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This is an archive of posts from August 16 - 24, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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Forging Titianium-

You can forge Ti to at least 2150 F and probably hotter. If forging by hand, make sure it is as hot as you can get it. Ti that is a dull red will not move under a hand hammer, but when at a good yellow heat will forge more like copper than steel.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 08/16/05 07:28:05 EDT

Emails. . .: Our encryption system breaks when addresses have a period in the name section. . my fault but it requires rewriting and testing a complicated piece of code.

Sorry. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/16/05 11:42:37 EDT

Water Bellows: This uses the principal of the water seal that is also used in natural gas storage facilities. The inner drum has a check valve in the top to allow air IN and is counter weighted to rise up (taking in air). The exhust is through a stand pipe in the center of the outer drum that rises an inch or so above the water level. The exhust should also have a check valve. The inner drum can be guided on the center stand pipe but the bottom needs to be mostly open so that there is no resistance against the water.

I am sure there is some elegant way to setup the check valves but without doing a bunch of sketching I cannot think of any at this point. Common bellows use flap valves that are assisted by gravity which simplifies them. In this case the valve in the inner drum is best in the top and must open inward so it must be supported by a light spring. In the stand pipe something light like a ping pong ball that seated against the end of a ledge on the pipe and was held in place by a screen or a couple bars in the pipe.

All kinds of ways to build bellows. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/16/05 12:00:06 EDT

Some alloys of Ti are reported to give you "flu like symptoms" if you breath the fumes; I've never experienced any problems with CP Ti. It does become brittle after a lot of forging in thin section though.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/16/05 12:38:25 EDT

Thank you guru for your input. Had considered using part of a truck tire innertube for valve on underside of inner barrel bottom. Also, considered using bicycle innertube on standpipe exiting barrel bellows. But I would like to have a reference on this if anybody knows of one. Again, thanks very much for your advice.
   Rob Evans - Tuesday, 08/16/05 12:51:05 EDT

I have only been blacksmithing for a short time and recently have started making railroad spike knives. From what I have read the "HC" marking means "high carbon". Someone gave me a few spikes with the marking of "MC". I can't seem to find anything on this mark. What does this mark mean? "medium carbon"? Thank you for your help.
   Ronnie - Tuesday, 08/16/05 13:12:20 EDT

I just built a new burner, and was wondering if there is a formula for figuring out propane consumption per hour using orifice size and pressure. I want to be able to figure my costs a little better.


   Mike - Tuesday, 08/16/05 14:52:41 EDT

I found a BTU calculator. Never mind. Thanks
   Mike - Tuesday, 08/16/05 15:23:38 EDT

Check Valves: Rob, Flap or check valves can be made of flexible or rigid material. In fuel pumps they are little thin disks of stainless steel. In old bellows they were simply a soft wood with fine grain. In mine I used some ruberized laminated cloth. For a Japanese style bellows I am building I am using thin brass valves on felt glued to the wood. Wood with a soft leather facing also works good. Due to the generally short life of inner tube material I would use anything else but. Flaps of plastic sheeting have also been used.

For bellows valves the seal only needs to withstand a small amount of pressure. The better the seal the more efficient the bellows. The lighter the valve the easier the bellows operation.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/16/05 17:05:51 EDT

have you ever thought about a medieval style workshop where you don't have many tools except liek a couple hammers tongs maby a chisle and for the forge you just use a big ol' honkin fire or coals

well just thought i would tell you what i work with it works fantasticly for me i like it better that a gas or electric forge

   newat_sikis - Tuesday, 08/16/05 17:36:45 EDT

I have a piece of railroad rail and i'm tring to make a anvil. I had it cut to 2' and a waist cut into it. Currently it weighs about 60 lb. I would like to build the wieght up to about 120 lb. I thought about boxing in the area between the bottom of the rail and the top of the base. then filling that area with led. What are your recomendations.
   Derek - Tuesday, 08/16/05 18:44:13 EDT

Newat_sikis, how do you know if your "big ol' honkin fire" is better than a gas or electric forge if you don't have one? I have a small gas forge and it works fantastically for me. So what?
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/16/05 19:27:46 EDT

Guru - I like your idea of using plastic sheeting for valve material. The reason this all came up is that I have been asked to teach blacksmithing in the Congo next spring. I am trying to put together very simple forging stations that can be built with locally obtainable materials. 55 gallon oil drums are in great supply. Am planning on using railroad rails for anvils and scrap steel from derelect cars for forging materials. I have been reliably informed that in the area I will be visiting there are two local blacksmiths both of who use a charcoal fire with no blast. I felt like if I could contribute nothing else a low-tech rough and ready air source might be valuable to these people. Thanks for your assistance.
   Rob Evans - Tuesday, 08/16/05 19:35:22 EDT

I'm heat treating a japanese-style sword with the clay on the back. I'm using 1080 steel and i'm quenching in oil. I heat it to bright red and then I quench it, but it curves the wrong way (toward the sharp edge instead of away from it) What am I doing wrong?
   Eric Willis - Tuesday, 08/16/05 20:27:48 EDT

Would a Railroad Rail anvil be a better anvil if I were to fill the area between the rail and the base with steel welding one layer over the other rather than tring to fill it with led just to jet the weight up.
   Derek - Tuesday, 08/16/05 21:15:20 EDT

Eric Willis,

I really can't give you a wonderful response, but as I understand it, most Japanese blades had about 0.60% carbon, and the bladesmiths quenched in water. In Kapp & Yoshihara's book, they discuss the methodology. When the proper heat is reached on the blade by drawing it repeatedly through a charcoal fire, the authors say that it is "plunged into water". The photo shows Yoshihara holding the blade cutting edge down and the blade point canted slightly downward before entering the long water trough. What the authors don't say is that before quenching,the water is stirred with hot piece of iron until it becomes tepid (I learned this by word of mouth, but I think it is accurate).

To judge the hardening heat better, the bladesmiths work in relative darkness, at night.

The other thing is, are you putting a thin slip of clay on the cutting edge as well as a thicker coating on the back of the blade? That might make a difference.


In my opinion, if you're going to go to that much trouble to add weight and if you're a welder, you should take an ironwork order, finish it, get the money, and buy a real anvil.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/16/05 21:41:42 EDT

don't mess around with a piece of rail.....find a big chunk of steel block from your local plate or machine shop and go from there...(it's less about rebound and more about mass)
   dan - Tuesday, 08/16/05 21:57:07 EDT

Ronnie...I heard the same thing about HC on RR spikes. I made 20 or so blades from those HC spikes about 12 years ago, quenched some in oil and some in very warm water. The ones quenched in water hardened a little..a new file would cut the edge. The ones quenched in oil hardened less than with water. Good practice but not a servicable tool. I think the HC may have been a relative term as compared to other previous spikes. They didnt spark (on a grinder) like high carbon steel. In my humble opinion, I think they are .50 carbon or less.
   R Guess - Tuesday, 08/16/05 22:03:43 EDT

Eric...I have made only 3 short (19-21") "Japanese style" swords, all made from coil spring from a 69 Chevy. The 3 I made curved away from the cutting edge. They went into the quench horizontaly (the blades were fairly straight) and came out with a 2 to 3" curve...a happy accident and not planned. One quenched in cool water distorded , warped and cracked...they make a terrible sound when they do that. The other 2 were quenched in 130 Deg. F Peanut oil. They curved back but didn't crack. I also used clay and heated them in a long LPG forge. I can only guess why your blade curved forward...maybe uneven heating...uneven cross section in the metal...bright red color is relative to the ambient light in your shop. I the dark corner, by my anvil, 1750 Deg. F appears bright red, yet 4 steps away at the door it appears gray in the bright sunlight. Dont give up...the next one will be better. We all learn from our mistakes. If you havent already, check out Don Foggs web site in the links on Anvilfire. Lots of info from a true Master bladesmith.
   R Guess - Tuesday, 08/16/05 22:34:39 EDT

The following is from page two of www (dot) tinyurl (dot) com/cjsfo on railroad spike carbon content:


Ron Holcomb holcombron@hotmail.com Mon Nov 8 12:41:29 PST 1999

Railroad Spike Info from TheForge Archives: Analysis by U.S. Steel: Carbon - .296 % Manganese - .68 % Phosphorous -
.016 % Sulfur - .038 % Silicon - .244 % Copper - .287 % Nickel - .09 % Chrome - .13 % Tin - .001 % Aluminum -
.005 % Vanadium - .022 % Cobalt - .008 %

High carbon spikes were made exclusively starting in or around 1974 to replace the low carbon spikes that were generally just iron and carbon (with a couple trace elements thrown in for special areas).

For High-Carbon Steel Track Spikes: Steel was made by one or more of the following processes: open-hearth, acid-Bessemer, electric-furnace, basic-oxygen.

Chemical Composition: Acid-Bessemer Other Process Carbon, min. percent 0.20- 0.30 Copper, when specified: 0.20%

Tensile Properties: Tensile Strength, min. psi. 70,000. Yield Point, min. psi. 0.5. Tensile strength Elongation in 2 in., min percent 25 From: Machinery's Handbook

Ron Holcomb holcombron@hotmail.com Mon Mar 27 11:00:05 PST 2000

Note: One should not assume that these spikes are considered to be "high carbon" in the usual sense of the term. The spikes will not contain more than 40 points (.40%) of carbon and, therefore, will not (in my opinion) respond to heat treatment in such a way as to make a proper knife edge.
The referenced site shows a number of objects made from railroad spikes.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/17/05 05:27:38 EDT

Ken: Are yo tryin to drive down the price of rr spikes with your slanderous information? :) Actually I had wondered about the term HC applied to the spikes. Thanks.
   - JLW - Wednesday, 08/17/05 07:58:49 EDT

Most of the cutting edges in the Mastermyr Find (reference to the late Viking Age toolbox for our newer visitors) were 40 point steel. 40 pts. gives an acceptable degree of hardenability and toughness without much need to temper. (As a matter of fact, the graph of hardness to carbon content starts to flatten out considerably right about at 40 pts.) You do, however, need to sharpen more often.

HC RR-spike knives make better letter openers and pry-bars than knives, but only in contrast to higher carbon steel and more sophisticated alloys. They can be adequate, but never great; but they were never meant to be (and should never be represented to be) high quality and high performance knives. Their just sort of a neat recycling of a common object with its own romantic conotations. The whole idea is: "Cool; a knife made out of a railroad spike!"

Now, a railroad spike made out of knives; that would give me problems. ;-)

Much milder on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 08/17/05 08:17:57 EDT

Eric may I commend the sword forum dot com to you! Particularly the bladesmith cafe forum.

Having the sori go the wrong way is a common problem quenching in oil and having the blade crack is a common problem quenching in water.

Traditional japanese swords often have a low carbon content---about .5% and are a very shallow hardening alloy---how much Mn is in the stuff you are using?---to allow them to make use of the clay hardening process.

Rob Evans; I assume you have read the 3 volumes that the UN food org put out on blacksmithing? They were written with Africa in mind and probably address the conditions there better than whet we might come up with.


   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/17/05 10:42:24 EDT

Bob, my "149" # anvil came by Fedex ground, unboxed. Tag was on the face. I think the shipping cost was in the 60 dollar range. They do have a weight limit of 150 lbs, and will not take a pound over (officially, anyway. The local shop knew the shipper well, and fudged the scale, as it was a 151 # anvil.)
   Monica - Wednesday, 08/17/05 12:49:35 EDT

I'm using plain carbon steel so I would assume the Mn would be very low. I treated one with ferric chloride and then sanded it to 400 grit and the hamon came out beautifully, but there's still the problem of the reverse curve. I treated 3 other wakazachi (20in) and the exact same thing happened. I believe that I'm pulling it out too soon. I quench it and then count to 4 and pull it out. If I'm oil quenching should I just leave it in until it cools completely? I'm using a propane forge and Heating it evenly red at dusk except for the tang which is dark red.
   Eric Willis - Wednesday, 08/17/05 15:38:40 EDT

For "Atli" mainly but others are welcome:

For an upcoming SCA event I was asked to make some spearhead and be able to demo the same. Naturally I remembered the iForge demo and checked it to refresh my memory on such things.

A couple of questions:

1) When pinning the head to the shaft is it worth offsetting the shaft hole a bit from the hole in the socket to draw the two together? Or am I asking for unseen trouble in doing so? (Wedging the unwelded socket open perhaps?)

2) The demo talks about unwelded sockets ... thinking Northern Europe ... have there been welded sockets all along, the Anglo-Saxon's just didn't bother? Or in later periods with different tools and techniques did they migrate to a welded socket? (Can you tell I'm trying to anticipate the questions?)

Thanks greatly!

   Timothy Park - Wednesday, 08/17/05 16:33:31 EDT

Tempering Knives

(as long as I'm posting)

I've made a few knives and slowly doing more. To date all I've made have been either single edged or "letter openers".

I use a tempering jig cut from 1.25" sq. x 8" or so stock with a 1/4" (roughly) slot cut the long way about 1/2" deep. This works great for tempering a single edged blade: harden the blade, polish the blade, heat the block, put the blade in the block, quench when the color I want hits the edge.

On a double edged blade (which I haven't tried yet) it doesn't seem like this would work. I plan to experiment this weekend with putting the blade flat on a bar ... but will I get different enough colors and heat top to bottom that I'll have problems?

Is there a better trick?

   Timothy Park - Wednesday, 08/17/05 16:38:58 EDT

Timothy Park; they did spears *both ways*.

You can make a set of tempering tongs with blocks welded on so that you grab the blade by the midline with the heated blocks and let the heat flow.

Eric, some makers clean off a bit of the spine leaving only a thin layer of clay to help pull it in the correct curve---it does result in more of a hardened back that may need drawing though.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/17/05 18:22:27 EDT

Japanese Swords:

I've made exactly zero, so Thomas can correct me if I'm off base, but it seems to me that he temperature of the back of the sword under the clay must be critical. I'd think that if it were at a good forging heat, it would upset some when the front of the sword was quenched, and then contract and curve the sword back as it cooled. Cooler to start with, and this might not happen.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 08/17/05 20:14:19 EDT

Does anyone have comments comparing power hammers? I am looking into purchasing a power hammer and the two that I have looked at are a Striker STC-55 (55#) and a 100# Little Giant (used older model but in good mechanical shape) Since I am in Central Ontario Canada there is a limited selection of hammers, the prices are comparable but the Striker is new. Appreciate some opinions, thanks in advance, David
   David - Wednesday, 08/17/05 21:23:30 EDT

Timothy, You can sometimes control the color if it runs too fast and unequally by wrapping a wet rag around the end of a stick. You can touch the rag on the color that is too speedy, trying to balance the tempering.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/17/05 21:53:37 EDT

The problem WAS the oil quench. I water quenched 2 wakazachi and they turned out perfectly, but I destroyed a tanto by quenching it when it was bright orange(got a little carried away) Thanks for the help!
   Eric Willis - Wednesday, 08/17/05 22:50:14 EDT

..........Nothin' I enjoy more on a hot summer's day, than kickin' back an' quenchin' my ol' wakazachi. (BOG)
   3dogs - Thursday, 08/18/05 03:00:45 EDT

Thomas P. -- thanks on the both ways -- that I was pretty sure of ... more double checking.

Tempering tongs I hadn't heard of until this week here, and that goes on the "things to make this weekend" list.

Frank Turley: wet rag, hunh? that I'll have to try.

Thanks to all for input so far.
   Timothy Park - Thursday, 08/18/05 09:39:35 EDT

To whoever was setting up their forge in suburbia ...

For various reasons I've had to forgo a better shop the last few years and do my smithing with simpler tools in more nomadic shops. Most of the time it's been inner city back yards.

I don't have the same issues as smithing in suburbia but I've done a little there too "custom curtain rods made in your driveway!". Most of the time, in the neighborhoods I've been living in a guy making a bit of noise out back is lost in the background of sirens and other excitement.

The Forge: Gas would be better, I use charcoal in the Summer when people are outside and windows are open more. If I'm caught low on charcoal I'll light with charcoal and then shift to coal to avoid the brimstone. A little sweetgrass on the fire seems to cut the ozone smell of a coal fire too.

Hammer and anvil: keep them quiet and watch for echos. The last time anyone complained about me smithing in an urban environment was out in suburban St. Paul, I forgot to deaden the anvil, and the noise was echoing back and forth between the garage and the complainer's house. I stopped immediately (he worked 3rd shift and needed to sleep) and made him a hose holder.

Be ready to do demos. I do reenactments and demonstrate so I'm kind of used to this, but some aren't. If you're in a neighborhood and doing this, even quietly with little smoke ... you're like the smithy of old: you're a kid magnet. Grown ups too, but they're more shy. Be prepared.

I put up my rope barrier when I'm working to keep folks back. I also give into the inevitable and put the lawn chairs a safe distance from the workplace which encourages folks to watch ... and not be underfoot. I have a couple of easy things to do and make (leaves with the stem turned into a loop) that don't take long. When the neighborhood gang comes by to watch for something to do I knock one out and give it to the best behaved (or smallest) child. They have something to show off at school, and over the last year it's subtly encouraged both good relations with the neighbors and good behavior on the part of the children.

Expect to be asked for help. You've got tools. You're showing the world you know how to use them. Usually people start asking if you can fix things. I've lived in three neighborhoods in Minneapolis since I started smithing. Every spring the ritual is the same: "can you straighten this downspout?" "Mister, can you tighten my bike tire?" "The handle came off my trowel ... is it much trouble ...?"

Yes, it's hard to find concentrated time without distractions for trickier work. A ten year old with a flat tire *will* interupt a forge weld. But the trade off is that the night that I forgot to watch the time and was still hammering past midnight ... no one complained: the kids like me and I fix stuff.
   Timothy Park - Thursday, 08/18/05 10:00:16 EDT

Living in the inner city I once started teaching the leader of the local kids smithing---vandalism problems with my shop and house went to *zero*

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/18/05 10:07:41 EDT

Another thought on Urban Nomadic Blacksmithing:

Keep tabs on your scrap pile!

It means extra hauling, but try to only keep out what you'll use and put it all away. Lock it away.

36" of 1/2" square is a useful piece of stock.

If you're 11 it's a sword. I took a lesson when I spotted two kids "duelling" with pipe sections from a demolition project up the alley ... and the third who wanted to join them who asked me for a piece of stock so he could have a sword too.
   Timothy Park - Thursday, 08/18/05 10:33:10 EDT


Pinning Spear Sockets:

A slight displacement would be a tad more secure; however, such displacements usually occurring quite by accident, especially when replacing the spear shaft. ;-)

Split vs. Closed Sockets:

As Thomas mentions, they were contemporary with each other, but the split socket was pretty much an Anglo-Saxon identifier. Viking spears, for instance, tended to have bigger shafts (over ) and closed sockets; although Ive noticed that some of the sockets were not welded as neatly as others.

I believe the A-S spearheads used these sockets partly for ease of forging, partly out of custom, and partly to make it easier to swap-out broken spear shafts. (Burning a chunk of broken shaft out of the head of the socket is not a good method if you have a tempered blade.) Blade styles changed, but the sockets retained the split configuration pretty much through the whole period.

Other Observations:

Lately Ive been using ~1 X ~3/8 bar to forge spearheads without the faggot weld. The welding is cool in a demonstration, though, and is definitely the way to go with any square-bar stock you may have. The socket gets pretty puny without it.

Please let us know how the demonstration turned out, and post some pictures if you can.

Sunny and warm on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby Autumn Session- 1st and 2nd weekends in November.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 08/18/05 11:48:02 EDT

With a sphere of tensile material keeping the inside at 1.013 bar (1 atmosphere) and then pressurising the out side to 50.65 bar (50 atmosphere) knowing the tensile strength of the material what thickness should the material be.
I need the calculation in maths the different material thickness of variable out side pressures with keeping a constant 1.013bar inside. Can you help.
   Andrew. - Thursday, 08/18/05 14:57:55 EDT


Thank you for the reply ... just enough to help me sort the snarl into a web.

1" x 3/8" stock sounds sensible for "production" ... but I intend to challenge my forge welding ability with a few out of 1/2" or 5/8"

I'll keep you posted on the demonstration. I'm working on pictures. I usually bring my camera ... and get so busy I remember I had it as I'm packing up. Really need to get a digital and offer someone entry fee and grub for working the shutter.

I'd like to have a more "period" rig at these things, but that will come.

   Timothy Park - Thursday, 08/18/05 15:50:09 EDT

I would guess that from the wording of the question that you have asked for help with a homework problem. We usually only help with non-school homework, ie. how do i make this item.
If this is a real design issue and not a school problem, write in with a bit more info and I suspect you will get help.
   ptree - Thursday, 08/18/05 17:39:58 EDT


It seems to me the answer to Andrew's question is infinity. No matter how thick the sphere walls are, they will compress to some extent and increase the pressure inside the sphere.
   Mike B - Thursday, 08/18/05 18:47:54 EDT

Shaping machines vices (vises)

I've just picked up a small 10" stroke shaper but it came without a vice. Will a milling machine vice suffice or do shapers use special heavy duty vices?
   Bob G - Thursday, 08/18/05 20:44:54 EDT

David: On the Striker vs LG question I can't answer it as to relative performance merits. However, I do wonder about the price comparison. I was at a guy's shop today and he showed me his Kuhn (sp?) airhammer of a similar design and size. He noted he had about $15,000 USD in it. Seems high, but... I have seen 100 LB LGs go on eBay for a fraction of that price. Are you sure the LG you are looking at isn't overpriced?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/18/05 21:22:51 EDT

Bob G: Shaper vises are a little heavier than most milling machine vises, HOWEVER a 6" KURT or a reasonably well made copy of a KURT will hold better than any of the vises that came on shapers when they were new. Check with MSC or Enco.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/18/05 22:35:12 EDT

I am taking a welding class and there is a lot of A6 lying around that is used in the class. What is this steel best used for? I'm thinking about a smithing magician. Is this steel good for dies? Blades, tools?
   - JLW - Thursday, 08/18/05 22:59:11 EDT

I have an old 28 pound anvil that I wish to use. The face seems softer than I would expect, and the whole thing is a bit misshapen and sway backed. It may have been in a barn that burnt down. I seem to remember from my distant childhood that a master smith could "dress an anvil' (flatten the face) and then reharden the face and ulimately temper it.
Is this practical? and should I start looking for such a smith?
Thankyou for your attention, Neville Michie
   Neville Michie - Thursday, 08/18/05 23:49:55 EDT

Davids hammer question??? 55# Striker vs 100#LG

What do you want to do with them... The Striker should have more control, being a selfcontained air hammer. But the LG will have MUCH more punch. If the LG is fitted with a brake, and has an old style idler and belt clutch, it could be well mannered enough:-) The Strikers have an Ok reputation, you may have to replace oilers and electrical components, but the hammer should run, and be polite. LG's can be somewhat ill mannered and munch things while you are trying to feather your blows. But if you can get it tuned up and can keep it tuned up, the 100# LG will do more work than the striker. The LG is a more versitile hammer, but it will have a steeper learning curve most likely (lots of people never bother to learn some of the tricks, and still love them:-) With a LG you can adjust the stroke length, and the power of the blow somewhat. And being a mechanical hammer, it will hit harder than the striker anyway, ignoring the fact that it also has a heavier ram. So it will always be easier to forge heavier stock on the LG, but the striker is easier to use, and will draw, and texture, stock in the appropriate size all day long. The Striker will use more electricity by a wide margin.

The other thing to consider is what dies come with both hammers? If you have a few sets of dies for the striker, or if you have a nice big set of industrial flat dies for the LG:-) that makes a big difference. If both of them have just your basic combination die;-(

I REALLY like air hammers, mainly utility style hammers:-) (and I Love STEAM HAMMERS:-), but unless the LG had beastly manners I would be very tempted to get the bigger hammer. You can forge little stock on a little hammer, and you can forge big stock on a big hammer, and if the hammer has good manners you can also forge little stock on a big hammer:-) If you are certain you would rather work with you hammer, and not on it, then you might take a chance that you got one of the good strikers and go with the easier hammer to opperate. (LG lovers need not be offended, really;-)
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 08/19/05 00:25:29 EDT

I have decided to make my own custom u-bolts for a boat trailer project and was wondering what the proper way to temper them was. I am using low carbon 3/8 steel rod.
   Chuck - Friday, 08/19/05 00:47:28 EDT

I have decided to make my own custom u-bolts for a boat trailer project and was wondering what the proper way to temper them would be. I am using low carbon 3/8 steel rod. Do I temper them before or after I complete tapping the threads?
   Chuck - Friday, 08/19/05 00:51:06 EDT

Chuck-- Howcum you don't just get some 3/8 allthread and bend it? Why try to temper low carbon?
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 08/19/05 00:57:25 EDT

Neville M : You may have a cast iron anvil. They were made years ago for light duty use, not for forging.I got one of those from an uncle, it was old when I was a kid. If it has a hardenable steel top plate it would not be cost effective to flatten and heat treat. Unless You plan to do extremely small work, it would be be advisable to find another much larger better condition anvil, as the rule of thumb is to use a hammer about 1/50 of the anvil weight or smaller.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 08/19/05 01:11:17 EDT

JLW: A6 is a good toolsteel for dies, shear blades, punches,etc. It is tougher than A2, but not as wear resistant. Forging temp: 2025f Hardening temp:1525 to 1600f soak for 20 min plus 5 min per inch of thickness. Quench in air. Temper at 350f 1 hour for 59/60 Rc.Or at 700f for 54/55Rc[much tougher]
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 08/19/05 01:32:34 EDT

Miles; I'm wondering if all those threads on allthread wouldn't constitute a bunch of little stress risers, bad enough when rolled around a round axle, but worse when bent 90 degrees, twice, if used with a square axle. I'd use cold rolled round bar, and cut the threads with a die before bending. I should think that 3/8 would bend cold easily enough. The reason I specify cold rolled is that it will be pretty much on spec as far as diameter goes. My tuppence worth.
   3dogs - Friday, 08/19/05 02:14:51 EDT

The bolts will be used on a 14' boat trailer springs with a 14' jon boat. I already bent them by using a homemade jig and heating with a torch. I made some prior to that using all threaded bar but was not happy with it. I suppose I could try to bend them with a press instead and they would be stronger but I really don't know how. They are 1 3/4w x 4 1/2 long.
   Chuck - Friday, 08/19/05 06:39:23 EDT

I just found out that I made a mistake. The instructor said "A36" not 'A6" but in the noise of the shop i misheard. I understand that A36 is a much different beast and has very different and rather dissapointing characteristics. Like not hardening much. Bummer. I was seeing gold lying all over the shop floor.
   - JLW - Friday, 08/19/05 07:30:31 EDT

Neville Michie: If the anvil was in a barn fire it will have very likely annealed and be very soft. I strongly suspect you would have more effort involved in making it serviceable again than it would be worth. If you can e-mail me some photographs (just click on name and send as attachments) I may be able to identify it for you on brand. It may have value to a collector. I have seen some very small, well-known brands sell quite high on eBay. A 14-pound Peter Wright in near mint condition went for over $1,000.

Chuck: Your low carbon rod will not harden enough to make a difference. Just shape and use. If you think strength will be a problem perhaps use two instead of one.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/19/05 07:32:30 EDT


You don't really need to heat treat those U-bolts at all if you didn't quench them from red hot. If you did quench from red hot, they may be a bit brittle and you would be well advised to put them in the oven at 500F for a half hour.

Assuming you made them from standard structural steel (A36), they will have a tensile strength of >35,000 psi in a normalized state, more than enough to keep the springs on your boat trailer.
   vicopper - Friday, 08/19/05 08:37:27 EDT

Spring U-bolts: In general these are made of high strength steels and hardened and tempered to tight specifications (Usualy ASTM B-8 100,000 PSI). The reason is so that the nuts can be tightened enough to stretch so that the bolts do not stretch under load and the nuts work loose. They also use fine threads in this application for the same reason.

On your light duty trailer your low strength bolts may be OK but definitely NOT on motor vehicals. I would not want to be responsible for the libility in either case. Buy these bolts from a reputable supplier that knows what they are for.

   - guru - Friday, 08/19/05 10:08:51 EDT

Hammer Choices: This is a hard one. Generally MORE power is better (up to a point) and the 100 lb. Little Giant is perfect IF in fine tune. However, the fast 55# Striker will have tight guides and better controlability than a worn out Little Giant. The result is that it will be easier to learn to use and probably turn out as much work as the 100# LG. However if you get above 1" square stock or are forging tool steel the 55# will be limiting.

In the recent past folks thought that a 25# LG was a big enough hammer and that a 50# was overkill. . . They did not do much forging under 100 to 200 pound hammers and nobody wanted a 100 pound LG. For this reason 25 to 100 pound hammers all sold for the same price, the 100 pounders ocassionaly for LESS! The MOST productive small shop hammers are in the range of 100 to 200 pounds (45 to 90 kilos). They will cold texture small stock and hot forge hammer size tool steel. With the right dies you can produce a 100% forged picket with details in one heat. These are serious money making sized machines.

Note that the biggest advantage to mechanical hammers is their lower HP requirements (by over half) for the same ram capacity. Where you have limited power the mechanical is the way to go.
   - guru - Friday, 08/19/05 10:28:28 EDT

More about Power Hammers. . There is also nothing wrong with having two or three. Two with the Hofi combo and crown dies and a thid with flat dies for tooling work. . ;) Heaven!

If you think this is greedy or overkill you are wrong. This is a common setup in many shops. Those that put power hammers to the best advantage will use more than one during a SINGLE HEAT! This is efficiency and productivity!

   - guru - Friday, 08/19/05 10:37:23 EDT

I work for a Museum in Dallas, TX. I'm looking for a company who deals in wrought iron (not mild steel) for some reproductions we need to make. Is there a manufacturer in the U.S. that still sells Wrought iron?
Thanks, Kelly
   Kelly Kring - Friday, 08/19/05 11:55:52 EDT

Thought about power hammers, I assume the 55# (lbs ?) Striker is a 25 kgs ram weight - Why not go for a 40 Kgs ram Striker? - I sell the other brand of chinese hammers in the UK (the ones the Guru loves so much!!)- The price difference between the 25 & the 40 Kgs I sell is only GBP 350.00 - the 40 kgs is, in my opinion, the most usefull size. The 25 kgs seem more popular with smiths who have electric supply problems or who do blade work. The Sriker/ Anyang hammers are so compact that if you can fit a 25 kgs one in the shop you should be able to get a 40 kg one in.

Im afraid my experience with mechanical hammers such as the LG is virtually zero, so cant help with the comparison.

Guru, to date no real quality probs with the anyangs, but i give every one a proper hot work trial, and a strip / check prior to dispatch just to be sure!
   John N - Friday, 08/19/05 12:14:13 EDT

John, you are right about the price difference and greater usability. Small hammers are great if all you are going to do is small work but the larger hammer will do large AND small work. The only limitation is with VERY delicate work but in this size range you are talking quite small.

Wrought Iron: Kelly, Wrought is no longer manufactured so you are stuck with recycled stuff. In GB they reforge old wrought into new bar (look up "The Real Wrought Iron Company"). In recent years pure iron has been sold that was very close in working properties to wrought but there is no longer a US dealer.

In reproductions you are much better off with mild steel or pure iron rather than wrought because it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the old work and new. If you DO have reproductions made in wrought be sure they are clearly signed and dated, deeply.
   - guru - Friday, 08/19/05 13:43:04 EDT

Kelly Kring: Contact the blacksmithing group in Houston. They may be able to help you. There is also a guy on eBay now selling old scrap wrought iron.


Pres: Richard Boswell
27923 FM 2978
Magnolia , Texas 77354
281-356-5205 farm
713-562-2043 cell
281-955-2900 work

Ed: David Bailey
116 East Mosley Lane
Huntsville, TX 77340
(409) 295-8913

   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/19/05 14:26:00 EDT

Done anything with the sledging anvil?
   ptree - Friday, 08/19/05 19:14:08 EDT

JLW: Don't despair, the A36 is structural steel. good for all the "structural" parts of whatever You build, There are always plenty of broken axles, old files, and leaf springs to use for the tool steel parts,and except for production work they will be fine.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 08/19/05 21:28:40 EDT

Re: Power hammers
Thanks to Guru, Ken, Fionnbharr and John N for the info, all points were great and helped me verify my gut feeling. The LG comes with several sets of dies and is a work horse. It turns out that the LG is 1500.00 CAD cheaper and has a new motor as well. I think the seller is asking a bit much (4900.00 CAN) on consignment. Oh well, I hate those sale tatics when you feel you are being pushed into buying something when the market of power hammers is limited in your area. I just might have to sell my 585# or is it 699#? Peter Wright Anvil to buy a hammer, just kidding! Thanks again for the feedback!
   David - Friday, 08/19/05 22:44:17 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:05:50 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:05:56 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:05:59 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:06:10 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:06:11 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:06:22 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:06:24 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:06:27 EDT

Thanks for everyones time and advice. I don't think that I could ever learn enough when it come to working with metal. To me it's a life long learning process.
Thank You
Chuck in Omaha, Nebraska
   - Chuck - Saturday, 08/20/05 01:06:29 EDT

David: I don't know the USD/CAD conversion factor. However, in the U.S. $3,000 USD for a good 100 LB LG would be rather reasonable these days. Centaur Forge sells dies for Kuhn Air Hammers in the $200-$400 per die range. Then there is a new motor. In your price evaluation also consider the work required to prepare a base for LG.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/20/05 07:36:29 EDT

A 50 lb Kuhn hammer is about $10,000 from Centaur. A similar sized Striker hammer is a bit less than $5000. Paying $5K for a 100 LG might be reasonable depending on location, condition, and tooling supplied.

   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 08/20/05 08:18:58 EDT

I have found an old exterior cast-iron downspout, about 31/2 feet long, in the shape of a styalized japanese dragon-fish. It's beautiful, and I intend to display it inside on a wall. It's covered with an even coating of red rust. I don't want to paint it. How should I preserve it?
   Phyllis Green - Saturday, 08/20/05 10:03:11 EDT

Phyllis Green: I've heard that if you boil rust in tea, it turns black and stable. After that coat in oil or wax for inside display.
   AwP - Saturday, 08/20/05 10:33:43 EDT

Hello All
Can some one help? I need to find the closest blacksmith group to Lima Ohio. A gentleman who will try to help with my wagon problem wants to know of a bs school near him.
   chimp1 - Saturday, 08/20/05 11:13:27 EDT

chimp1: Somewhere on the NAVIGATE function is a list of blacksmithing groups or you can go to www.abana.org and click on their link for affiliates. Then click on map, then on Ohio. I believe the Southern Ohio Forge & Anvil group, located in Troy, holds beginning blacksmithing classes two nights a week. In addition, they hold the Quad-State Blacksmithing Conference at the Miami County Fairgrounds in Troy (where their shop is located) the last full weekend in September. This is the second largest gathering of those interested in blacksmithing in the world - with the ABANA conferences being first. To receive a registration package you can contact them at P.O. Box 24308, Huber Heights, OH 45424-0308.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/20/05 11:24:35 EDT

Phylis Green: Auto parts stores have a product caLLED "RUST CONVERTER" (There are several brands.) It goes on clear, and gradually turns the red soft rust to a hard, stable black oxide coating that is stable for indoor display without additional coating. I like to wax an object for a final coat, though.

Those cast iron dragon fish downspouts are common in Japan.
   - John Odom - Saturday, 08/20/05 11:44:26 EDT

I have recently started an apprenticeship with the local historical society. There are two master smiths I see them both once a week; but on other days I have the shop to myself, and would like input on a few small beginers projects I can work on. Thank you.
   Cody - Saturday, 08/20/05 12:32:56 EDT

Cody: Maybe start making your own set of tools, starting with easy stuff like chisels and punches.
   AwP - Saturday, 08/20/05 13:07:27 EDT

Cody: On anvilfire's home page click on the link for the iForge projects. You will find a bunch of nifty items there. Two books which are well respected for a beginning smith are: The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer and Practical Projects for the Blacksmith by Ted Tucker. These are carried by some of the forum's advertisers. Just click on the NAVIGATE function and then scroll down to the list of advertisers. Centaur Forge and Piel Tools, in particular, carry a variety of books which may be of interest to you.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/20/05 13:10:46 EDT

S-hooks are an easy project and once you get the hang of it you can practice putting a twist in the middle and forming the ends into a curly q. The first thing I made was i-forge demo 110 which is another good one.
   - Tyler Murch - Saturday, 08/20/05 14:28:18 EDT

Phyllis Green-- Why not just leave it plumb alone? Rust won't hurt anybody and is what iron yearns to be. Let it be happy with itself. If you can't abide that idea, a careful dip in acid will take the rust off. Then wax it. Key word is careful. Too much and you will have the surface deeply etched/textured by the acid. After all, you don't want to be one of those hapless supplicants on Antiques Roadshow who hear the appraiser say, "Gollee, if only you'd left it alone, it would have been worth lebenty jillion dollars, but since you went and had it sandblasted and powder-coated, I have to guess maybe fifteen dollars, tops...."
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 08/20/05 15:45:23 EDT

Phyllis-- for example, a friend just gave me a nifty old samurai sword her daddy brought back from what was then known as Occupied Japan. (He was one of the Occupiers.) Whatever I do, my sword-connoisseur friends advise me, I should not touch the patina of rust under the handle-- it is clear evidence of its great age.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 08/20/05 15:47:54 EDT

Thanks, everyone. I, too want the appearance of age and orignial casting. I took the advice of a local antiques dealer and and gently sandblasted it with walnut shells to remove the loose rust, and then paste-waxed it. It's just as I wanted it. Thanks, everyone! PG
   Phyllis Green - Saturday, 08/20/05 16:37:59 EDT

In surfing eBay I came across listings for step drill bits. Says it will drill holes from 1/4" to 1 3/8" in steps. What drilling applications is it suitable for? One listing is: 5993160656.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/20/05 16:39:29 EDT

Cody, why not ask the master smiths? You've got a real sweet deal going there. If you ask their advice, and take it, you'll probably get a bit of respect from them. That could lead to more help, maybe even a nice mentorship going.

   - Marc - Saturday, 08/20/05 16:52:14 EDT

Im looking for a reliable power hammer that is used and is mechanical. If you could direct me to someone who would sell me it that would be great.

   blacksmither13 - Saturday, 08/20/05 18:38:45 EDT

The sparkys in are shop use them to make holes for conduit. 1/8"thik plate is about all it can handle or you get more than one hole or step.
   chimp1 - Saturday, 08/20/05 19:53:16 EDT

Is there any info here or online, that tells how to make v springs? The "Experts" say forged mainsprings in flintlocks are much better than the cast springs in todays locks. I will try to make a v spring that will not break. thanks, Don
   Don - Saturday, 08/20/05 20:11:41 EDT

Don, I have not made the V springs, but the method is covered well in the 50 minute video, "The Gunsmith of Williamsburg". I don't know if the video is still available from the Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia. I remember that the spring is made of high carbon steel (I would guess like water hardening, W1 drill
rod, which has about 1% carbon content). The gunsmith, Wallaace Gusler, shapes it lengthwise, files to shape, and polishes the inside face of the bend before bending, because you can't get at it later. After bending and filing to his satisfaction, he quenches in oil, I think linseed oil, because he is working in the late 1700s period. To temper, he heats a thick bar red hot in the forge, lays the de-oiled and bare metal spring on the bar, thick side down. When a pale blue temper color (590F)is reached, he removes from the bar. When installed on the gun, if it is "too crisp", he files down the flats carefully to ease it. He says, "It files with reluctance, but you can file it down".
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 08/20/05 21:03:03 EDT

Don, I think Frank just gave you a concise and accurate summary of spring making. I have made a number of springs and also a couple of flintlocks from scratch. For my mainspring, sear and frizzen springs I used pieces cut off of a leaf spring from a pickup truck. At that time the spec from GM for leaf springs was 5160. You are going to break a few along the way; so did the masters......I tended to like flash tempering at the time and for that I would dip the spring in boiled linseed oil, lay it on a hot steel bar and lift the spring off when the linseed oil flashes, or burns. Repeat this 4 or 5 times to assure uniformity. Linseed oil flashes at 600 degrees F.
   Ellen - Saturday, 08/20/05 22:18:01 EDT

Don: I am pretty fond of the Dixie Gun Works catalogue. It is full of all sorts of information, parts and descriptions. I would get one just for the reading value even if you never order anything from them.
   - JLW - Saturday, 08/20/05 23:19:28 EDT

we manufacture ventillated brake disc castings in grey iron. after machining when we finally grind finish the surface we find that minute particles looking like carbon appear on the surface and the customer rejects the castings at this stage. but if you grind further .may be a few microns then it disappears. this happens whenever a new grinding wheel is used. after the wheel is used for some time this does not happen. do you think that this is grinding wheel material getting embedded on the surface of the casting. or is it a casting defect of carbon peelig off. what is the remedy thanks
   neelakantan - Sunday, 08/21/05 03:21:16 EDT

blacksmither13: For a powerhammer source I recommend connecting with the blacksmithing groups in your area and seeing if they can assist you. I am unable to find the list of groups on the NAVIGATE function, but you can also go to www.abana.org, AFFILIATES, click on the red U.S. and then on your and surrounding states. If you are anywhere near SW Ohio, they are usually available at the Quad-State Blacksmithing Conference - see posting above for information.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 08/21/05 03:54:29 EDT

Could someone explain how a plasma cutter works. I have used one but I dont really understand the process.
   - Joe - Sunday, 08/21/05 10:19:04 EDT

Blacksmithing Groups: SEE ABANA-Chapter.com on our pull down list.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/21/05 10:30:28 EDT

Hi, I'm a complete novice. Actually, I am a writer trying to do some research for believability. Somehow my subject has gotten to the art of smithing.
As I was discussing information with some associates, several friends pointed out that you cannot simply set up a forge in the backyard without acquiring permits for the dangerous material and contained fire and noise involved. This sounds reasonable if I were working on having a very busy shoppe, however the idea is a hobbyist who goes out back on occasion to knock out a few novelties when time or inspiration permits.
I know that a simple forge takes up hardly any space, I have seen someone bring one to a public park for demonstrations and it was only around the dimensions of a barbeque grille.
So, my query is, as an individual with perhaps the assistance of a couple friends, are there requirements anywhere in the USA for any particular permits?
I live in Arizona, however the setting I am working with is Washington state.
If there are regulations, are there ways around them, such as changing the methods used or getting a neighbourhood petition signed?
As far as I knew, private citizens were not required to have permits for powertools or blow torches or barbeque pits, so I am curious why there would be any such requirements for smithing, aside from the noise regulations.
If anyone out there is willing to help me with this rather trivial matter, I am most appreciative. I like my stuff to have a bit of realism, and it would be strange if I had an encounter with the police knocking on the door for breaking regulations which simply do not exist.
   MeLee - Sunday, 08/21/05 10:47:20 EDT

Used Power Hammers: These will NOT come to you, you must search for them. They are not plentiful but they can be found. Like anvils, they are where you find them. You will pay more from another blacksmith or a dealer than if you find one yourself. At one time every factory (large and small), blacksmith and school shop had a small power hammer.

Don't limit yourself to a mechanical hammer. The vast majority of these are 75 to 120 years old, WORN OUT and in need of an overhaul if they have not already been repaired. Besides mechanicals there are many fine self contained air hammers out there. The NAZELs are the best followed by Chambersburg and Massie.

The best mechanicals are Fairbanks and Bradley, followed by Beaudry. Little Giants are popular because millions were made but they were the cheapest of the production hammers and sold to millions of farmers and blacksmiths on credit. However, you can get some parts for these. But beware broken dovetails and cracked frames. Repairs can cost as much as a nice new air hammer. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 08/21/05 10:53:59 EDT

Permits: MeLee, As a hobbiest you SHOULD be able to setup a forge without too much problem. Hobbies are usualy exempt from OSHA an EPA regulations. However, it always depends on your neighborhood and neighbors. All it takes is one complaint. In many close suburban neighborhoods you are too close to your neighbors and noise is often the biggest problem. In the country where you have at least 5 acre lots there is usualy few problems.

In the Western US folks are a little hyper about smoke of any kind. . . There are also fire ordinances to watch out for. If you keep a tea pot on your forge you may fall under the "attended cooking fire" exemption. However, with brush fires being a big problem out there you may have tightened ordinances.

A forge burning coal is the easiest to use but makes the most smoke. A coke fire is clean but requires a powered blower to keep going. A charcoal fire is both clean and easy to keep going. The smell is familiar so folks won't complain just from the smoke. Charcoal has been used for millenia and is the oldest "traditional" fuel.

Note that we are talking about "real wood" charcoal, not the molded bricketts. These are mostly sawdust and glue with a little charcoal and bituminous coal and not suitable for forging.

Every location and situation is different. Try your local blacksmithing organization. They will be the most help and be able to give diffinitive answers.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/21/05 11:05:46 EDT

The NEWS: I just finished posting the last of the Uri Hofi edition of the NEWS. There are more photos and details posted as well as a few corrections.

I also visited the Big BLU Hammer Manufacturing the other day. Here is an unprepared photo of Big BLU's ready to ship. There are two more in the paint booth and these don't include those they use in the shop.
Click for details

   - guru - Sunday, 08/21/05 11:19:04 EDT

neelakantan: I am reaching back nearly 30 years when I worked in a cast iron foundry but I think those particle really ARE carbon. Grey iron is grey because of the carbon flakes scattered through the iron. Sometimes, you get a "carbon float" where the carbon starts to float toward the top surface of the casting. If the casting cools fast enough, some of the carbon can be frozen in a layer below the surface. Not all of the carbon,mind you, just some of it. If you machine into this layer, you may not see it because the surface finish is too rough. When you put a finer grind on it, the carbon shows up. It may be possible that the new wheels are also embedding something in the soft castings. I would suggest you sit down with the customer and ask them if they have done a metallurgical analysis of the imperfection. Go to the yellow pages and look for Laboratory Testing. An analysis of the particles can tell you where they come from. This may be harmless or it may be fatal. I hate to see good castings rejected through ignorance but would also hate to see faulty brakes due to poor foundry practice. The problem is curable at the foundy if this is the source.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/21/05 11:47:06 EDT

Thank you for pointing out the chapter list. I wasn't going far enough down the list.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 08/21/05 12:09:46 EDT

You might want to contact one of the AZ smithing groups and speak with them. The members there will more than likely have good ideas of rules etc, as well as meetings you should attend, as you will find watching others smiths and being shown 'the ropes' will increase the rate of learning you have.
here is a link to the AZ group. AZ-Blacksmiths.org
   Ralph - Sunday, 08/21/05 12:32:35 EDT

How can I get started blacksmithing?
   Vincent Tucker - Sunday, 08/21/05 14:28:23 EDT

..Info on a Forged mainspring, thanks, guys..I have failed twice to forge a flintlock mainspring. Stupid question here..is cooling the part in water in the tub between fittings bad??? will it weaken spring steel. I am using a spring from an old hay rake.
   Don - Sunday, 08/21/05 14:51:51 EDT

Vincent Tucker,
You have made the most important first step, and that is desire. The second step is to look in the upper right corner of this page. Click on navigate and go to FAQ's, "getting started", and Read it from start to finish. Then continue reading everything on this site. Go to the libary and check out books on blacksmithing. Also look at ABANA chapter in the navigate list for a chapter near you. Going to chapter meetings and hammer-ins will make the things you have read about clear, and also put you with experienced smiths that can answer questions and show you the tricks of the trade.
Finally, visit Anvilfire regularlly to get anything answered.
Good luck
   ptree - Sunday, 08/21/05 15:03:11 EDT

Joe-- the head throws an arc, creating a puddle of molten steel and compressed air coming in around it blows away and through the kerf.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 08/21/05 16:59:37 EDT


I live in Arizona and I can tell you a coal forge is a worry every time you fire it up in the valley; outside of the valley it is not so critical. If I were you the two things I would do would be to use a propance forge, and get your anvil as quiet as possible. Then get to know your neighbors and perhaps make them some small things. That should take care of any problems before they arise.

The AABA is a great organization, wonderful newsletter, lots of information. We had a forge building workshop last year and 7 of us built nice propane forges for $75 total cost (Excluding tank and hose).

You can also buy a great propane forge from Gordon Williams, he can be reached through Pieh Tool Co., an advertiser here, and I paid $350 ish for mine. He also teaches classes, and they are good. He makes a living smithing

Don, I don't think quenching the spring in water after filing is going to make any differnce. Some of the critical aspects of the spring include the geometry. The long leaf which bears on the tumbler has a smooth taper all the way to the tumbler. Perhaps you need to try a different steel, also, are you normalizing the spring after forging? It needs to be normalized, anealed, hardened (linseed oil quench), and properly tempered. The cast springs do not have the same geometry as the forged springs, they are a bit chunkier......Persistence is the key here, just like forge welding. If you can't find any 5160, then I would try 0-1, starting with round stock.

Hang in there, it can be done. If a klutz like me can do it, anyone can.
   Ellen - Sunday, 08/21/05 17:08:54 EDT

Pickling Question: I have been re-reading New Edge of the Anvil during my forced absence from my shop, and I was intrigued by his comments on p 121 about using a pickling solution to remove scale instead of a wire wheel. The two solutions which appealed to me were hydrocholoric acid (diluted to 18%), and Oxalic acid.

The hydrochloric acid will attack the base metal if left in to long, the oxalic acid won't. Both metheds need to part to be neutralized in a solution of baking soda and water to remove the acid salts.

Does anyone here have experience with this technique? What sort of container to put the pickling solution in? Shelf life? Hazard issues?

Thanks guys....
   Ellen - Sunday, 08/21/05 17:20:00 EDT

I've been in the market for a power hammer and need the acquire the purchase price (and slip it past the wife). In the mean time I've researched every one out there. As an engineer, blacksmith, artist my choice hands down is the 150# Phoenix air hammer for size, weight, price, air efficiency, customer feed back and overall proformance. Yet I never hear any mention of them in this column. Am I missing something? I need to be enlightened.
   - Mani - Sunday, 08/21/05 18:17:07 EDT

Ellen: The Hydrochloric acid is available as "muratic Acid" from the hardware store. That form is approx 36% so dilute 1 to 1. It is dangerous, a mess to work with and the fumes will ruin everything in the shop. It is fast, though.

I am not aware of a current, cheap source of oxalic acid. It is toxic on ingestion. It does an excellent job with no big safety problems and no fumes. It is slow.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 08/21/05 18:17:25 EDT

I've been in the market for a power hammer and need the acquire the purchase price (and slip it past the wife). In the mean time I've researched every one out there. As an engineer, blacksmith, artist my choice hands down is the 150# Phoenix air hammer for size, weight, price, air efficiency, customer feed back and overall proformance. Yet I never hear any mention of them in this column. Am I missing something? I need to be enlightened.
   Mani - Sunday, 08/21/05 18:18:34 EDT

Neelakantan: Since a real metalurgist has answered, I will reeenforce what he said. I am a microscopist. A microscopic examination would reveal to a competent observer whether the particles are carbon or abrasive. The lab would need both a new wheel with the problem and a used one that seemed ok, also good and bad parts.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 08/21/05 18:20:46 EDT

Sorry about the double posting. I did'nt mean to stutter
   Mani - Sunday, 08/21/05 18:24:42 EDT

TOm Stovall has been using a stong phosphoric acid to descale parts. Also it is now phosphated and mostly ready for paint. ( smile) Tom is often found in the 'Pub'
   Ralph - Sunday, 08/21/05 18:40:11 EDT

Jock, you've done a fine job of presenting Hofi, Big Blu, and B2 Design Power Hammer School. Congratulations.

   - John Larson - Sunday, 08/21/05 18:47:16 EDT

Ellen..on Forged springs...After shaping. I am heating to a cherry red, quench in transmission oil. Then placed on lead, melt the lead, hold spring under for about 5 min, 625 F. I actually made one, that worked, but did not fit. Im goofups are in the forging.
   Don - Sunday, 08/21/05 19:07:11 EDT

Thx for info on hydrocholic acid. I was thinking it was nasty.

Oxalic acid available from chemistrystore dot com for $13.30
for 7 #. How slow is it?

Ralph, thx, I'll read up some more on phosphoric acid....

Don, are your springes breaking, or deforming? If you have made one that works, and tested it, then you should be there....
   Ellen - Sunday, 08/21/05 19:25:45 EDT

i have a blower that is hand operated that has chapion forge and blower co. lancaster pa. can you provide me with any information on this ?
   - acd17toy - Sunday, 08/21/05 21:15:26 EDT


If the "spots" show up predictably with a new grinding wheel, perhaps the wheel supplier would be willing to offer an opinion. Many of them are so willing.
   - Tom H - Sunday, 08/21/05 21:55:48 EDT

Pickleing works by the acid creeping through the micro fissures in the scale. The acid reacts with the steel, and part of the reaction releases hydrogen. the hydrogen gas blows the scale off. The faster the pickle, the faster the hydrogen is released. Good ventalation to keep the hydrogen to a level below the lower explosion limit is a good thing when using a fast pickle like muratic or phosphoric. We used a phosphoric pickle after an alkaline wash then a rinse, on all our steel forged parts at the valve shop. Worked quick, then a rinse, then a iron phosphate conversion coat bath, then a rinse in soft water, then a dip in a air dry oil. All the tanks were steam heated to speed up the process. The wastes were run through a waste treatment plant to comply with the clean water act. Pretty nasty stuff. Everything was 316L stainless. The L grade allows the welds to stand up to the acid if made from the 316L as well.
I would be tempted to try vinigar as it is a mild acid.
   ptree - Sunday, 08/21/05 22:23:11 EDT

Can you please tell me which heats quicker a conventional oven or a fan forced oven?
   Phillip Jensen - Sunday, 08/21/05 23:29:11 EDT

Joe-Plasma Cutter: Check out Howstuffworks.com or Google "Plasma Cuatter" for a deatiled explanation of plasma cutters. Simple technology with cool results. I love mine.
   dief - Monday, 08/22/05 02:17:53 EDT

Oven? Huh? Or are you talking forge? Except for atmospheric gas forges, all forges have an air source via some sort of fan. Oh I forgot that the electric enduction forges used by heavy industry ( actually not forges but smelters etc) do not need fan induced air.
   Ralph - Monday, 08/22/05 02:21:47 EDT

Oxalic acid is sold at hardware stores as "Wood Bleach" in the paint dept. The price is higher than what You see on the internet, but the Quantity is much smaller, so You could give it a try for 5 or 6 bucks.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/22/05 02:22:17 EDT

neelakantan: Are You dressing the new wheel before grinding the first few parts? If so, how?
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/22/05 02:36:15 EDT

Don: After forging, let the spring cool slowly, bend, file, grind etc. to get the shape right while it is soft, then do the heat treat.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/22/05 02:40:50 EDT

Phillip J: The folks at Jen Air say the fan in the oven makes it heat quicker & more evenly, the electric heat treat furnaces use a fan for the same reason.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/22/05 02:46:41 EDT

Phoenix Hammers: Mani, Tom has been making hammers a long time. He started making the original 75 pound Bull in 1997, expanded, had business troubles with partners, then started another business after his partners wrecked the first one. Currently the prices on the Phoenix hammers are far below what they should be for the amount of steel in them. The only problem with them is that Tom is under capitalized (as many of us are) and hammers are built to order.

Big BLU The reason you see so much about Big BLU here is that they PROMOTE! They also have inventory (Need ten hammers tomarrow? They have them, see photo several posts above.) They take hammers to shows all over the country (SOFA Quadstate next). They helped establish the Power Hammer School at B² Design (see our NEWS Editions 35 and 39) and invited me to take the course as well as paying my hotel bills there. They have worked closely with Uri Hofi to come up the the most flexible and productive die designs available on ANY hammer. Last summer they brought Uri Hofi over to demonstrate the BigBLU at the ABANA conference as well as providing a six man support team to put on the demo. ABANA had NOTHING to do with what was reported as the best demo at the conference. Big BLU footed all the bills (ABANA charges admission for every member of every vender crew member including demonstators) as well as my admission to the conference. Next spring Big BLU is bringing Hofi back for their NC conference and the NOMMA MetalFab conference. Big BLU will also be at the CSI confernece at Ken Scharabok's farm in Tennessee next spring. We would love to bring Uri Hofi in but that is way out of our budget. . .

   - guru - Monday, 08/22/05 10:20:22 EDT

Ellen plain old vinegar will remove scale if you let it soak overnight then you can brush it off with a scrub brush---no power needed!

Any acid in the shop can lead to stuff rusting; saw a machinist once who used an acid bath to clean stuff up and left it in his basement over a long weekend---*all* of the micrometers, etc were rusted when he returned *not* a happy camper...

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/22/05 10:23:57 EDT

Getting Started: Vincent Tucker, see our article by the same title as your question. Links are on the home page, top and bottom of this page and on the FAQ's page.

For the newby the best two places to start on anvilfire after the Getting Started article are the Bookshelf book review page and the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page. Then we have the iForge page with hundreds of step by step how-to projects. These should keep you busy for a year or two.
   - guru - Monday, 08/22/05 10:28:35 EDT

Cleaning with Acid: In the British wire wheel repair shop (yeah I did THAT too!) we had a large barrel of deruster called "Oakite". Worked great on rusty wheels. Had them spotless in about half an hour.

I made the mistake of putting a drill index with a complete set of 1/16th to 1/2" drills in the Oakite and leaving them for 30 minutes. . . All the heavy black oxide coating (part of the lubricity system of good bits) and all the edges were removed! Ruined every one.. .

TEST these kinds of products and do not use on chemicaly finished tools or precision devices.
   - guru - Monday, 08/22/05 10:41:00 EDT

Dates of the CSI Conference (Hammer-in) at my farm will be April 20-21, 2006. To be open to anyone, whether a CSI member or not. As noted above, BIG BLUE will be the featured demonstration with hands-on availability. We'll probably put my coal forge and anvil under a tree for impromptu demonstrations. Primitive camping next to a spring run to be available. Pond for kids to fish in. Lots and lots of room for parking and tail-gate selling. Registration fee not yet set, but will be pay at the door. KISS concept to apply. Am hoping for attendees to donate a piece of hand-forged work for a silent auction. All proceeds above a port-a-john and event insurance will go to the anvilfire general working fund. My farm is about 70 miles west of Nashville and about 12 miles north of I-40. Several motels in general area and Loretta Lynn's campgrounds (about four miles south) should be open by then. This is intended to be a laid-back event and I'm hoping someone will do an anvil shoot.

One of my neighbors, Hunter Pilkinton, has The World of Tools Museum. It is likely the largest private tool collection in the U.S. Something like 18,000 individual items with not many exact duplicates. He is in declining health but if he is up to it, will try to make the museum available for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon.

This may become an annual event.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 08/22/05 11:42:41 EDT

Acid-- probably does not need stating in this sophisticated forum, but just in case-- do NOT store acid that has any metal particles in it in a stoppered glass or other vessel. The acid keeps digesting the metal, creating gas. The result is a ticking bomb. High velocity glass shrapnel is nasty stuff. And left unstoppered, the acid fumes, as others have said, will wreck tools. What to do? A high-security well-ventilated container for all the hazmat, outdoors.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/22/05 12:22:56 EDT

Flintlock mainsprings: The main trick to these is in the fitting. What I do is forge the long arm first, making sure to get the hook that engages the tumbler right before working on the part above the bend. The second trick is to leave a wide flange where the pivot pin is to be, so that after you make the bend you don't have to feel bad if the pin doesn't line up with the hole in the plate. Make the bend, THEN file the pin.

If you are dipping in water to cool it between steps in the fitting, make sure you aren't getting it too hot first. I had a vision of you quenching from red heat, and that would be bad. If it just gets too hot to hold onto that's not too bad. As others have said, get it shaped and fitted, then do the harden and temper thing. Make sure there are no scratches or sharp corners that can cause stress risers during heat treatment. You might try triple-normalizing to refine the grain before hardening. This means take the spring up to hardening temp and let it cool in still air three times, then do the hardening. I usually temper with a propane torch fitted with a flame spreader to get the band and the long leg of the spring uniformly blue, leaving the hook less hot and thus harder. You want the long leg to flex evenly over its whole length, but you don't want the hook to spring out on you. The actual bend shouldn't move much, if at all. If the spring is too stiff after tempering (too hard to cock the hammer), don't temper it softer. Carefully grind steel off the bottom of the long leg to ease the tension, and don't get it hotter than you can hold on to bare-fingered. It's okay to keep dipping it in water as you do this.

Hay rake spring tines, as recommended by Hacker Martin in Foxfire 5, were made of something like 1095. This is tricky stuff to work with. 5160 is much more forgiving. I've never played with 0-1, but I can tell you that W-2 is a bear to make springs out of too! As in I can't do it.
   Alan-L - Monday, 08/22/05 12:27:35 EDT


My experience is mostly in Minneapolis, MN, but a smithing buddy ran into some trouble with a neighbor a few years back and researched the codes and regulations for this municipality.

*Legally* there were only two restrictions on running a forge with coal or charcoal:

1) "City noise ordinance" -- things have to be quiet by 9:30 p.m. in the city of Minneapolis.
2) Zoning. At the point that you are no longer a hobby (and that can be a matter of interpretation) a blacksmith here becomes "light industrial" and cannot work in a residential zone.

Minneapolis tends to be pretty strict about codes and zones. I'm sure other parts of the nation will vary. Esp. places with air quality problems and fire hazards. They may not be so finicky here in the land of 10,000 Lakes "and one *really BIG swamp*".

My direct experience has been that the more "inner city" a neighborhood I've been in the fewer problems I've had. If your neighbors get to the point where they're checking codes and calling in complaints you've got other problems.

As you're writing a story ... keep in mind that while city codes are often open to interpretation -- is it a hobby or a business? -- most "enforcement" is pretty low key. My friend never went to court or a hearing ... the local police brought the complaints to my friend's attention and suggested ways to work things out with the neighbor, they also pointed out that "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down" -- which we took to mean that if we couldn't get the neighbor's happy we should shut it down before we were shut down.

On the postive side, the great loophole of this craft in some cities is that it's also "art". A "shop" falls under industrial and commercial codes, but a "studio" in some municipalities does not have the same restrictions. In fact some cities will specifically lift restrictions on studios in certain targeted neighborhoods to encourage artists to move in. (Established fact: artists and crafts people will move to rough neighborhoods and encourage regentrification. Many cities take advantage of this phenomena.)

Hope that helps with your story.

   Timothy - Monday, 08/22/05 12:34:01 EDT

Jock I follow the forum daily and and enjoy all the good information within, doing a great job. I hate to make my first post a corrective one but in the post about millions of little giant power hammers in fact they only made somewhere around twenty thousand total with no telling how many of those going to scrap and only a fraction of what are left still in service.Production numbers referenced from Richard R. Kern The Little Giant Power Hammer book Hope I didn't steep on any toes.
   moozarkblksmth - Monday, 08/22/05 13:01:51 EDT

i'm in new york city for a couple of weeks with the navy and would like to visit some blacksmith shops. can't seem to find a listing with names and addresses. can anyone help. thank you in advance.
   kirt - Monday, 08/22/05 13:06:40 EDT

Too Many LG's. . : Whoops. . (thinking of anvils). Still there are far more LG's than others.
   - guru - Monday, 08/22/05 13:46:42 EDT

Kirt, Look under "Ironworks" or fences and rails. They are there, just not advertizing as "blacksmiths".
   - guru - Monday, 08/22/05 13:48:40 EDT


Nice post. Being historically rural, we even have an exception for blacksmith's shops; but I really like the "artist studio" provisions you mentioned in some cities (as long as the other artists don't comoplain). Something to keep in mind if the icecaps ever melt and I have to move from Southern Maryland.

Acid Bath:

I'll second Thomas's posting: Pat Fulcher keeps a few gallons of white vinegar in a lidded plastic tub for descaling; it's not fast, but it's not too nasty either.

Looks nice out, but I haven't been able to escape today.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 08/22/05 14:35:46 EDT

A forge heats metal for forging, yes? So the large heating devices that heat billets for forging are forges,Yes? So why arn't the induction heaters that get my steel to 2250F for forging a forge? :)
We have two styles of forges in the shop, electric(induction) and gas fueled. both make the steel hot, but one does it very,very fast and uniformly. On our biggest product, the 5.5" bars, the gas fueled forge heats about 200 bars a shift, the induction about 700.
Most industry has moved to induction due to the speed, lower scaling, and uniform heating.
   ptree - Monday, 08/22/05 15:10:16 EDT

I had a student who set up a forge just north of OSU in "college town". He evidently smoked out a neighbor---lots of fans in windows instead of air conditioning in that part of town---and the city came down on him telling him he needed a permit from the EPA to burn coal. Being a Stubborn Cuss he called up the EPA to see about getting one. First thing they asked was "how much coal were you burning in a year"---answer: "a couple of hunderd"---"tons???" "no pounds". when they got off the floor from laughing they told him not to bother them until he was in above the 100 ton range. He got them to put it in writing and took it to the city who then told him he needed a burning permit, filed 10 working days before he fired up and a $25 fee *each* *time*. Meanwhile I had been forging in the same city for about a decade with no trouble, no permit. I did have a short time where someone would call the fire department on me; but it was when I was cooking in my smoker and after the 3rd or 4th time the fire department rolled up to see me fixing dinner the calls stopped---I was told that the "neighbor" was informed that they would be billed for false alarms if they continued as cooking was an exception to the
"No fumes or smoke detectable off the property" part of the local code.

Now we did have a building across the alley from me catch on fire once---wiring problem and some of the neighbors said they didn't call the fire department cause they thought it was my forge---we had a talk about the difference between coal smoke and wood smoke...

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/22/05 15:16:57 EDT

Thanks for all the good information, it sounds like white vinegar is the way to go. Don't want a toxic waste dump in my shop!

Alan, thx for the spring info, you articulated the technique well.
   Ellen - Monday, 08/22/05 18:19:38 EDT

Vinegar and Toxic Waste: We had this discussion many years ago and most of you were not here or forgot. . . Heavy metals (generaly any kind of metal, copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, tin) disolved in ANY acid is toxic waste. It does not matter if the acid comes from green apples or burning sulphur. . . acid is acid and when metals are disolved in them they very easily penetrate the skin, are ingested, poison ground water. . . small creatures.

Now. . there are quantities to consider and strength of the solution ("the solution to pollution is dilution" . .har har). In the end you will have to decide for yourself but even scrap iron has been declared "toxic waste" by the US EPA due to its lead content that eventualy leaches into the soil as the iron rusts. . .

Generaly the least "toxic" methods of descaling are to use mechanical means, wire brushes, tumblers or vibratory finishers. One of the cleanest methods is dry ice grit blasting which leaves no contaminated grit, only the residue removed. However the energy cost of these methods is also a form of "pollution" and should be considered as part of the big picture. . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/22/05 18:48:36 EDT

I've been having a heck of a time with blades made of O-1 forged from 1/2" round stock showing cracks in one side not all the way through or on the edges that ruin the blade. I've worked blades in 10 series, 5160 from springs, old leaf springs & old mower blades without this problem. Any ideas?
   Jim Buhr - Monday, 08/22/05 18:55:58 EDT

Jim Buhr, O1 has a limited forging range. You may be forging too cold. Also, you should not normalize 01, because to a degree, it will harden in air, and it will have kind of an unstable structure.

01 should be forged from 1850-1950F Bright Orange, down to 1500F, a Bright Cherry Red. You should't forge it below 1500F, meaning NO medium cherry, NO low cherry, NO blood red.

When through forging, 01 can be annealed by slow cooling from 1450F, a Medium Cherry Red approaching a Bright Cherry Red.

If you're unsure of temperatures, get some tempilstiks (temperature crayons) to guide you.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 08/22/05 19:42:13 EDT

Jim, As Frank noted this is a picky tool steel. Many of the ANSI letter series tool steels have carbon content near or above 1% making them very high carbon steels. 01 is a manganese tool stel with tungsten and vanadium. Carbon Content can vary from 0.85% to 1%. Its best feature is size stability when heat treated. Machine shops use it to make finished parts with critical dimensions. Where W series tools steels may grow .0075" per inch when hardened O series steels only grown .0005 per inch when hardened. It is also more stable when properly heat treated. Its those picky little aloying additions. . .

The annealing rate is a maximum of 40°F per hour and is possible without a heat treating oven.
   - guru - Monday, 08/22/05 21:25:23 EDT

I want to make a large gate that is semicircular when seen in elevation. I was thinking a good way to hinge it would be to use a large pivot pin into the ground on the bottom,and some kind of pivot pin directly above it along the arc of the gate frame. I was looking for someone that makes something like that but so far have not found anyone. I would appreciate anyone throwing light on this issue, design, sources, home-made brainstorms, applicable auto parts--(differential? I am not very mechanically astute) I would perhaps be able to get a machine shop to make me a pin that sits on some kind of a race that has ball or cylindrical bearings, and hire an engineer to tell me how big it needs to be to deal with the forces of a 20 foot span weighing, say, 4,000 pounds?
   - brian kennedy - Tuesday, 08/23/05 00:54:30 EDT

Brian K: Radial ball bearings top& bottom with a ball thrust bearing for the verticle load will easily cary the load, but if this is an outdoor aplication, rust will be a problem, posibly a BIG problem depending on climate where installed if You use ordinary steel ball bearings. If enclosed to keep out rain, It could probably work. Who is going to engineer the rest of the gate?
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/23/05 03:47:22 EDT

hi i am making a spear head but i notice that you need an anvil and hot flame were would i get both of those? and i am pritty young so i don't no much about this stuff so guru please tell me what i need to no?.
   jacob - Tuesday, 08/23/05 04:41:35 EDT

Can I make a holdfasts for my anvil and woodwroking bench from railroad spikes?
   - Paul Esposito - Tuesday, 08/23/05 08:31:10 EDT

Question: vermiculite/perlite ... annealing.

I can't find vermiculite anymore because it's a health hazard. After six garden shops and hardware stores I finally got someone to not look blank when I asked "What do folks use instead?" and I walked out with a bag of perlite. It seems to work the same -- I fill a bucket with it, put hot metal in, it cools slowly.

While all seems well, I just thought I'd be proactive and ask if anyone knows of any problems with perlite used for this purpose? (Asside from the fact that it seems to stick to the metal a little.) Fumes? Change to the metal?

So far I notice nothing, but with all the toxic warnings on things lately I'll be surprised if this stuff is all right.

Atli: You're welcome. I'd rather be rural ... but we all must make sacrifices. If the caps melt I'll try to save some higher ground for you (and I'll look for the square rigged canoe).
   Timothy - Tuesday, 08/23/05 09:34:40 EDT

Metal cleaning and wastes.
As the guru notes heavy metals disolved in acidic wastes are toxic. The federal Clean Water Act requires industry to pretreat to remove these metals down to a very clean effluent level prior to discharging to a sewer, ETC. At my old shop we ran a phosphate conversion coating line that used acids to convert the surface of the steel to a black iron phosphate surface. As there were stainless steel parts in the assemblies. chrome and nickel were in the effluent from the process. We used the useful trick of looking at the precipatation curve for metals to find that chrome and nickel will precipatate from the liquid at elevated Ph. We raised the Ph from the incoming level of say 1 to a Ph of around 7 to 8. We then added a polymer flocculant, gently stirred, sent the liquid to a clarrifier and then the now cleaned effluent to the sewer. The flocculant caused the metal precipates to drop out in the clarifier which then went to a filter press and on to a sludge dryer. The dryed sludge could then go to a "special waste" landfill.
A complicated, expensive process.
I would suggest dry removal. Even in large quantities, the waste can go direct to a Title-V special waste landfill, and costs a bunch less. In small quantities, unless you are working alloyed steel, you basically have iron ore.
   ptree - Tuesday, 08/23/05 09:53:32 EDT


I've been using good old wood ash. While the subject is open, anyone see any problems with ash as annealing insulation? The price was right :-)
   - Marc - Tuesday, 08/23/05 10:19:32 EDT

who'd of thunk.

there is a perlite.net, where the following info was published:

"Additional applications include its use as an abrasive in soaps, cleaners, and polishes; and a variety of foundry applications utilizing perlite's insulating properties and high heat resistance. This same heat resistant property is taken advantage of when perlite is used in the manufacture of refractory bricks, mortars, and pipe insulation."

So, probably reasonably safe for your stuff, the water should already be boiled out of it.

btw, Timothy, you in the Guild of Metalsmiths here in the lovely twin cities?
   Escher - Tuesday, 08/23/05 10:28:19 EDT

Hold Fasts from Spiles: Paul, Yes, however spikes are a little short and you will find that there is not much material when bent. For the wood working bench if you draw out the shank to 1/2" diameter it will lengthen about 30%.

Holdfasts and bench dogs generaly rely on the normal springyness of steel and do not require spring steels. Mild steel works fine.

Cold Worked Spear Head: Jacob, Its time to use your head and some ingenuity. If you work thin enough steel it can be worked cold in a vise or on any heavy iron object. A socketed spear head would be made by maing the spear head with half the socket. Then the other half of the socket would be made from a smaller piece of steel. The small piece would have fouror five tabs that fit into slots in the spear head and then were bent. You may want to bend over a small edge on the socket edges to reinforce it.

To come up with patterns I would make these pieces first from poster board or the the thin paperboard that comes in shirts and other clothing. When making the patterns remember that the steel will stretch more than the cardboard when forming the head side socket.

The most difficult part in the metal will be cutting around the tabs. Use a small cold chisel to cut out the part. Try to find some metal softer than steel to put under the work when cutting with a chisel. This prevents damage to the chisel AND your work surface (vise or anvil). Aluminium or brass both work well.

This will make a serviceable spear head. It will not withstand being thrown into hard targets but then neither do forged spear or arrow heads. Bales of hay or excelsior are used to prevent damaging target points.

This same design could be brazed or penny welded at the seams and around the bent tabs. A kitchen stove top gets hot enough for this. Be sure to use a steel plate or WASTE cast iron frying pan to protect the stove. See iForge demo #33 for instructions for making a penny weld and our glossary for a clear description.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/23/05 10:40:25 EDT

Jacob: Go to the NAVIGATE anvilfire box and click to call up the list. Look for the one titled FAQs. On it look for the one on Getting Started in Blacksmithing. Lots and lots of good advice there. Also read the other topics of interest. At the bottom of the list also use the one for ABANA groups. See if there is one in your general area. Almost always good folks willing to go well out of their way to help a novice.

Paul Esposito: Yes and no. Likely a RR spike could be used as a woodworking bench dog, but it is likely to mar wood edges. For an anvil it simply isn't long enough and the RR spike shaft is only 5/8" square, while most anvils have hardy holes of 3/4" or larger. Holdfasts (dogs) usually have curved necks to hold the wood flat from the top with perhaps a bit of spring action. For a anvil holdfast you might consider a standard tire iron shaped into a type of upside down U with one leg (with the bulb) about half the length of the other. You will have to play with the bends to get it to work properly. That is, it should lock down when you tap the bend above the pritchel hole and then pop loose when you hit the back of the same bend.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 08/23/05 10:47:23 EDT

Vermiculite: The asbestoes scare with vermiculite had to do with ONE mine and ONE supplier and even then the amount of asbestoes was microscopic. In fact asbestoes or the collection of minerals that comprise asbestoes are found almost everywhere. . .

Vermiculite can be bought in bulk from McMaster-Carr.

Perlite is an expanded obsidian and is 75% silica. So if you are as hysterical about a very low possibility of silicosis (a MUCH more common problem than asbestosis) then don't use the perlite, or sand, or go to the beach or handle sheetrock. . . .

Perlite and vermiculite are not the best annealing mediums. The simplest is wood ash and works very well. The next is quick lime. Bagged plaster of Paris is less hazardous than the quick lime and will probably work as well. However, plaster can harden from moisture absorbed from the air. Some folks also use pieces of kaowool blanket.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/23/05 11:23:07 EDT

www.vermiculite.net For information about vermiculite, the fear mongering and misinformation, and the very important uses of vermiculite such as in fireproofing and making lightweight concrete.

Note that the average density of vermiculite is about the same as 6PCF Kaowool and sometimes higher.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/23/05 11:32:30 EDT

I'm not sure if it's annealing, or normalizing,
but for what it's worth I usualy toss anything I want soft in the shop heater at the end of the day and dig it out of the ashes in the morning before relighting it (hopefuly.............) file this in the works for me department.
   JimG - Tuesday, 08/23/05 11:35:51 EDT

Big Gates: The problem is not usualy the hinge or pivot which must be capable of withstanding loads and overloads (like a rioting crowd) but the foundation which the load is transfered to. This must have enough mass to balance the gate in all directions (open closed and in between).

If the center of the gate is 6 feet from the hinge then you need 6 x Wt counterweight at 1 foot from the hinge or 3 x at 2 feet (actualy the distances should be to the centers of gravity of each). You will find that concrete at about 140 pounds per cubic foot takes a BIG hole to balance two tons. . .

The alternative method is to balance the gate over the supporting structure under the drive. This uses the strength of the materials instead of a balancing mass. It also assumes that you have control of the entire design including under the drive and up the columns (if they exist).

We used this method on a pair of very harge gates a friend of mine built. An I-beam with the gate vertical anchor points attached was placed in the concrete footing. This made a big U shape that reinforced the masonry columns. At the corner two beams extended backwards under where the gates would hang open. Very stout, will NEVER sag. The only thing critical was the soil loading and in most of Virginia this is not much of a problem.

If you are not into the mechanics or engineering of the thing then you had better have someone look into the entire design from the ground up. You will need to provide detail drawings of what you invision and then meticulously follow the plans your engineer returns.

Strangly enough this is an area where architectural or civil engineers are not required to be called in but probably should be. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/23/05 13:26:21 EDT

Escher: Was in the Guild, I, unfortunately, have had to let my membership lapse as I've been in hard times job-wise. I was for several years and would help with the Fall Beginner's Workshops (which is where most folks in the Guild know me from). As soon as I have the membership $ I'll be back: that's a recommendation to any folks reading this from MN who aren't in the Guild.

Thanks for the url to the perlite site.

I've used vermiculite in the past, and just plain dirt, both work well enough. *I'm* not worried about the asbestos factor with vermiculite, but I needed an annealing medium a year ago and had no source for ash or dirt at the time (the trials of being an urban, vagabond smith) and the garden shops didn't have any. I hit on the perlite by accident and tried it. It seems to be fine, but the question occurred to me so I posed it.

Thanks for your input guru.

Thanks, All.

   Timothy - Tuesday, 08/23/05 13:43:23 EDT

Trying to finish my EZ burner (using propane), will I need a back-flow preventer between the flex hose and burner?
   oktwodogs - Tuesday, 08/23/05 15:08:04 EDT

Picky Alloys;
Thanks much guys. I thought I may have been working too hot, but I've noticed a tendency to "hit it once more " before reheat. Thanks again.
   Jim Buhr - Tuesday, 08/23/05 15:36:13 EDT

Backflow: Oktwodogs, No. Unlike a two gas system there is no pressure to cause back flow and flashback. I use the check valves on my propane regulator because I also use the tank and regulator with an oxy-fuel torch.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/23/05 16:12:05 EDT

Freon tank forge with EZ Burner:
To add to my question above, regarding a back flow preventer I did not mention I have the Fisher 67CH regulator. Does this model have a built-in back flow preventer?

I have looked in the "Store" for Koawool and ITC-100, could not find the order information. Do I need to contact via phone?

   - oktwodogs - Tuesday, 08/23/05 16:22:40 EDT


   - oktwodogs - Tuesday, 08/23/05 16:23:38 EDT

If you are worried about asbestos or silicosis, or other lung issues from inhaled particles, the best protection is to simply not smoke. Smoking destroys the bodies defenses against inhaled fibers and particles. I have seen studies rating the increase of asbestos from smoking from 50 times to 500 times.

While asbestos, a fiberous magnesium silicate does occur naturally, and in many parts of the world, to say it occurs almost everywhere is a bit overblown. It can be found in thousands of products, and has been used for several thousand years. There has been a lot of hysteria, mostly fueled by the lawsuits. In the mid 80's, the philosphy was to rip it out. Many schools were stripped of perfectly sound insulation, and fibers were released that would not have been with simple maintnance. The current program is to maintain asbestos in good condition, and leave it alone where possible.
Having worked in a very large boiler and valve shop that used tons of asbestos every year for about a hundred years, I am sure that I have inhaled my share, as I worked in that location for 15 years.
Life is full of choices, many will affect your health, many won't. Where possible I chose to avoid breathing anything besides good clean air. That is why I wear a respirator when around dust and fume.
   ptree - Tuesday, 08/23/05 21:57:47 EDT

I need to find a finish to put on my work. I don't want to paint it. I want to be able to see the metal. Some of it is indoor items and some of it is outdoors. I've been using paste wax because my Ace didn't have parafin or bee's. I thought it would work but after 1 weak it's got some rust on it. Would a clear varnish work? Thank you for any help.
   Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 08/23/05 22:07:06 EDT

Woodstove anealing : What Jim G described is how My Dad and I did it at home also. Put it into a dying fire or [better]protect from carbon loss/gain with stainless foil or an enclosure packed with a nutral compound.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/23/05 22:24:15 EDT

Hello, I use a Buffalo table forge with detached blower, Detached in that the blower is on an adjustable arm hanging off the side of the table, Does not use a solid manifold pipe leading to the tuyere/ashgate.
I currently use a 4" aluminium flex hose like what vents out clothes dryers or bathroom fans. Works fine except it gets crunched up easy and does not survive well the windstorm in the back of my trailer. I know I can use heavier stuff like steel sprialwrap metal engine exhaust tubing. But was curious how the OEM was set-up.
Thanks alot.
   - Hkan - Tuesday, 08/23/05 23:19:59 EDT

Coal forge firepot : I have been wondering how a firepot fabricated from 18-8 SS plate would hold up. I am pretty sure it would work better than one made from A36, but would it work as well as cast iron?
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/23/05 23:33:38 EDT

Tyler, Try Permalac laquer by Peacock Labs. I've used it outside on steel & copper with good results.
   dief - Wednesday, 08/24/05 00:21:50 EDT

Tyler Murch-- I too don't like the look of painted steel. I like to galvanize it, then patina with "Galvano Rust" from Surfin in LA Ca. Fantastic-looking varigated rust-like finish. I leave it un-clear-coated and it lasts for years, and so it is easy to touch up anytime. They also make a black, a copper, and a "rainbow brown" which is sort of a bronze look. (These last two I have found problematic to apply successfully in a brush-on situation, they may be bettter for an immersion situation.)
   Brian Kennedy - Wednesday, 08/24/05 00:27:27 EDT

Dave, I have an entire portable forge made from 3/8 stainless that after a bunch of good size fires shows very little use. The blower is a Canedy hand crank on a stand with a 4" stainless flex hose about 4' long. Picture is available for asking. By the way, it is heavy.
   Jerry - Wednesday, 08/24/05 00:45:54 EDT

I am guessing but most likely a canvas or leather tube(pipe)
Why not take the dryer vent tube off in transit? It is what I used to do
   Ralph - Wednesday, 08/24/05 00:53:21 EDT

To anyone who might know,

I've got a piece that I'm working on, made of stainless (304 I think, it's like 18ga sheet). I want to do an etched image on one surface of it, by means of a transfer from a photocopy. Can anyone suggest an etchant for this? If it were regular steel I'd use ferric chloride, but I don't know if it'll work. I've heard that hydrochloric acid will work on stainless, though I'd have to passivate afterwards (not a problem). Suggestions?

Cool and cloudy in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 08/24/05 06:31:23 EDT

Buffalo Forge with arm mounted blower" Hkan, This forge had a cast iron elbow at the forge and a short pipe with flanges. The original blower had four studs that held the pipe, the second elbow attached to the first and had a flange at the firepot and an air gate at the flanged pipe joint. The reason for the adjustment on the arms where the blower attaches is that the elbows and forge were not very accurately constructed and to bolt it all together solid required a compensation point. Some of these forges also had an elbow that attached the blower intake to a pre heat chamber on the forge hood.

The auto exhust flex pipe tends to rust out very quickly and is only a temporary fix (on autos OR forges). I would continue to use the aluminium if you want to use flex.

For durability I would fabricate a steel duct made from 1/8" (3mm) plate or flat bar. The OEM pipe was about 3.5" (90 mm) diameter.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/24/05 08:18:34 EDT

T. Gold,

Ferric chloride will work. You'll want to passivate with citric acid after etching. Don't plan on getting more than a couple thousandths depth though, as stainless is designed to be resistant to acids. HCl probably will be a disappointment as an etchant, unless you use concentrated stuff which is pretty nasty.

Oxalic acid will also work, and is probably not too much more toxic that FeCl. I've read somewhere that picric acid will do the job, but that stuff is way toxic and can become explosive, as well. All in all, I'd stick with the FeCl.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/24/05 08:40:42 EDT

Asbestoes Hysteria: I was working in a nuclear plant dismanteling the primary coolant pumps. The old gaskets are wound inconel cheverons with asbestoes fill. In the middle of pulling the pump an IDIOT jumps over the glaring (practicaly glowing with radiation) 44" flange opening to cut and bag the gasket. The IDIOT recieved his allowable lifetime radiation dosage in those moments. Stoping the move at this point also exposed a half dozen other workers to much more radiation than necessary as well. IF the IDIOT had waited a few minutes a sheild plug would have been put into place and the radiation reduced greatly. The gasket should have been removed later in the shielding we provided where there would have only been very minour radiation exposure.

The danger of the radiation at these levels is REAL, especialy if you are young or making babies at this point in your life. The worker, a member of the health physics department and asbestoes abatement team was highly educated and trained. But asbestoes hysteria had been drummed into him his whole life.

The old gaskets in the above application are being replaced with graphite filled gaskets due to asbestoes hysteria. The replacements are so delicate that 8 our of 10 do not survive delivery. The graphite does not stick to the inconel chevrons like the asbestoes and often falls out. This is a primary system gasket on a highly contaminated water system (disolved nuclear fuel and byproducts). The result of leaking gaskets is not only a contamination mess and loss of coolant but the boriated water EATS the carbon steel pump and pressure vessel studs holding the whole mess together. PLEASE, PLEASE give me asbestoes gaskets!

We (the US) are about to go back into the nuclear power business. Hopefully there are some cool heads in charge that understand how to weigh risks and benefits using some common sense. But I am afraid there will be far too many young engineers raised on asbestoes hysteria and the "normalcy" of Microsnot systems that have to be rebooted once a day to function properly. . .

Need radiation shielding? Throw away that toxic lead. Steel of the same mass works just as well. But several generations brought up on "lead shorts" jokes goes for the lead every time, including engineers that SHOULD know better. Common sense. . something there is far to little of.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/24/05 09:22:29 EDT

Stainless Forges: Where you need to be carefull with stainless is it has a high coeficient of expansion. That means you need loose and flexible fits if you put a stainless fire pot in a carbon steel forge.

Other problems with stainless include galling threads and fits. Stainless likes to weld to other stainless under pressure. When this occurs in a thread galling occurs. When using bolts it is best to use carbon steel in threaded stainless holes. If your forge has a clinker breaker it needs to have a loose fit and a high temperature lubricant like Never-Seize is suggested.

The advantage to a stainless forge is that it will withstand the corrosive ash and atmosphere produced by coal fires. The acidic ash EATS carbon steel and cast iron.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/24/05 09:29:12 EDT

Vicopper, I will try both if I can and report back. I may be able to get my hands on some oxalic acid. Citric acid passivation is exactly what I planned. Grin.

Cloudy and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 08/24/05 13:27:11 EDT

True lead is not a 'safe' sheilding, but I know I liked the idea of lead sheilding on my boat. as the sheilding of steel would have been much thicker. AS so would have reduced the 'people' space in the boat. Perhap steel would be good on a non-moblie plant.
But now I have this question. What alloy of steel would be best. Remember that the steel WILL become irradiated and so become 'radioactive' yet another rad waste product to be disposed of. Lead as far as I know does not become radioactive. It can be contaminated, but it will only be surface contamination.
AS you said thought needs to be given to our choices.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 08/24/05 15:05:11 EDT

Ralph, The exception to using lead is in tight spaces. In a couple small pumps the "man-can" was an SS shell filled with lead due to the limited space. For other purposes generaly A-36 plate is used. If the shielding is to be in the neutron radiation zone for extended periods then it wants to be free of copper and other trace metals. Then it needs to be a special grade. "Hot" iron isotopes have a very short half life and can be classified as "clean" in a few years.

The problem with lead is that large pieces are not self supporting and end up requiring a significant steel structure to support it. In much nuclear work it is sandwiched between stainless plates.

My problem is the folks at commercial plants that think lead any time they think shielding. They buy and handle TONS of lead shot putting it into steel shells and in the process spilling a lot of pellets (which do not have the efficiency of poured lead. For the amount of work and expense (lead is EXPENSIVE) that goes into these steel and lead shells solid steel ones can be made just as easily and at less expense. Often these are built for shipping parts that are relatively low level radiation. When these casks are no longer needed they are a REAL mess to scrap. . . Solid steel ones would just be deconed and go to steel scrap.

Our equipment for working on primary coolant contaminated parts had 5 to 6" of steel shielding an 10" thick lead glass windows. Tooling operated through snug fitting steped holes. The whole let us dissasemble, remachine and reassemble dirty pumps that had been in use for over 10 years with most of the workers getting less than background radiation.

In general the service industry hated our equipment because it used less people by very large numbers. The heavy hitters in the industry like using people as sponges because the more people they use up the more money they make. This flys in the face of all that is right but they play by the monetary golden rule.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/24/05 16:34:14 EDT

For one style of propane forge I make I use 10" driveway culvert. I have been burning in the 1 1/4" holes for the gas tube receivers. However, I would like to find another method as the culvert is galvanized and my hole burning is not all that great. The grooves of the culvert make it essentially impossible to use a large drill bit. Would a conduct knock-out punch be strong enough to cut through the culvert sides? Would a step-drill bit be an alternative? I would like to keep a solution low-tech.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/24/05 16:44:23 EDT

Ken, I've used a hole saw. You have to pick an appropriate place to drill, based on the pitch of corrugations and the diameter of the hole saw, since the maximum depth of cut is small.

   - John Odom - Wednesday, 08/24/05 16:53:50 EDT

Graphite gaskets. Good Guru, I must differ on the grafite filler for gaskets. Perhaps the gaskets you worked with were substandard. We built millions and millions of valves with Grafoil filled spiral wound gaskets, and I never had a gasket fall apart, and we even used vibratory feeders to feed them into an automatic assembly machine, with no damage.
In 1981, I started work in the test lab of the worlds largest maker of forged steel valves and fittings, including nuclear rated valves 4" and under. One of the very first test projects was to find a replacement for asbestos gaskets. I spent about 2 manyears of my and the testers time trying every gasket material we could find. All were the spiral wound gaskets used in many applications including pipe flanges. Without fail, the one true standout in performance was GRAFOIL. This is an expanded graphite product made by Union Carbide.This filler was wound into gaskets by about every major maker. Also tested many other fillers. Tested stainless, Inconel, Hastalloy, and Monel wraps. Had just as good a pressure resistantce, far superior in high temp exposure, and is not affected by the cheleation agents then popular in boiler feed water, that disolves asbestos. We adopted Grafoil, as did every maker in the industry. And it killed about 40% of the world market for valves. Asbestos spiral wound gaskets and packings are fibers with binders. The spiral wounds used latex, and the packings were pretty much fiber rope packed with graphite and tallow. Steam at working temps used in the industrys we supplied burned out the fillers and the packings and gaskets leaked steam, usually in a year or so. These leaks were so pervasive that there was an entire industry to inject cement type products into the leaking joints to allow the valve to stay in service untill the next scheduled shutdown. About 40% of the MRO valves sold were for replacements for asbestos gasket/packing leakers.I have been in the refineries on cool days and seen the steam plumes. We did a refinery in Cattletsburg Ky, that was full of these leakers, and the grafoil was a good solution. It is still THE gasket of choice. In an elevated temp service, especially toxic media, give me GRAFOIL. I work in another industry now due to the reduction in the world market for valves, due to many factors including the reduction of replacements needed due to leaks. And if you want to put a nuke plant in my backyard, I want the gaskets filled with GRAFOIL.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/24/05 17:04:24 EDT

I have received a request from a past customer in France to perhaps make him some knife vises. He sent me photographs of one he has. Interesting concept, not terribly technical, but somewhat beyond my capabilities. If someone with extensive knowledge of knife finishing will e-mail me, I'll forward his e-mail to them to see if they know of something on the U.S. market which is similar. If there is nothing like it on the U.S. market now, perhaps it might be an item for someone with a small fabrication shop to make and sell.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/24/05 18:31:30 EDT

Conduit KO punches: Ken, I doubt it. They are designed for a max of the 14ga steel in heavy panels and are pushed at the normal 16ga. Culvert is heavier. This kind of punch system could be made to work but would need a custom punch and die made to fit the gorogated surface.

I would use a hole saw as John Odom suggested. I would be sure to use it in a heavy drill press and provide a support system for the inside of the tube (wood?). Fixturing so things do not move can be more important than the tooling.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/24/05 19:44:45 EDT

hey guru i had a question for you. I was rereading the fly press demo and a question acured to me, when you punch(or slit,ect.) what keeps the punch in the fly press from sticking in the metal like a regular punch does? Is there some kind of hold down so u can just turn the wheel the other way? just curious. John S
   - John S - Wednesday, 08/24/05 20:50:35 EDT

Does anyone have any suggestions for preventing rusting of tools, tongs, anvils, hardware etc. It is very humid during the summer months and I would like to keep hardware from rusting or minimize it. I have heard that linseed oil is good, any comments? thanks in advance.
   Plato - Wednesday, 08/24/05 21:45:37 EDT

Hi just starting out in blacksmithing
figured id start with a forge
in makeing a homemade one whats the differences in useing
a brake drum or a tire rim for the fire pot?
   BoB ThAK - Wednesday, 08/24/05 22:41:48 EDT


I live on a small island in the middle of the Caribbean, so I know a bit about tools rusting. I've found that the best substance for rust-proofing tools that are infrequently used is plain old Vaseline. It is basically the same stuff as the famous Cosmoline, just cleaned up a bit for medical use. Your tools won't know the difference, though.

For tools that are used frequently, I just wipe off any sweat or crud and spritz them with some WD-40 and wipe with a rag. That leaves a thin film that will protect for a week or so, but doesn't gum up like a thicker film might do.

My machinist's squares, dividers, etc all get a wipe with a rag that has been oiled with a high quality non-detergent light motor oil. Don't use regular detergent oils, as these are designed to absorb water, and wil do so from the air.

For steel that just sits around the shop waiting to be used, I find that the mill scale is a pretty good protectant if not scratched. Stuff that sits a long time I'll usually squirt with a thin coat of varnish. If it has to sit outdoors for any length of time, I prep it properly and give it a coat of cold galvanizing 90% zinc paint. Before forging, I just wet a rag with lacquer thinner and wipe the cold galv off the steel.

Hope this helps you some.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/24/05 23:14:10 EDT

Rust As VIc points out there is different levels of protection for different tools. Some rust preventitives are not suitable for some items. Precision tools need thin non hardening oils. Large machines often need the thick drying coatings such as made by CRC on the bare unused sections of slides and ways. This can usualy be softened with some kerosene and the machine used full travel.

For blacksmithing tools paint works well. I use the graphite pimented barbeque black on tongs and oil the bits when the paint burns off. If you want to keep an anvil looking pretty a coat of gloss black on all but the working surfaces. I paint my cones and swage blocks with the same high temp paint. These low use tools will rust severly because they get little attention. Tools like punches, chisels and fullers must be oiled or waxed.

Someone said "rust never sleeps". It is a continous battle and in the shop you never win. There are too many surfaces that must be bare in use or the heat removes any protectant. All you can do is be sure you keep lots of oil, WD-40 and paint handy.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/25/05 08:00:59 EDT

Punching with a Flypress: Look closely at the tooling. When punching there is a plate the punch goes through that when the punch is raised strips the work off the punch. This is called a "stripper plate". This is a standard part in almost all mechanical punching systems.

In thin work the stripper plate is clamped against the work with springs to hold it flat while punching. In this case it becomes a pressure shoe (which doubles as a striper plate).

These methods are discussed in our flypress and press tooling iForge demos.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/25/05 08:09:26 EDT

Rust protection: How about Slipit? It is a cross between vaseline and a wax. Non silicone stuff, goes on like grease and when wiped, leaves a thin coating. I use it on my table saw, which is what it was made for. Less resistance on pushing boards thru, but also provides rust protection. I also use it on my drill press and band saws. It does work, and a little goes a long ways.
   Bob H - Thursday, 08/25/05 08:52:38 EDT

Bob, That sounds like good stuff. I've used Boeshield, from the Boeing Aircraft folks, but they're really proud of the stuff and it is very difficult to get it shipped down here, as it is an aerosol. Where can I get the Slipit, and is it non-aerosol?
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/25/05 11:38:15 EDT

Thank you for comments on the culvert drilling. Sounds like a bi-metal hole drill might work, so have ordered one to play with. If nothing else, it might clearly outline hole for follow-on torch cutting.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/25/05 12:51:45 EDT


When you're using a hole saw in relatively thin stock such as that culvert, there's a little trick that will make things go better. After you drill the pilot hole, usually 1/4", remove the pilot bit from the hole saw and replace it with a piece of plain 1/4" drill rod. That thin stock tends to wallow out if you leave the bit flutes in the hole, and the drill rod avoids that. You can also just reverse the bit, leaving the plain shank out, but you risk possible breakage a bit more that way.
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/25/05 15:40:40 EDT

vicooper: Thank you for that tip. I generally make up these bodies six at a time. I can drill the pilot holes separately and then use the hole saw bit without a guide drill.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/25/05 17:12:32 EDT

Ken Scharabok:

Regarding the knife vise, one simple version that has worked for me is a pipe clamp vise (shown in Blade Mag. September 2005 issue page 60.

I modified the vise using a 1" bottom plate and a 1/2" clamp plate (I used aluminum for both parts). Then I used a bowlling ball set in a discarded car rotar. I mounted a plate to the ball (1/4" aluminum works good), then mounted the vise as shown using the bottom base mounted to the 1/4" plate. This arrangement allows me to turn the "knife" to any angle while I do the finish work.
   oktwodogs - Thursday, 08/25/05 17:49:02 EDT

oktwodogs: I'm not a great describer. Think of a piece of 2" x 12" tubing in which two pieces of board are tightened via a top bolt. Tubing is welded hortizonal on round plate with a bolt in the middle so it can turn 360 degrees. Bolt goes through an L-frame back plate. Frame base can rotate 360 degrees when bolted via center bolt to a bench top. To use some portion of the knife blade to be worked on is slid between the two pieces of wood and the top bolt tightened. Blade than then be positioned at desired work angle. Does anyone know of something like this sold commercially in the U.S.? I can cobble something together for him, but would like to check for commercial availability first.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/25/05 18:02:48 EDT

Ken Scharbok:

I know one knife maker that uses the PanaVise. This is sold commercially through most knife supply houses. One I know handles PanaVise is Jantz Supply, 1-800-351-8900; www.knifemaking.com.
   oktwodogs - Thursday, 08/25/05 18:58:14 EDT

Slipit is a soft paste wax available from woodworker stores/catalogs. I wonder if Boeshield is available in pint or quart cans? Its solvent merely carries its wax. Both products work on table tops to deter rust.
   - John Larson - Thursday, 08/25/05 19:33:07 EDT

Rust never sleeps that's for sure. Today I took a half hour lunch break. When I got back to my mill the shiny die I was making had already rusted. Right now I'm just using water in the coolant system without any rust-detering chemicals.
   - John Larson - Thursday, 08/25/05 19:37:25 EDT

Look at the Emmert Patternmaker's vise:
I use mine for woodworking and holding small metal work that needs an odd position.

Mine is antique. Modern repros are available.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 08/25/05 20:26:57 EDT


Take a look at these links and tell me if one of them is what you're talking about.



Either one would be pretty easy to make. Koval Knife Supply sells one ready-made, but seems right proud of it:

   vicopper - Thursday, 08/25/05 21:25:48 EDT

Alternatives to Boeshield: Cosmoline "Rust Veto" , LPS#3, Corosion Block or Lanocote are some other products to try,CRC offers some also. vicoper:Lanocote comes as a non-aerosol, check with the marine trades people on Your island.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/25/05 21:32:21 EDT

Ken S : What You need for the pilot in Your hole saw is called a "drill blank" This is a hardened ground and polished M2 highspeed steel rod exactly like a jobber's length drill, only without the flutes or point. Order from MSC, Enco,etc.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/25/05 21:37:26 EDT

Thanks Dave, I'll check it out.
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/25/05 23:20:41 EDT

Lucky me ! I bought(sinfully cheap)a PW anvil thats about 200lb, aside from a chip off the heel, The face is good but the horn is beaten down alot,the cutting table is awfully chewed up too, But table is not what bothers me.
Estimating by looking at comparable PWs and anvils in general of this size I think the horn is about 2" shorter than it should be.
Is it feasable to build it back up by welding in another piece and fillet weld the crap out of the joint?
If I do this, know to preheat and all, But would preheat and subsequent welding heat be likely to damage the face?
M.v.h. Sven
   - Sven - Friday, 08/26/05 00:35:36 EDT

Sven leave it alone!!!!!!!
Even if the horn is shorter than original it will still work as is, so why risk ruining a good useable anvil?
   Ralph - Friday, 08/26/05 01:07:26 EDT

Thanks Ralph,
You are right the bulk of the anvil is perfectly serviceable and would not want it buggered up, But I want a proper horn for alot of stuff I like to make.
If its a decent chance I can fix it to what I need, I am willing to have a go of it, But if the overall opinion is "a sure fire way to bugger the rest of it", I expect I would not.
I should have written more clearly that the horn is not exactly 'beaten down', but appears that about 2" broke off or something and its a flat-ish stump thats left. Its been peened so much its impossible to tell if it really broke or may have been sawed off for some purpose.
   - Sven - Friday, 08/26/05 02:23:38 EDT

Well we are leaving for Houston on Monday. Hope we get some usable info from MD ANderson. In any case will be nice to get some good food again other than what we make ourselves.
   Ralph - Friday, 08/26/05 02:56:35 EDT


It probably happened, in a rather violent moment, after the first time the original owner jabbed himself in the 'nads with that pointy ol' horn.(grin)

I'm gonna back Ralph up on this one. Leave it be, less you risk screwing up the rest of the anvil. You can use a cone mandrel hardie to round up things that require a small radius, and it sounds like the horn is still useable for the larger stuff. My personal experience is that I don't use that part of the horn much anyway.


Good luck! MD Anderson brought my father-in-law through a seemingly impossible one several years ago. He's clean now and still kickin' strong and stubborn. They've got some good docs down there.

   eander4 - Friday, 08/26/05 03:51:24 EDT

vicooper: You have solved the mystery. The photographs he sent were some of the same ones from stoneandsteel. That site noted it was based on a commercial model, which appears to be the Koval Knives one ($175). I now see he had apparently been surfing the net, saw the stoneandsteel adaptation and is asking if I can reproduce five for him with the same functionality. Doing so would push my capabilities and abilities. Anyone with a machine shop capability want to take on the order? I would think $100 each would be a fair price (60% of commercial/professional model).

Sven: The official position of the forum is to not restore anvils as more harm than good can be done. If you want my personal option you can e-mail me by just clicking on my name for the form.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/26/05 07:23:47 EDT

I would like to make some cones, say 2" across the base and 6" high, of steel. I have heard of a machine called a Pullmax that is good for such an operation as cone making. How long would it take to make such a cone on one? What other ways to form cones that could be reasonably quick? Forge them, or turn them on a lathe? I am reluctant to cast them because I would like to weld on them.
Secondly, I would like to produce tapered, threaded forms, starting at say 2" at the base and tapering to 1/2" at the top, spanning 4 feet long. Say 6 threads per inch with the threads being 1/2 " deep at the beginning and becoming progressively shallower as the diameter became closer to 1/2 at the other end of the bar. Can this be done on a lathe? Or is this something to be ordered from someone with special thread-cutting machinery?

   brian kennedy - Friday, 08/26/05 08:32:50 EDT

Actually it would be even better if the threading could increase in threads-per-inch as the bar got thinner so that by the time the bar was 1/2" diameter the threads were 14-18 or whatever NC count is for that diameter...
   brian kennedy - Friday, 08/26/05 08:38:39 EDT

Thanks for all the opinions on rust prevention, now what about rust removal. In the past I have used a angle grinder with a wire wheel, works great but I can chew through the good ones in half a day. Without getting into a lot of abrasives does anyone have experience with acid pickling to remove rust and how effective it is. I'll just note that most of this is surface rust and not deep rust. If anybody has any voodoo formulas that won't toxify me I would appreciate your feedback. Thanks, Plato
   Plato - Friday, 08/26/05 09:04:43 EDT

Apparently I'm on a roll with questions.

Here is a *very important* project I need help with and I am completely out of ideas.

My housemate and Mother of two "fine young gentlemen" (read "nearly deliquents in my opinion but hope springs eternal ...) stops out to what passes for my shop two nights back with a sauce pan ... one of the young gentlemen had left it on the burner with the burner on and a plastic spoon in the pot.

You all, of course, know the result. She had pulled the remains out while it was still soft and lost two brillos trying to get the gunk off the bottom of the pan. Now there is a black, scortched, thin layer of plastic fairly uniformly covering the bottom of the pan.

"You're a blacksmith, you can fix it can't you? It's my favorite sauce pan and I don't have the money to replace it ..." (Has the gravity of this problem become sufficiently apparent to all?)

So ... it's about a 1.5 to 2 quart sauce pan. Made out of some kind of stainless steel. I can find no visible marks to tell me what it is, but it doesn't rust so ... it has a plastic handle. No copper.

I tried the Milwaukee 4" side grinder with a wire wheel, but that can just touch about a 1.5" spot in the middle of the bottom. The gunk laughs at steel wool and synthetic steel wool. It seems to defy most attempts at scraping with a chisel and when the chisel does bite, given the size of the pot I don't have much control and could easily gouge the bottom.

I'm considering trying to gently heat it but don't know that that wouldn't just give me tacky gummy gunk and no good way to get it out. I've considered the propane torch and trying to burn it out.

I tried the cup brush on a drill but don't seem to get enough rpms to move the plastic.

Sandblasting comes to mind ... and I think my smithin' buddy has a compressor ... but I don't.

Any suggestions on this chestnut?

   Timothy - Friday, 08/26/05 09:51:27 EDT

Where can I find a small exhaust fan to use in the hood over my forge? I already burned up one standard duty fan, probably because the intake air is around 160 F or so.
   - nick - Friday, 08/26/05 10:06:02 EDT

Where can I find a small exhaust fan for the hood over my forge? The intake air runs around 160 degrees F.
   - nick - Friday, 08/26/05 10:07:43 EDT

Where can I find a small exhaust fan to use in the hood over my forge? I already burned up one standard duty fan, probably because the intake air is around 160 F or so.
   - nick - Friday, 08/26/05 10:08:02 EDT

Where can I find a small exhaust fan for the hood over my forge? The intake air temp. is around 160F.
   nick - Friday, 08/26/05 10:10:21 EDT

Where can I find a small exhaust fan for the hood over my forge? The intake air temp. is around 160F.
   nick - Friday, 08/26/05 10:12:52 EDT

Sorry. Got a problem here.
   nick - Friday, 08/26/05 10:13:47 EDT

Thank you to all for the help on a knifemaker's vise for the guy in France. With vicooper's help, I was able to find three U.S. commercial sources for him. Looks like same unit, but at $80, $90 or $100.

Just a comment. He purchased five propane forges from me. I listed them on customs form as such. French customs is holding them as apparently the word 'propane' triggered some alarm. He said they would have gone through if I had listed them as gas forges.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/26/05 10:16:59 EDT

sven, curious, why do you think that you would need to preheat the horn to weld it? it sounds plenty functional. i dont think that the heat from welding the horn would creep into the face at all, let alone enough to change the hardness. if it is the cosmetic appearance of the anvil that is the issue, there is a high chance that you will be less pleased by modifying it.
   - aka - Friday, 08/26/05 10:28:49 EDT

Sven, I'm a guessing that the horn on a PW will most likely be wrought iron and low carbon wrought iron at that. Wrought iron is not the easiest to weld without practice.

Preheat not needed, the anvil *face* is a high carbon tempered steel and if I was attempting this feat I would immerse the anvil on it's heel so that only the horn protruded from the water to make sure that the face didn't get too hot.

My take is that you can build a hardy tool that would be better for small stuff---a quick and dirty method is to take a spud wrench and forge the wrench part to fit the hardy hole, bend the handle 90 deg and you are good to go! Small pointy ended anvil horns can get a bit too intimate as has been mentioned before and "Hey you want to see my smithing scar?" is not a good pickup line...

Nick, hoods over forges usually don't work very well; take a look for side draft chimneys for forging. If you want to use a forced draft you are most likely to have the best luck having a seperate duct for the fan and have it Y'd into the main stack to push air up and drag the smoke up as it goes.

Timothy, the answer is easy---*move*!

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/26/05 11:19:46 EDT

Thomas: Working on the move already. And planning to surf a few Good Wills this weekend for a replacement sauce pan.
   Timothy - Friday, 08/26/05 11:23:22 EDT

Timothy's chestnut: Yup, buy her a new pan would be my first option. Did you try freezing the pan for a couple hours to see if it makes the plastic more brittle. Might chip out easier. If you have a drill press you could put that cup wheel in and a handfull of sand might do it. Or get a rubber sanding disk for that drill and sand it out.
   Gronk - Friday, 08/26/05 11:51:15 EDT

Plastic spoon. If you can scrape off most of the material you could wash off the residue with acetone. But unless this is a fine piece of cookware, t'aint worth it IMO.
   adam - Friday, 08/26/05 11:58:05 EDT

Timothy - I would heat the adhered plastic 'till it carbonized. Remove the plastic handle or dunk the handle in water & heat the gunk with a torch. Stand up wind, 'cause some plastics give off small amounts of cyanide compounds when they burn. Scrub out with a stainless steel scrubbie then soak in vinegar overnight to passivate.

Then throw away all the plastic spoons & replace with stainless or wood.

Caveat: I've rescued cast iron pans from melted on plastic, not stainless, but the above procedure should (theoretically) work.
   John Lowther - Friday, 08/26/05 12:12:54 EDT

Greetings everyone. I'm just getting started in blacksmithing and stumbled upon an old 300# bridge anvil for $250.00. One leg (under the hardy hole)is cracked. Can this be repaired? Should I worry about it? Anvil has a good rebound. Also, can anyone tell me anything about this type of anvil? I'm having trouble finding general info. Thanks!
   Bill S. - Friday, 08/26/05 12:39:58 EDT

if I repeat if you can afford to buy her one that is the same then you can do so and you keep the sauce pan for your use at the forge. Good for heating water for some quenching operations, such as fire strikers ( AKA steels) Some folks make various and sundry 'witches brews' for rust prevention etc.
I have several pots and pans that I salvaged for a few cents each at yard sales. for this type of use.
   Ralph - Friday, 08/26/05 12:48:50 EDT

Was wondering if you have any ideas who and where an anvil hand stamped with 200 A115 244?? Any ideas what this stamp stands for???
   Mandy - Friday, 08/26/05 13:17:56 EDT

Bill S.: Chances are the bridge anvil is one-piece cast iron. Cast iron welding techniques would likely work, but is also likely to be far more complicated and costly than it warrants. Anvils in America by Richard Postman has a short section on bridge anvils. There were called bridge from their shape, not their usage. "They were mainly in railroad forges and repair shops as a type of anvil bending fixture. The follow allowed certain bends to be made on railroad quipment that were difficult to perform on a large smithing anvil."

Mandy: Please provide more information on anvil. Are the numbers on the front foot? If so, would imply a serial number and some Hay-Buddens did start with an A. However, they didn't go up into the six digits starting with an A. Do you see any markings on the side with the horn to the right? Is there a depression in the bottom? If so, what shape.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/26/05 13:44:52 EDT

Pilot Drill on Hole saws: Another alternative to the drill and pilot is to use a long length bit. Some of these come with short fulted sections and long shanks. Once you have drilled through with the fluted end the plain part should do the guiding. Requires less tool changes.

Cutting Oil John L., The water soluable cutting oil that makes a white coolant is both better for cutting and reduces rust. I use it in my surface grinder and everything stays shiney and clean for days. However, after use the machine needs to be cleaned and oiled as usual. The water soluable oil often removes existing oil applied for protection.

Horn Length: This varied over time. Early horns were often short and stumpy and as materials improved styles also changed and they got longer. There was also the fact that for slender work or tight curves most early shops had stake anvils and there was no need for a long slender horn on the heavier forging anvil other than convienience. Horns often get beat up and mushroomed on the end (abuse by non-smiths) but this rarely changes the length enough to warrent repair.
   - guru - Friday, 08/26/05 14:52:26 EDT

brian kennedy: This is the 'Poor Boy' method for making hardy mandrels/cones. Start with a 2" round blank of mild steel. 4" should give you about 7 - 7 1/2" finished. Centered in the bottom drill in a 3/4" hole a good 1" deep. Use a large drill bit, say over 1" and chamfer out the top for a depression. Drive in a 3/4" rod 3-4" long and weld around the depression. This locks the 3/4" into the blank and gives you a handle for holding with 3/4" round stock tongs. Now powerhammer or striker forge the blank into the mandrel, remembering to go from round to tapered square and then back to round. If you use a striker, I would recommend marking an X on the sweet spot of the anvil and training them to always hit over that spot. You can tell them light, medium or heavy as they lift the hammer for the next blow. You then work the blank over the sweet spot as if you were using a powerhammer. Keep a high heat in the blank to reduce the forging required. If you have a 1" hardy hole, just put a piece of 1" thick wall tubing over the 3/4" rod and weld the tubing to the 3/4" round at the bottom. You can finish by lathing, but it is just as easy to hold the mandrel in a vise at a slight downward angle and then use a large angle grinder to smooth it out.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/26/05 15:01:19 EDT

Tapering Progressive Threads: Brian,

1) a Pullmax is a sheet metal working machine.
2) Solid cones can be cast, forged or machined. The fastest least expensive way in low quantity is to forge them IF you have a power hammer of 100 pounds up. In high quantity the least expensive way is to cast them. IF you only need one or two and you do not have a power hammer then turning on a lathe is the best way (since lathes are more common than power hammers). If it needs to be smoth and accurate you may want to machine a forging.

3) Threading using a consistent thread with variable depth is possible on any Engine Lathe with taper attachment. Using a taper different than the surface taper would produce a contantly varying thread pitch. However, changing the thread pitch would require a CNC lathe with a VERY special control program and I am not sure that CNC languages normaly allow for this operation. It would require a top notch CNC programmer.

Note that most taper attachment will NOT produce a cone of 2" diameter by 6" long. The most they are usualy good for is about 1" per foot (per side) which would be a 2" included taper per foot.
   - guru - Friday, 08/26/05 15:17:30 EDT

Correction, "Using a taper different than the surface taper would produce a contantly varying thread DEPTH" (not pitch).

For an artistic thread like spiral the pitch can be created by hand using a taper attachment to control the depth. The variable pitch would be laid out by hand and drawn on the surface of the metal (over a blued, white or blackened surface. This could be drawn free hand at low speed. Then at the same low speed the "threads" would be cut in multiple passes. Any competent machinist with a sharp eye for detail and willing to take on the chalange could do it. I know I could so there must be others that could do it.
   - guru - Friday, 08/26/05 15:26:06 EDT

Rust Removal: I have used many methods but the most universal method is "elbow grease" - just plain hard work. Most things that can be sand blasted or dunked into a tub of acid are not things that usualy have enough value to be worth hand derusting. But fine tools and machinery need hand scraping, wire brushing, polishing with sandpaper or steelwool while using lubricants. Usualy after a thourough hand cleaning you appreciate the value of keeping things properly cleaned and oiled to prevent significant rusting. . .
   - guru - Friday, 08/26/05 15:34:46 EDT

More rust removal: I have not tried this, but the people promoting it seeem happy with the results -- http://antique-engines.com/electrol.asp -- it is an electrolisis method.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 08/26/05 21:51:48 EDT

my new boss wants me to make 40 lengths of bamboo. we are using sch. 40 bronze pipe. i have seen bamboo demoed several different ways, but the best was with a giloteen typs jig. the problem is i cant quite remember what the dies looked like. do you have any tips for me?
   ben - Friday, 08/26/05 23:39:40 EDT

Ben the best bamboo I have seen had the 'joints' upset and then they had the line put in with I think a chisel. Was a very real looking gate when done, especially after the powdercoating
   Ralph - Saturday, 08/27/05 00:01:23 EDT

while demo-ing at our local county fair recently, I had two different requests for wire puzzles. I own several myself, but have never really enjoyed copying the work of others, and I am totally amazed at some of the puzzles and know that I would be lucky if I could invent even one original of my own. I also am not averse to making a few dollars at my hobby which has mostly been just that. Most of my work are original candlesticks that I have so much labor in that I prefer to give them to friends than to try to compete with the imports,etc. So, I wonder if there are patents or copyrights that I would infringe upon if made some reproductions. I have 2or 3 in mind that would be easy to make. I would not be mass producing. I might make a dozen of each at most to see if I could, with jigs and fixtures, make them profitably. What do you think? Anvillain
   anvillain - Saturday, 08/27/05 01:34:26 EDT

Bamboo from Pipe: Ben, Blacksmith's Depot (Kayne and Son) sell a variety of sizes of bamboo clapper dies. However, I do not think any are made for top rail OR pipe. Forging pipe is a different and tricky business. FIRST it must be done with lots of rapid blows as the pipe is rotated. This usualy means a power hammer. Flat dies with end radiuses or a "V" die the long way would work. The goal is to slightly shrink sections of pipe between the raised joints. Each section forged between the joints which as left raised. It will help to look at some real bamboo.

In annealed or heated bronze it will not take much force or speed. I would be tempted to make a pair of nearly closed dies that could be used in a big vise or arbor press. In either one the pipe would be repeatedly squeezed and rotated (a two man job. A finishing die could be made for the joints to give them the the little seam at the top of the raised area. Both these dies would start with bored holes in a pair of blocks. Then the parting line tapered and blended out followed by the end radii. For the joint detail die I would make this in a lathe. It is a short die that could have the details made with shaped boring tools. The option for this die would be to make a master part and hot sink it. For bronze or hot mild steel work these dies could be mild steel, A36 or unhardened 4140.

In my shop it would take two days to make these dies. One to find or purchase the material, the next to make the dies. It would probably take less time to USE the dies than make them.

Optionaly you could weld up the raised knobs and cold swage and hand finish. COULD look as good as forged depending on the skill of the sculptor. Lots of work any way you do it.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/27/05 07:54:26 EDT

Design Copyright - Puzzels: This is a complicated area but for the most part once you put a mechanical design out in public it belongs to the public unless you went to the effort to patent the design. The exception is artistic sculpture which is protected by copyright.

If you purchase samples as examples and they are not marked patent with a number then they are not legaly patented. Since these puzzels are probably not classified artistic sculpture then copyright does not exist.

SOME of these puzzels are ancient and the originators unknown. However the new puzzels you see in Cracker Barrels are the hard work of a puzzel designing genius. I would feel guilty copying his work (protected or not). He has a booklet of designs and shows some which are historical models.

Designing these puzzels are like coming up with GOOD original jokes. It is one of the most difficult arts there is and unlike other art and design which CAN BE learned these are things that people realy ARE born with. Think about it before copying someone elses ideas.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/27/05 08:08:18 EDT

Forging pipe: Peter Happny (sp?) demonstration pipe forging at one of the Tipp City Quad-States. He capped one end, filled with fine dry sand and then capped the other. The sand acted as a backer material to help keep the pipe from collapsing.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/27/05 09:11:53 EDT

I posted two pics in the yahoo users forum area ( pulldown menu at upper right and scroll down.
They are in the Red Iron FOrge area. Does not tell how to make it but it does show how it can look.
   Ralph - Saturday, 08/27/05 12:43:15 EDT

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