WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

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 August 22 - 31, 2000 on the Guru's Den
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Guru... I am looking around for a list of junk yard metal qualities. I at one time had a short list but for some reason can not find it! Is there a list on this sight or do you know where I could find a good list? By the way I want to tell you how much I appreciate your sight, My five years on the anvil has been alot of trial and error and several little details that I found on this sight has reserected a few pieces from the ooops! pile. Thank YOU!
Liberty  <liberty at custom.net> - Monday, 08/21/00 23:59:53 GMT


List forwarded via e-mail.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 00:21:40 GMT

Guru... second question for today... Like I said I have been smithing for about 5 years and 99% of all I do is early 1800's Most of my goodies are sold to reenactors but that market is very limited in this area. What kind of places do you go to sell? Do you have a secret to getting around the ignorance of some people comparing hand forged iron with the junk they buy at the garden centre? I appreciate your opinions and your knowledge...
Liberty  <liberty at custom.net> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 00:31:41 GMT

I need help in starting a heat reating system using propane as a heat source for O-2 steel. I have fire brick and and propane and a regulator. Help mr please. There are many deer, hog and soft shell turtles to eat. Thanks johnsblacklab766 at cs.com
John Klingensmith  <Johnsblacklab766 at cs.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 00:55:09 GMT

How did a blacksmith join pieces ofiron and steel together?
What sort of tools and equipment did a blacksmith use to shape iron or steel? (HISTORICALLY)
Bk  <hunterb at bigpond.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 01:19:38 GMT

Historically, what other items apart from wrought iron do blacksmiths commonly use?
Historically, how did a blacksmith join pieces of iron and steel together?
Historically, what sort of equipment did a blacksmith use to shape iron or steel?
what is the difference between mild steel and wrought iron?
Chris Fish  <thefishs at bigpond.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 01:20:02 GMT

How did a blacksmith join pieces of iron and steel together?
What sort of tools and equipment did a blacksmith use to shape iron or steel? (HISTORICALLY)
Bk  <hunterb at bigpond.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 01:20:00 GMT

Hunter: There are two posts to your questions above. HISTORICALY blacksmiths used the same tools 3,000 years ago as they use today. 200 years ago there were rolling mills and tilt hammers. OErjan (a knowledgable blacksmith and historian from Sweden answered your question).

Chris Fish Hunter already asked those questions today. OErjan and I answered them. Just look UP a few posts.

Things move fast here guys. We love to answer your questions but will get short with you if you don't look for the answers and ask the same question twice. There are also three years of archives you can browse where almost every possible question has been asked and answered.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 01:33:17 GMT

Junk Metal List: Liberty. Its posted on our 21st Century page. You are better off with the list in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK.

The SAE metal numbering system 1010, 1040, 1095. . The first two numbers indicate the general alloy. 10xx being plain carbon steel. 1040 would be 40 point or 0.4% carbon.

4140 is a nickle alloy steel with 0.40% carbon. This is something else that is covered very well in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK along with heat treating and tempering data for many steels. Someone recently pointed out that there there were several listed on bibliofind. Generaly used copies sell for $25 which is less than 1/3 of new. If I had money I'd buy every one I could find at that price.

What to sell? That's a hard one. Forget trying to convince folks that your stuff is better than the hardware store. . . We've all been trying for a LONG time. . . Sad to say but you have to become MORE efficient than the near slave labor you are competing with. That means a power hammer, gas forge and cut off saw in the shop. Demonstrate how to make it the hard way but produce in quantity.

Currently there is a big market for Sheapards crook plant hangers. I know quys that make them by the thousands! I always did a brisk business with triangles but they are a job for a torch (to get sharp accurate bends). Then you can forge strikers to go with them as a demo. Its a fast easy demo and that's all the public will watch. Curiousities also sell well but my imagination doesn't work in that area. . .

Where to sell is as difficult as what. Many smiths are finding the Internet gives them enough exposure that they can stay fairly busy. However, setting up a web site is another skill that takes a lot of time and it may be years before it pays off.

About the only profitable markets for smiths are sales in high traffic tourist areas OR light industrial smithing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 01:54:00 GMT

Deer, Hogs and Turtles: John, sounds like you need to build a cooker not a forge!

You have almost everything you need. There are two types of propane forge. Atmospheric and Blower. See our plans page. We have a primitive blown design which is pretty fool proof and then there are links to pages with plans for the Atmospheric (venturi) type. Also see the famous 10 minute forge.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 02:09:12 GMT

Any idea where to obtain ball stakes or other stakes for metal craft working?
Mark  <tidesign1 at aol.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 03:19:53 GMT

Stakes: Mark, Find out when and where your local blacksmiths association are meeting. There is almost always a used tool dealer at meeting and they often have a variety of stakes. They aren't cheap but new are worse. . . Centaur forge carries new ones.

THEN check out our iForge page. There are several do it your self tool making demos. James Joyce (JJ) has some real imaginitive ideas for making stakes and I have a one on making tools from RR-rail (1075 steel).

THEN check out our Armor articles on our 21st Century page. There are a variety of home made tools in the two articles.

Check out your local junk yards. Trailer balls for towing mobile homes go up to 2-1/2" (maybe more). Many auto and truck axels have big rounded flanges that could be modified into nice mushroom stakes. Many heavy equipment parts and objects like marine cleats make useful anvils for odd work.

Other tools like pick axes or large ball pien hammers or sledges can be modified for various purposes. Use your imagination.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 05:12:55 GMT

I'm looking to buy a forge for my knife and sword making but I could only find one place that sells them and it cost $300 plus dollars for it. I don't know if this is to high of a price or not and I can't find any other place on the web that sells any. If it is not that high of a price I wonder why a friend of mine made one with a government surplus 25 inch rocket box and bought a shop workbench legs and a blower for it and all it cost him was about $100 dollars If anyone has any info on where I can get a cheap forge please e-mail me thanks
Nate  <Tayous at aol.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 09:25:21 GMT

Where can I find some good blacksmith GIF's for a web page I am making?
Bret  <banderson at acs.roadway.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 12:41:32 GMT

Forges: Nate, I've built numerous coal and gas forges. None have been as good as old or new commercial forges. Some have been very cheap. A few dollars for miscellaneous hardware and less than a dayss labor. The last two gas forges I built cost more than some commercial forges. They had electronic ignition and pseudo temperature controls in the form of dwell-on and dwell-off.

If you purchase new materials it is hard to compete with an NC-TOOL forge. They are compact and very efficient. There are plans for similar forges on the web but these type forges require a delicate balance between fire box volume and burner construction.

The quick and dirty blower type forge we have on our plans page work great but are not very efficient and require large gas cylinders. All home built gas forges also carry a degree of risk relative to your design and construction skills as well as knowledge of using such products. Small gas leaks or brief periods of flame out can cause huge problems including risk of fire, explosion loss of life or property.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 13:40:19 GMT

Artwok: Bret, There is not much around. We produce almost all of our own artwork and haven't gotten ahead far enough to produce quantites for sale. At least one of the chapter sites has a collection but it is little icons of cartoonish little tools. There are a few pieces you find on many smithing sites but I've yet to find the original source.

Please be forwarned about "borrowing" artwork on the net. The blacksmithing community is very small and the net is a very public place. We have had to ask folks several times to remove our work from their sites. One developer was very indignant when I asked his to take our flaming anvil out of a logo he had "created" for a client!!!

I tend to see a LOT of sites since I am Ringmaster of the Blacksmith's Ring and Editor of the Blacksmithing category on one of the indexes (search engine). I've often found OTHER people's original work hijacked to build sites. Unless you find the art you are looking for on a "clip-art" site that assures you that they own the images then don't use them. You would be surprised how many of these sites are built from hijacked art work!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 14:06:53 GMT

Why is it a problem when galvanized steel is placed in contact with aluminum?
Rich  <rich at infiniteaccess.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 15:09:10 GMT

Al/Zinc: Rich, it shouldn't be a big problem but bi-metalic corrosion is a HUGE problem when objects are used outdoors, in any humid/corrosive environment or is expected to have a LONG life.

The Zinc in the galvanizing protects the steel by reacting with the atmosphere and via a process of self-healing by plating scratches in the finish and reducing rust/corrosion. Heavy pieces of Zinc are used on underground and underwater steel structures as a "sacrificial annode". The zinc attracts the electrical currents that are part of the corrosion process and the zinc corrodes rather than the steel.

Aluminium does the opposite of Zinc. The aluminium resists corrosion and increases the corrosion of nearby steel by attracting disolved iron ions in any moisture that is present.

The iron tries to plate the aluminium. Zinc tries to plate the iron. Bolting aluminium to a galvanized part negates having the part galvanized in the first place.

Bi-metalic corrosion is often overlooked as a design problem but it is serious trouble for outdoor, underground and underwater structures.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 16:11:58 GMT

Is it my puter or have something hapened to the 6 I-Forge demos? ive tried to find them with no luck.
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 20:19:55 GMT

iForge: OErjan, Thank you for bringing that error to my attention. The trouble was in the members menu. . . . I've got WAY too many things to maintain!

Reload the menu on the members page then try iForge again. There are a couple gaps in the listing but ARE six more demos posted!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 20:39:33 GMT

Greetings Fellow Smiths,

I am in the process of rebuilding my Nazel 2-B hammer. The ram crashed through the bottom ram guide and shattered it in about 20 pcs. I had a new steel piece machined and welded to the original cast iron collar. I have a number of questions regarding the rebuilding project, some of these are:
1. What type of gasket material was used (cork?) and where can I get it?
2. Is there a spring mechnism I can attach to the linkage to keep tension and prevent this from happening again.
3. The hammer has been apart for a year. Some rust has developed on the ram piston and probably on the cyclinder walls. Do I have to hone the cyclinder? Should it be oiled when reassembling and what grade oil.
4. Is there any modifications I can make to this hammer to increase power, fine tune the touch or "hot rod" it?
I would appreciate any smiths help and expereinces on this project. I am also looking for any books, or Nazel factory information on this hammer that may be still available.
If you can take a moment to share what info you may have Vulcan may bless you.
Ph. 440-275-1351 fax 440-275-1361. Location Northeastern Ohio. Best regards and thanks again to you in advance.
Marte Cellura  <metalmarte at aol.com > - Tuesday, 08/22/00 22:25:14 GMT

Marte Thanks for restoring a great hammer.

1.You can use Formagasket Blue it is a paste and stays soft
2.The ram probably crashed through the guide because the dies were not in the hammer. Or if it is a 2 piece the anvil was miss placed.
3.If the cylinder is not scored it probably doesnt need honed. You might replace the ram guides however. Use steam cylinder oil. I think the viscosity is 680. It is relatively nonflammable and wont diesel. Dont use petroleum.
4.Wait till you get it running. It is not like a mechanical hammer.

Anything to add Guru.
JohnC  <careatti at crosslink.net> - Tuesday, 08/22/00 22:50:22 GMT

Can water be used for quenching 1095 HC steel or does oil do a better job. I'm an amatuer knifemaker and I can find very little info on 1095 steel. Most references are geared to the more expensive, modern steels
How Patton  <Howpatn at cs.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 00:24:31 GMT


I won't answer your question directly, because I'm not qualified to do so. But I will mention that I rarely use an oil quench anymore for anything. I use either water, Super Quench, or Automatic Transmission Fluid. I find that the ATF is not nearly as flamable as oil, and it does not have all fo the additives, thus is not as hazardous to use. And it seems to work as well as oil does. Use new fluid though, not used.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 01:09:00 GMT

Nazel: John is right about the ram. There are marks on it showing the maximum stroke. The dies MUST be in place and the anvil set at the right height. Short dies or an anvil set too low will wreck the hammer in an instant.

Synthetic air compressor oil can be used.

Automotive suppliers have heavy paper gasket material. The oiled oil resistant type is best. Use gasket compound on one side only so the machine can be disassembled easily. Heavy gasket compounds are good if you don't have gaskets or if the surfaces are in bad shape. I use Permatex Aviation Gasket sealer.

The compression rings are leather (or at least were). Wallace Metal Works has acquired what is left of the Nazel Co. Literature will be available when new copies are printed (probably next spring).

Hop it up??? Its an 50-80 year old machine that will likely run another 100 years if it is not abused! Wallace Metal Works has Nazel 4B through 7B hammers for sale if you need MORE POWER!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 01:34:56 GMT

Correction: Wallace Metal Works has Nazels listed starting with a 3B through 7B. Tune ups. . sloppy linkage and worn out valves are a common problem on high use hammers, missing or stuck check valves (there is one in the ram). Generaly abuse is the biggest problem.

Quenching 1095 My personal experience with high carbon steels is that they like to be oil quenched. Water quench works fine if you have a very even heat and the steel is not over heated. Its easy to overheat if you are judging the temperature by eye. You should be prepared to temper ASAP (before the steel reaches room temperature).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 02:08:25 GMT

I'm looking to buy or build a coal burning forge buy all the ones I'd looked at where $300 pluse Is there anyone out there that sells forges at a price that is around $100-$200 if so please e-mail me thanks
Nate  <tayous at aol.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 06:46:40 GMT


Good morning, crew:

Well, I'm back, but just for this week between training in Norfolk and my "Never-ending Project" in Tucson. After the 1st of September, I should be back enough to lend some decent input to the Guru's Page.

Meanwhile, I was tipped off by a friend that my article on the 21st Century page, "Atli and Tadgh Build a Helm" was being thoroughly flamed over at the "Research and Authenticity" page of the Armour Archive. Oddly enough, some other fellow going by the name of Atli was apparently trolling for flames. One of their members put two and two together and came out with three.

If y'all will forgive me, since I don't post on that Armour Archive bulletin board (and I'm far less likely to, now) I'll defend myself here on home ground. I have never claimed to be an armorer. As a blacksmith, I'm still striving for competency. The project was undertaken to learn something about the techniques employed in this facet of metalworking. I learned a lot and I'm sure the next helm that I undertake will look better and take less time. On top of that, I hope that anyone who reads the article will have at least some idea of what's involved in such a project.

I've been puttering about with blacksmithing since around '82, and working with it seriously for about the last decade. I'm nowhere near where I'd like to be in terms of my skill level, but given my time budget with the National Park Service, my family, the Longship Company, Markland, the Church and the family farm, I'm doing pretty well. (I may die of exhaustion, but I'll never die of boredom.)

On the other claw, I've been doing early medieval reenactment for over 31 years. The Smithsonian, the Newport News Mariners' Museum, the Great Guru of Anvilfire, and a number of my historian and archeologist friends both in and out of the National Park Service seem to think that I know what I'm talking about. The truth is that we only think we know something. (Except, maybe, Newtonian physics. Even math is vulnerable: looked at "pi" lately?) The helm was made as a gift for a friend, a subject for a "how-to article, and an experiment. As an experiment I learned as much by what didn't work as much as by what did. I will continue to learn.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. Now, maybe, I can concentrate on some more critical tasks.

Atli Vathason (just so people don't get confused)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 13:06:28 GMT


Paper gaskets are best; you can make your own gasket to fit your hammer using a brass hammer. It’s simple to do while the hammer is apart. Get a sheet of gasket paper. Place the sheet on hammer part you want to make the gasket for using the casting as a temple. With the brass hammer lightly tap the outline of the gasket. The sharp edges of the machined gasket surfaces will leave an impression on the sheet while tapped with the brass hammer. If you’re careful you could even cut your own gasket on the machined edges using this method. It wouldn't hurt to use a light bead of silicone gasket sealant before installing.

The best way to prevent breaking the ram guide housing again it to have the hammer set up correctly. NEVER start the hammer with out the dies in it. There is a safety mark on the ram of all Nazel hammers. As you might have found out you don't want the stroke of you ram to exceed this make. I like to leave at least an inch or more margin for error. Have the right size dies in your hammer if they’re to short you will exceed the safety mark. If your 2B is a two piece have it on the correct size foundation. It the anvil is to low in the foundation your ram will exceed the safety mark. While redressing the dies as they ware don’t exceed the safety mark. One other thing about two pieces hammers. While setting up on a new foundation leave an extra inch of so more margin on the safety mark for settling and compression.

To remove the rust you’ll need to hone the cylinder. If you hone too much you’ll need to over size new cast iron rings. EVERYTHING should be well oiled before reassembling. Make sure which every type oilier you have (drip or force feed) an ample amount of oil is being feed to all critical parts before starting. As for oil, we use rock drill oil and some use 30 weight. ANY oil is better then no oil.

The best way to make your 2B in to a hot rod is to chase down and fix any and all air leaks. Get you hammer running first and there are few trick to boost it’s performance. Most important don’t try to do more with the hammer then what it was intended to do. If the hammer to small for the type of work you’re doing moves up to a bigger hammer.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 14:11:42 GMT

Defense of Helm Article: Atli, Go get em!

You have pointed out a problem that plagues the Internet. Unmoderated Forums. They "moderate" them for certain things but rarely the truth. Many of these unmoderated forums are the source of some of the most amazing fantasies cloaked as truth. I'm sure that some of the blade forums are the source of many of the incredibly stupid questions that we get here over and over and patiently try to set straight.

WE are not perfect at anvilfire but we certainly try to dispense truthful advice.

Your helm article Atli & Tadgh Make a Helm was presented as exactly what it was. A learning experiance (backed by previous experiance). It was also a TON of work both DOING the project and RECORDING it.
Thank YOU!

OBTW- I met Eric Thing at Flagstaff! Great guy, wish we had more time to chat.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 14:25:16 GMT

My dad is a blacksmith of the old school. He uses a coal forge, and a few years ago, he helped me to make a chisel for my job. The chisel I was using to break apart hardened cast iron sprockets was damaged--the wedge was collapsing. When I showed the chisel to my dad, He took a file to it, and drew the edge of the file across the wedge, the shaft, and the top. They had all made the same sound, and he told me that there was nothing he could do to fix the chisel. Fortunately, he had a piece of tool steel, and he helped me make a good chisel. After he'd shaped it, he heated the steel to red hot (no blistering), and quenched it. Then he re-heated it at the center of the shaft, and watched the colors move down to the tip as it cooled. He quenched it when the tip was a "peacock" shade. When he was finished sharpening the blade, he drew the file across the wedge, the middle, and the top: I could hear three distinctive sounds--far different from the factory manufactured chisel I'd bought for five bucks at Wal-Mart.
Anarchy Jack  <Anarchyjack at AOL.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 14:30:55 GMT

My dad is a blacksmith of the old school. He uses a coal forge, and a few years ago, he helped me to make a chisel for my job. The chisel I was using to break apart hardened cast iron sprockets was damaged--the wedge was collapsing. When I showed the chisel to my dad, He took a file to it, and drew the edge of the file across the wedge, the shaft, and the top. They had all made the same sound, and he told me that there was nothing he could do to fix the chisel. Fortunately, he had a piece of tool steel, and he helped me make a good chisel. After he'd shaped it, he heated the steel to red hot (no blistering), and quenched it. Then he re-heated it at the center of the shaft, and watched the colors move down to the tip as it cooled. He quenched it when the tip was a "peacock" shade. When he was finished sharpening the blade, he drew the file across the wedge, the middle, and the top: I could hear three distinctive sounds--far different from the factory manufactured chisel I'd bought for five bucks at Wal-Mart.
I'm in college now, and taking a speech class. I need three published sources for an informative speech, can you help provide me with one?
Anarchy Jack  <Anarchyjack at AOL.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 14:37:27 GMT

My dad is a blacksmith of the old school. He uses a coal forge, and a few years ago, he helped me to make a chisel for my job. The chisel I was using to break apart hardened cast iron sprockets was damaged--the wedge was collapsing. When I showed the chisel to my dad, He took a file to it, and drew the edge of the file across the wedge, the shaft, and the top. They had all made the same sound, and he told me that there was nothing he could do to fix the chisel. Fortunately, he had a piece of tool steel, and he helped me make a good chisel. After he'd shaped it, he heated the steel to red hot (no blistering), and quenched it. Then he re-heated it at the center of the shaft, and watched the colors move down to the tip as it cooled. He quenched it when the tip was a "peacock" shade. When he was finished sharpening the blade, he drew the file across the wedge, the middle, and the top: I could hear three distinctive sounds--far different from the factory manufactured chisel I'd bought for five bucks at Wal-Mart.
I'm in college now, and taking a speech class. I need three published sources for an informative speech, can you help provide me with one?
Anarchy Jack  <Anarchyjack at AOL.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 14:38:20 GMT

Please Note:

Upon further investigation (I finally found the "profile" button), some miscreant is posing as me in the Armour Archive. When I pulled up the profile, the person lists himself (herself?) as a "Federal employee" interested in "blacksmithing and Viking ships" and living at "Oakley, MD". (If you live in Oakley, you're either kin or you know me! Ain't no other "Atli" in Oakley!) They do not give a return e-mail address or website.


If anybody has any information on this, please contact me immediately!

Thanks for the support Jock, and thank you all.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 15:19:39 GMT

Imposter: Bruce, Report the problem to the webmaster at the Armour Archives. The webmaster SHOULD be able to trace the DNS address from his user logs. This can almost always be matched to the users "real" name/login. If not then the time/date of access can be reported to the ISP whos DNS address the problem originated at. Most ISP's will terminate accounts of people that impersonate someone else.

We have had the rare occasion that someone posted in my name or someone elses. Once exposed these low lifes usualy sculk back to their slimy rock. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 16:22:25 GMT

Sources: Jack, For information on old time blacksmithing and exactly what your Dad did try Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing. For a more slightly more technical discussion and a temper color chart try Jack Andrew's Edge of the Anvil or the new edition NEW Edge of the Anvil. For a dry technical discription of hardening and tempering try MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK published by Industrial Press.

All three books are reviewed on our book review page. There is also a brief article on our 21st Century page titled Knives01 that describes blacksmith tempering.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 16:37:29 GMT


When you catch up with the jerk, give me a call. I'll give you a hand with him/her/it if you wish.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 17:53:55 GMT

where can i find blacksmithing coal?
james keiffer - Wednesday, 08/23/00 18:54:20 GMT

where can i find coal in southeastern penn.
james keiffer - Wednesday, 08/23/00 18:56:12 GMT

COAL: James you are in coal-country! Shouldn't be a problem. Go to any Fuel oil - coal supplier and ask for their best coal. Stoker coal is almost always a a good grade but "nut" coal is a better size for smithing.

If you don't have any local suppliers Wallace Metal Works sells bagged high grade coal and is in central PA.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/23/00 21:16:21 GMT


In the NEW prototype iForge classroom!

iForge Room 101

Currently the Slack-Tub Pub chat is the "Bull Pen" for the classroom. There will be a seperate one in the future. The demo goes on in the top frame and the bull pen in the bottom.

There is a box for you to ask questions seperate from the Bull Pen chater which does not go in the demo. Same rules apply to questions. Please wait until the demo is over.

Tonight the system is at about 50%. In the future there will be a help file and more sucinct instructions. The reason we are going ahead with the incomplete system is that when the demo is over it will be ready to post and review immediately!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 00:22:01 GMT

I actually work for a steel supply company in So California, and I have a customer who wants me to supply him with half rounds in various sizes. Any ideas as to where these can be obtained? I have found one supplier in Calif and they price the material like they are the only game in town! Your help would be much appreciated. Thank you!
Harold  <Hombrisimo at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 11:29:06 GMT

If I may add to the post on Nazel Rebuild.

The Nazel Literature recommends Steam Cylinder Oil. This is a lubricant made from tallow, wax and vegetable oil. It absorbs water and is relatively nonflammable. In my travels I have had the opportunity to hear stories about “The day the Nazel dieseled” . The dieseling occurred due to petroleum lubricants in the cylinders. The results ranged from a lot of smoke, flying tongs, butts over elbows and a hammer running on its own, to cracked rams. SCO oil is very heavy and sticky and serves as a soft sealant for the cylinder.
All the Nazels I have run and seen run over the last 30 years leaked a little air. I think this “Untightness” is part of the wonder that makes these hammers work well. Especially when quickly changing directions as in a single hit. If the ram will lift to the top and stop oscillating, I believe the hammer is tight enough. Further sealing may make the hammer erratic.
Can you really cut gaskets with a hammer?
JohnC  <careatti at crosslink.net> - Thursday, 08/24/00 11:58:43 GMT

Hammer Lube: Thanks John!

Yes you can cut gaskets (or at least lay them out with a hammer). I don't do it that way but I know a few mechanics that do. I DOES seem it should be the blacksmith way. . .

On the other hand. . I've gotten high tech on gasket making. Most gaskets are simple bolt circles with center holes and a circular outline. Picky things to layout accurately with a compass. SO. . . I make a quick CAD drawing, print it, temporarily glue it to the gasket material with artists spray rubber cement then cut the gasket with a knife, scisors or hole punches.

I originaly used this system to 'transfer' a layout to wood parts for a musical instrument. Just glued the drawings to the wood and cut it out with the bandsaw. Holes had to be drilled for some of the enclosed areas and were designed for hole saws. The CAD layout had perfect centers and the circle to tangent lines worked perfectly.

This is just another example of using the tools at hand to best advantage. The CAD system of making gaskets may seem a little extream to many smiths, however the techniques are the same as making layouts for a robotic torch that so many of us are depending on today. Yes, this IS the 21st Century.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 13:59:17 GMT

Using a hammer to cut gaskets is not new. A brass hammer works, or even a small ball peen. I like to use the small ball peen because the ball end wil also cut bolt holes.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 14:24:21 GMT

John, The old Nazel factory literature we possess and acquired recommended mineral oil. It’s my understanding Utility hammers hooked up to and powered by steam should use steam cylinder oil. It's recommend by other manufactures when Utility hammers are run on air to use rock drill oil. Rock drill oil is heavy also and contains sticking agents. It’s also recommended by my oil supplier to be used in all air-powered equipment. I assume it also has agents to boost its flash point to avoid dieseling. Wouldn’t want to be around “the day the Nazel dieseled”. In my opinion dieseling any air hammer would be considered abuse

True must hammers do leak air but I’d try to chase down and fix as many as possible with in reason to boost performance. If the ram lifts with in the ram housing and stops oscillating it might not be worth tearing the hammer down to fix a small leak. I agree to tight is far worse then to lose but a good air seal is optimum.

Yes, if your very careful you can cut gaskets with a brass hammer. I’ve seen it done by some with a plan ball peen hammer.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 14:30:27 GMT

Regarding aluminum being in contact with galvanized steel, is there any known health hazards associated with the residue caused by the bi-metalic corrosion process?
Rich  <rich at infiniteaccess.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 14:33:10 GMT

Half Round Stock: Harold, Most half round stock is used by farriers to make horeshoes and is available in small quantities from farriers suppliers such as Centaur Forge. From the Anvil's Ring I find:

Bayshore Metals, San Francisco, CA, 800-533-2493

There are others but I don't have the info readily available. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 16:19:20 GMT

"Wouldn’t want to be around “the day the Nazel dieseled”."

I don't understand what this term means. Is it just when steam is used or does this include air too? Does dieseling act like double-tripping?
Dale  <dale at savagecreekforge.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 16:27:12 GMT

Metal poisioning: Rich, There is always a hazzard when metals are concerned but there is a matter quantities and soluability. As creatures of the Earth our bodies require almost every common metal in some quantity including small amounts of zinc and copper compounds. Our blood carries oxygen using iron . . .

The problem with most manufactured metals is that starting with the ore and smelting process most metals contain other metals including lead. Then there is the form of the metals. Many metal salts are poisons where other compounds are not.

It all depends on how and where the metals are applied. Are you building medical or food handling equipment??
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 16:37:50 GMT

Dieseling: Dale, Dieseling is the process of an engine running via "auto ignition." Compress fuel or oil vapor and air at a high enough temperature and pressure and they ignite. Diesel engines don't use spark plugs, they use high compression.

The poorly designed gasoline automobile engines of the 1970's that had add-on emmision control systems rather than redesigning the engine dieseled uncontrolably when the ignition was tuned off due to the high engine temperatures. Uncontroled ignition in an engine results in it running when you don't want it to AND possibly running backward OR even two directions at the same time when there are multiple cylinders.

Air hammers or steam hammers converted to air can diesel under certain conditions. An over heated hammer is most likely to diesel. A hammer running oil with two low a flash point is likely to diesel. Combine the two and you have real trouble. At that point the hammer will begin to cycle uncontrolably AND with a lot greater force than usual. It most commonly starts while the hammer is in use which means that someone is holding work under the hammer when it begins to cycle explosively.

To reduce heating NAZEL designed their hammers to use large quantities of fresh air, taking in fresh and exhausting it on each stroke. Certain imported hammers have displayed a cylinder overheating problem and I expect it is due to recyling too much air.

Dieseling is a serious problem in machinery.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 17:13:45 GMT

I have some wooden planes that I use in woodworking. One of them has almost no hard steel left(the plane and iron were probably made in the 1800's) on the edge of the plane iron. Could you suggest someone who could weld high carbon steel to the plane iron so that it can continue to be used? Any advice? I am still an amateur at blacksmithing and don't trust myself to successfully hammer weld the blade. I'd appreciate any information that you can provide.
Jim  <Wudcarvr at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 17:38:03 GMT

The product we are concerned with has been designed such that a galvanized pipe is being inserted into an aluminum tube. There is noticable residue on the pipe after removing it from the aluminum tube. This residue is getting on peoples hands and could be transfered to food products and therefore ingested or come in contact with their eyes or open sores. Is this a potential problem?
Rich Black  <rich at infiniteaccess.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 18:00:18 GMT

Rich Black. I would be concerned.
I have worked in a Copperplant where different zinc-salts where a bi product. I handled them daily and we where told to wash our hands twice before eating and not only hands but all bare skin, hair... that was necessary as it could become accumulated to dangerous levels over a few days... so I'd be safe rather than sorry.
I have tried zinc-vapour poisoning when welding (the zinc was not apparent as it was on the inside of a construction being welded) and believe me its far from pleasant.
of cource that was probablu much higher doses.... but(se above)
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 19:37:18 GMT

Residue: Rich, What's the pipe carrying? If the residue is a white pasty stuff its probably zinc oxide. If its black its aluminium oxide or possibly a mixture of iron and aluminium oxide. Under certain acidic conditions iron oxide is black. None of the above are toxic that I know. Zinc oxide is the pigment used in the white sunshield that people put on their nose. However, I don't know about ingestion. I'm not a chemist and this is getting way out of my area of expertise.

The only way to tell is to have the residue analyzed. Most (not all) metal oxides are fairly inert but metal salts (formed by acids) are highly soluable therefore easily absorbed.

Sounds to me like you need to have the aluminium part anodized and the steel part replaced with stainless.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 19:38:08 GMT

Plane Irons: Jim, the modern replacement should be a single piece of tool steel. The reason the old blades were two pieces is the cost of steel. Unless your plane irons are from the very early 1800's they are probably all steel (the weld joint will be apparent if there is one). There is a good chance the irons were selectively hardened and tempered (like the soft tang of a file). In this case you have not run out steel but out of hardened material. Before going any further you need to study up on hardening and tempering.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 19:47:14 GMT

I am trying to find information on how to color-case harden low carbon steels and where to buy the ingredients to do so. I am primarily interested in coloring gun parts.
Thanks, Gene
Gene Davis  <redavis at ohiohills.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 20:01:13 GMT

Rick Black,

Not clear from your description whether or not a food product is passing through the galvanized pipe, but the FDA Food Code does not allow galvanized materials to be used as food contact surfaces. If this is a food safety question contact me off - line, and I'll see if I can provide any asistance.
David Smith  <dcsmith at clemson.edu> - Thursday, 08/24/00 21:48:32 GMT

David, Thank you.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 22:22:00 GMT

COLOR CASE HARDENING: Gene, All it takes other than common case hardening equipment it a special quenching tank. You will have to build it and do the operational R&D as this is not a common tool.

It took me nearly 20 years to find this tid-bit of information and is what set me on researching blacksmithing and my final interest in it.

Fancy color casehardening is produced by quenching the heated parts in water that has air bubbling through it. The air produces the common temper oxide colors. As the part cools the colors vary. Simple! I expect it takes a lot of air to get the pretty marbelized finish that is common on shot gun recievers.

Case harden the clean polished parts in the sealed case hardening container as usual. Open the container immediately above the quenching tank and quickly dump the entire contents in the tank. The better the polish the brighter the colors. Like all coloring processes, the parts also need to be absolutely clean and should not be handled bare handed prior to finishing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 22:43:32 GMT

I am an amature smith with on real experience with steam or air forging hammers. I have years of experience with steam, air, and diesel pile driving hammers. I was suprised that dieseling was a problem in forging hammers. Ice and freeze ups can be a problem for both single and double acting air pile hammers with temptures well above freezeing if the humidity is high. The freezeing is caused by the same laws of physics that allow deep freezes to make ice and diesel engines to run with out spark plugs. My experenece with diesel pile hammers tells me I dont want to be in the neighborhood should any steam or air hammer go diesel. Has anyone ever attempted to build a diesel forgeing hammer along the lines of a diesel pile hammer?
John Wallace  <PDWeldor3 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 22:44:52 GMT

Dieseling: John, I don't think to (invention). The type hammer that has a dieseling problem is a self contained air hammer that has the compressor cylinder built into the hammer (NAZEL, Kuhn. . ). Air compressors heat the air and so does passing through piping and restrictions. The type hammers you are dealing with have had the heat taken out of the air at the compressor end. When the pressure is released the air needs that heat and absorbs it from the surrounding piping. Self contained air hammers do not have intercoolers or radiators on them such as compressors do. They also need very fine control that a "fuel powered" hammer would not have.

Did you know that the inventor of the steam hammer, James Nasmyth, also invented the steam pile driver? Yep, back in the 1840's. We have a link to his on-line autobiography on our book review page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/24/00 23:20:41 GMT

Thank-you, I read chapter on Pile driving hammers.They have not changed much since their invention over 150 years ago a credit to Mr. Nasmyth's genius.
John Wallace  <PDWeldor3 at aol.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 02:55:38 GMT

Nasmyth also invented the shaper, the lathe feed reversing mechanism and the foundry safety ladle among hundreds of other minor inventions. If he had not graciously bowed out of an offer by Bessemer, the famous Bessemer steel conversion process would have been known as the Bessemer-Nasmyth process. Bessemer offered co-inventor to Nasmyth when he saw what Nasmyth had been doing independently. Nasmyth said that he had, "money and honours enough for one man" and declined the offer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 03:39:19 GMT

more nazel
i've used a 2b nazel every day for the last three years with non detergent 30 weight motor oil being supplied to the hammer with a manzel oiler, no problems. .035" paper gaskets from the auto parts store cut (very gently) with a small pall pien hammer on the castings, no sealant other than a finger of the same 30 wt oil. air leaks around the cylindrical valves can be disasterous! as can leaks around the heads. and by the way, marte, mark s. krause wrote a very comprehensive book about the operating system of the b series nazel hammer.
mark s. krause  <kbmk13 at prodigy.net> - Friday, 08/25/00 07:25:24 GMT

Shop Safety
I just read in the Richmond Times Dispatch of an accident in Spottsylvania Va.
3 people were killed when a 250 gallon oil tank exploded. Evidently the tank was being welded or flame cut. Were they fixing a leak or making a pig cooker? We will never know.
Cant be too safe guys.
JohnC  <careatti at crosslink.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 12:05:44 GMT

John C.

Thanks for posting that accident report! Do you think you can possibly get any more details?

Cutting ANY kind of closed container with an axy/acetylene rig is always hazardous!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 12:23:21 GMT

Guru, What is your preferred method for finishing a wrought iron piece (besides painting). I have heard many people try oil wax mixtures, but I havn't had much luck myself.
Bret  <banderson at acs.roadway.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 13:13:47 GMT

I know of a safe way to weld containers fill them with carbonmonoxide. hook a tube up to the tail pipe of your car start the motor let it idle for 15 or 20min so as to fill the tank then cut away I learned this trick from an old timer that welded gas tanks as far as I know he never lost one. the only time this dosn't help is when the hole you are patching is about as larg as the inlet, as the gas can go out as fast as you fill it. thow I still dont know if I would push my luck and try it, best to pay someone else with all the safty stuff to do it.
mp  <mparkinson at pmmetalworks.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 13:20:39 GMT

As far as the tail pipe trick is concerned, there can still be some O2 in that exhaust, not to mention unburnt fuel! The best way is to flush any residue out of the tank and flood it with an inert gas such as CO2 or nitrogen. There were some excelent solvents that were useable to flush out the tank with and they were non falmable and heavier than air so that the vapors from the solvent would prevent any possibility of fire. But alass the EPA has deemed them as a danger to our world and they are harder to get now. The one I am thinking of was (please forgive the spelling) tricloretheliene 1,1,1 Good stuff if you can get it.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Friday, 08/25/00 13:36:10 GMT

Trichloroethane 1,1,1 I We still had some at my last place of employment. Very good solvent, but also a known carcinogen.
bret  <banderson at acs.raodway.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 13:40:54 GMT

Finishing: Bret, It depends on the type of work. For architectural work there is only one dependable finish. Sandblast, zinc prime, neutral prime, top coat of color fast weather resistant paint (See articles on finishing on 21st Century page).

For interior work lacquer finishes work well over CLEAN ironwork. If clear is used the work must be heated all over and wire brushed to produce a uniform thin tight coat of iron oxide scale. If coal is being used then you have to be very careful to remove any coal plating.

Oil/wax finishes are "quick and dirty" finishes and have been pushed as "natural" and "old fashioned" finishes by various folks. We've all used them but they are lousy high maintainance finishes. The "natural" condition of iron is rust. Rusted to dust!

Paint is made from oil, wax, solvents and driers. You will find the exact ingrediants in recipes for "natural" wax finishes. All you are doing is being an amature chemist. Modern finishes formulated by professionals are better than ever. Why not give your customer the best?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 13:42:44 GMT

Exploding Tanks: Start with a CLEAN dry unused tank filled with argon. Start cutting on it with an oxy-acetylene torch. In a few seconds the tank will be filled with oxygen and unburnt acetylene. It WILL explode!


Internal combustion engine exhaust is a mixture of carbonmonoxide and often unburnt or partialy burnt hot vaporized fuel. Exhaust gas IS NOT an acceptable purge. There have been terrible accidents using exhaust gas purges.

The only safe purge is an ACTIVE purge. The tank must have sufficient openings to change the air in the tank faster than explosive gases can build up and without presurizing the tank. Fresh air OR inert gas can be used.

For cutting small tanks it is best to water fill the tank. Better yet, don't use an oxy-fuel torch. Use a mechanical method. Saw or use a panel splitter.

Tank cutting accidents are common and always catastrophic. There is a lot of bad advice floating around that usualy comes from lucky fools that haven't lost their head YET. Just because some FOOL got away with it once doesn't mean you will.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 14:15:20 GMT

Apologies for starting a discussion on the safe way to cut tanks.
My intention was to stress safety; all safety not just tank cutting.
The Auto shop that blew up had been in business a long time.
you read the article:
You only get one chance to break the rules.
I get asked once a month to cut a tank or weld a tank or barrell.
I dont do it & I can still count to 21.
JohnC  <careatti at crosslink.net> - Friday, 08/25/00 14:54:52 GMT

Hotlink to that article:

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 15:38:12 GMT


I'll speak for the guru and myself both on this one!

NO apology needed! The fact that your message sparked a discussion is good, not bad! It gives us the opportunity to make a very important safety point!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 16:02:05 GMT

It's a LOT better than one of US being the example 'eh Scarface?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 16:58:18 GMT

I smell a story here!
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 08/25/00 17:31:42 GMT

Olle, check the last iForge "demo". Safety - I
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 18:08:34 GMT

I intended to state that the purge needed to be in your words an "ACTIVE purge" Thank you for making sure that fact was brought out
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Friday, 08/25/00 18:29:50 GMT


You got it!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 08/25/00 18:55:04 GMT

Guru, Have recently acquired a nice drafting table and have started doing some drawings of several proposals. Question: What is the best way to draw scrolls for a shop drawing/blueprint. Can't seem to find the right templates in the drafting supply. Thanks, TC By the way I hope you are planning on attending the California Blacksmith Assoc. "Oktoberfest" next month. Great event, comeraderie, and spectacular scenery along California's North coast.
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 00:49:31 GMT

Templates: Tim, I have a huge collection of templates. Ellipse sets up to 3" in 5° increments, 6" staged ellipse, metric circles and ellipses, gear teeth, bolt heads, symbols, hexes and of course, various French curves. . .

French curves are at best portions of spirals and assume you have a layout to match sections and use the tool as a guide for pencil or pen. For spirals I've found sections of circles work best though not mathematicaly correct.

For 99% of my lifetime of drafting I have used 1/8" grid mylar drafting film. K&E Herculon is the best. To do repetitve spirals or any unusual component I would carefully draw the object. Then copy it to plain paper and use it as a tracing template. The clarity of the mylar film is such that it is easy to make accurate hand tracings. HOWEVER, it is limited by the relatively soft waxy pencils that are used. Its best feature it that erasures do not show when prints are copies are made. Drafting papers compress where lines are drawn and the compressed paper prints almost as clear a unerased pencil lines.

Good drawings on mylar ALMOST rival ink drawings for crispness of copies but it takes practice to get that quality. I never stressed the quality of my fine lines as long as they worked. I also have a collection of a brand of pencil sharpener (no longer made) that has a steeper angle than standard. The pencils for mylar are soft and break easily. The steeper angle does not break so easily.

Other options. . . There are machines on the market that you type in text and they output tape with the lettering. The tape is like scotch magic tape and when on the drawing blends right in. However, the extra layer shows on blueprints. Copies have to be made by Zerography. The same technique can be used with a grade of peal and stick paper that can be run through a copier OR lazer printer. You can make your own title blocks OR paste-on details. WORKS GREAT! The last gate I designed I drew one half, copied it on peal and stick and put it on the back of the mylar drawing. The result was a perfect mirrored image and the drawing took a LOT less time. . . I drew all the scrolls by hand.

For large projects (any architectural job) with repetitive elements CAD is the way to go. With today's technology you can make a hand sketch, scan it, use it as a back ground or quide to trace elements using CAD tools. Then in minutes you can copy the elements hundreds of times. . . rotate them, mirror them, scale them up and down. . . . but it is still easier to draw truely sensual curves by hand.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 01:48:14 GMT

Hi all,

I want to make a drawplate for drawing wire.Can you tell me some way/ways to make it.The diameter of the wire I want to make is 0.7mm.

Should the hole on the drawplate be beveled?

I thought of making a beveled hole by making a punch with a tip that has the exact shape of the hole I want to make and then heat the drawplate and forge the hole with the punch, but the punch that woul be hardened would loose its hardness because of the great heat from the heated drawplate.

Another way I thought of is to drill the plate with a drill 0.7mm diam. and then make the beveled hole by punching the drilled hole while the drawplate is cold.

Could any of these method work?

Can you tell me the steps that should be followed when drawing wire with the drawplate?

Thank you very much.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Saturday, 08/26/00 02:13:28 GMT

Draw platesGeorge, Drill the hole, polish the hole, chamfer the hole (60°) about 1/2 way through the plate then harden the plate. You will want several holes so that when they wear out you can use another.

I couldn't find specifics on wire drawing but I expect that you will only be able to reduce the size of annealed wire about 10%. Therefore you will need several size holes to get from your initial size to the finished size. The percentage will vary according to the material.

To draw wire you must start with throughly annealed clean (descaled) and polished material. Industrial wire drawing has been a specialty since the 1300's and as a specialy had specialized workers. A "barman" prepared the blanks for rolling and drawing.

The blank is then hand worked to size for several inches (50mm) so that it fits the drawing die. The end of the wire is then gripped with self tightening tongs or grippers and pulled. Large wire was pulled by horses. Small precious metal wire was attached to a cylinder with a hand crank.

The blank and die must be lubricated. A wax lubricant is recommended. There are step by step drawings of the process in Diderots Encylopedia.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 03:26:05 GMT

RE chlorinated solvents....Keep them away from heat and especially arc welding light..makes really nasty compounds
pete F - Saturday, 08/26/00 05:47:59 GMT

George, Regarding scroll templates, I have a set of templates for scrolls that I bought from The Ngraver Company in Bozrah Conn. It came as a 3 piece set for laying out jewelery engraving scrolls with the leaves. There are 25 different size scrolls ranging from about 3/16 to 2" in diameter.
Since you are doing scale drawings this sounds like just what you need. I do not have their catalog handy but I can say they have a lot of very cool things at fairly reasonable prices. Some of the books they carry are fantastic. And they are nice people to boot.
See what I mean about keeping your eyes open to other crafts?
Moldy  <Moldy> - Saturday, 08/26/00 06:16:45 GMT

Thank all you for the help!

Does somebody have any idea on a more primitive way of making the drawplates? After all ,as I've read, ancient people also used drawplates for drawing wire.

Thank you.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Saturday, 08/26/00 10:14:03 GMT

George, How would you define "primitive"? What the Guru described is just the proper way to make wire, and it´s been made that way even in prehistoric times. "Primitive" isn´t the same as "simple".
Olle Andersson  <Utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 08/26/00 12:01:55 GMT

Would anyone know where to get new blades for an edwards #5 shear. I went to the edwards shear web site but they just seem to have big power shears and equipment, way too big for us old country boys. Any help will be appreciated. The blades are not bad yet yet but would like to have replacements to put back for the day when new ones may not be available (if they are available now?) Thanks again, Russ.
Russell Warner  <rgwarner at flinthills.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 12:43:03 GMT


Small piece of information. Oerjan, and Olle are both archeologis, if I remember correctly, and Bruce Blackistone is a historian. (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 13:21:23 GMT

That should be

arceologists, of course.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 13:22:22 GMT

Guru, please fix the spell checker! (wry grin)

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 13:23:24 GMT

Olle, when I said "primitive", I meant the way ancient people might have made wire.

I didn't in any case want to downgrade (sorry for my english) the informations Guru shared with us, I just am very curious to find out how ancient people made their drawplates.I imagined, correct me if I am wrong, that metal drills with diameters as small as 0.7mm, weren't in use at ancient times.That's why I asked about a more primitive way.

Thank you very much for all the informations.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Saturday, 08/26/00 15:04:39 GMT

Draw plate and levels of technology:


I am a LONG time student of technology and when someone asks for a simple or primitive method I give the most primitive modern equivalent using commonly available tools.

Drilling holes is stone age technology. You CAN NOT punch the type of hole you describe. Not even using modern hot work super alloys. You might punch a steeply tapered
hole but wire drawing requires a length of 3-4 diameters of cylindrical (parallel sided) hole.
Primitive Hole Drilling

Shape a piece of hard dry bone into shaft the diameter of the hole (yes I know its very small) on one end and about one finger's diameter on the other. Then fashion small bow about a cubit long using green hardwood (olive wood is the traditional one used in Greece) and sinue for the "string". Alow the bow to dry or fire dry it with it sprung about 80%. After it is dry and springy tighten then sinue. You will also need a hard glassine rock (flint, amorphorous quartz) for the upper pressure bearing. This needs a shallow depression so it takes LOTS of searching for the right piece OR it can be drilled using the same method described here.

Fine silica sand (its a small hole) and water is used as a drilling agent. Apply to the surface to be drilled. Also lubricate the large end of the drill with rendered lard. Twist one loop of the sinue around the drill. Then apply gentle pressure and start drilling. You may want to carve a starter hole with a small flint burrin.

Keep applying water and fine sand. Lift the drill occasionaly to let sand get under the point. Rinse the swarf away often and use fresh sand.

The quality and the fineness of the sand is very important.

The hole will be oversized and be tapered but this is what you want for drawing wire. Just before the hole breaks through you will want to fashion a pointed drill to make the tapered side of the hole (the natural taper will be too slight).

Bow drills were used up until modern times when electric motors became universaly available in various sizes. Hand cranked blacksmiths drills predated this by only about half a century but these took advantage of the steam era for the motive power to manufacture them. Bows were also retained by jewlers and watch makers for drilling holes and powering small lathes until very recent times (may still be in use).

The above drilling method works well in hard materials such as precious minerals, bronze and steel. However, it IS slow and requires a helper for optimim operation. It does not work well in soft materials.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 15:47:01 GMT

I would like to know the name(s) of the parts of a coal fired forge from the damper(?) up into the forge itself,specifically the t(????) iron. Also,if available, the approximate value of this practically mint condition forge. It is approximately 32X42 with water reservoir and good fan(bellows).
Thanks for any info.
Bob Kuhns
R Kuhns  <irkuhns at ourtownusa.net> - Saturday, 08/26/00 21:17:05 GMT

No PawPaw. I'M not an archaeologist. Studied history yes but not that level. I’m a student of old ways though. And I have tried as many as I could find mentioned.

The pump drill is another old method for holes.

A narrow 12-18” hardwood dowel (lets say 1/4") with a drill (bone, flint, steel...) glued with resin in a hole at one end.
A 8"by 1” by 1/4” hardwood plate with a 1/4" hole (little larger just so the shaft rotates freely) in the middle and one 1/8" hole about 1/8"from each end.

A line little over twice the length of the shaft.
A hardwood flywheel, say 3"diameter by 1/4" thick.
Tread the shaft through the hole in the flywheel and fix it there about 2-3"from the end with the drill, I use thin wedges and/or pine-resin.
Now it’s time for the plate with the 1/4" hole. The string is attached in the 1/8" holes and goes over the shaft (in a small 1/4" by 1/8" notch) forming a triangle with the plate. You want the line to be just long enough so the plate and the flywheel doesn’t interfere with each other , lets say a 1/4" clearance.
Twist the shaft so the line snakes in a nice tight double helix down it now put the drill where you want the hole and push the plate down. The action is just like a Jo-Jo. It’s easier than the bow drill in that you have one hand to steer with

Olle: you could have mentioned the ooold way to make tin embroidery wire up north.
I have tried it on tin, probably not good for much else. Horn from moose/reindeer as drawplate-material, did the holes by burning them with a red-hot copper wire (the side I started on gets larger diameter automatically). and used lanolin as lubricant (wool fat).
just done it a few times as a learning experience though and the hole gets larger F A S T. it has looong traditions here in northern Sweden. Especially among the reindeer herding people(or if it’s the reindeer herding them no idea, noo im not making fun of them, its just that the raindeer have made their routes loong before they where semi tamed).
Sorry for the looong posting. Tend to get like this sometimes.
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 21:20:26 GMT

Guru, thank you for the infos on primitive drilling.It seems that my imagination didn't get that far.I had no idea that sand and water could be used as an drilling agent for drilling holes.

OErjan, thank you for all the ideas.I will experiment.


George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Saturday, 08/26/00 21:32:48 GMT

Sand and water: George, after making the wire it can then used with sand and water to cut blocks of stone. . Quaries still use this technique. I expect the same technique was used with sinue. Modern "water jet cutting" actualy uses abrasives mixed with the water to cut hard metals.

OErjan, Horn seems soft for wire drawings but I can imagine some bone being hard enough for soft metals. Our ancestors were much closer to the animals they butchered and the natural materials they had available. They understood details of usage that we will never know.

I forgot the pump drill. Much higher velocity and though similar to the bow drill is a BIG jump tecnologicaly speaking. People but high importance in the evention of the "wheel" but the development of these type tools were MUCH more important to humankinds development.

Drawing wire in gold and silver probably predates many other forms of metal working. Especialy in gold since it is soft and doesn't work harden.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 21:55:06 GMT


OK, I'd mis-understood then. Thank you for the correction. (that is sincere not sarcastic)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 08/26/00 22:57:05 GMT

i'm brand new -just got an anvil --how do i determine the correct height to set it at ?? this is a 100+lb. anvil??

bill  <wbam878611 at aol.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 00:23:22 GMT


On the iForge page, check out the demonstration on hammer control. There's a picture of the demonstrator with his knuckles resting on the face of the anvil. That's the traditional "correct" height for an anvil.

That said, some folks like them a little higher, some a little lower.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 00:48:10 GMT

Horn vs. Antler

Seems to be a little translation problem. What OErjan is referring to is antler, which is harder, denser, and more "mineralized" than horn. Antler is closer to tooth and bone in consistancy, whereas horn is closer to our finger nails. (actually, I think both are nails and horn are keratin (sp?).

I could pull some more research, but I have to head off to Tucson tomorrow. (Hope to link up with my armorer friend, Eric Thing.) Anyway OErjan's antlers would probably work really well for drawing soft wire. Antler was also used for combs and tool handles. Horns were used for drinking from and blowing through, but NOT for wearing on your helmet. (It's so "icky" whaen your helm gets tangled in the rigging!)

Paw Paw: Lately, Ive been more of a "hysterian" than an "historian". ;-) Your taxpayers' money at work, and more work, and more work, and more work... "Amo, amas, amat, amateur", the historian part I do for love.

Cool and calm on the banks of the lower Potomac. Firing up the forge when I get back. It will be a pity to disturb all those spiders and their webs!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Sunday, 08/27/00 03:08:07 GMT

Looking for information on bulding a small electrolisis bath? Also where can I go for information on working with brass/pouring/ molds? This is a cool site.
Scott Parker  <Scotty16 at mediaone.net> - Sunday, 08/27/00 03:34:03 GMT

Dear Guru,

I have a maddox/pick axe that I keep bending the flat blade while in use. I want to stress relieve or temper it so that it does not bend as easy, but not make it brittle. I have limited tools, like propane torch to heat treat the blade, but can get access to better. I guess the questions would be should I heat up the blade and air cool it or quench it in water, etc.

Thanks for your help. -Ray in Folsom, CA
Ray   <raymatt3 at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 05:42:01 GMT

I'm looking for plans/ tips/ advice for building a brick and or block chimney forge, side draft. ie; sixe os flue, opening at fire, smoke shelf y/n. I'm certain there've been articles written, I've not got there yet. thanks.
mike sluss  <mikesluss at aol.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 13:51:58 GMT

I'm a tool and die maker of 20+ years. I recently came across a small black smith shop and became interested in possibly working there duringthe summer months. Although I have never worked with a forge, is it realistic for me to think that I can do this, even with the good metals backround that I have. What resources would you suggest for me to investigate further?

Thank you,
Steve Van Epern  <svanepern at aol.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 15:02:53 GMT


Certainly! Go for it! Stay in contact here, and we'll help you as much as we can.

Go to the top of this page and click on the "Getting Started" article. You'll be able to eliminate some of the steps, thanks to you background.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 16:05:28 GMT

Steve, Jump at the chance!!!
I am a moldmaker/toolmaker. I have been forging knives and stuff for a few years and can tell you first hand it's great. The skills you already have will compliment your forging and the skills you learn while smithing will do even more to help you in you toolmaking career. Metalurgy, flow of materials, how things behave all are a big asset to either trade. I know that at various shops I have worked at it can be somewhat of an insult to say someone is working like a blacksmith. ("What do you think this is? A blacksmiths shop?") I say the people that think that way are just ignorant!
To be a smith is a very nobel trade.
Although I would probably so more smithing in the winter than the summer.
Drop me a line and we can discuss things.
Moldy Jim.
moldy  <njordan at epud.net> - Sunday, 08/27/00 17:39:35 GMT

At least it works well the other way around. I´m re-training to become a toolmaker right now. I still have a tendency to hit things with a hammer when they won´t fit, but I´m working on it;-)
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Sunday, 08/27/00 18:17:19 GMT

Olle, If it doesn't fit, get a bigger hammer! Making perfect fits in hot iron is SO much easier than in cold iron (machining them).

Rivet in your tongs too tight? Heat them to a low red and work them back and forth. Too loose? Heat the rivet and give it a whack with a hammer! Adjustments are SO much easier in the blacksmith shop.

Yes Steve your background is perfect. You would be surprised how many times I send these guys to MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK for the answer to their questions.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 18:44:41 GMT

Brick Forge: Mike, Practical Blacksmithing by MT Richardson has several brick forge plans. See Getting Started for a list of books and book sellers.

Generaly smoke shelves are for domestic fireplaces although they are actualy a modern invention. They are a place to put the damper (valve) and also collect rain, snow and leaves that may fall down the stack. Old chimineys were just long funnels and they work fine. Industrial and furnace flues are just vertical pipes.

The brick flues at the Anderson Shop at Colonial Williamsburg VA have a place that sort of LOOKs like a smoke shelf but is not. Its just a convienient way to merge the side draft flue with the expansion chamber at the base of the stack. I guess its time I make a drawing. . .

Meanwhile look at the photos of the steel side draft flues in our NEWS coverage of the 1998 ABANA conference and AFC conference later that year.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 18:55:54 GMT


The nurse mis-counted. There WERE only 16 stitches. All gone now, thanks to my baby daughter.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 19:44:35 GMT


Can you tell me exactly what sinue is? I understood that it is use as a sting with the bow, but didn't manage to find out what material it is.I've searched also in some dictionaries but can't find the word.

Is the technique you told me about cutting stone the same as the one with the drill? You apply sand and water and then push the string and saw with it?

Thank you.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Sunday, 08/27/00 22:30:25 GMT

sinew: George, I'm very sorry. I misspelled the word so it would be hard for you to translate or find a definition.

Sinew, is a thread or string made of animal matter (skin or other material). "Catgut" musical instrument strings (actualy made from sheep intestines), for violins and harps are "sinew". (I think).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/27/00 23:09:23 GMT

Wrong AGAIN: George, My most please accept my most sincere appologies. I've been informed by Paw-Paw that sinew is the connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. However, for the purposes described any organic "string" will work. The most primitive being strings made of animal tissue. This was because of the lack of need to process and availability of material. Raw-hide would work but requires splitting. So does gut. Twisted thread, strings and rope are also early inventions but are not as primitive as using sinew.

There is an intresting bit of trivia in musical instrument lore where a translation of Ancient Greek says that "twine" strings were better Kithara strings than "gut". The translator assuming they meant the modern definition of twine, a twisted string made of plant fibre such as cotton or linen. This would produce a rough low density string that would NOT be as good a string. However, gut strings are twisted like rope to make larger sizes. The Greek Kithara being an equal length string instrument needs strings of different sizes to have a range of one octave. During this same era, rope for ship's rigging was made of of split hide (leather). Twisted gut strings would be a natural derivitive. The invention of twisted gut strings made it possible to increase the range of the instrument and WAS a great improvement. The number of strings increased from 4 to 7, then 9-11. The same strings are still in use today on fine musical instruments.

The reason the translators (or most of us) would not recognize the musical instrument string as a twisted "rope like" product is that the raw gut meshes together leaving no gaps. After it dries the outside is smoothed and polished so that it looks like a single round strand. If you look at the larger sized transparent strings in good light you can see the regular refraction of the light at the surfaces of the twisted strands. Sizing is performed by drawing the string through a sharp edged "shaving" die similar to, but opposite or drawing wire. Which is where we started.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 02:05:35 GMT

Guru... I need some help with a casting I would like to make... As a Dental Technologist I've cast many investments utilizing lost wax tecnique.... Problem... all the investments I've cast are small and would not fit into my oven moreover the crucibles I've used are small and the amount of metle being cast small.... I've got an large object that I would like to cast in Brass - It is a squaring / angle instument > so capturing the detail is important... I'm not sure a sand mold (like they cast a bell with) would capture the detail I need.


1. How sould I invest?
2. What manner if device is utilized to bring my investment up to tempature?
3. How do I heat, contain, and handle a large amount of brass?
4. Will I need to use a ton of borax flux to control oxides?
5. Should I vent the investment?

My ?'s are many If you can help point me I the right direction > it would be greatly appriciated...

Much Thanks, Scott
Scott Graves  <scottg at citcom.net> - Monday, 08/28/00 02:54:44 GMT

For Scott, I remember 25 years ago in my college metalsmithing class when someone tried casting with brass, The whole third floor had to be evacuated because the fumes weren't properly vented. Bronze would be safer, of course with proper ventilation...just a thought. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacvksmith at starsticker.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 03:09:23 GMT

e-mail correction...
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 03:10:57 GMT

I've been a pipefitter in Las Vegas for ten years. we
freqently use little wedges about 1" by 4" to adjust the gap between the pipes for butt-welding. I've heard a million stories on the best ways to make these, about hardening the steel, especially. what do you think?
Erik Stallman  <ejstallman at msn.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 04:01:21 GMT

I have been a pipefitter in las vegas for about 10 years. We frequently use these little 1" by 3" wedges for adjusting the gap between pipes for butt-welding. I've heard a million stories about the best way to make these, hardening the steel, especially. what do you think?
Erik Stallman  <ejstallman at msn.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 04:11:58 GMT

Casting Brass: Scott, You need to purchase C.W. Ammen's book Casting Brass. Check with Norm Larson. Ammen has a whole series of books for the small scale do it yourself foundryman. The information is written for small scale but is designed for the professional.

For a simple object I would not cast as an investment. The device you describe can probably be molded in a simple two piece plaster mold. The edges will need to have draft to get the master part out of the plaster but those are probably going to need to be machined or finished surfaces.

Support the object in oil clay (plasticene) up to the parting line. Pour half the mold. You may want to brush on the plaster to break up air bubbles. I use a slurry of ivory soap as a parting agent for plaster.

Flip over, remove the clay, cover the part and the plaster with parting agent and pour the second half of the mold.
During the mold making process you may want to use something to make the sprue and vents. All plaster cast parts need lots of vents. The riser/sprue needs almost as much mass as the part to feed it while the metal solidifies. IF you are going to make more than one part let half the mold dry for a few days then lacquer the surface. Use this as a master support for making more molds.

Part too complex for a two piece mold? Use more pieces. Clay and plaster are simple to handle. Don't forget to build in alignment tabs/pins so the mold goes back together cleanly.

Investment or not the mold will need to be calcined. This is heating the mold to as high a temperature as the plaster can withstand without reverting to its raw state. ALL the free water needs to be removed as well as some of the chemicaly bound water. This temperature is around 1,200-1,400°F

Remove the mold from the calcining oven just before pouring the metal. This assures a dry mold and helps prevent premature freezing of the metal.

For a melting pot check out page two of the NC-TOOL catalog on the Wallace Metal Works page. You will also need a graphite crucible and lifting/handling tools. Crucible are best purchased from a foundry supplier but can also be purchased from McMaster-Carr.

Brass and bronze is relatively high temperature casting. You might consider zinc Zamac or ZA-25 casting alloy. Melts at 875°F, pours at 1,100°F Its almost as strong as brass but not as pretty.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 04:31:29 GMT

Wedges: Erik, This is one of those little tools that should be purchased rather than made by the individual. A 50 cent item quickly becomes a $50 item. .

Well, they are a $2.40 item if you purchase machine setup wedges from McMaster-Carr. All their similar wedges for piping are four times as much. Still cheaper to buy them.

There are all sorts of ways to make wedges depending on how many you want to make and what equipment you have. A blacksmith with a 100# power hammer could knock these out fast enough to to wholesale them to Mcmaster-Carr. . . Over 100 an hour. We are talking the smallest of commercial shops. The parts would probably be quenched as they they are forged avoiding a seperate heat.

If you have a nice cut-off saw you set the vise at half the wedge angle and flip the work over for each piece. Start with 1" x 3" sized stock and the wedges just need deburing and the large end radiused. With a good saw you should be able to make 10-15 an hour. A professional smith could possibly hand forge them this fast. An amature will be lucky to forge 4-5 an hour.

Hardening and tempering is always dependant on the type of steel used. A medium carbon steel is sufficient. 1040 or 4140. Water quench at the non-magnetic point. Oil quench if hotter. Temper at 500-600°F for 30 minutes minimum. As a struck tool it should tempered to be relatively soft. These steels will still be plenty hard at the above temper.

Back to the cost effectiveness. . If you can make 4 finished wedges in 1 hour and the steel and fuel cost nothing then you are making $10 hour. The last time I worked for that wage gasoline was selling for 36 cents a gallon and a "big burger" cost 59 cents. . .

Of course back then the wedges would have cost 25 cents each and you'd have to make 40 of them in an hour to break even. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 05:42:14 GMT

If i might add to the smoke-shelf discussion...having made a bunch of free-form fireplaces and thus a bunch of smoking mistakes I had to fix, I'm opinionated.
The smoke shelf has 2 more purposes.
1It accelerates the velocity of the smoke stream by pulling it through a restricted slot ( generally 3"-4").
2 It presents a face to turn downdrafts around
Pete F - Monday, 08/28/00 06:18:23 GMT


No need to appologize.I searched the word in the dictionary and I understood what sinew is.
Guru, can you tell me if the technique you told me about cutting stone is the same as the one with the drill? You apply sand and water and then push the string and saw with it?

Thank you very much.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Monday, 08/28/00 10:15:59 GMT


In the description you gave of the process for making the mold, could pottery clay be used for making the mold instead of plaster?

Thank you.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Monday, 08/28/00 10:27:21 GMT


You can't push string very well, but you can pull it. That is the technique, Sand and a wetting agent, then pull the string back and forth.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 14:23:51 GMT

Cutting stone: Normally this is done with a continous loop of wire/string that is wrapped around pulleys and moves in one direction. Not back and forth. A worker feeds the water and abrasive at the start of the kerf (cut). Due to wear of the cutting device a long length is used and wrapped around a large pulley a number of times. I'm not sure how old this technique is but it has been used a very long time.

Clay can be used for molds. I'm not familiar with the process or the results. A fine refractory clay is often used a dip before applying plaster to wax investments. The clay produces a fine surface finish and can withstand higher temperatures than the plaster.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 15:13:05 GMT

Clay-molds (traditional)
Although there is no fixed recipie clay-molds actually contain more sand, ash or other non-shrinking matter than clay, so it becomes more like a free-standing sand-form.It could be as much as 90 % sand, depending on the stickiness of the clay, since shrinking is a serious problem. It can also contain large amounts of organic matter to make the clay pouro.. pur... less massive. (Spelling, anyone?)Take any soft, claylike substance from the animal kingdom you find laying on the ground and mix it with the clay, and wash your hand afterwards. Charcoal-dust or sawdust can also do. Smells less, anyway.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Monday, 08/28/00 15:48:35 GMT

You are right Paw Paw.

Guru and Olle thank you for the answers.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Monday, 08/28/00 16:01:34 GMT

Cutting stone with cord is very ancient technology. I have read that, in ancient times, generations of chinese peasents spent their whole lives in the service of the Emperor cutting Jade boulders in half using cord and sand.
Day in and day out they would sit and saw the boulder. The artifacts they created using such primative tools are incredible! Sand, bamboo, and stone tools in the hands of skilled workers can do amazing things.
There is an equivelent technique in use today in quaries for fine granite and marble, although they use a little more refined systems. As well as waterjet cutting, but if you think about it, even water cutting is as old as the hills if you count nature.
If you would like to try it yourself, take a piece of soft iron wire in a hack saw frame, using water and silicon carbide grit as abrasive, you can fairly quickly cut floor tile, stone, etc.
Using diamond grit I have done this and cut carbide with it.

Just because the society was primative, doesn't mean the people weren't as intelligent as the people today. Our brains are the same size as they were 2000 years ago.
moldy  <m> - Monday, 08/28/00 16:51:46 GMT

Intelegence: Moldy, good comments. We think of "primitive times" equaling "primitive man". People of early times were probably MORE intelegent than we are on average today. The really dumb, foolhardy and stupid did not live long when life was much harder.

We think of "stone age" civilization being very primitive but the people of these times were as Moldy pointed out, just as intelegent as today (try 20,000 years ago). This period should probably be called the Pre-Metal age rather than "stone age". Stone tools were highly developed as well as the leather, bone and antler tools made using stone tools. Art was a beautiful as any today. Clothing had "fashion" and style. Even before weaving was invented hide clothing was decorated by piecing together different color or texture hide. Sewing using bone needles just as fine as today and decorative top stitching was used as well as bead and shell work. Hides and woven cloth have been dyed since the beginning of time. Stone was cut moved and carved using pre-metal technology. So was timbre and wood. People with these skills would have also had poetry, song and music.

Do not underestimate the subtleties or complexity of early "simpler" technologies.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 17:37:02 GMT

I have a simple question, I am looking to find a blacksmith local to me (within 25 miles) as I would like to learn the art. I have read your how to get started article and I seem to have the background for it, I was a machinist for 5 years, then moved into the tire mold industry as a finisher for 8 years, I also took a machine repair class for 1 year and I am well versed in welding. My problem is that where I live in NE ohio I have not been able to find a blacksmith within 50 miles of my home. I feel as though I am being called to work with metal (call me crazy if you want) my great grandfather was a blacksmith I have all his handmade tools still and I feel like it is in my blood... any help finding a smith shop in the NE ohio area would be welcome..
Thank you for your time

Ty Hunsicker
Ty Hunsicker  <thunsicker at neo.rr.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 19:35:04 GMT

It's spelled porous. (grin)

In the early fiftie, I saw Japanese craftsmen using a minature "bow" saw to cut stone with string, water and abrasive, using the "back and forth" movement, rather than the continuous
string you describe. Probably the back and forth technique was used on small
work and the continuous string on large work.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 20:14:57 GMT

In the blood: Ty, I always had this "feeling" about blacksmithing. But none of my relatives were smiths. My grandfather Dempsey was a Jack of all Trades and ran a garage where, among other things, he built armoured cars for the bent nosed guys. . .

Years after getting into blacksmithing my father came home from a family funeral with a package of genealogy info. It turned out that my great great grandfather owned interests in a dozen iron furnaces in Southern Ohio and all his sons were Ironmasters. . .

Your 25 mile limit may be a problem. There are a LOT of smiths these days but thats really pushing it.

Your best bet is to contact the Ohio blacksmiths associations (there are several) and tell them you are looking for a smith in your area.

THEN, look in the yellow pages under Ironworks. Most blacksmith shops are listed under Ironworks, Welding, Railings. . . Rarely under "blacksmith". A few farriers do both but that it pretty rare too.

You will find that the vast majority of us have had to learn on our own. Although there are two smiths within 25 miles of me now, when I started, the nearest was over 120 miles away. The two near me have small production shops and don't take on students that I know of. Although most of us don't make a lot out or shops, when we ARE working shop time starts at $25/hour and may be as high as $200/hour.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 20:19:29 GMT

Power House Coal, under my advice please dont use it. It aint worth it. It fires up ok, but then is like Stove Coal in that you get surface heat but not downawrd heat to heat up the steel. Plus it has more sulphur than blacksmith coal. So I am a custom to the home made charcoal by burning wood down and using the coals. Thanks for all whome posted,
jeff spoor  <flaminganvil at yahoo.com> - Monday, 08/28/00 23:15:23 GMT

Is there onother way to keep a doug fir anvil stump from cracking besides putting metal bands arround it?
Andrew Dean  <avdean at compuserve.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 01:22:07 GMT

dear guru, when forging multiples of the same shape would traditional blacksmiths make a jig first to keep the accuracy. thanks, jeremy
jeremy colbert  <jeremydale74yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 03:09:22 GMT

dear guru, when forging multiples of the same shape would traditional blacksmiths make a jig first to keep the accuracy. thanks, jeremy
jeremy colbert  <jeremydale74yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 03:21:14 GMT

Shrinking Stump: Andrew, Checking it the natural order of things when using log sections. In most woods the checking is not harmful. It doesn't reduce the strength of the wood.

Banding will not prevent checking but might prevent cracking at edges. The problem with shrunk rings is that it is a real art. The wood must be completely dry (all the checking is complete). Then the bands must be carefully fitted and shrunk on. If the wood drys further it will shrink and the bands become loose again.

Wood workers soak large heartwood blocks with Ethylene Glycol to prevent shrinkage and cracking.

Personaly, I build box stands from 2x12 lumber and 5/8" plywood. These are light, just as strong as a solid stump and the open bottom keeps them from rocking on high spots on the floor or ground.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 03:27:36 GMT

Multiple Parts: Jeremy, Rarely are jigs suitable for forged parts but there are occasions when they are useful. Every part is a different case and you have to judge for yourself.

When making multiple parts you would be amazed at how well the human eye can judge sizes, lengths, shapes. First, it is important to start with equal size stock. Then gauges can be used for shoulders and diameters and such.

Some shapes need to be gauged or jigged. I made two series of "S" brackets that had to fit in a triangular space made of wood. The scrolls contacted the wood in three places on the large end and two on the small end. Holes were drilled at each of the five contact points. There were 15 of each size (about 2 feet long).

Before making the first scroll I made two triangular gauges or jigs to test the parts. These were made of 1/2" square bar stock arc welded together and carefully checked for straightness. Then I made a scroll jig according to a chalk drawing of the scroll. The scroll jig was used for both the large and small end for symetry.

On this type job determining the stock length is tricky. A lot has been written and said on the subject but when you forge a bean end and taper the bar before scrolling there is no accurate way to predict the needed stock. I came up with a simple solution.

I forged and scrolled the two ends seperately from measured bars. The two pieces were set in the jig and the extra material marked and trimed off one piece. The total remaining material was the amount needed. The two pieces were arc welded together as a sample. A perfect fit the first time with no "trial and error". Just a trial fit.

The parts were then cut, forged, matched to the sample and then fitted to the jigs. The jigs had chisle marks to transfer the hole positions from.

This job took two short days. It could have been done in one long day. The 30 parts all had the minor variations of hand forged scrolls but they all fitted the jig perfectly.
The wood worker had worried that they would fit his parts (so had I). I asked him what tolerance he held on this type work. He said better than +/- 1/32" (1mm) since they were all being made in one setup. I said, yeah. . . probably more like +/- .010" (.24mm). . . He smiled and said, Yes, but you don't claim that in wood work. I said, Not in wrought iron either but these parts would be +/- .005 (.13mm) and the total error would be taken care of by the springyness of the parts. When I delivered the parts I showed him the triangular jig. He smiled, took the parts and needed say no more.

Not all parts have this easy a solution. If I'd only needed to make 2 or 3 of these parts I wouldn't have made the jigs. But making over 4 or 5 parts the jigs easily paid for themselves AND then product was better. If the parts had been heavier than 1/2" stock and were not so springy then a jig might have been necessary to make ONE part.

When to make a jig and how to make them is an art. Some little tricks can be taught but the entire process cannot. Its a matter of experiance, practice and imagination.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 04:25:47 GMT

When my stump threatened to split in half, I simply cross-bolted it with big inset washers.
Pete F - Tuesday, 08/29/00 06:22:34 GMT

I recently purchased an old double edged dagger with a wooden handle on ebay. When I cleaned up the knife I discovered three marks on one ricasso that I believe are "touchmarks". The marks (from blade toward handle) appear to be a crown, a heart, and a double "x"-shaped mark that I can't identify. I am trying to get an idea of the knife's age, and possibly who made it. I looked in in Levine's guide, but there are no matching sequences of touchmarks. Would you be able to identify this knife, or do you have any idea where I can look for the information I seek? I would appreciate any information you could provide. I can email a picture of the knife and marks if you are interested. Thank you very much. -Chris M.
Chris M.  <hephaestus61 at netzero.net> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 06:33:58 GMT

just starting out in smithing,need suggestions regarding the best way of attaching a leg vice to a bench,does the leg remain free or does it have a cradle or something~ regards
doug guthrie  <dguthrie at primus.com.au> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 10:46:15 GMT


If you email a pictrure of the knife to me, OR scan it and send the scan of the touchmarks, I may be able to help you.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 12:40:30 GMT

Vise: Doug, The leg sets on the ground. The point in the center goes in a hole for location.

If your shop has an earthen floor then you need to set a post (like a fence post) as deep into the ground as possible, cut off at the right height and set a big steel washer on it to keep the vise from getting driven into the post.

If you have a concrete floor you need the same washer to distribute the load and just enough hole for the point on the leg to do into. OR you can use a heavy plate as thick as the point is long with a hole in the center. The plate can be bolted to the floor or have a thin piece of rubber under it to keep it from skidding around. You can also use a hardwood board with a thin metal washer.

The point is that a leg vise gets a lot of pounding done on it and the leg needs good support verticaly. They are not as good for bending as other vises but being forged they are the only vise that take the pounding of blacksmith work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 14:54:33 GMT

While researching a solution to making small photoetched parts I came upon some information on an alternative to ferric chloride called "ammonium persufate" (persulfate?) for etching brass. It is supposed to be considerably cheaper, less hazardous, and clear/nonstaining. It is available at chemical supply houses for ~$5.00 per pound of crystals.
It also doesn't need to be heated. It was recommended for use on brass, so I am not sure how it will work on steel.
I haven't used it myself so I can't say first hand, but it does sound like it might be worth trying.
Any takers?
Moldy  <njordan at epud.net> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 19:28:43 GMT

Guru... I am interested in getting into smithing, mainly as a hobby, making swords for reenactments, possibly armours, and decorative works. And I want to do all this the old ways, without machinery to an extent. What would be my best route? I really have no experience in the area, am a quick learner, and have an urge to create.
Themicles  <themicles at thesillyhood.org> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 20:52:23 GMT

wimmental  <aol.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 21:28:21 GMT

What kind of salary does a blacksmith make?
JAcob  <lakemurrayborens at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 22:09:55 GMT

Wim, They make perfect sense to me.

1. Non-consumable electrodes are used in TIG welding.

2. I tried to find the MIL spec but it is not available on-line. A tensile tester might be used. .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 23:51:46 GMT

PAY: Jacob, Today almost all blacksmiths are self employed, therefore don't get paid a salary. Many are also part-time or "hobby" smiths or "artist blacksmiths" and give away their time for much less than it is worth.

A skilled smith SHOULD be paid $25/hour and shop rates for many can be as high as $100/hour or more.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/29/00 23:57:57 GMT

Swords: Themicles, "without machinery" usualy means "without the proper tools" in this business.

Wedges and levers are considered the simplest machines. So that rules out a hammer and chisle. . . A networked computer is one of the most complex machines devised by man. So I guess you have already broken your own rule.

Blacksmiths are tool and machine builders. A grinding wheel is a type of machine, a bellows is a type of machine. Both have been used since the beginning of the bronze age. Usualy powered by a slave, apprentice or family member.

My slave is Electra and she is at my beck and call 24hrs a day.

Grinding is a LARGE part of making blades and other tools. Look in Diderots Encylopedia of trades and industries and you will find the blade and sword makers using large water powered grindstones. Because of the inefficiency of the natural stones the work was slow and tedious and the workers laid down on a support while they worked. . .

There are two schools of blademaking, forging and stock removal. The stock removal guys do it ALL by sawing and grinding. They believe you cannot get better conditioned material than as-rolled from the mill and that forging is likely to make a lower quality. They are probably right. However, forging is one of the most efficient ways to shape steel while grinding is one of the least efficient. . .

The problem IS that a forged blade needs to be ground and polished all over with the same type machinery used by the stock removal guys. You CAN do it with files and hand stones but you will find that good files are expensive and wear out rapidly doing this type work. An electric motor driven grinder will not cost much more.

I have had all the hand powered machinery. Its great stuff if you don't have electricity. Otherwise it is an expensive waste of time AND can be very frustrating. An inexpensive blower on your forge pays for itself in the first use. You also cannot have enough "wheels" in your workshop. Grinding wheels, polishings wheels. . .

See our Getting Started article and get the books recommended. Check out our armour articles on our 21st Century page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 00:48:32 GMT

I have inherited a old hand driven drill press. Forged on the side is the name "Champion Blower and Forge", Lancaster Penn. U.S.A. I know this Co. no longer exist. Where can I get information on this drill? It still works! Thank you.
Archie Barkman  <djbrkman at michiana.org> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 01:41:19 GMT

What kind of powder do you put in molds.
eric  <crash123333> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 01:52:08 GMT

what is the correct height to set your anvil at ?? is it knuckle height or something else ?? thankyou
bill  <wbam878611 at aol.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 02:26:50 GMT

Anvil Height: Bill, You got it. See our iForge hammer handling demo.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 02:37:15 GMT

Powder: Eric, Related to what?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 04:34:39 GMT

Drill Press: Archie, These machines were made starting sometime in the mid 1800's. One catalog I have gives patent dates of 1873 and 1889. I'm sure they were made earlier and these were minor design patents. A number of companies made this type of drill press including the other big blacksmithing equipment supplier Buffalo Forge.

Post drills came in a variety of sizes, the heavier machines being designed to be run off a belt and line shafting. They were made at least up until WWII and perhaps a little later.

The one unique feature of all blacksmith's post drills is that they were designed to take 1/2" shank "blacksmith's" drills. Opposite of modern bits with reduced shanks these had oversized 1/2" shanks from 1/16" bits up. These are no longer available but were in catalogs up to 1955.

To make my post drills more useful I've fitted them with 1/2" shank Jacobs chucks. They are great drilling machines (low speed, high pressure) but you really learn to appreciate Horespower when you drill the large size holes!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 05:04:01 GMT

Good Guru:
Hanging hammers seems to be an art. For no apparent reason that I can deduce, some perfectly good seeming hammer handles are a lot of extra work to use. When the handle is just right, the hammer almost floats. Why? Shape and where and how it flexes seems to matter some...but there s at least 1 other factor. Does it have anything to do with the pendular moment?
Pete Fels  <artgawk at nospamthegrid.net> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 07:06:17 GMT

Guru- I have just received a portable forge (and 500# of coal) and am now in the process of cleaning and setting it up the pan is 20" dia and 2.75" deep with a hand crank blower converted with a small low speed motor (an old hoover floor polisher) my ? is are there any advatadges or dangersto lining the pan with fire clay ?
Mark Parkinson  <mparkinson at home.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 12:39:16 GMT

Portable Forge: Mark, The sheet metal in these rusts out much more often than they burn out. Claying a forge helps prevent burnout but presents other problems. The first problem is that the clay will not protect the entire forge. An unattended forge with a good pile of coal can easily burn out the twyeer or grate clayed or not.

The second problem is rust. Coal ash is corrosive. Water that seeps through coal ash is VERY corrosive. This often becomes trapped under the clay. . . IF they forge is kept indoors and very dry the clay is not a problem. If the forge is stored outdoors OR you need to use a lot of water to control the fire (common when using good coal) then the clay may just aggrevate the corrosion problem.

I've SEEN burned out forges and own an old RR-forge that the entire bottom and heavy cast fire pot was burnt out. But I've never burned out a forge and none of my friends have either. I and everyone I know HAVE had problems with rust.

The best way to protect sheet metal forge pans is to empty it when not in use for a period of time and to paint it once in a while.

The thin cast iron pans are suseptable to cracking from heat. These need to be clayed OR have a layer of ash to protect the pan from extreams in heat. These are also suseptable to rusting out and should be cleaned after use and stored indoors.

In reality most of us do not clean our forges often enough and ashes my build up over months of use. The excess is shoveled out but rarely is the forge cleaned. However, coal ashes corrode hoods and stacks as well as forges. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 16:13:45 GMT

Hammer handles: Pete, There is a LOT of philosophical thought and speach about hammers and handles.
I've used hammers for intensive periods from about age 9 (some 40 years). I've used hammers as a sculptor (hundreds of hours chiseling wood and stone), as a carpenter (everything from tree houses to post and beam) and as a blacksmith.

I'll admit I've done some things wrong when I didn't know better. However, I've always been satisfied with factory hammers and handles. There is a huge advantage in this. Good quality hammers are very standard and if I lose a hammer I can get a replacement from most big hardware suppliers. It will feel right "off the shelf".

Various folks say hold the handle here or hold it there. . . I've always used a sliding grip like an axe (which I've also used a lot). I may hold the hammer within inches of the head one moment and by the very end of the handle at the top of the same stroke. I let inertia extend the grip toward the top of the stroke and change grips as the hammer "falls". These rapid changes are unseen unless you are looking for them. For most of the stroke the sliding grip means a very loose grip and the shape of the handle means nothing. However I DO like the little flare on most standard handles as it lets me know when the hammer is about to go too far.

I do not reccommend this technique to anyone. It is mine, it works for me. It was a natural development over a LONG time and many hours using hammers to do many things. It may be the perfect technique. It may also be impossible. I had it when I started blacksmithing and it didn't help develop the necessary control. But I don't think it hindered me. Control is something that takes time and practice no matter what technique you use.

As you can probably tell from reading this, YES, I do laugh at those that go on and on about the right grip and right shape hammer and on and on. . . A LOT of money has been made by these folks selling their system or philosophy and their special hammers and I'm sure they laugh at ME, all the way to the bank!

In the past couple years I have had the opportunity to observe the TOP blacksmiths in the world. They all use different grips (most static) that look funny to me as I'm sure my more dynamic grip would look funny to them.

Watch a Farrier at work. Not forging, but shoeing. Most farriers use a dynamic grip. Holding the hammer very near the head to start a nail and then letting it slide out as they raise the hammer to drive the nail and then back to the head to clinch the nail. . . A dozen different grips used in a few moments.

When I find myself tightly gripping the hammer in one place I know I am tired and its time to stop.

To answer your question about hammers that seem beter than others. I think the handle needs to proportioned to hammer. For every weight hammer there must be an optimum handle in size. Too heavy (large diameter) a handle on a small hammer feels really bad to me. Rarely are handle too small but when they are they too feel wrong to me. Handles without the standard taper with a slight bulge at the 2/3 point feel bad to me but I adapt to them faster than the wrong proportioned handle.

All this may be a matter of what you are accustomed to. After years of using a tool of a given proportion anything else probably feels wrong.

I'm a big believer in making your own tools. However, I never needed to make my own forging hammer. The only hammer I've ever considered making was a diagonal pien. And other than the angle of the pien the rest of the hammer would be hardware store standard. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 17:05:19 GMT

does anybody know where i can get plans to make a roll bending machine (cheap). I have seen it on the net before but cannot remember where.
bret  <banderson at acs.roadway.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 18:24:21 GMT

Roll Bender: Bret, I'm not sure but METAL WEB NEWS might have it. See our links page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 19:38:35 GMT

Wednesday Night Demo: Tonights demo is cancelled.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/30/00 22:58:22 GMT

I am just starting out to learn something of blacksmithing. Is there any type of electric forge available, as opposed to coal or gas?
Brian Cornish  <cornish at zoomnet.net> - Thursday, 08/31/00 00:16:47 GMT

I`d like to now what kind of powder do you put in molds
jone  <crash123333> - Thursday, 08/31/00 01:38:01 GMT

I`d like to now what kind powder do you put in molds.
jone  <crash123333 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 01:43:46 GMT

I`d like to now what kind powder do you put in molds.
jone  <crash123333 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 01:44:58 GMT

And i would like to now what should i make the mold out of.
I don`t wont to put in the mold so it does not stiketo the mold.
eric  <crash123333 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 01:51:28 GMT

Electric Forge: Brian, There have been electric resistance heaters for rivets and bar stock but they take large power supplies like a HD multi station welder. The amperage is VERY high and the required supply power is more than is generaly available. I do not know of a source of these machines although I know they were made in the past.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 02:09:15 GMT

MOLDS: Eric, Better, but I still need more information. What kind of metal do you intend to cast? What kind of pattern? Permanent wood/metal or a wax investment?

For casting iron and bronze sand molds are commonly used. Molds made from damp sand are called "green sand" molds. A sharp "silica" sand is most common. It must have some clay added to it to make it stick together and usualy has some "wood flour" to make it porous. The clay must be a "refractory" clay (one that can take high temperature). Bentonite is sold for this purpose by foundry suppliers.

The coarsness of the sand depends on the size of the castings being made. Small parts use fine sand, large parts use coarse sand.

There are natural bonding green sands. These were used for centuries until foundrymen figured out what made them work. Allmost all river sand has some clay in it and fine organic material. Damp (not wet) sand that sticks together when you squeeze a handfull and it shows the wrinkles of you hand is a naturaly bonding greensand.

For casting small silver, gold or brass items such as jewlery a fine bonded green sand can be used but it is more common today to use plaster molds and wax investments. The plaster is common plaster of Paris or "molding plaster". Sometimes it has fine sand or talc added to it to make it more "refractory".

Wax parts are made, then wax gates and risers added. Then plaster is poured around the part to make a mold. After the mold hardens and then dries the was is melted or burned out and the mold "calcined". Calcining is heating the mold until ALL the water is gone including some that was chemicaly bonded in the plaster (heated to around 1,100-1,200°F). Idealy the metal is melted at the same time and cast in the hot dry mold. When the metal is cool the mold is broken off the part.

"Sill dust" (actual dust) is used as a parting agent in green sand molds. When multi-piece plaster molds are made with permanent patterns a slurry of Ivory soap is used as parting agent.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 02:36:59 GMT

guru,i'm looking for a good solution for ataching brooms to the handles of my fireplace tools. any book or places i can look. also looking for a broom supplyer? any ideas? thank.
jeremy  <whyiterp at yahoo.con> - Thursday, 08/31/00 03:56:44 GMT


I've read somewhere that hand scraping is the method used a long time ago to produce large, accurate to millionths of inch, flat surfaces.Is this true?

Could you descibe the procedure of hand scraping in order to make a dead-flat surface? Can the same hand scraping procedure used for scraping wood into a flat surface?

Thank you very much.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Thursday, 08/31/00 11:29:01 GMT

Yes hand scraping will yeald a good, true surface. It takes 3 plates the same size, a scraper (it looks like a square ended chisel, not to a point but an actual square end) and a teltale compound such as a non drying bluing compound. You start with two surface plates that you think are flat, apply a VERY thin layer of blue to one of the surface plates and lower a second plate on to the first one. Lift off the second plate from the first one and use the scraper to take off only the blue that has transfered to the second plate. Now blue the second plate the same as you did the first. Put the third plate onto the second and again scrape off any of the blue that has transfered. Blue the third plate and clean off the first. Place the first on the third and scrape off any blue that transfers to the first plate. Keep this process going, moving from plate to plate, and in the end, you will have 3 flat plates.

You need 3 plates because if you only use 2 you will match the 2 together but they will not necessarly be flat, only matched. You need the third plate to act as a lie detector. When all three plates are flat you will get a perfect transfer of blue from any plate to any plate.

Note as you progress, the amount of blue transfered from one plate to the next will increase, thus the amount of scraping required will increase with each transfer. You could be at it a long time, but it will work...... every time.

Gee, 20 years of tool and die work and I can answer a question! I knew it would pay off in the end!!!! :-)
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Thursday, 08/31/00 13:35:28 GMT


How would placing two plates face to face with a mixture of very fine abrasive compound and a light oil between them work? Wouldn't moving one plate in a random patter over the other result in two flat plates? I don't know whether this would work or not, but I'm curious.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 13:53:30 GMT


Thank you for the answer.Could you tell me what is usually used as drying bluing compound?

Thank you.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Thursday, 08/31/00 15:06:17 GMT

Flat surface: Wayne, A very clear description. This technique was invented in the 1600's (I think) and was in common use up until recent times where surface grinders followed by laps produce flat surfaces much faster.

Paw-Paw, Grinding two surfaces face to face generaly results in curved surfaces or rolled edges. Very fine laping compound (polishing grade) can be used in the three plate method after everything else is done.

The "blue" used is typicaly "Prussian Blue" and is the same as artists oil paint.

The scrapers Wayne tried to describe are of two types.
  • The classic ones are exactly like the wood scrapers George mentioned. A hard thin steel plate has the edge honed square and straight. Then a burnisher is used to roll or extrude a burr edge.
  • The chisle edged scraper used by modern machinists is used to produce a decorative oil holding surface after scraping and laping is complete (often leaving an uneven appearing surface). This surface is sometimes called a "chipped" surface and I've seen many machines ruined by amature "tool makers" applying a "chipped" finish.

Before the invention of machine tools such as the planner and shaper in the 1800's all flat machine surfaces were created by hand. The first step was to chisle the surfaces as close to shape as possible using a cold chisle while supporting the work in a "chipping vise". A chipping vise is the super heavy version of machinist's vise that weigh 150 to 300 pounds (75-150 kg). The surfaces were checked with a straight edge and a flat. After chiseling some surfaces would be filed then the scraping process started.

These techniques were used to produce flats, ways, dovetails, slots and keyways well into the steam era and in many shops into the early 20th century.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 15:11:36 GMT

Whoops: I botched the metric conversion above (gotta stop doing them in my head). However the weights were approximate and close enough.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 15:40:56 GMT

Paw-Paw, If you took two plates with abrasive between them you would get a matching set of convex/concave plates. The plate on top would become concave because of the way the surfaces come in contact. It may be very slight but it would be there. This is almost exactly the way parabolic telescope mirrors are made. The bottom piece is stationary and the top moves around, the weight of the top piece is unsupported where it extends beyond the bottom one. This causes a slight increase in pressure on the edge of the bottom, and because of the difference in swept surface area and pressure from gravity, the bottom will lose more material on the edges.
I am not sure if I made a very clear explaination of this,sorry.
I don't have my telescope making book handy but that is the basic idea.
Moldy  <sorry> - Thursday, 08/31/00 15:41:34 GMT

Flat surfaces: The lazy man's way is to buy belts for a wide belt sander, cut them, and glue them to a surface plate with photo mount. Then, with plenty of WD-40 to carry swarf, grind your surface, alternating the direction of your stroke. Check with blue against the surface plate itself, and when you get close to flat you can scrape using a new piece of hard precision ground bar stock because it has sharp 45 degree edges (a helper once used my Starrett straightedge... don't do that). The belts last a long, long time. Hope this was clear enough, and I hope it helps.
Rob. Curry  <curry at cts.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 16:19:57 GMT

Make that 90 deg edges on the flat stock.
Rob. Curry  <curry at cts.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 16:29:16 GMT

I would like to know about the history of my anvil. I know little about blacksmithing, but am interested in old tools.
My anvil on one side has marked on it -----nson, Patent, Sound Anvil. It also has a large X on this side as well. On the other side it has the numbers 1 - 0 - 26 on. I believe this has something to do with its weight. Please help if you can.
J.F. Briefly  <gaspe at citenet.net> - Thursday, 08/31/00 17:13:33 GMT

Anvil: J.F. You may need to do a rubbing to get more of the logo or makers mark. The numbers are the weight in hundred weight (112#), quarters (28#) and pounds.

112 + 28 = 140 pounds. A very common sized farriers or farm anvil. I'll let Paw-Paw see if he can find more on the maker.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 18:12:58 GMT

Wouldn't also molten metal in a mold (ingot mold) having the upper surface of the mold uncovered, produce an absolutely flat surface, since it is a liquid?

Thank you.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Thursday, 08/31/00 18:54:08 GMT

George, unless the ingot mold was large enough to overcome the surface tension of the metal it tends to curve down around the edges. In the manufacture of glass they use a huge vat of I believe it's tin as a bed to cool glass sheets, as they come out of the molten vat. The weight of the tin and the size of the vat allows it to be perfectly flat. This is how they make "Float Glass" plates. Flat, smooth and polished. If you let the tin cool it would no longer be flat because of the contraction and crystal growth as it solidifies. There is also an experiment going on in making a telescope mirror out of a large pool of mercury. The pool is spun at a highly controlled speed so the centrifical force causes it to have the correct curvature to focus the light.
A big static pool of murcury would be pretty darn flat, but is would be kind of hard to use it as a surface plate, the height gauge would keep getting lost in the bottom.
MSC tool supply sells precision ground stock for reasonable prices, and they carry prussian blue also. There is a water based replacement for the bluing also, it doesn't stain as bad.
Moldy  < sorry> - Thursday, 08/31/00 19:17:19 GMT

Guru, I have a chance to pick up a 25lb little giant pretty cheap. The bad news is that it spent several years laying down in a pig pen, and it is quite rusted. The clutch/pully is the old driveline style and is in bad shape. If the upper end is too rusted to be rebuilt do you think this style of hammer could be converted to air operation? Has anybody done it before?
Matt   <mmatlock at mail.ci.lubbock.tx.us> - Thursday, 08/31/00 20:07:45 GMT

Plate info.
Ya what they said!. I couldn't remember how to spell "Prussian Blue" to save my life :-0

Rob: Be careful about GRINDING a surface on a surface plate, you WILL erode the surface of your surface plate. Just leaving a surface plate uncovered and an object on it like a pencil, will in time cause the surface plate to get a depression around the pencil. Slight but measurable. It is caused by dust being blown by a breeze and the airflow around the pencil. I have a junk plate that I use for grinding on.

You can get a "good enough for most uses" surface plate with a piece of glass over 1/2" thick. Some say as thin as 1/4" will work but I like thicker better. The tool import houses also sell granite plates cheep enough that you need not "make your own" if you need one.


Interesting idea of using mercury as a mirror!! Also good description of Float Glass!
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Thursday, 08/31/00 20:11:46 GMT

Pig Pen: Matt, It takes a LOT of rust to make this type machine not rebuildable. It is worth more to send to Sid Sudemeier to be rebuilt than as scrap to build a hammer around. The thing to look for is the condition of the shafts UNDER the bearings. If there was any grease or oil there at all they are probably not too rusted to be cleaned up and possibly rebabbited. The center clutch type machine is actually the better of the LGs.

YES, you can convert an LG to an air hammer. Brackets replace the bearing caps to support an air cylinder. The treadle can be attached to the air valve via a spring. Conversion will cost about $400 in parts. The anvil, ram, guides and dovetailed dies are a very good start on building a hammer.

Moldy, You don't happen to read NASA Tech Briefs? I'm trying to remember where I saw that article on the Mercury lens. . . Might have been Design News. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 21:00:19 GMT

Hi, newbie here. I have recently acquired some of the bigger pieces (forge,anvil,vice,drill) in the hope of setting up a small smithy. Mainly to make woodworking tools but I'm sure that will expand. I've ordered several blacksmithing books that I'm anxiously awaiting, but there are a couple of questions I'd like to ask in the meantime. BTW, what's the best way to search the archives here at anvilfire ? Just regular internet search engines (I usually use Google.com) ?
My two questions (the others I'll wait till I've read the books) are the following : What is the maximum size of a part that can be heated in a portable forge 17" in diameter and 3" deep ? I found an old rusty Sears lever-arm forge that I have yet to restore. Is there some sort of rule of thumb ? I figure I shouldn't have any trouble heating a chisel, and doubt I could make an anvil, but what about a hammer ?
Second question : my anvil is marked Wright, Patented, Solid Wrought and I take this to be a Peter Wright, but every Peter Wright anvil I've seen pictures of clearly had a "Peter" present in the mark whereas on mine there is no sign of one. Were there more than one Wright ?
Paul Pedersen  <perrons at cam.org> - Thursday, 08/31/00 22:00:25 GMT


Is that unknown a WILKINSON anvil? Sounds like it. Use a scotch bright pad to clean the side a little bit, then do a rubbing on it.

There were anvils made by Peter Wright, by Wright and Sons, and by Wright. Will need a rubbing on this one too, to get more information for you.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 23:07:40 GMT

Moldy --
A big open pool of mercury is something you wouldn't want to be around for long (toxic fumes), but I'm not sure about the height gauge getting lost in the bottom. There ain't much that won't float in mercury.
Mike B.
Mike B  <mbriskin at erols.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 23:15:52 GMT

Search: Paul, Our archives are somewhat of a disaster at this point. I'm working on a local index and search routine but at this point browsing is your best bet. We DO have a number of articles seperated and listed roughly alphabetacaly on our 21st Century page.

The fire in a small portable forge is not a lot smaller than one in large shop forge. The limitation is the reserve coal around the fire. If you keep shoveling in the coal and cranking the blower you can heat a pretty large piece. A sledge hammer is not a problem. However, it takes time, 10 to 20 minutes to heat such a piece throughly without burning it. That's a lot of cranking and shoveling PER HEAT. You might need to heat a piece that size 3 to 4 times working alone.

You will quickly get a handle on the capacity of your forge.

All brands anvils are found with poor markings. Some are very clear, others are completely missing. I've identified more anvils by style than by markings. . Many were marked with a large "trademark" punch and a heavy blow with a sledge hammer. You have ONE chance with these. Second strikes never line up. A slight miss-strike, an imperfect surface. . and only half the punch marks. Its the same problem as using little hand letter punches but a hundred times more difficult.

Mercury is almost twice a dense as steel. The problem is that the hieght guage is'nt designed to float upright. . .
There are surface plates and there are surface plates. Being in the machine tool buisness we have a 4' x 8' (1219mm x 2438mm) that is 10" (254mm) thick I think. . We use it for a lot of small work but the LARGE work set on it for testing was about 12,000 pounds (5400 kg). I'm sure you could measure the deflection but we couldn't with a tenths (0.0001) dial indicator. . . :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/31/00 23:39:51 GMT

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