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

This is an archive of posts from September 16 - 23, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

OK, other than that slight comment on the Mexican hammer hardness, any other opinions? It may not be be my only cross pein (I have a kinda large ball pein, under 2#) but maybe my first, unless I find something at a large fleamarket this weekend.
   Elliott Olson - Thursday, 09/16/04 00:40:29 EDT

Elliott: Most new sledge and cross peen hammers seems to have the lathe face, it's nothing to worry about, you just need to "dress" it before you use it.
   AwP - Thursday, 09/16/04 01:23:27 EDT

Make a rivet set with a double jog in it to work inside the scroll plane.
Zylogue: Buy Paw-paw's book...it's in there.
There's a fair literature on the subject but it's a difficult problem and correcting warpage is something of a time and fuel consuming art.
http://www.twi.co.uk/j32k/protected/band_3/jk42.html Basically, anything you do to correct one problem has unintended consequences. The warpage was caused, as the good Guru indicated by the shrinking of the welding beads. There are welding techniques to minimize this...short beads, peening, short beads in reverse directions, backstep welding and so on. Once you already have warpage you have 2 choices...to shrink the bulges or the stretch the contracted areas. The former is easiest. Restrain the panel to the desired contour and spot heat the high spot to a good red . The heated area will bulge further, hammer it flat and allow to cool. Similarly, strips can be heated and worked. By using the rigidity of the cold surrounding steel, one can force the hot area to move. Then when it cools, it shrinks.
It's a lot of that kinda stuff...
Elliot; A soft hammer will work just fine on hot metal and help save your anvil while learning. smooth it out with abraisives and round off all the working edges.
JOIN THE CSI and support this site!
   - Pete F - Thursday, 09/16/04 02:40:43 EDT

RIVET SETS: One of the regulars at last year's Quad State was selling several different styles of rivet sets with the .401 shank. (That's what's on the standard muffler chisel gun that we all have anyway)They looked to be aircraft industry surplus. I'd be willing to bet he'll be there again this year.
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 09/16/04 03:24:21 EDT

Guru - many thanks for the information and advice.

I have a couple of anvil questions - I managed to salvage an anvil of approx. 150lbs that had been originally salvaged from a shipwreck (believe it or not) about fifteen years ago and subsequently used as a welding table. The face was very badly scarred / chipped and i had a friend surface grind it for me. Will I need to heat treat / harden the face? If so have you any suggestions as to how i can do this.

I have the anvil at about the correct height sitting on an old wooden railway sleeper in a half 45 gallon drum full of sand - it seems to jump around a bit under the hammer. Would it be better to add more weight to the anvil (by welding it to a large lump of steel) or do you have any other suggestions?

It is definitely not a quality anvil (I think it originated in the Far East - no makers name or other marks on it), however, it is the only one available to me.

Thanks from sunny Kenya
   - james - Thursday, 09/16/04 04:46:00 EDT

Elliott: you could wait and go to the Blacksmithing Conference in Hastings next week. There you can get some real nice hammers. Expensive, but very well made.

Either way, I'd recommend going to the conference (unless you were planning on attending anyway, in which case, disregard ;-)})

That said, I own one of the fine hammers you are speaking of and it has served me quite well. Just don't hammer any nails by accident, tends to leave ugly dents on the face.
   Escher - Thursday, 09/16/04 09:43:53 EDT

James, do you have your 150 lb anvil tightly bolted to the wood? I would think that it shouldn't move much with all that sand around the wood.

Fionnbharr: I know, I know, but since I don't HAVE a 300 lb.er yet I do what I have to. Working alone, I don't take many full-force swings with the 10lb!

   Alan-L - Thursday, 09/16/04 09:59:25 EDT

Ian and the Anvil Stand:

What's under the floor? If it's on sleepers, resting directly on the ground, that may be okay; but if your floor beams are suspended up off the ground on cinderblocks, then life could get interesting. Contemplate the floor as a trampoline. Wherever you put your anvil, there should be something underneath to transmit the inertial forces to the ground (once you set the anvil in motion by hitting it with a hammer) or at least dampen the vibrations. Given the worse case, the anvil won't walk, it will dance across the floor! ;-) (I've been giving this a lot of thought, of late, after moving farm and garden tools about in the nice pre-fab minibarn that replaced the meathouse after the hurricane.)

Wet and moderate on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby Autumn Session: November 12-14
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 09/16/04 10:18:13 EDT

Side Blast: Paw Paw, I've got a good blower but was wondering if anyone has used a side blast tuyere and had comments - positive or negative. The bottom blast firepot replaced it almost universally in the last century but I still see occasional references to ones in use. I have not been to Colonial Williamsburg, do they use a water cooled tuyere or is it just a piece of pipe sticking out into the fire? I was considering necking a piece of 3" down to 1-1/4" stainless and using without water cooling...H
   HWooldridg - Thursday, 09/16/04 10:43:00 EDT

Fuel and Oxygen Cylinder Threads: Oxygen Cylinders regulators, hoses and valves are threaded RIGHT handed. Fuel cylinders, regulators, hoses and valves are threaded LEFT handed. Except however many acetylene cylinders are right handed at the valve ONLY. Everything else down stream is left handed. This is to prevent damage to expensive cylinder valves by people that don't know left hand threads from right.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 10:49:16 EDT

Zylogue, You may be trying to solve a problem they didn't have...in medieval times it was most likely that you would go to the local smith if you were travelling and needed some forgework. About the only time you might carry along a smith might be during warfare when you might not be able to access a local smith. Generally you would use the campfire as the forge and all the wagon would do would be to carry tools and supplies; so no difference from a regular heavy duty wagon. It's relatively easy to build a rock and turve forge---a lot easier than to lug around a masonry forge on medieval roads!

In more modern times a farrier will transport a small forge for shoeing; but a farmer would expect to visit the smith in town for other jobs. There is a 1900 historical farm south of Columbus OH where folks wanted a forge to play with; but the staff knows that the original farmer would just go two miles down the road to the professional smith for his smithing needs...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/16/04 10:51:17 EDT

Sand Filled Anvil Stands: Movement in this type stand is normal but should not be excessive. If the sand is too fine (or worn) the anvil will move easily. Where coal is used a mixture of clinkers and coal ask is used as fill. Coarser sharp sand with fine gravel will help. Moistening the sand will make it much more resistant to movement.

The advantage to this type of stand is that it is VERY heavy and hard to move while at the same time it is easy to rotate the anvil, level it, change height as needed without moving the stand. The disadvantage is that the anvil does tend to move a little AND the stand is hard to move. Generally if your anvil rotates then you are doing something horizontaly that would best be done verticaly.

Anvils on Wood Floors: Both anvils and Power hammers as well as other heavy machine tools on wood floors need some extra support. The fact that your floor is already built is no excuse. I put a machine shop in a 200 year old Grist Mill with termite damaged floors. . .

First, in the heavy use area the floor itself may be too thin. Put in 2x4 (framing lumber) fillers flush to the floor underneith. This requires at lot of toenailing but you are not talking about a large area. Fit the boards then glue and nail them in. They do not need to be tight against each other. Gaps up to an inch do no harm.

Second, put in extra supports to the ground. Start with a large flat stone or concrete paver. Then support a 6x6 perpendicular to the joists with a leveling jack. One jack can be used on a short area between two joists, more as needed. I made my own custom height jacks from 2" pipe, 1" threaded rod and heavy 1-1/8" washers and 1" nuts. Fine thread works better. The top end of the screw has a nut and washer welded on for load distribution. I use a loose washer under the lifting nut to act as a bearing. IF these jacks are to be used to jack up and level a building lubricate it with neversieze. Otherwise do not.

Note that once a beam has load on it you can replace the jacks with timbers cut to fit or wedged into place.
However anywhere wood timbers are used close to the ground you MAY be creating a termite hazzard. Metal jacks are better for this reason. Use salt treated lumber otherwise.

Power hammers setup on wood floors need support directly from the floor to the ground in the form of a solid column the area of the base of the hammer. At the ground there needs to be a good foundation.

Tack sheet metal to the floor around your anvil to reduce burning of the floor.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 11:12:53 EDT

Side blast forges. Yes I have used them. Yes I like them. IN fact I like them so much that once I get around to re doing my home forge it will be side blast with a water cooled nozzle.
If you have any welding skill or know a GOOD friend who does. Then it is not all that hard to do it your self. The one we have at Fort Vancouver NHS was done this way. I will email you some more in the way of particulars.
   Ralph - Thursday, 09/16/04 11:21:16 EDT

Anvil Face: James, Generaly the hardness of the face is deep enough to take some grinding. There are two anvil constructions, steel plate forge welded to wrought body (or welded to cast iron) and all cast steel. If a plated anvil is dressed or machined too much you can reduce the approximately 1/2" thick plate to where it is too thin. There is no repair good solution for this. Cast anvils tend to be very hard on the surface of the face and the hardness drops off going into the body. How much you can grind off depends on the quality of the original heat treat and is hard to determine other than just doing it and testing.

Generally re-heat treating an anvil is not a viable option. It is very difficult and expensive to heat treat something this heavy and quite an art.

Many anvils are a little soft. The best thing to do is just get used to it. Be careful not to strike the anvil with the hammer and always work hot steel. Be sure to use a cutting plate to protect the anvil when hot or cold cutting or doing heavy cold bending. These practices apply to all anvils but just a little more so to softer anvils.

Anvils can be torn up pretty bad and still be useful for all types of work. Everyone likes that NEW precision ground look but it is not necessary for good work as many would have you believe.

Adding Weight: A 150 pound anvil is a good weight as-is. Adding mass to the anvil itself is best done by bolting or clamping to a heavy stand, not welding on. Eventualy you will learn to appreciate the qualities of even a cheap anvil and not want to modify it.

Eventualy, even in the wilds of Africa, you will find other perhaps better anvils, vises and so on. The rail road shops, ship yards and mines all had large anvils. Generally your first tools are hard to find but over time you will get a better eye for where to look and who to ask and they WILL come to you. It is frustrating at first but in a few years you will probably have more iron things than you know what to do with.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 11:40:05 EDT

Side Blast Forge: Hollis, The water cooled tuyeres are primarliy used in England. The side blast is better for charcoal and in England they use a lot of coal dust (breeze) as forge fuel.

In the US the idea of the water cooled tuyeer was tried when applied to a "ducks nest" and bottom blast. The complexity and freezing weather is the down fall of both these designs.

In the Williamsburg type side blast brick forge there is no pipe or nozzle. There is just an opening in the bricks for the air to pass through the masonry from the back to the front. This opening is usualy flush with the bottom of the forge floor. This type forge was also common in Europe. Designed for charcoal (their historical fuel) these forges are used with coal for convienence, efficiency and cost effectivness. When used with charcoal the forge has a relatively high edge to hold a deeper fuel bed.

In many cases the bellows feeds air directly into the opening in the masonry and are just setup directly behind the forge. This is the common arrangement for paired bellows. However, for the safety of the bellows and to use the space more efficiently double chambered bellows are often hung from the ceiling and have a pipe that drops down from the bellows to the back of the forge. This is the arrangement in Williamsburg. The "pipe" in early forges was made of dried raw hide or riveted sheet metal. If I were building this type arrangement I would make a passageway in the brickwork for the air and avoid the expense and maintenance headache of the pipe. At the forge level I would have a clean out opening at the back.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 12:09:36 EDT

Escher, I won't be attending Hastings (what state?) this year (broke) but I am tagging along with Mom and Dad to Albany, MN this weekend where they have a nice big flea market.
   Elliott Olson - Thursday, 09/16/04 14:00:14 EDT

Good news eveybody my grandfather has come to the rescue!he found me a anvil from a old smith that lives near him in trenton!80) hopefuly now those anvils will come to me.
   - John S. - Thursday, 09/16/04 14:02:43 EDT

Hammer-In Post Button: I have changed the code on the Hammer-In. All of you that could not post there before please refresh the form and try it. If the new code works I will replace the code in the CSI forums also. Sorry for the buggy code.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 14:03:23 EDT

I Scrounged up some stainless steel that was a wash table that is about 2 x 3 feet. Any problems if I use this as a table for a coal forge (cut a hole and put a fire pot in it)
   JimG - Thursday, 09/16/04 14:44:45 EDT

Jim, the only disadvantage with stainless is its high coefficient of expansion. If you mount it tightly in something else (or somethin in IT) you may have have warpage and distortion problems. Use bolts with sloppy holes and there should be no problem.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 14:49:46 EDT

John S, Only if you use them and treat them with TLC ;)
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 14:53:26 EDT

Can I forge common mild steel into usable forks, knives, or spoons? Any special treatment?
   JimP - Thursday, 09/16/04 17:05:21 EDT

yes you can but you will need to keep them clean and oiled to help slow down rusting. It will rust. But you can slow it down.
   Ralph - Thursday, 09/16/04 18:38:49 EDT

Jim, The "best" silverware is made of a hard silver alloy far below the strength of mild steel. Table knives in these sets have stainlness blades but it is not a high hardenability "cutlery" stainless. Good quality stainless tableware is forged to the same patterns as good silver but is much more durable. Cheap stainless is punched out of sheet stock and many manufacturers use too thin a grade of stainless. It is not the expense of the stainless but the wear on the punches and dies. Use thinner stock and they last much longer.

You can make hand forged tableware from 304 SS and leave it finished dark or bright or some of both.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 19:39:12 EDT

Sorry about that. I was going to mention SS but I got pulled back to some work stuff. But Guru already got to the SS stuff so I do not have to worry about it now.... ( smile)
   Ralph - Thursday, 09/16/04 19:47:13 EDT

Any preference for a Buffalo #2 camelback drill vs a Cinncinati 21 camelback? I have an oportunity to bid on a Buffalo #2 or a pair of the 21" Cinncinati's. All have tight spindles. The Buffalo has been converted to V-belt, and is without some of the feed parts. The better Cinncinati has evertything except the factory table, is still flat belt drive. None have the factory tables, but have workable tables. I lean to the Cincinati, as I can get a spare fore spares.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/16/04 20:13:57 EDT

There's an interesting stake holder for sale on Ebay (Germany) I thought it was homemade but it is shown on the Peddinghaus website.

Ebay number 6118255875
   Bob G - Thursday, 09/16/04 20:23:45 EDT


That's a nice looking piece, I wish it was here on the east coast.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 09/16/04 20:42:59 EDT

Drill Presses: Ptree, If these are similar to the Royersford in our iForge drill press furniture article then any are good. The power feeds are needed for boring large holes such as with a single point pring bar. Otherwise they are almost never used. If the two Cincinatti's are going for one money I would get them and try to get both running. Having two or more drill presses side by side that take the same tooling is as handy as you cen get. Even in the blacksmith shop many drilling operations are "production" or multi-step operations. One machine with the drill and the other with the chamfering tool can save a lot of tool changing. Or with three you can drill, tap, and chamfer without changing tools. On my oldest and slopiest drill press I have used a high dollar NEW taping head to great advantage. Looks funny, an 1890 drill press with a 1980 black anodized Tapmatic taping head. . .

I have found that sloppy spindles drill where the center punch mark is rather than elsewhere. . . every time.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 21:40:57 EDT

That Peddinghaus stake holder stand is is nice heavy duty setup. I had seen it in their catalog. The vise is not mounted to it but could be with a little work. They also make a cubical swage block that has a stake holder. Between the block and the stake a vast number of sheet metal operations can be performed.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/04 22:51:09 EDT

GURUS-I posted this also accross the street. I just bought
a 275 pound [approx.] anvil. It has an ES as the last
two letters of the name and WARRANTED under that. I has
been repaired, crack in side near where tail widens out
to main body. Not broken off then welded back on. Any
guesses at the name and how about an approx. value.
Thanks, as allways, all help appreciated! Jeff
   Jeff H - Friday, 09/17/04 00:05:10 EDT

guys ive got a problem.
It involves a sheet metal brake, now i know thats another forum, but let me get to the crux of the matter.
Im an over the road truck driver that does sheet metal work in my spare time.
I recently picked up a Chicago dries-krump sheet metal brake sb 1014(capacity 121" long, 14ga thick cold rolled).
I found it behind a shop in Columbus Ohio while i was getting my trailer fixed, they didnt use it and had dumped it behind the shop.
I casually asked him if he would sell it and he said he couldnt take less than 150.00 for it. (sorry, had to gloat)
anyway its in pretty good shape EXCEPT...
when they dumped it behind their shop they let it fall on its front face, so thats 3800lb falling on a thin blade of metal called the front nose bar.
It made a couple of slight bends in the front edge of the bar. Now I still have about 8' of braking capacity, but I would like to be able to use the full 10'. that's my situation.
The flat nose bar seems to be some kind of spring/tool steel, and Id like to somehow hammer out the bends in the blade area.
This seems to be some very hard steel so I know Ill need to heat it to work it and ive read your FAQ's on heattreating, but how do you heat, work, harden, and temper just a couple of spots on a flat bar without messing up the temper in the rest of it, and how do I know how hard it needs to be?
A new top nose bar is $595.00 not counting truck shipping from Chicago to Lafayette, La. NOT AN OPTION.
Possible this job is over my head. What would a smith charge for a job like this. Am i correct that vicopper is from the Louisiana area? Does he do this kind of work? How much? If not, who else?
Gotta go back on the road by noon tomarrow. So sorry if post is long, but feeling kinda rushed. thanx
   Terry L - Friday, 09/17/04 01:09:56 EDT

VIcopper is a little further south than that, he's in the Virgin Islands. . . (VI).

Spot heating and bending will result in hard and soft spots.

IF if could be bent once, it MAY be able to bent back with the appropriate use of force.

I would fabricate or adapt some sort of screw or hydraulic jack. This gives you much better control than hitting with a hammer and a chance to do less damage. I am thinking of something like the tool used to flare tub ends. It has two fingers that support the work and a screw in the middle. A heavy duty oversized version of that.

A similar thing could be done on a weld platten with a hydraulic jack some heavy threaded rod (1-1/4") and a heavy bridging device. Same routine as above except less complicated with the exception of access to the weld platten.

Both these methods would cost about the $600 to make the tooling so this is a do it yourself deal. I have a 20ton hydraulic jack fixture I made for a similar deal that might work but I am in central Virginia. The fixture I made was for straightening an 8 foot OD 6 foot ID ring made of 3/8" plate. Someone sat an 18,000 pound part on it and kinked it pretty good. Took me a day and a half to make the fixture and about an hour to do the straightening job. . plus the rest of the day to get the tooling out of a nuclear power plant. They didn't want to buy the jack and fixture so they paid me $500 to wait around instead. . .
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/04 02:15:05 EDT

Alan-L - err, no I didn't think about bolting the anvil down!!!!! Makes a lot of sense though.

Hi Guru - thanks again for the comprehensive advice. Will bolt the anvil down to the railway sleeper first (!) and then take it slow and steady and see how I get on.
   JamesK - Friday, 09/17/04 08:40:36 EDT

My name is Luiz,47, and i`m from Brazil. For years i`ve been trieing to learn about blacksmithing, but thats not so knowing here. I try to find books or any kind of licterature that can show me the way, yesterday I found youre site and get hope.
My intention is start to make litlle jobs and after years, maybe, a can start to make swords. I see it as a search, a trip in to the of the soul. Looking for perfection through the patient work with the hands.I´m will be nice to get old doing that kind of art.
I´m not asking for teach me all the stuff, but just tell me about some books whith I can start to learn.
Thanks for youre atention, and forgive my poor english.
   Luiz Gama - Friday, 09/17/04 08:50:46 EDT

My name is Luiz,47, and i`m from Brazil. For years i`ve been trieing to learn about blacksmithing, but thats not so knowing here. I try to find books or any kind of licterature that can show me the way, yesterday I found youre site and get hope.
My intention is start to make litlle jobs and after years, maybe, a can start to make swords. I see it as a search, a trip in to the of the soul. Looking for perfection through the patient work with the hands.I´m will be nice to get old doing that kind of art.
I´m not asking for teach me all the stuff, but just tell me about some books whith I can start to learn.
Thanks for youre atention, and forgive my poor english.
   Luiz Gama - Friday, 09/17/04 08:50:47 EDT

Luis, try the following link: http://knifenetwork.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=48

This is the Sociedade Brasileira de Cuteleiros. O forum oficial da Sociedade Brasileira De Cuteleiros - tudo sobre o mundo da Cutelaria Artesanal no Brasil.

I don't speak portugese, but they have good pictures! Welcome to the world of smithing, it is indeed a journey that will last you a lifetime.
   Alan-L - Friday, 09/17/04 09:24:28 EDT

One possible way to straighten that nose bar might be to run very short weld beads on the convex side of the bends. If you keep the beads short and let each one cool before doing the next one, the mass of the bar should harden the welds enough on cooling. The shrinkage of the welds may be sufficient to shrink out the kinks. Afterwards, just grind off the welds, the straightening will will have been done.

Failing that, some heavy I-beam for strongbacks and a hydraulic jack to supply the push. It will take a fair amount of welding to jig the clamping that is needed, but it can be done. The secret is to push it with the jack a bit, then relax it and check the progress with a straight edge. You keep doing that by tiny increments until you find the approximate yield point of the steel you're dealing with. Once you know that, you can proceed a bit quicker, though not much. It takes care and patience.

If you pay my travel expenses from the Virgin Islands and put me up in the Royal Orleans Hotel, I'll be happy to help you out. Probably not cost effective, though.(grin)
   vicopper - Friday, 09/17/04 09:45:54 EDT

TerryL, Why not just use the tool you just got to straighten the nose bar. When you remove the bar you should have a stepped area on the lower leaf where it normally is screwed on. Take a piece of angle iron which will span two of the screw holes and drill it to match the holes. Tack a strip of steel to the back of the angle iron so that it fits against the edge of the step. The angle should be mounted so that one leg is parallel to the leaf and the other is parallel to the clamping bed. Do this at one end of the leaf not at the middle. Now adjust the clamping distance so that you can hold your nose bar and gently use the lower leaf with its angle iron extension to push it back into a straight configuration. Do this in VERY SMALL steps. If you have access to a long enough piece of angle it is best to span the entire length of the leaf to prevent it bowing in the center. The same trick works to prevent bowing of the leaf when working to the full capacity of the brake on sheet metal. Good Luck
   SGensh - Friday, 09/17/04 10:08:25 EDT

Books and Getting Started: Luiz, See our FAQ page and the resources list for the article on Swordmaking. It is pretty comprehensive and points to reviews of many of these books. Our Getting Started article lists several blacksmithing books and more resources. I have a contact in Brasil and will e-mail you about him.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/04 10:19:05 EDT

Geeze Terry you must be made of money, last brake I bought in the Columbus OH area was $5, not as long as yours at 5'; but it was rated closer to 1/4"...

Gave it to a friend since I could always go over and use it---then moved 1600 miles away

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/17/04 10:58:01 EDT

Luiz: If you are comfortable reading English, download "The Blacksmith's Craft" at :


Is it true that transformer plates are made of very low carbon steel?

Also, King Architectural Metal has solid steel balls up to 4" dia for very reasonable prices - 1 5/16" ball costs $1.65 and a 3 1/8" ball is $12 - a "thank you" to whoever it was steered me over there
   adaj - Friday, 09/17/04 12:07:20 EDT

adaj - hajkj[alkjmeh.mngttk @#$%!- hrumph! seem to have crossed my typing fingers - that should have been signed "adam"
   adam - Friday, 09/17/04 12:09:23 EDT

guru, thanks for the advice on the block anchors. i should have been more specific: no axial weight bearing. hope to begin on installation soon..

   - rugg - Friday, 09/17/04 12:36:28 EDT

Weather Report. . .

Asheville, NC hit by flooding and power outages for second time in 10 days. Tornadoes spotted in in the Henry County, Martinsville, VA area. No rain yet in Campbell Co., VA (where I live). Winds finaly picking up, expect tornado and flood warnings this afternnon.

Transformer Plates: Yes, they are a very low carbon silicon steel, something like SAE 1001. The reason is that the softer the steel the less likely it can become permanently magnetized. In alternating current devices where the magnetic polarity rapidly pulses you do not want the core to be magnetic as this would cause resistance and heat in one direction. Alternately good permananet magnets are made of very hard high carbon steel and nickle alloys (IE Alnico magnets).

They would be good laminates in pattern welded steel as a wrought iron replacement.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/04 12:40:07 EDT

Brakes: The necessary strength of a brake frame increases at the cube of the increase in length.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/04 12:42:18 EDT

Thanks for all the advice, i literly stumbled on this sight a few weeks ago and I have been astounded at the amout of info and good advice you have. Trying to talk my dad into checking you guys out. he has a ranch in texas and is always breaking things. (last week he bent his box blade.)
Im not blowing smoke when i say this is what the internet was supposed to be.
Tell you what, vicopper, if you pay my expensis i"ll bring it to you, lol. , but seriously i thought you were in the south, just not that far.
Sgensh, definatly going to try your idea when i get back home. (drive all 48 and canada, so itll be a month.) but this gives me something to look forward to then. thanx
Im hopeing this brake is the "brake" i need to get me out of trucking. we'll see. (couldnt resist the pun.)
the road calls.....
   Terry L - Friday, 09/17/04 14:44:20 EDT


As a former trucker, keep the shiny side up, bud!

You might consider membership in CSI. That is the non-profit corporation that helps to support Anvilfire financially. For $52 a year, less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, you can be a part of the support team.

If you are using your laptop in the truck, how are you connecting to the Web? I need to setup a system in my truck.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 09/17/04 15:04:21 EDT

Jock's power is off, may be a while before he gets back on line. CSI, handle the questions as best you can till he returns. I'll be back late this evening.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 09/17/04 17:45:31 EDT

Storm: I'm back on-line. Had a short intense tropical storm and a brief power outage. Creek is up but not flooding. Many tornadoes in the region, a very unsual event. We were much luckier than many folks.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/04 21:04:18 EDT

Good Guru;
The transformer core silicon iron reference above leads me to ask if there is an application for heavier pieces that could be salvaged when the device dies? At least for smaller transformers, all the sawing and forge welding necessary to get a reasonable amount to work isn't all that appealing.
Alternately, is there someplace to buy the stuff in more usable sizes and "small" lots?
   - Pete F - Saturday, 09/18/04 02:30:55 EDT

Before folks get too excited about salvaging transformer cores, remember that all of them are filled with oil, and the old ones' oil is full of PCBs. Just another thing to worry about.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 09/18/04 08:31:05 EDT

Transformers are also available in dry type. Easy to cut up. If cutting up a larger transformer, read the nameplate if oil filled. if it does not state PCB free, run don't walk away. Truthfully, due to EPA action, most (not all) transformers have been reclassified to hold non-PCB oils.
   ptree - Saturday, 09/18/04 09:24:30 EDT

Dry transformers come in MANY sizes. We have had them large enough to run a small machine shop where we needed 240VAC instead of the plant's 480 VAC. The unit was about as big as an 18" television and had enough taps to get any voltage you can imagine. The same size is ocassionaly used with individual machine tools with motors up to 15HP.

Places that scrap these things out are looking for the wire be it copper or aluminium. The yards that do this are not your typical scrap yard and do not advertise but they exist all over the country. Ask other scrap dealers. These folks would probably give you a GREAT deal on a load of plates. the bigger transformers have sections large enough to get very nice billet stock from.

Note that no matter how big the transformer the plate thickness is the same or close to the same. The plants that make the special core iron roll sheets in either 20 or 24 ga. On reason they are the same thickness is the tooling used to cut out the plates and punch the holes. There is also an optimum magnetic density created by having seperate plates of a certain thickness. Because of this uniform thickness an investment in a small shear like a beverly throatless shear would go a long was. The smallest model (#1) will easily cut up the dead soft transformer plates.

Yes there are a few applications where heavier pieces are used. The plunger core in solenoids such as starter solenoids and door bells are the same material for the same non-magnetizing reason.

While we are this subject, there is still 19,000 pounds of 00Fe out there that there. Will see if I can contact the heirs. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 09/18/04 12:37:00 EDT

out that there there that. . . ?? Too distracted, too often.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/18/04 13:15:05 EDT

Here's a simple kink for anyone restoring leg vises. I have had to make several springs over the years and started using plain old A36 and quenching in Robb Gunter's Superquench formula. I made a spring last week from a piece of 1-1/4x3/16 doubled back and welded so I'd have a thicker section. I contoured it to the shape I wanted to make the spring fit and then quenched from a bright red but did not temper. The spring worked fine and did not take any set. Springs I made years ago were from car spring steel but not hardened - just normalized . They always seemed to take about an inch of set, so I'd forge a little big, lay on the table to cool then assemble, but one would still break occasionally. However, none of the mild steel versions have broken and one is going on 5 years of regular service. I also made a coil spring for a 25lb Little Giant using this technique and it worked for several years until I sold the hammer. I used 7/16 cold rolled and added two more coils over the stock spring plus it was about 2 inches longer than the stock spring before installation. It took some set but then worked fine - no double taps and plenty of power.
   HWooldridg - Saturday, 09/18/04 14:45:48 EDT

I'm looking for a class in coppersmithing?
   Garth - Saturday, 09/18/04 16:43:52 EDT

Springs: Hollis, a surprising number of springs are made of relatively low carbon steel. Stainless spring wire is nothing more than work hardened 304 SS. Since all steel has the same modulas of Elasticity a spring that does not go beyond the yeild point for its hardness is just as "springy" as a hardened and tempered piece of spring steel.

I've found that vise springs with a gracefull 'S' curve so that the end rolls against the front arm instead of digging into it works best as well as looking good. Because of the relatively short travel these springs need to be pretty stiff (IE thick). IF you use a short spring that bears high up on the arm you need a lighter spring but it must have more travel and may not work from mild steel.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/18/04 16:58:25 EDT

Coppersmithing: Garth, Try the crafts schools, John C Campbell (www.folkschool.org ) and Penland in North Carolina. There may be others in your area. Do not just look for coppersmithing, the exact same techniques are used for silversmithing and pewtersmithing. Virtualy all non-ferrous metalwork uses the same techniques. Depending on the scale of the work you want to do many jewelery courses cover many of the aspects of working copper.

If you are interested in making raised vessles (vases, pots. .) from sheet stock this is somewhat of a specialized art. Look for courses that mention "raising". See our Armoury page and the article by Eric Thing on Raising a Norman Helment. Working heavy steel plate is different than copper but all the hammering techniques are identical. See also our review of Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Metalwork. Raising starts with "dishing" which in itself can be used to make a completed piece. See our two NEWs articles on the WVa Armour-In. Armourers use all the techniques of working plate or sheet metal with the difference that most of it is in steel rather than non-ferrous unless they are making bronze age armour.

If you are interested in sculptural flatwork that is called "repousse'". This is yet another technique applied to all metals to produse bas relief sculpture. Again, the courses listed above may include repousse' OR may have specialty classes on the same under jewelery, silversmithing, pewtersmithing or coppersmithing.

   - guru - Saturday, 09/18/04 17:18:48 EDT

I picked up several boxes of sandpaper at an auction a couple weeks ago. Most of the sandpaper is narrow reels (1/2" to 2" wide) for making loops for belt sanders (or hand sanding on lathes or ?), but I did get several boxes of discs that are to be used with rotary sanders (some with sticky backs, some not). Some of the sandpaper discs are cut from the perimiter toward the center hole (1/2" hole), so that there are pie shaped flaps. I have seen flap sanding wheels that are used as alternatives to grinding wheels, but I have never seen these flap disc before (except those with extremely inflexible discs that go on grinders).

My question is "are these flap type sanding disc put on (and used) with rubber sanding disc backs the same way that single un-cut sanding disc are, or is there some kind of other sander that I am not aware of? Since they have holes in the center, it seems they would be put on something with a nut/washer (in the center of the backing disc) or something similar. The disk don't necessarily look like they would be used in multiples (but I could be wrong).

Have any of you used these type of disc?

It is likely they are cut into flaps for more flexibility, but it seems like the backing disk might rub if flaps ended up missing.

   djhammerd - Saturday, 09/18/04 18:18:18 EDT

New one on me. Most of the time when disks tear to the hole they fly off.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/18/04 19:05:08 EDT

Anvil Hold downs: I got a length of HEAVY chain, drilled 1/2" holes on the four sides of my anvil in the wood base of my anvil stand. Put the anvil on the stand, wrapped the chain around the base, put 1/2" lag bolts through the links into the wood, tightened them down until the chain was tight. Anvil is dead solid.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 09/18/04 19:10:48 EDT

How hot does a firepot get between blasts and when the fire is still?
   - NewSmith - Saturday, 09/18/04 21:03:30 EDT

I am with a reenactment group and we are doing research into the existence of portable forges in the 16th century or earlier. Does onyone have any information about this
   chris - Saturday, 09/18/04 22:16:14 EDT

I have a question about bellows, I am planing on building a brick forge with a steel hearth, I want to use bellows not a blower. I read that use of bellows with a coal fire is not recomended due to coal gases.Is this a fact? would I be putting my shop in danger if I used bellows? also what is the proper size to use? I do mostly small work. I am looking at a bellows that are aprox 4' long and 2' wide and about 10" deep expanded, it is a two valve design.
   jeff - Saturday, 09/18/04 22:18:34 EDT

Sanding disks~I have used the disks with the flaps at the center many years. Most of time as a metal finisher at Fo.Mo.Co. plant in Chgo. Hgts. IL. The rubber backing plate is dished to accept the same shaped hold down nut so that the nut is flush or just below the surface of the sanding disk when tight. Instead of manufactoring disks with a dished center, like the dished center grinding wheels for the 4" side grinder, Norton cut the flaps so the center doesn't tear when the nut is tightened. If you need to see a picture I can take one. By the way--my disks are kinda stiff and most are heavy grit for eating welds.
   Jerry - Saturday, 09/18/04 23:02:06 EDT

I have made a component for a client from 4140. About 250mm X 60mm X 120mm (10" X 2 3/8" X 5") with some thinner sections and webbing.
His specifications stated 4130 was required. He is going to get the component heat treated to a medium toughness.
Will it make a difference in that I have made it from 4140, not 4130?
I can't tell him I have used the wrong material. Long story!
Thanks in advance for any info & help you can provide.
   Paul Kable - Sunday, 09/19/04 02:52:22 EDT

djhammerd-saw a custom car guy use discs like that for contour work on lead fill and moulding work,I didnt pay a lot of attention but I think he used a normal cool disc rubber backing plate.I think it was on one of the monster garage shows that featured a lot of old time hotrod builders,he did mention it was for flexability.
   crosspean - Sunday, 09/19/04 08:00:06 EDT

Is flexability a word???
   crosspean - Sunday, 09/19/04 08:17:00 EDT

4140 vs 4130: Paul, when he has it heat treated, he will find out. The extra carbon in 4140 may cause cracks in the thinner sections and 4140 will quench out harder. Tempered at the same temperature as 4130, the 4140 will come out harder. It may be possible for the heat treater to salvage this by quenching into heated oil so I would suggest you let the customer know BEFORE he heat treats it.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/19/04 09:01:27 EDT


Between heats, gas from sulfur in the coal can sometimes accumulate in a blower or bellows. It doesn't happen every time but when you start pumping for the next heat, the gas can ignite. I have had this happen many times on a mechanical blower and it does no damage but the "pop" will startle me occasionally. Although I have never seen one blown apart, I have heard that enough gas can accumulate in a bellows to burst it at the seams. In no case will it be enough to blow your shop apart or hurt you but it may damage the bellows. A cure might be to hang the bellows in the ceiling and pipe for several feet to the forge so the gas has a chance to diffuse.
   HWooldridg - Sunday, 09/19/04 11:31:18 EDT

Flexibility is indded a word.

Jeff, don't worry too much about the bellows. If you are really worried, make the air pipe to the forge so that it is not a sealed connection at the firepot, but rather is "aimed" into the tuyere with a little space around it. This will prevent any possible gas flashback. The best way to avoid a backfire is not to wet down the fire. Wet coal produces some very flammable gasses that will light off with a bang if you don't keep a steady draft. This happens at the point they contact air, which I once discovered the hard way with a hand-crank blower. I wtaered the fire and let the blast stop by accident. The second I cranked again, the gasses that had settled in the flex tube lit off with a boom like a shotgun, splitting the tube (thin dryer vent-type aluminum foil). I nearly lost a couple of pounds...

Don't water a new fire and you will be fine.

Newsmith: hot enough to burn you, but at no point should it get glowing hot. My forge is a cast firepot in a steel plate with a wooden framework. There is wood within about a foot from the firepot. In four years of operation, the wood has never gotten hot enough to char. This includes many days of eight-to-ten hour forging sessions.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 09/19/04 11:35:10 EDT

flexibility is the correct spelling. . .

Fire Pot temperatures: Depending on the design, use and missuse some CI fire pots melt or get burned out. Depending on the fire condition between periods of blast they can often reach 1,500°F or so. Part of what makes metal fire pots work is the exposure of the bottom to the air for cooling.

Bellows and Coal: The problem with smoke explosions occurs with both coal and charcoal but is more common with coal. The problem occurs more often when the bellows are higher than the forge so the hot gases rise and fill the pipe and upper chamber. It also occurs more often when a draft or breeze blows air into the forge and up the pipe.

My outdoor portable forge (see the Ultimate Forge Trailer) on the 21st Century Page, had both these conditions. The solution to preventing explosions with excessive pressure was simple technique. The gas explosions occur when fresh air is forced to mix with the hot fuel rich gases. If the upper chamber of the bellows is fully pressurized or on the way to being so then you have multiple forces at work. So the solution is to always give the bellows a very short pull prior to long ones anytime they have been at rest. If you practice this it becomes habit and you rarely have a problem. The problem is when "helpers" jerk the handle without that little double pump. Smoke explosions still occur and will raise the upper chamber fully but do no damage.

There are other preventive measures to prevent damaging the bellows. Since as early as the 1400's large factory bellows had a relief valve on the top board. This is just like the check valves and is weighted just enough that it does not blow open under normal use. This prevents overpressurization by abuse (a common problem) as well as reducing pressure during a smoke explosion. This was a very common feature on old paired single acting bellows because they had no exhust valve to prevent sucking smoke in from the forge.

Correct application of single acting bellows is with nozzles that blow into a reciever with an air gap between the nozzles and the reciever (often a shield stone or the end of the tuyere). However, there is some loss of eficiency in this system and when the fire is tight or clogged it does not work well.

If you are really obsessed about this common occurance then make a check valve to go into the pipe close to the forge. A simple sloped valve that closes with gravity would prevent any back drafts into the bellows.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/19/04 12:00:55 EDT

4140/30: I agree with QC. If the heat treater does not know what he has then the part may not survive the quench. If the heat treater finds that things are not as they should be they will start asking questions of the customer such as, "Are you SURE this is 4130?". Better to be up front on this one.

4140 is the more common alloy and if 4130 was specified then there was probably good reason for it.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/19/04 12:29:26 EDT

I forgot to mention I have a cast iron firepot from Centaur Forge. I dont think i'll be working the forge over 6 hours unless i'm doing demonstations.
   - NewSmith - Sunday, 09/19/04 13:10:45 EDT

The problem is not time, it is fire depth, amount of air applied and for how long, quality of fuel (the best coal burns at 3,300°F and can melt steel or CI easily). Load up a new firepot with a stack of coal, fire it up and leave the blast on full and in a short time (10 to 15 minute) the white iron sparkles you see will not be anything you put in the fire but the firepot tuyere itself.

I have seen many burnt out firepots. The cheap light weight ones burn out faster than the heavy ones but there are also some that direct the blast to the sides too much and apply the highest heat to the pot rather than the center of the fire.

Everything depends on YOU. Try to do too much in a two small a forge or leave one unattended with the blast on and you can wreck a brand new forge. Pay attention to your fire, only use as big a fire as you need and use common sense and the forge may last generations.

The advantage to a bellows or a hand crank blower is that if you leave it unattended it does no harm. Electric blowers are MUCH more convienient and productive but they are like any mindless powered device. They can be quite distructive if left unattended or misused.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/19/04 14:25:12 EDT

Big Bang Theory: About 15 years ago I was the Heat Treat Superintendent in a 10" pipe mill. The heat treat line was induction austenitizing and gas tempering. It ran the pipe single file, end to end at about 14 tons per hour with a wraparound water spray quench. Occasionally, water would get into the ID of the pipe and if it got back to the area that was in the range of 1750F, it did not just vaporize, it dissociated into hydrogen and oxygen. A small spark or a glowing piece of scale would be enough to set it off with a tremendous bang. Yep, several of the men on the floor discovered a sphinter control problem they never knew they had. Then again, a 5 foot tongue of blue flame blowing out of a 10" pipe would be enough of a laxative for most people.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/19/04 14:33:22 EDT

Hi, I have a perfect cond. 200lb Hay budden. it is in awsome cond. best i've seen. plus with the weight, around whats that worth?
   Marcus - Sunday, 09/19/04 14:48:27 EDT

ok, i spent 375 on it. is that a good deal?
   Marcus - Sunday, 09/19/04 14:54:01 EDT

Marcus, Good deal. I paid very close to that for my 200 HB in the mid 1980's and it was a good deal then. Hay-Budden made the best of the American made forged anvils. Compare what you paid to a new Peddinghaus. You got the same quality if not better as well as a piece of history.

My 200 pound Hay-Budden photo (2) 2003 Jock Dempsey

My 200 pound Hay-Budden was modified (by the factory I think) to an early farrier's style with two pritichel holes and part of the shelf removed. It also has two bolt or pining holes on the center line of the foot. It is not perfect, there being some wear on the horn and a couple small torch cuts. But it is a great old anvil and a good size. I keep saying I'll dress the horn but it works fine as-is.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/19/04 16:32:30 EDT

Whats the average price for a 110 lb cast iron or steel anvil. Ive seen many different prices.
   - NewSmith - Sunday, 09/19/04 17:40:56 EDT

I forgot to mention new or used.(Without any severe damage like boken horns)
   - NewSmith - Sunday, 09/19/04 18:13:16 EDT

Thanks for the bellows info guys, I am just scared because the barn that my shop is in burned to the ground once before(not from forge). This is a brand new barn and dont want anything to happen again. You guys are great and this website is great.
   jeff - Sunday, 09/19/04 18:46:41 EDT

One quick question for the more knowlegable:
What's the heaviest capacity manual box/ pan break and shear you can get? I'm looking for something around 4 1/2 feet long, for stainless steel sheet(304 SS).
   HavokTD - Sunday, 09/19/04 18:56:45 EDT

Newsmith: My firepot is the Centaur Vulcan rectangular. I've seen them destroyed, but it was always operator error that did it. Hint: Do not pour water in a hot cast iron firepot. Cast iron anvils, unless Fisher or Vulcan brand, are worth about $0.07 per pound around here, new or used. That's what the scrap rate was last time I checked, anyway. Cast steel, on the other hand, varies quite a bit. I will let others more knowledgable than myself chime in on that one.

QC: Yow! Glad I missed that one...

Marcus: Lucky dog!
   Alan-L - Sunday, 09/19/04 19:19:39 EDT

I’m not part of the support staff for this site, but I would like to share something that may be of interest.

A while back there was a comment made about the difficulty of moving a heavy anvil around. I solved that problem (at least for moving it around the shop) by creating the capability to use wheels to move it. An axle with a set of wheels is welded on the backside of my anvil base. The wheels are slightly off the floor when the base is sitting flat on the floor. The center of the axle is probably about 1.5” from the base.

On the opposite side of the stand (from the wheels), there is a little neck (3/4“ rod, bent in a semi-circle) welded near the bottom of the stand. When I want to move the anvil, I use a mini-cart I made that hooks onto the ¾” rod, push down on the cart handle, which lifts that side of the anvil base The base is tilted away from you a bit, which caused the wheels on the other side of the base to engage with the floor, lifting the anvil and base. The entire base and anvil is now on wheels. The neck is far enough out from the base so I can turn the cart and easily move the anvil to where I want it. The “neck” actually fits into a very short piece of pipe that is welded onto the “cart”.

There are pictures in a djhammerd photo album in the YAHOO user gallery if anyone is interested in taking a peek. I used small iron wheels so they would not be in the way (much) if I need to work on the other side of the anvil.
   djhammerd - Sunday, 09/19/04 19:53:03 EDT

Firepot damage:

I've been thinking of adding a timed switch that operates the fan for one minute only. This should help to stop burnt work as well as burnt firepots. Anybody got a wiring diagram?
   Bob G - Sunday, 09/19/04 20:50:05 EDT

I know this isnt a very technical question but how much does it usually cost to do demonstrations at parks or reanactments such as Bethabara Park?
   - NewSmith - Sunday, 09/19/04 21:21:26 EDT


I do all the demonstrations at Bethabara Park free, since they own the forge trailer that I use. In Forsyth County, I usually charge a flat $50 fee for going and setting up. I do this for the local Historical Societies and schools to support the "Home Folk". My normal fee outside of North Carolina is $250 a day. Sometimes I'll cut a new event a bit of a "deal" to help them get their event off of the ground.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 09/19/04 21:28:17 EDT

Thank you pawpaw, I was just wonderin.
   - NewSmith - Sunday, 09/19/04 21:38:32 EDT

Bob G
Just put a foot switch in the power line to operate the electric blower. Wire it so it only works when your foot is on the switch.

   - Conner - Sunday, 09/19/04 22:23:49 EDT

New Smith,

No problem, anytime I can help, I'm usually willing.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 09/19/04 22:42:50 EDT

Bound for Boston and will probably be incommunicado for the next several days.

Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site:


"...hold that thought."
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 09/19/04 22:51:07 EDT

In response to Terry L. ,9/17/04. If you have not gotten your nose bar straightened out.I should be able to straighten it for you reasonably. I am located about 17 miles north of Hammond, La. My shop is 1 mile East of I-55 on US 51.If you can drop your piece off during a trip north , I can most likely fix it. If you are interested E-mail me.Thanks B.H.
   - Big `Ol Anvil - Sunday, 09/19/04 23:07:36 EDT

I'm making a spear(fighting, not throwing) with a tang construction. The blade is about 30cm long and the tang about 20cm. I want to split the wood, bore holes through it and the tang, and fix it with pins. Should I rather use soft pins (like copper) and make a press fit, or should I do something like a wire wrap to keep the pins from falling out. I don't want to put too much metal on the front of the blade in order to keep the balance just right. any suggestions, even alternative methods, would be greatly appreciated. Thanx, Scott Patatsky.
   Scott Patatsky - Monday, 09/20/04 02:52:54 EDT

Scott Patatsky: If you split the wood you'll need a ferrul, socket, or binding to prevent the split from going farther down the shaft. If you drill a hole at the bottom of where you want the slit, then saw down to it, that should prevent that problem. You can peen pins in tight with a hammer even if they're not a particularly soft metal like copper, I'd probably use normalized steel for pins. Jim Hristoulas has a section on making spears in his book "The Master Bladesmith" which is worth looking into.
   AwP - Monday, 09/20/04 03:41:53 EDT

I once cracked an old Buffalo firepot by using a bit too much water while it was hot. I have since gone to a soaked rag and had no further problems. However, I have a factory Buffalo forge with original blower and rheostat. It came with a sliding flue damper because even the lowest setting on the fan is too high for most work. I barely crack the damper and let the blower run continuously while I work; only turning it off when I'm done forging. The fire stays hot so I lose less time between heats and I haven't noticed an increase in fuel consumption over my old hand blower setup. I am forced to use dirty coal that makes a lot of clinker but it's very hot and cokes well, plus it was cheap when I bought it. Letting the fan run constantly at a low setting seems to reduce the clinker or at least keep it out of the blast. IMHO, letting a fire burn hollow is not good practice with any setup so good fire control is as important as what type blower is used.
   HWooldridg - Monday, 09/20/04 10:32:39 EDT

Different Anvil Prices: Newsmith, The large differences in the non-name cheap imports is due to the following:

1) Difference in quality (CI is junk)
2) Markup

There are almost none of these on the market used that I know of.

The problems with buying one of these is legion. Most of the dealers selling them don't have a clue to the material and often the importer doesn't know either. The information in the review of the Russian cast anvil did not come from the manufacturers or sellers, it came from people that bought them and tested them.

On ebay, every seller I have looked at selling cheap imported anvils was missrepresenting the product. They sell cast iron as steel and low carbon poorly heated treated as high carbon "professional" quality. Most were selling for more than they can be bought from legitimate honest dealers. They rely on the fact that shipping cost is non-refundable both to make a profit and to deter the purchaser from returning the product.

The big import houses like Harbor Freight don't say ANYTHING to give you a hint of the materials or quality of these products because they DO NOT KNOW. So at least they are honest in that respect. They don't don't know so they don't make up what they don't know. The fact that they don't give specifics about the product also lets them and the manufacturer change the product without notice. In other words you cannot depend on the product being the same from one day to the next. Personaly I prefer to know what it is I am buying.

I also prefer old beat to pieces REAL anvils that were good tools when they were new rather than bright shiney new junk.
   - guru - Monday, 09/20/04 10:52:35 EDT

Manual Breaks and Shears: In the old catalogs I have the heaviest manual machines were 16ga x 48" on mild steel, 18ga on stainless. You have to remember that the vast majority of manual sheet metal work is in 24 to 28 gauge steel. The VERY heavy Pexto 36" bar fold I had was rated at 20ga steel and so was a similar circle cutter. This was the typical machinery in a large sheet metal shop.

Note that shear blades for stainless are usualy a harder abrasion resistant alloy steel than common shear blades. Stainless is VERY hard on blades punches and dies. Many manufacturers sell special blades for stainless (at a premium price).
   - guru - Monday, 09/20/04 11:04:12 EDT

Coal Forges: The best operating coal forges I have seen and used had small blowers and were operated very gently. My friend who does tons of forge welding does so with blowers 1/4 the size of what most people put on coal forges. He lets the fire build to a welding heat gradualy and gets excellent results.

Shop Fire Hazzards: The biggest shop fire hazzards are trash and debris followed by grinders, arc welders and cutting torches. Unless you do a lot of forge welding there are very few sparks generated from forging or the forge. However, angle grinders throw a shower of sparks 10 to 15 feet and welder sputter balls bounce nearly that far. Both find there way under benches and in cracks and crevices.

The only two shop fires I've had to extinguish were from smokers carelessly tossing cigarettes.

When a bellows "explodes" there is no fire or ball or flame external to the bellows. Just flying splinters of wood (in the worst possible case) or split leather and a few flying tacks. This is devastating to the bellows and can be expensive but there is no shop fire hazzard. Well. . except for the emotional heat and fuming. . .
   - guru - Monday, 09/20/04 11:18:56 EDT

Any suggestions on what to do when machinery becomes magnetic? What if the parts are too large to demag, like the base and dies of a power hammer? I was thinking about grounding the machine with a large grounding rod but that may not have anything to do with it.
   magnetic - Monday, 09/20/04 12:21:25 EDT

I am fixing to buy some oversized O1 drill rod to make drifts for sizing to 1/4" , 5/16", ... etc . The number I have for the thermal coeff of expansion for steel is 12 ppm per deg F. This is probably for "room temp" does the coefficient change significantly over 1500 deg? I am assuming a drifting temp of about 1450.
   adam - Monday, 09/20/04 12:43:40 EDT

I have a question for any of you that have done a lot of wall sconces & candle holders, or anything else that involves wrapping iron around glass. I have been doing some small candle holders that are basically a forged vine with a leaf on either end coiled around a small tapered glass holder (kinda like a flared shot-glass). I have been wrapping them around a pipe like a spring and then tweaking the taper with scrolling pliers. It's slow, but it works.

Any hints for fitting iron to glass for a neat & tight fit?
   Don A - Monday, 09/20/04 13:02:10 EDT

On pricing demo's---a big question would be if they allowed sales or not. A strict no sales demo should cost more than one that will allow you to sell a bit to recoup costs.

The local HF store in CB OH had the anvils misrepresented. The staff didn't know or care about the difference between Cast Iron and Carbon Steel. I should have sic'ed the consumer protection agency on them and then perhaps they would learn to care if their advertising was correct or not.

Don, have you looked into "sagging" glass onto a steel form?

I have caught myself on fire *one* time smithing in the past 24 years---doing a forge weld of course. I caught myself on fire 3 times in a single day using a cutting torch. The welding/forge area of my new shop is diametrically opposite the wood area and there will be a wall between them and a fan to blow rthe sawdust *out* the back door.

I ask folks to smoke only persuient to bursting into flame in my shop...

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/20/04 13:47:14 EDT

I hate to contradict the guru, but most of the major american sheet metal tool companies made 12ga x 4 foot finger brakes.
I have what I consider to be the best of them, a Chicago D&K brake, and it will bend 4 feet of 1/8" mild steel with the application of a little armstrong.
Chicago also made this in a 6 foot version, as well as 14ga. They made even bigger ones, leaf brakes, not press brakes, (which they make as well) that are motorized, either mechanical or hydraulic nowadays. I have seen an 8 foot chicago box and pan that will bend 3/8" plate.
Tennsmith, another american company, also used to make a 4 foot 12 ga. Probably still do.
Taiwan Sheet Metal Corp makes a chicago copy- not as good as the real thing, but cheaper. New Chicago 4' x 12 ga is gonna be north of 6 grand, the taiwan version maybe 4 or so.
Used chicago brakes are around- not cheap, as they last forever. check machinetools.com. I got mine a few years ago for $2800 from a dealer- not a screaming deal, but not bad, considering.
The guru is right about shears, though- 16ga mild, 18ga ss is about the most anyone makes a foot operated shear in- feet just arent made big enough for thicker stuff. You are moving into mechanical, or hydraulic shears at that point, and much more money- 5 grand to 25 grand new, for a shear that will do 1/8". Lots of those available used, although again, its rare to find a cheapie- most people who have one of these knows what it is, and what its worth. again, machinetools.com will have a wide selection, and is a good indicator of prices. Then, check ebay.
   - Ries - Monday, 09/20/04 14:03:34 EDT

Don, the problem with a tight fit of glass and iron is you will run the risk of breaking the glass. Since iron and glass expand and contract at differing rates if there is no room for expansion and contraction movement it MAY crack or break the glass. BUT not too worry. What Thomas said should work fairly well after a bit of trial and error. I would try to get the 'vine wrap made to be just a tad under sized.
Then use a small torch flame to slowly heat the nub end of the glass so it is soft and then carefully twist it on to the vine. let cool in a WARM place so that it does not cool too fast. Might not be any faster, but I think if it works it will actually be pretty cool looking once it is done. But then again It might not work.
   Ralph - Monday, 09/20/04 14:08:52 EDT

wh at is a blacksmiths trip
   Robert - Monday, 09/20/04 14:17:54 EDT

I've caught my clothes on fire a couple times when forge welding, but nothing serious. I did catch myself on fire, sort of, one time while welding outside at night. A pesky moth was evidently attracted by the fluorescent light and kept buzzing around my face while I was trying to weld. After my chasing him around with the torch several times, and getting me very frustrated, the devious little critter landed on my t-shirt just over my navel. Yep, anger won out and I toasted him "in situ." Kids, don't try this at home. The blister was gone in about a week. Really, really dumb! (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 09/20/04 14:22:03 EDT

A blacksmith's trip is when you leave with 5# of rusty iron and return with 500# after driving for three days.
   - adam - Monday, 09/20/04 14:26:20 EDT

djhammerd, I got the following error on your CSI signup response mail:

?????@verison.net>: <<< DNS lookup failed.

Please mail me a good e-mail address.
   - guru - Monday, 09/20/04 15:29:35 EDT

I thought a blacksmith's trip was leaving a chunk of iron on the floor between the forge and the anvil. ;)
   Elliott Olson - Monday, 09/20/04 16:01:50 EDT

No, that is a swage block lying on the floor OR when you miss the work, strike the anvil and have the hammer come up to meet you between the eyes. yo' be tripping for a while.
   - guru - Monday, 09/20/04 16:20:39 EDT

I'm getting closer to setting up my shop. I got a 3# chinese cross pein (new, fiberglass handle) for $7, a coal poker for $1 and Dad bought me a 4.5" post vise for $35 (there goes Christmas). I think I'll construct a 2'x2' heavy bench out of 2x4s for the vise and my rail chunk 'anvils'. Just need to get some pressure treated for the legs (to sit on damp gravel), and build my brake drum forge. One question for the hood. I don't have to allow for VERY much heat (ie, fire risk) going up the chimney, do I?

BTW, I saw a 400# anvil for $800 but that was $800 out of my range for now.
   Elliott Olson - Monday, 09/20/04 16:51:23 EDT

Elliot, If you don't have a hood for your forge and need to make one, use an old metal wheel barrow pan. You can usually find one discarded with a hole in the bottom, you were going to cut a hole for the chimney anyway.
   - ptpiddler - Monday, 09/20/04 17:51:16 EDT

Ries, I also have a Chicago Dreis and Krump brake but mine is only a four foot 14 ga. unit. I have to agree with you on quality. When I called the factory with the serial number to get a little information on mine they informed me that they wouldn't be able to supply any parts for this particular unit as it was obsolete. I told them that nothing had worn out yet and I was just curious about when it was made. Turns out it will take more than eighty years of use to wear this one out- mine was built in 1924 and still works fine though it doesn't look much like the current models.
   SGensh - Monday, 09/20/04 19:17:29 EDT

For anyone interested in the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, go to www.thefabricator.com and read the article on the Museum. I know the guy that wrote it....
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/20/04 19:50:22 EDT

Cheap Forge material: Elliott, A leg vise does little good unless it is anchored so that you can pull on it with all your might and not move it.

A great portable anchor for a vise is a steel drum, old hot water tank or such. Make a bracket to fit the curved surface from wood and attach the vise and bracket with some steel straps 1" to 1-1/2" wide. You can tip and roll it to move. Fill the tank with water and it won't move. If you can find some kind of grate or heavy screen to put in the tank about a foot down it will prevent anything you toss in to quench from requiring a swim to retrieve.

The tank AND a pan for a forge PLUS the hood can all be fabricated from an old hot water heater. Now. . it is a BEAR of a job but a determined but poor young smith can cut the end off that tank with a cold chisle and a hammer. One end of the tank is a dished "head" that if you cut just beyond where it is welded on by an inch or so will make a nice sized forge pan. The bottom of the tank sometimes has a reverse head that dishes INTO the tank. This makes a nice flat bottom to sit on the ground for your vise anchor. The outer sheet metal sheel is a little light for many things but it is just right for a wind break or half hood. It can be cut with heavy sheet metal shears (or that chisle).

Ask 5 neighbors in any neighborhood with houses older than 20 years and one has probably got an OLD hot water heater setting next to the new one their basement that they may PAY you to take away. If they don't have one go to your local plumber. He probably has a mountain of them OR if he doesn't he will have one for you in a couple days and be glad to get rid of it.

"Under counter" hot water heaters are short and fat and would work well but may be too short for a vise anchor after cutting of the head for a forge.

All these old tanks will have pin holes from rust and will leak. But as a quench tank with no pressure the leaks can be fixed with a little JD-weld, silicon caulk or even a piece of chewiing gum. If the tank has a drain valve (most do) leave it in place to drain the water when needed.

North America is RICH with this sort of treasure just waiting to be hauled off. At seasonal cleanup time the sidewalks are littered with lawn mowers that have only been used for one or two seasons and need a spark plug or the carb to be cleaned to make them run. BBQ grills with carts the same age are often tossed out complete. Any auto shop usualy has a pile of old exhust pipes that will work for tuyeres. . . Resturant equipment suppliers often have various tanks and stainless deep fat frying baskets that don't fit anything current and will let go for scrap.
   - guru - Monday, 09/20/04 20:13:25 EDT

I fully agree that America is a very wasteful society! But then I built my entire blacksmith shop,several leantoo's and most of the stuff in the blacksmith shop from cast-a-ways. I admit to being a good scrounger, but there is good stuff out there, you just need "the need".
   ptree - Monday, 09/20/04 21:07:31 EDT

I have a vise, a forge, hammers, tongs, cutting tools, and an anvil(USA CI). What else would I really be needing or atleast appropriate to have?
   - NewSmith - Monday, 09/20/04 22:00:52 EDT


Sounds like you've got most of the major bases covered. However, you didn't mention safety equipment.

Safety goggles, ear plugs and a good pair of leather gloves are a must, in my opinion. As a newbie, I grabbed more than my fair share of hot steel (yes, black heat is still dang hot!) and the glove on my stock hand saved me a lot of ugly burns. Leather apron is optional, but fashionable. Wear cotton clothes. They won't melt to you like some synthetics when the forge fleas come to bite. You also need a fire extinguisher or readily available water source to put out errant fires and, of course, a slack tub to quench your hot work in.

If I read you correctly, you have a cast iron anvil. I'd be looking for a replacement as soon as you can. We give the cast iron anvils a lot of crap, and for good reason. You'll put a lot more work into forging with one (no rebound) which is bad for the body, it is likely to crumble under a good hammer hit, and the face will look like a bad Rocky movie after every use. However, if you want to get started, and that's what you have, give it a go. Just keep an eye out for a suitable replacement.

Happy hammering!
   eander4 - Monday, 09/20/04 23:52:49 EDT


I think I've seen that author's byline before. He writes a nice article. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 09/21/04 00:28:06 EDT

Yes I am learning all about blacksmithing I am tryin to get a forge of my own started I have always liked workin with metal currently I am making a sword though I want to start making Chain mail I was wondering if in anyway you could help me out in this area i would be very grateful I am 16 years old har finding job where I live and I am in Great need of a Anvil could you please help me out on this if so it would be It would really make my day Thanks
   Ben - Tuesday, 09/21/04 01:43:01 EDT

Pieces of railroad rail can function as an anvil. Just watch out for passing trains. I asked at the local CN Rail maintenance shop and they let me scrounge their scrap bin for free. only found a couple 3/4" long slices of rail so far, but also grabbed a bunch of spikes and some rail bolts. Once I get my forge built and fired up, I'll try forging a small anvil shape from these slices for smaller work.

What's the consensus on leaving or straightening the curved top of a 12" piece of rail?
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 09/21/04 02:27:55 EDT

guru, last week I signed up for the slacktub pub, but I never got an e-mail verifying my registration. was that part of the bug in the system or something else?
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 09/21/04 03:03:45 EDT

It was a good article...wonder who wrote it?
Ben:...Cool. Everything you need to know is tucked away on this website (Anvilfire) in one place or other...Try " getting Started" to start with.....look around.
Elliot and Ben; When you get right down to it, most forging is done on just a very few square inches of anvil face. Beginners miss that fact and waste a lot of $ and effort getting an anvil that looks official. The trick is to get a heavy piece of steel with the most possible mass directly under the working face. You can often find a hefty piece of bar or shafting like a big axle in a scrap yard cheap. Find one with a flat end ( or grind it flat) and stand it up on end for an anvil...it'll work better than most cheap anvils. Forget the old RR rail..they just bounce around and frustrate you.
Elliot: The good Guru is trying to be 27 people all at once and even though he doesn't sleep much, he is always way behind on the registrations...but he will get there! sooner or later.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 09/21/04 03:56:17 EDT

SLACK TUB I am months behind in registrations. I have tried to catch up but have found the load to much to keep up with. I will turn the job over to someone as soon as I can but it requires a lot of time and very specific skills editing server configuration files when things go wrong.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 10:33:09 EDT

Elliot, Ben, and Newsmith, read all the posts on this page, and then check the last entry in the archives. I posted a long rant about anvils there.

Newsmith: By USA ci anvil do you mean one of those little 30 lb. anvil-shaped objects that have a parting line down the center of the face and the letters "USA" in raised relief on the side? If so, don't use a hammer any heavier than about 2lbs or you won't have that anvil in one piece for long.
Eric (eander4) is right on about safety equipment, except you only need one glove max. I no longer use gloves at all, but when I started I did find that one on the tong hand could be helpful. Do not ever under any circumstances wear a glove on your hammer hand, unless you want to see how far the hammer will fly when it slips out of your hand. Yes, you will get blisters at first, but they will soon turn into hammer calluses and improve your grip. If you do choose to wear a glove on your tong hand, make sure it is the kind that can be flung off in one motion with one hand only. You WILL grab something that's too hot, and leather stays hot enough to burn for a second or two after you drop the steel. On the same note, a sweaty or wet glove is dangerous. Simple burns are bad enough, but a steam scald will peel the skin right off your hand along with the glove you were wearing. Ask me how I know this...
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/21/04 10:39:47 EDT

Chain Mail: Ben this is a specialty and there are some very good web sites out there about nothing but mail. Among the details they get into is the brands of wire clippers that hold up vs those that do not. A few sell rings premade which is a BIG part of the job.

Jobs for a resourceful teenager can be had. There are almost always neighbors that need lawan and garden work done, snow shoveling season is upon us and there are always windows to wash and attics and basements to haul stuff out of. . . you never know, one of those might have an anvil just waiting for you to trade some labor for.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 10:46:00 EDT

I ask this question again since it seems to have been overlooked: How do I estimate the expansion of a hole diameter in mild steel as it goes from 50F to 1450F? Can I use a fixed value for the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion, or does the CTE change significantly over this temp range? If so where can I find a graph of the CTE vs temp? The CTE of steel is usually quoted as being about 7 ppm per degF (the number I mentioned previously was for degK) Is this a constant over the temp range in question?

NewSmith I third what eander & Alan said about safety. I dont like to use gloves either - IMO while they protect you from small damage, they also set you up for some really nasty injuries. Small burns and cuts on your hands are just part of the deal. Do keep a bucket of ice water handy - this is the best treatment for burns. Give us some more details about your anvil and we can give you more specific advice about use, mounting and whether you need to look for an upgrade.
   adam - Tuesday, 09/21/04 11:12:33 EDT

Equipment and Safety: Blacksmithing incorporates virtualy ALL forms of metalworking and there is never an end to the tools you need. Yes, the most basic are anvil, hammer, vise, forge and tongs. But even for the smallest operation you also need a hack saw, files, chisles, punches (all sizes from little pin punches up to big 1" handled punches). You also need a drill and bits. This can be a hand drill or a drill press. You do not need a large set of bits but the sizes you DO use you need multiples of. Small bits (up to 3/8" - 10mm) are almost impossible to resharpen properly and are best thrown out when dull.

Then there are tin snips, vise-grips, grinders. . . You almost cannot operate without a small bench grinder for sharpening tools. You can use a hand held angle grinder for many things and they are much more flexible than a bench grinder. Dremmel tools and heavier die grinders are also handy and the BEST shop multi-purpose grinder is a belt grinder/sander.

As soon as you add the simplest machines to your arsenal you need a fair set of mechanics tools (wrenches, screw drivers, a socket set) to do maintenance with. Even replacing grinding wheels and saw blades often requires tools that are better than what came with the machine. As the machines get bigger the tool needs grow with them. Drill presses and cutoff saws are actually minimum metalworking equipment and they require a bunch of wrenches to maintain. Small lathes are also common in blacksmith shops.

Shortly after getting into metalworking you will find the need for welding equipment. A buzz box (transformer AC welder) is relatively inexpensive and opens a world of opportunities for making your own tools. Oxy-acetylene equipment is expensive and few amatures can afford it but it is almost a necessity if you are serious about blacksmithing in the 21st century. Oxy-acetylene can be used to cut heavy plate, solder, braze, weld and heat odd items that don't fit the forge. In the early days of oxy-acetylene equipment a portable outfit on a cart was termed a "forge" by many sellers.

Then there is the absolute productivity tool, the power hammer. When I stated in smithing there was a large number of amatures and professionals that sneared at power hammers as being "untraditional". Now ALL those folks have one or more in their shops. The power hammer replaces the expense of a laborer standing around with a sledge hammer in his hand waiting for you to say HIT IT! When labor was cheap and the blacksmith shop was an important part of life there was always a helper (or three) on hand. This is no longer true. The power hammer not only replaces a laborer it works much faster. Parts that would take multiple heats to forge with strikers can be forged in a single heat. This saves fuel and greatly improves the quality of the work. With the proper dies amazing work can be done that is probably more sculptural and "handworked" than can actually be done by hand. See our current edition of the NEWS and the edition to be launched in a few days from SOFA. One covers Uri Hofi's demos and work and the next the Big BLU hammer school.

Many smiths BUILD their own machines from shears and grinders through power hammers. That arc welder and gas welding equipment can make it happen.

AH. . . that safety note. There have recently been public service TV ads reminding people to get DPT (tetnus and Diptheria) booster shots. If it has been ten years you need another shot. That means YOU teenager as well as most of us old foagies that haven't been to the hospital for some reason or another for more than a decade or two. . .

Make an appointment now. Very cheap insurance.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 11:24:15 EDT

CoE: Adam, no the coefficient of expansion is not a constant. The common published value is for room temperature +/- about 200°F. It is different at elevated temperatures. Its not in Machinerys so I will look in my physics and chemistry references. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 11:36:07 EDT

The only time I use a glove anymore is when carving hot steel, as in making animal heads and such, and then mostly to insulate the side of my hand from the yellow-orange hot steel three inches below it. I need to make some longer chisels! I was reminded of this two weeks ago while making a dragon-headed hook on 3/8" stock. The side of one of the nostrils blew out as I was punching it and the sharp burr caught my left pinky as it slipped by.

The good part about very hot steel is that small cuts are instantly cauterized. In this case, there was a slight "ffzzztt" sound and a curl of nasty-smelling smoke. I thought "Hmmm, that's gonna sting here in a minute." Inspection showed a neat 1/4" long cut about 1/16" deep at the center, all completely white, hard, and crusty. Five minutes in ice water and all is well. Completely healed with a neat scar.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/21/04 11:40:58 EDT

Forgot to add, I was not wearing a glove when I did that!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/21/04 11:44:21 EDT

FYI our local county health department gives tetanus shots for free. Check it out. Do I hear snarls of "socialized medicine?" So what? Check it out anyway. If it's there, you're paying for it, use it.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Tuesday, 09/21/04 12:08:06 EDT

Here is another interesting article by that same fellow "Nichols"


On the subject of continuous quenching for steel pipe
   adam - Tuesday, 09/21/04 12:15:20 EDT

American Institute of Physics Handbook, 1957 a McGraw-Hill reprint, 1982, p4-120,140 has the coefficints of expansion for MANY items. It is given in degrees Kelvin for Elements and degrees C for alloys and compounds. Two components are given, epsilon and alpha. It would take me a days study to figure out the chart and math relative to the real world. . physisicist I am not.

For steel the range given is -250°C to 700°C (1292°F). I have left out over half the data points.

SAE 1020 Steel
Temperature e a
-250°C -202 0.2
-150°C -168 7.0
-50°C -127 9.2
0°C -79 10.4
20°C -23 11.4
100°C 0 11.7
500°C 524 15.6
700°C 1023 17.2

Note that this kind of thing is all based on empirical data. There is no magic to it, all the data comes from very careful laboratory testing of specific materials.

Years ago when I was working on a mass flow meter for water I found groups of approximation formulae for water and organized them into a function that returned the density for the entire range. The change is not linear so there were three or four formulae, as they approached the change from one method to another I smoothed the curve to get more accurate results. . . between approximations and averaging the reaults were probably better than anyone had used prior. Another method is to put all the known data points into an array and fill in the gaps using a cubic spline and extract mid data points as needed. Computer manipulation of data this way can be VERY powerful and accurate but it also requires lots of testing. . . Such functions can quickly return results without guessing or looking through stacks of data.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 12:28:46 EDT

Slacktub: ok, I was just wondering, these forums are fine for now.

Marbles: On another site I saw something about leaving a marble for the smith, to explain it the guy said to ask a smith about the marble theory.
OK, I'm asking...
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 09/21/04 12:34:34 EDT

Late chime in on 4130/4140 - not only is carbon different between the 2 grades, maganese content differs as well - 4130 specifies .40 to .60 % manganese, while 4140 specifies .75 to 1.00 % manganese. Specifications for chrome and molybdenum are the same. The manganese will have an affect on heat treating. My experience with 4130 was that final application was often aircraft related - you definitely do not want to substitute 4104 for 4130 if that is the case.
Regards, Gavain
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 09/21/04 12:35:46 EDT

Marble Theory: There used to be a good explaination somewhere. Pete F probably has it. . Some people take the marble literaly but it has become a metaphor for a bit of knowledge or wisdom given in exchange for what you have received in kind.
The Marble Theory of Clifton Ralph ?. .

. . . So you want to be a blacksmith. Buy a BIG bag of marbles. Every time you buy or make a new tool, leave a marble. When all of your marbles are gone, you'll be a blacksmith. . . .
Membership in CSI costs less than a marble a day and returns much more.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 13:04:08 EDT

Guru - thanks! I will look up that reference. There is indeed a significant change on CTE. Since I need the *total* increase in size over a 1400F temp change, this is an integration problem - Simpson's rule ought to be more than equal to the task.
   adam - Tuesday, 09/21/04 13:04:27 EDT

Adam, other referencs may have it in more coherent terms. Engineering refrences use an average in the realm of most shop conditions which is good enough for most work. General lab references give values for most things at 20°C unless dealing with extreams.

Somewhere I have the density of melted iron and steel which would give you a far point beyond the above table. However, I am sure changes in crystal structure put a serious kink in the curve.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 13:40:55 EDT

forge hood: I guess I wasn't too clear yesterday, my concern was more for the amount of heat going up the chimney rather than the hood gathering the smoke. I have foiled 3/4" foam for a suspended cieling. Do I need something to isolate the chimney pipe from that, or is it not that much heat?
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 09/21/04 14:23:42 EDT

A. forge flues do not usually get hot up near the ceiling. Forges run very hot but they dont put out that much heat energy.

B. Check your local codes - In my town you must have at least a double walled insulated flue even if all you have is a candle burning.

C. Were it my setup I would cut a hole in the foam big enough to allow at least a 1" gap and perhaps stuff the gap with something like fibreglass insulation
   adam - Tuesday, 09/21/04 16:02:20 EDT


Check your building codes for freestanding fireplaces. I will bet they require triple-wall flue penetration of the ceiling and roof. I would hesitate to tell them it was for a forge, for fear of having too many questions to answer. That foam may well start to outgas noxious volatiles at much lower than kindling temperatures, as well. Err on the side of caution when dealing with fires and buildings.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 09/21/04 16:23:12 EDT

Foam insulation is flamable and depending on the type gives off lots of noxious gases before and while burning.

Normally a triple wall pipe is required by the building codes. This has the inner flue, a pipe 1-1/2 to 2" larger to make a 1" air gap AND a third pipe another 2" larger to make a second air gap. Air circulates in the gaps and the exterior pipe stays close to room temperature. These run cool enough that they are used inside wood framed "chimneys".

Triple wall pipe is used from about a foot below the ceiling through the attic and both penetrations. Regular single wall pipe can connect to it at the bottom.

Building codes also require that foam insulation to be covered with sheet rock to protect it from exposure to heat and flame. The same recommendation is probably printed on the insulation.

The framing around the pipe penetrations is normally filled with "rock wool" which has been replaced by kaowool. The fill acts both as insulation and as a "fire stop" preventing fire from spreading through the gap.

Where codes do not apply you can apply these methods with your own hardware. Howver, where codes and insurance companies rule the parts normally have to meet UL and other standards.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 16:42:52 EDT

Have you actually tried to get marbles lately?
At least here in the Portland Oregon Metro area they are as plentiful as hens teeth. Something to do with liablity and chocking hazards and lawsuits.......
It is a sad day when a young boy can no longer learn to play marbles.........(sigh)
   Ralph - Tuesday, 09/21/04 17:26:06 EDT

I've only gambled twice in my life and once was in marbles and the other pool. Both times I won but due to being outnumbered by a bunch of BIG guys I didn't leave with my "winnings". The marbles we played in elementray school was not a classic marble game but a roll, toss and bounce off the roots of a big oak into a "pot" formed by the roots. Rules were catch as catch can. I lucked out on a very large "pot" of marbles that would make a collector swoon today. About 5 pounds of REAL agies, steelies and a variety of colored opaque glass marbles of different sizes. None of the cheap glass "cats eyes" that are now sought after and were common then. It was supposed to be a "keepers" game. . . but aparently not when a scrawny 3rd grader won against a bunch of 5th graders. . . The pool game was about ten years later. . . same deal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/04 18:13:34 EDT


Alan L is right. One glove for the tong hand. I'm kinda quirky, as I'll switch tong hands, depending on what I'm doing (the legacy of a natural lefty, forced to learn in a right-handed world). As such, I keep both gloves on hand (pun intended) and wear whichever one I need at that time.

A source of clean, cold water to dunk a burn is a must. Accident time is no time to find out what fell into your slack tub and died (It's been mostly frogs this summer), and as a bacteriologist, I can assure you, the dead things in the tub are the least of your problems. It's the microscopic live ones that'll do you in.

   eander4 - Tuesday, 09/21/04 18:31:47 EDT


By "ten years later. . . same deal." do you mean you were still a scrawny third grader? That's a lot of time in grade school. (grin)
   eander4 - Tuesday, 09/21/04 18:33:26 EDT

Acurately sized drifted holes, Adam.
Why do you want to drift an exact size hole?
If it is for any other reason than to see if you can, (and no better reason needs to given or explained if this is so)would drifting slightly undersize and reaming be a more efficent method? (I under stand that if it is cause you want to see if you can efficency has nought to do with anything)
   JimG - Tuesday, 09/21/04 18:35:49 EDT

oops, Adam,
Never mind, I just seen your response on the hammer in, please consider my above post deleted........
   JimG - Tuesday, 09/21/04 18:50:54 EDT

I know absolutely nothing about blacksmithing. I am doing a mini research for a class in school and have a quick question. What is a shrinking tub? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
   sarah - Tuesday, 09/21/04 19:14:41 EDT

"How do I estimate the expansion of a hole diameter in mild steel as it goes from 50F to 1450F? " What makes you think the hole will expand? As the material around it expands, the hole will get smaller. Unless it doesn't.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/21/04 19:28:56 EDT

Any suggestions on what to do when machinery becomes magnetic? What if the parts are too large to demag, like the base and dies of a power hammer? I was thinking about grounding the machine with a large grounding rod but that may not have anything to do with it.
   magnetic - Tuesday, 09/21/04 19:44:02 EDT

Sarah, a shrinking tub was used by smiths when "shrinking" an iron tire onto a wooden wagon wheel. To do this, you take the wooden wheel, make an iron hoop that is just slightly smaller than the outside of the wooden wheel, then heat the iron up to a good red heat, which makes it expand just enough to slip over the wood with a bit of hammering. After the iron is on the wood (which will start to burn!) you must cool the iron tire in water before it burns the wheel to ashes. A shrinking tub sat under a sort of stand on which you would place the wheel/tire assembly so you could spin the wheel and cool the iron uniformly. The iron will shrink back to its original size when cool, thus "shrinking" tub. Many smiths just used bucket of water to do the same thing.

Magnetic: Grounding it won't help. I don't know what will with something that big.

Eric: yet another benefit to instant cautery!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/21/04 20:02:36 EDT

Guru (and associates),
I'm currently building a new coal forge for my new shop, using concrete building blocks to form two pillars and having a 3X7 sheet of steel spanning the two pillars, forming a sort of forge table. The firepot will be set in the table / plate inbetween the two pillars. My question is, should I put a layer of firebrick down on my table or just leave the steel plate exposed. If exposed, would 1/4" steel plate be adequate or should I go thicker. I was thinking that the fire brick might reflect more heat making it a better choice. Your opinions / advice on this subject is much appreciated.

Many Thanks,
Stephan P
   Stephan P - Tuesday, 09/21/04 20:07:07 EDT

Alan-L: Thanks so much for the info. It was a big help. Can the tub also be used for shoeing horses?
   Sarah - Tuesday, 09/21/04 20:13:31 EDT

Pipe and Burns-- Used to be available a Canadian pipe for going through the roof from a wood stove called Securite, double-walled stainless pipe packed with good old asbestos. Clearance with it could be 2 inches. There is something comparable now, unknow brand name. Get it. Ordinary pipe, even double or triple wall, is okay with masonry, but NOT with framing. Why take a chance? Every burn I've had, and that's plenty, got infected. Silver sulfadiazene at the least, or Neosporin or its ilk at the least, and pronto, before it turns that evil pink.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Tuesday, 09/21/04 20:18:32 EDT

What do members of CSI do?
   - NewSmith - Tuesday, 09/21/04 20:46:29 EDT

I have used "Metalvent" all fuel pipe. It is stainless inside layer and outside layer, with vermiculite in the middle. Lasts forever, is somewhat heavy, quite expensive, and the only thing to use for all fuels thru wood framing.
An unusual thing happens to wood exposed to elevated temps for long duration. The temp required to kindle the wood into a fire DROPS. The elevated temps required to do this will not even cause the wood to smoke. I think I remember that the Metalvent was a 1" or 2" clearance. They had a complete line of parts required to mount and support the somewhat heavy pipe.

"Life is too short to spend any of it Dead, Injuried, or in Jail!"
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/21/04 21:03:41 EDT


They degaussed whole ships in WWII so they wouldn't set off magnetic mines, so it must be possible to deguass your machinery. I'd try a Google on that term.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 09/21/04 21:04:03 EDT

Everybody is different, and different things bug us and please us. Personally I have always, for over 25 years in a metal shop, worn gloves on both hands. I have never lost a hammer into outer space, never had a steam burn- in fact, when wearing gloves, I have never had a serious, or even middling burn, on either hand. I have never had a cut that needed stiches, or even a butterfly bandage. I have had a whole lot of cases where the glove got burnt, or scratched, or cut, or a hole drilled thru it, or sanded, or wire brushed, pounded on, or pierced with hot mig wire, and I did not.
I just feel that cowhide is tougher than my skin, and most important, not a part of my body. So I would rather sacrifice it than my own self.
I also insist that the guys who work for me wear gloves, and in 20 years or so, with maybe 20 employees over that time, we have had exactly one accident that required stiches, and it would have been a lot worse if he hadnt been wearing gloves.
Now I would never in a million years tell any of you guys what you should or shouldnt do, and if you dont wanna wear gloves, or seatbelts, or BVD's, that is entirely your business. But I do feel like it is a good idea to recommend gloves to new smiths- I really feel like the amount of burns and cuts they stop far outnumber the rare freak accident where the glove causes a worse wound.
I am not talking about working around rotating equipment, but just general shop use. I just feel they are safer, and I have my, and my employees experiences that make me think that way.
Experienced guys, working in their own shops, can and should make any call they feel is safer for them. But newbies should start out with safety gear, then shed it as their experience tells them they may.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 09/21/04 22:14:33 EDT

Elliot Olson:
I got a piece of rail about 30 years ago and made an "anvil" out of it using torch and a large angle grinder. I left the top rounded as found. I used it to straighten nails etc, but never got into blacksmithing until a few years ago. I got the impression that an anvil had to be flat, so I sawed an 1/8 th of an inch slab off the top with a hacksaw. It took about a week, cutting for half an hour per day. It actually ended up quite flat, but now the top is softer than it was originally. The original surface had work hardened, and was actually better than it is now. It was not worth all the work. A piece of rail does not make a very good anvil unless you can find a piece of heavy gauge rail, and use it only for light work. Alexander Weygers in his book "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" shows how to make a small anvil out of rail and how to heat treat it.

   Don Sinclaire - Tuesday, 09/21/04 23:58:52 EDT

New Smith among other things we suppost anvilfire. With out our support anvilfire would not keep running.
We ( CSI) are forming a non-profit group to that end. To allow anvilfire to continue running and growing. We are trying to make a real difference in the world of smithing. It may sound trite but I do believe that all of use in CSI believe it to be true
   Ralph - Wednesday, 09/22/04 01:00:23 EDT

Magnetic Parts: Hard steel parts magnetize easily. Often drills and cutter bits magnetize from friction. Soft low carbon steel is difficult too magnetize and should not stay magnetic for long.

Often steel parts get magnetized by handling with big electro magnets. . . a royal pain. The equipment to demagnetize is similar in size. . .

I would demagnetize the dies (many machine shops have demagnetizers) and let it go at that.

The last time I uised our demagnetizer it was to bulk erase a DAT tape for my old PC. They stopped making tapes with the proper format but still made tapes in the same form factor. So I bought a couple and put them on the demagnetizer for a few seconds. 5 seconds made them quite warm to the touch so I figured that was MORE than enough. . . . worked. Of course now I have all these tapes that don't work on any other PC. . so what good were they as back ups?
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 01:01:23 EDT

Weighing in on gloves:-)

I have some very nice kevlar heatresistant gloves and sleaves that are very nice for protecting you from incidental burns and you can even (do stupid stuff like) grab 900 degree steel and toss it back up on the anvil:-) Not wise but I have done it with the kevlar gloves. For power hammer work they are great!

BUT I have abused my hands (wrists, elbows, tendons, knees, back...:-) and find that wearing any glove, but especially the thick kevlar gloves, fatigues my hammer hand a great deal, NOT a good thing. I have also noticed a bit more fatigue in my tong hand, but will continue to wear the glove and sleave on my tong hand, because I really don't like scale burns any more:-)

I am a farrier and I work in gloves a good part of the day, but I almost always take them off to use a hammer, the one exception to that is I cut clenches with my gloves on, but driving nails, and shaping shoes the hammer hand is bare.

Gloves are like any other safety equipment, you use what you can use safely, and you protect what you want to keep. Carpal Tunnel and tendonitis are NOT fun, and are caused by repetitive stress, vibration, and impact, especially with your wrist in a non-neutral position. Fatigue and feeling like you have to grip the hammer too tightly through the glove to hold on to the hammer, only excerbates the situation. Good technique is essential to avoiding these problems. Sometimes not wearin the gloves is 'safer' in the long run.

Bottomline is wear them when YOU need them. When they get in the way of doing a good job, or they cause problems, ditch them. They cease to be "safety" equipment when they percipitate an unsafe situation, or cause lingering health problems.

Safety is courtesy:-)
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 09/22/04 01:07:58 EDT

"Normally a triple wall pipe is required by the building codes..."

I just checked a local hardware/lumber center and the only multi wall pipe I could find was either the "metalbestos" type double wall with the kaowool (or whatever) filling, or a double wall made for propane furnaces (only 6" ID). Time to check with the heating installers for a couple things.
Our local building codes may not be as stringent as yours as we're in extremely rural northern Minnesota.

Forge: I was going to make a brake drum forge, but my uncle mentioned a cast iron sink in his junk pile. it appears (by his suggestion) that someone may have been melting babbit in it, since the enamel has all pooled in the bottom, leaving bare iron sides. If it doesn't work out, I'll go to a brake drum or old implement wheel.
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 09/22/04 01:45:40 EDT

Gloves: For hammering I really think it's a matter of opinion. Me personally, I don't wear gloves most of the time since I can grip better without them usually, but once I've been at it for a while and I'm getting a bit tired, wearing gloves seems to actually make me do alot better, I can go a little longer without getting sloppy on the hammer and needing to stop for the day.

Spinning power tools on the other hand are completely different, never wear gloves with those. While gloves might save you from a scuff from a power tool, they can also get sucked in and end up crushing all the bones in your hand when without the gloves your hand would never have gotten caught to begin with.
   AwP - Wednesday, 09/22/04 01:54:13 EDT

Oh man, I just found out today that my uncle (less than a mile away) has a Hay-Budden anvil, I'm guessing in the area of 150-250 pounds. As soon as I mentioned the anvil, he said (with a grin) I'm not getting it :P
I suppose if he decides to get rid of it he'll let me make an offer before anyone else. I'll just have to keep occasional subtle pressure on him about it ;)
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 09/22/04 02:01:36 EDT

I guess that last might have been posted in the hammer-in instead, oh well.

Roller Chain Damascus: I just got an oily chain from my uncle's scrap pile on the farm but I don't have a parts washer. What is the easiest way to clean chain well enough to start forging with it? For a cheap wash, can I soak it in isopropyl to dissolve most of the oil (I've seen iso used to clean off greasy engine output shafts).
It'll be a while before I can start playing with this aspect and I'll leave it oily until I'm almost ready to try. Before I try it, I'll have to do some other forge welding to get the technique down.
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 09/22/04 02:40:30 EDT

Elliott, This is NOT a starter project. Try some plain forge welds first and then maybe some cable Damascus. Meanwhile the oil will be dripping off. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 03:01:44 EDT

Yes, I realize that. It's the reason I'm not going to clean the chain right away. I just happened to find the chain when grabbing other scraps to play with.
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 09/22/04 03:12:54 EDT

Go for it,,,but if the sink did indeed have babbitt in it, skip that one. Lead vapor is to be avoided.
That hey-buddy anvil is probably not the learner anvil of choice....beat something else up till yer unk comes to his senses
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 09/22/04 03:52:02 EDT

It has recentley come to my attention that the coal mined from my village was world famous because of its lack of sulphur.I was wondering if you could confirm this for me and if its a good coal to use as they were rather untidy in cleanig up after them and theres a good suplly of coal left.The name of the village is Llangennech and the most famous mine was named Morlais which closed down in the 80's.I live on the other side of the world,south west wales in the uk,so this is the ultamite test to see how famous this coal realy was.
   Andrew - Wednesday, 09/22/04 07:27:21 EDT

Sarah: I guess you could, but when you hot-shoe a horse you don't nail on the shoe while it's still hot. You use the hot shoe to burn the hoof into a perfect fit, then you cool the shoe, then you nail it on.

Ries: well said. I need to get another kevlar glove, they are remarkably helpful and a mouse ate my last two.

Andrew: I don't know about the coal, but Wales exported coal miners in large numbers! One of them was my Great-grandfather, who used his skills to mine coal here in the US until he realized he could do other things that didn't involve being underground all day.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 09/22/04 08:30:00 EDT

Roller Chain, Do not strip the oil until you are ready to use it. Most will burn off but rust will not and it makes it nearly impossible to get a weld in something complicated.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 08:39:58 EDT


I think an old cast iron sink would make too deep a coal forge, and be too difficult to get your work into the sweet spot of the fire.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/22/04 09:05:00 EDT

Travel: Paw-paw and I are off to SOFA Quadstate to make Thomas jealous of all those "deals" he is missing! Look for the new edition of the NEWS in a few days. Will be posting from Troy, OH!
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 09:05:58 EDT

Welsh Coal: Andrew, it may have been very good coal but I doubt any was exported to the US. Prior to using coal here we used charcoal for over 100 years after England had converted to coal for steel production. When the change came in the mid 1800's England was using coal as fast as they could dig it out of the ground. The US had already found that it had vast coal reserves and in fact we still export huge amounts. Currently it is easier to find US coal in Japan and Europe than here at home. . .

The BEST way to find out how good it is for smithing is to use it in a forge. A smith can generaly tell more about coal in an hour than a scientist with a gaggle of assistants can determine in a week of laboratory testing. Everything from BTU to ash consistancey and sulfur content is revealed to the smith with any experiance with coal by the way it smells, burns, how much air it takes and the clinker it leaves behind.

VIc! Aren't you supposed to be on an airplane????
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 09:16:27 EDT


Yes, for tong hand. Sometimes for the other hand. If slipping is a problem, you can lightly dress the palm and fingers of the hammer glove with no-slip belt dressing sold for automotive fan belts. Like the old Brylcreme ads said, "A little dab will do ya." A bit of dirt rubbed on will tone it down if it is too aggressive.


We used to make our own degaussing coils when I was doing TV service work. I would imagine the instructions for making them are available somewhere on the 'net, or you could tear apart an old computer monitor and see how one is made. Might take a mile or two of wire though, to make one big enough to degauss an whole powerhammer. What about removing the dies and having the local machine shop de-mag them? Most shops that use magnetic chucks also have demagnetizers.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/22/04 09:22:44 EDT

Nope, I don't fly out until tomorrow morning. Get into Columbus at some ungodly hour tomorrow night and then drive to Troy. I'll see you Friday.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/22/04 09:34:24 EDT

the fofge I use I converted from a cast potbelly bbq.I tried the coal on an odinary coal fire and it melted the grate so im not goin to try it until I can pick up a firebrick one at a bootsale(being 17 and a student i cant afford a new one)But before I continue I need to know if its to hot because I havnt masterd geting the right temperature yet.

ALUN-L:what part of wales was your great-grandfather from?
   - Andrew - Wednesday, 09/22/04 09:43:36 EDT

Beloved Gurus, a question on the markings on rebar if I may. I am told that the marks mean things like size (in eights) and hardness/tensil strengt etc, but can find no key to the code. Can you point me to a reference that my local library might have so I can crack the code?
The code seems to start with a letter (M, N, S, C) then a number or letter (29,6, 5 (or is it an S), 3), the letters numbers or small circles and dots.
Also, is there any significance to the 'spiral' sloped pattern verses the straight patters (of raised bits).
Thanks in advance.
   - Tim in Orygun - Wednesday, 09/22/04 10:37:31 EDT

Most smiths with access to free coal figure a way to use it---they may not use it for fine work like blades or forge welding; but for basic "heat and beat" they will figure it out. Shoot some folks actually smith with anthracite!

Now for the counter view: some folks spend dollars of time and effort trying to save pennies. Using good coal quickly spoils you and when you meet up with inferior coal you wonder how you could ever stand to use it!

Guru, "Live from Quad-State"---you really know how to rub it in! *But* I considered myself lucky just to find a couple of deals there---most folks know the worth of their stuff pretty well. It was the odd fringe stuff I usually lucked out on. Picking up the odd postvise for $20 (complete) at a junkstore on the way is more likely...What Quad-State excels at is the *range* of stuff there---though to people in "rust poor regions" the prices do seem pretty good and you save on shipping.

My first forge was built from a shallow rectangular cast iron farm "dry" sink. By the time I put in the pipe to act as tuyere and monuded up creek clay in a shallow V shape it was quite shallow enough to use as a forge.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/22/04 11:05:13 EDT

Rebar Markings: Tim, I may be wrong but I have never seen reference to a standard marking. I do not think there is an industry standard. The ASTM standard I have seen only specifies the strength of the material and testing methods. I would suspect that every manufacturer has their own marking method and in this day and age they probably have a method of marking lot numbers.

The patterns on re-bar are a very archane art, like the methods of making barbed wire. A collection would include the patterns from every steel mill that made rebar as well as their changes over time. The bumps are machined into the rolls and as machinery and cutter bits have changed the character of the bumps has changed. Were in the 1950's and earlier HSS milling cutters were used today replacable insert carbide toolin is used. The difference? Sharp corners and round corners. . .

Much early rebar was square and twisted to give it grip. this was also during the era when there were no standards and re-bar was often rolled from scrap or ingot ends with piping.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 11:06:20 EDT

Dear Guru:First of all ¡Congratulations! this is one of the best web pages tha I had seen ,it´s really lovely...
Now my question: I want to get information about how to build electric welding devices (arc welding,of course). Can you help me? Best regards
   Alfred - Wednesday, 09/22/04 11:11:56 EDT

More Imported Goods: Every day I receive an e-mail from some company in India or China offering goods. Recently the offers have included wrought iron lamps and brass "craft" items. The wrought stuff is still pretty bad with lots of arc welding and grinding but they are getting MUCH better.

I offer this as a warning to those of you that are in the business or want to be. As a US manufacturer the ONLY advantage you will have is efficiency and quality. If you produce mediocre work the imports are going to kill you.
The advantage we currently have in efficiency is the availability of new and used machinery and easy to obtain materials. This may not last but at this time North America is the easiset place on the planet to obtain anything and everything quickly and efficiently. Work smart, apply the best tools and produce QUALITY work. It is our last nitch.

I'm off to Ohio!
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 11:14:41 EDT


I would suggest that you check into the publications sold by Lindsay Books. They have a web presence where you can order their catalogue. http://www.lindsaybooks.com I seem to remember seeing something in their catalogue about building an arc welder.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/22/04 11:30:36 EDT

Welders: Alfred, I do not have time for a long post. But here is the way I would do it. I would start by obtaining old junk welders (ask any welding supplier, they usualy have trade ins or repair pieces that didn't work out). Machine shops and welders often have old dead machines. As I reverse engineered the hardware I would obtain books on Electrical Engineering, particularly transformer design and study them. There MAY be some references specificaly on welders but the important stuff is most likely proprietary stuff.

You will need some electronics tools, a good VOM and possibly an occiloscope if you get into the high frequency or DC control.

The simplest arc welder is just a transformer. 10 windings on one side of the armature and 100 on the other and you have 10:1 reduction in voltage and a 10:1 increase in amperage. The side with the fewer windings must use heavier wire. In welders they often use special rectangular wire for the output.

Range control is by two methods, taps and sliding core. Taps are just wiring connections in the winding at every so many turns. Each has a different voltage and amperage. A sliding core moves the armture in the coils varying the voltage. These tend to make noisier welders due to vibration of the core which necessisarily has some clearance to move.

Then there are motor/generator welders and all the new high tech stuff with lots of capacitors for arc stabilazation, high frequency devices. DC welders use big power diodes on heat sinks OR use DC generators. Some TIG welders uses coils and an arc to create a high frequency.

Transformer cores are made from special very low carbon steel. The reason is that the higher the carbon and the harder the steel the more of a permanent magnet it can become. So you want a magnetic material that does NOT magnetize. If the core were to become magnetized it would have a polarity that would be oposite the winding and result in higher heat and resistance.

A very important feature of a transformer welder is to be sure that shorts in the high volatge primary do not occur. These lead to high voltage going to the leads were the welder expects a nice safe low voltage. Most welder electrocutions are the result of a short in the primary.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 11:35:44 EDT

OBTW - repairing an old welder will be MUCH cheaper than building one. If you can sort out the problem and fix it you may have learned more than trying to build one from scratch.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/04 11:38:06 EDT

There are very crude arc welders out there, my grandfather told me of one he saw in Costa Rica that was basically a bucket of salt water with a couple of movasble connectors sitiing in it. It sounded like a prepaid ticket to your own electrocution to me! Liability on something like that would range from *EXTREME* on up.

Can you share with us *why* you want to build one?

OTOH I bought an old Lincoln Tombstone in working condition for $40---with leads, stinger, etc. I don't think I could have bought the piece parts just for the leads and stinger for that much if I wanted to build one and if it does go belly up I know where to go get help for it. It's already paid for itself many times over building stakes for armouring and smithing. Now to get power to it in the new shop.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/22/04 13:33:14 EDT

Andrew: I haven't a clue. I'll try to find out, but his last name was Coker. I know that's kind of like "Jones", but that's what I've got.

There's no such thing as TOO hot, unless, as you say, you melt your firepot...

Control of the heat is the key, and that comes through control of the air supply. No air = no heat, and so on.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 09/22/04 14:28:17 EDT

Alan "There's no such thing as TOO hot, unless, as you say, you melt your firepot"

I recall a smith who shall remain nameless (Hi Patrick) whose new propane forge *melted* the billet he was working on. I got to peer into it and see the puddle...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/22/04 15:10:30 EDT

Build your own arc welder from microwave transformers


This is a neat design in that it uses solid state devices to control the current. So continuous control and no moving parts. I would further replace the relays in his circuits with solid state devices
   adam - Wednesday, 09/22/04 16:00:44 EDT

What states are you visiting Thomas?
   - NewSmith - Wednesday, 09/22/04 18:56:33 EDT

My son is producing figures out of modeling clay (common store variety - soft, generally nonhardening. We are trying to figure out how these can be turned into bronze casted figures and by what series of steps.

We have no experience in this area. I have done some simple
jewerly casting in silver.

We live in S. California.

Any contacts or suggestions?

   Marc Mckay - Wednesday, 09/22/04 19:34:05 EDT

My son is producing figures out of modeling clay (common store variety - soft, generally nonhardening. We are trying to figure out how these can be turned into bronze casted figures and by what series of steps.

We have no experience in this area. I have done some simple
jewerly casting in silver.

We live in S. California.

Any contacts or suggestions?

   Marc Mckay - Wednesday, 09/22/04 19:35:22 EDT

Thomas P: The forge wasn't too hot, Patrick just wasn't paying attention!
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 09/22/04 19:39:49 EDT

Ifn you mean me, I'm pretty much sitting still here in NM trying to get my shop together. I may be making a trip in December but it's to Europe for a business meeting.

Alan-L if you are at Quad-State and you see a tall broadshouldered smith in his twenties, ask him if his name is patrick and then tell him that---he'll laugh---most likely and if not his wife is a vet and can sew you up primo! Right Patrick?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/22/04 20:28:06 EDT

Oh, I thought you were going quad-state.
   - NewSmith - Wednesday, 09/22/04 20:39:54 EDT

Howdy to every one out there. I was just curious if anybody has made a lamp out of twisted angle iron. I got the idea from a blacksmith who showed me what a piece of twisted angle iron looks like. It works(and looks) really good, and even has a hollow center for your cord. All you have to do is weld a piece of pipe into one end for for switch and socket and flatten any exess angle iron and cut out three legs. There are a lot of ways to get fancy with this too. Just thought I would share what i know, but i wont be surprised if this has been done a lot already. Im just curios. well, thats all.
Oh, and i've been given the nickname "Blueboy" by a local blacksmith and friend on account of all my 4-H blacksmithing projects that ive taken to fairs, and a demo, have gotten blues.
Well, thats all for now, gotta get started on that homework...:(
   Ian "Blueboy" Wille - Wednesday, 09/22/04 20:45:56 EDT

Scrounging in the CN RR scrap bin (with permission), I found what appears to be drill bits. These aren't twisted bits, they're straight/flat (like spade bits) and appear to be sized to drill the rail for 1-1/4" bolts. Does anyone have a guess what kind of steel these might be and what it is or isn't good for (knives, punches, chisels, etc.)? When struck, they have a nice ring (wind chimes?).
   Elliott Olson - Thursday, 09/23/04 00:25:02 EDT

cast sink forge: if I line it with fire brick, that would make it shallower. Would there still be a concern about lead (if any) with the brick? I haven't noticed any lead yet, just glass (enamel). Maybe it was just in a fire rather than melting babbit (was just my uncles thought).
   Elliott Olson - Thursday, 09/23/04 00:41:42 EDT

...I can switch to a tire rim otherwise.
   Elliott Olson - Thursday, 09/23/04 00:42:22 EDT

Hi again Elliot:
If there's a clay bank around where you live, you can just line your forge with that in the optimum shape. Mix in a bunch of sand and let it dry well. Fire it up very slowly the first time.
Pretty good chance those drill bits would make very good hot work tools, like a hardy cut off tool for your anvil and hot cut chisels....and , as you say, punches. Forge, normalize and test for hardness with a file. If the file skates, temper it. If soft, harden ( oil quench) and temper right away.
Sounds like you are lucking out from the get go!
Just take the clay figures to an art foundry...they'll do the rest. Casting any volume of metal requires a lot of committment, time , effort and generally ain't cheap.
Blueboy; I think Mr Hoffman is the guy who has done the most with angle iron. Several parallel pieces with iron rods twisted together yields a good effect. There are so many possibilities that no one has even thought of yet that they could keep a guy amused the rest of his life and never repeat a one of them.
Support Anvilfire, Join the CSI or hair will grow out of your nose when you get old.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 09/23/04 03:53:58 EDT

Marc Mckay: It might be easier if he made the models from wax, then you can just use an investment of plaster and sand and burn the wax out. To use clay, depending on how complex the item is you might be able to cast in sand, but multiple piece molds are more likey, and sound much more difficult to do well then the lost wax method in my opinion.
   AwP - Thursday, 09/23/04 04:00:15 EDT

ALUN-L:what would be the best bellows for me to use?At the moment im using two airbed pumps straped together

GURU:about two miles from my village theres an old open cast quarry which has an abundance of fireclay.if i lined my forge with this,would it work the same as firebrick?
   Andrew - Thursday, 09/23/04 04:28:40 EDT

If you have a couple hundred bucks to spend on materials and want to go old timey build a double lung bellows. Check out my pics in the user gallery.
   Shack - Thursday, 09/23/04 09:06:53 EDT

Or you could go the scrounger way and be like Thomas P would. For wood you could see if there are any older houses being remodeled near you and see if they are throwing out any thing. For the leather, go to every Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and Good Will store you can and see if you can find old leather sofas or couches. The back panel should be large enough to make a reasonable size bellows. Find two and you can use one for each chamber. Just make sure they are genuine leather. Having smelled it before, the thought smoking naugahide or any other “pleather” makes me queasy.
   Shack - Thursday, 09/23/04 09:32:47 EDT

Dear Guru,
I am starting Blacksmithing, and I am getting my first anvil. I will build a concrete-filled wooden stand (a copy from one seen at the Blacksmith Journal. Since I have a multifuntion studio, I need to be able to move the anvil around. I wonder if you have any idea, information or plan that you can share with me.
Thank you
Alfredo Alamo
   Alfredo Alamo - Thursday, 09/23/04 10:38:51 EDT

My double lunged bellows used scrap canvas got free from a tarp shop that made wind tarps for oil rigs. It was heavily treated and worked well as the "leathers" for a bellows. I have a small single action bellows that uses naugahide and it works well too. Sparks do pierce it pretty easily though.

Casting: they will probably cast your positive in a rubber mix and then cast waxes from that for the final casts---allows you to make more than 1 too.

Babbit casts a lot cooler than enamel melts; I'd say a fire myself.

The drillbits might be a HSS in which case they may be hard to forge. Some HSS alloys will cottage cheese on you at higher forging temps and work real hard at lower forging temps.

Wish I was going to Quad-State; first one I've missed since I had to do an emergency installation in Indonesia back in '95.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/23/04 10:59:12 EDT

Andrew, I like the doubled airbed pumps myself! Nice and low-tech, if labor-intensive. I started out with a hand-crank forge blower made for the purpose, but an old hair dryer with the heating element removed can work well too. Just don't melt it!

Fireclay is as good or better than brick for lining a forge, just be sure to let it dry a bit before you fire it up.

Firepot depth: For coal, four inches below the work is good. Ralph can tell you more about charcoal, but it needs to be deeper. One thing you don't want to do is stick your iron down into the fire. The work should lay across the firepot with burning coke (coal after you've cooked the tar out of it) under it and on top. If you stick the iron down into the pot close to the air blast, it will scale more heavily and may burn.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 09/23/04 11:16:37 EDT

oversized drifts: Yes, in principle it is possible for the hot steel to move in such a way that the hole dia actually shrinks or stays constant as the temp increses. However practical experience with punching holes shows that in this case the hole dia does indeed shrink. I think that in cases where the hole is small compared to the metal surface being punched, the whole thing pretty much scales linearly. If the hole is large relative to the piece then it might work differently especially if the outer boundary is cooling fast.
   adam - Thursday, 09/23/04 11:35:24 EDT

oops: this sentence is ambigious , I meant "...practical experience with punching holes shows that in this case the hole dia does indeed shrink WHEN COOLING."

First proof THEN post
First pillage THEN burn

oh well...
   adam - Thursday, 09/23/04 11:39:04 EDT

That was the old science demo: the ring and the ball that won't fit through it. Heat it and it fits.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/23/04 16:12:05 EDT

I was wondering if anyone here has dealt with the liability concerns of making light fixtures. Any warnings or advice would be greatly appreciated.

   Chris S - Thursday, 09/23/04 16:14:22 EDT

Can anyone tell me why this 55# steel anvil is going so cheap on eBay? #4323474104
   - NewSmith - Thursday, 09/23/04 17:32:44 EDT

Science --

Thomas, I assume you mean heat the ring(?)
   Mike B - Thursday, 09/23/04 19:28:55 EDT

I just purchased a small shop which is fully stocked with metal working tools. One of these tools consist of the drill press on your web site. There is also a large metal lathe which is dated 1906. Both tools work and I am interested in selling both of these with amny numerous dyes, taps tools to numerous to mention, If you could help please guide me in the right direction. Thanks Dan Haydel
   - Dan Haydel - Thursday, 09/23/04 19:59:07 EDT

ebay 4323474104
New smith, it's going so chep because it's a peice of garbage. (please note the intentional misspelling of "garbage" I know it's only four letters long and starts with an s)
Look around this site a bit, there is a bunch in the archives not long ago, and in other places here talking about ebay, anvils and fraud
   JimG - Thursday, 09/23/04 20:03:19 EDT

Can anyone tell me why this 55# steel anvil is going so cheap on eBay? #4323474104
1. It may not really weigh 55 lbs.
2. It may not really be cast steel.
3. The seller may not really have any to sell.
4. It is EBAY! Normal rules of the universe do not apply! Your results may vary. So save yourself the freight charges by taking $35 out to your front lawn, toss it into the air. You may now wait for your cast steel anvil to be delivered. Sorry, I don't have much faith in eBay anymore.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 09/23/04 20:18:58 EDT

I'm back. Good work but exhausting up at Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site near Boston.

On gloves: I wear them, both hands, all the time. The exceptions, as mentioned above, is fixed power machinery, such as drill presses, grinders, or lathes. Also, I take them off for the History Channel segments when they're filming. I do wear safety glasses any time my face is off-camera, and sometimes when I'm in the shot; depending on the operation. At least everything is controlled, and you can take your time and concentrate. Otherwise, I believe in armor- gloves, glasses, hearing protection, dust kerchief... anything for defense against the randomness of the world.

While I was up in Boston I went to the Lord of the Rings exhibit at the Museum of Science. To my pleasure, they had a docent explaining "the secret of steel" with the production, carbon content, and tempering all demonstrated. It was tied in with the swords, so it worked rather well.

Wonderful armor, weapons, costume, props, models, digital effects, explanations, forced perspective... Well worth the visit.

Cool but humid on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 09/23/04 22:34:19 EDT

SOFA: We got in too late this evening to have photos to post. Will have some tomarrow. Already saw lots of anvils, vises, swage blocks, blowers, . . . you name it.

Lee Liles of the Horseshoeing Tools Museum is here as well as many others. I got to run John Larson's hammer to draw out a piece. Had good control even though it was on a trailer that bounced up and down an inch with every blow. Needs better dies. . . He has a power module for anyone that wants to build his own hammer.

Ebay Anvil: As noted by others it would seem that every word of the description is not true. This is one of those VERY cheap, bad copies of the Russian.
   - guru - Friday, 09/24/04 00:03:42 EDT

Lighting Fixtures: To be legal under most situations an electrical lighting fizture that is permanently part of a house (in the US) must be UL approved. For custom fixtures this requires a manufacturers UL number. I do not know the particulars.

For non attached fixtures the rules are different. There is nothing to stop a homeowner from using non-approved items. However, insurance companies have their own ideas about things...

As a "manufacturer" you do not need to be a licensed electrician. This rule assumes manufacturers have electrical and manufacturing engineers checking their work as well as UL testing. But there is nothing to say YOU the individual can't be the manufacturer.

Libility issues in the US are that if someone is injured or there is property damage then you are likely to be sued and lose everthing. As a manufacturer you can get libility insurance but if you make and sell something today and drop your insurance next year and are sued then it is as if you never had insurance.

Modern life. . .
   - guru - Friday, 09/24/04 00:31:03 EDT

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