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

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from October 25 - 31, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

belt grinders: looking to add one for the shop. will use it primarily for rapid stock removal (tooling, back up tools) and not for finnish work (knives). have decided that 1.5 horse single phase motor is sufficient for my current needs (daydreams?). i have looked at a beldor with a 2X48" belt. it is a two pulley design for about $725, without stand. the burr king comp and wilton are popular with the knife guys. i dont think i need these with my intentions. from what i have read, belt grinders can remove stock as fast or faster than a mill with decent (smith acceptable) accuracy.

thoughts, comments, advise moocho appreciated!!

one more, i am also looking at TIG unit. what work or application would 175 amps not be suitable (8-175)???

   rugg - Friday, 10/24/03 22:29:04 EDT

But Ralph we were going to give him *different* answers this time!

Guru, one of my first jobs at my previous company was checking to see if something that met "our" standards would meet "theirs". Spent a couple of hours getting a conversion from altitude to kilopascals per sq meter. (we spec'd it as working from 300 feet below sealevel to 8000' above, they had it spec'd in kP/M^2)

Thomas who did once work in nanoparsecs per gigayear (as a physics TA *never* tell engineering students they could use any system of measurements they wanted!)
   Thomas P - Friday, 10/24/03 22:36:17 EDT

Hello, I recently acquired a royersford excelsior drill press, and you folks seem to be the only people who have any knowledge of them on the web, so I have a few questions. What is the basic accuracy of this machine? I ran a dail on all of the shafts and quill to make sure nothing was damaged even though there was no visible play and all seems well. On the right side of the gear head is what looks like some kind of power feeder, the belt is intact but looks to be disengaged, if the shaft is slid down to make the belt engage the pully the bevel gear on the bottom of the shaft no longer meshes with the rest of the gear train, am I setting it up wrong or is something missing? Any idea what kind of feed speeds this thing is capable of? Well I think that is about it, I am impressed with this machine, I hope it performs as well as described in your archives. Judging from what you said in that archive I think I got myself a nice deal, by the way your site is excellent and very well laid out. Your forum instructions said to give a bit of history on myself so here goes. I am employed as a heavy equipment feild mechanic, I posess formal training in electrical, electronics, and hydraulics and have dabbled a little with machine work. Thanks for what ever you can provide, sorry if I was long winded. Charlie
   Charlie - Saturday, 10/25/03 00:11:05 EDT

Quenchcrack,Guru - upgrading of ASTM specifications. It's been going on for a long time. When I started at Crucible Steel in 1976 as a Claims metallurgist we consistently got claims from a steel distributor who will remain nameless. They bought quenched and tempered 4140 bar stock from us to standard ASTM tolerances, forgive me but I forget the exact one, then would upgrade it when selling to their customers to a better grade with tighter tolerances for surface decarburization, cracks, seams etc. We constantly got claims from them for steel purchased being out of tolerance. Procedure was the same each time - cut their returned sample, prepare a microstructure sample, measure defect depth, take photmicrographs, 9 times out of 10 prepare the by now standard report indicating that the returned sample met the specification they had purchased it to and that their claim was rejected. Looking back, about half my time and the time of a technician was spent on this process. What a waste, very boring, and probably part of why the steel industry went through bad times in the 80's.
   - GavainH - Saturday, 10/25/03 00:22:39 EDT

I am sorry. I have had a fairly stressfull week and I am letting it show in all my comunications .... (smile) I should have thought a tad and then answered with 'new' info.....
Now we know why I am of the blue and you are of the Orange..... (vbg)
   Ralph - Saturday, 10/25/03 01:17:30 EDT

On dust etc getting in eyes when removing ryr protection. A very large corporation bought the company I had worked at for 21 years, and their corp. safety man issued many safety directives as we were absorbed into their corporation. One was how to remove eye protection. It seems that they owned some foundries, and felt it neccesary to instruct employees to bend over at the waist, and brush out the hair, and wipe off eyebrows etc prior to removing eye protection.I thought that Having to document that I had trained all the employees in this was a bit much, but it seems that I erred on assuming that all know this little trick.
60F and windy with rain on the way in Southern Indiana.
   ptree - Saturday, 10/25/03 08:59:28 EDT

For those having trouble with old drill presse not drilling holes to the size one would expect from the bit used. Most of the old presses have loose spindles, that allow a drill to float around, if the drill is not right. Many of these old drills use morse taper shank bits. Many of us find these drills as used or scrapped items. Often these drills need sharpening. Two things to check to insure a good hole; first check to see if the drill has been bent. lay the drill on a good flat surface with the shank in space,and roll the bit. this will give a good indication of straightness. Next, when sharpening, especially by hand insure that the point is in the center. An off center point will cause the drill to wallow, making an oversize hole. The best way to check center of the point is with a drill gauge. Last, many of the cheaper source now sell twist drills made in China. Often the HSS is ok as far as metalurgy, BUT the point sharpening is very bad. I bought 40 13mm drills from a source that shall go unnamed, but one that I thought would provide US product. The china drills were pretty good as for OD, but had about a 15 degree point, with center off too the eye. The web was about 3/16" thick. These drills made a very oversize hole untill resharpened, with a thinned web. I recently looked at Harbor freight, at drill indexs, and found some items with very good looking split points. The items that were not marked split point were awful.
   ptree - Saturday, 10/25/03 09:13:26 EDT

GavainH: Been there and done that, too. We constantly received tube claims for lack of clean up. Upon measuring, we found that the customer ordered the tube too close to final dimensions. The ASTM specs for machining allowance was seldom taken into consideration when ordering. The customer only saw a way to order hot finished tube to DOM specs, saving him some machining. I found that writing steel purchasing specifications to be a delicate balance between specifying what absolutely must be specified and learning what the vendor will provide, without charge, because it is a normal part of his processes. For example, specifying material from one of Americas best mills for flat rolled steel, if you specify .005 sulfur, you pay extra. If you specify .010 sulfur, you will normally receive the steel at .002-.007 but with no extra charge. It is called "specsmanship". I am sure you have seen purchasing specs from companies with inexperienced metallurgists who specified eveything he could think of just to be sure everything was covered. Then he found out the price of the material went through the roof!
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/25/03 09:53:37 EDT

Royersford Excelsior Feeds: Charlie, the automatic feed engages when you lift the hand wheel raising the feed block and engaging the worm gears AND tighten the clutch in the hand wheel (knurled knob in wheel). There is a latch and trigger mechanism on the front of the spindle bearing block that holds the feed block engaged until the adjustable collar trips the trigger.

SO, you can engage/disengage the feed manualy by the clutch OR automaticaly disengage by the trigger latch mechanism.

If you are not using the automatic feeds then it is best that the feed block is left down so that the clutch and bearing parts do not wear.

All these old drill presses used the same system but ocassionaly the actual hardware varried a little.

The feed rates are for drilling and boring steel and cast iron thus are pretty slow. You would wear out a wood bit waiting for the feed in wood. There are three feed speeds on most machines by changing the small belt position. For most drilling the slowest would be used. For boring the next two are used depending on the shape of your cutter and material. A large round nose tool at a fast feed will produce a fine finish on cast iron but you normaly need a slower feed and smaller radius on steel. Boring on these machines is an art and requires custom made doring bars and outboard bearings. I have seen large diesel engine blocks line bored using one of these drill presses.

These are great old machiines. For some operating hints see our iForge page drilling articles.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/25/03 11:02:46 EDT

Specsmanship: QC, Good term.

Often someone in a "3 bids required" situation wanting a specific brand or preselected vendor simply writes the spec so tight or in such a way as to filter out all others. This is commonly done by government agencies. Sometimes there are good reasons but often it is part of a corrupt system. Then there are situations where it doesn't matter WHAT the bid spec said. . . Specsmanship has a whole different meaning in this case.

Back when our family business used to bid on government jobs we have been the low bidder and most technicaly capable of delivering a job to the required spec as well as being the only bidder to meet the "small business" requirement on a number of jobs. But those knowing how to work the system (or were preselected) often found a way around not being the "winner" and still get the job. After our last government quote we gave up, the corruption was too much.

We had worked for weeks preparing a very detailed bid on a job that was PERFECT for our shop. We were in the right location, had the facility, the manpower and the right talent and experiance. We were the low bidder and it was not a "naive" or "low ball" bid. Instead of awarding the contract to build, the DOT awarded a contract to STUDY the feasablity of the project (the equipment was a proven design) and gave the contract to the only bidder that did not meet any of the bid requirements but had instead quoted to do a study. Nowhere in the bid specs was there a request for a study. . . It was obviously a rigged bid.

The same often happens in private industry. We were once asked to bid on a job in the nuclear industry. It was to provide equipment for performing an inspection task remotely. The "big guys" had refused to quote saying the job was impractical and offered to help paper whip the problem. We turned in a detailed proposal explaining how we would DO the task as requested (and probably for less than the paper whipping). That was the WRONG answer. . . the plant management did not really want to hear that the job could be done. The fellow that added us to the bid list lost his job over it. And oh yeah, since 2 out of 3 said it couldn't be done the one bidder that offered to DO the job (us) did not get the job. . .

Locally I bid to supply some government offices with computers. The first time I lost the bid I complained because the competition did not meet the bid spec and that parts of the spec did not meet what the government really wanted. The spec was rewritten and put out to bid again. The competition came in 20% lower than my "low-ball get in the door" bid! At lunch I saw one of the guys that was close but also did not win the bid and I asked how the heck they could bid so low. The guy said "Simple, computer prices are constantly dropping and we just gambled on how late we could delay delivery". The bid spec included a delivery time but no penalties for late delivery. SO, again, not meeting the bid spec won the day.

On the other hand, when you know that brand "A" is a better product than brand "X" at any cost, then you get the most detailed description of the brand A product that they can muster and put that in your bid request.

Products I would spec that way. . Crayola crayons, Michlin tires, Starett measuring tools . . there are a few others.

But, unless you are buying in quantity or for repeat purchases the process of putting things out to bid can end up costing more than you save by bid the process.

Specsmanship includes the tolerances put on drawings. Many folks do not know how to use the loosest possible tolerance to get the job done and end up paying a lot more for something than they should. On the other hand you can use too loose a tolerance and get parts that do not fit. Detailing drawings is something few people are good at. It is an art as well as something that requires experiance. It is also something that is difficult to do with many CAD systems that want to default to a certain number of decimal places on all dimensions implying accuracy that is often un-needed. Probably the place that requires the most experiance is understanding the proceses AND the people.

We had trouble on a bunch of flame cut rings where we gave a dimension and a tolerance. The parts kept coming in undersize. The tolerance was well within the capability of the supplier. The problem was that the operators did not know how to read drawings and when the dimension said +1/4 - 0. They kept coming in -1/4". The solution was to send cutting requests with NO tolerance. We made allowance for kerf width and just gave a single unqualified dimension. After that there were no more problems. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/25/03 12:33:52 EDT

Please educate me on the real difference(besides price) on real wrought iron vs. steel in the long term. I am interested in real wrought iron for longevity, malleability, etc... Thank you, Sir.
   - andrew - Saturday, 10/25/03 12:35:41 EDT

When did mild steel replace wrought iron in general use?
   Myke - Saturday, 10/25/03 12:45:49 EDT

My thanks to those of you who have helped me with my questions about steel grading and welding rod specs. I'll be picking up a copy of Machinery's Handbook real soon. :)
   Matt - Saturday, 10/25/03 12:53:14 EDT


Early 1900's


Watch for one on eBay. The copies prior to the 18th edition have tong dimensions and other things as well that are of great value to a blacksmith.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/25/03 13:42:31 EDT


There are twenty some copies of Machinery's Handbook on eBay at the moment. Some for as little as $10. There's one 17th edition that appears to be in very good condition.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/25/03 14:59:27 EDT

Longevity of Wrought: First, some wrought IS more corrsion resistant than mild steel. There are a lot of claims that wrought is more corrsion resistant than mild steel but there is little evidence in real world applications to support that claim. There is a lot of corroded to ruin wrought work that is only 100 years old or so. Proponents of wrought point to the the great iron pillars of Delphi, India from 360-400 AD as "evidence". However, these are very massive pieces of wrought that could corrode severely for centuries before significantly dimishing. One pillar shows a section that is damaged some 1/4 of the way through.

Some of the greatest proponents of wrought are the English dealers of the product. However, if you read their care instructions that call for stripping and repainting every 2 years they are not willing to allow ANY chance of corrsion to occur in a product that is supposed to be resistant to corrosion. Properly painted steel can withstand 20 years of weathering without a problem so what is the advantage?

If the extra expense of wrought is put into a good paint system then there is no advantage and in fact long term savings due to reduced maintenance.

Malleability: Wrought and pure iron is highly malleable and can result in labor and fuel savings on highly ornate work. However, wrought comes in a wide range of grades. Fine grained "triple refined" wrought is excellent to work while low grade "muck bar" is terrible stuff that splits and somtimes has serious slag inclusions.
Currently the "new" wrought available is reprocessed scrap. If you are looking for predictable ease of use then pure iron is a significantly better product. Pure iron can cut labor and fuel costs when doing repousse and highly sculptural work, otherwise it is not a justified expense.

Wrought and pure iron are not nearly as strong as mild steel. Therefore designs using them must be heavier to prevent sagging. Wrought has a tendancy to split along the grain so every joint and penetration must take this into consideration.

Since currently there are no retail sources of wrought or pure iron in North America the expense of using either is prohibiitve. Both are available in Europe and there is more demand for the type of work where it is advantageous to use it.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/25/03 17:07:20 EDT

Hi Guys;
I'm just getting interested in blacksmithing & don't know much. I have an old Champion Blower & forge Co. lever-type portable forge.The cast top (about 24" dia.) just has about a 3" hole in the middle coming from the blower, through which my coal would fall down through. I used a piece of wire mesh the first time I fired her up and it didn't stand up very well. What should be there? Thanks in advance for any help.
   Kevin in Nova Scotia - Saturday, 10/25/03 19:46:04 EDT

I run a small ornamental iron shop. Recently, I have working on curved stair railings and am having some trouble. Is there any books that you know of that give instruction on layout and fabrication of curved stair railings?
   Doug Hansen - Saturday, 10/25/03 21:16:31 EDT

Doug, use NAVIGATE anvilfire, 21st century, spiral stairways.
   - ironspider - Saturday, 10/25/03 21:41:18 EDT

Kevin, since you are lacking the commercial grate for this forge, I would suggest you find a piece of 1/4"-1/2" mild steel plate, about 4" square, and drill some 1/4" holes in it. Cheap and replaceable when it does burn out. And, being a clairvoiant, I know you are thinking, "Why not stainless?". Forget it. Not worth the time and money for the small difference in performance.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/25/03 22:33:06 EDT

J Meyers asked about propane cutting torches. The tips are much different but drop into a standard Victor torch and ran $7 to $12 per tip depending on size.
   Coalforge - Sunday, 10/26/03 01:06:36 EST

I echo Quenchcrack, as I have tried 400 series stainless and plain steel for the same replacement grate the you need. I did not notice enough difference to make it worthwhile to use the SS. There are cast iron grates available that last laonger, but a flat peice of steel is often free.
   ptree - Sunday, 10/26/03 07:45:10 EST

Kevin: The grate I made for my portable forge is a piece of 1/4" mild steel plate (ASTM A36 for the metallurgists;-) that I torch-cut to rough size and then torched three narrow slots in. The slots are about 3/8" wide and pretty much cover the surface of the grate. Didn't clean it up at all. I have had much better luck with slotted grates than drilled grates, because in my experience the drilled grates clog fairly fast. The slots still allow air through even when there's clinker, etc. in the way. I also suspect from observation that stuff won't stick to the torch-cutting slag and boogers, etc. that are still all over the admittedly ugly grate. You can safely go to slots as wide as 1/2" without having to worry too much about your coal falling through. Anyway, it takes all of one minute to make. Get plate, draw circle, draw slot locations, torch slots, torch circle, install in forge, done.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 10/26/03 09:53:28 EST

Coal Forge Grates and Blockage: My favorite coal forge was the one I built on my portable blacksmith shop. It had a piece of 1-1/2" pipe for the tuyeer with a fabricated ash dump like I show on the brake drum forge plans.

I tried several grates in this forge. One was a cross shape from 3/8" square bar. It would not stay in place and eventualy burnt up. Another was a stainless plate with large slots, it also burnt up. So, for most of the years that I used this forge I just let the small stoker coal I was using fall through the grate. The amount of waste was surprisingly little as the coal glues together arount the rim of the fire as it cokes and forms larger lumps.

The thing that was important to me was that the tuyeer was easy to clear and keep cleared. I was using a hand operated bellows and a clogged grate or fire is a gigantic waste of time and effort.

Paw-Paw now uses cast iron floor drain grate covers as a grate in this forge. I do not like it and have pulled it out when I was using the forge on a number of occasions but it is his forge now and his choice. The major difference is that Paw-Paw is using the forge for very short demos and ocassional use at home. I used the forge all day every day I was forging.

The cast iron floor drain grate cover is not much different than the OEM grate that came in many flat bottomed rivet forges.

I good friend of mine who has used many tons of coal and does a lot of large forging as well as architectual work also distains clogged grates and the common cast iron grate in many forges that eventualy burn up. His favorite fire pot is a typical truncated pyramid shape with a 2-1/4" or so rectangular hole for the tuyeer. He uses a piece of 1/2" by 3/4" stainless bar bent in a "U" shape with about a 1/2" gap between the bars. The ends of the U shape are bent up slightly to fit the sides of the firepot for about an inch.

This U-bar grate can be rotated to spread the fire on one of two axis, does not clog, is easy to remove for cleaning the firepot and lasts for several years under heavy use.

You will see in the brake drum forge plans that I suggest a similar grate of either a single or double bar depending on the tuyeer size. In a flat bottomed forge you may want to bolt down a U shaped piece or weld tabs on the botton that keep it located in the hole. A single bar can have tabs or be welded in place. The thing to remember is that grates burn out quickly if too light. AND they almost always burn out so they should be simple and easy to replace (make more than one).

About 20 years ago there was a fellow that was the proponent of a grate made of 1/8" stainless steel bars set so that they had about a 1/16" gap between them. He claimed hotter fires, high efficiency and lack of clogging. . . I have neard nothing more of this grate design but it would be interesting to know if anyone is still using it. There seemed to be some obvious problems but the design worked unexpectedly. . . Or maybe is worked for a hobbiest but not under heavy use.

There are two commercial clinker breaker designs for forges. There is the Buffalo (I think) firepot with T shaped clinker breaker. This pot has a grate that has two slots in the sides of the pyramid shaped pot and a single slot at the bottom. This focuses air in the center of the pot making a very hot concentrated fire. The side slots are cleared by a rotating handle in the tuyeer with a "T" shaped piece that pushed debris back into the pot from the sides.

The other more popular type is the ball type clinker breaker. This type has a triangular "ball" that acts as grate, air control and clinker breaker. It is a simmple design that works well. With the point of the triangle UP the fire is concentrated in the center of the pot. With the flat on top the fire is spread right and left. Rotating the ball around lets clinkers fall into the changing opening sizes and be broken up on the way to the ash dump. These are usualy loose sloppy fitting things so there is no chance of geting stuck or failing. The large mass of the "ball" resists heat better than other grate types and burn out is almost never a problem. Kayne and Son sell a fire pot with this type of clinker breaker. It is not difficult to make one of these to fit to your forge.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/26/03 12:05:32 EST

As I was throwing off scrap one day at the scrap yard, the fellow in the pickup next to me tossed off a fire pot. Talk about getting out of a pickup and grabbing! He had cleaned out a barn, and boy did I watch everything else he threw out. The firepot was the only no-scrap item This fire pot did not have markings, but is a trunicated four sided pyramid shape. The large end is about a 15" square, and the clinker breaker is a ball type. The ball has two eyebrow type slots at the od and hole in the center. the opposite side is hollow cupped. Seems to work well, and the price was right. The ash dump is a rotory gate that rotates in the horizontal plane. Any idea as to MFG?
   ptree - Sunday, 10/26/03 16:14:27 EST

The drill point gauge I mentioned is a Starret #22C. There are also less expensive sheet metal types, Sears may also still sell them.
   ptree - Sunday, 10/26/03 16:25:01 EST

The point drill guage Jeff mentioned is absolutely necessary for sharpening large drill bits by hand. It does two things, it gives you a standard angle gauge AND a scale to keep the length of the cutting edges equal. Both are required for the drill to cut an accurate size hole and not to wander. Once the leading edges are correctly ground you can fake the relief behind the edge and get a useful bit. If the edges are unequal you are wasting your time trying to drill a hole.

The most important thing you can do when sharpening drill bits is to compare the shape to a good factory grind. If yours looks significantly different then it is WRONG and you need to keep working on it.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/26/03 17:08:16 EST

Crucible Steel Damascus the newest research on the subject and a forthcoming book by Anna Feuerbach Ph.D. Something for the historical metallurgists to chew on. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 10/26/03 17:13:51 EST

I have been rumaging around junk shops and fea markets and such to resucue tools and such from collectors. I just happen to love to use old tools that are servicable in my smithy. Getting to the point I came across a champion blower
that sits about 4 feet high ,the blower is on the bottom belts (now missing) connect the blower to a large wheel about 20 inches in diameter, which is in turn attached to a geared mechanism that is turned by a crank arm. The blower turns as the gears. the large wheel is frozen. Stand and all is pretty well rusted talked the guy down to $125-
I have never seen one of these before. Are these common? I am hesitant about the price, $75 seems fair> Any input would be apreciated.
   - Ron J. - Sunday, 10/26/03 19:34:48 EST

Guru; I would commend to your attention the study on wrought iron fence wire vs bessemer steel fence wire that is mentione in the Byers book on WI. I would also suggest looking at some english church door hinges that are about 1000 years old and in a climate that is both damp and rather high in chlorine.

However these hinges are not "pristine" objects; they are corroded but I would bet that a mild steel one would have been long gone before them.

I believe that the charcoal smelted iron is more resistant to rust than the coke smelted iron too.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 10/26/03 20:30:22 EST

Workshop flooring question.

In my new shop I've got a wood floor. Any suggestions beyond diligence for fire prevention? I'm thinking that punching biscuits, cut offs etc. could be a problem. What do those of you who work on a wood floor do about this?

   - Tony-C - Sunday, 10/26/03 22:25:53 EST

Anybody that believes in prayer, please remember my Sheri and her mother. Sheri flew out this moring trying desperately to make it to California within the 12 hours that the Dr. gave her mother. She was late, but Evie held on and was still hangin on as of an hour ago. But it won't be long now.

I've got a tremendous amount of respect for that old lady. She inherited a very tough situaion when she married my father in law, and has held up like a trooper. No body could have been a better mother than she was to John's three children, or a better wife for John.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 10/26/03 22:56:21 EST

Ptree---thanks, I found the 22C on the Starrett website this afternoon, looks like a good tool, found some distributors in my area will call in the morning. I think with that gage and my disc sander the drill doctor may be unneccessary......I've not had much luck with tools which depend on plastic.

Paw Paw, they are both in my prayers tonight.
   Ellen - Sunday, 10/26/03 23:47:56 EST

dear guru
I am currently deployed in iraq and am seeking information regarding the steel type of the AK-47 assault riflr. I know there are many makers of this weapon but any information you could supply me with would help out greatly. If one is resourceful out here, he can still find a way to pund some steel. Thank you for your patience.
   armymechanic - Monday, 10/27/03 06:27:13 EST

Paw Paw,

My condolences and prayers go out to Sherri and her mother, and you as well.
   vicopper - Monday, 10/27/03 07:21:38 EST

Belt Driven Blower: Ron, These are an early style blower but were sold for a long time. The advantage they have is there are no gears to wear out in the blower. The disadvantage is that you need to be able to maintain the leather belt (slpices, adjust when stretched).

Since these were not as popular as the all-in-one units they are worth less to blacksmiths and more to collectors. If one part is frozen there are probably other bearings that have rusted shafts that need attention. In working condition (with belt) one of these would sell for $125-$150 USD.

If you MUST have a hand crank blower you can get new English made blowers from Centaur or Pieh tool for about $400. You can also build a nice bellows for the price of a used blower.

I prefer my blowers motorized. A bellows is easier on the arm. But everyone has their preferences.
   - guru - Monday, 10/27/03 09:26:14 EST

Wrought vs. Mild corrosion: Thomas, I am going largely by my own obsevations over 40 some years of fighting rust. In our 200 year old grist mill there are both wrought iron and mild steel parts. Most of the machinery was replaced about 100 years ago and has bare exposed mild steel shafting. During the spring and fall (ocassionaly summer and winter) we have daily condensation conditions that leaves 1/8" of water attached to every exposed metal surface (top and bottom) including my tools and machinery. Rust is a serious problem here.

Of the heavy 200 year old wrought parts most show no more rusting than the later mild steel parts. This includes the 6" mill shafts that are exposed out in the weather.

The steel Fitz water wheels installed in 1918 show varying degrees of rust. Most of the sheet held up well but the spokes have pitting as deep as 1/2" in places. However, these were moving parts with water runing over them the spokes seeing wet/dry conditions. In most cases where there is a tight even layer of rust it is protecting both wrought and mild steel.

Ironwork that I produced in mild steel and did not finish well had various problems in this humid location. One gate that was built a piece at a time and paint slopped on over scale and weld debris was extreamly corroded in about 5 years even though it was repainted a number of times. It suffered from coal plating, flux and oily surfaces creating flaking paint and rust pockets. The gate was removed, sand blasted and given the three coat process paint job I recommend. 20 years later the finish is holding up well and there is NO rust or obvious corrosion. A few touchups and it will easily go 50 years in the same condition.

In the nearby town of Lynchburg I have consulted on the repair of a couple gates and fences made of wrought iron. Both were post Cival war (Federal period) but were made of wrought as is easily observed by the corrosion exposed grain. The exposed fencing is heavily rusted but not damaged beyond repair EXCEPT where leaves and soil had built up along some sections of fence. There the wrought was completely disolved - gone. The large ornate gate I imspected had been pained numerous times. All that was left of a about 30% of the gate was hollow paint shells that would crumble to dust if lightly squeezed. There was no "repairing" these parts they would all have to be replaced. Much of the rest was also in bad condition. Some of the 1-1/4" square frame sections nearly gone.

The problems here were two fold, local acid rain from two foundries and domestic coal heating and a lack of maintenance. In the case of the gate it would have held up better without paint. The wrought MAY have hung in there longer than mild steel but these were parts that were only 125 years old (when I looked at them).

More recently I helped on a bid on one job as well as repair on wrought fencing in Richmond, Virginia. These were also Federal Era (post Civil War) fences. The bid job involved a cast iron fence with wrought fasteners. The cast iron was in good condition except where broken but many of the wrought fasteners had disolved to nothing. The repair job was on a simple fence. Again leaves had blown against some sections of the fence and the corrosion here had completely disolved 4 to 6" of the 3/4" round bars. Another problem was the softness of the wrought had let the fence sag (probably from people climbing on it) in several places to where pickets came in contact with the ground and corroded off. This fence appeared to have only been painted once or twice in its lifetime and held up fairly well considering. However, the entire fence had to be dissasembled and most of the pickets had to be replaced. Luckily they were plain straight pickets. This fence had large cast iron columns which were in VERY good condition showing almost no corrosion problems even where they were in contact with the ground or leaf piles.

Local conditions, design of wrought elements and maintenance are bigger variables than the difference between wrought, pure iron and mild steel. Left bare and exposed to the elements good wrought holds up better than mild steel. However, back when wrought was regularly specified for corrosion resistance the sulphur free charcoal or Swedish charcoal iron was specified.

The local acid rain problem in Lynchburg is almost non-existant now but in many other parts of the world it is worse and the problem more widespread. In many cities bronze sculptures that would otherwise last for millenia are disolving to destruction from acid rain. This change is also a factor when studies of ancient ironwork that was not exposed to acid rain are cited.

Another variable is scale. In some conditions a good tight layer of fairly thick scale protects the iron. This is true in hand forged as well as production rolled steel. However, scale is brittle and rarely uniform. If iron is flexed, scale that is thick enough to protect usualy cracks and flakes. Flaking scale leads to loose paint and rust pockets. Many experts recommend preserving scale on old work. I recommend that all new work be scale free when painted.

Painted and poorly maintained wrought is just as susceptible to complete destruction by the elements. Today, decorative ironwork is more likely to be painted than left bare. The Real Wrought Iron Company (I misquoted above) recommends complete stripping and repainting of their wrought every five years. I think this is excessive and if all iron work was treated this well there would be no discussion about which type is more corrosion resistant as most would never have a chance to be exposed to the weather. A good paint job can easily hold up for 20 years or more. Don't believe me? Look at how many 20 year old automobiles are on the road with original paint and 95% rust free. The places rusted through are almost always in doors and fenders where debris has accumulated and moisture retained (just like the leaf piles on the wrought iron fences). Or the example of my gate above.

A good first class paint job with hot or cold galvinizing makes these differences not worth discussing. However, bad paint jobs are highly deterimental to both wrought and mild steel. There are several reasons for using wrought or pure iron in decorative work but I do not think corrosion resistance is one of them.
   - guru - Monday, 10/27/03 11:38:20 EST


Sheri's mom passed away at 0830 PDT this morning. Now Sheri has to deal with the usual after work, then she'll be coming home.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/27/03 12:18:31 EST

Wood Shop Floors:
Trotting Cracks - The Forge - Early American Farrier Shop with horses being shod, blacksmith at the forge heating a horseshoe, customer looking on and young boy watching the farrier.
Trotting Cracks-The Forge, Currier & Ives

These were more common than you would think. Donald Streeter author of Professional Blacksmithing had a shop with a wood floor. The image above and photos we posted of Caleb Ramsby's Grandfather's shop had a wood floor and I have visited numerous old shops with wood floors.

In the Ramsby shop photo it is obvious that sand has been spread on the floor around the anvil. This was a farrier shop where horses often did their business on the floor too. Spreading sand and cleaning the floor were probably regular chores. In many shops with coal forges ashes covered the floor in the forge area.

In Streeter's shop the floors were painted and tin was nailed down immediately around the anvil. A good coat of epoxy paint should add to the fire resistance of the floor but other paints may not help other than reducing rough raw wood surfaces that ignite easily.

The biggest problems with wood floors is stray sparks from welding and grinding and the floor soaking up oil around machinery. In a clean shop with finished walls tight to the floor sparks may not be a serious problem. But in a debris filled shop (like mine) or where the walls are not finished and sparks can bounce into hollows and crawl spaces where there may be rotted wood, flamable debris, mouse or insect nests the situation is very different. You must judge these things yourself OR get someone else to review your structure for fire hazards. Oil soaked floors may catch fire when a clean bare floor would not and the fire spread much more quickly.

I have an indoor shop in our 200 year old mill that suffers from the worst of all the fire hazzards above. The wood is old, dry, rotted, exposed underneigth, oil soaked in places. . . The only sparks I make in that shop are those of a small bench mounted grinder. I do no welding, snag grinding or anything with an exposed flame in that area. All spark making activity is done outdoors or in the new shop.


1) Treat the bare wood with a borax solution. Borax is used as the flame retardant for cellulose insulation and should add some resistance to your wood. Fiberglass insulation under the floor and in wall spaces is a great fire retatardant.

2) Be sure the walls of your shop are tight to the floor. If they are unfinished consider finishing the bottom few feet to half way up. Sheet rock is a significant part of the fire rating of walls, ceilings and floors. Sheet metal flashing along the bottom foot or so will also help. Bend a corner and nail to the floor as well as wall.

3) Cover the floor under your anvil with sheet metal (galvanized flashing).

4) Paint the floor with epoxy paint. This adds fire resistance and prevents oil from soaking into the floor.

5) Keep your shop clean and debris free.

6) Keep a fire watch for at least an hour after doing anything that might cause a problem.

In the old shops they just picked up biscuits or knocked them over into the ashes under the forge. Modern arc welding and grinding sparcks were not a problem. But a fire watch may have been part of a normal day even though it was not called that. That time is spent putting out the fire, putting tools away, organizing and getting the shop in order for the next day.
   - guru - Monday, 10/27/03 12:36:46 EST

My condolences to you and Sheri. We are still praying.

   Ralph - Monday, 10/27/03 12:49:50 EST

Great advice,

The shop is too small for me to allow debris to build up. So that should be ok. The walls are plywood and are painted, tight to the floor. Adding the flashing under the anvil and around the walls is a great idea as is the epoxy paint.

Got the work bench built, the leg vice mounted and the drill press mounted this weekend. Next step is shelving/racking under the workbench, bringing the anvil into the shop and building my new coal forge and new propane forge. Yay!

Thanks Guru.
   - Tonc-C - Monday, 10/27/03 12:56:18 EST

Paw Paw,
As a person of faith, I know you find comfort but the pain of loss is real. Hope you and your wife find the time and space to grieve. You will be in my prayers.
   PapaDoc - Monday, 10/27/03 13:32:08 EST

The thing to remember about corrosion is that it is a galvanic reaction, requiring an anode and a cathode. If the size of the cathode is the same as the anode, you get a broad, general corrosion. If the cathode is much larger than the anode, you get pitting of the anodic areas. A poor paint job can perforate steel faster than no paint because the holidays (gaps) in the coating focus all of the corrosion to take place in the small anodic gaps. Buried pipelines are coated with sophisticated fusion bond epoxies, wraps, polyethylene but when they are buried, they still assume a coating efficiency less than perfect and apply sacrificial anodes or cathodic protection systems to protect those tiny flaw and keep them from becoming pits. To make life interesting, galvanic cells can be created by contact between dissimilar metals, differential exposure to water and/or air, or just differences in microstructures. Read the story "The Iron Dreams" on www.iforgeiron.com. Rust. That is what iron does for a living.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 10/27/03 13:40:17 EST

Tony, be careful of the epoxy fumes in a closed space. No problem once set.

Debris can be sneaky. . packing materials (coming or going). . . trash in a can, paint or oily rags not in a fire proof can with lid. . .

You will probably want a foundation or extra bracing under where your anvil goes. In my "old" shop I had columns and jacks under each piece of heavy machinery.

This system included a couple of heavy wood beams (rough 6x8's) under the floor joists supported on several screw jacks.

When power hammers are put in shops with wood floors the floor is usualy cut out and a concrete column poured to set the hammer on. In some places they used piles. The 250 pound Little Giant I had came from a maintenance shop on a dock made on wood pilings. The hammer had its own seperate set of pilings that exceeded the area of the bottom of the hammer.

Blacksmiths worked in wooden ships too. Now THAT is a fire hazzard!
   - guru - Monday, 10/27/03 14:39:18 EST

Paw Paw, I'm so sorryfor your loss.
   smitty7 - Monday, 10/27/03 14:42:18 EST

Wood floors and support.

Yep, in my little shop the building is on skids. When I set the building in place I ran railroad ties acroos the skids. Mistake! That just creates large "bouncy" areas. I'll be jacking it up and running the ties in between the skids. This should adequately support the floor and the work going on above the floor.

While we are talking about railroad ties, have any of you used them to build stake blocks, stands for grinders etc. Other than the obvious fire hazard of the creosote any other challenges?
   - Tony-C - Monday, 10/27/03 15:12:24 EST

Jim, my heart goes out to you and Sheri.
   adam - Monday, 10/27/03 15:53:52 EST

Paw Paw: My sympathy to the wif and family. Sounds like she lived her life well, which always makes the best funeral feast. My prayers are with y'all.

Floors & Ships:
The nearest I came to burning down my forge was when a stray coal bounced into a mouse nest behind a spare stump by the forge. It was on some of the remaining wooden floor in that area, and I had a fun time making sure everything was dead out after I discovered it. Glad it didn't happen just before I was leaving!

Whaling ships, which not only had a forge, but a galley and a try-works to boil down the blubber into whale oil, were notorious for being covered with grease and oil. (And roaches, which ate the grease and oil!) It's a wonder that more of them didn't go up in flames, especially with the casks of oil stowed in the hold.

Mild and rainy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks; New Bedford Whaling comes to mind: www.nps.gov/nebe/

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 10/27/03 16:00:12 EST

Ptree, Starret 22C drill Point Gage sells for $34.32....a bargain! Thanks for you help, its UPSing its way to me.
   Ellen - Monday, 10/27/03 16:03:21 EST

Paw Paw, my sincere condolences. Hopi Prayer headed your way via e-mail.

   Ellen - Monday, 10/27/03 16:10:45 EST

Recently I found several scrapped scraper edges for plow blades and they seemed to be made of harder steel than the other scrap steel in the pile (the other steel dented when banged against the scrapers). I looked up some plow manufactures on the web for info but the best I could find is that the industry standerd seems to be "high carbon steel". There are no specific markings on the scrapers themselves and so I am at a loss to figure out exactly what kind of steel I have beyond "high carbon". Without better info I am not sure how best to heat treat this material. Any help you can give me here would be most appreciated.
   - Wade Adkins - Monday, 10/27/03 16:47:32 EST

Guru, two questions, with a goal of reducing energy costs and/or emmissions:

1. You have said "In this era (again) of rising fuel costs we should ALL think recuperative forge (year round)." ANY DETAILS OR SCHEMATICS OR 'STORE-BOUGHT' HEAT EXCHANGERS???

2. "There are alternatives (to coal forges) … gas and oil. Both require special forges and burners. Propane is very popular due to its availablity and cleanliness. Forges are relatively inexpensive”" ANY DETAILS OR SCHEMATICS OR 'STORE-BOUGHT' FORGES??

   Tom Knox - Monday, 10/27/03 16:55:06 EST

I'm looking for a fireplace tool but I don't know it's name. It is cylindrical in nature about 4-5' long made of brass or copper and it is used to stoke fires by blowing in to it. what is the name and any suggestions as to where I might purhcase one. THANKS!
   Sandy - Monday, 10/27/03 17:15:29 EST

Recupretive forges: Tom, Currently there is only one recupretive forge plan available and that is the one from ABANA. There are no commercial recupretive forges that I know of. Blacksmith forges are specialized enough and come in so many configurations that no off-the shelf heat exchange unit would be practical if available. This is something that must be part of the forge design.

To make a recupretive burner you simply need to take heat out of the exhust and feed it into the burner intake. The exhust from a gas forge is very hot so the heat exchanger does not need to be very efficient. This requires two things, the exhust to be vented through a thin wall pipe, preferably made of stainless steel and for that to have a shell around it OR a tube passing through it that that heats the intake air and feeds it to the burner assembly. It is imperitive that you DO NOT recycle exhust fumes into the forge. The result is a high degree of carbon monoxide.

To do this all efficiently the entire forge configuration must be designed around the heat exchanger. The burner must also be designed to take the extra heat.

We have plans for a simple gas forge burner on our plans page and links to other sites and articles from there.

Commercial backsmiths forges are available from almost all our advertisers. See:

Blacksmiths Journal - In-house small Forge
Centaur Forge - various
Kayne and Son - Forgemaster
Pieh Tool Co. - various
Wallace Metal Work - NC-TOOL FORGES
   - guru - Monday, 10/27/03 17:41:47 EST

Rifle Barrel Poker: Sandy, At one time someone took an old worn out octagon rifle barrel and made a fireplace poker out of it. The fact that it was hollow meant that you could blow through it to help start a new fire from a few embers or flint and steel. During the bicentenial when all things early American were in vogue reproductions of these made from pipe were popular. Originaly there was probably only ONE in some book of antique iron. . . Unless you live in a primitive survival situation and fire equals life then it is a rather awkward oddity. I have never seen one in brass but someone may have made one that way. . .

If its not a "rifle barrel poker" then its a "blow pipe".

Almost any of our regulars here could make you one.
   - guru - Monday, 10/27/03 17:50:40 EST

Scraper Blades: I dont know but I would guess they are similar to grader blade steel (perhaps even are grader blade steel) from which I have made tools. My experience is that grader blades work like a medium carbon steel and do fine when quenched in oil.
   adam - Monday, 10/27/03 17:53:27 EST

Junk Yard Steel Time for a FAQ. . .

Your grader of scraper steel could be ANYTHING. Manufacturers use the steel specified by their engineer or metalurgist and different manufactures may use a different steel for the same thing. THEN the manufacturer may find a cheaper steel or the specified steel may not be available and a different steel may be used than what was originaly speced. . . So any suggestion that item "A" is steel "X" is just a guess. Lists of Junk Yard Steels are only old recomendations that may or may not have been followed and my have changed dozens of times.

SO, when you use any Junk Yard Steel (JYS). .


This means that you must learn how to identify steel by testing and trial and error. There are several tests that you can perform in the small shop.

Test #1, The Spark Test. Using a bench grinder with a clean wheel grind a sample with moderate pressure. Different carbon content results in different spark patterns. Wrought iron has long non-branching sparks with large nodes. Mild steel has long branching sparks with smaller nodes. As the carbon content increases the sparks get fuzzier and fuzzier. A few alloying ingrediants effect the sparks in a way that is identifiable but most do not. Many welding and blacksmithing books have spark sharts but the best thing to do is to take several known samples and compare them.

Test #2, Heat Treating. Anneal a sample. Test its softness. If it did not anneal then it MAY be a high carbon high alloy steel. If it annealed dead soft it is probably a low alloy carbon steel less than 95 points carbon.

Harden a sample and break it. Was the material very brittle? Did the grain have a fine grain? Did the steel bend any before breaking? If the steel breaks without bending and has a fine grain then it is a hardenable steel between 40 and 100 points carbon.

Now, take the same sample and temper to a straw yellow. Test the hardness using a file. Try the break test again. Then temper again hotter, and hotter again. Test the hardness and brittleness.

This will not tell you what kind of steel you have but it WILL present hints and help you learn to know how to heat treat the piece of JYS. You need to understand heat treating and this is one way to learn the practical aspects.

There are other tests. The experianced shop hand can often identify one common alloy from another by color. Wrought iron has grain that can be exposed by breaking. Some steels air harden and other oil. The more you know about steels the better chance you have at guessing what kind of steel you have.

Don't like all this trial and error? Don't want to study the many references on heat treating and steel compositions? Don't like to GUESS? Then buy new steel.
   - guru - Monday, 10/27/03 18:34:28 EST

My condolences.
   ptree - Monday, 10/27/03 18:58:41 EST


Peter Goebel at Goosebay workshops http://goosebayworkshops.tripod.com makes one simular to what you describe. It is called a barrel bellows. He does very good work and if that is not exactly what you were wanting, he does do custom work. You would just have to contact him and ask.
   Myke - Monday, 10/27/03 19:01:59 EST

If no one has advised you on drill sharpening, Light grinds, and lots of dipping in water to keep the hardness. Do not grind to get a color in the steel at the edge. It is easier to practice on bigger drills say about 3/4" if you have one to spare, Grind at the edge, and rotate and twist for relief at the same time. Both edges must match in the distance to the point from the OD. Both angles must match. Try in some soft steel, you should get even shavings from both edges. Sounds kinda hard, but once you do it right a couple of times you have a life long skill.
Good luck.
   ptree - Monday, 10/27/03 19:03:25 EST

Paw Paw My condolences for Sheri's and your loss. My Mother-in-law and I had a really wonderful relationship before she died, and I am glad we both expressed it to each other verbally. Glad you did too.
   - John M. - Monday, 10/27/03 19:48:23 EST

I have been experiencing considerable frustration with self closing gate hinges, everything made commercially is either butt ugly or made of plastic, and butt ugly. I have heard of hinges with a lift machined into them which causes a gate to swing back on it's own. Twice I have designed and attempted to make such a thing myself and not had any success. I ended up putting butt ugly spring on, make me wince when I see them. Any help along these lines would be totally appreciated.
Kirk out
   Kirk McNeill - Monday, 10/27/03 20:07:15 EST

About the recuperative forges:
At my school's glass shop, both our melting furnaces use recuperative burners. I am still learning exactly how these work but they use some sort of commercially available stainless steel heat exchanger in the chimney (I've inspected a scrapped one, very interesting). This system has the potential to be scaled down and used for a forge... if you're doing large industrial forgings you might not even need to scale it down. I'm still looking for sources and designs using these heat exchangers, but if I find out I'll post about em.

Got my first cross-peen hammer on Saturday... sure seems like it'll be handy, gonna try it out tomorrow. (VBG) O how the little things quickly become amenities!

Sunny and mild in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Monday, 10/27/03 20:16:09 EST

Any idea of how well the recuperative forge built fromplans from ABANA works? I think I'm ready to move up from my pipe forge from ABANA plans.
Dark, 50F or so and rain forecast in S. Indiana
   ptree - Monday, 10/27/03 20:36:22 EST

To all interested in burners, recuperators, etc. a good reference is the North American Combustion Handbook - Volumes 1(Combustion,Fuels, Stoicchiometry, Heat Transfer, Fluid Flow) and 2 (State of the art information on combustion systems and their components ISBN for volume 1 0-9601596-2-2. It's a bit dated now unless they've issued the 4th edition. My copy of volume 1 of the 3rd edition was printed in 1986. It's published by and available from NORTH AMERICAN Mfg. Co. a manufacturer of industrial burners and other furnace equipment. Used it quite a bit when I was a field engineer for industrial gases, and played with oxygen assisted combustion on a commercial scale - things like adding rocket burners to increase melting rate in eletric arc furnaces or oxygen/waste oil burner to do the same in a cement kiln.
   - GavainH - Monday, 10/27/03 21:25:24 EST

Thanks for the helpfull tips. Now I have an other question:
Will a small handheld oxyacetylene torch generate enough heat to form a helmet?

   Jurgen Schultz - Tuesday, 10/28/03 04:51:55 EST

Paw Paw - Sunday was Mother-in-law's Day. I sent mine the card and poem, To a Wonderful"Second Mom". You can find it on BlueMountain.com . Sound's like your relationship with your's...Ron C
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 10/28/03 08:22:14 EST

Jurgen the torch will generate too *much* heat in too small a location. They are designed to melt metal (weld) in a limited zone where what you want is to heat it in a large zone.

You can get a heating tip called a rosebud; but you need a fairly good system to use them as their acetylene draw is fairly high.

I'd look into getting a oxy-propane or even just build a propane forge---you'd save your investment in gas costs in your first piece!

I forged the pieces for my spangen helm using coal and charcoal forges.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/28/03 09:13:18 EST

Self Closing Hinges: Kirk, Our iForge #90 hinge demo covers the standard types. Gates can also be made self closing simply by putting the axis of a pair of hinges at a slight angle toward the closed position. Then opening the gate/door raises it slightly and gravity returns it.

THEN there is the famous cannon ball type used in Colonial Williamsburg. Attached to the gate is a chain with a weight in the center. The weight rests on the ground when the gate is closed and is lifted when the gate is open.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/28/03 09:44:15 EST

ABANA Forge: Jeff, It is expensive and complicated to build. I've also been told that there is a lot to figure out on your own. However, this complaint about plans often comes from folks that expect detailed production drawings of a product.

I have seen ONE of these forges in operation and it was a half forge (single burner). It worked well and was extreamly frugal but I am not sure it achieved a full heat. But that may have been due to scaling the forge down. I have seen other in various folks shops that had been abandonded for one reason or the other (after a LOT of work).

I have been working on a recupretive forge plan but have not been completely happy with it and will want to build it before foisting the design on others. BASICALY, it uses an open front design with a stainless stack above the front. Passing through the vent horizontaly is a lens shaped tube corners going with the flow. It was to feed a burner on the side of the forge sloping downward. Picky sheet metal work here.

The alternate was the same arrangement except that the air was taken out of the center of the horizontal tube and feeding BACKWARDS into a burner over the top of the forge. In this design the intake is the two ends of the lens shaped pipe. The tricky part on this one is that the T must be welded and gas tight so that exhust fumes are not sucked into the intake.

My current problem is that twice when I have made burners with turns in the feed tubes they did not function properly. I THINK the problem was that I was using pipe and fittings and the steps caused turbulance in the wrong places. The solution is bent tube or weld fittings but this means another experiment. Both designs used venturi burners. I am still looking for a clean simple mechanical arrangement that is easy to build. The Holy Grail of forges.

To build a recupretive furnace or forge (solid, liquid or gas fuel) using a blown burner you force the air INTO the heat exchanger so the fan stays cool. A friend built a big heat exchanger for his gas forge one winter when he could not get a decent welding heat. Worked great BUT the heat exchanger was built from a steel drum and stove pipe. It was good for one season before the coal smoke disolved it.

Recupretive burners increase efficiency and operating temperature. All the heat energy that is captured is heat energy that is not needed to heat ambient air in the combustion process.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/28/03 10:08:18 EST


Good Thought!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/28/03 10:27:46 EST


The messages of condolence are much appreciated. I'm printing them out for Sheri to read when she comes home.

Many Thanks!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/28/03 10:30:55 EST


On Deepdale Farm - www.deepdalefarm.co.uk - on the beautiful North Norfolk coast, we have an old smithy building. We would like to restore the building and find a blacksmith/artist to work from there.

If you are interested then please let me know.

Jason Bortwhick
   Jason Borthwick - www.deepdalefarm.co.uk - Tuesday, 10/28/03 11:30:58 EST

Good Guru,
I am looking for "the rhymes and reasons of blacksmithing"-a collection of poems and songs/rhythms to help a smith remember stuff.
I'm told that it is of English origin. I guess they are along the lines of: "if a keen edge a smith will win, then she must forge thick and file thin"
Can you help?
Thanks in advance,
   Wendy - Tuesday, 10/28/03 12:05:03 EST

Rhymes: Wendy I have never heard of them but someone else may.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/28/03 12:39:01 EST

Paw Paw,

As the watchers of time, look for the reasons and signs,

The flowers of the dieing, cry for the towers of nigh,

Then entering through the portal of time, acording not just to their kind,

They look forward to the Lord, breaking free from the horde,

Then entering to the afterworld, they speak every word,

For the crying and toiling, has been left on this world,

Now for the future of them, for uncountable years they shall never fear,

They shall rejoice and reflect, towards the sight of their one and only pere.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 10/28/03 13:05:53 EST

Recupretive forges,

The latest solid fuel forge that I built has a provision for a heat exchanger in the design(my own). I have not utilized that aspect of the forge as of yet. What I will be using for the heat exchanger is a bunch of 4" diameter aluminum ducting from dryers. This is about 1' 6" above the fire and I can usually keep my hand in the exhaust stream that high above the fire. Partly because the forge is outside with colder and colder air. One of these days I will get that going. I will be using a 3/4" diameter copper pipe close to the connected to an open container of water to generate steam to help the heat make it up to the exchanger.

One other type of heat exchanger that deserves recognition is that of a rotating ribed thin sheet type. It is constructed with many very thin sheets of steel that are ribed to induce a more turbelant flow. These sheets are attached parallel to a shaft. This is then put into a large pipe. There is a divider on the top and bottem of the sheet metal/shaft welded to the inside of the large pipe, parallel to the sheets of stell that provides for a passage of air on one side and exhaust on the other. The heat exchanger assembly rotates and so doing heats up in the exhaust stream and then cools off in the fresh air stream. This type of heat exchanger howerver is not simple to construct as you can most likely see. There also needs to be a tight seal at the top and bottem of the rotating heat exchanger so that the exhaust and fresh air are kept on their sides of the divider.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 10/28/03 13:28:51 EST


What can I say besides "Thank you!"?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/28/03 15:03:06 EST

Just a note of thanks for taking the time to answer my question. After reading all the posts around it it seemed a little trivial amongst all the technical information being exchanged. But I will pass the information to my husband and maybe he can get my little girl fixed up with a bit for her pony. Again,thank you so much for your time.
   yldchild - Tuesday, 10/28/03 16:08:37 EST

just a note, after reading my last post I realized it sounded like i said your answer was trivial, but i meant my question seemed trivial in this forum. iwanted you to know i appreciated you answering MY trivial question. Your answer was very helpful.
   yldchild - Tuesday, 10/28/03 16:13:15 EST

If I may be so bold, but as far as I am concerned it was not a trivial question. Do not let the technical overload here scare you. I assure you I do not let it scare me....(grin) But this is a web site that Guru made for ALL metal workers no matter what level of skill or knowledge. So we get machinist type questions, farrier questions, foundry questions etc etc. Any hoo if the question is never asked then learning will never occur.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 10/28/03 16:18:22 EST

Iam looking for a clinker tong which is used to remover clinkers from older coal furnaces. I think it would be about 6ft long,like a rod inside of a pipe which is turned by a handel which closes the tongs to grab clinker and remove. Thank you for your help!.
   Bill Kingston - Tuesday, 10/28/03 17:58:23 EST

I am inquiring on behalf of an "older" blacksmith who manufactures cutlery amongst other things.

he is restoring a mechanical hammer and he is looking for parts, diagrams, drawing specification, parts etc.
The brand of the Hammer is a "Hawkeye" from the Hawkeye MFG Co, in Cedar rapids in Iowa. The hammer was patente3d in 1903.

We would appeciate any help we can get in obtaining any of the above mentioned parts or documents.

Kinds regards from downunder in Ballarat ( as in goldrush) Australia.

Terry Charlton
   Terry Charlton - Tuesday, 10/28/03 18:32:09 EST

I've used the ABANA recuperative forges a couple times and been impressed with them. Enough so to order a set of plans. In my opinion the plans are very good. There may be some anomalies hidden in there somewhere, but they're not glaring. I had heard the same thing, which is why I started to essentially redraw them, to check everything out. That's been in progress for quite a few months now... With all the talk of power hammers and other junkyard creations, I'd think these plans might be a little more detailed than most of the folks here are used to working with.

   Steve A - Tuesday, 10/28/03 18:43:11 EST

kirk out, consider looking at the blacksmith's journal for ideas on hinges, latches, ect...mr hoffmann is an outstanding illustrator and the journal is excellent. he is also an advertiser on AF, which is cool too. i am sure the gurus and contributors have good advise and stories...pending

mr caleb, you did not report what you did with the leaf spring; i am curious to know. i forged another bending fork this past W/E, more for hammer control practice and technique. turned out nice. this time, i wont try to bend cold stuff with it.

JPPW, my condolances....
   rugg - Tuesday, 10/28/03 20:35:28 EST

I am looking for stoker coal or the best coal for forging in my area which is Marietta, Ohio. I can go to West Virginia or Ohio. I would appreciate any help on a name and location for good coal. Thanks, Betsy
   Betsy - Tuesday, 10/28/03 20:56:28 EST

To Bill Kingston: SO THAT'S WHAT THAT THING IS! I might have what you're talking about, only mine is no more than 4' tall, if that. It has two curved (tongs/teeth?) facing one way, and one that swings /pivots around the other way to meet/grab things. I don't know what it's worth, I'm sure I didn't pay much, I just like to see things end up where they're appreciated. I don't know if I should post my e-mail address, or what, I reside in East Tennessee.
   James Donahue - Tuesday, 10/28/03 22:06:15 EST

PawPaw -Sincere condolences on the loss of your mother-in-law. Even when you expect the loss and know in your heart that it's near, nothing totally prepares you for it. The only thing that helps is time, and the little things that trigger good memories of time shared with the one you lost.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 10/28/03 23:43:16 EST


Sorry about that, I obsess in phases.

I plan on trying to make a small caulking vise out of the large leaf springs. I have not sat down and designed it yet, so it will probably be a while until I get to that one.

I have made a curious bending fork that for bending on the diamond. It is made of 1/2" square stock and 4 of 3/4" balls. There is the regular U on the end of the fork that you put the stock in, this one was made for 1/2" square stock. I welded two balls beside each other on the inside of each "prong" of the bending fork, then did the same to the other "prong". You put the stock in between the pocket that the four balls make and start bending, the gap between the balls makes sure that the edges don't get mared. I will post a photo on Yahoo as soon as I get a chance.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 10/28/03 23:53:01 EST

Re: Horse Bits Couldn't resist. There are limits to knowledge. There are taste cells for sweet, sour, salty, and bitter plus maybe a few others (an onginong battle among taste researchers). But have never heard of a metal sensing system. Wish that I had one to identify silver spoons though. Flip through a horse supply catalog and you'll find bits of aluminum, titanium, etc. in addition to every variations in iron. Stainless steel is simplest but not necessary. If you want pretty, it can be chrome plated. Through history, bits have been made of rope, wood, copper, brass, iron and everything else you can imagine including baling wire and barbed wire.
   - dloc - Wednesday, 10/29/03 00:59:05 EST

I recently saw a caulking vise in the back of a farrier's truck, it was attached to the side of his bench and opperated by a lever the relieved the pressure on a spring when he stepped on it. I made a quick sketch of it on the yahoo Gallery. Simple,Quick and Dirty. The lever was actualy parallel to the jaws unlike the sketch.
   habu - Wednesday, 10/29/03 01:01:49 EST

LeverWrench: Joe Stewart, I assume the Lever Co. is out of business. I also have a "LeverWrench" made by the same folks, orange handled, which is a vise grip that grabs any size within its capacity and holds tight. Does not have a handle end screw to fumdiddle with. It just grabs. The Leversnips are not right or left like aircraft snips. They cut straight ahead and around curves on thin gauge sheet, a pretty good design.

Bit Material: yldchild, The horse's taste buds aren't as developed as a human's, since they eat grass all day and don't tire of it. It's not too important about the mouthpiece finish on a bit, because it is going to move in the mouth and get slobbered on, so it soon becomes bare metal. The copper on a few iron bits is supposed to set up a "galvanic action" to create more moisture in the horse's mouth, according to Robert Hall, author of "How to Make Bits and Spurs". The ol' timers say that a moist mouth provides lubrication for the bit, and makes the horse more comfortable. But there are many bits made without copper.

Wood Floors: I've seen wooden floors in old shops. Where horses were shod, they were desirable. After the foot was trimmed, it was put on the floor to check for level, as level related to the bone column. One of the first jobs an apprentice had in the early shops was to use long pickup tongs to gather all burrs and hardie cut pieces as soon as they hit the floor, quench them and dispose of them.

Rhymes: Wendy, Not sure about rhymes and reasons, but I first heard a saying similar to yours from Peter Ross of Williamsburg, Virginia: "If with a blade you would win, Forge it thick; grind it thin".

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/29/03 08:57:25 EST

Clinker Tongs: Bill, We had one of these with our last coal furnace (about 8 feet long) and I think I have a picture of one in an old industrial catalog . . somewhere.

I tried McMaster-Carr and they did not have it. With the rapid demise of domestic coal burning I suspect this is going to need to be a custom made tool. Either a welder or a blacksmith could make it for you if you have a picture or a sketch.

They were fabricated from 3/4" or 1" pipe with a 5/8" rod inside. The working end had two gripper fingers about 5" long made of 1/2" round on the pipe and a third on the rotating inner bar. The inner bar had a D shaped handle on the user end.

Let me know if you cannot find anyone local to make it. SEE James Donahue's post above. He has one!
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/29/03 09:34:11 EST

Hawkeye Hammer: Terry, Bad news, this is just one of many hammers that were made for a short while and then the manufacturers went out of business. The manufacturer was in business from about 1900 until 1920.

There are a few old advertising engravings of this hammer in the book Pounding Out The Profits (see our book review) but nothing else that would help you unless the hammer is a complete basket case.

The 1903 model had a heavy wood base, wood column and wood helve. The helve wood is critical on this type of machine. It was usualy the finest "New England hard rock maple". This is the same wood that the necks, backs and sides of fine musical instruments are made of.

All one can do with many of these orphaned machines is to study the parts closely and try to repair or replace them as best as possible. Most of these machines had babbited bearings that may need to be replaced.

The maximum operating speed will be somewhere in the range of a Little Giant of the same size. I would recommend about 15 to 20% slower.

Let us know if you need a picture of a complete hammer.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/29/03 09:59:52 EST

Clinker Tongs:
Whaddaya know, I have one of those too! Didn't know what it was, but makes sense as this house used to have a coal furnace. Mine's about six feet long as well. I, too, am in East Tennessee. Small world. These clinker tongs are obviously homemade, with the rod-in-pipe configuration, and with the movable jaws arc-welded on. There was also a portable forge (minus the blower, alas...) in the basement when we bought the place, and I have since learned the previous owner did a little smithing too. Tradition is good!

So, Bill Kingston, where are you?
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/29/03 10:36:03 EST

Guru I was looking in a catalog in a waiting and saw a poker/blower combo listed. 48" in length and cast brass from India. $80USD or so. Just thought I'd add to the question asked previously about such a critter.
   Mills - Wednesday, 10/29/03 10:51:28 EST

i was wondering at what heat is it possible to perform twists.
thank you
emin muil
   emin muil - Wednesday, 10/29/03 10:53:55 EST

Best Coal: Betsy, Coal is infinitely variable. The best is rated by the mine and often the specific shaft. But even then there are varribles. The best thing to do is check with local blacksmiths and ask them where they get their coal.

You will hear folks recommend Pochahantus coal. Note that the Pochahantus seam stretches from WV into PA and is quite variable. Most is good but not all is the best. There used to Pochahantus BRAND coal that was identified by little tin tags mixed in the coal.

A lot depends on how much coal you need and how you are going to transport it. There are many places where you can buy coal by the dump truck load but not in smaller quantities. If you need it bagged and shipped that is different.

Try the link to the Penn State Coal Sample Bank and Database

Search by state and caloric output. When I searched OH the top coal was a little high in sulphur. You also need to know that the coals include anthricite and sub-bituminous. Generally you want a bituminous. I suspect that it needs to be #4 or #5 below. . but I am not sure.

4 lvb low volatile bituminous
5 mvb medium volatile bituminous
6 hvAb high volatile A bituminous
7 hvBb high volatile B bituminous
8 hvCb high volatile C bituminous
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/29/03 11:28:27 EST

Twist Temperature: emin muil, With the right equipment you can twist mild steel and wrought iron of any size cold. In stock up to 1/2" (13-14mm) the vast majority of long twists are done cold either in special twisting machines, converted pipe threading machines OR home built machines. I have seen 2" (50mm) square mild steel twisted cold.

In the small shop without heavy machinery hot twisting is easier. Any temperature where the steel/iron is incandencent (shows color) makes it easier to twist. Wrought should be twisted hotter than steel to prevent tears. The hotter the easier. However, it is easy to twist steel in two if at a high yellow or is burning. So any red to orange heat (1200 to 2300°F - 650 to 1260°C) is best.

At a low red small stock such as 1/4" (6-7mm) square can be twisted in light tongs. At a high orange the same stock can be twisted bare handed (holding the cool ends).

At a medium red to orange 1/2" (13mm) square can be twisted with tongs but a vise helps. At a low red you need good a fitting twisting wrench. At a high orange to yellow you can easily twist this size mild steel in tongs.

3/4" (19mm) stock and above need to be clamped in a vise and a good fitting twisting wrench used at any heat less than a bright orange when hand twisting.

If you have a lot of twists to do in large bar then you might want to build a twisting bench. This is simply a adjustable length support with a clamp (small vise, vise grips, screw) at one end and a support hole (bearing) at the other. A twisting wrench is used just outside the support hole. The advantage of a twisting bench is that it keeps the bar straight while you twist and makes it easy to judge heat lengths and count twists. It should also provide a quick easy method of holding and supporting the work, thus improving your efficiency.

Sleet or hail falling from a partialy cloudy fall sky in central Virginia. . Had a brief thunderstorm a few days ago. Odd weather.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/29/03 11:58:50 EST

I've searched the Internet and this site and really haven't found exactly what I was looking for.

Can one build a reasonably usable forge from a commercial weed burner like the Harbor Frieght one? I saw photos of one guys, but he used a 20 gal drum, which seems quite large. Most weed burner designs build their own burners. I'm looking for something quick and easy that will work to get started on small stuff. Preferably something that can be set up and taken down easy and be cheap and quick to build. I already have the burner and tank, etc. so all I should need is the firebox design. Most with gas weed burner type designs seem to be a horizontal pipe with the burner feed in on one side or one end. Fire brick would likely work, but would take longer to set up and take down. Also it is quite heavy and expensive for new brick. Don't need to weld as would use O/A, Stick, or Mig for that. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
   Dale - Wednesday, 10/29/03 12:22:43 EST


I'm a science producer with the Canadian Discovery Channel. I'm currently researching for a program on Samurai swords and could use your help. I'd like to produce a story about how samurai swords are made. I have two ways I can produce this story....The first would be to find an english speaking swordsmith in Japan that could take us through the process of making a sword. Do you know of any? My second would be to find a swordsmith in North America that has knowledge of this craft and can take us through it. Do you have any suggestions for both? Please respond to my above email. Thank you very much for your time.
Kelly McKeown
Discovery Channel
   Kelly McKeown - Wednesday, 10/29/03 13:40:49 EST

Dale, I have used the Harbor Freight weedburner quite often as a temporary heat source in various configurations. I have used a 5 gallon metal bucket, lined with Kaowool, laid on its side, with the burner tip inserted through a hole cut on the tangent. Don't discount the usefulness of a pile of firebrick. It doesn't have to be brand new stuff. You can make your forge/furnace in any configuration you want, from something long and narrow, (for the obligatory sword) to a simple cube shape of just about any size, say, for the heat treating of small hand and anvil tools. If you're gonna be a smith, you gotta be a scrounger and a packrat, too. Get to know an industrial heating contractor who relines furnaces and ovens. They throw them out by the truckload. The landfill won't miss a few bushels of them. When they cool off, stack them in the corner or under the bench. Be 6 years old again, get creative. Pretend they're Lego blocks. As for the weight issue, that can vary considerably. you're not working in the heat range that would require the really heavy, high density brick. Just build your brickpile forge on a piece of steel plate, a steel topped workbench, or even down in the dirt. Keep it simple, keep it cheap. Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Wednesday, 10/29/03 13:45:44 EST

Lots of swordsmiths in the US. You might give Jim Hrirsoulas (sp?) a call http://www.atar.com

   Ralph - Wednesday, 10/29/03 14:58:23 EST

Terry, Hawkeye Hammer...call Sid Suedmeier owner of Little Giant in Nebraska City, Nebraska, he has one in his collection and I`d sure guess he rebuilt it also. Any make of hammer can be rebuilt and he would be the man I would call, number is 402-873-6603 Tell him Robert down in Kansas sent you his way.
   - Robert-ironworker - Wednesday, 10/29/03 18:26:20 EST

Dale: you can make a VERY effective burner with off the shelf plumbing parts and just a little work - check out the EZ burner at Ron Reils site. www.reil1.net/burner.gif, also there is an EXCELLENT FAQ at this site on getting started with a gas forge :) http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/
   adam - Wednesday, 10/29/03 18:46:27 EST

Hey Quenchcrack!

I just spotted the picture of that woodcarvers draw knife you made over on the keenjunk site. Nice piece of work - clean lines and functional. I like it.
   Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 10/29/03 18:55:17 EST

Regarding belt grinders and tig welders.
I know a couple of people that have the Grizzly vertical knife makers grinder and they are very happy with it. Cost is around $300 or cheaper on sale.
I would have bought one too but I found an Ellis horizontal BG on EBAY and it's a very nice machine too. It seems like I hardly ever turn on a bench grinder since I got the belt grinder. It's great for sharpening a soap stone too :)

On your TIG machine, you will notice a big jump in price\sophistication when you go from say a Miller 180SD to a synchrowave 250. Both machines purchased new will have pretty good resale value in the next few years so I don't think it makes any sense to over buy unless you are certain you will need the additional capability later.

BTW - I love TIG welding and get a kick out of hearing welders say it's a slow and difficult process.
I know a guy that can tig two coke cans together, that's difficult.

- C

   Chris S - Wednesday, 10/29/03 19:32:27 EST

Kelley McKeown, I can get you started on the right track re Japanese swords. In the U.S., I know of one accomplished bladesmith in the States, Michael Bell of Coquille, Oregon. He is of Scottish background, speaks English, and worked with a Japanese master for five years. Tune in www.anvilmag.com/smith/907f2.htm. Yataiki is a Japanese saw smith in his 70's who sometimes appears on the west coast to present workshops. He makes 113 wood saw patterns, everything from big saws to cut down trees to small veneer saws which leave NO saw marks on the wood. The same steel is used for the saws as for the swords: "tamahagane". There are many translators, but I was with Yataiki a few days, 10 years ago, and our translator was Mitsuo Kakutani (spelling?) of Richmond Indiana, where he teaches clay at Earlham College. Very good translations, if needed. There is a website: www.teamyataiki.org/ .
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/29/03 19:45:54 EST

Kelly Mckeown, A postscript. A good book titled, "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" was published in 1987, ISBN 0-87011-798-X (U.S.) The book jacket says that one of the authors is Leon Kapp, who is a molecular biologist at the University of California in San Francisco. He would be pretty knowledgable, if you could track him down.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/29/03 20:15:56 EST

Betsy - Best Coal

This has a list coal sources. There are locations in Ohio, Ky, In, and IL.

Coal Quality

Information on coal and the quality of coal.

You may want to contact other blacksmiths in your area, and they can put you in touch with good coal.
   - Conner - Wednesday, 10/29/03 21:18:03 EST

chris s, thanks for the comments on the TIG. i am looking at the lincoln 175. should have enough power for what i will use it for. the cosmetic advantage and accuracy is what attracks me to it. because most of the things i will use it for does not involve structural issues, 175amp capacity should be enough. this unit ranges from 8-175 amps and i saw it demoed where two razor blades were welded on edge. very slick....

belt grinders: torn between burr king and wilton.....need the platen, dont anticipate much need to use the contact wheel...
   rugg - Thursday, 10/30/03 01:30:51 EST

Hi, i have a blade approx. 20 inches long with out handle. it was found in a plowed field over 40 years ago. i have pictures of it to show someone. it has the name Village Blacksmith stamped into it. i did show it to American blacksmiths and they agree that it has some history behind it but can not give me any information. can you? If so, where do I send the photos? Thank you
   Donna - Thursday, 10/30/03 07:06:59 EST

DONNA; Go to Google.com, and type in "Village Blacksmith brand". It's a pretty common line of garden tools, and still in production.
   3dogs - Thursday, 10/30/03 08:19:09 EST

Japanese Swords: I also sent Kelly to Bill Forrini who has studied in Japan under a master. I've forwarded your posts to her.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/30/03 10:53:32 EST

First Welder: For making tools in the shop you can do just as much with an inexpensive buzz box as a fancy TIG unit. TIG LOOKs easy to use like any other method it requires practice to make a good weld. It is easy to make a TIG weld that is just a bead laying on the surface that you can peal off.

One hidden expense in that TIG machine is the lease of the Argon cylinder. The bill came for mine (which I haven't used in 5 years) for another $190 (I have two cylinders, one mixed, one pure for MIG and TIG).

If you don't use a MIG machine often enough the wire rusts. I KNOW I need to buy new wire before I use my machine again. If you use rusty wire the rust comes off in the feed tube and ends up jambing the works up.

A buzz box can just sit there and rust while its cables rot and still work 20 years later. Rods are almost the same. All mine are soaked from the humidity but a wafting with a torch or a few minutes in the oven and they are dry and usable.

TIG and MIG machines are production tools. Their only major advantage is lack of heavy flux/slag coating to remove. AND they can sometimes be used to do thinner work than with a rod (with great skill and practice).

Buzz boxes also have the advantage of using a wide range of rods from common E6013's to NiRod and 308SS which can be purchased in small quantities. But they will not weld aluminium which you CAN do with TIG.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/30/03 11:50:51 EST

Is it a pluaseible substute to use a small map gas cylinder powered torch to weld together noferrous welding rods. I ask this with the consideration that I have this and a forge, and NO money to obtain aught else.
thanks for humoring the incompetent! VBG
   Dragon-boy - Thursday, 10/30/03 13:14:59 EST

Jerry, Thanks for the encouragement. The problem with making a "fancy" tool is that I don't want to use it and scratch it all up, so I still use one of the old "beaters".

Firebrick: Let me offer a word of caution about using recycled bricks. If you live in a steel producing area, make sure you do NOT use hard bricks from a blast furnace. They will be highly contaminated with toxic chemicals (like cyanide compounds). It is usually safer to use the lightweight insulating fire bricks, which are not in direct contact with any molten metals.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/30/03 13:24:33 EST

Calling all blade/blacksmiths!!

We need your help. We at Primal Fires www.primalblade.com are compiling a collective list of all bladesmiths and blacksmiths all over the world. The desire is to have a simple reference map of people interested in the arts of blacksmithing and bladesmithing, accessible to all. With this map the smiting community can be more closely knit. I know it helped me when trying to find a smith near me.
Please send an e-mail to

Email (optional)

With “Smith Project” in the subject.

I am posting this on the following forums.

Primal Fires
The Outpost on CKD
Tai's Crucible forums

If you know of another please e-mail me with the address. Also if you know anyone else that does not participate online but is a smith please e-mail their address also.(with there permission)

Thanks, David Kurin
   David Kurin - Thursday, 10/30/03 14:04:48 EST

Grt Guru: Proof u r a genius is the advice on the welder - same advice I gave a friend. I have a Miller 185 mig but I can weld exhaust pipe w/ my buzz box & 6011....

Rugg : U can make a good belt grinder for less than $100 using junk: A crowned 8" caster wheel & a skateboard wheel w/a 5/16 bolt, 2 pillow block bearings & a 5/8 shaft. I used a motor off an old oilless air compresser, scrounged auto fan belt & turned step pulleys out of scrap plywood. With access to a junk yard & ingenuity you can make serviceable tools & equipment IF you like to make things.
Ron C
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 10/30/03 14:19:54 EST

Belt Grinder: Wayne Goddard just sent us a copy of his $50 Knife Shop to review. It has plans and how-to for building a variety of grinders. The plans are not detailed blue prints but they show the necessary parts and various configurations.

This book is full of good sensible information whether you are into blade making or not.

Wayne also sent us a copy of his video The Wire Damascus Hunting Knife (VHS or DVD). It is quite well organized and doesn't skip a step. It may be a little basic for the experianced smith but the section on finishing is very good and has some useful ideas that even taught this old hand finisher a few tricks.

Reviews in progress.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/30/03 15:37:33 EST

Guru- That cylinder lease thing must be another one of those east coast things- kinda like the way you have to hire a lawyer back there to buy or sell property. Here on the west coast, I own all my cylinders outright. I own the "idea" of a cylinder- I take my empty in and trade it in for another one that is full. So I dont keep the same physical cylinder, and therefore dont have to worry about test dates, as the welding supply company does all that. I own about 10 different cylinders- argon, mix, oxy, acetylene and propanes for my forge and forklift. All of them work the same way. No lease payments, and no worries about aging cylinders or paying for testing.
I must respectfully disagree with you about tig welders as well- I have a buzzbox that I havent touched in 5 years- Unless I have to weld 3/4" plate or thicker, I never use stick. Tig is faster, cleaner, and will weld any metal or combination of metals I have. Except aluminum to steel. Still working on that one. We do all our site welding for installations with a tig welder- almost no danger of setting the customers building on fire, as there are no sparks, and almost no smoke. This came in handy recently when we were installing in a new library building which had a very sensitive smoke and fire alarm that was on when we had to weld indoors. So I love my tig, and use it for almost everything. Of course, I had nothing but a buzz box for the first 8 years I made things out of metal, and you can certainly do almost everything with it, but if you get a tig, you will get spoiled.
   - Ries - Thursday, 10/30/03 15:39:35 EST

I second Ron. Belt grinders are simple machines and easy to make. I made my first out of plywood because I didnt have any metalworking equipment at the time. Still have it. Still use it.

   adam - Thursday, 10/30/03 15:42:58 EST

My first grinder was a home built, and I still use it. BUT it was also a dangerous machine until I tamed it down shortly after iForge demo #66.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 10/30/03 16:09:18 EST

Spoiled: Ries, That happens with MIG and TIG. But they are considerably more expensive if you are on a budget and MIG is entirely unnecessary unless you have a commercial operation. For the smith that does not use a LOT of welding in their product a buzz box will do forever. And they DO generally last forever compared to MIG and TIG machines that have all kinds of fancy electronics, solenoid valves and motors. I've had to replace controler diodes, switches and other odd parts on my MIG/TIG machine by the time it was 5 years old. My buzz box has only had one wire end replaced in 30 years (because someone else stepped on it). It now needs new cables (which I have wire for).

But if you are in business AND weld fabrication is part of your work you cannot afford NOT to have good MIG/TIG equipment.

The cylinder lease thing varries from state to state and dealer to dealer. I've never been able to afford a life time lease (which is what you have). I added up the lease payments on the 4 cylinders on hand and I have another 20 years to go before they will have cost me as much as a life time lease (in 1974 dollars). How much interest has that money been worth over 40 years. . .

IF I used borrowed cylinders on "demurage" and return them in less than a month OR refill them once a month then there is no cost at all. So a busy business can have cylinders at no cost UNLESS they keep too many on hand. Since I have leases (therefore credit) with my supplier if I NEED 10 large cylinders for a big project this week or month I can get them for the cost of the gas. It is very efficient unless you over estimate and then keep the cylinders for much too long.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/30/03 17:00:21 EST

Home Built Grinders: One thing I do and Wayne Goddard also notes in the book referenced above is that you can build your grinders slower than commercial ones and sometimes get better performance as well as safety. However, a variable speed drive will give the best all around performance.

If you take time to put guards on a home built it can be just as safe or safer than a commercial grinder.

I run my fine 6" wire wheels on a standard 1800 RPM motor. This produces a much softer action with almost no cutting. It CAN grab a piece and wack you but at half the speed of using the same wheel on a 3600 RPM grinder.

I run 6"- 8" buffing wheels at 3600 RPM and 4"-5" ones at 5400 RPM (two machines with belt drives). The right speed for the job is important. You cannot have enough wheels, sanders and grinders of varrious sizes and types.

One note of interest about motors and grinders. In China and Australia they use 50 Hz current. Standard motor speeds there are 1200 and 2400 RPM instead of 1800 and 3600.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/30/03 17:13:36 EST

May I weigh in on buzz box vs tig/mig? I have a 350 amp dc buzz box marked as a DAYTON. It is quite possibly older than I. It has not one moving part, but you have to move the cables for different amp's. It may still be welding when my son is my age! That said, I have a cheap mig with a co2 bottle that I own. Yes if I let the wire sit in the machine it will rust, yes it won't last as long as my buzz box, and the welds arn't near as good mechanically. That said, I have and use both. I find I use the mig more. I also use the mig alot to tack things that I am going to stick. I wish for a tig and a plasma cutter. Too cheap to spring right now. My co2 bottle is a soda fountain size, costs $13 to fill, and was $90 to buy. The real advantage is that with a 42 pound machine that will run on a 15 amp 110v circuit, and this little bottle, I don't have to rent/own a gas engine welder for my installation work. Works for me, but each smith has a unique situation.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/30/03 17:36:29 EST

OBTW, On my dc buzz box, I can run 300 series rods, 60 series rods, 7014 all well, but it will not run a 7018 period. Not new dry fresh out of the rod heater rods, not at any amps or polarity. I have run several hundred pounds of 7018 at day job so I don't think it is technique. Any ideas.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/30/03 17:39:36 EST

Hi, on MIG wires rusting. I have a MIG and a AC buzz box both have their uses and limitations. I to had a problem with rusting wire. They sale a product to spray your tip with to keep contaminents off, but I use the cooking product called "pam". I also spray it on my wire and haven't had any problems because of it. Also I have a Grizzly Knife/grinder model G1015. I really like it alot. I've tried making belt grinders, and was never satified with the results.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Thursday, 10/30/03 19:21:57 EST

ron c, i do like to make things. my delema is that the little free time that i have, i would rather be forging projects and refining my techniques(and learning new ones) than the time it takes to gather parts and build things that i could make. also, my experience and shop is on the limited side, although i am aggressively changing that, it still would take me a lot longer to make something than most of the parties here. one exeption is tools. tools that i like and get excited about are made by me, even if they fail (and they do), i learn and do it again. i bought some twisting wrenches and ended up making one from a pipe wrench. the wrench jaw does not operate very well and i got frustrated using it, so i found one that will work better and will make it into the piece that will work for me.

i can stick weld fairly well, but, TIG has advantages that outweigh the benefits of the stick, at least in my simple mind. what do the artists prefer??? why?? as i said, the cosmetic and focused heat are big issues for me. to weld using kevlar gloves and with such precision are additional things that attract me. and i imagine that most of the things that i will use it for will not require filler rod.

   rugg - Thursday, 10/30/03 19:34:56 EST

Ries, or any one else, do you know of a book on TIG welding that you would recommend?? i have one comming, but i do respect recommendations from those who have the expertise.

ready to get spoiled..

   rugg - Thursday, 10/30/03 20:18:02 EST

I have a technical library of hundreds of books, built up over 30 years of scrounging in used book stores, and not one of em will teach you how to tig weld. Only practice will do that. Some people pick it up right away, and some poor souls never get it, no matter how much they try. But most people with good hand eye, as almost all blacksmiths are, can get it with a little practice.
That said, a relatively cheap, available book that I like is Welders Handbook by Richard Finch from HP books. You can order direct from them, about 20 bucks. I also highly recommend Fabricators Handbook By Ron Fournier, also on HP. It deals with all kinds of tools, and has quite a bit about forming sheet metal, but Ron is a tig welder extraordinaire, and it has lots of interesting tips and applications you wouldnt have thought of. Both of these books have taught me lots of stuff I didnt know I knew until I used tricks from them while I was working.
Hp is owned by Penguin- you can buy online at: penguinputnam.com
   - Ries - Thursday, 10/30/03 23:38:15 EST

I still have my buzz box in the corner, and it will come in handy if everything else breaks at once. But I do make my living from my tools, along with the livings of my employees, and I wear em all out. Its true, the more complicated the machine, the more there is to break. My two anvils will outlast me, while I will probably have completely worn out 25 hand grinders by the time I die. So I accept having to repair and maintain relatively expensive tools like tig welders, as they make money for me. I realize that is not true for everyone, and as I said, I had nothing but a buzz box for many years. Welded an enormous amount of stuff with it. But I find better tools allow me to focus more on the things where my hand, eye, and brain can make more of a difference.
I still think the welding suppliers in the east have more of a racket going on gas bottles- my lifetime ownership runs from 50 to 150 bucks- less than you pay for 5 years. But many business practices are more open and cheaper out west- The wholesale barrier- remember that? was broken out here a lot sooner, and I find it still exists in parts of the east coast- where everybody pays higher retail prices unless you are a bonafide retail store. Out here, volume prices apply to everyone.
   - Ries - Thursday, 10/30/03 23:47:00 EST

I was actually told that there are 3 smiths in the Metro Phoenix, Az area that know how to fold katanas and was hoping they might look at this page. I want to learn how to make them in the traditional method. I am 23 and a Phoenix native. I'm looking to study with someone that is in the Valley. I wish to learn how to craft a sakabato, if possible. I have wanted to find someone here but never knew how to find them. If anyone in the Phoenix valley knows these men please e-mail me or have them do it.

   - Chris - Friday, 10/31/03 00:25:44 EST

I just got an old power hammer from a friend. It looks similar to Pics of Little Giants I have seen.

The markings on it are

Star Foundry Co
Albert Lea
No 50
(5 point star)

It needs new bearings, a motor and a belt. Where can I find more info on this puppy. The price was right - free!

   dief - Friday, 10/31/03 01:32:50 EST

Quenchcrack; You're right about the blast furnace bricks, and I probably should have mentioned that fact. One would hope that any facility large enough to be operating a blast furnace would have sense enough to ship the stuff out via a hazmat hauler, BUT, it don't always happen that way, do it?
   3dogs - Friday, 10/31/03 02:13:12 EST

dief, pretty much you are on your own. Hammers like this are not made any longer. Look thru teh archives here and look and see what all Guru has in them about hammers etc. You might contact Bruce Wallace ( one of anvilfires advertisers).
   Ralph - Friday, 10/31/03 02:14:03 EST

Respectfully, before you can honorably approach one of those specialized smiths, you need to master basic blacksmithing.
Otherwise you are wasting their time and yours.
The fastest beginning is to read and understand most everything here at Anvilfire, then take Mr Turleys classes.
It's best to learn to drive before you enter the Indie 500.
   - Pete F - Friday, 10/31/03 02:41:06 EST

Dief, as Ralph pointed out you are on your own. Star made a cheap version of the Little Giant type hammer. Some had spring toggle linkage and others full toggle. Like all but a very few makes there is no technical data available.

Repairs to one of these require nothing more than standard machinery rebuilding and restoration methods. Some reverse enginering, shaft buildup and repair, babbiting bearings, bushing pins, making replacement parts from scratch. See MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and other machinist's references. All of this is fairly common when setting up any old machinery. Sometimes it takes a machine shop worth of equipment and a half century or so of expertise.

Most of these machines ran off line shafting and the on-board pulleys were not designed to go straight from a high speed motor. Others ran on expensive low speed motors. You often need to incorporate a jack shaft into fitting a motor. Some had built in clutches and others used slip belt clutches. See our Little Giant specs on our Power hammer Page for approximate operating speeds.

If you need a flat belt see a "Power Transmission" or industrial belting supplier. You can also order belting from McMaster-Carr.

   - guru - Friday, 10/31/03 03:03:44 EST

Hello, a question about mesurements.
I live in Belgium and we use the decimal system. I have read in the article from Eric Thing that he uses cold rolled mild steel sheet of US 12-gauge, he says it is about 0.105" thick. When I make the equation to the decimal system, I come out 2,67 millimetres. Is this right? Because a small mistake in this matter makes a huge difference!
Thanks in advance,

   Jurgen Schultz - Friday, 10/31/03 05:41:28 EST


12 gauge steel is .1046 inches. 11 gauge is much more common to find and is .1196 inches. At the left of the Anvilfire screen is a button labeled "Tool Kit." There you will find a handy conversion tool that will allow you to convert from decimal to metric quickly and accurately. 12 gauge (.1046") equals 2.657 mm. 11 gauge (.1196") equals 3.038 mm.

One thing to be alert to is the fact that different metals use different gauge systems. Steel is usually figured in USS gauge, non-ferrous wire in AWG gauge, precious metals in B&S gauge, and there are several other systems as well. 16 ga.(USS) steel is .0598", while 16 ga. (B&S) silver or gold is .0510" The book Metal Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht has a chart listing the most common gauge systems.
   vicopper - Friday, 10/31/03 08:20:56 EST

Chris, Re the difficulties of making a Japanese blade, read the brief biography of Keith Nobuhira Austin, who went to Japan from the US and became a bladesmith. He said that his apprenticeship was about 9 years long and he had two holidays off in all that time! They don't have weekends in Japan, either! www.ncjsc.org/article_keith_austin.htm I asked him why he got the two days off, and he said, "Because the Master did!"
Scroll upwards on anvilfire to find my recent response to Kelly of the Canadian Discovery program.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 10/31/03 09:12:16 EST

Welding machines, tig in specific. When I made the jump into Tig, I opted for a Miller A/BP machine. It is rated at 330 amps but will weld to over 450 amps. Or down to 5 amps. Ac/Dc straight or reverse. It isn’t fancy, it has limited adjustments and is of 1970s technology but it is bullet proof. Compared to today’s machines it is huge and weighs a ton and a half, but there isn’t a lot of electronics to go bad. I have two of these machines. The first one I bought on E-bay for $940 (local, no shipping and guaranteed to work, which it does wonderfully) the other I bought at a public auction for $240 with everything but the foot peddle. It possibly needs a can capacitor replaced but they are cheep. The going price is somewhere in the $500 to $600 range. If you have the space and someone to check the machine out for you, they are a much more affordable way to get into Tig.

Weld cylinders, I am with Ries on the West coast. I have bought industrial sized cylinders at yard sales for about $40 (make sure there is NO name in the collar ring!) and have turned them in for the gas of my choice costing me only the $25 or so for a new cert. To buy a life time on these tanks is about $250 new from the dealer. As long as the tank is of a standard industrial size, with no name on the id ring at the top of the tank, dealers will take it on trade in on a one for one basis. Out here, if you are going to have tanks long term, it is MUCH more cost effective to go for a lifetime “purchase” than on a month to month.
   Wayne P - Friday, 10/31/03 09:53:36 EST

Dear Anvilfire Guru,
My farrier dablles in blacksmithing and is interesting in forging metal roses. He asked me if I could research somewhere that he read in his ABANA magazine that you can buy stock metal rose petals and stems. If that possible and if so, who sells these? I have tried searching the "Net to no avail.
Thanks for any assistance!
   Gail Wagner - Friday, 10/31/03 10:12:01 EST

Jere Kirkpatrick sells rose blanks. I also think Kayne and Son does as well
   Ralph - Friday, 10/31/03 11:18:12 EST

Re: Borax FAQ
Has anybody really tried the baked borax recipes? If so, how does it perform compared to the stuff straight out of the box? Ever add your own metal shavings?
Still no help on the rhymes and reasons of blacksmithing?
Why no more slack tub pub?

PETER F: Did you ever sell that wacky treadle hammer with the chain saw bar foot pedal you had for sale at CBA's spring conference? I still think about it from time to time...
Thanks again, all
   Wendy Lawrence - Friday, 10/31/03 11:44:27 EST

Gauge sizes: I make this mistake as often as others because we are often familiar with the gauge sizes and more often as approximations. Because of the easy confusion in conversion and different standards it is recommended practice any time sheet metal or plate is recommended to give exact decimal dimensions either in English or metric units.

Measurements: The problem many craftsfolk have is that a surprising number do not have micrometers or precision calipers to measure with. Someone with a great deal of experiance can tell at a glance the size of almost any piece of bar stock but sheet metal gauges are a different matter. Most of us know what we bought and have in the shop but to LOOK at a piece and tell if it is 15, 16 or 18 gauge is nearly impossible. It is also very difficult to discern small drill bit sizes especially when used and the shank worn. If you have bits in number or letter sizes you need a way to measure them.

One of my most essential tools is a pair of 0-6" (0-150mm) dial calipers. This is a common size that will measure bar up to about 2.5" (66mm) diameter and lenghts to 6" accurate to .001" (0.025mm). ID's can be measured to a limited distance and hole depth or steps can be measured up to the range of the calipers.

Mine are stainless Fowler Helios made in Germany and are very good. The tips are sharp and hard enough to scribe steel (bad practice but very handy). My only complaint is that they do not have a covered rack. One little chip or piece of swarf in the rack and they can jam up and be very difficult to clear. These cost about $75 when I bought them 25 years ago. Other brands I recommend are Brown & Sharpe and Starrett. Some of the Japanese brands are also good. Cheap calipers are not much better than a tape measure and should be avoided. Medium price calipers are often poorly made and of dubious accuracy. Electronic digital calipers (even the high dollar ones) can be very buggy and I have no use for them.

Every apprentice machinist used to start with a decent 0-1" (0-25mm) pair of micrometers (screw calipers). Most can be read to within .0001" (.0025mm). This degree of accuracy is necessary when measuring any kind of fit such as shafts and bearings, press fits or small parts. These come in mechanical digital versions that are easy to read and I highly recommend them for ammatures. It is easy for professionals to missread standard micrometers and almost garanteed that occassional users will make errors unless they are VERY careful.

Calibration: I said, "Every apprentice machinist used to start with a pair of 0-1" micromenters". This has largely become a thing of the past as shops need control of all their precision measureing tools. They are required to have an inspection and calibration system that keeps track of all precision tools - serial numbers, when they were last checked, the range of accuracy. So many shops do not alow machinists to bring in their own measuring tools. Those few that do require those to be registered within their calibration system. These requirements are largely govermental or contractural.

IN REALITY good quality precision measuring tools do not get "out of calibration". They ocassionaly wear out or become broken but they do not become longer or shorter. Most users know when their measuring tools are right. Checking that they zero out accurately is all that is usualy needed.

Calibration systems are mostly a means of traceability and record keeping. Ocassionaly fine adjustments are made on measuring tools. Mechanical malfunction is the most common problem (worn screws, broken parts). Other devices in calibration systems such as pressure gauges, torque wrenches and scales are subject to different conditions and often require being taken out of service for repair or replacement.
   - guru - Friday, 10/31/03 11:57:02 EST

TIG book - I found one from Miller that evidently came with the welders. It was with all the other literature in the little packet on one of the TIG machines at work. Read quite a bit of it while working late one night. Looked like a good one. I haven't had the chance to try TIG yet, but would sure like to. Dad used to teach welding. When I got interested he told me to start with gas, that learning that first would be the best foundation for all the rest. So far (stick, MIG, and forge) I've found that to be good advice.

   Steve A - Friday, 10/31/03 14:06:49 EST

Anhydrous Borax: Wendy, the anhydrous borax is faster to melt to the iron than the hydrated because it does not have to go through the little dance it does as the water is cooked out. Some prefer it, others just use the raw stuff from the box.

Metal powder: Yes you can add your own. But you need to be careful of the source and the kind of iron. ANY swarf from grinding IS NOT suitable. A high percentage of this is grinding wheel material which beside being hard is also refractory (it will not melt). Sawing swarf is the best as long as it does not contain stainless, brass, aluminium or high alloy steel. Oddly, cast iron works. Some folks get the machining swarf from auto shops where they machine brake drums and disk brake rotors. A busy shop produces many pounds of this weekly and will be glad to have you haul it off. Most of this is actualy ductile iron but it is not far from cast and both work.

All powders/swarf will need to be clean of cutting oil.

On my old 100 pound Little Giant you could see the fine lathe turnings that were in the flux on the treadle weld. This was an odd weld where a round bar was welded to flat in a short lap joint with no preparation. It was quite strong and had held up to 100 years of use.

The Slack-Tub Pub is running just fine. I am behind on registrations as always. We have not had any Wednesday night demos in a while because they take at least a day and a half of my time to edit and setup and I have just not had thoise blocks of time. I have a half dozen book, CD and video reviews to get out on top of other work.

The Kaynes do not sell the Rose blanks. They recommended a fellow in Florida. Rick Jay, Bear Creek Metalwork, 850-722-8181
   - guru - Friday, 10/31/03 14:10:58 EST

Artistic Welding By far the most flexible tool is oxy-acetylene. Works on steel, brass and most precious metals. It may not weld SS or aluminium but within limits it will weld very thin material and is just as controlable as TIG if you have the right torch and practice.

The early multi-use oxy-acetylene sets (weld, heat and cut) were considered so flexible and complete they were sold as a "forge outfit" to replace the blacksmiths forge. And in a large sense they have.
   - guru - Friday, 10/31/03 14:17:44 EST

on belt sanders,
I have several abrasive removal machines, including a horizontal belt sander with contact wheel, a 12" disc sander, and various grinders. Dollar for dollar, the 12" disc sander that I bought new for about $100 wins hands down for deburring and radiusing ends. I find that I use the contact wheel more than I do the platen on the belt sander. and I put a flap wheel on the bench grinder, as I used it least.If I could have only one, The 12" disc sander takes up the least room,does a lot and the discs are cheap.

On measuring tools, I could not live without a dial caliper. have accumulated several over the years. All suffer as the Guru noted from ANY little thing in the open rack. At my employee the gauge crib guy was repairing the fowlers that we used all the time. He had a tiny pick to clean the rack teeth, and if that didn't work he removed and replaced the rack. Seems they were glued in with super glue!( we had about 350 or more calipers on the floor at any given time. I keep a cheap $10-15 dollar one in the drill drawer of my tool box. Had it for years,still works. Would I use it in commericial use? no. Ok to identify drills? yes.
On micrometers. If one remembers that an inch micro is based on a 40 threads/inh spindle, then to use is a breeze. One turn is one 40th of an inch.(.025)4 turns is 0.10" now the marks are self explanatory. Again, if I had to buy just one, buy the dial calipers.
   ptree - Friday, 10/31/03 16:03:25 EST

Thank you for the post Pete F. I was looking for someone in the valley to learn with period. I have been interested in this for a long time and wish to find a blacksmith to learn from. I do not know where to look to find any of these people. My e-mail is NicoliDarkk@yahoo.com. I want to learn for personal reasons not to make a living off it. I want to learn this to make katanas for personal use as well as gifts to a few select people. I wish to find someone to study with if I can find someone. The only person I have come in contact with is at the yearly Renisance(I think I spelled that correct) Festival. I don't mean to to rude to anyone if I have, but I really want to learn.

Thanx again
   Chris - Friday, 10/31/03 18:59:55 EST


I don't think you've been rude to anybody, you've been respectful in your messages. But you are making a basic error that many people make. You are looking at the art of the blade smith as if you can learn to do that, without first learning to "ride the bike". You wouldn't attempt to win the Tour de France the first day you climbed on a bike, would you? No, you'd learn to ride the bike first.

It's the same way with bladesmithing. Stock removal blade smithing can be done by anyone with practice. But the art of the blade smith as expressed in the art of the Japanese sword is far more complicated than just stock removal. So you first have to learn how to handle the steel. If you wish to learn the entire process as it is taught in Japan, you will spend from 9 to 12 years in Japan as an apprentice.

Fortunately, that's not the only way to learn. Follow Pete F.'s advice, he was on the mark.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/31/03 19:24:41 EST

Welders Again

Not to contradict the Guru but you can weld Aluminum with an oxyacetylene torch. You just need the proper flux and filler rods. Its not even particularly difficult. Lots of old aluminum sports car bodies and custom coaches were built out of little bits and welded up that way. Before I got my first Tig machine I used to gas weld the broken blades on my aluminum propellors. (The river is too shallow and it's rocky!)

I have a fairly complete compliment of electric welders (Millermatic 200 and 250 Mig units, a Spoolmatic Mig Gun for Aluminum and Bronze, an old buzz box that was my Dad's, a handheld spot welder, A Miller Bluestreak AC/DC Gas powered Mobile unit with scratch start Tig and a Miller Synchrowave 250 Tig machine. For fabrication work nothing beats the Migs for speed and convenience. However for electric arc welding of blacksmithing related work I cannot see why everyone wants a Mig. Why use the less controlable Mig process to do what are most often small short welds when a Tig torch allows so much more control? The Mig process by its very nature always adds material to the weld area. The filler wire is always relatively cold when starting the bead and will always pile up slightly at the start unless the joint has been properly prepared. The Tig process (and gas welding also) allows the weld joint to be heated before the application of filler material (or no filler at all in steel work) for a nearly invisible weld. A well planned and executed Tig weld is as close as you are going to get to forge welded with an electric arc.

Yes a mig gun is handy for the fillet welds so often used for tacking together a fixture (and I use mine all the time for that) but a stick electrode in a stinger from the Tig welding transformer is just as fast for that application. A transformer intended for Tig use has the same voltage/ current parameters as a good stick welder and can be used as a stick welder also. For most such fixture and toolmaking work a stick welder is just as useful as a Mig and far cheaper.
   SGensh - Friday, 10/31/03 19:42:43 EST

I have some old ten inch circular saw blades some of which have carbide teeth. I was wondering if these blades would be suitable as knife blanks. Thanks--Coop.
   Dennis Cooper - Friday, 10/31/03 20:58:18 EST


Yes. But take the carbide teeth off before you work with them.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/31/03 21:13:34 EST


When you take the carbide teeth off, just use a torch to un-braze them and then save them. They're handy for repairing other blades that have shed a tooth, for one thing. I use them to make hole saws for cutting holes in firebrick. Take an old worn-out hole saw of a slightly samller diameter than desired and grind some notches in the rim with a an angle grinder. Braze the carbide teeth in ( don't need to worry about careful orientation) and you have an abrasive hole saw for masonry use.
   vicopper - Friday, 10/31/03 22:33:27 EST


Hmm... Never thought of that. And I've got several old blades from the contracting days.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/31/03 22:46:23 EST

Gurus and gurnios a question or three on the Dillon/Henrob/Cobra torch. Who sells them? what accessories do you suggest, do I really need two stage regulators? I am interrested in welding copper sheet, say
16 to 30 guage, any comments welcomed. TKS
   - Tim Pilcher - Friday, 10/31/03 22:53:57 EST

Using a small oxy/acetylene torch with a set of jewelers tips, you can do the same things you can do with the Henrob. I've never used the Henrob, and I've only seen it demonstrated twice, but I've heard from folks who own them (but I have not confirmed) that the learning curve is fairly long.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/31/03 23:20:30 EST

I have a order for some 4X4 wood post toppers. Is there any ideas of a victorian but simple design?
   gonzo - Friday, 10/31/03 23:31:27 EST

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2003 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC