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.
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[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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

I am a 15 year old high schol student who has always been intrigued with armor and making of swords, ect. and how can i begin my own armory/forge?
   Evan Stewart - Friday, 08/09/02 03:24:55 GMT

Suze /// Tool Value /// (hand tools).
Kayne and Sons, a supporter of this web site has an online catalogue. That catalogue has tool pictures, tool descriptions, and tool prices. The prices are obviously current retail prices.
The pictures will help to jog your's and the good Squire's memory, if the tools were not all itemised (and photographed with attending written descriptions. Videotape is nice but the tape can degrade in as little as four years. The magnetic coating on the tape comes off as sludge on the videotape machine's reading heads. So take pictures as well as videotapes).
Centaur Forge should be checked after studying the Kayne and Sons site. They have written tool descriptions and prices, but no pictures. They no longer support this invaluable web site (parsimonious pules). Shame upon them.
Good luck with reconstruction. Take it one step at a time and it will soon become less daunting, (better still if you start soon). Nasty experience but you'll have a better new shop and all kinds of experience (you never wanted), and improved precautions.
You have my empathy, good wishes, hang in there.
Regards to all from the G. W. N.
   slag - Friday, 08/09/02 03:49:09 GMT

Getting Started: Evan, Start with our Getting Started link found at the top and bottom of this page and on our home page. Find or buy the books suggested and READ. See our plans page for equipment you can build and our iForge page for more about tools and step by step how-to. A couple of our most recent iForge demos were by a 10 year old that had some things to teach the adults! Collect, make and purchase tools. Then see our Armoury page. Eric Thing's shop is full of equipment he built.

Just reading all the information on anvilfire might take a year. . . Its take us 5 years to amass it and additions are being made daily.

OBTW - I'm still looking for a shop helper/apprentice. See the FAQs page article on apprenticeships.
   - guru - Friday, 08/09/02 04:14:40 GMT

recently acquired a "Lil-Giant" power hammer,25lb., in pretty good shape. ,I ordered Daves hammer video,boy is it great.
I was wondering if there was anyone out there that had for sale,certain parts for the hammer.I was especially interested in toggle arms,pitman arms,and dies.
Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Thanx Duke charlesworth
Live oak,ca. 95953
   D. Charlesworth - Friday, 08/09/02 17:56:22 GMT

Guru, (With all due respect)
I don't think the problem is quite that way. Homeowners Ins. generally pays RCV. Replacement cost endorsement will not pay RCV for "antiques ... and similiar articles of rarity or antiquity which cannot be replaced" or "Articles not maintained or in good or workable condition", so I would be careful of "calling" it an antique (maybe an old tool). RCV will pay for a replacement of like kind and quality without depreciation (another old hammer from Wallace Metal Works)IF it qualifies for RCV, if not then ACV pays actual cash value (market value) or another one of like kind, age, quality and condition. More problematic is exclusions and limitations for personal property used for business, ie: 2,500 limit for personal property used at any time or in any manner for business use. No coverage for any adjacent structure (unless endorsed) used in part or in whole for business. I advise my customers to be very carefull of word definitions and long discussions with adjustors while volunteering to much information (just answer THE question honestly) I hope this helps.
   Tone - Friday, 08/09/02 18:19:29 GMT

Duke, See our manufacturer's listing on our Power hammer Page. It has the address for Sid Suedemier. Be sure to tell him where you found his address.
   - guru - Friday, 08/09/02 18:21:43 GMT

Jerry Renkin!

been trying to get ahold of you for weeks... please email me if you can

   Mike Kruzan - Friday, 08/09/02 18:46:28 GMT

Tone, We passed on the word yesterday to be sure that the it was known that the equipment was for a hobby (it was).

My point about antiques was that in blacksmithing an anvil is NOT considered an antique unless it is 200 years old or more. The majority of old anvils in daily use are 100 to 150 years old. . . Some brands of power hammers that are 75 years old or more are still selling for as much or more than new machinery.

These are items that in any other area would be considered antique but NOT in blacksmithing.

I didn't address the her question of "depreciated" cost. Used equipment is funny. I can buy a machine (new or used) and use it in my business and depreciate it to zero for tax purposes, then someone else purchase it and depreciate it all over angin.

The difficult thing to understand is that much blacksmithing equipment may actualy be "appreciating" in value while you use it. . . On paper (taxes if a business) it is worth less and less while in real money it is worth more and more (due to rarity and increased demand). This assumes you do not damage or wear out the equipment. In the case of MANY power hammers they are being carefully maintained or restored while in use and may actually be in better condition when sold than when purchased. . .

Suze's friend's problem was putting a replacement cost on covered items. Her's was not understanding that a 90 year old machine may be worth as much as a new or recently rebuilt machine.

And yes, your advise to not say anymore than necessary to insurance adjusters is good advice. It also applies to all government entities. . . As I keep telling folks, our OFFICIAL US government policy of "don't ask, don't tell" is a good one to remember at all times.
   - guru - Friday, 08/09/02 18:49:25 GMT

Can you use Sodium Nitrate, to do tempering blueing.

Or to reach a specific color by temp. If so can you advise on the proper process.

   AL - Friday, 08/09/02 23:21:44 GMT

NaNO3 : AL, Sodium Nitrate is a salt that can be used in a "salt bath" however, I believe is has a relatively low melting point. Salt baths are used to prevent oxidation when heating for hardening or tempering and to provide an even heat.

Various nitrate solutions are used in gun blueing to produce what is known as a "nitre blue". This is a diferent process than temper coloring which is purely controled oxidation of iron in the air. Gun bluing formulas usualy contain a strong acid or alkali and in combination with other chemicals produce a surface coloring.

There are many processes and most are too complicated too reproduce here and I would not even attempt to do so by memory. If you are interested in the subject there are many books on the subject. I tried Norm larson but he doesn't have one. A search on the used book sites popped up a dozen and I think Centaur Forge carries a general book on metal coloring. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK (everyone should have a copy) has numerous bluing and coloring formulae.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/10/02 00:29:17 GMT

Guru: I recently acquired a set of tools made by Whitney Metal Tool. Co. of Rockford, Ill. It includes a notcher to cut a notch in an angle iron web; a bender that bends that notched angle iron, and a shear that mechanically shears a piece of angle iron. The units are complete except the drive gear that activates the shear, which is missing. Is this a unusual tool? Can I find any shop diagrams so I can fabricate the drive gear? Does anyone have one of these tools and could send me a drawing of the drive gear?

Thanks for your help

Don Agostine
   Don Agostine - Saturday, 08/10/02 02:22:14 GMT

I have a 14 yr. old son who is crazy about metalworked items, knives, swords, etc. He infatuated with how they're formed, etc. He would like to know how he can find out more about Metal Smithing, career opps., local SO. Illinois) smith's, if eny, etc.
   Terry Wilkinson - Saturday, 08/10/02 02:34:06 GMT

Do you know of any blacksmiths in the Akron, Ohio area that might talk to a young man that thinks he is interested in smithing? Can you give me names, addresses, phone #s, email address or any help? Also, do you know of any beginning classes in the Akron area? Thanks for your help. Betsy
   Betsy - Saturday, 08/10/02 03:07:09 GMT

Roper-Whitney: Don, Roper Whitney is still in business and the parts may be available depending on how old the tools are. Most of their tools haven't changed in decades so you have a good chance.


Tell them I sent you and that they should advertise on anvilfire!
   - guru - Saturday, 08/10/02 04:17:27 GMT

Smiths to Talk to: Terry and Betsy, There are smiths all over the country if know where to look and the vast majority are more than willing to share information about the field.

First, Check our ABANA-Chapter.com web-site. There is a list of blacksmithing organization web-sites and they have contacts that you can write or call. Usualy you want to contact the chapter president or newsletter editor. If they have a schedule, check to see if anything current is listed. The public is welcome to go to any of the meetings of chapters that I know of and it is usualy free unless they are having a special event or a meal.

Terry, in Southern IL you have one of the finest makers of Damascus steel in the country, Daryl Meier, in Carbondale. See our "The Guru's" link at the top of this page. If Daryl is not available he may put you in touch with other folks in your area.

Betsy, Try Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil (SOFA) on the ABANA-Chapter page. The page is not current but the contacts should still be good. This is a big group and has on of the biggest regional meets in the country. Note that there are THREE groups in Ohio to chose from. That means that if you are willing to drive a little you could go to blacksmith meets almost EVERY weekend.

Most chapter meetings are held at blacksmith shops (large and small). There is almost always a demonstration and often an oportunity to try your own hand at forging.

The traditional fund raiser at these meets is called "Iron in the Hat". Everyone donates something (tools, scrap metal, books. . anything) and tickets are sold for a raffle. You put your tickets in a cup next to the item you want. Then they pick tickets from the cup to see who the winner is. . . be careful what you put a ticket on. You might have to haul it home! It is a good practice to put you initials on your tickets so it is easy to tell who won.

Recently I've donated anvilfire hats to Iron in the Hat making it "Hat in the hat".
   - guru - Saturday, 08/10/02 05:10:46 GMT

Terry W.-

Since you're in southern Illinois, be sure to check out the Metalsmithing program at SIU. It is one of the premier programs in the country, and the modern resurgence in blacksmithing as an art was largely brought about by one of their instructors, Brent Kington, in 1969. Daryl Meier was one of the smiths working with Brent at that time, if I remember correctly. He is still located in Carbondale, I believe.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/10/02 06:18:13 GMT

   samson - Saturday, 08/10/02 09:52:38 GMT

Samson, 2800 CELSIUS???? Thats about 5172F! I'll bet you a big orange soda that you can't get that much heat out of coal even with oxygen injection. What are you forging, tantalum rocket nozzels?
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/10/02 14:04:09 GMT

Samson, QC may be right. Burning fuel with pure oxygen increases the temperature but I do not know of any source of info on oxy-coal burning temperatures. BUT, it may be possible. The burning temperature of propane almost doubles from 2,950°F to 5,650°F (1'621°C to 3'121°C) between burning in free air and in pure oxygen.

However, the starting burning conditions used for published values vary. According to "Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers", 10th, coal gas burns at about 3,590°F (1'977°C) under 100% air conditions. Not all the components of coal burn this hot.

The "free air" and "100% air" terms are a bit confusing. However "free air" for laboratory purposes would need to be defined as at sea level. "100% air" I'm not sure about unless it simply means the same. The reason this is important is that in a forge or furnace where air is blown in you have two things going on that increase temperatures. One is the added air that accelerates combustion by displacing CO2 and oxygen deprived air, the other is that the pressure in the forge fire is increased. This effects both solid and gas fuel forges. The slight increase over atmospheric pressure increases the burning temperature just a the reduction from high altitude lowers the temperature. Masses of forge fuel naturaly create a resistance to flow and thus an increased presure. Most gas forges have slightly restricted vents for the same reason. High temperature furnaces are often presurized.

Breaking the fuel up to increase its surface area increases the rate of burning. Increasing the rate of burning overcomes losses that reduce furnace temperature.

Have you considered the problems of containing such a high temperature fire? Most refractories melt or break down long before reaching this high temperature. Pure alumina (Al2O3) is the most commonly used refractory for high temperature applications and is the major ingrediant in refractory bricks.

The melting point of aluminum oxide, Al2O3, is 201515°C. The boiling point 298060°C.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/10/02 16:02:47 GMT

The following are given by Féry (1905)
Acetylene 2548°C (4618°F)
Alcohol 1705°C (3101°F)
Hydrogen (in air) 1900°C (3452°F)
Oxy-hydrogen 2420°C (4388°F)
Oxy-coal gas blowpipe 2200°C (4992°F)
- 1911encyclopedia.org (F/Flame)
Maroon = conversions added
   - guru - Saturday, 08/10/02 16:45:21 GMT

Should the tang on a knife be welded on or drawn down? I am not trying to do it tradionally just functionally but would perfer to forge instead of using the grinding method.
   888 - Saturday, 08/10/02 17:41:53 GMT

Knife Tangs: 888, Tangs can be welded on but the prefered method is that they are forged, or cut from the original billet if using the stock removal methods.

A common error is to make the inside corners of tangs too sharp. Tangs should have as large a radius as possible and be as large as possible on the blade end. Structuraly the best (non full width) tang is just small enough to provide a shoulder for the guard, has a healthy radius (fillet) and then tapers to the end size (for upsetting or threading).
This makes fitting the grip a little more difficult but it makes a much better blade that is unlikely to break at the tang. Look at the tang on a large file. These have the large fillet radius and taper I am talking about. However, files have a small tang that is generaly not as strong as needed for a tool that used like a typical bladed tool (prying and hacking). File tangs are also soft, so they do not break. A knife should be the same.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/10/02 18:45:13 GMT

I'm building a new masonry forge and I am not sure wht size the chimney should be I an thinking 8" round, will this be enough? it will be a hooded forge.

   Andrew - Saturday, 08/10/02 19:35:31 GMT

Andrew, we have had many postings on chimineys and I probably should put together a FAQ.

Hoods are terribly inefficient as they must move ALL the air from their opening into the stack. This includes cold room air which reduces the stack temperature and thus the amount of draft. Hoods take much larger stacks than side draft type. 12" dia is the minimum and in masonry 14" square is common. Bigger is better. Commercial hooded forges had stacks 16 to 20 inches in diameter.

Side draft forges can be made of masonry or metal (see our plans page). This arangement only sucks up the hot smoke from the fire and very little cool room air. They have a relatively small opening of 8x8 or 10x12 inches that opens into a larger chamber that feeds the stack. This creates a high velocity suction at the forge opening. But even though these are MUCH more efficient a 10" stack is recomended and it is best if that feeds into a larger chimney or stack.

An enclosed forge with a small air opening can occasionaly get away with an 8" stack. But only if conditions are right (tall enough stack, low resistance supply air, lack of down draft inducing trees, roofs or other obstructions).
   - guru - Saturday, 08/10/02 21:07:51 GMT

Virus Note for All: Don't open e-mail with "Happy Humor" in the subject. This is the Virus: Exploit-MIME.gen.b
   - guru - Saturday, 08/10/02 23:12:34 GMT

I need to build an overhead I-beam type hoist frame. I would like to put heavy casters for rolling purposes at the base.My question is how big does the top horizontal I-beam need to be if I stay with the total width at ten feet and plan to be able to pick up a acorn table that is approching 4000 lbs?
   steve e. - Sunday, 08/11/02 02:49:33 GMT

Steve, Given a safety factor of 1.5:1 (6,000#) a W6x25 will do (.14" deflection - 11,000psi) but that is a heavy section for a 6" beam, a W8x20 (0.11" def. @ 10,765psi) is another. Any 8" wide flange from 20 pounds per foot UP will do.

In a 10" beam you need a W10x19 (0.08" @ 9,726psi) or heavier will also work.

The idea is to limit deflection to less than 1/4" under full load and stress to under 10,000 psi. On any kind of crane you need to rate the beam for the capacity of the hoist. In this case a 2 ton with a safety factor. If you put a 5 ton hoist on the beam then the beam needs to be rated for that PLUS. I've never used a crane that didn't get fully loaded or overloaded (to that 1.5x) once in a while. That includes 10, 35 and 100 ton cranes. Shifting loads (bad rigging) can put a shock on the crane many times the applied load.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/11/02 03:59:51 GMT

Previosly someone asked about using solubor for flux so far for me it has worked as well as the type bought at the grocery store. It is about the same thing its even 20 mule team brand (mine anyway) just in bigger bags 50lbs (I think been awhile since I looked at one) instead of the size at the grocery store (5lbs maybe). As far as I can tell the only diffence is probaly the quality control of it. After all why would it need to be as pure/clean/pretty since it sold to be used as a fertilizer/spray additive instead of being for home use.
   888 - Sunday, 08/11/02 06:38:37 GMT

888, Thanks. I wanted to add a note about Solubor to our borax information. Our American "20 Mule Team Borax" is not found in most of the world and chemicaly pure borax is very expensive in those places that do not have the laundry product. But Solubor is sold world wide. "20 Mule Team Borax" is also becoming less and less common in American stores and may one day no longer be available to many smiths. But Solubor will probably always be obtainable.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/11/02 15:26:00 GMT

Have been blacksmihting since 88.Not to up on building a twisting jig.Would like information on how to build one or where to get one.Something to twist 1/2sq.for rails.
   Houston Cotton - Sunday, 08/11/02 15:31:07 GMT

Twister: Houston, Pretty easy to build but most smiths that need a lot of twists use a machine. This is very often a pipe threading machine converted for the purpose.

For some ideas as to where to start, see our 21st century page under "twister".

Note: For hot twisting the distance between the work and a wood base needs to be 3 or 4 inches and the wood should be covered with sheet metal. I designed this one with vise grips so it would be fast and easy. As you know fumbling with clamps and fixtures is NOT suitable in hot work.

For cold twisting you will need a heavier clamping device than Vise-Grips. You can build your own but a small milling machine vise OR a heavy drill press vise will work. Modified C-clamps can also work. Heavy angle iron or an I-beam is used for rails. Cold twisting also requires a lot more leverage (long crank) or gear reduction. Most folks use a worm gear box if motorized. For hand cranking you may need something with 2 or 3 to one reduction.

One critical thing to remember is that as you twist a bar it gets SHORTER. In cold work this is a very powerful force. The chuck or end clamp needs to be able to move slightly while twisting. Generaly the end clamp is made to slide on the base rails and NOT locked down. It should also be lubricated.

One reason pipe threaders are popular is their hollow spindle. This allows you to setup to make twists in the middle of a long bar where otherwise the twist will extend to the near the end.

This is often one of those "I'd like to have" tools. But they take up space and are not necessary unless you are doing production work OR archetictural work such as long rails with twisted pickets.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/11/02 16:34:30 GMT

Frank and Tim,
check my math but I think the cross sectional area of a bar times 3.396 lbs per foot works on rounds and hexs or any regular shape for that matter. If you can remember the formulas for areas, you only have to remember one conversion number (3.396) which by the way is pnuemonically:
3 times 3 equals 9 minus three equals 6. (3.396)
oh yeah, formula for a circle: pies are square.
   L.sundstrom - Sunday, 08/11/02 18:04:51 GMT

Any source for plans on a build it yourself flypress?
   - Tim - Sunday, 08/11/02 18:27:19 GMT

Flypress Plans Tim, Absolutely NOT! A flypress must be VERY carefully engineered lest the frame break and dump a very heavy flywheel on your head!

Flypresses do something that you always try to avoid in engineering. They STOP a turning flywheel.

The reason you avoid it is that instantly stopping anything results in INFINITE force. If force is infinite the Universe comes to an end (really, time stops, stars collapse. . .) so you avoid infinite forces. But you cannot really stop a mass iinstantly because of the limitation of the strength of materials so the universe is safe.

But you still have TREMONDOUS forces to deal with. In punch presses where the flywheel turns at a high rate of speed putting something in the way of the ram that tries to stop the flywheel ends up destroying the machine. Hardened steel punches take the shape of an accordian, cranks, clutches and frames break. . . Something MUST give or its good by Universe, but in most cases the machine just blows up. Under normal conditions the press does its job, punching a hole, forming a bend and only uses about 15% of the energy in the flywheel over about 1/3 of a revolution. But even under normal conditions the cast iron frame stretches and parts give. . .

In a flypress the flywheel turns at a relatively low rate of speed limiting the stored energy. At the bottom of the stroke the huge frame stretches as the flywheel stops thus the reversal is not instantaneous. Then the frame pushing down on the nut creates enough force to accelerate the flywheel in the opposite direction. Ever try to turn a screw by pushing on the nut? It takes a LOT of force! In some cases it is impossible. It also means the threads must be specialy designed to transmit this force as well as have the correct lead angle to let the transmission of the force reverse. Too low an angle and the press will push down ONE time and lock up.

Flypresses are probably the most deceptively complex press there is. Make one mistake in its design and construction and the result can be devastating. Most that exist are the result of many years of manufacturing experiance as well as trial and error (plus the engineering).

There are used flypresses on the market if you look. I think the ones manual ones on our Power hammer Page may still be available. Check with Bruce Wallace. Motorized flypresses are also available new and used. Kayne and Son have several for sale.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/11/02 19:57:25 GMT

Weight Volume Calcs: You only have to remember ONE factor. . density in the measured units. For most carbon steel that is 0.2835 pounds per cubic inch. The rest is elementary school arithmetic. X * Y * Z except for rounds which are PIr2 * L.

Right and regular triangular prisms are 1/2 the area of the enclosing rectangle or half the volume or a rectangular prism.

The volume of a sphere is 2/3 of a surrounding cylinder and a cone 1/3 of a surrounding cylinder (dia, height same as shape). A parabaloid is one half the volume.

If you take the median between the distance across corners and the distance across flats and treat hexagonal or other polygonal prism you can treat is as a cylinder for estimating purposes.

With these shapes and some creative thinking you can calculate the weight of ANY SHAPE. My prefered calculators for this are old TI-30 SLR's that have PI, SQRT and X2 as first functions (normal keys).

The newer TI-30's (with the funky sliding cover) made PI a second function (you have to press two keys). So I bought a dozen of the last TI-30 SLR's back in the 1980's. . . They should last to the end of my days. Otherwise when using other calculators I use PI = 3.1416 which is close enough for most engineering work and is the value every mechanic should remember.

With PI and the density of steel above you should be able calculate weights of large objects to within 1-2% using pencil and paper if your measurements are correct. When measuring irregular objects it helps to learn to squint and guess at a median line. A good guess can be accurate down to less than 1% error.

Most people have difficulty converting measured fractions to decimals for calculations. In this case you should get an engineering tape measure with a 10ths scale rather than fractional (yes they make them). Be sure it is tenths of an inch, not a foot (unless you do all your calcs in feet). The same is also found on carpenters framing squares (see our iForge demo #122). Just don't confuse eights with tenths when looking at the scale.

Popular saying in a friend's machine shop:
Measure with micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with chainsaw!

   - guru - Sunday, 08/11/02 20:50:14 GMT

Ok, after mild rebukes and gentle encouragement from Guru and PawPaw, I beefed up my wood frame anvil stand. The stand is an A-frame made of 2x6" and 2x4". I built a shelf on the base and placed a 100 lb. block of steel on it. I then covered it with 3/8" plywood to add some stiffness. Finally, I put four 1/2" lag screws, one at each corner of the anvil, with 2" heavy washers to hold the anvil down. The whole thing weighs 140lbs WITHOUT the 70 lb farriers anvil. When I tried it out, it was obvious that the extra weight kept it in place better and I could definetly feel the difference. The iron moved more with each blow, which means I was spending a lot of effort that did not go into the workpiece. Those of you who are "Hobby Hammers", take note: You cannot build an anvil stand that is too big!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/11/02 21:22:02 GMT

All right,
here's the pnuemonic for remembering the simple four digit decimal.

Thirty-six pounds of steel,
Were planning to take a drive,
But that great big junk yard dog,
Point Two ate thirty five.

   L.sundstrom - Monday, 08/12/02 00:06:59 GMT

   - guru - Monday, 08/12/02 01:14:25 GMT

junk yard dog, Point Two ate thirty five.
Ref to 0.2835 pounds per cubic inch for carbon steel.
Had me going for a minute also.
   - Conner - Monday, 08/12/02 01:33:09 GMT

I am now the prowd owner of an old portable forge and im trying to find out a little info about it. It is a montgomery ward steelforge its got a number 84-8511 or it could be 84-6511 and it also had some other name or word on it but the name plate has been scratched up a little and i can only make out what looks like an L. it is round and looks alot like a 3 leged barbaque. i would go strate to montgomery ward but them bein bankrupt has made that difucult. if any one can help point me in the right direction i would love to hear about it.
   RBrown - Monday, 08/12/02 01:35:49 GMT

Old Forge Bob, Going to MonkyWard would be REAL hard since they probably haven't sold forges for 50 years or more. . . and it MAY date from the 1800's. Even if they were alive and well it would be like asking Sears about tools they sold (I bought) in the 1960's. . . Resellers don't keep histories like manufacturers.

Besides, like Sears, they didn't make most of the things they sell. It was probably made by one of the major (or minor) blacksmith tool manufacturers. Check our book review page. We have reviews of Champion and Buffalo catalogs on CD that we sell and a review of a reprint of a Canedy-Otto catalog. The reviews have a few photos but these folks each made dozens of models of forges.

Sears and Montgomery Ward both sold items from every major manufacture and put their own name on them. Most of the unmarked Hay-Budden anvils sold were delivered to private brand companies that stenciled their name on the anvil or used a decal. Neither marking is permanent enough for anvils.

If you dig in enough libraries and collections you MIGHT find a very old catalog that will answer you question. But that is a LOT of years of catalogs to track down. . .

   - guru - Monday, 08/12/02 02:27:04 GMT

FYI re Sears: I recently had a lengthy and exasperating go-round with Sears after a problem developed in the O-rings on a heavy-duty Craftsman set that I bought for our oldest son back in 1973. Every single unctuously polite Sears person I spoke with in their vast system of service reps flatly denied in literally dozens of phone conversations that they could or would fix it. (Hardly any of them even knew what an oxy-acetylene torch is.) Finally I turned to Harris, which made the rig, and their service rep steered me to Sears' Harris person-- whose existence is totally unknown to the rest of the company-- who set up the replacement. The old forever Craftsman guarantee is no more, but thanks to the nice lady at Harris, I got a fabulous deal on a pair of two-stage regulators and a heavy-duty cutting and welding rig. Ironic footnote: reason they couldn't just pop in some new O-rings and send the old one back is the hassle in getting rid of the solvents that would be necessary to do the cleaning. I hope somebody found the torch handle in the trash and did a home rebuild. A great set that gave 30 years of fine service. Sears has seen the last of me.
   miles undercut - Monday, 08/12/02 03:41:46 GMT

More math for smiths. Pi*r square = .7854D, or Pi over 4 times the diameter, when working with a diamater it is not necessary to convert to a radius to determine Area. Use the top 4 left hand buttons on your calculator preceeded by(.). In most forging opperations weight calculations to determin cut length of a given part are an extra step. We are masters of volume and that is all we need to know. X*Y*Z of the part to be forged = area of parent stock times enough length to have the same volume. I have used this method for many yerars but never said it well maybe you can do better Jock.
   Toby Hickman - Monday, 08/12/02 07:30:42 GMT


I can't get your math to give a correct answer, if I understand your formula correctly. The area of a circle is Pi times the square of the radius. If we use a diameter of 2 units, then the area is Pi times 1 (radius) times 1, or 3.1416. Using your method, the result would be .7854 times 2 = 1.5708 (about half what it should be)> Using your other formula, the result would be Pi divided by 8 (4 times 2) = .3927 (even more wrong).

If I'm using these methods incorrectly, let me know. I just can't make them produce a correct answer.
   vicopper - Monday, 08/12/02 12:39:29 GMT

A=pi*r^2 r=1/2D A=pi*(1/2D)^2=pi*1/4*D^2=pi/4*D^2

Basically Squaring the diameter was left out of the toby's method. By inspection pi is unitless and 4 is a factor, D is the only term that has dimension so it must be a squared term in order to achieve an area measurement.
   Mills - Monday, 08/12/02 14:03:49 GMT

boy, who would have thunk that blacksmithing would take so much math . . . ;-)} (*grin*)

As long as the discussion on oxidizing chemicals has lulled, I have a question: What is the chemical result of using Oxyclean or the like as the oxidizing agent? Presumeably it shouldn't be too toxic, but I am afraid to try just yet.
   Escher - Monday, 08/12/02 14:28:08 GMT

Thanks, Mills. It was late and I did leave out squaring the diameter. Math geometery and trig, if you still remember it, all make blacksmithing profitable by giving knowable information at the beginning of a project. thanks for taking the time to find my error.
   Toby Hickman - Monday, 08/12/02 16:45:31 GMT

I work just south of Akron at the Timken Research Center. I have been smithing for about 5 years and would be happy to show your son how to get started. There is a local ABANA Chapeter here as well, the Western Reserve Artists Blacksmisth Association. I have a shop in Beach City, about 28 miles south west of the Akron-Canton Airport. Send me and e-mail and I will give you my phone # and address.
   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 08/12/02 17:04:58 GMT

Math Short Cuts My Dad knows a bunch. But he was a slide rule generation engineer. And when slide rules were not accurate enough (they often were not) long division and lots of paper was applied. . . Toby's short cut above is an old slide-rule shortcut where squaring was mearly reading the A scale from the D scale with the cursor.

I AVOID math short cuts. Its too easy to just do all the steps with a modern pocket calculator. You also don't need to memorize extra constants such as fractions of PI. But it DOES help to be able to recognize the square root of two and its recipocal. . .

I have also found in my research for Mass2 (see intro to Mass3j Mass and Volume Calculator) that most engineering references are full of formulae with short cuts usualy resolved into constants. BUT WHERE DID THE CONSTANT COME FROM?????

The constants are sometimes simple things like a fraction of PI. But other times they are part of a much longer formula reduced to a constant for the specific application. The problem occurs when you try to apply a formula in a computer program or you want to apply say ONE formula to all polygonal sections. The two forumlas below (in computerese) are commonly reduced to apply to specific polygons. On these long formula a repeating portion is broken into two steps for efficeincy.

Ia = pow(cos(PI / Ns), 2)

In = (A / 12) * (pow(d2, 2) * (1 + (2 * (Ia))) / (4 * Ia))

I spent months comparing various polygon routines to extract and prove these. They are probably published in some book on engineering math but maybe not. They have been used in reduced form since the 1800's. These reductions are reduced further from caculus proofs (but THAT is another story). The result above is a set of formulas that apply to ALL regular polygons, not just the common ones listed in references like MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and Marks'.

Most of us do not memeorize such long formulae and do not apply them very often. But when we need them it is nice to understand whence they came. Short cuts often make this difficult.
   - guru - Monday, 08/12/02 18:05:29 GMT

I was thinking about cementing A railroad tie into the ground and mounting my small 44lbs anvil on it. What say the gurus?
   Bond, James Bond - Monday, 08/12/02 18:53:53 GMT


Since most railroad ties are 6" X 8" X 10', it should work well. I'd cut the tie to about 6', cutting some from both ends to get clean cuts. Bury about 3 feet, (paint the cut end with creosote, you can get it at a garden supply house), then after the cement sets up, cut the above ground portion appropriately.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 08/12/02 19:05:52 GMT

007, Burried stump mounts were common in permanent smithys when built by folks that knew EXACTLY where they wanted things. They were often long sections of oak log set very deep into the ground. If you set such a mount in the wrong place or height then you are in trouble.

Otherwise it makes a very good anvil stand and will make a difference in how the anvil feels under the hammer. But you may also want to consider the fact that you may upgrade from that small anvil to a bigger one sooner than you think. Meanwhile that very permanent post will still be there. . . and a larger anvil may not fit.
   - guru - Monday, 08/12/02 19:10:22 GMT

I think ties are 8'-6" long (8x6 and 8'6"). . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/12/02 19:13:04 GMT

I think you're right about the length.

One thing to add, even if later one wants to upgrade to a larger anvil, the addition of pressure treated lumber from the concrete to the working height secured to the sunken tie would still make a good solid, well rooted anvil mount.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 08/12/02 20:06:03 GMT

Outstanding gentlemen, I thank you. As I can't find a stump ANYWHERE in the area, I think I will have to go with this, maybe a little less cement will make a LITTLE more portability. Hows it going Paw Paw? I figure I can cut it with a chainsaw, then I have another fairly dense chunk of wood hanging around to use for........something....
   Bond, James Bond - Monday, 08/12/02 20:52:56 GMT

"well rooted" I love it Paw Paw tee hee, getting a little giddy, forge should be here this week...
   Bond, James Bond - Monday, 08/12/02 20:54:55 GMT

Howdy Guru, on 07/29/02 you lined me out on making a double radius picket bender using the platen table and a long roller nose lever. I made the lever tool using .180 wall 1-1/2 sq. tube with 1/2" holes on 1" centers down the length and a 1-1/2" crs roller nose. A friend came by and thought i was working on a russian assalt weapon. I made a bunch of 1-1/2" crs rolling stops that fit in the platen holes wherever i want.
So i fit the roller tool in the table, count over 'x' holes and in 'y' holes on both sides of the roller,drop in the rolling stops, secure one end of 1/2" sq. stock w/holddown clamp, and bend the piece.
What i'm getting is a french curve, because most of the bending takes place 0-4 inches into the radius and the remaining 10-12 inches tail off to zero radius.
I'm getting some interesting (!) shapes playing with this, but since the radii are graduated, i'm having trouble 'predicting' what i'm gonna come out with. I've never used a hossfield bender, so i'm wondering if i need another lever or stop or something to accomplish a truer radius? Sorry for the windage of my post.. thanks, mike

   mike-hr - Monday, 08/12/02 21:00:59 GMT


Doing pretty good. As for the "well rooted" comment, I just couldn't help myself! (grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 08/12/02 21:06:35 GMT

Mike, I think from your description you have missed something. The bend is made around a form exactly like those in our bender article on the 21st Century page. The long handle must have its pivot on the center of the radius. This will make a nearly perfect radius even with a little spring back.

In your case, to make the second bend the second form must be removable as it gets in the way of the stock. After making bend #1 the part would be clamped in place while the second form is put in place. Each part could have an individual bending handle OR you could make an adjustable one.

I'll make a sketch and mail it to you after dinner. . . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/12/02 21:38:54 GMT

Anvil Stump....Go buy a 4x6 yellow pine timber 12 feet long, cut 6 pieces to the height you need and spike them together then band and spike a flat bar strap around them. You could drill and all-thread them together. Cut them so they stand on end not laying on their side. This "Texas" stump is heavy, solid and able to be moved and will last forever.
   - Robert-ironworker - Monday, 08/12/02 21:40:09 GMT

Thanks for the tips Robert, have an anvil that needs a stand and was thinking along those lines.

Ever try to put wheels on one (like on the side, so I can tip it and roll it)?
   mattmaus - Tuesday, 08/13/02 01:33:58 GMT

mattmaus, Never thought of that cause I don`t move my anvil with the "Texas stump". I move a smaller anvil and stand around where I need it. If I was wanting to move a anvil around a shop I would buy/make a cheap two wheeled dolly and move it around. You could cut the yellow pine timber into longer pieces and set it in the ground a couple of feet.
   - Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 08/13/02 02:12:32 GMT

Is stainless steel a good choice for a gas forge shell ? I have seen a lot of rusted out gas forges and ceramic kilns and I was thinking stainless would be a good way to make it last. How about using a beer keg with a couple of layers of Kaowool inside ?

Thank You

   chris smith - Tuesday, 08/13/02 02:45:13 GMT

I movet from FL to TN and need a place to order some Korean Rasp they held-up well and were very low in cost.
Do you know anyone/anywhere that would have them?
   Tom Logue Sr - Tuesday, 08/13/02 03:54:47 GMT

Dear J. Dempsey I was looking through the arcives and read your post on the Bradley helve hammers back in 1-99, and you said that the part for the hammers were really hard to find but that the cushions could be bought. I have a 40lb
helve that I need cushions for and haven't had much luck finding any rubber. Please help with finding something to use for this hammer. Also I know that the hammers had hard maple helves but what other woods would work for this use.
ie.. hickory, ash. locust, osage...ect Perry
   Perry McLemore - Tuesday, 08/13/02 05:08:09 GMT

Mike HR
With the hossfeld the technique is to put the piece in place, bend, advance the piece a little and bend again untill you have your curve all nice and consistant. Sometimes you get to flip it end for end to even things up.
If you are impatient and want to do it in a single sweep, you may have to get fancy about the shape of your mandril. I'm assuming that you have played with different pin placements and mandril sizes. Your pushing roller may be too far from the work.
When you get really frustrated, remember that the devil gets the smith that works cold iron..or doesn't join the cybersmiths.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 08/13/02 05:12:22 GMT

Stainless. Chris, Stainless should do well but it is difficult to work (can't or does not cut well with a torch). It also has a much greater coefficient of expansion than carbon steel so things tend expand more than you expect when they get hot.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/13/02 06:36:34 GMT

Bradley Rubber Cushions: Perry, Check the Power hammer Page manufacturer's list. Bruce Wallace is the parts agent for Bradley. Bradley parts are still available but they are made to order. Save the remains of your old parts because the details are available but identifying which parts fits exactly which hammer is tough. Bradley made hammers for a LONG time and many parts changed.

New England Rock Maple is still available and is the best for high stress wood parts. The majority of it goes to making high class furniture and musical instruments. The necks, bodies and backs of violins, viols and basses are made of high grade maple. You generaly have to order it through an exotic, music or cabinett grade wood supplier.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/13/02 06:47:15 GMT

Its 2:30 AM here. . will have to make those bender drawings in the morning. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/13/02 06:48:10 GMT

would anyone know about the specific techniques for forge-welding low-carbon stainless steel and mild steel in a regular coke forge or a gas forge? i know it can be done in an atmosphere-controlled furnace, but i was wondering if an alternative method existed.
thanks very much,
   arnon - Tuesday, 08/13/02 18:23:46 GMT

your Montgomery Ward forge is probably a "Lakeland". I have one that fits your description and the brass plate on the blower reads "Lakeland Brand, Montgomery Ward".

I tried the wheeled anvil stand for about a year before I took them off and got a 2 wheel dolly. Much more stable and secure without the wheels.
   Brian C - Tuesday, 08/13/02 18:48:53 GMT

Welding Stainless: Arnon, You start with CLEAN metal. You need to remove passivated (acid treated) surfaces from stainless. Then you use a flux with Flourite (flourspar) powder. About 5% to 10% in borax. Standard fluxes are not agressive enough to disolve the chrome oxide. Then you forge weld as you normally would in the same fire. If you have trouble forge welding carbon steel then you need to practice before trying stainless.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/13/02 18:58:08 GMT

Lakeland: That is an in-house brand name like Sears "Kenwood", now "Kenmore". It means nothing. Someone else still made it.

mike-hr . . working on your drawing and photos now.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/13/02 19:00:51 GMT

I realize that Lakeland was the house brand name. Have not been able to find out who actually made them.
   Brian C - Tuesday, 08/13/02 19:14:50 GMT

Guru, could I get a copy of the drawing you're sending mike-hr? Since I do a lot of cold bending I think I have it in my head but I want to be sure. Thanks, Smitty
   smitty - Tuesday, 08/13/02 19:45:59 GMT

I'm a little unclear as to spike, band and spike. Could you explain a little further please?
   Bond, James Bond - Tuesday, 08/13/02 21:48:08 GMT

Benders 3 (link): Mike-HR and Smitty. The drawing is posted with photos of another bender and added to our 21st Century page series on benders.

For low quantities or depending on the bar size being bent you might be able to the step 1 bend without a bending handle OR with the help of a scroll wrench.

It takes some experimenting with spring back to get cold bending to work and the testing MUST be done with the exact material you are going to be using (often down to the batch). The more severe a bend is, that is the more the material is yielded, the less of a problem spring back is. But it is a major problem in large radius bends.

If you want parts to be exactly the shape of the jig then you need fully annealed low carbon material OR heat the part in place on the jig. But heating adds a lot of fuel cost that can be saved by some experimentation.

For methods of anchoring to your weld platen see the very creative ideas in the "cheap tools" demo by Sean Conner. The diagonal bar in the hole is a GREAT idea.

Brian, I appologige for sounding the way I did. I got in a hurry and was bad mannered. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/13/02 21:54:09 GMT

What type of steel is cable made of. should a cable knife be quenched in water, or oil? Thanks a lot.
   - Kevin - Tuesday, 08/13/02 23:05:44 GMT


Most of the forges sold through Sears and Montgomery Ward were made by either Buffalo Forge, or Champion. The two CD's of their catalogs have MANY pictures of the different ones.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 08/13/02 23:37:13 GMT

Thanks a million, Guru! the lever thing i made looks exactly like your U-bolt bender, it will adapt easily to the fixture. the UPS guy will be delivering you a cold one.... mike
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 08/13/02 23:55:17 GMT

Bond,James Bond, You have six 4x6 pieces to make your stump. Lay one down on its six inch side take another and lay on top of that and drill a couple of pilot holes and drive 30 penny nails into them, take your third 4x6 and nail it on next, you now have three 4x6s nailed together, then lay aside. Do the same for the next three. I then took four bar clamps to hold the two pair of three 4x6s together and had 1"x1/8" flat bar cut to make two straps on each side, lay them a third in from each end and spike the bar down (pre-drill the flat bar). Now you could drill all the way thru and pull it all together with all thread but I used what I had at home.
   - Robert-ironworker - Wednesday, 08/14/02 00:47:12 GMT

what are the options open to a 16 yo to begin training
   T. Malchow - Wednesday, 08/14/02 01:41:37 GMT

No problem. I checked the Champion and the Buffalo CD's and couldnt find anything close to the "Lakeland". Sometime I will take a photo and send to you and Paw Paw for identification.
   Brian C - Wednesday, 08/14/02 02:06:49 GMT

Guru, I asked for a source for plans for a flypress, what I get is an intergalactic chicken little rant. I knew it was complicated, hence the request for a pointer to plans. If I want to end time and matter (energy death) I would just buile one outa scrap! I will check out the used market, but come-on, the sky is not falling.......(dare I say: grin)
   - Tim - Wednesday, 08/14/02 02:10:30 GMT

Thanks, I appreciate it, THAT was a good description.
   Bond, James Bond - Wednesday, 08/14/02 02:22:39 GMT

Tim, That's the point, build one from scrap and the sky most likely will fall. . . on you! The dynamics of stoping by stretching a heavy frame and then reversing the flywheel of a flypress is very complicated and difficult task. Maybe I did get carried away.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/14/02 03:27:05 GMT

I have a self contained pneumatic forging hammer ( Sayha )that is lag bolted to a pair of 10" oak timbers which are bolted together and sitting on two oak 2"x4" skids at the outer edges of the timbers. I have been thinking that the hammer is a few inches low for my height and it would be beneficial to eliminate the skids and have the weight of the hammer bearing on a solid wood base to distribute the load on my concrete shop floor. My idea for a new 13" tall base is to laminate plywood together on the flat using woodworking glue and no fasteners. I might even embed nut plates for the hammer to bolt to and make the bottom few layers of plywood wider to serve as a flange to bolt the entire assembly to the floor, possibly with a rubber pad between. My reasoning in using the plywood is that it will
provide a solid, flat and void free base and also dampen some of the vibration transmitted to the floor. Any advice on this base design would be greatly appreciated.
thank you

   chris smith - Wednesday, 08/14/02 04:02:18 GMT

Good Guru;
I have a log of slightly green walnut wood. Since I will end up with the right length scrap...would it make good hammer handles? Not much hickory around here.
And, how enduring is the lighter colored sapwood for construction purposes. It's pretty hard stuff, but will it get buggy?
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 08/14/02 06:19:03 GMT

Chris, It sounds like a good plan. A couple pieces of heavy plate in the pile wouldn't hurt. Hammers need a solid foundation but the anvil should have some give in order to give the blow time to penetrate. The reason deep wood foundations are used on large hammers is the dampened springyness of the wood. The anvil moves down and should return with each stroke.

The only change I can suggest is that the bottom layer be perforated with fairly large holes (say three inches). This will make the bottom the most compressable and let it conform better to the uneveness of the concrete. You may want to do the same where there is a layer of rubber.

Rubber is technicaly an incompressable liquid (like water). If it doesn't have anywhere to go it can be as stiff as steel. This property of rubber is used in punch press work to punch holes in difficult places like the sides of tubes and to do other forming jobs.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/14/02 06:41:06 GMT

Walnut: Pete, walnut varies in density and hardness depending on where it grows like (sugar) maple. But I've made handles for chisles and some hammers out of relatively soft walnut that grew along a creek bank and they have held up very well.

Use varnish or a drying oil (boiled linseed oil) to finish handles. Otherwise your hands will get walnut stained. . .

Walnut splits very cleanly. This is the best way to blank out handles as it assures the grain runs straight with the handle.

The white sap wood is not quite as hard as the dark inner wood but it is pretty good wood. However, my observation is that is rots when exposed to the elements.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/14/02 06:54:49 GMT

Hey Guru.... question regarding the MICHINERY's HANDBOOK... what edition do you recommend purchasing.. I checked out, via the local library, the 26th edition... Hmmmm lots of good stuff but not so much on Smithing.. unless I skimmed over it.
I wanna purchase one for my smithing understanding and knowledge base. sooooooo which edition is best recommended? is ther one edition best of all?
   - skater - Wednesday, 08/14/02 13:48:13 GMT


Anything prior to the 18th edition. I've got a 10th edition, and a 17th. The 10th has a little more about smithing than the 17th, but not much.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 08/14/02 14:36:37 GMT

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK: Skater, The older editions have many of the same articles with more details and then some articles are no longer. The only "blacksmithing" articles are those on power hammer foundations, forge floors, forge air supply for multiple forges and a tongs dimensions chart. These have been shortened and the tongs chart is no longer in the new editions. They also used to have a detailed article on babbit and a general article on Thermit welding.

However, the OTHER related articles that should interest you or are handy around any metal working shop are: heat treating, heat treating equipment, alloys and tool steels, drill sizes and sharpening, steel beam dimensions and weights, material densities, coloring metals, units conversions, trig charts (solutions of right triangles), measuring and measuration (volumes), reading drawings and MANY others. . .

Often people only see the many charts when they flip through a reference like MACHINERY'S but there are also many readable articles that are worth while. The very latest editions are more up to date on some of the newer tool steels while the earliest editions were written before many of the common tool steels were created and designations standardized.

If you want MACHINERY'S as a heat treating reference then you want an edition from the mid seventies UP. But if you are looking for the early articles on from the 1950's will still have most. The earliest edition MACHINERY'S was very mush like todays and MANY of the articles are the same. Changes in each edition were very minor and only reflect the established changes in shop technology. It is difficult to tell any one edition from the previous.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/14/02 14:37:24 GMT

Fly Presses:

Darn! Frame failure or other massive distortion occurs before the universe collapses! There goes my blackmail scheme for when I become in international (or intergalactic) criminal mastermind.

I'm Back:

...and I've finally caught up on the back postings. I'm back from Florida last week (on vacation visiting relatives, but squeezed in two National Parks: Ft. Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, 70 miles out from Key West, and Castillo San Marco in St. Augustine.) As for wrought iron's resistance to a corrosive environment, it's all relative. They installed massive iron plates in the fort's masonry to reenforce the gun ports. These have rusted, expanded, and spalled off the masonry all around the fort. It's amazing the pressure that something like rusting metal can exert.

For pictures of the largest masonry structure in North America (16,000,000 bricks!) Go to: http://www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm .

I'm presently on a detail to the Department, plus we're having our NPS office moved to another building this weekend, so I may be a little slow in followup for the next couple of weeks.

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 08/14/02 15:16:14 GMT

I am looking for a copy of Machinist's Handbook, 24th Edition. Can you help?
   Marshall Klimasewiski - Wednesday, 08/14/02 15:32:47 GMT

Tim, the good Guru is just trying to grab your attention. I had never seen a flywheel press in person until last month, when I went to a meeting at Kayne's. Impressive is an understatement. I had some experience with treadle hammers, JYH's, Little Giants, and air hammers. Most of them will reduce a 2x4 into scrap in less than a dozen blows with flat dies. A fireplace-sized cast iron frame flywheel press will turn the end of a railroad tie into matchsticks in two strokes. Unbelievable power and much faster than I expected. Frame stress is enormous. NOT a good DIY project out of I beams. Smaller manual flypresses have been mostly replaced by hydraulic bottle jack or powered units.
   John McPherson - Wednesday, 08/14/02 15:53:57 GMT


Try ABE books at:

   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 08/14/02 17:01:25 GMT

Old Machinery's Marshall, A search on bookfinder.com will return a bunch. . no less than three dozen copies a few minutes ago. Most are old (11th Ed) but several were later. there was a 20th, and two 25's. . . If they don;t have the edition you are looking for this week then try next.


I used to use bibliofind until Amazon.com bought them out and the system went all to pieces. . . I've recently purchased books from all over the country and from England and Australia through bookfinder.

Flypresses: Yep, and those presses at Kayne's are for sale.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/14/02 17:05:30 GMT

NEWBIE Hand tools: being a semi experienced newbie I have read and gleaned tool information from some of the older archives. I have determined that buying tools from low cost manufactures; (i.e. Harbor Freight, Chicago Electric, Central Hydraulics.. etc just to name a few) in NOT the thing to do. I understand they wear-out, tear-out, and even break-out (pun intended) quicker, thus having to purchase tools more often.

my question might be a bit silly ,,,, but HEY!!.. life is full of SILLYness. My thoughts are, and I welcome all good, bad, or lean and mean criticism, ..... my thoughts are to build up, rather than buy (since thats what smithing is all about..."building your own tools") round and/or square punches, flatteners, top fullers, any thing that requires a mass of steel connected to a handle, and etc..

thoughts are ... I'd buy the steel mass already split and handled .... such as starting with a lower cost $3.50 Harbor Freight 3 or 4 pound sledge and then MIG-weld various tips, edges, fullers, shapers, or other such metal to one side of the sledge, whilst the other side is used to hammer on. thus creating my newbie tools.

is this a poor idea? not worth all the effort? should I simply go purchase known good steel ... jump-it up, upset-it totally, and/or fuller it out to my desired and required tools set?

Just thought I'd get a jump start on my newbie tools.. geeeeeeezzzz I gotta make my first-set of TONGS FIRST... Hmmmmmm I think a forge might be in order too..

any comments?

   - skater - Wednesday, 08/14/02 17:16:21 GMT

Skater: Go to iForge demo #132 for easy to make tongs. Then to iForge demo #143 for 5 more tools. All were made by a 10 year old blacksmith.

The "getting started" section of Anvilfire will get you started and there is also information on Anvilfire on how to build the brake drum forge.

The best time to get started is on a day that ends in the letter "Y". Toda"y" is a good day.
   - Conner - Wednesday, 08/14/02 17:46:45 GMT

Tool Mods: Skater, First, striking (struck) surfaces must be softer than the usual hammer surface. They can either splinter possibly causing you or someone else injury AND OR damage your hammer. Proper tempering is required. If too soft the end mushrooms and you end up with the same problem.

Second, I've welded lots of tool together to make special tools but I do not recommend it for most heavy use blacksmithing tools. Welding tool steel can be tricky and if done wrong the weld zone can be very brittle and will fail. To do it properly on high stress tools the entire tool needs heat treatment after welding. A lot of tools can be made of mild or medium carbon steel where arc welding is more suitable.

I've found stainless rod very good for welding tools (and the SS blends with the chrome). And I've not had any luck with MIG and tool steel.

The general idea of recycling tools is good. A LOT of smiths buy all the old used hammers they can find at flea markets and reforge them to the desired shape, then heat treat them. The only problem is that you are dealing with unidentified tool steel that can range from medium carbon to high carbon as well as alloy steels. . . It is like making any tool from scrap, YOU become your own metalurgist and must determine the proper heat treatment.

On the iForge page we have several tongs demos from Sean Conner's super easy but primitive tongs up to specialized tongs with classic joints by Bill Epps.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/14/02 17:53:30 GMT

NEWBIE HAND TOOLS: yessss CONNER... thanks a bunch. I have read and re-read, printed out, studied and almost memorized #132 and #143. I plan on giving it a shot this weekend, if my time permits. 10 yr old SMITH? I've just gotta shake the hand of that feller. I am most postive I could learn a thing or three!...

just thought I'd cheat a bit with the purchasing of pre-made el'cheapo hammers, modifying (via MIG-welding) one side as a punch, hot and cold metal cutters/splitters, punches, fullers... etc..

   - skater - Wednesday, 08/14/02 17:56:12 GMT

Hello I was wondering how to clean up some tarnished brass. I tried to buff it w/a dremmel tool but it did not help.
thanks David
   David - Wednesday, 08/14/02 18:22:38 GMT

It's good to be a blue dude,
Thanks Jock
BTW the ITC 100 worked like a champ in my little freon bottle gasser.
   robcostello - Wednesday, 08/14/02 19:52:34 GMT


I frequently buy cheap hammers and such from the sources you name in order to make them into tools. Just remember the guru's advice.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Wednesday, 08/14/02 20:03:34 GMT

I am the proud owner of a kick press, you kick a big pedal to bring the press down. Could I use this for small blacksmithing object or should the press be motorized.
I would like to try some things I found on iforge
   dries van de voort - Wednesday, 08/14/02 20:07:54 GMT

forgot to mention it is a 1 tons (kg) press. Should I use a special metal for the dies?
   dries van de voort - Wednesday, 08/14/02 20:10:14 GMT

Dries, I'm not sure exactly what your press looks like. However for forging 1 ton is not very much in a press. If the press is designed for punch press work that is the force developed in the short distance necessary to punch a hole in thin sheet metal. As the force is absorbed for a longer distance such as in forging the "measure" of the force drops of dramatically.

The other thing you need to be aware of is that if the press uses a flywheel and crank mechanism then it may not be suitable for forging at all. Power hammers have linkage that compensates for the change in stroke as material is put under the dies. Punch presses go a certain distance and return. If they are prevented from traveling their full stroke then something usualy breaks. Ocassionaly forging is done under punch presses but the machine must be very carefully rated. Due to variations in the force needed as the metal temperature changes the best way to rate presses is for cold work. This assures the press is not overloaded and damaged.

Dies for low production (thousands of pieces) in hot mild steel can be made of mild steel themselves. Anything better adds great durability. The greatest problem on forging dies is wear from scale. Scale is very hard and wears even the best steel. However, it is mostly a problem in "cavity" dies. That is, dies with depressions that scale collects in.

If you can send me a photo of the press I can tell you more about what can be done with it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/14/02 22:53:04 GMT

AUCTION: New item on the auction page. Forging Hammer by James Joyce.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/15/02 00:11:01 GMT

Guru,I am about buy a small forge...question about the NC wisper baby:how hard would it be to install the sheet metal guard? What about a wisper delux? I didn't find any review. Jeesun
   Jeesun - Thursday, 08/15/02 00:13:21 GMT

Jeesun, can't review hardware we don't have! The delux is very similar to the Whisper Momma except for the doors. However, the door with port and the end doors make the Whisper Momma models much more useful. The forges without are limited to the stock that fits inside the enclosed space.

The little guard I mentioned would only take a few minutes to make and install provided you had the sheet metal (a little piece about 4x10") and some sheet metal screws and a an electric drill. It just needs to be a flap that keeps hot exhust from rising from the rear door (when open) and being sucked into the burner intake.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/15/02 00:32:20 GMT

Thanks,Guru, I Still can't decide what I one.Wisper Mommma sounds really good for the money. Thank you always. Jeesun
   Jeesun - Thursday, 08/15/02 01:06:22 GMT


If I was buying, I'd buy the Whisper Momma, and I've used both.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 08/15/02 02:28:07 GMT

Auction hammer

Man, that is a pretty forging hammer. James Joyce did a great job on it.
   - Marcus - Thursday, 08/15/02 14:17:51 GMT

Ok, here's a quick one. If you were going to buy one drill bit set for a range of metals (say pure iron to 304 SS) for your drill press, what type would they be? Carbide, high speed, titanium coated, etc...?
And man is that a sweet hammer. I'd never have the heart to use it. :]
   Gronk - Thursday, 08/15/02 15:14:31 GMT


Jobber bits from your steel supplier. Usually HSS. They last just as long as the TIN coated, and are much cheaper. Most of the TIN coated are cheap bits to begin with, not well made, and not sharp. Gold colored crap is still crap.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 08/15/02 15:33:38 GMT

Got to admit that that is a sweet hammer. I've held it in my hand. It feels as good as it looks.

Only reason I'm not bidding is I've bought a couple of things at other auctions lately, and my red head is threatening to harm part of my anatomy. Fact, she threatend to tie a knot in it, and I don't think she was talking about my belt.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 08/15/02 15:45:47 GMT

Thanks Paw Paw. And does the Drill Doctor you raved about some months ago work well on these "Jobber" bits?
   Gronk - Thursday, 08/15/02 15:50:38 GMT


Yes. Works fine, and I use it regularly. Takes a little practice, but is well worth the money.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Thursday, 08/15/02 16:17:20 GMT

Drill Bits: Gronk, the quality of the materials, heat treating and grind vary tremondously in drill bits. There are a few reputable manufacturers but you will NOT find them at your local hardware store. Ace and Hanson bits are junk, even the high dollar gold "titanium" coated bits. I've had to purchase and use these when working in other's shops. They are NOT worth the money.

Consolidated HSS is one of the best and is what I buy. They come with the standard black finish and split point grind. Standard "jobber" length and stub length are available as well as extra long.

Good drill bits are ground with a tapered web. This is usualy a thinning of the last one fourth of the length. This produces less "dead center" (the straight non-cutting tip). In split point grind drill bits this is not needed but it SHOULD be there. The reason is that when you hand sharpen the bit you cannot reproduce the split point and you end up with an oversize dead center and a drill that takes unusualy high feed pressure to cut. The X brands listed above do not taper the web. If you have to resharpen by hand they are unusable junk.

Good drill bits also have a relief behind the leading edge of the spiral. Some brands have stopped doing this.

Solid carbide drill bits are VERY expensive and break very easily. They are impossible to correctly sharpen without an agressive diamond wheel. You only purchase solid carbide when absolutely necessary. Generaly they end up being one time use cutters. . VERY expensive.

The gold titanium coating DOES improve cutters but I have not found it on a reputable brand. But I have one VERY good supplier and I stick what I know to be the best.

Sets of bits should be bought with or IN metal drill indexes. The big all-in one indexes are expensive and difficult to use. Seperate fractional, number and letter indexes are best.

It pays to learn to hand sharpen drill bits. The last time I was at Paw-Paw's it was going to be a big deal to drag out his drill doctor and set it up. . . many of his bits were dull and I refused to use them. And when out of the shop you may not have access to a special sharpener.

Small drill bits are not worth trying to resharpen. Only the best professional (not a plastic housing home kit) drill sharpener is accurate enough to sharpen small bits (say 1/4" or less). One broken drill bit (or tap) stuck in a hole will cost you more than a whole new set of drill bits. . .

Small bench grinders with 6" diameter wheels are designed for TOOL SHARPENING, not snag grinding torch cut steel. The wheels should aways be kept dressed smooth or you cannot sharpen a drill bit. A small diamond dresser is the best way to do this. They only cost a little more than the big "star wheel" dressers and they last almost forever.

A good grinder kept properly maintained in a well lighted area and at a comfortable height is as important as the quality of the bits you buy.

If you don't have a good eye for the bit angle and edge widths there are little drill point gages made to measure and check the angle of the bit. Starrett and other precision tool makers supply them.

And in the end, even if you DO have a "Drill Doctor" it will be limited in its range. It is not unusal to end up with 3/4" and 1" (25mm) bits in a small shop. THESE you will need to learn to sharpen by hand.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/15/02 17:51:07 GMT

Glad to see someone bidding on that pretty hammer! I've had it here on my desk for several weeks and I would LOVE to be able to keep it . . .

As soon as this auction is ended we have another to run. A complete Victor Gas welding outfit (new)! Another item I would love to keep . . .
   - guru - Thursday, 08/15/02 18:03:01 GMT

Wow, what a hammer. I have to agree with Gronk, even if I could afford it, I couldn't use it, just don't have the heart.
   Bond, James Bond - Thursday, 08/15/02 20:00:32 GMT

I picked up the drill Doc last may ... got to say I should have bought it years ago. I can and do sharped dill bits by hand. but I find that the drill doc does a better job, and is quicker than I am. the only thing I have found is that if the drill is chiped I resharpen my hand then dress the point on the Doc. (it sharpens but its won't recut a point)
as to drill bits I like the cobalt drills from MSC they work better than HSS in higher carbon steels and in HI alloy steels they don't mind brass or nickel, and do a fine job in SS, (so long as it is anealed) the are a bit harder than HSS but not as hard as carbide so they don't crack as offten but will still drill work hardening steels. the price isn't to bad as they out last (at least in my shop) HSS bits (I have a 1/4 drill that is on its 200th or so hole in mild and hasn't been sharpened yet)
the only advice I have on the drill Doc is to buy the 750 or at the lest the 500 , the 500 will do split points and sharpen up to 1/2 bits the 750 will do up to 3/4.
   MP - Thursday, 08/15/02 20:19:41 GMT

NC-gas forges: all the pictures I see of gas forges, like the NC-MOMMA, DADDY and baby are all closed doors pictures. What kinda insulation or refractory material is on the inside of them hummers? is it a combination of fire-brick and KAO-WOOL? or possibly CERAMIC MORTAR and lots of ITC-100? or even just plain EXTRA THICK 8pound KAO-WOOL?
are the exterior metal sides cheap tin or are they made of 1/4 steel plate?

I can't to seem to find a picture of the insides... can anyone elaborate at bit?
   - skater - Thursday, 08/15/02 20:59:26 GMT

Guru, this old Joe seeking your esteemed adivce.I need to
make some 4" diameter rings from 1/2" round steel rods. I
am at my wits end on how to make a simple jig to fabricate
these little critters. Do give the old man some ideas.Thanks
   Joe Greaves - Thursday, 08/15/02 21:21:30 GMT

Joe, Are you blacksmithing? The "jig" is a cone mandrel used after the ring is hogged and [welded?]. If it's forge welded, Pi x mean(average) diameter equals circumference. THEN add one times the stock thickness to allow for upsetting and scarf making. If you're not into all that, make it like a scroll form, maybe one half circle. Hold the hot end to the tool with visegrips or suchlike and bend one half. Flop it, and bend the other half. Fine tune on the anvil.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 08/15/02 21:41:06 GMT

NC-TOOL Forge Construction: Skater, They have a hard refractory floor and dense Kaowool type insulation for the side walls and roof. In my Whisper Baby the lining looks to be molded around a form. The only place the Kaowool is a problem is in the back directly in line with the front door notch. Bar ends tend to get poked into the insulation and tear it up. This was never a problem for me until I let a crew of Boy Scouts use it. . .

I should probably photograph mine before I give it a coat of ITC-100. Will do an article on doing same. Wanted Paw-Paw to come up and we would do two at once.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/15/02 21:47:55 GMT


If youneed to make a reasonable number of those rings, you can wrap the rod around a piece of pipe like you were going to make a big coil spring. when you have enough wraps, you just take a circular saw with an abrasive blade in it and slice down the length of the coil, cutting the rings loose. twist the ends together and weld.

To get the right diameter may take a bit of experimenting to allow for the "springback" if you're bending cold. If you're bending hot, there isn't any springback. You can speed up and simplify the coiling process if you have a lot to do by slipping the mandrel pipe over another pipe that is held in the vise or fixed to the bench. then you can drill a couple of holes across from each other at one end, and one hole in the other end. the end of the 1/2" rod goes in the single hole to hold it to start the wrapping, and a stout piece of barstock goes through the holes in the other end to act as a handle to give you the leverage you need for cold bending. Hope this is clear enough, I can do this with one lil' sketch, but a whole bunch of words. :-)
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/15/02 22:02:29 GMT

Rings, Large and Small: Joe, if you are making a bunch of rings you may want to find a piece of pipe for a mandrel. Ring mandrels usualy have a starting dog to hold the starting end of the bar. You can bend hot or cold (it depends on the temper and carbon content of the steel as to wether you can do it cold.

Slip a piece of pipe around the bar and wind it around the mandrel. If doing hot a torch works well. Heat and bend until you run out of bar. Be sure when you start that there is room to swing the end of the bar.

After coiling up a "spring" remove the coil from the mandrel. Then hacksaw the rings off. It helps to clamp in a vise. This will give you many fairly uniform rings. remember that there is going to be a "flat" at the start, so line up your last coil and the cut line accordingly.

If you are only making a couple I just cut the stock and start bending on the horn of the anvil or more often in a swage block. Or you can use a jig as Frank suggests (see our bender article). "Eyeball" the roundness and adjust on the anvil horn. Closed and welded rings are fairly easy to adjust. Unwelded rings are a bear so the fisrt method works best for those.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/15/02 22:40:27 GMT

Jock, hold on till after the Epps Hammerin, and we'll do it that way. We should take before and after pictures, too.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 08/15/02 23:41:18 GMT

Thanks for the demo on anvil stands, very informative, and illustrated too.
Do you know, after all that conversation, and then that demo, I ended up finding a perfect stump not 200 yard from my house? Geez....Still, thanks for all your help.
   Bond, James Bond - Friday, 08/16/02 01:14:12 GMT

yard, should be yards.....groan
   Bond, James Bond - Friday, 08/16/02 01:15:37 GMT

Yards or Meters. . ? ;)

A stump will set better if you slightly dish out the center of the bottom. That way it will not ride on high spots and tip back and forth.

Where the anvil sets should also be fitted to the bottom of the anvil. Usualy neither log or anvil have flat mating surfaces. Some anvils have considerable hollows in the bottom (as I suggested for your stump) but many are mostly flat, or approximately so.
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 01:40:07 GMT

Thats a pretty good idea. This one, amazingly enough, is pretty flat and square on both ends, but I like the idea of dishing out the stump, I had planned to dish out the anvil a little bit.(Disc grinder is easier to come by than a chainsaw..it is also going to be sitting on some pretty sandy ground, so I hope that will take care of any little imperfections that exist.
But I ramble.....just getting a little excited about getting everything set up, and making some noxious fumes to annoy my neighbors...tee hee
meters? Yeah, you know, I'm working on converting all of my micrometers, and scales to that, but just can't seem to get in inscribing on the barrels just right......guess I'll never get to work for Starrett huh? Bummer..
   Bond, James Bond - Friday, 08/16/02 03:24:34 GMT

Would like to know a way to build and 1/2" sq.bar twister.Maybe information as to where to find how to build one.
   Houston Cotton - Friday, 08/16/02 04:23:21 GMT

A coarse flap wheel ( appx $%) in a disk grinder will remove wood pretty fast. Be reluctant to grind on your anvil.
RE finding a stump so near home.. being a scrounger at heart reduces the cost of entry to BS.
When re calibrating your micrometers and rulers, it helps not to drink a lot of coffee beforehand.
   - Pete F - Friday, 08/16/02 04:55:46 GMT

Metric Mics: I recently bought a beautiful Digital set by mistake. New Starretts. Tried to sell them a couple times and got no takers. So I sent them as a gift to Kiwi. Knowing my luck he will move to the US and have little use for them. . .

My good digital 0-1 mics broke a spindle in the digital mechanism. . Wrong lubrication and cold weather. . my fault. $80 to repair. .

Actually the metric mics should be found in almost every machinists tool chest even if everything their shop does is English (and most US shops STILL ARE). The reason? Bearings have long been metric and even when everything else in a gear box or on a shaft is English the bearing bores and journals are metric. . . But since I rarely do machine work anymore I thought it a waste to keep them hidden in my tool chest.
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 05:37:40 GMT

Houston, Your question was answered in a little less than an hour after you asked it the first time. Things move fast here.

Look UP. Or click on the forum area and CTRL-F keyword "twister".
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 05:42:14 GMT

Esteemed Guru; when I had my shop built, I had the contractor set a drain crock in the concrete floor where I had determined my anvil should be located. A neighbor was in the process of having a 14" diameter hickory tree removed, so I pounced on a 4' piece of the trunk and drug it home, and chipped the bark off of it. I then stood it on end down in the crock and poured concrete around it up flush with the floor. After the concrete had set up, I determined knuckle-draggin' height, plus about an inch and sawed it off level. I then set the anvil back on it and traced around the base with a Magic Marker, fired up the ol' router and proceeded to recess the log about an inch deep to fit. The anvil sits in there just cozy as you please, and doesn't even move around much. The 300+ lbs of hickory doesn't move much, either. Regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Friday, 08/16/02 06:20:48 GMT

Hi all, I just need a few answers about the forge running in my backyard. My dad helped me gather quite a bit of refractory bricks from the factory he use to work at, now...I would like to ask whether it's ok with just the refactory bricks or do I need some sort of insulation? (I don't think Kaowools available in Oz)
I would also like to know where to place the tuyere, right now it's not very affective. I'm also concerned about the platform to which the coal rests on, i'm afraid it might heat up and possibly melt. It's a piece of steel plate that I found at the scrap yard with a hole cut into it and some stainless steel mesh covering that hole so that the air passes through from my blower, is it a big concern?

Thanks in advanced
   Nicholas - Friday, 08/16/02 07:01:36 GMT


I am in awe. That's the way to do it right, sort of like having the shop built around the stump. ;-)

I've had my 100 kilo on a "temporary" stand for a decade now. Every time we have some timbering on the farm the leftovers are too short, smashed or otherwise too deep in the swamp to move without major equipment. We have some timbering coming up, and I think maybe I'll have some "stumpage" written into the contract.

Whisper Baby:

I have only had a couple of chances to fire up in the last month or so. At the end of one session, I noticed water dripping from the bottom of the casing. I will assume that this is a combustion by-product as in "water vapor and carbon dioxide." Is this normal? Is it the result of our fabled humidity, or too rich (reducing) a blend? My concern is that this will lead to rust or other problemms with the case or the insulation. of course, I have rust problems with the firpot of the coal forge, due to slack water, too.

My wife has concurred on a name for the gas forge. We're going to call it "The Balrog".

Cloudy (rain? please?) and humid on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 08/16/02 13:27:45 GMT

FORGE LINING: PAW-PAW and GURU... I'd sure like to see the before and after pictures that you take. I think that would be a great a asset to the archives.

Maybe even a demo er three on forges, how to trick them out, build them back up , and/or proper maintance for better forging results.

just a thought...
   - skater - Friday, 08/16/02 13:35:34 GMT

What thickness, alloy, and any other stuff should I know about when ordering bronze sheet to make a necklace of twisted leaves (this is first time)?
   - J - Friday, 08/16/02 14:54:46 GMT

Skater, That is the idea. We need to invite a friend down for the re-line day that has a forge with flux eaten floor and mouse and bird eaten walls. . . yeah, they both like to build nests out of Kaowool. ITC-100 will prevent the munchies. . so will a piece of brick in the door vent.

OZZY Forge Nicholas, No problem mate! The refractory brick is over kill for a coal forge. You could have it setting directly on the steel plate. But that SS mesh may not hold up. Kaowool is usualy used to build gas forges, kilns and furnaces that have an enclosure.

Coal Forges with bottom blast usualy have a "fire pot" like a 2 liter cook pan or wok to create a deep fire in the middle. See the firepot photos on the Kayne and Son page.

You can do the same by arranging your bricks around the tuyere. Loose un-mortared bricks are great to experiment with and work well in the long run too.

Many British smith like a "side blast" forge. This has a deep coal bed and a tuyere that blows air from the side. these are often water cooled tuyeres because they extend out into the fire bed and can easily melt or burn up. Ancient forges used ceramic tubes for the tuyere. These are not as durable as metal but they can take the heat.

Kaowool (or a similar product) is available in Australia but you may find it hard to purchase as it is an industrial product. But you don't need it. . .
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 15:00:38 GMT

Water Dripping from Gas Forge: Bruce, this is common when firing up a gas forge for the first time in a long while. The water has been absorbed from the air OR from exhust product if the forge has been run for very short periods. Folks that run their forges regularly rarely, if ever, see water dripping.

The water in the refractory brick turns to steam and as it travels through the refractory it condenses in the cold outer part of the refractory and runs out. My big gas forge drips several ounces of water on first firing after a long period of disuse.

This could contribute to rust. However, you usualy run the forge long enough to drive out all the water so there is usually none accumulated.

On forges with brick or castable shells the same thing occurs on the top and sides but the water does not flow UP so it just turns to steam.

This is one reason I build my foges with bar grating supporting the floor. Water is not trapped and there is plenty of ventilation.
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 15:17:12 GMT

Does anyone do jewelry metalworking here?
   - J - Friday, 08/16/02 15:20:04 GMT

Brass Necklace J, That should be up to you. How heavy do you want it to be? I would use .030" to .040" (1mm) thick material. This is heavy enough that after the edges are rounded there will be no sharp feel to the leaves.

But this is heavy enough material that it will be difficult to cut with snips. If you don't have heavy bench shears or a suitable saw to cut the thick material then you might want to use .020" to .024" (0.5mm) material.

Blacksmiths commonly forge leaves out of steel or brass bar stock (see our iForge leaf demos). 1/4" or 3/8" diameter brazing rod can be forged to make a nice jewelery sized leaf. Heat with a propane torch and forge until it starts to work harden and then heat and work some more. Be sure to hold the work with tongs as brass conducts heat much faster than steel and there is almost no length long enough to hold the "cool" end. There is a nice article in Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork on forging jewlery from 1/4" brazing rod. I have also seen some very nice jewelery made from small brazing rod welded together to make butterflies and such.
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 15:33:26 GMT

Jewelry, YES but we are primarily blacksmiths here. And welders and sculptors and. . .
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 15:39:14 GMT

Alloys for jewelery: Generaly it doesn't matter unless you are trying to match something perfectly in color. Brass sheet and bar is more common than bronze and works about the same. Most copper alloy jewelery is made from any yellow brass. I've often bought .032" brass shim stock for this purpose because it was available localy.

Recently Atli has informed me that in archeology they now group all copper alloys together since there was so much recyling that many "bronzes" had zinc and "brasses" had tin that the alloys are often hard to distinguish. Given a triangular pecentage map with copper, tin and zinc you can put early alloys all over the map.
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 15:51:36 GMT


And don't forget lead bronze, just to muddy the mixture.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 08/16/02 19:05:26 GMT

FORGE DESIGN and RE-line: if the interior floors are made outta refactory mortar and the walls and ceiling are lined with KOA-WOOL, how does the wool stay put? is there some ssorta pinning/steel studding present or are they ITC-100 glued?

what about the metal that holds it all together? how thick is it? is it sheet thin sheet metal or possibly 1/8 or 1/4 inch plate?
   - skater - Friday, 08/16/02 19:21:48 GMT


Paw-Paw sent me here. My question: I have an old anvil marked as follows: "M&H"; Armitage; Hole; Mouse; 014.

I know the 014 is the weight (90#?) from somewhere. Each semicolon represts a new line. I'd like to know the approx. age/history/where to go for history/ and why there are two 3/4 inch holes in the base under the face, one at each end. What are they for? This anvil is not for sale, I do not want worth/value as I am an old guy and don't intend to sell it.

Thank you for your time.

Les Whitaker
   Les Whitaker - Friday, 08/16/02 20:20:32 GMT

ITC and TESTING: I have run the second ITC/borax test and posted it on demo #142. Dissapointing results. Please check it out.

Forge Lining: Skater, Kaowool and similar products come in rigidized "board" products that are self supporting to an extent. No they are not glued in. In some of the larger forges (4 burner) the ceilings have trouble with sagging. The trouble is that they lose strength at high temperatures like almost all materials.

I just sent a fellow a kit of stainless hardware, Kaowool and ITC-100 and instructions to repair a Mankle forge he has had trouble with the ceiling sagging. He has relining materials and is going to hang the ceiling with deep countersunk bolts and fender washers. The counterbores will be filled strengthened with ITC-100, filled with Kaowool and then sealed in with ITC-100. If it works out we will be offering kits with the stainless hardware and Kaowool patch.

When large furnaces are built with Kaowool linings anchors that protrude in about an inch are welded to the walls and ceilings and the blanket pushed over them. They make special anchors for this but my foundry supplier says most folks use nails. There is also a glue available.

The shells of these small forges vary in thickness but most are relatively light sheet steel. There is no need to put flexible light weight refractories in a heavy box. Folks that built with heavy pipe are over building simply because the pipe is convienient. Kilns and furnaces lined with solid refractory need to have heavy frames to support the refractory, especially for shipping and handling. Often they have a heavy frame (angle iron corners) with the spaces between filled with sheet metal.

The little furnace I posted a photo of two weeks ago is made from a freon bottle. The wall thickness is about 18ga. Freon bottles are THIN! It took about 2 hours for the exterior to get hot enough to discolor the paint. . Its an ugly brown now instead of the pretty turquoise. I've repainted the lid with high temperature black paint which is holding up fine.
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 21:30:31 GMT

guru, what are the benifits of membership to anvilfire and how does one apply for it. Thanks, boneman
   boneman - Friday, 08/16/02 21:37:59 GMT

Les, More can be told visualy from the style than any other way. But M&H Ammitage was one of the later owners of Mouse Hole forge. Probably late 1800's Early 1900's. The two holes in the waist are handling holes for porter bars or big tongs used in manufacturing the anvil. There is often one of these square holes in the bottom.

If you want the history of Mouse Hole Forge (M&H Armitage was just one of a long line of owners) you will want to purchase Anvils in America (see our book review page). If you can wait about 2 years the author is writing a detailed history of Mouse Hole Forge.
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 21:40:07 GMT

Boneman: Click on the link at the bottom of this page "CSI Members Group"

The biggest benefit is keeping anvilfire around. All this "free" information (like 145 iForge demos, 25 editions of the NEWS) is not without cost. Anvilfire is undoubtedly the most expensive blacksmithing site on the Internet to maintain. Besides a full time guru, a dedicated server is required to handle our services and the amount of traffic we generate. We recently outgrew our old server and had it upgraded with a larger disk drive. I expect we will have to do the same again in the spring doubling our server costs. The "full time" aspect also means an office full of computer equipment and all the costs of supporting that.

The CSI membership has kept things going for another year but just barely. We need triple the current membership to stay viable. Otherwise, one day you may try to find anvilfire and get the "Domain not found" error. . .
   - guru - Friday, 08/16/02 22:11:24 GMT


The biggest advantage of becoming a member of Cyber Smiths International (CSI), the Anvilfire members grup is that it supports this website financially and keeps it here. Thousands of people get their questions answered here, yet far too few join up to support this great site. Without the support of members and select advertisers, no site this involved could possibly be maintained for long. Jock puts in long hours 7 days a week keeping this site alive and well. The rest of us join CSI to support that effort.

There are other benefits such as discounted prices in the Anvilfire store, free touchmark registry for CSI members, and probably others I don't even know about. I'm just a member of CSI, not an official representative of this site, by the way. I can say in all honesty that my membership has been worth many times its cost!
   vicopper - Friday, 08/16/02 22:27:57 GMT

thank you very much for the tip on forge-welding stainless. as to mild steel- i have been forging mild to tool steel for many years; what i really would like to do is forge weld stainless to mild steel and to hi-carbon steel. will the same kind of flux (fluorite to 5% - 10% borax) work for stainless-to carbon steel forge-welding?
thanks a lot,
   arnon - Saturday, 08/17/02 02:06:20 GMT

Yes. But its 5 to 10% flourite, balance borax.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/17/02 03:29:00 GMT

Thanks for the info on bronze, ill look into it.
   - J - Saturday, 08/17/02 03:36:07 GMT

Hi! Please forgive me, as this isn't a question regarding metalworking as my hobby/vocation. i am trying to find the following, and this seemed like the most likely resource to begin my search.
I am making "quik-crete" paw-print stepping stones to acknowledge donors to our animal shelter, as well as for sale a memorials (for fundraising). i've been imprinting the names with a plain screwdriver, but it's tedious and the letters, while neat, aren't as professional and even as I would like. Is there anywhere I might purchase the individual letters of the alphabet set as though on small branding irons? They would ideally be 1/2 to 3/4" inch high. Is this something that exists? It's so much easier to impress the semi-hard concrete than to try to "Dremel" engrave it. Thanks for your time...
   Maureen Rodriguez - Saturday, 08/17/02 06:28:55 GMT

This is Old Joe saying thanks to all my cyberland

brothers for advice on the the fabrication of the 4"

diameter rings. Keep up the good work.

Old Joe.
   Joe Greaves - Saturday, 08/17/02 09:57:45 GMT


Check with your local monument (gravestone) company. They use plastic or metal letters like that to mark the rubber sandblast mat for cutting. They may have an old set they would sell/give you since these days most of them use CAD/CAM outfits to cut the stencils. You could also check a sign supply house, but you need "reverse" (read backwards)letters with what is called "draft", or taper, to them so that they leave a clean impression. Scott Plastics used to make these, and may still.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/17/02 11:47:35 GMT

Maureen, The Leather Factory sells sets of letter stamps: www.leatherfactory.com. I have a set with letters 11/16" tall. Their retail stores are in many large cities.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 08/17/02 12:43:08 GMT

Brass and Bronze

I happened to look up "brass" in the OED. It says that the word "bronze" has "recently" been adopted to distinguish copper/tin alloys. Before that any copper alloy was "brass." Not quite sure what OED means by "recently," but they refer to the word "bronze" being described as "new" in 1755-73!

I would have thought bronze was the older word, but I guess no one knew they were living in the bronze age until the archaeologists told them so. Actually the "bronze" entry says that word was first used to describe ancient works of art, so the archaeologists are giving up a distinction they created in the first place.
   Mike B - Saturday, 08/17/02 12:48:00 GMT

Mike, I have visited a lot of historical metallurgy sites (archeaometallurgy) and discovered that many archeologists, while demanding that ALL ancient sites be preserved for their EXCLUSIVE use, don't know diddly-squat about metallurgy, ancient or modern. Iron, steel, bronze, brass...who cares, just make sure you make it sounds authoritative and get it published in a prestegious publication. Of course, it doesn't help that there was no convention on the choice of terms 2000 years ago and writers were free to call a metal almost anything. Anyway, do a search on "archeometallurgy" and you will find some interesting sites. Wear hip boots,though, as they tend to be pretty pompous!
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/17/02 13:46:17 GMT

Welding Stainless to Mild Steel. One small caution: the stainless has very low carbon but, usually, very high chromium. Because it is low carbon, and has been solution heat treated, it has very few chromium carbides. When you weld mild steel to stainless, the carbon in the mild steel will combine with the chromium in the stainless and make chromium carbides right on the fusion line. Chromium carbides are harder than $9 worth of jaw breakers and can make the weld very brittle and susceptible to cracks and corrosion.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/17/02 14:03:58 GMT

The Problem with Archeology is that it is too multi-discipline. In trying to understand the past archeologists try to understand every aspect of life and technology that there is usualy no current knowlege. Many of these life aspects were very detailed and highly developed. When they go to an "expert", that person has their modern frame of reference as well as modern knowledge which may color their explanation of something.

In the distant past there were many specialists just as their are today. In any specialty there is often detailed knowledge that is not recorded for others to understand. You would think that to be less true today than in the distant past but it is not. Today there are many more specialties with their archane methods. And just as in the past those methods may be considered "trade secrets" and passed only to family members as these things have since the begining of time.

In blacksmithing, we as a group have tried to learn from past mistakes and share all knowledge lest it be lost again. However, there are many fields that have not learned this lesson and knowledge is kept secret or there is no attempt to share the knowledge. The making of musical instruments is one of these fields. Although there are many books on certain instruments due to the popularity of making them, there are many instruments that there are no books or they are VERY rare.

Most people think that musical instruments are like anything else today, that they are made in factories where the details of construction are well known and you will always be able to go to the music store and buy one. This is far from the case. It is true of a few instruments but there are a large number that are made by small family businesses where many details of construction are tightly held "trade secrets". And many of the very best that are made for orchestrial use are entirely hand made by a very few individuals with much special knowledge.

Consider the seemingly simple musical instrument string. The very best for many types of instrument are gut strings. No synthetic has come close to replacing gut and you will not find the plastics industry putting money into research to developing the perfect substitute and then manufacturing string in all the myrid sizes and constructions. A few small family businesses make the world's supply of gut strings. The detailed knowledge is considerable and it is one of those jobs most of us are glad someone else does it!

Gut strings are made from sheep intestines washed and sorted by hand. Then they are processed and cut into narrow strips while still fresh. Small diameter strings are stretched, dried, drawn through dies to size them then polished and coated with lacquer. Large strings are made from multiple pieces of fresh gut twisted into a gut "rope" ot twined. When stretched the pieces of gut conform to each other making what appears to be a solid piece. This is then dried, sized, polished and coated. Strings that need more mass have fine wire wound in an open spiral that looks like a spring inside the transparent gut. And those that need exceptional mass are wound with plated brass wire.

This seemingly simple part is created using a lot of specialized knowledge and even more specialized tools. The making of gut strings has changed little in over 2,500 years but much new technology has been applied in recent times. Very few detailed articles have been written on the subject and no books. Only a couple dozen people in the world know how to do it. Yet billions enjoy the fruits of their labors. Few musicologists or organologists (those that study the construction of musical instruments) know what I just described above from MY limited knowledge. How many archeologists do think would recognize a perfectly preserved "twined" gut string from 2,000 years ago (or longer) if one existed?

Luckly some of this is changing. Things that would not have a chance being published a few decades ago now have a home on the Internet. The following is a very good article.

Gut String Making by Daniel Larson

   - guru - Saturday, 08/17/02 17:56:16 GMT

Guru, Whew! Where does a blacksmith/machine designer learn about making gut strings? Is there something in your past you haven't shared with us? At any rate, your perspective is accurate. So many things about ancient technology is so esoteric, we usually fall back to chalking it up to "alien visitation" rather than giving credit to the humans of 5000 years ago. Like the blacksmith, they may not have totally understood the theory, but it did not prevent them from making a practical application that worked! I recall reading that the Egyptians were using batteries made from coconut shells, charcoal and citric acid to electroplate gold onto base metals thousands of years ago. Yep, dad-gummed aliens were everywhere back then!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/18/02 00:04:51 GMT

I thought after all the questions I ask, and all the time I spend on this page, I should help support it. So I did. Only semi, because who knows where I'll be in six months. Keep up the good work, love this site.
   Bond, James Bond - Sunday, 08/18/02 00:38:12 GMT

007, Thank you! We should hope that you keep your membership no matter where you are as long as you are interested in blacksmithing! Nearly the entire world has access to the Internet including the Antartic!
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 01:05:02 GMT


Are you gonna be "True Blue"? Way to go!

   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 08/18/02 01:24:19 GMT

QC, before I got side-tracked and launched anvilfire I was researching the writing/illustrating of a book on the construction of musical instruments (all except keyboard instruments). Not since the early 1600's had such a book been produced. My plan was to produce dimensioned scale CAD (hand inked style) drawings of representitive instruments as well as charts of dimensions of variations, weights and design data. I was going to dismantle (and hopefully reassemble) instruments if I had to. . . (I even collected a few). After nearly two years, three 1" thick volumes of bibliographical data, purchasing many rare books and NO luck at attracting a publisher, I gave up. I had spent most of the first year proving there was no such reference currently in existance as I collected bibliographical data from all over the world.

I am a non-musician (can't carry a tune and have a "tin" ear). But I KNOW how things are made and how to translate that knowledge to drawings. It is something the organologists do not know or seem to care about.

I had sold my power hammer collection and sheet metal working tools to support the effort as well as ruining my marriage and my health. Maybe when all the questions about blacksmithing are answered I will go back to it.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 01:34:04 GMT

Gee, that was NOT supposed to sound like such a sad tale. .
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 01:36:32 GMT

Oh believe me I would like to, but I can't guarantee that the Iraqis of Afghannis have internet access. KnowhadImean?
Paw-Paw, I'm sure you do.
   Bond,JamesBond - Sunday, 08/18/02 01:43:55 GMT

Duh, "of" should be "or"
   Bond,JamesBond - Sunday, 08/18/02 01:45:48 GMT

007, We get hits from Iran, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia and a hundred or so other countries every month and I haven't checked the server stats in about 6 months. . . During desert storm Internet communications was getting much of the news out of Iraq as well as being critical to logistics. . . But access from the field is still something special.

Fifteen years ago I had a request from Iran for Mass2 in Farsi. Very difficult to do in the MS-DOS days.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 03:24:42 GMT

Hi Sir, Forgive me for this... somewhere on your site, I saw that a fellow smith was looking for "DECORATIVE & SCULPTURAL IRONWORK by Dona Z. Meilach" HERE IS THE #--> ISBN 0-7643-0790-8 . I have this book, and I just checked BARNES & NOBLE.COM . This book is in stock...as of 8-17-2002.
   cat - Sunday, 08/18/02 04:01:12 GMT

Walter Lippmann observed long ago that paradox is the essence of popular thought. And, among the most popular paradoxes is: "Them scientists, what do they know?" (Or, "buncha coneheads!")
   miles undercut - Sunday, 08/18/02 04:45:48 GMT

sorry for the late reply guru (had to reformat), thanks for all the help you've given me. What would you recommend for for the ss mesh replacement? Also, i made sure not to set the refractory in PERMANANTLY so that I can make adjustments:) and i'll give the 'move-around' ago and see what sort of configuration would work best.
   Nicholas - Sunday, 08/18/02 04:59:48 GMT

Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork: Cat, we have two reviews posted here as well as the name of the publisher. It was out of print for many years and we were instrumental in getting it republished as well as locating sources for the new color photos. Check the introduction.

On this site your email address is encrypted into your name as a link to prevent spam harvesters from getting it. Next time you look I will have erased the plain text.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 07:50:26 GMT


   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 08/18/02 09:06:36 GMT

What is the going rate for a blacksmith consultant in Virginia? So much per hour plus expenses? If so, what is the going average rate per hour?

Thank you for helping with this.

Love the website.

In Christ,
Belle Drake
   Belle Drake - Sunday, 08/18/02 13:47:50 GMT

Belle, Responding by mail.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 15:41:58 GMT

SS Screen: Nicholas, SS is only a little better than carbon steel in this application. The problem depends on what you mean by "mesh" or screen. Coal forges vary from having no grate to having a plate with holes. A common grate is just a single 1/2" (13mm) bar or two bars welded in a cross. Coal and ash both fall down into the tuyere, that is why they have an ash dump.

Some forges have a "clinker breaker ball" which can be used to clear the tuyere and control the direction of the blast somewhat. The "ball" is usualy triangular in section and is rotated with a long handle. See the forge parts page on the Kayne and Son web site.

Many cheap and some rivit forges came with grates that were a cast iron plate with holes in it. These generaly burn out fairly rapidly and would be considered a "consumable" item if they were available from the OEM. But all the old forge manufacturerers are out of business. . .

Most of these hole type grates are a pain and I would rather have no grate than one that was always clogged or broken. So I generaly go without. The advantage of side blast forges rather than bottom blast is that coal and ash do not fall into the side blast.

Relatively fine screens or thin plates burn out fairly quickly (several uses or one long session).
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 16:13:33 GMT

Just wanted to let everybody know that I'll be testing my Junk Yard Flypress sometime this evening. So if anyone had plans for anything tommorow that involved the Universe,sorry.
   Txfarrier - Sunday, 08/18/02 16:56:38 GMT

do you have any information on a older p. blaisdell & co from westcester mass, steel lathe. appears to be run on flat belts , powered by pulley off of a line shaft. appears that an electric motor has been added. any information would be helpful.
thank you
   jim kingkade - Sunday, 08/18/02 16:59:56 GMT

Blaidell: Jim, Never heard of it. But that doesn't mean much. At one time there were hundreds of machine tool manufacturers in New England. During this same time many manufacturers of other things made their own machine tools in-house. Folks like Brown & Sharpe whos primary business was precision tools and Pratt & Whitney whos primary business was aircraft engines.

Most "engine" lathes are fairly standardized and the classic "How to Run a Lathe" by Southbend Lathe Co. applies to almost all lathes including new ones.

Often when electric motors are added OR if the line shaft is missing, then the upper step pulley is missing. This restricts what you can do with the machine and is a common problem that is difficult to overcome. In most cases you pick a general speed slower than optimum and then setup for that as a compromise.

I have several old flat belt drive lathes and there is absoultely nothing wrong with this class of machine unless it is worn out.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 18:16:24 GMT

Belle Drake:

Hmm, I may not be quite what you are thinking of, as I do "consulting" mostly for larger forging operations. In fact, I'm heading out to Illinois in a week of so on a consulting job for 10 days to maybe two weeks. I charge $600.00 per day plus expenses ( air fare, hotel, car, gas etc.). Rather than itemize meals, I just go with a modest $30.00 per day. May sound high, but that's what it takes get me to leave home. What kind of consulting are you looking for?
   - grant - Sunday, 08/18/02 19:16:06 GMT

Belle was looking for rates to charge. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 08/18/02 20:26:45 GMT

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