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

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

This is an archive of posts from September 1 - 7, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Hello there! I am an engineer from hongkong and just want to ask if you guys can help me. The scenario is that a steel silo is to be supported by steel I beams. However, there are some errors in the site measurements so that the I beams have to be notched. A flame cutting was employed and now we are worried that the silo had been affected by the high temperature from the flame cutting. My question is, what will be the effect to the nearby silo area (near the flame)if any. Thank you very much.
   bennet - Friday, 09/01/06 04:32:35 EDT

Frank, got it,

Translation for the non English speakers.

Cold treacle = cold molasses (I think), or cold honey. It will flow if you wait long enough. I wont even try to describe it in terms of jam / jelly / jello(?) (Who says we have a common language) :)


2.5 if its too high you can always add ash (or something), if its too low you might end up chiselling. Saying that, my virgin forge is about 1.5.

If your dirt is sandy try a small blown fire in a hole and see what happens, other options may be: ash (ask everyone, and damp down the surface when first placed); coal fines; kitty litter (nice one TP). As you work the forge you will generate ash and eventually you will need to dump a shovel or two (coal shovel = pint?) before you light up. think loose and granular (like sand but not!?!?)

Try a couple of bricks (normal or fire) to contain bonfire ash to start with??
   - Nigel - Friday, 09/01/06 05:10:37 EDT

Bennet, first of all, I suggest you consult with a local consulting metallurgical engineer for a thorough analysis. The flame cutting can soften the steel I beams and the notches can significanly weaken the structure. Depending on the chemistry of the beams, the flame cutting can actually create a thin skin of very hard metal that can crack under loads. Hong Kong, we have a problem.....
   quenchcrack - Friday, 09/01/06 07:55:38 EDT

Mail coming to you
   TravisC - Friday, 09/01/06 09:17:31 EDT

Drilled Swages: Thumper, first see iForge demo #133 spring swages. You would use a shim only if you were making a clamp to hold round stock.

There are three aspects to dressing swages.

1) Edges for swages that dress only.
2) Sides to swages that reduce and size stock.
3) Ends for cross section changes.

IF you are going to hand or power hammer reduce a tennon shape to near round then need a dies to dress from octogon or octogon with broken edges the dies are exact half rounds with the edges radiused slightly. One end should have a radius for the shoulder.

If you are forging a reduced section then the sides of the swage need to be opened up to about two diameters with the bottom and top 90° the correct radius. When used the excess material is not pinched creating cold shuts. By rotating the work you will get a perfectly sized round. The leading end should have a shoulder radius. Remember, sharp inside corners are bad forging practice.

If you are making a significant change in cross section of long lengths of stock the lead in of a die needs to be a significant taper.
   - guru - Friday, 09/01/06 09:56:53 EDT

Cheap kitty litter is pretty much a standard for the neo-tribal set making adobe forges in washtubs---and very nice ones indeed!

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/01/06 11:12:02 EDT

Hong Kong Silo: Bennet, Note quenchcrack's comments above. He is a practicing metalurgist.

You did not give nearly enough information for a considered response.

In a tall structure with parallel beams a cut or notch near the bottom of the structure will be under high stress at times and may be a problem. The same cut or notch at the top of the structure may not be an issue.

Beams are often flame cut. When fine flame cut by machine it is usualy not a problem. But when cut by hand the cuts should be cleaned up to smooth straight edges. Notches often require a fitted flange the shape of the notch.

In the US all steel structures are approved by a civil engineer. Any modifications of structural steel must be re-approved by the same engineer or the entire structure re-approved by another engineer.

   - guru - Friday, 09/01/06 13:51:20 EDT

Thank you Ron :-), I have 1 exam next week, after it I will try making shield
   - Hammer - Friday, 09/01/06 16:40:14 EDT

hi. how could I scroll 12 mm bar without professional equipment?.thanks
   waldemar - Friday, 09/01/06 17:03:10 EDT

waldemar; what equipment do you have? Do you want to work hot or cold?

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/01/06 17:29:34 EDT

If my Google search got the same hits as Miles', the online Diderot is only available throught educational and research institutions. But I have did find that my local public library has subscriptions to what look like some very useful online databases. The best part is I can access them just by going to the library's website and punching in my card number. I'm either blessed or cursed to live in a relatively affluent and very urban county, but check out what's available where you live -- it could be very handy.
   Mike B - Friday, 09/01/06 17:39:15 EDT

could you send pleae send a picture of a tuyere. We need help in identifing an object.
Thank you Tellurid Historical Museum
   Loren - Friday, 09/01/06 17:42:02 EDT

I'm a cabinet maker who with a little knowledge of blacksmithing.I have a set of cabinets which we I will be building soon and the customer wants to put different kind of colored and tarnished iron in and on it.I'm looking for advice on serveral ways of finishing the iron or a book I could buy.Or a web site where I could buy the chemicals.
   Dave Jensen - Friday, 09/01/06 18:27:23 EDT

i need the name of a good site to buy atmosphiric burners, and durablanket or kaowool!
   - Erik - Friday, 09/01/06 18:45:59 EDT

also a site that sells good hammers and tongs!
   - Erik - Friday, 09/01/06 18:46:27 EDT

Dave- SurFin chemicals sells a bunch of premixed patinas and coloring chemicals for steel and other metals, in small bottles.
For these coatings to work well, you would need to have your hardware sandblasted first.
Or, you could use something like the Sculpt-Noveau finishes, which are metallic dye/ wax finishes that come in a wide variety of colors. www.sculptnoveau.com
   - ries - Friday, 09/01/06 18:46:41 EDT

I tried to by some ITC100 and ITC200 from the store this afternoon and my order was DECLINED. What's up with that?
   goodhors - Friday, 09/01/06 22:06:02 EDT

Loren, there are a number of different types of tuyres so "a" picture will not do you a lot of good.

Can you describe it well enough that we could concentrate on the ones closest to it? Or post a picture over at the forgemagic.com site so we can see it?
   Thomas P - Friday, 09/01/06 22:42:55 EDT

Erik: For burners check out WWW.hybridburners.com I havn't seen any of these, but they are supposed to be better than the homebuilts made of pipe fittings. Most of us made our own, the plans on this site work pretty well, but read and study all the Ron Reil pages before You begin.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 09/01/06 22:46:34 EDT

What is the best steel to use for forging a 3 pound everyday forging hammerhead with? I have some 4140 around but am not sure if it will hold up over the long haul. Thanks- Matt
   Matt - Friday, 09/01/06 22:52:27 EDT

Tuyers-- Seems to me I recall seeing a slew of water-jacketed tuyers fresh out of the molds depicted on Bruce Wilcox's website but when I tried to check, it seems not to be working. ??????
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 09/01/06 23:31:12 EDT

Erik: Ceramic wool blanket (e.g., brands like Kaowool) is offered in the Anvilfire STORE (use the NAVIGATE anvilfire) box) and on eBay. On the NAVIGATE bar also scroll down to the list of advertisers for tools. Most carry new tools and equipment. Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools carries shopmade or used.

Dave Boyer: I checked out the hybridburners site. A bit pricey. For the cost of one of their T-Rex burners I can offer a complete double burner forge.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 09/02/06 06:43:25 EDT

Hammers, Steel: Typically hammers are made of SAE 1050. SAE 4140 is also good, tougher and hardens deeper.

   - guru - Saturday, 09/02/06 08:01:31 EDT

Finishes: If you want it to last and not cause problems later paint of various types is best. Chemical finishes will need to be sealed with a good clear lacquer after neutralizing the chemicals.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/02/06 08:03:32 EDT

Side Blast Forges:

I'm sort of a tail-end Charley here. I've been tied up at work with reports, getting ready to go to "Frostbite Falls" Minnesota ( www.nps.gov/voya ) and battening down for the tropical storm on the farm.

We have had similar experiences with our little Viking-style "field forge" ( Photo by Matthew Amt:
http://www.larp.com/midgard/02h24.jpg ). This view shows it with the fire "broken" and the coals scooped-out a bit. We tend to scoop out about an inch of dirt below and in front of the base of the stone, which puts the opening up about three inches. In use we heap the charcoal up to about the top of the stone, and the heart of the fire ends up about three inches in front of the tuyere. We can reach a welding heat, but usually at a great expenditure of charcoal. Then again, this is our field forge, and it's made more for display than for production.

Fun with Weather:

Ernesto visited yesterday and last night. Blew the cap off the forge smokestack and the latch off of one of the barn doors. I propped the door shut, and I'll go looking for the cap today. Most of the yard is flooded, we've got some tidal flooding at the landing, and several trees are down. I guess I'll have to use the new chainsaw (yes, we ended up getting a 20" Stihl; thanks for the advice some months back). :-) Some of the crew checked the ship yesterday, I'll swing by today after we cut our way out.

Soggy but getting brighter on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks (site has been "improved"): www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 09/02/06 08:53:11 EDT

Bruce Blackisstone Alti
I very much like the field forge. I was wondering what you used for an anvil setup. I found it. I figure other folks may enjoy looking at the setup as well. 02h26.jpg What fella is you? Thanks for the photos.
   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 09/02/06 09:14:18 EDT

I'm trying to start my own shop, but am having trouble finding equipment or, the big one, people to watch and learn from. I live in Clinton Tennessee. Is their anybody around here that is willing to be a teacher??
   steve - Saturday, 09/02/06 16:04:35 EDT

Steve, how old are you? I live in Dyersburg and would be willing to pound some iron with you once in a while but I am not a baby sitter. I cannot teach you how to set up a good metal shop, though because I don't have one either! Email me if you are interested.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 09/02/06 16:08:11 EDT

Trouble Finding Equipment: Good tools have always had a price, either in time and effort or money. Our advertisers comprise all the major sellers of blacksmiths tools. More NEW tools are available today than any time in history. Ebay has sufficient tools to set a dozen blacksmith shops on any given day. So, unless you are so new that you haven't looked then you are looking for free tools.

Like the preverbial "free lunch" there are no free tools. They either take time and effort to find or make or money to buy. While it is not unusual to have tools given to you "for free" they are usualy not truely free. You must tell every friend, relative, aquaintence, distant cousin and widowed aunt that you are interested in blacksmithing and looking for tools. Specificaly. . ?? Anvils, forges, tongs, hammers, punches and chisles.

To buy used tools cheap you must scour the local antique and junk shops, machine shops and scrap dealers. Go to every farm and estate auction. You must tell people what you are looking for and that you are willing to buy. You can run "wanted to buy" ads in the local paper and free trader.

Many times the differnce between NEW and cheap is very little if you count the years of time looking. Some of us are "finders" and some are not. Being a finder is a skill that requires and inate sense of where things hide, what one small corner of a forge, anvil or power hammer looks like at 100 yards, how to talk to people and how to negotiate. For most of us it is well worth it to pay a finder $2/lb for an anvil they paid $0.25/lb for. You are still well ahead of NEW and have perhaps a better tool.

A lot of blacksmithing equipment can be made, especially forges. Collecting a little junk is usualy required and few tools. But you MUST have some tools. The basics expected of ANYONE for a DIY project:

Brace and bits OR a 1/4" electric drill and bits.
Hack saw and a couple spare blades.
8-10" half round bastard file.
Hammer, any kind other than a toy.
Cold Chisel and maybe a center punch
Screw drivers (plain and Phillips).
Adjustable "Crescent" wrench
Common pliers

OPTIONAL I (better equiped)

(all the above +)
Work Bench
Reciprocating (Sabre) saw with wood and metal cutting blades.
Drill bits in index up to 1/2" in 32nds.
Set of common sized combination wrenches
Set of hex key "Allen" wrenches.
Bench Vise

OPTIONAL II (equiped well)

(all the above +)
Bench Grinder
Angle grinder (4.5" OR 7"
Circular "Skill" saw (for wood).
Drill bits in index up to 1/2" in 64ths.
Socket set(s) and rachet(s) to complement wrench set.
Pipe wrench
Slip Joint "Channel Lock" pliers
Punch and drift set.

These are common household tools in many North American homes. If you do not have the minimal tools then you need to backup on the blacksmithing tools. All the tools in the first part of the list and most of Option I tools are necessary to a blacksmith shop.

Starting with these tools you can build a forge, an anvil stand, work bench, grinder . . . from junk and scavanged materials with or without a few dollars worth of stock hardware.

It also helps to know how to make tools. Early tools were mostly wood and not difficult to make if you have some hard wood (old pallets), a few basic wood working tools AND the knowledge of these tools. I highly recommend "A Museum of Early American Tools" by Eric Sloane, "The Woodwrights Shop" by Roy Underhill and "The Making of Tools" by ALexander G Weygers". The last requires metal working tools along the line of a welding shop or blacksmith shop so I recommend it last.

Also take note that BOOKS ARE TOOLS. They are tools for educating yourself and reference tools for the details that you cannot remember. See our Getting Started article for a start, the the Sword Making Resources list for more. We have reviews of almost all these books on our review page. Like other tools they are not free but with some effort they can be purchased inexpensively. They are your most cost effective education. For the cost of the fuel to make ONE trip to visit quenchcrack (DO IT), you could probably purchase any two of the books on our lists. They are MUCH less than other text books.

Please do not complain or whine that you do not have any money or job. There are costs to everything. To access this web-site you used a computer that cost $1000 or so and a web connection that cost at least $15/month if not $40. A good hammer or pair of tongs costs about what one video game costs and a fair used anvil about the same as an iPod. You can buy a nice used blacksmith's leg vice for the cost of a small television.

Get your priorities straight. If you want tools there is a cost. I started asking for tools for Christmas and Birthdays when I was 8 years old. . . That doesn't mean I got them or wasn't dissapointed but that was my priority in expensive things that I could not buy.

Take quenchcrack up on his offer. He can also direct you to where to find tools.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/02/06 18:13:45 EDT

Steve, I apologize, I thought Clinton was in western TN. You are a long way from Dyersburg! Probably too far to come to pound iron. Maybe someone in Eastern TN can help.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 09/02/06 20:21:05 EDT

Well, i have to say first that this is amazing...I have been looking in to Smithing for about a month now and i am amazed at all the great resources here.

I went out and spent about $90 at my local hardware store buying some of the basic stuff, and spent 2-3 hours making a table knife, it's really rough and doesn't look good, but it is my first and that is to be expected.

I am going to be going to a 3 week intro to welding course starting on Sept 11 and am quite excited about it.

The tools that i have are a couple hammers (cross peen & ball peen), a 12# sledge that i am usings as an anvil, and a propane torch, and of course all the proper saftly equipemnt.

Im wondering where to go next, specifically techniques that i can practice in my garage after work. or maybe stuff that i am missing.

I am going to be buying as many of the books that are listed in the "getting Started" page as i can get my hands on.

Oh, I live in the Great White North (edmonton,Canada) and would love it if there is anyone in the area who wouldn't mind if i dropped by to pound some steel together.

Thanks a bunch,

   Ben - Saturday, 09/02/06 20:49:20 EDT

My parents started giving me basic tools for my birthdays and Christmas when I was a teenager: 3/8" VSR drill, ratchet and sockets, wrencehs (metric and "english") screwdriver set, etc.

I took all of them with me when I went to college and was razzed about it by my doormates; but I think every one of them ended up borrowing tools from me that year.

Guru calls me a finder; if you make it part of your lifestyle it can be fun---the time and costs involved I budget as entertainment. Also once you get your network set up it's not hart to maintain it!

A tool people have not mentioned is a set of cheap (vistaprint) business cards so you can give your name and phone number to people fast and easily. Folks at the next table over from me at lunch on Friday were arguring about when was the last time any of them had seen steel being made. I leaned over and said "last week" and handed them my card... 8 more eyes looking for stuff I can use!

   Thomas P - Saturday, 09/02/06 20:53:24 EDT

I actually consider myself very fortunate that I grew up fairly poor as a youngster. My parents, having little money for anything more than the essentials, believed it was more sensible to buy the tools and materials and learn to do it yourself than it was to pay someone else to do it. And, bless them, they allowed us boys to use those tools, too. To this day, Pop amintains that he contributed more good tools to the sandbox than anyone else in history, but I think he exaggerates some. Maybe. (grin)

The important thing was that we grew up with a love of tools and of learning to do things. Anything, pretty much. By the time I entered college, I could do plumbing, wiring, frame and trim carpentry, a decent bit of cabinetmaking, welding, a little machine work, and general mechanics. I also had amassed a fairly good sollection of tools, as that was what we got for gifts, instead of toys. The folks figured that if we got tools, we could make our own toys and learn some skills along the way. It worked.

I continued to acquire tools as I went along through life. When I moved to the VI, I brought a few hundred books and twenty thousand pounds of tools, plus a very few clothes and household goods. The next time I move, it will be fifty thousand pounds of tools, I'm afraid. Blacksmithing is a very heavy pastime.

Tools and the skills to luse them are one of the best investments anyone can make. Much better than any other, in my not at all humble opinion.
   vicopper - Sunday, 09/03/06 00:32:45 EDT

Burnt Forge:

http://www.larp.com/midgard/02h26.jpg Yep, that's me at the anvil and Scott Cozad looking over my shoulder in another of Mathew Amt's photos from the Midgard site. I find the Daisy shooting glasses to be a relatively unobtrusive form of eye protection for demonstrations. They're very light and handy, with excellent optics, too. If I'm doing a "pose" I'll take them off, but they certainly help when I'm working close to the anvil.

Free Tools:

Oh sure, I've gotten a lot of free tools over the years. Just lend you friends and family some love, loyalty and labor over your lifetime and on birthdays and holidays you'll sometimes find "free" tools. Well worth it, too. ;-)

Power still out at the forge and feet still soggy on the banks of the lower Potomac. But it's a beautiful, clear, moonlit night!

Running late tonight.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 09/03/06 01:13:53 EDT

Leftenant Waugh; Your Dad probably had a metal detector similar to my Dad's. Other folks call them "lawnmowers."
   3dogs - Sunday, 09/03/06 02:55:36 EDT

good morning
i am looking for anybody who sells power hammers in the uk can you help thanks david
   david hannah - Sunday, 09/03/06 03:30:05 EDT

I too grew up poor in a make-do, use it up, fix it up, wear it out again family. With 7 children and 13 foster children over the years as well as many stray children that need a short stay, there was very little money for purchased items. Tools were a highly valued, better take extra care item, as there was little available to replace them if damaged or lost. I grew up using an eclectic collection from three generations on both sides of the family. Started asking for tools for gifts at perhaps 14. I now have all of those three generations plus my additions to the collection, and it appears that my second son the juggleboy, will grow up with a 4 generation collection and inherit it eventually. He shows the signs of the weighty passion of tool love.
   ptree - Sunday, 09/03/06 09:01:04 EDT

My Dad located a small ballpien hammer with the metal detecter when I was maybe 6. I had borrowed it to hit paper roll caps on a brick in the back yard. I had discovered that an entire roll at once was lots of fun. Lets say, that being young, but not stupid, I NEVER mistreated one of his tools again!
   ptree - Sunday, 09/03/06 09:04:29 EDT

I do not completely understand the golden rectangle math the theory.

I get the jist that is is about getting proper proportion and I understand you multiply one side such as width by 1.618. I really don't undertand how to determine the right proportion and adjust the number of rectangles needed to place your elements in.

If anyone can clear this up for me I would appreciate it. I am a little slow on the uptake of math. You may want to explain it in simple terms for me.

Thanks in advance
   felloffadonkey - Sunday, 09/03/06 09:39:26 EDT

Your in luck, there is a great bunch of smiths near you check out www.wcbg.org/index.php for their contact info. And where they meet.
   JimG - Sunday, 09/03/06 10:19:53 EDT

Excellent thanks Jim
   Ben - Sunday, 09/03/06 11:12:49 EDT

Steve in Clinton, TN: You live 15 miles from the headquarters of the Clinch River Blacksmith's Guild. Get thee to Lake City the 3rd Sunday of every month at 1pm.

Your contact is RKROPING@aol.com.

They meet in one of the nicer shops I've been in, and are a great bunch of guys. If I still lived in Knoxville I'd still attend, but I'm in Johnson City now, where we have our own guild.

There's blacksmiths everywhere in the U.S. these days, we just tend to keep a low profile.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 09/03/06 11:16:54 EDT

The Western Canadian Blacksmiths Guild will be meeting at their shop near Leduc on Saterday, September 9 at about 10 or 10:30 AM until about 3 or 4 PM. The shop is at the Alberta Heritage Park, 6 km west of the Walmart (Highway 39). Go west on 39 to Cohn Dale Road and turn north about 1 km to the park. The shop representa a 1940's era blacksmith shop- coal forges etc. Bring your favorite hammer and your safety glasses. We would be happy to get you started on some basic forging.
   - DonS - Sunday, 09/03/06 11:22:55 EDT

General request: If you belong to a local group I believe you can be placed on the ABANA Affiliate List even if you are not an ABANA chapter. For the form: http://abana.org/downloads/Affiliate_app03.pdf. Listing will not be immediate as it has to be approved by the ABANA Board. To double check on a current listing use the NAVIGATE anvilfire box down to the ABANA-Chapter.com list or go to www.abana.org and use the link on the home page.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 09/03/06 12:45:12 EDT

We also offer free hosting to non-profit blacksmithing groups via ABANA-chapter.com whether you are affiliated with ABANA or not.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/03/06 12:49:11 EDT

The Golden Mean, Or Golden Rectangle, Phi 1.61803398875 . . .:

First, this is a religion promulgated by its believers. It has not been proven to be a truth in art. You have to believe in it then you see it everywhere.

Many books and articles have been written on this subject and the so called "proofs" to nature given are very bad fits. The authors forcing the fit more often than finding good fits. This is especialy true of organic shapes. While one natural spiral will fit another one will not.

There is no doubt that Phi is a very interesting number and has relationships to many geometric fiqures as well as the Fibonacci series. This does not make it a perfect thing of beauty.

Many artists since the Ancient Greeks and more so since the Renaissance have believed in the golden rectangle. Its religion taught in art schools. So it DOES show up in many pieces of art, architecture and sculpture.

A quote from Jim Loy's Mathematics Page.
The golden rectangle is found in some art, especially 20th Century art. But, it would seem that ancient Greek architects did not consciously use it. The Parthenon is the most famous example of the use of the golden rectangle. But, the fit is not particularly good. And, almost any rectangle can be found in pictures of the Parthenon. People find the golden rectangle in the Mona Lisa, and other Renaissance art works. But, again, almost any rectangle can be found in the Mona Lisa.
For laying out perfect geometric spirals see our iForge spiral layout demo. Spirals found in nature are fractal which is a much more complicated geometry than the golden mean. However, the typical spiral created by stacking golden rectangles IS a type of fractal (self replicating).

Using the Golden Rectangle:

The first thing to do is learn to layout the golden rectangle. It is done by drawing a square, dividing it in half, then swinging an arc from the half way point on the base from the corner diagonal above it to the baseline. This is using the geometric rules of the Ancient Greeks that said that the correct solution for any problem should be able to be found with a compass and a stright edge. Take time to learn to use them.

From this you can layout rectangles within rectangles withing rectangles. See the various sites that have details on the Golden Mean.

In blacksmithing I think people are wasting time trying to fit sprirals to the golden mean other than fitting them into rectangular frames. If you want to use this proportion use it for panels in a railing or the general outline of a decorative element (an embelished flue-dis-li that fits the rectangle). You can also fit ovals to the rectangle and fill them. There are many ways to apply this if you wish.

Remember, it is a religion and you must believe in it and study its philosophy.

When I was studying the contruction of the Ancient Greek Kithara I was impressed by how similar in proportion they were. In the process of recreating them I measured every image I could find and made a chart of proportions using the cubit as the bas unit. For each image the cubit was derived from the person holdong the instrument.

The H/W ratio of a number of images came to 1.6 or so. Others ran more or less but the average was closer to 1.5. So which ratio did the Anicent Greek instrument makers use? 1.5 or 1.618 (Phi)? My method of "fit" was made based on the Greeks method of laying things out with compass and straight edge. Either ratio could be used but Phi has an air of mystery to it AND fit the more attractive Kitharae.

On the other hand the images were all Greek Vase paintings drawn on a curved or hemispherical surface then photographed and finally measured by myself. . there is a LOT of room for error. The only saving grace is that the Greeks did not draw in perspective other than near and far. They did not foreshorten objects. So I GUESSED that they used Phi.

The rest of the fit was much more uniform but I could not find golden rectangles withing the golden rectangle. The string length was almost always 1 cubit (measured from the elbow to the tip of the fingers). Which meant that the instruments were probably custom made for the individual.

The rest of my layout was based on dividing the rectangle into sixths vertacaly and parts of 1 horizontaly (the bridge located at .5cb or the center of the square from which the rectangle was laid out, the center of the heart (an oval shape with decorative elements) fell between the bought (the widest part of the instrument at one half the height and 1 (the top of the square).

The point of this layout by proportions was to find roughly how the Greek instrument makers would teach their students to layout an instrument without drawings or a table of dimensions and produce the same instrument over and over, year after year AND to make them to fit the individual. I took the constructivist approach assuming that while the golden rectangle was used that the original layout lines (0, 1 and 0.5) were there to use. However, the vertical division of each side by thirds is not a perfect geometry. It requires iteration. But it was the best fit. I was attempting to use the most basic rules of Greek geometry. But in the end there were MANY forced fits.

And this is typical of the religion of Phi, many forced fits. It does not apply to every case.

More important than the religion of Phi is to learn to draw and make beautiful things without a set of preconcieved rules that do not fit the situation. If you are producing decorative ironwork then you are an "ARTIST blacksmith". Practice the art, take time to draw by hand as well as with the tools of Greek geometry and modern drafting. If you deny being an artist then you are in the wrong field.

There is lots to be found if you google the term.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/03/06 12:49:46 EDT

More Phi: Probably the most interesting mathematical fact about Phi (1.6180339887498948482045868343656) is that its reciprocal (1/Phi) equals Phi -1. And the reverse is also true. This is the only number that is like that. It is akin to 2 + 2 = 4 and 2 * 2 = 4.

It is an unusual exception to the general expectation that must be avoided in tests of proofs. Using 1 or 2 in a test is often likely return an answer that is false if another number was used. The same is true of Phi. Use it with caution realizing that if +/- 1 or 1/x is part of the equasion that the results may not be as expected.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/03/06 13:03:21 EDT

I was gonna put a new smokestack on my forge, but i think I'll get a flue de Lis instead. My smoke will come out in nice, scrolly curls, and just the general ambience of the whole thing has GOT to improve my forging.
   3dogs - Sunday, 09/03/06 13:29:22 EDT

Help getting started. Recently there have been several posts from people just starting out. I urge all these people to hook up with their local smithing organizations. These are usually local affiliates of ABANA and can be found at the ABANA website under Affiliates. Most of these groups run regular meetings at someone's shop where a member smith demonstrates some forging technique. These guys know where the tools are. They have scrap piles. They know where to buy anvils etc. Most of all they welcome newcomers and are happy to help.
   adam - Sunday, 09/03/06 13:58:09 EDT

Hello everyone, I've recently gone away to collage and realy need to get back to pounding some hot iron but somehow i think the school wouldn't like that. Right now I'm in Steubenville, OH(near the NE tip of WV). I was wondering if anyone knew of a local blacksmithing group around that I could go to to releave my Blacksmithing erge? thank you.John scancella
   John Scancella - Sunday, 09/03/06 14:04:20 EDT

Thomas P., Kitty litter is Fuller's Earth, or a brand name "Oil Dri", Google for about 183,000 hits. It is sold to auto mechanic and machine shops to absorb oil spilled on the floor- no perfume.
   Ron Childers - Sunday, 09/03/06 14:17:58 EDT

John, While I am laughing at 3dogs gaff on my mispelling "fleur de lis" I suggest you google collage.

Ted Banning and his group that held the WV Armour-Ins are in Parkersburg, WV. That is close to where you are I THINK. I know there is a bridge crossing over into Ohio near there. Just South of that is Ripply were the local group meets regularly and at least one ABANA convention was held.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/03/06 14:19:54 EDT

Forging at School: Do they have an art department or engineering dept where they teach welding? Quite a few art departments that teach sculpture have metal working equipment.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/03/06 14:22:37 EDT

John; can you make it to Quad-State? They have student rates!

Guru, found a copy for US$40, details in the hammerin.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 09/03/06 14:50:56 EDT

Believing is seeing.

Phi is an irrational number - seems appropriate as the foundation for a religion

If you check the architect's drawings on the Parthenon you will see that the design did in fact call for a Golden Rectangle. The problem arose when the contract went out for bid. The low bidder, a Mr Cheapopolis, was notorious for using undocumented Macedonian craftsmen and the columns came out in Macedonian cubits instead of the Athenian cubits specified on the drawing.

Lastly, Jock Dempsey's name has been added to the list of unbelievers and heretics
   adam - Sunday, 09/03/06 14:55:40 EDT

Guru: I am not dumb and I am reasonably well educated but I continually find your fund of knowledge, both in breadth and depth, to be truly astonishing. I enjoy reading your discussions. Thanks
   JLW - Sunday, 09/03/06 15:17:35 EDT

I am wondering if y'all know the flavor of some railroad steel. The clips that hold the track to the concrete seem like they might make good tools or maybe blades. They look like a two - fingered claw and are about 3/8 thick.

   jamie - Sunday, 09/03/06 15:36:19 EDT


I don't remember getting a hard time for bringing a similar set of tools to school with me. I guess the place must have lowered its standards after you left (grin).
   Mike B - Sunday, 09/03/06 15:45:42 EDT

Hi, I have a quick anvil question.

I've recently come across a Fisher Eagle anvil weighing 124 lbs.

It has marked on its foot, "May 1884" then above that, in larger markings, "1887"

I would assume that one of those is the date it was made, but what is the other date? Was it perhaps created in 1884, then redone in 1887 according to Fisher's latest patent (I believe he got a patent for some sort of anvil improvement in 1887)?

On a side note, man what a great anvil, 120 years and the face is still perfectly smooth, not a dent or a nick nor a rust pit in it. Amazing.
   - Kazrian - Sunday, 09/03/06 15:49:06 EDT

I've heard that those clips are 1050. All of the ones I have ever gotten seem to be about that. I use em for heating up quenchant and they crack pretty good.
   Tyler Murch - Sunday, 09/03/06 16:43:13 EDT

Well if it helps, I'm Located in Steubenville (about 30 mintues from Pittsburg). It's a small Catholic collage(2500) so we dont have a engineering deparment(sad I know...) neather do we have a welding class. Do you have an address for that blacksmithing group? Thanks for all your help. John Scancella
   John Scancella - Sunday, 09/03/06 21:09:29 EDT

John Scancella: Use the NAVIGATE anvilfire drop-down menu (at the bottom) for the ABANA Affilitate list link.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 09/03/06 21:27:07 EDT

Thank you for the info on the golden rectangle guru. I am totally befuttled now...BOG. Sounds like a tape measure and an eyeballing is a better way to go for proportion than that formula.
   felloffadonkey - Sunday, 09/03/06 22:53:17 EDT

3dogs's flue de lis reminds me: my tiny wife did the stone and brick masonry for a two-storey addition onto her parent's Los Alamos house back in the last century (I was her laborer and lost 40 pounds mixing mortar and hoisting it and stones up onto the scaffold for her), including two stone fireplaces that fed into the same chimney upstairs and downstairs. (For which Prof. Turley made a handsome couple of sets of screens and fire tools. One got sold with the house this summer and my bro-in-law scarfed the other set.) I like to think of the job as two flues over the cuckoo's nest. Now, with 3dogs....
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 09/03/06 23:53:39 EDT

Dear Guru!!!!
i m a koftgari artist from india and we are the only artist who do fine quality in gold and silver koftgari and in damuscus production also.We also do customise work on customers demand.If u have any work related to koftgari let me know.

i also do koftgari art on damascus knives

If you want i can also show my koftgari art at ur place to those who are interested in learning this art

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

   - sandeep - Monday, 09/04/06 00:15:04 EDT

Would it be possible to get a drawing of Eric Thing's work stand please? (the stepped one with the 2 T stakes) or if not, could you please explain how the bottom half is attached?(angle iron, threaded rod, just sits there? or ???)
many thanks, Wayne
   Wayne - Monday, 09/04/06 01:49:16 EDT

hi i am a self taught blacksmith from australia who has taught myself about the art since childhood through books i have been able to find on the subject. i have built myself a forge which is powered by an old buffalo forge company hand cranked blower when i was a teen but have never been able to get my hands on an anvil. i am looking for one that is about 3 cwt (336 lb) but can't find any sources in australia. do you know of any sources or could you put me in contact with someone here who might know. i have done welding courses (mig, gas and stick) and also want to build a browns gas welder. even an elist that has some australian members would be great.
thankyou in advance

   Toni Smith - Monday, 09/04/06 02:31:32 EDT

Toni Smith,

You might get in touch with Alan and Helen Ball: smithy@villagesmith.com.au Alan has had some anvils cast and may have some for sale. He also has other supplies and books. He's a few kliks inland from Brisbane. Each year, he offers lessons at his "Hot Iron Muster".
   Frank Turley - Monday, 09/04/06 06:17:13 EDT

Toni: Try:


Pres: Keith Hutchings
50 Coolbellup Avenue
Coolbellup, Western Australia, 6163
ph: (08) 93141845

Ed: Brian Keenan
12 Padstow
St. Karrinyup, Western Australia, 6018
ph: (08) 94479135

PR: Jo Mazzarol - Public Relations
38 Imperial Circuit
Madeley, Western Australia, 6065
ph / fax: (08) 9302 6445

My understanding is most of the anvils in Australia were imported from England, Wilkinson in particular. One brand cast in country is/was BK in Sydney.

Heard a story some years ago during one visit by Queen Elizabeth II, as her yacht came into Sydney harbor, she was given a 21-anvil salute.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 09/04/06 06:29:39 EDT

Armour's Heavy Stake and Swage Banch: This is a case of great minds thinking alike. I have drawings somewhere of a stepped laminated wood block bench that I drew 30 years ago that look almost identical to Eric's. Two by four feet and about desk height and lower as needed. Its purpose was to be a heavy base for supporting swage blocks at different heights as I do not like metal stands for this purpose.

Metal stands for swage blocks are first class finger choppers when made for any block small enough for one or two men to handle. It is why I do not have drawings of them on anvilfire.

Eric's stand does both duties, swage stand and stake bench. The weight is much more important for stakes than swages due to the tipping load.

The design can vary (and should) according to YOUR tools, your working methods and your height. The basics are to build a massive wood block with several levels for blocks and stakes (bench anvils, hardy reciever). It can be assembled from large framing timbers or regular boards. It can be cross bolted or not. Glue is recommended. With advance planning pockets for stake shanks can be built in (rather than cutting them later). I recommend a groove with rounded edges for rolling a swage block on edge. This would also be a good bench to anchor a small vise.

Due to the size I would recommend short feet at the corners so that it sets flat. Pine or framing fur is sufficient but you could use any wood if you have the money and want to get fancy. First class wood working benches are made of European beach. I would consider an oak or maple top surface over the softwood core.

Stakes can be set directly into the wood or stake plates can be mounted on the block surface. Making a builtin hole works great for a large stake with a square shank like Eric's. Round holes can laso be drilled then filled with epoxy to fit or have fitted wedges to hold a square shank in round holes.

In today's era where materials are comparitively cheap there is no excuse for small short shanks on stakes. Currently there are some very bad ones on the market.

No plans, just ideas for you to start with. It is mostly a huge wood block with steps and holes for supporting odd tools. If you copy Eric's bench it would not be right for your or my tools. Eric has some cylinder bottoms for dishing swages, you may have something different, I have several swage blocks of my own pattern, Eric has his large custom stake with 3" square shank, I have an antique bickern and some common sheet metal stakes, what do you have?

Some armourer's benches are dsigned for lighter anvils and stakes. Eric's was designed for raising helmets from heavy plate. Some armourer's mount stakes onto the corners of heavy steel benches. Others us individual stumps as work surfaces and tool holders. There are no hard-fast rules and each person has their own preferences. Just look at how many anvil stands we have in our iForge demo.
   - guru - Monday, 09/04/06 08:34:45 EDT

Golden Rectangle, Phi: felloffadonkey, Part of the Religion is the mathematics of it all. You must study and pray to the mathematical gods of the Ancient Summerians who created base 60 and gave us the 360 degree circle but failed to count the actual days in the year. Apparently they did not pray to the Sun god (or right god). Then you need to apply the Greek mathematical religion of compass and straight edge.

Laying out a Golden Rectangle with compass and straight edge is easy (I described it above and will do so again). Start by drawing a circle 1.414. . (square root of two) times the size of the short side of the rectangle and divide it with a straight line through the center. Then use the compass as divider to find a right angle to the line by subdividing the circle (or you can just use a square but that is not strictly orthodox). Now draw a square from the four points that intersect the circle. Now you have a perfect square and its exact center (without use of a square, the devil's own tool). Now divide one side of the square in two and set your compass point there. Adjust the compass to intersect a corner of the square and swing an arc until it crosses the extension of the line the point of the compass is set on. Draw your rectangle from this point. Its proportions are

1:1.6180339887498948482045868343656. . .

As Adam noted, Phi is an irrational number. That means that like the square root of two and PI that you can calculate more decimal points to infinity and they will not repeat. The Ancient Greeks had a feeling for this and did not like it but the square root of two is the ratio between one side and the diagonal or a square and Phi can be determined as above. However as important a number as PI is the Greeks had trouble with it as they could not find a solution to it using their rules (a compass and a straight edge). The search became the Holy Grail of many and continues to this day. There has been and probably is not a solution. Those closest to it have actually been a form of itteration and scale as they divide the circle up into smaller and smaller sections the line become less and less curved. However, no matter how nearly straight a curve is to a straight line it is STILL a curve. . .

Golden Rectangle, Easy use:

Step one is to do the layout above on a piece of cardboard. It only takes about 10-15 seconds. THEN carefully cut the golden rectangle out of the cardboard. Now you have a framing card that you can hold up and look through to find things to fit. Move it closer and farther from your eyes to fit whatever you want.

You can also use the card to draw a golden rectangle. To scale the rectangles UP and DOWN, draw a line from corner to corner and from this right triangle you draw any size rectangle. You DO know about similarity or proportionality of triangles?

Now if you REALLY want to go over the edge then make a golden rectangle "square". Make one arm an even mumber of inches (8) and the other that times Phi (8 * 1.618. . or lay it out). Now divide the long arm into the same number of increments as the short arm. Each of these will be 1.618. ." long. Now you can measure or layout any size golden rectangle you want. If you want REAL fancy turn the square over and mark the long arm in inches and the short one into 0.618. . (Phi) lengths.

While the Golden Mean is NOT my religion I do enjoy playing with a compass and striaght edge. . . well actually I free-hand unless I need a true layout. . .

Hmmmmmm and I did not give any "formula" in my responses above. It is (SQR(5)/2) + 1/2

Half the square root of five plus one half. If you are going to make this your religion you need to know all these things and more.

   - guru - Monday, 09/04/06 10:45:31 EDT


Guru is right, in that the final design of the bench will heavily depend on your planned uses for it. But as to rough construction techniques, I did the following:

Top of bench is a laminated block of 2 x 10 lumber (all my wood was just common framing stuff from the local bigbox home improvement places). Assembled without glue, just held together with 12 pieces of 1/2" threaded rod, with nuts and lockwashers. I made the plate washers out of bits of scrap sheet I had lying around. (To tell truth, I THINK I didn't use glue; it was years ago!) Through-holes were pre-drilled a bit big; they lined up OK, since I was careful marking them.

Feet are blocks of 2 x 12, put crossways, one at each end, one in middle. They are held on by pieces of 1" angle iron, holes punched in iron and screws driven through. The iron does not feel much strain; it just holds the feet in place. I think I used glue to build the feet, but can't remember.

Final touch was to dado and screw on two 2x4's, front and back, across the feet to steady them. Turned out these 2x4's have just the right height for me to brace my foot on, when I use my knee or thigh to steady a big piece of metal plate as I work on it (I sometimes tell people I planned them that way).

Note: If you use the green trash lumber now sold at most home centers, you will probably get a lot of shrinkage after the bench is assembled. The threaded rod is good for this; just keep tightening it over many months as the lumber dries. You may want to consider over-sizing the screw holes in the angle iron holding the feet on, so the top planks can shift a bit as you tighten them.

As the Guru says, you must vary the dimensions as suits your needs and body. For me (5' 8") and given the size of my tools, the combination of these lumber sizes made the work surfaces the right height for me. You might have to build taller or shorter. The bench is WAY too short for prolonged work directly on its surface, which is why "bench" is a somewhat misleading name (unless you sat at it, maybe). It was designed purely as a stake station. I moved my dishing forms to a separate, taller block some years back.

Eric T
   - Eric T - Monday, 09/04/06 12:37:19 EDT

First off . . . A huge thank you for your responses. They told me all I wanted and more. I would like to add a little about myself so my question makes sense.
I am getting into helmet making, (Vendel era mostly, Normal style too). So the stakes seem the route I would like to go. My main concern was stability(not height and other "custom" sizes, layout, etc). I wondered if the main area had some sort of additional weight under the table(between the legs, or ??)In the pics I have, this is not visible. Eric's description told me that the wood alone is heavy enough to deal with the lonf stakes. Guru's tip's on different features are a blessing and HUGE thanks here(especialy the tip on the groove for rolling the swage block)!
Thanks again to you both, Wayne
   Wayne - Monday, 09/04/06 13:30:53 EDT

Thanks again for the formulas.
   felloffadonkey - Monday, 09/04/06 13:47:12 EDT

Tried for quite a while to access the "join CSI" page, can't get it to load. Even rebooted my system, still no luck. I would very much like to support this site, and I strongly recommend everyone who has not joined to do so. The service you provide is better than ANY book I know of.

For the price of a half decent book, or a "living book" (which is kinda what this site is), I would rather spend my hard earned money here. Please advise on reaching the credit card payment screen for CSI.
   Wayne - Monday, 09/04/06 14:29:05 EDT

Bit of anvil history:

Take a look at eBay 260027981138. At first look it strongly resembles the Badger brand shown at the top of page 143 in Anvils in America. Points of interest are the bump under the heel, notch out of back foot under hardy hold and (while not mentioned in listing) it likely has a number under the horn. Now take a good look at the back foot and you can see I I & B to one side of notch and Co. on other. Illinois Iron & Bolt, manufacturer of the Vulcan brand.

According to AIA II&B bought out American Skein and Foundry (manufacturers of the Badget) in the 1960s and transferred anvil production there.

Badgers used a decal, so my WAG is this one was cast in their Carpentersville, IL plant.

I don't remember the date, but I found an anvil advertising on eBay which mentioned a one-piece cast anvil using a formula developed by an Illinois company with many years of experience. Had to be II&B.

This anvil is likely something like semi-steel.

As a aside, Richard Postman told me the Southern Skein and Foundry in Chattanooga, TN (Southern Crescent anvil brand) was a southern considerary of II&B.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 09/04/06 15:15:13 EDT

Wayne, Goto the csi.anvilfire.org JOIN page and use the Paypal option. All funds are now going through the CSI treasurer.


Eric, Thanks for the commentary. I'm never sure when folks are going to see posts about their projects so I fill in as much as I can.

   - guru - Monday, 09/04/06 15:15:59 EDT

Stakes and Stuff: Wayne, I spent about a year between two WV Armour-In's collecting stakes and sheet metal tools. For less than $500 I think I came up with a pretty good collection of bits and pieces. A few below.
Group of tools photo (c) 2004 Jock Dempsey

Besides these (all painted up for their portriat) I picked up steel balls in 6", 4", 2", 1.5" and a 3" and 2" mushroom stakes. I also bought a couple old sheet metal hammers including two old pattern "repousse'" or "blocking" hammers which are no longer made. And I think I also picked up a larger Whitney punch than the one in the photo. That budget included new blades for shear and a new set of punches for the punch.

I didn't go far out of my way to find these tools but I DID go to the Southeast Conference and SOFA Quadstate besides the two Armour-Ins where I picked up one stake and the big 6" ball. But I also passed on a lot of tools that were out of my meger budget.

The point is that with a modest budget, a little patience and focus you can find all kinds of tools common or rare for whatever specialty. In the Armour business you also make a lot of your own tools including stakes and forms to hammers and specialty benches.

That stake bench will weigh between 500 and 800 pounds made with white pine and without tools attached to it. Add a couple stakes to it and toss on some hammers and it will be close to half a ton or more. This is not immovable but it is pretty steady.
   - guru - Monday, 09/04/06 17:19:51 EDT

I was searching for books about making armors in Croatia and didn't find any.Guess nobody reads that stuff in Croatia.
Are there any books in pdf file or something like that?
I'd like to read more about making armor cause I'm a beginner.
I even tried to find hammers like this:
but didn't find any in my country :-(, I could try to make one with grinder?
   - Hammer - Monday, 09/04/06 19:08:51 EDT

I'm building a propane forge with 10 inch diameter by 14 inches long steel pipe. I am planning on one inch of kaowool for insulation. What size burner should I use? I have 3/4 inch and 1 inch readily available. Should I increase the insulation to 2 inches?
   - Rob - Monday, 09/04/06 20:53:15 EDT

The wrought iron work bug has bit me again. Past six months I been doing mostly tomahawks. I want to make one of those split crosses or Francis Whitaker crosses out of 1.5" sq. I do those all the time out of 1/2" material. My question is: in order to convert the cuts to this 1.5" material do I need to just multiply them by 3? I don't have much confidence in my math skills so I thought I'd just ask. Math is at times an enigmatic conundrum for me. Thanks
   Tyler Murch - Monday, 09/04/06 21:29:56 EDT

I'm a near beginner. Recently I bought a "buffalo blower #3", patented 1880. It has what looks like a large wheel, and what the seller called a 'turtle gear'. The problem is that all the wood is rotten and I am not entirely sure how to recreate this blower in its original image. Any help with what this thing looked like in the first place would help.
   Shannon - Monday, 09/04/06 21:42:26 EDT

Hello! I very new to blacksmithing, it is something I have wanted to do since I was about 10 (I am now 33) I have finaly found most of the equipment I need. My questions is: What types of steel where tools such as axes, picks, mattocks and chains made out of during the late 1800s? I have been a "treasure hunter" for about 20 years now and I have found tons of old steel tools with my metal detector from the mid to late 1800s. Now I am thinking that they may have been wrought iron. Can these old tools be re-worked into new tools? Most of these goodies I gave away but I do sill have a heavy chain and it appears to be wrought.

   - Michael Moriarity - Monday, 09/04/06 21:57:46 EDT

Mike are you talking about a place in upstate New York where a crafty farmer named Ezra figured a way to donate land too steep to plow? I've attending a number of schools and even graduated from a couple of them...

Miles if gas was cheaper I'd drive up and give you a big raspberry for that one...

Sandeep have you posted over at swordforum.com?

M Moriarity: mid 1800's mainly wrought iron bodies with steeled edges/faces. Late 1800's You start getting bessemer steel and more "cast steel" tools.

I use several tools that are even older than that. if they are usable clean them up and use them! Reworking is a bit trickier as you will need to re-steel the working parts after forging them into a new shape

Guru, I haven't got that book yet, saving for my quad-state trip!
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 09/05/06 00:47:25 EDT

Joined CSI today, can't seem to log into "Members Only - CSI". Do I need to wait for confirmation through email?
regards, Wayne
   Wayne - Tuesday, 09/05/06 03:53:09 EDT

Wayne it will take me a few minutes to setup everything. The problem with the Paypal gateway is that it does not pass all the information sometimes. So Dave and I have to exchange some mail to get it all together.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/05/06 08:01:46 EDT


Thank you for your support of this fine resource!
   vicopper, CSI Chairman - Tuesday, 09/05/06 14:55:13 EDT

Thomas-- whuffo? And, anyway, surely a man of parts such as yourself can manage a raspberry in cyberspace. Viz.: Pfhhhht! Or, if you prefer, Brrraaappp! See? A mere bagatelle.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/05/06 16:07:25 EDT

Thomas and Miles,

And the crafty farmer also included the cows on the hillside, because their legs were longer on one side than the other. They had to stay on the hillside and face the same direction always. One of them turned around once and took a big tumble.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/05/06 16:46:19 EDT


I walked up one of Ezra's hills every morning (well, almost every morning) for four years. Don't remember seeing Frank's cows, but the school did have a pretty good dairy . . .
   Mike B - Tuesday, 09/05/06 18:13:12 EDT

Miles, Miles, Miles, it's just not the same when it's not in person!

Now Frank the big trouble is when you buy a bull that's been raised the "other way"

Ok Mike sounds like we were at the same place though not at the same time.

Thomas---off to hopefully finish up a knife tonight!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/05/06 19:07:10 EDT

I need subtitles for this movie.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/05/06 19:26:33 EDT

Hello again everyone. I have another question about identifying old blacksmithing gear. This is one mostly directed at the Guru because I believe he owns one of what I'm trying to identify. I'm trying to learn more about the antique and very large bickhorn which I own.


It's large, 2 feet tall, 21 inches long across the top and 3.5 inches wide, weighing a little bit over 50lbs. I'm trying to find out what I can about it. The reason that I'm directing this more towards guru is the fact that it appears to be pretty much the same as the very large antique bickhorn which guru has in his image of his swages / anvil / etc as found at the top of the other forum. It has the same shield shapped emblem at the top center and apperant heavy chamfer at the base.

Any help is appreciated. Thank you all very much =)
   - jmercier - Tuesday, 09/05/06 19:54:16 EDT

my appologies, I forgot to input my email with that last post.
   jmercier - Tuesday, 09/05/06 19:55:59 EDT

Thanks Thomas for the quick reply!
   Michael Moriarity - Tuesday, 09/05/06 20:34:17 EDT

Question for the welding experts:

I can't forge weld, and I may never learn, so I've been thinking about ways that I could simulate forge-welding steel edges and points on mild-steel tools and weapons. How would this work:

Prepare mild steel core (say, body of an ax blade) and a medium carbon steel bit (say, 1060 or so, nothing exotic). Clamp up carefully, make a big, deep, 2-sided weld with a rod like 7014 or 7018. (I know 7014 is shallow penetration rod, but at the site of the weld, the core/bit joint would probably be 1/4" or less thick.) Pile on weld metal; make sure you have good penetration.

Knock off all slag. Put freshly-welded piece into forge, heat to nice stress-relieving temperature (whatever is good for the steel edge). Normalize or anneal the whole weld area.

After dead cold, grind off weld excess. Might be slight pitting, or traces of joint, but what the heck; forge welds often left such traces, no?

My question: would or would not such a stress-relieved weld compare favorably in strength and shock resistance to a forge weld? Or should I just learn to forge weld, and stop trying to think of craven ways to avoid learning it?

Actually, I think I could learn simple lap and fagot welding, but gluing on big steel edges to large iron implements might forever be beyond my skill level.

Eric T
   - Eric T - Tuesday, 09/05/06 20:59:44 EDT


Now that steel's cheaper than wrought iron, the only real reason to steel an edge is for authenticity. Arc welding won't get you that, so just make the whole piece from a suitable steel.

On the other hand, I'm no expert forge welder, but haven't found that steeling iron (actually normally mild steel) tools is much harder than making faggot welds on mild. I split the body and trap the high-carbon bit in the split, then take a welding heat and stick it together.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 09/05/06 21:26:56 EDT

You would gain little adding a 7018 or 7014 deposit to mild steel, however You COULD weld on a deposit of tool steel. I have rods for tool&die repair that put down hot work alloys comparable to H13 & H21 [low & mid 50's RC]. Preheat before and post heat after to minimumize cracking, but the weld deposit will air harden. I am far from the expert, but I THINK the tool steel gets forge welded in a slit rather than trying to put a little band on the edge, might be easier than You are thinking. The few forge welds I have done so far are inferior to an arc weld, but if I had done as many forge welds as arc welds I would surely be better at it.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 09/05/06 21:44:40 EDT

How is welding accomplished by the blacksmith without welding equipment or oxy-acytaline torch?
   - Jim Murphy - Tuesday, 09/05/06 22:12:25 EDT

Jim Murphy and Eric T,

Use the Navigate menu on this page and click on iForge-How to. Under numbers 95 and 96, there are descriptions of forge welds.

There is sometimes an advantage to laying high carbon steel into edged tools. Two examples. I made a gutter adze for cutting the saddle notches for log work. I had a fairly large rectangular adze eye with a compound curved blade. Because of the size stock I started with, it was easier to forge the eye and blade out of mild steel than high carbon steel. I made a 2" wood chisel with socket and forge welded 01 for the cutting edge. Again, it was easier to forge the mild steel body of the tool.

On tools like wood chisels, broad hatchets, and adzes, you weld tool steel on one side only, because the blade is beveled when sharpened. On a felling axe or tomahawk, the tool steel is sandwiched between a split, the so-called cleft weld or bird's mouth weld. These latter tools have an included angle, not a bevel.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/05/06 23:37:32 EDT

Hello. I found a Fisher 30 pound anvil, dated 1899, with what appears to be a cutting wedge in place. I found it near an old stump, by an old miner's cabin, way up in the mountains in eastern Oregon. Hardly any wear, but a little pitted/rusted. Any idea of its value? Thanks.
   Flint Stearns - Wednesday, 09/06/06 01:05:56 EDT

Your Guruship; May we safely assume that the Noel Dempsey named in that excellent article is kin to you? If he's sitting on the Mother Lode of ex-high school machine tools, perchawnce he could do a little bidness among the denizens of this site.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 09/06/06 01:55:53 EDT

"I'm building a propane forge with 10 inch diameter by 14 inches long steel pipe. I am planning on one inch of kaowool for insulation. What size burner should I use? I have 3/4 inch and 1 inch readily available. Should I increase the insulation to 2 inches?"

Rob: I'll take a stab at answering your question. I believe the rule of thumb on 3/4" burners is no more than 500 cubic inches of chamber volume per burner. No idea what the rule of thumb would be for a 1" burner.

With your size cylinder it would appear 1" of ceramic wool insulation would over size it for 3/4", but may do well with 1".

With 2" of insulation you are reducing your cubic inchs within the chamber from 8" to 6". This then would bring it well under the 500 cu in per 3/4" burner.

Coating the inside with ITC would also improve the efficiency of the forge.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/06/06 03:23:25 EDT

last friday i requested some information on how to finish raw steal,i think you might have tried to send me some information which didn't go through
   Dave Jensen - Wednesday, 09/06/06 08:09:22 EDT

Dave Jensen,

Your question was answered shortly after you posted it. Ries answered it less than twenty minutes later, in fact. Scroll up to check.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/06/06 08:30:04 EDT

Noel Dempsey of Dempsey's of Richmond, VA: 3dogs, Bad assumption. Although I know of the man's business and I only lived a little over 130 miles from him, I do not know nor have met the man.

That does not mean he is not a distant cousin as we lost track of one Dempsey in the early 1800's and several families during the US Civil War.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/06/06 08:31:10 EDT

Flint-- you left the anvil there undisturbed in situ so future archaeologists could better understand the culture of the mining camp, right? If not, better beware, the anvil carries the curse of The Lost Doubloon that protects all old mines. To escape the fury of the curse, you gotta give the anvil away free to one who is pure of heart. Email me and I will send you my UPS address.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 09/06/06 08:35:38 EDT

Flint: The 30-lb Fisher has no particular value outside of possible to a collector. Fisher-Norris made anvils from about 1843-1970. They likely supplied most of the anvils to the North during the Civil War and apparently the U.S. Navy was a major buyer of large ones through WW-II. Until II&B started producing Vulcans in the the mid-1870s, they were likely the only significant U.S. anvil manufacturer. Anvils in America doesn't provide an estimate on the number of anvils they produced, but I rather suspect it is more than Trenton, A&H & Hay-Budden combined.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/06/06 09:03:35 EDT

Phoney Forge Welds: Eric, I have done a bit of this. Generaly what you are trying to do is recreate the cold shut edge of the forge weld OR the smooth blending of the joint as found in decorative work.

EDGES: Yes you can steel an edge by arc welding. Be sure to preheat the steel and not use too fancy a steel. I would use something like SAE 1050 od SAE 1060 as you noted which is close to the old crucible steels. Start with pieces that are near net shapes but will need some forging. Make a weld prep that gives you 100% penetration or meets at the center.

Arc weld neatly with you favorite rod, creating a nice convex surface. Power wire brush to remove flux. Grind off any serious gobs of weld metal at ends but do not grind the weld.

Heat to a forging heat and flaten the welds and and dress the tool to shape. Some of the edges of the weld will show in the final forging. If you want that look then forge close to shape and leave little to grind. Heat treat after forging.

Graceful Blends: In good decorative ironwork there are places where bars split and scrolls blend into each other. In good forge welded work these are usualy beautiful smooth lines. Ocassionaly not but that is the exception. In arc welded work the parts often come off at some angle and have obvious masses of weld metal. These are ugly and bad workmanship. Yes it IS common today among even some celebrated blacksmiths. It is common to see leaves welded to a stem with knots of weld at the base of every branch. All the same, it is bad art, and bad craftsmanship. The work does not have to be this way.

First, forge weld a long smooth taper (3" for 1/2" bar) on the bar to be joined to the center of another bar. Forge angular weld preps to all but the chisel point. When the parts are laid together it should look like a smooth blend. Arc weld on the three accessible sides. These should be clean smooth passes. I prefer E6013 rod.

Power wire brush to remove flux. Heat and forge to dress the welds flat and to blend the joint. Forging over the horn helps to keep the joint smooth without reducing the bar size. While hot take a cold chisel to the split and make an angled "cut" to create a smooth blending line from the corners of the bar fading into the joint.

Finish the shape as needed (scroll, bend). There are many reasons for not grinding the wleds. The first is that the results are usualy ugly. The second is that even through thick paint you can see the grinding texture compared to the as-rolled and forged textures. It LOOKS obviously ground. So DON'T DO IT!

Folks that are very good at forge welding will tell you that the above does not save you any time. They are right. But you CAN produce work as nice looking as theirs. There is no excuse except lack of imagination and laziness. Now I have removed one of those impediments, lack of imagination.

If you have many pieces blending from others on one piece it is difficult to do all that forging and dressing but it CAN BE DONE. In this case the arc welding and dressing by forging is probably slightly easier than forge welding.

This is all much easier on square stock than round but it can be done on rounf using similar techniques.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/06/06 10:01:04 EDT

Bickern, Stake Anvil: Jmercier, These were common in the 1600 and 1700's and were used in association with a hornless anvil. The hornless anvil was used for heavy forging and the bickern was used for turning shoes, forging scrolls, anything you needed bicks (beaks) or horns for. Large bickerns (over 100 pounds) were the prefered anvil in some shops and one is shown as the traveling anvil of a Mexican Army forge.antique jewelers anvil photo (c) 1999 Jock Dempsey Medium sized bickerns were used as primary anvils in shops that did light work (armour, sheet metal. . ) and came in many sizes all the way down to jewelers anvils.

I know that many of these were made in England and imported to the US but being a small tool I am sure many may have been made in Europe and sold through tool dealers in England. So it may be hard to pinpoint the source. I have an 18th century catalog that shows them but not with the shield on the side.

Yours appears to have two square horns which is unusual. These came in a variety of qualities of forging mostly seen in the shoulder of the stake. The best ones were forged from one piece the shoulder being created by reducing the rest of the stake. The second type like yours had a tapered collar welded around the stake to create a shoulder and the last (lowest quality) had a crude collar or no shoulder at all.

Heavy stakes were replaced by anvils with horns. Medium to light stakes were replaced by modern sheet metal tools. Small stakes are still used by silversmiths and jewelers and are similar or identical to those of 400 years ago.

The only place medium weight stakes still have a place is for heavy sheet metal (light plate) working such as making armour or sculptural work.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/06/06 11:19:34 EDT

Thanks for the solid anvil advice. I may just keep my cute little anvil-shaped antique. There are few other tangible objects available that evoke such an enduring representation of American history than a good, ol' anvil. I respect all of the members of this forum for their interest and work in maintaining traditional trades/skills.
   Flint Stearns - Wednesday, 09/06/06 11:21:36 EDT

Dave, generally we don't "send" information we post it on the forum so everybody profits from it. The basic tenet being if it's too much trouble for a person to check the forum, it's too much trouble for us to send an e-mail.

Flint: I'd say that top value would be under $150 and to a user probably under $100.

Frank & Jim Now I would claim that the forge, hammer and anvil *ARE* welding equipment and the only way to make a weld without "welding equipment" would be to do it in outer space and make a vacuum weld.

Folks have been using the forge hammer and anvil as welding equipment about 2000 years *longer* than the johnny come lately Oxy-Acetylene or Arc welders.

Historic steeling is done in a variety of ways and even medieval methods are usually broken down into butted/lapped, inserted and reverse insert (steel gets folded over and the wrought iron gets inserted into it)...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/06/06 11:38:50 EDT

Bickern, Stake Anvil; I have one much like that too though a bit larger and with the round/square horns. You can often see an example of one in the various "Venus at the forge of Vulcan" pictures from the Renaissance.

In the 18th and 19th century they were ofen used by barrel makers for making the hoops.

Mine has a fairly soft face---I drawfiled it to clean it up and so I reserve it for historical demo's. I have always wanted to duplicate it in a highgrade "modern" steel.

They have always
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/06/06 11:57:11 EDT

Thomas, I have never tested them but most old stakes have quite a droop to them indicating they are pretty soft. I don't think those with steeled faces were heavy enough to prvent the sag. Now the little jeweler's anvil above is forged from one piece, hand finished and hardened and tempered.

I've thought about making some HD stakes in modern material myself. But I sure do like the lines of the old ones. Nice job for a 100 to 300 pound power hammer. . . It could also be sculpted with torch and grinder. I've often wondered if the shield decoration is a "flinch plate" covering and strengthening the T weld. Although shield shaped, I have never seen any decoration on them.

I always thought the shield was a good place for a lion rampant armed with hammer in dexter and tongs sinister.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/06/06 12:33:52 EDT

Flint: Size of the 30-lb Fisher may have been due to availability (long haul from Trenton, NJ to OR at the time), but perhaps also because it might have had to have been packed in by a miner, rather than say donkey or mule. 30-lbs would have been enough to repoint picks and dress up shovel nicks and bends.

It has withstood weather due to construction. Body is cast iron and it would have a top plate of tool steel. Both withstand rusting to a high degree.

Fisher was one of the few manufacturers to 'date' some of their anvils. In this case it would have been the year the mold was made, not necessarily the year it was produced. However, manufacturing date should be fairly close to mold date.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/06/06 12:39:18 EDT

Guru, I was thinking of a skull and cross bones with the latin motto "you steal it you DIE!"

I have a heavy forklift tine that I have thought of using to make such a beast, forging the horns but doing a full penetration weld for the top/shaft join.

Too many projects, too little time!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/06/06 13:28:38 EDT

Hammer - making your own forming tools

If you have money you can buy all that stuff. They may not be making armor in Croatia but I am sure they are still doing sheet metal work and using tools like these. Talk to the auto body repair guys.

All the tools in that URL that you showed are home made by cutting welding and grinding. A cutoff saw and a welder and a 4.5" grinder will make a whole shop full of tools out of scrap. If a friend has these tools then its worth buying him a few dinners to enlist his help.

Failing that you can manage with just a grinder and a good vise. Find steel scrap thats approximately the right shape, grind the work surface and figure out how to clamp it in the vise or bolt it down. Hammer heads with the heads reground to near spherical will make good stakes. The sinking hammer in the URL is just a store bought crosspein with the face reground.
   adam - Wednesday, 09/06/06 13:54:11 EDT


In searching the archives for information about Trexton anvils, several postings mention being able to look up anvil information.

I have a Trexton (Trenton)150# anvil, serial # 204010. Is this enough information to find out when and where the anvil was made?

Thanks for you help.

Gallup, NM
   gypsybone - Wednesday, 09/06/06 14:35:39 EDT

I regularly weld steel bits onto mildsteel bodies. I dont have a power hammer. A big block of MS is much easier to forge than a piece of H13. Also the softer steel is nicer for striking with the hammer
   adam - Wednesday, 09/06/06 14:40:43 EDT

Gypsybone, Trexton's were made in Columbus OH and were thought to be as varient of Trenton's, with some discussion on why the X was put in place of the E.

"Anvils in America" by Richard Postman discusses them and will probably have a date-serial number crossmatch in it. Ken do you have your copy to hand?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/06/06 15:08:06 EDT

gypsybone. 1941 - 1943 +- two years. By 1930, the "N" may have "washed out", and a worker might have replaced it with an "X". It is a Trenton.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/06/06 16:40:45 EDT

Thank you both, Thomas P. and Frank Turley for the quick informative answers about my Trexton.
   gypsybone - Wednesday, 09/06/06 17:27:04 EDT

Thanks for the background on it. I guess the angle of the picture i took is bad. The bickern i have has a square and a round side, the back side in the picture i took is rounded, although quite squarish at the center, giving a 'flat' reflection. I cant actually find any evidence of any part of it having been forge welded to the rest, and the whole thing rings quite loudly and resonantly when I tap it with just about anything, which would, to me at least, seem to indicate solid construction.

I actually picked it up with the intent to use it as a raising T stake with some character, for sheet metal work. (It cost me about the same that an equivalent sized stake of cz. cast steel would cost me, and I guess it's just a personal prefrence, but I enjoy many of the older tools for history's sake... though I'd love to get my hands on a nice large peddinghaus anvil a few years down the road)

Thank you again for the information that you could give me on my own tools =) This place has a wealth of knowledge seemingly unparalleled =)
   jmercier - Wednesday, 09/06/06 17:28:04 EDT

Ahhh jmercier forge welded *is* solid construction! My loudest most ringing anvils are forge welded up from several parts.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/06/06 18:29:57 EDT

Ahh, ok, I wasnt aware of that, I have some older forge welded tools which show definate seams and lines from the join, and assumed since I didnt see any indication of such that there were none in my bickern. I havent done much forge welding myself, and that which i have done has just been with borax and a sledge hammer with 2 scarfed pieces which still leaves a bit of a visible seam.

I love smithing, there's so much to learn ! =)
   jmercier - Wednesday, 09/06/06 18:37:21 EDT

jmercier, Leaving seams [shuts] depends on the worker's skill and what the final product is intended to be. An ironed farm wagon may show an occasional shut on the welds, but a fine carriage, never.

My bickern is used primarily on branding iron stamps for the small curves and "level-ups".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/06/06 18:56:53 EDT

gypsybone: Trenton with a serial number of 204010 would have been made in 1941-1943. I asked Richard Postman about the Trexton vis Trenton and he indicated likely someone was just playing with the logo.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/06/06 19:16:07 EDT

What is the preferred tool for cutting ceramic fibre(koawool)? After one or two cuts the edge is gone off my brand new utility knife.
   brian robertson - Wednesday, 09/06/06 21:07:51 EDT

Brian; I use a large pair of industrial scissors from my time in a textile mill. They'll require some touching up from time to time, but nothing serious. Actually, the utility blades aren't that hard to touch up, either. I use a ceramic rod. (Really, a high voltage insulator.)
   3dogs - Wednesday, 09/06/06 22:28:24 EDT

Eric T: I misunderstood what You were describing, particularly that You planned to have the carbon steel extend beyond the weld [stupid on my part].
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 09/06/06 22:44:11 EDT

Cutting Kaowool: I use a utility knife. The blades dull quickly but I can use the same blade for hundreds of cuts. I cut up about 250 rolls a year, that is about 1000 feet of cutting a year and only use up the two edges on one blade. They just will not stay sharp as new and will not cut like new. I had a helper that used up a pack of blades in a couple weeks. . . and had thrown away the old blades. I resharpen utility knife blades when used on difficult materials. When cutting stencils I resharpen exacto blades with a tip radius which lasts a lot longer than a sharp point.

I used a good top quality set of fabric shears on Kaowool and ruined them. . . will need professional grinding to cut right again. The dollar stores have decent scissors for a dollar that will work fine for cutting odd shapes in kaowool and then you can toss them.

   - guru - Wednesday, 09/06/06 23:07:46 EDT

Hello everyone,
I'm getting around to building a ring roller/tire roller and I had a few questions. What I have in mind is the type with the two stationary chain driven rollers, and the middle top roller adjustable (either by screw or small bottle jack), yeh I know, pretty generic. The questions i have (right now) are 1. will 1/2 inch be heavy enough for the axles, and 2. will cold rolled/hot rolled be strong enough or should I opt for 4140 or something on the like?
Thanx everyone,
-Aaron @ The SCF

P.S. Mr. Turley, I have not forgotten the vise mount, I'm just still looking for the right sized piece of scroungable scrap ;)
   thesandycreekforge - Thursday, 09/07/06 09:22:38 EDT

I bought plywood for a shield, here's how it looks it's 8mm.

Will this be useful (it can heat up to 650 celsius)

What should I do first, bend it then cut or cut then bend.
What process should I use for bending?(what is the easyest method to use, I assume putting it into water, but what to use to bend it, rope maybe?)

Measurement is in cm. Should 3 cm be ok for oval shield or is it too much?

   - Hammer - Thursday, 09/07/06 09:55:16 EDT

Didn't work out for pics, but just copy paste into new window (example)this:
   - Hammer - Thursday, 09/07/06 09:57:15 EDT

I'm a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) who has been making maille armor for almost ten years now. Recently, I've become interested in how medieval wire was made. As a mailler in the middle ages, it would be simple enough to get the tools I needed made by going to the smith and saying "this is what I need it to do, this is how it needs to work" etc, but how would I describe wire? If I needed the equivalent of 16 gauge mild steel baling wire, how would I ask the medieval blacksmith for it (assuming early 14th century, around 1310, if it needs to be that exact)? Also, how does modern wire drawing techniques differ from those used in the middle ages (assuming same time period, around 1310)?
   Tom Beckett - Thursday, 09/07/06 10:22:24 EDT

I remember seeing an old woodcut print of wire drawing. Simple tools were depicted in the picture as well as the worker drawing the wire while seated on a swing. Apparently the pendulum effect of swinging made it easier to pull thin sections from the molten metals.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 09/07/06 10:34:46 EDT

Hammer, I'm sure your same question would be much better asked over at armourarchive.org (note UK spelling of armour).

Tom Becket: well the biggest problem was that they were not using mild steel. Real Wrought iron is a composite material and so difficult to draw. Early iron wire was sliced from sheet and rounded with hammer and anvil *centuries* after nonferrous wire was drawn using drawplates. I'll have to check the books at home on when they started drawing wrought iron wire. IIRC is was after tha age of mail as a primary defense so it might be close to the time you are looking at, but just a bit later. (I'll be checking in "A History of Western Technology" and "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel" and then might doublecheck on recent research at the Armour Research Society forum)

Nippulini, you don't draw wire from molten metal. You run annealed metal through drawplates, back in the 1970's they were using laser drilled diamonds for the draw holes at WECo for copper wire.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/07/06 11:29:54 EDT

Bending Rolls: thesandycreekforge, My tire bender with screw adjustements (1" dia.) has 1" axels on 3" wheels with no overhang to the bearings. So the axels are mostly in shear. A 1" axel has 4 times the area/strength of 1/2".

The shear strength of mild steel is roughly 30 tons per square inch. That means that a 6 ton bottle jack has the power to shear off one of your 1/2" axels. This is the extreme condition. What you want is low deflection in your axels, not just resistance to untimate failure. Do not count on both sides taking the load, there are many cases where loads are not distrubuted.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/07/06 11:39:53 EDT

Maile Wire: Besides what Thomas has to say much maile was made of flat rectangular section "wire". This was also the era of child labor where you had women and children doing light forging to make short lengths of wire from short lengths of roll sheared "nail rod".

Non-ferrous wire drawing goes way back. Jewelers still do it today the same way as it was done millinea before the iron age. A bar shape is first cast. Then it is forged as long as is reasonable. It is then finished as smooth as possible and a tapered end made. The bar is then pushed into and pulled through one of more dies with tapered holes in them. The dies are made of a metal just a bit harder than that being drawn. Bronze dies can be used for gold and silver, iron or steel for copper and brass. Small wire drawing operations have multiple dies and pass the wire back and forth over round pullies. Heavy drawing was done with self tightening tongs attached to a chin pulled by a mule or horse. List wire drawing was done by winding the wire onto a drum.

Heavy drawing was done in high quality iron wire by the 1700's. The first factory bronze wire drawing operation was done in the 1300's.

The worker setting on a swing was using his legs to draw the wire. He would push off the wire drawing bench with his legs pulling the wire. He would then either take a second grip OR wind up the wire and pull again. It was kind of like rowing a boat.

It is interesting to note that in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" much of the mail was made in China out of PLASTIC! The literaly millions of rings were molded and used push-pin type rivets OR heat set plastic rivets.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/07/06 12:04:43 EDT

Steaming and bending wood, plywood making: Hammer, you need to study up on the methods of working wood.

Existing plywood is just BENT by force. If it is cheap plywood and you moisten it then let it dry in position it will probably hold it's shape. However, under humid conditions it may straighten back out.

In the small plywood shileds I have made I simply attached the plywood to the curved brace that held it into shape. A couple C-clamps were required.

Today you can get a slight advantage by glueing two very thin layers of plywood together in a form

Formed plywood is made by MAKING the plywood in a form. The individual layers have glue applied and are then forced into the form. When the glue is dry the part is taken out.

Laminated furniture (tools, bows etc.) with sharp curves is made two ways. Places where the thin wood strips can be bent by hand are just bent and glued in a simple wood form. Places with sharper bends must have the wood steamed, bent, dried and glued. Steaming is done in a long steaming tube. The hot wet wood is handled with tongs. Forms are wood or metal. Hand clamping is often used (MANY clamps) but in heavy work or production work a hydraulic press may be used.

Small pieces of wood can be shaped directly with heat. The sides of violins and cellos are made by working the wood over a heated iron at near the singing point of the wood.

The ancient method of making wood shields was to cut thin strips of wood like making an oak split basket but using thicker strips. The pieces were were bent over a form and pieces going the perpendicular direction were glued to the first. When these layers were set they were smoothed (high spots scraped off) and the next layer glued on at a perpendicular direction to the first. Three or four layers would be the minimum.

   - guru - Thursday, 09/07/06 13:31:24 EDT

A friend of mine, for forging, is able to make what he call's a "coke cave", by wetting and mounding his coal so that it literally forms a small contained oven for heating his metal. I use coke in my forge and all the wetting in the world won't get it to bind together to make this little kiln, so I'm thinking of making a refractory tube to put over the bed of coals. Anyone ever tried it? My plan is to line half of a 6-8" (approx) diameter piece of pipe with kwool or the lightweight fire bricks and use this for the reflective top. I'm hoping this would not only increase the heat but also conserve the fuel. Ideas?!
   Thumper - Thursday, 09/07/06 15:38:25 EDT

I believe that what your friend has done is make what is called a closed fire. I've never used one myself, but according to what I've read, you can make one by putting stacking 2 pieces of 2x4 and then covering them with green coal and wetting it. Supposedly after the 2x4's have burned out you will be left with a hollow cavity enclosed by the coked coal that was placed around the wood.

Again, I've never tried it but some smiths reported like this type of fire for forge welding.
   Steven Galonska - Thursday, 09/07/06 16:19:51 EDT

Steve, Harry didn't use any structure, he just built it slowly with coal alone and it was only about 3" in diameter. What I really liked about it was that you could see the metal at all times which eliminated the guess work and having to pull it out of the coals to check.
   Thumper - Thursday, 09/07/06 16:27:41 EDT

Steve, I mean't the opening was 3" in diameter, not the pile.
   Thumper - Thursday, 09/07/06 16:29:30 EDT

Refractory cave:

Thumper, a smith I know, up in Maine, actually has made a refractory cave. I only saw it in use a couple years ago. If I remember correctly, it looked like one of those model RR styrofoam caves, with an "entrance" and an "exit". I'll ask him more about the construction and use.

   - Marc - Thursday, 09/07/06 16:42:19 EDT

Bending wood:

If you want to bend it quick and easy, you "steam" it using anhydrous ammonia. It becomes limp as a noodle, practically. Tough to get anhydrous ammonia if you're not a large farmer these days, I expect.

When laminating up your own "plywood" for curved shapes like shields and such, a handy way to do the clamping is with a vacuum bag. The plies are glued up and laid in the form and the whole works put in a bag and vacuumed to compress the stack. Works a treat, particularly on compound curves. Works well for fibreglass resin work and thermoformed plastic panels, too.

   vicopper - Thursday, 09/07/06 16:52:01 EDT

Well, first I will try with hot water because I don't have any device to make steam :-(.

What temperature water must have and for how long should plywood be in water?

And can someone see this and say if it can be used for something:
It can make heat up to 650 celsius.

Thanks for replys.
   - Hammer - Thursday, 09/07/06 17:07:42 EDT

The SandyCreekForge,
I am going to build a set of rolls as well. I have lucked into some surplus roll stands, and if you are going to Quad State, I can bring you some good parts to start your rolls for a very reasonable price. There are photos posted across the street at Forgemagic. The roller bearings are for a metric shaft, about 1 1/2" od, and have thrust bearing mounted adjusting screws. E-mail me if interested.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/07/06 18:19:44 EDT

Beehive Fires (cave): You cannot do this with coke because all the volitiles have burned out. When working with good bituminous coal it actually becomes plastic and welds together so that you can produce a coke lined cave. If you feed fuel correctly to the fire and push inwards correctly then you can keep it going for several hours. When working alone with a bellows this is a VERY handy technique as it heats very fast and hold heat better than an open fire when not pulling the belows.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/07/06 20:03:58 EDT

Coal fires.

I've been using them for quite a few years. For everyday work, I cone up the fire on either side and in back with green coal, so that it becomes a three sided, connected surround. In front, I leave a low flat shelf of green coal to allow work to enter and exit. I wet the coal, if it is pea size and has fines. The center is a high (deep) bed of coke. Ideally, the coke should be "gravy trains"* or a little larger. For a cave fire, after I have my everyday fire going, I start pulling green coal over the top of the high coke bed little by little, giving just a small blast, to aid the coking process on the cave roof. The "exit" at the back of the fire is not necessary. A long piece can be poked through the back bank. I think Daryl Meier used a cave fire in his early days of experimenting with pattern welding. The idea of course, is to get a reducing fire insofar as possible. If there is a disadvantage to the cave fire, it is a fire that requires fairly constant maintenance.

Another fire is the "trench fire" for long pieces where the side green coal banks are lengthened as much as possible. This can be caved over or simply left with a deep coke bed in the center. No bank in the back.

Joe Pehoski worked with an old RR smith for a while, and the smith showed him a 4" x 4" method of starting a fire. The 4 by 4 is about 10" tall and has a slight taper on the bottom to sit on the tuyere. It is placed in the empty firepot vertically and wet, green coal is packed all around it and coned above hearth level. The 4 by 4 is wiggled to loosen and is pulled out, leaving a cavity. A newspaper and wood kindling fire is started inside the cavity and fed only with coke from a previous fire. This gives a neat, hot fire with a nice coke bed which lasts for a while, but eventually, it needs to be redone.

The idea of a half pipe for a roof may help a little once it becomes hot, but it does not consume oxygen and doesn't behave as a refractory. An entire pipe is sometimes used as a "muffle furnace", especially when tempering coil springs.

*Thanks to Bud Beaston for the gravy trains analogy.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/07/06 20:10:59 EDT

I am new to the craft of the blacksmith. I have a #9 peddinghaus and my forge is a skillet on a bench grinder stand. I have invested a lot of time into reading and I am slightly confused on the subject of flux. Borax seems to be mentioned in all references, but should I use plain borax, anhydrous, borax and sand, borax sand and iron fillings. If anhydrous borax is made by baking it I cant find the temp and time. Thank you for any and all info.
   tony johnson - Thursday, 09/07/06 21:48:50 EDT

Back to the question: Yes refractory tops have been tried, discussed over at Primal Fires neo tribal forum as I recall. One forge made from adobe had a built in roof made from the same adobe. They were using this for charcoal fueled forges.

"Ironworks on the Saugus" describes rolled iron as a very recent invention---within a generation of it's construction IIRC. OTOH De Rueck & Alan Williams book on the technology of the Royal Armories at Greenwich mention sending metal out to a "battermill" to be turned into thin plate.

"Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel"Among the craft innovations in the central Middle Ages was the drawplate a device that aided blacksmiths in fabricating iron wire for chain mail, until then laboriously hammered out at the forge" (from a chapter dated 900-1200)

No footnote attributing this factoid and Gies & Gies are known as generalists and so not a really authoratative source for metalworking data. I'll ask at a few scholarly forums but that will take awhile.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 09/07/06 22:43:14 EDT

Tony what kind of welding are you trying to do? thick section wrought iron, high alloy pattern welded billets, mild steel...you adjust your flux to the work you are doing; which unfortunatly you forgot to mention.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 09/07/06 22:46:37 EDT

By it's nature, a coke fire is high maintence, so I'm used to keeping one eye on my work and one on the fire. What I don't understand is, if you have a good coal bed below, won't that consume all the O2 inside the lined pipe cavity and provide an adequate forging environment much like a propane forge? And if not, what if I made the back end solid?
   Thumper - Thursday, 09/07/06 23:05:43 EDT

Borax: Tony, Look at our FAQ's page.

Beehive fires: Thumper it is NOT the roof, it is the fact that the roof is burning fuel radiating heat down into the center of the fire. The work is fully surrounded by burning coke with a sealed layer of coal on top of it. This makes the fire VERY hot with very little air.

For an enclosure (roof, tunnel, cave) to be of use it must reach the temperature at which it radiates heat at a temperature that aides in heating the work more than it reduces the convienience and efficacy of an open forge.

Coke fires are very low maintance compared to coal fires where you have coal and coke in a dozen different states at any given time.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/07/06 23:27:29 EDT

Guru's Fire tending I have never been so annal as to build a fire around a form. I start my fire with a bit of fresh coal and surround it with coke from the previous fire IF I have it and then mound coal on top of the whole. When the fire is hot enough to raise a large plum of viscous yellow smoke I poke a hole in the front of the fire to vent it, thus lighting the plum of smoke. Then I let the fire build patting it toward the center with the flat of the shovel. When the core is hot I use the vent hole to insert work into the fire. As the fire burns down I add coal to the top back and sides constantly working the fuel toward the center.

IF (big IF) the work is such shape that it does not disturb the fire too much I can run it this way for half the day. When I take a lunch break I let the fire fall apart, extract the clinkers and then rebuild it for the afternoon. Thee is always more coke in the afternoon and if I need a large flat or pen fire that is the time. As the day continues I am usualy burning coke alone and fighting clinkers. By day's end the fire is too trashy to continue without cleaning the forge and starting from scratch. . on another day.

To prevent breaking up the beehive fire I like an open tuyeer when I can push clinkers and blockage into the ash dump with a gently curved poker. His means that at the end of the day I have a large doughnut shaped clinker. These can be fished out of the fire in one piece but it wrecks the fire.

Now this is all based on using a bellows while working alone of with an inexperianced helper. While working alone you must keep the fire as hot as possible with the least effort. Maintaining a fire with a powered blower is completely different. You CAN use my method but the fire will get much too hot and burn everything put into it and it will rapidly colapse on itself as it is difficult to keep the fuel moving toward the center.

Every type of forge behave differently and every DIY forge has its own character different from every other forge there every was or ever will be. Thus you must learn what makes YOUR forge operate the best.

   - guru - Thursday, 09/07/06 23:43:48 EDT

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