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 22 - 31, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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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


Since yo like the bucket shape, go to the local cheapo department store and buy a stainless steel stock pot. $20 should get you one the size of a freon tank or regular bucket, no plating or paint to worry about. Of course, there's the hexavalent chromium issue if you try to electropolish it...

Good grief, man! Blacksmithing is, by its very nature, a more than a little bit dangerous undertaking. You can (read, will) get burned, drop heavy things on yourself, hit your thumb with a hammer, get pinched by tongs, splattered by hot water, hot scale, hot flux and hot tempers, to mention just a few. You need to use common sense and do the research to see what dangers are real and which are hype, then work out ho wyou will approach them to minimize risk to yourself while still being able to actually do something. If you want to be completely safe, however, forget blacksmithing. Take up crocheting or stamp collecting instead.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 07/23/08 00:52:31 EDT

mike3: You can find insulating firebrick and ceramic blanket in small quantities on eBay. Just do a search on firebrick and ceramic blanket.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 07/23/08 04:02:55 EDT

For firebrick and other refractory materials, you can try Googling for refractory contractors in your area. I've been to three different ones near my home and all will sell small quantities of what they have in house. Usually it's leftover stuff from a job. I've gotten insulating firebrick, insulating castable refractory, and other stuff from the various places. The prices were their price, quite a bit less than ordering online, and no shipping.

My transfer station doesn't allow picking in the metal pile. But on a weekday, when it's not busy, if I ask first, they usually let me grab whatever is within easy reach. No climbing on piles.

I used a reciprocating saw to cut my propane tanks. It's faster than a sabre saw, and no hole to cut first. You might be able to plunge cut with a sabre saw, too. I cut my sono-tubes that way. Just tilt the saw forward and start the cut. The tubes have a similar radius as tanks, so it might work there. Wear ear protection, whichever way you go :-)

   - Marc - Wednesday, 07/23/08 07:56:10 EDT

Stamp Collecting; Rich:

When dragging arms, armor, blacksmithing equipment and ship's gear across various gods-forbidden locations and then engaging in strenuous physical activities of dubious safety all day, and then schlepping all the gear back to the truck, stamp collecting starts looking real attractive! :-)

Marc; Ear Protection:

Too true, sometimes the cold work, especially when working with sheet metal, is much louder than the hot work. Even “quick” jobs can leave your ears ringing, and any time your ears are ringing, it indicates possible danger. Just behind eye protection is hearing protection, and I’m still trying to save what’s left.

More thunderstorms due on the banks of the Potomac. One of today’s projects involves Big Thicket National Park and Preserve, Beaumont, Texas (www.nps.gov/bith). Meanwhile, the hurricane will be coming ashore soon at Padre Island National Seashore (www.nps.gov/pais) and Palo Alto Battlefield in Brownsville, Texas (www.nps.gov/paal).
Hopefully, my services won’t be needed. :-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/23/08 08:55:56 EDT

mike3: I also put on a frame on the front (and for one model the back) of propane forges. To flatten out the rounded front you would need to put V's at the corner so when you turn over the edges it doesn't distort the corners. I use to weld them up out of 1/4" x 1" strips, but now have them cut out at a fabrication shop in quantity. On the ones I use at the back, opening is 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" (off top of head) with a 1/4" x 2" x 5" shelf. Essentially same size as a lightweight firebrick. For plugs I cut a firebrick into four pieces.

On my personal forge I seldom pull out the plug. If I want to put a twist in a length of stock I put it crosswise to the front opening. That way heat is pretty well restricted to just the area I need to twist.

A piece of ceramic wool 2' x 2' will be enough to line the inside. For a bottom brick you can go to a place which sells bricks and buy a fireplace (hard clay) brick. Will last a VERY long time, but acts as a heat sink for a while. In my personal forge I just use an firebrick and expect to have to periodically have to replace it.

I suspect your biggest problem in sawing out the opening will be holding the tank. Perhaps you can put it up against a post and secure it with rubber strap-downs.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 07/23/08 10:17:54 EDT

First Propane Forge.

My first forge was a Ron Reil type gas forge. I knew nothing and had very few tools. Ron patiently answered my bonehead questions. At one point I commented that the instructions at his site were skimpy and I had had to fill in a lot of gaps. He replied that this was deliberate and in his opinion an essential quality in smiths was the ability to innovate and overcome obstacles. If you couldnt do this, you shouldnt be smithing. In other words, what Vic said.

To make one of these forges you must have:

Burner + regulator.

Kaowool or equivalent.

ITC 100 or Plistix 900 to coat the inside of the chamber.

The rest is optional. My current forge has no shell and is just a jelly roll of ceramic wool boxed in with the cheap heavy firebrick.

You can use the heavy firebrick to close the front and back and for a hot working surface at the mouth. Its not ideal but it will work. It will not work for the floor of the forge chamber.

These forges are available for absurdly low prices on ebay. The seller being our own Ken Scharabok/Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools. I only see the two burner model there right now but IIRC he also sells a single burner for less. In addition he sells Kaowool in small quantities. You couldnt do better than to start off with one of these forges. It will work right out of the box and I dont think you can build your own for less.

Severe injuries are probably less common in amateur blacksmithing than in woodworking where you work with nasty power tools. However you can count on getting burnt often. Especially at first. Cuts, pinches, bruises, total loss of hair on your left forearm and your eyebrows together with rapid destruction of your clothing are routine
   adam - Wednesday, 07/23/08 10:49:55 EDT

Gas Forge Design: My first gas forge used a blower and it was a trough design similar to one I had seen in a shop in California in 1985. It worked but was a miserable thing. Its outer end surfaces "insulated" by one layer of hard firebrick were so hot in a few minutes it was hard to stand next to long enough to get work in and out and small work would fall into the trough and be nearly impossible to fish out. But it ran really hot and I got the job done I built it for. I scraped that forge after one job.

The next forge I tried to build with the parts was a bottom blown arrangement. I bought a lot of expensive plumbing fittings and did a bunch of experimentation. It was all failures and a lot of exciting blasts of flame reaching the ceiling. . .

My third project was a gas crucible furnace using stacked brick and it had automatic ignition and temperature controls. It worked pretty good and was used for a year or so in a small foundry operation. The auto ignition used a spark coil from a kerosene jet space heater and a modified spark plug. Temperature control was via an ancient mechanical coal furnace control with a huge display and thermocouple.

The next gas forge I was involved in was the infamous 10 minute (maybe 20) gas forge. It was a stacked trough design
with hearth as directed by Grant Sarver and had a blower burner. It worked fairly well but needed insulation outside the bricks.

My next gas forge was built using the principles of the crucible furnace and was also a stacked brick forge. It used a dwell on dwell off system of temperature control or idling. It was an expensive project and semi-successful. It used too much gas and the burner did not have the expected flexibility in enclosure size. It was built to be a life-time forge so it had some expensive construction. The on/off switch was an industrial duty Square D limit switch activated by a heavy bar in guides such that you could slam the switch handle with a hammer or tongs and not abuse the switch. The electronics were housed in a heavy duty NEMA 13 electrical enclosure and the whole built into a sturdy steel stand with a storage shelf underneath. It was an expensive project.

The next furnace I built was a little Freon Can crucible furnace. It used Kaowool lining and a brick floor. It was vented from the hole were the valve was torched out and the top lifted off where it was cut just below the end curve. It used my welded burner with MIG tip. This little furnace was fast and efficient, tool little material and has been used for dozens of melts. Some features were clumsy and I would not build another like it (I've built two). The entire body above the crucible block should lift off. THAT is the wonderful thing about kaowool, lightweight furnace parts.

The next forge/furnace I built used castable refractory in an old propane tank. This was designed to be able to be used horizontal as a forge and flipped vertical to use as a curcible furnace. It was not a good design from a building standpoint. I made a set of fancy wood forms for the castable that had draft and a smooth spiral intake for the burner. Then I cut open the propane tank and found they have a 1" weld flange sticking in where the body is welded at the mid point. This prevented my forms from fitting the way they were supposed to in several simple pieces. I had to chop them up and modify them. Placing the refractory cement did not go smoothly either as I wanted a 1" layer of kaowool behind the hard refractory liner. . . . I managed to finish the project but have not fired it to a forge heat or made use of it. The project was supposed to be an easy conversion of a propane bottle to a flexible handy forge/furnace. . It was not easy nor was the flexibility as convenient as I wanted.

SO, as you can see, not all DIY forges are sucessfull, efficient or come out as planned.

I have helped build other folks gas forges since and have made burners for them. They have worked pretty good. However, the two gas forges currently in my shop are two NC-Tool forges, a Whisper Baby and a Whisper Momma with door and end ports. The piezoelectric ignition on them makes them VERY convenient even though they are not the best general purpose forge designs.

One of the BEST forge ideas I have seen are those using an air curtain in front of the doors. These deflect the dragons breath so that you do not get scorched walking by the forge AND you can put your face practically into the forge if you need.

There are many project variations. If you want sure fire results you use a proven plan and follow it to the letter. If you want to go it on your own and experiment then expect some failures and some expense. Also expect to answer most of your own questions or to get answers you do not like.

Last, many DIY projects cost MORE than just going out and buying what you need. You might THINK it is going to be cheaper but after a few failures, replacement materials, gas in the truck. . . You could have bought a commercial forge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 11:03:21 EDT

I recently made a bell and striker for a customer that wanted it for her yard. Since it is exposed to the weather I painted the stand with Rustoleum, as that has worked for me in the past. My problem is finding a good finish for the bell and striker. Since they are hitting each other, paint would chip. I tried quenching in oil, but after 2 weeks of used they were showing small rust spots. I have thought of powdercoat but i don't have the equipment for it. Any suggestions?
   - Jesse - Wednesday, 07/23/08 11:49:32 EDT

Warning folks about the Dragon's Breath is part of my intro to smithing spiel. I usually demonstrate by waving my arm in front of the opening and showing them the burnt hair. My classes are usually scheduled far enough apart that it grows back befor the next group of beginners. Funny I don't seem to burn myself much anymore; better internalized reflexes for one thing; better tool using for another.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/23/08 12:02:35 EDT

Painting Bells; Jesse:

We have a large old farm bell, and basically I just touch up the clapper and inside edge once every year or two. I suspect no matter what it's coated with, it's going to either chip off or wear away rapidly, according to the use of the bell.

Now, being as it's THE farm bell, and is probably from the mid 19th century, it has taken a long time to cause any actual wear. I did end up reenforcing the hanger-end of the clapper, but neither the bell or the clapper show much in the way of erosion after 150 or so years of use.

An occasional touch-up with Rustoleum is the price she'll have to pay for the sound of the bell; otherwise, it will just have to be kept in a climate-controlled museum storage facility and never rung. ;-)

You could always try bronze?

Others here may have other solutions.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/23/08 12:18:45 EDT

I am still getting the error:
Not Found
The requested URL /cgi-priv/AF_FormMail.pl was not found on this server.

Apache/1.3.37 Server at anvilfire.com Port 80

When I attempt to register for access to the slack-tub-pub portion of the web site. Am I doing something wrong?
   Nate Johnson - Wednesday, 07/23/08 12:33:29 EDT

My suggestion is don't use powder coat for anything other than a location where even bare metal wouldn't rust.(like inside a climate controlled building) Powdercoat is not nearly what it's cracked up to be. It is expensive and it doen't last. Might be good in a desert though.
   John Christiansen - Wednesday, 07/23/08 12:43:31 EDT

Was wondering if you could send me any information on classes that are offered in North Georgia & also Western North Carolina area. Have always wanted to learn how to blacksmith and am looking for information. Thanks!
   Ben Marchman - Wednesday, 07/23/08 12:45:33 EDT

Powder coating not lasting.
I agree with you on that John, but I only have anecdotal evidence for my claims. Do you have any real documentation against it?
One of my local "competitors" is really pushing the stuff and I'd like some hard evidence to hand my clients on why I don't use it.
   JimG - Wednesday, 07/23/08 13:06:00 EDT

Nate, I have recently changed our form processor and missed that link. Will fix momentarily!
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 13:52:47 EDT

Powder Coating: JimG, The guys at BigBLU swore by the stuff for years until work started coming back to them. Give Dean Curfman a call about it. It is also impossible to properly touch up. I do not know how you handle a railing or other large work without accidentally nicking it SOMEWHERE.

I do not know of any documentation on this subject but it MAY be out there. However, industry is (still) in love with PC or believe all the hype. It is a quick dirty finish. It avoids having a paint booth and evaporative emissions worries. It IS better than a sloppy paint job. But I think it is far from a first class multi-step finish.

Try this. ASK your powder coater to warrant his work for period of time. Say 5 years minimum, then ask what it will cost for a 10 year guarantee. Good automotive finishes hold up for 20 years. Shouldn't the finish on architectural hardware last as long or longer?
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 14:18:23 EDT

Classes: Ben, There are two schools in the Western N.C. area, John C. Campbell and Penland. They are on the web and have literature. You can also arrange for private power hammer lessons at Big BLU hammers AND if you or someone you know has a Big BLU they will come to your shop to give lessons (all for a fee of course).

Next year is a Southern Conference year and they usually have classes. It is held in the spring in Madison, GA. Details are not yet posted on their web site.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 14:24:31 EDT

Finishing: Years ago I sold a dragon sculpture (see the iForge demo). I thought I painted it pretty good but I did not have it sand blasted or use proper primers. About 5 years later it needed repairs. I quoted a a full repaint including sand blasting and zinc cold galvanizing. The paint job cost as much as I originally sold the sculpture for ($250).

It is now over 20 years later. The paint job is still holding up but it will not last forever. The original owner's daughter now owns the house and sculpture. I am sure that I will be asked to refinish it ONE MORE TIME in MY lifetime, probably for the grandchildren of the original purchaser. . .

The only other work I did that is outdoors was finished the way I now always recommend (sand blast, pure zinc prime, red oxide lacquer primer and a top coat). The last time I saw them close they were still perfect.

This is why I hammer on you guys about using GOOD long lasting finishes. If you do work in your 20's or 30's a 20 year finish may have to be redone several times during YOUR lifetime. Imagine how often you will get calls about a 5 year (P.C.) finish. . . At some point you could just go into the refinishing business and do nothing else.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 14:38:31 EDT

I was just curious how to place objects such as crystals, quartz, ect. in ring or weapons and such. thank you for you time. Derrick
   Derrick - Wednesday, 07/23/08 14:47:28 EDT

After all the discussion on froges home made and otherwise I was wondering if the Guru and assorted sub-guru's could suggest the top two or three general purpose good for the beginner to intermediate level off the shelf gas forges. Basically the ones that would be good for small to medium sized work. After seeing Josh Greenwood use the one at the Hammerin in NC I've pretty much decided that one of that sort would probably be best for my intentions. Thanks in advance.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 07/23/08 15:16:11 EDT

Can anyone identify a good source of high carbon steel in Helsinki, Finland?

i.e. Steel appropriate for making knives with.

   - Bob - Wednesday, 07/23/08 15:31:55 EDT

Or if US manufacuturers can/will ship to Finland?

   Bob - Wednesday, 07/23/08 15:33:01 EDT

"Last, many DIY projects cost MORE than just going out and buying what you need. You might THINK it is going to be cheaper but after a few failures, replacement materials, gas in the truck. . . You could have bought a commercial forge. "

It's too late now, however, as most of the parts have already been obtained. Or is it?
   mike3 - Wednesday, 07/23/08 18:57:49 EDT

Rating Commercial Gas Forges: This is a bit difficult as you are often comparing apples and oranges.

NC-Tool forges are probably the lowest cost for a forge with doors and piezoelectric ignition. They are followed by ForgeMaster which some claim is a more durable forge. The folks at BigBLU have several Swan forges but they are rather pricey. Swans use a combination venturi and blower burner and run very hot.

Then we have those without built in ignition or doors such as those made by ChileFOrge and Ken's Poorboy Tools. They are proven designs that work but are cheaper and you get less.

Then there are the Mankle open C frame forges. These are well made but are primarily a farrier design.

The forge you saw at our Hammer-In was a 2 burner NC-Tool Whisper Momma which was ordered with two end ports.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 19:24:23 EDT

Mounting Stones: Derrik, This is done much the same way as in jewelery, using little fingers or prongs bent over the stone OR good glue or both. On objects other than rings and fine jewelery glue is often used. A pocket is made for the back of the stone, a little glue introduced and the stone placed. Then solvent used to remove the excess glue.

Its probably the wrong glue but I would use epoxy. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 19:31:53 EDT


I noticed that one of the activities listed for the Ecomuseum in Sweden is a knifemakers' week. It's listed as July 7-13 in Ludvika: http://www.ekomuseum.se/english/activities.html. I guess it's over this year, but maybe you could track down some contacts, and maybe a Swedish source for materials. The Gulf's a little narrower than the Pond. . .
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 07/23/08 20:13:06 EDT

Swedish tool steels are made by www.uddeholm.com
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/23/08 20:40:57 EDT

I need some help on repairing my gas forge, unfortunately I don't remember exactly what I built it from. I got my materials from Darren Ellis. It is a 10" square pipe with kaowool covered with a refractory cement.Probably Satanite. I put an ITC product over it. Over the past couple of years the Satanite has cracked and I guess I will have to recoat it. Which ITC should I get to recoat the Satanite and try to repair the crack in it? BTW: My burner works great-it is made of a pipe with a MIG nozzle. I put the flare in a separate piece of pipe and screwed it onto the long pipe so that I could install it after inserting into the forge. I got a regulator from Ellis and run it off of a 25 lb propane tank. I got the plans from Ron Reil's web site. I still have the plans if anyone needs them. It cost me $5 or so from a plumbing supply house.
   JLW - Wednesday, 07/23/08 20:42:11 EDT

Not burning yourself as much after a time is certainly due to what you say but also I think we get so we just don't feel it as much so minor burns are not noticed.
   philip in china - Wednesday, 07/23/08 21:26:11 EDT

This is what I've been doing. I bring my rails, fence, etc. to the local hot dip plant. They galvanize it, epoxy prime it, then automotive top-coat it for less than the paint would cost me. Since they dip it in acid first, I don't have to sandblast it, tie up the shop waiting for paint to dry, spray noxious fumes in my neiborhood, or pay FIVE times as much for powdercoating, which is far from a lifetime job. The finish I am using may last 50-100 years or more, near the beach. As far as documentation, I have a few friends in powdercoating, but they are not commenting.
   John Christiansen - Wednesday, 07/23/08 21:39:22 EDT

John, You are getting a great service done right.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 22:01:52 EDT

Forge Repairs: JLW, For crack repairs and refractor build up ITC-200 is used over ITC-100. We sell both in all available sizes.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 22:04:39 EDT

ptree, and anyone else that is mindfull of thier personal safety, I would like to relay an insident that happend at work today.
The shop were I work is certainly very roomy but, not everything is as well laid out as it could be, as with most places.
In the department I work in we have a large gun drill that is across the isle from the machine I somtimes run.
While the regular operator is on vacation, the kid that works in the tool crib is running it.
This morning he was set up to drill some one inch holes about 16" long, no big deal. He is uninspired in his work to say the least and today he desides not to put the splash guard over the work piece and hits "GO" anyway.
He did clamp a stop block in behind the work so that when the drill broke through the part the high pressure cutting oil (1000 psi)wouldn't make like a lazer going across the isle. What he didn't know was the size of stop block and number of clamps needed to hold it in place goes up conciderably with that size of drill.
I always do morning chores befor I go to work and this morning I found one of the little barn kitties had gotten into somthing very bad,was suffering for it and, was not going to make it so, being the softie I am I sat with it untill my wife got up a while later. Well this made me about an hour late and when I got to my machine what do I see but 40 gls of synthetic cutting oil that had been blasted right thru my work area (about 40'away)
The force of the stream of oil knocked parts off the bench and drenched the whole area.
If I hadn't stoped to comfort that dieing kitten, I would probably be in the hospital right now, or worse.
Some may brush this off or laugh but, I know of a young mechanic in a semi garage that swallowed a mouth full of hydralic oil when a line blew up in his face and it killed him in about two days.
I appologize to The Guru for the timing of this post but, danger is always out there. My two little boys expect to see daddy come home every night and I must do everything I can to make that happen. STAY SAFE!
   - merl - Wednesday, 07/23/08 23:06:17 EDT

im an amatuer knife maker and bladesmith and random tinkerer and now for heated work im using a normal locking hand vice and im looking at using tongs i use rebar and flat stock and whatever is available what tongs am i looking for? thanks
   - micheal dane - Thursday, 07/24/08 00:03:17 EDT

Best Tongs: Michael, There is no one universal pair of tongs. You need them for every size and shape. "Wolf Jaw" tongs are the closest to "universal" having a pliers like grip but are never a perfect fit. I prefer "Gooseneck Bolt" tongs OR something like Grant Sarver's "Chain Makers" tongs for general work with square and round bar stock. You will want two or three sizes.

There are fairly good close up photos of all these tong jaws on the BlacksmithsDepot web site.

My favorite tongs are some I made years ago that are very similar to the Chain Maker type. They are offset to one side and have a V grip. I use these for anything from 3/8" to 5/8" bar. They were originally made to hold a long taper next to the tongs while the cut off end was forged.

Prior to those above, the tongs I used the most were some medium flat grip tongs with a shallow hollow that fit about 1/2" bar but was spaced for 3/8". These were some antique hand made tongs probably made by a farrier. The rein welds had been broken and repaired and I broke them again. I think my weld is holding up.

When demonstrating I make a LOT of hooks of various types from 1/4" square stock. To make handling easier I made a set of light tongs that fit 1/2" square several ways. The pair that I ended up using the most are those that were most universal. They have a straight channel lengthwise to fit 1/4" but then there was also a cross channel in the back of the jaws that was opened into the other with large radii. These would hold the butt end of a short piece of bar OR after a hook was forged would firmly clamp on the curved section of a hook. All the channels were made in one jaw, the other was flat. I've made thousands of hooks with these.

My favorite commercial tongs are several sets of German bolt makers tongs in sizes from 1/2" to 3/4".

Most of my tongs were bought used when I was poor or I've made my own. If I was running a commercial shop today I would purchase every pair of Grant Sarver's Off Center Tools tongs made. But if I could only afford a pair or two I would go with the offset chain makers type in sizes to fit the stock I use. For flat stock I prefer the farrier's tongs with round hollowed out ends. They seen to grip flat the best.

The thing to remember (at least in your own shop) is that blacksmiths adjust tongs to fit on the fly. THAT is what blacksmithing is about. If your tools don't fit it only takes seconds to MAKE them fit.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/08 08:33:57 EDT

SAFETY: Merl, You had a very happy "accident". Lucky you were not there. I have a surface grinder that occasionally a small piece will shoot of like a bullet. . . the splash guard on the machine is more than just a splash guard.

Often there are people that you just DO NOT want to work around. We had a guy in our shop that was like watching a Laurel and Hardy comedy. He would be the guy on a small platform with a bunch of others and the do a 180 while holding a long bar or ladder horizontally, or turn on a hose or air line without checking to see if there was something on the far end. . .

The worst of these guys end up hurting or killing others. In the least they break machinery. In either case they need a different job. We talked to the guy in our shop about looking before leaping and the safety of others and he got better for a while. But we SHOULD have fired him.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/08 08:44:40 EDT

Derrik I have a large dagger with a stone mounted in the pommel. The pommel was shaped with two incurving "horns" and the stone is mounted between them so it's protected. It is a faceted stone and was mounted in a typical four pronged jewelry mount that was hard soldered to a stainless screw that screws into a tapped hole so it's easy to remove/replace/clean, etc.

Finding if a local community college offers a jewelry making course might help.

Note that crystals were not typically found on European medieval swords though. (Actually I can't think of a single example).

Some caveats on mounting them on swords: do not mount them on the bladeside of a guard where you would expect other swords to impact them. Try to inset them so that they are protected by the surrounding material. Do not make them interfere with holding or using the blade.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/24/08 10:53:58 EDT

As guru pointed out, you can make your tongs fit by heating them. The reins will change when the jaws change, so they will be adjusted also. If you're starting with flat stock, I like the idea of using box tongs. Blacksmith's Depot shows a double box, but a single jaw box would work. Its advantage is that it keeps the work from twisting; keeps it in line with the tong length.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/24/08 11:17:28 EDT


another junk tard steel would be either ball joints from front control arms or ball bearings from front wheel drive axles.

these are very tuff steels and are good material for knives.

with the alloys in them and used with leaf/coil spring steel you should get good contrast.
   boss - Thursday, 07/24/08 12:11:27 EDT

Tongs Reins: Commercial or self made, tong reins need to be springy in order to grip properly. Many of the old tongs found in flea markets and elsewhere are what I call "farmers tongs". In fact most were trade school student tongs. These are often heavy cludgy tongs that have no spring and are practically useless.

The springyness is important so that you can grip the work and the tongs not lose grip due to shock. It is also less tiring to hold tongs that have a nice spring to them than tongs that clamp hard and have no spring. Spring is also necessary if you use tong rings.

Good tongs have reins proportional to their length and the size stock they are designed to grip. As the work size goes up the tongs get longer so that the heavier reins are still springy.

As Frank noted above, you also need to adjust their shape to be a comfortable grip after adjusting the jaws.

While you should always find the best fitting tongs and adjust them as needed you should NEVER do so in someone else's shop unless you ask first. Mangling a smiths favorite pair of tongs or a those that fit a repeat job JUST RIGHT will make you a persona non-grata in that shop. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/08 12:18:56 EDT

   ROGER BOHLS - Thursday, 07/24/08 14:17:54 EDT

Roger, Anywhere from $25 to $150. If its to a collector the board it is mounted on is a part of the drill and increases the value. The one in the picture is on an original board from a larger drill press, the column has been extended and grease cups added.

Please note that all-caps is considered yelling on the Internet and that web addresses are case sensitive. Spaces do not replace underscores.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/08 14:48:42 EDT

Adam-- good hearing from you again!!
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/24/08 21:35:09 EDT

The worst part of the whole incident was he didn't know how to shut the machine off (didn't know what the E- stop was) and then after spending 4 hours cleaning up the mess and setting up the next part, he was going to run the dam thing with out the guard again!!
I hope to be working from my own shop by mid winter...
   - merl - Thursday, 07/24/08 22:58:42 EDT

Back when I was still making all my own tongs, I made the reins for small andmedium tongs from 3/8" rebar. That has enough carbon content to let you get a good spring in them while maintaining low weight. The surface ribbing gives a good grip when wearing gloves, too.

Now that I am making my living smithing, I simply cannot afford the time to make any tongs that I can buy ready-made. I contribute frequently to the Grant Sarver Retirement Fund. (grin) I get mainly the gooseneck V-bit tongs, but also several others. For those oddball jobs where a dedicated pair of tongs is required, I still make my own.
   vicopper - Thursday, 07/24/08 23:11:02 EDT

Just a heads-up there is a very nice (rebuilt) 25 LB Little Giant currently on eBay. Seller will put it on a pallet and deliver it to a freight company. Were I interested I would have it delivered to local farmers' co-op, who would accept delivery on my behalf and then load it on my truck. Nice to have a resource like that. For those yearning for a small powerhammer suggest a look. eBay 150274816565.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/25/08 04:59:29 EDT

My favorite tongs at the moment are some of Grant's V-box types. Gooseneck, one jaw is a box, the other is a V-bit that fits inside the rim of the box jaw. They'll hold any shape or size that fits in the box.
   Alan-L - Friday, 07/25/08 11:04:00 EDT

Merl, Having had my share of oil baths, I have learned that I REALLY hate oilbaths. I hate old rank coolant slime even worse. I have had a head to toe bath in coolant slime and I am usually gag proof, but that was a close one.

High pressure fluids can hurt you in several ways. Pressure around 2500 psi and above, if from a small orifice can go subcultanous, and can cut tissuse well. And of course the fluid is seldom sterile and benign, so infection and toxic reaction can be utterly bad. Large volume high velocity stream can just plain sweep one away, and into things with great force.

I used to design hydrostatic test machines for production test, and those routinely worked up to 10,500psi. I trained the operators to NEVER touch or get body parts within 2" of anything under pressure. I had a pinhole leak in a weld item that I kept for the training. At 3" one only felt a mist but at 1/4" that 10,500psi would slice cardstock, and leave the edges dry! Showed that to every operator. Had one operator testing at 10,5000 see a leak and trip as he moved to look closer. He reached out to catch himself, his hand hit a wet surface and slipped against the leak. He injected his second finger through the fingernail cuticle, and raised a bump about the size of a teaspoon bowl. Ran him to the doctor who lanced it and indeed water and blood gushed out. Lots of antibiotics and he kept the finger.

I also advise folks to never touch or move a pressurized hose, as pinhole can open when they are moved.

If you are working with pressurized stuff, touch something and feel a buzz and burn, get thee to the doctor ASAP.

I used to burst test things at pressures to 33,500psi. Great fun and very signifcant bangs when the items failed. Sometimes thing rattled about in the test cell as well:)
   ptree - Friday, 07/25/08 18:23:26 EDT

Very good warning about pin hole leaks in high pressure systems ptree.A Freind was a lifetime heavy equipment mechanic. Reached his hand under a plate on a running backhoe. The ensuing infection severely worsened an already devasting injury.
   John Christiansen - Friday, 07/25/08 18:36:39 EDT

I just reread Hrisoulas' book, the Complete Bladesmith. In it he talks about making a railroad rail anvil and has instructions on hardening the face. What is the guru's opinion on this?
   JLW - Friday, 07/25/08 21:46:49 EDT

JLW, I have several of his books but not the Complete Bladesmith so it is difficult to comment.

Railroad Rail is relatively high carbon, about 75 points and will harden very hard. Flame hardening should suffice.

Note that we have several RR-rail anvil designs in our anvil series and we do not recommend the typical length of track anvil.
   - guru - Friday, 07/25/08 22:27:08 EDT

Weygers gives detailed instructions on hardening RR tracks for anvils, too, but the consensus hereabouts is short sections are best used standing straight up to get max benefit of mass. Weygers, by the way, believed you can use ANYTHING as an anvil. Our ancestors used big rocks and pounded upon them, no doubt, with other big rocks. I think sometimes more effort is concentrated on tools than on what they produce.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/25/08 22:46:29 EDT

Anything as an Anvil: In years long past I tried using the heaviest things in our shop at the time for an anvil. The best piece was a big angle weldment made of 3/4" plate. It seemed very heavy at the time. . . I worked with it lying on a concrete slab. It would bounce about a foot off the ground with each blow! I started searching for a REAL anvil more seriously after that.

Typical RR-rail anvils are not much better and bounce just about as good. But if you are doing very small work they suffice. I was forging tongs from RR-spikes. I made them and parts for my forge with a GREAT deal of effort using that angle plate while squatting on the ground. But they were VERY costly forgings in time required, probable loss of hearing and the danger presented by a flying "anvil".

You use what you can find but understanding that you need compact mass and mass in line with the force of the blow makes a big difference. I was at a fellows farm once and he had a huge piece of H beam with about 5/8" thick flanges he had put legs on and fashioned into an anvil. It was more likely to bend than to let more than 10% of your effort go into your work. It was bouncier than my angle weldment but the bounce went into the work and the hammer. Beams are designed for the maximum strength with the minimum steel. It is their nature NOT to have compact mass. This is what makes them and RR-rail lousy anvils.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/26/08 02:05:03 EDT

Well, all, I am back. The spinal fusion went fine and I have another 6 weeks of recovery to look forward to. However, I can walk without pain! Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers from everyone.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/26/08 10:37:19 EDT

Saw an interesting anvil yesterday. London pattern, marked PETER WRIGHT (PETER is centered over WRIGHT about 2 below the face) and 2 1 2, faint but legible. Beautiful, right? But a couple things puzzle. Instead of 254, it weighed in at something under 220 lbs, and it certainly wasnt in bad enough shape to have lost 34 plus pounds over the years. Edges well worn but only one chip. Far edge is worn at an angle starting about 1 from the edge over most of its length. Rest of the edges worn to between 1/8 and 3/8 radius, except the heel, which is practically new. Face is sway-backed about 1/8 or slightly more over its 19-plus inch length. Ball bearing test averages 60 percent, higher on the heel and near the horn, lower in the center. Ring is more of a clank, what a musician would call a lot of attack and a little sustain, like a banjo rather than a guitar. Face is 5 wide at the heel, 4 7/8 at the other end, 19 3/8 long. Overall length is just over 29. The horn strikes me as weird, too. Its just about round for half its length (near the point) and slightly oval nearer the table. Point is very dull and round, about radius in both dimensions, but does not look at all as if it is worn or deformed to this shape. It is also sharply upturned, 1/2 over its length so that the point is only about 1/8 below the level of the face. Hardy hole is 1 3/8 (below the area of wear) and the pritchel hole is , and shows almost no wear. Handling holes about 1 sq front and rear at the waist, and front only about x in the front foot. 1 sq hole dead center in the bottom.

So a couple of questions arise: first the weight marks: are they correctly placed? The 1 is dead center, and the 2s are about an inch from the edges. No dots. Why the weight discrepancy? Did Peter Wright ever use the American weight system, say for export? Could it be a forgery by someone who didnt understand the British hundredweight system? What about the shape? Almost difference in width front to rear, and that rounded, upturned point dont look like other Peter Wrights I have used. Rebound is not great AM I nuts or is something wrong here? Is this the real deal or should I be suspicious? I might use this with the tommy hammer I am building, but I dont think I want to beat on this thing all day by hand . Any suggestions?
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 07/26/08 12:07:23 EDT

Peter, lots of questions. There is ONE dealer on ebay that is known to mark all kinds of things Peter Wright. .

PW's have a clear sustained ring unless there is a really bad face weld (separation). They most distinguishing feature besides a generally beautiful shape is flats across the front and back of the feet making a clamping ledge. All but the earliest PW's had this feature. All PW's are marked in the hundredweight system.

Since the 2 in the English system means 224 pounds and the MINIMUM the other numbers could represent is 12 pounds there is 12 or more pounds missing (34 if you are correct). that is a LOT of iron. Something is wrong or very fishy.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/26/08 13:04:54 EDT

I am going to try to motorize my post drill press. It is a Champion 200 with a ratchet feed. It is equipped with an 11 inch wheel for a line shaft. I am going to make a platform for a 1/2 or 3/4 1760 rpm motor with a 2" pulley. The platform will be hinged to allow the weight of the motor to tension the belt. I am told that v belts will track ok on the wide belt-pulley. I have been warned that it is a bad idea to put my fingers in the gearing while it is working so I am planing some sheilding to avoid the nickname "stumpy."I have calculated that it should run at about 320 rpms, which should be about right.
   JLW - Saturday, 07/26/08 20:14:19 EDT

Peter Hirst, this anvil is not being sold by a slippery fellow who claims to have bought a house and found a bunch of these in the garage is it? I thought Johnny8Acres was back with a new scam. This sounds like a Peter Wrong.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/26/08 20:19:05 EDT

Hello Peter

Peter Wright Anvil:

I am unable to find said anvil on ebay. Could you provide an ebay item number. The two before mentioned ebay anvil scammers do not have such an anvil listed. Sounds like a case of a novice mis identifying an american anvil for an english anvil. I doubt any tricky is going on. We would need you to provide a valid number to really give you proper advise. I did see an american much lighter anvil said to be a Wright. Notably just a lack of anvil knowledge and nothing more.

Futhermore, I do not think it to be proper to jump to conclusions without seeing the evidence.
   - Rustystuff - Saturday, 07/26/08 20:40:43 EDT

Peter Hirst: Bear in mind the stampings were put in while the anvil was still hot, likely by the lowest paid, newest employee. They could have simply applied the wrong stamp(s) or incorrectly translated actual pounds to stone weight.

I've seem them with part of the logo upside down, such as M&H in a Mousehole. On one listing guy said he had a TTIH anvil. HILL upside down. I recall seeing one where apparently they used the wrong stamp on the middle number, so added pounds over 28 to the last number.

Anvils at that time were sold by the pound. If the stampings are being read correct, seller took the buyer for a bit of money.

Also, in the case of Mousehold apparently the anvils made during the week were all heat treated on the same day. Likely a hot and steamy environment with a tavern just at the top of the hill.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 07/26/08 20:44:24 EDT

HUZAH for QC! welcome back, do your physical therapy!(all of it)
Peter Hirst, what is this "tommy hammer" you're making?
   - merl - Saturday, 07/26/08 22:15:31 EDT

Thanks QC. A Peter Wrong must be the correct name for a fake PW.

Pleased to hear you are doing OK.
   philip in china - Sunday, 07/27/08 07:27:45 EDT

Good news Quenchcrack. Do the Physical Torture and get really better!

Peter Wrong, Is the name given to the hollow sheet metal anvil that is taken to various hammer-ins by Bad Rodger from Mn, Its a complete fake. Looks to weigh about 250# and is actually about 10#. He also has a similar swage block.
   ptree - Sunday, 07/27/08 07:33:12 EDT

Rustystuff, jumping to conclusions is about all the exercise I get right now.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/27/08 08:12:35 EDT

What's the documentation on Mousehole heat treating a weeks worth of anvils on the same day?
Wouldn't it be better to heat treat them as they were made to avoid the waste of heat having to bring 200+pounds of metal back to heat?
   JimG - Sunday, 07/27/08 09:16:16 EDT

JimG, In that time furnaces were not as advanced as now, more a extra big kiln, probably easier to load it up cold, and then fire it, and then extract the anvils for quench.
   ptree - Sunday, 07/27/08 14:30:43 EDT

JimG: Best I remember batch harden came from a conversation with Richard Postman. In Mousehole Forge, chapter on The Making of a Mousehole Anvil, he discusses the process but not the timing.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 07/27/08 15:18:42 EDT

Greetings all!
Iam writing to ask for some help/education on how to forge a pine cone. All searches on the web have run dry, and I don't have the time or funds to sign up for an advanced forging class with an older, wiser or more experienced smith.

Iam about to go out there in the smithy and try out my own ideas A=hot chiseling into thick stock , B= a million hand forged pine cone scales welded to a stem, or C="What the hell, let's see if this works, since the other attempts didn't!"
Thanks for any info you good folks may have,
Frau Klug
   FrauKlug - Sunday, 07/27/08 16:27:27 EDT

ptree, it would suprise me if they were heated in a kiln instead of a forge. Was the entire anvil heated to cherry read? or just the face? How much water was used to quench it? Seems to me I've seen mention here of the entire contents of a water tower (how many gallons was the tower?)low long did it take to pump the tower back full? To me logic says they would have been heat treated as they were compleated, but then...when were they ground and surfaced? before or after heat treating... so many questions, so few time machines...
   JimG - Sunday, 07/27/08 17:21:22 EDT

Contact swaba.abana-chapter.com and click on members to locate Bob Curtis. Bob has demonstrated making pine cones for the Southwest blacksmith.
   - FrauKlug - Sunday, 07/27/08 18:23:47 EDT

Sorry FrauKlug. That last message was from me.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/27/08 18:24:58 EDT

JimG: I believe it was Columbus Forge & Iron who used the watertower. According to the book, Mousehole Forge, they diverted water from a water wheel.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 07/27/08 23:31:03 EDT


Sometime in the past five or so years there was an article about making pine cones in The Hammer's Blow, or possibly The Anvil's Ring. A bit of research on the ABANA website should turn up which issue of which publication. As I recall, the procedss involved making a swage to form a batch of scales and then welding them all together to form the cone. The same person also did pine needles that were perfect, too.
   vicopper - Monday, 07/28/08 02:40:31 EDT

Pine Cones: ONE method of making a pine cone is to start with a strip of steel about 1/2" wide by 1/8" thick. Then by either forging or sawing or both, creating an edge that looks like pointed pine cone scales. There are many types so you may want to do some research here. After shaping the strip it is tack welded to the tip of a tapered "stem" or core and then hot wound around the stem occasionally tack welding the strip.

There are two ways to vary the shape of the pine cone.
To make a very full pine cone the core can be shaped to be fat in the middle and pointed on the ends. OR the strip to be wound around the core can be tapered so that it is wider in the middle than the ends.

The character of the strip will dewternine the charater of the cone.

Using this method you can make very mature old open cones or mearly full cones. To make tight young cones that have not opened I would use a half round punch to create the points and start with a shaped and annealed blank. Look at the shape of rasp teeth.
   - guru - Monday, 07/28/08 09:44:41 EDT

Guru, quench, Ken Rusty et al. Thanks for the feed back. THis anvil is not on ebay: I saw it and muscled it around a bit live and in person. In order to be a stamping error, it would have to have been incorrectly weighed by 30 plus pounds or stamped wrong twice. Both seem pretty unlikely. Are there other exapmles of genuine but badly mismarked Peter Wrights, Ken or are you speculating? And: you sure abut stamping hot? These marks are very shallow, especially the Peter Wright name certainly fainter than I could stamp cold in good iron with my set. No, definitley no clamping shelf on the feet.
   Peter Hirst - Monday, 07/28/08 14:59:22 EDT

Peter Hirst, Without the shelves (ledges), it might be a (har de har) Pedro Derecho anvil. Do the letters have serifs? Without serifs, the stamps are recent, well into the 20th and 21st centuries.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 07/28/08 16:19:29 EDT

Peter Hirst: I'm going to have to back off here and talk again to Richard Postman.

Anyone here know what type of scale English anvil makers would have used? Was it a 'steelyard' type scale where stone weights were added until it was balanced?
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 07/28/08 17:15:18 EDT

ANvil Markings: Anvils were marked cold (there are about twenty reasons). They are marked with heavy sledges and are shallow just for that reason. The scale, I've written on this, would have used weights in the hundreweight system. I it only takes five weights to make every value from 1 to 27. Then three or more 28 pound weights are used. Platform scales and steel yards use almost the same mechanical system one is just not as portable. PW and Mousehole were working well into the platform scale era. But that does not mean they used them.

I've never seen or heard of weights missmarked on an anvil any more than a few pounds and this was often when there was a HUGE amount of wear on the anvil (horn tips tend to get broken off and redressed). Also, you cannot trust a bathroom scale +/- about 5 pounds or much more at top weights and that is what many people are comparing too. Then there are the cast anvils where the marking in round figures is in the pattern and the anvil never actually weighed. . .

AND THAT is one possibility in this case, that the anvil was weighed on an inaccurate modern scale.

On anvil markings I have seen, owned for a short while, an M&H Armitage "second". A cold chisel was used to obliterate the M&H Armitage lettering but you could still make it out. The weight and the rest were left. Not sure why seconded but the face sloped to one side about 1/8" and if you put a straight edge on the face it was out of flat lengthwise (a sway) about 1/16" or less. Good anvil, owner traded it and 75$ for an identical one I had with a flat face.

As to Serifs on punches. . . There is a very bad forger on ebay that often marks "Peter Wright" on thing with modern punches. . . However, I have most of several old sets that have serifs. So it is not impossible. A really GOOD forger could also hand cut the serifs. But there ARE other ways to detect the use of modern stamps.

You see lots of ancient anvils with dates and decorative markings. It is speculated that some owner did this somewhere in the past as folk art decorations were once common on such items. However, this is a reason to be very careful about cleaning rust off an anvil.
   - guru - Monday, 07/28/08 18:07:34 EDT

I've long wondered why the second "digit" on English anvils is in 28# quarter hundred weight (which, as far as I've seen, is not a common unit of measure), instead of 14# stones (which is). I guess maybe it's easier to nail down the two left-hand places with only 28# weights, and then just worry about the right-most number. Still not really much of an explanation, though . . .
   Mike BR - Monday, 07/28/08 21:50:16 EDT

Mike BR, I was educated (at least they tried) in England in the sixties. Then we learnt the Cwt, qtr, lb system and it was used on most heavy industrial products. I have said before the weight of Chubb safes (and some others) used to be struck into the top edge of the door using the system. I don't think most things were weighed accurately. They knew how much a particular size of something should weigh and marked it accordingly. In a country not ruled by lawyers for lawyers it was not considered material that such a measure should be accurate to a pound. After all if your safe (read anvil) weighs 5 pounds more or less so what? Probably many earlier manufacturers had to weigh each anvil as a batch was made. Each one being individually made would lead to more pronounced disparities in weight.
   philip in china - Monday, 07/28/08 23:25:18 EDT

im joining the Society of Creative Anachronism which by the way if you want o be a medeival smith and dress up and play the style and do the sword fighting and fencing u should look into at SCA.org ( im not advertising for them or anything i swear) anyway sorry i want to make a round tripod of rebar for a stainless wok i have for a very light portable forge about an 8th to 4th thick (tapers outward) would this work for a while? and i have a 3/4 thick mild steel plate would that work for the concrete mounted anvil in the plans? oh and its a coal forge
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 07/29/08 02:34:30 EDT

Anvil Weights - Three points:

1) The way old wrought anvils were manufactured (built up from scrap and odd pieces) the weight was whatever it came out to be. Odd values were the result with 138, 246, 317. . . being typical and in a large group you could pick almost any weight you wanted. However, vise manufacturers of the time made vices in 5 and 10 pound increments that were exact (within +/-1). They either used exact dimension stock to start with or weighed the stock first. Since they worked with predetermined bar sizes and fairly tight dimensions it is probably a combination of the two.

2) Wrought British anvils were sold by the pound in International trade and marked in pounds (using the hudredweight system) to a single whole unit.

3) Thousands of British anvils have been weighed on modern scales and the vast majority of marked weights are within the tolerance of the smallest unit used (+/- 1). Those with major wear and tear are rarely less than 2 pounds from the marked weight.

From this we know that wrought British anvils were carefully weighed to within a pound using a set of weights calibrated for trade (one of the oldest trade certifications), then marked accordingly.

All cast anvil thus most modern anvils are sold by their theoretical weight which is often cast into the pattern to values no more accurate than +/- 10 pounds or 5 kgs.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 08:02:31 EDT

Pinecones: Saw Bill Epps makd pine cones out of farrier rasps. Looked very realistic. I would think that allowing a cast or forged anvil to cool to room temperature then re-heating it to hardening temperature would reform the austenite at a lower temperature, creating finer grains. This would improve toughness.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 07/29/08 08:28:09 EDT

Forges and anvils: Jacob, Your SCA compatriots are going to sneer at you modern rebar texture as definitely being modern. As a metal worker you should do better. The center of the wok is probably not that thick. It is not a particularly good shape for a forge. And . . What plans for a concrete mounted anvil?

Forges of the era were side blown with a bellows.

In side blown forges of the time clay or mud was often used to line the forge to shape a fire pot to focus and control the fire. Imagine an impression in the clay made by standing on your head with you eyes just barely peaking out.

Portable forges (if used at all) were more box like, made of wood with a thin steel plate floor and the sides covered with sheet steel. Sand, ashes, dirt or whatever could be found were used as insulation to reduce charing and burning of the wood. Water would be used as well to control burning.

A good heavy sledge hammer in the 15 to 20 pound range would be more than enough anvil for an itinerant smith of the time. The same are used all over impoverished parts of the world today. Carve a recess in a stump for the upper half to stick out of.

There were many itinerant craftsfolk of the time that used small forges. Locksmiths, brass workers and jewelers. Most used a pit forge (dug a hole in the ground) but MIGHT have used a table top forge if small enough. Those, including smiths that used pit forges worked on the ground.

For photo of a smith working in such a forge see our book review of Locks of Iran.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 08:33:10 EDT

TFS Anvil Material: From the horses mouth. .
In regards to the TFS anvils and the processes that are incorporated, I have contacted both the manufacturer and the foundry regarding your concerns about the iron used in making these anvils.

TFS began making anvils in a partnership with Dan Roberts who originally had the Patent on the 80-55-06 Ductile. Dan Roberts had been making quality anvils since the late 60’s; they were made from an iron blend with 80-55-06 ductile as the base. TFS, working with a U.S. foundry, further developed the blend and heat treating method. The base metals are audited for size and chemistry and every ladle of iron is checked with spectrometers to maintain consistency and quality assurance. The actual formula for the iron is a proprietary blend, using 80-55-06 ductile as the base. Every anvil goes through a special heat treating process to achieve the metallurgy required, and the anvils are tested for hardness and then hand finished.

Delta Horseshoe Company sells over 1,000 TFS anvils a year into the world market, with the major share going into the demanding farrier industry. These anvils are used daily and, while other tools are worn and being replaced, most farriers use the same anvil throughout their career. Delta takes pride in all of the products we distribute; we stand behind the quality and guarantee the products. Should anyone need a more in depth explanation of the TFS anvils, please feel free to have them contact me directly.

Dane K. Osborn, Purchasing Manager

On looking up standard 80-55-06 Ductile its strength is greater than high grade cast iron and in the middle of mild steel (we knew that). Heat treated hardness is given as 50HRc minimum with variations to as much as 61HRc. For more consistant heat treating alloy 100-70-03 is recommended.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 09:22:50 EDT

Versions of Early Medieval Portable Forges; Jacob:

Usually it would barely be more sophisticated than a pair of bellows, a tuyere (shield) stone, and a hole in the dirt.

The anvils are only about 11 pounds (5 kilos) or a little more. We've also used granite (and we're looking for basalt) as stone anvils for the rough forming, but you really need a metal anvil for the finish work. All of this, of course, is for a field expedient shop; the home shop would have been much more substantial.

Also, please note that it take at least two people to efficiently operate these forges, and preferable three- one to pump the bellows (carefully); one to tend the fire (you go through a LOT of chunk charcoal when you're working- and they would almost always have been using charcoal, mineral coal was a rarity until the later middle ages); and the third to actually work the metal.

Here are some setups from various reenactments and displays.




Another “triple-H” day on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/29/08 09:57:37 EDT

What are "sky hooks"? Is it a joke like the pyramid frame? Someone asked me and I couldn't give them an answer.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/29/08 10:07:43 EDT

i was looking at the anvil making index and saw the concrete filed anvils and read that they "work" but i have two 3/4 inch thick carbon steel plates that ar 12"x6" how could i mount a decent way those for not to high a price
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 07/29/08 10:46:14 EDT

Sky Hook: Nip, Its a crane, usually one you do not have or no support for, so being rhetorical or ironic its a "sky hook."

Use of a helicopter to move loads is often called a sky hook as well and is technically correct.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 11:13:14 EDT

actually i have the 55 lbs cast iron anvi from harbor freight could i cut ou and braze one of the plates to that?
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 07/29/08 11:13:31 EDT

Jacob; welcome to the SCA, I've been in it for 30 years come this fall and started bringing forges to events around 1981.
What Kingdom are you in? I'm currently in the Outlands and have lived in the Middle, Calontir, Meridies, and Ansteorra as well.

May I suggest you consult "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel" for period pictures of period forges and tidbits like when they first started using coal. Written by Gies & Gies and very readable if not completely scholarly stringent and a great "starter book"

Note that for a "portable forge" a stack of turves or a campfire is much more likely and I'll twit the guru as sheet steel dates to pretty much after the 1850's for mild steel. it was real wrought iron previously as he well knows!

I'd suggest starting with real chunk charcoal rather than coal; almost any improvised forge can be made to run on charcoal well and as was mentioned it is the correct fuel for all of the middle ages and renaissance with "earth coal" or "sea coal" only coming in the high middles ages and not everywhere by any means. nb: the term coal in the middle ages refered to charcoal making for some confusion when reading early sources.

Of course mild steel also dates pretty much to after the ACW so you will be working the "wrong material" most of the time anyway. Real wrought iron works a bit different and most folks are not willing to pay for the increased cost and effort to be accurate.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions about smithing in the SCA

SKA wilelm the smith OL, OE, OSO, OLM, OST, Ei, EI, O
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/29/08 11:17:34 EDT

philip? When they were attempting to educate you, did you happen to learn what stone was used and why it is 14 pounds?
   JimG - Tuesday, 07/29/08 11:27:07 EDT

thomas im only 15 and havent joined yet but absolutely cant wait me and one of my best buddies are gonna do it im from waco tx so im from the shire of emerald keep in Ansteorra and whats your email because i have lots of questions
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 07/29/08 11:34:55 EDT

i know im asking alot of question i hope not too many but in texas there is alot of flat limestone, would it take the heat of a forge if u dont know should i heat up a peice of limestone and stand back and see what happens
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 07/29/08 11:57:36 EDT

Anvil Construction: Jacob, There are two rules to anvil construction, the mass should be compact and it should be in line with the hammer blows. So a small efficient anvil is a tall anvil much like the stake anvil in the Locks of Iran photo.

The best use of your plate is on end welded together to make a 1-1/2" x 6" face. Then it would want to be well supported, over half in a stump or block. The problem here is that the welds are on the face and in shear on the sides. Unless very heavily welded the welds would fail from use.

The next best use is to cut the plates into thirds 4x6 and weld five pieces side by side under one piece. This would make a flanged anvil with a 3.75" x 6 base and 4 x 6 face.

Both methods require heavy welds with 45 degree weld preps 90% of the way across the 3/4" edges and then multiple weld passes to make it solid. In both cases the anvil will have a dull "clack" when struck due to the layers. But they would be reasonably solid.

The concrete filled anvils made by Daniel Boettger have ribs welded from the center of the fairly heavy top plate to which the exterior was welded. It is not just a hollow box filled with concrete.

To make a concrete filled anvil you are going to need some more steel in the form of plate to create ribs and the outside. To use the 3/4" plate for the face I would use one piece then weld the other on end to the center of the first. This would make a well supported "sweet spot" in the center of the face. Then you want ribs welded to this part and the face to the corners and then plate fitted to the ribs. Any place that you could add pieces of bar (square round or re-bar) or ribs from the face plate to the center 3/4" "spine" would increase the strength. You also want to criss-cross the interior with bars to anchor the whole together when filled with concrete. Even old bolts will make good anchors in this case.

When placing the concrete mix with as little water as possible. Amateurs tend to make soupy weak concrete. It is good to have some method to settle the concrete. Professionals use a vibrator designed for the purpose. You can repeatedly hammer the outside of the form/container to help move bubbles out and to wet the surface. Pumping a rod such as a broom handle in and out of the concrete will also help settling. Applying an air hammer to the center rib would shake the concrete and help it settle.

Concrete with reinforcing agents such as fiber glass chop or plastic strands (chopped polypropylene rope) would help reduce cracking anc crumbling in this case.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 12:07:00 EDT

Sky Hooks-
This is also the product name of a small crane that bolts onto the cross slide of a lathe, for changing the chuck. They cost about $500, and will lift 500lbs. If you ask a machinist, that is a SkyHook to them.
Boeing is doing R&D on a cargo blimp called a SkyHook, and there is also a movie by the same name, about basketball in Yugoslavia.
But my guess is the Guru is right, and it refers to an impossible lift.

   - Ries - Tuesday, 07/29/08 12:35:21 EDT

Limestone: NO, it will not take heat. Any sedimentary rock has some water bound into it. Limestone has the most of any rock. Heating it makes steam and the rock spalls or explodes.

Igneous rock is what you want for an anvil. As Bruce specifically mentioned, Granite and basalt are good choices. Granite in nice cut slabs can be gotten from memorial makers. They often have broken or defaced scrap pieces. Many have hard polished surfaces. Black granite is the strongest and pink is the hardest.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 12:37:22 EDT


Something I do for the kids, grandkids, and great grandkids, is to make a sky hook. It's a piece of wood maybe 1/2' x 1" x 6" with an acute angled vee notch cut in one end. You take your leather belt and sandwich it in the notch so that it is balanced. You put the non-notched end at the edge of a table or ledge, and if the belt is angled a little back toward the ledge, the hook will not fall off the edge. It's fun to tap it and watch it rock up and down, still not falling. Kids love it, especially if they see you carve the notch and use your own belt.

This is also done with two intertwined fork tines and tooth picks. I'll betcha' it's on the internet somewhere, maybe not called a sky hook. That's our Missouri hillwilliam name for it.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/29/08 13:38:29 EDT

could you guys tell me where to find some decent casting sand that not to high
   - michael lunder - Tuesday, 07/29/08 14:13:32 EDT

Just a reminder: 80-55-06 Ductile Iron has an minimum 80,000 psi tensile strength, 55,000 minimum yield strength, and 6% mimimum elongation under load. A cast steel product could be made with the same tensile and yield strength but probably have 2-3 times more ductility. Round the edges of the anvil or wear your leathers. Yes, a very servicable anvil. So why don't you finish the gates better? I can find every gate on my anvil because it was given a quick hit with a grinder. If you take pride in your anvils, make them look like you do!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 07/29/08 15:04:36 EDT

Michael, Try Budget Casting Supply.

Depending on the material being cast you want Petrobond for large castings or Delft Clay for fine jewelery casting.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 15:13:18 EDT

QC, Personally I think anvil manufacturers should also round corners to the best use for the material. The chipping evident on every Kohlswa I have had indicated they needed a considerable radius to prevent the chipping. They do not release the material but it is very hard.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 15:17:26 EDT

In another life, it seems like about a hundred years ago, I was a sign painter. Occasionally, we used block and tackle on each side of a long scaffold platform to paint signs on the sides of buildings. Large hooks were used to 'hook' over the top of brick buildings (flat roofs). If I recall correctly, those hooks were called sky hooks.
   - djhammerd - Tuesday, 07/29/08 17:00:01 EDT

Well... It wasn't quite a hundred years ago. It was the mid 1960's. It just seems like a hundred years ago.
   - djhammerd - Tuesday, 07/29/08 17:01:15 EDT

I spent part of the weekend forge welding a stack of L6 and O1 for a knife blank and have concluded that I will never be young or strong enough to enjoy hammering that by hand. I have been investigating alternatives and want to build a hydraulic press. I can get an old log splitter and run it on electric but I dont know how to go about engineering the frame. How heavy does it have to be to take the stresses of forging knife/sword size billets? Can the guru make some suggestions of how to go about this?
   JLW - Tuesday, 07/29/08 18:13:02 EDT

Jiom G,
No. I often wondered such things myself. Whose foot etc?This thread will go nowhere so I suggest we kill it now.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 07/29/08 19:17:48 EDT

I have a couple of those sky hooks, real wrought iron and forge welded to make the part for the board to fit in; must be close to a hundred years old. Nice arc on top with blunt pyramid ends.

Picked them up at a fleamarket and have had them on the WI pile ever since.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/29/08 19:24:21 EDT

Whose foot, whose thumb: Once upon a time, long long ago. . . Scale drawings made in the 1300's that have a foot and inches scale on them compare exactly with modern units.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 19:57:45 EDT

Press frames: JLW, They are based on deflection at the full load stall point of the force producing device. The load is multiplied by the distance from the center of the beam as compared to the side of the beam. You need lots of specifics THEN you determine what parameters to use (how much deflection) and then select a beam to suit.

If all you want to do is draw out billets I suggest the McDonald Rolling Mill. Small, smooth, quiet, low horsepower. Look at the video.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 20:02:29 EDT

Hi my name is andrew and you probably get this question a lot but i have in interest in blacksmithing i can remeber watching as a kid a blacksmith coming out to our steamshow and bending horse shoes making clock but anyhow it cought my interest and now im looking at it as a hobby/part time job so what type of tools do i need to get started i would like to stick to traddition with coal fire and learn from trial and earier to forge my own way but also taking advice from the masters so if you could point me in a direction i would greatly appreciate it thanks for your time and help
   andrew - Tuesday, 07/29/08 20:13:08 EDT

Andrew, see the article linked at the top of this page "Getting Started in Blacksmithing". Finds some of the tools, books and such and as you have more questions ask.

Note that we have reviews of more books and videos on our book review page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 20:58:09 EDT

I did a little superficial digging, and found that both stones and quarters were listed everywhere the traditional British system of weights was described. I also found that the customary system in what became the U.S. included (100#) hundredweight and (25#) quarters, but no stones.

So, as Phillip suggests, trying to find a logical explanation for why anvils are marked in quarters instead of stones is probably a fool's errand. With that said, I did notice that different trades at times used different values for the stone, so it's *possible* that quarters might have been closer to a universally recognized unit. I guess we should just be happy our anvils aren't marked in catties (grin).
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 07/29/08 21:55:36 EDT

The McDonald mill looks great but I dont have a mill or lathe or the knowledge to use them. I am pretty much limited to drilling, torch cutting and arc welding. That is why I thought about a press. I can weld or bolt the frame together and the parts can be mostly canabalized from a splitter and use scrap steel and rails for the frame. I just dont think I have the ability to make the rolling mill. I have seen, on line, some presses that were pretty rudimentary but seemed to work. Cost is also a big factor.
   JLW - Tuesday, 07/29/08 22:08:32 EDT

JLW: If You have the whole splitter You have most of what You need. The ram will have to be better guided and things reconfigured to hold dies. It will take a rather large electric motor to get both power and speed, however.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/29/08 22:57:23 EDT

with a charcoal forge im having a problem with cinders landing and burning me. i need the amount of air i have right now but is the air coming under to much pressure and blowing the cinders? should i use larger piping?
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 07/29/08 23:37:53 EDT

Jacob, This is normal for using charcoal as well as for arc welding. For both jobs you wear a long sleeved shirt OR grin and bare it. In arc welding if you jump every time a spark lands on you then you never do a decent weld.

At least we have nice flame resistant cotton clothing. . . in past centuries you would need wool or go naked. Then in tropical and warm Mediterranean climates smiths went and still go nearly naked.

Scale also flies off the steel causing burns no matter what fuel you use.

You CAN slow down the blast with a larger tuyeer but there is a limit and the fire becomes much larger. Some grades of charcoal (wood type and season cut) pop more than others. But unless you make your own and study the art you have little choice.

Mineral coal is less problematic but has much more noxious smoke, makes clinkers and is not traditional in many cases.

Once you say the heck with tradition then you can go to an electric blower or a gas forge or how-about one of those Induction Forges. . . no fumes, smoke, sparks and very little scale. . . also works were no open fires are allowed!
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/08 23:56:48 EDT

Rolling Mill: You can buy bearings to fit the shaft size needed and stub shafts with keyways already milled in them. Only sawing required.

The reduction components can be expensive unless scrounged but are easy to buy as well.

Buyouts to build a rolling mill with almost no machining is about $1500. With machining a little less and you get a more flexible machine.

The advantage is a silent machine as compared to an ear shattering (if not just highly obnoxious) hydraulic machine, a low HP machine compared to a high HP machine, a machine that is faster with less HP.

The disadvantage of the rolling mill is that it does not have the flexibility to do other jobs.

The most hazardous thing about a rolling mill is the pinch hazard which the press also has PLUS the physical and fire danger of leaking high pressure fluids and hearing damage.

My manual hydraulic press required machining a 1.5" bronze bushing and a holder with a 1.88" diameter bore. But the rest was all flame cutting, grinding and arc welding plus a few holes. . . The parts were machined on an ancient 6" Craftsman lathe.

Machine work can also be subbed out. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 00:09:33 EDT

Jacob; charcoal usually needs a pretty soft blast so depending on how you are doing it it may be better with larger piping.

If the tiny bits of charcoal are actually dancing in the blast then it's *too* high. You don't want a Vesuvius fire!

Charcoal does spark more though expecially if the charcoal is slightly damp or only partially charred---mesquite charcoal is especially bad for this as they want the mesquite flavour to come through.

Jock forgot one more common historical smithing clothing material---Leather, just like a welder today may have a leather jacket to protect himself the smith of old used leather too. In fact the bullhide apron is almost an icon of the craft. In Goya's paining of the forgers they are wearing little else but the aprons and a loincloth.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/30/08 11:06:05 EDT

Update on the Maybe Peter Wright. The stamps are serif letters, but very faint and shallow. I have a set of number stamps that match these so I assume that part would be easy to duplicate. Accuracy of the bathroom scale within 5 lbs is not an issue. This was abut 35 lbs lighter than marked. Markings were 2 1 2 and it measured about 218 on the scale. Merl: the Tommy Hammer, or oliver, is a foot powered mechanical hammer. I am actually building 2: 10 lbs and 20-25 lbs. The hammer is an ordinary sledge swinging on an axle and returned by a garage door spring. Mounted on a heavy wood fram bolted to the anvil stand Using dies shaped from hammer heads cut in half and mounted by welding an offset bar set in hardie hole, centering die on anvil mass. Based on the chainmaker's hammer that was used primarily to dress the weld on a bick mounted in the side of the chainmaker's anvil. I'm simply re positioning the frame to strike over the anvil face, to use a s a striker for work that would normally use a 10-25lb sledge. I'm hoping for something better than an ABANA treadle hammer, not as good as a little giant. Total cash outlay so far is about $10 for the spring. Everything elde is on-hand or scrap. Frame is 3x3 and 4x4 scrap oak billets fromn the lumberyard. Making the bolts, links and levers from 1/2- 3/4 " stock on hand. Have had the hammer for years. Garage door spring is ideal, since it is loaded at exacly the balance weight of the hammer, and tension does not increase significantly over the range of movement, which is about 6" Thaat's 1/4 the length of the hammer arm, so a 40 lb spring perfectly balances the 10lb hammer. In fact if I play with the angles a little, I can get the spring to release virtually all resistance at the point of impact, and reengage just above the point of impact on the return. I'll try to post pics somewhere if there is interest.
   PEter Hirst - Wednesday, 07/30/08 11:38:48 EDT

Peter Wright (or Wrong) only speculation, but is it possible that the anvil was reforged at somepoint? Seems to me Postman mentioned a firm in AIA that redid anvils.
   JimG - Wednesday, 07/30/08 11:55:10 EDT

i wanna be a bladesmith and make other stuff like strikers and small art. ill be working with round, square, and flat stock all under 1 inches im pretty sure so what tongs am i wanting? V bolt? Wolfjaw?
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 13:26:26 EDT

Tongs and tongs: Jacob, No one pair of tongs does it all. The most universal are common flat grip and farrier's style tongs. These both work well on flat stock but the grip relies on your, grip.

Wolfjaw are also a universal type tong with a toothed plier like grip. Being universal they fit many sizes poorly.

For round and square bar stock I like bolt, gooseneck V and chainmaker style tongs.

For every size stock and job there is a perfect set of tongs. To have them all takes hundreds of tongs. But for a small range of stock you can usually afford a set that runs from 1/4" to 3/4" in small increments.

The advantage of tongs that fit snuggly around a piece of steel is that it takes less force to hold the work and tongs with clips will hold well even while power hammer forging.

Like many tools it takes time to build up a collection OR find the ones that really work right for you. Your first tongs are almost always limited use or a mistake. . .

When you start working with a lot of flat stock you will find that there are no commercial tongs that fit around 1/4" x 1 and 3/16" x 1.5 or stacked billets. For these most smiths make their own or modify standard tongs.

I recommend that you buy a couple pairs of tongs then make a few that suit you. Making tongs is not cost effective unless you are very good at it but it IS good practice and a skill every smith should have for those times when they really NEED to make a pair. So as a beginner, it is a good learning skill.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:15:13 EDT

thanks guru and for others out artist blacksmiths david robertson i think that is his name has a video on youtube on makin tongs thanks guys
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:28:39 EDT

Anvil Repair and weight change: It IS possible that the anvil is a rebuild or even made from parts. . . Several anvil manufacturers at the height of the horse drawn era repaired and rebuilt anvils. An anvil built of pieces, say a foot had broken off the base and a new (or recycled) base was used and welded at the waist. This would make an oddly proportioned anvil that would not weigh in as marked. It would also be a PW-Columbian or PW-Budden. . .

Generally the only time industries marked repaired tools and equipment was when it was THEIR brand and then a "R" was often appended to the serial number or a date added.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:30:52 EDT

lol i have another question for damascus steel where do i get the wrought iron and the spring steel, and im not sure if our local steel yard has high carbon?
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:31:58 EDT

Treadle Hammers: The chain maker film showing the use of the Oliver has the smith working the tool heavily with short strokes. Remember that devices of this type have little advantage other than freeing ones hands to hold tools. The amount of effort a human can apply is limited no mater HOW it is a applied or what machines are used. That 1/4HP an athlete can expend in a burst is the limit, PERIOD. I think you understand that you are fighting that spring and that all THAT effort goes no-where. . .

Most modern treadles have a relatively heavy ram for creating a few carefully placed sledgehammer like blows.

Olivers with long wood helves tend to twist and vibrate. You will want to consider stiffening the helve or bracing it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:43:34 EDT

im really sorry i have too many questions but there is only a farrier in the area and i havnt got ahold of him yet but i read that steel loses carbon when its been folded abunch. i want to make damscus so i saw that my science teacher had a bag of carbon should i get ahold of some or should or what? and does a coal fire grow in heat when it grows in size or is that not entirely true?
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:56:23 EDT

Materials: Jacob, The junkyard is generally not the place to look for Damascus materials unless you really KNOW what you are looking for.

Wrought Iron is no longer made. It has not been made since the 1960's. That sold in England is reprocessed from old wrought and what is available in North America comes from rare scrap. You find it where you find it. Some makes it to the scrap yard, look for old fences and old bridges.

Pure iron is available and sold by the Wagner Group. It is what it is and works well in Damascus. Sizes are limited.

High Carbon steels should be bought new so that you know what you have and how it should be heat treated. Otherwise there are all kinds of things that are suitable. Springs (round and flat), saw blades (particularly band saw blades but also curcular).

When making laminated steel you are usually doing it for the ART and that means a good visible pattern. This is best achieved by using steels with nickel content. This is a very select group of alloys. The books on making laminated steel will have details.

There is a tremondous efficiency in starting with the right size stock and/or many thin layers when making laminated steel. Normally you want near equal thicknesses and exactly the same widths. To do this you either do a lot of stock preparation or buy it the right size. It is also another reason for a rolling mill. . .

Thin materials reduce the number of welds and this greatly reduces the amount of fuel, effort AND losses as well as possibilities of bad welds. Some professionals start with 30 to 60 layers in the first weld. One triple cut of a 60 layer billet results in 180 layers and halving that makes your final 360 layers. Three welds, 300 to 400 layers. It is something to think about. This cuts your scale and decarburization loses by 50% or more.

Yes, there is math in blacksmithing. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 15:06:08 EDT

Jacob, Forge fuels are carbon. Solid fuels such as coal and charcoal are 99% carbon more or less. Propane is a long hydrocarbon molecule that is mostly carbon by weight. Natural gas (methane) is one big carbon and four little hydrogens. . .

Decarburization occurs greatly at welding temperatures and there is little you can do about it. This material is either ground off between welds or left as more low carbon iron layers. Where it really hurts is the sides of the billets that remain exposed heat after heat. If you do a good job you remove all the decarburized surface metal (up to 1/8" deep).

A coal or charcoal fire with dry fuel in the proper fire pot or container can be just as hot when thimble sized as when bonfire sized. The difference is the gross BTU's of calories expended. You can weld fine wire in a smoking pipe but nothing larger. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 15:16:49 EDT

we have a farrier supply here and they sel1 fifty pounds of coal for 12 dollars everywhere else is higher, is that probably low quality coal?
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 15:17:37 EDT

Jacob; I'd get good at smithing and then get good at bladesmithing and *then* start looking into pattern welding. It's sort of like a fellow asking us how to win formula 1 races when they don't know how to drive.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/30/08 16:39:54 EDT

As to the coal: not necessarily so; you need to try it out yourself or ask for a reference to someone using it that you can ask how it's working for them.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/30/08 16:41:11 EDT

Thanks Peter Hirst, I was wondering if that is what you were making. I have often thought of making something like that myself (the tommy hammer) as my two boys, while they don't lack enthusiasm, are not quite ready for strikers (3&5 yrs)
Jacob, as one newbe to another be sure to check out the IForge section of this web site. LOTS of great information there.
   - merl - Wednesday, 07/30/08 18:42:04 EDT

Seems to me the spring on a treadle hammer gives back (most of) its energy on the upstroke. The spring certainly *does* limit the force of a given hit, but my guess is that the net effect on required horsepower is probably pretty small.

I wonder if charcoal would spark less in a side-blast forge? All that air will still end up going up, but at least the blast wouldn't be adding *directly* to the velocity.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 07/30/08 19:36:35 EDT

Limestone & Heat Resistance: When there was an electrical fire, years back, at the National Cathedral, a number of the columns needed extensive repairs. The heat of the fire had reduced the stone to "quick lime" just like we used to do by burning oyster shells. All limestone is, is condensed shells (and marble is limestone that's been under extreme heat and pressure). Not the stuff to use in a forge. Stone tuyeres are(traditionally) soapstone. I've used slate (a metamorphic form of shale) but it tends to ablate at a pretty fast rate; it wears thin after a demonstration or two.

Fire Fleas: Much less of a problem in a traditional side-blast forge than in the U.S. style bottom blast forge.

Hot, humid and overcast (and a very dark night) on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/30/08 22:11:21 EDT

ive got about a 9 inch deep big rig brake drum and i want to cut it its close to an inch thick i guess, how should i cut it? torch? its messy and cast iron melts more than it cuts, or just sawzaw it? or what? thanks for my many questions yall help alot
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 22:40:20 EDT

Det cord? . . . The military guys will know this one. .

I would use the drum for other things and find one that is the shape I want rather than cut the big one. Sawing will work and do the least damage. Most of these are cast but are ductile iron, not grey cast.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 00:39:05 EDT

Dave Hammer:

I rode a lot of swing stages hung from those sky hooks, too. Also dangled from a pair of 4x4s cantilevered over the roof edge with a bag of sand as ballast. Looking back on it, someof the stuff we did was pretty risky, eh? Never much did enjoy being a wall dog, anyway. We also had a truck mounted 120' crane, brand name of SkyHook. That and a bosun's chair could get you into places no sane person would want to go, especially in the Phoenix sun. (grin)

Therer seem to be a bunch of former (and current) signpainters who are now blacksmiths, and also a number of smithys that were formerly chicken houses. I wonder why that is?

   vicopper - Thursday, 07/31/08 01:51:47 EDT

Jacob Lockhart: Use the NAVIGATE anvilfire box towards upper right to go down to the link to ABANA affiliated groups. Find the one nearest to you and ask where they purchase their coal. They may have an annual club buy.

Also go to www.switchboard.com and do a business search on coal. You may turn up a local source, but not necessarily of a grade suitable for blacksmithing. One in Louisville, KY (Elkhorn and Cumberland I believe) sells blacksmith grade coal and coke by pick up or they can arrange for a truckload to be delivered.

In the NE there is a chain of hardware stores (Aubuchon Hardware) which sells a pretty good grade of coal by the bag.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 07/31/08 07:39:25 EDT

Wood question: I was at a place where a guy was doing chainsaw sculptures. I bought a pig (I've always wanted a pet pig). He said to soak it good with boiled linseed oil to deter cracking. Problem is now my residence reeks of it. Washed off what I could with Dawn, but still can smell it. Any suggestions?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 07/31/08 07:45:23 EDT

Removing broken bolt from cast iron can i heat the area around bolt
   Gerry Martin - Thursday, 07/31/08 08:19:05 EDT

Treadle Hammers:
I prefer a lighter hammer, mine is 35 lbs, for the work I do. Mostly it's small stuff and I use the TH as a third hand. But, at 35 lbs, I think it does a nice job when I need to draw down big stuff. It's nowhere near a power hammer, but much better than anything I can do with my arm. Yes, all the energy is supplied by you, but the TH lets me use the bigger muscles and joints in my leg, so the wear and tear is proportionately much less.

When you think of it, the motion of hand hammering is not something you really do outside of hammering or certain sports. The shoulder is a pretty intricate joint and is easy to damage. Hammering induces lots of repetitive stress on the shoulder, elbow and wrist that isn't part of a "normal" life, and seems outside of how we were designed. But the motion on a TH is pretty much the same as walking up a hill or climbing the stairs. I put a spring "cushion" on my treadle to ease the sudden stop when the hammer hits. Don't know if it really works as intended, as I never used a non-cushioned TH.

And on springs, I see them as energy storage. The extra you use when pushing down is used to pull up. The trade-off is in time. A stiff spring will pull up faster and let you repeat quicker, at the expense of more force to push down. But your extra spring at the bottom of the stroke is a good compromise. At the suggestion of Bruce Freeman (of Grasshopper fame) I reduced my main springs to where they are barely strong enough to hold the hammer up and added a small one that engages at about 4" from the bottom. That gives the extra kick to move the hammer up quickly, then the main ones take over. This combination gets me a really quick repetition rate and enough oomph to to bigger stuff, when needed.

But back to the energy use, I used the TH to make a hand rounding hammer. I had to upset some 1-1/4" to get the dimensions I wanted, square up the head, round the pein, punch and drift the hole,... It was lots of fun, but I probably lost 5 lbs of sweat in the ordeal. No free lunch there :-) But also no soreness in the leg muscles or joints. I'm pretty sure I would have felt that for a long time if I even attempted to try that with a hand hammer close to big enough to move that metal. The most I can swing for any length of time is 4 lbs, and I doubt that would have been enough to let me complete the job.

So I'm kind of a big proponent of treadle hammers. When people say it's not good enough for heavy stuff, I tend to disagree. If you have a power hammer, then go with that. But a TH is so much better than a hand hammer. It all depends on how you define "good enough". Lots of big work was done with a striker and a 16-lb sledge. A PH would have been preferred then, too, had it been available. But for hobbyist work, at least my kind, the TH is plenty good enough.

   - Marc - Thursday, 07/31/08 08:34:28 EDT


I don't know how I can help you, but when I was a museum conservator, we mixed linseed oil with turpentine, 50/50, and rubbed it into the old, cleaned gun stocks. The turpentine tended to thin the oil and add penetrating power to it. After applying, we would rub the wooden pieces with a soft cotton cloth in order to bring out the shine. On a sculpture with crevices, a soft bristled brush might do, along with the cloth. I shape and scrape my hammer hafts and treat them the same way. I never noticed the smell hanging around for very long, or I may have become inured to it.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/31/08 08:35:26 EDT

Frank is right the smell should dissipate after a couple of days. You shouldn't put too heavy a coat on that there is a build up on the piece. Several coats thinned as Frank says that soak into the wood would be better. If you put on too heavy a coat you will have a sticky mess that will never dry

I use this mixture as a finish on muzzleloading rifles with as many as 20 or so very thin coats hand rubbed into the wood.
   - Bernard Tappel - Thursday, 07/31/08 10:22:08 EDT

Oiled Pig Sculpture: Ken, if you used properly boiled linseed oil it will dry in a couple months to a year (preferably in the barn). Washing will do no good, the point is it soaks in. When the surface is sufficiently dry (months) you can varnish it and that will seal the sculpture and the odor.

To prevent cracking with oil you need to soak and soak and soak it. . . After years of drying it may start to crack then you soak the cracks. . . Using a thinned mixture as Frank noted also works but then you have both oil and turpentine fumes.

Professional wood workers that use big blocks of wood soak them with one of the glycols. . I would have to look it up. It takes a LOT. They put pieces in barrels full of the stuff. Then they work the wood, let then dry and then finish the surface.

Like properly finishing steel for outdoor use it is an art to preserving and finishing heavy wood.

I used to oil paint in my bedroom. Liked the smell when I was young but I am not crazy about it now. It will make some people nausious.

   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 10:22:46 EDT

Treadle Hammers: Marc, good points on treadle hammers.

However, on the heavy work. . strikers used moderate weight sledges and there were LOTS of them. The big difference with a power hammer is that one can easily out work a team of strikers.

While your legs can produce a relatively slow but heavy blow using a treadle hammer your arms can swing a sledge overhead and produce as much or more energy. The biggest advantage of the TH is the ram is guided and you can hold the work. This combined guide and positioning assures the force of the blow goes where it should. Add a heavy blow to that and you are doing much more than you could alone.

The other advantage to a treadle hammer is that they are relatively simple and economical to build.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 10:41:46 EDT

im cutting up some steel plates and welding them into a block for use in the SCA how should i hide in welds?
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 11:45:36 EDT

The real big stuff, like ship anchors, required a large team of strikers. There's a video, probably now on Youtube, of a team re-creating an anchor forging. I doubt smaller power hammer could even keep up with them.

However, even a single striker can do lots of moving on big-ish stuff. For me, that's 1 to 2-inch. I tried to get a striker (my son) to help with my rounding hammer project, but not even pizza could coax him to come over :-) So I decided to work on the treadle hammer, instead. The TH easily beats a single striker for what it can do. I can repeat blows much faster than with a heavy swing of the sledge.

And you're absolutely right. Being able to position and precisely control a heavy hit (or even a light hit) is the biggest strength of a TH. Cutting, splitting, chiseling, punching, ... all are downright easy and fast now. I think that's it's a rare project where I don't use the TH for at least part of it.
   - Marc - Thursday, 07/31/08 12:26:45 EDT

The real big stuff, like ship anchors, required a large team of strikers. There's a video, probably now on Youtube, of a team re-creating an anchor forging. I doubt a smaller power hammer could even keep up with them.

However, even a single striker can do lots of moving on big-ish stuff. For me, that's 1 to 2-inch. I tried to get a striker (my son) to help with my rounding hammer project, but not even pizza could coax him to come over :-) So I decided to work on the treadle hammer, instead. The TH easily beats a single striker for what it can do. I can repeat blows much faster than with a heavy swing of the sledge.

And you're absolutely right. Being able to position and precisely control a heavy hit (or even a light hit) is the biggest strength of a TH. Cutting, splitting, chiseling, punching, ... all are downright easy and fast now. I think that's it's a rare project where I don't use the TH for at least part of it.
   - Marc - Thursday, 07/31/08 12:28:39 EDT

Oops. I refreshed several times to see if my post went through, and it didn't. So I sent it again.
   - Marc - Thursday, 07/31/08 12:29:42 EDT

Ken... Put your pig on the porch till it quits smellin...

Vicopper... I didn't care much for the scaffold work either. Especially after I learned the hard way my partner didn't know how to tie off a rope safely. I did like sign painting though (painting, building cans, letters. I had just started to learn how to blow glass (bend neon tubes) when I left to go into the service. Why sign painters to blacksmiths??? I think both have to have an appreciation and eye for nice curves (I was going to say art, but I don't want to offend anyone).
   - djhammerd - Thursday, 07/31/08 15:19:06 EDT

Bruce Wilcock (q.v. Google) has a video for sale of some acolytes and himself forging part of an anchor, well-coordinated three-striker effort. If you are lucky you will get one that actually plays.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/31/08 15:30:18 EDT

Det Cord! Now there is some truly fun stuff. If it wasn't for all these laws to protect everyone you could do some real cutting on some big steel if you live far enough from the neighbors. Nice quick way to dissassemble those old wroughtiron bridges into nice manageable pieces that you can cart off in your truck. Lots quicker than sawing and torch cutting.

That reminds me:I was told once that the hulls and turrets on some of the old tanks were made by putting a big pile of explosives in the bottom of a BIG concrete pit and then the slab of steel was lowered in followed by the die that the steel would be forced into by the blast.Then the pit was filled with water to help contain the blast I suppose this would qualify as extreme blacksmithing. Heat, hammer and quench in one smooth step.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 07/31/08 15:31:14 EDT

Dressing Welds: There are three key pieces of equipment in a welding shop, a cutting torch, an arc welder and an angle grinder. It is nearly impossible to work without all three.

The angle grinder is used to clean up rough torch work and bad welds OR welds that need to be hidden. It is also used to make weld preps that are smaller than you want to torch.

On heavy plate flush welds that can be made nearly invisible start with heavy weld preps (angled edges). Only minor grinding is necessary to make the weld absolutely flush if welded correctly.

   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 17:01:55 EDT

do we have any SCA guys here, cause im makin a forge for the SCA and i need to know if i line a wok with clay on the inside will it be accepted? and if not what else needs to be done?
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 17:57:07 EDT

Robert Cutting, explosive forming is a perfectly exceptable method of forming hull plates for battle ships but, to the best of my knowlage armored vehicles are either cast or a weldment.
I have heard of explosive forming used most often for some large part but, not terribly thick, and usualy only one or two parts needed, and can't find a press big enough.
   - merl - Thursday, 07/31/08 18:23:06 EDT

Robert Cutting, I too share your appreciation of Det cord, and I would add that loverly C-rat cooker, C-4:)
To my knowledge no modern tank has had a hull or turret explosively formed. There have been three methods pretty much since the start.
Casting, welding, and riveting. In WWII the Germans, at Henshel, with some guidance from Ferdinan Porshe started welding hulls and turrets. VERY ugly joints designed to be made in primitive conditions. Big joggle joints that keyed the plate to each other.

The US built huge amounts of armour, using cast, welded and riveted. Riveted was not a good choice from a users standpoint!
Pacific Car and foundrey, Canadian Car and foundrey and others had the capacity to cast an entire turret, but the hulls were welded from castings and plate.
Later, the foudreys gained the experience to make even thicker, and much bigger castings. The M-48&60 was cast.
The M-1 for current use is a composite, I think joined by welding. The armour composition is still classified I
From Memory, the actual thickness of the front slope of the M-60 was about 5-6", and with the slope gave an effective thickness of about 8-9". Turret was similar in front.
I would guess the turret of a M-60 would go about 20 tons and the casting bare probably 16 tons. Very complex shape to explosively form as a whole.
   ptree - Thursday, 07/31/08 18:33:51 EDT

I have heard of explosive forming---quite different from explosive welding being used to form large dome sections for tanks used to hold fluids or NG.

The explosive welding on warships I read about was to create a plate to mate Al to steel so you could have an Al superstructure and a steel hull; both metals could be then welded to their sides of the plate with no difficulties.

Jacob, depending on how fussy your local groups would be you should have no problem building a small forge that way. Out here in the explosively dry southwest I am sometimes forced to bring a propane forge to SCA events as that is the only thing allowed by the site owners; they won't even allow charcoal for cooking! If we can cook with propane then I can forge with propane---they've bought that reasoning so far...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/31/08 19:09:00 EDT

Ptree: Thanks for clearing up the tank hull issue. After looking at them in the past I figured they were cast but could not disprove the possibility of explosive shaping as a method. I knew the M-1'S were welded slabs so there is no surface perpendicular to the ground or to one another so most shots against it will prove to be a glancing blow. We were told by some CDATs (if you know this acronym they've almost run you over too) that it was a composite laminated armour (or at least parts of it) usings depleted uranium because of it's density. Might just be more idle speculation. C-4 more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 07/31/08 20:09:28 EDT

Robert Cutting. The M-1's came after I left the service, although I was almost run over by some then weird proto's at Ft Knox, that I would now say look a lot like a M-1. I worked on M-60 A2's the Starship, and M-551 Sheridans. I was a Shillegh Missile system repairman.

I believe the composite armour know as Cobham is a composite of steel and ceramic. With a HEAT round one gets a focused plasma like jet of extremely short duration that if deflected can't get thru the armour. The depleted uranium roounds work in a somewhat similar way as at the impact pressure and temps they are pryoforic. I would not be surprised to hear that this composite also had a hard layer and maybe a very soft layer such as the dense foam in the M-551.
   ptree - Thursday, 07/31/08 20:16:26 EDT

I've always thought reactive armor was an interesting concept . . .
   Mike BR - Thursday, 07/31/08 20:52:06 EDT

Jacob, SCA or NOT a wok is not a very good shape for a forge. Its for cooking. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 21:01:29 EDT

They do make some "reactive" armour that bolts to the outside of vehicles and causes a early detonation of the warhead if it is not a solid round. I guess a more accurate description would be ablative armour since it blows away and leaves the next layer to absorb the next shot.

As a combat engineer once we got done avoiding being runover by the tankers on their way through the breach some of us would go over and nose around the tanks. They are quite impressive feats of engineering. Taking a good look at them also allowed for us to come up with better ways of stopping them and their counterparts should we ever actually fight another foe with modern armour. Fighting a ground based war without our own armour support would not be fun. Hopefully that will never happen.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 07/31/08 21:09:06 EDT

Hi Guru,
I've seen a few references about "brass brushing" at black heat. What exactly does this do? Does it protect in any way, or just give a dark shine?
   Craig - Thursday, 07/31/08 21:30:35 EDT

Our own VIcopper has some experience with explosive forming & welding, If i remember, He even developed a process combining the two...
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/31/08 21:32:46 EDT

Have I got this right? You have got a brake drum. You are also looking for something with which to make a firge and are suggesting a wok!
   philip in china - Thursday, 07/31/08 22:33:14 EDT

yes, im just considering ideas, i want to make a lightweight portable one for travel in the sca and im gonna line it with clay on the inside for insulation, and i think it will be a booger to cut the 70 lbs 1 inch thick brake drum with a sawzaw, or will it? its about an inch thick on the walls cuase its a big rig brake drum and its very thick and heavy any guess as to what it would take to cut that monster?
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 22:44:10 EDT

and im gonna put my drum in a metal 3'x2' table when its gets cut and its gonna be set off to the left with tool rack on metal sheet welded to the back away from the heat so itll be a 130lbs atleast i think and very bulky
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 22:48:11 EDT

it does sound kind of stupid though hah lol you have a point,but the brake drum will be fairly stationary so i was looking for a very light portable solution.... but your right it sounds dumb hahaha, and it very well may be but the wok was free so im not really at a loss if it doesnt last very long even with the clay
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 23:04:21 EDT

Brass Brushing: Craig, The brass brush puts a very thing brass plating on the hot iron. It is nice for highlights on unfinished work but can only have a light clear coat over it.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 23:13:00 EDT

Jacob, Wood, sheet metal or light plate, no clay. Use what you find when you get there of clay it on site and dump the clay with the ash.

A great source for several thicknesses of sheet metal is an old hot water heater. The tanks are heavy enough to make a light weight forge and the covering is suitable for a low use hood or smoke screen. Same weight as your wok but a better shape OR you can cut up the tank and form it to the shape you need. This will cut with a sawzall and you can drill and rivet the parts together.

Old appliances have all kinds of handy dandy parts and materials. You can be PAID to haul them off. Avoid refrigerators. Any plumber will have a yard full of heaters to get rid of. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 23:19:50 EDT

Thanks to Marc for the info on the treadle hammer.
Along those same lines I was thinking of a "treadle handle" to hold the top striking tools that I barrow from the club. Just a spring loaded affair that brings the top tool down to the correct hight and square on the bottom half so I can drive the tongs with one hand and strike with the other but, I can see were a treadle hammer could also serve well.
While I'm saveing up the money for the the power hammer materiel I probably have enough laying around to knock up an effective treadle hammer.
Somthing else I keep forgeting to ask about. If I had to do a forge weld on a peice that was too big or awkward to get into the fire, could I use a Oxy-Accet torch to heat them to weld temp?
I relize of corse I could just torch weld the parts together but, my question is would the O/A torch cause problems for the forge weld?
Any one near Wisconsin this weekend is invited to bring your hammers to the Dodge County Antique Power Club show just outside of Bernett, Wis. We just added another ten feet to the line shaft in the blacksmith shop and we're bound to have some fun for the next few days.
   - merl - Friday, 08/01/08 01:19:01 EDT

Torch/Forge Welding: Merl, it is very hard to control enough atmosphere to do this but it is possible. You have to actually get the entire area to stick before removing the torch.
   - guru - Friday, 08/01/08 09:01:03 EDT

Tool Holders: I designed something like this to fit in the hardy hole many moons ago. It used common sized tools that were held in by a wedge. Today I would use a locking screw with a handle.

Those that hold handled tools must have a vertical adjustment and fit many sizes and types of handles.

Almost as handy is work holders and stock stands. See our iForge demo #125 on hold down tools. Stock stands have been built into the anvil stand but are probably best as stand alone tools. Good stock stands will adjust form below anvil height to slightly above bench height. Most are three legged so that they are steady on variable surfaces. Those used for general work do not want rollers on them. However, the V of a piece of angle iron will support stock two different ways.

Hold downs do the gross work and then you can use chisels and punches to your heart's content.

For most of these three handed jobs smiths often learn to do without and hold work between their legs or just work on loose pieces setting on the anvil.
   - guru - Friday, 08/01/08 09:16:28 EDT

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