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THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.
This is an archive of posts from September 1 -7, 2000 on the Guru's Den
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I recently obtained (free) a 75 or 80 lb anvil. It still
"rings" when struck but the main flat surface is rather
scarred. Can an anvil be milled or re-surfaced without
ruining is temper. I have assembled or built most of the
parts necessary to start shaping iron. I am 66 years old and have done some soldering, brazing, welding. and operated
a surface grinder, miller, shaper and several other machine
shop tools as part of my career in semiconductor research.
I have just retired for the second time and want to give
blacksmithing a try. Thanks for your help -- John
necessary to start
John  <jashworth at snet.net> - Friday, 09/01/00 01:38:57 GMT

Ignore my earlier question. I'm new to your site and a little further searching answered my question. Thanks John
John  <jashworth at snet.net> - Friday, 09/01/00 01:59:39 GMT

Anvil Face: John, Good anvils have a tool steel face that may be Rockwell 58-65c. The face is ground smooth after hardening at the factory. I'm sure you know its possible to machine a part that hard but very rough on the machine even IF its big enough and rigid enough.

Most old anvils are wrought iron with a forge welded tool steel face that varies in thickness from 3/8" to 5/8" before the factory ground the face. Then there are the cast iron steel faced anvils that had the face welding on "in the mold" during casting. Both types can be seperated from the body by heat stress or abuse.

I generally reccommend grinding the face with a hand grinder and or belt sander. If you have a couple inches of good face over the body I suggest you live with it and work around the defects. You would be surprised at how small an area gets used (or is needed) for forging.

A big perfect anvil face is nice to have but sometimes expensive to obtain. Keep the anvil you have in good shape and keep an eye out for another to "trade up" to. You will find that once you get into it there is a lot more equipment available than you would think.

OBTW - Small anvils are worth more than "average" sized anvils (100 - 150 pounds). Then the prices go back up for the more desirable "shop" anvils of 200 pounds and up.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 02:04:47 GMT

John, Not only do we have a lot of info here we also answer questions promptly. . . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 02:12:56 GMT

what is a champion ships wheel no. 2 tire shrinker in excellent condition worth, must weigh 1500lbs., also champion number 1 and 2 tire benders in great shape too.
david rotz  <attrictrunk at hotmail.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 04:04:56 GMT

I am getting started in blacksmithing and am building a portable brakedrum forge. I was wondering what size fan i would need and what the recommended cubic feet per second would be. Thanks Franklin
Franklin  <blackwzl at cs.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 13:12:13 GMT

I am getting started in blacksmithing and am building a portable brakedrum forge. I was wondering what size fan i would need and what the recommended cubic feet per second would be. Thanks Franklin
Franklin  <blackwzl at cs.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 13:13:10 GMT


I'm actually considering purchasing a brand new anvil ($$$) for my hobby of traditional old-fashioned blacksmithing (i.e. no power). The Peddinghaus double-horn 275 lb attracts me but I also see expensive Refflinghaus anvils, and I just found the usual-looking Nimba Forge anvils. What would you recommend? P.S. I currently work on an old 122 lb anvil that I had to repair substantially (build-up beatdown edges and mill top flat...yes, sparks from the hard spots....:( It's pretty good but I'm a big guy and, I can make it bounce around a lot when I get going good.

Thanks very much for your time.

Scott Little  <little at earthtech.org> - Friday, 09/01/00 13:15:30 GMT

Dear Jock & staff at Anvilfire,

First, Thanks for your help and advise several years ago through Blacksmith's Virtual Junkyard about achieving welding temp in my Mankel's Knivemaker propane forge. The puddle of steel in the floor of the forge is silent testimony to the temperature achieved.

I would like some guidance in selecting a Metal Lathe. I have the MSC Catalogue and think I would like something like the Prazi Masterturn 5x12" Hobby Lathe or the Powerturn Precision 7.5 x 16" Benchtop Model.

My need requirements at this time is basically to shape steel in repair of knives and making of new knives. But, as with my "knifemakers forge" I have enjoyed blacksmithing to the point that I am making other projects 10 to 1 to knives. I would like a quality lathe that has some degree of expandability so that I won't be replacing it in a year as I learn and find the numerous unimagined projects I can do with a lathe in my smithy/shop.

As you can tell, I need the advice of seasoned smiths to help guide me to the most approptiate lathe and accessories you have needed and that I may need as a dedicated home recreational blacksmith.

Most Thankfully,

Foy Mitchell Jr.
Foy Mitchell Jr.  <fmitch at usit.net> - Friday, 09/01/00 14:51:16 GMT

Anvils: Scott, Peddinghaus is the only forged anvil made today. They are the hardest anvil I've tested. However, they have had some QC problems when it comes to finish. Ask your dealer how the current product is. The Nimba is a beautifuly finished anvil made of heat treated cast alloy steel. These are both top of the line anvils.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 17:23:02 GMT

One little suggestion on naming convention for the archives ...
If the name is designed from the general to the specific, it is easy to sequence/sort them, locate one in the long list, etc.

For example, the format gyyyymms.htm would be easier, I think, where yyyy = 2000
mm = 09
s = a
for the first archive of september 2000 (g200009a.htm)

This site is a truly amazing source of information. Thank you sincerely.

denisv  <denis.verreault at pwgsc.gc.ca> - Friday, 09/01/00 17:32:17 GMT

HI from California!

I have a basic metal question. I bought a used aluminium ice bucket for my friend but it has some dents. I would like to know if it is possible to solder metals onto the aluminium surface. I'm thinking of doing some cut-outs in other metals (i.e. copper, brass, aluminium) and soldering them to cover up the dents. What do you think?
And, do you have other suggestions how I can cover the dents so it looks attractive?

Thanks for any help and advise you can offer! I am just a home crafter with a desire to make a special birthday gift that is unique!
Roxann  <rziegele at aol.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 17:36:52 GMT

Foy! Its been a long time! Glad your forge is still working well. Seems you were have a hard time getting it up to heat :)

Lathe: First, AVOID all "Hobby" lathes. I haven't been in the market for a lathe for a long time but a short while ago the combination mill/lathes and mini lathes were pretty bad.

A Lathe is a tool that you almost always need a bigger one. Get the biggest you can afford within reason. Many "accessory" items that are sold seperately are actually necessities and need to be purchased with the lathe. These include
  • 3 Jaw Chuck
  • 4 Jaw Chuck
  • Jacobs drill chuck
  • Live Center
  • Steady Rest
  • Tool Holders (I prefer the old style, left right and center)
  • Boring Bar

A classic "Tool Room" lathe was 16" x 36 or so. This is large for jewlers type work but a good average size for a blacksmith shop. You often need work to fit through the hollow spindle and this size lathe will take about 1". Its a need that is often overlooked. Length is given between center, not chucks and drill bits. Work capacity shrinks rapidly.

The other tools that are not part of a lathe but are also necessities are a dial indicator and precision measuring tool. I prefer standard 0-1" indicators over "test" indicators. The most useful measuring tool is a good set of 6" dial calipers.

Maybe some of the other folks here know what brands are good today.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 17:42:49 GMT

What kind of prices are forges bringing these days? I have a few that I would like to sell (old but usable) and I'm not sure what to ask for them. I paid very little for any of them-one I got for nothing. I have people asking me about the price and I don't know what's fair these days. Thanks for any help!!
Charliie  <dkemper1 at blazenet.net> - Friday, 09/01/00 18:44:11 GMT

Aluminium Ice Bucket: Roxann, IF the bucket is to be used for potable drinking water or ice you do not want to try solder it. For one thing aluminium is very difficult to solder. It is also very electro chemicaly active with other metals. You will get corrosion and metals disolved in the water (if the solder is inside). NEW plumbing solder is Tin/Silver and not too bad but all electrical solder and old plumbing solder has lead in it.

Generaly aluminium must be TIG welded (Also known as heliarc). This requires expensive equipment and a high level of skill.

For adding decorative elements to the exterior of an aluminium vessel I would use clear 5 minute epoxy. Just follow the directions and remember there is not solvent to clean up with.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 21:18:04 GMT

Naming Conventions: Denis, You are exactly right. However, like a lot of "systems" this one didn't start with a plan. It also started out with a archiving in two month increments, then months, then biweekly and now weekly. It needs to be setup as a database but then there needs to be a system to link questions and answers as well as comments. . I know there are "tree" type forum systems but they get just as screwy as any. . Right now it is all waiting for a crazy volunteer programmer to sort the unformated info records then into a database. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 21:24:22 GMT

Prices: Charlie, Your Forges are not too hard to price but in this business it all depends on who is buying and who is selling (as you well know). Most old forges are selling for $125 to $250 depending on size, condition and like I said, who wants it.

David. Yours is a little different situation. Tire shrinkers only have value to wheelrights and they are few and far between. I've never known a regular smith to EVER use a tire shrinker. . . although many have them.

The tire benders are a different story if they are in good condition. They are useful for all kinds of ring rolling and curve bending. $100 to $200 are typical prices although these folks also made huge motorized machines that still sell for 10's of thousands of dollars. These will roll angle iron and channel the hard way. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 21:34:13 GMT

Forge Blower Size: Franklin, Sorry, I almost missed you! Forge blowers need to be from 150 CFM (about like a blow hair drier) for a small forge up to about 300 CFM for a large forge. A 1/10 HP motor is big for this purpose. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 09/01/00 21:37:04 GMT

Help!! Want any info on bilding a sun dial. thanks Spence
Spencer Schultz  <vandyne at execpc.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 04:04:38 GMT

I was wondering, I saw an anvil at Harbor Freight that was
cast iron, made in china, 55 Lbs, and had a hardie hole.
I know its a very poor anvil with no ring at all, but can you do any blacksmithing with it or is not even worth looking at?
Don  <ti899 at aol.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 05:46:42 GMT

They are not really the right shape for an anchor but that is probably what they are best for....Hype not withstanding.
Pete F - Saturday, 09/02/00 06:46:16 GMT

the price to ship should be allmost as much as the anvil. that is a very small anvil for blacksmithing and it is allso a rather small anchor. you can work on thse (ive done it) but there is alot of lost energy when you do, it makes working 1/2 inch feel like working 1 inch. they are not realy worth the money.
MP  <mparkinson at mpmetalworks.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 13:50:33 GMT

CAST IRON ANVILS: I'm glad you guys said it first! The faux anvils below were found at a popular farm supply. We did a rebound test on them and the concrete floor next to them had more rebound (see our anvil series on the 21st Century page).
Cast Iron faux anvils

These should be labled
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 16:18:05 GMT

MORE: The faux anvil in the middle above is your 55# model and the one behind it 88 or 90# and the little one 5# I think. Pat McGhee, who help me set these up for the photo (in the store), gave me one of the small ones as a joke gift. I use it as a paper weight in the shop.

Those top "plates" are just part of the casting that is machined to look pretty. For someone that just needs something to ocassionaly pound on this are suitable lumps of metal. However, forging, even for the hobby smith is more than occassional pounding. The tool steel real anvils are made of does a LOT. It provides the rebound that puts more energy into the work. It is stronger so that edges don't crumble and horns break off. The hardness resists wear and doesn't become marked up and rough (unless abused).

Cheap cast iron anvils are not a new phenomenon. They have been around for a LONG time. Major retailers listed them in catalogs from the late 1800s on. . Over the past few years traveling for anvilfire I have seen thousands of used anvils, but I have never seen an OLD cast iron anvil. . Nor a piece of one.

IF you cannot find a good used anvil and cannot afford a good new anvil then we have a solution on the 21st Century page. Look under "anvils - low cost"
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 18:03:20 GMT

My blacksmith shop has been in operating for about a year. My primary interest is making knives. I have made a variety of knives, I am now interested in new ideas. I have been unsuccesful in locating knife patterns to further my hobby. Any assistance that can be provided, would be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks for your time!
Marvin Foxworth
Marvin  <foxworth at datasync.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 18:20:06 GMT

I have a suggestion on the cast iron "anvils" how about stacking a couple of them up as a base for your real anvil?
Probably not as good as a stump, but it would be better than nothing. And the fish would probably be happier without having anvil shaped anchors dropped on them.

Iron Horsey  <what.me at worry?.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 18:20:32 GMT

I`m Roman, 28-year old, and I`m from Slovakia. I`m working as a blacksmith here but in a few days I`m gona study english for some months in Sydney/Australia. I`ll have to visit my school regulary every day because of visa and I`ll be allowed to work just for 20 hours per week, but I don`t wanna forget my skills even if it`s possible to learn something new. Please, could you help me to find any blacksmith in Sydney who can accept my cooperation, as a work could by fine but it`s possible for me to help him just for fun not for money. Thanks for everything
By Roman
Roman Hanusek  <romanhan at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 22:37:31 GMT

Knives: Marvin your best bets on-line would be:


In print there are many knifemaking books (try Norm Larson or Centaur Forge). There are also some unusual designs in Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork as well as general metalworking inspiration.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 22:42:17 GMT

Fish! Iron Horsey, Oh my gosh! Lets not get PETA involved with what to do with cast iron anvils!

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 09/02/00 22:54:37 GMT

Thanks a lot, but i have another question also in the
Harbor Freight catalog they had a tool steel 55lb anvil for $69. Can you do any small blacksmithing with it?
Don  <ti899 at aol.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 00:33:43 GMT

Sundials; Spencer:

Try "Sundials, Their Theory and Construction" by Albert E. Waugh (c) 1973, Dover Publications; ISBN 0-486-22947-5; LoC 73-76961. This, and several other sundial books should be available at your local library or through an inter-library loan. There is a lot of math and science to these seemingly simple devices.

Cast Iron Anvils:

Actually, they make lousy anchors, only slightly better than rocks and worse than the traditional Southern Maryland "cinderblock with a rope tied through it." However, I have actually found the small ones useful for light (cold) copper work (ring pins and such). They do make good paperweights, and I keep one at work and another on my table at craft shows to hold my cards for Oakley Forge. They are marginally better than a smooth, flat rock, but rocks are cheaper. (...and yes, I've used smooth, flat rocks at medieval encampments. Looking for some nice basalt.)

I'm back from Tucson. Had dinner with Eric Thing, our armorer friend, and saw the power-hammer he won at ABANA/Flagstaff, as well as his pictures of the event. Now, all he has to buy is the compressor! Luck does have its limits, alas.

Cool and humid on the banks of the lower Potomac. Looking forward to being at home, having been on the road four weeks aout of the last six! Spider webs all over the forge!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come have a row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Sunday, 09/03/00 03:22:52 GMT

Ye gads, Paw Paw!

I'm glad you were able to walk/stagger away! Left my backup safety glasses at L'Anse aux Meadows. Definately going to get some more pairs so they are convenient throughout the shop. There's always the temptation: "this isn't that dangerous, and it will only take a few seconds...OUCH!"

Glad you're on the mend. They look like sabre scars to me. It should enhance your historic interpretation.

Pax Vobiscum.

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Sunday, 09/03/00 03:46:52 GMT

Please help me I seem to have an incurable case of insomnia. Due to the fact that I cannot figure out how the treadle hammer works. I mean this is really baffling me. Now I have been blacksmithing for 3 years and I do it for a living. So monday to friday from 6am to 3pm i am in the shop. So I am not completely lost in the shop, but this seems to be a brain teaser to me.
Bill Myshrall  <swage at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 05:48:38 GMT

Help...am looking for a source for stamped steel balls in the sizes of 1" - 6"....would you have any ideas for sources of them? Would appreciate any info...
Marc Gaiger  <www.artmaster at rpa.net> - Sunday, 09/03/00 05:52:43 GMT

I would love some information on how to guild a sword. I am just starting out and I would love your help. Thanks,
Jonathon  <plumgod at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 06:11:37 GMT

I am looking for classes in welding and wrought iron.
I live in South Orange County, California.
Could you please email me any local schools or colleges that offer classes.
Looking forward to your response.
jessica  <avalon at avalondesign.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 07:40:53 GMT

So CAL: Jessica, Contact the CBA (California Blacksmiths Association) . . . OR ABANA. Your local chapter can put you in touch with other blacksmiths and local schools and suppliers. See our "Getting Started" article for more suggestions.

Hmmm would someone out West let me know if the CBA address has changed? This one would not work for me this AM. . (could be a network problem).

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 14:49:32 GMT

Paw-Paw's Scar: Yep, he is already working on sword fight stories to woo the young lasses. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 14:50:39 GMT

Steel Balls: Marc, Blacksmiths either make them or use steel ball bearings (available from various suppliers). The problem with bearing balls is that they are high carbon steel and welding them is a bit of a problem. They weld but there is a question of strength and durability.

6". . . That is a HUGE steel ball (heavy too). You'll have to have them custom forged.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 14:54:42 GMT

SMITHY TOOLS: This morning I recieved (as many of you did) a mailing from akl at aol.com complaining about quality and lack of support.

I wrote to his return address and it did not exist or was forged. I was going to offer to help resolve the problem as a member of the "Press". However, since the return address is bogus the rest of the letter may be lies too.

Truth or lies? Most of the this type of thing spread by bulk mail on the net has been lies or half truths. Always check the source. If the source does not exist or hides then don't believe it. Don't forward it. Don't repeat it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 15:35:30 GMT

"STEEL ANVIL for $1/POUND: Don, I would read the fine print VERY close. Then ask, How hard? Is is heattreated at all?

In most developed countries it costs over $1/pound ($2.20 kg) just to cast a piece of steel or to cut a slab of plate. Then there are machining, grinding and heattreating costs. This results in NEW tool steel anvils costing on average $4/pound ($8.80 kilo). I have seriously looked at the costs associated with manufacturing anvils and the factory prices are generaly very fair.

On the other hand. It MAY be possible to do the task for a lot less in some third world country. However, many of the low cost imports have serious quality control problems as well as questionable descriptions of the product. Anvil manufacturing is not easy. Properly heattreating (hardening and tempering) that big a piece of steel is very dificult. It is a step often ignored by various modern makers. My general experiance with low cost imports is that they are not worth the aggrevation.

They may be OK anvils. However, I'd want to see and use one before reccommending it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/03/00 15:52:41 GMT

Works for me to get to the CBA page.

Of course it could be something about the server(s) you are going thru......
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Sunday, 09/03/00 16:23:26 GMT

I've built my first floor lamp for the house. What is a good way to finish the piece?
Glen Jones  <glenjones at datasys.net> - Sunday, 09/03/00 21:04:11 GMT

Marc, Try archirondesign.com for stamped mild steel balls 1"- ($.45)to 4"-($13.35)
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Monday, 09/04/00 00:53:53 GMT

Lamp: Glen, Paint over clean steel. See my articles on corrosion on our 21st Century page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/04/00 01:48:22 GMT


Buy GOOD safety glasses! They're worth every penny, believe me!

"Yes mam, that Johnny Reb broke his saber when he whacked me, but I fixed his little gray wagon! I fed him a yard of Federal Steel, right between the belly button and the saddle! Took him most of a day to die, and he cried the whole time! Sounded SO good!"


Marc G,

Try the Lawlwer Line, 1-205-595-0596, ask for their catalog. Also, King Architectural Metals, Iinc, at 1-800-542-2379.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 09/04/00 02:31:35 GMT

I have a couple of questions. The first is I recently bought a forge at auction for $50.00. It is a Buffalo forge that measures about 2' by 3' it is cast iron with a handcrank blower and a vulcan firepot. The problem i'm having is the firepot sits about 3" below the cutouts in the sides of the forge and I have trouble heating long pieces in the middle. I can't seem to build the fire up high enough and if I do I can't get it hot enough. What should I do? The second question is I was looking at the Australian JYH on the power hammer page and was wondering if two leaf springs could be substituted for the shocks in this type of configuration ( ). What would be the advantages and disadvantages? I havent been smithing for very long sorry for the long question.
Brian  <bkit72 at aol.com> - Monday, 09/04/00 15:35:00 GMT

Forge: Brian, GOOD buy! The fuel you are using may be the problem. In these big forges you need a good grade of coal and LOTS of it. The entire forge gets filled about half full (up to those notches) and mounded higher over the firepot. With enough fuel you will get a very nice welding heat at that level.

Many folks that don't like to use so much coal raise the firepot on a layer of fire brick. Shallow fires work but it is a different technique and almost always scales the steel more. Some folks build a forge from flat plate with a 1" lip and then set the firepot into that.

Spring action hammers such as the Champion work quite well (Bow spring and toggles). All the shock absorber hammer gives you is a quick and dirty linkage and automatic height compensation. Other hammer types must be limited in their useable work height or have adjustment built in.

The shock absorber hammer does not hit very hard but it is easy to build. Spring and toggle hammers hit much harder but require a lot more parts. I've been trying to find time for a year to convert the EC-JYH to shocks with a flat spring spreading the shocks at the bottom. This doesn't give the full advantage of the toggle linkage but it would provide some over travel so the hammer hits harder.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/04/00 15:52:48 GMT

do you know how to retemper a laminated plane blade? Ive been tempering tools in gas kitchen range and was going to bed the hard steel lamination in clay as in samuri sword tempering but I have no real concepition of how long to temper or at what temp...(325 for a plane blade 375 for chisles?)thanks..woody
woody glenn  <wooderson at jahoopa.com> - Monday, 09/04/00 17:02:52 GMT

Marc; BTW, if you find a source for balls over 4" of any kind of steel would you let us know.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Monday, 09/04/00 18:47:23 GMT

Laminated blades: Woody, All heat treatment depends on the type of steel and the results that you are looking for. Some steels the minimum temper is 450-500°F while others are as high as 1,350°F. If you don't know what kind of steel you are dealing with then you can't temper it properly.

In general you temper for the highest carbon steel.

But WHY are you "retempering" blades? Tempering is only one step in the heat treating process. Double and triple tempering is sometimes recomended but only at the original temperature and immediately after hardening. If you over temper a blade it will be soft and thus ruined without starting the heat treatment process all over again. Tempering is something done by the manufacturer to their specifications. It is NOT part of user maintainence like cleaning and resharpening.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/04/00 19:47:44 GMT

i've been having trouble finding any good info on smelting wrought iron.i have a good idea how to make the smelter i need to find out charcoal/coal to iron ratios and any other procedures necessary.could you point me in the right direction.thank you.i like learning old techniques in putting them to use.
walter chubeck  <crusader at stargate.net> - Monday, 09/04/00 23:26:06 GMT

Disdressing/Discoloring Metal
I actually not involved in blacksmithing, but I would like to know more about metals for home projects. I am hoping you be able to suggest a resource that lists various reactions of metals to various chemicals. Such as what would I soak some steel hinges in to turn them black? Thanks!!
Shelly  <littlebrewnet at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 00:53:02 GMT

Hi, Great site! I'm a beginner(although I've been involved for a number of years). I found a bar of iron one-and-an-eigth in. thick and about 6 ft. long. It turns out to be wrought iron. I know that it is uncommon, is it of uncommon value, or can I use it for normal projects like hooks, pokers, etc.? Also, what's the best way to split this bar; hacksaw? Thanks very much.
Larry Barrieau  <bowdoin at usa.net> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 02:09:23 GMT

How should I go about cutting railroad rail? I was planning on using my oxy/acet torch, but I'm worried the rail will heat up too much and lose its hardness. What should I do? I need the full hardness for my power hammer dies.
Loren  <and8995 at olywa.net> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 02:22:34 GMT

Bloomery: Walter, I've got THE site for you. A couple guys not far from me have been making wrought iron for a couple years and are getting fairly good at it. I've got a ton of photos to do a LONG overdue article. .

The Rockbridge Bloomery
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 02:31:38 GMT

Coloring Metals: Shelly, Look for gunsmithing books at your local library or try Norm Larson books (see Getting Started). MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK also has many standard methods for coloring metal. Please note that almost ALL the chemicals for these process are VERY nasty. Things like Nitric and Sulfuric acid, lead and arsenic compounds. . . Bad stuff.

Also note that ALL chemical finishes are a form of oxide finish and are not suitable for outdoor use. Most are mearly a surface to hold oil. Stop cleaning and oiling that pretty gunmetal finish and it rapidly deteriorates.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 02:37:27 GMT

Wrought Iron Bar: Larry, That is a merchant bar. That is the normal (large) size that came from the Blommery or mill. However, even in the 1700's they had rolling and slitting mills to produce smaller bar sizes. Curently valued at $1-$2 pound. That is three to six times the price of common mild steel.

Split? If a smith needs a small section he would normally take a short piece and forge it (draw it out) into a long small bar. Of course this was accomplished with the assistance of a "striker" or two or three. Strikers are workers that wield sledge hammers for heavy forging. They were apprentices, Journeymen, bondsmen of slaves. All low paid. The modern smith uses a power hammer.

Wrought is good for all kinds of projects but it is highly valued for use in making laminated steels and other exotic projects. DO NOT use it for apprentice work!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 02:51:08 GMT

RR-Rail: Loren, it can be sawed if you have a big enough saw or a strong enough arm. Flame cutting high carbon steel (rail is reported to be 1075) makes an extreamly hard flame affected area with some softening about 1/4" away. Rail is fairly hard but it is not heattreated for your purpose. Used rail is almost always work hardened AND has cracking and cold shuts from extrusion of the steel under the stress of heavy wheels.

If you are concerned about doing it "right" then you will want to normalize, reharden and then temper the dies made from 1075. They should be drawn back quite a ways since 1075 is a little too hard for powerhammer dies at maximum tempered hardness.

Building a JYH I just cut, grind weld and use em. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 02:59:50 GMT

Anyone know how well a Mankel gas forge with 2 burners and a blower works. I have an opportunity to buy one, and noticed that one entire side is open, rather than just one end as in a gas forge built with a pipe. The ends of this forge have steel side plates that can be removed for insertion of long bar stock. Just wondering what experience others have had with this forge.
doug  <dendrud at earthlink.net> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 03:37:26 GMT

I am wondering if you can suggest a good hand drill for drilling holes in pieces that don't fit on a drill press. Also, if I want to punch a hole in a bar and drift the hole open to join another bar, what shape should the punch be? Thank you very much.
kevin - Tuesday, 09/05/00 03:42:53 GMT


What is the deal w/this Links to Go that you are now a part of? I looked at it, and saw several of the "Pubber" websites listed. As I clicked into it to get info, it seemed to state that it would cost $79 per month to be a part of it, I feel that is a LOT too steep. Is that correct, if we want our website linked or listed as yours, Paw-Paws, etc, then it will cost a whopping $79 per month???
Let me know
Best regards,
Sharon Epps  <S-Epps at besmithy.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 04:23:56 GMT

Sharon, that price is just for you..it's a lot cheaper for the rest of us....The thing to do is slip Jock a $100 under the table and he'll give you a discount too.
Pete F - Tuesday, 09/05/00 05:20:34 GMT

Mankel Forge: Doug, its a great tool. See our review of NC-TOOL forges. Similar thing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 05:24:08 GMT

Drilling and Punching: Kevin, The tool for drilling big steel is called a 'Magnetic Base Drill Press". THE niftyest tool ever invented. See the JYH supplement of our NEWS for one in action. I'm pretty sure I put a picture of one in there.

Then. . the best drills I know of are made by Milwaukee. Always get the slow speed models for drilling metal. I'm not impressed with their new model with the funky chuck. Jacobs makes the ONLY drill chucks that are worth anything.

I recently did a series of demos for iForge on punching put they are not posted yet. I think I may repeat them starting Wednesday night in our new system so they will be posted ASAP.

Punches vary depending on what you want to do. Flat faced punches remove material, sharp ones combined with drifts swell the part. Standard flat punches should have a minimum of a 7° included taper and radiused corners.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 05:34:48 GMT

Web Indexes: Miz Sharron, I think you just submit to Links-to-Go like any other web index. They rate your site by how many other sites link to you. This is based on a huge automated web searchs (usualy of their database). I didn't pay to get listed OR for preferential treatment. But we work hard to get there.

Currently anvilfire gets "referrals" from some 800 sites a month and 1000 sites in the last quarter. This is the number of web pages and web indexes we are on.

In the beginning we had to ask others for links on their pages in EXCHANGE for a listing on our links page. Now we have others asking US for a link exchange several times a month. AND we occasionaly still ask when we come across page that looks like its users would find anvilfire useful. However, 90% of those referrals come from pages I've never visited! THANK YOU WORLD!

Link exchange (not the banner system), submissions and resubmission to the search engines, having the right balance of key words and description META tags, content that changes. . constantly working the system, is all required to keep a web page "on top". AND the system that works changes constantly. . . Web indexes are a moving target and its rare to get to the top and stay there for any amount of time. Its a LOT of work and it never ends. . .

The deal you saw on Links to Go was probably one where they list you in bold at the top of your catagory. This is a good advertising for a web site with general intrest but not so hot for a specialty site.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 06:36:18 GMT

Dear Guru,
I have a Hossfeld Bender #2 with a couple of dies but am having great difficulty getting info on how to use it. My client needs 1"X1/2"X1/8" U Channel bent to 18" diameter and cut in half. The purpose is to support her 30 lb round glass sculptures. I have their manuel but am unclear as to which dies I need and how to set up bender for use. As of yet I do not have an anvil of forge to accomplish this request. Any Idears?
Laura  <PalominoIrons at aol.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 09:46:49 GMT

I am interested in old fashioned blaksmithing(no power) and would like to know of some good tools, (hammers, etc.) that I would need to start with. I would also like to know of any blueprints/plans anyone could send or direct me to of a small portable forge. I am currently using a cast iron brazier or ship's grill/stove and 2lb and 16oz hammers. Yes I'm still in the piddling stage you could call it. But I love working with the metal and the fiery glow of white hot steel. Please help, lately all I've been able to use due to location is flat bar steel and a side grinder from a hardware store.
bettymcneil  <ichikomi at go.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 13:16:13 GMT

Hello Guru,I live in South Africa and have been unable to find a metal/steel twister that can be bought on the local comercial market.I know they are avaliable in the USA, but with one dollar costing about seven rand, this is out of my budget.I make wrought iron furniture as a hobby,and would like to build my own twister to be able to twist 20 and25mm tubing and also make ornamental baskets.Would you be able to supply me with a plan as how to make such a twister
Gary  <haylett at mweb.com.za> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 14:01:51 GMT

Hossfeld: Laura, The setup for this bend on a Hossfeld is one of their "press bending" setups. The bending arm or handle gets attached to the bender about a foot away from the center hole. Then one of a pair of dies attaches to the arm OR a toggle comming off the arm. The bend is done in short sections by squeezing the work between the curved dies. For this job it requires the exact set of dies designed for 1" x 1/8" Channel AND the radius (I think).

In this kind of setup you can control the radius by limiting how much bend you make (don't push the dies all the way closed). The guage stops on the Bender are used for this. You usualy have to trial and error one or two pieces to get it right.

If my description isn't clear let me know and I'll make a sketch. I've bent a ton of this size channel. Its a lot tougher than it looks. You may have to bend single pieces and cut off the straight ends rather than trying to make a circle and split it.

On this tight of a radius you may have to hot bend. It may be cheaper than dies for the Hossfeld unless you are going to be making a lot of pieces (which it sounds like you may be doing).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 14:10:23 GMT

Old fashioned: Betty, Common cross pien "blacksmiths" hammers are available from most hardware suppliers in any weight you want. 2.5 to 3 pound is a big hammer for most of us. Usualy you have to work up to that. See my post on the subject in the most recent archive.

Besides a good standard smithing hammer it doesn't hurt to have a few ball pien hammers or riveting hammers. However, there is no purpose in having a lot of hammers unless you are doing a wide range of highly specialized work. Most of us use our one heavy smithing hammer for just about everything.

See our plans page for info on Brake drum forges. The plumbing can be adopted to a fabricated firepot.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 14:18:42 GMT

Twister: Gary, 99% of American smiths that use a twister use a slightly modified pipe threading machine. Otherwise a design would include some specific worm gear reducer that may also be unavailable or very expensive.
Look around and see what you can find. Old pipe threaders are fairly common here as plastic pipe is replacing most of the threaded stuff.

Twisting tubing is a bit of a trick. It tends to collapse if you don't support it from inside. One way to do it is to twist the tube with a round bar inside it (oil helps). Another method (best suited to colder climates) is to fill with water and freeze it. One end must be open to prevent bursting the tube. This works for bending too.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 14:28:01 GMT

I'm restoring a victorian iron bed for my daughter and am having trouble finding the 1'3/4"brass bed knobs... I have one but would like to replace all four with reproductions. The knobs look to have a 3/8 threaded base. Any leads to a coppersmith or reporduction house would be appreciated... Thanks
Chris Hubbell  <hubb1946 at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 18:02:09 GMT

Laura: Hossfeld will sell you a manuel on how to use the Hossfeld tool. But setting up the tool with the right dies is only about 10%, the other 90% is experience. Also on your bend, is the "U" in or out? As I've heard guru say before you might want to fabricate your own dies for this one. It might not work and you'll have to throw it away once or twice till you get it right. But you'll keep the knowledge that you gained along the way.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 18:18:08 GMT

To Guru and Pete: Thank you for your answer on that pesky Hossfeld bender problem. I have decided to chuck the channel and use 1/8" round stock. It will be much easier to achieve my half moon shape with that stock and then weld 1/2" sections of 1/8" round stock to each half moon coming out with the half moon cup to hold the glass sculpture.I called a local Ornimental shop and they said they would ONLY CHARGE ME $30.00 PER BEND! Sometimes I think that if I were a Larry instead of a Laura this metal work wouldn't be such an up hill climb!
Laura  <PalominoIrons at aol.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 20:42:30 GMT

I'm looking for blacksmith schools in CA.
I'm a welder in central coals Ca and would like to learn more in blacksmithing.
Chris Van Huss  <c_vanhuss at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 22:08:36 GMT

Brass Knobs: Chris, Several Posts above yours are sources for architectural steel balls. They will have brass finials that should come pretty close.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 23:31:36 GMT

Laura, Your change in stock size is huge. While the channel would probably support 800-1000 pounds the 1/8" round may not support the 30 pounds that you originaly said you needed to support. 3/8" round or square may be more appropriate. However, it is hard to judge without seeing the design.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 09/05/00 23:36:55 GMT

Dear Guru

I've been a bladesmith for about 5yrs and have devoted the last 4 of that to Damascus blades.
I was ask the other day if I had ever made a Damascus gun barrel for a black powder rifle. I have seen a few but never attempted to make one.
I would like to know if there is someone out there who does or has made barrels or if there is any place I should be researching this (books or articles, etc...)?

or if you could put me in touch with someone?

Thank you Colin Stolzer
Colin Stolzer  <stolzer at vcn.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 00:53:10 GMT

Damascus Gun Barrels: Colin, in the early 20th Century almost every shotgun barrel was made of imported (French I think) Damascus. These were black powder guns.
Dixie Gun works may have some literature on the subject (see our links page).

To the best of my knowledge all makers of gun barrels (for black OR smokeless powder) drill them from solid. This is probably for libility reasons.

Your best bet would be to apply the Damascus to a solid steel core, grind the octagon (creating and exposing the pattern), then have the barrel drilled.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 01:37:16 GMT

Hello Guru (and others)
Once again trolling for advice. This weekend I found a large stake anvil in a junk shop, the top is about 2 or 2.5 inches wide and about 16 or 18 inches long, shaped like a drawn-out
Peddinghaus, no major chips on the face, the leg is about 24 inches. No markings that I could find, rusty, but decent condition overall. Any information on this monster, or how high to bid? I'm not likely to get a steal from this dealer.

Also, folks are always asking on this and other sites what to see in museums while traveling, or where to see historical demos/open shops. Any thoughts on compiling and posting a state/city list on the web? Or has it been done yet and I just missed it?
John McPherson  <ahylton at vnet.net> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 03:18:10 GMT


I've gotten my hands on a whole stack of lawn mower blades, I went to anvil junkyard to see what type of steel
there made of and it says mower knives. Would that be the
same listing as for lawn mower blades(the power type) or are they talking the old push reel type blades? If it's for the
old reel type do you know what the new power mower blades are made of?
Thanks, Bill
bill  <camper at usmo.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 03:28:55 GMT

hi there,
just to give you a brief history.
i'm 30 and i've been making knives for 11 years now, forging 5 of those and producing damascus for 3.
my question is: i'm tired of using my "right arm press"
and am trying to get ideas for a hydraulic press. i will mainly be working L-6 and spring steels. i've heard
that i will need at least 30 tons of pressure. can i settle for less and i am also working on a slim buget. do you have any pointers, plans, or sources of good used cylinders etc. any information will be appriciated. thank you sir
steve thompson  <stevehawk1 at juno.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 03:40:20 GMT

Colin: Heins Denig of Germany has made several shotgun barrels that passed the German proof test. He also has made several pistol barrels. Bill Fiorini of Wisconsin has also made several gun barrels and has devoted much time to research on the historic patterns. I made one pistol barrel, but it was never smooth bored or rifled.
The only book ref. that I know of is one of the old W.W.Greener gun books.(out of print for over 100 yrs)
Steve: L-6, and spring steels "can" be worked with as little as 5 ton/sq in, but 8 tons/sq in would be better.
grandpa  <darylmeier at aol.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 04:18:38 GMT

Colin: Heinz Denig describes in his first book how he makes barrels, both of his books are to be recommendet, especially for those who read german, lots of nice pictures on pattern development in both books
stefan  <stefan at imv.uit.no> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 10:52:22 GMT

I visited your site yesterday. It left me speechless. How you got that many five pointed stars in such a small place staggers the mind. I know the owner of the American Bowie must treasure it. I sure hope it was given to the man who was holding it and not to whoever holds the office.
Is there a junk yard source for nickle? What do you look for? Does the term apply to nickle-steel or is it used in its pure form in some discardable item? In short is it worth looking for in the scrapyard or should it be purchased new? How expensive is it?
THANKS (I know that's shouting on the net but that's how much I appreciate what you guys do)
L.Sundstrom, m.i.smithing - Wednesday, 09/06/00 12:37:41 GMT

Larry: Thanks for the compliment. Bush has possesion, but the National Archives has ownership. The stars are made of "a203e", a mild steel with 3.5% nickle. I get mine from American Alloy Steel in Houston, Tx. Pure nickle (nickle 200) costs a lot more ( 10x ), but can be found at the scrap yard. Anodes are the best but not only source.
grandpa  <darylmeier at aol.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 13:12:27 GMT

Museums and Sites: John, We started a page that my wife was going to manage (shes the travel nut) but it did work out. Idea is siting on back shelf looking for a volunteer that is proficient in HTML.

Stake Anvils Most are VERY old. Haven't been made in a LONG time. Tend to sell for around $150/US +/- $25
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 14:38:36 GMT

Mower Blades: Bill, The various lists that circulate are mostly based on information from the SAE list in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. This list originated ages ago and was a list of suggested steels for designers. For almost every item there are several steels listed.

Modern mowers blades are made relatively soft to reduce the likelyhood of breakage and the libility that involves. All manufacturers make their own choices. When using scrap steels YOU become your own metalurgist and have to figure it out yourself. Not only do you need to investigate the steel (generaly by trial and error) but you need to test each piece as you have no idea of the sources.

Short of paying for a laboratory analysis you can only approximate the type of steel via trial and error.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 14:49:18 GMT

What can you tell me about Swedish made Colombian brand anvils. I am looking for a good shop anvil and was wondering if this would be a decent quality anvil.

Jim Amsden
James Amsden  <jamesamsden at olg.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 17:21:13 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am a complete novice. I am interested in making some simple 3 to 5 foot sculptures out of copper sheet and copper pipe tubing, using an oxy-mapp torch,which I have. I cannot take any formal classes because of my work and family schedules. What reference books would you recommend for me?

Thanks, Paul
Paul  <kellettt at aol.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 17:41:55 GMT

Anvil Quality: James, Anvil quality from some manufacturers has varied over time but most of the cast steel Swedish anvils are very good. I've had two and my "big" anvil is currently a 300# Kolhswa. Swedish anvils tend to be very hard and being cast the corners chip if abused.

The only Swedish anvils that have been reported to have quality problems are the late Centaur Forge anvils (that were the the cause of them dropping the line).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 21:13:14 GMT

Copper Scultpture: Paul, Let me recommend some techniques.

Copper is very ductile and can be worked many ways. Copper pipe is of two catagories. Rigid pipe which is work hardened in the drawing process. It is thinner than flexible tubing and should be annealed before attempting to work. Soft flexible tubing has a slightly thicker wall and is produced annealed to make is soft.

Non-ferrous metals are annealed by heating to a low red heat and quenching in water.

Copper can be formed by "repose'", working from the back in a sand bag, asplalt or wax matrix. The sand bag is used for rough shaping using a mallet, ball pien or raising/dishing hammer. The asplalt comes in different hardnesses and often contains sand filler. It or the wax is melted and poured against the back of the metal. The metal is worked until it needs to be annealed OR the range of the matrix runs out. Then the asphalt/wax is removed, the metal annealed and the matrix repoured. This process is repeated as needed.

Copper can also be worked in wooden forms. The forms can be carved specificaly for the job OR made to be universal. Half rounds, cones, hemispheres. The end grain of hardwood logs is best for this. When short lengths of oak log are available atrist/sculptors and armourers should get all they can. .

Blacksmiths swage blocks can also be used but must be polished for use with copper.

Tools include all types and sizes of hammers. Ball piens can be converted to many other types handy for sheet metal art work. You also can't have enough chisles to convert to chasing tools by slightly rounding the edges. For other fabricated tools see our iForge page.

Dona Meilach's books Direct Metal Scupture and Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork have both techniques and inspiration.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 09/06/00 22:09:20 GMT

DEMO TONIGHT IN ROOM 101: Collaring at 9:30 EDT, 6:30 PDT
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 00:04:17 GMT


Thanks for the info on the mower blades, I believe that their more trouble then their worth.
I've made several knives out of 5160 (forging) and would like to try my hand at damascus, can you tell me if there is
a good steel to use with 5160 and what heat I would have to
reach to weld.(no power hammer just an 8 pound forging hammer)
Bill   <camper at usmo.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 00:12:55 GMT

James: "Columbian" brand anvils are not Swedish. They are, however, very good! I've got a 100-lb.er that I'm very happy with. They're cast steel and very lively, made in Columbus, Ohio during the 1920s, if I remember right.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Thursday, 09/07/00 13:05:37 GMT

Hey Mr. Guru - I'm not a blacksmith - though it sounds like fun! I need a blacksmith (I think). I've got an "old" wrought iron bed frame that needs a new footboard (just the design work between the posts). The headboard is in great shape, despite a few layers of paint, and is a simple design with 1/4" rods flowing in gentel curves from the posts to a "rosette" in the center. Replacing the "Rosette" I think will be the hard part. my guess is it's cast iron. Can you help me find a replacement? I live in the Washington DC Metro Area. Thanks John
John  <JCMayer at aol.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 14:20:10 GMT

guru: I'm having trouble starting my forge. I know it's a common beginner's problem. It's a hand cranked forge. I've been trying a half sheet of newspaper with some wood chips and small kindling on top. once I get it going, I rake in a little coal, but no matter how much I crank, it doesn't catch. help.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Thursday, 09/07/00 14:28:23 GMT

Bed parts: John, There are a bunch of smiths in your area. Contact the Blacksmiths of the Potomac. The cast iron rosette could be reproduced as a forging or may be available from one of the architectural component suppliers like King Supply
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 14:42:07 GMT

What kind of coal are you useing? bituminous or anthracite? Bituminous is the better of the two. Once the wood is going and you add the coal it should catch.
Also check to see if you have any obstructions in the air path. Is your forge one of the flat pan round forges? (like a big gold panners pan?) the fire grate on my old pan forge was a piece of cast iron with 1/4" wide slots(about 6 of them) ranging from about 2" long to about 5" long(the grate is 6" in diameter) SO make sure you have lots of air.
Wrong coal and/or lack of air blast are the usuall causes for no fire.
BTW I use 2 sheets of news paper and about a double handfull of walnut shells to start my forge.

Guru, what did I miss?
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 09/07/00 14:50:00 GMT

Lighting a Forge: Coondogger, There can be several problems. You can have poor quality coal or damp coal. Coal stored for several months in a dry location lights better than coal that has been out in the weather.

Here is the Frank Turley method: Normally it take 3-4 sheets of newsprint. Ball it up with a twist to make a stem like a mushroom. Light the stem, stuff it down in the fire pot. Give a gentle crank to keep it going. Then shovel on the coal leaving a hole in the center. Blow the forge gently. You should start getting that yellow sulfurous looking smoke. When the fire breaks through the vent shovel some more coal on leaving the vent open. When the fire is hot then shovel some coal over the vent. Keep blowing the fire gently. As the core of the fire burns hollow you need to push the coal from the side to the center. Good coal will be clinging together as it cokes down so this takes a gentle whack from the sides of the fire toward the center with a poker.

After closing the vent you will get a big cloud of yellow smoke. After a few minutes poke a new vent and the fire will be ready to go. More coal is added from the sides and pushed towards the center.

Fire maintainence takes practice. It takes some understanding of the mechanics of a coal fire. It also takes a little familiarity with the grade coal you are using. Some folks will swear you MUST have a "bee hive" fire to forge weld but others do it in an open faced fire. It all depends on the grade of coal.

If you watch a smith tending his fire it happens while he is moving work in and out of the fire. A little nudge here, push a little coal there. . . Doesn't LOOK like anything but it is the very important task of fire tending.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 15:05:55 GMT

Ralph, I didn't mean to step on your posting. Just took me a little longer. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 15:54:02 GMT

Guru, you did not step on it at all.
BTW the part about fire maintence is the hardest to teach. At least for me because it happens on such an instinctive level now. I like the way you stated it about saying a nudge here etc....
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 09/07/00 16:21:25 GMT

Where are you? Have not seen you for a while.
Your new face enhancement will not bother us smiths you know!(grin)
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 09/07/00 16:22:54 GMT

Guru. there seems to be some mistake on the member part of I-Forge. there you have posted punches (non existing as of yet) but in the regular you have posted collaring (which works).
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 20:24:41 GMT

Errors: Dang! I think you caught me in that error before. . Will FIX NOW!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 21:48:16 GMT

thanks guru. got the fire started. the problem was it was green coal. no coke at all. first time firing up the forge.
now i have some coke in there, the next fire will be easier.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Thursday, 09/07/00 22:23:15 GMT

Coal: coondogger, You probably have dry coal now. Coke is harder to light than coal. However, half coked coal is real nice stuff. Now be sure to keep the forge cleaned out. It doesn't take long before the firebed is so trashy that its hard to start a fire again and clinkers build up TOO fast.

Lots of little details to keep an eye on. Then it just comes naturaly so you forget the details you've learned. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 09/07/00 23:12:38 GMT

thanks guru, and ralph too.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Friday, 09/08/00 00:38:19 GMT


I've only been blacksmithing a couple of years, but I found a fast and easy way to start a fire without having to worry about saving the newspapers. I walk out under my pine trees and pick up dry pine cones. Light one, drop it over my tuyre, add a couple of more, then rake on the coal. I was sold on the "fire starter" logs that you can get from Walmart, but I like the pine cones. Kill two birds with one shot. 1) Clean up the yard like my wife tells me to, and 2) Forge like I want to. Hope this helps.
Bhtemple  <bhtempleton at cei.net> - Friday, 09/08/00 01:45:16 GMT

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