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 1 - 7, 2009 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Future Metal - High Tech UnObtanium

We have a long ways to go in materials technology and the future is wide open. In the past couple decades previously undreamed of materials have been created.

However, your examples and comparisons are flawed. The layering in Japanese sword steel is a method used to attempt to make a homogeneous steel. While it is a fine steel and its fine layers appears to give it superior cutting abilities the actual hardness and strength is no better than a modern crucible steel. In fact their are many superior steels. You are comparing myth and legend with science and fact.

Hardness does not equal Strength. As metals become harder they become more brittle. When stopping a projectile a hard brittle substance ultimately spends its strength in the failure mode by cracking or shattering. If the projectile is stopped its transferred energy is now in the flying shards. A relatively soft gummy material does so by deforming thus adsorbing the energy over time and distance and holding on to the projectile.

Current armour works a couple different ways. Bullet proof "glass" is actually a thick Lexan plate. Lexan has the unusual characteristic of translating perpendicular force into parallel force thus absorbing a projectile's energy over a large area. It is also a soft gummy material that holds the projectile. The result of this is a large circular white spot that ruins the transparency but not your day.

Kevlar and composite plates use mats or woven fibers in flat layers to spread a projectiles energy over a large area. While many of these fibres would be classified as brittle in large sections they are flexible due to their small diameter and proportionally long length. The advantage of these materials over steel is that they are very strong for their weight. Using multiple layers of the fibres running in different directions spreads force in different directions and creates a trap to hold the projectile if it penetrates. The down side of these products is that every time they do their job many of the fibres are broken and eventually they lose their shape that makes them resistant to force.

The ultimate armour material would be one like Lexan which worked without the material being damaged. When a projectile hits it the energy is instantly translated into and absorbed by all the material not just a small area. Perhaps the energy is converted directly to heat or electricity and used to charge a battery to dissipate it. This might be some type of superconductor that generates electricity when mechanical force is applied. Dissipate the electricity and you nearly have a "force field" barrier.

The current state of most materials research is trial and error. A material (metal, plastic, ceramic or composite) is made then tested for all manner of attributes. Often a material with unexpected properties is created accidentally. Often the making of the materials requires developing new methods of manufacture. Then that new method is applied in unusual ways.

Example: A common inkjet printer mechanism is converted to making synthetic skin. The ink is replaced with different organic materials which are sprayed onto a disposable substrate OR a special roller platen that the resulting material can be scraped off in sheets. The printer is used with a cellular "graphic" that creates cell walls, fills the cells with jelled fluid, makes microscopic arteries and more all from organic "inks". Multiple layers result in a three dimensional structure.

Remember the scene in "The Fifth Element" where Lilu is recreated from a sample of DNA? Sort of like that. Except that this is REAL research going on today. The current goal of the research is to produce synthetic DNA neutral skin or temporary skin matrix for use with burn victims.

The same printer scanning technology is currently used to create laser prototyping machines where the heat of the scanning laser cures plastic a layer at a time until a full three dimensional object is formed. This has been so successful that limited production runs of new products have been made for testing. The advantage is a simple change can be made to a 3D CAD drawing and a new part can be generated without changing very expensive high production metal dies.

Who would believe that printing, a two dimensional process used to spread the written word would be used to make solid objects appear from clear liquid or make synthetic skin or organs? This is the world of materials research, science, imagination, trial and error with LUCK.
   - guru - Monday, 08/31/09 09:10:30 EDT

Given the race between people who develop armor and the people who develop bullets, I'm betting on the bullet guys.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/31/09 13:24:21 EDT

Bruce, I'm heavy and thick....are you saying I'm bullet proof? Woo Hoo...........
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/31/09 13:25:57 EDT

When flexible body armor is impacted by a projectile(s), it is promptly decommissioned, since the impact locus is now compromised. Likewise for "bulletproof" glass. Ditto for crumple zones in car bodies. You just don't get to go to the well twice, in other words.

There is one thing that will absorb the energy of any projectile developed so far, without itself being damaged. Distance. If you're far enough away from the shooter, gravity and inertia will overcome the projectile's momentum before it reaches you. To put it succinctly, avoiding the projectile is better than any armor ever devised.

I spent thousands and thousands of hours wearing flexible body armor, form the earliest ballistic nylon stuff to the later aramid fibers and other exotics, including ceramics and steel, and none of it is fun to wear. When they finally come up with a force field for personal protection, it will probably turn out to make you sweat like a pig, too. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 08/31/09 15:51:47 EDT

Serrated hot cutter

Hi, I just found a confusing tool on ebay and I wonder if any of you know what it would be most useful for. Most of all, I want to know if the serrations in the cutting blades would work on a smaller hot chisel to help keep it in the same spot on the work (mine tends to shift out of place and jump). Here is the link http://cgi.ebay.com/cmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item4837498069

I hope all of you enjoy wondering about it as much as I do. I strongly suspect that the designer had breaking down flat bar stock in mind and apparently wanted to do it in one swing, but that is as much of a guess as I will venture.
   Matthew Marting - Monday, 08/31/09 17:36:46 EDT

Correction - could it possibly be a one handed wood splidding double bladed maul?
   Matthew Marting - Monday, 08/31/09 17:46:57 EDT

Mathew, Its a stone cutters hammer. Used for dressing stone.

"Blacksmith" is the most abused keyword on ebay and many other places. If its iron and rusty it MUST be a blacksmiths tool. . . The world is full of . . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/31/09 18:57:38 EDT

Armour and unobtainium
We used to use an armour plate caled B555. That was actually the hardness of the stuff when it was impacted although until impacted and thereby work hardened it was quite workable. For some applications that was just too hard. The main one was blast armour which has to have different qualities from anti projectile armour. So for that we used B300 which actually was resoftened B555. Don't ask how as I don't know but it did work. We also used some stuff called IT100 which, from memory, was made by Kaiser Ulmann in Sheffield. Thst was different again. It seemed to be hard all the time and was used for a different application. The point is that there is no such thing as "armour plate" as a generic term. Tell me what you are likely to be hit by and I will tell you what to use. The trouble is the bad guy has an annoying habit of using a whole cocktail of projectiles even inside one magazinewhich makes armour an even trickier sublect. Add to all this the problem of weight and cracking due to the vinbration within a vehicle and you have a problem to which any solution is a compromise.

I have tried nonexistium. This is made by heating unobtainium to a green heat in an oxygen rich reducing atmosphere for a fixed period. It is the best all round defence possible.
   philip in china - Monday, 08/31/09 19:49:47 EDT

Philip makes a good point about armor - some is designed to absorb impacts, some to deflect impacts, and some to do both. For deflection, hard is good. For absorption it isn't do desirable at all. Sometimes you need both, and so composite materials are used. The design is driven by the anticipated projectile and extant circumstances, there is no one-size-fits-all-needs armor.
   vicopper - Monday, 08/31/09 19:58:12 EDT

now this is funny stuff:
from the guru sorry to laugh at this but i got the image of someone rambling of idiots after reading this:Blacksmith" is the most abused keyword on ebay and many other places. If its iron and rusty it MUST be a blacksmiths tool. . . The world is full of . . .
and thanks phillip: I have tried nonexistium. This is made by heating unobtainium to a green heat in an oxygen rich reducing atmosphere for a fixed period. It is the best all round defence possible.
   bigfoot - Monday, 08/31/09 19:59:06 EDT

Many thanks. That makes quite a bit of sense - I couldnt make heads or tails of it but never stopped to consider that the poster just may have been ignorant as to what it was, and failed to research what it may be instead of posting his (or her) best guess.
   Matthew Marting - Monday, 08/31/09 19:59:53 EDT

5th Element
One of the best! Hair like fire,eyes like the smoke off green coal,fists like hammers yet soft like steel fresh on the anvil. Good to watch everytime it comes on.
Picked up a new forge last week (well new to me)30by24 inch Buffalo pan,Champion blower and Canadian burner. Sure beats the heck out of my little Allidays and Onion,this thing gets one inch steel up to melting in no time at all!Mounted a set of wheels on for portability around the shop now I have to make a hood/cover for it cuz it will be outside when not in use.

   Amos - Monday, 08/31/09 23:34:35 EDT

On a related matter, I've been trying to test some things I've glued together this summer to see if they can stop bullets. Apparently the first result is that fiberglass layered with silicone doesn't do squat. I thought it might work because E-glass was near the tensile strength of some kind of kevlar from what I remember, but I guess it's no use since it can't stretch like kevlar.

I wish I could afford kevlar 49 or spectra even.

Next up is acrylic and lexan, saw an interesting video on youtube of a commercial product; one way bullet resistant glass. 3 Inches of acrylic and lexan laminated together stopped several 7.62x39 rounds from an AK47, their explanation was that the acrylic face hardens when hit and the lexan absorbs the energy instead of letting the acrylic shatter like it would normally do. On the reverse side of the glass however, bullets have no problem plowing through the soft lexan and shattering the acrylic, allowing the victim to shoot back.

   Nabiul Haque - Tuesday, 09/01/09 01:03:57 EDT

"Weel ladie, a piece of transparent aluminum would do the trick." Scott, Star Trek IV. The Voyage Home.

Is it possible? You never know. Materials science is still more alchemy than science. While finding new elements in outer space is science fiction (there are no holes in the periodic table) there ARE infinite alloys that have not yet been made or tested and high tech possibilities such as combining ceramics or fibers with metals as Alexander suggested.

But it is very slow work, like Edison looking for the right material for the light bulb element. In the process he found thousands of things that did not work. But he also discovered properties about many of the materials that did not do the job a hand. That is how materials research works. Often more unexpected things are found than the specific thing looked for. But failures are more common than either. This makes materials research very expensive. But the future of technology demands it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/01/09 09:15:49 EDT

What we need to try is diamond powder and plastic or metal composites. If the measely amount of carbide atoms in a metals matrix can make it so hard, this should work.......
   Nabiul Haque - Tuesday, 09/01/09 11:43:58 EDT

Ebay: I recently saw one of those "blacksmith tool" postings...it was a dandelion digger.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/01/09 12:07:25 EDT

The most positive way to stop a bullet is with another bullet fired first. And accurately.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/01/09 12:09:50 EDT

Ahhh, Quench, that would be the Infamous "Peace through fire superiority" axiom.
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/01/09 12:27:01 EDT

Diamond Powders: These are used in rubber, plastic and metal matrix's and make great grinding/cutting wheels but does not strengthen the base material or make it any harder. The problem adding diamond to steel is that they would either burn up or break down into other forms of carbon at the temperature necessary to melt the iron and form crystalline bonds. Iron/diamond metal CAN be made using powdered metal technology but the results are no different than a bronze/diamond matrix grinding composite.

Making super exotic materials may be as simple as making powder metal alloys using hot isostatic pressing. But it is more likely to be something like, making base powders, coating them with a super ceramic, then a bonding alloy layer then pressing the whole together then drawing it out to create a long directional structure of the three materials. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/01/09 14:22:29 EDT

QC, do you mean like stopping a bullet with a bullet a la "Wanted" movie style? Or do you mean shoot the other guy before he gets a chance to fire a round at you first? Next discussion, how well can you curve a bullet?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/01/09 15:34:59 EDT

Maybe QC's been talking to the ballistic missile defense folks? (But I don't think they plan to shoot first. . . ). It's probaly the latter explanation.

I read an article years ago about technology (maybe vapor deposition) that would create a thin diamond film on a metal substrate. Apparently diamond is the only electrical insulator with excellent thermal conductivity. The idea was to use a diamond layer to suck the heat out of electronic devices. But I always wondered about mechanical applications.

   Mike BR - Tuesday, 09/01/09 18:12:11 EDT

No smithing content warning

Nip- they all curve, it's just hard to see.

Unobtanium- I always figured that mono-molecule items would be the bees knees of material research- make your item of one interlocked molecule a la a giant Buckyball.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 09/01/09 19:26:17 EDT

Of course coating with diamond, may not do a blessed thing.
In one job were working to extend the life of briquetting segments used to make briquettes of 80% electrolytic mn powder and 20 % aluminum powder (a very abrasive combo - the briquettes are alloying additions for the aluminum industry. They were made of quenched and tempered tool steel, and were hoping to increase life thus decreasing the tool cost per 100 tons of briquettes produced. (We got about 700 tons before they were too worn to be used any more.) So, we tried diamond coating - no effect at all on the wear, in fact the diamond was gone within the 1st 100 tons processed. We also tried another coating, maybe cubic boron nitride - again no effect we could discern and it was gone within the 1st 100 tons produced.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 09/01/09 21:35:34 EDT

People in general do not know just how good tool steels are compared to many exotics. Often the exotics hold their strength better at high temperature OR are lighter weight. But then never really replace good old STEEL.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/01/09 22:05:44 EDT

I have been forging knives for a couple of years as a hobbie using o1, 1085, and 52100, and I came upon the term of a triple quench. I was wondering what the proccess for this was? I under stand a triple draw, ie heating to 350 or so for 1hour three times after quenching to full hardness to reach a specific hardness. Does a triple quench call for heating to nonmagnetic three times and quenching in oil? Wouldnt each heat cycle eleminate any hardness from the previous quenching? Matt
   matt - Wednesday, 09/02/09 01:00:18 EDT

Stopping a bullet: Nope, I don't plan to try to shoot the other guy's bullet out of the air. I am a bit more basic in my approach: If you are in my house and you have a gun, I will shoot first and continue to do so until you are incapacitated or I run out of ammo. I have a Glock 9mm that carries 16 rounds so I can come early and stay all day. The wife will be in the other room calling 911 but she is armed with the 12 ga. 5 rounds of 00 Buckshot. No, I am not paranoid, I am prepared.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 09/02/09 07:57:53 EDT

Matt, martensite will quickly re-form to austenite when you re-heat it. If you reform the austenite from martensite three times, you increase the amount of martensite formed on thesecond and third quench by a small percentage. This provides a marginal improvement in abrasion resistance.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 09/02/09 08:05:59 EDT

Ebay- Some years back a seller was offering an "antique blacksmiths workbench". It was an old cobblers bench. Not even close.
   Brian C - Wednesday, 09/02/09 09:33:31 EDT

I am trying to create myself a hydrolic compression hammer and am wondering what kind of working presures are needed at the hammer face. If I have a tonage rating at the end then I can work it backwards to figure out the pump size and ram size that I would need. Even if I could just find info on what other people have used.
Hope you can help, thanks George
   George Guenther - Wednesday, 09/02/09 09:57:50 EDT

Forging Machine Design: George it depends on what your final goal is and the type of machine. A forging press is not really a hammer as it does not work on inertia as much as direct pressure. A hammer works on velocity generally faster than gravity however board drops use a high drop and gravity alone. The limits on both machines are what can the frame and anvil withstand.

First note that a direct comparison of forces cannot be made by continuous press hydraulic presses and inertia hammers.

According to the ASM Forging Handbook hydraulic presses typically apply 10 to 40 tons per square inch with maximums of 70-100 tons when small work is put into large presses.

For hammers the rating is generally in cross section vs. ram weight. For forging steel the rule of thumb is 50 to 75 pounds of ram weight per square inch of steel. The low end is for soft steels and the high end for high strength steels. Ratings are generally in ft/lbs.

Horsepower requirements are much different between the two types of machines. A hammer essentially puts no more useful effort into the ram after it contacts the work. A press does not see any significant load until it contacts the work and then must continue to apply that force until the cycle is complete. That time varies with the material and cooling rates.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/02/09 10:53:48 EDT

More. . . While there is very little literature related to designing these devices you should obtain a copy of ASM International's Metals Handbook covering forging. The volume number varies with each edition so my giving it will not help. It is an expensive reference but if you are going to build expensive machinery then this is one of the tools. Note that I have not been impressed with ASM's specialty books as they are generally just excerpts from the larger references and do not include more detail.

Another reference that is good is ASTE Tool Engineers Handbook published by McGraw Hill. I suspect that you will need to look for used copies. Then there are the standards, Marks' and Machinery's.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/02/09 11:05:52 EDT

Hi Guru.. im new to these forums and all. but i think i can help with your barrel issue. there ia a product called envirotex. used to make bar tops and tables and so on. its sortof expencive but will coat the inside of your barrel with a food safe coating. and so should be no more fowel odor. unless u have asid rain or some other nasty issue...
hope this helps.
   LanceP - Wednesday, 09/02/09 14:22:23 EDT

WOW ok so im very out of date... HEHEHE.
just looked at the layout of this forum and the old posts are on top. oh well.
hows the barrel?
   LanceP - Wednesday, 09/02/09 14:40:16 EDT

Quenchcrack---nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/02/09 18:15:36 EDT

Thomas, Houston is the nations 4th largest city and is in close proximity to the favorite border crossings of the drug cartels. While it is a beautiful city, it draws some unsavory characters, some of whom are known for home invasions, rape and murder. We don't take home security lightly.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 09/02/09 19:31:07 EDT

When you watch movies portraying someone being shot while wearing bullet proof vests, the heroin will throw the vest off, and with a smile on his fave, shoot the villan. It does not work that way unless being shot with a .22 or maybe even a .25 When you are shot with a .357 magnum while wearing a bullet proof vest, it is like being hit full force with a base ball bat. I talked with a policeman who said he knew a state trooper who had been shot in the chest with a .357 magnum. The vest saved his life, but the impact bruised his heart and had to be hospitalized.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/02/09 20:12:07 EDT

I see the top of the page has been up dated.
It is interesting that it opens with the topic of "unobtanium" and armor plate.
I was in one of the first classes to go thru the Army heavy wheel and tracked vehicle school when it first included the then highly classified M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.
We actualy needed a Top Secret level security clearence to go through the school.
We were told about the armor plating and certain track skirts because the were deseptivly heavy for their size.
We were told they were made of a laminent made from three differant materiales, none of wich we needed to know for our MOS (welders "yes", mechanics "no")
After much speculation and consentrated thought, we determined that the primary energy absorbing material of the composit structure was, the green jello from the mess hall!
It was so simple and yet so diabolical that we knew it must be true!
We all knew that the green jello served in our particular mess hall, while appearing quite appitizing, could not be penetrated by any utensil known to man and, there for, was invariably thrown away. What was done with all that discarded jello?...
Now the whole world knows.....
   - merl - Wednesday, 09/02/09 21:47:51 EDT

"transparent aluminum" But, why did it have to be "transparent" to work better than regular aluminum?
I thought that was a great movie BTW.

Philip in China, we make armor plate kits from aluminum at the shop were I work.
We started out with (I think) 5086 and they found from real life experiences in the field that 6061 T6 worked better at stopping shrapnel from IED's because it is softer and "stickier". Go figure...

Prepairedness: Amen QC. I put it to a guy like this once "IF you can somehow get past the three VERY territorial dogs that sleep in the house and, you deside you want to come for more, I'll be waiting for you at the top of the stairs with the 870 Express Magnum and seven 12ga rounds of slug and shot loads". Any thing in the house is replacable. My family is not. A slug gun in a narrow hall way gets my vote.
   - merl - Wednesday, 09/02/09 22:28:49 EDT

The barrel is mine. So far, a 1/4 cup of bleach once a week helps. My area has been getting a LOT of rain lately, so I just drain it out completely and let it fill up again.

And yes, wearing a vest may save your life, but a bullet will knock the wind outta ya REAL bad. So Hollywood doesn't subscribe to the same reality I live in. What else is new?
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 09/03/09 10:01:21 EDT

George Guenther: I know of a couple of knife makers that do thier pattern welding and billet forming with home built electro/hydraulic, arbor type presses. They both are 60 ton and both of the guys wish they had bigger presses.
I used to work in a shop that had a 150 ton electro/hydraulic press we used for straightening that might work for smaller stuff.
Look around on YouTube for hydraulic press forging and see how big some of those units are compared to the size of the parts they are working, they have to be in the tens of thousands of tons range.
   - merl - Thursday, 09/03/09 11:54:05 EDT

In the comercial shops I have been in the smallest industrial hydraulic press I saw was 800 tons. Smallest mechanical press was a cute little 1000ton National. Biggest? 7500 ton mechanical and 5000 ton hydraulic.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/03/09 13:17:08 EDT

Speaking of armor plating, I've come into about 200lbs. of the stuff (supposedly) that the Security Forces folks out here have thrown away, it's in plate form measuring about 1 1/2' X 3' X 1/2"... Anyone have any suggestions on what I could do with it? Seems an awful shame to take it to the scrapyard
   MacFly - Thursday, 09/03/09 13:34:25 EDT

Quenchcrack, as a friend of mine says, "just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean people aren't out to get me"... ;)
   Dave F. - Thursday, 09/03/09 15:04:22 EDT

Plate: MacFly, if a magnet sticks to it then its some type of steel plate and good for most anything. However, if its abrasion resistant plate (unlikely) it would be very hard to machine and drill. Otherwise there is probably not much special about it except it may or may not have met a Mil spec.

IF a magnet does not stick to it then it could be aluminum as merl noted or some other non-ferrous (Ti). In this case you can start carefully weigh and measure the piece to determine its density. This will help tell you what possible alloy it it. When you know the lbs/cuin. or cm/m3 then you can browse materials charts until you find a match. This is not nearly an absolute test but most aluminium alloys have a density of about .097 and titanium alloys .16 or so. After that you can do some basic chemistry tests and double check densities after that.

Determining an exact alloy would probably take a laboratory analysis. Note that aluminum plate often has the alloy painted on it and that careful inspection might find remnants unless the plate has been completely refinished.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/03/09 15:25:26 EDT

More Shop Planning: The big problem I have seen (heard) with hydraulic presses is the noise of the pump. The noise can be near or above painful if not just plain obnoxious. I know a shop with a large press that put the pump and reservoir outdoors to keep the noise out of the shop. It was still obnoxious. Rotary phase converters make the same kind of noise. These and piston air compressors all need a sound proofed room or shed.

My unfinished shop had a place for a seperate concrete pad next to the building. It would be isolated from the shop wall and foundation with layers of dense silicon foam rubber wrapped in roofing felt. The covering shed would sit on the isolation pad but be sealed to the building with foam. The inside of the shed would be lined with sound deadening tiles and insulation. I had space laid out for a 3PH converter and a vertical tank air compressor. Both were to set on rubber anti-vibration mounts.

The point is that you might want an out building or an isolation shed in your shop plans. A place for noisy power equipment, compressors ect. This can also move some heat generating equipment as well as noise. The caveat to this sort of thing is that you need a maintenance schedule and stick to it. Lack of oil, slipping belts, just plain old loose parts . . . can wreck machinery if not checked on regularly.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/03/09 15:52:08 EDT

I saw your FAQ about swordmaking, and I'm not really interested in making a real sword, though that would be cool. What I'd really like to know is what would be the best way to put a sword model that I have in my head in a real form. I am designing weapons for a game, and I haven't really had much experience in crafting, but I know that the best way to get the full affect of how a weapon looks and can be handled is by holding one. So the question that I'm asking is would be the best method and material to turn my ideas into something i can hold? Would it be wood or metal or would it be sufficient to make clay models?
   Shane Fenimore - Thursday, 09/03/09 17:01:40 EDT

Blade Design: Shane, Wood is the easiest to get the look of an idea but you need to use metal to get a feel for the weight. Far too many fantasy writers describe weapons that would be impossible for anyone to wield such as 800 pound swords. . .

Start with a sketch, then make a detail drawing with cross sections and dimensions. From this you can calculate the weight to within ounces using the simplest geometry (volume of a rectangular section, volume of a triangular section).

Multiply this volume by .28 if cubic inches, 7.85 if cubic centimeters (78.5 if mm3). That will give you the weight in steel. Note that bronze is more dense than steel so if it is bronze age different values apply.

If the weight is less than 10 pounds then you are in the ballpark. It should be 7 pounds on average.

The math will tell you if you are wasting your time and let you change your plan. Thin, shorten or make it more slender to reduce the weight of the blade. Calculate the guard and grip using the same method.

When cross sections are odd you can estimate by guessing at an equivalent rectangle. Two triangular edges equal one rectangle the same width and height.

To make the blade in steel it is easiest to purchase a piece of steel as close as possible as the actual rectangle and then grind away what doesn't belong.

So, you can make the real thing or do a little estimating and make a wooden model for the looks. If you are looking for feel you would have to go with steel. It would not have to be perfect, sharp or hardened, just the correct weight.

Clay is OK if you do not want to pick up what you are making. Sculpted in wood you can also add body putty or the air hardening plastic clay if you need sculptural effects and you are not that good at carving. Some paint will also get you closer to reality. You can prime and lacquer wood and get very close to looking metallic.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/03/09 17:53:19 EDT

Guru, I would offer that with a few notable exceptions, modern hydraulic pump systems with good design are pretty quiet, and low vibration. The reason most sytems are noisy at the pump is bad design construction of the suction plumbing. If you get a little too much suction head, you get minor cavitation, and when those tiny cavitation bubbles get into the high pressure side collaspe giving that rattle. Water based fluids such as the gylcols and oil emulsions are very sebsative to this issue. The pump inlets must be designed for these fluids, and it helps to reverse the normal position of the tank and pump. This means place the tank above the pump to supercharge the pump inlet slightly.

Most places that one hears flow noise in a hydraulic system is badly designed or poorly chosen components making turbulance and caviation. I have run high flow tests to make "flashing flow" and in these cases the noise at the source is much like a hornet nest just kicked, but on steriods. I have seen the packing nuts and handwheel nuts loosen as I watched from the vibration induced. Also causes quick fatique of the components and nibbling of seals.

In liquid flow systems design needs to be based of flow factors and restance rather than what is laying about the shop.

There is one modern brand of axial piston pump, know in the trade as a "growler". Mostly found on cement trucks, and while tuff and reasonable to rebuild, who would notice the noise over the desiel? In a shop however...
   ptree - Thursday, 09/03/09 18:02:07 EDT

Dave, yeah, I'm one of the normal guys at work: I don't have a concealed weapons permit.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 09/03/09 18:30:47 EDT

Well, then all the hydraulic units I've been around were poorly designed. But most were small shop setups so that may explain why. But I have also been around commercial units such as small plant sized trash compactors that made horrendous noise.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/03/09 18:51:55 EDT

Ok with that said, the only thing that's wrong now is that the FAQ I read didn't go into much detail about shaping steel as far as the tools i would need, unless they're basically the same as the wall hangers, or hoe to go about it. It also left out the connecting the hilt and the guard to the blade. I hope this isn't giving you too much of a headache.
   Shane Fenimore - Thursday, 09/03/09 19:19:34 EDT

Well, I've never gotten a magnet near it, but I do know this; it's WAAAAYY too heavy to be Aluminum!!! I've done one or two projects with it, namely baseplates for a catwalk, and the trailer hitch mounting system for my little harbor freight crane (thanks again for the suggestion vicopper!) I've only ever cut it with Oxy-Acet, but drilling and (thusfar) arc welding hasn't been a problem so I've been assuming it's probably not some exotic alloy, let alone very high carbon... I may try a spark test someday to see if it'd be worth making knives or something out of, but I'm just afraid that with the current size of my "shop" and my metal-working capabilities, that it'll be collecting dust for quite a while. I have something like around 10 or so plates of the stuff, so I have way more than I really need!
   MacFly - Thursday, 09/03/09 19:31:41 EDT

Ptree: Yeah, my 20GPM 3000PSI system is downright quiet. Just a vane pump on a 25HP motor. So quiet that sometimes it gets left on and not noticed until everything is quiet. Need to put a heater on the tank though. In the winter it can be a little noisy for an hour or so, till it heats the fluid from pumping and friction.
   - grant - Thursday, 09/03/09 19:35:23 EDT

Guru, yeah, many people choke the suction side either by putting a filter on the suction or not keeping the strainer clean. Filters should only be on the return line.
   - grant - Thursday, 09/03/09 19:38:44 EDT

Shane, the FAQ is incomplete but making a wall hanger is all you need. A lot depends on how involved you want to get into this process and how much money you want to spend.

IF you start with a very close piece of material (particularly the thickness) then you can do the job with a hand hack saw, grinder, a couple files and a way to clamp the work. Clamping the work can be a foot or wedge clamping horse, C-clamps on a bench or a bench vise.

Grinders vary from small hand held to big (IE expensive) bench mounted belt grinders. For a one time project I would recommend a good brand of 4-1/4" angle grinder. These are called "angle" because of the right angle gearing in the head that makes the shaft perpendicular to the body and motor axis. One of these will do 90% of the work you need to do with the least expense. Note that these throw a lot of sparks and you will need a good workplace or somewhere outdoors where a few sparks are not a fire hazard.

There are tons of books and videos on knife and sword making. I suggest you pick one from our book review page or sword making resources list.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/03/09 19:40:41 EDT

I printed out that list, so I will be looking over the titles you mentioned there. Are there any other additional books that you reccomend or is that pretty much it?
   Shane Fenimore - Thursday, 09/03/09 19:47:04 EDT

Grant has it button on. I outlawed suction strainers and filters. I also outlawed PIPE suction lines. Need to be tube with sweep ells or the newer rubber hose suction systems.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/03/09 20:11:50 EDT

hey, i'm looking for sources and a little more direction on mixxing metals (usually fine metals) to creat coloration (things beyond shadu-do and shibu-ichi, which i've already worked with). i guess in a way i'm trying to comprise a metal "cook book".

Any help would be greatly appriciated
   Taeo - Thursday, 09/03/09 20:14:50 EDT

Ptree: depends on your definition of strainer. I use the ones with perforated holes, not mesh. Although, now that you mention it, I don't know why I should.
   - grant - Thursday, 09/03/09 20:29:56 EDT

At the frame plant tool shop there was a 50 ton Hanifin brand electro/hydraulic press that didn't make too much noise unless the ram was bottomed out or stalled and the oil had to pass through the relief circut. THEN it growled a bit
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 09/03/09 20:35:24 EDT

Is the tormek t-7 any good? I like the idea of having a jig to precision grind a blade. Also, is there a grinding wheel to do a kukri's blade. The kukri curves inward, opposite of a saber. A flat wheel would not work I think but I imagine a rounded one would.
   Mike - Thursday, 09/03/09 20:39:37 EDT

I have seen a product described as "half hardened stainless steel"- don't ask that is all I can tell you, which when tested was only just inferior to good armour plate. The advantage being it is cheap and needs no finishing. This made it a very useful and attractive alternative. In a static location that is definitely what I would use to protect myself. I am not sure about on a vehicle, though, as it might work harden.

We used to stress relieve aluminium armour by painting it and then shot peining all the paint off so we knew every bit had been blasted. I don't know if that would work for steel armour stresses though.

Angle of the armour is also very important. Think like a politician- never take anything straight- try to deflect- that also increases the effective thickness of the plate when dealing with strikes.
   philip in china - Thursday, 09/03/09 20:41:11 EDT

Tormek T-7: I have no experience of the machine but it looks pretty nice. It appears to be designed for small items, not long blades. Long blades require more abrasive surface to keep from loading up in use. That is why modern blade smiths use belt grinders for everything from stock removal down to final finishing in some cases.

Jigs and guides are not that hard to make. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 09/03/09 22:44:10 EDT

I am serious in wanting to learn blacksmithing and i live in Canada,in Quebec and was wondering if you knew the names of a few Blacksmiting schools in my area
   Stephane - Friday, 09/04/09 00:45:49 EDT

Blacksmithing in Quebeque: Stephane, The place to start is Confrèrie des forgerons forgerons.qc.ca. They have a a list of places to take lessons. Their list of members includes a wowman with your first name. That may be a good person to contact.

Most of the North American blacksmithing schools are in the U.S. Try the ABANA.ORG schools listing.

We also have a tremendous amount of information on these pages to help you along. We have on-line books (eBooks) and book reviews of all the major blacksmithing books, FAQs and step-by-step projects on our iForge page. We can also answer questions that you may have.

Start with some of the books we recommend in our Getting Stated article or our online eBooks.
   - guru - Friday, 09/04/09 04:21:34 EDT

Dave Boyer, when a pump has to ump over a relief valve, the full Hp input into the pressure becomes heat and noise. One reason a relief should be a safety device, not a pressure adjusting device. With modern pressure compensated pumps one can design a good press circuit that will move the press fast, make very controllable, repeatable pressure, low noise, and the lowest energy consumption while using a simple circuit. A relief would be set above the design operating pressure to protect against component burst failure due to a sudden open pressure.

Want to see a hydraulic system overheat in short time? run the entire flow over a relief valve, or through a leak point internally. Full Hp to heat makes for hot oil quicktime.

Noise in hydraulic systems in an indication of poor design or a defect. One will always have low noise, but if the noise is offensive, it bears the same investigation that a noisy gearbox would.
   ptree - Friday, 09/04/09 06:39:27 EDT

Stephane- Next weekend is the New England Blacksmiths' fall meet in Huntington, Vermont. Less than 2 hours south of Montreal. Check out the details under the calendar of events on the pull down menu on the upper right of your screen.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 09/04/09 07:46:08 EDT

Conversation starter:

So, as I was shaving today a thought occurred to me. We run the razor under real hot water. Now, under microscopic conditions, the heat expands the steel, right? So does this heat expand the cutting edge as well? And if so, wouldn't a thicker edge be less effective as a cutting tool? If so, the adverse should be true, i.e. a cold steel edge would be thinner thus sharper? These type of things go through my brain (especially when shaving). So, what do YOU think?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 09/04/09 12:26:08 EDT

Nip, Time for you to get an electric razor, dude. You're gonna shave off something important thinking like that....However, since you asked, theoretically, you are probably correct. But since thermal expansion is measured in Inches/inch/degree and the thickness of a razor blade is double-oh nothing, the net increase in thickness between 70F and 120F would be very little.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 09/04/09 12:53:50 EDT

Took delivery of my new rivet forge today. 24" pressure vessel end cap, 304 Stainless. Stainless removable legs, stainless nipple for the tuyer. Now where am I going to get a stainless blower?
   quenchcrack - Friday, 09/04/09 13:11:10 EDT

The average weight of an european *using* sword for nearly 1000 years was about 2.5 pounds (which is pretty close to a good weight for a katana as well!)

Heavy = Slow and Slow = Dead on a battlefield.

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/04/09 13:20:48 EDT

as in less than microscopic. . .

Heat expansion is an issue in many places but this one is doubtful.

Then again. . . I gave up shaving over 30 years ago. Except for a brief period doing nuclear work I haven't needed a razor of any type. I'm not sure I could find my old razor or blades. . .
   - guru - Friday, 09/04/09 13:32:48 EDT

Thomas. . . WHOOPS. I thought it was 7 pounds but then thinking about it thought it was kind of heavy. . . I'll email the guy.
   - guru - Friday, 09/04/09 13:34:05 EDT

Ptree: I guess a modern press design would have limit switches, but this Hanifin was old, simple & noisy enough that You didn't stay on the buttons long when it was bottomed out.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 09/04/09 21:03:00 EDT

NIP, You can do the math. Steel expands at 6.4 micro inch [6.4 millionths of an inch] per inch per degree F. A sharp edge has almoast no thickness, so You can choose a really small number for the equasion.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 09/04/09 21:11:15 EDT

Hello! I am a 21-year-old female amateur writer, and actually have zero experience with blacksmithing, and am very likely never to have experience with it except mentioned in my writing. Having said that, I try to do fairly thorough research before I write about something I have no clue about. I have been going through this website, reading what I can about the art itself, and how apprenticiships (of old) work. I have a much clearer idea now than I did before, of course, what goes on in a smithy, both modern and classic, but there are still some holes in my knowledge, and I was hoping that you could help me out. Your page here was my first stop, so I might be able to answer my own questions during later research.

First, I know that apprenticeships aren't quite the same now as they were before, and I even understand the basic concept. But, what did (does?) the apprentice move on to after nails? Would he start learning to make things like swords or jewelry, which require some degree of skill and patience, during his apprenticeship, or after he's a journeyman? What exactly did his tasks include, when apprenticeship was still a regulated institution? Was it usually just related to the forge, or was it broader? How much was the fee, relative to the abilities of the time? Was it normally a very high fee, or a very reasonable one?

As for the tools, what tools would you have found in a classic smithy, besides anvil, forge, tongs, and hammer? What did a typical smithy look like, and what does one look like now? Of the modern tools, are there any that are hand-powered only, that weren't found in a classic smithy?

These are the only questions I can think of for now. I don't have to become an expert, but I really ought to know enough to write about smithing without sounding like a fool. I know that I can find out about the tools, for the most part, on my own, but I'm hoping that you will come up with some insights or useful bits that I wouldn't come up with or find on my own.

Thank you so much for your time.
E. Hadley
   E. Hadley - Saturday, 09/05/09 01:35:54 EDT

I feel I should add that when I say "classic" I'm thinking late middle-ages, but any information from then up until the American colonization would be very much appreciated. The time setting of my story is a bit ambiguous, because it's set in a made-up world.
   E. Hadley - Saturday, 09/05/09 01:39:30 EDT

E. Hadley,

I had a student, Harry Jensen, who served part of his apprenticeship in Denmark at his uncle's forge, before the Nazis took the country in WW II. His description of apprenticing was probably not too unlike what happened generations before. The way he described it, it was like what we call a "sweat shop." Probably, the first thing learned was cleanup, a floor to sweep if there was such a floor, and tools to be put away. Then, there was striking with the sledge hammer, and this occupied most of the work day. If a certain job was to be done by a journeyman (the experienced smith), the apprentice gathered the tools needed for that job and placed them on a small tool table next to the anvil. In some shops, the apprentice worked the bellows and when a heat was obtained, ran around to pick up his sledge. He was therefore, a combination bellows boy and a striker. One of the first things a striker learned was to immediately pick up any small hot-cut piece off the floor with the overly long pickup tongs, quench the piece, and put it outside in the scrap pile. Harry said that when he was striking, he would get an occasional, quite painful charlie horse. The journeymen just laughed and told him he had to work through it somehow. No sympathy. Hadn't the journeymen been through the same trip during their apprenticeships? The signal to call a striker was often a couple of taps on the anvil. Perhaps the apprentice was doing bench work, filing or drilling. When he heard the anvil taps, he immediately went to the respective anvil and picked up the sledge hammer. Harry said that if you did something right, nothing was said. If you did something wrong, you could literally get your ass kicked. He said that one time he was forging a piece of wrought iron and got kicked thusly by a journeyman. The journeyman told him to start forging on the end of the piece and work toward the holding hand, not the other way. The only breaks were eating lunch and going to the crapper. One time, Harry was so fatigued, that he fell asleep while sitting in the crapper. The next thing he knew, he was being literally dragged out of the little house by a journeyman, pants down and all. The work days were long, as the "work ethic" was part of each country's ethos. George Sturt talks about this in his book,
"The Wheelwright's Shop." At the end of each day, George was physically ill and could not even eat his evening meal when he got home.

Another aspect of apprenticeships which did not occur everywhere; an apprentice was not allowed to talk at all. The master (shop owner) and journeymen were supposed to apprehend what was needed in terms of teaching. Therefore, the apprentice could not even speak to ask a question.

The apprentice was necessary to a shop's functioning, but he was not lauded for this, just the opposite. Even today, in the high steel ironworker's apprenticeship, there may be some carryover. I'm told that the apprentice is called a punk, that if he makes a mistake, he has to kneel before the foreman and apologize.

In some shops, practical jokes were played on the apprentice. I heard one instance where the apprentice was sent out to look for dog doodoo, not just any, but white doodoo. He was told that it was used as a case hardening compound.

I think that most smithing apprenticeships lasted 6 to 8 years. The apprentice might start early in life, say 10 or 12 years old, or possibly his early teens. The apprentice often lived with the master, either in a room in the house or in a separate outbuilding. He was an indentured servant. The master might give him a few paltry coppers every now and again. When the apprentice graduated to the rank of journeyman, having made a "journeyman's piece" or "masterpiece," he was given a bit of money, some decent clothing, and a toolbag with tools, and sent on his way to another shop with a letter of introduction, master to master. Thus, he would start his journey

There were many tools other than tongs. We call them generiacally, top and bottom tools. Top tools had handles and were held on top of the hot work and hit on their striking heads with a sledge, tools of "indirect percussion." Bottom tools fit in the hardie hole of the anvil or in the vise jaws. These tools had specific shapes like fullers and swages, intended to impart specific shapes to the hot work pieces.

I'm running out of steam, but I would suggest that you have your written work proofed by a working smith. You can get in touch with blacksmiths in your area via www.abana.org.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/05/09 07:53:58 EDT

Dave Boyer, the old presses were often run with vane pumps, an unloader and a relief. The unloader was a circuit that would sense a set pressure, say 500 psi, and until the setpoint was reached the unloader let a second pump make a large volume, at almost no pressure to fast travel the press. Once the work was reached the pressure would rise, the unloader would allow the big pump to bypass, then a high pressure, smaller pump can make the pressure required to do the work, without stalling the motor. This is a basic "2 stage log splitter" style setup. On big presses, the big volume pump would often be thru shafted with the smaller pump outboard from the motor. These older systems were all "fixed displacement, making the rated flow per revolution come heck or high water. The operator, not wishing to hear the relief scream was the controller.
Really big vertical presses often had a "Prefill" valve that allowed the suction of the dropping ram to draw in huge volumes of oil, and the return used seperate cylinders of only the size needed to raise the ram. This too allowed the press to run with much smaller prime movers, and to also have much less need for heat rejection.
One can reject some heat from the tank walls, but as the volume of oil goes up, the proportional heat rejection is usually less as the tank surface are does not increase proportionally.
In larger systems usually a large heat exchanger is used, and in my experience at least half the maintenance issues with these old machines hydraulic systems was the heat exchanger systems.

The modern systems can sense delivery pressure, and stroke or destroke the piston travel with a swash plate. The variable valoume vane pumps move the ring in relation to the vane carrier and in effect stroke/destroke the vane swept area. All automatic, and if designed correctly quiet.
In fact most of the axial piston pumps I worked with drew about 5 to 7% of motor Hp at full pressure, idle where no flow was demanded. And made perhaps 70-72 Db. That is normal conversation level noise.

The biggest disadvantage to the new high effiecency, variable volume pumps is the big reduction in dirt tolerance. The old vane systems would tollerate a fair amount of failure to keep the oil clean. The new pumps have clearances that are in the 4-6 micron (micrometer)and when these close clearance areas get scoured, internal leakage will cause fast failure in the pump.

Strainers on suction lines are usually going to be a filtration level of 40 to 100 micron at the tightest. If the strainer will pass what are "Boulders" to the pump, what is the benefit? And it increases suction head for no gain.

In my systems I use large filter area spin on filters in the return line, and I use a small 3-5gpm vane pump on the thru shafted main pump. That little pump suctions oil from the area where the main pump case drain dumps.(Case drain is usually about 5-10% of rated flow, and since it is from internal leakage HOT and carries the dirt from leak clearances, Dirty) This is the hottest, dirtiest oil in the system. From the vane the oil goes thru a spin-on filter, and thru a heat exchanger and is then returned half way back the weir in the tank between the case drain entry and the pump suction. Thus the cleanest, coolest oil in the system is placed into the tank near the pump suction,but far enough away to allow any foam to float.

Hydraulic system design is art and science, much like any other system design. Careful work, with knowledge will yeild a durable, safe, long lived system. Throwing together a cobble up, may get the design done at the loss of "durable,safe and long lived"
   ptree - Saturday, 09/05/09 08:29:49 EDT

Frank Turley, well said!
   ptree - Saturday, 09/05/09 08:33:22 EDT

E., also keep in mind that in the time period you're asking about there were very few "general" shops. Smithing was divided into several highly specialized subcategories, each of which withheld their knowledge from the others.

Ever wonder why there are locksmiths, gunsmiths, cutlers, whitesmiths, and so on, not just "blacksmiths" in historical accounts? They all did forge work. The end product was different, though.

I know, it's fantasy and it doesn't matter if you want your world populated by general shops, I just thought I'd mention it. (grin!) What is your apprentice's end goal, that may help with situating him/her in the proper sort of shop.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 09/05/09 08:38:18 EDT

Apprenticeships. . : Great stuff Frank.

Due to abuse there were laws in many countries or trade guild rules to protect apprentices. The general abusive situation was where the apprentice was treated badly, was not taught the "trade secrets" or prepared to go out on his own as a journeyman. Beatings out of the normal and starvation were other abuses. But due to the fact that apprentices started as fairly young boys there was little they could do other than run away.

Apprentices were BOUND laborers and running away was a significant crime. While the authorities might have been lax with the Master the apprentice was treated like any run away slave and likely to be returned in chains and treated worse than an animal in many cases. The only "out" for an apprentice was for their family to buy out their contract and this was very unlikely.

As Frank described blacksmiths shops (and many other types) were very labor intensive. There were few machines until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All the low jobs were done by the apprentice. These included many things of the domestic life of the day such as hauling water to the shop and human wastes away. Fuel, charcoal, was broken up into fairly uniform pieces of about 1", ashes from the forge were hauled away and if the shop did shoeing as many did there was manure to clean up daily. Many of the apprentices tasks were literally s**t jobs.

Besides being there to wield a sledge hammer, an apprentice might spends hours pulling the bellows, cranking a grinder, ir turning a lathe. Anything we use electric motors for today was done by cheap labor. . .

Once the apprentice was taught a profitable skill such as filing he might spend years at the bench. An amazing amount of bench work included carving features with a chisel. These are jobs that today we know to cause repetitive stress injuries. Remember that all the way up into the 20th century there was shops that cut files and saw teeth by hand. However, this work was often "farmed out" to home workers, subsistence farmers who needed work in the off season.

There was no free time and few holidays. Those that got injured and could not work may have been discarded as they were easily replaced.


Recently there was an article in the NY Times where a reported who worked in India noticed many manhole covers in New York that were marked as made in a town he knew in India. He thought it would make an interesting story. What he found and photographed, was a large foundry where the hot liquid iron was carried in heavy crucibles by emaciated barefoot men wearing nothing but loincloths. When he asked the plant manager if they had many injuries or accidents he said "NEVER". RIGHT. . . no injuries that there were any repercussions! I suspect that those severely burned just die and the "problem" goes away.

This is the kind of thing that goes on in places where labor (and human life) is considered cheap. That was the atmosphere in a middle ages apprenticeship.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/05/09 08:44:31 EDT

More. . As noted in our FAQ on apprenticeships, the end of old fashioned apprenticeships came with the end of slavery and indentured servitude. This was what made the system with all its abuses work.

The economy of the system was that the Master's time, due to his investment in tools and education was worth 10 to 20 times or more than that of the apprentice. Thus the labor trade was considered fair. These labor values still exist today. However, it is hard to get an apprentice that will understand that ratio and live up to it. The electric motor and machines powered by them has also replaced much of the need for cheep labor.

Laws have changed, technology has changed and attitudes toward the treatment of workers have changed.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/05/09 10:47:21 EDT

I've just started collecting things for learning to forge a little. I'm currently messing with a railroad spike and some flat 'weldable steel' (I don't see an alloy number) from the hardware store. I've got a reasonable grasp on the concepts involved, but just barely starting out.

Anyway, I feel a little dumb for asking this, but where would be a good source for material to start with? I see a lot on what to use, but not so much on where to get it. I'd like to make some tools, so I have more than just an anvil, hammer, and a pair of vice-grips. Tongs, definitely are a priority.

   Andar - Saturday, 09/05/09 11:10:06 EDT

Andar, You can only go so far with scrap then you will need to start buying new steel either from the hardware store of steel service center. The price at the service center will be cheaper but they deal with industry and will not be real friendly over your purchase of one stick of 1/2" square cut in half so you can haul it. You will be what is known as a nuisance customer. So, be polite and professional, do not ask for prices on a bunch of sizes (the price per pound will be similar for all sizes, you figure the weight) that you are not going to buy immediately. Expect to pay a cutting charge and expect to have to wait while they cut the material as they will not cut it in advance for a cash customer.

For general work as for mild steel or A36 structural grade. If making knives you will need to purchase from a specialty supplier and pay tool steel prices. For this on-line sources such as our On-Line metals store or McMaster-Carr are as good as any. You will need to research what you need. Amateur bladesmiths often use truck and auto springs for blade material.

If you do not have a local steel service center then some machine shops, welding shops or blacksmiths will sell steel on occasion. Again, the price will be higher and again you are a nuisance customer because they buy steel to USE not to resell.

Let your fingers do the walking. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 09/05/09 15:40:48 EDT

More. . . IN some places your local construction supply, industrial hardware or Ferreteria will carry steel to resell. Most will have re-bar or concrete reinforcing steel. This is not particularly good material to use but may be what is available.

See our FAQ on Re-bar and FAQ on Steel Product Types.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/05/09 15:49:37 EDT

E.Hadley; now for a slightly different viewpoint:

Check out a copy of De Re Metallica at a library and see examples of amazing ammounts of machinery used in the mid 1500's in mining and refining: pumps, elevators, blowing engines, elevators, etc all water powered.

Note too that a shop that is making nails is NOT a shop that would be making swords! (Go ask your local rolls royce dealer if they will work on yugos!)

Swordsmiths were fairly rare and generally would be set up in large cities as there is a reather restricted market for such high end weapons. Local levies would use agricultural implements, (billhooks, flails, etc), spears, wood chopping axes and bows). Only the more wealthy folks would invest the time and money in armour and swords and horses! (eg: during renaissance Italy troups of crossbowmen came from the middle class as they had to be able to afford to supply their own weapons and crossbows were *expensive*)

Tools: less use of files and hacksaws due to cost of making them. Less use of steel, everything was made from wrought iron---the material; with just a little steel welded on for cutting edges (one reason swords were so expensive was that steel was expensive---even as late as the American civil war steel ran 5 times more expensive than wrought iron did!)

And materials: modern steels date to after 1850's with the invention of the Bessemer/Kelly Process Look up blister steel and crucible steel (crucible steel was not used in the west during medieval times but was know in the east both plain and as Wootz steel)

Feel free to e-mail me as this is my area of interest and I have a lot of stuff on it.

   ThomasP - Saturday, 09/05/09 15:58:06 EDT

The other myth about swordsmiths is that they made everything themselves. Often the maker was not even the smith but a merchant that had the blade made by a smith, the furniture made by someone else and the scabbard by another. More specialized work such as engraving, inlay or jewel work possibly done by others.

Where file were not used for benchwork chisels and scrapers did the job. In either case bencheork was labor intensive.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/05/09 21:07:11 EDT

Andar, About the only steel I can buy at my hardware stores is cadmium plated [shiny finish]. You don't want to heat this as it can KILL you with the fumes.
   Carver Jake - Sunday, 09/06/09 00:21:18 EDT

Ptree: That Hanifin moved anbout an inch, perhaps 2" a second.I believe it was single stage. The electricly controlled valves made it a little less controlable than it might have beenn. Some control over speed & pressure would have been nice. This machine did not seem to need or get much service, it just ran.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 09/06/09 02:56:58 EDT

Dave Boyer, those old simple presses were indeed tough and long lived. Usually operated at lower pressures, were noisy, not superb on control, but ran and ran.

New style presses use maybe 40% of the power, have great controllibility, low noise, and if you treat them like those old ones by filling the tank using a dirty bucket given a quick wipe with a rag, last about a year:)
   ptree - Sunday, 09/06/09 08:52:28 EDT

Carver Jake - It is possible I am lucky compared to some, as I live in the largest town and county seat of a relatively rural county, but within a half-hour of several large cities.

Both hardware stores carry the shiny metal you spoke of, but in the same rack, they carry hot and cold rolled steel marked simply 'Weldable' or 'Welding' steel. It seems to work easily, I'm making a pair of tongs out of 1/4 round, though I think it is a bit light for the job. I had to quit after forging both halves last night, but should have a working pair this evening (maybe.)

Thanks guru, I hadn't thought of that. There are three big ag supply companies in town I might try, and a Tractor Supply a town away.
   Andar - Sunday, 09/06/09 11:15:14 EDT

Wow! Thank you guys so much for all of that awesome knowledge! I have a much better start now than I did before. I'll take some time to look up more of what I can. Thanks again!
   E. Hadley - Sunday, 09/06/09 15:18:09 EDT

Plated Steel: Most of what you find in hardware stores is not cadmium plated (very hazardous) but thinly zinc plated (galvanized). This is a hazard but not nearly to the degree of cadmium. The zinc can be removed but is not worth the effort. If you work it hot be sure to work outdoors and stay upwind of the forge smoke.

Some "shiny" metal is simply cold finished steel. This is usually oiled to keep it from rusting. The bright steel is not nearly so white as zinc plating. Learn to recognize the difference by looking at galvanized and non-galvanized hardware.

Andar, 1/4" round is too small for tongs other than the reins. However, if you are careful not to reduce the material too much you could make serviceable pickup tongs for small pieces such as bits of tongs to be welded to reins. . . Bootstraping from small tools to larger tools is the story of industry.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/06/09 15:29:37 EDT

Can anyone identify the maker of a cast iron forge blower with C 996 on the outlet nozzel? This blower has a counterweighted crank arm and is driven by a gear box that is round, not oblong. It says "keep filled with oil" on the gear box.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/06/09 16:32:10 EDT

to be blunt; what is the best temper for a fire steel ('flint and steel' striker)? i am using leaf spring. i am only hardening the striker portion and leaving thescrolled bits unhardened. i temper it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven for 20 minutes and allow it to cool with the oven doors closed. i think this works well (i lit a fire with them today) but i think there may be a better way to do it. thanks for the advice.
   bigfoot - Sunday, 09/06/09 16:51:27 EDT

S7 tool failure-

I make most of my flypress tools out of S7. Typically, I form the working end, then weld on a mild steel collar around the shaft to keep the end up in the press from bottoming out and mushrooming. I do this by preheating to about 400 deg.f. then tig welding with stainless filler rod. Post heat to low orange and cool in a bucket of vermiculite. Then I heat the working end to orange and allow to air cool. However, today I had one of the punches I use the most often break off at the collar/weld area. The granular look of the metal in the break was so fine as to be almost a flat grey.

I only weld on the bottom of the collar so it seats square against the press tool holder. Should I be welding both sides and chamfer the heck out of the tool holder? Does my heat treating sound up to snuff? I know that there is always tool attrition, but S7 has held up so well for all of the other tooling I use it for this failure was a surprise.

I've already made another one and can do so indefinitely, but it'd be nice to hear what you guys think. Thanks.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 09/06/09 16:57:56 EDT

i would like to know how hot the metal for a horse shoe has to be for you to bend it into shape, and at what temp. is the metal ruined. thank you
   stu - Sunday, 09/06/09 17:14:16 EDT

Stu, some farriers shape the shoe cold. Others get it red hot (1500-1750F). It the shoe starts shooting off sparks like a sparkler, you ruined it.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/06/09 17:27:13 EDT


I do my flypress tooling the same way you describe, using either S7 or S1, and I haven't experienced that problem -yet. With that really fine grain structure, it doesn't sound like an overheating issue.
   vicopper - Sunday, 09/06/09 17:34:56 EDT

Judson, try making an interrupted weld, ie, weld for 1", skip an inch, etc.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/06/09 17:50:19 EDT

InVermont we don1t need a permit

   Dave - Sunday, 09/06/09 17:59:38 EDT

My blower appears to be a Canedy Otto Royal. Got it, minus the legs, for $77 plus shipping. The prices on eBay seem to be coming down.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/06/09 18:26:20 EDT

I finished making my first nail header tool for 1/4" square stock (3/16" square hole). I keep having problems with my nails getting stuck in the tool even after quenching. Anyone have some suggestions or tips the might help me out? Thanks!
   - Shane - Sunday, 09/06/09 19:00:57 EDT

QC- It's only a 3/4" dia. shank, so how about several 3/8" long welds?

Rich- That's what I thought too, but mixed alloys and a "by eye" heat treat had me second guessing myself. Are you coming to Jim's next weekend?

By the way that odd post from Dave is spooky, sounds like something I said a few years back.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 09/06/09 19:04:37 EDT

Judson, I am not a welding engineer but I know that sometimes continuous welds cause cracks. If you can do several short welds, it is worth a try.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/06/09 19:14:08 EDT

Dave, Hell, in Texas, we don't even need an excuse!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 09/06/09 19:15:13 EDT


Cooling with the oven door closed after tempering is unnecessary. Once the steel gets to the correct tempering temperature, it really makes no difference how fast you cool it.

I'm pretty sure I remember someone posting that they use fire steels as quenched (no tempering). You'd risk cracks, but I think the idea was that it isn't highly stressed. Of course, it may be one of those things you can get away with *sometimes*. The other thing I picked up is that it's important to sand off the decarburized layer on the surface of the steel.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 09/06/09 19:56:41 EDT

Nail Header Issues: First, many instructions for header use derived from The Art of Blacksmithing are wrong.

First thing to check is that the header hole is tapered slightly (bigger at the bottom). To help make this easier to do most headers have a large relief under the hole and thus the depth of the hole with taper is only about the hole width deep. Making the hole correctly requires a good tapered drift with sharp square corners. Use it AFTER punching or drilling the hole.

Then the top of the header is rounded or relieved so that the hammer can strike the nail without hitting the header.

The header needs to be made out of steel with greater strength and hardness than the nail material. Both spring and tool steel is used. Old fashioned headers had a steel face forge welded to the wrought shank.

LAST, The method of use. Sticking a tapered nail into the hole worked with wrought iron but not well with mild steel. The method below works without fail in mild steel. Once you learn the size to forge the shank the process moves quickly.

Step by step nailmaking image by Jock Dempsey
   - guru - Sunday, 09/06/09 20:16:48 EDT

FIRE STEELS: thanks, Mike i know i do not need to cool them so slow but i do, as i can heat it and leave it. i temper so low so i can file the decarb region off, i quench in preheat veggie oil in case you care. i have never cracked anything in it actually (yes i am proud as i am a beginner). thanks again and i temper just in case i drop this or drop something on it (not a problem even with fully hard spring steels but you know, better safe than sorry). by the way i use the fire steels i make alot, even before i picked up forging. i have been able to start fires with them since i was about 7 or 8 (but it took me along time back then!). thanks again.
   bigfoot - Sunday, 09/06/09 20:23:23 EDT

When we inventoried tools at the Old Millstone Forge Museum the tools that were most interesting was their large collection of nail and bolt headers. All of these were wrought iron with steeled faces.

The wrought bodies were forged into the typical rectangular ended tool and a clearance hole was punched. A very small spike hole was punched or pricked in the shank. The steel was a tear drop shape about 1/4" thick with a very sharp point which was bent at a right angle and driven into the spike hole in the shank. I think this was to hold the two pieces together while welding. The tear drop steel blending into the shank of the tool had a classy looking appearance. I suspect the hole in the steel was punched last. There was always a stepped relief like a counterbore from the bottom as a result of this process.

Every size header was made this way from nail headers up to 5/8" shank bolt headers.

The header in the drawing above is a typical modern header as made from spring or tool steel.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/06/09 20:30:10 EDT

Fire Strikers: Three things make a difference, a sharp corner, high carbon and hardness. Depending on the steel I might temper as high as 350 to be sure. Decarburization can be pretty deep and is best ground off.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/06/09 20:34:11 EDT


Yep, I'll be at Jim's for the NEB meet. Down to Ralph's for a day or two afterward. Not just sure what Dave has up his sleeve...:-)

   vicopper - Sunday, 09/06/09 22:26:08 EDT

Cheez Quenchcrack,

I hope I haven't been giving my people a line of horse hockey about forging heats all this time. I actually go into a mild rant when I tell them that the optimal forging temperature for mild steel is a bright lemon (yellow) @ 2100ºF. We normally stop forging at a low cherry red and take another heat. If y'all have never been to a one-heat horseshoeing contest, I would advise you to do so. Horseshoe forging contestants practice like athletes, because they ARE athletes. Yes, the shoe is done in one heat, all holes and heels finished. A long gas forge lemon heat is used. If a red heat is taken instead, the contestant is not going to get down the trail. I just use this as one example, but even in the field or in the shop making stock shoes, lemon heats are used by the practical farrier. The bright heats are also used when modifying keg (manufactured) shoes.

One time, a recent Houston resident stopped in front of my shop along with his wife. He was a Switzerland trained blacksmith, as I recall. He said that he had attended a blacksmithing workshop and that all of the demonstrators and hands-on people used red heats for everything. He asked me why all the smiths in the U.S. used red heats. Apparently, he assumed this was universal in America, and he wanted little ol' me to justify it or at least, explain it.

I told him that I couldn't explain the phenomenon that he witnessed. I told him that I teach students to bring the steel to the anvil at a bright lemon heat for most work. The red heats can be used on small stock for easy bends and twists. He was satisfied with that.

Part of my rant is that a guy is not going to make much of a living if everything is done at a red heat. Furthermore, at a red, one delivers more blows to get a particular job done, and blacksmithing is already difficult enough without making it more so. The more hits, the harder it is on one's body, over time.

It is hard to break people of using red heats only. Beginners are often afraid of burning the steel; they become "gunshy." It is true that a lemon yellow heat has a heavy scale and that it is a trifle more difficult to see the work as it's brought out of the fire. I tell my students, "Get over it!"

Sometimes we work at the darker heats, low cherry to blood to maybe a dark red. Animal head chiseling seems to want the darker heats. Pritcheling horseshoe nail holes goes better as the shoe is losing heat.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/06/09 22:30:57 EDT

Frank, I'm with you. Steel that sparkles a little AFTER taking it out of the forge is about right.

However, I think the problem is that a lot of gas forges don't get hot enough, or folks are afraid to leave them running, or they are using too small a forge. They also scale a lot more as you commented.

For lots of steels the books recommend lower temperatures but in industrial shops you see that lemon yellow a LOT.

The guys that wire brush the steel on every heat drive me nuts too. Those seconds are the BEST forging time. When my friend Josh is power hammer forging he often uses two hammers. ONE just to give the metal a thump to knock the scale off and the second to do the forging if there is a special shaped die in use. Usually the first blow is starting the move in the right direction so there is little loss in time.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/06/09 23:38:03 EDT

Hey Quenchcrack: You a farrier now? I remember when you called me a "but metallurgist" for commenting on heat treating. Guess this makes you a "but farrier", huh?;) (that's a wink)
   - grant - Monday, 09/07/09 02:10:44 EDT

Grant, just goes to show that you can know "AN" answer without knowing "THE" answer. Besides, it was not about farriery, it was about the metallurgy of the shoe. I know my limits when it comes to answering questions about horses feet.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/07/09 07:48:39 EDT

Frank, I won't spread horse hocky if you won't.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/07/09 07:50:05 EDT

Quenchcrack, Cannady Otto is a great blower, I have 2. Both of mine had gummy oil and lots of sludge in the gear case. I dumped the oil, filled completly with kerosene, soaked for a while, and drained, and what an ugly mess came out! My blowers have a brass valve to test for level/drain. I ran some more kero through till it ran pretty clean, then filled witha 50:50 mix of oil/kero. I turned gently for a while, and then drained some more nasty looking stuff. Ultimatly I filled with ATF. Nice antiwear package, low pour point which helps with low temp use.

I believe that the cannady Ottos are set up to fill the case to just under the fan shaft. If you overfill it will leak out the fan shaft. If you have the filler vertical, the drain/try valve will allow a perfect just under the fan shaft oil level. There should also be a small external oil hole on the crankshaft boss. Mine were full of crud and not apparent. These need a drop every so often, I oil every day when I start, and oil every hour or so.
Congrats on owning what many believe is the finest hand crank blower ever made.
   ptree - Monday, 09/07/09 08:24:22 EDT

Bill Pieh used to say that Cannedy Otto put themselves out of business by making the best equipment in the market. But I suspect they went out like the rest. . lack of demand.
   - guru - Monday, 09/07/09 08:38:18 EDT

I think I have a couple of those Canedy Otto blowers. They have been sitting outside for a while, because one has a seizing-up problem and the other shudders when cranked. The former came with a 4 legged pipe stand which I think may be original. The cast iron head at the top of the stand says, "TIGER." There is C 996 on the blower case, but the other case has no markings, even though the blower is a twin to the first.

Now that the blowers have been identified and praised, my next act will be to break them down and have a looksee. I'm pretty sure I can get them in running order.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 09/07/09 09:31:58 EDT

Gentlemen: Hockey is played on skates. Polo is played on horseback. Ergo, horse hockey must be a game that none of us participates in (although the comic possibilities are endless). ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 09/07/09 10:24:57 EDT

Horse on skates. . both are played with a puck and goals.
   - guru - Monday, 09/07/09 10:42:30 EDT

You've never seen horse hocky? Next you will be admitting you have never seen Horse Volleyball! However, the best is horse ping pong. They tried Horse Water Polo but the horse kept drowning.....
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/07/09 10:47:50 EDT

Frank Turley, My first Cannady Otto, was from the basement of a country general store, and lain there for decades, seized by all appearances. Once I had the numerous mud dauber nests removed from the fan case, it turned but was a little grumbly ans would not rotate once let loose more than about a 1/4 turn. The gear case cleaning fixed that and it will mow rotate about 2-3 turns once let go. It has smoothed a little with use. These have symetrical blower cases and Appear to have been able to run well either way when new. I played a bit and found that my first one was happy turning counterclockwise facing the crank. The second one is the opposite:) I have never opened the cases on mine, but if I had a really sticky one, I would first try soaking for a period in kerosene, and flushing, since these held oil. The total loss gear cases on other blowers would have tended to drain the garbage that these would collect as sludge. The older oils would also tend to sludge all by themselves. Kerosene seems to be an effective solvent on the oil oil sludge in old machines I have worked on.
I change the oil on mine yearly, and refill with plain old ATF. Mine run smooth as silk and pretty quiet as well.

My second one came with half of the original stand, it was a cast iron column, that would have been bolted to a dcast disk bottom. I suspect they made several versions. I did see a complete one at a farm museum somewhere.
   ptree - Monday, 09/07/09 11:35:42 EDT

In reference to Horses when I demo, I have co-oped ThomasP's answer, I only shoe horses when they get too close, as in Shoo-Shoo, get away!
When asked why, I answer that I don't like horses, but do like horse. The quizical look gets answered "medium rare with gravey, salt and a little pepper and spatzel noodles on the side.
That last bit does get the occasional frown as we are in horse country.

Since I am in horse country, I tend to look on the wall of every new Orthopediac Surgeon,for any Vet diplomas since my bad knee would get a $0.35 solution from most horse vets:)
   ptree - Monday, 09/07/09 11:40:23 EDT

ptree, I was invited out for Cavalo in Italy, once. I thought it was a pasta. We had a very nice steak and home made wine in a tiny shop, where upon, I was told the steak was horse meat. Actually, it was delicious. I remember a line from an old horse opera where a cowboy was asked by a young man what his horse's name was. He replied "Son, you don't give a name to an animal you might have to eat". Maybe that was our mistake.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/07/09 12:08:34 EDT

Actually, re-reading Stu's post: "i would like to know how hot the metal for a horse shoe has to be for you to bend it into shape, and at what temp. is the metal ruined" I thought he was implying fitting a keg shoe, not forging a new shoe. Seems like a waste of fuel to heat a shoe to a lemon heat just to bend it a little. But if the horse doesn't complain......
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/07/09 12:13:39 EDT

Good info on the flint strikers, but haven't been able to find a source for flint.
   Carver Jake - Monday, 09/07/09 12:35:01 EDT

Quenchcrack, Horse is often served in Europe, where I spent an interesting 28 months in the mid 70's. Indeed tasty
   ptree - Monday, 09/07/09 12:52:18 EDT

Flint. It doesn't have to be flint. Any rock that will throw a good spark works. Keep an eye open for sort of semi translucent glassy looking rocks, give it a good whack with a HSO (that's hammer shaped object) and test the sharp edge to see what happens. Try other rocks too. One of the hottest sparker I have is a dull grey muddy looking rock I found in my Dads stuff.
   JimG - Monday, 09/07/09 13:17:00 EDT

Flint and Steel: While these are great for primitive situations and reenactments I prefer Metal Match or Swedish Fire Steel. Fast, efficient and hot. Many would say, "why not just carry a lighter?". But solid systems are not effected by water or leaking fuel. Wipe it off, apply to some dry tinder and you are guaranteed a quick and painless fire.

I think Steve Kayne gave me the one I have. Lots of places sell them.
   - guru - Monday, 09/07/09 15:26:22 EDT

When I was working down the 2.5" sq stock at a real pro's shop his gas forge was running so hot that we had an inadvertant forge weld when one of the other's folk's workpiece touched mine in the forge---we had to hammer them apart! (and this was using 100# and 500# powerhammers!)

Carver, hard to tell you where to look for flint if we don't know where you live, of course agates, cherts, geodes, jasper---*lots* of microcrystalline quartz sources out there!

Horse is good eating and I sure wish they would allow it in the states instead of seeing so many abandoned horses in such poor state. *MUCH* more cruel to leave an animal with no food or shelter or vet care than to have it humanely put down and sold as meat!

   ThomasP - Monday, 09/07/09 15:27:11 EDT

Flints: Check out you local gunshop, they may carry flints for flintlocks, and may also carry flints as bushwacker supplies
   - Hudson - Monday, 09/07/09 16:59:19 EDT

Flint, Clay, Ores: Finding natural resources is an art, it is prospecting, it is knowing your environment in detail. Valuable natural resources are not in everyone's backyard and if you are looking for a specific resource it may not even be found in your state, county or continent.

People who live close to the land depend on those resources as well as explore a lot of land are most likely to know where resources are. This is what explorers and prospectors did. They searched, they dug test holes, they investigated mountain tops to find the source of minerals found in streams below. These folks generally walked the surface of the land they were exploring and had keen senses of observation and a knowledge of what they were looking for.

Those closest to the land such as hunter gatherers, farmers and surveyors often made discoveries of natural resources. But miners and mining engineers along with prospectors and geologists also did this work on large scale for commercial purposes. IF you are not one of the above or VERY serious then let your fingers do the walking.

Since the beginning of mankind valuable resources have been traded great distances because those resources are not found everywhere.

Modern folks are pretty much isolated from this type of thing. Besides not being close to the land, the land is divided up into millions of pieces that are all owned by someone else. It is not yours to go prospecting on.

However, the information about what is on most of that land is recorded in books and public records. Most states have maps of geologic resources and occasionally county by county publications. To use these records you need to know what you are looking for, scientific or chemical name as well as common names or alternatives.

In modern society we have the ultimate in trade. There are catalogs and websites selling virtually everything and every material including on-line. If you need it a brief on-line search will find it and with your MasterCard you can have whatever IT is delivered to your door overnight. The cost of doing so is insignificant compared to exploring thousands of acres on foot or even driving a few hundred miles to collect IT.

There are some raw materials that are difficult to buy unless you need freight train loads such as iron-ore. But most things are available in amounts from laboratory sample sizes up to pallet loads in much of the developed world.

SO, if you are reading this, you are apparently not a complete Ludite. If you need raw materials most are available to purchase. If you want to it the hard way and dig it out of the ground then start with educating yourself about the material and where it is found, what it looks like, how to test for it, how it is extracted, now it is processed. Then find a place and negotiate with the landowner (or mineral rights owner) for extractive rights. After that the work starts.

I know where a few clay banks are, to look for flint mines in Kentucky, places to pick up fossils on the roadside and some other odd things. But I much prefer a minute with google and door to door delivery.
   - guru - Monday, 09/07/09 17:39:32 EDT

Thank you to Jim "Paw Paw" Wilson, for if you didn't make your dreadful mistake I would have only thought "Metal fumes can make you sick, but milk helps with the symptoms" a 1st mate I knew said that. I knew Jim from this forum, then outside of it. My wife and I were going though some tough times back then and she and Jim would talk from time to time.
Anyway, to the point. The other week I decided to talk to an administrator at a local school about a section C.M.P. I'd seen laying about. I found out it belonged to that person and he said "Just looking for someone that can cut about 4 ft off of it for a burn barrel for the school. It's bridge grade stuff and very thick. But, if you can cut it you can have the other 8ft" I said I could do it, and went off to take a closer look. "Yep, thick stuff alright, 10 gauge maybe thicker, wow, really heavily galvanized, better work up wind, remember what happened to Paw Paw...... OH, HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, WHERE DO THEY BURN?!! There it was, the fenced area about 70 ft from classes and even closer to the cafeteria. Well needless to say, I related the story of Paw Paw's demise... 'nuff said.
Well maybe not, thanks again to you all, Jock, Kiwi and all! We may have kept some kids from getting real sick!
   George - Monday, 09/07/09 18:19:12 EDT

Unusual for Houston: http://houston.craigslist.org/tls/1313804392.html
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/07/09 19:13:52 EDT

anybody know how to make an axe from the slit/drift method? i have some big 1in round harden-able stock (probably 4150) and i think some small camp axes would be fun. thanks for the help.
   bigfoot - Monday, 09/07/09 19:58:06 EDT

FIRE STRIKERS: oh yead sharp corners are good and do grind off about 1/16th of an in so there is no forge marks or texture so that it is mirror finish with sharp corners.
   bigfoot - Monday, 09/07/09 20:00:47 EDT

18 to 19 years ago, a horse processing plant was to be built in St. Genevieve, Mo. The processed meat was going to be sold to France. However, the local citizens and probably animal rights activists put up such a protest, the plant was never built. Actually, I would like to try horse or mule meat. Mules were eaten a lot during the Civil War.
   - Mike T. - Monday, 09/07/09 20:16:32 EDT

Meat: People has all kinds of emotional attachments to pets and favorite named animals that in other cultures are seen as farm animals and food. While we have had pet cats and I appreciate the give and take of a pet I also see them as vermin when there is too many that have gone wild. They can be highly destructive and while they MAY reduce mice and rat populations they also destroy native bird and frog populations that my reduce the number of insects.

Globaly the moral imperative toward animals is highly hypocritical. In India animals are treated better than humans. In many part of the world they eat horse and dog. We use mice rats and pigs for medical experiments. Yet anyone that has been close to pets and even farm animals know that all mammals have emotional reactions, dream, can be faithful and show love. Mice have shown curiosity and will repeatedly come to the same place to study what a human is doing. I have seen this in my life and it is what Walt Disney based Micky Mouse on. What mice think of humans will probably always be a mystery but they DO take pleasure in watching us. Other rodents such as squirrels play games like children. Young animals of almost every species play games and show humor in their acts.

If you are going to protect horses and dogs you should protect all mammals. Otherwise they should all be treated as "lower forms" (the Biblical view) and used as we please, eaten, used as products. Either one view point or the other is right. If you believe your pets should be protected then you had better give up eating meat and wearing leather. . .
   - guru - Monday, 09/07/09 22:33:06 EDT

Ax forged from solid. See the iForge demo #12.

You will need to make special punches and drifts. A slitting punch with a round back side. When slitting it helps to use hot work steel for the tools.

Square the stock where you are going to put the handle. Slit for the depth of the handle. Then with a thin drift keeping that round back side open draw the sides (cheeks) of the eye and body axially on the handle axis. Use a fuller and or hammer pien. You should be able to easily get 1-1/2" tall cheeks out of 1" round. Axe cheeks can be as thin as 1/8" so there should be enough material to draw the cheeks to 2" or more. The problem with 1" diameter material is that it results in about 3/4" square. This means that in a 1-1/2" tall section the thickest it can be is 3/8". This will work with a tear drop eye punch.

When working the cheeks you may need to flip the work over and over working each side as needed. This is the difficult part, keeping the thickness even while drawing in one direction.

Using a tapered eye drift open the eye and then taper the the body of the axe along the same lines as the now open eye. Shape the blade and poll area as you wish.

Like many projects of this sort the preparation ahead of time of the set of punches and drifts the right size and shape for the job is important.
   - guru - Monday, 09/07/09 23:17:03 EDT

Forge temperature for Low Carbon/Low alloy steel:

Most of these grades, including 4140/4340/1045 etc can be heated up to 2300F without damaging the structure of the steel. As carbon and/or alloy content increase then the forge temperature will decrease. Additionally the working range will also decrease so you have less time to work at the anvil before re-heating. I would have no qualms about working a horse shoe at 2300 or even a little hotter. By the way, at 2300 steel is not going to throw sparks. If you're sparking, you're hotter than that OR you have a highly oxidizing fire. We have forged millions of pounds of steel from this temperature and I've never seen a piece come out of the furnace sparkling.

Lot's of gas forges will reach these temperatures, especially those set up with forced air. You do have to have the burners sized properly to the volume of the forge and you MUST have a large enough gas reserve to prevent freeze up, but if those criteria are met, you should be able to build a gas forge that will melt steel and wrought iron.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 09/08/09 08:37:40 EDT

I agree with Patrick, the standard forge temp for C-1029 and C1023 used in the valve industry is 2250F as the target. Since gas forges are not controlled that well, 2300F would be pretty regular, especiallly considering the consquences of a cold billet in closed die work.

The induction heaters were much closer controled, but still at 2250F.
   Ptree - Tuesday, 09/08/09 09:30:29 EDT

Aluminum is added to steel to deoxidize it and to control grain growth. Vanadium also helps control grain growth. The nitrides of Al and V precipitate during solidification at grain boundaries and will dissolve at between 1700F and 1850F. Once they dissolve, there is nothing to retard grain growth. Do we care if horse shoes have big grains? Probably not. Do we care if chisels and hammer heads have big grains? I do.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/08/09 12:19:21 EDT

To add my 2 cents about the Animal debate, it never fails to crack me up when I listen to folks tell me 'they could never hurt a poor, cute, defenseless little animal', and then take another bite of their chicken nuggets or filet minon... The Japanese prefer their horse raw, and it's usually served in a lot of their conveyor-belt-sushi establishments; pretty tasty actually. Also reminds me of a story my grandfather used to tell about a mongrel he'd rescued and was going to bring home from Vietnam. Long story short, the locals cooked him a farewell feast with Fido as the main course... Oops!
   MacFly - Tuesday, 09/08/09 13:18:30 EDT

Bigfoot, Just keep your punches and drifts lubricated and cooled. Drifts are not too critical. However, in this case you want a thin one with a rounded back to prevent creating a sharp fold or crack at the poll end of the handle hole while you draw it out with the drift in place. A ground and forged file may work for this one. This drift is probably going to get distorted but that is what a hammer is for. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/08/09 13:44:55 EDT

Forge Temps,

Quenchcrack is absolutely right about the dissolution temperature of aluminum nitrides and vanadium carbides. However, grains are refined during subsequent austenitization cycles as in normalizing or heating for quenching. Therefore, forging can be completed at high temperatures and the associated grain growth to which he refers can be reversed through proper heat treat cycles. This lets you have the best of both worlds-High forged temps for ease of working and fine grains for good performance in service.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 09/08/09 14:14:41 EDT

The important point about temperature is that in small shops that deal in shoes or decorative work getting the job done in as few as heats as possible is the difference between profit and loss. Working hot by hand or with power hammer it is amazing how much can be done in one heat and experianced smiths try to get most jobs done in that one heat. Not reheating saves time, fuel and cleanup due to scale remelting.

Working tool steel is considerably different and many crumble at temperatures that we commonly work mild steel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/08/09 14:43:36 EDT

Patrick is also correct about subsequent normalizing. Now you know why you should normalize at a low heat before you heat treat anything. Interestingly, the AlN and VN will not re-precipitate at grain boundaries after you dissolve them. Just "temper"mental I guess.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/08/09 15:31:17 EDT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2009 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC

Get anvilfire.com GEAR.

International Ceramics Products