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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.
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This is an archive of posts from Aug 9 - 17, 2001 on the Guru's Den
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Anvilfire "Tool" Auction Test

This is our new auction test site. Currently there are several items up for bid that were graciously donated to anvilfire by Bill Epps, Mark Parkinson and Randal Guess.

Still up for bid are two of Bill's famous diagonal pien hammers as well as the item from Mark and Randal. Bill's hammers are custom made and hand polished. Although he is selling right and left hand hammers both can be used right handed.

The advantage of a diagonal pien hammer is that it puts the pien at a right angle to the work while working in a comfortable position. When a right handed person uses a left handed diaglon pien hammer it makes it easier to use the pien parallel to the work. So, the truth is they are not really right or left handed. It just depends on what you need the hammer for. A pair is a great way to go!


Please note that our auction page is not just to donate items to raise funds for anvilfire. It is for you to SELL!

Currently it is free to all to sell and buy. Note however that when you post something on the net and say you will ship it anywhere it may go ANYWHERE! Happy Bidding!

The anvilfire Tool Auction is another Andrew Hooper Production

Tamara: The best exercise I have found to strengthen the forarms and hands is to take a hand towel and roll it tight,and twist/pull on it like you are wringing water out of it. you could also use a tennis ball; just sqeese it as hard as you can and hold it. The later could even be done at work.
Myke  <stunti at usa.net> - Wednesday, 08/08/01 21:06:47 GMT

If I may offer a suggestion. You will not only need strength in your hands and arms but also in your shoulders, back and legs and of course all the muscles that involve the trunk of your body for support. This includes your abdomen. You are only smithing once a week and muscles need regular stimulation to grow and condition. I suggest you find a local Gym or health club, have a consultation with the owner and explain your needs and goals. The owner of the Gym/club should be able to set you up with a program of regular exercise and nutritonal guidlines that will not only help you gain the strengh and stamina you require for smithing but will also make you feel better overall. You will find the bennifits of this will effect every aspect of your life.
Mark   <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Wednesday, 08/08/01 22:38:54 GMT

Tamara-- when you get tired, quit. Yup, right then and there. Put it away. There's no better way to bring on a ripping case of bursitis or tendonitis than to keep on keeping on after the muscles send those first signals of fatigue. Then give it a rest for a day and let the tissues recover. A really nasty bout of bursitis-- inflammation of the bursa, the equivalent of bushings and shock absorbers in the joints-- can make work all but impossible until it goes away, which can take months. Also: maybe it's not a matter of strength so much as a lighter hammer, better technique. Remember: it's a dance, not combat.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 00:14:14 GMT

Re: Lawnmower blades
Dear Guru,
That is some of the smartest advice I have heard in a long time. Thank you.
Stephen Rogers  <rogers543 at msn.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 02:14:47 GMT

Building Strength: Tamara, Cracked is right on this one. It takes time to build strength with a hammer. There are two schools of smiths.
  1. Uses big 4 pound plus (1800-2000g) hammers and a short pile driver stroke. Peter Ross of Williamsburg uses this style and so did the late Francis Whitaker. This technique usualy gets smiths into trouble but there are a few that can do it. I doubt it is the right technique for any woman (OR younger smith).

  2. Uses a light fast hammer. 2-1/2 pounds (1200g) or so max. Practices using a very light grip or balancing between side of thumb and forefinger. Raises the hammer very high to get the maximum energy. Learning this technique has saved many a carrer that started in school one and had to quit due to shoulder or elbow injuries.
The important thing is to WORK UP to a heavier hammer. When I started full time I was using a little 1-1/2 pound (700g)hammer and it had gotten too light (and worn out) so I went out and bought a 4 pound hammer. . couldn't use it for more than a couple blows. So I went and bought three more hammers. A 2-1/2 (1200g), a 3 (1400g) and a 3-1/2 pound (1600g) hammer. I worked up through them over a period of a year. But I could never use that 4 pounder.

Now that I sit a desk much too much my wrists and arm are way out of shape. The 3-1/2 pound hammer still feels right. . But I KNOW intelectualy that I need to HIDE it and get out the old 2-1/2 pound hammer.

Heavy smithing was done with LOTS of helpers from the beginning of time. Virtualy NO smith went without helpers. There is no reason you should either. Today almost anyone in the developed countries can afford a small (new, used or home built) power hammer to replace the team of strikers that did the heavy work in the past.

Work smart!

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 04:05:00 GMT

THANK YOU EVERYONE! for the responses I received about forge welding chain saw chain. Keep them coming in. I will put it all together and send it in if it can be used as an FAQ.
Keith  <kbarker1 at stny.rr.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 04:25:40 GMT

Roller Chain Damascus FAQ: Keith, I put one together for you the other day based on old posts. And its been updated once already. However, If you have more information feel free to e-mail it to me and I will add to the rest.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 05:21:34 GMT

Ricardo Vilar,
Get a T-Rex burner if you want to go with no blower. If your forge is built even "half spec" IT WILL WELD! I just got one a while back, and I'm having a blast with it. It seems to be much more quiet then I thought it would be also.
Keith - Thursday, 08/09/01 07:54:07 GMT

Yes, I have received some real good ideas for useing chain saw chain in pattern weld items. Also seems to be an endless supply of the stuff out there. It's challenging, and may be good practice for some one wanting to experiment. I would like to here some thoughts on this from grandpa.
Keith  <kbarker at stnt.rr.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 09:44:21 GMT

T-Rex Burner: I have a T-Rex burner to test that I have had for several months. As soon as I get a chance I will fire it up. Assembling the equipment to do quantiative testing has been the hold up.

I CAN say this about the T-Rex. It is beautifully made and of the highest quality. It is custom machined and uses the symetrical air induction I spoke of above. It is worth every penny.

Please read ALL the information about the various burners before deciding on one or spending a lot of money building a forge. Like a lot of things it is easy to end up spending more than the cost of a commercial item when building your own.

Ron Reil - T-Rex Burner page

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 12:30:58 GMT

I have a Peter Wright #103 and would be interested to know how their conversion system works to calculate it's weight in english pounds.
edward  <cak at epix.net> - Thursday, 08/09/01 12:39:56 GMT

Anvil Weight: Edward, this link is one in our anvil series on the 21st Century page
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 13:41:55 GMT

Jock, can't find the arcs for the first week in august????
l.sundstrom - Thursday, 08/09/01 13:43:10 GMT

Tip/shroud distance from workpiece.
whats the ideal distance from the tip to the workpiece and what is meant by "spray transfer" and "short circuit" welds"
Mark  <manicholas at lineone.net> - Thursday, 08/09/01 13:55:59 GMT

Archives: Larry, just hang on ONE second, DONE!

Welding Tech: Mark, You REALLY need to get a welding book. Tip/shroud distance should be as close as possible but where you can still see. Tip distance varies with the size wire and process type.

Spray transfer happens in MIG at higher energy levels. The arc jumps the gap and carries vaporized steel with it in a "spray". Lower energy machines are what is known as "dip transfer". The wire feeds into the base metal, shorts out, melts the wire, which breaks the connection, so the wire touches again. . . This is what gives the smaller MIG machines that sputter/crackle sound.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 14:17:15 GMT

Guru, Most of my railings I have done to date have been smaller designs which were brought to me as sketches, photos of other work or just ideas that I was able to take and work with. I have just been contacted by a General contractor who brought by a blueprint with exact drawings which I am going to have to follow to the letter. Question: should I expect the architect to supply the shop drawings? If so, will these drawings have enough detail to build the railings without going to the job site to take field measurments? The job site is about 300 miles away! Any input appreciated. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 15:01:01 GMT

When Peter Ross comes out to the Fort to do some demos and classes for us, I noticed he uses a full (hammer head to the back of his shoulder) stroke, and the hammer he was using was a 2 1/2 pounder( I asked).

All in all use the right hammer for the right job. Big hammer for big work and a smaller hammer for small or fine work.
Ralph  <ralphd at ihpc.net> - Thursday, 08/09/01 15:15:07 GMT

Drawings and Contracts: Tim, I have known smiths to drive 600 miles to do on-site fitting.

If the architect and contractor supply the drawings you need to be sure that your contract spells out clearly that THEY are responsible for all dimensional errors on the drawings and the possibley substantial costs of correcting those error (an errors and ommisions clause).

The first question is do the drawings have enough details. Probably not. In that case you need to explain that to the contractor. This gets tricky because it complicates your bid negotiations.

Generally architects or contractors do not understand wrought iron enough to make detailed drawings. If you need to make detailed drawings and have them approved then you need to be compensated for it. This can be a seperate fee or part of the job. Either way be sure there is time and money for it.

The interface between what you make and what exists is one thing. The interface between what is GOING to exist in the future and what you make is another. Ask the contractor what tollerance he is going to hold from floor to floor, floor to deck. +/- 1" +/- 1/16". Buildings often vary several inches from the plans. .

This is always a problem. Fabricators have the advantage here because they plan on cutting and hacking and arc welding on parts to make things fit on the job site.

Extra length on ends that you PLAN on cutting off in the field does not hurt.

In the case of large complex jobs the smith should plan on something similar. Setting up a "field" shop on site with enough tools to make modifications as needed. Here again, a contract spelling out who is reponsible for what is important. Will the necessary power be available? Space? What is the security on-site? If the contractor is doing the installation and expects you to be on site to make modifications you need to be sure to have a field rate that pays for food, lodging, transportation and supplies. You may want to "give" so many days but after that the daily field rate kicks in. Again, if its part of the quoted price, be sure it is in there.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 15:30:19 GMT

Peter Ross: Ralph, Peter may have changed his hammering style. Our common friend Josh Greenwood is a great proponent of the light and fast school and is constantly converting people.

On the other hand I use a sliding grip style that comes from using an axe a lot in my youth. One second I am practicaly holding on to the pein of the hammer and the next the butt of the handle. Often in the same stroke. I wouldn't dare try teaching this technique.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 15:38:04 GMT

Jock, Thanks, invaluable information. Tim
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 15:43:36 GMT

I thought that was why the handles were as long as they are? (smile)
I tend to let the hammer slide to where it is needed. Like you it is something I would not want to teach. It is just something you have to learn on your own.
Man I will be glad once I get all the non smithing things done enough so I can do some smithing again.....(sigh)
Ralph  <ralphd at ihpc.net> - Thursday, 08/09/01 16:10:22 GMT

Thanks Guru,
I'll get a book this weekend,Honest :-)
Mark  <manicholas at lineone.net> - Thursday, 08/09/01 16:22:37 GMT

hi all . .
Tony (that would be my husband) gave me a call at home this morning, and mentioned there was a post from tim about bidding a job to a contractor. he thought i might have some ideas for you, as i am an architectural engineer, with about 17 years experience in the construction document and bidding world, from the arch/eng perspective . .

i read through the response that the guru gave you ... there is some great advice in there, especially about knowing what the on-site conditions are, if you do on-site work. easy to get burned by "i thought YOU were providing that."

i thought i would add some things that i've found 'catch' contractors, when they bid a job, win the job, and then are surprised (badly) at what is actually expected of them.

first, i'm afraid that the vast majority, if not all, traditional architectural drawings and specs have the contractor assume all responsibility for dimensions. even the dimensions shown on the drawings. this is standard specifcation and contract language, and i don't think you can persuade any architect/eng that they will become responsible for the dimensions. the insurance companies don't allow it. i guess the reasoning is that the work in the field dictacts what is happening with dimensions, and the contractor is closest to that, and therefore should be in control and be responsible. i don't know if i totally agree, but that is a whole 'nuther discussion.

with that, field measuring is critical. if not by you, than by the contractor with whom you have your contract. in that case, that contractor should have an agreement in your contract with him, that HE is reponsible for the field dimensions.

in the majority of cases, the type of work you will do will require you to do the shop drawings. guru is dead right, when he says that arch/engs haven't a clue how to draw drawings for your type of work. if the responsiblity for shop drawing production isn't clear, you may want to verify this with your contractor.

O.K., here's another thing. Your bid is not just for the work associating with blacksmithing ... it is inclusive of the entire set of documents. that is standard language in the arch/eng drawings and specs. so, if the contractor only gave you sheets 1 and 2 . . your bid to him must specifically state that it only encompasses items shown on sheets 1 and 2 (with the drawing date and any revision dates), and then specifically state that it does not include ANY work shown elsewhere within the construction documents (not just drawings, construction documents - which includes drawings and specs). i've seen too many contractors get burned by the little things shown buried in the drawings, that they didn't "catch" and therefore didn't include in their bid.

i'm going to guess that your bid to the contractor is a lump sum bid. in this case, he just wants one number from you. period. if you want this job, and are pretty sure he is getting sub-bids from others, you want a clean bid, that is easy to read. i agree with guru that you want to cover yourself for time & materials that end up being above and beyond the contract...if the drawings change, that can be handled with a change order (remember not to be a "nice guy" with any drawing changes and not doing change orders. changes may continue, and then how do you recoup your costs?). if you are doing any field visits, and end up needing more than what you thought, that will be tougher to recoup the costs for . .even if you say in your bid "2 site visits." the arch/eng will argue that you should have included all the site visits necessary to complete the job, regardless of what you put in your bid. and they will probably win that one . ... or so the courts have said.

o.k., this is getting long winded....i can probably come up with more stuff, based on experience ... or this may be enough. you can let me (tony) know....good luck ...

christine - tony's wife  <tca_b at mmmilwpc.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 17:01:39 GMT

Oh Noooooo, she didn't add the exta letters in the address! Help me, I'm being spammmmmmmeeeddd

Grin. Tim, I just thought you might want to hear it from one of those evil Architect/Engineers. She does try to help the contractors though, since if there are problems, it's her job to resolve them.
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmilwpc.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 18:45:30 GMT

The I Gotcha's: Christine, Thank you.

Tim, among others things in those "attached" documents that never are "atached" (there will be a note on the drawing, and if you don't SEE the attachments you are still responsible) - are things LIKE:
  • Site insurance
  • Bonding Requirements
  • Late delivery penalties
  • Workman's Comp Requirements
  • Equal Opportunity Requirements
  • Who gets paid when
  • Final inspection and approval.
We used to work for electric utilities and there were occasions where the work was completed and we were off the site before we saw a P.O. with the fine print. One utility refused to pay because we didn't have the insurance they required of us AFTER doing the job!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 20:01:21 GMT

Tony, I fixed it!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 20:05:13 GMT

Magic, it's all magic! Hurrah for the magicians!
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmilwpc.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 20:13:24 GMT

Tamara-- another factor to consider in smithly fatigue- causes is the height of what you are smiting. The face of the anvil is supposed to be where your first knuckles come to when you standing beside it. That's a bit low, methinks, but what do I know. It does make one have to bend over all the damned time, which gets to one's back, don't it, though! Striking something held in the leg vise-- much higher than the anvil, right?-- strains the old brachioradialis-- that bunch of long muscles from the elbow down the outside of the forearm to the wrist--something just Godawful and should be done as little as possible. Those Zen guys are on to something, too: some Tai Chi, some Yoga, helps a lot if done before working.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 20:32:38 GMT

guru I have a dumb question. I am building a brake drum forge, i'm assuming it will use coal. What is the process for lighting it?
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 21:06:53 GMT

guru, I have a dumb question. I am building a brake drum forge, that i assume will use coal. What is the prcess for lighting it?? Thanks
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 21:13:02 GMT

Tim i sent an email with my contribution to the question i hope it helps.
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 21:22:20 GMT

Anyone, I am just starting out and have looked at most of the beginners info but i am interested in finding someplace fairly close to New Jersey for a course. Thanks
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 21:23:41 GMT

Tamara: What type of anvil are you using?, Trange enough you could have a "Dead Anvil", Ok guys you can stop laughing now, What a dead anvil will do is absorb all the power you put into it and return none, this will make your job that much harder and will lead to fatigue.
I have 4 anvils that i use, One is prety close to DEAD and you really know when you have been working on that one.

Floor is another thing, are you standing on a concreate floor?, if so put something down to insulate you from it, preferably something non flamable but I have used light ply wood that has been treated/spreyed with a borax/water solution to stop it burning up as easily.

Hammer Handles can also make the difference, if you use one that is to wide then you will exhaust yourself trying to hold it, to narow and you will fight to keep controll over it and to long will cause excesive streighn when lifting it, to short and you will loose most of the power returned by the anvil.
Kiwi NZ  <andrew at best.net.nz> - Thursday, 08/09/01 21:43:29 GMT

Lighting coal fires: Jeff, Newsprint works if you have good coal and it is dry. Otherwise you will need a little wood kindling or pine cones or such. Some folks recomend a little charcoal lighter but I have had absolutely NO luck with that. Wet coal (coal stored outside) is harder to start than dry coal.

In New Jersey you want to go to. . . . RATS! I can't think of the name. Check the ABANA page school list.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 22:07:59 GMT

could anyone tell me if its a good idea to carburize or case harden with kasenit stainless steel...also if someone knows how to make their own carburizer/case hardener powdeer
joe  <blacksmith at net1mail.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 23:51:47 GMT

is it peter's valley? i tried to call them today and unless i messed up number is disconected
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 23:54:06 GMT

please email me ifanyone knows the answer......
joe  <blacksmith at net1mail.com> - Thursday, 08/09/01 23:55:38 GMT

Case Hardening: Joe, Most stainless will not case harden. Kasenit only puts a very thin almost superficial hard surface on steel.

Jeff, Yes its Peter's Valley. They are still in business as far as I know. Maybe you got a wrong number? Darn area codes are changing faster than anyone can keep up with them.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 00:28:42 GMT


If I may add a voice from the choir-

I haven't installed any architectural ironwork, but I've been involved in a lot of construction and alterations. When one of the lawyers at the Securities and Exchange Commission complained that his office was "3/8" too small," I explained that we weren't worried if it was 6" one way or the other. Reputedly, there was only one building in Washington built to a 3/8" tolerance and that was the National Geographic's new ('60s) headquarters, and that was mostly done because they wanted to show that they could do it.

Given a range of from 3/8" in the best construction to 6" for vanilla government office space (not to mention change orders, site induced changes, field expedient modifications, and just sloppy "close enough" hatchet work), you see why I advocate spending some time on-site for any important equipment installation. These errors can add up cumulatively, and you could end up with a piece of ironwork that is noticeably too short or too long or off center.

Good luck.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 08/10/01 12:25:53 GMT

Hi Jock, I just picked up a nice old(1952) die filer the other day from a local junk shop. It was made by the Oliver Instrument Co., still has all the brass plates on it. I was just wondering if you use one & if so what all for? I was thinking it would be good for knife fittings & things like that.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at yahoo.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 13:14:57 GMT

Case Hardening Compound; well I mixed some up for early medieval experiments: bone meal, cow horn shavings, leather scraps, antler dust, powdered charcoal and a pinch of bloodmeal . I filled a heavy walled pipe with this mixture and embeded stripts of wrought iron into it. Sealed up the "case" and put it in a large bonfire where it glowed red for 6 hours---the modern stuff probably works better.
(also Theophilus in 1120 A.D. suggested greasing files then wrapping them in leather and covering the leather with clay and heating them and quenching as a surface hardening process.

Off to NM for a week!

Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 13:49:25 GMT

Working from plans vs. on-site-- Francis Whitaker in his Cookbook, advises the smith having gate posts to deal with to "stand over the mason with a big sledge until he gets them absolutely plumb and level." Solid advice from the master. That's the thing about plans and one's fellow workers: you cannot ever be sure the other artisans on the job will do theirs properly. Big problem is anchor points. Let somebody else set a board in behind a stucco wall for a railing to get bolted onto... and they'll get the sngle wrong every time. Let them put the anchors in for your handsome spiral rail and will they be careful about measuring back from the tread nosings to plumb up to get the rise right? Nope, never, and you'll be the one left to deal with the mess. Not only that, but wait till the time for the install, and who knows what water pipes and electric lines now lurk back in there behind that finished wall? Under that floor? A trip to the site, or even many trips, early in the game is in the end the easy way.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 15:04:00 GMT

Case Hardening: Thomas, I think he's looking for case hardening salts that you apply with a torch. The old recipes for these were primarily cynanide. Needless to say they are AH, out of favor today.

Peters Valley: This just in,

Just a reminder if you're anywhere near NW New Jersey on Sept. 1, you'll want to attend the Peter's Valley 1st Annual Pig/Iron Fest. Pig roast, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc., music, beer, all to support the Peters Valley blacksmithing program. This is a great crafts center and deserves your support. If you send your check in before 8/15, it's only $30 per person. After that, it's $40 (I think). For details, check the PV site:


Die Filer Mike I'll have to look that one up but I've never used one.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 15:04:47 GMT

Thanks Jock, was just wondering. I contacted the company yesterday & they're going to send me a copy of the original instruction book & probably the catalog page too. Seems like it might be a useful tool.
Anyone else use one?
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at yahoo.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 15:36:22 GMT

I read the plans for making a tomahawk/throwing axe from a RR spike. I was able to find a source for the drift to make the hole. Now I'm looking for a source for the wooden handles for the tomahawks. The plans mention a buckskinners supply house. Can anyone out there help me with this? Also, I'm seeking more info about fusing glass in the holes of the Celtic or Fredericks' crosses...I was told that this can be done. Thanks, Tom
Tom  <wolfmaaaannn at quik.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 20:12:25 GMT

Handles: Tom, When you hand make a tool its nice to hand make the handle too. . . Most folks modify standard off the shelf hammer and hatchet handles. It gives you a good piece of wood to start with. Its also a good time to look a re-handling tools that the handles are loose, knicked or cracked. The larger used handles can be cut down and reused.

Glass: Differential thermal expansion and shrinkage are a problem in "fusing" glass into steel. Glass, like steel, requires careful heattreating on solidifying. Little fingers like in a jewel "setting" is best but painstaking to make. Often when you see what appears to be glass fused into metal today it is actualy colored acrylic. Clear epoxy glue might be a good solution.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 20:25:38 GMT

Peters Valley: Please note that the link was broken this AM the correct URL ends with .ORG not .COM. Its fixed now.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 20:31:38 GMT

Posted a NEW review of the Hugh McDonald Rolling Mill Plans on the newly redesigned anvilfire bookshelf.
The review includes stills from the rolling mill video, sample drawing, a downloadable MPG, detail photos and a metallurgical article about rolling steel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/10/01 23:10:23 GMT

I'm a 31-year-old author who is writing a story set in a fantasy world that has the technological level of the late medieval period (c. 1300 AD). I know very little about blacksmithing, but I would like to write a short bit in the story about a blacksmith and his preparations to begin his day in the forge. Would you be able to give me a run-down of what a blacksmith might do first thing in the morning to get his forge ready for the day's work?
Sean Hendricks  <sharaya at bellsouth.net> - Saturday, 08/11/01 01:21:07 GMT


It's been a while since I've been back. Gotta say the auction site is a great idea! If anybody's got a used cone mandrel out there I'd like to hear from them.
chris bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 08/11/01 01:42:57 GMT

Tamara, if you are using a hammer with a fiberglass handle, it will transmit more shock into you than a wooden handle will. I learned this just the other day. My arm was numb and tingly, which is not normally the case after forging a bit. Don't know if this is applicable here, but good to know nonetheless.
Stormcrow  <jbhelm at worldnet.att.netSPAMSTINKS> - Saturday, 08/11/01 03:10:13 GMT

Morning in the Shop: Sean, see my story, A Day in the Life of a Blacksmiths Apprentice on our story page (under 21st Century).

Would have had your answer last night but my local ISP was off-line. . .:(
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 08/11/01 13:16:38 GMT

Does anyone know of a simple and cheap process to darken stainless steel? It need to be done with a brush and a lot of control on where the darkening takes place, no paints as these will rub off, a process similar to cold blueing on regular steel would work.
John Martin  <martin51 at swbell.net> - Saturday, 08/11/01 14:58:21 GMT

Glass fusing: Tom, I don't know about celtic crosses, but I do know how to fuse glass in sight plugs. A graphite plate is used to hold a circular soda lime glass disc in position as the metal and glass go through an oven. The glass softens and flows on the graphite plate until it contacts the metal and wicks to it. The metal you are fusing to, and the graphite are the forms that hold the glass in place. As the metal and glass cool, the metal contracts more than the glass and the glass is held in a compressive state. This is what holds the glass. The bond CAN BE very strong. We have fused sights that burst well above 5000 psi. The real problem is that you almost always have to do it in an atmosphere furnace that has no free oxygen to rust the steel. Might work without atmosphere for a celtic cross. I don't know. I think any rust would diffuse into the glass? There has to be some jewelry people out there who know. Call Rio Grande?

The other potential problem I forsee is if the metal puts an inconsistent stress on the glass, it might shatter. Sight plug bodies are round and concentric with the glass, so the stress is even.

The glass will develop a cloudy look where it contacts the graphite. You may need to put the piece back in the oven again after fusing at a lower temperature to "fire polish" the glass. Make the graphite as smooth as you can before fusing. Graphite plates are available from graphite suppliers. Use 600 grit wet or dry paper to smooth the graphite. The graphite can also be shaped to whatever you desire and the glass will flow to the same shape.

Be careful of the glass you use. Any dissolved gasses can result in bubbles. But some people like those bubbles. Grin.

Soda lime glass is used for the reason Jock describes. It has less stress on cooling. Yes, the cooling profile is important and may take some experimentation for a given piece. Would your design allow a round metal holder for the fused glass? I think you would have a much higher success rate with a round holder.

I'm thinking out loud, but I wonder if you heated the cross up in a reducing gas forge and had the glass melted in a furnace, then set the hot cross on the graphite plate and poured the glass in the hole? I have NO idea if that would work. But I DO know the graphite would have to be VERY dry so as not to have a steam explosion and blow glass at you.

All in all, it would be MUCH easier to glue the glass in as Jock said. And much less time involved.

But if you REALLY wanted too fuse.......

Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Saturday, 08/11/01 15:23:26 GMT

Actually I started doing teh crosses with glass quite a while ago. Despite the fact that everyone told me I could not...(grin)
All I did was make a cross out of 3/4 in stock and insured teh hole in it was small enought to just hold a marble sized piece of glass. Then after all clean up work was done on teh cross I place a clear green marbl e onto the hole placed in the forge. As soon as the glass got to heat I too the cross out place on top of the fire(BTW I did this in a coal forge) and quit pumping the bellows. After about 10 -15 min I place the cross to the side and let finish cooling til I could hold it. Worked fine.
Since then I have made them in a gas forge and I use then decrotive flat marbles that are used in fish tanks and other art type things. SO far the only problem I have had is that the red ones some times will cloud up or turn milky... sorta like a strwberry shake color. I also now use a power wire brush on the metal, being carefull not to hit the glass to remove scale and allow the blue/green and bronze oxide coulurs to make the metal more attractive. Should alos be care full to not allow the brush touch the glass as it till still be soft and easy to scrach or mar.
All in all it is nice effect in my opionin
Ralph  <ralphd at ihpc.net> - Saturday, 08/11/01 15:35:53 GMT

BTW I suspect in stead of fusing Tom was really asking about slumping glass. That is what I believe I am doing....
Ralph  <ralphd at ihpc.net> - Saturday, 08/11/01 15:39:02 GMT

Guru and others,
All this discussion about field measurements brought back a few memories. Enough that I would like to make some comments and ask a question.
First, don't rely on somebody else to take the measurements unless you have complete trust in them and they understand exactly what you need. Exact height, run and slope measurement The General contractor will kick it down to the job boss and he will kick it down to an assistant and he will kick it on down. Don't rely on master plans. They can be off a foot from the existing conditions. It doesn't matter who made the mistake the steel man has to fix it. Allow extra length in building the piece. Easier to cut and fit. Also take some extra stock to fill in that run that somehow just doesn't hook up.
Now for the question. In this state (Ky) no opening can be over four inches, with the exception of bottom of rail to back corner(heel) of tread. Does this apply to wrought iron. Do all openings in a scrolled or filigreed railing have to conform to the four inch rule. Seems it would take some careful design and layout to maintain the tolerence with all the bends and loops. Thanks for your reply.
Larry  <Blueheron419> - Saturday, 08/11/01 15:44:45 GMT

Ralph, you are right about my incorrect choice of words...I did mean to say "slumping", not "fusing'. You said you use just a regular green marble? Are there any other tricks? Thanks, Tom
Tom  <wolfmaaaannn at quik.com> - Saturday, 08/11/01 15:57:49 GMT

Measurments and Rails: Larry, Yes that goes for wrought iron (4" max CODE openings). And yes it makes design critical. And OBTW that's from the standard code and applies in almost EVERY state unless they have taken exception.

Measurments The biggest problem with trusting someone else that hands it off to another. . . Is that you would be AMAZED at how many people can not measure anything to any tolerance. I had a 14 year shipyard welder that didn't know the difference between the metric units and inch units on his tape measure. . . Cut up a bunch of plate to cm's instead of inches! We had a Campbell County zoning chief inspector that didn't know 5 inches did not equal 0.5 feet! AND forced us to make a huge steel building that was ready to set on the finished foundation 1 inch narrower! Flamming Idiot! Then there was the television news reporter that called PI a "huge number". Yep, 3.1416 was definitely higher than his IQ.

Simple numerical illiteracy (is there a word for that?) is much more wide spread that reading illiteracy. AND it includes many "highly" educated people. Like the zoning inspector above. Or the guy that reads the fractions on the wrong side of a number giving 3-1/4 instead of 2-3/4. . .

This is where you get in REAL trouble trusting other people's measurments.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 08/11/01 17:57:05 GMT

I use any translucent glass. Marbles or those flat decrative marble are what I use, as they are not too hard to find(well at least the flat ones. The round marbles do not seem to be made or sold in this area any longer)
We do have a glass factory in Portlan, so I need to go and see if they have any pieces I can get low cost. Sorta like going to a steel yard and looking for cutoffs....
If you heat the glass too hot it will get like honey and run out and otherwise make a mess. I would sugest a few trial pieces to experiment with. My wife seems to like all my trial pieces of what ever I make...(grin)
Ralph  <ralphd at ihpc.net> - Saturday, 08/11/01 17:59:29 GMT

At what temp./color should you forge 1095 at.
chris makin  <cfm15 at home.com> - Saturday, 08/11/01 19:45:44 GMT

To all of you wannabe fantasywriters asking about blacksmithing: Iīm already writing about that. Stay out of my ballpark. (BIG EVIL GRIN)
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 08/11/01 19:54:59 GMT

guru, when i am buying coal for the first time is there something particular i should be looking for, for purity or whatever? thanks
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Saturday, 08/11/01 22:45:37 GMT

guru, chris bernard mentioned an auction site, but i do not see it, is it asscoiated with this site? thanks again
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Saturday, 08/11/01 23:03:00 GMT

Gee, Jock, PI = 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128 4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196 4428810975 6659334461 2847564823 3786783165 2712019091 4564856692 3460348610 4543266482 1339360726 0249141273 7245870066 0631558817 4881520920 9628292540 9171536436 7892590360 0113305305 4882046652 1384146951 9415116094 3305727036 5759591953 0921861173 8193261179 3105118548 0744623799 6274956735 1885752724 8912279381 8301194912 9833673362 4406566430 8602139494 6395224737 1907021798 6094370277 0539217176 2931767523 8467481846 7669405132 0005681271 4526356082 7785771342 7577896091 7363717872 1468440901 2249534301 4654958537 1050792279 6892589235 4201995611 2129021960 8640344181 5981362977 4771309960 5187072113 4999999837 2978049951 0597317328 1609631859 5024459455 3469083026 4252230825 3344685035 2619311881 7101000313 7838752886 5875332083 8142061717 7669147303 5982534904 2875546873 1159562863 8823537875 9375195778 1857780532 1712268066 1300192787 6611195909 2164201989 sure looks like a biggie to me!

Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 00:36:06 GMT

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 00:48:55 GMT

Its still less than 3-1/7 ;) I've got a book you would love. The History of PI, which starts with the history (THE BOOK says its egual to 3), then the many ways the Greeks tried to "Square the Circle" (find PI geometricaly) and then on to the digit hunters.

It PI ODD or EVEN? No prize for this one.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 00:55:57 GMT

Blacksmithing Fantasy Book: Olle, I'm afraid I "consult" on about one a month via e-mail. Most authors don't post their questions publicly. BIGGER evil grin!

AUCTION! Jeff, it was the first thing at the top of this page when it loaded (second week).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 01:17:11 GMT

SAE 1095: Chris, Forging temperature for tool steels is lower than regular steel but you DO NOT want to work it below a red. MAX forging temperature is 2100°F (orange but not yellow) and MIN is 1500°F.

NOW. . that said. Color temperatures are entirely dependent on the ambient light. In direct sunlight an orange looks black. In the dark 1100°F is bright red.

Most smiths get a feel for the temperature in their shops and actually get a FEEL for steel itself under the hammer and go by feel more than color when out of their own shop.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 01:28:45 GMT

Coal: Jeff, Rule number ONE. Only purchase a small quantity of coal (5 gal bucket) and then test it. If the distributor has the specs on it ask him for them. Then compare them with the best coals listed in the sources on our links page. The best is a Bituminous (soft) coal, with high BTU and low ash.

Good blacksmithing coal is only about 10% of all coal, maybe less. There is a LOT of coals that is absolutely worthless.

If you have nothing to compare to order a bag of the good stuff from Bruce Wallace or Centaur Forge. Then compare THAT to what you can get localy. You may be lucky.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 01:40:58 GMT

Guru-- get Jodie Foster at home! Didn't she, in the moom pitcher Contact, pick up on Pi coming in to one of those saucers down at The Very Large Array as the first glimmering of communication from Out There? Maybe it was only that way in Sagan's novel. But I'll bet a sharp chick like Jodie knows an odd from an even when she sees one.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 02:19:07 GMT

guru i dont want to let on what kind of an idiot i am but i still dont see it. thank you for the peter's valley info but is there anyone within reasonable distance of S. Jersey that would be interested in teaching three dumb dumds the basics?
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 02:43:47 GMT

Auction = At top first posting after header in BIG BLUE LETTERS
In the movie Contact the alien radio frequency was the atomic weight of "hydrogen times PI".
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 03:13:32 GMT

Most wise and honored Guru,
I recently built a brake drum forge out of a big semi-truck brake drum. The only problem is that I need to put a grate about six inches up from the bottom to make it usable.(Hey, its what was available) My question is, because the heat is directed upwards, how thick a grate do I need? The one-inch thick stuff, cut to the diameter I need, runs about 35.00 here. That seems a little out of line to me.
Bond, James Bond  <sauruman at quik.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 03:26:28 GMT

guru, just say hey dummy, i never looked at the top top of this page. thank you. mr bond where are you i am currently doing the exact same thing i have grating 1 or 1 1/4 im not sure which if you are nearby (which is unlikely) you can have a piece. I was quite pleased to find a brake drum from a semi maybe my inexperience will show otherwise. see ya
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 03:51:44 GMT

yeah, well. One of our scantily-clad staff will check the novel. Meanwhile, that just seems like all the more reason to think Jodie'd know an even pi from an odd pi when she sees-- or hears-- it.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 04:27:39 GMT

Umm, chums, our research director, Chastity Dangerfield, gave it the old super-scan even though this is a Saturday night and she had other plans, and reports that however it was done in the flick, in the novel Contact, Arroway (the Jodie Foster character) gets contacted by the Vegans out there via their beeping the first 261 prime numbers.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 05:02:18 GMT

'Y mean Pi-eyed aliens seeking Jodie's American pie? It may seem odd but the aliens may want to get even for all the gawdawful sitcoms weve beamed into the intergalactic communication channels.The sheer fact that they havnt blasted us into silence may mean there is no intellegent life....period.
P-F - Sunday, 08/12/01 05:12:34 GMT


I sometimes think that if it weren't for blacksmiths and other "crafters", that there would be no intelligent life HERE. (grin )
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 12:12:18 GMT

Is anyone going to the Peter's Valley Pig/Iron Festival?
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 13:13:13 GMT

Grate in forge: 007, If you put a steel grate in a forge such as you describe it will get melted and burnt up in short time (maybe the first use).

In that REAL deep pot you need to fill it up about half way. You can do this with a piece of pipe and surround it with sand, clay or brick or a combination of the same. DO NOT use gravel or stones. Many rocks explode when heated to high temperatures. You are building a forge not a volcano.

A piece of steel plate could also be fitted but this is expensive. In the end it is easier and cheaper to go to a junkyard or auto garage and get an old worn out drum closer to the right size.

Paw-paw and I picked up TWO enormous truck brake drums off the highway. One trip, two drums in two different states!

Somehow they ended up in MY shop. . . big cast iron things. . . so heavy you can't hardly pick them up! Might make a good base for something but I don't know what I'm going to do with them. Way too deep for a forge.

Carl Sagan and Contact: Yep they got primes in the movie too. But the radio frequency was "hydrogen times PI". You didn't need to disturb the inveigling Miss Dangerfield for THAT! Or did you? ;-)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 14:14:13 GMT

Sorry, perhaps I didn't make myself clear, I have a stainless steel helmet that is engraved with celtic designs, I need to darken the open areas by at least two shades darker than the helm is now(it is not highly polished but a very light steel grey) any cheap ways to do this? The helm is finished and lined so imersion won't work as it would ruin the lining.
John Martin  <martin51 at swbell.net> - Sunday, 08/12/01 14:23:27 GMT

Rails, layouts and codes, The 4 inch code appears to be a code based on realistic criteria and valid safety concerns. We were recently at a mountain cabin built in the sixties with a rail that had a 6 inch opening on the deck. My 2 year old niece went right through the rail and landed in the bushes 4 feet below decks. Fortunately she was OK other than a little frightened. Had it been a 10 foot drop to concrete it might have been tragic. However as with other things when Laywers get involved there was a recent code change that almost went through called the "ladder effect". Where if a child could "climb" on a rail using "horizontal" elements then that design would be a violation! Fortunately "NOMMA" fought the powers that be and got this ridiculous rule recinded. There are some rules that are needed and some that are overbearing. WE need to be constantly vigilant in this regard. Ohterwise there will not be any design except straight/vertical pickets allowed. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 14:30:44 GMT

John Martin, you've got a problem in the use of stainless. It's called that for a reason! Most non-paint colors on metal are oxides, and since stainless is designed not to oxidize easily, it's really tough to color evenly if at all. I'd try one of the various instant cold gun blues on it, painting on, leaving a few seconds, and wiping off, until I got the results I wanted. Formula 44-40 (tm) is one of the more aggressive ones. Acids and bleach may work as well to produce a matte gray color, but it'll be tough to keep it where you want it. All of these will tend to run into the engraving rather than stay on the surface. I'm sure there are commercial patinas for stainless, but I don't know where to get them.
Good luck!

p.s. when did the celts discover stainless? (evil grin)
Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 08/12/01 14:53:28 GMT

Thanks I've tried the commer. gun blues Birchwood Super and Alumi-black didn't faze it, will try the bleach any other suggestions?
John Martin  <martin51 at swbell.net> - Sunday, 08/12/01 15:03:28 GMT

Hummmm...Pi r square...no pie r round cornbread r square.
R. Guess  <RanDGuess at aol.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 15:26:17 GMT

Tried the Bleach cleans the steel real good.....by the way celts dicovered stainless around 356 to 425 A.D. called it star metal when combined with iron...Grin
John Martin  <martin51 at swbell.net> - Sunday, 08/12/01 15:37:01 GMT

Thanks for the advice on the brick. I happen to have some old smashed up fire brick laying in a pile in my back yard. Question though, how to you keep the coal from going down the pipe, if grating just gets burned up? Also, would you just put the coal right on the brick? (Bear with me, I'm VERY new to this, and the only other forge I have seen was a big steel table with a blower attached to it. I didn't even get to look that close.) Thanks for your help.
Bond,JamesBond  <sauruman at quik.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 15:51:07 GMT

Stainless Helm: John, You were perfectly clear but there is no answer to the question the way you want to do it. As Allen pointed out stainless is called "STAIN"less for a reason. It is designed to resist corrosion from really nasty acids. The ones used in normal gun bluing are used to CLEAN stainless.

There are a few very nasty organic compounds that stainless doesn't hold up to very well. But they are also VERY aggressive toward flesh and generaly just plain toxic in small quantities.

Stainless CAN be colored with heat. It will show a little temper "bluing" and will turn blue-black when heated to a red heat in air. This in turn can be wetted with wax, oil or lacquer and will darken to near black. Forged pieces with embossing or engraving can have the highlights polished for a nice effect. Have you ever looked at any of the better stainless flatware? That black in the forged embossing is just plain old mill scale that has not be removed.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 15:53:36 GMT

I Thank all of those with more knowledge on steel than I have as i'm a silversmith and not an armourer or have any real skills on the forge. you have been very helpful on my problem, I really like this forum and the people on it. Again Thanks, and I may have more questions in the future on various problems that arise as the idea of forgeing and general armouring appeal to the Renaissance in me.
John Martin  <martin51 at swbell.net> - Sunday, 08/12/01 16:04:10 GMT

Forge: 007, Forges have a variety of devices to keep coal from falling down the pipe. But many do not. You just take your lumps on the coal that falls into the ash dump and sort it later.

Commercial fire pots have either a "ball valve" that is actualy sort of triangular in section. You rotate it to adjust the air distriubution and to help let the ash and clinker fall into the ash dump. Then there is a type that has a cast in grate and the "clinker breaker" pokes through the holes on the sides helping clear them of ash and clinkers. The cast in grate has the heavy firepot as a heat sink. Between the air cooling it and the heat sink effect they usualy hold up well.

Most fabricated forges just have a couple pieces of bar welded across the opening. These eventualy burn out but then you just replace them. That is what is in my plans for a brake drum forge on our plans page.

When mine burned out a couple times I just quit fixing it and "took my lumps". Stainless bars would hold up a LOT longer.

Yes you can put the coal directly on the brick. The heat is going UP. If they are firebrick then they could be in line with the heat. If they are broken up small then it might be a problem getting mixed in the coal or cleaning out the forge. You could grout them in with a slathering of clay (any kind, water base) or use furnace cement.

Don't get TOO permanent until you have used the forge and figured out how it works.

OLD style forges avoided the drop through problam altogether by using a side blast. . . The British still favor them. Many have a water cooled twyeer to keep it from burning up.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 16:14:54 GMT

Good deal. Thanks for the advice, don't know what I would do without this forum. Learn the hard way I guess...(grin)
Bond,JamesBond  <sauruman at quik.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 19:47:58 GMT

Greetings from Las Cruces; picked up my first piece of scrap this vacation--a heavily corroded piece of iron; hmm how long does it take to build up over 1/8" of corrosion in a place *this* dry??? Had to lieve a nice piece of scrap plate as it won't fit in my carry-on...

Getting through the airport was fun on the way out; they passed my swiss army knife cause it didn't have "serrations" (glad they didn't look at the wood saw blade!) then they refused to let my billet through---a stack of bandsaw blades and strapping wired together--useless as a weapon but it was *serrated*; so they put it in a box and checked it and I ended up having to wait on "luggage" after all...Hope I meet someone out this way that wants to do a billet now that I've gone to the trouble of bringing one along! (Don't leave home without it!)

Thomas hot enough to draw temper in the sun down here
Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 20:26:08 GMT

Flying: Thomas, When we went to Flagstaff Bruce Wallace bought some hammers and put them in his carry on bag. . . . Nope! Looked too much like weapons to the security people.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 21:02:20 GMT

That 4-inch rule is not just to prevent falling all the way through, but getting a child's little noggin stuck, and then maybe snapping a neck. Or strangling. You want to see some regs, get hold of the Product Safety Commission, I think it is, regs for playground equipment!!! Plain sand or grass under the sliding boards? Forget it!
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 22:03:27 GMT

Hello - I was at an auction yesterday and bought a Hossfeld bender with a metal bucket 1/2 full of dies. I think this thing has almost everything. I have always wanted a Di Acro ( since I have used one ) but this will do for now. Surfing awhile back I came across a web site that demostrated all kinds of different bends for the hossfeld and I didnt make a note of it. Does somebody know of a web sites like this? I didnt get a book with it and need some basic knowledge on setting it up. Any help is appreciated. Please e-mail me or post here, I will try and get back on later this eve. One last thing - I paid $300, was this high??? Thanks in advance for any help. I will be in touch. Andrew
Andrew  <andybermond at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 22:08:53 GMT

I'm looking for information on how to make the handrail of a circular staircase, I'm working up a bid for a staircase with a inside and outside handrail. My first idea was to bend the stock in the circumference of the circle, the pull it apart to the correct height. I suspect that may be a crazy plan though. especially for the inside rail which would a circle of about 2' 11". Got any better ideas or paces to look for information? I have only 3yrs exp as a blacksmith and a rather primitive shop so I need to be very careful with this bid which should be submitted asap. Thanks for your time. D. highfield
donhighfield  <donhighfield at netidea.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 22:45:20 GMT

Andrew, if you find that information, I hope you'll share it. I'm having a tough time figuring out how to use mine. I know it would be a big help, but.......
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 08/12/01 23:36:14 GMT

To whom may best help:

I am looking to purchase a katana in the price range of $200-$300. Do you know what type of metal would be best for this type of sword? I have heard that steal with about 0.9% carbon is a good metal. Any information you could provide me with is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Matthew  <seiaininja at aol.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 00:30:01 GMT

I am rebuilding a power hammer named "PERFECT". The power will be delivered by flat belt from a 1725 motor. I plan for a jack shaft to reduce the speed, but I need advice on what rpm is effective for an eighty pound hammer. I would like to run at 180-200 so I have time to move the stock, but maybe this slower speed reduces the full power. Please tell me what hammers this size need for best efficiency.
Thanks, George
George Blackman  <gblackman at deschutes.net> - Monday, 08/13/01 01:34:57 GMT

How's it going Guru? Hey I have some unprocessed sivler ore it has been roll crushed and I was wondering how I can melt it down to get the silver metal I have worked in the refinerys of and on in minning here in NV. for the last 15 years so I have a little idea what is needed.I currently have a make shift smelter consisting of cinder blocks and a cast crock and my heat surce is a propane weed burner under the crock with the sides closed in to prevent heat loss but it will only just start to melt the material and wont go any further also it is real clumpy ,it seems like im short on heat i know i need somewhere in the wareabouts of 1700 degrees.,I thought about another weed burner to gain a higher combined leval of heat, but thinking about it, I think I need to use borrax or some kind of flux, what do you think I need to do ?i would like to do this myself to prevent me from having some large company do it and charging me a fortune.Can you please advise me on this I hope so.and does the flux additon make the heat need lesser?
Dave Howard  <howy_1 at citlink.net> - Monday, 08/13/01 01:39:49 GMT

Guru and all you other guys,
Thanks for the answers on the 4 inch code. Worked with straight pickets for four years, but had never given any thought to ornamental iron and how the code effects it. Keep on talking. I'm learning as I go.
Larry  <Blueheron419> - Monday, 08/13/01 02:09:08 GMT

circular stair handrail

There are many wys to figure the spiral shape of a circular stair rail. The simplest is to figure the actual length of the rail using the rise/run of the edge of step - not the circumference of the stair. Bend or roll the rail to a circle wih the circumference equal to the actual length of the rail for 360d. After rolling, fix each end and stretch to the height required. This will be close enough to the shape required for fitting to the ballusters. Hope this helps.

Dave Bernard  <dba-architect at worldnet.att.net> - Monday, 08/13/01 02:14:59 GMT

Looking and looking and this is about the best link I have found for my new bender: http://www.machinetoolsjwk.com/hossfeld.htm

Andrew  <andybermond at hotmail.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 02:28:20 GMT

Spiral Rail: Don, We have a FAQ about them on the 21st Century Page. No matter what you bid, it wont be high enough.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 02:38:04 GMT

Hossfeld Bender: Andrew, Etal, Centaur Forge sells a manual by Hossfeld. The full Hossfeld catalog is almost as good. That was a good price since they sell new for $800 without ANY dies. A couple sets a dies doubles the cost.

Paw-Paw, you probably don't have room for yours! 8' handle, sweeping a circle at about waist height. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 02:56:37 GMT

Katana: The real thing has the steel made by the swordsmith IN THE FORGE from iron hand made with other smiths in his COOP (or whatever the group is called in Japanese). There are no "technical" specs other than hundreds of years of tradition.

That said, yeah, SAE1095 will make a fair sword. But unless you are planning murder 304 stainless makes a better wall hanger. In any and ALL cases the material is inconsequential to the technical know how of the maker.

When 90% of what you hear on blade forums sounds like BS and you KNOW its BS. . then you might make an educated purchase.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 03:13:17 GMT


I have just purchased a ~35# Kerrihard power hammer, and realized that I have no idea how to take care of the thing. Luckly it won't be here fo a few days, but any advise you could give to someone who has never played with a PH before would be greatly appreciated. Is there a FAQ around that I could read?

The hammer appears to be in great shape, no repairs, original motor, not beat up at all. What should I do before I try to run it? I have read in most of the archives that Hammers like this want lots of oil. Should I just pour a couple of quarts all over it? Is mounting it on a couple of 6"x6" sufficent, or do I need something more elaborate?

Lastly, I paid $3000 for the hammer. Is this reasonable, or did I get taken?

Thanks for all you help and advice!!

Jim Freely  <anvil at earth.frog> - Monday, 08/13/01 04:44:32 GMT

Kerrihard: Jim, That may be a tad high for what is a relatively odd ball hammer. On the other hand there are no mechanical hammers being made today. There are quite a few Kerrihards around but not enough to have a body of information about them. There is some history of the company in Pounding out the Profits but as great a book as that is there is nothing on operating parameters or how-to.

I've been planning some articles on the subject for a long time but never get around to them. . . :(

Power Hammer Operation:

The big thing about power hammers is properly adjusting them. The ram should move smoothly and not stick but it also shouldn't have any play in it. This means adjustments (often shimming) in the +/-.002" (+/-.05mm) range.

The ram height needs to be adjusted for the thickness of the work. Normally the top die should hang at about the starting work height. At the same time the toggles (the links on the side of the ram) should be close to horizontal making a straight line. It is impossible to have enough tension to be an exact straight line but it should be a close as the spring will alow with reasonable tension.

On hammers that have stroke adjustments the long stroke is for slow heavy drawing while the short strike is for fast light chasing and such. After changing the stroke the height will need to be readjusted.

It is a common mistake to change the stroke and not change the height adjustment. This often allows parts to hit things they are not supposed to. Installing dies that are not up to factory height specs can also cause the same problem.

Slip belt clutches on Bradleys and Fairbanks run dry. Little Giant type cone clutches are kept heavily oiled. If you cannot start the machine gradualy or keep a constantly reduced speed by "riding" the clutch there is something wrong. You should be able to produce a slow 1,2 hit, 3,4 hit, 1,2. . . rhythm. And then step on it an have it run full speed.

Never run the bare dies on each other "clacking" the dies. It happens, but should be avoided. Many a board or 2x4 has been turned to splinters demonstrating a power hammer.

Even small power hammers are a powerful machine and should be treated with respect. Most hammers in bad condition have been worked on by jackleg mechanics that couldn't change a spark plug in a lawn mower but felt they knew how to work on a machine that few understand.

Study it. Learn how to use it. If you can make it run slow you've got everything under control.

If you oil a hammer regularly it will LOOK like you poured a quart of oil on it after a couple months. This is typical of all old plain bearing machinery without seals.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 06:07:51 GMT

Hammer Speed: George, I don't have any specs for a "Perfect" power hammer. But I have them for Little Giant and Fairbanks.

Little Giants are very speed critical. Most need to be run slower than they are. However the specs say 328 RPM for a 50# and 275 for a 100#. That would work out to 295 at 80#.

The Fairbanks has a stroke adjustment which the Little Giant does not. When adjusted to a short stroke the top speed can be a lot higher. Thus a 75# Fairbanks runs 325, an 80 would be 320 (not far off the extrapolated Little Giant numbers but faster in any case).

It is EASIER to run a hammer at lower speed but you should be able to do that with the clutch. Slip belt clutches are VERY easy to run a hammer at almost any speed in its range. Other clutches are not so good. In good condition with lots of oil the Little Giant cone clutch works very well. But as bearings wear and things wear excentricaly it becomes harder to control. The late model rear mount clutches become VERY grabby when the clutch bearing wears a little. More oil helps but there it a limit to how much you can keep on them.

If you plan on doing a lot of heavy drawing work then the machine needs that full speed. If you are going to be doing lots of hand held tooling work then slower is better.

On mechanical hammers, having the time to move the stock is up to the operator's skill with the clutch and overall hammer skill. It is impossible to keep up with full speed on any small hammer. If you want to be able to turn the work between every stroke without feathering the speed you had better set the max at about 120 to 180 RPM. But that really limits the flexibility and power of the machine.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 06:37:30 GMT

Smelting Silver: Dave, This is something I know absolutely NOTHING about. I'd have to look it up in the encyclopedia and you can do that.

I CAN tell you your equipment is not quite going to make it (as you are already discovering). Silver melts at 1,761°F and I expect that you have to melt some of the rock too. So lets say 2,000°F. That is a good bright orange heat on iron/steel.

The Cinder Blocks you are using will spall, crack and turn to dust at that temperature. You need some sort of refractory lining for your melter. Firebrick or Kaowool (maybe some of both).

The weed burner isn't going to make it either. You need a small blower (a little squirel cage fan) of 120 to 200 CFM capacity. The propane just gets fed in to the side of the connecting pipe (see our "stupid gas burner" on the plans page). Its going to take a big cylinder of propane (120 pounds at least). A lid with a hole in the center helps "choke" the melter so it burns properly and retains the heat better. These are usualy setup on a little jib crane or hinged to the side because they are hard to handle when hot.

At 2,000°F iron and steel start to get soft and are not suitable for a crucible. The flux also disolves iron and so does the silver. This badly contaminates the silver. So you are going to need either a clay or graphite crucible. When cast iron is used it must be lined with refractory clay to protect it from the metal and flux.

There is probably a much easier way since this has been being done for millenium. I suspect a solid fuel (charcoal) furnace was used and the silver collected in the bottom. At least in smelting iron that is how it was done. The furnace is filled with charcoal and gotten hot. Then more charcoal is added and then a charge of ore and flux followed by more charcoal. The havier metal settles to the bottom of the furnace and the lighter rock either floats on it or is melted (if this is less than the burning point of the metal) and is taped off as slag. Then the metal is taped off from a lower tap OR after the furnace cools it can be removed.

Charcoal burning furnaces also used a bellows or blower to increase the burning rate and thus the temperature. By controlling the air you can control the temperature. The charcoal used was not like modern briquets which are mostly sawdust and glue. It was 100% wood charcoal.

Borax can be used for fluxing silver but I do not know what they use in smelting. I suspect it depends on the type of ore.

Anyone else out there know something on this subject???
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 07:09:23 GMT

My project is to straighten the "welded spoke" wheels on a Model A Ford. I have made a jig to tweek the wheel into the straight position. Once I do that I can heat the necessary spoke(s) and then straighten them out. When the shrunken spoke cools it holds the rim in the new position. I have heard that if I don't heat the spoke past dull red, I shouldn't have a problem with the metal loosing it's temper or strength. I have also heard that you can heat and quench to shrink. Any info. is greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Brad
Brad Rowland  <g8tr at cyberg8t.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 13:42:19 GMT

Blueing Stainless Steel:

I like my wife's method- Throw it in the dishwater, wash every three or so days, wait six months to a year, and it's blued! At any rate, it works that way with the tableware.

Oversized Brake Drums:

Flip 'em over, weld a 3" or 4" thick pipe to them, weld a platform on top of the pipe and you have a great stand for a grinder, light vise or other like tool or machine. It's heavy, wide and stable, but tilt it to one side and it will roll, giving you a nice degree of portability within the shop.

Air Travel:

I've seen people stopped for a BBQ set, gift wrapped! No hammers allowed, either.

I put all my tools and stock in check-through. I don't even want to argue with them. Besides, it might distract them from someone with something less benign, and I HATE surprises at 30,000 feet.

Thomas- Meanwhile, enjoy Las Cruces. What brings you there? Dinner in Old Mesilla, now that's something I could enjoy! Drink lots of water and stay out of the sun.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Monday, 08/13/01 13:46:08 GMT

Don -- In making making a rail for a spiral stairway what you are doing is, you lucky dog, you are wrapping the long side, the hypotenuse, of a right triangle around a cylinder. The hypotenuse is the rail. The diameter of the cylinder you are wrapping the rail around around is the diameter of the circular stair in plan view (minus the distance the rail sits away from the wall if there is a wall around it). The height of the cylinder you are wrapping around is distance from finished floor to finished floor. You just lift the cylinder up to railing height.

Now comes the tricky part: check the number of treads. Multiply that by the tread width at the outside edge -- do not include any overlap of the noses. You want just the horizontal distance covered by each tread, starting where the one beneath ends. Add them up and you've got the bottom leg of the triangle. Lay that out square to the height and then connect the two ends and you have the basic length of the outer rail (except for code-required stickout--see below) and the rise, too, the pitch, the angle at which the rail goes up.

Now build yourself a jig:
Find a section, partial is okay, of hefty -- because you are going to be doing a lot of bending against it-- pipe or cylinder of maybe 1/4-inch or 3/16 plate close to the diameter of your stair. Now weld some L-shaped anchor points onto the curved plate. These should be at least 1/2-inch round, stock bent into Ls just a smidgeon bigger than the width of the rail, positioned at the same rise-angle relative to the long axis of the piece of cylinder as the rail is to the floor. Heat the rail stock and bend it, pulling against the anchor points, to fit the curve of the jig. It'll be close enough. Note: you will save yourself a lot of grief if you can use round stock for the rail. With round, you will not have to try to keep a flat rail flat as it curves and rises at the same time.

Do the same layout process for the inside rail. The rise is exactly the same. You just wrap it tighter, around the smaller cylinder representing the distance the inner rail sits from the center of the circular stair. Do not forget to allow for the horizontal stickout past the top and bottom treads that is probably required by your code as it is by the Uniform Building Code, which calls for 12 inches past top and bottom risers. On the install, be extremely careful in measuring for and mounting anchor points on the wall if the rail is wall-mounted-- or on the treads if the rail is free-standing with balusters-- to go in same distance from each tread nose. Otherwise, when you plumb up from them, if you are not plumbing from points the exact same distance on each one, or setting the balusters at the same distance in, the pitch of the rail will be wayyyy off, will not follow the stairs.

Balusters cannot be farther apart than 4-inches max. UBC sez stair rail must be 34-to-38 inches high (guard rails are minimum 42"), 1 1/2 minimum to wall, 1 1/4-to-2-inches in cross-section.

Go for it!

Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 15:00:16 GMT

Silver smelting---unless you are smelting native silver what you are doing is a lot more complicated then melting the silver. Is the ore an oxide or a sulfide? it affects what you need to do with it to get silver from it! Is it mixed with lead? Very common not real nice to deal with on the small scale. Agricola covers renaissance methods of smelting silver in _De Re Metallica_ and a geologist in the SCA recently did some smelting using renaissance tech---but they had access to a modern hood with lead recovery systems.
Borax while great for keeping air from the metal when melting it will probably not work when you *want* the CO to access the ore to remove excess O or S. If I get time I will try to look up the writeup of the SCA experiment; but I'm on vacation and using a borrowed system.

Atli, visiting my folks and younger siblings ; had lunch at Lorenzo's in Mesilla and even more to my taste a meal at State Line BBQ over near El Paso.

Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Monday, 08/13/01 18:28:32 GMT

Silver Smelting: Dave, I do not know what type of ore that you waant to refine. So i'll cover many. About 90% of silver in the U.S. occurs as native silver. That is in the free state, not as a compound, such as silver sulfide. That silver is usually found as small particles dissminated (intermixed with metallic compounds). Some of those compounds are the sulfides of lead, copper, and zinc. Lead sulfide is the most common. These sulfide deposits are usually sent to refineries that extract the majority metallic sulfide and the silver is extracted as a by-product. I presume that your ore is primarily silver, and I'll get to it's refining shortly.

So here's the next portion. massive sulfide ores are crushed in jaw crushers then in rod mills then in ball mills. Ater all that crushing the ore is like a fine powder. the metallic sulfide particle are separatedfrom the worthless country rock by processes like flotation. the ore is wetted in baths in which frothing agents are added. The mess is agitated and bubbles are blown into the bath through the bottom of the tanks.The bubbles attract only metal sulfides which stick to the bubbles as they rise to the top of the tank. The bubbles are skimmed off together with their adhering metal particles. Eventually only non metallic gangue is left in the tank and this is discarded often to be used as back-fill in the mines. The metal sulfides are dewatered and put into reveratory furnaces where they are roasted. Roasting converts the metallic sulfies into metallic oxides. The metallic oxides are put into converter furnaces where heat, flux chemicals, and a fuel source usually carbon, combine under great heat to dissolve unwanted material in the flux which floats and tapped off. The metallic oxides are reduced to the metal by carbon monoxide which stealls the oxygen of the metallic oxide.to form carbon monoxide. The latter chemical is a gas that rises and leaves up the stack. The resulting copper or zinc can purified by other processes such as electrolysis. Also hot lead oxide is volatile and comes off as a gas , if that is desired. (more about that in a minute). The left-over silver sludge can then be treated with mercury. The silver dissolves in the mercury amalgam. That mess is separated from the other material and the amalgam is heated in enclosed retorts where the mercury is driven off , and is condenced elsewhere to be reused. The silver that is left behind, is What we want. Please note that this amalgamation process canbe used right away, without the other steps above if we have an ore that is mostly silver with little meatallic sulfide. But the ore must still be crushed before beng amalgamated. A more efficient process subtitutes dilute sodium cyanide, instead of mercury, dissolved in the water. The cyanide attacks the silver to form soluble (i.e. dissolved compound). The solution is then filtered and all the undissolved gangue is discarded. The dissolved silver cyanide solution is put into a vat and metallic zinc powder is mixed into the solution. Zinc displaces silver cyanide to form zinc cyanide and the freed silver sinks to the bottom and is collected, melted and poured into ingot bars.

Highly impure mixtures of gold and silver and other unwanted impurities, can be can be separated, by adding lead oxide and some other fluxing forming materials to the mixture and reheating the mess. This resmelting of the lead, silver, and gold is cupeled, in order to remove the lead. Cupeling occurs when air is blown over the molten mess. The oxygen forms lead oxide which comes off as a gas, if the retort is hot enough. The gold-silver mass is treated in an electrolysis bath. Where silver dissolves in water-nitrate solution and an electric current drives the silver to migrate from the anode positive pole to the cathode negative pole where it is deposited on a silver sheet. (added to the cathode at the begining. The gold does not dissolve and remains at the anode and sinks to the bottom). The gold is then removed remelted and poured into ingots. And a jolly good time is had by all.

Dave you may encounter problems. Mercury is very poisonous, should not be let into the environment. And never should be dumped in the garbage. The local authorities and the Feds will go ballistic if the previous described acts are committed. Gaseous mercury fumes are very toxic. The Mad Hatter, in Alice in Wonderland got permanently mad because hatters used mercury, a lot in their work. That brings me to sodium cyanide solutions. This little darling kills. And kills even faster if the acid becomes hydrocyanic acid gas. I think California still uses it to execute criminals. Cyanide water solutions are very hard to dispose of and cause a major polution problem at old gold mine workings all over the midwest.

I hope that the following "note" helps you or has solved your (and other peoples), insomnia problem. Seriously, have fun with the project, but please be careful. And if you decide to have a shot at it., get LOTS more information on the processes and their designs and details before you go ahead with the project. This short note is NOT sufficient to carry out the project. And I will not take any resposibility for any successes, outcomes, mishaps or disastrous screw-ups that result from your chemical adventure.

Best Regards, Slag.

slag  <dstotland at videotron.ca> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 01:28:02 GMT

An older gentleman called our office today with an inquiry as to what flux is needed in tempering iron. He said he had a book that's about 60 years old on this but cannot locate it. He believed it was borax and something. If anyone has info that would help him out, would appreciate your sharing. Thanks so much!
Nancy  <mjextn at in-tch.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 14:40:38 GMT

Flux: Nancy, Flux is used in welding not heat treating (tempering is one of several steps in a multi-step process). See:

Heat Treating FAQ

More by mail.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 15:14:57 GMT

Nancy, You don't need any flux for tempering iron. You only need flux when welding iron, either electric or forge welding. Borax is what you use for forge welding. Tempering iron is a completely different process & much more involved. You will need to find out exactly what he wants to do & let us know and we'll try to help out.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 15:13:11 GMT

Oops, I should have said tempering "Steel", you can't temper plain iron.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 15:14:13 GMT

Riveted Mail:

There was a question a week or so back. There is an excellent site for European-style riveted mail at: http://www.forth-armoury.com/

I met this gentleman at Jamestown's Military Through the Ages last March, and he seemed to have his information and techniques well researched.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 15:56:51 GMT

Just returned from three weeks in Venice. Swing a cat by the tail, let go, and it's going to hit iron somewhere. The saline environment doesn't bother the Venetian smiths; they just kept (and continue) making and installing, even tho' there is an seasonal tide situation, about a one meter rise in the water.
Olle, A nice little, fantistic story about a blacksmith is, "The Smith of Wooten Major" by Tolkein.
Mike Roth, Jeremiah Watt of Coalinga, California, uses his Oliver for cutting out small pieces for bridle-bit parts.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 18:28:38 GMT

I am looking for a manual on a National 1 to 1.5 inch upset forger. The problem I have is that to get it from the company National, it is very expensive. How can I find one.
Kent Price  <kentposi at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 19:17:33 GMT

Manuals: Kent, There are a couple web sites that sell reprint machine manuals. But they are not cheap at $100 and not as good as OEM, nor do they have current updates such as safety and recall bulletins. If you intend to maintain the machine and need parts from the OEM, buying a (possibly copyright infringing) manual from a dubius source is not a good first step in dealing with them.

Looking for a link. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 19:28:24 GMT

Wow, it seems everyone is in the reprint business now days! Try these folks, if they don't have it try the used book search guys.

Machinery Manuals Metalworking machine manuals.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 19:58:52 GMT

Welcome Back Frank! We missed you around the ol' fire.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 20:00:07 GMT

Where is the standard dimension on hexagonal stock measured? For instance, if the catalog says it is "1/2-inch hexagonal stock", does it mean: a)1/2" across the section flat-to-flat, b)1/2" across the section point-to-point, or c)the flat is 1/2" wide?
Ron Holcomb  <holcombron at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 20:14:10 GMT

Ive seen hammers for building (hooks) with tuning forks inside the handle to take out the vibration from impact, have anyone seen the same type of handles in smithing hammers????
Russ  <russ at webdoodle.net> - Tuesday, 08/14/01 23:49:04 GMT

HEX Stock: Ron, Hex is measured across flats.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 05:16:20 GMT

Tuning Fork????: Sounds like a flim-flam sales gimick to me. Counter acting vibration requires a perfect match in the opposite direction to absorb the energy. If you are the slightest bit out of "tune" it would only add to the problem. If the direction is the same it would double the problem. Determining the harmonics of the handle requires the grip to be in the exact same place in all cases. If you change your grip the frequency will change (just like fingering a guitar string). Most users change their grip constantly.

The best anti vibration handle is good American ash that has been thinned between the grip and the head. Most health problems due to vibration are caused by bad technique (a death grip on the handle) OR by poorly designed "all steel" handles.

I use a fibreglass carpenter's hammer (built a couple HUGE wooden building with it) and love it. However, it has a relatively slender shank on the handle. I have tried others that were made to heavy and they were as bad a solid steel handle. Subtleties in design and technique are required in any task involving tools and daily use.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 05:39:25 GMT

Reams could be written on different types of hammer heads, handles, weights, how to hold, etc. Just remember, when you first lay hand on handle, it should not feel like you're holding the wrong end of a dang baseball bat. My old Okie friend, Bill Center, told me this once..."You can get used to anything. You can get used to hanging if you hang long enough".
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 11:34:06 GMT

Dave Howard
I have not worked much with raw ore, but I do some silver and gold recovery from scrap electronics and have recovered a nice amount of silver from different types of contacts. With silver, I use a large pyrex dish and disolve the item in nitric acid. Then, stir in table salt to draw out the silver oxide, it will form white clumps as you stir. Dump out the acid leaving the siver oxide in the dish. Wash the silver oxide with water a few times removing all the acid. Stir in some lye until you end up with a thick black sludge. Scrape the sludge into a crucible and melt. You will end up with .999 FINE SILVER. You may be able to do the same thing with ore if you filtered the chunky undissolved items out of the acid before you add the salt. You can do this with a reguler coffee filter. Check out www.ishor.com for more complete info on this, and PLEASE read the WARNINGS. Any time you work with or around acids such as nitric, you are exposing your self to a high risk of injury or worse.
Keith  <kbarker1 at stny.rr.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 11:57:04 GMT

Hammer Handles: Frank, I agree with you completely. I just don't believe that you can build a tuning fork into the handle of a hammer and reduce vibration. I understand wave theory, machine vibration and the mechanics of musical reasonance too well. A tuning fork in a handle sounds too much like one of those goofy ideas that the patent office is full of that don't work. Just because its patented doesn't mean it works. It just means that it is original.

Although I have never been a student of handles I DO know when one feels right from wrong. Most standard wooden handles are OK to me. OF course they ARE the result of thousands of years of development tempered by mass production process. This means they are of very average design. But many NEW handle designs, particularly the metal and fiberglass, are completely untested and are very bad. They are just made and sold to the masses wordwide that do not know good from bad.

A century ago, if you made a bad tool it would be returned or there just plain wasn't any market. So even "mass produced" tools had to meet some usability standard. We are now in an era where bad products sell as well as good products. Advertising hype and gimics are more important than a good product. Today there are too many "home owners", part time laborers and government low bid systems buying tools. A few professional's complaints to make any difference to the manufacturer. As long as the product sells, they do not care.

People also put little thought into how they work. I've always thought about my tools and connection too them. It is easy to develope very bad work habbits when you don't think about what you are doing. When doing repititious work I think about every move, ever nuance. Maybe its just me, or perhaps its from having used hand tools from a very early age. OR it could be because I do not like pain and have learned to avoid it. . . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 12:36:31 GMT

Guru, I agree. No tuning fork in a hammer handle will work. Too much variability in how the hammer is used.

But.......thereís always a ďbutĒ, isnít there?........ a shock absorbing handle would work. Turn that vibrational energy into heat before it gets to our sensitive tendon/ligament/bone structure. Not a dead blow head, but a dead blow handle. Dead blow heads reduce the energy transfer in most situations. Good for some applications, but not smithing.

Cracked, can CACA work on the handle thing? Grin.

Poetry in motion. No, itís not just you. Those who donít think and are not taught to develop the correct motions will never enjoy them. They will be destined to slog through manual labor. What a shame.

I was never taught, but I saw the light while developing manual assembly line functions and sequences. The lowest paying job I ever had was putting together those ugly little arrow topped, flashing light, changeable letter signs. You know the ones. In front of gas stations and liquor stores touting the deal of the day. No construction work in the winter and I needed money. We assembled them 25 at a time from pre made parts. It was brutally boring. But I found a kindred soul among the masses and we made it fun. And we made it FAST! Went from 8 hours per 25 signs to 2.2 hours per 25. It was a hoot. Competition for the most efficient methods. Even the right kind of foot shuffle while popping rivets made a difference. Manual labor can and SHOULD be fun! Life is too damn short for it not to be so. I never noticed it, but the efficient motion thing happened automatically with masonry. When what you are throwing weighs 54 pounds, and you do it 450 times a day, it automatically becomes a dance. Has to in order to survive. Iíve found the same with smithing.
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmmilwpc.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 13:55:33 GMT


Ever watch two or three smiths working on the same piece? Sheri (better half) has watched me and others working together. She calls it "The Dance of Steel". She says that we literally dance and sway "to the music of the hammer". Especially when moving the hot stuff from place to place. From fire to anvil, to jig, to fire, to .....
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 14:09:18 GMT

The Dance: When working at the forge of think of it as a waltz. 1, 2, 3 . . 1, 2, 3. . . If I get a 1, 2, 3, 4. . I say, "WHAT?" Where did THAT come from? And try to fix it. I also count hammer strokes and saw strokes as well as bending steps on ANY repetitive job. It often keeps you focused on the job. You shouldn't let your mind wander when handling white hot metal! OR operating any kind of machinery, shop, kitchen or anywhere else.

I do TWO things with the information. I try to reduce the count, thus improve my efficiency. It also tells me when my tools are dull or I am too tired.

Back when I had to hand saw everything I counted the strokes. Ten to twelve to hacksaw a 1/2" round bar. When I hit fourteen it was time to put in a new blade. Sadly those blades I was going through so fast are no longer available. . . They were the very brittle "All-Hard Tungsten" blades sold by several manufacturers. Brittle like glass and broke like it too. But they held a set and flew through steel!

Now I have a cutoff saw. But I apply the same rules. I usualy replace blades well before they are "worn out". Old blades do not cut evenly OR straight. Blades in good condition save you money.

When you are physicaly tired and start becoming inefficent it is time to stop and do something else. There is always something less demanding to do other than working at the forge. Knowing when to quit keeps your work quality UP and avoids accidents from not paying attention.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 14:17:15 GMT

Paw Paw, I can imagine. And Aspire to. grin.

Damn fun when it works right, isn't it.
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmmilwpc.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 14:45:55 GMT



Like Jock, I count things too. Hammer strokes, ceiling tiles, steps, what ever. Always have.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 14:50:38 GMT

Thanks, Guru, for the hex info. Now I can order without fear!

On the subject of gimmicky tools, I would bet that most hand tools are not purchased by professionals as you alluded to earlier. The amatuer or part-timer will mistakenly look for the wrong qualities in the tools they use. They see fiberglass handles as long-lasting and multi-use tools as being space-saving. I can't help but to feel sorry for these people as they let the joy of using a fine tool slip by. I feel sorry for them right up until the point at which I can pick up the nice tools that they discard!
Ron Holcomb  <holcombron at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 15:24:33 GMT

Ron: me and you both:-) one gets to see LOTS of useful HIGH!!quality tools and machines trown away when working at scrapyard. most of them need nothing more than new cord, handle, switch, motor...
the number of old tools and machines trown away is astounding.
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 16:31:07 GMT

Hammer Handles
I have seen at least one knifesmith (I think it was either Keith Kilby or Wayne Goddard) who saw into the hammmer handle about 1/3 of the way down from the head. A small hole is then drilled at the tip of this slot to prevent unwanted cracking. If you place the hammer face against the anvil face, the slot runs parallel to the anvil face. It is claimed that this treatment of hammer handles does reduce the shock that is transmited to your arm. this may be the "Tuning fork" idea that was mentioned originally.
Patrick - Wednesday, 08/15/01 16:53:35 GMT

Most people I confide to that I look for the most efficient methods of manual labor laugh and make derogatory remarks about my retentive ways. Is it any wonder that I should hang out here?
Tony I had the asame kind of job building pallets, only the boss was interested in the production ..until he started paying per pallet. sly grin.

Semi drums:
to add to what bruce said I have mounted my leg vice in one and clamp a piec e of round stock in it, Tilt and roll to desired postion. RR track base is welded in flush to absorb the shock. works great in alimited space sit.
Mills  <mills_fam2 at netzero.net> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 18:06:52 GMT

Hello. I'm a experienced and practicing artist blacksmith living in switzerland. I'm looking for a long time for a foegeable bronze? I tried some bronze and it all breakeable more than brass. My goal is for doing pieces and especialy sculpture in forge. Thank you for your answer if you know. Take your time it's not rush. I know it's a hard question.
pelli  <pelli at visto.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 19:33:22 GMT

The carpenters' framing hammers actually do have tuning forks built into the inside of the hammer to help dissipate resonant vibration. Really! I saw it on the PBS channel.
Tom  <wolfmaaaannn at quik.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 20:18:40 GMT

Thanks Frank, I knew someone out there must be using one for SOMETHING! It seems like it would be a handy machine.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 20:21:44 GMT

I live in Chicaco, and I'm looking to learn welding and blacksmithing. So far I haven't found a local trade school or community college that offers a welding course. Do you know of one?

Tom Hall
Tom Hall  <hallscrawl at earthlink.net> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 20:44:28 GMT

Correction: I live in Chicago, not "Chicaco"

Ton Hall
Tom Hall  <hallscrawl at earthlink.net> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 20:49:12 GMT

PELLI, A few years ago, I received this information from the Copper Development Association, 260 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016. "Forging Brass", Copper 59.5%; Lead 2%; Zinc 38%. "Architectural Bronze", Copper 57%; Lead3%; Zinc 40%. Both are forgeable with heat. Some smiths tell me they have luck forging silicon bronze hot. It's the bronze they pour nowadays at the art foundries.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 22:38:42 GMT

PELLI, Sorry, I forgot to give you the numbers of the alloys. The forging brass is C37700 and The architectural bronze is C38500.
P.S. I'm wondering if the tuning forks give out with a specific note.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Wednesday, 08/15/01 22:47:54 GMT

Brass and Bronze FAQ
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 00:15:33 GMT

I have what may be a simple question, I Hope. I am a knife maker, making both forged knives, and stock-removal throwing knives. After reading the article on the 20-ton press in the 21st century section, I would like to know if you think it would be feasable to build a press to punch knife blanks from 3/16 annealed 1075. I also have 17 years experience as a welder and metal fabricator. any help would be appreciated.
Mike Spiker  <mspiker at juno.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 00:44:41 GMT

Punching knife blanks: Mike, Yes it is possible but you will need a LOT of press.

Lets say you have a 6" blade and a 5" full tang. And the whole is about 1" wide. That is a perimeter of about 23.5". Multiply that by the thickness of the metal (.189) and that gives you a cross section to shear of 4.44 square inches. Multiply that by 40 tons (30 for mild steel). That means it will take 178 tons minimum. So you need a 200 ton press.

A band saw starts looking better. . . But the press would put you into relatively high production! You could make enough blanks in one day to keep a dozen workers grinding for weeks.

NOW. . IF the blank you are shearing is just the point and curve and the full tang is full width of on-size stock then the force could drop to 100 tons. This would create a partial blank that could be further profiled by grinding OR using a second die set. Remember however that a shearing operation doesn't work well with tapers that run off the work. Ends of a partial cut will need to be fairly abrupt.

IF the tang is considerably smaller than the blade (say 1/3 width) then a "notching" style punch could be used to shear each side of the tang in seperate steps on the same die. A 5" tang would take 37.8 tons (50 with a safety factor). be sure the dies cut a heavy radius at the corner of the tang.

You could put both sets in a single die set. Shear the point, turn around and cut one side of the tang, flip over and cut the other. You could get quite close to shape and be able to do the final profile on a belt sander in a few minutes.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 04:13:30 GMT

It was B. Hickory who advocated the slot in the handle below the head. He also said that if you drilled a hole in the handle butt, filled it with oil and plugged it you would never, ever, get a blister. uh huh.
However St Francis said that he had driven the wedge in a hammer handle and that it created an unintended split that extended below the head. He said that BH saw that handle and assumed that it was purposeful.
The technique does seem to lessen the transmitted vibration a bit but leaves the handle susceptable to linear cracking, especially if you are inclined to thin the handle at the neck a lot as I like to do.
On a related note. A friend was one of the first westerners into Red China with a film crew. One of the clips he showed me was of a group of men breaking up boulders with big sledge hammers. What was notable was that the handles were quite long and so flexable as to be almost rubbery. I imagine them to have been constructed like a bamboo flyrod with laminated strips of bamboo. The hammer head would lag a full 25 degrees behind the handle at the top of the swing and they were clearly already lifting before the moment of impact. The film clip was only 15 sec or so and taken from a distance, but the image stuck fast in my sodden brain and influenced how I think about hammer handles.Might explain why I miss so much.
P-F - Thursday, 08/16/01 08:23:35 GMT

P-F et al., Much I have learned from my students. In the early, early days forge instruction, I had a Danish student, now living in Toronto. He had worked in Denmark and Germany as a specialized smith, but was having trouble with forge welding and other stuff. But he was one heck of a striker. He taught me the Euro style of striking.
He mentioned one day that my top tools should not be wedged at the toolheads. Of course, I asked, "Why?" Here's the theory. If your top tool is wedged and the striker delivers a sloppy hit or a glancing blow, this may set up an odd vibration that causes the haft to split. The wedge enhances this possibility. This has happened to me once only, but it happened, nevertheless. The entire length split apart. This helps explain why in photos in "The Blacksmith's Craft", some of the tool hafts are kind of crooked and protrude through the eye for a good distance. Let's not forget too, that top tools are not swung, so the chances are small that the head would go flying across the room.

The Japanese strikers use whippy hafts on their sledges, and if I'm correct, the kind of wood they use translates as "Cow Killer". I think their hand hammers handles are of somewhat stiffer stuff.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Thursday, 08/16/01 09:02:29 GMT

I feel a hammer handle FAQ comming on!
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 13:06:27 GMT

Top "set" tool handles: I have seen many old top tools that the handles just barely worked. Stuck through an extra distance. I always thought it was sloppy, but as Frank says they are not swung so there is little danger of one flying across the shop. However, top tools with eyes seem to be a modern invention and favored mostly in the U.S. but are made in other places also.

Most top tools in the 18th and 19th century as well as many used in Europe and other places today have a slight groove fullered into the shank for a wyth or wrapped bar handle.
The wyth handle was a green sapling or split wood that was wrapped in a similar manner and the the handle tied or wrapped with splits or cordage to make a handle. This was soaked in water to keep burning and was also very flexible.
The wrapped handle is made of relatively small round bar stock (3/8" - 10mm) that goes around the groove and is twisted to form a rather flexible handle.

Power hammer tooling often has quick and dirty pipe handles welded on or even stuck through an eye and welded. Well crafted top tools have a section of the shank just beyond the working part flattened to make it like a leaf spring or flexible "hinge" to prevent jaring forces being transmitted to the handler.

I've seen a few folks using the "split" handles and thought it was gimicky and nothing but a bad design to make the handle flexible. Thinning the neck of handle does the same without using a crack inducing split. Even crude commercial handles taper at the neck. My good fiberglass handled carpenter's hammer has a thin retangular neck very similar to the old style "Yankee" hammers. Almost all others I have seen were much too heavy. The one I like the head is molded on and the neck straight, the one I do not like has an adz eye and the handle tapers like an adz handle until it enters the rubber grip. I had not noticed that until I looked today. It may be one reason it doesn't feel right.

The majority of my hammers have commercial or OEM handles. I have never felt there was anything wrong with them. But occasionaly I pick up a tool that doesn't feel right. It is rare and I generaly don't use it long.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 14:05:43 GMT

Okay, here is a non-hammer question. I have destroyed a couple of sets of the cheap highly scratchable safety-glasses. I have decided it is about time to invest in a nice set, has anyone tried Centaur's Radian Combos, or have any favorite kind they use?

Escher  <tbarnett at isd.addedchar.net> - Thursday, 08/16/01 17:33:46 GMT


I buy my safety glasses through my Opthamologist. They're expensive, but eye surgery isn't cheap, either.

If you haven't already seen it, take a look at iForge Demo, #66, and you'll see why I feel that way.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 18:04:41 GMT

Yeah, I saw that one. After seeing that I considered getting a full welders helmet with a clear lens. Still considering it.

Escher  <tbarnett at isd.addchar.net> - Thursday, 08/16/01 20:26:37 GMT

Priming Bare metal.
Which gives better protection,red oxide or zink phosphate.
Mark  <manicholas at lineone.net> - Thursday, 08/16/01 20:42:31 GMT


That's what I now weare, over an expensive set of safety glasses.

You can walk with a plastic leg,
You can work with a plastic arm.
You can't see with a plastic eye.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 21:13:42 GMT

Thanks much for the press info. The knives I want to punch are competition grade throwers, that have to be as close to the same as possible. The press I had in mind was a lever type of press made from a 16 inch dump trailer frame and body pin. I thoughtthe lever action would allow me to build a high capacity press. Also what material should the dies be made from? Thanks again:)
Mike Spiker  <mspiker at juno.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 21:25:42 GMT

Does anyone know of a definitive test (preferably cheap and easy) to separate brass from bronze? I have a quantitiy of pipe fittings and I would like to know what they are made from. I understand most pipe fittings are brass these days, but some seem awfully tough for brass.
Sean Valdrow  <polymarkos at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 21:43:11 GMT

Primer: Mark, The zinc compounds are a little help but they are NOT the same as zinc paint. Both need to be applied to clean metal (no scale, rust, dirt, handprints). The cleanliness is more important than the type of primer.

Zinc powder paint is second only to galvanizing. The critical difference is that paint sticks to it. The zinc compounds are miles from it in protection.

Red oxide is what is known as a "neutral" primer. It doesn't react with chemicaly active base coatings such as the zinc paints OR the pigments in top coats. Its a "go between" primer. So are most other automitive primers such as the carbon rich block sanding primers.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 21:45:53 GMT

Father Dimitri of the nearby Russian Orthodox church is going to meet with me about mounting about 4 graduated sized bronze church bells in a row with timbers and ironwork. It will probably be people high, so that those standing on the ground in front of the bells can tap on them or ring them with short ropes. No belfry or bell tower is involved. I'm assuming this will be outside near the church, and we might build a small, protective pitched roof over the framework. This is Russian style. He has a photo of this setup, but it's fuzzy and taken from a distance. The bells are beautiful, new, and heavy. I've seen three of them. The suspension crown on each, part of the casting, consists of four curved, thick loops......in plan, a cross shape. Just about anyone can figure out how to do this job, but I would like it to be as close to "orthodox" as possible. Any Eastern Orthodox folks out there?
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Thursday, 08/16/01 21:52:45 GMT

Brass vs. Bronze: Sean, Most brasses have very similar strengths to bronze. It seams there should be some diffinitive "acid" test to tell the two apart. But I don't know what it is or where to look. I need to find a book of chemical tests. ANYBODY KNOW?

I know that if you burn brass the zinc burns first making lots of bright while zinc-oxide along with a yellow flare. I'm not sure what the tin in bronze does.

Most cast or forged plumbing bronze is "red" bronze and screw machine made fittings are yellow brass.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 21:57:07 GMT

I am writing an historical novel, and need a character to make a light strong leaf spring with a sort of stretched out question mark shape, and also a metal bow (prod) for a crossbow. I have checked the archives and read around a good deal, but I can't find info on how to make the raw material for such a spring - modern steels seem too high tech. Could a pre bessamer black smith make strong springs from forged iron? would some other material/alloy be suitable? I take it that it would have to be pulled and beaten to shape, heated to some degree and cooled at the right rate - but how hot,(colour?)for how long, and cooled how fast? Air oil or water? What is it that makes the difference between a spring and a lump of metal?
Help would be much appreciated.

John Catherwood  <litheduke at space.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 22:14:52 GMT

Frank: Russian bells, I am Russan Orthodox, I will ask my priest this weekend to sell if he has any ideas.
Myke  <stunti at usa.net> - Thursday, 08/16/01 22:38:27 GMT

MIke have you considered a plasma cuter with the right set up they cut like butter and w/ CNC arm are very accurate if this isn't cost probable (to &*^* expensive) try jobing they out to a local shop I have a friend who has done this he gets a full sheet of 1080 and has a job shop cut it into blanks for him.
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 22:50:11 GMT

Frank Russian bells. Ok Ok I know this sounds funny but try www.russianbells.com they have exellentinfo and picts.
Myke  <stunti at usa.net> - Thursday, 08/16/01 22:51:01 GMT

Hey Myke, That's hilarious. I think I'm going to learn to search, someday. Beaucoups thanks.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Thursday, 08/16/01 23:02:13 GMT

Knife Blanks: Mike, MP is right. Either laser or plasma cutting is the most efficient method of blanking. The computer controls will accept a CAD drawing in DXF format and cut to a tolerance of about +/-.015" (.4mm). But the difference between parts will be much less than that (probably +/-.005" max). The cuts are as clean as punched (or better on 3/16" stock).

Press dies are made from anything from W-1 to A-2. I prefer A2 because heattreating is easy. Used tempered to max usable hardness.

That dump body was designed for a load of 8 to 10 tons. We are talking loads 10 to 20 times that!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 23:11:27 GMT

am trying to twist plated steel to make soil augers but it wants to tie in a k

not dont know if steel is too hot or cold
gary  <wolf stare at WEB TV .NET> - Thursday, 08/16/01 23:18:17 GMT

hey i just thought i would note that we fired our backyard built drum forge today and it heated steel so i guess it was a success. I cant wait to actually try to make something. see ya
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Thursday, 08/16/01 23:41:53 GMT

SEAN: to differentiate brass from bronze try this; Prepare a 50% nitric acid water solution. Do it by preparing equal volumes of concentrated nitric acid and water (preferably distilled water; which is cheaply available at your local drugstore). Obviously both liquids are in two separate vessels. I suggest plastic or glass. NOT metal. Use rubber gloves for the next procedure. Also use a face shield, and long pants and a smock if you can get one. Denim works great. SLOWLY pour a little acid into the water. Do it slowly because a huge amount of heat is given off during the dilution.
(NEVER repeat: NEVER pour any water into concentrated acid).
If you do it the wrong way, you will get an explosion of very hot acid all over your face, body, clothes and any by-standers. Believe me we don't need that kind of excitement, melodrama, and ensuing suing. I remember the order by the following phrase A & W (like the root beer - guru); that is, "a over w"; acid into water.
Now that we have the 50::50 mix, a little of the solution into a glass container and put the metallic specimen into the container in contact with the liquid solution. Wait a while. A white precipitate indicates that it is bronze. The white mess is tin; really metastannic acid.(stannic or stannous indicates tin it's from the Latin). An alloy of copper and tin is bronze. Brass is an alloy of copper and ZINC. Therefore, brass cannot give a white precipitate.
One bottle of acid/water solution will last a long time.
Cheers:: SLAG.
slag  <dstotland at videotron.ca> - Friday, 08/17/01 00:31:48 GMT

I just got an electric kiln. Can I use this to normalise blades before hardening.If so at what temp. should I hold them at and for how long before I let them cool slowly?I'll be using 1095.thanks,chris
chris makin  <cfm15 at home.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 01:22:32 GMT

the problem is I am a good cabinet maker, but ony a marginal blacksmith. I have an old timberframing tool(a twibill) (a pick with 2 flat blades one horisontal one virticle) It is bilt of wrought iron with tool steel blades forge welded on.

The tool is about 200 years old. the wrought iron body has split, from the eye to one of the steel blades. The problem is that I'm a little afraid of it.

my experience level, mostly wood working hand tools, afew knives some hardware for the homestead, I am only learning forge welding,

what procedure am I looking at to reweld wrought iron, do you think I should put this on the back burner for a couple of years while I gain experience? do you think I should find a good smith, one who realy knows what they are doing?
Eric Ericson  <jeericson> - Friday, 08/17/01 02:27:09 GMT

I think I didn't get the E mail adress right, try this
Eric Ericson  <jeericson at hotmail.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 02:29:11 GMT

Old Split wrought Eric, Put the TOOL on the back shelf as an antique. When wrought splits it usualy gets rusted inside the split. It IS possible to flux heavy enough and reweld but the tool will NOT be the same tool you started with or anything close to the original.

Most forge welds have the joint upset to provide material to reduce in size (and quantity) during the welding process. To mearly "repair" by forging back together is impossible.

Instead, you are much better off to use it as a pattern to make a copy from modern tool steel. Then you can screw up as many times as it takes without hurting the original.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 02:48:13 GMT

SAE 1095:

Normalizing: Heat to 1575°F (855°C) cool in air. (note no holding time).

Annealing: "As is generaly true for all high carbon steels, the bar stock is supplied by mills in spheroidized condition. . . . . When parts are machined from bars in this condition no normalizing or annealing is required."

Forgings should be normalized.

Anneal by heating to 1475°F (800°C). Soak thoroughly. Furnace cool to 1200°F (650°C) at a rate not exceeding 50°F (28°C) per hour. From 1200°F (650°C) to ambient temperature, cooling rate is not critical.

Hardening: Heat to 1475°F (800°C), Quench in water or brine. OIL QUENCH sections under 3/16" (1.59mm).

Tempering: As quenched hardness as high as 66 HRC. Can be adjusted downward by tempering.

Heat Treaters Guide - Standard Practices and Procedures for Steel. 1982, American Society for Metals, p.81
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 03:06:02 GMT

I thank you very much, It's probobly the wize thing to do, a shame though,
Eric Ericson  <jeericson at hotmail.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 03:19:42 GMT

Auger shape: Gary, The spiral shape of augers is not twisted or bent into shape. It must be roll formed or forged into shape. Metal can be stretched to some degree but normaly you must force it into shape. To wrap a flat bar aound a shaft into a sprial the inside edge must be thickened or "upset" and the outer edge thined or "drawn out". Upsetting is very difficult to do in this case so all the thickness difference is made by thining toward the outside. This requires either hammer or roll forging. On large ones they use many pie shaped pieces welded together.

If you are not makeing a true "auger" or Archemidies screw shape but instead a twisted flat bar then all you have to do is PULL hard on it as you twist it. Anchor one end in a vise and PULL. The hot metal will stretch on the outer edges enough to make a twist of about the rate of a "twist drill" bit. If the piece is a size that you can't pull hard enough then you will need self closing tongs and something to pull with. A come-a-long or a winch. Both ends will need serious anchoring.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 03:25:04 GMT

HISTORICAL NOVEL::John Bessemer invents his steel-making process in G.B. in 1856. Kelley invents same process in U.S.A. in 1854. Previous to that "cast Steel". Cast steel is just chopped blister steel melted and heated in sealed retorts with NO air. Flux was also added and the floating with it's impurities in a floating scum was skimmed off. The poured remaining molten steel hardened and was homogenious high carbon steel, available at an exorbitant price. The process was discovered by Huntsman, an Englishman, around 1840. Before and at this time, blister steel was the main source of steel and much of it was imported from Sweden. Blister steel was made from essentially, carbon-less and highly refined wrought iron. The carbon would slowly infuse (i.e. go into solution), into the red hot iron by a carburizing process. To do this, usually flat iron bars or plates were packed into heat proof clay boxes. Also carbonaceous material was packed all around the iron. Lots of different items were used, e.g. hoof parings (which is mostly keratin a carbon source), fine charcoal,leaves, grasses etc.etc. But all of this was high in carbon.) The clay boxes were sealed air-tight and heated for days. The melting temperature of carbonless iron is very high so the foundry masters never heated the boxes that high. (they may not have been capable of doing so.). red hot iron will slowly absorb carbon. It,s a very slow process that took continuous heat for days. (usually more than week. Charcoal was the fuel used for this process, and huge amounts were used in the process. Blister steel got its name because it appeared blistered. The carbon content was not homogeneous so it made lousy clock springs. Huntsman was a clock maker. Swedish blister steel was preferred because Swedish ores rarely have much phosphorous which wil cock-up the carburizing process and for that matter the original Bessemer process too. (the acid Bessemer improved process was invented about 16 years later. (It could finally handle phosphorous iron ores.)
Most cross-bows were made from laminated layers of metal. Indeed most cross-bows were made from laminations of exotic woods. For example,the best laminating glue came from the skin of a specific sturgeon from the Black Sea!
Scientific American Magazine had a very good article on cross-bow technology, about 8 to 12 years ago. I cannot find my reprint, in the chaos that I choose to call home.
I hope the preceeding notes help. Best of luck on your historical novel. Regards Slllllllaaaag.
slag  <dstotland at videotron.ca> - Friday, 08/17/01 03:53:39 GMT

I'm 36 years old with 17 years experience as a general machinist, I hold an A.S. degree in welding & I'm also a certified welder. I was just given an old Champion Blower & Forge Co. lath. It was given to my brother in Nome Ak. he then shipped it to me. The lathe can turn about 10" with a bed lenght about 50". I'm looking for information on it. If you could point me in the right direction I would be greatful.
Jim Mahoney  <scrbelly at gte.net> - Friday, 08/17/01 04:48:49 GMT

What is the difference between Pocahontas coal and Cumberland Elkhorn coal? Also do they both come from W.V? I have a chance to purchase some Pocahontas and have used Cumberland Elkhorn before.
Roy  <bradleyrsaun at cs.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 13:59:17 GMT


They come from different mines. Personally, I prefer Pocahontas.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 14:17:53 GMT

Coal Quality: Roy, Pocahontas is generaly good coal but the quality varies from shaft to hole, seam to seam. Pocahontas comes from a variety of mines. Ask your supplier for specifics and check them against the coal links on out links page. The best smithing coal is that which has the highest BTU and lowest ash. Low sulfur is also a criteria but not nearly as important as BTU/ash.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 14:19:34 GMT

Pocahontas, C-E, and crucible steel:
Pocahontas is MUCH better than C-E. C-E is from eastern Kentucky, Pocahontas is mostly WVa but also occurs in sw Va.

And I thought Huntsman invented crucible steel in the 1790s.
Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Friday, 08/17/01 14:32:16 GMT

Yes 1790: Huntsman tried to keep it secret so the exact date is unknown. However, there is a lot of evidence to suggest the technique had been discovered much earlier and lost and rediscovered several times. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 16:20:46 GMT

basically i need help finding places i can take blacksmithing classes, or where i can find postings for people willing to have an apprentice. i have 3 years expereince in a metal shop, with only a tiny bit of forging. and well, i am very interested in pursueing it further, and learning everything i can! if you could help, i would love it!
malenia  <welderchik at yahoo.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 22:54:03 GMT

where can i take blacksmithing classes?
malenia  <welderchik at yahoo.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 22:55:11 GMT

guru, what would you suggest for an anvil stand? I was thinking about some heavy plate 3/4" or 1" with maybe 4" pipe to another heavy plate, and possibly filling the plate with sand, will this do anything? Also is it ok to store coal outside I have a shed roof at one end of the shop, it would be out of direct weather but not completely?? Thank You
jeff moore  <fourmore2 at aol.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 23:52:47 GMT


It would help, and we could advise better, if we knew approximately where you are located.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 08/17/01 23:56:57 GMT

Anvil Stand: Jeff, I prefer wooden stands. They absorb some noise and shock, and are also portable.
Drawing (c) by Jock Dempsey
I build mine out of 2 x 12" (nominal) lumber with plywood on two sides. At the base of the plywood sides I reinforce the plywood with 2 x 4's on the outside edge. I then bolt two semi-circular blocks to fit between the feet of the anvil. This drawing is one for a "block" anvil and the only thing different is the blocks to keep the anvil in place.

The bottom is open. On rough surfaces the open base will sit flat and not rock as bad as a solid block. I've built four of these and been very happy with them. I need to build another and will show its construction here when I do.

The first one I built got used outdoors for 10 years and the plywood finaly rotted. It could have been repaired but I had glued AND nailed the plywood on about every 2". Was easier to make a new one.

Many folks use blocks of log. Your location is a factor in availability. Others use a 55 gal. drum cut in half and filled with sand and coal ash. This lets you give your anvil a twist to "bed it in" or to slope the face a little. Setting the anvil in sand helps dampen the ring somewhat.

THEN. . . There are those that build fancy stands from heavy angle iron. 2-1/2 x 3/8" or 3 x 3/8". Then they build in a little "slack tub" under the heal of the anvil to catch hot biscuits, add on hold downs. . Whatever they want.

I've got a steel stand under my 300# Kohlswa (it was attached. . ) that I would gladly trade for a piece of 2 x 12 to make a new stand. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 08/18/01 00:19:37 GMT

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