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

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

This is an archive of posts from August 25 - 31, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

fishguy-- Are you sure you are reading the plate right? 30 amps is awfully lowwwwww for output. Make the guy show you it works. read what it says the duty cycle is. Then run it at the highest amperage it will produce for at least several beads or until it goes belly up. Sniff it to see if's been burned inside from a short. You can always get new leads. There are a jillion old cracker boxes out there for sale. no need to rush on this one.
   miles undercut - Sunday, 08/25/02 00:42:54 GMT

I was wondering what anyone knows about the steel that old jack hammer "bits" are made from. I came into a few of them, and assume that they would have to be quality steel to hold up under any use. I have yet to spark test them, and figured I would ask here and see if anyone had any experience with them. Thanks, this site is great!
   ketil - Sunday, 08/25/02 01:00:12 GMT

Diane I am on most evenings in the slack tub chat room...i do a few knives and maybe can answer a question or two...Rich hale
   Rich Hale - Sunday, 08/25/02 02:03:02 GMT

fishguy-- on 2nd thought, the 30 amps is likely to be the protection the machine needs. What's the rated output? You can't go far wrong for $25-- so long as you've seen the thing run big fat smooth continuous beads. Yumm! No skips, no fades, nothing like that. No funny burning rubber smells.
   miles undercut - Sunday, 08/25/02 02:46:38 GMT

Fishguy- If the input power is 220 volts @ 30 amps, then it needs to be protected against current draw exceeding 6600 watts. The output voltage will be somewhat under thirty volts, and since the amperage times the voltage equals the wattage, allowing for loss, I would think it should be about 180 amps to 220 amps. What really counts is the duty cycle, but since you'll only be using it for hobby use, and not welding continuously for six or eight hours at a stretch, if it has a duty cycle of 20% at full output, it should do you fine. The cracked leads are no big deal; keep on taping them or pick up new ones at a welding supply.

I recall that a number of Sears older welding machines were made by Lincoln, and were decent machines. You didn't say if it was an AC or and AC/DC machine. Does it have three sockets for the leads? If so, it's likely an AC/DC unit. If not, or if the leads are permanently wired it, then it's probably AC only. Either way, if it works, and the amperage settings all seem okay, it's a good deal.

Diane- Try checking:


The American Bladesmith Society has a school in Arkansas, I believe. The information is on their website.
   vicopper - Sunday, 08/25/02 03:37:38 GMT

miles- could you wire three of those old sears buzzboxes in series, hook them up to european 50 hertz power, and get a time machine invertor so cracked anvil could do commentaries from his side of the moon?
   mike-hr - Sunday, 08/25/02 03:43:43 GMT

Sorry: Cracked is holed up in the Dizzy Club on Holabird Avenue in Dundalk, Md., locked in the gauzy embrace of the 1950s. Soft crabs, Gunther in bottles, and shuffleboard. Camels, the real Camels. With Chastity, Yummi and Swarf. Parked outside are Crosley Hot-shots, Kaiser Henry Js, Studebaker Commanders. Packard Caribbeans. On the jukebox, Tommy Edwards sings about the morning side of the mountain, Joni James promises you're my everything. Now, look: why, I ask you, would Cracked want to leave, even for a moment?
   miles undercut - Sunday, 08/25/02 05:16:24 GMT

While in Minnesota visiting family, I came across an old coal forge. No blower or tuyere, just a fire pot with three legs. The fire pot is pretty stout cast iron, about 24" across and 4"deep. Stamped inside are the words "clay forge before using". Everyone I have talked to around here (AZ) doesn't know what the deal is with this "clay". What is it? Do I even need it? If so, where might I get some?
Thanks for your time.
   T.J. - Sunday, 08/25/02 05:29:32 GMT

Recently we visited a museum in Atlin, British Columbia, Canada, where we saw an artifact used during the Klondike gold rush that we guessed to be a small, portable (and incomplete) ingot furnace. The curator was not able to tell us what it was for. It had been manufactured in California, according to the word on its side, but contained no other information. It would have been used under very rustic, remote conditions, and while fairly heavy, would have been reasonably portable.

I realize this is a blacksmithing site, but the "metalworking" part made me wonder if you might be able to provide some information about the artifact. The museum curator did not know exactly how it might have been used, and so we did some speculating. Now, we'd like to know if we were right!

The entire unit was about 2 feet long, and perhaps 18 inches wide and 2 feet high. It was made primarily of some sort of ceramic material. There were two removable angled circular lids on each side, opening into a continuous cavity, and a rectangular opening at the top, possibly a chimney or vent. The back was solid. The front had a small arched door which opened into an arched, completely enclosed cavity beneath the chimney.

I would guess that the correct amount of gold dust and nuggets to make an ingot were weighed out and placed in a ceramic ingot-shaped crucible (now missing) inside the enclosed arched cavity, and the front door closed. I'd guess that a fire of wood or charcoal was then set in the surrounding cavity through the four openings on the sides, and a temperature sufficient to melt gold reached and maintained long enough to ensure the formation of the ingot. They told us the gold found up there was very pure, and adulterated with silver when it was not pure.

I'd appreciate either information about this kind of ingot furnace (if that is indeed what it is!) both to satisfy my own curiosity and to forward to the museum curator in Atlin. Thank you for any help you might be able to give me, or for any links which you might be able to provide!

Iris English
   Iris English - Sunday, 08/25/02 05:55:07 GMT

T Clark;
There is a demo on I-forge here that addresses stamps I think..sure you can make dinky chisels to carve annealed tool steel..I do...and remember that you can make male stamps to stamp design elements into female stamps too. It is entertaining, if cross-eyed stuff.
Shan; the Anvilfire Store sells , or will soon sell, an excellent coating for kaowool.
Fishguy; In addition to what Miles said,you can get by with tape for a little while, but it well worth getting good new cable. The longer the leads, the heavier the cable needs to be. That's a great price. Be a good thing to take the cover off and clean out all the dust and grunge, then take apart the connections and clean them down to bright metal before reassembling. That's a very versitile tool, and the key piece to making many other tools...good score.
Harley, think it is coming real soon.
Ketil; many of the newer ones are S series steel and make good hot work tools..good tool steel generally but watch for fatigue cracks.
TJ; the concensus seems to be that you can ignore the claying if you don't dump a lot of water on the hot casting. If you keep it dry, you can use almost any old common clay in the yard or go to a masonry supply and buy a cheap bag of fireclay..mix with sand and pearlite if you want..a pretty dry mix to minimize cracking, and plaster it on.
   Pete F - Sunday, 08/25/02 07:42:01 GMT

Jack hammer bits I think are a medium carbon steel. A rare few are S5.
Cracked leads. I've had 'em for years. I had an expert pipline welder look at the copper. He said the copper looked good, not covered with verdigris and no broken strands. He told me to keep wrapping the breaks.
Clay hearth lining. If you want to line the hearth, use a Portland cement and sand mix. Fire clay is a pain.
B.C. Furnace. I'm guessing that it was used for assaying.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 08/25/02 13:31:43 GMT

Cracked Arc Welder Cables.
Mr. Turley is correct the crack should be taped. Before taping, let me suggest that the exposed copper area be covered in silicon "glue" and allowed to cure overnight and then taped. The silicone coating will make the copper air tight which will prevent the copper wire from forming complex basic copper acetates (verdigris), (also nitrates, both are blue or green), or copper oxides which look black. All those copper compounds will interfere with the passage of electricity (electrons) during arc welding.
   slag - Sunday, 08/25/02 16:01:53 GMT

The most common bits (Brunner & Lay) are a modified 1045. Many others are 1078. The ones I manufacture under the Apex Alloy name are 8630. As Mr. Turley points out, S-series is rare, probably manufactured for the gummit. They all make good tools and respond to simple heat treat.
   - grant - Sunday, 08/25/02 16:18:14 GMT

I'm working up to building a first gas forge. Is there a hardware store materials substitute that's appropriare for mortaring insulating fire bricks together? The mail order potters kiln materials companies sell things like 'Sairset' at a price I'd like to avoid if possible. Would a portland cement based material work? I'm thinking that I should seal up the gaps between the bricks mostly to be sure that the hot gasses go where they should rather than wherever - like in the direction of my gas supply hose. (that won't be too close -- just an example of the concern.) For the small unit I intend to build first, the mortar won't be asked to take on structural loads.
Any help would be appreciated.
   PaulB - Sunday, 08/25/02 16:33:33 GMT

Hello Guru i am 17 years old and starting to get into blacksmithing along with my dad and i have a couple of simple questions for you.
1. i know borax is a type of flux but Whats Flux??
2. Do you know of a way to MAKE a forge and where i can find plans (ex. oil drum or something)
   Grant - Sunday, 08/25/02 17:48:57 GMT

Thanks, I think I have an email program somewhere, I will remind you in a week or two about the beche.

Enjoy your time out in the Lone Star State!
   Tiaan Burger - Sunday, 08/25/02 20:43:06 GMT

Is there a single standard for grinding wheels for angle grinders? What is the most common inside diameter for 4 1/2 inch wheels?
Thanks. Jay
   jay - Sunday, 08/25/02 22:17:30 GMT

To whom it may concern: I was traveling through central Oregon a couple of days ago and saw a 500 lb anvil (brand ?) for sale in Burns along US 20 at a junk shop that is located just across the road from the truck scales. His starting price was $850. Sorry, don't know the name of the shop, but Burns is a small town and if you drive through town you can't miss the place. Signs out front say "relics", "Junk", "antiques", etc. Good luck

   Wendy - Sunday, 08/25/02 23:14:10 GMT

PaulB- For cementing soft firebrick, kiln shelf and the like i my forges, I use stove cement that I buy at the plumbing supply. If you let it dry for several days before any firing, then heat it to about 300ºF for an hour or two, it will then take heat up to forge welding temp without any problems. This is the stuff that is used for sealing hearths in oil furnaces and fireplaces; the particular brand I get here is Hercules HiHeat Furnace/Stove Cement made by the Hercules Chemical Co. of Passaic, NJ.

Grant- 1. Flux is a chemical that dissolves oxides to "clean" the metal so it will weld, braze or solder, depending on what you are doing. 2. Check out the FAQ's page for tips on getting started, there are a couple of simple instructions for forges on this site.

Jay- The general standard for 4-1/2" angle grinders is 5/8-11 thread. The hole is 5/8". There are different types of wheels for metal, masonry, cutting and facing operations. Good quality wheels hold up better than cheapos, in my opinion, but not better enough to justify their much higher cost. I use the cheapos from Harbor Freight and they work fine for most things. A good industrial supply house can offer a wider selection of grits and profiles, at a higher cost. One note: For a long time, Makita made a 4" angle grinder that used a different size arbor thread and their wheels won't fit all the other 4-1/2" grinders I've had.
   vicopper - Monday, 08/26/02 00:32:34 GMT

Grant- I should have noted in what I said earlier that flux is NOT a substitute for properly preparing the metal to be joined. The joints should be properly scarfed and clean before you flux. The flux will prevent formation of oxides, but it can't replace proper prep work.
   vicopper - Monday, 08/26/02 00:36:04 GMT

Iris, personally, I think it is a beer cooler......naw, just kidding. I wonder if just piling wood or coal around the item could possibly ever get it hot enough to melt gold. If it is actually ceramic, getting it to the Klondike in one piece would have been a small miracle. I would guess that it might be part of what is called a "muffle furnace". The ceramic inner part was placed into a larger furnace with room around the muffle for hot gasses to circulate. This was designed to keep the product inside protected from the products of combustion, which might contaminate the product.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 08/26/02 00:56:58 GMT

HOWDY Folks! I'm still down in Mesquite, TX at the Bil Epps Hammer-In. Had nearly 100 folks yesterday, and a lot less today. But had fun both days. Met a bunch of CSI and Pubbers.

Harley Got Kaowool, got on NEW unposted store for reasonable price. But NEW store is not on-line. . still have to work out overseas shipping and CSI discount. Here is a peak.


Store will do everything except make final sale via CC. IT will PRETEND to through a test setup.

Sears Welder Fishguy, A normal buzz box draws 50-75 amps and is wired to a 90-100 amp circuit. They CAN be used on a stove circuit for small welding. A buzz box that is rated at a max draw of 30A is not much of a machine. But for $25 it soulds like a deal. Any welding welding supplier will sell you new cables and ends if you need. ONce cables start cracking its all down hill. . . (replace them). The MOST IMPORTANT item is a welding shield with a #12 shade (very dark).
   - guru - Monday, 08/26/02 01:10:13 GMT

paulb-- I'ce tried it, and Sairset (sp.?) seems to want to craze, shrink drastically, come unstuck when heated up to forge temps. Firebrick do not really need to be mortared tight. Leave 'em loose and then you can re-arrange to suit various sizes and shapes. You'll lose some BTUs, but nothing too critical, especially not if you are using a blower.
   miles undercut - Monday, 08/26/02 01:35:28 GMT

hi iam new to blacksmithing and iam only 13 years old.i live in wilmington north carolina and need to find someone to show me the ropes,if you have any info please share with me
   will - Monday, 08/26/02 01:36:45 GMT

iam new to smithing and need someone to show me the ropes.i live in wilmington north carolina.if you have any advice my ears are open
   will - Monday, 08/26/02 01:38:02 GMT

i need to now were i can obtain a forge,i dont the suplies tio weld one and need a small priced ready-made forge.i dont have alot of money.
   will - Monday, 08/26/02 02:22:28 GMT

Hey, does anyone know of a place near NYC that offers introductory blacksmithing clases? I've got a buddy up there who thinks he might want to get into smithing as a hobby, but doesn't have the room or facilities to do it right now. I took a beginning class some years ago at the National Ornamental Metal Museum and had a ball. It was a two-day class held over a weekend.

This sort of class would be ideal for my friend. Anyone know of anything near the Big Apple?


   - Marcus - Monday, 08/26/02 03:55:37 GMT

Evening agian Guru and Co.
Been unable to get at a computer for a few days.. and was VERY pleased to return to find so much EXTREMELY helpful information from various sources! I've spent hours over the last few days pouring through libraries on various campuses, and even down town.. and I was able to find a bit, but the help you've given really has helped a lot. When it was mentioned that the history I was looking for was that of TECHNOLOGY after the civil war.. I could have screamed at my own stupidity.. me.. the man who tells anyone who asks "what's a blacksmith do?" that they do anything an engineer can do, but prettier (heh.. might not be EXACTLY accurate.. but it gets the point across) didn't even think of things like steam hammers and rifle barrels. As for the "oops" pile.. Paw Paw.. Yes.. yours is a MUCH better description.

Thank you all for a great site, with good advice and HOURS of procrastinating my homework to read through iForge demos in Computer Information.

Bob "Asgard"
HPL Steel
   Bob Asgard - Monday, 08/26/02 04:53:52 GMT

Will - Start with Anvilfire. The opening page has a link called "Get Started in Blacksmithing". After that the same opening page has another link called "Anvilfire's FAQ's". That should answer many of your questions. There is a 10 year old blacksmith doing demos on iForge. May want to look at those also.
   - Conner - Monday, 08/26/02 13:44:10 GMT

I have a Champion Blower & Forge hand crank drill press, model #102-3. Can you tell me how old it is and if you know of anyone interested i buying it. I have recently moved and I no longer have room for it in my shop.
   Rick Justice - Monday, 08/26/02 14:47:54 GMT

I have some post-vices, but have never come up with a design for mounting them. I don't want to mount them permanently in place, but would like a solid mount that will allow me to work with them. I have limited welding experience, but am trying to practice, perhaps this is a good thing to work on. Any one have plans or know where I can find some online? Thanks in advance, and thanks to everyone who dropped some info on the bits. I'm going to hurry back and get the rest of them.
   ketil - Monday, 08/26/02 15:24:33 GMT

Will, there are lots of smiths in NC an two schools. Penland and John C. Campbell are both up near Asheville. Check our ABANA-Chapter.com web-site for NCABANA.

See our plans page for a fore anyone can build. If you an't build a little beake drum forge then you are in trouble as a would be smith.

Marcus. I thing the closest blacksmithing school in your area is in New Jersey. ABANA keeps an up to date list of schools on their site.

Rick, Your champion Drill Press was likely made any time between 1900 and 1940. Still a good tool.

Ketil, Post vises are mounted to a sturdy bench by the bracket that attaches below the screw. Often they are missing. The bottom of the leg has a point that should set in a support washer OR the end of a post burried in the ground (dirt floors). DO NOT WELD to the vise. That will ruin its future value as an antique.

There are two vise mounting bracket styles. Prior to 1840 they had a pierced hold in the back leg that a tennon passed through and was pinned. The tennon also passed through the spring ans the tension on the spring helped keep the pin in place. Later vises had a wrap around "U" bracket the was wedged to a forged or cast anchor place.

The important thing about mounting post vises is a stout bench to anchor then to. The bench either needs to be heavy OR anchored to the building.

Posting from Bill & Sharon's in Mesquite, TX. . . traveling soon.
   -guru - Monday, 08/26/02 17:37:37 GMT

Clarification on Montgomery Ward forge. I checked the plate on mine and it reads-
Lakeside Quality
Steel Forge
Montgomery Ward
Note that this is different than "lakeland" that I erroneously reported some weeks ago. Still have no idea of the manufacturer.
   Brian C - Monday, 08/26/02 20:08:25 GMT

Firstly I would like to thank everyone at anvilfire for all the help I have recieved over the last year or so. I am now nearly ready to move completley from fabrication to Blacksmithing. Because of my location in England and working fulltime as a self employed fabricator, this would not have been even close to possible without anvilfire.

My Question is,what is the best finish for fire baskets,dogs and tools. I would prefer to use a cold finish rather than a black heat if posible. I have tried a product called zebo but it does't seem to dry !. Any help would be greatfully recieved.
   matt - Monday, 08/26/02 20:38:44 GMT

hey guru!
i am mike and i am 14 and trying to begiin metalworking.the only problem is there are no courses available to me as you had instructed i take.so how do i beggin , i don't know how to make a forge!
your help needed
mississauga onterio canda
   mike - Tuesday, 08/27/02 02:07:33 GMT

sir ,i have a ? is coke a good fuel for forging and if not why ??i happened on a ton of it and would like to use it if i could.
   belrain - Tuesday, 08/27/02 02:14:22 GMT

I am trying to locate a source for a specific Centaur Forge product. (Unsure of correct spelling) Derlick Cuff - used to assist proper correction of the Deep Flexor Tendon in horses.
Thank you for your assistance. I am not a farrier, just trying to obtain this so our farrier can apply in to our 3 1/2 month old filly.
   Cathy Fort - Tuesday, 08/27/02 02:53:52 GMT

Hi there, guru. I'm thinking of starting blacksmithing as a hoby and have numerous questions.
1. Can I have my anvil on wood surfaces or concrete blocks?
2. Is it safe to have a forge out of doors in a town area?
3. Is it safe to have a forge indoors where ventelation is not a problem?
4. Is a zone tempered, 205lb 90k-DH anvil good enough for bladesmithing, armour smithing, or just tool and household item smithing?
5. Is the above anvil really worth 755$ Canadian(not including shipping)?
If you answer these I would really appreciate it.
   Mike - Tuesday, 08/27/02 02:56:09 GMT

Hi there, guru. I'm thinking of starting blacksmithing as a hobby and have numerous questions.
1. Can I have my anvil on wood surfaces or concrete blocks?
2. Is it safe to have a forge out of doors in a town area?
3. Is it safe to have a forge indoors where ventelation is not a problem?
4. Is a zone tempered, 205lb 90k-DH anvil good enough for bladesmithing, armour smithing, or just tool and household item smithing?
5. Is the above anvil really worth 755$ Canadian(not including shipping)?
If you answer these I would really appreciate it.
over 16
   Mike - Tuesday, 08/27/02 02:59:44 GMT

cathy-- try http://www.centaurforge.com/
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 08/27/02 04:30:49 GMT

I use HI temp paint (the kind you use for headers on your hot rod..(grin)) then a top coat of flat black BBQ paint. the BBQ stuff don't stick to good and tends to rub off and the header paint I can only find in gloss around here (I dislike the glossy iron look) be sure to power wire brush of sand blast off the scale of the header paint will chip .. and once that stuff starts to chip its a down hill battle.
   MP - Tuesday, 08/27/02 07:11:39 GMT

Mike, 14 year old variety,
The best place to get started is the "getting started" link on the home page. The brake drum forge plans that are there are great. I made one, and I liked it better than the one I have now.
Study this site, study everything in it, I read for about six months before I set hammer to steel. Try links, just to see where they go, they all lead to something worth reading, and remembering. The i-forge page is a great source of information, as are the faqs and the archives, go back and read them, almost all questions that you have, have already been answered, (not that we won't answer them again.)
Lastly, about the best investment you can make, if you can afford it, is to join Cyber Smiths International. See the link at the bottom of the Guru's page. That is what keeps this site up and running. Welcome to the trade!
   Bond-JamesBond - Tuesday, 08/27/02 12:42:26 GMT

Cathy, More info in "Hoofcare and Lameness" Magazine about the Dalric cuff: www.hoofcare.com/archives/surgery_support.html
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/27/02 13:38:41 GMT

1. Can I have my anvil on wood surfaces or concrete blocks?

A stump is traditional; but a build up of wood---have the pieces run vertically!---is just as good or better. Waterbed rails are free around here in the alleyways...good for this sort of things.

2. Is it safe to have a forge out of doors in a town area?

Safe in what way? What kind of neighborhood are you in? I have one of my forges outside under a tree with a battered anvil and postvise chained to a stump in a downtown neighborhood. Smoke is the biggest problem followed by noise. There are ways of dealing with both. (fuel selection, anvil selection, neighbor cultivation, etc)

3. Is it safe to have a forge indoors where ventelation is not a problem?

What kind of indoors? *Most* blacksmith shops are "indoors". I"d advise a concrete floor and perhaps shield the walls with some sheet iron, but the forge itself is not that bad---remember *you* will be standing within a couple of feet of the hot spot so if it doesn't hurt you it won't hurt other things!

4. Is a zone tempered, 205lb 90k-DH anvil good enough for bladesmithing, armour smithing, or just tool and household item smithing?

It's overkill on getting started, you can knifesmith on a chunk of steel, armourmaking is not generally don using an anvil (see the Armour Archive and Arador websites on doing it) and is would be great for general smithing.

5. Is the above anvil really worth 755$ Canadian(not including shipping)?

What is the anvil made from? If it's a good steel then that's a decent price for a new anvil. If it is a ductle iron or cast iron then it's not worth scrap price IMNSHO

As a starting smith I would advise starting with a minimalist approach---on the cheap---and then upgrade as you find the need, the deals and the cash. (I'm buying about 1 good anvil a year for under US$1 a pound; but still forge on a hunk of steel from the scrapyard at times to show folks that they *don't* have to spend a bunch of money to get started or do good work---the *skills* are more important than the tools (excepting cast iron anvils...)

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 08/27/02 13:43:18 GMT

I'll be a bit more specific.
For question 2 i live in a small neigborhood where the noise most likely wouldn't be a problem during the daytime.
How bad would the smoke be? If it would be a few wisps still problems but big clouds would irritate people.

3. What kind of indoors? It would be a fairly large shop with a garage door on one side.
it has a wooden floor.
4. If that anvil is to much, what should I get?
5. All the anvils I am looking at are from the 105lb to 500 lb area on a website called www.forgeandanvil.com/supplies.htm and are all made of cast manganese tool steel and as I said before zone tempered.
6. Could you please tell me how much money I should spend beginning smithing.
   Mike - Tuesday, 08/27/02 15:21:48 GMT

Mike and his many questions ;-)}:

Smoke: Could be bad initially with green coal until it cokes (read getting started for more explanations), Then it isn't quite so bad. Charcoal (hardwood chunks, not the briquettes (sp)) smokes like a BBQ, so virtually nothing, but you need a deeper fire.

3. As long as you have decent headroom and a good chimney/draft hood, then really the square footage and your organization just limits the amount of extra toolage you can have.

4. There are several bits of info on building up an anvil like surface from steel plates. A chunk of Railroad rail on edge works well. And ask around. There are an amazing number of anvils in peoples basements and backyards and whatnot that they would gladly be rid of for next to nothing.

5. Sounds good, but never used one myself (of course, I have not used a new anvil period, so there you are)

6. As much or as little as you want. I spent about $100 American on a stand made of pipe and use a 16in rim that I damaged on my car. I already inherited (read swiped) a blower and 150# anvil from my dad (he had chained down the 275# vulcan ;-)}). As it was I could have gotten by with less if I had had a welder and time to scrounge in a small town junkyard. Welder is optional although very handy.

Your best bet is to find smiths in your area and see what they do. And read this entire site, and all of the archives. Then start to formulate a plan and act upon it. If it means you spend $1000 plus for a brand-new pre-fabricated forge and more for anvils and tooling and you can afford it, then feel free. But a little pre-planning and some digging can get you all you need to start.

Dang, I wish I was as organized as this sounds. ;-)}
   Escher - Tuesday, 08/27/02 16:08:31 GMT

007, Tom Powers, and Escher,

The way you guys answer questions when the guru is out of town he could take a vacation more often!

Well done!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 08/27/02 17:14:47 GMT

Previous message should have been addressed to:

007, Tom Powers, Escher, Connor, et al!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 08/27/02 17:16:29 GMT

Greetings Guru,
I'm looking for a finish suitable for a towel rack- one that will really protect the iron from moisture as well as the damp towel from rust. Any ideas? Thanks muchly.
   Wendy - Tuesday, 08/27/02 17:19:25 GMT

I feel that you could get together a decent starting set-up for about $US25 + some time. This would be a brakedrum forge, old hair dryer/vacuumcleaner for the blower, scrap or found chunk of iron for an anvil---found the broken knuckle off a RR car coupler once made a dandy anvil with flat and curved surfaces, cost US$0---2-4# crosspein from the fleamarket/junkstore, fleamarket cold chisel as a hot cut and a pair of vicegrips for holding metal as you make it into tongs. Weygers "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" deals a bit in how to scrounge together a shop---got a library card? Ask them to do an ILL Inter Library Loan which will get you almost any book (but the new one on viking artifacts which no library in US or Canada has according to the system...guess I will have to order it sight unseen).

More important is can you arrange to visit a local smith? One afternoon coaching will save you about 6 months of messing things up!

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 08/27/02 18:09:16 GMT

thx Thomas you've cut down the money id be spending by 300-700 dollars and made easier to get going.
   Mike - Tuesday, 08/27/02 18:50:08 GMT

Home at Last! Thanks all for keeping up for me! It will take a while to address the FEW unanswered questions. I'm still waiting for mail to download even though I deleted over 100 SPAMS while on-the-road. . .

Have business to catch up on and a NEW edition of the NEWS to get out!

Overcast and a wonderful 70 degrees F in Virginia!
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/27/02 19:13:36 GMT

Mike, currently Harbor freight is selling a 100# Russian anvil for $100 including shipping (was on sale for $80 last week in their Dallas, TX store). This is NOT a GREAT anvil but it is not just a cast iron doorstop or ASO (anvil shaped object). For the money it would be a VERY GOOD starter anvil. Be sure to get the right one. HF sells a bunch of cast iron Chinese ASO's. . .

A decent anvil to start with makes life a LOT easier. Everything else can and SHOULD be made by the new smith unless you are building a new business and have lots of capital.

See our iForge demo #6 for mounting height and the most recent for building stands. Several folks have already built stands from this demo and are very happy. Even if you use a make do anvil it needs to be sturdily mounted at the right height.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/27/02 20:22:04 GMT

mike and other newbies,
I'd say Thomas Powers fabricates more than metal objects. Getting started in blacksmithing is going to cost you thousands of dollars. It's a deep hole that never gets full. How many years has he spent buying hundred dollar anvils.....and why. What's wrong with an old chunk of scrap. You may think you can build a forge with a hair drier and for awhile when your friends come over you'll be proud of it. But that sissy hair drier or obnoxios vacuum cleaner is gonna give way to either an irrepressable desire for a great bellows or a nice hand crank blower. And then you'll want to set your big ol truck wheel into an all brick forge or a stainless steel cabinet. You like blacksmithing because you can make pretty things. Well, obviously you will like to have pretty things around you. Old things full of quality, mass and ingenuity. Sure you'll get in on some really great deals but you'll just spend what you save on some other tool you just can't do without. No sir, it ain't cheap and you never stop getting started. The best way I know of to stop pouring money down this black hole is to become a professional full time smith. If you do that you'll probably end up liking it about as much as any other job and start looking for something fun to spend money on. As long as it is a hobby, it's gonna cost big time. Just ask their wives if you have any doubts. Oh yeah, and when's the last time you heard of a guy tripping over a 300 lb. anvil. Buddy, it gonna cost you some really big money, and don't believe them what say it won't.
Larry -$
   lsundstrom - Tuesday, 08/27/02 21:55:28 GMT

Hooah! Thanks for the compliment.
   Bond-JamesBond - Tuesday, 08/27/02 23:40:30 GMT

Larry & All, That's called "The Theory of Rising Expectations". It appears to be endemic in many areas of our society.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/27/02 23:53:51 GMT

Don't beleive the thousands of dollars post. Here is my tally of costs for getting started. 305# Peter wright anvil
$200 from a friend of a friend (ask around, be shameless). Beautiful coal forge....blower free (old oil burner gun) steel to make the rest $10 (junkyard diamond plate). Nice assortment of hammers, chisels, punchs, no more than $2 each at yardsales (bargain, be shameless). Tongs to handle whatever job I'm doing, less than $3 each made myself from new hot rolled stock. 200 pounds of assorted top and bottom tools, free by asking around and scrounging. Used AC welder (almost new) $200. Real nice 14" chop saw, $75 (yard sale). Airco industrial grade oxy/acetelyne outfit with full tanks, cart, and about 50 lbs of welding and brazing rod, $200, (read the classified ads EVERY day). BRAND NEW BEST I COULD BUY PRESCRIPTION SAFETY GLASSES $125. etc etc etc. If you really want to do it, you can do it and do it inexpensivly and it's more fun doing it. Think, be imaginative, be creative, be shameless and haggle, and have fun......Bob.
   bbeck - Tuesday, 08/27/02 23:54:52 GMT

Electroplating /// Book(s) /// Articles /// Web Sites:
I want to electroplate some copper or brass onto some steel sheet.
I thought that the internet would be full of good information. I was mistaken. There is some information for industrial size set-ups, but little for small one-off jobs. Many of the acid bath electrolytic plating procedures require prorietary components in their mix of chemicals. Getting these exotic products may become a real time consuming pain. I'm in the wilds of Canada, which does not make things easy. For example, I would like to try the contact electro-deposition kits from J. C. Whitney.
But there is no J. C. Whitney up here. Is there an equivalent kit maker in Canada? Are there web sites that describe the technique. (the ones I found mostly discuss industrial lay-outs, or give 2 paragraph answers to a few specific questions.).
I have only located one practical-level book on the subject. (I don't want exhaustive texts on the physic and chemistry of electrolysis, I did that several decades back).
Does anyone have any sources, web sites, articles, or sources on the subject?
The book I found is Hobbyist Electroplating made easy, by Randell Borg, (it will take weeks to order and get it from the U.S.A.).
   slag - Wednesday, 08/28/02 01:05:14 GMT

I'm going to have to chime in with and agree with Tom Powers and bbeck. When I came back to the anvil in 1990, I had NO blacksmithing equipment at all. I went to my first demo in October with a homemade side draft forge, a borrowed hand crank blower, a large ball pien hammer, and a 50 pound cast iron ASO. In the 12 years since I came back, I doubt if I've spent a TOTAL of $2,500 and I've got a fairly well equipped shop.

007, You earned it, or I wouldn't have given it. (grin)

Slag, I don't know of if you would cosider Princess Auto equal to JC Whitney or not, but they might have what you want. If you need their number, I think I've got it around here somewhere.

But copper plating of steel is relatively simple. A solution of Muriatic Acid, a chunk of Copper (rolled up wire will work) a battery charger, and you're on you way. Make sure the steel is ABSOLUTELY clean before starting, or you'll get an un-even plate.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 08/28/02 01:13:03 GMT

Getting started

They were talking about how (and the cost) to get started. Cheap and easy to get started. A hammer, something to pound on, and a way to get metal hot is all it takes - to start. Getting started is easy. But like a lot of things the desire for more, and the deisre for bigger and better, is a killer.

You go from a junk ball pien hammer, to a 2# cross pien, to a hand made blacksmithing hammer, to a treddle hammer, to a power hammer, then to even bigger hammers.

Each jump in hammers is like a different grade level in your education (the skill obtained or developed by a learning process). During that time, you have progressed from that first "S" hook you were so proud of, to a gate, fence, or other major blacksmithing projects.

It is the knowledge gained through learning and practice, that makes a good blacksmith, not his tools. What he can do, is the direct result of HIS knowledge and HIS practice of the craft. He can learn much by reading, learn more by practice, and make great leaps ahead, with help from those more knowledgable in the craft.

No one blacksmith has a knowledge base equal to the one on "Anvilfire", made available to us by the Guru. The money spent on blacksmithing, and a CSI membership, is payment toward YOUR knowledge and education, something YOU will have forever. What's it worth? YOU decide.
   - Conner - Wednesday, 08/28/02 01:13:50 GMT

I think this needs to be archived in the "getting started" section. Whaddayall think?
   Bond-JamesBond - Wednesday, 08/28/02 02:01:20 GMT

Everybody has been helpful with my last few posts. I really appreciate it so far. I have a few more questions, if no one minds.
First off, I guess I'm just missing it, but where can I find out about this CSI everyone is talking about? I'm all for supporting resources, and from what I've seen this is one of the best around. Secondly, I'm curious what most would consider the best all around welder for a blacksmith shop. I don't have a lot of money and don't have much welding experience, but I see now the importance of basic welding skills and equipment if for no other purpose than making stands, tables, and tools. I would like to get into a welder, but believe in buying something that I won't outgrow in a few months. There has been mention of stick welders here. Are they better suited to work than wire feed or Mig? My last question sort of goes hand in hand with the second. I'm looking to purchase an oxy-gas cutting/welding torch in the next few days. I would greatly appreciate any input about brands, etc... I'm looking at a firepower 250, it is evidently made by Thermodyne/Victor, and I hear it is a good torch for the money. Is gas welding not the best way to go for the versatility? It seems you can weld a far greater thickness of material with less cost. Am I just missing something? Sorry to drag on, but I could use some input.
Thanks in advance, Ketil
   ketil - Wednesday, 08/28/02 02:01:29 GMT

Hello folks...I have a project in which I need to cut various geometric shapes from sheet steel that will vary in thickness from approximately 1/32" - 1/16". Do you have any suggestions for a method (or a tool to use) that will permit me to efficiently and cleanly cut the steel. Needless to say I would like to do this as inexpensively as possible but this is not my paramount concern.
   Howard - Wednesday, 08/28/02 02:13:43 GMT

Costs and Rising Expectations: Larry is is like many of us and has acquisititus (see glossary page) and has not admitted that he needs to enter a three step program :).

I know many hobby smiths that are not tool junkies (I freely admit that I AM) and they are enamored with the IRON. Generaly these folks want to be or see how primitive they can be and still forge iron. Sometimes they just don't care. But once they have what they need they stay at that level and work on forging.

Sometimes these folks don't have room for a collection of old tools and often don't have power at their shop location. The fellow from Finland that described his plastic pail forge to me was SERIOUS about forging iron but had no power in his his small shop, located at a vacation home on a small island. He was limited by what he could haul and by space. He wanted to forge iron but was not a tools junky. He would have loved a better forge but didn't have one and a mound of dirt suited his needs.

I love to have lots of tools and I am very fortunate to live where they can be obtained for much less than new. But most of the time when I go to forge I use one hammer, one or two pairs of tongs, one forge (what every is working today or is most convienient) and whatever anvil is available. This weekend at Bill Epps' I took my old worn out first hammer and two pairs of tongs. I used Leah's forge and anvil but it could have been anyone's or any brand. We could have (and most did) work all weekend with that and a few punches and chisles. We used a portable vise once but I would have avoided any more vise work as is was not anchored down. A vise is ALMOST indispensible but you CAN do without one. . .

On the other hand bbeck left out the costs of doing the collecting/finding. Often a $2/yardsale item has cost $10 or more in gas and several hours of someone's time. If you keep track of unsuccessful hunts the costs can be staggering. I spent YEARS going to EVERY farm auction in a 3 county area in the early 1970's (see story of my first anvil). In the end I spent about $100 on auction items. But I had gone to over 100 auctions. If you put an unrealistic minimum cost of $10 per auction for fuel, oil, wear and tear, lunches. . . That is at least $1000 in REAL money that could have bought NEW in 1972, A 300 pound anvil, a big forge, and a darn nice set of tools. . . .

But saving the money and buying NEW is often not in our nature. Overlooking the cost of doing it yourself is often overlooked.

The costs of getting started in blacksmithing depend on what your goals are. If you admit from the begining that it will only be a hobby and you will only make things to satisfy yourself then it can be done VERY cheaply. As soon as you decide to sell something (anything) then you are in a competitive business and you need REAL tools in order to compete. As soon as acquisititus takes over then the amount you can spend on tools and a place to keep them has no limit. It can be very detrimental to operating a sucessfull business. Having romantic ideals about what a blacksmith shop consists of is detrimental to operating a sucessfull business. Most of us have gone the wrong route to operating a blacksmithing business due to misguided romantic ideas and have become antique tool collectors, renactors and amature machine builders instead of focusing on the end goal.

The price is up to you.

   - guru - Wednesday, 08/28/02 02:16:39 GMT

Ketil-- AutoZone sells a good book on how to get the right kind of welding equipment for your needs. Twelve bucks or so.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 08/28/02 02:39:43 GMT


Many tools are where you find them: yard sales, auctions, flea markets, even the dreaded antique shop will sometimes have useful tools at reasonable prices. I'm not the ultimate bargain finder, like Master Powers, but just about everything in my shop was either used or at a good price. Patience and shopping around pays. Most of the stuff I've bought new have been consumables- files, hacksaw blades, fire pots, stuff that wears out.

I would also suggest that you think small and start small. Stock up to 3/4 inch square does just fine on anvils of 70-100#, especially if they're well mounted. A 4" post vise will work for most of the stuff I do for early medieval and some early American equipment. Get a feel for it before you throw lots of money at it.

Cooler and waiting for the blessed rain on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 08/28/02 03:25:18 GMT

CSI Membership At the bottom of this window where is says CSI - anvilfire MEBMERS Group (Next to "Getting Started").

Welding Equipment: Oxy-Fuel equipment is the most efficient for cutting and is necessary for most brazing and CAN be used for welding. For some light welding it is the best method (aircraft tubing, jewelry. . ). But it is very slow and expensive for welding anything very heavy.

An arc welder is the fastest and most efficient way to stick two pieces of steel together. Stick (AC or AC-DC) is the most flexible and is the most economical. Welding rods are available for cast iron, mild steel, stainless, high strength and hard facing. Rod can usualy be purchased by the pound in broken quantities. The durability of most transformer type welders (buzz-box) is very good.

MIG (wire welding) is clean and fast. However special purpose wire is more expensive and must be purchased in full rolls. MIG requires inert gas (Argon/CO2 mix for steel), cylinder and regulator. MIG machines are complicated and often require repairs. In production work they are absolutely necessary but they do not have the flexibility of the simplier stick welder.

A buzz box (transformer welder) of a given electrical requirement can do heavier welding than a MIG machine of the same requirement.

Miller and Lincoln are good brands in welders and Victor or Smith are good brands in torches. The best is the one supported by your local welding supplier. It is best to buy from a local dealer and build up a rapport because there are many little things you are going to need from them.

   - guru - Wednesday, 08/28/02 04:15:48 GMT

Cutting Heavy Sheet: Howard, Unless you need very large quantities, the cleanest most accurate method to cut shapes in sheet metal is by computer guided laser or plasma torch. There are many outfits that perform this service. You supply the CAD drawing converted to a DXF (AutoCAD Interchange) file and the machine cuts a perfect reproduction with very clean edges. The only tool you need is a CAD program for your computer. If the shapes are standard polygons the machine may have those built in as primitives that the operator mearly needs to set dimensions in order to cut.

By hand a plasma torch is next for clean cuts. Then an outfit called HenRob makes a small oxy-acteyene torch for fine work. After that I prefer a saw of one type or another. 1/16" is at the high limit of most shears, it will be difficult to cut complex shapes and the part will end up warped.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/28/02 05:09:08 GMT

Well I went and did it I ordered a Bull air hammer, and I am thinking about what dies to start off with. I could go with the standard combination dies half drawing and half flat. But I am thinking I might be better off with just a set of big flat dies till I can afford to re-invest in more dies. I should be able to make the spring fullers and other tools to use under the hammer. Any suggestions from more experienced smith would be greatly appreciated.

And since I am getting a power hammer, where do I get ahold of Clifton Ralf's videos, and price his power hammer tools. In my research I have run across his stuff being praised and realize that I need the benifit of more experienced smith, no sence re-inventing the wheel more than I do normally (just because I am senile and can't remember how I did it the last time:-)

Thanks, Shane
   Shane - Wednesday, 08/28/02 05:45:49 GMT

Slag-Electroplating Steel

It is relatively simple to electroplate steel, and requires a lot less equipment than most people think. Basically, all that is required is a power supply capable of delivering low voltage (3to 12v DC)at sufficient amperage for the surface area you are plating. That power supply can be a car battery, a battery charger, or a homemade power supply consisting of a step down transformer and a bridge rectifier. There are any number of ways you can fancy it up, (such as periodic current-reversal networks and variable voltage/current options), but that is the basic requirement for power. A 6/12 volt battery charge capable of delivering 10 amps or so will do the job. If you need more current for a big job, just hook a battery in parallel with the charger.

The plating bath chemicals are determined mostly by what you are plating and how well you insist on doing it. Fundamentally, any electrolyte will work, with acidic metallic salt solutions being the favored medium. Many of the necesary chemicals can be found in common products, if you do some creative looking, but only try that if you know the requisite chemistry to keep from poisoning or launching yourself. For example, one good gold-plating bath is cyanide based, and toxic as can be, and another one is based on a solution that can generate catastrophically explosive ether oxides.

For plating steel, it is necessary to plate it with copper BEFORE plating it with anything else. Failing to do so will result in the plating not being molecularly adhered to the steel. After the copper, it is easy to plate with nickel or gold.

Plating with alloys is more difficult than plating with pure metal, as the individual elements in the alloy react with the electrolyte differently. Some experimentation with sterling silver (92.5% Ag/7.5%Cu) will confirm this. You get copper-plated steel and an anode that is copper- depleted silver.

Metalsmithing Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht has some info, and should be available on InterLibrary Loan. Also, Creative Casting by Shar Choate. Most of the supplies you will need can be purchased in small quantities from jeweler's supply houses. I'm sure there are some in Canada.

If you want more information than I've given here, feel free to contact me off-line so I don't burn up all of Jock's bandwidth with my ramblings. I'll be happy to help any way I can, since I've gained much from your posts all along. Thanks.

   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/28/02 05:49:59 GMT

Howard, I have had very good luck doing just what you want to do with a $10.00 yard sale sabre saw and a handful of metal cutting blades for it. It doesn't get much cheaper than that! Wear your safety glasses. Best regards, Paul "3dogs" Wilson
   3dogs - Wednesday, 08/28/02 06:31:07 GMT

Anybody know what steel is used for circular saw blades from 12" down to 6"? I kinda think it varies from brand to brand but I haven't seen anything in writing.
   Jerry - Wednesday, 08/28/02 06:51:37 GMT

That I dare to disagree with our learned Guru probably means that I'm wrong...but...
I think that the Henrob torch is a waste of money for all but a very few special applications.
A plate cutting type cutting tip with a single preheat will do a superior job of cutting heavy sheet. Smith, for example, makes a drag type plate cutting tip in a range of sizes that is excellent...fast, precise and pretty clean. I own and use both. The Henrob has a gentle, low velosity flame that is only good for a few special things..and it is awkwardly designed.
Respectful apologies good Guru.
   Pete F - Wednesday, 08/28/02 07:26:26 GMT

Hi, quick question in case you know the answer offhand, Would you happen to know the carbon content of the "average" cold rolled steel bar?, Ive searched quite a few places and asked a few people mostly getting blank faces, thought someone on this site may know, Thanks - have a good day.
   Kreavex Albi Saire - Wednesday, 08/28/02 09:07:37 GMT

Cold Drawn Steel: Kreavex, Many alloys come in cold drawn form but "mild" steel of "key stock" (used to make square keys for shafts) is SAE 1018-1020. That is .18 to .2% carbon. Warehouses designate cold drawn as "CF" for cold finished bar. Hot roll is "HR" bar and is most commonly A-36 structural steel which is also a low carbon steel.

Round, square and hex shapes are cold drawn as well as hot rolled.

Music wire which is commonly SAE 1095 and dead soft 1008 wire is also cold drawn. Leaded screw machine steels are also cold drawn. Other alloys are most often centerless ground.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/28/02 09:59:12 GMT

HenRob Torch: Pete, I am not a proponent of the HenRob torch but I've seen some amaging things done with them. However, like many things, there is a lot of skill involved.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/28/02 10:00:48 GMT

Power Hammer Videos Shane, ABANA sells them.

Dies are determined by the type of work you do. Some folks never change dies. Flat dies are the most universal but combination dies are also common. Combination dies are good when you have a lot of drawing to do. Flat dies are better for supporting work that is going to have a lot of hand held tooling used one it.

Many smiths are going to a system where temporary dies can be quickly bolted and unbolted and there is a socket for shanks welded to clapper dies. Bill Epps has a big mild steel block to support custom dies that bolt on from one side with a could bolts.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/28/02 10:21:46 GMT

Thanks Guru:-)

And on power hammer dies, that was exactly what I thought, and since I plan on useing a fair amount of tooling, and since I can draw with clamp on tooling.

   Shane - Wednesday, 08/28/02 12:55:10 GMT

Cold Rolling, a bit more. A36 in 20 foot lengths should not have more than 0.25% carbon content. First the metal is hot rolled, then pickled to remove the mill scale. It is then cold rolled under intense pressure to give it a high tolerence cross-section. It is delivered scale free and appears "springier and tougher" that its hot rolled counterpart, because it has been *work hardened* or *strain hardened* in the cold rolls. When you heat cold rolled steel to a forging temperature, you are back to square one. You have undone all previous heat treatments and cold treatments. Cold rolled steel is marketed, because you get an exact dimension, and often you can get an oddball cross-section that you cannot obtain in hot rolled.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/28/02 13:24:08 GMT


A question, please. I use CR in 1/4" square, (only way I can find it) But I don't really see any difference in the hot behavior from the other sizes of HR that I use. In other words, when it's hot, it forges the same way that HR does. Should I be seeing a difference?
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 08/28/02 13:47:54 GMT

Costs; I figure the overhead in looking for stuff as part of my entertainment budget---of course having a good fleamarket just a couple of miles down the road from me and on my way to work helps. I also consider the time to be part of my exercise program---a brisk walk in the morning with lots of stooping over.

Most of the cost of finding anvils is the talking to people---how much does it cost you to talk to the people waiting in line with you at the store, DMV, etc?

Fighting packratitus can be done in several ways; the ones I use are a *strict budget* I get $20 a week to cover everything outside of normal houshold expenses: fuel (coal, propane), metal, tools, books. IITH raffle tickets... by sticking to the budget we stay in the black and I can negotiate the odd large sum for a *GREAT* deal now and then---which I try to pay back out of my budget and selling stuff.

Selling stuff: I try to maintain a constant number of items and so when I get another good deal on one I will either throw it in the "sell" pile or upgrade the my keepers and throw that one in the sell pile. The anvil was in great shape; but I don't like Vulcans so out the door it went---and paid for my Quad-State!

BTW I bought a 408# anvil for around 50 cents/pound so they are out there---was talking to a fellow at an SCA event who wanted to trade *down* to a more portable one; so I traded the anvil I found while test driving a car we were thinking about buying, $100 and a post vise screw&screwbox...

Now if I could just scrounge a shop building...

Thomas who does not fabricate his gloats
   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 08/28/02 14:30:34 GMT

just wanted to say thanks to guru for answering my question with a WEALTH of information, you've truely earned the title of "guru", Keep up the good work ;)
   Kreavex Albi Saire - Wednesday, 08/28/02 14:48:09 GMT

Henrob-- I went round and round the barn with this outfit a few years ago trying to get specs on what it is, what it does, that my Harris oxy-acetylene rig won't do, and never did get anywhere-- except to elicit a statement that it doesn't rival a plasma cutter. Acquisititis: Nathan Cabot Hale says it bestest in his fine book, Welded Metal Sculpture: you cannot have too many tools. Which howcum I bought that $10 "Saw-Tam'r" in a 2nd hand store yesterday-- I (haha)THINK it is designed to retract the radial arm saw and hold it from drifting over to slice off my hand.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 08/28/02 15:07:48 GMT

Anvils are where you find them. . . I agree with the telling EVERYONE you want to be a blacksmith and that you need an anvil or that you are a blacksmith and are always looking to give an anvil a home. I've had two anvils given to me, and a young lady that I was teaching was given one by her next door neighbor the day we fired up her brake drum forge. The fellow delivered the 150 pound Peter Wright with his tractor! I've had others report similar incidents since starting anvilfire.

A surprising number of folks have an anvil setting in a corner of their barn or basement and have never needed it. Eventualy they decide they want to get rid of it. They would often prefer to see it get used by someone that needs it rather than sell it to a dealer. And it is surprising how many times it is a relative that has that anvil looking for a home.

I also know folks that have been given forges and all manner of blacksmithing equipment. We have also had one fellow that frequents this page purchase the contents of a fully equiped blacksmith shop (with two power hammers) for $700. There are still great deals to be found but they are rapidly getting to be fewer and farther between.

My point about the costs of searching for used tools is still valid. At the time that I was going to every farm and estate auction in the local countryside my purpose was solely to find blacksmithing tools. In later years I did MUCH better at machine shop sales. My big anvils came from an ancient foundry and a old fabrication shop. A power hammer, forge and swage block plus a rack full of tools came from a cellophane factory! I got these items relatively cheap but I had a LOT more than $20 in my pocket and I also had a good 3/4 ton pickup truck to haul my loot home.

If you are not in BUSINESS and have no other need for a pickup truck that gas guzzler is another expense to add to the list. It is not an absolute necessity to collecting blacksmithing tools but lack of a truck can definitely limit what you bring home. I have been without a PU for several years and sorely miss it. But I DO have a flat bed "ton" truck that will haul 10,000 pounds without being overloaded. . . The only reason I have it is for moving around the stuff I already have! Add taxes, licenses and insurance to the cost of having acquisititus.

I too am one of those that believes you cannot have enough tools. As a result I have enough tools to build a house (or in this case a large shop), I have woodworking tools sufficient to build musical instruments and do patternmaking, I have a small machine shop and all the paraphernalia associated with the same including precision measureing tools up to 40", I have my mechanic's tool chest from back when I did THAT and of course - all my blacksmithing tools. . . Lets see, then there is the office equipment, fax machine, sewing machine. . . . book collection (books are tools too).

Thomas. . I HAVE known people to be given a steel building or to buy them VERY cheap. Be careful what you ask for.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/28/02 16:09:11 GMT

Cutting Sheet
There is another method that will work to cut shapes from sheet as long as it is mostly straight cuts. An angle grinder with a cutting disc. I am currently working on a project using 1/8 and 1/4 inch plate and the cutting discs work very well, except on curves in the thicker plate. Make sure that the cutting discs are reiforced, otherwise they will shatter if they bind in the work.

Thomas' Budget
For any of you lucky enough to see Thomas's shop, you will have to agree that his wife should reduce his budget to about 50 cents a week. You can barely get thru it without tripping on the very large pile of wrought iron plate, post vises, work benches and anvils. That 400 pounder he mentioned isn't even at his shop.
   Patrick - Wednesday, 08/28/02 16:22:04 GMT

HR and CF bar: Paw-Paw, HR is much more variable in content and condition than CF bar. CF bar is usualy tightly controlled chemicaly and the .18 - 20% carbon range is much tighter than that of HR bar which as Frank pointed out can have up to .25% carbon. CF bar has sharp corners with a tightly controlled radius and is almost always the same temper.

With good quality HR bar you should see almost no difference when forging it or CF bar. But the HR often has quality problems.

To me the biggest differences are the surface finish and corners. The even coat of scale on HR bar makes it easier to to blend with forged ends and it takes paint better, while the slick finish on CF bar will not take paint (no tooth).

When cold working HR bar such as on bending jigs it can vary greatly in temper due to variations in carbon as well as manufacturing methods. The result is that some is dead soft and another will be quite springy. The difference in results can be dramatic due to spring back.

At one time almost all flat bar of a certain proportion had very nicely radiused edges and round or arced sides. Today it is not unusual to be given flat bar sheared from plate and the edges rolled to debur them. The result is a hard springy bar with poorly shaped sides and sharp edges that are unacceptable for many types of work.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/28/02 16:35:49 GMT

I just wanted to post a big THANK YOU to Bill and Sharon Epps. The Hammer-In was a real blast and, as expected, Bill and Sharon were the perfect host and hostess to a crowd of 60+ smiths, hobby hammers, and gawkers. Got the chance to meet Guru, Paw-Paw and a few other Anvilfire regulars and that was a great experience for me and all the other attendees. THANKS AGAIN, BILL AND SHARON!
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 08/28/02 17:19:20 GMT


Another consideration is the ‘shelf life’ of the wire.

As soon as you unseal the spool of wire and put it on the machine it starts to deteriorate. Oxidation. If you don’t use the wire fast enough it will be bad enough that you will junk it and buy new. I had a 40 lb spool of .030 go bad in a year (shop is an old barn, Ohio climate). I was using a little over 2 spools of that size a year, but the last year I didn’t do any work. I stripped off a third of the roll hoping to get some ‘clean’ wire to no avail. My guess is a lot of folks wouldn’t go through a 10 lb spool in a year.

“Buzz Boxes” are less expensive for low volume shops in the long run.

   - sometimelurker - Wednesday, 08/28/02 18:00:12 GMT

I'm from England and have been teaching myself blacksmithing (searching every nook and cranny of Anvilfire !)for the last year or so. Thanks to everyone at Anvilfire for your help. My Question is,what finishes could I use for indoor fire baskets,dogs and tools. I would prefer to use a cold finish rather than a black heat if posible. I have tried a product called zebo but it does't seem to dry !. Any help would be greatfully received.
   Matt D - Wednesday, 08/28/02 21:30:33 GMT

Cutting Heavy Sheet Steel

Y'all have forgotten my favorite sheet-cutting tool: The Beverly Throatless shear. When you have lots of unique shapes to cut out of sheet metal, the Beverly is hard to beat, especially if the cut parts are going to be further formed, in which case the warping doesn't hurt so much and can occasionally help you on your way.

The last I knew the Beverly (usually the B-2 model, though a B-1 will work with a cheater bar) was considered essential equipment for SCA armor shops.

Saber saws and angle grinders can get the job done, but SLOOOOLY and NOISILY!

The Beverly doesn't come cheap, (somewhere around $600 for a B-2) but it is built to last darn near forever.

I've heard that Harbor Freight has a Beverly copy for a fraction of the price of the real thing, but I also hear that it (like so many of their products) is a piece of junk which requires constant fiddling to make it work.
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 08/28/02 21:37:04 GMT

John, I have one of the Harbor Freight knock offs of the Beverly throatless. It's much better made than I expected, and I have never had to "fiddle" with it. I've not used it a LOT, but I have used it several times. Works well for me.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 08/28/02 22:49:27 GMT

Firetool Finishes Matt, I use DeRusto Barbeque Black high temperature paint. It is a lacquer based graphite pigment paint. I apply it directly over clean scale. It comes in spray cans and regular brushable paint. I apply the brushable with a rag.

The only problem with high temperature graphite based paints is that they have very little binder. When the paint gets a year old or so it "chalks" or comes off on your hands. This is not a problem on andirons and such but it IS a problem on handles. Flat black paint by the same manufacturer can be used on the handles.

If you don't have DeRusto products in England then look for a similar product. Old fashioned "stove black" or stove polish is a different thing and does not work very well.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/29/02 01:40:11 GMT

Hardy for me but Easy for you,,
I have a question a bout Hardy tools. Re I-forge demo # 143 The part of the demo that says a solid hardy tool base can ruin or break an anvil ? All the hardy tools I have seen are a solid tapered fit, ie you have to bump them with a hemmer from beneath the anvil to release them once they are jammed in by the force applied during working with them.
Am I reading the demo incorrectly or is there more to the solid hardy tool than I am aware ?
I am keen to build a few hardy tools but now I am not sure if a solid base that has a tight fit is any good or not ?

Thanks in advance for your help, great site.
   Jimme - Thursday, 08/29/02 04:08:36 GMT

Matt-- hie thee to a gunsmith's, or a sporting goods dealer, and pick up some black gun finish. Birchwood-Casey sells one called Presto Black, which works well, yielding a satiny black finish that lasts... IF-- and this is a big IF-- the finish is satiny smooooooth to begin with. Otherwise the stuff hangs up in the crannies and won't flush off and turns into an orangey crudola. There are lots of old tyme home brew formulae, using old nails and acid, etc., that will do it, too. Somebody here is selling one based on silver nitrate that works well.
   miles undercut - Thursday, 08/29/02 04:12:29 GMT

Firetool finishes.

Blackfriars paints make a heat resistant stove enamel, or for other firetools and companion sets etc, use a Simonize satin black aerosol avalable from your local car spares shop, this is also quite tolerant of heating without too much discolouration.
   fetttler - Thursday, 08/29/02 04:27:03 GMT

Hello Everybody--I'm a student teacher at a local high school and I am in the neverending search for lesson plans. As the Gods would have it, I am currently slated to take on 3 sections of Jewelry and Metalworking. I only have about a semester's worth of experience in the subject but I am forever smitten with the art and would really appreciate any lesson plans or ideas for units that are floating around out there.
   - copperKING - Thursday, 08/29/02 05:18:12 GMT

besides blacksmithing my other hobbie is making maille (chainmaille of rings of wire) and i was scrounging around the local scrapyard and i found what looked to be 3/32" mild steel wire, i got it home and played with it and found it to be flux cored wire, i picked up 3 60lb spools of the stuff... is there a possible blacksmithing use for this stuff? as i do not have a wire feed welder (and certainly no access to one that would use such large wire)
Mike Kruzan
   Mike Kruzan - Thursday, 08/29/02 09:09:21 GMT

Turley Forge Blacksmithing School made it to the pages of the Wall Street Journal on August 16! I got a free plug in an article titled "Never Stop Learning" by Robert J. Hughes. The author was seeking out classes dealing with "obscure and esoteric skills", among which were falconry, trapeze skills, and a one day archeological dig. You get the idea. I enjoyed the exposure in such a prestigious rag. However, Mr. Hughes makes a common American mistake in the use of the word, "smithy". He is certain that a smithy is a person standing out under a tree, as he thinks Henry Wadsworth Longfellow suggests. Lest we forget: "The smith, a mighty man is he with large and sinewy hands".
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 08/29/02 12:45:03 GMT

Jewelry making lesson plans-

copperKING, contact me by email and I can help you out. Back in the dark ages I taught silversmithing, and it won't be difficult for me to come up with a few resources and suggestions for you. I WILL need to know what level you're plannning to teach and what your studio resources are. If you click on my name it will open an email link.

Rich Waugh
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/29/02 14:27:58 GMT

About a month ago I asked you about a Whitney angle iorn notcher. You were right on regarding the company and the tool. Here is my current problem. The notcher uses muscle powered mechanical energy to force a 90 degree notch die through a 2 inch x1/4 (max) angle iron. The thrust is created by a spindle and sleve that have complimentary, semi-circular "threads cut into them. The "threads" are filled with 5/32 ball bearings. When the spindle is turned, it is forced downward, creating the pressure that activates the die. The sleeve is threaded into the heavy casting that is the frame of the notcher.

My problem is that the threads in the frame that engage the sleeve have been wiped out.(I think the ball bearings jammed and the sleeve threads were used to created pressure.) Can you suggest a way to secure the sleeve in the frame to replace the damaged threads? Is there any kind of epoxy that would hold the sleeve in place? You were right about replacement parts. Only problem is cost. A new frame is more than 66%the cost of the whole unit. I would like to repair and use this tool if possible, and would apprecite your comment.

Don Agostine
   Don Agostine - Thursday, 08/29/02 14:59:39 GMT

Hardy Shank Fits: Jimme, Hardies and other tools that fit the anvil should drop in and slip out without wedging. The hardie hole location is the weakest point on the anvil and the fits ARE NOT supposed to be a tapered fit.

Silversmith's and tinsmith's tools (stakes) with tapered shanks are designed to fit either a stake plate designed to hold them OR be set in a stump like a bickern or stake anvil. Most stake plates are not heavy enough to take the pounding of blacksmithing. They are cast iron and I have seen many broken stake plates.

Old anvils had punched and drifted holes that were often crooked and tapered. They ARE NOT tapered on purpose and ARE NOT a tapered fit. Modern anvils have either cast (cored) hardie holes or broached holes that are much straighter than the old hand punched holes. The hardie to fit my old Hay-Budden is both tapered and crooked, and only fits one way. . . I should probably dress it to fit in all directions even though it would be a little looser.

This past weekend was the first time I had ever used a hardie that was actually a snug slip fit on an anvil. Most are a fairly sloppy fit. Other tools that fit the hardie hole can be even looser fits. Tools like bottom swages and sets only need the shank to keep them from falling off the anvil and they can be VERY loose fits or even have round shanks. I commonly use the old tools with 7/8" shanks on my anvils with 1-1/8" holes. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 08/29/02 15:23:47 GMT

Ball Screw Threads Don, The only repair that I can think of that would hold up is to machine a straight bore in the machine and press in a bushing with the correct threads and a shoulder to prevent slipping.

Almost all ball screw races are hardened like ball bearing races. I'm surprised at the construction you described but often tools of this type are made with whatever works for a reasonable time. I suspect the failure is due to lack of lubrication OR abuse. If you use a cutting tool of this type to cut just slightly thicker material it will usualy fail in a very short time.

You might be better off to convert the tool to a hydraulic action using a bottle jack. The force required with flat dies is 37 tons. With the hook point dies normaly used in these tools a 20 ton bottle jack MIGHT work. If the dies have been resharpened different than originaly they may take a lot more force AND may have led to the tools failure.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/29/02 15:38:12 GMT

Many appologies to those that have tried to register for the Slack-Tub Pub in the past couple weeks!

I had closed down a dozen or so "extra" mailboxes to cut down on SPAM. One was acidentaly the pub registration address.

Slack-Tub Pub Registration Form

   - guru - Thursday, 08/29/02 16:51:17 GMT

Frank; I usually point out to people that calling a smith a smithy is the same as calling a mechanic a garage. Hope someone points out the mistake to the editor!

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 08/29/02 17:00:49 GMT

Mr. Turley /// Smith /// Smithy
Dear Mr. Turley,
The more often a business person gets his name in the press, the better for the business.
The smith/smithy error is a prime opportunity for you to write a letter, of correction, to the editor and have it published in that esteemed (by many), newspaper.
I suggest that the letter be informative and most important humourous. (Anger would tend to alienate the editor and the readership).
Indeed, I, personally, would send such a letter explaining the term "smithy". A quoting of the salient short portion of Mr. Longfellow's poem would be very useful. I also suggest that the letter be accompanied by a brief story about how art blacksmithing almost died and was saved "from the brink" by several people in the 1970's. (i.e. Mr. Bealer, et al).
You might also mention that the craft is experiencing a Renaissance today, and that highly artistic work is currently being fashioned. (this is exemplified in Ms. Donna Z. Meilach"s latest revised books.). A picture or two of such art, will probably guarantee publication of your brief article.
Do not be too modest either, mention your Soutwest blacksmithing book co-authored by you and a professor which was published by the "..." University press. (i. e. blacksmithing is cerebral as well as physical.
One more suggestion is offered, TELL the editor that your courses and venue should be mentioned in the article as a modest quid pro quo, for the article.
I believe that this publication error is an opportunity that should be quickly followed up before the editor and readership quickly forget about it., ("strike while the atricle is hot", excuse me for the cliché, it was an irresistable urge).
I have appreciated the generosity of you sharing your expertise, and taking the time to answer my and other persons questionson this website. It is appreciated.
Regards to all,
from a cooling (phew!!!) G.W.N.
   slag - Thursday, 08/29/02 18:35:12 GMT

Treadle hammer, Power hammer

Treadle hammer design: I found a very simple lever mechanism that can be used to make a vertical motion treadle hammer. It is called the "Peaucellier straight line mechanism" Have a look in "Pictorial Handbook of Technical Devices" by Graftsein and Schwartz, published by Chemical Publishing co., inc. New York. Published in 1971. Loads of other usefull stuff in there as well. (Building a treadle hammer is more complicated than a power hammer!)

I am filling pages with drawings and calculations for my power hammer. I have searched everywhere for a guideline on counterweights on crankwheels. The crank has a connecting rod going to one end a rocking bar. The rocking bar has a fulcrum in the middle, with the hammer head suspended on the other end. My mind tells me that the counterweight must be equal in weight to the connecting rod and half the weight of the rocking bar. Is this correct? Or is it only the connecting rod that must be considered?

Is there a simple and easy way to use a automobile clutch for a power hammer? Is it necessary to have a second flywheel on the driven side (hammer side) of the clutch? What are the advantages of putting a second flywheel in? If I put a second flywheel in I obviously need to put a braking mechanism on it.

Maybe I won't be using a mechanical clutch as I found a couple of old flat belt wheels, maybe I'll go for a slip clutch on the belt using a dolly wheel.

My anvil weighs 280 kg. 1:15 being the optimum, will a 28kg hammer work better than a 19kg hammer? If I get better results with a lighter hammer then I will walk that way.

(I cut the weight of my treadle hammer in half and am finally getting it to work as it should, heavier isn't always better. A lighter hammer going faster?


   Tiaan Burger - Thursday, 08/29/02 19:44:41 GMT

I forgot to ask: On the power hammer page there is a table of specs for all the little giant hammers. In this table is a line "industrial Rule" Can you please explain this?
   Tiaan Burger - Thursday, 08/29/02 19:46:38 GMT

Power Hammer Design:


On power hammers more is better IF you have good control. For decorative work a 200 pound or 100 kg hammer is a very good size that will handle both light and heavy work. Anything from 25 pounds (11kg) up to 500 pounds (225 Kg) is suitable the one many shop. Treadle hammers must be rated in human power terms so there is a limit in size.

The 15:1 rule is the optimum for reducing transmission of shock to the floor with the least material. 10:1 is a common ratio when heavy foundations are used. But 20:1 is used in the best heavy duty hammers.

The industrial rating is ram weight to cross section to be forged. This is the minimum ratio for efficient forging in a production situation (IE making money). In the past this was 50 pounds to 1 inch (23 Kg per 645 sq. cm OR 36 Kg per 10 sq. cm). However, today that ratio is higher because much of the steel forged is high carbon or alloy steel.

This ratio assumes the comparitive hammers to be similar in performance.

Counter balance depends on the masses involved and how they are linked together. On hammers like the Bradley, Dupont, Fairbanks and Little Giant only the horizontal component of the imbalance is canceled to keep the hammer from rocking back and forth, the ram weight is not balanced. Some mechanisms are difficult to balance and it takes quite a bit of thought to figure it out.

The crank wheels on the above hammers are NOT flywheels. they are balance and brake wheels. Some horizontal beam hammers had flywheels to smooth the action but most power hammers are NOT flywheel driven machines. A flywheel makes the machine hard to start AND to stop. If a flywheel is applied to a power hammer drive train it should be on the driver side of the clutch and run constantly.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/29/02 20:38:19 GMT

My brother recently bought an anvil at an auction after waiting for a long while to find one cheap enough. It is an Attwood and has 82 marked on it and appears to be wrought. Ever heard of the brand?
   Garry - Friday, 08/30/02 03:17:33 GMT


The Atwood was probably manufactured in Sheffield, England, sometime between 1800 and 1850. It's an Old English Pattern, similar to the London Pattern, but with smoother lines.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 08/30/02 03:40:03 GMT

Dear Guru, I recently purchased my first power hammer. I found the hammer through the Anvilfire web site Power Hammer page. The seller did not ship all the items I purchased. The value of these items was $500.00. I live in the northwest part of the country, the seller is from PA. This distance means I'm unable to seek satisfaction in court. Losing out on the $500.00 wont break me, it's just the idea of being ripped off. There is probably no way to get my merchandise but please remind everyone to be carefull when dealing at long distance. Thank You, Davey
   davey - Friday, 08/30/02 03:53:13 GMT

Lessee if I got this straight, now: man does a piece for a national publication on academies of esoteric skills. He could have included the Acme School of Home Brain Surgery, the Paragon Institute of Do-it-Yourself Orthodonture and the Nonpareil Academy of Exotic Dance. But he did not. Nope, instead, what he did was, he used that space to throw some free ink toward smiting, bringing perhaps some clients and who knows, maybe some work, to the door of one of the brethren and helped make the public aware that we exist. BUT: he made a dumb mistake, allegedly. So, nobody here ever did anything like that, right? So the thing to do is write a snotty letter and embarrass him in front of his boss as an illiterate and a lazy reporter, right? Lotta class there, you betcha. And best of all, he'll be sure and mention smiting in the book he is prolly working on, the one about arcane academic pursuits, right?
   miles undercut - Friday, 08/30/02 04:09:51 GMT

Peter Wright anvils- what sizes by weight were Peter Wright anvils made in?. Are they still being made?
   mark patrick - Friday, 08/30/02 07:00:39 GMT

Tiaan & group, An example of the Peaucellier S L mechanism can be found at http://www.iesco.ip/math/java/geo/hantenki/hantenki.htm/ interesting! May be easier to inter a search using "Peaucellier"

   Snow Smith - Friday, 08/30/02 07:25:11 GMT

If you want to forge some hardened steel, is it necessary to anneal it first or can you just bring it up to bright yellow and start hitting? If not why not?
   Herb - Friday, 08/30/02 08:07:57 GMT

Herb, I think it depends on what kind of hardened steel but usually, just heating the steel up will soften and stress relieve it. If you are dealing with a high chromium and/or high molybdenum tool steel, anneal it first as it softens very slowly even at high heat. If you are working with a high carbon tool steel, a yellow heat might be a bit hot. If it is a hardenable alloy grade of steel, heat it to a good red heat after forging and allow it to air cool before you re-harden it.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 08/30/02 12:46:46 GMT

Peter Wright: Mark, Peter Wright anvils stopped being sold in the US in the late 1930's and I think the company went out of business earlier, probably related to the great stock market crash of 1928 and the depression. They made anvils from 45 to 500 pounds and also post vises. However, vises were considered such a standardized tool that few makers put their name on them.
   - guru - Friday, 08/30/02 15:32:56 GMT

Hammer Deal: Davey, My understanding is that you got a very good hammer that is fully operational, not missing any parts and that you are running it. I checked out the particular (rare) machine in its previous home and it was the finest in its class that I have ever seen. You also got a very good deal, the hammer selling for about 20% less than market price. If you wanted to sell the hammer today you could make a sizable profit.

In fact, if you take care of the machine, run it for 10 or 20 years, you will still be able to get more for it than you paid as well as having made an inflation beating investment. There is almost nothing else on the market that is that good of an investment. You can buy new machines for much less but they start depreciating in real dollars the moment you unload them from the truck.

As to listings on the Power hammer Page, we list dozens of manufacturers that do not pay us a penny or even drop us a note to say thanks when they make sales from our listings. We are not responsible for deals made by those that DO advertise. However, at least these folks support anvilfire.
   - guru - Friday, 08/30/02 15:55:52 GMT

Forging hardened steel: Herb, QC pretty much covered it. However, "hardened steel" covers a wide range from medium carbon steels to high carbon alloy tool steels. In medium carbon steels you can often get away with heating and working a section (such as on jack hammer bits) while in high carbon steels heating one end of a hardened part may produce cracking and disastrous results. Even in the annealed state tool steels are sensitive to thermal shock and need to be warmed before putting into the full heat of the forge. If fully hardened many of these steels should be normalized before and after forging.

When dealing with tool steels many blacksmiths manage to "get away" with things that are often not recomended. That does not mean it always works or produces the best results. Forging and heat treating references give particulars on many specific alloys. The procedures are not always the same. In years past is was recommended to anneal all tool steels as part of the heat treating process or after forging. Today that is no longer true and in many cases what WAS considered the norm in the past has been found to be detrimental when applied to many modern steels.

The forging temperature of steels drop with the increase of carbon. Reccomended forging temperature for low carbon steel is a maximum of 2,400-2,500°F (a low yellow) and high carbon steel as low as 2,100°F MAX. (a bright orange in low light). Steel needs to be evenly heated through the center before forging but long soaking heats are not recommended for any steel.
   - guru - Friday, 08/30/02 16:39:52 GMT

Guru, thanks for the info, as usual I made a printout and will work through it with pencil and paper at hand!

Next question: I urgently need specs on mild steel to work out the spring/beam dimensions for my power hammer. (Similar to the Apalachian PH on the JYH page)

The closest I can find is for 1025 which gives 60 to 103 000 psi, and modulus of elasticity at 40 to 90 million psi. The problem I have is the ranges between the min and max are extremely high.

Another book gave the tensile strength for MS at 25000 psi.

It may be that I have the right figures but I would like to be sure! I need Ultimate strength (tension) in pounds per square inch as well as the modulus of elasticity for mild steel.

I remember you saying that one can make a spring out of mild steel, and due to a very limited budget I decided that I will do the same. (Much cheaper than having one custom made by a specialist!)

The spring will be 55" long, three or four full length leaves, seven or nine leaves in total, each leaf will be 1/4" thick.

This is more engineering than blacksmithing!

Machinery's Handbook states in the "Strength of materials" chapter that one should work in a safety factor, and accordingly, using the guidelines, I worked it out to be around 15. So, do I divide the tensile strength by this factor before calculating the spring formulas or do I work out the spring dimensions and then multiply it by this factor?

Or is it at all necessary to work in the factor?

Strange thing, my brother studied mechanical engineering at college, these things were run of the mill for him, but because he never got to apply it in real life he forgot all of it!
   Tiaan - Friday, 08/30/02 19:01:12 GMT

Lastly, I read through your comments, my hammer will be a horizontal beam hammer. The flywheel will be on the driving (motor) side of the clutch.

The pulleys I have available gives a stroke rate of 300/minute using a standard 1450 rpm motor. Is this too fast for a horizontal beam hammer, keeping in mind that the beam/ spring will be made from mild steel?
   Tiaan - Friday, 08/30/02 19:07:52 GMT

Peter Wright. I found out recently that Peter Wright did mark their leg vises with a stamp on top of the solid, mortar-like box, as installed. Because the stamp was small, it was often obliterated in use. There are three lines. The top line, in a mild curve reads, P WRIGHT. The middle says, PATENT, and the bottom line says, SOLID BOX. These are beautifully finished vises with lathe turnings visible on the box and the screw head. The legs are always beautifully chamfered as well as the pivot beam. Furthermore, if the box is removed and inspected, there is usually a single initial in caps on the underside. I imagine this is an inspection mark. Thanks to friend, John Burt, woodworker extraordinary, who helped me with this identification.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 08/30/02 19:41:26 GMT


I was once told that there was no such thing as bad publicity. Well, it sort of depends. A lot of these fellows try their best and still miss details, even IF they spell your name right. Others are ignorant of both history and reality, and will make hash out of any event that they report. We once had a reporter have the wrong side attack the wrong way and the wrong winner of the battle. And it was a reenactment of Hastings, 1066! (...as if the South won the WBTS.) We do our best at "press grooming"- providing them with as much written and background material as they can use- and sometimes they still get it wrong. Grooming is good, because with some of these folks, what they don't know they will make up.

Is there such a thing as bad publicity? Well, yes there is. Ask any movie or theatre critic. The reporter's tone and opinion does have an impact. But on the whole any thing generally positive, if a tad inaccurate, is to a person's or organization's benefit. Sometimes the "story" works out better than the reality, and generates more interest. Like many things it's more an art than a science.

Cool and cloudy on the banks of the Potomac. Firing up the forge tonight!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 08/30/02 20:21:25 GMT

Bruce; I had a reporter quote me as saying "Brian Boru was the first and last king or Ireland" Arghhhh makes me look like an ignorant twit. A *good* reporter might ask you to look through their copy before submitting it. (and then there are the Editors who just use spellcheck instead of doing their job...)

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 08/30/02 20:26:44 GMT

hello, iv been making basic chail mail for a while now and i want to get into making full plate mail..the only problem is i dont know where to get the material(not the tools). im looking for the raw metal and stuff. i understand it comes in sheets? could someone please tell me where i could order or buy these.
   Piccolo - Friday, 08/30/02 21:08:06 GMT

Some of the old tools like forge blowers and post drills have wooden crank handles that are held on by bolts with peened over ends that makes them impossible to remove without damage. When the wooden handle binds up due to dirt or rust, has anyone figured out an easy way to free it up without damage or replacing the bolt?
   Neal Bullington - Friday, 08/30/02 23:49:31 GMT

This isn't metalworking question, but maybe someone can help. What is Vulcanized Rubber? As opposed to some other kind of rubber, and why would it make better boot souls?
   Bond-JamesBond - Saturday, 08/31/02 02:14:04 GMT

Jock D ,I have got the reline kit for my NC forge.let me know when we can get togther and put it in . thanks jojo
   jojo - Saturday, 08/31/02 02:44:10 GMT

A reporter who asks you to read her copy before she submits it would, and should, be fired on the spot off any good newspaper or magazine. Check quotes and facts, yes. Submit copy for review, never. Two reasons: 1) Giving a story subject a glimpse of the copy invites a lawsuit seeking an injunction against publication of the paper or magazine, unlikely a court would ever grant it, but still a nightmare for a publisher. 2) She would not then be a reporter, but a public relations agent, a flack. Typos, errors in reporting, miscalls, bad judgment, hurt feelings, bruised agos-- they are all the price you pay for the First Amendment. The press has an absolute right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to print any thing it damn pleases and don't you ever forget it. Or let ANYBODY abridge it. This is why God in Her infinite wisdom gave us libel suits.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 08/31/02 02:46:51 GMT

Goodyear first vulcanized rubber in 1839 by combining rubber and sulfur, then applying heat and pressure. Nowadays, other chemicals may be involved including accelerators (catalyzers) to speed up the process. Vulcanizing provides greater strength and resiliency.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 08/31/02 03:01:03 GMT

Bond /// Vulcanized Rubber.
Before Charles Goodyear's discovery of natural rubber vulcanisation, rubber was too sticky in the summer. In the winter the same rubber became hard and cracked very easily.
In 1839, Goodyear discovered that practical, useful rubber could be made by vulcanisation. (i.e. the rubber stopped becoming sticky and/or hard and brittle.) His vulcanisation process consisted in heating the rubber latex with sulfur (and,optionally, naphtha) to 113-130 degrees centigrade. The sulfur cross linked the long natural polymer straight chains that natural rubber is comprised of. This gave the rubber the desirable properties. (actually the latex is primarily a chemical called cis-polyisoprene with molecular weights of 100,000 to several million atoms long.). The process worked even better when done under pressure. All kinds of additives are usually added to rubber during vulcanisation, such as anti-oxidants, dyes, carbon black etc. (the carbon increases the natural rubber's tensile strength enormously.).
Please note that vulcanisation is used for natural rubber. Synthetic rubber manufacture requires other chemical treatments/reactions. Some common synthetic rubbers are e.g. Buna-S rubber, Nitrile rubber, neoprene etc. etc.
The natural rubber comes from tapping the trunks of rubber trees. (Hevea brasiliensis)The sap latex oozes out of the cut and is collected, in a manner similar to maple syrup collection.
Hope that makes sense as written.
Regards to all from the G.W.N.
   slag - Saturday, 08/31/02 03:06:09 GMT

Neil /// Binding wooden crank handles.
Try a low viscosity "oil" (really a solvent) like W.D.-40. (other organic solvents will work here like petroleum distillate mixtures (e.g. "Gunk").You can also try heating the metal part in order to get it to expand and, hopefully,free up the part. Be careful heating (go easy), as the solvents could catch fire. A few heat-cold solvent cycles will, usually, free up the part. The watchword is patience. Using too much force can break the parts. With as little time it come free.
   slag - Saturday, 08/31/02 03:18:59 GMT

Just kidding. The devil made me do it, and I take it all back. Let Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Ashcroft and Powell read and approve all the copy in the New York Times before it goes to press, ditto before Rather, Jennings and Brokaw go on the air, and let's make sure Ken Lay okays all the Enron stories, let Britney okay the reviews of her music, let Julia Roberts have a first peek at her reviews, and, for heaven's sake, make sure Harbor Freight and Centaur approve of what we say about their wares. Okay? I mean, if you can't say something nice, why, sheesh! Now, everybody join hands and let's all sing, a-one-and-a-two: "In every way, every day, things are getting better and better...."
   miles undercut - Saturday, 08/31/02 04:41:03 GMT

Dealing with the Press: In a distant past I did a lot of press interviews. Sometimes they got it right but they often they got it wrong. If you are in a position of dealing with the press, as we often are as demonstrators of the lesser known arts, it pays to carry a written statement with you. A paragraph about what you do, one about how you learned your craft and one about why you do it. Include a phone number and e-mail address. A photo would not hurt. Let the interviewer ask their questions and then hand them the written statement. Most reporters would like to get it right. If you provide a written statement then you have done all you can.

Press Releases are another way of dealing with the press. These are normaly sent to editors of publications you may be interested in getting some free publicity from. Call and get the name of the RIGHT editor. There are often subject editors as well as regional editors. Editors are always looking for articles to fill space and LOVE it when they don't have to write it or pay to have it written. Send a nice PROFESSIONAL photo of you or your work. Send both a black and white print and a large format color slide. The copy should be clean, concise and printed double spaced. remember Who, What, Where, When and Why. Product announcement type releases are usualy 500 words or less, short articles 800 - 1000. Be prepared to send them out about every six weeks.

When I was selling Mass2 we had two product releases, a 250 word and a 500 word, and sent both along with the photo and slide. Both had an initial sentence that could be used alone as a caption if nothing else was used. In the 18 months we were doing this we got about $35,000 worth of free advertising. Almost every publication we sent our press release to ran it with photo and a couple more than once. Both long and short releases were used as well as both photos. Ocassionaly an editor would tweek our copy to fit or to suit the publication, but most often it ran exactly as we provided.

Good and Bad Publicity depend on the business you are in. For many celebrities ANY publicity is good publicity if it keeps their name in front of the public. It lets producers, interviewers and others know they are still alive and possibly available. It is the reason most celebrities shrug off the bizarr fabrications about them in the tabliods. In Virginia we had a murder at a small law school that made national headlines. The result of the free publicity that the school existed was that they are now swamped with applications when previously they had a hard time attracting students. But businesses, individuals (even countries) can have bad publicity that results in their losing money as a result.

   - guru - Saturday, 08/31/02 06:53:26 GMT

Steel Plate: Piccolo, steel plate and sheet is purchased the same place as all steel, from wharehouses and service centers. In North America plate and sheet products come in 4 foot by 8 foot and 5 by 10 foot or longer sheets. Some material comes in rolls called "coils" 24" wide. In most cases you will need to purchase a full sheet. If you cannot handle the full size they will cut it for you for a fee. But you will still need to purchase the full sheet as well as possibly pay a minimum. Most service centers won't cut steel for you ahead of time unless you have an account so plan on waiting. . . Mcmaster-Carr sells 1/32" and 1/16" thick sheet in small sizes on-line but that may be too thin.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/31/02 07:09:18 GMT

Mild Steel Springs: Tiaan, all carbon steel has the same modulus of elasticity (springyness). However, you can deflect hardened spring steel well beyond the point that mild steel yields (bends). Up to that point they are the same.

Spring design is a specialty within engineering. In your case the problem is the dynamics of the machine and determining the loads on the spring. On spring helve hammers there is only one speed, given a certain mass and a certain spring stiffness that works. Horsepower also comes into play. The design looks simple but it is not. There is usualy a bit of trial and error involved.

Note that the heavier the ram weight the slower the hammer should be designed to run.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/31/02 07:36:23 GMT

One of the biggest frustrations in working with metals today is the HUGE proliferation of standard grades and propriatary grades. Terms like mild steel were once sufficiently descriptive that you could buy it again and again with resonable certainty of getting the same material. Today, you can buy ultra-low carbon steel (.02%) Low carbon steel (.08-.15) medium carbon steel (.2-.3) high carbon steel (.3-.6) and tool steel (.7-1%). Then there are alloy steels, stainless steels, specialty tool steels, structural steels, steel grades from ASTM, SAE, API, ASME, ABS, ad nauseum. Each nation has it's own specifications and they do not necessarily agree with American specifications for steel for the same purpose. Then you get into special propriatary grades made only by one steel company, or standard grades that are given a "brand name" by each company (tool steels are often branded). Any standard grade can also be slightly modified and you have yet another grade made for one specific application. Some grades have no chemistry requirements, just mechancial properties, so you might not get the same chemistry from different suppliers. Multiply all of that by the many possible thermal processes like full anneal, process anneal, stress relieved, quenched and tempered, normalized, carburized, liquid nitrided, plasma nitrided, etc., and you begin to get dizzy. Is it any wonder why a metallurgist would take up blacksmithing? What better way to work out frustrations than to beat the living daylights out of the stuff?
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/31/02 11:56:35 GMT

...not to mention killed, semi-killed, rimmed, capped, aluminum killed, silicon killed, re-sulfurized, electric furnace steel, BOF steel, open-hearth steel, steel made from scrap, ore, or pellets, air melted, vacuum melted, vacuum degassed, Electro-slag refined, argon stirred, nitrogen stirred, cold rolled, hot rolled, control rolled, recrystalization control rolled, ingot cast, continuous cast.......and each process imparts slightly different properties to the steel....isn't progress wonderful?
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/31/02 12:22:38 GMT

Looking for info/pictures of Viking Age domestic iron
(not weapons) objects important to every day life, to be used in a possible beginners level class. Off Da!
   Fred Mikkelsen - Saturday, 08/31/02 12:47:04 GMT

In Old Norse; SMITHJA, the word for forge.
SMITHR, The word for one who forges.
I wonder if Vikings ever confused the place with the person?
   Fred Mikkelsen - Saturday, 08/31/02 13:07:47 GMT

Fred Mikkelsen. Begin by putting your search engines on Mästermyr.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 08/31/02 13:54:29 GMT

Si, you are a technological treasure. Your lateat post has inspired the plaigeristic portion of what I choose to call my mind.
"Electroslag", (wow what a marvellous word).
I hereby, claim an option for proprietary right of proposed use of same, for the said term for 24 months. Should I adopt said appelation, within said option term , you; erudite, Quenchcrack, shall be commensurately, suitably remunerated.
"Electroslag" is to "Slag", as "New Improved Tide" is to mere "tide".
This, above-denoted, drivel is fair warning that to all Anvilfire users and lost net-surfer stray that the use of the moniker "electroslag", by any other persons, businesses, their respective successors and assigns shall not be tolerated, and shall be persecuted to the full limits of THE LAW.
Regards, to all, from the G.W.N.,
   slag - Saturday, 08/31/02 16:08:07 GMT

Could you tell me or lead me to a site where I can find the year an old Victor Cutting Torch was made the number is 2450 and the ser. is 127050 or 127058 can't read the last number to well but do know it is 0 or 8. I need to know just how old this is before I put to much money in it.
   James Strozewski - Saturday, 08/31/02 17:18:00 GMT

Thanks for the vulcanized rubber bit, how do you get your info? I refuse to believe that all of this useless knowledge is stuck in your head. If it is, I am tempted to re-christen you "Johnny 5 Slag" See Short Circuit 2 "MORE INPUT!!"
   Bond-JamesBond - Saturday, 08/31/02 18:27:28 GMT

Viking Iron: Fred, We covered the Mästermyr Project in our ABANA 2002 edition of the NEWS and have several pages of photos. For detail images from the book on the Mästermyr Find see The Mästermyr Project, An effort by the members of TheForge
   - guru - Saturday, 08/31/02 18:59:55 GMT

Victor Torch James, Victor would be the only folks that have that data and I doub't they would take the time to compile it and put it on the web. I have a great deal of old Victor welding equipment that dates from the 1940's and new tips and such fit or are available. If is OLD equipment you shouldn't be putting a lot into purchasing it but maintaining is a different thing. I've seen year old welding equipment that was badly treated that was not worth putting money into. . .

Torch bodies are expensive to maintain if the valves need replacing because they are silver soldered into the body. Sometimes a seat reamer can be used and the valve repaired. But if valves need to be replaced it is often cheaper to replace the body. With Victor equipment a new body will work with old tips and vise versa. That is why I like Victor.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/31/02 19:08:46 GMT

SMITHJA - SMITHR, Smithy and Smith: It is the same slight differenciation in most languages. I suspect this has to do with the age of the craft. The similarities in linguistics also indicates that the art of blacksmithing spread from one civilization to another and was not independently developed in more than one place like other metalworking skills. In the new world the Southern and Central American peoples had developed non-ferrous metalworking while those of North America had not. And neither had iron, having been isolated from the old world during the spread of ironworking.

Kind of makes you believe in the myths about the origins of ironworking involving the gods.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/31/02 19:26:35 GMT

What are your methods of starting coal? All of you. I usually use a good wood fire, and then add coal and hit the air, but since I didn't have enough foresight to store some dry tinder away, everything around is now wet. I'm looking for alternative methods that don't involve a torch. Thanks in advance,
   Bond-JamesBond - Saturday, 08/31/02 19:39:39 GMT

Vulcanized Rubber: Goodyear's invention of adding sulphur to natural rubber and then cooking it, is something that was taught in elementary school social studies and then repeated several times thereafter. It was one of the most important of modern inventions. Without the discovery of Vulcanized rubber the automobile industry would have been much slower to develope and many historical events would have been different or delayed. The availability of rubber and the development of synthetic rubber were key to the events of World War II. WWI was in the horse drawn era but the fast moving armies of WWII relied on dependable rubber tired vehicals, including airplanes.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/31/02 19:43:22 GMT

Starting Coal: Good coal can be started with a twist of several sheets of newsprint. The Frank Turley method is to twist a mushroom shape from the paper and stuff the lit stem down in the tuyere, push some fresh coal around it and then apply a gentle blast of air. Then shovel some fresh coal over the top. I find that it helps to poke a vent in the mound as soon as there is a dense cloud of smoke coming off the coal. This usualy lets the coal smoke ignite and a hot core develope in the mound of coal.

Note that keeping your coal dry helps. Some coal can absorb moisture and is particularly hard to start if it has been soaking in water. Coke is difficult to start and should be cleaned out of the firepot when starting a new fire. The coke is then added to the top and sides of the fresh burining coal.

Since my forge was always handy to an oxy-acetylene torch I always started mine with that. In fact, I had a bracket on my forge on which hung my oxy-acetylene torch and arc welding stinger, all within the most convienient of locations.

If the coal will not start with paper alone then a little kerosene on the paper helps a lot. Short pieces of split wood helps. But you do not need shavings. These are recommended by most old books because almost every shop usualy did some wheel or wagon work and curls of wood from planes and draw knife use were plentiful.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/31/02 20:00:45 GMT

Guru, thanks, I'll try that. The coal is dry, its just that nothing I use to start it is.
   Bond-JamesBond - Saturday, 08/31/02 20:05:20 GMT

Jock and my fellow smiths, I need your help. I have a client in the motion picture industry that needs 60 (probably more and ongoing) sword repros made (blades/assembly only). I've made 20 but have found that I must return to college to keep my real job (the one that pays the mortgage). His demeanor and checks are excellent! A sweet gig if you have the time. I did but won't now. E-mail me. Keep the faith and keep hammerin'. Brian
   Brian Rognholt - Saturday, 08/31/02 20:34:18 GMT

Fred M, try the Swedish Musuem of Antiquities online at www.historiska.se and click on english in the upper left hand corner, then go to collections. They also have a Virtual Reality tour that can be downloaded. Last year they had a multi-page index of thousands of Viking age artifacts that seems to have been done away with. (Sigh) Sic transit media.
   John McPherson - Saturday, 08/31/02 22:45:14 GMT

Dear Slag,
It is granted hereunto the aforementioned party of the first part, aka, Slag, by the party of the second part, aka, quenchcrack, all rights and privileges accruing thereunto upon the adoption of the moniker, Electroslag, now and into perpetuity, with due consieration to the aforementioned renumeration, to be defined, to our mutual accord, at a time and place of mutual convenience. Amen.
   - quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/31/02 22:54:18 GMT

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