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

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from September 24 - 30, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Forge Repair: Yes, the NC-TOOL forges are lined with a Kaowool type product. To repair minor damage, clean put debris, coat hole with ITC-100, then stuff in some scrap Kaowool to fill damage then coat surface with ITC-100. To prevent further damage you may want to apply several coats of ITC-100 firing beteween coats.

Next weekend we will be repairing and coating three NC-TOOL forges in my shop. Two are nearly new forges with low use but some minor poking damage and the third will be a complete reline job. Then next week we will have a photo report on the entire process.

Since a lot of folks only need a small patch of Kaowool to make repairs we will be offering forge "patch kits" that include a pint of ITC-100, ITC-213 in a 2oz jar, some stainless screws and fender washers and a 12x12x1" piece of Kaowool. The SS hardware is for larger forges that have trouble with sagging roof linings. One package for one money.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/24/02 00:07:55 GMT

OTG #2 shades: I will check on the availability but cannot promise anything. Like many deals there are often minimum orders involved and I doubt that I can afford to set on an inventory that I may not sell on years. . . we will see.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/24/02 00:11:29 GMT

Hi, to you all its been a while. I had a load of coal in my bin but all there is left is a lot of fine coal, tried to use it since there is so much of it and to me it would be a waste. Tried to use it in the forge but the plower just lifts it out of pot even at low fan,tried all kinds of ways to contain it but without success. I'm sure there is someone out there that had tried it and made it work for you,would you share you triumph with me? My former problem with my EX smoky forge I have solved which I will share with anyone that may also have such a smoky forge as I had. I will address it on an other day. Thank you
   - heinz - Tuesday, 09/24/02 01:30:17 GMT

take care when forging or torch cutting old hollow stock, drill rod, etc. lest it have a blockage inside that turns the section you are heating into a bomb.
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 09/24/02 03:49:19 GMT

Fine Coal
Try a binder for the coal powder. Mix up a thick solution of sugar in water(tosyrupy consistency), and mix it thoroughly with the coal fines. Molasses is another possible binder.
Use a good respirator while working with the coal dust. You do not want to get black lung disease. (= pneumoconiosis)(the respirator should have a particulate or dust cartridge). Do NOT rely on the disposable paper or cloth masks that are sold at building centers they are useless, and illegal in many states, for worksites.
The coal powder/binder mixture should be made up so that it is semi hard but still pliable. Role out the material into ropes of a suitable diameter and then cut ithem to the desired size.
Allow the pieces to dry thoroughly. You may want to heat the dried pieces in an oven to make sure that the moisture is gone. But the temperature should NOT be too high, or the binder (sugar, molasses, etc.) could catch fire.
Do NOT go away while you are heating it. You do not want to burn down your smithy or house.
The amalgamated coal/binder pieces must be thoroughly dry before smithing.
If the material is not completely dry the moisture in the center will turn to steam. The escaping steam could encounter resistence from the hardened outer surface or skin and the pieces will blow up.
Wear eye protection when testing the stuff.
If you give the method a try let us know how it works out. Do tell us the amounts of binder and coal powder used.
regards to all.
From the G. W. N.
   slag - Tuesday, 09/24/02 04:22:54 GMT

If you throw insome sawdust, old paper, dirt and lawn clippings to slag's recipe above, you'll have about what is usually sold as barbecue briquettes. Which is why I don't use them for anything. The wood products make them not much good for smithing, and the coal makes them not good for eating. It does seem to me that slag's recipe should work for aggregating coal fines into something useable for smithing. If I ever discover coal here, I'll try it.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 09/24/02 06:12:59 GMT

Ancient Crucible Steel: Continued.
The Guru has indicated an interest in saving my and Mr. Powers notes on this subject.
Because of this, I am posting some more information on these ancient crucible steel processes and also commenting on a few of Mr. Power's observations based upon my my previous note.
As already stated, the design of a suitable crucible was the most difficult hurdle to jump in practicing any of the described crucible steel processes.
In Southern India,
Crucible steel vessels were made from common and with a high content of rice husks. The rice husks burned out during the firing of the iron in those sealed crucibles in a very hot furnace. The temperatures were
At least as high as 1400 degrees C and probably a good deal higher. The rice husk charring reduced most of the iron compounds in the clayto metallic iron. This produced a much more refractory clay vessel. That is, a vessel able to withstand much higher temperatures. The voids that were left, where the rice hulls burned out, left a clay body that could better withstand the thermal stress of the process. In other words, survive the expansion which happened during heating and the contraction when the clay crucibles cooled, after the heat was stopped.
There is some evidence that the process was in full "blast" at least as early as 300 A. D. when it was described by a Roman alchemist named Zosimos of Alexandria. (in what is now modern Egypt).
There is other evidence that the process was practiced hundreds of years earlier than that date.
It should be noted that the various crucible steel making processes (3 of which have already been described) yielded a product that was a slag free uniform steel of between 1 and 2 percent carbon. It is also known that smiths, of the time, could easily reduce the carbon content by decarburisation. (described already)
The steel makers of Sri Lanka,
formerly called Ceylon, also produced great amounts of crucible steel especially in Mediaeval times (this steel was a substantial percentage of the steel used by the Persians and Arabs to make Damascus steel.)
Recent discoveries, of crucible steel making, were made at a site located North East of the central Highlands. It yielded crucibles of a different composition. (G. Juleff 1997, H M S News 35, 3)than the South Indian vessels.
The clay had a lot of rice hulls in it. But that clay was not a common clay like that of Southern India. It was a clay that had a high percentage of iron oxides. The iron oxides were reduced to strong metallic iron, in the intensely hot reducing atmosphere, of the sealed crucible, in the furnace. This Sri Lankan foundry site is contempoareous with the steel making operations at Merv thousands of miles north. (as early as 800 A.D.).
As Mr. Powers has pointed out, the crucibles of Merv did not have any rice husks and almost no iron.
Let me take one step back and describe Merv first.
Scientists have recently (1992), discovered evidence of an extensive crucible steel manufacture dating back to the 800's and 900's A.D.
Merv is located at an oasis in the middle of the Kara Kum desert in what is now present day Turmenistan. (located north of Afghanistan. Merv was a camel stop and major trading post on the silk road that stretched from ancient China to Arabia and Eastern Europe. (Marco Polo and his family travelled along it in the 1300's).
Dr. Georgina Herrmann and her associate archaeologists were excavating the Merv site and got the shock of a lifetime. They dug up the earliest known Islamic metalworking foundry yet found. Microanalysis of glassy crucible slags found tiny cast iron inclusions and some slags had wrought iron inclusions. Small droplets of steel were also found.
The foundry was making crucible steel by the co-fusion process before the Middle Ages.
(the analysis was done by archeometallurgists Dr. J. Merkel and his student Ann Feuerbach, (mentioned by Mr. Powers)).
This manufacture was several hundreds of years before the Middle age wootz and damascus steel manufactures of Syria and India.
It is incredible to realise that Merv has none of the raw material needed to make crucible steel. No cast iron, wrought iron, charcoal fuel, nor wood to make charcoal, nor clay (not even rice husks), to make the crucibles for the process! It was all imported material. (and no rice husks were used, as Mr. Powers points out).
Now, finally, I get to make my point. No rice husks were used.
The crucible shards (i.e. broken pieces), were made of a mixture of lots of alumina (= Al2O3), about 30%, and silica (= silicon dioxide). When melted together, these two chemicals produce a refractory with a very high melting point. These shards are the oldest true refractories yet found!
No rice husks nor iron in those crucibles.
The same crucible material was also found at another Islamic foundry, Achsiket in the Fergana Basin in Ubekistan, also north of Afganistan. That site produced crucible steel by the carburisation process. (please see my previous note if you are anxious to learn the details of that process, (I'm certain most of you are just dying to find out all about it). That site operated from the 800's to the 1300's.
Let me change the subject since I've done this one to death.
It should be noted that the co-fusion crucible steel process required wrought iron. It also required cast iron. Cast iron was thought to be a relatively "modern" substance. But recent new discoveries are beginning to change that belief.
Recent finds have dated cast iron production in the Swabian Alps to the period between the 11'th -13'th century (this was done by noting the decrease of iron in the slags)Blast furnaces must have been operating in that area at that time to make the cast iron. Blast furnace remains have been found, in Sweden, dating to the 12'th -13'th centuries. (these dates are well before the late 14'th century thought to be when they when the blast furnace was first invented).

In any event, a solid state iron smelting bloomery furnace can get hot enough to produce molten cast iron.
The discoveries of high quality homogeneous slag free steel at Hamwic England (near present day Southampton) in the 8'th century, has already been described. These Saxon smiths knew exactly what they were doing with that cast iron when they reduced it's carbon content, by blowing air over it. This =decarburisation lowered the 3-4% cast iron's carbon content to a usable 2% carbon or lower.
To get below 2% steel, they had to raise the temperasture a little.
Recently (1999), Dr. Cuccini Cozza, and Dr. Fluzin reported finding evidence that high carbon steels may have been made by decarburising bloomer derived cast iron form the late Roman/dark ages period about circa 400 A.D. (I'll provide these journal references, upon request, it is about a meter long).
Dr. R. Tylecote (1971) considered several pre-medieval cast iron discoveries to be accidentally produced waste. With recent discoveries, archaeo-metallurgical scientists are beginnig to believe that decarburisation of cast iron, to make steel, was used at a low level from ancient times and at many places until the advent of the modern blast furnace, which provided vast amounts of cast iron.
That does it for now.
I hope that all this material can be gathered together and made available, at this site, for those smiths who are interested in the subject of the legacy, to us, of our forebears.

   slag - Tuesday, 09/24/02 08:05:24 GMT

If you can find OTG's I'm in for three pair. I always buy multiple pair of glasses. When they get scratched to the point where I want to see clearly I replace them without having to wait.
   Harley - Tuesday, 09/24/02 08:32:53 GMT

I am looking for information on how to consistently form the eye of strap hinges on cold rolled steel. Is there some sort of jig that can be made?
   sam - Tuesday, 09/24/02 10:02:29 GMT


Good stuff. It amazes me how much this area of study has progressed in the last 20 years, and the actual sophistication of our forebears. The early medieval period is referred to as the "dark ages" as much because of our own ignorance of what really occurred, rather than the "benighted" condition of some of our mutual ancestors.

The metalwork from the classical and early medieval periods in Europe and South Asia (not to mention China, which is a world of its own) shows a consistent growth in skill and sophistication. On the other hand, very few Anglo-Saxons lived past 50. Life may have been "brutish and short" in its way, but that is not to imply that the people were stupid. It is a challenge, even with our knowledge and tools, to reproduce some of their work. We must also remember that many of the "wonderful things" that we see in the books and museums were made for the powerful and wealthy. Most folks got by with somewhat less fancy rigs.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 09/24/02 13:15:19 GMT

Is anyone from South Carolina going to Quad State this weekend? If so, would they be willilng to take an anvil back to SC for me? I was contacted by someone there who is in the market for an anvil and I am trying to keep shipping to a minimum. Thanks a lot.
   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 09/24/02 13:51:00 GMT

I am probably out of luck as it seems that there is still too much information being unearthed to commit to print, but if you know of a good book (or a couple books) that gives a good overview of the history of iron up to the industrial revolution I would appreciate it. (In a little less detail than you go into, but technical is ok.)
Also, you were a bit unclear about the Merv site, did they use rice husks??? ;)
   Jovan - Tuesday, 09/24/02 14:19:26 GMT

Guru, More on post vise springs. Thanks for the info on forging a spring from auotmotive leaf spring Fri 9/20. I'll give it shot. There was no mention of heat treatment once the critter is forged, though. Got any more on that?
We all had a great time at the CBA Jefferson Smith's Hammer-In at Willow Creek, CA last weekend. Were you there??
Thanks again.
   Wendy - Tuesday, 09/24/02 15:40:48 GMT

Dang it, Slag, you got my dander up, and now i want to try making some iron. has anyone done this at home?
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 09/24/02 15:57:04 GMT

Coal Dust
What I have found worked for me when I had coal that was 90%+ fines , was to mix it with water to bout the slop of wet concrete and put it on the fire that way and coke it in the forge. Be warned it does produce a lot of smoke and coalgas, don't stop blowing till most of it is converted.
Another way is to make a stiff mix of fines and water, pack it around a soup can over the airinlet and keep adding the wet coal to the outside and moving the coked stuff in to burn. It just takes a little planning at the end of the day so that you have enough coke left to get the next fire started.
   - JimG - Tuesday, 09/24/02 16:05:56 GMT

Mike-hr; I've been involved in bloomery experiments for most of the past 10 years with a group that does it in their backyard and at Pennsic.

For works on the subject "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" Rehder, includes plans for a small bloomery in it. Tylecote's "Metallurgy in Archeology" has some good info in it. "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel" C.S.Smith is a collection of period sources in translation covering 1539-1789 (when someone finally said *its *CARBON* that makes iron into steel*) The earlier parts are "magic" and the latter are the tedious experiments that finally proved what was going on.

Most of the breaking info is not in the books yet and has to be dredged from the journals and academic conferences---I attended the Ironmasters Conference and the ICMS last spring just to catch up on some of the recent stuff.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/24/02 16:44:47 GMT

While perusing the Machinery's Handbook I came across average weights of fuels. Coal, Coke, and Charcoal are given as 1 ton=2240 pounds. Thats seems odd to me. Any idea as to what gives? That is in both the 11th and 15th edition so I first dismissed as a typo.
   Mills - Tuesday, 09/24/02 16:48:55 GMT

I've seen alot of discussion about using propane for a fuel supply on a forge, is it possible instead to use natural gas on a forge that would be permanetly installed?

   Chris - Tuesday, 09/24/02 17:33:36 GMT

On quality of knife blade steel, if you can answer, please.
I lost a "gerber" knife a had for over 20 years. I found it was easy to keep sharp and I am now looking for a knife whose steel is easy to sharpen and keep sharp. Can you direct me to your opinion on knife manufacturers for what I am looking for? Thanks Greg Mendoza
   Gregory Mendoza - Tuesday, 09/24/02 17:34:17 GMT

Sam.. I have a bender along the lines of the one that is shown in the Donald Streeter book. You did not mention if you want to roll the eyes cold or to bend them for forge welding. I think Streeters can be used for both although I've only used mine for welding. Also what size stock are you wanting to bend? There is another device that you drive your stock into cold to make an eye. The Streeter book is pretty good. Hard to see sometimes but good.
   - Pete-Raven - Tuesday, 09/24/02 17:40:39 GMT

Gregory: I've got experience here too. I've used both NG and propane. I'm using LP now. I liked NG because I did not have to fuss with the little bottles. I also do not think it gets quite as hot as LP but w/good burner design an a well insulated forge it works just fine. I would go back to NG if available.
   - Pete-Raven - Tuesday, 09/24/02 17:48:49 GMT

RE: Gerber Knives. Why not buy another Gerber knife? I own 4 of them for the same reason you described. Gerber flat grinds the blades where many other manufacturers hollow grind them. This shape is one of the reasons it sharpens easier and stays sharp. If you don't mind a bit of extra cleaning and oiling, carbon steel blades are easier to sharpen and take a finer edge than stainless steel blades.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/24/02 18:03:10 GMT

Wendy, The modern car springs, which are often a silicon-manganese/chromium steel have enough spring by air cooling to push the movable jaw open.
Mills, It's just another kind of ton in the Customary U.S. system, termed a "long ton". It can be derived by multiplying 1.12 times our common short ton, 2000 pounds. I found it in the dictionary.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/24/02 18:59:00 GMT

Long ton---doesn't that 112 number ring a bell? It's the old hundred weight that old english anvils were marked in so a long ton is just 20 hundredweights or 160 stone...

Back in Jr High all the forges were Johnson NG forges, you have to push a bit more NG through to equal propane but it's conviently piped to the shop...

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/24/02 19:35:37 GMT

I live in a small town Alberta. Im interested in learning the trade but am unable to locate a local smith to learn from. If any one is or knows of a smith in the Claresholm or Nanton area let me know thanks.
   Travis - Tuesday, 09/24/02 19:38:02 GMT

Gregory: Was out in the shop and remembered something else. House gas pressure is less than you will need to run a forge. You will need two regulators if you have water heaters, household heat etc. My gas co. at the time had no problem w/this and hooked it up for free. Call and talk to an engineer. The guy I got was very helpful.
   - Pete-Raven - Tuesday, 09/24/02 19:46:51 GMT

Jovan Rice Husks
NO rice husks were used in the clay crucibles at Merv nor at
Achsiket. These smiths/foundry men developed their own refractory material for their crucibles. There is no rice cultivation in the areas north of Afganistan. The area is too dry. Rice requires a lot of moisture for it's cultivation. (indeed it is grown in flooded fields during the first portion of it's life and then it is transplanted Into drier ground.)
(for all the trivia buffs, at this site, Texas is the biggest rice growing area in the world).
Rice has been used by Indian metal workers (using all kinds of metals), for millenia, as a metal polishing substance for metals.
For a good reasonably up to date book on the subject, try Early Metal Mining and Production by Dr. Paul Craddock. Many of his recent research papers and those of his colleagues, at the British Museum and at University College London are up to date, and surprisingly readable. (if you are really interested I can send you the citations of some of those papers). I relied on this book for a portion of the information posted above. It is an expensive book. Try to get it on interlibrary loan and read/copy the iron section in it. (I bet you will read the whole book it is very readable, comprehensive, and fascinating.) Incidentally, I also used numerous published research papers on archaeo- metallurgy to prepare the notes that I posted. All of the information, in the note, came from scientifically credible sources.
I suppose that I could have included a bibliography. But I am basically lazy, and it is tedious job, and I think that I have, already, used far too much bandwidth on this subject. (severely trying, no doubt, the Guru's patience).
Mr. Blackistone (Atli),is correct. The amount of weaponry that was made from crucible steel, in the Dark and Medieval Ages, was a tiny fraction of total weaponry production. Crucible steel was very expensive, and thus only the nobility and wealthy could afford it. Cast iron (used by many of these processes), was usually made in a bloomery furnace or "advanced" bloomery furnace (probably taller than the regular furnace and possibly using a higher fuel to iron ore ratio, it was a forerunner to the later blast furnace). That manufacture was primitive and wasteful of natural resourses, (read charcoal), even then. The process, and the subsequent decarburising steps, used up a huge amount of fuel and was very labour intensive (even in those cheap labour days). The Hamwic Saxon smiths finally abandoned the making of their superior steel. This was probably due to its cost even though it is three times stronger than the contemporary swords made of "regular" steel, of that day.
A lot of of previously, discovered cast iron fragments, and samples have recently been re-examined under a microscope (etc.), and found to have crystal structures that show that they were not chance unusable debris. The crystal structure indicates forging and heat treatment. In other words, these samples were deliberately smithed objects.
I do not for one minute want to give the impression that archaeological metallurgists and field archaeologists did a sloppy job. It is notoriously difficult to spot bloomery furnace remains. They are often only a small depression in the ground with some attendant slag or slag nearby and, sometimes, stones that were part of the structure. (early bloomery furnaces were quite small and very easy to miss). The written records of the first 1000 years A.D. are very meager, very little has survived. Especially information that concerns everday life and craft processes.
Even early medieval records are only just a little more extensive. It is no wonder that we are slowly revising our knowlege and impression of those people that lived so long ago. Revising it in light of knew archaeological finds made in recent fieldwork.
Recent, archaeological discoveries in England (I believe "ancient" York , a viking settlement initially called Yorvik), have found that conditions in the dark ages were not as "brutish" as previously believed. Scientists have discovered that tthe inhabitants had a much more varied diet than previously believed. Many people survived to reasonable old age. Many more than was thought previously. A surprisingly varied and plentiful supply of trade goods were found there, far more than expected, even with the deteriorating of the existing, Roman built, road system in the area that is today England.
Average life span calculations are plagued with the distorting component of infant and child death. When that component is removed, from the averaging process, the average life span calculations rise substantially. (in other words many children died of communicacable childhood diseases, such as measles, mumps, chickenpox, diphtheria etc.) People lived longer than thought if they could survive infancy, and avoid later emploment injuries. Women, however, still had a 25% chance in childberth until the late 1800's. Also, the majority of people lived more healthily in rural areas than the unsanitary cities, which were small at that time.
I like to quote a statistic, occasionally. The average medieval farmer and artisan worked in essance only half the year. the other half (the days are intermingled), was taken up with religious holidays, where no work was done and people could get some rest. Today, more and more of us are expected to multitask (because colleagues have been fired during downsizing. And many people are coerced into working unpaid overtime at their jobs. (about 5 days worth each month on average). That is not progress.
Please don't get me wrong. The average person, in the Dark Ages had to put up with frequent wars between petty chiefs and kingdoms. (the modern nation states developed in the years from the 10'th to the 14'th centuries.) (a nation state could have standing armies that could defeat regular raids by groups like the Scandivaian Vikings, Attila's and Alaric's Hordes etc. etc,)
Mr. Blackistone mentions China and it's sophisticated and very different metallurgical history. I will not cover that subject now. But permit me to make several intriguiging points. China was making huge amounts of cast iron well before the Christiann Era's beginning (1 A.D.). They were malleablising and also decarburising white cast iron to workable steel and even carbonless (elemental iron), as early as 100 B.C. (it is about that time when they ceased making cast iron by the use of bloomery furnaces.)
The Chinese had a huge metallurgical advantage over every other culture. They have a very special refractory clay. That clay was derived from the enormous loess clay deposits found in much of central China. Loess clays experience almost no heat distortion. That makes, that material superb for crucibles and casting molds that would not distort during pouring and cooling.
That material allowed them to pour very sophisticaed bronze castings using stacked multi component molds. That ancient technology and knowlege was applied to iron and steel manufacture later on.
Incredibly, the chinese did not use the lost wax casting method for hundreds of years. They would have used it, had they ,independently, invented it or learned about it from other cultures.
Bloomery iron has been recently made by a fair number of different groups of people, in a number of places (including a Uinversity in England). The neotribal gang have compiled a list of web site u r l 's on the subject. Some of those sites are well worth a careful read (and picture show). One group has been conducting bloomery runs for over ten years. Some of them have far surpassed academic calculations of % iron yield from iron ore, and amount of charcoal fuel used by a bloomery furnace.
Indeed, these smelting enthusiasts get substantially better yields than the smelting experiments done by some academic researchers in the 1980's. (actually getting "anciently made commercial" yields, per unit of fuel expended, where the PhD's did not).
I just noticed that Mr. Powers has mentioned several of the sites that, I was referring to.
Let me add one caution, Dr R. Tylecote's experiments and recipes are not up to date, anymore.
Finally a note to Mr. Powers and to Mr. Blackistone. Thank you, for your input on this subject, it is appreciated. I am not on the "Arch-metals" list. I did not know of its existence. A url or refernce would be greatly appreciated. I would also be very happy to exchange references and information on this fast changing area of science, with you and anyone else that is interested in this fascinating technological subject.
Best regards to all.
Join Cybersmith's International, thus helping to keep this very valuable website alive.
   slag - Tuesday, 09/24/02 20:19:47 GMT

BUSY BUSY: . . I've been gone for three days and the server broke while I was gone. . . been busy trying to keep up. Looks like others have taken care of the questions here.

Alberta Smiths: Travis there are a BUNCH of smiths in Alberta considering the small population. Dave Manzer the fellow that created the Little Giant Video on our review and sales page is in Peers. We host a page for the North Alberta Blacksmiths Guild that is NOT up to date but you still may want to contact the fellow listed as president. See ABANA-Chapter.com.

In most parts of the world including the densly populated parts of the U.S. is is not unusual for a smith to travel hundreds of miles to meet other smiths.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/24/02 21:04:49 GMT

Long TON

Thomas is right. A long ton = 20 hundred weights. But guess what?

1 Long tonne = 1.01605 Metric Ton (1000 kg). . It is even closer when you round pounds to kg and use 2.2 to 1. Materials sold and shiped in bulk by the hundreds of tons can be discussed without regard to conversion from metric to English.

Very close to the same! Less than 2% difference and when you are speaking tons of capacity or a quantity that is usualy within the margin of error.

In my old Mass2 program the report had units from miligrams, grains (1/7000 pound) and Troy ounces to long tonnes and metric tons.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/24/02 21:27:05 GMT

I need info in TIG welding titainium. I have welded aluminum, stainless steel, and inconel but no titainium. What kind of tungsten do I need pure tungsten, 2% thorium tungsten, etc.? What polarity AC, DC-, DC+ ? What kind of sheilding gas Argon? Do you have to weld titainium in an atmospheric bubble? Any info would be helpful. Thank you>
   Dale - Wednesday, 09/25/02 00:04:06 GMT

I have been making the rusian rose shown in the iforge demo with quite some success ( got me out of trouble with the girly and no mistake!) and have made a few for demonstation, trouble is they are much too popular and this is where the quandry comes in. I have devised a way in which i can make a very nice rose in about 10 mins. now i hope i don't offend anyone with this... what i do is weld a pre cut srip of 1mm sheet to a 6 mm rod. drill a 3mm hole in the just below where the strip joins. i also make a pre cut a leaf with about 8mm of stalk and cold chilsel the veins. I made a batch of ten of these, when someone wants one it goes straight into the forge, textured with a small ball pein, rolled, the base of the flower is rounded to cover the coil, the petals teased with pliers and finaly the stalk of the leaf pushed through the 3mm hole and hammered in place, a few seconds work wih a small shapened cross pein to roughhen the stem and the whole lot is heated, wire brushed, waxed and presented to a delighted young lady with a flourish.... ok now is this just a con and come under the heading of fabrication and thusly I should hang my head in shame, or is it an aceptable way to bring the joys of blacksmithing to the public... I humbly await your thoughts on this... oh, and please be gentle :O) ( I can send a photo of the shortcut rose if it will help your decision)
   lex - Wednesday, 09/25/02 00:36:55 GMT

Better Yet, is there anyone in North Carolina who is going to quad state?
   Bond-JamesBond - Wednesday, 09/25/02 00:48:22 GMT

Just kidding on the rice husks.
Thanks for the book, will try to check it out. I am interested in other info, but honestly, I will not have the time to pursue it, so if I need more reading I'll let you know, as it may be out of date by the time I get to it.
Thank you and everyone else for keeping my head spinning!
   Jovan - Wednesday, 09/25/02 00:50:05 GMT

I am a huge fan of Shrade Cutlery. Ie. Old timer, and Uncle Henry. They are carbon steel blades, so like quenchcrack said they tend to rust, but is you can stand that, the steel is awesome.
   Bond-JamesBond - Wednesday, 09/25/02 00:57:47 GMT


The Mid Ohio Blacksmiths (MOB) have their website at http://themob.iwarp.com/

You can find a couple of articles about the business end of Blacksmithing at http://www.anvilmag.com/


Wow! You've done a lot of research work, and I for one am very greatful that you are sharing it. Thanks!! It really is tempting to try out one of those methods, isn't it?
   Thingmaker - Wednesday, 09/25/02 01:00:59 GMT

Style: Lex, If you look at the roses and flowers on our iForge page there are several that are made from precut sheet. The typical rose and other flowers made by smiths today are often made from plasma or laser cut blanks. Some are brazed together others riveted and some arc or gas welded. In modern smithing results are often more important that technique. It is often simple economics.

It is good to know traditional techniques but you have to face the reality of the market too. The trick is to use modern techniques to produce good quality work. Everyone decides on their own personal level of quality. Over time it can change.

The thing that is most interesting about the Russian rose is that it is made from one piece and it is not very difficult.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/25/02 03:07:20 GMT

Thanks Slag,Vicopper and Jim G. for the sugar and molasses solution to coal fines what a great recipe for the christmas baking told my wife about it. I have a 1/2 pick up load of this stuff that I forgot to mention to you,I'm sorry. Well you can guess what her reply was.### chuckle chuckle. I will try this mixture but on a small scale. For the amount that I have here I be baking for the next 6 months and the cost of the ingredients would not be worth it. The saw dust, grass clippings and coal fines mix,I can burn that in my furnace and get at least some heat from it. I will try that just hate to waste it.That idea of packing the fines around a tin can in the mid of the tuyere seems to be a way to go on a small scale. I will try it too. Thanks again.
   - heinz - Wednesday, 09/25/02 05:34:13 GMT

When welding titanium the current should be direct with electrode negative. Pure argon that is proven *dry*, no moisture content, is critical. The electrode should be 2% thoriated tungsten, EWTh-2. Any/all welds to be made should have complete argon shielding on both sides. Do not weld from one side without a backing gas. A starting tab must be used if using a scratch start, hopefully you are not. A high frequency type start is prefered. All oxides, solvents or anything that is not titanium must be removed from the metal. If an atmospheric argon chamber is not available a trailing shield cup that is made for titanium welding is required. The weld zone and approximately 3 to 4 inches behind the weld puddle must have argon flowing over it.The molten metal of the weld and the heat affected zone must have an inert shielding gas cover until the metal cools to below 800F or 427C. The shielding gas should be approximately 25 to 35 CFH, cubic feet per hour.
   - Rutterbush - Wednesday, 09/25/02 13:44:26 GMT

Jock, I just ordered the safety glasses 3 pack. The online members store appeared to work great! Thanks for all the good work!
   robcostello - Wednesday, 09/25/02 14:44:26 GMT


When I stated that few Anglo-Saxons made it to 50, it was based on evidence from a couple of migration age graveyards that had been recently excavated. In over a hundred and fifty or so graves only a couple of the men (none at all in the larger cemetery of 120) and about half a dozen women made it into their early 50s. None of them made it past that. The sampling (as opposed to a statistical average) is not slewed by infant and childhood death. HOWEVER, this is a sample from a specific area (southwest England) and time (mid 6th to mid 7th centuries). Death rates, like personal hygiene, working and agricultural conditions, fashions, and calamities, varied drastically over time and place. Over a 500 year period and most of a continent, some folks undoubtedly lived to a prosperous old age; but it was far more rare than we're used too in the early 21st century in North America and Europe. The recent drought and fires have impacted some of us and our neighbors. The corn crop in our area was a near wipe-out. Now, try to imagine the consequences if we did not have the superb transportation and distribution facilities, as well as the financial infrastructure that we have built up over the last 200 years.

Upon occasion a flaming romantic will express the wish to me that it would be wonderful to go back and live in the middle ages. I usually reply: "Go to a third world subsistence economy, preferably one with an ongoing armed conflict and a ruling oligarchy. Enlist yourself as a peasant farmer. Have fun!"

My view of historical reenactment is somewhat similar to blacksmithing: When you study and sometimes duplicate the hard work that went into just staying alive (like pre-steam navigation under sail and oars, or digging the garden with a wooden spade) you appreciate not only what it took to survive back then, but just what wonders we take for granted in our present age. Power hammers may break down, but they don't grumble behind your back or cast a lecherous eye on your daughter (or sheep)! ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 09/25/02 15:20:06 GMT

Longevity: Current conditions in much of Africa has reduced the average life span tremondously. War, fammine and social disorder have probably dropped the average to less then 40 years in many places.

On-Line Store: I've gotten one report that the [ORDER] Button next to the [CLEAR] button under the "cart" window does not show in IE 5.5. . . I do not know why. I DO know that everything works up until you try to place an order in Netscape 6.2. . The credit card co interface does not work with the new Netscape. It is a known problem caused by a change consiously made by AOL/Netcape.

Even though I have been a long Netscape supporter I do not recommend any version over 4.x.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/25/02 16:01:25 GMT

I'm using IE 6.0 with NT. If you got my order then it works as advertised.
   robcostello - Wednesday, 09/25/02 16:54:51 GMT

Store Errors: I had some pretty goofy errors in the HTML. . . fixed now. Should work in IE 5.5

Rob, I got your order just fine. Thank you! Will ship today.

Too many versions of browsers. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/25/02 17:50:43 GMT

Africa /// Shorter life Span
The main factor for falling longevity in Africa is A.I.D.'s.
War, famine, government mismanagement and theft, do take a heavy toll. But they are not a new phenomenon and they predate the precipitous rise in death rates in the late 1980's and 1990's.
But AIDs has proven to be singularly catastrophic.
The AIDs infection rate is almost 50% in Swaziland and the rate in South Africa is, I think, greater than 30%. The rates in some central African countries are approaching 50%.
The predominent African/Asian strain of the AIDs virus, is better at infecting heterosexuals than the strain predominating in Europe and North America.
Notably, the rates are highest in countries that chose to ignore the crisis, such as South Africa (and it's president Mr. Thabo Mbeki, who refused to provide anti-AIDs drugs to pregnant women in order to stop it spreading to their new born children, even when ordered to do so by the South African Supreme Court).
African countries that have met the problem head-on, have a dramatically lower AIDs infection rate. Uganda is one of those countries. Public education, and the availability of condoms and anti-hiv medication has helped tremendously.
Regrettably, China has also decided that there is no problem, setting up a catastrophy if an effective vaccine is not soon developed and widely distributed to the Chinese public. The AIDs rates are rapidly climbing in the Chinese provinces close to Vietnam. (e.g. Szechuan.)
   slag - Wednesday, 09/25/02 18:04:00 GMT

Do you know of any formulas for picket spacing?
   Bryan Fritts - Wednesday, 09/25/02 19:52:21 GMT


Most of the codes say that pickets in a railing or fence should not be able to pass a 4" ball. So if you use 4" on center for your picket spacing, you'll be OK.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 09/25/02 20:18:43 GMT

Store worked great, I just ordered ITC100.
Forging aluminum: I remember that it's hot short(?)and no color at forging heat. What else is important to know? Can I use my coal forge?
   Tone - Wednesday, 09/25/02 20:41:06 GMT

Aluminium: Tone, coal works for heating non-ferrous metals but it is VERY easy to overheat them and have them melt into the forge. For brass I've used a torch and a gas forge. If I had a lot of it to do I would rig up a low temperature gas furnace. Temperature controls are needed if you are going to forge large pieces or quantities.

Remember that aluminium and brass conduct heat VERY fast and the end of a bar outside the forge will be nearly as hot as the end IN the forge. So there is no safe length to handle without tongs.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/25/02 21:52:15 GMT

Hi I am just getting started with my blacksmithing hobby. Can anyone tell me the recipie for the stuff you wipe a finished peice down to make it nice and black? I know it has turpentine and beeswax in it but I do not know the proportions. Any help would be appreciated Thanks.
   Appy - Thursday, 09/26/02 00:35:37 GMT

1 cup Johnson's Paste Wax
1 Cup Turpentine
1 Cup boiled Linseed oil
1 cup shaved beeswax
2 Tablespoons Japan Dryer (Art Supply Store)

Melt ingredients together
Mix throroughly
Apply to WARM (not hot!) iron
Wipe excess off with soft rag
Allow to dry
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 09/26/02 00:56:23 GMT

NOTE: By adding Japan dryer (a cobalt compound) to the above you have made a wax based varnish. Liquid floor wax will do the same thing and dry harder and cleaner.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/26/02 01:32:52 GMT

A small (max 4) of us are learning to mangle hot steel,we an have an old Mayer b22 trip hammer. the clutch is starting to slip,and we think we need to replace the cork or leather. Do you know where we can find an exploded scematic drawing of how the thing comes apart and goes back together and where we would begin to look for parts if and when we can no longer cobble together the badly worn pieces?

Thanks Kit
   Kit Schweitzer - Thursday, 09/26/02 04:03:18 GMT

Kit, Meyer Bros. became Little Giant and there is little difference between the two. See our Power hammer Page list of manufacturers for information on Little Giant.

We also have a specs chart and some LG photos.

There are old factory parts drawings of LG's but they are not very good. There is also a book on Little Giants but it is mostly historical information.

One of the best sources of information on adjusting and tuning LG's is the Dave Manzer video we sell. See the book review page.

Little Giant center clutches are lined with leather or heavy cotton belting. Currently cotton belting is used. These clutches NEED to slip so you can control them. Normally you want them soaking wet with oil. Getting controlled slipping is usualy the problem.

Grease and oil the hammer before every use. Lack of lubrication is the biggest problem on most of these machines followed by improper adjustment.

If you folks are just learning smithing you need to learn hand forging techniques FIRST. Then apply what you have learned to the power hammer.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/26/02 05:02:54 GMT


I just use either plain beeswax applied to the metal while the metal is fairly warm.

Or I use a spray on hard shell car wax.
   Ralph - Thursday, 09/26/02 05:10:58 GMT

Hi Guru I'm trying to expand a basket handle into a ten inch ball. I'm using 8pieces of 3/8 rodthe probl;em seems to be keeping it some kind of symetrical when I unwind and expand itany ideas you've always helped in the past thsnks.Cy
   Cy Swan - Thursday, 09/26/02 12:42:24 GMT

Cy; how are you heating it? *even* heating seems to be a key in preserving symetry, gas forges do better than coal forges but even in a gas forge you need to rotate to get a uniform heat.

Thomas looks like I will be packing for Quad-state in the rain---ugghh
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 09/26/02 13:45:11 GMT

10" Ball: Cy, that is a big ball for 8 rods. A friend of mine has a sample he made years ago that is 6" out of eight 1/4" bars (I remember it was twelve but he says eight). Each twisted square and forge welded radialy at the top so that the top of the ball was the end, not another bar. VERY tricky work. I think he only did the one or it was a sample for a job that only used two.

Eight bars is not very many for making a 10" sphere. That is a LOT of air space. But maybe the larger bars fill the space.

The tricks:

The core bar that the smaller ones are welded to needs to be a good fit OR slightly oversized. When the bars are forge welded they will fill the space. If the core is undersized the bundle will not be symetrical and nothing will go right after that.

Once the basket is opened you adjust the bars on a swage block using a punch through the other side. The swage block can be hemi-spherical OR just a radius (curved side). Either will work but a hemi-sphere is better.

The other way to do it is the way the fabricators do it. You bend each part seperatly on a jig then assemble them. Each part is cut to the same length, each end bent to a 90° angle the same length and then each piece bent to fit the jig. When you are done bending you assemble the parts and weld them together (forge, gas or arc). The trick here is making the jig. It would help to have a spherical surface to make it on. Any material would do as long as you have a surface to check the part against.

Rain here too. We need it, but not a tropical storm.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/26/02 16:13:35 GMT

Guru and all,

How do you roughly determine the strength of a hinge? I see pin size, hinge thickness, hinge width, and rolled or welded as the major vairables, but I don't have a feel for what a hinge can carry.

Example: I have built a pair of butterfly hinges out of 14ga sheet metal, using a 1/4" pin. They are about 4" tall at the pin, and the eye is rolled and riveted. I'm sure something like this would work for a cabinet door, but how about a chest lid? Probably won't work for a barn door....

At the other end I have a set of strap hinges out of 1/4" thinck stock, 1 1/4" wide, 3/8" pin, welded eye. Would these be safey for a barn door?

If there is some way to calculate the strength of a hinge I am probably capable of doing so once I see the problem set up once, but there are a few more variables here than I am comfortable with.

Another question: how do you determine the mounting method appropriate for the strength required? I'm looking for a table that says: "250# shear force, old oak, use 9 x 2" #8 screws or 2 x 1/4" lag bolts 1.5" or longer." Probably doesn't exist....


   Jim - Thursday, 09/26/02 17:31:22 GMT

ooo, this anvil looks good:

Item # 1771114715 on Ebay.

15 lbs. ;-)}
   Escher - Thursday, 09/26/02 17:53:45 GMT

I forgot to mention, only .99 and $19 for shipping and handling. Amazing what can be found for no apparent reason . . .
   Escher - Thursday, 09/26/02 17:59:49 GMT

Hinge Jigs:

Didn't Dan Streeter have a chapter on these sort of jigs in his book?

Great Guru:

It might be prudent to batten down and move machinery to higher floors in the old mill. Latest predictive graphing shows the probable storm paths from Isador veering more to the East Coast: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_astorm10.html

A tad rainy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 09/26/02 18:22:58 GMT

Well I've been looking around and it seems that a cost effective alternative to doing a gas forge out of fire brick is to use a couple of furnace linings with a kawool blanket for insulation, the linings them selves are roughly cylinder shaped and are good to about 3000 F (1800 C)
The one's I'm looking at also run for about $65 each, they are about 18" long, by 8" wide. I'm looking at getting 2 of them and using either steel pipe or the like for an outter case.
As for the burner I'm looking at making one of the "E-Z Burners" however I'm a visual person, and there are lots of words in the instructions........
   Marc - Thursday, 09/26/02 19:45:59 GMT

I'm an ambitious beginner and would like to buy a coal forge. I'm aware of Centaur Forge but are there any other good sources for buying forges and other blacksmith equipment?
   David Womer - Thursday, 09/26/02 20:02:04 GMT

i am a used truck salesman(class 8 big rigs) and have just in the last year or so gotten into smithing. i get a lot of scrap materal that i have been using to set up my shop , my forge is built out of a break drum off of a freightliner, and have gotten a lot that i think will work pretty well. my question is, does any one know what type of steel that the rear mud flap hangers on a big rig is and what are some of the uses i might have for it. its 3/4" stock that i think is hardened. thanks
   jdweb - Thursday, 09/26/02 20:14:43 GMT

Escher, curiosity got the better of me so I bought it. Turns out I could have had someone pick it up for me and saved the shipping. . . We will know in a few days if it is as-advertised. Looks like a door-stop to me but you never know.

Hinge Jigs: Yes Streeter has jigs in his book AND we have the same and how to use them in an iForge demo.

Hinge Capacity: I've never seen anything on it. In the case of hinges on wood the screws usualy pull out OR the wood splits before the hinges fail. Unwelded hinges fail by unwrapping. This is a complicated thing to calculate and the model would have to include things like the exact material and the materials temper. Welded hinges would probably fail by shearing the pin.

Calculating the strength of the hinge is easier than determining the load. The dead load of the door or gate is almost irrelevant compared to live loads. Ever see a teen ager ride a door, or a crowd storming gates? How many adults jumping up and down on the 8 foot lever of a gate does the hinge need to withstand? How much windload does that barn door see?
   - guru - Thursday, 09/26/02 20:35:00 GMT

Building Gas Forges: Marc, If you cannot read and understand the instructions for making a gas burner then you have no business building one. They are dangerous enough when they are fully understood. One reason there are no detailed drawings is that what you are looking at ARE NOT PLANS. This is for libility reasons. The text is there for you to figure it out. Many folks are not designers and builders and they shouldn't attempt things that are specificaly designed NOT to be built by them. The Ron Riel Forge page is setup that way and it is clearly stated so.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/26/02 20:41:14 GMT

Mud flap springs Jdweb, On one road trip we saw dozens of the things on the road side and almost brought them home. . . I'm not sure of the steel but they ones we say were apparently not heat treated properly. They were too hard and brittle fractured. This does not particularly mean they were hardenable steel, just that they were harder than they should have been. Even mild steel can be hardened to the point of being brittle.

Any time you are using unknown steel then YOU become your own metalurgist. Take a sample and run a spark test. Then try to harden a piece and test it. Temper it and see if it is still hard. . . lots of trial and error tests. Blacksmiths can usualy tell a high carbon steel by the way it forges. Tool steels are very stiff when heated to forging temperature compared to low carbon steel and you tell under the hammer.

So, try so out. But if you want to do anything critical then purchase steel of a known alloy.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/26/02 20:48:51 GMT

Suppliers: David, Kayne and Son (see their banners here, listing on the advertisers directory and on the drop down menu) carry coal forge components and will send plans for a forge. They also sell gas forges. The Kaynes carry a complete range of tools and have the best on-line catalog on the Internet.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/26/02 20:54:35 GMT

Dear Metal Guru: while I work with fabric, "THE MAN" wants to work with aluminum - he wants to melt it - and, being his bud, want to assist him - we are both proficient in building techniques - but require your expertise in building the exactly correct forge for smelting aluminum - no other metal at any point in the future that we know of - do you have plans available? Any hints? Cautions? Etc. We await your answer, and thank you for your assistance -
   Amy & Jay - Thursday, 09/26/02 21:58:03 GMT


For about 6 cents a pound, I'd buy it too, JUST for a doorstop! Now, find me a 450# Peter Wright for that kind of money and I'll acknowledge you as the absolute master of great deals. :-)

Or a nice 100# powerhammer for 6 cents a pound would be okay, too. For that price, I could afford the shipping, even!
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/26/02 23:00:57 GMT


Let me add to what the Guru said about Kayne and Sons. They not only have the easiest, best online catalogue, they are also terrifically nice people who go the extra distance to be helpful. I live in a place where ordering by mail or online isn't always easy, but a quick call to the Kaynes made it a snap. And tell them you heard about them here, so they keep on advertising with anvilfire, which helps support this site.

As a beginning smith, one of the better investments you can make is a membership in CyberSmiths International, the anvilfire members group. You'll get more and better answers to your questions here than you will anywhere else.

   vicopper - Thursday, 09/26/02 23:14:05 GMT

Melting, smelting: Amy & Jay, "Smelting" is what you do to reduce metal from ore and that requires a very special electric resistance furnace for aluminium. Melting for small foundry work is MUCH easier.

First you need to determine how much metal you are going to melt. This determines your crucible size and that determines the furnace size.

For melting aluminium you can use a steel pipe crucible OR a graphite crucible. Steel pipe crucibles are relatively cheap and easy to make but the aluminium disolves them rapidly (4 or 5 melts). To prevent them from this you line them with a refractory clay. We sell ITC-213 for this purpose. A pint is fairly expensive but will last a hobbiest for years.

Commercial crucibles are sized in pounds of aluminium (or they used to be). A #2 would hold 2 pounds and a #8 eight pounds. . . But check the specs, sometimes they are rated in brass which is much denser.

Once you know your crucible size then you can size your furnace. A melting furnace needs to have a minimum of 1" clearance on all sides of the crucible. You also set the crucible on a block that increases the needed height. To these dimensions you add 2 to 3 inches per side for insulation. So, if you have a 4" diameter crucible and add 3" clearance and 4" insulation you need an 11 to 12" outside diameter shell for your furnace.

The furnace is insulated with castable refractory OR Kaowool. Castable is cheap and durable but it is also heavy and not as good an insulator as the Kaowool blanket. Kaowool is very light weight and an excellent insulator. It is also easy to fit into a furnace. It is convienient to have a nice light easy to move furnace.

Propane burners are commonly used on the type of furnace we are describing here. Propane will get the furnace hot enough to melt brass if you want but work well with aluminium. You can purchase a burner from someone like Rex Price T-Rex burner OR build your own.

Methods of building and using a small melting furnace are covered nicely at FOUNDRY 101. I have also been building small melting furnaces as below and as shown in our iForge demo #132 on Kaowool Flux resistance. We sell the Kaowool and ITC products. I am working on an article on the building of these furnaces and the burners used.
Mini Melting FurnaceMelting Furnace: This is the little melting furnace I built from a disposable freon tank. It has a fire brick floor in the bottom and is lined with 2" of Kaowool. It accepts a #1 crucible that will hold 3.2 pounds of brass. Once heated up it will melt brass about as fast as you can feed it and pour it. We poured about 12 pounds of brass with one like it one afternoon.

The black furnace in the background is made from a standard 20 pound propane cylinder and is lined with castable refractory with some Kaowool behind parts of it to reduce weight and increase efficiency. It was designed to be convertable from a melter to a forge. It is OK design but needs some improvements. It will accept a #6 crucible which will hold about 18 pounds of brass. Before I use it with the big crucible I need to make tongs and a pouring shank to fit.
   - guru - Friday, 09/27/02 00:18:44 GMT

Ok - this makes sense to THE MAN - but not much to me - he has at least several hundred pounds of aluminum cans - smashed - ready to go -and any pieces/parts imaginable - so the size of the forge will be determined by the amount of metal to be melted (got it!) he wants to make ingots - but he could do this in smallish amounts.
   Amy - Friday, 09/27/02 02:35:33 GMT

I am a beginner at the blacksmithing trade. I just picked up my very first anvil. A 126# Peter Wright. I was thinking about having the face ground smooth and flat but I am unsure about the thickness of the face material. I don't want to have too much taken off. Would you be able tell me what the thickness of the face would usually be on a Peter Wright? And would it be ok to have this anvil ground at all? To quickly describe the anvil; it has about a quarter inch step, sinks down 3/16" to 1/4" about 5 to 6" away from the step, then, slowly rises as you go back towards the heel. That's the best I can describe it.
   Chad Anderson - Friday, 09/27/02 04:16:38 GMT

Amy, recalling a metallurgical lab project done in college 30 years ago, I remember that aluminum oxidizes very rapidly, especially in the molten state. Aluminum Oxide floats on the liquid aluminum like a scum. We put something on the molten surface to act as a protective slag, I think it was Potassium Chloride (a close relative of table salt) but perhaps Guru can verify that. Thin aluminum oxidizes so fast that it may never actually melt. Aluminum Oxide has a very high melting point so you end up with a pot of metallic crud and no aluminum to cast. Check out the library on melting aluminum before you try it. It could save you a lot of frustration.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 09/27/02 12:26:31 GMT

I recently purchased a Di-Acro #3 Bender from a gentleman in failing health. The bender is missing the forming nose. Any ideas on locating a used forming nose or getting dimensions, or a blueprint? By the way, Great website!
   Brad - Friday, 09/27/02 13:06:25 GMT

Hinge Jigs: Yep, there they are at iForge. I guess my memory had come unhinged. ;-)

Casting Cautions: I've been chewing over some of our adventures with some of my friends at the NPS who have had a bit of experience in this area. Two of the cautions that were brought to my attention:

1) Make sure that any aluminum cans are absolutely dry before you crush them. Be sure that are smashed as flat as possible. If they were crushed in a dubious condition, be sure to "ice-pick" any areas that might harbor moisture. An unexpected steam explosion, even a small discharge, in molten aluminum can ruin your whole day.

2) When using styrofoam for the positive in the direct pour process, be sure to have excellent ventillation. The burnt styrofoam has some nasty, carcinogenic stuff in it, somewhat bad for the health.

Wet and rainy on the banks of the Potomac. Maybe it will dampen the more radical or violent of the protestors that have stormed into town. I told the boss that if any of them heave a brick through our window, I'm signing him up for the Washington Redskins. We're on the 12th floor! ;-)

"If we've learned anything from the 20th century, it's that Anarchists just provide an excuse for greater oppressions to follow." (Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)

Visit your National Prks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 09/27/02 13:24:36 GMT

More on Aluminum: Doing a bit of research, I found that Nitrogen-Chlorine is used to remove HYDROGEN from the molten aluminum. Potassium Chloride was probably a safer way to introduce the chlorine. Hydrogen in the aluminum will cause the casting to have pinholes. Aluminum shrinks about 10% when it solidifies so make proper allowance for that in the mold. Wouldn't hurt to preheat your smashed cans to about 250F in an open container to drive off the moisture too. Again, apply good common sense when melting this stuff because Al is highly reactive and a bit of moisture can cause a nasty explosion. Spend some time researching this process because not only is it more complicated than getting it gushy and stuffing into a mold, it is potentially very dangerous.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 09/27/02 13:37:49 GMT

Jock, I am using a 147 lb. Peter Wright but the face seems to be softer than it should be. Lots of hammer dings and other marks. Is this normal for a PW or possibly has something happened to the heat treatment?
   Brian C - Friday, 09/27/02 14:18:11 GMT

Peter Wright Anvils: Brian, Although the English made Peter Wrights were a favored brand in North America, I think they were all much too soft or had too thin a face. I've seen more PW's with excessive sway than any other anvil and I've seen ONE virtualy new PW that had a VERY distinctive crown to compensate for the future sway.

But sway is not necesarily related to face hardness although it IS a contributing factor. PW claimed a better grade of wrought iron for their anvil body and it may have been that the scrap used by others such as Mousehole forge may have been better (harder) material when properly welded together. But this is my speculation.

Face thickness is a definite contributing factor as the face plate is the only thing preventing the soft wrought iron from squashing out.

I HAVE seen soft anvils in various brands and suspected that they may have been in a fire. You could not do a better job of annealing an anvil than setting it above the floor (on its stand) in a large burning wood building and then letting it cool in the debris and ashes. Especialy during a time before modern fire fighting equipment. Consider the great fires such as the Chicago, San Fransisco and Sacremento fires that burned large areas of those cities where there were probably dozens of blacksmith shops. During the 1800's and early 1900's major city fires were not unusual. Consider also how much more likely it was for blacksmith shops to catch fire. . . Then there was the Civil War. And fires STILL happen today.

I have also seen numerous anvils with lots of hammer dings and chisel marks that were good hard anvils that were abused by cold working and repeatedly used as a cutting surface. Although it is difficult to mark a good anvil it CAN be done. The question in this case is, are the marks YOUR marks or did it come to you that way? If it came with a few marks then grind them out and don't you be the abuser. It is not unusual to accidentaly strike the face of the anvil hard with the flat (crowned) surface of your hammer. This should not leave a mark but MAY make a shiney spot on a newly ground face.

Re-heat treating an anvil is a huge job and it is unlikely that it can be done better than the manufacturer. If you consider having it heat treated then take it to a professional. But if you think it too soft I would sell it and get another anvil.

Chad, Normaly London and American pattern anvils have a step in the face at the horn. On wrought bodied steel faced anvils this is where the face plate stopped. This created a soft flat "table" for using a chisel. On later all steel anvils (cast or forged) this step is still a feature and it is handy for certain forging operations but it is not soft enough to use as a chisel table. If this is the step you speak of then this is normal. But if only 1/4" then the face plate was too thin or has been ground too thin. If the sway is ground out of this anvil there will be no face left. As mentioned above PW's tended to sway a lot and I suspect this one hace already been dressed once before if the face is only 1/4" thick. You are best off to use the anvil as-is. The sway is actually useful when straightening things. You CAN NOT straighten something by hammering on it on a flat surface. A flat surface makes a nice reference but it cannot be used for straightening. In smithing your eye is the best judge of straight.

On steel faced anvils the face is normaly 1/2" thick on small anvils of 100 pounds or less, 5/8" thick on larger anvils and SHOULD be thicker on anvils over 200 pounds (up to 3/4") but this was not always the case. Later all steel anvils are actually much better anvils. Most of these were made with a forged tool steel upper half welded at the waist to a low carbon steel forged or cast steel base. Peddinghaus anvils are still made this way.

   - guru - Friday, 09/27/02 15:10:36 GMT

Melting Aluminium Cans: Amy & Jay,

As QC mentioned oxidation is a large factor in recylcyling cans and as Bruce mentioned the content of the cans can be a problem. Do you know what people PUT in used drink containers? Ciggaret butts, candy wrappers, bottle caps, coins. . . Cans picked up on roadsides often have sand, gravel, dirt and insects (on top of whatever someone may have put in them).

If the goal is to recycle the aluminium then SELL it to the recyclers as-is. They will give you top dollar for cans and often will not buy ingots or will pay less. Most aluminium cans go to making more aluminium cans and the folks buying them want to know what they are buying. Most of the time they shread the cans and seperate out the trash before melting them. So ingots are an unknown and they pay less.

IF the end goal is to make castings then you want to recycle CAST aluminium. Aluminium for casting is a different alloy than that used to make cans. It is DESIGNED to make castings. Automobile pistons and transmission housings are good sources of scrap cast aluminium. However, you must be carefull, not all "white metal" is aluminium. Carburetors, distributors and auto trim is often made of ZINC. Usualy these are zinc aluminium alloys (ZA) but you DO NOT want to try to make your own. ZA alloys have a small amount of aluminium (10%) and some other metals. Al alloys occasionaly have small amounts of zinc (~10%) as well as other metals. But there is a big no-mans land in the higher percentage range where the mix just does not work. So you need to be able to identify your scrap before melting it.
The can recyclers don't want zinc or copper in their mix so that is another reason they want cans only. They don't even like to buy machine shop scraps because most high strength alloys used in machine shops have copper and zinc in them. Other recyclers purchase this material but the price is less per pound than for cans only.
   - guru - Friday, 09/27/02 15:53:52 GMT

Heya guru, Long time no post, I was wondering how I might go about aquiring a carbon arc welding set up?

PS. Hobart is great. Today is the last day of oxy.
   AdamSmith - Friday, 09/27/02 16:29:21 GMT

I am a former student of Alex Weygers and host a website about him. I am a part-time sculpture and jewelry teacher at my local community college. I hope to start with a friend some metal working workshops at his metal shop but we don't know how to proceed without a liability disclaimer statement. Is there some kind of general disclaimer that you could recommend or where one could resource one?
   Peter Partch - Friday, 09/27/02 16:36:22 GMT

Aluminum /// Casting /// Amy & Jay
As the Guru has suggested Foundry 101 is a very valuable website. The author has written a book on the subject. It is mentioned at the site, but it is now out of of print. Try the second hand book finding websites for a used copy. (www.ebebooks.com or www.bookfinder.com or www.2ndhand.org.uk/cgi/books.cgi)
Synthetic Icelandic spar, aka Cryolite, (= Na3AlF6 is used as a solvent and fluxing agent for the electrolytic aluminum production from treated bauxite ore. That industrial process converts alumina (Al2O3) into molten aluminum. The aluminum metal forms at the cathode electrode and sinks below the the alumina-cryolite layer which is lighter and floats above it shielding the newly reduced aluminum from reoxidising.
Small scale aluminum operations (read "amateurs"), do not add any top flux. They skim off the scum from the molten aluminum and pour. The oxide scum protects the underying metal. The skimmer must be pre-heated, before use. Indeed, all tools that come into contact with the molten metal must be pre-heated. Note the uses of such foundry work are not fortechnical aluminum parts. (for example art objects, not exacting machine parts).
Molten aluminum will dissolve, and alloy, with any metal it contacts. (no problem for a quick pour and non-technically pure aluminum objects.) Graphite crucibles etc are used for moulding the fancy stuff.
As Mr. Quenchcrack has written, moisture is a problem . It can be lethal if it quickly contacts very hot material. Explosive steam production can result. About 1718 an experienced English foundry master and 17 workmen were killed when an improperly dried mould exploded during a bronze casting operation. Also great care and precautions should be learned, and then used for the pouring of the molten metal. Spatter from a spill can cause grievous injury. Proper protective clothing and gear should be used. (check the books on this. e.g. pouring is usually done in an area that has a sand surface, and sometimes even a steel grating over the sand. (to mininise spatter.). Doing a few mock practice runs will eliminate a frantic search for necessary equipment like crucible tongs and crucible shank. etc., etc.)
Foundry operations will go smoothly with a little precautions taken.
Have fun casting ,
Best Regards from the G. W. N.!
   slag - Friday, 09/27/02 17:03:47 GMT

Mr. Partch /// Contract Disclaimer Clauses
You are located in California, and California law will apply. (there are legal differences from State to State, and Province to Province). I suggest that you contact a nearby law school and talk to the director of the law school's legal aid program. (most law schools have such a program where students gain course credit hours and valuable practical experience under the guidance of lawyer-teachers and often practicing lawyers.).
They will be up to date on the latest California case law, on the subject and will recommend a suitable contract clause that will waive some legal liability.
Please note, that standard liability disclaimer clauses are NOT infallible.
They will not work if the instructor is negligent (e.g. as regarding shop conditions or poor instruction or supervision in smithing procedures.) Signed informed consent must be informed. (countless medical personnel operate under the mistaken belief that a patient's quick signature, on a multipage jargon-loaded document, is bullet proof protection. Those clauses will often fail, in a court of law, if the patient was not given proper information in language he/she could understand).
Hope that helps.
Incidentally, your website is a fine tribute to the late Mr. Weygers.
(Attny. Ont. & N.Y.S.),
& amateur iron banger.
(very amateur).
   slag - Friday, 09/27/02 17:33:28 GMT

Libility Disclaimers: Peter, Disclaimers are like any contract, they are only worth as much as you can afford in legal fees defending them. IF you are actually found lible in a court of law then the disclaimer will have done you no good. Almost every blacksmithing event I go to has had a disclaimer on the admissions form. Yet, the ABANA board (with too many lawyers) was so scared of their libility that they have legaly dissociated themselves with the ABANA Chapters, now called "affiliates".

Disclaimers have the most weight before lawyers get involved. If someone claims to have been injured by you and you point out they signed away their rights to any claims of libility they MIGHT go away. But if there is a serious injury then I doubt they will go away. . .

One problem with disclaimers is making sure there is a mechanism to assure it has been read and understood (have you read OURS ???). People are asked to sign disclaimers so often that a case could easily be made that their signiture on the document means nothing since every place you go you are asked to sign a disclaimer and no-one reads them. . . or takes them seriously. Things get hairier when minors are involved. For one thing they cannot enter into a contract AND it is possible that the adult that signed for them may be found not to have done so in the minors best interest.

To be asked to sign a waiver under duress may void the waiver. Slag's mention of signing a hospital or emergency room waiver could be considered duress (you are in pain maybe near death. .). I've signed waivers as a condition of employment as a worker on distant job sites AFTER arrival. This could be considered duress (in my opinion).

Your best protection is libility insurance. If you have it then the insurance company may provide the disclaimer for you (even though they know it has little value). What the insurance company does most often is pay the legal fees. If the damages are $10,000 or less they will usualy pay off the claim rather than go to court IF there is any libility exposure at all. They do this because they know legal fees will cost them at LEAST that much to go to court and they might lose and have to pay on top of the fees. But if a claim is large or extravagant they will pay the legal fees. They MIGHT win on your disclaimer. . . but it will cost $5,000 to $10,000 US, IF the other side doesn't spend more.

SO, lets say everyone signs disclaimers. And by some mischance you have a minor explosion and 5 people are injured. Just minor burns but they are all hauled to the emergency room. IF they each sue AND you win each case based on the disclaimer you could still be out $25,000 to $50,000 in legal fees and have WON! In some places the loser pays the legal fees but in many places (like Virginia) everyone pays their own fees and you cannot ask for fees as damages.

In the US legal system you often LOSE when you have won. . .

Sample legal contracts (including disclaimers) can be found in books of standard legal forms and contracts which are often found at the public library or used book store.

Page 13 of the current NEWS (volume 27) has a typical blacksmith meet disclaimer. It is short and sweet which has good points.

Then OUR disclaimer is linked on many pages AND is on the drop down menu (I just fixed it). I think I borrowed it from somewhere else and then rewrote it.

As Slag pointed out, the law is different in every locality and the wording of your disclaimer may need to reflect local differences. In this case you will need to get the advice of a local attorney to be sure.
   - guru - Friday, 09/27/02 18:07:30 GMT

Guru et al;
I'm sure this is a question that you get asked frequently.. but I'm going to ask it agian: What fuel do you prefer? At the HPL forge, where we bang anvils and pretend to be blacksmiths hee hee, we burned coal for some time, until the supply (which we found under a pickup truck in an uncle's back yard.. yes.. we live in Tennessee.. those things happen.) ran out, and we were forced to switch to chopping firewood to make charcoal. Messy business that one is. But now even the logs we had on hand to make charcoal from are running low, and deforestation just isn't an option. So we are in a place where we are going to have to buy fuel. Our logical choice would be to go to a local farmer with too many logs in his fields and ask if he needs help carrying them away.. and we keep the logs as payment of course. But Charcoal is dirty, and we cannot seem to get it up to a decent heat (and on the ONE occasion that we did, it was because we cheated a lil' with an cutting torch, and the charcoal didn't last long, it was too ashy), but the nearest coal we've been able to find of good metalurgical use is in South Carolina.. quite a drive for 3 amateur smiths with a pick up truck, and even with the discount we're getting, it's a bit hefty for us with college tuition to pay. Do you think switching to some gas fuel would be worth the investment? And what we expect to pay when it came down to the bottom line? Is coal cheaper? We're still learning.. but we have fun at it, and aren't about to give up just because the free fuel is all gone.. but we do want to keep costs as low as possible, at least until we can make money at it.

We've got a decent (if homemade) anvil, on a good solid stand and a very helpful scrap steel merchant within 20 miles of our shop (He wasn't so friendly at first.. but when we bought the 800lb lump of steel that we made our anvil out of.. he got surprisingly cheery and remarkably helpful. Funny thing, that was.) so the group of us agree that we've got a good enough setup that we should keep going at it.. but the lack of fuel concerns us. Might anyone know a place closer to home to get coal? That's what the setup we have now was designed for, and at least 2 of us prefer it to everything else. We're in the Franklin area, little south of Nashville TN, near Middle Tennessee State University. I know I'm askin' a lot.. and I preciate all of your help. When the funds are there.. CSI will have a group of new members in Franklin, that's for sure.

Robert "Asgard" Lee (No Relation)
HPL Steel
Very Long Winded.
   Robert "Asgard" - Friday, 09/27/02 18:11:22 GMT

Carbon Arc : Adam, Carbon arc is done using an AC welder (either HD transformer or motor generator). Both the work and ground leads run to the torch. The torch holds two consumable carbons that get ajusted over time. These used to be very common and I remember seeing them advertised fairly recently but I am told they are no longer in use. You might be able to get one from a welding supplier.

What is most common today are carbon air-arc cutting rigs. These sort of work the same way and are used when oxy-acetylene is not available or in some situations for making arc weld preps. However, plasma torches are replacing these as they become more common and have greater flexibility of use.
   - guru - Friday, 09/27/02 18:30:29 GMT

Tenn coal source.
Personally I like WV coal, but this may be closer to Nashville, Tenn.

Cumberland Elkhorn Coal & Coke, Inc.,
950 Swan Street,
Louisville, Kentucky 40204.
TEL: (502) 589-5323.

   - Ntech - Friday, 09/27/02 19:06:12 GMT

Best Fuel: HPL Steel, Etal, Charcoal needs a deeper fire than coal because of its lower density. But you can melt iron with it in the proper forge/furnace. It DOES take a larger volume, again, due to the difference in volume.

Good coal when it is available is prefered by most smiths for some operations. After coal and charcoal, propane is the next best option. It is readily available and quite portable. BUT the small exchange cylinders found everywhere will only run a small forge. One and two burner forges such as the NC-TOOL "Momma" series or the two burner Forgmaster forges will run on these cylinders. The melting furnaces pictured several posts above will run on a small exchange cylinder. But larger gas forges will not.

Fuel oil is also used in forges but is not as common as it once was and I do not know of any small commercial blacksmith's oil forges beiing built.

Gas forges can bought or built. I have done both. Sometimes the economics of do-it-yourslf are questionable and not the best results. The little piezio-electric igniters on the commercial units are VERY convienient and having a forge work the first time out of the box is great!

It is difficult to compare fuel costs because of the diferences between coal and gas or oil forges. However they are close to the same IF you keep close track and use them the same way. The big advantage of coal is that you can have a large fire OR a small fire in the same forge. In a gas forge you only have one choice (there ARE ways to rearrange a gas forge but you are still greatly limited).

Gas forges are fast and clean. No dirty fuel to haul no ashes to dispose of. I like the convienience of gas but recognize its limitations. On the other hand, it you are feeding billets to a power hammer there is no other was to go other than gas or oil.

Decisions, decisions. . . At this point coal would be cheaper for you because you already have a forge. Contact the local smithing groups and see what they have to say about supplies. You can always order bagged coal from Kayne and Son. Shipping can be significant BUT it is great quality coal and will probably save you money in the long run.

I want to SEE this 800 pound anvil. . .

OBTW - Paw-Paw and I WILL NOT be a Tennessee Fall Homecoming this year.
   - guru - Friday, 09/27/02 19:06:27 GMT

Robert "Asgard" -

Louisville is probably your best bet for coal. I live in Memphis, where fortunately I can buy a couple of bags every once in a while from the Ornamental Metal Museum.

By the way, are any of you planning to come down for Repair Days at the museum?

   - Marcus - Friday, 09/27/02 19:43:18 GMT

Sounds like time for a ROAD TRIP! :) "Quest for coal"
   - guru - Friday, 09/27/02 21:07:20 GMT

I'm going to chime in on the Coal VS. Gas question too.

I've got both. Given my druthers, I'll use the coal far more than I ever use the gas. Gas is nice, but as Jock said, coal is much more versatile than gas.

In your situation, I'd go with coal. And here I have to agree with Ntech, I think the coal from the Pocahontas seam is far and away the superior coal on the east coast.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 09/27/02 21:27:36 GMT

HPL, Coal in Tennessee:

Latest issue of Bituminous Bits shows Cumberland-Elkhorn Coal in Lawrenceburg, TN. I think that should be an our or so from you. Lester Beckman, 931-762-0567. He comes to our forge meetings sometimes, good guy. I've used some of his coal, seems like good stuff.

I use a gas forge, myself, at home. Very happy with it, but looking at building a bigger one. Figure I'll probably build a coal forge, too, at some point. Use coal at forge meetings. Each have advantages. Some of the meeting projects can't be done in my forge because you start with a straight piece and make a bend that renders it too large to fit in the forge. On the other hand, I burn up a lot less steel in the gas forge.

   Steve A - Friday, 09/27/02 22:30:45 GMT

hey - we're back!
   Amy - Saturday, 09/28/02 00:52:14 GMT

Peter-- any way you could use the community college shop for your school? Lawsuits follow the money. Waivers are worth as much as those little notices on the backs of the claim checks you get when you drop off your shirts at the dry-cleaners, or your car in the parking lot: nada. They do not hold water. The survivors'll sue the school 'cause that's where the bucks are.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 09/28/02 02:03:26 GMT

Oops, almost forgot-- Peter-- what's your Weygers website URL?
   miles undercut - Saturday, 09/28/02 02:28:08 GMT

I'm looking for a method or compound to prevent scaling when forging or welding with oxy-accetalene. Can you help me? Thank you, Scott
   Scott - Saturday, 09/28/02 03:54:22 GMT

Guru - Coal it is! With the help of the others, we'll find ourself a good supplier yet. This one an hour away looks promising.. heh. As for the anvil.. I'll take a picture for you when we get it finished and placed where we want it. No horn or hardee ("Japanese Anvil" was the name we were told best fit an anvil like that. Just a square piece of metal).. and we're considering just having the horn as a seperate piece, something akin the "T Stakes" in the armor demo by Eric Thing and using hardee tools in a vice, or a hardee hole bored into the top of the T stake (which we'd put at about knuckle level, beside our bigger anvil)we're not brave enough to start carving up this piece of steel, especially when none of us are very experienced with a cutting torch and, though we know people at Saturn (the car plant) who have offered to cut it up.. the thought of hefting that monstrosity back up into the back of a pickup just isn't tooting any horns.(no pun intended) Besides.. we already built such a pretty base for it.. it'd be a shame to have to start from scratch. Right? Road Trip is right. Most people spend their roadtrips touring the country in search of cheap beer and good times.. but not me! Oh no! I spent my gas money looking for coal! Heh. Much more rewarding.

Steve A - An hour away, eh? Sounds like my kind of place. Close + Coal = Good. Heh. Thanks for your help! Good coal too, you say? Excellent. Hope it isn't too expensive..

Ntech - I'll check them out as well. We talked with a guy down near Campus for a while.. just horsing around in his shop mostly, and I'm pretty sure that is where he got his coal. I liked it, but it seemed to have an AWEFUL lot of clinker. Might just have been that when we were there he was running low, and we were getting the bad stuff that had been on the ground.

Marcus - Louisville - 2 Lawerenceburg - 1. Hrmm. Might have to give this Louisville place a ring. Heh. Get it? Anvil? Ring? Ok.. that was bad. Repair Days? What's this?

Paw Paw - Looks like the Coals have it, overwhelmingly. Long run, from the reasearch I've already done on Propane forges, and what you guys have said here, I may wind up building a gas forge (or maybe just buying one.. heh) In the long run.. what's it going to hurt to have one, right? Give me something else to burn myself on.. But for now, it's coal. When we get more money/time/pickup bed space we might want to look up this Pocahontas coal place, if it's the best on the east coast. Best is good.. right? Heh.

Thanks again, all, for your help. Next time HPL gets together we'll pass the collection plate, and head on out to get ourselves some coal..

Though we may buy a half cord or so of firewood.. just for old time's sake.

Robert "Asgard"
HPL Steel
Gets more long winded every day.
   Robert "Asgard" - Saturday, 09/28/02 05:03:55 GMT

A good plaintiff's lawyer will cite all possible defendants as defendants when an action is filed. The reason for this is to not let the statute of limitations run out on any potential defendant. That lawyer is then free to drop a defendant(s) from the lawsuit later on if he chooses to. All the defendants are jointly and severably liable unless the judge apportions fault (where state law allows). Disclaimer clauses are not all without value. The legal concept of "volenti non fit injuria" (voluntarily doing some activity that has inherent risk), has not been overturned in any Common Law jurisdiction that I know of. The doctrine of informed consent also applies and succeed in court when that consent is reasonable, and in fact really informed. For example, a good lawyer, etc. will carefully explain the situation (with its potential benefits and risks) to the client, or patient etc. in that layman's language and degree of understanding and then memorialise it in a written form for that person to sign. That information session is often witnessed by another member of the law firm or medical staff, in oerder to cover the Attorney's or Doctor's backside.
Informed consent often holds up in court, whenit is properly obtained and not a sloppy, perfunctory exercise. It is too bad that the U.S.A. does not have universal medical coverage. Medical costs often leave heavily patients little choice but to try to recoupe money by going to court whether they have a vaklid case or not. (Canda has medicare so there is less litigation.) We also have thje law of costs (as does England, Australia, and New Zealand.). that legal doctrine allows a judge to order that the losing party, to a law suit, to pay not only the court costs but also a substantial portion of the winning partie's lawyers fees as well. In a few egregious and rare cases a Canadian judge has ordered that the lawyer to pay those costs out of his own pocket. Several lawyers have been disbarred after filing and pursuing frivolous lawsuits (lawsuits without any merit). Also Canadian Insurance firms do not settle meritless cases just because they only are asked to pay $10,000 or less. They often fight them up to the Supreme Court.
A British Judge recently threw out a McDonald's hot coffee case (with a fact situation similar to that of successful California "Stella" case). The judge took judicial notice that the average person, in England, would or should have known that fresh restaurant coffee is hot and inherently dangerous if spilled, and should take appropriate care.
Councellor Undercut, I am surprised that you would publish such a sweepingly general legal opinion, that covers all fact situations, and impliedly applies to every State in the Union. The dry cleaner and parking lot contracts are often deemed to be worthless "contracts of adhesion" (there is no informed consent nor bargaining possibility in those, "take it or leave it" "contracts". Mr. Partch consult a California lawyer well versed, and experienced, in the law of torts. (I made a suggestion where to look in my last post here).
The Guru's suggestion that you have insurance is a good one
Jock a minor explosion in a metal shop screams of negligence, on someone's part and is a case of "res ipsa loquitur". (it is almost negligence unless shown otherwise).
I would appreciate that any further reply, concerning this subject, be accompanied by cited relevant case law, or law review article(s), or statute that it is founded on.
   slag - Saturday, 09/28/02 07:25:43 GMT


I'm going to have to quibble a bit on one comment. To wit:

"A minor explosion in a metal shop almost screams of negligence, on someone's part,"

Tain't necessarily so, defecation does occur, occasionally after every reasonable care has been taken.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 09/28/02 12:15:56 GMT

Need info on clutch parts for Moloch 250# hammer. Any info at all on Moloch hammers would be good!
   Gregg Lester - Saturday, 09/28/02 14:11:06 GMT

Moloch Parts: Gregg, Moloch's are very similar to Little Giants (the same designers and builders) but I am not sure of a 250. Check the images on our Power hammer Page. BUT. . . these machines were orphaned over 50 years ago so you are on your own. . .

"Minor Explosions" occur regularly when a torch is lit (the "POP" is an explosion and when gas welding it is common for the torch to pop back and occasionaly blow the puddle all over the place rain hot metal on everyone). The sound of a large torch popping can hurt your ears to the point of ringing and I don't think I need to comment on raining liquid metal. . . These are some of the "inherent risks" of being in a welding (or blacksmith) shop. Larger "minor explosions" are rare but DO happen in shops. Every time a gas forge is lit there is always the chance of a flare or low pressure explosion (with tha wha..oomp sound ) that takes hair of your off your arms and ocassionaly your eyebows. . .

We learn to avoid all the above but in a shop class situation all the above are common. In gas welding classes it RAINS small flaming steel droplets constantly and it is not unusual for someone lighting a torch to have a repeat pop-back that sounds like a machine gun or multiple cannons. . . . the instructions for some old forges include a warning that is the equivalent of "duck and cover" and most smiths will warn you to stand clear of the "Dragon's breath" (that invisible 2,800° tongue of hot gas blowing out the forge door and vents).

These are some of the reasons I send folks to take a welding course, starting with gas welding. You quickly learn about the normal daily "risks" of working in a blacksmith shop. Minor burns are a normal daily occurance. . .

But any time someone is injured to the point of needing care something serious went wrong OR was done wrong. And that was my point. These things DO happen.

Settling cases. . . when there is no insurance the individual has the choice of settling and is often forced to do so for financial reasons. Even when they are right.

Well. . I've got to got clean the shop so I can help guests rebuild some gas forges. . . and we will try to avoid the dragon's breath. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 09/28/02 14:38:41 GMT

Mention of a minor shop explosion got me thinking. If your friends shop has gas appliances (forge etc.) was the plumbing done by a liscenced plumber who performed a leak down test? Perhaps tools not to be used during classes be unplugged/Put away. (Teaching college classes I'm sure you know what a screwball is capable of when your back is turned.) Torch tanks off and regulator knobs removed. It seems to me that if your class is the victim of a freak accident that being able to show that you have done all of these things to prevent such an accident shows that it is much more likely that it was a freak accident and not just one of many careless oversights. (Just my thoughts, no legal experience whatsoever, If you plan to use this advice let me know I'll send a disclaimer for you to sign.)
good luck,
   Jovan - Saturday, 09/28/02 14:39:31 GMT

re NG for a forge. Yes it is possible. In fact there are manufacturers of these type of forges. I happen to have one.
But for a home built I believe you will need a different sized orifice ( larger?) than you use for a home built propane forge.
   Ralph - Saturday, 09/28/02 15:08:08 GMT

PawPaw's Sage Rejoinder
Oh dear I have erred. I never for once considered that form of "small explosion". Thanks for your assis
tance. You are correct such a minor explosion does NOT scream negligence. My apologies to the Guru for a major oversite.
Best Regards
To all Anvilfire
devotees and folks dropping
by, and especially to all C.S.I. members who help to support this site.
Coll & sunny in the G. W. N.
(Central-East Division).
   slag - Saturday, 09/28/02 17:01:39 GMT

Jovan //// invaluable Suggestions.
Mr. Jovan your suggestions are correct and very valuable. Yes the shop should have every required certification. It should be made as idiot proof as possible/practicable. Even though the good Lord will probably craft a new "improved" idiot to confound those precautions.(I know of this, I strongly suspect that am one of those "improvements"). I would also suggest that a certain amount of course time be devoted to teaching students safety procedures. This course section should be presented early on in the course. (some topics that might be worth covering are, for example, the proper handling of hot objects, proper protective clothing and footwear, some simple first aid instruction, and what to have in a nearby first aid kit, eye safety for smithing and also those considerations for forge welding (and arc welding?), measures to lessen repetative strain/vibration injury, eye protection, and hearing protection, etc. etc.).
If, heaven forbid, there was a negligence action filed, evidence of such instruction and measures tend to show that the school administration and instructors were aware of potential problems, and took steps to lessen them, at the site, and to prepare student's for future similar activity in their future.)These activities tend to show that the school was not neglegent.
Also courts in many jurisdictions realise that the the activity has some inherent danger and make allowances for that situation.
Also an important point should now be mentioned. Negligence law, requires that that type of injury or mishap, be foreseable to the average instructor. If it was foreseable a prudent person would take precautions. Foreseability is an essential element that must be proved in a negligence action.
Arguably, freak accidents are not foreseable. (especially those that are extremely rare or one of a kind). Unfortunately California has generated some very strange jurisprudence (= case law), that push foreseablity beyond the elastic limit. (e.g. a court ruled that a felon was entitled to collect damages, founded in negligence), after crashing through a roof sky light while attempting to rob a school). Surely that activity (break and enter), and that "use" and peril of a sky light was not foreseable.) In many states the verdict would have been different. In Canada, (and England), the felon /plaintiff would lose or probably, not even be able to sue, as the mishap occured in the process of his commission a crime.
But I think that that case is still good law in California.
Let me bring a little perspective to this whole subject matter. How often has a small metal shop been sued and successfully in the U.S.A.?
Did Mr. Weygers ever get sued when he conducted his classes? (yes there was less litigation in the 1950's, 60's, and early 70's). I suspect he wasn't.
The Weyger's Memorial Site is at http://www.alexweygers.com/Alexbio.html
It is well worth a visit.
Mr. Weyger's almagamated book "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" is a great read, loaded with practical suggestions and make-do solutions. Do see page 181 for a picture of a young Mr. Partch.
   slag - Saturday, 09/28/02 17:53:23 GMT

My home page has been updated with more photos on the Blacksmithing page. Nothing new on the Woodcarving page as I tend to spend way too much time on the forge. Go to http://www.geocities.com/captainbandaids . Yes, I know Guru, these folks must believe SOMEBODY actually reads those %#@&!!*&#$ pop-up ads.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 09/28/02 19:31:42 GMT

The entire family is, er, 'fired up' about his melting all the zillions of aluminum cans he has saved over the years - he is digesting the information you have so kindly provided - and it looks as if it is going to be a big family thing - see 'the man' doing something he's wanted to do for years - he isn't a serious melter - he wants to see the physics of it take place. thanks again - and, we'll be in touch soon!
   Amy - Saturday, 09/28/02 23:51:44 GMT

Well now! The two "guests" have returned home. One NC Whisper Momma completely re-lined, one NC Whisper Momma painted with ITC-100 & ITC-213 (as necessary) and one NC Whisper Baby painted with the two ITC compounds, WITH the able assistance of "le guru" and Joe Rotenberry and El Paw Paw.

Some ask "le guru" why some folks have and some folks don't!! (BIG evil grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 09/29/02 02:12:50 GMT

Hey everyone,

I ordered some of the safety glasses from the Anvilfire Store on the 26th and I got them today ( the 28th) ! Now that is service! I really do appreciate the quality and speed of Guru's work.
So now we all need to keep him in bizness!

Thanks Guru!!!!!
   Ralph - Sunday, 09/29/02 03:14:40 GMT

Yeah, well, as the great Charles Dickens said, "the law is a ass," and me, when I go for the bucks on behalf of an injured client, I like to aim right smack at where they actually are. I find those school systems and state gummints tend to have deeper pockets than your average hammer jockey. Here at Dewey, Schroughm, our motto is, "As you sue, so shall ye reap." We advise our clients accordingly, to keep John Q. out of the shop.
   - Champertous "Champ" Barratry - Sunday, 09/29/02 05:14:47 GMT


Be sure to keep your man and anyone that helps him healthy. The equipment to melt and pour metal is fairly inexpensive and can be built on your own. But the protective clothing that SHOULD be worn by each person involved is important too and may cost as much as the melting equipment.

Be sure that ALL clothing is cotton. Synthetics melt and then stick to your skin as they burn. Most heavy cotton smoulders and is comfortable protection. 90% cotton blends are OK. Most rental uniforms are synthetics and are NOT suitable. NO FRINGES!

Saftey glasses are the MINIMUM and full face shields over safety glasses is recomended for melting and pouring. Leather welder's aprons are excellent heat, flame and splattered metal protection. They save burning your clothing while protecting your hide. Optionaly heavy canvas aprons are cooler and work as well. But they are considered consumables (replace when holes are burnt through).

Gloves can vary from the leather palmed heavy cotton gloves (my favorite) to big metalized and insulated affairs. It is important to wear comfortble gloves. If they are too clumsy then they are libel to do more harm than good.

If large crucibles are being handled then protective spats are suggested to keep liquid metal out of one's shoes. Welder's protective sleaves add further protection. AND for top notch protection founder's helmets with face shields protect the head and face.

The complete outfit is standard foundry garb and is required by most employers. But the back yard foundryman often does with less though a few also take their safety as seriously.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/29/02 05:52:16 GMT

Amy, et al.-

Let me add to what the good Guru said about safety equipment for casting/smelting. Wear a respirator! The fumes from fluxes, metals, and other things that get very hot and vaporize are something that should ALWAYS be considered dangerous. A respirator that is rated for both organic and inorganic vapors is essential if you want to live to a ripe old age. Forget those little paper things the hardware store sells...those are only suited for stopping sneezes. Your local automotive paint supply can sell you a respirator that is suitable for most toxins.

If you wear gloves that have an open cuff, be sure your sleeves go OVER the glove's cuff, not inside it. The same with your pants legs and your boots. The object is to keep those incendiary gobbets out of your gloves/shoes. I have several nasty scars to remind me of the times I didn't follow my own advice. You can make your own spats by sewing elastic at both ends of cut-off jeans legs. Sew a good-sized hook at one opening while you're at it. To use them, just slip over your footwear and up you leg to just below the knee. The hook is to hook in your shoe laces and keep the bottom from riding up. These spats are also great for keeping burrs out of your socks when working in heavy brush.

Have a tube of Silvadene (silver sulfadene) cream on hand for any burns you might get. Burns are notorious as prime sites for infection, and nothing works better than Silvadene. Your doctor will write you a prescription for it.
   vicopper - Sunday, 09/29/02 13:46:03 GMT

Viruses: I haven't said much about computer viruses lately but they are still rampant. Our ISP setup a filter for Klez and I no longer get Klez bounce mails but it is still the number one virus. Another new virus with an "SCR" attachment (windows screen saver) is making the rounds as well as one with a "DB" attachment usualy named "Oak-arc" something. . . I just deleted 24 copies of these two from my attachments folder. Those came in over a 4 or 5 day period. I have setup a mail filter for all mail with an .SCR attacment and will be setting up one for .DB. Neither are file types I use and I certainly don't want or expect anyone to send either to me.

If you use or recieve e-mail then you need to learn to recognize viruses and how to protect your system. Otherwise you are part of the problem. When you recieve an unexpected attachment without a explaination in the mail it is very likely a virus. The new viruses forge the return address so you cannot even trust mail from trusted friends. I no longer have time to run scans on suspect files and summarily delete them.

Mistrust and suspicion is a sad way to be but you MUST treat e-mail attachments that way. However, if you use almost any Microsoft e-mail or browser for email then you have put your trust in Microsoft who is a large part of the problem. . . .
   - guru - Sunday, 09/29/02 15:00:04 GMT

Guru, yesterday I noticed that the poking damage to the back wall of my Whisper Baby had reached the point that the heat is undermining the metal around the back port. It is showing signs of heavy oxidation and flaking. I have enough Kao-wool to build several forges but I am not sure if I can cut away the damaged refractory and insert a roll of Kao-wool without anchoring or gluing it in place. Any suggestions would be welcome. In fact, repair of refractories would make a great addition to this site. I know you have just all kinds of time to prepare that!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/29/02 16:31:36 GMT

Well, I just read the first post on this page and it sound like you recommend ITC-100 to glue it in place. Is that how these forges were originally made? If I cut away the section right under the port, can I roll the Kao-wool up and wedge it in place? Or will I still get heat damage from the crack between the patch and the original refractory? Other than being careful, is there a good way to prevent this type of damage in the future? How about cutting and inserting a piece of hard refractory brick like the kind used in the hearth?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/29/02 17:50:46 GMT

Refractory Repairs: QC, That is what we spent yesterday doing. Rebuilding an NC-TOOL forge and patching the refractory plus coating and making minor repairs to two other forges. We took photos during the process for an article.

Patching Kaowool or similar light weight refractories is fairly easy. The largest difficulty is access. It is tough to get your hands and fingers into the back of the small forges.

0) Thin ITC-100 as needed (per instructions).
1) Clean out loose debris.
2) Moisten lightly with a spritz of water.
3) Apply ITC-100 to the damaged area (I used a brush).
4) Stuff a torn off piece of kaowool into the damaged area.
5) Coat the entire surface with ITC-100.
6) Let dry
7) Fire for a few minutes and let cool
8) Fire again to cure the ITC-100
9) Recoat if necessary or if you want a heavier coating.

I used a little 1/2" artist's brush for minor gluing and patching and a 1" common paint brush for coating the large surfaces.

After drying overnight my Whisper Baby had water dripping out of every crevice when I fired it up this morning. There was so much steam being liberated that it did not want to burn right for the first minute or so! It pays to fire refractories (even coatings) in stages.

Door edges, port castings and metal surfaces that paint burns off of can be coated with ITC-213C. This is a relatively expensive product that goes a VERY long way, so we are going to offer it in small 2oz. containers as part of repair kits.

1) Clean off loose scale and rust
2) Clean with bleach mixture per ITC instructions if needed.
3) Apply a thin layer of ITC-213 and let dry.

When gluing Kaowool to metal I use ITC-213 as a primer, then fire it lightly with a torch, forge burner or weed burner. Then ITC-100 is applied to the metal and the kaowool and the kaowool installed. The kaowool soaks up the moisture in the ITC-100 so the "glueing" action is fairly fast. However, it has no strength until the material is fired.

It had been recommended to me to use the ITC-100 on kaowool before firing. I've found that one or two short firings have little effect but used forges are very dusty and the kaowool surface becomes crumbly and difficult to coat. Applying ITC-100 to a NEW forge is best.

One pint of ITC-100 was enough to use as glue and patching compound while installing a reline kit in a two burner NC-TOOL Whisper-Momma, coat the interior of that forge twice and to coat the interior of another Whisper-Momma and a single burner Whisper Baby. Thats enough to apply a heavy coating to all surfaces of two small forges OR enough to coat a big forge and have plenty left for future maintenance and repairs.

The NC-TOOL reline kit was not expensive compared to the forge (about 1/4 the cost) but it required a LOT of labor to install. The kit itself works fine but the forge housings get burnt and distorted as well as rusted. It would be much more economical and easier to patch and maintain the refractory.

We currently have ITC products in the anvilfire store and will be offering forge maintenance kits as soon as we get them packaged.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/29/02 17:51:08 GMT

Guru, thanks for the info. I did a bit of research on Kaowool and have discovered there are many different grades. I noticed the Kaowool I have is brown and the stuff in the forge is white. I check it out on the Thermal Ceramics homepage. The brown stuff is Kaowool B, good for a sustained temperature of 1800F. The white stuff is Kaowool S and is good to about 2200F. I have reservations about using the B grade in my forge. Also, should this stuff be compressed when you put it into a patch or should it be allowed to remain expanded to its normal thickness? My instinct says that compressing it may increase its thermal conductivity and reduce its effectiveness.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/29/02 18:34:41 GMT

Kaowool: The type we carry is the Kaowool S Cerablanket rated to 2300°F and is used in kilns forges and furnaces. Even though forges get hotter that is the material used. I suspect that is why it becomes dusty. A coating of ITC-100 cures that and is rated for much higher temperature.

Yes you will lose some insulation efficiency where you patch. This mostly from the ITC-100. However, the formed liner in the NC-TOOL forges is higher density than the blanket so that probably evens out.

Preventing the door/port frame from being exposed to flame on both sides is more important than the density of the insulation. The lower ledge on these parts gets heavily scaled and overheated. On the heavily used forge we repaired the edge was cracked and had expanded to where we had to grind off material after straightening the hole in the case it passes through. We applied ITC-213 to all these parts and will be observing how they hold up and how well the ITC protects them.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/29/02 20:23:53 GMT

we have a hand grinder goodell-pratt #585 can you tell me anything about it? I have a small forge an enjoy it a lot. Thank`s for your help.
   Dave Roberts - Sunday, 09/29/02 20:30:31 GMT

Guru, any idea when the patch kits will be available and what they will cost?
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/30/02 00:00:45 GMT

Patch Kits: Hopefully by the end of the week. However, it is the first of the month and there is much to many things I have have to do the first week of the month . . . No promises.
   - guru - Monday, 09/30/02 00:43:43 GMT

Goodell-Pratt:Dave, I had never heard of Goodell Pratt but a Google.com search brought up dozens of sites. Apparently they became the Millers Falls Company. The following looked like it had a very good history of the companies starting in the 1880's.

Goodell-Pratt Millers Falls History
   - guru - Monday, 09/30/02 00:56:36 GMT

guru ; Thanks for the help relining my forge. I fired the forge this morning water ran out for about 5 min.
the place where I was going to get 4140 scraps has switched to another metal BM-58 it is sposed to have simmaler propters to 4140 . Do you think BM-58 would do to make hammers and such ? Thanks
   jojo - Monday, 09/30/02 02:26:58 GMT

guru, I was brousing the iforge and reading the past demos. Are they available in print format or do you have them available in note book form? Thank you William
   triw - Monday, 09/30/02 04:37:20 GMT

Gee, that's a good idea Tirw...perhaps as a set of CDs in the Anvilfire store?
Hah! Another project to rob the good Guru of sleep.
   - Pete F - Monday, 09/30/02 07:37:43 GMT

Robert "Asgard" - Repair Days

Repair Days is a three-day fundraiser at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis. Metalworkers of all decriptions donate their time to repair items brought in by the general public, and all proceeds go to the museum. There's also an auction and a lot of other fun things.

You can find info on it here:


   - Marcus - Monday, 09/30/02 13:45:20 GMT

Kaowool™ high purity cerablanket I mispoke above, the cerablanket we carry is rated at 2,400°F not 2,300°F.

iForge: Triw, it is a project we have been working on but it is still off in the future. Many of the demos need the images redone for print. They look OK on screen but look terrible when printed.

BM-58: Jojo, I don't know that one. It does not sound like a standard alloy designation. It may be a trade name or import. If is is a higher carbon equivalent to 4140 like 4150 it would make a better hammer. 4140 ia actually a little on the low carbon side for hammers. Most hammers are made of higher carbon tools steels and then tempered soft for the alloy. This make them VERY tough.
   - guru - Monday, 09/30/02 14:15:46 GMT

Air hammer question: For compressor fed air hammers, is there a rule of thumb for cylinder diameter vs. ram weight, like pounds of ram weight per square inch of cylinder surface area?
From what I have been able to assertain from reading and comparing JYH air hammers it appears to be about 38# / sq. in. as a maximim. What do you think?
   Matt - Monday, 09/30/02 15:13:58 GMT

Good Guru:

It has been a while since I last posted on these pages but a slight problem has reared its head and I feel compelled to ask a question of you.
I built a Hugh Mcdonald steel rolling mill. It seems to be a great tool for drawing! After I replaced the hp motor I started with, with a 1 hp one, there is more than enough power to do the job! Now for the question, I used salvaged material for the construction of the mill and discovered that the type of steel I had for the rollers, was 4820. This is Nickel Molly steel. I discovered the "id" stamps in the end of the bar stock when I got it home (a practice everyone should do when they know the parentage of a material). In any case, it is still possible to stall the work at the drive roller (lack of enough friction I believe, this usually happens on the first pass of round stock with a heavy bite through the mill). When this happens there is a "smear" that shows up on the drive roller. I wonder if the steel is not up to the task at hand? As the roller isn't hardened, is the nickel acting as a lubricant? The matl that I was rolling was 4130.
Just a passing thought. This is the only thing bad I have to say about this GREAT machine!

Thank you in advance, Wayne Parris
   Wayne Parris - Monday, 09/30/02 15:38:45 GMT

BM58 is not a standard steel designation in the US, Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy or France. I agree with Guru that it is likely a propriatary trade name.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 09/30/02 16:28:15 GMT


Repair days looks like something we may put some consideration into. Looks like our Road Trip just got more interesting ;) Have to talk to the guys about it, and see what we can do about paying the gas money to drive out there.

Another quick question since I'm posting. I can't seem to leave well enough alone, and have decided that a new batch of coal deserves a new forge! We got the firepot from a blacksmith here locally, and it looks to be hand made. The rest we're building ourselves (cheaper that way, you understand. And MUCH more fun), Including scrounging up an electric blower. On our previous forges (there have been several "trial and errors") We have used either hand operated blowers (like that on our Buffalo forge riveters forge) or electric hair driers (Note: Never attempt to remove the heating element from a hair drier with a pair of pliars. Trust me.) Now we're going one step up. Inspired by a comment made almost in passing on the "Brake Drum Forge" page, we are going to use an old Vaccuum Cleaner for our air supply. It was getting thrown away because the bag was too tattered to work anymore, and I was not about to let a perfectly good electric motor go to waste. So here (at last) is my question: We obviously need to tone down the power of the thing a bit, if we're going to be able to forge with it (the thought of coal flying out of our new forge with the force of the vaccuum cleaner's engine brings to mind all those legal doccuments that have been the topic of so many posts here recently), so how can we do that? We're toying with two ideas.. one a "butterfly" type valve.. the jury is still out on whether we'd make that ourselves or buy a pluming piece from the hardware store, and a dimmer switch (like for electric lights) on the power cord of the motor. Which do you think would work best? Can you even use those dimmer switches on motors like that? Or would that damage the engine? Feel free to suggest other ideas.

Robert "Asgard"
Just keeps talking and talking and talking...
   Robert "Asgard" - Monday, 09/30/02 16:29:11 GMT

Air Hammer Calcs: Matt, There is a link in the Mark Linn Controlling your Air Hammer video that I should have included in the review.


He reccomends a program called PneuCalc. The ratio you are looking for varies a lot. In the old industrial hammers the lift ratio for a 100 pound hammer was 15:1. The ratio drops off as the hammer gets bigger and inversly SHOULD increase as the hammer gets smaller. However, the "NEW" air hammers are far below this ratio.
   - guru - Monday, 09/30/02 16:54:52 GMT

Robert "Asgard", I overcame the same problem by putting in a tee, 2" was what was handy, then blocking off the atmospheric side with a rag til i got as much blast as I wanted. Then I forged a flapper gate and built mountings that allowed much finer adjust ments as well as to completely dump so that there was no blast into the forge. For my setup I opted to have the air flow straight through the tee. By blocking, it was forced to turn 90 into the forge. when unblocked then, very little went to the forge, no need for another valve.

I don't want to be at work today, It is gorgeous hammering weather.
   Mills - Monday, 09/30/02 17:03:21 GMT

Rolls and Steel: Wayne, The McDonald Mill is somewhat limited by the roll diameter. When the bite angle is over 15° the steel absolutely WILL slip. So, for a bigger bite you need larger rolls. The problem is that both torque and pressure go up expontentialy I think. . . in any case they increase rapidly and one limit of the machine is how much force you can manualy create with the feed lever. The machine has a fairly small operating range and if you stay with that then everything will work fine.

Many old machines had cast iron rolls cast around a steel shaft. However published coefficients of friction say this would drive less than steel on steel. . .

Machinery's Handbook did not have values for alloys steels. I think the difference is so little that it is not considered. However, the harder a material is generally the lower the coefficient of friction.

I have been designing my own modified version of Hugh's machine and I figured 2-1/8" or 2-3/16"rolls were the way to go. Some of this had to do with the gear boxes available and the shaft sizes.
   - guru - Monday, 09/30/02 17:23:18 GMT

guru ; I will get some of that BM-58 and try and see what it is like. Thanks
   jojo - Monday, 09/30/02 17:25:29 GMT

Vacuume Cleaner Fan: Asgard, These draw much too much current to run on a dimmer. They also generaly make much too much air and noise. Mills sugestion is the way to go if that is what you use. One thing about a coal forge is that you are not stuck with any one component. Fire pots can be replaced, blowers changed. . .
   - guru - Monday, 09/30/02 17:28:20 GMT

Viruses: I mentioned them yesterday after a long silence because of the recent increase if virus mails I am getting. Judging from the batches that are coming in one or more of our readers has multiple viruses. I cannot help by warning the infectees because the new crop of viruses follows the lead of Klez and forges the return address.

I can tell you this. The fourty or so virus mails I've recieved in the past couple days were ALL sent via MS Outlook 5.x.
   - guru - Monday, 09/30/02 22:46:53 GMT


Got the safety glasses today, thanks! Heck of a good deal and I'm impressed with the speed of delivery. I'm used to waiting a lot longer for things, living on the edge of the third world as I do. Thanks again.
   vicopper - Monday, 09/30/02 23:25:50 GMT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2002 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC