WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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

This is an archive of posts from August 1 - 8, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

How many years of training do you need to become a blacksmith?
   - wes - Thursday, 08/01/02 14:37:27 GMT

Training: Wes, traditionaly it took seven years to become a Journeyman. You were apprenticed at age 13-14 and were expected to be released from your apprenticeship with Journeyman skills and a set of basic tools. The Journey then traveled (journeyed) to other towns and other shops to increase his skills and learn from the world at large. At some point he could apply to be a Master so he could teach and take on apprentices. This may have been ten years or more from when he started his apprenticeship.

Today there is no apprentice system and few schools that have full degreed blacksmithing courses. There are however many craft and blacksmithing schools where you can learn forging and toolmaking techniques. Most modern smiths have set their own educational standards and are largely self educated in many things relating to their occupation.

The modern smith in North America is most often a self employed entrepreneur. This means that besides blacksmithing skills they must be able to manage a business, market their wares and do the accounting and taxes. They are also responsible for their own health and safety. Since the vast majority are "artist blacksmiths" they must also have some design and artistic skills. The modern blacksmith shop is also highly mechanized if the smith expects to make a living. Shops have everything from antique power hammers, machine tools and welding equipment to high tech plasma torches that may be computer controled. All this must often be maintained by the loan smith. When there are employees some of the labor burden is removed from the smith but management then becomes more important. In any case it is a tough way to make a living.

Those that specialize in bladesmithing and tool making may also need education in metalurgy. Several of the top bladesmiths in the US have Masters or Doctorates in metalurgy. Those that make reproductions of armor and such must also be well grounded in history and the technology of the past.

The educational system in Europe is different than in the US. In many countries children start a path toward a trade very early. Although they still take some generalized courses most are focused on their future trade or occupation. Math and science courses for trades people are taylored toward the vocation. So they start much earlier than we do and public education is part of learning a trade.

In the end it depends on the individual and their goals. You can teach yourself basic forging skills in a few weeks or a month. But to really be a modern blacksmith takes much more.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/01/02 15:33:25 GMT

Small Ironworks or Smithy: Lucky, zoning laws often depend on the type of business OR if you are actually in business. As a hobby you can get away with almost anything. In fact many hobbiests that have gone commercial suddenly found they couldn't do the same thing they had been doing in their back yard for years if they sold any of what they produced. . .

Zoning laws vary from locality to locality and how they are enforced varies the greatest. Often enforcement is determined by complaints from neighbors. If you don't disturb the neighbors then you can get away with a lot. Most cities are fairly strictly divided. If you are a manufacturer then you will need to look into a business/light industrial zone. However, if you use a clean gas furnace and no power hammers then you could very likely get away with being in any commercial zone (dependent on the neighbors).

Rural areas that have zoning generaly blanket zone most of the area a "agricultural" including many residential and commercial areas out of lazyness. This often means that almost anything goes as farms include a LOT of things more industrial than not. Barns or equipment sheds are actualy the equivalent of an automotive garage, machine shop, or even a smithy. Animal sheds are often more factory than farm with feed and waste conveyors, fans, lights. . .

Almost anywhere that was a service station in the past could be a smithy. The question of burning coal is dependant on EPA regulations and neighbors. In an out of the way non-residential area nobody is likely to complain. In most Northern cities where coal is still used for heating you would probably not get any complaint. But in most of California they would lynch you if the State environmental people didn't get you first.

I recently heard of an immigrant blacksmith that tried to setup shop in an industrial park in what was formerly a huge Bethlehem steel plant. Fire, Smoke, pounding, Oh nooooo. . . .! He was told to go somewhere else. He drives to Virgina to do his forge work. . .

OSHA is primarily concerned with employees. If you have an employee and/or workman's comp, OSHA applies. If not, then not. The responsibility of determining what is safe or not is often left up to the employer to find out. Test the air, identify the pollutant, determine (from OSHA or others) the allowable concentration and then provide a remidy if needed. OSHA often does not have specifics but expects YOU to determine them from scientific research done by you or others.

So TAG, you are IT! In the one-man shop you are the health and safety man. The matter of ventilation in a one man shop is up to you. Some folks work in smoke clogged shops that are hard to see in the smoke is so thick. Others get upset if there is so much as a vapor in the air. There is some smoke that is relatively benign but smoke from some fluxes and from burning galvanized metal can be deadly. You should know good ventilation when you have it.

Research the local laws at the public library (don't ask), then look around at what goes on where. THEN look for something you can afford to buy/rent and then research that.

What you can get away with: I am not suggesting you break the law, but zoning laws are "interpreted" by the local zoning board or most often the one person in charge of zoning issues. Often the interpretation by these folks is just plain wrong. The codes change and they are often not up to speed on the details. But most often they are just WRONG. However, these folks often have unbelievable power and arguing with them just makes the situation worse. And IF you are unfortunate enough to win the argument (probably in court) then you will have the building inspectors and every other govenment office down on you. . . The best advice is the official US government policy "Don't ask, don't tell".
   - guru - Thursday, 08/01/02 19:37:38 GMT

Guru, thanks, but please do not email it to me,post it somewhere on your website as I can't access my email program! The worst of this is that I have one week to finish the ABASA newsletter and I can't open my wordprocessor!

About training: as I am now in the process of training a striker (hopefully he will become a fully fledged smith as well) I realised that the best training anyone can get is to work in a blacksmith's shop, especially one where a wide variety of work is being done.

The greatest gift you can give yourself as student of whatever is to cultivate an enquiring mind. Get curious!

   Tiaan Burger - Thursday, 08/01/02 19:41:22 GMT


The virus has rewritten your "registery". It can be fixed manualy IF you pay close attention to details, follow directions and have patience.

Goto Trend Micro Virus Encylopedia

And figure out which virus you have. I couldn't find anything under fjki. It may be an alias or you mispelled it. If you find it on the page above there will be manual removal instructions similar to below. DO NOT USE THESE.

You will need to run regedit.exe the windows registry editor. Look under


You will probably find one or more and entries for the virus under RUN. Delete them. Be SURE they are the virus! There are other important things there too.

Then find the "windows\desktop\Startup" folder it MAY have a copy of the virus there.

After all this your machine MAY NOT restart. Plan on booting from an emergency boot disk and reinstalling windows. A reinstall will keep all your old settings but WILL replace missing files. You should NOT need to format the HD.

Then run a virus scan. The address above has a free on-line scan but it takes a long while to load and run.

Good Luck!
   - guru - Thursday, 08/01/02 19:50:40 GMT

Guru, thanks. I will make a print out of your intructions.
   Tiaan Burger - Thursday, 08/01/02 20:00:36 GMT


MAKE A BACKUP OF YOUR REGISTRY FIRST!! That way, IF you make a mistake, you will be able to start over, you won't lose the whole file!
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Thursday, 08/01/02 21:15:12 GMT

Thanks for the info guru! You're willingness to give a helping hand to those of us out here is truly honorable. I'll thithe 10% of my first sale to your wonderful site here.
   Lucky - Thursday, 08/01/02 23:32:04 GMT

I'm not quite sure if this is the proper place for this question, but, I'll ask anyway.
I am looking for a blacksmith to demonstrate at our festival in historic Smithville County Park.
Please let me know how I could get the word out.
Thank You
   Jo Horton - Friday, 08/02/02 16:41:22 GMT

I have recently aquired a Prentiss Vise which is in need of jaw inserts. Are they still in business or are any parts available? Thanks in advance for your help.
Regards, Steve
   Steve - Friday, 08/02/02 17:30:16 GMT

Where is Smithville County Park located?

I'm a historical demonstrator. I'm based in Winston-Salem, NC and am the regular blacksmith for
Historic Bethabara Park.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 08/02/02 18:23:16 GMT

Can you tell what substance I can apply to brass to cause it to "patina"?
   Mike - Friday, 08/02/02 18:43:35 GMT

Brass Patina /// Mike
There are dozens of patina recipes / formulae. More information is required before any of us can make a suggestion.
What kind of brass are you patinating? Which brass alloy is it, there are many.What color and color pattern do you want to make.
what is the object that you wish to patinate, e.g. is it to stand outside or inside. etc., etc.
   slag - Friday, 08/02/02 20:46:14 GMT

Guru, One of my shopmates has an old "slide-rule" style calculator for estimating the weight of steel using size and length. I told him that there has to be a program that can be downloaded from the web that would do the same thing. Am I correct? TC
   Tim Cisneros - Saturday, 08/03/02 02:10:29 GMT

Do any of you have a Smithing Magician III? Is it worth the $50.00?
   chris - Saturday, 08/03/02 02:21:54 GMT

Tim C., I don't know whether it can be downloaded, you'll have to ask the guru about that, but the Mass3j Program here on Anvilfire does it. There's a link in the "What's New" section.

Chris, I've looked at the ad real seriously, myself. If you get any reports, would you pass them along, please?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 08/03/02 03:13:49 GMT

I've made one and at least 2 of my smithing buddies have also. They're a handy tool to have and the best is you make your own shapes to suit your work. $50? I'd make one from scratch. But if you don't want or have the skills to, it's probably worth the $.
   David bernard - Saturday, 08/03/02 04:07:19 GMT

The nature of smithing is that most problems have many solutions....so I'll offer a contradictory opinion.
If you count your time, the $50 Smithing Magician III is really cheap.
I made my own, cause I'm that kind of fool, unable to distinguish between ..."I can do that" and "I should do that"
Mine is bigger and stronger and uses standard scraper blade stock as well as fitting my treadle hammer and hardy hole and I probably should'a bought one instead. The guy who sells them is a good guy and deserves support.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 08/03/02 05:20:59 GMT

Smithing Magician - Great tool!!
I agree with Pete F. I have built one, and if I had counted my time, I have much more then $50 into it, BUT I love bulding my own tools. I am building another one with an ajustable top return arm which will let you use different dies and allows you to adjust the die up or down for different size stock.
All this is one reason to build it your self, BUT if you can use it as is for a job you have then you would be better off just buying one.
Just my thoughts.
   kdbarker - Saturday, 08/03/02 08:28:41 GMT

Metal Calculator

The calculator on the tool kit button is designed for that, Tim. There is another (downloadable) one at:


It has several different alloys of both ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/03/02 08:29:22 GMT

Calculating Weights I have not linked this many places because it is still under construction but it does basic shapes as is. It is also the kind of thing that needs many hours of debugging the interface to make it work like I want. I want the user to be able to input any known in any order and get the correct result. This is some tricky programming but it is the way user interfaces should work.

Mass3j Mass and Volume Calculator
   - guru - Saturday, 08/03/02 16:53:06 GMT

Whoops. . . I forgot to mention, the one place I have it linked "normaly" is on the header of the Online Metals store page.

The Online metals page itself also has one. However, it does not work with Netscape 4.0 and many other browsers because it uses the NON-STANDARD Microsoft Javascript. I also found this to be a problem on a dozen or so other online and downloadable calculators. AND. . many were just plain broke. My Mass3j proves that it does NOT have to be this way.

Mass3j is based on some 10 years of R&D on a similar DOS project which was in turn was based on needs I had as a machine designer. I was calculating weights of thousands of shapes daily in a variety of materials. I had no need to look up the shape formulas or the material densities for steel, CI, 6061 aluminium or 660 bronze. But I was doing the same over and over and over to the point that I was wearing out calculators every couple months. So I wrote a little GWBASIC program to do the job. That was developed into a commercial product with a 1,000 material database.

The long development time and lack of capital killed the project as computers and OS were changing too fast for a lone programmer to keep up. CAD programs were also taking up some of the slack and there were also some very fine engineering programs writen by Algor doing a similar job. However, there is still not another program like that I can find.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/03/02 17:11:16 GMT

Printiss Vise Parts Steve I have several of these wonderful vises and sadly the company has long been out of business. OEM parts are NOT available. McMaster-Carr used to handle "generic" vise parts but I do not know if they still do or if any fit a Prentiss Bull Dog Vise.

It would probably be faster and no more expensive to have a blacksmith or machinist make replacement jawss. In most cases there is no need for the heavy knurling or milled teeth on vise jaws. I prefer almost smooth worn out jaws on my machinist vises and would grind the teeth off new jaws. On blacksmith vises and vises used for hot work smooth jaws are also best so that they do not leave teeth marks in the work.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/03/02 17:24:09 GMT

Demonstrator: From the e-mail addess Jo Horton is in New Jersey. So the best place to look is the New Jersey Blacksmiths Association or the New England Blacksmiths or the New York State Designer Blacksmiths. They are all listed on our ABANA-Chapter.com web site.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/03/02 17:29:39 GMT

I recently heard that "Zep" which is a root killer works well for giving metal a rusted petina. Have you heard of anything that works as well or better?
For putting a finish on rusted pieces what's a good clear coat? I've heard Penetrol works well, but I'm concerned about the longevity of it.
Does our southwest climate determine what products to use?
We're in Tucson, Arizona. I'd appreciate your input.
Thank you,
Big Jon
   Diablo Forge - Saturday, 08/03/02 21:00:54 GMT

Diablo, try plain tap water. If you want to dabble in chemistry, try Hydrogen Peroxide with a little vinegar and spray it on. May take several applications. A bit of table salt sprinkled on while wet will give some interesting pitting. If you are really adventurous, Hydrochloric acid (Muratic acid, used to clean masonry) will do a dandy job. However, it is DANGEROUS to use. Put about 2 quarts of tap water in a plastic bucket and add about 1/4 cup of acid to the water. Read that again: ADD THE ACID TO THE WATER! NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND! Adding water to acid can result in an explosion (Latent heat of solution causes the water to flash to steam and poof..you have a patina complexion). I'd give the plain old tap water a try first. After it dries, maybe just use some clear lacquer.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/03/02 22:34:46 GMT

Diablo, I forgot to mention that if you use any industrial acids, use a full face shield & rubber gloves. If bubbles immediately form on the surface of the metal, the acid concentration may be too strong. Those bubbles are hydrogen, an extremely explosive gas, so do this outdoors. It may also give off some chorine gas, which is not explosive but it is potentially fatal if you breath enough of it. After re-reading this post, I think I would just forget about the acid and stick with tap water or Hydrogen Peroxide.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/03/02 22:40:51 GMT

I did a small guard rail recently using collars. They were just flat stock folded over. I have seen in photos of very nice iron work, collars that are half round stock that are solid(one piece) My question is, how can I get nicer looking collars? How are one piece(welded?) collars installed in an assembly? Thanks a lot.
   - Kevin - Saturday, 08/03/02 23:19:25 GMT

Rust: Big John, there are a number of ways to create fast rust but I would NEVER use a bio-toxin. these are things with very complicated chemistries and no mater what the label says they are for they effect ALL living things and especialy humans.

If you need instant rust you can use Chlorox bleach. As QC noted do it outdoors. Follow the instructions for not using metal containers. Wear eye and face protection as well as rubber gloves. It is unbelievable that they sell this stuff for household use! After rusting a few hours or overnight, rinse well then kill with a vinegar solution (weak acid), rinse and then neutralize THAT with a baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) solution.

For a more controlled rust you can use hydrogen peroxide and a "damp box". The best controlled rust is on clean metal using nothing but the damp atmosphere of a damp box. You let the part rust overnight then carefully clean and then let rust over and over. Eventualy you get a very smooth even brown. This was the OLD method of browning guns. Just controlled rust. Afterward it must be protected with oil to prevent further rust and or pitting.

Clear acrylic (lacquer) is the best clear finish for metal. However, clear finishes do not provide rust protection if the finish is chiped or scratched.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/03/02 23:25:46 GMT

Guru and Big John, I recall seeing a "Browning Solution" made to be applied to rifle barrels on replica antiques. I wonder if that stuff might be safer and easier to deal with. I can't remember who makes it but I saw it in a gun shop next to the "Bluing Solution".
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/03/02 23:40:02 GMT

Kevin, First, see our iForge demo #67 on collars. The method used in figures #1 and #2 are used for a variety of sections not just flat sttap. After applying the collar it may be dressed to final shape in a spring die. This is not commonly done in hand forged work.

Second, don't always believe what you see. On many peices lead was poured around the pieces in a mold that clamped around the bars to collared. This was a common method used in the lated 1800's and early 1900's by production fencing manufacturers. The style was copied in cast iron and today is common in aluminium and cast ductile iron components. It produces results that ARE NOT the same as forged wrought iron work.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/03/02 23:40:59 GMT

Well I had the opportunity to play with a 100# trip hammer, and now I am in the market for a power hammer:-)!!! And since I had a little trouble getting a feel for the clutch on the hammer, and since I have read the ads for the Bull air hammer and read an interview with Tom and I have been wanting a Bull since they first hit the market, and I would like to be able to some delicate tool work with the hammer. I am leaning toward one of the new style air hammers. So I have a few questions here:

1.) Should I really give mechanical and some of the high cyclic rate air hammers more of a chance? I am going to be doing some drawing of material, but I am also going to be doing a lot of fullering (making spear sockets, ax heads, and polearms... :-) I am a little leary of an old little giant, because I am worried I will spend more time tuning up the hammer so that I have the control I want, Or I will spend too much time mashing potatoes!:-) instead of producing quality product... I realize I can get more bang for the buck, but I don't care to work on my tools that much, I would rather work with them, not on them.

2.) Have you played with a Big Blu air hammer? have you played with a Bull? How do they compare in control and ease of use and adjustablity.

My first trip on a power hammer I made a socketed spear point in 15 or 20 minutes on the hammer then another 10 at the anvil and swageblock, but then it took me an hour with a grinder to make it look decent, but that still cut an hour off of the time it might have taken me without the power hammer. So I am looking to speed the process up, but I need better control... So what do you think? Thanks
   Shane Stegmeier - Sunday, 08/04/02 03:22:43 GMT

Power Hammer Control: Shane, On all hammers control comes with practice and familiarity with the hammer. But mostly practice and experiance. Yes LG's are notoriously bad mannered but if in good condition and properly adjusted they are a good hammer. But they are the bottom of the line in mechanical hammers. Bradley's and Fairbanks were much superior machines. The belt clutches, while looking primitive are superior to the cone clutch the LG uses. Cone clutches are designed for engage/disengage, not feathering. The length of the belt in a slack belt clutch is all friction material and can disapate mush more heat. LG clutches require being wet with oil in order to feather (operate at low speed), something many owners do not understand. Bradley and Faibanks hammers came with brakes, something you have to add on to an LG if you want one. Bradley and Fairbanks have stroke adjustments as well as height. LG's do not have a stroke adjustment.

Air hammers are of two types, standard and self contained. Standard air hammers have changed little in operation since James Nasmyth invented them in the 1840's. They can hit single blows or multiple at different rates. The Bull and Big Blu old Nile-Bement-Ponds and the big "A" frame hammers are this type hammer. The red Chambersburg on our Power hammer Page is this type of hammer.

Self contained or Electro-Pneumatic hammers have the ram plumbed directly to the compressor piston through the control valve so they run at the same steady beat of the internal compressor. On these you control the force of the blow by how far the ram travels which is controled by the tredle. A few had a clamping feature but most do not today. The Striker hammers, Kuhn, Beche' and Nazel are this type of hammer.

Both types of hammer will do excellent work. They have slightly different characteristics and one or the other is better for some types of work but both will do the same work. The biggest difference in hammers is size. For drawing a fast hammer is better. Small hammers are faster than large hammers and mechanical hammers tend to be faster than air hammers. But a small hammer will not draw out over sized work efficiently. So the size must be balanced to the work.

For blocking out, upsetting and controled forging a large slow hammer is better than a small fast one. For fullering a small tang on a heavy piece control and power are more important than speed. For these operations hammers up to 1,000 pounds are "small hammers" and 350-500 pounds were very common. The old Bements were the best of the single frame air hammers followed by Chambersburg and others. Although thses hammers often have the control necessary to forge 1/4" stock they are an inefficient use of power for such small work. It is also easy to lose control of such power and make a mess of small work.

The other difference between mechanical and air hammers is that the direct drive and return of inertia of the mechanical hammer is much more energy efficeint than the air hammers. You can get more power for a given horsepower in a mechanical then in an air hammer. But mechanical hammers are no longer manufactured and parts are not commonly available.

If you want an absolute answer to what you NEED then you should visit more shops and try more hammers. Otherwise, take a shot and learn how to run whatever you get. If you decide you want something different then trade up or out.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/04/02 04:06:39 GMT

Power Hammer Results: Besides hammer control the die shape and condition make a big difference in the quality of work produced on a power hammer. The wrong dies, dies with sharp corners or too agressive a drawing side can really tear up and produce rough work. Combination flat and drawing dies are common on small hammers but many hammers (even small ones) came with flat dies and were used for all types of work.

Flat dies used for drawing have generously radiused edges that fall away from the flat in a eliptical section rather than a radius. This produces a blending taper that alows the drawing of smooth tapers on flat dies. Flat dies with square corners are expected to be used with some type of tooling either hand held or clamped on.

Flat dies often wear with sight dip in the middle creating a "sweet spot" that is better for hollow and round forging than plain flat dies.

Some artist blackmsiths use dies that are heavily rounded in all directions. These are excellent for drawing and forming sculptural shapes as well as general purpose. Others invest heavily in many tyes of dies for farious jobs.

The die type can be an important factor in how efficient your forging operation is.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/04/02 04:22:39 GMT

QC-- you perhaps saw Birchwood Casey's plum brown.
   miles undercut - Sunday, 08/04/02 04:25:47 GMT

Bleach /// neutralising
A bleach in water solution can be neutralised by first flushing the article, that has bleach on it, with lots of water (from a hose). But the chlorine solution is "sticky", some bleach residue stubbornly stays put. The next step that can used is flushing the object's surface with a water solution of photographers hypo. (the chemical name of that stuff is sodium thio sulfate). You might be able to get it a photographer's supply shop. If that is not possible, or they only will sell a half gallon supply or greater (= a lifetime's supply for our purposes)there is another source. An aquarium supply store. These shops sell a product in a plastic plastic bottle that neutralises the chlorine in tap water so that it can be used in fish tanks. Fish object to swimming in chlorinated water. The active ingredient, of this product is guess what? You guessed it, a concentrated solution of water and sodium thio sulfate. Just a few drops of the solution in a gallon of water is strong enough to neutralise all the chlorine on the rusted object. (about 7 or 8 drops) There is a super sophisticated method that will indicate when all the chlorine is neutralised. Our nose. Flush the object a little more, after no chlorine odour can be detected, just to be on the safe side. Then thoroughly flush the rusted/patinated object with lots of water to get the hypo-water solution off, let dry and then coat it with your favourite coating.
Happy patinating,
Regards to all the gang,
   slag - Sunday, 08/04/02 08:07:40 GMT

Blueing//Browning//Plum Brown//Slow Rust -
Solutions for all the above can be found through "Brownell's". They are Gunsmithing supply company. You can order online at www.brownells.com
I have been ordering from the company for over 12 years. (10 year Gunsmith turned Blacksmith). Products are all #1. Hope this helps.
   kdbarker - Sunday, 08/04/02 13:41:08 GMT

Miles, right you are!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/04/02 18:51:33 GMT

Saw a Champion Blower in good working condition at a BIG Flea Market in Canton, TX today. They wanted $150 for it. Is that a fair price?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/04/02 19:11:32 GMT

QC, that is a "normal" price. Be sure good working condition means a quiet gear train. If these things were manufactured today by an American manufacturer they would have to sell for $1,500 or more. . . And since they are no longer made. . that too is something to consider.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/04/02 19:32:13 GMT

Why would a blower made today by an American manufacturer cost $1,500 or more? Basically we're talking about a fan, a couple of gears, and a handle. Throw in a cast case and you've got it. I would think that it could be done relatively cheaply in fact. (I'm surprised at the ~$500 cost that I'm seeing in some catalogs)

   Aaron Silver - Sunday, 08/04/02 20:58:37 GMT

What advice can you give me for setting up a coal fired forge big enough to make blades? i would like detailed schematics if possible. (i can print them out and laminate them)I am in a sword fighting troop and would like to keep this like thay had in medievil times.
   Russ - Sunday, 08/04/02 23:18:47 GMT

Aaron, First these were a relatively low production item and would be a very low production item today. The lower the production the higher the cost. Second "a few gears" are a double reduction system with a worm gear set and ball bearings. If you price out a commercial (production) gear box you will find these are an $800 to $1000 item. If you go to a gear manufacturer to have a complete Champion gear set made they would cost you $500 to $800 in quantities less than 1,000 and well over $1500 for one set alone (no shafts included). Then there are machined castings (gear box and fan housing), a forged crank handle and stand.

To reproduce a Champion blower as a one-off would cost over $20,000 not including pattern costs which would double that. Modern buyers would not put up with the old blower designs that didn't have seals and constantly dripped oil. So add seals. . . (and the design cost).

If you start from scratch you would also have the design and detailing cost (easily $20 - $30,000) and the $20,000 in pattern costs. You will need to recoup your $50,000 in the first couple years. So if you sell 100 units a year world wide (good luck) you will have $250 invested per unit before ordering the first part. . . If you were lucky and the entire blacksmithing commumity just HAD to have your blower you might sell 500/year reducing the invested cost to $50 per unit and you could reduce the price further due to ordering parts in quantities of 1,000 (but no much). IF you had a market for over a thousand a year someone in a low labor cost country would buy ONE of your blowers, steal the design (your invested design costs) and produce lower cost copies. . . .

I've built special machinery for a living and people are always amazed when they find that a small custom machine head or a 10" lead glass portal costs as much as a new Mercedes. But try pricing the engine alone for that Mercedes (or any auto) as replacement parts. The total will easily be greater than the entire auto.

The old used equipment many of us rely on is a bargain. You cannot buy a new cast iron forge or anvils made like the old Hay-Buddens. Little Giant went out of business when their 50 pound mechanical hammer that had been in production for decades had to sell for close to $10,000. Chambersburg went out of business because a 100# hammer had to sell for over $100,000! Much of this equipment is selling used for scrap iron prices and has been for decades.

   - guru - Monday, 08/05/02 00:00:40 GMT

Tim C., Width x thickness x 3.396 equals weight per running foot on flats and squares. There is a similar formula for rounds, but I can't lay my hands on it at present. I'll take a look.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 08/05/02 00:08:16 GMT

Guru, The last I heard before Chambersburg went out of business a 100# hammer cost in the neighborhood $165,000 to $185,000. The 3B we’re working on for a local company spent $68,000 just to have a 3CH rebuilt by Chambersburg before they closed.
   Bruce Wallace - Monday, 08/05/02 00:33:23 GMT

Medieval Forge: Russ, You need to decide if you want to make product that is affordable, put on a romantic show of doing things the old way. . OR be absolutely historicaly accurate.

First if you want to be authentic, they burned charcoal not coal in most of the world (and not charcoal briquetts). To obtain charcoal you may have to make it yourself (see our charcoal FAQ).

To continue being authentic everything must be hand powered. That means a bellows for the forge and hand crank or foot treadle grinders. These in turn were powered by laborers (mostly children) that were paid very little. So you will need to come up with that pennies per hour labor.

There was not much to a forge and they are not much different today. However to be an authentic medieval forge it would need to different from anyone elses and built from memory, not a dimensioned plan. . . And it will need to be built to suit your purpose, location and rank in life. Unless you are armourer to the King or a large manufacturer in a major city your forge would be a primitive mud and wattle afair. A clay lined box to hold the fire and MAYBE a chimney to take away the smoke. Most likely it was an open forge and smoke just sifted out of the thatch roof and open windows. If you have a prosperous permanent location the forge might be built of stone or brick but the smoke may have still filtered out the roof.

And to continue to be authentic you will need to be sure NOT to use any modern tools such a machine cut files made of modern tool steel that is infinitely better than what was available even 200 years ago. Twist drills made of high speed steel are OUT and so are modern abrasives (all manufactured grinding wheels). All abrasives will need to be natural stone or mineral abrasives. Soft sandstone grinding wheels and hand ground "rotten stone" (Tripoli) for polishing. But no polishing with high speed buffs. Hand scraping was more common than grinding or filing (see our iForge demo on scrapers).

Your anvil will need to be a small squarish thing of maybe 75-100 pounds unless you are that King's armourer and then it would still be a small squarish thing of maybe 150-250 pounds. In either case the anvil will have a relatively thin steel face. The rest of your smithing tools would all be hand made (by YOU) unless you inherited your master's tools. These would be as good as any today except that soft wrought iron would comprise the bulk of the tools and only hammer faces and cutting tool would be made of steel. The steel would be very expensive and not very good it would either be localy made "blister" steel or imported "Damascus" or wootz. It would be red short and difficult to work. For critical work you would need to refine it by repeatedly folding and welding it, an expensive process. Files and saws would be available from specialists but made from the same marginal quality steel. Your product would be meade from the same steel. Good tools were MUCH more expensive then in terms of man hours than they are today.

OBTW - long blades are not heated in their entirety to forge them. You do not need a long forge for forging. However, you DO need to heat the entire blade to harden it. This is done in a large spread out fire in the forge where there is normaly a small fire. The blade is often moved within the fire in order to heat it evenly.

There have been word discriptions of oriental forges here the past few weeks and we have photos of the same style in our NEWS coverage of the recent ABANA conference. Charcoal forges can range from an open platform to a deep enclosure. But in either case the fire must be deeper than coal, roughly 8 to 12".

As in many cases the reality is not the same as the romance. But the forge is the easiest part to make authentic and will perform very much like a modern forge. The rest is more difficult.
   - guru - Monday, 08/05/02 01:53:29 GMT

Thanks for the reply on collars. Another question, how would a hole be drifted at an angle in a bar of steel. I could see how it might be drilled and drifted for an angled tenon, but it's hard to see punching at an angle. Thanks
   - kevin - Monday, 08/05/02 03:51:08 GMT

Angled Holes and Tennons: Kevin, why an angled hole? On rails and such the hole is normaly perpendicular to the bar and the tennon is forged on an angle. I was watching a friend do exactly that on some pickets Friday. The tricky part was these tennons were on pickets set diagonaly (on the diamond) rather than square to the rail. The tennons were forged as any others except at an angle. To upset and clean up the shoulder a large block of steel with a drilled hole was used setting on the floor. The tennon was put into the hole and the picket driven at its angle to make the upset and the upset was cleaned up in the block and on the anvil.

Ocassionaly the problem, especialy on deep holes is making the hole straight. If the alignement of the punch on the bottom or second side does not conincide with the top or first then the result is a crooked hole. If you WANTED to make a crooked hole you could use this method and then drift to clean up.
   - guru - Monday, 08/05/02 06:24:49 GMT

Kevin, I believe through-punching at an angle is shown in Otto Schmirler's book, "Werk & Werkzeug" (Methods and Tools of the Artsmith). It is something I haven't tried yet, but it is used on grilles where you are threading the bars at an odd angle instead of a right angle. This gives lozenge shaped negative spaces instead of squares or rectangles. It appears as though Schmirler is punching a straight hole and then placing the hole over a steel block (bolster), the latter having an angled hole. When drifted hot, the workpiece hole takes the angle of the bolster. I would like to hear from those who have done this.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 08/05/02 14:04:48 GMT

More Angled Holes: I think every forged anvil I have had has had a crooked hardy hole. I suspect this is the result of back punching on a thick as well as angled piece (such as an anvil heal). I have seen the same in hammers and flatters that had parallel (or nearly so) surfaces. But we are talking a mazimum of about 5 degrees here.

Angled punching could be achieved with a pointed punch driven through at an angle The work would need to be kept from moving in the direction of the angle by a bucking block and the resulting hole would be swelled or have a "frog eye" at the hole.

However, both this method and drifting a straight hole to an angle is going to raise (upset) the extra metal on the obtuse side of the hole (acute side between part or drift). This would need to be forged flat and then drifted again to produce a clean hole.

Punching with an offset would require following through at an angle with the punch to push out the mangled biscuit. But this would produce less raised metal when drifting at an angle.

Otto Schmirler's book on ironwork for lawn and garden is full of work with this angled motif. Most common were flat bars piercing flat bars at an angle in scrolled assemblies. These often peirced each other in one of those "How DO you DO that?" methods that is there to mess with the minds of other blacksmiths more than the general public (or customer) who thinks it is interesting but have no idea of the difficulty factor.
   - guru - Monday, 08/05/02 15:22:14 GMT


I was recently on your web site which was referred from 4crests.com. I have a weird question. I think you may be able to help me. I want to get a shield, but with my family crest on it. This may be a challenge, but is this possible? Do you yourself or do you know someone who may be able to help me? My last name is McCann and our family crest features a boar. (I have pictures of course) Please let me know as I am anxious to find out. Please contact me via e-mail, that way I am sure to get the answer.

Warren McCann
   Warren McCann - Monday, 08/05/02 15:51:36 GMT

"How DO you Do that"

Can you explain how the work in Schmirler's book the you were referring to with the above statment was done?
   Patrick - Monday, 08/05/02 16:11:38 GMT

I have obtained a few “steel” rods from the containment building of a derelict nuclear power station. They are from tendons that run inside the outer concrete walls. These tendons are in 7” bundles consisting of ¼”rod, in a working plant they are tensioned every few years to insure proper strain.
I fashioned a nail set from a piece, polished it, put it in a conventional electric oven and cooked it @ 550 degrees for about 20 minutes. I don’t know how accurate the oven was but I expected a straw color on the steel and it came out a very light blue instead. I quenched the piece in hot water. It had a sharper point than you would normally use to set nails, but after several nails were set the point had mushroomed slightly.
Do you have a clue what type of steel I am dealing with here?
   Wayne - Monday, 08/05/02 16:31:03 GMT

Pre-Stressed Concrete Wire: is what you are dealing with Wayne. I'm not sure what it is. This is one of those steels that will have an ASTM performance spec (ASTM A648 or 416, Grades 250 and 270) but little on actual material. Various references say it is "high carbon" steel" wire or "high carbon spring steel" wire.

I suspect it is similar to "music wire" which is 1095 carbon steel.
   - guru - Monday, 08/05/02 18:49:37 GMT

Shield with Arms: Warren, mail on the way.
   - guru - Monday, 08/05/02 19:19:54 GMT

Explain HOW???? Patrick, that is what Frank and I were doing. :)

The double pierced scroll is threaded together before the scrolls are made on the ends. The two pieces are each bent into a curving "L" with the pierced parts at the end of the curve. Then the straight ends are threaded through the pierced holes simultaneously. Afterward the ends are forged and scrolled and all the bends adjusted. It looks almost impossible when finished. Its not impossible but it IS a pain to handle the two pieces together to do the finish work.

Another similar item is an animal or dragon head on the end of a piece that curves around and pierces itself. The threading through the hole is done before forging the end of the bar. Then the bar is upset and the "neck" drawn down.
The combination of the tapering neck with a head on the end that is obviously too big to fit through the pierced hole makes it look impossible. This is especialy true if the creature has horns, antlers or other extensions that make it look larger than its actual mass.

Again its not impossible, just difficult. And it keeps novices on their toes wondering "How DO you DO that?"
   - guru - Monday, 08/05/02 19:48:26 GMT

Thanks for the info on rusting- very useful!
I have another question- What type of gun bluing works best?
How should I neutralize it? I've been using water but it has not been consistently turning out good.
Big Jon
   Diablo Forge - Monday, 08/05/02 20:23:57 GMT


Are you assuming it is already hard? Your description is of heating to a draw temperature and quenching. Were you expecting this to harden it? You need to quench from a dull red first to harden it, then draw.
   - grant - Monday, 08/05/02 23:13:38 GMT

Please advise as to charts showing comparative data between Brinel, Rockwell and Vickers Hardness scales
   DAVID SLATER - Monday, 08/05/02 23:44:46 GMT

David, check this out: www.cknife.com/compare.htm
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/06/02 00:59:46 GMT

David, for some reason, that will take you to the page on the MSN search engine that shows the link to the page on comparative hardness. Just cut and paste the URL, then click on the web page shown on the results page...wierd but then it is MSN...the Mostly Strange Network...
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/06/02 01:03:40 GMT

Thanks for the replies on the angled holes. Are multiple scrolls forge welded(or forged weld-ed) before forming the scroll ends, or after? I've been looking at a book with a lot of french iron work in it, titled Wrought Iron, that has some pretty impressive work. Thanks
   - kevin - Tuesday, 08/06/02 01:14:05 GMT

Kevin, I have a German book, "Wrought Iron" by Kuhn, but no French one. I can't see your pictures, but I suppose I would make the scroll ends (snubs, discs, fishtails?) first.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/06/02 01:35:10 GMT

Frank T., Thanks for the formula. I also found the mass and volume calculator in the library section of Anvilfire. But I don't always have my computer with me. I do however always have a calculator and pencil! I've found that a piece of paper and a pencil are much more reliable than my computer anyway! TC
   Tim Cisneros - Tuesday, 08/06/02 02:09:04 GMT

hey guru I have access to some 30 pound bage of congomerated flux that is used for arc welding or something would it work for forge welding?
   Jerry Renken - Tuesday, 08/06/02 12:07:52 GMT


Probably. Most flux is just a mixture of borax. Might want to read the ingredients list to be sure about toxins.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 08/06/02 12:58:21 GMT

Howdy, does anybody know who to contact about buying a 'saltfork craftsman' swedgeblock, those little gems with the spoons & ladle patterns?
Also, I need to build a pyramid roller that could handle up to 3/4" x 3" stock. does anyone sell plans, etc for this project? thanks, mike
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 08/06/02 16:26:11 GMT

History of technology - When did the cicular saw-blade become "standard" in lumbermills? (This actually has a lot to do with blacksmithing.)In my litterature there´s waterpowered straight blades into the 19:th century with circular blades appearing towards the end of the century. Considering the problems of metallurgy, balance, bearings etc, could they have been made earlier?
   Olle Andersson - Tuesday, 08/06/02 18:22:11 GMT

I have an 1840 William Foster Anvil that looks like it was made by Stacking steel plate and forge welding them together. It has some cracks but nothing realy bad.I had refaced the anvil and did some repair and it needed repair bad the anvil was used and abused. The face was rounded and was peeling up off the anvil.I Arc Welded a new face on it with a 11018-M H4R rod. I then had it machined off flat and level. I need to know if it is safe to try and Heat treat it? And how would i go aboutd heat treating the anvil so it will not crack the anvil and face?
   Adam Caston - Tuesday, 08/06/02 19:10:41 GMT

There are several things you must consider when trying to heat treat the anvil. First, you must know what kind of steel was welded on. Second, how deep does the weld pentrate? Was the anvil ground with a very deep V or was the welding just done along the edges? If the welding was jsut done along the edges, it won't matter if you heat treat the face or not, it will crack off. (I tried this once myself). If you are confident that the weld is very deep (say at least 1 inch per side) then you must heat the face of the anvil up to the critical temperature for the steel used for the face and quench it. If it is water/oil hardening grade you will probably needd at least 2 55 gallon drums full of quenchant and a way to move the anvil up and down in the barrells. If you don't have a way to heat just the face, an idustrial furnace could heat he whole anvil, but you would need a very large quench tank (swimming pool size is good)Based on my experience, if I had the anvil before you refaced it, I would have hardfaced the anvil using an air or work hardening rod. This saves you the hasle of having to deal with red hot 100+ lb chunks of steel. It also gives you a good bond across the entire face of the anvil, not just the edges. There is a website where Erinie Limkuler (spelling not correct) makes an entire anvil from plate and hardfaces it. If you provide more info about steel type, weld size and anvil size, perhaps we can give you more specific info.
   Patrick - Tuesday, 08/06/02 20:45:41 GMT

Conglomerated Flux: Jerry you could just TRY it and see. This is probably how most fluxes were discovered. OTH why bother? Even fancy fluxes like EZ weld and Swans are pretty cheap when you consider how much you actually use and borax, the main staple, is about the same price as potting soil - cheap as dirt :). Like PawPaw says why take a chance on toxic indgredients?
   adam - Tuesday, 08/06/02 21:17:28 GMT

Diablo Forge, I think I would follow the manufacturers directions on that bottle of bluing or browning or what ever you choose. Also, there is a section in Machinery Handbook that deals with coloring of metals. Most of these appear to be rather questionable for a non-industrial environment. Your Library may have a copy.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/06/02 23:42:34 GMT

Mike-hr, email me and I'll put you in contact with our man who sends them out. I tried your name but got no response.
   - Mills - Wednesday, 08/07/02 04:21:27 GMT

Borax, as mined, has tiny traces of arsenic according to my bro-in-law, a geophysicist. Doesn't stop me from using borax, though.
mike-hr, I'm not sure about Saltfork, but Roger Lorance of Ohio(?) makes a good swage block of that style, and Laurel Machine and Foundry of Laurel, Mississippi, makes a passable one. I tried to find contact numbers recently from abana.org's Supplier list, but the list is presently having downtime.
Olle, I can't lay my hands on info about circular saws right now. Years ago though, I learned that there were two "attendants" to the saws, the Saw Doctor and the Saw Dentist. The saw doctor apparently drove around in a buggy or cart with his tools, soapstone, anvil, and hammer. He put the proper "dish" in the blade when it was no longer running true. The old blades had a slight dish shape which would straighten when running at speed.
The saw dentist sharpened the teeth with a mill file, from whence we get the term "mill file".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/07/02 04:40:48 GMT

Laurel machine & foundry's goodies may be drooled over at http://www.lmfco.com/index2.html whilst (love them them Brit words, love 'em!) Salt Fork can be found on the Abana chapter link listed on this very site! If that anvil were mine I'd try pounding on it for the next 15 or 20 years and if utterly intolerable dings appeared as a result of beating red or yellow-hot iron on it with a hammer, then I'd consider heat-treating it.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 08/07/02 05:08:08 GMT

Circular Saws.
I don't know where I read it, and don't have any documentation at hand to back it up but I was under the impression that the circular sawblade was invented in the early to mid 1800's by a Shaker sister.
   - JimG - Wednesday, 08/07/02 08:18:44 GMT

Circular Saw. Getting back to it, I found an rpm table in an old encyclopedic book titled "The Universal Assistant and Complete Mechanic" by R. Moore. No copyright date, but looks to be early 1900s. The smallest diameter in the table is 36", which is run at 1000 rpm. The largest diameter listed is 76", running at 475 rpm.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/07/02 14:38:07 GMT

I'm looking for a cost-effective (low-cost) material with mechanical properties similar to SAE 52100! Any suggestion is greatly appreciated!
   Sandor - Wednesday, 08/07/02 14:49:40 GMT

Circular saw ,I have a book that says circular saw blades were developed for the British Admiralty in the 1770s and that in Joseph Smiths 1816 Key the largest blade listed is 36" diameter and to mill larger logs mills were made with blades one above the other no speeds listed though
   Aaron - Wednesday, 08/07/02 15:25:22 GMT

Virus HOAXES: Please, Please look up any warning you may get from ANYONE warning of a virus on one of the HOAX lists. I just recieved one from several people that seemed to have the same origin. . . "PPS Life is Beautiful"

   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 15:39:23 GMT

Wow. . I must have a cache refresh problem. . . I missed two days worth of messages!!!
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 15:40:51 GMT

SAE 52100 Sandor, 52100 is a steel used to make ball and roller bearings. There is no equivalent. It is made to be the best under heat, load, wear and friction.

If you are making anything other than bearings than there are many options. But you didn't say what for.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 15:52:18 GMT

Brinell, Rockwell We have a chart on our FAQ's page. If you need other standards then try MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK or a reference on heat treating.

If someone has or finds a Vickers list I'll add a column to our chart.

QC your link has some kind of typo. Your browser automaticaly did a search when you did not ask it to. Bill Gates loves to have things unexpected happen on your PC. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 16:00:06 GMT

Conglomerated Flux: Jerry, "Arc welding or something. . . ?" Probably not. I don't know what you have but it is probably flux for smelting metal from ore. If so it could be any combination of minerals.

Early iron smelters used limestone and the source of limestone, beds of sea shells. Modern foundries use similar substances plus things like flourite or flourspar as well as the borax mentioned. But there are also fluxes for smelting many other metals that may each have different things in them.

READ the LABEL! Ask Manufacturer! Since it is in the bag there must be a label giving the manufacturers name and a item number. Contact the manufacturer. You don't know what you have and it may be dangerous to use as blacksmithing flux. Ask for a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). If you have the material they are required to provide one.

You may have to look them up in the Thomas Register or someplace similar since many companies of this sort are not on the Internet.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 16:20:19 GMT

Multiple Scrolls Kevin, As Frank said we can't see what you are remembering. There are many type of "multiple scrolls".

If the scrolls or decorative parts (could be flowers or animal heads) are in stock that is split then there is no weld (although you CAN do this with a weld). The stock is split and the parts formed.

When there are many branching scrolls they are normally made as seperate pieces and scarfed on the ends then welded. See our iForge demo #43 Peter Ross Demo. This is not quite what you are talking about but it shows how this type work was done. This is a simple double ended scroll with a leaf but it is made of three pieces. Back when wrought iron was THE material forge welding of this type was much more common.

Today there is a tendancy to go to extreams to make things out of one piece, and it IS a good challange. But the Peter Ross demo shows that this was not always the way.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 16:37:32 GMT

Circular saw; first mention I have seen was in the low countries in the 1500's; didn't catch on since there was metalurgy/tech problems. A shaker women did get a patent on a circular saw blade---but I've seen a bunch of sawblades with recent patents as well. (Why did Watt use a planetary gear system for his steam engine---some one had patented the crank---even though there are illuminations of the crank being in use 800 years earlier...)


   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 08/07/02 17:03:25 GMT

I am looking for parts to service/repair my Prentiss Bulldog #95 swivel vise. I need the lock down bolts 3/4" square head bolts x approx 2"+ long and the lock down nuts which have a t-style slide handle through them.. Can you help me in finding replacement parts, suppliers or info on this vise? Thank you.
   Sterling - Wednesday, 08/07/02 17:42:37 GMT


The 3/4" Square Head bolts shouldn't be much of a problem, most good hardware stores carry them. (Not DIY warehouses) The T-handle slide nuts could be manufactured form threaded couplings fairly easily.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 08/07/02 18:09:05 GMT

Prentiss Bulldog This is the second question on the same brand this week. As far as I know Prentiss is long out of business. I have two of their large chipping vises and there are none better. As far as I know they were bought out or went out of business long ago.

A large 1899 machinery catalog lists a variety of Prentiss vises. However a 1928 catalog from the same firm carried Reed brand vises. Somewhere I THINK I have seen a Reed & Prentiss Vise. . So the company may have been bought out. The 1899 catalog had a half dozen makers and the 1928 only two.

Later catalogs (1955) from other people only list Columbian and Athol. Both are out of the vise business as far as I know. Imports are supplying most of the market.

The square head bolts in the T-slot are a special and replacements would have to be vise parts or special made.

The sliding bar nuts are special vise parts. Most of the time they do not clamp well enough and end up with pipe wrench marks all over them OR they get replaced with plain heavy hex nuts.

Both these parts are VERY similar if not the same as much later vise parts. McMaster-Carr has a vise parts department that MAY be able to help you. They list Warren/Columbian parts and numbers on a PDF drawing. However, they ARE NOT size specific numbers. You have to call and talk to someone in their vise parts department. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 20:00:28 GMT

Patents: Lots of odd things have been done to get around patents and patent departments in both the US and Britian have been grossly guilty of issuing patents on "prior art" and public domain inventions.

The lousy toggle design on all the early Little Giants (the ones with the T end that fits in a socket cast in the ram) was a method of getting around the Dupont (Fairbanks) patent. So were the long arms and toggle ends. All this to get around the best mechanical arrangement. Where LG succeded was in marketing their machines. There are at least 10,000 LG's for evey other brand hammer sold. . .

Patents are a lot like copyrights and any other contract. They are only worth as much as you can afford spending on lawyers to defend and enforce them. Or in the case of a blatent prior art patent, to show the patent should not have been issued in court. . .

In US patent law if you stop persuing an invention or fail to market it within 2 years or so you lose the rights to the patent. So the old modern myth that someone invented a miracle fuel or engine that gets phenomenal fuel mileage and the "oil companies" bought the patent to keep it out of the public domain are just plain hoaxes. I heard the one about a pill that turns water into gasoline when I was 8 years old and I didn't believe it THEN. . . THAT patent would have run out 30 years ago. The other thing that happens is that patents are PUBLIC documents. Once you patent something it is public knowledge. You cannot hide it.

If you have a great invention the best thing to do is make it and market it before someone else and apply for a patent in the mean time. If the product is a failure then you can drop the patent process and save a LOT of money. If you wait for the patent process (years) someone else may start selling a similar product and even if you succeed in getting the patent you may fail financialy. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 20:29:25 GMT

Hey all, Anyone know how I can grind aluminum bar stock without the grinding wheel clogging up in 60 seconds? I read somewhere that the conan the barbarian type hollywood movie swords are made of aluminum and wanted to give it a try. Any alternatives to grinding? Much appreciated.

   fishguy - Wednesday, 08/07/02 20:40:04 GMT

A File or milling machine: Belt sanders work better than wheels but also clog if you do not have the right grit and bond. Flap wheels are also a good alternative.

Every grinding wheel and belt is designed for a specific material and will clog or overheat if the wrong ones are used. But some materials are not highly workable with abrasives. Hard aluminium alloys are better than soft.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/07/02 21:08:04 GMT

I've been looking at a book translated from German(I thought it was French) called Wrought Iron, by Hover. It has a lot of examples of work from the 18 and 19 centuries. A lot of the scroll work, etc. is very complex and detailed. It's hard to see how such pieces were accomplished. They probably had many skilled people working on a given piece, and were working with wrought iron, making it easier.
   - Kevin - Wednesday, 08/07/02 21:24:51 GMT

Hi, can you tell me what a good finish would be for things that are forged for use inside? I hammer out small thing, but never know what to put on them.
   Jim Glines - Wednesday, 08/07/02 21:26:13 GMT

Tim Cisneros and All, Here are the weight formulas for finding weight per running foot ("foot run" in England). Flat bar, width x thickness x 3.396; square bar, the thickness (across flats) squared x 3.396; round bar, the diameter squared x 2.664; hexagon bar. one thickness (across flats) x 2.94. Source: Machinery's Data Sheet No. 30, The Machinery Publishing Co., Ltd., 1961, England.
Kevin, You are correct in that they had many skilled workers (journeymen) working on the decorative ironwork of the 18th and 19th centuries. Wrought iron is not necessarily easier, if you are accustomed to working mild steel, and the converse is true. Also, the time constraints were different in the early days. If some church ironwork took 8 or 9 years to build, it simply took 8 or 9 years.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/07/02 22:00:22 GMT

On the hexagon bar in my last post, the thickness should be squared. Sorry.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/07/02 22:03:20 GMT


Losing a patent if you don't market it within two years doesn't sound right to me -- I'm fairly sure at least that this it isn't the general rule. I do know, however, that if you don't file a patent application within one year after you start marketing the invention you lose the right to do so.
   Mike B - Thursday, 08/08/02 00:37:11 GMT

Hello Guru, I would like to know some information about making tools and hardening them. Specifically about hot and cold chisels and hardy cut-off tools. What is the differance between a hot and cold chisels and hardy tools ?, is it the cold chisel is hardened and the hot chisel isn't ?I have had a look in the I-Forge plans and don't see anything specific to that.
I have found some information about hardening and in the description/method it says to dip the edge to be hardened in the appropriate liquid (oil/water/quench)and then draw out the colour -straw, blue ??? How is drawing out the colour accomplished ? Is it with the steel still immersed in the fluid. I suupose I would like to know if there is a link you could share with me about hardening, annealing, tempering etc. etc.

I am a regular visitor to these pages, and appreciate the effort by the Guru and all involved,
Thank you.
   Jimme - Thursday, 08/08/02 03:27:45 GMT

Mike, That's the law. And its worse now. About 20 years ago the Patent Office became a "fee funded government office". That meant Congress said "support yourself!". The result is that fees went up and one is called a "maintenance fee". You are charged an annual fee ranging from several thousand dollars UP (depending on the number of pages in your patent) to keep it active. In the past a patent was good for 14 years. Now it can expire in a year if you don't pay the maintenance fee. The patent is still permanently on file but it is no longer valid. Its a kind of blackmail. Pay or lose.

The law says "persue with diligence". This can include development (working out the bugs or productionizing) OR marketing. Big corporations have no problem claming they are working on an invention (even if they are not) but a small inventor may not.

To stretch out the process you put "Patent applied for" on the product. Then you have a year to apply. After that the Patent Office helps drag things out for you. But every action requires a response (usualy from your patent attorney) and this costs money.

I have one shared patent and my Dad has dozens. Been there, done that. . . . won't do it again.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/08/02 03:54:36 GMT

Time to do Ironwork: The Washington National Cathedral still is not finished! They CLAIM is was completed in 1990 but there are many places that still need railings. Construction started in 1907 after a hundred years of planning. As gothic cathedrals go this was a short construction period.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/08/02 04:01:49 GMT

Hardening and Tempering Jimme, see our FAQs page.

A cold cut or cold chisel is used on cold steel and has a fat blunt end with about a 30° taper and a thick edge with a 60° angle.

A hot cut or hot chisel is used on hot steel and is considerably more slender than a cold chisle (about 15°) and has a narrow edge about 60°. Hot chisels are commonly made of "hot work" alloy steels today and may be as thin as a 5° taper. Tungsten alloy hot work steels retain their hardness well into the red range.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/08/02 04:09:24 GMT

Finishes Jim, it depends on how long you want the item to last and how much maintenance. Most good unbroken finishes will protect steel for a long time. This can include tight scale with a little wax. But if there is a break in the finish or if it is in a high humidity or salt air it is another story. Then you need something that will prevent rust when the finish is scratched. This is what galvanizing does. Parts can be hot dip galvanized by a specialist or cold galvanized with zinc powder paint. these are then coated with primer and a top coat.

Galvanizing is a coating of zinc that acts as a sacrificial annode in the corrosion process. Rather than iron disolving when exposed to air and moisture resulting in rust, the zinc disolves and plates the steel. Until the zinc runs out this provides a very good protection.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/08/02 04:18:59 GMT

Patents /// Prior use /// Failure to practice
Most countries in the world have an absolute novelty requirement for getting a patent. That means that no patent will be granted if the inventor or anyone else discloses the invention before the inventor's date of first filing of a patent application for his invention. The only exception, in those countries, is for fraud. (for example the inventor's confidant, by a confidentiality agreement, breaks the agreement and discloses the invention before the first filing date.).
Canada has a modified absolute novelty requirement. There can be no prior disclosure of the invention by anyone except the inventor. The inventor must file a patent application in Canada within a year of his/her/it's first public disclosure. (please note that the inventor is sunk if he wishes to file for a patent in any other absolute novelty country).
The United States is even more liberal. An inventor has one year within which to file a patent application (in the U.S.). where there has been disclosure by him/her/it or someone else.
Putting an invention on display, or up for sale, or publishing the invention, with sufficient detail, will kill the inventor's rights to a patent in most of the world. It also starts the clock running in the U.S. and Canada.
Once a patent application is filed in any patent office, of a country that follows the Paris convention, the inventor has one year within which to file applications elsewhere and the first filing date (of the original application ) is given to all those corresponding patent applications filed in those other patent offices. This date is important, as most countries are "first to file".
The phrase means that if two patent applications for the same invention (by two or more independant inventors)are pending at the same time. The first person that applied for a patent (i.e. filed a patent application), wins. The inventor who applied at a later date gets no patent.
The United States is an exception. The U.S.A. is a "first to invent" country. The patent office determines which party invented the invention first and awards the issued patent to that party. (where there are two or more pending patent applications disclosing the same invention.).
The procedure is called an Interference proceeding.
As far as I know, the United States has never had a "patent working requirement".
Canada did have such a requirement but abandoned it atleast 15 years ago. Such a requirement was enacted to prevent a company to get a national patent and then export the patented product into that country while preventing manufacture of the invention by nationals. Many other countries had such laws but most have abandoned them. India still has such restrictions and others. (South Korea too and some other countries in various backwaters in the world).
I hope the above purple prose sheds more light on the subject then it causes confusion.
Regards to all from north, of most of youse,
   slag - Thursday, 08/08/02 05:51:02 GMT

Patents #2 /// "due diligence doctrine"
The doctrine and requirement for due diligence is a uniquely American feature of patent law. The doctrine pertains to pending patent applications. It does NOT apply to issued American patents. The doctrine arose because of the "first to invent" requirement for co-pending patent applications. This is where there are two or more pending patent applications for the same invention, (all pending before the U.S. patent office). Under U.S. patent law the party that proves that they made the invention first is solely entitled to an issued patent. (that is they show that they invented that invention before the other applicants). The invention requirement was that the invention was "reduced to practice". (a complicated and highly technical specialty area of patent conflict-proceeding law.). The first inventor could not sit on his/her/it's backside and let time pass by. That party was required to advance the inventive concept at a reasonable rate and then file a patent application. (readers will have to check patent law books or patent cases to get a feel for what constitutes proper due diligence.)
The concept was not perfect and several very clever people learned how to keep a filed and pending patent and added to (i.e. new subject matter). Those patents came to be known as the infamous "submarine patents" Some of these patent applications languished in the U.S. patent office for decades and then sprung on unsuspecting U.S. businesses. They delay was affected by some very skillful tactics. (U.S. patents used to be secret until they issued to patent, hence the surprise, when they finally became patented).
To summarise, the due diligence doctrine does not apply to inventions that are already patented in the U.S. It only applies to pending patent applications at the U.S. patent office.
Enough of this technical guff, it's time to get back to my bottle of Bourbon and the poker game. (and try to recoup some of tonight's losses. Did I just see an ace come off the bottom of the deck? Nah it must be the Jack Daniels.)
Regards from a newly impoverished
   slag - Thursday, 08/08/02 06:26:54 GMT

You want a special type of abraisive made for aluminum that is cheap and wears fast so it doesn't load up. A large abraisive specialty house should have it.
There are also special cut files for working aluminum.
With copywright and patent laws as they are...they are impractical to apply for and/or defend, thus negating the intent of their founders and handicapping the nation . We need a way to encourage innovation and reward the innovators and we no longer have it to a great degree. Thus another factor leading us downhill in the tradition of the British Empire.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 08/08/02 06:37:05 GMT

Weird World Chapter XX: Just had a phone call from a local smith that I only see about every 5 years. . . HE had a message on his answering machine for ME! Someone looking for information about blacksmithing groups in Vermont and New England. . .

My phone number is on the home page and all the order forms. I'm also the only Jock Dempsey listed in the US. . .

Weird World Chapter XXI: I've recieved Nigerian SPAM the past few days with text file attachments. After scanning for viruses I took a look. . . It was the distribution list for the SPAM! A moronic thing to do but not unusual for these folks. . . How can ANYONE so stupid make a living running international scams?

The list was unfiltered and contained MANY bogus and NOSPAM addresses. Which means when the sent it through their free host dejour there were hundreds of bounces and errors. Why should this concern us? Bounces and errors cost the web services band width that ends up costing us money as well as slowing the web in general.

The disturbing thing about the list was that too many of the names and addresses were very familiar. Out of 2,700 names and addresses I recognized several per screen (Pete, VI, Paw-Paw, NakedAnvil, neilwin. . . Many were old addresses. Many of the others were also blacksmiths from their forge/anvil and related addresses (Skyforge, Ironhorn, blacksmith @ (dozens), . Some I recognized many I did not.

The names came from the anvilfire archives AND sites linked to anvilfire as well as other blacksmithing forums. Those of you that had not posted prior to our new encryption system were NOT listed unless you post on those other forums.

The good news in this they are NOT picking up addresses from our forums or archives any more. They ARE trying. The list had a number of the now dissabled addresses from our archives. If you post on other forums (especialy yahoo groups) do not blame us if you get spammed.

We are still in the process of removing ALL plain text e-mail addresses from our pages. A few can be done by global find and replace but others (ours) must be replaced so that they still work. This is an ongoing process in our war on SPAM.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/08/02 15:02:13 GMT

Weird World Chapter XXII: Had a fellow call and SWORE he was on the Centaur website and had it send him to our book review page for a book he was looking for . . . that Centaur stocks.

We ARE information central! All cyber paths lead to anvilfire!
   - guru - Thursday, 08/08/02 17:48:02 GMT

When grinding aluminum, wheel cloging can be prevented by first grinding a gum rubber eraser. The rubber fills the pores in the wheel, preventing the aluminum from getting a foothold. Ya need to grind on it till it gets pretty hot . Works for me.--- The Dutchman
   Txfarrier - Thursday, 08/08/02 17:50:55 GMT

Stopping metal clogging /// cont.
There is an old trick for slowing or stopping metal buildup on file teeth. The trick was to first rub some chalk on the file before filing any metal. It works for files and I suspect that it would work for grinding wheels at least coarse grinding wheels.
Please let me know if it does, through this forum.
Regards to all,
   slag - Thursday, 08/08/02 21:48:26 GMT

My friend's forge just burned to the ground last week.

Now he and wife are dealing with both shock AND the insurance company. We're trying to help out.

What we need is "where to go" assistance on how to price out antique tools for purposes of a typical homeowner's policy, and he had two early 20th C power hammers, bought used. He had one running. (I'm sorry I don't have years and model numbers, maybe later.) My question is how does one figure a tool that is already fully depreciated in some past life, was bought as junk (although still usable) partially restored, and probably cannot be replaced, exactly?

(One was a spring type and the other a cam type, I believe.)

There were also quite a few finished pieces of camping ironwork such as lantern holders and foot-long twisted tent stakes for a large tent- that sort of thing.

The structure was covered for X amount, but we need to figure the value of the tools...

Please help us get our friend back working at his anvil!

   Suze Hammond - Thursday, 08/08/02 22:00:56 GMT

Suze, One man's junk is another's treasure and among blacksmiths the old tools you speak of are very valuable.

The power hammers are a valuable and relatively rare tool. Mechanical hammers are no longer made and those that are being used are carefully restored and maintained. If purchased from a dealer or another smith prices can be equal to or more than a new hammer.

The problem will come down to whether or not his fire insurance covers replacement cost or the original cost.

More via e-mail.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/08/02 22:30:20 GMT

Jim, I can tell you that brushing the scale to a shine and applying beeswax is temporary at best. I made a drive hook and hung my hummingbird feeder on it. The bend at the end, where the 1/4" square rod was bent 180 degrees is rusting after only 2 months outside. The rest of the hook is unaffected. Outside = primer and paint! I have also used linseed oil applied to a black hot piece but have not tried using any of these pieces outside.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 08/08/02 23:55:35 GMT

Thanks for the heat treating information and link.
   Jimme - Friday, 08/09/02 00:37:28 GMT

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