WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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This is an archive of posts from September 1 - 7, 2007 on the Guru's Den
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Good Evening,
I have an old 75 lb anvil that was left outside for quite a while. The face is pitted quite a bit and the edges had been chipped, though the anvil is sound otherwise.

I need to get the face ground flat; I'm finally getting to a point where the "Character" the pits in the face give is not a benefiet. The problem is that none of the machine shops I've called are willing to do the work. I tend to call up shops and ask if they can grind down the face of the anvil; should I be asking for something else? Is there a specific type of shop I should be looking into?

Should I be worried about the face loosing its hardness? I figure 1/16 removed would bring it to a complete flat, and I might even be OK with 1/32. I can file the horn to smooth it out (though that took forever), but the face is too hard.

Many thanks!
   - Gerdawr - Friday, 08/31/07 21:51:37 EDT

Gerdawr, DO NOT take it out to be ground or machined. Machine shops will do this type work but ruin many anvils.

The surface needs to be relatively smooth but not all over. It does NOT need to be perfectly flat. AN anvil is a work surface for forging, NOT a reference flat. A little sway is good for straightening, you cannot straighten on a perfectly flat surface.

The corners probably need to be dressed and this will fix 90% of the chipping. Those that do not clean up can have the corners knocked off and you just work around them.

The hardness of an anvil face drops off rapidly and taking 1/16" off is taking a LOT off. See Grinding Anvil Radii:

Use a belt sander or small angle grinder with a soft flat wheel to dress your anvil. Do as little as possible.

   - guru - Friday, 08/31/07 22:12:31 EDT

guru, in an earlier post you mentioned a "C frame gas forge" I have been using a homemade double length freon tank gas forge for knife making,but would like to build a more versatile gas forge for general blacksmithing projects.
I would be grateful for more info on the C frame forge( pics, sketches) if available.
   Mike Broach - Saturday, 09/01/07 05:43:49 EDT

I've been looking at those IR thermometers that a number of places sell for stuff like HVAC and automotive uses. You can now get one that reads to 1000C (1832F) for between $200 and $300. They're still too rich for my blood, and they won't cover the whole forging range. If they work as advertised, though, they should be useful for heat treating, which is when accurate temperatures tend to count.

On another note, feldspar is *not* fluorspar. In fact, none of the compositions Wikipedia listed for feldspar had any fluorine at all. Of course, two wrongs might have made a right, so to speak.

I just tried to go Google, and left the 'o' out of "com." in the URL. I got a pretty flashy site that wanted me to apply for a gift card. Phishing? (I didn't stick around long enough to look very closely)
   Mike BR - Saturday, 09/01/07 07:18:23 EDT

C-Frame Forge: Mike, This is a modification I saw at Oak Hill Ironworks, home of the Big BLU. Imagine a double end port NC whisper Momma with the space between the ports and the front door cut out. Then you have a C-frame like some of the old farrier's forges but with a door that makes a tube out of it, making it much more efficient. Long work with big end scrolls (or whatever) can be taken in and out through the door and the ends hang out through the C-ports.

It is not the ideal design but it is handy. I do not think there is an ideal gas forge.

Another forge feature I saw at Larry Harley's is air curtains in front of the doors. A nozzle (old vacuum cleaner nozzle) blows air upward in front of the door or at the end of the hearth. These do a great job of diverting the dragon's breath so that you can look in the forge without losing your eyebrows or other facial hair.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/01/07 08:42:11 EDT

Mike, glad you pointed that out about feldspar and flourspar. Feldspar is a VERY common ingredient in pottery glazes, and would probably make a decent flux, especially mixed with borax. It has no known hazards other than those associated with other fine dusts.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 09/01/07 09:34:16 EDT

Ken of poorboy, I bought one of your rear-opening forges a year or two ago, and love it, but can't seem to find the operating temp. for it. How hot is it getting? TIA, Rich.
   Rich - Saturday, 09/01/07 11:40:06 EDT

BROAD AXE on the axe im trying to make there is a thick section behind the handle eye. is that a thick spot with thin sections on either side and then the eye is wrapped and a steel bit laid between the two halves? or is the eye slit and drifted and the the blade split and the steel laid in between the split?
   coolhand - Saturday, 09/01/07 16:32:47 EDT


I,ve only seen one hand forged broadaxe in a museum, but it was so surface-corroded, I couldn't tell much. From looking at photos, the old European goosewings, etc., are so well made, it is difficult to tell how they were done.

A few years back, a student and I made a broadaxe. We used 1/2" x 4" wrought iron wagon tire. We Teewelded the eye strap onto the back body of the blade. The eye was then folded and rewelded in approximately the same area, but on the other side. We had to make an appropriately sized drift for the eye. The blade, having been rough shaped was made dead flat on one side so that it could receive the file steel for faggot welding. The steel was shaped and applied to the one side only, not sandwiched. The broadaxe is sharpened with a one sided bevel, so that you're always sharpening into steel. We used two coal forges for forge welding, and we hollered at each other regarding the heats. When we thought we were ready, we ran to a central anvil to hammer weld. It took several careful heats to get the steel welded beginning in the center and going either way of the center. Then, there is more hogging out and flatter work. Following normalizing comes cold bench work; then, hardening and tempering. Finally more cold work for a final finish.

I'm pooped just writing about it!
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/01/07 17:38:38 EDT

Well from the ones I have seen in museums or owned I would have to say they made them in a heck of a lot of different ways.

I haven's seen too many with a heavy poll on them as the blade itself is heavy enough and you want the blade to pull the axe in use rather than the poll to push---though I notice that Charles McRaven welded on a poll on the broadaxe he discusses making in "Country Blacksmithing"

Since a broad axe uses a chisel edge you need to make sure the steel you weld on will be at the edge on the flat side rather than in the center. Several ways to do that: butt weld, lapweld, make the whole thing of steel; etc

Good Luck

   - Thomas Powers - Saturday, 09/01/07 18:52:29 EDT

Forgot to mention: Don't forget to offset the eye so it doesn't bulge over onto the flat side!

Isaac Doss of Barryville AR forged a goosewing broad axe for my wife several decades ago; but asked for it back when the Smithsonian asked for an example of his work as his eyes were so bad he didn't feel he could make them another. Sure wish she had still had it when I married her...

   - Thomas Powers - Saturday, 09/01/07 18:56:53 EDT

Looking a purchasing a anvil. Found a trenton 155lbs with the # 80687 stamped on one of the feet. Are these quality anvils? wrought iron? What does the number mean? any help would be great.
   Mike C - Saturday, 09/01/07 21:00:35 EDT

What kind of protective shades do I need when I am uuing mt gas forge and welding
   Troy - Saturday, 09/01/07 21:02:30 EDT

Sorry, I was in a big huury when I wrote the above post. I know I need to wear some sort of protection for my eyes, when I am using a propane forge welding. The problem is I don't know exactly what I need. The reason I ask this question is the sodium gas put off by gas forges is very bright and they also put off UV and radiation when at welding heat. I just don't want to burn out the corneas in my eyes. THANKS.
   Troy - Saturday, 09/01/07 21:18:35 EDT


I don't know where you;re getting your information, but there isn't any sodium flare form burning propane and air. No sodium present, so no sodium flare and certainly no sodium gas. That's really a glass blower's concern, more than a blacksmith's.

Wear any glasses at all and you'll be protected from the vast majority of the UV. If you want more protection, wear the tinted safety glasses. If you have money you want to throw away, but the fancy didymium coated glassblower's glasses.

When running any forge at welding heat, and using borax flux, you may get some sodium flare, and you'll certainly get more overall light. I'd suggest regular #3 tinted safety glasses in either green or neutral gray.

The most important thing is NOT to stare at the fire! Doing so increases the wear and tear on your eyes and it makes it very difficult to see much when you look away from the fire. You need to be able to see what you're doing when you get to the anvil.

BTW, it's usually the retinas that get "burned out", not the corneas, I believe.
   vicopper - Saturday, 09/01/07 21:47:36 EDT

There is no UV from gas forges. There can be some sodium flare from the sodium in borax, but not from the forge. We sell #2 shades for general shop and forge work.

   - guru - Saturday, 09/01/07 22:00:31 EDT

More broad axe.
Again, I refer to that excellent illustrated book by Henry C. Mercer, "Ancient Carpenters' Tools." He has one page depicting five "chisel-edged broad axes with bent handles". All of them have polls. Another page shows eight polless broad axes. These have a neck leading to an oval or circular socket. Some of the polless ones are goose wings. There is one page of seven "knife-edged broad axes with straight handles", these being sharpened with an included angle, NOT a bevel. Mercer thinks these are the old form of a carpenters axe as distinguished from a joiners hatchet. Here, he refers to Moxon. The knife edged broad axes have polls and have the eye centered on the blade length, not offset to one side, as the kind of broad axe for facing timbers would be.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/01/07 22:07:33 EDT

Axes with Heavy Pol: I will not get into what kind of axe you are making because it sounds like the terms are being misused or types confused.

On SOME hand forged axes and hatchets with a heavy pol the mass is from a solid block that the thin sides of the eye extend over and are welded to. The inner surface of the block may be fullered to a curve to make a better eye prior to forge welding. In the wrought iron era mass was often built up and all kinds of shapes were made from multiple pieces. Mild steel is more difficult to get a weld that has equal strength to the surrounding metal and is generally more difficult to forge weld. This and the fact that steel became more available in a larger variety of sections the build up methods fell into disfavor. It is one of the biggest differences between early smithing techniques and modern techniques.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/01/07 22:09:23 EDT

Mike C. The Trentons are good. I have three of them, and I hug them daily. Yours is probably of 1908 manufacture. The base, I believe, was cast and the top half forged with welded high carbon steel face. Made by the Columbus Forge and Iron Company, Ohio.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/01/07 22:24:48 EDT

I too have a Trenton, and have found it to be a wonderful anvil. Unlike Frank, however I do not hug mine daily. I find that the oil I spritz on to keep the rust at bay in my humid environment stains my shirt.
   ptree - Sunday, 09/02/07 09:25:01 EDT

thanks for the broad axe info....i think ill get the book by mercer....Is this the same guy as the mercer museum? I was planning on taking a trip there soon anyways. I have welded up a nice large chunk of wrought out of 4 3/4" squares and being labor day weekend and all im anxious to do some labor!
   coolhand - Sunday, 09/02/07 11:07:42 EDT

I'm using the term "broad axe" to refer to the chisel edged implement used to hew timbers square---as shown quite nicely in Eric Sloane's "A Museum of Early American Tools".

He does show a polled variety that he refers to as an "American Broad Axe" along with two non-polled versions labeled as an English polless broad axe and a German goosewing axe.

My research on medieval tools may be drawing me astray as I am more familiar with the polless variety than the american one...

This book has around a dozen pages on axes and should be easy to find. I would not consider it a definitive scholarly reference; but's a nice one to peruse while sitting around the fire on a winter's night.

   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 09/02/07 11:22:27 EDT

A little more broad axe.

"Ancient Carpenters' Tools" is in paperback and I purchased my copy at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA.

I have two American manufactured broad axes in my possesion. One is made by Evansville Tool Works and has a 10" x 5" blade and is heavily polled. The blade has a nicely curved shape from eye to cutting edge end. It appears to be made of mild steel with about a 1/2" worth of tool steel edge. The other is a "Shapleigh Hardware Diamond Edge" and has a blade 12" x 4" with a smaller poll than the Evansville.

Alex Bealer wrote a book titled "Old Ways of Working Wood" and has a brief section on their use. I used a broad axe during a short course with Peter Gott of North Carolina. He used the American manufactured polled variety. He prevailed upon me to put a slight blade camber to three of his axes. When I finished bending and put the flat side on a plane surface, each corner showed about 1/8" daylight. This was Gott's idea, and he was happy with the result.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/02/07 12:23:02 EDT

I'm trying to find an operating manual and esp. foundation plans for what I think is a 500# Chambersburg power hammer.
I'm conducting this search on behalf of a fellow blacksmith who is not computer literate.
The hammer in question is a self-contained model. It has "Spec.# 7187-SM-1" & "Eq.# 6101" on a metal tag and "2261L6" & "7CH" in the casting itself.
Can you or someone you know verify the size of this hammer from the above information?
I have a lead on foundation plans for a 750# and can use them as is or can scale back a bit if the hammer in question is "only" a 500#er (weighs 36,000# total I've been told).
We are trying to get the hammer in place before the Oregon rainy season of about 6 months starts. Thanks in advance for all your help in this matter.
Wolfgang Rotbart
   wolfgang rotbart - Sunday, 09/02/07 12:39:54 EDT

Before his untimely death, Russel Jacque of Port Townsend Washington had just finished installing his 750lb Chambersburg. Using the original chambersburg plans for the foundations, right down to white oak cribbing, I believe he was into the foundation for more than ten grand.

Jim Garrett, his good friend and fellow Port Townsend master blacksmith, would know all the details. But Jim is not very internet friendly- he probably has an email address, but no website or anything. He would be the guy to pick the brains of for practical knowledge of actually doing this, in the Northwest, in the last couple of years.
You could email Russells widow, Wilene, at www.nimbaforge.com and she could probably put you in touch with Jim. Or he might just show up at the fall NWBA conference in Stevenson Wa in a month or so...

Or perhaps that is your lead, the one you already have?
Grant Sarver would probably know about this too- I think he used to have a 500lb Chambersburg, and he will definitley be in Stevenson, selling tongs, and barbecuing iron with his induction forge.
   - ries - Sunday, 09/02/07 14:03:18 EDT

I just picked up an old Buffalo blower with a severe rust problem. What is the best penetrating oil there is? Would muratic acid work? I was thinking about torch heat directly on the bolt tops, but I'm afraid of cracking the cast iron casing.
   Thumper - Sunday, 09/02/07 15:11:51 EDT

Guru, and Co.,

Sometime back I posted regarding the making of woodworking tools out of recycled leaf springs (Yes, yes, I know . . groan . . .). Anyway, I got it annealed just fine, hammered it flat just fine, cut and filed it just fine. But I noticed that when I did some grinding on it, and it (naturally) got warm, the thing kept wanting to warp, ever so slightly, back to its original bow-shape. Nothing on the piece was ground thin (all the bending was in the thickest areas, anyway), and it never got too hot to touch with bare hands. But no matter how many times I hammered it back into shape, every time it got warm it kept wanting to bend back. This was in fractions of an inch, but still very noticeable.

So, long story short, I had the thing heat-treated. I forgot to mention the matter to the heat treater and, sure enough, despite the fact that I sent it off perfectly straight, it came back --- bent.

The heat treater didn't notice it, and neither did I, until I happened to sight down the length of the tool. But there it was, in all of its funky, slightly bent glory. The heat treater has offered to correct the bend (this seems generous to me, since the issue was not his fault), but I wonder, is this a normal phenomenon in spring steels? Is there a memory of former lives, even after annealing?

Well, I have now officially been converted to the "Use new steel, dummy!" camp, but for my own curiosity, what would cause this to happen, and what could have been done on my part to correct it before heat treating?

Well, gentlemen, my thanks as ever,

   - ProfNewbie - Sunday, 09/02/07 15:28:30 EDT

Warpage: There are lots of reasons for warps to occur when heat treating but they should not be obvious due to normal warming.

IF the steel was cold rolled or cold draw the surfaces have a tighter highly tensioned crystal structure than the interior. Remove this from one side, it relaxes and the ofter side pulls a bend in the bar.

When you annealed, THEN flattened, you put tension into the bar. You should have straightened the bar at forging temperature, let it air cool, check and adjusted straightness again (cold) THEN annealed. Yep, THIS is what you pay for when you buy NEW steel.

The warpage was probably from material removal not heat.

The heat treater probably noticed the warpage. They do enough of this that they do not mention it and if YOU had they would have put the fault on you (even if it MIGHT have been them). Generally heat treat warpage is caused by prior handling OR the shape of the part.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/02/07 16:17:58 EDT

Rust, Oils, Repairs: Thumper, Most folks swear by "Blaster" penetrating oil.

There are oils, rust removers, oils with acidic rust disolvers. Most rust attacking penetrating oils have acids in them and are why they are TERRIBLE for storage of long term use. WB-40 does NOT contain a rust etching acid like other penetrating oils such as Liquid Wrench and Blaster. Thus it is good for light lubrication and short term storage but is not as good a penetrating oil.

Dry rust comes off better dry than oiled.

My preference is to put NO OIL or solvents on something that is real rusty. I prefer to hand scrape (using a wood chisel) and use a wire brush or steel wool to go as far as I can. This includes picking rust out of threads with a pointed tool. Some places I will use a fine powered wire bush. Dry rust comes off better dry than oiled. After the dry scraping I use a Scotchbright type abrasive and kerosene OR WD-40. BUT depending on the parts I may use Naval jelly AFTER mechanical rust removal and as much disassembly as possible.

After all the hand rust removal I will try Naval Jelly and or penetrating oils. However, if fasteners are severely rusted I will heat them with a torch to a red heat. This dehydrates the rust, making it smaller, and makes disassembly possible in many impossible cases. Often I use penetrating oil on the warm parts.

In the end mechanically removing the rust with scrapers, files and wire brushes and polishing surfaces with wet-or-dry sandpaper (using fine oil) is the best way to repair an abused tool. However, this is VERY labor intensive.

Once disassembled a through soaking in a rust remover can help but you must be careful. Parts that are case hardened or have oxide coatings will be attacked by the rust remover and often make them much worse than rusted or discolored.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/02/07 16:46:15 EDT

case hardened or have oxide coatings: I meant that they are more rapidly attacked than mild steel or cast iron. I ruined a complete set and a collection of HSS drill bits with the black oxide coating by trying to remove a LITTLE rust with an organic acid rust remover. In the amount of time that common rust was just removed nicely from plain steel ALL the drill bits were dissolved to the point of uselessness.

SO when derusting assemblies you should do so selectively.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/02/07 17:15:48 EDT


I feared as much. Dang it! Well, I'm not ProfNewbie for nothing. I am trying to graduate, however.

A couple questions of etiquette:

In your estimation, is the lack of the mention by the heat-treater a cause for concern?

Or is he in fact being generous in his offer to straighten the thing for me free of charge?

Either way I feel pretty silly.

Thanks again,

   - ProfNewbie - Sunday, 09/02/07 17:43:28 EDT

The heat treater is just a businessman caught in the middle of your problems. Yes, he's being generous. However, many hardened simple shapes are just straightened by putting them in a vise or press and bending them to shape.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/02/07 18:32:50 EDT

Thanks for the info on the 1,400 pound anvil. Would that have been made as a serious anvil or was it just as an advert? If it was a serious anvil what would it have been used for? Must be the size of an ironing board- but a bit more fun.
   - philip in china - Sunday, 09/02/07 20:44:13 EDT

Knives are Hard Straighten. You can make a straightening hammer similar to a planishing hammer. It goes rat tat...rat tat...rat tat. You can control how and where you want to straighten the blade.
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 09/02/07 20:51:06 EDT

Guru, Thanks. The stove top screws that hold the casing together and several other parts, are so rusted there is no seam between the pieces, I've seen worse, but not much and I would really like to keep this unit from becoming a lawn ornament. I'll get some "Blaster" ASAP, but am I correct in avoiding the torch method because of the cast iron or won't there be a problem with direct heat?
   Thumper - Sunday, 09/02/07 21:17:57 EDT


Are you sure it says 7CH? That would be a 750 lb hammer. 36,000 lb total weight is also right for a 750. The 500 has a 25 hp motor and the 750 has a 40hp motor, what is yours?

And yes, I will be at Stevevson for the conference.
   - grant - Sunday, 09/02/07 23:24:03 EDT

Thumper, The direct heat is a real judgment call.

On many things corroded too bad drilling out the screws is the best bet. Carefully locate the center, drill with a tap drill size or one smaller and then use an easy-out. If you drill at tape drill size the part should pry apart and the remaining thread peal out. New screws are much better than repairing castings.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/02/07 23:33:19 EDT

Grant, I thought the 7CH was the size as well. I wrote him with a list of motor sizes and RPM's. That will identify the hammer. The anvil for a 750 weighs either 10,000 for the standard duty or 15,000 for the heavy duty (20:1). This makes a big difference in the total. We had a photo of two of us standing by an HD 750 anvil in the NEWS. . BIG anvil!
   - guru - Sunday, 09/02/07 23:37:27 EDT

Philip, That anvil was just for show from what I have been told. Richard Postman inspected it and it appeared not to have a steel plate or hard face.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/02/07 23:38:48 EDT


I'd do everything possible to avoid using the torch around that cast iron. Those stove bolts are inplaces where there is a good likelihood that the cross section of the cast iron changes dimension, and that can setu p stresses that it can't handle. Then you hear that ominous "tink" and know you're in trouble. Give the B'laster several days to work, tapping the bolt heads a few times a day. I fthat doesn't do it, try warming the whole thing up...gently...and chilling the bolts with a piece of dry ice. More B'laster, more tapping, ad nauseum.

Other than the B'laster, I'd avoid the use of acids. Before I resorted to that, I'd drill them out and re-tap.
   vicopper - Sunday, 09/02/07 23:40:33 EDT


One thing I neglected to mention: do you have one of those cheap, hammer-operated impact screwdrivers? Those things will work absolute miracles on frozen bolts sometimes. Use the B'laster for a couple days first, of course.
   vicopper - Sunday, 09/02/07 23:44:12 EDT

Vicopper, no impact hammer, again, I'd be worried about cracking the cast iron if I did have one. Guru, I considered drilling and removing as a last resort...we'll see what "Blaster" has to say about it first. Thanks all for the info.
   Thumper - Monday, 09/03/07 00:29:55 EDT

The 750 that Russ Jaqua installed was one that I sold to him. Sat in my yard for too many years and he wanted it! That had the 20:1 anvil. I could just never find enough justification to put it in.
   - grant - Monday, 09/03/07 01:29:29 EDT

while we are on the subject of rusty things, i recently picked up a champion model 200 post drill, ive got everything loosened up (sat under a tree for a long time from what ive been told) but i cannot get the main shaft going to the chuck to turn... been spraying for several days with blaster so far, my concern is that the main shaft has an inner and outer shaft.. is there something better to use for this pourpose? i cannot get either of them out to manually remove the rust because it is solid... any ideas would be appreciated
   - mikek - Monday, 09/03/07 02:08:58 EDT

Serious rust. One trick i have found is to soak with PB Blaster, daily, and have the device wrapped in black plastic and in the sun. The daily heating cooling cycle seems to help the process. But unfortunatly, one occasionally comes across something so rusted it needs more serious attack such as drilling out fastners.
Fasteners in cast iron almost always yeild to oil and the heatcool. One of the joys of cast iron is the ease of disassembly of old corroded fastners as they do come out. On the drill shaft, these are often steel in steel, and if it sat outside, you are in for a fight. machined close tolenernce fit steel in steel present much more challenge. Soak and wrap, and keep trying. I disassembled the Camel back sitting in my yard after years in the weather by this method. I also discovered under the rust and grease an old repair to the main spindle gear that my preclude a rebuild. I am still working on getting the hub of that gear out of the bearing and leaving enough to measure for restoration.
   ptree - Monday, 09/03/07 09:25:19 EDT

Rusted Champion: Mike K, The shaft is one piece EXCEPT the feed screw. However, it is not threaded into the shaft it just pushes on the thrust bearing. The thrust bearing can be replaced with a modern replacement that is identical OR an enclosed thrust bearing that requires some minor modifications to the drill.

The spindle is a snug (bearing fit) in the frame in two places and a slip fit in the drive gear. A keyway in the spindle connects the drive gears to the spindle and IT also slides along it. ALL these slip and sliding fits must be free for the spindle to move properly.

As I mentioned before all accessible rust should be removed. On something like this all parts of the spindle that are visible should be shiney clean. I start with scraping, then sand with 180 grit Wet-or-Dry and thin oil, then 240 or 320. Scotch Bright also works. You may still have a pitted shaft but the places inbetween should be smooth.

Getting ALL the rust off all surfaces (including down in the key way) means that the parts outside the slip fits are smaller and WILL fit once the parts are moving.

Uncouple the screw feed with the feed shifting lever if possible. Also check that the rack and pinion shaft can rotate. Both feeds need to be free and disconnected if possible. The screw feed MUST be disengaged or removed.

NOW, you should be able to use a wood mallet to hit the spindle end and try to move it axially. Oil and tap, oil and tap. Try to rotate. I would use something with some leverage on the large end of the spindle.

IF you can get the spindle to move a small fraction of an inch this way then you will start getting oil in the fits. It is important the the rust has been removed on the outer (visible) surfaces so that this does not tighten the fits. Take another block of wood with a notch in it OR a U shaped tool like a tie rod end seperator and place it above the large part (chuck) of the spindle and tap downwards. If you can get ANY movement (even 1/16 inch or 1 degree) then keep moving THAT amount back and forth and continue oiling.

Someone mentioned an impact wrench for bolts. A small air impact hammer with a cut off shank could be used inside the chuck to push axially. The repeated blows are amazing in what they can do and are good for breaking loose rust. Just don't get carried away. IF you get some movement then CLEAN the exposed shaft, oil and move it back. Keep moving and cleaning and oiling and eventually you will get the parts free.

DO NOT use a heavy hammer or sledge and DO NOT force the travel farther than it is supposed to go. If you use a metal hammer put a piece of wood between the parts and the hammer. YES, this is difficult to determine when you have bottomed out but the sound of the blows is usually much different at that point.

Once the spindle is free to move then clean and polish all the working surfaces you can get to. If you cannot get it completely apart then just keep moving it full travel and oiling and moving until the oil stays clean. Start with thin oil like WD-40 and then change to lubricating oil like SAE 20W20.

When cleaning one of these old machines you will want to clean every gear tooth and feed screw thread as well. When finished, degrease and paint. Then oil and grease again.

These old machines were typically painted black because the dripping used oil would make black streaks on anything else. However, occasionally I like to paint these machines a nice bright color (like red) and pin stripe them. Yep the oil will show but it sure will be pretty. .

These machines typically had no real "chuck", just a hole for a 1/2" shank. Optionally some could be had with a Morse taper. In either case I would purchase a new arbor and Jacobs brand chuck for the machine. If you plan on using the machine this makes it very useful. Without the chuck you either need to find the antique 1/2" shank "blacksmith" bits that are no longer made OR make bushing adaptors for all the bits you use. The chuck is the better option.
   - guru - Monday, 09/03/07 09:47:55 EDT

thank you very much guru!
   - mikek - Monday, 09/03/07 11:14:09 EDT

i guess i have one more question about the drill,
how do i take get the L shaped pin that goes from the thrust bearing to the screw off? it seems that the drill froze solid in the full up position, as far as all the gears and the keyways on them they are all moving quite freely,
thanks again
   - mikek - Monday, 09/03/07 11:37:14 EDT

Mike, While I have worked on several of these drills I have not taken one of this particular model apart. And even if I had, they often changed the details over time. The 1920 Champion catalog has no less than 36 hand crank wall mount drills and numerous other floor models (some also hand crank).

Several of the thrust bearing drive pins are just a tap fit or are bent slightly after hammering in. I do not know specifically about the one you are working on. Look closely for a possible small cross pin.

   - guru - Monday, 09/03/07 12:37:29 EDT

Rich: On how hot my Poor Boy propane forges get - this is just a SWAG on my part. On one I was using a 2,300 degree firebrick as the floor. I put in a piece of 1" to soak, turned up the propane pressure and partially closed off the front door. When I came back I found the metal half melted into the firebrick. Implies to me it went over at least 2,200 degrees.

I have had a couple of past buyers tell me they forge weld Damascus-pattern blanks in them at low propane pressure (around five pounds) on a regular basis.

Still I give no guarantee they will forge weld.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 09/03/07 14:51:10 EDT

Philip: That 1,400 lb anvil was a FISHER & NORRIS made for the 1876 Centennial Exposition. It can be seen in Anvils in America on page 155. Just prior to it Postman notes F&N said they made anvils up to 1,300 pounds as a standard practice. Anvil currently is located in the basement of the NJ State Museum in Trenton IIRC.

On that photo note the Fisher Patent Railroad Joint about a third of the way up the photograph. If these were successful they may have been a big money maker for F&N as a mile of track would take about 480 of them if rails were 22' long.

In the same photograph are a number of different anvil styles than the standard blacksmithing anvil.

I believe anvils weighing over 1,000 pounds were not all that uncommon and F&H and some of the other American manufactuers made them, with F&N's sold to the U.S. Navy as likely the most numerous.

The Studebaker Homestead has a very large anvil there. Anyone remember the details of it?
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 09/03/07 15:08:20 EDT

Anvil Weights. The most common "heavy" anvil was around 500 to 600 pounds with Hay-Budden supplying quite a few 600 pound anvils to the railroad shops - BUT they were special order. The more common heavy anvil over that weight are bridge anvils, a completely different tool.
   - guru - Monday, 09/03/07 16:02:50 EDT

Rust-- vast patience is the key to salvaging tools like old vises, drill presses, blowers that are paralyzed by corrosion. Get a garbage can and fill it with kerosene and let the tool soak for days or weeks if necessary. B'laster is priceless. There are others-- Knocker Loose, Kroil, etc. but B'laster is best in my book. Do NOT use force. Heat and thin cast iron are a scary combo. Especially do not use force on the cross-pins fixing gears to shafts lest you inadvertently be driving them the wrong way-- some are tapered and can crack the gear.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 09/03/07 18:01:32 EDT

I asked a local old-time mechanic and he swore by soaking a rusted tool in diesel fuel. Considering how scarce and costly kerosene is nowadays, would this work as well? And do either of them work as well as Blaster which is the over all 1st choice on this site so far?
   Thumper - Monday, 09/03/07 18:40:37 EDT

i got it freed up, used a piece of 2x4 and tapped it down a little bit, then put the board on the chuck and tapped it the other way and oiled it and now its completely free and moving, now i gotta make a table and get a vice a new pully and a motor and ive got a drill press!
thanks everyone for all the help
   - mikek - Monday, 09/03/07 19:00:49 EDT

Kerosene = Diesel - Additives and Tax:

In many parts of the country No.1 Fuel Oil, Kerosene and Diesel are basically the same thing.
   - guru - Monday, 09/03/07 19:31:11 EDT


For soaking purposes, #2 diesel is just dandy. It's a bit less volatile than #1 white kerosene, and way less expensive. JP-4 jet fuel is nice clean #1 kerosene by any other name, and priced accordingly. Pop, who used to work as a chemist for Atlantic Refining (in about the Cretaceous era), said that the only real difference between diesel fuel and white kerosene was about fifty pounds of sulfuric acid per barrel. Apparently, the refineries used sulfuric acid to wash the impurities out of the various fractions of distillate.

B'laster has some type of mild acid in it, I think, which acts to reduce the rust molecules back toward iron. Not a very strong acid, I don't think, as I've left stuff in B'laster for days without damage. B'laster does work better than diesel or kero, but is more expensive than both of them put together. I usually squirt the joints with B'laster and let it sit for a day or two then dump the whole works in a bucket of diesel fuel. Works for me, most of the time. When it doesn't, then I resort to the impact driver, the air chisel or the gas axe.

I've read of a rust chelating agent that is supposed to be pretty darn good, though I haven't yet tried it. I will soon, as it is an organic compound that is *not* a haz-mat item and can be mailed. A place called The Rust Store sells it. You can Google 'em.
   vicopper - Monday, 09/03/07 19:39:17 EDT


I just went to the Hammer-In and it's vacant...like in devoid of posts entirely. Did it get archived into oblivion?
   vicopper - Monday, 09/03/07 19:42:05 EDT

what do the numbers after the letter mean in regards to tool steel....I know the letters, but what is the difference between w-1 and w-2 or s-1 and s-7?
   coolhand - Monday, 09/03/07 19:50:15 EDT

Has anyone out there dealt with Phoenix Forging Hammers? I have heard good and bad things. The hammers have an amazing reputation for quality and design. I have, however, heard that they are horrible with custumer service. I thinking about contacting them so any advice, in preparation, would be appreciated. Thanks
   Mike S - Monday, 09/03/07 21:07:20 EDT


The AISI tool steel letters and numbers are a convenient way of referring to steels without having to list the "typical analysis". For example, W1 is considered unalloyed, unless your a chemist, and contains varying amounts of carbon, usually 0.60% to 1.3%. When you order, you specify the carbon content that you want.
W2 behaves pretty much like W1, except that 0.25% vanadium is added to help insure a fine grain structure.
S1 contains C 0.50; Cr 1.50; and W 2.50
S7 contains C 0.50; Cr 3.25; and Mo 1.40
For each steel ordered, you should request specs on forging and heat treatment temperatures, because the alloying will affect these. Cincinnati Tool Steel Co. puts out a catalog which talks about popular tool steels, and there are others as well.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 09/03/07 21:14:02 EDT

Hammer-In, Its there, I just edited too short and the text is floating between ads. A bug I'm not sure what to do about.
   - guru - Monday, 09/03/07 22:22:22 EDT

Thanks, Jock. I normallly just hit "Last Post" and got a blank area. Never thought to scroll up a bit. Duh...
   vicopper - Monday, 09/03/07 23:14:24 EDT

I don't normally put three L's in normally, though. Got stuck on automatic, I guess. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 09/03/07 23:16:19 EDT

"A bug I'm not sure what to do about."
   - Rick WIdmer - Monday, 09/03/07 23:38:51 EDT

Sorry about that...

"A bug I'm not sure what to do about."

Check your contact form...
   Rick WIdmer - Monday, 09/03/07 23:39:38 EDT

Well, I found some errors in the code but the problem is the dynamics of the page changes as the content increases. Ah. . . Rick pointed to a the solution. Its fixed now with the content at the TOP, not middle where it was floating.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/07 00:06:39 EDT

PHOENIX: Over the years these folks have had their problems and they are still trying to dig themselves out. The major problem is they are selling a $30,000 machine for $12,000. Currently the hammers are built one or two at a time and are all presold so there is no inventory. At one time they were very far behind orders and to help get out of this problem they only build the one hammer now.

While these hammers ARE made one at a time, they are made to version controlled CAD drawings and there have been very few changes. Other one at a time makers build every hammer different and could NEVER support a parts request.

If you want a hammer for immediate delivery there are several others that can fill your needs. If you want one of Tom's indestructible brick of a machine then you will have to wait.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/07 00:18:41 EDT

Thumper-- I am locked in the past around 1947 or so, alas, when I used kerosene to clean my coaster brake, and have stayed with it to this very day as the main ingredient in a secret (because I have forgotten what all is in it) de-rustification mixture that I am sure would get my shop red-tagged by OSHA in a flash. Harken to the Guruissimo!
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/04/07 00:33:45 EDT

A good afternoon to you all. I'm looking to make my first propane forge, and I had a few questions about it. Firstly, I work in a metalshop, and I tend to move every few years, so I need something fairly light and mobile; I have some 1 mil. stainless that would be ideal, but I've read that the heat around the openings is pretty intense, would there be a way to position the insulation to prevent this, or can stainless that thin take the heat? Even better would be Aluminum because it'd be easier to work; but again, the heat. Secondly, what would be your recommendation about chamber size? I don't plan on forging anything enormous, but I'd like something that's versatile enough for me to learn with, yet take up a fairly small amount of space. Lastly, it was recommended to have at least 2" of Kaowool for insulation and that more would be better, is ther a point where the cost starts to outweigh the benefits? Something around 4-5"?
   Kajiya-In-Training - Tuesday, 09/04/07 01:27:26 EDT

Hello. I'm from Croatia. I have one problem concerning axe forging. When I try to punch the axe socket one side always gets thicker. Some smiths drill a series of holes to guide the punching. Any advice will be useful since in my country forging is dead.
   - Hrvoje - Tuesday, 09/04/07 09:48:05 EDT

gas forge,
what burners are you going to use? venturi or blown? how many btu's etc.. these are the factors that will affect how big your chamber will need to be
   - mikek - Tuesday, 09/04/07 09:50:16 EDT

Forge Materials and Shapes: KIT, Stainless is OK but it does burn at forge temperatures. 1 mil is too thin for the shell (might work for a micro forge). Maybe a covering over blanket supported by something else. Try about 10 mil.

Any metal in the fire chamber will be burnt. Stainless holds up much better than carbon steel but everything burns in the box.

Aluminum has far too low a melting point to use around a ferrous forge.

Size and versatility aspects of gas forges are at odds with each other. The smallest forge you can get away with is the most efficient but the largest is the most versatile. Same with weight and durability. The heavier the forge the more durable. Light weight refractories are much more prone to attack by flux and scale.

The most versatile forges have doors that move on one plane, not hinged doors. These add weight if nothing more than the linkage and counterbalance.

The most versatile forges have ports on both ends as well as a door. However, the more ports you have the more heat loss. As mentioned earlier a C frame forge with a door closing the C is quite versatile. This results in two end ports and the ability to get long work with large ends in the forge. However, this shape is difficult to build using blanket. Perhaps a split tube with half cylindrical door. . .

1.5 to 2" of wool is the norm for small to medium forges. The only thing that should use less is little "bean can" micro forges. Note that most forges need a fire brick or kiln shelf floor.

Size is really up to what you think is normal size work. Less than a cubic foot works for a lot of folks. But the thing about gas forges is that in the general shop you need two or more. A small general purpose forge and a larger HD forge. Any special shapes may need their own (tunnel forge for long work, clam shell for odd shape).

Then there are questions like, "Are you feeding a power hammer?"
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/07 09:51:00 EDT

Axe Forging: Hroje, Most hand made axes are made by bending and welding, not punching. See our iForge demo #28 Axe, by Rich Hale.

If punching you may want to start with a short bar, punch it then draw out the material over an eye drift (mandrel). In this way you punch a short hole with greater accuracy and any errors are corrected in the forging. This method is more work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/07 09:59:34 EDT

Thanks for anvil grinding advice, Guru! I'll touch up the corners and leave the face alone; it will fix some of the chiping problem.

My problem is the rough surface of the anvil; it shows up like acne on any work I do. It's like someone was punching all over the anvil face. I was thinking of making a cutting plate out of left-over mild steel, but using it for a forging surface. Sound workable or a waste of time and materiel? The more I think of it, the more I think I should try to thin down a piece of leaf-spring and harden that for use instead.
   - Gerdawr - Tuesday, 09/04/07 10:11:18 EDT

I have the rare opportunity to build a new shop (YAHOO!) In typical fashon I'm more excited about the new shop than the new house. Naturally with building a shop layout is very important, are there any reference sites on shop layout. Right now the plan is 24x24 with lean-to off the back. (Searching for ideas that may not have crossed these 3-4 pickled brain cells.) Any suggestions?
many, many thanks.
   - nathan - Tuesday, 09/04/07 10:36:27 EDT


There is more than one way. In Robert Harcourt's book, "Elementary Forge Practice", he makes a hatchet out of 22mm x 52mm x 85mm. The punch is roughly a teardrop cross-section with rounding edges. The punch is tapered in cross-section and fairly small on the end. The punch has a wooden haft. The hole is punched undersized and drifted to size. Harcourt's drift is of the finished hole size, and it is 155mm long, half of that with a taper, so that it can enter the previously punched hole. No guide holes are drilled. The finished eye is approximately 24mm x 38mm.

The eye gets centered by experience and practice. Harcourt recommends removing the punch after each blow to check whether it is centered. He punches nearly through from one side, then allows the punch to cool. Finally, he back-punches to remove the slug.

Other methods involve forge welding.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/04/07 10:40:47 EDT

Frank a slight camber does sound helpfull to starting the shaving action without digging a corner. I'll have to remember that---though out here there is a lot less hewing going on than there was in OH or AR.

Kerosene: I always get a big laugh at the gasoline commercials that say that if their gas was any fancier it would be rocket fuel---the Saturn V used kerosene for the first stage so I alwyas here this as "if their gas was any fancier it would be kerosene" Probably NOT what they were ttrying to imply...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/04/07 10:46:43 EDT


YOu can do a lot of good for a pitted anvil face with nothing more than a woodworker's belt sander. Start with a 120 grit belt and work the face over, then change to a 220 grit and finish it up. Use a good quality aluminum oxide or zirconia belt for best belt life.

You won't take more than several thousandths off the face this way, so there's little or no danger of thinning the face too much, but it will do a lot for reducing the pittin gto the point it barely marks your work. Rust molecules are three times the size of iron, so they greatly exaggerate the roughness. Cutting them off down to clean steel will make a big difference.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 09/04/07 10:56:53 EDT

This is more along the lines of a suggestion than a question. I'd really like to see a FAQ that discusses the uses of/theories behind some of the dizzying array of smithing hammers that are available. Ideally we'd all get a chance to see them all in use, and/or try them all, but that's just not practical for many of us.

Just a suggestion. I realize it'd be a lot of work for someone. It just happens to be one of the rare smithing-related subjects on which I haven't found much information at Anvilfire.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/04/07 11:51:17 EDT

Regarding Rust: I am surprised I have not seen it here (maybe I was gone), but the people who restore old farm engines that have sat in rivers for years swear by electrollis (sp?). They set up the part to be derusted in a tub with washing soda, attach to a battery charger and provide a sacrificial electrode attached to the other side. More information can be found at Harrys Old Engine.com. There is a specific way to do it, positive and negative connections are important, solution is important, etc-etc-etc. They claim they can unscrew old frozen bolts after treatment. No, I have not tried it, but the photos are impressive, and you should see what those guys do with old lumps of rust.
   - David Hughes - Tuesday, 09/04/07 12:31:44 EDT

Thank you anvilfire. Excellent site.
   - Hrvoje - Tuesday, 09/04/07 12:33:40 EDT

Is there any place I can find characteristics (including the availability) of these steels on the web?:5160, 4140, 4340, W1, D2, S2, M42, and M7.


P.S. I was guessing the Machinery handbook, but I don't really know since I don't have a copy of it anymore.
   - Hollon - Tuesday, 09/04/07 12:52:16 EDT

In addition to previous question, if there are few local areas to obtain stock besides junkyards, should you try to purchase online and pay shipping (seems like the wrong answer to me) or travel some distance to buy it?
   - Hollon - Tuesday, 09/04/07 12:56:50 EDT

Hammer Types: Matt, we discussed hammer faces a while back. Outside of crown mostly the varying types are regional and personal preferences. Hammers like the American Blacksmiths, Swedish, French, German and Czech patterns are all basically the same tool with a different look (mostly the peen). The British often use a ball peen or Engineer's hammer for forge work. Japanese and Early European bladesmiths preferred hammers with all the mass in front of the eye while other craftsfolk preferred a more balanced hammer. Occasionally the distinctiveness of a hammer was merely to identify one type of crafts person from another.

The big difference in all these is face dress. You can have a lot of crown or a little crown (almost flat). The crown can be radial, square or directional (rocker faced). The more crown you have the faster the steel moves but the rougher the work. Radial dress moves the steel in all directions while a rocker dress moves it primarily in one direction.

Ball peens are used for riveting and texturing. But there are also sheet metal working riveting hammers that a long cross peen. Armourer's and repousse' artists use big ball faced heavy hammers for plate work. Niagara and Pexto used to sell a "repousse'" hammer that had two different size hemispherical and ovoid peens. They are no longer made.

Sheet metal workers, silversmiths, coppersmiths and other plate workers use a wide variety of relatively light hammers with confusing and cross definition names. When in the hand of a jeweler a hammer may be a silversmiths hammer but the same hammer in the hand of a bodyman is an auto-body hammer. . . Planishing hammers vary from hammers with a crown of over 5 feet (1.5 m) to nearly flat. Most have round faces but some have ovoid faces. These hammers may be double faced or have small round or sharp peens such as a "pecking" hammer. Many planishing hammers have one round face and one square face. The flatness of the face is relative to the flatness and smoothness of the work. The finer the work the less the crown.

In the end it is all weight, face shape and crown. The variety is almost infinite and in most cases the difference other than the proper weight is just personal preference. You can go into most smiths shops that have collections of dozens or even hundreds of hammers and over a month they may use three or four if not JUST ONE.

I tend to use three hammers. A heavy American Pattern, a light American Pattern, and ball peens as needed for riveting and texturing. I most often use ball peens for center punching. I also have a trash wood mallet for hot boughing and straightening.

I use different hammers for sheet metal work.

But then I have a heavy rectangular hardwood mallet I use with wood chisels and a straight claw carpenter's hammer for nails. I also have a round lignum vitae sculptor's mallet but I prefer the rectangular one I made. So I use as many hammers for wood working as metal working. But not nearly as many hammers as I have. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/07 13:31:25 EDT

Alloy Steels: Hollon, Unless you have a VERY good industrial supplier then if you want all those steels, YES you will have to pay shipping on individual pieces. Availability depends on how far you are willing to go, what form you need the steel and how much you want to buy. IF you want to buy enough someone will make any alloy in any size and form you want. If you only want a couple feet you will have to take what is available.

Availability is a completely different question and subject than specs. Matweb has a specs and numerous advertising links to suppliers.

However, if you want complete specs and heat treatment you will need two books. The ASM Metals Reference Book and the ASM Heat Treaters guide to Ferrous Metals. Machinery's is OK but generalizes on some of this. No book will give you availability. In fact many list sections and alloys that have not been available for years.

If you want a cart system that works based on a 100% accurate inventory then go to McMaster-Carr. I think they have all the steels you list except the HSS and they have non-technical application properties for the materials they carry. They have a wide range of sections and sell in SHORT lengths. Shipping is immediate. The prices reflect the service level. Our on-line metals connection carries some of these I THINK and may be cheaper then McMC.

If you want to purchase local then try an industrial hardware supply or a machine shop supply. Most medium size cities with any manufacturing industry have one or both. They will stock W1 and O1 in round stock and O1 in precision ground flat stock. Most metals warehouses carry common steel OR they specialize in non-ferrous but not both. Tool steels are generally another specialty.

Junkyards are NEVER the place to purchase specialty steels as they know as little of less than you do about what they are selling.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/07 13:52:53 EDT


Whoa! Eye measurement correction. It should read 12mm x 38mm.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/04/07 14:34:48 EDT

Another method of buying speciality steels is to find a local machine shop and see if you can piggyback your order on one of theirs. Generally they get an increased discount the more they order and so it may be to their advantage to beef up an order with your additions.

I know of *1* junkyard that deals with a factory that has a known colour code so that they know what they are getting from that one factory and store it in a special place at the yard. Unfortunately it's 1500 miles from where I currently live...

Hammers: Hammers are like spouses; what suits one person would drive another person up the wall: in general I use 3-5 for 90% of my smithing and probably another 20 in the course of the year---I do some odd things what with the historical/armour work; hot forged silver, knives, etc. Having the *right* hammer for a tricky job can make it an easy and fast one---like long necked dishing hammers for working the insides of hand forged cauldrons. I counted up when I moved and found out that I had about 150 handled tools ranging from 4oz ballpeins to a 17# crosspein and hotcuts and a bunch of different set tools and I've used most of them at least once!

My favorite hammer changes depending on how much smithing I get to do---when I'm out of shape I use a lighter hammer than when I've been doing a lot of smithing. In between I start with the lighter hammer and then move to the heavier one when I'm warmed up and then back to the lighter one when I start to tire.

Like most things there is no *BEST* hammer that works for everyone all the time.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/04/07 15:41:31 EDT

Matt RE Hammer FAQ. . . Yes I know. The above is not IT.

Hammer Dress: I need to grind up a bunch of hammers over several days and photograph them as I go as well as measure the radii. The problem with trying to quantify face dress is that the major radius is over 18" and in fact should be a half oval. Of course an oval can be approximated for practical purposes with several arcs. But hand grinding actually produces one. . .

Quantifying those large radii is lots of fun. To start the project I'd need to make a bunch of large radius gauges in brass or steel. . . Don't laugh. I have a set of large wooden gauges I made that run from about 4" R to 10" R in half inch increments for checking large bends.

Good old machine dressed blacksmith hammers had a radius crown and a heavy 45° chamfer. The two either blended together with use OR a well trained smith dressed the hammer to suit his/her self. As little attention as it is given (none that I could find) in the books on the subject I suspect that for the last 100 years or more North American smiths trusted the factory dress until the hammer wore out then redressed the hammer. The European tradition is different and the reason that German hammers come undressed with rough ground faces.

You could almost get away with defining a hammer by crown and weight but as Thomas pointed out in many type of work you need a long hammer to reach into various places. However, it WOULD be nice to see manufacturers give the crown in their specs.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/07 17:27:26 EDT

Guru; I'm sure somewhere is an equation for radius based on the length of a cord and the distance from the cord to the arc at the greatest point normal to the cord. Perhaps with a nice curve transfer tool or tracing it on a piece of drafting paper---surely easier than unrolling a roll of paper on the workbench and taking a string and a pencil and laying out arcs by 1/2" to 12' or so...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/04/07 17:49:07 EDT

Kajiya-In-Training: I think we have a failure to communicate.

In American English there is a unit of measure called a "mil." One mil = .001 inch = 0.0254 millimeters.

The abbreviation for millimeter in English is "mm."

I'm no guru, but I think 1 mm stainless would be adequate for a small forge body: The freon tanks often used for small forge bodies here are mild steel about 1 mm thick.

As for the cost/benefit ratio for adding Kaowool above 2", it depends on the cost of fuel. IIRC propane costs several dollars per liter in some places: Extra refractory makes more sense in those circumstances than it does here, where bulk propane is about $1.60/gallon, and twenty pound barbecue cylinders are $17.
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 09/04/07 17:56:27 EDT

Actually there are TWO units of measure in American English called mils: A unit of distance = 0.001 inch and a unit of angle = 1/6400 of a circle = 0.05625 degrees,
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 09/04/07 18:04:21 EDT

Thanks, Guru. If that isn't exactly a FAQ, at least it makes me feel a little less urgency about trying out Czech vs. Swedish vs. German hammers, etc. But I still have to know: what's with the weird half fuller on the French pattern hammers? It looks more complicated to make than a simpler, symmetrical fuller, so obviously someone thinks there's some advantage to it.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/04/07 18:25:01 EDT

Kajiya-in-Training. I am making an assumption but my Japanese friends at the Japanese owned American factory I work at called me a Kajiya, for lack of a better word. I am NOT a sword maker, and not really a blade maker at all. I do once in a while make a simple blade. I am a general blacksmith. Is there a better word to describe the blacksmith in Japanese?
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/04/07 19:19:34 EDT

Matt, The Czech and Hofi style hammers have a square rocker face. Swedish hammers have a squarish face and most I have seen had a non-directional crown (near radial at center transitioning to square). I think that French peen is just to be different. As the French say "vive la différence".

That offset French peen gives a 90° surface that some people like. Personally I don't get it either.

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/04/07 21:35:33 EDT

Oops! My apologies about the mil./mm mix up, I definitely meant 1 millimeter. Another thing about Kaowool; I've read that it puffs up when you start working with it, is there a way to compress it a bit, or does that seriously affect the insulating properties, like the R value with fiberglass insulation?
ptree- Neither the Japanese head foreman or the lead welder seem to know a better word for blacksmith, they said that perhaps 'Kajiya' encompasses all aspects of blacksmithing, but especially bladesmith. I'll definitely keep asking around though. However on a side note, 'Bankinkou' means 'sheet-metal worker', 'Yousetsukou' means 'welder', 'Daiku' means 'carpenter', 'Kagiya' means 'locksmith', 'Sakan' means 'mason', and 'tosohya' means 'painter'... talk about being a "Jack-of-all-trades, Master-of-none"! I really appreciate all your help, this site has been an awesome resource for me in the past, and I'm sure it will be in the future!
   Kajiya-In-Training - Tuesday, 09/04/07 23:58:35 EDT

Kaowool Expansion: The 1" blanket is compressed to about 5/8" to 3/4" in the carton. Cut and rerolled it may be a little thicker. The 1" is a nominal and the actual thickness varies from 7/8" to 1-1/4" depending on the batch or phase of the moon. Sadly the import stuff (Mexico and China) where TC built new plants is more uniform.

In use it does expand a little more as it relaxes but not too much. When arched in a tube it stays compressed fairly well and the biggest problem is snagging it and pulling it loose. However, under high heat it will lose all springyness and reelax. Coating it with ITC-100 seals it to prevent dust generation, raises the temperature rating, reflects more IR and keeps it from puffing up. It also gives the kaowool a modicum of protection.

   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/07 00:08:32 EDT


I have an old Franch hand hammer, originally from the Kenneth Lynch collection out of Wilton, CT. FYI, it has a rectangular face, 1 3/8" x 1 5/8", slightly crowned. It has the typical French peen. The corners leading toward the face are not chamfered, as are many of the German hammers and the Swedish pattern...speaking of which, I personally don't care for the long, light weight peen of the Swedish pattern.

My most used hammers are hanging near my anvil. Some hammers are aesthetically pleasing. I really like the earliest pattern, Heller Brothers farriers' rounding hammer. It has oval cheeks, 2 3/8" long, which on the outside, are concave. There is lots of steel-wood contact inside the eye. One face is what we call a ball face. It is not a ball peen. Peens are smaller than faces.

The Japanese hammers have a rectangular eye and only one working face, no usable peen as such.

One could write paragraphs about hafts, but it's bedtime.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/05/07 00:15:03 EDT

Re measurements,
Over here in England most of the time if I am refering to 1mm I will say 'one mil', on the other hand refering to .001 in imperial I would refer to this as 'one thou'.
These terms are common in most of the shops I have worked in.
   - Wayne - Wednesday, 09/05/07 06:50:13 EDT

Thanks for the reply concerning Phoenix Hammers. I just spoke to a guy in Concord,NC who has one of Tom's new models on order. He, like you, said that the hammers are worth the wait.
   mike s - Wednesday, 09/05/07 07:42:06 EDT

Re Kaowool, of course the Chinese made stuff is more precise. This is the land of tight tolerances and deadlines :-). If you believe that would you like to buy this genuine Rolex.............
   - philip in china - Wednesday, 09/05/07 09:09:40 EDT

Mike S. On the other hand for the price you can have TWO Big BLUs TODAY. Multiple hammers has some significant advantages such as not changing dies and finishing complicated forgings in one heat. It all depends on what you want to do and if you need the immediate productivity.

Today (its not posted yet) through the end of the month, Big BLU has a SHOW SPECIAL running where every hammer sold comes with TWO sets of dies. Pick any two pair. That's a $500 deal. On TWO hammers that would be $1000 and you would have four sets of the best dies made in the industry, BAR NONE.

I better get busy and post it. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/07 09:19:11 EDT

Whoops. I was wrong, their dies average $350/pair. So the savings on two hammers would be about $700.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/07 09:51:02 EDT

My favorite peen is on an older hammer, no name, that has about a 1" diameter peen curve---great for fullering! No chance of any cold shuts and a nice weight. I tend to use it instead of my Sweedish or French hammers when I want to fuller down stock. It's face is a bit more hemispherical, good for some things but tending more to leaving shallow dings when bladsmithing so I like the smooth rocker of my Sweedish hammer best for final forging of blades.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/05/07 10:52:31 EDT

Measurements and Units in Communication: What people say and what should be written are two different things. The only place I see mil used in the U.S. is on tape and sheet plastic products. Machinists here use thou (or thousandths) for ,001" and tenths for ten thousandths (.0001"). I've never heard mill used for mm. Sounds too much like ml (milliliters). But then I have had little experience working in a metric place of business.

Where things get very dicey is with M and m. Capital M is supposed to be miles and lowercase m meters. This confusion resulted in the destruction of a very expensive spacecraft. I always use the full word mile(s) for distance because it is MUCH too easy to confuse meters.

In sheet metal and wire gauge sizes Machinery's Handbook had an article long ago that said if you want to get what you intend then NEVER USE gauge sizes, always use a well defined dimension.

In the machine shop the difference between English and metric means little as everything is measured in very small and usually odd increments. When you modify an even dimension for press fits or running clearances it is all odd ball decimals in either system.

When I write for anvilfire or any technical document I use both English and metric units and try to use the size unit traditionaly used in the field. Which comes first depends on what units the original measurement was in. I REALLY HATE documents that use all metric units that were obviously derived from English units and then poorly converted and rounded. This should be an absolute rule to reduce errors.

I also work in some very non-traditional units. When building some musical instruments the best way to scale them to the user is to base the measurements of the individual person. In measuring and building the ancient Kithara (Greek box lyre) I've found that the personal cubit works best (From here on when I use cubit I am speaking of a personal unit not an historical one). It is easy to measure and translates to the proportions of this hand held lyre for the most comfortable use. To do this, the cubit (elbow to finger tips) is measured and a wooden scale made using dividers. The divisions needed are simple as the smallest unit needed is 1/8 Cubit. However, thirds and sixths are also used. We also layout a golden rectangle based on that cubit and divide it into fourths. It is marked on the back of our scale or on the layout grid.

Then my dimensioned drawings (intended to be memorized, not recorded) are in large basic units and fractions. A Kithara is 1 cubit wide with a 1 cubit long string. It is the Golden ratio tall. The base is 2/3 the width and the arms are each 1/6 with 1/3 spacing between. The central cutout is an oval 1/2 by 3/4 cubit and the bridge located 1/3 cubit from the base. Blending radii for the shape are all simple fractions of a cubit and their centers all fall on a simple fractional grid. All these are simple fractions many of which would be long decimals or complex measurements in other units.

The cubits I have used for this vary from 16 to 18" (406 to 457 mm). I found it interesting when I measured a woman who is as tall as I am and her cubit was 2" (50 mm) shorter. The reason for using these units is that it is easy to create a scale to measure the instruments in art and make comparisons regardless of scale. Then it is also easy to scale the instrument to the individual.

What units we use are not important as long as we understand what units we are using and their relationships. But it is more important to be clear about what units we are using when we communicate.

   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/07 11:41:53 EDT

This morning I called one of the local welding supply places to ask about hardfacing sticks. The guy didn't have what I was looking for, but made a sales pitch for what he did have. Then he told me my AC-225 is useless for hardfacing, and tried to sell me a new DC -- "for about fifty bucks more" than my AC machine (which seems unlikely, based on the prices I've seen for DC welders). According to him, AC-compatible hardfacing rods are rare and expensive.

Thing is, I've spent quite a bit of time recently looking at Lincoln's Hardfacing Guide, and the specs for many of their hardfacing electrodes. (Not because I'm obsessed with Lincoln, but because they make it easy to find a lot of information about their products.) According to Lincoln, nearly all their hardfacing sticks are compatible with AC. (Of course the beads may not be as pretty as with DC, but that's another issue.)

I don't mind a sales pitch, and I realize that there's a LOT I don't know about welding. But I get the feeling I've been flat-out lied to. If I'm right, I won't be giving that shop any business.

   Matt B - Wednesday, 09/05/07 12:43:35 EDT

Does anyone know of a blacksmith shop in Los Angeles that I should visit while on vacation?
   mike s - Wednesday, 09/05/07 12:45:25 EDT

Matt, Some welding stores like almost everywhere else hire kids off the street that learn a little on the job but don't really care. Others hire experienced welders with some training who are really interested in the field and spend time studying it. Sounds like you got the former (don't care).

I've been lucky to work with some shops that their people KNEW their stuff. When you run into the guys that don't then avoid them or the place. I've found that there are usually a couple guys among the duffuses that know a thing or two OR are willing to be helpful. I try to wait to be waited on by the useful folks. All the larger places I have delt had good countermen and so-so countermen. AND I have seen so-so countermen grow into good ones.

We recently went into a Lowes and asked for some lumber to be cut for hauling. The response was "we don't do that here". I had a list of about $400 worth of stuff, told the guy so and that I was going somewhere else and walked out. Another Lowes in the next county in a smaller town cut the lumber and gave excellent service. I would not have gone but my other half said that she always got good service from the other store. . . The sad part of this is that it was a SIMPLE problem. The first store had an old saw that the stock (two bys) would not fit. The second store did. Being all one chain you would have thought store A would send folks to store B for this. . . nope, stupid employee and WORSE, stupid manager. *I* would have never gone back, AND I will not go to THAT store even though it is slightly more convenient.

The Lincoln literature is some of the best and they KNOW their product.

DC generally gives better penetration when you need it OR a more fluid puddle when you need it. AC works well for most things but is sometimes a compromise. I've done 99% of all my welding with AC.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/07 14:11:36 EDT

LA Blacksmith: Mike try the CBA and see who they have listed. I THOUGHT I knew someone but he was up in the SF bay area.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/07 14:20:01 EDT

Hello, I've been working on an old bike. I know machining and used to work for a bike shop. I'm 50 is that grizzled enough? The kid I got the bike from dumped it on the right side and bent the 1/2 inch thick steel that supports the foot rests. Its not bent badly and needs maybe a 1/4 inch bend to pull it away from the engine case. Can I heat it up enough with a propane torch to bend it in my vise? Or do I need to take it to someone with a forge? Thanks
   Rick Mannhalter - Wednesday, 09/05/07 16:44:06 EDT

Rick, A common propane torch does not have enough BTU's for this job. An oxy-acetylene or oxy-propane torch will work. Most welding shops and many mechanics and even plumbers have this equipment.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/05/07 16:56:33 EDT

That's the sort of thing I might try cold as I doubt the original steel was hardened and tempered and it was not bent too badly. I would use my screw press---do you have access to a hydraulic press?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/05/07 17:25:18 EDT

A couple of years ago, National Geographic ran an article on the American Civil War. At the end they had a photo of women working in an armament plant. It looked *much* later than the Civil War. Somehow it didn't look American either. Then I read the caption. It was a French WWI plant. I hit myself on the forehead -- the woman in the foregound was using a *French* pattern hammer. You never know whan an obscure piece of knowledge might be useful . . .
   Mike B - Wednesday, 09/05/07 19:42:23 EDT

Hi Carbon Steel in the 1800's?
I work at a Fur trade historic site. I have been asked many times by visitors whether or not they had high carbon steel in the 1820-1860 era. I've looked in as many references I could find but never did find the answer. Does anyone know?

   Louis - Wednesday, 09/05/07 20:06:47 EDT


Shouldn't the plural of doofus be "doofi", as octopi is the plural of octopus? Inquiring doofi want to know...
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/05/07 20:06:58 EDT

On the other hand, one doofus is more than enough; we would be much better off if we had no need of a plural form. (grin)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/05/07 20:08:22 EDT


Yes, they did. The Bessemer process for mass-producing steel was invented in 1856, I believe. Before that, there were blister steel and other steels made in smaller lots. The Damascus steel (more properly called Wootz, I think) was being made in about the 4th or 5th century. So yes, they had steel, some of it high carbon, some medium and some low.

Many early tools were made of wrought iron with "steeled" bits or faces due to the scarcity and high price of steel before Bessemer. I have some old tools from the Colonia era in the Virgin Islands that have steeled bits and/or faces. One is a pretty nice slot punch with steeledpunch face and striking face, that I actually use from time to time. The wrought body is soft enough that it takes care not to bend the punch body.

Thomas can undoubtedly give you more accuratge dates and specific types of steels.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/05/07 20:20:18 EDT


During the fur trade era, much of the high carbon steel was made by "pot melting" where clay pots were charged with wrought iron, charcoal, and ferromanganese. The pots were coverd with lids and heated in furnaces. Each pot was teemed by an individual who was able to lift and pour using appropriate handling tools. The ingots thus made were later heated and rolled or hammered into usable bars.

In thinking about your period, knives were made of high carbon steel for edge holding ablility. Axes had high carbon bits. Flintlock frizzens were faced with high carbon steel. Fire steels were used with flint to create enough spark to ignite fires. I never heard of a "flint and iron kit." Some fire steels were forged of old, used files, and files were definitely of high carbon steel. Animal traps had springs of high carbon steel that could be hardened and given a spring temper.

An excellent book by Russell is "Firearms Traps and Tools of the Mountain Men."
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/05/07 22:55:09 EDT

More steel.

I should mention that in England, pot melted steel was most often called "cast steel" and in the U.S., it was termed "crucible steel."
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/05/07 22:58:06 EDT

To add to what Frank and vicopper wrote, if you want to get really detailed information, look for a 2 volume set under the title of Steelmaking Before Bessemer - Volume 1 deals primarily with carburizing and producing blister steels. Volume 2 follows the Huntsman process where steel was produced in the area around Sheffield, England by melting in covered clay crucibles and then teemed into molds. The process spread fairly rapidly, and they have an illustration showing production of crucible steels around Pittsburgh, PA in I believe the 1850's. Your best bet for finding the set is probably by Inter Library Loan, or possibly the used book market.

The use of wrought iron and high carbon steel continued over quite a time period - at last Quad State, Kim Thomas started the fire for his forging demo with an antique fire steel from Germany he'd purchased on Ebay - probably 15th/16th century. It was wrought iron with a small bit of high carbon steel inlaid into the striking surface & there was still enough left to make a spark. More recently, I picked up a socketed wood chisel that had been misused as a prybar - looks to me like late 1800's or early 1900's production and it's definitely a 2 material construction - the cutting edge is about 1/16" thick and sparks like high carbon steel, the overlay and bulk of the chisel exhibited a fibrous fracture that makes me think that its wrought.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 09/05/07 23:40:18 EDT

High Carbon Steel: What was considered "high carbon" then was a far cry from the "high carbon" of today. Old high carbon was rarely 90 point and most commonly about 70 point and decarburized badly in the forge. Modern high carbon steels are often over 1% but are only possible due to careful alloying and production methods. AND. . today many people equate "high carbon" with HSS (high speed steel) and alloy steels which are an altogether different animal.

As early as 1000 AD steel was an essential tool material and by the 1300's steel was high enough carbon to make drawing dies, files and hack saws (for metal). This did not change much until the 1700's when various improvements in manufacture was developed and makers specialized in steel making.

Louis, the answer is YES but it was very expensive because it was imported from Europe or New England.

Obscure Knowledge: One of the questions on "so you want to be a millionaire" was What is the name of a French topping made with egg whites? The answer was "glare". I knew this because in book binding and other places where you guild things you use a glue made from egg white and vinegar called "glare". It was the half million dollar question and nobody got it. . . On the other hand, I could never get past the pop culture questions like, what song did XXXX hip hop singer get a Grammy?
   - guru - Thursday, 09/06/07 00:17:43 EDT

Where is that wood work bench plans?
   - Tom H - Thursday, 09/06/07 07:08:52 EDT

Tom, I posted it under FAQ's, W, Woodworking Bench There is also a link in the Hammer-In. It is not really a plan but an article. I've got a couple other photos of benches to take and post later.

This is one of a series of articles in woodworking that will include a box bellows, and some other things of interest to blacksmiths. We already have some on pattern making (basics) and anvil stands of wood.

I also had a photo posted of a Chinese work holding bench last month that needs a home and this will give it somewhere to be linked to.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/06/07 09:13:55 EDT

High carbon: I got a bunch of files from a dollar store, about 7 x 1 x 1/8" all marked High Speed Steel. Nobody told the Chinese manufacturers that the packaging is supposed to say high CARBON steel. They make nice knife blanks.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 09/06/07 10:38:51 EDT

The Chinese bench and Sen article is now also posted.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/06/07 10:54:08 EDT

One point most of the crucible steel made by the huntsman process was made uing blister steel as the "raw material" if I recall that part in "Steelmaking Before Bessemer"

The melting of iron with various carbon compounds was more in the Wootz line of things, though Dr Feuerbach mentions that blooms straight from the bloomery may have been used as the starting material for wootz melts. (would sure add to the flux cap!)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/06/07 11:18:43 EDT

I had a blank in that Chinese Bench article. What I was trying to remember was "shaving horse".
   - guru - Thursday, 09/06/07 13:49:18 EDT

This is a follow up from a question I had about getting my side draft forge to draw.
The suggestions were varied and interesting. So I thought I would let you know what happened. I have an 8 inch pipe on top of an approx. 14 inch square 48 inch tall fire box. The opening was far too large. The suggestion was to have the opening 80 to 85 % of the area of the pipe. So I made a cover to reduce the opening to 6.5 inches square. It helped but not enough. The next suggestion was to install a hood to force the air around and draw more from the front. I did this and it works great now. I can still over power the draw if I crank it too hard but it works fine. The other suggestions I did not do. I already spent too much money on the 8 inch stack so 10, 12 or 14 inch was out of the question. Also the T at the top (as a rain cap, it works) is still there. But the draw now sounds like a blow torch. It sucks like a bandit. Now I can play to my hearts content.
Thanks for all the help.
Dan Pilarski
   Dan Pilarski - Thursday, 09/06/07 14:19:27 EDT


I also must thank all the Gurus here. I am in the process of installing a side draft stack on my forge. The forge sits next to the back wall. I made a plate, 14ga CRS x 24” x 24” with a 10” x 10” square cutout centered side to side, 1” from the bottom. I attached a 12”dia round duct pipe, 24”long, to the back of the plate, squaring the pipe behind the hole. I cut a hole thru the wall, and ran it out to an elbow, turning up. The pipe thru the wall tilts up slightly as it goes out. To this I plan to attach 12’ of pipe running up the outside of the building. I tested it last night, and even with the elbow alone, it draws, but not great. I know with the exterior stack it will draw perfectly well. A crud and simplified version of the drawings posted here and elsewhere, but functional. I will have to spend 38 bucks for the exterior stack from Lowe's, but I scrounged the rest from work!

Thanks again to Jock, Frank, Rich, Dave, Thomas, and any and all other gurus I’m forgetting to mention. I lurk here constantly, and have gleaned this and various other techniques for smithing.
   - Dave Leppo - Thursday, 09/06/07 14:54:38 EDT

Dan, Thanks for the report. These things vary a lot and often require tuning. Reducing cold air (from sides and top) makes the biggest difference.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/06/07 15:27:14 EDT

Thanks for the reply, a swag is all I was looking for. VERY scientific BTW.
   Richard - Thursday, 09/06/07 16:59:28 EDT

I am researching the makeup of wootz steel, and will hopefully try to make it using some of the old world methods. One part that i am not sure about, and is a new world part, is my gas forge. I know that gas forges can either reduce or oxidize metal. I am trying to keep all of the carbon in the metal taht i can, so how can i tune my burners to do this? can I still use the blower that I have hooked up to it, or will that create the wrong kind of flame. Also, how to I tell if the flame is right or not? Thanks for your help
   - chemistry geek - Thursday, 09/06/07 20:55:53 EDT

Wootz was traditionally made in sealed crucibles and fluxed so the outside atmosphere didn't play much of a part.

You will want to have neutral-reducing atmosphere anyway to help your crucibles last longer.

A blown gas forge is *MUCH* easier to adjust the atmosphere on than an aspirated forge.

There are several ways to judge the flame: 1 look at where it impinges in the forge and adjust for max brightness---that's close to neutral, then back off on the air or turn up the gas a bit. 2: look for the plume of unburned gas coming out of the furnace; a bit harder for most people to see. Adjust the mix till it burns the loudest and then back off.

Remember if you are going reducing you are creating Carbon Monoxide---great ventilation, (better then "good") and a CO monitor mandatory!

What are you going to try for your carbide former?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/06/07 22:20:43 EDT

I will use Fe3O4 for the iron ore, and add charcoal for the carbon to, hopefully, produce cemetite. Also there will be trace amounts of other materials, like silica. These will hopefully create the enviroment needed to make carbon nanotubes around the cemetite nanowires. Does this answer your question?
BTW, does anyone have any good advice or books to read up on to help with the forging of wootz into damascus, or is it truly a lost art?
   - chemistry geek - Thursday, 09/06/07 22:41:48 EDT

Wootz: CG, Folks like Al Pendray and Rick Furrer have done a lot of work in the area of making Wootz by the crucible reduction method. Much has been written in the bladesmiths forums and publications. They have had great successes and much scientific analysis has gone into their work.

These are folks that truly know their stuff and will probably dismiss any poser with a line of BS and a know it all attitude.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/06/07 23:14:00 EDT

I don't know anybody that made wootz directly from ore; everybody, including the folks in Merv seemed to be taking smelted iron and melting that to produce wootz.

You may want to look up Dr Feuerbachs site on Wootz, I have a copy of her thesis on Crucible Steel in Central Asia and found it quite interesting.

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/07/07 00:59:52 EDT

I have made cast steel (It is NOT Wootz) directly from pure magnetite ore and flux in a graphite crucible. Lots of waste as the iron gets bound up in the flux. Smelted iron or white cast is the way to go. For the flux cap the aforementioned Mr. Furrer says crushed Heineken bottles work the best both for glass chemistry and ease of aquisition, even though you sometimes have to empty them yourself. (grin!)

Do look up Dr. Feuerbach's research.

Wootz forging is far from a lost art, but it is devilishly difficult.
   Alan-L - Friday, 09/07/07 09:03:48 EDT

Ric Furrer often posts over at Swordforum.com; you might ask him details over there.

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/07/07 11:16:38 EDT

As a follow-up to my previous post: If you are making steel by reducing iron ore in an open crucible, flux or not, it is not wootz. It's cast steel. As Thomas pointed out, wootz is made in closed crucibles with all the variables in place so you don't have to contend with furnace atmosphere.

True wootz has a very specific alloying chemistry. You can make cast steel with dendritic carbide structures that are then manipulated during forging into the characteristic sheets, lines, and dots of wootz carbides, but if the chemistry isn't right it isn't wootz. See also fulad, bulat, bulad, and other central asian synonyms for wootz.
   Alan-L - Friday, 09/07/07 11:21:39 EDT

Back to sheet metal cone rollers:

If the law of supply and demand is still opperative it seems that manual sheet metal cone rollers are not needed by small volume fabricators. So I have been thinking about fabricating one for my own use. Here are my thoughts:

Assume the roller cones are turned on a lathe. Seems to me that even hard wood roler cones with embeded steel drive shaft rods would serve for light use.

How about the two drive cones being driven independently by hydraulic motors.

The hydraulic roller drive units could be either driven manually by a cranked gear pump unit or with a regulated motorized gear pump

Question 1: Can a gear pump unit be used as a roller drive motor ?

Question 2: If one of the roller motors were regulated for a lower pressure one might assume that the regulated roller would turn at a slower rate than the unregulated roller . Can one also assume that the effect of differential roller rotation rates would offer some assistance in the slip rate adjustment for rolling cones, and might this assist in rolling cones of a different proportion than the base rollers.

Question 3: What other problems would the independent hydraulic drive concept present.

   Dan - Friday, 09/07/07 12:58:41 EDT

Hey Dan.
I think you might be onto something here! While I can't offer to much advice about the hydraulics (my experience stops at valves, pumps, and cylinders on log splitters and tractors) I would offer up an opinion on making the rollers.

I would first turn down a cylinder with a diameter slightly greater than the base of the cone you are shooting for. Then, using an appropriate jig in a bandsaw, split the cylinder straight down the center. Carve out a gouge in each half of the cylinder and epoxy in a steel rod. Then epoxy both sides back together. Now you can support the wooden cylinder on the rod in the lathe as you turn down you cone to final dimensions.

Me and one of my buddies in high school used this method in a quest to make "indestructible drum sticks." (We also covered the outside with a heavy coat of fiberglass). It worked really well having the steel shaft down the center as far as strength was concerned. Unfortunately we managed to eventually crack the fiberglass and split the wood off of the stick. But i digress...

Another, maybe easier method would be to split the workpiece while it was still square, or IF you have a big enough lathe with appropriate steady rest and chuck, you might be able to run a long bit right down the center (my lathe wouldn't do this, but your's might).

I think the hardwood rollers would work pretty well for short runs. Also would be MUCH easier to make different sizes. Can't wait to see how this progresses.

Just a couple opinions and suggestions from
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Friday, 09/07/07 13:29:16 EDT


When I needed to turn a hardwood cylinder for a cassava grater drum I was making, I laminated the block from 5/4" ip using urethane glue. At what would be the center of the block, I used my router with a core-box bit to rout a half-found channel the length of the two pieces that met in the middle. This resulted in a nice 3/8" diameter bore that was true to the center of the block.

Since I really needed a 1-1/4" diameter shaft through the cylinder, I then took a 1-1/4" spade bit and welded a 3/8" rod about ten inches long to the point, careful to get it centered exactly. That rod acted as a pilot shaft for the spade bit cutters, keeping the 1-1/4" bore true to center. The steel shaft was a perfect press fit in the bore and I then mounted that in a pair of pillow blocks and spun it with a spare motor to turn it to round. Worked a treat, actually. The cassava grater is still in use some three or four years later.
   vicopper - Friday, 09/07/07 13:58:50 EDT


I did a similar thing for a DIY printing press once. The shaft was aluminium and the wood pine. A row of bolts were embedded in the wood before the final laminations were applied. The whole was turned between centers on a wood lathe. It worked OK.

In your case the steel shaft is going to be the tip of the conical roller. Everything will work fine except where the steel breaks through. The fine edge of the wood will chip and end up being a rough place. To avoid this the change from wood to steel should be at a shoulder. OR extra strong hardwood could be used with the steel NOT protruding. OR a solid epoxy fibreglass roll with steel shaft made as above. But I would go with cast and turned aluminum first (machined cones are so wasteful).

I think you are getting WAY TOO COMPLICATED with the hydraulic drive. If you are not into the casting then search around for someone else that does backyard home casting. Make patterns for the conical rolls and gears and have them cast.

To make the gear pattern (you only need ONE) I would lay it out in CAD. Print a template and glue them to the wood. Then, using a jewelers saw I would carefully saw out the teeth. For better accuracy I would turn the gear cross section first with the angled outer face and print templates for both top and bottom. Then I would saw to the outside edge of the lines (you can split a .010" line with a jewler's saw) THEN I would file the teeth to the center of the lines.

Note that these are loose operating gears with high clearances (narrower than normal teeth). In CAD you will need to layout three. ONE as the tooth, two to fit to. Then the one is duplicated X times in a circle. Most CAD prints to laser printers are as accurate as most machine tools.

There are other ways to do this but the original machines also had cast gears. They were cast iron then hand dressed. Today, if someone had a good 3 axis laser cutting machine these could be laser cut. You might want to consider going this route with straight teeth (two axis) then hand grinding and filing the angle. It is the same as your cones with the teeth all coming to a theoretical point at the center of the cones.

Hand crafting a machine is MUCH different than building a machine in a machine shop or manufacturing plant. Many parts are simply hand carved in metal (steel, brass, aluminium). When Henry Maudslay built his famous screw cutting lathes he made his master screws by HAND! He scribed a precision spiral down the polished screw stock then followed it by hand taking repeated cuts until the screw was cut. From these hand made masters other screws were cut at different pitches using a geared feed system. later a method was devised to make lead screws using a precision ramp to make the even more precision screw. But even this was based on parts derived from or made by hand.

The machine tool industry owes its existence to hand forged parts finished with hand forged and hand cut files and scrapers and a good eye. Today we have huge advantages over working this way even when we do not have the machines.
   - guru - Friday, 09/07/07 15:34:35 EDT

NOTE for the above. A coarse jeweler's saw blade is finer than the tolerance on those relatively large (4 DP?) gear teeth. With patience you could theoretically cut them to size with no filing or sanding. You could also cut them with a common (cheap) hand scroll saw and finish by hand.

Those teeth can also be laid out directly on the wood (or metal) with a pair of dividers, a scriber and a piece of string to generate the involute. Study gear tooth form carefully before starting. Machinery's Handbook is a good place to start.
   - guru - Friday, 09/07/07 16:06:08 EDT

While casting is a good way to go for metal rollers you could probably have blanks forged by almost anyone on this forum with a power hammer. You are probably looking at a 4" diameter billet about 5 or 6" long. Part would be drawn out for the shaft and a more convenient handling stub and the rest drawn out to the 12" (305mm)? long cone. I would allow a 1/4" on a side machining allowance, less if the smith thinks they can do better without going under size. But you would still need a lathe to machine the whole. A cone is 1/3 of a cylinder and THAT is a lot of chips.

Note that old time roller rolls had steel shafts and the rolls cast on. This provided a strong steel shaft and a stiffer higher friction cast iron roll.
   - guru - Friday, 09/07/07 16:42:40 EDT

I think it was Grant who years ago pointed out a neat way to detect atmospheres in a gas forge. Hold a piece of copper in the forge and let it get to at least a high black heat. Move it around. It will go dark in the oxidizing areas of the forge, and almost shiny in the reducing areas. It's pretty amazing how quicly the appearance changes as you move it around.

I guess if your forge is uniformly oxidizing or reducing -- mine isn't -- you'd have to adjust the mixture to see the color change.
   Mike BR - Friday, 09/07/07 16:54:58 EDT

That's a great trick, Mike. Thanks. I've noticed the color change you're talking about in copper, but its potential usefulness never occurred to me.
   Matt B - Friday, 09/07/07 17:21:38 EDT

I didn't think of this earlier, but I know of someone who specializes in small run iron and steel castings. I could probably direct you his way if you were interested. IIRC his prices seemed pretty reasonable (I was inquiring about a custom swage block). I believe they have a 100 and 300 lb furnace, so small runs and one offs are their specialty. The place is in south michigan, but i hesitate to say more since I don't have the owners permission to post his contact information on a public forum. Drop me an email if your interested.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Friday, 09/07/07 18:39:23 EDT

Could someone tell me some names of some good books about sand casting, I moreso need information on how to go about making the molds themselves.

   - Hollon - Friday, 09/07/07 20:52:23 EDT

forgemagic folks, email me for status info from Sparky.
   john Odom - Friday, 09/07/07 21:31:51 EDT

Question on a Champion Blower. I'm refurbishing one that has a different gear system than the traditional double hump camel back,(mouse ears on a slant). This one is called the "Lancaster Geared System". Is it a newer model than the other one or is it older? There are no Patent dates if anyone has a clue to it's age please speak up. Buy the way, giving up the "Thumper" handle if anyone recognizes the email address. I can play pretend for just so long.
   Roland G.(AKA Thumper) - Friday, 09/07/07 21:49:27 EDT

Hollon: check out backyardmetalcasting.com.
   JLW - Friday, 09/07/07 21:59:39 EDT

My copy of the 1909 Champion catalog shows both the 400 blower, and the Lancaster geared blower, as well as several other styles.
   Bernard Tappel - Friday, 09/07/07 22:53:50 EDT

Metal Casting Books: Look up Everything by C.W. Ammen. Also see our reviews of the books by Chastain.

If you are going to make patterns and let someone else cast them then all you need to be sure of is to have draft and clean logical parting lines (the split point of the draft). See our two iForge demos #98 and #99Molds 1 and Molds 2.

The actual making of the sand or plaster molds is quite an art while the pattern making is relatively simple INLESS you are dealing with a commercial foundry and most of them want production molds for making sand molds (no loose patterns).
   - guru - Friday, 09/07/07 23:21:00 EDT

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