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

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

This is an archive of posts from August 22 - 31, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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What Jeff (ptree) said is absolutely on the money. Semi-=precious stones such as turquoise, jade, lapis lazuli, tec, are generally cabochon cut ( a shallow dome profile) and set in a bezel. The bezel material is generally soft, either fine silver or high-karat gold, so that when burnishing the bezel closed you don't need to exert so much force that a slip witht he burnishing tool will fracture the stone. Southwest Native American silversmiths traditionally used a bit of tobacco as the buffer under their turquoise, by the way.

Faceted stones, again as Jeff noted, need light from all sides to properly refract. Thus, they are generally set in prongs above the backing or in recessed holes, anything that allows the back of the stone to be kept clean. A perfectly cut stone *shouldn't* need any light from the rear to have full refraction/reflection, but few are perfectly cut and therefore benefit from light entering the rear as well as the front. Stepped bezels as Jeff described often have relief cutouts in them to allow for cleaning and/or light entry, and the top edge is often "serrated" with a file to minimize the amount of the stone that is occluded.

With big bucks stones I wholeheartedly second what Jeff's mentor said - let the guy who does it seventeen times a day for a living do your stone setting.

Real jewelers, silversmiths and craftsmen frown upon the use of glue to "set" stones. There is an art and a skill to proper stone-setting and it is worth learning if you want to work with the sparklies. The only stones I know that are customarily set with glue are rhinestones on fairy princess tiaras. :-)

Setting a stone into the pommel of a knife is placing it in a highly vulnerable position and I would suggest giving some thought to designing a mount that offers the stone some protection from direct impact. Perhaps a recess with countersunk facets to reflect light into the stone, or heavy high prongs to act as a buffer, or something similar. If the knife is dropped, as we all know who have ever tried to catch one, the sharp part will inevitably turn up and the pommel will hit the deck first. Unless, that is, someone who has never heard the old adage that "a falling knife has no handle" actually tries to catch it; in that event, it will just as likely land in a pool of freshly spilt blood.
   vicopper - Friday, 08/22/08 00:08:13 EDT

Catalogs: Tom H. is right and this is something I do not mention often enough but the FIRST thing you do when setting up an engineering office or many other types of businesses is to establish a catalog LIBRARY. Shelving required. . .

While some catalogs and stock lists are fairly lean others are complete engineering references for the products. GOOD manufacturer's do not hide behind ideas about "proprietary data" and spill it ALL.

There are many sources for catalogs. Start with local suppliers. Often a general industrial supplier will have manufacturer's catalogs for redistribution and will load you up. Then look for on-line suppliers that offer print catalogs. The best source is engineering or trade magazines that have the mail in reply cards. Penton publications is one of the largest in this area. They publish New Equipment Digest and many other technical magazines. These magazines are often FREE if you apply for them and indicate you are a buyer OR engineering office librarian. Occasionally you can find these in libraries (or reception areas of local businesses) but you have to be an early bird to get a reply card.

Used book dealers often have old catalogs as well as more recent. While these catalogs may be out of date they are often still great sources of information. Old tool and hardware catalogs are collectors items and very pricey while more recent product catalogs are not as expensive.

Note that MANY companies only print and distribute catalogs once a year. Sometimes catalogs are immediately available, other times you are just put on the list. . . But you should get on that list.

Much of the information in AISC, ASM references and Machinery's Handbook has been gleaned from manufacturer's catalogs and product fliers over the years. Occasionally the data is more complete being from numerous resources and cross referenced but sometimes it is not nearly as complete as the manufacturer provided. Generally the published references are better and more complete and often THEY are quoted by some manufacturers and distributors. But the really GOOD catalogs cannot be beat.

Some of the best catalogs are no longer available because they were too expensive or thought to be TOO good. . In the 1960's Timken bearings published a fantastic bearing catalog and reference set. One book was an engineering reference. The other was loose leaf and had all their bearings drawn full scale and half scale for tracing into one's design. Each bearing page had the bearing dimensions and load specs, k factors as well as an RPM load/life chart. This is a fantastic resource and collectors item. Today they want you to ASK them to specify the bearings for you (at a cost) and their catalogs use generic bearing images that do not show the vastly different proportions of some of the bearings. . . The old 1960 reference is still 100% applicable and is used by the Timken applications engineers that have them.

Many old industrial suppliers printed fine hard bound catalogs and a few still do. Some were leather bound (See Swage Block Catalog Gallery and other just heavy paper. But most were well made and either reproduced manufacturer's information in total OR was tabulated.

Omega Engineering still publishes a hard bound set of temperature measurement books that are both catalog and engineering reference. A great deal if you need them.

THEN there is the catalog of catalogs the HUGE Thomas Register or ThomCat. In print this is a green, 10 foot long encyclopedic collection business listings and catalog inserts. In some business situations it is an absolute necessity. There are still thousands of businesses that are not on the web and THIS is the place they are found. Thomas Register is also now on-line. If you want to be listed in this huge reference you must pay. The print set is pricey by some standards, cheap by others and rapidly goes out of date (I scrapped my 1999 copy). This is also a source of information to request OTHER catalogs. Libraries often have a copy of Thomas Register.

Today many companies have switched to on-line PDF catalogs. If you find one you really like it pays to save it on your local PC as many companies are still wishy-washy about their web presence and often ignorant about their site construction and resources.

Other companies such as the great McMaster-Carr still publish a print catalog AND have a PDF version as well as a PDF on-line catalog order system. Print copies of the thick yellow McMaster-Carr catalogs are available on request but often are not available. Regular customers get copies sent as they are printed but other folks have a hard time getting them. I've spent maybe $10,000 with them in the last year but have not gotten a catalog. . .

SO, do not overlook this often FREE resource when building your library.

[add to FAQs]
   - guru - Friday, 08/22/08 09:37:07 EDT

I find the McMaster-Carr ONLINE catalogue an invaluable tool in Mechainical Design! I can not only find stuff more quickly online, and info about the applications of many of their products; but I can download solid models of about 50% of their products! Gave my hard catalogue away a couple of years ago.

Other companies are sadly lacking in this respect. McMaster has spoilt me!
   Dave Leppo - Friday, 08/22/08 10:17:56 EDT

And here I fished a new copy of the McMaster-Carr catalog still shrink wrapped out of the trashcan by our mailroom; guess they guy who got it didn't want it. If it was steel it would make a dandy anvil!

Catalogs are particularly useful when you are 100 miles from the nearest industrial supply co and need to *know* what you want before calling or visiting.

One other type of catalog useful to smiths that hasn't been mentioned, Auction Catalogs. High end auction catalogs, like Christie's or Sotheby's, provide clear clean pictures of items like swords, armour, furniture with dating info, etc. *And* they are often *NOT* the half dozen or so pieces that turn up in every book on the subject. Not being the fancy museum examples they are often easier to reproduce by a modern smith.

Auction catalogs still seem to be quite cheap at used bookstores the problem being finding a store that has them; but several times I have visited a store that has been wiped clean of all arms and armour books only to discover several auction catalogs that were much better than the books as a resource and were a fraction of the price. (also check the foreign language sections; if you are buying it for the pictures it doesn't matter so much what the language is and online translators can deal with captions fairly well.)

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/22/08 11:10:22 EDT

The ONLY down side I have found with McMaster-Carr is they do not sell "brands". They may have a picture of what LOOKS like a Starrette dial indicator but what you may get is some unknown low quality import. I think they DO sell Starrette and are specific about it but many other things they do not.

I needed punches for a Whitney hand punch and called the factory. . . not theirs they said. . finally one of their folks told me it was the OTHER Whitney (in the same town) and to call them. They did not deal with the public but told me to order from McMaster-Carr. I said McMaster-Carr did not list them as their brand, are you SURE? Yes, we are sure they said. . . So I bought brand specific parts that were not identified as a specific brand by McMaster-Carr. They were right and fit. . but not stating the brand made me do a lot of work.

Manufacturer supplied CAD drawings are GREAT when they are good. Just copy and drop into yours. . . But when folks started this process standards were changing too fast AND they often hired students with no experience to make drawings. . . They were a disaster for many years. New drawings are better but are still often lacking.
   - guru - Friday, 08/22/08 12:35:49 EDT

That "brand" thing is why I like the MSC catalog over McMaster. They state the brand AND country of origin on all their stuff. Something like a dial indicator you can get in a $15 no-name import, a $275 Mitotoyu, or a $350 Starrett, all listed on the same page of the Tome. McMaster has more stuff, and different stuff, but I like to know who made what.
   Alan-L - Friday, 08/22/08 12:48:16 EDT

I've had good luck with MSC over the years, friendly clerks, fast tech support, speedy delivery, good return policy. Caveat emptor Dept.: With Enco, you must read the fine print. Surprise, surprise.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 08/22/08 14:59:03 EDT

I've been forging some 300 series stainless flat bars, and I've wondering what the proper procedure is for Acid Passivation of the cleaned part after forging. I want to get rid of the scale and get back to a bright, or at least grey, finish. I've been using mechanical brushing and Muriatic acid to get things cleaned up. This is to make towel bars, soap dishes, etc, to match the finish on the new faucet.

From Google searches, apparently there is a Nitric acid technique, and a Citric acid technique. The Citric acid sounds safer, especially if I can just use lemon juice.
   Dave Leppo - Friday, 08/22/08 15:11:22 EDT

ps: I've had some parts Rust already! Like the soap dish.
   Dave Leppo - Friday, 08/22/08 15:12:23 EDT

Brands: Back in the late 70's or early 80's Volvo was doing so well they couldn't keep up with making engines for their cars. So to increase capacity they bought engines from British Leland. . basically MGB 1800 engines. . . Well, these were lemons compared to the Volvo engines and all of a sudden Volvo's were haveing a rash of cam failures. . . the exact problem that low mileage MG's were having.

There were some REAL upset folks when they found out their expensive Volvo had a low reliability MG engine in them. . .

I like to know what I'm buying.
   - guru - Friday, 08/22/08 15:17:34 EDT

Guys(and gals), thanks for the advice, I think the brass/copper/bronze option ferrule would look wicked with the mother of pearl I'm (wishing/hoping) to install (so it looks good... please let it work!!) on the rest of the stick.
But as a new guy, and for the new guys and for everybody, let me make a quick testimonial.
**Testimonial Tag** I was playing with my ground-forge, like, maybe last week, bopping along and not even thinking. I got into that mindset of, hey, it's laying around, how about I throw it in the fire. So, in goes the railroad spike, in goes the old nails... okay, I'm fine. Hrmm, maybe I could make something with that big 9 inch galvanized washer. Into the fire. Now, I'm a bright boy, and I know in the back of my mind that zinc fumes from cooking off galvanisation is bad...bad. But I'm also the sort of stupid boy that says to himself, well, the forge may be upwind, but it's just a washer, what can a little zinc do?
So, later that night I started having weird flu-like symptoms. I'm pretty sure I inhaled too many fumes. It settled in my chest and I had a little cough for a couple days. This scared the *$%@! out of me. And it should you too. Zinc oxide poisoning can kill you. New guys, please read up on this. This isn't a 'don't run with scissors' piece of advice, it's the 'don't play with a loaded gun' sort. Sorry, I just needed to get that out.
   josh - Friday, 08/22/08 15:57:54 EDT

Patric Plesha - the graphite nodules in ductile iron casting are produced using magnesium &/or cerium - often an alloy of the 2 metals. Typically relatively small amounts of iron are treated at 1 time, for example a small 1000 lb ladle from a larger 25 ton furnace. You then have a short time period to pour the treated iron before the magnesium and cerium react with oxygen enough to loose the nodularity effect, at which point you're no longer producing ductile iron but either a product between ductile and gray iron or gray iron. For a 1000 lb ladle the pour time allowed was 10 minutes.

For catalog information on steel, I've had good luck downloading pdf files from both AK Steel and Crucible - AK primarily stainless grades and Crucible primarily tool steels.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 08/22/08 16:00:47 EDT

guru< I am setting up shop and need to know how large of a pipe I need to run from a hood over my forge ? My shop is 12'x 24' with 8'ceilings. Do I have to have a 10
   - jamie - Friday, 08/22/08 16:30:10 EDT

I am setting up shop in a 12'x 24' shop ceilings are 8' will I have to exhaust my forge through a 10' pipe??
   - jamie - Friday, 08/22/08 16:32:05 EDT

Dave look into electro-polishing of stainless.

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/22/08 16:36:29 EDT

Josh, I'll agree with you on that one, you were stupid.
You willingly did something that you knew could potentially kill you and you did it anyway.
Navigate to the iForge area and read the first three or so postings on zinc poisoning to get an idea how some of the people here might feel on the matter.
Don't be suprized if you get a few more toung lashings from here.
I don't know what you have for a forge but, get it and the flu completely cleaned out befor you put a fire in it again.
   - merl - Friday, 08/22/08 18:40:50 EDT

300 Series Stainless is austenitic and is high chromium and high nickel. If you did not use the L version of the grade in question (L standing for low carbon) you depleted the chromium by heating it hot enough to form chromium carbides. The stainless quality of the steel relies upon the chromium oxide formed at the surface of the steel to protect it from further oxidation. Surface passivation will not cure this. YOu must dissolve the carbides and release the chromium. Heat the parts to 1800F-2000F and water quench them. This will dissolve the Chromium Carbides and prevent their re-precipitating. And use the L version next time. It does not require subsequent heat treatment.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 08/22/08 19:10:39 EDT

Dave Leppo - check out this site: http://www.outokumpu.com/applications/upload/pubs_113142858.pdf
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 08/22/08 21:20:50 EDT

rust removal-- This might work with stainless-- I came across an item some years ago on the British Horological Institute website by one Alan Timmins, F.B.H.I.
Senior Instructor (Clocks) B.H.I. Upton Hall, UK. Mr. Timmins suggested boiling a half-liter of water and putting four or five bags of tea into it, letting it cool for 10 minutes, then removing the tea bags and inserting the rusty item. I just now tried this with a small mechinist's square I bought despite its having a thin coating of rust. After five hours in the tea, voila! Almost as good as new, and no pitting. Timmins thinks it is the gentle action of the tannic acid that does the trick. With stainless, beware you do not contaminate it with any ferrous, such as wire tips from a wire brush, or you'll have rust freckles forever from the imbedded wires.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 08/22/08 21:44:21 EDT

Correction-- Timmins said he was told it is the tannic acid that is doing the work but cannot vouch for that. Whatever is doing the job, it works. And with none of the ghastly acne left by Naval Jelly and other more powerful de-oxidants.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 08/22/08 21:47:12 EDT

Almost forgot: Best of all, the tea forms a protective coating that prevents rust from re-forming, says Timmins.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 08/22/08 21:49:26 EDT


A year or so ago, McMaster-Carr arbitrarily decided that they would no longer ship to the Virgin Islands, or even to my freight forwarder in Miami, so I terminated any further dealings with them. I turned to MSC instead, and it was the best thing I ever did! Their selection is about double that of McMaster, everything is identified and country of origin specified as Alan noted. Best of all, their online catalogue, once you learn its quirks, is easy to deal with and they send you a printed catalogue that is outstanding. Big enough that I use my puny little McMaster catalogue as a place holder when browsing the MSC catalogue. A wealth of information on every single page.

Also as previously noted, MSC is terrific to deal with - knowledgeable telephone people, speedy delivery, no guff about sending things to me by US Mail, and they just keep on improving. Just recently, MSC bought J&L Industrial Supply, (another great company I've dealt with for years), and set things up so I only need one account number and everything works like a well-oiled watch. What a joy compared to the arbitrary and uneven service I got with McMaster in the past few years.

I had to get a hand-me-down McMaster catalogue a couple years ago because I never could get them to send me a new catalogue. Yet MSC sent that humongous thing that cost them over twenty bucks to send Priority Mail, and without a whimper or a question. I can't say enough good things about them.
   vicopper - Friday, 08/22/08 22:23:45 EDT

Dave Leppo,

What Quenchcrack said - solution annealing at temp for just long enough to penetrate the thickness you're working with and then quench in water. After that, you can passivate the surface with a 20% citric acid solution in water at about 145 degrees for an hour or more. The nitric/phosphoric solution is quicker, but has more hazards and toxic waste.

Electropolishing, if available in your area, is a great way to go as it both passivates and polishes the surface, resulting is a very bright finish. I've done a few experiments trying to come up with a decent hobby shop method of electropolishing, but no luck so far. The places that do it are pretty close-mouthed about their methods and the places that sell the solutions only want to sell you complete systems for a quarter of a mil and up.

For simple rust removal, a product called EvapORust from Theruststore.com is a chelating agent that removes rust without etching the metal and is non-toxic and not a haz-mat so it can be shipped easily and cheaply. Works like a dream, too.
   vicopper - Friday, 08/22/08 22:33:49 EDT

Forge Stack Sizes: Jamie, Everything depends on the forge size. . . You could run 4" (100 mm) pipe for a little jeweler's forge. 12" (305 mm ) is recommended for big forges but 10" (254 mm) will do if the run doesn't have too may bends, you are using a side draft hood (see our plans page) AND you have a turbine or low loss stack cap. If you use an overhead hood then you need a very large stack (16 to 20") or forced ventilation.

8" is guaranteed not to work and fill your shop with smoke.
   - guru - Friday, 08/22/08 23:10:23 EDT

Off to the Kayne's in the AM Saturday to see the demos.
   - guru - Friday, 08/22/08 23:11:17 EDT

If I order something from MSC before I go to bed, it'll be waiting on my doorstep when I get home from work the next day. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but that amazes me every time.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/23/08 07:08:27 EDT

Guru, I am making some shelves out of 16 gauge steel. with framing of 2"x 1/2" x 1/8" channel. The shelf is made of varying sizes of compartments from maybe 12" x12" to 24x48---all 8" deep. These box-compartments have all their seams welded because I did not want the look of some bent on a brake and some welded (and did not want to grind all the welds either.) I still am going to weld the outside edges of the "boxes" to the frame. The 16 gauge is not staying very flat and I would like to see if I can do something about it. Ideally I can learn to control the plane using heat and cooling. I remember using a torch on a plate on a ship deck to heat a spot about 1" diameter and then pour water on it. I think to make bumps go down (or maybe to raise sunken spots, I don't remember anymore) I can, at this point, access both sides of the boxes so I wonder if I can find the technique to modify the planes reliably. I have a book about automotive sheet metal and they have a part about stretching and shrinking but the shrinking seems to be done with a machine. I am guessing that my shelf needs shrinking to flatten the planes. I lot of what they do in the book is hammer and dolly work but I am not sure that that is the way to work on my situation, because I think that may be stretching the material and making it more out of plane. Any advice would be much appreciated.
   - brian kennedy - Saturday, 08/23/08 11:12:09 EDT

I use a commercial electropolishing company to treat my stainless steel after forging, but I touch up welds on site with a small electropolisher that is basically a 40 volt dc power supply, like a big battery charger.
I have recently switched from acid to a citric acid solution, and it works great with the electrical polisher- but the same company,
also makes pastes and liquids for direct passivation of stainless, without electricity. I have not used them, so I cannot vouch for their effectiveness, but the company seems to be straight shooters to me, and I would not hesitate to buy sample quantities from them.
   - ries - Saturday, 08/23/08 13:13:06 EDT

Anybody know where I might find some wrought iron? Need some 3X3/8 and maybe some 1/4X1/2 also. Is there any suppliers out there who can get some?
   hammerman947 - Saturday, 08/23/08 20:49:18 EDT

Hi, Y'all! I haven't been around this neck of the woods for a while. I'm sitting here at my daughter's 'puter, in the foothills of Sandia Peak, on the high side of Albuquerque. Had a nice lunch and jawbone session with our esteemed Professor, Dr. Miles Undercut, during which we did nothing whatsoever to resolve the lamentable state of the planet and its occupants. It's always good to see the Southwestern contingent; Miles, Frank, Thomas (on rare occasions) and especially, our lovely and talented Miz Ellen, who has everything a man could want. (viz, a Beemercycle,a humungous shop, flypress, an authentic Scandanavian metal masher ala J. Larson, a front end loader, talent by the ton, and a most admirable work ethic. On top of all that, my wife likes her, too. (Too bad she couldn't make it to lunch today.)
   3dogs - Saturday, 08/23/08 21:27:23 EDT

hey everyone I would like to know why hasnt there been a new iforge how to in 3years
   - cade - Saturday, 08/23/08 22:38:59 EDT

Well, we did establish that even the wiliest burritos, the fiercest enchiladas, and the most ferocious sopapaillas are no match for a couple of determined, two-fisted, red-blooded smiths fighting back to back for truth, justice and the American way....
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 08/23/08 22:53:37 EDT

Truth to tell, I admit, those tamales did give us a bit of trouble and it was touch and go there for a while, but in the end, we proved once again that courage, steadfast determination and 3dogs's credit card will conquer the most fearsome adversary....
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 08/23/08 22:57:53 EDT

RE: shock absorbers, drag racers use a 90-10 shock on the front, allows the front to come up quick and go down slow. IN a drag car this helps in weight transfer. On a power hammer it may prevent shock pump up and solve you full power hit problem??? I think that the hammer with the dual vertical springs looks like it would work well. Maybe a single automotive coil spring???
   Jon - Saturday, 08/23/08 23:49:54 EDT

I read an article in a wood working magazine a few years ago about cleaning the rust off of old tools by a reverse electro plating set up. some one more knowledgeable about electro plating could probably fill in the details but it sounded interesting.
   Steven Johnson - Sunday, 08/24/08 02:25:16 EDT


I'm probabaly much less qualified to answer your question than many reading this, but I have used the heat-and-shrink technique successfully to flatten flat surfaces. As I understand it, when you heat a small spot, that spot wants to expand, but the cooler metal around it won't let it. In effect, the heated spot is being squeezed, and once it hits forging temperature, it upsets itself smaller and thicker. In my limited experience, I've found it helpful to tap the spot back level with the surroundings while it's at forging tempertaure, just like it helps to keep a bar straight as you're trying to upset it.

The real trick is figuring out where you need to shrink. In my case, I was making flanges to hold round flexible duct, and the flange plate distorted when I welded the tube stub into the hole in the center. I figured out that the weld had shrunk the metal surrounding the hole, which then didn't want to be in the same plane as the outside of the flange plate. I shrunk a series of spots around the perimeter of the plate. This equalized things enough that it returned to flat (more or less).

You'd have to figure out how this applies to your boxes.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 08/24/08 06:35:16 EDT

Rust removal:
I soak things in the strongest cheapest white vinegar that I can find for a few minutes to overnight and then give them a scrub with a toothbrush and baking soda with water.
Works really well for my vintage bottle openers while leaving the advertisements legible too.Leaves behind a black surface coating that is somewhat resistant to rust but can be polished off if so desired. This is the same result that I have gotten from some of the high dollar automotive rust removers at a fraction of the price. It is really just the acid reacting with the rust and leaving behind zinc oxide if I am not mistaken. My chemistry is a littly rusty itself. Your results may vary so you'll have to figure out how much time to soak the parts for.
   Robert Cutting - Sunday, 08/24/08 08:58:25 EDT

EC-JYH Shocks: It is just a very inefficient system that fails at a moderate speed of operation. Nope a coil spring does not work here either.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/24/08 09:14:59 EDT

Wrought Bar in sizes: There is none to be had in any size in the U.S. In Great Britain the Real Wrought Iron company recycles old wrought and makes new bar from it. Sizes are limited.

In the U.S. You can purchase European made Pure Iron which is close to wrought from the Wagner group. However, sizes are limited here as well. The supplier prior to Wagner go stuck with 10 tons of 1/4" round bar. . . When he contacted me he wanted top dollar for the entire 10 tons. I told him "good luck". I suspect it went to scrap.

A number of years ago a fellow was distributing pure iron made in the U.S. He had to have the entire billet (10 tons) rolled into SOMETHING. So he had it rolled into 1/4" plate. Then had the plate sheared into various widths from square up to 2" (I think). A terrible twisted up mess that he had to hand straighten. Lots of sizes but no more than 1/4" in one dimension. He died before distributing much of it and I do not know what happened to the material. I asked the heirs to stay in touch but I never heard back.

IF you find wrought in any dimension it will be priced like tool steel. If you need specific sizes, particularly odd rectangles you are going to need to be able to process the material yourself.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/24/08 09:32:31 EDT

Brian, a few sheetmetal tips. Like Mike BR said, when you heat a spot it will expand in thickness, then contract latteraly. Unfortunately, once you are at this point, you are already in trouble. Far better to prevent the problem than try to fix it. 16 ga. is pretty thin for a continuos weld. Use just enough weld to hold it together. Method of welding also has a big bearing on this. In order of most heat input to least, Torch welding/brazing, Tig welding, Stick welding, Mig welding, Spot welding. I asume you used Mig. If you must weld a continuous seam, hammer the edge to be welded cold, before welding. This will stretch the edge to compensate for the shrinkage caused by welding. Better than this, is to bend as many seems as possible, Even bending a small flange or a hem if you don't have room for a flange, at the area where you will be joining by welding. There is nothing wrong with combining welding with bending. The bends stiffen the metal, helping to prevent distortion. If the boxes are still loose, this would be a good opertunity to practice the hammer and dolly work described in the automotive sheetmetal book. If you are going to try heat shrinking, use a small welding tip in your torch or you may make matters worse. Unless this shelf is for a customer, I would just finish it, paint it and fill it with stuff. Next time use thicker metal if you want to weld the entire seem. 11ga. if you can afford it,or 14ga, and still use caution.
   John Christiansen - Sunday, 08/24/08 09:41:57 EDT

Thanks Mike and John,
That's very illuminating/helpful about what is happening with sheet metal. Going with thicker metal was not possible in this case because of overall weight limits. It is a good situation to practice for sure.
   - brian kennedy - Sunday, 08/24/08 10:25:34 EDT

Steven Johnson re: Rust Removal
google 'rust removal battery charger.'
Lots of info.
   - Tom H - Sunday, 08/24/08 11:54:30 EDT

Wrought I.- About a year ago someone was selling a bunch of 1"x1"x6' bars in the Hammer's Blow. They might all be gone now but if you are really stuck for (or on) wrought iron it might be worth a look thru the back issues.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 08/24/08 13:25:51 EDT

Wrought Iron: Good used or scrap wrought is still out there but is not cheap or easy to find. A few folks have bought old WI bridges and brought them home to sell piecemeal. The problem is that you start with nice 1.25" tension bars, then the big flat 3/4" by 4" tension bars, then the riveted structurals. . . Very little of it is easily usable unless you are prepared to forge or roll new shapes. Also, once down to the ugly pieces the seller has a more costly job of cutting pieces to sell.

Structurals that are made of riveted flats and angle are cut into short lengths, piled, heated and then forged welded into a compact mass which is then rolled or drawn out. Rolling is much more efficient use of the welding heat as the billet can go directly from the hammer or press to the rolls. But we are talking big time rolls. . .

Wrought is often found in more manageable pieces such as old fencing and such. Once in a very great while someone comes upon a treasure trove of bar stock. However, unless it is a smith finding it the old rusted iron usually goes to scrap. . .

Since there is no new wrought being made the old stuff is becoming more and more valuable. I have a huge 18th century fireplace crane that should be a valuable antique but like old jewelery and gold sculpture may become more valuable for its material than its intrinsic or historical value. More so for the heavy lintel bar that came with it. I save it because it has the rough rounded chalcony end directly from the bloomery. A historical piece but also a FINE piece of wrought that belongs in a museum. But where?
   - guru - Sunday, 08/24/08 16:52:56 EDT

I was moving stuff around the front shop today and was reminded that I have two large scroll brackets made to hold up a balcony (4'x6' o.d.) that are very nicely forged from wrought iron bar stock that started as about 1-1/2"x2-1/2" before tapering. Really too nicely done to re-forge into something else, but fortunately I have other heavy wrought bar from old teamster's wagon axles I can use. One of the few benefits of living in a place that has a fair omount of old iron and only one working smith is that people tend to ask me if I want to remove the stuff for them. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 08/25/08 00:17:32 EDT

Thanksm Gurus, fot the Stainless tips.

I have a couple of pieces of Wrought Iron. What should I be reserving / saving it for? I was going to make some anvil tools, but I realized that it's not the best application of material, and it would be better used elsewhere, but where?
   - Dave Leppo - Monday, 08/25/08 06:48:07 EDT

Uses for Wrought:

Signed and dated reproductions (not fakes).

Repairs of antiques, especially those of museum quality.

Artistic work especially where etching to bring out grain.

Artistic work where the softness is needed. Carving is much easier in good wrought but more difficult in poor due to the grain.

Laminations in high art Damascus.

All the above and anywhere else you let the customer know the material is almost priceless. Actual prices vary between $2/pound and 5$/pound (3E/kg - 7E/kg) IF you can find it AND noting that available sizes are limited (probably never what you need). Really scroungy scrap wrought (covered with paint, flame cut) runs about half these prices but as scrap of all kinds goes up so does wrought.

In most cases you can do anything in mild steel as you can in wrought for much lower cost. Also note that wrought fences and rails sag a great deal compared to steel and will bend easily under load (climbers). There are also special design precautions in wrought having to due with grain.
   - guru - Monday, 08/25/08 09:23:44 EDT

Hi again!

It's been a while since I have been on the site and am very happy to see everyone still sharing their experience and expertise. I have what I hope is a simple problem to solve but one that I have no experience with.

My slack tub is a half whiskey barrel which I have used for the past 3 years. I noticed late last fall that the slats were starting to leak a bit near the top. I haven't been in my building all summer until this past weekend when I noticed the slats are starting to separate causing all the water to drain out. I was wondering if there was a way I could re-seal the slats? The gaps aren't that bad. Maybe some tar or something...? I would like to preserve it if possible but I'm not opposed to switching to a metal tub if I have to. I just like the look and feel the whiskey barrel gives my building.


   Rhordae - Monday, 08/25/08 11:08:40 EDT

One other aspect of spec'ing wrought iron is the quality level: Muck bar, Merchant bar, Singly refined, Doubly refined, Triply refined. This can make a big difference. I lucked onto 100+ feet of 1" round WI and had a knifemaking friend who asked for some, so I cut it in lengths to fit a priority mail box and set it to him only to find it was much too highly refined for him; he wanted the low grade coarse stuff for knife fittings.

If low grade will suit you then 3/8x3" might be found as wagon wheel tire; but will probably be worn and so not a true 3/8x3. 1/4 x 1/2 you will probably have to forge it from other sized stock.

My main use for real WI is in historical reproductions for when we're going really A-R.

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/25/08 11:36:58 EDT

Barrel Maintenance: Rhordae, Barrels require a certain degree of moisture to maintain their tightness. If partially full and left undisturbed long enough the dry portions will not be as swollen as the wet and gaps will appear. Barrels will also fall apart completely if left to dry.

In your case you may just need to refill the barrel a few times and leakage will stop. If water level has been very low and the hoops are loose turn it upside down and using a punch or piece of flat bar tighten them by driving toward the bout or large part of the barrel. Only move them enough to stay on.

Alternately, if the water has been low you may want to empty it, let it dry for a few days to equalize the moisture, then refill. You may also need to tighten the hoops a little.

A new barrel is like many new wooden boats and must be soaked to stop all the leaks. DO NOT use sealers as this will wreck the barrel.

Try to keep the water level fairly full (within a few inches of the top) and constant. There should be no significant leaks for years if this is done.
   - guru - Monday, 08/25/08 12:13:42 EDT

Wrought Grades: Japanese bladesmiths (or their suppliers) made beautiful carved work in highly refined wrought with good inlays. Very fine wrought was used.

I have a piece of 1" square wrought about three feet long that appears to have been a student of apprentice project bar as it is made of dozens of short pieces that are welded together. All that internal grain distortion should make it good for SOMETHING but I am not sure what. .

Producing work from wrought makes a power hammer almost an absolute necessity. Stacking and making a large billet which can then be drawn out to size is about the only way to get specific sized stock. Then you can produce square, rectangular, round, half round, moulding. . .

AND something I hate to mention but is an economical source of wrought, is old anvils. An old beat to pieces English anvil with little working value may sell for less than its value per pound as wrought. Many were poor quality wrought but by the time they are drawn into bar it would be better material. Again, this is a job for a fairly good sized power hammer.
   - guru - Monday, 08/25/08 12:30:12 EDT

Excellent Guru, thanks!

I am excited to report I finally bought a 'real' anvil! It's 100-110lbs, in great shape (London Style) for $325 and has a beautiful ring. I feel bad about my 150lb that I attempted to repair by trying to braze a 1 3/4" piece of flat spring to it. Only the rear took and I ended up just welding the rest on. It worked for a few months but now it's as dead as it can get. No ring, just thud. I think I will grind the plate back off along with the weld, paint it black and make a yard ornament out of it. Unless I can find a buyer for it, not that I'll get much out of it.
   Rhordae - Monday, 08/25/08 12:55:33 EDT

One Other Use for Real Wrought Iron:

Experimental archeology; trying to reproduce the artifacts using the proper material, but having to reinvent the method. Just because it is different from modern mild steel, the qualities of the wrought iron may have a large impact upon the methods used. It's frequently a series of frustrating failures, but every once in a while, it all comes together and you discover just how something was done.

If we could take a time machine to visit an early medieval forge, I suspect about 3/4 of the time, the smith would say: "Oh, that's no big deal; you just do this, and this, and this; and there you go!" The other 1/4 of the time he would say: "Oh, that! Ya, it takes a lot of time, and talent, and labor (which we have in abundance) but we do it because..."

"Yes; you do it because?"

And that is almost always the most important and least answered question; not the what, not the how, but the why.

Oh well, that's what keeps us off the streets and in the forge.

Sunny and only slightly muggy on the banks of the Potomac. Still with some lenghts of WI fence and the small stash of Thomas's water tank WI left over from my friend (the rest was stolen and scrapped while sitting on a trailer; but that's another story).

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 08/25/08 13:37:41 EDT

I can buy a 110lb peter wright but when holdinga straight edge over the face, i can slide a dime thru.the price is $350. can this face be re ground @ a machine shop and still be a good anvil ? Can anew steel face be welded onand not ruin the anvil?
   lawrence - Monday, 08/25/08 17:20:05 EDT

Lawrence, this is an absolutely perfect anvil. Anvils ARE NOT a surface plate. The slight sway actually makes it a better surface for straightening items.

The steel face on this anvil is only about 1/2" thick. Reducing the thickness removes the hardest part of the plate and may ruin the anvil. Lightly hand grinding the highest points can reduce the sway but you do not want to try to make it perfect. The face is forge welded on with a continuous weld. This cannot be replicated by modern methods.

Use it as is. Learn to forge and you will find that the surface shape is not as important as the skill of the smith.
   - guru - Monday, 08/25/08 17:30:10 EDT


   ART KUNSTMANN - Monday, 08/25/08 17:57:41 EDT

Lawrence; if you absolutely *must* have a machinest touch your anvil remember to warn him that the top and bottom are often *not* parallel. Proper method is to clamp the anvil face down and true the bottom to the top and then flip it and just kiss the top as lightly as possible. The tool steel face is like solid gold and many an anvil has been ruined by a machinest truing the top to the base and milling off most or all of the tool steel face in places.

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/25/08 18:11:22 EDT

Barrels-- definitely need to be kept filled so the staves will be properly swollen. Be sure to leave an escape ladder of some sort leaning up from inside for any poor mousies that fall in. A hideous way to die. AND-- beware West Nile-- do something about the mosquito wrigglers. Frequently!
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/25/08 18:25:02 EDT

A tight cover on a slack tub would cut evaporation greatly and keep the six- and four- (and maybe even two-) legged beasties out. I don't have to worry about my joint compound bucket drying out, but just dropping the plastic cover on discourages the mosquitos quite effectively. It also seems to help keep the water from freezing, but maybe the hot air wafting across the Potomac has more to do with that (grin).
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/25/08 18:38:27 EDT

Lawrence, I used to have a Peter Wright with a good 1/8 inch sway, and I sold it after getting a new-made German anvil with a dead flat face. I wish I still had the Peter Wright! If you think you need a dead flat face to do good work as a smith you are in the wrong hobby. Go buy a milling machine and become a hobby machinist, you'll be happier.

I like to work in the realm of "if it doesn't fit, whack it again." If you need .0001" accuracy, you will not be happy as a blacksmith.

If the above statements offend you, you will also not be happy as a blacksmith; we require tougher hides.
   Alan-L - Monday, 08/25/08 19:26:28 EDT


Try soaking the barrel by immersing it in a larger container (possibly a pond or something similar). That will soak it through and it should be water tight.
   philip in china - Monday, 08/25/08 19:27:17 EDT

old or brand new, and I have had both in recent times, filling oaken barrels once or twice causes the staves to swell up good and tight.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 08/25/08 20:20:55 EDT

Summers almost gone and I'm coming out of hybernation. I came up with this idea for a cheap English Wheel. It stipples flat stock well. If you make one, wire the trigger back and use the flow control knob as your on-off adjustment. Don't hang it next to your forge chimney and the sulfuric acid won't make it rust as it did mine!!


   Thumper - Monday, 08/25/08 20:31:04 EDT

I want to make a stand for my latest 280# baby. I know there are plenty of BPs for stands but my question is this. I will make 3 legs out of the heaviest box section I can find but how thick should the top plate be? I can get it profiled to the correct shape in effectively any thickness that I want. So do I go with the "as heavy as you can afford" adage the same as an anvil or is there an optimum size? This will be the one on which I will do any heavy upsetting as it has a block on which to do it.
   philip in china - Monday, 08/25/08 20:40:17 EDT

Barrel Shrinkage Solution. I once had a wooden hot tub at a house I rented that had between 1/8 and 1/4" gaps between the slats.....you're gonna love this solution the tub man gave me. Place a few inches of fine to medium sawdust at the bottom and slowly fill the tank. As the water leaks out, it draws the sawdust into the cracks slows the leaking and allows the wood to swell and become seamless once again. Continue to top it off till it stops leaking. Worked like a charm!!
   Thumper - Monday, 08/25/08 21:15:30 EDT

Phillip, I am not a fan of steel stands. However, for rigidity most of these have 3/4" (20mm) to 1-1/2" (40mm) top plates. But, with more welding, some ribs and such a 1/2" top plate is more than enough.

Due to import/export restrictions of wood products I am looking more into metal for some things that I much prefer wood. I much prefer wood for bench tops for everything except welding and using a torch. Wood is easy on tools, not noisy, absorbs oil rather than becoming slick and is easy to modify. I like the light weight and strength of a wood anvil stand.

One metal stand that is often overlooked is the steel container with sand, gravel or ash fill. These weigh a ton (figuratively) so they do not move, they dampen ring and allow adjusting the height and angle of the working face. If you do not like the loose fill a board cut to fit the container seals it and gives the same advantages. Attach the anvil to the board and it will not move side to side.
   - guru - Monday, 08/25/08 22:04:35 EDT

Heavy Stands. . . Don't forget to provide a place or places to lift with a fork lift, pallet jack, pry bar or hoist.
   - guru - Monday, 08/25/08 22:06:33 EDT

Art Kunstman, check the video at www.friendswoodbrooms.com
   brian kennedy - Monday, 08/25/08 22:09:07 EDT

I'm new to blacksmithing. Someone told me that coke could be made by sprinkling water on or around hot coal? The person didn't have details how to do it but saw it done at a fairground.
   Al - Monday, 08/25/08 22:19:04 EDT

Philip in China,

I'd go with a 1/2" plate as a minimum, and probably not ober 1-1/2" as a maximum. If you mount the anvil on silicone as I do, (so it doesn't deafen me with a nasty ring), then the mass of the stand is not coupled tightly enough to enhance resistance to hammer force. Therefore, any extra stand mass is just something that you have to fight when you want to move the thing. If you couple the anvil very tightly to the stand, then you may gain some effective mass and in that case I'd go for the maximum.

For really effective and *comfortable* upsetting of longer bar stock, get a hice hefty chunk of plate and set it on, or even in, the floor. A piece of 4" plate about a foot square is a tidy 165# and a sizeable enough target to be easy to hit. Much easier than using the ukpsetting step on the anvil, actually. If set flush with the floor, you won't even trip over it or stub your toe on it.
   vicopper - Monday, 08/25/08 22:22:57 EDT

Thanks for the advice on the stand. Also Vicopper thannk you for the idea of embedding an upsetting plate. I can get as many drops as I want at scrap prices so that will be useful for me.
   philip in china - Monday, 08/25/08 22:49:57 EDT

Philip: Hofi used to suggest 1 1/2" plate and 2 X 4 X 1/4" for the legs. A few years ago I asked Him about the plate thickness and He suggested 2". I used the 2" plate, but I did not cut it to the shape of the bottom of the anvil. I can use the surface of the plate between the anvil feet when upsetting longer stock. This is a real nice stand, 155# and the anvil is fastened with bolts & (2) lengths of angle iron.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/25/08 23:04:02 EDT

Slack Tub:
I happen to find a nice galvanized dunk tank of the kind used to check mounted tires and inner tubes for leaks. Fits neatly under the forge, holds around 15-20 gal of water and I can get longer parts in it with out it being too tall or too big around .

I'm with you Alan-L, the best part about blacksmithing for me is beeing able to make something to a "good enough" tolorence, or just by eye. I spend all day makeing parts to the 4th and 5th decimal place for customers who just don't get it when I say "I can make your parts cheap, fast and, accurate - Pick any two -
   - merl - Monday, 08/25/08 23:07:52 EDT

Coke from Coal: Al, water has nothing to do with making coke, it is simply there to help control the fire.

First, note that not all coal cokes well. Coking is a property of good blacksmithing coal.

Coal converts to coke simply by heating it to drive off the volatiles. In soft bituminous coal this process starts with the coal melting and becoming soft like ice creme. The volatiles gas out of the melting coal and burn leaving behind a hard porous mass of carbon. This is coke. Industrially it is done in the absence of air and the gases collected. In the forge it occurs outside of the hot core of the fire. As the fire burns it creates coke which is then pushed in toward the center of the fire.

The art of coal fire maintenance is learning how to make coke or not and when to add fresh coal instead of pushing coke. Through practice you learn the characteristics of the coal you have available and adjust your methods to it. This is all done while heating and forging your iron. Multitasking is a key ability to working with a solid fuel fire.
   - guru - Monday, 08/25/08 23:26:15 EDT

Thanks Tom H. I was trowing that out as an alterative method of removing rust. I will look it up then try it on a rusty nail first. I will post updates later in case any body is interested.
   Steven Johnson - Tuesday, 08/26/08 00:01:29 EDT

I make boxes out of 3/16 plate, fill with sand, cut a piece of plywood to fit down inside box a half-inch or so, set anvil atop that and wrap heavy straps across the feet and weld straps to box. This discourages visitors from taking my anvils home with them. You can make coke overnight by slathering some water-- not a lot, just enough to dampen-- over the coal around the fire at the end of the day. Watch you don't crack the forge. Beware methane collecting in the pipe from the blower to the tuyere. BOOM! Galvanized or wood or plastic, be sure to put an escape ramp, a stick or piece of steel, in the slake tub for thirsty critters to get out by.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 08/26/08 00:07:42 EDT

One of the bearing plates that go between the rail and the wooden tie on a RR track makes a great upsetting block. Portable, too. Easily moved out of the way.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 08/26/08 00:15:03 EDT

Is your favorite mixed drink the "Rusty Nail"?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 08/26/08 07:48:18 EDT

For demos I use a wooden icecream maker bucket as my mini-slack tub. I buy them used for a dollar or two at the fleamarket and out here I have to soak them a day or two before a demo to swell up. I also take off the mounting hardware and take a stranded piece of rope and un ravel the very ends and run them through the holes and tie them off to make a handle. Just like me---cheap, quick and dirty and someone else has already done most of the work! (innovative or creative too) Looks better than a 5 gallon plastic bucket and doesn't melt when hot steel hits it.

Anvil stands: I gave away a very heavy steel anvil stand as it was a pain to move and contributed to loud. I like a heavy anvil and a portable stand.

Miles; I generally try to kill off mice in the shop not run a swimming pool for their pleassure. The shop tree greatly appreciates the odd bucket of mouse&water when such things occur.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/26/08 10:49:25 EDT

Nippulini you are giving away how I got my name. :)
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 08/26/08 12:35:20 EDT

Nice. Speaking of booze, my concorde grape vine is ready for harvest and I'd like to build a small wine press. How would I put something like this together?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 08/26/08 15:27:47 EDT

Start with a large flypress (you needed another reason to buy one). Make an oak pressure platten to fit your old oak slack tub, set it on the press and. . . Please filter out the scale before fermenting!

The cheap and dirty method is a bucket and a lever device to apply the pressure. Can be all wood, no power screw needed.

Never pressed grapes. . . drink a lot of white zin.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/26/08 15:51:35 EDT

TGN, find a scrapped trash compactor from an upscale home and cannibalize that for the screw and fittings, (perhaps even motor!) Look at a nice model at the local brewing/winemaking shop and do the wood work yourself. BTW make the hoops out of stainless (actually any metal fittings out of stainless or cp Ti!)
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/26/08 17:55:00 EDT

Nipp, I have made several hundred gallons of wine. Mostly from concentrate. From concentrate it is easy to get excellent wine. From concord grapes hand pressed alot harder:)

Guru, I have only made a few batchs of ZIN. Wife and neighbors liked it. I am more of a cabernet guy. Now that I have made well in the 200 gallons range, 5 gallon batchs over a twenty year span. :)

I have not made any in a few years while I let the stock in the wine cellar (crawlspace under my supre insulated house) dwindles a bit. Last batch ran about $1.10/ bottle.
   ptree - Tuesday, 08/26/08 18:02:45 EDT

Thomas, Is the shop tree a spreading chestnut?
   philip in china - Tuesday, 08/26/08 19:37:57 EDT

Phillip in China, My shop tree is a Persimmon:) And yes I once tried to make wine from persimmons. BAD mistake:)
   ptree - Tuesday, 08/26/08 20:09:12 EDT

Thomas P-- But you kill them in a swift and humane manner, right? I mean you do not set out an attractive source of water in this arid biome into which they then fall but cannot get out, only to die of exhaustion and drowning, do you? That would seem to me to be totally out of character.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 08/26/08 20:53:48 EDT

Since I always consider my slack tub as a possible emergency medical cooling apparatus, I've gone to great lengths to avoid contamination by drowned rodents. The current one is a 44 gallon stainless steel crab cooker with a full, fitted lid. I make sure to keep the lid on when I'm not there. (Also, since there's no well near the forge, refilling it requires a lot of trips with a lot of buckets and Chlorox jugs.) Previous tubs have been less successful in this department. Besides, why drown them, when I have a healthy pair of blacksnakes cohabiting the forge? It's their job to dispose of the mice, at least during the warm months.

Cloudy and fixing to rain on the banks of the lower Potomac. New forge building now has all four walls, and I'm working on the front door: 44" X 86" X 2", studded with rose-headed nails and using 3' hinges from my great-great-grandfather's barn or stable.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 08/26/08 21:30:02 EDT

Picked up a wagon vise at a local auction ($3). This thing is complete, and the only apology is a 3/8 X 3/8 V chip out of the center of one jaw. Makes light hot work a little interesting. Some of the vise is forged, at least one piece was cast. Vise seems to be a "manufactured" piece. The jaw wont fit in my gasser, so i'm hoping one of y'all might know if the jaw would be steel or iron. I'm thinking weld would be the way to go. Thanks
   Gary - Wednesday, 08/27/08 10:06:36 EDT

Wagon Vise: Gary, all leg and blacksmith vices including wagon vices of similar pattern to leg vices are either wrought iron with a steel jaw face or all steel. Great Price!

Several years ago a sales lot of surplus U.S. Government equipment had a truck load of WWI-WWII Army wagon vices in it. Flooded the market for a while with NEW vices. These were all well made drop forgings (no cast parts). The die lines from the closed dies look like mold lines and can be confusing. If there ARE cast parts they will be ductile iron.

A simple weld repair should work. I would preheat to at least 350-400F since the steel is unknown and the jaws WERE hard enough to chip.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/27/08 10:40:14 EDT

The shop tree is a mesquite and with judicious trimming and the extra water from the Smithy roof it's heading upward! It's over 10' tall right now and on the west side of the smith y toward the end I use the most. I hang some of my bells on it to listen to them ring in high winds.

Phillip; I had a frield who used to tell the story of a fellow who made green persimmon wine, did it with malice aforethought to get back at a guy who was judging a wine making contest. One swig of it and the judge was unable to continue judging.

Miles; I don't usually have water left around in the shop; it gets hauled out on a per session basis and then goes to water the shop tree. The vinegar bucket is securely lidded. I mainly use no-footed, four-footed, and snap traps for mice---I don't like glue traps as I consider then inhumane.

It's about time to start setting the traps though as the season cools.

Vise: most of the ones I am familiar with are wrought iron or steel. IIRC Colombian did make some ductile cast vises---but I don't know if they made any wagon tongue vises that way. Great Price!

If you want to side step the issue, make some jaw covers from angle iron that fit snugly---forge then to fit and make tabs that bend around to hold them in place

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/27/08 10:45:24 EDT

Off subject but... Have friends in IN who make a LOT of wine. They build a cart. One side is a SS sink with a garbage disposal. Off end is the press. They run the fruit, etc. through the disposal with enough water for it to function properly, put an old pillow case in the press, pulp into it and squeeze.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/27/08 12:31:49 EDT

Guru, I'm afraid that I must beg to differ about "all" leg vices. My Fischer parallel jaw leg vice is cast iron with embedded steel jaws and leg. I think this is the same way they made their anvils.
   Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 08/27/08 14:00:46 EDT

Judson, I forgot about the Fisher, that is the exception. Great old vise.

I do not know if they are selling but old HD chipping vices are now asking higher prices in the range of what they are worth. I saw a big Prentiss last weekend that the fellow was asking $800 for. Leg vices at $150 are still a bargain.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/27/08 14:29:12 EDT

I'm trying to find a formula that will tell me how much of a certain size of rod it will take to make a larger dia. and flater finished piece. example 1" round bar stock at (?") long into apiece that's 5"dia. by 1/4" thick. Is there such a formula? Thanks for your help. Rick
   Rick - Wednesday, 08/27/08 14:56:31 EDT

Cylinder A to CylinderB: Rick, Its simple algebra based on equal volumes.

Using Spreadsheet or BASIC Math notation.

Given BarLenA and BarDiaA wanting BarLenB or BarDiaB.

BarDiaB = 2 * SQR(((PI * (BarDiaA/2)^2 * BarLenA) / BarLenB) / PI)

PI cancels so:

BarDiaB = 2 * SQR(((BarDiaA/2)^2 * BarLenA) / BarLenB)

For length, PI and division by 2 for radius cancels.

BarLenB = BarDiaA ^2 * BarLenA / BarDiaB ^2

So for your 1" bar to create a 5" round 1/4" thick it needs to be 6.25" long

5 ^2 * .25 / 1^2 = 6.25

Note that 1 is a special case where you can drop squaring it. However, if you do this and forget to square for other sizes the answer will be incorrect.

   - guru - Wednesday, 08/27/08 16:53:12 EDT

I have a belt grinder with a 3/4" diameter drive shaft hole in the drive wheel - I am retrofitting a motor with a 1/2 diameter drive shaft onto the grinder. Where can I get a bushing or spacer to concentrically adapt to 3/4" diameter? The drive wheel and drive shaft are both keyed... also, can I buy somewhere a new start capacitor for a 1 1/2 horse dayton tecf motor?
   vorpal - Wednesday, 08/27/08 17:45:52 EDT

Capacitors from Graingers listed under Start capacitors, and they are reasonable.
On the bushing, that will really be more of a slotted sleeve if the shaft is keyed. You will only have 1/8" on a side and unless the key is tiny it will go clean thru.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/27/08 17:53:34 EDT

Vorpal, Various wheels and disks come with bushings to do what you want. McMaster-Carr lists them WITH wheels but not separately. It would be easy to use a bronze bearing bushing for this purpose. Note that the flange washers for a large diameter wheel may not fit the small shaft OR the small shaft flange washers may not support the wheel properly. This is one of those places that a small shop lathe comes in handy.

Yep, Replacement capacitors are available. Check with a motor shop. McMaster-Carr also lists these. Note that the covers are not designed to be easily removable in many cases.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/27/08 18:04:18 EDT

Guru, your equations of how to determine the length of a 1" rod to make a 5" diameter pancake reminds me of one of the lab problems we addressed in my first mechanical metallurgy course. We had to determine how may blows from a 50 ton drop forge it would take to reduce a 4" x 4" steel cylinder to a 1/2" thick plate. The effect of friction between the dies and the workpiece and the amount of work hardening needed to be accounted for. It is simple enough if you can determine the numerically largest, princile, plastic logrithmic strain. I used to know all that stuff.......
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 08/27/08 18:52:40 EDT

Math: The trouble is in reducing formulae. Most engineering references have reduced equations such as above where area is calculated and in the end, being on both sides is not needed.

In computer math I like to keep ALL the parts and only reduce repeated components that apply to multiple forms of the equasion if needed for computational efficiency. However, with today's computers you do not need computational efficiency except in problems where the math is repeated millions of times for display or finite element calculations. So, you are best off to list ALL your math. Efficient reduction of steps is manual and slide rule era skills.

Actually, pseudo code which can be converted to real math is often the easiest to understand. Real language statements like

areaA times lengthA divided by areaB equals lengthB

make more sense. Then the areas can be calculated separately and plugged in. The formualae I gave doesn't use PI which you would think is necessary for circular area but cancels out in this case. However, you need to go back to basics if you want to use square stock to round. . . Which works just as well under a power hammer.

I USED to be real good at reduction of formulae but high school was a long, long, long time ago. The basics are 8th grade math (in the former U.S.).
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/27/08 19:18:11 EDT

Quenchcrach, how well did the calculated values match the experimental values?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/27/08 19:26:21 EDT

Why not just get some quarter-inch plate and torch out a 5-inch circle? Hmmmm? Or do you just enjoy pain?
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 08/27/08 21:03:11 EDT

Making the 5" circle might not be all *that* hard. At least not if you upset the 1" rod to aboug 5" long, and then lay it on its side and drew it out with a cross pein.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 08/27/08 21:13:20 EDT

I have been doing the "volume A to volume B" calculations when I realy want to know so I don't waste stock, and time from not starting with enough stock to make the finished part.
I just kind of guessed at this methode but, I wonder is this what everybody else does?
The master smith at our club says 90% of the time he just leaves extra stock on a part and cuts off what he doesn't use. Fine for him as he has the practiced eye for it, not yet for me.
I want to be able to determin material requirements as jobs come along so as to give accurate estimates. I supose I could add a certain percentage to the estimate based on the number of reductions in a piece but, that doesn't sound very accurate with out alot of tweeking.
On the other hand figuring out the volume of all the reductions sounds very time consuming as well.(time is money )
I don't think I'm giving away any secrets when I say that in the machining industry jobs are usualy estimated for time by the different types of operations involved in making the part.
So many minutes for a drilled hole, so many for a tapped hole, so many cubic inches of material removed per minute for milling ect,... all related to a certain shop rate.
I always figured it would be the same for blacksmith work but figuring for material has me scratching my head a little.
   - merl - Wednesday, 08/27/08 22:02:51 EDT

Flat Cookie from bar: This one from 1" is on the extreme end of upsetting but on a decent power hammer over 100 pounds you can do this one (1" dia x 6.25" to 5" dia x 1/4") in two heats. The first heat should get it to about 1/2" thick where the dies start to really pull out the heat and the second heat should finish it. It is as fast or faster than flame cutting and the finished piece may be in better condition not needing to be cleaned up with a grinder.

There are some huge advantages to having a 150 (70kg) or up power hammer. Making flat round or square cookies from heavy bar is fast and efficient with the fuel cost being equivalent to gas cutting and there being little or no clean up. You can also have 3/8", 5/8" or 3/4" thicknesses when all you have in plate is 1/4 or 1/2".

This is what the recent demo at the Kaynes on a Phoenix hammer was all about. Not needing but a few stock sizes to make anything you needed. Tom made a heavy 1-1/2" thick cookie about 4-1/2" in diameter from a short length of 1.5" square bar in one heat. He then hot punched it displacing most of the hole so that there was little loss and turning the piece into a 6" round with a 1-1/2" ID and over 1" thick. The second heat was very short and making the hole took 1/20th the time it would to drill it on a heavy drill press. Clean up to make a precision part would have only required taking 1/8" or less of each surface in a lathe.

I've also sawn or had such cookies sawn off heavy rounds. This is also costly in machine time. But the advantages are the parts are round and may require less finishing.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every method od shaping steel. The big advantage of upsetting cookies is not needing stacks of plate of every thickness OR needing to handle them. The disadvantage is it requires a large power hammer to be efficient and the thickness may vary some if the piece is very large in diameter.

Estimating Forged Shape stock needs: Merl, when doing artistic work you often just start with what you have and work from there. If you need to make hundreds you simply make one, measure the cut off and you know where to start.

I once made a production run of double ended scrolls with round snub ends. I made one end on one piece, another on a second piece, cut the extra off the second piece and welded the two together. The extra cut off was subtracted from the two random (but measured) lengths I started with. If my parts had been short I wouold have added a piece. This was my sample for fit up and the weld just to make one piece for me. The rest were hand forged then scrolled on two jigs from the determined length and every one was perfect. No problem.

But doing the calculations for most work is pretty simple. The majority of forged work is tapers or points. A point (a pyramid or cone) no matter what the proportions is 3 times longer than the material used to start (if the same cross section - square - round). Tapers or wedges are twice as long as the starting stock. To measure spirals you can use a string, wire, solder (or center line in CAD). Upset square corners require about 1/4 of the size per corner. A circle needs 1 size for 360 degrees worth of "corner".

Anything fancier, leaves flowers and such can be determined by trial but the selling cost of such work should be able to absorb a LOT of scrap. With experience you will find that the scraps are only a few inches or nothing.

AND, if it is an expensive shape to forge and you do not want to have to trim or machine the part then do the calculations. Even the most complex shapes can be broken down into the simplest geometric elements (usually the cylinder, rectangular prism, triamgular prism, cone and pyramid). The last two are 1/3 of a cylinder or rectangular. Don't forget to add a little for scale losses. 1% to 2% volume with long soaking heats and .5% for a couple normal low scaling heats.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/28/08 00:05:20 EDT

Calculating volumes is an essential part of forging if you practice constant-volume forging. It is also the quickest way to arrive at an accurate solution in some cases. Case in point:

A custome came to me wanting about thirty pairs of shutterbogs to match an historical one he had foundon the building he was restoring. I looked at it closely and could see that the original smith had taken a piece of wrought iron flat bar and forged the shape of the retaining leaf (roughly a feminine "hourglass" profile), necked it down pretty small in the middle and then upset the edges of the remaining flat bar until its cross-section was round, to make the handle. The piece was then punched and a shaft tenoned in for it to pivot on. Fine, I could see how it had been done, but there was no way I wanted to do sixty of those things in such an inefficient manner!

I recalled a lesson that Steve Parker had passed on to me from Clifton Ralph; using constant volume techniques and constraining forging forces. I decided it would be much quicker to make a spring swage to profile one end of a piece of round bar that I could then flatten in the power hammer to create the flat leaf, rather than spending a lot of time and energy violating the 3:1 rule trying to make round bar from flat bar.

All I had to do was take measurements at several points along the curves of the existing flat leaf and calculate the volumes at those points and then convert that volume to round stock. Now I knew what profile to forge or turn the master to for making the spring swage. Ten or twenty minutes with a caliper and a calculator had the calculating job done and thirty minutes on the lathe to turn the master.

With the spring swage, the round bar was fed in and swaged to the correct profile, with the necked down area to constrain the forces and force the plastic steel into the die. A few hits and rotates and one blank is ready. When they were all done, a second heat saw them flattened to the correct thickness to yield the proper widths (kiss blocks on the dies) and still enough heat left to punch the pivot hole.

That was a nicely profitable job due to using some simple junior high math and applying what I've learned over the years about moving hot steel. My thanks go to Steve Parker for doing a particularly memorable demo that stayed stuck in my mind when I really needed it. It's like Clifton says, forging is all about Volume, Area, Resistance and Force. If you keep that in mind and work with it, many things make more sense and come easier at the anvil.

I hope this story helps someone else save some time and effort. Pass along the knowledge - there are only so many Clifton Ralphs out there and they can't do it alone.
   vicopper - Thursday, 08/28/08 00:28:30 EDT

The constant volume method detailed above by VIc is another reason for having a serious power hammer. While the flattening could easily be done by hand to achieve a more varied hand forged look, making the preform in the dies requires power.

Need for such dies is dependent on the complexity and number of the parts to be made. I made a similar number of the same type item (shutter hooks) that had a large bean end, a tapering diamond shape center and an outward facing scrolled tail that was forged round from the 3/16" x 1 flat bar. The necking and forging the bean ends was done by hand and the long "tail" forged under a 50 pound Little Giant. Scrolling was done by hand without a jig or scrolling pliers. The shank was a long taper to fit between bricks with a tenon on the end which was headed to hold the latch. The tenon was forged using a simple clapper die as shown on our iForge page also on the little power hammer. The entire order was finished in an easy day except for the outsourced sand blasting prior to painting. The only special tool needed was the tenon dies.

Much fancier shutter hooks are made using similar methods but flattening the keeper end thinner and then cutting out the shape by one method or the other. Simple trim dies used on a press or treadle hammer such as shown in Donald Streeter's Professional Blacksmithing can be used to make complicated cut outs from a flattened mass.

Knowing the varied tricks (including the math) and making the best use of the tools you have on hand at the time is what is important.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/28/08 10:36:08 EDT

I am looking for what the sound of an 18th century trip hammer would have been. I work at a historic museum and next door to us was (during a time period) in operation. We know it was noisy but what would have it sounded like? We estimate from period pieces that it was about once every 4 seconds the hammer would fall.

   Wendy Moyer - Thursday, 08/28/08 12:37:57 EDT

Wendy, These machines made a whole variety of noises. Often the clunking wooden gear noises were as loud as any other and could be a constant roar. At a distance the "thump" from the hammer can be felt as much as heard as the sound travels through the ground and as a minor tremor.

The actual hammer forging sound will also vary greatly depending on what is being forged. A large fresh piece such as a bloom is very soft and the sound would be a muffled thump more felt than heard and not as noisy as the machinery. As a piece thins and cools the sound will change to clack or clank depending on the exact machinery. A very thin or cool piece will make a harsher clacking noise. As most of this machinery was wooden including the anvil support and the hammer helve the sounds were not nearly as harsh or sharp as with all metal machinery. The hammers and anvils were mostly or all cast iron which does not ring like steel does. Thus the "clack" sound rather than a piercing "clang" or metallic "whack" of steel machinery.

These sounds were very distinctive and the smith with a trained ear (if any hearing left) could tell from a considerable distance when a worker was working too cold or too thin of metal, or none at all.

Hope this helps.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/28/08 12:53:46 EDT

Wendy, I'd bet the hammer was falling closer to once per second. It all depends on how big the waterwheel was and how much flow there was, of course, but hammers were usually on a direct connection to the waterwheel with no intervening gearing.

What period "piece" resulted in the four second estimate? I can tell you from personal experience that's WAY too slow to be effective in consolidating a bloom of wrought iron or drawing out merchant bar.

As for the sound, probably not very loud. More of an earth-shaking dull "thump" than a sharp clang. The hammer head and anvils for these were usually cast iron, although some later ones did have a sow block setup for steel dies. They weighed anywhere from 100-1000 lbs depending on where they were and how big the ironworks was, so figure the feel of standing next to a lump of iron that heavy falling a foot or two onto a lump of squishy hot iron atop an equally heavy anvil piece mounted on a big wooden stump sunk deep in the ground and you're on the right track.

Like all power hammers, they did not run on empty dies or they'd break. Some illustrations show a small wooden prop handled by an apprentice being used to start and stop the hammer by wedging it under the helve at the top of the stroke where the rotating lobes on the main shaft couldn't actuate it. There are still a few of these water-powered hammers running in Italy, Spain, and Germany. I used to have a link to pictures of a few of them, but I don't know where it went...
   Alan-L - Thursday, 08/28/08 13:07:40 EDT

Whoa! I was typing at the same time as the guru, but I'm glad we said the same thing. (grin!)
   Alan-L - Thursday, 08/28/08 13:09:06 EDT

name of jewelery made of coal?
   p.kokay - Thursday, 08/28/08 13:56:19 EDT

Jewelry mad of a tough form of caol is known as "jet". A specialty of northern England as I recall.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 08/28/08 15:00:15 EDT

Jewelry mad of a tough form of caol is known as "jet". A specialty of northern England as I recall.
   Bruce Blackistone - Thursday, 08/28/08 15:07:27 EDT

"...made of a tough form of coal..."

Haste makes misnakes, I suppose.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 08/28/08 15:08:33 EDT

I have a long thin 3ft long rectangular section of metal thats roughly the dimentions of rebar. I'm trying to flatten it out so that I can start forming it into a blade, but hammering along the centre in dead square blows seems to be only pushing the metal out lengthwise. What should I be doing to start pushing the metal out width wise?
   Nabiul Haque - Thursday, 08/28/08 15:56:48 EDT

Thomas, we did not have a big drop forge to actually run the experiment. We used a Charpy Impact tester to develop stress VS strain values in tension and then reversed the numbers to make it a compression value. I really cannot remember how we accounted for friction but work hardening was related to % reduction and the Charpy Data we generated. It took about 6 weeks for a bunch of wannabe metallurgists to figure it out. My team got the same answer as the Professor got (within an acceptable error band) so we passed. Mechanical Met was a very practical course taught by one of the best teacher-engineers I have ever met. On his tests, you could bring any book, any cheat sheet, any reference to the tests. If you did not have the formula you needed he would give it to you. However, if you did not understand the principle, you could not pass any of his tests. I still stand in awe of him.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 08/28/08 16:10:45 EDT

Wendy; you might check if the Ironworks on the Saugus has any recording of running the hammers in the restored Museum---17th century!

Also several smiths in Germany and in Italy still run such hammers and might have a recording of the sound they make. Manfred Sachse's book on Damascus steel has pictures and may provide enough information to contact them.

Schwanzhammer is the german term for such a tilt hammer and several working ones are in Freilicht Museums (open air museums)

Having see some in action I would say that a thud you feel with your feet is spot on and the sounds of the mill that runs it.

Thomas Powers
   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/28/08 16:48:34 EDT

One other thought: anyone want to search youtube for tilt hammer or schwanzhammer to see if anyone has a clip up with the sound?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/28/08 17:02:13 EDT

Flattening and Drawing Directions: Nabuil, "Rebar" comes in sizes from 3/8" (10mm) to several inches (50mm). "Roughly the dimensions of rebar" means very little.

The shape of the face of your hammer is critical in this case and so is the size of the hammer. Too small hammer a will only push outward and since the bar is proportionally much longer than it is in width the total increase in length will be greater.

A hammer with a round hemispherical or face crowned in all directions moves the metal in all directions equally. So will a flat faced hammer. A rocker faced (arced in one direction hammer moves the steel more in one direction (perpendicular to the arc) than the other. A heavily arced face on the hammer will make it more like a fuller and move the material mostly in one direction. However, since the hammer is always narrower than the length of the steel there will always be some movement in the axial direction.

Using a nearly flat faced rectangular hammer you can move steel in one direction by using the rounded edge of the face like a fuller and then smooth it with the same hammer. To draw a bar mostly in width you can use this technique working from one side then the other of the bar.

Moving steel in the direction you want is a combination of skill and having the right tools.

Note also that if you work a square bar on edge it starts 40% wider than on the flat. The hammer and anvil bearing against the corners focuses the applied force and moves the steel outward toward the edges more. Try it.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/28/08 17:20:20 EDT

"Estimating Forged Shape stock needs"
Thanks Guru, that answers many questions I would have had to ask later as well.
Vicopper, thank you also but, what is the "3:1 rule" The fact that my upper forarm is still a little sore from three weeks ago makes me think I may have been in violation of something or other...
   - merl - Thursday, 08/28/08 17:30:17 EDT

The piece is roughly an inch wide, a little over half an inch thick and just over 3 ft long. It's scrap from the edge blade of a plow bucket, tough as hell to work.

Thats interesting about forging on the edges, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to land clean blows or if the hammer will slip off. I'll give it a try tomorrow. I'm using a double faced club hammer.
   Nabiul Haque - Thursday, 08/28/08 17:57:44 EDT

Forging on edge will not work on rectangular stock.

If that is a stock "club" hammer it has dead flat faces that need to be reworked for forging.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/28/08 20:51:54 EDT

Nabiul, I have noticed in your posts that you live in Ontario. In the Missisauga area isn't it? You should come out to a Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association meeting. Most of our meetings have demonstrations at them and you can pick up a lot of knowledge from the other members. The meeting locations are usually posted on the website www.ontarioblacksmiths.ca/. The next meeting has a cost associated with it as we are bringing in John Little from Nova Scotia to lead a workshop. Octobers meeting is near Ottawa but Novembers is just north of Guelph and we usually hold a meeting the Waldie blacksmith shop in downtown Milton in January or Febuary.
   - JNewman - Thursday, 08/28/08 23:09:48 EDT


The 3:1 rule in forging says that you don't want to try to forge down (upset) stock that is more than 3 times taller than it is wide. You can forge 3/8"x1" flat bar down to square bar that is just under 5/8" square, because the ratio of the two dimensions is less than 3:1 and the metal will move without causing cold shuts or "fishmouthing." If you try to do the same thing with a piece of flat bar that is, say, 3/16"x2", you'll have the same volume of stock but the ratio is over 3:1 and when you try to forge it down it will just fold over or buckle.

The reason is that at ratios over 3:1 the force of the blow doesn't penetrate the steel deeply enough to cause movement near the center, but the edges do move. The results are very obvious. The same sort of thing happens if youtry to forge too big of stock with too small a hammer - not enough force to move the metal deeply enough andonly the surface moves. Thisis how you get piping when reducing large rounds on a too-small powerhammer.

I'm not sure I did all that great a job of explaining this, so if it doesn't make sense let me know and I'll try again.
   vicopper - Friday, 08/29/08 00:02:35 EDT

The faces are a slight dome shape.

I live in Scarborough actually. Thanks for the site, I'd love to come, but I have no means of transportation and I'm heading into first year of mechanical engineering. Maybe 4 or 5 years down the road I might be able to come ;).
   Nabiul Haque - Friday, 08/29/08 01:18:13 EDT

Nabiul, There may be folks in your area that are going. Ask. Free or nearly free education in this field is worth making new friends or asking for a ride. In a few minutes watching an experianced smith you can learn what may take you years on your own.

Character and Comradeship: If you seek them out you may find that in general modern smiths on this continent are the most generous, friendly, sharing folks you will find anywhere in the world. The primary reason is that our craft almost died out entirely here. It is only by graciously sharing knowledge freely (as we do here) that the craft has not only survived but has grown and developed beyond what it was in the past. There is also no discrimination in our field. While blacksmithing was once considered the realm of men only, an attitude you still find in Europe, here we welcome women and people of all races. The love of the metal brings us all together.

A generation ago we had to walk, drive or hitchhike hundreds of miles to find the nearest person with the same interest in blacksmithing. For a while an ABANA conference was the only major event for blacksmiths and they came from everywhere in the world. Today if you haven't found several others in your locality then you haven't looked very hard. Significant gatherings are held every year on a regional basis. The upcoming SOFA meet in Ohio will have significant contingent from Canada this year. It is less than a month away and a well worth while event to go to.

Having a blacksmithing background to go with your engineering education will be a great combination. It is a great advantage to be able to combine the practical hands on knowledge with the theoretical.
   - guru - Friday, 08/29/08 08:00:46 EDT

3:1 Rule- I have observed it, but I'd never seen it quantified into a rule of thumb. That's why I like this site!

I guess I'll have to give up my project of upsetting all of that 16 ga. sheet metal into bars. ;-)

Wet and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Today's project in your National Parks: Keeweenaw National Historic Park: www.nps.gov/kewe/ (If you dig copper! ;-)

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 08/29/08 09:09:26 EDT

Nabiul, 4-5 years from now will be too late. Get there now. No transportation? I call clinker on that, what? Ontario no longer has any buses? If you don't have the drive and ingenuity to figure out how to get to a blacksmith gathering you don't have what it takes to be a blacksmith. In 2001 there were a couple of young lads who hitchhiked from Vancouver to the middle of rural Saskatchewan to attend Caniron 3. I think you have the potential to be a smith though, so figure out how to get to that meeting and don't let us down!
   JimG - Friday, 08/29/08 09:18:28 EDT

One other thing; there is a MatSci/Metallurgist on this board whose blacksmithing hobby helped to get him the job he wanted as they thought it indicated an interest in the field itself rather than just an interest in a paycheck. (But, no not everything has to be made into a blade...)

Having someone show you how to draw a piece out sideways will save you hours of frustration.

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/29/08 11:06:01 EDT

I recently picked up a cross pein hammer here in the Peoples Republic of Davis for cheap (they did not know what they had, eh-eh-eh). There is very little wear on it, wood handle is still tight (needs oil), a little char on the handle suggests it was around heat. The cross pein edge, though, is flat, not rounded. Is this the way they were shipped back in the old days, with the smith expected to shape the cross pein edge?

Hot-hot-hot, 104 degrees here in the Sacto Valley, should get a break this weekend.

David Hughes
   - David Hughes - Friday, 08/29/08 11:48:09 EDT

3:1 rule.... interesting. I've been rejecting requests for nails 1/8" thick because they want the head to be over 3/8" wide. After trial and error I found a way to do it, just takes lots and lots of heats to get the final product.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 08/29/08 12:11:48 EDT

Piens: David, Yes, it was common for them not to be dressed. The face was often profile machined to crown and chamfer it but the straight pein edge was usually left squarish.

Now. . that squarish edge has often been taken advantage of by smiths to make leaf and other textures. However, if you intend to do fullering with them it should be radiused. Some factory hammers have been hand dressed with a pien radius but the outer corners are often still sharp. For good forging these should be also be dressed from a small smooth radius to a partial sphere.

I worked for many years without thinking about grinding a hammer face except if it was damaged or had cracked edges. It wasn't until I saw imported German hammers that are simply rough ground and useless as-is that I ever thought about needing to grind a hammer face. Today there are so few well made ready to go smithing hammers that it is a skill we all need to have.
   - guru - Friday, 08/29/08 12:48:18 EDT

The 3:1 rule is a general forging guide no an absolute rule. Much greater machine upsets are commonly made and if you take Nip's example and look at roofing nails, they have a head that is 5:1 or 8:1 of the shank size. The recent discussion on making 5" diameter cookies out of 1" bar also breaks this rule and is common practice when you have the power for it.
   - guru - Friday, 08/29/08 12:53:46 EDT

With real power, one can push a 22" flange on a 5.5" diameter bar. Takes about 2400 to 2700 tons:)

In the smaller upsetters we did 9" flanges on 2.25" bars as well, in production, in 5 progessive hits., witha hit every 6 seconds, with all 5 dies with a bar in work, so thata finished forging came off the machine every 6 seconds and the total time in the forge tongs was about 30 seconds.
   ptree - Friday, 08/29/08 13:08:03 EDT

Cookies From Bar: The first time I saw this done Josh greenwood made a 5" round flat from a 1.5" bar about 8" long on a 500 pound (227 kg) hammer. I suspect that cooling and friction at the dies force the middle of the bar to expand more than the ends. There was no problem with cold shuts the part swelling like a barrel as it was flattened/upset. In fact the finished flat will have half round edges unless the edges are dressed while forging. Tom Troszak did a similar demo at the Kaynes last weekend.

Forging rectangular bar on edge to flat is a different thing as the stock is constrained more in the long axis. However, fish mouthing and cold shuts are often a factor of uneven heats or misaligned work. When evenly soaked and forged in alignment it will upset similar to the long bar. Misalignment is the worst problem as the work folds or crumples and then you get serious cold shuts.
   - guru - Friday, 08/29/08 14:48:52 EDT

One of the parts we made at the valve shop was made from a 4" round, about 16" long. The billets were induction heated so very even heat. The first press stroke was made with the bar vertical, on a flat section of the die that was cut down to control the lenght of upset. The bar was upset down a couple of inches, making a sorta dumbell shape. This worked well as the next blow had the billet on its side and had flanges at each end. The small upset also forced all the scale off the sides a useful time saver.
   ptree - Friday, 08/29/08 15:47:21 EDT

I read in an older book (wish I could remember which one. . .) about the 3:1 rule. The book applied it to upsetting the middle of a bar: you shouldn't heat an area more than three diameters long.
   Mike BR - Friday, 08/29/08 16:41:19 EDT

Leg Vise: I recently purchased a 6" leg vise that weighs about 70#. All parts are there and the screw and jaws are good. The leg, screw box, and attachment appear the same as some I have seen (pictures) that were claimed to be Peter Wright vises. I understand, some PW vises had a name or "solid box" on the screw box but not all. So far I have not found any identification but there is some paint I have not yet cleaned off. Are there design features that would definitely identify a PW vise? Thanks.
   Mr. Metal - Saturday, 08/30/08 11:23:50 EDT

good evening i was looking for a platten table for bending steel i thought there was a company on anvilfire who sold them iam in the uk any ideas please cheers regards david
   david hannah - Saturday, 08/30/08 12:19:23 EDT

David, Striker Tools (see our advertiser list) sells platens. They may be able to arrange direct shipping. You may also want to contact John at Massie Anyang hammers. He is not a dealer for platens but he may have some leads and is more local to you.

   - guru - Saturday, 08/30/08 13:59:19 EDT

Leg Vise ID: Mr.M, The features of British made leg vises are so common to all makers that it is probably impossible to tell. Brooks Cooper vises from Mousehole Forge are identical in looks and construction to P.W. Vises. These were generally made in proportional sizes from 30 pounds to 250 pounds in 5-10 pound increments. A vise with 6 inch jaws should weigh closer to 100 pounds.

See our Vice/Vise FAQ

My experience is that more leg vises have no markings than those that do. ALSO, These vises are currently been bought mostly for their utility at the current market's undervalued prices. Good quality unmarked vises are being sold for the same prices as marked vises. If you are paying collectors prices then you are paying much too much. Size (by WEIGHT) and condition should be the only consideration.

Note that in recent years at least one unscrupulous ebay dealer has been forging Peter Wright markings on various items, especially vises in the hope of getting more for them.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/30/08 14:21:15 EDT

I am looking for a supply of wrought iron for fittings for knives. I like the way that wrought iron looks after etching in acid. I know a junk man in MS who has dozens of old plows and wagon tires on his place that he wants to get rid of. Before I drive three hours to look, I would like to know...."From your experience, are wagon rims made out of steel, cast, or wrought iron?" I would expect them to be made out of wrought judging by the pictures he has sent me. I know how to cut the rims and see by the texture of the metal if it is wrought or not. Also, any other ideas for wrought would be appreciated also. I am looking to try to stock up so it will last many many years.
   Arnold - Saturday, 08/30/08 15:44:18 EDT

Arnold-- all the wagon tires-- rims-- I have ever seen are wrought. Nice, smooth, handsome stuff. Farm and ranch junk piles are usually good sources.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 08/30/08 15:53:29 EDT

Old Wagon Rims: I have scraped and used quite a few of these and have found as many that were mild steel as were wrought. If you are buying them for the material you will need to cut and test unless there is some natural etching to indicate what they are. Many smiths use them for the nicely rounded edges and texture.

All wagon rims are "wrought" material. no castings.

Plows are more likely to be steel, either drop forged or cast. Some are cast iron with bolted on steel edges.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/30/08 19:40:24 EDT

Leg Vise ID: Thanks for the response. I'll settle for an unknown maker. I agree, 70# seems light for a 6" vise but it's in good condition and I got it for $75 from a private local junk man. He claims to have retreaved it from a long gone water wheel mill in northern NY along with some other large metal pieces. Seems like it should be OK if I can keep the work in proportion to its weight. (Don't overwork it.) Thanks again.
   Mr. Metal - Saturday, 08/30/08 20:52:42 EDT

I have recently been given a Canedy Otto hand crank forge blower. How would I go about finding out information about this blower... when it was made etc. It is in very good condition and seems to be in working condition.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
   Rick - Saturday, 08/30/08 22:19:51 EDT

Thanks to all for the 3:1 info. It all makes good sence because I happen to encounter some of the unwanted effects of the surface stretching past the center from the use of too small a hammer for too big a part. Now I know what was going on there so, thanks again.
   - merl - Saturday, 08/30/08 23:23:54 EDT

Canedy Otto: Rick, I think they started production in the early 1900's and ran until the 1940's. We sell a CR-ROM copy of one of their catalogs but they have no date.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/30/08 23:34:04 EDT

Guru and Miles Undercut... Thanks for responding on the wrought iron issue. I understand now that all wagon rims are "wrought" material now that I think about it. LOL! I think I will just go up there and take a look at what it is in person. I may find something that I am not expecting too.
Thanks again,
   Arnold - Sunday, 08/31/08 00:36:45 EDT

Yes, but I don't mean wrought in the sense that wrought is the past tense of the verb to work. Sure, the rims have all been worked. I mean in the technical sense, wrought iron the specific material. Anyway, I have a slew of them waiting for me to help them become sundials and chandeliers and....
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 08/31/08 01:20:09 EDT

Picky picky. Rims shims. They are iron or steel TIRES which fit around the felloes. The wheel is of wood.

I lived in Lansing, Michigan, long ago when Motor Wheel Corporation was located there. They manufactured steel wheels. Rubber TIRES go on the wheels. I've never been to a tire store to ask for a rubber rim.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 08/31/08 07:27:23 EDT

Where I live a couple of neighbors date from the horse/mule and wagon days. One told me Friday late afternoon was the 'going to town day'. His particular job was to use the mules to take the wagon down to a spring run and soak the wheels about 1/6th at a time, occasionally pouring water over the entire wheels. Otherside the rims tended to come off between their farm and town and back. Even with the soaking they had to drive in metal shims to hold the rims in place.

Locally the 'horse and buggy' Amish have largely gone to motorcycle tires.

From what I've read, if in doubt, cut a piece about 1/2 way through and bend to the break point. If mild steel, break will appear to be granular. If wrought iron, break will appear to be a bit fiberous.

Several years ago I found a piece of what was probably a buggy seat spring in the wooded area. Obviously wrought iron from the way it had rusted. Sold it on eBay for a right decent price.

If you will be going to Quad-State ask around for Keith Summers (beard, probably a white shirt, old-world pants and suspenders). He typically has pieces of wrought iron from old agricultural equipment for sale.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 08/31/08 08:08:40 EDT

It's been my understanding that the one piece metal ring that go around a wheel is called a "tire" because it ties the wheel together. Before the one piece tire became common again wheels were built heavier, and sections of iron were put around and these were called "strakes" My source is George Sturts "The Wheelwright's Shop" written about 1930.
   JimG - Sunday, 08/31/08 09:49:00 EDT

THANK YOU ALL!!! WoW what a wealth of knowlage!!!

One of the interpeters here said it would have been 4seconds but to me that sounded to slow per say. We know that he was making all sorts of things in the plating mill from advertisements in papers and it was running a great deal of the time. I am going to look up those references and see if I can find anything with some running so I know what I am looking for. I don't want anything to annoying since we all must listen to it but they have found a great deal of the walls of the building etc at this point and are talking about somehow interpeting that and the steel forge next door to it.

   Wendy Moyer - Sunday, 08/31/08 10:30:02 EDT

Wendy: After thinkng about your question a bit more, I consulted my copy of the ever-handy "On the Manufacture of Iron in all its various branches" by Frederick Overman (1849) to see what he had to say about tilt hammers. I STRONGLY recommend you get a copy if you want a decent reconstruction, the 1851 second edition is available from Google Books as a free PDF download.

Anyway: Overman suggests a 400lb hammer can be run effectively at speeds of from 70 to 140 blows PER MINUTE. So that's a liitle over once per second to 2.5 per second.

No doubt this varied quite a bit with different hammer weights and water flow speeds, but once every four seconds is right out.

Overman also mentions a distinctive type of tilt hammer used in plating mills that looks a bit different than the usual. You guys really need to get the download!
   Alan-L - Sunday, 08/31/08 13:49:50 EDT

Tilt Hammer Speeds: IF (big IF) the machinery is intact most smallish (12 foot diameter) water wheels operated at about 10 RPM. From there you can do the math of the gears if any. If it is direct driven then the blows per minute would be the number of cam lobes on the shaft times 10. Divide by 60 for seconds per blow. Then you can adjust the rate via overspeeding the wheel to 12 RPM or throttling back to 8.

With 8 lobes at 10RPM there would be 80 per minute or 1.33 blows per second.

At 12 RPM it would be 96 per minute or 1.6 per second. At 8 RPM it would be 64 per minute or close to one per second.

So with 8 lobes and a 10 RPM nominal wheel your range is one to blows per second.

IF a water wheel is run too fast the water is thrown off and it can go no faster at a given load. Smaller wheels can run faster than larger but have less power. By flooding or wasting a LOT of water a wheel can be overspead by 150%.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/31/08 16:28:12 EDT

NOTE: The above is based on some very generalized math that applies to certain situations. A little optimization and you can get higher speeds. The example just shows one possibility.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/31/08 19:45:00 EDT

Thank you both! I did look up the book on google books but could not understand which is the differnt hammer for the plating but still tons of great info from both of you. For the moment I have removed from the sound track the hammer until I can get a good recording. I think I will try (since we are in front and slightly down from the mill) we have many VERY large stumps from trees that were removed for the excivation of the mill that were given to us, take that and two cast Iron pans (flat ones) and place a small bundle of cloth so we can see how that sounds if hit per say. I am also going to meld with a water wheel once I get to go to a local one to record. The water flowed pretty fast but it will be until spring at least til we get a "drawing" of it to see what the grades of the land/water where to see what the race was like. We know there was a pond dug above to increase flow.
   Wendy Moyer - Sunday, 08/31/08 20:36:37 EDT

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