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

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

This is an archive of posts from September 8 - 15, 2007 on the Guru's Den
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Hi, I have just purchased an Anvil with the letters B.K.N.S
on it with a Swastika under the letters.
It weighs 52 Lbs.It looks very old and the casting is not the best.Can you tell me something about it.Thanks Mark Colleran.
   Mark Colleran - Saturday, 09/08/07 08:11:58 EDT

Roland/Thumper, I have had two Lancasters, and I love 'em. Simple and sturdy and easy to adjust. Dunno the dates, though.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 09/08/07 09:07:28 EDT


If my metal lathe were up to the task I would follow up on Aaron's foundry source, or forge the cone before machining. The forging part would be hard going for my little Kuhn KO but I know a couple of smiths close by who have much larger hammers.

I am working on the metal lathe part of the equation now. The truth of the matter is I will never run off more than a hundred cones. Therefore, as Guru suggests, simple is good.

I do have heavy 42" bed length Rockwell wood lathe. The previous owner aspired to do metal spinning so it is equipped with an unusual array of chucks, accessories, and centers not normally a part of a wood lathe. This will allow me to embed a steel rod shaft in a wood billet using the router method. I will machine a shoulder into the shaft at the point end which will allow a tapered shoulder sleeve to be heated and shrink fit onto the end of the cone shaft .

Guru, even though the idea of filing/cutting conical gears-by hand sounds like fun, I think that I will keep that idea in reserve But why should I need to use gears or even conical gears at all ? What about using universal joints on one or both cone shafts ? It would be pretty easy to machine ball and slot UJ's in the end ot the drive shaft. What about using a chain and sprocket system to drive the rollers ?

Inany event new gears are also available in many standard sizes. Both new and used gears are available.


   Dan - Saturday, 09/08/07 09:30:05 EDT

Mark, In anvils very old and bad casting does not go together. Generally if they are old they are a forging or a fairly good casting. IF indeed it is cast, AND it is a poor quality casting then it is likely a cast iron forgery of some kind.

Otherwise I do not have a clue. Years ago we had a similar question but I do not think it was resolved. Did you find this anvil in the U.S.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/08/07 09:52:19 EDT

Chain and sprockets are a good way to go. The OEM's used gears because cast gears were cheap. U joints are used on big rolling mills. More parts is often a good make do way to go but it is expensive. One good pattern and you could have high strength zinc alloy gears by the dozen.

Most of the sawing and filing mentioned is for pattern making. However, early clocks had both wood and metal gears that were all hand made. Teeth were hack sawed, the waste broken out (like wood) then they were hand filed to shape. Turning the gear blanks on the lathe first assured some portion of accuracy.

I've often found in design that off the shelf parts have a lot of unseen expenses (starting with the supply chain profit). They rarely fit as-is. Gears and sprockets need to be bored and keyways broached OR they often need hubs fitted (pilots machined, parts made). We have spent more money in our own shop modifying parts that we should have had made in their entirety. I have a set of stock gears I bought to replace the back gears on one of my old drill presses. They originally cost about $500. Every one will have to be significantly modified. By the time I am done I could have had gears made to order that were right to start with. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 09/08/07 10:08:46 EDT

I have a Champion Blower & Forge Model No. 81 tack forge. What information do you have on it? During what period of time was it used?
   Andy Dillon - Saturday, 09/08/07 10:28:32 EDT

Andy, These are World War vintage (WWI, WWII) and use by the army in both wars. The company was out of business by Vietnam but our troops (such as in Afghanistan) still carry field shoeing equipment. Being "light an mobile" they do not carry forges in the field but do carry spare shoes and tools.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/08/07 15:34:19 EDT

I am restoring a Champion Blower. It has no identification numbers on it other than the number 55 stamped on the lip of the gearbox. My question is how do you remove the fan off of the shaft? and is the pin in the gearbox that fastens the handle shaft and the spur gear to the gearbox pinned in or screwed in?
   - John S - Saturday, 09/08/07 16:37:39 EDT


Where can a basic information on casting high strength zink alloy be found ?

Where can the correct alloy be purchased ?


   Dan - Saturday, 09/08/07 17:18:11 EDT

ZA-24, ZA-25 Dan, I would have to do some research on the net. ZA-24 or ZA-25 is what you want. These are zinc aluminium alloys and available in multi ingot form.

They melt at 800&3176;F and you pour them at 950-1,000&3176;F. Strength is equivalent to many bronzes and it makes a good bearing surface. They are most commonly used in die casting (metal molds) but can be cast in sand or plaster molds. They are very much like casting brass except for the lower melting point. Fumes from overheating should be avoided. Use good ventilation.

Years ago we had a small zinc foundry making parts in machined cast iron and steel molds. The trick to these for precision casting was the mold preheat had to be just right and a parting agent needed to be used as after several parts were made the steel could get tinned with the zinc and became very difficult to remove. ITC-213 is good for this purpose as well as priming steel melting pots to cover with ITC-100.

Very nice parts can be made in fine petro-bond sand molds. Petro-bond is an oil/qlycerine bonded sand that requires no moisture processing or other binders as does green sand. This make mold making MUCH easier and you get fairly smooth results. Cast gears could probably be used AS-IS.

The down side to the ZA alloys is they are not cheap. However, the reduced fuel needs, lower temperature handling and and part strength balance the costs.

Many white metal parts (those that turn dark gray) in automobiles, computers and other manufactured goods are made from these alloys. The frame on your floppy and hard drives are ZA alloys.


1) Do not breathe the fumes. Normally zinc casting is not too much of a problem with good ventilation but if you see the zinc flare (burn off with brilliant white and yellow flames) then you have a LOT of zinc in the air.

2) Steel pipe crucibles are commonly used. However, after about 3 or 4 melts the zinc will have eaten a hole in the crucible. A crucible pissing hot metal on you is no fun. To prevent this the crucible needs to be coated with a ceramic liner. ITC-213 followed by ITC-100 works well. However, it does break down and need to be replaced.

3) You must mix the alloy while melting and before pouring as the aluminium likes to seperate out and float to the top. The aluminium foam should be scraped every so often rather than re-used over and over changing the alloy balance.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/08/07 18:12:16 EDT

John S. Typically Champions have a keyway and key to position the gear on the shaft. They also have a set screw on the gear itself. I'm not sure of the pin you're talking about, but if it's plain and round it would probably be tapered, so you need to know which way to drive it out. The fan is normally held on with a square head set screw, but on a couple, I've seen a nut on the end of the shaft which held the fan in place, either would be visible without taking the fan housing apart.
   Roland - Saturday, 09/08/07 20:22:12 EDT

I will scan the page and email it to you. Basically, the catalog says the Lancaster geared blowers were built to meet the demand for a cheaper blower than the 400 and the Midway spiral geared blower that they made.
   Bernard Tappel - Saturday, 09/08/07 22:14:41 EDT

Guru, Thanks for your reply,Re Anvil BKNS with Swastika.
Im in Western Australia and the Anvil could have come from Java Indonesia so Im lead to believe.I was told it was World War relic made in Germany, but now I have my doubts.
Still would like to know the origin of it. Thankyou.Mark.
   Mark Colleran - Sunday, 09/09/07 00:34:15 EDT

Smith brand MB55A-510 oxygen acetylene torch

I need to buy a cutting torch, and I was looking at the Smith MB55A-510 setup. I will be cutting what most people would call large stuff, shapes out of plate one to two inches thick. Will this torch do it? At the top of the page it says "cuts up to 6"", and at the bottom it says that it cuts up to 5/8" with the tips supplied in the outfit. What kind of tip do I need to get? Are all torches created equally with only the type of tip deciding what size stock it will cut??
TY in advance
   Ty Murch - Sunday, 09/09/07 00:42:14 EDT

This is the PDF for the torch
   Ty Murch - Sunday, 09/09/07 00:43:07 EDT

Cutting torches:

Thestarting point for information on O/A cutting is your local welding school, community college welding course or welding supplier. O/A cutting can be safe and effective, or it can be dangerous and messy, depending entirely on the level of knowledge and skill of the operator.

Most general purpose cutting torches will cut up to 6" with the largest tip available - provided that you have sufficient gas and oxygen to operate that tip. With normal sized shop cylinders (140 acet/128 O2), you probably won't be able to do 6", though 2" wouldn't be a stretch.

Smith makes good torches, though I personally don't like them as well as Victor. What really matters though, is the support for the torch available at your local supplier. If the dealer is able to support it, then fine. If not, get whatever they can support or you'll be sorry in the long run. That particular set appears to be comparable to the Victor Journeyman or Tradesman set, and is a decent hobbyist's torch set. If you're planning to do a lot of cutting on 2" plate, or any at all on heavier plate, you'd be better off with a dedicated cutting torch, rather than a cutting head on a welding torch. I like a longer body on a cutting torch, to give me the reach for longer cuts without changing my position. Your needs and preferences may vary, of course.

Victor publishes a list for all its torches, indicating the required tip size and gas pressures for various welding/cutting tasks. Smith probably does too, if you can find it. My Victor Tradesman will cut 2" handily with a #3 tip, and a bit slower with a #2. For comparison purposes, I use a #0 tip for up to about 1/2 or 5/8", in mild steel.

For a blacksmith, 2" isn't really large stuff, by the way. 6" is large stuff. If I had to cut much plate in the 2" and up range, I'd want a pattern follower or a machine torch, rather than hand-held. At least a Bug-O for long straight cuts.
   vicopper - Sunday, 09/09/07 01:16:11 EDT

Mark Calleran: If you can send me a photograph of the logo I'll pass it along to Richard Postman, author of Anvils in America. He might know something about it. Please send as an attachment to an e-mail rather than in text - which takes a very long time to download. If lettering is raised, perhaps highlight them with caulk.

After WW-II my parents sponsored a refugee family from Germany. Willie said he had been a farrier in the Germany Army and served on the Russian front. While the Germany Army was mechanized, a lot of horses were still used. He noted any horse which became badly insured or lame ended up as supper.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 09/09/07 08:33:35 EDT

Torches: VIc has it right.

Most "full sized" torches will cut UP TO 6". That means that is the high limit. It is the same with heavy duty torches but they are better for the purpose. Doing so by hand is very very difficult and to do so well takes a closeness to your God that most of us do not have. The tip and as Rich noted the gas supply is important.

What gives a torch a large capacity is the internal orifice sizes and the length of the body for mixing and straightening the gas flow. Then you have the size of the center cutting orifice for the oxygen. This makes the most difference. The size and number of preheat jets vary but are not nearly as critical.

Not only do cutting tips come in various sizes and fuel types (propane cutting tips are VERY different) they are also made for special purposes with angled tips and special arrangements of preheat justs.

The literature that is important for your needs is


This covers SOME of the tips for the cutting attachment in the outfit you have selected. You would also be wise to check the propane tips to see if that torch takes those as well. THEN look at heating (rosebud) tips.

What you want in an OA welding/cutting outfit is support and room to grow. Many of the cheap import outfits have no support and the tips they come with ARE IT! Years ago I ran into this with a Sears outfit that only cost me $40 less than a Victor at the time. But when I went to buy tips Sears had stopped supporting the product and the only tips available were the ones that had originally come in the outfit, NO others.

I too prefer Victor over Smith but it is simply because that is what I replaced the Sears with. However, there were features of the Sears I liked such as the bronze goose neck welding attachment that used separate tips. The flare on the goose neck made it VERY handy to make a bracket to hang the torch on the edge of the forge. I found parts that adapted that goose neck to a Victor body and I call it my "Victman" torch. . .

When I setup a welding station again the Victman bracket will be attached to the economizer valve I have. Its the little things that often make a shop a pleasure to work in.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/09/07 10:25:14 EDT

Good morning, I am in the process of making my own gas forge. The i.d. are approx. 12x14x40 and I am having problems coming up with a burner. I tried 1 3/8 black pipe with forced air. I had plenty of heat but the flame didn't heat the metal enough to start to change colors after almost 5 min.

Do you have a design for a burner that I could use for my application? If so how many should I use and what psi should I run my propane at and air at If I need forced air at all.

Thank you for your time
   Craig Belland - Sunday, 09/09/07 10:30:34 EDT

Craig, 40" long is a huge forge. For faster heat up rates you would normally split the input into at least 3 ports for this size forge and 4 or 5 would be better. However, a single burner WILL work. I suspect you are just way under powered for this size forge. The proportions of blown burners are not critical, only total air and fuel. But if you are too small the flame velocity will be such that it will be blowing out of the forge OR if it is way to large you will get flash backs into the burner. I suspect that for a forge this size you need at least a 3" pipe. If divided then do so by equal cross sectional areas (as close as is possible with standard diameter pipe).

Also in a forge this size you are going to need a large fuel supply. A small 20-30 pound propane tank will freeze up about the time you get this forge up to operating temperatures. You are going to need a 100 pound bottle as a minimum.

AND. . even small gas forges can take 15 to 30 minutes to get up to full heat.

The "stupid gas burner" on our plans page will work if scaled up to 2-1/2" or 3" pipe. You could also use atmospheric burners. However, for a forge this size you are going to need about eight or ten 3/4" tube venturi burners 0R five or six 1" tube burners (just an educated guess). This would give a very even heat but the plumbing costs add up fast to make all these and run all the fuel distribution lines and separate valves.

NC-TOOL used to make a 12 burner forge about half this size. The reason for the large number of burners is the use of their ONE small size burner and modular construction. This reduced inventory and engineering costs but made an expensive forge. However, it also insured fairly even heat.

NC Twelve Burner Tunnel

* Twelve Burner Forge
* 6"H x 18"W x 28"L Firebox
* Operates on 4, 8 or 12 burners
* Weight - 225 lbs
   - guru - Sunday, 09/09/07 14:08:25 EDT

Simple Gas Forge Burner Page:

NOTE that PSI is relative and or irrelevant.

1) Flow controlled by pressure assumes some standard pipe diameter or controlling orifice. Flow (in volume per unit time) determines total heat or BRU's.

2) Small pressure gages are highly inaccurate, especially at low pressures. When new they are OK but they degrade rapidly. In most cases are only good for a general reference on a specific piece of equipment.

3) Flow from dissolved (scetylene) and liquid (propane, LNG. . ) fuel tanks is limited by the evaporation rate. This in turn is limited by the amount of warmth in the fuel and the amount of heat the bottle can absorb from the surrounding air at ambient temperatures. Normally this is about 1/7th the volume of the cylinder or bottle per hour. If you need more then you need a larger volume of fuel to start.

As the pressurized liquid at room temperature fuels evaporate they cool until they reach a cryogenic equilibrium temperature at which they can no longer evaporate. The cylinder will feel very cold or frost will form on the surface. This is a "frozen up" cylinder and the ice on the exterior has nothing to do with it.

More gas can be gotten out of small bottles by submerging them in water which gives them a larger heat sink. This is limited to about double the normal output. Eventually the water in the heat sink becomes too cold to help or starts to freeze.

Freeze up is a serious problem when running large forges on small tanks. Larger cylinders OR manifolded cylinders are required. Note that manifolding is costly and not as cost effective as just getting a larger bottle. The only time it is cost effective is when logistics absolutely prevent obtaining larger cylinders.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/09/07 14:33:06 EDT

I have just bought a Hattersley and Davidson powerhammer ,has anyone else got one and can you get spares eg springs
   simon ridley blacksmith - Sunday, 09/09/07 14:43:02 EDT

More about large forges: The larger the gas or oil forge the more fuel it consumes no matter how much work is run through it. The entire forge volume must be heated and it requires X amount of fuel to operate as a minimum.

These forges must be sized for the normal day to day jobs, NOT the maximum you would like or have occassional use for. For those large jobs you either cobble together a make-do forge or use a big torch and some fire bricks. If the big job becomes a regular job, then your regular forge becomes a large forge and your smaller forge drops to second place.

And THAT is my point. You need more than one forge if you are using oil or gas. Solid fuel forges are entirely different. They can be used for both large and small work as well as everything in between. For the average blacksmith shop at least 3 gas/oil forges are required for efficient fuel use.

Surprisingly large work comes out of small forges with planning. Large work almost always indicates a power hammer. This in turn means that small billets can be forged into long pieces that no longer fit the forge well OR after they are bent. Using gas and oil forges means planning for their efficient use.

Note that some people block off sections of their forge and do not operate the burner for that section.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/09/07 15:15:10 EDT

Mark Colleran:

I am almost positive there is an anvil cast in AU today with BK as the markings. Make in Sidney I believe. Perhaps the symbol is something other than a Nazi Swastika.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 09/09/07 15:41:23 EDT

Hattersley and Davidson:, a Sheffield enineering company in the early 1900's. They were an edge tool maker. Apparently in the 1920's they bought James Howarth and Sons of Bath Street, another leading manufacturer of edge tools and joiners tools, THEN Robert Sorby. A significant part of the sales were ice skates.

Robert Sorby Company www.robert-sorby.co.uk the famous maker of wood working tools is what is left of those companies.

I suspect Hattersley and Davidson built hammers primarily for themselves like much of 19th and 20th century industry made all kinds of tools and machines for them selves and sold a few to others. I suspect this is a long orphaned tool.

For springs for these old machines you carefully measure the originals and have replacements made to suit. Note that all springs tend to take a set (lose their shape) from sitting under tension or from use. Making a new spring requires estimating the length or curvature of the original before it lost its shape.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/09/07 15:43:44 EDT

Big forges:

Just for the heck of it, I tried to run some numbers. I assumed that a forge will use 1# propane per hour for each 100 cubic inches of volume. (That's equal to a little over 2#/hour for a 6"X6"X6" forge.)

On that basis, Craig's forge would burn 67 pounds of propane per hour. Combusting that much propane would use over half a ton of air. Moving the needed air through a 1-3/8" diameter tube would result in a velocity of about 65 MPH.

I'm not sure about my assumption that fuel consumption is proportional to forge volume, though. Heat loss through the forge walls should be proportional to surface area. If that's the driving factor, my numbers are much too high.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 09/09/07 16:37:31 EDT

Oops -- I used 1-3/8" for the *radius* of the burner. The correct velocity for a 1-3/8" diameter burner, given my assumptions, is about 260 MPH. *Big* difference. That's what I get for doing math half in my head and half on the Google calculator.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 09/09/07 16:53:18 EDT

Hi, I've made a few large bowls out of 1/4" plate. I'm going to polish them and heat them to a blue patina. I'd like to use a food safe finish on them to clear coat them. I like the effects in the past that I've gotten from tremclad clear. However it would be nice for my customers to have the beauty of a clear coat without any harsh chemical residue if they use the bowl for nuts or something like that. Any suggestions?
   Dan - Sunday, 09/09/07 17:27:11 EDT

Dan. Clear lacquer is the best you can do.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/09/07 18:23:10 EDT


What is the definition of " center to center " when applied to a metal lathe ? Center of what to center of what ?
   Dan - Sunday, 09/09/07 18:23:48 EDT

Center to Center: With a standard 60° dead centers in the spindle and in the tailstock with it pushed all the way back but not overhanging the ways it is the distance from point to point or possibly a quarter inch (8mm) longer for engagement of the center points in a shaft or mandrel.

This could also vary according to the centers used but most made on Morse tapers are pretty standard. Note that on some lathes with large diameter spindle holes that a special bushing is required to use the Morse taper center in the spindle. This is part of the standard equipment.

Swing is the diameter from the center of the spindle to the nearest obstructing point on the ways. Normally the the carriage wings are outside of this or roughly the same. The diameter that will fit over the carriage is not normally given but is good to know.

Se my article on Lathes

Hmm, I used "center to center" in the FAQ but did not define it. Will add.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/09/07 19:27:08 EDT

Lathes: This Winter I will be restoring an old late 1800's / early 1900's lathe. It needs a motor and everything is rusted almost to uselessness. It also has some moving damage. Its saving graces is that it has about a 14" swing and is over 60" between centers AND it has a wonderful 4 jaw combination scroll chuck that can be used for production turning of square stock. It also has its change gear set and face plate (I think).

The restoration will be a feature article.

This is the lathe in the true story referenced in the article linked above. It is my goal to have it setup and running for our 10th anniversary Hammer-In next spring. We will be demonstrating production tennon turning and heavy flame cutting using a lathe carriage to power the torch.

The lathe and other machinery will be used to make a railing using traditional joinery but no forging of parts other than upsetting rivets and tenons. Kind of anti-smithy but demonstrates how machine tools can be used in the blacksmith shop.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/09/07 20:11:20 EDT

Ty Murch-- Important you check out the bottle size vis a vis the thickness of the plate/torch size you are using or you can overdraw the bottle. Dangerous.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 09/09/07 20:25:49 EDT

Roland, Thanks for the help on the blower. I have removed the screw on the side of the fan but it does not want to budge. Would it be OK to email you photos of the blower?
   - John S - Sunday, 09/09/07 23:40:21 EDT

Wootz Steel, There is some pretty good 'hands on' information on making (or trying to make) wootz over at www.britishblades.com

The jist is .... a) its very time consuming to make, with no guarntees at all, and b) one youve managed to produce a smelt its very difficult to forge into a homogenous billet.
   - John N - Monday, 09/10/07 06:30:23 EDT

Chemistry Geek,

In addition to the suggestions from Thomas P and John N, you might look at the "Bloomers and Buttons" forum at forums.dfoggknives.com for info on making wootz. Rick Furrer posts there as well.
   Matt B - Monday, 09/10/07 09:08:20 EDT

Ty Murch: the Guru has touched on this; but if you plan to do a lot of cutting I would definitely look into Oxy-propane---it's a lot cheaper and getting around draw rate issues is a lot cheaper too; not to mention things like propane won't blow-up without O2 like Acetylene can!

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/10/07 11:34:52 EDT

ANNNNND. . . You may already have the propane bottle for the setup which may save a few hundred dollars.

However, there IS a difference in temperature and welding with propane is not quite the same. However, I think it is whatever you get used to.

Propane is definitely better if you are running a big rosebud for heating. Manifolding acetylene cylinders together is expensive and you may need three or more.
   - guru - Monday, 09/10/07 11:42:38 EDT

I have several Smith Torches and like them. They were recommended to me years ago by a welder friend because of the lifetime warrenty they have. Beacuse of this, you can oftne pick up Smith equipment inexpensivly at flea markets or auctions and have it serviced at little or no cost.
I have the SC (heavey duty) torches and have cut plate close to 3" thick without difficulty. The tips needed for various plate thicknesses are given in the cataloge linked in an earlier post. These can ususally be purchased for around $15 each. The torches I have include a built-in flashback arestor.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 09/10/07 13:12:05 EDT

Ken: " He noted any horse which became badly insured or lame ended up as supper." Does this imply the horse carried only liability insurance? I think this is still true of moterists today. The insurance companies eat them alive.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/10/07 14:28:11 EDT

Guru; I was not recommending propane for welding merely for cutting---like a lot of industrial shops use! I agree that it makes sense for heating too.

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/10/07 15:09:45 EDT

This recent discussion of O/A vs. oxy-propane comes at a good time. Later this week I'll be traveling to Indiana (from Virginia) to pick up two O/A rigs that belonged to an uncle who recently passed away. I'm pretty sure one of them had previously belonged to my father, and if I'm right then it's at least twenty years old. I won't know what brand(s) they are, or how complete they are, until I get there. (Note: I'll be getting all the gear inspected before I start home with any of it. I've already called ahead and found a shop that can do it for me.)

Now here's the question: assuming at least one rig is still functional and reasonably complete, would I be better off selling it/them and buying a new oxy-propane rig with the proceeds? I'd like to have a torch mainly for cutting heavy plate, and maybe occasional brazing jobs that are too big for a plumber's torch. My arc welder serves my welding needs pretty well, so I'm not too concerned about that. I have basically zero experience with oxy-gas cutting and probably will learn mainly by reading, followed by trial and error. (I know that's going to make some of you cringe, but I just don't have the time for formal classes.) I get the impression that propane would probably be a safer gas to learn on (at least for someone who'll be largely self-taught), and safer to have around altogether. So I'm leaning slightly toward propane. Advice?
   Matt B - Monday, 09/10/07 15:43:54 EDT

Oxy-Acetylene Equipment: Matt, Much of this equipment has not changed in 50 years and some specific models are identical 40 years later. Victor tips for their new torches fit the 50 year old equipment I have as well as the newer.

Depending on the brand. . .

The primary thing that happens to torch tips is they get mechanically or thermally damaged (melted). This can often be repaired OR they can be replaced. Cutting tips are a consumable in heavy use. I've faced off all kinds of tips on the lathe, taking as much as 1/8" off, cleaned the bores with a number drill and had them work perfectly. The other thing that goes wrong is the o-rings fail. I would get all new o-rings on old equipment. They are cheap and easy to replace.

The worst thing that commonly happens to torch bodies is some idiot uses a gorilla grip to close the valves wrecking the seats. All it takes is once. These can be repaired in some cases, just put up with in others. But if they leak they need to be repaired or replaced. In general a new torch body is in order if valves need replacing. Threads also get damaged. But if the attaching nuts fit smoothly then it is OK.

Regulators have various lives depending on how they are treated, where they are used, stored and how good they were to start. Good two stage regulators are usually worth rebuilding IF you have a good repair station locally.

Old hoses should be replaced. Period.

The cylinders MAY or may NOT belong to your family. The laws covering their ownership and use varies from state to state. In Virginia I have long term leases on cylinders. In NC Paw-Paw owned numerous cylinders. In both cases they are traded in to refill. Cylinders cost me as much as a new OA setup every 5 years.

Education: IF you are going to self teach then get a GOOD welding text book AND a good industrial safety book. Then STUDY both. The pair will cost about half of what an oxy-acetylene set will cost without cylinders and more than night classes at the community college. There are LOTS of safety rules and VERY GOOD reasons for them. It helps to understand the reason WHY you never EVER use an acetylene cylinder horizontally.

If they are Smith or Victor sets I would toss them in the car and bring them home then have them looked at. Used they are worth 1/4 to 1/5 of what new will cost.

Propane is not necessarily safer. It does not self destruct under pressure. But it does settle or collect in pools near the floor if you have a leak. Fire safety rules and some insurance does not allow propane but ignores acetylene because it dissipates and is not the fire hazzard propane is.
   - guru - Monday, 09/10/07 17:23:28 EDT

Well if you ding a propane tank you get a dented propane tank, replace ASAP. You ding an Acetylene tank you may get an explosion. You have some fool drive over your hoses with a forklift using propane and as long as they are not broken you are OK, the same incident with acetylene may cause the acteylene to exothermically react. You over draw a tank with propane and it freezes up; you overdraw with acetylene and you're getting the acetone used to dissolve the acetylene out of a tank, etc little things like that make me feel that the Acetylene is a bit touchier...Shoot you shouldn't even think of cutting an old acetylene tank to make a bell of it!

Of course O2 at very high pressures is down right scary too; but as we have to use it we have to live with it.

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/10/07 18:00:25 EDT


My neighbor has a 1936 coal forge that he would like to trade for some work being done around his home. His problem is he doesn't know what it would be worth. he has an interested party but wants to be fair with the price. He's ask me to help him find a ballpark idea of it's value. Would you be able to point me in the right direction? I am really in over my head as I had never seen one before. What do I need to know and where do I need to go to find it's approximate worth. I know it was factory made (but don't know the name) and it has an original anvil.(?) Any help at all would be much appriciated.

Thanks in advance,

Paducah KY
   Lisa Barnett - Monday, 09/10/07 18:48:18 EDT

I bought a Victor set at a local welding dealer. By the time I bought the oxygen tank and one propane tip each for cutting and welding, it cost as much as the O/A package with both tanks and a cart. Knock-off tips would have been quite a bit cheaper, though.

I'll probably save money in the long run, but the real reason I went with propane is I don't have a pick up truck and don't want to haul acetylene in my car. The tooth fairy brings my propane. (Actually there *is* a service here that will exchange propane tanks at your house for a few dollars more it costs to fill them. A 20# tank lasts a *long* time on the torch, so the delivery cost would be negligible.)
   Mike BR - Monday, 09/10/07 18:58:53 EDT

Lisa, think of it as a used car; what would you post about a car you wanted to finhd out the value for? Make, Model, age, size, condition, acessories, etc. A picture is pretty much mandatory to get a decent idea as well as the general location---forge equipment is about twice as much where I live in NM than where I used to live in OH.

A forge will generally go somewhere between 0 and a couple of hundred US$. I have seen one go for $1500; but it was a mint condition---unused massive cast iron "RR forge" by either Champion or Buffalo I don't recall and it had every original bell and whistle you could get on it. still had the original paint on it *everywhere*.

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/10/07 19:34:50 EDT

O/A Torch Sets: Unless You plan to do a lot of heavy cutting& heating it might be cheaper to use the O/A equipment You inherit rather than buy new tips and hose for propane. Most acetylene regulators are usable on propane, you SHOULD use grade "T" hose for propane, altho many don't. Welding suply shops will have a good selection of propane tips, but farm stores & home centers will probably only have acytelene tips, and probably only for Victor & Harris. The brands that are readily available are Victor, Harris, Smith, Airco/Concoa and Prestolite/Purox/Oxweld. Other brands if not made by or copied from these brands are hard to get tips for. There are adapters made to use universal tips for many but not all of the obscure cutting torches, if You end up with those brands post again and I will find it for You.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 09/10/07 21:40:19 EDT

I am going to build a coal burning forge out of brick. Does anybody have any suggestions, plans etc. I already have a couple of fans which I have been using on my existing home made forge. I propose to use one of these. Would there be any advantage in running an intake hose for the fan alongside or inside the brick chimney to give a preheat to the air? Any suggestions or help would be very useful as I need to get this right first time!
   philip in china - Monday, 09/10/07 21:50:35 EDT

Thanks all for the food for thought. I got some good literature from Smith, and the local welding supply is having an open house this Thursday where a Smith Equipment rep will also be.
   Ty Murch - Monday, 09/10/07 22:04:34 EDT

John S.
Sure, email the pic's when you get around to it. Just click on my name below and an email form should appear.
   Roland - Monday, 09/10/07 23:15:43 EDT

Guru said to get a good text book try "The Welders Bible". I bought mine at a local library for $5.00 cause it hadn't been checked out in 2 years.
   Roland - Monday, 09/10/07 23:22:42 EDT

What are the correct settings for a rosebud? Just about every time I get the torch adjusted to a nuetral flame it pops and blows itself out. Or do I have a leaking o-ring problem?

   - Ben - Tuesday, 09/11/07 00:12:39 EDT

Forge Price: Lisa, See Thomas's post between here and yours. Average price for old used rusty forges is in the $150 to $300 range and that is often the value of the hand crank blower and the rest is going with it. But as Thomas mentioned there are good old forges and junk old forges. Demand also varies with location. On the West Coast of the U.S. everything is higher than the East. In the Rust Belt the prices above are considered "high retail" as apposed to wholesale which is what you can pay locally and then haul out of the region to resell.

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/11/07 00:15:22 EDT

Modern Welding: This is the text book I have from the 1970's. Authors and publishers vary as this is a constantly updated reference.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/11/07 00:16:35 EDT

Rose Bud, Big OA tips: Ben, you are probably trying to adjust the tip too low. These generally look, sound and feel like you have a small rocket engine in your hand. Crank it UP! If you try to run any tip too low for its size the gases are moving slower than the flame front velocity. Fire going into the tip is what makes it pop off.

The small 1/2" diameter OA rosebud that comes with most OA sets requires at a minimum a "full sized" (I think 140 cu/Ft) acetylene cylinder to operate for an hour or so. The bigger ones (3/4 and 1") require manifolded cylinders to operate for more than a minute of so. Usually a cylinder is beyond its 1/7 draw down rate just lighting the torch. If you are operating one of these big tips it is serious business.

Oxy-Propane rose buds are similar but not quite as noisy and have a "gentler" flame. They are still a powerful device.

If you are going to use a rose bud for any significant time an economizer valve is a very good investment. These turn off both the oxygen and the fuel when you set the torch on the valve arm. When you pick up the torch there is a pilot flame to light the torch from.

Economizer valves provide more safety than economy. By providing someplace to set down the torch and turn it off automatically you are not forced to find somewhere supposedly safe to set down the flaming/hot torch to make an adjust to what you are heating. It also lets you adjust the torch once then get about your business without readjusting the torch every time you light it. Having that noisy rocket engine of a flame OFF while you are doing other work also gives peace of mind, letting you THINK about what you are doing. Even when there is someone else to hold the torch it is still a problem as to which direction it is pointed.

As Martha Stewart might say from the prison workshop, "Economizer valves are a good thing".

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/11/07 00:33:27 EDT

Forge in China:

Phillip, I have seen that odd compressed coal you are using. Look close at what the local smiths are using OR ask them about it. I think that "free" fuel is costing you more than it is worth. A forge for it may need to be a specialty design.

There are two basic types of masonry forges. The early side blown type and the fire pot type. Most modern masonry forges are built around a commercial fire pot, tuyeer with ash dump and blower system. The hardware is accessed via an arch or square opening with steel lintel. The details are determined by the hardware.

Then there is the old side blown type. These were a flat masonry table with or without a raised edge the air coming in through the back via about a brick to brick thickness (2-1/4") square hole. The bellows or blower was attached at the back of the chimney. You can improve this slightly by making a "fire pot" area just in front of the hole about a foot square and rising one brick thick to the hearth top. The air hole is still at the bottom corner of the "fire pot". Most of the forge hearth surface is for fuel reserve. You dump and store fuel at the foot of the hearth and work it toward the fire as needed. This also provides some support for long work.

Common to both and the most critical thing is the chimney itself which is usually a side draft type. Look at our side draft forge hood designs and copy that in brick. These in turn were based on brick forges. This is where the needless "smoke shelf" comes in. They are a practicality in brick construction when merging from the sloped side draft port into the large chimney.

IF you build a "hood" type masonry forge like the old European style seen in Diderot's then the chimney or stack is nearly as big as the hood opening.

There are some variations for fuel type. Some fuels, charcoal, coke, anthracite and bad grades of coal require a deeper fire bed in order to stay burning and create a good heat. Knowing your local fuel is important to forge design.

Top grade coal needs the shallowest forge and will create a welding heat just flush to the top of most commercial firepots. Lesser coals, coke and charcoal require a fuel bed several inches deeper. Poorly coaled wood, foundry coke, anthracite and poor coal requrire a fire bed 8 to 10" deep.

The above is for general smithing. For small jewelery and small craft work a smaller forge works with charcoal and good coal. For commercial work you increase the depth about 50% and double the area of the forge.

In your case I would do a lot more testing with fuels and forge configuration (use loose stacked brick). A good blower also makes a big difference.

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/11/07 01:02:34 EDT

Thanks for that. We have now got a source of smithing coal which is vastly superior to the free stuff. The US$250 per ton price tag hasn't bankrupted us yet. I will design and build in loose brick as you suggest until I get it right.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 09/11/07 02:26:48 EDT

I am building a coal forge. What kind of electric blower should I get and where do I get it? Thanks
   joe herring - Tuesday, 09/11/07 10:50:26 EDT

Rosebuds and economizer valves:

Guru, you forgot to mention the sound effect that happens when you hang up the rosebud. Some folks are startled when they do that, being under the impression that someone has just shot at them!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/11/07 10:51:35 EDT

Joe, If you have a budget for good new hardware both BlacksmithsDepot and Centaur Forge sell coal forge blowers. Click on the drop down menu at the upper right and look under advertisers.

Size depends on the size of your forge. However, coal forges are known for their flexibility and wide range of use. They are only limited by their blower. You can do less with more but not more with less.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/11/07 11:03:40 EDT

Rosebuds, Alan, Its not as bad as relighting one with too little gas and having it sound like a machine gun.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/11/07 11:05:06 EDT

have any of you ever tried Mapps gas? Iused it for 7 years welding for our local Case dealer.It works great with . rosebud and gouging and the cutting tips are two pieces it outlasts aceteleyne at least 5 to one.
   - marlin - Tuesday, 09/11/07 13:02:21 EDT

Anybody know what happed to forgemagic chat room.
   bill - Tuesday, 09/11/07 13:33:17 EDT

Thanks for the input on the OA torches, and OA vs. OP. Let me see what I find when I get out there, then I'll probably have more questions.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/11/07 13:51:38 EDT

Bill, from what I understand Sparky got a new job and the site was hosted by his old one. He's trying to get it back together on another server, see his post in the hammer-in.

   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/11/07 14:02:06 EDT

Lisa-- when you say "forge," what all are you including in that? Are you using the word as it is sometimes employed, to mean a smithy, an entire blacksmith shop? You mention that the forge includes an "original anvil." If so, that would boost the price wayyyyyyyy beyond the price of just the coal-burning forge or hearth alone. Other tooling would mean yet more of an increase. As Thomas said, you need to post more details.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/11/07 15:59:32 EDT

can you use lemon juice concentrate to polish up whitesmith items that have rusted a very little bit? I have a photo shoot comming up and i need to clean some things up.
   coolhand - Tuesday, 09/11/07 18:16:45 EDT

Coolhand, I have never used citric acid (all citrus fruits) but vinegar works fairly well. But I prefer a fine wire brush or steel wool. In fact SOS pads with the soap work OK and clean while they polish. A lot depends on your original finish.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/11/07 18:36:54 EDT

Miles, Thomas and ,guru --

Thanks for the info...I'll see what other details I can find and post them. Thanks so much for your help. My neighbor says he used the forge as a child and it was his dad's. It's not an entire shop, it's about the size of an office desk.


   Lisa Barnett - Tuesday, 09/11/07 18:47:49 EDT

Lisa-- You're welcome! You should buy it and take up the craft-- but just out of curiosity, tell us, where does the "original anvil" come into the deal?
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/11/07 22:16:25 EDT

I just went to the anvilfire store and tried to renew my CSI membership for another year. I filled out the information (screen name ,password ...) then clicked the "process order" buton and nothing happened. Is there a problem on your end ?
   Harley - Wednesday, 09/12/07 03:35:29 EDT

Harley, I can't figure it out. It still works fine with IE and Netscape but my copy of Firefox does not work. The previous version of Firefox worked fine. I suspect it has to do with Java applets.

You can also go (preffered) to the CSI page and signup or renew through PayPal. CSI.anvilfire.org
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/12/07 08:34:47 EDT

I have some old iron cooking utensils, heavy iron meat forks, iron spatula and ladle, that were in an old Acadian cypress house which we bought. I am familiar with cast iron cookware and the method of baking/burning oil on them to protect the metal, but of course the utensils are not cast iron. They had some surface rust on them which we cleaned off using naval jelly and soft wire brush. What is the correct method for coating this type of old iron utensil that will still allow it to be used in some cooking? Thanks Charles.
   charles - Wednesday, 09/12/07 09:21:24 EDT

Do you mean rust protection or seasoning?
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 09/12/07 10:20:54 EDT

What kind of steel is used for the bar on a chainsaw.
Would this be advisable for knife building
   rockingwj - Wednesday, 09/12/07 12:09:13 EDT

Rockingwi, Whatever steel the manufacturer selects. And probably not. See our Junk Yard Steel FAQ
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/12/07 12:26:03 EDT


Chainbar is usually an abrasion-resistant steel, rather than high-carbon, and not suitable for edged tools or weapons. If you want/need to use salvaged steel, look for old files or truck springs. Old files are likely to be something on the order of 1095 carbon steel, and truck springs are likely to be 5160 or similar.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/12/07 13:10:23 EDT

I've had pretty good luck with old chisels and star drills too; spark testing them against known carbon content standards a lot of them have been in the 80-90-100 point range. This is for hand held stuff the powered stuff is often lower to take the greater stresses.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/12/07 13:16:52 EDT

I have also been having some problems with javascripts and the newest firefox browser. I think your intuitive suspicions are correct

Thought this may or may not be of some interest to Mr. Postman.
Ebay #110167107194
Being a Kirkstall owner myself, I was half tempted to take out a loan and jump in on the bidding. That beast would make the perfect complement to my little 150lb London pattern! Then I remembered I am married :)
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Wednesday, 09/12/07 13:17:35 EDT


For utensils, I'd recommend that you simply heat them up to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit and wipe on a light coating of corn oil. Then put them in the oven at about 250 degrees for a couple of hours. The corn oil will polymerize and form a varnish-like coating, the same way it does on cast iron. When you use the utensils, wash them with soap and water, and dry them thoroughly. I have a gas stove and I put them in the oven to dry; the small amount of heat form the pilot light drys things nicely. From time to time, you'll need to re-oil the utensils the same way as the first time. If you start to get a build-up of polymerized oil, a quick going-over with fine steel wool will cut it back down.

Since you have already used the Naval Jelly, it won't do any good to tell you not to. That stuff makes the steel surface more prone to future rusting, as it etches the surface of the steel, effectively increasng the surface area available for oxidation. The good part is, that same etching action will make the surface hold the oil better. Henceforth, if you see any rust, use some fine (000 or 0000) steel wool to remove it.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/12/07 13:19:17 EDT

Cooking Utensils: About the only thing that is safe on bare steel cooking and eating utensils is a very thin coat of mineral oil. This prevents rust to a degree and does not go rancid like vegetable oil. If you use vegetable oil to prevent rust it should be throughly washed off before use.

Mineral oil is used as a laxative and stool softener but small quantities will not effect you. Pure mineral oil is used in commercial cooking as a separating (non stick) agent for bread pans and trays and as a food safe lubricant anywhere it might drip into the food.

Be sure to throughly neutralize that naval jelly before any food use. Rinsing in vinegar followed by clear water then baking soda in water and clear water again will do the trick.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/12/07 13:23:26 EDT

NOTE: Vicopper's baked oil finish is fine. I just prefer not to use it.

In any utensil, especially those with riveted joints and separate wood or metal handles where there are fine crevices various oils such as from meats can get in the crevices and go rancid and possibly cause food poisoning at a later date. Cleaning in very hot (to boiling) water is recommended.

Pre-oiling helps prevent food stuffs and oils from getting into those crevices and makes them easier to wash out.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/12/07 13:30:11 EDT

Marlin - I use Mapp gas exclusively when I play plumber: It heats the joint MUCH quicker than plain ol' propane, and avoids the hassle of dragging around a comparatively fragile cylinder of acetylene.

I haven't tried it with oxygen, but I understand it should burn hotter than propane, but not as hot as acetylene. Probably would be OK to fusion weld with, where propane does not work well.

On a rig I was only going to use for cutting or heating, I'd stick with oxy-propane. For cutting the flame temperature makes less of a difference so long as the BTUs get delivered. Likewise for the gas forge, 'though seems like someone gets a welding heat in a one-brick microforge using MAPP.
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 09/12/07 17:01:51 EDT

Thanks, I just renewed my CSI membership for another year. To any who frequent this site..... I strongly urge you to pony up the $1.00/ wk for CSI dues....not even the cost of a cup of coffee a week to help support this wealth of information about our craft. Think about it , less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week. Well worth it in my book.
This message brought to you by the color blue.
   Harley - Wednesday, 09/12/07 19:31:27 EDT

Hello, I'm making a pair of rather intricate sword blades and have a question regarding the heat treating. I'm new to steel but have been sculpting in bronze for several years. the blades are cut from 3/16" thick HR 1075/80 carbon steel obtained from Admiral Steel. they are a little over 3' long, 4" wide at the widest areas and tapering to diamond cross section points. One has large scallops along the cutting edge. The cross sections were shaped by stock removal. I'm planning on hardening them at 1500 degrees, guenching in used ATF, and tempering for an hour at 700 degrees. As I shaped their cross sections I brought them down to a somewhat sharp edge which I now think may have been a mistake as I believe this fine edge will be prone to stress cracking during the heat treatment. My question is: Am I correct in thinking that I should have left a thicker edge on them and if so, is there anything I can do now to prevent cracks in the edge as I heat treat them?
   Jeffrey Robinson - Wednesday, 09/12/07 20:38:06 EDT


What about citric acid for treating rust in lieu of phosphoric acid based products ?
   Dan - Wednesday, 09/12/07 21:04:17 EDT


Citric acid doesn't do what phosphoric acid does, when it comes to rust. It is a relatively weaker acid, and is much less effective at reducing the rust, or dissolving it away. Also, phosphoric acid will react with the iron oxide, forming iron sulfate, which is resistant to rust. Citric acid can't do that.

I don't see any advantage to citric acid over phosphoric acid for our purposes. It does have an advantage in passivating stainless steel, but not for carbon steels. Phosphoric acid is not too bad as far as disposal goes, either. Plants like it.

John Odom can probably give you more in depth information about the chemistry involved and th relative merits of the two acids for rust treatment.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/12/07 21:29:08 EDT


I'm a blacksmith who's made a few knives. I leave my knife edges at least 1/32" to 1/16 thick before hardening and tempering. One of the reasons is to help prevent warping when hardening. It often happens that the blade will warp, especially high carbon steel. Another thought. You'll lose a sharp edge when heating to a red heat to harden. It will turn into "ash", so why bother? A waste of time, I say.

I'm not sure whether coating the edge will help or not. I don't know your heat source, but in a hot coal fire, a knife blade can soak (no blower) and the thick and thin parts will come up to the same red heat. If the blower is used, the thin parts get hotter than the thick. You want a uniform hardening heat, thick to thin.

Brownell's of Montezuma, Iowa, sells their own brand of "Heat Stop". There is also a product called alundum cement which I've not used, but it is a heat resist.
An old saying:
"If with a blade you would win,
Forge it thick; grind it thin."

The meaning is that the final grinding, honing, whetting, and polishing are done after hardening and tempering.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/12/07 21:44:55 EDT

I am in need of a set of dyes ( top & bottom) for a twenty five pound little giant power hammer.
   Dwayne Kent - Wednesday, 09/12/07 22:03:24 EDT

Dwayne, See our Power Hammer Page, List of Manufacturers. See Sid Sudemeier and the Link to his Little Giant site. Be SURE to tell him you are the dozenth person we have sent to him this year!

Be prepared to tell him the serial number of your hammer. Its on a machined flat on the frame.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/12/07 23:17:25 EDT

Jeffery are you sure about that draw temp for a straight steel? 700 degF sounds awfully high to me!

Thomas off for the next couple of days smithing at the NM state fair; y'all stop by and say Hey!
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/12/07 23:57:53 EDT

Jeffrey, go see www.dfoggknives.com. The swordsmiths over there are very knowledgeable and can give you advise from first hand experiences. Not to say our own folks don't know about swordsmithing but most of us are not primarily bladesmiths. You will probably want to normalize the blade once or twice before hardening since tapered cross sections are prone to warping if not perfectly shaped..
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 09/13/07 06:40:36 EDT

Guru, in the post about citric acid vs phosphoric acid for rust, did you perhaps mean the phosphoric would leave an iron phosphate surface?
In "Parkerizing" and many of the phosphatizing (the generic term) phosphoric acid is used to make a black to grey surface, slightly crystaline, to hold an oil coating for rust prevention, and Bonderizing is the same process but without the oil. Gives a great surface prep for primer and paint.
I have used quite a few chemistries in the valve plant, to production phosphatize steel. Some left an ferro-phosphate, some a zinc-phosphate and some a magnesiem-phosphate, depending on what the phosphate is amended with, but I do not believe I have seen a iron sulfate.

The modifiers give different size crystals, some give a "Micro-zinc" etc. The first step was very hot caustic to strip oil,grease and dirt. Then a strong, hot phosphoric to pickle, which blew the rust and scale off. Then a more dilute, amended phosphoric for the parkerizing, and then air dry oil. Of course a water rinse between each bath.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/13/07 07:04:01 EDT


The reason I asked the question about citric acid was that a water systems engineer once told me that they use in maintaining public water systems. I have never confirmed this but thought that, if true, it would be a good rusty pot treatment.

Theoretically - If you have an old rusty cast iron skillet just bill some lemmon juce in it and boil . ??
   Dan - Thursday, 09/13/07 07:31:20 EDT

There’s an old technique for removing rust from a cast iron vessel. You fill the thing with FRESH HAY, cover with water, and boil. You keep changing the hay until the rust disappears. Has anyone ever tried this, and how does it work?
   - Dave Leppo - Thursday, 09/13/07 07:55:39 EDT

Dave, the hay probably has something like a tannin (an acid) in the stalks that slowly removes the rust. It might work but sounds like a very slow method and you end up with a lot of undigested manure. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 09/13/07 08:38:15 EDT

Public Water Systems: Dan, every major water system has its own peculiarities to be dealt with. The chemistry of the minerals in the water is addressed in many different ways and I doubt there are two major water systems in the world that use the exact same processes for removing minerals, filtering, sanitizing and flushing pipes.

Dilute citric acid, like almost any acid WILL aid in removing rust. However, the same acids can also greatly increase rusting when there is lots of oxygen present. That is when the acids are left on in the presence of air.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/13/07 08:46:09 EDT

How long do I have to wait till my name appears in dark blue? I just signed up this morning. No rush.
   - Dave Leppo - Thursday, 09/13/07 08:52:24 EDT

Dave, I have a couple memberships to process. Will get them done by early aftenoon - I have to take the car out for repairs this AM.

THANK YOU for Joining CSI!

   - guru - Thursday, 09/13/07 09:02:47 EDT

Gurus- Have you ever heard of useing liquid molasses as a method for removeing scale from forged steel? I think the ratio was 1/2 gallon of molasses per gallon of water and submerge the steel in the mix.
   TSC - Thursday, 09/13/07 09:07:29 EDT

Jeffrey, the edges probably won't crack, but they will warp if you don't normalize (bring to about 1450-1500 and allow to slow-cool in still air). I'd be more worried about decarburization of the thin edges in the forge atmosphere. My advice would be to use a good commercial anti-scale compound prior to normalizing and before each subsequent heating.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 09/13/07 09:20:12 EDT

Thanks for the info guys, I appreciate it. Frank, I'm planning on heating them in an electric kiln. I'll leave a thicker edge next time, and I'll check into coating the edge with some kind of heat resist (sort of like a reverse hamon I suppose). Thomas P, The info from the supplier indicates that a draw temp of 700 degF will give me an RC of 47. It's pretty high carbon (1075/80) 1050 would be more like 450-500 deg. I'll check out dfoggknives, think I was there a while ago (Don Fogg Custom?). Thanks again for the help!
   Jeffrey Robinson - Thursday, 09/13/07 09:25:17 EDT

OO, thanks Alan, I'll do that.
   Jeffrey Robinson - Thursday, 09/13/07 09:26:41 EDT

Re Forge Chimneys
All the photos I see of forges have a chimney which goes straight up. Would it matter if my brick chimney had an angle in it? That would be more convenient for me to build.

Also Sean has brought some photos of historical forges back from USA. These seem to have ash dumps which go straight down. Is there a reason for this? I would like to make mine to dump at an angle so the ash drops outside through the back of the forge. Would that be a problem?
   philip in china - Thursday, 09/13/07 09:56:11 EDT

Forges: Phillip, The bottom dump is the result of using a commercial fire pot and tuyeer as I noted above. The old side blown forges had no ash dump. Neither do modern side blown forges. Many old charcoal era forges were converted to bottom blown fire pots when coal was adopted. Never assume that because it is old that it hasn't been changed or rebuilt several times in its life.

Offset and angled chimneys are common. Simply remember that smooth flow is the point. I've seen paired forges with double flues that met in the middle and all kinds of odd combinations of brick and steel flue. When flues are angled the interior steps are filled to make a relatively smooth surface. So small thin brick is advantageous in this case.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/13/07 12:27:21 EDT

Mollasses: Never heard of that one. Can't think of why it should work other than making a sticky mess. . . .
   - guru - Thursday, 09/13/07 12:29:31 EDT

there was a thread or two at metalmeet.com about rust removal using mollasses. I've never tried it or seen it in action myself though
   Rob - Thursday, 09/13/07 13:10:25 EDT

Maybe the molasses would ferment to undistilled rum (whatever that's called), the rum, like wine, would turn to vinegar, and *that* would remove the scale. Clearly, the process is the original source of the term "slow as molasses." (grin)
   Mike BR - Thursday, 09/13/07 16:52:16 EDT


You are, of course, correct. I meant iron phosphate, not sulfate. Hard to get a sulfate from potassium, huh? (grin)

Thanks for catching that .
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/13/07 21:54:05 EDT

ViCopper -- Almost as hard as getting it from phosphorus. (double grin -- or am I the one missing a joke?).
   Mike BR - Thursday, 09/13/07 22:13:50 EDT


As Jock said, different water treatment systems use differing chemistries. Many industrial plumbing systems use phosphoric acid as a scale remover and/or oxide remover. It is no more or less harmful or beneficial than citric acid.

Citrus fruits contain citric acid, and it is used in canning, (as a sterilizing/normalizing agent) among other things. Cans for products containing ciric or other acids must have a plastic or other acid-proof lining, or they willquickly erode and leak.

Phosphoric acid is one of the ingredients in Coca Cola, (the one that makes Coke remove rust and crud form battery terminals), many vegetable and fruit fertilizers and most solutions for preparing metal for painting.

Neither citric nor phosphoric acid is inherently harmful to animals or the environment, when used in moderate quantities. The toxic/hazardous waste becomes an issue when the acid (whatever type), has other elements or compounds dissolved in it.

For rust removal, there is a relatively new product on the market, called "Evapo-Rust." It is a non-toxic, non haz-mat proprietary product made from byproducts of citrus production, I believe. It works just fine. You can check it out and order it from the very nice people at:


I should note that the same folks also sell a product called "Bullfrog Rust Blocker", a vapor corrosion inhibitor that really works. It does a great job here in the salt-laden tropical air, and is not a haz-mat, so I can get it mail order. I really like that!
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/13/07 22:15:41 EDT


Here in the Virgin Islands, molasses was, for many years, the only agricultural product. In the 1700's and 1800's there were literally hundreds of cane processing facilities scattered throughout the three islands that make up the territory.

After the syrup was pressed from the sugar cane stalks, it was slow-cooked in huge cast iron (or sometimes copper) evaporating kettles. There are half a dozen or more of them lying about the farm here, all in severe disrepair. Most are badly eaten away by the stuff in the syrup, so I distrust any advice that says molasses will remove rust or prevent it. Those rusted evaporating dishes are mute testimony to the contrary, I think.
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/13/07 22:21:36 EDT

If I wanted to make my own rust dissolver from phosphoric acid how strong should it be?
   - philip in china - Friday, 09/14/07 07:26:35 EDT

By the way thank you for all the help and advice re my forge. Sean seems to have gone into overdrive and is staying up all night designing forges and fire pots. He has even been stacking bricks up in the workshop in various patterns and tracing out shapes on the floor.
   - philip in china - Friday, 09/14/07 07:28:28 EDT

Molasses works very well as a rust remover for steel. Dilute it about 1:4. Mix it well in a plastic rubbish bin. Suspend the part(s)to be "derusted" in it and leave for a week. Then check it at regular intervals for progress. You know it's working when a scum starts forming on the top of it. It might take a couple of weeks or more to get the part really rust free. Beware, it will eat things away if you forget about them. Old car and motor bike restorers use this technique. Also, I think it can lead to quite serious infections if the brew gets too old, and you have nicks and cuts on your hands and immerse them in the brew. My father in law ended up in hospital with a mystery infection and the molasses brew seemed the most likely culpret. I haven't used it for a few years but I recall it will eat cast iron and die cast objects with glee.
   Graham Moyses - Friday, 09/14/07 08:21:34 EDT

How can I find the date of manufacture of South Bend Lathe ? I have a Serial Number but have been unable to locate a source of information for a 10K .

The Machine in question seems to be of late manufacture. The model numbers seem not match the models listed in a manual of part/parts list that I have. However the model/catalogue number had been disfigured so I could have misread it.

Any leads will be appreciated.
   Roller - Friday, 09/14/07 09:44:05 EDT

South Bend Lathe:

I would start with www.southbendlathe.com/

They tell you how to read the numbers but nothing about years. But they may have a list that is not on-line. There is also a practicalmachinist.com forum on these lathes.

Back in the 1970's I contacted SouthBend about parts for my old 13" 1916 lathe and was pretty much laughed at. I was told they had recently gotten rid of all the drawings and information about "the old flat belt drive stuff". So much for a sense of history. This was some time around when they became an employee owned company (of sorts).

Since the advent of the Internet they have become much more helpful but that does not make up for the disposal or archival and historical documents.

The actual age of the machine means little other than for parts availability. Its the miles. My 13" lathe had been practically unused and you could still see most of the hand scraping on the ways and cross slides. However, it had a bad case of moving damage. The lathe had either been tipped over OR something smashed into it. The reverse mechanism casting and one of the shift levers had been broken. Someone tried to braze the reverse mechanism casting then ran it with the gears messed crookedly. When I got it the shift gears and the spindle gear looked like automobile tires with their rounded crown. The automatic feeds could not be used at all. SO. . I used the lathe to make a new part for itself. Parts were turned, then welded together, then turned again. The tricky part was positioning the gear centers. I learned that ALL the dimensions on the Southbend were based on a 10th inch layout. No 1/8ths of 1/16ths. All tenths. This made the rest much easier.

I had a local shop make replacement gears. I used the lathe quite a bit then tore down the cobbled up drive to put a new one on it and have not finished. A flood damaged the NEW back shaft bearings and motor I had purchased for it. I'll get it running again one day. It is a nice old lathe and has a LONG bed. Its redeeming feature was that it came with complete attachments as well as duplicate tool holders and extras.

   - guru - Friday, 09/14/07 10:45:44 EDT

Offset flues...

Not to say that it's ideal but mine us offset because I wanted to take it out of a window rather than cutting a hole in the roof and it works great.
   Mike Ferrara - Friday, 09/14/07 11:25:42 EDT

Acid Percentages: Most for removing rust are very low. 2% or 3% rarely more.
   - guru - Friday, 09/14/07 11:53:40 EDT

My wife and I are planning a trip to San Francisco in Oct. Any suggestions of must see iron work in or around the city? Thanks.
   Chris - Friday, 09/14/07 15:01:31 EDT

G'day everyone,
When does mill scale need to be removed? Does it interfere with forging? I have been noticing a bit of a rough surface profile on some of my work, and I want to know if the mill scale is causing it. Otherwise, could it be that I'm working at too low heat (I'm still using a crappy little blow torch, due to blower troubles on the brake drum forge)?
   Craig - Friday, 09/14/07 17:16:34 EDT

Also folks, will automotive coil spring make decent punches? My friendly 4WD mechanic has told me that he will let me know when he has some to throw out.
   Craig - Friday, 09/14/07 17:20:59 EDT

Any idea on who won the free Power Hammer School?
   ptree - Friday, 09/14/07 18:46:01 EDT

Scale and Roughness: Yes and no. Even scale as part of heating does not produce a lot of texture. Partial scale left on between heats tends to make thick/thin places as well a change oxidation rates and result in a rough surface. This is seen more often when small short heats are taken OR when a high temperature torch (like oxy-acetylene) is used. When using a torch you can see the broken scale melt and ball up causing lumps in the scale.

Scale is hard enough to make dents in the hot surface at forging heat so rough uneven scale makes a rough surface. This is often used as a desired textural effect. However, it just looks like burnt metal to me. . .

Spring Steels: These are usually pretty tough steels in the 60 to 95 point carbon range. At the low end they make fair cold work tools and at the high end they are equivalent to 19th century tool steels. However, few large springs are this high carbon. Springs make good knives and wood working tools as well as metal working tools that need toughness. It is good to have a collection of them. HOWEVER, if springs have been broken in use, they MAY be filled with micro cracks that will make tools with the tendency to crack. See our Junk Yard Steel FAQ.
   - guru - Friday, 09/14/07 19:36:50 EDT

I am sure that Vicopper meant Iron phosphate, not sulfate. Phosphoric is unique. It is either the weakest of the dtrong acids or the strongest of the weak acids. Almost all the other acids are clearly either weak or strong, but phosphoric is in the middle. Its main disadvantage as far as I see is the ugly grey patina left. It is faster than citric by quite a bit. It removes the rust much faster than it attacks the metal. ANY acid left on the metal for a long time will attack the base metal, like the molasses and the cast iron pots Vicopper mentioned above. Yes, the process is the sugar, suficiently diluted by rain, ferments, the alcohol produced oxidizes to vinegar which is one of the sreongwer weak acids. It was the strongest acid known to the ancients, and its name meant "sour" which is the latin meaning of "ACID."
   - John Odom - Friday, 09/14/07 19:37:04 EDT

I have an anvil that came out of my grandfather's blacksmiht shop in Roundup MT. The shop was in operation in the 1800s to early 1900s, and I am trying to determine the maker of this piece. I can find the letters "NY" faintly stamed in the side of the anvil but can't make out anything else. It is a very large and heacy piece. I am a stout soul with a weight lifting backround and it is all I can do to shift it on the bench. If I were to post photos could you possibly ID the maker and era? I got this out of long term storage with intentions of getting started in blacksmithing. I got suspicious that it may be valuable and one to "not" beat on when a local guy offered me a lot of money for it.

Thank you,

Dave Hamilton
   Dave H - Friday, 09/14/07 21:50:09 EDT

Dave H,

If you have a place topost pictures, that would be good. Also, give us measurements of overall length, height and width of face. When taking pictures, try to get one of the bottom, as well as the top, both sides and front and rear.

You might try taking arubbin gof the side of gthe anvil where you see the "NY". You might be able to pick up more that way. One maker who was in New York was Hay-Budden, of Brooklyn, NY. H-Bs are considered to be one of the best anvils made, and are collectible as well as great "using" anvils.

A Hay-Budden in mint condition might bring upwards of $4/lb. One in fair condition about half of that, unless it is a rare model with desirable features for a collector.

Unless it is a super rare one, a Hay-Budden is a good using anvil, and I would not hesitate to use it.
   vicopper - Friday, 09/14/07 22:52:32 EDT

Never mind. A little Google and I have it. My anvil is a Hay Budden 190 lber with serial #125883. I'd say from what I've seen it is, what, 1903? Beginner's guess, anyway. Bladesmith forum had some good formation. From the sounds of things my anvil is well used but still quite useable. The top is not fractured or chipped but has lots of dings. Horn is straight and heel is solid. how's that for picking up "anvileese" in one easy lesson, webwise? I will probably be back in some way-shape-or forum (pun, sorry). Thank you for the informative site.
   Dave H - Friday, 09/14/07 23:26:55 EDT


(I tried emailing you off-forum but my server would not recognize your email address.)

Wow! I was posting my followup and BANG! Your post appeared with a big DO NOT PANIC screen. Well, I paniced and wondered what the heck I'd done and if the local forum rats would ever let me back on.................

Thank you for the quick response. I posted on anvilfire before going anywhere else in my search as it looked very "well informed". As I posted, my anvil is a family piece out of Roundup MT. I have it, and about 20 assorted tools, that came out of the old wheelright/blacksmith shop that my Great Granddad had. Some "easterner" bought the rest of the shop in the 70s when I was too young to know what I wanted to do. I could have had it all had I only told my Grandad that I was interested...........live and learn, or make more mistakes. Whichever comes first........

Anyway, my anvil is a 190 lb job with serial #125,883. It is overall pretty straight, but it has been hit alot. The top is level but peened. No chunks broke off. Heeal and horn straight. I'll probably use it since here in Alaska that $2 a pound equals about 1/4 of the total cost of shipping one up.

I'm getting into the blacksmith game a bit old, 54, but retirement gives me much more time to dabble than did working full time.

Thank you again,


   Dave H - Friday, 09/14/07 23:44:13 EDT

Dave H. Your Hay-Budden is a bit later, probably late 1906 or early 1907 according to Anvils in America. Richard Postman could not locate their anvil logs and have to guess at production year based on the number of anvil manufactured reported in their advertisements over the years.

Killing time this AM: Four anvils brands are known to have been produced in or near Brooklyn. James Case, about 1864, who is thought to have only produced one-half dozen two-piece anvils. Dunn & Murcott, who seem to have been early competitors to Hay-Budden and later become the American Wrought Anvil Company. It is unknown how many anvils either D&M or AWAC produced. I have a D&M with the serial number of 399. Apparently when they became AWAC they stopped using serial numbers which, to me, implies the business changed owners rather than just a name change. Hay-Budden produced some 307,000 anvils between 1892 and 1925. It is not known why, about 1918, they restarted the serial numbers with 1 with an A in front of the number.

(It is also not known why some Trentons have an A in front of their serial number.)

Richard Postman had seen some American anvils with Dunn & Murcott stamped on them. He thought they may have been a national hardware company. However, when I found mine with just Dunn & Murcott, Brooklyn, NY on it I did some Internet research and found them listed as anvil makers in the 1897 business directory for Brooklyn. Both D&M and AWAC had the same address. In AIA Mr. Postman speculated Walter Ring, Secretary/Treasurer of Hay-Budden, left them to start his own anvil firm as AWAC. However, he now doubts that connection. From additional Internet research I found Mr. Ring came from a family which owned a good bit of farmland in what is today Brooklyn and was a partner in developing at least one side of a city block there with street level shops and floors of apartments above. Thus, apparently he was a man of means and Mr. Postman speculates he may have been a co-owner of H-B rather than an employee.

Another anvil tidbit. In AIA Mr. Postman notes in the book, FOXFIRE 5, an interview with a blacksmith notes his anvil was an American Ross (an unknown brand). I tracked down one of his sons and he said his father was a German immigrant who had a heavy accent and a so-so command of the English language. What he likely said is he had an American wrought anvil (to differientiate from an English one) and the students misunderstood what he said. His blacksmith shop was donated to the Foxfire Museum and, of the seven or so anvils they received, none are Americans (from the AWAC). I forwarded the list to Mr. Postman, but as best I remember, none were out of the ordinary anvil brands.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Saturday, 09/15/07 02:15:16 EDT

Value of Anvils in the North America: Generally the farther away from the North Eastern U.S. and the "Rust Belt" the more valuable old anvils become due to rarity and the cost of shipping. However, it also depends on demand and the local economy. There are some great deals to be had on anvils in Nicaragua if you are willing to risk life and limb. A friend in Costa Rica where anvils are rarer spent some time Nicaragua and came home with a great old French anvil over 500 pounds at local scrap prices.

Prices for anvils in Alaska and Hawaii are the highest due to demand and shipping cost.

The number of anvils and other blacksmiths tools in the Rust Belt has to do with a lot of factors. There were a lot of trade schools there that had complete forge stations for every student, there was production industrial shops with rows of anvils and there was a significant population during the horse drawn era. The combination of farms and industry makes Ohio and the surrounding states THE place to find blacksmith tools.

People don't think of anvils being a factory tool but even in the early auto production era a LOT of parts were made by hand and in the big wagon migration era factories were equipped with forging stations much like small modern shops with a small power hammer, anvil and swage block plus supporting tooling.

A now untraceable wagon works in Lynchburg Virginia was described to me as a long building with a line shaft running its length with belts operating a dozen power hammers and forges, each with an anvil and other tools. The wood working shop was across the street and similarly equipped. The buildings are still there today (or were 20 years ago) with no trace of their former use. Neither was there a trace of any of the machinery or tooling anywhere in the local environs (I searched). Lynchburg had a large and active scrap iron business with a metal muncher that could reduce a power hammer to bits in an instant as well as two busy foundries. I suspect that all the "old junk" became sewer pipe or automobile parts if it wasn't sold and moved elsewhere. This is common in many cities in the South and elsewhere. Old industrial space was needed and the equipment scraped because it was "antiquated".
   - guru - Saturday, 09/15/07 09:50:42 EDT

In the small town I grew up in is still a small family wagon works. They converted to working on tractors and Model T's when that became profitable. The third generation was one of the original "Ford Mechanics". He is in his 80's or 90's and still works on Gravely's and other lawn equipment 5 days and half day on Saturday.
The original forge is still there, in the middle of the building. Big masonary forge. Blower and all the blacksmith equipment is long gone. When I was a boy the fellow did it all, welding, mechanic on cars, trucks tractors and lawn equip. He sold and installed tires, and had a big radiator repair operation.
The building is a wood structure, with the original overhead monorails and switches to allow the chainfall to travel almost anywhere in the building. Most of the woodworking was on the second floor, now his parts depot.
Neat old building in a small town. The gentleman is a long time family friend.
   ptree - Saturday, 09/15/07 12:51:05 EDT

Japanese smithing.
I find it disappointing that I have such a difficult time finding real information on japanese smithing/metalwork. Given how tough finding info on european smithing can be, I guess it shouldn't surprise me. That said, has anyone come across any decent resources... especially those that have nothing to do with swords? I found the "TEAM YATAIKI" website, which seemed promising... excepting that it looks that the website got abandoned 3/4 year ago. thanks
   Drew - Saturday, 09/15/07 19:04:42 EDT

ABOUT once a year I get a letter from a wife, mother or sister wanting to know what is making their men sick. Most often they have debilitating liver disease or mystery ailments after a life time working as a welder. Some have been employed in industry. Some have been self employed. When the illness is caused by heavy metal poisoning there is no cure. It is usually too late.

Today we received another via Paw-Paw's web site (see details on Hammer-In and my response September 15, 2007). A 20 year veteran welder told to weld on some galvanized bridge parts. No mention was made of training or warnings or offer of protective equipment. Possibly a typical case of employer apathy. A good chance that nothing will be done.

But there is a bigger issue. Someone wrote here the other day that they could not take the time to take a welding course. I recommend these primarily to learn the safety aspects of welding and not everything is covered in the text books. Metal fume fever is a serious problem. But so is long term exposure to manganese which it just starting to be recognized as a serious health issue for welders.

THESE are some of things that I want people to take welding courses for. If the occupational hazards are not covered in your welding course then you need to make some noise about it.

THE FIRST rule of occupational health and safety is that YOU are your first and foremost important defense against injury. This means get educated. Take a proactive approach to your life. Study what it is you are doing and find out what hazards exist and how to avoid them. Some employers train their employees about the hazards in their work place but many others do not. Remember the FIRST rule.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/15/07 21:36:21 EDT


What did you wish to know? Do you want to work in the traditional Japanese mode? It is difficult for a Westerner to hunker and sit seiza and learn to work with the materials on the ground...not that it can't be done.

Around 1993[?], I spent six days with Yatiaki, the premier traditional saw maker of Japan, in of all places, Fairfield, Iowa. He was able to make 113 different saw patterns using tamahagane steel. Fairfield is where maybe 4,000 to 5,000 Trancendental Meditators are headquartered, a group founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. One of these persons was doing Japanese style woodwork, and went to Japan to look for the best hand tools. He ran across Yataiki in Miki City and invited him to Fairfield for a month's workshop. The workshop was set up primarily for woodworkers and was advertised in Fine Woodworking Magazine. I found out about it by accident through a combo wood/iron worker. I showed up at the workshop with two of my blacksmith friends. The workshop building had been furnished with a ground-level Japanese style forge, anvil and wooden horse-like clamp for cold work. Most of the people there were woodworkers who were learning how to polish and sharpen their saws. Some of them were having broken teeth repaired. Yataiki asked the translator who we were, since we were just walking around and gawking. When he found out we were smiths, he all but abandoned the woodworkers. He turned the sharpening over to his daughter, who was a Master in this area. He built a fire and made a small hammer. He invited us to do the same. My friends declined, so I made a little hammer. He said, "You are a blacksmith" to which I replied, "So are you!" We spent a goodly amount of time with him, but in six days, I wound up with more questions than answers. I took good notes and measured many of the tools.

You should realize that large ornamental work, gates and grilles, was not really a part of the Japanese culture, as it was in Europe. Large, impressive hardware was done on wooden castle doors. Some trammels (adjustable pot hooks) were made of iron. Tansu and other furniture hardware was a big deal. Woodworking tools were a specialty, things such as plane blades, saws, marking knives, etc.

An excellent book on tools is "Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit, and Use" by Toshio Odate. The Taunton Press, 1984. Also, there is a section on woodworking tools in "The Genius of Japanese Carpentry" by S. Azby Brown. Kodansha, Tokyo & N.Y.

You must realize too, that a few Japanese sculptors and artsmiths have been to the U.S. and Europe to study and they are working standing up, as we do here.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/15/07 22:06:11 EDT

Frank, Was the Japanese horse like the device that Phillip and Sean photographed in China? Chinese bench and "Sen"

In many Eastern cultures the smith and many hand workers are of low status (one of the lowest in India). I wounder if working on the ground symbolizes their status rather than just being a very long tradition.

On the other hand, the lack of benches and tables adds simplicity to one's shop. The entire floor is your work bench and storage area. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 09/16/07 08:23:46 EDT

Perhaps horse and bench are the wrong words for the wedge setup that I saw in Iowa. It was similar to the Chinese one that the Guru has pictured, but it didn't have legs. A heavy plank provided the base. Master Yataiki sat cross legged on a floor pad while he worked. He did not sit astraddle the setup. The wedging system was a little different than the Chinese one, but a steel staple was used in both.

I dug up some color photographs of the workshop and wedging method, and I will be sending hard copies with captions to Jock.

The Japanese sen has handles in line with the tangs, not at right angles to them.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/16/07 10:21:56 EDT

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