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This is an archive of posts from August 1 - 5, 2007 on the Guru's Den
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I'm building a 30# tire hammer with junk pile iron from the back of my shop. Two reasons. One I'm getting tired of the arm work on the anvil,and to show the knuckle heads that hang aroud my shop ,there's no such thing as scrap!
   - 6fingr jim - Wednesday, 08/01/07 00:31:23 EDT

I was just browsing the I-Forge demos in search of some guidance on the making of toilet roll holders, or paper towel roll holders, but didnt find any. Can you possibly point me to somewhere that I might get some ideas. I'm still waiting impatiently for the second installment of my forging class to begin, so I can't ask any of my teachers.
Cheers mate!
   Craig - Wednesday, 08/01/07 01:35:11 EDT

No Scrap: . . .well. . . I've had some pretty badly mangled up forge work that useless afterward, and some torched up pieces that were beyond reclamation unless you were extremely desperate. But you are generally right. On the other hand, some shops generate scrap at such a rate that it MUST be sent to the recycler.

I even save bits of wood that many would call scrap, especially the exotics and such that I use building musical instruments. You never know when you are going to need a VERY small bit of rosewood or ebony for an inlay.

I also keep any rectangular block of structural lumber. When drilling holes you need something to protect the machine table or the vise. Small blocks can also be used to prevent marring work with hammers or vise jaws. It would peeve me no end when the guys at the shop would clean up and trash every small piece of wood. . . You don't need a mountain of it but at LEAST a piece or two per machine.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/07 08:25:53 EDT

TP Holders: Craig, These vary from spirally spaghetti smithing (one piece brackets), to artsy grape leaf affairs for the vineyards to formal brackets and cross bars. In one welding shop I saw one flame cut from heavy angle iron, two rings welded on and a large bolt to hold the roll. . . Some are free standing. The ones we have are cheap import things but they act as storage racks for half a dozen rolls.

Start with a roll in your hand and go from there.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/07 08:35:07 EDT

One of the most annoying things about my shop move was losing all the "scrap" wood and a lot of the scrap steel, so many times I needed just a small chunk to do something with and had to either buy a 20' length or spend a lot of time scrounging for a small bit. I also mourned the loss of all my 4x4 and 2x8 blocking for lifting heavy loads. I finally had to start picking up dunnage wood alongside the highway as a lot less gets trashed around here than in OH.
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/01/07 11:34:08 EDT

I gave five pickup loads of plumbing and electrical components I had accumulated over the years to Habitat for Humanity, and a peculiar gent in a funny red hat with horns made off with several more pickup loads of scrap steel and old oxygen tanks. I miss it all, sometimes, but not too much. I still have maybe a ton or so of it left and most of it is free for the taking. Lotsa scrap lumber, too, detritus from replacing our roof. Come and get it.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 08/01/07 15:05:34 EDT

AH. . . Someone trying to make peace with SWMBO.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/07 16:03:03 EDT

Seems like one of the big questions physicists are working on is where did all of the elements heavier than iron come from?
Iron, as mentioned above, is the heaviest element we are sure is produced by fusion in stars, so where did the naturally occurring elements from cobalt on up come from?
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 08/01/07 17:31:00 EDT

John Lowther, the heavier elements are produced in the digestive tract of that big turtle the universe sits on..so...uh...that makes them turtle poop?
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 08/01/07 18:29:16 EDT

The metal fairies and angels put them there.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 08/01/07 18:56:57 EDT

Guru-- you betchum, Red Ryder! That, and trying to get the ambient debris to where I can turn around without cutting myself.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 08/01/07 20:50:29 EDT

My Dad was a saver, and I am pretty guilty of it too. Dad saved so much JUNK, and I don't use that term loosly, that the woodshop is largly full of wood scrap, much of it too small for most uses. He burned what He called scrap, I am burning a lot more. As Jock & Thomas point out a fair ammount of "stock" is good to have on hand, but if You have to turn down good free stuff because all Your space is taken up, some by junk the priorities have gotten mixed up.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 08/01/07 21:49:17 EDT

Looking for plans on how to make a forced air propane forge. Will be used for making swords damuscus knives and candle stick holders.
   Aaron - Wednesday, 08/01/07 23:12:44 EDT

"Seems like one of the big questions physicists are working on is where did all of the elements heavier than iron come from?"

At the observatory where I volunteer, we frequently tell people that we are certain that all the elements heavier than iron are only created by supernova explosions. M1 the crab nebula http://seds.org/messier/m/m001.html is what remains from a supernova that was observed on July 4, 1054. When that material crashes into a cloud of hydrogen gas, maybe a new solar system will be created.
   Rick Widmer - Thursday, 08/02/07 00:59:46 EDT

Blown Forges: Aaron, See our plans page for the "Stupid Burner" and 10 minute forge. Don Fogg uses vertical tube furnaces (see his site) and Larry Harley uses the excess air from the blower to create air curtains in front of the doors. This is probably the best forge idea I have seen.

Unlike venturi or naturally aspirated forges, blower forges are much more flexible in design.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/02/07 08:10:10 EDT

Heavy Elements: One of the theories that the late great Issac Asimov put forward was that due to Earth's unusually large Moon which is a significant proportion of its mass the crust of the Earth is constantly being "kneaded" by its gravitational forces and radioactive elements are or were constantly being brought up from the depths of the crust. This created a higher than normal background radiation which in turn increased the rate of genetic mutation so that Earth would have a much greater variety of life than would result from simple evolution. Thus WE may be a creation of our Moon. These conditions may also greatly reduce the number of planets where intelligent life can evolve. Not only do you need the right temperature and atmospheric conditions you would also need an unusually large satellite. Even in the infinite the probability drop significantly.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/02/07 08:19:53 EDT

Does anyone have a recipe for a pickling solution. I would like to remove residule flux and scale from 1018 CRS. I have heard mention of Sulfuric Acid, Vinegar, Hydrocloric acid....I'm not sure which route to take.

Thank you,
   Dan - Thursday, 08/02/07 09:45:13 EDT

Dan; all those work they differ in the speed they work at, the cost and the difficulty of disposing waste. How much do you need to do in what time period? Do you have access to an appropriate waste disposal system? Is the CRS you currently are getting oiled?

It might be easier to buy properly pickled CRS that doesn't require further treatment.

If you want to remove scale after forging why spend the money on CRS?

As I am a hobby smith and "overnight" works well for me I usually use vinegar, completely immersing the part. Heating the vinegar and or adding a bit of salt will increase it's action. Washing the part with clean water and a stiff brush will remove the black crud after soaking. For heavy deposits I wash/brush and soak again. Note that the part will flash rush when you finally have it "clean" and expose it to the atmosphere.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/02/07 11:51:46 EDT

How about bead blasting? I have access to an auto shop with a machine shop in the back. They let me use the bead blasting unit and it takes you right to the bare metal. Beautiful.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 08/02/07 12:00:06 EDT

I wanted to pickle it in preperation of an oil and wax finish. After I scroll the 1/4 and 5/16 dia. I get an irregular surface finish.
I get the CRS through work at a good price so that is why I have gone with it vs. A-36 HR.

   - Dan - Thursday, 08/02/07 12:58:29 EDT

To bring a piece of round bar, say 3/8 inch, to a very fine point with, say, six inches of very gradual taper as quickly as possible is my effort. I am using an Anyang 33 power hammer with a die that I ground. It was two flat surfaces that met, I ground away half of the top and bottom dies to leave two 1/2 radius surfaces to assist drawing out. I know about, when drawing out round stock, to make it sqare as you draw it out, and I do that. I find that by working from about 1/2 to 1 inch from the tip, back towards the tip I manage to generate a pretty good taper pretty fast down to 1/8 inch or so, then I start working more and more of the thick part, lengthening the taper. Sometimes it wants to crack off. I guess that is from letting it be too cool. Also sometimes small divots-dents from my not perfectly smooth radiuses seem to develop into cracks. Yesterday I started using the two flats to hit the final 1/2 inch of a 3/8 bar to begin the process of a draw out, to try to reduce the tendency to get a rombus on the end. It worked somewhat OK, but didn't seem to speed up the process. If anyone has recommendations, I would like to hear them. Thank you.
   brian kennedy - Thursday, 08/02/07 14:50:30 EDT

Brian, Die shape is very technical and most (even many commercial combination dies) are wrong. Generally full radiused dies are wrong. Technique also applies. If you are mashing the work creating cold shuts they are not curable and result in weak material. Drawing out to a paper thin point should not be a problem.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/02/07 15:43:57 EDT

Long tapers are started in the middle and worked back toward the bar, THEN you finish the point blending it into the previous taper. This conserves heat by leaving mass on the tip. Then it is hot when you finish forging it.

Dies should have a flat all the way across the flat AND drawing area. Some folks like narrow fullers with a light radius and other like fully arced but in either case they should be flat in the middle even if it is a very narrow flat.

The "flat" side of the dies should have well radiused edges. The correct shape is a flat oval but it can be approximated by a low 4-5° flat about 15% of the width of the die and then a radius off of that. This prevents choppy steps in the work when tapering.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/02/07 17:37:31 EDT


When I need to do long tapers, I use my flat dies with a tapered bottom die (wedge die) piece held in a clamp cage on the bottom flat die. This develops exactly the degree of taper I have determined I want, and it prevents choppy steps or overworked bar that cracks.

It is easy enough to make a wedge die shoe, just take a piece of 1/2" by 3" flat bar, preferrably 1045 or so, and grind a smooth angle taper on it from about 3/32" to 1/8" on the thin side, to the full thickness at the other side. Weld it to an arm that you can clamp to the side of your bottom die and you're all set.

When drawing stock rapidly, it is important to use heavy enough blows over enough area to deform the metal clear to the core. Otherwise, you will birdmouth the end (at the least) or actually core-crack the bar from moving the surface too much around the core. This can be a real problem when using a relatively small hammer like the Anyang 33, particularly if you back off on the force of the blows or let the heat drop too much. It would be more of a problem on stock much larger than that 3/8", though.

By the way, I usually start by forming a very short taper on the end of the bar, taking it to a sharp point, before I finish running the taper. This beats the birdmouth and get the smallest work done at the highest heat. I know this is contrary to what Hofi teaches in his hand hammering technique, but it works for me, especially on the powerhammer. After the short point, I chase the heat up the bar to finish the taper. It takes some practice, but you can run the heat up the bar quite a ways by hammering hard and fast. That Anyang will do that just fine, I'm quite sure.

There's no sin in taking a second or even third heat.
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/02/07 21:23:47 EDT

Quick question on the oil blackening of steel. What is the blackened layer? (carbon layer, Fe3O4) How thick does it normally occur? (most gun blues are less than 1 or 2 thousandths) And how would it hold up to heat? I would assume heating back to a red would burn it off, but is this true? I've never seen gun blue burn off, but that doesn't mean it can't.
   Fender - Thursday, 08/02/07 23:51:16 EDT

i am 15 and i read 2 much and i want to make a sword but i dont want to rush it and heat myself or someone i know i have in fact read any books on the subject yet or boght any but i plan to if i can get the money. All my knoledge comes from fantasy/adventure books and that sort of thing what i do know is this.: u have to heat a metal to it is malible and so on lika that but i also know that if u fold the metalthe stronger and better the sword unfortently i dont know much more then that. i have tried making a aluninam sword with all ready forged metal(curtan hangers things mostly) i folded the metal over and over again til it was strong and not bendy(i guss thats the term)the problem i faced then was making it sharper and i couldent relly do anything about it i had no forge.

i maight not be the most expereanced guy to post u but i think that one that already forged metal would be a perfect practace to fold the metal and shapen it if they have the tools of corse. but if u disagree i would understand. And one more thing this one seris of books iam reading is called the protecters seris a cople books is called the fire dies and the protecters war they use metal from cars and other things to make swords all iam wondering is if they cold make medivil wepons like this with those meterals. well bye
   - Andrew Lee - Friday, 08/03/07 00:37:21 EDT

Oil Black and Gun Bluing: Fender these are both entirely different things. Oil black is one of two things. 1) Oil forcibly dried over tight scale 2) Burned on oil producing a carbon/dried oil finish. Neither is very permanent or rust resistant. Gun bluing is one of several finishes as well. I will list three. 1) Controlled rusting with oil (browne) 2) Chemical bluing with nitric and sulphuric acids (buing) 3) Chemical blacking ususaly flat (Parkerizing).

All of these finishes are forms of iron oxide which slows rusting and most often is used to hold oil or wax and further resist rusting. Unmaintained (salty fingerprints, lack of oil, lack or re-waxing) they all rust. On machine parts and guns which cannot be painted Oxide coatings and plating are used.

Burnt oil finishes are a cheap lazy way to avoid cleaning and painting. Then there are those that formulate their own drying oil finish and this is nothing but low quality amateur paint. If you want to paint something, use REAL professionally formulated paint.
   - guru - Friday, 08/03/07 08:32:59 EDT

Andrew Lee,

Forget EVERYTHING written in your fantasy books. They are exactly what they are, fantasy. Forget EVERYTHING you have seen in movies such as Conan, Highlander. . . this is more fantasy and movie magic.

See our Sword Making Article and Sword Making Resources

STUDY, not read, those books. We have reviews of most of the books and they are all available a very reasonable prices.

The BEST STEEL is modern alloy or tool steel AS-IS. Most "folded" steels were made as part of the process of taking very marginal junk iron and steel and merging it into one usable product. If you want to learn to make things start with good steel. If you want to learn to make steel, THAT is a whole different business.
   - guru - Friday, 08/03/07 08:44:54 EDT

How practical would it be to taper or draw 3 inch solid round stock from 3” to 1” O.D. with an overall finished length of 14 foot. I have the big blue hammer, Johnson forge and several dies, ultimately these will be bark textured to form the trunks of a Mountain Laurel plant.
My thoughts right now are to weld multiple sized stock, graduating in quarter inch increments, and grind the taper with a heavy duty Scotchman 36 grit belt sander.

Hopefully I’ve entered this post in the correct location…..very BIG forum!

Lawrence Duckworth….aka Duck
   Lawrence Duckworth - Friday, 08/03/07 09:55:34 EDT

Does anyone have information on a German made B&E self contained hammer

   Reed - Friday, 08/03/07 11:39:17 EDT

Andrew; welcome! May I comment on your endevors?

1) "folding" is not just folding the metal over. It is actually folding and forge welding it together so it is *one* piece of metal again and as the guru mentioned was done to take quite unhomogenous metal and make it more even---as an example lets say your original piece had a slag streamer in it 1/4" thick in the original muck bar---you would draw that out and fold and forge weld it together and draw it out to the original thickness---you now have two streamers but they are only 1/8 thick; so you repeat and at some point they become so small as to not give any trouble.

2) So modern alloys, nice and clean and homogenous do not profit from folding and forge welding *and* you risk putting in a flawed weld, decarburization, grain growth, etc. Where patternwelding is done; it's usually done for the beauty it imparts to the blade.

3) *Most* car leaf and coil springs are a great alloy for swords; often they are 5160 steel. Some can be alloys not suitable and some can have microcracking from use/abuse in cars/trucks; so we often suggest you find a place that makes springs and buy their scrap new steel so you KNOW what you are using and you KNOW that it isn't flawed to start with and it's a LOT cheaper than spending 20 hours making something and then finding out there was a problem with the original material.

Learning to forge is a lot easier if you can learn from someone who already knows how (think of learning to drive a car just from a book with never having seen one driven...)

If you check the "Navigate anvilfire" menu on this page and go down to the bottom there is an ABANA-Chapter.com link where you may be able to find a blacksmithing group close to you. meetings are free, equipment is bought, sold, traded; there is usually a demo showing how to do something *and* your parents can see that this is a "sane" hobby and you may meet someone that will teach you the basics.

The SWABA meeting is tomorrow in Mountainair NM; if you are around here try to attend and say Hi to the guy with the disreputable red hat---that's me.
   Thomas P - Friday, 08/03/07 11:53:32 EDT

Long tree taper starting at 3" Lawrence, Forget the grinding, it would kill you. You can forge stock this big under a Big BLU but it is an undersized hammer for this purpose. The general rule of efficient forging is 50 pounds per square inch of cross section, 75 pounds for alloy and tool steels. A 3 inch round has a cross section of a tad over 7 square inches. This would mean a 350 pound hammer. For artistic work a smaller hammer will work but a Big BLU 150 is at the minimum.

So. . what I would do is THINK a little. . . I would start with 3 inch plate flame cut into a long taper until I reached about 2" and then use 2.25" or 2" plate cut to the same taper. OR IF I were doing the cutting I would start with a rectangle, cut the first then cut the second from the drop of the first resulting in a double taper. These could then be forged to round and give you much better shape and texture. For 14 foot you would probably need about 5 foot of each to start or a little less (without doing any calcs. Keep the welding to a minimum.

ALTERNATIVELY: You could build up the trunk from many pieces of round bar stock. Arc weld between, then forge the results. This would have many advantages. The dissadvantage would be the internal hollows which would be places for rust to hide.
   - guru - Friday, 08/03/07 12:37:45 EDT

Guru and Vicopper, thanks for the advice. I think I am struggling with a couple of other issues as well. I tend to have gravitated toward vicopper's technique thus far. Partly because I think I am having a problem getting hot enough, which is another thing I want to bring up. It seems to me that my forge is not working so well, it seems to take a long time to get metal good and red and require a long time to get really "warmed up." (Recently the hammer has not been hitting hard enough, I've been taking measures to adjust that problem too, in consultation with Bob Graham, whose service has always been outstanding on the Anyang he distributes.) The forge I use was made out of a beer keg insulated with ceramic wool with a light coating of castable refractory material. I have it on a 300 gallon propane tank with a "high pressure regulator" the propane guy recommended. There is no gauge on it to read the pressure. It has a adjustment screw but I can't see any difference in the flames when I turn it. The gas goes thru some hose and into a 3 inch pipe. There is an electric blower at one end of the pipe at the bottom. The gas comes in thru a welding tip that is mounted along the pipe angled toward the forge. The gas-air mixture continues up the pipe and enters the forge near the top of the cylinder, sweeping around and down to the floor of the forge. I adjust the air so that it barely stops smoking and bathes the kiln in yellow fire. If I give it more air, it seems that the metal does not get as hot, even though it makes a nice roaring sound. I think it used to get hotter when I used a 25 gallon tank. I think I need to improve or change something, maybe get a better forge. Any recommendations are appreciated.
   brian kennedy - Friday, 08/03/07 17:41:24 EDT

Yellow flame says not enough air; Should be more like blue. What are you using for air?

Mig nozzle probably too small for a beer keg sized forge I would expect the gas opening to be between 1/8 and 1/4" with a needle valve on it for tuning.

All the high pressure regulators I know of have a T screw on them so you can adjust them by hand like a welding gas regulator. A pressure gauge is not necessary as you are adjusting the fire by looking/listening at it!

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/03/07 18:42:27 EDT

Andrew Lee: IMHO the absolutely best thing you can do at the moment is to forget swords and find a mentor at your high school who is willing to take the time to teach you basic grammer, punctulation, capitalization, spelling and penmanship. Like it or not eventually you are going to have to live outside the comforts of high school or your parents. How you communicate, again IMHO, shows a great deal about your capability to advance in whatever field you decide upon for a career.

I also suggest you find a mentor in basic math. Things as simply as learning the multiplication table from 1 x 1 to 12 x 12 by memory, how to read a ruler from 1/32" to 12" in increments of 1/32" and the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions will serve you well in the future. Algebra I & II is a bonus. Business and consumer math is vital.

I may be out of line here, but your message was almost painful to read. I would give what you wrote an F- simply became there isn't a lower score.

On the tapered tree trunk I suggest another approach. Cut 14 12" segments of stock size proportional to their placement. Use a lathe to taper them, including scarfing. Put in the tree bark texture to each section, perhaps welding on a temporary handing, and weld together. Then you only have to do the barking texture in the weld joints. With a rosebud torch you might be able to do this via handler and striker.

Aside, but be careful on eBay. I had bid on an anvil up to $150. Sold for $165. About a week later I received a Second Change Offer at my last bid. Notice didn't look right. A bit a researching showed it to be bogus. Apparently someone was able to read my last bid level and associate my eBay user id with my e-mail address. What gave it away was SCO REPLY button went to an e-mail form rather than back to eBay. Be careful out there.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/03/07 18:45:22 EDT

Brian, it is difficult without seeing the forge. Blown forges are usually pretty hot running and can melt the lining when running right. But they also need some back pressure (door cannot be too big). There is no need for an orifice or metering tip. That "high pressure" bulk tank regulator may max out at 15 PSI. The small 3/8" bar you are working should be able to reach welding heat in less than a minute in that type forge and melt if not watched. Forging mild steel at a red is too low.

A T and a cheap pressure gauge will cost you about $20.

Anyang and their dealers have had lots of communication problems. China is a 50hz country and we are 60. THAT is a 20% difference in motor speeds that at the time I was dealing with Anyang they did not understand (resulting in starter overloads, hammer timing issues. . .). The machine should work correctly just out of the box.

   - guru - Friday, 08/03/07 18:47:52 EDT

Note that blown burners usually just dump gas into the airstream and are designed to make it mix well before it hits the inside of the forge---so you want turbulence in the stream.

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/03/07 18:47:57 EDT


On your Anyang, I can't be any help, as I've only used one once and it was the big brother of the one you have. It seemed like a nice hammer, though.

On the forge, you have a couple of problems that I see. First, you aren't getting the propane and air sufficiently mixed before it enters the forge chamber. Secondly, you aren't using the natural flow of the flame path in the most efficient manner.

As I understand your post, you have a beer keg standing upright or horizontal, (doesn't really matter which) and your flame enters at the top and aims down to the bottom. Given the shape of the keg, if it is vertically oriented, you're very likely suffocating the fire in its own exhaust, which is trying to rise back out the top. On vertical forges, the fire enters at the bottom and swirls to the top where it exits.

If you keg is oriented horizontally, then you don't have that issue, but you may still be choking it to death. Do you have openings at both ends? Blown forges have to exhaust a LOT of gas, and need room to do that. Of course, you may not have enough blower for your forge volume. Calculate the volume of the chamber. You should have about 6 square inches of exhaust area for every third of a cubic foot of volume, if you're running at or near welding temps. You'd need about a 150cfm blower for that keg, I'd guess. You should have a blower that is high pressure, too, not some wimpy little squirrel cage unit designed to make noise in milady's powder room. Kayne and Sons sells a fine blower for about a hundred and twenty bucks that will do nicely.

You don't need a gas orifice, and you definitely DON'T want it pointing downstream. The more mixing that happens before the air/gas mixture gets to the forge chamber, the better. So point your gas input upstream, not down. Make sure you have at least a foot or more of pipe between the mixing point and the forge chamber. More won't hurt. If youre short on length and have enough blower pressure, you can put some rolled up hardware cloth in the pipe to aid in getting turbulence. In a blown forge you WANT turbulence in the flow stream. It mixes the air and gas and achieves the optimum ratio for burning efficiently.

You dont need much gas pressure, either! A pound or two should be sufficient, using a 1/8 or orifice for the gas. Any more pressure than that, and youll have too rich a mixture for anything less than about 300cfm of air. The ratio you want to hit is 1 gas to 14 air by volume. A yellow flame means too much gas and not enough air, and/or too much backpressure. In your case, Id guess its too much gas.

If you can email me some pictures of your forge, I can give you more specific guidance.
   vicopper - Friday, 08/03/07 22:51:37 EDT

Pressure is relative to hose length and various restrictions. My big forge ended up with a solenoid valve that only had a .050" orifice in the valve. . It takes 15 to 20 PSI even though it is not a venturi system. On the other hand, MIG tip venturi forges (.040") often run well on 2 to 4 PSI because the restriction is not in-line, it is at the end.

   - guru - Saturday, 08/04/07 08:26:00 EDT

I have decided in my shop I need some sort of power hammer to take care of heavy forging. I certainly don't have enough money for a commerical one, so that means I have to build it. I am interested in a design I have heard about that uses a leaf spring and a fly wheel, but I don't know how easy it would be to build somthing like that. Do you have any ideas on a very basic, inexpensive power hammer design that I could get built with a junk yard and a local welding shop?
   Troy - Saturday, 08/04/07 11:27:48 EDT


I don't think you're going to end up with an inexpensive hammer if you have to pay a shop to weld it. Maybe if you were good enough to do *proper* weld preps and tack weld the thing together before taking it to the shop. Even then, I think the cost might not be that much lower than a commercial hammer that you *know* will work.

You might want to look for a blacksmith who's upgrading from a shop-built hammer, or consider a class where you learn to build a hammer and take one home with you. Or just save your pennies until you can buy a commercial one.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/04/07 14:59:18 EDT

JYH - Junk Yard Hammers: Troy, See our Power Hammer Page, Catalog of Junk Yard and User Built Hammers

The best design is any one that combines the tire clutch and leaf spring toggle system. The CR-JYH is one of these.

Both the leaf spring toggle hammers have problems in there spring designs. The CR-JYH has too short of springs and too long of toggles. The SA-JYH (South Africa) has too long and floppy of springs. However, both worked and hit hard.

See the NC-JYH for the clutch design. This is the famous "Tire-Hammer" invented by Ray Clontz which is very similar to the CR-JYH.

Note that you CAN get away with just junk and a local welding shop BUT most of these machines have some small amount of machine work as well as welding. Your ingenuity in applying the found items determines how much. Bolted assemblies are more maintainable but require a lot of hole drilling. Either a heavy duty drill press or a Magnetic Based Drill Press is needed. Good heavy pivot pins and bushings are also needed and a small lathe makes things much easier. This IS machinery building.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/04/07 14:59:21 EDT

I need some help with stair math. I'm in the middle of a project to build a set of free standing curved stairs out of trapasoidal segments folded into a one piece tread/riser and then attatched to one another. The architect wanted that to be all there was to the stairs and wouldn't listen to anyone that the stock thickness specified was too thin to be self-supporting let alone carry a person. When I removed my temporary bracing and showed him that the stairs could be bounced up and down with a thumb he said "wow" and called in a structural engineer. The engineer wants gussets between each tread and riser and a 3/8 x 4" piece of flat stock on edge under the gussets. I know the math and techniques to do this in round stock (as for a spiral stair rail) but it seems to me that to keep the 4" dimension of the flat stock plumb I will need to put bends into it along two axes. Am I right? I know the rise of the stair, the radius in plan view and the length of the arc that the stair travels but after that I quickly get out of my depth. Is there a formula for calculating these bends? More importantly: is there a stair builder's handbook or shop math bible that I should have? Both Machinery's Handbook and Peter Parkinson's latest book have useful stuff but not quite what I want. Thank you in advance.
PS.-Ken- Sorry about misspelling trapasoid but my wife spilled coffee on our keyboard and now the key next to the x doesn't work.
   Jud Yaggy - Saturday, 08/04/07 15:25:32 EDT

I have a Lincoln Handy Mig (IM756) and have just configured it for inert gas CO2/Argon mix. I have had the welder for several years but I have been using flux core wire. The welder came with a regulator but it is a simple valve with no gage on it and I believe it is not working correctly. When I crack the gas tank the valve hisses with escaping gas and little feeds down the line to the welder. I know it's not supposed to be a huge amount feeding out but without the gage I have no idea how much is going out. I have the owners manual and followed the conversion instructions but I have no reference for trouble shooting the regulator. My plan is to get a compatible regulator and replace the one that came with the machine. I am not experienced with this type of set up so I'm hopping that you can advise me on what kind of regulator I should purchase. Any recommendations for double checking the set up would be welcome also.
Many thanks
   Will - Saturday, 08/04/07 15:31:52 EDT


If you hold down the "Alt" key and type 90 on the numeric keypad, you should get a 'z'. Alt-122 should get you an uppercase one. At least on Windows.

I think the regulators with those little MIGs consist of a orifice downstream of a fixed-pressure regulator. Maybe the orifice is clogged?

They should deliver somewhere around 20 cubic feet per hour, which isn't really a huge amount of flow. You could try blowing up plastic bags to see what you're really getting. If my math's right, a one-gallon bag should inflate in around 20 to 30 seconds.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/04/07 16:19:47 EDT

I have been using a charcoal/coal forge for a number of years. Recently I have decided I want to purchase a propane forge hoping it will save time,money and my health. I am a blade/swordsmith and I am looking to buy a high quality long lasting forge for my bladesmith work. The forge has to be one designed to easily reach welding heat(as I pattern weld often)and be suitable to forge short and long blades. I was hoping you could give me some ideas and some companies that make such a forge. Also, do you think it would work well to just buy 4 or 5 barbecue propane tanks and just alternate with those. Or would that just not work?
   - russell - Saturday, 08/04/07 17:55:29 EDT

russell - Just forgot to add this comment.

Dimondback Ironworks seemed to me like a nice manufacturer of propane forges. What do you think?
   - russell - Saturday, 08/04/07 18:15:46 EDT


It sounds as though the diaphragm on your regulator is damaged or the O-ring seal is shot. Either way, you'll waste a huge amount of gas and not help your welds a bit. You can leak check a regulator the same way you do a gas line, using soapy water and watching for bubbles. I suspect youre going to see some around the rim of the unit, if it's a diaphragm type, or around the stem if it's a fixed-orifice type. Either way, I'd get it checked out by your local welding shop or just buy a new one.

YOu can get a decent argon regulator/flowmeter for around sixty bucks if you buy import, or around a hundred if you buy American-branded import. If you plan to do much serious welding, a decent regulator flowmeter is worth the expense, as it allows you to meter the gas flow correctly for the work you're doing.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/04/07 20:07:21 EDT


The simplest powerhammer to build is an air hammer. You'll still need to do some welding, but there aren't any super fussy adjustments to make like there are with a mechanical hammer (if you want it to run correctly). How cheap can yoou build one? That depends.

If you can scrounge a sufficient anvil mass (around 500#) and some structural members, you can buy the guide materials new for not too much money. The air components will cost you $500 ifyou get decent stuff. If you get junk, you'll get what you pay for.

Of course, for an air hammer, you need an iar compressor capable of delivering around 14-18 cfm @100 psig. If you don't have that already, then that's a big expense.

I could probably build a mechanical hammer from the junk I have lying around my shop, now. It wouldn't be real pretty, but it would work, to some greater or lesser degree. But then, I have welders, can weld, have a lathe, etc. Without those, I couldn't do it. If I'd had to pay someone else to do the welding on my air hammer, it would have cost well over a grand just for the welding. (Some have remarked that my anvil is mostly welding rod, held together with some pieces of plate. grin)

The simplest, cheapest hammer to build is probably a spare-tire driven spring helve, similar to the Appalachian Rusty. It isn't the most effective design, but it is better than trying to do it by hand. The DuPont linkage is the best way to go for a mechanical hammer, but it requires a lot more engineering and finesse than a simple spring helve.

   vicopper - Saturday, 08/04/07 20:45:29 EDT


The simplest powerhammer to build is an air hammer. You'll still need to do some welding, but there aren't any super fussy adjustments to make like there are with a mechanical hammer (if you want it to run correctly). How cheap can yoou build one? That depends.

If you can scrounge a sufficient anvil mass (around 500#) and some structural members, you can buy the guide materials new for not too much money. The air components will cost you $500 ifyou get decent stuff. If you get junk, you'll get what you pay for.

Of course, for an air hammer, you need an iar compressor capable of delivering around 14-18 cfm @100 psig. If you don't have that already, then that's a big expense.

I could probably build a mechanical hammer from the junk I have lying around my shop, now. It wouldn't be real pretty, but it would work, to some greater or lesser degree. But then, I have welders, can weld, have a lathe, etc. Without those, I couldn't do it. If I'd had to pay someone else to do the welding on my air hammer, it would have cost well over a grand just for the welding. (Some have remarked that my anvil is mostly welding rod, held together with some pieces of plate. grin)

The simplest, cheapest hammer to build is probably a spare-tire driven spring helve, similar to the Appalachian Rusty. It isn't the most effective design, but it is better than trying to do it by hand. The DuPont linkage is the best way to go for a mechanical hammer, but it requires a lot more engineering and finesse than a simple spring helve.

   vicopper - Saturday, 08/04/07 20:57:39 EDT

Does anyone know of any other place to get info on homemade power hammers, especially tire hammers, other than the anvilfire power hammer pages?
   sharris - Saturday, 08/04/07 23:09:21 EDT

Stair Problem: Jud, To make a polygonal bend that rises only requires that the bend be on the vertical axis of the rise-run and that the angle of the bend be the corner of the polygon. That is only one bend on one axis but you COULD call it a compound angle. Otherwise without a drawing I cannot get my head around your word picture.

NOMMA has some reference material on stairs but I have not seen it. You may also need to be a member to access that part of their web site.

   - guru - Sunday, 08/05/07 08:01:37 EDT


VICopper's right, of course -- check for a leak at or around the regulator before you do anything else. If you do get to the point of checking gas flow, I just filled a gallon bag with CO2 from my little Lincoln in about 15 seconds, so I guess my math was a little off.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 08/05/07 08:02:00 EDT

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