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This is an archive of posts from September 1 - 8, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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I second PPW's caution in sucking up extra contents with your smithing air. I 've also have lost some lung function to being too loose about it for too long. When grinding or wire brushing, stick welding, taking the first hammer passes on annealed copper, brazing and so on...get a filter to suck through..then use it!
I hate that stuff hanging on my face too, but you'll hate working hard for each and every breath in the future even worse.
New research indicates that dust particles smaller than had been previously bothered with, seem to cause disproportionate damage to the tiny air sacks of the lung where the oxy gets through. Metal bearing dust is especially bad because it tends to generate free radicals that lead to scarring, according to the Science News article. You can't breathe real well through scar tissue. , besides an iron lung won't fit in the smithy because of all the tooling and junk in there...Just doesn't look good for the client to see you in one.
One look at me and you'll know ...I'm not a Jewish mother.
But if it takes guilt to get you to join the Cybersmiths and support Anvilfire, well, where's my apron? ( OK it is leather, but it's an apron none the less) sniff.
   - Pete F - Monday, 09/01/03 03:21:38 EDT

Pete, is it safe to hot-work copper without a filter mask?

Also, I think I asked about this a while back and didn't get an answer; is there any loss in the "stainlessness" of stainless steel after hotworking (i.e. forging) it?

Incoming hurricane in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Supposed to miss us by a bit, but why take chances?
   T. Gold - Monday, 09/01/03 03:23:50 EDT

Some thoughts on dust. Asbestos has been know to cause several lung illness's since roman times.The main fear came in the 80's, as the shipyard workers from WW II began to get sick. These workers were exposed to daily conditions of "thick as snow" asbestos beig flocked onto the surfaces inside the ships. Took 40 years, but it caught up to them. The asbestos that kills you is about 4 microns long, and looks like a straw if you look at it under a microscope. For refrence, a red blood cell is about 4 by 6 microns. That's right, the particles that get you are too small to see. If you want to protect yourself, use a respirator with the right filter. For dusts a HEPA filter will pull out these tiny dust particles. These are NOT the paper dust masks with one strap you get at a hardware store. The respirator must fit well, in industry we use an irritant gas to test the fit.The are special HEPA filters for welding. If you want to use a respirator, be aware that the effort to pull air thru the filters will add stress. If you have some lung function problems they will make it even harder to breath. Again in industry, OSHA requires a lung function test, and a medical exam prior to using a respirator. There have been cases of heart attacks brought on by respirator use. That said, Use a real respirator, as it will have an exhalation valve making it somewhat easier to breath thru. Keep it clean, all the moisture that you breath through the thing tends to breed germs.If you clean it out with the respirator cleaning wipes that are available, put it in a tupperware container. This keeps it clean until you need it again. Another reason to buy a real respirator is that you can use different filters, for instance a welding filter for welding, grinding, dust etc and a organic vapor filter for painting. Last but not least, The reason the ARMY requires clean shaven faces is that a gas mask(really good respirator)will not seal against facial hair.For you bearded guys a respirator pulled tight is better than nothing, but is not going to provide as much protection.
I use a new style from AO Safety. It uses low profile pancake style welding filters that fit under a welding hood. It also has a nifty lever that with one hand lets you drop the mask down after use, and with one hand return the mask to the fitted position. VERY easy to use.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Monday, 09/01/03 08:11:24 EDT

While on the safety subject, Hearing protection also comes to mind. Most smiths I see do not use hearing protection.Having a grandfather and father who went deaf from noise exposure, it is a sore spot with me.The OSHA standard requires noise testing etc. For a hobby shop, the best way to tell if noise is harming your hearing is the conversation test. If normal conversation is difficult, then hearing protection is indicated. Earplugs work, are cheap and come in a huge variety of styles.None work unless inserted correctly. Read the instructions, then insert per the instructions.This usually means reaching over your head, pulling up your ear then inserting.It usually means deep in the ear canal. Most earplug get reused.The foam type, with the open cell surface, quickly build up with gunk.Throw them away or you may get ear infections.The smooth foam typs are often more comfortable. I wear a set of muffs that the AO Safety guy gave me as a sample. They are comfortable, and the head band goes behind the head, so I can wear them under a welding hood.
If anyone is interested, I can offer the sources for these items. Just post and I will post them.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Monday, 09/01/03 08:24:59 EDT

Jeff, please post the sources for the safety gear.Thank you.
   - ironspider - Monday, 09/01/03 09:11:32 EDT

Cameron & Barkley is the best single source I have found. The are changing the name to Hagemeyer. Look on the net or in the US try 502-961-5930. Ask for MIKE. This is the louisville Ky branch. They will sell over the phone with a credit card. They have a very nice safety catalog. List prices are just that. Ask for discounts! I will get some model #'s tomorrow at work, and do another post.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Monday, 09/01/03 09:29:24 EDT

Thank you Jeff.
   - ironspider - Monday, 09/01/03 09:33:13 EDT

By the way, I have found that the best recieved black spray paint is available thru Cameron & Barkley. It is TOUGHCOAT MAX FLAT BLACK.It is by Krylon and covers better than any other I have tried. My customers like it better than any other I have tried.You can ship this UPS and comes 12 to a case. The TOUGHCOAT red oxide is also the best primer.The toughcoat grey primer is not Nearly as good.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Monday, 09/01/03 09:34:10 EDT

Alcon - Trenton anvil - question #1: it is possible to resurface the anvil's face with something like the method you describe. I think Robb Gunter has instructions out there somewhere on the Net. However (let me rephrase that, ahem...) HOWEVER, many perfectly serviceable anvils have been horribly maimed or rendered FUBAR by people attempting repair in this manner.

Question #2: It's much MORE valuable to me at least, sight unseen, just as it is. Indeed, what another has written, let me say also: that tool came by its scars the honest way. Let them stand.

All I mean is that unless the face is separated or has heavy heavy scarring, welding on it might well do more harm than good.

Just my 2 bits,
2 Swords
   Two Swords - Monday, 09/01/03 09:48:27 EDT

I have a 110 pound trenton, that was made in 1903, by Mr. Charlie Tayor. This info came from the book ANVILS IN AMERICA.I looked up the serial number. It even gave the initials the Mr Taylor but into the anvils he made. My anvil has the scars of 100 years of use, even has the corner of the heel broken off. Still a very good anvil. Mine had a few flakes about ready to fly off along the edges. Use a side grinder carefully and sparingly, and the edges are good as new. Depending on when the anvil was made, it may have a manganese steel top plate. Difficult to repair. I use mine with a bit of a belly in the top, and in fact use the belly when straightening. I would not weld this anvil, if it is at all useable. But, thats me.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Monday, 09/01/03 10:22:47 EDT

Anvil Repairs Alcon says, "The table shows some roll-over along the edge, but is otherwise in very
good condition."

This is NOT a canidate for weld repairs (VERY FEW ARE). If by "table" you are refering to the step at the horn that is normal. On most older anvils this area was left soft so that it could be used for chiseling. On the old wrought body steel faced anvils it is very soft. It is normal for this area to get cut up, dinged and mushroomed.

Take a grinder and carefully dress the mushrooming off the sides and if that leaves a sharp corner then dress it to about a 1/32 to 1/16" 45° chamfer.

Chips along the edges of face should be dressed lightly from the sides to help straighten the working area and then rounded lightly to remove sharp edges. On anvils with a soft face or that have seen heavy use occasionaly the edges mushroom. These should be dressed from the sides as above and then the resulting sharp edge radiused.

Heavy grinding can be done with an angle grinder but a belt sander works best for dressing the face and horn if they need it.

Anvils are deceptively sophisticated tools. Many are made of several pieces welded together and all good anvils have a very hard tool steel face. Welding either tool steel or wrought iron can be tricky. Welding tool steel always has the possibility of creating cracks and always changes the temper near the weld.
   - guru - Monday, 09/01/03 11:20:20 EDT

this is not so much a question as a thank you. it was wonderful to see your site bring on information of a professional nature in the iforge (flypress). i was once a hobby blacksmith and learned so much from your site. today i am a full-time blacksmith selling my trade daily. to compete in todays market requires maintaining old world standards and techniques and combining them with the newest of technologies. when a pureist blacksmith thinks for a moment he isn't embracing new technologies then i ask him how he lights up his shop.
i encourage you to continue to bring on additional technology info on a regular basis to help others make the leap from hobbiest to professional blacksmith. this will not only help to grow our trade but increase awarness in the marketplace for our trade.

   boomer - Monday, 09/01/03 12:52:30 EDT


One way this site continues to exist is through membership in the CSI. There a link at both the bottom and top of the page. For the price of a cup of coffee a day, you can help keep the site in existence AND get a few bennies as well.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/01/03 13:42:45 EDT

does a little giant, 250 pounds in this case, have a right way of rotation? i mean, facing the hammer does it turn clockwise or counter clockwise or it makes no difference?
thanks rod.
   rodrigo da matta - Monday, 09/01/03 14:00:02 EDT

Rotation: Rodrigo, There is no right or wrong direction of rotation on a Little Giant unless someone has fitted a brake to it.

If is has a band type brake on the crank wheel then the direction of rotation should be the same as tightening the brake.
   - guru - Monday, 09/01/03 14:26:42 EDT

rodrigo da matta:

I don't believe it matters, although most I've seem turn clockwise looking it the front.
   - grant - Monday, 09/01/03 14:28:44 EDT

I have been searching on the internet for blacksmithing classes and schools for a while now. But I have not found one less than three hours away. I was wondering if you know of any classes in southern New Hampshire?
   lauren - Monday, 09/01/03 14:30:40 EDT

Lauren, The closest I know of is in New Jersey. ABANA had the best list of schools on the net. Your best bet if you cannot aford to travel is to join your local blacksmiths group and go to every meeting.

Blacksmith schools are far and few between. Folks travel from the world over to go to Frank Turley's in New Mexico or John C. Campbell in North Carolina.
   - guru - Monday, 09/01/03 16:16:11 EDT

Blacksmithing classes.

Lauren, I take lessons from a blacksmith in Derry, NH. And the New England Blacksmiths occasionally have workshops and classes in Brentwood, NH. I know of several other smiths who give classes, not in NH, but 2 hours or less away.

Email me directly for more info, or for NEB info check out http://newenglandblacksmiths.org
   MarcG - Monday, 09/01/03 16:33:08 EDT

Boomer, I light my shop with candles---don't have electricity to it so when I need more light than the forge I use candles, of course I'm no purest so I guess this doesn't apply...

The *only* time it has been broken into was when I ran an extension cord out to it to provide a light for a project that was hitting a deadline. That night someone busted in the door and was very disappointed as nothing was taken, (all tools under 100# are kept in the basement...)

Folks, don't get hung up on labels; few are accurate, especially since smiths' tended to be on the cutting edge of technologies *and* rooted solidly in the past.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 09/01/03 16:55:47 EDT


> Folks, don't get hung up on labels; few are accurate, especially since smiths' tended to be on the cutting edge of
> technologies *and* rooted solidly in the past.

Well said!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/01/03 17:51:00 EDT

Burning down houses: I have a video of a Peter Ross demo where he gets asked this question (he was making nails) and said that he could find no historical evidence for the this practice. Furthermore, he said that it made no sense economically since the nails, even though expensive, were only a small fraction of the cost of the building. Most of the expense being in the carpentry.

   adam - Monday, 09/01/03 18:58:42 EDT


If it was not a common practice, why did the legislature pass a law against it? Why did they offer a reward to folks that did NOT do it.

Carpentry is expensive today, it wasn't then. Either slaves or the owners did the carpentry themselves.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/01/03 19:06:06 EDT

PawPaw: I dont know. And I dont know enough history to disagree with anyone on such issues. :)

Peter Ross is knowledgeable about early American History and so I thought his opinion was worth relaying to the discussion.

Another comment of his that I recall was that burning used timber was a inefficient way to retrieve the nails. If you burned it thoroughly enough to reduce it to ashes you'd lose a lot of metal too - and if you didnt youd just make the job of prying them out very messy. So it makes most sense just to pry them out of the lumber w/o burning.

This made sense to me when I heard it since I have scavenged a lot of lumber but have never studied Early Am Hist. :)
   adam - Monday, 09/01/03 21:44:41 EDT

Hello, i'm a beginer, i have an anvil with this stamped in the base w148 a8087 4 not sure about the spacing of the numbers. can you help me determin what this means? and also
what is a quality brand of cross peen hammers? I live in north centrel Illinois age 37 thank you very much Todd.
   Todd Walberg - Monday, 09/01/03 21:54:11 EDT

Having not followed the advice here and on other smithing sites, I have just built my first forge in the grand, romantic style, red brick, arched coal bunker underneath, half hood; and plan to use a great bellows from the back - side blast. I plan the bellows boards to be 40" X 30".
I've found lots of info on bellows construction, but cannot find anywhere any clues about what happens in those hidden few inches between bellows nozzel and heart of fire. I know there is a thingy called a tuyere, but how does nozzle fit into said tuyere, how far does nozzle need to be from heart, what should nozzle be ideally made of, what diameter should nozzle/tuyere/final blast hole be, ??? I have left a good gap(one brick wide X two high) for unknown eventualities, and have vague ideas about doing everything with clay... Corr, now I come to write it down there are more questions than I thought.
I live in the middle of England, right in the heart of industrial revolution history, and I can't find out about blowing in the back of a forge.... it's embarrasin'...
Hope someone can help,
Many thanks
Richard T
   Richard Tomes - Monday, 09/01/03 21:56:51 EDT

One thing Peter didn't take into account I think was the difference between labor then and labor now. That society was labor rich, and material poor. We are now labor poor and material rich. Two society's at opposite poles like that look at things very differently.

Slaves didn't have to be paid. They had to be housed, they built the houses. The had to be fed, they grew the food. They had to be clothed, they grew the cotton, spun the thread, wove the cloth, sewed the clothing. But in a cash poor society, they did not have to be paid.

That's a very important point to remember, because it controls so many other viewpoints. Who cared if the job was messy? Slaves didn't have to be clean.

See what I mean about how circumstances alter viewpoints?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/01/03 21:59:33 EDT


From the information you have given, I suspect (but don't KNOW yet) that your anvil is a Hay Budden. If the serial number is right, it was manufactured in 1918. It probably weighs 148 pounds. If you will scrub down the sides with a Scotch Brite pad, wipe the dust off, and don a rubbing of the sides, you will probably find some more information that would help me to identify it.

Quality brand of Cross Pien hammer? Both Kayne and Sons and Centaur Forge (advertisers on this site, they are listed on the pull down menu) sell good tools.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/01/03 22:03:26 EDT


The word tuyere, is french basically it means air pipe. One way to "connect" to the fire would be to set it so that the nose is a short distance from the hole in the brick. Temporarily put a piece of pipe there, and mold clay around it. Once the clay is hard, remove the pipe, (pull it through toward the fire pit) and go to work.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/01/03 22:05:50 EDT

Richard, Sorry I missed one. Pipe diameter should be at least 1.5" and 2.5 would be better.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/01/03 22:10:03 EDT

Peter Ross: I dont know how to account for the contradiction with the legislature. Of course the economy was quite different in the way you describe - people were cheap - stuff was valuable. However, I am sure Ross has good grasp of the econoimics of the time. He mentioned having studied records and accounts of the period and I doubt that his research was superficial. It may be that that these things were peculiar to Williamsburg - and I think he did qualify his remarks to that area as would any responsible historian - but I would be very surprised if it was a simple oversight or blunder - the sort of thing that I might do.

Anyway, it's something to ask Peter next time someone corners him at a meet :)
   adam - Monday, 09/01/03 22:59:14 EDT

Thanks Paw Paw. I'll be back the next time I'm clueless about something, which probably won't be long.
Richard T
   Richard Tomes - Monday, 09/01/03 23:07:34 EDT

Nail scavenging:

What I know about American Colonial History you could write on your thumbnail with a crayon, but I have some serious doubts about burning down buildings to scavenge nails, regardless of the cost of labor. Takes as much labor to mill lumber as it does to forge nails, I would think. Plus, if properly demolished (using that cheap conscripted labor), both the wood and the nails could be salvaged, if only for firewood. Even back then, folks liked their meat cooked, didn't they? Of course, the scarcity of iron may have some effect on local laws/mores at the time, labor costs notwithstanding. I defer to the historians on that issue.

One thing I do know a little bit about is Anglo-American criminal law. It has been a crime since the earliest times to burn down something that wasn't yours. Arson, plain and simple. If it is yours, you can destroy it by any means that doesn't constitute a threat to others and/or their property. (Okay, not so if the d*mn thing is designated as "historically important", but true in general) Burning something as large as a building, under many circumstances, constitutes a serious risk of "collateral damage" to crops, structures and livestock. Hence, it is quite illegal most places to raze buildings by burning, and has been for centuries. Vikings excepted, of course. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 09/01/03 23:10:00 EDT

I was just given an anvil that is broken in half around the middle between the base and the top. is there any way to repair it or is a lost cause? any help would be a appricated
   Thomas - Monday, 09/01/03 23:15:45 EDT

Hi Guys! Just a quick question... Which is easier to forge,silicon bronze or stainless? I'm familiar with what stainless looks like but what does silicon bronze look like? Is it very bronze looking? Can they both be used outside without treatment? Also which is more expensive? The biggest piece I would need would be 1/2" square and round and the smallest would be 3/8" round.
   - Wendy - Monday, 09/01/03 23:47:53 EDT

It is my understanding that this 'law' if that is what it was, was used by landlords who had tennents who failed to pay. Since wood was very cheap by the standards of the time and iron was really spendy the landlord could in theory recoup some of his losses....
But then again I am on teh west coast and can not easily look up and see if such a law exists or exsited on the eastern seaboard....

But is sorta sounds like an urban legend....
   Ralph - Tuesday, 09/02/03 01:19:01 EDT

Adam, I know from personal experience that nails are not melted in a wood fire. I have been using old pallets and teh nails and staples I find in teh ashes indicate no loss of materials....
   Ralph - Tuesday, 09/02/03 01:26:58 EDT

Forging Bronze: Wendy, The Bronze will forge much easier but is VERY easy to overheat and melt. It is also probably more expensive than the stainless and much more difficult to come by.

The stainless is only a little more difficult to work than mild steel. It can be arc welded with coated rods or by TIG. Raw forged stainless looks just like forged mild steel (same blue/black scale) and can be wax finished and left as is.

Some people will tell you that the stainless must be carefully annealed and passified (descaled with acid) to be "stainless". That is only true for MAXIMUM corrosion resistance. In normal use you can skip both processes unless you are going to polish the surface. In that case heat 304 stainless to a red and quench to anneal. The filing and polishing will remove enough surface that you do not need to passivate.

Passivating in an acid bath does two things, it removes scale AND it removes free surface iron. This is not practical on many machined parts so they are left as-machined.

Stainless needs to be forged at a higher temperature than mild steel. Do not let it get below a good red.

Besides the cost of the stainless the things that make it more expensive to make things out of it are:
  • Hard on drills, saws, shear blades and cutters.
  • Very sharp hard to remove burrs from drilling and cutting.
  • Drilling and turning chips are long wiry and razor sharp.
  • 303-305 is soft and easy to marr
  • 303-305 work hardens easily
  • High coefficient of expansion means that precision measurments must be taken at normal temperatures and holes must NEVER be test fitted hot or the guage/test piece may sieze.
  • Stainless against stainless galls easily.

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 09:09:54 EDT

Brick Forge: Richard, In 18th Century side blown brick forges there is a simple square hole about a brick high that passes from the back of the forge into front. This is located level with or just below the forge floor or hearth. It would be best if this hole sloped slightly downward toward the hearth to reduce buildup of fuel in the air passage. If I were building one I would have the openeing enter into a trough in the brick hearth and cover part of it with a loose brick in order to move the fire out away from the back wall when needed.

There is no "pipe" or nozzel in a standard brick forge. Later builders used components of modern cast iron forges (fire pots, tuyeers and ash dumps) in the bottom of brick forges.

The pipe from the bellows is fitted to the back of the forge wall.

There is considerable difference between English and American commercial coal forges. English forges use a side blown tuyeer that is water cooled. These are still manufactured there. American forges are bottom blown through a heavy cast iron fire pot. There have been experiments with water cooled tuyeers in American forges but they were never popular here. I suspect that part of the reason is the colder winters here and freezing of water in unheated shops being a common problem.

On primitive earthen or pit forges the tuyeer was made of fired clay ceramic. These were short tapered sections that the small end of one fit the large end of the other (about the size and shape of a small styrofoam cup. One or more was used as needed. This system was used for thousands of years.

Late Northern European forges and others with dual bellows used a "shield stone" in the back of the forge with a hole through it for the air. This was a fire resistant stone (often soap stone). Old bellows had wood or raw-hide nozzels that could not withstand fire or heat. The hole in the stone was larger in the back so that the nozzels from each of the bellows could blow into the hole without being connected to it. This also produced a sophisticated pnematic valving that prevented hot smoke from being sucked into the bellows. The air blast from one bellows blocking the intake of the other from the hole in the shield stone. Many modern reenactors do not understand this and plumb their bellows together.

They all work but have little details that need to be understood.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 09:50:55 EDT

Broken Anvil: Thomas, Several brands of high quality forged anvils were made in two halves and welded together at the waist. Peddinghaus anvils are made this way today.

Hay-Budden and Trenton both made welded at the waist anvils and so did a few other early 20th Century manufacturers. The upper body was all tool steel and the lower was forged or cast mild steel. If this is the type of anvil you have then there is no problem.

HOWEVER, There have been many poorly made cast iron, ductil iron and cast steel anvils made since the 1880's and the American market is currently flooded with cheap Chinese cast iron anvils. If the anvil is cast iron it was junk before it broke. The ductile and cast steel anvils can be repaired.

Step one is to carefully look at the break. If the middle is flat and relatively smooth then it was welded. If there is a grainy crystaline surface then it is a casting.

To repair a weldable anvil the edges of the joint should have a weld prep (45° chamfer) about 1" deep ground or cut on both pieces. Then the two parts should be carefully aligned and tack welded in a couple places. Prior to welding the joint area should be preheated to about 350°F due to one part being high carbon steel. Then using a large rod (E7018 or better) welding should proceed with one root pass all the way around. Then the slag should be cleaned and the finishing passed each applied all the way around and then cleaned before the next pass. I would use a weave bead to finish the top pass a little above the surface of the anvil. Peening each pass may also be a good idea to reduce stresses in the weld.

While welding you want to keep the top face of the anvil from getting hotter than about 500°F. You may need to wipe it down with a wet rag occasionaly. Be carful to handle the rag with tongs as steam will be generated that could cause burns.

After the anvil has cooled grind the welds flush and paint. It should be like new.

This is a relatively common break and I believe it is due to poor welding. Many of these anvils were arc welded in the earlist beginings of electric welding and many manufacturers wanted to be able to advertise their "modern electric proces" for making anvils. . . The rods were not well made and few people had experiance with arc welding.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 10:13:32 EDT

Myths: I THINK, but am not positive, that Paw-Paw has gotten sucked into speading one of those common myths that get started and then have a life of their own. This was reported in someone's book years ago, and I think has been debunked. . .

I DO believe that if there was a natural house fire (a common occurance) that every piece of metal would have been carefully scrounged at the time. This included nails, hinges and lintel bars. But no matter how valuable the metal, shelter was much more valuable in Colonial America.

The Broken Horn Myth: Another "modern" myth that has been reported widely on the Internet is that Northern "sappers" broke the horns off anvils in the South during the Civil War. It makes a great story but so far there is NO EVIDENCE that this was true. In FACT, I KNOW the fellow that came up with this theory in the early 1980's and was looking for the historical evidence (Bobby Dobson of Virginia). His theory was based on the prevalence in the South of many pre-Civil War anvils with the horns broken off. In fact, I have one of these anvils.

Bobby told his theory to people while looking for evidence and carefully told them it was a THEORY, HIS theory. I have done the same when the subject comes up. However, almost everyone that has heard this second hand now reports it as FACT. There is no evidence that it is true.

I have reported this as a myth several times on these pages and the same people continue to spread the myth. . . It has become common grist for the Civil War renactors story mills making it even more difficult to tell fact from fiction. So now the fact that it is reported on Civil War sites makes the matter of the truth much more problematic.

The fact is that most pre American Civil-War anvils were imported English anvils made with wrought iron bodies made from scrap wrought using the build up process. The horns of most English anvils, noteably the popular Mouse Hole anvils, were welded on as a seperate piece. This is a large difficult to make, poor design butt weld made in a highly stressed place. Failure of this weld was common. In fact, failures in the middle of the body of old anvils is not uncommon. Where they have failed you can see the surfaces of the bits of poorly welded scrap and ocassionaly identify wire, bolts and other artifacts in the break. . . In Anvils in America, Richard postman has photos of the sides of old anvils where you can see these artifacts and the fact that they were poorly welded. The Colonial anvil that I have with the missing horn ALSO has the face entirely WORN through in the middle. This anvil has had a long and terrible life and it is not surprising that the horn was broken off. . .

After the American Civil bulk iron (both wrought iron and mild steel) became available to anvil manufacturers and the bodies of anvils, though made by the build up process were made with bigger pieces and the horns were made contigious with the bodies instead of being welded on. Thus the problem generally disappears after this time.

These poor welds may have made it easier to break the horn off an anvil, but there is no evidence that this was done by marauding armies. . . It is just another myth that people should stop spreading.

If someone would verify the Nails story one way or the other I will put it AND the Horns story on a modern myths page. . . Along with testing swords on slaves and tempering them with the blood of a virgin. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 11:08:36 EDT

Some of you folks are still projecting modern situations on earlier times. At the time the nail rercovery was supposed to be going on you had a lot of earlier buildings on land that had been worn out growing tobacco with the owners moving on to better land to the west. So if you don't need the structures; but could re-use the ironwork...not to mention that *most* early houses do not survive a long time and so may not have been worth much and may not have much if any "milled lumber". I'd have to dig to give a good opinion on this.

Slavery was *much* more complex: "Bond of Iron" a book on a Virginia iron works run substantially by slave labour mentions that they preferred slave labour cause they didn't show up drunk all the time; but their slaves were paid bonuses at the same rate that the free workers were for exceeding production quotas. They rented slaves too and one letter still extant mentions that the owner will not rent the slave to them for that year as the slave doesn't want to work there again.

Slaves were also *capital* and so you did not want to risk them. When they cut the canal through the quartzite area with a very high silicosis risk they tried to rent slaves but couldn't. Their owners didn't want to risk damage to them and so advised them to hire the irish imigrants as no one cared if they died.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/02/03 11:29:12 EDT

Jock; Are you coming to SOF&A? The offer stands. Y'all Come! 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 09/02/03 12:08:28 EDT

Guru, can you suggest some acids to used for passivating stainless steel?

Also, your Tuesday, 09/02/03 10:13:32 EDT post intrigued me... what IS ductile iron? Is it good for anvils? Power hammer rams? Press frames? Can it be forged? Give us the lowdown on this weird material, O Great Guru.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 09/02/03 12:13:10 EDT

NAILS; The last time I heard 'em, the tour guides at Ford's Greenfield Village were perpetuating the "nail salvage" story.
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 09/02/03 12:15:54 EDT

T.GOLD; I got an education on ductile iron about 25 years ago. A customer wanted a piece of water main shortened up, so he had me drag my cutting torch over to the line to make the cut. HA! Ductile laughs at torches. You put a big gas eatin' tip on the torch, get a puddle started and hit the trigger.......NOTHIN'! Had to go get a BIG chop saw. Meinself, I don't care if I ever see the stuff again! Good luck. 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 09/02/03 12:29:39 EDT

The handy half mask respirator that I mentioned is an AOSAFETY QUICKLATCH. It is available in small, med., and large, in rubber and silicone materials. Silicone costs more/lasts longer. The welding/dust filters are P-100 pancake filters and come 10/box. The organic vapor cartridges are also 10/box. The comfortable earmuffs for hearing protection that fit under a welding helmet is a PELTOR # H6BV head band ear muff.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Tuesday, 09/02/03 12:50:48 EDT

Thanks Jeff
   - ironspider - Tuesday, 09/02/03 13:36:21 EDT

Worn out Tobacco Land. . . Now THIS I know about having had about six generations of my Attwell tobacco planter ancestors whom I have studied in depth. They were Virginia "growers" on the Northern Neck from 1690 to 1820, along with the Washingtons, Lees and many others.

On the Northern Neck tobacco plantations were HUGE. 10,000 acres was a small farm, 30,000 was average. Starting on the tip of the neck each generation moved inland. NOT because they had worn out the land but because the eldest son inherited the plantation and his brothers had to find new land. Land was cheap. On those huge plantations a very small part was in intense cultivation. Yes they wore out the land, but they just moved to the next field, NOT to a new farm, barn and house. With 30,000 acres you can move from 2,000 acre field to field every couple years and not have to come back to those lying "fallow" for a generation. Those fields were used to raise cattle and other non-intensive uses. It was not until much later when there was mechanized farming that entire farms were worn out by bad farming practices.

So. . the moving from farm to farm is another myth. On the Northern Neck the first settlements were down on the Chesepeake bay in the late 1600's. About every 25-30 years the new generation moved farther up the neck. By the time of the American Revolution my Atwell ancestors had moved from farm to farm all the way up to Quantico and Dumfries. After the Revolution the next generation had to move all the way to West Virginia to find cheap land and some members of the family headed for the far West.

This was typical all through the South where the Tobacco Culture was prominent. Modern writers of histories "projecting modern situations on earlier times" as Thomas pointed out, applied the then well known problems of later small farms, share croppers and mechanized farming to the generational moves of the Colonial period. People moved to new plantations because each generation wanted as much or MORE land as their parents had and land was cheap. . . Not because they had worn out the land. The average family with four sons coming of age needing 45,000 to 100,000 MORE acres each generation.

We are debunking all kinds of myths today.

Now what I want to know is why a Ukranian website hosted by a radio station is downloading about half of anvilfire once a week. . . mail.radioera.com.ua ??? spammers???? Anyone out there read Ukranian?
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 13:55:21 EDT

T Gold, On a whim I dunked a forged piece in a strong Nitric Acid Solution for an hour. Occasionally brushed it off. after an hour washed and laid on a bench. Somwe rust appeared where there was still scale but in general this piece stayed a nice clean gray for 2 weeks with no protective coating, indoors. Yesterday it laid out in the rain on a piece of rusty sheetmetal and got rust freckles all over. Haven't looked at it today. There is a starting point for you. Next I am going to see what HCl will do then on to H2SO4 cuase it what I gots.
   Mills - Tuesday, 09/02/03 14:16:18 EDT

Not too long ago we started a small shop on campus. Now we're trying to figure out where to put our clinker and other waste from the forges. Originally we planned to use it as road fill for the dirt roads on campus, but a couple of people were worried about toxins in the clinker waste that could seep into the nearby organic garden. If you know any toxic problems we could face or have any suggestions they would be much appreciated. Thanks, Andrew
   Andrew Morin - Tuesday, 09/02/03 14:48:41 EDT

age 71 in SE CT seen alot done alot but stilldont know a hell of alot
Did some blacksmithing with a
coal forge quite a while ago -was horibly affected by smoke and dust --I see that there are gas forges which seem to be cleaner to be around -- do you have any plans for building these things
thanks Sandy
   Sandy - Tuesday, 09/02/03 15:30:17 EDT

RE: Pulling of old nails.
I think there is more than one reason for the "Nail Scrounging".
1. The people that were moving out were doing so because they werent making a proper living where they were or were seeking their fortune other places.
2. If they werent making a living, every penny nail would be important.
3. If they were just moving on, why not burn it down and save some $$ by reclaiming the nails?
4. Housing shortage.

I suspect that the reason a bounty would be given for not burning the house to collect the nails wasnt so much for the nails as much as due to a housing shortage. If you add the cost of the nails vs. the time it takes to erect a structure (include cutting trees, etc etc). You will quickly see that it a clear benifit to stop "nail scrounging" by giving the folks moving away the $$ for new nails as opposed to them scrounging nails after burning down a perfectly good building.

I think that the nail scrounging story has a more dramatic flair if the settlers were doing "Just for the Nails." as opposed to more down to earth reasons.

Just my thoughts....
   David - Tuesday, 09/02/03 15:45:22 EDT

T. Gold, Nitric or Hydrofluoric. Be VERY careful! If you don't know how to use acids, DON'T. Both give off noxious fumes and will eat you right up if you get any on you, especially the HF. Remember: Always ADD ACID to WATER! Do not add water to acid or you may get an explosion.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/02/03 16:04:24 EDT

can you or anyone possibly tell/ show in a demo what solid phase welding is?
   dragon-boy - Tuesday, 09/02/03 16:41:52 EDT

Ukranian downloads

I wonder if it has anything to do with the recent archaeological interest in the Sythian people. There was an article in National Geographic recently and evidently the Sythians did a great deal of metal work, especially gold ornamentation.

BTW, can you plasma cut ductile iron ?
   chris smith - Tuesday, 09/02/03 17:37:36 EDT

Clinkers: Andrew, This question comes up once in a great while. For centuries the ashes and clinkers from coal furnaces were used to pave roads and cover paths. The problem is that such a quantity is produced for even small heating that they ended up going in "ash cans" and being picked up by the local trash collectors and put in the land fill. Large producers found an outlet in "cinder block".

Coal ash and clinkers are full of sulfur compounds that leach out and rapidly corrode forges. They also contain small quantities of heavy metals. I suspect the EPA has a lot to say about coal ash. The amount produced by a blacksmith shop is relatively minor but people are very picky about these things these days.

Its one of those subjects that if no one asks then its not a problem but if someone asks THEN its a problem.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 18:25:05 EDT

SOFA: I thought I might have a ride but it is a no go . . like my car with the whineing wheel bearing, sputtering engine and rear glass falling out. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 18:28:06 EDT

Gas Forges Sandy, See our plans page. There are links to the Ron Reil page as well as others.

If you have respiratory problems gas forges need to be vented just as any other hydrocarbon fuel burning device. Howeverm you CAN get away with using them unvented if you have tall ceilings and lots of ventilation.

Coal forges can be relatively clean with a proper hood and chimney. However, SOME smoke almost always escapes. Back when trade schools had dozens in a single shop they used forced exhust systems. Some were even "down draft" and had no hoods at all while being very clean. Takes a big fan and proper piping.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 18:37:31 EDT

I don't know much about colonial nails, but as a member of a highly respected profession (well, maybe not), I do have to read a lot of laws. One reason there *are* so many is that Congress is forever fixing things that ain't broke. So unless politicians (and lawyers) have changed a lot in 300 years, a law against burning down houses for the nails wouldn't necessarily mean that anyone actually *did* it.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 09/02/03 19:02:42 EDT

Re: the repair of anvils. I have a 1903 Trenton that is not all tool steel top. It has a top plate of tool steel, a horh and body of wrought iron, and a cast base. All this is also noted inANVILS IN AMERICA.The base may be cast steel or cast iron.According to the book, a special thin sheet of metal was used between the wrought body, and the cast base, and all was stacked and welded under a steam hammer. The book notes that Trentons later went to arc welding the body and base. My Anvil has obvious weld lines.
Also for anyone working the 300 series stainless steels, If you wire brush or sandblast/shotblast, be sure to use a stainless steel wire brush, and keep it seperate from you regular stuff. Any use of a plain steel brush, a stainless steel brush used on plain steel, or shot/sand contamianated with steel, will cause local rusting from the steel impregnated into the stainless. Also if heated to produce fire scale, 300 stainless steels with rust unless cleaned down to pure stainless. Also in some environments the rust on the surface can lead to cracking.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Tuesday, 09/02/03 19:29:25 EDT

Re: clinkers and ash. In some states ash can only be handled by liciensed haulers. There are heavy metals etc in this stuff. In both Ky. and In. they still mix ash with salt for road de-ice. My old co. used to give away ash from our power house to any and all, but due to the laws had to quit. The local gov'ts had the permits and got all they wanted. If I had to dispose of it otherwise it had to go to a regulated landfill.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Tuesday, 09/02/03 19:34:54 EDT

Writing Laws: Most of the laws on the books in the US (at all levels) are reactionary things that seemed important at the moment but probably never should have been passed in the first place. For many years I have thought that every new law should have a time limit and the reason it was passed as part of the law. IF at the end of the time limit the law had served no purpose OR the reason it was passed was deemed too reactionary to reinstate it then it would lapse quietly. Each time the law was reinstated the time limit would increase. Eventualy good laws would become permanent and bad laws would be weeded out.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 20:45:09 EDT


The current thinking on acid passivation of stainless steels recommends the use of citric acid at about 20% concentration. Use at 120F for about 20 minutes to a couple of hours until the surface is clean. Citric acid is available as a dry powder in the canning supplies section of your grocery.

I have had very good success passivating/electropolishing using a 25% solution of Ospho in water with about 10% H2SO4 added. Use a stainless steel anode and 12 vollts DC at about 6 to 12 amps. The polarity is correct when the bubbles are forming on the work piece and not on the anode.

I went into this in greater detail a couple three months ago, if you want to check the archives. Here in the tropical ocean climate, nothing I have treated this way has rusted, even when subjected to periodic wetting such as the scrub brush holder sitting on the kitchen sink for the last eight months.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 09/02/03 21:04:09 EDT

Being of obsessive mind, on this burning the house down thing for nails.

I went to where I first saw the story.

It was in a book at my local library "Practical Projects for the Blacksmith" by Ted
Tucker on page 35 of the first printing of the book in 1980 (I'll include the ISBN etc later as I intend to quote the author) the following is a quotation from that book.,

"The pilgrims who founded Plymouth in 1620 were mostly skilled farmers and artisans who brought a valuable cargo of tools, implements and utensils, including nails. The 35 settlers who arrived on the Fortune in November of 1621 included William Palmer of London, A "Nailer" (nailmaker). Meanwhile, Broadsides Published in England, listed nails among the "necessary supplies" to take to the New World.
For many years in America, fasteners of all types remained scarce and expensive. Nails, for example, were imported from England, where they were still made by hand. In addition to bequeathing nails in his will, a colonist would burn down his home when he moved in order to recover the nails! This problem became so acute that authorities in many communities with housing shortages offered to give a vacating owner an equivalent supply of nails if he would leave his home intact!"

The book goes on to explain the cottage industry of nail making in Pre-revolutionary America. However I see no references section to the book. Therefore to find the source of the claim, we would have to ask the author for his reference list.

BTW. The book quoted is a good reference for hobby blacksmiths. It has lots of projects with interesting side commentary and good overall explanations on basic technique and tools. Not to mention a really fun read.

ISBN 0-87857-294-5 Paperback and ISBN 0-87857-312-7 Hard Cover
Library of Congress TT220.T82 682'4 80-13552
   Sentonal - Tuesday, 09/02/03 21:15:22 EDT

Todd Walberg, If you can find a Channellock cross peen, I really like them, even though they are no long manufactured. I like a RIDGID cross peen. Craftsman of Sears still makes a decent one (I think).

Richard Tomes, There is one book which discusses the side blast forge setup and has a diagram of the same. "The Blacksmith and his Art" by Jess Hawley. If memory serves, William Allday & Sons, Ltd., manufactured the water cooled sideblast "tuyere nose" in England. Surely, there are some around in used condition. I saw three Allday metal forges in Scotland recently. They all have a large metal hearth and metal legs. It looks as though one could remove the tuyere and insert it into a brick forge.

Nail retrieval. When I was horseshoeing many moons ago, occasionally a horse wold kick over my shoeing box, and the nails would go flying. I always carried a small magnet to help pick up the nails. That's about as close as I'm going to get to the house burning/nail retrieval discussion.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/02/03 21:24:40 EDT

re: Burning down houses for nails - you're forgetting another part of the equation. For quite awhile in the British colonies they had tax laws/regulations regarding the production of finished goods, especially iron products including sheet, bar etc. that required the colonies to export raw materials back to Great Britain and import finished goods. One result was to make finished goods more expensive. I don't think that applied to nails specifically, but probably to the bar or sheet they were made from. So, I'd vote for the burn down the house for the nails crowd. I haven't seen anything specifically on that, but as an F&I reenactor have run across some of the tax laws.
   - gavainh - Tuesday, 09/02/03 21:43:37 EDT

Some of the laws that were at the heart of the Revolution were directly involved in the manufacture of finished iron ware, including nails.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 09/02/03 22:32:50 EDT

Nails. I had heard somewhere that Thomas Jefferson had a nail manufactory. According to www.decades.com, he did have one and had 10 year old slaves putting in 10 hour days making nails.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/02/03 22:38:04 EDT

re: Nails
Further to a law being passed forbidding burning down houses to claim nails- Have a look at www.dumblaws.com. Just because someone passed a law forbidding keeping your donkey in a bath tub (Georgia State law),or, you may not fish on a camels back (Idaho State law),or You can't shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile (from landlocked Tennessee State law), dosent neccessarily mean it was commonplace enough to be a problem.
   Phil - Tuesday, 09/02/03 22:57:00 EDT

Just an observation on the nail thread. (Threaded nails? Isn't that a contradiction? ;-)

When we had a late 19th century structure burnt down by the fire department (down on the point, where my parents house was built) the next day there were hundreds, if not thousands of nice fire-blued nails all over the ground and through the ashes. I still kick myself that I didn't drag out a magnet or just gather them by hand, but it was several weeks before I could get back to the site, and by then they were well rusted and the bulldozer was ready to move in.

Even in a post and beam structure, nails are used extensively for the clapboard, especially in a dwelling, which needs to be much more weather-tight than a barn.

In the Viking period it was a known practice to burn old ships to recover nails/rivets. As a matter of fact the last levy ship was burnt in the 13th(?) century to recover nails for a new ship, which then went unbuilt.

So as for the basic question: Could it be done? Yes. Was it done after an accidental fire? Certainly. Were buildings purposely burnt to recover the nails? Maybe, but it would be good to see the actual law and read some corraborative evidence to cinch the question.

Fired up the coal forge tonight. Temperature in the 70s, but so humid that I knocked off after about an hour.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

(Nails? You need some nails? Got a match?)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 09/02/03 23:38:31 EDT

Value of Nails: Several books on smithing have stated that the typical worker making nails could make 1,000 a day. That always sounded darned near impossible to me until I attended a AFC conference where they had a nail making contest. Amature nail makers and practiced smiths (but not full time nail makers) were making 20 to 28 nails in 15 minutes. That is about 100 nails an hour. Do that for 10 hours a day and you have 1,000 nails. . . Now that is REALLY hustling but with practice you get very fast. A "professional" nailer should have done at least 30 nails in 15 minutes. That allows time to get fuel, rebuild the fire, take short breaks and still make 100 nails an hour.

SO, you have children that are too young to be much good in the fields other than weeding (or working at it in the winter just to keep warm). How much was a child's labor worth at the time? Very little. They got fed and that was about it.

They may also have been a smith's apprentice, getting light hammer practice. Pay . . same as the slave child.

One or two children could make enough nails in a month to build a fairly decent sized house. OR to resell.

I can believe a shortage of nails. Most of North America's nails are now imported as they were 250 years ago and ANYTHING could interupt the supply causing a shortage . . even today.

I would be willing to bet that at leat ONE person did burn down a ramshakle old house that they really hated to retrieve the nails and the story spread and made people crazy and they passed laws against it. . . even though it was an isolated case. Crazy? We would do it today. Why not 200 years ago?
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/02/03 23:59:26 EDT

Cross Peen I missed that one and since Frank commented on it I'll throw in my two cents.

I too use Channellock cross peens and it is sad to hear they no longer make them. The face had a very accurately machined radius and a good chamfers. However, this made a round face that some people do not like. Kayne and Son and Centaur sell the Peddinghaus German style hammers with a square face. They are priced very economicaly and come in more sizes than many other manufacturers. Two years in a row I have bought 1000, 900 and 800 gram hammers from the Kaynes for the Boy Scout merit badge jamboree in Northern VA. These hammers MUST be dressed before use as the chamfered corners are much too sharp. Almost all cross pien and straight pien hammers come with sharp corners on the pien that needs dressing for smithing work.

I dress my hammers using a hand held belt sander. It is not the best tool but it works. Go slow and pay close attention to where you are going. It is easy to take too much off (unless you are making a dishing hammer out of a sledge).

We have recently been purchasing hammers at flea markets. However, they often want as much or more for an old used hammer as new ones currently cost. You need to look for the older patterns with good crisp chamfers and machined faces. If you can read the logo they are often major brands. The old Craftsman sledge we recently bought looked identical to a Plumb and to Channellock. I suspect they were all made at the same plant.

I have been purchasing ball piens. Not because I use them a lot but because I had misplaced the set of four different size hammers I had. I thought maybe they walked off (as tools have a habit of doing). Well, they showed up and I now have a graduated set of 7 ranging from about 4 oz. to 4 pounds and my apprentice a set of 5. Many of these sizes are no longer made. I will keep filling the gaps.

I prefer dressing the balls on ball piens before a handle is put on. It is difficult to manipulate the ball end on a grinder with the handle sticking out. You can also dress these in the lathe if there is no handle.

I am also looking for sheet metal, repousse' and body hammers but have not had much luck localy. I have the one pecking hammer I was given as a teenager and we found one nice repousse hammer at the flea market.

Flea marketeers have started putting handles on old hammers to increase their value. However, most are cheap handles put on poorly. Unless the price is close to what they sell for without handles ($3 to $8) the "new" handles reduce the value to me. .

IF I every get my big air hammer running I think I would prefer making hammers from scratch than buying them. Most of the sizes, shapes and styles I am looking for are no longer made or very rare. But I keep looking. Flea market prices are a bargain compared to making one yourself.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/03/03 00:37:18 EDT

nails: I appreciate all the nail info. I work in the smithy at a state historic site, and we get asked about the "house-burning/nail retrieval" quite a bit...never quite sure what to tell folks.

anvils (anvil geneaology perhaps?): I recently bought an old Acme anvil. Can anyone elaborate on these, in terms of quality, construction, etc.? I know they were sold by Sears, early 20th century...a 1902 catalogue touts them as having a "steel face affixed by a secret patented process"???? I'm guessing Acme was a "house brand" so speak, made by one or various established manufacturers at the time, but I'd appreciate any input you might have. Thanks, Chris
   Chris - Wednesday, 09/03/03 00:55:23 EDT

Guru, the hated Harbor Freight is selling a five-piece set of ball peens, from 8 to 32 oz... wood handles, so you can take 'em out to dress and if necessary, re-heat-treat 'em. I don't use the ball end of ball peens much meself yet or I'd be able to tell you how good the set was already. If you're interested, the set is item # 36523-5VGA, and they're on sale for 4.99... gotta love cheap Chinese-recycled-from-American steel.

Blacksmithing question: I rather like the look of scythe hammers, and Centaur has a Peddinghaus scythe hammer for a quite reasonable price. Are scythe hammers basically used for the same things as cross peens, or is there a good reason to use a cross peen instead?

The hurricane missed us and so did most of the rain in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 09/03/03 01:38:48 EDT


Acme anvils were made for Sears and Roebuck by Hay Budden. One of the better grades of anvil.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 09/03/03 02:08:57 EDT

Paw Paw...thanks for the Acme anvil info. A humorous foot-note to the anvil thread: One day at work, an exceptionally intelligent little boy... probably 7 years old...was going around the settlement explaining different pieces of armor and equipment to his parents. When they asked him about the anvil he said, "well, that's a anvil, but they're usually found falling from the sky in cartoons". You gotta love a child's honesty...he was absolutey right! :-)
   Chris - Wednesday, 09/03/03 08:05:24 EDT

Andrew - Clinkers

Trace elements are defined as elements present in coal in amounts of less than 1 percent by weight. Generally, trace elements are present in coal in amounts much lower 1 percent, and are reported in parts-per-million (ppm) by weight in the coal. A trace element concentration of 1 ppm = 0.0001% by weight, or expressed in another way, a 1 ppm concentration of a trace element equals one pound in one million pounds (500 tons) of coal. Most trace elements in West Virginia coals are present at levels of 10 to 100 ppm, or less.

Highly toxic elements (e.g. arsenic, mercury, lead, and selenium) are present in West Virginia coals, though generally in very low concentrations. How hazardous elements present in very low amounts adversely impact the environment is a matter of scale. For example, a coal fired power plant with no pollution controls in place theoretically would produce 10 tons of lead for each million tons of coal burned containing 10 ppm lead. However, modern pollution control measures provide controls against the release of large amounts of hazardous trace elements to the environment.

A table of statistical correlations of trace elements with ash yield, in decreasing order of significance, includes Chromium (Cr), Thorium (Th), Scandium (Sc), Cesium (Cs), Rubidium (Rb), Lithium (Li), Vanadium (V), Hafnium (Hf), Cerium (Ce), Lanthanum (La), Zirconium (Zr), Tantalum (Ta), Niobium (Nb), Dysprosium (Dy), Holmium (Ho), Lead (Pb), Samarium (Sm), Europium (Eu), Gallium (Ga) and Tellurium (Te). These elements likely occur within mineral matter in coal. Most of these elements probably occur in silicate minerals, especially clay minerals, which make up 60-70% of the mineral matter in coals.

It is the non-combustable and mineral matter of coal that forms the clinker.

ref: www.iforgeiron.com / blueprints / BP0051
   - Conner - Wednesday, 09/03/03 08:48:38 EDT

Hello, got a history question. Anyone here know of any sources of information on blacksmithing in the range of the 1820-1850 or thereabouts? It'd be great if I could find something even more specific, blacksmithing in Mormon settlements in Missouri around 1838, but I won't push my luck on that much. Anything at all that I can get ahold of would be great.

   Sam - Wednesday, 09/03/03 13:21:18 EDT

   dragon-boy - Wednesday, 09/03/03 13:58:50 EDT

I bought a "mini-anvil" from a steam fair. It sits in the hardy hole of a full-size anvil. I've put a couple of pictures of it here:



I can't yet see any obvious makers marks on it. It's difficult to tell from the pictures I've provided but it looks like it might have a welded on face?

The face is about 4.5" by 2.5", and the beck is 4.75" or so long. Any ideas on what sort of thing this was originally used for? It's got two different sized "pritchel holes" and another rectangular cutout.

   minglis - Wednesday, 09/03/03 17:27:36 EDT

A while ago somebody was asking for a source of square headed nuts and bolts ....I found this one that will ship small amounts ... sorry I can not remember who was asking but this may come in usefull to others as well http://users.powersupply.net/bolts/email-listing.htm
   Mark P - Wednesday, 09/03/03 19:25:45 EDT

Stake Anvil: Minglis, very nifty item. It appears to be quite old. It may be a bench or stake anvil rather than fitting the hardy hole. But this type thing was used both ways. As to its exact designed use that's a mystery to me. The rectangular cut out looks handy for bending small flat stock.

All kinds of craftspeople used specialty anvils. English locksmiths used a little 7 or 8" stake anvil with a leg that went through the bench and to the floor. They were about the same height as a leg vise and were usualy about a foot off the top of the bench. They were used for bending and riveting lock cases, riveting posts and other jobs in productions rates that wore grooves in the little anvils. Almost every trade had some kind of specialty anvil.

The difference in corrosion does seem to indicate that the top is welded on and probably high carbon steel. I would say from the cleanliness of the lines that this piece was made in production, not a one off. That doesn't make it any less rare but it doesn't appear to have been custom made.

Do you mind if I save your images for my long awaited anvils article?
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/03/03 20:48:29 EDT

Square Head Bolts: Square head nuts and bolts are still available from many places. What is no longer available is square head lag bolts. A few folks like the Kaynes order barrels full to resell but if they don't have the sive you are looking for then you are out of luck.

The bolt supply business in North America is in a sad state of afairs. The manufacturers do not inventory anything and expect their distributors to place paid orders a year in advance. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/03/03 20:53:15 EDT

Scythe Hammer: TG, The ones the kaynes are selling are a small square flat faced hammer that was originaly designed for sharpening a scythe blade by hammering the edge on a small portable scythe anvil. The shape of the pien is similar to a tinners riveting hammer. Its just a different hammer for a different feel of work.

I am not too crazy about Chinese hammers. They may work fine but the features are all washed out and are overly rounded. The ball piens I have seen are just plain ugly. Although all my collection is not the classic type, I an still looking. The old ones had beautiful chamfers blending from the large distinct center to octogon sections that flared out to the piens. A lot like the lines on a good old English leg vise.

Although it is not too much work to redress them, many cheep ball piens do not have a ball but a pointed bullet shaped pien.

I had a fellow telling me about the "texturing hammer" he had. He said it had spiral grooves running from the center of the face outward. . . This was tool drag from a broken bit or one that was run out of the work too fast! A reject that should have never left the factory. Yet it had been handled, painted and sold. . . Inspectors? Quality control? What are those?

Glad the typhoon missed you. I'm not too sure we will be so lucky this season. . . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/03/03 21:11:34 EDT

i have just started a metal hobby. i have started with some casting of pewter and other low-melting metals. my fuel i have been using has been kingsford charcoal. however, pewter is very easy to work with i find and i am slowly getting bored with the metal. i have also always had a keen interest in blacksmithing and i need some advice. just a few weeks ago, i made my own oven out of spare bricks lined with sheet metal. for an anvil i used a sledge hammer sitting on top of a piece of wood and a mining hammer for the beating. (i am an extreme amateur because i have no idea where to get anvils and tongs so i am forced to improvise.) i lit the charcoal and used a bellow to give it more air. i put the piece of iron (it is a piece of rebar) on a piece of charcoal then sorrounded it with charcoal. i worked the belows for an hour non-stop and finally after that hour passed i saw the rebar glowing just the tiniest bit. it was only dark cherry red. so i pulled it out of the fire and started to beat it. after a fiew beats, it turned black again. am i supposed to give more air to the charcoal or use another kind of fuel? i was thinking of making some sort of giant bellow to give it tons of air. could you please give me some advice?
thank you
   colin - Wednesday, 09/03/03 21:30:41 EDT


Kingsford, or any other pressed, briquette charcoal is pretty much worthless. Too much clay, dirt, crud and other adulterants in it to produce a clean hot fire. Real natural charcoal, the kind that hoity-toity restaurants and gourmets use, (to say nothing of poor folks who often make their own), works much better. It was the fuel of choice for centuries, until coal took over. You need a pretty good high pile of it to get the required heat, not just a few little briquettes. About 8 inches high should do the job, and you need plenty of air, too. For a start, you can try using a blow dryer for an air source. It is noisy and fragile, but it will work. You need enough fire to get the steel up to a yellow heat, particularly for rebar, which may be medium carbon steel with unknown alloys added.

Be cautious using the sledge hammer as an anvil, as it possibly too hard and may chip if struck by another hammer with no hot steel in between to cushion the blow. Wear safety glasses and hearing protection, always!

I suggest you read the Getting Started information on the FAQ's page located on the pull-down menu at the upper right of this page, and look over the articles on the 21st Century page as well. Get some books from the library, too.
As you come up with more questions, ask away and we'll try to answer them as best we can.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/03/03 22:50:34 EDT

Sam, A hard-to-find book talks all about the building and operation of the Maramec Iron Works near St.James, Missouri, 1826-1876. It is titled "Frontier Iron" by James D. Norris, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, 1964. It is fantastic, if you're interested in the history of that era. Great photo of six Maramec blacksmiths posing on page 93.

Colin, Not to get discouraged. Check out the "Getting Started" pages on this site. The Kingsford brand is not really charcoal. Charcoal is charred wood. I think the briquettes are some kind of compressed and treated sawdust, designed for outdoor cooking. If you can find a hand cranked metal fan/blower at the flea market, they provide a good blast through a 3" stovepipe. Forges in the U.S. often use a coking grade of coal.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/03/03 22:59:40 EDT

Guru; Check the Eastwood auto body goodies catalog. The textured face hammer you spoke of sounds a little like a body man's shrinking tool.
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 09/04/03 01:33:30 EDT

Jock; See http://www.eastwoodco.com/itemdy01.asp?T1=31062&Dep_Key1=BodFen
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 09/04/03 01:54:12 EDT

for the anvil obcessed (sp?), the following may be of interest and responses and comments appreciated.

an uncle of mine showed me an anvil that was found at a north eastern nevada ranch. it was covered with the expected rust and crud. when i first looked at it, i thought it was a trenton because of the unique pill shaped depression on the bottom. i then notice some lettering cast in relief on the side opposite the side (is there a better way to describe this side?) vs the typical side that shows who made it. kohlswa, sweden. the face is perfect with some minor chipping on some of the edges. the horn and "cutting table" is outstanding also. 93#. the rest of the markings are there, including the very small "made in sweden" and an odd shaped star on the "usual side". there is also the letter P on the edge of the heel.

the question. the face plate is obvious and i have no reason to believe, based on my examination, that it had been replaced; no welds, no grind marks. totally uniform ring throughout and no dead spots. i thought that these anvils were one piece cast steel. mr postman does not mention face plates when he describes the brand. the ad pictures that he published in AIA all show or suggest a face plate. does anyone know if face plates were used? did the earlier anvils use them and the later ones one piece?? i suspect this is over 100yrs old based on the history of this ranch, but i have no way to estimate. suggestions/comments welcome!! my uncle does not know it yet, but i will convince him that the most appropriate home for this piece is with me and my harem.

guru, i have an erin simmons "pein" and the "ball" is also somewhat pointed. it was not cheap.

thanks again
   rugg - Thursday, 09/04/03 02:04:30 EDT

All you newcomers who think you want to get involved in blacksmithing and want to learn how to do it RIGHT, instead of thrashin' around in the dark and trying to learn it by accident, might give some thought to hooking up with our good friend and brother Frank Turley. Frank has run a blacksmithing school in the absolutely, drop dead gorgeous state of New Mexico, up in Santa Fe, just about since the invention of dirt. You wanna see his resume? For starters, go to Google and type in "Turley Forge", then get ready to spend a long time reading the list of artists who mention Frank in THEIR resumes. I've visited his place and watched him run his class, and sure do wish I'd met him about 25 years ago. So, quit drinkin', smokin' and carousin', and pretty soon you'll have enough wampum to learn how to do smithing the right way. Good man, good friend, excellent smith.
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 09/04/03 02:32:03 EDT

Sam are you looking for morman settlements in that area and time period as well or just smith shops? Have you attended the historical smithy in nauvoo, I know that in is in il, but that is the only one I am poistive of from there on towards utah on the trail of the morman pioneers the only other permenant smith shop that i know of would have been in far west. As i say It has been a long time since I studed this so you may want to look on the lds website. I suspect that while traveling though they had a smithy as in the Revolutionary Blacksmith by paw paw wilson, which can also be found on this site under the stories page.
   dragon-boy - Thursday, 09/04/03 09:10:44 EDT

Rough Hammers:, No, this was not a purposfully textured face, I've seen those and Peddinghaus makes some that look like meat tenderizers for sheet metal work.

The ball piens I was speaking of are machined to that "bullet shape" by using the same radius setup on all sizes of hammer. The large ones are OK but the smaller they get the pointer they get. The smallest actually have sharp points.

I KNOW bad machining when I see it.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/04/03 11:51:43 EDT

Kohlswa: Rugg, The best I know of the Kohlswa company is that they have always been a foundry operation. They make many other things as well but it is all cast steel.

All the Kohlswa's I have seen had a brush texture all over like a broom finish on concrete. However the edge around the face is often ground smooth and that may appear to make it a seperate plate. The brush texture is from applying a coating to the inside of the sand molds.

It you look at the history of the company their anvils were being imported for over 70 years. My first anvil (the one in the story on our story page) came out of a little country blacksmith shop that dated from the early 1900's. It was too small (100 pounds) for a general shop and did not appear to be the shop's original anvil.

The depression in the bottom is not that unique, it is quite standard on most anvils. Some are not quite so regular and on forged anvils it can be quite rough. On Hay-Buddens it usualy is the shape of the base and rough, on Peddinghaus anvils it is roof shaped and rectangular.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/04/03 12:57:50 EDT

Thanks very much for the reply about my mini stake anvil. Of course you are most welcome to use the pictures however you like.

It is indeed a very nifty item, I couldn't resist it. I paid 18 quid for it (I think that's about 28 USD) at the Great Dorset Steam Fair in England, which is more than I usually would pay. But it called to me.

   minglis - Thursday, 09/04/03 13:17:15 EDT

More Ball Piens: The Erin Simmons hammer you spoke of has a parabola shaped pien. This is common on some modern brands of ball pien hammer. It is a smooth blended shape and the working part is very near spherical, not actually pointed. I am not crazy about them but that is a matter of taste. They work fine. Classic ball pien hammers have about 3/4 of a full sphere.

About the only thing I use ball piens for is riveting. But I also have done some texturing with them. I made a candle cup mold that uses a ball pien to flare the cup. Some smiths like to forge with them but it looks silly to me.

We are also collecting ball piens and striking hammers to convert to dishing hammers by welding on a big ball bearing. However, the big hard balls are harder to come by than the hammers. See repoussetools.com, Armourer's Hammers, for an example.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/04/03 13:26:04 EDT

Bradley hammer for sale:

   Paw Paw - Thursday, 09/04/03 15:23:21 EDT

Question about axles...

I'm at the point in my blacksmithing that I want to start making more of my own tools. I have heard that truck axles are a good source for metal over 1" in thickness. Before I head to the junkyard, what should I expect as a resonable price for the axles? Any tips for working with the axles? Just want to make sure that I don't get taken...
   Scott - Thursday, 09/04/03 17:40:39 EDT

Price of Junk Steel: Scott, If the truck or car axel/differential is in good condition the junk-yard will want the price for the whol thing. If is is seriously bent, broken or the differential removed they may give you the axels for a couple dollars. OR they may not let you into the yard at all.

Usualy these kinds of things are found in garages or service stations where something was taken apart and found to be too expensive to replace. Things like brake drums and rotors that are worn beyond safe use are gladly given away.

Other things that are medium to high carbon steel include all springs, leaf, coil and torsion. Little springs like valve and clutch springs are hand for making burrins and gravers. Coil springs can be made into punches, chisels and all kinds of things.

Axels are made of plain and alloy steels between 40 and 50 point carbon. Springs are usualy 60 to 95 point carbon but not always.

Another source is existing TOOLS. Hammers can be converted from one type to another. Pry bars are usualy alloy spring steel like 5160. The big ones can be made into cold chisles and small hammers.

DO NOT believe the JunkYard steels lists. Those are taken fom lists of suggested steels and often make it look like only ONE steel is used for a given job while in reality there are a hundred suitable steels and every manufacturer makes their own selection.

If you are serious about your tool making it pays to buy NEW steel of known composition.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/04/03 19:31:25 EDT

I am a 62 yr young blacksmith of over 40 years and hope I still have a few good years left in me.
I am in the Tampa, Fl area.
Even though I have 3 upright hammers in my shop one of them being a 50# Bradley I have always wanted a Bradley cushioned helve hammer after seeing one being used in Mich.
Could you please give me some leads on where to start looking.
Years ago Iron Age Antiques used to have some but I called them the other day and they said that they were not doing much with hammers anymore.
If you can help point me in the right direction it would be appreciated.
Dave Plowman
Plowman Forge
   Dave Plowman - Thursday, 09/04/03 19:50:03 EDT

Another source of good steel is machine shops. The smaller ones tend to keep all thier fall-offs and keep them identified. Just ask if they can sell you some of thier fall-offs. Common steel should be abot $0.30 to .50 a pound,or less. The tool steels can get pricey in a hurry.Large truck axles( shaft 1.5" or bigger) made in the last tens years or so are a modified 50 point steel,and will quench crack with water. Try quench at 1650F and temper at 350F for an hour and you should see Rc58.
Good luck
   - jeff reinhardt - Thursday, 09/04/03 20:31:43 EDT

guru, thanks for the response. the "pill" shape is what i thought was unique, classic for a trenton. depressions in general are common, i think.

your comment on the texture around the edge of the face makes perfect sense!!! it is textured about 3/8" all the way around. i knew i could get an explaination! this anvil is sweet. anvil gallery for AF?? i just got an iMAC and will soon get a dig cam. the apple is great.

thanks again

   rugg - Thursday, 09/04/03 21:37:27 EDT

Thanks for the info on the stainless. The only thing that I am unclear on is what you mean by "stainless against stainless galls easily" Please clarify. Also will stainless weld as well as steel(mig welder w/ gas) and can I use oxyacetylene to bend the atainless? Thanks
   - Wendy - Thursday, 09/04/03 22:58:07 EDT

I am sure this month (Sept)is the month I need to renew my CSI membership. Since I only do this once a yr. I have forgotten where to go to check the date mt CSI membership expires and how to re-up for another year. Please let me know what I need to do to renew. Thanks
To thoes of you who haven't joined CSI yet I suggest that you do so ASAP. Anvilfire is a wealth of information and a wonderfull research tool. Anyone who uses Anvilfire should support it.
   Harley - Friday, 09/05/03 05:29:58 EDT

I just recieved my first custom made knife forging hammer from Frank Turley and it's a beauty.I think I might have to take one of his courses someday.
   Chris Makin - Friday, 09/05/03 09:58:15 EDT

hey Harley, just go to the members Forum, in the post box at the bottom will be your expiration date.

Keep the forges burnin'!
   Escher - Friday, 09/05/03 10:12:47 EDT

1. What is a blacksmith? 2. What metals does a blacksmith use? 3. What are some objects made by forging?
   project explorers -3rd grade - Friday, 09/05/03 10:29:03 EDT

A blacksmith is a person that makes things of wrought iron and steel by forging and welding. Forging is the heating of metal until it is soft and then hammering it by hand or by machine to the desired shape. Welding can be done by forge or fire welding (heating and hammering the pieces together) or by modern methods using gas or electricity.

The metals used by a blacksmith are primarily wrought iron, iron alloys (iron mixed with other metals), steel or steel alloys. But blacksmiths also forge aluminium, brass, bronze, copper, stainless steel, titanium and any other forgable metal.

Blacksmiths make almost everything that can be made of steel. They can forge everything from nails to ships anchors that weigh tons. Blacksmiths working in small shops and big induatrial plants make all the steel tools used by other workers like hammers, wrenches, screw drivers, chisels, pry bars. Industrial blacksmiths forge parts for cars, trucks and buses such as the crankshaft, axels and springs and many other important parts.

Artist Blacksmiths make fancy hand railings, sculpture and reproductions of antique items. Colonial era hardware like strap hinges and door latches are popular. They also make fireplace sets and other decorative steel items.

More coming by mail.

   - guru - Friday, 09/05/03 12:01:25 EDT

Galling: Wendy, This is when two pieces of metal rubbing against each other stick and pull grains of metal from each piece. In sliding situations the grains litteraly snowball into balls and create severe wear called galling. On stainless threads this is a significant problem. Fasteners that go IN smooth and tighten easily often gall when removed and result in broken fasteners and torn up threaded holes.

On well made devices that have stainless screws in stainless parts the fasteners are hard chrome plated to reduce the problem of galling. This is common on pumps. These fasteners are produced specialy by the part manufacturer and thus are themselves special parts (with a special price).
   - guru - Friday, 09/05/03 12:20:29 EDT

Frank - Thanks for the book recomendation, i'll see if I can hunt it down somehow.

dragon-boy - Well, thing is I'm taking archaeology this year, and our instructor has a dig site at Haun's Mill. The site is entirely gone now, however, turned to farmland, and time has altered the course of the stream it was built near. One of the things that might help us get our bearings is knowing what the layout of the smithy was like, since it would have been one of the major structures in the community. And another question is about it's construction. It was made of wood, and the people would all gather in there at a sign of danger. This happens to be part of how they were killed, the militia that came in and killed them apparently stuck their rifles theough gaps in the wall. But why were these gaps there? Was the building simply new and not yet (chinked, I think it was called?). Or were the gaps perhaps there from a need of having ventilation for the smithy? These are some of the things we're trying to figure out right now. I'd be grateful of anything you might be able to point us towards. I'll look into the smithy at Nauvoo if I can.
   Sam - Friday, 09/05/03 13:09:13 EDT

well, try lookinto the history of the morman church at LDS. org, I seem to remember that huans mill was not suposed to be a very permanet town so it would very likly just be the abscence of chinking, or if it was chinked it was knocked out. chinking is just mud and straw mixed together. it is brittle so this is likly, of course it could also have been left open as a added cooling factor of the smithy, sorry i'm not more help!
   dragon-boy - Friday, 09/05/03 13:18:04 EDT

Sam, www.abebooks.com has several copies of Frontier Iron for sale, fairly reasonably.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/05/03 16:30:13 EDT

Sam, it seems to me the gaps in the walls were intentional.
But then again I am only guessing. The shop I volunteer at was form the 1840 time frame. But since it was a Hudson Bay Company Fort, and shop, it was built rather heavy and tight, so it is of no use to you in that repect. Also our shop was a factory( ie a major industrial concern) So we had 4 forges at this site.
   Ralph - Friday, 09/05/03 16:49:37 EDT


You can weld stainless with your MIG. You just need stainless wire and the right gas, I used to use one called "tri-mix" but your welding supply should be able to steer you right. With stainless it helps a LOT to keep the gun as close to the work as possible!
   - grant - Friday, 09/05/03 18:55:18 EDT

Stainless steels fall in to several groups, the most common being the 300 series and the 400 series. Most people think of the 300 series when they think of stainless. The 300 series are usually 18% chrome and 8% nickle. The other trace elements are varied for properties. The 300 series stainless steels will not oxidize(rust)at any reasonable temp. But will rust if worked with tools that have been used with steel. Wire brushs need to be stainless and used only on stainless as well as grinders shot blast ETC. After forging on a steel anvil with steel tools the stainless WILL rust. Mechanical remova; of the oxide layer is the safest way to return the bright stainless finisn\h. Some industrys use electropolish, but it is not practical for thre small shop(nor safe) 300 stainless does forge well but takes more energy to move the metal. The 400 series stainless steels are high strenght at high temp alloys, used in valve trims, and other high temp enviroments that require high strenghtat high temp. with chemical resistance.Another use is 440c stainless, used in knife blades and surgical equipement. The 400 series are normally 13% chrome. The 400 series are magnetic, but not as strongly as steel. The 300 series are normally not magnetic, except when work hardened, and then only slightly. The 400 series will forge, but require more effort the the 300 series.The 400 series will harden by heattreatment and quenching, where the 300 series will work harden a bit. This is all a little long winded, but the best source for information on the stainless steel, such as how hot to forge, heat treatment ETC can be found in a CARPENTER Technologies handbook.By the way 300 series stainless welds well with stick, mig, and tig.The 400 series are much more difficult to weld.
Good luck.
   - jeff reinhardt - Friday, 09/05/03 19:52:21 EDT

Stainless: The reason I left out MIG is the high cost of a roll of wire (unless you are using a little spool on gun setup) and the different cylinder of gas. Unless you are setting up to weld a LOT of stainless it is a tad expensive. Rods do a great job and clean up nicely.

SS Corrosion: Please see my article on the 21st Century Page about the 304 stainless door latch. It is now 30 years old. It is on the front door of my home, a grist miil that is setting IN a large creek. The door is only 50 feet from year round running water. The humidity here is worse than terrible and I have things I made 20 years ago that look over 100. . . The stainless latch has not been cleaned waxed or oiled since it was installed with an "as-forged" finish. At the time it was installed it had a thin coat of wax put on to give it an even "wetted" color so that oily hand prints didn't make it look look stained.

Today it looks almost identical to the photo. The most used parts of the grip are slightly bright from wear and there is the slightest bit of "foxing" of rust in places (you have to look close to see it). Waxing will cover that and it will probably go another 30 years without change . . if the mill lasts that long. It is nearly 200 years old now and ready to tip over. . .

Most SS corosion I have seen has been due to contamination from steel tools used to manufacture it OR handle it. The slightest dust of carbon steel embedded in the surface will turn bright red. Cutters routinly break down while doing their job leaving carbon steel embeded in the surface. Stainless in contact with carbon steel and an electrolyte (any contaminated water, acid rain, dishwater. . ) becomes stained with the iron from the carbon steel.

If you forge stainless on an anvil covered with scale from carbon steel or power hammer dies with scale then that scale will contaminate the surface of the stainless. If you start clean and avoid carbon steel wire brushes you should have little trouble. Try it.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/06/03 01:01:07 EDT

Dear Mr. T.Gold and Mr. Ralph,

Not too long ago(august 26th to be precise), I posted about my desire to make a gas forge and meet other smiths in the Everett, Wa area. We had some e-mail trouble, but I am pretty sure I have it all solved now. If you could try to send me that information one last time, I would be eternally in your debt...
Thank you again, for your great website and your time,
   Shane Qualls - Saturday, 09/06/03 06:48:16 EDT

I am a soldier currently deployed to Iraq. I am a certified welder though that is not the job I do for the Army. I am also an aspiring blacksmith. I would say that my skill and knowledge level in working with metal is advanced. I have a specific interest in making knives and have done extensive research on the subject. I have an idea to make a knife out of the barrel of an Iraqi AK-47. My question is what kind of steel is an Iraqi AK-47 made of and how do I apply the flux to forge weld it.
   PFC Matthew Kasten - Saturday, 09/06/03 07:05:16 EDT

PFC Matthew, I'm coming to you form the M-1 era! My forging industry handbook from 1970 suggests 1041 and 1141 (medium carbon steel) for your everyday gun barrel. 4150 is listed, I suppose for high strength. 4150 is a "chrome-moly steel" which presents welding difficulties, even with conventional welding techniques. It requires pre-heat and stress relieving after the weld. This might be a toughy to forge weld.

The 10 and 11 series I would try to forge weld at a sweating or "low welding heat", no sparks. Heat to at least an bright orange, apply flux, put in forge and take welding heat. A clean, "quartzy" sand can be used as flux; it doesn't melt and glaze the surface quite as readily as borax.

There is a Q&A forum about your type of weapon at: www.hk94.com/hk/index.php?showtopic=477 .
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/06/03 10:29:44 EDT

E-3 Matthew & General Turley, sir; I wonder if it makes a difference where the AK was made. The Chinese weren't above chrome plating the bores on their versions of Mr Kalashnikov's creations, although the middle eastern versions could well be Maadis from Egypt
   - 3dogs - Saturday, 09/06/03 12:22:40 EDT

Allmost all the Ak's have chromed bores, as this allow the use of the corrosive powders that most of the former east block used. The recievers were chromed for the same reason as well as wear protection. The SKS types were treated similarly.
   - jeff reinhardt - Saturday, 09/06/03 12:54:32 EDT


Your comment echo my training. I wish Dr. Jim Hrisoulas was available, he made some pattern welded billets from AK barells.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 09/06/03 15:52:42 EDT

This isn't a forging question, but I've asked on other sites without an answer, so I thought I'd try here:
If I screw sheet aluminum to a frame made of box tube steel, will I get a bi-metal reaction?
   james donahue - Sunday, 09/07/03 18:19:20 EDT


Yes you will. The exact mechanics of what would happen will have to be answered by either Jock or QC, but I'm sure there will be a reaction.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 09/07/03 18:54:49 EDT

If you look up GALVANIC CORROSION And look for a table called galvanic series. You can tell if two metals will react, and how strongly from this table. In effwct the two dissimilar metals become a cell, as in battery. If any electrolyte is present, ie. water etc, then electron flow just as in a battery, and corrosion occurs. Aluminum and steel will corrode. The only way to prevent corrosion is to totally isolate the two meetals from each other. Think like electrical insulation.
   - jeff reinhardt - Sunday, 09/07/03 19:28:28 EDT

I have detail pictures of my hammer that you requested. You asked me to post on the user gallery at Yahoo. I have no idea how. Please advise and I will try. By the way I went back to a multileaf spring, and it appears to be better than the tapered spring.
   - jeff reinhardt - Sunday, 09/07/03 19:40:00 EDT

Anyone remember way back when I first joined this forum? A couple of people suggested making a forge with a pot full of lava rock and a blown burner.

Looks like something very similar has been done...

Heavy trade winds in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   - T Gold - Sunday, 09/07/03 21:44:19 EDT

Out door pres.
After opinion on preserveing forged steel out side in weather .
I want to keep the item black , (at the moment it's painted with primer and enamal spray paint )I was told that if you powder coat steel to be left out in the weather ,without hot galvanizing it first, the steel will rust under the powder coating .Forcing the coating to peel off .Making an ugly job.
Is this right ? or an old mythe ? or is it just a case of bad preperation on the side of the powder coater's
If it is true , could you get away with a zinc coating rather than the full gal treatment,or copper , like the process used in chromeing ,without the final chrome plateing
The reason I ask is that any gal. work I've seen done before has had to be re-worked to try and staighten back up after the hot dip, and the rough handleing of any local gal plants ,and that was large industrial jobs not small forged pieces (1m high x 400-500mm)

Mostly sunny 44- 77 f. need rain.. Ipswich Australia
   - wayne - Sunday, 09/07/03 22:11:56 EDT

Over the weekend I had chance to show off my craft at a SCA event in Indiana. While there I convesed with several people who have become interested in building there own forge's. One gentle ask about hand cranked blowers. I exsplained I had gotten mine from a antique dealer and I had no ideal were one could buy one new. One Gentle spoke up saying that he had the understanding that there was a company making hand cranked blowers again but could not remeber the name or location of said company. Does anyone know were and who theye are. Or even if theye exist?
   James - Sunday, 09/07/03 22:16:28 EDT

Bi-metalic Corrosion: There are two factors in bi metalic corrosion, one is the galvanic difference as Jeff mentioned. See our FAQ's page for a chart. The other is solubility. Steel and Aluminium are about the worst combination you can put together.

Bi-metalic corrosion is a condition where dissimalar metals create an electrical circuit via an electrolyte (rain water etc) and one metal tries to plate the other. This results in very heavy pitting and ugly staining in a short tims.

That said, a LOT of things are built with steel frames and aluminium covers. Truck bodies and some automobiles for example. To reduce corrosion the joint usualy has an isolation strip in the joint. This can be rubber, building felt or non-absorbant gasketing. Both metals are also treated as best as possible to prevent corrosion individualy. The steel is cleaned, the galvanized or phosphated and cold galvanized then primed. Aluminium is anodized (unusual on sheets) or lacquered. The joining fastener is then usualy something with corrosion resistance that is compatible with both materials. In this case stainless rivets or screws. However, stainless to aluminium bimetalic corrosion DOES occur, it is just slower and less likely to end up with disolved fasteners.

Although the isolating gasket helps it can also add to the problem by becoming a moisture trap. Anywhere that moisture can remain trapped for a long time creates a situation where corrosion flourishes.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/07/03 23:36:20 EDT

PFC Matthew & Frank Turley, I can speak with authority on the M-16s that were manufactured from 1976 to 1979 - I was the heat treat meatllurgist responsible for trating all the steel before it was sent to Colt to be made into barrels. It was a special proprietary grade around .50 carbon with chrome, molybdenum, and vanadium. All were at fairly high levels to increase toughness at elevated temperatures that were obtained from automatic fire. This material was oil quenched, and then tempered at 1300, 1310, or 1320 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the actual chrome, moly and vanadium content. End hardness was 30, 31, or 32 Rockwell C. Sometimes we had git a 33 or 34 and had to retemper.

Extrapolating to the AK - they probably did something similar with alloy content to minimize barrel droop during automatic fire. One posiible effect for forge welding would be a stiff material to work due alloy conten.

Good luck on trying though.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 09/07/03 23:36:49 EDT

Galvanic Reactions:

On modern sailboats we're always isolating stainless steel and bronze elements from aluminum masts, spars and various rails, through use of gaskets, sealants and other techniques. (Note- not a problem on our longship, but we still match metals carefully the few times we do fasten something- the marine environment is extremely corrosive.

Which brings me to another thought- what's the environment? If it's something that's going to sit inside in a cool, dry atmosphere, I wouldn't worry about it. If, on the other claw, it is meant to be used in a tropical marine environment then it would be very important.


Vaugn Brooks has them in the Centaur Forge catalog, but they want $449, U.S., for them! If you're doing a general blacksmithing demo, you're better of just getting an electric blower, especially for home use. (Mine came out of a copying machine, was a gift, and has lasted me at least 12 years.) If you're not going to do the whole medieval shtick, with double bellows and tuyere stone, I don't see where a hand-cranked blower is any better than an electric- it has a much shorter history than bellows and it seems to have more problems than any other air supply. The best thing about them is that they take up less space than bellows and they can keep Boy Scouts busy (but so can bellows). If it's a matter of portability, there are also lots of 12 volt blowers out there too.

Actually felt like autumn on the banks of the lower potomac, another good day of smithing getting ready for Hastings XXXV.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 09/07/03 23:48:22 EDT

Gas Chip Forges and Hand Crank Blowers: Both are made in England and so are water cooled side blown tuyeers.

The gas ceramic chip forges use synthetic Mullite chips for a fire bed and a refractory gas grate. The burner controls are a little tricky. The ceramic chips must be screened ocassionaly to get rid of the fines that will clog the gas jets and must also be replaced regularly. Chip replacement is a significant expense.

The up side to these forges is that they are SORT of like using a coal fire. The down side to these forges is that the large exposed glowing mass of ceramic is VERY hot to work near and requires filter glasses at all times.

The outfit that sells Vaughan/Brooks in England sells the hand crank blowers. Most are exported to third world countries where there is no electricity for a motor.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/07/03 23:48:37 EDT

Out Door Finishing:

I've written on this subject many times. First, MY preferred finish: Sandblast or chemical etch clean, cold galvanize with 98% powder zinc paint, coat with a neutral primer (Dupont red oxide lacquer primer), then a top coat of your choice. This is a 20 to 30 year finish and may be touched up and given a new top coat and go 50 years without being stripped and repainted.

The cleaning is VERY important. Scale is brittle and cracks, flakes off and takes paint with it. If you use coal then the steel is contaminated via coal plating outside the fire center and this is both hydroscopic and corrosive. Any oil from drilling, sawing, handling will prevent paint from adhearing.

Chemical cleaing use acids and they MUST be carefully neutralized and then the neutralizing soda carefully rinsed off. Acid cleaning DOES get into places that sand blasting does not HOWEVER, it also gets into places that you cannot get it out of. . . I think this is worse.

In many places sand blasting is being replaced by blasting with crushed dry ice to avoid the sand disposal and silica particle problems.

The cold galvanizing is not as good as hot galvanizing but it avoids the problems you mentioned and it can be done in your shop. The only problem is that zinc paint is identical in color and texture to the sand blasted steel. So care must be taken to get a good coating. Sometimes a little color is added to make it more visible. However, the more paint solids there are the less protective the cold galvanizing.

"Zinc rich", "Zinc Chromate" and "zinc bearing" paints ARE NOT cold galvanizing and are just a lot of marketing hype (a waste of time and money).

The neutral primer coat is chemicaly neutral so that pigments in the top coat do not react with the zinc. AND it is a different color again so that you can SEE that you have a 100% covering as well as the same with the top coat.

I like to spray paint on the zinc and primer but brush on the final coat so that I can work it into cracks and crevices then smooth out the over flow.

The top coat can be any good enamel, laquer or epoxy of any color. Black is boring an unimaginative but I am not going to fight that battle now. .

Powder coating is applied directly over CLEAN bare metal. It is very durable unless it is chipped. THEN, when you get rust, there is no protection. SOME powder coaters will quote you on special marine duty coating which uses a base coat of a zinc paint and then a second top coat. However, for powder coating to work the paint solids are pretty high and the protection is not as good as galvanizing or cold galvanizing paint.

Powder coating CAN be applied over hot galvanizing sucessfully but there is a special galvanizing process AND the galvanize should be chemicaly etched and must be absolutely clean (no oily hand prints). If your galvanizer does not regularly work with your powder coater then the odds are that the process is not right and yes you get a mess.

If you are applying ANY paint over galvanizing the zinc must be cleaned than aged, etched or painted with special etching zinc primer. If the zinc is shiney paint will not stick.
   - guru - Monday, 09/08/03 00:20:32 EDT

Cleaning: I forgot FLUX. Flux from both arc welding and forge welding contain borax. When melted in the welding process it becomes anhydrous (without water). The natural state for borax is 10 waters per molecule of borax. . It will absorb this THROUGH paint, expand, flake the paint, make a boil, trap more water, corrode the metal, make rust, trap more water and so on. . .

It is very difficult to chemicaly clean anyhdrous flux without a long soak. Sand blasting removes it best. Clean component parts by chipping and power wire brushing before assembly. Then have the finished work cleaned before finishing.

The statement "cleanliness is next to godliness" is THE most applicable to surgery, food preservation and painting steel. In that order.
   - guru - Monday, 09/08/03 00:30:37 EDT

Thanks , your right painting is the easiest . Trying to be too fancy , some times you forget the basics.

Just got to remember the 5 P's

Once again thanks.

And I like black. ;)

Warming up and it's only just spring 11-27 c Ipswich Australia
   - wayne - Monday, 09/08/03 07:59:58 EDT

Guru once again we thankyou for the weekend tutorial! you are a very generous man. thankyou for the knowledge!
   dragon-boy - Monday, 09/08/03 08:59:30 EDT

To post pictures on the Yahoo site, go to the drop-down box at the top-right of this page and select "User Gallery (yahoo!)". This will surf you onto Anvilfire's Yahoogroups site. Clicking on "Photos" on the left-hand side of the screen will get you to Anvilfire's very own photo gallery. Somewhere on the top right is another link to "Add Photo". That will bring up the instructions on how to add photos there.

I don't know the settings on this group, but it's possible that you need to have a Yahoo ID to be able to do this. If you don't have one and would rather not get one, or even if you just don't want to go through the posting process, then email the pictures to me and I'll gladly put them up for you.

Thanks for taking the pictures. I'm looking forward to seeing them.

   MarcG - Monday, 09/08/03 09:46:11 EDT

Oops, I meant top left for the "Add Photo" link.
   MarcG - Monday, 09/08/03 09:47:10 EDT


After you get to the Yahoo site, first create an album with your name, THEN add the photo's to your album.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/08/03 10:04:54 EDT

i cant make my own charcoal because the ground is just too dry and there is too much of a risk in starting a fire. do you have any suggestions on where to get pure charcoal?
thank you
   colin - Monday, 09/08/03 10:20:06 EDT


It would help a lot, if we knew where you are. If there is a resturant supply company in your area, they may sell chunk charcoal. If that doesn't work, Wal Mart sometimes carry it.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/08/03 10:34:24 EDT

You can buy chunk charcoal at most local restaurant supply stores, or alternately, find a restaurant that uses chunk charcoal and see if you can have them order some extra for you to buy. Most restaurant managers are amiable to this, at least those I've known. Also, Wal-Mart and stores of a similar vein often sell the stuff.

As an important side note: Since the ground is so dry, always keep a charged hose (i.e. water on and ready to spray) and/or a fire extinguisher handy at all times when forging. Heck, even if the ground is wet, this is still a good idea. I always have both on hand. In the event of a boo-boo, fire hardly ever lets you off easy, so be ready for the worst!

Happy Smithing,
   eander4 - Monday, 09/08/03 10:43:16 EDT

Paw Paw always beats me to the punch! I've got to learn to type faster!
   eander4 - Monday, 09/08/03 10:44:50 EDT


   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/08/03 11:32:34 EDT

My family has had an anvil for a number of years. It is a horned anvil that is 30" long and 5 1/4" wide at the top, the base is 13" long and 12" wide, height is 13". 2 holes go thru it vertically in the end opposite the horn, 1 square, 1 round. Estimate weight is around 250 lbs. Only marks are numbers 2 2 20 across 1 side. I am interested in finding out its approximate value. Can you help?
   Joe Banasiewicz - Monday, 09/08/03 11:35:43 EDT

I've been interested in metalworking (specifically sword smithing) but I don't know where to get started. Please point me in the right direction.
   William - Monday, 09/08/03 12:40:07 EDT


The weight marks are the 2.2.20
The first number represents how many stone (112lbs)
the second number represents quarter stone (28lbs)
the third number is pounds left over thus

you have 112#+112#+28#+28#+20# or 356 lbs
   - wayne parris - Monday, 09/08/03 13:36:49 EDT


I add that up to an even 300 pounds. 224+56+20

   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/08/03 13:57:23 EDT

PawPaw, the extra 56 lbs is for crating it up an shipping it to my place.
   - 3dogs - Monday, 09/08/03 14:05:59 EDT

PawPaw, the extra 56 lbs is for crating it up an shipping it to my place.
   3dogs - Monday, 09/08/03 14:07:41 EDT

posting spasm
   3dogs - Monday, 09/08/03 14:08:21 EDT

english weights.
If I may, A stone is 14 pounds, the first number is in Hundredweights which is 112 pounds or 8 stone, the second is in 1/4 weights which is 2 stone or 28 pounds the last is pounds. Also it recently came up in the pub that the Cwt being 112 pounds is why the long ton is 2240. Now I have no idea why they picked 14 pounds for a stone, but if I'm not mistaken (which I probaly am) is not the hammerstone they toss in the scottish highland games 14 pounds?
   JimG - Monday, 09/08/03 14:23:22 EDT

Hmmmm Jim I will look but I thought it was 16, but that might be the shot put..... I will find out.
   Ralph - Monday, 09/08/03 14:55:46 EDT

Ok here is the info on the Scottish Hammer toss:
The hammer is a 16 pound weight set on a handle, less than 50 inches long overall. An athlete can throw it any way as long as he or she does not turn the body

This competition differs from the hammer toss in modern track and field in that the hammer is on the end of a piece of wood, rather than a metal wire.
   Ralph - Monday, 09/08/03 14:57:02 EDT

I suggest that you read the Getting Started area of anvilfire. Also just so you know, swordsmithing is to blacksmithing ( in general) as brain surgury is to medicine. In other words it is a VERY specialized sub group of smithing. You need to become an accomplished smith before making a sword. In terms og hammer handling and control, identifying proper forging temps and techniques as well as learning enough of the metalurgical info to properly select the steel and then adequately and SAFELY heat treat said steel.
Remember first we learn to roll over then crawl then walk then run.
   Ralph - Monday, 09/08/03 15:11:37 EDT


You might also try over at Sword Forum ( http://www.swordforum.com/ )

As for me, I may carry a sword but I prefer an axe!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 09/08/03 15:33:47 EDT

3 dogs, Ah! OK, that's about right then. (grin)

   Paw Paw - Monday, 09/08/03 16:00:20 EDT

Thanks Ralph, as for checking the get started page I noticed it just after I submitted my post. And thank you as well bruce.
   William - Monday, 09/08/03 18:17:36 EDT

At the Highland games I've been to they throw 16 and 22 pound hammers, but 28 and 56 pound weights (for height and distance). They throw stones too, but I can't remember how much they weigh (Grin).
   Mike B - Monday, 09/08/03 18:36:42 EDT


I've forgotten my membership password. Please email it to my umfort address. Thanks.
   - taylor - Monday, 09/08/03 19:19:46 EDT

IF 28 pounds is a quarter hundred weight then 14 pounds is an eight. . or as JimG pointed out a hundred weight is 8 stone. That makes 7 pounds (an odd number and half a stone) one 16th of a hundredweight which is REALLY weird. . .

   - guru - Monday, 09/08/03 20:30:48 EDT

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