WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you. This is an archive of posts from October 16 - 21, 2000 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

I just bought an NC Forge whisper daddy-3 burner-forge. What is the proper amount of gas pressure to run? Thanks
Brian  <cornish at zoomnet.net> - Sunday, 10/15/00 23:28:03 GMT

What are your thoughts on bending Square tubing without the aid of a bender (Hossfeld).
Bryan Scott Absher  <bryan at pritchettbros.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 00:19:31 GMT

If you would be so kind as to tell me the age requierment to be apprintaced in blacksmithing if any. I
would vary much like that.
Evan  <icecold at 37.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 01:01:51 GMT

Have a friend that wants to use aluminum letters on an outdoor sign. What finish should be used on aluminum for outdoor durability?

slattont  <slattont at yahoo.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 02:51:25 GMT

NC-Forge: Brian, between 7 and 12 PSIG. If flames come out the front its too much. Normally gas forges like to run lean and scale a lot. It is best to run as rich as doesn't create excess flame.

High velocity transparent flame that you can't see except in low light is normal to see coming out of the openings. Lazy orange flames are way to much gas.

Just adjust until it runs right.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 03:51:09 GMT

Bending tubing: Bryan, All steel tubing needs a support fixture to keep the sides from spreading and the tube from kinking. It can be done with a hydraulic press, hand benders or others. Thin wall square that is bent in a fairly large radius can be bent on wodden fixtures.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 03:53:57 GMT

Apprenticeship: Evan, Since there are no more true apprenticeships there is no "legal" age.

In the era when apprenticeships were common there were no child labor laws. True apprenticships started at age 11-13 depending on the size of the boy. The boy was bonded by contract to the Master Smith for a period of 7 years. The boy was to work for the blacksmith in exchange for an education. An apprentice was similar to a "bondsman" a form of contractual slavery. However, the Master could be held lible if the apprentice wasn't properly trained and ready to be a Journeyman.

For several years he would tend the fire, pull the bellows and clean the shop. His first metal work would be learning how to use a file and other "bench work". An apprentice's day would start before every one else's and end after.

Today an apprentice would need to have a high school education (minimum) and probably be 18 years of age.

For a story about a Day in the Life of an apprentice see:

A day in the Life. .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 04:25:34 GMT

Aluminium: Tim, Aluminium can be anodized, either clear or in colors. This is an industrial process but many anodizers will run small lots. Any time you see aluminium that looks bare, it is probably anodized.

It can also be painted. There are special etching primers for aluminium. Anything else will probably flake off.

However, clear laquer will give some protection.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 05:19:54 GMT

guru or dg (designated guru): what is the recipe for superquench?
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Monday, 10/16/00 11:30:44 GMT


4 1/2 gallons water
5 lbs. salt
32 oz. Dawn dish soap (blue)
8 oz. Shaklee Basic I

Stir before each use
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 13:07:38 GMT

O Mighty Guru:

This might be a "which came first, the chicken or the egg" type of question.
Regarding power hammers: how does one figure the necessary floor design to support a hammer? Do I start with a particular hammer in mind and design accordingly, or 'overbuild' and hope it was enough, like for when that rare deal drops in my lap (that monster is mine if I can haul it off--hey I can dream, can't I)?
Since I have neither the floor nor the hammer, now's as good a time as any to plan ahead (...WAY ahead).
pigsmith  <pigsmith at flash.net> - Monday, 10/16/00 18:41:53 GMT

I would like to forge some eating utensils from stainless steel (sorry it is from the scrap pile so I do not know what type of stainless) for presentation to a midevial re-enactment group. What should I know about forging stainless? Other than it hammers harder than mild steel. What about the finish? How hard will it be to restore the finish to stainless after forging, how hard is it to cut/split hot etc.

Thanks for the input
Anradan  <tcanevaro at romperlandplay.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 20:24:32 GMT

Hammer Foundations: Pigsmith, There is no really good way and no pat rules. A lot depends on type of construction and soil conditions.

Small hammers (25 and 50#) can be run on most concrete pads. However there will be a lot of vibration transmitted to the building. Heavier hammers need a seperate foundation. This can vary from and above ground wooden distribution pad to a heavy sunken inertia block.

I built a wonderful shop with a plan to setup a #50 and #100 Little Giant. Two foundation pits were dug and filled with steel reinforced concrete. Meanwhile I purchased a #250 Little Giant. . . Now I have none of the LG's. I have the EC-JYH and a 350# Niles Bement. The Niles wants a subteranian (sunken) anvil foundation and the JYH is too long to fit either JG foundation. . .

IF you put in a good foundation for a hammer always make it big enough for a much larger hammer. Yoe WILL upgrade.

A dirt floor in the shop has the advantage that you don't have to cut out a hole in a concrete floor to start. . A raised wooden floor has the advantage that you can go underneith, form up a box and pour concrete flush with the floor. It might be wise to leave 4-6" to replace the floor later. The hammer could (and should) be mounted on wodden pad anyway.

Yeah, no pat answers. But some things to think about.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 23:11:58 GMT

SS: Anradan, most common stainless is 304 unless you've come across a fancy hardened shaft of some type. Work it hot. For a bright finish the scale must be ground or sanded off. The only way to really know it to try it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/16/00 23:15:50 GMT

guru: I went to the New England blacksmith's conference, and when I went to the open forge area, I noticed that all the hand cranked blowers there did not make the loud ratcheting noise that mine makes. they were much quieter. someone there suggested i pour marine grease into the gear box. what do you think?
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Monday, 10/16/00 23:40:40 GMT

Noisy Gears :( Coondogger, Noisy gears means worn out gears. Thicker oil helps but is not a cure. Bananas?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 00:43:00 GMT


Bananas? Huh? What'd I miss?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 01:13:50 GMT

Same thing your Ford starter needed. :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 02:43:29 GMT

A new solonoid?

I'm still confused.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 04:05:07 GMT

Paw Paw...bananas are a traditional used car lot repair for noisy trannie gears..stuffing them down the hole is half the fun...Pete
Pete F - Tuesday, 10/17/00 06:44:53 GMT

Anyone got any information on Hattersley and Davidson powerhammers - I have one (http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~geoff/hammer.html)
Geoff Merryweather  <geoff_m at poboxes.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 06:59:38 GMT

Most of the crooks I knew used fine sawdust.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 12:48:07 GMT

Rats! I misread Geoff's post! I thought he was asking about a Harley-Davidson hammer! (grin)

Hmmmmmm, bananas...
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 15:13:48 GMT

Ralph, Thats a "Put the hammer DOWNNNN". . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 17:58:41 GMT

How much do Harley-Davidson hammers cost? :) Remember, shiny side up!
Rob. Curry  <curryr at gat.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 18:05:35 GMT

Dear Guru,
Im a Reenactor of the 15th century from germany, for our events i would like to have a historic Forge for our events.
I'm forging since 3 years, but only since half a year i got the space to have my own (modern) Forge, so now i'd like to build a 15th century Hearth with bellows! What i need are informations what this looked like in the middle ages! A Drawing or plans ..... or just a simple description... :)


P.S.: The part of the E_mail after the at is the URL of my companys Homepage, just have a look! :)

http://www.1476-Staedtisches-Aufgebot.de (added by -guru)

Lutz Schmidt  <Lutz.Schmidt at 1476-Staedtisches-Aufgebot.de> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 18:56:12 GMT

The following two links point to another reenactors setup. Don't know if it is same time frame or not.


www.customknifedirectory.com/. . .TID=1313&SID=8691


slattont  <slattont at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 19:26:19 GMT

15th Century Blacksmithing:

Try looking at a copy of: The Pirotechnia of Vannoccio Biringuccio, ca. 1540, translated and edited by Cyril Stanley Smith and Martha Teach Gnudi; ISBN 0-486-26134-4. The forge on Tim's referenced web page looks pretty good, but I think they were still using side-by-side (twinned) bellows at that period. These can be a little tricky to operate, but flapper valves added to the fronts can prevent the intake bellow from sucking super-heated air if the blowing bellow has not pressurized a common pipe. (A gap between the bellows and the tuyere stone solves this problem on earlier models.) There's an illustration from pirotechnia of a large-scale forge at: http://www.keenjunk.com/sketchbk/bb90115b.htm.

The only other comment is to not try to smith and operate twinned bellows by yourself. It's definately a two-man operation.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come have a row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Tuesday, 10/17/00 19:52:34 GMT

I have an anvil and am curious about the value of it. On it says M & H Armitage, Mouse Hole, 1 . 1 . 9. I looked it up in the book "Anvils in America and it says it was made in Sheffield, England from 1820-1875. Please e-mail me with information about it's current market value.


Rich B.  <dumpy at telerama.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 00:03:08 GMT


To a blacksmith, depending on condition. Up to about $2.00 a pound. Roughly $300 dollars. Could be more or less, again depending on condition. A collector might pay a little more for it.

cc via e-mail
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 00:23:10 GMT

is borax by itself sufficient for use as a flux? or should it be mixed with something else. i heard that mixing it with sand is good.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 00:55:51 GMT

Flux: Coondogger, mix NOTHING with borax for normal welding. For welding high alloy steels (stainless) you need to add about 5% Flourite powder. Flourine is a more aggressive solvent than boron and can disolve the chrome oxides that would otherwise prevent a good weld.

Sand: Has been used alone as flux. So are certain clays. However, for almost every mineral or rock there is a charateristic sand. Some are suitable fluxes, others are not. Can you pick up a handful of sand and tell what it is derived from?

Borax and Flourite are minerals of known composition.

Filings: Steel filings are often included in flux recipes. I don't recommend it but many do. Do not try to use grinder swarf. It is mostly burnt iron and a lot of grinding grit. Chips from a cut-off saw are good but need to be clean and not contain alloy steel, stainless or non-ferrous material. In other words, clean the chip pan before sawing, be sure you are sawing mild steel and collect the chips before they rust or become contaminated.

Do not use fluxes containing sand or filings for making laminated steel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 01:33:43 GMT

Cast Iron Chips: For certain projects you may want cast iron chips. Grandpa suggests you ask any shop that does automotive brake work for chips from their drum turning machine.

In one of his demonstrations at Flagstaff, Grandpa was using cast iron chips melted on top of a bundle of low carbon steel plates. The idea was for the fluxed cast iron to flow between the plates and produce a billet that could be forged and relaminated to produce a type of Damascus.

Flux was plain borax.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 01:44:42 GMT

Dear Guru: I have an anvil I would like to know something about. It weighs 150 lbs. It looks like the word "Wilkinsons" is stamped on the side. Below this is the word "queens" and below that is "dud". I'm guessing a little on the "wilkinson's" as there are a couple of letters I can't quite make out for sure. What can you tell me about this anvil? Quality, value, etc. It is in good condition.
john  <rickejd at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 02:23:06 GMT


The Wilkinson anvil is English made, using the same process as the Peter Wright. It's one of the better anvils.
The word dud is probably part of Dudley, a geographical location. Value is extremely subjective, a lot depends on who's buying and who's selling. But in excellent condition, probably some where in the area of $2.00 a pound.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 14:33:25 GMT

Wilkinson Anvil: John, In Anvils in America, Richard Postman says that there were several Wilkinsons manufacturing anvils in the Dudley area of England. All were wrought iron steel faced anvils.

Joshua Wilkinson & Sons used the Queens Cross, Dudley Trademark. In the middle of the trademark there are diagonal lines representing the crossroads (or perhaps the shape of a crossroads sign). These were made from the early 1800's to late 1800's and the style varied with the times. The earliest anvils were very blocky and had pointed little feet. Later the feet and waist were more defined the feet being rounded on top. The latest were of the more modern English London pattern with squared off well defined feet and a longer horn.

Prices of old anvils vary a lot, mostly depending on who is selling and who is buying, and the condition. Rarely do collectors place any value on avils unless they are VERY old or unusual. Anvils from the mid 1800's are very common and do not qualify as "special".

Paw-Paw's price of about $2 a pound is typical but prices as low as $1 pound are still common for good anvils.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 14:47:42 GMT

What is the best way to get the black finish that is so
common on forged iron. I cannot seem to get a consistant
finish using Linseed Oil.

Jay Hisel  <jhisel at execpc.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 17:24:19 GMT

Thanks for the info on the Wilkinson anvil!
john  <rickejd at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 18:25:40 GMT

Natural Iron Finish: Jay, the natural black finish on wrought iron is the "tight" scale that results from heating, forging and descaling with a wirebrush. Any oil or wax darkens the blue grey iron oxide to a black. The uniformity of the finish is determined by the uniformity of the scale coating.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 19:17:01 GMT

Thanks guru. I've been using twenty mule team, and i guess i'll stick with it.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 19:20:26 GMT

Flux: Coondogger, there are some 'patent' fluxes that many swear by. Anti-borax is very good, Easy weld is another. I think these both have iron powder and some other fluxing ingrediant(s).

I like borax because its all I ever used, its cheap and it is also used for brazing. Laminated steel makers use it because it doesn't introduce impurities.

Throughout history most welding has probably been done with out flux. Many still weld wrought iron and mild steel without. I've made many accidental welds without flux. Stacked billets in a gas forge, overheated collars. . . Those weld without flux often find it hard to weld WITH flux!

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 19:58:11 GMT

Hi. Can you tell me what a "turtle anvil" is and where/how it was used? I've seen mention of the thing in several forums that I read, but websearching has turned up zip. I've been smithing for 20 years so get as technical as you need to.
Lee Morningstar  <alasdayr at peak.org> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 20:18:10 GMT

Turtle Anvil: Lee, Never hear of one. There is a style of European anvil that rests on four feet that might be described like that. Sorry I can't help.

Anyone else hear of a "turtle anvil"?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 22:13:52 GMT

I'm looking for a good source of plain steel in various sizes and lengths, but not finding many on the web. Anybody have any recommendations?
Jim  <freely at bbo.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 22:43:47 GMT

Guru, I've been asked this question many times but I don't know the correct answer, can you clarify ? Q: You burn anthricite in a stove to heat your home and bituminus in a forge. Why don't you burn bituminus in a stove to heat your house with ? Not that I would but I'd like to be able to answer this question correctly.
Thank You.
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 22:55:27 GMT

To all,
I was given some solid copper grounding rod and was wondering if anyone has ever forged it. any comments on how it was to work with.
Mark   <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 23:12:48 GMT

I have recently started blacksmithing with coal and wanted to know if the smoke given off by the coal was a extreme hazard to you health and if there was a way to prevent the smoke and smell of the coal since i live in a suburban neighborhood. If there is'nt could you tell me where you can find plans for building a propane forge.
Casey  <novusneo at aol.com> - Wednesday, 10/18/00 23:15:33 GMT

Mark , I work for the power co. here in Mass. and the grounding rods we use in substations are copper coated not solid though they look it , you can check by cutting off 1/2" or so on one end
Tom L  <Tjlapples at aol.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 00:26:54 GMT

I want to start to blacksmith i think it sounds extremely exiting, I wanted to know if there were any places i could go to so i can learn. I also need to know what kind of anvil is recommended along with the hammer + the other tools that have to be bought, along with a good forge for beginning, and the kind of metal that would be easy to use for beginning. Thank you all for the help. If your wondering about the name it comes from my last name, Charles Ziegelheim.


Ziggy  <WuzupCZ at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 01:56:46 GMT

Steel: Jim and Ziggy, You buy hot roll and cold roll mild steel bar from a steel supplier, wharehouse or "service center". If there is not one near you then cutting and shipping can be prohibitive. In that case check with the local welding and railing shops. Some will be glad to sell you some stock with a mark up.

However, almost no one will cut small quantities. Carry a hack saw with new blades with you unless you can carry twenty foot lengths of bar.

Some service centers have route trucks that deliver to various places. Call Joseph T. Ryerson and Sons, (Chicago, Baltimore, Charlotte).

Hot roll is cheaper than cold drawn. However many sizes are not available in hot roll so you buy those in cold drawn. Hot roll comes in 20' lengths, Cold in 12' and 20'.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 06:00:50 GMT

Hard vs Soft Coal: Mark, It depends on where you are. Locally they never stocked hard (Anthracite) coal. All the coal was soft Bituminous coal including stoker, nut and lump. Many of the older homes had coal heaters integral to the fireplace, many old buildings were heated with big "bot belly" stoves and coal furnaces WERE common. All used soft coal.

Anthracite takes a deep fire bed, is difficult to start and difficult to keep going. It doesn't work well at all in open forges but DOES work well in closed stoves where the fire bed is deeper and the heat contained.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 06:13:45 GMT

Coal Smoke: Casey, All smoke is hazardous to your health. Coal is probably the worst due to the sulfur content and high solids. You should keep your shop well ventilated and forge flue in good working condition.
Neighbors CAN be a problem burning coal, however if they burn leaves and lawn debris or use wood stoves they are poluting much worse than a hobby smith. Invite the nearest to a forge party and give a demo with samples. .

Look on our plans page for forge info. Our "stupid gas burner" page has a long list of links.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 06:20:06 GMT

Ground Rod: Mark, Yes, it is clad but it CAN be forged. It has to be heated until the copper is almost melting and then worked quickly. To make matters worse the steel itself is a peculiar grade that is difficult to work. See our last news article from the Dan Boone Hammerfest last spring for more info and examples of work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 06:27:20 GMT

Ziggy: Please check out the books reccomended in out getting started article. There are also a LOT of things to study on our 21st Century page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 06:28:59 GMT

Thanks for the info on hard v. soft coal for the stove.
I use bituminus in my forge and must travel 60 mi. to get it. I have placed an old "pot belly" stove in the shop for heat and have yet to fire it up. I can buy 60lb bags of anthricite at the local hardware store for about 1/2 the cost of my soft coal. Guess I'll have to try both in the old pot belly to see which performs better for the $$.
Thanks again,
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 08:09:02 GMT

Dear Guru
I understand that sulphur in coal harmful in forging, especiallly knives and other cutting tools. What is the
percentage of sulphur in coal that is not harmful or
is yet acceptable

Best wishes HPU
(wood coal is expencivea even in finland)
putko  <putko at rieska.oulu.fi> - Thursday, 10/19/00 11:06:53 GMT

Hard vs Soft: Mark, The soft coal is infinitely better for forge work but you CAN you the hard. However, as mentioned it takes a deep fire and continous air. Bellows or hand crank blowers wold have to be operated almost continously. Use an electric blower. The heating stove produceses its own continous draft.

In a few places in Northern VA where they were using Anthracite in boilers that were later converted or replaced some smiths had a free source of left over coal. They found that for free it was worth while to learn to use it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 15:04:21 GMT

Sulphur: Putko, The problem is more in the making of the steel than in later processing. If you have very long exposures to the coal such as in making laminated steel it may become a problem. However, in forging the sulfur will soak into the surface which you are probably grinding away.

Almost all coal contains some sulfur. If there is a limit for forging, I have never seen it published.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 15:20:55 GMT

I see many sources of "wrought iron" products but most seem to be mild steel with a "wrought iron" finish. Is true wrought iron available as a raw material?
John Boyce  <rogely at bellatlantic.net> - Thursday, 10/19/00 17:26:59 GMT


My 8 year old son chose to do a presentation on the occupation of the Blacksmith. He did some research at the community library and obtain lots of History of the pioneer blacksmith. All good information required for his presentation. However, he needs information on the present occupation of the Blacksmith. I helped him recover some information on the internet, but he need some specific answers to some of his questions:

He has to do a comparison from the pioneer Blacksmith and Today blacksmith. For example, what tool used?, blacksmith involvement in the community, what did he make (a brief job descriptin), where is the blacksmith located in the community?

Any information you can supply would be of great help. Thank you in advance.

Marisa  <marisa.aguanno at bell.ca> - Thursday, 10/19/00 17:42:24 GMT

To Guru and anyone that can help:

I need some help on what kind of forge i should use. I was thinking about using a coal forge. I need some plans for a coal forge also, if anyone can help with some plans please email me at WuzupCZ at yahoo.com

Ziggy  <WuzupCZ at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 19:16:51 GMT

To Guru and anyone else:

If youve ever seen sword in a catalog and you know how it has that perfect sheen, shine, and color to it? I was wondering how they get those swords and daggers to look that perfect, is it how they process it or something?

Ziggy - Thursday, 10/19/00 19:30:09 GMT

Wrought Iron: John, True wrought iron is no longer manufactured. One source in Britian reprocesses old wrought and rolls it into plate and bar (The Real Wrought Iron Co.). Several U.S. suppliers sell reclaimed wrought from old bridges and other sources. And one supplier sells pure iron. This is a different product as it doesn't have the slag inclusions of true wrought.

Unless you have some overpowering economic reason to use wrought then mild steel does the same job. In the case of antique reproductions they should NEVER be made from wrought. They then become fakes or forgeries.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 19:30:50 GMT

I am going to attempt to make some tools for blacksmithing out of a 3' bar of S-7. Which way would be better to work with this steel? Cut to length, cold with a band saw (or an abrasive cut off saw) or Hot cut while forging?

slattont  <slattont at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 19:50:10 GMT

S7: Tim this is some tough steel. It is air hardening and must be worked HOT but not too hot. If you overheat it the alloys seperate and the steel crumbles. Heat is slowly, do not work it cold. IF the bar is annealed I would hacksaw to length before forging. This results in the "drop" still being annealed.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 21:31:38 GMT

Guru: I don't understand, " antique reproductions should NEVER be made from wrought." Its just a material. It becomes a fake or forgery if someone puts an 1800's date on it or tells a customer that its "very old". It seems to me that to make a repro from wrought is making a truer reproduction as far as how the material moves and effects form, etc. I just don't understand that if a person wanted to make an old timey something, that he or she should not use wrought. As long as they don't go a lying about it of course. If I take the time to make something nice why in the world would I want to give credit to someone else. I say " I did that!" Now I'm not felony minded either, I don't have any idea how you could make money selling a fake hinge anyway.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 22:00:26 GMT

Shine!!: Ziggy, Many cheap catalog swords and knives are chrome plated to make them bright. However, almost all metals can be brought to a mirror finish. Blade makers start with belt grinder/sanders that even with coarse grits leave a relatively fine finish. Then they move to finer grits. Many stainless and high alloy blades are left with a "brushed" finish resulting from belt grinding.

However, after using the most reasonable fine grit (about 180), custom makers hand sand the finish with 320 grit wet-or-dry then buff with progressively finer buffing compound on a cotton wheel. Normally this is a standard black emery followed by tripoli for 'color' or a briliant finish.

See our 21st Century article "Wheels".
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 22:09:58 GMT

Guru, I had a thought. Peter Hapney(?)said once that its not that he's afraid to make a non-code stair railing for someone, but he's afraid of the lawyer that the customer sells the house to down the pike. Are you saying that once a wrought repro is out there and is not marked properly (which is the main point I guess) that said piece can become a fake? Is this why you don't like the idea?
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 22:12:47 GMT

Antiques: Pete, the are many unscrupulous dealers in the antique business. Old pieces almost never had dates on them unless they were a hand made gift of some sort. About the only way to tell an 18th century piece from a fake is by the material. The difference in price to the collector may be a thousand to one.

A good friend of mine was asked to make some reproduction 18th century chandeliers. They were beautiful, forged all over and forge welded. Then he was asked to rust them and the dealer provided the chlorox bleach method that we give here for instant rust. . . The final straw was when the dealer provided a cache of wrought iron and asked if IT could be used to make the chandeliers. There were some harsh words and that was the end of that.

The dealer had found that other more knowledgable dealers could look at his fakes and tell they were modern reproductions. They didn't have the characteristic wood grain pattern of OLD rusted wrought.

The difference in price between a genuine early piece and a reproduction is HUGE. When the intrest in Early American antiques peaked in the mid 1970's and the supply dried up dealers found they could go to France and England and bring back period (and not so period) pieces and resell them as Early American at a huge profit.

That trade continues today. Everything from early tools to fine period furniture.

The fact is museums and publications are already filled with fakes. What is going to happen to your work 20 years from now? Or next week once it leaves your hands?

I have stacks of reject hooks and odds and ends that have been laying around in ashes and on the ground.. . for over 20 years. They LOOK as old as any well kept 300 year old antique. The only way to tell is close examination of the rust patterns and lack of grain.

Living in Virginia in a 200 year old Grist mill and having taken apart older structures I have lots of samples to compare to and study. It is often difficult to tell old from recently old and rusty.

Maybe YOU can't sell that 'old' hinge but they are valuable enough in the Eastern states that they are regularly stolen from old buildings to be resold to dealers that resell them again a significant profit.

Think about it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 22:51:00 GMT

Modern vs Old Time Blacksmith: Marisa, The basic tools of the smith have not changed since the beginning of time. . Well not the BEGINNING, but the beginning of the Iron Age some 3000 to 3500 years ago. Before that was the Bronze age and many of the smiths tools were derived from that era. This means they were thousands of years in development when they were first manufactured in iron. Hammers, tongs punches and chisles of 1000 and 2000 years ago were no different than today.

However, the modern smith is not locked into the past. Many take advantage modern technology such as inert gas welders and computer guided plasma cutters. Generaly if its made for a modern welding or fabrication shop a blacksmith will make use of it.

The position of the blacksmith in society has changed greatly. For milinia blacksmiths were revered members of society. There were blacksmith gods (Thor, Hephestos). Blacksmiths were said to have healing powers, AND they were the makers of tools or essential parts for the tools of almost all other craftspeople. Their work took on the mystery of alchemy while being the most important industry next to food production.

The products of the early blacksmith are largely made in factories today. Occasionaly by industrial smiths operating huge forging machines. This relagates the modern blacksmith to being an 'artist blacksmith'. He must produce work that for which factories are not suited. Custom railings, decorative ironwork, art, sculpture and low production items that the factory cannot afford to make special tooling for.

The blacksmith has moved from being a revered central figure in every village and town to being obscure artist craftspeople that most often work alone struggling to make a living.

There are many example of modern ironwork in our news pages as well as in the reviews of the books by Dona Meilach.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 23:25:19 GMT

I live in Florida and i am wanting to make a coal forge, I probably will have to use it in the open air but i'm thinking of building a shack in my backyard if there is enough room left after the patio is put in since i'm moving. I was wondering if there are any smiths around the Boca Raton area in Florida. Should i build a shrouded forge or an unshrouded forge, it seems to me if its shrouded and has 3 walls of brick or stone that a high temperature can be achieved faster. Where can i buy a good hammer to start with that is not electric but a simple hand operated one? What i want to do is to make swords and knives along with armor. I found a page to help me with the armor making so i know about it and what things you need for armor.

Thnaks a lot gurur and everyone else!
Ziggy  <WuzupCZ at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 23:42:35 GMT

Antiques: Pete, I was working on my post while you asked another question. I DOUBT that you could be held lible for selling a reproduction that was then misrepresented as an antique. However, if you had a regular customer that wanted as many reproductions as you could make specificaly in wrought then you should be suspicious. Haveing been forewarned here you could not claim ignorance of the possibility for fraud.

The few shops that use a lot of wrought are generaly careful to stamp their name and the date on the work. However, there is still no good reason to use wrought for most reproductions. Even a repair on a very old piece should not be wrought. For historical purposes there should be a way to tell the repair from the original.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 23:47:54 GMT


Let me give you a personal example of what the guru is talking about.

A few years ago at a show, a lady asked me if I did custom work. Of course I said yes. She then asked if I had ever worked with wrought iron. Again I said yes. Then she asked if I had any wrought iron. I told her that I didn't have any at the moment, but I knew where I could get some. She then proceeded to make arrangements to meet my wife and I at our motel to show me a set of andirons that she wanted me to make a piece for.

When she brought the andirons over that evening, they proved to be of middle to late 1800's manufacture. (hand made) They had a bracket on the front of each andiron for a spit, and she wanted me to make a spit out of wrought iron. I told her that I would do so, but ONLY if I was allowed to sign and date the piece that I made. At that she climbed into her pickup and left. She had given my wife her business card that afternoon. She was an antique dealer.

Do you think she would have mis-represented the andirons when she sold them? I do.

I will not make ANYTHING in wrought iron unless I sign AND date what I make. With one exception. I've been asked to participate in the project of making a REPLICA of the Mastermyr Find Tool box. What I make for that will not be signed, but the total box will be clearly marked as a replica.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 10/19/00 23:48:36 GMT

Florida: Ziggy, contact FABA. They just had their big meet this past weekend but they have meeting every month (See www.ABANA-Chapter.com).

See our 21st Century page for a couple articles on armor making. Beware of much of the 'advice' on some of the blade forums. Many that pretend to be experts have watched too much Highlander and never made anything in their life.

Don Foggs page has some VERY good blade making information.

Start with a 2-1/2 pound hardware store hand hammer. When you have put significant wear on it (yes hammers wear out) then you will be ready for for mechanization or a bigger hammer. There is no substitute for good hand skills.

Along the way you will see enough treadle hammers and power hammers to know what you want. You might want to check out the Pettingell hammers on the Power hammer Page. These are pretty rare but you might find some around the old avaiation plants in Florida. They are not suitable for heavy forging. They were designed for sheet metal work and can be of great use to an armourer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 00:19:37 GMT

Repros: Paw-Paw, I suspect you are making those repros for a museum that would keep good records and not misrepresent the work. However, museums often sell pieces from their collections. Displays change, focus changes, curators change. . . They do not necessarily sell to other museums.

Tools that are hafted or handled can be marked inside the hole (with a little ingenuity). Tongs can be marked in the joint so that the marking doesn't show except when extended past the normal opening. Other pieces are more difficult but a single mark from a modern 1/32" (1mm) letter punch would clearly identify the pieces as modern.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 00:35:12 GMT

Hi guru! I would like to know everything about the history of anvils, and most important if they have a meaning in, for example Excalibur in an anvil over a stone! I need to know please because I have a reaserch paper due monday, but I have to give in my draft tomorow friday.
Thank you very much in advance for your immediate answer.

Ricardo Rivas  <ricariv at hotmail.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 03:04:31 GMT

Gurur and everyone else:

Last thing i need for today. I want to know if anyone had plans for a small portable coal forge about the size of a BBQ grill.

Thanks again,
Ziggy  <WuzupCZ at yahoo.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 04:21:37 GMT

I want to be able to make daggers and swords with the forge so i want to have it big enough to do that. The forge has to be small because i dont have much space in my backyard.

Ziggy  <WuzupCZ at yahoo.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 04:25:04 GMT

Can a you use coal in a BBQ and would you be able to heat dagger blades in them? I forgot this in the other post so i feel stupid with 3 consecutive posts haha

Thanks for your patience,
Ziggy  <WuzupCZ at yahoo.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 04:27:18 GMT

Anvils: Ricardo, We answer questions but do not write research papers for people or do their homework.

Anvils are as old as tool making. They existed in the stone age and as a recognizable tool in Bronze age (5,000 years ago).

Modern anvils are a deceptively sophisticed tool. The face is hardened tool steel while the body is soft steel of wrought iron. The hard face resists wear and provided resiliancy so that the energy of blows to the work is reflected back into the work making the smiths job easier. The soft body supports the brittle face and resists cracking. If the entire anvil were hard it would be suseptible to breaking in two.

Early anvils were simple blocks of iron or steel. Later they became boat shaped having a tapered point and a flat top. The round horn developed as an add-on in the 17th Century. It was one of the first specialty features providing a surface to bend horseshoes. Over time the round horn became larger and was matched by a square one on the opposite end. In the late 18th Century a square hole was added to the top of the anvil to hold tools. Over time this hole would grow larger and be known as the "hardy hole" for the upside down chisle it supported called a "hardy".

In the early 19th Century the anvil developed the familiar shape recognizable and little changed today. The British version known as the London pattern has a thin square "heal" opposite the horn. European style anvils have a round and a square horns still look much like the English style with a narrow waist. During this time a second hole was added to the face of the anvil. In European anvils it was a round hole on the opposite of the square hardy hole. In the English anvil it was a small round hole near the corner of the heal and called a "Pritchell" hole for the punch used by farriers to punch nail holes in horseshoes.
Now the problem you have is that there is no published history of anvils that covers the span of time above. Documenting your report is going to be difficult. Most encyclopedias have no article at all about anvils. If you search you might find a copy of Bealer's book. The definitive history of Anvils in America by Richard Postman is owned by about 6,000 blacksmiths world wide but is in few libraries. If you hustle and find some local blacksmiths you MIGHT find a copy. Check the ABANA-Chapter.com page for local chapters and start making phone calls. We have some technical information on anvils on our 21st Century page. Our definitive history is still in progress. . .

Excalibur and King Authur are considered by most historians to be myth. The story written over and over starting with Mallory I believe and a whole series by Anne McAffrey and Walt Disney somewhere in the middle. However, the time of the story is such that in the primitive England of the time the "anvil" may have been stone. Granite or even a meteor.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 04:33:39 GMT

Small Forge: Ziggy, have you tried our plans page or the Getting Started Article linked in bold at the top and bottom of this page? Click on the home made forge.

Sheet metal BBQ's are too thin and you will likely melt or burn out the bottom. Yes, small knives up to a short sword.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 04:37:07 GMT

I took your advise about the heat treatment,and queichin in water; and it worked.
At least the chisel is taking and holding an edge.
Thanks JIM
JIIM MOORE  <BOATBUM66 at AOL.COM> - Friday, 10/20/00 09:40:17 GMT

Do you make nail rings?
ALEXANDER  <GTEIXEIRA at MEDIAONE.NET> - Friday, 10/20/00 10:30:54 GMT

Nail Rings: Alexander, I have a special bender for making them. Why do you ask? Email me if its a business question.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 11:39:50 GMT


Not for a museum. This is an ABANA project that developed out of a discussion on THE FORGE. (I think) Jerry V. first mentioned it to me.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 14:33:36 GMT

and any who may care.
ABANA has sponsored(sorta) a blacksmith forum newsgroup(theForge) After the Flagstaff Conference several of us were talking about a group project that we can have displayed at the 2002 conference(we hope ABANA will say yes)
We decided that the Viking find at Mastermyr would be perfect. It is a toolbox full of blacksmith and carpenter tools. Currently there is about 40 or so folks across the US and Canada who are working on this reconstruction of the Mastermyr Find. Our intent is to duplicate the tools and box as near as possible to the way it was when it fell into the bog about a 1000 years ago. BUT in order to prevent it from being touted as AUTHINIC pieces we are all going to put our own makers marks on the pieces we do, plus we will have a group mark to be placed on all the pieces. After the conference we hope to have it displayed in a musuem as a replica of Viking age tools etc.
Jerry V. did I cover this correctly?
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 10/20/00 15:06:17 GMT

Marks: Ralph, Great project. As I mentioned, marks do not have to be large or too obvious to satisfy possible confusion of collectors of museums. From what I've seen of the Mastermyr find objects they are very well preserved for being aprox 1,000 years old. It would not be too hard to rust reproductions to the same condition.

Even in a project of this nature there is always the question of where it will end up in the future. Now . . ., IF you could manage to make it a state gift, say from the Ambasabor of Sweden, to the President of the United States then it would become the property of the Library of Congress OR be loaned to that President's (future) library. Since the presidential library would likely have no intrest then it would remain in the care of the Library of Congress. These gifts are cataloged and considered a part of the permanent collection.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 16:23:44 GMT


I have forged 5/8 solid copper and it moves very easily when heated. As I got closer to the shape I wanted, I began working it cold. It cold works as easy as hot steel. If you do a lot of cold work, you should anneal by heating and quenching to prevent cracking. I like the look of copper a lot and made a dagger with copper furniture. The big drawback is that it is very soft and will scratch easily. Oh, and I think the fumes might be dangerous. Use ventilation.
J Dickson  <TheIrony at worldnet.att.net> - Friday, 10/20/00 16:27:01 GMT

Just bought 150# Hay Budden for $85. Someone has removed 2/3 of face plate, and rewelded a piece of common steal(not hardened) in its place, the heel area is original face, and sits about a 1/16 above replaced face. The horn, and base are in good shape. In light of this I want to remove 3/8 off the entire face (hopefully with a large milling machine in a machine shop)then bring anvil up to heat (400 F)and weld a new hardened face plate on. The new one would be 3/8, and have the hardie, and pritchell hole cut out to match the base. Is this a resonable procedure? Will it work? Any suggestions? I am a full time working farrier in the business 24yrs trying to get a good shop anvil out of this deal.

Greg Wells  <wrangler at infomagic.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 18:00:12 GMT

Anvil Repair: Greg, Early Hay-Buddens had a wrought body with a steel face. Late Hay-Buddens had an all steel upper body welded to a mild steel or wrought base at the waist. It may make a difference in welding.

Welding a plate around the edges (or as deep as possible) will make a so-so repair. The face will not have the rebound of a solid anvil or continously welded face. That hollow 'thawk' sound an anvil makes that has a loose face will be the norm. The face will also not have the strength or resistance to cracking that a full forge weld makes. It will also be very difficult to heattreat if it is a tool steel plate.

Now. . That machining operation might be a trick. The remaining face is hardened tool steel. It IS possible to machine but VERY difficult. Normaly tool steel must be anealed prior to machining. It is also difficult to weld, requiring special manganese rods.

It will be a useful tool but not a first class anvil. Between the expense of the machining and fuel/electric/rods for welding the final results may not be worth it.

If you are going to go this route I'd reccomend machining off all the old face and welding on a heavier plate of at least 3/4" to 1". On a Hay-Budden this may mean removing the heal almost to the hardy hole. Bevel the body and plate so that the weld extends as far under the face as possible. While welding the plate may need to be brought up to a red heat several times to relax the strain.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 19:10:52 GMT

Guru: I am a begining blacksmith and hardly know anything about blacksmithing, the only problem is I can't find any schools aroud (dayton, or greenville) Ohio that teach blacksmithing or any historical places that I can vulinteer at. I was wondering if you know of any local places I can turn to, thanks.
josh bates  <baltes at skyenet.net> - Friday, 10/20/00 21:11:31 GMT


I wasn't aware of the intention to "touch" the pieces we make. I like it and am more comfortable that way. Thanks for the info!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 21:30:51 GMT

Where do I find the third hand to hold the tongs while mine are full of hammer and chisel or punch. Thanks for your assistance on my previous questions.
Brian  <cornish at zoomnet.net> - Friday, 10/20/00 21:51:14 GMT

I have an anvil that said it was made in Louisville. It weighs 127 pounds, and the face is a piece that has been forge welded on. It looks fairly new and is the London pattern. Do you have any information?
Will  <wadams at ka.net> - Friday, 10/20/00 21:58:25 GMT

OHIO: Josh, SOFA (Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil) is one of the larger ABANA Chapters. There is also the Western Reserve Blacksmiths. Check the ABANA-Chapter.com page, most of the chapters move their meetings around so ASK.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 22:33:12 GMT

Third Hand: Brian, You have to watch a pro work. . . many find ways to balance the work, they support the work in or tongs their crotch. You can use a weighted or spring tensioned hold down. Some use flat bar bent to fit aound the face and heal of the anvil, others use roller chain (timing or motor cycle chain).

A great deal of work is supported in the leg vise, some 'chisel' work is done with the pien of the hammer or on the hardy.

One of the reasons a BIG anvil (300 pounds) is nice is the large face to lay work upon. But in the end it comes to practice and experiance.

Something you must consider is that techniques in many books are based on old time work methods where there were ALWAYS helpers. That includes pumping the bellows or cranking the blower, holding work AND striking! A LOT of heavy forging was done with helpers weilding sledge hammers.

Treadle and power hammers provide a powerful third hand for most professional smiths. The work held with one hand, tooling in the other, while a foot powers the hammer or a toe engages the power.

Practice, and planning. Its too late to plan when the iron is hot. Step through each move while the iron is cold. Sometimes a clamp or pin is all that is necessary to keep work from rolling. Sometimes it is good to LET it fall so you can judge where that hot end is going to go.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/20/00 23:01:01 GMT

Ok. Writing a book. Character forges a sword with special ore....I need to keep it simple without getting into the complicated metallurgy. How did the early swordmakers make their steel....is the ore merely heated until it melts? What else is done to it? Looking for basic, simple answers if that is possible... Thanks!
Carsten  <ckroon1 at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 05:08:46 GMT


Where might i find platinum rods that are about 1/16" to 3/32" thick? I don't need them any longer than 3 or 4".
Depending on price, i'd be happy to mail someone a money order. I am looking for only a couple of these.

bri  <btutlo at aol.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 13:06:04 GMT

Ancient swordsmiths obtained their ores, natch, from secret mines, your better class of secret mine being guarded by trolls and dragons and now and then a banshee or two (in the Connaught area, especially). Ore got drug out by wretched slaves, writers of books about sword-making usually, kept working round the clock. These mystic ores were smelted--in the ore house, where else?-- in a carefully-guarded processs that varied from one ancient swordsmith to the other. Leaving it out in the sun, driving the truck back and forth over it, mixing it with oatmeal, etc. Some had their ore-crushers, usually writers ofbooks about sword-making, smush it all into a slurry with teency hammers made out of old typewriters. Then the painstaking, arduous-- yet somehow thrillingly rewarding--- process of forging began. This took days and days, lots of whamming and bamming, dipping in the urine of red-headed apprentices, daubing with the misty perspiration off the nether lips of virgins, etc., and was climaxed by the testing of the blade. The blade was acceptable only after it had replicated combat conditions: i.e., severed the head of a real,live person. Lazy writers of books about old-time sworsmithing were most often the testee, but sometimes you had your Nubian slave, your captive princess, in otherw words whatever was handy. The blades, when proven worthy, were then sold on Ebay. Most were used as cover illustrations on the books written, ironically enough, by the very persons they had been tested upon, whichjust goes to prove the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Next question.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 15:44:56 GMT

Special Ore: Carsten, This is a case where fact is probably stranger (or more unbelievable) than fiction.

Throughout history metoric iron (star metal or metal of the gods), has been used to forge blades and jewelery. This includes modern smiths of exotic collectors blades. Most is not a superior metal for such purposes but it does usualy contain iron nickel alloy (similar to planetary core matter) that is pure enough to use as-is. There are places where where this material is mined today. Being solid masses of iron nickle alloy, sometimes in combinations that are too hard or brittle to work, makes it very difficult to mine. It is more like quarrying metal. Slabs must be removed by sawing.

Throughout written Western history most smiths depended on the iron maker or Ironmaster for their iron/steel. In many cases steel was imported making it even more of a mystery. But this view is changing somewhat as modern researchers make iron the old ways using small furnaces burning charcoal.

However, Eastern smiths, particularly the Japanese sword smith, made there own steel in the forge. The process starts with special "iron sands" that are local iron ore. It is processed to make 'wrought iron' which is a nearly pure iron. Wrought is made by the bloomery process where the 'bloom', a white hot semi-molten mass of iron and slag is pulled from the furnace and forged (or wrought) into a usable product. Wrought iron is a soft unhardenable material because it contains no carbon. Iron that melts and falls into the bottom of the furnace in a liquid pool absorbs too much carbon and becomes "cast iron". It can be cast into shape in molds but is too brittle to forged.

The Japanese sword smith takes the wrought iron and carburizes it in his forge. At some point the smith increases the heat and melts the high carbon iron. As soon as the iron solidifies he pulls the small mass from the forge and quenches it in water, hardening the iron/steel. The mass is a crude variable mix of carbon bearing iron. Much of it unusable. The smith takes the hardened lump and breaks it into small pieces. The crystal structure of the pieces are studied and the good material seperated from the bad material.

The good material is then placed on a bar of wrought iron, covered with rice ashes and clay, heated and forge welded into a bar that is just like it sounds, a metalurgical mess. That bar is then cut into pieces, stacked and forge welded again. This process (erroneously called folding) is repeated over and over until the bar becomes nearly homegeonous. Nearly, but not quite. The metal now has soft ductile layers that resist breaking with layers of hardenable steel that makes it possible to make a blade that is able to hold an edge. When etched the pattern of hard and soft can be seen.

The steel imported from the middle East by Europeans (therefore called Damascus) was made by another more complicated crucible dcarburization process known as Wootz. It was previously believed that all Wootz came from India but a recent discovery indicates that it might have been manufactured in Turkey some 2,000 years ago.

Now, even if you are going to keep it simple for your average reader, you have to be accurate. Otherwise you will be crucified by the portion of the public that knows a little bit about blacksmithing. You may want to ask one of us to review you copy or actually write the technical sections.

Paw-paw has some experiance with pulp fiction and romance, I've written a few short stories on the subject of blacksmithing, and Cracked writes his humor with an acid tipped pen that is so powerful a weapon we had to grant him anonimity to keep his weapon from falling into the wrong hands.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 15:52:26 GMT

The Secret of writing good science or technical fiction is too know the subject and the nature of the universe so well that the future or the past never catches up with your fiction. Descriptions must hold up in the real world but the fiction must not be beyond the relm of possibility.

Isaac Asimov, the greatest science fiction writer of all time was also a scientist and wrote science texts and essays on subjects ranging from religion to the origins of life. His science was almost always within the relm of possibilities. His robots were powered by egg sized nuclear reactors using direct heat to electric conversion. Both are possible (and in limited use). He invented the "positronic" brain or computer, made even more famous by its use in the Star Trek series, from the newly discovered "positron". It is mysterious, based in reality, but science beyond our current and possibly future grasp.

In the end however his stories were always "people" stories with flesh and blood characters. His plots carried the story and always had what he called a "twist", like good mystery. The science made them "science fiction" but it was only the vehical for the plot. His understanding of physics and biology is what has allowed his stories to hold up during 60 years of rampant technological and scientific breakthroughs. They will likely hold up for decades more.

Alloys in Fiction It is a little known fact that "modern" alloying is still in the realm of alchemy. There is no scientific understanding of the results of mixing two or more metals. So it is all trial and error. Heat it and beat it. The most advanced research into super alloys and super conductors is still as mysterious as making steel was 2,000 years ago.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 16:22:48 GMT

"Any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic." - author unknown

Beam me up Scotty - Claimed to have never been said by Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series.

To infinity and beyond! - Oxymoron by Buzz Lightyear, the Toy Story

Hey. . . its Saturday morning! :)

Sword Testing I thought we had agreed that all future sword testing subjects were to be lawyers, their aluminium reienforced briefcases doing duty for the armour peircing test.

I forgot to mention that in the ancient sword making process there would have been many cleansings and offerings made to the various gods before each step. This may have included animal sacrifices and consuming of wine. Sounds Rather Biblical doesn't it?

The battle between David and Goliath was actualy the result of a Bronze age culture, the sons of Abraham, meeting an Iron age culture, the Philistines. I'm sure there were many sacrifices and prayers said. Ironicly the battle was won with stone age technology.

Why aren't the differences in technology mentioned? Perhaps they were in some original writing. But technology caught up with the story it became a moot point. In the end the human story without the technology had to hold up.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 17:05:06 GMT

Recreating the Mästermyr-find: Been there, done that (grin). But Paw-Paw or anyone else involved, how do you do a proper job sharpening those spoon-augers? (they are not straight-sided like the more recent ones).
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 10/21/00 17:56:04 GMT

Spoon shape: Olle, I've seen smiths simply hammer the hot metal into a block of wood. The wood burns away forming a depression. Instant swage block!

I'm just guessing the the ancients used this method but it is so practical and so easy that it MUST have been discovered long ago. With the relatively modern invention of the permanent cast iron swage block we have forgotten this simple technique. It is only recently that I have seen demonstrators such as Frank Turley use this technique. I do not remember reading it in any published reference.

As an archeologist, if you found a piece of wood with randomly chared depressions would you recognize it as a tool? Since the the charred wood is often preserved while the rest rots away would anyone have recognized odd shaped peices of charcoal as the remnant of a somewhat temporary tool?

As a tool (made of fuel) that is only reusable for a short number times most probably ended up in the forge fire rather than laying around to be found a thousand years later.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 18:23:40 GMT

Hi I am a freshman in university and have to do a research papare about anvils, their history, and if they ahve any religious or any other type of meaning. I wrote you two days ago and still waiting for your reply, Guru don't let me down!


Ricardo Rivas  <ricariv at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 18:10:58 GMT

Postings: Ricardo, Yes things are sometimes confusing here. Thanks for your reply, I've removed it and my response. Good luck on your report. Time is running out.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 18:30:57 GMT

The Unknown (fiction again): A big mistake made by writers of science fiction is the use of the "unknown element". Anyone that paid attention to their high school science (few do) know there are no gaps in the periodic table. Besides there being no gaps we have extended nature by the creation of artificial elements. Most of these are so unstable that they only exist only long enough to barely be detected.

As I mentioned above the relm of alloying is still a huge mystery. I have written more than once on the subject. If someone were to discover a predictive science to alloying it would be the biggest scientific break through of all time. From a mathematical standpoint it is infintely more complex then something like the Human Genome Project. Many things once thought impossible would almost instantly become possible.

Not too long ago it was thought that alloying could only be achieved by mixing metals in a crucible and casting the resulting ingot. This limited many combinations that cannot exist as liquid mixtures. However, recent research has shown that via powdered metal technology these previously impossible combinations become possible. When these mixtures are pressed together under sufficient pressure they form solid metal with weld bonds that have the characteristics of an alloy. What was once an almost infinite number of combinations limited by certain rules has become closer to infinite without rules.

One of the most advanced of these processes it the creation of alloys that include non-metals. It is not unusual for steel to contain carbon in the form of graphite but now alloys are being made with long strengthening graphite fibres. Graphite fibres can be added to non-ferrous alloys. These composite alloys are some of the most exotic materials made today and will become even more exotic in the future.

Again, the reality of fact may far outreach fiction.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 19:29:32 GMT

Platinum: Bri, there were dozens of catagories and hundreds of companies listed in the Thomas Register. I picked a couple that looked like they might supply small quantities and were listed under several catagories.

Goodfellow Corp.
Berwyn, PA

Eagle Alloys Corp.
Cape Coral, FL

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 19:40:48 GMT

"Any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic." - author unknown

I have seen Arthur C. Clarke the British author given the credit for this.

slattont  <slattont at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 19:42:53 GMT

thank you, guru!

Amazingly, one of the two locations is within 45 minutes of driving from my location! I use the metal rods for drawing on specially prepared paper. Thanks!
bri  <btutlo at aol.com> - Saturday, 10/21/00 20:34:48 GMT

Oh great Guru, I am an avid reader of A.C. Clark, Asimov and all the rest of the prophets. I have been constantly suprised by the ideas these guys thought up that are a reality now. I remember someone remarking they had seen Leanord Nemoy talking on a flip out cell phone so similar to the star trak communicator it was uncanny. Perhaps the designer was a trekkie? So many other things are here that were first given life in sci fi. I have a couple of samples of aluminum foam that is pretty bizare, I understand that they have foamed steel in the works too. "The moon dome was constructed from foamsteel to protect the inhabitants from micrometeorites". Satelite phones,computers that have voice recognition software, ultrasonic cleaners etc. But where are the flying cars? I want my flying car! (said with wry look) Think about it, I see how people drive on the ground, can you imagine if everyone flew? Yikes! Gives a new meaning to duck and cover!
(Yeah Guru, To answer an old question. Nasa tech briefs, Discover, Manufacturing-Design News, Popular Science/Mechanics and any thing else I can get my hands on.
Keep on thinking about tomorrow!
Moldy Jim
Moldy Jim  <Sorry_no_spam_me> - Saturday, 10/21/00 22:33:49 GMT

[ anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter   Copyright © 2001 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC