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 25 - 31, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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QC, Temper then cyro treat (without allow to return to ambient temp?? wont the thermal shock give you a "classic quench crack"? i dont know; i have never tried it. i have read that it is crucial to temper immediately when the piece reaches 125-150F. what is your take?? along the lines of cryo treatment, there is a company that cryo treats brake rotors. what is the Rc of typical rotors?? do you think that it is possible to improve wear resistance with cryo treatment?? the only thing that cryo treatment does is to reduce/eliminate retained austenite, correct?? your comments appreciated...

paul bunyon scale annealing process . . guru's explaination of how anvils might have been annealed during fires of san fran ect . . . I'll have a dream about that tonight. . .
   - rugg - Friday, 10/25/02 00:25:40 GMT

Rugg, Ok, so I left out a few steps. Yes, allow it to cool to ambient before cryo. Yes, cryo treatment works well, I used Dry Ice to eliminate retained austenite in case hardened bearing pins for years. Now days there are several companies that use liquid nitrogen to take the parts down to -300F. It seems to do a good job on tool steels, like D2. Have no idea how hard a brake rotor is but any improvments would depend on the alloy and the heat treatment. The metallurgy of cryo treating is a fact. Martensite forms over a range of temperatures starting at about 600F and may not finish until well below zero. Cryo treating is really just an extension of the quench to lower temperatures. Cryo treatment has even been applied to horns and golf balls. However, the idea that it makes horns sound better or golf balls fly farther sounds like "pyramid power" and "crystal healing" to me.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 10/25/02 01:26:19 GMT

Is steel considered a "green product"?
   JIm - Friday, 10/25/02 02:10:25 GMT

So, the dermatologist cryoed my nose with liquid nitrogen last week. Haven't formed any martensites, but I ended up with one heck of a scab. It being just after Hastings, most of my friends at work figured it was a souvenir of the battle reenactment.

My coal supplier up on the MD/PA border closed down. Anybody deal with the coal yard in Richmond. I have to go there this Saturday for the Richmond Highland Games (http://www.richmondceltic.com/ ). I'm towing the boat and bringing the bellows, tool chest, charcoal, etc., and the Manx Camp is bringing the stumps and anvil. Oh, and they want me to bring my daughter's cooking spit, holders and skewers, and my full Viking war gear. I guess I'll be busy again.

Cool and quiet (finally) on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 10/25/02 02:32:59 GMT

I recently atempted to build a wood burning stove,(no kit just a barrel and a plan.) but the fire does not draw well. the stove is a barrel shape @ 5' long 2 1/2' wide i used a 4" i.d. pipe for stove pipe located at end of barrel. air inlet is at front of barrel and is located at bottom of front face of barrel. the in let is a 2 1/2" pipe with a flat plate welded to a piece of all tread to vairy air inlet but fire still will not "draw" even when it is fully open? please help.

p.s. is there a good way to remove galvinesed coating from metal. i was told a "rose bud" torch was the pest bet.
   jt phillips - Friday, 10/25/02 03:04:03 GMT

Stove: JT, Your vent is far to small. Standard stove pipe is 6". The cross sectional area (capacity) of 4" pipe is 12.5 sqin, but 6" pipe is 28.3 sqin. That is over twice as much. Large wood stoves and small fireplace types use 8" diameter pipe which has an area of 50.3 sqin. I'd bet the "plan" you had called for a 6" pipe as a minimum. But the barrel size you used needs an 8" or 10" pipe.

Both the 6" and 8" pipe normaly lead to a larger chimney or stack but a tall section of pipe works as a chimney if the stove in not very large. Your stove is too big to burn efficiently with a small stack.

Wood stoves that are too large get run too cool and the result is heavy creosote buildup in the stack and an eventual chimney fire. I've seen wood stoves clog up a 6" pipe in a week with creosote even when burning good hardwood. The "airtight" wood stove craze of the 1970's and 80's was a stupid thing and has resulted in hundreds if not thousands of house fires starting as chimney fires. Wood stoves need to run HOT! A small stove that you have to reload in the middle of the night is cleaner and safer than a big one that you load up and let smoulder all night. Woodburning season in suburbia results in some of the most poluted air in the country. . .

Burning zinc galvanizing off hardware is not recommended except on small hardware. Breathing burning zinc fumes can lead to metal poisioning. Acid can be used on large pieces but then you have to dispose of the metal laden acid. . . Best thing to do is paint it.
   - guru - Friday, 10/25/02 03:32:49 GMT

Cryogenic Treatment of Steel: The articles I've read all claim that it takes very low temperatures and that dry ice dosn't get it cold enough for there to be any benefit. . . ASM references claim it is only benificial on certain alloys. Of course both references could have been talking about the economic cost/benefit ratio rather than absolute metalurgical benefit. . .
   - guru - Friday, 10/25/02 03:55:04 GMT

I am designing a new home (in S. California) and I'd like to use rusted Cor-ten steel as flooring of front door entry. It will be is partially exposed to elements. It will measure 8 feet wide by 24 feet long.

Not sure if you know the work of architect, Rem Koolhaas, but he used same rusted Cor-ten for walls of museum in Las Vegas. I'd like to replicate the look.

My questions are:

How does one obtain the rusted patina with cor-ten?
Is it a viable material for flooring?
Are there suppliers and installers in California?
Is it expensive?

Thanks for the help!

   Karen - Friday, 10/25/02 04:37:07 GMT

Ran out of propane, so I thought I might as well come in and ask some questions.

I am working on the nick and weld method of building up material to do rosette's ect on the end of square stock. My welds haven't been taking very well. Sometimes I'll get most of it welded but get a unwelded area at one edge that shows up when I flatten it out.

I am using hot rolled mild steel with a bit of rust on it

I take my piece to orange, nick and fold it then flux it with "Sureweld" at a red heat.

I am using a NWBA style forge using the blow dryer ect. Lots of heat, I can take 1/2 stock to a sparkling white.

I am getting a lot of "glass" from the flux.

Could you give me some thoughts on technique or my obvious lack there of!

Maybe I should just break down and get a firepot and do my welding in coal. One thought I had was my gas fire is too oxidizing

Any help appreciated
   tanadaear - Friday, 10/25/02 05:18:23 GMT

Please where can I get PETRABOND casting sand in France? I am an amateur model engineer(54) living near Paris. Petrabond is a trade mark and is an oil bonded sand used for light alloy castings. The sand in the immediate vincity of the casting chars and has to be discarded. The casting finish is petty good but there is smoke everywhere when I pour. I tell next door that we have problems with out chip frier and so far they have not twigged on. I have got a small amount of sand that I use for aluminium alloy. These are for parts for model locomotives and rolling stock on five inch gauge. I use very nearly any available scrap that I can find. What I actually cast is somewhat unknown. I try to select extruded section scrap as this usually casts well. The problem is compounded by suppliers not wanting to sell merely one sack of sand. I can get sand, but I got the last lot from Britain. This cost our family a hell of a lot as I had to take a holiday, cross the English channel, run up country, buy the stuff load it and drive some ten hours back. It also stank the family car out! So far I have never had an accident with casting although there is clearly plenty of potential. I have founded about 500 castings. Some no bigger than a finger tip others up to 200 grams. Any ideas ?
Ron Wallman
   R.Wallman - Friday, 10/25/02 11:11:40 GMT

Some months ago I saw a sort of padlock where you had to screw in the key to open it instead of pushing it in and turning like modern locks. it had some sort of spiral for the key. Does anyone know how these work?
   Matthijs Witsenburg - Friday, 10/25/02 11:35:41 GMT

Bruce, does your nose sound any better when you blow it?
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 10/25/02 12:30:42 GMT

Pin Locks-

Matthijs, what you described sounds like a pin lock. The shackle of the lock is retained, in the locked position, by a pin that passes through it or fits in a notch in it. That pin is spring loaded, and is retracted to unlock the shackle by pulling it back against the spring. In many pin locks, the pin is threaded and the "key" is nothing more than a tube with internal threads that engages the pin threads and draws it back when it is rotated sufficiently. In large pin locks, the "threads" were sometimes made by forge-brazing spirals of square cross-section wire stock to the inside of the "key" and the outside of the pin, respectively. The "key" is usually made with a shoulder that rests against the lock case to provide the fulcrum for drawing the pin. Most of the old shackles and handcuffs were made this way up until about the beginning of the 20th century. That's about all I know regarding pin locks. Jock, the Guru, is a locksmith and will correct any misinformation I may have inadvertently given here, I'm sure.
   vicopper - Friday, 10/25/02 12:37:00 GMT

Petrobond Sand-

Matthijs, you can get Petrobond resin from Budget Casting Supply. Using that and locally available motor oil, you can make your own Petrobond sand. It should be much cheaper to ship the resin than the sand! Sharp silica sand, bentonite clay and motor oil should all be relatively easy to acquire locally in France. Try this for Budget Casting:

   vicopper - Friday, 10/25/02 12:42:19 GMT

Karen, Cor-ten will rust quickly just left out in the weather. Once the rust has fully coated the steel, the corrosion rate will slow to practially nil. It is the rust that actually protects the rest of the steel. HOWEVER, rust can easily be picked up by shoes and brought into your home to be left on every floor and carpet. Rust stains are forever. ADDITIONALLY, light standards made from Cor-ten are mounted on concrete bases, most of which bear unsightly rust stains running down over them as the acid rain dissolves the rust and carries it down the pole and all over the concrete. To get an idea about living on a steel floor, go visit any military ship that happens to be in port and ask the crew how they like living in a steel box. Steel is a wonderful material.......but not for floors. Having said that, Cor-ten is indeed available as flat rolled sheet and could be put down like linoleum...or you could just weld it all in place.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 10/25/02 12:43:15 GMT

Ron, sorry that last post was for you. By the way, there are a lot of cast aluminum parts on junked automibles, such as intake manifolds, pistons, brackets and various housings. Since they were originally sand cast, they are made of alloys that are suitable for the task. You may find that it casts better than extruded aluminum, which may have alloying metals added to facilitate drawing and extruding.
   vicopper - Friday, 10/25/02 12:46:40 GMT

Guru, Sometimes ASM is just too theoretical to be of much practical use. I was the plant metallurgist for a company that made drilling tools for the mining industry. We gas carburized 8620 bearing pins to a case depth of .050". The very deep case and high carbon potentials gave us a very high carbon case even with a diffuse cycle. We had 20-30% retained austenite and low hardnesses. I found an old chest style freezer and, after quenching and a 250F temper, we loaded the pins into the freezer in layers, separated by dry ice. We left it over the weekend and unloaded and tempered it at 350F-400F on Mondays. Most of the retained austenite was gone and the case hardness was in spec. I will grant you that liquid nitrogen would work better but dry ice is easier to handle.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 10/25/02 12:50:49 GMT

Thanks vicopper, that was exactly what I wanted to know.
   Matthijs Witsenburg - Friday, 10/25/02 12:57:11 GMT

Screw Lock: Matthijs, VIcopper was right about one type of screw key lock, but there are several types. One is shown in Book II chapter 2 of Paw-Paw's Wilson's on-line Novel "The Revolutionary Blacksmith" (on our story page).

Most ancient padlocks used either a spring mechanism or a puzzel (combination lock) mechanism. The spring mechanisms were of several types. The most familiar used a little spring loaded lever that caught the end of the hinged shackle, the lock looked like a modern padlock in most respects. In some locks the lever and spring were one but often they were two parts. The unlocking mechanisms were three basic types:

1) A simple hole for a pin to push the spring from the side.
2) A threaded hole for a threaded key that pushed the spring.
3) A bit key that rotated, pushing the spring and lever to the side. These could be plain, barrel or warded keys.

Threads on many of the old screw type keys were created by either wraping wire around a cylindrical bar and brazing or silver soldering it on OR by twisting square or triangular stock. I suspect the "nuts" were formed by mashing a tube around the key OR forcing the key into the tube while it was heated. Technique probably varied depending on the material of the lock and key. Many were made of iron but many were made of brass. In the case of brass locks parts could be formed by casting.

Other types used completly removable shackles, multiple keys and push keys on leaf springs. None of these provided much security and relied on the general honesty of the populace. The old saying "locks are for honest people" probably goes back to the earliest era of locks. The theif that would pick a lock was just as likely to break down the door.

I am working on an iForge demo on these types of Padlocks AND a book review of an old book that has numerous types of these locks. It is out of print but still available ocassionaly on the used book market. You will have to wait for the title. . .
   - guru - Friday, 10/25/02 14:37:28 GMT

Scrap White Metal: VIcopper is right on the sources of cast aluminium in automobile parts but you need to be aware that many white metal parts are also zinc or zinc-aluminium castings. Carburettors and distributors are usualy ZA alloy castings and so are many trim parts (chrome plated) and sometimes water pumps and alternator parts.

Many aluminium alloys contain zinc but in carefully controled amounts AND it is not usualy used in most cast parts. High strength 7000 series wrougth aluminium has the highest zinc content. Wonderful stuff to work with but it is not a recommended casting alloy.
   - guru - Friday, 10/25/02 14:51:12 GMT

Acetylene and propane.

I have searched through the archives, but I can't find the reference to something I am sure has been discussed on this board. When building a propane gas forge, it is not a good idea to use acetylene regulators/hoses right? Does anyone recall why?
   Escher - Friday, 10/25/02 14:51:22 GMT

If I remember corectly it had to do with degradation of diaphrams and hoses due to the different chemical make ups
   Ralph - Friday, 10/25/02 15:00:40 GMT


You might want to try using plain old borax. I never liked sureweld as it seemed to me to make a lot of 'slag' as you described.
After getting the first hit at a welding temp do not go crazy and start hitting hard or try to forge the piece down.
After lossing weld temp look at piece and see if or where further welding is needed. Then brush off scale flux ect and reflux and reheat to weld temp and hit where the weld is needed.

So are you in the PNW? I ask as you refered to the NWBA. I am just west of Portland. If you are in the area perhaps we can hook up.
   Ralph - Friday, 10/25/02 15:07:30 GMT

Cor-TEN Steel Besides what QC had to say about it many interstate bridges were built using Cor-TEN back in the 1970's (numerous in West Virginia). Many are now painted for a variety of reasons. One is that they did not stop rusting. The steel had been misapplied, it was used where salts were applied to the road as well as the fact that the atmosphere along busy highways is highly poluted resulting in higher levels of corosion. . .

Many large public sculpures were made of Cor-TEN and the resulting rust stains on concrete sidewalks and pavement has forced painting them.

There are many technical aspects to using Cor-TEN. All fasteners need to be a similar material, there are special welding rods and the steel should not be in contact with a host of other materials.

For your flooring you would be much better off to find a nice rust colored tile (a common enough color). If you need that crusty rusted look you could probably find a potter willing to make custom tiles for you. It would be a much better job and the cost would probably be equivalent. The color would be wnat you want when installed and last several lifetimes. I would give you about three years before the Cor-TEN was painted or tiled over or removed. . .
   - guru - Friday, 10/25/02 15:08:36 GMT

re: Cryo treatments.....

If I remember correctly I think one of the knife web pages talked about the use of dry ice. They used I think dry ice and alchohol... claimed it got colder.... I do not know, nor do I plan on having to do that type of work...... I tend to stick to plain old basic steel ... much easier to deal with....(smile)
   Ralph - Friday, 10/25/02 15:11:34 GMT

Acetylene and Elastomers: Esher, Ralph is right and only the manufacturer or supplier could tell you if your regulator is suitable for propane. There are several types of welding hose. The standard type for acetylene is NOT recommended for propane. It works but ages at a VERY rapid rate. IF you replace hoses annualy then it is not a problem. But if you expect them to last several years or more then you want "Grade T" rated for ALL welding gases.

The other problem with acetylene regulators is that they are designed for 15 PSI maximum output. It is common to run some gas forges above this pressure.
   - guru - Friday, 10/25/02 15:18:14 GMT

I looked in to the cryo stuff .. it seems that the most benifit is when used with stainless and some hi alloy tool steels .. as with all tempering it is a combo of time and temp, so the dry ice will work so long as it is left in the pot longer..from what i have read/heard other knife makers they say you can get the same results from leaveing the part in the freazer for a month.. not so sure if that will work but they say it will.
I do know that to get any kind of proformance out of most SS as a knife you need to do a cryo and you need to do it right. a cryo temperd 440C blade will pick up 2-4 points of hardness, and keep the flexablty of the lower R/C.
if I remeber there was some info on this on the CDK boards
   MP - Friday, 10/25/02 21:34:10 GMT

soory that shoud read CKD not CDK.. darn typos..
   MP - Friday, 10/25/02 21:35:49 GMT

My company builds custom furniture often useing metal accents or components. We do some of the metal work ourselves and sub some out to local craftsmen in the Carolina areas.
We need a supply source for decorative items to use in our designs. Items such as heads of ducks, bears, etc. Also forged or cast leaf, branch, acorn etc, etc. Thanks for your help.
   Lynn Schwebach - Friday, 10/25/02 22:31:39 GMT

great gurus...advise on repair of cracked vise "piston". this is a machinist's vise and no doubt some nimrod used it as an anvil. it is cast iron im sure...

1)should a v groove be ground into the crack before welding???
2)heat the piece with rosebud, then weld with specific rod???
3)what welding rod to use??

thanks again...rugg
   rugg - Friday, 10/25/02 23:39:50 GMT

MP, I think you are correct. It is the high carbon, high alloy steels that tend to suffer from retained austenite and benefit most from cryo treatment. However, this is not a tempering process. This is a continuation of the quenching process. The transformation of austenite to martensite is dependant only upon temperature once the transformation begins. That is why some of the austenite remains: the temperature isn't getting any lower so the transformation stops. Reduce the temperature, and transformation begins again. This suggests that leaving something cold for a month is a waste of about 29 days. The problem with retained austenite is that it can be induced to transform to martensite mechanically, e.g., a sharp blow from a hammer. Because this type of martensite does not get tempered, it remains brittle and can initiate cracks. Please note that many steels can be effectively hardened by quenching only to room temperature. The transformation in lower carbon steels is essentially complete at room temperature and cryo treatment does little good.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 10/25/02 23:51:52 GMT

Vise repairs are tough. Cast iron repairs are worse. Most of the parts are fairly high stressed. Cast iron does strange things when welded. Global preheat is not used when welded, a spot preheat, often opposite the side of the part to be welded is used to control shrinking and cracking.

The only arc welding rod that can be used on CI is NI-Rod (nickle for cast iron). Grooving is needed any time a CI part is cracked through and/or if the surface must be refinished to the original shape. In this case I suspect it is both.

When CI is welded it is not like steel, it cannot absorb the stress of the weld joint shrinking. So the part is often preheated in such a way that when it cools the side opposite the weld shrinks with the joint. This is easy to describe on a ring or wheel but difficult to determine on other shapes. On small parts it often make no difference but on some parts every time you weld one place the part will crack at another from the shrinkage. . .

Brazing can be as strong as welding CI and often makes a better job. It too has problems but the stresses from shrinkage are not so great.

If you don't try you won't gain anything so go to it! Good luck.

   - guru - Saturday, 10/26/02 01:21:55 GMT

Books, like blacksmith tools, are where you find 'em. About 2 months ago I found (only 1 new copy) of The Colouring, Bronzing and Patination of Metals mixed in with the coffee table books at one of those discount book stores that spring up in old strip malls, whilst looking for something else. $18 US, says inside printed in Hong Kong, 1999, original print run in US was 1991. So they are out there. If I find another one, I'll have something unusual for IITH. Been back several times, no luck.

Cryo treatments - IIRC Ed Fowler mentioned trying Liquid Nitrogen for 52100 blades, in addition to his normal triple tempering, don't recall details off the top of my head.

Mechanical transformation of martensite (work hardening)- this morning I was trying to file some notches out of an old axe that I keep for splitting knots and grubbing out stumps. The sections where the edge had encountered the local quartz lumps (and lost) were much harder than the rest of the blade - hard enough to make the new file skate and to gouge the file teeth. This is what makes mushroomed, buggered old striking tools such a menace unless reground and properly heat treated. Having had a sliver of wood splitting wedge removed from my eye years ago, I don't recommend the experience.
   John McPherson - Saturday, 10/26/02 02:13:52 GMT


The nose doesn't SOUND any better, bet it is starting to look a bit better. We shall see. (After all, it's as plain as the nose on my face! ;-)

All packed for the Highland Games in Richmond tomorrow. ( http://www.richmondceltic.com/ ) I'll be with the Manx Camp in the reenactor's slum, er, area, if anybody swings by.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 10/26/02 02:48:16 GMT


One advantage of some of the older lock designs (according to our locksmith in Markland) is that if people don't understand the principle, they can't pick it.

But the Great Guru is right; most breakins are of the "kick in the door" or "twist it off with a crowbar" type. Certainly in this neck of the woods.

Picking locks is for subtle folk, who don't want people to know whats been taken or who's been where. (Of course, at work, they've used my talents when certain simple locks on drawers and file cabinets had to be gotten around. Legitimate, I assure you, but it does impress the co-workers, and beats boltcutters and/or drilling out.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 10/26/02 02:56:04 GMT

Rust Stains /// Removers.
Many acids will dissolve rust stains. For example, phosphoric, acetic, and oxalic acids are good examples. Acids can destroy some organic and some inorganic materials. So, pre-testing of the material is important.
I have used oxalic acid to take heavy rust stains out of cotton fabrics, and the garment was not harmed and the rust was completely removed.
Better still, many carpet fabrics are made of polymer fibers (plastic) and most of these are acid resistant. That includes even strong acids such as concentraterd sulfuric or hydrochloric,acid etc.
Try the oxalic acid on an inconspicuous "corner" of the rust stained fabric.
When the fabric's rust stain is gone, wash the fabric in cold running water for a while. (avoid splashing water), Then neutralise the remaining acid (if indeed any is left), by immersing the garment in a dilute solution of water and baking soda. If there was any acid left in the garment, you will see gas bubbles (carbon dioxide, etc.). When the bubbling stops (if there were any bubbles), the garment (or carpet, etc.)should then be removed and thoroughly flushed with water and then washed with detergent.
Regards from the G. W. N. which is rapidly cooling to winter temperatures. (that partially explains why we celebrate our Thanksgiving Holiday earlier than Y'all South of us.)
Regards to all.

Please use rubber gloves and eye protection when using the acid treatment.
   slag - Saturday, 10/26/02 03:48:02 GMT

OK heres another acid question. I made several cleft symble chimes out of old car springs. then left them in muradic acid (mixed 50/50 with water) for 24 hours. I cleaned them in water then soaked them in a solution of water and baking soda. The slag was gone but they were an ugly gray color. Is this normal? I thought the chimes would come out clean and bright. What did I do wrong.
   triw - Saturday, 10/26/02 05:08:39 GMT

Out of town today, back tomorrow. Reenactment, the Sgt Major rides again.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/26/02 10:14:33 GMT

triw- A 50/50 solution of muriatic acid (HCl)is strong enough that in 24 hours the surface of the steel will be etched. Steel that has been forged, particularly if it hasn't been fully normalized, has uneven density and will etch unevenly as a result. In that strong a solution, the slag should have been weakened or removed in about an hour, maybe less. If you soak it for 30 minutes then neutralize it and rinse it, the scale should come right off with a wire brush, leaving the surface beneath mostly unetched. The color you're seeing is the "natural" color of steel that hasn't been oxidized. If you want shiny, you have to sand and polish it, or planish it with a hammer.

On a side note, the unequal action of acidic solutions on different densities of metal is what I depend on as a forensic investigator when restoring "obliterated" serial numbers. You'd be surprised at how well some of them can be restored to legibility by just etching them with lemon juice!
   vicopper - Saturday, 10/26/02 12:43:13 GMT

Atli/locks: I know, I've opened my share of cabinets and bicycle locks myself, and love the faces of my friens when I show them how easy it is to open their bike's almost as fast as the can, but without the keys :)
   matthijs witsenburg - Saturday, 10/26/02 13:13:36 GMT

A friend and I was wondering what fuel to use in our forge. I looked in the directory on this web site and the nearest place to get coal is no less than 3 hours away. What would be the best and least expensive fuel?
My friend has some Oak that we could use, but for first timers would that be the best type of fuel to use?
IF we were to use store bought charcoal what kind would be the best to use? Would it burn up too fast for the cost?
Thank you.
   Matt - Saturday, 10/26/02 14:01:11 GMT

For the low-down on fuels go to "Anvilfire's FAQ's" and down to "Coal and Charcoal." My yellow pages list 2 places under "Coal-Retail." The stuff I get is complete crap (I live in Colorado 1/2 an hour from Utah) but I can go and fill a 20 Gal trash can (metal) for less than four dollars.
If you post your location someone may be able to help you with a closer location. (Neither of the two in my phone book are in the scuttle.) Cheap coal is not a good solution if you have neighbors who will complain about the smoke or if your forge is inside.
   crosspein - Saturday, 10/26/02 14:55:15 GMT


The "best" fuel for starting out or working as a professional smith is the same fuel. It is top quality bituminous coal (See our Coal FAQ). Pro's can not afford to waste time with bad coal and amatures will get nowhere or become very frustrated. About the only way to know the difference between good coal and bad is to try some good coal. You can order coal in 50 pound bags from Kayne and Son.

Charcoal is the next best fuel but barbeque briquetts ARE NOT CHARCOAL. They are a glued together mix of sawdust, some mineral coal and some charcoal. That "wood", hickory or mesquite flavor comes from sawdust. . . You can purchase real wood charcoal from resturant suppliers. It is not cheap and due to the low density of charcoal it requires a larger volume than coal. IT also requires a deeper fire. But charcoal was THE fuel for thousands of years and still is in many places. There are directions for making charcoal on our coal FAQ page.

Because of the shipping expense and inconvenience of coal and charcoal many smiths are using propane forges. However, it is also not unusual for smiths to make that 3 hour trip you are talking about to buy a ton of coal. But NEVER buy more than a bucket full of coal to test unless the coal source has been recommended by other smiths. Many smiths have spent hundreds of dollars and wasted days of their time purchasing tons of coal that sit piled up in their yards. . . .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/26/02 15:15:12 GMT

I've been working on a 100 lb. Little Giant that has been working great, but recently, it starting hitting soft. It will hit hard when first pressing on the treadle, and then hit very soft. It started doing this recently when the weather started getting cold. Any advice would be appreciated!
   Kevin C - Saturday, 10/26/02 17:01:00 GMT

Matt, Guru is right bad coal will drive you crazy till its gone. So don't buy till you know. I bought 400 lbs of one coal an 400 lbs of another to try it. HATED IT! I drive 3 1/2 hrs now to get Pocohontis. 1500 LBs a load. Its part of getting good coal. You should feel lucky that the supplier is that close to you. If...its good coal. Gas has its place. I use it alot too. I've built and used the Reil burners. You can be forging with a home brew forge in less time than it will take to go and get the coal. I use 3 T-Rex burners in my home made forge. I ran the Reil and T-Rex side by side and liked what I saw in the T-rex. Call that coal co. and ask for the spec sheet on the coal that they sell. Also call the Poca co. listed in The coal scuttle in WV and ask if they sell to a supplier near you. Thats how I found my new place.
   - Pete-Raven - Saturday, 10/26/02 18:57:50 GMT

To all,
Sorry, wasn't trying to endorse crappy coal, but by the time I add shipping it comes to $.50 /lb for the good stuff, and I can't afford to get hooked on that kind of habit. All I was really saying is that there are other sources, keep looking, and if you are going to use crappy coal don't drive far for it. How much does charcoal usually run? Who besides resturant suppliers might carry it? (The only one I could find only deals with people who have accounts for thousands of dollars worth of weekly business, boy would that be a lot of pounding!)
BTW I think the closest coal mine with good coal is over 30 hrs from me!
   crosspein - Saturday, 10/26/02 19:41:32 GMT

Etched Steel: When evaluating a metallurgical sample, we polish it to a mirror finish and immerse it in 5% Nitric acid in alcohol. It turns it from a mirror finish to a sooty gray. This happens because the iron is etched away, leaving the carbon (and some silicon, etc) exposed. If you touch the surface with your finger, it will smear the carbon and ruin the sample. Under a microscope, you can easily see the grain structure at about 100x. I would think that your forgings that turned gray would easily polish up with minimum effort.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/26/02 21:44:26 GMT

Ooops. $.96/lb for coal, $1.00/lb for coke. Mostly shipping.
   crosspein - Saturday, 10/26/02 21:50:54 GMT


i have built the 2x12 hollow anvil that is on i-forge.
i am impressed as to how solid it feels. i am having a problem
with ringing.

my anvil is 110lbs of rail, 17" long 7" tall 6" wide.
it is what i am able to afford at the moment.

i was thinking of putting down a layer of silicon chalk under
where the anvil sits. would that help in dampening the ring?

i were ear plugs but the wife says she can still here it ringing.

terry l. ridder >
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 10/26/02 22:53:15 GMT


that should read "2x12 hollow anvil stand".


terry l. ridder >
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 10/26/02 22:54:26 GMT

LG Blues: Kevin, either you are greasing parts that requre oil, using too heavy of oil or not oiling at oil. . . OR something has gotten loose and is out of adjustment. Changing the type of work you are doing (work height) without adjusting the hammer can also make a big difference.

It sounds like your hammer is out of time and on the verge of doing the Little Giant Hula. Oiling and proper adjustment are key elements in having the hammer hit right. The best tuning advice available is the Dave Manzer video that we sell. See the book review page.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/27/02 00:09:08 GMT

Padding Under Anvil: Terry, Although many people recomend it, the rubber padding can actualy increase the ring. Caulk helps by tying the anvil down. What kills the ring best is bolting the anvil down tight. Bolts or screws.

You also want to check for high spots under the center of the anvil. Balancing on a small surface lets the anvil vibrate freely. Many anvils have a hollow in the base that helps them set flat and this also reduces ring. You can carve a depression in the wood easier than the anvil.

Anvil shape also contributes to ring. The typical anvil shape is like a double ended tuning fork. The longer the horn and heal with base material mirroring them the louder the ring. Stubby old Colonial style anvils ring much less than the long horn American style. . .

Stake anvils have alsmost no ring at all because they do not have part of the base acting sympatheticaly with the horns. The stake's shank is also held firmly in the stump or base deading any ring.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/27/02 00:19:22 GMT

Tomahawk drift. A while back, someone wanted to know where to get one. Admittedly, they should be able to make their own. However, there is a tapered, ductile iron one on eBay which has the odd cross-section that some old tomahawks had. The section is rounding coming into a single not-so-sharp cusp. I never whacked on ductile iron, myself. Anyone? eBay # 727594136.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/27/02 00:42:20 GMT


I have an anvil that used to ring so badly I couldn't use it without weearing the earmuffs I use for shooting. I bedded it silicone gasket compound and clamped it down with a couple of fingers bolted to the base (wood). It is now much. much quieter and more stable, too. I still wear the muffs though, since I'm losing my hearing from too many loud noises in the past and don't want to aggravate it.
   vicopper - Sunday, 10/27/02 02:32:36 GMT

Off-Center Tool's new Tomahawk Drifts are now on the Kayne and Son page.

I've got a couple ductile iron swage blocks. Its about as soft as mild steel. The only serious mark in one is where one fell off a bench onto something hard.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/27/02 05:24:18 GMT

Vicopper, WHATEVER you do, try to preserve what's left of your hearing! I have lost 85% of mine through heredity and stupidity, dirt bikes, chainsaws, Civilian and U.S. Army firing ranges (In 1960, the Military didn't think it necessary to provide or recommend hearing protection.), a shipyard and numerous fab shops and factories. DUH! Even though modern hearing aid science and technology are a wonderful thing, deafness SUCKS. Not only am I going meshuggeh, I'm taking those around me along for the ride. Best Regards, 3dogs. (What?)
   3dogs - Sunday, 10/27/02 08:06:18 GMT

Is steel considered a "Green Product" Thanks
   Jim - Sunday, 10/27/02 14:20:28 GMT

Jim, This question has been asked several times but I don't know if you didn't get an answer or missed one that was posted. The answer is YES! More that 50% of the steel produced today is recyled from old autobodies, machinery bases, etc. It is efficiently remelted and made into new steel. The rest of the steel being produced starts with a blast furnace that makes liquid IRON. The iron is refined into steel, mostly with Basic Oxygen Furnaces. The blast furnace is fed iron ore, coke, and limestone, just like the methods used for hundred of years, only on a MUCH larger scale. Govt. regulations require steel mills to capture most of the dust and emissions, adding considerably to the cost of production. HOwever, the air and water around the mills is dramatically improved. Steel being imported from the Third World, however, is usually produced by plants with little or no requirements for pollution control and the environment there is like it was here about 100 years ago: POLLUTED! There is a real danger that our domestic steel industry will disappear in our lifetime because the costs here cannot compete with foreign steel. If you like what has happened to the price of oil, you will love what happens to the price of steel when we have to import all we use. BUY AMERICAN!
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/27/02 15:13:33 GMT

Please direct me to a listing of specific heats and latent heats of fusion for common alloys, ferrous and non-ferrous.
   william pearson - Sunday, 10/27/02 16:32:56 GMT

Saving BASIC Metal Industries (and Green): For the past 25 years one of our primary political-economic concerns SHOULD have been saving our basic metals industries. Today American steel is not only hurt by higher production costs but by the export of scrap and coal to Japan and Europe. So much coal and scrap iron is leaving the US that the result is that the only profitable railroads in the U.S. are those hauling coal and scrap to the ports. We have no national policy supporting things that we NEED to remain a strong country economicaly.

In the 1980's Regan and his advisors pushed for a "service economy". Providing services does not create true wealth, it only siphons money off those that do. True wealth comes only from creating something. Making something long lasting and more valuable out of something less valuable. Selling raw materials is squandering the things needed to create true wealth. Exporting raw materials is something only "3rd world" countries should be reduced to in order to produce income.

To make maters worse, scrap iron is NOT a true raw material. It is a valuable material that has already been paid for in fuel burned, enviromental pollution and the lives and liftimes of millions of miners and mill workers. Scrap iron in America should be treated as a national asset. Reusing scrap metal is about as "green" a thing as you can do.

We export this hard gotten material and the coal to create more while importing oil. . .

When an economy is nothing but "services" and no true wealth is created, those providing the services become economic prostitutes.

These are the simplest of REAL economics and we are doomed if we do not have a national policy that reflects this reality.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/27/02 16:47:30 GMT


I'm looking to buy a welder. Any suggestions? Want to be able to weld up to 1/2". I'd like to keep the cost under $600. Thanks.
   Chris - Sunday, 10/27/02 20:17:19 GMT

Metals Data William, matweb.com has some of this type information but if you need this kind of information on a large number of specific alloys you will need a printed reference like ASM's ASM Metals Reference Book and perhaps a cross reference like the SAE/ASTM UNS book. References like Machinery's Handbook will have some of this information on a smaller sample of alloys and the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics will have very detailed information on elemental metals. Often is you are looking for odd or uncommon alloys you need a specialty reference on the specific base metal such as aluminium or copper.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/27/02 20:27:09 GMT

$.96 per pound for coal?????? Almost $2,000 per ton???? Gotta be a typo or math error.
   bbeck - Sunday, 10/27/02 21:13:08 GMT

To ship 50 pounds of coal by UPS from Virginia to California costs $44.44. The coal costs $15 for 50 pounds. That is $59.44 for 50 pounds of coal or 1.19/pound. . .

For me to drive to 250 miles round trip to Richmond, VA in Ford F-600 flatbed to pickup coal costs over $50 for gasoline. Add a day of my time ($100 to $200 would be cheap), then pay $150/ton for coal. . . that is easily over $350/ton or $0.18 per pound. . . if I only get one ton and shovel it myself on both ends. . . A big difference but many folks don't have a good supply of coal within 100 miles. Increase the distance and you might need to stay overnight as well as pay more for fuel.

Buying groups that get a full truck load usualy get the best deal on coal but need to buy 10 tons or so.

Propane delivered at going rates starts looking pretty good.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/27/02 22:12:08 GMT

A Buzz box is what you want Chris. Mine is Linclon Ranger 8 Gas. Can weld anything with it and have done such,paid $4800.00 (CDN)for it. It was a retirement give to me. Happy hunting..
   Barney - Sunday, 10/27/02 22:30:05 GMT

I am working on a fireplace project. Where is a good source for the wire mesh? Is there a certain mesh size that is best to use?
Any tips that you can provide are greatly appreciated.
   LONNIE - Monday, 10/28/02 00:29:18 GMT

Hello, as a beginner smith I find I'm wasting a lot of forge
time as a result of poor planning...are there any user-friendly programs I can use to design projects? Thanks in advance.
   Brad - Monday, 10/28/02 00:33:07 GMT

Brad, the time is not wasted if you are learning something. I have see several smiths put a chalkboard up in the shop where they design their work. Others do it entirely with God-given "wetware". I tend to favor a rough sketch to check the proportions but after I fire the forge, most of the design work happens hot and under the hammer. I am fairly new to smithing even though I am 55 years old. The first thing I learned was to put my hammer and tongs in the same place every time...nothing like walking around with a hot iron looking for that *&%$#@&^ hammer!
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 10/28/02 01:24:16 GMT

I have been beating metal (I'm not sure I'm good enough to actually call myself a blacksmith) for a couple years. I ran into a guy the other day when I was out working my bird dog who had built a crossbow using an old leaf spring for the bow. He told me he had stacked the spring until it was 3/4 of an inch thick, cut the excess, forged to shape and heat treated it. He had it polished to a nice finish and he let me shoot it once. It has about a hundred pound draw weight and shot really well. To tell the truth, I'm not that interested in crossbows, but after seeing this guys I , of course, have to try it even if just to say I did.

I'm trying to decide how you would heat treat somehting like that. I have made several knives and candleholders and the standard fair where heat treating is not that important (I know some of you are jumping up and saying "heat treating is VERY important for knives" sit back down, if you saw some of the knives I turned out you would realise that I would NEVER let anybody actually see one outside my shop and frankly, sitting on the shelf as another practice in how NOT to make a good looking knife, the heat treating doesn't mean that much. Anyway, I have a heat treating furnace and a good shop setup (the spirit is willing and the toys...I mean tools....are all there), I have just never tried to forge anything really "springy" before and am not really clear on the process involved.

Thank you very much
Greg Jahnke

If you could copy your reply to gjahnke@carrollsweb.com I would really appreciate it, my internet connection is kind of quirky but I (almost) always manage to retrieve my E-mail.

Thanks again!
   Greg Jahnke - Monday, 10/28/02 02:57:02 GMT

sorry, when I said "stacked" the leaf spring, I think I meant "upset"
   Greg Jahnke - Monday, 10/28/02 03:19:05 GMT

Greg, The trick with heat treating a leaf spring is a uniform heat before quenching then a uniform temper. Your best bet is to take it to a spring shop or a heat treater. You would be surprised at how economical it is to have a pro do it. They will do the entire job for less than what fuel will probably cost you.

The trick to forging spring and tool steels is to not work too hot OR too cold. As soon as the metal stops moving STOP pounding on it! We all pick up bad habits forging mild steel that are unforivable by high carbon steel.
   - guru - Monday, 10/28/02 05:08:01 GMT

While re-reading book II Chapter 7 of The Revolutionary Blacksmith, I saw this:

"This morning the bell was rung for the first time to call the worshipers to church. Master John had not heard it before and he commented that it sounded better than he had thought a cast iron bell would sound. I told him what Tommy and I had done with the brass, and he smiled and said..."

Could someone explain more about how adding brass rings to a cast bell would improve the sound.

Thanks... Great Book Paw Paw!

   Rick Widmer - Monday, 10/28/02 07:12:27 GMT

Greg, That's nothing. I met a Scottish smith and apparently over there, they call upsetting "staving up".
   Frank Turley - Monday, 10/28/02 10:29:52 GMT


To be honest, I don't know how it works. Jock may be able to explain it. But I do know that it works, I've got an old cast iron farm bell that had a terrific "CLANG" when it was rung. I filled in some of the pits in the surface with bluxed brazing rod. It's still not as pure a tone as it could be, but it's a lot better. Something about dampening some of the dissonant harmonics, I suspect.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/28/02 12:55:04 GMT

fluxed, not bluxed

Teach me to type without any coffee!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/28/02 12:55:38 GMT


Ever consider a couple of 3'x3' sheets of chain mail?! It might be more work than you want to do, but it would be cool!
   Chris - Monday, 10/28/02 13:56:55 GMT

Charcoal: check out a good BBQ place and see if they would let you piggyback on their order. A few hand forged trinkets and they may even *give* you the stuff.

Also we get our locally from a roofing supply company, some of the tin work in the flashing is still soldered with a copper and many old time roofers use a charcoal fired copper furnace!

Store Dry if it's damp it gives off more sparks, "goumet" charcoal is often sparky since it's not completely charred to leave the "flavour" in the smoke.

Hand crank blowers or bellows are much more stingy in their coal use than electric blowers. (but slow down production work)

Bruce, Feynman took up lock picking during the Manhattan Project, so you are in good company. I found out how to pick the desk drawers at work accidently by fiddling around during long conference calls, now when people retire and forget to return their keys I get called (takes two weeks to get the "in-house" folks to open a desk) and the one supervisor that keeps locking their keys in their desk...don't know if it hurts or helps my performance review...

Paw-Paw could any of the change be due to just heating it?

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 10/28/02 15:07:42 GMT

I would like to know how to make a ritualistic Athame?
   Pagan - Monday, 10/28/02 15:58:20 GMT

I recently saw a blacksmithing demonstration at a Renaissance Fair in Lakewood, NJ and was blown away. I now am in the process of trying to make a forge from a 14Ē Olds rim. I plan to use an old bathroom exhaust fan for a blower; my question is should I close off the vents in the rim to limit the airflow to the fire? Or should I let some air in around the base of the fire and use the blower to create the hot spot in the fire? Or should I try it with the vents and if it doesnít work close off some vents until I get the results I want? (the trial and terror method). In keeping with the guidelines for posts, I am a 55-year-old former dirt track racer with basic welding equipment and skills.
   Phil - Monday, 10/28/02 16:05:38 GMT

Thomas, I suppose it could be, but I really don't know.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/28/02 16:51:44 GMT

Pagan; it depends on *your* belief system. So you will either have to research it yourself or find a mentor "further along". (or at least post which system you are following)

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 10/28/02 17:28:39 GMT

Anybody know where I can find the OSHA standards for Hand Railings?
   Chris - Monday, 10/28/02 17:53:30 GMT

While you could use a tire rim, the brake drum is the usual choice in car parts for a fire pot. Just one hole in the center is what you need and you will need some way to control the air from the fan either by limiting the amount of air to reach the fan or limiting the amount of air to reach the fire via a dump valve. Keep the fire about 6"deep over the twere and work in the middle. Just as in welding with a torch, the forging fire has an oxidizing zone a neutral zone and a carbonizing zone. You want to work in the neutral zone.
   Wayne Parris - Monday, 10/28/02 18:47:44 GMT

Thought I'd jump in on the Coal/Charcoal issue.

For my first year of smithing we used the nastiest, dirtiest cheapest (free) coal you could ever imagine, and it was more than discouraging, it was downright frustrating just getting it to light. Once lit it only burned in a very small hot spot, and even that went out if we didn't break the coal up before tossing it in (it was in large chunks). The stuff was, in a word, gross. Obviously not of the blacksmithing grade, but I didn't know any better (I'm sure one of the others did, but he kept his mouth shut because it was free and it was THERE). From this experience I learned that coal was GOOD, but that CHEAP coal was BAD, and the smoke it threw off made me sick. And so whenever someone says "Well I have this old coal behind my barn..." I am forced to beat them over the head with a mallet and tell them how dangerous and aggrivating cheap coal is.

And so when I ventured out on my own and got a little group together to forge (I forge with groups because that way, when something needs bought, you split the price. Drawback? When something is sold, they expect you to split the profit) we used charcoal. We tried the grill stuff but it just wouldn't get hot (for the reasons others have stated) and eventually settled on hardwood (Yellow wood, which the farmer we got it from called "Bodock" but I'm not sure what it would REALLY be called), or when we wanted the fire to be REALLY hot we'd mash up the grill "charcoal" and toss it in to "fill in the gaps". Our fire was HUGE this way to get enough heat, and QUITE deep, but it worked. But wood/charcoal is no good for beginners like myself, I do not believe, because of the shear VOLUME involved to get a good heat, and even then it's trouble getting a "clean" fire. We still use Charcoal from time to time, to save coal (and sometimes to get it lit on windy days) and think this is a good option for people trying to be "period" with their blacksmithing, for events and the like, but if at all possible I say COAL.

It was on this very page that someone said to me that a good blacksmithing coal was quite versatile.. and I've been looking for an excuse to hide a "thank you" in a long winded post like this, to EVERYONE who contributed to my query about the "best fuel".. and now I've become as opinionated as some of the people who emailed me about it ;) We were fortunate, in that someone gave me the number of a fellow close by, who gave me the number of a mine close by, where we were able to get a hair over a ton of GOOD coal for our forge. We've only fired it four times since we got it, but we've enjoyed every second and will be going back to the mine for MUCH more when get get a bigger trailer. Whenever folks ask me now (and surprisingly they DO ask) what my preferred fuel is.. I say "Coal".. every time. I never realized how versitile the stuff was! Can get it HOT.. or can leave it cool.. can make BIG fires.. or little tiny fires.. and the good stuff burns clean enough (though getting it started I would like to take a step back and let it go, but our blower is hand crank).

I don't think I'd pay 1.00 a pound for the stuff though... have you tried calling information? When I lost the number for the coal mine (yes, I'm THAT careless sometimes) I just called 1411 and asked the nice operator (who didn't seem at all pleased with my request) to do a statewide search for "coal mine".. we also recently got in touch with a gent who smiths nearby and gets HIS coal from the railroad somehow.. could try that.

On an unrelated note: Someone recently emailed me asking if I would sell my Buffalo forge. I'm sorry that I lost your email address, or I'd have replied there, but if you'd email me agian at the address I provided we'll talk.

Lonnie: If you take Chris's suggestion and use maille sheets, I know a fellow that will probably do them for you. Not sure if maille will WORK for a fireplace.. and seems rather... nevermind. But if that's what you decide to do, email me and I'll put you in touch.

Summary for those not wanting to read the long winded:

Coal is best fuel, as long as you buy GOOD coal, unless it costs too much then it's bad.

Charcoal is decent, but only if you can't get coal.

Thank you guru et all for your help finding coal and your advice on it.

I'm a bumbling idiot when it comes to phone numbers and email addresses. Whoever emailed me about my forge, please do so agian.

I know a guy who does cheap chainmail if anyone needs it.

Slag - When deflowering a virgin on your anvil, be sure the anvil is NOT in use at the time. This causes complaints.

I should learn when to just shut up and smile. Raise your hand if you agree. HA! tricked you! I can't SEE your hands!

Robert "Asgard"
HPL Steele
Long winded as ever
Very thankful for the Guru.

PS: I get my christmas bonus on Nov. 20. Look for my CSI application then. Heh. Be afraid.

Any advice before I try to make a Pot Rack for my new kitchen?
   Robert "Asgard" - Monday, 10/28/02 19:01:14 GMT

I've some 16 ga sheet that I'd like to use for candle holders. What would be the best rpm's to use on my drill press to cut this with a bi-metal hole cutter? Thanks.
   - Bob G - Monday, 10/28/02 19:19:05 GMT

On your pot rack decide how you plan on hanging or mounting rack first then design from that.
Also decide how you plan on hanging pots from it first.

I made one from 2: X 1/4" flat stock. Made a rectangle. Punched rectangle holes in the norrow ends and fitted 1/2 round rails with tenons to fit holes.
Punched 1/2" round holes in the corners to place rings made from 1/2 round. Each ring was about 4" dia. Then I used 1/2 round to make the hangers. Looked like the clothes hangers you get at dry cleaners ( the ones with the cardboard tube on bottom) with the tube removed. The hanger hooked two rings. Then it was hung from ceiling with some chain.
S hooks were made to actually hang the pots etc from the rails.....

As for charcoal, it gets plenty hot, and you do not need a huge fire. As long as you are using good hardwood charcoal. The BBQ briquettes are mostly clay and ash so will rob the fire of heat.....
And since charcoal is different in use form coal either one makes a good started fuel. as both require the same amount of attention... but gas is even better as there is no fire tending needed...
Of course I use all three but I prefer coal and charcoal about the same....
   Ralph - Monday, 10/28/02 19:34:56 GMT

We are a heating and air condintioning firm who has recently installed a natural gas line for a jewler who does tourch work on platnium. the jewler has requested that we supply 8# gas pressure to the space. the gas company will not allow this. How can we boost the pressure to accomodate the necessary pressure to operate a "Little Tourch" oriface size .046".
   Dan McConnell - Monday, 10/28/02 19:58:13 GMT

We are a heating and air condintioning firm who has recently installed a natural gas line for a jewler who does tourch work on platnium. the jewler has requested that we supply 8# gas pressure to the space. the gas company will not allow this. How can we boost the pressure to accomodate the necessary pressure to operate a "Little Tourch" oriface size .046".
   Dan McConnell - Monday, 10/28/02 19:58:50 GMT

I recently read about the Hofi hammer. According to what I read this hammer is designed to neck down metal using the cross peen. This would eliminate the need for a fuller. Also it is balanced so that you can hit on the edges to move metal in one direction, making it ideal for drawing out. My question: At about $100, is this hammer worth it? Or too good to be true? This question is mainly for the Guru but if anyone else has experience with the hammer and wants to weight in, feel free. thanks.

Jeff in NH
   Jeff - Monday, 10/28/02 20:40:07 GMT


OSHA would be right for workplace hand rail, but otherwise you want to look at the local building code.
   - grant - Monday, 10/28/02 23:09:46 GMT


I've used a Hofi style hammer a couple of times. I find that my cross pien or diagonal pien hammer either one work just as well for me. I've got a kit to make the Hofi that I intended to build, but never have bothered to build it.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/28/02 23:29:11 GMT

jojo, waiting for e-mail re hay budden...
   rugg - Monday, 10/28/02 23:30:45 GMT


Someone was kind enough to let me try his Hofi hammer at Tannehill. Actually, he kept after me till I did, because I wasn't particularly interested. Well, I liked it. Moved the metal real well. Nice balance. Real nice. I was swinging a 3 lb Hofi as easy as I usually swing my 2 lb cross peen. Ran right up to the tailgate area to find one. That's when I found out about the $100 part. I had already patronized the tailgaters pretty freely, so that brought me up short. I'm still contemplating. I have noticed that a large number of the smiths I've met who I consider good and proficient and all that are using the Hofi hammers.

How's that for a noncommittal response?

   SteveA - Monday, 10/28/02 23:32:10 GMT

Robert Asgard /// Anvil initiation.
You know I never gave the female comfort question any thought. Perhaps it's because there aren't any virgins up here (i. e. human ones). And they are avidly snatched up at around menarche time(about 10 or 11 in these parts, I guess I'm getting too old to compete with the local randy, young squires). Any younger candidates are toooo young for me. The Ont. and N.Y.S. Bars might look askance and consider giving me the bounce.
Thanks for the input though.
The anvil has been operative for some time. We initiated it by sacrificing a Kentucky Fried Chicken upon it together with a generous Bourbon libation.
Seems to have worked out alright. The anvil works o.k. and we haven't burnt down the garage. Guess the Deities, Loas, Gremlins and divers other assorted mystical beings were suitably pleased
Gotta run! I think I smell smoke coming form the direction of the garage.
Later, SLAG.
   slag - Tuesday, 10/29/02 00:18:47 GMT

Asgard, I think the wood you referred to as "Bodock" was probably Bois D'Arc (Bodark). It is also known as Osage Orange and Hedge. It is called Bois D'arc because the French found the Native Americans using it for bows. While it is a premier wood for bows, the best thing you can do with this stuff is burn it. It gives off more heat than oak.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 10/29/02 00:20:52 GMT

i have a couple of Hofi..realy like them. worth the money to have a balanced hammer,,,bill epps makes a great hammer also have a couple of them too,trick is if the hammer feels good and works for you, a 3 dollar flea market find is as good as any if you really like it and it works for you.
   jwolfe - Tuesday, 10/29/02 00:23:06 GMT

DIY FORGE Phil, the large volume low pressure ceiling fan is not a very good forge blower. . . ask your self, "would it work as a blower on a race car engine?". . NO. Forge blowers are usualy centrifugal types with fairly high head (pressure) at what ever volume. A fan is not a blower. But Vacuum cleaner blowers are TOO much. 150 to 500 CFM is the range you are looking for. Blow hair driers are about the right amount of air.

RPM Bob, when cutting anything RPM is not the question, FPM is the question (or M/M if you are using metric). This is the speed the blade is passing through the material. For most HSS steel cutters this is about 90 to 120 feet per minute and LESS when the feed pressure is not high enough to make good heavy chips. Holes saws never have enough pressure even on drill presses so the speed should be even slower. . . SO. . diameter is part of the equation. The length of the cutting edge goes UP by PI x Increase in diameter (3.1416). You can do the math. But generaly the slowest speed on any drilling machine that doesn't have back gear is too fast for diamters over 1.25".
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/29/02 00:34:51 GMT

OSHA Most OSHA specs are on-line. Like all government documents they are written so that some low level bureaucrat can interpert them to make the LAW say whatever they want. See Grant's response.

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/29/02 00:43:04 GMT

Asgard, In Oklahoma, they say "bodoc" for bois d'arc, which I believe is Osage Orange wood.
Jeff, I'll say it again about hammers. You can get used to anything. You can get used to hanging if you hang long enough.
Pagan, If a pagan has no religion, isn't consorting with demons a form of religion? Anyway, if you learn bladesmithing, you can make a blade, but you will have to figure out what symbols to use on the hilt and how to get the blade "consecrated". I would urge you to beware of the occult, lest things come full circle.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/29/02 00:49:41 GMT

High Pressure NG: Dan, There are several approaches.
  1. The Jeweler could get a larger orifice for his torch. It probably wasn't designed for NG, it was probably designed for propane or some other gas. The propane folks normally provide low pressure regulators on bulk cylinders but they CAN provide high pressure regs (15PSI). OR the jeweler can use a replaceable cylinder and his own regulator.
  2. There are pumps designed to boost the pressure. A big low pressure pipe goes in and a little high pressure line goes out. These are usually only used in big commercial operations. You are the HVAC guy you should have a better source for these than me. But I am sure that this is an expensive solution.
  3. Some commercial installations DO use high pressure. But it just about takes an act of congress. Tell the gas company what you need. They may supply the pump mentioned above. In either (all) case(s), local building codes will apply.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/29/02 00:57:54 GMT

Maybe my coal is not as crappy as I thought, I have never had any problem keeping a fire going. Now I am curious. I'll have to get the stats and compare. All I know is that it comes from Utah and it smokes alot.

Frank, a pagan is someone who doesn't follow one of the three main religions.

   crosspein - Tuesday, 10/29/02 02:04:37 GMT

I was shown that you hold a Hofi style hammer different than a regular hammer. You don`t really grip it and you choke way up on the handle. Also I don`t own one. Anyone care to explain the proper way to hold and work the Hofi hammer?
   - Robert ironworker - Tuesday, 10/29/02 02:17:40 GMT

Crosspein, I looked up "pagan" in my American Heritage Dictionary befor I responded. Meaning #2 is "One who has no religion". Let's not quibble. Who knew what an athame was?

Robert, Uri stands near the end of the pyramidal horn when drawing iron on the face. He holds the square faced hammer so that if the handle is parallel to the anvil, the far portion of the face is canted down somewhat. This means that if you take a usual shake-hands grip, you would then turn your hand on the handle slightly counter-clockwise. Assume he is drawing on the face and the bar is right angles to the face, the way most of us work. When Uri hits, the far edge of the hammer face has a fullering effect.When I've watched him, he starts a few inches behind the end and works toward the end. When he hits hard, there is a bit of extra "friction heat" developed compared with hitting directly with the face. However, the refinement must be done with direct blows and/or flatting. You don't really need to choke up that much, as the haft is quite short compared to your usual American one.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/29/02 02:53:58 GMT

Thanks Frank!

Isn`t the OC Czech 1.76lb, 800g listed at Kayne and Son real close to a Hofi style hammer? Might be a good one try for $30.
   - Robert ironworker - Tuesday, 10/29/02 03:57:59 GMT

This ones for guru, Wonder if you might be able to point me in the right direction. Or perhaps that you might have some info. on an used anvil I just bought at auction. It's called a VULCAN, The name is inside an oval it runs along the inside top. Along the bottom is Reg. ??? PAT OFF. In the center of the oval is an arm with a hammer in position to strike a blow. Along one side of the base is the number 10. on the other side is the number 44. It weighes about 100-125 lbs.
Any info. you may be able to provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
   Mike Valois - Tuesday, 10/29/02 04:31:15 GMT


As Thomas said, it depends on exactly what tradition you follow.

In the traditions I am aware of, the Athame is simply a double edge knife, although sometimes bowie knives are used. Never a kitchen style knife.

Sometimes, but far from always an athame may have alchemical symbols carved into the hilt or etched or engraved into the blade.

Usually, but not always an athame has a black grip. Some traditions call it the "black handled knife."

If you chose to make your own, you have the opportunity to begin your "attunement" with the blade at an earlier stage than if you simply used a nice off the rack knife. As you make your athame, you bear in mind your intention that it is to be used in ritual and make the knife into to the most perfect approximation of your intention. . .

Other than that it is just the same as making any other knife.
   Alfred Carlisle - Tuesday, 10/29/02 04:36:30 GMT

guru thankyou for your help on my previous question. I am very interested in "old world blaksmithing". i recently came across an old forge all the peices are intact severe suface rust but no holes the blower and all is there. i would like to see it used again but. im foried if there wold be any concerns of safty using such old equipment. im sorry i dont know the orign or age of the forge. can it be used, what steps should i take to restore. or should it be left alone. bear in mind that i have no experience using a forge. i only understand the science behind it. thanks.
   jt phillips - Tuesday, 10/29/02 04:47:06 GMT

I was wondering if any one here has ayttempted to make a MIG welder, I need to know if it is possible to manufacture a home made control circut which controls the timing
if anyone has done this please email me !!!!
   - Tim - Tuesday, 10/29/02 07:45:42 GMT


Thanks for the info on cutting with my hole saw. I'll give it a try tonight.
   - Bob G - Tuesday, 10/29/02 14:02:49 GMT

Your vulcan was made sometime after the 1890's IIRC from "Anvils in America". Vulcan made anvils up until the 1960's. They are a cast anvil with a steel face and were very common in schools. They are not considered as good as a Fisher but better than a cast iron anvil. Most of the ones I have used have been a tad soft on the face for my druthers. I bought a 100# Vulcan in excellant shape last month for US$50 and sold it the next day for US$150 here in central OH.

What exactly did you want to know? "Anvils in America" by Richard Postman is *the* source on anvil info if you want to dig into it deeper.

Occult: under my belief system, folks who are into the occult or pagan (*very* different, one is based on the judeo christian, and the other is totally outside of it) are merely deluded and should be gently encouraged to find the truth---this encouragement may be just to show them that a christian can be open minded, friendly and welcoming. I often "eat with sinners and tax collectors" and I work with a substantial number of pagans, mainly Hindu, Taoist, and Sikh. The neo-pagans are generally folk I know socially.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 10/29/02 14:24:24 GMT

Old World Blacksmithing: JT, I could give you a line of BS (stand on the left not the right side of your anvil. . .) but blacksmithing is blacksmithing no matter WHERE in the Universe it is done. There are some minor differences in customs and equipment but in all cases air blows on the coal or charcoal fire heating the metal and it is shaped on an anvil using a hammer. Modern fuels such gas and oil also use a blower (the exception being atmospheric gas burners which create their own "blast" via a venturi).

Old style charcoal forges and some British coal forges are side-blown. Old ones used ceramic nozzels or shield stones and modern British forges use water cooled tuyeres. Bottom blown coal forges are a relatively modern invention (about 150 years old) and apply to the Western way of working standing at benches. Although water cooled side blown tuyeres were experimented with in North America they never became popular and are quite rare.

In the East (which used to be demarked as Asia Eastward starting about Greece) and in Africa the traditional smith sits on the earth or squats while working at a forge pit dug in the ground. This style of working applies to most craftspeople in the same culture and has a lot to do with not using tables or benches as work surfaces. I found myself working this way at a casting demonstration where the casting was being done in a sand pile and the very small furnace was setting on the ground. It is very hard on the knees if you are not used to it. Traditional Japanese smiths work this way but when strikers are needed they stand while the Master smith directs the work from his sitting position.

The invention and use of the vise tends to be part of Western culture as standing at a bench is more adaptable to the vise, particularly the leg or "solid box" vise. This is the only tool you will not find commonly in Eastern traditional shops. In our 2002 ABANA conference NEWS coverage there are some good photos of Japanese smiths using an alternative clamping board. I suspect this device was common world wide until recent times.

Where they were available vises were adopted by many Eastern craftspeople. In an upcoming book review I have a photo of an Eastern locksmith working with all the traditional tools with the exception of a small vise mounted on a short post set into the ground so that he can work at it sitting or squatting on the ground. But this locksmith may be the exception. Locksmiths spend many hours shaping parts with file and a vise is not only convienient but nearly a necessity.

European smiths work the same way as North American smiths the only difference being minor differences in the shape of some tools such as anvils. In America most anvils once came from Britian and later anvils copied the same style. Europe had its own manufacturers of anvils that had slightly different shapes but most modern anvils has evolved to having most of the same features even though the shape may vary (flat face, conical horn, round punching hole, square tooling or "hardie hole"). However, the traditional Eastern smith tends to use a small plain rectangular anvil or a small stake anvil.

East and West: Except in the case of the Japanese smith where there is great impetuous to preserve every detail of tradition I feel that the difference between the Eastern and Western style of working has as much to do with economics as much as tradition. Benches are expensive, heavy and permanent. Working at a hole in the ground is cheap, light and portable. Traveling itinerant or nomadic craftspeople cannot afford the luxury of a work bench or a heavy anvil. Metal vises are also heavy and need a permanent anchor (post or bench). The same goes for blowers. A small blower is an expensive, heavy device requiring modern industry to manufacturer while a small bellows can be very light weight and is manufacturable in the most primitive conditions. The Industrial Revolution in Europe was also part of an economic revolution. Permanent shops that could use heavy equipment became the rule rather than the exception and ways of working changed. OR perhaps the ways of working contributed to the Industrial Revolution. . .

Safety in Blacksmithing: The fire is very hot and the iron burn flesh when it doesn't look hot. . . A solid fuel forge is a primitive device. A modern steel or cast iron coal forge is nothing more than a hole in the ground replicated in metal and raised to bench level. If you do not understand the "science" of the dangers then you have no business using one.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/29/02 16:28:29 GMT

Pagan: You asked how to make a "Ritualistic Athame". From your post I can only assume you have little or no metalworking skills/equipment. Otherwise, you would already know how to make what the folks here would call a "wallhanger". (No real cutting edge, no tempering or hardening). I certainly mean no offense. It's just I will offer a "simple" approach. Get a piece of 1/4" stock (mild steel) of a suitable length and width. (Yellow pages for a steel yard). Scribe a blade on it you find appealing. (Blade, guard, tang), and get busy with a hacksaw. Break out the files and remove enough metal to form the edges. Black leather strips wrapped around the handle. Small files,awls, etc... for the symbols. I wouldn't try acid etching myself. Too much work? Try building a forge, mounting an anvil, learning how to swing a hammer, etc... :] I'm sure you must know a smith or two that would make one for you. But give it a shot. There's nothing like making your own tools. I made a bottle opener (I-Forge)the other day and felt like had just conquered Rome. It ain't pretty, but it works.
   Gronk - Tuesday, 10/29/02 16:57:20 GMT

Gronk, Lets make it even easier, a piece of 1/8" aluminium, hacksaw and file to shape. Takes a nice polish if you want shiny. . . I REALLY need to finish my "Sword Making for Dummies" article. .

MIG Welder: Tim, if it was possible for the manufacturer to make one then it is possible for anyone given enough time and money. . .

These are a complicated device. Where do you want to start? Welder transformers are specialy wound out using special large section rectangular wire. They have movable cores or multiple taps as well as speical high temperature insulation. They also have capacitors to modify the arc or stabilize it.

The control circuitry operates a servo motor at various speeds as well as the contactor and gas solenoid valve. There are also DC power supplies for the controls and the servo. The servo has a special gear box as well as bearing block and drive wheels that are custom parts.

Then there are the specialized assmeblies, the stinger and hose/cable assembly. Where do you want to start? Machining your own tips and reciever body with gas ports? Winding the guide tube? Forming the insulator and nozzel tubes? I have the equipment and know how to do all these things . . . but why? I've built filtered DC power supplies because it was easier than finding one "off the shelf" but that is a rare exception.

Most of the parts of a MIG welder are components purchased from other specialty manufacturers (the servo motor, electronic components) and a few are specials made by the manufacturer (nozzel parts, drive wheels). In any case the quantities purchased reduce the price to where it is profitable for the manufacturer. If you had a bill of materials, knew where to purchase all the parts AND the manufactures were willing to sell you, an individual, single parts. . . then the entire thing would cost you five to ten times more than if you purchased a NEW welder. Years ago a $10,000 automobile was estimated to cost over $250,000 in parts if bought in the aftermarket or individualy. At that time radial tires cost the big manufacturers $6 each when the street price was $50.

MIG welders are not nearly so high a production product as automobiles but you will never be able to beat the manufacturer's game on a complicated product.

So where do you want to start? Are you going to buy special parts from the welder manufacturer (kind of a cheat) or make every part from scratch? It is a great intellectual excersise but it will not save you money. There are times when make-do can pay off but this is NOT one of those times.

If you want to play with MIG welder parts ask around welding and fabrication shops (also welding suppliers). There are thousands of broken down MIG welders lying about waiting to go to the scrap yard. . . If you can repair one then you are on your way. . . It is a far cry from building your own but most are not in use because of failed parts that are no longer available. See if you can figure out what is wrong and make that ONE missing part. . . Often the electronics are buggy. Electronic parts are cheap (usualy a burnt diode or bridge) but the ability to determine the problem is often a very high skill level.

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/29/02 17:39:10 GMT

Greetings. I have a question related to building a driveway gate - 14' wide x 8' in height. It is a double swing gate to be operated by electrical motor for opening. My question revolves around recommended hinging for carrying the weight and maintaining the balance of the gate. What would you recommend?
   Jim - Tuesday, 10/29/02 19:33:50 GMT

I was just wondering if you have ever attemted to make a MIG welder. I.ve been reasearching the idea but got stuck when i came across the control box.
my questions are:

Is it possble to make a home made MIG welder ?
how does one get passed the control box which controls the auto wire feed?
does anyone have any sites or schematics of a MIG welder which i could use

your help will be greatly appreciated
   Tim - Tuesday, 10/29/02 19:37:05 GMT

Another question that I have, is that I am attempting to build a brick forge, but am stuck on whether to design it with traditional firepots with the air and cleanouts coming in from underneath, or, to have the air come in from the side. The design is for two firepots to give a larger heating surface for larger pieces, but, I am concerned about cracking and burnout. Any thoughts or recommendations on this, or alternate plans for a brick forge would be appreciated.
   Jim - Tuesday, 10/29/02 19:41:28 GMT

Large Gates Jim, the most common problem with large gates is the post foundation. Independent masonry posts may end up leaning toward each other. To prevent this the posts wether masonry or steel should be connected together. On large gates this may require a heavy monolithic steel reinforced foundation crossing underground between the posts OR a steel beam embeded in concrete. The last gate of this type that I advised on had a large beam with welded or bolted on verticals. The hinge pintles were attached to the steel posts and then the whole set in concrete. Then the brick columns were built around the steel posts. You also have to recognize that the gates will hang open as often as closed. This can cause the assembly to sag back toward the open position of the gates. On the above gates the foundation continued back underneigth the open position.

In the case of electric gates the mechanism is often underground in the steel beam bridging between the steel posts. The entire assembly should be fitted in the shop before field installation. If masonry pillars are used the details MUST be known and a large tollerance given (+/- 1" is tight on this type thing).

Pintles and hinges are generaly scaled up and simple shear load calculations used based on the LIVE load. On large gates the live load is as many people as can climb on the gates bouncing up and down. . . Dead load is almost not a factor.

Brick forges and their design is a matter of preference. If you have to ask AND you are making something abnormal (you are) then I would build in a steel assembly where I could change and move firepots if the design doesn't work out. A straight masonry forge is VERY permanent and needs to be built from experiance. Unless you like jackhammering out brick to make changes. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/29/02 20:27:09 GMT

Tim, Did you read my reply (two hours before your second post)? No I haven't built a MIG machine, but I have designed and built much more complicated machines with many of the same type components. AND I've done a lot of repairs on my orphaned AirCo welder. I know what I am talking about when I say it is NOT an economical project.

Manuals for welders will have schematics but not details and the controls will be a black box. Besides, the controls are the easy part. They are not automatic, they are manual on/off. Other than the speed control (set manualy and dependent on the motor type) it is just simple relay circuits. My gas forge controls are more complicated.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/29/02 21:24:54 GMT

Mike Valois,
I have an identical anvil to your Vulcan,and also a 200 pounder. You will not get the rebound that you would with a forged steel anvil but they are very good in their own right. My father used one in his orthopedic shop for 48 years, and now my youngest son is using my 100 pounder with good results. It takes a little more effort to usebut in my opinio the flat face and good edges make it worth while to use them.
   Brian C - Tuesday, 10/29/02 23:53:07 GMT

QC, any experience with O-1 heat treating @ "home"? anyone else??? i have been reading (dangerous) and it appears that O-1 should be fairly easy to do in average "smithy"
1)do you know of a pyrometer costing roughly 200-$300? i have read about one with disposible probes, but no other info.
2)have you or anyone used a toaster oven for tempering?? precise control is obviously not possible, but the results may be acceptable. no? yes??
   - rugg - Wednesday, 10/30/02 00:54:03 GMT

I am looking for some plans to construct a work trailer that will carry a diesel welder, torch outfit with cylinders, a gang box for tools and some material storage for industrial steel fabrication. One with a vise and workbench would be nice. Please e-mail with any help or ideas. I have cad experience and would be happy to post plans that I can draw from your information. Thanks.
   Chris P. - Wednesday, 10/30/02 00:59:07 GMT

Does spring steel lose its memory or spring after being heated and worked?

   Mark Stone - Wednesday, 10/30/02 02:49:30 GMT

Hey Thomas and Brian C. A whole lot of thanks for the info on the anvil. I appreciate it very much.
   Mike Valois - Wednesday, 10/30/02 04:08:34 GMT

Chris P. Check out www.princessauto.com They have plans on all different kinds of trailers and I'm sure that you could adapt something to your needs. Also if your in the USA The plans will cost you next to nothing due to the exchange rate on Canadian dollars.
   Mike Valois - Wednesday, 10/30/02 04:14:39 GMT

Spring Steel: Mark, Heat Treating is how all carbon steel spring steels get "springy" temper. Heat can permanently soften (reduce the temper) of a piece of steel (depending on the type).

First, a seeming pardox. ALL steel has the same "springyness" defined as modulus of elasticity. The difference between a soft piece of steel and a hard one is far it will deflect before yeilding or deforming permantly.

SO. . you can make a spring out of "soft" steel as long as it is not deflected too far. But to get better performance or to make a smaller spring you want hardened steel.

To harden, the steel is heated to the transformation point (a little above non-magnetic) and then cooled rapidly (quenched in water or oil). Then it is "full hard". But it is also very brittle at this point. To reduce the brittleness the steel is reheated to some temperature well below the transformation point. This is called "tempering" and it reduces the brittleness a lot and the hardness a little. Hard cuttiing tools (or very thin springs) are tempered to the lowest tempering temperature (around 350 to 400°F) but springs are tempered softer (around 550 to 580°F).

The hardening and temperatures vary a lot depending on the alloy. Plain carbon steels can be easily overheated and the temper reduced too much. Many alloy steels are designed for hot work and air quenching. These are not quenched in water and sometimes the tempering temperature is as hot as a low red. SO. . . before playing amature metalurgist you need to know what kind of steel you have OR do a lot of testing to determine the best heat treatment.

See our Heat Treating, Quenchants and temper color FAQ's for more information.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/30/02 06:03:25 GMT

On a interior hand rail, what is the process for attaching balusters or pickets directly to a wooden tread and how do the pros build this rail then haul it out to job site. I've seen some real pretty railings without the lower horizontal rail and would like to build one.
   Rod - Wednesday, 10/30/02 06:36:03 GMT

Rails on Wood: Rod, the first thing to do is take VERY careful measurements. Often every tread on a stair has a different rise and run. . .

The way a friend of mine attaches pickets to treads is to drill the end of the picket for a large lag screw with the head cut off making a stud out of it. Then the lag screw is cross drilled in assembly to hold it in place.

If adjustment is needed the picket can have the bolt left out so that it can be cut to length with a hack-saw, then the bolt cross drilled and pined on site.

Usualy this type of rail is built in place. The parts are all carefully fitted in the shop, often on a rough mock-up of the stairs or a fixture representing the stairs. Then all the individual pieces are taken to the site and assembled.

There are two ways to go.

1) Screw the pickets into the holes drilled in the wood, then rivet the tops of the pickets in place.

2) Assemble the rail leaving out the bolts but cross drilling the pickets. Then, screw the bolts (studs) into the wood. Set the rail and pickets over the studs and cross drill in place. Pin and rivet the pickets to the studs. This is usualy very shallow heading done in shallow (1/32") countersinks.

I've seen this second method used on a rail that crossed 15' of mezzanine, turned down a stair and then turned again at a landing. The top rail was custom forged under a big power hammer and had a lap joint carefully fitted in it. The lap joint was hot riveted and finished in place. The biggest problem with this job was that there was 1" of concrete sheeting under the oak flooring on the mezzinine. Some kind of fireproofing. . . The original 1/2" studs that were 2.5" long all had to be replaced because they didn't screw into anything solid. . . . Many of the pickets were also rivetted in place (method #1). This house had a polished black marble entryway that all the rails, pickets and tools had to be carried across and worked over. . . a very nervous install. There was a trial fit with all loose pieces which were then taken back to the shop and assembled before the final assembly.

When doing this kind of work you need to be VERY careful to protect the surrounding structure. Grinding swarf will embed into and stain wood (turns black on oak) and will weld to glass ruining it. It will also burn into any plastic siding or window trim. . . Welding sputter is worse and also sticks to glass. Replacing a couple big plate glass windows can completely eat up any profit you MIGHT have made on a job.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/30/02 10:57:07 GMT

Toaster oven: Rugg, a toaster oven may not be as imprecise as you think. My Black and Decker temp knob is off about 10 degrees and the oven temperature also varies only about 10 degrees. F

Jock, do you want to dicuss the relationship of yield strength and hardness when discussing springs?

Dan McConnell, the least expensive way I can think of to boost the NG pressure would be to use a double air cylinder setup where one cylinder is driven by shop compressed air and drives the other cylinder to pump the NG using check valves to complete the pump. Since this is a pulsing pump, a large accumulator would also be needed unless you pump the NG above the 8 psig you want and reduce the pressure through a regulator. Even then, a small accumulator would be required unless you have two NG pumping cylinders out of phase with each other. Avoid a large NG accumulator for safety reasons and have the pump outside any shop or living space. The only common seal material that will not work with NG is EPDM. There WILL be some leakage of NG out the rod seals of the pump cylinder. Having the pump cylinder in an enclosed space would pretty much assure an explosion at some time. Having shop compressed air for the other cylinder to feed the explosion could be very dramatic!

Do NOT have the compressed air on one side of a piston and NG on the other side of the piston.

Limiting the shop air pressure to the work cylinder will limit the outlet pressure of the NG pumping cylinder and allow it to only pump when required.

Both you and the jeweler will want to consult your insurance to see if they allow you to do that kind of work and if the jeweler will still be insured if he has such a "shop built" pump. I doubt that either would be happy with it. The jeweler using a torch designed for the low pressure would be safer. In this area, unless the jeweler is in a commercial area, the gas company will not give high pressure gas.

If you don't understand anything about the above, you should not consider it an option. Obviously, I've left out some valving details.

Ahhhh, liability..... The great squasher of productivity and invention. Aren't we all glad there are so many greedy parasitic lawyers?
   - Tony - Wednesday, 10/30/02 13:27:23 GMT

How do ya'll handle fireplace screen stability? front to back. Feet , angle iron, etc.?
   - dan t - Wednesday, 10/30/02 13:52:49 GMT

steven topher, (if that is your real name). Computers hooked to the internet log everything. You leave tracks everywhere you go including on your school's network and the terminal you used.

YOUR DNS and time = - [10/30/02 16:25:37]

Location = st-209-175-99-12.rtsd.n.cook.k12.il.us

I'm sure you recognize your school's name in Illinois. The series of numbers is the terminal you were using. Many webmaster's such as myself will often track down folks that abuse their forums. School's take abuse of THEIR computers seriously. Take care what you post in the future.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/30/02 16:55:09 GMT

Fire Screen Stability: Dan, I've used pretty scrolled feet extening forward when the screen can rest against the fireplace. I've bulit two that were attached to the fireplace "fender" and were hinged. A little bit of counterweight on the back was all that was needed to hold them closed. AND a three panel screen bent or hinged at the corners is self supporting as long as the sides are hinged back 30 to 90 degrees. I would put stops on the hinges so it couldn't flatten and have no stability. The side pannels could still close inward so the thing could be shipped and stored flat. . .

   - guru - Wednesday, 10/30/02 17:01:50 GMT

"Greg of Mallabula" your pub registration e-mail bounced. Please submit a working e-mail address.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/30/02 17:03:44 GMT

Tony /// Lawyers /// parasites
Indulging in generalities sure beats the real labour of thinking.
That includes tarring a whole group because of the misconduct of a few indivual members.
All you have to do is note one example and then note its category, and then tar the whole group with the same charcteristics or misbehaviour. That method of "thinking" sure is quicker and does not require much mental energy.
I am a patent attorney. I am a member, in good standing, of the Legal Bars of two jurisdictions (New York State, U.S.A. and Ontario, Canada.).
I am not a parasite, and I bathe regularly. (another site referred to all lawyers as "stinkin" and "friggin", without any stated reasons for classifying a whole profession as such). Also I do not fornicate, and have been faithfully married for 29 years. (an oddity among most males these days).
If you had generalised about Jews, or Roman Catholics, handicapped people, or African Americans etc., in the same manner, your note would have been removed from this site.
I work, primarily, for Pharmaceutical Corproations, and I do not have to chase after business. They come to me. Please note that all my work (many hours), for single inventors, save one, has been a money losing exercise. I did it and still do it as a pay back for the good fortune and help that I have received, from others, in my 56 years. Many other lawyers do the same. Most attorneys I know are honest and hard working. Many of them are not wealthy, contrary to widespread public belief.
A minority of State Bars seem to be lax about attorney conduct and that is unfortunate. They help tar the profession at large. (please note that Canadian Provincial Bars are a lot stricter concerning attorney conduct) (a good thing I think)
Also note that litigation results from the failure of good communication between the parties. And litigants are not in a pleasant situation when they require a lawyer's help. Also, trials have an outcome where one party loses. Some of those bad feelings are transferred to the Lawyers that were involved.
If you have been hard done by by a specific attorney, I recommend that you file a complaint with the State Bar or/and the State Attorney General, instead of smearing the whole profession.
The large damage awards are more the fault of inflammed juries, than lawyers. A lawyer, in such a State has to request high damages or he is not doing his/her best for his/her client. Many attorneys are not happy making outrageous monetary claims but they unhappily go along with it. They are compelled to do so. To do less is professional negligence. States can (and some of them have)legislated caps on non-physical damages and "pain & suffering", in order to cut down on "lottery awards". The Canadian Supreme Court did so about 25 years ago.
As for stifling inventions and patents, your government is the bigger culprit. There is a bill about to go to Congress that will raise Patent Office fees hugely. In some cases 10 times. This is the current Republican administration's brain child and contribution to "helping" Ametrican innovation.
That will do more to kill American innovation than any misconduct by a minuscule number of misbehaving patent attorney's.
Even smaller companies, (some of them high technology are screaming). The balance of trade and new industry will reflect this idiotic, short-sighted, and greedy money grab, in about 10 years time. (there is a lag factor in this area). (ask President George W. Bush if he supports inventors and I'm sure he'll say he does and by all the means at his disposal, believe it).
I would appreciate it if you did not defame a whole profession, and by implication me, in the future.
Trust me when I say say that there few sadder spectacles than watching a layman defend himself in a court of law or file a self-written patent applicaion.
   slag - Wednesday, 10/30/02 18:01:15 GMT

Rugg, I have not tried O1 at home but many people have used it with success. It is an oil quenching grade so care must be taken to provide sufficient quench oil to prevent overheating it and starting a fire. I have seen optical pyrometers for $99 but I am not sure how accurate they can be. $100 will buy you about 8-10 Tempil sticks and they are accurate to within 1% of the melting point temperature. I have not used a toaster oven but have used our kitchen oven to temper LOTS of things. If you oil quench, make sure you thoroughly clean them before tempering or the sunday chicken will taste like burnt 30-weight. When tempering in an appliance like a kitchen oven, stay on the LOW side of the tempering range. If the part comes in too hard, raise the temperature 10-20 degrees and retemper it for the same amount of time. Rule of thumb is temper (AT TEMPERATURE...allow for heat up time) for 1 hour per inch of thickness, or fractions thereof.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 10/30/02 18:02:16 GMT

I am trying to find a source for coal in southeast Oklahoma.
close as possible to Durant. Thanks Glen
   Bianchi spurs - Wednesday, 10/30/02 18:46:17 GMT

I have a post drill that I want to put into operation that has a motor drive (v-belt). What size (hp) motor is usually used on these. I assume a 1750 speed motor should be used. Any other advise about using post drill?
   AZDoug - Wednesday, 10/30/02 19:02:58 GMT

Comments on a ThermalArc welder? I belive that it is called
a "Fabricator 250".

Thanks much.
   chris - Wednesday, 10/30/02 19:22:23 GMT


As far as I can tell, patent attorneys are by far the most intelligent, learned and responsible members of the bar. Indeed I'm not sure but what they should be considered a distinct profession.

There are lots of good people who are practicing lawyers out there, however I know of no other secular profession with so many non-practicing members. Most of the non-practicing lawyers of my acquaintance left the bar on account of moral reservations about the legal process.

Legal Ethics are a problem for them: An attorney is required to represent his client's position without regard to the justice or rationality of that position. He or she can refuse the case, but doing so too often will leave a lawyer unemployed or without a client base.

The classic (alleged) example of this was Lincoln arguing opposite sides of two similar cases on the same day in front of the same judge and jury.

BTW on the increase in patent fees: While it will doubtless vary from industry to industry, might not this result in a wholesale increase in technology being kept as trade secrets?

The purpose of patent law was to encourage inventors to REVEAL their inventions in return for a short-term monopoly on them. If patent fees go too high, I suspect some inventors or their employers will simply keep their inventions secret, like Huntsman did for decades with crucible steel.

This I suspect would especially effect improvements in processes, with one company jealously guarding itís secrets from the competition, resulting in the reinvention of the same thing over and over again, no inventor telling any other of his advances wasting vast amounts of time, money and creativity.

   John Lowther - Wednesday, 10/30/02 19:24:41 GMT

Slag, please see my response on the Hammer in as it has no place here. The only thing I will ask here is where did I make a generalization? I simply stated a fact. It appears you have put words in my mouth.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 10/30/02 20:02:18 GMT

HP Doug, It depends on the size of the drill but all that a 21" floor modle needs is 1HP to drill 1-1/4" holes. . . I'd go with a 1/3HP because they are very common. Speed reduction may be a problem. Do some calculations but the max speed for the spindle on that old machine should be around 500 rpm and I would shoot for 300.

I kind of like hand cranking the old drills. Gives you control you don't have with a motor. But if it is your only drill press then they definitely teach you what HP really is . . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/30/02 20:12:20 GMT

Patents /// Trade secret /// Huntsman
Mr. Lowther,
Thank you for the kind complement.
One point is important. Trade secret is one way to protect inventions. But they are very difficult to keep secret. Let me explain.
Once a trade secret becomes known, (by fair means or foul), the protection is gone forever. A good example of this is the Mr. Huntsman that you mentioned. He discovered how to make uniform high quility steel (from blister steel), by the crucible process. He kept it as a trade secret. But that lasted no more than 5 years. The secret process was learned by a clever bit of early industrial espionage. Another manufacturer hired a fellow to show up "drunk" at Huntsman's shop late one cold, rainy evening. The forman let him in and the fellow watched the process for the whole evening.
(the invention was made around 1740 and it was common knowlege by about 1745 or 1746). Not very good protection.
Don't get me wrong. Tade secret can be very valuable if properly protected and the nature of the inventione cannot be reverse engineered. The Coca Cola formula is a good example. The steel wool industry and it's machinery was kept secret for over 125 years. Only one Japanese Company supplies all the asphaerical component lenses that are used for telephoto camera lenses. (they made those lenses much lighter). No other company has figured out how they do it. Borg Warner Corporation used to make all the gearing units for automatic transmissions, for all car amnufacturers for years. And I think they they still do. No other company figured how they accomplished the process.
Sadly, most inventions can readily be reverse engineered, by examining the end product or through mandatory disclosure. For example, getting drug marketing approval from the Food and Drug Admininstration requires full disclosure of all manufacturing details.
There are subtle limits for lawyer conduct. For example an attorney cannot bring forward an alibi, for his client, if he knows it to be false. But he can try to punch holes in the prosecution's case through cross examination. The State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty, and if there case is weak and blown to H**l, than the defense attorney is compelled to do that. If that was not the case than there would be no need for trials. The onus is on the State to prove the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. (it is better for a few guilty people to go free than to convict innocent people via a lax judicial system. The accused has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty through a fair trial.
A client, in a civil matter, has a right to breing his case forward through his lawyer, even if it is not air tight. Civil cases, in most cases involve disputes, with different memories of people and different interpretations of facts. A person, through his attorney, has standing to plead his case. (interpretation of those facts or other facts that he can show werematerial) It is the lawyers job to prepare as good a case, for that client, as he can. The lawyer is an advocate, he does not have to be convinced of the case in order to help that client. Hence Mr. Lincoln's alleged behaviour that you alluded to.A lawyer's personal thoughts on the matter is not relevant. Most cases are not open and shut. Most cases are debatable. The attorney is not under a duty to get to the truth. The judge and/or jury determine that question. The lawyer helps his client plead the best case that he can.
A lawyer is not allowed to file meritless or frivolous cases in many jurisdictions. (but, alas, not in all places). In Canada, such behaviour can get a lawyer severely sanctioned and sometimes disbarred. We also have the law of costs up here, and also in Great Britain, where the losing party may have to pay a substantial portion of the winning side's lawyer fees and the court costs. (it is solely up to the discretion of the judge.). That law stops a lot of frivolous lawsuits before they ever get started.
As for people leaving the legal profession, many lawyer skills are extremely valuable in the business world and many lawyers go there.
The system, admittedly, is not always fair and it takes the people and legislature to try to remedy the situation. (you and I included)..
I believe that a lot more social workers and,lately, nurses have left or are now leaving their profession than arelawyers. Incidentally, many lawyers are leaving because law firms are turning into swaet shops. (albeit well paying ones).
The main point I tried to make bears repeating. No one should judge a group of people by the actions of a few bad apples. And that includes lawyers. Such generalisations are inherently unfair and and stem from the lack of serious thought.
The Ontaio bar regularly throws out misbehaving or incompetant members. They are disbarred.
For example,the medical profession does not even have a term for a removed member. They have admitted, in print, that about 5% of their membership is incompetant. Very rew doctors lose their licences in any jurisdiction that I know of. And the accounting profession hasn't come through with much honour lately. Their professional standards have been found woefully wanting.
That still does not give anyone the leaway to say that all doctors are incompetant nor that all accountants are crooks.
Thank you for your thoughtful note in reply.
Regards to all.
   slag - Wednesday, 10/30/02 20:52:45 GMT

Slag you are very right; however you will admit that the judicial system in the USA can get out of whack sometimes with the ease of filing suits of low merit on speculation. I think that having the loser responsible for the legal bills of the winner like in some other countries would cut down some of the "I've done something stupid and now I want *you* to pay for it" (and while the great majority of such cases are thrown out you still incur a heavy penalty paying to defend yourself from such suits!).

Law is great!---otherwise we would be settling our differences in a more physical fashion---sort of like how countries still do it at times...

Thomas---just bought a screw press!
   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 10/30/02 22:21:43 GMT

I'm just getting started in blacksmithing. I've found some
really good plans for a homemade brakedrum forge and I'm working on building it.
The question I have is about an anvil. I need an anvil but a good one is really expensive for just getting started. I understand that many beginners use a piece of railroad track. Can someone please give me an idea of the dimensions of the track piece you need and also some idea of what to use for or how to build a stand?

I appreciate any info.

   Brian Murphy - Wednesday, 10/30/02 23:12:12 GMT

Brian, if you could get 5 Blacksmiths in the same room, you would get at least 6 opinions on which anvil to start with. I made a small RR track anvil to begin with but, after listening to the voices of experience on this forum, I purchased a 70# farriers anvil. It was a HUGE improvement over the RR track. I then bought a 110# Russian made anvil at Harbor Freight for $80. It was a HUGE improvement over the farriers anvil. Simply stated, you really need a good deal of MASS behind your hammer to really move any metal. Yep, I know, everyone of us wants to get into this as cheaply as possible in case we don't like it, we are not out a bunch of money. I would counsel you to look very seriously at the Russian Anvil. Not great but not bad. If you just have to have a RR track anvil, use the biggest track you can find, eg, 140Lb per yard. You can use a cutting torch to shape the horn and the heal and shape the rest with a grinder. And when it is done, consign yourself to beating on stock that does not exceed 3/8" in diameter. Anything larger will probably take so long to shape that you will give up and buy a bigger anvil anyway. Been there done that, bought the bigger anvil.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/31/02 00:24:55 GMT

guru, Thank you very much for the information on setting the pickets in the treads. If you were doing a 10' straight run rail like that(which I'm am not, just for future reference) how would you figure the job and about how much is usual per foot. Thank you
   Rod - Thursday, 10/31/02 02:36:26 GMT

Hello there ! I have two questions. First: I am going to make a hammer. About 2 pounds in weight. I am going to have a rounding head, but only on one side. On the other I'd like to put a diagonal peen (45 degrees). I've made a 20oz. straight peen a few years ago that turned out very well. But I machine the heads I do not forge them -partialy because of my lack of knowledge of how to and partialy because of my machining background. Anyway, to the questions - is S-7 ok to use? and I'd like a handle about 15 to 16" long and 1 1/2" to 1 3/4" in diameter - can you recommend a good choice (I have a Centuar Forge Catalog - if that helps). Like I said just 3 questions - No. 3 - I am from Eastern Pennsylvania and I am new at blacksmithing. I would like to find a job where I can change careers to blacksmithing and earn while I learn. But I also need to support my family. I guess it's kind of a catch 22. Any suggestions or good advise is greatly appreciated!!! Thanks for your site. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. GOD Bless !!!!!!!
   ray - Thursday, 10/31/02 02:44:11 GMT

By the way now that I have found you guys I'll probably bother you guys with questions but after reading all these post I see I have alot to learn. I started a small fabrication business 3 years ago and done pretty well but I would rather turn down a job than do it wrong, but to grow I cannot keep that up. So all your help is highly appreciated
   Rod - Thursday, 10/31/02 02:49:17 GMT

Just bought a Champion cast iron forge at a estate sale. cast in the bottom of the forge is the caution to (clay forge before firing). How thick should the clay be. This is a mod 242 forge w/blower in great shape.
   Abe - Thursday, 10/31/02 02:55:26 GMT

The following article is cross posted from another forum, with permission from the original poster.

There's an interesting article in the Oct 25 Chronicle of Higher Education called A Killing Fog. It tells how a temperature inversion together with fumes from zinc smelting killed a bunch of people back in 1948, apparently mostly from the fluorine given off by using fluorite in the zinc refining process. Since fluorite has been recommended as a flux additive for forge welding stainless alloys, I thought some of you may be interested to know that the health effects don't apparently damage the lungs directly but rather travel through the bloodstream and damage the heart and other organs instead. Workers only worked 3 hours per day in the zinc plant, apparently because of the tremendous health hazards it presented. Remember that next time you're working with galvanized steel. The article isn't available on the web without a password but all college libraries probably would have a subscription. Keep safe!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 10/31/02 03:11:00 GMT

RR-Track Anvil The biggest problem with rail is everyone does it WRONG. Rail is springy bouncy stuff. In anvils the part that does the work is the mass UNDER the hammer not to the right and the left. The couple inches of the heaviest rail under a hammer weighs only a couple times the weight of the hammer instead of the 50:1 needed. BUT if you turn the rail on END you can put 100 pounds of rail under the hammer. . . It is a small target. You can make it a little larger by welding to it but it will NOT bounce like laying horizontal.

On the iForge page we have an article on using RR-Rail for tools including a short anvil made of rail. But it would be better if the rail went to the floor or near to it. We also have a article on anvil stands. More information than you will need. . . between the two I'm sure you could figure out something.

If you find a source of rail don't grab the first piece you see. The stuff comes in a great range of weights and you want the heaviest you can find.

IF you read our gettiing started article you would be looking for other local blacksmiths or arranging to go to the nearest meeting. There is almost always someones there selling used anvils for fair prices. I've published photos of thousands of anvils in our NEWS coverage of various meets over the past few years. Don't tell me you can't find one. But expect to pay at LEAST $2/pound.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/31/02 05:21:29 GMT


a followup to paw paw's safety posting.

a history of the deadly fog.
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 10/31/02 07:17:41 GMT

how do you weld cast iron onto mild steel??
   - paul - Thursday, 10/31/02 08:18:42 GMT

Paul, I've had success using stainless electrode and stainless mig wire in welding mild steel and stainless to cast iron. Best regards, 3dogs
   Paul "3dogs" Wilson - Thursday, 10/31/02 09:08:13 GMT

Iím an electrical engineer and a veterinarian. My experience with metals is limited to a few engineering courses, talks with farriers and dodging any heavy metal objects my wife may throw... and Iíve ďshot the anvilĒ a few times if that counts. I found Anvilfire while looking
for info on case hardening. I donít have a question, but your site was very helpful and I thought Iíd tell you of my recent experience.
It was a cold and stormy night (nice start, eh?). A drive shaft in my air ratchet had broken and I doubted that SnapOn had a replacement. Solution... make one. The original shaft was hardened tool steel, but the only material I had on hand and could easily work was low carbon steel rod. Once I shaped, threaded and finished the
part it was time for hardening. Duhhh, major mistake... low carbon steel. It wasnít going to harden. Possible solution... carburization and case hardening.
I split a 2" x 6" steel pipe length wise and wired it back together. I plugged one end with clay, packed it with powdered charcoal, the home made shaft, a test piece, and a little paper, then sealed the other end and seams with clay. It was time for a nice fire and a movie.
I kept the fireplace pretty hot and the pipe glowed a dull to cherry red. After 5 hours, at about 2 AM, the real fun started. Using fireplace tongs, I dropped the glowing pipe into a tin can to carry it outside. Oops #1, I forgot to take the paper label off the can. Hmmm, that made a nice little fire in the middle of the floor. Oh well, itís a stone floor. Oops #2, I forgot how sensitive the smoke detector is. Dang thatís loud. Luckily, my wife was sleeping (until then) or she may have thrown something heavy and distracted me. I set the can back in the fireplace and the last of the smoke went up the chimney.
Once the label burned off, I carried the can to the garage wearing a pair of ďalmostĒ heavy enough welding gloves. Since I had waited, the red hot pipe had time to heat the whole can. About half way across the living room, it got real hot. About half way across the kitchen it got ďtooĒ hot. By the time I made the garage door, it was in the air. I didnít exactly see where it went. I was more interested in getting the gloves off. They retain an amazing amount of heat.
Dang that hurt. Now, whatís that smell of burning plastic... and why is there a big hole in the trash can lid? I think I found the pipe. Dump the trash on the garage floor, stomp the fire, curse the noise from the second smoke alarm and Iím ready to get back to work.
I cut the wire and busted the clay holding the pipe together. Amazingly, the shaft and test piece were still glowing bright red. I quickly dumped them into a can of oil. Another little fire and the smell of burnt oil filled the garage. Standing in a pile of smoldering garbage, listening to two smoke alarms and surrounded by foul blue smoke, I was finally done... just in time to dodge something heavy as it whizzed by. Luckily her aim is bad when sheís sleepy.
A center punch showed that the surface of the test piece was hardened compared to the original low carbon rod. Not as hard as the original shaft, but still dang hard. I ground the surface at a slight angle and ďpunch testedĒ along the grind at different depths. The really hard stuff appeared to be about 0.025 to 0.05" thick, but it was a pretty subjective test.
Surprisingly, there was no appreciable shrinkage or distortion of the home made shaft. So far itís working, but honestly, I expect it to break at anytime. I donít believe the hardening was deep enough for this use. In hind sight, I should have used an annealed piece of high
carbon steel then hardened and tempered it... or bought a new ratchet.
On the bright side, itís currently working and the repair only cost two lumps of charcoal, a trash can lid, a small blister and an evening by the fire. I didnít even have to use the fire extinguisher. Come to think of it, that may have been what whizzed by. I guess she was
trying to be helpful after all.
Bottom line for other neophytes: carburization and case hardening isnít difficult. If you need a hardened and rather attractive surface, give it a try, just donít expect it to be very deep. Oh, and keep a fire extinguisher on hand.

Thanks for posting all the info.
   Barry Anderson - Thursday, 10/31/02 13:09:33 GMT

Railroad Track Anvils are GREAT for:

Jewelry; small copper work; 1/4" and wire gage stock; pen knife, small carving and letter opener blades; making into special tools and swages; something light drag down to the barn to buck some work when you jackknife the boat trailer; any relatively small, light delicate work. If you do a lot of that sort of thing they're just fine, and may well be worth the effort to torch/grind/forge.

It's a matter of proportionality. They're handy, and very nice and comparatively inexpensive (not counting the labor) for their size when compared to smaller regular anvils, but they are not meant for for general blacksmith's work.

Small anvil = small work. Bigger anvil = small and bigger work. Biggest anvil = railroad/shipyard work, or biggg ego that takes delight in the envy of ones peers. ;-)

Cloudy, rainy and cold on the banks of the Potomac. Hope the weather clears for Halloween tonight, our church's 360th anniversary tomorrow, and the longship voyage on Saturday. Maybe I'll get back to forging on Sunday!

Vist your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/31/02 14:29:36 GMT


Great post. Both instructional (on several levels) and entertaining. (It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud in the cubicle farm.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/31/02 14:32:19 GMT

Guru, I use a gas forge and have had to put new valves on my gas bottles. I now have problems with pressure or freeze ups. Is anyone else having these problems and what can I do? William
   triw - Thursday, 10/31/02 15:59:09 GMT

Triw, We have had several reports. I guess I need to make some phone calls to find out if the new valves reduce the draw capacity. . .

Several weeks ago I posted a long message on the subject. Did you replace the valves yourself? If so, did you presurize and purge with propane FIVE times or use a vacumm purge to remove moisture laden air???? That could be the problem. DIY has some disadvantages.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/31/02 16:14:21 GMT

Guru, I did not replace my self I took my old tanks to walmart and exchanged them. This was the least expencive way at the time. The regulator is new when I built the forge (about 6 months age). Yesterday I was working at the forge and turned it off for a bout 15 min. then I could not relight it. It appeared to have no pressure. William
   triw - Thursday, 10/31/02 17:03:34 GMT

Propane Cylinder Problems: Triw, I just takled to my propane guy and he said they are having all kinds of problems in general with the NEW valves. He says that it is a common problem to not be able to get fuel out and sometimes they can't get it IN! The problem efects all size cylinders with the new valves. His suggestion is to return the cylinder as it is probably defective.

Now. . the problem is that many folks buy cylinders one place and have them filled at another. In this case the merchant that sold the cylinder is not going to want to be responsible for the fuel. . .

My advice to EVERYONE that has not switched to the new valves (I haven't yet) is to be sure to deal with someone you can trust and that also provides the fuel. I would also ask about warantee on the cylinder and who is responsible for the contents.

I have some other calls out to see what other dealers have to say.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/31/02 18:15:32 GMT

Propane Cylinders: The new valves will shut off if they "think" the fuel is escaping too rapidly. I find opening the valve slowly avoids this. If it does shut off and closing the valve and reopining slowly doesnt work then a sharp tap on the side together with some sharp cuss words usually does it.
   adam - Thursday, 10/31/02 18:31:40 GMT


i figure i jump in on the discussion concerning propane cylinder
problems with the new style value.

we run the entire house on propane. refrigerator, freezer,
lights, forge, generator, air compressor, etc all run off propane.

i fill my own cylinders off either the 500 or 1000 gallon bulk
tank. i have had little problem with the new style values.
i normally fill 100lb, 60lb, 40lb, and 20lb cylinders.

this may be do to the fact that i have 20psig propane piped into
the shop and run the forge, oxy-propane cutting/welding torch,
generator, and air compressor off the 500 gallon bulk tank.

i do run the small crucible furnances off manifolded 40lb and 100lb
cylinders. the 100lb cylinders do not have the new style value.

terry l. ridder
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 10/31/02 18:36:33 GMT

I suspect the problem may be who/where the specific valves were made. When folks purchase these things by the tens of thousands the low bidder looks pretty good. . . until things start going wrong.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/31/02 19:21:16 GMT

Does anybody know the orifice size or BTU output at a specific pressure for the NCTool forges? Or how to estimate BTU requirements for a forge not yet built? I realize that there are a huge number of variables here (insulation type and thickness, inner volume, outer surface area, opening size, shape location etc) but I need a starting point to design for which will then get modified to correct for misguestimation.
   Jovan - Thursday, 10/31/02 19:44:19 GMT

I recently aquired a winter project power hammer. it's a 'perfect' brand 80# model. it seems to differ from a little giant in that the hammer is 16" x4"x4", and it rides inside to big cast iron 'L' shaped guides, that when bolted together, make a contained box..
The bottom anvil block is quite experienced (missing chunks from the dovetail). I called the factory rep for UTP welding rod, and got his best combination of transition, and buildup rods, for restoring greasy cast iron.
what's puzzling me is that the dovetail slot isn't a dovetail, but a 90 degree square slot. both ends of the slot measure 4.140" inside, isn't there supossed to be a taper? the flat bottom die that came with the unit has dovetails that are machined at 7 degrees off square.
since i am gonna be doing an involved buildup process, should i plan on building up enough mat'l to scrape out new dovetails, or leave it square, and make my die wedges tapered/square on opposing faces to make full contact?
thanks in advance for any input, mike
   mike-hr - Thursday, 10/31/02 19:46:42 GMT

I'm on my second 20-lb tank with the new style valves, running a single Reil EZ-burner. Normally run 5-6 psi with no trouble. Haven't tried going above 7-8, and that only for a minute or two. These cylinders were obtained at my local Home Depot by exchanging cylinders with the old-style valves. Just figured I'd add another data point...

   SteveA - Thursday, 10/31/02 21:02:02 GMT

Propane Cylinders: The second guy I talked to said they have not had any problems but being a commercial propane dealer he may have a better quality tank/valve. However, he DID say that the new valves are a considerable restriction and that may be the trouble. He sugested a 100 pound bottle. . .

Cylinders bigger than 40 pounds don't have the new valve.

Neither source had specs on the maximum draw through the new valves.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/31/02 21:17:10 GMT

Dovetails: Mike, straight slots are not too unusual. Several hammer makers use double wedges and they work in straight and angle sided slots. The slot is straight and the dies are straight and the wedges are a matching pair. This makes it easy to make a perfect fitting set of wedges by grinding or machining them as a pair on top of each other. I have made the offset dies by using the wedges to hold the dies in the shaper vise.

NOTE: Wedges ARE NOT machined to anglular dimensions. They are made in unit per unit length. In American machinery that is inches per foot. Normaly fractions are used. 3/8, 1/4, 3/16 and 3/32" per foot are all common tapers.

When setting up sine bar to cut and measure tapers simple ratios are used to determine the amount rise in 5 or 10". If I were doing a lot of tapers I would make a 12" sine bar and use gage blocks that were the exact taper.

   - guru - Thursday, 10/31/02 21:27:50 GMT

Smiley Pumpkin Face  Mean Pumpkin face  Amazed Pumpkin face  Smiley Pumpkin Face  Mean Pumpkin face  Amazed Pumpkin face  Smiley Pumpkin Face  Mean Pumpkin face  Amazed Pumpkin face  Smiley Pumpkin Face
Trick or Treat!
Smiley Pumpkin Face  Mean Pumpkin face  Amazed Pumpkin face  Smiley Pumpkin Face  Mean Pumpkin face  Amazed Pumpkin face  Smiley Pumpkin Face  Mean Pumpkin face  Amazed Pumpkin face  Smiley Pumpkin Face

Ya'll be careful tonight. Halloween is now the most deadly holiday to driving in the U.S. Drunk driving is the biggest part of the problem. If you don't drink and drive watch out for the idiots that do. Be careful out there tonight!
   - guru - Thursday, 10/31/02 22:54:23 GMT

November 1, 2002
2,000,000 Visits to anvilfire!

At 7:20PM GMT today we had our two millionth access of anvilfire.com!
In October we had 139,244 visits in 31 days. That is 4,492 visits per day or 187 per hour (3.12 per minute)!
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 19:28:32 GMT

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