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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 September 1 - 30, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, asylum at of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

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    After posting and clicking on return, the page will automaticly reload and display your entry. If not then, click on LastPost after the file reloads. Your question will be answered as soon as possible.

    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    All the Nazels I've had and worked on had dies that were not symetrical. One question I have is: WHY? Why do you want to reverse them? usually a pretty good radius on the side opposite the wedge. If the top die shifts even a little, you can wipe out the guide and the leather seal! Not on my hammer!

    grant -- nakedanvil at Wednesday, 09/01/99 00:34:37 GMT

    Re video editing
    I play with this a bit and there are some available on the web
    "fast movie processor" is good just for adding a few avi's together

    full editors are -"personal avi editor"


    And please dont put any avis on the web they are way too big and not worth the download for the amount of video u get
    I can send u 2 programs 1 for mpeg conversion and 1 for vivo conversion , vivos are amazing , very small but people will need to download a plyer to view them
    look forward to seeing the movies

    shannell -- sjs at Wednesday, 09/01/99 00:51:32 GMT

    Shannell, Thanks, I'll check it out. I am generally pretty picky about the size of things we put on the page. I hate pages that you can have lunch while they load (ironic since THIS needed to be archived two weeks ago. . ). The anvil firing clip I have is a GREAT 5-7 seconds. Playback from the Iomega stuff crashed my workstation (450Mghz, 256Mb, 8Mb Vid) that can run DVD's, CAD software, mailer and web browser simultaneously without dedgradation of performance! But I couldn't run or edit that one little video clip! Got a bunch more if we can get it working!

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/01/99 01:36:30 GMT


    Want me to tailor my next system to video production?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 09/01/99 01:43:35 GMT

    Grant and bruce, On my 1b There was no pin when I got it, and I had to have new dies cut.I didn't know about the pin so I didn't put one in. I can rotate te dies 180 degrees with no problem.It's important to have a good fit on the keys of course. Since the guides were trashed when I got it I dont worry to much about that.uh...when I had my first set of dies cut There was a two inch piece left over which had the dovetail cut. The short piece sat around for a year or so. Then I got this revelation to make top and bottom dies. I put the short die in the ram and bolt tooling to it,The whoe thing fits into the ram cylinder.Then bolt tooling to the bottom with a saddle arrangement. I have done considerable die forging with this arrangement( railing pickets,and posts)and it works quite well.I make my dies from mild steel and case harden with 'Tuff&Hard'.I'm not sure I would use the mild steel on a bigger hammer, but it works great on the 1b.

    Kirk McNeill -- kirk at Wednesday, 09/01/99 02:33:31 GMT

    Ref. on all the ways for power hammer foundations. Whatever works for you is O.K. Here is what works for me. 50 lb Little Giant. two layers 4x4 wood nailed crisscross to each other and framed around with 2x8. sets on concrete floor...6 inch slab...wood pad has 2 angle irons on ea. side bolted to floor to stop any side movement. A piece of conveyor belt between hammer and wood. 15 years use and still works. Very easy to move when the time comes. Unbolt angle irons and forklift blade slides under and go....300 lb Chambersburg self contained...10,000 lbs total weight... bolted to original 4x8 oak shipping pallet with 8 inches of oak timber stuffed underneath and nailed together with 20 penny spikes.. same angle iron setup for concrete floor except 4 on ea. side. sits on a 6 inch slab, no breakage. no bad vibration problems, hits as hard as i need it to, and also moves easy when the time comes. Been used this way since 1990 and moved three times, with no problems. also has been used on a cracked 4inch slab and pictures before and after show no changes in cracks of floor. NO, it does not get the use that Grant would give it, but i forge a normal amount of iron for an arch. blacksmith shop. one job was for a 8,000 bottle wine rack, i forged over 3/4 of a mile of 1inch sq. barand just under 1 mile of 1/4 x1 1/4 and 1/4 x 1 1/2. Huge isolated cubes of concrete are o.k. for those who want them, i have not found the need for them as yet

    Smokey -- smokey at Wednesday, 09/01/99 03:38:21 GMT

    Kirk, I have heard of mild steel and case harding dies. I don't think it's something I would want to do for a bigger hammer or dies for heavy production. I make my dies out of H-13 and even after a long run they wash out. The nice thing with H-13 is it's easy to heat treat and it weldable. The welding adds some new like to washed out dies.

    When I had my 50Lb. Little Giant it didn't have any pins. I thought I could get away with out them on my Bradley 100Lb. Compact. I soon found it not to be true. The Bradley it a much harder hitting hammer that needs pins. I can tell you for sure that the Bradley also hits harder than a 1B. I'm doing a job right now that is better suited for my Bradley then our 1B. Matter of fact the work is right at it's limit for the Bradley. Looking to up grade to a bigger hammer.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 09/01/99 03:54:00 GMT

    Rotasting dies- This hammer has half and half dies which are pretty handy. By rotating the dies the flat portion is in front,A little easier to work tools under. The top die fits the tup and lines up with the bottom die when reversed. It requires a left handed key. the pin is the only thing that will be different. should we take a vote?

    John Careatti -- john.careatti at Wednesday, 09/01/99 11:47:43 GMT

    There's a smith of sorts living in Northern California... he's an ex-NASA tech, and he adapted some of the technology they use to make shuttle and probe parts into making other things. It's a subsonic molding technology, works on a molecular level. I lost track of him about five or six months ago when I was talking to him about having two blades made. It's not actually blacksmithing, but it's close, so I thought that you might be able to either track him down or at least give me a better idea of where to look. His prices are hideously expensive, but the blades are worth it enough that I'm willing to pay the money. Anyone who has any clues, please email me and let me know.

    Ziyadah Iceblade -- ziyadah420 at Wednesday, 09/01/99 17:14:45 GMT


    Do you remember his name?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 09/01/99 17:52:03 GMT

    Please refer me to a source(s) for a simple wrought iron bender & jigs including twists, or plans for building one. This is for hobby use, not for commercial production at this time.

    Dan Cathey -- DAN-CROWLEYFEED at Wednesday, 09/01/99 20:12:19 GMT


    Harbor Freight tools sells a Taiwan Knock off of a Hossfield bender for less than $100. The picket twister is additional, but the total would still be under $150, if I remember correctly. I just bought the bender and it's a lot better made than I expected.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 09/01/99 20:32:52 GMT

    Ziyadah...that wouldn't have happened to be Jim Batson would it?

    Bob -- robert_miller at Wednesday, 09/01/99 21:08:26 GMT

    Benders, Dan see our article on benders on the 21st Century page. Most projects with scrolls end up needing custom benders. They are so easy to make that few blacksmiths purchase commercial benders and those that DID rarely use them. . .

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/01/99 21:32:53 GMT

    Guru, in researching 303 grade stainless steel, I found that they do not recommend welding "except at low temperatures". What does this mean? I figured melting is melting. Should I forget this alloy and try to find 304? Thanks.......

    Craig -- schaefc at Wednesday, 09/01/99 22:56:32 GMT

    Looking to buy anvil. Just getting started in blacksmith as hobby and retirement activity. Making articles for family, friends and farm use. Could you suggest type, size, etc. of anvil recommend?
    Thanks Travis.

    Travis -- TRAVISDEEN at Wednesday, 09/01/99 23:24:27 GMT

    Hola Guru,
    I recently picked up an anvil. On the side of the anvil is stamped: Hand Wrought. Below that is "B.I.C." in larger letters and below that is, "OMAHA". Below that is "1_ 9" which I believe is the weight because It weighs about 107 lbs. on my bathroom scale. On the foot of the anvil are the numbers 83 71. Is there any way to find out more about this anvil such as Date of manufacture, Quality, and company name, etc.?
    The new book on anvils is too expensive for my pocketbook. Thanks for your attention to my question, Yours in iron,

    Pablo Duval -- Paulduval at Thursday, 09/02/99 00:47:51 GMT

    Regarding your quest for a PC based Video editor. Check out the Trinity system at
    I a familiar with their image grabber from video & think that they've got their electronic ducks in a row.


    Alan Gering -- bradley at Thursday, 09/02/99 04:33:40 GMT

    Hey there old wise one,brilliant of all Sii-ebbes,you Son-A-Va,.?/]~`24356789093????zzzz gunn!!!Hows the old "Thumb in the Dike" project coming alomg?So much for public relations and fellowship for now.Also I like to say I am more fond of this site bar none.There is more technical blacksmithing backround information share here than with any other forum. Question # 1. Since I smith under the stars and under the sun,I would like to know what surface would be better to stand on instead of the trampled grass,I am standing on now?Many moons ago you suggested on a mixture of pea gravel and something else to be spread and firmed for under foot.Could you explain if this same mixture would be beneficial in the area I am speaking of?If not I would still like the formula so just in case I mite use it inside a future constructed shop. Question # 2. I just read resently a concern stating coal could possible be slightly radioactive being it could come in contact with it in the ground,in some locales and many contain some radon.Do you think this should be a comcern of mine? I just broke the ice and decided to take the liberty of posting!!!I know this is a bold move on my part but you realize I had to ween myself from "the apron string"-(non-posting questions). The Bub-Nervous as a "lady of the evening",in church!!!

    BUB -- hagiumetti at Thursday, 09/02/99 11:48:59 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I have not as yet received your answer(message sent 08/23/99)
    Im running out of gas keeping the forge hot in anticipation.
    I do not hope that the problem is with my computer at this end.
    I realize that you are very busy. Regards Rowan.

    Rowan -- rmsmith at Thursday, 09/02/99 12:38:42 GMT

    Thank you for the reply and the reference. Most useful.

    Bill Lamp -- bill.lamp at Thursday, 09/02/99 13:27:59 GMT

    I am interested in finding out how to shod a walking stick I am making ( Out of wood) in iron. Do you have any information on how I would go about this?

    John Kavanaugh -- cpaf at Thursday, 09/02/99 17:15:15 GMT

    I'm not sure of his name anymore... Jim sounds about right, but all of the contact info I had was lost when my computer crashed. As far as I know he's the only one that uses the technique.

    Ziyadah Iceblade -- ziyadah420 at Thursday, 09/02/99 18:16:07 GMT

    John Kavanaugh.

    I recently did the same job for a friend at the museum where I smith. I used a piece of 3/4" tubing, 1 1/2" long. Heated it up and spren one end on the horn of the anvil just a LITTLE bit. Drove it onto the stick. That was early this summer, late spring. He's hiked with it all summer long, it's still in place and doing fine.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 09/02/99 19:50:21 GMT

    Rowan, Sorry! That was a busy day and I missed a few questions. Common 304 Stainless can be bent hot or cold. It can also be forged. It needs to be worked hot as it gets tougher at a low red heat than when it is cold! Worked hot in the forge it gets the same blue/black color as carbon steel. Generaly this coating of scale is just as rust resistant as the clean metal. It can be waxed to darken, high spots can be buffed to produce striking highlights. Stainless DOES get rust stained but this is most often caused by contamination with carbon steel. Be sure your anvil is clean and free of scale or small particles of carbon steel.

    304 is not hardenable by heat treating but does work harden. To anneal it is heated and quenched (reverse of carbon steel).

    -- guru Thursday, 09/02/99 20:34:46 GMT

    Hey BUB! I'm surprised grass would grow where either of US stand! :) Most years the problem is the MUD hole created where we stand (not THIS year). . . I think that mixture was just pea gravel and sand about 50/50. This may disappear pretty quick if used in a small patch outdoors.

    One way to reduce the mud, keep a cushioned surface AND maintain your lawn is by setting a piece of plastic (fiber-glass) bar-grating in the ground and raking dirt back into the holes. The grating is normaly green and has a traction surface. Grass will still grow, you can mow over it, but you can't make mud! The grass will still get trampled but there won't be a mud hole in wet weather or a dust pit in dry. The grating is often available from your steel supplier. It is designed to replace steel bar grating in corrosive environments (so it is not cheap).

    Yes, most coal DOES give off a little Radon gas. Probably not as much as the red brick in your fireplace and you will be exposed to a great deal more if you smoke! If you have one of those large old basment coal bins then you might want to have it checked with a homeowner's radon test kit (while full of coal). The only place radon gas is a problem is in a closed space such as a basement that is not ventilated over a long time. Even then, as a very low level radiation source, making it a possible carcenogen, it would take many years of chronic (daily) exposure before becoming a significant risk factor. As an adult you have little to worry about. Small children raised in basement apartments that are poorly ventilated AND have radon gas buildups are the only real group at risk.
    - Personaly, I worry more about the indescrimenent use of synthetic pesticides and food additives that I can't pronounce than microscopic amounts of radiation that has always been a natural part of our environment.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/02/99 22:06:07 GMT

    Having spent part of my youth forging out of doors, I agree mud holes are a problem. I used oak pallets to serve the same purpose as the bar grating. Of course the lawn was optional.

    John Careatti -- john.careatti at Friday, 09/03/99 16:11:31 GMT

    I need to find a top quality metalworker in the Richmond, VA area for a good size project - I am a architect.

    Mary -- lorinomp at Friday, 09/03/99 19:40:21 GMT

    Helo Guru,
    I'm sorry if you already received this message - this is new to me. I need to find a metalworker in the Richmond Va area - I am a architect and have a particular project in mind. Thanks

    Mary -- lorinomp at aol Friday, 09/03/99 19:44:39 GMT

    Howdy I'm just a hillbilly from Mo. I found an old forge in a ditch on the back of my wife's Grandfathers farm and gave it a good going over. First factory made forge I have ever used. My wife just bought another from an old woman that she spied under some junk and asked about. Now I have two forges and know near nothin' about them. Both are made by champion blower and forge and are table models. The first is a big one about 3.5ft. x 5ft. with an offset arm for the hand crank blower and a tank on the side. the second has the blower mounted underneath with a wooden arm running leather strap on a flywheel to run the blower. It is around 2ft. x 3ft. I don't know anything about these but I would like to have some idea of their value,(not that they will ever leave my farm) and about when they were built. I've collected up a lot of old cast iron (junk) like these to fill my sheds barn and stuff so I guess I should try to find out about them. Thank you much for your time Bill

    Bill Jarvis -- wildbill_60 at Friday, 09/03/99 19:47:43 GMT

    Mary, Info coming via. e-mail.

    -- guru Friday, 09/03/99 20:34:44 GMT

    Bill, your forges are classics and still in use by many blacksmiths. These type of forges were made from the mid 1800's until the early 1900's. Value depends on who's buying and who's selling. I hate to put prices on these type of items because it is easy to escalate prices. Get a catalog from Centaur Forge or Kayne and Son and see what new forges are going for. For blacksmiths the value is somewhere between scrap price and new. For collectors its hard to tell. We blacksmiths are in a funny market. We compete with collectors and museaums for working tools. You would not believe how many 200-300 tools are being used daily in blacksmith shops.

    -- guru Friday, 09/03/99 22:55:09 GMT

    MORE on MUD HOLES: Sand works well. Handiest thing on a construction site (a LOT better than saw dust). Trellis material works too.

    The plastic bar grating was a high tech solution. One of the things that concrete does (besides being hard) is absorb heat from your feet. The lower density plastic is much less of a conductor of heat. Unlike wood it won't rot so it is a fairly permanent solution.

    -- guru Friday, 09/03/99 23:18:02 GMT

    Please respond to my e-mail below :)

    Hi mr Guru, I am a potter with one semester of metalsmithing. I have all the tempatures for the semiprecious metals .... somewhere... But that won't hel this delema. I am required to make a sculpture for a ceramics teacher that at the last minneute deciced to become a sculpture teacher..!!.. Well, I wanted to make a man out of clay hollow donughts, and have him holding a plate that is full of stuff, weighing down on him.. (stuff will probably be no more than 15 pounds or so) Realised that in leather hard state (almost dry) the body of the sculpture can't hold this weight with out some sort of support, so I figured that since the stuff on the plate is weighing down on him, why not put him in jail too. I quickly came up with the idea to use metal for the bars..

    Now I am stuck!!! What metal will not bend when heated to almost 1040F?? And the metal that you tell me what is it's highest tempature?? It should be easy enough to get quickly. And be able to be no larger than two fat majicmarkers put together. Lightish is good, but I am think not real possibul.. Will Steel do it?? Or Stainless steel?? Or is there something better??

    Vual at Aol.Com
    Please resopnd to my e-mail

    Anji -- Vual at Aol.Com Saturday, 09/04/99 01:49:22 GMT

    Oh Si-Ebbe your knowledge has no boundaries!!!Thank you for your and enlightenment and guidence.Si-Ebbe Oh Si-Ebbe,I have so many questions to ask you.Please be patient with me. Question No.4)Out with my grape vines the tribe is saying post vises should to be mounted at anvil altitude to be more functional.In your "Order" is this a reasonable course of action? Question no.5)Boy once I get the boys fired up,in the tribe,they will not shut up!!!Their saying now that machinist vises should be mount at elbow height for more of a convience.Si-Ebbe please,please steer us down the right path? Question no.6)Well I had to through a "spoke in their wheel" to simmer them down.I asked them how height a forge should be compared to a body part height so it would be more comfortable and conveince to use.Holly cow did get awful quiet all of a sudden!!!It was so quiet that we all could here the nats circling our heads at high speeds.So there,there is a limit to their knowledge "Oh Great One".Sorry for being so inquisitive Si-Ebbe but I feel I should take the responsibly to know for me and for the benefit of all the tribe.They are so childish,they are frighten to confront you with a question "Oh High Mighty One". So long for now,from the the Rusty BUB,on the link,of the chain of command.

    BUB -- hagiumetti at Saturday, 09/04/99 02:42:18 GMT

    Anji -- Vual at Aol.Com, I think you have mistated the required temperature in Fahrenhiet instead of Celsius. 1040C = 1904F Almost all metals lose the ability to support a load at this temperature.

    You could go to a welding supplier and purchase tunsgten welding electrodes. They will take the heat and are commonly available. Platinium (and other equally expensive rare metals)is your only other choice.

    The problem you are going to have is the differential in thermal expansion between the metal and clay. Its a VERY trick design issue.

    THE solution(s). It is common in ceramics to make individual pieces and bisque fire them for strength. THEN assemble them with glazes (or unfired clay pins) and fire again. Glass bearing glazes will weld the parts together. Two things to be aware of here are that the clay becomes weak again at firing temperature and the glaze can slipery be like oil when melted. It is also possible to design a sculpture that is not self supporting verticaly but can be worked and fired horizontaly. After firing the thin sections (a figures legs) will have the strength to carry considerable load. Besides making the sculpture from multiple pieces and bisque firing I would want to be sure the plate of fruit is as light as possible. This may require making the pieces hollow (good practice anyway) but carving out the insides OR making your own molds and casting the pieces from clay slip.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/04/99 13:26:39 GMT

    VISE and OTHER TOOL HEIGHTs: Bub, Post vises are already designed with a leg that sets their height above the ground. However, that height was set when the average worker was shorter and blacksmiths and machinists the shortest of the lot. In actuality this may not have always been true but the tools were designed that way. The correct height is the one that is comfortable for you and the type of work you do.

    If you do large heavy work your vises and benches may want to be low so that the hieght of the work ON the bench is comfortable. If you do a lot of small picky work the vise or bench may want to be higher. Normally the way we compensate for this is by standing to do large work and sitting to do small work. If you have only one vise then it should be positioned so that it is comfortable for both sitting and standing. The stool or chair you use then becomes part of your equipment.

    In my shop I have a large heavy (150#) chipping vise set on a tall bench that puts the top of the jaws at about 52" (1320mm). It is great for work you want to SEE and still comfortable for sawing and filing. I'm 5'8.5" (1740mm). It also works great for holding benders because you are pulling at shoulder height. I also have post vises set at the standard (OEM) height. These work well for hammering while standing or doing fine filing or torch work while sitting.

    Forge heights vary too. When anvils were made by hand, anvil forges have their twyeer set in the floor so that the hot anvil could be skidded out of the fire and worked on the floor. Jewler's, watch and clockmakers forges were set as high as 48" (1220mm) off the floor and were used for both small foundry work and forging. Again the point is it should be comfortable for YOU. I suspect that something just a little higher than the anvil is about average. Commercial forges set the height for you so there is no choice.

    The correct anvil height is set by your build, where your arms hang. However, for fine work many older smiths are finding that their eyesight is also a factor. Vise height is set by the type of work you do and it helps to have several set at different heights. Forge height is less critical but it should be comfortable for you.

    More important than height is relative location. You should have a post vise set about the same distance from the forge as your anvil. Close enough that you can turn (pivot on one foot) and place the work in the vise without taking at step is perfect. This is about 5'(1500mm) from the forge and not so close that proximity to the fire is a problem.

    Find what is comfortable and efficient for YOU and the work you do.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/04/99 14:43:56 GMT

    I would like to build a forge out of an old gas grill. I would like to use coal for heat, what would I line the grill with. I've heard fire brick or potters clay.

    scott -- XTYLORX at Saturday, 09/04/99 15:31:57 GMT

    Scott, Some gas grills are made of cast iron and would make a fair forge. Others are made from aluminium and won't take the heat lined or not. See the instructions on the plans page for building a brake drum forge for the conversion info you are looking for. Almost any clay is suitable lining material. Refractory (fire) clay is best but common red clay works too.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/04/99 17:28:45 GMT

    I am a fair to midlin' part time blacksmith. Been doing it since '85.

    I am in a dilima. I got an old Buffalo 400 blower. Everything seems to work fine except that it gives out a steady stream of oil out the front of the fan shaft. I used 30wt oil. Any suggestions as to what I can do?

    Shawn -- bsmith7483 at Saturday, 09/04/99 23:36:00 GMT

    I want to build some dies for a blacksmiths helper out of s7 or a2 , how do I harden and temper the material and does it come anealed.

    Chris Williams -- cwilliams at Saturday, 09/04/99 23:49:27 GMT

    Chirs, Most tool or alloy steels are bought anealed. Your supplier should tell you want you buying and be able to provide you with any heat treating instructions.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Sunday, 09/05/99 00:23:55 GMT

    Shawn, Sounds like your over filling your blowers crank case.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Sunday, 09/05/99 00:26:05 GMT


    The coal forge that I used for three years, (and still have) was made out of a cast aluminum charcoal grill. Lined with regular fire brick, I've never even gotten the outside metal hot. But I've gotten welding heat in the forge with the electric blower from Centaur Forge.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 09/05/99 00:27:51 GMT

    Shawn, Bruce is right. Those old blowers are famous for leaking oil and have no seals. They rely on a snug fit on the shaft. With a little (not too much) wear they leak like crazy. However, they tend to leak even when not overfilled and generally only stop when out of oil. All I can say is keep oil in it but not too much.

    Chris, Bruce is right again. Most tool steels are delivered annealed so that the material is ready to machine. A few such as Viscount-44 (a proprietary H-13) come pre-hardened and tempered to a point where it is JUST barely machinable in the hardened state. Both the steels you listed are air hardening steels and should be tempered before cooling to ambient air temperature.

    Unless you have a controlled temperature furnace or a high temperature guage then specific temperatures do you no good. The hardening point, as always, is just above the non-magnetic point. Do not shock the parts. Gently warm until too hot to handle with bare hands prior to putting in the forge or furnace (for either forging OR hardenig). Parts should be cooled on a rack where air can circulate around all surfaces. When the part is somewhere just below 200°F. (no sizzle from a wet finger) it should be tempered. I put dies back into the gas furnace used to harden them and which was turned off when the parts were removed. The residual heat easily tempers the parts to 400-800°F (depending on time). You can judge this temperature by when a small dry pine stick starts to char or smolder when pressed against the part OR via the use of Tempil temperature sticks. I use an old temperature controller with built in 2,200°F guage. . . It doesn't hurt to re-temper the parts to be SURE you got it right. Low temperature tempering (up to 450°F.) can be done in a kitchen oven. Parts requiring critical tempering such as knives are often tempered in a salt bath (See Don Fogg's web site for details).

    KITCHEN STOVE: Don't have plans for one in your shop? You should. Junkers that work can be had for hauling. Here is a list of things they are good for.
    • Melting Babbit, lead, wax

    • Low temperature tempering in oven

    • High temperature tempering on a slab

    • Temper blueing on a slab

    • Heating parts in oil for shrink fits

    • Boiling parts to clean for finishing

    • Preparing wax and oil finishes

    • Drying molds and baked cores

    • Drying handles before fitting

    • Drying welding rods

    • Another work surface to pile junk on?

    • Cook Lunch!

    -- guru Sunday, 09/05/99 16:26:24 GMT

    Guru, just want to mention that, like many rules we've learned in blacksmithing, the non-magnetic temperature (Curie point) is a valuable indicator only for plain carbon steel. Although the Curie point coincides closely with the transformation temperature in plain carbon steel, it has no value whatsoever when it comes to alloy steels and especially air hardening alloys. Even H-13 looses magnetism around 1500 degrees yet its proper quenching temperature is 1850 - 2000 degrees. Likewise for high-speed which must be heated to over 2200 degrees. A-2 quenched from 1600 gives about 48 Rc, as quenched. Quenched from 1900 it gives a Rockwell of 62! The extra 300 degrees is what it takes to get all the chromium to "kick in". As you can see, at 1500 - 1600 you will get some hardening from these steels, but nothing like the properties you are paying for when you buy expensive tool steels. If that's all you're going to quench it at, you'd get better results with 4340. Ask Grandpa about this, he knows a lot more about it than I do.

    I like working with H-13 because I can easily heat treat it out of a forge; Heat to a nice yellow, take it out and cool under a fan. Tempering is done by heating to 1100 degrees (which fortunately is about the point where you can just see a little red color to it when held in the shade, depends a little on your shop I guess). Using this method I consistently get 50-52 Rockwell "C". Heat treating foil can be used on small parts to avoid de-carburization and scale.

    Your comments on kitchen stoves should be valuable to many out there. If you ever get the chance to pick up an old pizza oven, most of them go up to 800 degrees or so, making them real valuable for heat treating.

    grant -- nakedanvil at Sunday, 09/05/99 20:12:52 GMT

    Grant, That's what I get for not looking up the data! Didn't realize there was that big a difference between non-mag point and hardenability in alloy steels. So thats TWO things you can not do with alloy steels (the other is judge temperature by temper colors).

    It is easy to overlook handy items that are not specificaly germain to your craft. Even though I was always looking for ways to apply modern tools to blacksmithing I never considered using my mechanics air chisel to carve hot iron until someone wrote an article about it in the Anvil's Ring or Blacksmith's Gazette. There it was sitting in my tool chest all that time. . . Another good reason to have an air compressor in the shop!

    -- guru Sunday, 09/05/99 20:41:04 GMT

    My above fauxpa' is the reason you guys need to go out and buy a few books and learn to use them! Once in a while I'm too tired to look it up (or look it up for the 50th time) and I'll shoot from the hip. If you are going to deal with modern steels you need references. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK Is a good general reference for this plus a lot of other things. If you are going to deal in specific tool steels and want to get the most out of them then you should get a copy of the ASM Metals Reference Book

    -- guru Sunday, 09/05/99 21:17:03 GMT

    I just found a vulken anvil (My first one}this thing weighs about 200 lbs judging from how far my arms and otherthings were hanging when I removed it off my truck. What I need to know is how to repair the edges on this thing. Looks like someone misseed with a b.f.s.h. and took some big chunks out of it. any advice on welding on this beast without killing it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Greg

    Greg -- baldman100 at Monday, 09/06/99 00:36:33 GMT

    I am looking for plans for a roller that will roll 1/4x2" flat bar or better. I read somwhere on the web that there was a person who went to the different conferences who sold plans, can you help.

    Chris Williams -- cwilliams at Monday, 09/06/99 01:25:41 GMT

    Guru, I am in final stages of COSIRA class for beginning smiths at Gold Discovery Park in Coloma California. I have excellent teachers.
    I have just acquired a Phoenix forge that has a Champion #$1 blower. It is in quite good shape and I will need to do a few things to it to get it operable. I am told it is a railroad forge.
    Can you provide any sources for information that I might pursue to learn more about its history?

    Dennis (Stoneyoaks Forge)

    Dennis -- dcliford at Monday, 09/06/99 04:24:01 GMT

    Guru can you send Kiwi the pic of the horseshoe i did at tanahill last year for the Wed nite Demo--thank you

    Bill Epps -- B-Epps at Monday, 09/06/99 06:38:59 GMT

    Dear Guru,I am a sculptor working with forged and welded fragments of iron and steel,I have been currently experimenting with oil blackening the works to finish and weatherproof, heating and then immersing in linseed is a very hit and miss affair... are there any rules etc guideline, recipes which I should follow?
    yours most thankfully PRH

    paul roberts -- Paul at Monday, 09/06/99 15:35:49 GMT

    hello, i was wondering if you could tell me what a anvil symbolizes to you. please respond, thankyou:)

    Brooke Ballerstein -- Ballerbs at Monday, 09/06/99 16:47:11 GMT


    Symbolism of an anvil hmm....

    A solid work surface.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 09/06/99 18:51:18 GMT

    I am using an old anvil stamped ARMITAGE can you tell me where it was made, age, etc. It is about 100#. Thanks!

    Albert Waterson -- cadmando at Monday, 09/06/99 19:19:42 GMT

    ANVILS & SYMBOLISM: I've never been into symbolism at any level but I DO understand it. What the B.S. art people see as symbolism I see as a private joke on the art establishment, the customer and the public. As an artist for many years I know what goes on in an artist's mind. Anyone who says the "artist was symbolizing. . " or "the artist meant. . ." is full of B.S. unless they were a close personal friend of the artist and were told THAT is what they meant. I remember being at the Hirshorn Museum a few years ago and a fellow was lecturing a group on the symbolism in a Jackson Pollock painting. . . Pollock's paintings were random dribbles of paint on huge canvases. They are intresting studies of randomness and chaos but they were also a joke on the art establishment and always will be. The particular painting was one of the more uniformly random examples (see

    So, to me, as aptly put by Mr. Wilson, An anvil is a tool, a solid work surface. But it is also a tool, that's shape, like that of the violin, has reached perfection through generations of progressive improvements. Those that think they can improve on the shape of the London, American or Lieges pattern anvil will find as much resistance and rejection as those that vary from the pattern of Stradivari.

    An anvil is a tool that is deceivingly sophisticated. Every surface has a specific use. The face is hardened tool steel while the shelf, horn and body are low carbon or unhardened. It often takes years of deliberate study for the smith to learn to take advantage of all the features.

    When a blacksmith looks at a used anvil (and the vast majority are very old and very used) the anvil tells him its history, the story of its use or abuse. Anvils owned by craftsmen were revered and treated with loving care. The face will show even consistant use, the edges wear but no breakage. Anvils used by shade tree mechanics, farm workers and such have abuse written all over them up to and including broken horns and heals. Anvils from public schools and machine shops will show almost no wear from use but huge amounts of abuse including repeated torch cuts, swelled and broken horns and arc welding beads. Occasionaly a very old anvil will show all the above types of use from a very hard life.

    Blacksmithing is dominated by males and as in everything invloving males there is competition of one sort or the other. Typically with anvils (but also power hammers and other equipment) the game is
    "mine is bigger than yours". So, in psycobabble an anvil is a phallic symbol. No male wants to have a little anvil. :)

    -- guru Monday, 09/06/99 21:25:25 GMT

    ARMITAGE anvil: Albert, That's an M & H Armitage anvil made at the "Mouse Hole" forge near Sheffield England. It could have been made anywhere from 1827 to 1875. Mouse Hole forge made anvils from the 1740 or earlier until 1933. M&H made some of the worlds finest wrought iron tool steel faced anvils. Early H&H anvils were little different from colonial era anvils but having a more angular waist. Late M&H anvils were the fully developed modern shape with distinct square feet and a rounded waist. Typical of English anvils the waist was fairly heavy. The American pattern anvil having a narrower waist.

    -- guru Monday, 09/06/99 21:54:12 GMT

    ANVIL REPAIR: Greg, there is always someone willing to rush in and claim a method of anvil repair but every case is different and involves some risk. I almost always advise against repair unless the anvil is useless junk. The Vulcan anvils listed in Postman's Anvils in America were cast iron steel faced anvils. The steel face being welded in the casting process. The whole is a hybid material that from an engineering standpoint cannot exist. However a number of manufacturers made anvils this way including Fisher-Norris. Because of the rather tenous bond between the tool steel and the cast iron this is the most difficult anvil to repair. If the face is tight than I wouldn't temp fate by doing more than dressing the sharp edges.

    -- guru Monday, 09/06/99 22:13:48 GMT

    BIC Omaha anvil: Paul, Sorry I didn't get back to your question. Your unusual markings had me stumped and I thought you were misreading the lettering.

    Your anvil is (probably) a Hay-Budden made about 1907. I found this in a list of anvils made by Hay-Budden under private labels in the Anvil Book.

    You have one of the best anvils made. Hay-Budden was located in Brooklyn, NY and went out of business in 1928.

    -- guru Monday, 09/06/99 23:45:51 GMT

    I have a very old Little Giant trip hammer and would like to know if it is a museum piece or could be repaired and used again. The numbers on it are: No K-6037 USA and K-001 K 003L. Would appreciate any information you could give me on this.

    Dorothy Wosnig -- dwosnig at Tuesday, 09/07/99 03:16:04 GMT

    I have a very old Little Giant trip hammer and would like to know if it is a museum piece or could be repaired and used again. The numbers on it are: No K-6037 USA and K-001 K 003L. Would appreciate any information you could give me on this.

    Dorothy Wosnig -- dwosnig at Tuesday, 09/07/99 03:20:14 GMT

    Dorothy, The K indicates that it is a 50 pound hammer. I don't believe the number you've given are serial numbers but casting numbers. The serial number is stamped into a machined boss on the side of the frame. If it has been painted and is covered with dirt you will need to do some scraping to read the number. If you find that number we can tell you the approximate age of the machine.

    There are a few rare early Little Giants that are collectors items. The rest are in demand as working machines. A good working 50# LG is worth $1,000 to $3,000 US depending where you are and the condition of the machine.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/07/99 04:02:21 GMT

    I've been looking around and can't seem to find the info on the tannehill event thats about to happen, I'd like to go, since its fairly close, but I need more info.

    Jock, or anybody who is going or knows, please E-mail me details.

    Youngsmith out (thanks!)

    Youngsmith -- youngsmith at Tuesday, 09/07/99 05:57:46 GMT

    hi, new here to all this cyberjunk, and to blacksmithing. I am curious, with a home made forge from a brake drum, how many bolts should be removed? Also, I am considering buying a used bellows, what guage of pipe should I use to vent? Thanks

    terry gross -- grampappy35 at Tuesday, 09/07/99 10:36:47 GMT

    Anvil symbolism: Mostly- the Age of Iron, Industry and Mastery of the Physical World. Also excellent for the extermination of cartoon coyotes.

    Anvil envy: Hah! You guy's should be around when a bunch of tall ship skippers start comparing sailboats! "Aye, she's forty eight feet, but that's only her sparred length, with that big bowsprit juttin' out. Now our vessel is forty five feet of length on deck and OUR sparred length..."

    Modern art: Some of it apeals to me but I find that, on the whole, it's clever rather than beautiful. We seem to have given up on beauty, and the critics, clever people themselves, have no use for it.

    Waxing pedantic on the banks of the Potomac.

    Visit your National Parks; try Saint-Gaudens for frightfully conventional (and sometimes beautiful) artwork:

    Longship Company (we survived New Jersey):

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Tuesday, 09/07/99 14:29:32 GMT

    I am not actually a metalworker, but am looking for a miniture anvil to give as an award that we have titled "The Anvil Award". Any thoughts on where one would be available?

    shannon freel -- shannonfreel at Tuesday, 09/07/99 15:43:28 GMT

    Shannon: Harbor Freight had some little ones about 3 inches long for about $4.00 each. They probably have a website.

    Phil -- rosche at Tuesday, 09/07/99 19:48:38 GMT

    AFC Tannehill Conference Banner

    Should have done this months ago! All you guys had to do is ASK! Click above for more info!

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/07/99 20:57:29 GMT


    Enough to pull it off the axel!

    Exhaust pipe (about 18ga wall) makes a good air connection to a forge. Use 1.5" - 2" (36-50mm) diameter. Most hot-rod shops have elbows and adaptors that can be used. The flexible stuff works but rusts out REAL fast.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/07/99 21:03:38 GMT

    Does any knows if it is possible to forge a 440C steel. Will it damaged the steel? Please e-mail me!

    Armand -- palacio at Wednesday, 09/08/99 06:54:38 GMT

    To the Guru,
    I am an amateur smith looking for information for a friend who is much more knoledgeable then I am but lacks refrence material I looked on some of my more usual links and got nothing and decided to ask for some more "specialized and knoledgeable" help in finding the answer.My friend wants to make a puddle furnace to work wraught iron he has some ideas but is not sure if they are good,temperatures to work the iron, or even what the results will be. Any information, links or advice would be greatly appreciated!
    thanx muchly !

    Robert Smith -- gandalph at Wednesday, 09/08/99 15:04:24 GMT

    Armand: Yes it is very possible to forge 440C stainless.Suggest you preheat to 1500f and hold for 30 min. then transfere to forging furnace and heat to 2100f and hold for about 5 min. then forge. When finished forging return to the 1500f furnace and then turn the furnace off and let the material cool in the furnace. As long as the steel is not forged too hot or too cold no damage is done except a slight decarburation at the surface due to the scaling.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 09/08/99 16:57:27 GMT

    Help! I am very intrested in making a replica of a japaneses suit of armour that has chainmail in it. Here is the problem. I found a refrence that the japanese armours used an 11 step laquering process on their chain mail. I would like to reproduce this process but I can't seem to find any documation on this process. if you could point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Walt

    Walt Langhans -- WDLJR01 at Wednesday, 09/08/99 20:01:31 GMT

    PUDDLING FURNACE: Robert, This was a rather large industrial operation for most of its history. Except for a very few operations it was replaced by the Bessemer process of making steel. Both Bessemer and James NaSmyth worked on the process as a method of producing wrought iron but instead ended up with bulk conversion of cast iron into a maleable product (mild steel).

    References: Diderot's Encyclopedia of Trades and Industry, Vol. 1 plates 95-98, Agricola's De Re Metallica and Biringuccio's Pirotechnia. I'm positive on the first but only reasonably sure about the next two.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/08/99 22:17:41 GMT

    OBTW - The above books are available from Centaur Forge and Norm Larson.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/08/99 22:18:23 GMT

    Eleven step Japanese lacquering process. . . . ??? Does that start with catching the bugs to make the lacquer? HELP!

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/08/99 22:28:13 GMT

    Hey Guys I am looking for a manual on the bradely guided helve hammer.
    I have just bought one and I would like to have the book that was sent out with it. If you have one I would be interested in getting a copy. thanks for the help. Blacksmith's Wright.

    Perry McLemore -- jpdmcci at Thursday, 09/09/99 03:02:56 GMT

    i am looking for finishes or patinas for forged mild steel. anything but a wax finish. do you have any ideas were to look, or any method that will work?

    jeremy thomas -- whyiterp at Thursday, 09/09/99 04:23:56 GMT

    Guru with regard to anvil size: I want a huge one.
    The reason is that mine tend to get hauled of.
    OR one small enough that it can be easily taken home.
    That said I have developed a very practical view of anvils (I have lost a few)as just a work surface.

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Thursday, 09/09/99 08:01:49 GMT


    This may sound a bit crazy, but I am a 53 year old Naval Officer,who is reaching a past-mid-life crisis in his life. I desparately need a change of direction. I have been interested in blacksmithing and heat treatment of metals for some time now, and am seriously considering going into this line of work to make custom knife blades amongst other things.

    There is a tradition of blacksmithing in my family, my paternal grandfather was a professional blacksmith, and my father was apprenticed to him before going into the motor trade in the early years of this century.

    My question is (besides am I crazy) is, can I do it? I am sure that I will find enough work to keep me busy, as there is always a call for quality workmanship of any description. What do you say?


    Don Leih

    Don Leih -- oldcrow at Thursday, 09/09/99 11:56:10 GMT

    Guru et al.
    I need to make a "courting"(?) candle for my wife. The kind that spirals up from the base and has an adjustable plug for the candle base inside the spiral. Can you suggest a way to create a nice even spiral over a mandrel. I realize failure is often an excellent way to learn but I am hoping to avoid a lot of trial and error.(There has already been some trial and error involved here). Thanks.
    Dave White

    David -- ednet.dwhite at Thursday, 09/09/99 13:13:14 GMT


    Use a piece of 1/2" pipe for the mandrel. Wrap the 1/4" round stock around the pipe like a coil of wire. Re heat and gently stretch the coil to form the spiral.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 09/09/99 13:19:15 GMT

    Perry, What size is your Bradley? Is it an Upright or a Strap hammer?

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 09/09/99 14:31:01 GMT

    Where can I get a copy of the Ron Kinyon simple air hammer design?

    Don Douglass -- ddouglas at Thursday, 09/09/99 17:51:59 GMT

    Don: The kinyon plans are available from ABANA ( You might also take a look at Larry Zoeller's page for a slightly modified version (

    Phil -- rosche at Thursday, 09/09/99 18:29:02 GMT


    I make my courtship candle holders similarly to how paw-paw suggested, but instead of " pipe I use ", I just found that the candles fit better. another thing I do is I have peices of 5/16" welded, only sticking out one side, picture a comb. The tines are welded to give the proper gap....

    Youngsmith out

    Youngsmith -- youngsmith at Thursday, 09/09/99 23:06:00 GMT


    Are you measuring the inside diameter of the pipe or the outside diameter? Plumbing, gas, and electrical pipe are measured by the inside diameter. When I say to use 1/2" pipe for the mandrel, the outside diameter is a nominal 3/4". Actually, a little closer to 7/8". 3/4" pipe, on the other hand has an outside diameter of almost 1".

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 09/10/99 00:44:17 GMT

    I'm trying to find information on the process of rebabbetting the bearings on a Little Giant trip hammer. I'm also trying to locate the mailing address, phone number and email address of Harland (Sid) Suedmeier, blacksmith who has taught Power Hammer Rebuilding Workshops. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Darrell Anderson -- andersdg at Friday, 09/10/99 01:42:26 GMT

    I just run across an anvil in this old fellows barn, it's in good shape and he wants $200. for it. It says on the side of it "solid wrought" and below that it says U.S.A. It weighs 100lb. or less. I know this a very vague question, but is it worth it. I'm just getting started and I need one. BUT I may find one at Tannehill this weekend!!
    Tom Black

    Tom -- vango at Friday, 09/10/99 02:01:15 GMT

    Tom: The anvil could be one of a number of brands. The wrought anvils are considered by most people to be the best. If it's around 100 pounds and priced at $200, it's about market value and you may or may not find a better deal at Tannehill. Anvil supply and demand is funny. Two years ago at the Southeastern Blacksmith's Conference there was an anvil buying frenzy. This last may, many of the people selling anvils took them back home with them again.

    Phil -- rosche at Friday, 09/10/99 11:15:51 GMT

    Darrell: Here is Sid's contact info:
    Automotive Inc./Little Giant
    Sid Suedmeier
    420 4th Corso
    Nebraska City, NE 68410
    402-873-4372 home

    Phil -- rosche at Friday, 09/10/99 11:19:12 GMT

    Sorry paw-paw, you are correct, I mesued the outside diameter of the pipe, (thats what happens when you scrounge )

    sorry for the confusion

    Youngsmith out

    Youngsmith -- youngsmith at Friday, 09/10/99 13:22:24 GMT

    I haven't posted for quite a long time. Pappy always said, "You can't learn much with your gums banging together all the time."
    I'm in the market for a power hammer. I found a 50 pounder. The only thing I could find to indentify the machine was the name "Iron Giant."
    I haven't seen or heard of this brand. It seems similar to the little giant except it uses the slipping belt principle for a clutch. The present owner has never used it. It was originally run off of a line shaft. He bought it and put a 1 1/2 hp 115 volt motor on it and is offering it for sale. He ran it for me and it seems to be in pretty good condition. The shaft babbit is tight. The hammer guides are a little sloppy. The top shaft is lubricated with the old open oil reservoirs, not grease zerks. He claims that the machine weighs about 1200 lbs.
    What is it worth?
    If I decide to buy it, is the weight estimate in the ball park? I will have to move it.
    Are there dies available for it?
    What needs to be done for the building foundation for it in it's new home?

    Minnesota Jim -- jimn at Friday, 09/10/99 14:06:07 GMT

    I want to remove scratches from stainless steel 16ga sheet and bring it to a "mirror" finish. What is the best way to accomplish this?

    F.P. Felix -- frpfelix at Friday, 09/10/99 14:39:32 GMT

    Dear Guru,

    PAWPAW referred to a weld as a "jump weld", what is this weld and
    how is it best completed. He used it to weld leaves onto a stem.


    Scott Isaacs -- scott at Friday, 09/10/99 20:46:44 GMT

    I am looking for handcrafted items. Please refer artisan.
    Thank You,

    Meegan -- mjaycox at Saturday, 09/11/99 00:26:45 GMT

    Hello all.....
    What would make a good coal bin? Is wood sufficient?

    Chuck Serquina -- horshoehank at Saturday, 09/11/99 02:33:54 GMT

    Hey guys! Paw-Paw and I are at Tannehill! Got here just in time for dinner and the nail making contest. No surprise, Tom Clark won again!
    OErjan, Bigger is better but to be theft proof it would need to be huge! Instead of huge, how about welding a common anvil to a heavier or fabricated steel base and anchoring THAT to the floor or in concrete? An anvil light enough to carry home in your situation is probably too light for the work you do.

    Don Leih, You are not crazy, blacksmithing is a very enjoyable trade. It CAN be profittable but often isn't. Don't be surprised to find a LOT of competition in the area.

    Darrell If you misplace the address for Sid Sudemeier it is listed on the Power hammer Page.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/11/99 03:47:59 GMT

    I'm interested in learning how to forge weld. I've made a few knives out of leaf springs and such. These weren't forged blades, I just cut away everyghing that didn't look like a knife. I then re-heat treated the blades using a knifemaking book and the Machinery's handbook as a reference. I would like to make a blade out of an old pnumatic chisel. I think it is either a S5 or S7 tool steel. In order to do this I will need to forge it and forge weld it around a mild steel core, kind of like the Japanese swords. I don't know if this is feasible or not. But none-the-less, I would like to learn the basics of forge welding and any suggestions you can give me would be appreciated. I have no blacksmithing experience at all, but I'm a welder at Bath Iron Works Corporation, (we build Arleigh Burke class Destroyers for the Navy), so I have a decent knowledge of steel.

    Jamie -- weldah at Sunday, 09/12/99 00:53:42 GMT

    Guru: Im hauling a 100#anvil right now and yes it is marginal (to say the least) it works desently well for the work I do just now (I have an order for some window grille or what they are called now work over 20mm) .
    Allthough small I would not want it much heavier to haul or huge and permanent as you said.
    I have a 450 #:er coming.
    Sadly Icant weld it in place though :-(. I will use concrete and hardened steel instead.
    Thanks for the coment it gave me an idea for a better way than planed :-)

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Sunday, 09/12/99 18:15:56 GMT

    I have a German made 140 p.s.i. air ram and I would like to sell it. Is there a good web sight for this?

    max -- smartmax at Monday, 09/13/99 01:51:51 GMT

    Have aquired a power hammer and need information
    Only I.D. is from flywheel "Red Oak Iowa The Kerrihard Co." approx. 25# "walking beam" style hammer with sidemount flywheel
    any info would be great

    Fireline Forge -- cplough at Monday, 09/13/99 02:52:42 GMT


    No reason to be sorry, I've made much worse mistakes than that! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 09/13/99 03:26:39 GMT

    Hello' Guru I have just moved our roofing shop to the old foundry building of a large old machine shop in western mass. The foundry went out of buisness 8 years ago and now these guys cut and machine large pices of virgin cast iron. I blacksmith in my free time and have built a few of my own tools. Out back in the scrap pile there is a stack of steel that has been plasma cut and I would like to make a anvil out of this steel. what they did was cut a large circle out of a very large square this left four courners with a radius cut. the steel is hard and when I hit this with a hammer it dose not chip and is very hard to ding. would this make a good anvil if I were to join two of these pices togeather. with a base of some sort.

    THORNTON -- thornton at shays Monday, 09/13/99 13:56:30 GMT

    What is the name for a machine that raises a weight up high and then releases it to fall on a die or an anvil?

    Eric Singel -- epsingel at Monday, 09/13/99 14:40:43 GMT

    Easy question first, more later. . . Eric, A "drop hammer". Some are called "board" drops because a wooden board is used between two friction wheels to lift the ram. Steam drops raise the hammer with a steam cylinder. Most also push DOWN with the steam making them a steam power hammer. There are also "helve" hammers. These are like an actual hand hammer (a VERY large one) that are raised by water power and dropped. There is also a rare "rope" drop. Today most hammers are air power hammers and there are many mechanical power hammers also in use although none are currently manufactured. See our Power hammer Page for pictures of many of the above.

    -- guru Monday, 09/13/99 18:15:28 GMT

    ANVIL STEEL: Thorton, Anvils generally have a hardened tool steel face. However, since "any anvil is better than no anvil" one made from heavy plate is just fine. IF the material is hardenable then that is even better. Ask if someone knows what kind of steel it is. Often alloy steels such as 4140 come in heavy plate. See our plans page for one way to make an anvil from plate.

    -- guru Monday, 09/13/99 21:37:08 GMT

    JUMP WELD: Scott, First you get a rope. . . :) Sorry about that!

    The term "jump weld" is often used for forge weld. Forge welding is when you heat two or more pieces of wrought iron or steel in a forge or furnace until the surface is almost melted (or actually IS just a little) and then the two pieces are hammered together. This can be done with or without flux. For many, flux works best but there are a rare few that do well without. The most common flux used is Borax (Good ol' 20 Mule team Borax, sold at grocery stores as laundry brightener).

    -- guru Monday, 09/13/99 22:07:27 GMT

    FORGE WELDING: Jamie, Forge welding is an art as much as it is a skill and requires much practice. You need to get some forge practice first then move on to welding mild steel. When you've mastered mild steel then you will be ready to attempt tool steels. Forge welding tool steels is trickier but is done daily by makers of laminated steel or "Damascus" blades. What is even trickier yet is figuring out what the different steels are going to do. This is not my field of expertise. When you have a more specific question in the field "grandpa" will likely give you an answer. Meanwhile, there are numerous books and videos on the subject of of forging laminated steel for blade making. Check with Centaur Forge or Norm Larson larbooks at

    -- guru Monday, 09/13/99 22:28:05 GMT

    POLISHING STAINLESS: Felix, It takes a lot of "elbow grease". And it depends on how deep the scratches. You will be removing all the surface to the depth of the scratch. Start with Wet-OR-Dry type sand paper (available from auto-paint suppliers). Use 120 to 180 grit until the surface is uniformly smooth. Then move to 320 Grit and get the 180 scratches out. After that use 500 or 600 grit to get the 320 scratches out. Do not move to finer grit paper until you are thouroughly finished. When you have a nice flat surface that looks polished when wet it THEN move to polishing. There is a special white buffing compound specificaly for stainless. See articles on 21st Century page about wheels and polishing.

    -- guru Monday, 09/13/99 22:47:08 GMT

    I have a few good pictures that I took with my digital camera at Tannehill last weekend. I'll be glad to e.mail them to anyone that wants them, or if there is somewhere I can post them so every one can see them.
    Thanks to everyone there that took the time to answer my stupid questions.(especially Tom Clark) I learned a ton!! Even bought me an anvil.

    Tom Black

    Tom -- vango at Monday, 09/13/99 23:54:50 GMT

    Tom, We can always use a few more for the news. I wasn't quite up to par this weekend and most of my pics are pretty bad. We DID get some great video of the Alabama Art Foundry's night pour! A few of my stills turned out and will be in the news too. Will try to get it out by next week sometime.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/14/99 02:13:53 GMT


    I am looking for a book or information on Hot Raising Iron/Steel.

    I have read Bealer's - The Art of Blacksmithing, Finegold's - Silversmithing + many others.

    I would like to find more detailed information specifically dealing with hot raising Ferris Metals.

    Thanks in advance for any and all help.

    Wainwright Tuesday, 09/14/99 04:02:59 GMT

    Hello Friends,
    I thought I remembered seeing some information on converting single phase electric power into three phase power here. I can't find it now, would someone please guide me to a site where I can find the answers. Thank you, Bob Conner

    Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Tuesday, 09/14/99 16:56:16 GMT

    Bob, You can make an inverter out of one 3PH motor to run another one. Try Metal Web News, then Miscellaneous. You cannot convert one type of motor to the other as far as I know.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/14/99 21:47:22 GMT

    Wainwright, Sheet stock is so rarely worked hot that I doubt that you will find literature on it. The reason is that thin sheet has too much surface area and cools very fast. Besides being hard to keep hot it is also very inefficient. You've read about "raising", the process in steel is the same as in other metals except that the anealing process is different.

    When it IS worked hot it is worked in small spots with a torch. Spot heating makes it easy to stretch an area OR to upset it (make it thicker). Upsetting is the tricker of the two. When upsetting you need to back up the work and tap very gently on the heated high spot. How gently is a matter of experiance and practice. If you strike the spot too hard it will pop past center and stretch it even more. Tapping just right drives the metal into itself on its axis making it thicker, taking out the high spot.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/14/99 22:00:40 GMT

    This question requires some real old knowledge. I was told by a
    blaksmith friend that sometime around the fifteenth or sixteenth century in England, the king banned the use of charcoal as fuel for blacksmiths, because the forests were being depleted. This is the reason coal became the fuel of choice for English -- and later American -- blacksmiths.
    Can anyone give me any solid data on this one? Historical citation,
    encyclopedia reference, or some such?

    Michael "Murf" Murphy -- blacksmith at Wednesday, 09/15/99 00:36:26 GMT

    Murf, Coal was used later then the 15th or 16th century. It is ture that the forests were being depleted in England. England was importing charcoal from America for this reason.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 09/15/99 02:11:44 GMT

    (From e-mail to Murf)
    I know there were laws and decrees in England and Europe about burning wood because forests were dissapearing. I have no specifics and do not recall anything in the many blacksmithing references I've read.

    In America coal was not used for nearly 100 years after it had been adopted by iron makers in England. The reason was that it was known from the earliest use of coal that its sulphur content made iron brittle. THAT combined with the great timber resources in America produced the lag in adopting coal. However, it was not blacksmiths that made this change but the ironmakers. Charcoal was produced in vast quantities to produce iron. When iron makers stopped using charcoal the supply dried up for blacksmiths. In England the change was in the 1700's and the U.S. it was in the 1800's.

    I believe coal was in use earlier in many European countries.

    I (we) would be intrested in the results of your quest. If I come across something I'll list the reference.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/15/99 12:40:15 GMT

    Murf, there is a fascinating website that may help. It doesn't answer your question directly, but it does discusst he transition from charcoal to coal, and might be a good place to start.
    As the Guru and others have asked, please report your findings to us.

    Rob. Curry -- Curry at Wednesday, 09/15/99 18:52:34 GMT

    Murf, there is a fascinating website that may help. It doesn't answer your question directly, but it does discusst he transition from charcoal to coal, and might be a good place to start.
    As the Guru and others have asked, please report your findings to us.

    Rob. Curry -- Curry at Wednesday, 09/15/99 18:52:49 GMT


    That is one fascinating site. Thanks for posting the URL.

    Guru, if you haven't taken a look at it yet, please do so.
    It seems to be a pretty complete history.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 09/15/99 22:46:50 GMT

    Hello, this is my question. I have a bicycle frame that is made of I believe 2.5 or 3.5 tube titanium. I would like to know is it could be blued like a rifle barrel. Would it have the same appearance as the rifle barrel. Im basically looking for that deep dark blue black look. Ive already polished it but would like a different look. thanks metal god

    kevin -- kcousi4333 at Wednesday, 09/15/99 23:42:52 GMT

    Kevin, Titanium takes some wonderfully beautiful "temper" blues. Actually a lot more than blues, the WHOLE rainbow. However, titanium oxide is what white paint is made of. Gun blueing is an oxidizing process using acids. The resulting color is determined by both the process AND the metal. There MAY be a method of chemically blackening titanium but it is not in my normal references. The temper colors appear when the bare clean metal is heated (the same as temper colors on steel). This is the kind of thing you need samples to experiment on, NOT a valuable piece of equipment.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/16/99 00:57:43 GMT

    Every time I hit the anvil with my hammer I get a ringing in my ear's.

    ? Do you think I'm in the wrong trade .

    O.k. THE mad bugger next to me would like to know..
    ?How does Albert Paley make his spuds? send to BRUCE M at the above address.

    campton tony -- campton at Thursday, 09/16/99 08:38:55 GMT

    I am restoring a champion 400 blower on the original 3 leg tripod stand, can't find any trace of original color. Does anyone know the original color paint used on these?

    Russell Warner -- russell.warner at Thursday, 09/16/99 12:21:13 GMT

    Izat hurry-cane commin' your way, Guru?

    grant -- nakedanvil Thursday, 09/16/99 15:18:48 GMT

    I am about to be going to college and I have a lack of funds, I am looking for any possible information on scholarships for blacksmith's or blacksmith majors (also metal smithing and metallurgy majors).

    Thank you

    scotsman -- albagobragh99 at Thursday, 09/16/99 15:33:27 GMT


    I think I heard the same thing from either Skeeter Prather or maybe Charles Cortmanche (sp?) and I too would be interested in your findings.

    Oh, and how is that anvil that you got from Clyde doing?

    Youngsmith out (but out of what?)

    Youngsmith -- youngsmith at Thursday, 09/16/99 18:11:20 GMT

    Huricane Floyd is past. Spent the whole day moving equipment, opening and closing sluice gates. . . . A long sloppy day. 10ft of water at the hydro plant. Now most of town doesn't have power (wind tree damage). Using battery power to check the news/weather.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/16/99 19:17:42 GMT

    Scotsman, ABANA has scolarships for promising blacksmiths but these amount to funds to help pay for blacksmithing classes. Look for something in Metalurgy.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/16/99 19:19:39 GMT

    I got some brass rod and I wish to do some inlay work. Trouble is I have no real idea. I am guessing I make an etch, clean it, flux it, and heat the iron till the brass will melt?

    Tannis -- celtoi at Thursday, 09/16/99 22:28:47 GMT

    Inlay into what? Metal inlays are often done the same as other inlays. It is often a mechanical process. Sometimes glue is used. In the case of gold and sometimes silver the metal is pounded into engraved reliefs. Gold will form a bond to other metals almost as good as a weld. When using silver the relief is undercut and the metal forced into the dovetail shape.

    Brazing rod can be brazed onto a steel surface that has reliefs cut into it and then the excess removed by filing. The excess will be a huge amount compared to the "inlay" (probably a layer 1/8" (3mm)). A finely finished steel surface will be ruined so it is best NOT to put a lot of effort into the job beforehand. The same can be done with silver solder with a little more control and at lower temperatures. Both methods require an oxy-acetylene or oxy-propane torch. Borax is used for flux for the brass.

    The best place to learn the necessary skills are in a welding class but some jewlery courses will cover the use of a small torch for silver soldering. The size of torch required is determined by the size of the piece of work NOT the inlay.

    -- guru Friday, 09/17/99 01:58:44 GMT

    This is really a history question, but I don't know where else to ask.
    If you can suggest a better place to ask, please let me know.

    The question: which cultures produced the best edged weapons? It appears that Japanese blades are well thought of; I've also heard of "Toledo Steel" (Spain), but don't really know much beyond that. When I say "best", I suppose I mean "best of their time", since any art (science) should improve as time passes. Also, I mean the generally available blade, not a single, spectacular example. Thanks for your time and expertise.

    Dave Fehlman -- dfehlman at Friday, 09/17/99 05:10:14 GMT

    The Rockbridge iron smelting project.
    Quite intresting site.

    SCB -- scumberg at Friday, 09/17/99 06:26:35 GMT

    we are looking for suppliers of copper-berylium strips for electrotechnical applications. we would tkank anyone who can give us a hint. if this is in Europe it is really great.
    we would agree even to pay a reasonable commission if it is the case.
    thank you and hooping to hear something about this soon!

    Maria Campean -- office at Friday, 09/17/99 13:42:49 GMT

    How were iron or steel anvils made before iron or steel could be cast, before the 13th Century or therabouts?

    Paul Finlow-Bates -- thorfinn33 at Saturday, 09/18/99 07:29:02 GMT

    Ah! A REAL Ironworking question!

    ANVILS MATERIAL I: Up until recent history (the 18th Century) all ferrous anvils were forged. I say ferrous because bronze age anvils were stone or bronze. Even though casting of iron was around from the earliest part of the iron age, cast iron is too brittle for use as an anvil. Wrought iron and steel were used.

    Wrought iron was first made by the bloomery process (see In this primitive process the iron is melted out of the ore but not completly to a liquid. Once it become completely liquid at the bottom of the furnace you have "cast iron". Wrought is nearly pure iron (with out the carbon) but has a lot of silica ore and flux impurities that result in a wood like grain structure when the "bloom" that form in the furnace is removed and compacted into bar. THIS material was built up into large blocks by "forge welding" Forge welding is the process of heating iron or steel until the surface is softened to almost the liquid stage or just slightly liquid and then the pieces are stuck together and forged into a solid mass. Old anvils were either built up from 1" x 2" bar or from bundles of scrap. If you look at the drawings of old anvils in Diderot's Encyclopedia you can see the use of slab built design in many of the anvils.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/18/99 13:59:28 GMT

    ANVILS MATERIALS II: The problem with wrought iron is that it has no carbon and therfore cannot be hardened. This results in a soft anvil that would wear quite rapidly. Early in the iron age the ironmakers identified "hard iron" in their blooms. This was steel. Actually it was anything in the range of mild steel to cast iron. However, some of this material could be picked out and forged welded into a small mass useful for making cutting tools and weapons. Hard iron could also be forge welded to soft wrought iron.

    Up until the 20th century all the best anvils were made of wrought iron with a forge welded tool steel face. Early anvils had fairly thin faces due to the rarity and expense of good steel and later anvils had very controled 5/8" thick "crucible" steel faces. In the 20th century steel making improved a great deal and eventualy makers like Hay-Budden started making the entire top half of their anvils from tool steel and the bottom half from cheaper mild or cast low carbon steel.

    TODAY one maker, Peddinghaus makes forged steel anvils. The rest are cast steel of various quality. However there ARE a few cast iron "anvils" on the market. These are actualy door stops and ship ballast.

    HYBRID ANVILS: One early American maker, Fisher-Norris, developed a process where a steel face was welded to a cast iron body. This was done in the casting process IN the mold. A few other makers copied this invention. Some smiths claim these are the "best" anvils while others wouldn't give a dime for one. The cast iron is very rigid and the anvil does not ring like a wrought anvil. However, if the face starts to seperate there is no way to make a satifactory repair.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/18/99 14:15:34 GMT

    ANVIL MATERIALS III: After forge welding the face to the wrought iron body the face must be hardened and tempered. This is a difficult process and was ocassionaly done poorly by the best manufacturers. The hardening requires that the whole top of the anvil be brought up to a low red heat and then quenched in water. The huge mass of the anvil requires a great quantity of running water and produces steam that can severly burn the worker. Small anvils (less than 150 lbs) tend to have glass hard faces while larger anvils are softer due to the inability to quench the face at a rate fast enough to produce a steel of maximum hardness. This actually works to the best as large anvils are also more subject to heavy work where edges are likely to be chipped or broken.

    Cast steel anvils are also hardened and tempered. These all steel anvils must be hardened in a manner such that the horn and step are soft while the face is still hard. The cast that the entire mass of the anvil is high carbon steel makes the process difficult as there is a good chance of cracking the anvil while hardening.

    In the end the tool itself (the anvil) is much the same to the user whether it is forged or cast. Most smiths CAN tell the difference but it will not be reflected in their produce.

    As I've said before "Any anvil is better than NO anvil!"

    -- guru Saturday, 09/18/99 14:28:39 GMT

    Hello, my name is Gary Robinson and I'm just getting started in blacksmithing .I have been welding for several years .
    My main problem so far seems to be that I'm the only person in my area that wants to do things the old ways and have no source of infomation. If you know of anyone in the Oklahoma City area please let me know. also a source of coal in my area would be helpful.
    Thank you for your help.

    Gary Robinson -- mustardseed at Saturday, 09/18/99 16:40:16 GMT

    Gary, sent your name and e-mail to a contact in your area.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/18/99 18:52:34 GMT

    I was wondering if you could tell me about spark testing and what the sparks look like on all the metals.
    I've been welding for about ten years now and I'm about to take a test to get into the milwaukee county ironworks department, I got my welding diploma and they really went over it well.
    So if please could anwser my question I would really appretiate it.
    Thank you very much!!!!
    Robert Hartling

    Robert Hartling -- rhartling at Saturday, 09/18/99 20:32:27 GMT

    I recently bought an anvil at an auction and I am lookig for some info on the manufacture/origin of it. On the front left side under the horn are the letters SHER and on the back is the date is apprx. 150 lbs+. If anyone has any info please email me.

    Bill Corso -- pocodude at Saturday, 09/18/99 21:02:15 GMT

    Live demo running NOW! See home page!

    -- guru Saturday, 09/18/99 22:57:57 GMT

    Currently our chat server is down (6:00 Central US). If you login to the AnvilCAM do not login to the chat until the log refreshes. We still have Video!

    -- guru Saturday, 09/18/99 23:16:35 GMT


    I have a copy of a spark testing chart that shows pictures. Will e-mail you a copy.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 09/19/99 00:39:05 GMT

    SPARK TESTING charts can be found in many welding references. Although the photos and diagrams can help you identify various steels it is best to have some samples and compare them. The method is not a positive test but it can give you a hint to the material. Years ago it was a pretty good test but today there are tens of thousands of alloy steels in common use. With photo analysis the spark test is probably as good as chemical analysis but by the human eye it is only a rough guess and only as good as the individual's perception. Can you tell 304 stainless from 405 by eye? Or 304 from Monel? They have very distinct colors if you know them. Even many machinists can't tell by eye. I can tell on a good day but then I've got a stack of samples and they are very distinct when all together. Apart? Thats a different story. Collect those steel samples and try them out.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/19/99 02:14:27 GMT

    I'm looking for information about locating, if at possible parts for a "The Mayer" maunfactured by Kaukanuna Machine Co. Model No. B 252 50 lb. Ram. Specifically a rocker arm?

    Cactus Max -- cactus-max at Sunday, 09/19/99 16:56:41 GMT

    I'm looking for information about locating, if at possible parts for a "The Mayer" maunfactured by Kaukanuna Machine Co. Model No. B 252 50 lb. Ram. Specifically a rocker arm?

    Cactus Max -- cactus-max at Sunday, 09/19/99 16:59:16 GMT

    I have a big(I weigh over 300 lbs and can barely lift it)anvil,pretty nice,rings like a bell,AND it was FREE!!!!(best kind of anvil,huh?) Anyway,the only problem it has is that the edges of the face,and to a lesser degree the face itself,are in pretty rough shape.What I need to know is if I could just go ahead and dress these up with a grinder,as none of the defects are anywhere near going all the way through the hard top,maybe a max of 1/8" on top,and not too much worse on the edges. The horn could stand a good polishing too,but am I correct in my assumption that the horn isn't hard anyway,so grinding won,hurt it?

    Bob Atkison -- atkison at Sunday, 09/19/99 20:14:56 GMT

    Bob, Most anvils have a 1/2" to 5/8" tool steel face. On older anvils (18th Century) it may be less. On these the horn is usualy soft although some german anvil have a ridge of steel plate down part of the center. On cast steel anvils it is ALL steel but the hardness diminishes the deeper you get. On Fisher-Norris "Eagle" anvils the body is cast iron with a tool steel face extending up the ridge of the horn and includes a steel tip on the horn of several inches in length.

    An eighth of an inch is a lot to remove and can generate considerable heat. If you do not overheat the face (softening it) there shouldn't be any problem. Generaly if you have a good clean spot near the center of the face then a few dings elsewhere don't matter and actually give the anvil character. Most horns can be ground as much as needed and often needed it from the factory.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/19/99 21:51:57 GMT

    pray wise guru....would a solenoid operated pilot valve with switches instead of limit valves work for a kinyon style hammer conversion?

    Pete Fels -- artgawk at Monday, 09/20/99 06:47:34 GMT

    I'm trying to make a single cluster from wrought iron. I have a small furnace and some simple tools like clamps and metal work hammers. How can i make it?

    Paul Locker -- PL at KINGSBRUTON.SOMERSET.SCH.UK Monday, 09/20/99 11:48:52 GMT

    Pete, For a short while. Rapidly cycling the solenoid will cause it to overheat. Life cycles on these kind of parts become very short under continued rapid cycling. Switches become a problem too. The coil in a solenoid valve discharges a high voltage surge when disconnected. This ends up burning up the switch. An RC circuit (Capacitor/Resistor) is used in these cases to absorb the surge but these too have a limited life when cycled at high speed.

    It CAN be done, but requires carefully engineered electronics such as that used to power stepper motors.

    -- guru Monday, 09/20/99 12:55:14 GMT

    This is my second post... can anyone help me? I am restoring aChampion 400 Blowere on original 3 leg tripod. There is no trace of the original p[aint on the the blower. Does anyone know the the color of paint that was used on these?

    Russell Warner -- russell.warner at Monday, 09/20/99 13:28:29 GMT

    FORGE WELDING: Paul, What you want to do is called "forge welding", "jump welding" or "blacksmith welding". This is one of the basic skills of blacksmithing but is difficult for some to learn and many smiths avoid it and use modern welding methods. It is best to start simple and then work up.

    Forge welds start with preparing the joint shape. This is called "scarfing". The scarfed joint should be shaped such that two slightly convex surfaces are brought together pushing out flux and dross. The scarf is also "upset" (made larger) so that when hammered together there will not be a reduction in bar size. The ends are also tapered so that the joint blends together. If you are joining a bundle of round rods in a "faggot weld" (from a bundle of fire wood called a faggot) weld preparation is not required.

    The parts to be joined are heated until at a red heat and then flux is applied. The most common flux is borax but many mineral clays work too. The parts are then heated to a light yellow or white heat where the surfaces are just barely becoming molten. This temperature varies with the material but is higher for wrought iron than for mild steel and the higher carbon steels are much lower. Judging the temperature requires much practice. For wrought iron it is about 2700 degrees F.

    When at welding heat the parts are removed from the forge and struck lightly with a hammer to "stick" the parts together and then the parts are forged heavily to shape. The first blow is the trick. Too hard and you blow out all the material that produces the joint. Too soft and you don't push out the flux and dross. Rapid first blow's are started at the center of the joint or mass and worked outwards, followed by heavier shaping blows. IF the part cools below the welding point before all the joint is closed then a second heat is often required. Flux the part for the second heat. Open the unwelded edge of the joint with a chisle if necessary to get flux in the joint and to prepare it for the second attempt.

    The easiest weld to practice on is a faggot weld where the bar is bent back on it self. This does not require clamps or handling more than one piece. In fact it can be done without tongs if the bar is about 3 feet (3/4 meter) to start. When welding a bundle it is normaly wired together with heavy soft iron wire. Modern smiths often tack weld the bundle together with an electric welder.

    When creating a joint at the end of two bars the "dropped tongs" method is used. The parts are "stuck" together on the anvil at welding heat by taping them together and then droping the tongs (or letting loose of the bar) with one hand and picking up the hammer to finish the weld. Try to keep the actual joint off the anvil while manuvering so that the weld area is not cooled by the anvil. This is one of the most difficult welding skills to master.

    Frank Turley reccomends that you practice at least one forge weld every day. Just before quitting for the day make a weld. Then the next and the next. Forge welding is a skill that takes much practice and is like riding a bicycle. That first ride (or weld) is the hard one. After that you wonder, "What was all the fuss?"

    -- guru Monday, 09/20/99 13:50:37 GMT

    CHAMPION BLOWER PAINT: Russell, The only color I've seen on these that "looked" original was black. The black ones seem to always have a good coat of oil and grease indicating they haven't been repainted recently. I have no other evidence.

    -- guru Monday, 09/20/99 13:54:12 GMT


    re paint colour schemes on tools. Remember Henry Ford? He would sell you a car any colour you wanted, as long as it was black! Black was one of the cheaper colors of paint to make at the time. There were other colours around it is just that most folks would not pay the extra cost.

    Ralph -- ralphd at Monday, 09/20/99 15:15:59 GMT

    Peter, There is another type of switch avalible that could be used instead of a solinoid or a manual switch, these are magnetic and have a prety good response time, there are two methods of opperation, You can mount a small magnet on the shaft of the hammer or cylinder, alternativeley you can get your clyinder modified and put the magnet on the inside, the power of these magnets are not very high so you dont really need to worry about them magnetizing your hammer.
    the cylinder mounted ones allow you to clide the sensor up and down the cylinder for height controll.
    The Magnetic Switch is a "Reedex Magnetic Opperated Valve" the one i would reccomend is V211A3-ABNS as it has a silicone seal, but there are others avalible. (the part number is from norgen).

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Monday, 09/20/99 20:17:12 GMT

    Thanx for the contact in OKC ,made contact right away everyone in this line of work seems to be very friendly. Gary

    Gary Monday, 09/20/99 22:20:45 GMT

    Gary, In the U.S. that has come from the struggle to bring blacksmithing back from the dead. Years ago when there was no Kayne and Son, Centaur Forge or Norm Larson Books and ABANA chapters were far and few between, you could show up on almost ANY blacksmith's doorstep, express an intrest in blacksmithing and get a place to stay, a meal and a LOAD of education about blacksmithing. You were treated like FAMILY. Most of us from that era are still that way and we try to spread the "Blacksmith's Helping Blacksmith's" theme to every new smith we meet. Today most of us are buisness people who's time is in great demand and we cannot afford to drop everything for a wandering stranger. However, it still happens and the proliferation of blacksmith information web pages is further evidence of a continuing tradition.

    -- guru Monday, 09/20/99 23:31:26 GMT

    Champion color -- I have a belt driven Champion blower made in 1890. That appears to have the original paint and it's Red.

    Allen -- hammar at Tuesday, 09/21/99 00:45:12 GMT

    That's two votes for black, one for red. I've seen red blowers but didn't think they were original paint. Might have been. . .

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/21/99 02:30:04 GMT

    Help, help, help. I have an old railroad forge and need information on it. It has the word Phoenix cast in the table. I need a picture of how the belts attached to the blower from the flywheel and how the handle was attached. Please reply to e-mail. Thanks for your help.

    Stoneyoaks -- dcliford at Tuesday, 09/21/99 03:22:34 GMT

    I'm looking for information about a rocker arm for a "The Mayer" manufactured by Kaukanuna Machine Co. Model No. B252 50 lb.Ram.

    cactus max -- cactus-max at Tuesday, 09/21/99 03:56:45 GMT

    Many thanks to you gurus........Pete

    Pete -- artgawk at Tuesday, 09/21/99 04:39:59 GMT

    MAYER HAMMER: Cactus, These are early Little Giant hammers. Call Sid Sudemeier for parts (see our Power hammer Page, manufacturers list).

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/21/99 13:47:25 GMT

    I have a couple questions. I want to make a table with a steel top. I plan on using the same thickness steel that is used for duct work. I would like to mount this onto wood the same way that you would if you were doing a formica counter top. This table is going to only be decratave so I am not worried about durability. My questions are: 1) Is there a glue that would be best or will contact cement do the job? 2) Is there a way of using a router bit to flush trim this with the edges the same way you would trim formica. I am worried that just using tin snips will not create a smooth cut.
    I would appreciate any input.

    Brian Vesnaugh -- brianv512 at Tuesday, 09/21/99 14:47:50 GMT

    STEEL/GLUE: Brian, You can certainly use the same glue but the surface preparation of the steel sheet is important. "Black iron plate" or hot rolled plate has scale that WILL pull loose from the metal along with the glue. Bright finished sheet stock is OK. Hot roll will need to be sandblasted or chemicaly cleaned (phosphoric acid). Zinc plated (like ducting) will also require aging for glue to adhere.

    Triming is a problem. Routers run at thousands of feet per minute while steel cutting speed (even for carbide) is down in the hundreds. You could probably rig up a piloted cutter in a low speed electric drill and do the job. A high speed steel cutter needs to run at 100 ft/min or less while carbide can run 300 ft/min. This will equate to 500 to 1000 RPM depending on the cutter size.

    If I were doing this job I'd get the steel cut as close as possible (maybe 1/16" - 2mm overhang) and then grind the edge flush with an angle grinder.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/21/99 15:09:09 GMT

    Help o great guru.
    I need a source for smallish bits of tool steel, for tools of course.
    I need h13, s7, and perhaps o1. Making hot punches, chisles, drifts and so on, and getting tired of de-mushing my current tools.
    Would want 1 1/4 sq, 3/4 sq, 3/4 and 1/2 round in 1 to 3 ft lengths.
    Humbly awaiting your kind words.....

    tim pilcher -- leepil at Tuesday, 09/21/99 20:53:32 GMT

    Tim, Industrial and machine shop suppliers carry Starrett tool steel in every imaginable cross section in 18" (460mm) and 36" (915mm) lengths. These pieces are annealed and ground. They carry O-1 and W-1 (I think). They will also carry centerless ground "drill rod" in O-1 and W-1 in 36" lengths.

    For mail order in small quantities try McMaster-Carr. They carry ALL sorts of materials including all the ones on your list. They have a web page (see our links) and will take your credit card. They are fast and efficient. It's difficult to get one of their catalogs unless you have a commercial account but they have an on-line catalog. I think it requires Adobe acrobat (which I personaly DO NOT recommend).

    Spring steel and axels from automobiles makes excelent tools. Since the specifications vary you have to trial and error the heat treatment but for the price you can afford it. Coil springs have to be unwound but torsion bars have a long straight section. Cheap imported (flea market) tools are often made of good steel that is poorly heat treated.

    Tools that mushroom are better than tools that crack and spall. Inteligent smiths would rather have a soft striking end on a tool than one that is so hard that it mars their hammer.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/21/99 22:24:38 GMT

    TOOL STEEL: I forgot to mention that I've never been to an ABANA chapter meet that someone wasn't selling some type of tool steel. I've bought Atlantic-33 (flut-agon), H-13 and band-saw blade stock. At the AFC Tannehill meet a variety of other tool steels were being sold and I bought 100 pounds of steel rivits!

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/21/99 22:29:50 GMT

    I have a Canady Otto blower with stand.It's painted red and i think it the origional color

    kid -- none Wednesday, 09/22/99 00:20:12 GMT

    Cabinetmakers use files(after routing) to finish the edges of laminates (formica) and aluminum edging. I'm not sure how this would work with steel. If you use contact adhesive to attach the metal to the wood, the file stroke should be across and down at the same time, to avoid picking up the edge of the laminate material. Keep the file nearly perpendicular to the edge you are filing, just far enough away to avoid scoring the other surface.

    mikem -- mmilbourne at Wednesday, 09/22/99 00:46:58 GMT

    Mike, I was going motorized because if *I* were making a steel covered wood table I'd be using 16ga material. Grind it close and then file at a low angle to finish.

    Both methods and subsequent sanding have the problem of possibly imbedding metal in the wood. When wet, iron makes black stains in most wood. Even if kept dry most varnishes and other finishes absorb water and moisture DOES get through.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/22/99 04:12:23 GMT

    Salaam, Guru!

    I've been forging knives off & on for about 5 years. Mostly spring steel. I built a propane forge from a 5 gallon gas can, lined with kaowool. Heats great, even reaches a welding heat with no problems. I also built a treadle hammer.

    After a while off, I got hit with the "fever" again. I've been having great luck forge welding cable damascus, and am now trying layered steel damascus. 1095/1018 and 1095/L6.

    The welding is not the problem here. It's drawing out the billet in preparation to cut, stack, and take a second (and third, fouth, etc.) weld. I can't seem to keep my layers flat when I draw out the billet.

    I was wondering if you have heard of anyone trying to draw ot a damascus billet by hot rolling? I guess I could design & build a small hobby sized unit. Maybe there are some plans out there somewhere that you know about.

    Any wisdom & input would be most appreciated!


    Glen Marcus (AKA Centaur) -- gmar at Wednesday, 09/22/99 06:28:43 GMT

    Glen: If you mean that the layers curve up to become exposed on the wide surface of the bar,then that is caused by the reduction in thickness during the drawing out. This effect can be reduced but not eliminated by making many light passes under the hammer or press rather then rather than one or two heavy passes. Using fuller dies rather than flat dies will also reduce the amount of layer curvature. A rolling mill will produce the same effect,but to a much reduced amount. Ratio of width to thickness also will effect the curving.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 09/22/99 11:57:55 GMT

    guru,thanx for the lead! C.M.

    Cactus Max -- cactus-max at Wednesday, 09/22/99 12:58:52 GMT

    guru,thanx for the lead! C.M.

    Cactus Max -- cactus-max at Wednesday, 09/22/99 13:00:08 GMT

    Hello Guru and all other "hard science" guys out there.
    The low-tech buff is in need of advice and regrets sleeping during math-class. Im planning to build a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookshelf out of round stock mild steel. Got the CAD, got no idea how to calculate the distances and the thickness needed so the whole thing doesnt fold up. Im talking serious book-loads here. Could anyone help, in a way that even I understand?

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Wednesday, 09/22/99 18:42:51 GMT

    I'm new to 'smithing. Built my coal forge and found coal and started.
    After some modifications to my forge, some things are starting to work. Started on basic shaping and welding. Problem Coal. Last night I discovered that I could weld a bar horseshoe, when I first started (the coal was left over from the weekends work. But, after adding green coal and going throught the coking process, I couldn't get the weld to stick. Coal in air dry state is 8.6% moisture, 36%?? Sulfur, 11.6M BTU. No moisture brings it up to 12.6M. Is it too cruddy to weld with?? What about other general work?? My first weld looked great last night under the halogen; could bend and shape the weld with no give. BUT with first light, I could still see the seam line on the edges. Any suggestions appreciated.

    Nolan -- Ndorsey at Wednesday, 09/22/99 19:02:12 GMT

    Im sure the Guru and others can give you a more in-depth explanation, but if you mean you can see where the weld is on the raw piece, before any filing or grinding, then I would say thats normal. The metal swells out and can often fold a little around the weld. Old construction-iron in old buildings often has quite visible welds. Otherwise, concerning forge-welding in general, Id like to use that most famous american expression: "Shit happens."

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Wednesday, 09/22/99 19:22:20 GMT

    Brian, about your table progect- work the other way, the soft material to the hard. Cut your metal the size you want then make your table just slightly over sized. Then with a belt sander you can easily work the wood down to the metal. Be careful when you get close to the metal that you don't heat it up too much, it will make the glue fail. Sometimes when I've done this the sheet metal will pop up in the middle, like a big air bubble and it WILL not go back down. So I've been cutting the sheet into patterns and using nails or screws to hold the edges. One last thing rough up the parts to be glued and clean with alcohol. Lots of luck, hope this helps. Pete

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Wednesday, 09/22/99 20:43:44 GMT

    Guru, I am a sculpture student at the U. of Minnesota. I have done a good amount of forging in my years here. We are working on an old coal forge. A while back I had the oppurtunity to do some work on a natural gas (?) forge and have since feel in love with it. So much so that I have gotten a grant to build on for us at the U. Now I could figure out pretty well a design but I was wondering if perhaps you could give me any infromation on the best way to go about constructing such a device. Anything would be useful, Thank you very much.

    Tim Dowse -- superbadtim at Wednesday, 09/22/99 20:50:04 GMT

    I've got a small(3") machinist's vise made by Holland, Erie PA. (now defunct)I rescued it from the scrap heap, as it has been abused and is broken. I like it enought to want to repair it.
    The problem is the Acme nut for the 3/8" screw. The nut is a bronze casting which dovetails into a slot at the bottom rear of the vise. I'd like to make a new one of steel and hand file the dovetail to fit the slot. The trouble is the Acme screw is a square thread and I can't find a source for a nut that will fit.
    I have considered casting the nut in babbit inside a piece of steel tube using the screw as a mold but worry that it won't hold up to the task. What do you think?

    riclieb -- riclieb at Wednesday, 09/22/99 23:14:41 GMT

    I've got a small(3") machinist's vise made by Holland, Erie PA. (now defunct)I rescued it from the scrap heap, as it has been abused and is broken. I like it enought to want to repair it.
    The problem is the Acme nut for the 3/8" screw. The nut is a bronze casting which dovetails into a slot at the bottom rear of the vise. I'd like to make a new one of steel and hand file the dovetail to fit the slot. The trouble is the Acme screw is a square thread and I can't find a source for a nut that will fit.
    I have considered casting the nut in babbit inside a piece of steel tube using the screw as a mold but worry that it won't hold up to the task. What do you think?

    riclieb -- riclieb at Wednesday, 09/22/99 23:17:31 GMT

    Olle, Seems that's what I get PAID for :)

    Bookshelves not only see BOOK loads but the occasional "live" load of someone not quite tall enough to reach the top books. . . Add 300#

    How tall? How long of spans? What size stock do you WANT to use? What are the shelves to be made of?

    Horizontals are calculated on deflection not loading. Don't want the shelves sagging (looks bad). Deflection increases at the cube of the increase in distance! Column loading is the hard part. You wouldn't want to go with pipe for the verticals would you? Give me a little more info.

    If you anchor the thing to the wall you can get away with pretty light construction.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/22/99 23:41:06 GMT

    Hello There. This BArney the Blacksmith from North Bay Ont Canada. I have a drill press made by Can Blower & Forge Co Ltd in Kitchner Ont the press number is 614. I looking for a picture of the arm that pushes the drill bit into the stock to be drilled. Mine has a broken arm on it and would like to know what it looks like so I can build a new one..Any pictures Please....

    Barney -- barney at Thursday, 09/23/99 00:51:12 GMT

    ACME THREAD: Riclieb, There are square threads and there are Acme threads. They are different! Acme threads have 15 degree slope on the sides while square are at 90 degrees and common on vises.

    McMaster-Carr has a variety of acme nuts (hex, cylinder and flange). They also have acme taps. 3/8" is standard in 2,4,5,8,10,12 and 16 TPI.

    You can also consider pouring zinc aluminium alloy (pot metal) around the thread and carving THAT. Be sure to heavily soot the thread and use an unworn section (a candle or raw acetylene flame). ZA-24 or Zamak melts at 750-800F and is poured below 1,000F. It is common to cast around steel objects (to make handles and such). Zinc is nearly as strong as bronze and is a better bearing material!

    -- guru Thursday, 09/23/99 03:18:16 GMT


    My dad made a bookcase using just thin-wall conduit for the uprights, and 1 x 12 pine for the shelves. Shelf length is about 5 ft. Drill holes in the wood for the pipe, then drill holes in the pipe to put finishing nails through to hold up the shelves. He used spring loaded dowels with crutch tips to hold it against the ceiling. And it is still standing, after 35+ years.

    Joe Simon Thursday, 09/23/99 15:10:50 GMT

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at

    I just love it when we're all scratching our heads trying figure somthing out one way and someone comes along and tackles it from a whole different direction! We all thought the question was how do I make the steel even with the wood? We should have been asking how to make them even with each other. Of course you're quite right, that probably would be the best way to do it.

    grant -- nakedanvil Thursday, 09/23/99 18:36:44 GMT

    Hi All
    I am looking for some information on an anvil. I know, I should have "Anvils in America" and certainly wish that I did right now.

    This anvil has side markings that I could barely make out. There is a crown that is very much like the one at the base of my Peter Wright and under this crown there appears to be the word "WRIGHT". All of the other markings were not clear enough to make out. There is no pritchel hole and the hardy hole (7/8")is centered on the heel and not off to one side or the other. The table has one square edge and one edge that has a radius. This anvil is probably in the 130-140lb area with a stocky body and wide face. It is in very good conditon.
    Even though it says "WRIGHT" it looks nothing like my Peter Wright in detail. Can you tell me anything by this description?

    Dale B -- dbarr at Friday, 09/24/99 00:26:33 GMT


    Sounds like it MIGHT be a very early Peter Wright. When he left Mouse Hole forge to start his own business, his first anvils looke a great deal like the Mouse Holes of the time.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 09/24/99 12:35:44 GMT

    Dale, It is probably an old style anvil. The London pattern is the basic shape but early anvils had poorly defined feet and were proportionately wider with a short horn. Anvils prior to 1830-40 generaly did not have a pritchell hole. Later Peter Wrights defined the perfect London pattern shape and typicaly had a nicer shaped horn than the Mouse Hole anvil.

    The radiused step may have been something someone else did later. However, makers often removed half the step for special farrier's anvils. I have a Hay-Budden that got this treatment. Half the step was removed (looks like it was ground off) and there is a second pritchell hole that is not quite as close to the heal as is normal. Later, farrier's anvils became even more distinct to the point that they are almost too springy to be of use for any but the lightest forging.

    There are tons of little distinctions like this that most people do not see when looking at an anvil. Those familiar with various anvils can usualy tell one brand from the other just by its silouette.

    -- guru Friday, 09/24/99 12:49:07 GMT

    Do you know if the gentleman listed below has an E-mail address or does he only correspond by phone and snail mail?

    H "Sid" Suedemier
    420 4th Corso
    Nebraska City, NW 68410

    Thank you for your help.

    Ernest W. Simmonsen -- dirty.ernie at Friday, 09/24/99 14:55:22 GMT

    Hello Guru,

    I am not a metallurgist, I am on a work term at transport Canada, aircrafts services. Workers here sometime treat metal parts thermically, and they quench them in a drum of oil. The problem is that this drum of oil have been here for at least 10 years, and nobody knows for sure what's in it. They think it's fish oil. Now we have to dispose of that oil. To do so, we have to label it correctly, according to transport of hazardous materials laws, and to send it to the right disposal company. I want to know if it is possible that fish oil is used to quench metal parts, and if so, can I be sure that it is fish oil. Thank you very much.

    Lo Veilleux -- VEILLEL at Friday, 09/24/99 19:01:55 GMT


    I would suspect that Cod Liver Oil has been used for a quenchant, possibly other fish oils as well. The best idea probably would be to have a chmical analysis made of a small sample. That should tell you exactly what you are dealing with. Other things may have been added to the original oil, so there really is no other way of telling for sure what you have.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 09/25/99 00:28:42 GMT

    Guru, oh mighty one
    Thanks for the info on tool steels for hot work. But another
    question is like a flea in my mind.
    If I heat treat these tools, then use em in hot iron, they get
    stuck, and get hot and the heat treatment is for naught?
    Is any of that true, I am going to use H13, and will heat treat it
    but, stuck it gets, gone is the HT. I would appreciate any thoughts
    you or others may have on this.

    Tim Pilcher -- leepil at Saturday, 09/25/99 01:25:48 GMT


    When punching into or through hot steel, if you will dip your tool into coal dust before doint the punch, you will find that it will not get stuck nearly as often.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 09/25/99 01:43:50 GMT

    I get good results from wheel bearing grease to keep the punches from sticking too.

    Jerry -- birdlegs at Saturday, 09/25/99 03:18:13 GMT

    Hi, Guru I have a couple of questions. First do you or anyone else know a good supplier of blacksmithing tools in Connecticut? Secondly, I have been forging for about 2yrs now and I recently forged a small piece of damascus from two pieces of band saw blade and two large pieces of all-saw blade. My problem is that although I use ample borax and heat it up enough I can't seem to get my welds to hold through multiple heatings. The welds either come apart or don't seem to be well joined to begin with. Could I be under/overheating the metal or am I missing a step somewhere. Any advice anyone could give would be great. Thanks.

    Sean Finlayson -- Grootoo at Saturday, 09/25/99 15:24:25 GMT

    Guru ,
    Gary here from Oklahoma , like I said earlier I,m a newby.The anvil I found is an old Peter Wright an it has two holes on the sides of the base they are tapered inside different on both ends.
    what are these used for?

    Gary R. -- mustadseed at Saturday, 09/25/99 17:40:57 GMT

    Gary, Those are handling holes. Bars with tapered ends were stuck in those holes so two men could lift the hot forging. I expect there were jib crane supported tongs that also used the same holes. There is a hole in the bottom of many anvils used for the same purpose. However, its mate is hidden inside the weld joint at the waist.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/25/99 18:42:43 GMT

    OLD QUENCHING OIL: Leo, You may have a problem identifying that oil. Even modern references list some rather strange brews for quenching oil. If may be any one of or a mixture of any common oils including fish oil, linseed oil, cottonseed, sperm and lard oil, petroleum oils (motor and gear), mineral oil and even castor oil!

    The real problem is that in a few instances transformer oil (the kind that contains PCB's) was used as quenching oil. It has this wonderful property of being non-flamable or having a high flash point like many synthetic oils.

    I suspect that the only way to know is the services of a chemist. In the U.S. you would have to have it certified as containing no PCB's at a minimum. Then it is probably going to have to be labled "mixed organic and mineral oils". Other than testing for what it is NOT there is a good chance it cannot be identified. Sorry for the bad news.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/25/99 21:49:31 GMT

    LAMINATED STEEL WELDS: Sean, This is a question better answered by grandpa, however I have a few sugestions.

    The two steels you have selected are most likely both medium to high carbon alloy steels. They will both have their own seperate problems. In most laminated steel you use layers of hard and soft alternatively to produce a steel that has the characteristics of both. The soft low carbon steel or wrought iron welds better and being more flexible produces a stronger joint than the other side of the laminated joint. You appear to making a billet from two high carbon alloy steels. The problem with alloy steels is that the contents of one may not be compatible with the other. The alternate layer of plain low carbon material prevents this problem.

    The saws-all blade may be a high-speed steel. In this case the material is almost impossible to heat treat and is definately NOT something you want in your mix. The other problem with drawn saw steels is that there is severe mechanical working of the surface. The surfaces should be removed by grinding with a belt grinder/sander before welding. This also makes sure you have a clean surface to start.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/25/99 22:01:49 GMT

    SID SUDEMEIER: Ernest, We have tried to drag Sid into the "real world" and he has said he MIGHT get an e-mail address at some future date but at this time he does NOT have one.

    Hey, the phone worked! Had a nice chat about CanIRON.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/25/99 22:14:16 GMT

    Help! We recently inherited a 30"x30" metal grate that had been made into a coffee table. I had it sandblasted to get rid of rust & old black paint & it is now a light gray color. How can I get the metal to a dark gray without the use cf paint so it looks like an old piece

    Rose -- ecreclr at Saturday, 09/25/99 22:40:40 GMT

    I want to make a leatherman-style multi tool. What process do you
    recommend for producing small batches (10-100 pcs) of pretty precise
    (guessing .1mm ~ 4mils) tool steel parts? Options (I have very
    limited experience) seem to be:
    pouring molten metal into molds
    CNC milling
    Are there others that I am missing, and what are the + and -?

    Jeremy Rutman -- rutman at Sunday, 09/26/99 09:38:29 GMT

    CLEANING IRONWORK: Rose, That is the natural color of clean iron/steel. If the grate was a cast item that was its natural color from the foundry. Any other color was paint. If the grate were hand forged the original color may have been that wonderful grey/blue/black of forged or hot worked iron/steel. This surface is "scale" a hard black iron oxide. The surface texture would have been different than sand blasted bu not a great deal different, it just would have been covered by scale. If the grate was old outdoor piece when it was turned into a table the original surface may have already been weathered (rusted) off or painted over. There is no way to replace the original finish in this case.

    From this point paint is your only recourse. Use a good hard laquer finish. Automotive touchup laquer is available in small spray cans sufficient to do the job. I'd use serveral closely related colors (black, dark grey, blue-black) applied from different angles.

    For new outdoor work I always recommend sand blasting and a three step paint process (zinc primer, neutral primer, top coat). However, antique ironwork is generaly cleaned the hard way (by hand) or using a non abrasive blasting process such as with walnut shells or other soft media to remove paint and try to preserve the original surface.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/26/99 15:50:02 GMT

    Rose, another option is to let the piece rust or accelerate the rust with a rusting agent (clorox bleach + water). Then clean, wire brush and apply a wax finish. The result will be a dark brown. If you use a power wire brush (on a drill or grinder) some highlights will be created in the rust finish. Wax finishes require constant maintenance but this produces a wonderful patina of age over time. However, most people don't have the time or patience for a "living" finish.

    I try to persuade my fellow smiths from NOT using these types of finishes because their customers don't want high maintenance items either. They ARE beautiful and natural but they are also short lived.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/26/99 15:58:49 GMT

    TOOLMAKING: Jeremy, I'm not clear about the type of tools you are discribing. Rarely are small high stress parts cast. They are made by forging and machining processes. Tools can be hand shaped from annealed (softened by heat treatment) tool steel with files, drills and common machining methods. Tools are also hand shaped by forging (heating to a plastic state and working with a hammer). Forged tools are often used directly after heat treatment but are often annealed and worked further by hand or machine and then hardened and tempered.

    Certain types of small high strength steel parts ARE cast using the investment casting process. This is a specialized high production field.

    Look for a book on knifemaking (they are numerous and all good). Most cover making blades by forging and by stock removal (carving from solid). They also discuss various alloys, heat treating and finishing. There is a lot to learn and this is a good place to start.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/26/99 16:10:28 GMT

    I'm a metalsmith/jeweler and a friend just bought me a small (65#) anvil that I want to resurface. So I'm looking fo information on the best procedure to bring it back to a near-mirror surface. Can you point me to any articles or books? thanks. --randy rasmussen

    randy rasmussen -- xcentric at Sunday, 09/26/99 16:24:10 GMT

    Is there a guide to tempering mediums and the steels touse them with I'm getting tired of the resulst I get with water and refrigeration oil. Im advanced enough to have built an ABANA forge (without the aid of a seminar I might add ) and own a bar of 1200 layer patterm welded steel , yes I made it myself from s2 (jackhammer bit) and 5160 (coil spring)with the help of Bill Epps and his 50# hammer. But other things have been getting in the way for the last 3 or 4 years , thats another storie. Would appriceate help with this. thanks

    larry -- lbcurtis at juno.comj Sunday, 09/26/99 22:05:10 GMT

    Natural Black: There are several metods i use, they may or maynot be correct but they work for me.
    1. Heat Item to about 200 to 300deg, apply "Danish Oil" with an old paint brush, do this outside and wear gloves and protective gear.
    2. Heat item and apply "Turtle Wax Black Chrome" (also knowen as bumper black), this penetrates the surface of the steel.

    If the peice is to large to fit in the forge i use a propane torch, cut back on the air so you get a billowey type flame and a bit of carbon depositing onto the item, this also helps with the colour.

    Remember, after you oil reheat to acrberize the surface or the peice will stay oiley.

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Sunday, 09/26/99 23:28:18 GMT

    TEMPERING MEDIUMS: Larry, the medium is less critical than being at the right temperature. If you are doing critical hardening and tempering you need to KNOW the temperature. Thermocouple temperature gauges are available from Omega and ceramics suppliers. For special tempering operations see Don Fogg's article on salt bath tempering (link from our links page).

    Oil OR water should be tepid to warm not cold. Having sufficient volume of both is important. If you are doing production hardening the oil bath must be water cooled (heat exchanger coils, radiator and fan).

    In a pinch you can use iron-constantan or chromel-alumel themocouple wire twisted and TIGed together and a millivolt meter. Omega catalogs have voltage to temperature conversion tables and they will sell you the wire. They may even have some of that data on their web site.

    -- guru Monday, 09/27/99 00:14:38 GMT

    ANVIL FACES: Randy, New anvils have a good finish in the 64-32 R.M.S. range (blanchard ground, one pass) but were far from a mirror finish. The face is hardened tool steel so the only method is to grind and polish (with ah, lots of elbow grease). You may be able to find a machine shop with a BIG surface grinder that can handle an anvil. The height is generaly the killer and the face is rarely dead parallel to the base.

    If *I* wanted that kind of finish I would start with a belt sander and lots of water. Start with a coarse belt (60 grit) and move up to about a 180-240 grit (what ever is the smoothest available) in several steps. Then hand finish with 180 grit wet-or-dry with water and then 320 and water. After that I'd use Dupont (orange) Automotive rubbing compound on a worn cotton baby-diaper. It would take about 2-3 days but you could see yourself in the finish. Then oil it ASAP!

    NOTE: Its not worth finishing a cast-iron anvil.

    -- guru Monday, 09/27/99 00:51:06 GMT

    I wish to make wood carving tools and need to learn the best carbon content to different uses. I have been collecting steel for a while, but I need a way to test each source for carbon ranking. Do you have suggestions and or sources for quick and simple evaluation?

    George Blackman -- gblackman at Monday, 09/27/99 07:09:16 GMT

    I would like to get plans to build a gas forge, or find someone who makes them,
    thank you, nate

    nate -- betty at Monday, 09/27/99 14:20:45 GMT


    I would'nt expect much contrast between those two steels. Most "jackhammer" bits are 1045 or 1078, the ones I manufacture are 8630. More common to use steels at opposite ends of the spectrum, like 1018/1090, a soft/hard combination.

    grant -- nakedanvil at Monday, 09/27/99 15:27:45 GMT

    I am new to blacksmithing and I would like to know how to decorate an axe head with wire inlay or some other object of my choosing. I don't know what kind of chisels to use. Any help would be appreciated. I am going to take a blacksmithing class the second week of October. Also has anyone ever done any glass inlay in iron? I read it in a blacksmithing book I have and it sounded really neat to try and make.Thanks a lot. Randy

    Randal Camp -- longbow1 at Monday, 09/27/99 17:36:43 GMT

    Just a question: Why should anyone glass in their iron. Ive had reason to melt glass in my forge a couple of times,(for period dress accessories) and the big problem is to get the durn stuff OFF the iron when your finished.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Monday, 09/27/99 18:04:55 GMT

    CARBON STEELS: George, The spark test will help to an extent. You grind a piece on a bench grinder and observe the sparks. The more branching and fuzzier the sparks the higher the carbon level. Alloys change the results creating different spark patterns. Having samples of known composition to compare to helps. Many welding books have spark testing charts.

    Alloy steels are more common today than plain carbon steels. Some require oil quench, some air quench, some water. When using scrap or found materials you are taking the risk of identifying the steel yourself. Knowing what the steel was used for helps but is not a guarantee. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has the SAE list of steels and their uses. Testing by hardening and tempering and then apply mechanical tests is about the only way to tell if a specific x-steel is suitable for a specific use.

    If you are concerned about quality tools the best thing to do is purchase known tool steels from a supplier. Starret flat stock is annealed and ready to machine. Hardening and tempering instructions come on each package. Common 0-1 or W-1 makes excelent wood working tools. The type of steel is not nearly as important as care in manufacturing and especialy heat treatment.

    The best wood carving gouges I ever used were a set I made from British car leaf springs and oil quenched. I don't know the specific alloy but I know it made tools that seemed to get sharper the more you used them. My tang design was lousy but the cutting edge has turned at least 100 pounds or so of hardwood (walnut, maple, cherry) into chips. Haven't resharpened them since I made them.

    -- guru Monday, 09/27/99 20:30:13 GMT

    GAS FORGES: Nate, All our tool advertisers sell gas forges and Bruce Wallace is one of the newest NC Forge dealers. For plans see our plans page for rough ideas about blown forges and the Ron Reil page (from out links page) for "atmospheric" forges. ABANA also sells plans for the Sandia Labs recuperative forge.

    -- guru Monday, 09/27/99 20:47:04 GMT

    Can you give me some tips on forging titanium?

    kstritty -- kstritty at AOL.COM Monday, 09/27/99 23:55:24 GMT

    Need foundation plan for Nazel 3B, including dimensions for bolt layout for the hammer frame and anvil, also bolt sizes. Appreciate your help, Tom.

    Tom Gambino -- pattomgambino at Tuesday, 09/28/99 02:10:18 GMT

    I am looking to study as an apprentice under a blacksmith but I am having trouble finding a good teacher in the Santa Barbara area. Any information or advice for an eager student would be welcome.

    Alex Yarovoy -- ayiii at Tuesday, 09/28/99 04:15:01 GMT

    Hey Guru, Do you know anyone that can tell me how to decorate a axe head with wire inlay? I would really like to know how to do it. What kind of chisels do I need? Thanks. Randy

    Randal Camp -- longbow1 at Tuesday, 09/28/99 12:08:56 GMT

    I have been stockpiling shockabsorbers from my vehicles for years (so I'm a packrat!)don't have a lot. I planned on using them (the shafts that is) for prichels and forepunches. What kind of metal are they made of and how is the proper way of working them?

    Nolan -- Ndorsey at Tuesday, 09/28/99 14:28:52 GMT

    SHOCK SHAFTS: Nolan, I'm not sure what they are made of but they ARE a very strong alloy steel. A friend of mine uses shock and strut shafts for punches and hot work tools with a lot of success. Some he oil quenches and others he just uses as-is.
    INLAY: Randy, Cutting the grooves is the trick. A small graver's (engraving) chisle is used to cut straight sided or slightly undercut grooves. The wire is then hammered into the groove. No magic to it. Another method is to use silver-amalgam (the stuff used to fill your teeth by the dentist). It is a paste made from mercury and a silver compound. Work it into the groove and burnish with a light hammer. Ask your dentist for details :)

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/28/99 22:11:23 GMT

    Dear Sir,
    I have an intermediate level of skill in metal work and arc welding. I hope over the next 10-13 years to develope my skills to the point where I may use them to suppliment my retirement income. I find the craft a pleasureable passtime.
    I am interested in the art of blacksmithing and feel it would be an asset to my skills. I would like to know where I may find detailoed plans to build a cola fired forge. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You,
    Mark Suchocki

    Mark Suchocki -- dilligaf at Tuesday, 09/28/99 22:53:51 GMT

    TITANIUM: kstritty, Can't say I have much experiance with it so I'll have to tell you some of what the book says. Titanium is considered to be of medium forgeability (half way between aluminum and nickle based super alloys). Forging temperature is relatively low and varies with the alloy (550F to 975F). The ranges are fairly narrow for individual alloys. It is recommended to (always) use preheated dies to help reduce heat loss while forging.

    "Because even low levels of oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen may has serious detrimental effects on properties of titanium alloys, contamination during heating must be minimized. Vacuum heating and some types of inert atmosphere are suitable for the purpose"

    If you are doing critical work in exotic alloys then you should purchase ASM's ASM Metal Reference Book and Forging from the ASM Metals Handbook series. If you are using scrap titanium then you need to identify the alloy before forging it.

    On the other hand, if you are producing art, then go to it! Titanium produces the most wonderful "temper" colors.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/29/99 01:31:54 GMT

    FORGE PLANS: Mark, Currently we only have plans for a beginners "brake drum" forge. It can be built from junk with little or no welding so it is a good starter project. I think the Blacksmith's Journal has a decent forge plan for someone with your skills. You might want to join your local ABANA chapter and attend a few of their meetings. They are almost always in blacksmith shops and you can learn a LOT from just looking at what others are using.

    Check out the side draft forge hood in our AFC edition of the NEWS and the last pages of the ABANA conference coverage. Side drafts are much better at moving the smoke than the traditional hood. Hoods are trying to force all that cold air from their large opening into the stack along with the smoke. The result is a lot of the smoke has no where to go except into your shop :(

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/29/99 01:39:50 GMT

    Tom, Sounds like your 3B is a 2 piece hammer. If so you can use any 2 piece hammer foundation plans to get a general idea and modify them to fit your needs. As for bolt layout I use a piece of plywood. Pick up the hammer and place it on the plywood to locate and drill the holes. I then use the plywood as a template, hanging my foundation bolts from the plywood and pouring concrete around them. As for bolt size, measure the bolt holes in the hammers frame. You want the anchor bolts to be at least 3/16" to 1/4" smaller then the hammer frame holes. You should also cast the anchor bolts in pipe at least 1/3 their length from the top. The reason being, it will give the bolts some movement if their location is off slightly. The bolts should be about 6" from the bottom of the foundation hole before you pour the concrete. They should also have a 90 degree bend so they don't pull out of the foundation when you torque the hammer down. One thing to remember. Do it right the first time and if big is good bigger is better. After you have your foundation poured, you shold not set the hammer on it for at least 2 weeks. Wait another 2 week after that before you use your hammer. Happy hammer-in.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 09/29/99 03:29:53 GMT

    Guru, I live in Utah and I am looking for a hammer of any kind. Hardly any of that kind of stuff around here that I can tell. Any info on hammers that might be within shouting distance fo this place and affordable? Maybe will have to try a JYH. Thanks for these postings, they really help a beginner like me.

    Scott Vickrey -- vickrey at Wednesday, 09/29/99 06:04:28 GMT

    I am a researcher, who is trying to get knowledge about hardening in salt bath. When the bath consists of sodium nitrite and potassium salt, what emissions leaves the bath when you use it, and has anybody performed exposure measurements on the people who works close to the bath. (see more about us at

    Mats Karling -- mats.karling at Wednesday, 09/29/99 08:14:43 GMT

    could I have some info please on the efficient methods (machines) to ball the end of round bar and to sharpen same, thank you.

    dennis -- Wednesday, 09/29/99 11:07:59 GMT

    Guru, I have a solid copper kettle approximately 32-34 inches in diameter. It was made by the Picking Company in Ohio. I had an automobile accident and the kettle was damaged fairly heavily. I am looking for someone in the Houston, TX area or at least the southeast Texas area, who is a good coppersmith. The kettle will need to have some areas cut out and new ones patched in. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    Paul Ragsdale -- ragsdale at Wednesday, 09/29/99 14:01:43 GMT

    Tom, One other thing that is very IMPORTANT when you set you 3B or any other 2 piece steam or air hammer. There is a safety mark on the ram. You do not want your hammer to down stroke past this mark. If it does the results could be catastrophic. You could bottom out the ram in the cylinder and severely damage the hammer casting. You should give yourself at least 1" to 1-1/2" clear space from this mark for anvil foundation timber compression and die ware.

    The safty mark is equally inportant on one piece hammers as you ware and grind dies. You don't ever want to grind dies past the piont where the safety mark can be seen.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 09/29/99 14:21:35 GMT

    damascasing steel - how do you get the finished definition and what are the best steels to tart off with?

    nick westermann -- forgin at Wednesday, 09/29/99 17:37:56 GMT


    KEVIN -- KEVINR at CETLINK.COM Wednesday, 09/29/99 18:05:49 GMT

    Nick: Most patternwelded steel is finished with an acid etch to develope both topography and color. The most commonly used is ferric chloride solution ( archers etchant from radio shack ) 10% and distilled water 90%. Immersion for five or so minutes then neutralize (bakeing soda, ammonia, etc.).
    If you are making the stock for a knife or other tool use tool steels, for jewelry use mild steels. 1095 + A203e is a good combination for knives. 1095/01, 01/L6, 1095/15n20 are all good for knives. 1020/wrought iron, 1020/A203e, A36/A203e are all good for jewelry.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 09/29/99 20:32:59 GMT

    BALL END: Dennis, There are forging machines called "upsetters" that make mass on the end of various shape bars. They come in mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic. They all work pretty much on the same principle. There is a gripper die that grips the hot bar and a ram that presses or hammers the end to make it bigger. For making large upsets modern practice it to make a long truncated cone in one pass then reshape that as needed.

    After upsetting the same machine (in some cases) or a forging hammer or press would be used to manipulate the end into the final shape.

    Upsetters are common in industrial forge shops but are rare in blacksmith shops. In low production a blacksmith will do the upsetting in a similar fashion but without the gripper die. The description of your shape is a little vague. In many cases a simple power hammer die may be able to produce the shape in one step rather than several.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/29/99 21:59:25 GMT

    COPPER KETTLE: Paul, repairs are not too difficult to make on these. They are assembled by braze welding which many welders and blacksmiths may be more capable of than a coppersmith. You may also be surprized how much repair can be done in copper without desorting to cut and patch.

    I do not personaly know anyone that does this type of work. However, I expect you may get some response from your query here.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/29/99 22:19:01 GMT

    FINDING HAMMERS: Scott Vickery, Power hammers are like anvils, they ARE where you find them. Sounds trite, but it is true. Although Utah is full of lots of empty spaces it also has a lot of old mining and associated industry. I've bought a Little Giant out of a cellophane plant and a friend of mine has a wonderful Bradley that came out of a chemical plant. I know of a very nice Chambersburg that came out of an Ice Creame plant! We have corespondents that have bought complete shops (with hammers) in most unlikely out of the way places.

    It took me years to find my first anvil. I went to hundreds of farm auctions and scowerd antique shops. These were the wrong place (in this area). Industrial auctions were the place to go AND old industry (open OR closed). This is true of anvils AND power hammers.

    Don't knock farm auctions. I HAVE bought anvils there but most were pretty sad. The BEST anvils I've had were GIFTS! Tell EVERYONE you know what you are looking for, stop in those old industrial looking places. TALK to people about what you are looking for and be prepared to follow leads immediately.

    It also helps to join your local ABANA chapter and go to the meetings! Your fellow smiths will have found what you are looking for many times over!

    -- guru Thursday, 09/30/99 00:29:30 GMT

    I am writing on behalf of my father, whom has recently purchased a Canadian giant power hammer. It isn't working and he would like to fix it. If you have any pictures or diagrams of one that has been taken apart (an exploded diagram) it would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time.

    Heidi Kilsby -- dkilsby at Thursday, 09/30/99 05:07:45 GMT

    Paul: If you are loooking at repairing the kettle for historical reasons themn you may like to try and locate a silver smith, I was trained by a silver smith and as jock says you would be surprised just what you can do without cutting and patching.

    Copper is wonderful, you can shrink, stretch and form it, even if the dent has formed a crease its often possible to pop the crease out and smoth it over, however if you do need to get it welded you must insist that the person know how to sweat the swo peices together, this will form a join that will be nearly invisible.

    Good Luck

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Thursday, 09/30/99 05:27:57 GMT

    Hi, I have been doing blacksmithing work for at least six or more years,for a hobby. Im a bout builder but the fascination about blacksmithing stuck to me since childhood about 50 years ago. My dilemma has been fire welding mild steel hot rolled. I get it to stick but only in the best of time if I put a chisel to it its open. I have read and read about it ,but it drives me mad. Its embarrassing I can to nice fish tail snub-end scrolls, and water leaves, and do all the scrolls needed for gates. But I cant weld a darn. My fire pot is a centaur coal forge I have a good blower,and nice soft coal.Please Help me. Oh, yes I also ues Welding flux E-Z Weld.

    Heinz Zach -- zach_dae at Thursday, 09/30/99 06:21:36 GMT

    Could it be that you get any copper into the fire? Since you are a boat-builder i suppose you use copper nails and rivets. It used to be a vicious "joke" in the old Swedish bar-iron forges to slip a piece of copper into your mates fire. His welds wouldnt stick till he cleaned out the firepit. Dont know exactly how it works, (Guru?) but copper has great affinity for iron-oxide, so I clean the firepit if Ive had reason to heat copper in it.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Thursday, 09/30/99 17:05:46 GMT


    BILL -- BILL1468 at PRODIGY.NET Thursday, 09/30/99 17:21:41 GMT

    FORGE WELDING: Heinz, There is more art to forge welding than science. I'd try plain borax for flux or no flux at all. When the pieces are right for forge welding they will stick together in a reasonably good weld without any force. Some folks hit the first blow too hard and not only drive out the flux and dross but the liquid metal that would have become the weld. Even though the surface does not need to be liquid the combination of putting two pieces together and then adding energy by striking it DOES make the surface liquid for a brief time.

    Olle, I've heard the same thing (about copper) but do not know the truth of it. However, a dirty fire does make it more dificult to weld. Know your steel. I know that you said "mild steel" however, they make low carbon leaded bar stock for screw machine work. Its wonderful stuff the machine but the devil to weld.

    Frank Turley recommends that you make a faggot forge weld every day (piece bent back on itself). The faggot weld is the easiest to make so it is a good place to start.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/30/99 17:59:13 GMT

    I'm trying to figure out how Bill Epps does the wings on his hummingbird. First thought is that he welds them on after he shapes the tail, body and head. I have thought of splitting the back half horizontelly, turning the bottom into the tail. Then splitting the top vertically and bending each of these pieces out from the body, but can't figure out how to flatten the wings without flattening the body. Or is there a book where the plans can be found??

    Dave Schwellinger -- dschw at Thursday, 09/30/99 20:35:32 GMT

    Hello, first at all I'm not very good writing in english so please forget my writing.
    I'm a mechanical engineering student in merida venezuela and also a beggining blacksmith, so I write you because I'm planning to make a air hammer as a proyect in my studies and a tool for me!, but I don't have any information about it, I'm needing information of how it works,structural plans of diferent hammers, and all that you think is good for me.
    thanks for your attention, and if you need anything from here, just say it.

    Johan Cubillos

    Johan Cubillos -- Johan_Cubillos at Thursday, 09/30/99 22:30:05 GMT

    Dave, Have you checked out the iForge page? I think the hummingbird is made similar to the swan. No welding but I remember it was a little tricky. He said something about them being easy to break off. It is one of our better on-line demo's.

    Although Bill has volunteered many step by step methods for making numerous items, I purposely DO NOT record and report demonstrators methods step by step when I report the news. I could, and have plenty of oportunity. I have several reasons for not doing so.

    • It may be a demonstrators original trademark item

    • If it IS original the creator is the only one that has the right to publish "how-to". It is their choice.

    • I think people should come up with their our ideas or methods

    • I hate when some lowlife "borrows" one of my ideas and then takes credit for it AND I hate it almost as much when it is someone else's idea.

    Years ago I watched a smith whom I shall not name, but who is fairly famous today, taking step by step notes on how a British smith made his famous frogs. He made notes and drawings and asked repetitive (what I thought were stupid) questions and asked the demonstrator to repeat steps over and over again. . . I thought the frogs were GREAT! But they were another artist's trademark item! If *I* wanted to make a frog I would figure it out on my own. It might be better! It might not be as good. But it would be MINE! And I would have learned more by doing it the hard way.

    It is a HARD choice for someone in MY (this) business. I know that everyone does not have that creative ability. I respect them no less because of it. But I do not respect those who would claim the creativity of others.

    Bill will probably do his hummingbird live on anvilfire at some date in the future. But if he does not it is HIS choice.

    Meanwhile, you will learn more trying to solve the problem on your own. Some smiths find it useful to work in clay. Work out the techniques there and THEN try it in iron. Its a LOT less frustrating!

    -- guru Thursday, 09/30/99 22:42:32 GMT

    AIR HAMMER: Johan, ABANA sells plans for the Ron Kinyon "Simple Air Hammer". On the Alabama Forge Council page there are plans for the modification of the control circuit of the above hammer. On our Power hammer Page we have a review of the small "new" air hammers (currently out of date) and there is a diagram of the cylinder and valve for a Niles-Bement air hammer in the article on my "new" hammer.

    Some basics. The anvil should be 15 times the mass of the ram. A 100 pound (ram) hammer's air cylinder should have about the same lift ratio (15:1) at 100 PSI (air). Larger hammers have lower ratios (8:1, 6:1) and smaller hammers should have greater but rarely do.

    The basic control principle is that of a common air cylinder operated by a 4-way shuttle valve. The valve swaps the intake and exhaust ports. It is controlled by a small pilot valve that acts like a switch. On the "new" hammers the operator opens a valve that exhausts air from the cylinder. As the ram passes the pilot valve the shuttle valve reverses the ram motion.

    This should get you started.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/30/99 23:04:51 GMT

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