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

This is an archive of posts from August 8 - 18, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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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

I bought 4 anvils the other day one of them has Hill stamped in the side with England stamped below that. I had not heard of Hill anvils prior to this. Has anyone any information about the Hill anvil?
Thanks ,
   Harley - Friday, 08/08/08 09:16:06 EDT

I will be looking over the others for makers marks soon. I believe one to be a Hay Budden. Just having a bit of trouble moving them about with my right arm in a cast.
   Harley - Friday, 08/08/08 09:20:45 EDT

Eric Thing's Armour Forge:

The above is as-sent. I may edit.
   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 10:10:14 EDT

Thanks Jock, that is the starting place I need. I will document as I go.
   JimG - Friday, 08/08/08 11:21:23 EDT

Anvil Ring:
All three of my anvils ring rather sharply and this is at a frequency that I can still hear so, I try to protect my ears by using the muff type hearing protectors that have at least a 32db noise reduction rating.
I used to work in a die cast foundry that was so loud we would wear the foam plugs and the muffs over the top of that.
The other thing I do is to place a strong bar magnet under the counter of my anvils or under the horn. This pretty much knocks the ring down to nothing.
   - merl - Friday, 08/08/08 12:05:24 EDT

Note, those of you accessing the armor forge article, I have been editing it, cleaning up some of the images. So if you have printed it there are a few changes yet. .
   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 12:11:31 EDT


If you build it more photos would be nice. For most of us this is self explanatory enough but others need more details.

While the photos in this are fine it helps to have higher resolution images. When I remove backgrounds you get a much better result starting with larger images.
   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 12:23:44 EDT

Say what? Why use a shield stone when camping? A mound of dirt packed down around the air pipe works just as well and as it's not packed but dug on site it's far lighter and easier to carry!

I generally move the campfire stones and found on site clay or dirt to build a norse style ground forge.

My single action bellows have no check valve, (Theophilus didn't mention check valves for metal working bellows but he did mention them for organ bellows, so I went with what was documented)

For the tapered nozzles I used those tapered steel table legs that were popular in the 1950's and 1960's. just cut them off at the end size I wanted. (They also make nice light sockets for spear shafts and can be found for free with discarded tables)

As the Guru mentioned leaving an airgap can prevent sucking hot coals into the bellows and learning how to alternate the pumping correctly deals very well with the problem. With my set when I start up pumping I take intermediate steps up to full expansion say [1/4, 1/4] then [1/2, 1/2], then [3/4, 3/4] and then full extension on each---it's fast when you are used to it---with an open tube you can see how close the hot gasses/coals are getting to the end and use that to judge your steps.

I usually leave an airgap equal to the diameter of the air to forge tube---what worked for me. Making the bellows so they can be staked down so you can kneel and use one hand per bellows to alternate pumping is a real advantage. Having someone *ELSE* be the bellows thrall is much more medieval and enjoyable!

Oh yeah I've been doing this for close to 20 years now can you tell?


   Thomas P - Friday, 08/08/08 12:23:48 EDT

Anvil ringing: good for a demo anvil to attract a crowd totally unwanted in a shop.

My main shop anvil is a Fisher and I love its massive obdurate stillness, I should call it my Ox anvil while my little arm and hammer demo anvil is like a weanling calf always crying for it's mother. Of course I generally wear ear muff hearing protectors in the shop or at a demo anyway. (or mowing the lawn, filing, sawing wood, making long trips in my road noisy pickup,....working in a factory once I noticed that when I wore hearing protection I was not nearly so tired at the end of the day so it became a habit. I always buy the good ones when sold cheap at the fleamarket so I have extras around---keep a pair in the truck, in the house, etc.
   Thomas P - Friday, 08/08/08 12:28:58 EDT

Guru, thanks for the timely info on the bellows, a buddy of mine is talking about building a brick forge with a bellows rather than a blower so I'll pass this on to him.
I'm noticing the conspicuous use of SAE and metric comparision (thanks, we all need to be pushed)
One family at our recent show was from Austria and even though they all spoke exelant english there were a few words (names of tools) that we had to explain and the relations of metric and SAE weights and measures was a hurdle for all of us.
   - merl - Friday, 08/08/08 12:29:18 EDT

Whoops. . . I was confusing forge articles. . . Yes, Jim it would be good.

Three views of a "Viking" forge seen at Staunton VA folk festival. The demonstrators were from Canada.

Viking Forge with shield stone

Viking Forge with shield stone with face

Viking Forge Bellows and pipe

Below a more primitive version, photo from Bruce Blackistone. Longship company forge setup at "Hastings".

Above taken from the anvilfire news. This last forge shows the right way for the nozzles and stone to be arranged if using a double bellows.

   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 12:55:05 EDT

I want to set up my own shop, It measures 12'x 27'with a large door on the narrow end. My shop is currently empty with sheeted walls. I would like to stay as traditional as possible. any suggestions would be appreciated..thank you ,smkcrksmitthy.
   smkcrksmithy - Friday, 08/08/08 14:01:47 EDT

Who's tradition when, where? Chinese, Russian, Phillipeano? Neolithic, Early Iron Age, 20th Century? City, country, poverty stricken.

The only true tradition of the blacksmith is to be on the cutting edge of technology and to have as many tools as one could afford or for the situation. Blacksmiths have been the creators of much technology and have brought us to where we are today.

Modern blacksmith shops look more like machine shops than the fictional romantic ideal. They have included power hammers lathes and milling machines or shapers since the late 1800's. Since then motorized tools have become the rule rather than the exception including electric blowers, drill presses, grinders, rools and twisters.

Some of the first shops to use arc welding were blacksmith shops and one of the first commercial products to be welded with arc welding was blacksmith anvils. Early oxy-acetylene outfits with full attachments were sold as "forges" and indeed they could do everything and more than the blacksmith's forge. Today many smiths use plasma torches and a surprising number have computerized cutting tables. When LASER cutting tables become affordable smiths will be using them as well. In fact they do, but as an outsourced service.

What is important is the quality of the work. You can produce both good and bad work with old tools or new. The difference is efficiency.

Todays craftsperson is in a world market no matter where they are. Many third world smiths working in shops with dirt floors and pit forges have web sites selling their work to the world. Factories employing penies and hour laborers sell their products via the Home Shopping Network. . .

So the REAL question IS. Are you putting together a museum or a productive shop? Is it a romantic myth or the real McCoy?
   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 14:39:56 EDT

Zulu Blacksmiths
A Traditional Blacksmith Setting
Zulu Warrior forging an Assegai - 1879

For thousands of years in many parts of the world this is what a traditional smithy looked like. While this engraving was made in 1879 these same smiths were found working the same way and filmed in 1937 for "King Solomon's Mine". In fact the same scene has been repeated over and over since the beginning of the iron age.

Today there are smiths in many places working nearly the same way. In some cases they are still using the dual wine skins, in others small hand crank blowers have replaced this ancient method. Pit forges are still used in Africa, India and other places. In most places some kind of piece of steel has replaced the stone anvil but working on the ground is still common. Primitive tongs as well as wood pickups are used.

Modern smiths that practice survivalist techniques also use such primitive methods using basic forges and simple tools working on the ground. So, for the longest running "traditional shop" spanning continents and cultures, this is IT.

   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 15:16:45 EDT

colonial blacksmithing or a little later is what i would like to shoot for. without the use of any electric grinders, cutoff-wheels or polishers.I'm mainly looking for lay out advice but thenks for the history.
   smkcrksmithy - Friday, 08/08/08 15:43:59 EDT

Merl; your buddy should be thinking about a double lunged bellows *VERY* different from using two small early medieval single action bellows. So nothing in the above posts on bellows would apply to him---*unless* he wants to try to recreate an early medieval forge "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel" has several pictures of masonry forges for the early to high medieval period.

I used a home built double lunged bellows for more than a decade. I preferred it to the hand crank blower, which I preferred to the electric blower...Not at all like the two single bellows!

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/08/08 15:49:50 EDT

Packing a small shield stone will be easier than finding dirt that doesn't burn, and the site I do most of my camp forging at doesn't allow ground fires.
Thanks for the tip on the table legs.
   JimG - Friday, 08/08/08 15:53:00 EDT

smkcrksmithy; while I am sure you mean spanish colonial as that is what is around where I live and so I refer you to "Southwestern Colonial Ironwork: The Spanish Blacksmithing Tradition (ISBN: 0865346011) Simmons, Marc and Turley, Frank. Back in print!

If you meant English colonial in the USA, (and not the work done in Africa by people in the Belgium colonial period or Italian colonial period; or Dutch Colonial in Indonesia, etc)
Then a book that will be a very good one to read is:
"Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-Works: Applied to Smithing, Joinery, Carpentry, Turning, Bricklayery" by Joseph Moxon.

I have a modern reprint of the 1703 edition and it covers in detail setting up a 17/18 century smithy with masonry forge. it also deals with the materials used in smithing at that time, tools, and even has several projects.

Do NOT get the version that just deals with printing!!!! Which is much more easily found unfortunately.

Thomas in NM, USA
   Thomas P - Friday, 08/08/08 17:39:33 EDT

Colonial Era Blacksmithing: OK, I'll assume we are talking about Colonial America and not Colonial Australia, India, Kenya or New Guinea (By the way, that is an engraving from Colonial Africa above). ONLY in the U.S. would one be so presumptuous to assume it was OUR colonial period.

Tools were very skimpy on steel. They were wrought iron with steel inserts or facings. Even nail and bolt headers had little steel plates welded to the ends.

Anvils were different, the true "London" pattern had not been developed. The Colonial era anvil was blocky and small (around 100 to 150 pounds) with a short small horn and almost no heel. The hardy hole was very small (about 1/2") and there was no pritchel hole. Currently good ones are rare due to collectors wanting them. The hornless anvil was common at this time and often found with heavy bickerns or stake anvils which replaced horns.

Swage blocks were rare but art smith types would be found in
the better or larger shops. Cones are not known to have been used in shops of this era. That is what the eye, horn and bickern were for.

There were no hand crank tools like hand crank drill presses or grinders of the late 1800's. Also no tire benders or shrinkers. So you can save your tool money and put it into that Colonial style anvil and a good heavy bickern.

The blacksmiths leg vice was fully developed except that the best we know they all had tennon mount bench brackets not wrap around types. A small wedge held the pivot pin (no nut) and the end of the bench tennon passed through the spring and a pin held both. I arc the spring slightly at this point so that it presses on the pin and it doesn't vibrate out.

Forges varied from wood and mud to stone and brick. Forges often had no massive chimney because clean burning charcoal was the rule. There were no sheet metal hoods or ducts.

The wood and leather bellows was the rule. Early shops had twin bellows like the ones shown in the posting above except much larger. The operating handle passed across the two and pivoted between them thus raising each separately. The great double chambered bellows was a late Colonial Era development and may not have been so "traditional" to any stick in the muds.

The beam drill was the rule as well. A wooden beam was pulled down on a long brace type tool with a socketed end. These were built using wood and were often a stand alone tool being braced against the floor and a beam in the ceiling. They were a two man opperation. Small holes were drilled with a reversing pump drill.

Drill bits for metal were the flat type with steel inserts. Spoon bits were used for wood. Files were all hand cut as were saw blades. Hand scrapers were used more than files. The hack saw existed but blades were imported and very expensive. The large hand shear had been the same pattern since the 1300's and you could still buy them not too long ago. The compound leverage tool had not been invented (no nifty Beverly shears).

Grinders were hand crank (with a helper) without gearing. Thus stones were large to get sufficient speed. Shafts set in wooden bearings.

All benches were wood and rapidly worn from the repeated bench work of hand filing and fitting. There were no heavy weld plattens for benches like we have today.

So in the Colonial American shop you had few tools and almost no machines except those made primarily of wood. Steel was very expensive so it was used only where it was absolutely required. Even the smiths material, wrought iron was expensive so there were few few "extra" tools. There were no huge racks of tongs and other tools.

There was more likely to be multiple bench work stations and a special nailer's setup for apprentices or slaves to make nails at. Extra sledges would not be an extravagance since all heavy work was done by putting EVERYONE in the shop to work at striking when there was heavy work. Labor was cheap and tools expensive, so there was always lots of laborers including children to do menial jobs.

Pretty simple. Other than a relatively large (100 pound) anvil a couple hammers and tongs there were few tools. For a good authentic Colonial shop you need to look at its architecture more than tools. Get rid of the sheet rock and insulation. No lights other than windows.

Well, simple except for stocking all that wrought iron. . . Its as expensive as top quality tool steel and a lot rarer.

It was well after the Colonial era a bit (mid 1800's) that blacksmith shops started to be fun. By 1900 almost every imaginable tool and machine had been invented AND were being electrified. Iron was cheap compared to labor and smiths loaded up with labor saving devices and any tool that made jobs just a little quicker.
   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 17:45:15 EDT

Multi-Unit, The private metric English war: When I post articles I write them two ways. IF the bits and pieces are old English or specifically English hardware I will stick to inches and pounds. If the article is more general (and I am not in too much of a hurry) I try to use both. I can do many conversions in my head and can speak pretty well with folks in metric units which often surprises them. . . However, I have NO feeling for Acres vs Hetares and folks in metric countries sell land by the square meter, NOT the larger land units. . Its like buying a house! Note the "Tool Kit" button. I use it often.

If you shop the Blacksmiths Depot or BigBLU hammer site and see multi units it is because I took the time to make the conversions and add the alternate values.

On most standing articles I try to find the dimensions that were not converted and add them. But there is a LOT to keep up with.

I used to be more conscientious about this but I have found that the majority of folks from other countries, especially craftpeople, can handle the different units MUCH better than U.S. Citizens (Note that "Ameicans" includes Canadians, Mexicans, and everyone to the tip of South America - NOT just us in the US). I would bet that the average Chinese can handle their traditional units, metric and English better than those in the U.S. handle fractions. . . Something to think about on the night of the opening of the Chinese Olympics.
   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 18:06:36 EDT

smkcrksmithy.... If you go to the following site:


you can send an email to the blacksmiths at Colonial Williamsburg asking what a typical smithy layout might have been during colonial days. Just click on the "Historic Trades" choice and an email form will come up for you...
   - djhammerd - Friday, 08/08/08 18:54:39 EDT

U.S. Colonial Era Tools: A good resource is the book Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane. I would recommend his entire Americana series to anyone interested in tools and methods of the period, particularly New England.
   - guru - Friday, 08/08/08 20:18:08 EDT

tire hammer vs helve
im planing on building a hammer and am in the parts collecting stage i have some for both but am eventualy going to wind up buying some of the parts are there the same pros and cons to both or will one be more worth while than the other? i realy like the look of the tire hammer and that it seems to have a smaller foot print but the helve seems much easier to construct or at least on paper. i like the jyh but i have a smaller shop and it seems huge
   j naylor - Saturday, 08/09/08 00:14:33 EDT

Harley: Typically the logo would be 1 (one) over HILL over BURMINGHAM (in smaller letters). Likely exported to the U.S. from 1830-1860. They come up on eBay from time to time.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/09/08 01:37:33 EDT

There is a 1 over Hill and it may say burmingham below that ...I had trouble reading it all.
   Harley - Saturday, 08/09/08 08:37:19 EDT

Harley, try taking a rubbing of the side of the anvil. A sheet of paper and then gently go over it with the side of a pencil. I find that works better for me than dusting with chalk or the like to bring out letters.
   JimG - Saturday, 08/09/08 10:50:55 EDT

On the HILL anvils, on almost all of the eBay listings I have seen they have been located in the upper quarter or so of the U.S. states (New England, Great Lakes, Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest. Makes me wonder if they might not have been exported to Canada and some found their way south from there.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/09/08 14:20:13 EDT

Well Ken , this one is in New England. I am in Mass.
   Harley - Saturday, 08/09/08 14:54:59 EDT

im looking for the closest thing yall have 5160 spring steel and im nt familiar with with the A-__ steel, pr not the names anyway
   - Sean Meyer - Saturday, 08/09/08 15:34:38 EDT

Sean, go to your local automotive spring service and offer to buy some drops from their new stock, not the old springs. It will probably be 9260, could be 5160, and they will likely not know which it is. Luckily, they work and heat treat almost exactly the same. 5160 will harden a bit deeper because of the chrome, 9260 will be tougher because of the silicon. It tends to be a little more rust-prone since it has no chrome, but I haven't found that to be a real problem.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 08/09/08 16:13:52 EDT

i wanted to make an epee for the SCA and looked and saw proffesionals using that so thats what i wanted
   - Sean Meyer - Saturday, 08/09/08 16:18:27 EDT

Does anyone make a 70-130 lbs anvil for under 200$ thats not a complete POS
   - Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 08/09/08 17:05:39 EDT

all the non cast iron i found were like 250+
   - Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 08/09/08 17:13:29 EDT

Jacob, that is about the best you will do unless you find it in the hands of a non-smith non-dealer on your own. There are still $50 anvil deals around but they are quite rare. $2/lb is cheap considering the current price of steel and scrap.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/08 17:18:39 EDT

I was curious: when you coat the Kaowool or other ceramic fiber lining in a gas forge with something like ITC-100, should you coat underneath the firebrick on the floor too?
   mike3 - Saturday, 08/09/08 18:31:39 EDT

Ok Guru,I am working on getting the materials together for the rolling mill. I am getting some large (5"?) square tube for the frame. I am going to making the lower roller carrier slide on the tubing instead of pivoting. That cuts down the number of parts to fit. How much should I turn down the 2" shafting for the roller stubs? Obviously I have to make the upper fit to a sprocket but the others just need to be fitted to some sort of bearings. That is the other problem, the bearings in the 1-1 1/2 inch range wont allow the rollers to meet (does that make sense?) How small could I turn down the stubs. Would bronze/brass pipe have enough lubricity to use? I swear this is not a homework assignment. Really.
   JLW - Saturday, 08/09/08 18:46:00 EDT

Rolling Mill: The upper bearings are roller size but the lower bearings in the movable block are smaller (1"). My plan was to make them half bearings (bottom halves only). Using bronze bushings in this case requires something to hold them in. I was going to make a scale/dirt guard that went over the shaft and also held down the bearings. This DOES require a little machine work in the form of drilling or boring the holes for the bushings. The guards could be machined OR sheet metal.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/08 19:37:24 EDT

ITC Coating: This goes on the exposed inside surface of the furnace lining and all refractories can be covered including refractory brick.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/08 19:39:03 EDT

Ah, so then if the bottom is not exposed but hidden under the brick, I shouldn't need to put it there, then (_under_ the brick)?
   mike3 - Saturday, 08/09/08 22:12:13 EDT

No. Unless you need some flux resistance for using heavy flux in the forge.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/09/08 23:31:31 EDT

who makes an anvil for 3 or 4 $ per lbs because all i can find is like 5.50 and up
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 08/10/08 01:57:49 EDT

i dont need anything special just a large steel block would work
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 08/10/08 02:02:19 EDT

The 286, 335 and 500 pound Euroanvils are $2.94, and $2.75/pound in the U.S. Of course they are large anvils and the total cost is relatively high. . . Expect these to be increasing soon.

Centaur has a 112 [ounf NC anvil for 3.44/pond and a JUM 250 for 3.92/pound.

25 years ago, back when gasoline was way less than $2/gallon we were selling specialized, custom engineered machinery at $5/pound and this was low them. With $4/gallon gasoline I would expect the average anvil price to hit $10/pound in a couple years.

We have not yet seen the full fallout of the recently rocketing fuel and metal prices. While crude oil HAS dropped significantly, do not expect such a drop in retail prices.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/10/08 07:31:28 EDT


Do you have a metal scrapyard which sells at retail near you? At the one I predominately use (Copeland Metals in Paris, TN - combination new and used), they often have large chunks of scrap there, say 12" x 12" x 6", for currently $.30 pound. Really doesn't matter what the metal is. Use one side until it gets too rough and then rotate one quarter. When you have used up the edges, lay flat and start anew. (This place also has stainless at $1.25 pound.)

At a new steel stock place I occasionally deal with (Loftis in Nashville, TN) they often have the end-cuts from round stock. I could buy these for the steel price. Here use a quarter of one side at a time and rotate when it gets too rough to use.

A local machine shop does some custom work for me. They make gears and such from steel round stock. I suspect I could get end cuts from them as well.

If all you need is a large chuck of steel to get started, start at places such as these.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 08/10/08 09:13:38 EDT

I have just acuired a 200# Prentis vise and would like to clean it up. I've heard about using hot linseed oil as a rust preventive, but don't know the proceedure. Raw or boiled linseed oil? How hot? Where do I find it? What else do I need to know?
   Jake Harder - Sunday, 08/10/08 09:21:11 EDT

Re: Peddinghaus anvils: Someone asking about anvils referred me to this site: http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/Forge-Anvils/. According to the listing Peddinghaus anvils are dropped forged. Are they?
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 08/10/08 09:23:27 EDT

Jacob Lockhart: If you are willing to pay $3-4 per pound for an anvil eBay is probably the best place for you to look. Under 150 pounds some ground carriers, such as UPS, FedEx and DHL, can be used. Over 150 lbs it would have to be sent freight. However, if you can find a local business which accepts trucks shipments on a regular basis, they may be willing to accept the anvil for you.

Remember though, it is the cost delivered to you, not your bid price. Never bid on an item on the Internet without knowing the full shipping and handling charges in advance. For example, someone recently listed a 140 lb Peter Wright on eBay as a buy-it-now price of $125. I quickly obtained a quote from UPS for about $76, so purchased it. Thus, paid about $1.45 lb delivered to me. It was only one state away. Had it been in, say CA, the shipping charges would have been well above that and probably a deal killer.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 08/10/08 09:37:11 EDT

Peddinghaus Forged Steel Anvils: Ken, Yes, Peddinghaus anvils are the last forged blacksmith anvils made. They are forged in two halves and welded at the waist. Ridgid bought Peddinghaus anvils because they wanted the forged vise line and the anvils came with it. They we not really interested in the anvil line and it gets short shrift. Lately they have let production be sporadic and unless you have a large stock order you are unlikely to get one. In the U.S. I think the Kayne's (BlacksmithsDepot) buys and sells almost all their production.

Note that several makers cast a cheap "Peddinghaus" anvil using the Peddinhaus shape, but they are NOT Peddinghaus anvils.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/10/08 10:08:18 EDT

Rust Preventatives: DO NOT USE Linseed oil! Linseed oil is what much paint is made of and is a drying oil. Boiled linseed oil dries in days to a week and is what is used in artists oil paint. In other paints a drier is added to accelerate drying. Raw linseed oil takes much longer but WILL harden from oxidation.

You vice was painted (probably with a leaded paint) when new and should be painted again with a good grade of machinery enamel. However, the screw and slide need to be cleaned rust free then oiled with a lubricating oil. On the screw I use Never-Seize and on the slide top and sides and the handle I use WD-40. A little grease or Never-Seize works well on the bottom (wearing) part of the slide.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/10/08 10:18:16 EDT

are the tool steel drill rods just like a solid round ?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 08/10/08 16:47:55 EDT

Tool Steels: Yes, Precision ground to size and annealed for machinability. Heat treating (annealing) is a significant expense in good tool steel as is machining or grinding to size.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/10/08 17:06:43 EDT

and they have enough carbon to be hardened again right?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 08/10/08 18:12:30 EDT

The drill rod is delivered in 3' lengths, scale free, and water hardening (01) has about 0.95% to 1% carbon, so it can be hardened. It also comes as O1, an oil hardening alloy steel. I get mine sent from Travers Tool.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 08/10/08 19:45:59 EDT

"No. Unless you need some flux resistance for using heavy flux in the forge."

Ah, OK. Thank you.
   mike3 - Sunday, 08/10/08 20:02:24 EDT

Sorry. On my above post, water hardening is W1.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 08/10/08 20:29:08 EDT

I have built a gate for the deck behind our house. My wife wanted to let it rust. I sprayed it with bleach to speed up the rusting process and once rusted to her satisfaction I coated it with a paste of baking soda and water, (hopefully to neutralize the bleach),then I rinsed that off with well water. Now I would like to hand rub it from time to time with an oil cloth cut from an old leather apron from the shop in an attempt to get a smooth brown finish.
My question is this: Wanting to stay away from motor oil, what is the best oil to use to hand rub the ironwork with?
   Harley - Monday, 08/11/08 08:48:20 EDT

Harley, I have had good results with boiled lindseed oil.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/11/08 09:39:01 EDT

Neutralizing Bleach: Harley, bleach is a strong alkali, and baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) is a weak alkali. To neutralize the bleach you use a weak acid like vinegar, wash with water, then neutralize THAT with baking soda and wash again. Never mix a quantity of acid or ammonia with bleach as it liberates chlorine, a noxious poisonous heavy gas.
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 10:01:43 EDT

Thanks, I may give that a try.....any other suggestions ?
   Harley - Monday, 08/11/08 10:01:51 EDT

Thanks Jock, Vinegar it is , then baking soda, then rinse.Then oil .
   Harley - Monday, 08/11/08 10:05:00 EDT

Rust Finishes: Often when chemical rust finishes are started they are hard to stop. Neutralizing acids or alkalies produces salts which act as electrolytes in the rust process. "Neutralized" is good but can continue to produce rust. A hot water pressure wash is helpful in removing the residual salts.

Linseed oil finishes "harden" by oxidation over a long period. Absorbed oxygen also reacts with the metal under the oil and can produce more rust. This is not a problem with a rust finish but it can loosen or open the oil coating and allow heavy pitting to occur.

The ideal finish is one that is stable and unchanging. If a dark rust finish is desired it can be phosphated then cleaned and neutralized and an oil finish applied over that. The phosphating creates and insoluble surface that protects the steel and helps lock the oil. However, phosphated finishes are often varied in color and have white streaks that are difficult to remove. It is often used as a preliminary to galvanizing or powder coating.

The best all around "rust" finish is to create the texture using corrosives and mechanical means, then cleaning, sealing (zinc paint and primer) and painting to look like rust. Combinations of red oxide (iron pigment) primers and rubbed in burnt ochre (yellow iron pigment) on the textured surface will LOOK like rust, are made of iron oxide pigments and will produce a stable long lasting finish.

Hand rubbed finishes should start with a lacquer base which is generally unaffected by the hand applied top coats which can be sprayed on lacquer or hand rubbed oil based finishes. Artists oil colors work well on non-gloss surfaces and can be mixed with varnishes if a thin wash effect is desired. They can also be applied by brush, rag or hand to create textures and bright highlights.
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 10:46:43 EDT

New Product: While it is not the same as iron, there is a new plastic product being sold that has the texture, scrolls, rivets, collars. . . Not bad looking stuff AND it comes in a variety of finishes including black, polished (highlighted black) and rust.

In the past plastic was used for finials, clip on decorations and other tacky looking bits. The new stuff is advertised as light weight panels to fill metal rails. It does not look so "plastic" as the parts of the past and has good forged looking shapes including tapers to snub end scrolls, flares and as mentioned collars and rivets. On the whole is looks pretty good.

What does this mean to the blacksmith? It means that people who would underbid you with components will underbid everyone. Yes, the product is NOT the same but often all the client wants is the LOOK of wrought iron.

It also means that finishing is becoming more important. Stock plastic components that come prefinished with an attractive finish for a low-low price will put custom work that is poorly finished in a bad light.

For years smiths have underbid jobs because they did not include finishing. . . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 11:09:03 EDT

Finishing can cost as much as the iron work up to the point it needs to be finished. It is fully HALF the job. If you think steel is expensive look closely at good automotive finishing materials. Good clear coat is hundreds of dollars per gallon, thiner to thin paint and clean tools is aobut $25/gallon and you need more of it than paint. . . Really good finishes are multi color and minimums come into play. THEN, to legally apply such finishes you need a paint booth in most localities.

It is HALF the job. If you do not do it then you are only doing HALF the job. Leaving painting up to the client is not a solution. They, nor contractors they might hire will do your work justice.

Include the finishing in your bid. Plan on taking the necessary time. Plan on learning how to apply the paint OR hiring someone that can and paying their rates.
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 11:18:06 EDT

What I am shooting for is that smooth non pitted rust or patina if you will that I have on some of the old anvils and other old tools I have aquired over the years. A finish resembling that of old black powder musket barrels as they looked before the develpoement of the blueing process that we see today. That said, am I on the right track? Or am I way out in left field ?
   Harley - Monday, 08/11/08 11:20:15 EDT

Product Comparisons: Imagine ordering a custom motorcyle and having it delivered with bare metal or primer coated parts. Imagine purchasing a truck and having it come delivered unpainted. . .

Sounds silly doesn't it. Much of the art of the custom motorcycle is often the paint. A blacksmith's iron work is no different. These are all metal products that are finished according to their value as art.

Paint on a product does not just protect it from rust. It is also a significant part of the product. It is ALL of what you see, it is all of what you touch. It can add to the texture, or it can take away. It can emphasize texture or hide it. It can make work stand out or become part of the background. The finish is part of the design, the art of the work.

So the paint is there to preserve the work AND it is part of the artistic design. Without paint the product will rust and turn to dust. With paint the product will last much longer AND should be more beautiful.

So you start with paint that will protect, zinc then primer then top coat. The top coat is where the art comes in. You can paint it black, white or any color in the rainbow. It can be striped, variegated or painted according to nature.

You can apply the paint with a wide brush or an air brush. You can turn the job over to an industrial painter or to an artist.

Imagine taking delivery on that custom motorcycle and it is painted black with a large coarse paint brush and has brush texture, runs and bare spots. . . THAT is what many smiths deliver. . . would YOU accept that on a custom bike? Of course not. . . and neither would those delivering ironwork with sloppy paint jobs.

Good ironwork costs as much or more than that custom motorcycle. Per pound it is probably much more. So why should it not be finished as well or better?

Remember that producing "decorative" ironwork makes you an Artist-Blacksmith. A significant part of the art is the finish. So don't quit when the metal work is done, FINISH it!
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 11:48:46 EDT

Re Plastic: If it looks good and will last 10 years it will eat a lot of smith's lunch. Not many people willing to pay for the "it will last 100 years" anymore

My previous house had a slate roof that was about 100 years old, (of a type of slate that was only good for about 110-125 years...), we had been paying for regular maintenaince of it. The folks we sold it too had it ripped off and an asphalt shingle roof put on. They ripped off the front porch that I had been restoring to what a picture from the 1940's showed and put up a vinyl one. Place looks real good right now...

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/11/08 11:59:29 EDT

Just wondering if anyone has used metal roof paint on projects?
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 08/11/08 12:00:18 EDT

Rust Finish: Harley, If you look at an old anvil that has not been oiled and it evenly rusted it looks like a mud red flat paint job (yellow ocher to burnt ocher). If you oil that finish it becomes a dark brown (burnt umber) with a semi-gloss. If you clean some of rust off and get some blue in the dark brown you get back (EXACTLY like mixing burnt umber and ultramarine blue) and a little more gloss.

If you only oil the parts that you would normally touch you have both finishes one fading into the other (this is easy to do with a spray gun OR can). If you have a well oiled tool that is used you will have black as well and if it is used enough some bright highlights (this is done with a little silver paint and a rag).

IF you stop oiling or handling that tool the oil will rub or wash off and you will be back to that yellow rust. . . If you stop oiling that gun with the nice brown it will also continue to rust. If you leave the paint finish alone it should look the same ten to twenty years from now. . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 12:02:06 EDT

What is yalls L6 steel?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Monday, 08/11/08 12:15:52 EDT

Roof Paint: Ken, Roof paint is not particularly different than many other paints except for the following. It has inexpensive pigments that are the most UV resistant (thus the narrow selection), it is often designed to be applied by brush so it is "self leveling". It is not as hard a finish as many others and it depends on the underlying metal to have been galvanized.

In some cases it may be the same paint sold as "general purpose enamel" or "machinery enamel". Ask your paint dealer what is special about it.

   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 12:20:08 EDT

Never heard of "yalls L6" . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 12:21:06 EDT

The Mystery of Blacksmithing:

So, how did an ancient metal worker (iron or bronze) figure out that heating softened metal to where it could be hammered?

   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 13:52:12 EDT

Because they were already aware that native gold (especially gold) silver and copper could be formed by hammering; and the probable link between precipitating metals out of oars and firing pottery. There is a lot of speculation and some small evidence linking the development of pottery and metalworking.

Also, given the work hardening and annealing cycles, melting, casting and hot forging would certainly seem to be linked.

Finally, if metals are "magic" then fire is "big magic". When in doubt, try fire and see what happens.

Free form speculation on the banks of the Potomac. (A popular venue for said exercise.)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone(Atli) - Monday, 08/11/08 14:36:57 EDT


I was wondering about this:


Why shouldn't the mounting tube enter into the shell _at all_, anyway?
   mike3 - Monday, 08/11/08 15:02:31 EDT

To reduce heat pick up and oxidation. Also to make it much easier to line the forge.

The burner nozzle itself should be set back about an inch or one layer of kaowool from the interior of the forge.

I think you asked the other day why your burner mounting pipe was getting very hot. There are two possibilities. 1) You extended it into the forge insulation. 2) The forge doesn't have sufficient venting and the gases are trying to go out through the insulation in the tube. There is also a possibility that the burner is not properly built and is burning up in the burner tube. . . this could be a whole series of problems.

   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 16:16:49 EDT

My guess is that while hammering out the edge was a no-brainer and learning that it made the metal harder it was "sacrificing" weapons for burials by burning that taught them that heat removed the work hardening and it's one step from that to wondering what working the metal hot would be like.

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/11/08 16:28:34 EDT

Ancient Mystery...probaly happened by accident, a helper may have hit a still warm mold with a hammer (after doing so with his bare hand and deciding not to do that a third time)and noticed the metal while solidish, moved easier than when cold.
   JimG - Monday, 08/11/08 16:44:53 EDT

Probably a stretch, but maybe they noticed that things like fat and beeswax got soft when heated, and eventually tried higher temperatures on metals.
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/11/08 17:38:48 EDT

Actually, I figured out that problem -- it appears it was because there was no insulation around the burner. The mounting pipe extends a little into the shell (half an inch or so), but not into the insulation.
   mike3 - Monday, 08/11/08 18:01:46 EDT

Mystery: I kind of like the beeswax theory. Bronze age folks used lots of wax for casting and thus knew that heat made it a LOT softer. The accidental loss of work hardening temper due to fire is also very likely.

But consider the transition from bronze to iron. Bronze tongs would conduct heat almost instantly and slightly over heating them would result in melted tools. . . Metal workers may have found their foundry tools losing strength if they got too hot.

Discoveries of this type could have been the result of one man or the experience of hundreds spread over generations.

But there is a interesting corollary in geology. They used to think things like ice ages took thousands of years to occur but research at the great lakes showed that glaciations and interglacials could come and go in as short as 200 year intervals. That means all of Canada becoming uninhabitable in one lifetime. . . And new research into ice dams and flooding show that some erosion features that look like they should have taken tens of thousands of years could have happened in seconds.

In modern times we have a few inventors that were at the right place at the right time. Nasmyth and Watt among others. Nasmyth had inventions that he gave away that were so basic and so important they are used unchanged to this very day. Watt had to invent his own measurement tools to study the steam engine and Newton invented calculus in order to prove his theories of gravity and work.

Was ONE man the first blacksmith or did hundreds create the art? I would be willing to bet it was ONE man, in the right place, at the right time.
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 18:17:23 EDT

what is L6 steel i mean is it a tool steel or a carbon steel
   - Jacob Lockhart - Monday, 08/11/08 18:29:12 EDT

Jacob, generally most of the letter number steels are tools steels but all need to be properly defined to be sure.

Take A series tool steels A1, A2. . Are air hardening tools steels. They SHOULD always be indicated as AISI A#. The reason is that ASTM steels also have an A series including the popular A-36 which is common structural steel. The same with AISI molybdenum M series high speed steels and ASTM M structural steels. . .

Generally if you are TALKING about tool steels you can leave off the authority but it in not a good practice. The is ESPECIALLY true if you are asking questions.

AISI L6 is common used for saw blades such as band saw blades. Because it contains nickel and is often found in scrap flat stock it is prized for making laminated steels, the nickel resisting the etch an creating a good color.

L6 - Low-alloy special-purpose tool steel

C 0.65 - .75%
Mn 0.25 -.80%
Si 0.5%
Cr 0.60 - 1.20%
Ni 1.25 - 2.00%
Mo 0.5%
V 0.20 - 0.30%
Cu 0.03%
S 0.03%

While the carbon is moderate the alloying increases the hardenability and toughness.
   - guru - Monday, 08/11/08 19:07:04 EDT

"yalls L6" may also refer to a particularly southern alloy. However, the use of the afformentioned "yalls" does not necessisarily confer upon it any particular degree of southernicity. Just cuz a cat has kittens in the oven, we don't call them biscuits. :-)
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/11/08 19:36:57 EDT

yah i have a tendancy not to speak properly or use correct grammar, i get that from my dad who talks fairly redneck sorry
   - Jacob Lockhart - Monday, 08/11/08 20:03:46 EDT

Jacob, I am learning to speak Texian myself. Haven't mastered the spelling yet, though.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/11/08 20:05:54 EDT

Is there any tool steels that the anvilfire store carries that are closely related to the L6? that would look the same, like in color, what i want is to experiment with making a little of the folded damascus. Thanks
   - Jacob Lockhart - Monday, 08/11/08 20:13:56 EDT

ill try to type properly and phrase things better...... sorry about that
   - Jacob Lockhart - Monday, 08/11/08 20:16:04 EDT

Yall, Viddles, and many other words are important, for a headstart on your Texian try looking up Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Dictionary. Thats the way to go.
   - Jacob Lockhart - Monday, 08/11/08 20:21:49 EDT

Soon after we got married, my aunt called from North Carolina and said "How y'all doing?". My wife told her there was no one here by that name and hung up the phone.
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/11/08 21:44:06 EDT

wow my dads favorite answering the phone line "Joes Bar and Grill, Joe Speakin" in a very upbeat manor with a heavy southern accent( that he cant really help) we live in texas and if you talk to my family on the phone there is no doubt were from the south
   - Jacob Lockhart - Monday, 08/11/08 21:55:48 EDT

In the U.S. military, that is surely the melting pot of the United States, the term "Ya'll" is quickly learnd and used in most situations of conversation, instruction to subordinates, and most general inquiry "Ya'll been to chow yet?"
To my knowlage the accepted spelling is ya'll ( a contraction of "you" and "all") and usualy makes referance to the imeadiate goup that is beeing addresed by the speaker. Use of this word does not always indicate a group of two or more, as it is often used during informal conversation between only two people of either opposite or same gender.
I think the most eliquent use of the phrase was by a contemporary poet and renound story teller (whos name escapes me at the moment) who once recounted on a public radio program, how a young teenage boy was overheard admonishing his younger sibblings while ridding on a public bus "Ya'll just quit an' sit dayown!(pause)"Shoot, ya'll act like ya'll ain't never been on no bus b'for!"
Shear poetry... I still use the word most every day here in N.E. Wisconsin just to keep the memory alive. (chuckle)
   - merl - Monday, 08/11/08 22:45:50 EDT

hey, you know how it takes an act of congress to get any neglected, old, perfectly servicable machine or tool that they forgot they even had out of any factory, mill, shop, or tech school? I found an awesome 3 - phase old "square wheel" grinder, it looks to be pre - wilton, with a platen attachment and everything in the loft (boneyard) of a tech school welding shop with ten years of dust and a tarp over it. Do you guys have any ideas on how to convince them to sell it to me? I'm already meeting with resistance....
   - vorpal - Monday, 08/11/08 23:24:26 EDT

On a more serious note, I want to make some 3/8 round mortice and tenon joints in some 5/8 mild steel rod. The tenon will be peened over like a rivet head after assembly and I would make them a shrink fit to keep them tight.
Of course I would hot punch and drift the mortice and neck the tenon down from the 5/8 rod end.
My question is this. if I were to remove the material from the mortice(drill it out) and then install the tenon,I would expect it to be a weak joint. Would this still be the case with the hot punchd hole even though to a lesser degree?
I'm thinking that any hole in a peice of material would be a weakness even if you plugged it back up.
   - merl - Monday, 08/11/08 23:24:57 EDT

Joint Strength: Merl, removing material always weakens the bar. However, the shape of the joint is a design consideration and that determines the final strength.

When a bar or tenon passes through another bar you can either have swell or not. If you have swell the hole is punched with a slitting chisel and then drifted out with little or no removal of material and no reduction in strength. Without swell there must be material removal and the bar has a weak place.

You can hot punch a hole with less swell and less material removal this being a joint of intermediate strength compared to the other extremes.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/08 01:14:26 EDT

Linguistics: I try to write in a very conversational style but realized years ago that we have an international audience who may marginally speak English as a second language. Many colloquialisms do not translate and slang (except for certain globally understood "colorful euphemisms") also do not translate well. SO, I try to use better English while remaining friendly.

Misspelling REALLY fouls up translation programs if you try to run one of them on various articles. Misspelled words in French and German do not translate any better than those in English. . . On technical articles with mi spellings fully have the page may not translate.

Those "colorful euphemisms" as Star Trek's Mr. Spock called them brings up a funny story.

While on a trip to Costa Rica we had a traditional meal at one of the little out of the way turista places up in the mountains and it suited Sheri's tastes perfectly. It was a simple bean (pinto) dish with onions (cebollas) and spices which I now know is the national dish of Costa Rica called "Pinto Gallo".

So at a local dive that served a broad spectrum of the same foods we tried to order the dish. We fumbled over the word for beans (called the owner who spoke English on the phone and tried to explain it to him. . .) and somehow we ended up with a LOT of deep fried chicken and nothing else. When we were finishing up I saw someone with what we wanted and showed the waitress. . . All night we had been trying to communicate with her in our broken Spanish and her non-existant English and now she loudly exclaims "OH SH*T!" We broke out into laughter and the poor waitress turned bright red! Apparently that was her only English and it had slipped out!

We left a nice tip (in a country where it is not normal to tip).
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/08 01:43:21 EDT

Public Property: Vorpal, I was faced with the same situation many years ago and had no success either. An elementary school that was once a county high school with a broad shop course had a wonderful old cutoff saw from the 1940's in its lawn maintenance shop collecting dust. I knew the principal of the school but had no luck. It takes the school board to decide to dispose of such property and even if recommended they may not do so because of the effort required. I suspect it is still there. . .

First, you need the shop manager or instructor to agree that it needs to be disposed of. THEN you need to go to his boss and make an offer (a good one). You will probably be told that property disposal must go through the local board that operates the school and that it must be done at public auction (unless you can convince them that you are willing to pay much more than they may get at auction). You may even need to get someone on the board to support your specific request.

THEN, you want to be darn sure you or any member of your immediate family does not work for the governing body that is disposing of the equipment. . . Government employees and board members are not allowed to bid a auctions of public equipment.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/08 01:58:16 EDT

Why don't you just steal it? I heard a story that a fella found an old fisher anvil that was never used at his place of employment. He made a wooden one like it and wheeled it past the security guard on a Saturday. Then he put the real anvil on the cart and threw the wooden one in the dumpster. Away he went back out the door with the old Fisher anvil. It is now at work in his shop. I left out alot of details too the story, but you get the gist...hehe
   - Stolen Fisher - Tuesday, 08/12/08 02:14:08 EDT

Stress Releave Springs when bending them

Hi Wish you well --- I need to build some springs to repair a car lock -- I under stand if I use a spring and re form / bend it to the required shape to make the new spring, I need to stress releave it --- Some spring will be Stainless Springs and some Spring Steel --- Can any one tell me some different technics of doing this, and the temperature's needed to achieve this ---Thanks

Also Could I melt some lead and put the reformed spring onto the molten lead -- What is an ease ways of telling the temperature of the lead ---please

   tecnovist - Tuesday, 08/12/08 06:55:24 EDT

Springs: The SS spring material is a work hardened material and is normally just formed and used as-is. If you heat treat it the only thing you can do is anneal it, the material does not harden by heat treatment.

Carbon steel springs vary greatly. Normally if they are soft enough to bend then you just bend to adjust them and let it go. Otherwise you will need to do a full heat treatment (heat quench and temper).

The EASY way to tell temperature is with a proper temperature measurement device. They make hand held devices with a probe you dip in the melt for use in low temperature foundry operations (under 1800 F).

A primitive method is to use a small pine stick and see when it chars in the melt. . . I think this is 450 to 500 F.

A more accurate but primitive method is to make a bunch of polished plain carbon steel "coupons". You hold half of one of these in the melt with light tongs and watch the temper colors. When the colors stop changing it is at the melt temperature. Compare the temper colors to a temper color chart similar to the one we have in our FAQs. This will give you fairly accurate readings from 420 to 640 F.

   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/08 09:02:49 EDT

I was just reminded that many lock spring are not very critical and that many are "low performance". That is, they rely on the normal springyness that ALL steel has without being hardened. Test your springs and see.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/08 11:02:59 EDT

Does the anilfire store carry anything closely related to L6? im trying to experimnet with damascus and the 3 layers of O1 and 3 layers of L6 are supposed to make a great material and look very nice, or thats what ive seen on the internet atleast. thanks
   - Jacob Lockhart - Tuesday, 08/12/08 12:06:44 EDT

Jacob, No. And other than bulk or as scrap blades I do not know where to get it. I suspect there is a few feet of it in my shop that Paw-Paw scrounged up

You might try Admiral Steel (on-line)
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/08 12:53:44 EDT

Sean Meyer - re your epee for the SCA - I analyzed some broken Prieur blades from the 1980's I had lying around. I forget off the top of my head what alloy they were but they sure weren't 5160. Memory says a high silicon european steel with no exact US equivalent. For the amount of time required to forge, grind, and properly heat treat an epee blade, it would be much less expensive to just buy one.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 08/12/08 13:11:52 EDT

Jacob, while the O-1 / L6 combo makes a nice contrast and a good blade, it's VERY finicky to weld and heat-treat. That's why only a few extrememly skilled die-hards are still using it. Most of us who do that sort of thing have switched to using a mix of straight carbon steels like 1095 (preferably 1084 if you can find it) and a Swedish alloy called 15n20.

15n20 is very similar to L6 in nickel content, but doesn't have the chrome and as such avoids the welding and accidental air-hardening difficulties. It also has about the same carbon content as 1084, which means they play well together. O1/L6 has a tendency to part company with itself if not treated exactly right due to different coefficients of expansion.

You can get 1095, 1070, and 15n20 from Admiral Steel in Illinois, but it's usually in big chunks or bars sheared from plate. A fellow in Washington named Kelly Cupples sells it in ready-to-go knifemaking sizes. Find him through www.elliscustomknifeworks.com.

Oh, and Merl, the proper spelling is "y'all." You know the pronunciation, more akin to "yawl" with the L on ly barely implied rather than pronounced fully. (grin!)

-Alan from East Tennessee, where we speak the same dialect of southern as they do in Texas, since many Texans came from here back in the 1830s-1850s, not knowing any better. (bigger grin!)
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 08/12/08 13:41:34 EDT

So I got a 1972 Pinto woodie wagon last week! 68,000 orig. miles. The previous owner was an old lady who drove it on Sundays (this is not a joke). The car was sitting in a salvage yard for over a decade. I got the engine running and the tranny working fine. The rear quarter panels are rusted out pretty bad. I'm planning on cutting the rust out and replacing it with pieces cut from the wrecked Pinto. I've never welded body panel before and I worry about blow through that I get with my FCAW. Any suggestions?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 08/12/08 18:13:15 EDT

When I first moved to Texas from Colorado, I worked with a shop foreman who was a native Texan. One day as we waked the shop, he said " Yalls not frum 'round heah, ah ya?" I said no, I was from Colorado. He said "Thought so, yall talk funny".
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/12/08 18:13:18 EDT

Nip, Just lots of care. . . Body guys now use the cheap little MIG units but I preferred OA.

Years ago I saw a Pinto Ranchero in town and then later another. I had always wanted a Ford Ranchero and was driving a Pinto at the time. So I started calling dealers. They said, "No such thing!". I said, "But I've seen several of them and they even have the "Ranchero" emblem on the rear. .

Turns out a local auto body guy was converting Pinto wagons into custom cars by cutting off the roof, moving the rear hatch glass and frame to just behind the passenger area and then putting in a floor. They had no operatable tailgate but it would not be too hard to do. One I looked at had pickup truck steel floor and sides fitted perfectly. . . They LOOKED like factory jobs!

I was considering converting my 72 Wagon to a Pinto Ranchero until it was hit and one of the fenders crushed pretty bad.

The German manual transmission and engine in these was one of the best small cars made. Mine was destroyed in a flood with over 200,000 miles and going strong until then. The weak links in these cars was wear of the distributor shaft (OIL IT), cam wear and carbs vibrating loose if air cleaner brackets were missing. All were things that the below average mechanic should have been able to keep up with but often would not. .

OBTW, The Bosch distributor eats points if set to the Ford spec of .017" but if set to the Volkswagon spec of .028" they last a long long time. .

Be sure to have the front brake calipers rebuilt. They will feel good and hard to the foot but not move due to rust. . you will have no or poor brakes.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/08 18:56:09 EDT

If you think Pinto thickness panels are hard to weld consider this, our 1986 Dodge mini-van weighed 400 pounds less than the much smaller Pinto wagon!
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/12/08 19:02:29 EDT

TGN, will you give your car piercings?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/12/08 19:31:37 EDT


If you can afford it, and your machine will accept it, I'd seriously consider buying a MIG kit and running .023 wire. You can probably find folks who can weld body panels with .035 flux core. I doubt you'll find any to tell you it's easy.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 08/12/08 19:39:59 EDT

TGN, There is a two part epoxy used by a local body shop for quite a few years. Glue the new panels, faster and no heat distortsion.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 08/12/08 19:59:50 EDT

I was at Warner-Robbins Air Logistic Center in GA when Jimmy Carter was president. Had several people tell me, 'Isn't it nice to have a president without an accent'.

I was born in WI and lived their until about eight years old. Now live in TN. Takes a local about two seconds to know "I'm not from here".
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 08/12/08 20:15:54 EDT

If (or when) you make a large hole in the thin steel you could try clamping a heavy chunk of copper against the back of the weld joint. There's also special ceramic I've used at one factory job that sticks on with adhesive stainless foil to the back of weld for large butt weld gaps. Also, pulling the trigger many times instead of welding continously will help puddle and surrounding area cool a little bit
   - Josh S - Tuesday, 08/12/08 20:33:03 EDT


I'd use a piece of copper plate as a backup to sink soem of the excess heat and "stitch" weld the joints. That is, weld a 1/4 or 1/2 inch, leave an equal space then weld again. Once you've run the seam, then go back and fill in.

If your FCAW rig is too hot for the job, try oxy/acetylene with a #0 or 00 tip. I used O/A for years before I got the MIG unit and it works fine. With my MIG, I run .023" wire at low amps and set to stitch weld and I can do 28 gauge panels with no grief. The larger diameter of flux-core wire takes more heat, with some care I bet you can do it. If you cna't get copper for the backer, try some aluminum, but be sure not to hit it with the wire or it will vaporize and contaminate the weld area.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 08/12/08 21:20:17 EDT

technovist: lead melts at 610 F. This might not be hot enough for Your spring.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 08/13/08 00:10:29 EDT

Jock, My '85 Mini Ram van weighs about 3200# and it doesn't have any interior furnishings or side windows behind the front seats. My '65 Falcon Futura weighed about 2500# and My '81 Honda Civic about 1800#. How did that Pinto get so heavy?
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 08/13/08 00:25:39 EDT

Lately people have been coming up to me asking me to make them triangles, as in dinner bell triangles. I'm relatively new to blacksmithing, but I wing it and usually do a good job...at least as far as looks go. The problem is that they never ring very loudly or clearly. Is it because of the metal, because I work it too much (it starts out round but I forge it square so I can put twists in it), or some other reason?

I'm not entirely sure what the metal is that I am using. I know that it must have a pretty hih carbon content because it's really tough to work. My grandpa was going to use it in the place of cables to help support a barn, but he ended up not doing that, so I got it.

So my question is, is there some tempering technique or some other thing that I can do to make the triangles ring louder and clearer? Or am I going to have to just use a different type of metal?

Thanks in advance.
   Lloyd - Wednesday, 08/13/08 01:12:14 EDT


In order for a triangle (or any other resonating element) to ring, it must be able to resonate freely. Typically, this means little or no changes to cross section. Any time that you change the cross section of a resonating memb er, it creates a damping node; that is, a place that is "dead" and stops the vibrations from traveling smoothly throughout the length of the piece. Thus, diminished ring and volume.

Try just bending a triangle from that stock without doing anything else. Make the open end in one corner of the triangle, and suspend it from a piece of leather thong or shoelace. I think you'll find that it rings just fine that way.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/13/08 01:27:22 EDT


Good advice from vicopper. I have seen many nice-sounding dinner bells made that way.

Another approach, recommended by Bill Clemens, a blacksmith from PA, makes the best sounding dinner bells I have heard. His advice....

The exact length for the first bend( the bend the dinner bell should be hung from) is .224 of the overall length being used to make the bell.

The distance came from info on making wind chimes. If you ever see wind chimes, the best ones have each length of pipe hung from a different point (.224 of its length)
   - djhammerd - Wednesday, 08/13/08 06:02:59 EDT

I forgot to mention, Bill also recommends "hardening" the dinner bell after you have forged it.
   - djhammerd - Wednesday, 08/13/08 06:07:18 EDT

Triangles, Dempsey's "Best Ringer Ever":

In the 70's I experimented with making triangles of all different sizes and shapes. At one time I had nearly an octave set just from experiments. Some rang OK, some not well at all and only one really great. I called that one my "Best Ringer Ever". I made and sold maybe a thousand of them.

The first thing is that it is not a traditional two bend triangle, it has three. This results in being as much tuning fork as triangle. The corners need to be tight bends and I would quench the whole immediately after bending. However, if you heat and quench while red they may be too brittle and break.

Start with a 30" length of 1/2" hot roll round bar. Chamfer and debur the ends. Mark it in the center and at 5" from either end with chalk. Clamp in a vise (preferably a blacksmiths leg vise) centering between two of the marks. Heat the first bend (the short leg beyond the vise) with an oxy-acetylene cutting torch tip or a very small rosebud. Heat a band just a little longer than the diameter of the bar, then bend to 60°. Then bend the middle the same way and follow up with the last lining it up to the first leg with about a 1/4" gap. Tap the shape around in the vise until the legs are on the same plane and the two lower legs make a straight line. Then quench. Paint thinly with flat black paint.

You should be able to work quickly enough that there is enough residual heat in the middle corner that you can do the alignment easily. I used good heavy bolt tongs for the bending and the same to do the alignment as you need to move quickly.

I would quench these but I never reheated them to quench and harden. After making a couple guessing at the angles is pretty easy and they go very quickly. I would make a dozen or more at a time when doing craft shows. The striker can be flattened and drilled or drawn out and bent in a loop.

The hanging material must be leather or string so that it is flexible and does not dampen the vibration. Chain does not work.

These small 10" bells would ring much louder than much larger bells that took much more material. I have made numerous large bells and was never happy with the ring. I have also seen fancy triangles made from square stock with twists and forged ends that did not ring well. . . I found that plain good ringing bells sold much better than fancier ones that did not ring as well.

You can use the same proportions and methods to make a two bend triangle but they will not ring quite as well. I used to make a few for the folks that had a preconceived idea of what a triangle should look like.

As I mentioned I experimented a lot making triangles. However, my funds were limited (I WAS a starving artist) and I did not try every possibility or do tweeks by the half inch. . . Part of the secret of triangles is the slenderness ratio (cross section to length of the arms). I suspect if you find the best ratio it would apply to all sizes of stock. Since it is the cross section that produces the mass and thus the ratio a square bar would need to be longer than a round.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/13/08 10:52:52 EDT

Pinto wagon weight. I remember comparing to the registration slips which may not have been accurate. The van was a short model (the one they no longer make).
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/13/08 12:48:34 EDT

Nip, A thing to consider when working on cars of this vintage is that many were aftermarket "rustproofed" including a thick undercoating sprayed inside fenders etc. This stuff will burn if on the otherside of a sheet metal weld repair. Hard to scrape off, use lots of ventalation and keep a fire extinguisher or hose handy.

HF and others sell a nifty air tool the will put a step flange in a cut panel to allow a more flush repair. Easier to fill.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/13/08 18:11:31 EDT

The Pinto was the brainchild of Lee Iacocca who wanted to put out a car to compete with the inevitable takeover of the foreign subcompact market. He wanted a car that would sell for less than $2,000 and weigh less than 2,000 pounds. In their rush to put the new model out, they left out some very important safety features as they would offset the perfect number 2,000. New gas tanks, shields, bumpers and other safety components increased the cost and weight. In 1976 the US government forced Ford to employ these devices. I don't know how many people died in Pintos, but Ford paid out around $100,000 per family. I still love the little exploding crapboxes.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 08/14/08 09:20:11 EDT

   JANUARY MEYER - Thursday, 08/14/08 10:08:28 EDT

January, Please don't yell (all caps).

If you do not get contacted directly you could try the local blacksmith associations. Look on ABANA-Chapter.com.

The other place to look for local blacksmiths is the yellow pages under "ironworks" and "steel errection". IF there is a "blacksmith" category it is usually farriers (horseshoers) which is not what you want. However, you local farrier MAY know the local smiths.

Note also that the vast majority of artist-blacksmiths are part time or hobbiests. Many are quite good and well equipped but do not advertise.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/14/08 10:25:18 EDT

In about one week I will be starting a oxy-fuel cutting and welding college tech class. I plan on(if the instructer lets me) building a nice coal forge. All the forges I've use in past have been very shotty and poorly designed. I would like to have this one to actually have a firepot with clinker breaker and ash dump. So my question is is there any particular reason most commercially made firepots are made of cast iron instead of steel. Would steel work just as well for heat resistence?
   - John L. - Thursday, 08/14/08 14:50:59 EDT

Steel has a greater tendancy to warp, clinker tends to stick to it more and it was more expensive to build then casting iron.

Sure it will work!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/14/08 16:31:04 EDT

John L.- my homemade forge has a steel firepot. We made it from 1/2" steel plate, stick welded together. The clinker breaker is of the same material with an array of holes drilled through for the air. It works a treat.
   Brian C - Thursday, 08/14/08 18:25:01 EDT

Steel for Firepots: One advantage is the melting point for steel is higher and burnout with melting is less of a problem. However, steel scales heavier and rusts heavier with the combination being a major issue on steel firepots. SO, like good firepot design make it replaceable (bolt in) and if you can, make a spare.

Note that the heavy welding to make a good firepot (1/2" thick minimum) is VERY heavy for gas. It should be arc welded as it is much more economical.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/14/08 18:28:11 EDT

I need some help with the naming system of tool steel, I dont know what the letters/number combo means. I understand Carbon steel but ive never really messed with tool steel, so ide like to test its capabilites. Thanks
   - Jacob Lockhart - Thursday, 08/14/08 23:31:58 EDT

i was wondering if anyone had any insight on home built power hammers i am considering a tire hammer i like the small foot print and should be able to construct it with out much trouble other than getting all the parts on limited budget. just any thoughts would be apprieciated if there is another design that fits an intermiediate shop and small budget i would be grateful for the input
   j naylor - Thursday, 08/14/08 23:43:25 EDT

Tool Steels: Jacob, in the U.S. Letter number system the letter indicates the general class and the number the specific alloy. This is different than the SAE system which used all numbers the first two or three indicating the alloy and the last two or three indicating the carbon content in decimal percent. SAE 1020 equals plain carbon steel with .20% carbon. 4140 is a nickel alloy steel with .40% carbon.

In the letter/number system the letters stand for:

A = Air hardening
O = Oil hardening
H = Hot work
L = low alloy
P = mold (die casting) steels
M = high speed (molybdenum steels)
S = Shock resistant steels

To know what the difference between each specific alloy is you need a book or reference (most are on-line). Books are more helpful as they list the alloys in numerical order so you can tell the differences. The handiest is the ASM Metals Reference Book as it covers almost every steel and non-ferrous alloy commonly in use as well as many that are hard to get. It includes information like heat treatment basics (temperature ranges) and general handling.

See my original post on Monday - 11th about confusing alloys due to not being specific about the classifying authority.

In general all tool steels need to be treated carefully. Heated slowly (warmed before putting into the forge fire), worked hot but not TOO hot. Working too hot the alloy types often crumble. Working too cold will cause cracking as well as wear you out.

Heat treatment is more critical in that tool steels do not like thermal shock and should not be soaked too long in the forge (this causes excessive crystal growth). Tempering should follow immediately after hardening.

Most tool steels will reach hardnesses in the 60HRc range but some are recommended to be used in the 52HRc range. It is always best to temper to as soft as the part can be used at.
   - guru - Friday, 08/15/08 02:06:02 EDT

Home Built Hammers: Justin, There are two types to build for the home shop, the tire/clutch type with a Dupont style linkage OR a simple air hammer. Many aspects of building these are the same.

Both need a suitable anvil. This requires either a very large piece of steel OR an assembly of steel. In either case you need 8 to 15 times the ram mass. Both need dies, both need a guide system and ram. Both need a frame.

Most of the parts for the tire hammer mechanism can be scrounged. Most of the parts for the air hammer mechanism need to be purchased (air cylinder, control valves, plumbing and fittings).

The big difference is that you need an air compressor for the air hammer that requires more power than the mechanical by about 2 to 5 times. The down side of the mechanical hammer is that you really need some machine tools to do the job right and it is easy to foul up the Dupont linkage and have a poor running hammer.

If you are a good scrounger or have low expectations as to how the machine looks you can build a hammer for very little. If you buy everything new and need to use an outside machine shop you would be better off to buy the 100# LG I've listed on the Hammer-In. At $4,500 it is cheaper than materials to build a nice hammer.

While many claim you can build a hammer for $1500 they often have light anvils and frames and are often not very well designed. Extra bits and pieces, more machine work. . run the costs up in a hurry. As an example, I spent nearly as much having some 7" and 8" diameter steel cut up into usable pieces as I did for the steel. . .
   - guru - Friday, 08/15/08 02:20:38 EDT

I would like to no if I heat a part of a chrome molly bike frame to bend it back to shape will it make it soft ( change the temper) of the metal
   Peter - Friday, 08/15/08 07:33:26 EDT

SAE 4130 Bicycle frames: Peter, Yea heating will effect the temper of the steel and thus its stiffness. This is a question for the manufacturer of the bike or an expert on these bikes.

Normally in a situation like a framework the steel is not hardened and tempered by the builder, it is used as delivered, taking advantage of its higher strength provided by the tube manufacturer. This particular steel is a medium carbon alloy steel. It is hardened and tempered to various ranges depending on what the manufacturer wants (110,000 PSI or 150/175,000 PSI. When welded it must be preheated and postheated to prevent/remove hard (brittle) areas.

If you heat part of this frame it should be done evenly in the area to be bent and no hotter than a low red. After bending it needs to cool slowly (do not quench or force cool). This is called normalizing. Afterwards it will need to be heat treated to meet the OEM specs. It may be possible to just temper at 650 to 700°F afterwards to be sure there are no hard places. Full proper heat treating is probably impossible in this situation.

Note that some frames are brazed or silver soldered rather than welded and that these joints may come apart if heated to a temperature that assists in bending. As I noted at the beginning, you should consult the manufacturer.

See HenryJames.com for more information.
   - guru - Friday, 08/15/08 09:15:52 EDT

Hey Justin a very large peice of steel i got that could be used for your power hammer anvil is a 26"x6"x2 3/4" thick forklift tine, its thick hardened spring steel and the demensions are the peice i have and it weighs close to 180lbs
   - Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 08/15/08 10:21:28 EDT

oh and i got it for free at a repair place
   - Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 08/15/08 10:22:00 EDT

What makes up 15n20? is it a tool steel or just an alloy?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 08/15/08 10:50:20 EDT

I have posted this URL here several times with a deafening silence in response. This series of concise books provides a wealth of information on various metals. The LITE versions are not complete but nevertheless have a lot of information available for FREE. www.casti.ca/index2.html
   quenchcrack - Friday, 08/15/08 10:53:35 EDT

Possibly I could design the forge so it also accepts a commercial firepot(say vulcan). Then down the road when I have more money and less time I can just buy replacement firpots commercially.
   - John L. - Friday, 08/15/08 10:57:12 EDT

Quenchcrack - nice link - I missed your earlier post regarding it. Probably won't use it that much since I can access a small metallurgical library on site. I understand the frustration of posting metallurgical knowledge - sometimes folks just don't want to know the science.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 08/15/08 12:30:05 EDT

Gavainh, I have an extensive library of my own that is pretty current. The problem is I usually see the posted questions that are related to metallurgy after several others have already posted. I hate to be redundant.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 08/15/08 16:24:02 EDT

I am middle aged and just picking up the hammers. I wanted to know the best way to taper the thickness of metal at the ends. For example the end of a pry bar or chisel.
   jim - Friday, 08/15/08 17:15:38 EDT

Homebuilt hammers.
I agree with the Guru mostly about homebuilt hammers. I disagree that the Dupont style mechanical and the air hammer are the only two.
I have built, and used since 2002, a non-Dupont mechanical which can be seen on the junkyard hammer page here on Anvilfire. It is I think the second easiest to build without inhouse machiing capability. On Iforgeiron is a bule print for a small helve put up by Jr Strassel. I have seen one a friend built, and it is downright simple. Not as versitile as a guided ram spring helve such as mine, but for drawing, hard to beat.

I would say that the secret to all JYH's is in two items. The most important in my opinion is the ram guide. It needs to be way stouter than most get built. Second I echo the Guru, anvil weight is critical.

If one is a good scrounger, and can weld well, a "Depew" type helve should be able to be built for about $300 max. The Guided ram spring helve such as mine are about the same. But when you scrounge and build, you need to be able to see a picture and build something from what you have that is GENERALLY the same as the picture. Note that I did not say plans. If you have plans and build to the plans then you run the cost up.
   ptree - Friday, 08/15/08 18:01:30 EDT

Jim; The *best* way is to use a powerhammer. Esp for alloy steels that are a bit stiffer under the hammer than mild steels.

What I generally do for long tapers is to use a fairly broad fuller and the large horn of my anvil to rough it out faster and then clean with the flat face of my hammer.

For short ones I generally just use the hammer.

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/15/08 18:07:40 EDT

Jim- The best way for a novice to taper is not one single technique but rather hundreds of repeated tapers of the various types. This will build muscle, coordination, endurance and knowledge. Look into the vast "how to" resources found elsewhere on this site. If you are beyond the rank beginner phase then you may have already found that there are as many "best" methods as there are smiths. Just watch out for overforging of the very end of the bar and folding in a cold shut.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 08/15/08 20:04:39 EDT

Jim, Hit the end of the bar withe the MIDDLE of the hammer face. Many beginners hit immediately behind the end; no good. Hitting on one dimension only will cause the metal to flare, to "fishtail," so you will be giving it quarter turns to make the sides of the chisel parallel, getting rid of the fishtail. Pry bars and chisels normally wind up with the blade being slightly wider than the parent material.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 08/15/08 20:07:40 EDT

On shop-made powerhammers, there are DIY and group-builds. Clay Spencer was going around the country and holding group-builds of the spare tire hammers. You helped build say a dozen and came home with one of your own. I don't have a current e-mail for Clay, nor a site link. Perhaps someone else does.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/15/08 21:14:15 EDT

On DIY powerhammers:

While I agree in principle that the DuPont linkage mechanical hammer is probably the most energy-efficient of the available designs for power hammers, I still think that a uktility air hammer is the way to go.

All mechanical hammers suffer from the same syndrome, that is, they hit best and hardest at a particular speed and height setting. If you change the speed or change the thickness of the stock being worked, the power drops off markedly. If you want to use top tooling in a mechanical hammer, you just about have to change the linkage height or the hammer won't function at all. This makes a mechanical hammer less than optimum for a small shop where yhou may be doing several different things on the hammer in one session. An air hammer doesn't sukffer from this syndrome, however.

The great virtue of the elegantly simple Kinyopn-style air hammer plumbing is that it cares no a hit about the stock thickness or height of top tooling - it will hit and reciprocate just fine on anything from 1/16" sheet metal to top tools that are dangerously tall, all with good solid blows. The magic is in the spring-return spool valve that changes direction when pressure reaches equilibrium within the valve. Ingenious and simple.

Yes, you will have to spend some money on parts to build a decent air hammer. But for any powerhammer that will work well, you will have to spend significant money (these days) to get sufficient anvil mass and frame mass/rigidity, so why cavil about a few hundred b ucks for decent air components? Yes too, you will need an air compressor to run an air hammer. You also need a compressor to run a spray gun to finish your work, to run air chisels, pump up the tires on the shop truck and your kid's bike, etc.

There is a reason that today's manufacturers of power hammers aren't building many mechanical hammers - air hammers are more versatile and have better control.

If all you want a power hammer for is drawing bar stock, then I suppose a mechanical hammer is the cheapest way to go, short of impressed strikers. However, once you actually use a power hammer, you immediately realize how much can be done with a really good one versus how little can be done with a limited one.
   vicopper - Friday, 08/15/08 23:00:03 EDT

thanks for giving me so much to consider if i would have known that asking such a simple question would make me so confused i wouldnt have asked it........rofl. i do really like the kinyon style hammers and think it is within my means skill and buget wise as long as i spread it out and take my time. jock i would love to buy that hammer i like anything that is old wich is why i think i gravitated to this for a hobby but i cant get 4500 bucks together without getting a divorce too..lol. i shouldnt have much of a problem scrounging parts for any of these hammers i have friends that owe favors and past jobs that i am still in good standing with particularly a recycling center with a very large scrap pile. so bits and pieces wont be a problem i also have a paper mill up the road with a very large "scrap" pile wich is more like a gold mine and the gm there is one of my friends and said i could pick through. there are a ton of air cylinders still in working condition only moved out when the mill retooled. there is also alot of heavy heavy steel old mill shafts and old frames much of wich can be broken down to managable sized pieces with wrenches. all this being said should i build an air hammer. how much air needs to be made to run one.ill take all the info anyone wants to throw at me im so confued now....lol. but honestly i just have more to think about i guess
thanks again
   j naylor - Friday, 08/15/08 23:53:46 EDT

j naylor,

The amount of air a hammer requires is fairly easily calculated from the size of the cylinder involved. The volume of the cylinder will be filled twice (once for down, once for up) for each stroke of the hammer, so thatvolume times the number of blows per minute is the volume of air you'll need, plus a bit to account for system losses. My 65# Kinyon-style hammer has a 2-1/2" by 12" cylinder, though I only use 10" of the available 12" of stroke, and my 5hp, 2-stage Ingersoll-Rand compressor (17cfm@175psig) runs it very handily. With a smaller compressor, I could still run the hammer, but I might have to wait a bit between uses for the compressor to recover the air. I used to run the hammer on a 2" diameter cylinder, and it used about the same amount of air, since I had to run it at a higher pressure to get the same power.

The 2-1/2" cylinder that I recently installed cost me about $150 at MSC, as I recall.

When building an air hammer, be sure you don't scrimp on the valving components! Get the highest cv rating you can reasonably manage. Use nothing less than 1/2" primary air lines, preferrably copper tubing rather than hose, and use a butterfly valve for the throttle rather than the standard ball valve. Likewise for the roller pilot valve - 1/4" lines and high cv rating. The difference in price is negligible and the difference in both performance and control is dramatic.

I regularly work 2" square bar with my hammer, and also small stuff like 1/4" round, to give you an idea of what it can do.

One last bit of advice: plan your hammer to have a minimum of ten inches of available stroke or more. This "headroom" allows you to use flat dies and top tools to do things you simply cannot do with a hammer that has only seven or eight inches of stroke and therefore requires trick dies to get around the inability to accomodate top tools and heavy stock. You can use less stroke than you have available, but you can't use more if you don't have it to begin with. The price difference between a cylinder with ten inches of stroke (9" usable with a margin for safety) and one with twelve or even fourteen inches of stroke is about ten bucks. The volume of air consumed is a factor of the stroke you actually use, not the maximum stroke length of the cylinder, by the way.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/16/08 00:42:06 EDT

could it be plumbed with black iron instead of copper
   j naylor - Saturday, 08/16/08 00:51:25 EDT

Air hammers, continued:

As a matter of sensible design, I'd recommend that you serioiusly consider building an air hammer using a larger diameter cylinder operating at lower pressure. The power of the cylinder is a function of the area of the piston times the pressure of the air, so a 2" diameter piston at 100 psi produces 310 pounds of push/pull (discounting the rod diameter). Likewise, a 3" diameter cylinder will produce the same force at only 45 psi. It is cheaper in both the short and long-run to use a bigger cylinder and lower pressure, since the higher price of the bigger cylinder is more than offset by the much lower price of the single-stage compressor instead of the two-stage needed for a smaller cylinder. You can get two inexpensive single-stage compressors that will supplyh all the 75 psi air you could want for less tha the cost of my 5hp 2-stage IR compressor. Lower pressure also means less leakage, less hazard and less noise.

This was recommended to me by Tony Bartol, a blacksmith and first-rate fluid systems engineer (among other things), and my experience shows it to be very true.

Big self-contained air hammers like the Beches and Nazels run at about 35-45 psi, if I'm not mistaken. They have pistons the size of trash cans, too. :-)
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/16/08 00:57:15 EDT

j naylor,

I use black iron for my general air piping, but for the power hammer copper is actually better as it allows you to make smooth sweeping bends rather than having to use tight right-angle fittings. This contributes to smoother, quicker air flow and better control and performance. With the soft copper refrigeration tubing you can use either soldered fittings or flare fittings, but do not use compression fittings - they leak, period. The copper is rated for about the same pressure as Sch 40 black iron pipe; it is what is used on 250+psi refrigeration lines, remember?
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/16/08 01:01:25 EDT

j naylor,

I use black iron for my general air piping, but for the power hammer copper is actually better as it allows you to make smooth sweeping bends rather than having to use tight right-angle fittings. This contributes to smoother, quicker air flow and better control and performance. With the soft copper refrigeration tubing you can use either soldered fittings or flare fittings, but do not use compression fittings - they leak, period. The copper is rated for about the same pressure as Sch 40 black iron pipe; it is what is used on 250+psi refrigeration lines, remember?
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/16/08 01:01:26 EDT

Ooops! Clickitis got the best of me there, it seems. Still, I guess if it was good enough to say once, it was good enough to say again, right? (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/16/08 01:02:57 EDT

i was going to ask about the piston size becase it would actualy be easier for me to get a large one for free than to get a smaller one and pay for it the cylinders i have access to are between 4 in with a 15 in stroke to 6 in with a 12 in stroke th were used to lift metering rolls and open calender stack on a paper mill
   j naylor - Saturday, 08/16/08 01:53:52 EDT

there are also some smaller diameter ones with a long stroke that were used for opening and closing water and stock valves
   j naylor - Saturday, 08/16/08 01:56:13 EDT

what would be the optimum size to use if it is something i do wind up having to buy than i would rather get the right one the first time rather than refitting or remaking over and over again

   j naylor - Saturday, 08/16/08 01:59:35 EDT

im sorry i dont mean to be bothersome i am just very interested and any information i can gather from somebody elses trials will only help me get it right or close to right the first time
   j naylor - Saturday, 08/16/08 02:04:17 EDT

j naylor,

The 4" x 15" would probably do fine. You'd need about 18-20 cfm @ 50 psi to run a 50-70# hammer, at a guess. You can do the calculations yourself and get the actual numbers.

If you have to buy one, I'd go with 3" diameter by 12-14" stroke. The 3" diameter cylinder will come with 1/2" ports, which is a good thing to move lots of air quickly. Smaller cylinders usually have only 3/8" ports or sometimes 1/4", forcing you to go to higher pressure.

There is a cutoff point where too big a diameter is problematic in terms of moving sufficient air quickly enough. Valves to switch that much air get expensive in a hurry, as they have to have large ports and internal passages.

If you do some poking around online you can find a calculator application that will let you plug in your cylinder dimensions, force requirements, air pressure, etc and get the related figures. You can also do it the old-fashioned way with a pencil and paper, but in any case you need to balance your components to end up with a well-behaved hammer. You're on the right track already, asking question sand assemblijng the necessary information upon which to base your decisions.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/16/08 02:23:57 EDT

Hi and thanks for such an excellent, inspiring website.
I saw an ad for a 50kg anvil made from 'SG (spheroidal graphite Cast Iron'which made claims about the superior material its made from. It is relatively cheap, which makes me suspicious of its quality. Is this likely to be an ASO or a UBA (useful blacksmith's Anvil)
Thanks again a keep up the good work,
Dan :)
   dan smillie - Saturday, 08/16/08 07:11:32 EDT

Mechanical Hammer Blows: That is not correct, that they only hit well at one speed. That is only true of the lesser hammers without the proper adjustments AND the operators that do not know how to adjust the hammer. There is a surprising number of pros using Little Giants that cannot adjust them properly for given work and the better hammers have more adjustments than the LG.

Hammers like the Fairbanks and Bradleys with height AND stroke adjustments can be run very hard and slow high and low OR very fast high and low. But if you don't take the 20 or 30 seconds it takes to make the adjustments or don't know how then you will be running in the wrong place most of the time.

Air hammers are great machines but require a lot more HP to do the same work. They run consistently but do not hit well at the top of their strokes and cannot be made to run with rapid short blows.

The advantage of air hammers is mostly that they cost less to build having less moving parts. But as fuel costs for everything continues to be a bigger part of our overhead the more efficient mechanical hammers will be more and more attractive.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/16/08 08:00:43 EDT

Anvil Materials: Dan, There are two problems with cheap import anvils.

1) The sellers often do not know exactly what the material is and will make up ANYTHING to sell them. Recently we posted a letter from one of the makers in the U.S. about their material and I suspect those words will be showing up in many shady advertisements. In the past every cast iron anvil on ebay was being sold with phrases about superior anvils taken directly from this page.

2) There ARE heat treated ductile iron anvils made of proprietary alloys designed specifically for anvils. TFS, NC-Tool and others sell these. From long experience they have found that standard irons do not work.

There are numerous issues with anvil manufacture that make good ones expensive. It is not JUST the material, its the quality control behind its chemistry and how it is processed. It is not just the heat treatment, it is proper heat treatment for the specific alloy for the intended use.

Many anvils sold on ebay are sold cheap and the NON-REFUNDABLE shipping is more expensive or AS expensive as the product. When people look at a warrantee or misrepresentation issue they must also look at the cost of shiiping the product back as just more money thrown away.

Caveat emptor!
   - guru - Saturday, 08/16/08 08:13:21 EDT

4 cents worth(inflation) Every thing Vicopper says about air hammers is probably true, but you get what you pay for. While the construction time for an air hammer is less, the cost of a massive air compressor quickly offsets that. Then when you factor in the electric bill to run 7.5 hp versus 2hp for the same energy at the hammer head, the mechanical hammer becomes far cheaper in the long run. As far as the air hammer being better, the only feature I have seen on an air hammer, that isn't readily available on a mechanical hammer is the ability of One model, to clamp work between the tup and the sowblock. If your mechanical hammer is not performing up to snuff, it was built/designed poorly. Old (century plus) designs are not as versitle as newer designs. See ptree's model on the junkyard hammer page on this site, and or contact me for more info on modern improvements to mechanical powerhammers. One of the best benifits to a leaf spring helve design is quick change hammer height adjustment. They hit just as well at all but the MOST extreme height adjustment(say six inches or more height over anvil at bottom of hammer stroke. Vicopper, next time you are on the continent, come up to Cape Cod and try my powerhammer.
   John Christiansen - Saturday, 08/16/08 11:47:46 EDT

Hey dan you can make a good anvil for cheap or free from a broken forklift fork, cut the striaght back of it in half and weld together when i weld mine it will be 5 1/2 inches thick, and its hardened spring steel.
   - jacob lockhart - Saturday, 08/16/08 14:52:02 EDT

I must allow that John Christiansen is right about the spring helve being a super easy to set height, and that it is controllable and hits as hard as any LG of similar size. They are simple and easy to build. I built mine with a slip pully first and than upgraded to spare tire clutch. For the simplest, cheapest, JYH, a guided ram, spring helve with a tire clutch will be very hard to beat.

Jock you are sold on the Dupont mechanism. Having now run about 5 or 6 LG's with the Dupont, and maybe at least one of those was in tune, I do not see any gain in applied hammer force over the spring helve. The long leaf of the spring helve takes a S shape and stores energy and delivers a good slap. I find the tire clutch far easir to feather, and it is easier to deliver soft blows than any LG I have run. Granted I have not run that many. For free hand, no top tools work I like my mechanical with combo dies. I would love to have an air utility right next to it for top tool work.
   ptree - Saturday, 08/16/08 15:28:44 EDT

I have some old "branding irons" I would like to use to burn designs into wood. I've tried my gas grill to heat them but they don't get hot enough. What would you suggest I could do to heat them up without ruining them and at a low cost? Is a gas forge the answer. I don't want to spend a lot.

Thanks much for your advice.

   Robert Winer - Saturday, 08/16/08 16:54:23 EDT

A charcoal fire. ( not the briquettes) get a fire going and when you have a bed of coals stick it in there and give it some air with a hair dryer that should get it fairly close to a glowing cherry red, if your not going to use them too much this should work fine, but if you plan on using them alot you can build this easily and it will work great
   - Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 08/16/08 17:18:37 EDT

Heads Up: Quad-State 08: Thermite welding of RR track; Power Hammer Techniques - Phil Cox; Knifemaking - Doug Noren; Traditional - Bob Alexander; Iron Smelting - Darrell Markewitz; Armor - Robb Martin; Air Tools - Glen Horr; Comtemporary - Jack Brubaker and Beginning & Basic - Lorelei Sims. September 26-28.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/16/08 19:37:34 EDT

john chrstiansen, where on the cape are you in land or on the island i would like to see your hammer. i also live in mass and have been trying to find anyone close to local to pick there brains. im in central mass but wouldnt mind taking a trip down to the cape. i am new to all of this and im need of ideas. im the type that needs to learn new things on a daily basis or i consider that day a loss...lol not a loss but i like to learn as much as i can.
   j naylor - Saturday, 08/16/08 19:37:42 EDT

J Naylor, I am in Yarmouth, the hammer is in Harwich, another ten miles or so to the east.
   John Christiansen - Saturday, 08/16/08 20:26:43 EDT

I was looking for a leather apron to wear while blacksmith, but I can't seem to find any leather blacksmith aprons that fit what I'm looking for. Can anyone recommend a quality leather apron for blacksmithing thats not super expensive?
   - John L. - Sunday, 08/17/08 00:30:34 EDT

j naylor- I also am in central mass (worcester) and have a shop, etc. I agree with John with the advantages of a spring helve hammer. I got appalachian plans, and built with some scrap steel and some new steel total cost was around $400 including nuts and bolts and whatnot. Contact me and I'll show you some stuff if you're nearby. If the name-email link doesn't work for you look me up on internet yellowbook under Ferromorphics
   Josh S - Sunday, 08/17/08 00:33:40 EDT

Jacob Lockhart: I offer this advise because I had very sinilar questions about 14 years ago. An anvil can be any mass of metal, relatively flat and heavey enough that it dosen't junp around on a stump or anvil stand. When I started forging blades I was given a shrimp boat gear that came off the winch. It was is 4" thick and 21" diameter. I havent weighed it but I'n guessing it was 100 lbs or more. It worked fine for over six months, until I found a proper 101 lb Peter Wright. My forge was made from an old cast iron wood burning stove, lined with firebrick and had 2" black iron pipe plumbed along the botton, with an elbow turned up to the firepot. which was lined with fire brick.
, and coated with refractory clay Not construction brick or concrete block (they will spall). For air I used my handy yard blower and could make the whole thing get almost white hot...burnt up a bunch of coal that I picked up on the RR tracks leading to the two mill here locally and melted around 10 rail road spikes while trying to forge knives. I was deep in the learning curve, but the folks here at Anvilfire got me going in the proper direction. I switched to my wife's hair drier after adding two feet to the pipe so's not to butn up my wife's hair dryer...well I melted it anyway, though it did work well for a while. Had to buy her a new one. Long story short and the main point is. you can use any number of things to get started hammering hot steel. Once you have accomplished that, you can continue to search for proper blacksmithing equipment. There are breakdrum forge plans right here on Anvilfie. I built one from a garbage truck drum. It is deep and wide and makes a great welding fire. I was still picking up coal dropped from the RR cars going to the paper mills...free.I now use LPG forges because of my location but now and then I fire up the break drum forge just to make there eyes water over on the fancy golf course across the street, Point is, if you have the desire you will find a way however crude or rudimentary to get started. I made a few decent blades using that shrimp boat gear and wood burning stove forge until I could do better. Do it for the joy of doing it and you cant go wrong.Know that the good folks here at Anvilfire will always answer questions and give good advise to help you along. I would recomend basic bladesmithing books like "The Hand Forged Knife" by Karl Schroen, basic understandable reading. very informative. Also Alexander Weygers "The Complete Blacksmith" which covers just about everything including cutting tools. Pattern Welded "Damascus comes after you have mastered the skills needed to make a servicable edged tool from a plain carbon steel. I am not being critical, but honoring your desire to work hot steel.
Best Regards Ya'll,
Randall Guess
Amelia Island Forge, Florida
I pray Fay will Stay Away

   R Guess - Sunday, 08/17/08 00:55:47 EDT

John L,

You can find hides at Tandy Leather Factory which has retail outfits throughout the country, and they put out a catalog. Cowhide is OK if it is free from holes. Once you have the hide, cut to fit. I personally don't like the bib and neck straps. Some old aprons were simply a hide with about a 3" beltline fold. It was tied with a thong going around the waist under the fold, and the top of it was worn above the belly button. Farriers' aprons were sometimes thick mule hide with the vertical split and they fit lower on the hips.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 08/17/08 10:19:37 EDT

R Guess-- Bravo! Great post re: gear and attitude! Ought to be archived. Good luck with Fay!!
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 08/17/08 11:11:14 EDT

What ounce (thickness) and type of leather should I buy to make the apron? I've decided I just want a waist apron.
   - John L. - Sunday, 08/17/08 11:14:13 EDT

Thank you for the advice. I will use all the info given. This is really an amazing art. Thanks for a site like this.
   jim - Sunday, 08/17/08 12:06:29 EDT

John L.

My smith's apron averages 6 ounces (3/32") and is dark brown in color and vegetable tanned. It's length is a tad lower than my mid calf. My old farrier's apron averages 10 ounces (5/32") and is chrome tanned. I believe that either type of tanning is OK for our use.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 08/17/08 13:05:53 EDT

Aprons and a story: Mine is a welding apron (they are cheap) that I cut about 8" from the bottom. I do not like an apron that goes below my knees. I've worn the same apron for over 30 years and have had to replace the straps twice.

I wear my leather apron for mechanical protection while buffing, smithing and welding. Stains on them indicate that most of the use protecting clothes is from the belly up.
If I were doing heavy smithing I would look into cotton as noted above. Farriers wear split leather aprons that often start at the waist to protect them from exposed nails while shoeing. That waist down apron you want is a farriers apron.

There are aprons and there are aprons. One heavy work industrial smith said that all they use in industry is cotton. This is because leather is too heavy, conducts and holds heat (it will burn you and keep burning you until you get out of it) and is too stiff once overheated. While doing his demo his cotton apron caught on fire from the radiant heat and he continued to work while several members of the the audience were trying to get his attention. When he was finished with the task he calmly patted out the flames, looked at the audience with disdain, mumbled something like, "You dumb SOB's" and then said, ". . don't you think I KNOW when I am on fire? I wouldn't get ANYTHING done if I stopped every time I caught fire!"

He continued by saying that cotton aprons were consumables that regularly burned or smoldered away until they were too short and were replaced about once a week in his industry. Leather was never used for the reasons above.

As a smith and a welder you to will find that you cannot flinch every time a white hot sputter ball or red hot scale lands on you or will never get anything done. Having certain clothing catch fire is another of those things. . . just be darn sure it is slow burning dense cotton.

Under extremely hot working conditions such as in foundries they use multi-layer aprons, gauntlets and spats covered with reflective foil, follower by insulation and then sometimes leather for durability. Gloves with foil on the backs are common.

   - guru - Sunday, 08/17/08 15:17:05 EDT

When I worked in the cast iron foundry, I learned that molten iron splatters will bounce off of your skin due to the steam that forms when it touches your sweaty skin (assuming you are actually sweating and not just "manageing" something). Slag, on the other hand, will stick to your skin and give you a 3rd degree burn real fast. Note that slag is not the same as scale.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/17/08 17:34:18 EDT

John L, look for welders leathers at a welding supply shop. If you find the apron too long, cut to to the length you want. Also, Harbor Freight sells really cheap welding leathers. I think the leather comes from squirrels.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/17/08 17:38:06 EDT

I made an apron out of cotton duck. It's a full length, down to ankles, with split legs. I velcro the bottoms loosely around the ankle.

What I like is it's pretty light and I don't sweat quite as much. With the full length legs I get to wear shorts, and that, and a fan, helps keep a little cooler in the summer.
   - Marc - Sunday, 08/17/08 20:24:05 EDT

Thanks for the advice.
   - John L. - Sunday, 08/17/08 21:11:12 EDT

Sad to say that several years ago Tandy leather closed all of it's retail locations. Now there are just a few shops selling limited selections of their goods and you can purchase off of their website. Like many other wonderful stores of the past their products have been outsourced and are no longer of the quality they used to be. A little online research provides a much better selection of leather and associated supplies from other vendors that are better and at similiar prices. I miss Tandy stores almost as much as hardware stores that sell good tools.
   Robert Cutting - Sunday, 08/17/08 22:28:27 EDT

Apron, what apron? I forge in shorts and a T-shirt. I do wear a jacket for electric welding, as I have sufficient skin cancers already. I hate it though, its too damn hot here to be wearing a jacket.

Small burns, scrapes and cuts are just a fact of life if you're a working smith. If you bundle up in all the protective clothing and other gear so you're immune from all hazards, you'll probably just croak from suffocation and heat stroke under all that gear.

By all means, wear eye protection and use hearing protection when using loud power tools or if you have one of those offensive ringing anvils. Beyond that, I have found that a bit of care will avoid most of the larger scars, and the small ones only add character.
   vicopper - Sunday, 08/17/08 22:35:20 EDT

Ken, were is this Quad-State show every one talks about ?
I'm thinking I'd to put it on my wish list for vacations when my kids are a little older.
Sounds like quite a line up for this year. Is it as fully packed like this every year?
   - merl - Monday, 08/18/08 00:00:01 EDT

I did production welding for two years at a big shop that made rolls for the paper industry. I would stand for ten hours a day at the pit (10 feet deep by 5 feet around with a turn table at the bottom of it) and shrink together and then weld to pressure vessal standards with 7/64 flux core on a water cooled gun. I usualy ran from 500-800 amps and it wasn't uncommon to go through 60-80 lbs. of wire in a shift. I had a piece of 2'x3'x1/4 steel plate to lean up aginst so I wouldn't get vertigo and fall in the pit, a very heavy one piece leather apron, cotton half coat and sleaves with aluminized pads above the wrist, long gaunlet welding gloves with aluminized backing and aluminized pads on the backs of the gloves.( it was allarming to see how fast that aluminum backing would burn up) I used a thirteen shade in my helmet and wore shaded ice climbers glasses. I also wore a bandana around my neck to protect from uv's.
Hot? yes very. But I drank probably a gallon and a half of water per shift and I was so drenched in sweat that all I had to do to cool off was step in front of a fan for a minit and I was good.
I still have that apron and use it when at the forge but otherwise I'm usualy in shorts, T shirt and open toed sandles (with socks, I admit)
I like the full length apron but, somtimes wish it was split like a farriers. Like Guru said I also like it for the protection from grinders and wire wheels ect...
   - merl - Monday, 08/18/08 01:05:32 EDT

i have a few general purpose questions.....i am a Staff Sergeant in the Army and I am the one in charge of the welding shop here. I have lots of blacksmithing and welding experience but still one area trips me up. When we do inventories of our machine shop sets, there are so many types of files on it, i cant tell the difference. is there a reference for all the types of files out there? by nomenclature or shape or something? i just "inherited" this machine shop and the guys before me were just guessing, i dont want to guess. any help would be great. also, what is a good reference for how alumium is graded. i know how steel is and can read and understand the numbers behind it (1095 HC, 4130, O-1, etc) but where could i find info on aluminum? i love this site, keep up the good work, and thanks from Iraq!!
   matt - Monday, 08/18/08 04:43:56 EDT

merl: It is the Quad-State Blacksmithing Conference held every year, normally the 4th weekend in September, at the Miami County Fairgrounds in Troy, OH (about 20 miles north of Dayton) off I-75. The host, Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil Ass'n, has a permanent shop building there. Typically the largest blacksmithing event in the world with attendance approaching 800-1000. Very family friendly. Camping and food vendors on site. Nearby motels and fast food places. Several acres of tailgate sellers. Indoor vendors (e.g., Centaur Forge). Blacksmith's Depot is typically there. Event doesn't officially start until Friday evening, but some folks come in early in the week to catch the tailgate sellers coming in.

Anvilfire.com typically has a canopy set up.

Tailgate area seems to alternate years between lots of postvises and anvils.

Bob Cruikshank will have the SOFA/Zeller firepots there. VERY heavy duty.

No alcohol on fairgrounds rule is pretty well a wink and a nod. Kept to campsites or well disguised.

Expanded program this year over past. Typically they have someone doing knives, traditional, beginner, work involving a power hammer and something different. Same program on Saturday and Sunday, but event is pretty well over by noon on Sunday as folks head home.

For a registration package send a postcard to: Quad-State 08, P.O. Box 24308, Huber Heights, OH 45424-0308. You can also register at the event.

I believe this is something like the 25th Quad-State so they have the routine down pretty well pat.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 08/18/08 08:21:11 EDT


Welcome back to the land of the living.


There is a little bit of file info on http://www.cooperhandtools.com/brands/nicholson_files/file_terminology.pdf
   Frank Turley - Monday, 08/18/08 08:23:32 EDT

Categorizing Files: Matt, There are literally hundreds of types of files. While there are general types there are also many special and proprietary types. They also come in various sizes and lengths. The coarsness of the cut is generally proportional to the length for every type.

For general classification files come in different shapes (cross sections), are straight of tapered, have one of several cuts, several coarsenesses and are sized by length. Manufacturers catalogs would be helpful.

The shapes are:

Flat or Equaling
Rectangular (Pillar)
* Warding
Round edge flat
Half round
Triangular or three square
Barrette (a flat triangle)
Crossing (two curved surfaces with v edges).
Diamond or slitting
Knife (two tapered faces and a "safe" back)

Each of the above can be straight or tapered. Those with a flat uncut side may be "safety" files. Safety means one surface is smooth or uncut. Occasionally folks convert their own by grinding teeth off one side.

Each of the above may be standard hand files with a short tang OR double ended. Each may be a needle file. These are long slender files with a straight bare grip that generally come in sets. Different lengths apply. Each shape can also be found in riflers (double end, different cuts on each end, curved or bent) in different sizes OR smaller die sinker riffle files (look sort of like dental tools).

Cuts are single smooth, bastard (double cut) and rasp. Each can vary in coarsness and there is no real standard the grades varying from English and metric countries and by manufacturer.

Often files are named for the trade they were designed for but there is too much crossover for this to have any real meaning. Riflers ranges from the very small used by jewelers and dies sinkers, to medium called silversmiths and end with large sculptor's riflers. Needle files are made in sets as short as 3 or 4" and are called machinist's or jeweler's needle files but also some in lengths up to 8 and 10 inches.

* Some standard shapes do not fit the general rules. A "warding file" gets its name from cutting slots in bit type keys. Warding files are a thin flat tapered smooth single cut file or varying length. Originally a locksmith's file all crafts make use of them. A new file shape is a locksmiths tumbler cut file which has two 120 degree faces and a radiused corner.

Aluminium (cutting) files have a special extra sharp coarse cut and sometimes have X shaped lines of "chip breakers". They are usually marked "Aluminium".

Rasps come in various file shapes and can be coarse or fine cut. Pattern makers rasps are specially cut with the medium coarse teeth not forming straight rows. They are one of THE most expensive files made.

SO to recap, You have shape, taper or not, cut, length, type (hand, needle, riffler). The level of coarseness is tricky because what is coarse on a 6" file is extra fine on a 12" file.

Files can also be grouped by what you cut. For soft (non ferrous) metals and fine hardwood sharp new files should be used. When these are slightly worn they work fine on steel. Dull (but not worn out) files are good for hot rasping (a blacksmith technique) and for heavy work in the wedling shop.

Files should be stored so they do not knock or rattle against each other and new files should be kept wrapped in oil soaked storage paper. But file maintenance is a whole different subject.

   - guru - Monday, 08/18/08 08:50:03 EDT

Just wanted to tell you guys about a heck of a find at a flea market yesterday. Got 6 commercially made tongs for $40! 3 bolt tongs 3/4, 5/8 and 1/2, two flat stock tongs and a set of the weird double bowed tongs. The seller had a half a can of Kasenit. I was tempted to buy it, but there was another guy with a nice selection of 8 track tapes I just HAD to get.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/18/08 08:53:16 EDT

Files: If you have not already discovered it, the files at Harbor freight are NOT real files. They will not cut steel or wood effectively. I believe they are decoys made in India or China. I have several in my scrap bin hoping to lure in some real files from which I can forge a few good blades.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/18/08 08:58:50 EDT

Aprons, I like a bib apron, but don't like the loop around the neck, so I have a "teamsters" style apron (do a google, pictures can explain better than my words) also when you think you are good enough to be called a Smith cut a fringe on the bottom of your apron. http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/stories/King_of_Crafts.htm
   JimG - Monday, 08/18/08 09:11:25 EDT

Metal Info: Matt, Every shop that works in numerous alloys should have a copy of ASM Metals Reference Book from ASM International. This covers all commonly used and quite a number of odd special alloys including steel, tool steel, non ferrous and ceramics. You should also have a copy of Machinery's Handbook. Machinery's includes many metals but only the most common due to the space limitations of a general shop reference.

Aluminum has a numbering system much like steel but also like steels there are different systems. Most U.S. machinists know the AA (Aluminum Association) numbers. This starts with 1000 being pure aluminum which is found mostly as wire but occasionally as other products. It is difficult to machine due to gumminess. 2024 and 6061 are considered engineering or aircraft grades and 7074 is a hard high strength zinc alloy grade. It machines better than any other material. These numbers are almost always followed by a temper number T1, T3. . T6 which indicates the as-delivered hardness.

When cataloging metals (as well as speaking about them) you always give the authority that issued the number. SAE, AA, ASTM, AISI. . . For complete interchangability you should always use the UNS (Unified Numbering System) which incorporates ASE, ASTM and AISI numbers into one system with cross references.

AND most importantly, in any shop that does critical work material that is not identified with a permanent label or identifying mark (colors or stripes) is NOT a known alloy.
   - guru - Monday, 08/18/08 09:28:35 EDT

NOTE: Almost nobody speaks UNS numbers. . but if you are inventorying metals they should have this number because it helps with interchangeability.

My copy of Metals and Alloys in the Unified Numbering System Fifth Edition (1989) jointly published by ASTM and SAE was obtained from ASM International (AKA American Society for Metals).

   - guru - Monday, 08/18/08 09:36:10 EDT

I recently aquired a 300# chambersburg steam hammer that I want to convert to air. Any help would be appreciated

   mike andrews - Monday, 08/18/08 09:54:25 EDT

If you use steels from many countries, they all have their own numbering system and may not have the same exact chemistry as a similar US grade. One good reference that cross references them is: Stahschlussel: Key to Steel by Autoren C. Wegst (Turtleback - Jan 31, 2006). It is available from ASM or Amazon. Note, these are not cheap books. The newest editions may run up to $400.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/18/08 10:14:02 EDT

Only thing to add is that we all appreciate the men and women in the forces. Any help any of us can give goes without saying.
   philip in china - Monday, 08/18/08 10:37:27 EDT

i certsainly appriciate the responses!! this site has never let me down. i will take the information gathered and put it to good use. i thank you all very much for your input.
   matt - Monday, 08/18/08 10:51:21 EDT

Steam to Air conversion: Mike, At one time Cburg had different rings for running on air but most conversions are made without. The important thing is to be sure the lubricator works (or that the hammer has one). These were often attached to the control linkage on the left side of the hammer.

The only other differences I can think of is that if you replace packing on the main drive rod or control valves you may want to use a packing rated for air rather than steam.
   - guru - Monday, 08/18/08 11:13:46 EDT

The double-bowed tongs sound like raku tongs, used by potters for pulling pots out of the sawdust fire.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/18/08 12:14:30 EDT

Thank you. I am putting a lubricator on it and will repack if necessary. I'm not sure if it has teflon or graphite packing yet. I also want to build a treadle for it as I'm often by myself in the shop. Do you have any pictures I can copy for a design?
   mike andrews - Monday, 08/18/08 12:32:11 EDT

Mike, no details. Many of these machines have a boss or stud where the control goes. Cburg used a peddle on one side of their utility hammers. IT was quite high and hard to use.

Is your hammer a two piece or one piece (utility) hammer?
   - guru - Monday, 08/18/08 12:48:03 EDT

looks like SOFA has the Quad-State registration form available from their website now too.

Navigate anvilfire => ABANA chapter.com => SOFA

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/18/08 13:06:58 EDT

Smithing aprons: for many years I used a wraparound leather miniskirt as a smithing apron worked a treat!

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/18/08 13:10:47 EDT

It is a one piece that came off an old Liberty ship when they scrapped them. It hasn't been used for over 20 years but is still in excellent condition. no corrosion or pitting on the rod
   mike andrews - Monday, 08/18/08 13:14:23 EDT

file into knife:

i remember reading about in the "old days" a lot of smiths and machinists took old files and made them into good knives. the files im sure were a great choice because the steel was good and it was allready in the form of a rectangular billet.

im looking at making myself a new knife out of the same stock, the issue is that due to my living in the enlisted quarters of the marine corps i dont really have acess to a forge, however i CAN use the machine tools in the auto hobby shop.

the issue is that the file i have is a file with the tang broken off but the filing is still pretty much new. will that cause damage to the tools if i try to cut and grind a blade out of the file? would you suggest wearing down the filing first?
   isaac johnson - Monday, 08/18/08 13:46:08 EDT

I am interested in detailed drawing for Ray Clontz's rubber tire power hammer.I will pay for the drawings,I am interested in making my own hammer.I saw the hammer on this web site .Thank you
   Carl Olsson - Monday, 08/18/08 14:14:31 EDT

Knife from file: Isaac, Files are made to be as hard as possible and thus are very brittle and break easily.

In all heat treated steel you must find a balance between hard and brittle or soft and ductile. To adjust the hardness you heat the steel in the range of 350°F and 1,000°F depending on the type of steel and hardness wanted. The hotter you heat the steel the softer it becomes. This is called "tempering" and is done after hardening. In the case of a file it has already been hardened to the maximum, all you would need to do is temper it IF you do not overheat it while working. Tempering can be done with a propane torch, stove top or oven.

It would be safest to temper the file prior to shaping, perhaps after grinding off all the teeth.

Files being as hard as the steel can get cannot be cut with other edged tools (saws, files, drills). If you need to use one of these processes the file needs to be annealed (heated to the transition point of about 1400°F and then cooled very slowly. Cooling is often done in an oven or by burying the hot part in an insulating medium such as wood ash, lime or vermiculite. Some tool steels and air hardening steels must be cooled in a controlled temperature oven to be slow enough. Rates vary from 20 to 50°F/hour until the part is below 1300°F.

SO, that is why knives from files are made by grinding. The maklers do not need to heat treat the blade. They also often used the original tang as the end of the knife's tang because it was already soft.

Making a blade by removing all the excess material from the bar is called the "stock removal method". This can be done from soft annealed billets that can be sawn, drilled, machined and filed OR from something like a file which can only be ground.

After grinding you can polish the blade by starting with relatively coarse wet-or-dry sand paper (180 grit) and then progressing to finer and finer grits (180, 320, 600). I have never seen any point of going beyond 600 grit unless you are going to hand polish without power and even then I would only go one more step to about 1000 grit. Depending on the grinding and polishing equipment available you may skip some steps. However, getting in a hurry leads to much more work OR poorly defined lines and rounded edges.

Bladesmiths that forge blades also do a LOT of grinding. In both forging and stock removal numerous belt and disk grinders are used. Very rarely are hard wheels used. The great advantage of belt grinders is that belts are relatively inexpensive and are easy to change. SO you start with the coarsest most aggressive belt and then progress through a series of finer grits until it is time to hand work the blade. Skilled knife grinders often go directly from the grinder directly to polishing.

Polishing with powered wheels is done using black (emery) compound to start and brown (Tripoli) compound to finish or "color". To polish by hand you use Dupont orange auto rubbing compound keeping it wet to cut, letting it dry to polish and using the last dust in the polishing rag to color.

The goal when hand crafting a blade is to have crisp fine straight ridge lines and corners. If you skip steps the lines round and become blurred and often you end with polished scratches. At each step you should see absolutely no marks from the previous steps. If there is a file cut or heavy grinding dip it MUST be completely removed by the next process. This is why you want to go through the stages.

Good luck with your project. I would recommend that you fine several files to work with
   - guru - Monday, 08/18/08 16:04:14 EDT

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