WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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 Sept 1 - 8, 2001 on the Guru's Den
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   - guru

Guru: I've had great luck with cold bluing small items. In the directions they mentioned browning. Do you have any info.on how to do it?
Tom  <ttinker at ptd.net> - Saturday, 09/01/01 00:37:35 GMT

Browing: Tom, Old fashioned browning is simply controlled rusting. Your "niter blues" use nitric acid, potassium nitrate (salt) and other acids to corrode the steel and produce a blue oxide finish. In browning plain water or sometimes salt water is used. It can also be sped up by using hydrogen peroxide (water with an extra oxygen).

In old fashioned browing the part is carefully prepared and cleaned just as you would for blueing. Gun barrels are pluged and the barrel supported by the wooden plugs. The parts are put into a "damp box" containing wet rags in the bottom and a lid to keep the damp air inside. small parts sit on a shelf or hang from pegs. After the part rusts a few days it is removed and the loose rust "carded", the surface cleaned and replaced in the box. Over time you get a nice smooth coating of rust. This is then oiled and you get a dark brown. Other post treatments are used to get a "plum" brown but I can't remember off the top of my head.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 09/01/01 01:59:26 GMT

Plum brown-- Birchwood Labs, dba Birchwood Casey, sells a proprietary gun finish called Plum Brown, available at your local gun shop.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 09/01/01 04:02:13 GMT

Primitive/Survival Metalworking - Tai Goo and Tim Lively of the neotribal crowd did a video with the Hood's Woods series. www.survival.com, I think.

They have an interesting, at least to me, premise about working the way a tribal metalsmith would if he were doing it today - meaning, among other things, that they "mine" the raw materials from all the scrap we throw away. Like guru said. Mining iron from a junkyard sounds a lot better to me than getting it out of the ground. :)

SteveA  <alford at hiwaay.net> - Saturday, 09/01/01 13:30:12 GMT

Neo Tribal: Currently there are two schools of thought in this area. One phlisophical to the extream (Tai Goo) and the other more practical (Tim Lively). We have links to both on our links page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 09/01/01 15:12:44 GMT

At work I have access to drop 4140 steel. what is it good for? Hot tools?
Thank You.
Jim E  <No Spam> - Saturday, 09/01/01 17:45:16 GMT


Good for tools of all kinds. I've got a couple of hammers made from 4140.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 09/01/01 18:17:47 GMT

4140: Jim, its good for many things. It doesn't get quite as hard as tool steels but it is very tough stuff with good hardenability. Some power hammer dies are made of 4140 and its good for swages, hammers, fullers. . anything that doesn't need a sharp edge for cutting steel.

I would bring home as much as I could. How big of drops? :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 09/01/01 18:18:53 GMT

I was able to get some 1 1/2" round by 3 to 4" long. I will probably be able to get it in smaller sizes. My boss ( I work at a small welding and machine shop) sells metal at cost (scrap is free!) to employees so I can buy what I need too.
Thanks for the info.
Jim E  <No Spam> - Saturday, 09/01/01 18:29:48 GMT

Thank you also Paw Paw.
I think that some hammers are in order.
Jim E  <No Spam> - Saturday, 09/01/01 18:32:03 GMT


I'd say so! Some of those 4" scraps of 1 1/2" Would make very nice specialty hammers.

That's a thought, guru. How about a demo on specialty hammers?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 09/01/01 18:53:44 GMT

Pawpaw don't forget drifts, punches, sets, fullers...
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Saturday, 09/01/01 19:45:07 GMT


Good point. Jim and guru, note.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 09/01/01 19:53:26 GMT

Well I'm glad to hear that I have found a good source for a usefull alloy to make blacksmithing tools out of.
I have access to grinders, belt sanders etc after hours so I will be able to finish any tools with ease.
This makes my day!
Thank you all.
Jim E  <No Spam> - Saturday, 09/01/01 22:34:48 GMT

Guru,I tried to heat the steel(thin sheet)with the rosebud (OCY/ACT torch),and I don't think I am doing it right.How much of pressure should I use? Also, what is the safe distance between the metal/torch tip-I may be helding the torch little too far after few loud popping incidents.
Jeesun  <uqbar at worldnet.att.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 00:44:47 GMT

How do you make a sword for displaying by a nonblacksimth?
r  <Badcatdog1 at aol.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 01:18:33 GMT

rosebud-- keep pressures low, 8# max on a medium-sized tip, and keep oxygen & acetylene equal and keep tip fairly close to work.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:00:04 GMT

I just bought a gear driven hand-cranked 5" to 6"? dia. bench grinder...it has a name plate on it. The company name is: Marshall Wells Hdw. Co., Duluth, Portland, Winnipeg, Edmonton. In the center of the diamond shaped name plate is the name Marshwells, and the serial # 2563, handstamped into it. It seems to be in very good shape, but there is no tool rest, and it needs a new grinding wheel. Does anyone have any idea of it's age, value, or any info about it? Thanks for your help. Tom
Tom   - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:13:55 GMT

Birchwood Casey plum brown is at Wallmart & K-Mart sports dept. too. I prefer cold browning, heard from some of the OLDERtimers uneven heating will warp some pieces~especially barrels.
Jerry  <birdlegs at keynet.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:20:43 GMT

Grinder: Tom, not a clue. Many of these devices can be found in old catalogs without any brand name.

It will take a standard stone designed for a bench grinder. You will have to make the tool rest. These haven't been made in 50-75 years.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:33:15 GMT

CONVERTERS: Efficiency is HP per amp, so assuming you are within the motor's HP range you expect more amps at lower efficiency. Only when you are drawing so much current that you lose voltage or heat the motor excessively do you start to lose "power" to do a job.

Multiple motors running at the same time all work together to help start another motor, for instance if you have a 5 hp idler running, and a 5 hp hammer motor running, you can start a 10 hp third motor.

I was interested in the comment about the rotophase being noisy. My converter is an old 5 hp with a bad sheave and is quiet as a mouse. I kick start it because I never have had anybody with brains tell me how big of a condenser or condensers I need, or how to connect them, and everything works.

AMEN to "if it ain't broke don't fix it"
Andy Martin  <amartin at npwt.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:39:45 GMT

Grinder: My experience is the stones on these old hand cranked grinders are wider than you can find today in the same diameter. When I buy one, I look for a good stone.

I've found some good whetstone material in a creek on my place (eastern Oklahoma) so I'm thinking of trying to make some little fat stones for the hand grinders.
Andy Martin  <amartin at npwt.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:42:47 GMT

White material leaching out of coal, any ideas what it might be?
Andy Martin  <amartin at npwt.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:43:46 GMT

Torch Popping: Too low of a fuel pressure resulting in too low of velocity in the nozzel results in popping. The raw fuel/oxy mix must be moving faster than the flame front velocity otherwise the flame moves into the torch body and there is a small explosion.

Generaly an oxy-acetylene rosebud is like holding onto a rocket engine. . . They are rarely used to heat sheet metal and then must be kept moving constantly and at the same distance from the metal's surface. On heavy work only the tips of the flame touch the work and on light work there must be some seperation.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:44:32 GMT

Grinder: I forgot to add, I have several and have never paid over $25 for an old hand grinder, and as low as $5. Condition of tools is pretty much unimportant in antique stores so the grinders with loose bearings and bad gears may be priced as high or higher than those in good shape.

Also, I believe a lot of this type of tool was made by factories who produced them for many private labels like hardware stores with essentially no manufacturer's name on the devive. This comes from seeing identical units with different names.
Andy Martin  <amartin at npwt.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 04:50:43 GMT

White leachate: Andy, not a clue. However, coals have all variety organic and inorganic compounds in them. Could be salt (sodium cloride) or a metal sulphate. The white stuff leaches out of coal and ash in forges left out doors and EATS iron/steel. I suspect an acidic sulfhur compound.

The yellow stuff is more likely a sulphur compound rather than pure sulfur. If its sulfur it will melt like a plastic and reharden the same. It was commonly used for various casting techniques where an exact replica of something was needed. I BELIEVE sulfur doesn't shrink when it solidifies.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 05:22:05 GMT

The rosebud is the tip most susceptable to flashback.( that's BAD)..where the popping keeps burning back up the hose.
Because different brands have different pressure requirements, it is worth contacting the mfg for pressure settings.
Generally , I set the acet on a rosebud a bit higher than the erudite Cracked's advice, so that the acet is a little higher than the oxy. On my Smith torch it is about 10# acet and 8 oxy. ALWAYS KEEP ACET PRESSURE BELOW 15 PSI. A rude way to determine how much to open the fuel valve is to light the acet only and turn it up till the flame stops pouring out heavy smoke...if you go too far, the flame will leave the tip a little.
Before trying it again, look closely at the seats on your torch tip for nicks or flaws. If it is new enough to sport O ring seals ...examine them and replace any that aren't perfect. Make sure that the tip is tight to the mixing chamber. Little leaks can also cause popping.
If the tip is too close( IE, nearly touching) it will pop. holding it too far away is no problem except for a waste of gas/heat.
A rose bud needs to run almost wide open to be most stable. as the good Guru said, the most common cause of popping is having the tip under-fired.
They are expensive to run, but they sure are fiery fun.
Pete F - Sunday, 09/02/01 05:22:14 GMT

Good Guru:
Gawrsh, scuff..blush...this may well be the only time you have been wrong, ever.
Sulfur does shrink when it solidifies , quite a bit. It is interesting stuff...makes great acid vats and was traditionally used to set iron in stone, before epoxy. A hole was drilled in the stone and undercut and "keyed" so the iron couldnt rotate...the iron was upset and also keyed.
The iron and the stone were preheated and the sulfur poured in. As soon as it cooled it was really solid!
I once made a bouncing chair out of leaf springs with a flat beach-stone seat and backrest. You could get it hopping and clear the ground on every bounce and sort of steer by leaning. I took it to an early pleasure faire and the public used it real hard. The stones were on steel shafts set in sulfur and never came out..the springs gave out first.
Sulfur is very cheap in quantity. The only little problems are that it is brittle ( though you can add a plasticizer to solve that) and it burns, not hot, but persistantly...and the smoke/gas from the flame is to be avoided unless you want to kill insects.
Sulfur goes real well with steel or fiberglass reinforcing and is stronger than portland cement by far.
The blacksmithing content here...ummm...well , we have lots of fire, so all we are missing is the brimstone...right?
Pete F - Sunday, 09/02/01 05:44:21 GMT

Someone, a while back, was concerned with a bacterial slime in some apparatus that was in water. (slack tub?). Generally, bacteria do not grow in acidic water solutions. Addition of a little acid into the water will supress bacterial biofilm builup. (alright some of you are screaming that Lactobacillus is one one of the few exceptions, but few of us quench in milk, the bug's preferred environment!). Seriously, a weak acidic water solution will do the trick. Srong acid is NOT needed.
If a microbial slime is encountered, in an acidified solution it will be a fungus. Such an occurance is not common though. But fungi can grow on almost anything. copper salts do not agree with them, they inhibit fungal growth. So adding a small amount of a soluble copper compound to the water should do the trick. Here I defer to the Guru's greater knowlege in this area. I hesitate to recommend a small amount of copper sulfate. (it was once used as a rat poison in earlier days). Over to you, GURU. Slag.
slag  <dstotland at videotron.ca> - Sunday, 09/02/01 06:29:36 GMT

Converter Efficiency: Also, remember that a/c electric motors consume current pretty much proportionally to load. The idler motor only "uses" enough current to stir the air and turn the bearings. A hammer motor on idle is also just turning the bearings and slapping the belt. Although energy usage is not directly proportional to load, it is close enough that you need not be concerned with a motor idling.
Andy Martin  <amartin at npwt.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 13:25:11 GMT

Hi knowlegable ones,
I've heard about hot rasping before,how is it done and can it be dangerous.I think it could be handy in forging blades maybe to refine the shape.
chris makin  <cfm15 at home.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 13:46:35 GMT

Chris on Hot Rasping: It's the same as cold rasping except it's done at a low red heat down to black heat. It's good for cleaning up uneven edges on thin stock, but not really enough for bladesmithing. As for danger, you will be rapidly sliding your hands and forearms back and forth in very cose proximity to an object in the 800 to 1200 degree temerature range. What do you think? I have a neat-o L-shaped brand near my elbow from hot-wire brushing using a similar movement. You learn quickly.
Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 14:50:57 GMT

About the rosebud settings. I guess I'm just country as hell but I tend to set my rosebud by the flame. I've noticed that the more oxygen and the shorter the teeth the more likely it is to pop. I always set mine with a small feather about 1/2 to 3/4 inch past the teeth. Takes a little longer to heat but it cuts out the popping. Am I doing sometrhing wrong here guys?
Larry  <Blueheron419> - Sunday, 09/02/01 16:00:07 GMT

Rosebud: Larry, that's what I do. A neutral flame is best on these mini rockets.

Not only do they consume fuel at a high rate they can consume it faster than the acetylene cylinder releases gas. The smallest rosebuds that come with general welding sets require a "standard (or large - about 4'[1m] tall)" acetylene bottle. Mini's and small's will NOT support one. These tips are about 1/2" (13mm) diameter and have 4-6 small holes.

In acetylene cylinders the gas is disolved in acetone. Releasing the gas is akin to boiling and absorbs heat. A rule of thumb is that an acetylene bottle will release 1/7th of its full capacity per hour. If you try to draw more, the pressure drops and the torch starts popping back.

To run large rosebuds you have to mainfold multiple acetylene cylinders together. I prefer to use bulk propane. The oxy-propane flame is much gentler (and quieter). It is not so much like a rocket engine. . . and it is cheaper.

Being too close the work does two things. One is that at a bright heat the IR shines up the tip igniting the fuel. The other (more common in welding tips) is that the little sparks generated on the metal occasionaly travel UP the hole in the tip. . . Both problems are a matter of technique.
You don't run too low a flame pressure. If you need a small flame you need a small tip to keep that important oxy/fuel velocity faster than the flame front velocity. You don't put the tip too close to the work. As it heats up you need to back off a little bit. If you are getting a lot of sparking then you are running oxidizing (too much oxygen), or too hot. You can run a very nice bead without sparking if you are careful and think about what you are doing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 17:08:39 GMT

Hot Rasping: I know quite a few smiths do it. I've done it. But I don't recommend it. It requires large worn files with coarse teeth. The process is very hard on the file. I find that cold steel files almost as well with a good sharp (new) file and good technique (never drag the file on the back stroke).

You can also hot saw but they don't make the right blades to fit hacksaws anymore. I used to buy "all hard tungsten" hack saw blades. Made from something like H-27 I think. Brittle as glass (literaly). But you could saw a piece of steel at a low red or black heat and watch the chips come off at a yellow heat! Kind of exciting. Audiance loved it. But not worth the very little effort saved.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 17:17:17 GMT

Rosebuds: In the '60's and '70's propane was used as an alternative to MAPP gas and other cooler gases. The economic analyses usually showed that propane was more expensive than acetylene for heating and for cutting when the cost of oxygen was added in. Because propane burns cooler, it takes longer, and more oxygen to heat the same job. The exception was long cuts, like taking storage tanks down. There you may cut 10 ft or more without stopping because warping the plate was not an issue. Then propane is cheaper than acetylene. For general shop use propane always came out as more expensive because of the oxygen usage. Everything is higher now, and I haven't seen a good comparison for 25 years but I assume propane is still not the overall best route UNLESS the softer flame is to advantage in the work being done.

Best Regards, I like this place!

Andy Martin  <amartin at npwt.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 18:09:08 GMT

Costs: Andy, The small shop owner can have a full bulk tank (150 gal) of propane delivered, for half the cost of a new Victor two stage acetylene regulator. Add the cost of demurage OR a 10 year lease on the second acetylene cylinder and you can have the propane tank refilled a couple times.

There are "costs" of consumables, then there are costs of getting them delivered and using them. Dual cylinder manifolding is expensive no matter how you do it. I usualy do it with pieces of hose and "Y" fittings and an extra regulator (the big cost). However, fixed industrial manifold systems also have some significant costs. Either way, its cheaper to use the propane in a small shop environment.

The softer propane flame is also easier on the nerves. . I've used big rosebuds and the noise (and thrust) is hard on the nerves. A large acetylene rosebud has enough thrust to lift itself if is laid down!

In either case an economizer valve pays for itself in fuel savings, safety, and nerves when using big tips. . .

I've never heated anything that needed the general heat of a rosebud that propane didn't do a satifactory job (with the above mentioned advantages). However, I still prefer acetylene for welding and cutting.

There is a fellow in England that has a patent on a superheated air/propane torch. The propane is heated to the point of cracking producing a fuel mix of methane, actylene and other fuel gases. It burns VERY hot. Claims it is much more economical that acetylene.

There is also an outfit in the U.S. that sells an oxy/gasoline torch. It is used for cutting only but is VERY economical and has some significant advantages over oxy/acetylene. One is that the stream of cutting swarf is cool enough to put you hand in it! The biggest problem I see with this outfit is that it is expensive (about 2x an oxyacetylene rig) and you can only cut with it. Many places cannot afford the lack of flexibility.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 18:58:20 GMT

Pete F. When I first started in this game, an oldtimer told me they used to install with "black sulfur". I didn't ask at the time, and should have, how they got it into a horizontal hole. Presently, I use anchor cement.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 19:52:11 GMT

We were taught to hot rasp as horseshoers back in the 1960s, usually to finish heels and to get rid of frog eyes. I admit that it can all be done with the hammer, but I still use one for removing rough places and shuts, radiusing edges, etc. I use 14", discarded horse rasps which have a rasp cut on one side and a double-file cut on the other. Their use *does* leave file marks, however, so I try to hammer them away or get rid of them later (cold work). Hot rasping and hot filing are faster than cold filing. Interestingly, Peter Ross of Wmsburg, does not hot file, because he theorizes that hand made files in the early days were far too dear to use that way.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Sunday, 09/02/01 21:14:34 GMT

I'm totally unknowledgeable regarding, knowing quality blades from garbage. I'm interested in purchasing replica medieval swords and knives, but don't know what type of metal and processing, is the best. Please advise me, what to look for in a quality blade.
Kris  <baloser2 at aol.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 21:54:49 GMT

I'm totally unknowledgeable regarding, knowing quality blades from garbage. I'm interested in purchasing replica medieval swords and knives, but don't know what type of metal and processing, is the best. Please advise me, what to look for in a quality blade.
Kris  <baloser2 at aol.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 21:59:32 GMT

I would like to purchase a book that shows the dies for power hammers for the artist blacksmith.
Kevin Watson  <kwatson at execulink.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 22:55:01 GMT

Die types: Kevin, the two best places for fixed dies are the Centaur Forge catalog and the Bull Hammer page. Kayne and son sell hand held clapper or spring dies.

The published books I know like the Open Die Forging Manual only cover standard open die tooling. Hot cuts, swages, fullers, flatters. Then sometime simple combination dies that do a bend prior to a closed impression and a cut off.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 23:31:57 GMT

"Replica" blades: Kris, there are many books on the subject (see Centaur Forge). But the question IS what do you mean by replica? And what do you intend to do with it? For a "wall hanger" mild steel fashioned in an accurate historic style will look just as good as a finely crafted steel blade. Most of todays top makers make fantasy blades of modern materials using techniques undreampt of by armourers of any previous time. They are works of art and often include the most exotic of materials including meteoric iron and fossil ivory. But they are rarely "replicas"

What best metal processing? For the ultimate blade? For art or for combat? Combat with who? Or the most historicaly accurate? Or for a wall hanger? Or a movie prop? Most swords you see in movies and on televison are either plastic, rubber or if metal aluminium or soft stainless steel. They are junk meant to take a beating. . .

Buy what you like. But never believe a word from a knife dealer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 09/02/01 23:50:53 GMT

Rosebud/flash back- Thank you Gurus on the rosebud.Shoud I buy a flashback guard? I am careful about the distance,and it does not pop anymore but it does takes longer to heat.Also, do I need to heat the copper red hot for the anealing process? On a large sheet,do I need to aneal the whole sheet? Can I get by with anealing the area to work on at a time? Do you have better solution other than the rosebud? Small propane forge seem to have a small inner chamber for my purpose-making sculpture-of course, large forge/heating oven are very expensive. Jeesun
Jeesun  <uqbar at worldnet.att.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 03:29:18 GMT

anybody got an idea what a diamond stone grinding wheel, fine grit, 6" wide x 22" diameter is worth? Got one in a trade and it sure does a fine job cutting! Thanks
Jerry  <birdlegs at keynet.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 03:29:53 GMT

flashback arrestors-- think how embarrassed you'd feel after your regulator(s) and/or maybe your bottle(s) blew, lying there in the burn ward pool, knowing you coulda had some. if you were feeling anything, that is.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 04:13:31 GMT

On sheet metal forge: Guru,I found most of answer to my privious questions(anealing/rasing) from the Eric's armor page.I couldn't find the information about "How to make sheet metal forge" page,though.Can you give me some advice? Or do you know any fabricators? Thank you. Cracked Anvil, I'll get the flashback arrestor after labor day, welding supply store is closed now. Thanks.

Jeesun  <uqbar at worldnet.att.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 05:09:14 GMT

to correct spelling: annealing/raising, sorry
Jeesun  <uqbar at worldnet.att.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 05:16:25 GMT

Sheet Metal Forge: Jeesun, There is no how-to but there are photos in the articles on Eric Thing's shop on our Armoury page. Eric makes a "tip" like a shower head that is fed by a standard venturi type burner arrangement. The work is moved around on a refractory pad and the nozzle is surrounded with refractory. Eric says too much libility to give more details.

If you start with fully annealed sheet localized annealing should work.

Flash back arrestors (check valves) are required by law in ANY shop that come under OSHA and I put them on all my equipment including propane devices.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 05:40:04 GMT

Diamond Wheel: Jerry, NICE deal. Keep it wet! Grind only HARD material or it will get loaded. To true them you simply machine at low speed. Plastic or bronze matrix?

Small diamond wheels sell for around $100, 8" for $200. Never saw a 22". . . . sounds like government surplus!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 05:46:00 GMT

Harbor Fright's $20 weed burner and a temporary firebrick oven anneal copper just fine..you dont want to go to a red heat, which coarsens the grain structure..watch the bounce flame from the torch...when it turns orange..that's hot enough generally..you can tell from the firescale too.
If you overcook it you cant stretch it as far.
Pete F - Monday, 09/03/01 06:59:06 GMT

Flashback Arresters: I am very familiar with them. But I have never understood that they prevent anything other than this: if you pressure up your oxygen line and it feeds oxygen back into the acetylene bottle, then you may feed a combustible mixture back into the acetylene line, which could burn back into the acetylene bottle and cause a problem. This requires a double fault: failure of oxygen to fuel seal such as an o-ring, and failure of the fuel regulator to not close as the discharge pressure rises. This also can only happen while the gauges are sitting idle.

The concept that a flame front could traavel up an acetylene line, producing products of combustion, with acetylene in front and oxygen pushing from behind makes no sense whatsoever. The products of combustion, primarily the CO2 and CO will soon separate the oxygen and fuel, even if most or all of the H2O vapor condenses.

The flashback really can't travel more than a few inches back past the mixer or a leaking oxygen/acetylene fitting. the products of combustion are a powerful force to keep the oxygen away from the fuel in a closed line. In the natural gas pipeline business, it is common to light a leak to burn the gas off. There is no fear of blowing up the pipeline because the flame will not burn into the pipe (without oxygen already in the pipe) as the gas is consumed and the fire burns out. Of course there is no pressure oxygen feeding the fuel, but it is the products of combustion which extinguish the flame in any event.

I believe the arresters are only good for the event that you let oxygen into your acetylene or propane tank through a multiple regulator/valve fault. Or, the reverse, if you let your oxygen tank pressure fall below your fuel tank delivery pressure. This is also prevented if you keep your tanks valved off and regulators relieved when not in use.

Educate me!
Andy Martin  <amartin at npwt.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 13:44:56 GMT

Good morning,
Subject: Mig Welding
Welder: Lincoln 255 Power Mig.
Skill Level: Poor
Description of welds: Ugly but strong. (most of the time)
Problem: 1. Sometimes, I will get stalagtite type growths that arise out of the weld site after I release the trigger.
2. There is a porousity to some of my welds that I discover when I try to dress them with an angle grinder.
3. I would like to hear from any one who has developed a easy way to set volts and wire feed to a given thickness of mild steel. (My welder settings are digital and are in volts rather than amps) For instance, I use the numerator of the fractional dimension of the smallest piece of steel I am welding (expressed in eights) and add it to 20 to give me volts. 1/8 would therefore be set at 21 volts, 2/8 at 22 volts, 3/8 at 23.......Then I take the volts, add the digits together and multiply by 100 for the wire feed. i.e. 2/8 = 22 volts at (2+2 x 100) 400 inches/min. There has to be an easier way. forget memory, it is totally not up to par. of course you have a whole different set up for flux core wire with 100% C02. But I figure I will stick with Argon/CO2 since it has been working ok. Please do say refer to the chart. 1. Too easy.
2. mine only goes up to 5/16 and I know the welder can exceed that. I butt welded two v-grooved pieces of 2 3/4 inch thick mild steel together with it and am using that as the major component in a air driven power hammer.
P.S. Jock, any thoughts on getting lubrication to the o rings of a junk yard compressed air driven piston.
Thanks again, Larry
L.Sundstrom - Monday, 09/03/01 14:46:31 GMT

Thank you Guru/every one.
Jeesun  <uqbar at worldnet.att.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 14:49:12 GMT

andy-- "Or, the reverse, if you let your oxygen tank pressure fall below your fuel tank delivery
pressure. This is also prevented if you keep your tanks valved off and regulators relieved when not in use.

Educate me!"
-- Okay, I'll try: that's howcum they're called accidents. Simple as that. Smith has a wonderful series of posters available illustrating all these events that could not possibly happen in one's own shop. but they do, somehow, darn it. And my point is the cost of the arrestors vs. the cost of the mishap that could not possibly happen but, darn it, does, makes the risk absurd.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 15:12:44 GMT

I want to build a propane forge. It would be good to have a set of plans of a proven design rather than pioneer it. Where do you buy the refactory to line the upper bonnet? I have been a fabricator for many years and did some coal forge work on the farm and some ornamental (sp) forge work early in my career. I have a nice sized garage now for a work shop and would like to expand my skills. Thanks so much for the expert advice. Richard
Riichard  <richardbecky at cs.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 15:15:20 GMT

Forge: Richard see our plans page and the links from the gas burner page. ABANA also sells the Sandia Lab plans for a recuperative forge but its a tad more complicated to build. Refractory is available from foundry and boiler suppliers. I have some 1" Kaowool to divide up and repackage but haven't gotten to it (have to order boxes. . ect.)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 15:24:25 GMT

You can look up AP GREEN or EJ Bartels on teh web. both sell it. They have locations in quite a few places, as well as toll free sales lines.
Ralph  <ralphd at ihpc.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 15:25:47 GMT

speaking of arrestors....
Don't the newer Victor and Harris torches come with arrestors built in?
Ralph  <ralphd at ihpc.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 15:27:09 GMT

Bar bending/Rolling machine.
can anyone give me some pointers for building a bar bending machine.
Mark  <manicholas at lineone.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 16:17:56 GMT

Flashback: Andy, under normal conditions they don't happen, as Cracked pointed out "accidents happen". Consider this scenario:

You are cutting some heavy steel. The oxygen pressure is set about 10x the actylene. Something happens, a ball of molten metal finds a hole in you shoe, a wasp stings you, you have a stroke. . something distracts you. The cutting tip slips into a pool of molten steel, melts and closes off (I have seen hundreds of tips in this condition).

Now, the oxy/fuel mix in the torch body explodes and the result finds the route of least resistance, UP THE LOW PRESSURE hose. This greatly increases the pressure in the acetylene hose. Acetylene is a VERY unstable gas at high pressure. It dissasociates and can combine with compounds in the rubber hose. Its flame front velocity is 25 feet per second and in THIS case has the oxygen pushing it. . . . luckily your regulator is new and has good seats, the flow stops at the regulator. . However, the hose has now exploded at the weak point where it attaches to the regulator and the gas starts flowing again in a jet of flame from the hoseless regulator. Meanwhile YOU are stll holding the torch or very near it. The hose has ripped of the acetylene regulator and is shooting flames all over your shop (maybe onto the propane tank sitting next to the o/a rig OR bouncing of something and burning up the oxygen regulator!) . . . the torn end of the hose whipping around due to the high pressure oxygen. This all happens in ONE second. Now you can't get to the valve to shut it off and in second two the acetylene regulator is overheated and doing screwy things. . like releaseing MORE gas. . . You find your fire extinguisher. . this takes several seconds as you limp around from what ever got you. It just blows back in your face because the acetylene cylinder is now boiling inside and the regulator is molten metal. . . A very big portion of your shop is on fire as you ask to call E-911 from your neighbors. . . The whistling roar from over heated welding cylinder (the oxygen cylinder overpressure plugs have popped) dominates everything, and in the center of your burning shop pure oxygen is feeding the fire. . . Less than 30 seconds have passed.

Sound unlikely? I've been lucky enough not to have ever been there. But I have seen the results a couple times, including the welding cylinders still sitting on their cart, no sign of the regulators, valves or fittings, the acetylene bottle split and pumic blocks falling out. Our welding supplier always kept the results of the latest "incident" sitting out on the loading dock for customers to learn from.

To add insult to injury, your home owners doesn't cover the fire because they have decided you should have had commercial insurance and you were operating a business. The welding supplier hearing the evening news shows up the next day to collect the remains of the cylinders and presents you with a bill for there replacement cost.. . . and oh yeah, your restored 1954 chevy truck went up in the blaze too. Worth about $10,000 the insurance co. says BOOK value.. . $500. Everything else including a life time collection of tools is a complete loss.

Over the years I have bought a lot of used welding equipment. At one sale I bought a chest full of old torches and tips. There was at least a dozen rosebuds with melted ends that were almost closed up. . . all from the same shop. Every one was a near catastrophe.

Accidents happen in a few seconds or less. Anti-blow back check valves HELP but do not completely stop the situation from occuring. I've had to shut off the gas numerous times to stop flash back fire in torches. You have about half a second. . .

There are dozens of rules to handling welding cylinders that are only taught in the better welding courses and many people do not learn them. One is to only open the acetylene cylinder valve about 1/4 turn. That is all that is necessary and it only takes a fraction of a second to close. But that is all the time you have if something happens. If you ever see someone crank the valve on an acetylene cylinder more than 1/4 to 1/2 turn. . . you know they either haven't been trained OR shouldn't have passed the course. In either case, you don't want to be around them when they are using welding equipment.

Its the little things you do in your shop that make it safe.

Built in check valves. Ralph, yes, in the valves. This is new since the 1970's (much of my old Victor equipment is older) and not universal among other manufacturers. I believe OSHA still requires them at the regulator end of the hose. If the hoses are cut it is possible for fire to run up the fuel line.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 16:26:25 GMT

Bending and Rolling: Mark, there is a difference between the two. Look at our articles on benders on our 21st Century page. Most bending can be done with very simple fixtures.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 16:29:40 GMT

sadly C2H2 (acetylene) will not need oxygen to explode. it is unstable enough to crack (into its components and mixtures thereof) and thereby increase temp and thereby preassure LOTS (pv=nrt).
this is done fast enought to be supersonic and thereby produce it's own detonation front (NOT flamefront)...

did that clarify it to you Andy?
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 18:19:15 GMT

Guru,Finch's welder's hand book said open the ACT cylinder valve about 3/4 turn and fully open the Oxygen. So,I made a mark on the handle and followed the rule. What exactly do you mean by 1/2 turn? Is it 1/2 of many turns-it opens up to about 3 to 4 full circle,as you know-or the 1/2 of one full circle only? I did take the welding course at the lincoln electric on arc/tig welding but not the hard facing course which teaches OXY/ACT welding/cutting etc. All instructors really did emphasize on the safety. That is why I am asking you the question instead of listening self thaught artist friend/neighbor's advice.After all it is my safety and it doesn't take much to follow the rules. So, forgive me if I ask too many silly questions.Thank you
Jeesun  <uqbar at worldnet.att.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 18:27:03 GMT

Flashback: Thanks for the details, guys.

I think it is all good information.

So now lets talk about the health concerns over improperly treated Kaowool after it is fired. I have been on a campaign for several years to try to get people to use only castable in their portable forges. Does anybody else share my concern over individual and public health of fired ceramic fiber blanket in a high velocity gas forge?
Andy Martin  <amartin at npwt.net> - Monday, 09/03/01 18:37:35 GMT

Acetylene Valve Angle: Jessun, The point is not to open it several cranks. I've found for 90% of what I do 90° is enough and doesn't restrict the flow. If your cylinders require a wrench leave it on the valve!

The reason for opening oxygen valves all the way is because they have a "back seat" for the valve to close on taking presure off the packing. However, if mine don't leak I only open them about a turn too. It also pays to check for leaks. I've had cylinders that with the valve CLOSED the seat leaked AND the packeing. . . welding suppliers shouldn't distrubute these but sometimes they get sloppy checking. The problem is many folks don't know what is "tight enough", and wreck valves on cylinders, torches and everything else they put their gorilla grip on. . .

OErjan, I forgot to mention that when acetylene goes, it REALY goes. .

That is why the cylinders are filled with acetone to hold the acetylene AND pumice to prevent probagation of the detonation front (shock wave). When Prest-o-lite invented this system (around WWI) it greatly increased the safety of acetylene and made its use much more popular.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 09/03/01 18:55:30 GMT

NEW! V 3.0 Guru's Den Starts Here!
- guru- Monday, 09/03/01 20:55:58 GMT

Foamy Welds Larry, Foamy MIG welds are caused by rust, scale and paint. The MIG is hot enough that the oxygen is liberated from the rust or scale and bubbles through the weld. Paint does something similar. Very thin scale is acceptable but the type found on most heavy steel plate is not.

Welding where there is a breeze will also blow off your cover gas and cause similar problems.

I can't help you with your welder settings. I just crank mine up or down until they work. . On welding anything but new steel I prefer my old buzz box. The MIG is fast but loses much of its advantage if you have to grind every weld surface.
   - guru - Monday, 09/03/01 23:24:46 GMT

Guru, I'll try to keep this short but thought I'd add my two cents to the Oxy-acetelyne-on-fire scenario. This happened ten years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the shop at the racetrack (I was a farrier for 23 years) and I was using the cutting torch on something, but had not RECENTLY checked for leaks at the valves. All of a sudden I hear a roar coming from behind me and the top of the acetelyne tank is shooting flames out of a leak beneath the valve. As I QUICKLY reached for the tool to shut the valve off I was burned by the now roaring flames and knocked the oxy bottle over, at that instant the flames burned through the oxygen line and the flames were immediately fanned by pure oxygen. I have never moved so quickly out of a room in my life! I'll never forget the PA system and the track announcer "THE RACETRACK WILL RE-OPEN WHEN THE FIRE IN THE BLACKSMITH SHOP HAS BEEN PUT OUT" My colleages thought this was very funny indead and the next morning the security at the stable gate say's "Sorry Tim but I've been asked to have you check your matches in at the gate before entering". Fortunately the building survived as did my sense of humor. The Fire department let the tank burn for about two hours, and luckily no-one was hurt but WOW what a way to learn! TC
   Tim Cisneros - Monday, 09/03/01 23:53:37 GMT


Speaking for self, many thanks for posting that story.

I haven't checked my tanks for quite a while. Guess what I'm going to do first thing tomorrow?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 09/04/01 00:44:33 GMT

Bell Epps demo ROSE mentioned rose petal discs available from advertisers on the iforge website. I can't seem to locate one, can you help?
By the way the iforge demos are drop-dead top stuff. I'm working my way through them 1 at a time.
   Miguel R. - Tuesday, 09/04/01 00:46:59 GMT

Parts: Miguel, I think Centaur Forge sells the rose blanks. But I'm sure Jere Kirkpatrick (Valley Forge and Welding) does. He is not an advertiser but is listed on our links page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/01 01:04:37 GMT

Guru and guys,
Thanks for all the info on rosebuds and acetylene torches. I worked four years with a structural steel fabrication and erection company, but no one there had any formal training, including the boss. Things can happen fast in a shop or construction site situation.
As for the settings for mig welders, or even stick, we always set by sound and appearance of weld. The old frying bacon rule of thumb. No pop, no crackle, just a smooth sweet sizzle.
I agree with Guru on the cleanliness of the material. Also a slight breeze can blow the shielding gas away and create porous welds. Another factor often overlooked is the width of the gap between material. Too wide and you get weld spill or air bubbling up through the weld. Might I suggest stitching the gap every 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Also allow the work to cool between beads. Too much heat is a killer on any metal.
   - Larry - Tuesday, 09/04/01 01:10:04 GMT

re-hot rasping I do this when I make spoons during demos seems to keep the noise to a min(high pitched screch) also seems to leave a bit smoother finsh when I make them at home in the shop I use a sharp file on them cold (wereing 45db muffs) it looks real inpressive to all those little sparks colecting next to the vice. I agree that it takes about the same amount of work, just a bit quiter.
   MP - Tuesday, 09/04/01 02:35:03 GMT

Browning & Bluing
Try www.brownells.com Products for ANY type of metal finishing that you could think of, and some you have not.
   Keith - Tuesday, 09/04/01 06:46:18 GMT

Kaowool: Andy, I'm with you on castable OR bricks being a better forge material. However, I'd like to know what sources you are using for Kaowool hazards. I've read the government testing report. To get a "possible" carcinogen rating on it they had to have a special "micro fine powder" ground for testing. Normally ground up kaowool wouldn't work.

Slag is working on a report on silicosis. Bad stuff.

If you are worried about fine dust check the air in your work area after using an angle grinder with a fibreglass reinforced wheel. Turn of the lights and check a sunbeam or use a flashlight. Most of the grinding swarf falls to the gound but the ground fibreglass fills the air and floats there for a long time. . . A lot worse than instaliing insulation. Both are a hazzard that I think need more attention but with the extreamly common use of fibreglass insulation (and now heating ducts!) I think everyone is afraid to speak up.

I think the fibreglass from grinding wheels is a far greater hazzard than the small amount if Kaowool lost from a forge. But that is my non medical opinion.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/01 07:30:43 GMT

L Sundstrom:
Porosity in mig welds........Another possible cause...Take apart the nozzle on your gun and make sure that the gas flow isnt obstructed, holes clear , etc. Also, try messing with your shielding gas pressure...the gages arent always accurate.
Andy: insulating fibers look as good for you as aesbestos to me too...sure wish there was a hard face we could slather over the top of the wool to make an inner shell.

Hey Guru...the new page set up looks great! Thanks!
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 09/04/01 08:13:52 GMT

had a qustion at my last demo that I didn't have a clue about I am hopeing some one can help me out.
When were the first vises made? I know the post/mechanics vices (thread based) are a later invetion and that the older style are based on foot presher (I think) but when were they first made?
   MP - Tuesday, 09/04/01 12:40:47 GMT


There are pictures of post vices as old as the 16th Century.
made almost exactly like the ones we use today.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Tuesday, 09/04/01 13:24:24 GMT


Hard Face for Kaowool.

ITC-100. And it actually improves the heat reflection rating, if I remember correctly.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Tuesday, 09/04/01 13:27:14 GMT

Like the new buttons, very nice. Another experience with hot rasping: in bringing a tomahawk to a point it could be more easily sharpened, we spent about 5 minutes hot rasping the edge to a nice profile that I suspect would have taken me a lot longer with a hammer and a whole lotta heats. Then again I am in need of a lot of practice. . .
   Escher - Tuesday, 09/04/01 13:46:03 GMT

Iron smelting---I'm part of a group that smelts iron from ore using Y1K technology. It's a lot of fun but pretty low yield---do a web search on "bloomery" and discard anything to do with flowers.

Low tech forging: The United Nations put out a 3 vol set of low tech smithing manuals based on African usage. "De Re Metallica" and "Pirotechnia" give renaissance info on the mining and refining of various metals.

Using Sulfur Theophilus mentions using sulfur to hold a knife tang in a handle in "Divers Arts" written in 1120 A.D.

Kao-Wool. A member of SOFA had a kaowool lined forge officially tested for fiber production during a regular full day in the shop (more time than I get to play with my forge in a month!) The results were within OSHA standards---I worry much more about all those smiths driving to conferences---the danger level seems much greater to me!

   Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/04/01 13:54:28 GMT

I find it very handy to keep an old farrier's rasp within reach. I think hot rasping is easy and a very useful technique. It's particularly good for dealing with cold shuts and burrs that develop while forging.
   adam - Tuesday, 09/04/01 17:17:06 GMT

paw paw
thanks that would have made me go nuts wondering.
any Idea what was used before ? I seem to remember in the Higgins armory there was a dasplay of a armor's work shop w/a foot vice so I think that is were I got that idea from. (I think the little sign said 1300 or so)
I would think that there would have to be something I use the vice as much or more than the anvil when I work I would think our forfathers would to.
   MP - Tuesday, 09/04/01 22:58:16 GMT

Thomas Powers - Would you mind giving us the names of the UN manuals and where we need to go to get our copies? You keep mentioning these in various places and piquing my curiousity.
   Stormcrow - Wednesday, 09/05/01 01:03:41 GMT

MP, I don't know whether you're interested in Eastern methods, but a few years ago, Yataiki, a super Japanese sawmaker, came to Iowa to present a clinic. Lots of woodworkers were there learning how to sharpen and set saw teeth, but a complete smithy was set up also, Japanese style. A leg vise was brought in and very occasionally, Yataiki would use it. However, he much preferred a traditional "shaving horse", for lack of af a better term. It was a wooden and iron structure which sat on the floor, with a base of a thick plank about 40" long. A couple inches in from one end, an iron "wicket" was embedded in the wood. By the use of a large wooden wedge and small curved holdfast, the workpiece could be sandwiched and held between another movable inclined board and the top surface of the "wicket" (not too unlike a crochet wicket, but made of 3/8" square stock). Yataiki would sit on a mat cross-legged while shaving, filing, etc. It wasn't a vise with a screw, but was very effective and probably as old as the hills.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/05/01 01:09:29 GMT

Actually, the early smiths probably did not have a vise. A lot of their work was done sitting on the ground. Most anvils were small, usually not much more than a block of iron. So a vise would not have been AS necessary as we find it. I've worked a few times without one, and it can be a real bear.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Wednesday, 09/05/01 01:29:20 GMT

INVENTION OF VISE: Frank's discription is pretty much what is used throughout the East and much of Africa. The Ancient Greeks had the lathe (primitive but a lathe no less) and knew of the screw. However, their work methods were those of the East, sitting on the ground or squatting. At some later date when standing to work became more common the vise was developed.

The screw is a funny invention. Even though the ancients knew of it and the Archemedies screw was rapidly adopted as a pumping tool screws were slow to catch on for other purposes. As late as the Renaissance DaVinci was drawing machines with complicated screws and gears yet the methods of making them were to hand carve the pieces. He invented machines for all kinds of tasks but it was going to be a couple centuries before screw making machines were developed that made building his machines practical. When Maudsalay invented the screw turning lathe in the late 1700's he was still making master screws by hand. He had perfected the process of scribing a perfect pitch screw line on round bar but the method of cutting was to follow the line by hand. If it were not for the James Naysmyth autobiography we probably would not know the method.

The engraving of the anvil bench of 16th century armourer Conrad Seusenhofer (Armoury page) is noticably without a vise. The artist packed a lot into the background of the illustration including shears, anvil, tongs, sledges, double bellows, slack-tub and forge. But no vise.

Another 16th century reference, Agricola's DeRe Metalica is also absent vises even though there are at least a dozen oportunities where workers needed a vise and would have had one if available.

In Moxon the illustration of the vise is primitive but you can see that the classic vise we know is still in the future. However, it IS a leg vise. 1700 or earlier.

But by the late 1700's Diderot shows many leg vises and most are of the pattern we know today. Tool catalogs of the era are full of small clamp on bench models up through heavy shop leg vises.

So, if we are to go by the little literature we have available the vise was invented (in Europe) sometime between 1575 and 1675. Most likely 17th Century.

Now. . . when did the vise evolove into the indespensible C-clamp????
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/01 02:38:34 GMT

I have not studied the history of the vise in detail, but our guru aroused my curiosity. I found in *The Armourer and His Craft* a shop inventory from 1514 which mentions "a vyce", page 27. The book is a Dover reprint and written by Charles FFoulkes. The Dover edition was first published in 1988. Though the spelling is archaic, most other tools in the inventory are understandable. For example: bekehorne; curace stake; hamers; ffylys (files) etc.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/05/01 03:49:18 GMT

Well, 1514 shoots my theory. But it makes sense that an armourer would have the best tools of the time. Where was that shop (from the inventory) maybe that helps determine not only when but where. Sounds like old English. Perhaps the Germans didn't have vises that early (Seusenhofer engraving noted above).
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/01 04:11:41 GMT

before the clamp was the "cramp" with a shape somewhere a U and a V that was driven on to hold work together.

Jock, I tried to re-up my Cybersmyth's membership
( as should we all!)
and the secure payment page is belly up///how can we send you money if you wont take it? Sniff..I feel so rejected.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 09/05/01 06:03:11 GMT

Dear GURU,
Hello! Please let me know, the factors that influence the life of counter blow hammer and how to arrive at the usable
life based on these factors. Is there any mathematical or analytical method to evalute such parameter.
   Vinay Kanitkar - Wednesday, 09/05/01 07:44:31 GMT


The following is the result of some previous research that I did on the subject:

I checked out the word "vise" in the Oxford English Dictionary in the Departmental Library. The first mention of the word is about 1334 in reference to spiral staircases. It is then applied to screw or winch mechanisms for crossbows or catapults in 1373: "vicz", in 1400: "vyse" and in 1425 "wise". In 1400, as "vys", it is applied to other mechanical contrivances, and in 1412 as "vys" it is applied to screws, which usage is recorded to 1611: "vice" and later (as a verb). In 1530 as "vis" it is applied to taps for vessels and screw stoppers.

Finally, in the fifth definition we get to what we're looking for. In 1500 the term "vise", referring to a contraption with a screw mechanism and movable jaws used for holding work pieces, shows up in English. Other occurrences are in 1584 as "vice" and in 1677, in Moxon, also as "vice". (Moxon was writing much earlier than he was published. I know the feeling.) The OED archly notes that "The spelling 'vise' is now usual only in U.S."

Caveat: The OED records the usages known to its talented staff of professional and amateur lexicographers, given the earliest dates within their ken. An earlier date may remain yet undiscovered. I think we're fairly safe with the introduction of the vise in the renaissance period.

A bright, sunny day on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 09/05/01 11:46:07 GMT

Vises, again. I said "inventory" in the above post, and it was actually an English price list showing amounts paid in shillings and pence to John Blewbery. Blewbery "was in charge of the workshops in 3 Henry VIII, 1514". The accounting begins thusly:
Public Record Office
xviii September Also payde by Oure Commandmente to John Blewbery for the new fforge at Greenwiche made for the Armarers of Brussells these pieces ensuynge
a vyce viii iv {shillings/pence}
a greate bekehorne lx
a smalle bekehorne xvi
a peyre of bellowes xxx
a pype stake iii iv

The list continues with various hammers, stakes, ll pairs of tongs, etc.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/05/01 11:57:44 GMT

Payment Page Pete, it worked for several folks yesterday. But the system seems to get overladed in the early evening. I will talk to the bankcard people AGAIN. . . :( We also take cash and checks. Our mailing address is on the form(s).
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/01 13:32:22 GMT

Regarding the discussions on flashback arrestors on torch sets; Ihad a situation several years ago where I was getting very little acetylene flow from my torch tip even though the regulator and guage said I had pressure. Unpon inspection, I found that the arrestor was gunked up with some sticky, brownish goo. I cleaned it up (I think with mineral spirits...) reassembled it and it's worked ever since. What was the "goo" and is the arrestor still safe to use? Should I have just replaced it?
   Dave C - Wednesday, 09/05/01 14:34:27 GMT

Counter Blow Hammer: Vinay, The detail you are asking is beyond our scope of "research". Counter blow hammers are relatively rare and complex machines. I BELIEVE there are various mechanisms including both mechanical and hydraulic. The following references have very little to say about them:

  • Marks' Mechanical Engineers Handbook, 6th and 9th Editions - nothing
  • ASM Metals Handbook V.5, Forging and Casting, 8th Ed, 1970 - breif mention that they have high capacity in a smaller machine.
  • Forging Handbook, Naujoks Fabel, ASM, 1939, (a very detailed book) nothing.
  • Tool Engineer's Handbook, ASTE, 1949 nothing.

    Somewhere I have seen diagrams of several types of counter blow hammers. But at this moment I cannot find them. Most I believe are hydraulic machines. In that case seals, pumps and packing will be the major failure components. Followed by control systems. After that you may be looking a metal fatigue as a "life" factor as many forging machines are used for a century. However, in modern electronic controled machines, the machinery far outlasts the maintainable life of the electronics. Literaly millions of machine tools have been scraped in the last 20 years not because they were worm out, but because their control systems could not be maintained.

    I'm sorry I cannot be more helpful.
  •    - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/01 14:46:52 GMT

    Flashback arrestor: Dave, (gunk) not a clue. . might have been something in the acetone that deposited there. I have trouble with bugs building nests in hoses and ports left open. . . :(

    It the "arrestor" is a simple check valve type then cleaning should be OK.
       - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/01 14:57:39 GMT

    hi i run a blacksmith's shop on a museum site in the uk i haveing problem's with fire welding could you give me some help. thanks
       chris - Wednesday, 09/05/01 19:01:09 GMT

    hi i run a blacksmith's shop on a museum site in the uk i haveing problem's with fire welding could you give me some help. thanks
       chris - Wednesday, 09/05/01 19:01:11 GMT

    Fire or Forge Welding: Chris, see our iForge demo #95 & #96 and see if they help.
       - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/01 19:36:31 GMT

    Guru: How we gonna keep from having duplications on the I-Forge Classroom in the "Animal Heads" dept. I know "Bill" did a bunch of animal heads already, and I wondered if you wanted some repeats of lets say horse heads, rams heads, long horn heads, duck heads, etc? Or if you were looking for different types of animal heads like dogs, cats, etc? I guess there are all types of animals that haven't been covered yet, and it just depends on the "Maker's imagination and abilities" right? Most folks just do the aforementioned ones that I have seen. Oh, I left out snake heads, but they have been done too I think. Anyway, I was just wondering, plus I haven't bugged you near enough lately, so I just had to give it a go, LOL
       Sharon Epps - Thursday, 09/06/01 00:03:15 GMT

    Duplication is OK. Everyone makes things a lttle differently. But it helps to look at what other demonstrators do. If you do it the EXACT same way you may want to demo something else. I'm sure Bill can do alternate methods of almost everything he makes!

    I'm going to do my duck heads that I used on andirons and my fabricated dragon sculpture. This is a technique that could be used on many large scuptural items.
       - guru - Thursday, 09/06/01 03:16:49 GMT

    Dave; Brown gunk arrested.
    I've had similar problems twice.
    First time was when I was running a funky old acetlene generator a lot. The gas it put out came with lots of bonus materials, notably ...yellow-brown gunk. I got real fast at breaking down and cleaning up the regulator and torch.
    Second time was when I was doing a lot of heavy cutting and heating and the gas supplier was bought out by Aire Liquide who added a lot more acetone to each bottle of acet.It must have been economical for them. I found this out when my gas flow choked and I traced it up the line to the regulator. Pulled the regulator off the hoses and bottle and acetone glugged out on the floor!!! I ran for the pilot light on the gas saver. Shortly thereafter the regulator went "creepy" and I changed it to the back-up one. Then the flow slowly diminished over the next few days. It was, you guessed!, brown ,sticky gunk in the flashback valve, which cleaned up just fine.

    RE CREEPY regulators. When the high pressure seat in a regulator gets beat up or worn out ( or the low pressure seat or both seats in a 2 stage reg) you may notice that the line pressure begins to inch up while sitting idle. A pound or 2 is pretty normal...beyond that, it is time for a rebuild.(especially in the fuel gas regulator)..or a fire and explosion if you prefer.
    Opening the valve on a bottle abruptly, shortens the time between regulator rebuilds, as does leaving the torch under pressure all the time.
       - Pete F - Thursday, 09/06/01 07:45:01 GMT

    I recently acquired a bridge anvil, made of cast steel and not cast iron, it rings like a bell when it is struck. My question is it has two legs, which at one time were part of a rectangular base but at the bottom of one leg it broke off the base plate, this was welded long ago and is holding, but
    the part of the base plate between the two legs is gone. so what I now have is each leg is on its own part of the base plate with no base plate between the two legs. The front leg has sprung forward ( I don't know if from the internal stress in the casting when it was cast or from sitting out side on uneven ground for the last 20 years of its life) My question is 1. Can I pull the front leg back into place, or am I in danger of snapping it off? Cast steel is not flexible like mild steel? the base plate orginally measured
    15 inches by 30 inches by about one inch thick but now is missing the middle section between the legs, can I weld a replacement section between the legs? I am assuming that the base plate was one solid piece as I have never seen a bridge anvil that had a seperate base section for each leg, but I have only seen around 6 bridge anvils in my life, do you know of any. Any suggestions on welding in a new section to the missing base plate; to pulling the front leg back into place Would need to go at least 1 inch and probably 2" I would like to reweld the front leg where it wa repaired as the weld is very rough. Any help appreciated Steve.

       steve - Thursday, 09/06/01 15:37:33 GMT

    Last night, while drilling a 5/16" hole down the center of a piece of heavy rebar, I found myself wondering "why is this called a 'monkey tool' ? ".

    Well? Why *is* it called a 'monkey tool' ? :)

    It did occur to me that the hole is probably just big enough for a monkey's ... er ... NEVER MIND! Seriously though, I suspect 'monkey' is a corruption of some other word.
       adam - Thursday, 09/06/01 15:52:00 GMT

    Bridge anvil. Perhaps the same trauma that broke the base plate also sprang the legs apart? In any case, since it was almost surely made with the legs straight, doesn't this indicate that the piece has some flexibility? I mean if if flexed one way, it should flex back. Just a guess.
       adam - Thursday, 09/06/01 16:05:14 GMT

    Monkey Tools Adam, Don't know. But I DO know that the term is used in in various mechanicatl trades for odd tools, and not necessarily one's with holes in them.
       - guru - Thursday, 09/06/01 16:06:45 GMT

    Bridge AnvilsSteve, If the anvil is definitely made of cast steel (most were cast iron) it can be sprung into place and welded. A piece of steel plate can be fitted to replace the missing piece.

    Adam may be right about the "trama" however almost all castings, especialy ring or box shapes have considerable stress in them unless carefully heat treated. A steel anvil MAY have had the top hardened, thus shrinking the steel on one side of the box and puting a lot of stress into the anvil.

    Welding should be done with a rod designed for high carbon steel (IF its high carbon). Various high manganese rods are designed for this purpose (see warnings on our safety page about manganese).
       - guru - Thursday, 09/06/01 16:27:01 GMT


    Old and new viruses are still spreading in our community. I recieved two different virus mails this AM from other smiths. SIRCAM is still #1 but there are new ones that also rely on MS Outlook Express. Don't open those attacments! If MS-OE makes a "preview" you have opened the attachement and your system is infected. All the worst viruses currently rely on using the MS-OE address books and mail files.
       - guru - Thursday, 09/06/01 18:53:52 GMT

    Hello Guru, I am a novice blacksmith and I am currently working at a local rennaissance faire doing traditional type blacksmithing demos. The company I work for doing these demos sells their handmade weapons. Sometimes there is a sword that we get without a tag from the peticular person who made it listing if it is made from mild or high carbon steel. We price higher carbon sword higher because they are more costly to make, and they are tempered.

    My question is is there any way to tell if a finnished piece of steel, like a sword, is mild or high carbon? The ways I know of is to take it to a grinder and if you get alot of fine sparks its higher carbon, but that we cant destroy the product like that. Another way I know is since the high carbon swords are tempered they can take a 90 degree bend and spring back to true. But if it is mild carbon it will stay bent,..not good for the product again. The last way I know how is to clang the sword against the anvil and if I get a high long ring its high carbon. This last methog is the best way we know not to destroy the piece but its very subject to error. Do you know of any ways to tell if a piece is high carbon or not ?

    Thanks so much,
    Norm Harvey

       Norm Harvey - Friday, 09/07/01 00:04:42 GMT

    Swords: Norm, On an item of this type if the maker didn't put his mark on the item (and maybe a serial number as well) it probably doesn't matter. Besides you were not hired to be a metalurgist or engineer.

    The spark test will return the same sparks from a dead soft (annealed) piece of steel as a properly heat treated piece of steel. Just because a piece is high carbon steel doesn't mean it is heat treated. See our Heat Treating FAQ page.

    The bend test means nothing. How tight a bend? A hardened and tempered piece of high high carbon steel will break if bent 90° in a tight bend (radius = thickness). A long slender piece of cold drawn (work hardened) mild steel (say 1/8" thick or less) will spring back to its original shape if bent 90° in a long radius (say equal to half its length of aprox 3 feet). The same piece will bend 180° with zero radius without breaking. The fact is that both hard and soft steel have the same springyness (modulus of elasticity). Its a scientific fact. But yes, you are right in that, given two equal pieces, a hardened piece of steel will bend farther than a soft piece of steel and spring back to shape. Up to the yield point both have the same springiness. And yes, to prove anything it IS a destructive test.

    Although ring is dependent on hardness it is more dependent on shape and mounting. Glockenspiel (steel 'xylophone') bars can be made of mild steel and so are musical triangles. The note is determined by the length to cross section ratio (short and fat = high pitch) and the duration of their ring is determined by the amount of dampening. Dampening is reduced by supporting the piece lightly, on resiliant material, at the vibrational null nodes where there is there is little or no movement (1/4 of the length from both ends). A pine 2x4 thus supported has a nice pitch. Shape, proportion, grip to blade mass and mounting are more critical to "ring" than hardness.
    However, those with experiance with various metals and hardness can FEEL the hardness of a piece. This is probably related to the higher natural frequency of harder metal. Not very scientific (and yes, prone to errors) but I know it to be true.

    But a flim-flam man (and the blade trade is FULL of them) could support a long blade at the null nodes on his fingers and have the unwary customer tap the blade and listen to its "ring" as a proof of hardness. . . Buyer beware!

    A hardness test is the least destuctive test however most types leave little low round depressions and can be inaccurate on non-parrallel cross sections. Chemical analysis is the only sure test of carbon content or alloy. But this must be combined with the hardness test and an engineering evaluation if you looking for "quality".

    My ersatz hardness test is to take my little SS Buck folder and cut a chip from some out of the way place. A edge with a chamfer that won't be noticed. If I can curl a chip with my pocket knife its not a very hard piece of steel. But then a good sword shouldn't be as hard as my little Buck folder.

    Tell the makers or importers they need to mark their work HC for "high carbon" like they do railroad spikes else lose the price difference if its important to them.

    The fact IS, in your market a well made dead soft stainless steel blade is much more valuable than a properly made hardened tempered fine steel blade. You are selling cheap "wallhangers" not weapons of war, not works of art, not even collectors items (contrary to what they say on the Home Shopping Network). And any of the aforementioned will commit murder just as well as the other (hard or soft).

    All this phoney sword stuff makes me want to watch Connan the Barbarian or Highlander (don't you love those riveted plastic 'ivory' grips). . now where is that tape. . .
       - guru - Friday, 09/07/01 02:30:46 GMT

    FYI for MS Outlook/Outlook Express users:
    To turn off the preview pane in MS Outlook: Start MS Outlook then select View from the menu pane, Select Layout, Clear the Show Preview Pane checkbox and click OK. This will prevent launching a preview that accidently installs a virus on your computer.
       Billy Templeton - Friday, 09/07/01 02:45:37 GMT

    Kaowool: My experience with Kaowool is in refinery insulation. Fired Kaowool has been treated as asbestos for several years. Installing it is very safe because it has not been fired yet. Hard facing protects the surface from deteriorating in use but does not keep the fibers from becoming brittle. Repair and disposal of the fired material is where practical danger may be. As long as people understand the hazard it can be greatly diminished. Installing a suitable hard face is a start. When removing fired fibers, wetting them down keeps them from getting airborne.

    I'm glad a test has been performed showing little fiber loss from a forge. Some I have seen at conferences, with worn, ragged insulation being damaged by careless work insertion and removal surely are putting out more fibers.

    Fiberglass is also suspect, but I don't believe it has been shown to have the severe health effects of fired ceramic fiber. It may be because fiberglass is never subjected to the temperatures that ceramic fiber is.

    If more people discover castable insulation, which is very cheap and easy to use, although a little heavier it lasts very well and has little or no potential health consequences. It is also called insulating concrete and mixes like mortar. It has to be dried well and heated slowly the first time. It is not damaged by an occasional errant piece of work.

    Thanks for all the good replies.
       Andy Martin - Friday, 09/07/01 03:00:12 GMT

    High Carbon Steels: My experience has been that carbon content is the most difficult parameter to measure non-destructively on existing materials.
       Andy Martin - Friday, 09/07/01 03:07:05 GMT

    2 questions.
    The ITC 700 or whatever the name is is good stuff and all, but in real life hot iron flops around in a gas forge often enough to be gouge up the wool walls. The wool has great insulating properties and saves lots of gas.
    What is the right material to trowel on top of the wool so that it is protected but still insulates? will a thin layer of castable refractory do the trick? If so, what kind?
    #2. I have a rusty 7/16 X 6' X 10' piece of plate that needs to be bent lengthwise into a gentle arc. Picked it up with the old tractor and set it spanning a ditch and drove the big water filled back tires back and forth over it both ways but it sprang back to more or less flat and stuck out it's tongue.
    The alternative methods I thought of, tend to be dangerous, expensive or very slow. Suggestions please...otherwise I'll try dangerous next...( a couple more similar pieces of plate,chains and a row of hydraulic jacks)...yipee!
       - Pete F - Friday, 09/07/01 04:53:45 GMT

    Kaowool Andy, Thanks for the clarification. I have a couple bags of refractory cement (heavy stuff but cheap), a box of Calgon water softener (sodium silicate) and a huge box of vermiculite to play with. I'm still needing fireclay.

    The plan is to build a couple test forges. One from castable with an inner layer of straight stuff and and outer insulating layer of vermiculite and the castable. Filler boards will be used in the mold to leave space for the insulating layer. Molds will have thermocouple wells and burner ports cast in. Details will be posted as we go along.

    Another will be built with the homemade mix that has been posted here various times consisting of vermiculite, fireclay, sand and a little portland cement. AND I want to try the sodium silicate as binder with vermiculite.

    Brick molds will be made for the extra as well as some mini blocks for testing purposes. The little test blocks with all their exposed edges will be set in the middle of a hot forge and "cooked" to see how they hold up.

    All this was supposed to be done earlier in the summer but didn't get done. I also have a TREX burner that Rex Price sent me to test. It is a beautiful piece of hardware and anyone thinking about purchasing one should do it. Our testing will be a comparison to a more primitive home made burner.
       - guru - Friday, 09/07/01 04:56:56 GMT

    PLATE BENDING: Pete, I let down the lift in my old garage loaded with my 50 chevy 3/4ton truck onto its bumper lying on the floor. . . Straightened it about 90%. The weight of the hydraulic lift was about 25% of the force.

    If you wanted that plate straight it would be bent. . .

    A series of equally spaced weld beads will bend (warp) the heck out of that plate with no overt action. It will stay bent even if you grind them flat.

    Here is another overt force method that is definitely dangerous but might be done safely if you are careful. Use several chains and loadbinders to tension the chain. You can hook one loadbinder next to the other and when the first is loose remove it to become the second. . . I let an overhead crane down from a ceiling using this method and four (small) cam type load binders. Screw type would be safer. However, this type of bend it all at once method requires tremondous force and if anything lets go. . . well I hope your life insurance is paid up.

    Otherwise you need those hydraulic jacks and a weld platen.

    The welding method is your best option unless you want to pay a shop with a big press brake or set of rolls to do it for you. A friend of mine has a set of old rolls that will do that size up to 1/2" thick that he is selling. $6,000 and shipping from Virginia and they are all yours.
       - guru - Friday, 09/07/01 05:14:04 GMT

    MY APPOLOGIES TO NORM HARVEY Norm asked a simple question about carbon steel and I went on a tirade about swords. I'm sorry.
       - guru - Friday, 09/07/01 05:16:56 GMT

    hi, you mentioned cerabend back in feb '00 and i have been trying to get hold of some, to no avail. i wonder if you know of where to get it or whether it goes under another name?
       John - Friday, 09/07/01 10:01:30 GMT

    Pete F., I use Satanite(tm) in the gas forges I make to protect the Inswool. Mix it kinda thin & just coat with your hand. Let it dry well before firing. This makes a nice hard shell over the inswool to protect it some & keep the fibers in. Satanite is available from RHI Refactories, www.hwr.com, they have outlets all over.
    In my experience Inswool or Kaowool insulate MUCH better than solid cast liners. In some older gas forges I made I used cast liners & had a hard time reaching welding temps. When I switched to Inswool I was able to weld with no problems. The forges were exactly the same design, just different liners. I'm going to start putting a cast bottom on mine & use inswool for the sides & tops, on pipe forges.
       Mike Roth - Friday, 09/07/01 13:07:37 GMT

    Sword Testing and Quality Control:

    Norm- I would say you're facing a dilemma. Even if it is high carbon, you would probably have to send it to a lab for microscopic analysis to determine if it was properly heat treated (and in all the right places).

    The following was posted last year (but worth recycling). This is from the antebellum era, when we knew our sabers were going to win the war for us; sword testing straight from the 19th century when it really was a matter of life and death. The emphasis seems to be on strength, with no notes on the sharpness. The following is quoted verbatim, with the exception of font size, bold and italic.


    S/ 353. Dimensions. The dimensions are compared with the model, and verified by appropriate gauges and patterns.

    S/ 354. Proof of blade. The blade is proved : 1st. By confining the point by a staple, and bending the blade over a cylindrical block, the curvature of which is that of a circle 35 inches diameter, the curvature of the part next to the tang being reduced by inserting a wedge 0.7 in. thick in the head, and 14 inches long; 2d. It is struck twice on each of the flat sides, on a block of oak wood, the curvature of which is the same above; 3d. It is struck on the edge, and twice on the back across an oak block one foot in diameter;
    4th. The point is placed on the floor and the blade bent until it describes an arc having a certain versed sine. After these trials, the blade is examined to see that it is free from flaws, cracks or other imperfections, and that it is not set, that is to say, does not remain bent.

    The scabbard is proved by letting a two-pound weight fall upon it, from a height of 18 inches. The weight should be only one inch square at the base; the scabbard should not be indented.




    The first problem, from your point of view, is that this is proof testing. If it fails, you reject it and the supplier doesn't get paid. All very well and good at a federal armory, but you'd certainly have to have an extraordinary deal with your suppliers. The second problem is that these tests were also, somewhat, subjective. With the exception of the arc tests and the scabbard test, the sword is, essentially, bashed about on an oak block. So, who's doing the bashing? Big Larry or Tiny Tim? If I were running an arsenal, I'd put my money on Big Larry. The whole idea of a proof test (cannons were double loaded and double shotted) was to make sure the weapon could handle extreme conditions.

    If you have a number of talented suppliers, and if they would be agreeable, tell them that you don't want any swords that don't pass a set of similar (but more objective) tests. They should pass the tests before they send them to you, and they should pass the tests after you receive them. Wayne Goddard (see the Bookshelf) has a chapter on blade testing.

    I have had a lot of swords fail over the years. Tangs, handles, pommels; all tend to come lose at embarrassing moments. Just ask my reenacting friends. (And that's why I love my axe!)

    Tests are for the whole sword, not just the blade.

    Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

    Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
       Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 09/07/01 13:15:47 GMT

    Pete, if that plate is mild steel, you need at least 40,000 psi stress to yield it. If it springs back, you donít have enough stress to bend (yield) it. In other words, you need more weight. I ran some quick calculations. If the plate is supported on itís very edges (the 6 foot long edges) and you have a load on the center of the plate, but distributed over a 3 foot long arc, you need a 3600 pound load to get 40,000 psi stress. Youíd need a pretty big tractor to get 3600 pounds from one rear wheel. I assume you only had one rear wheel on it since the plate is only 6' wide? I assumed a 3 foot long arc since I guessed at your tractor tire diameter and the arc you want to bend it to. The plate will harden as it bends form the cold work, so you will need even more weight to get even more stress. And if you support it in from the ends some to account for shortening in plan view, you will need even more weight.

    If the plate is mild steel and it is supported 1 foot in from the 6 foot ends, and the bending load is distributed over a three foot arc, I estimate you will need over 5000 pounds of load to bend the plate.

    I assume you have a loader on the tractor. Would it work to do the following? Contour the ditch to ďa little tighter thanĒ the arc you want to bend the plate to, accounting for springback. Then make a wood form ďa little tighter thanĒ the arc to place on top of the plate. Then put some weight on your loader bucket and drive the front tires of the loader onto the top of the wood form that is on top of the plate that is laying over the ditch?

    If you make a form to bend to, you can use more weight than necessary and won't overbend the piece.

    Iíve made a large number of assumptions. If any are incorrect, let me know and I will adjust.

    If it is stronger than mild steel, you will need more weight. My scrap guy gets a lot of T-1 plate. HUGE power required to bend that stuff. I hope you don't have T-1 or abrasion resistant plate.

    If you canít get enough load to bend the plate and donít want to pay someone to roll it, you may want to bend it as much as you can and then do the Guruís welding idea. Prebending will mean you have less welding to do.

    Another, more work option, is to cold bend it with a big sway back anvil and a big sledge hammer. It works. But it is a HUGE amount of hard labor.

    Oh, to have that BIG hydraulic press, huh?

    Dontch ya just love working outside the envelope? I do. It scares the heck out of my wife.

    Let us know what you end up doing. Kids, donít try this at home! Lots of energy involved and when energy decides to let loose, flesh can fly. And it hurts!
       Tony - Friday, 09/07/01 13:41:14 GMT

    Cerrocast, Cerrobend, Cerromet: John, Sorry about the confusion. I mispelled the product name as Ceracast, instead of Cerrocast. From Thomas Register

    Cerro Metal Products Co., Alloy Dept.
    P.O. Box 388
    Bellefonte, PA 16823

    FAX: 814-355-6227

    Low Melting, Fusible, Non Shrinking, For Tube Bending, Work Holding, Pattern Making, Die Mounting, Medical Shielding Devices, Mold Making, Forming Dies For Sheet Metal Parts, Proof Casting.
       - guru - Friday, 09/07/01 13:46:07 GMT

    Swords---you can get a pretty good idea of tempered vs un-tempered (really mean hardened but the usage is pretty common) by checking it out with a file. They actually make a set of file that can give you an approx Rockwell number but you should do ok with a fine file and it'll do very little to the blade---except sharpen it a tad at the edge.

    Ge the file and try various blades you know about until you get the hang of it.

    Bending a big piece---have you thought of smithing it? I knew a fellow who used to bend I-beam in arcs by digging a trench in a field and putting an electric blower onto a pipe with holes, stacking the coal high and sticking the beam in it and letting it heat up. They would then grab an end and move it to a pre-determined position, do the other leg and let cool. The idea was to have an arched beam that would "sag" to dead flat when used in a roof. I've box folded some 3/8" plate using the same technique---for plate it helps if you throw some charcoal along the fold line to concentrate the heat---shoot welding, press brake, rolling---aint there any smiths here? (If nothing else annealing it would probably let the ditch-wheel trick work)

    Thomas (and I'm smack dab in the city---I smoked the alleyway solid from side to side end to end when I did that coking up!---used all that nasty "here you're a smith you can use all this nasty stoker coal that has been sitting around for 50 years in our basement" coal got rid of it and got some use out of it---the project was a firebox for the local Santa Maria replica)
       Thomas Powers - Friday, 09/07/01 14:28:54 GMT

    Almost forgot---S.Crow/R.Raven here's the cite

    Agricultural Engineering in Development; Basic Blacksmithing: a training manual. by J.B Stokes isbn 92-5-102738-2, C 1992 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO Agricultural Bulletin 88/1
    there is also intermediate and advanced manuals that have some of the more interesting things in it---like using cast iron as a hardfacing compound for mild steel axeheads (IIRC you heat the axehead to orange and heat a stick of cast iron likewise and "crayon on" the cast iron onto the mild steel leaving a carbon enriched edge.)

       Thomas Powers - Friday, 09/07/01 14:40:05 GMT

    On the California coast where Pete lives they would probably bury him UNDER the jail for building an outdoor fire that big! At the dullest of reads that plate might just sag to the mild curve he wants though. . . But I'll bet he wants to keep the rust too!
       - guru - Friday, 09/07/01 15:51:16 GMT

    Guru & Pete,
    Thanks for the feedback on my flashback arrestor. I think maybe I'll take it apart and look it over again just in case. Large roaring fire and explosion in my shop doesn't sound like fun...
       Dave C - Friday, 09/07/01 16:57:08 GMT

    Cast iron for hard-facing: Has this been done and the end result tested in the presence of reliable witnesses? And why not weld on a proper edge?
       Olle Andersson - Friday, 09/07/01 18:27:56 GMT

    Sword-testing: Bruce, do you know of any relationship between thicknes of blade and diameter of curvature?
       Olle Andersson - Friday, 09/07/01 18:36:42 GMT

    Olle, That is a point I was making. A Rapier or sabre that are thin will deflect a great deal but a broad sword or long sword will not have nearly the flexibility. It would be simple to calculate if the sections were equal and not tapered. However, some blades are diamond in section while others are a "filleted beam" shape.

    But a fair approximation could be gained using a rectangular section and comparing it to the thickest part of the blade. This is where the most stress occurs and where a blade would be yeilded first.

    A good spread sheet exercise. . . I haven't converted any to HTML. . and my javascript math is not that good.
       - guru - Friday, 09/07/01 18:46:37 GMT


    I am trying to build a free standing post vice stand, and was looking for some advice. The best one I have seen so far was a piece of plate wuth 4 pieces of angle iron welded on as legs, bent and flattened on the bottom to be boolted to a concrete floor. I would like to build something similar, but the floor of my shop is not sand over dirt with 24" square pavers on top. I was thinking that I might get a good solid stand if I welded a piece of plate to the bottom, and set this plate directly on the sand, possibly with some long (2"?) landscapeing stakes throught the plate and sand into the dirt.

    Question 1: does this have any hope of working?

    Question 2: What thickness of plate, and what size of angle iron would be sufficent for a stable stand?

    Question 3: if this is a bad plan overall, what would you recommend instead?


       - Jim Freely - Friday, 09/07/01 20:21:03 GMT

    Jim F. I made a portable vise stand that I use for demo's that works really well. I have some pictures of it at http://home.adelphia.net/%7Emcroth/ViseStand.html . It's pretty easy to make if you have a welder.
       Mike Roth - Friday, 09/07/01 20:30:35 GMT

    Cast iron hard facing. Yes it has been done it's listed as a common technique for the area. Why not weld on a piece of good steel? Cause they didn't have one, or had trouble welding in a small hole in the ground with limited charcoal. This is not a manual for us wealthy folk it's written for the folks living in the scrub who's lucky to have a hammer! This manual is written for an area lacking in good supplies of scrap metal for the smith---but human's ave amazingly inventive on ways to take what they've got and figure a way out to use it---I remember in "Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs" folks using oatmeal boxes for gasket material when they were out in the Gobi and wanted a way back...

       Thomas Powers - Friday, 09/07/01 21:35:24 GMT


    Oatmeal boxes work well, so do old file folders. I've made many a small engine head gasget out of file folders.

    Back in the mountains, we learned to make do and do without.
       Paw+Paw+Wilson - Friday, 09/07/01 23:08:07 GMT


    Where's the spell checker???? (grin)

    That should be gasket, not gasget.
       Paw+Paw+Wilson - Friday, 09/07/01 23:08:56 GMT

    Paw-paw, I thought YOU were the spell checker. . at least that is what you keep telling me. . looks like a word in some other language. .

    Portable Vise Stand. It depends on what you want the vise for. How much torque it has to withstand. A large flat surface with the leg vise anchored to a post of some type will take anything you can apply if you are standing on the base plate. This puts you in the same world or "frame of reference" as the vise. You can't move the vise because you ARE the vise. . . kind of zen physics. If the plate is circular then you can tip it by the vise and roll it. The base could be wood or steel or some of both. Putting the vise off center about half a foot will make it a little more difficult to roll BUT it will give you more room to stand on. Keep it under 4' in diameter so it will fit in your pickup truck.

    If you want high tech the "disk" can be a rolled ring. Put the standing platform only on one side (120 degrees). With the vise off center it will nearly (could be made perfect) balance and still roll. You need a few spokes on the open side.
       - guru - Friday, 09/07/01 23:55:38 GMT

    Use a truck fly wheel from the junkyard for the base.

    I just spell check what YOU write! (grin)
       Paw+Paw+Wilson - Saturday, 09/08/01 00:42:28 GMT

    I am just a beginner who wants to make hand forged knives with Tim Lively's charcoal forge tub. I am looking for a Chapmion 60 hand crank forge blower. Do you have any leads besides Ebay.com? Please reply.
       Gary Behun - Saturday, 09/08/01 02:04:12 GMT

    Gary, These are no longer made, so flea markets, farm sales and used tool dealers are your only choice. There are often tool collector/dealers at ABANA chapter meets. Joining your local ABANA chapter is often the BEST way to meet folks and finds tools. Prices will be better than eBay. Enough to pay for membership. You could also post a want list on our Virtual Hammer-In. You might also want to check Bruce Wallace's used equipment list.

    Don't get stuck on this piece of 19th century equipment. They are convienient when they can be found but bellows are not that hard to make and work just as well. Blowers can also be fabricated from tin and wood, and powered by an old bicycle mechanism.

    The best modern substitute and much more convienient is a old hair dryer blower. These often get tossed when the heating elements stop working. Electric blowers are MUCH more useful if you have power and it doesn't take much. Farriers run 12V DC blowers on their truck forges.
       - guru - Saturday, 09/08/01 02:15:01 GMT

    Guru,what is so called light copper? Copper+? What is red copper? Can you give me some tips on how to reconize quality copper from the scrap yard,if there is any difference or choice? Flashback arrestor is on. Thanks.
       Jeesun - Saturday, 09/08/01 03:49:13 GMT

    Copper Jeesun, Copper probably has more alloys than any other metal. I've never heard of "light" copper unless someone was talking about thin sheet.

    Most copper you find in scrap yards is nearly pure such as copper wire, sheet (roofing and flashing), bussbars and pipe.

    Cast plumbing fittings are generaly red-bronze. A copper tin alloy. But small hex fittings are generaly a leaded screw machine stock of a yellow brass, a copper zinc alloy.

    However, if the yard has machine shop scrap it could be anything. Beryllium bronzes are used for springs and anti-spark tools, wrenches and hammers. Beryllium needs to be treated very carefully. Inhaled beryllium dust can be lethal. Some leaded brasses are very difficult to forge and lead can also be a problem when polishing. You should always have good ventilation and wear a mask when buffing and polishing.

    Bronzes are generaly redish, brasses yellow, monel (a copper nickle alloy) silver. It is impossible to tell more by color alone. If you want a specific alloy you will need to buy it new. If you ABSOLUTELY must know then you need to have it certified. However, certification paperwork costs more than new material (in almost any quantity).
       - guru - Saturday, 09/08/01 05:03:05 GMT


    Thanks that's much like what I was thinking of, but with a plate for a base rather than the tripod. I will build a stand like yours first though, and see if that is going to be stable enough.

       - Jim Freely - Saturday, 09/08/01 06:31:16 GMT

    Cast iron hard-facing: Have YOU tried it? And - If you have a hole in the ground and charcoal, or even firewood enough, why not leave a dozen thin-bladed mild-steel axeheads there for a day or two. That way you get carburized cutting edges enough for the whole willage. Some kinds of wood, around here willow works fine, will glow for several days if the ash-cover isnīt disturbed.
       Olle Andersson - Saturday, 09/08/01 09:03:39 GMT

    Gurus,thanks.Also Cristopher T.Ray-I ended up in his site while I was browsing under What's New-brass/bronze related links-What a great teacher.His class on Technique/process is Just what I've been searching for. I was willing to sweep his studio floor/learn, sadly he is gone.Thank all of you for sharing your knowledge-what a great world I live in.
       Jeesun - Saturday, 09/08/01 14:28:20 GMT

    Portable vise stand, I had to make a stand that is VERY stable as I am building several rails that are curved. I am bending the top and bottom rails on site with a hydraulic bending mahcine that I made. I then take the rails to the vise which is mounted to the bumper of my truck to put the twist in the rails. Photos to follow next week. TC
       Tim Cisneros - Saturday, 09/08/01 14:49:27 GMT

    Cast Iron Hardfacing: Olle, sounds like an old wives tale or a myth to me. A lot of impossible or impractical methods get published by authors that have never tested them (or asked other experts). Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing is one of the best book on historical methods put there is ONE place were some old blacksmith told him a "story" and Bealer fell for it "hook, line and sinker" as we say in the US.

    Instructions to make a forged rose state, "starting with a 1/4" rod upset a 1" ball on the end. ." And it gets worse. But it is a massive landmark work. The technique IS possible but highly impractical and will probably result in failure more times than sucess. To the best of my knowledge it is also the only time Bealer makes such a gross error.
       - guru - Saturday, 09/08/01 14:51:18 GMT

    Yeah, this hardfacing thing sounds like horse hockey to me, tho' I admit to not having tried it. Even if you got a carbon case, as in "case hardening" or "carburizing", the high carbon case would only be into the stock surface a few thousandths of and inch. Chop a little wood and/or sharpen the axe, and you'd be into mild steel again.
       Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/08/01 18:14:44 GMT

    I have almost completed work on a air-powered hammer. I have named it "air force one", the obvious pun intended. It's probably a level 2 JYH based on your erudite definitions and incorporates some unique features I would like to discuss with you later. Here's my question: Would joking about it over the internet constitute a national threat, I mean referring to it by name. I know that you are very prudent when it comes to this (or any other) subject. I will never forget your response to a guy who was joking around about forging with an unmentionable material (not sand). I like the name too well to rename it. would I end up in the slammer, joking about a hammer with a handle like that? I will be sending photos soon.
    Have a nice weekend,

       - l.sundstrom - Saturday, 09/08/01 19:21:50 GMT

    Guru,is there a flux suitable for getting gold solder (of some kind) to stick to steel? My idea is to etch the steel, slightly overfill the design with gold solder then rub down flat and hot-caustic blue(in order to get gold-on-black designs)as an alternative to the traditional method of inlay.
       Glyn - Saturday, 09/08/01 19:47:18 GMT

    Glyn, Very clean steel will solder but it works best to copper flash the surface. All this requires is dipping the clean steel into a copper sulfate solution. Bright steel comes out bright copper. Any type of solder will generaly stick to the copper surface much better than to plain steel. Common flux for the particuliar solder is solder should be used. The thin layer of copper on the rest of the surface will be easily removed in the dressing process you already planned on.

    You may want to experiment with the entire process on a piece of scrap steel. Use a similar alloy, heat treatment and and finishes. Gold and silver are far from iron/steel in the galvanic series. The bluing process may produce some unexpected results due to the differences (discoloration, ghosting).

    If a chemical process turns out not to be suitable you can get a beautifull blue by tempering. It is not as durable as a chemical blue but the color is briliant.

    Gold inlays have been used in steel for millinia and can be quite striking.
       - guru - Saturday, 09/08/01 20:37:54 GMT

    Air Force One: Larry, I like it. I don't think you would have any problem with it in context.

    There are some things you don't do/say in public. Yelling "fire" in a crowded theater will get you jailed for inciting a riot and public endangement as well as charged with the resulting deaths and injuries. In the 70's a U.S. law was passed making it ilegal to threaten the life of the president. And it is just plain stupid to claim to possess contraban materials in public (like the case you mentioned).

    However, you DO have a problem. :( The idea sounded so good and seemed VERY familiar. So I did a search in Thomas Register. Clippard Instrument Laboratory, Inc., maker of air cylinders and controls has a product called Air-Force One.


       - guru - Saturday, 09/08/01 20:54:15 GMT

    Thanks very much for advice re gold inlay, I'll try it!
       Glyn - Saturday, 09/08/01 21:34:04 GMT

    Larry, How about "Air Forge One"?
       Cracked - Sunday, 09/09/01 01:34:56 GMT

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