the sandwich.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 07/21/08 23:40:59 EDT

Lee Knight, if I my give you some advise and a little advanced warning.
I have been a skilled metal worker all my working life. When I desided to delve into blacksmithing as a natural continuation of the learning prosses three years ago, I had "read lots of books" and talked to alot of people but, the first time I made a piece of metal hot and hit it with a hammer I found I knew NOTHING. I continued to struggle for the next two years thinking it would suddenly "click", it did not. Sometime last year I found this web site (and others) and began to absorb as much of the advise and instruction as I could/can along with a minimum of 10 hours per week at my own forge to practice what I find here. After nearly a year of this and from continuous reveiw of the IForge lessons and past postings, the mantra of "hammer controle" , "half face blows and full face blows" and the "near and far side" of the anvil have finely come together to form one huge revelation!
That may sound very amaturish to some here but, I'll be the first one to tell you that. With these few simple truths under my belt I am finely able to start to produce some of the things I can invision. Here I must again give a great thanks to all that have contributed.
You will find that the combined knowlage contained on this site alone far exceeds the combined ages of the contributors so, when they tell you to go to the block that says "getting started in blacksmithing" and "join your local blacksmithing group" and "attend the various events and schools related to blacksmithing" That is precisely what they mean, there is no other way.
I appologize if you are offended by my candor and, I appologize to Guru for over steping any bounds but, even as a newbe here I have seen this question asked many times and always answerd in the same way... The best of luck to you.
   - merl - Monday, 07/21/08 23:43:46 EDT

I was wondering if someone could advise me of any good junkyard steel combinations that give good contrast in pattern welded steel. I made my first pattern welded knife blade using 5 steels: mild steel, an S grade tool steel, an automobile axle steel, and 2 automotive spring steels(one coil and one leaf). The blade came out with a good pattern, but didn't have much contrast, especially after polishing. I know that using a nickel containing steel will result in more contrast with the other steels, but I haven't been able to find a good source of junkyard nickel steel. Since I do metal work mostly as a hobby and am currently putting myself through college, I really don't have the money to buy new specialty steels and try to use as much of what I can get cheap as possible. I would really appriciate any help I can get.
   - Jesse - Monday, 07/21/08 23:44:13 EDT

Jesse, I believe L9 bandsaw blade steel is the junkyard nickle steel of choice. Use it with banding or mild steel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/08 01:03:40 EDT


For a fairly high nickel content steel, try using a circular saw blade - not a carbide-tipped one, the regular kind. They aer often L-5 steel. Combined with a good high carbon 10XX steel like 1095 and some real wrought iron, you should have good contrast.

One note on contrast: The higher the polish, the lower the contrast. Contrast is achieved because different alloys etch at different rates and have different surface characteristics after etching, so they respond to oxidizing differently. When you polish after etching, you are basically undoing the effect of the etch. The only way around this that I know of is to etch so deeply that one of the layers willbe etched deeply enough that it doesn't get polished when the higher layers do, thus it will hold coloring and be much darker. I use gun bluing to deepen the color when needed.

Another hint is to use a piece of hard wood or plastic as a sanding stick when you do the final polish, so that the 1200 grit paper is supported rigidly and cannot get pushed down into the deeper etched areas of the pattern.

Keep on experimenting and good luck with it.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 07/22/08 01:32:38 EDT

The FEELING of blacksmithing: Well, July when it is 105°F in the shade is a GOOD time to start. You don't have to heat the metal nearly as much.

Lee, You can do it a number of ways. Take a blacksmithing class such as Frank Turley's (see link at top of this log under "The Gurus". Take a LONG class.

OR you can do it yourself. It will cost as much or more than classes at Frank Turley's. Everyting you need is available new from our advertisers and you can be up and going in a week. You need an anvil, hammer, forge and some steel bar to pound on. The fastest way to get started is to spend a little cash and buy a 100 to 150 pound anvil, a two burner gas forge (it will run on a barbeque grill gas cylinder) and a 2.5 pound (1200 gram) smithing hammer. It will also help to have a 4" bench vise and a hacksaw and a pair of goosneck or chainmaker tongs to fit 1/2" square bar. You will need 20 feet of 1/2" square mild steel. Cut it up with the hacksaw into 10 and 12" long pieces. Hand sawing IS part of blacksmithing.

The exercise I have my current student (an 18 year old young lady) doing is to forge one point a night on 1/2" square. The first time it took her six or eight heats. The next couple three or four heats. Then she did one in one heat plus a little touch up. Now she can do them in one heat. That took over two weeks of practice learning control and building up muscle (she is quite strong AND had used a hammer in carpentry). She has also had a teacher and DRIVE.

Next step was to neck down those pieces with points on each end in preparation to make a leaf. This takes another couple heats working on the corner of the anvil. She is improving. An experianced smith can make the point and do the necking in one heat. Next step is to flatten the these to make leaves. . . slow steady practice.

The reason for going slow is to build up muscle and prevent hurting one's self. I can forge a dozen or more 1/2" points in an hour but the last time I did it without practice I hurt my elbow and couldn't work for a couple months. It even hurt to type. . . So you have to work up to it slowly.

After a couple months of daily practice starting with one piece and working up to more pieces or multiple heats on single pieces you will have a taste of blacksmithing. An hour or two a day is the limit starting out. THEN find a piece of 1" square bar and TRY forging that. The blood and sweat you taste as you bite your lip TRYING to move that large piece will be a taste of serious blacksmithing.

Old fashioned apprenticeships took a minimum of 7 years for a reason. Besides forging there is filing, sawing, drilling, chiseling (hot and cold), welding. . .

If you watch really good smiths they are wizards with a hammer. The metal positively moves FOR them not because of them.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/08 01:34:52 EDT

Metal Bucket, Gas Forge: Mike, I am a little lost here. Is this a plan you saw somewhere? Or your own idea? Most steel buckets are galvanized which is a bad choice for a forge. The zinc will burn off creating toxic fumes. The shape is also not right for a gas forge. Gas forges must be enclosed with relatively small vents (about 7x the area of the burner).

Concrete is not heat resistant, it spalls (explodes) when heated rapidly above the boiling point of water.

The best thing to make a forge floor out of is split fire brick in small forges and whole brick in large. You can also use refractory cement from a foundry or ceramics supplier but it is not nearly as durable as hard fired refractory brick.

Kaowool will keep a lot of heat in but eventually the shell gets quite hot. Usually hot enough to burn off common paint or melt and burn zinc galvanizing in hot spots.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/08 01:44:14 EDT

hey guru .. thanx for the suggestion .. the problem is we have tried it before .. but the people who we came across .. dont have any knowledge at all ... they are 100% theoratical and 0% practical ... we've done it with a dozen of people .. people here have knowledge for mild steel or simple grades of steel ... they dont really knw much about D-3,D-2 grades ..! another big problem of having a metallurgist is tht the end up blackmailing u .! coz if they dont knw anything ... the learn and then eventually blackmail u for paying them more .. and if u dont they find people and setup their plants and everything .. and create competition ...! we are already stuck with one person like tht ... so v really try not to do tht again ... !
and robert cutting .. i really think thts a great thought ... coz ill make a profit neways .. coz the knowledge given by every1 here .. is very very useful .. it has helped me to make changes and has reduced the rejections ...!
thanx u guys ..!!
   Abhay - Tuesday, 07/22/08 03:18:19 EDT

You said the bucket could be galvanized, which makes me skeptical about using it. What should I use for a forge _body_, anyway, if this bucket is a bad choice? I'm not in a big city with a junkyard. Just a lame resort town. Couldn't I get the galvanizing removed? Or would that just be too expensive? If this bucket is not an option, what should I use instead for a body? And where exactly can I pick it up? Can I order one somewhere?

As for closing off the vent, one could brick up the front. That's, at least, what I've seen online.

And so there's also a significant (enough to be concerning) chance of the concrete exploding even with the 2" of insulation to slow the heat transfer?
   mike3 - Tuesday, 07/22/08 04:36:40 EDT

Commercial Forging: Abhay, There are two engineering references every commercial forge shop should have, Both are from ASM International. One is a single volumes from the encyclopedic set titled "Metals Handbook", the volume on Forging. The second is the Heat Treater's Guide. The Heat Treater's Guide has forging recommendations and various warnings. Neither book is what I would call theoretical. They are based on U.S. industrial experience and manufacturer's recommendations. I'm sure there are other equally valuable references but these are the top two.

What I have found in many places outside the U.S., especially less advantaged places, is that references such as the above and many others are not affordable to the individual engineer. Here, we rely on such references when specifics are needed. Yes, experience is important as well but I think most of your past questions could have been answered by one of the above books.

A serious professional in our industry will often purchase the entire ASM set if the business he works for does not have a copy. Smart businesses often have their own library so that such references do not leave with employees. . . Our small family business had a library of hundreds of volumes plus thousands of catalogs.

The problem our two professional metallurgists have is that they work for U.S. firms that are constantly under attack by imports from low wage countries. Much of this competition comes from places that also do not follow the same stringent environmental rules that we have in the U.S. While many countries have similar environmental laws most businesses in the U.S. follow ours or are forced to. We have made tremendous improvements in air quality while still growing industrially. We also take employee health and protection very seriously. There are no welders here peeking through slits in a paper helmet or barefoot foundry workers here.

So these fellow's jobs are on the line if they give detailed advice to a competitor, especially one from overseas. They gladly answer questions for folks in other fields and for craft workers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/08 08:45:49 EDT

Forge Body: Mike, NO concrete. Most folks use old freon or propane bottles to make tunnel forges. Freon bottles are lighter and found in mountains at any HVAC service business.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/08 08:47:56 EDT

I will be out for a few days.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/08 08:48:12 EDT

Lee Knight: As mentioned above, you can largely make up your own setting and work practices as so little has been documented about blackmsithing during medieval times.

Likely you would be correct if the apprentice started young, say 12-years-old, and for the first couple of years was little more than an unpaid laborer in a shop. Likely they would have been required to arrive at the shop at least an hour early to prepare for the day and then to stay afterwards to clean up and perhaps start preparations for the next day. At first it would have been physical labor, such as a striker at the anvil. Any training would have largely been through observation and osmoiss (sp?). After a couple of years they may have been given small jobs to do on their own, perhaps at their own small forge, such as making nails or chainlinks.

For example, say the shop shod horses. After striking for at least a year they may have been allowed to try to rough shape shoes by themselves, perhaps with another apprentice as their striker. The next step may have been finishing the shoes close to final. Then actually being allowed to closely observe and eventually final fit and apply the shoes.

Likely they would have served as apprentices/journeymen to several shops, learning something different at each one. Perhaps in their early twenties they would have been qualified to run a shop by themselves. If blacksmiths were in short supply a village may have lured one through the offer of land and a shop building if they agreed to stay for a specified period of time.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/22/08 10:02:15 EDT


I understand your frustrations completly. Below you will find a link to a freon tank made by Ron Reil. Ron's site in general has a ton of information reguarding home made forges and the complications that follow. Hope the link helps.

   Rusty Slayton - Tuesday, 07/22/08 10:15:27 EDT

I found the chamber volume reccomendations reguarding the T-Rex burners. I am posting the information and link below, in the hopes that it will help curb frustrations for someone in the future. The link gives some basic reccomendations regaurding all of the hybrid burners. I hope it helps someone in the future.

* "This is the standard workhorse burner for use in a huge variety of applications. It will fit most commercially made forges, allowing you to replace the inefficient low temperature stock burners they come with. The rule of thumb for chamber volume is 350 cubic inches per burner, but your forge may allow more or less, depending on all the variables I listed at the top of this page. If you are converting a forge that uses two Reil or EZ burners to T-Rex Burners, you will probably be able to use one T-Rex Burner in place of two Reil or EZ Burners."

* "The T-Rex Burner can be used as a hand torch too, especially with the addition of an angle iron handle. It can do just about any kind of preheating you might require, and its amazing flame control makes even temper coloring easily within the job description of this burner. I say the least about this burner simply because it can do the most."

* - Information found on: http://www.hybridburners.com/Chamber-Volume.html

Rusty Slayton
   Rusty Slayton - Tuesday, 07/22/08 10:22:02 EDT

Early apprenticeships were eduction the hard way. The youngest were often treated as child labor, cleaning, hauling, pulling the bellows, turning the great wheels. Nothing requiring skills. Later they would be put to finishing work with files and as labor when needed. They may not have touched a hammer for years.

There were also good and bad masters. Some taught, others abused their apprentices as slaves. Much apprentice law had to do with the master not fulfilling their duty. In many cases the apprentice needed to be proactive in their education. A dull apprentice would often get little education. A sharp apprentice would pick up the trade by just being there. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/08 10:37:35 EDT

I'm curious to try out pure iron and am wondering if you know of a source in the U.S. you can buy it from in small quantities. Your help is much appreciated.

   Andrew Lunn - Tuesday, 07/22/08 11:03:54 EDT

Lee; I have some background in historical and medieval smithing, (Why I'm a sub-guru here), feel free to contact me by e-mail for questions:

First use the Navigate Anvilfire drag down menu on the upper right of this page, go to near the bottom and click on ABANA-Chapter.com and find the local ABANA group nearest you. Meetings are free and open and you will find people to help you get set up and learn. It's also a good place to find materials and tools for your smithy. If you are near El Paso let me know and I will hook you up with SWABA's southern group.

Second some general aspects of smithing in the medieval time period: Until the high middle ages the fuel used was charcoal, note though that it was called "coal" commonly, (see "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel, Gies & Gies for cite).
The material used was real wrought iron known by it's fiberous "greenstick" fracture and made by the direct method in bloomeries until the later medieval period whern the indirect method came about. Note that a smith would *buy* iron not smelt it himself, (save in rare rural early medieval scandanavia cases). Iron has been a trade good for over 1000 years by then. Steel was much rarer and could be made a number of ways: one would be to seperate the higher carbon parts of the bloom out and work them up as steel, know as "natural steels"; another way would be to take wrought iron and carburise it into steel.

There will be more than just a smith and one apprentice in the shop, family members (even women!), other apprentices, journeymen all would generally be in a typical shop. (We know that women worked in smithies due to guild rules stating that a women could only work in the shop of her Father, Husband, or Brother) (In one caste in India the related women are the strikers for the smiths till this day)

Sword or armour making would ONLY be done in large towns in shops that specialized in the craft! Really! And those shops would also specialize. The smith who forged a blade would not be the person who ground it, hilted it or made a scabbard for it these were seperate crafts and actually had seperate guilds for them. Doing another guild's work in your shop was grounds for having your shop pulled down and destroyed. Note that this is the same for armour making as well, there is a special guild for polishing armour and one that specializes in the fittings for armour as well.

Rural smiths tended more toward being generalists but would only make the crude altered agricultural weapons in time of war. *NO* swordmaking!

So more details about what this smith's apprentice is supposed to be doing and learning please.

(I've hammered on the blademaking as that is where Holywood has really spread mis-information!)

An interesting book to read is "Divers Arts" written in 1120 CE by Theophilus; and in good english translation from Dover Publishers. It is a book on the studio crafts of the period and while not blacksmithing specific it discusses building bellows and furnaces, casting bells and artwork in bronze, making and hardening gravers and files, etc.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/22/08 11:56:18 EDT

Guru and anyone else,
I'm looking for some info on the origional Bull powerhammer. I have a chance to buy one and need to hear the pros and cons. I've not been around blacksmithing long enough to have remeber the Bull hammers. I know the later models that came along are built like the Phoenix but this particular hammer is the very first Bull. thanks a lot guys
   - mike s - Tuesday, 07/22/08 12:47:13 EDT


There are a few smithing organizations in Texas, some affiliated with our national Artist-Blacksmiths Association: www.abana.org. ABANA has a list of regional groups throughout the country. I'm sure you would be welcome to any of their meetings, and you might get a chance to strike hammer to hot metal. A "Metal Worked" ironwork exhibition will be at Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts in Spring, Texas, from July 26 - November 2. An artist reception will be Friday, August 8, 6-8PM.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/22/08 13:03:34 EDT

(About the gas forge)
So does that mean I'd need to get this freon tank to make the forge -- there are no good substitutes? (Where on Earth would I find one? Remember what I said about my location.) And therefore I'd have to do _welding_ on it to add parts (which I myself cannot do, so I'd need to have someone else do it for me = lots of $$$) like the burner-holding tube?
   mike3 - Tuesday, 07/22/08 14:11:02 EDT

Furthermore I read something about terrifyingly lethal phosgene gas from residual freon in the tank, which turns me off from it even more -- how do I know it won't gas off like that when it gets hot after a long use -- if it's getting hot enough to spall concrete and burn zinc galvanizing, surely that is hot enough to create phosgene gas, no? Or isn't it?
   mike3 - Tuesday, 07/22/08 14:12:25 EDT

Question on building an Anvil.
My local scrap yard has several very large forklift forks @ $0.30# and I am wondering what type of steel would have likely been used to make these? Would this type of steel be good for an anvil?

The dimensions of the fork(s) I think would work (provided the steel is right) is about 6" wide by 2" thick most of the fork and then tapering off to almost sharp at the end. I should be able to get about 4' of the 2" stuff from one fork which I plan to cut into about 1' sections and layer together possibly even welding some large 4"x4"x1' unknown type plate scrap sections to help form a stable base.

Would this type of steel be suitable for an anvil? Could I cut and shape the horn by splitting and layering the "sharp" end then welding it to the other sections?

I am still looking around for a real anvil and have about destroyed the face of my Harbor Freight ASO in my first real try at making something. I was attempting to make a set of tongs from some 5/8" Allen Wrenches which I also picked up @ $0.30# and every strike would leave a crease in the ASO face.
   Nate DJ - Tuesday, 07/22/08 14:44:29 EDT

Mike3, my first forge didn't use a metal shell, and didn't require any welding. Which was good, since I didn't have a welder back then. It was built using insulating firebricks and scrap angle iron: http://ironringforge.com/ForgeSaga/Forge_Building.html

But you don't have to weld, even if you find a tube. A hand drill, and nuts and bolts will work fine. Even my existing forge, http://ironringforge.com/NewForgeSaga/New_Forge_Saga.html really doesn't have all that much welding. All of the hardware is bolted on. And I wouldn't worry about the freon, by the way. So many forges have been built with them and I have never heard of this phosgene problem.

Check out the local dump. Mine has a metal pile that, if you ask nice on a non-busy day, they let me take the easy stuff. I see freon tanks in there all the time. They have a separate section for propane tanks, which they let me take even on a busy day. Use your imagination.

Lastly, look up Jay Hayes. He doesn't have a website, but he used to sell forge parts, including rolled sheet metal shells. I think the shells were very reasonable, much cheaper than any local tin banger shop.
   - Marc - Tuesday, 07/22/08 15:29:50 EDT

Where can I order some insulating firebrick in the small quantity I need?

So go to the landfill, then? Would they let one rummage around on that, and would freon tanks be found there even though this place I'm in is far from being a "big city" by any stretch of the imagination?
   mike3 - Tuesday, 07/22/08 15:50:59 EDT

mike3: Empty 30-lb freon bottles are readily available at H&A/C services. I have two local ones who drop their empty bottles off at my shop. I oxy/ace cut into them on a regular basis. I've found if I drill a couple of holes in the top around the nozzle, and let them sit/vent for a couple of weeks, I can cut into them without getting that 'muriatic acid' type smoke. However, I still stand with a fan to my back and with good shop ventilation when doing so.

Check out the anvilfire advertisers by using the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in upper right. Scroll down to bottom of list. Some carry manufactured propane forges. Also check out eBay by doing a search on propane (or gas) forge. Larry Zoeller's site (do a Google search on Zoeller Forge) can also provide some background.

On a do-it-yourself you will find there is a fairly delicate balance between air tube size, oriface and chamber size (after insulation is installed). A rule of thumb with a 1 1/2" x 3/4" bell coupler and 3/4" nipple (with say an .0330 oriface) is 350 cubic inches of chamber size per tube. With 2" x 1" coupler and 1" tube it would be 500 cubic inches.

You may have to purchase a set of micro-drills and work up in oriface size until the gas/air mix balances out in your particular set-up.

The best site I've found for propane regulators/gauges/line kits is www.tejassmokers.com. They carry both 30 & 60 lb regulators and shipping is free. Service is impressive.

I suspect you will find you can purchase a ready-to-use unit cheaper than you can scrounge one together.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 07/22/08 15:55:35 EDT

Nate; usually forklift tines are a good medium carbon steel and a great choice for an anvil. If you must build up an anvil put the sections *VERTICAL* not horizontal. However I would suggest you look into something like Marco and Krieger did with a fork lift tine at this URL: home.columbus.rr.com/tirnewyddfencing/fork.html

Remember that most of the world during most of the history of blacksmithing did/do not use a London Pattern anvil. If the japanese swords and viking swords could be forged on anvils that don't look like the london pattern anvil perhaps your items could be as well.

Gas forge: I own two myself, one is a light thin pipe---grain auger tubing. The other is a very heavy walled pipe---scrapped O2 cylinder. I have seen one professional smith who didn't use a shell at all. he just rolled the kaowool in a tube and fastened it with binder wire and stick the burner in that---no support at all. So pretty much *EVERYTHING* that won't burn is pretty much a substitute. Go scrounging looking for something that's steel and about the right diameter and use that! If you have to have more detailed guidence you might be better off buying a commercial unit as tinkering up your own will be a painful process for you.

Remember this is NOT going to be the last forge you ever build, they are pretty much consumables and you will build a number of them over the years as your wants and needs change.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/22/08 16:12:44 EDT

Mike3 as to whether the local dump will allow to rummage or not---it depends on *your* dump! We can't tell you unless we live where you do and have found out. Note that your atttitude can make a big difference; a dozen doughnuts to the dump supervisor telling him you want to recycle a freon can may result in a bunch set aside for you next time you visit...or possibly the chance to scrounge. Safety is a big fear for them as dumps by their nature are not nice places for the unaware.


   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/22/08 16:59:39 EDT

Well I've already sunk cash into assembling the burner system, and got the propane tanks, hose, and regulator, so at this point buying premade is likely to be a bigger bill than I can take. So I'm pretty much "locked in" to finishing this. Now, with those freon tanks I wasn't worried so much about gas-off when cutting, but during use. Besides I wasn't going to cut them *myself* with torches and stuff -- I have neither the equipment nor the expertise.

The rub about using "anything" is just what Guru said: if it's galvanized, then that equals poison smoke. If you put concrete in there as a rigidizer it might spall, i.e. explode, which is NOT a Good Thing(TM) to have happen. So it must be rigid enough to hold without concrete and must be straight steel with no galvanizing. Which is what disqualified the bucket I had. Unless I can get the galvanizing removed, but then there's still that little problem of the concrete spall...

Anyway, I'll check out the dump and H&A/C suppliers to see if they have anything.
   mike3 - Tuesday, 07/22/08 17:18:53 EDT


If you're bound and determined to stick with the bucket, maybe you can find a piece of heavier steel sheet maybe 4" to 6" square, shape it to match the curve of the bucket, and screw or rivet it around the area where the burner goes. If the bucket's galvanized, though, save it for a slack tub. 2" of kaowool might well protect much of the zinc, but burn off is inevitable around the doors and probably the burner. Not what you want in your shop.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 07/22/08 17:32:37 EDT

I need to settle an argument with a kid on the sideshow boards. Exactly what is the yellow crap stuck to store bought nails? One guess was glue, but the nails they're talking about are sold loose in a box. I assume its an oxide or yellow galvanizing? I'm in the dark.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/22/08 17:48:13 EDT

Good News! I just got ahold of a freon tank that should be enough for a small forge. And it didn't cost a dime... But I'm still concerned about the phosgene. Will it gas off during use? What about the _paint_ on the outside?
   mike3 - Tuesday, 07/22/08 18:10:02 EDT

Nip, that yellow coating used to be shellac. The heat of forcing thru the wood melted the shellac and caused it to stick like glue. It may now be a hot melt glue.

Mike3 Another option for a forge is a "party ballon Helium" tank. These are sold for inflating ballons and are a little lighter than the freon cans, and maybe a little smaller. No deadly gas, as helium is inert, the steel can be cut with a drill and jig saw, but is rigid enough to hold up. If in S. Indiana, I have 3 or 4 up by the shop to give to folks that need one.
   ptree - Tuesday, 07/22/08 18:13:28 EDT

Mike3, I have seen a set of instructions for converting a propane tank. Remove the valve, and let sit for a couple days. Fill with water to just below the top, and drill a hole big enough to let a jig saw blade enter. Check that the blade will clear the water even when extended and cut the square hole. Empty the water. In a safe location place a small bag of match light charcoal in the tank. Light and let burn tottally out. You should now have a freon free, paint free shell ready for wire brushing and further work.
   ptree - Tuesday, 07/22/08 18:17:24 EDT

I don't have a jigsaw. Can I do this without one?

Would it be safer to just have someone else (preferably a professional) work on it for getting the paint and freon out? If I light a fire and get away the smoke may drift into either my house or neighbors' houses (I'm in a town, you know.), and I've heard that phosgene is _very_ deadly and even breathing a _little_ can be nasty. Even if I don't get hurt by it, I don't want the neighbors to either.

Also, in the design I saw on Ron Reil's page he used some "Kaowool Board" for the front and back. Do I need this, or could I just use a small hole in the bottom of the tank and put regular Kaowool mat there, and brick up the front with some firebrick? As that "board" stuff seems frighteningly expensive.
   mike3 - Tuesday, 07/22/08 18:54:51 EDT

I have a Hay-Budden 406lb. anvil.It has been in my family for several years.My dad aquired it in the 70's while welding drill bit heads at local shop.Everyone that sees it wants to buy it so i started doing a little research.I figured out the 406 is the weight.But where the serial number is all thats there is a 0 (zero).From what i have read it should start with the letter A and have several digits afterwards.I am looking under the horn down on the bottom lh leg.

Thanks Jimmy Mallory
Valdosta Georgia
   Jimmy Mallory - Tuesday, 07/22/08 19:40:35 EDT

Nip- The most common loose nails with a yellow/green coating are called "sinkers" and are most commonly found in 16d (about 3" long) followed by 12d. They have a waffle pattern on the head to reduce hammer slippage and the stuff is, like ptree says, friction glue.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 07/22/08 20:42:51 EDT

Mike3- I found insulating fire brick thru a pottery supply catalog, don't remember which one just now, but despite the higher shipping cost they had no minimum order.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 07/22/08 20:46:55 EDT

Andrew- did you mean pure iron or wrought iron? If you meant pure search the archives as I think this came up and was covered in the last year or so.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 07/22/08 20:59:59 EDT


You should be able to find a jigsaw for $20 (or much less at a flea market), but you *could* use a hammer and chisel, or even a hacksaw blade with a rag wrapped around one end.

You can indeed make a hole at the back of the forge and insulate that end with kaowool. My forge is made that way, but I "framed" the hole with welded-in strips to form a ledge to help hold the kaowool in. You might try making an undersize square or rectangular hole, then make diagonal cuts into the corners, and fold the resulting flaps into the forge. Be aware though: they *will* burn out eventually.

I'm no expert, but freon evaporates *very* quickly. I have a hard time imagining enough remaining in an open container to cause a threat, especially to someone downwind outdoors. An active leak near an open flame is one thing, a used container another. But if you're worried, scrub the container out with hot water and detergent.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 07/22/08 21:07:07 EDT

There were lots of numbers used without an 'A' prefix. The company started using 'A' about 1916-1918. However, according to "Anvils in America," the numbers started with 1, not 0, about 1892. The weight was often stamped underneath the trademark where it says BROOKLYN N.Y. You either have a rare bird, or the serial numbers have been smunched or obliterated somehow.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/22/08 21:52:48 EDT

Back in the days when we used to turn freon tanks into "medieval" helms, I used the "hacksaw blade and rag" method. It worked, but took a loooong time. 24 teeth per inch, or even 32 is much recommended for thing gage tanks.

My best advice would be to borrow a saber saw from a friend or neighbor, get a good, fine tooth, ferrous metal cutting blade, and have at it.

Awaiting the next line of thunderstorms on the banks of the lower Potomac. Finished putting up the plywood panels on the west gable of the new forge building tonight.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/22/08 22:13:42 EDT

Mike3: There will not be any residual freon in that tank by the time You are ready to fire it. If the bucket You were going to use is an old 5 gallon paint bucket, they are not galvanised. The paint will burn off when it gets hot enough, no big deal. If You were going to use a flimsy shell You could mount the burner to what ever the shell will rest on [framework, legs, etc.] this could be bolted together out of angle & flat stock. This isn't rocket science, don't over think the shell construction, just use plenty of lightweight insulation [kaowool or soft firebrick] and a minimum of heavy hard brick. Larry Zoeller sells kiln shelvs, they are thin and will heat up more quickly than a hard fire brick.

Speaking from experience, I built a forge with a hard refractory lining all arround, about 5/8"-3/4" thick. The liner weighs about 12# and it takes a long time to get this forge hot. The next one will use kaowool & kaowool board with a kiln shelf floor. It won't be as rugged, but it will heat up FAST.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/22/08 22:37:39 EDT

Judson, yes I meant pure iron. Thanks for pointing me toward the archives. I'll check there for that discussion you referenced.
   Andrew Lunn - Tuesday, 07/22/08 22:37:47 EDT

Could you tell me where I can get a small order of some of this light firebrick? Because the only firebrick I have for a floor and to close up the front aperture is the heavy stuff.
   mike3 - Tuesday, 07/22/08 23:50:39 EDT

Early Bull Hammers: Mike S., The column ram guide type Bull hammers were one of the most compact machines made. But they had trouble with the guide bearing material coming loose and trashing itself. Repairing it is not easy but not impossible in a small shop. Good lubrication could help prevent this but you do not know how the hammer has been used. The control system was also known to hang up and do odd things on occasion. Most of these are at least 8 years old.

Even though the partners that bought out Bull and then wrecked the company are not around, Tom Troszak of Phoenix hammers will help you with service problems.

While I think this was a very nifty little hammer and would love to have one due to its compactness I would not pay much for one.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 00:39:29 EDT

Pure Iron: Wagner Corp AKA J.G Braun is the current importer of European made "pure iron". This is in fact very low carbon steel, which is different than wrought iron.

   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 00:48:50 EDT

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