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 - 23, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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I just made a slack 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

4 x 6 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

I have been asked for my help with a strongman stunt, bending nails. One guy sent me a link to a page that recommends you buy 1/4" mild steel rod at Home Depot (get gouged on steel prices) and cut the rod to nail sized lengths. They say that it's the same as a common nail. I say BS, but can't find any sources about common nail steel content. I assume it's A36 or something close to it. But the work hardening process involved in nail manufacture throws the idea off its tracks anyway. Home Depot doesn;t know what type of steel they sell either. I say it's fine and dandy for excersize and build up to bend a regular nail, but it's not the same thing. Any comments?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/16/08 08:34:53 EDT

I'm BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCK! Made it through the hurricane with no damage, just a lot of tree litter to rake up. No power since Saturday at 1:30 AM. We are running on a generator but gas is hard to find. FEMA is doing their usual pathetic job getting supplies to those who really need it. Galveston is almost totally destroyed.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/16/08 08:58:50 EDT

Nail Steel: Because the modern imported nails are run through machines that cold head and pinch the point on by the millions the nail wire is a high quality super soft steel. It is a MUCH softer more malleable material than A36. I do not know what the carbon content is but I would say it is lower than SAE 1020. One reference I found states SAE 1006, SAE 1008. Try driving these nails into hardwood and you will KNOW they are soft.

If you want soft you need a good low carbon steel and then fully anneal it. Most wire or small bar products are drawn or rolled and are slightly work hardened.

If you want softer, then pure iron or not iron (aluminium, tin) is the way to go.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 09:08:07 EDT

QC, Glad you made it OK. Downtown Huston looked pretty bad as well. Buildings withstood it but most lost half their glass or more and had water damage.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 09:11:14 EDT

sam: First learn about the various anvil types, such as cast iron, cast iron with a steel plate, wrought iron body with steel plate or heat-treated ductile iron. My recommendation would be either a cast iron with steel plate (e.g., Fisher or Vulcan) or composit-bodied (wrought iron or mild steel) with a steel plate, such as Trenton, Arm & Hammer, Hay-Budden, Peter Wright, Mousehole, Foster or Wilkinson.

Another consideration should be hardy hole size. The most common hardy tool shank seems to be 1". If an anvil has a larger hardy hole it can be shimmed down.

Keep checking www.craigslist.com, searching on anvil under the nearest cities. Those will likely be within a reasonable driving distance to pick up, but can be as overpriced as some on eBay.

As noted above, where you are somewhat determines the value of anvils. They are fairly common east of the Mississippi River, but scarce west of it. Supply and demand at work.

Keep checking eBay. You can do a search on anvil within say a 200 miles range.

On shipping an anvil, up to 150 pounds can be sent via one of the ground services (e.g., UPS/FedEx). Over 150 it has go freight. At least with UPS an anvil does not have to be boxed up. Top can be covered with duct tape and the label taped it it. I've received/shipped a couple that way. UPS will charge something like $8 extra for being unboxed, but well worth the extra cost IMHO.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 09/16/08 10:02:59 EDT

I once worked in a small custom wood shop, (small because we were using 100 year old tools and so had to stay under OSHA's radar), and the boss decided he wanted to build a redwood hot tub.

So the semi shows up with a load of redwood and we go to making slats for a day, set up the multi ton woods 7 head moulder and the gang saw to feed it and run a lot of redwood through it.

The boss welded up some adjustable "bands" of heavy rod stock and we put it together, tightened it up and start filling it with water---leaked like a sieve. (he should have put a sprinkler in it to get the staves wet without wasting so much water leaking onto the ground)

3 days later it was tight as a drum and the outside of the staves felt only slightly moist and the boss had his 4'deep 10' diameter redwood barrel stave hot tub.

I use wooden buckets at demo's and have to start them soaking about 2 days before the demo to get them holding water again. Days of 4% relative humidity tends to be hard on barrelstave construction...

Thomas I leave for Quad-State tomorrow am, TGLWATCDR!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/16/08 11:01:11 EDT

I bought a double crosspein hammer with sharpened ends like it was set up for parting off. It has an a inside of a horseshoe and the number 2 on one side with a different style a without a horseshoe on the other side. Is this an Atha? If not any other ideas as to who made it? Thanks again everyone.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 09/16/08 11:59:09 EDT

Robert, Yes that is an Atha. This is possibly one of several tools. A mill pick, used to dress mill stones OR a welder's chipping "hammer" (actually handled chisel). Both have sharpened wedge shaped ends, occasionally on opposite axiis. In reality it is the same tool just used for different purposes.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 12:54:42 EDT

I'm an experienced welder/fabricator but a novice blacksmith which my wife now says is an addiction problem. So I just finished a large aquarium stand to buy her good will. Need pantina formulas and application techniques for iron other than 'rust' colored. Have seen photos with speckled gray/black finish that would look great but I'd appreciate any advise/direction/sources you could offer...THX, Keith
   keith - Tuesday, 09/16/08 15:47:04 EDT

Keith, That speckled finish is probably powder coating. Paint, paint and more paint is the way to go. The variety is infinite (look at automobile colors from the past 100 years. . ). You also need something that will resist spilled water, glass cleaner and condensation. Paint.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 16:23:41 EDT

Maybe fleckstone? After a few coats of a nice base maybe a stone type finish would work.

BTW Jock, I sent a copy of the nail info you wrote. Turns out the stunt isn't all that impressive once you know the material. I challenged the guy to bend a masonry nail.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/16/08 18:00:31 EDT

David- "You know you are a blacksmith from the North if..." you throw something in the slack tub and it goes THUNK...hisssss. Watch out if you are from an area where the tub freezes solid, it will break oak barrels. I have lost a few that way.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 09/16/08 18:48:46 EDT

ok sorry about that i was rushing to write what i had erliar. im needing a good anvil that will let me do light ornamental to heavy tool makeing. i live in iowa and am a fairly young blacksmith so i dont have the means to travel far to get one.
   sam - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:03:20 EDT

and philip if you do live in china im a litle to far to get it. and i have no clue were to find a good used anvil.
   sam - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:08:04 EDT

hey sam check farm auctions here in texas their relatively common
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:18:24 EDT

wait you dont have to come to texas i phrased that wrong, just check auctions.......
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:24:29 EDT

oh and if being young makes you feel at a disadvantage, i turn 15 the 21st
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:25:46 EDT

and i get an epiphone electric bass!! yay
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:26:32 EDT

oh and where can pure iron be found? do yall see it very necesarry to have the special tented foundry glasses or do safety sunglasses work? thanks a million
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:32:43 EDT

hey jacob how exactly do i check the auctions in texas
   sam - Tuesday, 09/16/08 21:43:10 EDT

hey jacob how exactly do i check the auctions in texas.
   sam - Tuesday, 09/16/08 21:45:25 EDT

Sam Look up postal zip codes in the phone book or other resource then punch them into auctionzip.com on the internet and check the listings. Most auction companies now have online bidding available or the good old telephone works too. You can buy stuff from all over this way and many auction companies are easy to deal with because they can be reported to the liscensing agency in their home state for fradulent activities.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 09/17/08 00:06:23 EDT

Thanks, Guru. Multipurpose hammers are the best. Got an even better deal than I thought.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 09/17/08 00:08:38 EDT

Sam, on-line via ebay. . . or via the auction houses. . many have web pages and you can bid by proxy.

Iowa is JUST across the River (and a state or two) from Ohio. 560 nice flat miles more or less. A good long days drive in a pickup or car sufficient to bring home an anvil and other iron stuff from SOFA Quadstate. . . You can camp on the grounds. Great event and its cheap.

For me its 350 miles and over the mountains plus a companion to help with the driving. . . (and adding to the costs) VIcopper is flying 1500 miles (one way) Thomas is DRIVING that far. . . (3,000 mile round trip) just to ogle the little iron he didn't haul away when he lived there. . . and say hi to friends. . .

Don't complain about distances. In the not so distant past the British blacksmiths would charter a plane to come to an ABANA conference. Some of the dealers at SOFA will drive heavily loaded trucks farther than you will. . .

Shaded glasses can help with your visibility, eyestrain and possible long term retina damage if you stare into a welding heat fire or a gas forge a lot. If you have patience and don't stare into the fire regular safety glasses are fine.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 00:11:55 EDT

I am building a hammer based on the "rusty" style hammer built by the Appalacian Blacksmiths Assn. The plans (guidlines) call for the leaf springs to be straightned before mounted to the hammer. My question is: Is it necessary to straighten the leaf springs or is it possible to use them with the arch the have as they come off the vehicle they were mounted to. If there is an advantage to straightning the springs what would it be?
Thank You ,
   Harley - Wednesday, 09/17/08 03:54:58 EDT

Distance... Ha!
   philip in china - Wednesday, 09/17/08 07:15:28 EDT

Right now is the second cheapest time of the year to fly. If I wasn't leaving for England next week and didn't already have close to the max weight for my shipping container already packed and stacked I would have come. Unfortunately I have to wait a few more years and come with the UK smiths.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 09/17/08 08:24:28 EDT

thanks all for helping me, and the reason i cant get to the SOFA Quadstate, is one im 15 and two its on my brothers weding day.
   sam - Wednesday, 09/17/08 08:26:03 EDT

Inconsiderate brothers. . tell them to elope!
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 08:49:26 EDT

Spring Shape: Harley, The force vectors on the springs need to be more or less perpendicular to the plane at the connecting point on the spring. You could leave the curve in, lower the pivot point and move the drive rod point toward the front and everything would probably work right.

Straightening the springs is not that big a deal. The hammer we are building uses trailer springs that needed a reduced arc. I just put them in a hydraulic press (a heavy vice or arbor press would do) and took out some curve.

With stacked springs you will need to disassemble, re-arc, and reassemble.

We also pushed out the plastic bushings (I thought they were steel and made a tool to do it. . .) and replaced them with bronze bushings. Stock sizes fit.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 08:58:31 EDT

Since TGN mentioned it, what sort of steel are masonry nails made of? The cut nails, by spark, just seem to be a very high carbon steel, but the striated, headed nails seem to be something else. Given the hardness, and the scale, I guess the cut nails are cut hot?

One advantage of my blacksmithing work that I've noticed as I've been working on the new forge building is that when a nail starts to bend I innately know how to adjust the hammer or where to strike to correct the problem. (As well as when it's hopeless.) Rejected nails are restraightened, on a little benchtop anvil I keep there, for further reuse. Very few bent nails (as opposed to clenched) in the structure, no matter what its other flaws.

Sunny and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 09/17/08 09:24:54 EDT

Carpenters and Nails: Bruce, most carpenters could correct an angled or bending nail at one time. . . Today however most houses are put together with nail guns and soon many carpenters will not have very high hammer skills. . .

Cut masonry nails must be heat treated. . . I know they will bend but are very tough. The hot dipped ring shank nails for treated lumber and damp locations are regular nails but there is something about the zinc that embrittles steel. Pressing the rings on the shanks probably also causes some hardening.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 10:41:12 EDT

I recently purchased a 1450 degree Tempilstik for some fire steels I am making. One thing I have found with the switch to a gas forge is it is difficult to tell the color of the steel given the brighter color of the forge, hence the need for the Tempilstik.

When I tried to use it this past weekend I found that it barely makes a mark on the steel and it is very difficult to see when it melts. I went back to the old way of judging crtitical and used a magnet.

Am I missing something about how to use the Tempilstik?

   RFG - Wednesday, 09/17/08 10:48:55 EDT

Tempil Sticks: The higher the temperature the harder they are to use.

Tempil states to put a mark on something then look for the mark to liquefy. In practice most people heat the work and when the Tempil stick can make a smooth running mark it is hot enough. Normally this is done on large work out in the open being heated with torches such as pre or post heat treatment of welds.

You might want to make a holder for part of a stick that you could reach into the forge and touch the work with it. . .

In the end this is not a tool for heat treating except in special circumstances. At heat treat temperatures a thermocouple will work quite well.

Using a forge that is a lot hotter than necessary for heat treatment is also tricky. If you want to get scientific about it you need to use a thermocouple and adjust the forge to operate at the proper temperature. The problem with most gas forges is the flames imping on the work and may heat it faster or hotter than the general forge temperature. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 12:18:35 EDT

Tempil Sticks - more: For critical applications you need three Tempil sticks. One at temperature and one each above and below the temperature. The stick below the target is to let you know you are close, the one above is for "not to exceed" applications.

Tempil sticks do not have a uniform number of steps so you have to go with what they have. While they seem pricey they are cheaper than many other temperature measurement systems and do not fail or break down. . .

For looking into that forge our #2 shade glasses are very helpful. . . You may also want to try the Didiyum glasses the Kaynes sell. Each has a different color/filter effect and visibility is slightly different.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 12:25:33 EDT

I've used blue bocker flip up clip on sunglasses on occasion. I am nearsighted though, and don't wear my glasses when doing close up work but it seems to work for me just fine when heating with the cutting torch.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 09/17/08 16:39:45 EDT


Thank you ever so much for the specific information. I was so specific as my main product is produced with 5/16 plate steel. One of my main competitors sells the name in cast stoves and we have always contended that for the primary purpose of heating a home 24/7 that steel is the better product.

In the last two years my company has come out with a cast model and we still say the same thing. But of course shoppers are getting information that steel warps and CI does not from my competitor.

No disrespect intended, but if I were to post your response in my store would you feel comfortable??? Or is there another source that you would feel more comfortable me quoting??? Thank you for your answer!!!

   - Mark Benson - Wednesday, 09/17/08 17:18:07 EDT

my bad sam i phrased that wrong just check farm auctions.
We have alot of those here is what i meant, bad punctuation on my part, but you can get a farm anvil at auctions some times
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 09/17/08 18:52:59 EDT

sam: You didn't say what type of ASO you were using.

The 110lb Russian import anvil sold through Harbor Freight retail outlets (if they still carry them) isn't that bad of a starter anvil. You will learn good hammer control (hitting the metal, not the anvil) and don't expect any resale value. Last I saw they were about $90. Hardy hole is 1 1/8", but can be shimmed down.

Is there a metal scrapyard near you which sells at retail? The one I use often has large chunks of mystery metal (probably mild steel) at $.25 pound and sometimes large chunks of stainless at $1.25 lb. On unknown scrap chunks use the steel ball test. Drop a steel ball from 10" and measure the rebound. The higher the rebound the more carbon (hardness) in the metal.

Is there a new metal seller in your area which cuts stock for machine shops. They may have end cuts from say 6" - 10" round stock. Put a stout vise with the top of the jaws at anvil top height and use it to hold hardy tools, such as hot cuts and mandrels.

As has been said numerous times on this forum, start asking just about everyone you encounter if they know of anyone who might have an old anvils for sale. Follow those leads. Still lots of them sitting in outbuildings, barns, etc.

If you are in a smaller community put a classified ad in the local paper to the effect: WANTED: Blacksmithing anvil and tools. XXX-XXXX.

A neighbor was a tool collector for over 60 years. He bought several anvils from catalog auctions using proxy bidding and paying extra to have them shipped to him. However, this is not a typical auction service.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/17/08 18:59:16 EDT

hey ken i looked at my harbor freight and online and couldnt find the anvil, i dont think their sold anymore. i would have bought that but couldnt find one so found me a forklift tine
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 09/17/08 19:11:05 EDT

never buy the 55 lbs SOFT CAST IRON hunk of waste from HF
i did the ball bearing test on it and it kinda dented the face, after i bought it....... not kidding, i would swear that thing is annealed, it is so soft
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 09/17/08 19:16:54 EDT

Wood Stove Material: Mark, Quote away. I'm, sure that in a few days we could come up with photos of cast iron parts that were warped, burned and melted.

I had a neighbor in the 1970's that had an old wood cookstove. She used it everyday of the year and heated the kitchen with it in the winter. Every couple years she would burn out the "fireback" a plate that created a space between the outside of the stove and the fire box. Many years before, her husband had gone to the foundry that had made the stoves in the 1800's and gotten a dozen cast. She had used up the supply and the foundry had modernized and even if you knew someone you couldn't get parts made. The old patterns had been scrapped. . .

SO, I made her a replacement from steel channel and bar. It worked about as long as the cast parts. But when she brought me the burned up part I REPAIRED it. I did this twice before needing to make an all new part.

The huge advantage of steel is it can be repaired and maintained for a very long time. If a cast iron part breaks you usually cannot repair it. So a replacement is necessary. As long as the maker stays in business AND supports their old product everything is fine. But when they are gone so is your supply of parts. . .

Neither material will hold up at high red heats. But steel can be repaired.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 19:24:05 EDT

Springs for hammers:

Before trying to change existing springs or make them, see if there is a spring fabricator in your area. I have had many springs made for me at Benz Spring in Seattle. I had two made that were 1/2 X 3 X 48inch with bronze bushings and I seem to remember they were like $70.00 for the two!
   - grant - Wednesday, 09/17/08 20:30:05 EDT

Oh yeah, they were straight, but you can get arc'ed or stacked or whatever.
   - grant - Wednesday, 09/17/08 20:31:41 EDT

Jacob: There are two separate parts to Harbor Freight, the on-line side and the retail store side. I've heard same family, different operations. However, I've found the HF retail outlets will honor a lower on-line or sales catalog/flier price if you bring it to their attention and they have it in stock.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/17/08 23:16:38 EDT

Thanks for the reply. As it happens I will be going to Ballard Spring in Worcester ,Ma. to have them add extra leafs to my new truck (as a smith I tend to overload my truck , I have broken two sets of springs on my old truck), so while there I may just buy some new spring stock and avoid the possibility of a spring failure due to unseen cracks or fractures in the springs I have scrounged.
   Harley - Thursday, 09/18/08 03:38:01 EDT

Good Morning Gurus

I wrote a while back about having used hydrochloric acid to remove plaster and lime scale on some steel doors in my house. The doors are thermo-lacquered (baked on paint).

Really bad decision on our part -- the acid got behind the panels and has eaten away at the steel door frame and the backs of the panels (we just cut out a panel on one of the doors and we can see the damage).

What is the best way now to remove the rust and "fix" the steel so that we definitively stop the corrosion process?

Thanks a million


   charles shick - Thursday, 09/18/08 03:49:14 EDT

Hollow Door Problem: Charles, Neutralizing the acid is a key task. The problem is that it sounds like there are joints in the door assembly and places that were not painted/coated. In any case acid may have gotten inside. It may be a bad design and there is no fixing it. In things with hollows (such as auto bodies and some doors) the steel is pretreated with phosphate and a light zinc coating before fabrication. Acids can remove this thin coating and the rust process starts again. Some hollow items are dipped in a tank and rotated to coat the insides. But this is an expensive messy process that is rarely used today.

Neutralizing an acid is done using a weak alkali. A baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) solution is commonly used. This kills the acid and may create a little salt which is also an electrolyte that promotes rust. So you neutralize then rinse well with clear water. Cleaning with soap and water is recommended as part of the process.

Acid is also used to remove rust. . . But mechanical means such as grit (sand) blasting can be used. This will also remove the powder coating (the baked on plastic).

Phosphoric acid is also used to remove or convert rust. . . but there are problems with the process and unkilled acid.

So, you kill the acid, mechanically remove the rust, then immediately repaint without getting oil or salts from your hands on the clean surface. This includes the inside of the part.

After cleaning (in rust protection cleanliness IS Godliness) my preferred long lasting paint process is to start with cold galvanizing (pure zinc powder paint), seal with a primer then a top coat suitable for the location. Multi-part assemblies need to be disassembled and at least the zinc applied prior to reassembly.

On hollow items I'll spray the interior with the zinc paint IF its accessible OR thin the paint and pour some in and roll the item to coat the interior. You do the best you can do.

I am not a fan of powder coating. It is environmentally friendly, inexpensive and makes a hard surface. But it is more sensitive to the starting condition than paint and once the surface is broken anywhere can harbor moisture which supports corrosion and thus large areas of flaking. It is also difficult and expensive to repair.

In the end, to do the job right it may cost more than the doors did in the first place unless they are VERY nice doors.

Hollows are a serious rust problem and some manufacturers do not treat the problem well enough. On automobiles the majority of the rust outs come from the back side. It is either from uncoated areas or places where sand and silt have been deposited, stay moist and rust through. Restorers strip and completely disassemble old automobiles, clean (usually sand blast), prime, reassemble the body parts, then paint. It is usually better than the factory provided but by this time the car is usually worth a great deal more than when new. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:00:24 EDT


Thanks for the replies about the Tempilstiks.

What might I expect to pay for a decent, useable thermocouple? Brand name suggestions? (So I can search for them online).

I'm going to play an order for a couple pairs of the safety glasses in you store.

Thanks again.
   RFG - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:47:22 EDT

That should be "place" an order
   RFG - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:47:52 EDT

hey ken they stoped selling the russian ones about 2 years ago, i bought one of the china forge 110s there and ive but giant dents into it. so im trying to get a new way better one and am using an old iron weight as a finishing anvil and my ASO as an heavy work anvil till i get enough money to get a new and find one to get.
   sam - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:49:14 EDT

and dose anyone know of any auction websites besides the obvious ones.
   sam - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:51:59 EDT


Thanks for your help. I will let you know if I need pictures.

   - Mark Benson - Thursday, 09/18/08 12:20:01 EDT

hello gurus,

so many thanks for your response. to work we go with all that you have suggested ...

humbly & thanfully yours

   charles shick - Thursday, 09/18/08 14:35:05 EDT

hey i needed to know the carbon content of a couple of differnt metals there 1018 d2 a2 an 4340 thanks
   denny - Thursday, 09/18/08 18:02:12 EDT


In the four digit series, that last two digits express carbon content in hundreths of one percent, so 1018 is 18/100 of one percent, also written 0.18%. The 4340 has 0.40% carbon. 4340 is also a nickel-chromium-molybdenum alloy steel. D2 has typically C 1.50%; Cr 12.00%; Mo 1.00%; and V 1.00%. A2 has typically C 1.00%; Cr 5.00%; and Mo 1.00%.

If you order these steels for forging, you should request the forging and heat treatment specs, as they vary from one steel to another.
   Frank Turleyf - Thursday, 09/18/08 18:38:58 EDT

Denny, The Two SAE/AISI steels (1018 and 4340) have the carbon percentage in their name. 1018 = 0.18% C, 4340 = 0.40% C. The D2 and A2 are tool steels that are easy enough to look up.

The carbon is not the only thing that effects hardness. Manganese in the alloy tool steels increase their hardenability so that they more nearly through harden and the A2 is air quench it hardens so easily. So you have to look at the whole, not just the carbon.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/18/08 18:41:59 EDT

hello gurus,

thanks again ... and one more question ...

we're heading into winter here so can this wait until spring, or is the rust continuing?


   charles shick - Thursday, 09/18/08 23:30:58 EDT

I'm making a metal flower that will also have water coming out of the center. A few people have suggested using auto-motive primer, paint and clear coating so it will last and keep the colors. Any other ideas about getting green, yellow, and brown colors to keep that have water on them for hours each day? Thanks, David
   - David - Friday, 09/19/08 00:55:39 EDT

Sam: Take a look at eBay auction #350100023956. 1836 WILLIAM FOSTER with the heel broken off. My guess it originally went about 130 lbs. Since it is damaged it should sell cheaply. You can use your ASO for a hardy tool holder.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 09/19/08 07:05:20 EDT

Fountains: David, Most of these are made of copper or copper alloys (brass, bronze) that turns green on its own or can had a patina applied chemically.

Clear coats are generally not water impervious and corrosion will go on under them. The are often applied over copper which corrodes slowly to hold the color and give some gloss.

But an iron or steel fountain is going to have very serious corrosion issues unless it it 100% stainless steel. Even then you have to be careful about what comes in contact with the stainless and how as well as finishing. Stainless will turn the same black as steel when heated and forged. Often this finish holds up very well to weather but it can become rust stained. It is a gamble especially in a fountain.

The other thing you must be careful about in a fountain is bimetalic corrosion. Even copper and solder have a reaction. Most mixed metal fountains are copper/brass or copper assembled by brazing. That is as far as you want to go. Screw a steel fitting into a bronze fountain and the fitting will fail in a year and the rust will stain the fountain. . . Use copper or brass plumbing parts on a steel water tank and the threads will often fail in a couple years.

If you want a brightly painted fountain start with copper and brass. Then etch it to create and even "tooth" so paint will stick uniformly. The primer coat must be one designed for copper. Usually the self etching primers for aluminium and zinc will work but you MUST ask your paint supplier.

Your primer must be compatible with the top coats. If you are going to use automotive lacquers then the primer must be a lacquer. If you are going to enamels you can apply them over enamel OR lacquer primer. For this project I would use lacquers. For small highlights and varied colors you can use the small touch up cans over whatever your majority base coat it IF its lacquer. On this kind of project I would avoid the water based lacquers. You may also clear coat over the top coats and it is recommended especially if you use light thin glazes or air-brush type work.

When picking colors don't avoid the metallics. Many people do not think of using them on iron work but they can look great as well as being using in combination with non-metalics to give some areas a little "metallic sheen". You can get VERY creative using paints on metalwork. Sadly very smiths few do.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 08:49:54 EDT

Well gents, I've decided to stop making excuses and go for the gusto; I'll be driving over to Quadstate from Colorado Springs. That being said, does anyone have any advice or recommendations as to what I should bring/expect?
   MacFly - Friday, 09/19/08 08:55:34 EDT

Winter Rust: It depends on your climate. In very cold dry locations where the cold is consistent and stays below freezing rust slows or almost stops. But in areas where you have cold, then mild and then cold then mild this is the WORST time for rust. Condensation is the primary agent in rusting not rain. So when it gets cold at night and then you have a damp foggy day that fog or moisture in the air condenses on every thing that hasn't warmed as quickly as the air. This is often metallic things.

In a house door the problem is usually the difference between indoors and outdoors. It can be cold and dry outside but warm and moist inside OR the opposite during the summer with air conditioning. The barrier between these two is where condensation wants to occur. Generally metal doors have insulation in them to reduce the temperature differential but the edges can be where the problem is. On some standard steel doors they have a wood rim and the steel from each side is slightly separated from the other. On fire rated doors the steel covers the wood. . .

The big problem is that steel parts will often go for decades without a rusting problem with minimal protection, then in other cases, especially once corrosion starts it tends to accelerate and can be a constant battle.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 09:12:06 EDT

Going to SOFA: For starters the weather there can be like the joke, a cold rainy hot sunny day. It can be in the 90's or in the 40's. If cold it is usually wet. But even in good weather thunder storms are common and very likely this year. But you never know. . so come prepared for lousy weather.

Get there early. Now some folks have pushed this a bit and were getting there on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning for a show that starts Friday. . . The officials have been unhappy about this in the past and you MIGHT be turned away. Most of us are getting there Thursday night. They DO have other events that often go on there at the same time.

We are registered at the Holiday Inn. Its not cheap and there seemed to be plenty of rooms available. Motel row on the Interstate is right across from the Wall Mart so if you forget something its convenient. Camping is what they call "primitive" (no hook ups) but is where all the fun is. Parties often go late into the night. The official policy is no alcohol. . . ;)

Plan on hauling stuff home if you are in the acquisition stage. I am no longer, but ALWAYS buy something. . . Its too far to go and the deals often too good to pass up the opportunity. Bring money or something to trade.

They have meals on the grounds but they are often a long wait, easy to miss and not very good (sorry folks). But there are lots of restaurants in town fairly close by.

While it is not a huge three ring circus like the ABANA event had gotten to be, there is still more going on than you can see all of. There are usually three demo areas, classes, unofficial demos and acres of tools! I have yet to sit through a full demo. . . the tools, the tools CALL to me. . buy us, buy me, take us home and love us . . .
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 09:37:39 EDT

a couple Paley candlesticks on ebay will be fun to watch.

   - jamie - Friday, 09/19/08 09:45:05 EDT

I'm getting more excited by the day! It'd be much easier to fly, but I don't think I could fit all the stuff I know I'm going to buy there in a suitcase... Anyone happen to know what the overweight luggage charge for an anvil is ;P? Plus my truck will also serve for billeting while I'm there. (More money for tools!) Has anyone heard if the after-effects of Ivan might affect the drive? The rumor-mill here is that power is still out in parts of Indiana and Ohio...
   MacFly - Friday, 09/19/08 10:16:13 EDT

A friend carried a VERY heavy bag with tools and (chain) maile in it that was maybe 75 pounds. . . Cost $25 extra. But that was before 9/11 (a while ago). Another friend tried to bring home several French hammers in his carry-on from Flagstaff in 2000. The airline didn't like the look of them and had him check them. I've known various blacksmiths that demonstrate that hand carried their kit of tongs, hammers, punches and such. But this was before 9/11.

I took all the plumbing parts and kaowool for a gas forge to Costa Rica in my checked luggage one year and 20 pounds of Borax on another without a problem. But I was SURE I was going to get called to security on the forge burner parts.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 11:03:04 EDT

Jamie, long URL's break our page. On ebay items the item number is sufficient.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 11:06:04 EDT

I fly with tools all the time.
Just flew to Minnesota and back a week and a half ago with two big bags, including a rotohammer, an inverter welder, and a lot of hand tools.

The current rules are just slightly looser than just after 9/11, but they still wont allow virtually any tools in carry on.
I have gotten crochet hooks on lately- but thats about it- 1/4" diameter aluminum wont get em grouchy- but no way could you carry a hammer, or a screwdriver, or a pair of visegrips in your carry on these days.
Checked luggage, most tools are fine. Obviously, no aerosols or gasoline, no explosive charges for your hammer in concrete anchors.
I did have TSA come and talk to me in the airport in March, when I had checked both a small inverter welder and a small transformer style electropolisher, along with lots of extension cords and welding leads- they just checked me out, and told me next time, let em know what I was checking. I guess they thought all the electronics and large copper windings were suspicious.
Pretty much every airline is now charging you $25 for your FIRST piece of checked luggage, then usually $50 for the second. Most will charge you more if any individual bag is over 50lbs. I carefully pack and weigh my tool bags to weigh just under 50lbs, and hopefully less on the rebound, as there are usually anchor bolts and hardware I leave behind, installed, but its still not uncommon for it to cost an extra hundred or so to fly with a lot of tools.
Of course, compared to the cost and time of renting unfamiliar equipment on site, its still much cheaper to pay, and take my own.
Most airlines will set you up with air cargo if you really showed up at the counter with an anvil- and charge you a bunch more. I guess you could buy it a seat, like many musicians do for their instruments.
   - Ries - Friday, 09/19/08 11:25:42 EDT

I'd love to see the look on their faces as I struggled down that skinny little aisle toting a 200+lb anvil... "does this count as my hand-carry, or one personal item?" But I figure the drive back will give us time to bond and get to know each other; build a good working relationship, ya know?
   MacFly - Friday, 09/19/08 12:07:31 EDT

Power outage in Indiana,
I don't know about ohio, but the power is MOSTLY back on in Southern Indiana. Not however at my house. Out since Sunday, with the promise of 2 to 6 more days. I am thinking I may have to go to SOFA to get a hot shower (:
   ptree - Friday, 09/19/08 13:02:11 EDT

Hi, I'm just starting to learn blacksmithing and have been at it about 2 hours a day for the last 4 months or so. I've built a forge (modeled after Tim Lively's design, slightly modified as I added some home-made refractory bricks to the top to both cut down on fuel consumption and provide more heat--sort of like an oven) with great success and am using lump charcoal for fuel (again, with great success). My current anvil is a 9" section of railroad track, turned upside down, raised about 2" and set into a 5 gallon bucket of cement (moderate success--worked great for the first 2-3 hours, until the cement developed some small cracks introducing a horrific ring. gonna work on either using fiberglass reinforced cement, or just a good 3-4 inches of fiberglass mixed in with epoxy for the top part of the bucket--I'll let you know how it works).

My main question is this (and there's too much info on anvilfire to sift through--I've spent hours looking and my eyeballs hurt now!): What is a good, commercially available material to use for tongs? I've made a couple, following the designs I found here, but have been using that hot rolled garbage from home depot (couldn't pass up the 3' lengths for $2) and it's just not tough enough to stand up to normal use as it's a little soft (I've tried hardening it and it's still pretty bad).

Any suggestions would be great.
chris from Sacramento
   Chris F. - Friday, 09/19/08 14:11:28 EDT

i was wondering if i would be able to use a weed burner to run a gas forge one of the teachers did it with a kiln at my school so i thought it might work
   Dent - Friday, 09/19/08 15:10:55 EDT

Tong Steel Chris, Mild steel works fine. They used to make them out of wrought iron. You just have to be sure not to make places near the jaws to thin. Tong reins should gradually taper from nearly as big as the joint is tall to as small as 5/16" (9mm). A gentle taper makes for nice springy reins that are easy on the hands as well as gripping tightly. If you can bend the tongs then they are too light.

On the other hand, I make tongs for 1/4" (6mm) work that can easily be bent. But you should not have to squeeze THAT hard to hold something that small.

Try starting with at least 5/8" square or 3/8" x 1" flat to make tongs.

   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 16:00:47 EDT

RR-rail anvils: Chris, See our anvil making articles particularly the RR rail anvils.

I just had a fellow from Belgium send me photos of a RR-rail anvil on a wood stand almost exactly as shown in our iForge demo and anvil making article. He inlet (carved to fit) a deep socket into a wood stump to hold his modified RR-rail anvil. He put a leg vise on the same stump and the whole is his portable outfit. We will get the photos posted in the near future.

Concrete just IS NOT an anvil nor anvil support material unless the anvil is very massive. Try to find a piece of log. If you cannot then you can build a "log" from construction grade lumber. Just cut, glue and nail. See our iForge anvil stands article as wel as the RR-raila nvils article.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 16:17:19 EDT

Weed Burner Forge: Dent, it works but uses an awful lot of gas. See our FAQ's page and the Gas Forge articles.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 16:21:32 EDT

Flying with Tools: Several years ago we talked about having a CSI conference at VIcopper's in the Virgin Islands ;) Rich said "bring coal".

WELL. . . ever since then I have wanted someone with cartoonist skills (I can draw but cartoons are a specialty) to draw me a cartoon of a line of big guys wearing Carharts at the airport trying to go through the metal detector while carrying a bag of coal under one arm, an anvil under the other and hammers and tongs in their back pockets. The security guards would look a little like Barney Fife going nuts and scratching their heads. . . . Visual sounds effects would indicate that the metal detector was over loaded !!!!

This was before 9/11 but the gag is still a good one. . .
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 16:37:06 EDT

MacFly: If you are flying in you will arrive at the Dayton Int'l Airport. Q-S will not have any type of bus service from airport to motels to site or reverse. You are on your own. If you plan to acquire much tooling you really need to drive.

To make trip cost, and if blacksmithing anvils (or tooling) are in short supply in your area), you might buy a couple for resale. (One Q-S I came home in a Ford Ranger with an anvil in the passenger compartment floor area and another in the passenger seat area.)

My observations is one year anvils are plentiful and reasonable and postvises are scarce and expensive. Next year reverse.

There are hot showers and restroom facilities on site. Food is a mobile truck or on Saturday evening a bit expensive catered meal. Fairgrounds has a kitchen/dining room area there but I don't know if it will be open. No campfires allowed unless in a raised pan - no evidence left behind. (One evening years ago I saw a couple of folks cooking hotdogs over a forge in the U-Forge area.)

Friday use to be a 'dead' evening, but SOF&A has been moving towards making it the opening ceremonies and then some type of demostration.

As noted, unofficial booze rule is to keep it discrete, within control and out-of-sight. A couple of folks do come to Q-Ss to 'party'.

SOF&A has been a group of really laid-back folks, but more and more and more tend to be more on following the rules.

As noted above, the Miami County Fairgrounds is located just outside Troy, OH which has numerous fast food places and various motels. Also some motels at one or two interstate exchanges going towards Dayton.

SOF&A has a permanent building there and then rents some of the fairgrounds buildings and camping/parking areas for the event.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 09/19/08 17:46:49 EDT

   sam - Friday, 09/19/08 18:49:01 EDT

Thanks for the tong material advice--I'll try that out this weekend.

As for the concrete issue as an anvil support--the track is upside down--so the "face" of my anvil is approximately 9" X 6"--the actual track part proved to be too difficult for me to work on as it was curved and only about 2-3" wide. I've also got it raised up about 2" (used a couple of 2x4's to level/support it when I poured the cement, so I could actually bend something on it and use the edges for operations that require some side clearance. And just to be a pest, I'm still going to give the fiberglass idea a go--I'm an aircraft mechanic by trade and have access to carbon fiber, as well as kevlar--just don't know how well that stuff would hold up as a "support" for my track). In the near future I'm going to track down some 6x6x12" stock, mill a 1" groove in the end, bolt on a plate (to make a hardy hole) and then go with the wood base idea.
   Chris F. - Friday, 09/19/08 19:49:56 EDT

Chris, As a mechanic you should know that it is the mass that is important. When hammering on the flange of a beam there is no mass under the hammer. The steel deflects and whatever is under it takes the force. Take your piece of rail, set it on end and hit the end and feel the difference.

The fiber reinforced plastic will hold up better than the concrete but it is not a lot better support other than it will not crumble. It will just deflect under the steel.

   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 20:24:35 EDT

Sorry bout the long url. Set of two Albert Paley candlesticks, 1992. ebay item # 370087034078


   - jamie - Saturday, 09/20/08 09:55:21 EDT

My husband has come across an old anvil and has had me researching the markings on it. I need help, please! I have made out that the markings 1 2 11 are the weight and how to figure it. I came up with 179 pounds. That's 112 + 28 + 28 + 11. Is that correct? The writing is hard to make out, but I have gotten 4 rows on the side clean enough to read as follows:
I think this is a Mousehole anvil made by Mr. Dudley in Wales or Sheffield, England. I found some information about his works. I also found a page that showed the WO symbol (and then lost where I found it) as Old 1962 = Monmouthshire and New 1974 - 2001 + Casdiff (the capitol of Wales).
This anvil has the classic Mousehole design, as compared to all of the photos that I have located online thus far, but there are some details that I don't know.
1. On the bottom there is a hole that is split corner to corner with a divider, making two triangular shaped holes out of the almost square hole. The hole appears to be about 1 1/4" across, and looks to be a square shaped.
2. On the horned end running all the way through to the other end of the anvil, is a rectangular hole that is around 5/8 x 7/8" or either 5/8 x 1", I can't really tell, we are still trying to clean it up.
3. The two top holes, opposite of the horned end, I understand what the 3/4" square one is for, but not the small round one that is off-set of the square one.
With this description, can you help us identify the age, origin, and history of this anvil? Also what tools were used in these hole and where could I find them nowadays.
It has the two-step horn end, the smooth sides out to the feel (no church house windows), and on the ends, there is no writing and only that rectangular hole. The ends are smooth designed down to what I call the base ridge that is about an inch straight up from the bottom before it begins it's sland inward. The sides posess the same character.
Also, what is the best method of cleaning it without damaging the writings?
Thank you so much for being available to total novices such as myself, and giving of your valuable time. May our Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you for your kindness.
   Deanna - Saturday, 09/20/08 11:56:11 EDT


Mousehole Forge was located in Sheffield, England. Your markings indicate an anvil from Dudley.

Can you put anvil on side with the logo up. Dust with flour, bush off, leaving reside in indentations and then take a photograph of results. You send to me as an attachment (not in body text please) and I'll see what you might have.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 09/20/08 12:19:41 EDT

Odd Anvil: Deanna, Some of your description does make make sense or it is an odd anvil. It helps to NOT know what you are reading on the side of the anvil and not let your mind make things up. The was a series of owners at Mouse Hole Forge but ALL Mouse Hole anvils were made at the same place. Many had terms like "warranted", and "solid wrought" stamped on them. Forge owners vary from none to C&A to M&H Armitage. The anvils varied very little with some minor changes over the years. However, they DID make different styles including Sawyers, Double Horn and Cutlers.

Mousehole anvil photo

Mousehole anvil photo
Two Mousehole anvils
   - guru - Saturday, 09/20/08 13:57:33 EDT

Can steam generate enough heat to expand a 43 degree cylinder ring to 45 degrees?
   Carlos - Saturday, 09/20/08 16:56:05 EDT

Expansion of Rings: Carlos, when a ring shape is evenly heated the gap grows larger but the measured angle remains the same, the part is just bigger. If you spot heated a point opposite the gap on the inside of the ring it would open the gap until the heat penetrated the ring. When shrinking ring gears onto automobile flywheels they are only heated to about 325°F. While not very hot, it is well below norm steam. Of course you COULD have superheated steam. . .

I'm not exactly clear on your geometry or purpose. But the above may help.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/20/08 21:56:18 EDT

Could someone tell me a good supplier of small quantities of L6?
   Jesse - Saturday, 09/20/08 22:36:10 EDT

admiral steel has an L6 alternative called 8670M
   - jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 09/20/08 23:09:24 EDT

some saw blades are made from L6 like wood bandsaw blades
they talk abit about it here
   - jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 09/20/08 23:17:28 EDT

Large wood cutting and non-edged band saw blades are the primary source for many bladesmiths. Once you find a ssource it becomes pretty plentiful if the saw is used a lot.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/21/08 09:49:52 EDT

Sorry for all the confusion about my RR anvil--my reasoning for it's construction was that it was all I had at the time (also got it free from a coworker) and I just wanted to get started hammering stuff. I'm well aware that it does have considerable flex and not a lot of mass under the work. I originally didn't want to mount it the way I did, but then thought, "this will sort of work for now, and if it doesn't, I'll have a pretty inexpensive work surface for hot cutting and small work that I really won't care if it gets dents, dings, cuts, etc."

As soon as I can, I'm going to get either a chunk of mystery metal from a scrapyard, or a tractor counter-weight, or just spring for a chunk of A36 and then mount it on wood (I saw the staggered 2x12 on the anvil stand page and really like that design).

Thanks again.
   Chris F. - Sunday, 09/21/08 10:12:41 EDT

Can Pure iron be bought anywhere in resonable quantities for 1 man preferbly small quantities, i was gonna try to make some wrought iron by melting the iron and putting a little peice of mild steel in it and experiment to get it to match desrciptions
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/21/08 20:28:15 EDT

is this guy using briquettes?
if he is what kind?
oh and thanks i finally have kept up with my responsibilities and my dad is letting me make a forge and getting the tools, as far as info yall have been excellent help thanks
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/21/08 20:32:54 EDT

oh and for a ways in the future, as a hobbiest bladesmith how should i sell what i make? fleamarket? internet?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/21/08 20:46:05 EDT

Yeah he's using briquettes, doesn't really matter what kind since they're all made from glued together saw dust and bits of coal. Don't use them for forging, use for cooking. They burn at low heat, create smoke and have a tendency to break up into dust that just pours down into air vents. I also suggest you don't use the video as an example, he is hammering down heavy stock on a non stable platform that doesn't look to be the right height for him.
But don't go on just what I say since I use a kneel at forge.

I'm sure one of the other guys can tell you how easy it is to gain life long injuries/ conditions from improper hammering.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 09/21/08 21:30:42 EDT

Marketing your work: If you sell at flea markets you will get flea market prices (old used, much less than NEW, junk prices). Yeah, they sell new stuff there. . . Special made in China junk for fleamarketers. . a lot the same as found on ebay. Same for craft shows held in parking lots.

A blacksmith is an artist craftsperson that makes things that he or she should be compensated for at a rate that they can support themselves. Generally this means you cannot sell to your friends or acquaintances because you are selling ART that is sold to people with disposable income. IE, folks a lot richer than you (in almost every case).

Folks that buy ironwork have a second house or several vacation homes each for a different season. Folks that buy ironwork don't have mortgages they OWN mortgages of others or rent to others what they own. Folks that buy ironwork can afford to buy a new car every two or three years. They are the "effete" snobs you like to make fun of. They have money and like to spend it on PRETTY things.

When marketing your ironwork think Rodeo Drive, the theater district, all those tony places that you probably feel uncomfortable in. Those are the places your customers shop.

And while you are at it. THINK about the finish you put on your work for these folks. If the Valley girl picks it up and gets a smudge of black wax on her fingers or feels oil not only do you lose a sale but the place handling your work will dump it in the alley out back and call you tomorrow to pick it up. . .

Folks that sell ironwork advertise in Good Housekeeping, Modern Bride, Old House Journal. .

You want to sell through a crafts boutique or art gallery, not a "craft shop" that sells ceramics. When you price your work remember it is the LIST price that you will give and expect to take half on commission or 40% on wholesale. . .

Generally if a shop wants to do a "commission" deal with you that means they don't like your work, its not good enough, OR they are the wrong place. This is a generalism that is not always true but it often is. If you DO make a commission deal remember that it is up to you to drop by once a month and take inventory to make sure your work has not walked off.

Class garden shops are a good place to sell SOME items but not others. I know a fellow that made thousands of plant stands at $2.50 each over materials. . He made good money because he made them by the thousands AND he did not have to do the selling. . . His customer was the seller.

Selling on the Internet is a completely different animal. You can put a web site on the net but without proper advertising it is no more than a grain of sand on the information highway. Build a crappy little site on your own and post it through a free hosting system and you are less than a mote of dust in the marketing universe.

An internet site starts with two things. Beautiful product and even more beautiful photos of that product. Remember that your tony customers read the classiest magazines and expect your catalog to be of equal quality. I fight this battle constantly with clients that I do web work for. The FIRST thing I need is great art. And not just great art of their work but in a manner than can be used create logos, icons, page decoration, sell the product. .

So you have to have a nice site. THEN it must meet a lot of technical standards in order to get well listed in the search engines (your best free advertising). You must also have a way to sell over the web. If you are selling large projects and major art then that is not an issue. Payment will be by check or as specified in a contract. But if you are selling trinkets then you need a way to take payments on-line or by phone. A paypal account works but is expensive. A CardService account is cheaper in the long run but expensive and complicated to setup in the beginning. OR you can wait for checks by mail. . .

As soon as you go on the Internet you are an International business. You will need to think about shipping to Dubai, Australia or any one of over 100 countries. You will also need to know about international Internet marketing scams. NEVER EVER reply to a request from Nigeria. . (or a number of other countries). By the way, folks in those places are on the web selling some of the same you might be.

You will need to advertise in those magazines I spoke of. Pay for search engine advertising and links on hot sites.

One advantage to the Internet is the large market. The disadvantage is the supply side (your competition) is also very large. It is also cheaper than a print catalog but many of your clients are going to want a print catalog. . . You CAN make a lot of sales without ever speaking to a customer BUT you will still get phone calls from people that still do not trust buying on the net.

By the way. . most of this, an on-line hosting account, an ebay account, advertising. . . all require a credit or debit card to handle on-line.

It is ALL business. Something that takes many of us a lifetime to figure out and others go to school for OR are born into it.

But you CAN take your hooks that took 20 minutes each to make and sell them for $2 each at the fleamarket. . Those same hooks if well made and well finished will sell for $25 each at a tony Georgetown art gallery. You get less than half but it is six times more than you will get at the fleamarket.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/21/08 22:57:31 EDT

Best darn marketing add I have ever read!!
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 09/21/08 23:16:39 EDT

The Crafts Circuit: There ARE high class craft shows where buyers from galleries and major chains look for products. Finding these shows is a difficult R&D task and then they are often hard to get into. Again, you will need professional product photos of your work. Some require slides, most have gone to digitals. Some artists do only a couple of these shows a year and are set for orders until the next year. These are expensive to do but if you have a good product they are work while. Your big initial expense is a booth / display or the lining for a booth. For the hundreds of dollars you pay all you get is an empty space. Do not plan on the promised tables or chairs. There are rarely enough to go around. Doing these is like moving a small shop's display area. Like photos, you display needs to suit the class of client you expect to sell to.

THEN there are the edutainment crafts shows. These are often held in public places and historical sites. Working these can be a losing proposition. If you demonstrate at these you need to be PAID well to do so. A working blacksmith is often a big draw and they will advertise you but not your product. IF you demonstrate and want to make sales then you need a someone to make sales. It is impossible to do both well at the same time. I worked these for years and rarely made immediate expenses. You can do it but you must REALLY hustle, do lots of shows, have lots of inventory. . . This is problematic as iron is heavy.

The last few of these I worked where I was paid it included a fee, a motel room, a stipend for meals and no commission on sales. Even then it was more like a working vacation than a paid gig.

RENFAIRS are a different type of edutainment crafts show. The permanent ones near major metropolitan areas are often money makers but they have limited spaces and you may have to wait until the current smith dies or retires to get in. . . Demonstration rules apply.

Traveling and local Renfairs are a gamble. The folks working them travel constantly. The last few I went to the majority of the vendors were selling imported junk. That included the "smith" who was selling Mexican Ironwork. They claimed to make it all but I could see the difference.

THEN there are the parking lot "craft shows". Don't do them. You are just part of a side show with nothing but looky-loos and a lot of generally poor quality work. The quality of the work of all the vendors reflects on everyone including you. There is a reason for juried craft shows.

Arts and Crafts shows are a method of marketing but they take a lot of research and marketing savvy. Shows also have ups and downs. The show that has been a hit for the past five years may change dates, hire a new organizer or cut back on advertising and become a huge (and expensive for you) dud. Beware of replacement organizer/promoters. Do your research.
   - guru - Monday, 09/22/08 09:01:33 EDT

Product Photos: This has been a problem with artists and craftsfolk alike for decades and it is one of the very FEW marketing tools that is taught in art schools. At least making slides.

If you want to know what YOUR product photos should look like pick up any glossy magazine and look at adds for anything expensive. Watches, jewelery, perfume . . even tools. Hand made ironwork IS expensive work and you must market it that way.

Product photos should be taken at a natural angle (the way you see the thing in life), with a standard or low angle lens (never wide angle), in good light and should not be cropped or cut off.

A photo is a composition, even if only ONE item exists in the frame. How it is positioned, the angle of view, the lighting all come into play. Many people do not understand composition nor do they SEE what is in the view finder. If you are one of these then hire a professional to take your photos.

Unless the object is in situ or installed it should have a plain while background with either a natural or drop shadow. Note that some juried exhibitions require un-retouched photos. This means setting up and doing it right in the camera.

Why a white background? Because most pages both print and web where objects float on the page as white. The are white because it is clean, simple and it works. There are exceptions but they are also expensive.

In situ may be as installed or on the work bench. For the absolute best in situ photos published for over three decades see the Garrett Wade tool catalog. Tools are carefully posed on beautiful hardwood work benches with pieces of exotic wood and just enough chips look in use. They are then lighted and photographed by top professionals. EVER photo in their catalog is a work of art.

When taking photos of installed work you have to LOOK. Is that a bright orange plastic child's toy in the backgound? Are there people in the photos? Has the work gotten dirty, rusted. . ? How is the lighting? Too bright, Too overcast? Is this a bad season (fall but not quite winter)? to photograph outdoor installed work may take numerous trips and a lot of time. Indoor MAY be easier. However, will the house be clean? Will there be art or furniture that detracts from the photo? Is there light? Did you include having photos taken in a residence in you contract? Indoor photos are often best taken by a professional.

Really Bad: I've been sent and have seen some really AWFUL product photos. You name it, I've seen it. Dirty poorly finished work. Extreme unnatural perspective. Wrinkled backgrounds, foot printed backgrounds, stained backgrounds, shop clutter backgrounds. . . Flash glare. In an in situ photo there was dirty dishes piled in a sink and dirty laundry in another. In an about the artist photo taken in a park there was phallic graffiti in the backgound. . . You have to OPEN your eyes and you mind and SEE what is in your photos.

In this digital age there is a LOT you can fix in a photo. You can fix bad lighting to a degree. Too dark or worse, flash glare cannot be fixed. Backgrounds can be cut out but it can be expensive painstaking work. You can add drop shadows and adjust perspective. But it is difficult to repair missing sections or clean off trash. I've done it all from replacing missing corners of an item, adding or removing labels, to giving a model a digital tummy tuck. It is time consuming and expensive.

AND. . unless you spend a lot of time "Photoshopping" images the results are often lacking. BUT if you are good out at it you can make something from nothing or a silk purse out of a sow's ear as the saying goes.

SO, if you are going to market your work in print, on a web site or even by email, you need good images. If your livelihood depends on these images it pays to hire a professional. Yes, they charge as much as $1000/hr or day. SO. . have more than one piece to photograph. One really good catalog shot will cost you as much as a dozen.

Do it right and your business will have a chance. Do it poorly and it reflects on you as an artist and the quality of your work.
   - guru - Monday, 09/22/08 11:52:48 EDT

One place to show and/or sell goods not mentioned here is car shows. Not that I have ever done any, but the few that I have gone to and shown (my Pinto) at I notice a lot of artist booths. Mostly rockabilly car art and horror stuff, the last show I did I saw some nice junkyard art, not as nice as MY stuff, but it was there. Same problems with booth rental, tents, tables etc. Then you have to man the booth... no strolling around to look at the nice shiny automobiles except for the occasional beer run. Once again, price factors come in... people treat you like a flea market table.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 09/22/08 12:03:46 EDT

Working a show is not the same as going to a show. . .

Motorcycle customizers occasionally use twisted and forge ironwork on bikes. The guy in my home town that was the closest thing to a blacksmith was the Harley Davidson dealer. He did some pretty standard ironwork but it was impressive when polished and chrome plated!
   - guru - Monday, 09/22/08 13:12:34 EDT

Marketing your work.
Also make sure your work is worth selling. Don't expect someone else to pay for your education. There was a reason that apprentices usually had to pay the first couple years before their work was good enough to make the shop money rather than cost it.
   JimG - Monday, 09/22/08 14:00:30 EDT

Niche Marketing is another way to go. Find something nobody (or few) sell or make. Then make the best thingamajig possible and hammer the market. A key to niche marketing is to make your money before someone else thinks you have a good thing going OR are poorly serving your market.

Research is critical in niche marketing. If you overlook a well entrenched supplier you are wasting your effort. If there is no need for your product or you can't convince people they really MUST have it then you will fail.

But if you find that "pet rock" or weed eater. . . $$$$$
   - guru - Monday, 09/22/08 15:09:56 EDT

Jacob-- Try the libe, too, and avail yourself of inter-library loan. There are scads of how-to books advising artisans about running a crafts business, written by craftspersons who've been so successful, apparently, that they can sit back and expound. Two such, and good ones, too, are You Can Make Money from Your Arts and Crafts: The Arts and Crafts Marketing Book (Be You Own Boss) (ISBN: 0937769045) by
Steve Long and Cindy Long and Making a Living in Crafts by Donald A. Clark.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 09/22/08 16:06:21 EDT

Within the past year or so I've seen maybe a dozen blacksmiths try to sell their work on eBay. Typically fairly simply items such as hooks and Civil War reenactment items. They may last a listing cycle or two, then aren't seen again.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 09/23/08 01:49:19 EDT

Just a few comments on selling our works.

"Art": One of the best moves I made at science fiction and gaming conventions was switching from the "Huckster Room" (anything that sells: your stuff, kitsch, old books...) to the art room. In the first you paid a fee and manned the table and relied on volume. In the later you get an "art" membership at a discount and they watch your stuff, and you rely on quality over quantity. Of course, you have to really work at things that would appeal to your market. One year I tried to follow a vision of "art objects of unearthly beauty" at a science fiction convention. Alas, all of the buyers were from earth, and I broke less than even. (On the other claw; I went there also to hang out with family and friends, so I was not too worried.) These days I aim for "medievalish" items that appeal to young folks with romantic notions in their heads and lots of cash in their pockets. Last year a couple of casual toss-off projects were very popular; so we'll see how they do this year.

Barter: I like it when my hobbies support themselves, so "will blacksmith for historically accurate clothing" is a constant alternative for me. I've been discussing things with an incipient Hussite War group, and they can use a lot of ironwork. Cash is nice, but a good wool hand-stitched tunic or hand sewn leather boots are really useful for my other activities, and may be worth even more than a straight cash transaction when you add up the talent and hours. Even after the exchange is made, a well-made implement or weapon is an ongoing advertisement so other reenactors (or folks who just want a really nasty looking spiky flail to show off on their walls) are referred back to you, and may result in cash sales too.

Flea Markets: Not only should you not sell at them, your shouldn't even be near one if you do look for an outlet. As they say- "location, location, location." People get real weird if they find something cheaper just down the road or a few blocks over.

Sunny and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 09/23/08 07:47:58 EDT

Flea markets: great places to find tools cheap, bad places to sell work reasonably.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/23/08 07:55:47 EDT

Selling your work: If you pile your creations up in the corner, it's a hobby. If you try to sell them, it is a business. I forge to relax and enjoy a hobby. I don't want a business.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/23/08 08:35:08 EDT

Generally if you know enough people it is easy enough to get rid of "excess" work. Often another smith that does crafts shows will gladly take your stuff at wholesale.

Selling new items on ebay is something for people selling popular or brand names items to people looking for a bargain. . . The only advantage to selling something that does not sell well on ebay is IF your item at least gets traffic and you put a web URL on the image (a sneaky way around ebay's rules) you may get a lot of traffic to your web site. In that case you look at listing fees as advertising.

The down side to selling "decorative" items on ebay is that many are classed as jewelery or art items that crooks look at as good resale items and you will be targeted for various cons (any way to get you to ship without paying or by taking a bad check). See ALL the schemes and fraud warnings about selling on ebay.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 10:39:25 EDT

I've got some 0-1 tool steel blades I've made but screwed up the temper. Now I have 2 crooked 0-1 blades that are a nice blue color=low 50'sHRC. I've been told I would need to anneal these again before attempting a re-heattreat. I need advice on how to proceed from here. Thanks
   - Dennis B. - Tuesday, 09/23/08 11:35:45 EDT

I have 4 0-1 tool steel blades I have made that I apparently screwed up the temper. 2 are now crooked- (one I tried to straighten is now in 2 pieces:()
I re-tempered and got a nice blue color (low 50'sHRC) still crooked. I've been told I need to re-anneal before I re-Heattreat. Is this true, or can I simply "normalize"? How do I proceed from here? thanks for any advice available.
   Dennis B. - Tuesday, 09/23/08 11:41:11 EDT

Actually, its not that hard to find the good shows to sell your work- the best are sponsored by two organisations-
The Rosen Group, in Philadelphia at www.americancraft.com
The American Craft Council at www.craftcouncil.org

Pretty much every serious craftsperson in america, in any medium, tries to show at one, or both of these organisations shows. These shows, particularly the Philadelphia Rosen Show, and the Baltimore ACC show, are where the actual sales take place.

I spent over ten years doing wholesale shows, and I would not consider any other shows but those two. I would usually write an entire years orders at the February ACC show in Baltimore.

All the major craft galleries in the country, and many foreign ones, attend these shows.
They are both hard to get into, and expensive.
The ACC show is now $1100 for the smallest booth. Add to this the cost of renting booth fixtures- since I flew in, I would always rent pipe and drape booth curtains, a rug, and sometimes tables or chairs, plus I would have to pay for an electrical drop.
Then, I would ship by UPS my own folding display tables, track lighting, and all my samples. I would fly in, stay in a hotel, and the ACC Baltimore show takes 1 week, including setup and teardown. I figure a minimum cost of $2500 to do it.
However, this is where the big dogs are, both in terms of buying and selling, and, if you are serious about wholesaling and making a living at making products, this is the place to go. There were usually about 1100 booths, and of those, probably a dozen full on blacksmiths, and another couple dozen metalworkers who do some forging, mixed with plasma cutting, mig welding, and even casting. Of those dozen smiths, there would be some traditional work, but mostly more modern stuff. Jack Brubaker, for example, did very well there with his hand forged, powdercoated lilly candlesticks- which retail for between $80 and $150 each. Larger furniture pieces did sell, but the real money is in small, UPS shippable items that cost between $25 and $500 wholesale. As the guru mentioned, you must be professional about every aspect of your work- making it is just the beginning. But there are a couple of dozen shops around the country, most with 2 to 5 employees, who do these shows, and sell ironwork. It certainly can be done.

I juried the ACC crafts fairs one year, and we looked at 10,000 slides of prospective entrants, over 3 days. And this doesnt count the perhaps 60% or so who are grandfathered in, by signing multiyear contracts. 5 slides each, 2000 artists applying. It is very difficult to jury, and no doubt good work gets rejected every year, but if you are persistant, and do interesting stuff, you can get in.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 09/23/08 12:51:35 EDT

i want to make a steak branding iron for one of my friends and i was wondering how to keep it rusting - also, do i need to temper the metal since it will be heated repeatedly through its use and then air cooled? let me know what you think! thanks a lot!
   susan - Tuesday, 09/23/08 13:49:31 EDT

Susan, Unless you make the iron out of stainless its going to rust. There is no coating that will withstand the heat. So it is stainless or maintenance instructions (clean and oil after using).
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 14:06:37 EDT

Heat Treating Blades and Warping: Dennis, You have left a lot out.

First, you need complete heat treating instructions AND be sure they are followed. Tempering O1 to the low 50's HRc requires 800°F. Blue gives you the high 50's.

The fact that the blade broke means it was probably too hard for its thickness OR the steel was treated poorly (soaked at a high heat too long) and had large crystal growth. OR it was not tempered as well as it should be. O1 is air hardening in thin sections.

Annealing requires temperature control or some tricks to achieve that maximum of 40°F per hour cooling rate.

Second, warping come from a variety or combination of things. How the material was forged or shaped, the shape itself, how it was heated, how it was quenched. . .

Everything must be done gently with tool steels. Heating slowly to at least 1200°F prior to heating to forging temperature. Not forging too hot OR too cold. Even heating often turning the part. Quenching is often done on end or on edge depending on the blade length and never on the side or at an angle. Many bladesmiths quench just the edge to avoid brittleness. Tempering is done with care and it does not hurt to repeat to assure tempering all.

Frank Turley's favorite statement about dealing with tool steels is. "Tool steel laughs at you.". Then it laughs some more.

It pays to practice on pieces that you do not have a lot of time and effort in. Then when things break it is not a big loss.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 14:34:32 EDT

Dennis B. A little more.

Ernst Schwarzkopf says that if a heat treatment mistake is made, you must anneal, harden, and temper all over again.

01 won't normalize. I will harden in air, but will then be unstable. In a small shop with wood ashes or lime, you can get a reasonable anneal, although it may not be exactly to specs. Take it to 1400-1450ºF for annealing. Blades should have a little thickness to the cutting edge before the oil quench @1450-1500ºF, maybe 1/32" to 1/16" depending on the blade size. That helps to prevent warping. A careful, uniform heat is necessary. The final sharpening is done after tempering. Many 01 tools are not tempered beyond 500ºF, which is about a copper tempering color.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/23/08 14:57:55 EDT

Note to those going to Quad-State. Due to another even going on at the same time SOF&A will have a checkpoint in the driveway. You must be registered to enter the Q-S area so you need to keep your badge at hand when coming and going.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 09/23/08 16:32:56 EDT

could wrought iron be made by melting iron and then putting a little peice of steel in it? And where is Pure Iron Sold? I asked the Question ealier, but i asked too many questions so i think it was overlooked, thanks endlessly for marketing info
   - Jacob Lockhart - Tuesday, 09/23/08 21:54:45 EDT

Ebay for sales: I'm one of those Ken mentioned that does Ebay, but I do it on a fairly constant basis. Blacksmithing is for me is both theraputic and gives me pocket $$$ to persue the craft. I don't make a lot on my wares but I sell stuff thast's mostly "artsy", plant hangers and stuff that are Art Nouveau, I aim for an opening bid that works out to approximately $10.00 per hour over cost. Occasionally there's a good pop (once when I was doing reenacting, I sold a dozen teepee lamp hangers to a gal for $57.00 apiece when the opening bid was $15.00). It's a garage sale mentality on Ebay and if you're trying to do more than have fun and make pocket change, don't do it. I get occasional custom orders, but to date, I don't think they've paid for my internet access cost.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 09/23/08 22:00:10 EDT

re: Wrought iron - no Jacob, wrought iron cannot be made by melting iron and then putting a piece of steel in it. Wrought iron consists of iron with silica slag worked into it. Traditionally it was made in a bloomery furnace in a mostly solid state process where iron ore was reduced and the resulting bloom was forge welded multiple times to consolidate it and force some of the slag out and the balance into long stringers. In the late 1800's and into the 1950's in the Pittsburgh area the process was highly refined and molten iron was with slag added used to make wrought iron by if memory serves, A.M. Byers Co. (If I'm wrong someone will correct me:)

As to where to buy pure iron, I don't know. If you want fairly pure iron produced by traditional processes, look for Armco Iron - much being made in Brazil now, be prepared to buy a large piece of slab and have to process it to a size you can use. If you want very pure iron for chemical reactions do a search for electrolytic iron - it comes in "flakes" or as a powder and would require extensive work to get in a form a blacksmith would use.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 09/23/08 22:49:48 EDT

Wagner is now distributing "pure iron".
They have square, round, and flat bar. It aint cheap, and it comes in pretty large sections (3/4" round and square, I think) but its pure iron, and it works very nicely. They will sell it in 2' , 4', and 6' lengths.
then click on pure iron in the product list.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 09/23/08 23:03:32 EDT

Wrought Iron: Gavainh, That is correct. The Beyers process started with "pure" iron made by the blast furnace process but the oxygen was blown through until ALL the carbon was burned out rather than leaving some in. Then a special molten slag mixture was poured into a bull crucible holding the molten iron. It was said to react violently with the iron thus self mixing and creating a bloom like consistency. The iron was then pressed similar to consolidating a bloom to make an ingot and then it was processed like mild steel (rolling, slitting. . ).

I have the Beyers booklet somewhere and should reproduce it. . . IT was heavy on the benefits of wrought that are in fact not as beneficial as they claimed. I believe much of the hype about wrought's superiority over mild steel came from Beyers and has been repeated over and over.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 23:51:02 EDT

One of my long-ago students said, "Silica Slag? She was that ugly fifth grader that I went to school with!"
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/24/08 07:19:47 EDT

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