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

This is an archive of posts from August 9 - 17, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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I don't know if this is another internet urban legend or not but I recieved this today from a friend:

Interesting.................... (From a friend in Seattle)

This week I received a card in the mail that looked all right -- It said "vote for your favorite cola - Pepsi or Coke-and receive a complementary 12 pack" It didn't look suspicious--but for some reason I kept looking at it. THEN I FOUND IT !!
At the bottom of the card here is a VERY small statement. It is SO small it is hard to read--but here is what it says----" By completing this form, you agree that sponsors and co-sponsors of this offer may telephone you , even if your number is found on a do not call registry or list "

This REALLY upset me and I just wanted all my friends to be aware of this way to get around the "do not call" law !! Just think how many people will send this in and their do not call registry will be NO GOOD !! The company's name is MARKET SOLUTION.

Please send this to all your friends that signed up for " do not call" . I think this is just one of what we will get in the future--so READ EVERYTHING before you SIGN AND SEND !! AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT IT.!!!! PLEASE!!
   Habu - Saturday, 08/09/03 00:20:18 EDT

The pub is working! Rougues gallery is still off-line
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/03 01:14:47 EDT

Jock; I REALLY appreciate the conversion to EDT! Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Saturday, 08/09/03 02:17:31 EDT

Habu, that is 100% true. Saw it confirmed officially. WATCH OUT, GUYS! Keep these suckers on their toes, and eventually (hopefully) those toes will break.
   T. Gold - Saturday, 08/09/03 02:28:31 EDT

Wonder if we don't have this spam thing all backwards?
Look, they have clearly established that our viewing an ad is valuable..the market has even defined how valuable.
Computers can now keep track of dinky details and small sums...so it's technically possible....
For us to charge the advertizer for each ad we read!
Now we're talking..and for ads, I go high.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 08/09/03 03:57:18 EDT

Hossfeld Bender Plans:

Dick Moeller and others, here is a link to plans for making a Hossfeld-type bender. This one is designed to use Hossfeld dies for tubing, as it was intended for third-world use ot make wheelchairs. There are complete drawings and directions. Free.

   vicopper - Saturday, 08/09/03 08:00:51 EDT


Thanks! For everything, not just the Pub.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/09/03 08:09:59 EDT

Swage Block: Guru, I just received my Saltfork Craftsmen Swage Block and, being a sand casting, it has a typical sand cast surface. I am setting out to polish up the die cavities and quickly realized this could be a lot like work. How smooth should the die cavities be polished? Just enough to remove surface projections or should I be aiming for mirror finish?
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/09/03 09:43:31 EDT


You've had enough weapons training that you should know that when you aim for a mirror finish, you're going to break something. :)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 08/09/03 10:15:34 EDT

Swage Block: QC, First, you should know better. . you can't get a mirror finish on most CI or ductile due to carbon porosity. . ;) BUT, it SHOULD be as smooth as any of your other forging tools and YES it is a lot of work. Generaly what folks do is give the block a general dusting and then work the areas they think they will use the most.

Cleaning up swage blocks is not just a lot of work, it can be expensive. The last ones I did I spent over $100 in abrasives to do 4 blocks that were VERY GOOD castings (much better than the typical block). I wore out a couple 7-1/2" resinoid wheels, two HD 1" flap wheels, a couple die grinder carbide burrs and assorted other specialty abrasives. But my blocks were SMOOTH all over when done. Getting the large spoon and bowl molds clean was easy compared to the grooves.

I am generally not impressed with the current crop of blocks. Swage blocks should be cast in molds that have been treated with a graphite or ceramic wash to produce a smooth surface. In the first iron age (before 1960) all blocks were cast using fine facing sand. Except for the normal casting defects the finish was as smooth as coarse drawing paper (about a 125 RMS finish in technical terms). IF you wanted it smoother it took very little work. Blocks cast in the 1700's were better than today's. So much for technical progress in the foundry industry. . .

I've delt with some domestic foundries on swage block casting and the problem is that they want high quantity and fitting their production process. Their molders do not even know what "facing sand" sand is and you can't convince them to use any of the readily available mold washes. The result is that most blocks being cast today are not a good product. They are like ASO's or anvils that are not heat treated. . . I hate to say it but I suspect the next crop of good blocks will be coming from Eastern Europe.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/03 11:18:58 EDT

Ok, well I didn't relly mean mirror finish but one that had all the surface irregularities polished out. Can't remember when I last saw a cast iron mirror. I have had a major problem finding grinding burrs and had to hit 3 stores to find a fine grit stone that is not nearly aggressive enough. While I cannot fault the price of the SFC block, and it will probably do just fine for my humble work, the block does require a lot of work. As for progress in the foundry business, well, that is more likely a function of cost and demand vs the best technology available. Remember, fan blades for jet engines are now castings.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/09/03 11:42:00 EDT

Thanks for the great press information. I am a small shop and can run slightly dangerous machinery myself, but wouldn't have my employees do it. For a small shop to punch up to 1/4" mild up to 1" square holes, what is the smallest and safest press for me to buy, new or used? Speed counts, and safety first as we have our first little one on the way...Thank you sir.
   - andrew - Saturday, 08/09/03 12:05:27 EDT


Well, rule of thumb is: perimeter X yeild X material thickness. Or: 4 (perimeter of a 1" square punch) X 18 (tons for A-36) X .25 (material) = 18 ton. 20- 25 ton press would be minimum.
   - grant - Saturday, 08/09/03 12:32:27 EDT

Grinding Polishing: QC, I have found that those face type flap wheels for the little 4-1/2" grinders are very good for making smooth surfaces. They are aggressive enough to do some serious metal removal but also conform to surfaces well enough to put on a fine finish.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/03 12:35:37 EDT

Pete F - I think you have the right of it. Time for US to make money off THEM! Maybe then they'll quit sending all this crap to my email. All in favor...AYE!! (I like this parliamentary procedure stuff. grin)

Paw Paw - aiming (snicker).
   Two Swords - Saturday, 08/09/03 12:53:25 EDT

Press Calculations: Andrew,

Perimiter times thickness (in inches) times 30 tons per square inch for mild steel and A-36.

Grant's yeild on steel does not take into consideration friction and a safety factor. The 30 tons for mild steel comes from an old Whitney-Jensen (now Roper Whitney) catalog. In my experiance it is very close to right. When I've shaved just a tad on the 30 tons I've run into trouble. The safety factor is essential for all punch presses and flywheel ironworkers because metal thicknesses and hardnesses vary. It is also very easy to mistake one gauge sheet for another. . .

So, 4 inches times 1/4" = 1 square inche. So, at least a 30 ton press/ironworker.

Most blacksmiths find ironworkers a VERY productive machine. They cut bar, channel and angle without changing setups and almost all have a punch setup in one end that can also be used for bending with the right dies. Ironworkers also do not require extra tooling in the form of die sets.

An ironworker that can punch that 1" square hole will also shear 2 x 2 x 1/4" angle and 1-1/8" round mild steel. Derate by at least 50% for mill run annealed tool steel and stainless steel.

Stainless is a special case and is very hard on dies and shear blades. In all cases lubrication of the punch and die increase life considerably.

Most new ironworkers are hydraulic but there are a lot of used flywheel iron workers out there.

AND. . don't forget power hammers. Larger power hammers have been fitted with special die sets for shearing and cold punching. The difference in a power hammer die set and punch press die set is that the power hammer tooling must have hard stops so the dieset can bottom out without damage. Calculating tonnage on hammers is tricky and overkill (brute force) is the usual method.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/03 13:01:38 EDT


You're right, Jock! 30 ton it is!
   - grant - Saturday, 08/09/03 13:39:06 EDT

Our blacksmith club, draws club projects out of a hat each meeting. This month's drawing was a "Blown Leaf Scroll". While I have made several leaf scrolls, I do not have any idea of what a blown leaf scroll is. Do ya'll have any ideas?
   Billy T. - Saturday, 08/09/03 13:40:36 EDT

Paw-Paw, the last thing I hit with my old M1 Garrand was Maggies Britches! Spent two years in Army ROTC before they permanently deferred me. I told them I'd been raised in Colorado and had been hunting and fishing all my life. However, as a true sportsman, I felt obligated to eat everything I killed. Bingo...4F.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/09/03 13:48:53 EDT

hey i have been reading your'e forum and i was wandering if you could help me come up with some plans to build a hydraulic press to forge out some pattern desighn blades? thank you very much.scott
   scott vanwinkle - Saturday, 08/09/03 15:45:33 EDT

Blown Leaf: Billy, Never heard of it but it sounds like a fancy name for a scroll with a leaf end that has a "wind blown" look. . Maybe a big Oak leaf with the edges curled against the wind?
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/03 16:09:04 EDT

Hydraulic Presses: Scott, There is a booklet available on the subject through Don Fogg the knife maker. See our links page.

Hydraulic forging presses for small work are power hogs. They need 10 to 15 horsepower in order to be able to move fast enough AND do usefull work. You can get lots of pressure from a small hydraulic pump but the cylinder will move very slow. When need speed (comparitivly speaking) AND high pressure then the horsepower goes way up.

The parts are not cheap. Everyone I know that has built one needed $1500 (US) in parts not including the steel for the frame.

The best alternative is a McDonald Mill (see our book review page). This little rolling mill is over powered with a 1-1/2" HP motor. We are talking about a little machine that you can plug into an ordinary household extension cord and rolls billets slick as a whistle. Check it out. It may be for you. However, it doesn't have the flexibility of a press or power hammer.

   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/03 16:18:41 EDT


Go to www.balconesforge.org. That is the local Blacksmithing org in the San Antonio area. JWGBHF
   Bleeding Heart Forge - Saturday, 08/09/03 16:32:58 EDT

Polishing Swage Blocks: I used darned near every abrasive except tooth paste but I got it fairly well polished. Those round metal finishing doo-dads from 3M that fit in your electric drill work pretty good. I only had down to 60 grit so it could still use a bit of work, especially in the round grooves. Had nothing to fit the small ones. As scaly as my forgings get in the gasser, I am willing to bet the 60 grit is fine enough.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/09/03 17:20:44 EDT

QC, What were you messing around in Maggie's Drawers for? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 08/09/03 17:49:32 EDT

PPW, actually I did pretty good on the rifle range. I had been shooting for many years before I was handed an M1. My dad was an armorer in WW2 and then taught small arms marksmanship. He tought me how to shoot. The poor sods from NYC who had never held a fire arm were lost! Maggies Britches took a lot of lead when those guys got to the line!
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/09/03 18:17:43 EDT

I just took a look at that rolling mill you discusses above and needed to comment. I have a friend in Oklahoma (Journeyman Bladesmith) who created what can only be called a Junk Yard Rolling Mill. It's powered by a 6 cylinder Ford truck engine and transmission (from the junk yard) and a complex mish-mash of sprockets and gears from tractors and chain's from who knows where - maybe some old Harley's. But Ray makes beautiful Damascas with this thing and it's just amazing to watch it work - a bit noisy though - the engine isn't very silent
   - Jerry Crawford - Saturday, 08/09/03 18:19:58 EDT

Well, here's a question that I'm needing an answer to for some research on a novel I'm working on. I hate it when books get something wrong that I happen to know a bit about, and this happens to not be an area I'm too familiar with. Here goes:

In the old days (I'm saying this because I'm not sure what today's smithy uses), there were three barrels to quench metals in: fresh water, salt water, and olive oil. The olive oil was for swords and such, and things that tended to need more flex. I just can't remember what the fresh and salt water was used for... Which gives a harder finish, for say, hammers, and what was the other used for? Thank you!
   Hidaguard - Saturday, 08/09/03 18:36:51 EDT

Ok, my appologies for being a bit hasty with my post, as I've located information pertaining to this. Just for correction, let's see if I have this right... Oil-quench is for a softer finish, fresh is for medium finish, and salt for a harder, but more brittle finish, aye?
   Hidaguard - Saturday, 08/09/03 19:24:27 EDT

Hidaguard, generally the freshwater is in the slack tub and is used just to cool hot iron to make it safe to touch, although it can be used to harden lower carbon steels. The salt water can be used to superficially harden very low carbon steels as the salt makes the quench more effective. Oil, not necessarily olive oil but almost any kind of oil, is used to harden high carbon steels without cracking or distortion. Oil is used because it exctracts the heat more slowly without forming the steam blanket that water does. The term "slack" (as in slack tub) is still commonly used by heat treaters who are applying a slow quench to a hot part (slack quench). Before the knowlege of its toxic nature, some smiths also quenched into mercury. Many smiths had their own secret formula for quenchants that involved soluble salts, urine, spring water, and probably anything else that could be dissolved in plain water. Blacksmithing was only a stones throw from alchemy in many places.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/09/03 19:44:52 EDT

Hideagard, Quenching is only part of the deal. Most tools are tempered after quenching by reheating to a specific temperature, always below the hardening temperature. This normally removes brittleness while at the same time, imparting toughness. See our FAQs and click on "Heat Treating".
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 08/09/03 20:27:25 EDT

swingarmlamp@yahoo.com email to you at that address bounced. Send me a good email address, please.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 08/09/03 20:38:33 EDT

Whee! Now I realize that I know nothing about smithing, haha. What I was going for, more like, was a novice mistake, such as tempering a hammer in the wrong liquid, something that could be easily explained to someone with little to no knowledge of smithwork with as few words as possible. But so far, I'm really enjoying this site. Well... any suggestions for a mistake like I described, or would the tempering mistake hold up?
   Hidaguard - Saturday, 08/09/03 20:55:08 EDT


Also the date and country that you're setting the story in. Whale oil was favored in 19th century America, but would have been out of place in 12th century Mongolia. ;-) You also mght want to take a quick read of my article on historic swordmaking on the Anvilfire Armoury page.

Yes, it drive the rest of us crazy when historical novelists (and movies) blow the details. For a counter to this, try out Paw Paw's "Revolutionary Blacksmith" on the Story page. We know he got the details righ on that one!

Survived the Venture Scout voyage and squall line; nobody drowned! Humid and cool 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) - Saturday, 08/09/03 21:31:58 EDT


Thank you. Gawd knows I try hard enough. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 08/09/03 21:46:35 EDT

Wow Bruce, your article is amazing. There's a lot more to swordmaking than I could have imagined. Let's see... The date and country are both fictitious, however what I was imagining was a sort of Western country with the Eastern ability at swordmaking. Swords are the most used weapons in this nation, but a large minority also use fighting axes. So far you all have been immensely helpful, not to mention further piqueing my interest in smithing/swordmaking. I definitely shall continue visiting, thank you all!
C.S. Rider
   Hidaguard - Saturday, 08/09/03 21:46:59 EDT

Hidaguard, it gets worse. In the 19th century, and possibly earlier, hardening WAS called tempering. Tempering was often called drawing. Today, we call tempering hardening and drawing we call tempering. To be historically accurate, I would think you would want not only the proper description of the process but the historically correct terms. I agree with Atli, read Paw-Paw Wilsons story. He is a smith and a pretty good writer, to boot!
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/09/03 21:54:32 EDT


Just pretty good? Sniff! All right for you! (LOL)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 08/09/03 22:25:34 EDT

Good Lord... Maybe she'll make furniture, might be easier, LOL! Hard to fight with a loveseat though, I'd say... Well, I guess I shall just continue learning, and hope I get it right. Not to mention Paw's help, lol. (Thanks!)
   Hidaguard - Saturday, 08/09/03 23:01:40 EDT

Hidaguard, Knowing your technology is what makes good fiction hold up. If you use REAL technology then you need to be dead-on. The characters may not know more than anyone did about real metallurgy at the time BUT you must blend the modern reader's knowledge and frame of reference with that of the story. If you use imaginary technology or magic then it needs to be something that you are reasonably be sure will NEVER be invented BUT sounds plausible.

The greatest writers of science fiction have also been great scientists in their own right OR ran their ideas past knowledgeable people. The great Isaac Asimov was not just a writer of science fiction he was also a University Professor and wrote science text books and books on religion and humor. When he invented a future science he KNEW it was in the realm of possibilities (he invented the term robotics among others) and when he invented a truly fictional science (the positronic brain) he made darn sure it was something that would never be invented.

When Anne McCaffrey writes about computer technology in her her Dragon Riders of Pern series she was very careful to be as non specific as possible about the hardware so that the stories would not become dated by real technology. However, in her typical detailed style of descriptive writing she was probably a little TOO specific. The computer boards that are designed to be indestructible are made of a hard clear substance (in the real world, synthetic sapphire). That will probably hold up because sapphire IS USED in very high tech radiation resistant military space hardware AND sapphire is one of those materials the is very hard to beat in any possible future. But she went too far when she assumed the boards would be connected by wires. Experimental light and radio circuit computers are making possible a future where there are almost no wires in a large complex computer. In twenty or thirty years her future fantasy stories may become dated by real technology.

Read our Heat Treating FAQ then run the technical stuff past a couple of us before you commit to it. Better yet, build a back yard forge, scrounge an anvil and try doing the REAL thing. Beat some red hot steel! Your writing will be much improved for it.

   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/03 23:43:38 EDT

Thanks Guru. I'd LOVE to make my own forge, but unfortunately, at the moment, have no access, as I'm currently driving my way across this great United States. When I settle down, though, this is something I've always wanted to do, so I may just take your advice. Unless of course, there's a southern smith around that's looking for some help... (*grin*) Have a good evening, all!
   Hidaguard - Sunday, 08/10/03 01:01:55 EDT

I got one of those blocks too and cleaning it up took a couple of 6 packs..which is quite a bit when wearing respitory protection.
What finally speeded it up was getting 4 1/2" grinding disks that were absolute, rank, cheepos. The cheap, fast wearing disks simply cut a lot faster, dont load up and you feel like you are really doing something, wearing out lots of disks.
The trick seemed to be getting through the hard outer casting rind, then things smoothed out.
As the wheel wears, the smaller diameter will fit smaller curves. For grinding the grooves, turn the wheel slantwize, IE, more edge on and lengthwize to the groove so that the wheel cuts obliquely down one side of the groove and up the other.
I didn't out with the flap disks till I'd done most of the shaping and gotten rid of the hard shell.
That hard rind's texture is a nuisance when you come to finishing the work you do on it.
Billy T; Though blacksmiths pretend to be sensitive to the aesthetics of natural forms...we also tend to fall back on what so many of us know and love...cars. So a "blown leaf" is a repusse' iron or bronze leaf form ,with a wee vent near the front to accomidate a little supercharger.
Hidaguard; You refered to heat treating affecting " finish'. aside from tempering( modern use) colors, It doesn't. Finish ( unlike cloth) refers to surface effects.
Your " mistake" might well be cracking from too aggressive a quench ( ask Quenchcrack about this). An example might be heating a high carbon steel axe to bright yellow and quenching in salt water. The metal would crack from the shock, possibly a few minutes after it was removed from the quench tank...with high carbon steels, this margin is sometimes pushed a little by immediate tempering ( drawing).
Too hard and it is brittle and prone to cracking and chipping, too soft and it won't hold an edge.
There are blacksmith groups all across the nation and most of them would welcome anyone genuinely interested. Women are especially welcome as the guys get to be ugly looking.
Hey you slackards! Join the Cybersmiths and help carry the load jhust a little. Otherwise we will have to start billing you individually for this advice.
I'd curtsey now, but it looks really funny when I do it..Pete
   - Pete F - Sunday, 08/10/03 03:28:12 EDT

Charles Tate, I need a good email address for you.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 08/10/03 07:23:56 EDT

Hildaguard - which way are you headed? Sounds like a hell of a road trip
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 08/10/03 10:07:00 EDT

Writing on-the-road: Paw-Paw and I have discussed this a couple times. Putting anvilfire on-the-road in a computer center mobile unit (custom motor home). Stop and visit every blacksmith shop of interest and report on it from the road via anvilfire.

Expensive proposition. We would need about 20 times the CSI members we have now OR a big corporate sponsor. Besides the motor home the electronics and satelite hookup would not be cheap. . . It would be like trying to be ABC NEWS reporting from around the world! BIG BUCKS. Loads of fun, but darn hard work too. Done on a CSI budget we would have to rely on as many members as possible for places to stay/park/hook to the phones. . .

But maybe THAT is the answer . . get one of the big networks to sponsor the road trip in exchange for segments on "Blacksmiths in America, Art or Anacronism?"

TODO List:

1) Find new female life companion that loves to drive and hang around black dirty nasty shops full of rusting machinery and can put up with my snoring. Must not be obsessed with a house with white picket fence (and all that implies).

2) Win the lottery.

Not sure which one I have a better chance at. Since I don't play the lottery that has a pretty insignificant probability.

Reporting from . . . my hidy hole over the blacksmith shop.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/10/03 11:57:08 EDT

And the snoring part of that proposition is NOT a small consideration. Deafness might be a good attribute in said female companion. (LOL)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 08/10/03 13:36:48 EDT

SNORING: Hey! I resemble that remark! One night my wife grabbed my shoulder so hard I was ready to grab my pistol and repel burgulars. Turns out she was just shaking my for the third time, cause my snoring was keeping her awake. Don't really know what the big deal is, snoring doesn't keep me awake. :]
   Bob H - Sunday, 08/10/03 18:52:54 EDT

Not to be an alarmist,... Heavy snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea. If you snore enough to scare bears, have your significant other see if you stop breathing during the night. Usually you stop for a few seconds, then the brain kicks in and you start breathing with a really loud "GRONK!!"

If you do, you probably should get checked by a sleep specialist. Sleep apnea messes with your sleep, making you tired throughout the day, and puts stress on your heart. The CPAP machines pretty much cure the symptoms (not the cause, though). It really blows (pun intended) to have that mask on all night, but at least now I can make it through meetings.

Sorry for the off-topic.
   MarcG - Sunday, 08/10/03 20:18:06 EDT

Jock has serious sleep apnea! I've shared a motel room with Jock at a couple of blacksmithing events. It's ear plugs and put the pillow over your head time.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 08/10/03 21:51:22 EDT

Hidagard - southern smiths... plenty of us around. One group in north Alabama just had the monthly meeting this afternoon, another group is coming up in two weeks, and the Tannehill conference is coming 5 September. There'd certainly be a great opportunity to try it for yourself.

Since you mention eastern type swordmaking - how about the hamon line on Japanese blades (and any other style that chooses to bring it out)? I guess some folks aren't enamored of the line, but it's fascinating to me. And that brings to mind what might be one of those simple mistakes you asked about - Don Fogg has talked about having his blades crack or shatter due to internal stresses because he waited too long, "getting a peek at the hamon", between the quench and tempering. Check www.dfoggknives.com.

And I don't think you meant to disparage Western methods at all, but maybe because of other things I've heard, I have to throw in, Westen swordmakers were pretty impressive as well. Laminated steels, double edge blades, all kinds of shapes and hilt designs... I think I really got turned on to this thought at a talk by Kevin Cashen. Look at www.cashenblades.com. He's got some articles on how it's all done, too.

I, too, get upset by authors and screenwriters who mess up the details that I know something about. And sometimes it's laughable when technology blows past science fiction. But a really good story is still a really good story, even when the technology is outdated. I still really enjoy Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, for example.

   Steve A - Sunday, 08/10/03 21:56:55 EDT

Dear sir, As am looking forward to make easy and medium flow solder for immitations jewellery manufacturing. And it should be lead free. And as being in gold jewellery field for last 15 years but due to insufficient knowledge of varius metals I fail So i coud find ur estteemed name through goole and i thought i could find help, and am lookin gofr a proper book which can guide me on making of diff kind of solder and i can learn more on metal soldering and brazing it would be a great help on me from you so waiaitn gfor ur positive reply. thanking you atul.pattni
   atul.pattni - Sunday, 08/10/03 22:26:30 EDT

Metal Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht. Pretty much all you need to know about soldering of jewelry.
   vicopper - Sunday, 08/10/03 23:00:32 EDT

Atul, Solders have many metals in them to achieve the right melting temperature and strength or hardness. Most lead free solders are high in tin (stannum) or silver. Both are rather soft so other metals are added such as antimony.

Machinery's handbook has many solder recipes but they may be dated and contain lead. I would recommend you go to any solder manufacturer's web site or literature and find the proportions there. In the US the exact composition of almost all solders and brazing compounds are published.

Some of our members that have delt in jewelery making may have a better suggestion for a reference.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/10/03 23:06:31 EDT

I am looking for info on a bayonet . The item has "Sanderson-Sheffield" stamped at the base of the blade.The blade is 12",also numerous other stampings at the base of the blade,(eg.a crown with VR below it).I'd like to find what weapon it was designed for, and the time frame that it was manufactured. Thank You.
   - Mike - Monday, 08/11/03 00:46:42 EDT

Just a reminder to play safe out there,
I did a stupid today,while playing with my gasser, one of the pipes on the control valve sprung a leak. It had a small lighter size flame. The wrenches were handy and rather than turn it off, I figured that I could just tighten the nuts until the flame stopped.

WRONG, the fitting broke, with the propane at 12 lbs of pressure on a ľ ď line,the fireball was not what I was expecting, no lasting harm done (the hair will grow back).

Just remember Darwin gives extra points to those who learn from others mistakes.
   Habu - Monday, 08/11/03 00:59:18 EDT

Mike, Time frame, during the reighn of Queen Victory. The VR stands for Victoria Regina. If you can take a picture and scan it, (or a digital picture) and send it to me email, I can probably identify the weapon for you. Failing that, I've got a contact at the British War Museum. I know they can identify it for you.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 08/11/03 01:00:57 EDT

guru - "Since I don't play the lottery that has a pretty insignificant probability"

The good news is that your odds arn't much worse than if you did buy a ticket:)
   - David - Monday, 08/11/03 10:43:33 EDT

Guru, I replied to a spammer who was sending sex stuff and said they were causing a problem with my domestic tranquility and I would sue if they didn't stop- they did. As for telemarketing, they don't do much harm; you can just say no & hang up. That's the only way a lot of people can earn a living. Let'em alone; we have too many people out of work already.
Ron C
   Ron Childers - Monday, 08/11/03 11:18:21 EDT

MarcG is that YOU yelling for me in the middle of the night? I've been wonderin' who that was.

Guru, you have a standing invitation to park that rig at my place. We'd be happy to set you up with hot food, cool drinks, phone, power and water. Not to mention all the heated argu... umm, I mean, enlightening conversations about politics, religion, the price of tea, etc...
Sounds like a great way to chronicle working smithies for future generations. Compare notes on techniques, methods etc... What a great idea. Now all you have to do is get into gear and do it! I mean, its not like you have any great demands on your time or anything. :)
   Gronk - Monday, 08/11/03 12:01:14 EDT


> you can just say no & hang up

Actually, all you have to do is hang up. That's what I usually do.


Takes several thousand dollars worth of equipment, too.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 08/11/03 12:11:48 EDT

If you haven't heard, the thing you can do with your phone provider to stop telemarketers is called a pick freeze. A Cincinnati Bell lady told me about it. You may need to also ask for it with the longdistance carrier.You call your operator, head towards account info or service and ask for a pick freeze. This stops your phone co. selling your number to the telemarketers. I did and it worked, now on a state no call list which works too, the national list is supposed to take some time...
   - andrew - Monday, 08/11/03 12:29:14 EDT

Pick Freeze: This only has to do with SLAMMERS trying to steal your long distance or phone billing. It has nothing to do with other telemarketing. Since the US Federal government passed laws requiring signed documents to change hands before you service could be changed this problem has largly dissapeared and many phone companies (Sprint) no longer maintain pick freeze lists. See more below about SLAMMERS.

Telemarketers: Ron, I'll assume from your comments that you either have a telemarketer in the family or you don't answer your own phone OR you have and unlisted number.

IF all you had to do was tell them NO it would not be a problem. I do more than that, and tell every one of them to "Take me off your call list". That stops most but many (like the local screen and aluminium siding people) do not keep track of the those who have said don't call back and with every new sales campaign they start all over again.

The BIG problem that I have is the machine made phone calls where no one answers. These are machine test calls. They test your number for a variety of things, 1) Did you answer, 2) Do you have a FAX, 3) Do you have and answering machine. And often the system controlling the tests is buggy and the same place will call four or five times a day. They do this because they they don't want to waste the telemarketer's time. They think THEIR time is worth more than YOURS. A really bad assumption that makes me more than a little testy.

Now. . you work late or work the night shift and the phone rings at 9:00 am (when you needed to sleep until noon), and you answer it and there is no-one there. Just a stupid machine checking to see if you are there to answer the phone.

THEN there are the companies that use prerecorded sales messages. The new ones are very good and SOUND like a real person until you try to interupt and tell them to take you off their call list. You can't. You have been woken up and gotten out of bed by a MACHINE! Not a person who needs employment, but by a stupid moronic machine. This is the same as SPAM mail.

The pre-recorded messages never give the business name and the contact phone number is always at the end. Are you going to set through a 10 minute sales spiel in order to get the 900 phone number so you can file a complaint????

To avoid this problem many people get unlisted phone numbers. To avoid spam many people change their e-mail addresses. In both cases the people making the calls and sending the SPAM are devaluing YOUR property and YOUR life.

Telemarketers are not all just "honest working people". Many are scammers and theives. In the 1980's theft of telephone billing accounts (SLAMMING) was common. It was just out and out theivery that took acts of congess to curb. Maybe the callers were honest (I don't think so) but the business owners WERE NOT. Among other things they used prison labor (contract boiler rooms) so that THEY could not be blamed for the theft. The same folks are out there looking for the next new scam to pull. Telemarketers or those that use the same techniques are also the people that often prey on the elderly taking money from them in the guise of an "investment".

Many parts of the country are now opening up utilities to "competitive marketing". This is the same stupid thing that was done with phone services. The so called "competitive" utilities are often no more than billing companies. They own no power plants, no lines, no distribution system. . . They are leaches on the system. They produce nothing. They only take money out of the pockets of the utilities that actually provide the service.

I own the anvilfire URL and my e-mail address. It is a very good one that I have used for 6 years and comunicated with thousands of people. But I am at the point where I will have to abandon my (very valuable - to me) e-mail address because of SPAMers. I have NEVER bought anything from or done any sort of business with any spammer. Yet they have devalued an important piece of my property. I recieve well over 100 SPAM mails a day and it costs me significant time sorting through the garbage to find important communications (sales, sales queries, critical corespondance). My "valuable" e-mail address has been made a libility by SPAMMERS.

SO, imagine your phone ringing 100 or more times a day between the hours of 9am until 7pm. That is 10 calls an hour or one every 6 minutes. And all those calls are people either selling something you don't want or need OR WORSE a scam (Many of the calls I get are NOT legitimate sales). Many of those calls are TEST calls or pre-recorded messages. . . Just how much time have they cost you? Is your time worth ANYTHING? At least an hour or more may have been actually taken but that does not include the fact that you have been interupted in what you DO. 100 calls a day would wreck my day. I could get NOTHING done. It has taken me nearly an hour to write this post. If the phone had rung 10 times it would have not gotten done at all. . . However, my e-mail DID recieve a dozen more SPAM mails.

SPAM and telemarketers COST our nation money. Most of the time is non-productive. It does NOT produce a product or add to the value of our society.

If you replied to a spammer and they stopped then you are very lucky. 99% of all spam uses forged return addresses and click throughs to their sites record you as a reader of their SPAM. At the same time you click through to the site it may have installed spy-ware on your computer (This is illegal but try to prosecute a site operated by the Russian mofia or Chinese government). One of those many burried windows you closed used the CLOSE action as an affirmitive to update windows and install a little program (Windirt lets this happen). Since this is a "legitimate" program that you agreed to your anti-virus software will not pick it up. These little spy programs read your cookie files, capture passwords and other devious stuff and report back to their owner. Most are "data miners" used to track where you go on the net but some are hacker programs used to collect passwords.

IF you are worried about Spy Ware then get Ad-aware by Lavasoft of Sweden. They have a very nice free-ware version of their program. It cleaned up a mess of things on my PC that another user had "brought home".

SPAM and telemarketers are all one and the same to me.

And WHAT does this have to do with Blacksmithing? It costs me time that I could be (should be) spending working or anvilfire OR beter yet, in the shop!
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/03 12:48:15 EDT


I completely agree with your vision on telemarketers. I have a few "friends" who are currently employed in said buisness and one of them, who works for a phone company, will start at random on his selling pitch when he is just hanging out(away from work). With the usual, what do you pay, jargon. That really gets my blood pumping.

I have a telezaper that I acquired a few years ago. It has worked wonderfully and has stoped ALL of the machine made calls. The only ones that make it through are the ones that are made by hand. I went from an average of 20 or more calls a day to mabey a handfull a week. It is supposed to work by detecting if the call was made by a machine and if so telling the machine that the number is out of order. So after an establishment calls once and you answer it will not call again.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 08/11/03 16:07:08 EDT

I have a small sculture-type thing...sort of a leafy-branchy thing about 6 inches tall, fabricated from 1/2 inch square stock that tapers back down to a single 1/2 inch "stalk" at one end. Is it possible to drill into rock without it cracking? My thought was to drill a 1/2 in. hole into the rock and secure the piece with epoxy, but I've never attempted (or even thought about) drilling into rock before. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks, Chris W.
   Chris W. - Monday, 08/11/03 17:40:03 EDT

Ok...after re-reading my post, it may have been a little vague. The aforementioned rock would be the base of the sculpture. I know it's possible to drill rock, ala tunnels and quarries, etc., but I'm thinking of a fairly small rock. flat, oval-shaped, about 4 in. diameter x 2 in. thick. :-)
   Chris W. - Monday, 08/11/03 17:49:53 EDT


Yes, it's possible. Use a masonry bit, and don't try and work too fast.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 08/11/03 18:39:45 EDT

Dang, I had 10 data mining thingys on my computer. Thanks for the heads up, Jock.
   Bob H - Monday, 08/11/03 18:53:56 EDT

Jock's comments about AdAware are valuable. There are at least three (and I think actually 4) different pieces of software that do the same thing. I use Spybot.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 08/11/03 19:13:05 EDT

Lawsuits: Paw-Paw read wrong so I removed his comments with his permission.

Like anti-virus software there seems to be considerable differences in anti spyware software. Some catch things that others do not. The worst new crop seem to install a tool bar in Win-XP simply by visiting a site. To remove the things require low level editing of the registry and tech stuff that nobody should try. . . Most of the mentioned lawsuits have to do with people finding this stuff on their systems and not being able to remove it. I suspect that since Microsoft wrote in the hooks that alow this to happen they are also responsible.

Ya, don thin so eh? Well, one task quite a few pieces of anti-spyware do is dissable the Win-XP spy program.
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/03 20:19:05 EDT

Guru, you should load some Bayesian filters into your email client... might help. Certainly better than having to switch emails.

I like this idea of a road trip... I'm taking deferred admission when I apply for college next year, so I'd be available for 15 months (June '04 - Late Aug '05). Maybe some people could get together and have a head-shed about this in the Pub? Equipment, supplies, vehicles, places to go... sounds like fun to me!

Hot, hot, the asphalt is melting in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Monday, 08/11/03 21:56:33 EDT

Thanks for all the ideas for my project. I was way over tired and my rose took me way longer than it usually does, but it also came out better than any of my other ones I've done. I ended up canning the rock idea because all the rocks I could find around here were very brittle. Wth all the rain the wedding was held inside so I just mounted the plague on a small piece of metal so it would stand up and I just placed both on the gift table. They loved it however, and as soon as they knew I had made it they brought it to their table for the rest of the reception.! I'd still like to try the rock thing sometime, it did look pretty neat and a friend of mine suggested I just lie it on the rock in case they wanted to pick it up and look at it. It is a little challenging getting the rose to lie well on both the rock and a flat surface, but it is do able. Thanks again! Wendy
   - Wendy - Monday, 08/11/03 23:11:06 EDT

Have you ever seen a Edsilbarr air hammer, they were made
   - Ken T - Tuesday, 08/12/03 00:55:56 EDT


We didn't consider the fact that you might not have good rock. Rock bases for various things can be made from scraps left over from making head stones and such. The memorial folks work with colored marble and granite in various thicknesses. The flat sawn pieces often come in irregular shapes that must be trimmed to size resulting in scraps suitable for sculpture bases. Sawn material with broken edges has a semi-rustic look.

Other possible sources include trophy shops, building suppliers and quaries. Lots of stone slab is cut for facing buildings and for floors and steps. Granite is very tough to drill but marble is similar to old concrete without agregate. It drills relatively easily with standard carbide bits. If you use a drill press the speed wants to be between metal and wood working speed and you can use water to cool the bit and keep down dust.

Glade you friends enjoyed your rose.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/03 08:44:55 EDT

Further and Future Thoughts on Drilling Rock

Highly dependant on the stone involved. If itís soapstone, the source for talc, you can practically dig your way through with your fingernail. Be selective,though, some soapstone has asbestos as inclusions. Slates drill fairly well, too. Marble and limestone are much favored by stone carvers for their workability. Granite is fairly tough, schist can be pretty hard stuff (the Vikings used it for sharpening stones), and quartzite will drive you crazy- if you could drill it at all with commonly available tools (wearing out lots of carbide drills) its internal flaws stand ready to betray you. Some of the more adventurous jewelers may be able to guide you if you want something exotic; Iíve just dabbled, now and again, on various projects.

The key point is to choose the stone with care, and you can save yourself a lot of work and frustration. Wear respiratory protection, rock dust in the lungs is considered bad. =80

After getting my stitches out yesterday, I celebrated by buying the hose, regulator, gauge and fittings for the Dempsey Smelter from Camp Fenby- Hoorah, more brass and bronze sword pommels! I actually spent some time in the forge last night, getting things cleaned-up and assembled. Maybe Iíll be able to do some hot-work this weekend, if I can catch up a bit on my wifís backlog of chores.

Hazy, warm and humid on the banks of the Potomac. T-storms for dinner.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 08/12/03 09:07:01 EDT

Sorry, didn't mean 2 get u so riled. Don't kno anyone in the telemarketing business. I have a block on machine calls.
Don't get many sales calls from a real person - if they don't identify themselves I push the flush button. Ron C
   - Ron Childers - Tuesday, 08/12/03 09:44:28 EDT

Sorry, didn't mean 2 get u so riled. Don't kno anyone in the telemarketing business. I have a block on machine calls.
Don't get many sales calls from a real person - if they don't identify themselves I push the flush button. Ron C
   - Ron Childers - Tuesday, 08/12/03 09:45:41 EDT

Guru, I replied to a spammer who was sending sex stuff and said they were causing a problem with my domestic tranquility and I would sue if they didn't stop- they did. As for telemarketing, they don't do much harm; you can just say no & hang up. That's the only way a lot of people can earn a living. Let'em alone; we have too many people out of work already.
Ron C
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 08/12/03 09:46:36 EDT

Thanks for the input on rock drilling. After a brief (very brief) experiment, I'm thinking the rock in question is in the granite or quartz realm, and the project is probably not worth any potential disasters due to inexperience. (In other words, I got a little panicky about messing up my drill press and/or bits). It's just a forge-welding practice piece that turned out kind of artsy/funky looking....I'll probably just find a nice artsy/funky looking piece of driftwood or something and go with that :-) Thanks, Chris W.
   Chris W. - Tuesday, 08/12/03 10:25:02 EDT

Finally made the trip and brought home the anvil I purchased a month or so ago, a #130 Peter Wright. I'm looking for instructions and/or recomendations on how to secure it to a log-end base. Thanks!
   Tommy - Tuesday, 08/12/03 11:52:21 EDT

Anvil Stands: Tommy, See our iForge article #144 on anvil stands. Lots of choices.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/03 12:14:44 EDT

Guru, THANKS for the invaluable tip on Ad Aware. I downloaded it and found 41 (forty one!) data mines on my office computer...looked like a lot of them were Microsoft installed on my W98 operating system. Glad to be rid of them!

Caleb, what kind of telezaper and where does one acquire it? My primary work line is getting probably 10-12 calls a day. I just let the answering machine pick up and only take the call if it is a client or another valid call. It breaks my concentration!

For email I use an older version of Netscape and have not been bothered by a whole lot of spam......but the home system with IE 6.0 on it is infested with the stuff.

   Ellen - Tuesday, 08/12/03 15:04:58 EDT

hello.....i've spent years welding but i recently fell in love with damascus steel. does anyone here know if it's been done with success to make damascus type patterns with tig or stick weldeing?
   ken - Tuesday, 08/12/03 15:28:18 EDT

Ad aware also reports cookies and things of that nature as data mines. Our record where I work is 393 Found. But what is more important is the Processes that it finds running because these are the Active Programs that pull up popup windows on your PC... Sometimes you dont even have to have a web browser open. One of these type programs is particularly bad in that, One of our people installed a screen saver and started getting pop up ads for Masculine "enhancements".
Not a good thing if kids are on your home PC and this garbage pops up. Because of these moronic companys not valuing our time we have to be on constant awareness so they dont send our children Pornographic material unsolicited??!?!?!?!?

I hate spamers, there should be jail terms for them all... and sience it is an crime without international borders we should have them serve time in a country that doesnt follow the Geneva Conventions.

   dave - Tuesday, 08/12/03 15:45:49 EDT

I played around with this (tig/ and arc) how I did it was to 1 wild on to a blank then foge into a bar...that did not work well, I did get some patterns but they were large and not very nice looking along with being VERY weak along the weld lines. then I tried welding up some billets and tig welding in patterns and also useing a tig to hard face the cutting edges this allso did not work well the patterns I welded in looked uneven and were very week (I had a few pop out when grinding) the egdeing worked better but I had a lot of trouble makeing good welds some got porisity and others had very large grain size even after cycleing 15+ times, some delamanted in heat treating. all in all it seems to be easier and more reliable to forge weld them.

the one exception is one I did useing 308 S/S rod that can out rather nice ....wasn't able to make it happen again every other one I tried failed.

My web site got Hacked last week.. well realy the server got hit and my site was targeted when they booted them out, nothing was stolen, but they posted a pic of a rotting corpse in place of my front page. I didn't catch it, as I was out of town that weekend and by the time I got ahold of my addmin, the pic had been up for 4 days makeing a lot of my customers a bit leary on my site! from what my addmin tells me I was lucky the rest of the hacks were muchh arder to fix and did a LOT more dammage to the server. these guys are worse that spammers and that is very bad.... they also sould go to jail in a county that doesnt follow the Geneva Conventions.

   MP - Tuesday, 08/12/03 17:14:06 EDT


Don't you think we could do a better job of punishing folks like your hackers ourselves? I mean after all, we've got forges right there, and all kinds of steel to heat and tools to use. I suspect that a red hot set of tongs might be able to get someone's attention pretty easily.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 08/12/03 17:22:06 EDT

How can I get a grey patina on copper? I am carving wooden "stones" that I will stain grey and I need to have an engraved plaque on each one that will be close in color. I don't want it to be brown or blueish.
Please advise,
   R - Tuesday, 08/12/03 18:19:39 EDT

Arc welding Damascus:

If you ran a couple of beads down a bar and then forged a the bar down and made a knife (or something) would you get some kind of pattern? I am imagining using a rod fairly different from the base material and forging the bar back down to the original bar dimensions before starting the "real" forging.

It seems like it would work, though the pattern would only be on the surface. Since the weld isn't part of the blade structure you wouldn't have to worry about it coming appart.

Basically this eould just be a method of adding a small amount of disimilar methal to a solid bar.

Would this work? If so, any suggestions on what combinations of base stock and welding rods would contrast nicely?
   -JIM - Tuesday, 08/12/03 18:25:06 EDT

thnx all........i'll try some beads on a plate...then alternate the metal rods, and cut in half and etch. i'll see what happens. thnx for all the good replies.
   ken - Tuesday, 08/12/03 18:40:23 EDT

On the Road.... Hook - up and stay here anytime for as long as you wish.. Use this place/house as a home base for Canada...

Cheers ..... Barney
   Barney - Tuesday, 08/12/03 19:02:14 EDT

hey guru

All all this ranting about telemarketer's, spam, Microsoft data mining and porn intrusions into our computers got me to thinking about how to set up as defendable a computer as possible. I've heard you can clear out your hard drive by wiping it clean and reinstalling your OS and whatever SW pgm pkg's you use. But to do that you'd first have to save all your data and reinstall it after your new clean HD was up and operational. Wouldn't you just re-contaminate the HD thing by reloading data that may have contaminated files and that just begins the process all over again?

If this is more about computers than you want to take up space for here AND you care to respond email me.
   Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 08/12/03 19:16:47 EDT

I have a nephew getting married on Oct. 11 in Philadelphia and I have to be there or face excommunication by the family. Since my attitude about Philadelphia is similar to W.C. Fields'it's a tough choice, but I finally decided I'll go.

I'll probably be there over the weekend, say the 10th through the 13th or 14th. Then I'm gonna flee back here where the weather suits my clothes, so to speak. Anybody got any suggestions for places I should absolutely, positively visit in Philly? Any hammer-ins happening that weekend? (If I wasn't such a cheapskate, I'd try to scoot down to VA and pester Jock for a day or two.) Any suggestions will be appreciated. I'll be carrying a few bottles of premium Cruzan Rum just in case refreshments are needed at some deserving forge. (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 08/12/03 19:27:11 EDT

Jerry, If you have to ask that question this is not a good place. Its a long and complicated answer and in the end, Yes and No.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/03 19:49:37 EDT

VI, Never been to Philly (just close). The ex has been. Used to be you HAD to see the Yellin shop/museum but it is now closed and distributed. I THINK those dates in October I am going to be in Tennesee with Paw-Paw doing a demo.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/03 19:52:58 EDT

Grey Patina on Copper: Hmmmmmm. . . why not use a metal that is normally grey? Zinc is silvery white but turns grey in a short time. Aluminum is whiter and slow to oxidize but also oxidizes grey. Silver is not as slow as aluminium to tarnish but can be spead up with almost any sulfur bearing compound.

You can also plate the copper with silver or tin and then oxidize that if you MUST have a copper plate.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/03 19:59:07 EDT

I want to make some curved legs out of pipe to replace the rusted out ones on a Champion 400 blower. My plan is to tack a form to my welding table with a dog to hold the end of the pipe against the form, then take a long heat and bend the pipe around the form. I can take an 18"-24" heat in my gasser and you probably know that the radius of these legs is fairly large. Should I fill the pipe with sand and cap the ends to keep the pipe from collapsing or will this be unnecessary since I'm doing this hot.

BTW , thanks for the advice on soldering copper pipe last week. It's also been my experience that the solder filled flux makes a world of difference.

thank you

- C
   chris smith - Tuesday, 08/12/03 20:50:15 EDT

A friend and I are just starting blacksmithing and would like some help. First of all we were planning to use your designs for a tire drum forge and I was wondering ballpark how much you think it would cost. I also am wondering if we could use wood as a fuel source instead of coal. Or if peat would work. Also how much do you think a 3 long 3 inch wide 1/4 inch thick piece of wrought or cast iron would cost in order to make a sword. This is our second item of blacksmithing so we don't want to mess with steel and don't need great quality for now. Thank you for your help and great site.
   Butch - Tuesday, 08/12/03 22:00:31 EDT

msblast worm is ravenging my system...anyone else???
   - rugg - Wednesday, 08/13/03 00:37:33 EDT

I've thrown together similar forges for under $1 using scrouged parts from the local junk yard. On the other hand, I helped a friend make one the other day, where he'd purchased all of his tuyere parts new. He spent about $30 on plumbing for the tuyere and legs. Old brake drums are plentiful and free at any brake repair shop. They'll give you as many as you'll walk away with. Get the largest you can find. Starting out, my friend is using a hair dryer he bought for $12 for a blower. If you, don't know enough about wiring to safely disconnect the heating element, buy one with a "cold" setting so you don't have to pull anything apart and inadvertantly kill yourself.

As for alternate fuels, I'd opt for chunk charcoal (not briquettes!). It's available at many Wal-Mart type stores and relatively cheap. I don't know about peat. I've never heard that one before. Wood works, once you turn it into charcoal (a whole other task). When using charcoal, you'll need a deeper fire than you'd need with coal, but it works nicely.

Regarding stock material, wrought iron is way more expensive than steel, and you can't forge cast iron. Your dimensions sound more like a stock removal project than a forging project. Forging any sort of blade is an art form that even many experienced smiths have yet to accomplish well, much less master. I'd start on some less ambitious projects with mild steel (there are some great ones in the iForge section) and develop some skills before tackling anything of even half that magnitude. It would be enjoyable time well spent.

Most importantly, if you start smithing, be safe! Fire is unforgiving of mistakes, and hot steel will do much worse than blister your pinky. Read the shop safety section on this site and learn!

Good luck!
   eander4 - Wednesday, 08/13/03 00:51:56 EDT


I've spent the better part of the day trying to keep it out of the computers in our research laboratories. Didn't get to one of 'em in time. It crapped up roughly 800 computers over in the hospital, and effectively trashed the network for the entire university and medical school. This is the first time all day that I've been able to use the net. We've got lots of cheesed off doctors. A special thanks to Bill Gates for making all of this possible :-).

   eander4 - Wednesday, 08/13/03 00:58:27 EDT

symantec.com w32.blaster removal instructions
Rugg, here's a website to help you with this new worm, msblast. Good luck.

   Ellen - Wednesday, 08/13/03 01:09:01 EDT

Viruses: I got an inoculus looking piece of mail from one of our overseas CSI members that had a "demo.html" attachement. . . NOT a good thing to send the guru. But the rest of the mail looked suspicious.

The "background" tile is the virus with one of those double extensions that Windirt
   - - guru - Wednesday, 08/13/03 10:07:11 EDT

"or face excommunication by the family" - vicopper you say that like it's a bad thing?

I always wondered how junk email got to be called spam: Webster online gives this ...

Etymology: from a skit on the British television series Monty Python's Flying Circus in which chanting of the word Spam (trademark for a canned meat product) overrides the other dialogue
Date: 1994
   adam - Wednesday, 08/13/03 10:36:22 EDT

Ya gotta ask yourself why am I making a sword? Is it a wall hanger? is it to be used? I ask this because making a sword is comparable to say a med 1st year medical student deciding to do as his first medical procedure a delicate brain surgury. If you want a wall hanger make a wood sword and then paint it to look like metal. After all if hollywood can make them look real why can't you? But if you do decide to make one of metal, then wrought iron will have the spare and none of the properties other than weight.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 08/13/03 10:38:07 EDT

Ralph, mebbe he wants the sword to do brain surgery? :)
   adam - Wednesday, 08/13/03 11:16:07 EDT

Ok, after my last post I'm reworking my burner/blower. I need to find a blower that can push 200-300cfm on the cheep. Scrounging or building are good options, this is for a begining hobby smith. Any suggestions?
   - Aksmith - Wednesday, 08/13/03 12:10:48 EDT


Used or slavaged furnace blowers will push all the air you need and then some. The blower from a medium sized window air cnditioner will be okay. Some folks have used blow dryers, but you should remove the heating element to keep it from burning up. An old vacuum cleaner will have a plenty strong enough blower, it just may take a bit of jiggery-pokery to make it hook to a forge. The heater blowers from old Fork trucks (c. 1970) are easy to configure to a coal forge and put out enough air. Get the control switch while you're at it and you have a variable speed blower. It isn't that difficult to make a double-acting cylinder bellows that will put out plenty of air. Check on Google. Of corse, the double-chamber great bellows is a traditional and excellent air source that can be built reasonably easily. You can substitute Naugahyde or canvas for the leather if you can't find or afford leather.

   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/13/03 13:21:52 EDT

Woo Hoo! I just compleated the most difficult forgeweld of my carreer so far. 1 x1/4 x3 to 8 inchs of 5/8th round, I had to use two tongs. It is for a replica of a branding iron. I was going to tack it together with the arc to hold everything in place when the ghost of the smith who made the original tapped me on the shoulder of my subconsisious and reminded me that he didn't have an arc when he made it and if it is to be a proper repro........
   JimG - Wednesday, 08/13/03 13:22:34 EDT

Jim G.

Now aren't you glad you listened to him? Imagine what he'd have done if you'd tried to cheat!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 08/13/03 13:36:10 EDT

Blowers, Cheap: AKsmith, The ones the Kaynes sell are a nice price but they are not free. Oil furnace burner blowers are usualy available from anyone that services oil furnaces. They are part of the burner and are usualy scraped with the rest. I don't like vacuume cleaner blowers because most are so danged noisy AND they put out too much air at a high velocity.

How about THAT? A smith in the Virgin Islands (de I'lands mon) advising a smith in Alaska. . . What a world we have wrought.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/13/03 14:13:00 EDT

Awwww, Jock!

"What a world we have wrought." You should be able to iron out something better than that! (LOL)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 08/13/03 14:25:01 EDT

Nice thing about all this 'online' stuff is just that.
I have an 'online' smithing buddy in AK who several years back was looking for other smiths in AK, as I had happened to see a request for help form a young fellow on anvilfire, I emailed them both and they hooked up. In fact in a 3 motnth period I was able to send a total of 3 interested folks to Frosty. Odd thing is that 2 of them lived only about 20 miles away from him. Feels good to help. And this summer Frosty found a learner on his own...(VBG) must mean I need to find 3 more for him.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 08/13/03 16:30:23 EDT

Im in the market for a 200+ pound german style anvils. Ive been looking at the peddinghaus, eastren europe anvils Ive been trying to find a dealer for the kolshwa anvils I live in Alaska and want to get the best anvil for my money. Ive heard various reports on the peddinghaus some manufacturing problems and everything seams to be fine with eastren anvils(branco) anyway just looking for a little advice Jd
   Jacob Davis - Wednesday, 08/13/03 17:06:20 EDT

I've been in touch with Frosty myself (though it's been a bit). In fact it may have been you (Ralph) that put me in touch via Slack-tub. Many thanks to all that will share their knowledge.
   - Aksmith - Wednesday, 08/13/03 17:06:36 EDT

Anvil Quality: Jacob, From a materials standpoint there is none better than Peddinghaus. They are a forged anvil, not cast. The only problem Peddinghaus had was that shortly after Ridge Tool bought them they had some problems with finishing the horns. They are better now but they still do not finish them the way they should, but nobody does except Nimba.

Currently thee are no US dealers of Kohlswa that I can find that stock anvils. We had one dealer try to get setup with them but could not complete a deal.

I do not know Branco. However, Euroanvils deals direct with the factories and has their own anvils cast and finished to their own specs. I think they are the best of the Eastern European cast steel anvils. Some of the others have had quality of finish problems (faces curved 3/8"). Euroanvils does not rely on middlemen that pass the buck on manufacturing problems. They also stock what they sell. Currently one dealer is advertising "sale" prices on anvils he can't deliver. . . A cheap (underhanded) way to make your competition's prices look too high.

The best finished new anvil today is Nimba. The best for the price is Euroanvils (they are taking delivery of their new 500 pound anvils now). The English cast steel anvils sold by Centaur and Pieh Tool are good but I have no experiance with them. Then the best are the forged steel anvils like Peddinghaus which is the last forged anvil you can get in North America.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/13/03 17:49:14 EDT

Thank you for your suggestions they will help a lot.

Also if you're wondering what peat is it is an organic material found in bogs. It is essentialy pre-mature coal by a few million years. Its what preserves all the "bog" people found dead for thousands of years and perfectly intact. It is kind of a mud and can be dried into bricks and burnt. It is being used in some power plants in europe as an alternative to coal and is quite plentiful.
   Butch - Wednesday, 08/13/03 19:26:29 EDT

Butch, Sorry, missed the peat part of your question. Yes it could but it takes a deep fire pot (pit) and you go through a lot of fuel. It was used for thousands of years for all kinds of fuel. However, in a blown fire you are going to get a lot of fly ash.

It is not mud but organic matter, leaves, trees any marsh vegitation. Mud (clay) reduces its quality and what ends up as clinker in coal fires and part of the ash in peat fires.

Maybe some of our Danish brethern have some hints about using peat in a forge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/13/03 19:47:42 EDT

Dear Guru,
I would like to place a brass frog on a mild steel gate I made. I tried welding it but to no available. Can you give me some suggestions to get it attached. Thanks!
   Betsy - Wednesday, 08/13/03 20:40:48 EDT

Brass to Steel: Betsy, Brass can be brazed to steel but brass parts conduct heat very fast and your frog is probably a big heat sink.

I would recommend a mechanical joint (screws from the back) or something like that. Stainless flat head screws would be almost invisible once painted. However, no matter what you do you are going to have a problem with bi-metalic corrosion. Your brass frog will create an electric current between itself and the steel plate and cause sever corrosion of the plate.

Another way to attach the frog would be to soft or silver solder it on. First, clean and braze a pad on the steel plate. Grind the braze smooth and leave a thin layer (1/32 to 1/16"). Then make sure the bottom of the frog is clean and smooth to match. Flux the brass with rosin soldering flux (the kind with tin powder is best) then heat the plate from the bottom with the frog setting on the brass spot. Test the joint with a stick of solder as you heat. You may need to gently heat the frog with a torch from above at the same time. When the solder starts to melt keep heating from undeneith as you apply solder. It SHOULD feed underneith the frog by capillary action.

To silver solder you would braze the pad and grind it as above, then flux and "tin" the surface with silver solder, apply the frog with flux on its bottom and heat until the solder flows between the two. Silver solder is stronger than soft solder but it is also more expensive and takes more heat. The discoloration from the flux on brass is also very difficult to remove.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/13/03 22:31:50 EDT

Hello Guru, I must first congratulate you on your wonderful and informative site. It has helped me alot in the last few days, keep up the good work.

Ok down to business, I have always had a love of medieval swords and other period weapons, and finally after years of dallying decided to look some info up and begin to learn the art of bladesmithing. I have contacted several bladesmiths via NetSword.com forums. They have explained the various processes involved with smithing in general such as normalizing and hardening/tempering in great detail. I have been told to begin with attempting knife blades with lesser quality steels salvaged from local junkyards for practice and to begin assembling my equiptment such as a small anvil(100-110lbs) and build my forge. They have provided me with a list of hammer weights and possible places to find them as well as a referal to read "The Complete Bladesmith" as an invaluable resource.

As you can see, I think i am beginning to make a start once i get my forge sorted out. My question is do you believe that it is possible to actually develop skill in the bladesmithing field without a real-life teacher? Many on the forums have claimed that with some years of practice and dedication that it is possible to achieve a great level of skill. What is your opinion on this matter, and is there any information you can give me as far as the field of Bladesmithy?

P:S I have been unable to locate a local master Bladesmith to beg lessons from, and although i will continue to try I have come to the belief that SouthEastern Indiana is devoid of such persons.
   Lord Feanor - Wednesday, 08/13/03 23:28:16 EDT

While I am self taught, as are many smiths...some folks just don't learn well by themselves and from books or experimentation. Nothing like Anvilfire existed when i began..few books were available and I was too poor to buy them anyway.
To answer your Q; Frankly it's a matter of talent, smarts and determination.
Incidently, swords are rather out of date as weapons.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 08/14/03 04:01:26 EDT


Pete said it quite well. Although I had a lot of help in my youth learning mechanics and I too am largely self taught in a number of fields including smithing. However, I have learned a LOT about smithing from others in the past few years by going to blacksmithing conferences and ABANA Chapter meetings as well as working in friends shops. Books do not cover it all and everyone has some little thing that they have figured out that works better than what others do.

Experiance is also important. You have to get out there and DO IT! Smithing is hard work that takes different muscles and different manual skills than anything else. It takes many hours at the forge to develop both. Lots of folks read the books, watch the demos and say "I can do that". Well. . . . maybe.

Lessons from Masters are not easy or cheap to come by. Even though a craftsperson may be eking out a living, their shop time (and equipment) may be very valuable to them. $100 an hour is what it takes to make a living and that does not include damage to tools and equipment that may be rare, antique, cutom built or a windfall that cannot be replaced at any price. All it takes is a milisecond for a clutz to cost someone their life's work. And the same goes for libility.

You sound like you are headed in the right direction.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/14/03 08:56:42 EDT

Lord F. Self-teaching: Yes, it works, but the time curve is rather steep. Donít worry too much about bladesmiths at this point, see if you can link-up with one of the local ABANA blacksmithing groups to work on basic forging skills. An afternoon or a couple of days at a hammer-in will save you endless grief and time fiddling about on your own. It will also provide benchmarks for you to see how those skills are progressing. A friend of mine burned the heck out of a lot of blade steel while flying solo, and once he had a chance to see how things were done (deeper fire and gentler blast) his life grew much simpler. He knew he had to get it hot, but he didnít know how to do it well.

I started puttering around with blacksmithing in í82, started getting serious in í88, and I have yet to forge a sword. (Actually, Iím still working on spearheads and axes and sword furniture [pommels, cross-guards] for existing blades.) Not that I donít want to forge a sword blade, but everything else is too much fun and increasingly fascinating.

V.I.Copper (a.k.a. Rich); Philadelphia: The Kienbusch Collection of medieval armor and arms is well worth the visit. They invited Markland to participate in the grand opening in Ď77. Since someone had to stand gear watch while the herd got the cookís tour, I ended up in the field and only got to see part of it later. I await another visit. Alas, Hastings XXXV, outside of D.C. is on the same weekend as your visit, so Iím not likely to bump into you. A couple of good links are: http://www.grm.net/~shlosser/gothic.htm and http://www.philamuseum.org/information/history/pg06.shtml

When I was up there in the early 90s on NPS business, I just missed catching Yellinís shop. It was being closed down and the collection boxed up. However, I did talk to his daughter-in-law and she directed me to the Mellon (or was it Federal Reserve?) bank with some incredible gates and a nearby Episcopal church with some of his work on its doors. I should have brought a camera and taken notes. Iíll check out my Jack Andrews book on ďSt. SamĒ tonight and see if I can find the locations of those pieces. I do remember that they were within ďwalkingĒ distance of the NPS turf at Independence Hall; but my walking range is pretty extensive.

Finally cooling off, clearing up, and drying out on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 08/14/03 09:21:10 EDT

Swords and Wallhangers:

. . . everyone wants to make a sword . . The world has gone sword nuts due, I think, from the proliferation of films such as Conan the Barbarian, Highlander and others of the same genre'. Then there are the TV series of the same theme. Great fun, but they are fantasy. Hollywood make-believe . . .

The reality as Pete pointed out is that swords are rather out of date as weapons. The invention of gun powder and hand held firearms ended that period of history. The old clichť "showing up with a knife at a gun fight" sums it up and will never be better illustrated than in the scene in the movie Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Arc where after a tense moment of bravado with a large sword the bad guy is simply and matter of factly shot dead.

Another reality is that the market is full of cheap blades. For $50 to $75 at thousands of flea markets across America you can purchase a very nicely made Pakistani or Chinese "sword". They are made of poor quality steel, of poor design, usualy not heat treated, polished brightly before being properly ground or straightened and have cheap ill fitting furniture. But they are much better than most wanna'bes will be able to make after numerous attempts at great cost. At a sub-minimum US wage they cost less than the time just to polish them.

These are "wallhangers". They are made to look pretty or for ceremonial use and otherwise hang on the wall. Many are used in movies and reenactments but only for show when you need hundreds. Their questionable construction makes them unsafe for even pretend combat.

At one time wallhangers came from once famous European sword making centers such as Toledo Spain and Shefield England. Now they come from places where a dollar a day (or less) wages is a "good" living. . .

But every boy wants to make a sword and play swashbuckler or Zoro.

There IS a market for real high class swords and knives. This is the collector's market where swords are high art, made of exotic materials and currently often surpass the quality of anything made in the past. It is a tough market to get into and even those with international reputations and backlogs of orders find it hard to make a living. Even at this level competition is fierce

There is also a market for "fighting weapons", used in movies and live steel reenactments. These are different than wall hangers or collector's blades. They are made of strong but not overly hardened medium carbon or stainless steel. They are dull and their primary purpose is NOT to cut and NOT to break. Their purpose is to be able to take pounding against similar blades and to look real at a distance. The importance of not breaking is more than a reliability issue, it is a serious safety concern. When a heavy blade breaks the loose piece can fly off uncontrolably and kill or maim someone (fatalities have happened). When a light blade breaks it can result in a deadly sharp point where there was supposed to be a dull rounded end.

As Ralph pointed out, you need to ask yourself WHY you want to make a sword. There is nothing wrong with doing it for the educational value, but there are thousands of other things a smith can make and there are thousands of useful blades a bladesmith can make. A good chef's knife is as picky as a real sword, more manageable to make and probably more profitable.

Think about it.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/14/03 11:12:56 EDT


For a blower I am using a fan and original pully system from a dryer that I converted to hand crank. It has about a 1:32 ratio which is perfect for a hand crank. Works very well, was free and easy to build.


Check out http://www.telezapper.com/faq.htm
You should be able to find them at RadioShack or such.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 08/14/03 12:15:08 EDT

Thank you guys for all the help, i will try to locate an ABANA chapter near me to link up for some basic forge skills.

The reason I wish to forge a sword, probably from a collectors standpoint as well as a practitioners standpoint I think swords are objects of great beauty. I am a collector, but also I study Jigen-Kenjutsu in my spare time, an ancient school of Japanese swordsmanship.

As for "wall-hangers" ive owned quite a few in my younger years, but as time passed i have begun to seek a sword of actual worth and quality. For me, weapons of great quality and strength hold beauty, as i have long since passed being fooled by the shiny exterior of "wall-hangers". However, I am also fairly poor at this point and have no method of paying for such a piece. Blacksmithy itself has also always held a certain allure for me, not just from a weps and armor standpoint. Just the fire, the steel, and everything else involved has some completely irrational attraction.

Thank you all for your help on this matter.

*Gives a Conan roar and bends his wall-hanger around a tree*
   Lord Feanor - Thursday, 08/14/03 13:41:21 EDT

Caleb, THANK YOU, as she rushes to Radio Shack, money in hand.....
   Ellen - Thursday, 08/14/03 13:49:17 EDT

This is replying to some older items, as the winds of road-trip-dom blew me across a state or two, lol. To recap for those of you that don't feel like reading everything to find out who the heck I am, I'm a soon-to-be published author that is checking facts and getting advice on smithing so I don't piss off all the nice people with red-hot metal and large hammers... So here goes...

To Jerry Crawford: For right now, we seem to be somewhat at a destination for the time being, which, for Steve A.'s sake is in Tuscaloosa, Al, woohoo! So far it's been a hell of a trip, as we (my wife and I) have driven from Anchorage, Alaska through Canada (if you get the chance to go to Prince George, do it, the town is awesome) down the west coast and across I-10/I-20 to where we are currently. And yes, Steve, I love the hamon line on Japanese blades, as (for me, anway) it seems to add a rather nice effect and add a little decor to the blade without having to etch. In the novel I'm writing, there are a few Eastern influences to a basically Westernized world. I like the folded blades of the east, and the styles of the west, so hey, since it's my world and I can invent as I go, why not combine? The blades I'm imagining are like two narrow, straight-blade katanas welded back to back to make a two-edger. I don't know how feasible that would be, but it sounds like they would be amazing blades and hold a hell of an edge. *shrug* As to spy-ware/telemarketing/etc, I'll add a little insider knowledge.

I used to be a telemarketer for a couple different firms, and yes, there are loopholes in the laws big enough to drive big rigs through. For instance, if a telemarketing agency uses only randomly generated numbers, they can call whoever they wish, since there IS no calling list. If they are doing research, they can call (Consumer Research Services, for instance). The best thing to do to a telemarketer is to simply hang up. They're people, just like you, and are just trying to make a living with little to no skills. (Most are people with little to no post-high school education, with a few exceptions).

Spyware: Yes, Ad-Aware is something I swear by. I've had fewer shut-downs and freeze-outs since installing it on any machine, and feel much more secure when I'm cruising the web.

Another CRITICAL thing to have is a firewall, which you can get for free at http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp It's free, upgradable, and very easy to learn. But since this is completely off-topic...

Anyway, thank you all so far for your help in my endeaver, especially PawPaw, and if you're a Tuscaloosa area smith, shoot me an email! I'd love to hear from ya and have some coffee or whatnot. Thanks all,
   Hildaguard - Thursday, 08/14/03 14:43:32 EDT

Firewalls: Software firewalls are OK but almost every one has some holes. For systems on cable and ISDN hook ups when you have a fixed IP address and ANY WinXP machine you MUST have a hardware firewall (seperate box). If not most of the nastier new viruses can blast through a software firewall (usualy by overloading it), then doing the same to Windirt.

My brother shut down his hardware firewall because he was having hetwork troubles and in just a few minutes had a dozen viruses and backdoor programs on his machine. To make matters worse the backdoor programs were infected with viruses themselves. Too him a week to clean up the mess and he is a technogeek. Turns out his "network trouble" was a big hack attack going on pointed at a group of Bell South IP addresses. . . His "test" just let them flood in.

If all this sounds like it is not worth being on the web and a HUGE agrevation well. . . IT IS and these are problems created by one man and his company. Bill Gates and Microsoft. Every copy of WinXP should come with a hardware firewall because of its foolish design. Look for new PC's to come with built-in firewalls. Yep, they will cost more and be more complicated to use.

The REAL solution to telemarketers is a law requiring them to NOT block their caller ID so people can call them back and waste THEIR time. Fair is fair. THE Arnold would understand this logic. I think California needs him. He won't be afraid to tell ANYONE that their BS IS BS and get to the truth. He may not last long but government will not be the same.

The solution to SPAM is similar. Make it a felony to forge a return address on mail. Forgery IS a felony in most places. As soon as spammers have to handle the FLOOD of return complaints the problem will drop significantly. YES, they can ignore the complaints but they cannot ignore mail overloading their server space and costing them bandwidth charges. Also, if they have to use their REAL return address then they can be filtered. You currently cannot filter the big time SPAMMERS that use randomly generated names, account names, hostnames and subject names. This is forgery and in some places this form of forgery has been labeled criminal hacking and prosecuted.

There are solutions to these problems that will WORK. But our government (federal or local) must consider these problems AS PROBLEMS first.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/14/03 15:37:23 EDT

Hildaguard, Not sure if you were throwing this out to the world BUT.... I couldn't resist,

"The blades I'm imagining are like two narrow, straight-blade katanas welded back to back to make a two-edger. I don't know how feasible that would be, but it sounds like they would be amazing blades and hold a hell of an edge"
Hmmmmmmm.... Iím thinking it would be a nice wall hanger, but not a very practical weapon. Contrary to popular belief (movies are the biggest killers of the facts) one doesnít block an incoming blade attack with the edge of the weapon. The edge to do its job needs to be thin and hard, as such there is less material there to absorb the energy of an incoming attack and is not as flexible. If one consistently blocked incoming attacks with the edge of a weapon the blade would in most every case eventually fail after extended use. You would have to grind so much of the edge off after every use that you would be down to just your soft core in no time (not to mention you couldnít cut butter with it). Although it is not likely you would ever see a 15 minute sword fight outside of a American Ninja movie. When in combat the goal is to kill the opponent before he kills you and to kill them as quickly as possible by any means available. Not so in front of a camera.

However there have been reports of samurai who were so evenly matched in prowess that the fight lasted a very long time (over an hour) and many times ended with both of them killing each other at the same time.
The proper methodology is to use the side and back of the blade to block (where the blade is more flexible and can withstand repeated blows)

Your weapon would basically be depriving the user of a viable blocking surface, forcing the wielder (as opposed to the welder) into a much more aggressive style of fighting to over come his/her lack of blocking ability.

Iím thinking -- Conceivable to build, Yes. ---- Very Cool looking, Yes. --- Good for Fantasy Absolutely. ----- Real world Practical. No.
   Dave - Thursday, 08/14/03 16:34:55 EDT

Then explain all of the European style blades? They in many cases were two edged blades.
One of the big jobs of a page or squire was to remove nicks etc from a blade after use.
   Ralph - Thursday, 08/14/03 16:48:45 EDT


With double edged blades of all types, blocking is done with the side of the blade, not with the edge.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 08/14/03 16:57:45 EDT

PPW, true, but it still does not expain how a double edged sword is just a 'fantasy' weapon.... As they were use quite a bit thru out history.
And I am sure some blocking is done with the edge.... not the best but then things never go as planned one the fighting begins.
   Ralph - Thursday, 08/14/03 17:35:26 EDT

Ralph, nicks in the edge are from where the other guy blocked your weapon. Sometimes with the corner of the spine (on a saber or scimitar type weapon) But if you swing at the other guy and your blade does NOT get nicked, usually you don't have to swing a second time. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 08/14/03 17:51:18 EDT

What's with all these people talking about computer security, firewalls, virii and hackers? If y'all are getting attacked enough to need to be seriously concerned about this stuff, find a good local geek and have him/her install Linux on your computer. Just think... no more emergency patching to fix a gaping, glaring hole... no more trojans... no more viruses... no more malware installing itself. If you wanna learn more about Linux, email me... maybe I can help you out of the Windows pit.

And now for the obligatory blacksmithing content...

I'm currently working on a piece which is a mix of copper and mild steel. I started it before i learned what bimetallic/galvanic corrosion is. I plan to use galvanized machine screws for most of the fittings, but there will be several places where (if i don't put in a plastic washer or something) there will be direct contact between copper and steel. Suggestions?

Also, for the same piece, I need to trim a piece of copper plate. I was planning to do so with a hot-cut tool that I made. Is there anything special I should keep in mind while hot-cutting copper, since it's more ductile than steel?

I can't see the mountains across the bay for the humidity in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 08/14/03 19:56:41 EDT

T. Gold,

The big thing to remember when hot-working copper is that it is the second best conductor of heat there is. You can't get part of it hot enough to work hot without the entire piece being up to temperature for all intents and purposes. This means long tongs with broad jaws to avoid marring the soft hot copper and careful attention to placement of hammer blows as blows over unsupported areas will cause dramatic buckling. Since copper is so ductile and soft, I'd cut it cold. Not much more work at all.
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/14/03 21:13:13 EDT


For those of you that missed it, at 4pm EST there was a huge power outage in the North Eastern US and Southern Canada effecting some 50 million people from Conneticut to Ohio and Michigan. It is some 5 to 10 times bigger than the great blackout of 1977.

There is a good chance our server in Ohio is running on backup power at this very moment.

Officials say it started on a power line from Canada and that power is slowly being restored in most places. In NYC there was chaos but no mayhem.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/14/03 22:22:37 EDT

Arrrgh! Can't find my Yellin book, might be loaned out to my friend from Church. Will try to take a look tomorrow in the daylight through the other three rooms of bookshelves here at Oakley.

When's your trip to Philadelphia? The 11th? I'll keep looking.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 08/14/03 22:39:49 EDT

Lord F;
A fair number of fine smiths got involved with the intent to make weapons and got distracted by "Just the fire, the steel, and everything else involved "
The everything else part is limited by what is between your ears. Also, smithing is where one runs hard up against incontrovertable manifestations of reality...in a society that works to distance one from them. So much of what we believe is false, that the honesty of steel is true solace.
   - Pete F - Friday, 08/15/03 03:29:44 EDT

One more thing to add to your list of "no mores" in your singing of praises of Linux is "no more wide choice of programs" Possibly things are better now but a year ago when I looked at Linux, (I ran a dual boot machine) I would have been so limited to what I could run on the Linux system I decided it just wasn't worth the hastle of adjusting to a new system. Perhaps if you had a machine that ONLY was used for the internet and a seperate machine was used for everything else, then it would be a practicle OS. However if you had a seperate machine for the internet only, then it wouldn't be such a problem with virius invasions etc as you just need to restore one machine to a "virgin" state with a mirror of your "ideal" setup. I am no fan of Bill Gates or of Microsoft but that is the reality of the world we are in.

B.S. content follows,
When I work copper I find it is just as easy to work it cold and aneal it when it gets work hardened. Bronze is another thing though, for forging, I like to have it just at a real dim red in a dark room, it moves like butter (and is just as easy to mark with tongs etc!) Don't get it too hot though as you will loose everything to the fire. A gas forge for me is the best way to work bronze, just set the forge to a lower temp and watch your work carefully!
   - Wayne Parris - Friday, 08/15/03 08:34:21 EDT

Bounced Mail - Heat Treating: I get at least one question a week that I take the time to answer and the mail bounces. . . Don'tcha love it?
comments: I have been trying to find out what exactly the enert material is that I should be packing my A2,Ats34 154cm, and various other steels I use for blades during heat treating to avoid de carbuization. I read the term in many places I have searched for info on properly treating and tempering my blades. I do all my shaping manually and I don't want to loose any more pieces. Some take as many as 10 or 12 hours of work. PLEASE HELP if you can.


In heat treating it is common to use fuel rich atmospheres or hydrogen to keep oxygen away from steel. For stainless a vacuum is recommended and is much cheaper than other methods but that is for production heat treating. The furnaces are special and pricy. A "hard" vacuum is not needed and in fact is detimental. In small lots salt baths are used. A barium chloride mix is used but requires a quench in second bath of salt soluable in water to help remove the barium chloride.

For heat treating A-2 most shops use stainless foil. It is available from heat treaters suppliers or McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) either in rolls or in envelopes ready to seal. The part is sealed in the SS foil, heated, removed from the furnace and the foil removed to quench. The foil is thin enough that it tears fairly easily and it keeps air off the parts.

I use this method for hardening dies. I bring the part and foil up to a low red, remove from the forge/furnace and shut down the furnace, I quickly open the package and apply fresh air. As soon as the part is cooled below a visible heat I put it back in the furnace and temper using residual heat (measured at 400F).

For annealing it is common to use quick lime as an insulator. I suspect it would also work to keep air off your parts but I have not tried it.

Sealing in a refractory clay is also a common small shop method. Mixtures used to create a hamon line work. Porceline type clays are best.

   - guru - Friday, 08/15/03 09:48:47 EDT

Scams: My e-mail has more and more of them every day. Multi Level Marketing (MLM pyramid schemes), Stock scams, Chain letters, the daily Nigerian scam (they are getting more creative and actualy use NEW stories now including 'help this poor child recieve its inheritance'). The only thing that has not changed is that the amount is ALWAYS 26 million dollars . . . Must be some magic number in Nigeria.

The Newest Scam: "YOU HAVE WON THE LOTTERY!" Hmmm, just as I noted that I didn't play them earlier in the week. . . And $2,000,000 Euros to boot! "Please contact to arrange transfer of you winings. . . "

This is a derivation of the Nigerian "advance fee fraud". There is ALWAYS some catch and you will be asked to pay "modest" legal fees, transfer fees and even bribes. It is all fraud. There IS NO MONEY. You have NOT won. They will take various new fees from you FOREVER or until you run out of money or finally realize that you have been a fool.

Most of these deals have just enough shadyness that most victims do not go to the authorities to admit they were scammed since they were doing something ilegal in the first place. . . Yet the REPORTED losses to this crime are in the millions in the US alone. And don't expect the Nigerian authorities to help you, they run the scams.

There are just enough newbies (of all ages) on the Internet that these scams still keep working. Think your Mother or Grandma needs e-mail so you can write to her daily? Better sit her down and explain the "facts of life" to her first.

In a very recent past most people were never confronted by con men. NEVER! Yes, it is daily life for a few in "the city" but not in most of the world. Now, everyone, everywhere is reachable by con men everyday, several times a day.

SPAM is not just a nuisance. It is a plague of criminal activity entering every home with an Internet connection.
   - guru - Friday, 08/15/03 10:22:14 EDT

I am preparing a talk to the model steam club I belong to on the topic of heat treating tool steel's at home. Do you know where I can find a color chart of steels at various heat treating temperatures? I recall back in my apprenticeship days (60's) seeing these on the wall of the shop by the quenching tank in a few of the shops.
   Ken B - Friday, 08/15/03 10:23:14 EDT

Ken, The charts you EVERYWHERE are published by the Tempil Division of Big Three Industries Inc., hamilton Blvd, South Plainfield, NJ 07080. The small ones are given away and the big ones sell for a few dolars. They are the standard of the industry.

That said, what the eye percieves is dependant on ambient light. Very low red heats that cannot be seen in normal indoor light appear brilliant in the dark. Bright orange forging heats have no color at all and though they appear hot they are bleached out in direct sunlight. Using color to determine temperature by eye requires experiance based on the ambient light.

Most blacksmiths use the magnet trick to determine when steel is ready to harden. When steels above 50 point carbon and below 85 points become non-magnetic then they are at the right temperature to harden. For steels above and below this range the temperature is a little higher.

To test a magnet wired to a stick or metal rod is used to test the steel. When the magnet stops sticking the steel is hot enough. This is a surprisingly low heat when judging by eye. You can harden at higher temperatures but the higher the temperature the more likely you are to crack or warp the piece. You also get grain growth at higher temperatures that is detrimental to the steel.

We have a temper color chart linked on our FAQ page. Note that alloy steels show different colors or double bands of color.
   - guru - Friday, 08/15/03 13:56:12 EDT


Tuscaloosa... I hope that location isn't related to a lamentable choice of institutions of... um... allegedly higher learning. ;) Even if it is, I'll try not to hold it against you. ;) But Tuscaloosa is just down I-59 from Tannehill, where the Alabama Forge Council will be having our annual conference September 5-7. That's Tannehill State Park - I can't think of the name of the nearby town. http://afc.abana-chapter.com. That's the address in the newsletter; I haven't actually tried it lately. There would be plenty of opportunity to try hammering on some hot steel at the conference.

Also from the newsletter, Tuscaloosa forge meets the Fourth Sunday and the Vulcan Forge - I think that would be B'ham - on the second Sunday.

Okay, lunch break's over, time to get back out there. This is a day off, and I suspect there will be a few more like this to get things done by September. If I do, there will be a pile of projects to show off on the photo page all at the same time. :)

   Steve A - Friday, 08/15/03 16:23:38 EDT

Guru, far be it from me to argue with what works for you but martensite does not begin to form in A2 until about 700F. It does not finish transforming until about 250F. If you are not letting it cool to about 200F, you are not getting full hardness out of the steel. Slowing the cooling rate down by placing it in the furnace to temper before the martensite forms will allow other microstructures, like bainite or pearlite/ferrite, to form and they lack the hardness of martensite.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 08/15/03 19:42:21 EDT

Most (not all) people who get scammed deserve it! The first time I saw the Nigerian scam (15 years ago by fax) I had a good laugh and showed it around asking "who would fall for this". Well, a few weeks later I read in the paper about a guy who sent in his money as instructed and lost around
$15,000.00! I say it's hard to cheat an honest man. Anyone who falls for this stuff I have no sympathy for.
   - grant - Friday, 08/15/03 19:57:58 EDT

Grant, True, but if your grandparents recieved a letter saying they had won the lottery and just needed to send their banking information so that the money could be deposited directly for them, then their life savings vanished overnight. . . were they crooks? People, especially the elderly, fall for this kind of scam on a regular basis with regular con men. But con men of this calibur were far and few between and often got caught. Now we have government sanctioned con men working on an international scale where one con man has access to tens of millions of would be "marks".

Yep, I also got an early Nigerian scam letter by mail in the 1980's. It was on nice pretty Nigerian government letterhead and matching envelope and looked quite legitimate. Later versions were on tenth generation zerox copies of the original letterhead.
   - guru - Friday, 08/15/03 20:26:33 EDT

A2: QC, you are right and I did a poor job of describing the method I used. It was almost cool enough to handle by hand before I tempered it. By the time you get the foil off it has cooled a lot. I also waited just long enough for the forge to cool to the tempering temperature I wanted.
   - guru - Friday, 08/15/03 20:30:18 EDT

Yes, AND that is why I made a point to say "most". The ones I've read about don't deserve any tears.
   - grant - Friday, 08/15/03 20:42:58 EDT

For some reason most of the Afrospam I get arrives at work. I guess our filters (which are really good) don't work on what is designed to look like business correspondence. What amuses me is the fact that I get so many- After a while there is a fratracidal effect- there can't be that much loose funds in all of Africa, and that many widows, sons, orphans and crooked business associates. Eventually the mark would catch on.

At time I think of referring them to each other:

"Dear Mrs. Mumbasso: Alow me to forward your letter to Mr. Gonolo, who, as it happens, has a similar need, as well as young Steven Udulu, who also is burdened with slightly illegal wealth that needs laundering. Perhaps you could all exchange funds..."

My other temptation is:

"Dear Mr. Mngula: Please note the ".gov" at the end of this address. This is an official arm of the United States Government, which is intently interested in money laundering schemes- often used to support terrorism against our nation. You may expect a visit from one of our highly competent and well armed representatives soon." etc.

Alas, I can not do this from work, and it would probably only generate more spam as they spread my live e-mail address; but wouldn't it be fun?

Got in some cold work tonight: key modification for a Viking-style lock and mouse guards for the Dempsey smelter. Glad to be back to some physical work.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 08/15/03 22:48:54 EDT

One of the things I dis-like about Netscape 7.0 is the filtering system. With Netscape 4l.78, you could set up a filter, and include in the items to look for any list of words you wanted. So I had a filter title Nigerian Spam/Scam. Put all the words like, "Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cote D'azure, ect.: in the filter. But with WIN2K, you have to make a separate filter for EACH new message. That keeps you from getting the same message twice, but you still have to see it the first time, and make another filter out of it.

   Paw Paw - Friday, 08/15/03 23:58:58 EDT

PTP, PP! That should read Netscape 4.78,
   Paw Paw - Friday, 08/15/03 23:59:54 EDT

AfroSpam: I have sent a return email to a few of them stating that I have forwarded their email to the US Dept of Commerce, the FBI, the Treasury Dept. and any other agencies I could think of. Did'nt seem to stem the flow. I agree with Guru; Spam is a CRIME and needs to be stopped NOW! I even sent one nut a reply stating that it was a real coincidence that he chose me for the plan since all my accounts were frozen due to a misunderstanding with the government. I said I needed a $50,000 advance to pay my lawyers and could he get it wired to me ASAP! He mailed back and asked me to call him! DUH!
   - Quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/16/03 07:41:22 EDT

SPAM and CRIME: Every URL on our server (~100) gets hit every day by attempts to hack the mailserver and the mail forms. This is an attempt to steal services. Much spam is sent via servers with poor security or old software that needs to be upgraded.

Just the fact that they TRY is attempted theft of services AND puts a billion dollar load on the internet in the form of bandwidth and extra server capacity. Its not just our server that is being probed by hacker/spammers but every server on the planet! The load of the actual spam is in the 10's of billions of dollars annualy. Like any crime we pay for it even when we are not the victim. We pay in cash for higher services and in reduction of quality of life.

SPAMERS do more financial damage to our country than terrorists. So who should we be at war with? Like the terrorists themselves, our govenrment chooses the flashy "big event". . . And yet after spending billions in two wars they could not get the two men that were the targets. . . . Maybe they should go after the little guys that cost us more.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/16/03 10:15:50 EDT

From the Mail - Homework? We get some rather strange mail from time to time but one really stood out. It was sent to myself and Bruce Wallace (perhaps others).

Help clarify my doubt about the materials used for the following tools and their nominal compositions
(a)punch for blanking of mild steel
(b)container for direct extrusion of copper
(c)die for indirect extrusion of copper
(d)punch for deep drawing of stainless steel
(e)hot forging die for nickel alloys
(f)cold rolling die for steel
What are the attributes of cold, warm, and hot working under
stain rate sensitivity;flow stress;die pressure;dimensional tolerance;surface finish;lubrication,healing of casting defects;and working temperatures.
Please I want to confirm what the followings are
(a)limiting draw ratio
(b)spinning operation
(c)yield point phenomena in sheet metal working
(d)yield criteria in bulk deformation.
I replied, "Your questions are technical enough that you assuradly you have the technical references suficient enough to answer the same questions. This indicates to me that your questions are homework or a school assignment."

This is not the first such blatent attempt to get us to do homework or even important parts of a thesis. But it is definitely the most obvious.

We often get some pretty techcnical questions in the mail and some MAY BE homework. However, most are folks with real world problems and we try to help. I'll even help with reasonable homework requests. But we draw the line at doing homework for people. . . . Had enough of that in school! Besides which it is cheating and does not help the student learn anything. Sadly, the fellow above is probably in an engineering curriculum somewhere.

   - guru - Saturday, 08/16/03 14:07:00 EDT

I got it too.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 08/16/03 14:48:27 EDT

"(a)punch for blanking of mild steel
(b)container for direct extrusion of copper
(c)die for indirect extrusion of copper
(d)punch for deep drawing of stainless steel
(e)hot forging die for nickel alloys
(f)cold rolling die for steel"

I don't know; it sounds sort of like the clues for the cross-word puzzle that my wif always asks me. I get all the biblical, historic and metalworking references. i even have some answers for her from time-to-time. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 08/16/03 20:50:23 EDT

General question from a relative newbie...

This is about files. I've done some shaping and cleanup work with files I had around the shop. However, prior to starting blacksmithing a year ago, I had no metal working experience. I am now doing some shaping on a larger piece of steel. The stock removal is not going as fast as I would expect. Now I've done some looking around on the internet and I found my first major problem. I was using single cut files and not double cut. At least I think that would be part of my problem. So, I am going to ask an open ended question here. I would really appreciate if the guru could do a brain dump on files. Such as what the numbers on the files mean? Are "machinist's files" the best for use by blacksmiths? Who makes the best files? Any recommended procedurs for preparing the stock for filing? For example, does it help to heat the metal then slowly cool it prior to filing to soften it a bit? As I said, feel free to mention anything about files that might be useful. I know this is a very open question its just that I can't find where anyone groups this information into one location. Thank you very much in advance.
   Scott - Saturday, 08/16/03 21:14:08 EDT


Scott's question is one that would make a good FAQ. That said Scott, you might want to search the archives, there's a good bit in there about files.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 08/16/03 22:40:47 EDT

If I am in the wrong place please discard this. Was looking for a place around Alexandria or Leesville Louisiana to buy coal Thanks

   Johnny - Saturday, 08/16/03 23:17:54 EDT

About files, I'll respond briefly. It does help to soften the metal by slow cooling from a specific temperature, often cherry red for plain carbon steel. A horseshoers' rasp, 14" double extra thin, has a good, fairly coarse double cut on the side opposite the rasp cut. Single cut is okay if the cut depth and coarseness are suitable. For American files, I like Simonds brand, and Nicholson is still in business. Grobet is supposed to be top of the line. grobetusa.com Reference: Metalwork Technology and Practice, by Repp and McCarthy, 1989, Macmillen/McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-02-676460-1 pp.136-142
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 08/17/03 00:26:52 EDT

Hi, Got a couple of questions. What is 'Puddled Iron'? And I have some polishing powder. Could you recommend something that I could mix this powder in and make a stick type thing with which to apply to a buffing wheel for polishing metal?
   Bob - Sunday, 08/17/03 00:38:40 EDT

When they used to make wrought iron ( the real stuff) by hand, they did it in an open puddling furnace. Because iron mixed with excess carbon ( like cast iron) melts at a lower temperature, the pure iron would be semi-solid in the molten mass. The puddler used a long handled tool to collect the pure iron into masses which were then lifted out and worked under a big hammer to make wrought iron.
Fuzzy memory on this..please correct if wrong.
Polishing powder was traditionally applied to buffing wheels in a heavy grease medium.
Once this lard is kneaded into a solid with the addition of abraisive grains...Do NOT cook with it as you will wear out your molars in short order.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 08/17/03 03:52:23 EDT

I hope you don't mind me going off-topic, but Scott's question reminds me of one (of many) amusing anecdotes in a book called "Augustine's Laws." A large conglomerate has just bought a steel maker, and the CEO tours a plant. He keeps passing a man in the middle of the plant who's working on a huge steel billet with a file. The CEO finally overcomes his fear of displaying ignorance and asks the man what he's making. The answer: "about $25 an hour."
   Mike B - Sunday, 08/17/03 06:54:40 EDT

Does anyone have a good design for tongs to hold flat strips? I have made several sets of tongs with wings on the sides of the bottom jaw and a flat top jaw and they work just fine. The problem is the limited ajustment available to hold slightly different widths. I have tried to use Vise-grips only to set fire to my glove while I try to attatch it to the workpiece. For that matter, if Vise-grips were invented by a blacksmith, why doesn't someone make a vise-grip tong with straight, non-serrated jaws and long reins to actually be used by blacksmiths. I smell money, Grant!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/17/03 09:50:12 EDT

Tongs for Flat and to FIT: QC, Many smiths use short bit tongs with a higher leverage ratio for holding flat until the pieces get too long ot too heavy to hang onto by friction alone. Standard farriers tongs are this type. After that you need tongs to fit every size OR adjust the tongs you have on hand as needed. Tongs are almost a "one size fits all" tool. Don't be afraid to ADJUST your tongs to fit. Even properly fitting tongs get bent out of shape and need adjusting now and again. Even when smiths have a huge collection of tongs they usualy fit the ones they are using at the moment. A general rule:

"Check the fit of your tongs for EVERY uses and adjust as neded."

The only time this does not apply is when you are working in someone else's shop. The the rule above is modified by "Ask before adjusting". Unless you are a pro or an experianced full time employee folks generally don't want you messing with their tongs.

I almost always have some nasty old tongs picked up at the flea market. When I don't have tongs to fit I look at these first and rework them.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/03 10:17:43 EDT

Puddled Iron: Pete got most of it right. There are three methods of making wrought iron.
  1. Bloomery Process (the most ancient - a carefully controlled smelting process).
  2. Puddling using a "reverbatory" furnace and an oxidizing flame to burn carbon out of cast iron creating a skin of pure iron on the surface of the pool that is collected.
  3. The Beyer(?sp) Process. This starts with a Bessemer like process but blows the iron until it has no carbon (pure iron) and then slag is added to the liquid iron and it is pressed and rolled. This is the most modern process.
Currently no wrought iron is manufactured except in very small experimental batches (20 - 50 pounds) by the bloomery process. All those claiming to MAKE wrought on a large scale (Such as the Real Wrought Iron Company) are just reprocessing old wrought. They take scrap, weld it into billets and then roll to finished size.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/03 10:30:20 EDT

Files The only numbers on files that ae meaningful are the length. As files get larger they are made coarser. A 12" or 14" file (pretty big) are much coarser than the the same style in a 8" or 10". I'm not sure how European files are sold (mm or cm).

All other numbers are manufacturers catalog numbers. They have no relationship to other makers or any standard.

Files come (came) in hundreds of styles and cross sections. The common types are flat and half round in either single cut or double (bastard) cut. Then there are round, square and triangular files in all sizes and cuts.

Warding files are a tapered extra thin flat file originaly designed to cut the slots (ward cuts) in keys.

Knife files taper to a point and have a thin knife like edge.

There are also special cuts for filing aluminium and other materials that clog files. There are random pattern rasp cuts (pattern makers rasps) that produce a very smooth surface on wood and soft stone while being very aggressive.

There were hundreds of other types but modern makers are cutting back on their lines. Much of this has to do with corporate buy outs and "inventory" being a a dirty word in modern ecomomics.

Filing IS a slow process. In the day when files were a primary means of moving metal they were used in conjunction with chisles and scrapers. Nobody tried to file a rough wavy surface without first chisling off the high spots and scraping off the mill scale. Files have always been too expensive a tool to waste by applying improperly. Modern craftspeople use hand held grinders for rough clean up. Those skilled with the grinder can by-pass the file altogether.

If you are doing a lot of filing because you want to be "traditional" then learn the other skills that traditionaly come before the file.

FAQ Yes, we need a good article on files but to do so needs many illustrations. I've had two people volunteer and then proceed to send scans of copyrighted material. Unless the material is from very early in the 20th Century (pre 1927) then the copyright is still valid. Even then things can be tweeky as forign copyright law is different and when old material is reused by the same publisher there are serious copyright questions. There is also a current trend of extending copyrights well beyond their original life.

The alternative is sit down and make original drawings or to photograph a collection of files including very close details. Drawings work better.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/03 11:05:38 EDT

Powdered Abrasives: These are generaly used to charge things like hones and laps. IF you want stick buffing compound then buy it. The manufacturers of these products have spent many years developing a product that works.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/03 11:12:33 EDT

Hidagard, check out the history of metals technologies, "folded steel" was extensively used in the west pre year 1000, as better metals became available it was phased out for homogenous steels; *but* making those steels was often a folding process, (why I lost it during "Pirates" when he mentioned "folded steel" *all* blister and shear steels of that period was "folded" and so the cook's butcher knife was probably "folded steel" as well)

The reason the japanese went to so much effort to make their blades was that they had really bad materials to start with and they came up with an involved process to make it usable. That amazing clay hardening step works on very shallow hardening alloys, (low in Mn for one).

Their blades are also *not* good for many types of swordfighting as the backs often un-hardened will bend if the cut is not perfect and the edges tend to chip if they hit hard materials---*why* the emphasis on perfection of form when using them. European spring tempered blades are much more rugged. Take a good european sword and hit it side ways on a tree---boing, take a good katana and do likewise---disaster! Now get into a sword fight with say 200 folks in armour on a side---will every cut you make be "perfect"?

So if they are doing western style fighting, eastern style blades will do *worse*. If you come up with a no/leather armour style of fighting then the "perfect slash" style of fighting might make sense.

BTW may I commend to your attention "The Burnished Blade" as having a great "mistake in the smithy" scene in it. Quite an old book but when I re-read it after 20 years of smithing I still had to say that it held up very well in the smithing department!

Thomas, back from Pennsic where once again we ran a bloomery
   - Thomas Powers - Sunday, 08/17/03 11:39:03 EDT

More About Files: The book Frank referenced, Metalworking Technology and Practice,is a standard metalworking text book that has been used since the 1940's and has been continualy updated. It has been used in colleges, technical schools and trade schools continously for 60 years. I have an early edition by the original publisher and also a current edition. It has changed very little. If you need basic instruction in how to do simple layout, how to drill a hole, use a file or a hacksaw, OR introduction to the broader field of metalwork then THIS IS THE BOOK.

Care and Feeding of Files LIFT your file on the return stroke. Dragging it wears it out needlessly. Clean and oil your files before putting them away. For removing common debris from a file a tool called a "file card" is made. These have a stiff fibre brush on one side and stainless wire carding brush on the other for removing chips. On abused clogged files I use a fine power wire brush. On really stubborn chips I pick them out with the point of my pocket knife. . (and people wonder why it is always dull).

Oil your files and rasps with a light oil. I use WD-40 but beware using things like Liquid Wrench. Rust busting compounds look oily but are mostly kerosene and they leave an acid residue that promotes new rust.

Light oil will also reduce wear and prevent chips from sticking. This works best on coarse files. Fine files need to be clean and dry before use.

Store files so that they are on a soft surface and don't knock into each other (yeah I KNOW this rule but rarely do it right). Wood lined drawers with dividers are recommended, I use heavy tight carpet in my unlined tool chests.

Handles make files easier to use and prevent them from laying flat on a surface.

Files used for wood, brass and aluminium should never be used on steel. Once a file is used on steel it needs to be relegated to use on steel only.

In some applications files are consumables that are used up on a regular basis. In others they are long life tools. I have files and rasps that are 40+ years old.

Files are also an investment. Good files cost on average $10 - $12 US each. Specialty files like patternmakers rasps are over $50. Those like rifflers and die makers files are often only available as a set. It is very easy to have hundreds of dollars invested in files.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/03 11:42:36 EDT

Question: 1.Give a suitable material for the following tools and give its norminal composition
(a)punch for blanking of mild steel
(b)container for direct extrusion of copper
(c)die for indirect extrusion of copper
(d)punch for deep drawing of stainless steel
(e)hot forging die for nickel alloys
(f)cold rolling die for steel
2.List in tabular form, the attributes of cold,warm and hot working under the following headings: stain rate sensitivity;flow stress;die pressure;dimensional tolerance;surface finish;lubrication,healing of casting defects;and working temperatures.
3.Explain the following:
(a)limiting draw ratio
(b)spinning operation
(c)yield point phenomena in sheet metal working
(d)yield criteria in bulk deformation.

   Ogaga Oghale - Sunday, 08/17/03 14:03:04 EDT

1. What are the solidification of alloys containing
(i) 0.5%C, and (ii) 3.5%C
2. Briefly explain the difference
between hardness &
hardenability & describe a
method to determine
hardenability of steel
3. Give the temperature range over
which it is desirable to
austenitize each of the
following iron carbon alloys
during a full anneal heat
(a) 0.2%C
(b) 0.6%C
(c) 0.8%C
(d) 1.0%C
   Ogaga Oghale - Sunday, 08/17/03 14:07:47 EDT

Ogaga Oghale, You wrote:

Please your assistance is highly needed, your are right its a home work. But I have checked my school library for books on this course but there are none . . .

Unless you are at a very poor school (I can not tell from the Internet) or someone has stolen all the books on metalurgy or even those on general subjects then you haven't looked. If the books are missing then you are not the only one with problems.

The information MAY also be sprinkled around on the Internet. matweb.com has quite a bit but you will have to dig as you will on anvilfire.

Our FAQ on heat treating rambles a bit but answers some of your questions such as the difference between hardness and hardenability. So does most general encylopedia and machinist references such as MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK or almost any materials reference. The Encylopedia Britanica has very thorough articles on basic metalurgy.

Our heat treating FAQ also has links to other industry sites that may be helpful.

Another source for PARTS of books on-line in PDF format (free) is:


The Casti Metals Black Book is recommended by QC (a metalurgist) and will probably answer many of your questions.

Selection of steels for a specific job such as blanking depends on the shop locality (on a world scale which deternines the steels available), the heat treating facilities and the production quantity. Any steel of 40 point carbon or more can be used to make punch dies (you can even punch with mild steel dies). But it will not hold up for a long production run. A high carbon steel of 95 point carbon or more is best and if the shop does not have good heat treating capabilities then air hardening steels like A2 or S7 are best for the small shop. But these are expensive tool steels and in a production environment a manufacturer would want the cheapest die steel that gave the best production rate. It is a matter of scale.

Forging dies have certain recommended steels in industry but in small shops blacksmiths get away with structural steel (A36) for runs in the low thousands if there are no sharp details. Open die forging dies on large hammers are often SAE 4150 but in this era of EDM sunk dies, pre heat treated H13 is used a lot for both cold pressing dies and hot forging dies.

I am sure a more specific answer is wanted and I'm sure the answer is in THE book you are supposed to be using as a reference. Most classroom assignments also do not want situational answers such as using mild steel for forging dies in small shops. But THAT is real life in the blacksmith shop.

The answers to many of these questions are not spelled out in plain English in any book and must be derived from studying the graphs and charts of data. THAT is much of what engineering and metalurgy is about. Reading the data and making conclusions. And I suspect that is the point of this assignment.

You have a LOT of reading to do and we are not going to rescue you by doing your homework for you.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/03 15:52:18 EDT

Hmmm, forget homework! This looks suspiciously like a take home test to me!
   eander4 - Sunday, 08/17/03 15:59:49 EDT

Guru, I think we are missing an opportunity here. All of these questions could be an additional source of income as they look like consulting jobs to me! When I consult I get $90 per hour and I am sure the Guru's time is worth at least that much if not more. We can take PayPal, money orders and cash, in advance. The line forms to the right, kids. Don't push and no talking.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/17/03 17:23:25 EDT

You know QC, that's not a bad idea. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 08/17/03 17:36:25 EDT

Files: I have thousands of dollars invested in files at this point, I'm sure. Everything from #6 jeweler's files in thirty or so different cross sections and sizes (several of each, actually) to 16" double-cut roughing files for heavy stock removal. Some of the die sinkers and jewelers files cost nearly a hundred bucks each. Yes, they're Grobet, and yes, they're definitely worth it.

One of the best ways I know to keep small and medium sized files is in a "tool roll" sewed up from an old pair of Levis. For my big files, I keep them on wooden shelves with little divider strips. The files that only get used once or twice a year I keep clean, oiled lightly and wrapped in heavy waxed paper, then put in a drawer. Living in an ocean climate, I have to be extra careful about rust.

On the numbering of file cuts: American files are graded as jrough, bastard, second cut, and fine. Rough cut has become a dinosaur in the last twenty years and you can only find the other three grades. Single-cut means one direction of cut lines. Double-cut means that a second set of cut lines are made at an angle to the first set. Double-cut cuts faster, but leaves more marks. Interestingly, if a 6" bastard file has 200 cut lines, then every file in that style will also have 200 lines. As the files get bigger, the teeth are coarser, but still carry the designation "bastard cut." My guess is that this had something to do with the cottage industry of file-cutting in England a couple hundred years ago. Same number of cuts equals same pay, regardless of size. Just guessing.

Did you ever note that most post vises are 42" tall, (roughly elbow-high), regardless of jaw size? That's because they were made to hold things for filing. Anvils are for pounding on, not vises. That's why they're the right height for pounding. Chipping vises were made for holding things to chisel casting flash off, and were usually mounted lower than a post vise to allow comfortable working with a hammer and chisel.

Jock, I think I sent you a set of drawings for a tutorial on files and filing a year or so ago. About the same time as the iForge demo on casting, maybe even along with the drawings for that. I hope. If not, and you want them, let me know and I'll try to dig out the scans and send them, along with some text.
   vicopper - Sunday, 08/17/03 18:53:51 EDT

Question to everyone: I am looking for a practical (read, not 1000's of $) way to achieve dust control on a Bader III belt grinder. I make armor as a hobby, and I've tried various low-tech solutions to collect the grit:

1. My shop has postive air pressure from a 600 cfm evap cooler, and the grider is right in front of a window, so the really tiny stuff eventually gets blown out.

2. I put a box fan on the table behind the grinder, with a HEPA type furnace filter stuck on the front (a suggestion from a smithing magazine); it is getting gray, so it is picking up some stuff. It sits in front of the open window, but hopefully does not interfere with the exhaust stream from the cooler.

3. Used to wear a respirator, until I read firm, educated opinions that stated my beard makes them worse than useless. Besides, wearing a respirator for a couple of hours stressed my lungs quite a bit (breathing your own spit for a long time gets old...).

With all my precautions, there is still grit around when I finish a session. What to do? The Bader, like most big belt machines, has a big wheel sticking out in space, on the end of an arm. This is what makes the thing so useful, since I can reach almost all areas on funny-shaped plates. But, of course, it makes dust control difficult.

Has anyone out there made/bought a dust collector for a belt grinder? Was it hard to make/expensive? Big downdraft tray, hose mouth under the wheel, or something? Or, perhaps, does a slight water mist on the belt turn the grit to mud effectively enought to not make vacuum collection necessary? I don't mind making or buying a mister; it would make a fearful mess, but that is far better than being on a O2 bottle by age 60. Or am I being overly fearful?

Jock: Someday, I will get pictures to you of the sheet metal forge. The shop is just too bloody hot and muggy, right now...

   - Eric T - Sunday, 08/17/03 19:42:24 EDT


It should be relatively easy to make a dust collection system for the Bader. Some sheet metal, snips, a pop rivet gun and a drill will do the job, you just need to get a blower. And not a window fan, a real squirrel-cage or turbine blower that will move 700+ cfm at a minimum of 5"w/c pressure. The grinder will produce a lot of dust very quickly, and fling it around, so you need a lot of air movement past it and into a collector. A 35 gallon galvanized trash can makes a decent collector if you route the air through it in a circular flow and have three or four times the area for exhaust as for inlet. This allows the particles to slow down and drop out of the air stream. The exhaust needs to be filtered so you're not just sending your toxic waste to the neighbor's house. A big canvas bag over the exhaust will work, you just have to keep it clean.

Take a look in tool and woodworking catalogues (like Grizzly, Norther Tool, Rockler, etc), for examples of what a dust collection set-up looks like and work from there. Most of the pieces yo need can be purchased pretty reasonably, except for the blower. The key things are lots of air, adequate filtration, and noise abatement.

Running a belt wet makes it last longer and cut cooler. A simple set-up consists of a paint sprayer nozzle hooked up to a water supply. Some sheet metal shrouds to confine the slurry that wants to fly off the belt and direct it to a waste receptacle where it can settle. An aquarium or garden fountain pump can be made to work in a simple recirculating system, but you need to change basins every time you change grit, to avoid cross-contamination. I ran my belt grinder and stone cutting equipment wet when I had the silversmiths shop. I learned that you can't use just a light mist because the belt loads up with "mud" and doesn't cut cleanly and dies quickly. You need enough water to keep the belt "washed-off." NOTE: My belt grinder and stone cutting wheels were on arbors that ran from remote motors that stayed DRY. A 220v. motor that shorts to the frame can kill you. Use GFCI receptacles and breakers for any equipment that runs wet or near water. Or have someone nearby who can perform CPR. :-)

If you are really concerned about the problem, you can get positive-pressure respirator apparatus. Not cheap at about 250 bucks, but you get to breathe clean air and the beard doesn't matter. Some of them even have humidifiers to keep the air nice and moist. They work well for welding fumes and other situations, with the right filters.
   vicopper - Sunday, 08/17/03 20:45:11 EDT

I should note that you can get a disposable razor for 50 cents that will solve the beard problem, too. Tough on the image, though. (grin)
   vicopper - Sunday, 08/17/03 20:48:26 EDT

I just found this awesome website! I want to ask you guys for some guidance...I need to bite the bullet and buy an anvil, but what I have seen on E-bay sure looks like a rip-off! I have intermediate experience as a blacksmith, and I am located in Texas, near San Antonio. What do you guys recommend?
   Steve H - Sunday, 08/17/03 21:29:54 EDT

Hello Steve,

I would stay away from ebay unless that is exactly what you want and are willing to pay way too much for it. I live in Dallas now, but when I lived in East Texas I would run across good anvils at flea markets and farm auctions regularly. You might also just put out the word that you are looking for one with friends. I had a fellow just give me a farriers anvil last weekend because he heard I could use it. One last thing, if you don't already belong to a local ABANA chapter, join one. You can learn alot in a short period of time and there are always a few people like me that will have an extra anvil or two and not really neeeed it. Good luck.
   Myke - Sunday, 08/17/03 22:02:49 EDT

Anvils are where you find them: This may sound trite but they are all over the place and if you are on a budget good used ones can be had. A lot of folks get all uppity about their anvils being perfect, with sharp corners, flat face and polished to beat the band. . . It doesn't make you a better smith. I've turned out gorgeous work on an old colonial anvil that the face is actually WORN THROUGH and has a big hole worn into the wrought where the face is worn. . . . What is important is that you have a anvil.

eBay and various hardware stores are saturated with junk cast iron anvils. Many are misrepresented as being steel and using all the key phrases used to describe a good tool steel anvil. Avoid them all.

All our advertisers sell good quality NEW anvils if you insist. Euroanvils has the best price per pound.

As Myke pointed out, join your local blacksmithing group. Many of these guys have excess used anvils to sell or trade if you do not have time to do the legwork.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/03 22:28:07 EDT

Dust: Eric, VI pretty much covered it. Like a lot of things an exhust system needs HP to move enough air. Wet is better than mist. Mist systems have their own problems. Yep, a fancy respirator and a beard don't mix. Does about as much good as a hospital mask (nada).

The problem with running wet is you need guards to catch the water flung off the belt and wheels. Most grinders use a recirculating system for the water. About a 15 gallon tank is divided into cells that let the dross settle out. On my surface grinder I added a water filter too.

One thing the wood workers do that cuts down on the system expense is they use PVC pipe and fittings to plumb their exhust systems. Look at where there is dust stuck to surfaces around your grinder and put multiple nozzels in those areas. You should be able to do it so that you still have good access. But everything is a trade off. The most convienient machines are the ones with no guards. . . To be 100% dust proof the entire grinder would need to be enclosed. Or the dust collection system make a noticable breeze in your shop. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/03 22:43:57 EDT

Found an old file card and brush at a rummage sale for $.50 in fair shape. Inset into the handle, held in place by a clip, was an unusual file pick. Soft iron, the pick had a loop handle and instead of the usual pointed pick, this one has a flattened blade with a squared off end.
It works really well! From time to time it needs to be dressed to keep it thin enough to fit in the cuts and keep the end from rounding off too much. Much more effective than a regular pick.
An old smith told me to never clean a file with hardened steel and would have been horrified at the Good Guru's wire brush technique.
There was a mention, a while back, of using the electrolytic rust removel method to sharpen files..anyone ever done this?
The Boggs resharpening co and others ,pickle files in acids to sharpen them and they are sold at reasonable prices. They don't seem to leave quite a clean a finish and appear to me to dull more quickly..but still are a bargain..especially if they are missing a few teeth.

Eric, Some recent research indicates that the minute metal particles that were previously dismissed as unimportant do much more damage to our lungs than previously thought...and metal more than other types of dust....something about forming free radicals that damage the oxy absorbing fine structures of our lungs.
A mask will seal over a beard with vasolene...but...a tight strap, good fit and a wide, soft sealing edge all help. Even a leaky mask is a bit better than nothing.
Having a beard myself, I pull the filter cartridge and mount out of the rubber mask and fit it over a snorkel mouthpiece. Inhale through the mouth, exhale through teh nose. Have used this system for years...it started as a more elaborate set up but I just kept eliminating parts till it got down to this. I have several different kinds of filter setups...and I look awful after an hour or 3, but it is better than nothing..probably.
The good Guru has a very effective system for controling dust...whenever the heavy storms flood out his shop ,he has no dust problem at all...till it dries.

Vicopper; Your postings are just plain excellent, mostly ( grin) and I sure would like to express my thanks!
   - Pete F - Monday, 08/18/03 03:30:28 EDT

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