WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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

This is an archive of posts from August 1 - 7, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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Rolling Mill: You can buy bearings to fit the shaft size needed and stub shafts with keyways already milled in them. Only sawing required.

The reduction components can be expensive unless scrounged but are easy to buy as well.

Buyouts to build a rolling mill with almost no machining is about $1500. With machining a little less and you get a more flexible machine.

The advantage is a silent machine as compared to an ear shattering (if not just highly obnoxious) hydraulic machine, a low HP machine compared to a high HP machine, a machine that is faster with less HP.

The disadvantage of the rolling mill is that it does not have the flexibility to do other jobs.

The most hazardous thing about a rolling mill is the pinch hazard which the press also has PLUS the physical and fire danger of leaking high pressure fluids and hearing damage.

My manual hydraulic press required machining a 1.5" bronze bushing and a holder with a 1.88" diameter bore. But the rest was all flame cutting, grinding and arc welding plus a few holes. . . The parts were machined on an ancient 6" Craftsman lathe.

Machine work can also be subbed out. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 00:09:33 EDT

Jacob; charcoal usually needs a pretty soft blast so depending on how you are doing it it may be better with larger piping.

If the tiny bits of charcoal are actually dancing in the blast then it's *too* high. You don't want a Vesuvius fire!

Charcoal does spark more though expecially if the charcoal is slightly damp or only partially charred---mesquite charcoal is especially bad for this as they want the mesquite flavour to come through.

Jock forgot one more common historical smithing clothing material---Leather, just like a welder today may have a leather jacket to protect himself the smith of old used leather too. In fact the bullhide apron is almost an icon of the craft. In Goya's paining of the forgers they are wearing little else but the aprons and a loincloth.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/30/08 11:06:05 EDT

Update on the Maybe Peter Wright. The stamps are serif letters, but very faint and shallow. I have a set of number stamps that match these so I assume that part would be easy to duplicate. Accuracy of the bathroom scale within 5 lbs is not an issue. This was abut 35 lbs lighter than marked. Markings were 2 1 2 and it measured about 218 on the scale. Merl: the Tommy Hammer, or oliver, is a foot powered mechanical hammer. I am actually building 2: 10 lbs and 20-25 lbs. The hammer is an ordinary sledge swinging on an axle and returned by a garage door spring. Mounted on a heavy wood fram bolted to the anvil stand Using dies shaped from hammer heads cut in half and mounted by welding an offset bar set in hardie hole, centering die on anvil mass. Based on the chainmaker's hammer that was used primarily to dress the weld on a bick mounted in the side of the chainmaker's anvil. I'm simply re positioning the frame to strike over the anvil face, to use a s a striker for work that would normally use a 10-25lb sledge. I'm hoping for something better than an ABANA treadle hammer, not as good as a little giant. Total cash outlay so far is about $10 for the spring. Everything elde is on-hand or scrap. Frame is 3x3 and 4x4 scrap oak billets fromn the lumberyard. Making the bolts, links and levers from 1/2- 3/4 " stock on hand. Have had the hammer for years. Garage door spring is ideal, since it is loaded at exacly the balance weight of the hammer, and tension does not increase significantly over the range of movement, which is about 6" Thaat's 1/4 the length of the hammer arm, so a 40 lb spring perfectly balances the 10lb hammer. In fact if I play with the angles a little, I can get the spring to release virtually all resistance at the point of impact, and reengage just above the point of impact on the return. I'll try to post pics somewhere if there is interest.
   PEter Hirst - Wednesday, 07/30/08 11:38:48 EDT

Peter Wright (or Wrong) only speculation, but is it possible that the anvil was reforged at somepoint? Seems to me Postman mentioned a firm in AIA that redid anvils.
   JimG - Wednesday, 07/30/08 11:55:10 EDT

i wanna be a bladesmith and make other stuff like strikers and small art. ill be working with round, square, and flat stock all under 1 inches im pretty sure so what tongs am i wanting? V bolt? Wolfjaw?
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 13:26:26 EDT

Tongs and tongs: Jacob, No one pair of tongs does it all. The most universal are common flat grip and farrier's style tongs. These both work well on flat stock but the grip relies on your, grip.

Wolfjaw are also a universal type tong with a toothed plier like grip. Being universal they fit many sizes poorly.

For round and square bar stock I like bolt, gooseneck V and chainmaker style tongs.

For every size stock and job there is a perfect set of tongs. To have them all takes hundreds of tongs. But for a small range of stock you can usually afford a set that runs from 1/4" to 3/4" in small increments.

The advantage of tongs that fit snuggly around a piece of steel is that it takes less force to hold the work and tongs with clips will hold well even while power hammer forging.

Like many tools it takes time to build up a collection OR find the ones that really work right for you. Your first tongs are almost always limited use or a mistake. . .

When you start working with a lot of flat stock you will find that there are no commercial tongs that fit around 1/4" x 1 and 3/16" x 1.5 or stacked billets. For these most smiths make their own or modify standard tongs.

I recommend that you buy a couple pairs of tongs then make a few that suit you. Making tongs is not cost effective unless you are very good at it but it IS good practice and a skill every smith should have for those times when they really NEED to make a pair. So as a beginner, it is a good learning skill.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:15:13 EDT

thanks guru and for others out artist blacksmiths david robertson i think that is his name has a video on youtube on makin tongs thanks guys
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:28:39 EDT

Anvil Repair and weight change: It IS possible that the anvil is a rebuild or even made from parts. . . Several anvil manufacturers at the height of the horse drawn era repaired and rebuilt anvils. An anvil built of pieces, say a foot had broken off the base and a new (or recycled) base was used and welded at the waist. This would make an oddly proportioned anvil that would not weigh in as marked. It would also be a PW-Columbian or PW-Budden. . .

Generally the only time industries marked repaired tools and equipment was when it was THEIR brand and then a "R" was often appended to the serial number or a date added.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:30:52 EDT

lol i have another question for damascus steel where do i get the wrought iron and the spring steel, and im not sure if our local steel yard has high carbon?
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:31:58 EDT

Treadle Hammers: The chain maker film showing the use of the Oliver has the smith working the tool heavily with short strokes. Remember that devices of this type have little advantage other than freeing ones hands to hold tools. The amount of effort a human can apply is limited no mater HOW it is a applied or what machines are used. That 1/4HP an athlete can expend in a burst is the limit, PERIOD. I think you understand that you are fighting that spring and that all THAT effort goes no-where. . .

Most modern treadles have a relatively heavy ram for creating a few carefully placed sledgehammer like blows.

Olivers with long wood helves tend to twist and vibrate. You will want to consider stiffening the helve or bracing it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:43:34 EDT

im really sorry i have too many questions but there is only a farrier in the area and i havnt got ahold of him yet but i read that steel loses carbon when its been folded abunch. i want to make damscus so i saw that my science teacher had a bag of carbon should i get ahold of some or should or what? and does a coal fire grow in heat when it grows in size or is that not entirely true?
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 14:56:23 EDT

Materials: Jacob, The junkyard is generally not the place to look for Damascus materials unless you really KNOW what you are looking for.

Wrought Iron is no longer made. It has not been made since the 1960's. That sold in England is reprocessed from old wrought and what is available in North America comes from rare scrap. You find it where you find it. Some makes it to the scrap yard, look for old fences and old bridges.

Pure iron is available and sold by the Wagner Group. It is what it is and works well in Damascus. Sizes are limited.

High Carbon steels should be bought new so that you know what you have and how it should be heat treated. Otherwise there are all kinds of things that are suitable. Springs (round and flat), saw blades (particularly band saw blades but also curcular).

When making laminated steel you are usually doing it for the ART and that means a good visible pattern. This is best achieved by using steels with nickel content. This is a very select group of alloys. The books on making laminated steel will have details.

There is a tremondous efficiency in starting with the right size stock and/or many thin layers when making laminated steel. Normally you want near equal thicknesses and exactly the same widths. To do this you either do a lot of stock preparation or buy it the right size. It is also another reason for a rolling mill. . .

Thin materials reduce the number of welds and this greatly reduces the amount of fuel, effort AND losses as well as possibilities of bad welds. Some professionals start with 30 to 60 layers in the first weld. One triple cut of a 60 layer billet results in 180 layers and halving that makes your final 360 layers. Three welds, 300 to 400 layers. It is something to think about. This cuts your scale and decarburization loses by 50% or more.

Yes, there is math in blacksmithing. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 15:06:08 EDT

Jacob, Forge fuels are carbon. Solid fuels such as coal and charcoal are 99% carbon more or less. Propane is a long hydrocarbon molecule that is mostly carbon by weight. Natural gas (methane) is one big carbon and four little hydrogens. . .

Decarburization occurs greatly at welding temperatures and there is little you can do about it. This material is either ground off between welds or left as more low carbon iron layers. Where it really hurts is the sides of the billets that remain exposed heat after heat. If you do a good job you remove all the decarburized surface metal (up to 1/8" deep).

A coal or charcoal fire with dry fuel in the proper fire pot or container can be just as hot when thimble sized as when bonfire sized. The difference is the gross BTU's of calories expended. You can weld fine wire in a smoking pipe but nothing larger. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 15:16:49 EDT

we have a farrier supply here and they sel1 fifty pounds of coal for 12 dollars everywhere else is higher, is that probably low quality coal?
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 15:17:37 EDT

Jacob; I'd get good at smithing and then get good at bladesmithing and *then* start looking into pattern welding. It's sort of like a fellow asking us how to win formula 1 races when they don't know how to drive.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/30/08 16:39:54 EDT

As to the coal: not necessarily so; you need to try it out yourself or ask for a reference to someone using it that you can ask how it's working for them.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/30/08 16:41:11 EDT

Thanks Peter Hirst, I was wondering if that is what you were making. I have often thought of making something like that myself (the tommy hammer) as my two boys, while they don't lack enthusiasm, are not quite ready for strikers (3&5 yrs)
Jacob, as one newbe to another be sure to check out the IForge section of this web site. LOTS of great information there.
   - merl - Wednesday, 07/30/08 18:42:04 EDT

Seems to me the spring on a treadle hammer gives back (most of) its energy on the upstroke. The spring certainly *does* limit the force of a given hit, but my guess is that the net effect on required horsepower is probably pretty small.

I wonder if charcoal would spark less in a side-blast forge? All that air will still end up going up, but at least the blast wouldn't be adding *directly* to the velocity.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 07/30/08 19:36:35 EDT

Limestone & Heat Resistance: When there was an electrical fire, years back, at the National Cathedral, a number of the columns needed extensive repairs. The heat of the fire had reduced the stone to "quick lime" just like we used to do by burning oyster shells. All limestone is, is condensed shells (and marble is limestone that's been under extreme heat and pressure). Not the stuff to use in a forge. Stone tuyeres are(traditionally) soapstone. I've used slate (a metamorphic form of shale) but it tends to ablate at a pretty fast rate; it wears thin after a demonstration or two.

Fire Fleas: Much less of a problem in a traditional side-blast forge than in the U.S. style bottom blast forge.

Hot, humid and overcast (and a very dark night) on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/30/08 22:11:21 EDT

ive got about a 9 inch deep big rig brake drum and i want to cut it its close to an inch thick i guess, how should i cut it? torch? its messy and cast iron melts more than it cuts, or just sawzaw it? or what? thanks for my many questions yall help alot
   - jacob lockhart - Wednesday, 07/30/08 22:40:20 EDT

Det cord? . . . The military guys will know this one. .

I would use the drum for other things and find one that is the shape I want rather than cut the big one. Sawing will work and do the least damage. Most of these are cast but are ductile iron, not grey cast.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 00:39:05 EDT

Dave Hammer:

I rode a lot of swing stages hung from those sky hooks, too. Also dangled from a pair of 4x4s cantilevered over the roof edge with a bag of sand as ballast. Looking back on it, someof the stuff we did was pretty risky, eh? Never much did enjoy being a wall dog, anyway. We also had a truck mounted 120' crane, brand name of SkyHook. That and a bosun's chair could get you into places no sane person would want to go, especially in the Phoenix sun. (grin)

Therer seem to be a bunch of former (and current) signpainters who are now blacksmiths, and also a number of smithys that were formerly chicken houses. I wonder why that is?

   vicopper - Thursday, 07/31/08 01:51:47 EDT

Jacob Lockhart: Use the NAVIGATE anvilfire box towards upper right to go down to the link to ABANA affiliated groups. Find the one nearest to you and ask where they purchase their coal. They may have an annual club buy.

Also go to www.switchboard.com and do a business search on coal. You may turn up a local source, but not necessarily of a grade suitable for blacksmithing. One in Louisville, KY (Elkhorn and Cumberland I believe) sells blacksmith grade coal and coke by pick up or they can arrange for a truckload to be delivered.

In the NE there is a chain of hardware stores (Aubuchon Hardware) which sells a pretty good grade of coal by the bag.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 07/31/08 07:39:25 EDT

Wood question: I was at a place where a guy was doing chainsaw sculptures. I bought a pig (I've always wanted a pet pig). He said to soak it good with boiled linseed oil to deter cracking. Problem is now my residence reeks of it. Washed off what I could with Dawn, but still can smell it. Any suggestions?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 07/31/08 07:45:23 EDT

Removing broken bolt from cast iron can i heat the area around bolt
   Gerry Martin - Thursday, 07/31/08 08:19:05 EDT

Treadle Hammers:
I prefer a lighter hammer, mine is 35 lbs, for the work I do. Mostly it's small stuff and I use the TH as a third hand. But, at 35 lbs, I think it does a nice job when I need to draw down big stuff. It's nowhere near a power hammer, but much better than anything I can do with my arm. Yes, all the energy is supplied by you, but the TH lets me use the bigger muscles and joints in my leg, so the wear and tear is proportionately much less.

When you think of it, the motion of hand hammering is not something you really do outside of hammering or certain sports. The shoulder is a pretty intricate joint and is easy to damage. Hammering induces lots of repetitive stress on the shoulder, elbow and wrist that isn't part of a "normal" life, and seems outside of how we were designed. But the motion on a TH is pretty much the same as walking up a hill or climbing the stairs. I put a spring "cushion" on my treadle to ease the sudden stop when the hammer hits. Don't know if it really works as intended, as I never used a non-cushioned TH.

And on springs, I see them as energy storage. The extra you use when pushing down is used to pull up. The trade-off is in time. A stiff spring will pull up faster and let you repeat quicker, at the expense of more force to push down. But your extra spring at the bottom of the stroke is a good compromise. At the suggestion of Bruce Freeman (of Grasshopper fame) I reduced my main springs to where they are barely strong enough to hold the hammer up and added a small one that engages at about 4" from the bottom. That gives the extra kick to move the hammer up quickly, then the main ones take over. This combination gets me a really quick repetition rate and enough oomph to to bigger stuff, when needed.

But back to the energy use, I used the TH to make a hand rounding hammer. I had to upset some 1-1/4" to get the dimensions I wanted, square up the head, round the pein, punch and drift the hole,... It was lots of fun, but I probably lost 5 lbs of sweat in the ordeal. No free lunch there :-) But also no soreness in the leg muscles or joints. I'm pretty sure I would have felt that for a long time if I even attempted to try that with a hand hammer close to big enough to move that metal. The most I can swing for any length of time is 4 lbs, and I doubt that would have been enough to let me complete the job.

So I'm kind of a big proponent of treadle hammers. When people say it's not good enough for heavy stuff, I tend to disagree. If you have a power hammer, then go with that. But a TH is so much better than a hand hammer. It all depends on how you define "good enough". Lots of big work was done with a striker and a 16-lb sledge. A PH would have been preferred then, too, had it been available. But for hobbyist work, at least my kind, the TH is plenty good enough.

   - Marc - Thursday, 07/31/08 08:34:28 EDT


I don't know how I can help you, but when I was a museum conservator, we mixed linseed oil with turpentine, 50/50, and rubbed it into the old, cleaned gun stocks. The turpentine tended to thin the oil and add penetrating power to it. After applying, we would rub the wooden pieces with a soft cotton cloth in order to bring out the shine. On a sculpture with crevices, a soft bristled brush might do, along with the cloth. I shape and scrape my hammer hafts and treat them the same way. I never noticed the smell hanging around for very long, or I may have become inured to it.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/31/08 08:35:26 EDT

Frank is right the smell should dissipate after a couple of days. You shouldn't put too heavy a coat on that there is a build up on the piece. Several coats thinned as Frank says that soak into the wood would be better. If you put on too heavy a coat you will have a sticky mess that will never dry

I use this mixture as a finish on muzzleloading rifles with as many as 20 or so very thin coats hand rubbed into the wood.
   - Bernard Tappel - Thursday, 07/31/08 10:22:08 EDT

Oiled Pig Sculpture: Ken, if you used properly boiled linseed oil it will dry in a couple months to a year (preferably in the barn). Washing will do no good, the point is it soaks in. When the surface is sufficiently dry (months) you can varnish it and that will seal the sculpture and the odor.

To prevent cracking with oil you need to soak and soak and soak it. . . After years of drying it may start to crack then you soak the cracks. . . Using a thinned mixture as Frank noted also works but then you have both oil and turpentine fumes.

Professional wood workers that use big blocks of wood soak them with one of the glycols. . I would have to look it up. It takes a LOT. They put pieces in barrels full of the stuff. Then they work the wood, let then dry and then finish the surface.

Like properly finishing steel for outdoor use it is an art to preserving and finishing heavy wood.

I used to oil paint in my bedroom. Liked the smell when I was young but I am not crazy about it now. It will make some people nausious.

   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 10:22:46 EDT

Treadle Hammers: Marc, good points on treadle hammers.

However, on the heavy work. . strikers used moderate weight sledges and there were LOTS of them. The big difference with a power hammer is that one can easily out work a team of strikers.

While your legs can produce a relatively slow but heavy blow using a treadle hammer your arms can swing a sledge overhead and produce as much or more energy. The biggest advantage of the TH is the ram is guided and you can hold the work. This combined guide and positioning assures the force of the blow goes where it should. Add a heavy blow to that and you are doing much more than you could alone.

The other advantage to a treadle hammer is that they are relatively simple and economical to build.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 10:41:46 EDT

im cutting up some steel plates and welding them into a block for use in the SCA how should i hide in welds?
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 11:45:36 EDT

The real big stuff, like ship anchors, required a large team of strikers. There's a video, probably now on Youtube, of a team re-creating an anchor forging. I doubt smaller power hammer could even keep up with them.

However, even a single striker can do lots of moving on big-ish stuff. For me, that's 1 to 2-inch. I tried to get a striker (my son) to help with my rounding hammer project, but not even pizza could coax him to come over :-) So I decided to work on the treadle hammer, instead. The TH easily beats a single striker for what it can do. I can repeat blows much faster than with a heavy swing of the sledge.

And you're absolutely right. Being able to position and precisely control a heavy hit (or even a light hit) is the biggest strength of a TH. Cutting, splitting, chiseling, punching, ... all are downright easy and fast now. I think that's it's a rare project where I don't use the TH for at least part of it.
   - Marc - Thursday, 07/31/08 12:26:45 EDT

The real big stuff, like ship anchors, required a large team of strikers. There's a video, probably now on Youtube, of a team re-creating an anchor forging. I doubt a smaller power hammer could even keep up with them.

However, even a single striker can do lots of moving on big-ish stuff. For me, that's 1 to 2-inch. I tried to get a striker (my son) to help with my rounding hammer project, but not even pizza could coax him to come over :-) So I decided to work on the treadle hammer, instead. The TH easily beats a single striker for what it can do. I can repeat blows much faster than with a heavy swing of the sledge.

And you're absolutely right. Being able to position and precisely control a heavy hit (or even a light hit) is the biggest strength of a TH. Cutting, splitting, chiseling, punching, ... all are downright easy and fast now. I think that's it's a rare project where I don't use the TH for at least part of it.
   - Marc - Thursday, 07/31/08 12:28:39 EDT

Oops. I refreshed several times to see if my post went through, and it didn't. So I sent it again.
   - Marc - Thursday, 07/31/08 12:29:42 EDT

Ken... Put your pig on the porch till it quits smellin...

Vicopper... I didn't care much for the scaffold work either. Especially after I learned the hard way my partner didn't know how to tie off a rope safely. I did like sign painting though (painting, building cans, letters. I had just started to learn how to blow glass (bend neon tubes) when I left to go into the service. Why sign painters to blacksmiths??? I think both have to have an appreciation and eye for nice curves (I was going to say art, but I don't want to offend anyone).
   - djhammerd - Thursday, 07/31/08 15:19:06 EDT

Bruce Wilcock (q.v. Google) has a video for sale of some acolytes and himself forging part of an anchor, well-coordinated three-striker effort. If you are lucky you will get one that actually plays.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/31/08 15:30:18 EDT

Det Cord! Now there is some truly fun stuff. If it wasn't for all these laws to protect everyone you could do some real cutting on some big steel if you live far enough from the neighbors. Nice quick way to dissassemble those old wroughtiron bridges into nice manageable pieces that you can cart off in your truck. Lots quicker than sawing and torch cutting.

That reminds me:I was told once that the hulls and turrets on some of the old tanks were made by putting a big pile of explosives in the bottom of a BIG concrete pit and then the slab of steel was lowered in followed by the die that the steel would be forced into by the blast.Then the pit was filled with water to help contain the blast I suppose this would qualify as extreme blacksmithing. Heat, hammer and quench in one smooth step.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 07/31/08 15:31:14 EDT

Dressing Welds: There are three key pieces of equipment in a welding shop, a cutting torch, an arc welder and an angle grinder. It is nearly impossible to work without all three.

The angle grinder is used to clean up rough torch work and bad welds OR welds that need to be hidden. It is also used to make weld preps that are smaller than you want to torch.

On heavy plate flush welds that can be made nearly invisible start with heavy weld preps (angled edges). Only minor grinding is necessary to make the weld absolutely flush if welded correctly.

   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 17:01:55 EDT

do we have any SCA guys here, cause im makin a forge for the SCA and i need to know if i line a wok with clay on the inside will it be accepted? and if not what else needs to be done?
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 17:57:07 EDT

Robert Cutting, explosive forming is a perfectly exceptable method of forming hull plates for battle ships but, to the best of my knowlage armored vehicles are either cast or a weldment.
I have heard of explosive forming used most often for some large part but, not terribly thick, and usualy only one or two parts needed, and can't find a press big enough.
   - merl - Thursday, 07/31/08 18:23:06 EDT

Robert Cutting, I too share your appreciation of Det cord, and I would add that loverly C-rat cooker, C-4:)
To my knowledge no modern tank has had a hull or turret explosively formed. There have been three methods pretty much since the start.
Casting, welding, and riveting. In WWII the Germans, at Henshel, with some guidance from Ferdinan Porshe started welding hulls and turrets. VERY ugly joints designed to be made in primitive conditions. Big joggle joints that keyed the plate to each other.

The US built huge amounts of armour, using cast, welded and riveted. Riveted was not a good choice from a users standpoint!
Pacific Car and foundrey, Canadian Car and foundrey and others had the capacity to cast an entire turret, but the hulls were welded from castings and plate.
Later, the foudreys gained the experience to make even thicker, and much bigger castings. The M-48&60 was cast.
The M-1 for current use is a composite, I think joined by welding. The armour composition is still classified I
From Memory, the actual thickness of the front slope of the M-60 was about 5-6", and with the slope gave an effective thickness of about 8-9". Turret was similar in front.
I would guess the turret of a M-60 would go about 20 tons and the casting bare probably 16 tons. Very complex shape to explosively form as a whole.
   ptree - Thursday, 07/31/08 18:33:51 EDT

I have heard of explosive forming---quite different from explosive welding being used to form large dome sections for tanks used to hold fluids or NG.

The explosive welding on warships I read about was to create a plate to mate Al to steel so you could have an Al superstructure and a steel hull; both metals could be then welded to their sides of the plate with no difficulties.

Jacob, depending on how fussy your local groups would be you should have no problem building a small forge that way. Out here in the explosively dry southwest I am sometimes forced to bring a propane forge to SCA events as that is the only thing allowed by the site owners; they won't even allow charcoal for cooking! If we can cook with propane then I can forge with propane---they've bought that reasoning so far...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/31/08 19:09:00 EDT

Ptree: Thanks for clearing up the tank hull issue. After looking at them in the past I figured they were cast but could not disprove the possibility of explosive shaping as a method. I knew the M-1'S were welded slabs so there is no surface perpendicular to the ground or to one another so most shots against it will prove to be a glancing blow. We were told by some CDATs (if you know this acronym they've almost run you over too) that it was a composite laminated armour (or at least parts of it) usings depleted uranium because of it's density. Might just be more idle speculation. C-4 more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 07/31/08 20:09:28 EDT

Robert Cutting. The M-1's came after I left the service, although I was almost run over by some then weird proto's at Ft Knox, that I would now say look a lot like a M-1. I worked on M-60 A2's the Starship, and M-551 Sheridans. I was a Shillegh Missile system repairman.

I believe the composite armour know as Cobham is a composite of steel and ceramic. With a HEAT round one gets a focused plasma like jet of extremely short duration that if deflected can't get thru the armour. The depleted uranium roounds work in a somewhat similar way as at the impact pressure and temps they are pryoforic. I would not be surprised to hear that this composite also had a hard layer and maybe a very soft layer such as the dense foam in the M-551.
   ptree - Thursday, 07/31/08 20:16:26 EDT

I've always thought reactive armor was an interesting concept . . .
   Mike BR - Thursday, 07/31/08 20:52:06 EDT

Jacob, SCA or NOT a wok is not a very good shape for a forge. Its for cooking. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 21:01:29 EDT

They do make some "reactive" armour that bolts to the outside of vehicles and causes a early detonation of the warhead if it is not a solid round. I guess a more accurate description would be ablative armour since it blows away and leaves the next layer to absorb the next shot.

As a combat engineer once we got done avoiding being runover by the tankers on their way through the breach some of us would go over and nose around the tanks. They are quite impressive feats of engineering. Taking a good look at them also allowed for us to come up with better ways of stopping them and their counterparts should we ever actually fight another foe with modern armour. Fighting a ground based war without our own armour support would not be fun. Hopefully that will never happen.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 07/31/08 21:09:06 EDT

Hi Guru,
I've seen a few references about "brass brushing" at black heat. What exactly does this do? Does it protect in any way, or just give a dark shine?
   Craig - Thursday, 07/31/08 21:30:35 EDT

Our own VIcopper has some experience with explosive forming & welding, If i remember, He even developed a process combining the two...
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/31/08 21:32:46 EDT

Have I got this right? You have got a brake drum. You are also looking for something with which to make a firge and are suggesting a wok!
   philip in china - Thursday, 07/31/08 22:33:14 EDT

yes, im just considering ideas, i want to make a lightweight portable one for travel in the sca and im gonna line it with clay on the inside for insulation, and i think it will be a booger to cut the 70 lbs 1 inch thick brake drum with a sawzaw, or will it? its about an inch thick on the walls cuase its a big rig brake drum and its very thick and heavy any guess as to what it would take to cut that monster?
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 22:44:10 EDT

and im gonna put my drum in a metal 3'x2' table when its gets cut and its gonna be set off to the left with tool rack on metal sheet welded to the back away from the heat so itll be a 130lbs atleast i think and very bulky
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 22:48:11 EDT

it does sound kind of stupid though hah lol you have a point,but the brake drum will be fairly stationary so i was looking for a very light portable solution.... but your right it sounds dumb hahaha, and it very well may be but the wok was free so im not really at a loss if it doesnt last very long even with the clay
   - jacob lockhart - Thursday, 07/31/08 23:04:21 EDT

Brass Brushing: Craig, The brass brush puts a very thing brass plating on the hot iron. It is nice for highlights on unfinished work but can only have a light clear coat over it.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 23:13:00 EDT

Jacob, Wood, sheet metal or light plate, no clay. Use what you find when you get there of clay it on site and dump the clay with the ash.

A great source for several thicknesses of sheet metal is an old hot water heater. The tanks are heavy enough to make a light weight forge and the covering is suitable for a low use hood or smoke screen. Same weight as your wok but a better shape OR you can cut up the tank and form it to the shape you need. This will cut with a sawzall and you can drill and rivet the parts together.

Old appliances have all kinds of handy dandy parts and materials. You can be PAID to haul them off. Avoid refrigerators. Any plumber will have a yard full of heaters to get rid of. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/08 23:19:50 EDT

Thanks to Marc for the info on the treadle hammer.
Along those same lines I was thinking of a "treadle handle" to hold the top striking tools that I barrow from the club. Just a spring loaded affair that brings the top tool down to the correct hight and square on the bottom half so I can drive the tongs with one hand and strike with the other but, I can see were a treadle hammer could also serve well.
While I'm saveing up the money for the the power hammer materiel I probably have enough laying around to knock up an effective treadle hammer.
Somthing else I keep forgeting to ask about. If I had to do a forge weld on a peice that was too big or awkward to get into the fire, could I use a Oxy-Accet torch to heat them to weld temp?
I relize of corse I could just torch weld the parts together but, my question is would the O/A torch cause problems for the forge weld?
Any one near Wisconsin this weekend is invited to bring your hammers to the Dodge County Antique Power Club show just outside of Bernett, Wis. We just added another ten feet to the line shaft in the blacksmith shop and we're bound to have some fun for the next few days.
   - merl - Friday, 08/01/08 01:19:01 EDT

Torch/Forge Welding: Merl, it is very hard to control enough atmosphere to do this but it is possible. You have to actually get the entire area to stick before removing the torch.
   - guru - Friday, 08/01/08 09:01:03 EDT

Tool Holders: I designed something like this to fit in the hardy hole many moons ago. It used common sized tools that were held in by a wedge. Today I would use a locking screw with a handle.

Those that hold handled tools must have a vertical adjustment and fit many sizes and types of handles.

Almost as handy is work holders and stock stands. See our iForge demo #125 on hold down tools. Stock stands have been built into the anvil stand but are probably best as stand alone tools. Good stock stands will adjust form below anvil height to slightly above bench height. Most are three legged so that they are steady on variable surfaces. Those used for general work do not want rollers on them. However, the V of a piece of angle iron will support stock two different ways.

Hold downs do the gross work and then you can use chisels and punches to your heart's content.

For most of these three handed jobs smiths often learn to do without and hold work between their legs or just work on loose pieces setting on the anvil.
   - guru - Friday, 08/01/08 09:16:28 EDT

What is the hardest carbon steel yall have on the online metals store, is it the Cold Drawn Carbon Round 1144 stress proof?
   - jacob lockhart - Friday, 08/01/08 15:27:43 EDT

Jacob, It would be one of the tool steels such as O1 which is used at 64HRc.

Note that many steels will harden to 62-64 HRc but under recommended use they are tempered much lower.

Depending on the use and how you are going to treat it every steel has advantages and disadvantages.
   - guru - Friday, 08/01/08 17:08:22 EDT

Thanks, as for the purpose though i was gonna make my old man a knife and i wanted some good carbon steel
   - jacob lockhart - Friday, 08/01/08 20:24:06 EDT

Jacob: If You are set on using the brake drum, don't cut it, just build the bottom to the depth & shape You want with clay or refractory cement
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 08/01/08 21:35:08 EDT

OK, how much will the cement run me you think? and i can get this at most masonry supply places?
   - jacob lockhart - Friday, 08/01/08 22:42:35 EDT

i looked at the coal scuttle and wanted to know how i could do a good search on coal suppliers locally without to much others stuff coming up on the internet, and it soft bituminous coal decent coal for foreging?
   - jacob lockhart - Friday, 08/01/08 23:46:38 EDT

Jacob just use clay to fill the base of the firepot. There are loads of recipes for different additives but most are more to do with alchemy than science. The local smith here just picks up a handful of clay from outside his shop and uses that!
   philip in china - Saturday, 08/02/08 07:23:09 EDT

Dear Sirs,
I wanted to make some German silver. At what temperature would the nickel go into solution? Mr. Turley suggested putting borax on top. I need expertise on this matter.

Thank you,
   Mike Thompson - Saturday, 08/02/08 08:10:50 EDT

Question on SCA events: I have not been to one, but don't they require relatively accurate period representation? For example, I have been told at a Civil War event you might get away with using a lever-cranked rivet forge, but not a blower one. At a Mountainman event, neither might be acceptable - at least within the encampment area.

Just curious.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/02/08 08:28:20 EDT

Ken, having attended large and small SCA events in several kingdoms, I would say it depends. Most are less accurate to period in many respects than a Civil War or Mountain Man event would be. Many folks in SCA know what period blacksmithing looks like, but relatively few actually do it. Out-of-period or fantasy-based armour or clothing would be tolerated a lot less than out-of-period metalworking tools.
   mstu - Saturday, 08/02/08 15:01:06 EDT

Fortunately, the historical correctness of SCA has become much better in the 20 years since I attended my first SCA event.
   mstu - Saturday, 08/02/08 15:02:46 EDT

have a question about o-1 tool steel. i asked earlier about making an anvil face thats 1" thick and 4" wide....what rods would i use to weld it? are the rods to be high in manganese or moybdenum or something else? also what percentage of the rod constitutes a high value? 4%? im out of my league here....thanks!
   - armymechanic78 - Saturday, 08/02/08 18:23:25 EDT

i posted a few weeks ago about welding an o-1 face on my homemade anvil.....what rods would i use....high in manganese? if so what percentage is considered high? 4%? i appriciate the help....
   armymechanic78 - Saturday, 08/02/08 18:29:08 EDT

Alloying: Mike, Alloying is somewhat of an art. However there are some general rules. Most melted metals will rapidly disolve other metals. So, you start with your lowest temperature melting metal or alloy and add the higher temperature meting material. Generally the melting point of the two is somewhat lower than the higher melting alloy. However, this is not so straight forward so it helps to look up known combinations and adjust the heat as necessary during the melt.

When this rule rule is not used is when you need to add a small amount of a low temperature melting metal to a higher temperature melting metal. Heat the high temperature melting metal until it just barely melts or is still semi-molten (pasty) then add the low temp metal. These will mix and the whole will usually become fully molten without increasing the temperature.

A flux covering such as borax helps reduce oxidation. In some cases they use charcoal powder.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/02/08 20:02:13 EDT

Welding Tool Steels: ArmyMechanic, The rods for doing this are usually proprietary types that go by trade names rather than electrode numbers. Often the additives are in the flux covering, not the rod wire. One popular rod was called "Super Missile Rod" and was high manganese. I am not sure of the percentage. Pre and post heat treatment are as important as the rod.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/02/08 20:06:14 EDT

SCA Historical References: Some SCA is historical, much is mythical. The rules to follow are your local group or "Kindonm". Where historical accuracy is most important is when attempting to achieve various ranks in the organization. However, I understand that this is more social/political than anything else. It reflects (maybe amplifies) the real world in that WHO you know is more important than WHAT you know.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/02/08 20:12:37 EDT

Trust Dave Boyer to remind me of my follies! (grin)

I worked on a project where we were machining dies to explosion form parts from aluminum for a small lightweight camping stove. After we got the dies mchined, we just had to try it out; a bit optimistic on the charge required however, and we had to machine all that aluminum back off the die faces. A perfect, though entirely unintentional, explosion weld. Live and learn, eh?
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/02/08 20:16:15 EDT

is the soft bituminous coal decent for forging, can you weld with it?
   - jacob lockhart - Saturday, 08/02/08 20:39:52 EDT

Jacob, Yes, that is generally the best. However, there are infinite grades of coal and dozens of constituents that can make a big difference. In general high purity coal has high BTU (high heat). But coal can have too much non-flamable (mineral) content that produces ash OR too much volatile (oils) that reduces coking and makes more tall flames than concentrated heat.

Good coal is great. Bad coal is only good in large furnaces or for paving driveways.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/02/08 20:49:12 EDT

"Super Missile" tig welding rod is like magic on anything including cast iron
   - merl - Saturday, 08/02/08 21:11:18 EDT

When i ask my farrier supply, what in a perfect world would they say about there coal like the grade and the type and other information? Im new to coal ive been a charcoal person for awhile so i dont know what stuff they say should appeal to me
   - jacob lockhart - Saturday, 08/02/08 21:36:09 EDT

I suppose trial and error on explosion forming gets rather expensive in a hurry. Great memory to share with rest of use though. Always a good idea to learn from somebody elses experience. Too bad modern day concern for the welfare of others has prevented reasonable explosives use by those responsible enough to do it properly. Explosives really are an art form and can do some amazing things when properly applied.Civilian job opportunities are limited and the military ones require tolerating too much BS and running when there isn't live demo going off. Also no room for artistic expression.
   Robert Cutting - Saturday, 08/02/08 21:37:37 EDT

OOPS! super missile is not for cast iron I was thinkng of a Caronatron product...
   - merl - Saturday, 08/02/08 21:48:41 EDT


I use propane myself, but any coal your farrier supply carries should be suitable for blacksmithing. Actually, I doubt they'd carry more than one grade, but it do, you can always buy a little of each and see which you like better.

If your forge isn't quite period correct, can't you call it a creative anachronism? (grin)
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/02/08 22:34:35 EDT

thanks Mike
   - jacob lockhart - Saturday, 08/02/08 23:07:28 EDT

Some one was asking about pine cones wile back.
Brad Nichols beautiful work is demonstrated in Vol.10,#3
Summer 2002 Hammer's Blow. He is also shown in Roger Dengner's UMBA dvd #RD73 of the 2002 Abana conference in Lacrosse.

Jay Hisel of Bigriverforge.com in in Lansing, Iowa sells
cut blanks for a different style. Check in "for the blacksmith"
   Andrew T - Saturday, 08/02/08 23:36:15 EDT

Thanks for that observation Mike. When I saw the name included anachronism I immediately thought of an ancient charcoal forge with an electric blower and a TIG welder. I have no doubt that "in those days" blacksmiths used any advantage they could get.
   philip in china - Sunday, 08/03/08 09:00:50 EDT

Merl- Who makes "Super Missile"?

   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 08/03/08 18:31:21 EDT

A friend has used the "super missle rod" along with proper pre- and post heat to make some anvil repairs and had great results.
   Brian C - Sunday, 08/03/08 20:49:42 EDT

Robert, they do a lot of civilian explosive work fairly close to where I work---EMRTC Energetic Materials Research and Training Center is on the NM Tech campus just like the AOC.

The have a standing job opening for blasters and they things they do can get very interesting---like making industrial diamonds with explosives.

EMRTC also has a long history of Art as well and the NMT campus has many pieces done by explosive repousee and explosive welding.

Back when they were trying to widen the civilian use of explosives they partnered with an artist who pioneered many of the artistic techniques using explosives. I got to hear a talk given by her and I remember her complaining how the cost of plastic explosives has quadraupled in trecent years---not something most artists complain about though *EVERYONE* complains about the cost of materials going up!

Re that job: see the nmt.edu website and go to Jobs on their link menu. If anyone comes out this way let me know and we can have lunch and I'll show you my shop...
   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 08/03/08 21:04:18 EDT

Judson, I couldn't tell you at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night but, "The Guru" or one of the others might know off the top of their head. I would have to try my local welding supply/srevice store(I don't mean the hardware store or Home Depot either) Baring that you might try MSC Industrial Supply on line or some company like that
   - merl - Sunday, 08/03/08 23:39:35 EDT

A quick search on the web. .

Thermacote-Welco Super Missile Weld


It is a high alloy rod that comes in 6 grades for tool steals and another grade for alloy steels. Each is dependent on what you are welding. It is NOT cheap.

Back when the Bull hammers had H13 dies welded to a mild steel plate this is the rod that was being used. Rods were a couple dollars each back then. . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/04/08 00:27:50 EDT

Thomas Powers: Thanks for the info on the blasting school.I'll keep it in mind if my current exodous to England falls apart and I come back here again. Wish I had never been forced to leave Arizona for the eastcoast as a child. If I do come back I'm heading back into the desert country. I'm so tired of mowing grass and humidity it's not even funny.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 08/04/08 09:43:35 EDT

Hello Guru,
I work for a non-profit organization called Dynamy. I am a youth advisor. I place 17-22 year old people in internships in Worcester, MA or near-by. A recent request from one of our in-coming interns request to be placed as a blacksmith. I am having a hard time finding a placement. Do you have any suggestions? The person claims to be above a novice, and has at least 3 years experience. He is required to work 35 hours a week in unpaid internship. He will continue to do blacksmithing in college after our program. Can you help find this person an intership? He is also interested in curating.
all the best,
   Jesse - Monday, 08/04/08 09:53:23 EDT

Jesse, Go to the ABANA-Chapter link on our right hand drop down menu. Look for the local associations in your area.

Such positions in true blacksmith shops are difficult to find. "Free" help is not very free when dealing with expensive or antique machinery and an artistic environment. Do not overlook the historic sites that are looking for demonstrators and assistants. I can think of several in your area.

The next best position is in an "Ironworks" where welding and fabrication is done. These folks do a lot of the railings you see but very little forging. But the lessons in assembly and economics are worth learning.

The problem in this area is that blacksmithing with forging is most commonly an area of self employment. Artist blacksmiths mostly work alone or with temporary help when the job is large enough. Few have room for or are insured for having others in their place of business.

   - guru - Monday, 08/04/08 10:09:43 EDT


I am developing a historic blacksmith shop for a local historical society down here on the Cape. We are literally rebuilding it from the ground up, and it will provide much opportunity for curating as well as smithing. I am also on track to open a commercial shoip in the same area this fall. Please contact me or have your prospect contact me at the email below if interested.
   Peter Hirst - Monday, 08/04/08 15:15:37 EDT

Peter, If you are building a shop for demos note that it is much different than a true working shop. A good demo shop has room for the public, the audience to be a sufficient distance form the work yet see what is happening. It often helps to raise the audience or provide bleacher type seating. This helps get them clear of most flying scale and gives them a better view.
   - guru - Monday, 08/04/08 15:37:38 EDT

Jesse, I am sure that between Peter Hirst and myself, we could give your intern an experience. I have a list of spec pieces I am trying to find time to do.
   John Christiansen - Monday, 08/04/08 15:38:06 EDT

There ya go. . . ;)
   - guru - Monday, 08/04/08 16:08:12 EDT

Peter; which "Cape"; I can name a dozen or so off the top of my head and I don't even sail!

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/04/08 16:55:21 EDT


Obviously you don't live in Massachusetts (not that I do either, now).
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/04/08 17:18:02 EDT

Well I used to live in New Jersey, which has Cape May and my father used to work for NASA which had Cape Canaveral and I've known of smiths around Capetown South Africa....Mass; that would be Cape Cod now wouldn't it? Capes in Spain and France as well IIRC.

*the* cape is always Canaveral to me...we used to vacation at Coco Beach whne my Father was in NASA, saw several launches including Apollo 11 and let me tell you a Saturn 5 is *very* *impressive* taking off!

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/04/08 17:58:41 EDT

Tis like "The City". Of course there is only ONE,

New York
Mexico (simply called "Mexico" in Mexico, NOT "Mexico City"

   - guru - Monday, 08/04/08 18:18:34 EDT

Then there's The City of London, which does *not* refer to the entire metropolis.
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/04/08 18:47:44 EDT

Thanks for all the pine cone building tips and help.
Been away for a bit, but I do appreciate the info.
   Frauklug - Monday, 08/04/08 18:59:19 EDT

Another place. . "THE Bay"

In Virginia, Delaware and Maryland its the Chesapeake Bay, the largest in the US.

In Miami its Biscayne Bay the strip of water that separates the sand bars known as "Miami beach" from the mainland. Nothing compared to Chesapeake Bay.

In California its the San Fransisco Bay.

In Canada its the Hudson Bay.

And many many more. .
   - guru - Monday, 08/04/08 19:23:38 EDT

Thanks Merl and Guru, it's not often I tig oddball stuff but I figured that if you had a silver bullet... I'm due a trip to the local welding supply outfit, maybe I'll order some in just in case.
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 08/04/08 20:33:13 EDT

There is more than one Cape...(dumbfounded stare)
   John Christiansen - Monday, 08/04/08 20:51:31 EDT

Jesse: Instead of one shop, you might consider a serials of one-week at different shops. Smiths may be more receptive to such an arrangement rather than a full tour at only one. If the student were mobile, might include a fairly large geographic area.
   - Ken Scharabok - Monday, 08/04/08 21:46:46 EDT

That's funny but, when I hear of "The Cape" I always think of Cape Horn.
You're welcome Judson but, befor you buy some super missle on "speculation" consider one former employer of mine used to keep the stuff locked up in the office and issued out only as much as you needed for the job.
   - merl - Monday, 08/04/08 22:21:29 EDT

Yep, published prices were $30/lb and that includes flux. Only found rod, not wire but it may exist.
   - guru - Monday, 08/04/08 22:35:12 EDT

Power Hammers
Hello Guru, I have been forging full time in Wakefield, Quebec for the last 15 years. For eleven of them I did everything by hand, 4 years ago I found a champion mechanical hammer (patented in 1902) and with some tinkering I got it working and have been using it daily.I make many different objects (tables, railings, sculptures). I primarily use material up to a max. of 1 1/4" steel. Even though I adjust it frequently the "kick out" caused by each blow makes using hand held dies difficult to control. I am interested in making a junkyard hammer, with the hammer travelling trough a guide and have been inspired by your website. My question is do which do you think delivers the stronger blow: the flat spring mounted on the top of the hammer or the curved spring linkage? Thank you Michael
   Michael Kinghorn - Tuesday, 08/05/08 11:29:37 EDT

Michael, The Dupont linkage with toggle arms always hits hardest. They can be built with both coil and leaf springs.

Note that "kick out" is caused by sloppy guides. If the top die can move to the side it will while forging on the edge of the dies. This results in kicking out the work. So a good guide system is required for this type forging. Folks that do nothing but heavy drawing rarely notice the problem.

On hand held tools the problem is similar and can be reduced using guides in the tools. However, these are never quite like a machine guide.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/05/08 12:52:16 EDT

Hi, I've got a quick question on blade smithing, and I'll try not to seem too much like everyone obsessed with just making swords, like what you usually get. My question is simple: Is there any practical application in using metals from the platinum group (Palladium, Platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium) to help forge the blade, or make as an alloy to strengthen the blade. Also, I would like to thank you for the devotion you put into this site, as it's helped a lot in my metallurgical research I am doing now, and given me plenty of reading material I can use. Thanks for all your work
   David Jacobs - Tuesday, 08/05/08 12:58:42 EDT

David, your question reveals that you have no real working knowlege of strengthening mechanisms in ferrous alloy systems. The simple answer to your question is no. I suggest you spend a bit of time in the library to find out why.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/05/08 13:16:35 EDT

Awwww. . . a platinum rhodium blade would be great while fighting demons from the netherworld. . Have to forge using a solar furnace, #14 shades and full reflective gear . . . It would make a great fantasy movie scene. . the inattentive apprentice's tongs melting from holding the work too long. . .

Maybe that is why there has been a rash of stealing auto catalytic converters. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/05/08 13:26:09 EDT

David, about the platinum group being practical, yes it makes fine jewelry. There are probably one or more Shriners (Masons having fun support children’s hospitals) who would love some fashion accessories in the form of a schimitar sword. You can see examples of 14K Palladium White Gold/Sterling mokume twist pattern by Phillip Baldwin at http://www.shiningwave.com/ .
   Bob Johnson - Tuesday, 08/05/08 15:52:59 EDT

Mostly I just lurk on Anvilfire, keeping my mouth shut, my eyes open and learning as much as possible. Been backyard smithing about once a month since '04, brake drum forge and 104 lb PW, been using a squirell cage for a blower but I just came across a BF 300 blower at a price i can live with. Couple of questions that I'm sure I saw discussed on the forum, but can't find in the archives. How much oil am I supposed to put in the gear reservoir on this type of blower and what type? Any tips for working with a hand cranked blower?

Brake drum forge is about 4 inches deep and while I can burn up steel, I can't seem to get a weld to stick, I'm guessing I'm in the oxidizing part of the fire and need a deeper firepot for forging with charcoal, so when I build version 2.0 of my forge (with a fuel reserve this time) what's a reasonable depth for working with charcoal?

last question, I make a lot leaves and hooks, generally 1/4 - 1/2 inch stock. I made a die for leaf veins by hot chiseling veins into a RR spike head, then deepening and widening them with a file, hoping I could drive a hot leaf shape into the die to make raised veins but it never seems to work. I get, at best, very shallow raised veins on the leaf, and a second hammer blow just offsets the pattern and further distorts the leaf outline. Do I need to work thicker leaves, hotter or do the die grooves need to be oversized?

Blower was from a garage smithy in Berkeley, CA that's been used for storage since the late 40s's according to the grandson. Still has a big rivet forge with blower, grinders, pipe vise, hammers, tongs etc and from the scrap pile in the yard I pulled two drifts without even looking. Can I post the owners number on the Guru's den or the Hammerin? He asked if I'd let other smiths know about what he has.

Michael-Richmond, CA, getting ready to join CBA, having gone about as far as he can self taught.
   Michael - Tuesday, 08/05/08 16:16:44 EDT

Blower Oil: These machines have no seals. They need a little oil all the time. Blower tip. . keep it oiled!

At about 6 to 8" in charcoal with a gentle blast you get a nice heat. The trick is a heat that almost melts without burning.

Vein dies need to be a little oversize. The trick is getting a good hard blow over enough surface to do the job. I prefer to use chiseled (grooved) veins in a folded leaf. If you chisel veins in one half, fold and hammer, you get slight raised mirror image veins in the other side.

Using a die you might try driving the die into the work on the anvil face. OR clamping the hot work against the die in the vise.

The Hammer-In is the right place to post items for sale.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/05/08 16:28:05 EDT

I looked up the price of platinum. . . $1,600 troy/oz +/- $100 depending on the phase of the moon. . . About twice that of gold and about 10x harder to work. . .

Silver which WAS a bargain, is still a relative bargain.
If I had any to invest, I'd put my money in silver.

   - guru - Tuesday, 08/05/08 16:57:45 EDT


I was wondering: what type of respirator, if any, should I use when working with that Kaowool for lining a gas forge? I was planning on working outdoors, not indoors, by the way. Thank you for any advice.
   mike3 - Tuesday, 08/05/08 18:14:09 EDT

Mike3. The risk in working with Kaowool, like all fiberous materials is from inhaled fibers. To be inhaled fibers need to be vanishingly small. So small one can not see them. With Asbestso, another risky fiber, the most dangerous are 1 x 3 Microns(Micrometers) A red bloopd cell is about 4 x 6 Micrometers. A human can't see an object much less than about 40 micrometers.

That said, the best first defense is to use work practices that do not generate dust. If removing old friable (crumbly) Kaowool, first mist it down with water amended with about a tablespoon of dish soap per gallon. Soak it pretty good. Don't use practices like grinding, wirebrushing or an air nozzle to blow out the shell.

For a respirator any properly fitted respirator with HEPA filters are the correct choice. If you were to be working in industry, a respirator physical to check that you are healthy enough to take the added effort to suck air through the filters. You would also be trained how to fit and adjust the respirator as well as a fit test to ensure a proper seal. You could not be certified to wear the respirator unless all the above have been done and you could not wear facial hair that was along the face seal line.

Part of the training is how to remove the respirator. With fibers as the threat, in industry we would have you strip, tossing the disposalbe coveralls in the fiber trash, and then shower, with the mask on. Then you would remove the respirator, toss the filters and wash out the respirator.

The above is probably overkill for your job, but I would fit the respirator, and rinse out my hair and head with a garden hose before removing the mask at a minimum.

I prefer the Half face type respirator by AO Safety called a Quicklatch. Fits well and is great for after the Kaowool job is done for wear when welding and derusting and other dusty operations. Ask for the "pancake" filter, they fit under weld hoods. You can also switch the filters for a "Organic Vapor cartridge" to protect if spray painting.

For more info just ask. I have been a asbestos abatement supervisor off and on for a few years, as well as an industrial safety guy
   ptree - Tuesday, 08/05/08 18:53:57 EDT

Yeah, but this is not industry and a one-off job. So what would be the best course of action for this?

I was curious, would this work?:
   mike3 - Tuesday, 08/05/08 19:31:48 EDT

Mike3 see paragraph #5 and 6 above.
   ptree - Tuesday, 08/05/08 20:06:26 EDT

Yes, I read that. Do I have to get the filters separately? And they're kind of pricey and I'm tight on cash...
   mike3 - Tuesday, 08/05/08 20:41:42 EDT

Our machineguns (7.62/.308) used to have a special platinum lined barrel when used in "sustained fire" role. Why would that be?
   philip in china - Tuesday, 08/05/08 20:57:31 EDT

Respirators. . .

If you use one at all it should FIT and have the right filter. Hospital masks are a joke and designed to keep sputum IN and not much of anything OUT. When you see people wearing them in bad air and contagion contaminated places they are nothing more than a feel good crutch.

Most cheap respirators are just more expensive emotional feel good devices. Unless the rubber is sufficiently soft and properly shaped as well as having support and enough straps pulling them on tight so that NO air can get around the edges they too are near worthless.

Think about it this way, would you wear the thing in a situation where the slightest wiff of a substance was instantly lethal? No? Then it is a joke.

Good respirators are quite expensive but cheaper than a new set of lungs. . . Many are sold to placate government rules in situations where they are not tested or the employees trained in their use.

In respirator training it is common to use a product like bannana oil mist (which is noxious and will make you nauseous) in a booth or sprayed around the edges of your mask to test the fit. You learn they have to be dang tight to work properly. You also must be clean shaven (recently and for some that means more than once a day). One size does NOT fit all.

All that said, new kaowool is fairly harmless. It is old burned kaowool that has broken down into fine dust from heat (or is purposely ground micro fine (like they did for laboratory rat tests) that is the problem. If you are only dealing with a few feet then I would not worry about it. If you are worried about it then use a fan to blow the dust away from you OR just stay in bed that day.

The last time you handled fiberglass insulation what precautions did you take? The state of California rates kaowool blanket exactly the same as firerglass.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/05/08 21:16:19 EDT

Phillip, probably to prevent lead and powder compounds from sticking to the bore. Lead build up may be the problem but I do not know how platinium would stop this other than its very high melting point.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/05/08 21:20:08 EDT

I think that platinum's high melting point along with its quick dissapation of heat might be the reason. This is also why it is used in certain specialty circuits and connectors in the electronics industry. It is also a very good conductor when compared to other metallic elements.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 08/05/08 22:33:01 EDT

Phillip, I was a 45B in the Army (small arms repair) I know that barrel bores and chambers were chrome lined to prevent corrosion due to burning propellent and errosion of the rifeling due to same but, I can't say that I ever heard of platinum being used. If you could find out what model that might shed some lite on it.
When I was in, the only weapons we saw in 7.62 were the M60 MG, the M14, and the loaders and gunners weapons on the M60 and M1 tanks. I was trained on an M134 but never saw one in the feild. The M134 had a cyclic rate of 3000 rounds per min. and perhaps they were platinum lined and I just missed that one.

Platinum Shriners schimitar... maybe we could make a platinum, gold and titanium laminant sheet and then use a CNC plasma torch to cut them out and then hammer a bunch of used CBN diamond incerts into the edge of the blade so it will stay sharp!...COOL!
(sory Guru, I couldn't resist)
   - merl - Tuesday, 08/05/08 23:02:03 EDT


Well, I haven't installed fiberglass before but I suppose I
could look for the type of respirator they use for that. Would that do? And I'm just dealing with installation and this is a very occasional type of job to do (not something I'm doing as part of a forge-building business every day or week or something) in case you needed to know.
   mike3 - Tuesday, 08/05/08 23:15:19 EDT

Sorry I didn't make it clear. It was the British army. The gun was the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). The action was identical to an M60- discarding belt. I have used both and certainly wouldn't exchange a GPMG for an M60. The GPMG was used on everything- hence the name- including ships anti aircraft, armoured vehicles and, of course, infantry section machine gun.

At Company level there were very heavy tripods which converted it ino a heavy machine gun (in both senses of the word) but still using standard 7.62 it would spit out rounds at a phenomenal rate through the platinum lined barrel. I don't know what would have happened if you had used an ordinary barrel in teh SF role but suspect it would have melted.
   philip in china - Wednesday, 08/06/08 01:10:36 EDT

I'm looking for a custom trowel. Do you know of any blacksmiths that work nationwide and will ship or have a shop in the Boston area?

Also, what materials would you recommend? I can buy a standard steel Trowel at any hardware store but I want something more reliable. I use pointer trowels to dig for archaeology and steel trowels rust/bend/dull quickly.
   - Brandon - Wednesday, 08/06/08 02:17:59 EDT


I failed to thank you for the information you gave me on alloys ( German Silver ). I have had medical problems, but came back here to thank you. This is a good site, and your expertise is greatly appreciated.
   Mike Thompson - Wednesday, 08/06/08 02:39:51 EDT

I remember (from my very brief career in the USMC) that the barrels of our M-14s were nickel (or chrome, per Merl's post) lined. We were told that this was to reduce fouling from both powder and lead, so I guess the GPMG was a step up. I'll check with some of my arms collecting friends (serious collectors, not dilettantes like me. ;-)

Platinum, as well as being beautiful, is just so d@^^n useful in so many industrial applications. Hence, the high price- it's a double whammy.

As for platinum and swords- I'd keep it to the hilt, for decorative purposes and any added protection it may provide; remember, without a stout hilt folks will be calling the swordsman "Lefty" in a pretty short time.

Sunny and not-to-bad on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Prks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 08/06/08 10:43:55 EDT

what is the best way of welding magnesium and why?
   Thami - Wednesday, 08/06/08 11:00:04 EDT

Thami; that sounds like a homework question and it is the stated policy of this site *not* to do homework for people.

If it's not such a question give us more info on your situation and we can address it.

Hint: what is one property of magnesium that might cause problems when welding it?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/06/08 11:07:43 EDT

Thomas, just go ahead and answer the question, You use a magnesium welder. Silly.
   JLW - Wednesday, 08/06/08 11:11:29 EDT

Brandon, I will make a custom trowel for you. I am on the Cape. 508-280-8807
   John Christiansen - Wednesday, 08/06/08 11:15:46 EDT

I am a timber framer. I was wondering if you know of anyone who makes broadaxes. I want to buy an old fashioned broadaxe for a right handed guy like me. Most modern broad axes are fairly light weight(2 to 3lb heads) rather than 7lb heads. Thank-you
   eric - Wednesday, 08/06/08 11:30:52 EDT

As I was searching the internet looking for finishes for my iron work I came across boiled linseed oil being used much in the same way beeswax is. Can I get some more info on this subject please?
   - John L. - Wednesday, 08/06/08 11:32:38 EDT

Amateur Finishes (a pet peeve): John L. These are primitive homemade paints and varnishes. We live in a world where there are fantastically efficient and laboratory formulated and tested finishes that are MUCH better. Why would you want to make your own?

IF you look into many paint formulations they are made of oils, waxes, solvent, cobalt (or Japan) drier and the pigment or filler. These are the SAME things in the more sophisticated home-made recipes EXCEPT that the commercial products often have compounds you cannot buy in small quantities.

Boiled linseed oil is the raw material used to make many varnishes. When you purchase a commercial varnish it comes with a drier to accelerate drying, blended solvents to improve flow and drying. IF you study the varnishes hand made by master oil painters they used similar materials. The ONLY reason they formulated their own is that they could not buy a commercial product. Today artists use off the shelf products. Shouldn't you?

If you want a clear finish, ask a paint supplier. Most will tell you they do not hold up on bare steel or are not recommended outdoors. Clear acrylic lacquer is best and must be applied with a spray gun. You will need about 4-5 gallons of thinner per gallon of finish. Dupont's clear is selling for a couple hundred dollars a gallon last I checked.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/06/08 12:37:44 EDT

Brandon, what kind of trowels are you buying that bend or break so easily? I'm still on my first Marshalltown 45-5 that I bought in 1991.

For the ulitmate in rustproof, edge-holding ability in a trowel I'd use one of the new miracle alloys like Crucible's CPM S90V. It's not a forgeable alloy, but it's extremely stainless and wear-resistant if heat-treated properly. That said, I think it'd be silly to do that. Marshalltown uses something that acts like 1095, although 5160 would do a spiffy job as well. Although John should use whatever he thinks will work best for him.

Alan Longmire, archaeologist since 1987, bladesmith since 1998, maker of the world's only Frankish-looking pattern-welded 5" pointing trowel with silver mounts and curly maple handle...
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 08/06/08 12:59:39 EDT

Guys: Jesse is in Wuhstah. He knows wheah the Cape is. ANd Guru, thanks for the suggestion, but we're way out front on that one. The shop as is (we are moving it a couple miles) is 16 x 26, with double doors in the 16' end. the first 12 feet or so of the 26 foot depth is empty, save for a couple of wagon jacks and grindstones, the main anvil is set on a ground-mounted stump almost dead center 12 feet from the door, and the brick chimney is behind that to the smith's left. In fact, if you refer to your image of Chalfant's Blacksmith, and imagine the viewer standing in the double door, you have our setup exactly, including the benches. Post drills will be up front, though. Retail space will be separate, in a converted 2-stall barn across the court I also have a full attic loft. Looking forward to seeing how the 22 feet of 12" chimney flue draws.
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 08/06/08 14:00:41 EDT

Trowels and Archeology Since these tools have developed over a thousand years for masons to manipulate mortar while laying brick or stone their use in digging and scraping is largely inappropriate use. The thing to do is to design the RIGHT tool . . something much easier said than done.

In this case any knife, screw driver or pry bar is just as suitable a tool and all are supplemental to the job as well as toothbrushes. . (which being designed to scrub teeth is much nearer to appropriate use than a trowel for digging).

This is a good job for Alan-L who is both a smith and archaeologist. His example above is heavy bladed with a steep grind so that it is unlikely to break or bend. . .

While SCRAPING mortar and concrete in stonework I prefer to use a hooked linoleum knife. This process, raking semi hard concrete out of joints, is more akin to what an archaeologist does. The shape is a far cry from a triangular trowel. So perhaps a shape that is somewhere between the two is the right one.

Trowels are also misused by masons who use the butt of the handle to tap like a hammer and nudge brick and block into place. Handle design must take this common action into account. But is this a technique that archaeologists apply? I don't think so. So the handle could be different.

For scraping near an object I prefer a drop point blade. The most commonly used blade on my old multi-blade pocket knifes were the straight edged drop point. These are also made in short fixed blades with a long handle for wood carving. This is probably a more appropriate tool for the archaeologist. .

Something to THINK about. Perhaps an opportunity.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/06/08 14:22:48 EDT

I didn't say I'd make one for him;-)

The way archaeologists use trowels is to carefully scrape thin layers of soil in uniform levels, maintaining very tight control over both vertical and horizontal planes. We use the edges for scraping, the points for picking carefully, and yes, the butt end as a hammer to drive the nails that define mapping points. Sometimes we even use 'em like a mason and sling mud out of flooded holes!

There have been many attempts to come up with a better tool for the job, but there have been none so successful as the plain old 5" pointing trowel. there are special purpose tools like clay modelling spatulas, bamboo scrapers for working near bone (metal tools and bone don't mix!), dental picks for really delicate things, and one company makes a laughable thingy they call an "archaeological pick," basically a triangular piece steel with a socket in the center for a handle, to be used like a short-handled hoe or pick. We use hoes and picks sometimes too.

Brushes are used only in sand or thick dust, and are frowned upon because they smear the stratigraphy and erode bone and pottery.

The largest tool I've ever employed to dig on a site is a motorized pan scraper that can take off a foot-deep swath 15 feet wide for about 300 yards, and the smallest was a toothpick. It's all in what you need to achieve.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 08/06/08 14:44:14 EDT

I'm not looking for any sofisticated paints and lacquers. All I want as a finish on my iron work is good old fashion black oxide with slight touch. I'm looking for somthing basically the same as bees wax. I want somthing that will just slightly darken and gloss the iron oxide finish. I would just use beeswax but it is not sold locally I would have to order it online.(not an option for me) Lindseed oil is sold down the street at the hardware store, I thought possibly that might work similiar.
   - John L. - Wednesday, 08/06/08 14:55:37 EDT

There is a big difference between the two (beeswax and linseed oil).

Beeswax is slightly sticky, very sensitive to heat and never hardens or sets up. It can be polished added to or removed at any time. It tends to collect dust and using a dust is a good way to help reduce the stickyness.

Linseed oil is not always linseed oil. READ the label. Raw linseed oil will not dry or harden for a VERY long time and tends to be quite shiny. Boiled linseed oil cures by oxidation. Natural boiled linseed oil (flaxseed oil) is what is used in artists oil paint and may take from a few days to a couple weeks to dry to the touch. It ages practically forever eventually cracking. When dried it looks a lot like varnish. Commercial boiled linseed oil is often a blend of oils and may be chemically processed rather than boiling. It also often has driers and solvents added to it. Every brand can be slightly different.

Old fashioned spar varnish used to be treated linseed oil with a hard wax, solvents and driers. It produces the same finish as boiled linseed oil in a much shorter time and can be applied by hand.

Generally varnish has a yellow color which adds color and warmth. It can also be tinted with dies or oil paint. It is a good base for adding your own pigments to such as graphite, metal powder or antiquing tint. We have used it for years to create antique ivory finishes on ceramics.

However, in the end, your reputation is on the line when you do metalwork that may last for generations. If is is going outdoors or indoors in a damp environment then it should have the best possible modern finish money can buy.

AND THIS (money) is often the crux of the finishing problem. Many smiths do not count on the finishing materials costing more than the steel and the labor to equal that already in the work. Yes, it can be fully half the job.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/06/08 15:26:25 EDT

Eric, check out Gransfors Bruks. Bring lots of money. Hand forged in Sweden and a beautiful piece of work. Here is a photo from their website but you will have to find a retailer near you. www.gransfors.com/htm_eng/index.html
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 08/06/08 15:28:30 EDT

Didn't mean to claim jump the trowel. Obviously, it can be made anywhere and shipped.Certainly sounds like Alan could produce a better product, as I would be likely to just use 316 s.s of an apropriate thickness, see how that wears, then get exotic from there, if the usage truly demanded it.
   John Christiansen - Wednesday, 08/06/08 16:01:12 EDT

Is old fashion spar a brand name? Is it still sold today and where could I possibly by old fashion spar varnish THANKS
   - John L. - Wednesday, 08/06/08 16:07:33 EDT

John Christiansen, it's yours! Thickness is usually on the order of 1.5 or 2mm (about 1/16 inch), sharpened from the top side only. I'd use something hardenable, but 316 might work.

John L., spar varnish is a type, not a brand name. Be warned it dries to a slightly tacky finish, so the spars would not be slippery when wet.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 08/06/08 16:16:49 EDT

More Trowels: The abrasion resistance of the stainless would reduce wear and rust but the 316 might be a little soft. Good trowels are thin and supple. But this may not be desired in one used by an archaeologist.

Due to usage trowels and floats wear out. When the concrete finisher finished with my shop floor he left his float behind. It was worn out. It had worn from over four inches wide to less than two. However, somewhere in that time it had been perfect. I asked him about the "break in". He said it didn't take too long but that he did radius the corners significantly before the first use.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/06/08 16:18:30 EDT

Trowels, still:

A good one does have some spring to it. You get a better trajectory when flipping dirt clods at your co-workers that way.

When they break, it's usually at the tang end of the blade from too much flexing. The biggest cause of short life is oversharpening.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 08/06/08 16:36:05 EDT

BROADAXES: If you want a good broadaxe(or adze) at a reasonable (cheap) price go to ebay and buy the undervalued work of a long dead smith. Great tools at good prices. Don't go after the NOS collectible ones though. The collectors will beat you to death with their wallets. I bought a few to see how they were made and decided that until the supply of old stuff runs out I'll just buy used ones and keep one real good one as an example to work from later. House handle company has handles at a good price for them.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 08/06/08 17:09:49 EDT

I was wondering how I could get plans for the "forge" Eric Thing used in his norman helmet demo.Looks fairly simple but I want to get it right.
   Don G - Wednesday, 08/06/08 17:27:41 EDT

When the SARS outbreak hit, my SIL was an OR nurse in Taiwan (she's still there, just no longer a nurse). Masks were in short supply, so she asked us to buy N95s here in the U.S. and ship them to her. I was about to buy a bunch with the exhaust valve, then realized that might not be the best thing in the OR. . .

Philip, maybe MoD finally caught onto the contractor's gold plating, so they switched to platinum (grin). On a somewhat related note, I remember reading an essay for one of my archaeology classes called "The Golden Marshalltown."
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 08/06/08 17:38:44 EDT

Don, I have an article from Eric, Need to post it. Will soon!
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/06/08 18:22:17 EDT

Hello Guru,
Thank you for answering my question about Dupont springs vs flat springs.
Seeing that I already have a working hammer do you think it would be worthwhile to remove the loose worn (106 years old!) dovetail guides and replace them with a box guide, similar to the guide on the "Costa Rican hammer." What would you use in the guide to lessen the friction? I have seen or heard of grease, plastics, exotic wood, and steel roller bearings. Thank you Michael
   Michael Kinghorn - Wednesday, 08/06/08 18:45:32 EDT

U.S. patent 5,935,351 discusses using various metals, including platinum group metals, to line gun tubes in order to resist corrosion and erosion from hot gasses. If you're interested, you can pull it up using the Google patent search, or at www.uspto.gov (or probably a at number of other sites).
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 08/06/08 18:58:17 EDT

Michael Kinghorn, why not rebuild to original? usually these old machines want a good medium grade oil, LOTS of it. The slides should probably be oiled every 15 or twenty minutes or at least every hour with a squirt can. The guru uses words like drenched and oozing oil all over.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/06/08 20:14:28 EDT

Where can I get plowshares sharpened? I have an old Ferguson 2 bottom plow.
   L Schmitz - Wednesday, 08/06/08 21:10:12 EDT

Hello my name is Demian I'm a 30 year old tattoo artist from Puerto Rico I found your web page looking for a "how to " project for a forge instead i found the answer to most of my questions. I studied some metal work in art school but due to lack of interest of the corse it was canceled (i was the only one) i did take welding lessons and was always interested in the art of blacksmithing . Now heres my problem there is no"real" school of blacksmithing in Puerto Rico and finding a person that still does it is quite hard plus there's no associations I can join so I'm kind of in the dark here .
I've got some videos and books on the matter and trying to get a little workshop going in my back yard to see to what point I can get . Now my question is do you have any advise for someone with so little on hand advice ? I not in a hurry to do anything so that every thing comes out right . Thanx a lot hope to be back for more of the grate form .

   Demian Rivera - Wednesday, 08/06/08 22:53:41 EDT

John L.

From what you say, it sounds as though boiled linseed oil would work fine for your purposes. If the hardware store (or local paint store) also sells Japan Drier, you might get the smallest possible amount of that and add about a tespoonful to a pint of the linseed oil to speed drying. Do not add more drier than that or it will really wreak havoc with the drying time. Not that it actually "dries", what it really does is polymerize over time. The boiling process intitiates the polymerization and greatly speeds up further polymerization.

If you want to increase the sheen of your work, you can add a bit of powdered graphite to the linseed oil, and if you want to dull it down you can add carbon black. A bit of plain old talcum powder will lighten it a bit and yield a slightly cloudy, matte finish.

Personally, I prefer an acrylic clear coat to linseed oil for simply darkening and adding a low luster to forged work for interior use. The simplest solution I know is Future Liquid Floor Wax, sold at your local housewares department. It is cheap, effective and remarkable durable considering it's lowly origins.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/06/08 22:57:53 EDT

Hello my name is Demian I'm a 30 year old tattoo artist from Puerto Rico I found your web page looking for a "how to " project for a forge instead i found the answer to most of my questions. I studied some metal work in art school but due to lack of interest of the corse it was canceled (i was the only one) i did take welding lessons and was always interested in the art of blacksmithing . Now heres my problem there is no"real" school of blacksmithing in Puerto Rico and finding a person that still does it is quite hard plus there's no associations I can join so I'm kind of in the dark here .
I've got some videos and books on the matter and trying to get a little workshop going in my back yard to see to what point I can get . Now my question is do you have any advise for someone with so little on hand advice ? I'm not in a hurry to do anything so that every thing comes out right . Thanx a lot hope to be back for more of the grate form .

   Demian Rivera - Wednesday, 08/06/08 23:07:04 EDT

Hello my name is Demian I'm a 30 year old tattoo artist from Puerto Rico I found your web page looking for a "how to " project for a forge instead i found the answer to most of my questions. I studied some metal work in art school but due to lack of interest of the corse it was canceled (i was the only one) i did take welding lessons and was always interested in the art of blacksmithing . Now heres my problem there is no"real" school of blacksmithing in Puerto Rico and finding a person that still does it is quite hard plus there's no associations I can join so I'm kind of in the dark here .
I've got some videos and books on the matter and trying to get a little workshop going in my back yard to see to what point I can get . Now my question is do you have any advise for someone with so little on hand advice ? I'm not in a hurry to do anything so that every thing comes out right . Thanx a lot hope to be back for more of the great form .

   Demian Rivera - Wednesday, 08/06/08 23:09:03 EDT

Demian Rivera,

Hola y bienvenidos! I know exactly how you feel, believe me. I am the only working blacksmith in the U.S. Virgin Islands and I cannot find anyone here who even wants to learn seriously enough to bother teaching them.

If you ever travel to the VI, look me up. I am on Stl Croix, (Santa Cruz) and have a fairly well-equipped shop and some decades of experience in metalsmithing. I would be happy to show you a few things and answer your questions, if you are truly serious about learning, but you must know that I do this for a living and have little time to spend on anyone who is not really committed to the craft. Perhaps though, we can benefit each other. I need access to suppliers in PR and my Spanish is terrible. You can reach me by phone at 340-772-5833, or contact me by email by clicking on my name.

Rich Waugh,
St, Croix, VI
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/06/08 23:09:09 EDT

Hello my name is Demian I'm a 30 year old tattoo artist from Puerto Rico I found your web page looking for a "how to " project for a forge instead i found the answer to most of my questions. I studied some metal work in art school but due to lack of interest of the corse it was canceled (i was the only one) i did take welding lessons and was always interested in the art of blacksmithing . Now heres my problem there is no"real" school of blacksmithing in Puerto Rico and finding a person that still does it is quite hard plus there's no associations I can join so I'm kind of in the dark here .
I've got some videos and books on the matter and trying to get a little workshop going in my back yard to see to what point I can get . Now my question is do you have any advise for someone with so little on hand advice ? I'm not in a hurry to do anything so that every thing comes out right . Thanx a lot hope to be back for more of the great form .

   Demian Rivera - Wednesday, 08/06/08 23:07:30 EDT

Demian, If you look REALLY hard I'll bet there are more blacksmiths than you think. Many are hiding in steel errection, fabrication firms and welding that make all those crummy welded railing and security guards. . . But I am sure there are some smiths serving the high end market and others that want to. . . A quick google search of the net for "Puerto Rico Ironwork" produced some photos of old work and a blog from "The Fabricator" about a trip there.
Other metal fabricating companies I spotted along the drive to my destination in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, were the Fuel Steel Corp.; Continental Iron Works; Mr. Ironworks Rejas; and Ideas In Motion, a machine shop with a sign that read soldadura, which I learned from my pretrip research is Spanish for welding and soldering.
"Ironworks Rejas" sounds promising.

In recent years I have spent some time in Costa Rica a country quite a bit larger than Puerto Rico but with nearly the same population. Both are Hispanic and have weak economies. There is tons of ironwork in Costa Rica with all but the poorest homes fitted with window and door grates, gates, fences and other ironwork. Much is very poor welded from rebar work but there are also smiths producing real hand forged ironwork. Even some of the rebar grates are quite artistic. When I first visited I met with a young smith who introduced me to the "last real blacksmiths" in Costa Rica. . Since then dozens doing fairly decent work have come to light. They are there, you just have to LOOK.

See Johan Cubillos . com

On the education, the best thing I can tell you is to buy books and practice. Search out others at the places mentioned above. If metal work of ANY kind is being done, there will be some smiths there.

   - guru - Wednesday, 08/06/08 23:32:52 EDT

Demian: Would you have an opportunity to travel to the U.S. for schooling, such as attending Frank Turley's classes?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/07/08 00:37:35 EDT

hello again i am nearly finishe with the diy anvil extra hours at work put a stopper on it for a few weeks i also have pics to post or email to the guru so as he can decide to post rather. i had a qestion about the ring of it though i welded feet on it and although it rang great before as soon as i welded the plate feet on the ring was all but gone i welded two peices of rectangular plate on either end under the horn and heel i think if i remove some of the plate and split the two feet into four the ring will come back as soon as i know where to send the pics you will be able to see what i am talking about
any input is always welcome as always
   j naylor - Thursday, 08/07/08 02:52:27 EDT

I am in Australia, I have an anvil which I am trying to indentify. Can't make out top word has A and R near the start I think. Next line reads : BEST then: WARRENTED (stamped upside down) then next three lines: MADE IN ENGLAND
stamped weight is 2-0-4
   Jamie Dull - Thursday, 08/07/08 06:33:19 EDT

Bells ring, anvils don't have too.
   JimG - Thursday, 08/07/08 09:25:09 EDT

The "ring test" on an anvil was used on old anvils to determine their solidity. If the face weld or places in the welded up body had gaps in them there would be less ring and more of a buzz. So ring was important on wrought anvils.

The volume of an anvil's ring also determined by how and where it is supported. Balanced on a resilient strip of wood or rope (like the bars in a vibraphone) at the center OR at vibrational dead nodes the ring will be MUCH louder and have sustain. Tied down tight with a dampening medium under it the ring will be deadened.

Ring is also determined by shape. The long slender shape of an American pattern anvil with a slender waist and heavy base creates masses that act like a tuning fork producing a sustained balanced sympathetic vibration. The blockier and anvil the less the ring.

Things that deaden the ring are good for your hearing and do not reflect on the condition or quality of the anvil.

In this case you may have introduced gaps that are deadening the ring or it is now supported between nodes and the ring is being killed. In a fabricated anvil you will always have some gaps that will effect ring. However, large weldments often ring more than anvils. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 08/07/08 10:29:52 EDT

Dressing a set hammer.

I just picked up a nice little hand forged set hammer from ebay. The edges of the face are quite sharp and I am thinking I should dress them to a radius of about 1/16"?

Thank you
   adam - Thursday, 08/07/08 11:06:13 EDT

Adam, Set hammers with a small square face are struck tools for dressing inside corners and the area near them. The amount of radius is determined by need. Most are rather sharp but should have a slight radius.

Sharp corners are bad in forging but there are occasions where they are needed. That is what this tool it for.

Remember that "sharpness" is a matter of scale. The bigger something is, the larger a radius that is considered sharp or tight.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/07/08 11:25:03 EDT

Thanks for the information about where to get a broadaxe.
All the best. Eric
   eric - Thursday, 08/07/08 12:04:46 EDT

Demian, it is quite possible to learn smithing on your own. It is harder and will take longer and you may have some odd working methods but it can be done. I started that way back when books on smithing were few and far between and the internet as we know it today did not exist.

It will really help speed things up to have someone local you can learn from and show you what "cherry red" actually means, it is a bright colour like pie cherries and not a dark colour like bing cherries that are the only ones most people know nowdays.

If you can't travel to take classes a trip to a large blacksmithing conference like Quad-State can really expand your smithing horizons---I wish they would put up a website that just had good pictures of everything in the display area. I generally get more ideas from that than from the demo's!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/07/08 12:08:36 EDT

LSchmitz; do you want a place in a specific country or are you willing to pay for international shipping.

If you want a local place it would be a big help to tell us where you are at in a general way; exp: I live in Central NM, USA.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/07/08 12:11:18 EDT

Mike when you do post that article which part of the site would it be in?
   Don G - Thursday, 08/07/08 16:30:07 EDT

Thomas P; I live in the upper midwest, south central Illinois to be exact.
   L Schmitz - Thursday, 08/07/08 18:22:11 EDT

Hello all , I was wondering if any one has used copper sulphate and wd-40 as a patina finish on mild steel ? I saw a U-tube video on this and was wondering if it was worth trying ? He stirred the copper sulphate in water and it looked like he quenched the steel in the mix then sprayed the steel with wd-40.
   Ringer - Thursday, 08/07/08 18:52:51 EDT

Can tungsten be arc welded?
   Jacob - Thursday, 08/07/08 22:04:50 EDT

Jacob, Yes, I've TIGed pieces of tungsten electrodes together.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/07/08 22:23:00 EDT

Jacob: You might find someone who knows on the AWS forum. www.aws.org
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/07/08 22:27:22 EDT

Copper Flashing: Ringer, Copper Sulphate solution is used to copper flash steel prior to plating with other materials. It puts a very thin layer of copper on the steel. The cleaner the steel the better. You simply dip while cold.

This is not a very durable finish and introduces bimetalic corrosion problems, especially if used outdoors. Oil and waxes tends to darken copper.

Plating and copper alloy patinas over steel are usually sealed with clear lacquer and are only good for indoor use. Any chipping of the sealer results in nasty corroded places that are not readily repairable.

As always, a good three stage paint process is more durable.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/07/08 22:28:48 EDT

j. naylor,

Be glad your anvil has little or no ring. I know that all the Ebay sellers talk about anvils ringing wonderfully, even ones that simply do not ring like Fishers, but that is really hype and not substance. The ring of an anvil is just as useful in forging as the squeal of a pig is in eating bacon. Ringing anvils area also a terrific way to damage your hearing permanently.
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/07/08 22:39:14 EDT

Roughly what are the dimensions of the shield stone for a forge using two single action bellows? How big a hole? Would you taper the hole?
I've decided altough heavier it will pack more efficiently, than my current camping forge.
   JimG - Thursday, 08/07/08 23:04:18 EDT


I just finished assembling the gas forge and did a test run, however there was a problem. The area around where the burner went in got real hot for some reason (it actually turned red!). I made sure there was insulation all up to the very edge of the holder pipe, and I've got 2 inches in there. Why did this happen, anyway? I was wondering if it was because I didn't insert the burner deep enough -- how deep should it go?
   mike3 - Thursday, 08/07/08 23:18:11 EDT

Jamie Dull: Richard Postman, author of Anvils in America, has now documented some 230 British anvil manufacturers. ENGLAND wasn't required to be stamped on export anvils until the late 1800s. At that time there were only a couple of known remaining manufacturers, such as MOUSEHOLE (ARMITAGE), PETER WRIGHT and WILKINSON. What you can read of the logo doesn't seem to fit any of them. (If the stone weight is 2 . 0 . 4, rather than 2 0 4, then perhaps MOUSEHOLE.)
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/07/08 23:47:40 EDT

Forge Shield Stone: Jim, IT would vary with the size of the forge and bellows. The shield stone is a heat shield for the bellows protecting it and its wood/leather nozzle from radiant heat. The hole is large enough for the necessary volume of air to flow through depending again on forge size. . and this is dependent on the bellows size. Theoretically you can have a little jeweler's size forge that uses a moulder's (fireplace) bellows. This would use about a 1/2" (11 - 13 mm) hole in small thin stone.

For a small blacksmiths forge I would go with a hole no smaller than about one and a half inches (38 - 40 mm) in a stone of equal thickness or a little more. The outlet does not want to be tapered but you want a nice radius on the corner (1/8" or 3mm R min.). The inlet side should be slightly tapered to a larger opening and have a heavy radius.

Some of the inlet size/shape is determined by the bellows type. The era of sheild stones was a twin bellows arrangement.

In this case you have two very pointed nozzles with maybe 1" (25mm) outlets that are very close to each other (touching). The expanding air leaving the nozzle crosses the gap between the leather or raw hide nozzle and is funneled into the hole in the shield stone. The high velocity blast of air exiting one nozzle near the other prevents smoke and hot gases from being sucked through the shield stone into the other. This requires that gap of an inch or more between the shield stone and the nozzles. If they were attached to or stuck into the stone they would suck fire and smoke thus burn up damaging the bellows.

This rather advanced pneumatic switching is the reason early bellows had such long tapered nozzles with small outlets. they needed to create a high velocity jet of air that could span a gap then expand and slow down later.

Bellows with metal nozzles are a bit more durable but they can still suck fire back into themselves. The double chambered bellows avoids this problem if properly built with efficient well sealing valves. I would still leave a space between them.

Note that if your bellows nozzle is larger than the hole in the shield stone you will lose a high proportion of your air. It should be smaller by about 30%.
   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 09:10:45 EDT

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