WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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 18 - 24, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Hi, I'm looking for a job in blacksmithing but I can't find anyplace near me that does blacksmithing, I live in Nova Scotia.
   - Vahn - Thursday, 10/17/02 23:58:19 GMT

Jobs in Blacksmithing: Vahn, Jobs in this field are far and few between. Most "blacksmiths" run one man shops or if they have workers they are often common laborers, or that is their pay rate. Most busy smiths need laborers that are willing to do the same cleanup, deburring, grinding or finishing job over and over and not have ideas about doing the forge work. This is typical in our mechanized world. One man running a couple machines can keep several others busy doing the unending meanial tasks.

There are four kinds of blacksmithing concerns.
1. Industrial Forge shops
Operate big (huge) forging hammers doing high production work. These are rapidly dissapearing in North America as our basic metals industries move overseas. Most jobs are as production machiine "operators" the skill being in the die-making done elsewhere. Rarest of the rare is open die forging on big hammers. It is still done but only using highly skilled teams of workers.
2. Fabricator
Assembles and welds together everything from pipe rails to fancy railings made from components (often imported). Rarely do any in house forge work. Lots of arc welding, grinding and field installation.
3. Small semi-industrial blacksmith.
An amazing amount of tools (hammers, punchs, chisles, tongs, trowels) are still made by smiths in little shops running a couple small (under 1000 pound) power hammers or forging machines. If they hire help it usualy needs to be highly skilled and willing to do production work.
4. Decorative Blacksmith
Produces everything from hand made nails and hardware to fancy railings and sculpture. Mostly one man shops occasionaly with helpers or common laborers (often part time). Most two man shops are partnerships of some type. Vast majority are underemployed or "starving artists". Many are hobby smiths and do not have employees.
Most of these folks are not listed under "blacksmith". Most fabricators and smiths are listed under "Ironworks" and this often includes big industrial operations and some forges. The industrial forge shops are far and few between but usualy can be found via Thomas Register. However, many are captive shops to manufacturers.

The few real blacksmith shops looking for workers on a regular basis are mostly in the Western part of the country where lots of expensive housing developments are going up in resort areas like the big new ski resorts. The same thing is going on in other parts of the country but not like out West. There may be a similar thing going on in Canada.
   - guru - Friday, 10/18/02 02:38:03 GMT

I have heard of Turley's school of blacksmithing here in Tucson and have seen his comments in this forum but was suprized that he does not have any demos listed in Iforge or does he go under an other name? How is his school rated? Is it a good investment? Richard
   firetongs2002 - Friday, 10/18/02 04:20:09 GMT

Frank Turley's school of blacksmithing is a terrific investment in your future as a smith. Frank has been teaching people to smite hot iron for more than 30 years. His school curriculum covers all aspects of traditional coal-fired smithing. Frank is a renowned historian of colonial Spanish ironwork, the co-author of a University of New Mexico book about same. He has worked as a conservator with museums, is dedicated to the preservation of classic forms. Frank is known through the world of smithing as a leading practitioner and advocate of uncompromising quality in hand-wrought ironwork.
   miles undercut - Friday, 10/18/02 04:46:55 GMT


I've been privilegd to spend a day watching Frank work. I wish I could spend a month at his school.

A good investment? I don't think you could make a better one, if you want to learn to blacksmith.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/18/02 04:47:27 GMT

As for doing demos, Frank does many stints as guest faculty, teaching students throughout the year at leading craft and farrier schools all over the country. His school has hundreds of alums, including such luminaries as Dorothy Stiegler, president of ABANA. (These plugs are unsolicited, by the way.)
   miles undercut - Friday, 10/18/02 04:59:56 GMT


Thank you for remembering the "(These plugs are unsolicited, by the way.)" phrase. I forgot. Not only are they unsolicited, we're probably embarassing the heck out of Frank.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/18/02 14:25:33 GMT

More Embarassment for Master Turley: You can learn more at one of Frank's live demos at a conference in a few hours than you can working and studying alone for years. I have heard nothing but raves about his school and I am sure that folks probably learn more there in a given time than anywhere else. He also teaches at other schools as a guest teacher and was at Penland in North Carolina this past summer.

The on-line iForge demos are a different thing and each person does as they think best. iForge was Bill Epps' way of spreading his knowledge as well as supporting anvilfire and many others have followed suit. Frank makes his living (or part of it) teaching and doing demos at blacksmithing meets. The fact that he shares his wisdom here is greatly appreciated and I would be embarrassed to ask him to do more for what I pay (nothing, and the little blurb for his school on the "The Gurus" page.). Frank is also a large contributor to our International Glossary project.
   - guru - Friday, 10/18/02 16:02:46 GMT

Guru, I did not mean any disrespect for Mr. Turley, his work or his school. I was just courious and also wanted to see some of his work that is why I was asking about him doing demos. I have heard only good things about him. Rich
   firetongs2002 - Friday, 10/18/02 18:34:56 GMT

If I might say a few words about The Master (Mr. Frank Turley). I recently attended his school in Santa Fe and love every minute of it. Watching him work was a rare treat. I watched him make a long handled spoon with just a hammer, anvil and block of wood to say amazing is an understatement. Thank you Frank
   triw - Friday, 10/18/02 18:49:36 GMT

Guru, been thinking of making my own forge hearth. The way I see it, it's just a small steel table with a hole cut in it for a firepot. Does this have to be any particular type of steel? I have access to lots of structural grade like A-36 and A-992 but nothing much fancier than that. If the hearth just holds the firepot (read: brakedrum) and doesn't get too hot would A-36 do? Also what can I finish it with that's weather resistant and won't give off toxic fumes? For example, if I make this at the structural steel shop I work in they can blast and zinc it for me then add a topcoat. I'm worried about the zinc primer and topcoat burning off though. Any high temp paint that a chunk of hot coal won't eat up?
   Rooster - Friday, 10/18/02 20:31:43 GMT

I have an anvilwith the markings OH SS and below that is GC2 and at the bottom is a symbol thats shaped like the state OK. CAN ANYONE HELP IDENTIFY?
   - steelman - Friday, 10/18/02 22:02:31 GMT

guru(s), what is the rough equivilent of steel that i can buy (from the guru shop) that approximates truck spring, coil/leaf. more specifically, what steel to use for drifts, chisels, punches that i can heat treat with the forge. i dont have a controlled furnace or pyrometer. magnet, eye, and heat is all i can do. i will not invest in the exotic alloys; proper heat treatment for this material is way beyond what i can do.

2)i have read that you can get a decent case hardened surface with A36(for use in back up tools, spacers, ect,) the recipe described "after shaping, cherry heat, quench in brine, no temper. what is your take on this??

good references??? (dont know how much it pertains to this, but i have a copy of the MH, 26th ed)

thanks again..
   rugg - Friday, 10/18/02 23:29:36 GMT

Rugg, the Guru will correct me, please, if I err, but I believe springs are usually 5160 steel. This is a .60% carbon steel with some chromium and other foo-foo dust added. If you cannot find leaf springs, 4140 or 4150 is pretty good for tools. 4340 is also good but more expensive and harder to find. A36 is usually pretty handy stuff, having around .26% Carbon. However, that is the maximum and it might have a lot less and won't harden worth a darn. A lot of machine shafts are made of 4140 if you can find some broken pieces to chop up, they work pretty good. You will have to heat above the non-magnetic point by about 100 degrees: a bright red, oil quench, temper around 475-500F to get good hardness with good toughness. Your household oven will do this very well, hold it about 1 hr per inch of thickness.
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 10/18/02 23:46:47 GMT

Hey Now, Keep the raves coming. I'm lapping it up.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 10/19/02 00:24:22 GMT

QC, after quenching 4140, let it air cool until you can barely hold onto it and then into the oven??? you dont just quench the working end, let it cool, then temper???
   rugg - Saturday, 10/19/02 00:26:57 GMT


I'd suggest that you look back to the first time you posted your question, and read the advice posted then.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/19/02 01:10:21 GMT


No blush? (grin)

Find the message on the virtual hammerin, and please join the Anvilfire Gallery. I'd be honored to see some of your work posted in there.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/19/02 01:13:06 GMT

Forge Steel: Rooster, Structural plate is fine. There is no practical difference in steels for this application. Most folks use 3/16" (10ga plate) but up to 3/8" give more life due to corrosion.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/19/02 01:29:02 GMT

Spring Steels: I depends on the spring. . . All steel has the same approximate modulus of elasticity and thus the same "springyness". Springs are made of everything from 1040 and 1095 to alloy steels like 5160 and 5360. Springs are also made of work hardened stainless steel wire (bronze too). AND if the travel is short you can make springs of mild steel and even wrought iron. The difference between a hard spring and a soft spring is the hard spring will travel farther, then break before bending. A soft spring will bend after a short distance but it won't break.

5160 IS a common spring steel but MANY other alloys are used depending on the engineering requirements.

It is best to oil quench most spring and tool steels to be on the safe side. Mineral oil works well. Tempering is best done immediately after hardening (the quench). See our FAQ on Heat Treating.

As QC said, A-36 like most mild steel does not harden appreciably for useful purposes. IT DOES harden if over heated, quenched in water and then not tempered. It is also brittle in this condition. Surface case hardening is for wear resistance and does little to increase overall strength except in very small parts where the maximum of 1/32" case is an appreciable fraction of the size of the part. Again, see the FAQ on heat treating.

FORGE PAINT Rooster, there really is no such thing as a high temperature weather resistant paint or coating. If a forge is left ourdooors it will rust away in no time if coal ash is left in it. The only thing to do is to clean and repaint with high temperature paint when not in use. Since this is rather high maint. most folks let them rust and replace it when it falls apart. . .

The best thing is too keep a coal forge in a good dry place.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/19/02 01:51:39 GMT

Quenchcrack, Rugg, PawPaw, Before I address the Anvilfire Gallery question, I must say something about tool steel and heat treatments. QC and Rugg...I love you guys, but you can't guess about these steels, or you're going to lose and eye or worse. What follows is the Turley Opinion. Pardon me while I hold forth.

I am not a proponent of junkyard steel tools, unless you're making an occasional short-run shop tool for your own use. If it breaks or bends, only you will be embarassed in your own shop. Don't sell a junkyard steel tool. First of all, maybe it will be brought back to you as a failed tool. Or let's say they liked the tool and they want another just like it. If you didn't keep a job card, you will not remember what junk you forged it from. Maybe 5 years have passed since the 1st tool. Are you going to remember that it was a 1959 plymouth torsion bar? And furthermore, what if you do remember? Where in heck are you going to find an old matching torsion bar? And in this junk category, I'm including leaf and coil springs. Francis Whitaker said, and I paraphrase, "Why make a tool from spring steel? You're supposed to make springs from spring steel. That's why it called spring steel."

I would suggest looking in the Anvilfire store under tool steel; drill rod. I personally like S7. It is versitile, as it can be tempered for either cold or hot work. It is air hardening at 1725F, where you're just creeping into an orange heat from a bright red. It is a high alloy steel, but it is certainly not "exotic". Other common cold work steels for general toolroom use are W1, W2, and O1. Good hot work steels are H13, H21, S1, and S7. There are many others, but after smithing for a number of years, I tend to like these. The four digit series steels use Society of Automotive Engineering numbers, as outlined in Machinery's Handbook. Machinery's calls them Standard Steels, NOT tool steels. It is true that many of them are alloyed so that you can make tools from them. 4140 was mentioned. The last two digits in this numbering system indicate the carbon content, expressed with a zero preceding the decimal...thusly 0.40. NOT .40. So, the former means 40/100ths OF 1%, not 40%. 4140, for example, is made by "recipe", so to speak, so that it has molybdenum, chromium, and silicon add to the melt in controlled amounts when manufactured.

It has been mentioned before that the kitchen range is designed to cycle, so that if you are shooting for 450F, it may go to 500F, then back to 400F. then back to 500F, etc. Not real great.

This bit of info may raise more questions than it answers, especially for a beginner. Try to locate a tool steel distributor (Anvilfire is one). Obtain, along with the steel, heat treatment and forging specifications. They will be furnished on a sheet, in a booklet, or in a pamphlet. Follow the directions.

Pawpaw, I will seriously consider sending some pics of my work.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 10/19/02 02:11:48 GMT

I have some 1" diameter 1/16" wall tubing to bend. I do not have a bender availible. I vaguely recall something about filling the tube with sand, putting it in the forge, and bending it around a plywood form. Any info, or is this all in my head? thx's, FAB.
   Fred - Saturday, 10/19/02 03:15:32 GMT

   - steelman - Saturday, 10/19/02 03:45:35 GMT

just a note to add a bit to the master... I whole heartedly agree with you on the junk yard steels.. if for no other reason than you have NO Idea what was done to that spring, antisway bar etc. I forswore the free stuff after the second time I forged a very nice blade only to find it fail from internal cracking (truck spring.. my guess is that they overloaded the spring a bit to often) wasting a lot of time and effort.. and it made me mad..(grin)
also I would sigest that the heat treatment sheets be used as a starting point not read as gospel.. they (in most cases) are based on a 1" square section and stock in differant crossections can react very differantly. Ie W1 is a water hardening stock but in say a blade it will most likely crack in water and O1 is an oil hardining steel but I have had it air quench to full hardness. still those sheets are filled with very good info and make a good place to start from.

   MP - Saturday, 10/19/02 03:47:35 GMT

My old Bethlehem booklet says that W1 should be quenched in oil when the sections are thin, and although 01 will "harden" in air, it is unstable when hardened in air.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 10/19/02 11:38:06 GMT

Frank, I'm always ready to listen to anything you have to say. I agree with everything you said if the smith is running a business and making tools for the public. I was speaking from a hobbiest/amateur perspective. A lot of us just can't go out and buy $20.00 per foot flat ground tool steel to make our tools with. And as a hobby smith, I really need to focus on technique without worrying about ruining a high-dollar piece of steel. However, if you are an accomplished smith, and are making a tool or knife or whatever for a customer, yep, you really need the right steel. I also do a lot of woodcarving and there is a brand of carving tools made from spring steel. For the reasons you quoted, I don't own any of those tools. Don't even get me started on the edge-holding ability of RR spike knives! Working with tool steels is an area most hobby smiths may be ill equipped for. Using a piece of junkyard steel may be safer, easier, and less costly than using the good stuff. At least until we have taken your Blacksmithing Courses!
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/19/02 13:13:42 GMT

Rugg, steel does not even begin to harden (transform to martensite) until it reaches about 650F. It continues to transform over a range of temperatures down to room temperature or below. If you are quenching a thick section, remember the inside of the part is cooling slower than the outside. Quench the part down to room temperature, or the temperature of the quenchant. There are occasions when you may only want to quench the edge of a blade and let the heat in the spine temper it. Just remember that if you begin to temper before the part has finished transforming, you will get a lower hardness than if you quench to room temperature and temper.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/19/02 13:53:10 GMT

Tube bending: Fred, You don't need heat, just tamp the pipe and crimp the top real tight. I've made 5" diameter rings this way before that I had to get wiring thru for lighting. Flattens alittle but not enough to ruin the look of the bend.
   - Pete-Raven - Saturday, 10/19/02 14:17:28 GMT

Hi,I have little problem.I am a young blacksmith from Czech Republic.I am 24 and it is a good time to move and see the World and learn new skills. I would like to get a legal job in UK but do not know who to contact. There are very few possibilities how to get a working permit in UK.I do not want to marry any English girl to become British citizen and the other way is ask somebody to employ me and he has to manage all those king papers. Could you recomend me some web sites or email adresses or forges where they need young, strong, skilled boy? I can start in July 2003 after finishing my Civil Service. Thanks. Charles
   Karel - Saturday, 10/19/02 15:01:40 GMT

At the last meet I went to I won a few sections of A-6 and H-13 steel in a raffle. They are almost the right size and shape already for hammer heads, so I thought thats what they were intended to be. Is this steel good for hammer heads? If so should I forge them to shape or just grind to shape?
   Rooster - Saturday, 10/19/02 20:49:16 GMT

wadda think about burning all the Iforge demos onto a CD and selling it to guys like me? Oejran tried to make one for me, but I found it unreadable..I appreciate his efforts.
Maybe you folks would like to offer one for sale?

   chuck pratt - Saturday, 10/19/02 22:20:00 GMT


in francis whittaker's blacksmith's cookbook
on page 45 is a project entitled 'by candlelight ii'.
the project is for basket candlesticks.

i am having trouble visualizing how to make the twelve
1/4 x 11-3/4 rods all the same or what type of template
he is referring to. he says to 'shape on form'. anyone
have ideas on how to form the basket rods?

my first thought is that he had a three-dimensional jig
he built for this project.

after thinking about it more perhaps he used two different
size metal balls connects by pipe/rod to create the form.

Terry L. Ridder >
   terry l. ridder - Sunday, 10/20/02 02:00:09 GMT


i guess the place to start with the basket candlestick project, page 45 of
the blacksmith's cookbook by francis whittaker, is with what we do know.

each basket candlestick is 14" tall.
the top and bottom rings are 1-1/4" wide.
the center ring is 3/4" wide.
the rings account for 3-1/4" of the height.
going by the photograph the legs would appears to be approx. 2" tall.
therefore, the rings and legs together account for 5-1/4" of the height.
therefore, the baskets account for 8-3/4" of the height.

the center ring and the 3/4" flat made in each of the 1/4" round by
11-3/4" is the reference point for each basket candlestick.

each spiral is flattened at each end after forming.
given the photograph and knowing the dimension on the rings i think it
is safe to say that a 1/2" is flattened at each end.

there are 12 spiral pieces, they are spaced every 30 degrees.
the crosses are spaced every 60 degrees.
there is no mention as to what size drill was used to make the crosses.
based on the photograph, i am assuming a 1/4" drill, perhaps 3/16".
there are 36 6/32 machine screws with at least nuts
( perhaps lock washers as well. )
the three legs are 120 degrees apart.

this means:
the bottom basket is formed from 7-3/4" of the 1/4" round.
the top basket is formed from 3-1/4" of the 1/4" round.

whether forming the top or bottom basket it is safe to assume that
the forming started at the 3/4" flat all ready made in each spiral.
basically, you need to use that 3/4" flat as the reference point in
creating either the top or bottom spiral.

this still leaves the question as to how francis formed each spiral.

a one off piece he may have used a hardwood form, but with 24 spirals
i tend to doubt he used a hardwood form. from the little i do know of
francis whittaker he does not strike me as a wood patternmaker.

there is also the fact that each pair of basket candlesticks are spiraled
in opposite directions. there is a left-hand spiral and a right-hand spiral.
( clock-wise spiral and counter clock-wise spiral )
this would suggest at least two forms and two templates.

yet another point of confusion is in the description of the parts to
make a single basket candlestick. it lists only 1: 1/8" x 3-1/8" circle, bottom.
i would assume that this would go in the top ring to support the candle.
however, in looking at the photograph it would appear that the circle is
in the bottom ring. that would leave only the ends of the spirals
supporting the candle. i would assume that there are 2: 1/8" x 3-1/8" circle,
bottom pieces. one to support the candle and one to give the legs something
to attach to. the legs attaching to the 1/8" thick wall of the ring does not
seem to make sense even if you assume that the legs are attached to one another
in the center.

Terry L. Ridder >
   terry l. ridder - Sunday, 10/20/02 02:04:05 GMT

Karel-- BABA, British Artist Blacksmiths, has a website. On it, often, are notices offering-- and seeking-- jobs, in England and U.S.
   miles undercut - Sunday, 10/20/02 04:10:37 GMT

Terry, Maybe someone that has seen Francis's book can answer, I cannot. We have instructions on the iForge page for making basket twists.

Rooster, both those steels will work but are more appropriate for die steels. Both are probably expensive annealed stock so they can be machined (sawed, drilled, tapped, milled, turned) then hardened. The H13 is a hot work steel more suitable for hot work dies, punches and cutters. Both can be forged but being air hardening steels are VERY tough to work. I would hang on to them until the right occasion comes along.

Junk Yard Steels: My preference for cheap steel to make tools for myself is to recycle similar tools of good quality. New tool steel may SEEM expensive but it is nothing comapred to your labor and fuel.

Been a LONG day. . . more tomarrow.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/20/02 04:14:08 GMT

I have become fairly certain-- and deeply concerned-- that my anvil lies directly along the course of a lee line and am convinced that this is affecting my anvil and related tools. I suspect the anvil and hammers have become positively charged, and thus repel each other, making it necessary for me to use extra force in smiting. This, of course, only serves to heighten the polarizing effect of the lee forces. I wonder if I could rig some sort of treadle-operated switch that would control a mild negative current through an insulated coil around the base of the anvil. I could co-ordinate the current pulses to coincide with the hammer blows. Or I could re-position the hammer rack. I understand the polarity of the earth may reverse soon, however, and I wonder if I just should not take up macrame until then. Please advise soonest. Sparky@megasmith.com
   Liam Jervis - Sunday, 10/20/02 05:09:31 GMT

Dear Sir
Can you let me know the methods of Hardening and Tempering of Aluminium Pipe? An earliest favour will be highly appreciated.
   Asad - Sunday, 10/20/02 12:05:21 GMT

Sparky, this is a common problem with metalworking facilities that intersect lee lines. Interestingly, it also affects traffic on highways that intersect lee lines. I have personally seen cars swerve off the road due to this. I have even seen small, Korean cars suspended several feet off the ground because they lacked the power to actually penetrate the flux line. It is best remadied by a little known technique called "Geo-puncture". You can simple install six 35 foot long x 10" diameter steel bars in a diamond pattern around your shop, aligning two of the six poles with the lee line. Set them about six feet into the earth. This will provide a diversion of the magnetic flux around your shop. BTW, don't go near the poles during thunderstorms.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/20/02 13:02:10 GMT

AHHH! Magnetic Flux! That's the ticket. Where do I get some on the East coast? Borax just keeps melting and running into my coal. We don't have any lee lines around here (they're illegal), but I may try the "Geo-puncture" technique for a neat visual effect as I haven't earned a "What the H*ll's wrong with you?" from Sweetie-pie lately.
   Gronk - Sunday, 10/20/02 14:30:19 GMT

hello guru!

I purchased a cast iron hall tree recently. I have little knowledge of cast iron, and am unsure if you will be able to help me. I live in Michigan, and purchased the hall tree at a yard sale. The gentleman that had the piece told me that the piece has been in his family for at least 30 years. His mother purchased it at an antique auction in Indiana, when he was a small boy.

The Hall Tree is quite ornate. It is all cast iron, with a mirror (replaced) four hooks, umbrella stand and the tree is in three sections. The base is missing the umbrella tray. The total tree is approximately five and half feet tall. I am trying to determine the approximate age of this piece. It has finning around some edges. The piece was painted black, with quite a bit of brown rust. I believe it to be from the 30's thru 50's, but have been told it could be newer.

Any and all information would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

   Steve Duncan - Sunday, 10/20/02 16:22:23 GMT

I am soooo relieved that you are taking my query seriously and not mocking me as my friends and doctors do here at the Bide-a-Wee Sanctuary. I don't have ready access to the sort of steel stock you suggest, however, and wonder if a giant cystal-shaped cage made of conduit would serve equally well, provided, of course, that it were suitably grounded?
   Liam Jervis - Sunday, 10/20/02 17:20:06 GMT

I am eagerly anticipating the results of the upcomeing US government sponsored experiments in Geo Puncture in the Mid East.I understand that entire areas will be totaly fluxed
   - Txfarrier - Sunday, 10/20/02 17:36:38 GMT

Crazyness: Is there a full moon and harmonic alignment event taking place?

Aluminium Heat Treating: Asad, aluminium is not heat treated using the same methods as steel. There are completely different process. Most as-cast aluminium is in the annealed condition. Those alloys that harden are often age hardening or precipitation hardening. Both occur by holding the material at a specific temperature for a specific time. The time and temperature varies with the alloy and there are hundreds of common aluminium alloys.

Many age hardening aluminium alloys with harden on their own after a period of days but the process can be accelerated by heating the aluminium to a relatively low temperature (~100 to 150°C) for a few hours.

Aluminium is also mechanicaly treated by stretching to improve its mechanical characteristics.

You will need to obtain a good reference on materials processing to determine the details you need. Try the American Society of Metals International. They have the most complete and up to date references on almost all technical metals subjects and sell on-line.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/20/02 18:12:43 GMT

Hall Tree Steve, Dating and pricing antiques, antique reproductions and collectables is completely out of our field of expertise here. Try the Antique Road Show.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/20/02 18:15:52 GMT

Liam, you have just described the ultra-secret ball lightening generator. Agents are on the way to discuss it with you.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/20/02 18:18:49 GMT

Demo's CD Chuck, there are lots of links and code in the demos that require them to be on our server and they will generaly not work right from a local PC. We have discussed the project but it is a great deal of work to edit all the demos to make them stand-alone documents. So do not look for it in the near future. We DO have plans for the dmos but can not promise anything at this time.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/20/02 18:24:09 GMT


Turn your anvil in a CCW (counter clock wise) direction 1-1/2 turns at midnight tomorrow night (full moon that night). This will act as a "key in the lock" so to speak, and with the horn facing the oppocite direction from what it is now, it should no longer cause the problem.
   - Ntech - Sunday, 10/20/02 18:32:15 GMT


I dis-agree.

Rotating the anvil in the counter clock wise direction will only make the problem difficult to resolve.

To neutralize the effects of the dis-hamonious vibrations, the anvil must be rotated in a CLOCKWISE direction.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 10/20/02 20:10:39 GMT

Ntech, Pawp,
Respectfuly I disagree with both of you, the anvil has to be rotated horizontaly with the horn pointing magnetic north at exactly 3:21 edt am on the 21st one and a half turns.
   - JimG - Sunday, 10/20/02 20:28:11 GMT

Jim G.,

Way too many turns! You'll over wind the cosmos!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 10/20/02 20:40:27 GMT

All: Aligning the anvil toward magnetic north might work temporaritly but only in the Northern Hemsiphere. In SE Asia and Africa, it must be aligned with Magnetic East. The little known power of the East Pole is one of the best kept secrets of the modern age. Poland (aka Pole Land) used to be in North America but the power of the east pole pulled it into Eastern Europe approximately 11,000 years ago. Gotta go for now, time for my shock therapy.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/20/02 21:01:36 GMT

oops I guess that could be misread, that is only 1 and a half turns along the horizontal axis, but it has to be at 3:21 AM EDT on the 21st of oct, hopefuly this is in time to stop any serious cosmic over winding, the cosmos is wound too tight as it is right now!
   - JimG - Sunday, 10/20/02 21:13:46 GMT

Magnetic flux...... Hmm...

If we ground up small earth magnets, and mixed them with anhydrous borax, in a mild solution of uric acid.....

I wonder......
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 10/20/02 22:13:34 GMT

If we rotated our own anvils tonight before going to bed, it could be enough iron in motion to unwind the cosmos. Staggered anvil movement, via time zones, is suggested so we do not create an imbalance in nature.

   - Ntech - Sunday, 10/20/02 22:16:17 GMT

I was thinking of putting the anvil on a sort of geo-gyro-gimbal set-up, so that it could respond not just to the lee line-induced polarity shifts, but to electro-surges as the Van Allen belt responds to the thermal warpage in the ionosphere as well. Whattayathink? Then, when the planet tilts in response to the sudden impact of all them nucular blasts that seem just around the corner-- from the middle eastern geo-puncture mentioned above-- the anvil would remain plumb and enabling me to be forging up a bunch of halberds. Whatever a halberd is, I figure we'll be needing quite a few. And a whole lotta pikes, too.
   Liam Jervis - Sunday, 10/20/02 22:40:17 GMT

The strangest thing happened last night!! I was working late and I experienced the magenetic disturbance that Liam was talking about. I called Nancy Reagan's astrologist and he said to flip the anvil upside down and tap the bottom three times with a golden hammer stolen from a Dwarf smith at sunrise the previous half-moon. Well it just so happens that I was in the land of Narnia at the last half-moon and stole a hammer from a dwarf (not my fault, he was asking for it, he didn't make the right handle for the magic wand I wanted. He owed me!) So I tapped the anvil bottom side up with the dwarf hammer and you know what!? Not only did the magnetic disturbance cease abut I also found the USS Eldridge and Jimmy Hoffa was aboard!! I tell ya. These are strange times!! It must be all the global warming!! Or my Mom's home brew! Not sure! Well im off to stir the cauldron, later gang!
   Rooster - Sunday, 10/20/02 22:40:42 GMT

Guru, I think it is time for a posting on proper workplace ventilation and the effects of Carbon Monoxide on the human perception of reality.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/20/02 22:43:48 GMT

P.S., a halberd is a polearm that has an axe-like blade and a spike at a right angle to the blade all mounted on the end of a long shaft or "pole", hence the term pole-arm. Origin: Germany arounf the 15th century. Pike is a similar weapon but more shaped like a spear. Can also be a freshwater fish found mainly in the northern hemisphere but I doubt you hammer those on an anvil.
   Rooster - Sunday, 10/20/02 22:46:22 GMT

Tonight on anvilfire.com,

Guru's Den productions presents "The Texas Chainsaw ANVIL Rotation, part 3, in 3D" :-)
   - taylor - Sunday, 10/20/02 23:18:40 GMT

Tonight on anvilfire.com,

Guru's Den productions presents "The Texas Chainsaw ANVIL Rotation, part 3, in 3D" :-)
   - taylor - Sunday, 10/20/02 23:21:03 GMT


Well, you could hammer a pike on the anvil, that might account for the fishy smell one encounter upon one's musttach on cold mornings.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 10/20/02 23:21:49 GMT

Paw Paw,

I would'nt touch that last posting for love nor money.
   Brian C - Sunday, 10/20/02 23:34:34 GMT

Lee Lines? I thought they were Lay Lines!

Or at least that how I would explain their mysterious power to lovely young women as we'd take moonlit hikes across the haunting countryside.

As for aligning anvils, life was a lot tougher in the Viking age. The big anvils were essentially large rocks, and the smaller steel anvils tended towards cubical proportions. Also, there was no magnetic compass, so north was just another direction, and a colder, darker one at that. ever wonder why they took off for England, France, Ireland, Byzantium and other parts of southerly direction? (...and maybe that needle has been pointing south all of these years and we've been completely backwards!)

No south facing windows in MY forge!

Cool and pleasant on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Vist your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 10/21/02 02:25:47 GMT

Lee line, flux, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum. Is this what Jock buys server space for?
   vicopper - Monday, 10/21/02 02:33:56 GMT

Just a note on shop safety. Aerosol cans on the workbench can fall, and puncture. Pay attention. I was lucky. You may not be. Mr Wilson...fishy. Mighty fishy...:)
   - Ten Hammers - Monday, 10/21/02 10:34:34 GMT

re: the bending of tube and the difficulty of getting wire through it. Its as simple as dental floss, just blow it through with air or suck it with a vacuum cleaner, tie on the zip cord, pull it through. notice that one of the wires has a ridge on it, this MUST be connected to the silver screw (neutral), otherwise the shell of the lamp will be hot and shock may result when you change the bulbs. If you are doing multiple arms, connect the wires with some sort of crimp connecter,making sure all the wires are secure. Don't forget to provide a ground wire, bonded to the frame when the final fixture whip is ran to the box in the wall or ceiling. CYA! the national electric code is a legal law book, enforceable in court, if in doubt, consult a good licensed electrician in your area.
   bbb - Monday, 10/21/02 13:58:59 GMT

Guru, I am a beginner looking to get started. I have read and followed the getting started section, and I am halfway through my arc welding class. I am still interested enough to get start planning a home smithy. Like most, I am on a very tight budget. My question is on which item(s) would I be better to purchase rather than build. My welding instructor has agreed to help me construct an anvil from salvaged rail. I am in MA.
   llred - Monday, 10/21/02 14:01:23 GMT

as far as flux is concerned, you just need a flux capacitor connected to your anvil, I am the national distributor of these, with an eclusive rights on distributorship. Send me a check for $1000, and my installation crew will get to you as soon as possible.
   bbb - Monday, 10/21/02 14:02:25 GMT

I dealt with the La Li problem by installing a Koi pond cleverly disguised as a quench tub; unfortunatly the piece of 3" shaft I was forging into a diagonal pein hammer---don't forget to offset the pein by the difference from magnetic and rotational north!---slipped out of my tongs and fell into the koi pond---anybody got a receipe for boiled carp? (besides PawPaw!).
   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 10/21/02 14:27:30 GMT

Nah, it's for back-biting pedantic oneupsmanship, seems like, a lot of the time.
   Liam Jervis - Monday, 10/21/02 15:56:20 GMT

This has to do with burning charcoal in my forge. I am a professional blacksmith from western NC and do a lot of historical work, as well as demonstrations. Just reacently I became interested in burning charcoal. Last week I made a batch of charcoal from kiln dried white pine scraps from the local furniture plant. It burnt quick and hot! My queation is, how should I work a charcoal fire differently than the coal fire that I'm used to? Should I wet the charcoal like coal to keep the fire contained in the middle of the pot?

   Jason Lonon - Monday, 10/21/02 16:18:02 GMT

Charcoal Jason, maintaining a charcoal fire is very similar to coal except you are not concerned with coking. Normaly charcoal fires need to be deeper than coal fires and a little water to control the fire is used as needed. Just be careful to NOT dump water on a hot cast iron firepot. The result will be a cracked or warped firepot. Gently sprinkle water as needed.

Note that water leaches lye out of wood (charcoal) ash. The result is very corrosive. It is similar to the lechate from coal ash in its distructiveness. The difference is one is acidic (coal) and the other alkaline (wood). Forges stored outdoors should be cleaned after use.
   - guru - Monday, 10/21/02 16:32:39 GMT

Do It Yourself: llred, I would recommend that you if you are on a low budget that you make everything EXCEPT your anvil and a good vise.

Although we have some articles here on making anvils you are much better off with the REAL thing. Good used anvils are often available for half of new and ones in not so good condition for less (they are still better than home-made). The next best option is a single homogenous lump of steel in the 100 pound (45kg) range. 99% of all forging is done on the flat center of the face of the anvil and one the edges. The other features are nice but you can do almost everything without them OR with relatively light duty stake anvils and various blocks of steel such as a bolster plate or monkey tool (a heavy piece of steel with a hole drilled or punched in it).

Prior to anvil horns becoming standard on most anvils, stake anvils or bickerns were used for work that is done on the horn. A good stake anvil can be made from a piece of rail. The most common type had a long round horn and on the opposite end a long square tapering horn. If you are interested in armour work you might want to look at the raising stake in the Eric Thing helmet making article on our Armoury page. A combination scrolling and raising stake would not be hard to make. Also look at Eric's stake bench. It is a heavy substantial block supporting numerous tools.

Vises are probably used more in the shop than any other tool and often the smith spends just as many hours working at the vise as at the anvil. Both hot and cold work are done in the vise and it should be convienient to the anvil and forge.

You can't have enough vises. I just bought a pretty little 4" jaw wagon vise this weekend. After making brackets for it I'll attach it to my welding bench. Nothing like a vise attached to a 1500 pound anchor! It will be mounted so that the jaws are flush to the top of the bench (no higher) and there is access to the right and left. I prefer sawing off the right hand side of a vise so that side will be clear behind the jaws. It pays to think about these things when you setup shop.
   - guru - Monday, 10/21/02 17:00:35 GMT

Guru, I just read your reply to LLRED, and the question I have refers to the sawing off the right hand side of a vise. Can you clarify this for me? Thank-you William
   triw - Monday, 10/21/02 17:15:57 GMT

Boys you are missing one essential first step in the methods to rebalance the Cosmos.
The step is simple, but the necessary ingredient is rather scarce.
None of the required anvil movements should be commenced before vital step number one. a virgin (of the
human persuasion), must be deflowered upon said anvil. This need be done just one time. Indeed you couldn't do it twice.
After that procede with the other accepted steps of the said process.
We've got a problem in the GWN. (well really most of it). there are very few virgins left, and they are in great demand. (for religious rites or for keeping warm on a cold winter's night, a public service that,usually, both participants do as a sense of their civicduty).
I am certain that Mr. Cracked Anvil could could add much more on this vital subject.
But rumour has it that he has retired and joined an order of discalcid, cloistered, monks in the Great Sonoran desert.
Say it isn't true Mr. Anvil!
Comment by,
   slag - Monday, 10/21/02 17:45:31 GMT

I am looking for information on the proscess and equipment necessary to perform 'alkaline reverse electrolosis'. I understand that there is equipment that reverses the polarity of the object and solution. Also, do you know what waste is generated by such a process?

Thank you
   Johnny - Monday, 10/21/02 17:50:57 GMT


Guru means that he puts the piece to be sawn in the vise so that the hacksaw blade is just to the right of the jaws, not that he saws off the right hand side of the vise.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/21/02 17:57:05 GMT

When sawing I WORK of the right hand side of the vise! You can work on either side but your knuckles are less likely to strike a sharp corner when cutting through. If you are left handed it is best to saw working off the left hand side.
   - guru - Monday, 10/21/02 17:58:04 GMT

Johnny, I don't have a clue what you are doing but the waste will consist of salts or carbonates of whatever metal you are using for electrodes or plating. These are usualy pretty nasty things as the heavy metals (all poisionous) are now in the form of highly solouble compounds that can be easily absorbed into the skin or will kill fish and wildlife if dumped on the ground or in streams. In other words, they are hazardous wastes that must be disposed of properly.

To reverse polarity remove the cables and reconnect them in reverse. . .
   - guru - Monday, 10/21/02 18:03:47 GMT

Well, once again I have cause to regret setting to work with out reading all the posts. Does anyone know what the best rod would be to use in re attaching the right hand side of my vise?
   - Txfarrier - Monday, 10/21/02 18:49:10 GMT

"the national electric code is a legal law book, enforceable in court"

Well, sort of, anyway. The NEC is document of standards produced by the National Fire Protection Association, Inc. Most local jurisdictions in the US have passed state laws or city ordinances that reference the NEC. The NEC does not cover appliances (things you plug into the wall) however. Still, negligence is negligence and reasonable precautions are reasonable precautions.

Make sure that the lead that you connect to the silver screw is connected to neutral on the other side! Silver screws & white wires are neutral, dark screws and black wires are hot, green screws and green wires are ground. Test the finished product with an ohm meter before plugging it in.
   Thingmaker - Monday, 10/21/02 19:51:49 GMT

We live in interesting times?.......
   smitty7 - Monday, 10/21/02 20:06:21 GMT

Aw, gee, Vic, you never let us have any fun!

TxFarrier, I think it makes no difference what rod you use because all rod is left handed and won't work on the right side of your vise.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 10/21/02 20:14:24 GMT

Working charcoal: when working charcoal you don't need the wide fire that coal is usually made into cause you don't need to "coke" green coal around the edges to keep a clean center of the fire. You do need more depth since charcoal is usually larger in volume and the location of the reducing zone is a multiple of the size of the fuel pieces with the ammount of air as the other major factor.

When I burn charcoal in my coal forge I usually place a ring of firebrick around the firepot to deepen it and use *less* air to blow it and it works well---no water needed!

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 10/21/02 20:44:41 GMT

Last time I was in Hawaii, they had to cancel the Dance of the Virgins. Seems one was sick and the other one refused to dance alone!
   - grant - Monday, 10/21/02 23:07:39 GMT

Sawing Off The Right Side Of The Vise.

We had a newspaper article locally that said: " Salmon biting off lower end of Whidby Island." Hmm, is it shorter now?
   - grant - Monday, 10/21/02 23:11:41 GMT

Ok, let me make one more comment about all the nonsense we have posted in the last few days. Jock has created here not just a public forum but a real community. It is a community who knows where to come for good technical information. It is also a community where people are not afraid to ask "silly" questions for fear of ridicule. It is a surprisingly close community but very open to new members. It willingly embraces all levels of skill and expertise. We are comfortable expressing opinions here because all valid opinions are welcome. The fact that we occasionally lapse into silliness is not a waste of server space. It is an indication that we are human, and we are comfortable being here among friends. For that, Jock, we all owe you a big "Thank You" !
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 10/21/02 23:15:54 GMT


Very well said!

I've been wondering how to respond to Vicopper's comment, because it is valid. We did (in the most resent episode) waste a bit of bandwidth. But I think we all NEED a bit of occasional silliness in our lives.

And what better place to exercise that silliness than with a bunch of friends?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/21/02 23:51:42 GMT

appreciate input form the gurus!! QC, the reason for my inquiry was from reading about heat treating tool steels. as you know, the chemistry of these alloys determines some very specific heat treatment recommendations. for example, the author recommended for ALL tool steels, 10-15" @ 1200F as a pretreatment encourages significantly desired transfomation. for a particular steel, after pretreatment, the piece is heated for a specified period and temp. alot of these steels, for a maximum effect, dont tolerate variation in temp and an accurate temp controller is a must. they also recommend using air tight stainless steel foil to minimize decarb. once the piece is @ the prescribed austenizing temp, it is quenched in the proper medium and allowed to cool to a temp of about 150F. it was stressed to temper immediately once it reached a temp of 150F. the temper was @ a prescibed time and temp. cryo techniques to further reduce retained austentite to zero..

i would imagine that very few "smiths" have at their disposal the equipment to heat treat most of the tool steel that is available, @ least to the steel's optimal capabilities.

knowing that one of the charactoristics that defines a "black smith" is one who makes tools, the "average" smith obviously uses some types of steel and does a good job of hardening and tempering. this is done without soaking at a specified heat for a spec time, pyrometer, stainless steel foil, ect...i have not found a clear recipe for choice of steels and how to best heat treat them using a forge, a quench, and looking at tempering colors; things that the experienced smiths do every day. i am still researching this.

the rookie that i am, i did forge some cool fish tails on 1/2" sq. took grand guru's advice on upsetting, which i found is required to get any cool fishtail effect. found several heavy chisels and punches @ swap meet and will find a way to "make" use of them...next on my list of practice and lessons are to make a rivet clamp and rivet set/back up.

frank, thanks for referring to me as one of your "loved ones". touched by a master. one day i will find a hole in my work week and get to santa fe. impossible to get a week off let alone 3 right now....then you can instruct me on how you make tools.

thanks again for all of the input; the hammer and anvil really does sooth the soul...
   - rugg - Tuesday, 10/22/02 00:33:36 GMT

Great comment.

Jock, Thank you for all the effort and dedication you have put into Anvilfire. It is greatly appreciated by this blacksmith.
   - Ntech - Tuesday, 10/22/02 00:55:35 GMT

To QC, Paw Paw and the others here at Anvlifire:
Thats all very true, it's important to let loose every now and then. I'm glad it's not frowned upon here (even if I did feel a bit wasteful of a valuable information resource and some "bandwidth").

To Jock and the other "brains" behind Anvlifire:
Thank you so much for making available the years of knowledge and research that you all possess or represent in order to make the learning process easier for the up-coming.
My subscription to CSI sometimes hardly seems enough.
   Rooster - Tuesday, 10/22/02 01:30:37 GMT

Rooster, thank you for the kind words. Patronizing the various vendors who advertize on anvilfire and making sure that those vendors know that you are there becuase of anvilfire is another way to help. Ocassionally donating some thing to the anvilfire auction, proceeds to go to anvilfire is another way to help.

And finally, encouraging other folks to join CSI is a major contribution.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/22/02 01:38:30 GMT

My typing stinks tonight! (wry grin) I regularly tease Jock about mis-spelling words, guess I need to start compiling messages off line, and using a spell checker myself!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/22/02 01:39:42 GMT

To: Guru and Paw Paw, I am thankful for you clearing up my misunderstanding about sawing off the right side of the vise. It is clear now. William
   triw - Tuesday, 10/22/02 02:10:30 GMT


No problem, that's why we're here.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/22/02 02:35:41 GMT

NEC The electrical code is a peculiar animal. In most localities all electrical work is supposed to be done by a licensed electrician. However, this doen't apply to manufacturers. I think they assume that somewhere along the line an electrical engineer was consulted or designed the electrics or that it would be tested by UL. But it is NOT specified. I've been a "manufacturer" and wired numerous machine tools including 15HP reversing contactors (with double reversing logic), relay and programable controls including Numerical Control with high capacity stepper motors. Many of the controls included high and low voltage power supplies, AC and DC, and specialy wired banks of transformers all in one panel. As one-off machines there is no UL testing. I was the designer and electrician (no EE degree) and it was all perfectly "legal".

The elecrtical code is like the building codes. It is a MINIMUM standard. A lot of things can be done much better than to "code". But it is hard to convince building inspectors. When I built my shop we burried #0 copper cable in the footings and attached it to the rebar. This is the PREFERRED "best" grounding system described in the electrical code. I asked the building inspector to come look at it before we poured the footings. He said no-need, just drive a standard ground rod. . . SO. . I have a little ground rod attached to the heavy copper cable burried in the footing. . Now. . did you know that standard ground rods often FAIL in dry weather. When the ground under the eves of a building dries out the conductivity of the earth drops drasticaly. Often to the point where the ground rod does nothing. Then you better hope you are not between and electrical outlet and a better ground (like a water pipe) in a lightening storm. . .

Steels Rugg, experianced smiths often do a pretty good job of hardening and tempering alloys they are familiar with. Although specific temperatures are often published the professional heat treater manuals give temperature ranges for almost every steel. There are optimums but there are also suitable ranges. Smiths also use selective hardening and tempering which is rarely used by heat treaters. There ARE advantages to custom hand work! Smiths can also use Tempil Sticks for testing temperatures. These are very affordable and are good for +/-25°F at some ranges. Many bladesmiths that do their own heat treating take it seriously and have thermocouples and temperature controls for their furnaces and salt baths.

Well. . I've got the flue and don't feel so good. So its back to bed for me.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 04:27:44 GMT

Scott Corbes, regular here at Anvilfire, admitted to hospital last night through the ER. Chest pains. Just got message from his wife, she will keep me posted.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/22/02 04:36:23 GMT

The prayers have just been said. They will continue to go up also. Thanks for the heads up Paw Paw.
   Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 10/22/02 04:52:04 GMT


Part of the job.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/22/02 09:54:56 GMT


I have my first $ for work job lined up. It is a simple
railing for a set of stairs. I think I have it all figured out as far as design. The only thing I am unsure of is how to attach it to the concrete steps. Should I forge a bracket that I can screw the railing down with or forge a tennon on the end of the posts and set them in place by drilling a hole with a masons bit and filling with some sort of concrete patch. (much like setting a post for a backyard fence, dig down 2 feet and fill with concrete)

Any help would be appreciated.

Chris Bernard
   Chris - Tuesday, 10/22/02 12:37:31 GMT

The following link is an excellent cross reference for the various brand names of tool steels. It can be downloaded as an Excel file. http://www.varcoprecision.com/tools.htm .
It does not give heat treating instructions but at least you can identify the AISI alloy type for each of the brand names.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 10/22/02 13:13:51 GMT

Hello if u remember i asked about smithing in Ohio I went to M.O.B i wasn't able to email any of them. Then I went to Anvil mag and i didn't see anthing in interest on the site. But if I do open a bussiness is there any insuance i will be needing to purchase and what about zoning to open up a shop .to wrap this all up do u know if any smiths are in northeast Ohio
   George - Tuesday, 10/22/02 13:16:21 GMT

George, try my e-mail. The MOB page is getting long in the tooth; I need to light a fire under the fellow who put it up.

Patrick who posts here and over at the Junkyard (most recently on power hammer foundations for his bradley) is in NE OH---near Canton. There is a Western Reserve Blacksmithing group located around Cleveland that should be listed on the ABANA chapters page.

I *STRONGLY* suggest you take a "small Business" course at a local community college, (local cause they will know what is required in your area). You only need insurance if you have *anything* you would miss if a lawsuit went again you, house, tools, cars, heirlooms, retirement savings. Or you can't replace all your shop and equipment out of petty cash in case of fire, flood, etc. (Look into health insurance too. I know of several small businesses that folded cause the owner had *1* accident and then the Dr bills and not being able to work for a while pushed the business under.)

Thomas, Central Ohio MOBster
   Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 10/22/02 14:54:18 GMT

Railings Chris, No railing job is simple. They must meet code rules for height and picket spacing as well as the requirement to be suficiently strong to withstand expected loads. This is a rather problematic requirement of the code and it does not specify the load or give any strength guide lines. I've seen many railings (wood and metal) that were plenty strong but were attached very poorly.

Domestic rails are covered by BOCA rules but commercial industrial rails by OSHA.

How you attach to masonry depends on the type of masonry. In brick and concrete you normaly make a large hole to set posts into. This normaly requires using a large hollow core bit (2"). Don't use a hammer drill unless you can afford to replace a lot of cracked masonry.

Anchoring can be done by one of three methods.
1) Rockite grout
2) epoxy
3) lead.

Rockite is the most commonly used but I have had bad experiance with it. Epoxy is very fast and permanent. It is also quite a bit more expensive than rockite. Lead is the old way and is still used in some cases on historic structures.

Posts should not be set so close to the edges of the maronry that strength is a problem. I have seen a lot of cracked and broken brick and concrete from someone leaning on a railing. . . It didn't meet the strength rule.

On most rails they are attached to the building at the top. This helps with the strength requirement and horizontal loading. At the bottom on high class work you often see a spiral with multiple posts. This is to withstand horizontal loading and when combined with the top end being anchored to the building is very strong. The common practice of ending in a single post on the last step is very bad design unless the post is quite heavy and set deep.

A very nice design option at the bottom is a side bracket. This can be set into a concrete post hole as you mentiond or the sidewalk if there is one. This can be a simple graceful bar that meets the post about 1/3 its height and is attached by collaring, riveting or welding.

On long rails there are two concerns. Top loading causing sagging and excessively high loads on the end posts and horizontal mid-span loading. For the top loading fences and rails often have a little extra oval support piece added mid-span OR another anchored picket. For side loading brackets are used that extend around the masonry cap (or stair nosing) and into the wall below. These can be quite simple or very fancy and appear to be a decorative element. They should have no less than three anchor points.

One last note. . In a lot of new construction the masons make the anchor holes in their work. It is also common in high class work (granit, marble floors). This is a good way to avoid having to fix problems that are not in your field of expertise and having tools that you do not normaly need. Remember that you can probably rent that masonry drill if needed.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 15:04:56 GMT

MOB. . . Hmmmm I don't have them listed on the ABANA-Chapter page. Note that there are three other Ohio groups. In many places smiths travel hundreds of miles to vist one and other. Ohio has a good highway system.

Zoning is zoning and is very similar everywhere. In cities it is complicated. In some OLD cities blacksmith shops were allowed in residential areas. Folks wanted a farrier nearby. . but the laws didn't discriminate between farrier and blacksmith. In most cities if you do BUSINESS you must be in a commercialy zoned area. If you tell anyone what you are doing you will be forced into a light manufacturing district (high rent). Some smiths get away with calling themselves artists and having an artist's studio. . .

In residential areas you can often get a variance for a professional office as long as there is sufficient parking.

If you plan on burning coal you may run into problems in some areas. Recently a European smith tried to setup shop in an industrial park on the site of an old Bethelem Steel plant. . . he was tossed out for buring coal!

In most cases what your neighbors have to say is more important than the zoning rules.

In rural areas the majority of land is zoned agricultural. You can do almost anything you want there short of heavy industry.

How the rules are applied vary from locality to locality and often depend on the individual zoning Czar. Don't argue with them. Even if they are wrong you can't afford to right. Generaly it is best NOT to ask questions of government offices (You want to do WHAT? WHERE?). Get a copy of the current zoning law and study it (they change often). Then ask local business folks how their dealings with the zoning office went. . .

And remember, just because 10,000 hobby smiths have back yard or garage shops does NOT mean you can do so as a commercial venture. You can do almost anything as a hobby. But as soon as you become a business, then local, state and federal law may apply.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 15:32:32 GMT

More on Zoning: STUDY the zoning map closely. In many ares you often have a heavy industrial area next to a residential area and it can be different from lot to lot. Just because your neighbor is a metal smelter doesn't mean you can be too. . . Look at what WAS on the property. If it was industrial/commercial and less than two years have passed since it was used for that then it may still be grandfathered as industrial/commercial. However, if the property had a "variance" then the variance may have expired the day the business closed shop. The difference is that the business may have existed before zoning laws went into effect and therefore was "grandfathered" in. This carries over to sucessive owners/operators forever unless the usage quits. But if the business had a variance then it was granted to the specific individual or company after zoning came into effect and normally reverts to whatever the zoning map has to say immediately (OR per conditions of the variance).

Again. . what the neighbors have to say is important. They may have gotten used to the peace and quite since the business next door shut down. Local boards often listen to residents over businesses. Votes and money rule. Generaly in the world of zoning it is money that rules.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 15:51:00 GMT

I've a small spelter statue that I've been given to repair. I work with lead but have no experience with spelter and can't find any information on casting/repairing spelter. I'll continue my search on the internet but would appreciate any help you may be able to give.
   Richard - Tuesday, 10/22/02 15:51:18 GMT

Spelter Richard, it is zinc. Tricky to weld. Best to use epoxy.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 15:55:59 GMT

I'll use epoxy or solder if I have to but would prefer to use zinc. I weld with lead a lot and can't see that it'll be that much harder to use zinc. I did however think that spelter was an alloy, is this so or is it pure zinc?
   Richard - Tuesday, 10/22/02 16:03:34 GMT


Great Guru: You are a wealth of information! I never thought of the terminating horizontal spiral at the end of the railing as a structural/engineering element. You provided me with another one of those "...but, of course!" moments. It's a pleasure to hang out here and continue to learn.


Always a challenge, and one that we run into in the National Park Service, upon occasion. (It takes a lot of support facilities to keep those parks going. It's not just mowing the grass- how about replacing a cannon carriage?)

I'm lucky to live in a rural area, where there is actually a specific exemption for Backsmith's shops. You just have to be 50' from the property line. It helps that we have a goodly number of Amish down here in the County. Smiths, and especially farriers, are valued.

All of that is changing, alas, so it helps to keep good relations with your neighbors, as the Guru said. I've done hinges for their barns, neglecting my own, and I don't complain about the lack of mufflers on the other neighbor's "under construction" racecars. And they don't complain about my coal smoke and occasional artillery tests. None of us complains about the jets from the Naval Air Test Center, or the shells landing in our end of the river from the Naval Surface Weapons Testing Center. (Those 16" shells back in the '80s would loosen the ceiling plaster, for sure.)

This definitely changes in the 'burbs or in town, where you have dozens or hundreds of folks within earshot, and even in an industrial park, depending upon the "industry" involved. It might be wise to look for shops with similar noisy/smoky operations. Check with the local landlords or commercial real estate agents. Give them your requirements, tell them you're shopping about for possibilities (which you are) and let them show you what's out there. Be polite, make no commitments, and take your time. It's in their interest to steer you right- evicted tenants don't pay the rent. Light industrial and warehouse space are some of the cheapest leases on my inventory, but if you're running your own business you still have to make lease or purchase payments out of your operating funds month after month after month.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 10/22/02 16:33:03 GMT

I have purchased music wire in the 1/4 lb pack. It comes VERY tightly coiled. How do I straighten the wire at home? I am trying to cut 9' and 18' lengths. I've tried pounding, hanging weights, and heating. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you,
   Norm Stack - Tuesday, 10/22/02 16:35:10 GMT

Is it posible to make spring steel from mils steel or something else. I f I heat a car spring it looses its springiness. How do I bring it back?
   franklin - Tuesday, 10/22/02 17:00:41 GMT

Guru; MOB (Mid Ohio Blacksmiths) is *not* an ABANA chapter; which is why I suggested he look up the Western Reserve Blacksmints which are IIRC and are around NE Ohio where he is.

Zoning is not necessarily "pretty much the same all over" it is often an accretion of odd, weird and sometimes downright stupid laws passed at the local level then enforced semi randomly but with malice. In Columbus OH anything that produces smells fumes or smoke that is discernable off your property is prohibited with an exception for cooking and heating---so painting you house---which is also required in some cases, is illegal to do!

Best thing to hope for is an explicit mention of forging in the law and neighbors that approve of your activities.

   Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 10/22/02 17:11:08 GMT

SPRINGS: Norm, Normaly coiled wire is expected to be coiled again making a spring so the bend is not a consideration. In comercial practice coiled material is run through straightening rolls. These have sets of three rolls that reverse the bend from the coil. Progressive sets of rolls make the stock straighter and straighter. On bar and wire there are often multiple sets of rolls on different axiis to straighten in all directions.

A make-do straightener would be to put the spool of wire in a shaft and pull it over a bar, roller or board reversing the bend as you pull it off. The bending bar should be close to the spool so that you are bending in the right axis.

You can also straighten wire by hand. . . but the large diameters of spring steel are tough.

All straightening systems have some trial and error involved. The thickness, temper and amount of bend are variables. To straighten the stock you must permanently deform it. In the case of a large radius bend this normaly means bending in the reverse direction as much as the original bend (more or less depending on the temper).

What fo you need 18 foot long pieces of music wire for?

SOFT SPRINGS: Franklin, All steel has the same springyness or modulus of elasticity. The difference between a hardened spring and a soft spring is the distance it can be deflected before is yeilds (bends).

You CAN make springs from mild steel but they have limited use. Spring steels are very much like tool steels (medium to high carbon) and many are the same steel. Tool and spring steels must be hardened and tempered. See our Heat Treating FAQ.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 17:36:27 GMT

MOB We list many non-ABANA groups on the ABANA-Chapter page. As long as they are a blacksmithing organization with a web site we list them AND offer hosting.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 17:38:36 GMT

Guru, Did I do something wrong to registar for the demos on wed night? I still dont have clearance. Rich
   firetongs2002 - Tuesday, 10/22/02 17:48:52 GMT

ZONING: Yes the laws vary all over but most localities have adopted other localities laws as a "standard". Like the electrical or building code. . . localities can and often do change them and apply them as they see fit. But most start at the same place and have very similar language.

We DO agree on the capricious and with malice. . .

We have a local zoning Czar that didn't understand the difference between .5' and 5". He forced us to change the size of a steel building that had the foundation finished and the steel delivered because of the difference that he didn't understand. Do you know what it costs to make a 60 foot steel building 1" narrower? This fellow is proud of the fact that he is the most hated man in the county. . .

On the same building we couldn't get ANY (we paid four) surveyor to correct a lot line that had been laid out incorrectly. Someone had made a 10° error (5° East of North instead of West). We owned both lots so it had no effect on anyone else BUT it forced a several foot setback of the building by the zoning Czar. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 17:59:09 GMT

Pub registrations Tiretongs. . I've gotten way behind in processing registrations (its done manualy for security purposes). Trying to get caught up. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 18:01:05 GMT

Guru OK I understand just making sure I did not misspell my e-mail address or something
   firetongs2002 - Tuesday, 10/22/02 18:03:56 GMT

Guru, thanks I'll try to make the setup that you describe. I'm making 3' and 6' diameter circles with the wire. I need to straighten it before it will hold the circle shape.

P.S. Any suggestions on connecting the two ends once I have the straight wire(sleeve, solder, etc)?
thx, Norm
   Norm - Tuesday, 10/22/02 18:37:12 GMT


How far in from the edge must a hole be drilled in the concrete stairs to support the railing and not have it break away the concrete? 3 inches? 4 inches? Also how deep?

In addition could you address any issues that may come up as a result of not being able to anchor the railing to the house?

For this particular job, the customer has "pyramid" style steps on the side of the house (up 3 stairs, level for 3', down three stairs) and the railing is to be mounted on the outside (I can send you a picture if need be).

Thanks in advance.
   Chris - Tuesday, 10/22/02 20:01:50 GMT

Norm, it depends on what you are making and what for. How strong does it need to be? How clean a joint? Solder doesn't work well on steel. It CAN be done but is tricky. Welding or brazing is best. Silver soldering will also work.

If you heat the music wire to a red heat and then let it cool slowly it should be annealed well enough to twist the ends together. If it doesn't anneal, then heat the ends and stick them in lime or wood ashes to insulate the ends so they cool slower. A propane torch will get small wire hot enough.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 20:05:49 GMT

Chris, the question of how close to the edge is a difficult one and depends on the strength of the concrete. I would want no less than 3" from the outside edge of the hole, 4" would be better. 4" is probably deep enough. In brick you want to penetrate into the second course below the surface.

Short railings that make a turn or have a corner are fairly rigid and end anchors are not necesary. A corner at the end of a long run can add support similar to a diagonal without looking like a diagonal or brace. The corner can be a sharp 90° or a radius, the structural integrity coming from the the pattern of the posts.

AH. . Ok, I understand your "pyramid" stairs now. Many of these have the spiraled terminating posts on the ends for lateral support. Brackets to the outside are common on the top corner posts. These would anchor with bolts to the wall below the platform, curve around the nosing and attach to the post. There is room here for some classy blacksmithing.

A lot depends on the strength and quality of the masonry. A railing post is a +3 foot lever stuck in a hole in the concrete upon which people will pull, push, swing, climb, and fall against for years. Furniture movers carrying pianos will lean HARD against it and children will climb over and swing from it.

On a typical low bidder instalation four posts would be set in shallow (3") holes in the concrete using Rockite. The posts would probably be 1" square tubing and bend before damaging the concrete. On a first class job the posts would be 1" to 1-1/4" solid bar set 6" deep and each post would have some kind of bracket or brace.

If the bottom posts are not set in existing masonry then you can make as big a concrete footing as you want within reason and set the posts a foot deep. On a railing this short the two end posts would do most of the work. In a front lawn the concrete footing may want to taper neatly at the top so grass can grow to within a few inches of the post. Or the concrete may want to stop a few inches below grade.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/22/02 20:45:14 GMT

What is a good depth for a firepot on a cole/coke forge used for forge welding?

   Adam Caston - Tuesday, 10/22/02 22:41:25 GMT

RE Zoneing
I don't know about other places but in my home towm there is still a "blacksmith's zoneing" law on the books I would think that most of the east coast would be the same. I got lucky and my home happens to be in one of the area's that were zoned for smithing.. and never rezoned.. might as well use those pesky blue law if we can.. you know no beer on sundays.. etc.
   MP - Tuesday, 10/22/02 23:07:05 GMT


If you need to maintain the temper of the spring wire after joining, and the wire is an appropriate diameter, crimp collars work very well. I've used them for wire from about 24 ga up to about 8 ga. I get my crimp collars for the smaller guage wires from a fishing tackle supply. They're used for crimping wire leaders and don't rust. Klein Tools makes a nice set of crimping pliers, BTW>
   vicopper - Wednesday, 10/23/02 00:59:10 GMT

Besides time at temp.And carb temp.What controls the effective case dept.is it quench temp,high speed low speed agitation,carbin level?
   dominick - Wednesday, 10/23/02 01:45:12 GMT

D. Whitaker, please call me or contact me email.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 10/23/02 05:44:18 GMT

Dominick, Case depth is controlled by time and temperature. The carbon is diffused into the steel faster at higher temperatures. Using a temperature in excess of about 1750F causes the metal grains to grow larger, making the steel brittle. Using a temperature below that adds hours to the process. In gas carburizing, where a carbon rich gas is used (methane, usually) carbon diffuses into the steel at a rate of about .006" - .010" per hour. I believe pack carburizing proceeds more slowly. To achieve full case hardness, the part is quenched in oil (or polymer equivalent) of appropriate speed. Because the case is now high in carbon, quenching into a fast medium will cause cracking. The high carbon in the case also tends to have retained austenite (the crystal structure formed when the steel is heated above non-magnetic) causing a lower hardness in the case. This retained austenite can be transformed to the hard martensite by refrigerating the parts to near cryogenic temperatures (Dry Ice works well for this). If you use a cryo treatment, give the parts a light temper (250F-300F) freeze them, allow them to warm back to room temperature, and temper them again to achieve the desired hardness.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 10/23/02 12:16:14 GMT

Adam, Without going to measure, I believe most manufactured firepots are about 4" to 4" deep. I like the thick walled ones from Laurel Machine, Laurel, MS. How about the fire, though? It should be a deep coke fire with at least 4" of coke under the workpiece and a minimum of 1" of coke on top. There should be minimal fly ash, minimal clinker, and no hollow cavities in the coke bed. The latter creates an oxidizing fire; therefore, heavy scale.

Carefully controlled, there is nothing wrong with a side blast fire instead of a bottom blast. It is described in "The Blacksmith and his Art" by Hawley.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/23/02 12:55:34 GMT

Guru, Thanks for the advise on spring steel. I want to make a tweezer about 12ins long . 1" wide at the top/hinge and tapered to a point at the open end. The opening end is about 4 ins wide. For very light work. Do you think mild steel can give me the 4" deflection before it yeilds (bends). I was told that the steel straps around the bundles of wood in the hardware is spring steel or has some springiness qualities. (Pls forgive this newbie for using some strange terms) What do you think about using a few straps in parallel to make the spring/hinge?
This is a great board glad I discovered it.
   franklin - Wednesday, 10/23/02 13:49:58 GMT

There was some confusion about the last name, (different email address), Scott Corbes is actually Scott Beshears. He's OK, scared the wife, though. (and a few of us)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 10/23/02 14:20:00 GMT

Zoning: Using an old blacksmithing clause may be dangerous, because I can easily see an inspector saying that blacksmiths don't use Oxy-acetylene torches, arc welders, power hammers, angle grinders, etc. and therefore you are a fabricator and count as industrial. Depending on what you do Sculptor may be an easier sell.
   Jovan - Wednesday, 10/23/02 14:29:23 GMT

Most wisened Guru,

This is in reference to the earlier "railing" posts. I don't want to sound like an idiot, but since I'm so used to it by now, here goes.

"...spiraled terminating postson the ends for lateral

What are you describing here? I'm lost. Please explain.
   Chris - Wednesday, 10/23/02 14:53:25 GMT

Sorry that should have been "...post on..."
   Chris - Wednesday, 10/23/02 15:44:12 GMT

George. A little note on insurance. Yes you certainly want to be covered for fire, flood, theft. etc.. You also want liability on the premisis so when some yahoo trips over a piece of lint on the floor you are covered. And let's not forget product liability. You make a nice cleaver for someone and little Johnny chopps his fingers off with it, or the nice heavy duty pot rack that you didn't install yourself, comes crashing down on someone. Could all be *your* fault in court. Don't even think about wall hanger swords or letter openers in a home with Braveheart fans for kids. Then there is your vehicle(s). Are you dropping off a piece to a customer with your personal vehicle. Well, you may not be insured to use it for biz purposes. Don't forget about the kid that runs errands for you on weekends. Is he insured to use your vehicle for work? Lastly there are the professional suers. You know, the guys that jack up the brakes when the UPS driver is right behind him. Believe me they are out there. You only need one and be under-insured to lose everything. A year and a half ago I was sued. I hade insurance and my own lawyer. I won and the guy was laughed out of court. The other SEVEN people the guy was suing that day were not in court. Even if they settled beforehand you can imagine how much this bozo cleared for the day. Find a good agent in your area and make sure he understands fully what you do and the product you sell. Do not lie to the agent to save 100 bucks a year. You will sleep better at night. Like it or not this is a cost of doing GOOD business. Sorry to sound so "Doom and gloom" but it gets my blood boiling.
   Gronk - Wednesday, 10/23/02 15:59:10 GMT


Another thing to consider with railings is to make and install them to take advantage of the stiffener and strengthener called triangulation. Put a jig or a jog in the railing instead of making it completely straight. Offsetting the middle (top) two anchor posts of the pyramid stair railing just 3/4 of an inch or so compared to the lower end posts will make it dramatically stiffer and will not be readily visible. The top and bottom rail would not be in one plane, but would angle toward the house as you go up the stair, be the same distance from the house on the top platform and angle away from the house as you go down the stair. Of course, the customer must know and approve of such a design feature. Grin. Even more offset would make it stronger and might be a visually appealing feature. Won't work or be desireable in all cases, but just something to consider.

Might have been said, but if it freezes in the area, be SURE to fill the anchor hole so water doesn't get in there, freeze, expand, and bust out the concrete. Was a mason for a while and saw some of my good work get destroyed by railing fabricators! Had to shoot 'em to clean up the fabricator gene pool. grin. just kidding.

   - Tony - Wednesday, 10/23/02 16:43:51 GMT

Case Hardening Dominick, Normally time and temperature are the only variables of case hardening. Since the material that is case hardened is normaly non-hardenable the case if the only part that hardens significantly. However case hardened parts should be tempered to reduce the brittleness of the core material since even low carbon steel that is water quencehed is somewhat brittle.

Quality and density of the carbon atmosphere can have an effect.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/23/02 17:42:00 GMT

Old Blacksmithing Clause: Jovan, history would be on your side. Blacksmiths in areas with dense enough populations to need zoning were the first to adopt new technologies, steam engines to run lathes, power hammers and grinders, replaced by hit or miss gasoline engines, oxy-acetylene welding. . . Many shops had acetylene generators well before portable cylinders became available. My grandfather had one in his auto body shop prior to WWI.

But no matter what the zoning law says, IF you bother or annoy your neighbors it is likely to be a problem.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/23/02 17:53:29 GMT

Jock, just wanted to say it was good to meet you in Staunton. I really appreciate all the work you do with this site.
BTW, I just bought a porta-band if you need to borrow it to cut off some wasted band-width.
Jocularity is good for the soul!
   robcostello - Wednesday, 10/23/02 18:22:02 GMT

Sprial Railing Termination: This is when the top rail makes a spiral on a horizontal axis. Normaly there are several posts under the sprial. The multiple posts create the effect of having diagonal bracing or a large footprint post (6" to 12" rather than 1"). The large spiral also presents itself as a smooth round surface and is not a hazard to run into.

This is very common on decorative rails, especialy on exterior porch rails that cannot be anchored to a vertical surface. It can be a style element OR a structural element with style. . . An outside brace is simpler and easier to do.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/23/02 18:56:17 GMT

In an above post you mention using epoxy for anchoring into cement. I was wondering what kind of epoxy ? Thanks Aaron
   AARON - Wednesday, 10/23/02 19:07:55 GMT

Rob! Good to meet you too. Ready to make some iron?

Railing Edge Distances The distances I gave assumed end post anchoring only. When rails are made with ever picket anchored in the masonry then they can be closer to the edge. Again, the quality of the masonry makes a big difference. In good solid stone like granite or marble the edge distance can be as little as two inches when every picket is anchored. In these cases the holes are drilled snug to fit the posts and pickets as the stone is stronger than the fill (epoxy or lead). However, this is more typical of interior rails.

If you look at wooden interior railings, the ones close to edge have two or more pickets PER stair tread. And even then, the end posts and the stiffnes of the top rail take most of the horizontal load.

If you set pickets in every tread be sure to measure every tread. Stairs that LOOK perfectly even can vary +/-1" in rise and run. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/23/02 19:11:05 GMT

Frank: Hawley's Blacksmith and His Art has been out of print for a long time as a discussion last year with some of the guys in the "Pub" showed me. Bought one years ago, it is dogeared and coming unbound, still consider it one of the best. Do you know anyone publishing it today??
   Cap - Wednesday, 10/23/02 19:36:14 GMT


this is a follow-up to my question concerning the basket
candlestick project on page 45 of blacksmith cookbook, recipes
in iron by francis whittaker.

note: the 1/4" round rods are color coded for development only
and not intended to show a final basket candlestick.

i have uploaded 4 povray renderings of the basket candlestick
project on page 45 of blacksmith cookbook, recipes in iron by
francis whittaker.

just plain straight 1/4" round rod.

the 1/4" round rods have been expanded out.

the function used to expand out the baskets was a
damped simple harmonic motion--underdamping function.
the function and parameters are given below.

exp((-beta / 2) * t) * (A * cos(gamma * t) + B * sin(gamma * t))

where t is equal to the twist_count. twist_count range was 0 to 300.
A = 0.0;
B = 3.0;
beta = 0.3;
w0 = 0.4;
alpha0 = pow(beta, 2) - 4 * pow(w0, 2);
gamma = sqrt(-alpha0) / 2;

the 1/4" round rods have been twisted in a simple sine wave.
the angle range was 0 to 1-2/5 pi.

the completed candlesticks.
combine the damped simple harmonic motion--underdamping function
and the sine wave function the completed basket candlestick
project is obtained.

the urls are below.



now i do have a couple ideas now about how to make each rod.
   terry l. ridder - Wednesday, 10/23/02 20:04:19 GMT

Guru: Is there a demo tonight? If so what time does it start Rich
   firetongs2002 - Wednesday, 10/23/02 21:35:40 GMT

Rich, Sorry, Not tonight. . :( My data line has been out of service today. . . been answering mail and questions from my laptop today from out of the office while waiting for the line to be fixed. Stuff for the demo is on my office PC. . . Been a bum week so far.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/23/02 22:04:49 GMT

Cage: Terry, This is a little different than a basket twist but the results are supposed to look as if the bundle was heated and twisted as a group. In this type the rods are usualy bent seperately by trial and error for the first rod and then the rest made to match or a jig made and duplicate parts made from that. Often a soft piece of wire is bent by hand to make the original.

When angular bends are made at the start and finish the curve can be a simple radius or a elliptical and is often made that way. However, this often looks rather mechanical and not very artistic.

In in this style of work the curves are often not truely symetrical or geometrical. You start with an imagined solid like a Greek vase (a section that can be well drawn as two radii and two straight lines) and then wrap bars on the surface at an angle that possibly changes. Radii and straight lines both become ellipses and parabolas. The shape is more organic than geometrical.

These are things that artists, sculptors and smiths generaly have a feeling for and just DO. You can come close mathematicaly but it is faster, easier and the results usualy better when produced by skilled eye and hand. Even when jigs are made the smith will most often forge the jig by hand.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/23/02 22:48:34 GMT

frank, i just purchased a vulcan fire pot with ash dump. you stated that your favorite is from laurel machine. i dont want you to bash the vulcan, but how does it compare to the laurel machine??? i have not yet constructed the forge...

   - rugg - Wednesday, 10/23/02 23:05:33 GMT

Guru, your opinion please. We have often talked about heat treating anvils and the relative merits of a hardened face. However, after repeated exposure to red-hot steel, I would expect the face to get softer. Any work hardening from being hit by a piece of hot steel is probably minimal. The ball bearing test results you posted suggest that old anvils can be very soft compared to a new, top of the line anvil. Do you think the old anvils were made with a soft face? Or have they been tempered down? Is a really hard face important if all of the work is done hot? My Russian anvil is soft by German anvil standards but so far, the marking has been minimal (except for errant blows).
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 10/23/02 23:19:21 GMT

guru, Ok no demo thonight so I'll ask another question. How much of a crown should I grind onto my hammers?
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 10/23/02 23:24:36 GMT

Guru, I have not heard of testing an anvil with a ball bearing. I assume you drop the bearing on the anvil face. what results are you looking for?
   firetongs2002 - Wednesday, 10/23/02 23:50:48 GMT


Are you talking about "case hardening" or just the sort of surface hardening you get on larger sections of plain carbon steels? I have some amazing samples on my desk of broken 1078 steel (around 1-1/4 inch round). These were quenched and tempered and look almost like two pieces of steel - the core and the shell. Only the part that was cooled below 1000 degrees in about one second was significantly hardened. It also helps to demonstrate that thin sections can be oil quenched.


Doesnt double tempering alone take care of most of the retained austenite?
   - grant - Thursday, 10/24/02 00:29:38 GMT

Guru: You don't have to convince ME. It's the guy two doors down from the guy who thinks .5 feet = 5 inches that you gotta worry about.
   Jovan - Thursday, 10/24/02 00:32:31 GMT

Firetongs: go to the 21st century page and down to "Anvils-Testing Rebound." All shall be revealed.
   Jovan - Thursday, 10/24/02 00:43:23 GMT

Hey Guru...do you know of a good homemade recipe for a copper patina? (Green or other)Im forging some 5/8 copper bar...and would love to color it a tad..any suggestions would be helpful.
   noiseyforge - Thursday, 10/24/02 00:56:23 GMT

Copper: I haven't tried this one but I hear Mirical Grow works pretty good. Make a paste, apply it, wait, dampen, wait. The best patina's take time.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 01:09:45 GMT

Old Anvils: Tis the quality of the steel that makes the difference. The old anvils tested were made from old fashioned crucible steel that was often of variable quality and carbon content. It was also often pieced together by forge welding. Some old anvils were quite hard. I also believe the relatively thin faces (1/2" or less) over wrought iron also had an effect. The sampling was relatively small.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 01:16:55 GMT

Crown on Hammers: QC, that is a personal preference. The hammers I have used the most were commercial blacksmiths pattern hammers made by Channel Lock. They had spherical turned face radi producing about 1/8" crown on a 3 pound hammer. These also had a heavy turned chamfer with forged section chamfers producing a round face. My other "favorite" is my first hammer, an old "found" hammer that was a commercial pattern and now has a slumped to one side worn out face. Its sort of flat with rounded corners. . . I SHOULD retire it.

Many folks like rounding hammers which have very round face which will move steel faster than a flat face.

Many folks get really involved in the shape of their hammer grinding new ones to match wear patterns in old ones and going to great effort to shape handles to suit. . . I just pick em up and use em. . with the exception of new German hammers which come with unfinished faces. I also dress and polish hammers with pitted or heavily rusted faces but otherwise do not bother. . .

This is one of those points I not much into the "Zen" of it. . . Been using hammers seriously since I was 8, doing carpentry, sculpture. . smithing. Big ones, little ones. Old hammers, new hammers. . . just use em. I do find that TOO big is a problem and like to find the right weight for the job.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 01:49:55 GMT


The Ball bearing test:

Drop a ball beraing from about 16-20 inches or so. If it comes back up to your hand, you have a good anvil. If it come up more then about 2 inches short, keep looking.

What this tells you is how hard the anvil is. The harder (higher bounce) the better. A hard anvil will not absorbe nearly as much impact of a hammer blow as a softer one, like one made of cast iron.

At least that is how I understand it.
   Chris - Thursday, 10/24/02 03:01:15 GMT

Thank you Chris
   firetongs2002 - Thursday, 10/24/02 03:19:15 GMT

Grant, tempering retained austenite will transform the austenite to ferrite and cementite, not martensite. You do, indeed, get rid of the retained austenite but the resulting hardness is lower than if you transformed that austenite to martensite by freezing it. Thats why you give the parts only a very light temper before freezing it. You want to give the case a bit of toughness to resist thermal shock and the volumetric expansion of the austenite-to-martensite transformation. Temper it too much before you freeze it and it won't do much for you.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/24/02 12:08:04 GMT

Heating the anvil with your work: I've never had an anvil get up even to boiling water temps even after a hard day pounding hot metal on it. 212 degF is too cool to affect the temper. If you work larger pieces you use a larger anvil which has a larger mass to absorb and distribute heat.

Guru: crucible steel was for the *good* anvils, the old ones were shear and double shear steel (made from blister steel for you folks firmly rooted in the present)

One other aspect of an old anvil: has it ever been through a shop fire? Pretty common occurance and it could change the temper or even anneal it. Re-tempering by the smith would be a bit more hit or miss as the equipment and skills were not part of a normal shop (High pressure water and a lot of it is required!)

   Thomas Powers - Thursday, 10/24/02 12:38:08 GMT

Thomas, as far as mass heating of the surface, I concur. Highly localized heating directly under the hot work piece could raise the temperature significantly, if only for a brief time. The aspect of an anvil being in a fire is far more significant. I read about a hobby smith spending many hours pounding on his RR track anvil to harden it. I think a very small anvil like this would take heat much faster and lose hardness quicker. If you do not mill the top of the anvil, and the rail was in service, the train wheels probably got it hard enough to use without heat treatment.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/24/02 15:46:35 GMT

Anvils in Fires: I have seen a number of old anvils that were much softer than expected for the brand and I suspected they had been in a fire. Some were near dead soft with little ring. Fire annealed anvils are one reason to test an anvil before buying it. A seemingly "primo" Peter Wright may be an expensive door stop.

This is one reason I was quite upset with the eBay seller of ASO's that was using "great rebound" as a term to describe junk that had none. It was an outright lie by someone that knew what they were lying about.

Imagine the number of anvils in the many farrier shops in Chicago during the great fire or San Fransisco during the great earthquake and resulting fire. This was still the horse drawn era. Many of the buildings were large multi-story wood construction. Blacksmith and Farrier shops were on the ground floor where all the coals and burning timbers would settle and then form a layer of ash to anneal anything burried in it. And this was just one of many large fires that plagued cities of the era. So you are not talking about just a few individual shops spead over the country side. And these are shops that may have had half a dozen anvils each. . .

Things happen. . .

Rebound Testing: Chris and Firetongs, PLEASE see the description of rebound testing on our 21st Century page. The high unmeasured drop height is described by a couple folks that do not want to give us credit for the "standard" test. The test can also be easily skewed by the slightest flick of the wrist giving the ball more velocity for the height than by gravity alone.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 15:53:59 GMT

I am interested in buying a gas forge.Can you recommend a manufacturer for a hobby smith ?
   Ralph Diehl - Thursday, 10/24/02 15:56:46 GMT


NC Tools, Mankel or you could go to Ron Reil's web page ( he has a link on the Guru Link page) amd build your own
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/24/02 16:19:35 GMT

Heating Anvils with the work: I've heated a 100 pound anvil to where it was very uncomfortable to sit on. . . doing small work (1/2" bar stock making fire tools). Steam would come off the surface if wetted. That was working alone with a bellows blown fire.

In large shops with strikers working with the smith on a heavy piece. . . it might weigh a significant percentage of the anvil weight. There is a reason for large anvils but not every shop had them. In places of manufacturer every machine and device is usualy stretched beyond its limits, including anvils. In our little shop we have had an 800 pound part 5 feet long on the table of a little Bridgeport clone mill. . . Our 10 ton hoist was occasionaly "load tested" at +1.5 times capacity (32,000 pounds). . Hey, it came with a 20 ton hook for a reason! And I've run devices that sucked up so much power that you could feel the electricity flowing through the cables like a rush of water. And who hasn't loaded their pickup truck with two or three times the rated load hauling fire wood (or coal or. . .)?

Ever see the film of workers in a rail road shop welding a tire for a steam locomotive? A 5 foot diameter ring of 3" by 4" section heated to a welding heat for several feet, hanging from a crane and being forged with heavy sledges on about a 500 pound anvil. . . HUGE work even for the common 500-600 pound RR-shop anvil.

But temperatures are relative. What is required to change the temper of a piece of steel will give you a sever burn. Steaming is not as hot and uncomfortably hot is far below that. But I am sure that doing oversized work can temper an anvil. . I'm sure that steam locomotive tire did. And how many got welded on that same anvil?
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 16:22:32 GMT

Gas Forges: Ralph, Our advertisers Kayne and Son sell Forgemaster and Wallace Metal Work sells NC-TOOL. We have reviews of two of the small NC-TOOL forges under "Product Reviews" on our 21st Century page. We also sell the refractory products needed to build your own (Kaowool and ITC-100).
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 16:28:05 GMT

TheForge: Does anyone know if the the sign-up address/procedure or host for TheForge has changed? I have someone trying to sign up and the links on our ABANA-Chapter page don't work.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 16:33:37 GMT

Ralph, I speak from experience with a Whisper Baby gas forge. It is a great little forge with only a couple of small drawbacks. The port in the back, when open for long work, makes the burner sputter a bit. The refractory material below the port, on the inside, gets a lot of mechanical damage when you poke it with a piece of steel. Do yourself a favor and buy some ITC-100 from the Guru and coat the inside BEFORE you ever fire it. And while your ordering that, throw in a piece of Kaowool to patch it with. Even the ITC coating will eventually be damaged and the Kaowool will need repairs.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/24/02 16:45:09 GMT

I've got a bunch of fireclay left over from a project and was wondering if it is possible make kiln style light weight brick out of it. Any idea what I need to add? I've made a few small forges, and figured making my own brick could be handy.

   J Mack - Thursday, 10/24/02 16:46:56 GMT

Noiseyforge /// Copper patinas ///
There are dozens of recipes and routines for patinating ( = colouring) copper metal; to achieve all kinds of colours. The best book, on the subject, that I have seen, is 'The Colouring Bronzing and patination of Metals" by Hughes & Rowe.
It is long out of print, and was pricey when available. Some libraries have it and the book can be obtained via inter-library loan.
I can save you some time. What colour do you want to achieve?
For example, copper can be coloured, re,purple-brown, orange, orange-brown, brown, (light dark, or bronze), black, (light, dark-slate, grey), green, blue-green,blue,etc. The colour can be mixed such as mottled green with a brown background etc., etc.
Let me know what colour you want to achieve, and I will post the recipe and method. Do me a favour, in return. Support this web site by joining Cyber Smiths International (C. S. I.).
An application form is located at the bottom of the main page, on this site.
   slag - Thursday, 10/24/02 17:01:04 GMT

Can anyone tell me where I can purchase a Tomahawk/small ax drift tool. I have had my wife scouring every web site she can find for blacksmithing tools and nothing has turned up regarding drifts. Thanks so much!
   Bob Rahn - Thursday, 10/24/02 17:10:57 GMT

Tomahawk eye drift,
Bob, if you have the skill to make tomahawks and axes you have the skill to make your own drift, if you don't have the skill to make the drift, you won't have the skill to make an axe and making the drift will be good practice.
Check through the Archives here, there were plans on how to make a drift amonth or so back.
   JimG - Thursday, 10/24/02 18:59:30 GMT

I have a question on grinding the face of a hammer, do you grind it flat and radius the edge or grind it with a oval face. I keep leaving marks when i Flatten a piece.
   smitty7 - Thursday, 10/24/02 19:03:01 GMT

Eye Drifts: Bob, I agree with Jim that as a tool maker you should make your own eye drifts (for hammers, punches axes). There are no standards anyway.

BUT, If you wait a few days Kayne and Son will have one in their catalog. Its made by Grant Sarver of Off-Center Tools. Item # 661 Tomahawk Drift - $25 plus shipping. It will probably need a little finishing before use. If Grant will tell us what it is made of it will be listed in the catalog. Some kind of tool or medium carbon steel I'm sure.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 20:15:40 GMT

Marking Work: Smitty, See my post titled "Crown on Hammers" from yesterday.

A couple things can cause you to mark work, too sharp a corner and striking the work out of square.

If the hammer is sufficiently radiused and the marks are from the toe or heal of the face then your anvil may be too high or too low OR you just don't have enough hammer control. If the marks are right or left then it is your grip, the handle OR hammer control.

The little hammer I mentioned above that I have worn out is slumped to one side from my striking with the inside corner more than the outside. Some folks would say that I should dress new hammers to match so they strike square. Me. . I just LOOK at what I am doing and correct it if needed. That is part of using hand tools. Then again. . . that hammer may just be worn that way from forging too many tapers. . .

Most hammers have a gently spherical surface. Even carpenter's hammers are not flat. The amount of radius is a matter of preference and that is why many imported smithing hammers come with a flat face. They expect the user to dress it the way they want.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/24/02 20:34:52 GMT

Rugg, The Vulcan pot is good. My first one was that style from the early 60s, and I used it for many years.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/24/02 22:54:50 GMT

Capp, Hawley's book is long out of print, to my knowledge. When I'm looking for books to buy, I hit abebooks.com or powells.com. You sometimes luck out.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/24/02 23:01:19 GMT

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