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 16 - 24, 2007 on the Guru's Den
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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

Post Script. I doubt whether status had anything to do with working on the ground. Sitting on the ground is common to a great many cultures regardless of the person's status. Nomadic herders and hunter/gatherers could not carry a load of furniture around with them. I believe I saw a very early Egyptian chair that was recovered from a tomb and pictured in a book. The use of chairs is perhaps Euro-Near Eastern in origin, and it's not very good for the health of a person's back. Squatting, hunkering, sitting cross legged and sitting seiza are more healthful than sitting in a chair...so saying, as I sit here in a chair at the computer.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/16/07 10:34:52 EDT

I asked Sean and Phillip to try to get the Chinese names for these tools. They teach in English there and communication is still tricky in some cases.

I have parts made to make a Japanese type clamping device. It would be nice to see better images than what I think I based these parts on before I complete it. The Japanese use actual wedges. That is what made the Chinese version interesting, it is a wedge system without wedges.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/16/07 10:40:29 EDT

Repair of vintage wrecking bar

I have what I (probably incorrectly) call a wrecking bar that was my grandfather's. It is made from 1" x 1" bar, has a chisel point at one end, and the other a gooseneck with a cats paw (nail puller). Last week while using (well, abusing, lesson learned) it to loosen RR spikes from some ties, I broke one side of the cat's paw. The fracture is nearly completely through, but it's still hanging on by a thread. About 80% of the break is new, but I can see some rust indicating that there was a pre-existing crack.

Anyway, it is a great tool in addition to the family connection, so I'd love to be able to repair it. I'm assuming that arc welding it won't be satisfactory because the weld won't have the strength of the high carbon it is made from and the break is obviously at a stress point. Is it likely I could forge weld the crack back together? If so, how would I go about heat treating it afterward? I've made lots of woodworking tools from O1 so I have experience heat treating, but I don't have a forge capable of heating the whole bar (maybe 32" long) without cobbling together something specifically for this purpose. If I just hardened and tempered from the gooseneck on down, would I end up with an unacceptable soft spot in the shank (where it would be heated, but not hot enough to harden)? Finally, I assume this should be tempered to a pretty high heat; woodworking tools I've tempered in the kitchen oven, but this is both too big and I'm guessing should go to a higher temp. How do you heat a big workpiece like this completely through at a high tempering heat? Thanks for any advice (including telling me to forget about it and hang it on the wall). Dave
   Dave M - Sunday, 09/16/07 12:00:12 EDT

Dave, In a case like this it is best to cut off the damaged end and forge an new one. In this high stress location any kind of weld is not going to hold up.

The nail puller is a forged wedge that is split with a chisel. This is fairly easy to do. On long tools like this the working ends are often heat treated (hardened and tempered) but the rest is often not. On tools of this sort that are fully heat treated it is because it was easier in a factory situation to do the whole and use a single heat treat all over, which is not necessarily good.

Otherwise, if you do not want to change the tool that much you can weld it or just glue it back together and as you noted, hang it on the wall. Occasionally a broken keepsake is better than an unrecognizable one.

I have two big long (over 5 foot) pry bars that I bought very cheap because they were bent like snakes. They were quite soft except for the working tip. I only took a few minutes in a hydraulic press to straighten them. They have been used a LOT an have not bent. Years later I saw how these kind of things get bent. They get stuck in holes or wedged between VERY HEAVY things like boulders and then pulled on with a chain or the bucket of a piece of heavy equipment. . . . Being soft is better than being hard and shattering.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/16/07 12:17:05 EDT

Dave M.

I refreshed and see that the Guru is already on top of this. I will add a few specifics.

What is your "forgability?" We're assuming the bar is of 1070 - 1080. I would cut it off and reforge the taper. You must fuller it lengthwise before hot splitting, or the claws won't slide under a thin nail head. If you don't have a top fuller, just use a round rod as a makeshift one, and drive it in. If you get an ugly hot split, let the steel normalize and file it. Because of the gooseneck, you may have trouble reaching it with your forging tools. Use a "convenience bend" behind the claw, just enough that you can work on it. Straighten the bend before heat treating. I would heat treat only the claw and a little bit behind it into the thick part of the bar. Harden in oil to be on the safe side. Clean off the oil and abrade to bare metal. To temper, heat the thickened area (got a torch?) and chase to a blue or pale blue color on the claws, around 620ºF. If it's a 1" bar, I wouldn't worry too much about it getting out of shape in use. It's probably NOT like a pavement breaker that is hardened and tempered for its whole length when it's manufactured.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/16/07 12:52:09 EDT

Dave, I'm sorry I missed some of your question.

For the heats necessary you are going to need a forge. After forging and final shaping the tempering can be done using the "residual heat" method. Frank Turley is better at this than I am but I will describe it.

Residual Heat Tempering: A part to be hardened and tempered on one or more ends is heated to the hardening temperature (non-magnetic) and then the end to be hardened is quenched repeatedly until cool. It is then quickly filed or ground to make a bright surface while most of the mass is still hot.

Then the temper colors are observed on the clean surface as the residual heat rises to the quenched section. When the end of the tool reaches the necessary temper is is quenched again to stop the tempering. By this time the hot part should have air cooled below the hardening temperature and be quite tough. The zone at the edge of the hardening quench will be tempered much more than the end of the tool so there is not a sudden transition from hard to soft.

This does not work with all steels but is applicable to most common spring and tool steels. Junk Yard Steel rules apply.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/16/07 12:55:29 EDT

Seems Frank and I are both on top of this one. . . :)
   - guru - Sunday, 09/16/07 12:57:41 EDT

Before I shut down and take a nap, I don't think I would use the reserve heat method on this one. I would use two separate heats, one for hardening, one for tempering, and take my time. I would temper with the piece in the vise and I would use my oxy torch. Have a can of water handy, so when the right temper color is reached, you can pour water on it to "hold the temper."
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/16/07 13:10:29 EDT

Hi, I am working on a 50# Murray hammer at work and have run into some trouble with the ram guides and setting in new dies. First, the hammer has been worn so that the left side of the ram as well as the ram guide has been carved out about an 1/8th of an inch in the center so the entire side is sort of concaved. The original spring broke some years ago and was replaced with a randomly sized large spring which appears to have worn everything quite a bit, including the old dies. This caused the dies to hit first on the back left, which caused the dies to crack. I intended to simply replace the dies but then cleaned up the hammer and found this wear. Because of this, the hammer will not strike flat now and I am concerned that with use, the new dies will be broken. Can I shim up the left side or grind down the ram and guides to readjust the hammer? (I have replaced the old big spring with the appropriate sized spring). Also, the top die has to be shimmed in the back now to line up the front of the two dies. I think the dove tail in the ram has been worn so the die key doesn't fit properly, even after repeated grinding. The right side of the top die keeps falling down and the nice folks at Little Giant told me not to put shims on the key side of the die. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. As far as my experience level, I have never even changed dies in a powerhammer but have used them on and off for a couple of years. I have done a lot of research and am still learning. Thank you, Alair
   Alair - Sunday, 09/16/07 14:50:12 EDT

Worn out Murray Power Hammer: Alair, FIRST, a power hammer is a machine tool, not "just a hammer". If this was a milling machine or a lathe you would not be going NEAR it with a grinder. With that amount of wear in the guides it will never operate properly. It may run, but not the way it should.

Repairs on dovetails and guides are not made with a hand grinder nor are improper angular fits shimmed. They are remachined and or hand fitted using scrapers and reference flats (a high skill job). This is a job for a skilled machinist or millwright OR someone willing to spend the hours learning the necessary skills.

In the least all the flat surfaces need to be flat, straight and parallel to each other. Angular fits must be near perfect for factory replacements to fit and often they were not that good to start. So V-ways and dovetails must be checked by "bluing them in". This is a process of applying a very thin coat of Prussian blue oil paint, fitting the parts together and then removing the high spots between the parts until they are a perfect fit.

In the case of tapered wedges the wedge often makes the fit. However, the sides and bottom of the dovetail and the die must be good flat fits. There are two kinds of wedged fits. In the most common the sides of the dovetail are parallel, the taper is on the die and the wedge simply fits the die. In the other less common type the taper is in the dovetail, the die sides are parallel and again the wedge does the job. Then there is one more in which both the die and the dovetail is parallel and two identical wedges are used. This last type is rare as it requires and extra part.

To measure parallelness or taper of dovetails you must use precision round bars and measure the distance between the two. Taper on American machines is given in fractional inches per foot (typicaly 1/4 or 3/16 per foot). On badly worn machine parts this is almost impossible to measure because there is no flat reference surface left OR the surfaces that are left are difficult to reference from. In that case you usually true the part as best as you can with a dial indicator to a machine slide such as a shaper and then check the other surfaces. Most of the time this is simply in preparation to remachining the surfaces and parallelism is a past concern as you are about to MAKE the surfaces parallel.

In this type machine the upper and lower dies have little or no adjustment expecting the machine to be right. However, after making repairs the factory parts are unlikely to line up. This requires shimming with full length shims OR the manufacture of custom dies and or wedges. In Little Giant type machines the back surface was always considered the reference so the only help is to shim away from this surface.

In the least the die holding dovetails must be refitted. This means making the surfaces FLAT using a precision flat, bluing-in, and carefully hand scraping. Curved dovetail surfaces will not hold dies. After flattening the surfaces the wedge should be fit the same way. Until it makes contact on 90% of the surface and shows no taper in any direction. At this point the clean wedge should stick tightly if lightly pushed in by hand. A gentle tap of a mallet should be all that is necessary to hold the dies in.

Both dovetails need to be hand fitted this way. Yes, it is difficult painstaking work but the only other option is to have the mating parts remachined to factory fits. On these uni-frame machines that means remaching the frame and anvil (unless it has a sow block).

If the hammer has an anvil cap or "sow block" then it can be removed and remachined much easier than machining the entire frame.

Many smiths have the skill to hand forge wedges, test them then grind a bit, test them and call it a job. This is fast and efficient but it is a high skill, keen judgment job. It also requires the other fits to be right. I prefer to finish my wedges on a surface grinder but not everyone has access to one of these.

While striking flat seems to be a problem in reality it is not. Almost all work done under hammers is done to one side or the other and occasionally in the middle. The only time the dies should ever touch is in the event of a missblow. If large thin work is done and the surfaces need to be parallel then the top of the bottom die should be dressed until there is good contact. This can be tested with a couple pieces of thick paper and a piece of carbon paper in between. However, if the ram is a bad fit and rocks in its guides then no amount of fitting is going to make any difference.

The critical thing is that the dies fit tight, do not rock and stay in place.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/16/07 17:24:07 EDT

More about OLD Hammers: You mentioned "at work". If this is a machine in a commercial shop of ANY kind then it paid for itself many years ago. If there is daily work for it then down time repairing it will cost as much as a replacement machine such as a Big Blu, Striker, Phoenix or other currently available hammer. In fact, any one of these machines will out produce that old hammer by at least two to one if not a great deal more. It may be time to retire the old hammer and let some poor newby that has more time than money rebuild it. There are many folks that will spend many more times than the old machine is worth repairing it out of love. However, in most commercial situations this is not very cost effective.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/16/07 17:37:25 EDT

What did I want to know? Hmm... the short answer would be I'm curious about the whole shebang. Say I lived in Japan and took it upon myself to do something silly like take up blacksmithing. What would my "The Art of Blacksmithing" be? What would it say about the setup of my shop... the tools, the working mode, the techniques? I'm simply trying to find leads on this information that I can understand. I don't know a lick of japanese nor do I think, from what I understand of the language, it would work to learn some of it as an intermediate step.
Questions would be... Why work on the floor? What's the anvil and where do they come from? How high up do they sit? Hammers... the logic, material and weights? How do you swing them effectively without injury, since the geometry of sitting makes the ergonomics so much different.
Forge welding? What tools steels are used? Use of a charcoal fire/japanese style forge. It would also just be nice to have tutorials on the way to make a chisel, a drawknife, a copper dish...
As to why I want to know that stuff... well, to begin with it's interesting there is another far developed culture of metalwork. That's the main thing. Aside from that, I primarily AM interested in toolsmithing and could go my whole life without doing any decorative gates and be fine with that, and that said pretty much thoroughly approve of nearly everything I've seen of japanese tools/daily objects.
Matter of fact it was a japanese kitchen knife that got me into all this stuff in the first place.

"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. . ."
This is the other thing. I like this very much, and it's what ultimately makes me curious about this as a real alternative method rather than simply a cultural oddity. I moved recently, and as I'm waiting to build my shop I had my anvil sitting on the dirt. I got the urge to play around some and simply worked off of it and a little ground forge. All of a sudden it seemed clear enough that in terms of workshop design/layout, so much material and space is cut straight away working in this manner. What do you need? Stability/anchoring, fire-resistence, and a work surface at each "station." These can either be done individually... think crafty welded anvil stand with swinging arm and tool racks, or you can just sit down. All of a sudden you're sitting on top of a moldable, fire-proof, stable work surface of basically infinite mass. Hm... well that was easy.
I think this marks one of the basically neat things about my superficial understanding of japanese material culture is that their design itself seems to aim at increasing simplicity... unity of aesthetic and function and source/material. Now, that said, I'm sure it's only superficial and about as culturally insightful as to say that samurai's are cool, but nevertheless the ILLUSION of it, if that's all it is, is at least interesting.
Oh and anyway I developed a crooked, arthritic back at a pretty young age. It's by no means debilitating, but it does mean that by far the most comfortable way for me to be for any length of time is the variety of postures possible when sitting on the floor... alternating from seiza to cross-legged to squating/sitting on a little stool would simply be my preference above standing, and especially above spending a lot of time in a chair. I work as a butcher and stand on the same kind of floor I would use in a workshop all day and I can say that if I could get around doing more of that and get to keep smithing, I could re-learn a lot of other ways of doing things to make that happen.
Anyway... I know that's a lot, but I am thankful to have other folks who know more than I do help me out while I'm learning. Any direction would be great! -Drew
   Drew - Sunday, 09/16/07 18:08:10 EDT

I would just add that I'm not precisely interested in doing an imitation of an Edo period smith. I'm almost certainly always going to use a western anvil, even if it's buried in the dirt and sitting on a stand... I'm keeping my hand-crank blower and western-bellows, even if I do experiment with a box bellows, and I am almost certainly going to keep dressing the way I do now. I'm just trying to find honest and practical information about a whole other way of working and incorporating what's useful/helpful before I get too set in my ways. :)
I do think the little tabi boots are neat, though.
   Drew - Sunday, 09/16/07 18:11:44 EDT

Guru -
Thank you for the input. The bottom die fits securely after I fit the key using the Prussian Blue. This hammer does not have a removable sow block but the bottom die is not really the problem. The ram dovetail on this model was not factory tapered but over time it has been worn to about 1/16th of an inch difference from left to right. So, fitting the die key in the top is the problem, thus, the die keeps falling out on the right side. Also, the wear on the left side of the ram and guides is obviously creating problems. Thank you again for your response and I am working in a commercial shop where we have a couple of forged terminals on almost every job we do. We are primarily forging 1/2" x 1 1/2" tapers using the middle of the dies most of all. (We then scroll them for terminals, etc...) I will pass along this info to my bosses. I took on the task of "fixing" the hammer because with our previous dies (which I found a crack in the top one) the hammer was pushing the metal back out with every strike, also concaved in the middle from wear. I found this to be pretty dangerous and tiresome, fighting with the hammer. Again, thank you for your input and I will pass it along.
   Alair - Sunday, 09/16/07 18:14:28 EDT

Guru - P.S. I meant repeated grinding on the die key NOT the ram or dies. I may be an eager beaver but I know my limits! ;-)
   Alair - Sunday, 09/16/07 18:29:18 EDT

if i were needing to make a forepunch and a pritchel for farrier work. how would i do this. i have 3/8" 5160 and 5/8" 5160 and that's about all the tool steel i have.

   - jake - Sunday, 09/16/07 18:37:38 EDT


Use the 5/8" round. Each tool will wind up being about 11" long; longer, if you're working on toe-weights or draft shoes. If it's a cold pritchel, the taper will be about 2" long. If a hot pritchel, the taper can be 4" long. The pritchel tip is dressed to the rectangular cross section that you would find half way up your most used (numbered) nail shank; ie, midway between the nail point and the neck. Harden the tapered portion in oil; chase tempering colors to a full blue. Normalize before hardening and tempering.

Use your nail head as a guide for the proper angles to put on the working end of your forepunch. The working end can be drawn to a mild taper and "rough forged to size". You would finish by cold grinding and filing. It can have sharp corners, and of course, in use, it will leave a rectangular countersink. The point of the finished countersink doesn't need to be sharp. Toe weighted shoes often have an oval forepunch shape, so that when the shoe with pads is pulled, you don't pull off the entire hoof. The oval countersink allows each nail to be more easily released, and each is pulled one at a time. The normalizing, hardening, and tempering would be the same as for the pritchel.

The heads of the tools should have a very mild taper and they should be domed slightly on top, the striking portion. This helps prevent mushrooming, although there will be mushrooming eventually. The striking heads should be normalized or annealed. The striking heads are always softer that the hammer head.

Forge 2100-2200ºF. Normalize 1600-1700ºF. Harden in oil 1525ºF.


I am willing to share Japanese forging ideas and methodology by e-mail, insofar as my limited knowledge goes. I drew outlines around the hammers, the sens, and I have heat treating notes, etc. I can also look up useful names. Also, if you ever get to Santa Fe, you must visit Shibui, an importer of Japanese furniture, accessories, and tools. I believe that they have a website. The owners recently put out a book: "Japanese Cabinetry: the art and craft of tansu" by David Jackson and Dane Owen.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/16/07 20:12:53 EDT

thank you very much Frank
as i underatnd it you were a farrier for years. and i believe iheard somewhere that you went to the OK farrier school? that's where i'm plannnig on going.
thank you very much for the advise. if i were planning on buying the tools. are there good and bad places to get them from. i know of centuar forge. is that the best or are there others.

   - jake - Sunday, 09/16/07 21:20:10 EDT

When I use a forge is it cheaper to use propane or coal for projects that arent nesissarily short and might take hours at a time. im trying to decide what type of forge to build.
   jacob lockhart - Sunday, 09/16/07 22:12:02 EDT


I attended Oregon State Horseshoeing School in Corvallis, but it is no longer in operation.

There are many suppliers. The American Farriers Association puts out a supplier and source guide annually.
I'm in New Mexico, so my favorite supplier folks are Jim Keith in Tucumcari; www.jktools.com and Bob Bachen of Wagon Mound Ranch Supply; www.wagonmound.com.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/16/07 22:23:13 EDT

Dave M: If I was going to temper the end of that bar I would stick the end in a pot of molten lead and regulate the temperature to keep the lead just molten. This way You can temper for an hour at temperature like it says in the book. This must be done with sufficient ventilation, preferably outdoors with nobody down wind. Lead melts at 610 F. I would harden a little less than what will be immersed in the lead. I jnow Jock will frown on any use of lead, but if You don't do anything stupid You will be fine.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 09/16/07 22:24:26 EDT

Thanks Guru and Frank Turley for the answers on repairing my grandfather's wrecking bar. Just cutting off the damage and reforging the business end is something I can handle -- I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it myself. I have a 5/8" top fuller so I think I'm in business.

I think I will rework it rather than retire it to the wall; my grandfather was a real scrounger and never threw anything away. . .I think he'd approve.

Thanks again, Dave
   Dave M - Sunday, 09/16/07 22:36:32 EDT

I have a series of questions And just ignore me if im wasting your time because im only 14 yrs old. Im wondering if propane or coke is better and cheaper, and im also wonder if a more open or a side draft forge or other designs is your favorite. I beleive i want to work out scottish dirk because of some of my heritage is Scottish.
and maybe by just starting with the cheap stuff i Might gain experience and get serious and make all kinds of stuff. I need to know about quenching and tempering and annaeling and working in general. Im willing to give my best effort. but dont let me waste your time
   Jacob lockhart - Sunday, 09/16/07 22:39:49 EDT

re: Lead Tempering/heat treating - don't. The last and only shop I ran across doing it was Heller Files in Ohio in the late 1980's. They were looking to replace it with safer methods due to both OSHA and EPA "interest".

Lead is a lot nastier metal than zinc, though not up there with beryllium.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 09/16/07 23:24:11 EDT

Murray Repairs: The pushing of the stock out of the hammer is due to loose parts, generally the ram in its guides. It will strike then shift one direction or the other. Dies have nothing to do with it unless they are so loose that they shift. Usually a die this loose falls out.

Changes in the upper die dovetail on Little Giant style hammers that are not from wear are usually from a cracked ram or the edge of the dovetail being bent from over tightening a bad fitting wedge. Clean the parts carefully and look for cracks in the corners of the dovetail.

LG and Murco had a variety of ram guide arrangements and I am not sure which one you have. The late dovetailed guides behind the ram are notorious for wearing crooked and are very expensive to repair. I've seen folks machine off the back of the ram and bolt a rectangular plate on the ram and then bolt a guide system that fits the plate to the frame. This is similar to many DIY power hammer plans. This is pretty drastic but it works.

The Late 50# Little Giant had a double tapered key in the ram with the die being flat on the front and angled on the back. It was a very strange arrangement that required a compound angled key. Loads of fun to fit and due to the weak front of the ram was often a bad fit due to bending of the ram at the dovetail.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/16/07 23:53:33 EDT

Forge Preference: Jacob, One's first forge should be a solid fuel forge, coal or charcoal. Note that GOOD coal is often difficult to get and bad coal is very frustrating. "Real wood" or "lump" charcoal works quite well.

When forging long items you work in short heats because the item (our sword) unlike in Disney fantasies will be too limp to handle if the entire thing is at forging heat. So you take a short heat and work it, then take another short heat. Since you are working high carbon steels you work at relatively low heats and there is not much scale from the repeated heats.

Solid fuel forges cost about the same to operate as gas and oil forges. The world energy cartel pretty much has all fuels at about the same price per BTU.

HOWEVER, a soild fuel forge can be operated with a VERY small tight fire in the morning and a huge full blast anchor forging heat in the afternoon. This flexibility which gas forges do not have makes solid fuel forges much more efficient. To do a wide range of work efficiently in gas forges you need many sizes and shapes of forge.

The style of forge you use is often a personal decision. In general the classic bottom blown cast iron firepot style forge with a side draft chimney is best from a North American viewpoint. The oriental style trough forge used with charcoal is a very convenient and flexible design.

Oriental style trough forge: These are built on the ground OR on a raised platform. The start with a flat brick bottom. It has two parallel walls about a foot high or a little higher to protect the bellows which are parallel to one side. The walls are spaced about a brick length apart (9"+) so that a couple loose bricks can be used to adjust the back of the fire or removed to allow long pieces to fit. Air comes in from the side through a half brick opening at the bottom center of the left hand (bellows side) wall. This is very compact design when a center port oriental box bellows is used. However, hand crank and electric blowers can be used with this same forge type.

When burning charcoal these often have no hood and smoke just sifts out the eves and openings in the shop roof. For a clean shop a large overhead hood (usually not recommended for coal) can be used.

This is a simple, easy to build forge. It can be permanent with mortared brick OR temporary with loose stacked brick. I recommend loose stacked until you are happy with the arrangement (if at all).

Study, read our FAQs, apply what you know and ask more questions. As long as you don't describe the forging scene from Conan the Barbarian and then ask "what next" we will be cool with almost any question you ask. 14 is a great age to start in what can lead to a lifetime of learning about chemistry, physics, mechanics and art. Those are the things real blacksmithing is about.
   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 00:24:08 EDT

A 125# Trenton anvil did not even get 1 bid on e-bay. It was listed to start at $149.50. Normally this would bring close to $350. I wonder why no one was interested? Larry in AZ
   Larry Hedden - Monday, 09/17/07 10:03:20 EDT

Failed Sale: Larry, There are lots of reasons. One is that about 25% of all the anvil buyers and sellers in the US are on their way to SOFA Quad-states this week where they hope to get a "deal" on anvils in Ohio. The other is it just may not have been well listed or nobody was interested at the moment. The location and/or the seller listing "pickup only" may have made it a hard sell. There is a similar anvil on ebay today with "pickup only" in LaGrange, MN. That limits the market a LOT.

AND. . without seeing the anvil, it could be it had a bad repair job or had some other defect. Maybe just bad photographs. The one mentioned above is in THAT category as well.

Not everything listed on ebay sells the first, second or even the third time it is listed. Sales of various items are cyclic and even the time of the month makes a big difference (people spend at the first of the month when they have money).
   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 10:39:44 EDT

Hello Guru -
Thinking about purchasing the Mankel Gas Forge 3 burner open front and back w/blower for natural gas.

Architect needs us to twist 1.5" sq post about 30".

I need a long heat.
Thxs, Sam Boccuzzi(Turley Forge Student) Hi Frank.
   Sam Boccuzzi - Monday, 09/17/07 11:11:20 EDT

Thank you again, guru, for the advice on the Murray repairs. I will let you know how it goes. Alair
   Alair - Monday, 09/17/07 11:15:47 EDT

Long Heat, gas Forge: Sam, I am not familiar with that specific forge. However, from the Centaur Forge website I see it is considerably shorter than 30" (20 to 24" depending on how you read the specs). The vertical interior height is also only 2" which means a 1.5" bar will be filling the forge and not allowing circulation around the part. Depending on where you put the bar it would be blocking the burners and the flames would be impinging on the work creating hot spots. I suspect you would have a difficult time getting an even heat to make an even twist of that size with this forge. You would have to spend all the heating time moving the bar around. I would use a propane rose bud before trying to heat this size work in this forge.

The NC-Tool 5 burner tunnel model would do this job much better IF you can get one. NC only builds their large models on request (special order) at this time.

NC Five Burner Tunnel

* Five Burner Forge
* 5-3/4"H x 6"W x 32½"L Firebox
* Operates on either 2 or 5 burners
* Weight - 140 lbs

They also built a 6 burner model which had a 37" long firebox.
   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 11:31:11 EDT

NC can advise you of operating their forges on natural gas. I know it is done.

The advantage of the small modular burners in the NC-Tool forges is the even heating. The chamber cross section is just right for that 1.5 to 2" bar stock. For best heating the parts would need to be rolled OR they could be spaced off the floor a half inch or so on pieces of broken refractory brick or kiln furniture.
   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 11:36:49 EDT

Thank You Guru for the information/advise.
Have a nice day.
   Sam Boccuzzi - Monday, 09/17/07 11:42:22 EDT

Hi everyone.
1. I'm working on forging a kelp leaf. If you look on the internet, you can see that it's a long, narrow leaf that has a "float" or little ball at the base of the leaf. I tried to apply the "forging a ball" demo from the how-to section of your website but so far I've met with _very_ limited success. I can't seem to get the loop to weld evenly onto the round stock, it starts to slant and crease and I get one or two little lines through my otherwise pretty ball. I tried cheating and using a stainless nut on the stock and got the same problem. How else can I make a ball?
2. Also, lately I've been wrapping hot steel around rocks. Sometimes the rocks explode. I think this is awesome but my boss says I have to quit exploding rocks around the forge. I'm working with 1/2" round, so it's too thick to cold-forge it around the rocks with the D-Acro or anything, the rocks are about as big as your two thumbs put together and they crush and break if I try to do it cold. How can I prep rocks to get wrapped in iron, also, could I prep them sufficiently to allow them to be placed in a forge heat? The rocks are granite, if that matters.
3. Thirdly, since we're on the safety kick, I'm interested in firing steel shot out of a .20 gauge at a sheet of cherry red 1/2" steel plate. Has anyone here ever fired a gun at hot steel? What did it look like?

Reading this post it probably seems as though I am the last person you would want in your forge but I assure you I hold to high safety standards when I'm exploding rocks and shooting guns.
   - Nathan - Monday, 09/17/07 13:47:29 EDT

Shooting at steel plate: Don't do it. There is a good utube video of a fellow shooting a rifle at steel plate at about 100 yards or more and the bullet returned to knock his safety goggles off. . . Now, a shot gun and shot is different but it CAN come back on you. On hot 1/2" steel the little pellets are just going to make little scratches and dimples then come back at you at about 50% of full velocity. . . Does the phrase "Hey Verne, Watch THIS" mean anything?

You can get a better effect using a pecking hammer or a round pointed punch. On plate that thick even a fairly high powered round is not going to make a good dimple.

Kelp Leaf: I'm not having much luck finding decent kelp images and I am not much of a beach person. . .

From what I have seen you want to start with a bar the diameter of the ball at least. I'd probably forge the leaf first leaving a heavy shoulder for the ball then using a lever, guillotine swage, or spring swage make a groove to isolate the mass. Finish forging the stem and dress the ball. Should be a pretty easy forging once you get the steps right.

Hot Rocks: This can be a seriously dangerous business. Normally non water containing igneous rocks are not a problem and granite should fit this category. However, many rocks absorb moisture over the eons. . . I would carefully try other types of rocks. To test all you need to do is take a torch to rock and see if it spalls. Do this under controlled conditions (in a box away from other poeple)while wearing safety glasses, aprons, gloves and any other safety equipment you have.

   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 14:41:59 EDT

I need both top and bottom dies for a 25lb. little giant. any information will be very helpful.
Thanks Dwayne Kent
   Dwayne Kent - Monday, 09/17/07 15:43:14 EDT

Dwayne, Little Giant is still around as a parts depot owned by Sid Suedemier. Look on our Power Hammer Page, List of Manufacturers for his web site. Be SURE to tell him we sent you. This is the second time in a week we have sent someone to him!

   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 15:48:47 EDT

I have been blacksmithing for a year now and I am ready to build a shop with a proper cement foundation and a bulding.

I was thinking to build a 20 by 20 building. Any advise on the size of the shop? Sould i go bigger? Since I am doing this as a hobby, I might do it commercially one day but this is not my main focus for now

Where can i find floor plan of blacksmith shop to compare and see if some design suit me better than others? I have a good idea of what I want and where to have my stuff, but I always like to know what the more experience balcksmith like to have as layout in their shop.

Thanks in advance

North Troy, Vermont

   dan - Monday, 09/17/07 17:29:45 EDT

Shop Layout: Dan, The plan varies with the purpose and type of equipment. The few old plans around are for farrier/wheelwright shops from the 18 and 1900's.

FIRST RULE: You never have enough space

SECOND RULE: Nature abhors a vacuum and no matter how much space you have it will fill up (with SOMETHING).

THIRD RULE: Height is almost as important as square footage. Most people forget overhead space (ceiling height) is important for ventilation, noise and moveing work and machinery.

Blacksmithing is a HEAVY business. The tools are heavy, the product is heavy, and the machines are heavier. Some kind of sky hook (taking advantage of that height) sure IS handy.

Ventilation, active forced ventilation, is also an important consideration in a blacksmith or welding shop.

Forge areas depend on the type of forge. Chimneys are fairly permanent but gas forges get moved around. A big masonry chimney is also VERY permanent. Modern shops tend to lean toward the flexible with movable steel forges and modular ducting and vent systems that can be rearranged.

Machinery? Air compressor, drill press, power hammer(2), cutting table, weld platen? Saw and stock rack? Steel comes in 20 foot lengths and a cutting area at the end of the stock rack adds 10 to 15 feet.

Generally the forge area should be compact with the anvil and vise only a step or less away from the forge. However, these items should not impede traffic. Anvil stands used to be logs dug deeply into the ground and could not be moved. Today we use portable anvil stands so the anvil can be near or far from the forge as needed. Vises on the other hand should be well anchored so that leverage operations such as bending and twisting can be carried out.

In shops with power hammers they are often located near the forge as well BUT must have clearance where long bars can be fed through them (texturing bars, forging top rail). You need to think about large AND small work. Small work needs short travel distances to retain heat and large work needs turn around space.

Do you want assembly room for large projects? This can also double as vehicle space for bringing a truck indoors. This takes about 10 x 24 feet at a minimum. Go measure your pickup truck then allow enough room to walk around it. My assembly space is almost always full of SOMETHING. For the past couple years it has had a table for cutting Kaowool and an area filling with junk that needs to go. . . .

A good way to plan a shop is with scale templates at 1"=1' or larger. Make poster or file card cutouts of various tools and equipment. I include the workzone (body space) in white and color in the tools and machinery in black. Work zones can overlap but there are times when you may want a helper or guest working with you. Dedicated work space at each station is best. You also need to allow for passage of stuff (hand trucks loaded, appliance sized isles). Don't forget space for a desk (for drawings, reference materials) and a phone.

You are the only one that knows what you are going to do in your shop and the type of equipment. I've known folks to get away with a 10x10 foot shop and others quickly fill a 40x60.
   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 19:20:09 EDT

Hey Guru,

All good points to consider

Thanks for the promt reply

   dan - Monday, 09/17/07 19:40:39 EDT

Guru, I've been welding on heavy equipment for 18 years . I decided to make my own anvil, used some of your ideas,and some of mine it worked out great saved me a fourtune. I got pics of it would like to send them ,and get your thoughts. thanks.
   Tim Shepherd - Monday, 09/17/07 20:10:56 EDT

Tim if you don't mind i would like to see the anvil you made. i've been considering maknig my own but am afraid to try. ...i would like to see some success stories.
Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Monday, 09/17/07 20:23:54 EDT

Dan, the first ting I thought when I read your request was "well is he going to be swinging 20' stock around for gates or welding up billets for knives"---the forges and equipment and space needs are quite different---yes they both need a powerhammer but you need a lot less space behind the die for billet making.

One way to chek a planned layout is to get some sidewalk chalk and actually chalk out your layout and then holding a piece of stock try manuvering around through it.

One thing I wish I had done was to leave enough room for me to drive my truck all the way through and out the back door of my shop---save the hassle of backing in when I have a load to drop there.

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/17/07 20:32:35 EDT

Tim, Send away. Just click on my name link below and it SHOULD launch your email client. I do not block attachments but a sensible subject helps.

   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 20:41:36 EDT

Fear of Flying, Anvil Making: Andrew, Unless you spend a LOT on tool steels, heat treating and or hard facing rod (very uneconomical in my opinion) a DIY anvil is always going to be a just an "OK" tool. However, it can be ANY shape you want it to be. And in some cases this plus pride in the accomplishment and ownership of a work of art is all that matters.

Making a really NICE DIY anvil is a lot of work. It is largely art. You start with a stack of bits and pieces of steel and fit them together with the best welds you can make, grind everything into submission and TA-DA' you have an anvil.

You can also flame cut one out of LARGE pieces. But this requires machinery or practiced skill. It is very easy to create a mess that no amount of grinding can fix.

The one critical thing is that if you do not have an eye for design, you cannot draw it, or model it in clay, then you most likely cannot make it. To be an artist blacksmith is to be an ARTIST first. You have to imagine it first, then translate that to the solid either directly or with in between stages such as drawing or modeling.

If you do not try you cannot succeed.

There are a half dozen plus success stories on the link above (see Gallery) plus a LOT of ideas.
   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 21:05:44 EDT

My shop is 20 x 20 and it has become a tool shed. I had my gas forge in there and it damned near asphyxiated me. The coal forge was in there, too, until it occurred to me that I was in imminent danger of burning the place down. Now I do all my work outside except for the drill press and trip hammer. By the time you get a leg vise, a machinist's vise, a trip hammer, floor model drill press, an arc welder, a MIG welder, a lathe, a stand-up desk and some tool cabinets in a room that size you can scarcely scratch your ear without banging your elbow. Make it bigger, as large as you can possibly afford. It'll still be cramped.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 09/17/07 21:36:51 EDT

i'm thinknig of making a small rivit forge from an old broken BBQ it's only about 18"X18" my question is can i use a regular concreat becasue that's all i have on hand.
   - son - Monday, 09/17/07 22:23:12 EDT

Concrete for what purpose? And no, it is generally not suitable in a forge. It will spall (explode from steam) if heated to high temperatures.

Refractory concrete uses different aggregates that can take high temperatures (mostly synthetic Mullite) and a refractory binder that water cures but does not retain a high degree of water. When fired it "calcines" without losing its bond. Normal concrete uses aggegates that do not take high temperatures and the cement that bonds it retains a high degree of water that causes spalling and breaks down at relatively low heats.

Most steel or cast iron forges do not need a refractory liner. Old cast iron forges were clayed to prevent thermal shock but cement was not used.

BBQ's are made from a variety of materials. Those made of aluminum are not suitable for a forge. See our plans page for brake drum forge plans. Modify as needed for the junk you have on hand.
   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 23:05:19 EDT

Shop Size: Yep, 20x20 sounds large until you park a lawn mower and a wheel barrow next to the forge. . .

My home machine shop with benches along one wall, a hand crank drill press, a big old floor drill press, two small lathes, a 4x6 saw and a hydraulic press all fit into 15x15. There was also two large tool chests and a foot operated grinder. It was only suitable for small work but I had three people working in that space at one time. One day we drilled so many 3/4" holes that we had to haul out three trash barrels full of chips. . .

But that was a VERY crowded shop and there was no place to use a torch or angle grinder. All that and welding was done out doors. But it was dry and off the ground.

A forge shop would fit in such a space. In fact I had a welding shop with a 50# Little Giant, Forge, big welding bench, welders, kitchen stove (handy), a big vise and a hydraulic press in a 15 x 20 space. But there was no place to store tools and the grit from welding and grinding was not conducive for keeping anything else in the space. In fact, I did not like having the LG in there. MIG sputter ball grit and angle grinder grit is rough on machinery.

Put the 15x15 and the 15x20 together and you have a long small "shotgun" shop of 35x15 with no storage space. That is 125 square feet larger than a 20x20. You could do a lot in that space if you were efficient and kept to the scale that fit the shop.

Old timey jewelers and instrument makers had little bench top forge and foundry operations that took up less space than the typical kitchen stove. They made small forgings and brass castings using a small moulder's bellows. Their anvils were small and machinery was small bench top type stuff. Add benches with vises, polishing stations and storage and the whole would fit nicely in a 12x12 including a small store front.

It all depends on the scale of your work.
   - guru - Monday, 09/17/07 23:27:47 EDT

today I tried to harden a sen I made out of a section of leaf spring. I hardened it in moter oil well above the critital temp., but the hardening failed. I just don't know what went wrong. Maybe I lost all the carbon from forging in a oxidizing fire( just my propane forge). I could some body give me some hints on what I might have done wrong? thanks.
   troy - Tuesday, 09/18/07 00:14:02 EDT

Hey All,
so, i got an old 23 inch diameter 2 inch wide sandstone sharpening wheel,
and its been ground down to about 14 inches,
i had the brilliant idea that maybe i could make it run on a stationary bycicles front wheeel, or i could use the chain and wheel of a regualar bycycle and jimmy it up sot hat the wheel is held in place above the front tire of the bike
and the front tire spins
and that spins the grinding wheel
and i would think that there would be a hinge or pivot point where the arms holding the sharpening wheel in place are attached to the bike, so that as it gets smaller it stays firmly against the wheel,
now, heres my dilema, im worried about, max speed these wheels can sustain
as well as things like do you use a wheel like this wet or dry, its sandstone apparently,
in quite good conditiona, and it is true,

has anyone tried this before,
and , if so, did it work, and ifnot, does anyone have any brilliant ideas on how to make my wheel grind?

thank you ,
   Cameron - Tuesday, 09/18/07 01:57:51 EDT

Shooting steel targets...

I haven't seen the utube video mentioned but shooting steel targets is exactly what the whole sport of silhouette shooting is about. Various sized animal silhouttes made from heavy steel plate are shot at various distances with various calibers with the goal being to knock them over.

I don't know what conditions existed in the video but generally the bullet will break/splatter when hitting a steel target and there isn't much left to come straight back any distance. I wouldn't try it at very close range because there will be splatter but the splatter is unlikely to resemble a bullet.

Bullets will of course ricochet but this isn't a "straight back" thing and water is as good a surface as anything for skipping bullts.

I did read of a case years ago where a guy shot a hubcap at CLOSE range with a 44 mag. The guy got a lump on his forhead when, rather than penetrating the hubcap, the concave surface redirected the projectile back his way. again, something I read, and I don't know if this one is true either.

After many years of shooting all sorts of targets with all sorts of firearms, my gut tells me there is something about the utube video that's pure BS. We may have to wait for Paul Harvey to give us "The Rest of the Story"
   Mike Ferrara - Tuesday, 09/18/07 08:36:09 EDT

Exploding rocks: Native Americans would keep baseball sized rocks in their fires to put in their bedding while sleeping on sverely cold winters. This is a survival technique that I read in Tom Browns series. He warns the reader to avoid using stones found near water, as there may be small amounts of water inside the stones structure that when heated expands and causes the rock to explode.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/18/07 08:46:40 EDT

i was gonig to line the inside of the BBQ with concreat to give it more support just to make a little bowl for the fair to be in.

   - son - Tuesday, 09/18/07 09:10:25 EDT

The utube rifle video. There were no details. It was pretty short. The guy was definitely hit by the returning bullet or he was a VERY VERY good actor. OR someone was shooting back.


Years ago I helped some friends build an indoor backstop. They used a steel plate at an angle in a old thick wall oil tank. The bullets hit the plate and then spun around in the tank and stopped where they could collect them. After a few returning rounds from hitting the frame which was not angled and a few that were just plain spit out of the tank they abandoned the idea.

The problem IS low probability things DO happen. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/18/07 10:21:40 EDT

Son you can just use clay mixed with ashes. My first forge was built from an old sink and I used dry sand from the creek to form the basic shape and then used clay from the creek mixed with wood ash to cover that for thye working surface.

Some rocks are a problem no matter where they are located. I remeber a campout in scouts where someone used crinoidal limestone for a fire ring and a piece exploded and punched a hole in a brand new air mattress---never been used and I got to sleep on the ground that night...(My revenge was swift and terrible!) This stuff was a good quarter mile or more from water and was still a danger!

Having visited Miles I can attest to the truth of his statements about his shop, as I recall we had to alternate our breathing when we were both in it...

When I moved out here I realized that my shop would become the defacto lawn and garden tool storage location unless I did something about it. So I got an old short school bus that holds the camping gear, rakes, shovels, etc leaving me a bit more room in the smithy and a lot fiewter trip/grab hazards.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/18/07 10:55:44 EDT

Sandstone Wheel: Cameron, These were typically used wet but you do not want the wheel to soak in a tank or trough. This causes the wheel to swell out of round and the water makes that side heavy. The result is a soft heavy high side that wears rapidly and out of balance.

Maximum speed on these is pretty low due to being natural stone of questionable consistency. When in use with a foot treadle the maximum speed was about 120 RPM.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/18/07 11:04:59 EDT

As I've said here before, I've seen richochets off hardwood bowling pins (one of which came straight back and struck my father in the head, causing a cut that required several stitches). I suspect this isn't such a problem with common steel targets because they're rarely perpendicular to the ground, and they're normally hinged to fall when struck, which absorbs energy. I suspect both factors reduce the chance of ricochets. My guess is that the target in the video happened to be just about normal to the path of the bullet at the point of impact, heavy, and too thick to penetrate. That sort of target *will* cause ricochets, and under the right circumstances a few of them *will* come pretty much straight back.

If you want to get a sense of how common ricochets really are, and of the bizarre trajectories they can take, go to a range where a lot of tracers are being fired. It'll make you get religion about shooting at hard targets.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/18/07 11:13:53 EDT

Matt and Mike: The rifle used in the youtube video is a Barrett .50BMG. Not your average target gun, for sure.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/18/07 11:20:13 EDT

Ricochets: How many of us have had a missblow on an anvil and have the hammer come back and nearly hit us in the face. I've only had it happen maybe a half dozen times in 40 years. Its scary. And I've been lucky that every time was a miss. Or maybe its the preservation factor that keeps this seemingly uncontrollable mass from hittin one in the mouth.

I've not shot firearms a lot, mostly shotguns. But I spent a few years seriously into archery. Once in a while an arrow would do a 90° off a backstop (or even grass) and another 90° off a tree limb and come flying back at you. It is surprising to see but it does happen if you shoot enough arrows.

While not a ricochet the really STUPID thing is the Arab celebrating by shooting guns into the air in large numbers or using automatic weapons for same. The result is almost ALWAYS the death of one or more innocents nearby from falling bullets.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/18/07 12:03:12 EDT


Yes indeed. I put a couple rounds (just a couple) through a Barrett, more than twenty years ago. It's probably less ricochet-prone than most guns, because 650(ish) grains at 2900(ish) fps will be more inclined toward punching through than bouncing off. But any solid projectile can ricochet under the right circumstances. I'll leave it at that, since there are other places on the 'Net for this sort of discussion.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/18/07 12:12:58 EDT

Troy, first of all, some leaf springs are not 5160 or 6150 as we all assume. Second, you may not have soaked it long enough to dissolve the carbides into the austenite. Third you may not have reached a fully austenitic condition. Fourth, you may have quenched it too slowly to form martensite. Fifth, the surface may be decarbed and soft but the inside may be hard. Last, you may not have held your mouth just right. :-)
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/18/07 12:29:05 EDT

To follow up on last week's O/A torch questions, I'm back from my Midwest run and here's what I have: http://tinyurl.com/2w3y8g

Plus O2 and acetylene cylinders with some gas in them. I haven't figured out the cubic footages of the cylinders, yet, but theylook about like these: http://tinyurl.com/3265b3

Also this little guy, complete with full cylinders of both gases: http://tinyurl.com/3b3mda

I had everything checked out at a local welding supply shop before I left, and they all seem to be mechanically sound. The hoses still need to be tested for leaks, which I'll do before I fire up the torch, but they *look* like they're in good shape.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/18/07 12:30:55 EDT

I am looking for a complet set of plans and prints to build my own, add-on, wood burning stove to my homes central furnace. I am an experinced welder & fabricator with a pretty fair shop and supply of materials at home. THANX
   chad - Tuesday, 09/18/07 12:35:25 EDT

Where bullets are made of lead, wouldn't the plate just make them aborb energy and spread and go through, or just richochet some (but not near at 50% velocity).

Falling bullets would not cause death, due to the lack of mass. Dropping a penny off a skyscraper will not kill someone, because it can only achieve so much force.
   - Hollon - Tuesday, 09/18/07 12:35:48 EDT


To be a little more specific about QC's comment that you may have quenched too slowly: make sure you preheat your oil. 140F or so should do. Cold oil is a slow quenchant, especially relatively viscous oil like you're using. And don't fool around moving the work from forge to quenchant. It should take about a second, not two or three or four.

If you can't manage good enough temperature control for a soak at the austenitizing temp, you might try two or three quenching cycles. A bladesmith/metallurgist I trust suggested that more carbides will dissolve in the austenite that way. QC will correct me if I'm wrong about that.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/18/07 12:42:29 EDT


The problem does seem to bey worse with copper jacketed bullets, and the tougher the jacket the worse the problem. But I don't think it's safe to assume that any bullet *can't* richocet under the right circumstances. And note: most modern, factory-made pistol and rifle bullets *are* copper jacketed, except .22s.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/18/07 12:59:56 EDT

Basic physics says that a bullet fired straight up will return at the same speed it left the gun---*NOT* taking air friction into effect. With air friction you need to know the terminal velocity for that shape and density and then see if it would reach it under the old 32.2 (or 9.8) acceleration dropping from the height it would reach going up. If it was a good sized slug I could well believe it would come down fast enough with enough energy to penetrate a skull.

Hollon; my smoothbore fires a 1# lead ball I would not want to bet I'd survive it dropping on me---though it is rather a special case. I'd worry about a deer slug from a 12 gauge too.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/18/07 13:18:02 EDT

QC and Matt B
Could you do a breakdown of austenizing terminology among the other terms and temperatures for us dummies.

   - A Real Herb - Tuesday, 09/18/07 13:18:44 EDT

After watching that vid. The round appears to hit several feet in front of, and then back to the shooter. So it was not really straight back and he was shooting up hill. There is a small dust cloud at the top of the hill ( upper right of the frame)
   daveb - Tuesday, 09/18/07 15:16:14 EDT

The whole point is that a gun is not a good blacksmithing tool.

If you want pierced or dimpled plate you get the same results from a sharp punch on a long handle swung like a battle axe as from a bullet. In fact we played with these at the Armour-In a few years ago and it really showed how worthless plate armour was unless your opposition had no steel weapons at all. Swords and pikes are no good but swing a spiked battle ax type weapon at a man in armour plate and he is going to be seriously wounded if you connect. Thus the short historical life of full plate armor.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/18/07 15:34:28 EDT

Wow a 1# ball, seems pretty hefty to me. I don't know too much about firearms, just have .22 that I target shoot with some.

Assuming that these Arabs are shooting AK-47's, they are shooting an 8 gram bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2329 ft/s and 2010 J of energy (1478 ft lb). Now if I could make heads or tails of how to get the drag coefficent for it, I could find the terminal velocity for it. Could someone explain this to me?
   - Hollon - Tuesday, 09/18/07 15:55:25 EDT

I think ballistics belongs elsewhere. That said, I have been hit by a shot fired from an M! carbine into the air at a wedding. It had travelled about a mile horizontally, and broke a window before making a fleshwound about an inch deep. It came in at a slightly higher angle than 45 degrees. If it had been fired straight up and come straight down, it would have done much more.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 09/18/07 16:29:06 EDT

shooting a bullet at hot steel doesn't seem to have much of an impact, but does anyone here blast metal into shape(what's that called?) You arrange what you want into a pattern on the ground, put a plate of metal over it. put some form of blasting powder on that and ignite it(from a safe distance hopefully). Instant repouisse(sp?)

When I was about 12 I shot a 22 long from my first gun at a tree(ironwood) that was just over 300 yards away. apparently I hit either a knot or a nail and that little piece of lead came back and hit the side of my house about 4 feet to my left. Needless to say, I went back to shooting squirrels after that.
   - James M - Tuesday, 09/18/07 17:38:28 EDT

I have an old Mec Brown 75 wet saw (PEDRAZZOLI S.P.A.). The recommended coolant is water/oil emulsion. The question: Is there a non-oil based coolant that can be used as a cutting fluid substitute ?
   Roller - Tuesday, 09/18/07 17:43:48 EDT

I have been hit by a bullet fired into the air as well. I am missing a hunk of bone from my left thumb, it dislocated my shoulder and did tendon damage.
When the PLO evacuated Lebanon, they could not take ammo, so theyexpended it into the air. I believe that about 20 died.
A bullet, fired at a thick enough plate, hitting square on will bounce back with great velocity. It will also often spall off a hunk on the side opposite the strike. An old technique for defeating very thick, very hard armour plate.

If I wanted to texture steel plate, I would follow Jock's suggestion of the tool like a pole ax, of a pnuematic hammer. Another suggestion would be a welders needle gun. Used on a hot weld, quite a deep texture can be achieved.
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/18/07 18:20:32 EDT

Back when it was legal to burn trash, we used an old 55 gallon drum as our burn barrel. The sides needed to be perforated to let the fire breathe. When it was time to replace the barrel, Dad sent me out there with a pick and I imagined that I was a medieval footman with a war hammer, pounding on an unhorsed knight in plate armor. It made me feel sorry for unhorsed knights in plate armor.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/18/07 18:37:02 EDT

Mounting a Fence Post
Hey folks I am making a fence with 4" square 1/8" walled steel tube Fence Posts between the Fencing panels.
I was wondering what mounting options ya'll might come up with for the Fence Posts. There will be a concrete foot poured for the base.
   blackbart - Tuesday, 09/18/07 18:46:21 EDT


If you read QC's mini-treatise on the metallurgy of heat treating, you'll know almost as much about the subject as I do. If you memorize it, you'll probably know more than I do. http://tinyurl.com/2xonsh
   Matt B - Tuesday, 09/18/07 18:47:12 EDT

Matt B
Thank You. Just what I was looking for!!
   - A Real Herb - Tuesday, 09/18/07 19:42:42 EDT

Roller, Check the coolant pages of the MSC catalog or their website for a large selection of coolants. I personally am using Rust Lick WS 600 in my cold saw these days and it works well but it is a water soluble oil. There are also full and partial synthetics you could use instead. If you use a water soluble solution make sure to keep it at the right concentration to prevent rust buildup or having it turn into a nasty mass of jelly rather than liquid coolant.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 09/18/07 19:55:06 EDT

Herb, if you have questions after you read the paper, post them here or send me an email.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/18/07 20:06:58 EDT

Fence: BB, If you are talking about how to attach to the posts I'd say you will need adjustability for spacing (Longer horizontals to cut off). In situations like this I prefer bolted connections. Either tabs welded to the posts with bolts going through the horizontals or bolted on brackets with the same. Nice forged brackets can look like small braces and flat head or pan head screws used. I would tack weld square nuts into the hollow posts.

   - guru - Tuesday, 09/18/07 20:21:55 EDT

Hey, soon as I get my pics fixed I'll send them. I am fortunate to work in a field where I can get my hands on thick wear alloy metals, and got a boss who will give me the stuff just to see what I can come up with. The anvil I made is my first but not my last Lord willing. Its made out of 400 wear alloy takes an impact, and very hard ,burnt up 3 drill bits cobalt bits trying to get a half inch hole through it. I really like the help from everyone.
   Tim Shepherd - Tuesday, 09/18/07 20:34:29 EDT

Hello guru Im the 14 yr old that asked questions previously. I need to know about Starting coal fire, and how to keep the coal going. And out of curiosity will the coal eventually turn red hot or is it the coal's flame that heats the metal to red
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/18/07 20:38:37 EDT

Its me again would i do best to find blacksmith books at My local library here in Waco tx or hit the internet for books and info.
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/18/07 20:40:26 EDT

James M; I'm sitting a couple of miles from the blast sites where they have done a lot of explosive repousee and explosive welding art. Quite a few pieces of it on display here at NM Tech---we're famous for our explosives research program EMRTC.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/18/07 20:41:37 EDT

water soluble oils and synthetic lubes. It has been about two years since I was really into coolants but here goes;
Synthetics have a bad reputation for destroying wear surfaces on slides and the like. They make abrasive gums. They don't tend to go rancid, but are usually pretty hard on the equipment. In an occasional use shop they may be a decent choice, but as I have never used coolants in that situation I don't know.
water solubles. Older technology, still has good useful strenghts.Harder to maintain, but if maintaned, are easy on the machinery and the people.

Emuslified oil, and micro emulsions. Some of the newer micro emulsions have the easy maintainability of synthetic, but the easy on the machine and people good points of the soluable oils.

If you are having issues with rancid coolant, the following are the reasons and cures;
Tramp oil. Almost every machine leaks oil or has way oils that end up in the coolant. These oils are food for bacteria. The anarobic bacteria, those that live in the absence of oxygen love the fats in lube oil and the fat is their food. They respire hydrogen sulfide, the rotten egg smell. That is why you can let a machine sit for a cpouple of days and not smell much, but when that coolant starts to circulate that smell is rotten. The hydrogen sulfide is trapped under the oil film. Cure? remove the tramp oil BEFORE the bacteria can eat it. Reduce tramp oil leaks. Aerate the coolant 24/7. A fish tank aerator will work wonders on a small tank. Air in the coolant kills the bugs.

Your coolant does not last long and goes rank. If you merely remove the old coolant, and leave the sludge in the machine, the bacteria are already there as soon as you fill. If you sanitize, but leave the sludge, the bacteria will be killed a couple of inches into the sludge but bingo right back. If rank, empty, shovel, rinse out, sanitize, rinse, and refill.

Last but not least, no coolant is any better than the water it is made from. Use distilled, D.I> or at least soft water. The chlorides in the natural water around here cause you to use about 3% more concentrate than is indicated on the refractomer! The minerals tend to make hard water soaps that cause foaming and other issues.

Coolant causing dermatitis, (skin rash) This can be a real nightmare. Once sensatized, the rsh will come back to an affected worker in a couple of hours of exposure. Cure? Several. First Run the coolant at the correct concentration. That means MEASURE, don't guess. Use a hand held refractometer to mesure the concentration. Use Ph strips to hold the coolant at about 8.2 to 8.6, as this helps keep the bacteria in check, and the skin likes this Ph. Don't dose with bug killers unless you have read ALL the fine print, and are willing to follow the label EXACTLY. Most of the popular products like Kathon must be diluted to levels like 10,000 to 1. Too rich and the skin can slide right off. Fired a supervisor once for just pouring some into a sump. He poured about 6 oz into a 60 gallon sump. He had been warned before.
Keep the metal fines controlled. Metal fines in metal working fluids are a little known but very real cause of dermatitis from metal working fluids. Filter to about 5 micron. Any finer and you start to pull the emulsion droplets from suspension.
Call a real cutting tool distributor in your area, and buy from them. Demand help and training on the coolant. MSC, Graingers et al can't offer much help. The more you buy then more help available, but in a shop that uses a drum a year, you should get a visit from the factory rep or the local coolant tech at least once and he should bring tech documents.

We bought 1/4 million $ a year, or more, and got seminars at the factory, and weekly factory tech visits and testing of samples at the factory. A drum gets you a little less.

If you don't have a local guy willing to work with you for a 5 gallon bucket, e-mail me and I have some contacts that can probably be very helpfull for the small user.
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/18/07 20:45:02 EDT

Jacob Lockhart:

First, at the top of the page, click on the link to Getting Started in Blacksmithing. Lots and lots of good information there. Then click on the block for NAVIGATE anvilfire and read some of the entries there.

Your local library likely belongs to an inter-library loan program to where they can get most books sent to them for a reader for a fairly nominal fee.

Some I recommend: The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer, Practical Projects for the Blacksmith by Ted Tucker, The Backyard Blacksmith by Lorelei Sims and The Blacksmith's Craft (former called Country Blacksmithing) by Charles McRaven. Of those, the one by Ms. Sims should be your first read.

If you find a book of enough use to justify owning, under the NAVIGAGE anvilfire block go to the section on advertisers. Centaur Forge, in particular, carries a wide variety of books.

On your first question, it is the ignition of the carbon in the coal which produces the heat. The flames are somewhat a byproduct.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Tuesday, 09/18/07 21:20:11 EDT

I have just bought a pile of Iron Worker punches, at the scrap yard, and want to make some power hammer tooling using the ones that are larger and oval shaped. Hot cutters, veining chisels, fullers, etc. Do you know what kind of steel they use to make these punches? I want to properly heat-treat them. Thanks
   Mark Harrington - Tuesday, 09/18/07 21:32:15 EDT

Can you hook up an acetylene bottle to a normal propane forge to get a higher burn temp? Also, can you force compressed air to mix with the acetylene, just like in a torch, only in your forge? would this hurt something i am not thinking about? would the bore size of the nozzles need to be cahnged to do this?
   - more power - Tuesday, 09/18/07 21:45:47 EDT

Hi Guru
I am trying to order 3 large good quality anvils for a school in East Timor near Indonesia. No one has even responded to my emails. Can you recomend a supply that may want to take this on?

Warm regards

   Matthew Trevatt - Tuesday, 09/18/07 22:05:39 EDT

More Power: Just burn a greater ammount of propane to get the forge hotter. Forced air doesn't need high pressure, a blower is enough. Acetylene is way to expensive and a little dangerous to use in a forge. See the burner plans elsewhare on this website, they show aspirated and blown designs.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 09/18/07 23:18:35 EDT

Anvils to Indoneasia: Matthew, U.S. Dealers often ignore overseas inquiries due the high cost of shipping usually killing the sale. Currently a large number of our dealers are handling European anvils which already have a LOT of shipping on them.

If you have tried our advertisers I do not know what to say. I at least respond to overseas mail with a quote or a decline.

If you have not yet tried them I would try Nimba anvils www.nimbaanvils.com. They are on the West coast of the U.S. and are the manufacturer, not a middle man. Their anvils are very good and would have the least shipping.

You could also try Vaughns in Great Britian www.anvils.co.uk. They recently sent several anvils to friends in rural China. They are well versed in international shipping.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/18/07 23:36:37 EDT

Acetylene in Forges: M-P, acetylene temperatures will melt and burn steel as well as melt the refractory lining of the forge. . .

God or mother nature in their infinite wisdom gave us carbon and hydrocarbon based fuels that burn JUST hot enough using Earth's atmosphere at its 20-21% oxygen to smelt, remelt and heat to forge iron and steel. Any hotter (more oxygen) and it would be difficult to control scaling and burning. Any cooler (less oxygen) and we MIGHT not have reached the level of technology we have today due to the difficulty of smelting metals.

Learn to use your forge properly or to adjust it to best performance and it will be the best possible tool for the task without exotic fuels or added oxygen (a little boost from a fan helps).
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/18/07 23:46:30 EDT

Punch Steel: Mark, I quote from the largest manufacturer of industrial punches and dies in the country, who's punches are probably a high percentage of what you have.
"The Cleveland Punch & Die Company has our own proprietary steel melted specifically for us. The tooling that you receive from us is guaranteed to be consistent quality tool after tool. In addition to superior quality we use the latest state-of-the-art manufacturing methods."
That said, I would treat what you have like O1 or O2, possibly S7 (even an M type HSS). But as always, Junk Yard Steel rules apply.

The Cleveland Punch & Die Company's statement about proprietary steels applies to many manufactured products. You can have them chemically tested at a laboratory and they will be CLOSE to a standard steel, but not quite. There are no easy answers.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 00:03:25 EDT

What makes the iron hot? Jacob, Unless the coal fire is VERY deep it does not get hot enough on its own. What makes a forge different from a fireplace or BBQ is the bellows or blower that blows air THROUGH the fire from the side or underneath. A blown coal forge will reach over 3,200°F which is hot enough to melt and even burn up steel. Charcoal burns almost as hot.

You can take a single piece of burning charcoal (or a couple small pieces, or even well charred wood) and a tube like a straw and gently blow on it until you get a small white heat. This is best to do on a brick in a location where sparks are not a hazard. This will be hot enough to melt the end of a small steel wire like a paper clip or even the end of a piece of coat hanger wire. You could also heat a common nail to a good red sufficient to hot forge it. Please use pliers to hold these pieces.

This experiment can be done in a common smoking pipe. Not however that the pipe will not last long at consistent high heat.

While blowing on the coal you will see that blowing JUST right makes the hottest fire. Blow too hard and the air cools the fire and can even put it out, like blowing out a match. Blow too little and you do not get that high heat.

A forge is just a bigger stack of fuel and a bigger air supply. Adjust the air just right and you get those 3,000° temperatures.

Ideally you heat steel to only about 2500 to forge it. Done properly in a deep enough forge fire there is little oxygen left and the steel is not oxidized (scaled) very much.

The size of a forge is dependent on the size of the work and the length of time you are going to use it during the day.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 00:21:27 EDT

I would like to set up a blacksmith shop in my barn. Barn is 1880 post and beam construction with a wood floor. Under the wood floor is a 3 foot crawl space. They kept horse's in it. My concern is the wood plank floor being a fire hazard while doing blacksmith / metal work. Removing the wood floor the I think will lose its charter.

   Mark - Wednesday, 09/19/07 00:33:26 EDT

Homebrew acetylene/air forge:

Why not just ask how best to blow yourself up? Acetylene is a very dangerous gas under the most controlled ciurcumstances, and in a homebrew forge burner would be a prescription for disaster. Unlike propane, acetylene will combust in any proportion with air. Controlling the flame front to avoid a potentially lethal burnback is enough of an issue in a torch; they all now come with arrestors to prevent burnback. In a forge burner, with varying backpressure and a high ambient operating temperature, I don't see how you could possibly do it safely. The cost for acetylene is much higher than propane, so why bother?
   vicopper - Wednesday, 09/19/07 01:22:24 EDT

If I put a forge in a tobacco pipe, I'd be afraid of forgetting and sucking instead of blowing. Of course charcoal might be safer to smoke than tobacco -- but it's not something I'd want to try, even by accident.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 09/19/07 07:22:36 EDT

Matthew Trevatt:

Perhaps another reason U.S. suppliers don't respond to overseas inquiries is that many of them are potential scams, originating in Nigeria mostly. They have become quite good at sending nicely done fake checks or money orders.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Wednesday, 09/19/07 07:39:40 EDT

Does anyone have a phone # for Roger Lawrence of IL? I need to call him before he goes to Quad State. If you have one, you can email it to me if you don't feel comfortable posting it. Thanks.

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 09/19/07 09:12:42 EDT

Can you please help? i am doing a quiz and all the answers are tools the only one i am stuck on is "sounds like the girl is in debt at the blacksmiths" please let me know if you can help.

thank you
   Siobhan Reid - Wednesday, 09/19/07 09:29:25 EDT

Old Barn Blacksmith Shop: Mark, A structure of that type is a tinder box waiting for a spark. I know, I lived in an 1800's grist mill for 30 years. We nearly had a fire from a single cigarette ash on the one occasion we let a smoker in the building (no more after that). On the other hand, there were many old blacksmith shops in similar buildings.

Where the big problem is with a building of this type is not the wood so much as the century or more of fine debris that collects under the floor, in gaps between the floor and wall and other places. This consists of everything from mice and rat's nests, fine hay dust and feed, wasp's nests, bird's nests, old dry manure and many other highly flamable things. Rotted wood in the sills or anyplace that might have had termites is also a problem.

It is possible to clean this out but you are talking about weeks in that craw space with a vacuum cleaner. Then in the rafters, and along all ledges in the planking and even pulling up suspected planking creating hidden places. Then when you are done you would want to apply a fire retardant solution of borax and water to everywhere you can reach. Having this run into places you could not clean will reduce the flammability of those hidden mice nests made of finely chewed cotton and that dry manure forced between the planks. . .

Varnish, while more flammable then the wood helps seal fine crevises and rough edges. Mopping such a floor with that borax solution on a regular schedule would keep the wood moisture higher and as mentioned the leak through could also be beneficial.

Blacksmithing on a wood floor is not too much of a problem as long as you pick up any hot steel bits and stand a fire watch for an hour or so when done (good time for clean up). However, the BIG problem is grinding with an angle grinder, welding with an arc welder or cutting with a torch. These are all common tasks in the modern shop that did not exist in "ye olde blacksmith shoppe". All three of these processes spray sparks everywhere including into all those hidden places we were talking about. The cotton fluff in a mouse or rat's nest is the best fire starter in the world, can smolder for hours and a fine grinding spark can start it.

In old time blacksmith shops they did two things with wood floors. In some cases they covered an area around the anvil with sheet metal. In others they covered the floor in that area and around the forge with a couple inches of sand.

IF I was going to have a forge shop in such a building I would do ALL of the above. Clean it like you were a German Hausfrau, treat it with a fire retardant, varnish, cover hot spots with sheet metal and sand, mop regularly with the fire retardant solution, keep a fire watch and NOT perform high risk activities (grinding making sparks or any modern welding or cutting methods).

Other fire hazard reduction methods. Use fiberglass insulation and cover walls (and/or ceiling) with sheet rock or concrete sheet. Fit snuggly to floor. Cover window sills and ledges where sparks may catch with sheet metal flashing. There are more things but they get very expensive.

Think about it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 09:43:27 EDT

hello guru

do you know a way to antique brass so it looks worn and scratched with some discoloring? these are new leaded brass drawer pulls for a 18 century side cubbard so the customer says.

   paul cuyler - Wednesday, 09/19/07 12:33:25 EDT

Jacob, search for the Houston Area Blacksmith Association, I think the site is www.habiron.com but I am not sure. Waco is within driving distance of Houston and HABA has a lot going on every month.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 09/19/07 12:40:54 EDT

indeed Jacob. HABA (houston area blacksmith association) is a great place to learn and to grow as a smith. I'm part of haba and have been for about 2 years i'm only 16 so i started younger than yourself. Next month Oct. 5-7 there is a big blacksmithing gettogether called Forgefest. this year they are starting their training progression where new smiths liek youself and even some older ones like myself and a few other people is the group will be taught how to do basic techniques (hole punching, tapering, twisting ETC.) and then there will be atime to actualy go out and try your hand at some of it. it is in oldenburg Texas which isin't to far from you. and i will be there so if you come we can meet up and i'll hlep you along i will have my propane forge there and holpfully by then i'll have my coal forge built and usable. and i'll even let you borrow some fire.
Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Wednesday, 09/19/07 13:07:53 EDT

"sounds like the girl is in debt at the blacksmiths "

could be bell owe ? perhaps, but never been good at crosswords... :)
   - John N - Wednesday, 09/19/07 13:13:05 EDT

We're building a 3 burner gas forge and plan to use the kast-o-lite refractory lining. Is a 2" thickness sufficient?

What is the best material to use as the inside form when pouring the material? We're thinking we might layer up some styrofoam and then carve it to the right shape and then block out the holes for the burners.

We've always used kaowool in the past so this is new to us. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
   Julie - Wednesday, 09/19/07 13:22:34 EDT

Paul, Most brass hardware has been lacquered OR may even have an epoxy coating. This would have to be removed first. Brass by its very nature does not oxidize rapidly and even applying acids can be slow to cause an effect. However, there are coloring and browning solutions for copper and brass from folks like Brownel's and Van's Bluing.

I've used vinegar to fair effect. Many "antiqued" bronzes are tinted lacquers. These are much easier to control than other methods.

Scratches are a "distressed" finish applied artificially. This as well as other aging are an art. On latches and such finger nail, ring and key chain scratches are most common but then there is also moving damage. Tools for making scratches include files, sandpaper of various grits, scribers and surfaces like concrete. Scratches are usually local to use and not too obvious. Overdoing is the buggaboo of faking age. Most scratching is done after chemically aging the surface but some can be done before hand.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 14:01:22 EDT

Kast-o-lite: Julie, I know nothing of this particular castable. I can tell you that castables are not NEARLY as strong a fired brick. They must also be dried very throughly before firing. AND as do other lightweight refractories they benefit from a coating of ITC-100 AFTER they are dry and calcined (hot fired). They are also almost as susceptible to flux damage as are the kaolin board and blanket materials.

2" is sufficient. Note however that dense refractories are NOT insulators and this will conduct and radiate a LOT more heat than a light weight blanket liner. You may want a layer of insulating material outside the hard refractory.

I've made expensive wood forms for castable refractory and it was a huge wast of time. Styrofoam will work but I recommend a mish-mash of carboard and papermache. When you are done, pull out what you can then burn it out. Build it JUST strong enough to support the concrete like refractory. Note however, that these are also called "ramable" refractories indicating they need to be made dry and worked into place.

Use your actual burner tubes with several layers of paper taped around them. Be sure to continue the bore diameter all the way into the forge OR taper it out somewhat. You need the end of the burner to make a step in diameter (a square shoulder) to create a "flame holder". Taper and blend the form into the forge body.

Good luck!
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 14:16:31 EDT

We have done this a couple of times for pottery kilns. The manuufacturers suggest using waterproof forms such as formica or plastic covered wood to prevent the form from soaking up water too rapidly from the hot face. As for the thickness, you should call the local supplier, tell them your target temperature and they should be able to help you with that. Let me know how it works because I've thought hard about casting one myself.
   Randy - Wednesday, 09/19/07 14:17:45 EDT

Waterproof Forms: Ha. . . that is what I forgot. Varnish your paper/cardboard form before using. You can also wax it as a release agent but I found that wax is not sufficient with an aggregate type product. It rubs off and the cement sticks anyway. That is why I recommend a form you burn out when you calcine the refractory. Less damage to the refractory. It can even be used in limited production.

   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 14:42:39 EDT


I am halfway through your paper. It is an interesting read. I will have to read several times to absorb all the info. So far answering my questions.
   - A Real Herb - Wednesday, 09/19/07 15:01:19 EDT

Thank you both very much for the information. It helps a lot. We're going to use some bricks on the floor for added protection. Where can I purchas the ITC-100?

Thanks again!
   Julie - Wednesday, 09/19/07 15:38:17 EDT

in the anvilifre store
   Andrew B. - Wednesday, 09/19/07 16:04:06 EDT

We sell ITC-100 in our store in pints, half gallons and gallons. Check the literature links.

I like bricks for floors myself for durability and replaceability. I turn them on edge (the 4.5" direction) to get the best insulation value. Hard refractories DO insulate some but a couple inches heats up fast.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 16:23:47 EDT

Larry Hedden: I took a lot at that 125 pound Trenton listing. Very early TRENTON (hour-glass depression in bottom and USA under diamond). Not in all that bad of condition. Buyer did indicate a fixed shipping cost of $80, but then said in Q&As it was based on delivery to the West Coast and it would be actual FedEx shipping plus $4.00 handling.

I noticed a couple of other anvils with didn't get a bid. May be a reflection of the U.S. economy being in a lot worse condition than the administration would like you to believe.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Wednesday, 09/19/07 18:06:11 EDT

Belle owes..
I think you got it John. I was thinking "O" punch, but that's not really blacksmith specific
   JimG - Wednesday, 09/19/07 18:13:50 EDT

Kast-O-Lite is an insulating castable that comes in several different mixes for specific applications. When I looked into doing this I talked to a guy at Harbison-Walker and learned that they have insulating castable mixes that are rated for 2600 F and are SHOCK RESISTANT. This would help a lot with quick heat up and cool down of a forge. Also they sell stainless steel pieces of wire that are to be mixed in with the castable for reiforcing the cement-like composition. Try to find someone with a pottery kiln to slowly bisque fire the forge so you don't damage it trying to cure it with burners. At http://www.hwr.com/products/datasheetsv1.asp you can veiw the data sheets on the various Kast-o-lite mixes. Kast-O-Lite 26 is what I would use.
   Randy - Wednesday, 09/19/07 18:41:22 EDT

The state of the US economy is strictly regional- around here, you cant walk around without tripping over "help wanted" signs- welders can get work at $22 an hour right off the street, and a worn out old Atlas home shop lathe just sold for $1300 at a garage sale near me.
Local shops supplying Boeing have been doubling employees every year lately, every construction company and subcontractor is so busy they dont answer phone calls.
Manufacturing in LA is at record highs, California is the 9th largest economy in the world.
$200,000 Mazak CNC machines are backordered for 6 months. Gene Haas in Venture Ca is making 1000 CNC machines a month, and selling 200 of em to the Chinese, each and every month.

But buying anvils sight unseen, and paying large amounts of shipping goes against the grain of penny pinching blacksmiths, no matter how much money they have.

I know blacksmiths who make over $100k a year in their day jobs, and they will still bicker for a half hour to save five bucks at the flea market.

Anvils are not needed in modern industry- and if they are, the companies dont buy em on ebay. So the market on ebay for anvils tells you about as much about the US economy as the market for Scooby Doo lunch boxes does- which is, not much.

Now if you told me the Chinese had slowed down buying Cadillac Escalades- they cost $140,000 each in China, and GM cant ship em over there fast enough- well, then I would be worried.
   - ries - Wednesday, 09/19/07 19:12:57 EDT

Lately, my billable welding hours have been equally divided between stainless (sailboat parts) and mild steel (ag equipment repair) so switching back and forth (wire/gas) is time consuming. Can I use tri gas (normally used for stainless) instead of CO2/Argon with my mig for mild steel welding. I can get a better price on the tri gas. I do use stainless wire/tri gas if I'm welding any alloy steel or spring stock.

My welding supplier wouldn't give me a straight answer. Quality is important; I don't want any weld failures.
   brian robertson - Wednesday, 09/19/07 19:15:39 EDT

Brian, there's a *bunch* of stuff on MIG gasses at: http://www.weldreality.com/MIG_welding_gases.htm. Your answer's probably there if you read through enough. Of course, I don't know enough to vouch for the accuracy, but the guy at least sounds like he knows what he's talking about.

   Mike BR - Wednesday, 09/19/07 19:30:39 EDT

Brian, Sounds like you need two dedicated machines. . . You are still going to need to swap wire. On my old MIG machine I have two cylinders on the cart and swapping gas just means pulling a hose from one push-on barb to another. But swapping wire is swapping wire and loose a bit every time you do it, not just the time.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 19:45:39 EDT


I am confused on one point while reading your paper. Do you normalize before or after hardening and then temper?

Excellent paper...BTW

   - A Real Herb - Wednesday, 09/19/07 21:35:19 EDT

I have an old anvil with markings that say: Brookes Brothers Shefield. The anvil is 22 x 10 x 5. The base is 9.5 x 11.5. It is made of steel. What is it worth?
   Brenda - Wednesday, 09/19/07 22:07:56 EDT

Patrick Nowak,

You probably mean Roger Lorance of Canton, IL. He is googleable. Good castings.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/19/07 22:32:02 EDT

Brian the guy at WeldReality.com [Ed Craig] really knows His stuff. I suggest You read ALL of the material concerning manual MIG. He would most likely steer You away from the tri-mix even for the stainless. Jock's suggestion of 2 machines is valid for another reason as well, in that You probably shouldn't be running SS through the same liner that You run the carbon steel through from the standpoint of contamination.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 09/19/07 23:22:01 EDT

Brenda, I have a 1962 Ford Fairlane, what is it worth?

To guess at a price:

1) Location (some places have lots of anvils. An odd British anvil may be worth quite a bit in the U.S. to collectors but only worth what its worth in Britain). Shipping from remote locations and YOUR willingness to crate and ship enter into the equasion.

2) Condition: This would have to be evaluated by a blacksmith or we would have to see good clear photos of a clean anvil. Values run from scrap steel prices to $4/lb depending on condition.

3) Actual weight or other markings. Most British anvils are marked in hundred weight (three numerals seperated by dots). Dimensions are hard to convert to weight as anvil shapes are not standard. Anvils are generally evaluated somewwhat by weight.

4) Where you sell it and how big a hurry you are to convert it to cash. I'll give you $100 for it delivered (to NC, USA) sight unseen. . . NOW, not next week. But if you put it on ebay and don't rush listing it at LEAST 3 times if necessary you can probably get at least $300 + shipping for what I estimate is a 100 pound anvils. If its a collector's piece it might go for double that. But if its the cast anvil I think it is that is unlikely.

By the way, I don't really have a Ford Fairlane. But I DO have a spoked wheel style Dodge Brothers thread on Hub Cap (from about 1928) that I should list on ebay. Its probably worth more than a couple good anvils. But maybe not. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/19/07 23:36:45 EDT

Are there any color blind blacksmiths here? I an red-green color blind. So far it hasn't affected my forging much. I have been making fairly simple things like plant hangers, wall hooks, strap hinges and simple door handles. After I have some more experience, I would like to make knives. My concern is that I will not be able to see the correct colors to temper blades. A few colors look the same to me like blue and purple for example. Other colors I don't have a problem with. I just wanted to know if there are any blacksmiths dealing with this and if they had any suggestions. Thanks! Mike
   m. moriarity - Wednesday, 09/19/07 23:59:49 EDT

thank you for the info
there is no finish on them i just made them

i will try the vinegar.

   paul cuyler - Thursday, 09/20/07 00:38:21 EDT

Paul Cuyler,

For a simple distressed finish on that brass, just drop them in a cement mixer and run them around for about ten minutes. If that doesn't do enough, toss in some odd chunks of steel you have on hand. To darken it to a nicely aged color, I use Birchwood Casey's gun bluing, straight out of the bottle. It produces a durable, brownish-greenish color that matches aged bronze or brass perfectly. I just completed a couple of thousand dollars worth of work re-fitting and remodeling some antique bronze lighting fixtures from an old freighter ship using these methods, and the results were a perfect match.
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/20/07 01:16:56 EDT


Kastolite is good stuff, as long as you use the version that is rated for the temperatures you'll be developing in the forge. I've used it to line a few foundry furnaces with great success. It is pretty resistant to flux, and is a fair to poor insulator.

I'd sincerely recommend that you cast the refractory liner in a plastic form. I used Kydex plastic sheeting in 3/32" thickness for my forms. You can also use Sintra, an expanded PVC board available in 1/8" thickness. Both plastics are easily bent and formed; use a bit of heat form a heat gun if necessary. The Sintra can be glued with PVC plumbing cement. I get the Kydex and Sintra for a plastics supply or from a local glass supply, and sign supply houses also carry them.

I'd also recommend that you use 2" of Kaowool outside the Kastolite liner for insulation. You'll be very glad you did, believe me.

For a floor in a forge, I prefer silicon carbide kiln shelf. It is expensive, but it is resistant to flux, durable and comes in sizes that leave no seams. Check with a pottery supply for availability and prices.

Get your ITC-100 from the Anvilfire store and coat the liner with it. It pays for itself in gas savings and shorter heat times.

   vicopper - Thursday, 09/20/07 01:26:00 EDT

I am at Quad States. Well, actually I'm at a motel nearby, and will be there tomorrow. Tonight was a shopping night for me.

If there is any interest, I can send pictures to Jock to post in the News, and I'll report on the happenings in the Hammer-In.
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/20/07 01:28:10 EDT

Brenda: The Brookes Brothers anvil was likely made for them by Mousehole Forge in Sheffield (note spelling - does your's give it as Shefield?). If so, it would have a body of wrought iron with a steel plate on top.

Likely on the anvil under the name should be some numbers, such as 0 3 16. It would be the weight in the British stone system to where the first represents multiples of 112, the second multiples of 28 and third remaining pounds. Usually off from current scale weight a couple of pounds.

As a guess I would put year it was made at 1830-1860. If it does not have a round hole (only the square one) in the top, then perhaps a bit earlier.

In his book, Mousehole Forge, Mr. Postman noted he had documented some 20 British anvil makers exporting them to the U.S. before the Civil War, but only 4-5 afterwards. It is possible this anvil wasn't exported, per se, but arrived in the U.S. by some other means. It may have been brought in the U.S. by an immigrant or antique dealer or perhaps even used as ship ballast and then sold in the U.S. (such as done with cobblestones).

I will be seeing Richard Postman, author of Anvils in America, at the Quad-State Blacksmithing Conference this coming weekend and will ask him about it.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Thursday, 09/20/07 02:08:46 EDT

Re Electrolysis to remove rust

It looks fairly straightforward so I am going to try. I thought an old chest freezer would be good as the bath.

How do I do zinc plating by electrolysis? Is it viable as a project in a home workshop?
   - philip in china - Thursday, 09/20/07 07:17:01 EDT

Kastolite form:

Julie, I used an 8" Sonotube (cardboard tube for forming concrete posts from Home Depot) covered with wax paper. I drilled holes in the Sonotube and used some pipe for the burner ports. While the refractory was setting and getting stiff, I wiggled the pipes to get a little flare.

You can see my adventure at http://ironringforge.com/NewForgeSaga/New_Forge_Saga.html

   - Marc - Thursday, 09/20/07 09:27:24 EDT

Ken, nowhere does Brenda say she and the anvil are in the USA; assumption on your part or private communication?

Thomas---not going to Quad-State this year and cranky!
   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/20/07 11:11:09 EDT

Herb, You normalize after forging and BEFORE you austenitize, quench or temper.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 09/20/07 12:50:46 EDT

hello there, I have been lurking on this site for some time now, reading archives etc, and have been learning an incredible amount. I am a 4th generation tin smith and currently manage a sheet metal manufacturing facility. I have wanted to get into blacksmithing for a very long time, and picked up a sadly battered anvil about a year ago. I think it is a williams?, about 250 lb, but the heel is broken off flush with the waist. It still functions, has about 50-60 % rebound, so it will do for now. I have also built the reil burner, worked very well first time and cost me nothing, as I have scroungeritis bad too. I am now in the process of making the freon bottle forge. My question is thus, I have a quantity of refractory brick, approx 2" thick (the light stuff that looks like a mixture between styrofoam and mortar) Would this be suitable for the forge floor if I was to shape it to fit, and would it be necessary to place kaowool underneath? Also what would you suggest to cut this stuff. Thanks for such an amazing site. I have learned a lot, and continue to do so daily.
   Dan Raven - Thursday, 09/20/07 14:44:46 EDT

Insulating brick: Dan, Insulating brick comes in an amazing range of densities. The stuff I have can be carved with a spoon and cut with an old dull wood saw (not to be used for wood again).

Generally these bricks are too soft and friable for a forge floor. Their porosity also lets scale get into them which then starts to chemically eat up the brick at high temperatures.

Forge floors need to be hard refractory (brick or kiln shelf). The insulating bricks are very handy for other uses. Normally they are used behind other bricks.

Broken Anvils: A friend of mine who has nice very large anvils in his shop carries an old broken anvil to demos because of the portability factor AND to prove a point. Anvils don't need to be perfect, they are not a precision reference surface, they are a big heavy hard thing. . . and a skilled smith can do just as nice of work on an old beater as on a nice shiny new anvil with all the bells and whistles.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/20/07 15:00:45 EDT

Dan wirebrush that anvil and see if it has a date stamped below the name somewhere.

I have a William Foster anvil from 1828 that has had the heel broken off (and most of the face) as well.

My "loaner" anvil has a very nice face and horn but no heel; US$40 for a 100+ pound anvil was quite acceptable for the one I used to leave outside chained to a stump at my inner city house in Columbus, OH; when I didn't have a needy student.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/20/07 15:41:39 EDT

We've decided to rebuild our current forge for now as a job is breathing down our necks. We'll build a new forge with the castable later. Thanks for all of the replies.

So I've been reading about the ITC products sold here and have some questions.

We are going to completely replace our 1" kaowool. If I'm understanding correctly, for optimal benefit I should coat my new kaowool with the ITC 200 to give it a protective coating and then put the ITC 100 on as a top coat, right? If I've got this right, what thickness should I plan on for the 200 and what is the application rate?

As we have a wide forge and the 'ceiling' is already subject to the laws of gravity, does the 200 coating add substantially to the weight?


   Julie - Thursday, 09/20/07 16:01:01 EDT

ITC: Julie, Coatings on blanket cannot be very heavy as the blanket itself is a limiting strength factor. Normally ITC-100 is applied first and allowed to harden. Then ITC-200 would be used on the side of the forge where it sees a lot of mechanical damage (1/8 to 1/4" thick). A final thin coat of ITC-100 would be applied over the 200. Many folks use other refractory cements for reinforcing and then cover with ITC-100.

Blanket cannot be used on flat forge roofs unless it is anchored quite often. Usually it is applied snuggly into an arch. However, all refractories lose strength at high temperatures (similar to metals) and you cannot rely on them retaining their shape if under heavy load. This makes design and execution (tightly placed kaowool) critical.

   - guru - Thursday, 09/20/07 17:59:50 EDT

On the road for a while. . . . will try to get on-line with the portable. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 09/20/07 18:01:48 EDT


I'm not color blind, but I'd bet that by knowing the sequence of colors and being able to identify some, you'd be able to figure out what you have. Blue and purple might be tough, because the occur next to each other. But my guess is that a given blue and purple only look to identical to you if they are at the right relative intensities. Blue and purple temper colors may not be, so one might appear darker or lighter.

Run some colors on a piece of scrap and see what you can see. Or just temper in an oven.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 09/20/07 19:06:13 EDT

I have been a solid fan of this site since you first started in 1998 and I say thank you for all your hard work. My question, is there a simple way to keep my slak tub from freezing this season. Thanks again going on ten years almost a daily visit.
   dthorn - Thursday, 09/20/07 19:46:43 EDT

Sheet Metal Shaping: I know this is a little off topic but maybe you guys can point me int he right direction. My friend backed into my son's truck and dented the rear panel near the tail light. I read somewhere about a technique involving heat the area then rapidly cooling to get the dent to pop out, but can't remember where I saw it and need some more specifics before I try anything. A little guidance would be appreciated. Thanks. Jim
   Jim Warren - Thursday, 09/20/07 20:03:53 EDT

Frozen Slack Tub
One thing I've done is add salt to the slack tub, just rock salt from the store. It keeps the mosquitoes from laying eggs and hatching, and it lowers the temperature at which the tub freezes. Also I never find floating rodents.
good luck
   blackbart - Thursday, 09/20/07 20:25:00 EDT

dthorn, Get an electric stock tank heater at your local feed store.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/20/07 21:05:58 EDT

I've noticed that a few of you have made mention of using soapstone for marking out your work in the past. Do markings made this way survive the heat of the forge?
If it doesn't, do many people make a "measuring stick" to fit the hardy or pritchell hole? What's the most practical way to avoid measuring the hot stuff by guesstimation?
   Craig - Thursday, 09/20/07 21:23:04 EDT


I bought one of those ball-point white-out dispensers. The stuff holds up pretty well in the forge. Mostly, though, I use it to mark the anvil, then measure against that.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 09/20/07 21:48:17 EDT

Jim Warren-- I would not let anyone go near my truck with a torch! Controlling the heat, controlling the reaction of the metal, would be a chancy adventure at best for an expert and a paint-scorched nightmare at worst, I think. If it's got to be do-it-yourself, try a plumber's plunger first, maybe a dent-puller, perhaps a rubber hammer and a dolly. Better yet, though, would be to let the "friend" deal with it at a body shop.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 09/20/07 22:35:02 EDT

In my experience, the Presto brand white-out pens last longer and hold up better to the work. You can often see the mark at a bright red heat. I also mark the side/edge of my anvil, usually laying off from the heel or step a known distance. Soapstone or chalk work OK for this. When twisting a specific length, I use dividers rather than center punch marks on the work piece. I mark the anvilface with white-out for rivet and nail lengths, and when I'm shouldering at a specific place with half-face blows.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/20/07 23:38:34 EDT

Thanks Mike BR, I think I will do some experimenting and if it comes down to it I can temper in the oven, which is a great idea by the way. Again, thanks for the response! Mike
   m. moriarity - Friday, 09/21/07 00:19:33 EDT

Freezing Slack Tub: I really need to edit a FAQ on this one. It depends on how cold it gets where you are. Salt works down into the mid 20's F but not lower.

Stock heaters work well, be sure they are plugged into a grounded outlet, preferably a GFI (Ground Fault Interupter) type. DO NOT use salt AND the stock heater OR other chemicals. We use chlorine bleach to keep mosquitoes at bay and this will wreck the stock heater. Change the water.

"Stock Heaters" are immersible water heaters made for cattle troughs and are available at feed, farm and some hardware suppliers.
   - guru - Friday, 09/21/07 00:19:56 EDT

Soapstone: When I setup and was buying welding equipment I bought a full box, a gross (144) of soapstone. A 6" piece breaks into three convenient 2" pieces so that is 472 pieces. . . SO I have a lifetime supply and rarely use anything else. On the other hand, except for overall length to start I don't measure or mark much in blacksmithing. I use the soapstone mostly for torch cutting lines. For punching I mark with a center punch.

For general layout and cutting I now take a lead from the armour guys and use sharpies. The don't work for hot work but are very visible for everything else.
   - guru - Friday, 09/21/07 00:26:03 EDT

Body Work: Many moons ago I did quite a bit of fender banging. Over time fenders have gotten thinner, and thinner and thinner. . . On a 1950 Chevy truck you could hit the fender with an 8lb. sledge and not make a dent OR straighten one. HEAT was the rule. On the 1960's stuff that I have the most experience with you used a small hammer and a bucking tool. Sometimes I would swing a pry bar into a corner to push it back out. Today they use suction cups to pull dents out. . . In fact, since the 1980's it has been difficult to fix auto body work at all. Replacements and or fill are the rule.

Try the metal shapers forums. They may have some ideas. However, the custom work they do is on heavier sheet metal than OEM stuff today.
   - guru - Friday, 09/21/07 00:33:22 EDT

Color-blind tempering:

Get some TempilStik marker crayons in the heat rangesw you need and use them. Each one melts at exactly the temperature it is labeled for, plus or minus a degree or two. You can't get any more accurate than that, nor do you need to, for a very small investment. Try your local welding supply.
   vicopper - Friday, 09/21/07 00:59:21 EDT

I use a stock tank heater in winter here in New England. Works well. First one lasted three years. cost about $30.00 well worth it .
   Harley - Friday, 09/21/07 04:26:26 EDT

Forgot to mention... you will notice that water evaporates quicker with the heater in the tank. I shovel snow into it from time to time as needed to bring back the level I want.
   Harley - Friday, 09/21/07 04:34:31 EDT

Noticing the discussion on measuring and marking hot steels I have to say one of the handiest tools to have is a solid brass two foot bi-fold ruler. I have one I have used for years made by the Lufkin rule co. of Saginaw Michigan.I checked on-line today and unfortunately they are no longer in business. Cooper tools (www.coopertools.com)bought out the original company and still make and carry the Lufkin brand of tools. It seems however that the ruler they now make and sell as a Blacksmith ruler is made of steel and not Brass as the original was.
However, all is not lost as Centaur forge is selling brass Hammerhead rulers (two foot, bi-fold). I don't know how heavy these ones are, the old Lufkins are quite robust, but they should work just as well. They don't darken with the heat like steel ones do,(or burn up like tape measures do).
I would highly recommend getting one.
   Terry Smith - Friday, 09/21/07 07:21:50 EDT

Having split several plastic 5 gallon pails used as slack tubs, about 5 years ago I tried something different. I cut a 55 gallon plastic drum lenghtwise. I built a frame from angle iron, and placed some gravel in the bottom. It has frozen many times but as the water freezes and expands, it just rises up from the half moon bottom. The drum is much thicker than a pail, and I have not melted or poled a hole in it yet. My loverly royal Chief blower hangs over the slack tub a bit and I get a drip or oil in the tub from time to time. No skeeters. No critters. No oil on the dirt floor. When I wet the coal, I skim the bigger droplets from the surface.
   ptree - Friday, 09/21/07 07:59:20 EDT

I know this is WAY off topic, but I figured you old timers (yeah I called ya that) would have some answers. We have a pole cat (skunk) living in our backyard/possibly our steps. Last night our Italian Greyhound got hit smack dab in the face. We used a peroxide/baking soda/detergent solution for the dog, but the house still reeks. My workshop is right next to the back steps where the shat hit the dog. Any suggestions? Next week I'll update on the mouse infestation that;s driving me nutz.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 09/21/07 09:45:41 EDT

Another question about freezing tubs, in "The Art Of Blacksmithing", Alex Bealer mentions that '...a careful smith inserted a 4-inch-square stick in the clear water to keep the barrel from bursting in freezing weather'; I've never really understood the reasoning behind this, does it allow for pressure release or some such when the water expands as it freezes?
   MacFly - Friday, 09/21/07 10:02:09 EDT


Try ammonia, we've had luck with that. Some say tomato paste, but that hasn't seemed to work for us.

I think no matter what you do, there will be a detectable smell left; you can only sort of dilute it. Time heals all stenches!
   Dave Leppo - Friday, 09/21/07 10:59:28 EDT

What y'all doing with all this water in the shop in Winter?

I use very little water in the shop just a little for the coal or to control a heat and can just carry a couple of gallons in a plastic pail out with me---and dump it out or carry it back inside when I'm through.

Using A36 quenching can be a rather tragic occurance to a project so I just let stuff cool in air most of the time---in the summer I throw it out into the desert. In winter hold it in a vise, or on top of the warmed up soapstone slab the gasser sits on, or hung from a wire hook out of the way.

I guess y'all must be working that pure-iron stuff or real WI which doesn't mind a nice cold quench.

Re: mouse problem: I started setting my traps last night and fed a big one to the snake this morning making it very happy as they are a lot bigger than the store-bought one. (and me very happy as they are cheaper and don't involve a 150 mile trip...

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/21/07 11:43:02 EDT

Yeah, I never fed housmice to my reptiles. I figure they're chock full of parasites and nastiness. What are your thoughts on glue traps?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 09/21/07 12:59:54 EDT

Gentlemen please keep the skunk and mice stories to the appropriate forum in the hammer-in.
Thank You
   - monitor - Friday, 09/21/07 13:34:33 EDT

can you use a cast iron pot like a dutch oven as a firepot for a solid fuel forge.

   - jake - Friday, 09/21/07 14:40:32 EDT

Jake; I've seen a miniforge made from a cast iron frying pan!

The problem with a pot is that the walls don't funnel the fuel towards the tuyere; they wre also fairly thin and prone to cracking due to thermal stresses. The are also generally expensive unless you can gind a damaged one to re-work.

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/21/07 15:21:50 EDT

OK live critters to the hammer-in
   - Merrimac - Friday, 09/21/07 15:22:50 EDT

what could be a cheap soltion for a firepot with out any welding?

   - jake - Friday, 09/21/07 15:26:32 EDT


I used a cast iron floor drain bowl: 12" dia by 4" deep, hemispherical, with a 3" hole in the bottom. It's about 1/4" thick, and I'm very happy with it. It should be thicker, but I happen to have two, so I can replace it when I have to. This was origianally for putting a drain in a concrete floor, and they were set directly into the wet concrete during construction.

I was lucky to find something like this for free, you may have to search a lifetime for one.
   Dave Leppo - Friday, 09/21/07 15:41:24 EDT

There's always a brake drum...Have you read the "Getting started" page yet?
   Alan-L - Friday, 09/21/07 16:14:09 EDT

Buffalo Forge Blower

I have an early buffalo forge blower that I'm trying to find some history on. It is flat belt driven with babbitt bearings and open oil ports. The model is No. 3 and the size is 20" noiseless, both cast into the housing, as well as the company name. It has a 4" output, so it's a good fit for my Kayne and Sons firepot. It has flat blades, slightly curved back on the axis. I forgot to count the blades when I had it apart to clean the crud out. There are probably 8.

Does this model show up in the catalog for sale here or in another that someone here has? I'm not sure when the Buffalo model numbers went from single digit, to three digit, or if this is just a blower they made for a completely different application.

I'm planning on turning it at 800-1000 rpm with a gate on the output (unless the catalogs indicate that I shouldn't). I may even work out an overhead mount for it up by the forge hood to save floor space around the forge.

This is the first piece of Buffalo Forge equipment I've owned, so I just started looking for info on the company. I found some interesting things in the archive here, but nothing on their lineshaft-type blowers. I can see about posting a picture if people are interested.
   Jacob - Friday, 09/21/07 16:18:19 EDT

I got a MIG tip for building a gas forge while following the instructions for making the burner found in the FAQ on this site. But it won't fit into the compression fitting I got since the outside diameter of the tip is slightly larger than 1/4". Is there any way I can get it to fit? I've heard about people having to file the tip down to reduce the diameter, but does one need a machine of some sort to do that on?
   mike3 - Friday, 09/21/07 16:42:34 EDT

   ROLAND - Friday, 09/21/07 17:22:19 EDT

I went down to the local welding supply place today to buy some tips (one cutting, a couple welding, and one very small rosebud) for my new-to-me Smith O/A torch. Not being experienced in this field, I was a little taken aback to learn what tips for O/A torches cost. I went ahead and bought them anyway, because the torch won't be much good to me without them, but do you good folks give have any tips or tricks for on making them last as long as possible?
   Matt B - Friday, 09/21/07 17:44:54 EDT

Mike3 --

The Lincoln (I think) tips I have fit perfectly in a 1/4" compression fitting. You could probably chuck the front of yours in a drill and hold the back part against a file until it was the right size. You also might get away with reaming the compressing ring (and, if necessary, the nut) slightly.
   Mike BR - Friday, 09/21/07 17:56:04 EDT

Thanks for the answer. I'll give it a try.
   mike3 - Friday, 09/21/07 18:43:50 EDT


I have Buffalo's 1916 Catalog No. 205, titled "Mechanical Technology", and it has pictured a No. 3 blower which they call a "Pulley Type Volume Blower." It is listed as a "Forge Shop Blower." I have in my possession a number 2 Buffalo blower of this type, which I'm not using at present. It is large, and could possibly run three or four forges in line. The I.D. of the outlet is 5½", and the pulley width is 2½". The O.D. of the cast fan case is about 18". It has a sheet metal cylindrical fan with five fin-like blades. I don't think you need to have a line shaft or even a flat belt for these. You can use a single electric motor with pulley and a V-belt, insuring that they are in good alignment.

This catalog is directed toward the teaching of blacksmithing in a school situation. It shows floor plans for multiple forge shops, 10 to 20 in a shop. It shows forges, anvils, machinery, and hand tools. The catalog has 20 beginners' hand forging lessons and photos of shools which are in operation using Buffalo equipment.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/21/07 20:36:44 EDT

Marking Steel
Hey Folks,
I use a Prismacolor #938 colored pencil when I want the mark to stay after the steel has been in the forge.

I thought I got this info here, but it may have been across the street.
   blackbart - Friday, 09/21/07 21:23:33 EDT

I've got another question about that FAQ burner. It seems one needs a 1 1/2" -> 3/4" bell reducer on the part of the burner that's outside the forge. But the trouble is the stores in town don't carry it in black iron, only galvanized. This part does not face into the forge, but does it still need to be black iron (ie. would it still heat up enough to give off it's toxic gas?)? Would a brass one do (I think they might have had one at the store, not sure though)?
   mike3 - Friday, 09/21/07 22:20:21 EDT

Mike, Galvanized is fine but you are going to weld to it. You have to grind off the galvanize where the weld is going to be and then be VERY careful of zinc fumes when welding.
   guru - Saturday, 09/22/07 07:50:13 EDT

on the road. . . more later.
   guru - Saturday, 09/22/07 07:51:24 EDT


It may be too late for you, but I've ordered knock-off tips from www.weldingdepot.com at considerably lower prices. IIRC ViCopper turned me on to them. They seem to work fine (actually they don't cut worth beans, but neither do my Victor tips, for some strange reason (grin)).
   Mike BR - Saturday, 09/22/07 07:56:41 EDT

Jacob, I'd turn that beast at around 400 rpm to start with, since that's the usual speed of lineshaft equipment. They use a blower that size at John C. Campbell Folk School to operate 6 (!) forges at a time.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 09/22/07 10:02:27 EDT

I have a question/comment that some of you guys might get a kick out of.

I've heard of all sorts of things being used for forge fuel. I make charcoal and I know of guys who use just plain wood. I've also hearn of other fuels being used like corn and even manur.

Since I have a horse, I find myself having plenty of well dried manuer. I think I'm going to pile some of it in the forge tomarrow, light it and see how it works.

Anyone here ever try it? Oh heck, the worst that could happen is that you guys will get a good laugh when I come back and tell you how it went, right?
   Mike Ferrara - Saturday, 09/22/07 11:05:59 EDT

Mike, my wife has occasionally commented that what I take out of the forge looks a lot like horse manure and I run a gasser!
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 09/22/07 11:50:17 EDT

("FAQ" forge burner)

I have to weld something to it? (the galvanized bell reducer) Oh, you mean to install the bracket, right? Well, I was thinking of something other than a welded bracket since my 1/8 inch nipple is made of brass, not steel or iron. Can't really weld those together nicely! :) And I thought you weld the bracket to some stubby piece of 1 1/2" pipe that you stick in the reducer (at least that's what the picture shows), which I might be able to get in black iron. PS. Does the bell need to be 1 1/2", or would only a 1" bell work? (Nipples of 1" black iron I think are certain to be available.)
   mike3 - Saturday, 09/22/07 14:04:18 EDT

Will you please reccomend blacksmithing books tapes?
I have 25 years experiance shipyard ironworking, need to learn more about classical blacksmithing because San Diego is building a replica of Cabrillo's 16th century 200 ton ship !!!btw, the Japanese put layers of pottery clay on knives swords etc to vary the temper when quenched hardened. more layers tword the back, none on the edge-ever try that??? Thanks, Lewis
   Lewis Brackett - Saturday, 09/22/07 15:05:07 EDT

Lewis Brackett-- best book there is, The Blacksmith's Craft, originally published by COSIRA, the Council of Small Industries in Rural Agriculture, is available for the downloading free at http://www.countryside.gov.uk/LAR/archive/crc/index.asp along with several other worthwhile texts. Click on archive search for blacksmithing, then on rural craft publications, etc. Other valuable how-to books: Plain and Ornamental Forging by Schwarzkopf, Francis Whitaker's Cookbook and the late, great Alexander Weygers's three books (available in one handy volume nowadays). The British forging guide and these last three are available from Centaur (see the advertisers dropdown upper right) and www.Lindsaybks.com
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/22/07 15:59:46 EDT


A 1" bell would probably be too small to give good performance. Especially with a nipple screwed in and further restricting flow. It is true that many commercial bells aren't that much bigger than a 1" reducer would be, but they generally have better flow characteristics.

You need to find a better plumbing supplier. If you have to, you can order from somewhere like MSC (mscdirect.com). It's annoying to pay shipping on small items like that, but it beats building something that doesn't work and wasting money *and* time.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 09/22/07 20:27:21 EDT

Lewis that clay hardening technique is pretty common in the knife world and almost evey knife forum has a bunch of folks doing it.

Note that to get the most interesting hamons on such a blade you need to use a very shallow hardening steel; most knife alloys used today don't work very well for it.

   ThomasP - Saturday, 09/22/07 23:30:21 EDT

mike3-- try a HVAC shop to see if you can get a used Venturi or two off one of the junked gas furnaces they have several dozen of lying around out back in the rain. Smoother, less turbulent entry than a bell reducer affords for your gas-air mix and maybe even a butterfly for better control.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 09/23/07 00:14:40 EDT


A 1" bell would probably be too small to give good performance. Especially with a nipple screwed in and further restricting flow. It is true that many commercial bells aren't that much bigger than a 1" reducer would be, but they generally have better flow characteristics. "

So how would you do it without the nipple screwed in, anyway? Is there any way to make a thing that can hold the gas-delivering assembly (the thing with the MIG tip and all that) in the pipe, anyway, without welding something?
   mike3 - Sunday, 09/23/07 02:17:59 EDT


I can think of 10 different ways sitting here. Only one of them involves a geosynchronous satellite and fishing line.

Seriously though, you can follow the plans you have exactly, or *you* can come up with a design that fits *your* equipment and capabilities. We can help you with specific questions, but we can't design the burner for you.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 09/23/07 08:31:39 EDT

Blacksmithing Books: A bout a week ago we listed a long list on the Hammer-In. However, the place to look is out book review page. We have most of the major books reviewed as well as many on associated subjects. Just about all of them are available from Artisan Ideas. I have a bunch to add but nothing earth shaking.

Big BLU Hammer sells a series of video tapes and they will be coming out with more in the future. Two are power hammer videos but one is for the hand hammer. We have reviews and they have sample clips on their web site.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/23/07 10:11:56 EDT

Dung as Fuel: Animal dung or dried manure, has been used as fuel for general heating, cooking and forge fuel for millenia. However, it is not very efficient and is a fuel of last resort. It also seems that I have heard of health hazards but this may be specific to certain kinds of dung and local pathogens. Charcoal is much better fuel.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/23/07 10:19:12 EDT

RR-Rail Anvil Hardening: IF you have access to an oxy-acetylene rose bud torch you should be able to heat the surface to a low red then let cool. If you heat the surface fast enough it will self-quench from it cold mass. This is a form of surface or flame hardening.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/23/07 10:27:48 EDT

Making Welding/Cutting tips last: I've never had a problem with O/A tip life. I HAVE resurrected tips people have horribly abused. Used correctly they last for many years of use.

Tip Care and Maintenance: Welding tips should never be stuck into the puddle, dropped or banged around on the end of the hose/torch assembly. Tip not in use should be stored so that the seats do get damaged. Those with o-ring seals can have the seals replaced as needed.

In use welding tips occasionally have bits of weld sputter of fine blow back stick to the end of the tip around the orifice. To clean this they make a compact "tip cleaner" with graduated dull round files plus a flat file. I prefer a good new 6" flat file rather than the dull stamped one in the kit. After cleaning the face select an undersize wire file and work it in and out of the tip. Keep it in line with the hole in the tip. Select the next size and try it. Eventually you will get to one that the uncut end fits and the cut (file part) doesn't, then stop. The end of the hole needs to be smooth and NOT tapered, opening at a smooth flat face. Cleaning too often can taper the orifice and wreck the tip.

Tips only need this cleaning occasionally when welding steel and should never need it when brazing or soldering. IF a welding tip end is damaged, up to about 1/4" can be removed from small tips and 3/8" from large tips. I cut burnt damaged tips with a hacksaw and dress with a file, or do the entire job in a lathe. I sometimes finish the end face with a little Wet-Or-Dry sand paper.

Cutting and heating tips are similar except they are abused more often. Melted ends must be cut off square and clean. Holes should be clean and not taper.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/23/07 11:10:09 EDT

Thanks, Jock.
   Matt B - Sunday, 09/23/07 12:38:26 EDT

Hello, Guru
I am from Nova Scotia, Canada and I have a question about my anvil which is about a 200-250 pound single horn anvil that was manufacture by Vulcan arm and hammer. The product number on the anvil is 45. I am wondering where this anvil could of been manufactured?How old it could possibly be?. I also have a question about a portable forge that was made in Kitchener Ontario Forge and Blower Co. It has a hand crank blower that is hooked on the side. Due to the information I have found i believe that it is somewhere after WW1 due to the fact that they renamed Berlin Ontario to Kitchener after the war which would indicate the time. The product number on the hand crank blower of the forge is C187. I am also wondering about a hand crank blower made by Canadian Blower and Forge Co. in Kitchener Ontario that has a tripod that holds it up and its product number is C184 with a big 700 written bellow the manufactures name on the blower.I am curious about the age and any more information you can found about the anvil, the forge and the blowers. I am around 18 years old and I have only just started to really get myself into blacksmithing. I have worked about 4 or 6 days with a real blacksmith that works at a historic village in Nova Scotia called Sherbrooke. Thank you for your time.

Grant Sponagle
   Grant Sponagle - Sunday, 09/23/07 13:04:29 EDT

" Seriously though, you can follow the plans you have exactly, or *you* can come up with a design that fits *your* equipment and capabilities. We can help you with specific questions, but we can't design the burner for you."

Well sure, but since this is my first time with doing this gas forge thing, I'd rather stick as closely to the instructions as possible. Not wanting to have to weld on galvanized, there must be an alternative to welding the bracket to hold the gas delivery apparatus in the middle of the pipe. What might such an alternative be?

Also, would omitting the 1 1/2"-dia. nipple that is attached to the bell in the plan be a bad thing? I've had a hard time finding 1 1/2" black iron nipples.
   mike3 - Sunday, 09/23/07 14:27:50 EDT

Plumbing parts. . . and Forge burners There are good places and BAD places to shop for plumbing bits and pieces. At bad ones they stock nothing but odd high pressure parts and the most common of parts then try to charge you for high pressure stuff you don't need. . .

McMaster-Carr had ALL the parts. But the pictures you see are not always what the parts look like.

Most Lowes stores have most or all of the parts, that is where I got mine HOWEVER, I almost always end up shopping for plumbing parts at more than just a couple places to find the RIGHT parts. Then there is the welding supply.

The Guru's burner photo shows more than one way to build the burner. The assembled burner SHOWN uses a welded 3" long black pipe nipple. The two brass assemblies would go into a heavy bracket and be held in place with a set screw.

I misspoke the other day about welding to the reducer. You weld to the large intake side nipple. OR you can make the bracket so you bolt it on using a couple small screws (I'd use #10-32). This requires drilling and taping two holes. I would file or grind a flat for the bracket.

When this burner is assembled you should be able to see out through the MIG tip and attaching pipe from the far end of the 3/4" pipe. Misalignment is easy to judge this way. As long as the point of light is generally centered in the pipe it is quite well aligned as these type burners go.

NOTE that there are several makers of reducer bells. Those with the angled sides work well while those that are hemispherical do not. You cannot specify one or the other because as far as the plumbing codes go there is no difference. You just have to go shopping.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/23/07 17:16:27 EDT

Plans and Details: In my personal shop I make sketches and lists of parts I need based on what I think I have on hand OR can get locally. Then I go shopping and if I have to modify my plan I do so. HOWEVER, I rarely deviate on parts because the whole designs often falls apart OR end up costing a lot in time. BUT, if I am making things from parts on-hand I may base a design strictly on what I have plus whatever it takes to fit to those parts. Many times I make no sketches, buy no parts, I just BUILD.

Designing for Industry: I also do (did) a lot of this. There are TWO general design theories. One is to use as many stock parts as possible (kind of like a DIY project). The other is that every part except basic hardware (nut bolts, bearings) is custom made. These pieces are made in machine shops to specified tolerances with no exceptions. In many case the second method is much better because you have 100% control of the parts and they always fit. When using others components you never know when they are going to change a dimension or move a minor feature. They almost NEVER have sufficient dimensions in order to plan in close detail that works every time.

Designing for the DIYer: This is the most difficult. When you give exact dimensions or call for specific stock sizes they are often not followed. When you call out specific hardware it may not be available OR is substituted. So in the end the plan is just a vague guide and a photo is just as good. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 09/23/07 17:42:38 EDT

Brenda: I spoke with Richard Postman at Quad-State about your Brookes Brothers. He said there may have been several other anvil manufacturers in Sheffield besides Mousehole. Name didn't ring a bell with him. He said if there are the stone weight numbers look to see if there is a punch mark between them. If so, a Mousehole. If not, they maybe, maybe not. Sheffield was a center of edged tool making, resulting in a high demand for standard and speciality anvils.

Quick Q-S report. Total paid attendance: 950 (06 was about 800). Probably half again as many tool sellers as last year. Looked to me like twice as many campers. I thought most tailgate items were reasonably priced this year.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 09/23/07 18:57:56 EDT

Grant Sponagle: The VULCAN brand anvil was made by the Illinois Iron and Bolt Company of Carpentersville. Dating is done by the style and location of raised logo. 45 wouldn't be a product number. Could be about anything else. VULCAN anvils were made from about 1875-1969.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 09/23/07 19:05:40 EDT

See, the thing is I don't live in a big city. So I've got to make do with what I've got and expensive 100 mile trips to the big cities are out of the question (ie. it's cheaper to just order the parts.). I've managed to procure the whole gas delivering assembly, but it's those last couple of pipe fittings that are the rub -- those BIG 1 1/2" fittings. I guess I'll have to order it. Shouldn't be too big a problem. And as for the alignment, how far off-center is acceptable, anyway? I can't seem to get it *exactly* dead-center accurate.

PS. Does the "angled sides" of the bell refer to the outside or the inside? I went to McMaster-Carr's website and found a 1 1/2 -> 3/4" reducing coupling in black iron, low pressure (150psi max), for $6.70, and the diagram showed the outside as rounded but the inside was angled. Will that work, provided the picture is accurate? I'm assuming the inside is all that matters since that's what the gas will encounter during it's flow, so it should be OK. The big 1 1/2" reducer and the big 1 1/2" nipple are the only two parts I need now. I've got everything for the gas delivery apparatus (the thing with the MIG tip and all that. I don't know if there's a special name for it.).
   mike3 - Sunday, 09/23/07 19:09:10 EDT


Get your reducer tees form Larry Zoeller of Zoeller Forge. Google him. He carries the Ward brand reducer tees that have the best configurration for the job and they work really well. Larry also sells all the parts to build bulrners, or complete burners, very reasonably priced and his service is excellent. I bought three reducer tees from him the other day at Quad States. His burner design is very effective and easy to build, and I recommend it before any of the others out there.
   vicopper - Sunday, 09/23/07 21:30:21 EDT


On the issue of aiming your gas jet down the burner, I suggest hooking up a water line to the gas supply nipple. The fine jet of water will allow you to make the necessary adjustments to get the orifice aimed perfectly. It may be tough to see a jet of air, but water shows up easily.
   vicopper - Sunday, 09/23/07 22:07:47 EDT

A word of caution for any fellow newbies out there! People will tell you that BBQ "charcoal" fuel briquettes are no good for forging, but that statement doesn't nearly go far enough. I just gave my brake drum forge a test fire on the weekend to check the strength of the blast, and used BBQ fuel since I wasn't really intending to do any work at the anvil and hadn't yet picked up my coke. I don't know how it got there, but it took me more than half an hour to scrape the clinker out of the base the next day. It had fused to the refractory lining, blocked the grate over the tuyere, and basically caused me to use even more foul language than is normal for me after too many scrumpies on a Sunday afternoon when my footy team had lost in the semi finals.
Do yourself a favour and keep BBQ fuel as far away from your forge as possible!
   Craig - Sunday, 09/23/07 22:59:00 EDT

Clinker Sources: BBQ Briquet's have a lot of non-fuel additives that result in all that ash. The high ash is where the clinker comes from. This is non-flammable content and even the wood charcoal and wood content is not selected for its fuel characteristics but for price, availability and in some cases the smell/flavor of the smoke.

Its like the difference between drinking liquor which is normally 50% water and made for its color and flavor (aged in an oak barrel or what ever. . .) and fuel grade alcohol which is 99.9% pure, clear and has no taste other than alcohol.

Clinker Sticking: Generally this does not occur in steel and cast iron forges. However, it does happen where refractory linings are used which is something we do not recommend in our brake drum forge plan or instructions to build fabricated fire pots. If the refractory is not rated at 3,000°F or more, OR especially if had common sand added to it, the refractory will glaze and fuel, ash, clinker, and bits of metal lost in the fire may stick to it. In this case any loose refractory becomes part of clinker problem.
   - guru - Monday, 09/24/07 09:13:58 EDT

Buffalo Forge Blower

Frank, thanks for the catalog info. That sounds like the right blower. Does it recommend a fan speed? I plan to run it from a V-belt, but the 2.1" flat belt pulley doesn't give much room for speed reduction without a jack shaft. It looks like half of the original fan blades were cut out to reduce air volume. I had the blower running at around 1200 rpm with pullies on hand and it was smooth and quite. I didn't feel any heat on the bearings. With a smaller pulley I can get down to around 800 rpm without a jack shaft or a motor slower than 1725 rpm. I haven't hooked it up to the home forge yet, because the chimney and hood are still in progress.

Alan, I don't think there is any standard speed for all lineshaft equipment. I'm most familiar with metal shop tools, like mills, drills, and lathes, that vary in speed from 10-700 rpm or more. I'm sure fans and woodworking equipment were designed for higher speeds.
   Jacob - Monday, 09/24/07 11:40:39 EDT

Ken, did Postman say when the update to Anvils in America will be out? I really want to get one...

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/24/07 12:18:00 EDT

m. moriarity,

Robb Gunter did a heat treating demonstration at Quad State on Sunday and I believe he said that he is red/green color blind. You might want to contact him and see how he has dealt with it. He started The Forgery School of Blacksmithing and I imagine he can be reached through them.
   Steve - Monday, 09/24/07 12:53:59 EDT

Fan Speeds: Jacob, Between 800 and 1200 RPM is usually right for forge blowers. However, the larger the blower the lower the speed. On all rotating equipment, especially things with wheels, fans or disks there is a limit at which the centrifugal force puts such high stress on the parts that they are in danger of (and can) fly apart. This limiting speed is surprisingly low on things like cast Iron flywheels. This is the important limit mechanically. That is followed by bearings. Bearing speeds on old machinery are limited more by condition (such as rust on a plain bearing shaft) than anything else. However, rusted ball bearings even if they clean up and seem smooth rapidly fail from the rust. ANY discoloration on the races or balls indicates a VERY short life ahead and they should be replaced. Plain bearings, even when worn can work well if kept lubricated.

There was some indication that this was a large blower. If it is oversize for the forge then it would be best to run it slower. This would increase bearing life and reduce motor load. The reduced motor load will only save a few pennies BUT it can greatly increase the life of the motor (belts too).

Line shafts generally turned 800-900 RPM. However, there is no standard. This is just what I have found was the input speed on numerous old machines I have had. 800 RPM is a good speed because most machines run a little faster OR a little slower than this. So the pulley sizes on the line shaft and the machine were close to the same. Just enough for a minor speed correction if any.

   - guru - Monday, 09/24/07 13:26:30 EDT

No, Postman did not commit to any date for "More on Anvils". Perhaps sometime next year.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 09/24/07 14:14:00 EDT

Lineshaft speeds: Acording to American Machinist's Handbook 2nd edition [1914] there is no standard but 250 rpm was thought to be the average for 4" shafting, with speeds up to 400 rpm used, and 600-700 rpm used on 2" shafts for high speed machinery. My Grandpop who worked in old lineshaft driven machine shops mentioned 600 rpm being pretty common.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 09/24/07 21:31:34 EDT

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