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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 22 - 31, 2000 on the Guru's Den
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Have you ever seen a straight peen sledge? I picked a head up at a flea market. It looks to large for one hand use.
I also have a "hammer" that may be a hot sett. How can I tell?
What is the difference between a punch and a drift? Are they
tempered differently?
M. Nix
M. Nix  <2rivers at upstel.net> - Sunday, 10/22/00 01:12:56 GMT


Time to dust off the boxing gloves!

>Isaac Asimov, the greatest science fiction writer of all time.....?

Hold it! Wait just a cotton picking minute here! The Dr. was darn good, no question or argument. BUT "the greatest science fiction writer of all time??? Nope, won't buy it!

I'll call your Isaac Asimov, and raise you a Robert Anson Heinlien ANY DAY.
And I'll throw in a side bet of Anne McCaffrey, just for kicks!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 01:13:25 GMT

Any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic.

Robert Anson Hienlien, in STARSHIP TROOPER.

See what I mean??
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 01:15:17 GMT

Straight Pein Sledge: M.Nix, Yes they are more common than straight pien hammers. "Set" hammers have a dead flat face with crisp corners, the pien is generaly a slightly rounded surface designed to be struck.

There is little difference between punches and drifts, however drifts are generaly tapered toward both ends with a straight section in the middle. Punches generaly have a larger struck end, the working end being tapered to the the working face. If you look at "modern" punches at Sears they are identical in shape. Except for modern tools being made of hex stock the shape of these tools has changed little in thousands of years. I've seen images of Ancient Greek stone cutters chisle and hammer that appeared to be hex or octagon in section. These 2,500 year old tools could not be distinguished from modern tools.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 03:19:44 GMT

Paw-Paw: The Three Laws of Robotics and over 800 published books. Ahhh he also invented the word "robotics" and ocupational title Robo-psychologist. One word is in common every day use. The Robo-psychologist will be a needed reality a moment afer the first artificial intelegence is created.

However, Authur C. Clarke invented the geostationary orbit and the comunications satelite companies should be supporting him and his heirs forever. . .

Moldy, flying cars have been reality but government regulation of the aviation industry nixed that. If THEY hadn't the insurance industry would have by now.

Nuclear powered aircraft were being designed by AEC. In the late 1950's my father worked on designing and building the prototypes of robots that would be used to retrieve the reactor core in the event of a crash. The robots worked and were 25 years in advance of anything similar. The problem was the reactor would have to have light weight sheilding, they figured that by the standards of the time that the "life" of a pilot would be weeks or months to they gave up on the project. Sadly the AEC and B&W droped the robotics research. Otherwise todays robots would be where they are going to be 20 years from now.

All nuclear research then moved to large central power plants. There are some small units used in ocean navigation boyes and satelites, but nothing like the egg sized power units dreamed of by Physicists in 1940's and 50's. Perhaps in another century. . . When we discover a light weight radiation opaque alloy and take real responsibility for nuclear wastes. . The magic of alloys yet discovered.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 04:03:46 GMT

Well, I don'tknow about light weight.........But I remember reading about the theory of an island of stability for superheavy atomic elements I think it was somewhere around 136 atomic weight. For some reason the instability turns around and makes for something that lasts for more than the length of time for light to pass a gnats nose. Who knows what kind of properties something like that woulg have.
Hey Mr.Writer, how about a sword made out of Buckey-tubes, carbon atoms aranged in such way that they are nearly indestructable? Hard as diamond, self reinforcing, and grown out of SMOKE! Graduated in size down to nearly a monomolecular edge, I would imagine something like that would be incredably wicked as a sword material. What do you think?
Moldy (brain from outerspace) Jim
Moldy  <Sorry_no_spam_me> - Sunday, 10/22/00 04:24:21 GMT

well, if you consider both volume and quality in combination, perhaps you could make the argument for Asimov. Certainly there were better writers and there were more prolific writers .....and "all time" ain't quite over yet.
But, just what % of us online-artist-blacksmith crazies have sience fiction in common?
If they gave academic credit for reading SF..I'd have my Doctorate by now, easy.
Now ,if you add up compulsions to collect junk , build tools, read sience fiction and play with fire.......
It begins to look like a syndrome.
I have long suspected that the condition will turn out to be biochemical, and that some day the psychs will show up ready to "cure us".
There are some dark days when one might be tempted to say yes.
Hold that cure 'till I'm dead please
Pete Fels  <ironyworks at netscape.net> - Sunday, 10/22/00 08:07:41 GMT

Gotta cast my vote for Heinlein! Invented the waterbed, among other things too numerous to mention (and to remember at this point on a sunday morning)! Not that Asimov wasn't pretty darn good too.

I think we're all united in this stuff because of a genetic flaw (superiority?) that makes us want to know how and why things work the way they do, and to test what we find first-hand. The SF connection is just a bit of mental exercise to give our hands a rest!
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 10/22/00 14:22:41 GMT

Hey, Guru, you ever think of adding a section at the top of the page called "So you think you want to make a sword"?
Alan L  <same as above> - Sunday, 10/22/00 14:24:34 GMT

Sword Making for Dummies: Has been my working title but it has two problems. Many of the queries are not from 'dummies' but the ignorant who have just watched too much Highlander or Conan. . . Popular culture. I even had one fellow describe the sword making scene from Connan the Barbarian includeing the casting (Bronze age) and the forging on oil (pure Hollywod) and wanted to know, "what do I do next". . . . Hey, I LOVE this stuff too but ya gotta realize its Hollywood HYPE! It gets worse because many of these guys swap missinformation on the supposedly moderated blade forums. By the time many of them get here they have a real hard time seperating fact from fiction. These are not necessarily dummies but the product of of our current culture who deserve our compassion.

The second problem with my title is that the ". . for Dummies" phrase may be a proprietary term, although you cannot copyright a title they are often trademarked.

The blacksmiths illness was defined by my friend Josh Greenwood.

acquisititus An affliction were one must possess everything and anything having to do with a field of interest, without regard to quality or duplication. Particularly affecting blacksmiths and tool collectors. The term coined by Josh Greenwood who first recoginzed the symptoms in himself.

- The Blacksmith's Guide to the Universe

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 16:28:01 GMT

In Michael Scott Rohan`s "Winter of the world" trilogy the hero (A blacksmith, of course. ALL the heroes are blacksmiths.) makes a carbon-based sword much like the one you described. Fantasy writers seem to have a thing for blacksmiths.
And Guru, it wasnīt the forging of spoon-augers I had any problem with, it was sharpening the darned things afterwards. Keeping the right angle all the way around is still trial-and-error for me.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Sunday, 10/22/00 17:54:02 GMT

ok I think that you are all wrong the greatest scifi writer has to be julis verne (not that I don't agree that the afor mentioned writers are among my faverits) I would also add another few names to the list of greats edger rice burrrows, frank herbert, orson scott card.
MP   <mparkinson at mpmetalworks.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 18:46:13 GMT

What does a blacksmith do?
dude  <dude at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 19:28:25 GMT

What does a balcksmith do?
dude  <dude at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 19:29:02 GMT

Dear Guru,

Could you please tell me at what temperatures are metal engravers and metal scrapers tempered?

Thank you.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Sunday, 10/22/00 20:19:44 GMT

Scrapers and engravers: George, as hard as you can get them and then tempered to the minimum recommended for the particular steel. 350-400°F (177-205°C) is typical for plain high carbon steels.

Scrapers for wood and soft metals (aluminium, babbit, brass, bronze) that get a burr edge turned on them with a burnisher need to be considerably softer. If they are too hard it is difficult to create the proper edge.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 22:08:17 GMT

blacksmiths: dude, this one answers questions.

A blacksmith shapes iron and steel by heating it to an orange or yellow heat (2,200°F +/- 200°F) and pounding on it with a hammer. The work is supported on a big block of specialy shaped steel called and anvil.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/22/00 22:26:41 GMT

Oval Spoon Drills: Olle, I looked closer at the the Mastermyr picks. Looked like a shape forged over a small bent "horn" or bickern. The edges drawn down to an edge.

The portable tool kit also contained files and sharpening stones. Larger coarser grinding stones would have been available in the shop. A smith practiced in forging this shape would have needed to grind very little but it would have been ground.

I'm about half way through reading the report on the Mastermyr find. A real mystery. Great story.

Local smith traveling to a job, takes short cut across ice during spring thaw. Falls through ice. Horse pulls free with sled. later the body of the smith is recovered but not his tools and cache of scrap metal which sunk to the bottom of the shallow frigid lake. Lake and swamp forever known for the Master smith. However time passes and no one remembers what the name of the swamp means as language has changed just enough. 800 years later the swamp is drained and the smith's tools are found. The fame of the smith now written into modern archeological history. Hopefully never to be lost again.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 05:02:03 GMT

Olle, Thank for the heads up, I'll have to read that one. It always tickles me to read SciFi/fantasy with blacksmiths, swords or forging in the story. We are so privledged to play with such a wonderful material, it has to be magic! Or at least sufficiently advanced technology.
I wonder what percentage of these stories contain smiths, it must be a fair number, I know I have read more than a few.
Moldy  <yep> - Monday, 10/23/00 05:12:36 GMT

Story: Moldy, that was my imagined outline of a story based on the scientific report on the find.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 05:21:54 GMT

I amnew to blacksmithing and want to know how to make COKE
clint radabaugh  <bluedodge at moonman.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 12:31:43 GMT

Spoon Augers; Olle: I sharpen them VERY CAREFULLY. Light filing on the outside, small rounded stones on the inside. I've only made two so far, but it seems to work.

Secret Ore for Swords: One of my standing contentions for the historic fame of Spanish swords is that the ore there usually has a suuficient quantity of manganese as a trace element to make a better blade than pure iron/steel. Consider it an accidental alloy. People didn't know why things happened, but they were very careful about abserving what happened and how they got there. Hurrah for impericism!

Swords and Anvils: Try my pages at http://members.ttlc.net/~tyrell/Viking1.htm for a few more illustrations and insights. Someday, I'll finish my sword article for the Guru, which goes into the subject more extensively. Given the number of swords that I've had break at embarrasing moments over the last 31 years, I dearly love my axe.

Good Quotes: "Any sufficiently low technology is indistinguishable from hard work." Anonymous

"Ye gods; I love a large labor Pool!" Cap'n Atli, observing our oarsmen pulling together.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Monday, 10/23/00 13:29:50 GMT

impericism Cap'n Bligh. . whoops, Atli, how many of our readers do you think knows what that means?? :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 14:03:26 GMT

Coke: Clint, some coal cokes, some does not. Hard anthracite coal does not coke, low grade high ash coals do not coke.

Using good bituminous (soft) smithing coal coke forms naturaly in the fire. As the fire burns the coal outside of the burning zone is heated and the volitiles gas off as smoke or sometimes burn as yellow flame above the hot center.

To produce coke in the forge a hot fire is started and then fresh coal is added to the fire forming a mound over the center. The blast is then turned of and the fire left to smoulder. After a few hours you break open the mound and put out the remaining fire. Most of the interior of the mound will be fused masses of coke. Do NOT leave the fire unattended or setting overnight, it may consume all the coal and coke leaving nothing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 14:27:19 GMT

i need to re harden a trigger that has been polished,how do i go about it?
i have very limited experience with heat treating metals and not much more than a propane torch ,maybe a bit of mapp gas..
david marrs  <dmar308 at mindspring.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 15:05:32 GMT


Thank you for the informations.I am also interested in scrapers for scraping steel, like the ones used on scraping swords at the final stage of forming the blade after forging.Could you please tell me at what temps are those scrapers tempered?

Thank you.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Monday, 10/23/00 15:16:11 GMT

Scrapers: George, I did, use as low a temperature as recommended for the steel, for as hard a tool as possible.

I mentioned wood working scrapers because they need to be softer.

Old files make good scrapers as-is. Carefully grind to a chisel point and then finish with a stone. Stubs of old taps make great burrins and gravers. They are almost always a very good grade of high speed steel (HSS). High alloy HSS is not only heat resistant but VERY stong. Grind to shape. Do not try to heattreat (or re-heattreat HSS yourself). I save old taps to make lathe borring tools because the round shanks are easy to make holders for. The plated hardware store types are usualy not as good as the bright ground finished commercial type.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 15:46:57 GMT

Dear Guru:

I am an engineering grad student with a few questions on silversmithing I am hoping you can help me with. The response doesn't need to be more than a few sentences.

First, is sterling silver (92.5% Ag, 7.5% Cu) precipitation hardenable and why? Looking at the phase diagram, I believe it is, but am unfamiliar with this material and would like to hear from you.

Second, if sterling is age-hardenable, how do you anneal it without accidentally making it hard, so you can continue to work on your tea service? I think you would heat above the eutectoid temperature (~780 C) to get into the solution hardening area, then let the metal cool slowly in a forge. Fast quenching would solution heat treat the metal, putting you in danger of age-hardening. Is this correct?

Thanks very much for your help,

Monica  <alter.idem at worldnet.att.net> - Monday, 10/23/00 16:13:11 GMT

Hello...just a note for those that care...I'm heading out today...updates as I get there.

Also, Monica, I'm not that familiar with age-hardening of sterling, but the method to anneal is to head until it is just barely glowing in dim light and then quench. Sterling work hardens very easily.
Torin  <torin at primenet.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 16:19:37 GMT

Empiricism is nice, but, you know, it's getting devilishly expensive, and you need to really watch it when adding it to the ore. Putting too much empiricism into the bosh, especially when the wind is from the south, can be disastrous. Another, and much cheaper ingredient in your sword-making formulae is a nifty name. You won't get far in today's high-competitive sword market with a name like Wimp, or Chastizer, nosirree. Think more along the lines of Devastator, or Slicer, or Dragonslayer, or Dreadnought. Excalibur is okay, too, provided you get the empiricism just right. And, very important: don't forget to stamp "Use only for truth and justice," and especially important:"Wear eye protection" on every blade to keep OSHA happy.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/23/00 18:42:14 GMT

Taps; Guru:

I knew I had a good reason for saving those old broken and rusty taps! My faith in recycling is once more justified. Hold onto something long enough and you're bound to discover why keeping it was a wonderful idea.

A golden Autumn afternoon on the banks of the Potomac. Made progress with my backlog at Oakley Forge this weekend.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Monday, 10/23/00 18:51:05 GMT

we are looking for brass to forge
what material do we need
what type of brass do we need to forge
hot or cold
will C360 do the job...round stock 3/8 round or 1/2 inch round forgable.
can you help
we want to make leaves.....what do we need for this....
can make leaves from steel never worked with brass too much
please help
david waugh  <anvil at falls.igs.net> - Monday, 10/23/00 23:47:45 GMT

Cracked: Thanks for getting the spelling right! I used plenty of the stuff in a sword I made (out of a mystical bog-wood survey stake) named Dansbane, properly engraved in dwarven runes, of course. It suited its purpose quite well, as it also housed a rubber band gun in the guard. Dan whose bane it was hasn't been the same since.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 00:46:10 GMT

Atli, Those broken taps are Gold! I never throw away any of them. If you need to single point an internal thread use a tap, grind away all but 1 thread tip, and you have an instant internal tool with helical relief, proper angle and thread form. Easy as pie.
Another use for dull taps is to grind the back of the flutes down so there is just a small part of the cutting edge left on one of them at the od. grind the rest of the flutes off to the minor diameter. Chuck it in a mill and use it as a checkering tool. The thread pitch will determine the coarseness of the checkering. If it is a tap with more than 2 flutes and you leave 2 flutes with cutting edges you will get a skip type checkering, 2 grooves close together with a flat in between them. I have taken dull pipe taps and ground the teeth off to make a crude tapered reamer for starting tapered pipe threads.
!/4 taps make great swivel knifr blades for leather work.
The possibilities are endless.
Moldy Jim
Moldy  <no_sorry> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 01:26:15 GMT

Hi All,

I was curious what it would take to make some brushed aluminium furniture, like perhaps a frame for a kitchen table w/glass top. Also perhaps some kind of cast deco art?
Can you buy raw aluminium? What do you heat that with?
How do you brush aluminium.
I am interested in what it would take to start making some metal furniture. I hate wood :)
Jake  <bitsrfr at home.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 02:33:32 GMT

How can I anneal copper to a dead soft condition? I have oxy/acetylene and a small furnace (Gingery charcoal design)
John  <jkcallin at aol.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 03:03:35 GMT

Anneal Copper: John, Heat to a low red in very low light and then quench in water.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 03:47:41 GMT

Forging Brass/Bronze: David, Almost all brass and bronze is forgable EXCEPT leaded free machining grades. It CAN be forged but it is very difficult. Slight overheating and the lead seperates and the metal crumbles.

For small work brazing rod works well. It comes in rounds up to 3/8"

The most easily forged is:

Forging Brass - Alloy #377
Naval Brass - Alloy #464

You CAN forge brass in a coal forge but it is nerve racking work as the metal is easy to melt. A temperature controlled gas forge is recommended.

Sheet copper makes nice leaves and can be braze welded to the forged brass. Do not mix brass/copper with steel if the work is to be used outdoors. Bimetalic corrosion will ruin the work in short order.

If you are going to forge leaves from steel then the rest of the work should be steel. 3/16" plate is the thinnest reccommended for exterior work. Today most smiths use a plasma torch for blanking. If its a large job with lots of leaves I'd farm out the cutting. Provide 3-4 different patterns for the same type leaf so that the blanks start out with variety than continue to make them unique in the hand working.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 05:29:30 GMT

Thank you Guru.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 07:55:51 GMT

This is not a smithing question although it is somewhat related as this piece is in my shop. Can you offer any information on an old potbellied stove I have installed in the shop ? It is marked Atlanta Stove Works just above the ash cleanout door, and on the door tothe fire box is marked No. 60 .
It's not anything important, I'm just currious.
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 08:24:10 GMT

Broken taps also become bottom taps. Just grind the end smooth as you can. I don't throw much away.
Steve O'Grady  <lforge at netins.net> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 14:16:02 GMT

Old Stove: Mark, Not a clue. Almost every foundry in America made wood stoves at one time. Nearby (to me) Lynchburg Foundry made millions of wood cook stoves sold by Sears and Roebuck in the 1800's and early 1900's. By the 1960's no body there even knew they had the patterns. They had converted to production methods and served primarily the automotive industry. Intermet bought them and spent millions updating equipment. Now they are gone. Neither Intermet nor Sears could tell you of their previous relationship. Sad, but typical of modern business.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 15:32:11 GMT

Aluminium Furniture Jake, Aluminium is available in bar plate and structural sections. There is also a wide range of alloys. Most suppliers that handle aluminium carry all types of non-ferrous or specialty alloys such as stainless and monel.

Pure aluminium is soft and can be bent and forged to a limited degree without heating. This is alloy 1000.

The more common alloys used in machine and fabrication shops are 2024 and 6061. These are high strength alloys. They must be heated to forge and for most bending. Heating is best done in a temperature controlled gas furnace.

Aluminium is assembled widely by riveting (aircraft are almost 100% riveted). You can also make classic mortised and tennoned joints. Electric welding requires a special high frequency power supply and inert gas. It also takes a LOT more amperage due to the high conductivity.

After fabrication and applying that "brushed finish" the aluminium will need to be given either a coat of clear lacquer OR anodized. Everything you see that has what look like unfinished aluminium surfaces (except cookware) are anodized. Anodizing can be clear or colored. We are used to many of the gaudy colors but black and gold anodizing are wonderful. Check with your anodizer before planning on have work anodized. There are size limitations due to the tanks that are used.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 15:55:51 GMT

Where can I find some information about articulation for joints in plate armour? Specificaly, elbow and knee joints.
mike  <newtonm at chopaka.wednet.edu> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 21:45:00 GMT

Silver Alloys: Monica, Sorry Its taken so long to respond. I'm afraid you are on your own here. I have all kinds of enginering references and several specialty metalurgy and heattreating references but none cover silver alloys much less have phase diagrams for silver alloys. I thought my ASM heat treaters guide would have some information but just realized the sub-title is "Standard Practices and Procedures for Steel".

If any one of us had an understanding of this it would most likely be Grandpa and he hasn't chimed in on this one.

My gut feeling is that non-ferrous metalurgy is a great deal diferent than ferrous metalurgy and you may be reading something into the graph that is not realy there. . Sorry we were no help. I'm still asking around.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 21:54:15 GMT

how hard should you hit a piece while welding? should you use the same force as you would for, say, drawing out, a piece of stock? or should the welding blows be more forceful? i've actually hit the pieces i've been welding a little softer because the material is so hot it deforms easily. am i making a mistake that will result in weak welds?
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 23:12:45 GMT

another question. i recently watched someone working a piece of pure iron (no carbon at all) and noticed that it kept a heat a log longer than mild steel. why is that?
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 23:27:57 GMT

First Strike: Coondogger, IF you have a near liquid surface the weld metal and flux may all be blown out. Generaly the first few blows are relatively gentle, just pushing the surfaces together and squeezing the flux and dross out. Your intuition was right. The tendancy is to get too excited and too big a hurry and strike too hard.

It is also important to look closely at the weld while still hot. If you can see dark edges indicating a lack of weld then reflux, heat and weld again. This takes care in heating because the central mass needs to be at welding temperature without burning those fine edges.

Welds often take patience and several heats.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 23:38:04 GMT

there's a smidegon about Atlanta Stove Works at: http://www.barbecuen.com/faqs/atlanta.htm
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 23:42:44 GMT

Imagination: Coondogger, The length of time a piece stays hot for a professional is your imagination. When you are working it and fumbling for tools the steel seems to cool instantly. While watching a pro that works quickly and smoothly they get an amazing amount done in that one heat.

Otherwise some smiths work the steel so fast that they are putting energy back into the metal. I've watched Josh Greenwood and Peter Ross both bring a point that is at a black heat back to a red by the quickness of their blows.

But that has nothing to do with the perception that steel stays hot longer for others.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/24/00 23:54:22 GMT

Information on articulation for armour can be found in the books Best of the Hammer Vol. 1-4 by Brian Flax & the new (think pricey) Paladin Press book Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction by Brian R. Price. Most of these books are still in print.

slattont  <slattont at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 01:55:53 GMT

oops! I meant, of course, to say smidgeon, not smidegon. A smidgeon is less even than a smithereen. Just a snippet. (I don't know what a smidegon is, but it sounds bad, doesn't it?) But it's enough to warrant mentioning, that citation is, 'cause if it's true, it tells what happened to ole Atlanta Stove.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 03:55:50 GMT

Monica: Grandpa doesn't know much about sterling silver,but he looked it up in ASM Metals Handbook vol 1 8th ed. Sterling silver is age hardening, but the solution temperature(1300-1350f) is close to the liquidus temperature(1435f). The precipitation of the copper rich phase is done by aging at 535f-2 hrs or 575-1 hr. Normal annealing as done by jewelers --- heat to very dull red( about 1200f) in a darkened area then quench in pickeling solution.
grandpa  <darylmeier at aol.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 04:12:46 GMT

Grandpa, Thanks!

I only have select volumes from the ASM Handbook Series (same edition). I also have two ASM references that I thought covered common alloys, The ASM Metals Reference Book (covers most metals used in engineering) and The ASM Engineeded Materials Reference Book (covers ceramic composites and semi conductors with phase diagrams for both). This second reference is high tech stuff that I had a one time marginal interest in. . .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 06:34:08 GMT

could you please tell me where i can get plans for a waste oil burner to replace the propane burners on my forge or even post a sketch. i am also interested in a larger model for a friend who has a scrap yard and a big furnace that melts aluminium off gearboxes and can get me lots of waste oil. as well as doing our bit for the environment we will save some money which is always a good thing.thanks very much fraser shepherd
fraser shepherd  <fraser at frasershepherd.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 08:41:49 GMT

Dear Grandpa and Guru:

Thank you for your help! I think I'm in over my head :)

Monica  <alter.idem at worldnet.att.net> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 15:05:21 GMT

Waste Oil and the Environment: Fraser, Standard oil burners will burn waste oil if its diluted with kerosene or heating oil. However, used automotive oil often contains heavy metals from both the oil additives and worn engine
bearings. This can inculde copper, cadmium and lead. It also often contains water and gasoline. Waste oil is also hard on burner pumps and filters.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 15:15:13 GMT

Over one's head: Monica, I'm there every day! :o)

Metalurgy is a specialty within engineering that has a language of its own that most of us do not speak. I'm mostly a hack when it come to the subject. Generaly I DO known when I'm over my head. However, all of us rely on our libraries in the field of materials and engineering. I've refered almost daily to MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK for nearly 40 years. I've retained quite a bit of it but generaly double check when answering some questions. Grandpa has 30 years of experiance in ferrous metalurgy since earning his masters and still refers to his library.

Engineers cannot remember it all. I've never worked in a formal engineering environment but most have libraries. I've had occasion when a job required some obscure piece of research and had to travel 100 miles to the engineering library at the University of Virginia to find the answer. I've rarely been disappointed.

On the other hand, experiance helps. I had given the same annealing instructions for non-ferrous material just a few posts before grandpa's answer. Those of us that work in metals know most of the general techniques although we do not always know the science behind them.

In your grandfather's day (my father's) engineering school included hands on metalworking courses that are now just glossed over in machine shop (trade school) courses. One of my favorite metalworking books is my father's old college copy of Metalwork, Technology and Practice, by Ludwig, published by McKnight and McKnight (Now published by McGraw-Hill). It covers all the basics, layout, simple forging, drilling holes, sheetmetal work. The entire book including all the projects were a requirement at EKU in the 1940's. My wife recently had to purchase a NEW copy for her machine shop courses. The curriculum she is in only used a small portion of the book. . . Although all of the book is not applicable to her new machinist job it DOES apply to anyone studying general engineering. As a machine designer for many years it helped me immeasurably. However, this type of hands on approach is no longer considered important by most engineering schools.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 16:08:10 GMT

Have you ever tried forging multi-strand copper wire into solid pieces?If so,what should I expect when I try it?
George Edwards  <preachloud at aol.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 16:26:53 GMT

Copper: George, Almost all metal can be forge welded but those that are highly conductive make it difficult since there can be almost no temperature differential beween the surface and interior. The lower conductivity of iron is one of the things that makes it weldable in a forge where the surface is near liquid or actualy becomes liquid.

I've never tried forge welding copper. I suspect borax flux will work as it works on braze welding copper.

Anyone out there try it??
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 16:45:25 GMT

My apologies,I should have phrased my question differently :) What I am going to try is to strip the insulation off of some copper wire(I have about a ton of the stuff)and then twist it up,heat it,and pound it into a solid piece of copper which could then be(hopefully) reshaped into
something else.Have you ever tried this?
George Edwards  <preachloud at aol.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 16:56:33 GMT

Trigger Heattreat: David, Normaly precision parts are finished after hardening. To heat treat finished parts you will either need to use a case hardening method or seal the part in stainless foil.

Many hand made gun parts are made of low carbon or mild steel. They are finely finished then hardened by sealing in a ceramic or graphite box packed with charcoal, heated for a period of time at a red heat (carburizing range), then quenched directly from the hardening case.

The charcoal produces a carbon vapor atmosphere that soaks into the steel while keeping oxygen away from the part. Quick transfer from the box (dumping the part and charcoal) in the the quenchant (water), reduces exposure to air.

If the part is made from carbon steel or reworked from a previously case hardened part it can be hardened by sealing in a stainless foil bag, heated to a low red (just above the non-magnetic point) and then quenched directly from the bag (a bit tricky).

Parts previously case hardened can be processed in charcoal again but only brought up to temperature then quenched. You do not want to add more carbon to the surface so the part doesn't want to soak. If the part has been modified then the local area may need to have that area treated. This is generaly done with a localized application of a heat treating salt such as Casinit (a brand name).

All of the above assumes that you know what you are doing and is not recommended for a do it yourself gunsmith.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 17:16:51 GMT

Copper: George, "Pounding into a solid piece" requires the surfaces to be forge welded together. They will not just stick together.

It is common to burn off insulation in a bonfire. However, the resulting oxidation will make it very difficult to weld into a solid mass. To make a solid piece or billets you would be best off to melt the copper down and pour it into ingots. This will require a graphite crucible and deoxidants. The ductility of copper is determined by its purity including lack of oxides.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 17:30:39 GMT

Hey, I have an old SAAB, and I can't find the transmissions anywhere, parts cars with the tranny are hard to find, and it's inevitable that someday I'll have to replace the tranny, and I was wondering how much it'd cost to have a new tranny machined for 1973 saab 95
Millhouse - Wednesday, 10/25/00 19:44:24 GMT

$350,000.00 manual, $550,000.00 automatic, you provide the detail production drawings.
   - Wednesday, 10/25/00 21:08:03 GMT

I found this board on a search for reproduction strap hinges. I just had a garden gate constructed that faces the street. The hinges are on the inside but I thought a set of dummy strap hinges would look great on it. We live in the SF Bay area. Is there anyone reading this who can make a pair for me? About 24" I guess maybe with a little spear point..or?? Please email me if this is something you can provide...with a price estimate please. And maybe a door pull also? Thanks!
C McNally  <MCCHRLN at aol.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 21:07:41 GMT

Hinges:C. McNally, I'll refer someone to you that is relatively close.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 21:27:36 GMT

I am looking for books or patterns about ornamental iron work for railings for a deck. Could you please let me know where I could find anything out about this.
D. Shihinski  <cshihin at telusplanet.net> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 23:30:51 GMT

I am looking for information or patterns for doing ornamental iron work for decks, etc. Could you please let me know how I could go about finding out any information about this topic.
D. Shihinski  <cshihin at telusplanet.net> - Wednesday, 10/25/00 23:33:54 GMT

Ornamental Work: D. Shihinski, Call Norm Larson (number listed in Getting Started) and ask about the German book Ironwork for Lawn and Garden, the Dona Meilach books, Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork and The Contemporary Blacksmith, and . . ? The Blacksmith of Charlestown.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 00:08:42 GMT

Books: D. Shihinski, I forgot to mention that we have reviews of the Dona Meilach books on our Book Shelf page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 00:10:18 GMT

Some time ago I watched another smith at work, when he put green coal into his fire he always sprinkled it with water. He told me this was to "steam out the impurities in the coal". I've never heard mention of this anywhere else, I have heard of the use of water to controll the fire.
Any truth to the steaming out the impurities theory ? Or is this due to his lack of experience ? [he had only been smithing for about four yrs.]
I've never done this and my coal always cokes well.
Mark   <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 08:06:51 GMT

thanks very much for above advise but what i was looking for was a purpose designed waste oil burner I think they work on an air atomisation principle and have no moving parts just gravity feed for oil with a carburator type float valve and air pressure from workshop air compressor.I'll try some careful experiments and let you know how i get on. all the best fraser
fraser shepherd  <fraser at frasershepherd.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 09:30:55 GMT

Has anyone been inside the covers of "Techniques of Medieval Armour Production" That Tim mentions several posts above? It seems great but sure is pricey, and Iīve been sorely dissapointed before. I donīt mind the price if it contains good information, itīs just that it sometimes seems that those that should be writing books are to busy forging, while some that write books should need to do some more basic blacksmithing.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Thursday, 10/26/00 12:02:04 GMT

I have the book and IMHO it is better than the four volume Best of the Hammer Series. The book is specific to 14 century armor and appears to be written more for the armour to be used in reneactments, not historical accuracy.

My opinion may not be worth much in this case as I am still working on my first helm.

slattont  <slattont at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 12:27:44 GMT

I have a great bellows which I will be using with a brick forge. I understand that to keep superheated air from being sucked back into the bellows I need a 1-way valve somewhere along the line. I would be interested in the construction details from anyone who has done this. Thanks.
Neal Bullington  <nrobertb at aol.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 14:29:27 GMT

Steaming Coal: Mark, No. The water will dampen the fire immediately under the new coal giving it time to coke down but the steam has nothing to do with removing impurities.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 14:56:25 GMT

Great Bellows: Neal, The definition of "Great Bellows" is one with double chambers and check valves. If you bellows is single chambered it is not a Great Bellows.

The double chambred Great bellows has an intake valve in the bottom and a valve between the the two chambres. The discharge never sucks air back like a single chambered bellows. If is does the valve on the fixed center board is bad and needs to be repaired. Since many of these parts rely on gravity to stay in possition it may just be a matter of reaching in through the bottom valve and flipping the center valve over the hole. If its an old bellows and has set at some odd angle for a long time the leather in the valve may be stiff or have taken a set and need to be moistened and then oiled with Neats foot oil.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 15:03:45 GMT

Great Bellows continued: Traditional Great Bellows valves are a thin piece of light wood such as tulip poplar or bass wood. The valve is sometimes hinged on two curved staples. They can also be attached to a piece of soft leather that acts as both hinge and seal. In both cases the valve is light and opperated by gravity.

Most traditional single chambered bellows OR paired bellows had the problem of sucking an amount of smoke back into the bellows with every stroke as they only had a single intake valve in the bottom board. In the days of charcoal fuel it was not too much of a problem. The problem occurs when coal is used as fuel. That white viscous smoke that comes off a coal fire is very flamable. When it enters the bellows then is discharged back into the fire it often ignites and explodes.

This problem can even occur in double chambered bellows. Mine were setup on an outdoor forge. If there was a breeze blowing toward the forge and there was fresh coal on the fire, smoke would enter the connecting pipe and some time the bellows. The first pull of the handle pushed the smoke back into the forge fire and ignited it.

WHOOMP! The upper chamber of the bellows would inflate from the explosion! This is not a problem unless the upper chamber is fully inflated and can go no further. Then there is a chance of damage. So you learn to give a little short pull on the operating lever before giving it a long full stroke. That little test pull either does nothing or lets the gas ignite and harmlessly (inflating the upper chamber).

This problem is more accute when the bellows is above the forge (mine was) as the smoke naturaly rises in the pipe.

Check valves can be put into the discharge of single action bellows. Normally they opperate on the fact that the intake is larger and the valve provides less resistance than the pipe and nozzel. It really was a primitive design.

An inline check valve would need to be a box with an upper discharge chamber and a lower inlet chamber. The valve in between would be a simple flap valve just like the intake in the bellows. When I built my Great bellows I had some heavy rubberized fabric that I made the valves. They were just a simple flap valve with a strip of wood holding the flap down on one side. Leather with a thin board attached works fine. The inline check valve could be a metal box with the valve on a center plate or board OR the entire box could be wood. It would be best to have a valve for each bellows in a paired setup.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 16:15:40 GMT

Thanks for the quick answer. Yes, my 42" bellows has two chambers, and the boards with leather hinges for valves as you describe. I have replaced all the leather and done other minor repairs (removed 3 mouse nests). The bellows is stamped "Chicago House Wrecking Co." which I thought strange. Then I got a copy of their 1898 catalog and found this: "We purchased 1,000 bellows, brand new, from Sheriff's sale, which we can sell at following prices..." They ranged from $8.40 for the 44" model to $3.10 for the 24" model.
Neal Bullington  <nrobertb at aol.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 17:03:42 GMT

Bellows part III.

One additional comment about the bellows and possible gas build up.

This can be VERY DANGOUROUS! If the levels of methane(flamable portion of the coal smoke) get high enough the explosion can be very large. At a NHS I volunteer at we had one of our bellows explode. Now mind you it was made from 3/4 inch plywood and planks and leather. The largest pieces of wood(after explosion) were no bigger than 1foot by 1 foot, most was smaller. Nails and screws were imbedded in the wall across the shop(about 25 feet away) It was heard over a 1/4 mile away. The shop is made from heavy timbers(12" square) and the doors and windows were closed(winter time).
Fortunatly the visitors who were in the shop at the time were not hurt. Scared... but not hurt!

So the moral of the story is, when ever you have the thick green/white smoke you should be slowly pumping the bellows, and also make sure you have a 'chimney hole' in the coal to allow flame to burn off the smoke.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 10/26/00 18:48:36 GMT


I am looking for a source for sheet mica for use in lights.

I am also hunting a rust patina formula for iron
Rik Mettes  <heartmtnforge at excite.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 18:55:53 GMT

Mica: Rik, McMaster-Carr (see our links page) would be your best bet. They sell two types, the Muscovite is mostly clear with flecks and streaks of color. It comes in both flexible and rigid types. If you need other suppliers I can look them up in Thomas Register or you can do the same at your public library.

How rusty? Chlorox bleach produces almost instant 100 year rust. Rinse with water, kill with vinegar and water, then kill the acid in the vinegar with a baking soda and water solution and rinse again.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 19:28:37 GMT

Guru, 1. A source for sheet mica. 2. A formula for a rust patina on iron. 3. A clear exterior finish for iron other than the bees wax turpentine linseed oil.
Rik Mettes  <heartmtnforge at excite.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 19:35:34 GMT

Clear Exterior Finish for Iron: NONE.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 20:13:34 GMT

how does a person get started in blacksmithing? Have 18 have an 18 year old son who is interested in the field, but has no idea where to begin. He's in college out in Colorado (we're in RI)he is thinking of musuem replica-type work and has mentioned the idea of a blacksmith for places like Williamsburg and Sturbridge Village. How does one get into the field?? Thank you
f. wight  <f52w> - Thursday, 10/26/00 22:04:16 GMT

f.wight, see the article linked at the top and bottom of this page Getting Started in Blacksmithing, it doesn't fit every situation but it points the way.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 22:37:49 GMT

Hi, my name is eric and I'm a high school senior doing an independent study on swordmaking. In this study, my main objective is to make the sword. I've gotten to the point at which I need to begin forging, but I have no forge so I'll have to build my own. Do you have any suggestions on how I may go about doing that? Thanks
eric  <erikson777 at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 22:53:06 GMT

Forge: Eric, A forge is the easy part. Anvils are generaly more expensive and harder to find. Check our plans page (off the home page) and the 21st Century and iForge page for information about anvils and tools.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 10/26/00 23:10:35 GMT

Hello, my Grandfather was a balcksmith. He had his workshop in his garage. He has since passed away and I am wondering who might be interested in his 250lb. anvil and forge. I am not familiar with the equipment and do not know how much it would be worth (it is pretty old). Any information you might have would be appretiated.
Crystal  <cunning1 at uwm.edu> - Thursday, 10/26/00 23:49:24 GMT

To get a vague idea of how to conjoin the elements of iron jousting togs, one could do worse than visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and glim the vast hall full of ancient armour (for the horsies, too) and crossbows and lances and other implements of death, Euopean and Japanese. It is truly humbling to see what those old boys could do with hardly so much as a single grinder or arc welder or even an oxy-acetylene torch to be had in all the land. And, remember, when manufacturing helmets, one must always affix a proof mark attesting to the fact that the helmet has been found safe against crossbow bolts. It is hard to find good help these days, lads willing to don the helmet to maintain the honour of the shop, true, but then, nobody ever said this would be an easy craft.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 00:04:45 GMT

Old Tools: Crystal, There will be lots of demand for those tools. Depending on the type of anvil and its condition it could be worth over $500. Forges vary a lot depending on the type (sheet metal, cast iron, size, condition). Small hand tools such a hammers sets and swages sell for $15-$20 US individualy, $8-$10 in bulk.

An inventory would help. But the point is they are probably worth more than you thought. Contact your closest ABANA chapter and you will have more buyers than you know what to with.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 00:24:43 GMT

The Met: I spent an afternoon at The Metropolitan Museum with my brother as a guide. He was going to a New York art school at the time and spent many hours there.

We made the typical rushed tour as we only had 4 hours. . . saw all the wonderful French paintings. . It wasn't until we were on our way back to Brooklyn on the subway that he says, "Gee, I'll bet you would have like to see all the armour and iron work.". . . I could have strangled him!

Its one of the VERY few things that I would venture into "The City" for.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 00:30:51 GMT

Just wondered how to make balls, close to perfect
using the basket handle technique? Or is there
another little secret?? I am stumped can any
one help ??Barry
Barry  <blacksmith at pacificcoast.net> - Friday, 10/27/00 01:31:45 GMT

Well, as long as any of you might be bashing about New York in search of armor, don't miss "Vikings! The North Atlantic Saga" at the American Museum of Natural History, running from October 21 'til January 18. Swords, spears, domestic implements and even a display on Viking period blacksmithing (including the first early medieval anvil I've seen with a hardy/pritchel hole in it. The site is at: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/vikings/homepage.html

For those inclined to travel to Philadelphia, I recommend the Kienbusch Collection of arms and armor at the Philadelphia Museum of Art located at 26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (Them's the steps that Rocky ran up…) The website for the collection seems to be down but the museum telephone number is: 215-763-8100 and the home website is at: http://pma.libertynet.org/

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 10/27/00 01:49:53 GMT

Basket Sphere: Barry, Step one is to be very good at forge welding. Step two is to be unflappable.

The sphere needs lots of bars. The only one I've seen had 16 or 24. . I might be able to find a photo of it. . It was made with twisted 1/4" bars.

I THINK you start by pointing and welding the bars into a star (all points at center). Then bend an 80 degree bend in each bar where it is going to meet the core bar. These ends probably needed to be forged thinner (one axis) so they fit around the core bar side by side.

Bend each piece to form a sphere. Tie the ends to the core bar and forge weld. Afterward the entire sphere is heated and given a twist. . .

This forms a sphere with a flat top and stem. The core bar needs to be about 5/8" to 3/4" in diameter. If tapered from a larger bar the small pieces can be worked into the bar and then the bar reduced to straight stem.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 02:09:19 GMT

Guru, Thanks for the rust patina recipe. Is there a sealer used in exterior applications to prevent further corrosion?
Rik Mettes  <heartmtnforge at excite.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 02:48:42 GMT

Guru, I think there is a guided tour of gate, fences and other fancy ironwork around Philadelphia, much of it the work of Yellin
Pablo27  <Kuosun at hotmail.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 03:52:49 GMT

F. Wight,
If your son has the time and is willing he should check out teh school at Carbondale Co. It was started by the late Francis Whitaker.
Also if you could email me, I will try to get a list of smiths I have talked with from around teh Denver area(I am assuming he is in either Denver or Boulder) There is a fairly active group in and near Loveland Co.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 10/27/00 06:14:56 GMT

guru, i'm also interested in the rust patina recipe. and by the way, thank's for answering all my many questions. this site has been of tremendous value to me.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.ent> - Friday, 10/27/00 10:50:20 GMT

I saw several of your posts on the Mastermyr find and spoon bits. I have been slowly recreating many of the tools in the MM find, starting with the woodworking tools. I am partway thru forging a spoon bit, but havn't done the actual spoon yet. Would appreciate any advice on how to shape the concave. I keep thinking of a die, but MM find didn't have anything like that. Am I looking at a wood dish form and a ball pein? First bit is to be approx 3/4 or 1 in dia. Note also, MM find bits are almost spear end shaped, not hemispherical like later versions.
Dave  <David.jay.lawrence at att.net> - Friday, 10/27/00 13:27:16 GMT

I am just starting into blacksmithing and am somewhat confused about coal. My father (who is 82 and in great shape) has kindled my interest in smithing and tool making. My grandfather had a farm in Cape Breton - Nova Scotia. We still go there as a summer vacation spot. When I was young I used to have to go and get coal for the stove and stoke it up in the morning. The coal was hard or antracite coal. Cape Breton is full of it. The veins run under the ocean. Grandpa was a coal miner too! Anyway this coal was used by my dad and grandpa to forge and make tools on the farm. It is the hardest type of coal and burns cleanly with lots of heat.

They both claimed it was the best for heating metal although it is hard to get started. A local supplier says that he sells this as blacksmith coal and that local decorative iron workers use it with no complaints.

Is this in fact blacksmith coal or is this a more generic term. Is anthracite a good coal to use for smithing? I would greatly appreciate your input.


Mac  <mac61554 at cgocable.net> - Friday, 10/27/00 13:52:20 GMT

Mastermyr Find; Dave:

One of the major problems in history and archeology is that of context. We have some parts of the puzzle, but there are always major pieces missing. In the case of the Mastermyr find, we have a single tool chest, a random find. What we don't have is the entire shop. The tool chest seems to be limited to those items that were useful and/or portable. Given the lack of handles on the chest and many of the tools, it might have even been excess property being taken to another location to provide some convenient tools. It is a comprehensive, but still random assortment, just as we would find in our own tool boxes.

As a well known astronomer once said: Absense of evidence is not evidence of absense. When we did some of the spoon bits at Oakley Forge we just mashed them down over a stake that we shaped like the back of a spoon. I'm sure that a similar stake or object existed in the shop where the bits were made and was lost/worn out/recycled/turned to rust 900 years ago. The evidence for the stake is the bits themselves. (I just can't see someone slowly grinding the hollow with a stone, or carving it with a chisel, when they can form it with a couple of well-placed blows.) ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 10/27/00 14:13:27 GMT

Dave and Bruce,

This is strictly conjecture, but I suspect that the spoon form was the end of a log. Or possibly the bick. (plate #8, Item #75)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 15:23:26 GMT

Coal: Mac, Generaly bituminous (soft coal) is the better blacksmithing coal. It reaches welding heat with very little air and does not need continous air to maintain a fire. However, we all use what is available.
In Britian it is common to use coal "breeze", finely ground or powdered coal. For almost three millennia charcoal was THE fuel used by blacksmiths. Many still swear it is the best but others complain about the volume needed and the light dust.

Today many smiths use gas forges due the lack of a local source of coal. Oil forges are also becomming more common.

The true test of good smithing coal is if you can forge weld with it reliably. I've seen a forge weld made in a clean forge using a couple handfuls of coal that didn't even fill the fire pot and without waiting for the coal to coke down. It was a high grade of Pennsylvania bituminious coal.

If it works, use it. Sounds like your family has a tradition that should be maintained.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 16:01:15 GMT

Spoon Forms: ALL, my comments on that subject got archived last week.

I pointed out that a somewhat lost technique of using a wood block and forming the depression with the hot iron as you work is currently being demonstrated by Frank Turley among others. This is an expediant measure when a form is not available, but it is simple and very likely used thousands of years ago.

That said, close examination of the shape and the extension of the radius up the stem supports Bruce's statement that it was likely formed over a stake type tool or a section of anvil.

Bruce is also correct in the fact that even though there were numerous tools it was not nearly a full set of tools.
The whole of the Mastermyr find is a mystery. My outline of a possible scenerio explains a lot. . Sled filled with tools and supplies breaks through ice. Tool chest falls out lightening the load. Sled is pulled free by owner or beast of burden (dogs, reindeer, horse, owner?). Some items may have remained in the sled or not existed in the first place.

Even if the water was shallow at the time retreval may have been impossible as the exact location may not have been able to be found. The fact that the location of the find in modern times was lost and searched for several times shows the dificulties.

One thing is definite, basic blacksmithing methods nor tools have not changed in thousands of years. The best and simplest method is almost always the way any task was done.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 16:37:10 GMT

Hi Guru,

I had a piece of silver steel rod 3.5mm diameter.I thought I could forge a small gouge used in detail carving.So I took a small length of rod forged the tip into a screwdriver's tip with a thickness approx. 0.8mm.So what I had to do now was to curve the tip and make the gouge.For this job I made a small mold(like a swage block) and punch 3.5mm diameter as well.I anealed the tip of the tool and after that, I put on the mold.I started to hit it with the punch, without hitting it because I thought that it would be easy at that thickness(0.8mm) to make the curve.The tip started to take a small curve.And then at the third blow the tip cracked lengthwise.
I thought that I should aneal again the tip before I continued hiting it, so I made a new tool from the beginning.Then when I was at the point to punch the curve of the tip I started to punch a couple of times then I anealed the tip and again and again but finally the tip cracked again!
What could be wrong? Should I aneal the tip more often? Maybe I should aneal it for a longer period because the tip is thin? Is silver steel a bad type of steel for forging?

Thank you very much.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Friday, 10/27/00 19:24:01 GMT

I am sorry, in my previous email I mean gauge, not gouge.

Thank you.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Friday, 10/27/00 19:26:12 GMT

Silver Steel: George, I don't know what that is. If its a type of stainless steel then the annealing process may actually be hardening the steel.

Stainless steels require heating and quenching in water or oil to anneal. Hardening is by heating and cooling in air (or oil). The times and temperatures are critical and are determined by the specific alloy. It is very difficult to generalize about stainlesses because they vary so much. However they are ALMOST handled opposite of plain carbon steels.

Tool steels require a very long slow anneal. Many require a temperature controlled furnace to cool slow enough.

Before you can heattreat any steel you need to know what it is you are dealing with. In the old days all steels were plain carbon steels of varying qualities and it was possible to generalize about heattreating. When high alloy steels of unknown composition are involved it is impossible to generalize.

You need to know the "standard alloy number" AND what standard it is designated under. Manufacturers numbers are like a tradename or trademark and do not count as standard numbers.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 20:34:08 GMT

Silver Steel: George, I'm guessing its what we call stainless because Kiwi has used the term. But in American enginerring terms it is not a term. Help us on this one if you can.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 10/27/00 20:41:02 GMT

Thank you for the answer.
About silver steel, I think it is a tool steel and specificaly tool steel blanks that come ready ground with different diameters and great acuracy(I dont know where it is used) and I think this name was used in the UK mostly.From what I 've found out in the past from another person silver steel is high carbon tool steel, the "silver" referring to the appearance of the steel after being ground.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Friday, 10/27/00 22:23:40 GMT

At the webpage of West Yorkshire steel Co. I've found the following infos: "Silver Steel is a 1% carbon tool steel supplied centreless ground to close tolerances etc...".
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Friday, 10/27/00 22:35:30 GMT

re: Monica Hardening /annealing silver
Monica while working silver I bring the piece to a dull orange (1100F) and quench in water making the silver malleable until my pounding/shaping work hardens the material. You can hear the difference in sound as the piece becomes work hardened and needs to be heated again. To harden an item after all work is done I place the piece in a kiln and bring it up to Temp app 650F and let sit for 6-7 hrs and cool down. The item now is hardened and would need to be brought back up to the 1100 degrees and quick quenched to be worked on again.
Silversmith  <rjarmb at aol.com> - Saturday, 10/28/00 00:11:51 GMT

George sounds like what we call drill rod-- it's usually 0-1 unless specially ordered otherwise.
kid  <xxx> - Saturday, 10/28/00 00:38:29 GMT

Hey one more day until I'm there. Also, Ron Reil has forge welded copper.
Torin  <torin at primenet.com> - Saturday, 10/28/00 00:59:50 GMT

0-1: Lets assume George's Silver steel is 0-1. To anneal heat to 1400-1450°F (760-790°C), cool no faster than 40°F (22°C) per hour. This rate needs to be maintained for 4 to 5 hours. The temperature varies but the cooling rate is the same for alloy tool steels. On a small part it is easy to lose heat at too fast a rate and end up with a hard part without quenching. A thin section of water hardening steel will air harden if you are not careful.

To test the above cooling rate, heat your part to above non-magnetic and put into your annealing medium (lime or vermiculite). Come back four hours later and remove the part and observe it in low light. The part should still be a low red but hotter than purple/red. If it has cooled to a purple/red or black heat then it has cooled too fast.

To anneal a small piece of tool steel you may need to bury it with a larger piece of steel heated much hotter (an orange). Bury the two pieces next to each other but not quite touching. Test as above. Remember, the 40°F (22°C) per hour is a maximum rate, the slower the anneal the softer the steel (to a point).

Its not quite like annealing medium and standard high carbon steel.

Silversmith, Thanks!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/28/00 01:22:40 GMT

dear guru
heeeelp!! i've recently made a gate using mild steel, the features on are unpainted i blud them with heat then used an automotive laquer to stop them rusting it failed miserably. Any suggestions please i normaly use conservation wax on outdoor pieces bit cant in this sitation because it being handled. any ideas majorly appreciated

mark potter
mark potter  <hiddenforge at supanet.com> - Saturday, 10/28/00 01:23:25 GMT


Well that explains why the steel cracks when I try to bend it to a 3.5mm radius curve.Would properly annealed steel bend to this curve without problems?

It seems to me that since I have no annealing medium and I am just using a torch to heat the tool, I should work the tool while it is red hot, in order not to break it, right?

Thank you very much.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Saturday, 10/28/00 02:57:58 GMT

George, yes. The bar, if it is "drill rod", will be annealed as supplied. It will not withstand sharp bending as-is but is will take bending. It comes annealed so that it can be machined prior to heattreating. After heattreating further finishing is almost always done you grinding only.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/28/00 03:04:43 GMT

Outdoor Ironwork: Mark, Several folks have asked about "clear" finishes for outdoor iron work. Their are none. PLEASE read my 21st Century article on rust and its prevention.

{insert those ideas here}

After you have rust proofed the gate as above then you can use a spray gun and lacquer, or spray cans, or an air brush to reproduce the 'virgin' iron colors and finishes.

You could also use red-oxide primer, some maroon lacquer and some brown and black to produce a genuine rust look.

Both virgin iron and old rusted are finishes everyone askes about and they are IMPOSSIBLE TO MAINTAIN!!!!!! Yes, I am yelling (not at you Mark but the world in general). Every idiot and his brother has written about "natural" finishes on wrought iron. The only "natural" rust finish is rusted. Rusted to dust!

Now. . . Hollywood produces beautiful, authentic looking, wrought iron using wood, plaster, plastic and PAINT. So why not paint the real thing to look the way you want it.

Every week we are asked several times about rust finishes. But the people that want them don't want it to rust forever. But they don't want to clean and finish it the only way that will stop the rust.

In our modern world with acid rain, auto exhaust and general air polution rust and corrosion is much worse than it was 200 years ago. Combine that with you customer not wanting to have to manintain a finish (constant waxing or repainting) and its a serious problem.

The type of finish I recommend it NOT cheap. It can double the cost of a simple piece and is a significant adder to first class work. But is it first class if in a year it is rusted and pitted???

Many smiths I know ignore the problem. Others put the finishing on the customer. The "Real Wrought Iron Company" brags about the great corrosion resistance of the product but insist on repainting every 5 years. If you bought a new automobile and it required repainting in 5 years would you consider it a good deal? A proper industrial quality finish (such as most automotive finishes) will last 20 years. Why shouldn't your ironwork?

You put the effort and art into creating the iron. Why not finish it with the same care. I would give my customer choices.

1) Let them finish it.

2) A competitive dust it off and paint it finish that you will not guarantee any more than your competition does.

3) A first class finish with specifications. As a small business you cannot guarantee the finish but you can recommend it and let the customer know it should last for twenty years (10 times longer than the line 2 competive finish).

If you REALLY want that natural look, it may be cheaper to produce the entire piece in stainless. You can put a lifetime guarantee on that (actually a couple millenia).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/28/00 03:05:31 GMT

George . . . further finishing is done BY grinding. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/28/00 03:06:37 GMT


Yes it must be "dril rod".So to bend a 0.8mm thick piece to the 3,5mm radius curve, I should anneal it more thoroughly, if I want to work with it, without heating it first?

If I work it when it is red hot will there be any cracking problems?

Thank you very much.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Saturday, 10/28/00 15:20:19 GMT

Howdy GURU,
I have a couple of quick questions, both related to rust. I have access to an anvil with a lot of surface rust, no pits, on the face, that needs to be removed. Could you give me an idea how I would go about it?
And to preserve my anvils, is there something to coat them with that would not affect the forging process, but will protect them from rusting? They are stored out in an open carport, and I have dense fog here sometimes. Cold metal & fog = rust. How about WD-40? All suggestions will greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.
Randy  <randye at myhome.net> - Saturday, 10/28/00 17:05:53 GMT

Itīs called "silver steel" in here in Sweden too. Itīs plain high-carbon steel and should be worked at a good red heat. (Itīs meant to be used for precision work, a bit to expensive to forge.)
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 10/28/00 18:02:04 GMT

Rusty anvil: Randy, a belt sander with 180 grit works well. If its heavily rusted I wet sand to keep the belt from loading up. Flexible sanding disks also work well as long as you don't let the edge dig in.

Well used anvils don't have time to rust. . However, mine are rusting too. Condensation is the biggest problem. WD-40 works if there is a nice wet look after spraying it on. I spray it on machine tables, spread with a paper towel or clean rag to get edges and crevises, then spray again to get that wet look. WD-40 is good for short term but is easy to wipe off when ready to use the tool. For long term you need to do something that doesn't wipe off so easily. A thin coat of high temperature paint is good. It doesn't burn and wears off with use. A thick coating of vasaline works. Don't use motor oil. The detergent in it makes is hydroscopic absorbing water from the air. Bare steel will rust under a coating of motor oil.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 10/28/00 19:47:07 GMT

Rusting anvils.
Here in the rust belt (Oregon, Washington etc.) it is just about inevatable that everything iron rusts. But, I picked up a piece of 3/4 x6 bar stock a while back. When I took it out of the truck I leaned it up against the shed, the old towel I had used to help protect my hands when I moved it ended up sitting on top. Three or four months later I moved the towel, the area that wasn't covered was rusted but the part that had the towel on it wasn't. Mind you the towel was getting rained on and had nothing special on it. My theory is that water by itself doesn't cause as much rust as condensation. So perhaps just covering your anvil with a towel might keep it claen.
Another option could be a product from Slide Corp. They make a dry rust proffing spray for molds and dies. They sent me a sample a while back and it seems to work pretty good.
Moldy Jim  <ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff> - Saturday, 10/28/00 22:03:29 GMT

another blacksmith told me that when he makes hinges, he uses a forming pin that's just slightly smaller in diameter than the permanent hinge pins. he said he gets really close tolerances that way. it seems to me that the forming pin should be the same. what do you think?
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Sunday, 10/29/00 00:13:12 GMT

Hinge Pins: Coondogger, He may be drilling or reaming the hinge after forming. One trick to making hinges is to bend the part for eye forward THEN roll it around. In Europe they almost NEVER weld hinges, but they put the gap in the back where you can't see it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 00:32:00 GMT

hello my name is will and i would like to learn how to forge but here is my delima i am 13 years old. oh and another delima a well i live in a small town so if you can help me i would be grateful
will  <willbur12345 at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 01:19:18 GMT

Dilemas: Will, neither is too much of a problem. However, at your age it helps to have a teacher. Go to ABANA-Chapter.com and look for the nearest chapter. They will have monthly meetings and will be glad to help you.

Now, tools can be a problem. You need an anvil and forge. Forges can be make-shift primitive things and work fine. But an anvil is different. 90-100 pounds is about the minimum weight even at your age (size?). If you can afford a used anvil the folks at the ABANA-Chapter will be able to help you find one. Alternatives are described on our 21st Century page and the iForge page.

The other tools you will need are a hammer. Start with about a 2 pound hammer, no bigger. For tongs you can use channel locks and Vise-grips until you make your own.

While you are looking for the neccessary accoutrments study the books listed in the Getting Started article. One or more may be available from your local library. All are in print and available to purchase.

Let me know when you need more help or direction.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 02:02:44 GMT

Im searching for books and videos on how to heat and work steel and iorn to make my own knives and tools.
Beit you have any info on this would be most helpful.
naugatuck Narragansett
Naugatuck Narragansett  <Rasjungle at aol.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 07:37:31 GMT

Hi! Thanks, for checking out my question.
I am trying to find information about making a metal rose.
If you can refer me to books, internet information, or technical advice and informatiom, I would appreciate it very much
Allen Baggs  <Abaggs306 at cs.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 07:46:35 GMT

Anvil rusting in places not hammered on: Who cares?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Sunday, 10/29/00 09:46:21 GMT

Olle, thank you for the help.
George Chrysochoides  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Sunday, 10/29/00 10:34:52 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am about a 6 year artist/smith, got my own shop in the garage. work 40hr/week for another. I bought a 50# USA cast anvil, need a larger one, but this one must carry me for now, I was hammering lightly a couple weeks ago and the tail, from the hardy back fell off. I have cast rods and am a good welder. Is there any chance of this working and if so should I preheat(to what temp) and or post heat(agian, to what how long?) Any help here would be appriciated, Thanks Mike
mike du bois  <newanvil at bellsouth.net> - Sunday, 10/29/00 15:53:44 GMT

Broke Anvil: Mike, Cast iron anvils are door stops broken or not. Don't try to repair it. If you insist on using it grind the break smooth and use it as-is.

Make your self a bench plate to use hardy tools or set them then in the end of a piece of steel shafting (a VERY good anvil when struck length wise).

Cracked Anvil wrote and suggested that you rather impolitely return it to whom ever you purchased if from.

Just because a piece of metal of dubious quality is shaped like an anvil it doesn't mean it is an anvil. A very GOOD anvil doesn't need to look like an anvil. A rectangular tool steel block WITHOUT horn or hardy hole is infinitely better than a cast iron block of any shape.

On the other hand this is a common failure on good anvils too. I wouldn't try to repair them either. The probibility of damaging the remainder is too great and heat treating an anvil is beyond the capability of almost anyone other than anvil manufacturers.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 17:05:27 GMT

Allen -- Dorothy Stiegler, the lovely and talented president emeritus of the Artist Blacksmiths of North America, did a detailed thing on how to make a rose in The Anvil's Ring not too long ago.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 17:09:43 GMT

Rose Allen we have several flower demos including a rose on our iForge page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 17:14:47 GMT

Knives - Tools: Naugatuck, Start with a general blacksmithing book. I highly reccommend Jack Andrews' NEW Edge of the Anvil (see our review).

If you are going to be hardening and tempering steel for tools OR knive you will need a reference that covers the various types of steels. There are tens of thousands of steels and they all require slightly different methods of heat treating. I recommend MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK because it also covers many other metalworking and shop topics. We have a review of MACHINERY'S too. Good used copies can be found on Bibliofind for 1/3 to 1/4 of new price.

Then if you want to get into fancy knife making there are dozens of very good books available from Norm Larson and Centaur Forge.

We have a few articles on blade making and on our iForge page there are numerous tool making demos.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 17:33:57 GMT

Yikes! My 10th grade Latin teacher just got me via ESP and gave me unbridled hell: Dorothy is not president emeritus. She is president emerita. A thousand pardons!
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 18:12:26 GMT

Dang!: I hope that ESP whack across the knuckles stuff isn't catching!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 18:24:20 GMT

I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I'm looking to find a large piece of steel to construct an anvil from. It needs to be 30"long, 18"tall and 4" wide. Looking for scrap steel to save on money. I got this idea from: http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/anvil1/anvil2.html

or if you can find an anvil for me that sells for $1.00-1.10 per lb.
Jay Elliott  <j_boe at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 18:44:03 GMT

I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I'm looking to find a large piece of steel to construct an anvil from. It needs to be 30"long, 18"tall and 4" wide. Looking for scrap steel to save on money. I got this idea from: http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/anvil1/anvil2.html

or if you can find an anvil for me that sells for $1.00-1.10 per lb.
Jay Elliott  <j_boe at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 19:02:27 GMT

Making Anvils: Jay, it's cheaper to buy tool steel than to buy hard facing rods, grinding disks and electricity. .

For a little over $1/pound you can order 4160 from Joseph T. Ryerson ans Sons. Make the upper body out of it (or the entire anvil). Make the lower body out of a block of mild steel plate and weld the two at the waist.

Harden the face by heating with a fan type rosebud and letting it cool. The body of the anvil will soak the heat out of the surface at a quenching rate and produce a hard surface. You can quench behind the torch with water (standard surface hardening) but the operation is tricky.

See our anvil series. I need to replace our anvil plans because the above method is much better.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 19:08:39 GMT


Be glad she got to you before I read the message! (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 19:58:25 GMT

I have bought an ancient Buffalo blower which I hope to get working. I believe it was a hand cranked unit. It doesn't have a gearbox, only a pulley on the side which accepts a leather belt (I think). The pulley is about 2 inches diameter and about 2 inches wide.
It has what looks like cast-in-place lead bearings. The half inch main shaft is not in good condition and needs to be replaced. My question is: can you tell me anything about replacing or recasting the bearings? Also anything else about the blower itself.
Garry J.
Garry Jackson  <garry at silverbrook.com.au> - Sunday, 10/29/00 23:04:53 GMT

Bearings: Garry, I'm mot familiar with this blower. If the shaft is badly worn it should be replaced. The bearings are a metal called "babbit". Depending on the type it is a tin/lead alloy like solder. There are various types. How you replace them depends on the type. Some have bearing caps and cast in two pieces, some are cast around the shaft in the housing. Those cast around the shaft must have some clearance. This is provided by sooting the shaft. The soof is rinsed out with fine oil and you have clearance.

Old editions of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK have instructions on babbiting and Centaur Forge has a how-to booklet and sells the materials.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 10/29/00 23:25:20 GMT

Sounds like Garry's blower is from a farm or rivet forge that is either lever operated or hand cranked. Blowers are mounted under the pan on the side of the twyer(spelling?)I think one is pictured on the 21st Century page.
jerry  <birdlegs at keynet.net> - Monday, 10/30/00 00:11:30 GMT

Blower: Jerry, you are right. My brain was tired.. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/30/00 04:20:29 GMT

Field Expedient Hardy Mount; Mike:

An illumination from a document dated ca. 1360 in the British Museum shows a smith working at a minimalist medieval block anvil with the hardy mounted in the stump alongside. I've used this set-up at one of our reenactments and it seems to work just fine; so, until you get your bench plate or a new anvil, give it a try on either your anvil's present stump or make a dedicated stump for your hardies and other bottome tools.

(Sometimes looking backwards is the best way to keep going!)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Monday, 10/30/00 04:27:39 GMT

Bruce et al:

What would you consider to be the best in an exhibit about early 16:th century weaponry and equipment: "Authentic" stuff with a few dents and maybe some not-perfect welds ( Iīve handled a lot of authentic weapons and know how they usually look), or mirror bright steel that make me look better as a craftsman? Thereīs no true or false answers to this one, Iīd just like some discussion while trying to make up my mind.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Monday, 10/30/00 11:54:41 GMT


>(Sometimes looking backwards is the best way to keep going!)

Good line!


Speaking strictly for myself, I'd prefer a Polished, but used appearance. In other words, the dents should be "repaired", the sword should have an edge, but be slightly nicked in a couple of places, a dent or two in the helm would look good.

The trooper just took his gear off and is in the river taking a primitive bath while his buddy guards his gear. They'll trade places shortly.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 10/30/00 13:03:05 GMT

Degree of Finish on Arms and Armor; Olle:

By the 16th Century you would have had both "munitions" grade armor and weapons for the common soldier or city guard and "top of the line" for nobles and officers. Munitions grade from the 17th century (observed at an exhibit at the Smithsonian a few years back) was plannised out with a rough finish and simply blued or even painted black. The gear for the upper crust would be polished and gleaming. Historically the ratios would be probably 20 or 50 to one, but I'd have about three quarters of the display for the workmanlike, easily maintained gear used by the grunts and about one quarter for the flasshy, shiny and expensive Knight in Shining Armor gear. This would illustrate the differences and contrast the relative expense of the armor and wealth of the bearers. (How many man-hours would it take to keep it polished... by hand? That's what squires, pages and servants are for.)

A cool sunny day on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Monday, 10/30/00 14:19:05 GMT

Armour Finish: Olle, It depends on your audiance and the purpose of the display.

The majority of the public wouldn't know "authentic" if it bit them. And experts are often expert in one area defined by the collections they have studied without a broad knowledge base about practical details of period manufacturing techniques.

If the point is to show off one's abilities then the finest work should be shown with perhaps one example of what "common" work looks like as a comparison.

During the bronze age swords were cast in stone molds. Often this was done in preparation for an immediate battle. The "hords" were probably given rough cast blades without edge or padded grip. If the recruit was lucky he might have time at camp to improve the edge with a quartz or flint scraper and wrap the grip with something. "New" they probably didn't look any better than a sand encrusted piece picked up from the bottom of the sea 2,000 years later. . . But the modern public would not understand.

Here in the U.S. car shows are a big deal. Antique and classic automobile collectors get together to show off their "babies". Every part is cleaned and polished, painted or plated. The general quality of finish is a thousand times better than the original vehical.

Everyone wants to see the best, even if its better than reality.

Atli, "(How many man-hours would it take to keep it polished... by hand?. . .)"

Today that is what Stainless Steel is for!!!!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/30/00 15:16:15 GMT

Well, that pretty well sums up my own thoughts on the subjekt. Munition-quality was often wery low, so I think Iīll settle for non-com quality; good but no glitz. BTW, a lot of the shiny armour you see today is the result of generations of over-energetic museum staff members polishing away (Dont se many of that kind these days ;-). True field-armour nearly always had some kind of top-coat, everything from crude oil paint to gold.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Monday, 10/30/00 16:21:20 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am thinking of starting some metalwork. I am an interior decorator that has only worked with wood and has no idea whatso ever about blacksmithing. The things I wish to make have more to do with wire or thin pieces of metal rather than heavier work. Someone has told me that an Inverter is a good solution, but it is rather expensive. What do you think I need at this point and how easy -and safe- is it for someone like me to use? I would be extremely grateful to get a prompt answer as I am now equiping my workshop. Thank you.
Danae Kotsi  <d_kotsi at hotmail.com> - Monday, 10/30/00 17:59:43 GMT

Wood to Metal: Danae, The first thing you need to remember is that almost all your wood working equipment runs too fast for metal work. Most drill presses designed for wood work will drill small holes in steel but will burn up bits 1/2" (13mm) and larger. Band saws run 5 to 10 times too fast for most metal work.

I'm not sure what type of inverter you are speaking of. For single phase to three pahse conversion there are solid state inverters for small motors and dynamic (rotary) inverters for high horsepower motors.

If you are talking about an arc-welder they are a very safe device to use. As with any work that creates sparks, fire is the most common hazzard, expecialy in wood working shops where every corner may hide collections of saw dust or fine planner chips. Arc welders are very inexpensive considering their usefullness and are the most efficient way to stick two pieces of steel together. However, an oxy-acetylene torch setup has a much wider range of usefulness including cutting, welding, brazing, soldering and general heating.

Thin metal and wire generaly are worked cold and do not come under the category of blacksmithing. Although I do know a smith that hot forges dollhouse sized objects. Working metal cold uses most of the same techniques used in blacksmithing. Much blacksmithing is also done cold. It requires more force so machines are often involved for twisting and bending. Cold shearing is almost always more efficient than hot cutting if the power is available.

I suggest you check our review of Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork then order a copy from Norm Larson or Centaur Forge. Its not just about ironwork and has a wide range of styles and techniques.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/30/00 18:51:37 GMT

I'm a beginning blacksmith and wondering
if you could suggest a type of metal that
would be easily flattened or bent when heated.
Calgar14  <boz at golden.net> - Monday, 10/30/00 20:20:13 GMT

Soft Metal: Calgar14, Blacksmiths generaly work with steel of various carbon content. The lower the carbon the softer the steel. Common "mild" steel has .15% to .20% carbon. This is the most commonly used material. There are lower carbon steels made especialy for wire and sheet that is to be cold worked. These are hard to obtain in small quantity or sizes common for blacksmithing.

Mild steel is purchased from steel supply wharehouses or service centers. Hot roll is cheaper than cold drawn but some sizes are only available in cold drawn or "key stock". Hot roll comes in 20 foot lengths and cold drawn in 12 foot lengths. Be prepared and carry a hack-saw with you. Cutting charges are expensive and they probably won't cut the steel for you unless you have an open account. Minimum purchases are standard. You will probably need to purchase $50 worth.

I cut 20 foot lengths into 12 foot and 8 foot pieces. Most smithwork gets cut shorter but ocassionaly you need a piece longer than 10 feet.

Machine shops, fabrication shops and other blacksmiths can be good sources. Offer to pay more than warehouse prices. These folks paid the minimum, have transported the steel or paid for delivery and cutting charges.

Ocassionaly hardware stores have three foot lengths of round and square stock. This is almost always zinc plated and is not reccommended for forging unless its a last resort.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 10/30/00 21:57:04 GMT

Mr. Guru

I have a couple of questions I hope you can help me with,
first can you tell me where I can find detailed step by step
instructions on how to build a foot powered power hammer? I
don't want to spend a lot of time and money and then find
out I should have done something different.
The second one is can you give me a few combinations of
steel that work good together for making damascus for knives.

Bill  <camper at usmo.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 03:00:21 GMT

I am looking for blacksmithing courses or workshops in northern New england. Thanks
Anthony Rice  <tonyrice at earthlink.net> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 03:25:04 GMT

Guru......I just got informed by the wife that she wants a life-sized sunflower on the gate I'm making for her. I can handle all the forge details except for one. What do I do about the "face" of it. You know , the front with all the seeds on it. Got any ideas ?? I'm a one man shop , but I've got a mig that I could cheat with. Thanks
Pein  <IFORGEIT at prodigy.net> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 07:13:17 GMT

Seeds: Pein, Rivets welded to a plate? Acorn nuts on studs? OR you could bite the rivet and incise lines in a heavy plate (3/8 or 1/2") with a chisel. The pattern is basicaly triangular. I'd lay it out with a scriber, chase with a cold chisel then follow with a hot chisel. If you look close the pattern is almost straight lines but they are actualy slight curves. A ton of work either way.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 08:54:03 GMT


Make it a smooth plate, but turn it into a smiley face for her. Much eaiser than the rivets.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 12:40:35 GMT

I've run across a couple well-made and apparently old hammers stamped, "Bell System." They have a hole about 7/8th inch, on the peen side, running parallel to the handle. I'd sure like to know something about these; would appreciate any email.
Tony Martin
Tony  <tmrtn at misn.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 15:14:50 GMT

Guru and Others:
Did I blow it? I bought an old Century Forge with hand crank blower for $12. Rebuilt the stand that was in shambles, and redid the pan. The pan is about 22inches across. I lined it with a mix of concrete and perelite. I see where some are using plain clay and thin. Mine has a little crest to the slope from the edge to the grate. It seems like I have trouble getting enough coal on the fire to heat over 1/3 of a horseshoe at at time. Of course I'm using that trashy Oklahoma coal. Any suggestions.
NOTE: The fire ban in Okla. has been lifted so I can fire up again if it stops raining long enough to get the coal dry.
Nolan  <Ndorsey at ck.tec.ok.us> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 15:29:40 GMT


I have recently purchased a NC-Daddy gas forge, and I am wondering if I have the gas pressure set correctly. I am not having any trouble getting steel up to working temp, but I have had zero luck welding, and seem to be getting more scale than I would expect.

I have read that if you have scale forming while steel is in the fire that you have a problem, but I am not sure exactly what. Currenlty I am running 10 lbs of pressure. A frield with the same forge is running 15, but he often looses carbon (sparking) which never happens with my set up.

Should I be running higher pressure? How hot should the forge be? How can I tell how hot it is?

Jim  <freely at bbo.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 15:36:11 GMT


I have one of the Bell systems hammers, and was told that they were designed to install step into telephone poles. You would drive the step in a bit with the hammer, then put the hole in the ober the "L" in the step, giving you a long lever to screw the ste the rest of the way in. I've used mine to install steps up to a treestand, and it worked great!

Jim  <freely at bbo.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 15:39:01 GMT

Guru! How do I establish a password to enter the slack-tub . I have tryed typing a pass-word in but that didnt work. thank you. Jim Griswold
Grizz  <tillgrizz at cs.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 15:42:34 GMT

Bell System: Tony, don't know about those holes. Definitely a linemans tool. Collar one and ask. If I see ours when I go to lunch I'll ask.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 15:53:20 GMT

Forge Pan: Tony, Small flat bottomed forges are hard to heat large items without a large pile of coal. If your coal is bad you may never get there. My best recomendation is to send Bruce Wallace a check for some GOOD coal and test it. Then you will have a comparison.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 15:55:42 GMT

Password: Grizz, Heck if *I* know. Never had to do it. . :) Kiwi set me up and I if I need a change I edit the user info file. . .

Let me see what I can figure out. .

Grizz, I find a "Grizz" at firearow at usit.net. Is that you? If not then you will need to try another name.

I'll go do a step-by-step. . More later.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 16:01:50 GMT

NC-Forge: Jim, Gas forges tend to scale more than others. More gas helps. Gauges are notoriously innacurate so comparisons are sometimes more inaccurate. Run the gas up until its TOO much (flames will come out of the door), then adjust back until it stops. Take your time making adjustments as the pressure in the lines needs to stabilize before you know exactly what's happening.

The only personal experiance I have with NC's are with my "Baby" and I don't think it can get up to a welding heat. However, all the two burner and up NC forges are reported to weld just fine and I've witnessed them in use. Jim Hrisoulas uses one in his damascus video without a problem.

One thing that is important is that most gas forges need time to get up to temperature. 45 minutes to an hour or more is not unusual. Do your welding later rather than sooner. Occasionaly you need to choke the vents with a brick to get that higher temperature.

My big shop built forge takes about 20 minutes to get up to working heat. It will weld in about an hour and melt billets into a puddle if I don't run out of gas first. . . Which is usualy the case since it needs a bulk tank that I've never gotten around to getting.

Grizz: I get all sorts of errors when I try to use an existing name. Try another, Grizz2 or Grizzly .. Something different.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 16:48:35 GMT


I'm looking for a very easy way to weld in a thin steel patch panel. Would thermite work if applied between the two panels, how would this work? Any other ideas? Thanks!
greg  <gzurla at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 21:27:37 GMT

Thermit: Greg, Thermit is strictly for heavy sections. Rail road rail, castings, heavy plate, anvils.
Sheet metal panels are best resistant spot welded. Next best is riveted. Low power MIG with small wire is used by body shops but requires skill to tack the sheets together at select locations and then close the gaps incrementaly to reduce warpage. Gas welding can be used with a very small tip or a specialized tip. Again a high skill level is required.

If a small hole is to be patched soldering or brazing can be used. Soldering produces the least distrotion. The surfaces must be absolutely clean. Solder will not stick to steel so the surfaces are copper flashed with copper sulfate solution. Then tinned with a low temperature high tin solder and rosin flux. I prefer flux with powdered tin (works great). Once both the base metal and patch are tinned they are placed together and gently heated until the the tinning melts and solder is added to fill the gap. In old time body work dents were "leaded" with a hard lead tin solder. This was filed and smoothed the way we do plastic body putty today.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 10/31/00 21:58:28 GMT

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