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 September 1 - 8, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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Hello, does anyone know where I can find our about making a good throwing axe or hawk
   - want to knnow about hawks - Sunday, 09/01/02 00:09:03 GMT


Check out iForge #12.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 09/01/02 00:37:50 GMT

Throwing Hawks: http://www.premiernet.net/~longmire/Blacksmith.htm
Alan Longmire owns this site and gives details on how to make hawks, axes and shows his other fine works there. Alan is a good guy and will help when he can.
   - Robert ironworker - Sunday, 09/01/02 00:42:29 GMT

I am getting ready to install my forge in my new shop. Any suggestions on what type of chimney to use and what size.
I have approx 15 feet from the top of the forge to the roof.
When I forge it does not seem to get too hot beyond the hood.Is there a need for metalsbestos or any type of insulated pipe.
   Brian Pelletier - Sunday, 09/01/02 01:38:11 GMT

I read a book recently that talked about a smith "drawing wire." Now, this book was pure fiction, but the author seemed to half-way know his stuff when he talked about smithing. My question is thus:Is there a process for "drawing wire?" Would it be done through a die, if not, how was it done, way back when?
   Bond-JamesBond - Sunday, 09/01/02 02:21:42 GMT

Viking Iron:

Besides the Mastermyr find, which is a great resource for all of us tool and technology freaks, many of the more recent books and the catalog for the recent Smithsonian "Viking" exhibit (opening in St. Paul in November) have many objects for domestic use- pots, pans, forks, weaving swords, shears, scissors, locks, fish hooks, ring pins... A whole civilization's worth.

I think the British Museum website has some artifacts on the web, and there are several Scandanavian museum sites with further goodies.

Alas, I've got my bookmarks spread across three different computers, but I'll try to compile some of these over the next week unless others overwhelm you with additional information. (Master Powers?)

Drawing Wire:

Starts in the non-ferrous metals almost as soon as civilization gets rolling. Various possible draw plates show up in a Viking context, too. The debate is when did drawing iron wire become common, since that is intimately involved in making mail. Some have siezed upon Biringuccio's statement in the 16th century that powerd equipment (water power, of course) is needed to draw iron wire, although that may have refered to drawing wire with a higher degree of efficiency, expense and productivity (which factors are frequently cast aside when preparing your armor for war). Wiser heads than mine have been scratched regarding this question, so I'll let them elaborate. All I know is I have 1/4 mile of wire in my mail, and I am not a large person. (Crafty and devious when going viking? Yes. Large? No.) The product implies an efficient process of production.

Good forging weather on the banks of the lower Potomac. Working on my friends 2 gallon cookpot out of 1/8th inch steel plate. Excellent exercise.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 09/01/02 03:52:36 GMT

Wire Drawing: has been done the same way for centuries. Special annealed and finished bars are prepared by the "barman" (copper, brass steel). Then they are pulled through a steel die with a tapered hole and lots of lubricant. The hole is tapered for about 3/4 of its length and is straight for the last 1/4. Small wire was pulled by hand, attached to a reel and then pulled by cranking the reel. Heavier bar and wire was pulled with self gripping tongs and pulled by horses or mules. Depending on the alloy the wire can be drawn several times and then annealed and drawn further. Factory drawing of brass wire was done as early as the 1300's. Thus musical instruments with metal strings date from that time.

Bar for wire drawing is often preprocessed by cold rolling before drawing through dies. Jewlers use small hand crank rolling mills to produce gold and silver strip and wire but also draw it to produce precision sizing.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/01/02 04:01:50 GMT

Is it true you can ruin a anvil if it is on a cast iron or steel plate base? I realize it does not ring on this type of base. I notice when I change anvils my old one ring returned. If true, a wood spacer between anvil and steel base solve this problem?
   Gerry W. Jones - Sunday, 09/01/02 11:58:26 GMT

Guru, spent yesterday coaxing a couple of blades out of some 1/2" round RR spring material that I assume was 5160. Owing to it's thickness, I left it in my Whisper Baby a few minutes longer than when it appeared to reach forging heat. Forging HR A36 of similar dimensions is no problem but the 5160 was extremely stiff and took a great deal more effort to forge. Did I fail to soak it long enough or is 5160 just more difficult to work with due to the extra carbon and alloying?
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/01/02 14:02:59 GMT

The "Forging Industry Handbook" of 1970 lists a few AISI numbers for spring steels: 5155, 5160, 1050, 4161, 6150, 9254, 9255, 9260, and 51-B-60.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/01/02 14:24:49 GMT

5160 or others QC, 5150 has a very narrow forging range as it becomes too stiff to move while still at a red heat and at a "black heat" where you can still move mild steel it is hard enough to mark some anvils and hammers. In thin sections it is air quenching and when between anvil and hammer can be quenched by the tools. You must know when to quit when forging tool and spring steels. Put it back in the forge before it loses too much heat.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/01/02 16:05:30 GMT

Gerry, I'm not sure where you heard that but NO. Heavy metal stands are common and were manufactured by some anvil manufacturers. However, if you are doing heavy work on a light anvil and it is anchored so that it cannot be moved then it is more likely to be damaged (bent or broken horns, heals and feet). The heavy stand is NOT a substitute for a heavier anvil.

Anytime you are using a hammer of 4 pounds (1800g) or more or sledges of any kind then small anvils in the 100 to 175 pound (45kg to 80kg) class (the most common size) are too small.

I prefer not to tie my anvils down tight because when they start tipping or bouncing around they are telling you "STOP! I'm not big enough for that!". I also prefer stands I can pick up and move OR walk around the shop with the anvil on them.

For the same reasons, big anvils (whether by design or the physics of heat treating) are generaly much softer than small anvils. The big anvil has the mass to resist a heavy blow (it holds still) but the steel in a big anvil is no stronger than that in a small anvil. Therefore, to prevent heavy (and dangerous) chipping from the use of sledges, the larger the anvil the softer it SHOULD be. At least the corners should be shofter. I've observed this graduation of hardness on old anvils such as Hay-Buddens and Peter Wrights. But I do not think modern manufacturers graduate their hardness. The difference possibly being that the old manufacturers could not get a sufficient quench to fully harden a large anvil where modern manufacturers are using deep hardening alloy steels that are possible to get much harder than plain carbon steels.

Small anvils that are glass hard can take just about everything the average smith swinging a common hammer in the 2 to 3 pound (800 to 1300g) )range can deliver. As soon as strikers using sledges are involved all bets are off on the edges of the anvil withstanding a missed blow. . . Bolt that small anvil to a heavy stand and the situation is much worse.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/01/02 16:32:38 GMT

Forge Stacks: Brian, these need to be a minimum of 10" dia and 12" is much better. Building codes specify tripple wall pipe for roof and ceiling penetrations or anywhere there is flamable material nearby. In the "old" days it was common to see a wood or oil stove or even a forge vented through a window by replacing a piece of glass with sheetmetal. Sometimes these were special multi-layer vented afairs but often it was just a piece of light steel. It works, but is considered dangerous. The building codes no longer allow it and if no code is in effect then your insurance company may have something to say about it.

One advantage to tripple wall pipe is that it keeps the flue gasses hotter and you get a better draft. In a modern building I would use a tripple wall roof penetration and drop (say the first 10 ft of that 15 feet), then use a short length of plain pipe to make the connection.

If you can afford stainless as a connector pipe I highly recommend it. Coal smoke and ash is highly corrosive and thin hoods and pipe dissapear in a short couple years. The tripple wall pipe is stainless and is no problem. That is why I recommend a short connector pipe that is easy to replace. Galvanized holds up much better than plain steel but it is still attacked by the coal smoke.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/01/02 17:33:06 GMT

Tim at bendnet (DNS There really is no anonymity on the web. You just feel that way.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/01/02 17:56:50 GMT

We forge 5160 by the truckload. It’s a difficult alloy to work once it loses heat past bright red. We use NC Forges in our shop and have never had a problem overheating or burning stock, even when left in the forge longer than most steels would have burnt pass saving. We use a long soaking heat to sometimes as high as bright yellow and stop working the steel once it passes orange and starts turning red. I really don’t pay too much attention to the colors. I listen and feel for the working reaction the steel gives between the dies of the power hammer. If it doesn’t sound or feel right, I reheat. NC Forge’s pretty much self-regulate at the top forging range of 5160. No weird science involved, it makes it simple and the simpler it is for us - the better.
   Bruce R. Wallace - Sunday, 09/01/02 18:14:11 GMT

Please email me informatin on anvil shooting. I am interested in starting.
   Nicholas Jain - Sunday, 09/01/02 20:48:12 GMT

Nicolas - Draw or paint a 1" dia spot on the side. Step 100 yards back. Load 30 06 with teflon coated titanium rounds. Put three in that spot and you have a shot anvil, and 1 moa grouping!

Guru, thanks. It looks like trial and error will be the way out. I will go for 1 to 15 on the weight ratio, and somewhere around 180 hits per minute.
   Tiaan Burger - Sunday, 09/01/02 21:21:18 GMT

Re: 5160. It didn't take long to realize that I was getting nowhere once it cooled to a red heat. It went back into the forge at a good red heat. I tried a test piece for water quenching and while the water did not crack it, there was ample evidence of forging cracks from working it too cold. My forearm and elbow were also giving big hints that something was not right. Thanks for the insight.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/01/02 21:32:14 GMT

We haven't determined that the spring is 5160. Anyway, the Jorgensen's catalog of 1988, says: Forge 2100-2200F; normalize 1600-1700, air cool; anneal 1450-1550, cool in furnace; harden in OIL 1525. A wide range of mechanical properties can be obtained by tempering between 800F and 1300F. It's considered a "carbon-chromium steel". If you harden in water, you may get a quenchcrack.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/01/02 22:49:20 GMT

Guru, thanks for the wire drawing info, that was king of a surprise, I didn't think it would be done cold. Does the die just kind of shave off extra material, or does it push the material back, therefore elongating the original stock?
   Bond-JamesBond - Monday, 09/02/02 01:06:01 GMT


Don't shoot that anvil! It will only anger it, and they're dangerous if aroused! ;->

Another day's forging on the two gallon pot. At least it doesn't look like a sheet of metal with a random collection of lumps now.

Cool and rainy on the banks of the lower Potomac. First day since spring when I've gotten to the forge and the outside temperature was actually below 70f.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 09/02/02 03:40:15 GMT

I'm trying to find someone that carries the Korean rasp
they were very low priced and lasted well.
would you help please
   Tom - Monday, 09/02/02 04:38:37 GMT

Bond- Non-ferrous wire is always drawn cold, as far as I know. The friction of the drawing die would put impossible strains on hot stock, and it would probably pull apart or deform past the die, were it drawn hot. The die, being tapered, actually swages the wire down as it passes through the die. The end resultis longer, thinner wire. The volume of metal remains the same, so you can calculate the length you will wind up with by dividing the total volume by the cross-sectional area. On a B&S wire guage, every fourth size [i.e. from 18 ga.,(.040") to 24 ga.,(.021")]is about half the diameter. So, you get 4 times the length.

Drawing dies are made in various cross-sectional shapes. The wire is annealed and lubricated prior to drawing. One of the old traditional lubricants for drawing silver was beeswax, and for very fine gold they used oil of wintergreen. (I find paraffin works fine.) Traditionally, small wire was pulled by hand, and larger diameters were pulled with a "drawing horse", a long bench with a yoke to hold the drawplate at one end and a windlass at the other end. A long leather belt with a triangular ring at the end was winched onto the windlass, with the triangular ring slipped over the handles of the draw tongs. As the belt pulled tight, it squeezed the handles of the tongs, gripping the wire. Iron wire was drawn in the same way.

   vicopper - Monday, 09/02/02 04:47:37 GMT

Anvil Shooting: Nicholas, Step one is to get certified to handle explosives such as fireworks. I believe this requires some type of apprenticeship training in most states. Step two is to find someone that shoots anvils and learn from them. Those I know that train others require an apprenticeship period.

I'd be a fool to give you instructions over the web and you would be a bigger fool to take it, which in turn would disqualify you from being suitable to handle explosives safely.
   - guru - Monday, 09/02/02 07:08:57 GMT

More on Wire Drawing: In modern production processes the wire is drawn by friction rollers and passes through multiple dies as it is reduced in size. During the process the wire is annealed and pickled in line with the drawing process. This is done by heating the wire as it travels (untensioned) and then passing over and under rollers in the pickling bath. Continous pieces of wire miles long are manufactured this way. The dies are the same shape as they were 700-800 years ago.

Now. . . consider flux core steel welding rod and flux core solder. . . They start as a large fat billet with holes filled with flux (powder in steel and paste in lead), the ends welded shut. Then the billet is rolled and drawn into wire as above. My favorite electronic flux has five microscopic bores filled with rosin flux. . .
   - guru - Monday, 09/02/02 07:27:31 GMT

Frank, True, it may not be 5160. Tuesday I may send it to our chem lab and get a chemistry run. I know, this spoils all the fun but.... It did forge very stiff. As for the cracking potential, yep, it can shatter like a fried marble which is why I did a test first. I may also have been just lucky the first time and would oil quench it if I had any oil. May try the mass quenching technique of pressing it between two big pieces of cold steel. Even if it doesn't get too hard, it will probably be straight!
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 09/02/02 12:10:13 GMT

Greetings Guru. I seem to recall a link somewhere to a list of steels commonly used for given uses ( springs, yada yada ). I recently picked up a handfull of old tire irons, and was wonderin if you had the link in your pocket somewheres... As always, thanks.
   - Ten Hammers - Monday, 09/02/02 13:14:51 GMT

John Lowther I have a Beverly B-3 sweetest lady in my shop. it cuts 3\16" with no prob and i can push up to 1\4"Lee P.
   Lee Pavlica - Monday, 09/02/02 14:56:15 GMT


Just a side note on drawing flux core. The hole in drill steel is made in a similar fasion. The high carbon steel billet is cored out and a piece of very low carbon steel inserted. Then the billet is rolled out as normal, often to one inch hex. Then the end is quenched and broken off revealing the end of the soft core. This is then pulled out. Doesn't seem possible at first, but what happens is that as the end is pulled it streaches to a smaller diameter and work hardens at the same time. The part that streches becomes stronger so that the next portion starts sreaching until the entire core is extracted. A good analogy is the plastic used to hold a six-pack together. If you pull on this stuff it streaches some without breaking, becomes stronger and the next part starts streaching.
   - grant - Monday, 09/02/02 15:20:32 GMT

In re-reading my post, I realize some more information might be needed here. "Drill steel" is the hollow bar used in a jackhammer or pneumatic percussion drill. Air from the jackhammer is forced down the hole in the bit to keep the dust cleared out of hole that is being drilled. Most people call a paving breaker a jackhammer, but this is a misconception caused I guess because they look and sound pretty much the same. Jackhammer bits are hollow, paving breaker bits are solid.
   - grant - Monday, 09/02/02 15:46:36 GMT

On starting a coal fire,,, I only have one coal fire, and that is the first one. After that I start my fires with a newspaper "mushroom" via Turley forge delivered fresh daily so to speak, and coke. i get a nearly smokeless startup and can durned near have my forge up and rolling as quick as starting my torches,, of course i don't start the torches very often...When i start a coal fire, i use paper,wood shavings, and coal. no water,, when the coal turns to coke,, all is done 'til i have a first fire again,, and even then i do a little ritual and carry coke from an existing forge to the new one,, kinda keeps the traditions hot,, so to speak.
   Lee Pavlica - Monday, 09/02/02 16:16:52 GMT

I have been told of a recuperating gas forge. The plans are sold at the ABANA store. befor I purchase the plans I would like to know more about the forge.
-what is a recuperating gas forge
-will it need a blower or not
-is it true that it uses the exhaust heat to preheat the air fuel befor combustion
-is it true that it is quite unlike other forges that sound like a 747
-can it reach a welding heat
-is it expensive to produce
   Thomas - Monday, 09/02/02 16:55:35 GMT

Wire Drawing,
I don't know where I read this, or what the documentation for it is but it's my understanding that one of the first if not the first mechaniztion in the german blacksmith shops of the late middle ages was a wire drawing machine. I also have some place a picture of a wiredrawing bench from an english silversmiths shop. It's a windlass with a wide leather belt that pulls the drawing pliers
   - JimG - Monday, 09/02/02 17:00:34 GMT

Steels List Ten, that is posted on our 21st Century page. However, the list is not very accurate as it does not list duplicate steels for many items as did most of the source material it was taken from such as MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK.
   - guru - Monday, 09/02/02 17:11:33 GMT

scrappy, claytsj@spacestar.com your mail bounced and we couldn't register you for the Slack-Tub Pub.
   - guru - Monday, 09/02/02 17:12:56 GMT

Recuperative Forge: Thomas, "recuperative" means making use of waste heat from the exhaust. Heating the intake air via a heat exchanger improves the efficiency of a furnace and often raises the maximum temperature. A recuperative forge or furnace can be either atmospheric or not (using a blower). The ABANA plans do not use a blower.

Noise is subjective. All gas and oil forge burners make a certain degree of sound. The blower types can vibrate objects off benches and shelves. . . Atmospheric types are quieter but many also make quite a bit of noise. Doors reduce the transmission of forge noise. The more burners a forge has the noiser the forge.

Most gas forges can reach a welding heat but home-built units can vary greatly in quality of construction so there are no garantees.

All recupretive forges and furnaces are more complicated to to make than non-recupretive types thus are more expensive to build. How much more expensive depends on whether or not you count your labor as an expense or how much you value your time. In materials the ABANA plan is probably only 5% more expensive to build than other types as it requires some extra sheet metal and some stainless (I think).

I do not have a copy of the ABANA plans. All I have is a copy of the 20 year old article in the Anvil's Ring. However, I am told that the bill of materials is either not accurate or is for multiple forges and that the door design is not very good.

The refractory materials used in many forges are not cheap. The light weight refractories are efficient, easy to handle and can produce a portable forge or furnace. However, they are much more expensive and less durable than heavy castable refractories. Everything is a compromize. . .
   - guru - Monday, 09/02/02 18:02:51 GMT

Drill Steels: Deep hole gun drills have a long small hole for high pressure coolant and lubricant to be pumped to the tip and to flush out chips. AND there are some twist drills that have two coolant holes that follow the twist. . . are we cross eyed and having fun yet?
   - guru - Monday, 09/02/02 18:06:41 GMT

Ten Hammer's /// Scrap Steel List /// 1 page printout:::
Try http://www.flash.net/~dwwilson/ntba/archive/junksteel.html
That web page prints out on one computer page (from your printer), with no missing data running off the page edges.
NTBA stands for North Texas Blacksmiths association. The Guru is right about the page's limitations, but you might not have a copy of Machinery's Handbook yet.
Hope that helps;
Hot, up here, and definitely not white in The Great White North.
   slag - Monday, 09/02/02 18:22:10 GMT

what is the correct process for embeding steel bar ( railings ) into stone using molten lead, as was once traditional?

Many thanks.
   Terry - Monday, 09/02/02 21:04:48 GMT

Hey all,

I am out in Eastern CA visiting a smith friend of mine, and he pointed out an anvil someone gave him. It says "william Easter" and "1852" and has a crown on it as well. I would love to gove Wally some information on this anvil, if anyone has any. It's in great shape....

BTW, I just put my order in for 2 copies of "anvils...." from the store, so next time I can probably looki it up myself.

HE also has a very odd machine that we can't identify. I took a few pictures, but don't have anyplace to post them. If anyone what's to take a crack at identifying it just let me know.

Lastly, I purchased a coal forge and leg vice at a yardsale out here ($200!), and the forge breaksdown into pieces for shipping! The guy I bought it from have the origanal box for the forge and vice, and will dig it out for my before we leave. It's in surprisingly good condition, and the blower works perfectly. Iron lasts so much londer out here than in Virgina..... Not sure who the manufacturer is, but the blower is a champion and mounted higher than the firepot. Again, pics are available if anyone wants to see them.

   Jim - Monday, 09/02/02 21:58:51 GMT

Jim, Your friends anvil is a William Foster made in England in 1852. Paw Paw may tell you a bit more. If you have the spare time email me pictures of the forge and vise you bought laying along side their boxes. ironworker1098@yahoo.com thank you.
   - Robert ironworker - Monday, 09/02/02 23:10:30 GMT

Jim, Robert covered it pretty well. The only other things I would mention is that the stone weight should be marked on the opposite side from the trademark. The manufacturer was probably located in Sheffield Engoland. Apparently the company either went out of busines or stopped exporting to the United States sometime in the 1860's or 1870's.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 09/03/02 00:22:03 GMT

Jim, shipping instructions did not come through. I sent mail to you before seeing your post above. Please mail me shipping and inscription info for each book.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 01:11:28 GMT

Hi - I want to know if you can Mig weld galvanized steel with a Mig welder and flux core wire? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me! Phil
   Phil - Tuesday, 09/03/02 01:16:28 GMT

Leading in pickets and posts: Terry, this is done a number of ways. On interior work the hole is drilled in the masonry just big enough to leave about 1/8" clearance around the pickket or post. A dam is made around the picket and hole with daming compound such as used for doing babbiting. The lead is melted and when it chars a pine stick dipped into it the temperature right. Scrape the dross off the melt before pouring or use a bottom pour crucible/melting ladel. Pour steadily and let the dam fill about 1/4" higher than the mounting surface. The picket is heated beforhand with a torch to prevent premature freezing of the lead.

After the lead solidifies, remove the dam. Then use a caulking iron to drive the lead into the hole around the picket making a tight joint. The lead shrinks when it cools and can result in a loose fit. Trim the lead flush to the surface with a sharp chisel. The bright lead can be darkened with a solution of copper sulphate followed by. . . hmmm. . (can't remember). Or the lead can be left as-is and it will darken on its own.

For outdoor work the same method can be used. However a larger hole is often used and sometimes a weather proof joint is wanted. In this case the damn is made taller and lined with a piece of sheet metal bent to the desired shape. The shape is determined by the style of the work and can be round, square, hex or octagon. On square bar an octogon with corner flats narrower than the main flats that line up with the bar. Soot the inside surface of the mold.

The lead is poured as above but 1/2" to 1" higher than the work surface. After removing the dam and mold the lead is forged and finished to a pyramid shape driving the lead towards the picket to tighten it. Flats are formed to match the picket shape or if round the shape is formed in the round. A curved fuller is useful for this and other tools as you may think of. Files and scrapers can also be used but that results in spreading fine lead shavings around contaminating the area with lead. Where the lead collar meets the steel it should do so at a right angle and have a flat at least 1/8" wide.

The lead is then treated with coper sulphate solution before painting. I would also recommend zinc cold galvanizing at the joint. Be sure to mask the masonry before using spray paint.

You may want to practice making these sculptural joints in your shop before attempting them in the field. The melting temperatures of lead alloys vary greatly. Pure lead has a fairly high melting point 620°F (327°C) but tin is much lower 450°F (232°C) and it lowers the melting point of lead as in lead based solders.

There are other lead, ten and bismuth alloys that melt at very low temperatures and others that expand when they freeze. These are used to bed ways into machine tool castings. These alloys are made by:

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 - Tuesday, 09/03/02 01:58:51 GMT

Phil, Grind the galvanized away where your weld will be and make your weld, then use spray galvanized to cover. This is standard on jobsites across the country.
   - Robert ironworker - Tuesday, 09/03/02 02:09:53 GMT

Welding Galvanized Metal: Phil, NO and DON'T DO IT!

Welding galvanized metal has resulted in more illness and death amoung welders than any other cause. New galvanizing is zinc only and the results are less than fatal (metal fume fever) but is cumulative and can bother you for the rest of your life. Old galvanizing had cadnium in it and was absolutely fatal to welders. Breathe the fumes and you are DEAD, MORTE, CAPUT! And worse, it is a slow painful death.

Galvanized CAN be welded but should be done with exceptional care to ventilate the area. A forced air exhaust system is reccommended (the type with the hose inlet right at the work). There should be NO workers in the vicinity of the exhaust. . .

Galvanize can be brazed and arc welded. However, to make sound joints the galvanized coating should be removed from the weld area. After welding the area is cleaned of flux and burnt galvanizing then pure zinc paint (cold galvanizing) is applied to repair the break in the galvanizing.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 02:13:51 GMT

MORE: Robert is correct that welding galvanize is done all the time. In most cases working outdoors you have plenty of ventilation. However, this is one of thoses cases of "what folks get away with". Most galvanizing welding jobs are small and the chances of have a problem are low. But if the wind is blowing the wrong direction, the galvanize is heavy and you did not grind enough off, OR this time the weld is in a small manway . . . .

Welders "get away" with welding galvanized every day. Then one day they get a job where it is days or weeks of welding. They use the same sloppy methods they have been "getting away with" on job sites for years and the next thing you know they are home with the "flue". They THINK it is the flue, the symptoms are the same (fever, headache, joint pain) and it MIGHT go away in a few days. IF they go back to the same job they get sicker then next time. . . and it may be for months this time. There is no cure. With enough exposure the symptoms never go away and liver failure and eventual death follows.

A year or so ago I got a very sad letter from a lady looking for information on metal poisioning. Her husband had been a self employed welder and was very sick (dying) from a number of ailments. They had been to numerous doctors before one finaly diagnosed the problem. He was no help and all I could do was report the same. If this fellow had worked in industry as a welder he would have had one heck of a law suit. But in this case he had only himself to blame.

Life time welders are exposed to all kinds of nasty things. The smoke from burning rods is often no different than wood smoke (not good for you, but not fatal in low exposures) but it also contains many other things including flux and metalic compound vapors. Common borax flux is not good for you but it is not usualy a problem (in small exposures). But then there are flourine compounds and heavy metal vapors from chrome, nickle, lead. . . Many of these are carcenogneic and some are cumulative, building up in bones and fat. The problem is the ONE exposure that is the straw that breaks the camel's back. . . Then there is the combined effect of many poisons which makes a medical diagnoses nearly impossible and treatment very difficult. And in most cases all that can be done is treat the symptoms and make you more comfortable.

Work safe, live long.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 02:43:30 GMT

What you can get away with: My father tells a story about an engineer that wanted to build something with a hardened ball bearing welded to a part. Good engineering and welding practice tells you that you cannot weld a hardened high carbon steel part to another piece in a load bearing joint. . . Everyone told the fellow you couldn't do it. However, he did it, it worked and the fellow learned nothing. . .

In my teens I had a little motorcycle. I rode without a helmet and occasionaly barefoot. I often rode in the woods jumping ditches and logs, many times flying 30 feet over the ground. The worst injuries I got were the numerous exhust pipe burns on my bare legs when I dumped the bike and held on. . . I also dumped it on the road a couple times but avoided any "road rash". I should have been killed many times but I got away with it, and learned nothing at the time.

As a young driver I had many car accidents. At least one was sever but I was not hurt. It did not slow me down. I had learned nothing. . . I have spun out several times in a Porche 914 and also had other cars on two wheels more than I can count. . . Yes, I am lucky to be alive with all my parts. I finaly grew out of this stupidity and now generaly drive at or below the speed limit. Front wheels drive vehicals that don't slide are a large part of my going slower around curves. . . I SO loved slipping the rear end of a vehical on a dirt or gravel road or powering through a drift. . .

Generaly in the shop I have always worked safe since I was very young. Even so, there have been some near misses. Mostly handling heavy loads. Heavy load handling is something I am good at. I'm good at judging the center of gravity, estimating weights and knowing what rigging to use. But if you do a LOT of anything dangerous eventualy something is going to happen. . . Picking up ANYTHING that requires a hoist, jack or crane is dangerous. The last time I moved one of my Little Giants I came close to getting my ankle caught between a swinging load and a beam that had flipped up on edge. . . sloppy work, working alone. . . It could have broken my ankle. Luckily it was only trapped but I had a heck of a time freeing myself.

Always remember that just because someone says they "do it all the time" doesn't mean it is right, it works or is safe. . It just means they have been lucky to get away with it. And eventualy, the odds will catch up with you.

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 03:14:50 GMT

Sorry, left out a letter. www.historiska.se should work.
   John McPherson - Tuesday, 09/03/02 04:24:41 GMT

Thanks for the link to 21st century. :) Wife thinks I still live in the 19th, so nice to make the trip.
   - Ten Hammers - Tuesday, 09/03/02 10:48:17 GMT

And thanks to you Slag for the NTBA link. Steve
   - Ten Hammers - Tuesday, 09/03/02 11:37:40 GMT

Good morning?
What follows tripoli in polishing?
   L. Sundstrom - Tuesday, 09/03/02 12:33:00 GMT

Guru, I have heard Paw-Paw say that those HF Russian cast steel anvils are not bad after some grinding. Is the face hardened? My 70# farriers anvil is just not up to the kind of work I am doing and I was considering buying one of the HF cast steel anvils. I would rather buy something in the 140-160 lb range but I have not a clue where to even look in East Texas.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/03/02 12:51:04 GMT

Tripoli: Larry, Tripoli is very fine but then Rouge is finer. . Generaly you do not use rouge on anything except soft metals, silver, gold or brass. On brass it makes very little difference from tripoli but may make the finish a little "brighter" or to "color" it. However, I use Rouge on an unsewn cotton buff (very soft) and my Tripoli on a fairly soft sewn cotton buff. Tripoli is as soft and fine as you can generaly go on hardened steel.

Besides hard and soft buff types the results of buffing vary according to the speed of the buff. A very fast buff will act "hard" compared to the same wheel running much slower. A "loaded" buff (clogged with compound) will act like a hard buff, cutting and not leaving as fine a finish as one that is not loaded. I use a worn rasp to clean off the excess loaded buffing compound (while the wheel runs).

I get better brightening on brass using a brass cleaning compound. Most contain a little bit of abrasive and soft wax. A soft rag such as old cotten diaper or t-shirt is used. When hand polishing with Dupont auto rubbing compound you get a similar result on the final polish where you are just cleaning off the worn compound with a clean rag and polishing with the almost invisible residue.

Remember the stages of polishing. If there are any marks from the previous grit you are not ready for the next. If there are any marks other than the finest sandpaper (320 grit on metal) then you are not ready to polish.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 13:46:12 GMT

Anvils: QC, Several folks at Bills were saying that the Russian anvils were pretty good but not as hard as some. They had been on sale at the store in Dallas for $80 the previous week and may still be!

Bill highly recommended the Texas Farrier Supply anvils he was using. They have a wide waist and small base. This means that more mass goes into the area directly under the face of the anvil making them much more solid under the hammer than anvils with narrow waists. I recognized this in the one a the outdoor forging station and commented on it to Bill and he said they are the "biggest" anvil for their size you will find.

The Russian anvil is a similar design but has significant mass in the feet. Still very solid for its size but not quite as efficient use of materials as the The Texas Farrier Supply anvils.

The Texas Farrier Supply anvils are made localy and are competive with the Eastern European anvils in cost. These are not your typical small waisted springy farrier's anvils. But nobody, not even a beat up used anvil is going to beat the price of the Russian except in the rare cases where you pick one up for $50. . . . which still happens.

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 14:01:18 GMT

Bruce; Are you raising or dishing? Doesn't take but one good sized pot before a smith figures out why so many were assembled from multiple sheets! (after all he could have welded the sheets into 1 piece and raised that...) I love how well an IR focuser a pot becomes too...gotta make a couple more sometime soon.

Don't forget "From Viking to Crusader" for physical culture items, as well as the big "Viking" book with the prune faced people.

The argument on wire drawing is when did they start drawing wrought iron wire. Since WI is not homogeneous it would be a pain to draw and would require a very good quality WI. Most early WI wire looks to have been sheared from plate annd then rounded under a hammer---nice thing about maille is that you don't need *long* pieces of wire to make it. It looks like the technology for drawing of WI wire actually dates to after the "age of maille" Of course if you are into "recent" times like the 1800's it was drawn mechanically in factories. IIRC "Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel" Gies&Gies mentions the switch. (a book on medieval technology and inventions that is pretty good in accuracy)

Thomas P
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/03/02 14:01:24 GMT

Another note on pre-industrial wire drawing: When working in small scale, the wire (silver, brass… whatever worked-hardened) was annealed by coiling it into small bundles to increase the mass so that it could be heated evenly. As I remember (which grows more doubtful as I pack other facts into my head) gold doesn't work harden and is famed for its ductility. Pure gold can be drawn into incredibly thin wires or hammered into transparent sheets using hand tools. No wonder it was always regarded as valuable, and even magical.

My own feeling is that gold is too valuable as a resource for both industry and art to be tied to any monetary system or driven up to unattainable heights by speculation. I take a constant delight in reading the spot-market prices and comparing them to the dire predictions of the "Gold-Bugs" (and the Silver-Bugs) of the 1970s. I'm still waiting for gold to hit $800 dollars an ounce (with inflation between 1973 and 2001 that would be about $3,257)! In theory, if you look at inflation between 1933 and today, the gold that was pegged by the government at $35 an ounce should be worth $437.18 in 2001 dollars. It remained at $35 an ounce until 1971, which would be about $150 in today's dollars, so there was money to be made, but not the astronomical (and ruinous) jumps that were predicted.

Then again, best case scenarios do not get the headlines in either economics or in newspapers.

The ever-useful inflation calculator can be found at: http://www.westegg.com/inflation/ .

Back to the work of the Republic.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 09/03/02 14:29:50 GMT

Thank-you for your prompt response. Its possible that I have gone over the edge. I am triing to polish a peice to very high gloss. I have sanded through the grades to 2000 wet dry. Maybe I'm confused about tripoli. I have two sticks of buffing compound. One is orangish and the other is dark red. I thought the orangish stick was tripoli but it may be something else. Anyway, the orangish stick leaves a very very fine brushed effect. I am pretty sure that it is not the last grade of paper I used because it is finer than that. A friend said there is a blue stick and I have seen a white one. I need to pick up some dupont polishing compound. then again, it may be the wheel. I have an 8 inch wheel on a standard grinder that I only use with rouge. The smaller, harder wheel gets what I think is the tripoli.
   L. Sundstrom - Tuesday, 09/03/02 15:01:56 GMT

Ah. . . but gold DID hit $800/oz for a brief time when the Hunt bros. were trying to corner the silver market in the mid seventies. . . All of a sudden people were finding their silverware disappearing and other metal prices like copper sky rocketed. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 15:13:41 GMT

Buffing Compounds: Larry, It may be the wheel speeds. But I just checked mine and I'm running a worn 8" x 1" wide wheel (7.5" double) at ~3600 RPM resulting in 7000 to 7500 FPM, and a 3 and 4" wheel at 5400 RPM resulting in 4200 to 5600 FPM. Each wheel is slightly different and are used with different compounds. You cannot have enough different wheels. . . When I set these up I was using the information on buffing in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and the available motors and pullies on hand. . . I was buffing mostly brass.

Tripoli is an orange/brown color. Rouge is dark red. White compound is for stainless and I never heard of blue. . . Emery is usualy black and is commonly used on steel.

If you are getting marks from tripoli then the wheel is turning too fast OR may be contaminated with grinding grit. . . OR the stick of compound may have become contaminated. You didn't leave it anywhere grinding grit could get to it did you?

You may have also "loaded" the wheel. If you have a hard surface of buffing compound then the wheel will cut fairly fast, but as it becomes contaminated with metal it will leave scratches. If you use a heavy layer of buffing compound you must clean it off often to get a fine finish. Fresh "wet" compound does fine but contaminates (loads) quickly. A light "dry" application of compound gives the best performance. Eventualy you get a compound build up and must clean the wheel.

The buffing compounds I found in my box are Dico brands with the following numbers and labels.

E5 Emery, for steel and hard metals, NOT plating.

TC6 Tripoli, not for gold or silver

CR1 Rouge, for gold and silver

SCR-J White, for stainless steel.

Dupont Orange rubbing compound is what I have used for 40 years and is still available.

Emery comes in a wide variety of grades and the E5 above was what my local supplier had in stock 20 years ago. . .

Buffing wheels come in hard sewn rope (hemp or sisal), spiral sewn cotton, loose or unsewn cotton. The most common is the spiral sewn cotton. I buy 6 and 8" diameter wheels and double them up when I need a wider face. The small wheels are either worn out wheels OR cut out of a larger wheel.

The grit numbers I use are for 3M products using ANSI numbers and 600 is very fine. 180 is good for removing fine grinding and coarse paper (80 grit) scratches. 320 is about the finest needed to use on metal before buffing. The 1000 - 2500 grades are for taking the finest dust nibs off acrylic paints and are useless on metal unless you want to make a flat grey surface.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 16:28:24 GMT

I'm starting out in forging.... i'm looking for a good steel for tools and or weapons...... i was told 1095 carbon steel but i'm having a hard time finding it.. can you give me any advice?
   HammerFall - Tuesday, 09/03/02 17:42:48 GMT

I'm looking for a good steel for tools and weapons.... i was told to use 1095 but i'm having a hard time finding it.... can you give me some advice?
   HammerFall - Tuesday, 09/03/02 17:45:21 GMT

I had a drawing die, my one and only, that wasn’t ‘drawing’ properly.

After much experimenting with various spring(s), pressures etc an old timer told me I should polish all the surfaces (tool steel) that the metal ‘slid’ against. And that I should do it such that my ‘strokes’ went in the same direction as the metal was to flow (lead coated CR1010). It worked like a charm when I did this.

The compounds I used were from Norton. Their oil soluble diamond polishing compound.

First step was Green, 12 micron
Second step was Yellow, 4 micron.

Quite frankly I probably could’ve stopped there, as it was mirror like finish, but this thing had been such a pain and the customer was in such a hurry (it takes up a lot of time disassembling and reassembling the die, more than performing another level of polishing as insurance)

The final step was White, 1 micron. This resulted in bright mirror finish. A speck of dust stood out, nose hairs were distinct in the reflection.

Pop sickle sticks and leather tongues from work boots combined with elbow grease was the method of application. (everything was a radius, some compound, with one exception)

Hope this helps.

BTW you guys could ruin a guy. Checked my old anvil on Labor Day, that I bought when I was 15, in 1975, and it is one of these Hay budden y'all talk about. guy told me it weighed 75 pounds when I bought it, I used to lift it in and out of the back of volkswagon several times a day......now-a-days I don't want to lift the thing, it looks real good sitting there.

Next I gotta dig out my forges and then....... divorce over another subscription/membership....
   - sometimelurker - Tuesday, 09/03/02 18:26:52 GMT

He lied about the weight of the anvil
   - sometimelurker - Tuesday, 09/03/02 18:28:40 GMT

Drawing Iron Wire: I have no good sources on this but I expect that specialty mills used rolling instead of drawing from about the same time as rolling and slitting mills were available. Short lengths (10 - 20 feet) of large diameter wire could be rolled much easier than producing by hand. It would not be as smooth and fine dimensioned as drawn but it would be much better (and cheaper) than hand made.

Tooling in small shops, especialy specialty shops is the least well doumented historicaly. In Italian Masters of Wrought Iron there is a photo of a very old blacksmith shop with a water powered tilt hammer. These old hammers date way back probably to the Roman Empire but we only know of them from much later references such as Diderot and DeRe Metalica, and then only in large scale manufacturing. The Romans were known to have great series of water powered grist mills and it is fair to assume that the power was applied to other purposes than grinding grain. The fact that a small shop may have had such a devices should put our thinking about small shops in an entirely different light.

In my recent research into early locks I knew from the designs of the locks that a lathe must have been a common tool used in the making of locks and keys. For a fat key bit to correctly fit a curved ward the slot in the key must also be curved. But all the extant engravings of early shops are without a lathe. Finally, in one book there is a photo and a drawing of a (only ONE) special tool used in an old spring pole lathe to cut those curved slots in a brass oe iron key. The tool is similar in design to those used as work holding spindles used on the earliest wood lathes.
Logic and the products of lathes told me that they must have been used and indeed they were.

A study of Ancient Greek artifacts can lead to the same conclusion but we have no evidence of the tool itself. Yet it had to exist. Today in a few primitive places lathes consisting of two centers set in stationary posts or even small tree trunks are used. Long parts fit directly between centers and short parts like bowls are driven by a short shaft with dogs on the end. The part is rotated using a bow with the string twisted in a loop around the shaft or part. This same bow system is still used in some miniture lathes used by jewlers and clock makers. The most primitive lathes indicate that all that was needed was the invention of the bow (ancient) and availability metal for centers (brass, bronze, iron). As a small primitive tool used by craftsworkers such as jewlers and beadmakers, makers of pullies and pins for ship rigging, very little note would have been taken. It was mearly another common hand tool. It is no wonder then that as late as the 1770's that the lathe is overlooked by Diderot in many shops that obviously had them.

Hugh McDonald recently amazed the blacksmithing world with his little rolling mill. Who could of guesed you could roll steel with 1HP or less and mild steel rollers. . . It should change the way we look early metal working in small shops that had water power, like the Italian shop with the tilt hammer. . . could he also "roll his own"? ;)
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 19:36:22 GMT

I don't know about the small Italian shop, but the Viet Cong could "roll their own".

Some of the larger underground facilities had primitive machine shops, including both spring pole and bow driven lathes.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 09/03/02 21:27:36 GMT

Guru, I am looking at buying a 50# Meyers hammer and was wondering what kind of pad you would put under it. I'm thinking of putting it outside my shop and building something around it to keep the weather off of it, so I have dirt now and could put whatever I wanted under it.
   Matt Matlock - Tuesday, 09/03/02 21:32:35 GMT

why is a blacksmith called a blacksmith
   sammy - Tuesday, 09/03/02 22:47:59 GMT

Sammy, Iron is called the "black metal". Blacksmiths work with iron. Blacksmiths hit the iron while it is hot with a hammer. Another word for hit is to "smite" and it is thought that the word smith is derived from smite. So a blacksmith is one who strikes the black metal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 23:16:09 GMT

Sammy, I've often wondered the same. I think it may be because the iron and steel turn a charcoal gray or darker color on the surface after being heated to a good red heat and above. It's an iron oxide which we call "scale".
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/03/02 23:19:21 GMT

50# hammer Foundation Matt, the factory recommended foundation for a 50# LG is a concrete block about 2 feet by 3 feet by 2 to 2-1/2 feet deep. Archor bolts are set about 1/2 the depth. The actual foundation depth should be judged by the soil conditions. Some type of padding should go between the hammer and the concrete. Plywood, conveyor belting or similar.

IF you go with a heavy foundation it pays to put one in for a much larger hammer just in case you upgrade. .

Many folks just put a plywood pad under them and bolt them to existing concrete floors. This works but vibration transmission can be bad. Since LG's are designed for short folks, many get set on large wood blocks that absorb a little more shock and provide a better wheel base.

What ever you do they must be bolted down as they rock back and forth and will walk off a small foundation. Power hammers will also drive themselves into the ground and can tip over if they do not have a load distribution pad.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/03/02 23:45:53 GMT

Matt, I`m looking at a original factory foundation plan for a 50lb Little Giant. The pad is 33" wide, 49" deep and 26" thick. Anchor bolts, 5/8ths x 23" put a steel plate (6"x6" I`m guessing cause it doesn`t say) at the bottom of each anchor bolt to make sure it never gets pulled from the block after curing. It shows 4 rebar per two anchor bolts spaced quarterly thru the block. A 1 1/4" pipe 6" long is placed over the anchor bolt flush with the top of the pad, this must allow some movement of the anchor from the shock of the hammer running. A 1/4 to 3/8" cork or rubber shim is to be placed between the hammer and the concrete. I think its self-explanatory that the hammer will be centered both ways on the concrete pad.

I took four 1/2" pieces of plywood about 30 x 40" bolted them to my 25lb Little Giant and have it sitting on a dirt floor. It sits still and works fine. As Guru said soil conditions can vary, know where your putting it.
   - Robert ironworker - Wednesday, 09/04/02 00:35:52 GMT

QC:I would try www.oldworldanvils.com for a new anvil. Dan there has some really nice anvils at decent prices. I have the little 44lbs Austrian one, and I have been very impressed. Its pretty hard, with an awesome ring.

Larry:MSC sells a product called SIMICHROME. This stuff is great for polishing. Nothing will ever be able to take the place of good fine diamond polishing slurrys(SP?) but once you get the metal to a fairly polished state, like 1200 grit wet/dry or so, it will bring the shine right out. You have to be careful though, because it will also showcase your scratches and imperfections.
Thank you all for the wire drawing info, I knew I'd find the answer here, but I didn't realize how MUCH answer I would find. This stuff is great, keep it coming, and humble though my experience may be, I'll keep trying to help out once in a while too.
   Bond-JamesBond - Wednesday, 09/04/02 02:11:40 GMT

I once came across a site at which two fellows(brothers I think) had information(books or pamphlets) on the construction of a backyard furnace to melt iron or bronze as well as the casting of these metals. They had pamphlets on blacksmithing as well. In additon they had various other publications for construction of machines or processes that range from useful or common to eccentric or strange. And not all of these were just metalworking. Has anyone come across such a site or know what I'm talking about? My question may seem weird but these fellows covered everything from doggone practical to odd. It seems most of the material was their own but some of it they tried out from others. I seem to recall that they even intimated that they were eccentric on their site. I would surely like to locate the site again. If anyone has any ideas please let me hear from you - Thanks, John
   John - Wednesday, 09/04/02 03:16:00 GMT

I'm a begining Blacksmith. I have followed all of the suggestions in the "getting started" page but I've had a lot of trouble finding an anvil. After asking everyone I knew, I came up with nothing. I even considered Ebay but I don't like the idea of buying something I cannot see. Does anyone know of other places I could find leads? I can't afford to buy a new one.

I read the page on building anvils and Ernie Leimkuhler's plans for building one. I'm an experienced welder/fabricator. I think I could pull it off. I would like the idea IF I knew I could possibly acheive good results. If A-36 were used and it was hardfaced would the anvil produce a good ring and rebound? Would the body need to be made from one solid plate of steel or could I use two welded side by side? Has anyone tried making one?
   Nathan - Wednesday, 09/04/02 03:59:35 GMT

John, I don't know of a site like that, but it reminds me of Lindsay Books. Try www.lindsaybks.com. It may lead you in the right direction.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/04/02 04:14:43 GMT

Fine Polishing Compound:
Some of the ultrafine polishing compounds use green Chromium oxide. This green rouge has Chromium oxide particles of one half micron size.
A micron is one millianth of a meter.
This polish is used for power rotary polishers. It should be be used last, after using all the other polishes. Green rouge polish should be used as the last polish as it is finer than all the rest.
The rouge is applied to a felt polishing wheel. It will leave a mirror polish.
One manufacturer of this stuff is a product called "green rouge" made by C. U. & Co., Ltd.
Lee Valley Tools sells the guck as "blade honing compound" as 6 1/2 oz. bars for about $7.00. (probably a lifetime's supply).
All the best to all the Anvilfire Gang.
   slag - Wednesday, 09/04/02 05:20:18 GMT

John, The fellows you're thinking of were a father/son team. I believe the father, Dave Gingery may have passed away, but I'm not sure. Eccentric, yes. And proud of it, too. All of Gingery's books are available from Lindsay Books and most are frequently advertised for sale on eBay's blacksmithing tools section. Their plans for building machine tools might best be taken with a grain or two of salt. While you can build a lathe from their plans, the accuracy of the thing will be limited by the nature of the manufacturing process. DIY castings and hand filing, unless performed by master craftsmen, just aren't able to equal the consistency of modern manufacturing processes. Gingery's plans for charcoal-fired melting furnaces will work, though not quite as conveniently as one fired by propane. His sand casting information is accurate as far as it goes, but it is limited. Look in the archives for earlier posts on casting where several good books were listed. Also check out the iForge page for demonstrations on mold and model making.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/04/02 06:13:00 GMT

Hi Larry;
When doing finger cymbals, I ship them out with a polish adaquate to see one's eye-lashes in the reflection.
I've seen different colors of tripoli bars with varying amounts of aggressiveness. Rouge will cut steel, but slowly and is the next finer grade of compound.
I use 2 wheels together and apply fresh tripoli only to one side of the pair. The worn compound that smears to the other wheel cuts less aggressively than the fresh stuff and makes for an intermediate stage that should take you most of the way to mirror.
A similar routine with rouge on a seperate soft wheel should go the rest of the way.
As the good Guru points out, it is easy to contaminate either the compound or the wheel and maddening to get rid of.
Strip the wheels clean regularly.
Slag's ref to green chromium oxide sounds like the right stuff.He has come through for us a bunch of times..thanks Slag!
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 09/04/02 06:47:44 GMT

Guru; are you looking at the complete Diderot's or just the excerpt? ISTR lathes in several places in D's E of several types. Also we have good evidence of hammer mills several centuries before Y1K----close to a milenia before George Farmer's book. Unfortunately this type of stuff doesn't show up in the popular press as the remains are fairly scarce and un-photogenic.

It's interesting to look carefully at some of the old smith shop photo's and note the use of steam and internal combustion engines to power equipment near the turn of the century. Water power was *very* well used in earlier times; most "old" industrial towns on the east coast of the US were founded at the "fall line" to make use of the water power.

We have a sense of blindness as to how well equipped our ancestors really were---perhaps it's the "frontier mentality" we associate with America---but consider that Sagus was rolling iron at the forefront of that technology---only a few examples were known in Europe; but we had a working system over in the colonies!

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 09/04/02 14:38:26 GMT

Refinishing an anvil
Guru, I know that one should not weld up an anvil, but I bought a small 125# Trenton for my son. The price was right. but the face is in real poor condition. The top plate about 3/8" thick and doesn't have an unchiseled spot that you could lay a dime on, the edges are all chiped at a 45º angle. There are some other anvils in our group that aren't much better. I bought this with resurfacing in mind(test anvil). So if one is to resurface, are you familiar with the Robb Gunter method, and if so is that the way to go? Thanks Daryl
   Daryl - Wednesday, 09/04/02 15:14:06 GMT

Finding and Making Anvils Nathan, Forget ebay, the prices there are generaly collector's prices and rarely good deals.

Have you told EVERYONE you know and every relative that you are looking for anvils and blacksmithing tools? Have you tried running a 'wanted to buy' ad in your local paper? You would be surprised how many forges and anvils are stuffed in a basement, barn or shed waiting for a home. . .

Building anvils is not particularly cheap. Hard facing rod is expensive but people overlook the impact on their electric bill which can be significant. Making anvils also requires a LOT of grinding and Ernie emphasizes this but people do not listen. Your welding may be good but how about your torch work? Many folks that can cut cut a fair line in normal plate go to pieces on heavy plate 2" and greater. Lots more grinding to do. . . .

An anvil's ring is related to its lack of cracks, gaps and unwelded joints as well as overall shape. Unless a fabricated anvil is through welded they generaly do not ring. The classic narrow waisted American or London patttern anvil rings louder than blocky Colonial anvils. Cast steel anvils ring louder and at a higher frequency than steel faced wrought bodied anvils. Steel faced cast iron anvils ring very little and cast iron ASO's do not ring at all.

Ring testing anvils generaly tells you if an anvil has a problem that will effect rebound and the life of an anvil. But it depends on anvil type. Old steel faced anvils ring nicely but will make a clacking sound it the face weld is seperated or has gaps. Steel faces over cast iron do not ring much but they do make that clacking sound if the face weld is defective.

Rebound is proportional to hardness as well as the support by a solid base. Anvils need both. When rebound is measured the size of the anvil must be considered. The larger the anvil, the higher the ratio between the anvil and the striking object or steel ball. In a ratio of infinity to one the rebound would be very near 100% if both parts were hardened steel. But we are not dealing with infinite masses. However we ARE dealing with an anvil mass that can vary as much as 4 to 1 and thus effect the outcome of a measured rebound test.

My advise to newbies that cannot find an anvil after months of looking is to buy one of the 110# Russian anvils sold by Harbor Freight. In inflated dollars these NEW steel anvils are selling for less per pound than my first anvil that I paid $32 for in 1970. BEWARE! HF also sells Chinese ASO's!

This may also be cheaper than the impact on your electric bill. . .

A-36 is as good as anything for an anvil body. Old anvil bodies were dead soft wrought iron. The thickness and quality of the hardfacing is important. However, you can also get by with working on a soft anvil as long as you keep your steel hot and do not forge a great deal of tool steel.

Anvil Shaped Object. Generally referring to cast iron anvils, also referred to as "doorstops" or "boat anchors". An object not worthy of the name "anvil" or the waste of good cast iron.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/04/02 15:18:40 GMT

Green Rouge:: /// Continued.
One of the manufacturers of this polishing compound recommends it for use on items made of "nickel, chrome, and stainless steel.".
They also suggest using gloves and a good mask (I suggest a respirator instead), as the compound could cause lung and skin irritation.
Strangely, the compound is an aggressive polisher of metal.
I have seen experienced woodcarvers, take a dull gouge and grind it on an open bond white wheel. (which is essentially made up of fine silicon dioxide particles and not extra-fine) The open bond causes quick stone-wheel wear but runs cooler and is less likely to over heat and draw the tool's temper. After grinding they would then proceed directly to machine buffing with green rouge. The results were an edge that was extraordinarily sharp and shone like a mirror.
In other word, they dispensed with buffing the tool with tripoli, red rouge, rotten stone, etc. etc.
Please use a respirator when using silicon dioxide
(= silica), wheels. The dust is a serious health hazard). Also set up a dust extraction system to vent to a collection system or to the outside. (hopefully your neighbours are not close by and down wind.). The air extractor will remove the fine dust and stop it from flying through out the household. Silicosis can cut a person's lifespan by 20 to 30 years.
   slag - Wednesday, 09/04/02 17:06:29 GMT

Diderots Thomas, I've got the large two volume hard cover set published by Dover books. I know its not complete but I believe is the closest published. I may be wrong.

Yes, Diderot shows many lathes but they are noticably missing from many places where they should be found. The primary tool in the "tool makers" shop is a lathe and there is even a fancy tracery lathe in the silversmith's shop series. These were also popular for ivory carving in France at the time.

My point was that I think the lathe was more common than it appears in Diderot and the fact that it was so common may have been the reason it was often overlooked.

Primitive lathes, even those used to do metal work, rarely left any recognizable remains as did many other tools.
Recycling of metal has been hard on fine art but I suspect has been much harder on tools. For as long as we know smiths have been reusing worn out or broken tools. I recently saw a collection of 19th and 20th century tools all made from recycled files and rasps forge welded into bigger pices and then made into tools. . Image how much more common this recycling was when steel was nearly as valuable as gold. . .

   - guru - Wednesday, 09/04/02 17:48:26 GMT

Refinishing Anvils: Daryl, The important thing when welding the entire face of an anvil is the preheat. Many folks are now recommending E10018 and E10024 rod rather than hardfacing rod. Hardfacing rod is actualy too hard and is very brittle.

You have two choices. 1) Grind the face to finish. You may be surprised at how shallow the deep appareing chisel marks are. This results in a slightly thinner face. 2) Weld up and refinish. This takes as much or more grinding as #1 and you risk seperation of the old plate to body weld from heat stress. There is also the problem of the welding heat softening the underlying steel face resulting in hard and soft layers and spots.

Both methods have pros and cons. I prefer grinding to refinish if possible. It is more economical and less risky. Repairing corners to make sharper than needed is not a good reason to weld on an anvil.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/04/02 18:31:43 GMT

Hi, a frend is looking for a hydroulic press for making demascus. Is there any junk yard presses like the junk yard hammers? Could you turn me in the right direction for places to look. Thank you. J.W.Galish
   J.W. Galish - Wednesday, 09/04/02 18:36:17 GMT

FLUX FEED DEVICE: Many years ago on the "crafts circuit" I saw a fellow using a system that fed flux to a standard oxy-acetylene torch. It was used for brazing and braze weldin, the actylene bubbling through some type of liquid before being fed to the torch. The flux appeared to be some type of borax but it left a light dusting of white powder that could be easily wiped off.

I'm looking at a job where this would be a great time/cost saver. Anyone know who makes it? I don't even know what its called. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/04/02 19:00:03 GMT

JYH Hydraulics: JW, most of these devices are shop built from whatever the builder can find. There is a booklet available on the design of small hydraulic forging presses. Look for it on the Don Fogg web site.

Hydraulic forging presses take a lot of horsepower and there is no way around it. Dual flow pumps help but are hard to find.

The new revolution in making laminated steel is the McDonald rolling mill. See the plans review on our book review page.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/04/02 19:13:57 GMT

Found it! WELCO Speed Flux Dispenser: Equipment for applying flux automatically through the fuel gas flame, to the metal, during the brazing operation. The WELCO Speed Flux Dispenser increases production, saves gas and oxygen. It is an ideal tool for all surface brazing applications such as automotive body shapes, tubular steel brazing, repairing bronze castings, sculpture work, jewelry production and many more brazing operations.

Torch application one of the high-temperature fluxes FB3K. This flux is a flammable Liquid containing trimethyl borate. A dispenser installed in the fuel-gas line feeds flux vapor into the flame.

Society of American Silversmiths
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/04/02 19:29:06 GMT

There's also www.gasflux.com. I sometimes read a bicycle frame builders' mail list and this seems to be the brand they use.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 09/04/02 23:48:32 GMT

Does anyone know where to get those brass or steel oilers about as round as a dime or nickle with a lid that were used on old forge blowers. Reproductions will be fine.
   - Robert ironworker - Thursday, 09/05/02 00:58:31 GMT

Mike, thanks, I will check it out.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/05/02 03:38:22 GMT

Guru: Thanks for your thoughts on Refinishing Anvils, and I would have to agree. Unfortunately this anvil's face and edges are in such poor condition that welding will mostlikely need to be done.
   - Daryl - Thursday, 09/05/02 03:42:46 GMT

Check out www.dansworkshop.com lots of neat stuff.
   kdbarker - Thursday, 09/05/02 05:49:28 GMT

Another possible option on a marred anvil that has a less than glass hard face. A good hard rounding hammer with a whippy handle will allow you to work out fairly deep marks. Work in towards the low spot and sort of herd the high spots towards the lower ones. The rebound makes this less work than it might seem on the " face" of it and it is a good way to develop more hammer control.
I'd grind those broken down corners into whatever radius they'll take and use a table stake if you need a crisp edge.
Wear protective gear doing this!
On the other hand, Rob Gunther sure is good!...but that is a lot of work.
   Pete F - Thursday, 09/05/02 07:44:31 GMT


Last night I attempted to harden a hot chisel made from a piece of automotive coil spring. Today I looked up the hardening temperature range (isn't that the way you're supposed to do things?) and found I really over heated the part. What kind of deterimental effect is this going to have on the chisel? Will it be softer than it would have been it I had used the correct temperture?
   Stephen G - Thursday, 09/05/02 12:12:36 GMT

Stephen G., If you scroll backwards to Sept. 1, at 1800 hours and 2200 hours, we talked about heat treating 5160, which is a common spring steel. Schwarzkopf says if you make a mistake, you anneal, harden, and temper all over again.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/05/02 13:17:30 GMT

Anyone see "Antiques Roadshow---New York" where their expert explained that the 56# "hammer" used in traditional Scots games was the size used by medieval blacksmiths when the games were started! (perhaps they meant the size of the *anvils*...)

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 09/05/02 13:49:52 GMT

Thomas, war hammer for a ginat maybe. . . I'll be the "expert" was one of those folks that has never ever used anything larger than a tack hammer!

Quenching too hot: When I've done this (ahem. . many years ago) I also quenched in cold water instead of oil. . . you could see the cracks without much cleaning. If you have cracked the steel then as the Germans say, das kaput.

But if the temperature is just too hot (not forging range) and the quenchant not too cold then as Frank indicated a "do-over" might work. It doesn't cost much to try. But I would abuse test the finished tool afterward. Also a darm good reason to wear safety glasses!
   - guru - Thursday, 09/05/02 14:53:05 GMT

That must have been for chasing and engraving, or other detail work, as I'm sure that they wouldn't use something that puny for real forging.
   crosspein - Thursday, 09/05/02 15:01:36 GMT

Jock, Slag and Pete et all.
I bought the blue stick yesterday. It's called
Blaue Nachscheilfpaste. Oh, in english it's
Blue Mirror Finishing Paste put out by Walker (or is that Walter). I followed this with Mother's Metal Polish and yes, it got bright and shiney. But, as I peered deeply into the surface, beyond the vail of my eyelashes, a grey pallor arose which soiled my joy, perhaps some impurity in the steel itself absorbed from the fellons these bars once restrained.

Mr. Quenchcrack,
so one of the perks of your job is that you can trot down to the lab with a peice of steel and they will analyse it for you. Could you do this for a friend, ol' buddy? Or do you know where I could send a sample and what it costs for the analysis. I would imagine the cost would be prohibitive.
   L.Sundstrom - Thursday, 09/05/02 15:46:57 GMT

L. Sundstrom, yes, I have occasionally gotten an analysis on a piece of mystery metal at our lab. However, it is company equipment and I am, regretably, not able to offer lab services to the general public. However, the yellow pages in your area will list Testing Labs that could provide you with an analysis. I would expect to get a printout of 10-20 common elements for about $25-$30.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 09/05/02 17:34:28 GMT

Robert ironworker,
Try one of the web sites that sells repro. parts for model T's. Model T's use lots of these and make new ones. They are very cheap as well, just stamped steel.

   Paul-P - Thursday, 09/05/02 17:41:16 GMT

Guru, If I may expand a bit on Frank Turley's and your response regarding heat treating of 5160, I would suggest that the tool be normalized rather than annealed. Maybe I am just splitting hairs here but annealing is heating to around 1600F and cooling VERY slowly. This softens the steel by allowing the carbon to form big iron (and in 5160, chromium) carbides. Normalizing involves the same temperatures but the piece is air cooled much more quickly. Normalizing does not allow much time for the carbon to form big carbides. Since it is the carbon that does the hardening, if it is tied up as a carbide, it won't do much to harden the steel. To harden annealed steel to it's maximum hardness, you need to soak the steel, at the hardening temperature, at least as long as you annealed it to break up the carbides. Normalizing will refine the coarse grain size, created when it was overheated, but not create big carbides. This means you don't have to soak the steel very long to get the carbon back into solution in preparation for quenching. Since forging for long periods of time at high temperatures will also allow big carbides to form, I usually normalize (with a bit of extra soak time) anything I plan to harden. It also improves the toughness.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 09/05/02 17:44:41 GMT

Mr. Sundstrom /// Green versus Blue.
Chromium oxide is a unmistakably green, not blue.
Also I suggest that a separate buffing rag wheel or felt wheel be reserved for each separate type of polish that is used. The piece, to be polished, should be put through a series of polishes with the grit size getting smaller with each change of polishing compound (and its dedicated wheel). Use a rag to clean the piece thoroughly before switching from one polishing compound to the next smaller diameter-size one. This stops the grit of the previous compound migrating to the next, finer polish that is used, (and its wheel). This precaution prevents rougher grit from embedding itself in the succeeding finer grit-charged wheels. (which would cause scratching).
Such contamination can make an aggravating mess out of a polishing session. The coarser grit can then scratch all subsequent polishing (finshing) jobs.
Incidentally, it is a real pain to clean all the polish off of a rag or flap wheel), and it's even harder cleaning a felt wheel.
The use of a vacuum take off for the flying polishing compound is advisable (such as a Shopvac etc). Flying polih bits can get into everything.
Please wear protection so you don't inhale the abrasive guck.
Regularly cleaning of the polishing area. (or surface), will also help keep down the incidence of grit migration and contamination from one wheel to the next.
While I am on this subject, (the last submission for a good while), let me pass on a few more polishing tips.
Polishing felts are very useful as they can be shaped (by using a lathe-like procedure), to make shape profiles. An example is a cove depression for the outside of small, steep-radiused gouges and also their reciprocal outside arcs, to polish the inside and outside of the gouges. etc. etc. The profile can be cut into the hard felt while the wheel is spinning horizontal-fashion. Great care should be taken as the cutting tool could becought by the wheel and go flying. (use a full face shield and leather apron.) The cutting tool should be cutting at a point lower than the mid point of the wheel, to stop the tool from flying up should cutting tool grip and control is lost. If the procedure sounds like too much, then skip it.
Hard felt wheels can be bought at jewelery supply sellers and some wood working tool sellers. (I'm certain that metal working tool dealers also carry them.)
But hard felt wheels are expensive.
An alternative, to a felt wheel, is a laminated cardboard wheel. These wheels are supposed to be excellent. I know that Woodcraft sells them as single tools and as sets. (they call them "razor edge". see www.woodcraft.com)
Incidentally, Woodcraft also sells chrome oxide green rouge too. (as does Lee Valley Tools, at www.leevalleytools.com.).
The the paper wheels can also be made up by using multiple layers (i.e. laminations)of cardboard glued together face to face. carpenters white glue will do the job. I think I saw details, for this, on this site. If not, a woodcarver's website should have plans and instructions.
One last tip. Charging a new felt wheel with polishing compound can be a real exercise in frustration. If the polish is not readily sticking to the felt, lightly singe (not barbeque), the wheel's circumferential edge and then apply the the compound.
Yet another tip.Woodworkers often charge up a strop with green rouge and rub a tool's cutting edge, along it and then swipe the tool clean, after every few cuts. This routine lengthens the time between required tool sharpenings.
   slag - Thursday, 09/05/02 17:50:11 GMT

I have found a Little Giant 100#.Where can I get a tec manual for it.I think that in the clutch there is -were 2 1\2" rods,one of which I think is missing.My intent is to restore it to original condition.Any info would be appreciated,thanks,Don.
   Don Wisener - Thursday, 09/05/02 18:34:38 GMT


Sorry, There is no such thing. There is a book on Little Giants with lots of sales literature but it is mostly historical data and some dubious repair advice. However, it does have parts diagrams but they are not sectional or assembly drawings. There are no dimensions suitable to make parts in the book.

Little Giants came in several styles. In the 100 pound hammer there was an old and new style. The old style had a wrap around ram guide made of 3/8" steel plate. The new style had dovetail guides. There were also center clutch types for line shaft drives and back clutch types for an electric motor. The two clutches are very different. The center clutch is a cone clutch. Some ran cast iron on cast iron and others cloth belting on cast iron. The back type clutches ran maple wood on cast iron. Both clutches have bearing wear problems and the clutch surfaces need to be kept well oiled.

I can't think of where rods would be missing in the clutch. . .

We have a couple photos of LG's on the Power hammer Page but they don't amount to much. I really need to edit my collection of LG photos and post them. . . A couple photos are of the 100 pound LG I used to own.

There is also a specs chart for Little Giants on our Power hammer Page.

One of the best sources of information on operating, tuning and diagnosing problems on Little Giants is the Dave Manzer Little Giant video tape that we sell. See our book review page.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/05/02 19:08:18 GMT

More on Little Giants See also our Manufacturers List on the Power hammer Page. Sid Sudemier owns what is left of Little Giant, sells parts and rebuilds hammers.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/05/02 19:11:49 GMT

Auction: There are a number of items on the Auction page. A very nice hand made hammer by Bill Epps (I've fixed the photo so you can see it), Damascus Videos and a book. More coming soon!

If you registered for the auction and didn't recieve or respond to the registration mail then you are NOT an active bidder. . . Mail me from your registered e-mail address and include your username. I'll activate your account.

Some folks miss the "respond to" step OR if there was a typo in your email address then would not have recieved the registration mail. It can be fixed.
   - guru - Friday, 09/06/02 00:58:45 GMT

Hi guys, thanks for the information and quick response. JW
   J.W. Galish - Friday, 09/06/02 03:12:19 GMT

Does a 25#LG really need a 29X41X22 chunk of concrete? Rail road ties? Would I be laughed at trying to heat the anvil with a weed burner to help remove the die?

I found a 165# anvil buried in a place that mostly sells Chinese junk. It has a nice ring but there is a small spot on the horn that looks like a piece flaked off, maybe 1/16th deep and size of a pencil er1aser. Maybe I could weld up / grind down, or grind down, or work around it (my first inclination). I can buy this for less than $150.

The top die in my LG has had a new piece welded on the face and the bottom die has a lot of wear. Being a person of no real experience, I would behove me to replace both dies? while a very experienced person could probably work around the wear?

Thank you (the 60's and 70's combined to sabotage the last post... I was once a helper in a shop in Michigan but it was mostly helping drink beer and things of that sort.

   Pick - Friday, 09/06/02 03:45:04 GMT

Heating a massive piece of cast iron like that is something you would like to avoid for fear of cracking it generally. Don't know about LGs but some hammer castings were pretty brittle.
   Pete F - Friday, 09/06/02 07:00:09 GMT


One of the most common failures on 25 pound Little Giants is a broken anvil dovetail. It can be fixed but is VERY expensive. So DON'T BREAK IT! Take time and soak it with lots of Liquid Wrench or B'laster. It helps to PULL on the wedges rather than beat on the small end swelling the wedge and making it impossible to remove. Often you need to have a grip welded to the wedge to pull it out or use a slide hammer. If the die is trash then torching it out with a cutting torch is the best route to go. If the die is good then someone that is good a piercing with a torch can reduce the wedge to slag without hurting the anvil or die.

One of many answers about LG foundations is posted above on the 3rd (see 50# hammer Foundation).

Repairing the anvil depends on the type. Fisher-Norris Eagle anvils are made of cast iron with a steel face and horn reinforcement cast into them. This is considered an "impossible" weld and was only done "in the mold". Weld repairs on these can be disasterous.

Most other anvils have a soft horn that can be weld repaired and then dressed with a grinder without a problem. Welding on the hardened face is a totaly different matter.

If the anvil is a Chinese casting with flakes common off don't buy it. Harbor Frieght currently has a hardened steel 110# Russian anvil for $100 delivered. . . Its not pretty but it is a good deal for the money. Beware of the Chinese ASO's that they carry. . .

   - guru - Friday, 09/06/02 08:10:10 GMT


I took your advice and did a close inspection of my over quenched chisel. There are cracks from end to end all the way through the piece. I'm not sure what's still holding it together.

I guess I got a cheep lesson on how to handle spring/tool steel and another piece in my oops pile. Thanks for the good advice.
   Stephen G - Friday, 09/06/02 11:22:36 GMT

Guru, bought a 110# Ruskie anvil yesterday. It was still on sale at HF for $79. Going to work on the horn and face (grinding and polishing) this weekend and get it mounted. For what it is worth, I will post my official review ASAP. Right now, all I can say is that it is heavy, black, and ugly.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 09/06/02 12:45:18 GMT

For what it's worth, my 30# Kerrihard is mounted on a piece of bridge plank. It don't wiggle or walk. In a small shop, the plank can be moved fore and aft, or side to side to get the best positioning. This also raises the hammer roughly 3" off the floor which is nice for me. A small block of wood sets in front of the hammer, to place my heel on, allowing toe control for the hammer, and that is nice too.
   - Ten Hammers - Friday, 09/06/02 13:30:24 GMT

QC, A product report with before and after photos would be nice (hint ;) ). Its easy to forget the before. .

Kerrihard. . Ten, the mechanism in the Kerrihard is different than the Little Giant. The imbalance loads are fore and aft (the long way on the frame), and they are also much lower on the center of gravity. Little Giant's imbalance is high on the hammer and right to left on the narrow base. Some Little Giant's are balanced better than others but it could also be a matter of where the work height is adjusted to.
   - guru - Friday, 09/06/02 14:38:21 GMT

I am trying to restore my grandfather's old 1892 winchester 30-30. Now, some parts are very rusted and I will have to sand them to get the rust out, which leaves them a silver color. I am a total beginner when it comes to old iron, so my question is this. How do I put the temper (black) back on afterwards. Is there some sort of product or is it done only through heat? Did I mention that I am in Brazil; which does not allow me to have access to that kind of technical information.
Thanks for your help.
   daniel - Friday, 09/06/02 15:12:55 GMT


Actually, you will not have to temper these parts. All you will need is a product called "Cold Blue". It's available through the Internet at:


Tell them you got the information at Anvilfire.com!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 09/06/02 15:21:24 GMT

Gun Refinishing: Daniel,

DO NOT HEAT the parts. Most small gun parts (screws, trigger, hammer) are casehardened. Some may have originaly been hot finished or temper blued but that was when they were manufactured. You do not want the screw up the temper (hardness) now.

Some "hot" finishes require temperatures in the boiling water range. This will not hurt the parts. But heating on a stove burner, or with a torch can result in softened parts that will not perform as required. Any re-heat treating effecting the temper should only be performed by an expert gunsmith.

Besides sanding you can also use a mild acid like apple vinegar to de-rust parts that can be soaked. It takes anywhere from half an hour to several hours. Do not soak small parts for a long time in acid it will remove all the surface finish and possibly damage delicate features like threads.

Another popular supplier of gun finishing products is Birchwood Casey

Always remember when refinishing antiques or collectables, do as little as possible. Amature attempts at "restoration" always reduce the collectors value and often ruin the item in question. Even cleaning can be damaging if not done carefully.
   - guru - Friday, 09/06/02 16:12:43 GMT

Thank you oh great guru(s). Duh, I don't think that I would have had the sense to weld to the die keys of my LG and pulling them instead of pushing them. Is there a archive or place to look for instructions on making Hardie stuff out of hammer heads? Thanks
   Pick - Friday, 09/06/02 17:17:45 GMT


The problem with pushing them is that if they are rusted into place, frequently when pushing, the pushed end gets mushroomed, making them just that much harder to get out.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 09/06/02 17:19:21 GMT

I am trying to find a source for building a wrought iron
table to contain my tiles. The dimensions need to be
15" X 22.5" on the surface, with a "L" frame to hold a thin
pc. of luon (1/2"), plus the tile (a little over 1/2" deep), plus a piece of glass to cover the tiles (1/4-1/2"). The height needs to be at least 29" or 30". And (I've been researching Color Me Mine; a similar table costs about $97),
do not want to spend over $150 for the table. What do you suggest? I live in northern Virginia.

Gail Baer
   Gail Baer - Friday, 09/06/02 17:39:46 GMT

Guru, Your hint is my command. Gonna try to figure out how to accurately measure the hardness of the face, too. If I can sweet talk the lab manager into it, I may get the Porta-Spec to give me a chemistry on it. Just professional curiosity but it might be interesting to know.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 09/06/02 18:04:37 GMT

TABLE: Gail, The table you have found is less than what you would pay to buy a single unfinished frame. For the price you gave the table is most likely made in a VERY low wage nation and imported by the container load (up to 10 tons at a time). Buy the production import, rip out the top and replace it with yours. . .

To purchase raw materials here would most likely cost more than the finished import table.

If you would rather have a custom work of art supporting your (hand made?) tiles then there are dozens of smiths in the DC area. Try Blacksmiths of the Potomac (BGop) on our ABANA-Chapter.com page. Or the Mid-Atlantic Smiths. And if You are closer to Richmond, Central Virginia Blacksmith's Guild (CVBG). That gives you about 200 possibilities. . . in Northern Virginia.
   - guru - Friday, 09/06/02 21:35:38 GMT

Journeyman's travels

Hi Guru, I came across your page on "Bs apprenticing" somewhere on this site, I followed the link to ABANA's journeyman page.

I am planning a trip to the USA, approx 6 months in duration, starting sometime next year, maybe Feb/March. I want to tour the right half of the US, maybe go as far west as Texas/Arkansas. The purpose of my trip will be 1. To visit as many smiths as possible an 2. learning and showing techniques.

I am looking for blacksmiths who will be willing to take in an extra hand for at least a week (of course I expect to be paid! Maybe $5-10 an hour?) I will need a place to bunk down, unlimited amounts of coffee and a meal a day! In exchange I'll suck up knowledge, work hard, be good company, do a bit of cultural interchange (teach you to swear in Afrikaans!) and cook. (I make an excellent pasta, as well as the best stew south of the north pole)

If you, or any other smith may be interested I would love to hear from you.
   Tiaan Burger - Friday, 09/06/02 21:47:58 GMT

seeking plans patterns for tavern puzzles any ideas thanks terry
   terry - Friday, 09/06/02 21:52:41 GMT

Nail sizeing/pricing
I was wondering where the names for the differnt sized nails ei. 1penny 2 penny came from. I'm assuming this had to do with price? was it price per. or price per 10? or......
   - JimG - Friday, 09/06/02 22:42:51 GMT

Guru: Can you recommend a good software package for steel forging design and analysis. I know Abaqus can probably predict metal flow, residual stresses and strain hardening in forging simulations, but Abaqus is way out of our price range. Is there any software package specifically for metal forming that has a good reputation and is reasonably priced.
   David - Friday, 09/06/02 22:43:58 GMT

David, The last time I looked at engineering software was back when I was writing it (DOS days). . . I was always impressed with the ALGOR product line but I don't think they write a forging specific product. I'm afraid I can't be of much help here

Hmmm Abaqus. . interesting spelling. I wanted to use "Abacus" or "Abacus Software" for a business name but it was already taken 20 years ago.
   - guru - Friday, 09/06/02 23:21:09 GMT

Tiaan, you may want to remember that February is generaly still winter in the US and can be darn cold as far South as Alabama and snow will likely still be on the ground in states North of Virginia and in mountainous regions as far South as North Carolina. March is blustery and cold in the North but nice in the far South. It is still winter in Canada and the "Snowbirds" fly South to Myrtle beach for "Canadian weeks" to go swimming and frolicing on the beach when it is still way too cold for the rest of us!

You may want to WARM UP some Africaans for BRRrrrrrrrrr..... itttssss #*@%$!*# ccccold. . . .

If someone offers you room in "the bunk house" or camping "out back" you may want a polar sleeping bag!

Working in unheated shops in the winter you quickly find out how much difference ambient temperature makes when heating a piece of steel as well as placing it on a 0°C anvil. . . cools REAL fast!

And why does it hurt more to hit your thumb with a COLD hammer????

But anytime is a good time to meet and work with other smiths!
   - guru - Friday, 09/06/02 23:35:31 GMT

Tiaan- Jock is sure right about the cold in February in the Sates. After i"d lived here in the Caribbean for a few years I had to go back up there, to Philadelphia, once in February. I nearly froze to death! What they thought of as comfortable was to me, very chilly. Their idea of chilly was around the freezing point of whiskey, I think. I came back home as fast as I could. Mind you, I was born and raised in the Colorado mountains and no stranger to cold. I'd just never really experienced WET cold before. Maybe you should consider a stop in the Caribbean on your way up to the States. Say, until about April. :-)

Jock, I've never figured out that problem with the thumb and the cold hammer, or the one with the cold thumb and the hammer. Unfortunately, I've tested it empirically several times, and the result was always the same...a sensation that only the Marquis de Sade would appreciate. My solution was to move down here and hit my warm thumb with a warm hammer. Still hurts. But I can always go float in the warm sea and pout in comfort, at least. Don't need an anvil warmer, either. :-)
   vicopper - Saturday, 09/07/02 04:16:50 GMT

i have been doing fabrication work for 12years currently looking for a gas forge i am located in stevenston ayrshire scotland noot having a lot of luck getting a forge hear could you tell me of any dealers in scotland thank you david
   DAVID HANNAH - Saturday, 09/07/02 14:40:36 GMT

Ok, what does it mean when they say "440 stainless steel" or 420 SS. ????? im lost for what it stands for. plz let me learn this great wisdom before it drives me nuts. thank you
   Kolric - Saturday, 09/07/02 17:10:26 GMT

Kolric, Those are American Iron and Steel Institute numbers for identifying various steels regarding their typical analysis (what elements are alloyed, etc.) 440C is a stainless that is alloyed so that you can harden and temper it, say, for a knife or surgeon's scalpel. 420 can also be hardened and tempered, sometimes used for ball bearings, etc. When there are three digits, the first one being 3 instead of 4, the stainless cannot be hardened. I suspect that there are over 100 different stainless alloys, the most common being 304. 304 is used for example, to make sinks, autoclaves, sculpture, etc. Carpenter Technology Corporation, Reading, PA, used to put out a good stainless catalog with specs on many of them.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/07/02 17:55:16 GMT

Kolric, Machinery's Handbook, a reference EVERY metal worker, engineer and designer should have, has information on alloys and standard North American designations. In Europe they often use different systems and Japan has some different specs but they also use American specs AND some American specs are the same as Japanese specs. Machinerys does not have ALL steels listed but has the most common.

As Frank noted, most 400 series stainlesses are hardenable, they are also magnetic. Most 300 series stainlesses are non-hardenable and non-magnetic. HOWEVER, some 300 series stainlesses are hardenable. ALL stainlesses work harden to a greater degree than plain carbon steels and soome 300 series stainlesses are magnetic when work hardened. Stainless also has a much higher coefficient of expansion than carbon steel and a lower heat conductivity rate. Both vary according to the alloy.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/07/02 20:03:33 GMT

Anyone know when oxy-acetylene welding and arc welding became fairly common? I have some pre-WWI photos with what appears to be an O-A setup but none of the books I have give either a year invented or when either method came into fairly common use.
   Coalforge - Sunday, 09/08/02 02:05:00 GMT

In view of the fact that oxyacetylene is so widely used it is almost unbelievable that this process did not come into existence until the beginning of the 20th centure. O/S welding was first made possible throught the experiments and discoveries of a French chemist, Le Chatelier, in 1895. He was the first to discover that burning oxygen and acetylene produced a flame with a temperature far higher than any other flame in esixtence.

Source: The Welder's Bible, by Don Geary. ISBN 0-8306-9938-4
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 09/08/02 02:20:13 GMT

centure Should Be century
O/S Should Be O/A
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 09/08/02 02:26:33 GMT

Arc and Oxy-acetylene Welding
Acetylene was an expensive chemical curiosity until 1892. Thomas Leopold Wilson invented the acetylene producing carbide process in 1892. That reaction was the first practical method for making cheap acetylene gas. Acetylene was produced by the reaction of calcium carbide and water. Wilson was a Canadian inventor who worked in the Ottawa, Ontario area. He sold his patents to a company that eventually became Union Carbide, but I digress. Initially, the main use of acetylene, in that decade (1890's), was for illumination, primarily for bicycle lamps and early cars (for a short while.) Water slowly dripped onto calcium carbide granules and the off-gassing acetylene was immediately burned by the flame. Acetylene was also used for illumination in some mines. Burning acetylene produces an intense light. Three years after Wilson's discovery, Le Chatelier discovered the tremendous heat produced by burning acetylene with oxygen, (in 1895). But it took another Frenchman to convert the acetylene reaction into a practical oxy-acetylene welding torch. That device was invented by Edmund Fouche in 1900-1901.
It should be noted that the calcium carbide synthesis reaction, used to make acetylene, requires a great amount of electricity, and that was not practical (and available) until a German Siemens and many others invented the modern dynamo (electrical generators) which made electricity from turbines. (hydroelectric, or combustion gas). that work was done in the 1870's and 1880's.
To summarise, it took 5 or 6 years between the invention of a practical source of acetylene and the invention of oxy-acetylene welding.
It should also be noted that it took a while for technologists to learn how to produce a safe high pressure cylindar that stored compressed acetylene. Compressed acetylene has a nasty habit of exploding, and heat would produce an even more likely detonation. Someone discovered that acetylene could be safely compressed and stored, when the gas cylindar was filled with a very porous cement and also with the addition of a certain amount of acetone to dissolve the gas in.
I am not sure when that discovery was made nor by whom. (I can look it up, but it is late and I'm ready to turn in).
Electric arc welding was first discovered, by accident, by an American, Elihu Thomson in 1877. Thomson was a college physics instructor. He was demonstrating some electrical principal to his students, in the lab, when he accidentally welded the end of an electrode to another piece of metal. Thomson was a shrewd fellow. He immediately realised what had happened and also the value of his discovery. He did not tell his students what had happened. (which would have been a problematic prior disclosure of the invention). He quickly patented the arc welding process and made a lot of money. That patent helped to found the British Thomson Houston Corporation which is still a major electrical company in France today.
I wonder if PawPaw is related to "Carbide" Wilson. You never know.
Regards to "tout la gang" from the G.W.N.
   slag - Sunday, 09/08/02 05:53:23 GMT

As a graduate in Chemistry from the University of NC, I have a slight correction to slag's story. The calcium carbide process was actually discovered by Dr. Francis Venable, then a professor at UNC, and his student William Kenan. The two were doing research on producing aluminum for Thomas Wilson at the time and Wilson ended up owning the patents. Kenan became a chief chemist at Union Carbide from which he launched amassing a huge fortune as an industrialist and developer. Venable went on to become president of the University.
   dc - Sunday, 09/08/02 14:11:20 GMT

Is the acetylene producing process that was used for early welding different than the water and carbide reaction used for illumination? Does this not produce enough pressure?
   Jovan - Sunday, 09/08/02 16:18:32 GMT

I only ask because the water carbide reaction that spelunkers use requires no electricity and I always assumed (with no real reason) that the big industrial generators that used to be used for producing acetylene worked the same way.
   Jovan - Sunday, 09/08/02 16:37:46 GMT

IT was invented HERE: The Russians and the Brits will also log in on this one. . . The stereotype "Chekov" in Star Trek was actualy not fiction. Many scientific and technical discoveries were made independently in Russia, often FIRST. As I have often commented, technological history is poorly documented and always written with a narrow point of view.

There WAS a web site with the history of welding that was pretty good. . . I just checked it from our links page and it is gone. I'll have to see if I can resurect it or find its new home. . . I hate it good sites dissapear. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 09/08/02 17:19:25 GMT

Here is a different link. Try it.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/08/02 17:21:58 GMT

Russian Technology. Had occasion to meet with several Russian PhD's a while back. Aside from being too danged intelligent for their own good, one shared an interesting insight. During the Soviet days, when you received your PhD, you recieved a stipend from the Government. This was like a pension and you could live on it back then. Many Russian PhD's did their own research, many sat on their degree and loafed. When the USSR went away, so did the stipends. THAT's why there are so many Russian PhD's out of work! They never had jobs in the first place. The intersting thing is, a lot of metallurgists and materials engineers came to America because, while they had terrific ideas, Russian manufacturing technology was so far behind the west, they couldn't get the materials they needed. In the particular case I was discussing with the Russians, a "cutting edge" technology was conceived in Russia 10 years ago and is just now being developed here. If those folks ever get it all together, the west is in deep ca-ca.
   - Quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/08/02 17:54:17 GMT

Jovan /// Carbide /// Acetylene.
The reaction that makes acetylene gas by reacting calcium carbide with water, does NOT require electricity. The process for making the calcium carbide, for the above reaction, did use electricity.
Sorry for the ambiguity.
   slag - Sunday, 09/08/02 18:59:43 GMT

Dc /// Acetylene Producing Reaction /// Disputed Inventorship
Please provide me with a published source For Dr. F. Venable and Dr. W. Kenan's involvement in the discovery of the process for making acetylene. for making acetylene gas from calcium carbide.
This will not be the first case of disputed inventorship. I am seriously interested in reading about it.
As far as I know, Wilson got the patents for that process, in the countries where he applied for patent.
Perhaps the U.N.C. scientists lost in an Interference proceeding at the United States Patent Office. (to determine first inventorship of competing patent applications for the same invention. It was called a Conflict Proceeding in Canada, and there were counterpart proceedings in most Patent Offices in most other countries' Patent Offices).
   slag - Sunday, 09/08/02 19:14:23 GMT

Carbide. . and Russia: I may be wrong but I believe calcium carbide is manufactured by a reaction between calcium carbonate and coke. Under the right conditions I believe the reaction can occur during the smelting of iron. . . or similar proceses.

Carbide lamps are still used by spelunkers and I suspect by miners in some parts of the world.

A couple decades ago, before the fall of Soviet Russia, ASM distributed a book called "Tales About Metals" by a Russian. It was a Russian technology history and quite good. The view point being Russian was quite intesting.

We really screwed up after the fall of Soviet Russia. We should have done everything we could to help them establish good government and a stable economy. It would be much better to be partners than competitors. It is a shame and an international problem that criminal organizations have become so powerful in the ex-Soviet states.

While on the subject of discoveries and metals. . . The "discovery" of artifical element 118 in America has now been determined to be a fraud and the same scientist was also involved in the so called discoveries of other artificial elements in Germany. The fallout continues and the Periodic Table just shrank. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 09/08/02 19:28:18 GMT

Portable Acetylene: The Prest-o-lite Company invented the modern actylene cylinder filled with acetone and pumic blocks (about WWI). The need to no-longer use a (dangerous) actetylene generators and carbide in shops helped popularize oxy-acetylene equipment.
George O. Curme:
Curme remained in Germany until the outbreak of World War I sent him back to the United States. He found a job with the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, where the Prest-O-Lite Company had established a fellowship for research on new ways to manufacture acetylene. The company used acetylene in bicycle and automobile lamps as well as in oxyacetylene torches. Curme succeeded in producing acetylene from petroleum with a high-frequency electric arc, but the process also produced a substantial amount of ethylene, for which there were no uses. Curme then began to investigate ways to produce other chemicals from ethylene. His first breakthrough came during World War I, when he tried to make
mustard gas from ethylene, but instead synthesized ethylene glycol, which was eventually used in antifreeze.

In 1917, when Prest-O-Lite was absorbed during the formation of the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation, Curme focused . . . http://www.chemheritage.org/EducationalServices/chemach/pp/goc.html

   - guru - Sunday, 09/08/02 20:05:47 GMT

Calcium Carbide /// process /// Acetylene Production
Calcium is required to make acetylene gas.
The Guru is right when he stated that calcium carbide is made from coke and limestone as starting products.
The process uses a lot of electricity. Let me explain why.
The process used goes like this. (from 1893 until at least the 1940's, and probably until today)Metallurgical coke and some petroleum coke and limestone (which is calcium carbonate), are charged into an electric funace with an open top. It was a large brick box, in the early decades of the twentieth century. Carbon electrodes are placed in the mixture and the electricity is turned on. Enough electrical power is passed through the mess to bring the chemicals to a temperature of 2,000 degrees F. The electricity makes heat by electrical resistance. A lot of electricty is needed for the reaction.
The heat causes the limestone to change from calcium carbonate to calcium oxide. (a.k.a. unslaked lime). The calcium oxide reacts with the coke to produce liquid calcium carbide. The calcium carbide is drawn off from the bottom of the furnace, from time to time.
Thomas "Carbide" Willson (I misspelled his surname earlier), invented that calcium carbide manufacturing process and ALSO discovered that it produced acetylene when it came into contact with water. Both discoveries were made at the same time during a botched attempt to make pure calcium. Willson realised that the gray earthy solid product of his electric furnase reaction was not the calcium he had hoped for, so he tossed it aside. By chance, some of the powder fell into a bucket of water and proceeded to bubble furiously. He determined that he had made calcium carbide, instead of pure calcium, and that the gas was acetylene. Calcium carbide was worth much more than calcium. This happened in 1893.
Incidentally, calcium carbide (CaC2) can be converted to cyanamide, when nitrogen gas is passed over hot calcium carbide. Cyanamide is a very valuable fertiliser. Willson proceeded to try to make cheap super phosphate (another valuable fertiliser) and lost his shirt and his fortune. He sold his patents to calcium carbide due to his problems.
One last note. Calcium carbide was first made in 1836, but it did not become a commercial product until "Carbide" Willson made his momentous mistake in 1893.
This is the last acetylene note that I will post for a long while. Promise.
   slag - Sunday, 09/08/02 23:40:30 GMT

"Calcium" should read "calcium carbide"
   slag - Sunday, 09/08/02 23:44:44 GMT

Slag, you are a fountain of information! Have you ever thought about persuing a career as a Patent Attorney?
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 09/09/02 00:22:42 GMT

Correction # 2
Wilson sold his patents to Union Carbide (or a projenitor of that company), and not calcium carbide.
I need a full nights sleep (for a change).
With profuse apologies from the G.W.N.,
   slag - Monday, 09/09/02 01:32:22 GMT

Sleep? At Night? Who does THAT? Curious curious.. .

   - guru - Monday, 09/09/02 03:39:54 GMT

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