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This is an archive of posts from September 9 - 17, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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I am working on an how you say in your language preliminary conceptualization for a electric anvil, that will heat the work instantaneously upon contact. There are several minor problems, namely, the work sticking to the anvil, and the electrocution of the smith. I am wondering if this has ever been tried before, and what solutions others have come up with to these problems. I am having already some "good forutune" with using Pam on the anvil as an anti-flux, and wearing rubber-soled boat shoes whilst striking. But then, if I should happen to drop the work, pssssst!, I lose the toes. Puzzlemente in Tierra del Fuego. Muchas gracias in advance for all help.
   Jorge leGubrious - Monday, 09/09/02 04:44:02 GMT

Clearly rubber tong handles and a rubber hammer handle will be necessary.
One would need to modulate the amperage so as to maintain the proper temperature range, perhaps with a rubber foot pedal.
The smith would have to be carefully trained to neither sweat nor drool while leaning over the electric anvil.
Ah, the toe is lifted and the current stops at the moment of hammer impact.
Both the anvil and the smith must be thoroughly greased. Goose grease is preferred over Pam.
Jovan: It is the same water and carbide reaction that produces acetylene in both cases.
Before the gas was successfully stored in cylinders, welders used acetylene generators that featured a hopper full of carbide atop a tank of water. When the acetylene pressure dropped a diaphram mechanism allowed more carbide to drop into the water.
As I recall my old acet generators produced about 4 or 5 PSI and were left out in the yard while working cause they were a little too exciting to work near..those old dogs leaked , partly because of my home made gasgets. They had a reputation for blowing up every now and then..mostly cause guys just kept adding carbide and never cleaned them out. Sort of "true path" welding.
   - Pete F - Monday, 09/09/02 05:55:47 GMT

I appreciate all the info in this forum -its very informative.
I am considering making some of my own gravers and stamps. I would need to make the patterns and then harden them.
Can you recommend a small furnace for heat treating ?
Thanks in advance, Jay
   Jay - Monday, 09/09/02 10:36:05 GMT

Jorge, Facinating. I tried something similar by connecting one electrical cable to the anvil and one to the tongs. They were both connected to a bank to heavy duty truck batteries. My problem was getting a good connection between the tongs and the workpiece once it scaled up. When it worked, the piece never got cold on the anvil. Of course, the constant melting of the workpiece was a nuisance because when you strike at the piece just as it melts, you splatter liquid steel all over the shop. I ruined several good shop aprons that way. And, of course, wearing all that rubber clothing got to be problematical. I had no end of weirdos applying for jobs as strikers.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 09/09/02 12:51:45 GMT

How much spark does a coal fire produce and just how much spark will a 16th inch mesh spark arrester prevent from flying over to my neighbor's tinder-dry pasture (10 feet away)? I have a side draft hood and know that any restriction to air flow could be a problem. I'm thinking about a contraption that slips on and off. On while the newspaper and wood shavings burn to get things going and off for general forging. Of course, the best option would be to have the neighbor mow or get a horse, but he's a real jerk and very difficult to talk to. If I sprayed over the fence with a high pressure nozzle on my graden hose and used the spark arrester do you think it would be safe? Any other thoughts? Thanks much.
   Wendy - Monday, 09/09/02 14:40:45 GMT

With the lengthy oxy-acetylene thread going on I'll take this opportunity to ask a related question. What do y'all know about Gentec brand equipment VS Victor? The local welding supply house sells a lot of the Gentec outfits and they have a good warranty for about 2/3 the cost of Victor. I'm not planning to use it tons, but want it to last. What do you think? Thanks again.
   Wendy - Monday, 09/09/02 15:00:32 GMT

Electric Forge/Anvil heater


Just for the kiddies I need to say.


Besides being VERY dangerous there are many technical issues that say it will not work.

Although QC answered tongue in cheek, his comment about melting the work is on target. Without sophisticated proportional controls the work is going to end up melted. Even if you adjust the current down, when parts are tapered or become thin then they will overheat. Power low enough to prevent melting a small point would also not be sufficient to warm the larger mass.

Arcing would also require the operator to wear a welding shield with at least a number 8 or 10 shade (on top of the inxulated suit).

To prevent sticking of contacts high conductivity metals are used (platinium, gold, silver, copper). Platinium is one of the best because besides being a very good conductor it has a very high melting point. Gold makes good contacts BUT in arcing situations it is known to weld easily.

Tongs would need copper jaws and the anvil face would need to be some type of non-ferrous metal or even graphite. But since there is no good substitute for a steel anvil face. The ideal would be a yet undeveloped platinium alloy that is as hard and strong as steel while retaining the oxidation resistance and conductivity of platinium. But you still risk electrocution.

One of the first experimental uses of electricity was electrocution of cows by Benjamine Franklin. He thought it would be much more humane a method of slaughtering animals and he ran a great number of experiments. Many were hilarious if you don't consider the poor cow. Early experiments were unsuccessful and NOT humane at all due to there not being sufficient power. However, in one experiment using much more power he set the poor beast aflame and exploded many internal organs making the meat unfit for consumption. . .
There ARE other less sophisticated and MUCH safer methods that could be applied to achive your goals.

Raising the temperature of your anvil will greatly reduce the rate of heat loss. If you were to use a special high temperature alloy anvil, say made of H-27, then the anvil temperature could approach 1,000°F (538°C). Heat could be applied externaly or internaly with a common gas flame.

A similar arrangement with top heating via a gas burner with a soft flame angled such that it cleared your hammer space would work AND also put heat into the work more than the anvil.

Of course both these methods produce a VERY hot work space and the smith would need to wear flame proof clothing as well as insulation. Although a 800°K anvil is not very "hot" in forging terms it is VERY hot to stand near in human terms. The entire work area becoming hellish. . .

Of course there are regions where the ambient conditions are very near or equal to this. Perhaps you and Miles Undercut could work on this project from those regions and report back us.
   - guru - Monday, 09/09/02 15:01:06 GMT

Sparks and Fire Problems: Wendy, these drought conditions have become problematic all over the U.S. including what is normaly lush green central Virginia. We had a couple days of rain last week but the streams are almost back to the pre-rain record lows and the grass is turning brown again. . . Depth of grass has little to do with spread of fire. Dry debris in a close cut lawn will burn

Coal produces almost no burning fly ash that will leave your chimney (depending on its height). In some furnaces the draft is sufficient such to draw a few sparks into the stack but rarely are they hot enough to be any problem when they exit the stack. Coal ash is typicaly too heavy to float any distance and does not continue to burn without forced air.

The wood and paper you use to start your fire are another matter. I've seen glowing bits of paper travel great distances. If you used a torch to start your fire and no kindling then these would not be a problem.

IF you are using a spark arrestor for libility reasons then the powers that be (local government, insurance companys) would be the ones to ask about specifications (don't give either your name or address!). Under the current tinder dry conditions in many locations there is probably no level of safety that is absolutely safe. . .

I worry more about torch and grinding sparks. Both travel at high velocities and are usualy hot enough to start a fire when they fall to earth. Distance is your best protection but you have already stated you have little of that. Wetting down the area helps BUT currently that would be ilegal in normaly lush Virginia. . don't know about where you are. The other problem with wetting down an area is that it doesn't stay wet very long. . .

If you DO install a spark arrestor look closely at stainless or copper screen. Coal smoke/ash is very corrosive and steel screen will not last long.

Sorry I have no good answers.
   - guru - Monday, 09/09/02 15:43:45 GMT

Gentec: Wendy, I have no experiance with Gentec and know nothing about the company. Note that their working name is "Genstar Technologies, Co". www.genstartech.com (Founded in 1969). They look like a good outfit (the company) but you never know these days. . .

The primary reason I recommend Victor is that they are an old company and they support (or have supported) their old products. Many companies make changes and then abandon the earlier product AND customers.

Probably ANY major brand purchased from a reputable dealer (welding supply) is good equipment that you will be happy with. DO NOT buy department store brands, no-name imports or clones (forgeries). The first serious money I spent on metal working equipment was at the place "where America shops" and both the "Professional" grinder(s) and the top store brand (garanteed forever line) welding outfit were NOT supported and were trash after a few years. These folks labled a lot of their tools "proffesional" but if you used them commercialy (as a professional) the "forever" warantee was 30 days. . .

   - guru - Monday, 09/09/02 16:12:56 GMT

Lugubrious: adj., mournful, especially to an exaggerated or ludicrous degree. Entirely appropriate it you try to build an electric anvil.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 09/09/02 16:53:32 GMT

Wendy /// Grass Fires /// Hot Ash
There is no need to use wood shavings, sawdust nor newspaper to start a coal forge fire. I suggest that you use an electric resistance fire starter that is designed to start barbecue and hibachi fires. the device will quickly set charcoal alight.
The coil uses house current and its stout iron loop gets red hot in no time. These devices are available ffor sale at many department and discount stores. You can often get one at a yard sale for one or two dollars. Using the coil will cause no hot flying ash nor the ghastly smell and taste of liquid fire starter, in your barbecued food.
Fire starter-flavoured steaks yum!
I would also suggest that you keep a hose nearby with the water turned up full volume. (the hose should be activated by pressing a lever.).
A fire extinguisher is also handy to have near anyone's forge.
There is another tip I came accross, several years ago. A fellow suggested that a fine layer of sawdust be put down around the forge. If a piece of hot metal or slag lands, the sawdust will start to smoke before the hot piece has a chance to start a really serious fire. The smoking sawdust indicates a problem and also where the hot piece is, in good time, to douse the smoldering material. It's a cheap early warning system.
Jock would a fine metal mesh screen installed over the flue outlet be useful? Such systems are used as spark arrestors in some industrial set ups. But it might impede the flow of hot forge gases. Your experience and knowlege, on this subject will be appreciated.
   slag - Monday, 09/09/02 17:23:03 GMT

Cold thumbs

I'll take your advice and move my little adventure to March / April! No fun hitchin' a ride with a cold thumb either! The last time my thumb was struck it was done by someone else! Somehow that hurts worse than when you do it yourself...
   Tiaan - Monday, 09/09/02 18:05:53 GMT

Not a rant, just stating facts. For those of you that plan to weld on anvils, the welding rods like the 10018 and the 11018 are mild steel. It is the same steel core wire used in the 6010 and 6011. The designation 10018 means that the rod has 100,000 pounds of "TENSILE" strength. That means that it will take a minimum of 100,000 pounds to stretch to the breaking point a one cubic inch of weld metal. The 10018 rods are still "MILD STEEL". They are soft! Contact Licoln Electric and go to the "Ask the Expert" e-mail. They will gladly answer this question again. In a nutshell, this means that welding on a unhardened cast steel anvil or a wrought iron anvil body may be OK. These rods are totally useless to weld a hardened tool steel face. Yes, the weld will work harden. It will only work harden like any other "MILD STEEL" and not like tool steel.

   - Bubba Dumplin' - Monday, 09/09/02 18:45:45 GMT

To Whom it May Concern: that dastard Enrique delaTerious is at it again, forging notes all over the Internet in my name. Any fool knows that running high amperage currents into anvils is a dangerous game UNLESS you slow down the phase periodicity by running it through sufficient resistance to stretch out thecurve. I use a series of old toasters, as delaTerious knows full well from his days as my assistant, and this gets it down from 60 cycles to closer to 3, if I have the coffee pot on, as well. This gives me a smooth flow of juice almost like DC, and greatly reduces the flash when I smite. Hey, WENDY: setting your neighbor's field afire ain't worth the risk, hon, no matter what nifties you are making. Switch from coal to propane. You'll sleep better.
   jorge leGubrious - Tuesday, 09/10/02 02:16:16 GMT

Hello from Australia,

We are an artistic blacksmith company located in Brisbane Australia. We would appreciate if you could help us or point us in the right direction. We are looking to employ a blacksmith who is initially looking to come on a working holiday to Australia with a view to employment for an extended period.

We would appreciate any leads as to any websites, addresses or chat rooms in or outside of UK where we could advertise.

Thanking you in anticipation.

   Heritage Ironwork - Australia - Tuesday, 09/10/02 05:06:41 GMT

sparks and ash, when sparks or ash from the stack are a problem, install a cyclone type air cleaner/separator, like what sawmills use to suck sawdust from the mashines and then separate for collection, a 500 watt fan should be big enaugh for one or two fires, make sure you only use fireresistant material
   Stefan - Tuesday, 09/10/02 07:04:06 GMT

Question about the Russian 100 lb. anvil from Harbor Freight... which anvil is it? none are listed as "Russian"

I have a nice 233 lb. Peter Wright, but a smaller anvil would be nice to be able to travel with.
   - Bob - Tuesday, 09/10/02 13:32:16 GMT


listed as 110 pound cast STEEL anvil.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 09/10/02 14:37:50 GMT

Welding Rods:  Bubba, the rods are basicaly the same but the coatings are different. If the rods were all the same there would be no difference in tensile strength. . .

Mild steel has a tensile strength of about 45-55,000 pounds. To increase the strength carbon or other alloying ingrediants are added. Manganese, chrome and nickle are typicaly used in welding rods. Coatings use carbonates which produce a reducing atmosphere along with the burning cellulose. Rod coatings have a variety of ingrediants including iron powder which combines chemicaly with other ingrediants in the coating as well as the rod. The result can be a different material than what you started with.

Hardfacing rods contain greater amounts of the alloying ingrediants and are also low carbon. They are the extream of the normal additions. The problem is that they are TOO hard and very brittle. They are designed for abrasion resistance not high strength.

The ideal repair would be to replace parts of the anvil with the original carbon steel or alloy. But this is not possible (as far as I know). This would also require a complete (expensive) heat treatment. So weld repairs to hardened steel anvils are a compromise repair. That is one reason I generaly DO NOT recommend them especialy when it is a cosmetic repair.

Anvil faces must resist the absolute worst abuse that can be apply to a steel part. They require the best steel avaiable and proper heat treating. Arc welding is the last thing you should want to do to this highly stressed part.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/10/02 14:43:23 GMT

Russian Anvils:   QC has written a very nice report on these and I will get it converted to HTML and posted ASAP.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/10/02 14:44:55 GMT

I am currently doing practical research on medieval arrowheads. I have no trouble with making the bodkin type and saxon non-barbed broadheads. However, I am at a loss when it comes to the barbed broadhead and swallowtail type of head. I even thought of a way of fire welding enough metal together to be drawn out to a long barb. can anyone help in the "correct" way of making this type of arrowhead?
G Brindley
   Gordon - Tuesday, 09/10/02 15:13:01 GMT

I am currently doing practical research on medieval arrowheads. I have no trouble with making the bodkin type and saxon non-barbed broadheads. However, I am at a loss when it comes to the barbed broadhead and swallowtail type of head. I even thought of a way of fire welding enough metal together to be drawn out to a long barb. can anyone help in the "correct" way of making this type of arrowhead?
G Brindley
   Gordon - Tuesday, 09/10/02 15:13:36 GMT

Guru, what you said is correct. I will add one thing. The core wire being mild steel, the flux can be manipulated to do all sorts of things, even add carbon. The point about 10018 and 11018 is that the flux is manipulated to decrease hydrogen content and increase tensile strength not hardness. Yep, I concure, I would NOT weld on an anvil. I guess you could say that I would like to warn people not to buy an anvil that has had repairs. You get cosmetics, but the edges that have been repaired to sharpness could be very brittle or very soft. That Russian anvil seems like the place to put money if you're in bad need of anvil and little money.
   - Bubba Dumplin' - Tuesday, 09/10/02 16:28:58 GMT

Gordon; I'd suggest you contact Dr. David Starley at the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds, England. He gave a paper on medieval arrowheads at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo MI last spring and may be able to refer you to people studying they way they *were* made rather than how we would do it.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/10/02 16:34:50 GMT

As soon as Guru gets my report and photos of the Russian anvil, you will understand my question here: The horn on the Russian anvil is not a cone, but more like a duck bill. I have done some grinding on it to clean up the surface but the shape remains awkwardly flat and blunt. Short of spending another $50 for an anvil cone, how do I form tight radii, as on a keyring or S-hook? I have been forming around a piece of 1" pipe for now but there must be a better way. I have no reluctance to grind that horn to circular point but it might not weigh 110# when I get done!
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/10/02 17:13:09 GMT

Bob, the Harbor Freight "Russian" anvil has a plate riveted on the side which says " Made in Russia". Regards, 3dogs.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 09/10/02 17:53:11 GMT

Arrow Heads: Gordon, I'm not sure of the shape you are trying to create as I do not know the various type heads you speak of (my archery experiance is with building and using fiberglass laminate bows and using modern wood, fibreglass and aluminium arrows).

That said. I have seen some amazing forge welds on small items like hinges less than a finger wide in wrought iron less than 1/16" (1.6mm) thick. The key thing being the welds were in wrought iron. Even when steeling edges, the wrought being able to heated hotter than the steel make the weld easier.

The other thing to look at is manipulation of masses. Where two little pieces are difficult to handle, one long piece and one small piece are much easier to manipulate. A larger bar than needed with the end forged down to the same approximate mass (or a little larger) than the piece to attach is much more likely to succeed. After the weld is made then the part is forged to shape and cut off the bar.

Perhaps this will get you thinking about the problem in a differnt way.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/10/02 17:58:16 GMT

Quenchcrack, the Russky anvil has a pretty fair sized hardy hole. Make thyself a bickern for thine S-hook. Regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Tuesday, 09/10/02 18:00:47 GMT

Contact Mr. Hector Cole. Mr. Cole has worked at the Tower of London, armoury. He is a master arrowhead maker and lectures on the subject. It is said that Mr. Cole can fashion mediaeval arrowheads, from wrought iron that the Tower weapons experts cannot tell from original specimens.
His web address is www.hectorcoleironwork.com. Also check out www.bythesword.com/bows.html for some nice pictures of period arrowheads,(for sale)probably made by Mr. Cole.
   slag - Tuesday, 09/10/02 19:10:42 GMT

Russian Anvils: QC's report is currently in our iForge demo classroom (ROOM101). Feel free to post questions but they will not be answered in real time. The finished report will be posted on the 21st Century page at a later date possibly including more information.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/10/02 20:01:51 GMT

Quench Craque; you don't need any "horn to make a curve for the end of an S hook. Heat the end and bend it a bit over an edge with the hammer then place it with the end sticking up and striking down on it it will curve. With practice you can get very nice curves with this method.

I have found that a spud wrench makes a good bickern, either forging down the wrench part to fit the hardy or welding it to a piece that fits in the hardy.

IF you need to have exact duplicates, make a fixture for the hardy hole.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/10/02 20:39:09 GMT

re Nails.
If I remember correctly( could be tricky)
Nails were sold by weight. so 10d nails would be the number of nails that equalled the weight of one penny. Now you have to remember that the penny once was a fairly large coin (least wise all the OLD english pennies I have are HUGE) so 10d would be 10 nails and so on.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 09/10/02 21:05:19 GMT

Re Nails,
The problem I can see with your answer is that according to my reprint of an American Hardware Catalogue from 1865 a 2d nail is a tiny little thing and a 30d is a big spike. Would it be possible thats how many pennyweights it weighed?
Just how much is a pennyweight anyway?
   - JimG - Tuesday, 09/10/02 21:47:29 GMT

QC for s hooks I have a set of forms I made to fit the hardie hole an "L" shapes with cut pipe ends welded on from 1/2" id to 2" by 1/4's they work well with tongs with one jaw a little shorter than the other to compensate for the weld etc. they also give you consistansy (sp) in your bends
   Mark P - Tuesday, 09/10/02 22:24:24 GMT

Quench, A scrolling fork hardie will turn your S-Hooks.
   - Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 09/10/02 23:08:16 GMT

I'm a newborn baby to blacksmithing. I have no experience, but am determined to learn the trade. I have gathered enough of the standard tools to get started; anvil, hammers, tongs and a forge. My question concerns the forge. It is equipped with a Champion blower, but is not lined. Where do I find what I need to line it with. Also, where do I find a source for coal. I live in Central Missouri.
   Steve Griggs - Tuesday, 09/10/02 23:35:14 GMT

I have some soft refractory brick salvaged from a ceramics kiln. Is this brick suitable for the sides of a propane forge ? I'm using 2 AP green 12 x 12 Clipper bricks for the floor and Kaowool under a piece of .5" perforated grate salvaged from a mulching machine for the arched top. I was planning to stack up the kiln bricks for the sides.


   chris smith - Wednesday, 09/11/02 00:46:01 GMT

You are more than likely correct.....

I never really worried about how nails were sized.....
When the FOrt needed nails they said "We need Xthousand 3 inch nails" (grin)

Pennyweight is how much one penny weighed.....
   Ralph - Wednesday, 09/11/02 00:47:17 GMT


I would not line the forge if it were me. Lining them will allow moisture to be trapped under the lining which will accelerate rusting. As for Coal look in the "Coal Scuttle" section here on anvilfire. There are listings by state for coal suppliers
   Ralph - Wednesday, 09/11/02 00:49:14 GMT

Gas Forge Construction:   Chris, bricks from a kiln SHOULD work. Kaowool for roof should be 2" minimum and 3" would be better in a large forge. Anchor the first layer to the grate with stainless steel tie wire then glue the second layer to the first with ITC-100. Then when coated with ITC-100 it should stay in place without any problem.

I've got ITC products in stock and some 1" Kaowool (but not a full carton).
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/11/02 01:08:45 GMT

Clay Before Using:   is cast into many forges.
The only diagram of "claying a forge" I have found shows a ring of clay around the tuyere covering the joint between the tuyere and the pan. This was on a forge with almost no "fire pot" and the clay looked like it was helping make a one. The entire forge was NOT clayed.

There is a lot of debate about claying forges and I am generaly against for the reasons Ralph gave. If you MUST then any kind of clay will do. Refractory clay is not needed. You can purchase sculptor's clay from an art supply. It is usualy mixed to the right consistancy and will crack less than other clays. Otherwise you can use any local clay from a clay bank. Here in Virginia we have several types of clay. Most of our red Virginia "topsoil" is actually subsoil clay and all you have to do is scrape off the first few inches and you are down to clay suitable to make bricks. . . We also have common clay banks usualy associated with streams. Some of this clay drys white and fires red.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/11/02 01:17:17 GMT

Pennyweight- A pennyweight is 1/20 of an ounce troy. A troy ounce is 28.8 grams if I remember correctly. An avoirdupois ounce is 31.1 grams. Pennyweights are routinely used still for the weight of gold, silver and precious metals, as well as jewels. 1 pennywieght, abbreviated dwt. is also equal to 24 grains. I doubt that this really clears anything up, though.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/11/02 02:05:35 GMT

hello i have a prentiss bulldog bench vise, but the jaws are junk they are all wore out i was wondering if anyone could give me info on where i might be able to find some jaws for this vise otherwise i will end up making them please e-mail me at bfeeder@aol.com if you can help thank you
   Dave Edler - Wednesday, 09/11/02 02:34:08 GMT

Prentiss Vise: Dave, Great vise. I have two of their bigger ones. They have been out of business for a long time. Depreciation era I think. You will need to make your own jaws. I like mine worn smooth. . Don't marr the work. But they DO need to be straight.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/11/02 02:41:19 GMT

As I remember the "X penny" system for nals dates from the time that 10 pence ("10d" as in "denarius" wich was the Latin for penny) bought 100 3" nails. (Or maybe a gross [144 or a dozen dozens].)

I do not believe it had anything to do with the weight. The exact timing and proportunate number of nails to pennies I will have to research further, or other, wiser folks may supply the answer.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 09/11/02 03:11:36 GMT


That's a question that I get fairly often, and I've never known the answer for sure. Also, I have no idea where to start looking for the answer.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 09/11/02 03:25:04 GMT

Pennyweight And Nails
When in doubt look it up. And on this subject the information was not already in my head. Soo I resorted to my library. Patent attorneys often have large libraries with many old books. Why? In order to try and find old descriptions of devices (or improvements thereof)that were recently patented. Prior published description will render a problematic patent invalid. One or two of those discoveries and the library is paid for. (I'm also an incorrigable book collector).
Nick Engler in his book Woodworking Wisdom Says the following, in a sidebar, tidbit, on page 372.
"The sizes of some nails are given in pennies (abbreviated "d"). In the 1880's, this referred to the cost per hundred. You could buy 100 sixteen-penny (16d) nails for 16 cents. They cost a little more nowadays."
Mr. Engler, I believe, has a popular cabinet making/woodworking show on P.B.S.
I hope this entry adds something positive to the ongoing discussion of this subject.
Regards to all, from the G.W.N.
   slag - Wednesday, 09/11/02 04:36:34 GMT

Quench Cr;
As Thomas P pointed out, you can freehand a curve quite nicely with hammer and anvil, given some practice.
The trick is a good even heat and prompt action. If you get it the first time, you get the smoothest curve...the more you correct and the colder you work, the choppier it gets.
The first heat should be for shaping the very end of the stock which is started striking down,with the work hanging over the edge of the face or horn.
The next heat is worked with the stock pressed against the face ( that's how I got those lines in my forehead) with the curve facing up and away from you. Lean over the anvil and strike the piece towards you, rolling the curve as you go. To tighten the curve, tap down on the top of the curve and so on.
Scrolls and rings are quickly done freehand...after you blow a few ( dozen?) for practice. Use scroll tongs and bending forks for adjustments.Then you can show distain for scrolling jigs and other low cheatments( is that a word?)
Even St Francis W would approve.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 09/11/02 05:50:36 GMT

Inspirational Thought for today: Never hire your brother-in-law to do concrete work. Uncle Miles's Almanac herewith invites your hard-won wisdom. Watch this space.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 09/11/02 06:23:32 GMT

And, oh, yes, I almost forgot: we are raising the miasma level to Condition Deep Fuchsia.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 09/11/02 06:26:32 GMT

Pete, the world IS coming to and END! You, I and St. Francis all agree! Although I am a wiz at making jigs I almost never use them. I saw a guy make a big show of his S-hook jigs and I could hardly keep from laughing . . After the first hundred or so you make they all look alike and if you WANT you can size them by eye just as accurately as if they came off a jig.

The BIG difference? The curves are much smoother when NOT made on a jig. Curves flow into the straight section or there is no straight section at all. Most jig made curves end abruptly unless you make a full length jig and lay the work on hot. . . But generaly if you can make a gracefull full length jig you don't need it. OF course when you know what looks best you can adjust what comes off a jig. I do it all the time but most folks using jigs don't.

There ARE times when you need a jig or form to make multiple parts efficiently. But those are rare times unless you do a lot of production work.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/11/02 11:44:07 GMT


Using stainless steel tie wire to anchor Kaowool to a forge roof. Do you mean loop the wire through the entire 2" Kaowool outside layer in several places to anchor it to the roof and the wire will be adequately protected by the second l" layer glued to the first ? I have enough 2" Kaowool for a second layer, and already have a gallon of Instuff coating purchased before learning about ITC-100. Do you know if you can glue Kaowool together with Instuff and would you recommend buying some ITC-100 to coat the inner Kaowool surface instead of using the Instuff I already have ?
I also have some 1/2" Insboard I was thinking about putting two layers under the 12" Clipper brick forge floor which is sitting on bar grate and maybe a layer inside the forge against the soft brick side walls. Does this make sense ?

Thank you very much for your help

   chris smith - Wednesday, 09/11/02 12:34:22 GMT

Slag: Thanks for looking it up. It's amazing what a quick search through the references will do.

All: Sorry about the last posting, with grammatical and ypographical terrors. It was late, I was tired.

Holding down the fort on the banks of the Potomac. A bright, beautiful day; just like last year. We bury our dead, make light of our losses, plan for tomorrow, and try not to repeat our past mistakes. Please remember Sheila Hein from the Pentagon, a good woman and a good friend.

Sorry for the sloppiness.

Visit your National Parks, where we remember what we are all about: www.nps.gov

Go viking (where we remember where some of us came from, and how tough it was): www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 09/11/02 13:17:44 GMT

BE assured that Sheila Hein will be in our devotions, today. (and long afterward,), with all the others. Including at least 50 Canadians.
   slag - Wednesday, 09/11/02 15:44:39 GMT

Good deal anvil.
I was starting to think the days of the good deal anvil were over. Read the classified ads in your local paper every day! I just scored my "Dream anvil", a 308lb (230) Hay-Budden for .89/lb. Good things come to those who wait!

Guru, will you be selling those safety glasses soon? I want the triple pack (2 clear, tinted)
   robcostello - Wednesday, 09/11/02 16:56:29 GMT

Rob; hay buddens are marked in pounds IIRC so that's a 230# anvil not 308 if 230 was the marking. So it would be a tad over $1/# and well worth twice that! (given condition of course) It's close to what I paid for my last Hay-Budden and I am notoriously cheap... of course if the weight drop is a problem I would be happy to take it off your hands for what you paid for it...

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 09/11/02 17:18:44 GMT

a good overall book for a beginner to purchase to help me out,and or a video.also anyone in central illinois willing to show me some basics. thanks ahead of time.
   flint kemper - Wednesday, 09/11/02 17:33:15 GMT

Thomas, Thanks! I just must be getting old, that 230lbs sure felt heavier. I bought it as a "Large 200+ lb anvil", I didn't know it was a HB or 230 (neither did the person who sold it to me) until I got it home and removed the 80 years of gunk. It's in great shape, very flat with acceptable edges. I'll have this one for life. It sure beats that 110lb chinese anvil (not ASO though, it has a steel face) I've been beating on.
   robcostello - Wednesday, 09/11/02 18:03:27 GMT

QC and "S" hooks
See iForge demo #112. That 10 year old blacksmith shows how he makes the business end of a "S" hook, formed on the horn of the anvil. He then shows another way to make them, with jigs. (same demo)

Try both and then you decide which method you like best.

   - Conner - Wednesday, 09/11/02 19:50:56 GMT

Books to Start With Flint, It depends on what you are intrested in. See our Getting Started article and the linked book reviews.

The best GENERAL smithing book is New Edge of the Anvil.

The best GENERAL historical smithing book is STILL The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer.

The book by Otto Schmirler, Werk und Werkzeg des Kunstschmieds (Work and Methods of Artist Blacksmiths) is one of the most beautifuly illustrated blacksmithing books and is very good for the beginner as well as advanced smith.

For general inspiration and an introduction into a wide variety of hand metal work Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork is still one of the best.

There are many others and eventualy you will want them all.

As a technical reference EVERY SMITH should a copy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. If blade and weapon work is your thing then you will need more specific references on metals and heat treating but MACHINERY'S covers most of what the general smith needs to know in this area as well as a million other things.

For step by step projects will not find any place that has more items than HERE on our iForge page.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/11/02 20:46:00 GMT

Forge Construction: Chris, If you have 1" and 2" Kaowool, then use the 1" first and tie it on. Otherwise you need to embed the wire in the 2" at least 1/2" to 1". But cross ties on the loops to make an "X" for better support against the blanket. I do not have a clue if Instuff will act as glue on Kaowool blanket. I've tested ITC-100 and know it works.

Benifits of adding insulation under the floor depends on the thickness of the brick. I normaly use standard brick on edge to make a 4" floor. Hard high density bricks conduct a LOT of heat and the thin direction is generaly not sufficient insulation in a gas forge. Lighter refractories conduct less heat and 2 to 2-1/2" is satifactory. But everything depends on the duty of the forge/furnace. The longer it is run the better insulation needs to be for YOUR comfort and to protect nearby objects. I like to have a sheet metal "heat shield" about 1-1/2" from hot surfaces and then a second air space between the heat sheild and other objects. Air spaces and heat reflectors make a surprisingly efficient system.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/11/02 21:05:48 GMT

Adding to the guru's book list.. I found "Blacksmith Primer" to be an excellent walkthrough for the beginning smith. The author escapes me currently, as I'm in the library on campus, but I'll see about it when I get home this weekend.

Just trying to be helpful,
Bob "Asgard"
   Asgard - Wednesday, 09/11/02 21:07:20 GMT

Posted the 27th edition of the anvilfire NEWS. It is finished except for some details and corrections.

Asgard, We have a book review of Randy McDaniels' Blacksmith's Primer
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/11/02 23:37:36 GMT

"the "d" after ea size stands for "penny " which originaly used in old england as a way of discribingthe number of pennies needed to buy 100 nails. today it is used only to define lenth of a nail." Pocket Reference by Thomas J. Glover second dition
   - BW - Thursday, 09/12/02 02:42:56 GMT

Dear Guru,
my location is Ecuador in South America.
I urgently need to identify sellers of babbitt with the following specifications:
For bearings in a high speed reductor from 9000 rpm to 3600 rpm;diameter of bearings 197mm/250mm
copper 8.5
tin 87.5

For bearings in a generator; 3600rpm;diameter of bearing 250mm
copper 3.48
tin 94.62
Even though this question is perheps a lttle out of your line,I still hope you will answer it;your page it seems, was the best I could find on the net.
Thank you in advance
Javier Benavides
   javier benavides - Thursday, 09/12/02 03:48:47 GMT

Good Guru; Doubtless, it is the raising of the miasma level to Condition Deep Fuchsia that moved us to agree. Will try not to let it happen again.
Miles; If I might add to Miles' maniacal almanac;;;Always hit the same thumb...it might get used to it and you will still have one that works.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 09/12/02 06:27:08 GMT

Pete-- Write on! And before the next entropic surge blitzes this machine: everything is always more complex, costs three times more and takes three times longer, than you ever dreamed it possibly could.
   miles undercut - Thursday, 09/12/02 15:06:17 GMT

I have a chance to buy a Champion hand-cranked forge blower on a tripod stand for $60. Is this a reasonable price? It works well and the gear teeth are in excellent condition.
   Neal Bullington - Thursday, 09/12/02 20:41:56 GMT

Neal, that price is so bad that if it's in driving range of me you can give me his number and I'll call him up and chew him out for you...

You didn't say what size but most of the tripod mount ones I have seen are a decent size and if it's in good condition that is a good price, jump on it!

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 09/12/02 21:28:50 GMT

I've seen them for lots more. One I remember was $120, gussied up with red paint, mounted on a stand that it didn't belong to, and with gears that sound like my daughter's late, lamented transmission. Just donated that car to a charity today... :-(

I'd snap it up if I were in your neck.

Bingo night; just me, Mandy (the youngest) the computer, and later, the guitar. Getting my songs ready for Hasting when the 2 g. pot is due.

Another deep fuchsia night on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 09/13/02 01:15:20 GMT

thank u for the input on the prentiss bench vise jaws now i can bring them to work and make some thanx again
   Dave Edler - Friday, 09/13/02 02:21:54 GMT

I am joining a community that will be miles away from a town or city. There will be no electricity. I have to build my own house and shop. Is there any books about making a blacksmith hut?
   Jacob - Friday, 09/13/02 03:17:11 GMT

Jacob-- In the first edition of his superb book, The Edge of the Anvil, Jack Andrews has a nice description of setting up his smithy in a teepee (I know, I know-- he spells it tipi, so what?) after finding a shed didn't do it for him, and includes a diagram of the work zones within. Unknow if he put it in the revise.
   miles undercut - Friday, 09/13/02 04:20:55 GMT

I'll be a "featured blacksmith" September 28 and 29 at the Faust Folk Festival, Faust County Park, 15185 Olive Blvd., Chesterfield, Missouri. It's way out there in St. Louis County. The venue is a historical village with lots of tourists going through. They got a Butterfly House, music, refreshments, mountain man camp, stagecoach and pony rides, and special performances. Info at 636-532-7298. Come say "hoddy" if you're in the area.
Jacob, I put up a teepee last weekend. If you've never put one up, it is a wee wooly booger. A great help is "The Indian Tipi" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/13/02 05:02:48 GMT

I have heard from various smiths and read in various sources that forge welding is not possible if the forge has been contaminated with copper. I wish to know why this problem occurs - what chemistry or science is involved.

Thank you.
   Thingmaker - Friday, 09/13/02 07:54:13 GMT

Shop Layout: Jacob, As noted above there are many ways to go. The problem with shop layouts is there is "the optimum" assuming you have unlimited space and all the tools and equipment you could dream of. . . and then there is REALITY. I have seen smiths work in closet sized shops but on the other hand it is easy to out grow a 30 foot by 40 foot space.

My father is fond of saying "Nature abhors a vacuum." when it come to shop and storage space. It IS a fact of nature and condition of life. We all end up with stock and equipment stored outdoors. . .

A "hut" is actualy a dream shop for many smiths. You are often lucky to have a shed with one or no walls. Sheds have the advantage of keeping your tools dry but having lots of work space since you are not limited by walls. Ventilation is also not a problem. However, they are cold in the winter and insecure if theft is a problem.

A hut needs windows or shuttered openings for ventilation. Dirt floors are advantageous in small shops without heavy machinery. Dirt is non-flamable and you can dig post holes as needed. It is also easier on the feet than concrete.

Space and layout are determined by the shop equipment you have available and the style of working. Here in the West most of stand to do most of our forge and bench work but in the many cultures in the East it is still common to work sitting on the floor. You are not as mobile when sitting so your work space is smaller and tools are kept in closer. Your forge is near ground level and anvils often half burried. There are also no benches to contend with.

In a small Western style shop the forge is centered against one wall and may extend 3 or 4 feet into the shop. The anvil and vise are normally within one step's distance but not too close. About 4 to 5 feet from the center of the fire. At this distance you should be able to reach into the forge with a pair of tongs, turn on one foot and be at your anvil or vise. If you have a good leg vise it will get used as often as the anvil for hot iron work and also used for stock preparation and finishing. Since the vise needs to be anchored to a stout bench or a post set in the ground its location is more permanent than the anvil and thus more thought needs to go into its placement. You should be able to clamp at LEAST a 10 foot long piece of stock in the vise. This is difficult to do in a small shop. It can be advantageous for the vise jaws to line up with a door or window for handling long stock (for sawing). If mounted to a bench the bench needs to be anchored to the wall OR a post set at the corner of the bench. Use of a bench generaly means the vise is mounted to the side of the forge (right or left).

In large well planned permanent shops (note ALL qualifiers), anvils were often mounted on logs set into the earth. However it is generaly better for the anvil to be on a portable stand so that you can adjust its location OR move it outdoors during nice weather. See our recent iForge demo on anvil stands. Generaly I like my anvil vise and forge to be equal distant. This is a triangular layout where you will wear a hole in the floor at its center. The slack-tub can go wherever it is convienient but between vise and forge works UNLESS that is the location of a hand crank blower.

Details, details. . . Equipment dictates many things. An electric blower can be anywhere. A hand crank blower must be accessable but also out of the way OR where an assistant operating it is not in YOUR way. But it must be located where its air pipe can convienently run to the forge. A bellows is best hung from the ceiling to keep it out of harms way. It must be located where its lever can be convieniently operated. I put mine behind the forge (or on the oposite side) with the handle near the vise so that I can stand between anvil and vise OR someone else can and I still have access to forge and anvil. Some of this is also determined by your being right or left handed. . . A bellows is most often operated with your off-hand.

Once you work out these relationships everything else goes where ever it fits. When a power hammer is used, its location may want to make a square out of my triangular space above. The hammer should be located at about the same distance as the anvil but a little farther out. However, the distance is proportional to the size of the hammer (and thus the size work it is used for). The bigger the hammer (over 100 pounds) the greater the distance. In small shops with multiple power hammers a portable forge is advantageous.

Then there are power hacksaws or ironworkers (both should be located convienient to the stock rack - needs about 30 feet to be real efficient). Arc welding equiment and cutting tables. . . buffers and grinders. . . drill presses and lathes. . . milling and EDM machines. See. . the equipment dictates the layout. .
   - guru - Friday, 09/13/02 08:21:17 GMT

Copper in Forge: Thingmaker, I think it is an "old smiths tale". Forge welding has a LOT to go wrong and superstition was probably as good a reason as any for failed welds. In fact, it wasn't until after 1845 when Nasmyth showed that weld scarfs must be convex to prevent the inclusion of slag in the weld that it was generaly known that this was the right way to make a forge weld.

Modern plain steel welding rod and wire is copper coated to prevent rust. Some steel (and wrought iron) has copper in it. AND for many centuries smiths have brazed in forges and made "penny welds" as Bill Epps calls them.
   - guru - Friday, 09/13/02 09:18:26 GMT

Has any one out there ever smelted bog iron? The reason I ask is because, I have come across what appears to be iron ric slag, somtimes with charcoal inclusions at an archaeological site I am investigating. But the site has never been a furnace or foundry. There is an abundance of Iron concreted sandstone at the site. I believe I have one piece of this ironstone that appears to be melted along one edge. I remember seeing a demo once on a replica 18th C. portible forge but I never thought to look at the waste products.
   KEith Doms - Friday, 09/13/02 17:40:01 GMT

Keith check this site: http://www.hist-met.org/ . Browse the site for Archeological Data Sheets. I think I recall one that dealt with slag types.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 09/13/02 18:49:04 GMT

Two questions:

1) Having recently acquired a gas forge (Whisper Baby, subsequently christened the "Balrog") I find it to be about the right size to forge out shield bosses and other small and flat parts. The problem is that anything small or flat sometimes gets flat to the floor, and is the dickens to catch with hook and tongs in any efficient way. So, what would y'all use to keep a 6" disc of steel suspended so that I could get the tongs neatly to the edges. Do they make fire bricks small enough? I've thought of metal, but I could get an accidental weld. Pebbles might melt down, and charcoal will go to ash. I'm reluctant to use my stock of soapstone, and I suspect that it might be fairly vulnerable to sustained high temperatures. Has anybody faced this situation, and how did you handle it. ( 'Tain't no trouble on a coal forge! )

2) I use a standard Centaur fire pot. It's one of the few things I've bought new, and worth it for the lack of jury-rigging trouble I used to go through. Anyway, the firepot has a triangular clinker breaker, which I've used flat side up, on the theory that it kept the coal in the pot and the air in the pipe, the way God intended. Lately I've seen some illustrations with the clinker breaker pointed side up, with the air flowing and converging on the central fire. Now I've never had any problems, getting welding heat (and burning bits of steel when careless) but I've started to wonder if I've had it backwards or if the illustrators were shooting in the dark. Mine works just fine, but I have to ask: is it flat side up, or pointed side up in your collective experience?


September 28, 2002 the American Swedish Museum in Philadelphia, PA wants the Gyrfalcon for a demo. Interested?
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 09/13/02 19:55:17 GMT

Does anyone know of any buisnesses or lituratre I can get ahold of for getting info on a foundation for a 300lb Bradley Upright Helve hammer? I am concerned about the vibration and possible damage to my house when the hammer is installed. It is probably going to be about 50 ft from the house, and based on the planting of some trees, our ground is mostly clay. I want a foundation that will keep the house from being damaged over time. I know that the older versions of the Machinery's handbook had info on foundations. Are there any other books are persons with experience in this area I can contact? Based on the experience of others smiths, I do know that a 300 lb hammer is big enough to do damage if the foundation is not adaquate.
Thanks very much.
   Patrick - Friday, 09/13/02 20:27:18 GMT

Thingmaker, Years ago, Francis Whitaker was demonstrating a forge weld, when a couple of smart a-- horseshoers threw a copper penny into his fire while his back was turned. Francis got the weld anyway.
Bruce; Question #2) I think they are sold to be flat side up, but I don't think it makes much difference if it is inverted. The bent handle should point downward, so I weld a rod and weight to the far side of the handle, so it settles by gravity with handle pointing in the right direction. The Buffalo tuyére valve I liked. It was slightly ellipsoidal in section, and had a hole through it, about ½" x 1", so the air came up through the hole and through either side. I've made my own out of axles when rebuilding. Near Venice Italy, Alfred Habermann has some teaching forges that have bottom blast tuyeres which were like a small grate that could be jumped up and down with a pivoted lever handle.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/13/02 21:28:08 GMT


The simplest thing is to scrounge a small patty of clay from a potter. Ask him for a high-fire stoneware clay. A really good item is a kiln riser, or trivet. It's a little three-armed porcelain trivet that plates or cups stand on in a kiln. The advantage of the trivet is that it allows air (flame) to pass all around the metal, resulting in a quicker, more even heat.

I'm not really competent to answer your question about the clinker-breaker, since I don't use one, but lack of competence has never stopped me before and it won't now. I read in an old smithing book that if you want a concentrated fire, use it with the pointy edge up, and if you want a more diffuse fire, flat side up. Makes sense to me.
   vicopper - Friday, 09/13/02 21:45:59 GMT

Forge Minutia: Bruce, Break up a fire brick and use the "pebbles" from that. Red brick will work too by might melt depending on the type. Won't hurt to toss some on top to distribute heat.

Triangular Clinker breakers are designed to be used either way. Flat side up spreads the fire and pointed side up concentrates the fire. On edge they create hot spots to the right and the left as needed and spun around they are supposed to let clinkers through.
   - guru - Friday, 09/13/02 22:13:07 GMT

Keith-- Furnacetown, outside the town of Snow Hill, Md., was a bog iron smelter. Maybe some knowledgeable smithly type from around there, like Bill Gichner (Iron Age Antiques)in Ocean View, Del., could help connect you with a savvy archaeo-metallurgist.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 09/14/02 00:36:09 GMT

I use pieces of ceramic tile in my single burner forge to hold work off the floor. Glazed side down. Sometimes the glaze seems to stick to the floor, but it's not been hard to pry a piece up to move it. Seems to help heating, too, to have the work up off the floor. Guess it gets heated all around, instead of kind of getting it from just one side.

   Steve A - Saturday, 09/14/02 03:36:44 GMT

Keith Doms, Prof. Robert B. Gordon, author of the FABULOUS BOOK, "American Iron 1607-1900", has made himself available on line: robert.gordon@yale.edu. He is a walking antiquary but is up to date, as well. He's in the Geology Department. One of the classes he teaches is "Archeometallurgy".
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/14/02 04:08:02 GMT


Do you have an ISBN for that book?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 09/14/02 04:33:20 GMT

Hi, I am working on a term paper for Mr. Harkness's 10th grade history class due Monday and need to know how in the world they forged ball bearians in the olden days. Like, I mean, my goodness, how did they ever heat them without burning them up and loosing them in the fire? How they hold them without burning their fingers? How did they get them so round? Please post answer here because I am supposed to be doing this research in the haha library.
   - melissa - Saturday, 09/14/02 05:11:04 GMT

Bog Iron
Most iron was produced by the bloomery process until the 1400's. (and in many places, up until the 1800's).
Solid state iron smelting produces a spongy mass of iron filled with voids and silicon. This iron was smelted in a small charcoal burning bloomery furnace. The Bloom was removed, then subsequently heated and wrought (i.e. pounded) many times to squeeze out as much silicon as possible. Not all the silicon, was hammered out and wrought iron thus has a fibrous structure.
In the early years of bloomery smelting, the process also produced slag that had an iron content up to 50% iron.
Most iron smelted from the middle 1600's until the 1840's, in the U.S., was made from bog iron. Bog iron could be found in stream bank deposits or land that had deposits that had originally formed in stream beds that had dried out.
Bog iron forms in slow flowing streams or bogs that have lots of vegetative matter and iron in the ground that slowly dissolves in the water. The iron sometimes floats up to the water surface to form a scum on the surface of the water. All the iron that seeps to the soil surface then quickly gets oxidized. The iron oxide then complexes with clay to form iron rich clays. some iron oxide could seep into voids in nearby sandstone staining it rust coloured. These iron rich clays were collected, broken up and fed into a bloomery furnace. The bog iron could be siderite FeCo3 (iron carbonate), or iron bicarbonate if a bacterium (blue green alga?) called Leptothrix was active at the site. Much of that Siderite changed to Goethite (HFeO2) or limonite (FeO(OH)n.H2O. Much of the latter two minerals then turned into red iron oxide called Haematite (Fe2O3). The smelted bog iron could be a mixture of any, or all those minerals.
Furnace heat and the carbon monoxide from the burning charcoal reduced the iron oxide to iron, in the bloom.
An iron bog could be mined every 20 years as long as the bog was not disturbed. (e.g. draining).
The New Jersey Pine barrens had extensive bog iron smelting activity years before the Revolutionary War. ( around 20
Check the site for a shallow bowl-like depression and some vitrified "rock" nearby and that will be evidence of a small bloomery furnace. There were many other worked bog iron deposits up and down the Eastern U.S.
You can find pictures of such furnace remains, vitrified stone, and slag bits in books written by archaeometallurgy authorities as Dr. R. Tylecote and also Dr. P. Craddock.
In the 1840's (about 1848), large deposits of haematite iron ore were found in Pennsylvania. The haematite was situated also close to large coal deposits. These new Pa. mills drove all the bog iron operations out of business. They could not compete.
Hope the above purple prose is of some use.
   slag - Saturday, 09/14/02 06:07:03 GMT


There's one for the FAQ page.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 09/14/02 11:43:08 GMT

Paw Paw & All, "American Iron 1607-1900" by Robert B. Gordon, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 1996, 0-8018-5181-5.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/14/02 12:01:41 GMT

Bubba Dumplin':

Actually you'll find that you can't increase tensile strength without increasing hardness. In iron/steel a given tensile strength coresponds to a certain hardness. They are directly related and follow a nearly linear relationship to each other. 50,000 psi tensile = 100 brinell hardness. 100,000 psi tensile = 200 brinell hardness. 200,000 psi tesile = 400 brinell. This applies very closely in all carbon and alloy steels.
   - grant - Saturday, 09/14/02 14:38:01 GMT

The above is true for one simple reason; in both tensile testing and in hardness testing you are measuring the materials ability to resist deformation. Tensile testing streaches the material and hardness testing dents (compresses) the material. Tensile and compression strength of steel are very nearly equal.
   - grant - Saturday, 09/14/02 15:00:21 GMT

Can you tell me what the tip temp is (+/-)in the TIG welding process. We have welded to a piece of tube steel that has been stress releived. We are using 1/16" filler rod(316 ss) at about 80 Amps. We are concerned about induced stress.
   Randy - Saturday, 09/14/02 15:55:22 GMT

Where can i find out where the locomotives and frieght car are manufactured for union pacific rail road. I would like to know where they are welded at and what are the qualifications for this particular job. Any information to this qustion would be very helpful
   jeremy crabb - Saturday, 09/14/02 17:27:56 GMT

Ball Bearings: Melissa, They did not use ball bearings in the "old days". Up until the 20th century most machines used "plain bearings" and many still do today including automobiles. A plain bearing is where a steel shaft runs in a shell of softer material such as wood, bronze, lead or tin. Most commonly tin alloys called "babbit" are used for this purpose.

Babbit is a soft low melting point metal. In common use the shaft is prepared by turning in a lathe (an ancient machine) and the surface polished. The shaft is then covered with soot so the babbit will not stick to it. The shaft is then aligned in the machine which normaly has rough cast "journals" to support the bearing and then melted babbit is poured into place making a perfect fit. The bearing is then opened up and ports and grooves for oil distribution are cut by hand with a chisel or scraper.

The engines in the Wright Brothers' airplanes had babbit bearings and modern automobile engines use babbit coated plain bearings for the crank shaft and other shafts (even in race cars).

Most small electric motors and many other modern devices use bronze plain bearings. Many of these are a porus bronze made by compressing bronze powder. Oil soaks through these bearings as needed from a reservoir packed with cotten and filled with oil.

Precision plain bearings such as used in many machines such as sewing machines and machine tools are made of precision bored cast iron with hardened steel shafts running in the hard cast iron.

However, a blacksmith CAN forge steel balls. It is done on a long bar of steel and the finished ball is supported by a very small neck that may be cut off. Small pieces are held with tongs and yes it is easy to lose small pieces in the fire. See our 21st Century page article "Clapper Die 001" or iForge demo #133 for a drawing of a tool that can be used to make forged balls quickly and easily.

Small balls made of metal, glass and stone (like marbles) have been made for millenia by polishing hydraulicaly. This is done by placing a rough ball in a hole in hard stone, then using fast moving water to rotate the ball. Balls are also polished in bulk by tumbling.

Be sure to give the source of this information in your report.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/14/02 17:33:28 GMT

TIG Welding Temperature: Randy, What you are trying to ask is impossible to determine without actual measurements. The arc and metal in the immediate vicinity is well in excess of 6,000°F. The weld puddle is over 3,000°F (you can look up the melting point of 316 SS and add a couple hundred degrees. The areas around the weld drop off from the liquidus point to ambient. . . What number do you want? Any mumber in the range of 6,000 to over 70°F is correct.

The "induced stress" is governed by many variables. Material thickness, shape of part, shape of weld section, rate of travel, ambient temperature, pre heat and post heat. . . The greater the temperature range and the smaller the distance between hot and cold the higher the stress. All arc welding induces tremendous stresses in the part. If there is a concern then you must post heat treat as the part is NOT in anywhere near its original condition.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/14/02 17:48:18 GMT

RR Car Manufacturing Jerermy, I'm not sure specifically about UPRR but many rail car plants have packed up and moved to Mexico. Those that are left in the US are converting to automated welding in order to compete. With the decline of the railroads there are more rebuilding and repair shops than manufacturers.

Cars and locomotives are usualy manufactured in different places as building locomotives is highly specialized. In the past a few railroads made their own but the majority of locomotives and cars were made by independent companies. If you must have specifics on a given rail line then contact them.

Qualifications on these jobs vary with the criticality of the welding. If it is a Union shop then you must first be a member of the proper union (usualy Blacksmiths and Boiler Makers). If something needs a certified welder then the plant will oversee the certification testing as it job specific. Since most of these jobs are going South you need to speak Spanish.

Two out of 45 companies listed under "Railcar" in Thomas register.

Buncher Co.
Pittsburgh, PA

National Railway Equipment Co.
Dixmoor, IL

Locomotives & Freight Cars, Locomotive & Freight Car Parts, Component Reclamations, Rebuilt & Reconditioned.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/14/02 18:17:06 GMT

Been a busy weekend. Friday night I was working at setting up the church yard sale and came across a crab cooker. These are contraptions used here in the tidewater for cooking several bushels of hard crabs at once. The one I came across was square, made of non-magnetic stainless steel, measured 20" (51 cm) square and 30" (76 cm) high, holds over 45 gallons (lotsa liters) and has a full, lipped lid and a stainless steel screen suspended a couple or three inches above the bottom.

"Aha!" says I; "The perfect slack tub!"

I immediately bargained the ladies of the church (two of who do blacksmithing and understand these needs) from $70 to $30 (and some bed rails thrown in). I dragged it to the forge this afternoon, emptied the galvanized wash tub I'd been using, and dragged 45 gallons of water, in buckets and jugs, from the house down to the forge. The whole rig weighs over 300 pounds when full!

I figure that the lid will keep the mice and bugs out, the screen will let the dirt down away from small parts, and since the steel is non-magnetic, I can fish the fumbled small parts out with a magnet. The steel is very heavy, at least 12 ga., and possibly thicker.

So, my question now is preventative corrosion prevention. Stainless is tough, and this was meant to cook crabs in a brew of boiling water, salt and whatnot. I used sacrificial zinc in my other slack tubs, unsuccessfully in the old steel drum, and somewhat successfully in the galvanized wash tub. At least in the wash tub the zinc showed signs of erosion, and there were no rust-throughs, but then again I'd only used it for a few years.

Should I throw the zinc in for insurance, or is it even worth the bother?

My, but I've gotten curious in my dotage!

Rainy and humid on the banks of the lower Potomac. Rain is good! Lugging yard sale stuff and water jugs for the last couple of days... no smithing tonight. ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 09/15/02 02:29:20 GMT

Can any of you more experienced smiths tell me of a way or the secret to making a medieval type arrowhead? I assume that they were made by smiths, but mine dont seem to come out to well. Thanks
   vance - Sunday, 09/15/02 03:41:46 GMT

flint kemper...
i am in the central illinois area, email me, there is talk of starting a local smithing group over at least 2 counties
   Mike Kruzan - Sunday, 09/15/02 03:42:20 GMT

I'm trying to find a folding 2'Steel Rule preferably made by Rabone-Chesterman or Moore & Wright.
Do you know a source?
   Iain Gough-Townsend - Sunday, 09/15/02 03:51:40 GMT

Randy: It is possible to weld many stress-relieved materials properly without further stress relieving. You don't say what the base metal is, or the service.

The base metal and the filler metal, as well as the process variables are all important.

For instance, stress-relieved 9% chrome furnace tubes can have attachments (such as a thermocouple)welded to them in accordance with pressure vessel codes using the TIG process with the right Inconel filler metal with low welding heat input. 9 chrome is a high temperature material commonly used in high pressure and temperature applications in oil refineries and chemical plants. It is very susceptible to cracking upon welding.

If you are in a manufacturing invironment you need to hire professional help.

If you are welding one piece the 316 filler metal is probably not going to hurt you, but you need to asses the cost of failure, or have the part PWHT.

If you are in doubt AND the application is not critical, use 309 filler metal. In some circles it is known as "OMR", or "Oklahoma Miracle Rod" because of the abilities of us dumb Okies to make successful repairs in very difficult situations using 309.

For critical applications, don't look for an expert after you have killed somebody else. (You won't be needing an expert if you kill yourself). In some states they can get you for murder instead of manslaughter if you knew you were taking a risk to save a little money, and murder is a little more serious offense. Be careful in assessing criticality. If the handle breaks off of a pot of hot oil being lifted from an open-flame burner on a gas range there could be multiple fatalities in the ensuing apartment fire.
   Andy Martin - Sunday, 09/15/02 03:54:18 GMT

Stainless Tank: Bruce, with fresh or salt water the stainless tank should outlast the next millenium. . . Unless someone wears or pokes a hole in it.

Steel parts in the stainless tank will make rust stains but no other problems. Do not put a zinc annode in it. There is no need and you are most likely to plate parts slightly with zinc which is not good when they are going to be forged or welded.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/15/02 03:57:20 GMT

Arrow Heads: Vance, there were questions about the same a few days ago. Look UP. This is not a highly technical problem but it IS a matter of practice. Working thin stock is tricky. One trick that is often used is to to do your drawing and flatening without regard to the shape of outer edges then cutting to shape with a chisel. Edges would then be sharpened by filing (if a file were available), scraping (most common and greatly overlooked by modern craftsfolk) or grinding by hand on a stone.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/15/02 04:17:06 GMT

Imported Steel Rules: Iain, In North America your best bet for imported high quality tools is Garrett-Wade.


Followed by Brookstone. www.brookstone.com

However, keyword searches of these sites did not produce results BUT on google.com I came up dozens of sites under "Rabone-Chesterman". . . including a reference in our archives by Frank Turley. He noted that Lufkin made a similar tool

L.S. Starrett model No. 471 24" folding steel rule.
"Tinsmiths and other mechanics appreciate this rule because it measures diameters up to 24" as well as the equivalent circumference measurement in direct-reading circumference inches, up to 75". Entirely eliminates the need for circumference calculations. Made of fine, spring-tempered steel and jointed at the center with two 12" folds. Machine-divided graduations."
www.starrett.com - click on the precision tools image and follow the links.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/15/02 04:38:38 GMT

Melissa, The nitty gritties of how ball bearings are made may be found at www.howstuffworks.com/question513.htm
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/15/02 11:58:06 GMT

I´ll be building a brand new smithy soon! Could the dimensions taken from my old brick-built side-draft chimney work as well if I build a new one out of steel plate? I´m better at metal than mortar.
   - Olle Andersson - Sunday, 09/15/02 17:35:48 GMT

I just got a good look at my Dad's anvil that I knew was my grandfather's, but found out that it belonged to my great-grandfather as well and who knows how far back it goes. Anyway, since I am heir to it when dad leaves this world, and I always was facinated with it ever since I was a kid, I want to find out all I can about it. It's a 100 pounder according to my Dad, but the markings are almost all completely worn off. All I could make out were the letters ROSS...... (don't know how many letters there were). Is there a site on the web with any anvil ID/collecting info?
Also, I wondered if it would be a bad idea to resurface the face (it's surface is pretty banged up and rusted) and try to clean it up generally (as in wire wheel the rust off) or would that decrease it's value?
It looks like it spent many years unprotectd but it comes from the Gulf Coast in Mississippi where even peoples teeth rust pretty quick. Thanks

   cwhittington - Sunday, 09/15/02 18:14:13 GMT

Brick to Metal: Olle, It should work almost the same. The biggest difference is that masonry flues tend to hold heat and do not cool the rising flue gases as quickly as metal, thus you get slightly better draft with masonry. On the other hand the smooth surface of the metal has less resistance to flow than some flues with rough interior surfaces. In this case the metal will be better. So overall there is not much difference.

If you are burning coal remember that coal smoke and ash are hard on steel due to sulfur compounds in the coal. Thin sheet can have a very short life.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/15/02 18:17:21 GMT

Anvil ID: CW, Anvils less than 200 years old have little value as antiques and the vast majority of old anvils in daily use are well over 100 years old. Many in the 150 year old range are often collected. Cleaning the anvil does not hurt its value unless it is a true antique. Anvils are rarely dated so the age is generaly based on style. I you send me a good photo I can give you a rough estimate of age. Sometimes the markings can give a clue to age if you clean them up so they can be read.

Wire brush the sides and then take a rubbing. Often markings that are difficult to make out can be read this way. Although there is a list of anvil makers on the web it is far from complete. The best (only) published source of information on anvils is Richard Postman's Anvils in America. See our book review page. We also sell it on-line.

Do NOT resurface the face unless you know what you are doing and if the anvil is not an antique. Repairs such as welding may ruin collectors value and may also damage the anvil. It is not unusual to dress the face of an old anvil that is in daily use but it should be done with care.

If you can give us slightly better information Paw-Paw will look it up for you.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/15/02 18:35:36 GMT

I am trying to make a bullet mold for a muzzleloading rifle. Is there an easy way to cut a "Cherry" for a specific size?
   Myke - Sunday, 09/15/02 20:51:52 GMT

Myke, These are made two ways. Forging, using a ball end punch made to size, or by machining. See iForge demo #133. To get a precise fit a ball and sprue would be made of tool steel on the end of a long bar and then the two halves of the mold heated and forged to fit. This can be made by hand or on a lathe.

There are two ways to machine the hemispherical depresion. One is with a milling machine and a ball end mill. These are expensive cutters and you would have to have one special ground to size for most gun calibres. The other way is in a lathe using a form tool OR a radius tool. Radius tools are rare and tricky to setup so form tools are prefered. The advantage of a form tool is that it does not need to be a perfect fit, the operator can manualy adjust the depth and diameter to a high degree of precision. In either case the depression would be roughed by hand or with an undersize drill and then formed to shape.

Forging is faster and more efficient. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 09/15/02 21:18:45 GMT

I am looking for blacksmith job,and can you tell me where should I look (newspaper,or internet).
Thank you
   mark - Sunday, 09/15/02 21:48:19 GMT

Mark, There are often jobs listed on our V.Hammer-In page. That is also a good place to advertise that you are looking for work. You may also want to check into the ABANA Journeyman program. See links on our drop down menu.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/15/02 22:23:33 GMT

I hope you can help me? I would like to combine different pieces of rusty metal and am not sure what would be the best way to do this and retain the integrity of the rust. Thank you
   mimi - Sunday, 09/15/02 22:26:42 GMT

Joining Rusted Steel: Mimi, Riveting would be the best method. Once the rivets are set then they could be rusted to match. Generaly when an artist wants a rusted look they make the piece by whatever methods they think best then rust the entire piece afterward. Coarse heavy rust is not hard to produce in a short time by using harsh chemicals. Liquid bleach produces rust in a few hours. If you want a fine smooth dark rust then you do it with humidity in a "damp box". This takes weeks but you can produce a dark even brown that looks like hundreds of years of slow rust on a cared for piece of iron.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/15/02 22:29:44 GMT

The new Dover Catalog of books, Fall 2002, is listing three arms and armour books: "Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour" by Lord Egerton of Tatton; "Oriental Armor" by H. Russell Robinson; aand "A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in all Countries and in all Times" by George Cameron Stone. www.doverpublications.com
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/15/02 22:55:11 GMT

Arrowhead Making
I just came across an internet tutorial for making arrowheads. (at least 2 people asked for such information in the last 9 days).The U.R.L. is
The demonstration is done by Tim Lively a skilled knife maker (and Neotribalist).
Have a look if you are curious or seriously interested. We might need a few of those warheads for Iraq.
   slag - Monday, 09/16/02 02:16:03 GMT

I'm trying to find a tomahawk drift (medium size). I've checked the sources that I've seen listed Kayne & Son, Centaur (readers say no) and haven't been able to locate Valley Forge (other than the historical location). Thanks
   Bob - Monday, 09/16/02 02:42:29 GMT

How about it Great Guru.
I would love to see an I-Forge demonstration on the making of several different types of drifts for, hammers, other smithing tools (e. g. sets?), and tomahawks.
Spec. ops. could use some of the latter implements
to "caress"/"massage" Al Khaida members and, perhaps,
some Iraqis too.
Up a ways North of you's (The G. W. N. to be exact).
Don't laugh a warhawk is a surprisingly effective weapon, for close up work. (ask any Viking).
   slag - Monday, 09/16/02 02:57:15 GMT

Valley Forge & Welding


Ask Jerry for a catalog.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/16/02 03:12:12 GMT

WarHawk = Entrenching Tool

Sharpen one side of the digging point, and the same side of the shovel. Works fine for close in work, as many and infantryman will tell you.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/16/02 03:13:44 GMT

Drifts: There WAS a fellow making and selling eye drifts. They were rough cast (ductile iron I think) sold as-is and you had to finish them.

Drifts, are like the eyes in handled tools NON-STANDARD and every manufacturer and smith has their own patterns. Try buying a hammer ANYWHERE and a handle from the same source and see if they fit. . . They generaly do not. Large manufacturers buy handles made to fit THEIR eye drifts small manufacturers (us smiths) make our own handles or refit off the shelf handles. . .

A drift is 8" to a foot long and has a center section about 3" long the same cross section as the hole you want to fit be it rectangular, round, oval, teardrop. Good ones are made from tool steel. From the straight section the drift tapers to both ends ending up about half the size of the center section. Rectangular and tear drop (axe) drifts are rounder on the ends than in the middle (no sharp details). Good drifts are filed and ground smooth before hardening and then cleaned and polished afterwards.

This is the world's simplest tool and like many smithing tools (decorative eye, scale and nose punches) they are made by the smith to suit their purpose at the time. Put they should be made in advance of the need just as many other tools are.
   - guru - Monday, 09/16/02 03:45:58 GMT

Wrong term.
Hatchet or hand axe does the job
   slag - Monday, 09/16/02 06:37:11 GMT

I am a blacksmithing hobbyist from israel,after taking a short course with hoffi.
I would like to know the method of making long, elegant twists {organic} in 10 /12 mm cold steel of lets say 2m length, cold .I have done this hot but its a very lengthy process.please also touch on your hot method, I'm sure you could have a different approach.
   Laurence - Monday, 09/16/02 09:57:43 GMT

Long Twists: Laurence, Long cold twists are done either in a fixture that clamps one end and supports the other OR in a machine. When done by hand a long wrench is used OR a large handwheel like a ship's wheel. Cold twists are uniform and slightly mechanical looking to those that know the difference. Variable rate twists or twists in tapered stock must be done hot. Variable rate twists occur naturaly in hot material where the temperature varies. The same occurs in tapered stock but is difficult to control. Twists in taperd stock must be made in short controlled segments.

Cold twisting machines are often built from old pipe threading machines. The one thing to be aware of when building a twisting machine is that the bar becomes shorter as you twist it and one end must be able to move freely. It is not unusual to wreck the head stock bearings in a twisting machine by forgeting (or not knowing) that this occurs.
   - guru - Monday, 09/16/02 14:48:46 GMT

Drifts- Mark Asprey of the Calif. Blacksmith Assoc. taught us a nifty drift trick at a gathering last year.
Take 8" pieces of 7/8" round and 3/4" round. Smash the 7/8" in the center till it is 5/8" thick. It will be one inch wide at that point.Taper both ends down until they fit in the hole your slot punch makes.
Take the 3/4" round, smash it in the center, till it's 1/2"x7/8", taper both ends.
Polish the nasties off, it helps to use hi-temp anti-sieze on the drift when pounding in, go from both sides and stop just before the thickest part of the drift to get the desired hourglass shape in your hammerhead. I've been using the small one for hawks and handled tools, the big one for 1 - 3 pound hammers, they seem to take to store bought handles with not to much sanding.
   mike-hr - Monday, 09/16/02 16:21:45 GMT

Where can I acquire a plan to build an oil fire forge? The United States Navy used these to train blacksmiths in California in the 1940's. Can you help with a referral on a plan to construct?
   Jack Shanahan - Monday, 09/16/02 17:39:27 GMT

Oil Forge Plans: Jack, We had a plan submitted to us several years ago but the drawings needed work to post them and I never got around to it. It also lacked many details.

Oil forges burn heating oil and deisel fuel.

The forge was a used gun type burner from a domestic oil furnace. It was placed next to a refractory brick enclosure of about 2 cubic foot volume. The burner duct sloped down hill slightly into the forge so that any liquid oil that collected in the burner duct would run into the forge.

Our man in New Zealand built one by modifying his kaowool lined gas forge. His forge has a hinged door with vents. It runs VERY hot and can be used for forge welding.

Oil forges have also been built with "drip" burners. A forge blower is attached to a refractory enclosure and a small oil line with a metering valve is installed so that oil drips into the air flow and is blown into the forge.

I have a picture somewhere of a commercial oil forge built atop an oil tank. The forge looked like a typical metal framed refractory lined forge. It had a blower with oil metering valve as above. The oil tank had a hand pump for pressurizing it
   - guru - Monday, 09/16/02 20:13:20 GMT

Keith, where are you at? I can probably dig up some one from the Ironmasters conference if you are in the US or refer you to some folk in the UK if you are over there.

I've helped run a bloomery a number of times and if you can get a pic posted I'd give it a WAG.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 09/16/02 20:53:33 GMT

Thanks for your help on my term paper. Mr. Harkness said it was very interesting. He gave the paper a B+. He never gives an A for anything. But he gave me detention because I was supposed to do the research in the library, not the Internet. Mr. Harkness is a dweeb.
   - melissa - Tuesday, 09/17/02 04:53:34 GMT

the Guru IS a library.
Besides many of us have large libraries readily consulted, and some others at this site carry at least one library in their head (= years of experience). And if this pedagogue only worships academic degrees we have a number of folks that have more of them (for what they're worth), than he has. And the number of academic degrees and technical degrees and experience,in the aggregate, resident at this site is more than adequate.
And a few more miles ahead of your alledged teacher.
Steaming at the collar.
   slag - Tuesday, 09/17/02 06:17:49 GMT

Right on and Amen, Slag! 3dogs.
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 09/17/02 07:03:29 GMT

The people who worship at the altar of the printed word are legion. And stupid.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 09/17/02 11:36:06 GMT

I recently purchased a old forge. Do I need to line the cast iron bed. There is a cast iron ring that is above the clinker breaker that is loose.
   Gerry W. Jones - Tuesday, 09/17/02 12:07:28 GMT

Well the teacher may be trying to teach *research methodology* as a major part of doing the paper and sad to say the web is not the best place to get information, case in point somone posting on the other site the swordmaking webpage that tells folks that cold straightening a leaf spring and riviting the bolt hole closed makes for a superior sword blade....

I have kids in school and they are required to use multiple *types* of sources in a project, hopefully working on it ahead of time and not at 9pm before due day hitting the web for fast info and not having time to vet it.

Thomas Part of school is learning how to follow directions when required; but not let that stop you from branching out on your own.
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/17/02 13:20:38 GMT

I am planning to use Jock Dempsey's side draft forge hood which has a 10" round hole at the top. I have a metal shed (4x4s with 2 ft center nailers) and was wondering if I could just run the 10" pipe through the steel wall?
   Gale Livelsberger - Tuesday, 09/17/02 15:56:46 GMT

Requirements: I was going to say something but did not. . . If the teacher wanted the student to find the information in the library then that was a requirement of the assignment. If the teacher had said to find someone and interview them to get your answers, then THAT would be requirement of the assignment. The methodology schools teach is often the actual subject.

And, Thomas is right, a LOT of information on the web is VERY dubius. We try to avoid that here but I KNOW I have made a few bloopers. . . we eventualy correct them but a searcher may not always find the corrections.

I also TRY to avoid doing assignments for students. However, this was one where there was little likelyhood of finding an answer in a High School Library (or even a public library). But the assignment MAY have been to find out when the ball bearing was invented by asking a different question (IF the question was accurately relayed to us). THEN the assignment becomes a test of logic.

How were ball bearings made during the Colonial period? Generaly they were not, but the invention is said to date from the Roman era (40 BC). Still, they were VERY rare. In the late 1800's the bicycle popularized the use of the light and efficient ball bearing. This was also the height of the Industrial Revolution and specialized machinery would have been applied to making and grinding the balls. There are probably many patents on ball making machinery from this era. But ball bearings did not become popular in machinery until the early 1900's and the automobile. Although not used in engines they were used for every other turning part from the wheels and transmission to the stearing. SKF, Timken and Fafnir developed ultra precsion bearing manufacturing techniques at that time. The high production needs of the automobile and truck industry made inexpensive high quality ball and roller bearings available for many other applications.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/17/02 16:59:54 GMT

Flue in Sheet Metal Building: Gale, It would probably work BUT. . . most building codes (which specificaly cover wood stoves but not forges) require at least 24 to 30" between hot surfaces and flamable surfaces (like your framing). OR you need a masonry flue and IT is supposed to have a 2" clearance filled with rock wool between it and framing. This is from memory and archaic references. . .

Even when building codes do not apply or are not being enforced you should remember they are MINIMUM safety and engineering requirements. You should not do less.

Triple wall devices are also made for penetrations of this type. I've seen them but I'm not sure where to get them. Check with suppliers of insert and free standing type fireplaces and flues. They carry the tripple wall pipe. What you would probably need is one length (48") and the penetration hardware or flange.

Beware of devices for steel buildings. They expect steel framing as well as sheathing.

If a triple wall penetration device is not available it would not be hard to make. But remember that if it is not UL rated then is won't meet applicable building codes or conditions of your fire insurance.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/17/02 17:15:52 GMT

Flue Options: Gale, You could achieve the necessary clearance by removing one stud. This would require framing an opening like for a window with a header at the top (also spaced the necesary distance above the flue). Steel framing could be used on either side of the penetration to support the header and to give some support for the sheet metal.
This is a work-around but it would provide the necessary margin of safety without special hardware (triple wall penetration). It is not CODE but it would work. Not being a code method means you are on your own if something goes wrong.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/17/02 17:27:56 GMT

Flue Options: Gee, why didn't I just build my shed out of cement blocks? Thanks for the information. I do want to do a safe installation. I was looking over Lowes Do-It-Yourself books over lunch and couldn't find a single book on wood stove (or forge) installation. They didn't even have 10" stove pipe- guess I could just roll my own Ha, Ha.
   Gale Livelsberger - Tuesday, 09/17/02 18:53:10 GMT

Steel Alloy Components:
I just bumped into a very nice one-pager that lists various steel alloys and the element % composition of each. The information was taken from Machinery's Handbook (edition # 24), and An Enco Manufacturing Catalogue. (says the author/compiler).
The only limitation is that the alloys, that are covered, are cutlers' alloys (=knife makers), so some, other, blacksmithing alloys do not appear.
Perhaps we can expand the table and reshape/recast it (to avoid copyright problems, ((unlikely, but care is a virtue)) ). Permission to use the list another possible option.
I believe that the table was compiled by Mr.Tim Lively, an accomplished master cutler and a generous man.
The U.R.L. is
On another subject, I just bought an unused or barely used copy of the twenty fifth edition of Michinery's Handbook for $30.00.
I bring this subject up, not to gloat. My purpose is to suggest a way to get such books at good prices, for the rest of blacksmithing community (and any other people that read this website).
Regularly consult a web metasite whose u.r.l. is, www.2ndhand.org.uk/cgi/books.cgi
This site simultaneously searches the following used booksites:
Abebooks, Abebooks England, Abebooks Scotland, Alibris, Bibliofind, Biblia, Powells, Half.com, (E-Bays discount book operation), Gemm, Barnes & Nobel (usually useless, they say they have the text and list junk), Biblion,
W. H. Smith,
Not bad for one typed in search.
Regular checking often pays off, and can beat E-Bay prices.
Regards to all,
   slag - Tuesday, 09/17/02 19:24:49 GMT

Finding Books: Some books are very good bargains but most book sellers know the value of their inventory. Ebay has real bargains IF you are very selective! Otherwise you will end up paying too much.

I've recently purchased a number of rare locksmithing books via bookfinder.com which also checks numerous other databases. Books have come through Abebooks, half.ebay and directly through dealers. None were low cost as they were ALL rare and out of print. Two were printed in the 1800's in Britian and another was originaly German and printed ONCE in English in low numbers.

The point? Many rare books that would otherwise be impossible to find are now easily obtained (for a price) via the Internet. But books that are still in print are often available for half of list or less. And in the case of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK most of those copies are almost unused and in like new condition. Even the old 5th Edition I have still has pages that haven't been looked at. . . the gilding between pages is still unbroken in many places!
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/17/02 20:20:15 GMT


I congratulate you on your achievement of the B+ for your paper. That you also received detention for not following the instructions is the mark of a strict, though not necessarily unfair, instructor. I have been a teacher before and I can tell you from my experience that in many instances, the purpose of an assignment is more than just digging up some information and writing it down. It is also important to learn different ways of getting information. Perhaps that is why your instructor wanted you to use the library. It might not hurt to go to the library and see if they have anything at all on the subject, even though the assignment is completed. Who knows, you might find something fascinating.

Many times, using a web search for information only gives you what you ask for, and none of the peripheral information that you would also discover if you were researching your topic in printed media. Those little bibliographical notes often lead to really interesting discoveries!

You are also to be commended on your manners! (Though calling the teacher a "dweeb" might be a mite rude, no matter how accurate it may be.) I have seen dozens and dozens of young people come here to ask for help with information, and you are one of a very few I have seen who took the trouble to post a "thank you". On behalf of all of us who try to give useful answers here, I say "You're very welcome!"
   vicopper - Tuesday, 09/17/02 20:58:31 GMT

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