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This is an archive of posts from August 1 - 7, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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Blueboy: That still isnt clear, so I will try again. For a 90 degree joint: The depth of the fillet from the hypotenuse to the corner where the pieces join is the critical dimension to figure the loaded area. That depth is 1/2 the length of the hypotenuse of the weld fillet. So: A 3/8 fillet weld x .707 =.265" To get 1 square inch of that weld: 1 divided by .265" = 3.77" Using this formula You need 3.77 inches of 3/8 fillet weld to carry 10,000 # in shear. This could be divided in half and put on both sides of a "T" joint.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/01/05 03:25:15 EDT

Gentlesmiths in regard to slash/quarterpein hammerI have a piece of 1045 that I,m going to make a hammer out of but I really don't want to do it by hand and I don't have a jyh built yet and I would really like to have one that is well constructed before I attempt it and I just like to have tools from a wide variety of sources again thanks for everybodys input and I'll probably more ?s as I go thanks Buck
   buck - Monday, 08/01/05 10:41:49 EDT

I worked in a machine shop that had people too lazy to mark the t-1 after working it and threw plates of it in with the regular stuff.....well one day someone tried punching it with a 120 ton pedinghouse ironworker and a one inch punch....man that punch went everywhere at supersonic speeds, no one got hurt but they still find pieces of that punh in the walls now and again, MAKE SURE YOU MARK IT T-1
   dan - Monday, 08/01/05 11:19:15 EDT

to JimG from Buck re;hammer making I'm not a smith yet (big emphasis on yet) I've got along way to go but I'll get there
   buck - Monday, 08/01/05 11:23:35 EDT

Tony. . Whoops. . . been too long, should have looked it up. I tend to formalize things in programs and spread sheets that reused over and over. . . and forget the details unless I am starting from scratch again. Machines making me lazy.
   - guru - Monday, 08/01/05 11:50:19 EDT

fact is that was the most dangerous place I've ever worked. the owners son tipped over a 12foot press brake with the forklift it weighed 30 tons and he wanted to save $500 by not hiring riggers to do the job of bringing it in the building(you want to hear a boom!) they felt the ground shake a quarter mile away....when it tipped it clipped the corner of a 4x8 sheet of one inch plate sitting on some sawhorses it flipped up and over and went through the outside wall 15 feet away! (again noone got hurt but one little guy just jumped out of the way of the press as it went down) I have at least another dozen stories from that place (some not so pretty)
   dan - Monday, 08/01/05 11:51:14 EDT

Re: fillet weld strength-- bear in mind that these tech specs are based on showcase welds done by top-notch pros, with good penetration, no (ahem!) undercut, no overhang, no inclusions. It's all described in infinite, fascinating detail in welding textbooks. One I like is Principles of Arc Welding, or some such, the Lincoln Bible.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/01/05 12:11:55 EDT

I have for some time admired knifes made from railroad spikes, as also shown in I-forge

I have been trying to find similar railroad spikes here in Denmark, so far it has been impossible therefore my question to you is if anyone could tell me where to buy these railroad spikes.

It is the standard railroad spike about 6 inches long that I am talking about.

   Norseman - Monday, 08/01/05 12:45:47 EDT

Options to Welds: In most non-production construction engineers prefer avoiding welds, using pins, bolts and rivets instead. Design analysis is much simplier, beams flex, pins are in shear or tension. In rigid bolted or riveted joints bolt sizes or numbers can be increased. Designers try to avoid force multipliers such as cantelevers and overhung loads.

Welds rely upon the reading of the obscure often non-obvious symbols, skill and performance of the weldor. Pins and bolts are pretty clear cut.
   - guru - Monday, 08/01/05 13:09:05 EDT

RR-Spikes. . : Don't know about Euro RR-spikes. Many railroads use concrete sleepers and the system is different.

In the US you can order small quantities from McMaster-Carr. But you might have better luck from any one of us that have a collection of spikes. Maybe you have something in Demark to trade?
   - guru - Monday, 08/01/05 13:18:23 EDT

Could someone please tell me, Where else can you get such good advise and information from people that actually work in the field ? Thats what I love about this site. Q&A with actual professionals whos " been there and done that". Brought to you for free by CSI members, For less than the .25 cents a day (USD), you too can help support this wonderful site. Volumes of information at your fingertips. Anyone who has been to or sent children to college knows what the cost of knowledge is and it goes up every year. But look what you get for free. Give it some thought and sign up to be a supporter. Go to the store and look at the bottom of the page, Its easy and painless.
   daveb - Monday, 08/01/05 14:37:40 EDT

Norseman: Railroad spikes are often listed on eBay in varying condition. Just go to www.ebay.com and do an Advanced Search on Railroad Spike. Shipping, even at surface/economy parcel post, to Denmark will be fairly expensive though.

By the way, making cross ties is just a goodly part of the business of local small sawmill. The cut off ends are free for the taking and make dandy firewood.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 08/01/05 15:01:17 EDT

Norseman; I'll probably be travelling to Germany in October. If you get a couple of spikes and like them let me know and I can bring a bunch over and mail them from Munich if that would be cheaper.
   Thomas P - Monday, 08/01/05 15:59:05 EDT

We use concrete rail track sleepers in England, much as I suspect you do, as the guru points out. The rails are held are held in place by a clamp that looks like a twisted 'C' shape, it hooks through the rail an mounting points on the concrete sleeper and is held tight by shims. The C shape is around 3/4in thick and around 8 inches long, it could be straightened and used. Otherwise the railways use a very large self tapping screw/bolt into wooden sleepers. They are around 7 inches long and taper down from an inch wide at the top. I know because there's a railway line at the bottom of the garden :)
and it changes from concrete to wood sleepers just down the track. I had a look and will post pics of the junk steel I found (including two short cut off lengths of track, good for an a.s.o.?)if your interested.
PLEASE NOTE.... in many countries including my own it is considered tresspassing and you could be prosecuted by the police. I did NOT touch anything that was not lying in the brush, and I kept a very wary eye out for trains. If you can find a nearby railyard they may be able to find you stuff from the scrap bin without any risk of getting in trouble. I don't advocate going onto the lines or breaking the law, try the rail yards first.
   Tinker - Monday, 08/01/05 16:13:11 EDT

Hello again. I want to say thank you to everyone who has given me help in regards to my hydraulic press. It has not gone unheeded. When i make this thing, i want to make sure that it is safe to use. I value my life highly, plus i don't wnat to leave my family and friends yet. I have really paid attention to the warnings. Thanks for being patient with me as well. I know that i was not always clear in my questions.

Ptree, sorry if i wasn't clear. What i am talking about is welding( or perhaps bolting, in regards to new information) 1/2" x 6" bar( or plate cut to size) between the flanges, directly to the web.

As i've said before, you guys really know your stuff. You have been, very, very helpful to me. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for all the fantastic help. I now plan to start putting it to use, and may be back if i have more questions or concerns.

Thanks so much!
Ian "Blueboy" Wille
   - Ian "Blueboy" Wille - Monday, 08/01/05 17:36:56 EDT

The better spikes for knives are the high carbon ones, and are usually stamped HC on the head.
Used spikes often have wear just under the head that cuts into the shank. Wear in this area often makes it hard to use the spike, so look for new if they can be found. A spike knife does not get really hard as the carbon is not really "high" but in the .4% area I think.
I too like to make things from spikes. If drawn out well they also make neat trowels for the garden and coat hangers.
Good luck.
   ptree - Monday, 08/01/05 18:41:41 EDT

Did my first oxy-acetylene weld today. If mice could crap steel that is about what it would look like. The local community college has an evening course. I think they will get my $100.
   JLW - Monday, 08/01/05 19:06:40 EDT

Blueboy- what you are talking about doing to the channel is what old hot rodders called "boxing the frame". This was common practice on 30's and 40's american cars- to weld plate onto the channel that made up the frame, stiffening it up. And it does make the channel stiffer. But it would be better to just use the right size channel in the first place.
I built a big H frame hydraulic press, and what I did was got myself a free copy of the Enerpac catalog, (www.enerpac.com) which is kind of the cadillac of hydraulic equipment suppliers, and I just copied their hydraulic presses- which meant using 12" channel, in my case, so my press can accomodate a 50 ton cylinder. It cost me a couple of hundred bucks to get the channel precut to length by my local steelyard, but I know the thing is overbuilt, as Enerpac has to build for the gorilla at the local fab shop. They list the dimensions of their VLP series presses, from 10 tons up to 100 tons, and they have already had engineers go over the designs and sign off on them. So if you copy them accurately, you will have a strong, tried and true design.
   - Ries - Monday, 08/01/05 19:34:44 EDT

* Mouse poop welds, the cure-- get it hotter than you imagine anything could ever possibly be, get the rod in close, take your time, and REALLY look through the razzle dazzle and fireworks to see what is going on down there in the puddle.
* Spikes-- they also make the cutest ittle claw hammers oo ever did see. Welded together end to end and then hafted they make simply adorable two-headed hammers, too. And, yes, alas, people actually buy such freaks.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/01/05 20:35:23 EDT

If anyone would care to author a book on "101 Things to Make from a Railroad Spike" I would be interested in being the publisher. I get several requests a year for such a book so I suspect a small market is out there.
   Ken Scharabok, Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools - Monday, 08/01/05 21:09:14 EDT

Enerpac Press : I will second Ries's opinion on that brand, If You copy a "Dake" You will be in good shape allso. Copying any of the bargan bottlejack presses will give You a light duty press.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/01/05 21:31:28 EDT

Miles: Guru's formula neglects penetration & increasd throat from proper joint prep and 10,000 PSI is about 25 to 30%of the yeild point of the parent metal. Figure out a few,with this formula You end up with massive welds. Just right for back yard fabricators like most of us.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/01/05 21:45:32 EDT

Blueboy: Adding the plate to the web doesn't give a lot of strength for the ammount of material You are adding. Boxing the channel [welding a plate to close the open side] as done on hotrod frames adds a lot of torsional rigidity and would be slightly better than scabbing the web, but still a poor bang for the buck. The top & bottom flanges carry most of the load.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/01/05 21:57:58 EDT

Jock, no sweat. And they are very closely related by that little thing called "distance to neutral axis". grin.

   - Tony - Monday, 08/01/05 22:39:28 EDT

Being a Smith,
Are you sure your not a 'smith' (Big grin) Being a smith is more about the attitude than the experience or equipment. We are all rookies at this craft, some have just been rookies longer. I don't think there is anyone here who thinks they don't have anything left to learn.
   JimG - Monday, 08/01/05 22:51:47 EDT

Dave-- What I had in mind were safe allowable loads of like 2,400 pounds per lineal inch of quarter-inch fillet weld in shear, or 3,000 per running inch of 5/16, etc. as stated in the Lincoln book. These are with picture book welds, no?
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/01/05 22:52:35 EDT

Miles: Jock's formula workes out to is 2,210# per running inch of 5/16 fillet, or 74% of what the picturebook welds should be loaded at. Sounds about right for Me.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/01/05 23:05:20 EDT

Whatever feels good.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/01/05 23:15:47 EDT

Look, all's I am saying, as we used to say back in Balmer County, Merlin, is, what happens in real life may turn out to be quite different from what it says in the book, or on paper, and what happens in real life may turn out to be not something you'd want to hang 2,400 pounds from an inch of and then stand under, necessarily.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/01/05 23:28:13 EDT

Hey Buck,

You might check if Bill Epps is still around. www.besmithy.com

From an earlier post on Anvilfire... Bill's famous diagonal pien hammers are custom made and hand polished. Although he is selling right and left hand hammers both can be used right handed.
The advantage of a diagonal pien hammer is that it puts the pien at a right angle to the work while working in a comfortable position. When a right handed person uses a left handed diaglon pien hammer it makes it easier to use the pien parallel to the work. So, the truth is they are not really right or left handed. It just depends on what you need the hammer for. A pair is a great way to go!

   - sriver - Tuesday, 08/02/05 00:45:13 EDT

Miles: I don't think we are far apart on this issue, I don't engineer welds when I fix or build something. I follow the "If in doubt, make it stout" rule. You can charge what a job is worth the first time, but if it comes back broken they are gonna want You to fix it for free, OR WORSE. I try to get joints up to the strength of the members being joined, but there are cases where that is gross overkill. It is hard to calculate for the loads that aren't supposed to happen in the first place, when the shit hits the fan, something has to give. When You did Your part and are lucky as well it isn't the part You worked on that fails.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/02/05 03:23:32 EDT

   marc - Tuesday, 08/02/05 03:32:42 EDT

marc: Yup, this one. Find the pull down bar on the upper right side of the screen, it should say "NAVIGATE anvilfire". Scroll through the list in there until you get to "iForge - How-to" and that has step by step for alot of projects. Also most of the smithing books have step by step projects too, though I haven't seen roses in any books that I've read, just online.
   AwP - Tuesday, 08/02/05 04:54:17 EDT

Hi there. I am a metallurgy student at a south african university. Love your site. Was wondering if someone can help me out. I purchased some EN24 (or 817M40 or 4340) rods and hot rolled it to 6mm plates. The plates will be used in a wear resistance test as reference material. I use a ASTM specified wear test and this test specifies the use of 4340 for a reference material. The test also specifies a heat treatment that makes no sense. The ASTM test says to normalize the steel to a hardness of 31-33 HRC. If you normalize the steel it is way too hard, so I decided to quench and temper. Can you maybe help me with hardening and temper temperatures/times? Which quenchant should I use? Should I normalize before I harden and quench? (The samples are 30mm X 80mm X 6mm).
Thank you very much.
   vlok - Tuesday, 08/02/05 06:30:05 EDT


My Jorgensen Stock List book lists the typical analysis for their 4340: C .38/.43; Mn .60/.80; Si .15/.35; Cr .70/.90; Ni 1.65/2.00; Mo .20/.30. Just so's we're talking about the same stuff.

Heat treatments are listed as follows:
Forging - Heat to 2200-2300F
Normalizing - Heat to 1600-1700F. Cool in air. Average Brinell Hardness 363
Annealing - Heat to 1500-1600F. Cool slowly in furnace. Average Brinell Hardness 197
Hardening - Standard hardening range is between 1475-1575F. Quench in oil.
Tempering - A wide range of mechanical properties can be obtained by tempering between 400F and 1200F.

The stock list does not list holding times or exact sequences and procedures to follow.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/02/05 09:46:02 EDT

Didn't this fillet weld stress allowance question arise here in the first place because somebody was/is building something that might be hurtful if it comes unglued? A press frame or something? No? Forgetful me, tsk tsk, as Little Orphan Annie would say. Or was that Sandy? No, wait, it's coming back-- he always said, "Arf!" Okay, then, "Arf!" it is, and with an exclam!
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 08/02/05 10:15:33 EDT

Busy Week: I spent last weekend at the Power Hammer School with Uri Hofi instructing. It was a great experiance for everyone involved. This week they are filming a how-to video that will knock your socks off when it becomes available in about a month. Will have an interview with the Master and articles about this and next weekend's Power Hammer Schools.

Needless to say, spending the week out of the office has left many things undone. Thanks to all my helpers that have kept things moving here.

   - guru - Tuesday, 08/02/05 10:18:13 EDT

I am having a tough time welding a moulded top rail together. The alloy that i was told to be is c79800. Also I need to weld that to mild steel. It seems that the filler metal floats to much. Is there a welding rod that can be used or even a tig rod HELP PLEASE!!!!!!!
   tooles - Tuesday, 08/02/05 10:42:05 EDT

At one of the FABA meetings, a fellow split the spike, drew out the steel, curled up, and made a sling-shot out of a RR Spike...
   Monica - Tuesday, 08/02/05 11:14:29 EDT

I am having a tough time welding a moulded top rail together. The alloy that i was told to be is c79800. Also I need to weld that to mild steel. It seems that the filler metal floats to much. Is there a welding rod that can be used or even a tig rod HELP PLEASE!!!!!!!
   tooles - Tuesday, 08/02/05 11:50:29 EDT

Welding C798- Are you sure it is C798? cause I cant find a reference to that alloy, and I have a pretty good library of that kind of stuff. But if it is C798, that is some kind of Nickel Silver, most likely. The high 700 series alloys are usually a copper, zinc, nickel alloy, but many have lead in them for ease of machinability, which, of course, makes them near impossible to weld. And I have never heard of anyone making cap rail from nickel silver. JG Braun, for example makes theirs from C385, which is architectural bronze, also quite hard to weld, as it has both zinc and lead in it. Hell to forge, too.

If it is a commercial cap rail, like C385, it is tig weldable, or weldable with a gas torch.
Color match is tricky. You might check with the Nomma website- www.nomma.org as they have published articles about this very thing. I believe the pros may silver solder it with an oxy-fuel set, and often use the same material for filler, but even then the zinc and lead will melt off and change the alloy as you weld or solder.

To join a bronze alloy like this to mild steel, you are pretty much limited to Tig brazing, with a silicon bronze alloy. This will work fine, and make a good strong bond, but obviously there wont be a color match, as you are using 3 different metals.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 08/02/05 12:22:00 EDT

As I live in a subdivision and do my smithing in a shop behind my house, is there any ways to make my shop more soundproof and to keep the neighbors from worrying/complaining about coal smoke.

The Booger man
   Booger man - Tuesday, 08/02/05 13:26:07 EDT

Also I forgot to put this into my last question, but does anyone know anywhere to get railroad spikes. I can't say that I have looked for them that much but I am wondering If looking at a junk yard would be the best place?
   Booger man - Tuesday, 08/02/05 13:52:11 EDT


C79800 is a nickel silver whose composition is copper, nickel, and zinc. I have soft soldered it. However, Oppi Untracht* says nickel alloys can be welded or brazed to mild steel, but you need the proper flux. Perhaps he is talking about "braze welding" using a proprietary brazing rod as a filler rod; it melts at about 1600F. I heat the rod and use it dipped in borax. However, you can buy fluxes already made up at the welding supply.

Braze welding is where you're employing a torch to "lay a bead" feeding with the brass rod as you would a steel welding rod, if you were welding. It differs from brazing per say, the latter being the hard soldering of two close fitting parts and allowing the molten solder to run between the parts by capillary action.

* "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen"

Booger man, I have a bucketful of railroad spikes that I will sell for 75 each, plus shipping on top of that.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/02/05 14:53:30 EDT

I might buy the spikes Frank, but about how many of them are there, and I was also wondering how much you thought the S&H might be since I have no idea.
   Booger man - Tuesday, 08/02/05 14:57:25 EDT

Booger man: If neighbors complain about the coal smoke, you could always do charcoal or propane.
   AwP - Tuesday, 08/02/05 15:38:35 EDT

Boo; I know where Frank is but shipping is hard to calculate without knowing where you are at, a zip code is what is usually needed.

Now on forging in suburbia: 1 Smoke: go with a propane forge, no smoke and if anyone complains ask that they remove all propane grills in the neighborhood. (I mounted my gasser on a discarded propane grill cart

2 Sound: find a Fisher or Vulcan anvil and don't make the sound in the first place Most sound absorbing materials don't do well around fire so not making it in the first place helps. However shrubs, trees, etc are natural sound attenuators so plant a sound break around the shop!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/02/05 15:38:59 EDT

Booger man,

I counted 82, about 1/3 unused 6 5/8" long; about 1/3 used 5" long; and the rest a mixed bag. All in various states of surface rust. All of them weigh approximately 75# on my bathroom scale. I need a destination to calculate a UPS cost. I'll probably need to wooden crate them, and that will add to the 75#.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/02/05 16:06:26 EDT

Booger man: You might also consider using coke as most of the impurities have already been burned off.

Likely one of the best things you can do is to make your neighbors a small hand-forged item from time to time.
   Ken Scharabok, Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools - Tuesday, 08/02/05 17:01:10 EDT

Frank Turkey: If it is a 5-gallon bucket they are in, can you just put on a lid, tape it down and ship that way?
   Ken Scharabok, Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools - Tuesday, 08/02/05 17:02:15 EDT

Reis, Dave Boyer and Ian Wille,
On Enerpac, I agree that the machanical features of the catalog Enerpac presses are quite nice. Had a 40 ton in my lab for about 15 years or so. It had heavy rectangle bars for the uprights with holes for substantial pins. Big enough platen to need its own hydraulic lift to raise and lower. As a hand pump arbor press very nice.
On Enerpac hydraulics. I like them ok for hand pumped low duty cycle systems. NOT for a forging press. The electrical Enerpacs are not what I found to be production rated at my old job. Had 6 of them and all were not up to hard use in a continous use environment.

A little aside for those who consider 10,000 psi for work around hot metal. Most fluids display a increase in viscosity with increased pressure. Standard hydraulic fluid approaches jello viscosity or stiffer at 10,000 psi. There are two fluids accepted for hydrostatic testing by both API, and MSS. These are water and kerosene. Water has no viscosity increase with pressure and kerosene has a little. The oil used in Enerpacs smells of kerosene,and seems to have the same viscosity as kerosene.
As I remember the MSDS reflected hydrocarbons that would be in the Kerosene area. I personally would not want a 10,000 psi system that used a light hydrocarbon fluid for a forging press. These things tend to develope leaks in direct proportion to the pressure they are operated at.

If a hydrocarbon 10,000 psi system is desired, with an electrically driven pump and solenoid valves I would choose a Dynex Rivet pump and Rexroth, press division valves. These gave me excellent service in these systems.

For pressures above 10,000psi, I always used Sprague air driven pumps. These are low flow, but pretty bullet proof up to 30,000 psi. I have never seen any cylinders or solenoid valves for this pressure, and would reccomend avoiding pressures above 5000 psi for any hydraulic systems that are to be used in continous duty. For home built, 3000 psi is a range the is cheap to aquire the components, easy to plumb and obtain hoses for.
The above, based on 21 years of experience, is brought to you by CSI, free. Join and support this fine site.
   ptree - Tuesday, 08/02/05 17:34:22 EDT

Boogerman: Everytime I cross a railroad track, I try to pull over and walk about ten yards up and down the track each way. I get a couple of spikes every time, sometimes as many as a dozen, as well as some clamp thingies that are bars about an inch thick and bent in a squiggle shape. Annoys my wife but I have never been stopped or questioned by authorities.
   JLW - Tuesday, 08/02/05 17:35:47 EDT

RR scrap. Just a caution - even though it rarely happens, RR companies are prone to be *very* hardnosed about people taking their property even for petty items. Not that I dont pick up scrap from the tracks. OTH I have walked into RR yards and asked for scrap and have always had a helpful response.
   adam - Tuesday, 08/02/05 17:53:10 EDT

RR scrap i scavenge the RR tracks all the time my wife said your gonna git cought jus u waite an c why is she allways a pickin on me. but i have never had any problems with the railroad officials they have always tried to help me if they could. i have several rr spikes and other metal scraps including a nice piece of rail 3 ft. long. they tell me if i find any coal scattered along the track that i can salvage that. i am lucky that i live close to two rail lines and both have small siding yards close by with lots of scrap but i try to be realistic and not ask for too much at one time. i have my eye on a nice piece of iron that will make a good anvil for a jyh at one of the sidings sure hope i can get it without making waves. ron60 at the vein mountain forge works.
   - ron60 - Tuesday, 08/02/05 18:51:59 EDT

Vlok, normalize and TEMPER it to 31-33. Yep, highly hardenable steels do form some martensite during normalizing and can be tempered a bit. The problem with Q&T'd structure is that it has a totally different microstructure and will have different wear characteristics.Try normalizing at 870 Celcius (that one is for you, Grant!)and cool in still air. I cannot give you a tempering temperature so you need to do some experiments. I would start at about 600C for 1/2 hr.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/02/05 19:33:08 EDT

Frank I'm not sure I'm going to buy them just yet, but I will e-mail you if I am. Because I live in a place that has at least two train tracks going through town (I live in KY and there used to be a lot of coal mining going on) so I may not buy them. Also thanks to everyone that helped to answer my questions.
   Booger man - Tuesday, 08/02/05 21:25:09 EDT

Ptree & Blueboy: We were suggesting that the Enerpack FRAME be copied as a suitably built frame. I am in total agreement as to the advantages of 3000 PSI hydraulic. the 10,000 PSI as I understood it was the design load of the steel components of the frame. At the plant we only used high pressure for the cilinders on the rivet yokes as size was an issue. Ptree: Your experience in these matters is well respected.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/02/05 23:35:06 EDT

I recently brought a caliper that is marked "M & K Boker". It appears to me to be a hand wrought pair and is very attractive. Is there anyway I can find any information about this maker. I brought them in outstate Missouri, but do not know if the Bokers were from Missouri.
   Art Tischer - Wednesday, 08/03/05 00:26:04 EDT

I want to know how corrosion affects the South african environment and industry finacially and technically
   senzo - Wednesday, 08/03/05 06:17:52 EDT

Senze: Sure sounds like a homework question. Sorry, we don't answer those.

Art Tischer: Likely it says H & K Boker. They are a German frim making cutlery, among other edged items. At one time H. Boker was in the U.S. and, as the broker for a company in Trenton, imported anvils from Germany under the name of Trenton. Later he became associated with the Columbus Forge and Iron Company and was apparently instrumental in their naming their anvil brand Trenton also. See Anvils in America by Richard Postman - available through the forum store.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/03/05 07:08:04 EDT

Speaking of RR spikes. Check out http://tinyurl.com/cjsfo

This is Dave Mudge's collection of projects made with RR spikes.

And on shipping - On another forum, Ray Clontz (ptpiddler) let a few of us unwary folks on a USPS service.
"You could take advantage of the Post Office "FLAT RATE BOX" before they stop it. There are 2 size "FLAT RATE BOXES" free from the post office. In either box---you can ship up to 70 pounds anywhere in the country for $7.70."

He used it to get spikes off of eBay.


   - Marc - Wednesday, 08/03/05 07:18:07 EDT

Tresspassing: All railroad rights of way are private property and rail roads often prosecute those that tresspass. The reasons they are sensitive to tresspass are numerous and include people who get killed when struck by trains as well as theft. Today they should be hyper alert to sabotage. Have a pocket full of spikes? You may CLAIM they were loose and lying on the ground but can you prove it? In the current political climate in the US I would not want to have to explain this under interogation at Getmo.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/03/05 08:45:32 EDT

USPS Flat Rate Boxes: A friend of ours has proved the maximum rating for these boxes is a joke. The small ones ARE big enough to hold over 70 pounds of steel in pieces (not just a solid slab). However, the boxes are not up to the task and fall apart under near capacity use. To ship at near capacity plan on making a stout wooden box to fit INSIDE the Flat Rate box.

I suspect this ridiculous rating was set by some bureaucrat that believed the absurd box manufacturer rating. 175 PSI! I do not know how these ratings are determined but a 1" square 175 pound bar lowered gently will punch clean hole in the corrogated board these boxes are made of if the back side is not supported. Forget dynamic loads like the box being dropped into a large sack. . . or pointy items!
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/03/05 09:04:15 EDT


Boker was in the US in business from 1837-1969. In the early years, they imported their tools from Germany: bits, braces, divider, knives, wood planes. In 1899, they acquired Valley Forge Cutlery, so some of their work was marked under that name, but they continued to mark some tools as Boker.

ref: "Directory of American Toolmakers"
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/03/05 09:08:25 EDT

Flat rate boxes--the PO also has free tape(priority printed
on it) I wrap the boxes I mail out with many-many layers of this tape-have not had any problems and I totally fill them with iron.
   - ptpiddler - Wednesday, 08/03/05 09:44:21 EDT

question on reducing O/A flame: not clear on how to "tune" to a non oxidizing O/A flame using a welding tip. i plan on brazing a cast iron crack. any comments appreciated. i do have experience with O/A welding/brazing; i should be able to understand. i am blue, BTW...
   - rugg - Wednesday, 08/03/05 10:03:54 EDT

Recently I heard of an informal Blacksmithing group in Northern California/Southern Oregon called the Jefferson Smiths.
Does anyone have any contact information for this group???
   Tim - Wednesday, 08/03/05 10:54:06 EDT

70 lb rating for boxes:

This has nothing at all to do with the strength of the material or the design of the container. It has only to do with personnel regulations. 70 lbs is the maximum that the employees are allowed to lift.

I suspect that the flat rate boxes are designed to accommodate maximum density packing on standard pallet sizes, rather than any particular weight allowance or content design. The more articles you can cram into a given amount of cubic footage affects your bottom line shipping cost. Properly designed shapes stack into compact cubes, while poorly designed ones leave a lot of air space.


when the little light blue cone at the center of the flame is stretched out to three inches or so long, you are into a reducing condition right at the end of that cone. If you add more acetylene, you will get into a yellow flame, which is very reducing. You don't want or need to be *that* reducing, as you just introduce soot into the joint.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/03/05 10:58:06 EDT

I have had some friends hassled by the RR police since 9-11. If you want a shocker dig into what powers they have and have had since the early 1900's! The robber barons were intent on protecting their swag...So if you can't be good; be *careful* and I am always happy to provide free storage for anvils, tools, triphammer's etc while you are not being held somewhwere on no charges for an indeterminate time...


   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/03/05 10:59:41 EDT

Contact Mike -Hr @ mikecindyjon@peoplepc.com He is a member and will know who you should contact. I know that they are a very active and good group.They host a Hammer-in every Feb in Weaverville CA. AS well as one near Klamath Falls ( Henley Farm hammer -in Both are well worth going to if you can.

   Ralph - Wednesday, 08/03/05 11:05:29 EDT

Tim, another contact Bill Bradford
Rod Plew
   Ralph - Wednesday, 08/03/05 11:06:33 EDT

Hey everyone I have been reading htis weebsite for quite some time now and I am sure someone has asked and answered this question already but I can't seem to find it. I want to get my hands on a decent vise for blacksmithing. However it seems that all the new vises are prohitively expensive, at least those that are in the leg vise style. One from vaugh is around $1100 and thats far too much for me. I was wondering if anyone can recomend someplace to get an good leg post vise for not to much? How about table vises, I found a good Morgan Milwaukee #45 bench vise thats about 76lbs would that work? Thanks one and all!
   - Need A Grip - Wednesday, 08/03/05 11:46:22 EDT

rugg-- Be SURE you carefully pre-heat-- using an oven to get overall temp the same would be good-- the entire cast iron piece you are attempting to braze or the O/A flame will just make the crack spread. Drilling a hole at the end of the crack can help prevent that, too.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 08/03/05 12:03:09 EDT

rugg-- also, be SURE to let the piece cool down slowly, ideally covered in a box of ashes, afterward, or the heat-affected zone next to the brazed crack area will be brittle.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 08/03/05 12:05:23 EDT

Need A Grip: Try eBay for leg/post vises. At the moment I suspect there are about eight or so listed. Try searching under leg vise and post vise. Old rule of thumb was one in good shape was worth $10 a jaw inch width. However, now it seems more like $20 and up. Usually the larger the vise, the more per inch they run. As with any eBay purchase, watch out for the S&H charges. Also, they are usually plentiful at blacksmithing conferences tail gate sales areas. However, it does seem at Quad-State like it alternates between feast and famine - same with anvils.

On the priority mail boxes, I use them on a regular basis with few problems. It has to be recognized they are designed to be easily opened. so the end edges aren't as strong as the rest of the box. I pack well with wadded up newspaper and then use nylon reinforced shipping tape in all directions. I have a buyer in HI who has purchased in bulk enough to test the upper weight limit. Boxes arrived in good condition. His cost was $7.70 postage (received within a week) vs about $60 if they had gone parcel post (with likely 4-6 weeks delivery). In some cases it is a lot cheaper for the buyer for me to ship in multiple priority mail flat rate boxes than in a single package.

I LOVE these boxes. One size is 5.5" x 8.5" x 11" and the other is 3.5" x 12" x 14". You can get them delivered to you free by requesting them at www.usps.com.

In many cases, particularly to West Coast, AK & HI, after a couple of pounds whatever else fits in the box is essentially S&H free.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/03/05 12:14:54 EDT

I have a friend that came over to my forge with an issue. He had iron pipe in bronze fittings that he wanted removed. The pipe is scrap, but he wants to get the bronze off undamaged. The boat that it came off of was Pre World War 1, manufactured in Norway, and he is going to want to re-use the part in a boat he's making. He's wanting to heat the mess, believing that the bronze will swell with heating faster than the iron.

Does anyone have advice on how to do this without damage to the bronze?
   Monica - Wednesday, 08/03/05 12:47:44 EDT

I have purchased an anvil off eBay (6198322879) out of curiosity. My guess is it is a Fisher on which the top plate (including over the horn) has come off. Anyone have a better WAG?
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/03/05 13:03:21 EDT

Monica, I'd have to see the part, but I'm thinking electrolysis. After removing most of the iron with saws, chisels, and so on, of course. There may be a mild acid that would work as well. I know of one instance in which a bronze-mounted cavalry saber was tossed in an outhouse pit around 1863 or so. When it was recovered in 1995 the bronze was in perfect shape, the iron was totally gone. Of course, your friend probably doesn't want to wait 130 years or so...
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 08/03/05 13:24:11 EDT

I was hoping to avoid ebay in my search for a post vise. I just have trouble trusting anyone on ebay anymore after getting cheated a couple of times. I have been looking around auctions but no luck though one comping up in a couple of months should yield something interesting since they say they are selling some vintage blacksmithing equipment. *crosses fingers for heavy anvil and post vise* If I do go through the ebay route can anyone recomend some guidlines of what to look out for/what to look for in a post vise? (i.e. rust in certain places, making sure there is a picture with its jaws open and closed etc)
   - Need A Grip - Wednesday, 08/03/05 13:29:27 EDT


The coefficients of thermal expansion aren't that different betweent he bronze and the iron, so the only benefit from heating is going to be that the bronze will conduct heat faster than the iron. Heat applied to the bronze may expand it some before the heat is transferred to the iron, loosening the joint a little.

Rust molecules are much bigger than iron molecules, so that jointis going to be really frozen up just from that. Any electrolysis will have affected the bronzem ore than the iron, I would think. That said, I think that electrolytic rust removal, using sodium carbonate and water, might be a good thing to try. It won't be quick; might take a couple of days. I would try it, then apply some heating and cooling cycles, then drench it with B'Laster and wait a few more days. Repeat if necessary.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/03/05 13:55:40 EDT

Get a Grip,

Sometimes, more leg vises are listed under "Blacksmith Vise" than "leg/post vise". Get one with 5" jaws or larger, if you're serious. See if the photo shows the threads. Many of them are square threads, sometimes Acme, but if they're worn down to a triangular section (like a pitched roof), forget it. Many times the spring, bracket, U-shackle, key & wedge are missing; one part, some parts, or all parts. If you're a smith, you can make them. The prettyist vises, I think, are Peter Wright, with lathe turnings on screw ball and box, and the box is always solid. Some boxes are short and have a hole in the end, especially later Columbians; they aren't so nice looking. And no matter what you're buying on eBay, if the images shown are dark and fuzzy, don't bid.
You can e-mail me for my opinions, if you wish. List the eBay number, not the entire URL. I've had many leg vises go through my hands, and I have eight of them at my school.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/03/05 13:55:45 EDT

I wish the blank square at the top of the Anvilfire web page had something in it. Its like a an obituary waiting to happen.
   - Mani - Wednesday, 08/03/05 14:30:51 EDT

I just want to say thnak you for all the answer about RR spikes for knifemaking - I have ordered som from McMasre - Carr anf founfd some on E-bay. Now I just have to wait - not one of my stong sides - but looking forward to work on them spikes.
Thanks again.
   Norseman - Wednesday, 08/03/05 15:00:58 EDT

OK, another question. I've just been handed a STOUT workbench, and am planning on mounting my legvise to it. However, it's about 1.5 inches too tall. Now, he recommended a chunk of lead (just cause I have a 2" piece, but this in an exposed (carpool) location does not give me environmental warm fuzzies. I do have a 2 inch thick slab of hard rubber (this thing will take threads) of the type used to mount heavy machinery for noise reduction. Can anyone give me reason that this dense rubber would be bad to have the leg supported on? Should the mounting point to the ground be rigid, or does it not matter that much?
   Monica - Wednesday, 08/03/05 15:41:27 EDT

Need A Grip: Before bidding on anything on eBay take a look at the seller's feedback. If they have a good bit of it, and in glowing terms, likely you won't get cheated. Also look for negative feedback to see what their response to it was. Heck, I have six negatives myself. Of course, make sure you understand what actual S&H will be before bidding. Leg vises are difficult to ship due to size, odd-shape and weight. If you ask the seller a question, such as for additional information or images, and they do not respond, don't bid.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/03/05 16:13:54 EDT

I take it the BENCH is too tall. The leg of a leg vise should be solidly attached to the ground. The reason for the leg is to transfer the shock from the vise to the ground. A block of steel with a hole the size of the bottom of the leg, attached to the ground should do the trick.
   - Wayne P - Wednesday, 08/03/05 16:26:30 EDT

Ken I would guess it was a vulcan that someone "cleaned up" to doorstophood.

Need A Grip: most bench vises are not made for impact loads like smithing generates---even some very large and heavy ones will just break up on you. A post vise is the way to go. So far I have bought about 20 of them pretty cheaply and all in using condition about 1500 miles thataway I would highly recommend you look there. I only moved a subset of the stash---gave away some of them to the folks who helped me load the shop; then ended up buying two large ones here (6"+) for $75 a piece---the most I have ever paid for one! I would ask around the local blacksmith group meeting to find out where you can find them locally since you are not willing to tell us which continent you live on.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/03/05 16:36:24 EDT

Dave Boyer, I meant in my post yesterday to also agree with you that Dake makes a very good production press. I also have heard good things about Greenerd presses.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/05 16:39:36 EDT

I just bought a 4" post vice complete, in working order, for $20 at a junk/antique dealer in Salem In. last Friday. In this part of the world they are out there, you just have to get into the hinterlands and look.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/05 16:47:05 EDT

Wayne, yes, sorry I should have been more specific. the bench is too tall.
   Monica - Wednesday, 08/03/05 17:14:18 EDT

I understood the leg was to transfer the shock away from the jaws, into the ground. I just didn't know what effect, if any, having what is essentially a dense shock absorber at the end of the leg would do. While not as optimum as haveing the leg directly to the ground, I didn't know if it would hurt.
   Monica - Wednesday, 08/03/05 17:17:23 EDT

Blank Square: Had a bug in the home page code that killed the random images. . . This file ocassionaly becomes corrupted and must be renewed.

If there are any blank (white) spaces on this page then you have a loading error and may need to clear your cache and come back.

   - guru - Wednesday, 08/03/05 18:03:50 EDT

Monica-- I'm with vicopper on the B'laster (available at your NAPA carparts boutique) solution to the problem of unsticking the bronze from the pipe. I have brought back to working life frozen tools, from pliers to vises, even stuff that looked as if it were encased in coral with that magic product. It takes days, maybe weeks, sometimes. On the leg vise question, a big washer made out of heavy plate with a hole in it a smidge smaller than the foot of the leg works fine for me as a spacer/shock absorber.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 08/03/05 18:25:34 EDT

Monica, When benches were wood there was a post burried in the ground to the proper height for the vise to stand on. Taller folks such as yourself may need the vise higher than what was considered "standard". For detail work while standing you may want the vise even higher. However, for the most common blacksmithing work the standard 30-33" is best. In your case I would use a steel block with a hole drilled in it for the peg on the leg. I have welded a large nut (for the hole) to a plate that was the right height in order to support the leg and keep it from moving side to side.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/03/05 18:32:48 EDT

Leg vise: L-shaped plate with a 1/2" slice off of a piece of pipe of the proper size welded onto the foot of the L-plate. Put the leg into the pipe slice. Bolt the plate to the bench, let it rest on the floor. Works for me.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 08/03/05 19:32:44 EDT


No doubt I'm stating the obvious, but have you checked that the bracket is as high on the vise as it goes? Adjusting the bracket would sure be easier than shimming under the leg.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 08/03/05 20:26:37 EDT

Monica, As I have a nicely stout, built in an old fashioned boiler shop bench, I was able to weld a short bit of pipe to the bench leg for my post vise. Mine is a bit different as my Grandfather made this vise as an apprentice. The end of the leg does not have the upset bulge. I tapered the bit of pipe to hold the tepered leg. Works for me.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/05 21:04:39 EDT

Been trying B'laster on rusted stuck heavy(very heavy) forged C-clamps. Been soaking for a few weeks, with a little heat from time to time. Have got more than half in good working order.
For reference, these were in a wet enviroment for years, and the screws are in the 3/4" to 1" thread, with a 6" C-clamp weighing maybe 25#. Far too good a tool to let the rust have.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/05 21:20:04 EDT

Ptree : I am not familiar with the Dake production press, but with a 50 ton hand pumped model about 4' wide. Altho both the ones I have used could have used a hydraulic rebuild, they were well built. The platten was moved up & down with a cable winch, and the ram had a coarse adjustment screw with plenty of travel, and could move off center to acomadate aquward work. We had Hanifin power driven presses at the last place, they had no teasing valves or way to regulate presssure - 50 tons instantly when You pressed the buttons, trickey to work with at times.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 08/03/05 23:03:06 EDT

I hope OSHA and the Product Safety Commission never learn of B'laster, which I discovered years ago and told Paw Paw about, and he, as I do, came to enthuse about it. Otherwise, as they have with creosote, the feds will surely ban it. We ought to give it a code name for their scans. "Oxidoff?"
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 08/03/05 23:43:54 EDT

I'm in need of info on the recommended material for the screen portion of fireplace doors??? Also paint prep & finish. this is my 1st commissioned fplace & i've got to get it right. (it's a large firebox opening approx. 6' X 4' / commerical location with lots of use and abuse expected / needs to be very stout / the design calls for clean- simple detailing so there will be more than average span between support ?? /this is for a "back to back" masonry fireplace with the exterior box completly exposed to the sun & rain .i'll be in your debt for some advice here. thank you, todd t.
   Todd - Thursday, 08/04/05 00:58:34 EDT

Yet another post about: "Propane forge welding woes"

I'll preface by saying that I've done a number of faggot welds, and a few other miscellanoues style welds with 3/8" stock.

The past couple of days I've been trying to get a weld to stick on some 3/4" round stock assumed to be cold roll. The basic idea is to weld a ring for a door knocker. I tried winging it 3 times, changing to new stock each time, and varying the scarf technique. I tried a simple faggot, and a couple of the style where I hammer the end back towards myself to get a kind of rounded 45 degree domed slope on each end. I had no luck getting the least stick with any of these techniques.

At this point I did a post-mortem of the failed welds and noticed a deep layer of what looked like soot. It wasn't a deep scale. I then switched out my orifice to run leaner, thinking that I was running in too reducing of an atmosphere. This wasn't the case, as the next three attempts produced the same sootiness at the scarf.

I then thought that maybe forging the scarves, and doing the initial shaping of the ring built up the layer, so I belt sanded down to bare metal right before I took the heats to stick the weld. Still no luck.

I then did some experiments. I tried doing only a light fluxing at a red, then moderate flux at orange, then moderate flux at orange, with another douse once the metal reached a light welding heat. Then another where I just fluxed the snot out of it the whole time. At the end of each welding heat I immediately quenched the piece so that I could examine the scarf. At no point, except maybe the last one where I added extreme amounts of flux, did I see the metal in a condition in which I thought the weld would stick.

As a last ditch effore I tried a faggot weld on an entirely different piece of stock, 3/4" square bar. Not the least amount of stick.

I'm using a year old box of borax. Could the borax have gone bad in some way? Does quencing the metal introduce a scale that would not have been there had I done a weld, causing my observations to be invalid? I smack the metal hard on the side of the anvil to throw the flux out before I try to stick the weld. Would this be causing some issue? It could be that the thicker stock takes longer to heat the core to welding heat, but I left it in for what felt like a long time.

I'm running out of permutations. Any ideas?
   - Tom T - Thursday, 08/04/05 02:14:27 EDT

Dear Mr.Guru
I have a 500 wieght hammer and am not sure on the speed that it sould run at.I have heard conflicting info from all my fellow blacksmith friends. The hammer has no markings eccept "LH 5". If you may please help! I can send a picture.
Much thanks Luke
   luke atkison - Thursday, 08/04/05 03:23:54 EDT


I don't think the age of the borax should have any effect. Pretty stable stuff except for hydration. My box is about 10 years old, I just cook it a bit and put it in a good tea tin to reduce the water content. (Plus I have other tea tins with borax and boric acid and borax and silica sand for various situations.) Hydration just affects the "fizzy factor."


I think your best off with a "sturdy" socket for the leg of the vise. My smallest, highest one is set on an oak block resting on the same bricks as the workbench (said bricks to elevate the workbench for my 6'1" height and to keep it off the somewhat damp dirt floor of the forge). My largest, lowest, vise sits on a 1/2" (13 mm) triangular steel plate (salvaged from a run-over traffic signal foundation in D.C.) screwed into a 7" X 1' (17 X 32 cm)black locust log set into concrete in the same hole in which the post for the vise is positioned. Not only does such a vise get vertical pounding, but frequently they get side forces and torquing from stubborn bends, cold work, and large friends tryng to loosen trailer balls from their S.U.V. hitches. (He nearly twisted the 100# [45 kg] post vise out of the ground, concrete footing and all!)

Hard rubber might give too much play for some uses, and it could either pop the leg out, or flex within the rubber pad to such an extent that you might damage the upper attachment.

On the other claw; if you're working with light stock and filing and low stress/low torque operations, it might work just fine. :-)

Looks like another hazy, hot and humid day on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 08/04/05 08:45:46 EDT

todd..... I used copper mesh for a fireplace screen(mainly because I got it cheep) but that copper with the flame light coming through is awesome. I would use it again. email me and I'll send you a picture of it
   dan - Thursday, 08/04/05 08:53:52 EDT

Tom T., The weld.

You might not be getting a thorough heat on the 3/4" stock with your forge. You might be hitting too hard on the initial few blows right out of the forge. Hitting too hard causes "shear" rather than welding. The first few blows should be RELATIVELY light, depending of stock thickness. You might be taking too long to get a heat thereby losing the flux advantage. Don't quench right after a weld attempt; you'll have contraction and partial hardening problems. Too much flux can be a contaminant. You can tap the weld against the anvil or shake it in mid-air to get rid of some "soup" just prior to hitting. The borax should be OK. Apply borax at a fairly bright heat, so that the flux melts right away.
I don't understand the soot problem.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 08/04/05 09:06:55 EDT

Forge welding issues.
Can someone here please give me some info on forge welding?
I am having some issues that are really giving me "fits".
The other day I tried to forge weld two sticks of 1/4 inch 0-1 tool steel into a cross configuration.
I ground out two grooves where the two pieces would cross, tied them together. I crankedd up the heat in the forge (gas) and put the pieces in. I let them heat to what appeared to be the right temp. I pulled them out applied EZ WELD compound on the joint and put it back into the forge for s further heat. I let it heat until the EZ WELD begain to spark. All that I have read says that is when the weld process is ready.
I pulled the pieces and smacked them with a two pound hammer right on the joint. To my chigrin the pieces did not weld(ARRGGGG!!). I put them back into the forge for a second try and the same thing happened. I have followed all the instructions that I have read and what I know about forge welding and after three tries at it this simply does not work for me.

Is there something I am missing here???
Please email me with your suggestions as I am not always able to get up here to check the replies.


Ed Green
   Ed Green - Thursday, 08/04/05 10:21:20 EDT

Ed, 0-1 is a very high carbon alloy steel. You have two problems welding it. One, tool steels weld at lower temperatures than lower carbon steels. At a sparking heat you have burned the steel. Two the alloying ingrediants make it more difficult and requiring different flux in some cases.

When you use flux you want to apply it at as low a temperature as it will melt. The flux will then help prevent oxidation. Borax flux with 10% flourite will weld high alloy steels the best.

I'll let others with more forge welding experiance get into more details.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/04/05 10:29:32 EDT

Hammer Speed: Luke, Need more information. Air hammer? Mechanical Hammer? Self contained? A picture would help but there SHOULD be a tag or something on the machine to indicate the the manufacturer.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/04/05 10:33:56 EDT

miles, i will preheat the C/I piece prior to brazing. i was thinking of laying it in the fire with a gentle blast. i have already veed out the crack and drilled holes. i have a garbage can full of vermiculite that i use. hope it works OK as i have a blower cover that i want to repair also. thanks for the advise. thanks to vic' also for the tip
   - rugg - Thursday, 08/04/05 10:37:02 EDT

ED why 01? If all you are making is a cross, then mild steel would be much easier to work with. Also, 1/4" is darn hard to weld. In forge welding its a race to get it stuck before the temp drops below the min welding point. The thinner the stock the less time you have. I would consider welding 3/8" stock (MUCH easier) and forging it down afterwards - you definitely need some extra mass at the weld since welding itself tends to thin the weld area. If it has to be 1/4" I would first weld them right in the fire. Set themin the correct positions (bend things if need be) and when they are ready to weld just reach in with a pair of flat tongs and squeeze them toghether. Not much pressure is needed to do this. Once stuck you can pull them out and finish the weld
   adam - Thursday, 08/04/05 10:45:59 EDT

"Completely Exposed to Sun and Rain" immediatley gets me to thinking about electro polished stainless for the frame and stainless mesh unless they want the "rust" look. Are they willing to do or pay for regular maintenance?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/04/05 10:56:32 EDT

See my website and you will see why 0-1 (http://www.budoweapons.com). This is not a cross as you might think but rather a preparation for making a martial arts training tool. The items I make must be able to be hardened to retain "blade-like" qualities and retain their points under extreme abuse. Mild steel just won't do it even with "superquench". Would w-1 change any of this?? I may have to go to the 3/8 as you suggest and forge down from there. I have done this with mild steel before and had no problems but since moving to 0-1 it's been giving me fits. Perhaps the reasons mentioned wrong flux, the weld temp is wrong, etc. at what temp range would 0-1 weld (color wise) dull cherry red???

   Ed Green - Thursday, 08/04/05 12:10:42 EDT

Can anyone give me advice on forge linings eg. kaowool, castable cement, fire brick, insulating brick etc. I am building a larger forge that measures rectangular 48" x 24" x 24" on the inside lining of 1/8" metal. I would like some opions on lining materials, durability, insulating properties and recommendations on the construction eg. thickness of lining and internal gemometry. If anyone has information, plans or a link to some good info I would apprecitate opinions.
Thanks, David
   David - Thursday, 08/04/05 12:12:01 EDT

I am with Thomas on this one (but you knew I would be)
Stainless steel all the way.
Its harder to forge, and more expensive. But you save money on finishing. Yes, you could electropolish it afterwards. Or not. If you are careful about not polluting your stainless while working it, only using new stainless wire brushes and new grinding and sanding discs, you can just leave the as forged finish on stainless, and it is a pleasing dark gray.
I have a set of 3 towel hooks on the wall next to my hot tub, outside and completely exposed to sun and rain, and this year we have gotten a lot of both. And they look great, a year after putting them up. No rust, no finish to flake off. They were forged from 1 1/2" round, with quite a lot of material moved, in the approved constant volume way, so there is no mill surfaces left anywhere on them.
Stainless will handle the heat of the fire quite well too.
Any size or shape of stainless wire mesh or perforated metal is available from Mcnichols- google em. They have warehouses all over the country, and on small stuff will ups it.
   - Ries - Thursday, 08/04/05 12:16:56 EDT

Oh- and if you must make them from mild steel- probably your best course of action is just Barbecue Black spray paint from the Home depot- and give the client a half dozen cans, and tell em to touch it up every few months. Because if it is close to the fire, no commercial finish, no matter how expensive, is gonna last long. Mild steel needs periodic maintainence- that is why all the Landed Gentry in Europe kept such big staffs.
"Rust Never Sleeps" as Neil Young said.
   - Ries - Thursday, 08/04/05 12:19:03 EDT

David; without knowing intended fuel and use all that typing would just be rather a waste of time. Can you give us the information on how you plan to heat it and what you plan to forge with it so we can make reasoned suggestions? Do you plan to weld in it?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/04/05 12:55:20 EDT

forge linings: I have had good luck with ANH's Mizzou ( a castable) very durable and flux resisant. Also using their Satanite for glue and patch has worked very well. I find Kaowool or Inswool too delicate for my work but coating them with a skim of Satanite (Jock's idea) improves things a lot. But I use small forges - nothing close to the size you are talking about.

Castables and rammables have a tendency to shrink while curing. I imagine this would cause cracks in large pieces. Also these are fairly dense materials and soak up a lot of heat before they get to forging temp. Using kaowool will improve warm up times and also make the forge more responsive when you need to ramp up to welding heat for a particular job.

I use Mizzou for the bottom parts and coated kaowool for the top and I run my forge at or near welding. But as I said, I use a very small chamber
   adam - Thursday, 08/04/05 13:07:01 EDT

Exposed to sun and rain:

How about bronze?
   - Marc - Thursday, 08/04/05 14:01:42 EDT

David: I assume you're building a gas forge? Kaowool is completely inappropriate for a solid fuel forge. If I guessed right and it's gas, the kaowool will heat up alot faster then the other options (castable, soft firebrick, etc), but it cools off much more quickly too. Depending on how you work, either might be better. If you tend to forge in short spurts and not do much annealing then I'd say kaowool, if you forge for longer periods then one of the denser ones will end up more efficient in the long run even though the forge will take some time to warm up, and the slow cooling will work better for annealing.
   AwP - Thursday, 08/04/05 14:24:57 EDT

Has anyone tried liquid stove black as a finish on ironwork?
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 08/04/05 14:26:50 EDT

I have used liquid stove black. Also toothpaste tube stove black.
Its advantage is that it goes on over just about anything, easily, and its cheap.
However, it will not prevent rust. It is not adequate for an outdoor finish- within a year you will have rust coming up thru it.
It is also pretty messy- it takes a while to dry, and even then it still will rub off on you sometimes.
For indoor use, its okay, with some sort of clear coat over the top.
Its great for stoves, too. And you could use it on andirons and fireplace tools.
   - Ries - Thursday, 08/04/05 14:41:06 EDT

I read about quenching in a cold block of lead in Foxfire 5 and I thought that was really strange. Just out of curiosity is this a harsh quench or a mild quench and what are the advantages of quenching in lead?
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 08/04/05 16:42:06 EDT


I am a graduate student at the Unviersity of Texas at Austin in archaeology. I have no practical experience in metallurgy at all. I have a technical question about how and if alum (or other astringent substances containing alum or ferrous sulphate) can be used in bronze-smithing. (I realize that this forum deals primarily with iron and steel but perhaps you have worked in bronze as well?)

The reason I ask is because bronze-smiths appear to be consistently associated with alum procurement in a group of texts from a site (Pylos) in the Late Bronze Age in the southwest of Greece. I'm writing my dissertation on the individuals from this site and their relationship to the administration of the state.

I would of course give proper credit to anyone who has useful suggestions.

Many thanks,
Dimitri Nakassis

University of Texas at Austin, Classics Department
Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory
   Dimitri Nakassis - Thursday, 08/04/05 18:08:06 EDT

Foxfire: Tyler, Which article? Page? I read the blacksmithing section, no lead. The gunsmithing?

What I read was full of language that should be corrected. Hardening was called tempering and tempering often overlooked. You must remember that these articles were the result of high school student (14-17 year olds) interviews with people that used colloquial and often misunderstood terms. Foxfire is a great resource but when it comes to technical details you need to check other sources.

Melted lead was often used for tempering.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/04/05 18:09:07 EDT

Stove Black: There are two basic types of these and some are mixed. One is a lead compound and the other graphite. Neither have much binder and what binder there is eventualy evaporates or burns out leaving a dusty black surface. Good high temp black paint is graphite in a high temperature binder. However, most of these binders eventually do the same as the stove black and they chalk. These are not good for fire tool handles. It is best to paint the working end of fire tools with high temp black and the handles with flat black.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/04/05 18:13:49 EDT

Tinsmith/sheetmetal forums:

Some kind soul posted a link to an interesting sheetmetal forum about a month ago. If anybody can remember the link can you please re-post it.

thanks in advance.
   Bob G - Thursday, 08/04/05 20:00:04 EDT

Dimitri Nakassis,

Alum and cream of tartar were both used for cleaning bronze in preparation for the process of gilding during the Renaissance, but that is a couple of millenia later than the Bronze Age of Europe. I would not be surprised if they weren't used much earlier, as most of the metal techniques of the Renaissance were based on experimentation and alchemy rather than chemistry or metallurgy.
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/04/05 20:36:05 EDT

Tyler: I don't know about lead, but thin sections of oil or water hardening tool steel will quench fast enough to harden if clamped between reasonably large finished steel plates. This trick was used by a co worker of Mine to quench machinist's paralells without warping them [about 1/8 thick] In this case the advantage was a great reduction in warpage. I think a pair of large, flat lead plates would work as well IF YOU HAD SUCH A THING. The plates must make perfect contact with the work to quench quickly enough to harden.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/04/05 21:17:43 EDT

Need a grip: Where are you located...I don't know about the rest of the guys here but my partner and I are always purchasing equipment on speculation. we have a couple of leg vises right now...we are in Central California. And if you let the other guys know what area you are from maybe they can help.
   - Trahern - Thursday, 08/04/05 21:22:52 EDT

ries, i like the "approved constant volume way" description...and, at times, adding a wee bit with steady, skillful hands can open a few more doors...as you no doubt know.
   - rugg - Friday, 08/05/05 10:04:45 EDT

I'm in the process of building a propane forge. I have burn't a few holes in a freon can (attaching the legs), learning how to use a mig welder. I spot welded the holes from the outside and built up the weld, then blended with a grinder. Not enough room on the inside to do the same. My question is, Will the outside filler and buildup be ok or should I try and patch the inside with another method before I add the koawool and ITC-100?
   oktwodogs - Friday, 08/05/05 11:11:27 EDT


The shell in a propane forge could be made out of stiff screen, expanded metal or anything else that will hold the shape you want. Don't worry about the fill job, if it looks good to you, you are ok.
   - Wayne P - Friday, 08/05/05 11:30:14 EDT

Need a Grip: eBay seller Haybudden is selling off several rather nice post/leg vises. I have met Ryan and have purchased from him in the past. You can trust him 100%. He has been offering free S&H on these, so take that into consideration on any bidding.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/05/05 11:40:10 EDT

Ok; I would have not even bothered to patch the holes! I visited one professional shop recently where one of there forges was a big roll of kaowool held by a cover of expanded metal mesh---all holes. I have seen one made by a hobbiest that was just a roll of kaowool held with baling wire. As for smoothness; some plans require you to weld nails onto the inside to hold the kaowool in place.

ISTR the use of alum or tartar used as a flux in bronze melting. I'll check Theophilus tonight.

Language: the venacular is often quite different from the jargon used by experts and it can be easy to claim that it is just as proper *HOWEVER* there is a reason that jargon is formed and that it the precise transfer of information between people who "know what they are talking about"

So we, as smiths, differentiate in heat treating between normalizing, annealing, hardening and tempering. Often these terms are misused in the "common usage". (Just look at all the armour making sites that use the term anneal for normalizing...)

We know how wootz differs from patternwelding where commercially it may all be lumped as "damascus steel".

We need to remember that people may not know the correct terminology and try to both teach it and to guess "the question behind the question" so we can answer what they want/need to know rather than what they may actually ask---and I'm probably one of the worst people here for being fussy about this stuff!

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/05/05 11:46:44 EDT

Tempering In Lead: This is a quote from "The Complete Practical Machinist" 19th Edition of 1905- a book written in 1894.

"To make a drill exceedingly hard to suit some special case, it may be heated in a charcoal fire to a dull red heat and quenched in mercury instead of water. Another method is to heat the drill to a red heat in molten lead and then drive it into a block of cold lead, striking succesive blows lightly and quickly until the drill is sufficeintly cool to permit of its being held in the hand. The cases, however in which a drill is required to be so hard are exceedingly rare."

I am posting this as a reference only- remember when this was written and DON'T DO IT. These are not healthy material choices and you can get the same results safely with modern tool steels.

This Obscure Information brought to you by CSI - Join!
   SGensh - Friday, 08/05/05 12:39:58 EDT

How is it possible to heat steel in molten lead to a red heat if lead melts between 400-500 degrees?
   Chris Makin - Friday, 08/05/05 14:23:52 EDT

Heating in Lead:
Melting Point: 327.5 C (600.65 K, 621.5 F)
Boiling Point: 1740.0 C (2013.15 K, 3164.0 F)

Since Lead BOILS at 3164 F, I suppose its possible to heat a pot of liquid lead to near 2000 F with a piece of steel submerged in it. Of course, the steel would have to be mechanically held under the surface, steel floats on lead. Not a GOOD idea, but possible. Please don't try it.
   MikeM OH - Friday, 08/05/05 14:59:57 EDT

Chris the piece was heated in a fire then quenched in the lead. Salt baths are used for hardening and tempering and are much safer. However in the hardening the heating is done in the bath and the quench in normal the normal quenchant for the part (air, oil water, brine). Tempering is done in the bath and allows a long soak at temperature without oxidizing. The Hardening point for steel is only about 1400-1500°F, way below the boiling point of lead.

Most applications for lead are a thing of the past, there are very good substitutes or alternative methods. The quote above about quenching in a block of lead is an example of trying to get more performance out of a a poor piece of steel, much like using super quench on mild steel. In this era of easily obtainable steels of almost infinite variety there is no reason for these methods.
   - guru - Friday, 08/05/05 15:37:35 EDT

Sheetmetal forum:
Hey Bob, here's an interest sheetmetal forum
   JohnW - Friday, 08/05/05 17:27:57 EDT

The part about quenching in lead is in the chapter about gunmaking on page 240. The man would make drill bits for metal out of old files and quench in lead to heat treat.
   Tyler Murch - Friday, 08/05/05 18:00:32 EDT

Sheetmetal forum:

That's the one!
   Bob G - Friday, 08/05/05 18:24:25 EDT

Tyler: I read that twice just now, and I have to admit you saw what you saw. (grin!) The man in question seems to have done just that based on the description. The question does remain, however, how effective it would be. Files are (or were at the time) alloys like 1095 or W-1, and while a spade bit hot off the forge would melt its way into a block of cold lead as specified, I don't think the temperature drop would be fast enough to fully harden the steel, as those are both water-quenching alloys. I know in small sections some of those steels air harden to a degree, and that combined with the melted lead around the very edge might provide sort of a harden-and-temper cycle from the heat retained in the shank of the bit, sort of the way I do cold chisels in one heat out of 5160. Let's just say it's not recommended practice!

I make engraving tools for use on brass and soft steel out of 1/8" round 1095, and I water quench and then draw the temper with a torch. More accurate that way, but who knows, I may try some in cold lead and see how it affects the toughness.

   Alan-L - Friday, 08/05/05 20:22:02 EDT

Seems like someone was recently asking about where to find some true wrought iron stock. 5/8" round stock now listed on eBay as listing #7536633444. Seller indicates he scored a good bit of various sizes.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/05/05 20:47:54 EDT

I was given several feet of 1.5" wrought roundbar.
I am sure its WI, The grainy texture of the broken end and slag inclusion is obvious on the end I sawed off.
I never smithed WI before so I cut off a couple inches, heated in propane forge and went to striking (along the 'grain' so to speak)and the piece nearly falls all apart along the slag inclusions.
Do I need to fire up with coal for highter temperature and effectively weld the stringy bits together as I try to draw the piece out ?
Thanks alot
   - Sven - Friday, 08/05/05 21:20:16 EDT

Sven: yes to the heat. Wrought, especially lower quality wrought, must be worked MUCH hotter than modern mild steel, in the high yellow to white range.
   Alan-L - Friday, 08/05/05 21:24:59 EDT

Tyler: The lead quench depends on having a pair of LARGE lead blocks to Quench a thin section which doesn't have enough thermal mass to significantly warm the lead. Think in terms of a spade bit, similar to what is used in woodworking, but without the brad point. Maybee 1/2" wide and 3/32" thick, and only the end needs to be hard. That small amount of steel would quench easily. I have also known people who would quench a hammer face against a large block of steel. The face must be flat for this to work. It is a form of selective heat treatment. Crown is ground on the face aftrewards.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 08/05/05 21:55:44 EDT

Y'all doubtless already know this, but just in case: lead and mercury are dangerous substances. To breathe the fumes thereof. To handle. Muy peligroso!
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 08/05/05 22:11:57 EDT

please dont post
hello whoever is reading this, i hope you answer this. i am a grade ten student in n.b. canada and i was thinking about being a war historian or something of the such. i was thinking that blacksmithing might be what i was looking for as a career and my questions are, 1-what would i need to qualify, courses and the such,to be a blacksmith and how the market is for olden weapons,armor and objects? 2-how rewarding is a career in blacksmithing instead of the normal historian? please respond jonah
   jonah daly - Friday, 08/05/05 22:35:51 EDT

Son,Are YOU serious??Get a job That's what you need(I am being an ASS) As far as the historian part,THE BLACKSMITH started the whole "Shebang" Qulifications is 1 don't spell like this 2 Heat and beat 3 treat REWARD?? Knowing YOU did this, Ready to put YOUR name on it????
   - jimmy - Saturday, 08/06/05 04:07:54 EDT

Occupationtions: Jonah, Carefully read what you posted. Do the questions and statements make a lot of sense to you? First order of business is to learn to comunicate clearly. Think about what you want to say before you say it. Practice writing in logical sententences. In this age of instant communication it is much more important than in the past. Once you punch that post or send button it is too late to make changes.

In the twentyfirst century blacksmithing is primarily a self employed occupation. Qualifications include the ability to operate one's own small business which is not as easy as many think. To be an entrepreneur you need to be able to produce the product, sell the product, collect the money and account for it. Selling means advertising, WRITING and talking to clients (communication). Handling the money includes billing, paying taxes, balancing books and paying bills. As a small businessman I spend many hours each month just writing checks! I don't even want to talk about the accounting and taxes. . . .

Producing a product includes designing it, obtaining the materials, making tooling and THEN doing the actual work which also includes proper finishing and packaging. Many blacksmiths produce decrative work and that means you must also study ART and have the ability to design, draw and sculpt.

The modern blacksmith shop looks more like a modern machine shop than a smithy. There is lots of technology to understand and know how to apply in the best manner. To the courses in operating a business add welding and machining.

This is not to put you off blacksmithing as a carreer but you have a lot to think about. Nothing in life is as easy as it seems from your current position in life. Enjoy it while you can.

As to being an historian that is a slightly different matter. If you are going to be an historian in a technical feild then you must understand the technology and as much of its history as is available today. Many historians over the years have not understood what it was they were writing about and have made a considerable mess of things. When you know the technology well enough and can find the errors in the current histories then you could call yourself a historian. This is also an occupation with limited openings. Most historians need a job in some other area that supports their time writing. University professorships are the usual way to go but are limited in number and difficult to achieve. There is also journalism as well. Then there is the matter of getting published. Just because you wrote it does not automaticaly mean it will be published.

THINK, then redifine your questions. Define your goals and look for the logical path to achieve those goals.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/06/05 06:27:03 EDT

Wrought Iron: Sven, There is also the possibility that you have some old wrought that is too corroded to be of any use. Under certain conditions when wrought corrodes the the fibers seperate and the material is worthless except as a curiousity. You can forge wrought with gas only at the highest temperatures. Yes coal is better as it forges best at a yellow heat. Working at welding temperatures with flux can also help repair minor corrosion damage.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/06/05 06:33:28 EDT

Lead Quench: This is the worst kind of uninformed speculation, but since the critical temperature for steel is well below the boiling point of lead, it seems like just-barely molten lead might provide a very fast quench since no vapor layer would form to impede heat transfer. Don't know about cold lead, but maybe if the steel being quenched was hot enough to melt the immediately surrounding lead before the steel dropped below its critical point, you'd get good contact and fast heat transfer, with the surrounding solid lead absorbing its heat of fusion and keeping the puddle relatively cool. Maybe tin could be a somewhat more environmentally correct substitute?

My undergraduate majors were history and archaeology. A cousin asking if in planned a career in archaeology, and I said I it was a tough field unless you were a professor, and I wasn't sure I had the drive to get a PhD or the desire to teach. She asked "What about Indiana Jones?" But even he was a professor. I guess if she could have read Anvilfire, she might have said "What about Alan L." I, on the other hand, sold out and went to law school.
   Mike B - Saturday, 08/06/05 07:11:42 EDT

Wrought Iron.

Sven, There were different qualities of wrought iron. Lots of wagon tires were of a "single refined" iron that was red short and liked to separate at the lower temperatures.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 08/06/05 09:07:51 EDT

On risks of lead.
As Miles Undercut noted lead and mercury both have well know risks.
Lead is a well know risk, but the risk to children to children under 6 years old is the worst. Lead affects brain developement, leading to IQ reduction and often Behaviour issues. This risk is such that the Federal Government has made many regulations about lead in schools, daycares and housing with exposure to under 6 kids.
OSHA has strict reg's about workers exposed to lead. Blood tests are required to insure the blood level remains below the standard. I know of cases of maintnance workers who worked on electronics assembly machines who simply did not wash their hands well enough prior to eating who busted the test limit. Another chewed a toothpick while working, same result.
Lead goes from the blood into the bones, and is very difficult to get back out. Chelation therapy is the usual method and has its onw risks.

Mercury will poison you from vapors. A small spill with provide vapors for years if not cleaned up. I remember reading about mercury miners in Spain who had reached the limit, and were pulled from mining to be baked under heat lamps to sweat out the mercury.

Remember that both of these heavy metals are a cumulative posion. Each small exposure adds to the bodies total until the total reaches a deadly amount.
These risks were know to the Romans, who sentenced criminals to the lead and mercury mines as a worse than quick excution sentence.

This small free leason is brought to you by a Certified Lead Risk Assesor and Inspector, and the letters CSI. Please support CSI.
   ptree - Saturday, 08/06/05 09:12:09 EDT

Professions: Creative folks have an odd life. The fictional Indiana Jones had his professorship to support him and give him credibility. In the real world Isaac Asimov had a professorship at Boston University where he taught little but gave him a home. Many other authors and writers have had to have other means of support. Artists often have a patron and I know one blacksmith who's career was built that way.

Explorers and even breakthrough mathematicians and physicists need a job. Albert Einstein worked for the US Patent office as a patent examimer all the time he was consulting on the construction of the atomic bomb.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/06/05 09:29:40 EDT

Not to be picky, but Einstein worked at the SWISS patent office from 1902 to 1909. By the time he was theorizing about atom bombs, he was a professor at Princeton, from 1932 til he died in 1955.
Now Al Paley, on the other hand, is a university professor now- but from what I hear the students dont see much of him...
   - Ries - Saturday, 08/06/05 11:42:58 EDT

Mike B. : Archaeology can be a tough life, even if you ARE a professor (grin!). I reached my limit of bovine byproduct shortly after getting an MA in the field, and now I'm a minor bureaucrat in state government who tells the engineers where they can and can't build roads and such. Thanks for thinking of me, though! I can guarantee you make more as a lawyer or even a paralegal (or a secretary in a law office, for that matter) than the vast majority of archaeologists.

About the lead quench as described in Foxfire 5, and this'll be my last mention: The kid who wrote that chapter watched the guy sink the hot end of the drill bit into a block of room-temperature lead in such a way that the lead liquefied around the point. I pass no judgement on the process's effectiveness, the kid was just reporting what he saw. Lead is not a good enough conductor of heat to quench in without melting the lead at least a little bit. Some knifemakers who use air-hardening steels quench between chilled aluminum plates, but that's as close to that procedure I know of nowadays.

Note to all: read what ptree and Miles said about the hazards of lead and mercury, don't play with lead unless you know exactly what you're doing, and don't play with mercury period.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 08/06/05 11:49:44 EDT

Anyone in the west (CO, WY, KS, NM, AZ, UT) have a power roller mill and would be willing to spend a day/few hours (at your shop rate) to help me forge some wrought iron into sheet wrought. I'm in a Hawken rifle building project and we are looking for 99.9% authenticity on these rifles and would like to make the furniture out of wrought instead of modern steel. Any interest give me a call atXXX970x484x1165XXX. Thanks
Jerry Crawford, Ft Collins
   Jerry Crawford - Saturday, 08/06/05 12:30:11 EDT

Jerry Crawford: If you can find such a person suggest they also look at rolling/forming something like 3/8" hot rolled into 1/4" hot rolled square stock.

At one time SOF&A looked into doing this as part of Quad-State. They would build a very long propane forge to heat the stock and then run it through reducing rollers. 1/4" HR would have then been sold for group income. Project didn't get past discussion and back of an envelope design.

It doesn't sound like you need much. Have you considered forging it down from round or square into rectangular via powerhammer and then dressing it up with flatters.

Note post above on someone having some 5/8" round WI on eBay currently. They indicate in listing they have other size stock as well.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/06/05 13:06:20 EDT

To illustrate the hazards of lead-- I knew a guy, Harvard grad, military historian, whose hobby was casting lead soldiers to use in replicating battle scenes authentically. This casting, as I understand it, he was in the custom of doing in his poorly ventilated NYC apartment. He died some years ago at a young age of lead poisoning.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 08/06/05 13:36:19 EDT

Dear guru, I was wondering the proper technical name for "sucker rod". What kind of steel is it? Is it wrought iron? It is mentioned in one of the I-Forge tong demos (I need a new pair to work with RR spikes).
   Matthew Marting - Saturday, 08/06/05 13:42:07 EDT

Here is something that I heard at an Ocmulgee Blacksmiths Guild meeting today that you can tell people who are weary about using modern equipment like grinders, gas forges, etc.: blacksmithing is a process not a time period. I thought that was good.
   Tyler Murch - Saturday, 08/06/05 13:45:44 EDT

Mathew, Sucker rod is the tension rod from a variety of pumps including deep weel and oil pumps. It is often an alloy steel but it is not a particularly high strength steel. What it IS is common scrap in the Southwest.

For tongs mild steel is fine. Some factory tongs are 1040 steel but that is the maximum carbon content for tongs. Tongs often get hot and must be quenched. Tongs are also often modified. If you get to a read heat do not quench as they will be brittle and may break.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/06/05 14:31:10 EDT

Do you know where I can get plans for a hand operated metal ring roller?
   Don Haight - Saturday, 08/06/05 16:30:36 EDT

Im curious what other people wear for hearing protection Muffs? Plugs? (foam or rubber?) Does anyone wear the electronic/digital plugs?

If you dont wear them, do you have hearing loss either from smithing or other noise exposure?

If you do wear hearing protection is it all of the time, some of the time or only during specific tasks.

Personally, I like muffs, but it's summer and it's hot and I'm wondering what works for you.
   - sriver - Saturday, 08/06/05 18:42:45 EDT

Don Haight

Hopefully this link will attach without causing problems for Jock - I've heard complaints about long links.

If you can't access this link, got to www.hobartwelders.com and surf for their message board then search for ring roller.

   - sriver - Saturday, 08/06/05 18:48:02 EDT

Okay, I lied about that last post being the last one on lead and quenching (grin!). Tried it today, DID NOT WORK. The end.

Jerry Crawford and wrought sheet: I make my own out of 1/2" round brake rod off an old wagon. No roller, no press, just me, coal, and a hand hammer. It's not hard, just a lot of work. Are you wanting the cap box in iron? That'd be the hardest to make just because of the width. With a roller or press it'd be no work at all, but it can be done by hand.

sriver: What are you doing that you need muffs? I use them in preference to plugs, mostly when using power tools. If your anvil is deafening you, bolt that sucker down tight and it'll quit ringing, allowing you to forge in earmuff-free delight. I have some hearing loss from several years of teenaged stupidity involving a lot of shooting without protection. My wife seems to think I can turn it on or off at will...
   Alan-L - Saturday, 08/06/05 19:11:14 EDT

I have been trying to register for the slack tub pub for several months now. I have registered 3 times, and even sent the guru an email about it. I have received no response. Can someone help?
   - Nolan - Saturday, 08/06/05 20:17:09 EDT

What? Speak up, will you? I actually use muffs, which give me the most noise protection. Easy on, easy off. I use them most of the time, but there are times when I am just doing a little bit, and don't bother. But I should bother. I don't use them when trying to teach someone. I lost some hearing from work as a carpenter without adequate hearing protection. And 4 1/2 years in the Air Force didn't help either.
   Bob H - Saturday, 08/06/05 20:25:02 EDT


Say what? I have moderately severe hearing loss from loud noises such as shooting, machine shop work and motorcycle racing. Now that I need hearing aids, I wear electronic earmuffs in the shop, and regular earmuffs when mowing or chainsawing. The electronic muffs are form Harbor Freight and work great. So good, in fact, that I bought a couple extra pairs for guests to use.

My main anvil is now a Fisher (tool steel plate over cast iron body), as it is quiet as can be. I wear the muffs anyway, as percussive noises can be damaging even when they don't seem loud. I don't find that the muffs really make me any hotter. The safety glasses and/or faceshields DO make me hotter; a lot hotter. Better too hot than stone cold, as my wife says about my complaints of overheating from wearing body armor.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/06/05 20:50:07 EDT


The Guru is usually a cople of months behind on Pub registrations, as the daily business of Anvilfire takes more than a day. If the verification email to you bounces for some reason, such as bad address, spam filters, mail box full, etc, than the registration will fail and you start over. I think about a third of all applications fail due to email bouncing. The only surefire way I know to get registered for the Pub quickly is to join CSI. CSI members get immediate Pub registration as a perk of membership.

This shameless plug brought to you by the color blue and the letters C,S and I. We support Anvilfire so you can continue to enjoy it for years to come. Join us, won't you?
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/06/05 20:55:01 EDT

I read somewhere long time back that muffs protect hearing from damage from noises transmitted through the skull behind the ear, noises that plugs do not block.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 08/06/05 21:01:02 EDT

Shooting muffs. They look a bit silly, but they sure do work. being the fashion plate that I am, i go for effectiveness.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 08/06/05 21:36:15 EDT

Jerry I have over a ton of 5/16 and 3/16 wrought iron plate that I moved out to NM from OH---exactly what size do you need?

Dear Miles, I really enjoyed that mercury shake you served in the lead cup---so much so that I am thinking of becoming a blacksmith, throw in some CO and perhaps some asbestos and zinc and it's a done deal...Got home OK with the RR rail and scrapped O2 tank.

Jonah; may I suggest you reseazrch and ask other historical oriented smiths already at work in Canada? Their answers may be a bit different from those of the smiths in the USA due to the health insurance problem. If you look at L'anse Aux Meadows you should find a link to one talented smith in the field! Getting on the Archeological Metallurgy mailing list is also suggested.

   - Thomas Powers - Saturday, 08/06/05 22:44:00 EDT

vicopper: I would love to join CSI. But I cant. I am spending almost every free penny of mine on blacksmithing.I dont have the money to buy a yearly membership, and for someone my age(14) it is a bit difficult to be able to say I will be able to pay monthly or quarterly dues for 6 months
   - Nolan - Saturday, 08/06/05 22:53:58 EDT

I prefer muffs over earplugs in my shop. I have a nifty pair that use only a wire to clamp them on. The wire runs down from the muffs and around the nape of the neck. They do not interfer with a face shield or welding helment. I also wear them to mow and chainsaw.
A quick test of the noise level is to talk at a normal conversational volume to another person a normal distance. If you have to lean in, speak louder, or can't hear clearly, the noise level is high enough to need hearing protection.
After several years around tanks and artillery, plenty of rifle and pistol fire, years in airplanes and some time in race cars and a lifetime in industry, I still have pretty good hearing. Since my Grandfather went deaf at 50 and my Dad was pretty deaf at 50, I have worn hearing protection, and it shows.
   ptree - Saturday, 08/06/05 23:06:35 EDT

Don Haight...look to Harbor freight.com...they have a cheap ring roller that may do for what you need. My partner and I even use it to roll 4" wide sheet metal to make rings for tractor disks for fire pits.
   - trahern - Saturday, 08/06/05 23:32:08 EDT

Lead Quench & Steel Quench: I read Alan's post, down to the shop I went. I found some discarded shims made of O1 gage stock to use as test samples. They are 1/8" thick and 3/4" wide with a 13/32" hole 1/2" in from each end. sample -1- heat end red hot with torch & quench in water. Sample -2- heat end red hot with torch and clamp in milling machine vise. Sample -3- heat end red hot with torch and clamp in milling machine vise with 4 layers of 1/16" lead flashing on each side between sample and vise jaws. All 3 parts got hard enough that a file skates right off them. Some melted lead squirted out when vise was tightened, but the lead, about 1 pound total was only slightly warm when removed from the vise shortly after it was tightened. My conclusion: cold lead, steel, or probably any other common metal will transfer heat fast enough to quench a thin section of oil hardening tool steel, provided there is complete mechanical contact, and sufficient mass to absorb the heat. I am not recomending the use of lead, but I feel that if proper precautions are taken, We can continue to ballance our tires, cast our bullets, weight our fishing lines etc.and live. As somebody noted before, overheating lead is a real NO NO, as it gives off alot more fumes then.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 08/07/05 00:01:22 EDT

I'm looking for a source of a j-section 10-groove 2.5" diameter sheave to build my belt grinder. This will allow me to mate my salvaged variable speed treadmill motor to a jackshaft to power the thing, since the motor has a multi-rib sheave/flywheel pressed on the shaft.

McMaster-Carr has one, but they want about fifty bucks by the time I buy the sheave and the bushing. Plus, they ONLY ship by UPS, so that adds another thirty bucks or more to the cost. Ouch!

Anybody got any good sources?
   vicopper - Sunday, 08/07/05 01:04:29 EDT

peddinghaus anvil
I am considering buying a peddinghaus anvil as I have found the cast steel anvil faces to ding and mark very easily even with trying careful hammer control. Does anyone have experience with peddinghaus anvils and is the face much hardier being a forge c45 steel with a 52-54 rockwell? are they like old forged anvils and resist dings unless abused? as many of you mention buy what you can afford. i can only afford the 77 lb peddinghaus. i already made a steel stand in advance of a purchase and was going to place a 100lb square of steel for the anvil base to set on in the stand. I will then anchor the anvil to this heavy stand. will this allow it to perfom such as 177 lb anvil? Thank You in advance
   - nietzche - Sunday, 08/07/05 09:58:49 EDT

Nietzche, my cast steel anvil (Czech made)does not ding and mark even with the occasional mis-hit. It cost about 1/3 what the same size Peddinghaus costs. Peddinghaus is a fine anvil and you will never regret owning one, except if you buy one that is too small. Maybe some more practice with the hammer would help.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/07/05 11:16:50 EDT

Anyone have any tips on what to use to get air going in to my forge its a small home made thing as im just starting out i was thinking of using a leaf blower engine would this work or be totally useless any better ideas?
   Guest - Sunday, 08/07/05 11:39:38 EDT

Nietzhe: Why not consider an old American or English anvil. On eBay do seller search on mikesblacksmithshop. He has 37 nice anvils listed as buy-it-now, mostly American brands. Reasonably priced, but watch out for shipping costs. However, you would have to pay to have the Peddinghaus sent to you also.

If you are anywhere near SW Ohio, wait until the Quad-State Blacksmithing Conference is held in Troy, OH (at the Miami County Fairgrounds) the last full weekend of September. Usually lots of anvils there. Saving shipping might well offset your trip costs, including conference fees.

Also check out the Anvilfire advertisers. For example, Pieh Tool Co. has one cast up to their specifications (and Amy Pieh is a graduate meturallurist).

I have a 160-pound Fisher and wouldn't trade it for the same weight of any other anvil, including the European imports.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 08/07/05 12:12:34 EDT


I'm trying to get into blacksmithing and I have the plans for a small wash tub forge, yet I don't know how I will fuel it. Is there a commercial supplier of forging charcoal? Does Kingsford type charcoal cut it? Can I get in contact with So. California blacksmithing that produce their own from wood? ... What should I do?
   Andre - Sunday, 08/07/05 13:02:17 EDT

Thomas-- Por nada! Anyway, around here it's the black widows, brown recluses, West Nile disease, hanta virus, bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic plague, Mad Cow and bears that you REALLY have to look out for. Glad you made it!
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 08/07/05 13:04:55 EDT

Local heat treater used to quench circular saw blades in a "Quench Press". It had water cooled top and bottom platens. Wasn't done for any special hardness, just to keep them nearly perfectly flat. Set was put in later. If you "google" on quench press you'll see a ton of info on the subject.
   - grant - Sunday, 08/07/05 13:54:34 EDT

Metal Quench and Press Quench: I used to forge drive hooks from 3/16 cold drawn steel (obstensibly SAE 1018-1020). I clamped them in the vice to bend and square the corner. Worked great except for one thing. . . the clamping in the vise quenched the corner and many were brittle enough to break at the corner when driving them in. . . Consider this when doing small work in vise.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/07/05 14:37:00 EDT


It sounds as if you are doing the same things as me with the washtub forge! Except I am building mine from scratch to suit my needs rather than hack about a old readymade washtub!

With regards to charcoal to use, my understanding of it is that it only has to be lumpwood charcoal. Whatever you do DONT use the briquettes as they contain all sorts of nasties that will affect the metal.

Have you considered making your own charcoal? Thats what i will be doing and it looks fairly simple for the method I will be using (retort method?).

If you drop me an email I will dig out a couple of links and mail them to you if you would like?

Hope that helps,

   basher - Sunday, 08/07/05 14:53:19 EDT

Guest; since a simple blowdrier will put out more air that you can use in a typical starter forge I would think that using the leaf blower would be a bit much... Look around for a cheap *quiet* air source and remember that most electrically powered ones will require some sort of sliding cut off to cut down the ammout of air they produce.

Andre, look for real chunk charcoal---I found some at wal-mart here in Socorro NM. Try *not* to get special gourmet6 stuff since it may not be as fully charred as just plain charcoal.

Guru, I just posted across the street about my fun this morning with my postvise press quenching some A36 resulting in a mid process design change and some creative use of billingsgate!

   Thomas P - Sunday, 08/07/05 15:49:52 EDT

Thank You quenchcrack & Ken
I went for a Sunday drive around the back woods roads today. My wife saw a blacksmith shop sign, so we turned around and stopped. He had five anvils forsale. I bought a real nice 130lb hay budden. How neat that it all happened this way. Thanks again
   - nietzche - Sunday, 08/07/05 16:13:18 EDT

Check Ace for charcoal. Mine has it for $7.00 for a 20 lb. bag but charcoal is light so a 20 lb. bag is pretty big.
   - Tyler Murch - Sunday, 08/07/05 16:15:04 EDT

Hello I was hoping you could help me are there any places to purchase true iron or very low carbon steel? lower than 1018?
   Vincent Krava - Sunday, 08/07/05 17:00:51 EDT

Vincent Krava: As noted in an earlier post one seller currently has 5/8" round wrought iron for sale on eBay. I think he has 100' at a starting bid of $9.99.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 08/07/05 18:02:27 EDT

So, you fell for the old "130# Hay Budden for dirt cheap" trick, eh? Dang, son, you been had. That guy probably was't a blacksmith, either. Better send that anvil over to me and I'll go find you another one....:-) Nice buy.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/07/05 18:12:28 EDT

vicopper: How does the belt You have compair to an automotive serpintene belt alternator pulley ? Other solution may be to change the motor pulley to something You can get cheaply, but I guess at Your location nothing is cheap.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 08/07/05 21:32:19 EDT

I haven't checked alternator serpentine belts yet, Dave. I suspect they're a bit heavier duty, but I might be wrong. It's a good thought, and I'll check it tomorrow.
   vicopper - Sunday, 08/07/05 21:45:04 EDT

Does anyone have any experience with large Nazel Hammers? A 4B I believe. I am looking for the ram weight and if anyone has used one before if it is possible to get the control for lighter forging with this hammer or if it is everything or nothing?


   - Don Ziblis - Sunday, 08/07/05 21:58:59 EDT

Does anyone here have any experience with Nazel hammers? I am looking for information on a 4B. I would like to know the ram weight and if this hammer has enough or any control for light forging. Can the hit be varied or is it everything or nothing. Thanks, Don
   - Don Ziblis - Sunday, 08/07/05 22:01:18 EDT

The guru was correct about the "joys" of self employment. I used to have a sign in our shop:
"Being self employed means working only 3/4 time
Any 18 hours per day ought to take care of it!"

After 25 years in business, it has proven true.
   Daniel Chessher - Monday, 08/08/05 08:42:26 EDT

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