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

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

This is an archive of posts from September 8 - 15, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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I was wondering if someone could give me some help narrowing down the year my Peter Wright anvil was made. It is stamped "Peter Wright", "Patent" and has "Solid Wrought" in a circle. It is not stamped "England". Its stamped weight is 127 lbs. From my reading, my best guess is 1880 to 1910. Can anyone narrow this range or tell me when british law started requiring England to be stamped? Thank You
   Jesse - Sunday, 09/07/08 22:12:26 EDT

Jesse: I would date it from 1860 - late 1800s. Richard Postman initially used 1910. However, infomration since then indicates the use of ENGLAND started in the late 1800s.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 09/08/08 05:01:45 EDT

Thanks for the advise on the screw box. I was able to hammer the box out, it was just a tighter fit than I expected. The box is solid, with integral key. The screw was very tight and hard to move before. With some cleaning it is getting much better. Both are now soaking in kerosene. It looks like it will clean up nicely.
   - Jacob - Monday, 09/08/08 11:51:53 EDT

Coenobita; I have such an anvil as my primary shop anvil mine was made by Fisher and is an excellent anvil; massive and quiet with a nice hard face.

On two that I have seen there is a serial number imprinted in the side of the face near where the cut out is. The only other one I have seen was within a couple of digits of the one on my anvil. Could you see if your's has such a serial number and post it?

BTW the cut out on such an anvil was so that there was a place where the front edge of the top hammer die would be aligned with the edge of the anvil---very handly for some tasks.

Anvil Sales in general: Location is very important! Prices in anvil rich areas are quite a bit lower than prices in anvil poor areas. Condition makes a big difference too.

Quad-State Blacksmith's Round-Up in Troy Ohio the last weekend in Sept is a great place to tailgate tools as it's one of the largest annual blacksmithing meets in the USA.

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/08/08 11:53:07 EDT

Date Stamping:

The McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 required all manufactured goods imported into the United States to be permanently marked with country of origin. Since the U.S. was the largest market in the world at the time, most manufacturors worldwide started stamping their goods at this time.

Some countries had other laws, and some manufacturors were marking their country well before this, though. Also, goods not intended for export did not have to be marked, and some of these things have found their way across the ocean secondhand, sans coutry of origin stamp.

For items found in the USA, 1891 is a good rough date for most purposes, however.

   Alan-L - Monday, 09/08/08 12:02:22 EDT

Thanks Guru. How would you rate the quality of Columbian anvil and Forge? What would be a more reasonable price I should ask for?. As for the lathe, I have been looking for all the papers this weekend. I know I put them in a safe place, Just haven't found that place yet.
I will get you more details when I find them, Have lots of accessories for it. works like a dream, absolutely no backlash. I made a bench for it as I was not able to use my uncles original bench. Made a new belt with laces per the manual and put on a new motor. It has come in handy a few times fabricating parts. But it is a machine beyond my needs that should be in the hands of someone really skilled in the use of the lathe. When my uncle bought it, his mother had to sign the contract as he was under 18. When WWII broke out, they wanted it back with the promise of a new lathe after the war. He refused telling me that after the war, they would turn them out with improperly aged and pickled beds. He was an engineer at GE working on jet engines toward the end of WWII and years after. I'll be in touch. feel free to email me. I will try to get some pictures of it this week or so.
   Paul K - Monday, 09/08/08 19:01:29 EDT

Your Columbian Arm and Hammer anvil is one of the last old time forged anvils such as Hay-Budden, Peter Wright, Mousehole and Peddinghaus. If it is decent condition then it will do nothing but appreciate unless you hurt it.
   - guru - Monday, 09/08/08 21:10:29 EDT

Jesse: 127 isn't the stamped weight but rather the stone weight. First number represents multiples of 112 (1/20th long ton), second represents multiples of 28, third represents remaining pounds. If you put it on a scale anvil likely weights about 175 pounds.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 09/09/08 05:16:40 EDT

ABANA Election Deadline :

The ABANA Election Deadline has been extended to September 25th. - Peyton Anderson, secretary ABANA.

Like any election, don't complain if you don't register and don't vote.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/09/08 05:49:42 EDT

Late I know, but a hardy vote of approval for Ken's punch lube!!! Now a question. Walking/standing on cement in my shop is killing my feet. I've tried different shoes and sole types, and the most comfortable is naturally the most dangerous, sneakers. I want to put down rubber mats in the most used areas but I don't know what kind or thickness. Also, are there any that are fire resistant? Suggestions please.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 09/09/08 18:36:10 EDT

the weight room at school where i lift has really heavy duty rubber mats we drop 45 lbs weights on them and it does nothing, dont know how fire resistant they are, but mayber a welders mat on top would do i dunno
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/09/08 19:37:31 EDT

they are black with little blue chunks in it, that dont protrude, they havent hurt my feet and during cougar course in the summer i was in that weight room atleast an hour a day and it never bothered me and in the sun they dont crack either they are out under the monkey bars each mat is like 3'x3' and they weigh like 80 lbs to 100 lbs
   - jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/09/08 19:45:51 EDT

Hi Thumper

Try running across your hot coals barefoot or just toughen up!! :)
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 09/09/08 20:19:10 EDT

Howdy Thumper

Try calling an expert at Rubber-Cal 800-370-9152

   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 09/09/08 20:34:05 EDT

Thumper, there are indeed heat resistant ergonomic mats. Wearwell brand has been a good source for three factories so far for me. They also make some non-welder mats that are truely excellent to stand on.

As far as shoes, Check Wolverine "Durashock" type soles. Also an excellent sole for concrete. I have had good results from Iron Age ergo soles but thay have gone out of Business. "Works" by Redwing are the ones I now wear and have been excellent so far.

Ptree the safety guy
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/09/08 20:45:31 EDT

Mats. . The cheapest cushion mats are "cow pads" sold at farm suppliers. No rubber other than silicon is gone to be fire resistant. The make silicon foam and its VERY pricey.

Safer is a wood floor put over furring strips. Wood is flammable but can be treated with borax to help and is reasonably safe. If you water it down the water will run through the gaps.

In the end the sneakers are the safest fire wise. SOMEWHERE I seem to remember someone making steel toed sneakers. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/09/08 20:46:04 EDT

I am a long time horseshoer but besides making shoes have only done gift metal work for friends and family, I am currently trying to make some small jewelry out of 1/4 and 3/8 stainless but the material keeps fracturing on me after only a few heats any help would be great. Thank you!
   Vincent Krava - Tuesday, 09/09/08 21:38:00 EDT

Thumper: There are floor covering blocks made from ground up old tires. These are used in playgrounds for safety reasons. They are pretty resilient. If You are interested but can't find a source I will get some information for You.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 09/09/08 22:00:18 EDT

Vincent, 304 stainless is worked starting at a lemon heat down to bright red. No cherry reds; no dark reds. If you have a sense of rhythm, lift a little from the anvil after each blow to conserve heat. The anvil is a heat sink. When the forging is completed, water quench at an orange heat. This will anneal and enhance the stainless qualities. There are many stainless alloys, maybe a hundred or more. We don't know what you're using, but 304 is the most popular. 304 cannot be hardened and tempered...just forged and annealed. It can be work hardened at ambient temperature.
"Old horseshoers never die; they just do fewer and fewer horses."
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/09/08 22:35:13 EDT

Rusty, I'll call that # in the AM. Ptree, I'm wearing RedWings now w/, 1/2" ribbed soles....not being a "shoer" myself, I just had my packers re-shod. Guru, I was looking into stall mats but the price is through the roof. I was thinking about used conveyer belting, it's abundant here in the land of potato's and onion's, but I think it's too thin. And, yeah, my sneakers won't burst into flame, but I'd sure hate to drop or fling anything on my toes while wearing them, that's another story....."How I learned not to wear a glove on my hammer hand....EVER!").
   Thumper - Tuesday, 09/09/08 22:56:14 EDT

I will state emphatically that sneakers are not the best choice for fire resistant answer to sore feet when standing on concrete and forging. I have seen two cases of the sneaker type safety toe shoes that did burn. One from weld balls, one from scale.
A leather shoe or boot, with substantial soles are the best safety choice. The thick soles of an industrial work boot give you a chance to smell burning rubber, before the hot metal breaks through into your sole. I would much rather burn and ruin the soles on an expenisive set of shoes than burn and ruin the sole on my foot.
The man-made fibers used in almost all sneakers these days is a bad choice for hot work. Even what look like leather in many sneakers is a thin veneer of leather over man-made backer.
There are now many very good fourmulations of heat resistant rubber matting. Yes they will burn when a large forging is dropped on them, but they self extinguish when the heat is removed. The smell when hot hits the rubber tends to ensure that the hot on rubber does not go un-noticed:)
Ptree the safety guy
   ptree - Wednesday, 09/10/08 05:49:31 EDT

I have a plain old rubber mat from Tractor Supply at my anvil, and as Ptree says, you notice immediately when you drop something hot on it. The smell makes you a more careful worker in that it's an odor you don't want to smell again once you've had a whiff! It does self-extinguish nicely.

   Alan-L - Wednesday, 09/10/08 11:00:20 EDT

Sort of like the mud flap from the tractor trailer that I stand on at the current forge. Yep, the oder is a sure warning sigh that something is not where it's supposed to be.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 09/10/08 11:04:02 EDT

Burning rubber is right up there with the smell of burning hair. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/10/08 12:11:48 EDT

The best shoes out there for insulation from the concrete and energy absorbtion are what the iniuts and ancient mountain travelers used.

These are simply an oversized moccasin that one places dried grases into. Just make an oversized(1" larger than your foot in all dimensions) and pack in dried full length grases.

The grases absord energy and give an air gap between the foot and shoe. This keeps the foot from sweating or transfering energy to the concrete through the sole.

Replace the grasses after they pack down and get used up.

They also made the most effective winter cloths and method of wearing them that has ever existed, it's even better than the modern man made material and it's method of donning.

   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 09/10/08 13:20:15 EDT

Note that one should use full length wild grass stems, not short leaves cut from the lawn.

   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 09/10/08 13:22:44 EDT

Vincent, try some 316L steel. I use 316L in sizes from 1/8" all the way up to 3/4". Turleys info is right on the money and applies to 316 as well. You can get small amounts of 316L as TIG rod at your local welding shop. It polishes up real nice and shiny too.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 09/10/08 16:15:54 EDT

Also the low carbon content of 316L might help with the fracture issues your having.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 09/10/08 16:18:22 EDT

Thumper, this may sound a little silly but you might consider makeing a pair of "Ho Chi Min sandles" that strap on over the bottom of your shoes.
They are simply a pair of sandles with the sole cut from the tread of an old tire.
Something like that would allow you to take your mats with you were ever you went in the shop.
I finely found a bias ply tire and am going to resole a pair of old work boots with it to try it out.
I can see every body out there rolling thier eyes at this but, I always say nothing ventured nothing gained.
   - merl - Wednesday, 09/10/08 17:34:23 EDT

I would offer that a dry grass shoe will NOT offer much protection from impact, nor from heated items.

For reference the standard for safety shoes is that they can handle a 75 footpound impact. Thats a 75# weight dropped from 12". I had an employee that had a 454# axle drop on his meta-tarsel equipped safety shoes from a 32" table. He received two minor hairline fractures. I have had two more associates that had their feet rolled over by a forklift. The one wearing safety shoes had a compression injury just behind the toe cap. The 9500# forklift climbed up on the cap, and when it dropped off the other side, most everyone in the entire plant heard the noise of the forklift hitting the floor. The associates shoe was torn off by the force of the truck tire coming off the cap, but she had very minor injury all said.
The other employee did not have safety shoes, and everyone in the plant heard that as well. His screams carried over the machinery.

Buy good, professionally fitted safety shoes with ergonomic soles and you will find them both comfortable and reasuring.
Cheap shoes bought by price at the big box, fitting by you are not the same. The safety shoe stores that serve industry usually have trained fitters that also have a wealth of knowledge in how to handle health issues like diabetis, Guillium-barre, and so forth. Costs more but worth it. In the military they taught us to take care of our feet as when they are down so are you.
   ptree - Wednesday, 09/10/08 18:56:06 EDT


The shoes are not made only out of grass, the grass is just used as a liner for an over sized thich leather moccasin.

None of the grass is exposed on the outside, just leather.

As to the steel toe, yep that's the only way to prevent having your foot crushed by a falling weight.

When I said impact, I was talking about the impact of walking on a concrete floor, for that purpose it works VERY well, if properly made, one would have to be insane or an idiot to think that dried grasses would protect you from a heavy falling object. I should have been more specific, I forget how nit picky people are about exactness of speech on the internet forums.


   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 09/10/08 19:22:05 EDT

I am on my feet 9-12 (occasionaly 20) hours a day. I used to go home with feet that felt like they had been in a vise all day. I got a set of orthotics made up by a Pedorthist, and not only do my feet feel much better but knee pain that I used to get if I did a lot of walking also went away. I have them in my steel toed work shoes all day and then just move them to my other shoes at night.

They are not cheap ($400) but if you get a prescription from your doctor a lot of health plans will cover them. Even if you have to pay for them yourself they are worth it. I replaced mine about 2 years ago and I didn't have extended health coverage at the time but I wouldn't be without them now.
   - JNewman - Wednesday, 09/10/08 19:35:35 EDT

Caleb I think Ptree's point is that this is a blacksmithing forum and blacksmithing is an activity where we are working with a lot of heavy steel items therefor steel toes should be part of your protective equipment.
   - JNewman - Wednesday, 09/10/08 19:41:29 EDT


I wouldn't rool my eyes at you. My grandfather worked in a foundry. His soles wore out very fast on his boots. He couldn't afford to buy new boots all the time. He would take old tires and cut new boot soles out of them and nail them to his boots. He did that for more than thirty years.
   - Rustystuff - Wednesday, 09/10/08 20:33:14 EDT

I found that when I moved from a company that provided $50.00 a year for boots to one that bought up to 3 pairs a year @$125.00 a pair, that nearly all my leg and foot pain went away. The cushioning in boots, even good ones usually wears out faster than the exterior of the boots. Even changing insoles every three months helps alot.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 09/10/08 20:54:33 EDT

Shoes and Boots: At one time I had a lot of foot pain, probably from rapid weight gain. At that time I could tell the difference between standing on hard frozen ground and on concrete just stepping from one to the other. It was really surprising to be able to detect the slight difference (the concrete is harder, hurt more). So I have no doubt that good shoes and boots can make an amazing difference.

Back in the 70's I went out to buy a pair of work boots and ended up buying a relatively high class pair of hiking boots that were on sale for half off at a fancy outdoor store that had located itself in the wrong town. . . NICE boots. At 50% they were still $100. Felt great. Even in the coldest winter weather they kept my feet warm and THAT really does make a difference. Part of the design was insulation and 100% leather liners. Also made in USA. I wore those boots until my toenails wore holes from the inside OUT! I've looked for similar boots for many years and never found a pair that fit my short stubby feet. They SURE were nice while they lasted.

Having comfortable feet can make a big difference in your general well being and thus the hours you can work productively. It is an amazing thing.

I tried to buy steel toed boots once but was on a tight budget. . . The places that I could afford could not fit me. I tried a couple pairs but the steel insert pinched the sides of my wide feet. . . I now know there are places that sell unmatched rights and lefts if necessary and have a wide range of sizes largely because they carry on good line. If you want good work boots the industrial guys are the place to go. They will also fit you, something the uppity mall and discount stores no longer do. Ask anyone that works in big industry. The sales guys usually come around in a truck a couple times a year.

IF you believe any of the BS about steel toes being a hazard you need to see the Myth Busters show on the subject. They destroyed a lot of shoes disproving a number of myths.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/10/08 22:42:05 EDT

I use Red Wings. They are expensive, but they last for five or six years instead of one year if you are lucky. In the long run, the more expensive boots are cheaper, when they last five times as long but only cost twice as much.
   John Christiansen - Wednesday, 09/10/08 23:58:29 EDT

Guru, and others that have problems with feeling the steel toe insert. The regional rep for Iron Age was visiting and I told him of my complaint of feeling the insert. He let me in on a not very secret, secret. The boots with a composite toe insert (mostly used in the electrically rated shoes) will not have that problem. To get the strenght required the composite inserts are wider and taller. I tried a pair and have never worn another real steel insert. The titanium inserts while lighter than steel and more expensive do not have the wider taller profile.

I wore the Iron Age meta-tarsel type boots daily for three years at the axle shop, and worked on concrete, for at least 10 hours a day, walking at least 8 miles a day, and found that as JNewman points out the insole inserts were a blessing, and needed to be replaced about 3 times a year.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/11/08 06:43:10 EDT

Okay, I know some of you guys secretly would admit to it, but a couple weeks ago I was wearing flip flops in the shop (not working mind you, just cleaning up the cellar a bit). I dropped a 4 inch piece of 1-/2" angle iron on my left foot. The second toenail cracked in half and I may have broken the tip of the bone. Even a relatively miniscule piece of metal can wreck havoc to the unprotected.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 09/11/08 08:31:58 EDT

AH, your new nick name, "Flips" ;)
   - guru - Thursday, 09/11/08 09:10:00 EDT

Sizes, My problem is that I wear an 8.5 to 9 EEEEE. In order to get wide enough I have occasionally had to go with 9.5 or 10's. In SOME 9.5's the fit is OK. But 10's are miserable. . I could actually still use a little wider. . Its a genetic thing. Even when I was skinny it was hard to get a wide enough shoe. Most that I could find would end up split at the sides. I recently found an on-line store that had a wide range of sizes and lucked out but had no choice on style/color.

My sister has similar feet but even smaller. Except for the width she would need children's sizes. I haven't asked, but maybe that is how she finds shoes that fit. Children's shoes run wider proportionally than adults. . .

I didn't just "feel" the steel insert it pinched uncomfortably without spending any time in them.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/11/08 09:21:23 EDT

I probably need to go the exterior armor route. . if I want steel toes.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/11/08 09:22:07 EDT

I prefer external toecaps. If you spend a lot of time crawling round inevitably the leather on internals gets scuffed through and then they leak. Externals are getting difficult to source in UK due to EU regulations- but please don't get me started on that subject!
   philip in china - Thursday, 09/11/08 09:35:31 EDT

Out in the oil patch as a mud logger I had company provided RedWings. Some of the rigs didn't like steel toed boots for the hands as a lot of the stuff they were dealing with was way past the specs for a steel toe; 4400 hp system with 300,000 pounds of hook weight. They were hoping that an incident would only take part of the foot. Cold was a big problem too as wet was a given. Sure did like being a mud-logger over a rig hand! (even if they did make more money than I did)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/11/08 10:33:18 EDT

And I thought a 12EE was a pain to find with a toe cap that didn't pinch. U.S. army issue boots come in a wide variety of weird sizes since proper foot gear is important when your using you feet for daily transportation. The Altima boot company is still one of their main suppliers if you have unusual foot sizes and need to order them. The reinforced toe cap is still better than nothing and they hold up well to hot gobbets of metal on the floor too since the rubber sole is so thick. Just stay away from the jungle boots since the uppers are nylon instead of canvas now.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 09/11/08 12:54:28 EDT

Guru, like you, every pair of steel toe shoes I've worn I could feel the cap in. I'm thinking I'll make a pair of "outserts" for my Redwings, buy the way, when I called them packers, they're actually low heeled heavy-duty lace-up riding boots. I've got orthodic inserts already to address another problem so that's out. I called Home Depot about matting and they have perforated 1/2" thick matting that interlocks for $20.00 per 36X36" sheet. I'm going to go that route first and tell you how it works out. Thanks for all the advice.
Nip, your story reminds me about horse folks that go out to their paddocks with the farrier to hold their horses while getting shod, in fipflops and sneakers. The story's always the same...."Oh, don't worry he's never stepped on me before", CRUNCH !!
   Thumper - Thursday, 09/11/08 13:34:08 EDT

My father was a shoe repairman for over 20 years. He told me one guy brought in a pair of work shoes and soles and heels bandsaw cut out of a tire and asked if dad could put them on for him. My dad was a guy for challenges and he hot glued the soles and heels on. Said the guy never came back so he was always curious as to how they held up for him. Seems I recall you could, maybe in the 70s, buy sandles made from old tires.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 09/11/08 13:43:18 EDT

On sandals. During the summer my outer dress is a T, shorts and sandals. I was cutting out maybe 5/16" triangle teeth out of 3/16" metal for a job using an angle grinder. One of the cut out pieces fell between my bare left foot and the sandal. By the time I was able to get it out it had burned more than half way into the ball of the foot. Some 4-5 months later it still isn't fully healed and may never be.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 09/11/08 13:48:42 EDT

Hippy-Dippy Sandals: Back in that era I made two pairs of sandals from tires. The first were made from some old worn out polyester ply tire and worked very well. However, they were made from worn out tires and LOOKED worn out. So the first time I had a chance to pick up a truck recap "alligator" I did so. I made a pair of sandals from that but the edges curled up too much and they were quite heavy. Wore them a little but they never flattened out.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/11/08 13:54:56 EDT

A hippy was hitch hiking and eventually got a ride with a more conventionally dressed man. The driver casually glanced at the hippy's feet and noticed the hippy had only one shoe on. The driver guffawed. He said, "Ha ha, hippy lost a shoe?" to which the hippy replied, "No, hippy FOUND a shoe!"
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/11/08 14:41:33 EDT

I wear sandals winter and summer, both. For a number of activities, like mowing, digging, torch cutting and heavy rigging, I switch to lightweight boots or walking shoes. I can't abide steel-toed footwear and heavy boots just promote foot rot down here in the rain forest, so I have learned to be very careful. Most of the time, anyway. The steam burn the small slag/welder-berry burns and the why-did-I-rest-the-hot-tongs-on-my-foot burns are the exceptions rather than the rule, fortunately. The scars do provide some interesting conversation openers, though. :-)

While I wear what Jeff would consider pretty inappropriate clothing for a forging session, I insist that visitors are properly clad - I *know* what is hot and what is not, what will move when I stub my toe on it and what will resist mightily, but they have no way of knowing and have to be protected.

I would think there would be a market for an external toe/metatarsal guard arrangement that could be easily slipped on and off over any footwear. If such were available, I might consider a set for heavy lifting sessions and working around others doing so. Broken toes and metatarsals really hurt and are horribly inconvenient for a mere biped.

Next week I'll be off to the opthalmologist for a new eyeglass scrip and I'll also be getting a scrip for some disposable mid-range single-vision full contact lenses he recommended I use as protection from chips in the eye. The damned things have a habit of getting in around my safety glasses and having to be ground back out of my eyeball.

The doc said the contacts would take the abuse and be cheap enough to toss when they get a chip in them, saving me the trouble of having yet another divot carved in my eyeballs. Seems like a good plan to me. All that the safety glasses and face shields seem to do is make me sweat so badly that I can't see a thing, which creates a danger of its own. There are some aspects of being a blacksmith in the tropics that require creative solutions and a few compromises it seems. Suits me, I love it here!
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/11/08 18:50:31 EDT

Home Depot to the rescue!! I bought 2 of their workplace/comfort mats, fitted them together by cutting out a bit (the "bit" is perfect for my JYH station), and now have 3 comfortable work areas. They should make a big difference in the Winter too, to keep the cold off my toes. At only 1/2" high, I don't think I'll have to modify my anvil height either. Two pic's below if you want to copy and paste. First is of my shop layout, 2nd is of the tag that was attached.

   Thumper - Thursday, 09/11/08 19:08:43 EDT

more on tire sandels.
As I have been told, if you want the soles to lay flat you have to make a series of cuts on the inside of the tread.
Bothe the long way and the cross way to relieve the cords.
I have three pairs of boots that I can't throw out because the uppers are in too good of shape. I have had one pair resoled by a reputable repairman but, they didn't last any longer than the originals.
I tried cutting up a steel belted radial tire and that was a mistake. Getting through the steel wires is nearly imposible as they are made from spring wire or something that can't be cut with a hacksaw.
I have been getting my work shoes from the B.M. Mason shoe catalog for years. They have always been around $120. and usualy last 2-3 years wich is very good in the typical machine shop. Unfortunatly the shoes I always got are now made in China so I'm going to try the ones made in Wisconsin and sold at the local farm store and then with the "re-treads" on them.
Guru I also have the problem of big feet (12 4E)and I have never been able to find safety toe boots or shoes that have a toe cap wide enough to cover ALL my toes.
BTW, to all, don't let your toes rub on the side of the toe caps. I did and ignored it when the nail on my big toe became ingrown so badly I had to have it removed and the nail root chemically killed to prevent it from reoccuring.

Hey Frank, you're a stitch! (...a more conventionaly dressed man...)
   - merl - Thursday, 09/11/08 19:10:39 EDT

vicopper, I admire your faith in luck with your footwear. As comfortable as your sandals are, after 22+ years of training horses, I refuse to wear anything I can't run in ASAP, anytime. About the external steel toe guard, I'll keep you posted. I used to invent and market tools for jewelers through Rio Grande, (among other things), and this item seems pretty easy and right up my alley.
   Thumper - Thursday, 09/11/08 19:16:21 EDT

Well, just so vicopper doesn't feel alone. When I had my forging setup outside, in the summer I would work bare chested, handed and footed. I would always wear eye protection though.

As Vicopper said, it is really a matter of paying VERY close attention to what you are doing and where things are. I never had my hands, feet or chest burned besides the occasional scale flying. I had some yellow hot stuff fall towards my feet, but had acquired a drop everything and jump out of the way instantly mentality at that point.

Note that I don't recomend this to anyone else, seeing as it is very dangerous, just what I prefered to do with MY body at that time.

Now I use foot wear(no steel toe, I just don't like them, they stiffen up the toe too much, personal preferance), sometimes a shirt, always eye protection, usually ear protection(always when using a grinder) and never gloves(unless electric welding).

Accidents are usually caused by a mistake, I forge alone and stay on my toes, this greatly reduces the chances of something going wrong(of course this means that a brick wall will fall on me tommorrow for no reason, grin).

This may be a little off subject, but to me wearing gloves increases the chances of burning ones hands. Yes, I know this sounds insane. However, if one is wearing leather gloves, they usually get used to picking up black hot metal and thinking little or nothing of it, if it isn't glowing usually the gloves can absord the heat for a split second or longer and not transfer it to your hand.

Now, when the gloves are off, it's just like a hat, after a few hours of wearing them you feel like you always have them on. BINGO BANGO, grab a black hot bit of metal with your bare hand. . .

Really, it is about maintaining a mind set, that is one that there is always danger present, it is hard to be lulled to sleep when one is always thinking about what it hot and what isn't and one acquires "blacksmith" hands after a while, just like dishwasher hands, just a little more intense.

Keep the fire lit,

   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 09/11/08 19:56:56 EDT

Hi all,
I have recently acquired a source of beaten up old 1 inch an inch steel balls from a ball mill (ex paint factory). I'm looking for ideas on what I might use them for. I have a couple of thoughts that I will experiment with this weekend, but I want to avoid wasting too many of them at first. They are pretty banged up from years of smashing into each other.
Any suggestions?
   Craig - Thursday, 09/11/08 20:01:30 EDT

External toe caps for safety. While ANSI spec's specifically call for built in toe caps, several companies make external, strap on toe caps. Available in aluminum, and composite. They are found by most to be clunky, and making walking a bit odd. There are also overshoe type add ons that are like a rubber galosh with a steel toe cap but low cut like a loafer.
We keep them on hand for a couple of things.
1. Those employees that ocassionally forget their proper steel toes. they usually don't forget for a while afetr that as the extra weight and size are really not very good.
2. Folks that have an injuried foot, done off work. They have to either wear a safety toe or not work. The plastic walking boots will sometimes fit into a rubber overshoe type if size extra large.

I would not wear a shoe that rubs. I am blessed to only need a 11.5EEE, and can find many comfortable choices, including what Vicopper terms "the world's most sexy footwear" the Iron Age meta-tarsel 6" full leather, ergo sole, electrical hazard, composite toe boot. I have three pairs, and have given one pair of these now ir-replacable fine boots to my son who strikes for me.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/11/08 20:17:46 EDT


A cut off wheel in an angle grinder will go through a steel belted tire pretty easily. At least I *think* it will -- now that I consider, I'm not sure I've actually tried it. But I *have* had good luck cutting things like wire rope and steel-reinforced hose that way.

Ergonomic floor coverings: What about an inch or two of scale (grin).
   Mike BR - Thursday, 09/11/08 20:39:42 EDT

"Old horseshoers never die; they just do fewer and fewer horses."
Frank, my father once had an ashtray that said something similar, i.e. "Old fishermen never die... they just smell that way"
   Craig - Thursday, 09/11/08 21:10:40 EDT

I use 1-inch steel balls for legs on trivets and platters, for finials on table legs, for finials on coat rack hooks, just about anything that needs a smooth ending. Just a dab of 6011 twixt ball and the object and Bob's your uncle.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 09/11/08 22:50:25 EDT

Steel Balls: There are steel balls. then there are steel balls. Ball bearings are very high carbon, very hard and welds have a tendency to break if not done carefully. Ball mill balls are a very hard steel that is not intended to be machined, welded or fabricated (just cast and used in a ball mill). It is hard nasty stuff that is designed to have abrasion resistance. It also does not weld well unless you take care. It also varies a LOT and I would not accept anyone's advice on them without testing it. I would try hard to break (destruction testing) of a welded on ball mill ball on anything I was selling. Mild steel or medium carbon balls are are available in bearing like finishes and weld well.

Steel balls are handy for various things such a Mile's furniture legs, texturing devices, hardy tools, weighted things (bolos) and revenge (one in a gas tank will drive the owner nuts if they do not replace the tank).

Good to keep on the shelf until an application comes along.
   - guru - Friday, 09/12/08 00:33:02 EDT

Thanks Miles/Guru
The high hardness/carbon comes as a bit of a surprise, considering the impact they sustain. They are quite dented and haven't suffered any chipping or cracking that I can see. My first thought was to pound out the centre with a ball pein to form a donut shape (like a red blood cell). This was intended to hold a tealight candle. Would they be likely to survive that sort of operation?
   Craig - Friday, 09/12/08 01:06:18 EDT

Craig: And here I always thought it was: Old blacksmiths never die; they just quit using their Peterwright!
   - grant - Friday, 09/12/08 04:14:55 EDT

Dr.Marten boots tend to have a wider steel toe cap which doesn't rub but the soles are a soft rubber and air cushioned. Not sure how well they hold up to hot stuff but they go flat walking around on all those sharp little bits that stamping presses tend to spit out everywhere. They were probably the most comfortable boots I ever wore.

Ball bearings in a beer can inside the dashboard make for some pretty irritating revenge as well.
   Robert Cutting - Friday, 09/12/08 08:07:51 EDT

Steel balls in a hub cap if your cars still have hub caps. It sounds like real major problems!
   philip in china - Friday, 09/12/08 08:52:06 EDT

I am wanting to make or buy harden edge 46 in. mower blades 3 blades on mower. I am familiar with hardening and annealing parts but have never done blades. Will the harden edge blade be a safety problem by small pieces coming off on impact? If I can buy these blades please point me in that direction if known. Thank You in advance
   GeraldC - Friday, 09/12/08 09:33:50 EDT

I have a couple of different sized steel balls welded on the end of a an 8" length of MS square bar, used as spoon stakes among other things.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/12/08 09:33:51 EDT

Mower Blades: Gerald, These are a very high liability risk item. Modern manufacturers make them soft for a reason.

Edge hardening something this long would probably put a lot of curve in the part. It would have to be fully hardened and then selectively tempered. In the end you will find that besides the liability issue the cost would be more than you would save in blade wear.
   - guru - Friday, 09/12/08 09:57:47 EDT

Ball Mill Balls: Craig, those flats are probably from wear, not denting. Normally these stay fairly round but in rough material they often slide around and wear unevenly.
   - guru - Friday, 09/12/08 09:59:31 EDT

Does anyone know what would be a good steel for a brick/stone hammer? I have a friend that is a stone sculptor and wants a custom chipping hammer. I want to use a steel that will hold an edge on the chipping side of the hammer. Thanks
   - mark h - Friday, 09/12/08 11:01:38 EDT

Looks like Hurricane Ike will make a direct hit on Houston. I expect to be without power for a week or two so I will probably not be posting for a while. Keep all of us in your prayers.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 09/12/08 11:44:19 EDT

QC, Keep your head down but above water! Good Luck!
   - guru - Friday, 09/12/08 12:31:01 EDT

Hammer Steel: Mark, You need both hard and tough. The body and all but the face and work surfaces want to be tough and the face and tip of the pick need to be hard but within the use range of the steel. Something like SAE 4140 would work but a much tougher steel would be SAE 5160. The difference would be that you would need to be more careful about the heat treat on the 5160.

Many common hammers are made of SAE 1050 as well.
   - guru - Friday, 09/12/08 12:36:15 EDT

Thanks Guru. I've used a lot of S7 to make punches and drifts. Would that work? I love the air hardening capabilities. Thanks
   - mark h - Friday, 09/12/08 13:31:16 EDT

Mark, S-7 would work. It is classic overkill but would make a very nice stone hammer. Just be sure the pien is not brittle.
   - guru - Friday, 09/12/08 13:33:34 EDT


You already are; and most of the rest of our friends and coworkers along the Texas coast, too.

Pax vobiscum, we're pulling for you.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 09/12/08 13:55:36 EDT

I just got a small TENS unit for my hip pain. Other than having fun watching your friends muscles jump, is there anything else I can do with it? Convert it into an electropolisher?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 09/12/08 15:34:20 EDT

Quenchcrack; suggest you LEAVE Immediately, Refugee center being set up in Miami County Fairgrounds Troy OH, oh and bring your own tent....

Don't forget to put everything up as high as you can. Houston is rather low and swampy...

Good Luck

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/12/08 17:33:51 EDT

Quenchcrack, I second ThomasP's thought.

Hang on and take care.
   ptree - Friday, 09/12/08 17:48:36 EDT

Quick question, does any one know of any sites that sell japanese sen scrapers?

Why don't I make one? My striking face is only about 3 square inches and I can't keep anything straight on it let alone create a flat ground razor sharp edge.
   Nabiul Haque - Friday, 09/12/08 18:40:19 EDT

Scrapers: Scrapers for soft materials like wood or babbitt have thin square edges that are honed prior to drawing a curl on the edge. Scrapers for steel are a relatively heavy chisel edge. The whole point of scrapers is that they are primitive tools dating from the stone age. A piece of file ground to the shape desired will make a nice scraper. I save old files of every size and shape just for this kind of thing. The classiest and priciest steel for this kind of thing is high alloy HSS cutter bits.
   - guru - Friday, 09/12/08 19:41:29 EDT

Well, I been havin' fun the last few days. I've started manufacturing nail headers. Might well be the first time these have ever been manufactured. While many blacksmith tools were made in quantity production in the late 1800's, mass production also led to cheap nails!

Anyway, I found my square punch was wearing down and loosing size pretty quickly. So I ended up making a lot of holes a little smaller than I intended. A little ragged too. What I hit on was broaching them cold after forging. I found I could cut the tapered end of a squate file just above where it gave the correct size, then I ground the extra part down a little so it could drop thru the hole. The broach I made was only about 2" long. Pushed it through with my little #4 flypress. Worked a treat! I can see other applications. I'm only removing .010-.025 but it sure gave a nice finish. I can see using this in the future like on a round hole where I need a size I don't have a reamer for. Just cut a rattail file at the right point.

Well, files only come in so many sizes. I needed a little larger, so I ground a HSS tool bit into a barrel drift and pushed it through the hole cold with the little flypress. That really worked good. The hole already had a back-taper so the tool was just sizing the top portion of the hole. Kinda reverse drawing. Like cold drawn products are drawn thru a die. Only I was drawing the die thru the part.
   - grant - Friday, 09/12/08 20:27:55 EDT

A few folks have been manufacturing headers by hand in modest quantities. . . .

I photographed a load of antique headers for a museum. All had a steel plate welded to the top of the working ends of the wrought iron tools. Some were beautifully made. One smith punched a small hole in the shank of the header then drew out a point on his steel and bent it to fit in the hole. I think this was to hold the steel in place while heating and welding. It resulted in a distinct shape. The shop made wagon hardware and out of dozens of bolt headers I do not remember one actual nail header.
   - guru - Friday, 09/12/08 23:10:27 EDT

I do make a subtle distiction between "making" and "manufacturing". Maybe it's just in my head. I can "make" something and then make another and another. To me that's not manufacturing. Manufacturing (to me) means specialized tooling and production suited to quantity production. Nowadays "by hand" is usually taken to be the antithisis of manufacuring. Most blacksmiths don't want their work considered the same as "manufactured goods".
   - grant - Saturday, 09/13/08 01:01:29 EDT

I know the profile of the sen having made drawings of Yataiki, the saw maker's sen. I played at making that profile at the forge. Never made a working one, though. They come in different widths. The smaller ones are used to make the recess on the flat back of wood chisels. The larger ones are used to shave saws and swords.

The Ozark School has been selling nail headers for a while, supposedly "hand forged" of 5160. I've seen them, and the circular business end is bossed up so that the top is a bit convex (domed).

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/13/08 07:38:05 EDT

I have seen Tom Clark make many nail headers at Demos. He uses heavy truck spring stock and a power hammer and makes a very nice one indeed. Have one in fact.
   ptree - Saturday, 09/13/08 08:26:41 EDT

Nabiul- Check out the Japan Woodworker, both print and website. http://www.japanwoodworker.com/page.asp?content_id=10045
When I was timberframing I purchased lots of very high quality tools from them. IIRC they sell scrapers.
   Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 09/13/08 08:46:32 EDT

Judson; they probably sell scrapers for wood not scrapers for iron and steel.

Wood scrapers are a totally different beast and often set up where it easy to dress a wire edge on them to "cut" with.

Sens, for iron and steel, are tempered much harder.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 09/13/08 09:41:21 EDT

Yep. . just wood working tools.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/13/08 10:27:14 EDT

Ack it looks like I'm going to have to make one after all.

I'll try using the file guru.
   Nabiul Haque - Saturday, 09/13/08 12:09:32 EDT

I am a fireplace store owner. Since I have been the business only three years, I have been hearing the same three year debate regarding cast iron's ability to warp against 5/16 plated steel. There may be some questions you need to ask me that I may need to get answers for, but is there an easy answer???

   Mark Benson - Saturday, 09/13/08 13:44:22 EDT

Is the sen used flat face up or curved face up? I'm just girinding flat the faces of a standard file thats D shaped in crossection. Also what is the usual angle for the chisel shaped cutting edges?
   Nabiul Haque - Saturday, 09/13/08 14:14:13 EDT

Steel Vs. Cast Iron Stoves: Mark, There are many differences between cast iron and steel. I've had both CI and steel stoves and built a number of steel stoves. At normal operating temperatures I have never had a problem with warping. I HAVE seen both steel and cast iron parts ruined from high temperatures.

The facts:

1) Steel is generally two to three times as strong as cast iron

2) Steel is ductile and can be bent. Cast iron breaks rather than bending. It is considered inflexible for all practical purposes. This also means that steel can stretch and cast iron will crack instead.

3) The coefficient of expansion of steel is only slightly greater than cast iron.

4) Cast iron melts at several hundred degrees lower than steel.

5) Cast iron is much cheaper than steel and can be easily produced in complicated shapes much more economically than steel. This is the only feature that made cast iron a suitable material for making stoves.

A cast shape can have the advantage of curves, ribs and reinforced edges for strength. This is the only thing makes cast iron suitable.

A flat steel plate is more likely to show warpage due to having been flat. However that warpage generally occurs at a temperature that would have cracked, melted or burned out a cast iron plate.

Prior to the great wood heating surge in the 70's driven by easy to manufacture steel plate stoves popularized by Fisher then copied and manufactured by thousands of small welding and fabrication shops all wood stoves were made from cast iron OR cast iron and sheet steel. The difference in the 1970's was that casting had become more expensive and it took time to bring a product to market. In very high production a cast iron stove could be cheaper but the initial costs are huge. Anybody with an arc welder could order steel plate cut to size and build a steel plate stove overnight to meet the immediate demand.

So, there you have it. Steel is a much better material than CI. However, it USED to be cheaper to make things of cast iron. Today it is often cheaper to fabricate from steel. A flat plate will show warpage but a cast shape may not by virtue of its shape, not the material.

So why are you so specific about "5/16" plate? We used to build stoves from 1/4" and 3/8" with 1/2" for doors. Occasionally some 5/16" would slip in if it was cheaper.

The last stove I built was a monster with a finned heat exchanger on the top. The bottom was lined with firebrick. We used it for a number of years but it was too big for the space we had it in. My brother has been using it as a primary heat source for about 25 years. I have seen the sides glowing red and there has never been a hint of buckling or warping.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/13/08 17:20:07 EDT

A neighbor, who is a deacon at his church has asked me to see about modifying the top rail of the church's front step railings. Skateboarders are useing the rails to slide "grind" on and the church wants to not have them atracted to the rails, and to prevent damage to rails and kids alike.

They want something welded to the top rail. Anyone faced this before? Ideas?
   ptree - Saturday, 09/13/08 17:20:43 EDT

I saw this a long while back somwhere about non skate friendly surfaces and did a quick search for it.

   Nabiul Haque - Saturday, 09/13/08 18:12:02 EDT

Nabiul, Sen for use on steel.

The cutting edges fore and aft are bent downward slightly so that a straight edge would reveal about 1/32" gap. The "gap" side is held facing the workpiece, but not touching it because just the cutting edges make contact, not the body of the tool. The cutting edges are bevels facing upward toward the worker. Each bevel is convex (radiused) for strength, bellied like sharpening a cold cut or an axe, but one sided. Because of the convexity, it is difficult to measure with a protractor, but it's going to be close to 60º. It is sharp, but not like a thin, "razor sharp" woodworkers shave.

A traditional Japanese sen is made by faggot welding high carbon steel onto mild steel and allowing the result to normalize. Some of Yataiki's handle shanks were riveted on and some were faggot welded onto the top-median line of the tool. When hardening, a little miso paste mixed with salt is put on the cutting edges. After quenching in tepid water, no temper is drawn.

One of Yataiki's sen had 3½" long cutting edges and it was 2" wide. The cutting edge length was smoothly convex, losing about 1/16" at either end. The body of the tool in the center was a scant 3/16" thick, thinning a little toward the cutting edge. Each handle shank was long: 3/16" x ½" x 7 3/4". I think that they could be shortened, depending on end use.

Yataiki used the sen a bit skewed, pushing it at a slight angle to the length of the work.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/13/08 18:15:42 EDT

anvilfire NEWS photo of Japanese Sen in useThe Sen, and other Scrapers: The Japanese Sen is similar to a draw knife except it is thicker and often has two edges so that it can be used on push and pull. The blade varies in width from 2" (50mm) to 4" (100mm) or more depending on the type of blade that will be scraped smooth with it. They also may be narrow for cutting a fuller or hollowing a chisel.

Chinese scraper bench The Chinese version has a seperate blade in a holder. Click images for details.

Both these tools are for cutting annealed or normalized steel. Their edge is slightly steeper than a cold chisel at about a 30 to 40 degree angle. Scrapers for metal generally have a plain straight edge. Those for softer materials have a rolled "wire" edge. However, a wire edge may be used on soft steel when making a fine final finish.

iForge scraper demo Our iForge demo on scrapers is primarily about the type used on wood and soft metals.

When making a flat surface the blade edge it held at an angle to the traveling axis. A few strokes are made at one angle then the angle is reversed to prevent ripples. On large surfaces the traveling angle angle of the strokes is also varied. With practice and experience a very fine surface can be produced.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/13/08 18:19:13 EDT

Loafers Rail: Ptree, This was the stuff used in cities to keep folks from sitting on railings or leaning on it two long. It had a scalloped ridge about 1/4" wide with 2" between rounded points down the center that would make it very uncomfortable to sit on but not dangerous. It was, and may still be available commercially.

The problem is that it worked on top rails of fences but was not appropriate for a hand rail. The code in general requires rails to follow parallel to the surface they are on and to signal changes in the stairs so that one can safely navigate them in the dark.

The only legal safe way to keep boarders off rails is with an end barrier that prevents them from getting on the rail easily. If there is a retaining wall next to the rail then it needs to be topped with a fence and loafers rail.

THEN, you can also consider building a park nearby for grinding. . These are often made using channel tops and are much lower than railings which are quite dangerous. This should be considered as a neighborhood peace keeping effort. Ask the boarders.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/13/08 18:39:42 EDT

I found several ideas from the web. Most a gentle bump added to the rail top, that would not obstruct use of the rail as intended, but won't allow the rails to be used to grind.

And there is an excellent skate park in Louisville, they have held the extreme games there a couple of times.
   ptree - Saturday, 09/13/08 19:19:58 EDT

In my opinion, and I have only used wood stoves for 35 years, including Morso, Godin, Fisher, and a slew of others, Fisher made the best wood stoves ever built. We have depended on Fishers to get us through winters when they were our only heat source in a 1,200-square foot house. So has the friend in the guest house. So has our son who heated his place in Santa Fe with a Fisher. They were made with heavy steel plate. Loved the looks of the Morso, love the Godin, but the Fisher is a better stove. Be interesting to know why a company with such a great product went out of business-- EPA?
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/13/08 19:39:26 EDT

Miles I had a Grandpa Bear Fisher for heat when I built the current house and we used that for about 6 years. It was simply too big for the spac, 2000'. The other issue was that my lovely young bride, was and is a CITY girl, and never did master that stove.:) That is why I changed to a outdoor burner, that and the extra 800' I added when she continued to present me with children. The addition did not get the circulation that the original house got. It was indeed a well built stove.
   ptree - Saturday, 09/13/08 19:54:43 EDT

ptree: Check the local and ADA codes before You add the gentle bumps, I am pretty sure they won't pass ADA, and I am pretty sure a church has to comply with ADA.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 09/13/08 22:59:29 EDT

Hi, dont know if yall would know but figured you might, where could i get a wet stone like this one
or one similar to do the edge after making the bevels
   - Jacob lockhart - Saturday, 09/13/08 23:21:35 EDT

wait that stone can be bought off the internet so that sounds like very dumb question but i meant locally like at at harbor freight or sears or will that have to be bought off the internet
   - Jacob lockhart - Saturday, 09/13/08 23:23:46 EDT

and another random question what kind of places use metal 55 gallon drums, i would like 1 to make charcoal
   - Jacob lockhart - Saturday, 09/13/08 23:43:01 EDT

Jacob, For your money you cannot beat a Norton combination stone with coarse crytsalon and fine India. They are inexpensive, all purpose and hard enough to cut most steels. PLUS you can get them almost anywhere. I've used them for years and recently a top bladesmith recommended them to me as well.

If you want exotic stones then expect to have to order them from specialty houses. See nortonstones.com for a wide range of stones including water stones.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/13/08 23:49:08 EDT

Downside-- being airtights, they do produce beaucoup creosote, and that can, if left in the stack and given half a chance, make a dandy chimney fire. Sooooo, tomorrow, with the nighttime temps now in the low 40s, the CEO and I will once again get up on the damn roof with the rod and the brush....
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/13/08 23:51:14 EDT

Miles, know what you mean about cleaning the flue. Been there, done that still have the stained Tee shirt:)
   ptree - Sunday, 09/14/08 08:36:13 EDT

Wood Stoves: We finally got rid of both our wood stoves because they were too much for the space we had and air-tights are a hazard under those conditions as well as in some climates.

Running near shut down (smouldering) we would get large quantities of flaking creosote in our chimney in just a few days. If we did not clean weakly or more often we would get a chimney fire or a stack fire any time we ran the stove hot enough to ignite the creosote.

To safely heat with a wood stove it needs to run a lot hotter than smouldering. The flue gases must be hot enough not to condense in the flue and the flue must be kept hot enough not to condense flue gases. . . This means the supposed advantage of burning all night without needing to add fuel is a dangerous claim. Eventually all air-tight wood stoves run at smouldering conditions create a dangerous build up of creosote.

When my brother installed my big stove he put in a thermostatic device that kept the stack gases at a minimum of 400 to 450°F. He was also heating a larger area and could keep the stove running very hot most of the time.

The safest wood stove I used was a cheap tin box type with a leaky cast iron door. It was small and could only run hot. Creosote was never a problem. You had to add wood to it several times during the night to keep warm but at least you did not have to worry about chimney fires. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 09/14/08 12:40:11 EDT

My name is Dan and I'm located in the metro detroit, Michigan area.

I am really interesting in blacksmithing mainly in part because I want to make my own decorative weapons...and then hopefully sell them at the ren faire or something, and also because I feel I need a hobby that dosent include video games.....My question is where can I get started down the path, what do I need, and who ( if anyone knows anyone in this area) should I see to start training me....any help would be great and I look forward to hearing from someone soon :D
   Dan - Sunday, 09/14/08 15:13:13 EDT

We did the chimney, this morning, the CEO up top operating the new Fiberglas brush so as to go easy on the gorgeous new stainless "liner" inside the chimney, me in the hearth dealing with the garbage bags and the creosote. Hideous job, no doubt about it, lotsa little irks, like oxidized screws. that make a 20-minute job take a morning. I am wearing the stained Tee shirt just like ptree's as I type this-- and the sooty hat and the sooty jeans, and the schnozzola full of glass particles from the ceramic Thermawrap or whatever it's called that I had to take off the pipe to move the stove to get at the bottom cap. And as Jock says, it'll need it again before long. Life in the half-fast lane. Next incarnation: an apartment. With radiators.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 09/14/08 15:25:22 EDT

Getting Started: Dan, if you look at the top of most of our pages you will see a link titled "Getting Started in Blacksmithing". It is not the only way but it is the way many get started. Buy books, a few tools, make a forge, and start practicing. This article has been revised several times and is due again to address the differences between those that want to be hobbiests, serious part timers or profesionals. But the beginning for most is the same.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/14/08 17:11:45 EDT

Tried to hammer out one of those balls with almost comical results. First, it took FOREVER to get up to heat (could this have to do with the shape?). Then, I had unbelievable trouble getting it out of the fire, and nearly burned it when it fell down into the centre of the forge. Once I got it to the anvil, I discovered that none of my tongs could hold it down securely, and started a small fire in my garden when it shot of into a pile of leaf litter with the first hit.
The result was a strategic withdrawal from the process until I have a bit more of a think about my methods. I was really surprised at how hard it still was at a yellow-orange heat...
   Craig - Sunday, 09/14/08 19:23:56 EDT

Steel Balls: Craig, As I pointed out about ball mill balls the alloy can be pretty strange and not necessarily forgeable. Many nasty to work metals are cast and that is IT.

Having tools to hold the work is critical. The problem with small pieces is they change size and shape rapidly. The type tongs used are often like "pickup" tongs which have two or more sizes in the jaws. See the OC Pickup tongs on the BlacksmithsDepot.com site.

The other route to go is to weld on a small sized handle or porter bar and do away with tongs. Often this becomes a shank or stem for the finished part but it can also be cut off when you are finished.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/14/08 19:41:43 EDT

Craig. This may help. Ball tongs have one jaw bifurcated and properly curved (like two tines) and the other is a single prong, curved and central.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/14/08 20:10:55 EDT

JY steel rules apply, eh? I take your point, and think I will put them away until such time as I have an actual job for them.
   Craig - Sunday, 09/14/08 20:13:07 EDT

I couldn't manage a concave face on the cutting side using an angle grinder so I left it flat, the result is pretty sharp, but I have a feeling that it isn't sharp enough. At most I manage 1mm long curls from using it and using it on both push/pull is more difficult than doing one of them exclusively. It makes a deep rumbling sound when I use it.



But it does seem to work a lot better than a file, now if I could only find a table to clamp this sword onto.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 09/14/08 20:56:43 EDT

Back to footwear for a second. For those of you who can't afford mega-buck shoes, those mats Home Depot are the cat's meow for comfort!!
   Thumper - Sunday, 09/14/08 20:59:26 EDT

Looking at a 400 champion blower. From pictures it appears to have a vent or oil/grease port on top is this original. It looks to be leaking oil?? Can the seals bushing bearings be replaced???
   - Mike C - Sunday, 09/14/08 21:14:49 EDT

Mike C: These have no seals. The caps on the ends of the shafts are for grease for the bearings,pack with grease and give 1/8 of a turn every few working days. A few drops of light oil daily on the gears lubricates them. Don't put too much oil in it, and not too much will leak out.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 09/14/08 21:33:19 EDT

DAN, can you get to the Quad-State Blacksmith's Round-Up in Troy OH Sept 26, 27, 28 ? (just off the interstate just north of Dayton) You can camp onsite to lower costs and *EVERYTHING* you could need or want for a smithing set up will be on sale there both new and used and antique---including books. There is also begining smithing instructions and a Demo by a bladsmith (as well as all the other demos going on at the same time) You can also hobnob with a lot of blademakers including at least one who did refair work, Adlai of Macabee Forge.

There will be a passle of us from the net forums there; I'm driving from New Mexico and Rich is flying in from the US Virgin Islands for it---it's *that* good.

More info can be found by going to the NAVIGATE anvilfire menus in the top right of theis page and going down to near the bottom to ABANA-Chapter.com and thence to Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil and the Quad-State 2008 link on their website.

If you can attend be sure to say Hi to me---I'll be the guy with the disreputable red hat. Oh---don't camp too close to the dog pound if barking keeps you awake.

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/15/08 11:16:00 EDT

Gooday from a very grey and very green ireland.
i intend to install a 2cwt clear space massey and would like to avoid running the unit from its 12 hp electric motor. the concept of running direct via belts from a stationary diesel engine has anyone any information. all tips are graciously recieved.
   myloh - Monday, 09/15/08 11:58:47 EDT

Engine Power: The critical thing here is a good speed control (governor) on the engine. Load varies with operation and a fairly constant speed is necessary. The ratio of the belting needs to put the engine near its peak HP speed unless the engine is greatly oversized. Also note that electric motor an internal combustion engine horsepowers are not equivalent. I'm not sure but I think the engine needs to be rated higher than the electric.

You might want to talk to John C. at Massie Hammers. He frequents this forum and I am sure he would gladly give you some advice.

   - guru - Monday, 09/15/08 12:17:09 EDT

Good man and thanks for that, i'll give him a call, and let you know of the progress
   myloh - Monday, 09/15/08 14:00:29 EDT

im needing a new anvil because i got cheped out on an ASO. im not needing any thing fancy and have 400 - 500 to spend. so i need to know what kind, what weight, and where should i buy it. please and thank you
   sam - Monday, 09/15/08 17:01:27 EDT

Ahh Sam, perhaps you can share with us what your plans/needs for the anvil are and where you are located?

Should we suggest a heavy industrial anvil, or a light portable one? Strictly knifemaking where you don't really need a horn; or one for general ornamental work.

Should I type out where in England there was an anvil in a junk store; or the one I saw besides the RR tracks in Spain or are you located in Australia or South Africa?

Shoot if you were near western Ohio in the USA there will be dozens of anvils for sale at the Quad-State Blacksmiths round up in only 10 more days and a LOT of good ones in that price range! (I'm driving up from New Mexico to attend Quad-State)

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/15/08 17:30:02 EDT

Sam, NEVER tell up front what you have to spend. It hurts your negotiating position and this IS a public forum.

See my "Selecting an Anvil" article in the FAQs section.

That money will get you a fairly nice used anvil but won't go far on a good new one. But a lot depends on where you are. Now if you are in Central America, say Guatemala or Nicaragua that money will go a long way if it doesn't get you killed.
   - guru - Monday, 09/15/08 17:37:45 EDT

Sam, I have a 120# anvil you can have for free if you can arrange to collect it some time. Then the money could go on something else.
   philip in china - Monday, 09/15/08 19:16:14 EDT

if your a bladesmith sam yu can make a good anvil from an old forlift tine, i havent cut and welded mine yet, but its a 6 inch wide 2 7/8 inch thick and 26 long hardened spring steel fork,if your a do it yourself man this works well. or with your .5 G's you could buy a good new one, i think you could get a smaller peddinghaus for that. and i have a question, how do the neo tribal Tim lively style forges work, the adobe kind, i was gonna make my own adobe style on a stump. Anyone ever used one? did you like it? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best)? Thanks, May your roof never fall in and those under it never fall out.
   - Jacob lockhart - Monday, 09/15/08 19:46:12 EDT

Myloh: A good rule of thumb is that an engine should make 2X the horsepower of the motor it replaces at the RPM You intend to run it at.
Engines from standby generators tend to have good governers. If You end up using the engine from a genset but don't have a specification for the engine hoprsepower, 2X the KW output of the generator will be the aproximate horsepower [minimum] of the engine at that RPM.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 09/15/08 21:06:31 EDT

I have a Harbor Frieight 64 1/2 metal bandsaw - got it a while back but all it wants to do is take a perfectly good $16 blade and run it up onto the rims of the wheels, bending it into an "L" shaped cross section. I tried playing with tension some, but to no effect... and it got expensive. What do I do?
   - vorpal - Monday, 09/15/08 21:09:08 EDT

you get what you pay for at harbor freight you might have paid for a decent one and just having some regular problems but you have to watch what you buy there.......central freight or whatever there main brand is not renowned for excellence
   - Jacob lockhart - Monday, 09/15/08 21:52:01 EDT

I just made a slake tub from a 1/2 oak barrel. I had to use some henry's roofing material to seal it from leaking. Should I do anything to it, should I treat it with anything, and how often should I change the water. Thanks, David
   - David - Monday, 09/15/08 23:38:39 EDT

4x6 Bandsaws: Vorpal, As Jacob noted, you get what you pay for. The cheap saws are notable for not having sufficient adjustments to make them run right. Paw-Paw had a brand new HF saw that only had maybe an hour on it when he died. I considered buying it from Sheri but the first time we tried to adjust the tracking we found there was no adjustment. Attempting to reduce the clearance of the side guides did not work. They would either leave a .015" gap OR would be overtight. We popped the seals out of the cheap undersized guide bearing while trying to adjust it. The saw was virtually given away the following week.

Many of these saws are made in small family workshops that have only a small cheap drill press, a mill/drill and maybe one of their own saws. Castings come from local foundries that supply dozens of these little shops making saws. Components made on press brakes are also made by others and one or two exporters will oversee the parts supply and sales.

On the other hand, I have the ORIGINAL American made 4x6 saw made by Ridgid Tools back in the late 60's and early 70's. All three wheels on each guide have large eccentric adjusters and the guide blocks have slots and two bolts holding them on so that they can also be adjusted. The top wheel also has tilt and rack (in/out) adjustments as well as blade tension. You can get this saw so out of wack it will not keep a blade on but you can also fine tune it to cut absolutely perfectly square. The table is heavy cast iron as is the head. It was not a high priced machine but it cost about three times what the imports cost NOW 40 years later. It worked, and worked, and works. . .

Blade tension is about the only working adjustment on the cheap saws but some have tracking as well. If the blade is not tensioned it will hop onto the guide shoulder. IF the blade is over tensioned the frame will deflect and the misaligned wheels will let the blade run off.

IF the top wheel is tilted forward too much at the top the blade will walk over the shoulder. The term for the wheel alignment is "being co-planar". The wheels should be as if they are each resting face down on a flat surface, that is, in the same plane. On a good band saw this can be set while the machine is stationary. Then fine tracking adjustment is made while running. Or cut off types you try to start co-planar with just a TAD of tilt to keep the blade running on the shoulder when the blade is tensioned.

IF the wheel tilts OUT at the top that makes the back high and the blade will try to run to the high point. IF running with a lot of force it will climb the shoulder.

SO, if your saw has both tilt and tension you can adjust both. If just tension. . then that is all you can do.

Note that the often use setscrews that are too short on the tilt adjustment. They should be long enough for lock nuts. Those without often get out of adjustment.

The CPO Jet website has the manual for their saw and how to adjust it. Hard to tell if the guides are any better than the others but Jet machines, while cheap do tend to work while many of the others never worked to start.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 00:00:17 EDT

Oak Barrel Slack Tub: David, All you should have needed to do is tighten the hoops a little by driving them on a half an inch farther and then put water in it. After a few days of minor leaking it would have stopped.

While oak barrels hold up quite well if kept full they will fall apart if let dry out. They will also rot if they set on damp ground. Otherwise just fill it and use it.

Normally the water will evaporate and need refiling regularly. Dump it out when you don't like the looks of the water. . . Often you lose bits and pieces or small tools in the bottom that need dumping out once in a while. Keep oil out. no soap. But Chlorox bleach keeps down mosquitoes. At least it did in my old shop. I'm not having much luck in the new one. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 00:07:45 EDT

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