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 24 - 31, 2008 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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


It's my first time here and I have no experience in blacksmith and I want to learn how to make swords,however, I have a few questions about it. What is the difficulty level to make a sword on a scale from 1 to 10 and I was wondering if you could give steel color. In example give it it a vibrant red color a sheer blue or an onyx black. Thank you in adavance.
   Andres - Wednesday, 09/24/08 10:34:12 EDT

Andres: Hot forging anything is probably the equivalent of a BA degree. Making a knife blade is probably the equivalent of a MA degree. Making a sword is probably the equivalent of several PhD degrees. You are wanting to compete in the Olympics when your are haven't even apparently learned to crawl as far as blacksmithing/swordsmithing is concerned.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/24/08 10:37:30 EDT

Pure Iron:

Also bear in mind that Wagner's pure iron is NOT wrought iron, and bears no more resemblance to wrought iron than to play-dough. It's pure iron. No slag.

Wrought iron is not pure iron, it always has some carbon, manganese, phosphorus, and sulfur in it, among other stuff; and did I mention the silica stringers? It's best to think of it as a composite material rather than as a homogenous modern metal.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 09/24/08 10:40:48 EDT

On eBay. There are literally millions of sellers on there. The more common your item, the more competition you will have.

At one time I bought from a wholesaler. One item was 25' retractable dog leashes. When I first offered them on eBay I was the only seller of them and did well. Within about six months it was difficult to sell them to even get my money out of them.

Thus, it is likely best if you are the ONLY seller of a particular item, but expect competition if your item(s) are selling.

Even then how you word your title is EXTREMELY important. Most people seem to search on title only, not title and description. Some folks do put a lot of keywords in their description, but too many and eBay will cancel the listing for keyword slamming.

If you are going to try to make a go of it, having an eBay store is the way to go. Something like $15 month, but a listing with one photo is only about $.05 a month - and here eBay raised their commissions on sales. I use one to three bidding auctions a week to try to drive potential buyers to my store.

Personally, I do well on eBay, but about last May my sales did a nosedive due, in all likelihood, the overall economy as most of my items are 'discretionary' spending.

It just isn't a good time to go into the eBay market.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/24/08 10:47:11 EDT

Please help...I am at my witts end. I am trying to find a blacksmith in Michigan who would refinsh a 100 year old cast iron bell. Would you know of anyone who can help me???

   Sherri - Wednesday, 09/24/08 11:18:11 EDT

Ebay in general has taken a hard hit. If you read all the member chatter it has to do with ebay policy and their inability or unwillingness to control the fraud that goes on. There is a LOT of criminal activity on ebay and the word has spread. They have also hurt their general sales by raising fees and giving certain sellers preferential treatment over others.

It has a lot less to do with the general economy than problems at ebay that have been building up for a long time as well as some problems they created. While Ken mentions keyword stuffing Ebay does the same on Google with thousands of paid searches that lead you to ebay to items that no longer exist. . .

We sell a few items on ebay and have had OK sales. Could it be better? Maybe.

If you do sell on ebay the rules I gave on product photos apply. If the photo is classy, looks like the product is bright/shiny/new/beautiful. . . Then you will get better prices than if it looks like a pile of stuff at a flea market.

Ad Copy is something else I forgot to comment on. How to write an ad to sell something, its description and hook to buy, is an art. Like photos you can also pay a professional to do ad copy. It makes a difference.

Ad copy for the Internet is different than for print and it takes an SEO specialist to craft and adjust copy for the search engines. When we first put keyword based ads on our webring pages ALL the ads were for jewelery stores selling rings. . . We had to change titles and reduce the use of the word "ring" as much as possible. Some low traffic ring pages still pop-up with ads for wedding bands. . .

I write ad copy for a lot of my clients but I generally dislike doing it. I can write well about some things but others can be difficult. While I write a lot I am not a copy writer. However, I generally do it better than my clients and I DO understand SEO so they pay me for what I do. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 11:46:59 EDT

Sherri, That bell needs to be cleaned and painted. The original finish was paint IF it was finished at all. Have the rust sandblasted off, prime it and paint it any color you like. Many paint shops can do the whole job.

If you need replacement parts THEN you may need a blacksmith.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 11:49:34 EDT

Swords on a 1 to 10: Andres, Try a 15. But it depends on your expectations. See our Swordmaking FAQ.

Steel can be colored by various methods but only a few, the blacks, blue blacks and brown (oiled rust) are very durable.

Titanium takes some wonderful colors but is not a blade material.

Aluminum is commonly anodized and stained with a wide variety of colors including gold, peacock blues, reds and even black. The metallic luminosity of the aluminum shows through and is probably what you are looking for. Again, this is not a blade material.

However, these "non blade" materials can make some wonderful wall hangers, show or stage pieces. But if you want your sword to glow green when Orks are near you need otherworld magic.

   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 12:06:24 EDT


My name is James Bradford, I am the Building Official for the City of Dowagiac, MI

I have an artist whom has ask permission to set up a forge and bellows, either gas fired or coal fired in one of our downtown buildings. All buildings are connected, the building is of ordinary construction, wood floors and roof, masonary walls, with shared party walls.

Our current code requires that all solid fuel (coal fired) or gas appliances have a listing, either Ul or other recongized agency.

The artists says that he can find no forges with a listing. My question, is there such a thing as a listed forge?

My concern with an unlisted appliance, is the fire danger to the downtown, the installation etc. Can you provide any information to me to use for inspections etc.


James Bradford
Building Official
   James Bradford - Wednesday, 09/24/08 14:20:08 EDT

Approvals and Permits: James, This is one of those areas that if you follow the rules you cannot get there from here.

There is only one gas forge that I know of that has a UL listing and it is a huge commercial forge (Johnson) that they put into schools back when they had industrial arts departments. They are designed for permanent installations and are gas hogs.

None of the small portable forges have any agency inspections or certs. Most coal forges came before the UL and modern forge manufacturers do not go to the trouble either.

In the case of both devices the safety is determined mostly by the operator. The greatest fire hazard is sparks from the hot iron being forged and pieces of hot iron being dropped. But if you allow cooking of anything in your buildings then the hazard of a grease fire is the serious issue.

The ONLY way to get a smith into your situation is to have the powers that be give a waver for temporary artistic or historic reenactment purposes.

The only option for the smith is a $4,000 electric induction forge. No fire or open flame . . until a piece of steel is heated white hot. But I believe the forges are approved devices.

In the end any forge is like a welding torch. You may find one with some gas association approval on it but how you use it determines the hazard. Fire is fire.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 16:55:26 EDT

Dear Guru,
Thank you so much for your help, althought that raised so many more. As a result I will try to make it as clear and simple as possible. I have always been at awe towards swords and armor and I want to learn the art of kendo or swordplay, fencing where I live. But I want to make my own sword annd armor to make as one of my accomplishments and dream completions. So I was wondering if you could tell me some books on the subject of bladesmithing and armormaking and places were I can take on an apprenticeship. Also I don't want my blade to glow, but I want it to have color, but that i can use in Kendo training. Thank you for any help or advice you can offer.
   Andres - Wednesday, 09/24/08 17:18:39 EDT

UL-listed equipment-- www.wardburner.com/technicalinfo/ and Ransome Manufacturing of Fresno, California, which makes venturism burners, etc., might be of help with rated furnaces, forges, etc.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 09/24/08 17:32:20 EDT

James- I had a similar discourse with an insurance inspector a few years ago. Most of the commercially made gas forges have hoses and regulators that are UL listed, and some have UL listed flameout sensors, but really they are too few and far between to even have been thought of by UL or the folks that write the codes. The venting and chimneys can be made out of UL listed materials (such as for wood stoves) and installed per whatever building code you use. Forges themselves are by their very nature made out of materials that do not burn, and siting and set-up (distance to combustibles) of the forge is as important as anything to fire prevention. The insurance inspector had me use the most stringent wood stove installation code he could find as a minimum.

The wood floor could be an issue, your blacksmith may need to build up some layers of fireproof flooring.

I worry MUCH more about a mouse chewing on wiring insulation inside the wall and starting a fire than I do my gas forge that I can almost put my hand on when running or my coal forge that the fire goes out in very quickly when I stop cranking the blower handle.
   Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 09/24/08 17:41:53 EDT

James, I am an industrial safety and enviro guy with years of large industrial forge experience, in large cities. The rules for us tended to follow Factory Mutual rules more than city fire code as far as the equipment was concerned. Fire code for extinguishers and exit ways Yes! Equipment was left to the fire insurance guys.
FM was pretty tight on things like rated regulators, and controls. The surfaces we had for flooring were concrete or packed earth/cinders. The buildings were steel and masonary so not too much concern there. In industry we were more regulated on storage of flammable and combustable materials in the hot work zones.

I have never seen a forge fire. I have seen many fires from hot iron dropped on things like hydraulic hoses, pallets and electrical equipment that melted the wire insulation inside the conduit in seconds.

I would approach the issue from "is the forge vented with an "all fuels" rated flue". Especially if a solid fuel forge is used. I would insure that the all fuels flue is installed per MFG requirements, and is sized for the job. I would look to wiring and other combustable items in the near work zone say 10 to 15' from the forge. I would prohibit flammables storage per propane rules, which would require a FM/UL listed flammable storage cabinet for paint and so forth or no storage in the hot work room. I would require a carbon Monoxide detector, and fire extinguishers per the code.

A forge really is no more dangerous than an auto repair shop, a kitchen with a deep fryer, and anything where painting is performed. If a smoke detector is needed to meet code, a model that both senses heat rise and smoke obscuration rather than a fast response ionazation model will reduce false trips, yet provide protection

I hope this helps.
   ptree - Wednesday, 09/24/08 18:17:35 EDT

Im really started to get frustrated with my forge. i first make it then i need to replace the firepot (breakdrum). then i have to replace the fan so i decied to build something with more control so i build a bellows. then i snap the back end of that. so i decide to repair my fan and atach a reostat so i can control my air. now that only gets me a little puff or enough air it sends flameing coals 5' into the air. what do i do? im tired of beating around the bush with all these stinking problems. can someone please help me.
   Sam - Wednesday, 09/24/08 18:59:31 EDT

Guru, I forged my Ork Cleaver from Unobtanium in the Fires of Spifnak. It glows green and vibrates in the presence of an Ork. Or maybe it was just gas from my burrito at lunch....
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 09/24/08 19:31:38 EDT

Quench, Have you been doubling up on the back med's? :)
Everybody knows an Ork Cleaver is properly made from laminated unobtanium and double-unobtanium quenched in hydrogen dioxide laced with sodium chloride after heating in a forge fired with that special fuel the Brit's call "Meethane".
   ptree - Wednesday, 09/24/08 20:19:11 EDT

Forge Problems: Sam, Maybe you are not cut out to be a maker of things. . . Some folks are makers, some are not.

A good bellows is a wonderful tool but a bad bellows is a frustrating waste of time. There is very little difference physically but those differences are important.

Electrical devices are designed to work with specific devices and in given ranges. An engineer could take a day or more to calculate if a motor and a control would work together smoothly but an experienced DIYer will test a couple pieces of junk and have an answer in a few minutes.

There are brake drums and there are brake drums. One fellow on YouTube picks up a small disk brake rotor and says "this is a brake drum". He then shows how to assemble part sbut you never see it work. . . Then there are heavy truck brake drums that are like using a 5 gallon bucket. . . You have to know your parts or follow proven instructions.

That said, there are artist craftfolk that are lousy mechanics and have little mechanical talent. What do they do? They BUY tools and machines. They learn to use them to make a narrow range of work.

Those that can't make buy.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 20:30:02 EDT

Is their any basic intro. sites that I could suggest to elementary age students whom are interested in"what all does a blacksmith make? and d?
   R. Howard - Wednesday, 09/24/08 20:52:01 EDT

i belive i am a maker of things, fore i am a very experianced and talented chainmail artist, i am skilled at minor wood working, and i can do some great sheat mechanics. the blower said on the specs that it was a 120, volt AC blower for a standerized gas heater. i hooked it up to the reostat following all the proticals. it works amazingly but it pumps a little more air than i thought it would, because, when it was hooked up to just a cord it did a good job. what i wanted to know is how do i control the air flow. this wasent a person who wanted some kicks and gigles from making a spike of knife. im serious about what i am doing. this was an inqurey from one hands on person to another. the reason my bellows did not work was because i used to thin of wood for what it was pumping, belive it or not it did work for a few hours until the stress became to great for it to handle. if every project you did came out 100% perfect on the first try than congradulations but for people who have to try a few times to get it right and have VERY few resources and have to ask a few people, hey what do i do, we call that learning, and thats what i plan to do.
   sam - Wednesday, 09/24/08 21:23:29 EDT

Sam, Maybe you have the wrong rheostat for your fan. A very small sum of money would buy you a dimmer switch for an electric light. That is what works for me. I have to put a rheostat into my portable forge soon so I plan to experiment with the controller for an overhead fan. I thought that might be capable of handling more power although I shan't have the degree of control I have with the dimmer switch- the ceiling fans have about 5 speeds which are preset. I thought that might beeasier when teaching students- i.e. use blast 1 when lighting, use 5 when forge welding etc.
So just try another switch- salvaged out of something- until you get it right!
   philip in china - Wednesday, 09/24/08 21:36:02 EDT

Controlling air flow: The rhreostat will work if it is rated for the size motor and its a motor control, not a light dimmer (unless the motor is VERY small). However, they tend to creep and wear out, stop working at the optimum speed. . . . Big motors take BIG controls. Voltage is only half the rating. You need Amps drawn or HP (total KW), type of winding (shaded pole not capacitor start).

A simple gate of butterfly valve is best. Hook it to a lever that has some friction and it will hold an even blast. I like enough blast to lift the fire if necessary. SOme people use both a stat and a valve. The reason is blowers tend to be noisy and slowing them down quiets them.

I've used all three methods.

Not every project comes out as expected but if you have a sense of what should work a darn high percentage do. I was building and using machinery when I was 10. . . Built a rope making machine with 5/16" round, furring strips and a hacksaw. Later I motorized it using a motor out of an old adding machine and hand cut wood friction wheels. Made hundreds of feet of rope up to over 1". The limitation was how much tension you could anchor and control. NO, I didn't have help. My father looked at it and shook his head. . .

I've been building machinery ever since. Wish I had time to just do nothing but work in the shop. . . . Could probably make more money making a couple one off machines each year by hand than doing this. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 22:38:25 EDT


Good for you for keeping at it and not giving up. If you are dead set on electrical control, I would suggest that you try using a "Router speed control", avaiable from Harbor Freight Tools for about ten bucks on sale. It will control a universal (AC/DC) motor up to about two horsepower fairly well. However, my first suggestion would be to run the motor full out and damp the input air with a simple moveable gate. Even a piece of cardboard will do fine on the input side. The reason for damping the input rather than the output is that the motor will possibly overheat if the output of the blower is restricted, as it is then trying to compress the air. When the input is restricted, the motor is turning a blower that is effectively running in a vacuum and therefore very little load.

I hope this helps, and don't give up on doing things yourself. I have built many, many tools over hte years and a goodly number of them took more than just one or two tries to get it right. Perseverance pays off, and remember one very important thing:

Nothing succeeds quite like failure, for it gives you the opportunity to observe and analyze why things didn't work and thereby learn. Success teaches you little, but only serves to confirm your existing superstitions.
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/25/08 03:08:41 EDT

I have been building from Junk or stuff since I was a kid as well. I would offer the following;

I have never built ANYTHING I could not have made better right after I was finished.

My father, also a builder told me, "Son when you build machines, you are going to make mistakes. Always strive to make new and original mistakes"

From the above what you should gather is that mistakes happen. Think about them and then alter, modify, change etc and don't make that mistake again.

Remember that learning from mistakes is tuff, since first you take the test,then you learn the lesson.

Lat but not least, when building things that do not have to fly float or race, if an inch is good, two inches is better. IE overbuild.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/25/08 08:17:39 EDT

thank you all very much i will try ALL these things until one works.
   Sam - Thursday, 09/25/08 08:18:40 EDT

The man who never made a mistake never made anything.
   philip in china - Thursday, 09/25/08 09:25:53 EDT

ptree, you must be thinking of Dihydrogen Monoxide. This is a chemical with some serious potential for harm. Go to this site: www.dhmo.org/facts.html
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 09/25/08 12:36:13 EDT

I'm very much new to forging so when a guy I know said he had a 24 inch rivet forge with a 7 inch Buffalo blower that worked, I bought it. What I'd like to know is whether there is a flat piece of metal that keeps the air from coming out of the tuyere bottom hole. Right now, it's completely open so air goes both up into the fire and down towards the ground.
   John - Thursday, 09/25/08 14:28:44 EDT

hope i'm not goin over old ground, but, i gota make a propane forge on account of i detest parting with money and i cant use coke at home cos we have nieghbours,(close) I have seen weldin done in a a gas forge but also have heard that not all gas forges get hot enough. in the distant past ive seen plans for such a forge but forgot where.can anyone help?
   - grimme - Thursday, 09/25/08 15:09:53 EDT


Yes, you should fab some kind of closure, of sheet metal or plate, either hinged or with a sliding pivot. The lower opening is a clean-out that is used only occasionally.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/25/08 15:20:44 EDT

Well, I just made a nifty dagger from tension bar spring from the wrecked Pinto. I quenched it in Trioxin-9, made the blade hard as diamonds but unfortunately reanimated the corpses in the graveyard across the creek.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 09/25/08 15:33:33 EDT

I hate to be redundant, but the recent pages have not been archived, and one of my sisters engineering friends at the Department of Energy is looking for a good brand of steel toed work boots in womens sizes for some site work she has to do. I'm checking at the NPS, too, but any reccomendations from blacksmiths are good recommendations indeed.


Gotta run!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 09/25/08 15:36:06 EDT

Red Wings are great boots if they will get used a lot.
   John Christiansen - Thursday, 09/25/08 21:44:35 EDT

i made my first #5 long spring trap. i took leaf spring and hammerd it out to be 3\16ths thick. it wasent so bad i pounded it out with 100 pound murry. i was wondering it i could purchuse spring steel in flat sock? jake
   - Jake G - Thursday, 09/25/08 21:48:15 EDT

Ditto re: Red Wings. I'd spring for the ones with the metatarsal armor, too, while she's at it. Most drops seem to strike there rather than toes.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 09/25/08 23:04:54 EDT

Thanks for the info. I thought I was working too hard.
   John - Friday, 09/26/08 09:09:51 EDT

Forgive me if I did not use this the right way. I am in need of information of the art of making swords for a project at school. I am quite serious on this and would appreciate it if one of you would be so bold as to agree to be a source of information. Your name will be kept anonymous if you so choose, but this is one obstacle that will prevent me from graduating.
   Alisha Jaite - Friday, 09/26/08 09:27:30 EDT

John- To expand on what Frank said, your old forge originally would have had a flap of metal over the bottom hole. Look closely for mounting holes or slots, etc. Some folks call this the "ash dump" or something similar. Once it's capped empty every time before starting a fire and every so often during use depending on how hard you are working the forge. Be aware that during use red hot coal ash and burning bits will fall out so catch in a metal bucket.

Jake G- Look up at the top of this page. Between the HOME and Getting Started in Smithing is the Store. Follow that link to the Online Metals Store. More kinds of steel than you can shake a stick at.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 09/26/08 12:06:25 EDT

Alisha, See our Amoury page.
   - guru - Friday, 09/26/08 13:24:13 EDT

Alisha. There is a general policy that we do not help with homework. However, there is information on this site if you go to NAVIGATE ANVILFIRE menu and click on FAQs, 'Sword Making'. Also, you might go ARMOURY and the article, 'Swords of Iron; Swords of Steel'.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/26/08 13:29:15 EDT

Hi, I went out and checked this morning and there was a bolt and nut for a swinging flap. A canning jar lid worked fine. Thanks for the help!
   John - Friday, 09/26/08 15:06:30 EDT

Alisha-- Try Interlibrary loan at your local library for Jim Hrisoulas's books re: swordsmithing, blade-making. They are available at used book sites online such as ABE Books, also. PBS has a show re: the art of the Japanese sword, which is a whole subject unto itself. No pain no gain.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 09/26/08 15:31:11 EDT


Just because no one's said it, I'll point out that "spring steel" isn't really a particular alloy. Car springs are often supposed to be 5160 (or is that just coil springs?), but any medium-to-high carbon steel properly heat treated can be used as a spring. In fact even mild steel can be used -- and it's every bit as springy. You just can't flex it as far before it bends permanently.
   Mike BR - Friday, 09/26/08 19:39:09 EDT

John, I leave the ash dump flap open as I am starting my fire. The little bit of draught caused seems tomake the kindling start easier.
   philip in china - Friday, 09/26/08 19:50:30 EDT

Hey, thanks for the info philip in china.
   John - Friday, 09/26/08 20:32:13 EDT

Hey Alisha email me at jlockhartthesmith@gmail.com i could help i got lotsa books and stuff you could get good info from and ive done research too.
   - Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 09/26/08 23:28:43 EDT

you could help me just as much because i have done alot of research, but dont have much experience...
   - Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 09/26/08 23:30:12 EDT

grimme, a blacksmith named David Robertson has a website called artistblacksmith.com and hes got a e-book and a buyable dvd that shows how to make a good gas forge and ill give you his email if you want to ask him about its welding capabilities
   Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 09/26/08 23:49:10 EDT

Ash dump flap. Who woulda' thought we would keep talking about this? If you're using smithing coal and you've been working, and then you must absent yourself from the fire for a while, you can do three things to keep the fire going. 1) Leave open the ash dump flap. If it's a kicking type, prop it open with your fire rake. 2) Bank the fire with at least one inch of green coal. 3) drive a stick of wood vertically into the center of the fire, something about 1"D by 6" long or longer.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/26/08 23:49:18 EDT

Alisha-- by coincidence, KNME-TV the Albuquerque, NM PBS station, is broadcasting Secrets of the Samurai Sword tonight at 8 and tomorrow at 10 a.m. Maybe the PBS station in your area is, too. If not, call the station and suggest they do. Also, search www.pbs.org for the show and see if there is a video recording of it for sale, as there often is with PBS shows. It will give you more than enough info for a school report on sword-making.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/27/08 13:20:09 EDT

Guru: I am making a sun flower water fountain and I am forging sun flower leaves out of 1/2" cold rolled steel, with a 6" plate for the center. I was planning on using 3/8" copper tubing as the stem with water going up the stem and out the twenty holes in the center plate, like a shower head. I realized that there is a problem with the steel center and copper stem. How can I join them together for a water tight fitting and not have the two metals react to each other? thanks, David
   David - Saturday, 09/27/08 15:55:29 EDT

Forgive me if I sound ungrateful, but . . . I only need an interview, even if it's just answering questions I ask. They will not accept the ideas suggested. I already used the forums for some of my information and the page for one of my sources. I just need to be pointed in the right direction for someone willing to do an interview, all the credit will be given to him/her if I use it in my research paper.
   Alisha Jaite - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:17:52 EDT

My name is David Brown,
I am studying artist blacksmithing at Flemming College in On. Canada. Does anyone have the recipie for the "Magic Quench" That improves the tooling qualities of mild steel?
   Dave Brown - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:23:40 EDT

A stainless steel question for Ries or another Guru: our Welding Dept. is putting together some SS flowers for the school trustees, and there is discoloration from the hot forming, TIG welds and OA brazing. What would you suggest to clean and passivate the finished product? We have a reasonable budget, and can get about anything from welding suppliers or other sources.
   John McPherson - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:28:44 EDT


They make die-0electric plumbing unions for joining copper and galvanized. Maybe you could work one into your design. I guess concealing it would be the trick.

I was thinking that maybe you could install an oversize union *inside* the flower head, then pass the 3/8" copper tube back through the inside of the fitting (not touching the sides). But assembling the union inside the flower head would be impossible. Unless it was possible to build the union before before you (carefully) welded the front and back of the head together.

That sounds like an awfully heavy flower head to support on a piece of 3/8 copper tubing. Or is there another support of some kind?
   Mike BR - Saturday, 09/27/08 20:49:06 EDT

Alisha-- Thomas Powers-- see the gurus list at the top of this page-- is off at a big blacksmithing whoopdido in Troy, Ohio this weekend, will be back soon afterward. He, a swordsmith who apprenticed under a swordsmith, would be your man, or know of another. Query him directly here and he will see it.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/27/08 21:49:55 EDT

a day or 2 ago i asked about making wroght iron and was given a great answer, i asked would pure iron smelted with a little peice of steel in it be wrought iron. i was told no, you said their was silica slag that had to be present to make wrought iron, what all is in that slag besides silica, and where can the stuff to make that slag be bought? i want to try to make wrought iron
   Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 09/27/08 22:05:59 EDT

Jacob-- making wrought iron is a big job, requiring iron ore, lotsa fuel and a blast furnace. You need to start with some reading. Try Non-technical Chats About Iron and Steel from www.lindsaybks.com for openers. There are scads of others. Check your local libe.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 09/28/08 00:25:59 EDT

Mike BR: Thanks for the ideas. I've taken two 6" circle plates and curved each one, welded them together and welded the leaves to the center circle. It looks like a sun flower. The tubing is strong enough, but I was thinking about threading the hole at the bottom of the center circle and then sweating copper threads to the 3/8" tubing to join the steel plate. I guess I must look for a union that is designed to go to another metal other than copper. I just need a way to keep these two metals joined under water pressure. I 'm not sure if I explained this well enough for others to understand? David
   David - Sunday, 09/28/08 01:33:00 EDT

We are looking to build a coal forge that will accommodate 20" - 30" heats. I have some ideas but I am looking for precedent. Can anyone direct me to plans or a verbal description? thank you
   Red Star Ironworks - Sunday, 09/28/08 07:20:43 EDT


Sound like you need something unobtrusive that you can mount from outside the flower head. You could probably get away with welding a short piece of, say, 7/16" or 1/2" ID steel tubing to the flower, inserting your copper tube into that, and filling the annular space between with epoxy.

I made an outdoor light fixture with a steel tube head swaged down and silver (hard) soldered onto a copper tube stem. It's been in use a couple of years with no sign of corrosion so far. But it doesn't have water running through it.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 09/28/08 08:11:48 EDT

Jacob you just missed an iron smelt this weekend at Quadstate. Darrell Markewitz who was doing the smelt has a LOT of information on his web site www.warehamforge.ca . He has a DVD available and sometimes runs courses at his shop in Wareham Ontario. There are also links to other peoples web sites who have done iron smelts.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:11:32 EDT

When I read that the finish on the blacksmithed items was powder coating, my first reaction was 'why would they ruin them with powder coating'. A few days later, I realized that the modular chairs that I've sat on each Sunday for the past 4 years were the same powder coated finish. So much for my highly trained skills of observation. Thanks again.....Keith
   - Keith - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:39:33 EDT

When I read that the finish on the blacksmithed items was poser coating, my thought was 'why did they ruin them with powder coating. A few days later I realized that the modular chairs that I've sat on each sunday for the past 4 years were the exact same finish. So much for my finely tuned skills of observation, thanks again, Keith
   - Keith - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:42:14 EDT

When I read that the finish on the blacksmithed items was poser coating, my thought was 'why did they ruin them with powder coating. A few days later I realized that the modular chairs that I've sat on each sunday for the past 4 years were the exact same finish. So much for my finely tuned skills of observation, thanks again, Keith
   - Keith - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:43:15 EDT

When I read that the finish on the blacksmithed items was powder coating, my thought was 'why did they ruin them with powder coating. A few days later I realized that the modular chairs that I've sat on each sunday for the past 4 years were the exact same finish. So much for my finely tuned skills of observation, thanks again, Keith
   - Keith - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:44:04 EDT

Dave Brown, I have the recipe somewhere, but you can find it in the New Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews. Superquench is to make mild steel a bit harder than normally quenched. Do NOT use it on high carbon and tool steels.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 09/28/08 12:15:41 EDT

Red Star, seems to me we had a discussion once on a long forge. The general consenus was an air pipe w/ holes, in the bottom of a trough shape for a coal forge. I don't remember the specific's though. Check in the archives.
   Thumper - Sunday, 09/28/08 13:37:56 EDT

i want to make a pair of fire-side tongs ,the centre of the metal flattened to form the spring leaving the the ends to be bent together to make the tongs . will mild steel be ok or do i need tool steel for them to keep their spring over long use ?
   dave - Sunday, 09/28/08 14:50:11 EDT

Trench forge- Jim Hirsoulas has simple drawings of one in his Complete Bladesmith.

Superquench- This is from memory, but IIRC 5 gal. water, 5 lbs. table salt, 16 ounces of liquid dish soap, 6-8 ounces of Simple Green or Shaklee Basic cleaners, half a small container of Jet Dry. It will not make mild steel chisels into incredible edge tools, but does ok at making things like bottom swedges hold up a little longer than if untreated. With today's mystery recycled carbon content even in A36 it can cause thinner sections to become brittle and crack.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 09/28/08 14:52:04 EDT

Thumper, Judson Yaggy,
Thanks for the response I will check it out

   Red Star Ironworks - Sunday, 09/28/08 18:14:28 EDT

Iron Making: Jacob, We will be posting an article shortly showing various furnaces and melts. But here are the basics.

1) Most important, you need several friends willing to baby sit the furnace for as long as 24 hours or more from the time you build it to when you remove the bloom. A two man crew can do it but I recommend 4 to 6. Once you start you are committed rain or shine. Plan on eating and sleeping with the furnace, standing in mud sleeping (if any) in the cold and breathing the furnace smoke all that time.

2) Next most important, you will need your crew friends to help consolidate and forge the billet OT you will need a hydraulic press and fairly large dies.

3) To make the "wrought" you start with high grade iron ore (you may have to dig it up your self). It then needs to be roasted and crushed into sand or pea gravel size grains.

4) Ore needs flux. Some ores are self fluxing others are not. You need the chemistry of the ore OR need to run a dozen of so experimental smelts to figure it out. It helps to know some metallurgy and chemistry. The slag in wrought comes from the ore and flux combination.

5) You need fuel. Foundry coke broken down is possible for making cast but tricky on wrought. Most makers are using charcoal mostly because it is easier to break up and it has no sulfur. The fuel must be broken up and screened to a specific size depending on the size of your furnace. Anywhere from a dozen to two dozen 50 pound bags are necessary per smelt. Running out is a disaster. . .

6) You need a furnace with controllable air supply and tuyere. Furnaces are built from clay and or refractory materials. You will also need patching clay and extra refractory. When held at 3,000 for many hours parts of furnaces crack and fall apart. . . Furnaces can be permanent or temporary. Some temporary furnaces last for a couple smelts others only one. Permanent furnaces are more expensive and hard to correct design flaws but take less time to setup and use after they are built.

7) You will need some special tools, big tongs, rams, bot holders, pikes, fuel screen. Also some standard items, trowels, mortar box, mallets, scale (to measure ore). You will also need foundry/heavy welding safety equipment such as gloves (multiple pairs) face shields, reflective gauntlets and body armor.

8) You need knowledge and practice. Most folks that do smelts helped someone else. The fellow running the smelt is the "Ironmaster". Ironmasters were always the folks with the most education and management skills in any group (family, village, consortium, company). They are also hard workers and keep track of every aspect of the smelt, time between charges, fuel, flux and ore ratio in the charge, the amount of air. Without records there cannot be success OR improvement. You MUST know what is going on. As part of your crew you need a "Second" that is at least familiar with all these things and preferably capable of being the Irommaster. Others on your crew should clearly know what their jobs are and to perform them without asking. While the Ironmaster and Second MUST be absolutely committed to the process the others need to be NEARLY as committed.

AND you need a place for all this to happen. Room for the furnace, places for the crew to hang out with facilities to use. . .

We are NOT talking about a large operation. We are talking about a very small furnace three or four feet high capable of making a ten to thirty pound bloom per heat IF operated well. Poorly operated you may get cast iron, discontinuous particles or iron or nothing.

Making Wrought is Making or Smelting Iron. It is not easy.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 19:07:21 EDT

Long springs in coal tings: Dave, mild steel will work fine if properly shaped.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 19:09:52 EDT

Long forge: Brick base, two rows of brick one brick length apart about a foot to foot and a half high. Air openings on one side about a foot to a brick length apart. Manifold supplying air.

For gas, same design with fuel/air coming into the top rather than bottom. Manifold as necessary.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 19:14:01 EDT

SOFA Smelt: We have photos and Darrell Markewitz kindly gave me a copy of his disk in progress. While it is primarily about experimental archeology and historical recreation of events it is a great source for small DIY operations. Will post review.

Also note that if all you want is some wrought there are tons of it in scrap to be found. Making wrought can cost hundreds of dollars per pound, the product easily approaching silver in price.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 19:45:32 EDT

Dave, I just finished an old fashioned spring latch in which the 3" spring is mild steel. I over-bent it a little, so that I had to compress it before riveting the assembly together. This helped to keep it in tension. I also hammered on it cold for about 20 seconds with flat overlapping blows before riveting. This work hardens it slightly. Too much hammering however, will cause a point of diminishing returns, and the metal will crack.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/28/08 20:47:08 EDT

near by there is a river that flooded badly and kinda made a marshy area there are lots of dead trees with pools of water everywhere and marshy ground, could bog iron be found there?
   Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/28/08 20:52:22 EDT

oh and for annealing, vermicultie i heard is sold in gardening store, is it sold as Vermiculite, or is it called something else
   Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/28/08 22:04:19 EDT

Car springs are not necessarily a steel that will quench and temper and make a half decent blade, especially today. In 1980/82 I worked for J & L Steel research to develop a microalloyed (low levels of elements like nitrogen, boron, niobium, titanium, etc.) mid to low carbon steel that could be used for automotive springs - the goal was to develop one that met the demands of the application by controlled cooling from the forming temperature, and eliminate the heat treatment required for 5160, 1060, 9160, etc.

Alas, the wolf came to Pittsburgh, their was major downsizing, and J & L eventually went kaput. Within the last 3 to 4 years in the monthly magazine ASM (American Society for Metals) publishes for members I saw the commercial announcement of the official roll out of the same product I'd worked on 20+ years ago.

Jacob - if you want some of the historic background for small furnaces used to produce wrought iron, get your hands on "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" by J. E. Rehder, ISBN 0-7735-2067-8

As to getting your hands on wrought, the easiest way to do so is to buy some - there's always some at half decent prices at Quad State, and I presume other Black smith get togethers. The second easiest is to bid on part of Darrel's bloom at the Quad State auction, and succeed.

If you want truly traditional wrought iron, I believe you can get reprocessed charcoal made wrought iron from the the real wrought iron company in Great Britain. Be prepared to pay accordingly.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 09/28/08 22:05:24 EDT

Alisha - if you need to do an interview to graduate, it would help very much to know what part of the country &/or in which country you currently live. I'm not a swordsmith, but I know at least one in western PA. If you're near Las Vegas Nevada, the preeminent bladesmith/swordsmith in the area is Jim Hrisoulas. Another option for searching, would be looking at Don Fogg's bladesmith forums - bladesmith's and sword smiths post there, and you might be able to identify a local person from the site.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 09/28/08 22:11:45 EDT

Bog Iron: Jacob, Iron bogs are special places. They must have some mineral base that is rich in iron, acidic water to dissolve the iron and certain biological organisms that excrete the iron. In some iron bogs the iron oxide deposits are found as large nodules that can be collected from a boat with tongs or by wading in the bog. In others it is found as small granular deposits around roots and such at the point where organic matter meets inorganic clay, rock or gravel.

I am no expert on this but that is the gist of it. You can spend a LOT of cold wet days in a lot of bogs before you find what you are looking for. Part of the skill is looking for the proper colored water and the oil like sheen at the edges of the bog created by the biological process.
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 02:47:02 EDT

Too bad dirty oily water can be found pretty much anywhere in Americas wildlife areas
   - Nippulini - Monday, 09/29/08 08:34:47 EDT

The water is not actually oily but has a colored sheen at the edges. It may be an oil but it is fairly distinctive. It is hard to describe if you have not seen it. The acidity of the water is from certain vegetation and is often associated with the water having a dark tea color.

Just leaf matter will cause this color but not necessarily with a high acid. If you observe streams carefully you can see this color change after the autumn leaves fall. As winter progresses the water clears and in the spring a green tint appears. . (if there is no mud obscuring the colors). Bogs and swamps are often the tea color all the time.

There used to be a great many more bogs in the Eastern U.S. but most have been drained or filled to reduce mosquitoes or make more usable land.

   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 09:09:33 EDT

Thomas "Bog Iron" Powers may have some insight on finding the bog iron. His middle name certainly implies some familiarity with it. Or perhaps he just has large nodules of his own... :-)
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/29/08 12:50:26 EDT

A36: A36 is not mystery metal. It must conform to ASTM A36 for it's chemistry and mechanical properties. You can make A36 from almost any steel scrap but like all EAF steel, it must be refined and controlled from melting to rolling. Some mills are better at it than others, though.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/29/08 12:57:12 EDT

2 suppliers of products that will remove discoloration of stainless caused by welding-
Both sell liquids and pastes that will remove "light" discoloration.
Some are acids, some citric acids, all require care and safety gear when using.

However, when forging stainless, or heat bending it, sometimes you get beyond the ability of these products to do the job- they are meant for light discoloration caused by welding.

The next step up are electropolishing machines made by companies like Walter, ScreenPro, and WeldPro. (google em)
These use both acids and electricity to remove discoloration, and will get most of the color out.

The best way is a commercial electropolisher, usually found at plating companies, which use heated acid baths (YUMMM! just the thing you want in your shop) and enormous power supplies, like 1000 amps, to strip the stainless and polish and passivate them all in one. There are companies all over the US who do this- but they are commercial, expensive, and not too common. Big ones in Southern California, Wa. State, Illinois, and the East Coast.
   - Ries - Monday, 09/29/08 15:08:33 EDT

You forgot to mention that A36 has a slightly wider range of carbon than some other steels so it can approach an undesirable hardenability in the blacksmith shop. You can't get away with quenching it like you might a good SAE 1018.
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 15:09:04 EDT

I have an idea that I have been tossing around for a couple of years now and I would like all of your opinions on it:
Well first of all let me just start by saying that I live in Northern Indiana, I am learning to be a blacksmith, it's going slow, but at least I am learning.
I had an idea about a blacksmithing shop, where the store is in the front of the store and the shop is in the back of the store. I realize there are possible licenses required and health issues/noise problems. I guess my question is that do you think that a store/shop would work out in my area? just by my looking around I don't see a need for one, but maybe I could do advertisement or something along those lines?
   tony - Monday, 09/29/08 16:13:54 EDT

Ah, time for one of my favorite words! Miles, you're gonna love this. That sheen that iron-rich water posesses is described by the word - wait for it- "chalybeate." You can lots of places on USGS quad maps called "Chalybeate springs," but be warned they do not contain bog iron. They're just iron-rich water that will turn your porcelain sinks rusty red over a few years.

Jacob, I suggest if you're serious about smelting that you ask your local county extension or university geology department where the nearest source of iron ore is. It's odd stuff in that where it's common it's VERY common, but where it's not, you will not find it, period.

One thing you can do is save all your forge scale while you practice smithing. By the time you've got about 300 lbs of forge scale, you may be good enough with a hammer to know what to do with wrought iron. Note that forge scale is the Fe3O4, or magnetite, form of anhydrous iron oxide, a.k.a. rust. It does not smelt easily, but it is possible. I also know a guy who uses bags of finely powdered hematite (Fe2O3)intended for tinting stucco as his ore source. It works, but is very messy. One particular brand of sandblasting media is magnetite ore as well, as I recall.

As the Guru says, it's HOT, HARD work. And success is so far from guaranteed, especially on your first try, it may be something to save for later when you have more patience and have read more of the literature. I'm all for harnessing the energy of youthful enthusiasm, but not on things that can get you (and your neighborhood) hurt or killed if you screw up badly enough.

Whatever you decide to do, I strongly recommend you get hold of some scrap wrought iron and learn how to forge it before you try to make any. It works very differently from modern homogeneous steel.
   Alan-L - Monday, 09/29/08 16:35:15 EDT

Shop Studio Display Area: Tony, this arrangement is common with variations. Most smiths making a living have a gallery or display room to show off their work and keep it clean. Actual storefronts are rare but can be found in touristy areas. I designed a demonstration shop with storefront for a local living history museum that is much like you described. They went with a really bad farm shop that they moved and setup. . .

Everything depends on your goals and location, then your ability to finance the plan. The first thing about a local/shop store you must consider is if there is a sufficient clientele locally to support such an operation. generally hand forged work is something you sell to the rich. Locations where lots of expensive new homes (over $1 mil and up) of where there are expensive vacation resorts can work on local sales. High growth areas are also good. But a lot depends on you, your abilities and quality of work.

Generally to will have to market your wares somewhere other than to the local folks and thus the expense of a store front is a waste.

The shop I designed was a "demonstration" shop. It was designed to put on a show, NOT produce inventory. The idea was to make lots of fire, sparks, excitement, educate the public a little and then offset costs with products sold in the front manufactured elsewhere or by others. If you want to demonstrate (IE put on a show) it is a FULL TIME occupation and not conducive to producing work. Much more time is spent in a productive blacksmith shop cutting stock, deburing, finishing and tasks other than forging. Folks don't want to watch you files off sharp edges so opening your shop to visitors is often a waste of time.

Thik about it. See my post above titled "Marketing your work".
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 17:46:56 EDT

Hmmm-- have I acquired a rep for not eschewing the recondite? Sorry. I'll strive to mend my ways. I definitely think chalybeate is a cool word, however, almost as good as foudroyant, my alltime fave, and will strive to use it as often as possible. I could tell people, for example, that the grounds around my place are chalybeate. Which in fact they are. But the water is not iridescent. 'Cause the chalybeatousness is all surface stuff. Pronounced junk. Hey-- I just heard about a kid, a freshman or sophomore at MIT no less, who made $100 K last year off Ebay selling used industrial equipment he picks up at auctions. Buggers the imagination, don't it, though?
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 09/29/08 18:40:55 EDT

does anybody make a combination coal and gas forge?Half/half but using the same hood and draft system. Thanks
   - shortguy - Monday, 09/29/08 19:08:42 EDT

Shortguy, NO. The closest anyone has gotten is when a demonstrator at the 1998 ABANA Conference in Asheville, NC asked "how do you get this thing up to welding temperature" and someone yelled, "Use coal!", so the demonstrator tossed in a handful of coal. . . welded all weekend making a sword.
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 19:26:31 EDT

Wrought Iron,


I was at this factory a couple of weeks ago (we put them a new power hammer in) , some very skilled guys re-roll / forge weld / old chain links etc into "useable" sections of iron. No idea of the cost but its very labour (and fuel!) intensive.

They also produce some of the best decorative forging work in the UK.

I got a couple of bars of wrought from them and its lovely to work, completly different to modern steels. I made some very nice 4 ribbon pattern welded (damascus) bars from it mixed with nickel steels, would look great as a knife / sword but would never survive the heat treat!

very informative website, well worth a look.
   - John N - Monday, 09/29/08 19:27:48 EDT

QC- You are of course correct about A36. I should have said "off the rack stuff that might be A36 or is being sold as such"

Jacob- Even if you find a good source of bog ore, make sure it's in an out of the way place. If some folks see you digging up a wetland they could throw a fit. EPA type fit.
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 09/29/08 19:32:40 EDT

Hi again everyone!
I'm trying to nudge my mrs in the right direction of getting me a new diagonal pein hammer (2-2┬Żlbs) for Christmas, but can't seem to find anyone local (Australia)to supply. Apparently Alan Ball has let his stock run down on account of illness, so he's not likely to have any available in the near future. Any suggestions?
   Craig - Monday, 09/29/08 20:28:18 EDT

Miles, I'd rather my imagination be beggared than buggared, but it still makes one cringe to think of. And your grounds ain't chalybeate if'n the water don't irridesce, sorry. Your fondness for just the right word is no vice, fear not. Why, just yesterday as I was demonstrating to a bunch of bladesmiths I thought of you as I was describing the reason one can weld high carbon steel to wrought iron at a lower temperature than one can easily weld wrought to wrought by saying it had to do with the zen of the eutectic. Not that that's entirely true, but it sounds good and is a perfectly good use of nonproductive verbiage.

One of these days my wife will get me that T-shirt that proclaims "eschew obfuscation." Perish the thought.
   Alan-L - Monday, 09/29/08 20:38:24 EDT

That was what I told my ex's divorce lawyer. Remove the latin, clean up the leagalese and remove the NEW verbiage since the agreement (they LOVE to stick new things in) and I would sign. Otherwise, they could wait another couple years. . . They CAN do it.
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 23:32:09 EDT

Diagonal Pein Hammer: Craig, Find a double faced hand sledge, and cut off the corners to make the pein. . . a suggestion someone gave me at SOFA's Quadstate this past weekend. . .

Working on the photos now. Took hundreds. Sorted out a LOT but the Thermite track welding ended up with 50 images. . .
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 23:36:06 EDT

Jacob Lochart: WHere are you located? Best bet for bog iron is in the Eastern salt marshes, where America's iron industry began. Groundwater leaches iron oxides out of glacial and bedrock deposits, then salt water precipitates the iron out when water reaches the marsh. This is what supplied Saugus Iron Works for its brief life, then Pocasset and others, for about 200 years. If you think you have an iron bog, consult a local civil engineer knowlegable about wetland regulations. Many of them deal with soil reports when doing permitting for development near a marsh or bog and can readily identify iron. BTW, if you really want to do it right, pyrolize yourself a few hundred pounds of charcoal and get in a load of oyster shells for flux.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 09/30/08 00:07:52 EDT

Alan-L-- according to my Web New World, this marvelous word you have dredged up comes from the name of a people noted for their steel, has to do with salts of steel, and with tasting like steel. All of the above pertain to my land, which even smells like steel. Rainbow water or no. And $100 K per annum from putting old rusties into UPS boxes definitely buggers (sic) my imagination.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 00:09:11 EDT

Bog iron-- This won't get you any, but you'll have a wonderful time: visit Furnacetown, near Snow Hill a Federal-era town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The haunting remains of a majestic little blast furnace that once smelted tons of bog iron, nestled in a forest, surrounded now by a restored village that once upon a time served it. Great book store, lovely double-hearth forge, the scene of memorable gatherings of the brethren. when Eastern Shore and Delmarva smiths gather nowadays to smite. Check out www.furnacetown.com/
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 00:18:10 EDT

Alan-- my 1933 unabridged OED goes even further than the Webster's cited above-- sez chalybeate can also be a verb, mentioned ale that's been chalybeated. Wow! Talk about Iron City!
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 10:49:19 EDT

Chalybeated ale? Yowza! Wonder why Iron City comes in aluminium cans, anyway...

Personally I was thinking your Rancho de Los Alamos was probably more along the lines of ferruginous caliche, but I can believe it's been well chalybeated. Oh, for an unabridged OED!

Back to bog ore: I was under the impression it is a result of bacterial action on organic materials in iron-rich waters, which is why it will regenerate. That is, you can mine out an iron bog (environmental laws permitting), and a few years later it'll have ore again.

I live in an area surrounded by red hematite ores to the west, brown goethite/limonite/siderite ores to the north, and a big mountain o' magnetite to the east. Old furnaces were once everywhere, but now only a very few remain. The local industry collapsed in the 1880s, when Birmingham, AL took off in a big way. Every year or so a bunch of us who incline towards forging sharp and pointy objects do get together and run off a small bloom of steel (NOT wrought iron) for the fun and experience. We use ore from Minnesota in a fit of irony. The guru has been present for a couple of these smelts.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/30/08 11:13:03 EDT

Do you think bolting my 126lb anvil to 200lb block of steel will help with my anvil's mass or just be a waste of time? Thanks
   - mark h - Tuesday, 09/30/08 11:26:17 EDT

So a company is putting out specialized body implant jewelry called micro dermals. They're touting how good the product is because it has a titanium shaft with a stainless steel base. I researched it and it's 316LVM (looks like) TIG welded to 6AL4V ELI Ti. My question is; does this product run any risk for bimetallic corrosion? Keep in mind that the product will be under the skin, 98.6 degrees in a saline aqueous environment. Dissimilar metals in the body scares me, and I would like to not see this comapny get sued.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/30/08 12:05:22 EDT

TGN, I think there may be some potential for the 316L to be anodic to the Titanium. In a chart of Voltage VS saturated calomel reference electrode, the 316 has a voltage of -.04 and the Ti has a zero voltage. That means there is a slight voltage difference that could result in a galvanic cell. That means the 316 might corrode. Don't put one of those gizmos near any essential organs.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/30/08 12:19:15 EDT


I get my hammers from Nathan Robertson, a hammersmith in Minnesota, USA. Nathan makes a very fine hammer at a quite reasonable price (approximately $60.00 US) and would happily ship to you. I believe a United States Postal Service International Flat Rate box ships for around $25 US, and the weight limit would easily allow for more than one hammer.

You can reach him by email at: jpine@paulbunyan.net

   vicopper - Tuesday, 09/30/08 13:13:14 EDT

I have 4 of Nathan's hammers and would not buy from a different source at this time. I love my 3 diagonal peen hammers in different weights.
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/30/08 13:21:33 EDT

Shipping to AU: International shipping via mail has become astronomical. I suspect the airlines are making up their losses on postage. . . It can easily cost $40 to ship one or two hammer there. Used to be that if you could wait three of four months you could mail by surface (slow boat). But that is no longer an option.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/30/08 13:35:58 EDT

Alan-- I'm not talking geology here, just assuming that all this scrap and junk-- oops, I mean materiel-- I have lying about is surely leaching off some ahrn molecules into the underlying soil. To the naked eye what is here a bit north and east of Santa Fe is pulverized granite down to about two feet and under that sand. And then more sand. And then sandstone. Over across the Rio formerly known as Grande in and around Los Alamos, 30 miles from here as the ICBM flies is a thick crust of tuff, produced by a humongous volcanic burp long time back. See Valle Grande.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 14:22:47 EDT

Miles, I'm sure you're correct on all counts. Your ahrn is combining with the underlying arenosity (look that one up!), producing an atmosphere of pure chalybeatitude atop your mesa.

Alisha who wants to interview a swordsmith: Lots of that online at http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php?showtopic=9482 ., including yours truly. I am not a professional smith, and to date have only made one sword, even if it is by all accounts a nice one. Lots of full-time pro's on there, though.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/30/08 14:38:54 EDT

So the possibility for corrosion is there. The item does not go any deeper than 3/16" below the dermal surface, so being near organs is not a worry. But rusty steel is.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/30/08 15:21:55 EDT

I have some of Nathan's hammers as well. Very well made, harder than the face on my P. Wright and softer than the Hay Bud. About 1/2 the price of what I could make a good hammer for at my shop rate.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 09/30/08 19:47:25 EDT

Alan L: I believe you are correct about the bacterial action. The groundwater is the source of the iron, and the bog water -- fresh or salt -- is the source of the precipitating process. GUess my post gave the impression it was the salt that caused the precipitation. It just so happens that the surface water in the eastern marshes is salt, but that's incidental to the bacterial process. In any event, its still going on, and we get these colorful little patches that look like oil slicks, but thicker and very metallic looking, in the marshes here all the time
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 09/30/08 21:29:29 EDT

mark h, I bolted my 134# Hey-Bud to a 187# block of steel and it made all the diferance in the world.
I used a 4" angle grinder to make the bottom of the anvil smooth and level so there would be a lot of contact area between the two surfaces and I also put down a layer of 10ga. copper wire between them to cancel out the resonant vibration between the two.
Then I made a hold down frame from 1" square stock that could be bolted together to fit closely around the feet.
I spoted then drilled and tapped fore, 5/8-11x3" deep holes close to the waist in between the front and back feet for the hold down frame.
Once I got it all assembeled I snugged the bolts up lightly and measured the gap between the top of the block and the underside of the frame at each bolt location. Then I made a spacer from some thick walled mechanical tubing for each bolt location and made each one 1/16 short for an even torquing. This will also prevent the frame from bending and getting loose over time. I used grade 5 hex head bolts (I don't think grade 8 would do any better) and standard (grade 2) washers.
If you try this methode be sure you put the layer of copper wire inbetween the anvil and the block of steel or they will "buzz" when you strike them.
I chained the whole works to the bench (wich is bolted to the wall) to tighten the hold down bolts and used a 3/4" by 3' breaker bar to make sure they are tight, hence the grade 5 bolts.
The whole thing goes 317# plus the 40# or so worth of oak blocks used to get it all to the correct highth.
It acts like a nice heavy anvil too.
You have to get the bottom flat (I actualy hand scraped mine to 10 points /inch but, it probably wasn't nesessary) and use the copper wire.
Good Luck!
   - merl - Tuesday, 09/30/08 22:00:42 EDT

Bolting Anvils to Inertia Blocks: Be warned that on old pieced together anvils this greatly increases the stress on the welds and can result in breaking off a horn or heel.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/01/08 00:14:41 EDT

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