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This is an archive of posts from August 8 - 15, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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Cast iron question:

I should know this, but don't. Can cast iron be magnetic?

I have an old outdoor table, a family heirloom of unknown real value, which broke in a storm. The preaks are all in places which ought to be easy to weld, but I'm not sure what material it is. The pieces are clearly cast, assembled with bolts through holes and overlapping tabs, and was purchased in the 50's or 60's for a high price at the time.

It is magnetic, grinds like steel to a bright finish, but down't have any particular ring when thick parts are struck with a hammer. On the inside of a leg, in a thick place, I laid a small weld puddle with mild mig wire and CO/Ar... it welds like steel.

Aside from a spark test [will try tomorrow if I can find a cast iron sample], any thoughts on how to tell if this is steel or cast iron?
   Mike/Marco - Friday, 08/07/09 22:54:28 EDT

Mike, It really doesn't matter if it's steel or cast iron. You can weld some cast iron items with a mig welder using mild steel wire. Years ago while I was still working in the theatrical scenery business we used the mig to weld parts to old cast iron lamp posts with good effect. It's not an unusual application. If it works it's good! If it doesn't you can always revert to the old standy of braze welding the parts that didn't take. Steve G
   - SGensh - Friday, 08/07/09 23:12:06 EDT

Are there any companies that still make hand crank blowers?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 08/08/09 00:21:01 EDT

Jacob, There is a company in UK. They don't advertise on Jock's forum so I won't mention their name! Also there is a company here in China. I am actively trying to get in touch with them to get details and samples but so far to no avail. I have even got a US distributor who would handle them if thay are any use!
   philip in china - Saturday, 08/08/09 00:38:51 EDT

Table, Yes that is cast iron. It could also be ductile iron. Ductile welds well and grey cast iron does not.

On cast iron the shape makes a big difference. Some parts weld, others weld in one spot and crack in another. . . For arc welding NiRod is recommended. I've never tried MIG. I've had the most success brazing CI. A friend welds CI using a cutting torch (as a small multi-port torch) and cast iron rod. The casting is heated to a good red then welded. Having the part very hot softens it and reduces stresses. There is a lot of distortion but he has successfully repaired many machine parts this way. All these methods need practice. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 08/08/09 01:14:23 EDT

There are places in India that make aluminum housing hand crank blowers. They are nothing like the good old Champion and Buffalo blowers. I tried to work out an import deal but the contact wanted me to by 100 at at a time.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/08/09 01:18:30 EDT

Here's a non smithing question, I have nowhere else to turn. Last month I bought an old whiskey barrel and set it up to collect rainwater from the downspout of my gutters. For the first week the water smelled just like whiskey (BOG). I put a hose bib at the bottom for drainage and a hand pump to draw water from the top. Recently the water has attained a sulfur smell. I put a 1/2 cup of bleach in the barrell, and it seemed to help, but every time it rains the barrel fills up again and the sulfur smell comes back. Is this a problem with the rain, the wood in the barrel or contaminants in the roofing shingles? I am stuck with bleaching the water every week?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 08/08/09 08:13:13 EDT

Welding CI:
I've found a few broken CI pieces in my scrap pile, and will practice on them. I've also been playing with a silicon bronze wire in my mig with pure CO2 for brazing. There's almost NO information on the web about mig brazing, so its been an expensive learning experience... but it does seem to be working. I don't have an oxy-fuel torch or a stick welder to run brazing rods, so I'm hoping this will work without having to buy a new tool. Being a family heirloom, it came with a great deal of guilt/hope in escrow, but no cash for the actual repair. :)

The table is composed of 6 identical pie slices bolted together, and 4 legs. The pies broke at the bolting tabs; 3 are still attached, 2 others are attached, and the last pie slice broke through the vine pattern. I suspect that will be the most difficult to repair. None of the legs broke at all, they just appear to have been loose. They were held on by one bolt each after fitting into grooves in the pie slices.

After rejoining the broken slice, I'm planning to ignore the snapped bolt tabs and weld/braze the slices permanently together. There's convenient grove around the perimeter underside fo the table, I was thinking about laying a 1/4 round into that all the way around and tacking it into place every few inches.

Preheat? I've read mixed advice on that elsewhere....
   Mike/Marco - Saturday, 08/08/09 09:43:55 EDT

Does anyone have experience with a Kerrihard power hammer? I have a chance to purchase one and want someone to compare it to a Little Giant-type hammer. Is the control and power about the same? Thanks
   Mike S - Saturday, 08/08/09 14:00:38 EDT

Nip, just a guess but rain falling through smoggy air will dissolve the SO2 and SO4 out of the air and form H2SO$, which is sulfuric acid. Ptree may be able to correct my air pollutant chemistry but I know it can form acid rain.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 08/08/09 17:49:10 EDT


Just add some manganese. Oh wait . . . you said this *isn't* a smithing question (grin).
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/08/09 20:06:45 EDT

Nip, I think there is a good possibility of acid rain. The northeast of the country is know for same. I would be surprised that the rain water would start to smell of sulfur, as the acid content should be very small. Not if the water is evaporating and concentrating the polluntant that is a possibility. Another is if you are close to a cpoal burning power plant, they often emit some ash etc that will settle on roofs etc. Also, any chemical plants close by?
   ptree - Saturday, 08/08/09 20:27:27 EDT

I did a google search and found a few posts suggesting a sulfur smell in a rain barrel is probably from anaerobic bacteria breaking down organic material in the water. Guess the answer may be more bleach or something like an aquarium pump.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/08/09 20:38:01 EDT

Nipp, I'm thinking the smell in your wiskey barrle is from anarobic bacteria (that is bacteria without oxeygen)
It could have lain dried out and dorment in the wood interior and then reconstitute with the rain water.
Adding bleach will only help a little. Another part of the problem may be the PH of the water after it sits in the barrel for a few days.
Water that is too acid or too basic will stink also.
You shouldn't have to airate rain water but, a small air stone and clean compressed air wouldn't hurt either.
I wouldn't tap off the shop air but, a little aquarium compressor should do the trick.
   - merl - Saturday, 08/08/09 21:01:44 EDT

Sulfur Smell: I never had that one. . . Sounds to me like coal soot washing off the roof or sulfur laden acid rain.

Testing CI welding: There are several types of cast iron and different grades of types. In welding school we had a load of "cast iron" castings brought in the practie on. . . was REAL easy. But I found out years later that all those auto parts made at the local foundry were a high grade ductile iron. Welded and brazed about like mild steel. . .

Kerrihards are good hammers when everything it working right. But they have a LOT of parts compared to an LG and there is more that can go wrong. Top this off with no parts available at all and its not nearly like an LG. I've known folks that had them, spent a lot fixing them only to trade them off at a loss. My two cents is they are worth less than a third of an LG if it looks perfect.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/08/09 22:50:18 EDT

Mike/Marco: Weather or not to preheat is a crapshoot. In a large complex part like the table, since You cannot preheat the whole thing evenly, You might do more harm than good. When preheat is not practicle, You need to be really carefull about heat when welding. This means really short stringer beads, peen them as they cool and don't make the next one until You can put Your bare hand on the last one.

The bugger with trying to practice on cast iron is that it seems every piece is a bit different, as others mentioned.

I wish I could tell You more about silicon bronze MIG. I havn't done it, but I think Argon is the proper shielding gas.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 08/08/09 23:18:08 EDT


I'd be 99% certain that the problem is anaerobic bacteria. There are a host of the little buggers and one is a particular problem in wells here. Our soil has a lot of iron in it and this bacteria gobbles it up and produces SO2 as a by-product. There might be an antibiotic that would kill it off and sterilize the barrel (I don't know), or you might try adding a bit of sodium bisulfite, about 1/2% by weight, and let it sit a few days then drain. I'd just toss in a cupful of Cruzan Rum and live with it. :-)

In our well water, an aerator and a charcoal filter do the job pretty well. Never had a problem with the rainwater in the cisterns, even though the largest oil refinery in the western hemisphere is just five miles upwind of us. I don't think your problem is acid rain or you'd be gagging every time it rained. Or maybe you do - I live in the country. (grin)

MIG brazing CI:

I use silicon bronze wire in the MIG gun very successfully on cast iron. I use 80/20 mixed gas or pure argon, doesn't seem to make any difference. Never tried straight CO2 except for welding mild steel. The silicon bronze works really well for brazing CI and for a host of other things as well. The more I use the stuff the better I like it.
   vicopper - Saturday, 08/08/09 23:38:57 EDT

Anerobic Bacteria will indeed make a H2S smell, and I have dealt with them for many years in coolant in factories. In coolant they are a problem when the coolant sits still and a "rag" layer of tramp oil forms on the surface. These bugs eat the tramp oil rag layer and they give off H2S. Most of the H2S sits trapped under the rag layer, but when you stir up the coolant PHEW!
In rain water, that sits, I could see anerobic bugs as an issue, but they would need a food. Goes back to contamanant. A Ph of 8.6 and above will control these guys in colant as will bubbled air. Removing the food is the best method if possible.
   ptree - Sunday, 08/09/09 08:27:51 EDT

I've used these old whiskey aging barrels for years as slack tubs without a smell problem. I suspect the "food" is coming off the roof. Leaves in gutters, failing paint or roofing material, dust of some sort. . I would check my gutters.

generally the old whiskey barrels are charcoal inside and have some alcohol permeating the whole. Tends to not do what Nip is getting so something is wrong. A drowned rat maybe?
   - guru - Sunday, 08/09/09 09:23:20 EDT

Silicon bronze MIG:
I found the spool as a one off from an abandoned order at my local welding shop. Tehy didn't know much about it, except that the guy who'd ordered it also wanted a bottle of pure CO2, but canceled both. So far the tests I've done have shown better results on a number of materials using the pure CO2 than my usual AR/CO2 mix bottle. The mild steel mix was giving me a LOT of splatter and required almost twice the gas flow, but still never penetrated very far into the gap. I've never tried pure AR, but since I now have a 5lb bottle in addition to my 140, I can get samples of other gasses easier to try.

In addition to the SiBr wire, I got my first spool of stainless wire. After reading many different opinions on which gass to use, I just started trying conbinations of what I had on what I usually weld. I didn't like the CO2 for attaching stainless perforated plate to mild steel plate at all; my Ar/CO2 mix did better. I just read last night someone advising the use of stainless wire on CI, as it is less ductile and won't induce so much shrinking stress.

Short welds, peening, and waiting to cool are definitely the order of the day.

I will be attaching reinforcing rods to the underside of the broken vines rather than just attaching them directly together. In the least, I'll get pictures.

Thanks for all the good advice!
   Mike/Marco - Sunday, 08/09/09 10:55:14 EDT

Metal vs. rubber wheels on grinders, final chapter:

Aha! You were using aluminum wheels. Mine are steel, and show no wear other than a slight shine atop the machining marks after maybe four years of use. I too use a rubber upper roller on the platen, a 2" contact wheel can be handy.

I should have said that while you certainly can use rubber-coated wheels anywhere on a grinder and they'll work fine, if you can get by with steel wheels those are much cheaper. Easier to machine a crown on, too!

Then again, there are those guys who after twenty years of hard use have worn the crown off their steel drive/tracking wheel on the old Wilton square wheel that used to be the industry standard. A few thicknesses of 1" masking tape wrapped around the center of said wheel fixes the problem for another five years.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 08/09/09 11:09:07 EDT

Cast Iron and Steel are the standards for pulleys. Most are cast due to shapes to reduce weight. Folks use aluminum for many of the machined from solid parts because of ease of machineability. It is also much cheaper in castings especially if you need small lots. You can flat out fly through good hard aluminum. We made steel pulleys for our tire hammers. Large solid pulleys are HEAVY. I have to true a couple and while at it I am going to remove some extra material. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 08/09/09 11:20:50 EDT

Alan-L - Steel wheels

Do you have a reliable source for steel wheels? I'm not particualrly tied to either of my sources for rubber or Al, just convenient and they work. I'd be happy to try some steel one's on the next grinder.
   Mike/Marco - Sunday, 08/09/09 12:38:59 EDT


CO2 is stored as a liquid at around 700 PSI. It's generally sold in lower-rated bottles than other gasses. But maybe your supplier will let you swap your 5# CO2 bottle for a 20 cubic foot high-pressure bottle.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 08/09/09 14:02:37 EDT

Several years ago my parents bought me tin containing flint steel charcloth tinder and a leather bag for all. There is a magazine this came from. It is mostly 1700's era stuff, and i think its called fire and ..... cant remember. Anyone have any ideas where to get the flint, hard to find here. Thanks!!
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 08/09/09 18:00:32 EDT

Steel Wheels: Almost any power transmission supplier and industrial hardwaresupplier (like McMaster-Carr) can fix you up. Look up flat belt pulley. They have idlers with side guides which are also handy.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/09/09 18:45:51 EDT

The thing you forgot about Kerrihard hammers Jock is how cute they are.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 08/09/09 21:22:21 EDT

Jacob, Might be the Smoke and Fire Company: www.smoke-fire.com. As for flint, google for a company that caters to blackpowder shooters. However, flint is the best but other hard rocks will work, too. Shaping it is the challenge.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/10/09 07:36:46 EDT

Mike/Marco, Mine came on my KMG from Beaumont Metalworks. Ask Rob and he'll hook you up.
   Alan-L - Monday, 08/10/09 08:00:02 EDT

Thanks everyone for your input. The closest coal plant from my house is probably in Limerick PA, but apparently we've ruled that one out. From what I've read at rainbarrel websites is that this does happen and they recommend dropping a quarter cup of bleach. My problem is that every time it rains the barrel fills up (overflows) and the next day I got the stink again. Now, when I draw off some water for the slack tubs it's not too bad. After a day or so of being in the smithy the water loses the smell. Either way, I highly recommend a rain catching water barrel. It's environmentally friendly, you'll always have clean good rainwater for plants and smithing, and it looks really neat sitting on the deck/porch.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/10/09 08:23:08 EDT

TGN---maybe out there you will "always have clean good rainwater for plants and smithing" but in these parts that barrel will be as dry as dust most of the time!

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/10/09 10:37:02 EDT

My family, the neigbhors, and the HOA, are tired of my "blacksmithing" by using an oxy-torch and the sidewalk: I get a shed, 10x12, this friday. I'll also get a 165lb. anvil and some form of coke forge. If you would be so kind, please answer some layout questions.

If using a charcoal forge in a 10'x12' shed, what size exhaust ducting should I run through the roof? From the perspective of work, is there any serious down side to putting the forge in a corner? What I am thinking is working with my back to the wall, forge in the corner to my left, anvil straight ahead. For a right hander, does this make sense? Windows: Where should a window be relative to the smith and the anvil? Lastly, the shed will be 2x4 w/hardiplank outside: what is the best (i.e. most fireproof) thing to tack to the studs and what about the floor?

Space in the shed will be tight as it will also house a kiln, molding bench, and some foundry equipment.
   JG - Monday, 08/10/09 11:24:25 EDT

Moving a 50# little giant to a new shop... old shop dirt floor with rock on top and a double 4x4 base with old 1/2 conveyor belt for the buffer. New floor out of steel fiber concrete new stuff supposed to be great for down pressure,weight ect... 41/2 inches thick with a 5 inch rock base under. Going to place a horse mat(7/8 thick hard rubber)on the floor and place a double layer of 4x4's at 90 degree bolted together on top and the old conveyor belts on top then the hammer..... base about 5 foot by 5 foot..............Is this ok or not enough or overkill
   George Robb - Monday, 08/10/09 12:20:37 EDT

Small Shop: JG, Your plan has numerous problems. The 10x12 (presumably sheet metal) shed is a hot box with poor ventilation. Even with the door wide open it is going to be very hot and poorly ventilated. A large part of the problem is the height of these things are not sufficient to allow stray exhuast gases to escape or to swing hammer overhead.

Unless all you work is very short the corner forge will limit you to pieces about a foot long. I would center the forge on one wall (probably the back). Due to the shortness of the building and thus a short stack and the close work space the vent size needs to be as large as possible. Ideals in this situation you would use TWO stacks. 1) a side draft mounted on the outside of the sheetmetal shack with the vent passing through the wall. This should have a 10" to 12" stack. 2) an over head hood with vent over the forge. Also 10 to 12" but with a turbine cap. AND even though this is a small building I would be looking for a second vent toward the middle preferably with a turbine vent.

I'll post a sketch in a few minutes.
   - guru - Monday, 08/10/09 12:42:18 EDT

Click for full size image

I missed the fact that your building is going to be wood. However, the space is about a cramped as I show it (more so due to wall thickness). We have one of the sheet metal utility buildings this size and there is not much space.

Make it as tall as possible. You could hide extra height by lowering the floor below grade but this may create a drainage problem. The floor should be concrete or dirt.

You do not want direct sunlight on your anvil as it makes it difficult to judge heat. However, you may want good light on a bench or at the vise were you do detail work. You did not list a vise but this is used almost as much as an anvil in hot work. Note that you need swing space for the handle which is often over 12" long on blacksmiths leg vises.

In a tight wood building where hot work is being done I would sheet rock the areas near the forge, furnace and welding, then cover that with galvanized sheet metal for at least 24".

The problem in small building is there is a LOT of wasted space. Forges, kilns, melters do not do well in corners. You need access for long work, access space for long tools (tongs, pouring shanks). You need physical space for you and possibly a helper to work. Some items, such as the slack tub shown work well in corners.

The layout above is for a right hander. You manipulate the hot work with tongs in your left hand and hammer with the right. Above you only rotate a maximum of 90 degrees to go from forge to anvil or vise, usually less. The anvil needs to be away from the wall for overhand work.
   - guru - Monday, 08/10/09 13:51:57 EDT

I also have a 10 x 12 building, my forge and anvil are at the side of the building. The Guru is right, it gets hot as hell in the building, next summer I will have an air conditioner in it. Right now I have a tarp over the forge and anvil, but plan on building a lean to. I envy those with a spacious work area, but will have to make do for now.
   Mike T. - Monday, 08/10/09 13:58:04 EDT

Small Shop: Depends a whole lot on what you are going to be doing as your "Work": are you doing knives where a 10x12 is quite spacious for forging but restricted for finishing or will you be swinging 10' lengths of 1/2" stock around?

Will you be working mainly straight pieces where a metal rimmed "pass door" can really help deal with long pieces or do you plan to do a lot of scrolls needing 2D space?

Do you live in a cold climate where heating in the winter is a big problem or are you someplace where heat is the problem.

I really go for ventilation, my shop has two 10' x 10' roll up doors on opposing walls with the forge in between; but I'm in a hot area and like to feel the breeze most of the year!

My shop is currently 20x30; but the actually forging part of it is about 10x10 with tool rack on one side, forge and postvise on another and the anvils/cone/swageblock on the third. However I don't generally do work involving long pieces of stock.

So details please!

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/10/09 15:11:47 EDT

More small shop Many smiths stand behind the heel of the anvil. In that case the anvil above would be rotated 90 degrees with the horn pointed toward the wall.

My sketch above is not a true scale drawing. If you are concerned about space then make a scale layout and scale tools and equipment cutouts that you can arrange.

Personal space is important in shop design. Besides the equipment you need to have foot/body space and above that arm space or "elbow room". I draw these in with color or dotted line. A transparency with normal body space and reach is helpful. Handling hot items with tongs requires more space and things like crucibles require even more.

I think you are trying to squeeze too much into the space. It may work if you are VERY VERY careful and downright anal about storage space and equipment arrangement. In the above you can probably get away with the full bench shown and shelving on the far wall. In the typical low head room utility building there is not enough overhead clearance for shelves over the bench other tan very short shallow ones.
   - guru - Monday, 08/10/09 15:20:50 EDT

More Ventilation:

Currently I work in a shop that has a 12x12 foot (3.66 x 3.66 m) open door and the entire back of the shop 40x24 (12.2 x 7.3 m) is open. The roof which is fairly high is uninsulated tin. Even with all the ventilation it is almost unbearably hot in the summer without a forge fire. The problem is largely radiant heat off the tin. Even a layer of plywood would be better. It is something to think about. Insulate that ceiling and then COVER IT.

In my sketch above there are three vents. One for the side draft to take the bulk of the smoke. A hood above the forge to take away the stray smoke. Last a ventilator to remove the ceiling heat. The two on the forge are about the only way to have a smokless shop. The two large vents are roughly equivalent to one very large one. However, due to the efficiency of side draft vents I suspect it is even better.

Overhead hoods are very inefficient due to the amount of cold air they most move along with the hot. One with either a tall stake or a turbine will remove stray smoke but not all of it. So the plan above with two is probably the cleanest way to go.
   - guru - Monday, 08/10/09 15:53:07 EDT

Little Giant Foundation: George, Folks run these on everything from 4" unreinforced aged concrete to seperate foundations several feet deep.

If you are pouring a hammer foundation then you do not want gravel underneath. This will settle and the foundation tilt. Hammer foundations need to go to hard soil or pilings.

There is a lot of debate about the padding between concrete and hammer. In big hammers it acts like a spring cushioning the blow and reducing shock to the floor and surrounding building. In small hammers its value is debatable. Of more importance is the fit between the hammer base and the foundation. The wood is often used for a medium to carve to fit. Today you can do about as well with a large amount of silicon sealant. However, a separating gasket is a good idea if you want to be able to ever remove the hammer without a bif piece of foundation.

The other question is the goal. Some foundations are built to reduce vibration to surrounding buildings. This is largely dependent on soils types and water levels. We had a corespondent in the Netherlands that put in a very heavy isolation block foundation topped by the 5,000 base of a small Kuhn power hammer who had to remove it all and replace it all with an inertia block on springs and shocks. The original (recommended) foundation was acting like a big piston that was shaking the neighbors house so bad things were falling off the shelf. . .

   - guru - Monday, 08/10/09 16:07:33 EDT

Small shop:
As Thomas points out you don't mention your weather conditions.
However, getting rid of the of the smoke and fume is the most important.
In the Guru's sketch, if you were to make the windows along the bench wall and the wall opposit to it, as long as the wall its self and, from the top of the bench to the top of the wall high you might have enough air flow.
In other words if the upper half of the wall was hinged at the top and was able to swing up and lock in place you might have a very servicable shop building.
Have the framing stand in place and just the outer wall sheathing open up maybe.
In a space that size you probably will only do one activity at a time, forging or, ceramics or, casting and you could probably shuffle things around to get at and use the thing you want but, if the object of the building is to hide your activities from the neighbors and SWMBO well, as an organic air filtration unit goes, human beeings don't have a very long service life...
Another thing I would do is to find the nearest heating and cooling contractor and see if you can have the squirrel cage fan from an old furnace and mount it in your shop so that the exhaust/discharge end blows outside.
The big problem with this is that it will create a big problem with the draft of your forge flue so, you might just let the smoke run to the ceiling to be removed by the squirrel cage fan.
Either way you will need alot of make up air and, adding another 3-4' to your sidewall hight will do much for your comfort and health.
   - merl - Monday, 08/10/09 16:58:51 EDT

Gents: thank you so much for all of your feedback so far! Some specifics. First, I plan on doing mostly knives, chisels, gouges, hinges, etc. All as an adjunct to woodworking and bronze casting. So, I don't need a lot of swing space. The building itself will be hardiplank outside, with standard roof shingles on top. I'm thinking of adding radiant barrier to the inside roof. Thanks for all the warnings on ventilation.

The weather here: Houston, so very hot, very humid. But, my two choices are do it in the shed, or don't do it. I have half a garage I could use, but the OTHER half of the garage is all plane shavings and dry lumber.

In terms of general mess room, I am very meticulous where I work and am perfectly comfortable cramming a ridiculous number of tools into a very small and highly organized space. Will do on the squirrel cage blower.

Ventilation: Guru, can you recommend vent sizes from your sketch?
   JG - Monday, 08/10/09 17:28:20 EDT

JG... Use light colored shingles...
   - Dave Hammer - Monday, 08/10/09 17:39:14 EDT

JG, 12" vents if you can afford it. Stainless for coal smoke. If the forge is small then 10" might do. Galvanized holds up for a while but once it starts going even low sulfur coal EATS steel.

Besides smoke the bladesmith and foundry operations are also dust monsters and its mostly toxic or not good to breath. Grinders, grinders. . . MORE fans.

I understand the 10x12 limitation. Study the HOA rules carefully. As we have mentioned height helps a LOT. But many square footage rules overlook ventilation ports such as you see on restaurants or the external stack I show in the sketch. Anything you can add on to the outside legally reduces lost space inside. But these buildings are also supposedly "temporary" structures as well as limited in size. As in many things, you want to take the greatest advantage within the rules OR how they can be interpreted. If you are using propane it belongs outside as well setting on a brick paver. Plant lots of flowers around the shack. . .

A good source of lighting and ventilation is a raised ridge section with windows on the sides. Makes a nice looking building and has been used industrially and for schools for years. Being raised the heat rises into it and can be sucked out by a fan at the end of the structure.

As noted you need lots of ventilation. But you also need to be aware of the direction of the air movement. Forge hoods work great in static air but not so good in a breeze. If you do not have enough opening for makeup air a fan may pull the draft DOWN the smoke stack. . .

The idea of hinge out window shutters (awnings) is a good one. They keep rain out, shade from sun, let air in AND do not increase the legal size of the building even if you leave them open all the time.

I might consider putting ALL the hot stuff on the end wall. Build a fire bricked top bench with metal spark and heat guards the forge as part of the whole and the whole covered by a hood crossing the shop. Remember that hot stuff ends up on the floor and hot metal runs down hill. So the entire back wall would be covered as well as the sides for at least the bench depth. Store foundry sand under the bench.

Just some more thoughts.
   - guru - Monday, 08/10/09 18:13:03 EDT

JG, go to www.habairon.org and check out the meetings calendar. We would love to have you join us.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/10/09 18:16:13 EDT

On fans: While this may not apply to JG's situation a common welding setup is a bench with a bar grating top over an inverted hood and fan. Welding smoke is sucked DOWN and out rather than UP and past you face. Sputter balls and dust pile up in the bottom of the inverted hood and can be cleaned out via an end port when needed.

With enough fan you can operate a down draft forge. These used to be common in industrial shops, especially where there were overhead cranes and a vertical stack could not be used over a forge.

Don't foget to look into gravity operated louvers that close when the air is not blowing. These keep out birds, bats, insects. . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/10/09 18:21:48 EDT

Guru....thanks for info ....going with original design unless someone out there comes up with a different idea. I'm going with a 4 ft-6" wide and six foot long base with the rubber pad (called a horse trailer pad} very hard black rubber. Two layers of 4x4's at 90 degrees and the old 1/2 inch conveyor belt pad on top with the fifty pound little giant bolted to the top two 4x4 pads ..... trouble is the concrete is there and so is the building so tearing up the floor really isn't a good idea since i just moved in and my wife would wonder what the hell is going on..... thanks again and will look for anymore ideas
   George Robb - Monday, 08/10/09 19:17:24 EDT

Sir, I say that as a greeting of respect, I was raised that way a half century ago and the military did not help calling people sir go away as I got older :-) My question is about a post vise I bought several years ago. The leg and most of the parts of it are forged. The jaws are 4 to 5 inches across. My question has to do with the box. Yes I read your FAQ's so as to not mess up terminology too badly I hope. Anyway the box is a casting and it appears to be filled with babbit metal. There is even a plug in the end opposite the handle. The screw is shot and I was thinking of welding on some acme threaded rod. Have you ever seen a vise with babbit for the threaded in the box? I could be all wet but was thinking once you had the screw made it would be easy to center the screw in the box and pour molten babbit in where the plug is to form the female threads in the box. When it wore out you could heat the box to recover the babbit and pour it again. What do you think?

All the best,
Norm in Apache Junction, AZ
   Norm - Monday, 08/10/09 19:24:03 EDT

I have a stamp which reads: I Read The American Blacksmith Buffalo ny It is red and postage stamp size
found in a maggled 1920's book. I have searched Internet
and 1 local dealer whom had never seen the stamp before.
Any info would be helpful.
   John T - Monday, 08/10/09 20:50:33 EDT

Norm: That repair could work. If the old screw is wrought it might not weld so nice. An alternative to using babbit for the nut is to buy a nut to suit the threaded rod and weld it to pipe pieces to make the screw box. Scaffold jacks have a threaded rod an "nut" that could be used as well.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/10/09 21:30:10 EDT

JG, as the Guru points out your pouring area and waer the furnace actualy sits while in operation should have some kind of catch basin around it to catch molten metal in case of a miss pour or the loss of a crusible while in the furnace.
If the molten metal gets to the side wall your shop may go up in flames along with anything it is close to.
   - merl - Monday, 08/10/09 21:40:40 EDT

I would be carefull about adding the roof vents to the shed shop because you may end up sucking the make up air down the side draft. I have been in two blacksmithing schools where if the exhaust fans are run the forges don't draw properly. Personally I would be more inclined on a building like this to put a non turbine vent on the ceiling and then have an old furnace fan blowing air INTO the shop at floor level.
   - JNewman - Monday, 08/10/09 21:55:12 EDT

Acme threaded rod, go to use-enco.com pretty good pricing on rod and nuts
   - grant - Monday, 08/10/09 22:02:20 EDT

Leg Vise Repair: While these are plentiful try to save as many of the old parts and make new parts similar to the old. One day these will be hot collector's items. AND they are a valuable tool. Forged vices are still made and they are not cheap, nor are they as elegant as the old ones.

I think babbiting the nut/box threads was a once common repair. However, babbit is fairly soft and wears out quickly under this type load.

To do a classy repair the box would be bored out and an acme nut machined to fit and then brazed (sweated)in.

Note that many of these had pieced together boxes. A tube was forged and brazed together, the thread was a spiral coil that was also brazed in. The rest of the box was hand forged rings that were stacked on the tube and brazed together. If you machine this part OR braze new parts to it you need to be aware of the original construction and look how it reacts.

As noted the old wrought does not like being arc welded. It can be done but takes fill and repair. Leave as much of the original spindle as possible.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/11/09 00:00:24 EDT

Gents: thanks so much for your guidance thus far. I completely concur with the need to adequately metal sheild against spills.

A proposal for the forge: take the suck vent over the forge and the flue, Y them into 1 pipe coming up through a turbine or power vent. Additionally, a floor fan at the open door blowing air into the shed.

Btw: I've got a free power vent. The one in our attic is right above our bedroom and the wife can't stand it. In ten years, I've run it about twice, and the wiring is a nice little deathtrap anyway. Think I'll re-use that one.

Please school me on the dis/advantages of a downdraft forge? Also, do you all hang CO monitors? Would that be advisable here?
   JG - Tuesday, 08/11/09 08:54:24 EDT

In a tight space a CO monitor would be a good idea. But you may need to experiment with placement to avoid false warnings in the tight space.

The disadvantage of a power vent or down draft (either) is running hot corrosive coal smoke through it. Coal smoke contains sulfur that produces sulfur compounds in the smoke which is VERY corrosive. Many devices have a short life (months) when exposed to coal smoke. Many fans are also not suitable for hot flue gasses. Bearings fail, motors burn up.

Positively pressurizing your shack is much simplier than trying to prevent reversing the flow out of what are going to be relatively short stacks. A gable fan or a wall mount fan blowing in will do a good job even with doors and windows open. You can still use localized fans and vents if needed. The opposite fan will just help all the rest as well as the natural draft flues. Note that small centrifugal HVAC fans move a LOT of air and may be too much for this small building. Good ventilation and constant air exchange is one thing, but a wind blowing on your work is another.

Study the location of your shop. A shaded area or the side of the building near a forested area will have the cooler air for intake.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/11/09 10:45:16 EDT

God bless you Quenchcrack!!! Thats the one!!!
   - Jacob Lockhart - Tuesday, 08/11/09 12:17:14 EDT

I went to www.habairon.com and saw some instruments made by a smith. I know what calipers are but what are dividers and how do they work ?
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 08/11/09 17:12:47 EDT

Dividers have many uses and are the original mathematical and geometric layout tool. They are the same as a compass except they do not use a pencil point, they simply have very sharp points. Modern machinists dividers have hardened points that will scratch most unhardened metals. The scratch they make produces a very fine accurate layout. Their counterpart is the centre punch used to make point marks.

Dividers are used to divide straight lines into equal parts by trial and error and the transfer measurements. Dividers are used to layout circles and divide them geometrically or by trial and error in order to make gears and bolt patterns.

Having and knowing how to use dividers is an important part of being what was once called a "mechanic" (today a machinist) as well as a mathematician.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/11/09 18:43:30 EDT

Thank you for the information.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 08/11/09 20:56:42 EDT

So what's the best way to layout, say a bolt hole circle with dividers ??
   - Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 08/11/09 21:07:19 EDT

I think I got the Stupid Question of the week...I just chsnged motors on my surface grinder and can't remember which way the wheels sopposed to turn clockwise or counter??
It's a home modified machine, a Taiwanese imitation Haig that I converted to use a 2"x48" sanding belt with a single phase motor from China....The perfect machine for flat Damascus billets....thanks
   - arthur - Tuesday, 08/11/09 21:08:47 EDT

Surface Grinders: Most I have seen the wheels turned clockwise and grind from right to left. Typically this kiks work and swarf to the left. There should be stops or guards on that side.

If belt driven the motor turns the same way unless there is a twist in the belt.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/11/09 22:14:00 EDT

yeah thats the way I have it..The motors in the rear facing fowards so it turns CCW making the wheel from the front turn CW..Huh?
   - arthur - Tuesday, 08/11/09 22:31:13 EDT

   - guru - Tuesday, 08/11/09 23:18:47 EDT

Bolt Circle Layout: I have not done a lot of this for machine work. Most I have done is for drawings.

For machine work we usually use layout fluid to provide a thin blue surface that is easy to see scratches on.

The method depends on the number of divisions.

Six and multiples of six are the easiest. They start with the standard hexagonal layout which uses the exact same circles as the bolt circle. Mark the center, measure and scribe the bolt circle, mark a starting point (usually on a reference axis), carefully scribe a line from this point through the center and to the far side. Then use the divers AS SET to scribe an arc from the reference points on the bolt circle. Then from where they cross the circle check the others. When marks do not align then the true point is usually half way between them. Make very light punch marks and test again. When right you should be able to walk the dividers all the way around the circle.

Fours are a little trickier. Start as above making the circle, a point on one axis and then one 180 from the first. Then adjust the dividers to find a point on the circle half way between the two. This forms a right angle. The two sides should use the same distance if the first division (the arbitrary point and the opposite) are perfect. If not then you missed making the center line.
When these test perfectly then punch them lightly with a sharp 60° punch. Then if more holes are needed, using the dividers find points half way between the first four. As before each distance should be exactly the same on both sides or something is off.

ODD divisions and multiples of five are the hardest with three and five being the worst. When the number is divisible by 2, 4 or 6 then there are some points that do not require trial and error. These are those on the original axis and the perpendicular axis OR that fall on a hexagon (6). When you need 3 places you use the hexagonal method and ignore the extra points.

For divisions of 5 you use trial and error. Set the dividers to where you guess would be 1/3 or 1/5 (or use a protractor). Then from the origin walk the circle and adjust the divider more if short on the last leg and less if you overshoot the origin on the last leg. When you can walk the circle and not gain or lose then the distance is right. Make small arcs across the circle. Then reverse the direction and make small arcs. If the arcs do not coincide at the circle then something is amiss. The true points SHOULD be half way between the marks. Adjust and try again.

For multiples of odd numbers you divide the circle by the multiple first (2,3,4,6) and then divide those spaces by trial and error. Those points that are not determined by trail and error should not be moved as they are good geometrically correct points. You can divide one of these primary divisions and then the dividers SHOULD be correct to transfer to the next. Always test by walking backwards from the origin.

After layout the center points are deepened with a 60° punch and then opened with a 90° punch which a drill will follow better.

Accuracy comes from care, experience and sharp tools. Good quality dividers are a must. Hand laid out bolt circle locations are often accurate to better than +/-.005" (+/-0.13mm). As long as the bolt holes use standard clearances (about 3x the tolerance) then parts made at different times by different people will fit together.

Much of this type layout has become archaic in the modern shop. DRO's are used with coordinate positions. Once the center is found the rest is just dialing the numbers. However, there are often large parts that do not fit on the machine and parts with no center (rings) where a temporary center can be rigged OR a circle scribed by rotating the part on a turn table. Some of these jobs take imagination.

A good practice project for a student/apprentice is to make their own degree/radian (fractional PI) protractor. After cutting out the shape (laid out with dividers) the rest is done with dividers, a scribe and sharp chisel. A beveled edge on the protractor (not quite sharp) makes it more accurate to read.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/11/09 23:19:01 EDT

Dave and Guru, Thanks for the information and help with the leg vise. I will have to check once I melt out the old babbit metal to see if it was repaired that way and there are the remains of old threads inside. I have an old South Bend 9 inch lathe so maybe I could machine what I need. I have a friend who used to be a steam fitter/blacksmith by trade in the midwest and he has offered to help me build a fire and show me a few things about forging. Thanks for your knowledge and answers. I will keep checking in to anvilfire.com it is a great website. All the best, Norm....in sunny Arizona waiting for the first signs of fall....the snow birds startin' to migrate back in :-)
   Norm - Wednesday, 08/12/09 00:45:40 EDT

Dividers and Protractors:

degree radian protractor
Degree Radian Protractor

I always thought that making one of these as a math or apprentice machinist/metalworker project would be a good idea. It provides practice and mental exercise while demystifying measurement tools. All the early measuring tools were made with dividers and hand layout methods. But fairly early on machine dividing took over. Screws and gears made perfect mechanical divisions and we have not looked back. . .

But the exercise of starting with the simplest of tools then moving on to making a measuring tool requires some thought and teaches problem solving. This project also gives one a feel for radians which are not used in daily practice but are thrown at us in computer math and other places late in our educations. It also teaches one the importance of learning the basic fractions of PI (which I did not).

Converting radians (the true metric standard for circular division) into fractions (the arch enemy of metericists) also proves the fallacy of the metric system being non-fractional. Try building something without using the radians 0.5pi, 0.333 . . .pi, .25pi and .1666 . . .pi. Fractions of an irrational number no less. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/12/09 00:49:43 EDT

Oh, man. I saw some show where they were talking about the Masons and they referred to to the Masonic symbol as a "compass and T square"! Can't trust what you see on the tube.
   - grant - Wednesday, 08/12/09 00:58:41 EDT

OR, Make dividers, make a straight edge, then use those to make a protractor. You could also mark the protractor into gon's or grads and mils. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/12/09 01:01:15 EDT

For dividing circles, I use the same basic method you described Jock, but I use two sets of dividers. One set is used to swing arcs to determine cardinal points, i.e. 90, 180, 270 & 360 degrees, and the other is used to divide segments in half by laying out perpendicular bisections of the arc chords. (I think I have all those terms correct - I slept through geometry forty years ago.)

The second set of dividers really comes in handy when stepping off divisions by T&E. Once I get the divisions so they are consistent both ways around the circle, I can then use the other set for dividing them with the bisections. If all is correct, all the bisections will extend to the point of origin of the circle, of course. The first set of dividers is unchanged and so can be used to transfer points if needed.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/12/09 05:48:59 EDT

can talc be use as a dry lubricant in electric motor, wire brushes, conveyors, shaft, chain, sprocket,and sealed bearings
   isaac jonah - Wednesday, 08/12/09 08:29:55 EDT

how can we use talc as a dry lubricant
   isaac jonah - Wednesday, 08/12/09 08:41:06 EDT

I remember when the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate in December of that year. Does anyone know what happened to that law???
Guru, Paul Quale, a California blacksmith from Murphys published an article titled "Dividing Circles" in the California Blacksmith magazine. Using dividers and a chordal values chart with diagrams he describes what you are talking about.
Sorry, Cal Blacksmith didn't print the magazine date on it's pages. Maybe they will start now.

   Carver Jake - Wednesday, 08/12/09 10:06:45 EDT

The metric system they adopted was called the SI, and was a refinement of older versions of the metric system. I think it would be a lot easier for the kids to learn math with metrics.
   Carver Jake - Wednesday, 08/12/09 10:12:23 EDT

Talc is used as a lubricant and additive to oils for many purposes. I have no expertise in its use other than on skin and it is not recommended as it tends to clog pores (corn starch is better for this in general). However, scuba divers and others use it to help get into wet suits.

I use talc (ground soapstone) as an additive to plaster for making molds.

Uses as a lubricant can be looked up on google.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/12/09 11:03:13 EDT

Dear sir,i am a swords maker,i received an order in party required the riveted swords on tang.there is problem that the sword of carbon steel is tomuch hard,we wre unable to riv
   nayeem akhter - Wednesday, 08/12/09 11:23:03 EDT

Dear sir,we have an order of swords,party required rivted sword on tang carbon steel is hard we are unable to do rivted it .have you any method to do the tang soft?if you have an idea kindly send us.
   nayeem akhter - Wednesday, 08/12/09 11:26:39 EDT

Tangs should not be hardened and if hardened they should be drawn (tempered) quite soft. This will allow the pommel of a sword to be riveted on by peening the tang tip. Keeping the tang softer also helps prevent tangs breaking during use/abuse.

If it is not the pommel that needs riveting could you give more information on exactly what needs to be riveted?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/12/09 11:55:23 EDT

Hey i am a student at curlew jobcorps working towards my highschool dipolma and i am working on my senior project and i chose metalworking as my topic i was wondering if you had any great info that would help me out. Id like to know where it got started the history cronological stuff mostly just what you think might help i cant just use the internet as my only source. So i am kind doing a curve around the internet to get to a live source of info if you got any it would help me out alot tell me if you need to know more about what i need thank you.
   Wes - Wednesday, 08/12/09 12:57:37 EDT

Metalwork: Wes, For some rough historical background see our story page "Ray Smith's Notebook of Metalworking Origins". While this series is not complete it gets to the starting point.

There is also a website titled the "The History of Welding" which is pretty good.

Soon after you get into studying metalwork it becomes very diverse and you need to focus on one area or another. Forging and foundry work are quite different. Machining starts later and has a distinct history (See our eBook page and see James Nasmyth an Autobiography. Nasmyth was an important inventor at the height of the industrial revolution and his biography includes many of the developments that predated him as well as work of contemporaries. It is worth reading the whole thing.

You will find you need to tighten your topic of study a lot to do a properly completed student project. Good luck!
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/12/09 13:36:47 EDT

The ASM published a lot of "Story of Metals" type books way back when. I was given some by a retired metallurgist; but would have to cite them from home.

You may want to look into the archeological metallurgy mailing list arch-metals as well.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/12/09 13:58:34 EDT

Quick question for the gurus: I have a hand tool I want to make out of 4140. One end will be harder than the other, and I have worked out in my mind how to do the multiple heat treatments. What I need to know is the temperature I need to draw temper on the softer end at.

This end is going to be a fairly beefy spike which needs to be very tough. It needs to be able to punch through wood, thin sheet metal, tires, cinderblocks, etc. without appreciable damage. I don't know what Rockwell number to estimate it at since I have no experience dealing with Rockwell numbers. What temperature do I draw temper at for this? Thanks.
   - Stormcrow - Wednesday, 08/12/09 14:22:43 EDT

Stormcrow. 4140 is not normally used at very high hardnesses but is very tough. It is normally oil quenched and full hardness is about 37-40HRc. Always temper to at least a very pale yellow. Temper the rest to at least a blue (600°F).

Alternately you can selectively harden just the point, polish the very end and let the heat in the body of the spike rise until you get some temper color then quench to stop the tempering. This will give you a soft tough tool with a very hard point.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/12/09 16:37:46 EDT

Nayeem Akhter,

If you are riveting slabs to a flat tang, you can spot anneal the places you need to drill by chucking a piece of steel rod in the drill press and running it on the spot to be drilled. The rod should have a flat end and heavy pressure is required so that friction will build heat at the point of contact. When the spot turns dark blue or grey color it is soft enough to be drilled with a good quality bit.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 08/12/09 16:39:19 EDT

Now THATS a solution that never would have occurred to me; Brilliant!
Thanks VI Copper
   Charlie Spademan - Wednesday, 08/12/09 17:41:49 EDT

What metal gives off white smoke, burns in a greenish yellow, leaves behind yellow and white depoists and makes a silkworm cocoon like substance that wafts around everywhere?
   Nabiul Haque - Wednesday, 08/12/09 18:40:06 EDT

Nabuul, Zinc. See our iForge saftey articles at the top of the iForge page
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/12/09 18:46:38 EDT

Its safety demo III
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/12/09 18:50:46 EDT

>.> I was afraid of that, I stayed away from most of the smoke, but I was able to smell it a few feet away through an n95 filter.
   Nabiul Haque - Wednesday, 08/12/09 18:56:20 EDT

Nabiul, a N95 is a good filter, but for zinc and other metal fumes you need a N100 or if oil mist may also be present a P-100 ( the N100 is about 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of a P-100) if oil is not a threat, go with the N.)
For reference, in my half mask, I have N100 pancake filters to protect against dust, rust dust, and weld fume. The N1-- is also good for fibers that present a risk.

Now everybody listen up! When you smell a hazard through the filters you are NOT being protected. You have at that point either reached break through or have the wrong filter for the threat, and need to vacate the area right then.

Safety Guy out.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/12/09 19:43:53 EDT

Hammer Progress:

power hammer parts

We are making slow progress on the power hammer project we started last spring and expected to have finished for the Hammer-In. . . it was somewhat of a disaster. So here we are 18 months later still plugging at it.

The parts above are the connecting rod with adjustment screw. Bronze bushings in background. The toggle connector block and nuts shown relative to spring (1 of 2) with bushings. The green part is the nylon guide strip. Note dividers. . .

The screw has a plain section fitted inside the knuckle and will be welded on. Afterwords the bushings get pressed in and reamed to fit the crank pin (yet to be made). Machining of these parts is being done with a large drill press, a 4x6 saw and a 6" Craftsman lathe. . . The lathe is undersized for all this but it works (slowly).

One thing that is taking extra time is we are building two hammers at once. While this is not a lot extra it adds up when you are working a few weekends a month. My partner in crime is also not a machinist and is learning to operate the lathe as we go. When we started we had more helpers who were also learning as they went.

We only have a few more machining operations left and then we will be able to start trail assembly. One frame is welded up and the stock is cut for the second. Main shafts and flanges are done AND the wheels modified. We have some minor machining to do one the ram spring attachments and the crank pins to make. It was a LOT of parts to make.

One thing we have missed is having a good belt grinder in the shop. If I had known how many times it would have sped up and made jobs better I would have stopped and built one first. THAT is our next project when the hammers are done and tested. The recent discussion on grinders was very helpful and when we are done we will add our project to the information above.

Spare time. . . what spare time. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/12/09 20:39:43 EDT

I need to thank and mention Dale and ViCopper for their help at the hammer-in when we were hopelessly trying to get one of the hammers ready. Dale did a great job drilling and taping some big 3/4" holes in the crank wheels and Rich helped get my big old lathe setup and hand carved the angular holes in the rocker blocks for the hammer. With help like these guys we would have had the hammers finished in a couple more days.
   - guru - Friday, 08/14/09 09:20:00 EDT

Thanks for the photo of the nice parts. You are obviously a professional. Is there a chance you might draw the parts all connected? I'm having a hard time understanding where they go. Thanks a lot
   mike s - Friday, 08/14/09 09:53:21 EDT

Guru: you talked about the corrosive nature of coal smoke. Does the same apply to coke? I've noticed that coke doesn't have the smell of coal and is thus more neighbor friendly thus I was landing on that as a "lower impact" fuel.

Also, I have a willow tree off of which I lop an 8 or 9" dia x 10' limb every couple of years. I can make that into charcoal. I can also coat the fan blades w/epoxy but of course that doesn't help the motor and reduces the fan performance somewhat.
   JG - Friday, 08/14/09 11:42:31 EDT

Quenchcrack: "acid rain" is actually sulfurous acid, not sulfuric acid. Producing sulfuric acid from the burning of sulfur compounds is actually quite a challenging pain in the rear even if you are willing to catalyze using intensely toxic Vanadium Pentoxide.
   JG - Friday, 08/14/09 11:44:39 EDT

Hammer linkage: Mike this one is a unique new arrangement that while I KNOW it will work needs to be tested before we make all the details public. I will probably offer plans but this in no JunkYard Hammer.
   - guru - Friday, 08/14/09 11:56:19 EDT

Coke and Sulfur: I think most of the sulfur is cooked out of foundry coke but I do not know about blacksmithing coke which is a softer variety. I suspect it is there but in lower quantities.

Coating fan blades with epoxy would probably put it so out of balance that the life would be even shorter. . .

Which acid is produced by blowing steam through a bed of coke???

Charcoal is a very clean burning option. I've seen it used in well ventilated shops with no stack or vent. Fire fleas is a problem in some varieties of charcoal or partially coalled charcoal.
   - guru - Friday, 08/14/09 12:04:12 EDT

Making sulfuric acid cannot be too tough. It was one of the earliest reagents known to alchemists and early industrial users.
   - guru - Friday, 08/14/09 12:21:43 EDT

Swedish iron was sought after laregely because it was made with charcoal, and didn't have the sulfur present in iron from coke-fired furnaces. So coke must have some sulfur in it, although quite likley a lot less than raw coal.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/15/09 08:13:19 EDT

A charmingly naive question: I am just awaiting the delivery of my 25Kg Anyang. Does a 25kg hammer deliver the same force as a 25Kg sledgehammer would? Or is it sort of backing off as the blow is struck?
   philip in china - Saturday, 08/15/09 09:13:40 EDT

Can charcoal get hot enough to weld with ? I know back during the Civil War, Union troops would lay rail on bonfires, get them hot, and then bend them around telegraph poles, so I'm thinking it would.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 08/15/09 12:26:19 EDT

Charcoal: Mike, Yes. Iron was actually made with charcoal, charcoal was THE fuel for a couple thousand years or more and charcoal can melt iron to make cast iron.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/15/09 12:44:31 EDT

Hammer vs. Hammer: Phillip, No, not by a long shot, the velocity is much lower. However, it hits many times a minute more frequently than even a team of strikers IF they could weild a hammer than big. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 08/15/09 12:46:45 EDT

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