anvils  anvil making  anvil repair  air hammer  artist blacksmiths  ABANA  alloy  bellows  blower  blacksmith  blacksmiths  blacksmithing  blacksmithing books  blacksmithing links  blacksmithing machinery  blacksmithing tools  blacksmiths's forge  blacksmith's tongs  blacksmith's guru  blade smithing   do-it-yourself   coal  coke  charcoal  charcoal forge  forge  forging  forge plans  forge welding  fabricator  gas forge  great bellows  grinders  grinding  propane forge  iron  ironwork  ironworks  junk yard hammer  JYH  knives  knife making  hammer  hammer-in  heat treating  hardy   iron   power hammer   pritchel  oil forge   quench tank  quench  smith  smithy  steel   steam hammer  slack tub  tempering  trip hammer  tongs  tools  machinery plans  metal  metalwork   weld   welding   arc  welding   wrought iron   blacksmith forum   blacksmiths FAQs - Self portrait (c) 1989 Jock Dempsey WELCOME to the Guru's Den!

Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 October 16 - 31, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, asylum at of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

Please report any posting or retrieval problems to:

webmaster at

After posting and clicking on return, the page will automaticly reload and display your entry. If not then, click on LastPost after the file reloads. Your question will be answered as soon as possible.

Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

-- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
Dear Guru,I was a farrier for about ten years,most of the forge work I've done was making horseshoes,I learned on a coal forge.I have recently decided to get back into the forge after not using one for 20 years,obviously I found an easier way to make a living than shoeing horses,
I found a small "Champion"three legged forge in really good shape,it needs to be "clayed".I bought a bag of fire clay and was told at the store that it had to be mixed with mortar,which I did,it cracked quite a bit when it dried,was I told right?or should I have just used straight fireclay?Does it matter if it has cracks?There was no directions on the bag as far as parts to parts ratios.Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated,Dave

Dave Lookingbill -- davel at Friday, 10/15/99 03:02:12 GMT

What type of forge would you reccomend for a beginning blacksmith?
Keep in mind I will need something I can use in my garage.
Propane, coal, or natural gas( which i don't have at my house).
Thank you,
Michael Sobrado

Michael Sobrado -- Dragnsteel at Friday, 10/15/99 03:38:19 GMT

Colton Pagano,

There are two stories on our 21st Century page that were written for students. Both are about life as a blacksmith in Colonial America (300 years ago).

Blacksmithing is as old as metalworking (over 6,000 years). Its methods start with tools developed in the stone and bronze age. The bronze age was when the most commonly worked metal was copper and mixtures of copper with other metals. When ironworking was invented it replaced bronze as the most common metal. Iron is important because it can be made into steel. Steel can be hardened to make tools that can cut bronze, iron and unhardened steel.

The word blacksmith comes from the black color of fresh iron and "smite" which means to hit. The Blacksmith works the black metal by hitting it with a hammer while it is hot. Heat makes the iron soft like stiff clay. To get the fire hot enough the blacksmith uses a bellows or a fan to blow air on his fire making it hotter.

Many people think blacksmiths are all "horseshoers" but this is wrong. Blacksmiths are metal workers. Horseshoers are called "Farriers". In early America many blacksmiths were also farriers so people still think all blacksmiths are horseshoers too.

Most modern blacksmiths are "decorative" ironworkers. They make fancy handmade ironwork such as railings and gates. However, there are also blacksmiths in industry that operate big power forging machines. Industrial blacksmiths make tools and parts for cars, ships, airplanes and machines. Modern blacksmiths are also tool makers. All those shiney tools you see at Sears are forged with big machines by blacksmiths (see our Power hammer Page for pictures).


-- guru Friday, 10/15/99 04:28:28 GMT

FORGES: Michael, coal forges must have a chimney OR be moved outside for use. Moving a brake drum forge like the one on our plans page is easy. Bigger forges can be put on wheels. Gas (propane) forges can be used indoors with as little ventilation as an open door or window. They are clean, quiet and relatively efficient. Your neighbors won't have a clue what you are up to. They can be home built but small commercial units such as those made by NC Forge are very convenient, affordable and safe.

Because the properties of the two types have different advantages many smiths have both.

-- guru Friday, 10/15/99 04:53:11 GMT

CLAYING FORGES: Dave, I generally do not recommend claying forges unless you are doing really HEAVY work. However:

Cement is not necessary for claying a forge. It IS required when used as mortar for firebrick. Then it is used as about 10% portland cement.

IF using plain clay it needs to be worked up like modeling clay. Mix as stiff as possible and then work on a plaster slab "bat" or "vat" to absorb moisture as it is made smooth and pliable. Its the extra moisture that causes the cracking. Some cracks are inevitable.

A popular homemade refractory mix has about 10% portland, 40-60% vermiculite, balance sand and clay. The vermiculite is a good insulator and doesn't absorb a lot of water so the mix shrinks less than others. - Try vermiculite in your clay.

-- guru Friday, 10/15/99 05:10:00 GMT

Galvaneel: Still haven't found what the heck it IS

-- guru Friday, 10/15/99 05:11:03 GMT

My son is about to do a research project on blacksmithing, and may possibly do a social studies' fair project as well. Do you have any information that you think would be helpful? He is nine years old, so it doesn't have to be complicated. Thank you.

Julie Johnson -- JulieAnnJ0329 at Friday, 10/15/99 05:25:07 GMT

Thanks for the info on claying,just one more question,it's stamped right into the bottom of the cast iron on my forge to"Clay before using" it appears that the forge was'nt clayed previously,but probably was'nt used much,it's in excellent condition.Why don't you recommend claying?Dave

Dave Lookingbill -- davel at Friday, 10/15/99 12:55:46 GMT


This is one of the few areas where the guru and I are not in complete agreement.

He does not reccomend claying a forge because if the forge is left outside, the clay will trap moisture next to the cast iron. The combination of coal, ash, and water creates sulphuric acid whit eats cast iron for breakfast and holler "MORE".

However, if the forge is kept INSIDE or at least sheltered from rain, then the moisture trapping is not a problem. I use a rivit forge that is kept outside under shelter. It's been in it's current location except for demos for five years now. No sign of rust and I clayed it the day I brought it home. The clay (I use a refractory cement) has to be replaced about once a year.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 10/15/99 13:37:25 GMT

Julie, See if you can find the books by Eric Sloane, Museum of Early American Tools and Diary of an Early American Boy - Noah Blake. These are Beautifully illustrated and simply written. Most libraries have them. Then there is Alex Bealer's classic The Art of Blacksmithing. It is also well illustrated and fairly simple reading. Most libraries HAD copies of it and it is still in print.

THEN, On our 21st Century page there are two stories I wrote about 18th century blacksmithing. They are historical fiction but technicaly accurate. If there are specific questions you or your son have, please feel free to ask.

-- guru Friday, 10/15/99 14:26:37 GMT

OBTW - Julie, there is a very simple explanation of blacksmithing several posts above yours.

-- guru Friday, 10/15/99 14:27:39 GMT

CLAY BEFORE USING: Dave, All these old blacksmithing tools had lifetime warantees. Being the type of tools that are consistantly abused the manufacturers were trying to reduce their loses. Paw-Paw expressed my concerns about rust perfectly. The other thing that wrecks cast iron forges is dumping water on a hot fire (and forge). Water is required to control the coal fire but should be sprinkled on with care.

-- guru Friday, 10/15/99 14:32:57 GMT

I have recently acquired an old Bowie Knife which appears to
have a hammered metal finish. The cutting edge is smooth and the
top of the blade is smooth. Can you tell me if this process is
to make the knife less susceptible to rust or just to look
different? Is this process common in today's knifemaking,or is
this perhaps an older design? The blade is steel and is very sharp
and has no marks normally left by a sharpening stone.
any info would be greatly appreciated.

Any infor

Bob Lewis -- mobilize86 at Friday, 10/15/99 22:06:13 GMT

Bob, There are thousands of custom knife makers both professional and amature. If you can imagine it they are making it. Then there are the importers that bring in EVERYTHING from the worst Ramboesque junk to well made unsigned third world pieces. Take it to a gun and knife show and ask around there.

-- guru Saturday, 10/16/99 01:21:53 GMT

OBTW - If you see grinding or sharpening marks, then its not much of a custom knife. The lack of discernable marks is a sign of good craftsmanship.

-- guru Saturday, 10/16/99 01:23:45 GMT

Just wizzed through previously asked questions and I sure hope you mean it about "don't worry about asking a dumb question".
Here goes- I have taken 1 cc class in blacksmithing, I do have an actual anvil, gas forge(whisper baby 1 burner)and I am trying to teach myself to forge weld mild steel. For flux I am using straight borax. Results are inconsistent. Any tips or direction would be appreciated.

Mike Ruark -- toyota2000 at Saturday, 10/16/99 02:48:07 GMT

Mike, Forge welding just takes lots of practice. In gas forges the atmosphere is critical as well as patience. Gas forges tend to heat the surface very quickly. Forge welding requires what is known as a "soaking" or penetrating heat. It is difficult to do this in a gas forge without burning the work. Your little gas forge will work better after it has been used for several hours. When IT is soaking with heat then you can adjust it back and get a gentler more penetrating heat. The size of your work is critical too. That little forge is a GREAT tool but it is not designed for heavy work.

One word of warning. Flux eats up forge lineings. Special trays are made to protect the floor but there are cheaper alternatives. Plain red clay (teracotta) tiles can be cut and placed in the forge. They don't last long but they are cheap (less than a dollar). Don't let a lot of flux run under the tray as it will weld itself in. If that DOES happen then remove the tray at full heat when the flux bond melts.

Frank Turley recommends that as a student blacksmith you make a forge weld EVERY day just before you quit. Other professionals will tell you that even the best occasionaly miss a forge weld (usualy while demonstrating) :)

See, it was really not that dumb a question. Sounds like you are off to a good start!

-- guru Saturday, 10/16/99 15:04:44 GMT

MORE ABOUT FORGE WELDING: I've had stacks of billets weld themselves into a solid block in a gas forge (at the end of the day when the forge is really soaked). Straight borax is the flux prefered by most for mild steel. If you get into making laminated steels with exotic alloys then add about 10% flourite powder. Its available from ceramics suppliers.

Most "patent" mixtures using sand or metal chips make more problems than they solve. Remember that there are as many types of sand as there are minerals. Some make good flux, most don't. The metal adds another source of impurity and you NEVER use it in laminated work.

For thousands of years blacksmiths didn't use any flux at all. Sometimes they used clay as a covering to prevent burning the metal. The Japanese sword smith still uses as special clay. Just remember clays are protectants. They do not disolve oxides like a chemicaly active flux such as borax.

-- guru Saturday, 10/16/99 15:14:56 GMT

Dear Guru,
I have been asked by a blacksmith to find a "trip hammer" or "power hammer" on the internet for him to buy. He's supposedly searched far and wide for one but hasn't found one. I don't know the first thing about this hammer, what it looks like, or blacksmith-related subjects in general. I was wondering if you could tell me where to find one. Thank you.

Isaac -- Isaac9876 at Saturday, 10/16/99 17:51:13 GMT

Isaac, THIS IS THE PLACE! Our advertisers include Kayne and Son who make the "BIG BLU", Firedesign who makes the "BULL" and Centaur Forge who sells "Kuhn". These are all small air hammers. Then there is Bruce Wallace who sells used machines such as Bradley and Little Giant. Then there are advertisments on the "Virtual Hammer-In"

Go to our Power hammer Page for a list of manufacturers or the top of this page for Bruce Wallace.

-- guru Saturday, 10/16/99 18:54:15 GMT

Pin and String oval layout. The distance between the pins is the square root of desired length squared less the desired width squared [((length^2)-(width^2))^(1/2)]. The length of the string is the sum of the desired length and the distance between the pins [length+pin distance]. Hope this helps.

Rob. Curry -- curry at Saturday, 10/16/99 19:38:35 GMT

Rob, Thanks, I just posted a diagram and program on the 21st Century page (not yet available as the graphic is buggy - fixing now). Funny, we both get there roughly the same way but I started with old area parameters (a = h/2 and b = w/2) and then come back to the answer.


-- guru Saturday, 10/16/99 19:57:40 GMT

43 year old construction (utility) worker. I have always wanted to know the proper way of installing handles on mattocks, eye hole hoes, picks, etc. The last mattock I did I used oxy-fuel to heat steel before driving it on. Has worked so far but I was never taught the right way and thought that a blacksmith would know.

Thank you for your time.

Larry Maddox

Larry Maddox -- johngalt at Sunday, 10/17/99 00:58:25 GMT

HANDLES: Larry, There are good ways and better ways and some new "patent" methods that I don't fully understand. I'll tell you how I do it then will will see how many opinions there are!

There are two basic types of eyes. Tapered adz-eye type and straight type.

The tapered type just need a good fit and are not wedged. These are designed to come off easily so that the tool can be dressed in a forge and the handle replaced without damaging it. These are common on pick-axes and heavy adzes.

Straight eyes vary from absolutely straight to having a slight taper from both ends (from punching and not drifting). Both are fitted the same way but the tapered type is handled a little differently.

All hammer and ax handles should be a good clear grade of ash, hickory or white oak that is as dry as possible. The best are split out of the log so that they run perfectly parallel to the grain. The layers or rings should run perpendicular to the direction of the force.

For straight holes the fit should be just a little over sized and have some extra length. The end should be tapered to start smoothly and a wedge slit sawed perpendicular to the grain about 2/3 of the length. The handle is then pressed in. An arbor press works great but we almost always end up using a hammer or mallet.

After pressing in the handle a hardwood wedge about 1/4 the eye width is hammered in. I like to put carpenters glue on mine. At this point the extra handle and wedge are sticking out of the eye. If it is more than 1/4" (7mm) I saw off the extra with a hacksaw. Then a steel wedge is made that is about half the width of the eye and 1/8" (3mm) thick. I make my own with barbed corners so that it doesn't back out. The steel wedge is now driven in perpendicular to the wood wedge and the remaining handle and wedges sawed flush to the tool with a hacksaw. Ax eyes may take two steel wedges. When I have scraps of walnut I make my wood wedges out of that. It makes a nice contrast to the handle wood.

Straight eyes with double taper require careful fitting of the "seat" on the handle side. The wooden wedge for these generaly needs to be 1/2 the width of the eye. Otherwise the assembly is the same. Many modern makers now use epoxy fill to make a tight fit using a thinner wedge that doesn't expand the handle to fit. I do not have any of these and do not know how they hold up or how much trouble it is to rehandle them.

Some tools come with a sharp edge at the handle end of the eye. These should be radiused before refitting a new handle.

LOOSE HANDLES: It is common for blacksmiths to soak there hammers in the slack tub when the handles start getting loose. We all know it is wrong but we all do it just the same. I've had good luck soaking the handle in boiled linseed oil. The oil also causes the wood to swell like the water but it does not dry out so easily so it is a more permanent fix.

A TRUE CRAFTSPERSON will rework their handle to fit their hand. Some like more half round handles and others like octagon. I've never had complaints about factory handles but when I make my own from scratch they are much different. Some smiths char the wood and then scrap it to remove the chared wood. This makes it easier to scrap AND hardens the wood.

A GOOD WINTER TASK Perhaps on a snowy day, is to clean, sand, tighten and revarnish or oil ALL your tool handles. Everything from shovels and rakes down to set tools and punches. In my shop this can take from several days to a week! But then you are ready for the comming year and will have the satifaction that your tools will be ready when you need them.

-- guru Sunday, 10/17/99 16:31:56 GMT

How can I taper a two inch pipe down to a one inch pipe?

Tannis -- celtoi at Sunday, 10/17/99 21:17:47 GMT

Guru, I've had good luck keeping my hammer handles tight by soaking them in antifreeze. I left my hammer in the truck with the windows rolled up in July. the head almost fell off the handle. I gave it the antifreeze treatment, and just as a test I let it in the truck several days. It stayed tight.

kid -- n/a Sunday, 10/17/99 22:37:17 GMT

Hi I'm located in Massachusetts and am trying to find someone that would be able to design and manufacture doors for the entrance to a wine cellar, who could I contact?

Lori -- lori_a_willi at Sunday, 10/17/99 23:32:53 GMT

PIPE FORGING: Tannis, This is done in a "V" block on the anvil or on the edge of a swage block. It helps to have a healthy radius on the leading side. Forging a taper the heated pipe is rested in the "V" with a slight angle and then struck lightly from a mirror (equal) angle. This is an upsetting process making the wall of the pipe thicker as the diameter decreases. Quick rapid blows as you rotate the pipe is best. If you need a short taper with significant angle a die with a tapered hole could be made. However, this would not be cost effective unless you plan on making dozens of pipe tapers.

I've seen some beautiful spindles with large changes in cross section forged in pipe. The smaller sections were forged down to a solid section. The advavantage is a lighter weight product. Although it is currently popular to make "squashed" shapes out of pipe some classical and intresting forms can be forged from pipe.

-- guru Monday, 10/18/99 01:48:19 GMT

ANTIFREEZE: Kid, Yep, that works too. Also useful on stake anvil stumps to keep them from shrinking too much and cracking. I don't use it because after years of being an auto mechanic I don't like the slightest hint of that sickly sweet taste or the feel of it on my hands.

-- guru Monday, 10/18/99 01:51:52 GMT

Lori, Go to the ABANA web site and then Chapter Contacts. Call the local chapter and they will fix you up with a number of folks if you haven't already been contacted by one of our readers. :) Anyone capable of the job will have a portfolio of work to show you. Ask for references.

-- guru Monday, 10/18/99 01:57:52 GMT

Guru,having a problem with a newly acquired propane forge. Simply put, it will not heat iron above a red/orange. The forge is fire brick lined with six atmospheric burners through a slot in the bottom which is covered with a

peter -- pstaples at Monday, 10/18/99 04:10:44 GMT

Sorry about the two part question-computer said it was illegal and shut down! ...covered with a

peter -- pstaples at Monday, 10/18/99 04:27:35 GMT

Consarned thing!!! Obviously doesn't like my question cause it refuses to post it. Is there another way?

peter -- pstaples at Monday, 10/18/99 04:33:29 GMT

Peter, Its something wrong on your end (the posting). Firewall or something. .?? Is it a commercial forge or home-built? Is it being used with the regulator provided? What size propane tank? Send e-mail to:

guru at

-- guru Monday, 10/18/99 17:24:15 GMT


I know that your biggest reason for not lining forges is the chance of moisture collecting between forge and liner.
As my forge has cracked twice now(and not from getting wet while hot) I was thinking of making a liner out a suitible material, but making it so it can be removed as one piece. I want to do this to protect my forge, but still keep the moving weight down.

Now this all seems fairlt simple and straight-forward, but is there something I am not seeing here?

Ralph -- ralphd at Monday, 10/18/99 20:04:11 GMT

I am a student at the University of Maine, Orono. The past few years I have been taking Celtic Mythology classes. As you know the Kells are renound for their metalworking. The myths and ledgends of the ear hint at a mystical power associated with the blacksmith. I was wondering if you could point me to any information about hte ancient hisroty or origins of blacksmithing. Any information would be very helpfull, thank you very much.

Darleen DiGiuseppe -- darleen.digiuseppe at Monday, 10/18/99 20:27:30 GMT

Ralph, I'm not sure what you have going on. Bad firepots? All the firepots I've seen that were cracked were from gross overheating. But these come out obviously BURNT. Another problem could be a cast iron pot bolted too tightly into a steel forge. There is not much difference in thermal expansion but there is a huge difference in cooling rates and strength. The simplest solution is to replace the cast iron pot with one of fabricated steel or ductile iron.

Are we talking big cast-iron forge or just the fire pot? Most big old cast iron forges need some insulation and can be lined with a layer of sand or ash. Split refractory brick works too. I've got a huge old R-R type forge that was lined with full thickness bricks. . . It has a two foot diameter hole rusted out in the middle! Rusted under the bricks.

Stainless would seem a good choice but it has a very high coeficient of thermal expansion and a low coefficient of conductivity. This means it warps a LOT and should never be bolted ridgidly to other materials.

There has been a refractory mix posted here several times (above again) that contains vermiculite. This should lighten the mix. The concrete should bond to the forge (for a while) and prevent entrapping moisture.

REFRACTORY Here's the do-it-your-self castable refractory/mix from Jim Lindsay:

4 parts premixed concrete
4 parts fire clay (available at masonary supplies)
1 part vermiculite.

Be sure to let dry (as long as possible, several days - week) and bring up the heat slowly on first use.

-- guru Monday, 10/18/99 20:45:09 GMT

MYSTICAL POWERS: Darleen, All us blacksmiths from the old sod have mystical powers. . . mostly we know how to make whiskey, money and women dissapear!

Try this link St. Dunstan

-- guru Monday, 10/18/99 22:02:31 GMT

Oooops It is not a cast firepot, but it is an old pan forge, also called a rivitters forge by many folks. I am not sure if it is cast iron or cast steel. Any Idea on that? It is one of the lever action belt drive blowers. Once I can get a more permanit shop and can have a non-portable forge, this one will have to do.

Ralph -- ralphd at Monday, 10/18/99 22:04:59 GMT

how is one able to create traditional japanese katanas?

Jahn -- jahn at Monday, 10/18/99 23:08:45 GMT

As a basement/backyard hobbyist I would like to find some step by step instructions on making various sizes of metal rings out of mild steel rod or wire. What tools are available, or can be made, for this process? There are many projects I'd like to make as gifts that utilize metal rings in their construction. Thanks for your help.

Elmbrook -- ECarter102 at Tuesday, 10/19/99 00:40:17 GMT

Ralph, That's a pressed steel pan and it is suffering from metal fatigue. Every time you work the lever that thin pan is flexing somewhere and fatigueing the metal. Old age has caught up with it. For some reason some steel is much more suseptable to this than others. Claying this type forge only adds to the weight and deflection.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/19/99 02:08:07 GMT

RINGS: Elmbrook, There are several ways. In low to medium production rings are bent by wrapping bar stock around an arbor made of round bar or pipe. As many turns as can be handled are wrapped and then the coil is removed from the arbor. A saw such as a hack-saw can be used to split the rings apart. If the wire is small like for mail it can be cut with heavy wire or bolt cutters.

Larger rings can be bent on bending jigs (a short arbor) - See our articles on benders on the 21st Century Page. Ring arbors are made very similarly.

Tire benders with three rolls can roll rings starting as small as about 18" (500mm). Small sheet metal slip rolls have grooves for rolling wire up to 1/8" (3mm) in diameter.

If all else fails, outfits like King Supply sell rings of various sizes.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/19/99 02:25:18 GMT

KATANA: Jahn, Simple, study then art of Japanese sword making for a lifetime.

There are some very good books on knife and sword making. Call Centaur Forge or Norm Larson for a catalog (see article on getting started). After a few years of study (a doctorate in metalurgy wouldn't hurt) look up Bill Fiorni. Bill has been studying under a Japanese Master in Japan and can be found doing demonstrations at Blacksmithing events somewhere almost every weekend.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/19/99 02:33:33 GMT

I went to Caniron and I caught the demonstration by Richard Sheppard. Do you have any idea on how I might contact him? Thank you very much.

KEVIN C. Tuesday, 10/19/99 02:35:38 GMT

Thanks Guru, I was afraid that might have been the case. Well I guess I will just have to build a forge.

Ralph -- ralphd at Tuesday, 10/19/99 04:59:37 GMT

I know Richard Sheppard
He is In Bruceton Mills WV 26525
but I don't know his PH#

glenn -- ridgart at Tuesday, 10/19/99 13:29:22 GMT

I have a wrought iron railing on my outside porch that is rusting (bad in some areas). What suggestions do you have on repairing and maintaining the rail?


Fred Smiley -- fsmiley at Tuesday, 10/19/99 14:43:16 GMT

I am interested in making an EXTREMELY primitive forge using mainly homemade materials and construction. I was wondering if you could give me any information, or tell me anyone who could help me construct a medieval style furnace on a very limited budget as a project. Any help appreciated.

Kris Askew -- Rdwarfer at Tuesday, 10/19/99 14:45:55 GMT

How primative do you want to go? A hole in the ground and a friend to blow into a hollowed out reed or bamboo wpould be about as primative as you can get.

Or you could build a wooden box(open on the top) line with dirt or clay, have an air pipe come in from the side and attach a bellows or blower to it.

ralph -- ralphd at Tuesday, 10/19/99 15:24:29 GMT

hello mr. guru, my experience is very limited however i have served an apprenticeship with the boilermakers in local 193 in baltimore,md. I'm not sure what category my question would fall into chemisry or metallurgy.At what point may we call an alloy an element? How does one discern the difference between an alloy and an element? How does ionization affect the properties of some metals? ie Hg,Ag,Au,Cu,U,H,He and deuterium and tritium-How closely related are lithium and tritium.Why do some universities offer degrees in mining engineering and others metalurgical engineering? What is the difference between chrome,stainless steel,low carbon steel, high carbon steel and try to leave the heat factor out and Oxygen? I have a box of rocks at my house and one of the rocks is said to be bauxite.Now i know i can get some aluminium out of it but can i get any uranium and how much? Keep in mind I'm just a dumb confused boilermaker trying to sort through this mess and try to explain things to other people without contradicting the nuclear scientists and the chemistry professors and theories. Sincerely confused,Frederick Callis

Frederick Callis -- tsmith2 at Tuesday, 10/19/99 15:57:01 GMT

Frederick, The complete answers to all your questions are a complete secondary science education or better.

Alloys are mixtures of metals which are elements. Alloys are not compounds because the metals do not form an atomic bond. Chemical analysis is required to identify any element or metal or alloy.

Lithium is the lightest metal. Tritium is a isotope of Hydrogen.

Universities give degrees in programs they decide to teach.

Chrome is a metalic element. The most common stainless steel is an alloy of Iron, Chrome and Nickle with a little Manganese and Silicon.

Carbon steel is Iron plus Carbon. Low carbon steels have less than .30% carbon. There is some debate about when "high" carbon starts but .70% and up sounds good to me. A few very high carbon steels have more than 1% carbon. Over 2% is cast-iron.

Aluminium smelting is done with a resistance electric furnace. Before the "electric" age there was no aluminium metal. One rock would be difficult to process and it would depend on the grade of ore. Uranium comes from Uranium ores such as pitchblende.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/19/99 18:58:03 GMT

PRIMITIVE FORGE: Kris, Ralph summed up a range of about 2,000 years of historical development of the forge, but he is right. A forge is nothing more than a convienient holder for the fire and fuel where you provide a blast of air to increase the temperature of the fire.

One of the most primitive modern forge designs is the Brake Drum forge. This uses an automobile or truck brake drum as a fire pot and some odd plumbing parts and whatever blower you can find. I've built several at a cost of $0. The one on the plans page can be built for less than $100 if you bought everything except the brake drum new. There is a link from there to an article about one I built years ago. It looks nothing like the plans, but it worked. Sometimes "cheap" is determined by your imagination and ability to scrounge. The same design can be applied to a end bell off a water heater tank if you have access to welding and cutting equipment.

THEN There is my article on the 21st Century page, Blacksmith of 1776. It describes the construction of one of the types of forges Ralph mentions.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/19/99 19:24:00 GMT

RUSTING RAIL: Fred, See my article Rusting and its Prevention on the 21st Century page. If the rail is not an antique in an historical district - sandblast, zinc powder prime (cold galvanizing), neutral prime (red oxide) and then apply a weather proof top coat. If you are in an historical district you may not be permitted to sand blast the rail even though it is the BEST preparation. In that case scrape and wire brush off as much of the rust and paint as possible. Use Naval Jelly or phosphoric acid (Ospho) to finish the process (this may help to remove paint too). Then paint as above.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/19/99 19:34:05 GMT

dear Guru,
I have been in the striking tool industry for 18 years in the manufacturing side. We manufacture axes, sledges, wedges and picks of all types. Our heatt-treating process for all tools with a striking face pretty much guarantees 50-52 Rc with a grain size of 7 or better. We use 1060 and 1070 mat'l. What are the pros and cons to having fine grain in a striking tool?

John Martin -- jmartin at Tuesday, 10/19/99 21:53:08 GMT

I am looking for plans to build a gas forge( atmospheric).. can you help.

What is the pro's and con's between atmospheric forge and electric gas forge (squrriel cage blower).

Thank you. Signed, Confused

Ben -- bove at Wednesday, 10/20/99 01:55:48 GMT

An annoucement!

Anvilfire will soon have two new pages. a Product review page and a Rogues Gallery. The Rogues Gallery will consist of pictures of the Anvilfire regulars, including pictures of any one that demonstrates
in costume. Here's your chance for your picture to be seen all over the world! (grin)

Send scanned photos and permission to use them to:

guru at


Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 10/20/99 03:30:12 GMT

GAS FORGES: Ben, The dissadvantages to a blown forge are that they are noisy (very distinct roar) and they require electricity. However, truck or portable models can run off 12VDC. They are sometimes trickier to light. The advantage is that the burner is absolutely simple to build and they almost always work (see our plans page and article about the 10 Minute Forge). You also need only ONE burner for a large forge.

Atmospheric forges are very quiet (a muffled roar) and do not require electricity making them very portable. They require one burner per about 1/2 cubic foot volume so multiple burners are required for a large forge. The burners are not complicated to build but they ARE tricker to get a proper operating balance.

Building a gas forge is not complicated but it can be dangerous. Mixing gas and air and hoping you have the right mixture and volume before you light it can lead to a big surprise! Home built gas burning devices may also put your homeowner's insurance at risk. . .

For about twice what raw materials cost you can purchase a small comercial gas forge that is thouroughly debugged and safe to use. We have a review of NC-TOOL's Whisper Momma and Whisper Baby in progress that will be posted in a few days. Early results are that you can be up and running in 30 minutes from the time the UPS man drops off the box!

Currently most of anvilfire's advertisers carry or manufacture gas forges. Bruce Wallace carries NC-TOOL, Kayne and Son carry NC-TOOL, Centaur Forge carries NC-TOOL, Mankel and Johnson. Firedesign (makers of the BULL hammer) manufacture a nice heavy duty forge of their own.

-- guru Wednesday, 10/20/99 15:07:14 GMT


Make that 18 minutes for the Whisper Baby!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 10/20/99 16:58:50 GMT

help! i need a blower-type thing!:) If anyone has a blower they want to get rid of contact me. Or, if you have an old vacuum you don't need, contact me! Please? my hairdryers keep burning out!


scotsman -- albagobragh99 at Wednesday, 10/20/99 22:43:02 GMT

I have been looking for an anvil and have located two in my area which I will be considering for purchase this Sat 10/23/99. They are both in a local scrap yard. My question is this: Is it fair to offer the current price per pound of scrap steel, and if so can you give me an idea of the current price per pound in the Northeast part of the U.S. ?
Also, I am in the process of constructing a coal fired forge and would like to know with regards to a blower: How many cfm of air should the blower be moving. How much is too little, How much is too much ?
Thank You,
Mark Suchocki

Mark Suchocki -- dilligaf at Wednesday, 10/20/99 23:34:24 GMT

Hello, is tempering a knife at home possible and how would a person go about doing something like that
Thank you

Ray -- Waxnever at Thursday, 10/21/99 00:36:33 GMT

Hello, is tempering a knife at home possible and how would a person go about doing something like that
Thank you

Ray -- Waxnever at Thursday, 10/21/99 00:41:20 GMT

Does anyone know anything about the 300 pound anvil for $300. that Grizzley just started selling?

Tom Black -- vango at Thursday, 10/21/99 01:48:48 GMT

Tom, You can't make anything other than a cast iron door stop for $1/pound. The cheapest new anvils sell for $4/lb and the highest $7/lb. Look at my posting of 10/04/99 above. Those are cast iron anvil shaped door stops being sold to the uneducated. Then read our anvil series on the 21st Century page.

-- guru Thursday, 10/21/99 02:59:26 GMT

SCRAP YARD ANVILS: Mark, The guy at the yard knows old anvils have been selling for $1/pound since the 1950's. Once in a while you can get them for half of that if someone is desparate to get rid of one or it is in bad shape. Today good used anvils sell for $2/lb to $3/lb from tailgaters at blacksmithing meets. Its a FAIR price. I'd rather pay $3/lb for a Peter Wright or a Hay-Budden than $5/lb for a new Peddinghaus. I paid 32c/lb for my first anvil and a little over $1/lb for my last at auction but that was over 20 years ago.

Current scrap iron prices are depressed because of the Southeast Asian economy. They were offering as little as 1c/lb put still selling at 10c/lb. But like I said, The guy will know anvils are worth more. Haggle, you might get lucky.

-- guru Thursday, 10/21/99 03:12:38 GMT

Mark, missed your CFM question. 150-175 will run a small brake drum forge but you may need up to 500 CFM (controlled) for a big forge.

-- guru Thursday, 10/21/99 03:15:27 GMT

TEMPERING KNIFE: Ray, Yes it is possible to do in a small shop. However, the entire heattreating process includes hardening and tempering. Hardening requires a forge or furnace capable of 2,000 degrees F and a quenching tank for oil or water. Tempering requires practice or a temperature controlled furnace in the 300-1500 degree F range. One of the most important things to know is the type of steel. Various steels are heattreated differently. If you don't know the steel type then you need a sample to destructive test. This is really a subject that needs to be studied before you jump into it.

-- guru Thursday, 10/21/99 03:24:43 GMT

I have just started blacksmithing and made a dagger. For quenching I used oil and it worked fine. Now I am making a sword and was wondering if a salt water quench would work or would it shatter the steel. I am using 1095 steel. Thanks

Jason Gonzales -- clenny at Thursday, 10/21/99 06:41:53 GMT

My neighbor is a Blacksmith , The question is for him. He would like to know the best way to forge weld. Or where to get information on it. The books he has really don't go into detail on the subject. I hope this doesn't bother you in anyway.
Thank You
Robert Francisco

Robert Francisco -- frisco89 at Thursday, 10/21/99 10:35:10 GMT

Forge Welding is a low tech proces. It was invented when the earth was flat, there was more than one god, there where no molecules and to measure temperature you touched something or looked at it or smelled it burning. So to forge weld you heat up a piece of iron, pray to your favorite god, and when it sounds right looks right, smells right, take it out of the fire and hit it hard enough to weld it. If that doesnt work do something different and pay attention.

John Careatti -- john.careatti at Thursday, 10/21/99 11:51:08 GMT

BTW to harden and temper use a similar process

John Careatti -- john.careatti at Thursday, 10/21/99 11:53:37 GMT

Forge welding is a simple process. Keep the metal CLEAN take the metal up to a good read heat, wire brush, flux with borax (just sprinke it on so it melts, not big globs) put the metal back in the fire, take it up to welding temp (Yellow heat) just short of sparking, you must be on a rising heat, take the metal out, quickly sling off the melted flux and junk on the way to the anvil, place the two (or more) pieces together and gently tap them with the hammer to get them to stick. Wire brush the joint, flux, return to the fire and bring the whole joint back up to welding temp, let the heat soak through and through THIS IS IMPORTANT. take the metal out and hammer a little harder and start to work the joint together. Do not hammer much below welding heat and repeat the process until finished.

If the metal is too hot and you hit too hard, the semi molten metal will cause the the pieces to "skate" on each other and you will never get them to weld.
To get constant welds, practice, practice, practice. He will get the hang of it. USE A CLEAN FIRE!!

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Thursday, 10/21/99 13:45:53 GMT

Sorry, in the above post, "read" should be "red" heat

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Thursday, 10/21/99 13:49:49 GMT

I bought my first gas forge about 15 years ago. It was an atmospheric NC Whisper Deluxe. The advantage of an atmospheric forge over one with a blower is noise. A friend has a blower forge and it sounds like a small jet taking off. I have relined my Whisper Deluxe twice and it gets used almost everyday. Some might argue you could build a better gas forge or a coal forge is better, my shop has both. Coal is good, but you can't beat a gas forge for production work. For me it's much easier to buy a gas forge off the shelf then to build one. No down time for R&D, take it out of the box and put it to work. When my gas forges need relining the parts are available. Once again not much down time. When I needed a larger forge for production work all these factor went into my thoughts. I bought another NC forge. It was shipped that day, at the shop a few days later and put to work making money.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 10/21/99 14:22:03 GMT

Good point about the ease and speed of use on a commercially bought gas forge. But(isn't there always a but!) for those of us who do not operate a commercial shop, a home built forge is often the only way we will get a gas forge. Now if I could convince my wife that a NC-Tools forge was absolutely required.....

ralph douglass -- ralphd at Thursday, 10/21/99 14:45:22 GMT

Guru or Grandpa: Do you know of a source for small quantities of pure wrought iron or malleable iron. I am interested in making a small quantity of pattern welded steel using wrought iron and 1095 or possible an alloy tool steel with wrought iron. Wanted the wrought in the mix for flexibility and toughness as I was hoping to harden it and either not draw tenper at all or just a little. Stock to be used for some small fixed blade knives small hunters and maybe a whittler or carving knife. I also wanted to try sone carving gouges and wood chisels with laminated steel. Thanks for any help. P.S. I know this will be a lot of work especially since I dont have a power hammer.

Jeff DeGraff

Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Thursday, 10/21/99 15:15:41 GMT

NC-TOOL Forges: Ralph, Bruce (formerly "Dirt Burner" who sneared at us "gassers") is feeding several hungry power hammers. The commercial forges are also safer than home built and that is hard to put a price on. Bruce is also a little a little biased these days as he is one of the newest dealers of NC-TOOL forges.

Here's the link to Jim Wilson's review. We have another comming up of the Whisper Baby and then a comparison review which will take more time. Whisper Momma - Product Review

WROUGHT IRON: Jeff, Grandpa will sell you some at $1/pound plus shipping. Its a good deal and worth ordering enough to make it worth HIS while. The stock is from an old bridge and will need considerable working to be sized for your use. Good time to invite some friends over to be strikers!

-- guru Thursday, 10/21/99 15:32:12 GMT

Yeah that is another good point Guru, Safety! Still tring to talk the wife into a commercial forge, maybe the safety card should be played.
Tho some of the home-builts I have seen and used are as safe in their constuction. Of course some of the crowd I hang out with believe in overkill too!

Ralph -- ralphd at Thursday, 10/21/99 16:24:20 GMT

Ralph, I have seen a lot of nice home built gas forges that work fine. When I needed another larger forge, I had given some thought on building my own. I couldn't afford the time, so I bought another NC. If you have the time to build a forge it might be the way to go. My old forge has given me 15 years of great service. In my option, that's a good return on my original investment.

I might be a little bias but $ for $ NC seemed to be the best buy. I owned my NC forges before I offering them for sale. In the long run, a bought gas forge might be less expensive then you think. We take pride in offering everything we sell at discount prices. Our goal is to keep blacksmithing affordable to everyone one who has an interest.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 10/21/99 17:24:10 GMT

Just read the John Careatti outburst. Amen to that!

Olle Andersson -- ut Thursday, 10/21/99 18:30:33 GMT

If you Know anything about old -fashioned bellows please send me some info

Thomas -- szafarek at Thursday, 10/21/99 18:56:00 GMT

Thomas, Look on our 21st Century page.

Olle, I keep telling people its an art. Youe have to WANT it and then practice until you are good! John summed it up better than I ever did.

John, I'm going to quote your ". .since the Earth was flat. ."

-- guru Thursday, 10/21/99 19:10:16 GMT

Dear Guru et al.
Have you ever heard of a machine that bores holes by using a bit that is heated? The hole in question is about 3/16" dia. and 15" long in a piece of 1/2" round steel. I doubted such a machine existed but a friend of mine claims it does and that the equipment is made in America. I dont know a lot about machining process so I thought I would run this by you.

David White -- dwhite at Thursday, 10/21/99 19:15:46 GMT

Dear Guru et al.
Have you ever heard of a machine that bores holes by using a bit that is heated? The hole in question is about 3/16" dia. and 15" long in a piece of 1/2" round steel. I doubted such a machine existed but a friend of mine claims it does and that the equipment is made in America. I dont know a lot about machining process so I thought I would run this by you.

David White -- dwhite at Thursday, 10/21/99 19:16:45 GMT

This is a great site. I am interested in making about a 2' sculpture using mokume techniques. Robb Gunter said that german silver gives off a muddy color, with brass and copper. He suggested monel copper. My questions are- with all the copper scraps I have how do I run some tests on melting point. Or rather do I want the melting point. Do I fuse the materials at a certain temperture below melting point. In other words what the dickens do I do. I saw an article in the Farriers ANVIL magazine which was very good except which coppers, which brass and what german silver do I use? I have ordered a book on Damascus steel for techniques for patterns.

Sherri Riggs -- Donkeypete at Thursday, 10/21/99 19:59:42 GMT

I give up!!! (on my back with my paws in the air!) I was not tring to say don't buy. I was just commenting that for some of us, at the beginning of our forgeing road, it is not possible to come up with the cost of a factory build tool. So we make our own. But I a sure as I get more $ to spend on tooling I will want to get a forge that was factory built! ANd a pwr hammer and a .... hmmmmm too many toys, not enough $$$

I just wanted to let you know that I am not against it, just I can not afford it, and I am sure other folks are in the same boat.

Ralph -- ralphd at Thursday, 10/21/99 20:46:51 GMT

Ralph, I understand completely.
MOKUME GANE: Sherri, Check out There is a nice description of the process and a link to the author's workshop handout (which is as much as I know about the process).

Damascus techniques only translate as far as pattern development but the welding techniques are much different.

Melting points of the metals and alloys you speak of are published in numerous metals references including MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and The ASM Metals Reference Book. From what I understand, you heat to just below the melting point of the lowest melting alloy. Good temperature controls are critical.

A CHEAT: Primitive work similar to mokume-gane can be produced with copper sheet, brazing rod or silver solder and an oxyacetylene torch. Fold the copper accordian style and then fill in the V's with the lighter metal.

-- guru Thursday, 10/21/99 21:32:52 GMT

I'm looking for wire mesh or screening for a fireplace screen. Where can I buy small quantities at a good price??

Fred Eberly -- freberly at Thursday, 10/21/99 22:19:31 GMT

Ralph, Don't take what I'm saying the wrong way. I'm not against anyone building a forge. I would have built my own forge if I had the time too.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 10/22/99 00:59:51 GMT

I know you sell pwr hammers and all, but you are on the East coast. Do you have any clues as to pwr hammers for sell on the West coast?

Ralph -- ralphd at Friday, 10/22/99 02:16:37 GMT

Has anybody ever heard of Lafitte welding flux and where is it available ?.It is supposed to be the best stuff for the job.

Conrad -- blacksmith at Friday, 10/22/99 06:04:08 GMT

Guru: Grandpa's wrought iron at $1 a pound sounds like a good price what is his email address so I can contact him about quantity and details?

Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Friday, 10/22/99 11:20:53 GMT

Conrad: It's been out of production for many years.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 10/22/99 11:21:56 GMT

Ollie-Thanks for the amen brother. My intention is to encourage those taking up this craft to view it with a non-technical lense. Our beliefs determine our behaviors (and designs) If we believe in hi tech we get hi tech. If we believe in magic we get magic (guru-art?) Forge welding is magic. There is as much magic in a weld that misses as one that sticks. I dont know the god Lafitte.

John Careatti -- john.careatti at Friday, 10/22/99 11:37:42 GMT

Guru: One other question on wrought iron identification. I have read in a couple of places Bealers book and others that rusted wrought iron has a very apparent grain. After combing local scrap metal dealers yard and looking over many pieces of old farm machinery even several horse drawn implements and old wagon tires and bands could find none with apparent grain many with pits like mild steel gets after sitting around for a century or so. Am I just blind or is grain not that easy to make out or am I just looking at later equipment made after switch to mild steel?

Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Friday, 10/22/99 11:44:03 GMT

FINALLY! Posted the last 3 Bill Epps iForge demos! We now have over six months of weekly demos posted!

Jeff, Steel has been made in bulk by the Bessemer process since before the U.S. Civil War. Wrought was still in production and used for many items where it was believed that it was a better material to use than mild steel. Best method for detecting grain is to cut a piece half through with a saw and then break it the rest of the way. Should be difficult to break but sime will near the cut. The spark test can also be used but it is sometimes hard to distinguish between very low carbon steel and wrought. A lot depends on the grinder (grit/speed).

-- guru Friday, 10/22/99 13:06:05 GMT

There is a lot of magic in blacksmithing. Does that make it "black magic"? :) Art and magic both require something of one's spirit. I'll let you Philosophers take it from here. . .

-- guru Friday, 10/22/99 13:09:29 GMT

Ralph, You have to look and be a detective. Ask around, beat all leads until you hit a dead, don't give up and keep looking. Put the word out your looking for a hammer, one might find you. I'm trying find a buyer for a 3CH Chambersburg in California. I know of 2 Nazel hammers near LA sitting outside in a scrap yard. It's my option the owner wants to much. They aren't worth much more then scrap because they have been outside too long, the rams a very badly rusted

Hammers are where you find them. I don't mean to sound smart, but you can find them where you wouldn't think of looking. I know of a 100# Chamberburg Utility that found it's way to from Breyer Ice Cream in Philadelphia to California. Who would guess you could find a hammer in an Ice Cream Factory? There seems to be just as many hammers out west.

Here's a for instance or lead. I was channel surfing, the other night and there was a story about Evil Kanevil. They where showing his home town. In the picture was a Chambersburg Utility hammer sitting outside at an old mill. I didn't catch the town's name but It's somewhere out west. If I needed a hammer and lived out that way you could beat I'd be trying to find the owner. it might not be for sale but you don't know until you try. Chances are I wasn't the only one to see the TV program. The hammer might already be gone if the owner was willing to sell.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 10/22/99 14:11:55 GMT

Guru et all. A question or two on weathervanes. I am building one as a charatible donation to our new library (my first weathervane) and I have questions. What do you suggest for bearings on the wind arrow (it will weigh over 50#), I think its too heavy for St. Francis' bicycle pedal bearing, and I think the ball bearing in a pipe with rounded shaft end it too wonkie, I am thinking of using some sort of radial ball bearing lashup, any suggestions are appreciated. Also, Are there any guidelines for where on the wind arrow the shaft should be, I have a book that explaines it, but its in german with lots of big words (like kuggleslag mit sauerkraut) and I no speakie. By "where" I mean is there a ratio so it will always point into the wind, or am I making all this too complicated.

Tim Pilcher -- leepil at Friday, 10/22/99 16:11:20 GMT

Weather Vanes:

As I remember from my days with the National Association of Rocketry (yes, I've gone from Space Age model rockets to Viking age longships), the key to aerodynamic stability is that the center of gravity (CG)has to be in front of the center of pressure (CP). Center of gravity is merely the balance point. Center of pressure can be generally determined by making a profile cardboard cutout and finding its balance point. All of this is premised upon the fins at the back being of lighter material than the head and the rest of the shaft. If you cut a straight profile out of 1/4 " steel, the CG and the CP will be identical, and it won't work. Correctives are to apply more weight to the head (lead, arrow point out of 3/4' steel, etc.), moving the CG forward, or increase the tail area using lighter stock ("feathers" out of 12 ga. steel, aluminum, etc.) which moves the CP backwards. For model rockets the ratio was at least one body diameter. For a weather vane, I would think 5% would be OK. However, the more, the better. Just don't put the CP in front of the CG or you will need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing!

Finally, a question within one of my areas of expertise.

Still stuck in Nashville, TN, on the banks of the Cumberland. Gotta study for the exam tomorrow, after I log out of here.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking: (cASE Sensitive)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 10/22/99 20:42:02 GMT

I am a college student and have no experience with metal working. Hopefully I am going to change that. I have started having a great interest in making candlesticks (some w/glass parts). I have no idea where to start, what is the correct metal to use or the correct tools to use. I have a limited budget and limited resources but I really want to start on what I feel will become a great hobby. I have a few sketches of what I want to make. If you could recommend materials or places where I could get information on such craft work I would appreciate it.

Shameen -- shameen at Friday, 10/22/99 22:33:09 GMT

Shameen, For the type of work you are intrested in doing I highly recommend Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork It not only covers all the basics it is full of inspirational ideas.

To be more specific, You could use any metal you want from gold to titanium. Most common is "mild steel", you buy it from steel suppliers and it comes in bars from 3/16" (5mm) square up to . . well TOO big.

Tools vary with the material but almost ALL metals can be worked between hammer and anvil. See our article Getting Started. Almost all colleges and Universitys have some type of metals courses. All first semester machinists curricula include some real basic techniques including forging a chisel, drilling holes, a little welding. Sculpture classes sometimes include metal sculpture and jewlery courses include using torches for welding and brazing. You may be closer to what you are looking for than you think.

-- guru Saturday, 10/23/99 02:10:02 GMT

WEATHER VANE: 50#???? Thats HEAVY unless its ging to be HUGE. Maybe 6 to 10 feet (2.4M) long. The key to a weather vanes sensitivity is being light weight and balanced. To simplify Bruce's aerodynamics, the big end points away from the wind and the part should be mechanicaly balanced.

I like a slender tube with a bronze plug in the end. The bearing is a hard point on the end of a steel shaft. If the vane is acurately balanced the bottom of the tube should rarely contact the rod. If you want to go high tech you can get stainless steel ball bearings down to 3/8" (9.5mm).

Most large weather vanes are hollow and made from thin copper sheet. To prevent bimetalic corrosion problems use all copper and brass.

-- guru Saturday, 10/23/99 02:27:36 GMT

Guru and others-I have two questions. First, I broke a threaded, screw-in bolt flush with a metal surface. I have tried "easy" outs (the bits broke inside the bolt), cutting a notch to try to screw out the shank (that failed), and drilling out the shank (after three hours, I know I must be doing something wrong, probably using drill bits which are softer than the metal of the shank I'm trying to remove).

What is the best way to solve this problem? If I try tapping a thread (left-handed), and then screwing in a left-handed bolt, will that work? Or will I put internal pressure against the threads of the bolt-hole, and make it very hard to screw out the shank with the broken head? Alternatively, if I "just" drill out the bolt, what is the best way to go? I don't have a drill press, and the bolt metal is hard (grade 5 at least). What kind of bits should I use (the bolt is Metric 8 1.25x22mm)? Finally, assuming I want to use the same bolt to replace the one I drill out, what is the best next step--to tap new threads, or to use a helicoil? With a helicoil, do I have to buy a kit, or do I--should I make sure to buy an oversize bit, and then somehow just screw the helicoil in? Thanks--hope this isn't too dumb a question here; it's my first visit to your site.
Question 2--Is there any way to become a professional metalworker if one is over 40? Sorry--doubtlessly this question is probably the stupidest one you hear 80 times a day. I love metal working. I wish I could rebuild engines or do sheetmetal work on cars or boats or restore metal works of art, but I don't even know how to weld or use a lathe. Having a (hobby) shop is out of the question in San Francisco--I can't even find a garage within hundreds of miles for less than $100 a month. Do people still accept apprentices--volunteers? And if so, what skills should I have before offering to volunteer to help out a professional metalworker? I guess it's a hopeless dream, but thanks. This site and these questions are like smelling freshly cut grass after breathing smog for thirty years.

Matt Diggory -- diggorym at Saturday, 10/23/99 03:08:07 GMT


hjj Saturday, 10/23/99 04:17:06 GMT

Hello: I am a novice at metal work and have a question. I recently purchased an old steel work table that I want to turn into a dining room table, but it is rusted and dirty 1)what is the best way to get the rust off to get back to a natural steel grey look (sandblast, chemicals, sand?) 2) Once I get it back to this natural state, what can I put on it to keep it in this state so it doesn't rust out again, keeps the beautiful grey steel color, and is not oily or paint?
Thank you from a novice
Troy Miller
TMM at

Troy Miller -- TMM at Saturday, 10/23/99 04:35:34 GMT

I was wondering if their were any schools in the Milwaukee Wisconsin
area that teaches blacksmithing, because I'am intested to learn more about the craft that I so dearly love I have been doning for about five years now and I want to learn more.

thank you for your time

Robert Hartling Jr.

Robert Hartling -- rhartling at Saturday, 10/23/99 06:55:33 GMT

Robert, I do not know of any. However, you should contact your loacal ABANA (Artists Blacksmiths of North America) chapter. The hold workshops and "open forges" at established shops, where for the cost of membership and maybe some materials you can get lessons. You can also learn a lot that is applicable from your local trade school or community college. Basic machinist and metalworking courses apply to blacksmithing as much as anything else. See my article on Getting Started posted on anvilfire. The iForge page has several dozen step by step projects in an informal format taken from our Wednesday night demos on the Slack-Tub Pub.

ABANA's web site is at:

Go to chapters, then contacts and look for the nearest location.

-- guru Saturday, 10/23/99 14:05:08 GMT

NATURAL STATE of IRON: Is rust. Look at all the red clay in the Southeastern U.S. That's rust! In most iron ore its dark grey or dark grey with a little redishness. Fresh forged or rolled iron/steel is covered by a covering of anhyrous (without water) iron oxide called scale. Scale is formed well above 1500 degrees F (red hot and up) in the presense of oxygen in the air.

Sandblasting etches the surface giving it significant "tooth" which is great for holding paint. It is not as smooth as the original surface and the texture will show through thin paint. The color is a flat very light grey.

Naval jelly will remove the rust and some of the original scale leaving a rust free whitish surface. This should be rinsed and neutralized before painting. See the article Rust and its Prevention on the 21st Century page.

-- guru Saturday, 10/23/99 14:15:13 GMT

2 QUESTIONS: Matt, Removing broken bolts is one of those frustrating taks that even the professional cringes at. Your first problem is probaly the electric drill you are using. All small drills sold in department and hardware stores turn too fast to drill steel except with the smallest bits (1/8", 3/16" 3mm, 5mm). Even then if you do not apply a lot of pressure the bit will still burn up. Any time the drill bit is rubbing and not making chips it is wearing out.

The next question is, "What material is the screw threaded into". In cast iron exhaust manifolds and such where the bolt is rusted in it almost always requires heating the part to a dull red, letting it cool and trying the easy-out again. Lots of penetrating oil should be applied before and after.

In soft materials such as aluminium or zinc your original approach is best. Once botched it is really hard to do anything. Small drills, sharp chisles and much gnashing of teeth. The high tech method is to use EDM (Electrical Discharg Machining) to disolve the bolt or put a clean hole in it to try a bigger easy-out. Many machine shops have small EDM "bolt burners".

I cannot really advise your quest for a job in metal working other than to follow your dream. Patient skilled workers with good craftmanship are in demand everywhere. Botchers and scrapers are not worth minimum wage and that is the majority of metal workers looking for work. Read, study and practice. You can learn to use a file properly in your kitchen. A chisle takes a vise to hold the work steady. See my responses above about how to get started.

-- guru Saturday, 10/23/99 15:03:15 GMT

I have just purchased my first anvil and would like to know if you can give me as much information about it as possible.
It is stamped FISHER on the front at the base. At the rear is a date of 1890, just above the date are two numbers the one to the left is smaller than the other, they are 9 10 . The anvil measures from horn to heel 25 1/2 in. the face has a width of 4 1/2 in. and the hight from the base to the top of the face is 11 1/2 in. There is a 1 in. hardy hole and a 1/2 in pritchel hole , also there is a square hole below the horn which I estimate to be 3/4 in. After lifting it I would guess the weight to be somewhere around 150 lb. There is also the image of what I believe to be an eagle stamped in one side though it is somewhat difficult to make out.
I am especially interested in knowing the weight of this anvil, but any other info you can offer will be appreciated.
Thank You,

Mark Suchocki -- dilligaf at Saturday, 10/23/99 17:34:38 GMT

I have inherited a Peter Wright anvil #3 that weighs about 200 lbs. and the condition is good. I also have a cone about 34" high l0 " at base and 2 1/2" at top and is l/2 to 5/8" thick in excellent condition. And about 24 tools, some fit in anvil and others are swedges and cutters, etc. I also have 8" in diameter hand cranked wrench which weighs about l35# and cranks from the top. It can be mounted on a floor or a frame. It had l/2" cable on it. In very good condition, along with two shivs used in a blacksmith shop. I am wondering how to ascertain a fair price for these items. Can you help me please? Thanks. Paul

paul metzger -- pmetzger at Saturday, 10/23/99 20:44:33 GMT

Mark, You have a Fisher-Norris "Eagle" anvil. The Fisher was the first production anvil in the US. They are a composite anvil made of cast iron with a tool steel face. The face is put on "in the mold" as part of the casting process. If it is sound they are a good anvil but if the face separates from the body they are not repairable. Some people like them because they are quieter than wrought anvils. Folks either love them or hate them. I can't remember how the weight is marked but on cast anvils it is usualy cast in and rounded of to the nearest 10 pounds. Your guess sounds about right for the size.

-- guru Saturday, 10/23/99 21:00:04 GMT

Paul, Prices vary like crazy on these type items. If you are looking to sell then Ebay will get you the highest prices. If you need a general appraisal for estate purposes send me a detailed list and I'll get you close to fair market price.

The anvil is worth two to three dollars a pound, the cone about $300 or more, the small tools $5-$25 each depending on their usefulness. The winch is hard to tell. May not be worth the hauling.

-- guru Saturday, 10/23/99 21:08:24 GMT

I used some coiled springs to let my apprentice practice hardening and tempering. One of them cracked and we broke it off with a hammer. The thing had small purple crystals outside and large silver ones inside. I hardened one later and snapped it, this time I had all purple crystals. I have NEVER seen this before. Has anyone ever seen or heard about it. If not I will just anneal in the fire overnight and hope for the best.

tannis -- celtoi at Saturday, 10/23/99 23:24:10 GMT

I used some coiled springs to let my apprentice practice hardening and tempering. One of them cracked and we broke it off with a hammer. The thing had small purple crystals outside and large silver ones inside. I hardened one later and snapped it, this time I had all purple crystals. I have NEVER seen this before. Has anyone ever seen or heard about it. If not I will just anneal in the fire overnight and hope for the best.

tannis -- celtoi at Saturday, 10/23/99 23:25:47 GMT

Guru, I'm a retired old Mech. Engineer who has time to putter and dabble in many things. I puchased a portable forge which consists of a steel (not cast iron) 10 or 12 ga. pan approx. 20 in. dia. by 3in. deep. It has a cast iron plate in the center about 6 in. dia. Air is introduced by way of a cast iron tube which runs from the center to a hand cranked blower which mounts to the side. My question is: Do I need to line this pan with something to protect it from the heat of the coal fire, and if so, what? This setup will not be used often or for long periods of time. There has just been a time or two when I wanted to bend or work a piece of steel that resists cold working. I have a 100# anvil, some hardies, tongs and hammers which I collected as an old tool collector. I have made a couple hooked knives using a hole in the ground to soften the old saw blades for easy shaping and a Mapp gas torch to harden them. Annealing was done in my oven at 525 deg. Now I'd like to be able to use my forge. Some of my hardies which won't fit the hole in the anvil and I would like to heat them to re-size them. Someone used a hot cut hardy as a chisel so the end is mushroomed. I want to fix that. This gives you an idea of what I'm about at this point in time; mostly just playing trying to learn something along the way with an interest in the way the ol' timers did things. I've done it with the old wood workers tools. Once in a while it would be nice to be able to make a little part to fix a broken one. However it's no catastrophy if I fail. Thanks for listening. I appreciate any light you can shed on the subject.

Gene Caulfield -- gaylewc at Sunday, 10/24/99 02:50:02 GMT

I'm an experienced welder and cutter,i make my living as a welding inspector and ndt technician.I want to build a coal fired forge,everythingon your site seems to be gas fired.i hav some large diameter pipe i was planning to use to hold firebrick,and force air from the bottom or side ,my thinkng was to build a chamber below and pressurize it with a blower ,pipe the air to the fire thru gaps in the bricks ,the clinkers could then be dropped thru the gaps into the lower chamber which would have a cleanout.any info on this would be greatly appreciated.

joe shelbaer -- shelbaer at Sunday, 10/24/99 16:23:38 GMT

Are leaf-springs for cars and trucks heat-treated or left as rolled? I have the equipment to heat treat long springs, itīs just that the originals Iīm thinking of copying seems to soft to be hardened at all. (An auto mechanic I asked didnīt have a clue.)

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Sunday, 10/24/99 18:17:52 GMT

BTW, Joe, a coal (or charcoal) fired forge can be built in many ways and yours would work, but I think you`ll need some form of tuyere or clinker-breaker. Depending on the coal the bottom of a firepit can become quite messy, especially at welding heat with flux added.

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Sunday, 10/24/99 19:39:32 GMT

I was reviewing some of the past postings and saw your comment re- Galvaneel. I don't know the technical process for it, but we used it at Eastman Kodak Co. for sheetmetal ductwork, etc. because it doesn't rust like plain sheetmetal. My memory is foggy, but I seem to remember being told Galvaneel is a phosphate coating which inhibits rusting while producing a material which can be soldered and welded easily; and through its manufacturing process results in a uniform thickness, gray coating on the sheetmetal, slightly rough to the touch, looking nothing like galvanized steel.

Gene Caulfield -- gaylewc at Sunday, 10/24/99 21:57:46 GMT

I was reviewing some of the past postings and saw your comment re- Galvaneel. I don't know the technical process for it, but we used it at Eastman Kodak Co. for sheetmetal ductwork, etc. because it doesn't rust like plain sheetmetal. My memory is foggy, but I seem to remember being told Galvaneel is a phosphate coating which inhibits rusting while producing a material which can be soldered and welded easily; and through its manufacturing process results in a uniform thickness, gray coating on the sheetmetal, slightly rough to the touch, looking nothing like galvanized steel.

Gene Caulfield -- gaylewc at Sunday, 10/24/99 21:57:47 GMT

I was reviewing some of the past postings and saw your comment re- Galvaneel. I don't know the technical process for it, but we used it at Eastman Kodak Co. for sheetmetal ductwork, etc. because it doesn't rust like plain sheetmetal. My memory is foggy, but I seem to remember being told Galvaneel is a phosphate coating which inhibits rusting while producing a material which can be soldered and welded easily; and through its manufacturing process results in a uniform thickness, gray coating on the sheetmetal, slightly rough to the touch, looking nothing like galvanized steel.

Gene Caulfield -- gaylewc at Sunday, 10/24/99 21:57:48 GMT

All: Francis Whitaker died Saturday 10:00 pm cst. Tenative memorial at
Colorado Rocky Mountain School , Carbondale, CO tuesday Oct 26 at 3:00 pm.

He will be missed by all who knew him.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 10/24/99 22:47:54 GMT

If you are able to preheat, a small stick of beeswax applied to hot part will sometimes help. sometimes a plate with a same size hole as the bolt/stud may be welded to then a means of turning fastened onto may work

geno Monday, 10/25/99 02:42:47 GMT

How would i go about making a knife blade, or better yet, a sword?

Kyle Smith -- Thehiwaymn at Monday, 10/25/99 04:24:31 GMT

WE ARE A STONE MASONS SUPPLY HOUSE WHO IS IN NEED OF a heat treater to temper hammer heads,also re shape them to a certain extent sometimes.there is alot of potential here but i cant find anyone interested.the guy we all used for the last 50 years is just about completely retired.the hammer heads would be 3lb to 6lb..please call me.....610 544 2586..............thanks vince

vince galantino -- captncmfrt at Monday, 10/25/99 11:56:12 GMT

RE: removeing bolts; check with your welding supply ask for a rod that is used for that job (removeing bolts) don't know the name but saw it demo at a welding show.
some how it works without sticking to the sides of the hole.

So sorry to hear about Francis Whitaker's passing he will be missed.

Glenn Horr

glenn -- ridgart at Monday, 10/25/99 12:06:21 GMT

HEY FOLKS! The guru is moving his office this week so answers will be catch as catch can.

FRANCIS WHITAKER: From Alabama Forge Members with email,

Clay Spencer asked me to inform the AFC members with email
that Francis Whitaker died today(Sunday October 24, 1999).

For AFC members new to the blacksmithing community, Francis Whitaker was one of the Giants of 20th Century Blacksmithing.

Clay also asked that members who are going to send flowers consider sending a contribution to the Blacksmith Scholarship established by Francis Whitaker at the John C. Campbell Folk School in lieu of the flowers.

John C. Campbell Folk School
One Folk School Road
Brasstown, NC 28902-9603
Phone: 1-800-365-5724

-- guru Monday, 10/25/99 14:08:19 GMT

FRANCIS WHITAKER: From a message by Bert Smith, NCABANA.

It is my sad duty to inform you that Francis Whitaker died
last night (Saturday night) about 10:00 p.m. The following
quotation was from a report on his condition that was sent
to ABANA board members a few days ago:

"He has his hammer...took it to surgery with him. Everyone
understood the theory and let him take it. However in the
recovery room he started waving it around a little too much
and they stuck it under the bed for 'nurse's safety'".

It's my understanding that he had his hammer with him when
he died. That
was the way he wanted it.

Clay Spencer and I have both decided that we will make a
memorial gift to
the Francis Whitaker Scholarship Fund at the John C.
Campbell Folk School.



-- guru Monday, 10/25/99 15:51:08 GMT

Dear Guru,
I like arts and crafts and I have an idea for a product that I believe would be a very useful tool.I want to have a sample of this product made so that I can "put it to the test" because if it's good I would like to put it on the market. The product I envision contains metal dies that would stamp out (cut) various shapes and patterns from paper.My question is, how do I get connected with someone in the industry who could make this product for me? Thanks for your help

April Thomas -- HTnAT at Monday, 10/25/99 19:55:16 GMT

April-first depending on how complex this product is I would make an example-prototype from wood and plastic or even clay and then take it to a machine shop with all the dimensions and even a draft with dimensions and parts and have all the necesary parts cast and milled or whatever is necessary.If this a fairly simple product you may be able to make one from scraps of other tools {meat grinders, bottle cappers, broken tools} with just a couple welds or rivets and then just make improvements from there. Then you may want to present it too potential manufacturers. you also might want to check into getting a patent on it.

alex Monday, 10/25/99 21:51:53 GMT

April-first depending on how complex this product is I would make an example-prototype from wood and plastic or even clay and then take it to a machine shop with all the dimensions and even a draft with dimensions and parts and have all the necesary parts cast and milled or whatever is necessary.If this a fairly simple product you may be able to make one from scraps of other tools {meat grinders, bottle cappers, broken tools} with just a couple welds or rivets and then just make improvements from there. Then you may want to present it too potential manufacturers. you also might want to check into getting a patent on it.

alex Monday, 10/25/99 21:52:08 GMT

I will be ringing my anvil tommorow at 3:pm in memmory of Francis
Shall we all make this a world wide thing. I think it world be fitting

Bob Keyes -- Keyes47 at Tuesday, 10/26/99 00:23:32 GMT


Good thought. I believe I'll join you. Francis was 94 years old if I remember correctly. Sounds like a good number of rings to me.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 10/26/99 01:51:35 GMT

The anvil will be ringing loud and clear from New Zealand.
Is that 3pm Pacific or Central?

Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Tuesday, 10/26/99 05:51:33 GMT

I didn't know Francis Whitaker personally but I know of him and his work. 94 years and still swinging a hammer! God certainly blessed him. My anvil will be ringing for him too. Maybe the angels can use a good halo repairman.

Jerry Carroll -- birdlegs at Tuesday, 10/26/99 06:22:00 GMT

3 PM Colorado Time, Andrew. I believe it's Mountain time.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 10/26/99 09:25:38 GMT

Well the ringing is 2pm in Ca. I am away from my forge but I will be "tapping" on a small cast anvi I have with me. May God rest his soul.

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Tuesday, 10/26/99 13:07:42 GMT

I purchased a very unusual candle holder in New Orleans.
It is wrought iron and appears to be quite old.
I am trying to identify its age and origin. If you will send
your email address I can send a picture.
Or, perhaps you can refer me to someone else?

Tom Vinson -- tvinson at Tuesday, 10/26/99 17:41:36 GMT

NEW INVENTOR: Alex, you face the dilemma of many inventors, "How to make a prototype". You will find that a machine shop will work cheapest from detailed engineering drawing. This means an assembly drawing with the necessary cross sections showing how the device is put together, how the parts fit and with a bill of materials listing standard parts, then detail drawings of each part with dimensions, tolerances, materials and heat treating specs if necessary.

If you are unable to produce the above then you should be prepared to go to an engineer/designer that produce same. A couple thousand dollars worth of his time will still save money in the shop. Expect to pay $30-$50/hour for his time for several weeks. I do this kind of work and would expect to get paid up front and there would be no guaruntees that your invention would work of be saleable. After a couple days or a week I might be able to tell it won't work.

Inventors projects are generally considered "nuscance jobs" by all concerned. So, if you can't do it all yourself and if you don't have a considerable amount of cash to spend on R&D (I'm guessing you need $10,000, cash, up front for the prototype), then forget it. If it is something worth getting a pattent on then add $30,000 to that. ALL parties in this field are offered "part of the profits" by every inventor and they will all turn you down because there are almost never any profits.

Also be forewarned of ANYBODY that says they want inventors with inventions. What they want is YOUR money!

Sorry to be gloomy on this subject but this is the truth of the matter.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/26/99 17:43:35 GMT

CANDLE HOLDER: Tom, I might be able to help with the age if you send very good detailed photos illuminated to show color and texture. However, be forewarned that there is a LOT of fakery in the antique wrought iron business. A well made piece made from old material and suitably rusted is almost impossible to detect.

Email to guru at

-- guru Tuesday, 10/26/99 17:57:21 GMT

GALVANEEL: Thanks Gene, I looked it up in the Thomas Register because it seems to be some kind of proprietary or trade name and I couldn't find any thing on it. Phosphating is a chemical process used on new clean sheet steel to prevent it from rusting. It has nothing to do with galvanizing and is used in automotive panels prior to painting. It povides very minimal protection and is not good for parts exposed to the weather. It is often used on the parts that are finished outside but not inside and intend to be used indoors.

Still looking for it. . .

-- guru Tuesday, 10/26/99 18:06:32 GMT

My anvil will certainly be ringing.
Guru- can you give me some advice or recommend a good reference on getting int othe craft of bladesmithing?

Scott -- allegro at Tuesday, 10/26/99 18:12:25 GMT

LEAF SPRINGS: Olle, Yes they are heat treated. How hard they are left is up to the engineer and depends on the proportions of the spring. Thick heavy springs tend to be softer than thin springs.

Note that ALL steel has the same springyness. Hard steel can be flexed further before it bends but the load/deflection ratio is the same up until the soft spring deforms or the hard spring breaks. All springs under load take a "set", or creap to the shape they are stressed to. Hard material resists creep more than soft.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/26/99 18:15:36 GMT

COAL FORGE: Joe, there are several coal forges on anvilfire. Look on the plans page. The "Brake Drum" forge is a beginners project but all the basics are there for a larger forge or one built by someone with a higher skill level than the plans require.

Your idea, while it sounds like it may work would produce a very large fire. Blacksmith's forges blow air through a single hole sometimes with a small grate. This provides a small concentrated fire. However, the fire tends to spread and much "fire tending" is the reduction of the fire by sprinkling on water or stacking on fresh coal to coke down over the expanded fire (which also tends to smother it somewhat). Sorry my response took so long, I've been moving my office (still in process).

-- guru Tuesday, 10/26/99 18:25:27 GMT

LINING FORGE: Gene, No lining is required unless you build a huge fire (welding heavy materials). The entire coal bed does not burn and the thin metal tends to dissapate extra heat.

When you dress those hardies and such you should bring the whole tool up to heat (slightly above a red) and plan on completely heat treating afterwards.

Heat treating consists of normalizing (often skipped - similar to annealing), hardening and tempering (and ocassionaly repeated tempering). The temperature you heated the saw blades to is a tempering teperature. Annealing requires a red heat (slightly above the non-magnetic point) and then slow cooling.

-- guru Tuesday, 10/26/99 18:35:46 GMT

KNIFE ans SWORD MAKING: Scott Etal., There are many very good references on bladesmithing. See the addresses in Getting Started at the top of this page and order the catalogs from Centaur Forge and Norm Larson. Any book by Jim Hrisoulas is worth having. His video (see our review on the Bookshelf) is a little long but still informative. Then there is our link to on the links page as well as other knife and sword sites.

Pickup any book on the subject, read it and then come back to us (you WILL have questions). Others here may have specific books they like (my favorite is out of print :( ).

-- guru Tuesday, 10/26/99 18:51:03 GMT

i want to build a small gas forge.i have all the stuff exept the "wool".kaowool or insowool.but as i live in a small place in mexico there is no way to buy it.
know anybody a source where they are able to shipp it to mexico?
i wrote to the kirkpatricks valley forge two weeks ago but have no anser.
thanks for any suggetion

stefan -- eugster at Tuesday, 10/26/99 19:35:47 GMT

Hello Guro! Heres the basics so you know where im coming from.... Im 15 years old, i like roleplaying games and i am interested in simple blacksmithing. I wish to creat small, not fancy, items for Renn fests and the like. Question: If i buy an anvil, hammer, iron, and heat the iron in coals of a fire, then beat on the iron until i get the hang of it, will i accomplish anything? I have no intention of making this a profession, nor using any elaborate tools or torches. I simply cannot go to a metal working class right now. Thanks for your time!

Corey -- sircorkus at Tuesday, 10/26/99 20:01:54 GMT

whta kind of acid is recommender for etching, would muriatic acid work for etching steel blades? i have a gallon jug in my garage and wondered, also would it work on damascus? thanks

alex bender -- klownsrbad at Tuesday, 10/26/99 20:11:15 GMT

whta kind of acid is recommender for etching, would muriatic acid work for etching steel blades? i have a gallon jug in my garage and wondered, also would it work on damascus? thanks

alex bender -- klownsrbad at Tuesday, 10/26/99 20:11:27 GMT

TEENAGE BLACKSMITH: Cory, I was about your age when I started collecting blacksmithing tools. Yes, "Just doing it" is a good way to learn. Your most important tool is your mind, second is an anvil. The rest can be improvised. Avoid cast iron anvils (see my post with picthure on the 4th of this month). The brake drum forge is a good starter forge unless you can afford a commercial forge (good tools can't be beat). Read the Getting Started article (top of page) and modify my plan to suit yourself. If you can learn by reading (some folks can't) then the books mentioned will take you a long way.

A word of warning. Forging is like any other hand skill. It is frustrating at first but is MUCH easier with practice. Avoid a lot of pain and frustration by purchasing stock close to the size of your finished product. If you have trouble we will try to help.

-- guru Wednesday, 10/27/99 02:03:49 GMT

ETCHING: Alex, That works but is relatively slow. The stuff they sell at a popular radio and electronics supply store for etching circuit boards works well.

-- guru Wednesday, 10/27/99 02:22:38 GMT

guru and everyone/ANYONE!
I can't seem to get my metal hot doesn't even reach forging temperatures! Here's what i do tell me what i'm doing wrong please...i light the fire..let it coke up...get a layer of coke down then set the piece down...theni put coke on top of that....i crank the blower for a LONG amount of time....and it still doesn't heat up the metal...this has only happend today every other time i have had it work well! Please tell me what's wrong..i'm using charcoal...but i've lways used can most likely catch me on the pub tonight..or any other night for that matter....

thank you

scotsman -- albagobragh99 at Wednesday, 10/27/99 19:43:21 GMT

Hi there, I am writing a kids' book in which a blacksmith is featured. This is set in medieval times (circa 800AD). I need to know some of the things that a smith might be making as a daily chore. Are they shoeing horses at this stage? Would the smith be making knives? Spears? Iron spoons? Thanks so much.

Janice -- mystery at Wednesday, 10/27/99 19:51:50 GMT

What is your fuel??? If you are making coke then you are using coal, but you said you are using charcoal. Is it real charcoal and not the BBQ type? If it is real or it is coal then it sounds as if you are not getting the proper airblast to the fire. Check to see if there are any leaks or obstructions in the airway.
Just my 2 cents.


ralph -- ralphd at Wednesday, 10/27/99 20:14:14 GMT

He wasn't a giant,
But he stood tall.

He wasn't big,
But he made other men small.

He was a master,
With time for an apprentice.

To teach the apprentice,
The magic of iron.

To show him the beauty,
Of red hot steel.

He was Francis.

At 3:00 PM Mountain Standard Time,
All over the world.

Anvils began to ring.
94 measured strokes.

In Canada,
In New Zealand,
In California,
In Arizona,
In Texas,
In Oregon,
In Virginia,
In North Carolina,
In South Carolina,
In Alabama,
And in Florida.

In many other places as well.
The anvils rang.
94 measured stokes.
One for each year of his life.

Saying farewell.
To a Master.

Copyright #© 1999 Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 10/27/99 22:59:32 GMT

Janice; Early Medieval Blacksmithing:

Kevin Hall (Tyrell) has generously republished my four part article on "Blacksmithing in the Viking Age" on Tyrell's Smithcraft Page at The four parts cover tools, techniques, swords and source books. It's a general once-over, but it will lead you to some more questions, and I have some more resources for you.

Horse shoes were known, but were not yet common. Knives, spears, spoons and axes, wood and stone working tools (mostly wood in this period), everyday utensils from needles to anchors... If it was used and it was iron, the smith made it. (With the exception of swords and fine armor, which were on the cutting edge of the technology, and would have been done by specialists.)

If you're in the Mid-Atlantic or visiting that area anytime soon, I'd be glad to demonstrate and share sources. In the meantime you can check out the Camp Fenby pages and BGOP Spring Fling in the Anvilfire News to look at some of our work.

Go viking: (cASE sENSITIVE)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 10/28/99 03:05:10 GMT

Bob Keys,

Your idea about ringing the anvil was great! I mentioned it on the Virtual Hammerin, the Slack Tub Pub, and the Virtual Junkyard. The poem that's just above here was part of the result.

Thank you for having the idea and for saying something about it. You had world wide influence that time!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 10/28/99 11:19:55 GMT

PawPaw is right. I was honored to take part in a tribute to a great smith. Thank you for thinking it up and telling us about it.

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Thursday, 10/28/99 13:17:43 GMT

i'm an artist working in steel, copper, and glass. i am making a sculpture that i need to raise 15 feet in the air. it is on a steep slope. i have heard of a crane called a "Flying Crane", but have never seen one. i think that this might be a good tool for the job.

does anybody have designs or pictures of one, or know where to find some?


bart trickel -- barton at Thursday, 10/28/99 16:27:50 GMT

We trying to find a source for tapered steel tubing. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks.

Peter Sweeney -- metalmagic at Thursday, 10/28/99 17:52:10 GMT

Bart, A flying crane is a heavy lifting helicopter. It could do the job but I wouldn't want to pay the bill. I guess you could build one but that would even be more expensive.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 10/28/99 18:38:36 GMT

I have finished building my forge and have bought an anvil. I now need to find a blower for the forge. I wish to use a hand crank blower
and have not been able to locate one as yet. If anyone reading this has one please contact me at the e-mail address below. My question is: Is there a manufacturer producing manual blower's today , if so could you send me the address?
Thank You,

Mark Suchocki -- dilligaf at Thursday, 10/28/99 22:55:15 GMT

I have been looking on the web for some sketches for simple ornamental hardware items to build as unique holiday gifts (but beyond hooks). I have been smithing off and on for about a year. I know most processes but yet to master welding consistently. Could you point me to a good spot for them on line? Thank you.

William Hunley -- whunley at Friday, 10/29/99 01:58:40 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am writing a history of Salisbury Township in Lancastrer County. There were two tilthammer forges hear in the 1770's and i have not been ablr to find information on the tilthammers. Is there a diagam somewhere? Our library doesn't seem to have anything. I hope you can help me. thank you very much
Joan Lorenz

Joan M. Lorenz -- jlhr2 at Friday, 10/29/99 12:15:52 GMT


There are no manufacturers of hand crank (manual) forge blowers anymore. The last one I'm aware of was Allsop (?) which copied the Buffalo Silent 200. The best thing is to look around at flea markets or advertise in the paper. I have a friend that has one or two for sale. I'll pass your e-mail address along to him.

Phil -- rosche at Friday, 10/29/99 12:17:18 GMT

TILTHAMMERS: Joan, Look for the book Pioneer Ironworks. Its aboutabout the ironworks at Saugus Mass that has been restored. There are also similar ironworks in England. When I get home today I'll try to find more specific references. If you look on our links page toward the bottom there are links to the two National Parks (Saugus and Hopewell) Key words to look up:

Ironworks 18th Century
Helve Hammer
Hopewell Village

-- guru Friday, 10/29/99 13:00:38 GMT

SMALL ITEMS: William, Look on our iForge page.

TAPERED TUBING: Peter, I believe it is all custom made by uers. Brass musical insturment builders use their own custom drawing benches to make theirs. If you can use thin wall like in a horn I can send you a link.

CRANES: Bart, Truck mounted or self propelled cranes have trremoundous reach. If there is a road within 100-200 feet of your sculpture site then a regular crane will only cost you a couple thousand dollars for a full day. Heavy lift helicopters start at that per/hour with huge minimums. In most parts of the country only military equipment is available and getting their cooperation is a whole different problem. 15ft in the air is a job for a rigging crew and hand equipment.

-- guru Friday, 10/29/99 13:15:16 GMT

MEDIEVAL BLACKSMITHING: Janice, Atli has covered the subect well, however there is one point to keep in mind. Up until relatively modern times iron was as valuable as many "precious" metals, It was used sparingly and only where its properties were better than other metals. Yes and iron spoon COULD be made but poor people would use wood, the rich silver. Iron was used primarily for tools, weapons and armor. The big decorative hinges used in castles were not there to be pretty but to armor the door. Later when iron was a little more common and where there was a significant middle class you would see more common items made of iron.

Shoeing horses was common from sometime BC but only for militaryt purposes. The Roman legions had shod horses because they traveled on paved roads.

The value and the position certain metals held in society has changed greatly over the years. During the bronze age iron was the rarest of known metals. When the Washington Monument was built it was topped with a little cap of the most valuable metal of the time, aluminium! Today that cap (a protective tip for when lightening strikes) has been replaced by one of platinium.

-- guru Friday, 10/29/99 13:31:30 GMT

A few years (or more :o ) I picked up a bar of ATS 34 to make some knifes out of. I have long since lost the particulars on this steel and I can't find a reference to it in the ATSM metals reference book that I have. I beleave it is a stainless steel aloy from Japan. Any info on working heats and the process for hardning and tepmering would be appreciated. Thanks a lot.

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Friday, 10/29/99 13:32:13 GMT

i am looking for the recipe for the concrete used in the blacksmiths forge boxes. i know it withstood tremendous heat and very durable.
can you help allen

allen barby -- abarby at Friday, 10/29/99 16:27:46 GMT

Mark S. Your e mail don't work from here, but I have several hand crank blowers sitting around the shop, I am in Central Oregon
Email me if interrested.

Tim -- leepil at Friday, 10/29/99 16:43:57 GMT


Glad you joined in! Where are you located?

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 10/29/99 18:33:12 GMT

I assume you are refering to the anvil ringing. I am in So. Cal. My forge is in Riverside and I work in Long Beach. I have a small cast anvil here at work and when things get slow, I might just squeze in a little blacksmithing.

OBTW!! I answered my own question about ATS 34.
It is the same as 154-CM I found it in Jim Hrisoulas book "The complete bladesmith" Page 25. I will quote it:
154-CM is a very good stainless steel that will benefit from the same subzero quench as used for the 440-C. it is one of the most difficult steels to forge as it does not seem to move under that hammer. 154-CM has the following characteristics:
Carbon: 1.05%
Chromium: 14%
Manganese: .50%
Molydbenum: 4%
Silicon: .30%
Wear resistance: high
Toughness: medium
Red hardness: high
Distortion in heat-treating: medium
Forging: 1,800 to 1950 deg F
Austenite forging: yes
Quench: oil
Tempering: 350 to 500 deg F
Rc hardness: 62 to 56

It looks like I have a tiger by the tail with this stuff. I was going to use stock removal with this stock but I think I will try to forge it anyway. Thanks for your time.

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Friday, 10/29/99 19:30:45 GMT

REFRACTORY CEMENT: Allen, The key ingredient is "fire clay". This is a refractory (high temperature) clay that results from having a high concentration of aluminia (a form of aluminium oxide). It can be purchased from foundry suppliers. However, you are best off to purchase "castable" refractory from the same source. It is a tested mixture of fireclay and portland cement and a few other ingreadiants usualy including some silica sand and coarse porus material like ground fire brick (vitrified fireclay with air spaces). It is the most inexpensive of the high temperature refractories.

Please note: Other clays and sands are NOT high temperature resistant and cannot be substituted.

-- guru Friday, 10/29/99 21:37:02 GMT

Does anyone have a source for square head lag bolts? I'm sure this has probably been answered many times, but I can't seem to find it now that I need it. Thanks.


Dan Jennings -- danshammer at Saturday, 10/30/99 04:18:03 GMT

Dan, You won't like the answer. Unless someone of us has a small stock of old hardware to sell you they are generaly not available. You CAN however purchase them by the "barrel" as special orders ($$). Square nuts are still commonly available.

Now, if a bunch of you guys could decide on a common size you all want (say 5/16" x 1-1/4, black) then I could order a barrel. Let me know.

-- guru Saturday, 10/30/99 15:43:41 GMT

i am looking for chrome/polished diamond plate as thin as possible
for an electric guitar project and i cannot find anywhere, any ideas?

phill -- phillinspired at Sunday, 10/31/99 04:40:51 GMT

DIAMOND DECKPLATE: Phill, Diamond deckplate is avail in 16ga from steel service centers. It is available in steel and aluminium (maybe stainless too). The steel would have to be finished and plated. The aluminium could just be polished. Polished aluminium deckplate is what you see on trucks and pickup body tool chests. The problem is that metals service centers normally have a significant minimum purchase. Try Joseph T. Ryerson and Sons. They have wharehouses all over the country (Chicago, Philly) and deliver to most places.

You could also look for a truck body manufacturer or repair shop in your area.
Have you reset your clocks today? (Fall BACK one hour).

-- guru Sunday, 10/31/99 13:21:38 GMT

Yep, done that. Black as a blacksmith's.... armpit early in the afternoon in Sweden.

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Sunday, 10/31/99 18:18:21 GMT

Guru and associates:), in the process of moving things from "old shop" to the new I noticed the frame on my beautiful post vise is cracked thru. The part of the frame that supports the spindle--
apparently too much pressure was generated from the self feed at one time. Since this part is subject to pressure generated by driving the drill point into the work would just a weld or braze hold? Would I be safer to forge a couple of splices to fit on either side of the beam (the frame is I-beam)and drill for a couple of bolts? Any suggestions (practical) will be appreciated.

Jerry Carroll -- birdlegs at Sunday, 10/31/99 21:46:38 GMT

REPAIR: Jerry, I'd have to see the frame (sounds like one of those "patent" combination machines) but I suspect a braze joint would be best. These old cast iron frames do not weld very well. Weld one spot and it cracks in another.

Drilling pressure is relatively high, especially on a low speed hand turned machine. I never understood how the "spindle and feed screw" combination worked with as coarse of thread as they used. . . If it was enough pressure to break the frame then the repair needs to be as strong or stronger than the original.

-- guru Sunday, 10/31/99 22:12:48 GMT

Have seen references to jump welding in the "iforge" section. I am rather new to smithing and don't know exactly what this means. Could someone please explain. Thanks

Jim Campbell -- EchotaForg at Sunday, 10/31/99 23:08:51 GMT

Counter   Copyright © 2001 Jock Dempsey, Cummulative_Arc GSC