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 9 - 17, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

I'm sorry to dis-appoint you guys, but the winning ticket hasn't been sold yet. (grin)

Guys, I'm havin trouble with me email on the road, if we don't get it straightened out, I'll get caught up when we get home.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 10/09/03 07:35:14 EDT

Thanks for reserving it for me Paw Paw. now to get my money in the mail before the cut-off! (sold the last two WWII boilermaker's hammers so can afford a ticket now)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/09/03 11:09:59 EDT

I'm in the process of restoring/remounting a 150# Bradley upright helve hammer. I am aware of the usual formulas for computing drive belt lengths, but how much belt do I need to add for this slack belt driven hammer? Thanks.
   Bill Nevill - Thursday, 10/09/03 11:47:33 EDT

I recently bought a Champion Forge which has the #50 inscribed on it. This belonged to the great-grandfather of the person I purchased it from. Can you tell me the year it was made, and its possible worth? I may be in the "grizzled old dog" category, but had to have this tool! Thanks Larry Flynn from MA
   Larry Flynn - Thursday, 10/09/03 12:36:52 EDT

I'm thinking of taking some store bought lag hooks and forging them out to match a pot rack I've made.Do they need to be heat treated in any way or just forge and let cool.I'm concerned about strength.
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 10/09/03 12:38:29 EDT

Unless you have pots that are a couple of 100lbs on the rack I would not worry about it.
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/09/03 13:49:18 EDT


If you're going to be forging on store-bought hardware, be sure it isn't plated. Most of the stuff they swell these days is either zinc or cadmium plated, and burning it off in a forge is ill-advised. The zinc can give you metal-fume fever and the cadmium can just kill you outright. Both are cumulative poisons, meaning that they stay in your system. Repeated exposures add to the level, ultimately reaching a toxic level even though each individual exposure may have been far below toxic.

Unless you need the lag screw threads for pullout resistance on vertical loading, I would recommend that you just use bar stock and make drive hooks that you can pound in. If you need the screw threads, find black iron lags to forge, and pass on the plated stuff.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/09/03 16:06:15 EDT

Chris, Mild steel is pretty strong. How's the hammer doing?

I'm out the door heading for Guthrie, Oklahoma, to demo for the Saltfork Craftsmen. Back on the 14th.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/09/03 16:11:10 EDT

Paw Paw, thx for sending me the winning ticket on the Peddinghaus, it will go great with my new propane forge.....it is soooooo nice to be able to just light the forge, stack your steel, and go to work. Haven't done a weld in it yet but maker says it welds fine with 20 mule team....it sure heats a lot of steel in a hurry!
Worked a couple of hours with a master smith yesterday, learned how little I know...enrolled in a 3 day class the first part of December.
   Ellen - Thursday, 10/09/03 16:29:16 EDT

Great hammer steel is like butter under it.
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 10/09/03 16:56:48 EDT

Thanks Jock, Adam and Jeff for the advice on cutting torch technique. I just wasted 2 and 1/2 days building a circle cutter that is only as good as the sum of its particulars. If the torch is not set right it does no good.
I thought obout the magnet base at the center of the circle but thought the heat would destroy the magnet. Oh well, so I can't justify every moment I spent in the shop with a success. I do want to look at the "Bug-O". Do they have a site.
Thanks again for the help.
   - L sundstrom - Thursday, 10/09/03 18:54:00 EDT

L sundstrom
I think that a ceramic magnet may stand up to heat pretty well. Most of the welding angle guides use a ceramic type magnet, and they don't seem to be affected.
Good luck
   jeff reinhardt - Thursday, 10/09/03 18:58:58 EDT

L sundstrom,
Try www.weld.com
   jeff reinhardt - Thursday, 10/09/03 19:16:06 EDT

Thanks again Jeff,
I have some really neat pace maker magnets. They seem to be plastic coated but maybe they are ceramic underneath. They are donut shaped, and about 2.5 in in diameter.

Unrelated Question: How much does a 90 lb. anvil weigh that's welded to a two hundred pound block of mild steel?

   - L sundstrom - Thursday, 10/09/03 19:24:08 EDT

And some of us a really looking forward to you being here as well, Frank.

Don't know about heat resistance but the rare earth magnets are stout. I think they might make a good holder.
   Mills - Thursday, 10/09/03 19:28:16 EDT

L Sundstrom, what is the minimum radius of your circle cutter? Takes a LOT of heat to kill most magnets, at least the heat of a stove on "High", and for a decent ceramic magnet it takes a good bit more.

Sunny and hot in Honolulu, Hawaii. Where did the rain go?
   T. Gold - Thursday, 10/09/03 19:35:44 EDT

For a beginner with just enough knowledge/tooling to be dangerouse, what's the general thought on blown vrs atmospheric gassers? And since that's not gonna get enough opinions flying, what's the best caliber in a hunting rifle? LOL
   - Aksmith - Thursday, 10/09/03 20:19:08 EDT

I just returned from the Museum of Appalachia and a day spend with the Guru and PawPaw. What a treat! They spent a bunch of time explaining a bunch of stuff to me. I only wish I had videotaped it. The witness the back-and-forth jawing between these two is like watching Abbot and Costello do steel. Funny stuff. Jock and Jim are great human beings that make me proud of this group. I hope you all get shot at spending some time with them.
Finally, I came away with a deeper appreciation of Jock's commitment to Anvilfire. If you are not a subscriber to CSI, you ought to do so TONIGHT. That is a way to help Jock do this amazing job he is doing. Please consider joining CSI to support the work of Anvilfire. If you are using this site and not supporting it, it's time to step up and give the support to keep it going.
Thanks Jock and PawPaw for the help and encouragement. It will not be my last time at Appalachia!
David Galloway
   PapaDoc - Thursday, 10/09/03 21:03:30 EDT

For blowing forges, anvils and rifles, the only universal is black powder. (grin)
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/09/03 21:04:21 EDT

Some realy strong rare earth donut magnets can be found in the magnatron of cast off microwaves.
   habu - Thursday, 10/09/03 21:11:00 EDT

Aksmith, you already know my opinion on blown vs atmo... but for the hunting rifle caliber, I would nominate .30'06. (grin)

Rainy again in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   - T Gold - Friday, 10/10/03 01:10:57 EDT

L sundstrom: A 90 lb anvil weighs 90 lb, regardless of what it's welded to.
   3dogs - Friday, 10/10/03 01:51:29 EDT

my costomer is looking for hardest metal and heavy but no too heavy about the same as steel
   jimmy - Friday, 10/10/03 03:28:26 EDT

what should i use?
   jimmy - Friday, 10/10/03 03:29:00 EDT

Magnets My Bug-O has laminated steel alloy magnets supprounded by fiberglass insulation. Kaowool would work too. Generally if the cut is a few inches from the magnet the heat in the plate should not hurt.

The torch adjustment is not nearly as critical as the rate of travel The Bug-O has two gears for different ranges of circle and a variable speed control as do most motorized cutters.

A much better cutter to build is a panographic or tracer type. These use a template on which a magnetic wheel travels. Due to the constant wheel diameter and its center being the same position as the torch the only speed adjustment needed is for plate thickness. Many of these have no speed adjustment and you just adjust the torch. There are plans available (on the web I think) as well as sources for parts.
   - guru - Friday, 10/10/03 06:56:47 EDT

Jimmy, Steel is generaly the hardest and strongest all around metal there is. There is nothing else "like steel" you either want steel or you don't.

David, Thank you.
   - guru - Friday, 10/10/03 07:30:38 EDT

Hammer Dies: Andrew, if the lower die on your hammer is swayed from being soft then you probably need a new die or to stop forging cold steel. However, dies generaly wear from scale rather than sway.

Small hammers were made for all sorts of specialized purposes. Little riviting hammers with heads less than a half a pound were made that looked like little Bradley helve hammers. Peddingell made deep throat little 5, 10 and 15 pound hammers for aircraft and automotive sheet metal work. There were also specialized little cutlery hammers for tableware.
   - guru - Friday, 10/10/03 07:43:43 EDT

i just got my first forge from a sale and have the coal for it . how do i start it and shut it down.
   gene collings - Friday, 10/10/03 08:46:32 EDT

I'm a garden designer in Wash DC looking for a metalworker to construct lightweight, perhaps galvanized, maybe paintable, maybe with some repousee or other decoration, planter boxes that could subsequently be lined with some sort of plastic. Know anyone in my neighborhood who could produce such from a drawing? Thanks, Virginia
   Virginia Liberatore - Friday, 10/10/03 09:17:08 EDT

Jimmy, well there is tungsten, it can be quite hard, but it is heavier than steel. It will also break if you drop it!

In metals "hardness" is generally coupled with "Brittleness"---do you need "hardness" or "Toughness"?
(think of a diamond *very* hard, yet they take a steel wedge and cleave large diamonds into pieces with it)

What do you want this item to do? support a bearing? Not bend (deform) when you put a load on it? Make an anvil face out of it? Make a sword? A lathe bit? Armouring Stake? Hammer? The Frying Pan of Doom?

Unless you can give us all the requirements we can spend a week suggesting stuff that just won't work (and may actually kill someone in use) cause what you asked for is not what you need.

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/10/03 09:29:09 EDT

Starting a Fire

Build a small fire from finger size or smaller sticks or kindeling. (ref: boy scout handbook) Once you have a good fire add coal a little at a time. After some practice you can use a smaller wood fire and do the same thing.

Many smiths make a ball of several sheets of newspaper, light it and put it in the forge. Then add coal. Always try to save some coke from the pervious fire to use to start the next fire.

Avoid any use of accellerants, pertoleum products, etc.

When you finish, I would suggest that you simply remove the fire from the firepot with a shovel and place the fire into a 5 gallon metal bucket of water. You can sleep very well at night knowing that there is 2 or more inches of water over what used to be a hot ember.

During the fall it is a good idea to wet down the ground area surrounding the forge with a water hose to avoid any grass or leaf fires. Keep the water hose handy till you get the familiar with building and maintaining fires.
   - Conner - Friday, 10/10/03 09:30:17 EDT

I want to make some tools for a large electric demolition hammer. It uses 1" hex shank tools with a small depression on one facet that holds the tool loosely in the hammer.
I mainly need to make a tool to pound fence T posts into the ground but would also like to make some additional rock chisels, points, maybe a ground rod driver.
Would S7 be the best choice of tool steel for this application ?
thank you

   Chris S - Friday, 10/10/03 10:18:22 EDT

Can I use an old set of acetylene regulators to control my propane flow without modification to the regulators?
   - Aksmith - Friday, 10/10/03 10:40:52 EDT

Thank you for your unending dedication to helping folks like me. You and PPW are pedagogical role models. If I can father my one coming child half as well as you guys do the thousands, I will be a success.
   - andrew - Friday, 10/10/03 11:40:17 EDT

Aksmith; call your welding supply dealer to be on the safe side. Also, Make sure your hoses are propane compatible.
   3dogs - Friday, 10/10/03 12:24:32 EDT

I saw Jock and Paw-Paw yesterday myself, and second Papa-Doc's opinion. The museum is always worth the trip anyway, but being able to sit down and talk shop with those two makes a VERY worthwhile afternoon!

Gene Collins: An important note for your forge: do NOT put your fire out by pouring water on it while it's in the forge. Your firepot will crack or even blow apart. I have found that if there's room in the forge to do it, simply raking the fire out atop the rest of the coal and letting it burn out on its own is sufficient if you have it where there's no danger of a stray gust of wind keeping it lit and/or blowing a hot chunk out on the ground. Another alternative is to simply place a piece of 1/4" or heavier plate over the forge. With no air blast or natural draft, there can be no fire.
   Alan-L - Friday, 10/10/03 12:58:16 EDT

Iwasable to buy a new propane regulator from one of the vendors on this site, a year or so ago. Had to pay about $30.00, but got a NEW, regulator, with a gage, and it was equipped with the correct diaphragm material. It was orificed for propane and sized to run a forge. Just ask for a propane regulator for a N.C. forge.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Friday, 10/10/03 13:13:01 EDT

The only regulator I've ever used for propane is an acet regulator... but we *do* use propane hoses with it and I wouldn't even consider using acet hoses with it. I daresay that Acetylene is the more corrosive and dangerous gas, and from my understanding of regulator technology, a regulator that works for acetylene is most always safe for propane. This has been my experience, also.

Jeff, was the NC Tool regulator fully adjustable? Sounds like a good deal if it has a good pressure range... I'd like to hear about that.

Sunny and hot in Honolulu, Hawaii. Rain can't decide if it's comin' or goin'.
   T. Gold - Friday, 10/10/03 17:14:42 EDT

The regulator is adjustable, came with a gage and has a range of 0 to 30 PSI(0 to 2bar)and is 1/4" pipe ported. I think I got it from Centaur Forge. Might have been for a Mankel on second thought. Works perfect.
   jeff reinhardt - Friday, 10/10/03 18:20:54 EDT

Another possibility might be the harbor frieght propane burners for weeds. The bigger ones have regulators, But I do not know the range. The one I bought will feed 12psi through a 1/16" ofifice. I normally run my forge at 6-9 PSI, and have NO freezing problems at the regulator. I am able to check on the 100# bottle level from the frost line.
cool and cloudy, some scattered rain in S. Ind.
   jeff reinhardt - Friday, 10/10/03 19:01:44 EDT

It's a bit difficult sometimes to know how to respond to comments like those made by Papa Doc, Andrew and Alan L. I guess the only really appropriate answer Is a heartfelt:

"Thank You!"
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/10/03 19:15:44 EDT

I'm not new to smithing but I am new to gas forges,and I'm having trouble getting my burner to work properly. I built a burner based on Ron Reil's plans, but no matter what I do I can't get that nice blue flame I see in the photos on other websites. Mine belches big orange flames out both ends of my forge no matter what I do with the feed pressure or the choke. Does this mean it's not getting enough air to burn all the fuel? I would sure appreciate any help I can get
   Brent g - Friday, 10/10/03 19:34:27 EDT

Alan L. - Putting out fires

I agree that you should NOT put water into the fire pot. That is why I said remove the fire with a shovel and put it in water.

Raking the fire out onto a table is fine but NEVER leave it unattended. On the table it can take hours to complete go out. Sometimes the draft from the chimney is sufficent to keep it going as long as there is fuel present.

You said: "Placing a piece of heavy plate over the forge, with no air blast or natural draft, there can be no fire."
Many smiths put a short piece of 2x4 in the firepot and cover it with a steel plate to HOLD the fire during lunch or longer. Remove the plate, a puff of air, and your ready to forge.

Why is it that when you cover a coal fire in a fire place with ashes at night, it is most always ready to go the next morning? I have many times been able to build a fire from the hot coals the second day and on occations, 3 days later. This is both in a open faced fireplace and in a doors closed foreplace. If in doubt, ask your grandparents about banking a fire.

One more example: There have been fires in the Appalachian coal mines that keep burning in spite of the fact that they cut off the air supply and they tried to flood the mine with water. Some mines have been burning for decades and have resisted all attempts to put them out.

The best place for hot embers is still under 2" of water. I sleep well at night.

Don't forget to check the ash dump for hot coals or embers.
   - Conner - Friday, 10/10/03 21:31:15 EDT

Acetylene Regulators are commonly used with propane but may not necessarily be rated for it. There are some elastomers (rubber like compounds) that break down and age rapidly when exposed to propane and butane. Hose is the same way. The fuel hose rated for propane is listed for "all" fuel gasses. The cheaper acetylene rated hoses are not rated for propane. They will work but the hose life will be months instead of years.

Since propane is commonly used at higher pressures than acetylene's 15 PSI limit it is best (but not absolutely necessary) to purchase a regulator for its use.
   - guru - Friday, 10/10/03 21:35:40 EDT

Gas Forge Problems: Brent, With user built forges I have found that 99% that fail are due to failure to follow directions followed by poor quality of construction. The first concern is balance between burner size and burner, then vent size. There is also the accuracy of the burner orifice and the cleanliness of its construction. Raw bured edges inside the burner orifice. Please read all of the Ron Reil page closely. Also note that it contains some old designs that are difficult to build well and newer designs that are near fool proof.

Generaly waffling orange flames are due to too rich a flame. This is due to not enough air being sucked along with the fuel. A poorly drilled orifice in too thin of material resulting in a low velocity or unfocused jet can result in insufficiant air. An orifice not aimed directly down the center of the burner will not work correctly. A reducer with a hemispherical shape rather than a funnel shape is much less efficient and more sensitive to orifice problems.

Pressure can also be a major issue. Many small guages are very inaccurate. Readings of 5 PSI can be 20 PSI or the reverse. Using an old or unqualified guage can be of no use at all.

Details, details, details. . .
   - guru - Friday, 10/10/03 22:18:50 EDT

I read David Galloway's admonition to join CSI. I guess that's supporting this site? I'm probably too impatient, but I searched the FAQ and didn't see info on joining.
I'd have to save up the $, a few here and there, as I did for the other site I frequent for letterheads (sign people, my trade).
BTW, I just noticed that someone made mention on or near the 4th of this month the use of a crosscut saw. It can be done, but a knowledgeable sharpening is in order. In fact the jointers and other sharpening tools I've made with a welder and scrap metal work better than the "store bought" (antique) ones I have. The tools and process aren't terribly complex, but probably too much to put in writing. If someone's interested, I guess I could do a homemade video, e-mail me.
You MUST have a sharp saw, if a chainsaw is a little dull, let the motor work a little harder, but with a crosscut saw YOU ARE THE MOTOR.
Our heat is from firewood, and we get all our firewood with a crosscut saw. It gaurantees a certain amount of excersize for the sign painter.
   James Donahue - Friday, 10/10/03 23:36:01 EDT


Go all the way to the bottem of this page and click on CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group(please don't kick yourself, that would just look funny,(grin)). All kidding aside the membership cost only $1 a week, that is $52 a year. It is something that I waited TOO LONG to do and felt much better after I did.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Saturday, 10/11/03 01:43:29 EDT

I strongly echo the Guru's thoughts on gages. I used to test new gages out of the box for incoming quality check, and on the little 2 1/2" gages, often rejected as 50% were too far out of spec. When dealing with a pressure gage, a little understanding of the works inside the gage will help to give you a strong mistrust of any pressure gage. Open one up and look inside at the tiny brass gears and linkages that are used to convert the Bourdon tubes very slight movement to a rotary movement. If a pressure gage gives you a pressure that appears to be wrong, question the gage as well as the equipement. A cheap gage like those used on gages and regulators can be had for a dollor or less in large quantity, while a test gage, with high accuracy and reliability is several hundred dollars. In the lab, we normally calibrated/tested a gage prior to every use.
Elastomers9Seal materials) are often very senstive to the materials they are exposed to, with a seal either hardened or softened. When I worked for a pnuematics and hydraulics manufacturer, we received back many many items with ruined seals due to exposure to the wrong lube oils etc. Aregulator uses diaphragms against a spring and seals on pilot ofifices to maintain the pressure set by the knob. Often, a pnuematic pressure reducing valve(regulator) will have a vent orifice in the bonnet, and will leak from the vent if the diaphragm fails. Motto, a decent propane regulator is GOOD value, and may prevent burning down the shop.
   Jeff Reinhardt - Saturday, 10/11/03 08:42:27 EDT

Back from the fleamarket, got their too late for the $1 set of commercial tongs in great shape, pout; but did by a propane deep fryer for $3---they "drug" the hose with the propane fitting just touching the ground on the way over; time to go to the junk box and put a new one on. I have hopes for the regulator as it shows no sign of damage. If it's history, well I got a stack of $2 & $3 regulators from buying other stuff there. $30 is *money* to some folks; build up your scrap pile when you are doing well so you can coast when you're not doing so well.

Did talk to a couple of fellows bout anvils, one has an about 180# one that he reckons to sell for $150. I left my card and told him I'd like to come see it. The other fellow's Uncle? was a well driller and had a "large" anvil that they just left when he died...would have got me drooling but well diggers tend to be rough on an anvil repointing cable tools.

Saw an old lincoln tombstone the fellow wanted $250---isn't that around *new* price for one? I've seen several go for $40 in the last coupleof years.

Off to weld while waiting for the sun to get behind the tree so I can forge in the shade.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 10/11/03 10:45:53 EDT

Hi, I am interested in the forging process of making steel. What metals are needed to create the steel?
Thanks for any info
   David - Saturday, 10/11/03 11:28:10 EDT

I've found that the best steel wool comes from mating a hydraulic ram with a ewe bolt, then letting the babies graze on wire grass in the summer and feeding them haywire in the fall with an iron supplement.
could'nt resist
   Crowsfoot - Saturday, 10/11/03 11:32:28 EDT

Thomas P; You're right about the price of the tombstone; the guy's either dreaming or fishing for guppies. There are a couple of things that WILL make some of them worth more, however. Lincoln did make an AC/DC unit in the tombstone configuration, and if you find an old AC 225 from the early 70's, before the copper market went crazy, they are better units. When the price of copper shot up, a lot of folks in the transformer biz started winding with aluminum wire. When an aluminum transformer heats up, the output falls off. During that period of time, people were stealing every piece of copper they could get their hands on to sell for scrap. Welding cables were disappearing by the mile, and trust me, aluminum welding cables are no fun to work with either. A little history on the decline and fall of the American welder.
   3dogs - Saturday, 10/11/03 12:02:54 EDT

CROWSFOOT; That was so bad it was great.
   3dogs - Saturday, 10/11/03 12:04:18 EDT

Propane hoses: Liquid propane is a very agressive solvent and will attack materials that are rated for acetylene. Propane gas is more benign but for course there are bound to be droplets of liquid in the gas. Most welding gas hoses are rated "R" for acetylene only. Those rated for a wide range of fuels including propane, are rated "T" and quite a bit more expensive. Although it is frowned upon it is common practice to use hoses and regulators rated for acetylene when running propane. In fact I know of a shop very near mine (very, very near!) that has been using an "R" rated hose on a propane cutting torch for over a year with no noticeable deterioration.

Brent/RR Burner: In addition to Guru's comments, check that the gas stream is going down the center of the tube. An easy way to check is to hook it up to a water line. Sounds like either you have an orifice that is way too big or your jet is not is not properly aligned
   adam - Saturday, 10/11/03 13:17:17 EDT

3 Dogs; my tombstone looks to be from the 60's or 50's if they had them back then; I tell folks I got it navy surplus from a fellow named Noah...the coper ones don't die easily!

More fun; he had painted the $250 tombstone miller blue---but you could still see the red where he didn't do a good job getting around the switches.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 10/11/03 17:37:22 EDT

Thomas P
For what its worth, I have a fairly new lincoln weldpac 100, wire feed welder. I had an old Dayton stick welder from the 50's and decided to update a little. Bought the wirefeeder at homedepot. Has been welding hard for about 4 years. I did add the gas system. I figured it would last a year or so and then I would get a real wirefeeder. Has no indication of failing. I will probably buy another Lincoln when I get a bigger wirefeeder.
Dark and 70 in S. Ind.
   jeff reinhardt - Saturday, 10/11/03 20:21:44 EDT

Speaking of welding equipment, I recently bought an old Miller welder that has an Onan engine. I've tried both the Miller and Onan (which is now Cummins) websites for information on this beast and they were of no help. Two local small engine shops were unable to help (or unwilling to put the time into helping...). I really need a service manual on this puppy. Engine turns easily... just doesn't run... If anyone can point me in the right direction to find a manual or has expertise in small engines, I would appreciate an email from you. Thanks!
Please note: I have a new email address....
   Rodriguez - Saturday, 10/11/03 20:29:16 EDT

David, typically steel it the product ( metal ) that is forged. As well as wrought iron. Stell is made of usually iron and varying amounts of carbon, Manganese, vandium and other stuff.
   Ralph - Saturday, 10/11/03 21:43:51 EDT

i have a question, i have heard of a sword call a Zanbatou its said to be 6-7' long and weighs 150-200 pounds does something like this actually exists? and how much would it cost to make?
   Richard - Sunday, 10/12/03 00:12:35 EDT


I would say off-hand NO. It does not exist nor could it as a sword. There is a swivel cannon called a zamborou that would fit your description. They were made of bronze and carried/packed on camels in Persha. Greatswords from Europe were five or six feet in length and between five and ten pounds.
   Myke - Sunday, 10/12/03 01:09:09 EDT

JOE RODRIGUEZ; If you go to Google.com, and type in "Onan Engines", quite a few Onan related sites will come up. One that looked particularly useful was , http://www.perr.com/onanstore.html . They're a good engine
   3dogs - Sunday, 10/12/03 01:41:40 EDT

I hope you can assist. I recently aquired an Peter Wright anvil and would like to know more about it (age, history, worth). It was found on a farm in South Africa, so it's done quite a bit of traveling. It has 103 stamped into waist and has two anchors punched into it's bottom rim. Any information would be much apreciiated.
Tony Wilson
East London - South Africa
   Antony Wilson - Sunday, 10/12/03 04:49:28 EDT

hellow i am lieven from belgium europe and i have just bought a power hammer REITeR kb 1. now is my question how can i built a fundament for it that absorbs good and dus not cost a lot off money; thank you
   - van west lieven - Sunday, 10/12/03 11:40:45 EDT

van west Lieven,
By "fundament" do you mean a foundation? A foundation is the part under a power hammer, often made from timber(wood) or concrete.If you can look at a MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK, in your library there are good pictures of foundations for steam hammers. This will give you a good idea. I have a small power hammer with a 14 kilo hammer. I put a concrete foundation about 1 meter into the earth. I put 4 mm URATHANE conveyor belting between the hammer and the foundation as a cushion. I used a lot of steel in the concrete to reinforce it.
Good Luck.
65 degrees F and cloudy in Southern Indiana.
   jeff reinhardt - Sunday, 10/12/03 12:24:41 EDT

guru, What is the best procedure for heat treating S7? TC
   Tim Cisneros - Sunday, 10/12/03 12:57:09 EDT

David and steel making... We try not to be a resource for doing peoples homework, but are willing to answer questions by people with an honest interest.

Presently most smiths do not make their own steel, modern steels are either made through the bessemer process where a massive crucible of cast iron has a blast of pure oxygen blown through the ladle, this decarburizes the cast iron and burns out the carbon. Then carbon and alloying ingredients can be added to the iron to make whatever specific type of steel they desire. There is also a crucible process where selected scrap steels are but into a crucible and melted generally now with massive amounts of electricity.

Traditionally in western europe steel was made by carburizing wrought iron in a sealed canister of some sort. Case hardening in small machine shops was done the same way around the turn of the century. But what is involved is the wrought iron is seal in a canister with a carbon source (leather, charcoal, horse manure, etc) and then was baked in a forge for up to two or three days. (The process works faster and more efficiently at near a welding temperature, were the carbon can migrate into the stucture of the steel better) This left a higher carbon steel skin around a core of wrought iron, if it was thin enough then the carbon will migrate all the way through the steel and make a wrought steel. This was called "blister steel", there was a follow up process to further refine the steel. The blister steel was welded up into a billet of shear steel. The forge welding process provided more time and heat as well to help with getting an even migration of carbon through the steel, and further refined all the junk still in the wrought iron. To get steel of a higher carbon content, and a "more" homogenious consistancy, the blistering process, and welded it into shear steel again would do that. So in the 18th & 19th century they would characterize steels at shear steel, double shear steel, and triple refined shear steel.

Of course in 1741 Huntsman came up with the crucible steel process were he took shear steel and chopped it into small pieces and melted it in a sealed crucible with flux. This produced a more homogenious modern true steel.

Wrought steel still acts like wrought iron, (or the stuff I have made does:-) Which means it is cold short, but still fairly easy to weld:-)
   Fionnbharr - Sunday, 10/12/03 13:12:32 EDT

I want too swedge the ends of 1" sq.1/16 tubing ,so that one end of swedged end will fit into another tubing same size. I know all 4 side will be swedged ,but how is this done. Thank you
   Paul.J. - Sunday, 10/12/03 17:22:40 EDT

Yo Jeff Reinhardt,
Where in S. Ind.(ia?)(iana?) are ye? I'm around Bloomington.
   andrew - Sunday, 10/12/03 18:16:02 EDT

myke, if I may ask, why wouldn't that work as a sword? and are you saying that it couldn't be made?
   Richard - Sunday, 10/12/03 18:54:54 EDT

PAUL J. If you don't get a swedging answer you can take a smaller size tube or even a 7/8 in. square piece and grind it down so that it is a tight fit in the 1" square tube. You can drill a couple of holes near the end of the 1" tube and put a short piece of the smaller tube into it with enough out to satisfy your joining requirements, then plug weld the holes and you have an acceptable mating joint.
   JOHN M. - Sunday, 10/12/03 19:04:04 EDT

Thank you, John M. If i dont a swedge answer i may very well consider your suggestion, the pieces thai,m joining must be easly removed in dusty enviroment. Thanks
   Paul.J. - Sunday, 10/12/03 19:30:34 EDT


I'll be your Huckleberry... I have an anvil that weighs 153lbs. Although I am not the biggest man, I am fairly strong; and I must strain to pick it up and move it. An anvil is a tool that can be set semi-permanent for use. A sword on the otherhand is a weapon of war. It must light fast and manuverable. If it is not it would only make an adequate tombstone.

Assuming for a moment that you wanted to really make such a sword and had the facillities to do so: You would have to start with a steel bar .75 inches thick, ten inches wide, and seven feel long, and weighing something like 278lbs. That is IF you went stock removal. If you were to FORGE such a blade you would need a pneumatic or steam hammer that could handle a two hundred pound hammer and a team of handlers/strikers of perhaps six or eight men and over a ton of coal. COULD it be done? Yes. We forge railroad axles... WOULD it ever be done? No. Not in real life.
   Myke - Sunday, 10/12/03 19:39:37 EDT

Correction on my math: the bar would be .75in.,ten inches and seven feet long, weighing 178lbs.
   Myke - Sunday, 10/12/03 19:45:27 EDT

Antony, I'm still out of town, I'll look your anvil up when I get home. Probabloy tuesday.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 10/12/03 19:57:19 EDT

myke, keep in mind im not very blacksmithing/bladesmithing literate, how much do you think it would cost if i wanted to have someone make it for me, and it be strong enough to use in battle?
   Richard - Sunday, 10/12/03 20:10:36 EDT

How Much Money? I do not know. You would have to find someone who is capable of making it and ask them.

Strong enough...? You could use it for a diving board...

Use it in battle...? I do not believe there is a human being alive that could swing it...more than once in combat.
   Myke - Sunday, 10/12/03 20:31:13 EDT

Floyds Knobs. Just across the river from Louisville.
   jeff reinhardt - Sunday, 10/12/03 20:49:36 EDT

By the way, Floyds Knobs in just down river from Clarksville In. where Lewis ans Clark started their trip of exploration from.
60 degrees and dark and cloudy in S. Ind.
   jeff reinhardt - Sunday, 10/12/03 20:52:15 EDT

Hi! I'm working on my Personal Management merit badge in scouts, and one of the questions is about what type of carreer I want to pursue. I am interested in metalwork- designing and crafting. I am interested in intervewing someone who does the job I want to do in the future. I'd like to ask you a few questions. How long did you go to collage,or train with someone? How much do you put into your job and how much you get out, money-wise? What kind of metal work do you do, lawn ornaments, doors or gates, swords? What kind of dangers are involved? What do you like about your work? Thanks, if you can answer it would be awesome. Andrew
   arth - Sunday, 10/12/03 21:02:03 EDT

hello to all !! I was wondering how i would go about carving / etching steel is it anealed, or done hot?what would be a good steel to make my tools? what metod of anealing would work best? Many Thanks.
   kainaan - Sunday, 10/12/03 21:56:07 EDT


You might try tapering or crimping the end of one short piece of 1" square tubing, so that the end will fit into the inside of your target piece but the majority is still 1" square, then heat the target piece at the end to be flared and drive the tapered piece in until the heated piece is sufficiently spread to slip over the full 1" square section. Basically, you'd be using the tapered piece as a drift for the work piece. I've never tried it, but it seems like it would work in theory.
   eander4 - Sunday, 10/12/03 23:13:23 EDT

myke thank you very much for your help and insight, do you have any last advice in terms of where i might look to aquire a blade/blacksmith with the capabalities of forging this sword?
   Richard - Sunday, 10/12/03 23:18:21 EDT

kainaan - Etching steel is normally done with acids - depending on the grade of steel chosen, you would use different acids. "Carving" - if you mean engraving, similar to that on an expensive shotgun or rifle, it's normally dne cold with hardened steel burrins, though I've seen some intereting work in SCA circles using Dremel type tools. I'll skip the steel to make a tool from - lots of different options depending on what you want to do with the tool. Annealing's pretty much the same - annealing cycles are very dependent on the grade of steel and what you want to do with the steel after it's been annealed. Even if what you want to do is just machine it, annealing cylcles and resulting microstrucres vary greatly with carbon and alloy content. - I was a heat treat metallurgist for 3 1/2 years - we annelaed Hadfields (13% manganese steel) by heating to 1900 F and water quenching - used the same cycle for 304 & 316 stainless. 52100 we heated to slightly above the critical temperature, dropped down to slighlty below and held for long times. Our end goal for that was small spherical carbides in a ferrite matrix - the best machining structure for that particular grade. 4140 & resulpherized 4150 went further above the critical to 1600 F, again controlled cooling through the critical temperature - goal was a microstructure of lamellar pearlite and ferrite - again usually the best machining structure for those grades. Straight carbon steels, you can probably get away with taking them above the critical then cooling slowly by burying in vermiculite, ashes, etc.
What I'm trying to say is that asking what method of annealing would work best without telling what grade of steel you want to anneal for engraving/carving is an unanswerable question.
   gavainh - Sunday, 10/12/03 23:37:19 EDT

Tony Wilson - Paw Paw will be able to provide more detail on your Peter Wright due to his advanced, er, familiarity with the sources involved, but I have that "brand-new book" smell in my nostrils (and God Bless Richard Postman!) so here's a little something to tide you over:

The 103 is hundredweight and in modern terms means it weighed 115 pounds upon leaving the Wright Works. A photo or direct transcription of the markings on the side of the piece would be necessary to correctly date it, as they changed the trademarks several times over the life of the company. Mr. Postman theorizes that the anchors (on the front of the feet, under the horn, are they?) may have been inspector's marks, but pehaps something else. So far as history of the anvil itself, your guess is as good as mine. History of Peter Wright, well, that's a long story and I'm burning bandwidth as it is. I don't know how much you already know about this anvil maker and don't wish to insult you. Like I say, Paw Paw is the anvil i.d. expert (and I don't want to step on his toes - y'all might be family), I'm just trying my hand with a new tool.
   Two Swords - Monday, 10/13/03 02:21:49 EDT

Do you have the $20,000+ or so that it will take to get someone to forge this thing for you? If not, get your head out of never-never land.
What you want, while possible, would be IMPOSSIBLE to fight with, let alone carry for more than a few feet. Doubt what I say? Go pick up a 4" dia x 48" long piece of steel bar stock (round) then try to swing it, AT ALL! This piece of steel would weigh 171 pounds.

After you can swing that over your head, say for five minutes and have the required $20,000 or so, then ask for references.
   Wayne P - Monday, 10/13/03 08:52:25 EDT

Richard, did you know that for 1000 years the average weight of a battle sword was around 2.2 pounds? From the vikings to the Renaissance! Most of the gosh awfull large heavy ones were "bearing" swords used only in Parades---like the ceremonial maces that some Universities have.

It would be very hard to get that weight with those specs---swords were designed to be light and so distal tapers, fullers, width tapers are all standard for a sword. (One of the classic methods of determining if a blade make knows their craft is to see if they make fast deadly swords instead of clunky ones---many machinists make clunky ones as distal tapers are a pain to machine---but are very easy to forge.)

May I commend to your attention "The Complete Bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas as having info on making swords in it and "Knives 2003" (or any other year) as having a list of swordmakers in it. Look at the pics for someone whose work you like and contact them. I'd expect that you will need US $20,000 or more to get one forged and most makers will laugh in your face. This will require special heat treat equipment to keep it straight!

A "wallhanger" could be machined out a lot cheaper. Talk to a local Vo-Tech;but it won't be a "sword".

BTW visit a local gym and get them to set up a barbell with say 50 pounds, now grab that by the end and lift it---meanwhile the fellow with the 2.2# sword will dance in and stick you with it. If you swing it at him he will move out of the way then move in for the kill.

Really there are *NO* *SWORDS* that large that "work" for humans.

There have been discussions about anime swords that are often portrayed as very large but even if they were very light their size would make them sails and the wind would deflect the blade in use.

A thousand years of 2.2 pounds used by folks who spent their life using swords---do you think they knew something?

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/13/03 09:19:41 EDT

thomas thank you very much
   Richard - Monday, 10/13/03 09:33:24 EDT

A man would have to be 12 feet tall with 48" biceps to weild such a large weapon
   Chris Makin - Monday, 10/13/03 09:57:08 EDT

hi. i am a jewelry design major at the Fashion Institute of Technology. we have been asked to find an unusual or "off the beaten path" tools and equipment catalogue. i've done a little poking around the internet, and spoken with other metalsmithers but haven't found anything too interesting yet. any ideas where to look? links? websites? thank you! jen
   jennifer - Monday, 10/13/03 10:07:26 EDT

What do you mean by off the beaten path?
   Chris Makin - Monday, 10/13/03 10:35:54 EDT

gavainh. thank you for your time,answering my question most of my work is done with cold rolled or hot pressed wichever is cheapest at the time.I believe mild carbon steel. is critical temp when the steel looses magnetism or when it just regains it before you quench?ive done alot of carving exa wood decoys. and stone pipes, pendants etc. and was wanting to try steel. many thanks
   kainaan - Monday, 10/13/03 11:22:12 EDT

Chris: look at the catalogs of some of Anvilfire's advertisers, tongs, raising hammers, swages, etc.

Also it's a bit dated but "The Last Whole Earth Catalog" was a real off the beaten track one when it came out---don't know about more recent updates to it though. I got it new for Christmas and my Grandfather who was a tinkerer latched on to it so thay had to buy me another copy...

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/13/03 12:42:51 EDT

Kainaan. My understanding is heat to non-magnetic and DON'T quench. Let the steel cool as slowly as possible, hence burying in ashes, etc. If I'm wrong, we'll both hear it soon.
   Monica - Monday, 10/13/03 13:30:40 EDT

A tutorial at arador library said rings in riveted mail should be anealed pefore punching. Does this reduce the strength of the armour, or does it get 'work hardened' when you flatten it? Thank you.
   Bonis - Monday, 10/13/03 15:00:17 EDT

Rodriguez, Try millerwelding.com . I got a manual for my old Miller 375 w/a Waukashaw diesel(1982). Might try the Cummins website also. Call any truck dealer for the address &/or Phone # or Holox or any weldor's supply for Miller's 1-8oo #. They are very helpful & will tell you where to get whever you need. Ron C
   Ron Childers - Monday, 10/13/03 16:16:34 EDT

For jewerler tools try Rio Grande. They are on the net. For really off the beaten path, try GEBRUDER OTT, in Hanau au Main,Germany. When I bought from them in Hanau, in the 70's They were over 200 years old in the biz. For a Jeweler also a bit off the beaten path is L.S. Starret,they make precision mearuring and layout tool that are a machinist's jewels.
Good Luck
   jeff reinhardt - Monday, 10/13/03 18:24:03 EDT

I ask for my 13 yr old daughter who has never actually worked with metal but would like to learn. Interested in making swords,etc. and possibly metal figures. We live near NYC. Know of any classes where a beginner could learn?
   Shivali Jones - Monday, 10/13/03 19:22:37 EDT

can someone advise the brand or mfg of the brushs that have steel strips in place of wire bristles. I have seen them used with good results for hot scale removal.
   jeff reinhardt - Monday, 10/13/03 21:10:52 EDT

Shivalli Jones,
Please see the archives on this page for discussion of beginning metalworkers and swords. Hot metal work is great fun, but you start at a very simple level and progress, and eventually reach the pinacle of metal workers Bladesmith. That said, my daughter started in the shop with me at about 5, and started in the blacksmith shop around 8 or 9.It is impertive that proper fitting safety equipment be found for your child prior to starting. This means good safety glasses that fit. All cotton clothing, and hearing protection that fits. Try looking in the phone book under safety supplies and get real stuff. I am sure that others on this site will suggest some schools. Can your daughter drive a nail? if not get the safety glasses, a nail hammer and a large hunk of wood.get her started driving nails. when she shows enough hammer control to drive nails well,then go to the school.
good luck
   jeff reinhardt - Monday, 10/13/03 21:19:05 EDT

kainaan- sounds like you're buying the "mild steel" my friends and I play with - for that, Monica's right - all you have to do to anneal it is take it to the critical point (that's when it becomes non-magnetic) and slow cool. Ususally the critical temperatures differ slighty because you'll get some super cooling before transformation begins or a little delay before it begins on heating. What's actually happening is that the steel is changing its crystalline structure. At room temperature it has a body-centered cubic structure (picture a cube with an extra atom stuck in the exact center) and at elevated temperatures it has a face centered cubic structure (picture a cube with an extra atom on each face) It's a little more complicated than that, because you share atoms with the surronding crystals, but that's the general idea. If you want to do major changes in the form of the steel, it's much easier to do it hot in a forge and then finish the details with cold machining/cutting. I've got a friend who's armoring part time in the SCA who's started to raise pigface bascinets as single pieces working them hot, and then finishing them cold. He's gotten interested in alloy steels and currently favors 4150 sheet. Good luck!
   gavainh - Monday, 10/13/03 22:15:46 EDT

Since a rivited maile ring is around 10 times stronger than a butted ring, anything you do to make the rivitting better is all to the good. Punching in an overly work hardened ring is not only harder it is likely to produce stress fractures right at the rivit area.

Flattening will work harden the ring some, if you can punch with no problems it's ok. If you get problems you may need an annealing step.

"Treasures from the Kremlin" includes pictures of a maille shirt of Boris Godunov, late 16th century, that uses lare flat rings that look a lot like thin washers, but each link is stamped with a motto

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/14/03 07:32:11 EDT

Jeff your asking about a "butcher block" brush or it is sometimes also called a handled wire brush, or a handled block brush. Centaur carries them as well as most farrier suppliers. Yes, they are really wonderful, and can be very aggressive in removing scale. Next to a peddinghaus slitting chisel it is one of the most useful tools you can buy:-)
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 10/14/03 08:47:16 EDT

I am making an anvil tool for shaping hot steel, using S-7, any tips on heat treating it will be appreciated. This is a square bar of S-7, 1.5" square, 1" shank welded on to fit through hardy hole, threaded bolt welded to 1" shank so it can be tightened against anvil to hold it from moving when hammering on it.

I know this is an air hardening tool steel, is it tough enough "as is" to resist corner deformation, or should I harden it?


   Ellen - Tuesday, 10/14/03 13:07:58 EDT

Jeff, try Old World Anvils. They used to carry those brushes with flat strips in place of the wire bristles.

S7: heat to about 1750F, air cool and temper 400F-1150F. However, if you choose not to heat treat it, why use a tool steel in the first place? Most of my hardy tools are just low or medium carbon steel with no heat treatment since cold mild steel is a lot harder than hot, high carbon steel.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 10/14/03 13:50:02 EDT

Does anyone have a tong design that will hold a taper? The taper is made from 1" schedule 40 pipe. It is forged to a taper on one end and the opposite end is flared to form a bell. I'm having trouble gripping the small end while forging the bell. I've made several different types of tongs that will work, but are lacking in the gripping department. Two or three good hammer blows will move the bell in the tong jaws or even knock the bell completely out of the tongs. The tongs can't attach to the bell end. The bell will be worked on over the end of the anvil horn. That leaves no place for the tongs. This only leaves the tapered end to hold. Any suggestions or pictures would be nice.
   - Steve - Tuesday, 10/14/03 13:57:07 EDT

Steve: Can you forge the bell before you do the taper? Otherwise, maybe a set of chain tongs might work. Tapers can be a bear to keep hold of, as you've noticed! Chain tongs can be thought of as round-jawed tongs that grip from the side, at a 90 degree angle to the work. The round part of the jaws is perpendicular to the axis of the jaws, if you can see that.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 10/14/03 14:30:17 EDT

I would make a set of offset tongs to hold pipe.

( offset such that the tong loop is at a 90 degree angle to the reins)
   Ralph - Tuesday, 10/14/03 14:52:48 EDT

A pair of tongs with a round jaw that goes in the hole at the end of the taper and a flat or slightly curved jaw to go on the outside is a possibility (if you aren't closing off the taper...).

Warm and wet in Honolulu, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 10/14/03 16:15:09 EDT

Quenchcrack, thx for info, will follow your instructions.

I used S-7 because someone gave me a nice long chunk of it, it was the size I needed, and I thought if I cut some off and used it I would learn something i.e. if the corners would resist deformation under repeated use..... more so than mild steel.....

I've made other hardy tools out of "regular" steel and they seem to work well.

Jeff, my local farrier shop carries those butcher block brushes, they are about $15 and work quite well.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 10/14/03 17:04:13 EDT

Tapered pipe. Things I would try:

1. forge the taper a bit longer than needed and forge the last inch w/o a taper to a size convenenient for your tongs. Cut it off when done.

2. If the taper has a hole, a pc of threaded rod with one nut insde the pipe and another outside should grip it as long as it doesnt get red hot.

3. Weld on a handle of scrap rod (this is a quick and easy trick that I use a lot) and then cut it off when done.

4. I have a pair of scrolling tongs that I find very useful for gripping pipe - one jaw slips inside , the other grips the wall on the outside.
   adam - Tuesday, 10/14/03 17:13:40 EDT

and one more:

5. Neck down and taper the pipe w/o separating it from the parent stock. Forge the flare and then separate.
   adam - Tuesday, 10/14/03 17:16:37 EDT

I have never understood why people would be opposed to using good tool steel for tools? I have made tools out of mild steel and have used scraps of mild steel to fuller stock and I have not been impressed with how well it works, maybe I am hitting too hard or too cold, but if I have to make a tool, I have lots of tool steel to make it out of. Now if I have to put a anvil saddle on the bottom die on my power hammer to protect it, and put a softer steel on the striking end on my power hammer tools, that seems a small price to pay. Francis Whitaker was of the opinion that tools should be made out of tool steel, springs out of spring steel, and mild steel was what you made things out of. I can understand making tools out of what you have on hand, but if you have tool steel why not use it... H13 is my freind:-)
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 10/14/03 17:57:00 EDT

Thanks for the suggestions on forging the pipe into a taper.
The chain tongs have been attempted. Due to the taper the tongs tend to slip, but maybe it's the way that I'm grasping the taper. I'll try again.

The pointy end (technical term) is closed. That is part of the design.

>>>5. Neck down and taper the pipe w/o separating it from the parent stock. Forge the flare and then separate.<<<

Not tried that. I'll go try it and let you know.

Thanks to all.
   - Steve - Tuesday, 10/14/03 17:58:39 EDT

If you dont have a power hammer or a striker, forging tool steel is a lot of work. For this (and other reasons), I like to make the body out of mild steel and weld on a tool steel bit.
   adam - Tuesday, 10/14/03 18:39:38 EDT

My dad was a metal worker and blacksmith. He recently passed away. he used his anvil for many things. i am trying to find out what kind it is and what it is worth. all i can find on it is these numbers 150 190213 can you help me please.
   jeff levesque - Tuesday, 10/14/03 21:11:18 EDT

looking for someone who knows about anvils and what the numbers 150 190213 on the base are.trying to find who made it and what it is worth.
   - jeff levesque - Tuesday, 10/14/03 21:29:14 EDT

thank you both monica and gavainh, looks like i have alot of reading to do, but what is a pigface bascinet? also my friend just gave me a bunch of ROCKWELL (i think) blocks their at the shop or i could give you some figures what would these be ued for and how? thanks for your time !!good day to all!!
   kainaan - Tuesday, 10/14/03 22:07:58 EDT


You might want to try a pivoting jaw. Have the jaws offset with the bottem one a normal profiled jaw and the top one with a pivot that has an equal amount of jaw on each side with a profile that is close to the taper of your work.

The pivot could easily be made from 1/2" square or round stock. Flatten one end of the stock then taper it over the edge of the anvil, horn or the actual work that you will be holding(suggested). Turn the stock 90 deg. and then flatten about 2" of it. Turn the stock back to the original orientation, then make an identical flat as the first on the other end of the stock. The total length of this piece should be about 3" long.

Drill a hole in the center of it. Then rivet it to the top jaw. The fulcrum should be directly above the lower jaw.

I have not tried this, but I think that the double and conformed grip of the pivoting top jaw should help you get a better grip.

Adam's welded on handle is also an excellent idea.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 10/14/03 22:09:16 EDT

Jeff, with 54 repeats I think you won the "most double posts award" (corrected by -guru)

So I have a car, can you tell me what it's worth if I give you the serial number? Even if you guess the year and make you still don't know *condition* and *location*, So tell us about the anvil---are the edges still crisp, the face unswayed, the horn un-dinged? Or is it broken off at the hardy with cutting torch grooves in the face and horn?

Now turn it over and look at the bottom is there a recess and if so what shape does it have? How many handling holes are in it and where?

With no more details I would say it was probably a 1925 Trenton and the 150 is the weight. (is the recess on the bottom shapped like a "caplett" pill?)

Trenton is a great anvil! In great condition it would be worth between US$2-$3 per pound, with the higher prices most likely being toward the west coast and the cheaper prices in the midwest.

The lack of the visible marking---should be a diamond on the side with TRENTON in it---does decrease the value as will wear and tear.

Age does not really help an anvils price till it gets to be around 200 years old, I bought an 1828 anvil once for $5, appx 100# condition *very* *bad*.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/14/03 22:09:36 EDT

On tool steels; True they can be a bear to work, especially if it is a thicker cross section than 1/2" or 5/8", or a high heat alloy like H13. (I made a cornel lance point out of a high chromium tool steel, and I had to have my wife hold it down while I beat it into submission; and trying to cut hardened 52100, or even annealed H13 is no fun whatsoever and will burn through the abrasive cutoff wheels and make it look easy :-) But the nice thing is that when you do get it the right shape and heat treat it properly, it pretty much stays the right shape:-) Power hammers, treadle hammers, a good striker, or some really nice tooling and jigs really make tool steel much more useable, especially when making larger tools. But some of the best uses for H13 and S7 from my prespective is for smaller chisels and punches, where a standard high carbon steel will loose it's temper more quickly, and will need to be redressed or stick in the hole. These higher temp alloys are particularly well suited for these types of applications. Can you get the job done with a mild steel tool, yes. I study medieval history and medieval technology, and they were able to do some incredible things with tools made from wrought steel, with in some cases inconsistant or indifferent carbon levels and high phosphorus. (Still haven't figured that one out, but I have some wrought iron that I have blistered with some bone meal to give it some phosphorus, and I will see if I can deal with it being cold short as well as hot short..:-) The quality of your tools changes how you can work, if you have to cool your punch between every blow and reheat after every third blow it will slow you down compared to quenching after everthird blow and getting nine blows in before you need to reheat, and not having to redress your tool while your stock gets back up to heat. I enjoy making tools, but I don't want to make more than I have to, and I certainly don't want to spend more time grinding and redressing my tools. I have a pile of all kinds of fun tool steels, and when I can find the time I plan on converting much of it into tools for my shop. Your mileage may very:-) and everyone is entitled to their opinion (even if it is wrong or delusional, including me:-)

PS: If it take you three times as long to forge the tool out of tool steel, and cost 10x as much, and it only last twice as long, mild steel would be a better choice:-)

PPS: And if you get the heat treat wrong and abuse your tools, the tool steel will likely fail in a much more spectacular fashion... (meaning your are much more likely to be injured...:-( There are some advantages to tools that mush.
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 10/14/03 22:41:14 EDT

Jennifer, Leonhard Müller Co. in Austria makes a whole line of woodworking tools. At present, I cannot locate their postal address, but some of the tools are shown on fine-tools.com/mueller.htm. As an instance, they manufacture many regional European axe patterns, including the Germanic "goose wing" broad axe.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/15/03 08:40:40 EDT

Question about swaging stainless steel. I'm doing a little work for a client who makes, among other things, hose assemblies for the petroleum industry. On one of their assemblies they currently have a plain carbon steel fitting that is attached to a hose (1 1/2" hose) via a swage operation (fitting goes inside the hose, steel sleeve goes on the outside of the hose).
They would like to change from plain carbon steel to stainless steel but don't know if that presents a problem. I have been doing a little research to see what products exist that are swaged stainless steel and have found only small tube fittings (Swagelok) and wire rope/turnbuckles. They all seem to use 316 SS exclusively as their material.
I have not yet been able to find any design guide that deals with swaging stainless steel. In fact I don't have a clue if one even exists.
Can you give me any insight about this topic? Is 316 the only/best material to use for this app? Is there a design guide I can refer to?
Much appreciated!
   j_gilreath - Wednesday, 10/15/03 08:45:04 EDT

Steve, I like T. Gold's suggestion in answer to your taper holding problem. That assumes that there is an aperture in the tapered end. The ol' timers have used pick tongs for holding the taper of a dirt pick while forging/dressing the other end. The pick tong has, instead of one of the rivet heads, a forged square eye that pivots freely. The jaws are bent on edge, similar to side tongs. The end of one jaw has a short 90š bend to help keep the piece from wrenching sideways. This holds a squarish taper. I'm not sure if it would help on a round taper. Just a thought.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/15/03 09:02:09 EDT

Home Again: Well, We made it back. . . I'm too out of shape to be demonstrating 4 hours at a time for a week. . . .

I got home yesterday just in time to process some orders and then came down with the flue. I thought the aches and pains were just from all the travel but then I got feverish with chills. . . Went to bed about 5:00 last night. . . Doing somewhat better now.

Paw-Paw came home to a dead computer. While on the road he couldn't get out going e-mail to work and now he has a dead PC (power supply we think). SO, it may be a day or two more before you hear from him.

   - guru - Wednesday, 10/15/03 10:29:47 EDT

I disagree about needed a stricker or pwr hammer to work tool steel. If you have it at the proper temp it is not that hard to work. Yes more hard than mild but still it moves well.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 10/15/03 11:05:45 EDT

j gilreath,
Swagelok does indeed make stainless steel fitings in 316, and the double ferrule does in effect swage the primary ferrule into the tube. Thier rule is the the tubing be at a soft condition, Rb40 if I remember correctly. I do believe that I have seen stainless steel hose assemblies from somone. Try looking at Swagelok as they do high pressure hoses and also try HIGH PRESSURE EQUIPMENT. Having worked at a valve mfg that supplied the oil patch etc, be aware that Stainless steel has some interesting cracking properties when exposed to hydrogen sulfide. The National Association of Corrosion engineers has a lot of spec's for H2S conditions that apply to most petroleum applications that are also known as SOUR. For these NACE jobs, As I remember, we could not have hardness above Rb21 for most materials. You can also run into intergrannular stress corrosion cracking in service where chlorides exist.(salt water is one) This cracking is especially bad around the heat affected zone of welds. The valve industry went to 316L for these services as the Low carbon content helps.
I did some swaging experiments a long time ago and remember that stainless swages fine.
I hope this helps
Good luck
   jeff reinhardt - Wednesday, 10/15/03 13:04:57 EDT

Rockwell Blocks: These are calibration standards used to verify the accuracy of Rockwell Hardness Testing Machines. If they are completely covered with tiny round impressions, they are used up and have been discarded. If both faces are smooth and unmarked, they are new and worth about $60 each. I have no idea what steel is used to make these but I doubt it is tool steel, especially if the hardness range is below about 40Rc. The hardness range of the block is stamped on the edge.

Jeff, are you sure the hardness of those sour service fittings wasn't 21 Rockwell C instead of B?

Fionbaar: If you are fortunate enough to have a lot of tool steel available, I would vote for using that in place of mild steel for hardy tools. For those of us who do not have such a luxury, you make do with what you have.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 10/15/03 13:20:47 EDT

Frank Turley, do you have any idea where a picture may be found of the pick tongs. I can visualize the tongs discribed by T.Gold and am planning to create my version, but I would like to be able to try what you're talking about. I think I've got the mental picture, but would like a visual to confirm it.
So far, I've gotten several great ideas. As time allows I'll try most if not all. Great answers.
   - Steve - Wednesday, 10/15/03 16:56:54 EDT

Jeff reinhardt is now ptree, and a CSI member. That Rc21 is probably correct. It has been a year or so since I have worked with the NACE standards. You can't imagine how difficult it is to build a valve to meet the standard. A solution annealed 316 bolt(B8M) will work harden as it is torqued, and is very close to the limit. Spring loaded ball checks had to use iconel X springs as I remember. A standard 44C ball at a hardness of Rc58+ would shatter from the internal stresses in a month or so in the H2S test solution. Anything for the petro-chemical industry was highly specified so as to not fail and take a billon dollar plant with it.
I am proud to join CSI, and have adopted ptree and my user name as my forge is PERSSIMON TREE FORGE.
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/15/03 18:01:32 EDT

Quenchcrack & kainaan, when I was purchasing Rockwell blocks in the job just before my current one, the C scale blocks from Wilson were 52100 - even at the low end of the scale. B blocks were a copper alloy - some to my eye appeared to look more like brass and some looked more like bronze. No gauarantee on othe manufacturer's block materials, or if you've got some for a different scale such as N or T.
   gavainh - Wednesday, 10/15/03 21:54:06 EDT

They're coming Saturday to cut up the grand old pecan tree that we lost to Isabel. They will cut certain sections to my specs (most longer than stove length, so it saves them labor). I can have a batch cut into anvil stumps if there is a demand for it, if you send me some dimensions, and if you are willing to pick it up (southern Maryland) before the grass grows and the bugs and fungus gets intpo it in the spring.

Well, that's three "ifs" so how about some input. I'll be glad to do it, but if nobody's interested, I've got plent enough to do. The tree was over 100' tall, and over 100 years old, so even the upper limbs are of goodly size.

Cool and quiet on the banks of the lower Potomac. Still catching up on the bulletin boards after Hasting Weekend and an untimely kidney stone yesterday. :-(

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 10/15/03 22:09:11 EDT

It did it again, a message saying there was no data, and then it posted anyway!

Jock: Please eliminate the redundant posts.

Hmmmm, is it at my end or yours?
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 10/15/03 22:11:04 EDT

Steve, There is a fair drawing in J.W. Lillico, "Blacksmith's Manual Illustrated", Technical Press, London, England, page 23, figure 1. The drawing shows the "square eye" as a round one, saying that they use as a rivet an "eye bolt". If all else fails, I will try to draw the pick tong and send an image electronically, tho' I'm somewhat computer stupid.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/15/03 22:27:57 EDT


Welcome to the family!

Guys, it is the power supply on my computer. I'm using Sheri's at the moment. I should be back on line sometime tomorrow, and I'll start catching up on my e-mail then.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 10/15/03 22:34:02 EDT

Bruce, the pecan tree loss is sad. But the wood is great for work tables and is even used in brick size blocks over concrete for industrail floors. I made a crossbow stock from pecan--beautiful grain and heavy. Looks kinda like oak and should be perfect for anvil stumps.
   Jerry - Thursday, 10/16/03 00:20:28 EDT

I feel for Bruce's Pecan tree, but millions of Piņon and Ponderosa Pine trees in southwestern Colorado and New Mexico have been killed outright by about six varieties of "bark beetle". The beetles are tiny, but en masse, the larvae girdle the trunk and eat the inner bark. In my yard, I'm having to cut down a number of piņons whose needles have turned brown.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/16/03 07:17:48 EDT

Trees: We had the same bark beetle problem here in the East killing millions of trees. Over the past decade most commercial growers have clear cut large areas early to avoid greater losses. In uncut areas it has resulted in many dead standing or leaning "widow makers". In the past few years the problem has seemed to have lessened, perhaps due to the loging, perhaps due to resistant trees being all that is left.

The Blackistone Family Pecan Tree was one of those truely glorious singular shade trees planted hundreds of years ago by some ancient ancestor and probably predates the current OLD farm house by several hundred years. It has been the host to thousands of family and church picnics and in recent years it has shaded and protected atendees at the annual Camp Fenby crafts weekend held by the Longship Company.
Blackistone Family Pecan Tree
Sad demise of the Blackistone Family Pecan Tree
Over the years I have lived in places with huge "family" trees either in yards or forest that I have had attachments to. Their loss is often as significant as the loss of family member or at least that of a favorite pet. Yes, I have shed tears for trees.

The difference is like the passing of some famous person who large segments of the world morns while millions die in Africa from disease and revolution unnoticed by most of the world. It is not fair but it seems to be a condition of humankind.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/03 10:10:05 EDT

"No Data" errors. . . This seems to be a new thing on the server end. I have not seen the error so I am not sure if there is a work around. If the error is in the message text frame then it may be best to click on "Refresh" rather than "Post" again.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/03 10:41:24 EDT

I forged the 1" diameter pipe from the middle to form the tapered bell shape on the end. This allowed me to forge the bell end to a flared cone. This was a great help being able to hold the pipe and do most of the forging to near completion. While the first bell is still attached to the pipe I have the perfect opportunity to forge the second taper. The pipe now looks like an hour glass with the two pointy tapered ends connected in the center. The problem of how to hold the bell reappears when the second bell is removed from the length of pipe. I can either hold the first bell by the flared end or cut the two apart and hold the pointy end while working the flare. Holding the first bell/flare and working the second is not too bad, but the thin center section where the pointy ends join wants to bend and twist. Cutting the two apart and forging the flare puts me back to holding the tapered pointy end (as stated earlier, this is a technical term). Oh well, at least I've made progress using that suggestion. Now if I can find the book that Frank Turley suggested I'll work on the pick tongs.
Thanks again for all of the suggestions. They work!
   - Steve - Thursday, 10/16/03 11:31:24 EDT

On the "document contained no data" error, I only seem to encounter it when posting from home using netscape 4.1. I am forced to use IE at work, and have not yet encountered the message. Maybe your servers have been sabotaged by Billy G. to only work with his products?
   Alan-L - Thursday, 10/16/03 12:13:45 EDT

Steve's Pipes:
Steve, I just had an odd idea. If you forge a pair of tongs so that when you squeeze them, the jaws go *outwards* (basically a normal pair of tongs, but rivet them together inside-out). Set these tongs to the inside diameter of the pipe, and make sure they have a good bit of 'spring' in them. If you're careful, they should do the job nicely and not ding the inside of the pipe too much if at all. I applaud the idea of keeping the two pieces together... it would have taken me a lot longer to think of that one (Grin). Good luck.

"Document contained no data" error:
I am encountering no problems with Opera so far... will let ya know if I do.

Casting anvils:
Do the Fisher (Cast iron cast onto a tool-steel plate) anvils really work well? I've read that they do, and through an odd twist of fate, I will soon have access to a fairly large foundry. All I'll need is some scrap steel to remelt and a tool steel plate. If anyone has a plate roughly the size and shape of the top of an anvil (at least 1/2" thick, I think) and is willing to sell it, email me and I'll be eternally grateful (VBG).

Rainy and wet in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 10/16/03 14:45:14 EDT

T Gold you may want to look up Josh Kavatt who now owns most or all of the Fisher Norris stuff and is opening a museum dedicated to that line. He has expressed a similar interest. He may be lurking here sometimes and I know he does across the street.
   Mills - Thursday, 10/16/03 14:58:12 EDT

T. Gold,

As far as I have heard and experienced, cast steel works better than cast iron, more rebound. Although the cast iron anvils do not ring, which I like. I have a Vulcan cast iron anvil, around 100# and it works ok, but the top plate is only about 1/8" thick! Makes me a little nervous sometimes, I had to grind a few edges on it when I got it because there were chips right in the way. Thats all right though, because I don't like square edges anyways, they just seem to mar the work.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 10/16/03 15:33:26 EDT

T. Gold,
On the Fisher anvils. Yes they work well. But as to casting your own....
I know that the method of doing this was a trade secret, and that others who tried ( other anvil companies) did not have sucsess with it. They had issues getting the steel plate to bond well with the cast iron.

   Ralph - Thursday, 10/16/03 15:45:29 EDT

T Gold, Fisher's work quite well as well as being very quiet, the top plate on mine is well over an inch thick---course it weighs over 500#... I have never been as happy with the vulcans I have used.

I think that there is a bit more to it than just slapping a top plate down and pouring on top of it. You may want to do some small cheap experiments before the big one!

BTW I just spent over 2 hours dragging a fork lift tine out of the forrest, (I hope they drove it over the bluff on purpose way back when) the face on it is 5" x 1.75 and would make a dandy anvil face; should be hardenable too.

You might check with your local forklift dealer about getting a broken tine and using a section of it for the face. I'd bet that the port would be using some fairly large forklifts...

Mine is mounted on a 2" shaft so I have a nice rectangular face with a 2" horn projecting from either side ready for tapering.

Still need to go get the other one---ugh

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/16/03 15:55:35 EDT

Cast Anvil - I have some heavy truck leafspring of the right size - you are welcome to a piece if you want to pay the shipping. Though, I would buy a piece of s7 or h13 for a project like this.

Like Ralph says, the bond is going to be very tricky as well as controlling the temp of the casting so that it doesnt actually melt the plate. I would sooner try a mild steel body and arc weld the plate on with a SOLID weld (vee the top and build up from the ctr out ) not just welded on the edges.

PS Ralph, I wont be shaking your hand. Would rather stick my fingers in pneumatic vise than have it gripped by someone who thinks forging tool steel by hand aint no big deal. :)
   adam - Thursday, 10/16/03 16:02:10 EDT

Did the Fisher's really have a tool steel plate, or were chills put into the mold to cause a different structure in the desired area? I have a little 70# Vulcan that I have on loan, and it appears that it does not have a plate. It also rings like a bell. I took it to a demo, and was about deaf in a couiple of hours. It looks like a molded shape to appear like a plate.
My trenton does have a top plate and the weld is quite obvious.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/16/03 17:24:48 EDT

Another thought is to furnace sweat a top plate on. It would require a good flat top and plate. Probably have to grind on a surface grinder. The high temp. silver brave can be obtained in paste, and then raise temp to braze temp. Have to use a braze alloy above the heat treat temp. Most of the high temp. alloys difuse out boron and then it takes about 50F higher temp. to melt. Might try the WALL COLMONOY site for info.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/16/03 17:29:24 EDT

I'm an archaeologist working in the midwest and we just excavated an area that looks to be a small, simple blacksmith operation . Most of the artifacts we found are certainly associated with blacksmithing, however, we also have found several small circular iron objects that we simply don't know what they are. They are all about the size of a dime but are around 2/10" think. My first thought is that the might be plugs from punching but I am not sure. I know this isn't a typical question for this forum but I thought that you all might have an idea of what these objects might be. Any answers/ideas would be greatly appreciated.
   - Nick - Thursday, 10/16/03 17:30:35 EDT

is there any way you can get pictures of these?
And then either email them or you could post them on the yahoo web page PawPAw set up for this type of thing.
But I am thinking that they are plugs......
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/16/03 17:46:30 EDT

ptree, yes it was really a tool steel plate.
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/16/03 17:47:02 EDT

I am not that big... Just as Paw Paw or Guru. Only 5' 10 and 240lbs..... and dropping.
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/16/03 17:47:51 EDT


They sound like punching "biscuits" to me. Pictures would help.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 10/16/03 17:51:02 EDT

was meant to be " Just ask Paw Paw or Guru"
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/16/03 18:01:08 EDT


The book that Frank suggested "Blacksmith's Manual Illistrated, by J.W. Lillico ) is for sale on artisanideas.com one of the advertizers here. It runs thirty dollars US. plus shipping. I would highly recommend it. I have only had my copy for a few weeks but it has helped me with some problems I have had for years, like forgeing sharp corners on square collars. The power hammer section is worth the price of the book a dozen fold.
   Myke - Thursday, 10/16/03 18:04:45 EDT

petrie dish: are you sure it's a vulcan and not an Arm& Hammer? All the vulcan's I have owned or used were "thunkers" not "ringers"

Both used the "arm and hammer" logo but on the Vulcan it is cast projecting from the surface and on the Arm&Hammer it is stamped in.

I ask cause the A&H is a forged anvil and they do ring---I have a 91# A&H for my travel anvil; traded for it in AR then brought it with me when I moved to Columbus, OH. funny cause they were made in Columbus, OH.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/16/03 18:04:59 EDT

Hi, I'm interested in learning blacksmithing, and more specifically swordsmithing. I already have quite a few books on blacksmithy and I am building a forge and looking for an anvil, but my goal is to learn to make swords. I have found very little information about this topic online or at the bookstore. Could you please refer me to a good book or website for people interested in starting out with swordsmithing?
   Tom - Thursday, 10/16/03 18:06:38 EDT

Some interesting photos from Caleb Ramsby.

Great Grandfather Frank Ramsby
   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/03 18:08:17 EDT

Circular objects? Nick, Circular or "disk" shaped? Circular indicates a ring, loop or washer shape.

Slugs from punching (often called biscuits) generaly have round edges on one face and square or slightly raised edges on the other. They could have been produced hot or cold. If cold then the slug thickness is the same as the original material, if hot punched they will be 1/3 to 1/4 the original material thickness. If they all measure EXACTLY the same thickness they are probably cold punching slugs, if they vary in thickness then they are definitely hot punched slugs. HOWEVER, in a production situation a smith using hand tools may hit this thickness to within as little as +/- .005" which may be less than the difference from corrosion.

Cold punching something that thick would take about 10 tons. This usualy means that a machine of some type would be involved. If from hot punching then the material punched was probably 5/8" to 3/4". Usualy hot slugs are left where they dropped under the anvil or a swage block and get lost in the dirt.

We help answer archaeological questions all the time. Most blacksmiths are amature technological historians and some know enough for it to be their profession. Many are involved in research trying to find methods lost as recently as 150 years ago. This was the right place.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/03 18:28:31 EDT

Fisher Construction: These anvils have a tool steel plate that extends from the heel to the tip of the horn with a bar across the top of the horn and a solid tip (varies). The plate was welded on by a patented method in the mold. Part of the process was making sure there was adequate flow and turbulence to make a good weld. Most alloy steels would not weld well in this situation. It was a method of producing cheap but servicable anvils. The welds often failed (you get what you pay for). Folks like them because they do not ring.

I saw several large ones at Quad State with missing pieces of plate on anvils with little use. AND I have seen them with loose horn strips and tips. They are not repairable.

Today it is much cheaper to cast an all steel anvil. But steel foundries are much different than iron foundries. For low production the best alternative is to fabricate an anvil. Medium carbon steel is available in heavy plate or bar suitable to make the top half of an anvil. The base can be cut from heavy low carbon plate or assembled from blocks. Lots of welding and grinding is required. But it is less costly than dealing with modern foundries in low quantities.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/03 18:44:51 EDT

Swordsmithing: Tom, You start at the begining, sword smithing is the end. There is lots of on-line information (see swordforum or bladeforum).

There are more books on the subject of blacksmithing, bladesmithing and swordsmithing on the market today than there ever has been or probably will be in history. ArtisanIdeas.com has many blacksmithing titles as does Centaur Forge, those you cannot find there can be gotten from Norm Larson. If you have the budget we could build you a significant library overnight. We have a recommended list and sources under GETTING STARTED. We have reviews of most of the books listed.

But do not forget the TECHNICAL references. Today's artist blacksmiths and swordsmiths work with a wide variety of metals and alloys. There are far too many to remember the specs or treatments. Add to your list four or five hundred dollars worth of ASM metals references (ASM Metals Reference, ASM Heat Treaters Guide, Forging and Casting. . .).
   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/03 18:59:15 EDT

thanks for posting the photos, caleb, i haven't seen a foot powered post vise like that one,,, do they only stay closed when you're pushing down?
   mike-hr - Thursday, 10/16/03 21:08:06 EDT

J Gilreath , they use SST crimp hose ferrules on soft drink distribution systems\carbonators. Look under Carbonic in the phone book.

Someone was looking for those metal brushes for scale. I was surprised to see a stack of them at a local restaurant supply. They use them to clean griddles.

- C
   Chris S - Thursday, 10/16/03 21:46:59 EDT

hi,i have a champion lancaster model 40,hand crank blower on the factory pedistal.works great and has been stored in a basement.id like to find out its value...any idea?
   mikequarry - Thursday, 10/16/03 21:47:29 EDT

mikequarry, i bought the same model blower at a hammer-in in oregon this summer for eighty bucks.
   mike-hr - Thursday, 10/16/03 21:59:17 EDT

Foot powered post vise:


Yes, it is a rather odd one. I uploaded a close up of the vise on the Yahoo group. I believe that they only stay closed when you are pushing down on the pedal.

I am not sure if the bars that go down to the ground beside the vise are a suporting member or a project that is just leaning on it. My instinct tells me it is the latter.

The protrusion coming off of the pedal side jaw is also an intruiging thing. It looks as if there is a hole in it.

It also looks like the pedal side jaw is not part of the actuating arm coming from the pedal. There appears to be a pivot point between the actuating arm and the pedal side jaw, below where the pivot point is on the main body.

It's unlikely, but this may have been a one of a kind vise. Mabey even made by my great-grandfather or Frank Wyllys his partner. It definitly seems like a Ramsby thing to make, however it is unlikely.

Anyone else have any ideas about the vise or seen any like it before?

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 10/16/03 22:25:33 EDT


That looks like a caulking/heading vise. The two rods that appear to be "leaning" agians tit are, I think, supports for the fixed jaw. The jwaw on the right in the photo, which looks like it should be the fixed one, is actually the moveable jaw. It is actuated by the foot pedal which has a compound linkage to multiply the closing force. The foot pedal pivots at the right of the the moveable jaw and the toggle arm on the pedal contacts the bottom of the moveable jaw, pushing it back and closing the jaws.

Those vises were used for forming calks for horseshoes and for heading bolts and large rivets. Some of them have vertical grooves in the jaw faces and are designed primarily as heading vises, sort of a heavy-duty version of a rivet header tool. The protrusion on the fixed jaw may have hole(s) in it for heading, or it may have grooves in it that are, I think, used for doing calks. Probably Frank Turley would know much more about the whole calk process than I do, since I've never had anything to do with farrier work and know nothing about it. I've just seen similar vises in books that were called calking vises.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/16/03 23:13:46 EDT

Has anyone built a Bruce Freeman's grasshopper treadle hammer?
   Steve Hildred - Thursday, 10/16/03 23:25:56 EDT

Hi I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to lengthen a tang without useing some fancy, complicated method, cause I'm a beginer. thx alot
   walker - Thursday, 10/16/03 23:39:55 EDT

I've posted a picture of a caulking vice that was on E-bay last month on the user gallery. I think it shows the workings fairly well.
   habu - Friday, 10/17/03 00:59:48 EDT

habu, i wonder if it is the one that i bought (caulking vise). this one is made by "green river". it has steel blocks for various sized bolts/rivets. quick clamping; kick ass tool me thinks....will post on yahoo if interest demonstrated......

another charcoal question: i am going to try hickory charcoal that i can get for about $10/30#. i have easy access to this stuff through a BBQ shop. should work well, yes???

   rugg - Friday, 10/17/03 02:55:19 EDT

Rugg, some of the "gourmet" charcoals are not fully charred, (no "smoke" falvouring if it's just carbon). These tend to smoke and throw off more sparks while using them for forging so they are not as nice to work with.

Don't know what you got, try a bag and see (ask if they have a broken bag for cheap as a "sample".

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/17/03 07:53:10 EDT

Ptree, I have to second what Thomas P said.
I had a Vulcan and it was "quiet", not a great anvil but they were the last large U.S. maker to go out of business, sometime in the 1960s. I also have a 107# Arm and Hammer anvil and it has a quite nice ring to it. Yes it has a welded tool steel face on it. The way you can tell the two apart is that the logo on the Vulcan is raised and the shape of the anvil is squat and dumpy looking. The Arm and Hammer has a stamped in logo and it has a graceful horn and heal.
The underside of the Arm and Hammer heal is usually rough forged. Postman conceders the Arm and Hammer anvil to be one of the best made U.S. anvils. Use it in good health!
   Wayne P - Friday, 10/17/03 08:50:20 EDT

Walker, I've lengthened tangs by brazing a slotted grade 5 bolt on. Slot the bolt so there is a tight fit between the two parts and a significant amount of lap between the two parts. Much stronger than a butt braze joint. Less heat complications than welding and only a torch required.
   - Tony - Friday, 10/17/03 09:05:10 EDT

Caleb, Those calking vises appear on eBay every now and again, usually sold by barUbar in Skull Valley, Arizona. They can be high priced, probably because they are semi-quasi rare. I've not used one; they're before my time and usually made by "Greenfield". Here is what I gather about their use. When welding on a toe calk, there is a "nib", a sharp little spur on the end of the calk (even the manufactured ones), and it is driven into the yellow-hot web of the shoe in order to hold the calk in place while a welding heat is taken. Once the hammer weld has taken place, the calk was sometimes sharpened, perhaps with another welding heat and driven upside-down into a calk welding die. The calk welding dies are kind of Vee shaped swages, and there are usually four of them in the attached block projecting from the vise. If more sharpening or shaping needed to be done, the shoe was clamped in the vise jaws, the calk resting on one jaw, and the peen of a farrier's hammer used to further sharpen and shape. "Sharp shoeing" means the the heel and toe calks were wedge-
shaped for traction, especially in the winter months. Nowadays, borium (tungsten carbide nuggets) are welded onto the ground-surface of the shoe for traction. There should be a spring tensioner as part of the clamping device, so when the pedal is depressed, the jaws stay shut.

P.S. English lesson: cowboys often say "cork" for "calk", and in England, "calkin" is the usual term.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 10/17/03 10:31:41 EDT

Price vs. Value of Tools - Whats It Worth?

We get asked a lot about the "value" of tools. Currently most blacksmiths tools on the used market cost much less than new even when replacements are available. However, many blacksmiths tools we think of as standard tools are no longer manufactured OR no longer manufactured to the same quality that they once were made.

What is a good Champion 400 blower worth? To make the same product today with the same cut gears, precision bearings and heavy castings would cost thousands of dollars. Vaughans of England still makes a hand crank blower but it is not of the same quality as the old Champions (for good reason). Centaur and Pieh Tool sell them for about $400. They have aluminium housings and do not come with a seperate stand. Parts MAY be available but neither seller lists them.

New leg vises are currently available in sizes up to about 70 pounds and sell for roughly $7/pound. They do not have the classic lines of the old vises which are selling for around $1 to $2/pound. And they are no longer making the large leg vises over 100 pounds which are currently selling for less than small vices. At current prices a NEW 200 pound leg vise would sell for over $1,000. This is actualy not a bad price but there are too few willing to pay this price.

New full sized coal forges sell for roughly $1,000. So what is that old Buffalo Railroad Forge in perfect working order worth?

Until the recent importation of new cast steel anvils by folks like Euroanvils you could expent to pay $4 to $7/pound for a new anvil. However, the new anvils are cast and there is only one forged anvil available new and that is the Peddinghaus. On the used market there are dozens of brands of forged anvils selling for $2 to $3/pound. Many of these are beat up old things but many are still as good as new (even if a little worn). There will never be another anvil made like a Peter Wright, Mousehole or Hay-Budden. So what are they actualy "worth". As tools at least as much as a new Peddinghaus. As pieces of history? Perhaps more.

In blacksmithing we are in the peculiar position of regularly furnishing our shops with and using tools that in any other trade would be considered rare antiques. Anvils and vices 100 years old are tools, not collector's items or museum pieces. And due to the durability and quantity of these tools their prices have remained far lower than their actual "value". In fact prices have not changed much in 40 years (except on eBay and the ocassionaly spurious sale).

What's it worth? Whatever a buyer is willing to pay.
   - guru - Friday, 10/17/03 13:06:55 EDT

Cool, thanks alot I'll try that!
   - walker - Friday, 10/17/03 16:33:36 EDT

My mistake, the little anvil that I thought was a Vulcan is actually a "VANADIUM STEEL 70" A Sears brand I think. I think I had borrowed a Vulcan, and at some point it got unborrowed and a cast steel anvil borrowed back. It does ring SUPER loud. I have a Trenton, and it is great. Sorry for the mistake.
   ptree - Friday, 10/17/03 17:00:24 EDT

I am blessed in having the tools of my father and his father. My grandfather on my dad's side was a master molder at B.F. Avery and Sons, a Large farm implement mfg here in Louisville. He started about 1905. I have the leg vise that he had to make as part of his apprentice program. My father worked in aluminum extrusion for 43 years, and I have his tools. When my mother passes I will inherit my other grandfathers tools. He was a carpenter and farmer and school teacher from the mountains of Kentucky. You speak of the use of antique tools everyday in blacksmith shops. Not only am I blessed to have antique tools, I get to use some tools that have been in use in my family for three generations. If only I could have inherited the accumulated knowledge of my forebears. Although I almost cringe when I use the leg vise, I think my grandfather would have just said "it's a tool, use it well, don't abuse it, and it will serve you as it served me.
   ptree - Friday, 10/17/03 17:09:42 EDT


I have and use regularly a claw hammer made by my grandfather. The kids all know not to even touch it until I'm gone. Then they can fight over who gets it. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/17/03 17:14:38 EDT

I'm looking for a wire wheel to do some carding for a friend. Needs to be 6" SS, .005 wire. Suggestions where to look, can't be had local.
   - Aksmith - Friday, 10/17/03 17:50:24 EDT

Caulking vise,

I think that you are right about the are that pivots. When I was looking at it I thought that the action of the foot lever looked a little odd to be moving the left arm. That would also acount for the two rods that act as supports.

Funny I had never even heard of a caulking vise before this.

Habu, thanks for posting the picture, that makes the mechanical action much clearer.

Rugg, I have a bunch of large flat springs from semi's about 1 1/2" - 2" thick and 3" - 4" wide. I am thinking about starting a new "little" project.grin


Thanks for the very complete explenation of what a caulking vise was used for. That explains a lot! Also the little impromptu english lesson.

To mabey further explain the existance of the caulking vise in that shop. Frank Ramsby, was at one time the blacksmith for a lodding company. Operating in the middle of the woods, shoeing the giand horses and I am sure making/repairing many a tool for the loggers, I will bet that was a tough crowd.grin

One other thing that he did was train race horses. Do you know if they would shoe race horses with drawn out calks? That may be another reason for him having it. He could have brought it with him from his shop in the loggers camp or it may have all ready been in the shop in Kirkland when he entered the partnership with Frank Wyllys. I will probably never know.

I am begining to think that there may be something about the name Frank and blacksmithing.grin


I have a hammer that Frank Ramsby, my great-grandfather, used for blacksmithing. My grandfather, Alvin "Pete" Ramsby, brazed a metal handle in it. Then I modified the handle with a bunch of tight wrapings of twine(works GREAT by the way, there is no shock) and re-tempered the heads. Being a three pound hammer, I use it more than any other.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Friday, 10/17/03 17:51:03 EDT


I acquired a piece of 7" round bar steel today and sliced out a 17" section for an anvil. When finished it will have a mass about 200# with a 7" diameter face. My machinist friend and I were curious about the consistancy of the bar so we did several comparison spark tests of various other steels he had around the shop. It turns out my bar sparks almost exactly like D2 - the short orangy fuzzy sparks coming off the wheel were so alike my inexperienced eye's could not tell a difference.

Is there another common steel that is as close to D2 which might throw sparks like this. For my purposes does it matter?

If the steel is D2 will it make the proverbial "good" anvil?

If it is hardenable would it be worth finding someone who could harden a 200# piece of steel just to make a better anvil? It's unlikly I will ever wear one out with my limited use.
   Jerry Crawford - Friday, 10/17/03 18:00:46 EDT


I acquired a piece of 7" round bar steel today and sliced out a 17" section for an anvil. When finished it will have a mass about 200# with a 7" diameter face. My machinist friend and I were curious about the consistancy of the bar so we did several comparison spark tests of various other steels he had around the shop. It turns out my bar sparks almost exactly like D2 - the short orangy fuzzy sparks coming off the wheel were so alike my inexperienced eye's could not tell a difference.

Is there another common steel that is as close to D2 which might throw sparks like this. For my purposes does it matter?

If the steel is D2 will it make the proverbial "good" anvil?

If it is hardenable would it be worth finding someone who could harden a 200# piece of steel just to make a better anvil? It's unlikly I will ever wear one out with my limited use.
   Jerry Crawford - Friday, 10/17/03 18:00:46 EDT

Using Antique Tools: As I said, we are in the "peculiar position" of using antiques on a regular basis. It is why I cringe every time a newbie with little or no welding skils, no metalurgical skills or knowlege of the history of our tools asks about repairing an anvil and is ready to torch off the old face or machine the existing one so thin it is useless. . .

Although many of us use these tools daily they will probably out last us as they have outlasted many generations of users before us. That means that like the Earth, we do not own them, we are only temporary caretakers for the next generation.

The wear and tear on these tools is unavoidable if they are used. Anvils DO wear out, threads on vises DO wear out, hammers, swages and tongs DO wear out. But if we do not abuse these tools and maintain them in good condition then our time using them will simply be part of their long history. Oiling, painting, light dressing when necessary, all the simple maintenance items that keep tools in good condition. When a tool is no longer useful we need to look at its age and history long and hard before making a drastic repair. If the tool is old enough to have gracefully worn out then it is very likely a suitable museum piece that should be preserved as such. It will not be too many years before the "worthless" becomes the "treasured". If a tool is one that was produced in large numbers and perhaps still made the same way then that is anothe matter. But quality hand made tools should be treated with great care. These are hard decisions and are often quite subjective.

As I said, we are in a peculiar position as smiths.

So, oil those vises and anvils, repair only when necessary and do not abuse what you are only a temporary caretaker for.

   - guru - Friday, 10/17/03 18:03:52 EDT

Short Orangy Sparks: Jerry, I suspect this could be easily hardened. The sparks sound like they indicate a medium to high carbon steel. It is difficult to determine alloy content by spark test.

A lot of heavy shafting stock is 40 to 50 point carbon. Good stuff for anvils and dies. We had a devil of a time drilling and taping the replacement anvil for Paw-Paw's NC-JYH (broke two taps). Turns out it was 50 point carbon steel in mill run condition. Cheap hardware store taps did not help.

On heavy masses flame hardening is often used. A large fan shaped torch is used to heat the surface. If the surface is heated fast enough (must be oxy-acetylene) the mass below it quenches the part that is heated. This is rather tricky on a wide surface but produces the effect of a hard steel face on a softer core. In some flame hardening a water quench folows the torch as it passes across the surface.

You could also start in the center with a rose bud and work outward. Leave the edges softer (or temper them). Flame hardening is not usualy tempered but it NEVER hurts to temper.

Of couse you COULD heat treat the entire part. Heat treaters in PA are getting 35 cents per pound. IF you think it rings now, it will REALLY ring fully hardened.

7" dia x 17" steel will weigh exactly 185.48 pounds and have a circular area of 38.48 sqin.
   - guru - Friday, 10/17/03 18:26:53 EDT

Caleb, Yes, the toe calks were to be used primarily on the big draft horses, but not necessarily the riding horses. You can see in the photo some fairly large shoes hanging from the ceiling beams. For horse racing, the very light race plates (they don't even call them shoes) were swaged so that the finished shoe had a vee depression running the length of the shoe. The nail holes were punched into the vee. They did have heel calks termed "blocks and stickers" which were hand forged. If toe traction was needed, a swaged triangular-sectioned piece of "needle steel" was curved, fit, and forge brazed into the vee at the toe. Copper was often used as a solder. This furnished a "toe grab", as it projected just below the regular ground surface of the shoe and was relatively sharp. I doubt if the calking vise would be used much, if at all, on a race plate. They are "delicate" compared to a draft shoe, and were usually turned (made) with a wooden or rawhide mallet. Presently, most all race plates are manufactured from aluminum.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 10/17/03 18:49:34 EDT

thanks Guru, I was looking at it after I wrote the above and noted a slight slope to the face that was not perpindicular to the side - small error on slicing on the school saw - good excuse to face off the shaft - but it will work for me. I haven't set it up for striking yet so don't know if it rings. I might follow up for heat treating later - it would be neat to complete the project and producre a real working tool. I calculated the +/- 200# mass weight by combining the steel base collar and the 185# of the shaft. I want to place a 7" ID ring on a slab of wood and set the shaft inside the ring on a cushion of sand. I figure I can regulate the height of the work surface by adding removing sand in the collar under the shaft. In any home hobby shop a heck of a tool. Thanks
   Jerry Crawford - Friday, 10/17/03 19:28:46 EDT

Fisher anvils and bonding steel to castings:

I based a college research experiment on the techique used by the Fisher co and actually to plates of S7 to a local steel foundry to see how much steel (casting ) was necessary to get a bond between the casting and the plate. In my case it did not work because the foundry crew treated my inserts like chills and coated them with parting compound to prevent bonding. However, with 4 inches of steel cast onto a 1" thick piece of tool steel, I was able to raise the temp of the tool steel to 1800+. The trick to getting bonding is to desing the mold so that the casting flow accross the face of the steel washing it clean. Basicly, you create a resivour for left over metal to flow into. Design the mold so that metal enter from the tail end and flow into the horn section. This will clean the plate and help with bonding. Also, I have read that Fisher pre heated his plates to welding temp just before putting them in the mold and casting on them. I do believe it is possible to get bonding w/o out preheating the steel, and unless your plate is much smaller that the casting, you will not melt it. Feel free to email me if you have more Qs. Good luck.
   Pat Nowak - Friday, 10/17/03 19:35:23 EDT

gooday,just trying to find out what sort of clay to use on a japanese sword and what sort of shop would sell it in Australia.
   Troy Fioraso - Friday, 10/17/03 22:03:22 EDT

Are auto. leaf spings good material for forgeing a sword?
If not can you sujest a junk yard item that would be better? I want a working blade that will take a beating
and hold an edge.
Thanks chris
   chris - Friday, 10/17/03 22:03:52 EDT

Usually I don't answer questions, as I'm far from knowledgable enough to even TRY.. but Chris' question is one I'm familiar with ;)


MOST (not all) auto leaf springs are made from 5160.. a medium-high carbon steel with various alloying elements to make for a deeper temper. Problem with them (and ANY junk yard steel) is that if they are in the junkyard it's because they are junk. If you plan to fold the steel or do some sort of pattern welding, the heat and welding involved should fix any damage to the structure, but otherwise you're just asking for trouble. We use junk yard auto springs for chisels and other "Just for us" tools in our shop to cut down on costs.. and we always wear eye protection etc.. not only because it's the right thing to do, but because even a well-forged piece of trash is still trash.. and a crack that's so microscopic you can't see it can make a chisel crack to pieces (sometimes violently) when struck. Imagine the effects that would have on a sword? IF it survives the hardening/tempering/working process.. imagine how bad you'll feel if it breaks while it's being used. Besides that.. 5160 doesn't, in my opinion, hold a very good fine edge.. it's decent for axes and chisels, where there is plenty of mass.. but a fine edge just doesn't hold well when I've tried it on utility knives. Might be that I'm tempering it wrong.. but I'd recommend using something else.. and I ALWAYS recommend using NEW steel to anyone that sees me forging and gets it in their head they can do the same. It's worth the extra money to know you're getting good stuff.

All of that said.. I've seen some pretty nice knives/swords made from junk yard springs.

Just my .02USD. Everything I've said is subject to being completely wrong.

Robert "Asgard"
HPL Steele
   - Asgard - Friday, 10/17/03 23:38:45 EDT

Walker, you are welcome!

Chris, if you are going to go through the work of forging a sword, I suggest new steel. I get new spring steel from a local spring maker/repair place for free. Course, I do drop off a blade blank when I stop by most times too. Most metal workers will be happy to help if you explain what you want to do. I have one crude sword that was forged from leaf spring. Balance sucks and it twangs the hand sometimes, but without post forging heat treat, I can wail on wood chunks as hard as I can without edge damage so far. I wouldn't go into battle with it unless forced, and it won't cut a rice mat, but it is fun. The edge is more like an axe than a fine blade though. grin.

I bought some new crow bars the other week to try making into a sword. No idea what the steel is, so I will just try to match hardness after forging. I couldn't bend them when they were crow bars, but after straightening, they would just bend. So there was some heat treat involved.
   - Tony - Saturday, 10/18/03 00:12:09 EDT

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