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

This is an archive of posts from October 1 - 7, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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I've seen various fire strikers online but none of those I've seen yet (even on blacksmith sites) have a close-up view or description on making the striking surface. I assume it's rough like a file or other knurled surface, but I can't be positive from the shallow references I've seen so far.

I'm in far northern Minnesota (over 100 miles from cities larger than pop. 3000), can anyone suggest where I might find flints if I decide to try a striker?
   Elliott Olson - Friday, 10/01/04 00:20:07 EDT

Hudson & Alan
Thank you for the info on the bullet cherry. I have the lathe with the mill attachment, the big & small drill presses with the cross-feed vises, etc., and can heat-treat, but I can not visualize how to get the raised teeth swirling around the pointed cherry. I would think that I should have the sharp working edge of the teeth above the regular surface of the cherry body. I can make it by hand with the tiny chisel as Alan suggested or file multiple teeth as in a file as I assume they did it years ago. I was wondering if there was a better way these days.
And Paw Paw...I am sorry for the multiple postings but the first time I posted, when I hit the 'Post' button, I got a message saying that there was nothing in the comment slot. I checked the next day and there was no posting, so I asked the question again-I guess I didn't do good, sorry.
   Bob Lowe - Friday, 10/01/04 00:58:44 EDT

Hi Elliott Olson-
Thanks for the info on the HC spikes-I was suprised it was that low and yes I would very much appreciate the info on the other railroad steels. I have pieces of most of the others. My email address is: rdl@Durango.net.
Thanks again,
   Bob Lowe - Friday, 10/01/04 01:13:05 EDT

All my strikers are faily smooth.
It is how they are used, that is the trick.
You need a nice hard stone that will flake well. Like flint or a type like flint. Then you flake a bit off so you have a nice SHARP edge. This will in turn shave a THIN sliver of steel off which will actually get hot enough to ignigte.( spark) It takes some practise, but is well worth it
   Ralph - Friday, 10/01/04 01:15:17 EDT

I was always under the impression that it was the flint that sparked, not the steel.
   Elliott Olson - Friday, 10/01/04 01:23:06 EDT

If, as you say, it's the steel that sparks, maybe a sharp piece of granite from the quarry next door would work?
   Elliott Olson - Friday, 10/01/04 01:27:41 EDT

Power Hammer Dies: First, I have never seen a power hammer where the die height was not critical. Shortening them almost always results in over travel of the ram and possibly bending or damaging parts. On Little Giants it can bend the toggle arms and overstress the other parts. On air hammers it crashes the piston in the cylinder. . . 1/4" may not make a difference on your hammer but you are the one that will have to study it. On the best quality air hammers the ram was marked with a maximum extension line. Anything beyond this was dangerous. To properly setup the hammer the dies should be set somewhere short of this line. Often this is on hammers with a seperate anvil that can settle so an allowance is absolutely necessary.

Dies are fairly hard or very hard tool steel. Yours appear to have been too hard which is a common problem. On these highly stressed parts they should be annealed, preheated, welded, then reheat treated. It is like repairing anvil edges. I would not repair anywhere that does not absolutely need it. Junkyard steel rules apply.

Big commercial hammers use 50 to 60 point carbon steels. Many smaller hammers have used higher carbon dies and the results of poor heat treating is often obvious. Little Giants used something called Black Diamond tool steel. Something like 1095 I think. . .

I cannot tell from your photos exactly what the damage is other than some of the spalling. You need to try good natural lighting without glaring flash.

Before doing ANY grinding or finishing on the dovetails do no more than a simple deburring and removal of rolled edges and MEASURE everything. Measure the dovetail angle and the wedge taper. Is the taper on the die or in the dovetail? tapers on American machinery are always nominal fractions of an inch per foot. 3/16 in 12, 1/4 in 12, 5/16 in 12. Determining these requires painstaking measurement using micrometers, height gauges or precision calipers. Since the parts are always shorter than a foot calculations are often required including some trig. Dovetail angles are usualy in degrees. 10, 12 and 15 are common. Telling the difference betwwen them +/- 1 deg is a trick. Measurements are often made over hardened pins like dowel pins. When you are done you should have enough information to make detailed drawings for a new set of dies.

THEN. . you may want to have new dies made rather than trying to repair the old ones. Current makers use SAE 1045, SAE 4140, AISI H13 and S7. 4140-50 is the least troublesome to heat treat and works well. Good combination dies are the most useful in small shop. Check out the type used on the Big BLU.
   - guru - Friday, 10/01/04 01:30:25 EDT

Thanks much Guru. I was affraid you were gonna say that.

The main problem as I see it is that the way it broke out the die is fully supported on one side, and only a small triangle about 1/4" diameter on the other. The whole middle of the die is not making contact with the holder.

What about fabricating some type of shim to fill this space? As I said. My plan is to measure this one carefully then find a die that is currently made for another hammer that is close. Unfortunatly the cost of a new die is prohibitive right now.

Also, the bottom die is much large flas surface. About 4" X 5". The previous owner welded the end of the wedge to the die so it will not come out without some tricky torch work. I plan to just leave it be, and clean it up. Will a combination top die still work with a flat bottom?

Thanks again

   FredlyFX - Friday, 10/01/04 02:02:17 EDT

Elliott, There are 3 pages of folder there. When you go to the photo page you need to click on the next 16 link at the bottom. The folder is called FredlyFX
   FredlyFX - Friday, 10/01/04 02:03:59 EDT

Oops, way past bed time.

large flas = larger flat
   FredlyFX - Friday, 10/01/04 02:06:16 EDT

FredlyFX, I still can't find any folders in the anvilfire user gallery, nothing is clickable there, no pics.
   Elliott Olson - Friday, 10/01/04 02:17:37 EDT

Propane stuff:

Thanks, Guru and others, for the low-pressure info. I'll do my experimenting down around 2PSI to make sure. I've plumbed my system with about 12 feet of 1/2" copper tube.

Delivered propane is less expensive up here in NH, but only with my supplier, Amerigas. Based on my usage, which is only heat and hot water for now, I'm paying about $1.20 / gal. The next lowest price is up around $1.50. Some charge $1.67 and that's the same as the refilling station for larger (40lbs and up) tanks. But the tanks themselves are free rent if you buy a minimum, usually 1/2 tank per year. The free delivery is really nice and the large tanks keep from freezing, as Guru said. But the best is the tanks take a good 6 months to empty. That is most welcome on those Sunday nights when the refillers are closed.

   - MarcG - Friday, 10/01/04 07:56:35 EDT


Granite might work, but there is a reason they call'em a flint & steel. You can't beat a good piece of flint (actually, most of what we call flint is either chert or agate). If you can't find any, email me with your address and I'll send you a couple pieces of the good stuff.

On your striker, I have had good luck with water quenching the face of the striker and just leaving it dead-hard (no temper). I heat it to critical and quench just the face of the striker and hold it in the quench until the rest of the piece cools. You then need to put the hardened face on the grinder and clean it up to bright. Like Ralph said, smooth is not a problem. You get the abrasion from the flint.
   Don A - Friday, 10/01/04 08:14:31 EDT

FredlyFX, Little giant power hammers are bad about doing the same type wear to the dovetail area that the pictures show on you hammer. I stopped at Sid's Little Giant shop last year in Nebraska and he had a 50lb. hammer in his shop with the same problem. He said that you could use a angle grinder to level the dovetail and then use a metal shim ( thickness depending on how much metal you removed ) to bring it back up to the original height. The hammer in his shop was fixed this way and everything fit tight. There is also a page on the web showing a guy in Minnesota repairing the die slot on a Little Giant hammer. Just search for Little Giant Power Hammers and you can probably find it. If not ,I'll try to let you know the address later

   - mike - Friday, 10/01/04 08:40:09 EDT


I don't know what happens, but you are welcome to post anytime you wish. I try to answer everybody, but sometimes it takes me a day or two.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/01/04 09:00:55 EDT


Have you joined the anvilfire foto group? If not, that may be why you aren't seeing any pictures.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/01/04 09:05:06 EDT

More propane questions:

I forgot about this earlier, but I'm also interested in using the same propane plumbing to do localized heating and oxy-propane cutting. Would <5PSI be enough for that? I haven't done much oxy-fuel work, but it's on my gotta-have list.

   - MarcG - Friday, 10/01/04 09:26:40 EDT

Granit has not worked for me on a striker. Granit does not seem to form sharp enough edges. Chert, agate, Flint are my favotite. Since agate is most plentiful here in the USA that is usually the lowest in cost and so it is what I use.
There is a rock and gem show in my area several times a year. I can get agate that is sliced into pieces slightly thicker than 3/16 inch thick. and about 4 or 5 inches around for a few dollars. This lasts me several years. It is a good thickness for me.
   Ralph - Friday, 10/01/04 09:28:38 EDT

FredlyFX, The web site for the guy fixing the Little Giant power hammer die cavity is: www.spaco.org
   - mike - Friday, 10/01/04 09:35:12 EDT

Elliott-- I have heard that railroad right of way can be a good source of flint, where it was used for ballast. Another way to get a spark is steel on steel if you can't find flint. Try making your strikers out of pieces of old files. The key is a high heat, just below sparking, before the quench and then a really fast quench, one second max.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 10/01/04 09:47:01 EDT

Fire Steels,
I recomend hardening at the lowest heat you can, (just above nonmagnetic) and I harden the whole thing. Keep it moving in the quench. Also forge it fairly thin, around an 1/8th of an inch or so. Since your quenching the whole thing take even more care than usual not to get any coldshuts or square inside corners. As for the stone, get a peice of flint or chert from someone that throws a good spark, and then compare it to local stones. Here I use a quartz of some sort.
   JimG - Friday, 10/01/04 10:32:34 EDT

Striker Details: See our iForge demo on the Dragon Striker by smithinscout. He and others uses a square section on diagonal to give a narrow edge. Strikers must be hard high carbon steel. No teeth. In fact file teeth may lead to one breaking. Others have covered the best stones. Some work others not.
   - guru - Friday, 10/01/04 10:41:43 EDT

Bob Lowe:

The traditional and best way to get the raised teeth to swirl around a pointed cherry is by the "chasing" type of engraving technique. Use a square die sinker's chisel to cut the grooves in the slightly oversized blank, taking care to get the profile right on the first one and to just meet at the corners of each cut. Fun? No. You might also try a knife-edge file or a knife-edged Cratex wheel in a Foredom or Dremel type rotary tool, or something similar in a die grinder. That substitution of rotary power for file and/or hammer and chisel is the only differencr a few hundred years of technical innovation have made for that job.

If you look at an old cherry, you'll note the tooth angle is equal or nearly so on both sides of the ridge, as it were. It would be more efficient if you could tip the chisel to give a more acute angle in the cutting direction, but that's much harder to do well. You'd have some great bragging rights if you did it, though!
   Alan-L - Friday, 10/01/04 11:02:40 EDT

foto group: ok, maybe that's it, I never joined. All I've seen about it here is "see" (whatever) "at the foto group", never "join and see...", I'll sign up.

flint: the most plentiful around here is granite (Canadian Shield) bedrock. Same with railraod bed, all granite here. I'll start asking around, but I won't buy "arrowhead" souvenirs to get some, too expensive because of that "s" word.
Anyway, still have to build the forge and make charcoal, but been too busy preparing for winter (did we even have a summer here?).
   Elliott Olson - Friday, 10/01/04 11:11:34 EDT

Granite is a mix of minerals most of them *softer* than hardened steel--it's the feldspars that generally give granite it's colour. Ask around about a local rock collector and see if they have any SiO2 "throw aways" we always used bad quality quartz geodes in IN, lots of good flint in OH---Flint Ridge was treaty grounds for many native American tribes, Chert in OK, some beautiful black flint picked up along the roadside in England and I bought about 5# of agate slabs for $1 at a junk store once (junk agate too, probably brazilian and not much colour...)

On Tempering: remember that the "correct" temperature to draw at depends both on the intended use *and* on the *ALLOY* used. So when making an axe you might not draw it at all if it was at the low end of medium carbon steel but would draw it to a blue if it was at the high end of high carbon steels. And then it comes down to personal preferences. I don't like my knives harder than my natural stones, some folks love a knife that you have to use a diamond hone on. The whole idea of doing it yourself is to make it like *YOU* want it, not somebody elses idea of what's good.

RR Spikes; we've been telling folks for years now that they are marginal at best for knives and other edged tools; but folks are seduced by the concept and keep on using them for things that 1000 years ago folks would demand a higher carbon steel for... but then folks call pattern welded steel "damascus" too...

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/01/04 11:29:25 EDT

Hi Alan,
I now have an idea how to make my cherry but it will be by hand I guess. On my turned piece I will make groves similar to that of a regular counter sink with a dremel tool with a small diamond wheel and then upset the cutting edge with as you say, a square die chisel...and then finalize the size and shape with a machinist's grinder...and I like to harden in salt water and ice. I should be making just one mold for each bullet.
Thanks again,
   Bob Lowe - Friday, 10/01/04 11:56:30 EDT

Elliott - ebay normally has chunks of flint for sale. Also merchants catering to historical reenactors typically carry and sell flint. Most have a prescence on the internet. Two that come to mind are: Smoke & Fire (www.smoke-fire.com) and Jas. Townsend & Son (www.jastown.com). I know that Smoke and Fire sells cunks of flint for use in flnt and steel. I remember the price as being very reasonable, when purchased at a reenactment.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 10/01/04 12:36:37 EDT

Marc I use an Allstates oxy propane cutting/heating torch. (http://members.aol.com/Idcamper/All-States.html) I doubt that 5 psi will be enough for stock over 1/4" - but it wouldn't hurt to try. OTH I run my cutting torch off a mini, 2.5 gal tank and this lasts me about 6 mos during which time I consume about 6 big tanks of oxy. So it's no really no hassle to keep a propane tank just for cutting.

PS Your forge setup sounds good. I forgot to mention that if you do add a blower to your burner you wil, of course, need to make some kind of gate to control the air blast but this is no big deal.
   adam - Friday, 10/01/04 12:51:15 EDT

Bob, just remember the edges of the teeth still need to be sharp. Also, a cold brine quench sounds pretty harsh for most higher-carbon steels. What steel are you going to use?

One of the old-time gunmakers here in East Tennessee used wrought iron to make cherries from, which he then case-hardened. The advantage to this is very hard teeth, soft core, and most importantly he could didn't have to worry about losing carbon from or burning the teeth, since they were packed in a box of bone charcoal while being heated.
   Alan-L - Friday, 10/01/04 13:05:45 EDT

Damn! Wrong again! Wonder howcum it is they spark so well and don't break?
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 10/01/04 14:43:22 EDT

Miles, I don't know about the sparking but the definition of lower medium carbon steel is that it's *tough* rather than *hard*. I've never had one spark like an old file though.

Hardness is correlated with edge holding ability---not sharpness, you can sharpen an Al beer can razor sharp; it justy won't hold it's edge long.

Also note these are a *minimun* spec you can run across a run that ran high on the C...

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/01/04 15:56:11 EDT

Miles, could be just one of them random rocks you find.
Like I said no real pedigree is required other than be a HARD rock that will flake well. About the only exception I have found is obsidion (sp?) as it flakes too well and usually flakes instead of shaving a sliver of metal.
   Ralph - Friday, 10/01/04 15:59:52 EDT

hmmmmm, need to really read the posts before I try to reply....... sheesh. ignore my previous post... sorta. It is still valid, but it was not really addressing the question asked.
   Ralph - Friday, 10/01/04 16:02:25 EDT

Do I have to join the group in user gallery to post a message?
   - NewSmith - Friday, 10/01/04 17:27:25 EDT


   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/01/04 17:51:29 EDT

Alan-Re: Cherries-Oh yes, I'll make them 3 or 4 thousandths oversize for final sharpening. As for the steel-I have a large choice. I thought it would be fun to try to use the HC railroad spike that the info from Elliott Olson indicated was about 0.3 % carbon. I think just a plain grade 8 bolt would work fine for an aluminum mold. Some day when I get around to it, I would like to try hardening in 39 degree below mercury. And as for case hardening, I have some old cyanide based case hardening compound left over from before it was generally banned-at least I heard it was banned. I won't be waffing it.
Thanks again Alan,
   Bob Lowe - Friday, 10/01/04 18:20:48 EDT

Bob: Be careful!
   Alan-L - Friday, 10/01/04 20:32:19 EDT

RR Spike knives: You can actually get an HC spike up to Rc 45-50 if the blade is thin and you use superquench. However, the medium carbon martensite lacks the zillions of tiny alloy carbides that are significantly harder than the martensite and add considerably to abrasion resistance. Sorry to pop that neo-tribal bubble.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 10/01/04 20:39:41 EDT

I need to form some large scrolls. The largest part is 25". I then need to duplicate them. Can you give me any tips.
   Gary - Friday, 10/01/04 21:34:23 EDT

Mike: Thanks much for the info.

Elliott: If you can't get to the fotos page after signing up with yahoo, then just go to http://fredlyfx.com and then click on power hammer page link right near the top. The pics of the dies are down at the bottom of that page.
   FredlyFX - Friday, 10/01/04 22:16:44 EDT

Are we talking about the same thing? Strike-a-lights, right? We call them chispas in New Mexico. I make them out of bits of old files. Muy high carbon, no? I heat them up as high as they'll go before sparking, and then I get them into the water w/in a second of their leaving the fire. I use flint. They work great, theoretical stress risers lurking in their tiny (battered-down) teeth not withstanding. Sorry about that.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 10/02/04 00:50:25 EDT

FredlyFX, it wasn't your pics in particular I was looking for, just the user pics in general. I got them now after signing up.

PawPaw, is it just an inactive mailing list for purpose of having the file area for user pics?
   Elliott Olson - Saturday, 10/02/04 01:04:36 EDT

I do think we are talking the same thing. But heating hi carbon that high a temp is really not a good thing. Do you have a high breakage or failure rate? Try heating to just a non-magnetic and quenching at that point. You should get a nice hard striker. With little or no damage to the steel.
   Ralph - Saturday, 10/02/04 01:19:23 EDT

I just found that my cousin also has an anvil (he won't be parting with it either, got it from the wife's grandfather), maybe 100-150lbs. Through the multitude of welder markings on the surface, I could just makd out "England" and a "W". Might this be a Peter Wright, or are there other makes with a "W" in the name?
   Elliott Olson - Saturday, 10/02/04 01:31:59 EDT

BTW, for you history or language buffs, how did we get lbs. out of pounds for abreviation?
   Elliott Olson - Saturday, 10/02/04 01:34:48 EDT


That's exactly what it is and how it's used. Occasionally someone has a piece that they are proud of, or a piece that they are having problems with. They post the pictures and send out a message. I have final approval on any outgoing messages. When we first started the list, we got a spam/port message, so I locked up message sending. I have to approve outgoing messages, or the system won't send them. I did not do that willingly, I hate censorship with a passion. But it was necessary to protect the list and the members of the list from what I call sporn.

On the anvil, try to get a picture of the trademark side, and I'll try to help you identify it.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/02/04 02:15:17 EDT

"lb" is the abbreviation for the Latin term "libra".
   - Elliot - Saturday, 10/02/04 04:15:15 EDT

OOPS. I put Elliot's name where mine was s'posed to go. Looks like he's talkin' to hisself.
   - 3dogs - Saturday, 10/02/04 04:17:58 EDT

Anyhow, "libra" in Latin means "balance", referring to the balance scale with the two pans hanging from chains.
   - 3dogs - Saturday, 10/02/04 04:24:16 EDT

Is there something wrong with talking to myself? ;)
   Elliott Olson - Saturday, 10/02/04 11:17:52 EDT

a couple days ago i saw flame holders mentioned for gas forges. I've never heard of it before, what is a flame holder?
   Elliott Olson - Saturday, 10/02/04 11:28:54 EDT


Well, some folks might say that talking to yourself is no way for you to have an intelligent conversation! (big grin)

A flame holder is a waste of time. Guru described why in one of his messages in response to the question.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/02/04 11:45:24 EDT

"Flame Holder" A tooth or grate designed to keep a burner flame at the end of the burner and not blowing out OR backfiring into the burner. Most are an obstruction that causes turbulance or a spike in flow velocity.

On famous flame holder is illustrated in a complicated plan on the internet having a series of concentric rings in the end of the burner. . . It is a bad design requiring a lot of unnecessary effort.

When the flow velocity out of a burner is too high the flame can be blown out by the fresh fuel/air mixture. This can be observed on a welding torch tip or any gas burner. When operated under the correct pressure and flow the flame will burn just outside of the shoulder of a burner where there is both a drop in pressure and turbulance.

As I mentioned above, flame holders are a crutch for bad burner design or a misapplied burner. On a properly sized atmospheric pipe burner the addition of a slip on nozzel with or without taper creates a shoulder and velocity drop so that the flame burns just off the end of the burner pipe. The same occurs if the burner pipe is a slip fit into the refractory lining of a forge or furnace and the hole in the refractory is straight sided (no shoulder), thus creating a shoulder at the end of the pipe. The proper flare in the nozzel, refractory or burner block increases the range of operation but is not absolutely necessary.

In a gas forge once the lining is hot and the infrared heat is sufficient to ignite the incoming fuel/air and all this is superfluous. The fuel will ignite and burn in the forge no matter what. Instead of a flame you just see a uniform glow.

If the interior of a forge is too clean and smooth it can be difficult to keep it ignited until it is at full heat. To avoid this a few chips or crumbs of refractory tossed in the forge will heat up almost instantly and as a result keep the fuel burning if it tries to blow out. You can thank Grant Sarver of Off Center Tools for that bit of wisdom.

   - guru - Saturday, 10/02/04 12:09:13 EDT

Scrolls: Gary, See the Bender article on our 21st Century page. Easy. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/02/04 12:22:53 EDT

I might be able to get those pictures in today, ill see if I can get a picture of the forge that I built too. I wanted to call it "Big Blue" but I dont think that Uri Hoffi would like that. :)
   - NewSmith - Saturday, 10/02/04 13:10:32 EDT

Actually, Uri doesn't manufacture the Big Blu. A gentleman here in NC does, and I doubt very seriously if he would approve. (no, it's not me)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/02/04 15:33:17 EDT

Hello Guru I am a novice smith and have just repalced my harbor freight anvil with a real anvil. a 100 lb. Lakdeside anvil to be exact. can you tell me the history behind this line of anvils? what year(or decade) it may have been made? Thanks!
   Andrew Arsmtrong - Saturday, 10/02/04 20:42:21 EDT

The Lakeside anvil was manufactured by the Hay Budden Anvil company, is one of the finest anvils ever manufactured. If you will look on the front of the foot, under the horn, and tell me the serial number that should be there, I may be able to tell you the exact year of manufacture.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/02/04 21:03:43 EDT

Howdyto y'all. I'm working on a propane forge made out of 12" diameter pipe, about 16" long. Once I line it with kaowool, i figure the inner diameter to be 10", giving me a volume of about 1256 cu in, if i calculated everything right. So my question is this: will a single Ron Reil type "E-Z Burner" be enough to power the forge, or will i need to double up, which aint a problem. Or should i make a larger burner for this forge? well, thats all i have for now.
   - Blueboy - Saturday, 10/02/04 21:16:16 EDT

I ran across an old anvil today that at first glance I thought was an ASO(cast iron). But upon closer inspection I can see that it has a tool steel face and horn. I brought the thing home because it came with a forge I bought. It seems that it is most likely cast because underneath it is full of porosity. I was surprised to find that it actually has good rebound and decent ring. It has no markings that I can see. Weighs around 50lbs and has some major issues(heel broken of at the pritchel hole). It looks as if it has seen hard use. I was told by the elderly gentleman that it was very old. My question is: Which of the old manufacturers made anvils in this way? Is it possible that some cast iron anvils made decent anvils?
   Nate - Saturday, 10/02/04 21:19:39 EDT

Guru the serial number on the lakeridge anvil is 186405
   Andrew Arsmtrong - Saturday, 10/02/04 22:07:11 EDT


You're a good ways over what I would recommend for a single Reil-type burner. Also, You've indicated that your inner diameter will be 10", which means you're only using a single layer of the Kaowool. I would strongly recommend that you use a double layer, giving a smaller i.d., and much higher efficiency. You don't say what you'll be using for a floor, but I would recommend hard firebrick or, better yet, kiln shelf. Borax flux eats Kaowool like hot water on cotton candy. A coating of ITC-100, (available from the Anvilfire Store), will increase the thermal reflectivity of the lining as well as helping to resist flux damage. Soft firebrick is a good way to close off the open ends and conserve heat. Just build a shelf for the brick to sit on so you can slide it to close the opening down. The right exhaust area for the burner area is critical to achieving the highest possible heat.

I would still set it up to use two burners. You can always block one off and run on just one when that is all you need, but for forge welding you'll definitely want two. To use only one burner, just turn off the gas to the other one and plug the forge end of the burner with a bit of scrap Kaowool. The plug prevents the unused burner from acting as a chimney, which will damage the burner.
   vicopper - Saturday, 10/02/04 22:53:43 EDT


Fisher and Norris is one company that made a line of excellent anvils with cast iron bodies and tool steel faces and horn caps. They were famous for having no "ring", and were advertised as being quietly efficient. I have one that I love for shop work. For demonstration work, I use a little 100# Peter Wright wrought iron and steel anvil that rings like a bell. I have to wear hearing protectors when I use it, but it will draw a crowd from a quarter mile away. The Fisher doesn't make a racket, but it sure gives back all the energy that goes into it. In the shop, I want as quiet an anvil as possible to conserve what little hearing I have left.

There was at least one other company that also made cast iron anvils with a steel face, but the name escapes me at the moment. Maybe Trenton, but I won't swear to it. Paw Paw can give you a more definitive answer, I'm sure.
   vicopper - Saturday, 10/02/04 23:02:18 EDT

Hi- I am a blacksmith and have posted here before. I need
help finding out what kind of hammers I need to do
coppersmithing. Hammer names as well as a description of
what they are for will be most appreciated. Thanks
   Jeff H - Saturday, 10/02/04 23:20:24 EDT

Andrew, it was manufactured in 1911.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/02/04 23:21:26 EDT

Thanks Guru. By the way how come the Iforge has been inactive for almost a year?
   andr arms - Saturday, 10/02/04 23:33:41 EDT

Anvil Bottom Tools:

The hardy hole on my 100 kilo USSR anvil (predecessor to the popular 50 k Russian) is both large and irregular, something like 1 1/8" X 1 1/4". I usually find it adequate to just clamp the hardy or fuller or swage into my largest, lowest leg vice and use it there. A firm fit and easy release.

Well, I'm back from Boston (caught the LotR exhibit) and New York (stopped by the armor gallery at the Met) and my trip to Grand Teton has been postponed by several months; so I now can get my early medieval forge ready for Hasting this coming weekend at Marietta House Museum in Prince George's County, Maryland ( http://www.pgparks.com/places/eleganthistoric/marietta_events.html ). The pigskin on the bellows has ripped at the edges, so that needs to be repaired. I also need to finish two sword hilts by then, mostly cold work for hand fitting. We dropped the faering boat off today, so I guess I'm in for a busy week.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby autumn session: November 12-14
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 10/03/04 00:22:11 EDT

Thanks Vicopper for the info. Ill definitely put it to good use. I did mean to say that im going to use a double layer of kaowool, i just had a brainfart when i was typing. And as far as closing the openings, i plan on welding hinges to the pipe, which has a 1/2" thick wall, and then welding on some plate with about 4" x 4" holes and latches for doors, and then will insulate the backs of them to protect them. Oh, where is kiln shelf available? i havent seen it, but then again maybe i havent really been looking either. anyway, thanks abunch for the help!
   - Blueboy - Sunday, 10/03/04 00:38:59 EDT

Hey there, Im really trying to get into t0he trade and learn all i can. So what kind of forge would you sugest for a begginer. Also what are some good suppliers for tools and metals.
   Kevin - Sunday, 10/03/04 02:17:26 EDT

Hello again all, I just posted up some better pics of the damaged top die I am working on. They show the damage very clearly. I was wondering if you could take a look and give me some more ideas on repairing this die. I just can't afford to replace it right now.

Also, while working on it today I noticed that there is a hole in the side of the die holder. It's about 3/8" diameter, and about an inch deep. I was thinking of filling it with brazing or something along those lines. Or, could I use my buz box and just try to fill it in. Or, should I just leave it the hell alone since it seems to have been there for 80 years without causing too much trouble?

Guru, upon closer inspection today I could see the angles you were talking about earlier in the slot for the die. I am going to have to be very careful as I clean this thing up.

Thanks again for all your help.

   FredlyFX - Sunday, 10/03/04 02:39:24 EDT

On overheating fire steels: I've read about a couple people who found that large grain in fire steels produce better sparks. Overheating before quench is one way to do that, but soaking at a high heat, allowing to cool down to critical, then quenching at a normal temperature should be less likely to overstress the steel while keeping the large grain.
   AwP - Sunday, 10/03/04 06:55:39 EDT


Do you have a good method for adding a piezo electric igniter to a gas forge ? I have Reil burners with sst flares embedded in 3" of Kaowool for my forge roof. I'm trying to come up with a serviceable way to mount a pair of electrodes near one of the burners.


   Chris S - Sunday, 10/03/04 09:13:29 EDT

Kevin, go to the top of this page and click on the link that says "Getting started in blacksmithing." Lots of the basics are covered there.

Cast iron/steel faced anvils: A couple of others include the Vulcan, the Star, and the Southern Crescent. Vulcans are marked with a raised arm and hammer symbol (not to be confused with the recessed arm and hammer on the forged wrought-iron Arm and Hammer), Star was marked with a star, of all things, and Southern Crescent has a crescent moon (I'm beginning to see a pattern here...) A bad casting of any of them would render the mark unreadable, but I've only seen really bad casting on Vulcans. There may be other brands too.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 10/03/04 09:16:57 EDT

There was what seemed to possibly be a raised mark though I could not make anything out of it. I wrote it off as a casting flaw. I'll have to look again when I get Back to the shop. Otherwise there are no visible marks.

Vicopper, you mentioned the Trenton anvil. I own one of these and it has made a great anvil. I was told that it was a wrought base with a tool steel face. you can in fact see the tool steel layer on top. A missed strike on that anvil can send the hammer flying back towards your head (rebound is good). The problem seems to be with these anvils is that if the steel layer gets worn through or chipped the area just progressively gets worse and worse with use.
   Nate - Sunday, 10/03/04 10:46:08 EDT

I too have a Trenton. Yes the anvil has a manganese tool steel plate on a wrought body. The base is either cast iron or cast steel depending on what they had when that anvil was made. All were stacked up and welded. Some had the body to base weld made with electric arc weld. Great anvil, great rebound. Mine has a slight sway, just enough to allow easy straightening of parts etc. I have no idea how to repair a big sway.
   ptree - Sunday, 10/03/04 12:54:07 EDT


Thanks for that info on the Trento. It was the cast base that I was remembering. I've seen them with the arc welded waist joint, even seen one broken in two there.

As for fixing a big sway, a thought comes to mind. Mind you, it won't work, but it IS a thought. (grin) That sway happened as the face was pushed down, displacing the body below it. That body metal had to go somewhere, so it probably went sideways. So you lay the anvil on its side on a much bigger anvil and clobber the side of it with a really big hammer until you displace it back from whence it came. Just about guaranteed to destroy both anvils, I would think. The physics is pretty sound, but the practice would be a disaster. (grin)
   vicopper - Sunday, 10/03/04 13:54:14 EDT


Actually, that was one of the techniques that could have been used. Preheat the anvil and use a power hammer, just as if forging the original.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 10/03/04 16:37:49 EDT

Copper and Silver Smithing Hammers: See RepousseTools.com for a few. Kayne and Son, Pieh Tool and Centaur Forge also have a selection. These tools are made in almost infinite variety and many workers end up making their own either from scratch or by modifying other hammers.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/03/04 16:37:55 EDT

Piezo electric igniter I have several of these purchased loose. The push botton assembly is easy to get but the parts in the burner tube such as used by NC-TOOL are custom made and not sold to anyone but the manufacturer. Forgemaster uses a little spark plug in the throat of the burner near the end. A wire runs from the spark maker to the plug for ease of mounting.

I use a kerosense jet heater igniter on my big gas forge with a special extended spark plug I made. It runs constantly.

   - guru - Sunday, 10/03/04 16:52:57 EDT

Jeff H,

The hammers used for coppersmithing are pretty much the same hammers as used for both silversmithing and tinsmithing/sheetmetal working. The names of the hammers generally derive from their intended use, i.e. picking hammer is pointy for picking little areas out, creasing hammer is for setting sheet metal down into a creasing stake, etc. It is not so important to know the names as it is to know the actions performed by a given hammer.

Each shape and size of hammer head will move metal in a predictable way when used normally. "Normally" meaning striking the metal generally perpendicular to the plane of the metal. Obviously, you can vary the way the hammer strikes for different effects. Basically though, it is a simple exercise in applied physics.

A pein (peen) hammer, whether it be a ball peen, cross pein or straight pein, is just a wedge to move metal. A ball peen is a hemispherical wedge, moving the metal out in all directions equally from the center. Cross peen and straight peen hammers are the same but oriented differently with respect to the axis of the handle. The narrow, long peen of either one will move the metal away from the long axis of the peen, just like a wedge.

Flatters are flat, for smoothing metal, whether for blacksmithing or coppersmithing. All metals obey the same laws of physics, in other words.

When working with cfopper, particularly when doing holloware (bowls, etc.) it becomes important to even out the stresses created in the metal by the act of hammering it. To do this, the metal is placed over a stake of the appropriate curvature and the copper or silver is beaten with a heavy rawhide mallet. The French term for this is "bouging", or bumping. It works with steel, too. It is doome just prior to annealing, by the way.

For a look at the tools of the coppersmiths trade, check out books on Colonial crafts, silversmithing and, of course, coppersmithing. "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen" by Oppi Untracht is one book I highly recommend. Old catalogues of sheet metal tools will also give you some of the nomenclature. In the final analysis though, any hammer that works for other metal will work for copper if used properly.
   vicopper - Sunday, 10/03/04 19:19:24 EDT

Guru- Thanks for the info, I found exactly what I was looking for including pictures of the hammers and
explanations of their uses. I saw you talking to PawPaw at
Quad this past weekend,my first time there, sorry I didnt
get a chance to introduce myself. Thanks again!
   Jeff H - Sunday, 10/03/04 21:09:04 EDT

Trenton also stamped Lakeside on anvils and sold them, I have two of them right now.
   - Robert-ironworker - Sunday, 10/03/04 21:30:59 EDT

Since you guys mention both cast steel and forged anvils in here, I've been wondering, how do you hold a 200lb anvil to forge it? must be some really big tongs.
   Elliott Olson - Sunday, 10/03/04 21:43:43 EDT


That's what the holes at the waist and under the bottom were for. Long bars of steel called porter bars were stuck into the holes and the anvils were moved and shifted around so that the portion being forged was in the right position to be worked on. Really BIG anvils were sometimes shifted around by wrapping a chain around the waist and holding most of the weight with a chain hoist while the porter bars were used to position it.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 10/03/04 22:40:06 EDT

Gurus- I need some advise on an anvil. I picked up this anvil recently in a trade. It is a Hay Budden in relatively good shape, weighs approx. 65 Lbs. I got it to use in demos, so it is a perfect size. The problem is the hardy hole, it is an odd size, falling somewhere between 5/8 & 3/4. I have made several tools to use with it but now I am wondering what it would take to just re-size the hole to 3/4. This is a job that I have never tackled so any suggestions or ideas are welcome. Just leave it and live with it? Heat it, re-size it would the face have to be re-tempered? Thanks. VAnce Moore
Whynot Forge
Meridian, Mississippi
   VAnce - Sunday, 10/03/04 23:09:31 EDT


In an answer to a question about a Piezo electric igniter you stated to that you made a special extended spark plug. Could you describe just the spark plug (and how you modified it if you did)?

   djhammerd - Sunday, 10/03/04 23:23:51 EDT

Hi Alan-L, Today I looked at that can of cyanide based case hardening compound that I have, which I bought in the late 50's, and is labeled very prominently, "Non Poisonous" and "Non Toxic", indicating to me, 1. It may be somewhat toxic and they are just fibing about this or, 2. Prior to this time the cyanide based compounds were really bad and this is a safe type. I am wondering if any old time metal smith out there recalls this cyanide use/problem? And Alan, not to question what you say, but I just don't know. When you indicate a cold quench may be too harsh for the higher-carbon steels, what may be the detrimental effects-is it something like internal cracks? And the part about, "...losing carbon from...the teeth...", are you saying that the carbon may be lost from the hard quenching or just during the heating? They don't normally caseharden files during manufacturing, do they? I just don't know about this.
Bob Lowe
   Bob Lowe - Monday, 10/04/04 00:32:00 EDT

BOB LOWE; As far as I know, metalworking files are tempered carbon steel clear through, and rasps such as farriers use are case hardened.
   - 3dogs - Monday, 10/04/04 02:11:10 EDT

Bob, I know nothing about cyanide-based case-hardening compounds, but remember in the 50's they said asbestos and DDT were completely harmless too.

As for quench problems, if you start with a tool steel like O-1 (oil hardening) or A-2 (air hardening) and quench it in cold brine, internal cracks are the least you can expect. A-2 would probably shatter on the spot. Our aptly-named resident metallurgist Quenchcrack can tell you more about why, but all steels are not created equal. As for carbon loss or decarburization, that is an effect of time spent at temperature on unprotected carbon steels. If the part is not saoked at heat, I wouldn't worry about it much, especially on something as small as a bullet mold cherry.

Files are (or were) made from high-carbon steel such as 1095 or W-1 / W-2. The teeth are cut cold, then the whole thing is dipped in antiscale compound (basically borax) prior to hardening. The antiscale prevents scale, of course, and comes off in the quench. Nowadays they use all kinds of alloys and heat in vacuum furnaces and things like that to avoid scale and decarburization.

I guess the most important question is, what are you using to make the cherry out of?
   Alan-L - Monday, 10/04/04 09:20:42 EDT

I've run across some imported files that acted like they were case hardened. Back in the bad old days you would case harden files as steel was hard to come by. Theophilus wrote down a method in 1120 A.D. where you would cut the teeth and then grease them and wrap in goat leather and then mould clay around it and heat. The remove the clay and quench.

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/04/04 10:39:27 EDT

VAnce, hardy hole size
Just leave it the size it is, if Mr Hay or Budden would have wanted a bigger hole they would have made it bigger. There has recently been discussion here on fitting hardies, it should be in the recent archives. Plus you have the benifit of making a hardy to fit your demo anvil, it stays with it, and it hasn't been used and left in the shop when your demoing far from home!
This answer brought to you by the letters C,S&I and the colour blue
   JimG - Monday, 10/04/04 10:53:30 EDT

Cynaide Salts: Bob, This is a VERY dangerous statement on that old can. Yes, you can handle the salts, melt them and work with them with little problem . . . Industry did it all the time. HOWEVER, the smallest addition of an acid (orange juice, vinegar, coca-cola. . ) creates cynide gas no different than what is used in execution chambers.

In many cases industry has stopped using it though not entirely. In industrial use it is melted in large salt pots and the parts soaked for hours.

For most toolmaking cyanide salts are absolutely WORTHLESS! The hardening you create in 10 to 20 minutes of heating and melting this stuff on the surface of a piece of steel only creates a surface hardness of .001" (.025mm) or LESS. This is a very thin skin that may prevent scratching from gentle abrasion but nothing else.

The use of Kasinit hardening salts has been one of the most generaly stupid and misleading pieces of sales advice there ever was. See our Case hardening FAQ for details.

In recent years Kasinit has been selling a cynaide free hardening salt. But the results are still the same.
   - guru - Monday, 10/04/04 12:49:00 EDT

Modified Spark Plug: I took a standard extended nose spark plug, cut off the ground electrode and TIG welded an 8" length of 3/32 stainless welding rod.

The plug screwed into a 1/4 NTP pipe fitting redrilled and threaded for the 14mm standard spark plug thread. The long extension reached from a T fitting where the gas made a right angle turn to the nozzel where the end of the extended tip was bent to be within 1/8" (3mm) or less from the side of the tube. I think on one furnace I welded in a "tooth" for the spark to ground to. Both methods work. This was on blown forges with automatic controls so it needed automatic ignition. You could make a shorter version for a piezio igniter in a regular forge.

Aurora (sp) makes special long nosed spark plugs for this kind of application but the are 100's of dollars EACH with minimum purchases in the dozens. . .
   - guru - Monday, 10/04/04 13:02:51 EDT

Ditto on Hardy Hole: On the old top quality anvils the hardie holes were scalled to suit the size of the anvil. Small anvils had small holes to prevent weakening the heel which can and DO break off due to the hole in this thin spot. Modern manufacturers have standardized on 1" for most anvils except the smallest. Part of the reason is they are cold broaching the holes and broaches over 1" are very expensive AND require tremondous force.

See my post on 09/28/04 13:05:00 EDT (above on the same subject).
   - guru - Monday, 10/04/04 13:11:02 EDT

Howdy to y'all. I have aquestion regarding making bellows. I have looked at Aldren A. Watson's plans in The Blacksmith:Ironworker and Farrier, and will use those for now. Now for the vavle covers he says to use 3/16" clear pine. I was wondering if a piece of leather would work for the lid. It seems like it would, but i amy be wrong too. Thats why im asking.
   - Blueboy - Monday, 10/04/04 16:44:55 EDT

Clear Pine: Wood valves is one of the traditional methods but finding good quality wood it a trick today. I used a rubberized cotton laminate in mine. The best way is to use the leather with a piece of wood attached for weight and so the valve doesn't push through the hole. Soft brushed finished leather makes a good seal. The leather should be about 1/2" larger on all sides of the hole and the wood only about 1/4".

On my big bellows I put two valves about 3" diameter in a seperate board on the bottom of the bellows. This was attached with brass screws and removable so that you could reach inside remove the middle board valve body which had only one valve and was a smaller board. The logic was like automobile valves, the intake was large due to the low pressure differential, the exhust (to the top) was smaller because it had mechanical pressure pushing it. The two 3" intakes and the one 3" exhust worked very well and had no discernable resistance. Removing the valves also gives you access to the inside for making repairs such as to the leather.
   - guru - Monday, 10/04/04 17:26:42 EDT

Just a way out thought. Other than being more costly metal, would stainless steel make a good anvil? Is it too hard (cracks), soft (dents) or anything else? I know SS is tough to cut with a hacksaw, so I wouldn't think it's too soft.
And no, I don't have my eye on a big chunk of SS. Don't even know where (locally) to find a big chunk of regular steel yet, other than the rail pieces I got already from CN.
   Elliott Olson - Monday, 10/04/04 18:34:50 EDT

BTW, I'm seeing some banners in the left side frame here that are half (or less) visible because of their width. That's between the Slack-tub link and the post button.
   Elliott Olson - Monday, 10/04/04 18:38:30 EDT

Elliot: Guess what: There are several alloys of stainless, too! Some are very soft but tough, some can be hardened, some can't. A nice chunk of any 400-series stainless or one of the CM series would be a great anvil if you could find one and get it heat treated. A VERY expensive anvil, but one that would inspire envy!
   Alan-L - Monday, 10/04/04 18:52:06 EDT

I have the pictures of my forge, tools, anvil, and the stuff i`ve made, but I dont have a cable for my digital camera. I dont even know if you can buy a cable for a camera though.
   - NewSmith - Monday, 10/04/04 20:23:29 EDT


Thanks for the Modified Spark Plug idea. Ingenious! I had bought a Johnson propane gas forge several years ago at an auction. This is a 700lb (lots of fire brick with a fire brick cover) monster that was used in a trade or high school industrial arts shop. I have just been storing it for future use, when/if I get more shop space. It has a special spark plug that is supposed to run continously as you described. I am not sure the plug or the safety controls work. When I first got the forge, I tried to test it somewhat (with advice from the factory). Either the plug or coil didn't work and, as you said, replacing the plug (factory recommendation) was a very expensive proposition, so I postponed it until I am able to use the forge.

If the plug is the problem, your solution will save me a bundle...

   djhammerd - Monday, 10/04/04 22:27:20 EDT

I use a stainless steel machine part as an anvil. Once I cobbled together a stand appropriate to the shape it worked fine... don't know what it is, it's easy to sand, dents a little if I hit it hard, and is magnetic. Probably a 300-series alloy since it was used as a pineapple crusher, maybe 304 or 316.

Guru, I like that spark plug idea, think I'll use that.

Newsmith, contact your camera manufacturer or visit your local Radio Shack to get a replacement digital camera cable.

Cool and breezy in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Fall weather is here, finally.
   T. Gold - Monday, 10/04/04 23:32:25 EDT

Hello I have offer on forge that is 20 inches in diameter 3 1/2 inches deep with a blower,it was on Ebay the bid started at 125$ and went up to 350$ I did not win the bid. when the bid was over I got an Email offering the a forge, and blower,
and a hood, that was seperately 75$ and shipping that whould be about 50 dollers for 400$ Total. is it worth it? Should I keep looking? should I make my own? any idea's? thanks
   Aaron - Tuesday, 10/05/04 00:08:04 EDT

Tyler; If I'm not mistaken, it's the 400 series stainless that is magnetic. Try a magnet on a stainless steel knife, they're in the 440C family.
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 10/05/04 02:12:04 EDT

Ok, I got my prospective forge parts in the user gallery.
For the sink, should I line it with fire brick (I only had regular bricks to show) to make it shallower and fill the edges (and gaps) with refractory (I'm thinking pearlite and stove cement mixture)?
Or using the rim, should I heat at the gaps and hammer them shut, or use refractory instead? I'll weld the cracks by the lug holes shut.
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 10/05/04 02:37:18 EDT

My uncle has a pile of discarded 5/16" diameter cultivator springs I can take (see my gallery), many of them with 1 or 2 of the straight ends broken off. What is the likely type of steel in these? I also saw some (likely) worn out cultivator chisel tips in the pile.
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 10/05/04 02:42:26 EDT

While prices vary from area to area....probably that's too much to pay unless you are hot fro antique value.
If instead, you pay to attend the next nearest blacksmith meet you should have quite enough $ left over for a forge which you will have a good chance of finding in the tailgate sale area.
And, you'll most likely learn a lot about smithing in the bargain.
More economically, see the getting started section here on Anvilfire and the plans files for building a forge out of a brake drum for very little.
Join the CSI or suffer the curses of the darned!!!
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 10/05/04 03:52:42 EDT

hey guys
my local salvation army has asked me to make some copper bracelets for them,while i hav several designs i could do i would like to give a wider range.has anybody got any designs or websites?
   Andrew - Tuesday, 10/05/04 07:51:35 EDT

hey guys
my local salvation army has asked me to make some copper bracelets for them,while i hav several designs i could do i would like to give a wider range.has anybody got any designs or websites?
   Andrew - Tuesday, 10/05/04 07:51:35 EDT

I used ~1/8" (I think it was actualy 3mm) plywood from a local hobby shop. I put 1/2"x1/4" strips of wood on each side of each valve for a thicker place to put the holes for the pivot. I used Watson's dimensions (about 3' at the widest point and 6' long) but the shape I got out of Agricola's De Re Metallica ca. 1556AD. It was easier for me to cut straight lines than curves. There are some pics of it finished and unfinished in the User Gallery.
   Shack - Tuesday, 10/05/04 10:32:45 EDT

Thanks! do you know if there are any meets in utah any time soon?.
   Aaron - Tuesday, 10/05/04 11:02:13 EDT


I have a forge very similar in size to yours and find that a singe reil burner is just fine for everything I want to do. Proper isulation is of great importanace.

Stainless: Some 300 series stainless steels can exhibit magnetic properties. I once took several pieces of silverware and picked them all up at once with a rare earth magnet. At the time, I too thought that this was not possible for 300 series, but one of my professors told me that the deformation involved in making the silverware can induce some magnetism.

   patrick nowak - Tuesday, 10/05/04 13:13:46 EDT


First, I'd like to give my thanks for providing this service. I have a feeling the information I gather here will be invaluable to my efforts to become a blacksmith. As that statement might hint, I am not even really a novice blacksmith, I've never forged a thing. I don't even have a shop set up, just yet. I am currently in the process of building the lean-to to house my tools, forge, and anvil.

My problem(probably the first, not nearly the last) is that I have recently acquired two portable forges, an anvil(took myself and a friend to lift it, no weight markings on it, "steveson & son," or something similar, stamped on the side), a large box vice, two machinist's vices, two blowers, and a pipe bender. The whole set is rather nice, despite how old it is. The only thing really in question is the anvil. I know how important an anvil is to a blacksmith's shop. However, I do not know the importance of rebound and ring due to the greatly varied opinions of blacksmiths and books have given me. I have not yet tested the anvil's ring, as I had no idea of what procedure to use, but I recently found the ring/rebound test posted on Anvilfire and will use it as soon as possible.

This anvil I have is old. Very old. It has also been well used. The horn is almost flat on the top side. The horn also has a half-inch depression about an inch from the tip, and on the(forgive me for forgetting the name of it) cutting table on the anvil. The top of the anvil has a near-two inch steel plate welded onto it, also. The plate has a hardy hole cut in it, but it does not line up with the anvil's hardy hole, and there is no pritchel hole cut in it.

After all this description, my question is this; what should I do with this anvil? I estimate it to be roughly 150-200lbs. It has obviously been used a lot, thus the steel plate welded to the top of the anvil. I would look for another, but I know old anvils are suposed to be the best and I would like to repair it rather than scrap it. I would like to know what to do with the horn, cutting table, and the two-inch thick plate on top to best prolong the life of the anvil. The plate also does not appear to be forge welded on, it looks like a bead of weld was run around the base of the plate to secure it to the top of the anvil. A very sloppy job of welding, at that.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I will check back later for answers and I will check my e-mail periodically to give feedback if you respond there. Thanks for your time and I look forward to finding more information here, as well as trying to provide as accurate information as possible about the things I ask.

Thanks again,
Travis Parker
   Travis Parker - Tuesday, 10/05/04 13:36:38 EDT


That plate welded on top of the anvil probably did nothing good for it. Unless it is tool steel, continuously welded across the entire mating surface, and heat treated, it is going to absorb energy from your hammer blows. That is why when forged anvils are made the top is forge welded to the body, to get complete contact.

If you can obtain a decent anvil somewhere, I wold use that one for a doorstop or clamping weight. If you do a rebound test, you'll probably find that it has much less than optimal rebound. Rebound is a way of judging how effective the anvil will be in resisting deformation by your hammer blows, which tells you how effective your forging will be. It would be a fluke if an anvil that was "repaired" that way had much efficiency. Putting any more time, energy or money into it would be a waste of time.

Consider one of the Euroanvils from Blacksmith's Supply. They are a great value for the money.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 10/05/04 14:15:38 EDT

I am about to acquire a Champion Fore and Blower No.200 Drill Press. I have never seen one quite this size before, it is huge! It is a post mounted drill. I have two other smaller drill presses which their operation is quite simple, but on the other hand the No. 200 looks a little more complicated. Does any one ahve info on the No. 200? If so it would be graetly appreciated!

Bobby Lancaster

Lancaster and Sons Forge
Lawrenceville, GA
   Bobby Lancaster - Tuesday, 10/05/04 14:34:37 EDT

Travis Parker,
If you can see a decent thickness of plate remaining on the anvil itself below the "new" plate (about 1/2" is normal, although down to 1/4" would probably be enough...), you may want to try grinding off the welds with an angle grinder. If you don't already have one, it's a tool you'll want anyway, and I'm fairly sure that you can't make that anvil any worse. If you succeed you'll probably find out why someone welded that plate on; my guess is that the anvil is swaybacked, and there's nothing wrong with that. Many smiths prefer swaybacked anvils. Also, that piece of plate will come in handy; you can use it as a thermal mass for heat treating, as a "marrying plate" next to the forge for doing forge welds, or even set it on end and use it as a demoing anvil.

Shaping up to be a beautiful day in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 10/05/04 14:56:38 EDT


Thanks for the info, ViCopper and T. Gold, I appreciate it. Now, for the next question; I am, right now, at the shop I work for. Having little to do right now, obviously because I'm posting on a blacksmithing forum, I have with me, today, an old barbeque pit. I am planning on cutting it apart to use for scrap/making my forge. Now, the problem is, I have a fully welded, squared box for the lid. I can cut the lid apart, but that would mean a diminishing of materials, such as having to clean up the area that is cut. I could use this lid as the fire container, as far as having a place to put my coal and rig my blower(s) up to fuel the fire. Now, the lid is rather large. It's about three feet wide, about 7 inches deep, with sides that come together to shape a trapezoid or a half-hexagon. The base width is 20 inches wide by 3 feet. The upper side, the smaller part, is 14 inches wide and 3 feet long. So, I am unsure if this is unfit for housing my fire. I am making a coal forge, I have the blowers and the materials to build it, but I don't know what the proper dimensions would be. My friend and I intend on using this table together, laying a 3' by 4' brick table beside this to set hot metal down, etc. So, the ideal size, for what we have a feeling we will need, is about a 4' by 4' fire pit. We aren't too sure where the heart of the fire should be or how wide the ideal forge would be, but we will be hooking two blowers to our set-up, so that makes this project a bit unique. We are going to have two sides to the shop, a blower on his side, one on mine, coupled and rigged to be able to shut either one off, depending on who is forging at the time.

Should I make this lid a bit more shallow, or is 7 or so inches decent? I will be lining this with fire brick and it is 1/8th inch steel plating. Any thoughts?
   CyraLynx21 - Tuesday, 10/05/04 16:26:00 EDT

requesting info on Tin Smithing - would like to try it and can not find any one to talk to or find any info regarding it
   Susan - Tuesday, 10/05/04 17:03:44 EDT

hi again i was looking around my neigbors auto shop and i was wondering what type of steel a leaf spring is made of and what the quench temp. is. because i was thinking about the gukra knives made of leaf springs, and the hold a very nice edge
thanks for the help
   matt - Tuesday, 10/05/04 17:51:20 EDT

Susan.look up ABE books on the web-they have some looks on tinsmithing listed-also lindsay books sometimes have reprints on tinsmithing and coppersmithing
   ptpiddler - Tuesday, 10/05/04 17:57:22 EDT

Cyralynx/Travis or whoever you are:

A "standard" firepot is about 8 inches wide by 11 inches long by 5 inches or so deep. This is plenty big enough for all the work you are likely to undertake. The forge table itself can be as big as you want, I've seen a three-station forge setup from an old industrial shop that had three firepots run off the same large blower set about three feet apart on a twelve foot long by four foot wide 3/8" thick steel tabletop. If I were you I'd put two individual forge stations in your setup so you and your buddy aren't fighting over the sweet spot all the time. A single forge the size you mention is about the size of the old railroad forges used to shrink railroad car wheels onto their axles. For most home-based smithing, you'd just be wasting coal and cooking yourself with a fire that big. Try to think of it as a concentrated wad of hot coals about as big as a football, and work that into your design.

You really need to find another experienced smith and look at how they're set up before you put a lot of time and effort into something that may not suit what you want to do.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 10/05/04 19:34:35 EDT

Elliot, I seem to recall that your cultivator springs are 5160 but I might be thinkning of hay rakes, too.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 10/05/04 19:45:55 EDT

Kitchener Blower. I have recently purchased a hand cranked blower from ebay. It has "Canadian Blower $ Forge Company Kitchener Ontario", embossed on the housing. Does anyone know any background on these blowers?

   - Blackhammer - Tuesday, 10/05/04 19:48:28 EDT

Sorry about the name problem,

I didn't intend on leaving CyraLynx21 as the name, but my name is Travis Parker. CyraLynx is a handle I tend to use in internet dealings. I know an experienced blacksmith and have been going to random blacksmithing events as I find them. This weekend I am going to the Texas Renaissance Festival, hopefully meeting a few experienced blacksmiths there. I went a short while ago to see Buddy Leonard at the Gulf Coast Blacksmith's Association meeting. They're a great bunch of guys. I have also met with a blacksmith, or rather, a bladesmith who gave my friend and I a few pointers on smithing and forge set-up.

I intend on making an older designed forge, when I get more into the smithing and get a little more money/experience under my belt.

I am wondering, does anyone know where I can find a blower fan blade? One of the two I recieved has a missing tooth on the blade.

I think I will trim the depth of the lid I have and cut two holes, a hole for each blower, so we can have two individual fires, as you recommend. If there comes a point at which we need a longer fire, one could be made with this forge design, I believe.

Honestly, versatility is what I am aiming for with this forge, because my friend and I have a limited budget(don't we all) and I don't want to have to be making another forge/taking this one apart a year down the road. We both intend on, later, taking up blacksmithing and many variations of it, as we seem to have an inate sense of kinship with blacksmithing.

One could always fill in the void space around a vent to make a smaller fire, right? I don't want to burn what I don't have to burn, so keeping the fire as small as efficiently possible is a major goal.

Thanks again, and I look forward to getting heavily into this hobby/profession.
   Travis Parker - Tuesday, 10/05/04 20:05:58 EDT

anvil info:
Today I took another look at my uncle's anvil. Hay Budden, 153, sn 140583.
Is the 153 153 lbs or some encoded model/weight? What year is this sn?
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 10/05/04 20:26:28 EDT

Stainless steel for anvils,
300 series SS will be pretty soft for an anvil, and will work harden to the point of cracking I fear.
400 series SS will make a better anvil. 410 will get to a very tough Rc38 to 42. 420, 430 and 440/440c will get harder yet. The heat treat for these steels is fairly simple. See the Carpenter Technologies hand book for details. Price makes it a "gotta find it scrap" type thing.
By the way the 400's will also polish very nicley.

The 300 series will indeed show magnetic properties when work hardened. The 400 series is usually much more strongly attracted to the magnet
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/05/04 20:49:57 EDT

Travis, sounds like you do have a handle on it, then. Keep hanging out with the other smiths. It seems like there's a bunch of 'em in Texas!

Elliot: 153 is the weight in pounds. The code thing is on English anvils. Our resident anvil-dater, Paw Paw, is most likely on the road with the Guru to demo for a few days at Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia north of Knoxville, TN. I'll be meeting them there for a visit on Thursday!

Matt: Leaf springs are often 5160, but can be anything. To harden, heat to a bit above non-magnetic and quench in warm light oil. Temper at 350-400 degrees F for a hard but tough blade. Gurkha knives (khukris) are often differentially hardened with a hard edge and soft back.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 10/05/04 21:09:26 EDT

hi, im very new to blacksmithing and im experiencing some big problems. i've read everything i can find about forge contruction and blacksmithing, and last weekend i build a small forge from an old gas grill, 8 firebricks, and an iron pipe for a tuyere. I was so excited after getting it going i forgot i didnt have anything to work with! i found a lawnmower blade and some old allen wrenches and started hammering on 'em.

After i started whacking away on them i noticed a few things i might be doing wrong. The steel wasnt behaving anything like i'd expected- i've read through all the tutorials, checked out books in the library, seen it done in person and in videos on other's websites. This didnt seem normal- the lawnmower blade would barely change shape at all after heavy hammering, and the allen wrenches broke apart after some light experimentation. I think i may have spotted my problem, but i need some professional advice-

1. Maybe they weren't hot enough. They appeared bright orange in direct sunlight.

2. Maybe it was a form of steel or alloy I wasn't farmiliar with.

3. Maybe my forge construction is all wrong- im using a hairdryer as an air supply and Kingsford charcoal brickettes as fuel- im a little short on cash- The tuyere is horizonal; an iron pipe with 1cm diameter holes drilled in it along its length- maybe it's spreading out the heart of the fire. Or maybe its not deep enough- only about 6 inches from the tuyere to the top of the coals. Possibly too deep. Ive heard of firepots being only 3 inches deep.

If you, in your infinite wisdom, can help me in any way, i would be most grateful.
   bp - Tuesday, 10/05/04 21:26:46 EDT

bp: orange in sunlight is probably a good working temp, though did you keep hammering after it cooled? That could cause that. Alloy is a possibility but the allen wrenches I've used have been good forging steel. Briquettes aren't the best fuel, they have impurities that can hurt your steel though I doubt it hurt it enough to make it break apart (called red short) like that. You want real charcoal, it doesn't cost much more then briquettes but it's harder to find, try Lowes or Home Depot or anyplace selling grills. My guess for your problem though is letting it cool too much as you work, each heat doesn't last very long unless you're working with thick steel.
   AwP - Tuesday, 10/05/04 22:57:04 EDT

thanks alan i was planning on making a blade similar to tom browns tracker knive kinda a ultimate survival tool with a draw knife, hatchet, saw, prybar and arrow straightener build into the knife
   matt - Tuesday, 10/05/04 23:06:32 EDT

i was thinking shouldnt the blade for the draw knife section be heated to about a straw color say 270 and the saw be treated at a blue color of about 400?
   matt - Tuesday, 10/05/04 23:11:51 EDT

Ptree, Patrick, thanks for the info. I am guessing now that my part is a 400-series, but I'll never know until I get it analyzed. It does take a good polish, and it hasn't cracked yet, though I haven't done all that much work on it. Given its previous life as a pineapple crusher I'm going to guess that it's something unlikely to crack due to work hardening.

A good and productive day (and only half done!) in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 10/05/04 23:41:19 EDT

Copper Smithing: Susan, This is the same as silversmithing and much jewelery work. Raising and repousse' are specialized techniques used in all plate work in ferrous and non-ferrous metals and are applied a lot to copper. Spinning is another technique applied to plate. Copper is the most ductile metal with the exception of gold so it is easy to work. It is hammered, sawed, soldered and worked the same as gold and silver so a jewelery course is a good start. With the above subjects in mind check the curriculums of the various craft schools like John C Campbell and Penland in North Carolina.

For examples of raising see our book review of Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork by Dona Melach and our armoury article by Eric Thing on raising a helmet. Note that where he works steel hot copper is worked cold and where steel is annealed (softened) by heating and cooling slowly, non ferrous metals are annealed by heating and quenching in water.

For a few tools used in armoury and silversmithing see repoussetools.com.

This should get you looking in the right place and get you started. Let us know if you have more specific questions.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/06/04 00:01:37 EDT

400 Series Stainless Most grades of 300 series SS are non-magnetic and 400 series are magnetic. This is a good start to identifying them.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/06/04 00:03:00 EDT

Travel: Paw-Paw and I are in Norris, Tennessee for the week to do a demo at The Museum of Appalachia. Paw-Paw brought a PC but is having hardware troubles. I'll be checking in at night but will not be full time until next Tuesday.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/06/04 00:10:18 EDT

Temper Colors: Matt, see our chart on our FAQs page for temperatures and colors. It is compiled from various sources and probably the best developed. It is used as a hand out a many blacksmithing schools the world over including Uri Hofi's in Israel. Frank Turley uses the version from the CoSIRA book. Others have used the Machinery's Handbook list.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/06/04 00:16:13 EDT

anvils: ok, since guru and PawPaw are on the road, I'll e-mail my info and wait til PawPaw can get back to his reference (assuming he doesn't have it with him).
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 10/06/04 00:55:47 EDT

Bobby Lancaster-- Centaur sells, or did sell, a reprint of the Champion catalog from 1909, which devotes a page to the No. 200 (and its near-twin, the 200 1/2). It has a self-feed and a lever feed, and a "never slip" chuck, double back gears, two speeds, drills to center of a 16-inch circle, drills holes up to 1 1/4 inches, weighs 180 pounds. I have one. Gorgeous critter, ain't it, though? A relic from the golden age of cast iron.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/06/04 01:04:42 EDT

Travis-- Me, I'd say use that anvil just as it is until you have reached its limits and figured out what you don't like about its performance and then start looking for one that better suits your needs. It's obviously had a long and useful life so far. It probably has a few more years left to go. You own it. Use it.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/06/04 01:15:40 EDT

anybody awake tonight?
   - Fjord - Wednesday, 10/06/04 05:03:36 EDT

my mentor mentioned about removing mill scale from steel involving 2 amp battery charger and submerging metal into solution. CAN SOMBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHERE TO FIND INFO/DRAWINGS/PLANS ON THIS PROCESS? 360-265-2260 phone jjdivers@msn.com
   - Fjord - Wednesday, 10/06/04 05:07:45 EDT

Fjord: Do a web search on "electrolytic rust removal." Basically you hook the negative wire to the rusty object, the positive wire to a sacrificial anode of steel about the same size as your object, dunk them both in a bath of water mixed with washing soda (sodium carbonate), and turn on the juice. Search the archives of this site, both the guru's den and the hammer-in for more detailed info.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/06/04 08:17:21 EDT

Elliot, I consulted my own copy of The Book, and found out that your anvil was made in 1907, probably towards the end of the year. They made anvils #125000 - 150000 that year.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/06/04 08:57:34 EDT

Anvilfire Mentioned in Blade Magazine:

I was reading Wayne Goddard’s column (one of the few reasons I buy the magazine) in the December, 2004, issue of Blade; and up pops Anvilfire’s web address as a source for “Power Hammers and all things related to blacksmithing…” He then goes on to list the usual suspects (Kayne & Sons, Centaur Forge, Keenjunk…) for further resources. The column is titled “Goddard’s Unofficial Knifemaking Info Guide”. I guess he read our reviews of his books. ;-)

I’ll be at Hastings XXXVI this weekend, with forge and faering, for another fun-filled weekend of medieval reenactment and mayhem. This is OUTSIDE the Washington Beltway (…where, according to some politicians, all wisdom resides; but if that is so, why are they so d@mn anxious to get INSIDE the Beltway?) in the 3:00 position, according to the map. Further information (and a map) is at: http://www.larp.com/midgard/faire.html

A crisp autumn day on the banks of the Potomac. Still catching up on various projects both at work and at home.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby Autumn Session: November 12-14 at Oakley Farm
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 10/06/04 09:15:49 EDT

Blackhammer - "Canadian Blower & Forge Company, Kitchener Ontario" I have a couple of their smaller (6 inch) blower/tuyere sets; they are very similar to the 'BUFFALO' brand. C.F.B. Co was owned by 'BUFFALO.' See the URL below.


   Don - Wednesday, 10/06/04 09:46:26 EDT



But actually, AlanL's terse description is all you really need
   adam - Wednesday, 10/06/04 11:00:49 EDT

I am new to forging and have a problem welding on a small gas forge. The trmperature is 2300 degrees and I cannot weld cable, chainsaw chain or laminate steel. I use 20 Muel Team Borax but welds do not fuse together. Any suggestions?
   Craig Schneeberger - Wednesday, 10/06/04 11:17:48 EDT

for sacrificial anodes, I used empty food and juice cans cut open and spread out. This gives a high amount of surface area for the anode. Each day, I'd remove the anodes and clean off the accumulated rust sludge to improve the steadily decreasing efficiency.

Has anyone done this with other metal parts (aluminum, brass, etc)?
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 10/06/04 12:14:11 EDT

I mean, removing any patina, oxides or even rust from contact with rusty steel?
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 10/06/04 12:16:31 EDT

Sounds as if you are not getting quite hot enough.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 10/06/04 12:56:10 EDT

rust removal.
About all I will add to Alan's description is this.
You can use baking soda, and I would HIGHLY suggest that you use a plastic or rubber container for the solution.
Also I personally use stainless steel as my anodes. They will last a bit longer. I get mine from garage sales. They are old restuarant type serving dishes ( like found in salad bars )
   Ralph - Wednesday, 10/06/04 12:59:13 EDT

Craig, Some questions:

"2300F" How do you know this?

Are you letting the work soak and get all the way up to temp?

Can you weld mild steel to itself?

Is there too much oxygen?

Does the piece get "sticky" in the forge? Have you tried poking it with a very thin tapered piece of steel to see it it sticks?

If you are new to welding, I suggest practice with some simple welds on clean mild steel first.
   adam - Wednesday, 10/06/04 13:50:26 EDT

Greetings, again,

I currently have the 1/8th inch steel bbq lid for my forge beginnings and the anvil whose quality I question. I am going to begin side grinding it a bit later in the day and cutting the holes in the top of the bbq lid. Two holes for two seperate fires in one unit. The idea is that my friend and I will be able to use our fires together, should the need arise, to heat longer pieces of metal.

That's where we are today, but right now I was wondering if anyone could tell me any information about my anvil. The anvil has a stamp on the side with a "v" shape or triangle shape(can't tell because much of it is unreadable/indistinguishable from the rest of the anvil) and the words "(what I assume to be)"'St'eveson & Son" and below that there is something that looks to be an 8 or S outside the angle's perimeter, followed by, on the other side, "Bridge." So, would anyone know what that could possibly be and what year, etc.? The whole thing appears to have been made from either cast steel or cast iron. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I have no idea what this is and I would like to know a little about it. It has a horn, cutting plate, and hardy and pritchel holes. It appears rather beaten up, so I would think it to be old, to say the least. Thanks again!

Also, I have see lye used to break surface tension on the water used in electrolytic rust removal to get a better surface contact with the water(the conduit for removing the rust) and it was used on an aluminum engine for a motorcycle. It worked wonders and appeared to not harm the aluminum. other metals, I don't know, but aluminum and steel and stainless steel are all viable to clean by this method. It just takes time.

   Travis Parker - Wednesday, 10/06/04 13:53:47 EDT

You guys talk alot about SOFA. what is SOFA?
   - John S - Wednesday, 10/06/04 14:40:42 EDT


I made a booboo. Sorry. Apparently, according those electrolysis sites, using lye will damage aluminum and using a stainless steel electrode will create an illegal-to-dump mixture. I guess do things at your own risk.
   Travis Parker - Wednesday, 10/06/04 15:14:00 EDT

SOFA is where many of spend our time reclining with the REMOTE. Right now I am munching a bag of potato chips and watching a Jane Fonda workout video. Have to stay active you know?

By the way there is also a group of couch potatoes who organized themselves under the name of Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil (SOFA)
   adam - Wednesday, 10/06/04 15:43:31 EDT

bp if you are new to smithing stay away from any kind of tool steel its much stiffer to forge than mild steel and much more tricky to work with in general. Also, stick with stock sizes 1/2" or less until you get some miles in.
   adam - Wednesday, 10/06/04 15:53:25 EDT

To all you Hay Budden experts: We have a big one at our historic preservation smithy and I would like to know where the serial number and weight stamps are usually found. The only numerical mark I can find is a large "105" stamped on the off side from the maker's signature but this is at least a 300 lb anvil so that can't be the weight. The 105 characters are about an inch tall and I assume might even be an asset number from the old shop. The face is in good shape but unfortunately, someone in years past tipped it on its side then did a lot of cutting and punching to the signature area so much of the wording is obliterated. Based on oral history from the donator, we think this anvil dates between 1850 to 1870 but I'd like to narrow that and try to find the weight. Thanks, Hollis
   HWooldridg - Wednesday, 10/06/04 16:00:26 EDT

Thanks for the blower info Don. I appreciate it!
   Blackhammer - Wednesday, 10/06/04 16:26:13 EDT

I found a 125# anvil but the man says hes going to use it. It had an odd press on the side, it said "Vulcan Metalworks" from what I could make out.
   - NewSmith - Wednesday, 10/06/04 18:03:24 EDT

Craig, See others comments. They are right about not starting doing the hard stuff. Many gas forges will not weld (bad atmosphere and insufficient BTU). They have to be carefully tweeked until you get a slightly rich atmosphere. Many commercial forges cannot be tweeked. When right parts in contact will weld in the forge. This can be a HUGE problem when heating a stack of billets to feed a power hammer or production process. This is the most common application of gas forges so NOT welding is better. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/06/04 21:17:18 EDT

Hollis, Try looking for the SN on the base under the horn, that's where I found it on my uncle's 153# HB
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 10/06/04 21:35:24 EDT

and the weight was low on the signature side.
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 10/06/04 21:44:59 EDT

I'm looking for info on sourcing some turn of the century type wrought sheetmetal. I am going to be making some parts (furniture) for a Hawkins style planes rifle and would like to remain as historically correct with the materials as possible....even if just for bragging rights that's a good reason, y'know. So if anyone thinks they may have a snif of some, more than they would use or squirrel away for themsselves let me know. I realize with wrought it's a crap shoot but, heck I might get lucky. You can offer suggestions or just laugh out loud to me at renaissanceman04002 at yahoo dot com.

Thanks - Jery
   jerry crawford - Wednesday, 10/06/04 21:59:36 EDT

Jerry, what I'd do is get hold of some wagon wheel hub bands. They're a little thick, but you can forge 'em out flat into the correct thickness you want. I've seen pictures of your damascus furniture elsewhere, so I know you can do it!

Adam: Me? Terse? Yup. I'm a man of few words. (grin!)
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/06/04 23:48:04 EDT

Forge hood:
I've noticed many references to hoods using a 10" pipe. Is this necessary for a small forge fire, or could I get by with 8" or even 6"? Would a taller tapering hood help with the smaller pipe's draw? Do any of you use any kind of weather cap to stop rain and snow? Any closeable caps?
   Elliott Olson - Thursday, 10/07/04 02:24:46 EDT

JOHN S; Southern Ohio Forge & Anvil, in my never to be humble opinion, is one of, if not THE finest and best organized blacksmithing groups on the planet. They have been putting on the annual Quad State Blacksmithing Roundup for almost 30 years, beginning at the Studebaker Homestead in Tipp City, Ohio under the guidance of the late Emmert Studebaker. Mr. Studebaker was one of the founding members of ABANA, the group that I personally feel is to be credited with the blacksmithing renaissance that we are all a part of now. I don't know of anyone who has been to a SOF&A conference who hasn't come away simply amazed at the quality of the programs, the presentations of the demonstrators and the all around good fellowship experienced among the attendees. Quite frankly, if I had to choose between The Quad State and ANY other regional or national event, Quad State would win hands down. They've kept me coming back for 27 years now, and nobody 'cept The Missus has ever been able to hold my attention for that long.
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 10/07/04 02:27:01 EDT

This is an opportunity to come up with new designs...the old ones have already been done. Wiggle yer brains.
This sounds like a perfect learner anvil...enough mass to take seriously and a usable shape...so what if it isn't in classic shape and pristine condition. It is far better than I started on and way better than the anvils used by smiths for most of the history of blacksmithing. I'd advise...get in there and use it...it'll do just fine for a few years.
JOIN CSI and support Anvilfire...or your hammer handle will go all limp on you!
   - Pete F - Thursday, 10/07/04 03:20:20 EDT

Elliott Olson,
I hace an 8" pipe on a side draft hood. It is a straight up, no elbows system and draws ok. I choose 8" because that was the stuff I had laying around. I have a simple rain cap, that is a retangle of sheet metal folded to a U shape and attached to the pipe as an upside down U.
I would have used 10" if I had had any in my "future oppurtunities" pile.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/07/04 06:50:45 EDT

Hay-Budden Anvils:

You should be able to get a rough idea of the age based on the method of construction. HB made wrought iron steel faced anvils in the early years but I think the quickly swithched to a forged steel top half fairly early in the 1900s. I have one their wrought anvils that was made in 1910 or 1911.

   patrick nowak - Thursday, 10/07/04 07:21:42 EDT

John S,

I will heartily second what 3dogs said about SOFA and Quad States. I had to choose between the ABANA conferrence and Quad States and I chose the latter. I had a tremendously good time at Quad States and enjoyed every minute of it. Incredibly well-organized and managed! It was worth the 3000 mile trip (each way) to attend that event, and it is on my "to do" list from now on.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/07/04 09:06:33 EDT

Elliot, Travis; - someone else (on this site, or across the street at keenjunk) mentioned the same 'toxic' problem. Their solution was a carbon electrode (actually an arc welding electrode) with the copper jacket carefully removed. The problem is finding a carbon electrode that can provide sufficent suface area to keep the electrical current high enough to do the job in a reasonable period of time. Anyone work for Union Carbide? .

Sunny and 16? degrees C. North of the Lake Ontario.


   Don - Thursday, 10/07/04 09:46:18 EDT

Hey Bud, I have three HB anvils where, viewed with the horn to the right, the weight in pounds is stamped at the waist.

Wrought Iron sheet. I've hammered sheet iron of 16 ga. out of thicker, high quality Swedish iron, but it is not fun. I finished the faces with a platened, belt sander. Farm wagon W.I. is normally poor quality, single refined, and super stringy...wants to separate when hit, unless you are very careful with your heats.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/07/04 10:17:35 EDT

ok now for my second question is where is SOF&A?(i.e. state and town)
   - John S - Thursday, 10/07/04 10:30:42 EDT

I live in Chile, southamerica. I live in the farm and my father learned something about blacksmithing, so he can teach me some basics skills, which I can master. But then I will become a swordsmith. I'm learning swordfighting (at the moment with wooden swords) and I want to make a Swordfighting Academy in my city, where I will need training swords. I have readen a few curses and the faq of this page, so I know it's difficult and I must train whith other things. What I ask is:
Which tools are the ideals for this clase of smithing?
How shall I template or harden my weapons for having a good battleready weapon?

English is not my native language, so I couldn't lokk this questions in the faq.

At yor service

Eduardo Richter
   Eduardo Richter - Thursday, 10/07/04 10:34:44 EDT

Don I have a bit of 16" diameter carbon arc electrode---the local steel foundry uses them and had discards where they had broken. I had a friend who was knew their metallurgist...I also had some 1.25" carbon rod picked up from the old welding engineering building before it was torn down, Gave away a lot of stuff when I moved...check into places doing EDM they use carbon electrodes sometimes and may have a "used" one to give away...

John S: SOFA is at the County Fairgrounds in Troy Ohio, bout half an hour north of Dayton Oh on the interstate, Daton is on the western side of OH around the middle.

Eduardo; The books by James Hrisoulas: "The Complete Bladesmith", "The Master Bladesmith" and "The Pattern Welded Blade" cover a lot about swordmaking and their author makes a *lot* of swords.

There is a good site over at the swordforum.com look in the bladesmith's cafe and the metallurgical forum for good info on swordmaking.

BTW Where in Chile are you at? My job takes me from Socorro NM, USA, to Santiago and then on to San Pedro de Atacama at times and I would be happy to bring books you have trouble getting if there was a convient place to meet. My trips are not very often now but I will be spending quite a lot of time there as the next few years pass.

Yo puedo hablar Espanol un poquito tambien.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/07/04 11:13:59 EDT

I live in the South of Chile. In Osorno, X Region.
Where can I buy those books? In a Amazon.com or such pages?
   Eduardo Richter - Thursday, 10/07/04 12:08:23 EDT


My friends and I would like to cast molten steel into arrowhead molds. I believe we can get our forge up to an appropriate temperature for melting carbon steel.

My questions are:

What material should we use for the crucible, and what steel should we plan to melt? I was planning to use 1095 carbon steel, but I have no idea what to melt it in, since I'm afraid an iron pot will melt along with the steel.

   - Kazrian - Thursday, 10/07/04 12:41:37 EDT

Eduardo, abebooks.com Buena Suerte
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/07/04 13:27:28 EDT

Kazrian, what are you using for the mold?

You will need to buy a crucible for melting steel from one of the manufacturers of such.

Steel melting temps degrade many refractories a lot faster
than forging temps do too.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/07/04 14:15:56 EDT


Yep, youriron pot will melt before the steel does, most likely. You'll need a silicon carbide crucible to melt steel. You do realize thatyou're embarking on a dangerous pursuit, don't you? Very high temps, fragile refractory, fragile crucible and marginal results when done in small scale. The risk/reward ratio seems unfavorably skewed, to me.

Since you have a forge, and I'm presuming it is a coal forge as you generally can't get a gas forge hot enough to liquify steel for pouring, why not just forge those arrowheads? A simple closed die would knock them out much faster than casting, and give a better results, too.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/07/04 14:24:59 EDT

Thomas - I was planning to use whatever material we used for the crucibles as the molds also, but if I'm buying them from a manufacturer that won't work.. in that case I'm not sure what to use, maybe some sort of clay, do you have any suggestions?

   - Kazrian - Thursday, 10/07/04 14:25:17 EDT

I have finished cutting the 2" plate steel(I am not sure about it being steel, it was welded to the top, makes brilliant sparks when ground, but has no markings and makes sharp, high-pitched ring when struck with a hammer) off of the top of the anvil and I am now presented with the reasoning for the plate being welded there. As suspected, the surface of the anvil is filled with deep gouges, pitting, and lots of rust. Apparently the space between the plate and the anvil(roughly 1/16th of an inch) gave just enough room for water to get in and stay there, eating at the metal. Now, the question is how do I resurface this baby? I know I can clean it all up, flatten it out, and get another piece of steel welded to the top, because there is no steel plating on the top of the original anvil. There is a sharp ring to the rear and front of the anvil, but in the center it hardly makes a ring at all. Should I solid weld a 1/2in. thick piece of steel to the face of the anvil or should I just get the face of the anvil built up with weld and ground back down and then heat-treated? Any suggestions on procedures? I've seen lots of suggestions, but never heard the results of such procedures carried out.

Thanks again and I'm enjoying getting into this stuff,
   Travis Parker - Thursday, 10/07/04 16:16:22 EDT

Travis, you can:

A. Torch cut the old surface into a V and solid weld a new face. This is a lot of work and you will then have to heat treat which is not trivial even for an experienced smith. Of course you could buy a piece of H13 or S7 airhardening steels and greatly simplify the heat treating

B. Grind the surface clean and lay down hardfacing rod. Hardfacing is air hardening so there is no need for heat treating. You will have to do a LOT of grinding to get a good surface and will probably spend $100 on rod & supplies

C. Clean up the face with a belt sander. Fill in the really bad divots with 7018 rod and use it as a mild steel anvil - which works well as long as you only work hot steel on it.

These are just outlines. If you are going to do any of these there are important details (like preheating the anvil) that I havent mentioned.


My choice would be C and save your pennies to buy a new Euroanvil. It is not a bad thing to start out on an old beater. Until you get your eye in you will likely hit the face of the anvil and ding it up.

You really dont need flat - nor do you need to worry about all the dings in the face as long as there is a good smooth area to work on

   adam - Thursday, 10/07/04 17:07:29 EDT

Thanks again for the information, I will look into those sites and continue looking through the Guru archives. I will also look into the three processes you have mentioned.

I appreciate the help and look forward to continued progress with the project. I may even be able to help someone else out, one day.

Thanks again and have a good one,
   Travis Parker - Thursday, 10/07/04 17:14:57 EDT


If the plate is 1) Welded to the top, 2) Makes brilliant sparks when ground, and 3) Makes a sharp, high-pitched ring when struck by a hammer, then it is highly likely that it is steel. You said it was 2" thick; this means it's probably about 2" x 3" x 10" or so... mount it on end and use it as an anvil (BoG). That's what I would do, at least. Good luck.

The Blue Angels are buzzing my house every five minutes in Kaneohe, Hawaii. (Upcoming air show!)
   T. Gold - Thursday, 10/07/04 17:32:44 EDT

is there anything defferent about durablanket then kaowoal? because it is cheaper.
   - John S - Thursday, 10/07/04 17:46:35 EDT

I`ve been meaning to ask this, but did anyone here demo or knows someone who`s done some demos in The Old Threashers Union in Denton, NC?
   - NewSmith - Thursday, 10/07/04 18:49:54 EDT

Sheet Wrought: When needed in small quantities it was hand made as Frank noted. The quantity needed for gun furniture is small.

After looking at a LOT of old early plate armour I have come to the conclusion that many pieces were made by forging from round or var stock. When you need an odd narrow arc shaped piece or other od shape it is very wasteful to cut from sheet. However, a preform from bar flattened and then trimmed is VERY efficient. Considering the high cost of materials and the low cost of labor at the time this is a very practical method. However, I have no proof to back this up as a historical method.

In the film, Williamsburg Gunsmith they cast brass plate THEN forge and finish with flatters.

The Real Wrought Iron Company in England specializes in selling high grade sheet for artists doing repousse'.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/07/04 18:56:18 EDT

5,000,000 Visits! Sometime early today (in the wee hours, anvilfire broke the FIVE MILLION visitor mark!
   - guru - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:01:48 EDT

newsmith, 2 of the main demonstrators at Denton are Tal
Harris and Jimmy Freeze. Tal lives in Waxhaw NC and
holds Abana meetings at his forge. His meetings are held the last saturday of even # months
   ptpiddler - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:10:21 EDT

I am not certain, but I think that durablanket is not rated at as high a temp as kaowool.
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:12:48 EDT

Carbon electrodes --

Don't forget that cheap (non-alkaline) flashlight batteries have carbon rods down the center, and no copper coating. They're small, but the price is right and you could always string several around your tank.
   Mike B - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:14:22 EDT

Cast Steel Arrow Heads: Kazrian, This is NOT an item that is cast. In steel these are parts that are forged, made of pressed sheet, stamped, fabricated or machined but NOT cast. There are numerous of movies that show arrowheads being cast in open faced soapstone molds. The metal being cast is pewter or tin (pure tin is too soft) or lead. During the bronze age bronze was cast in open faced stone molds to mass produce swords. Anything else has too hot a melting point for this method.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:14:26 EDT

I did not mention anything to do with a durablanket.
   - NewSmith - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:18:12 EDT

Books outside the US: Norm Larson would be the easiest to deal with (see our Gettng Started article). Centaur Forge, Pieh Tool and Artisan Ideas also carry some of the books listed on the pages.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:19:20 EDT

Durablanket. This seems like a new product and seems very similar to KaoWool. Its rated up 2300F like kaowool


   adam - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:26:31 EDT

I live about 10-20 minutes from Waxhaw, NC. That helps a lot, I was looking for a local blacksmith to give me some tips with projects or give me some local advise.
   - NewSmith - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:33:05 EDT

Melting Steel: It seems that no one has considered what happens to steel when it is a liquid. 1. It dissolves huge quantities of oxygen. 2. It oxidizes very rapidly. That is why steel mills create a layer of slag on top of the liquid steel. The composition of the slag is critical because an acidic slag will eat up basic refractories. Before you embark on melting steel, you need to learn about metallurgical reactions in liquid irons and steels. I recommend any text by Turkdogen. You do speak calculus and thermodynamics, don't you?
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:40:58 EDT

John S.,

SOFA is located in Troy, Ohio. They have a building on the Miami County fairgrounds. Check this web site-
www.sofasounds.com for more info.
   Brian C - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:43:15 EDT

Oh...forgot to mention, if you do manage to get some steel melted, if you fail to de-oxidize it, it will solidify full of tiny pin holes.......making iron is fairly straight forward, steel, on the other hand, really does require a little science.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:53:04 EDT

New smith-If you joim ABANA you will meet a lot of smiths in your area-- one group meets the 2nd sunday of EVERY month in MOORESVILLE NC --Meeting this Sunday Steve
Barringer's forge-704-660-1560 email if you have questions
   ptpiddler - Thursday, 10/07/04 19:56:01 EDT

NewSmith, Right you are......
That was to go to John S. Oh well the message was the important part
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/07/04 21:41:40 EDT

what are the payment options for membership in ABANA? I couldn`t find anything on it.
   - NewSmith - Thursday, 10/07/04 21:43:59 EDT

Getting in late in the thread; but why cast steel? I've seen lots of cast or cast/forged bronze arrowheads (espcially the ones with three blades)in ancient, classical or Eastern contexts, but all the iron/steel heads I've seen in any historical context have been (as the Great Guru mentions above) forged, or in a modern context fabricated or machined.

Given the wide variety of materials used for projectile points, all of which have proven effective, I suspect that cast steel would achieve absolutely no measurable increase in performance over other, more traditional (and certainly easier) methods and materials. I've seen modern cast steel axeheads, but never an arrowhead.

Packing up for Hastings XXXVI: http://www.larp.com/midgard/faire.html

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby Autumn Session- November 12-14 at Oakley
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/07/04 22:39:12 EDT

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