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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 18 - 24, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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As is often said in IRC channels and mailing lists (and guru may back this up if he cares), please don't use all upper case, it is considered the same as yelling.
   Elliott Olson - Monday, 10/18/04 01:29:17 EDT

Dear guru,

This is the first time I am asking qustion in this site.

I want to know how to avoid punch marks on plates (t>10, mild steel plates),while bending by break press.

I want to know that factors that control the punc marks.
   - sreedhar - Monday, 10/18/04 02:10:20 EDT

While we're talking magnetics, would it be possible, not neccisarily practicle, to directly manipulate hot iron with a magnetic field?
   HavokTD - Monday, 10/18/04 03:41:33 EDT

I'm a 7th and 8th grade technology teacher at Brookville Middle School near Lynchburg VA. I own a forge and am planning to bring it in and do a few lessons on Blacksmithing. The course I teach is mainly concerned with exposing the students to many different areas of technology and I might try to introduce some basic metalurgy. I don't know a whole lot about blacksmithing myself (I haven't had the forge for too long) but I think it will be fruitful for the kids to see how metal has been worked for centuries. Can you direct me to any resources that specialize in teaching kids about metalworking? Perhaps you have some ideas for lessons. If you were in my place how would you go about teaching the subject in less than a week?
   Jonathan T - Monday, 10/18/04 08:25:31 EDT

Rivet forges. A super blacksmith from Arizona told me that when he started in the 60's, he had little capital and used a rivet forge for two years before being able to obtain a larger hearth with firepot. He had no complaints. The firebrick idea sounds all right. For protection around the tuyere, perhaps some furnace cement might help.

As for Doug Cairns dating, the period of Eiffel Tower through WW II sounds pretty good, but he probably intended to say 19th century, not 18th. Our well known bookseller, Norm Larson, I believe, is an age-mate of mine, late 60's? As a lad, Norm was on a rivet throwing, catching, and upsetting crew, and I'm guessing that would have been in the 1950's. Nuts and bolts after that time.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 10/18/04 08:36:22 EDT

Jonathan T.,

I'd suggest you go to the Boy Scouts of America site, and down load the requirements for the metal working badge. Those requirements may be found at:

   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/18/04 09:15:07 EDT

Jonathan T.,

I forgot to add that when you get to that site, do a search for metalsmithing .
   Paw Paw - Monday, 10/18/04 09:17:02 EDT

Sreedhar; If you are referring to the crease mark on the inside of the bend, a top die with a rounded edge could help. I'm not familiar with your "t>10" designation.
   - 3dogs - Monday, 10/18/04 09:18:26 EDT

Hello, I have a question regarding the use of refectories in forges; I have an old cast iron forge which I purchased from a gentleman a few years ago. I am just now getting it set up; the fire pot in it was burned out pretty badly. The hole in which it sat had a lip around it which was broken in spots and I looked high and low for another one but to no avail. So I made another one out of a cast iron brake drum from an Oldsmobile the outside diameter was close so I had it turned down to fit the only problem with this was that the outside edge of the brake drum or the face depending on how you look at it (the part where the studs would have come through) is not very heavy. The wall thickness I felt would not be substantial enough to hold up over repeated heating and cool down cycles. I gave this some thought and figured if I gave it a good coat with some sort of refractory it would be ok so I looked into something like sculpting clay but found though research that this would most likely not hold up very well. Then I though that if I clayed it up a bit and then put down a layer of some other type of refractory to hold up to the heat it might work out a little better. The forge itself has no square corners (reminds me of a giant cast iron frying pan) nor is it very deep, so fire brick is pretty much out of the question. I had also looked into something like the clay based mortar that is used in fire places but after having done some research on this realized that it would most likely not hold up very well either to repeated thermal cycles. I was wondering if you might know of some type of compound that I could use I was hoping I might be able to find something that would be the consistency of drywall compound mud that I could put down with a trowel to better follow the contours of the forge. If you have any suggestions I would really appreciate it along with perhaps the name of the company that produces it and some contact info. Thank you
   Larry - Monday, 10/18/04 09:37:30 EDT

Punch Marks and Brake: Sreedhar, not sure why you are getting marks unless there is a problem with the dies in use. The edges should be smooth clean and hard. Any flaws will show in the work. Abuse of the machine has a way of damaging dies and thus marking all subsequent work.

Magnetic Manipulation: HavokTD, Yes, it is done to compress powdered metal billets and even punch holes in tubing.

Brookville Middle School: Johathan, I live in Gladys and grew upo in Lynchburg. Give me a call and I will help you out.

Larry's Forge: Larry, you can purchase NEW fire pots from our advertisers. They offer a variety of types and one will fit fairly close.

As mentioned in the numerous posts above a brake drum is not a great fire pot. They work, that is about it. The proper shape is conical or an upside down truncated pyramid. You can use almost any water based clay to shape a firepot. You can also purchase Castable refractory from foundry and ceramics suppliers if you want to go that far. Some folks add a small amount of portland cement to clay to make it stronger, however portland breaks down under high heat. You can also coat the dried and fired clay with ITC-100 which will create a hard durable high temperature resistant surface. When clay or moldable refractory is used it should be as dry as possible (hand modeling stiffness) to prevent excessive shrinkage and cracking. You can add vermiculite to the clay to increase its porosity and help in drying and crack prevention. Do not add vermiculite to commercial refractory cements as they are already as lean as possible and adding anything to them will reduce their strength tremondously and increase cracking.

   - guru - Monday, 10/18/04 11:09:52 EDT

Rivet Forges vs. Brake Drum Forges: Performance wise there is not much difference between the two. The flat bottom of both makes them much less efficient than a good Champion or Buffalo fire pot. The modern firepot design makes a small intense fire that is much easier to control and make welds with. However, they can be expensive for the hobby smith. So many do with less.

The only advantage of the rivet forge is the larger diameter "hearth" or pan which can hold more coal and support larger work. A "brake drum" forge built from a hot water heater tank, oil drum or disk plow is just as large and works no differently. In fact, our brake drum forge tuyeer design is better than many old rivet forges. Combine it with a larger pan or a fabricated firepot and you have a pretty good forge.

Adding bricks to a rivet forge to make an enclosed "firepot" can make the operation more efficient but that does not have the sloped sides of the commercial fire pot which helps to feed fuel to the bottom of the fire. The only diagram of "claying" a forge that I have seen showed a ring of clay around the tuyeer in a flat bottomed rivet type forge that made a sloped conical enclosure around the tuyeer. This is not as good as a real firepot but it is better than nothing. The same can be done in a brake drum forge.

The drawback to adding refractory or bricks of any type to a forge is the trapping of moisture which combined with coal ash is VERY corrosive. Thin sheet metal pans dissapear in a season and heavier cast forges can rust away as well. If the forge is stored indoors in a dry stable environment this is not too much of a problem. But outdoors or in the corner of a shed where it can have rain blow in or even daily condensation and the forge will have a short life. In an all metal forge you can clean ALL the ash out and prevent rust and corrosion. In a mixed metal and refractory forge (including gas forges) mositure becomes trapped against the metal and does its work.
   - guru - Monday, 10/18/04 11:29:29 EDT

Paw Paw,
Contact me off list about Jonesboro show.
   Dan tull - Monday, 10/18/04 11:33:25 EDT

Ahhh Guru, about working *hot* iron/steel using magnetics---may I remind you of the curie temperature? At a good forging temp steel is not magnetic and so hard to manipulate with magnetic fields...

On mosaic damascus: the term was originally devised when folks were building up patterns using small keystock creating a "mosaic" look in cross section. Nowdays this has been supersceeded by powdered metal and shapes in a can and by the use of CNC wire EDM to cut very involved shapes that can then be fitted inside each other and then welded up.

I started smithing with an old farmhous kitchen sink; but have built a brakedrumforge---for under $10 including blower and speed control and using a 1.4" drill as the only power tool needed, (hacksaw, wrench, basic hand tools as well---*NO* welding!). As to if it got hot enough---I used it as a billet welding forge for a while.

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/18/04 12:30:04 EDT

press brake questions are pretty industrial for this site- I would suggest The Fabricator, which is a magazine and website dedicated to the industrial sheet metal world. fabricator.com will get you there.
You should specifically investigate air gap, or air bending, and urethane dies- these are two techniques used to avoid marking the sheet when bending in a press brake, and there are articles and advertisers in the fabricator that discuss both.
   - Ries - Monday, 10/18/04 13:32:34 EDT

Thomas, I was thinking of Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) which often uses induction heating. I had mistakenly identified the heating coils as part of the compressive equipment.

The problem with the magnetic die is with low temperature metal and scale. Even slightly magnetic dies collect large quantities of scale which then ends up embeded in the work. On power hammers it is common to work below the magnetic point when finishing a piece of work. The work is magnetic well into the medium and low red range (depending on ambient light). In some processes final sizing is done cold in order to have tight control and to produce a better finish.

Yes, Daryl Meier was using the affordable technology on-hand to make his Presidential Presentation Bowie. It is amazing how just a decade or so has brought CNC plasma torches, lasers, waterjet cutting and EDM into the mainstream and even the small shop.

I visited a new small local shop a few days ago. One fourth of the shop was dedicated to the CNC plasma cutting table and PC. Although silhouette cutouts are not considered "traditional" blacksmithing I have seen beautiful cutout screens that came out the Yellin shop in the 1930's. Done with great difficulty at the time the same can now be done in minutes. The biggest difference I see is that the work from the Yellin shop was definitely fine art while most of what you see today is created from clip art and photo manipulation that does not produce the same artistic silhouette as the human eye. Many people cannot tell but all artists can.

Mosaic Damascus as a technique is still one of those things that can be done in the small "non-technical" or primitive blacksmith shop. Using the same tools as a hundred years ago (or more) it can be produced with impressive results.
   - guru - Monday, 10/18/04 14:02:05 EDT

Elliot Olson, Linear motors are currently in industrial use for pick and place robots as well as machine tools. They will eventually find there way into the scrap and surplus stream. Prices are dropping on new ones also. A mag lev train and an industrial linear motor are two very different things.

I was speaking sort of tounge in cheek when I made my electric hammer post. There is a little more to it than just turning on a switch. A linear motor needs electronic controls to handle commutation, direction, and position. They also require some form of guide bearing to maintain the relative allignment of the forcer and the magnetic rail. Since they also obey the laws of gravity so they fall to their lowest position when power is off in vertical applications. Still- I wouldn't mind seeing one of you guys with lots of free time trying it (grin)!
   SGensh - Monday, 10/18/04 14:03:17 EDT

Awright, homebrew po'boy forge builders, pay attention, now. Jock th'Guru sez on todays post of 11:09:52 that "the proper shape is conical or an upside down truncated (that means with the pointy part cut off)pyramid". I posted something about that on this site a loooooooong time ago. Go down yer basement and look on the floor. Yup, it's the floor drain. Lessee now, it's square, the sides slope, it's either cast iron or a relatively heavy stamping, it has a hole about the size of the average tuyere, and they still make 'em. Pretty much passes the "duck test" doesn't it? Anybody who starts talking about the plastic ones should probably go ahead and USE the plastic, he'll get the forge he deserves.
   - 3dogs - Monday, 10/18/04 14:07:05 EDT

Now look'ee thair:

Someone's done cemented a tuyere into 3dogs base-munt flo'. I guess they wanned to give him a real hot-foot!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 10/18/04 14:45:36 EDT

3dogs, I'll have to take a GOOD look at the local hardware stores, but I don't think the ones here have the non-plastic floor drains. Oh well, back to finding a suitable brake drum (I see some back on my junk pile, but they are from pre-WW2 cars, hole is too small for tuyere).
   Elliott Olson - Monday, 10/18/04 15:19:16 EDT

Trouble is, Cap'n Atlye, I gotta keep flushing the upstairs terlet to keep the fire up. Good sailboatin' weather up yo' way, Cap'n?
   - 3dogs - Monday, 10/18/04 15:20:44 EDT

TresChien, could you hold on a bit it'l take me a while to dig a basement...course my 100 year old previous house had round drains, no sloped sides.

What I use for a firepot, (15 years and going strong) was the axle covers from a banjo rear end. Folks had a tendency to make jackstands from them and I've picked up a set or two over the years for under $5. I ground out the bearing and any ridges on the inside and you get a tough gently sloping bowl firepot with a "pipe" coming down from it. Had a friend do a bit of welding for the air inlet and ash dump and it's good to go. It is on it's second forge "table" and I'm designing the third for it, another portable one with all the features of my current one and a few new ideas too.

I may have to get the other one prepped and ready to take over in another 15 or 20 years...I ended up giving away the other set as I don't expect to live long enough to need them...

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/18/04 15:27:20 EDT

Elliot; Just like everything else in the hardware line, it's best found in an older hardware store. They're fading fast. (Yeah, I know; 'nother ol' phart living in the past.)
   - 3dogs - Monday, 10/18/04 15:29:18 EDT

I just got a forged anvil that was stamped "Coley Dudley Wood ...st Scrap waranted." I couldn't make out the word before scrap. Could you give me some information on this anvil?
   - NewSmith - Monday, 10/18/04 16:34:45 EDT

ELLIOT; Those floor drains are also known as Bell trap drains, available in cast iron in various sizes such as 9x9x3, etc. As Thomas P mentioned they seem to be hemispherical in the bowl now, but that's not really a problem. They have a square flange around the top,and there's also a 3/4" high sleeve section sticking up in the center which, I suppose will serve to keep washing machine lint and Hot Wheels toys out of the septic tank. That can be cut off flush with a small diameter cutoff wheel. The franchised hardware in my neighborhood had two of them in the smaller size, but the bigger ones can be ordered. About $27.00
   - 3dogs - Monday, 10/18/04 17:17:15 EDT

Drains and Drake Drums. . . Now you have to LOOK at these things and it doesn't hurt to test with a magnet. At one point in time a surprising number of high performance American cars had aluminium brake drums with a pressed in ferrous liner (may have been cast). A few brake drums are all cast iron but the majority were a cast ductile iron rim with a pressed steel disk crimped into the end. The few all cast ones are truck drums. The big heavy 18 wheeler drums such as Paw-Paw picked up and left me with. . . are all cast, very thick and very heavy. They are also much too deep for a forge pot. Scrounging these up for a forge is over kill. Besides, they are heavy enough to make a nice base for something or another. I was considering a stake stand.

Changes: I mentioned 18 wheelers above. . . soon they may all be 14 wheelers or even 10! I've seen trailers with big aluminium double width wheels and wide truck tires that look like big wide Indy racing tires. One replaces two of the old style wheels. When just the trailer has them it becomes a 14 wheeler and when the tractor has them it is a 10 wheeler (including the trailer). Hmmmm or if the tractor has them and the trailer not then it is still a ten wheeler. . . Time to rewrite the CB trucker's jargon and re-record all those CD-Truck'n songs. . . Add that to the 1/10 mile markers on the Interstates. Too much change to keep up with.
   - guru - Monday, 10/18/04 19:32:32 EDT

NewSmith - The word is 'Best' (not GREASE, ;)) I checked into my copy of 'ANVILS IN AMERICA' by Richard Postman. On page 36 it's explained that “Scrap iron, when reworked and forge-welded together, became a better product then new iron. Generally speaking, the more wrought iron is worked, to a point, the better it becomes. At least one English anvil manufacturer made BEST SCRAP part of their anvil’s trademark. ”

On page 77 of A.I.A. (Chap. 3 - English Anvils) an W. Cole is named as 'most likely another hardware exporter.' Close in name but not an exact match.

I checked my Atlas, Dudley Wood could (now this is a wild a** guess) be the location of the foundry. There's a town called Dudley at the Western end of the British Midlands, located about 5 km (3 miles) North of Stourbridge and about 12 km (7 miles) West of Birmingham (a major anvil manufacturing area 150 years ago.) With a patch of woods nearby a foundry could have its own charcoal source (until the woods were gone or coal became cheaper.)

Hopefully my reply hasn't swamped you, and honestly with only one reference all I can do is best guess. Hope this helped.

   Don - Monday, 10/18/04 19:50:46 EDT

Non-magnetic molten metals can be pumped with an electromagnetic field. This was done 30-40 years ago, maybe more. Electro-magnetic pulsed fields are strong enough to induce ultrasonic waves in steel. They are strong enough to cause some metals to weld together. All of these concepts are 30-50 years old and were mostly forgotten because they were not economically feasible. But they were technically feasible.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 10/18/04 20:01:42 EDT

I noticed that the anvil had crowns stamped into it.
   - NewSmith - Monday, 10/18/04 20:41:31 EDT

Dudley. I've seen two anvils in all my travels that were stamped 'Dudley', but not the same as NewSmith's anvil. One anvil was as the Old Chatham Museum, N.Y., and the other was in Costa Rica. I might mention that Don's research was good, but I also found on page 96, "Anvils in America", that Peter Wright & Sons, was located in Dudley, England.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 10/18/04 22:28:59 EDT

Dudley. I've seen two anvils in all my travels that were stamped 'Dudley', but not the same as NewSmith's anvil. One anvil was as the Old Chatham Museum, N.Y., and the other was in Costa Rica. I might mention that Don's research was good, but I also found on page 96, "Anvils in America", that Peter Wright & Sons, was located in Dudley, England.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 10/18/04 22:29:53 EDT

Jonathan T-- Keep it real simple. Kids that age love making knives. But school rules these days make having edged implements on one's person a surefire suspension. Still, letter openers and toasting forks go over big with my visitors that age. Make everybody wear leather high top shoes, cotton clothing, hats, and safety glasses. Get your lawyer to clear the liability waiver and make everybody's parents sign it. Not, alas, that it will do any good when young Quentin or Jonathan or Muffy catches a hot cinder in the eye.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/19/04 00:25:41 EDT

18 wheelers... and if the trailer has 3 axles it could be 22 wheels. If the tractor has a tag axle, that's another 2 wheels (but that would be more likely on dump trucks). And if it's towing 2-3 trailers instead of one...

The benefit of keeping duals on each axle instead of those fat single tires is that if one blows out, you still have the one next to it supporting weight.
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 10/19/04 00:31:23 EDT

Hi there!
I’m an amateur blacksmith and pro show horse rider, and my trainer’s birthday is coming up and I thought I could make her a branding iron for her ranch. I would never allow her to use it on any of our horses of course, just something to mark our tack boxes and such with. Anyway most of the design is fairly straightforward but any thoughts on how I could make an “R” that would work worth a cuss, without having to mill one out of a billet?
Moe Arizona
   Moe Arizona - Tuesday, 10/19/04 02:58:04 EDT

Moe, If it's a faux iron, the stamp stock can be 1/4" x 1". I use bending forks in conjunction with a bending wrench. The fork can be a smiple 'U' bemd on round stock, clamped in the vise. The distance between legs is just slightly more than the stock thickness. I also use a bridge. I've seen them made of healthy tubular stock, two or three inches square. Cut a length less than anvil face width and weld a shank on the bottom. Grind/sharpen the edges if need be, and it is used as an anvil where it is awkward to use the regular anvil face.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/19/04 09:07:41 EDT

Miles, Etal, I'll be working with Jonathan at the local school. Trying to figure out how to run 20+ kids through a hands on experiance in 50 minutes is the difficult part. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/19/04 09:23:04 EDT

Branding Irons: Moe, as Frank pointed out it can be made by cold bending. These things are made from pieces of flat bar that can be one or more pieces. All require welding.

An "R" is possible to make from a single piece. Make the accute bend hot where the leg meets under the loop first. Then make the right angle bend for the top of the character. This should look like a misshapend "Z" at this point. Then bend the middle section into the loop until the accute corner meets the vertical. I would use extra length, guess at the loop length and then cut off the extra from the legs when done. Welds at the front and back would hold the middle joint tight. Weld handle on as necessary.

I've made single piece R's with serifs and scrolled decenders. It is not two hard if you think about it and have a plan.

Alternately an R can be made from three pieces then welded together. The pieces can be all worked cold or hot. Hot working allows for serifs and more detail. Gas or arc welding can be used.

Old irons were pieced together and forge welded, ocassionaly there were riveted joints. On some irons the welding was difficult and the high art of the smith. Modern welding takes all the difficulty out of it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/19/04 09:39:40 EDT

Branding Irons - An old rancher told me that hot irons which will be used on animals should not have any fully enclosed areas because it makes the skin die. In other words, an "O" should have a 3/16 to 1/4 inch break in one side of the letter. He said you don't see it in the brand after it's applied. Open letters like "I" or "S" obviously don't need this modification nor does this apply to cold branding. Most brands these days are only used for decoration so the extra work is not needed but it's nice to know if you are making real ones to be used by cowhands.
   HWooldridg - Tuesday, 10/19/04 10:05:14 EDT

Due to familial obligations and workloads the Camp Fenby Autumn Session has been CANCELED.

My regrets to all, and I trust that this notice is timely.

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 10/19/04 10:41:27 EDT

Big Tires: I think the advantage is overall lighter wheels and tires. Rolling friction is alos probably less. With rising fuel prices trucks are being made lighter and more efficient. Streamlining and expensive alumimium components turn out to be cheaper in the long run, especialy when that run is half a million miles or more.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/19/04 13:22:12 EDT

Hi again,
Thanks a lot! I was originally thinking I would have to do a 3 piece “R” but I knew there had to be a better way, so I asked. I think that the one piece “R” will actually have a good rustic look to it, which is what I am after.
Funny how things seem so simple one you know how to do it huh :).

Thanks again!
   Moe Arizona - Tuesday, 10/19/04 13:32:40 EDT

Rolling friction: I heard/read somewhere that trains get higher mileage than trucks because of the reduced rolling resistance of steel on steel over rubber on pavement, as Steel has much less flex than rubber.
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 10/19/04 13:49:36 EDT

I want to add a personal note to the discussion about single or dual wheels on the back of trucks. I speak from personal experience.

Losing a single wheel on the back of a large truck is bad enough. Losing both wheels is darn near catastrophic!

Been there, done that. It's not any fun at all! See the story at:

   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/19/04 14:15:39 EDT

im 15 and wanting to mabey becom a blacksmith. how do i start
   joe - Tuesday, 10/19/04 15:13:55 EDT

One quick question: Should I get a 24 oz ball pein hammer from Harbor Freight to reshape into a cross pein hammer or should I get a high quality one from somewhere else? I was offered the chance to have a cross pein hammer made from a ball pein, but I'm not sure if I should find an old one(kinda hard unless you know where to look, which I don't) or get a new one. Thanks again for all the info, everyone.

   Travis Parker - Tuesday, 10/19/04 16:06:40 EDT

In order to start you will need to do several things.
First you should look at the "Getting Started " section here on anvilfire.
Then I would suggest that you try to find at least one or two of the basic smithing books that are referenced in the Getting started section and read them. Not just browse the words but really read them and study them Just as if you were going to be tested.
Also try to find a local to you smithing group and attend some meetings and meet other smiths and learn from them.
You can also start building some of the basics you will need. This is all covered in the section I refered you to.
Also read all the different sections of anvilfire as well as the archives.
Ask questions after thinking about it. And have fun.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 10/19/04 16:10:45 EDT

Travis: Why not just get a cross pein hammer to start with?

If you really want a 24 oz ball pein, be aware the Chinese ones are an iffy steel to forge on. The Brazillian ones are much higher quality. Or, you can do what I and many others do, which is go to flea markets and junk stores, the scarier-looking the better. I picked up some good old (1920s-1960s) ball pein heads of various sizes two weeks ago for $1 each at an antique store, of all places. Anyplace you find a box of rusty old tools for sale, dig through them. You'd be amazed at the things you'll find. Of course, this can also include spiders and other things that don't like to be grabbed, so keep an eye out.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 10/19/04 16:41:19 EDT

Need help! Trying to find master model maker for gift item (special shaped candleholder) to be cast in brass on a large volume basis. Have the prototype 80% completed, but needs more details so starting over. Also need advice on what specs should be used for the brass (to be mfg in India) for this product to be beautiful and strong but cost effective also. Will also use U.S. co for rush orders. Thanks...colse to Florida. Miami. is good!
   mia - Tuesday, 10/19/04 16:55:31 EDT

On dual tires.
Another issue with duals versus singles is that with duals, a single flat, run with an inflated tire next to it can cause a tire fire. The tire run flat flexs alot and heats up. When it kindles into a fire, the tire next to it tends to catch, and a totally burnt out trailer or tractor often results. That is why you see truckers knocking on the tires at stops. lets them check for inflation in a moment.

One of our plants in Ohio makes trailer beam axles for group 8 trucks (semi's). Pretty neat how they friction weld on the spindles. No aluminum axles there yet.
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/19/04 17:15:37 EDT

Got it, thanks. Think it was more for learning the technique as the smith helped me reshape it. You know, a beginner blacksmith seeing a few techniques in the process. I'll look through all the old tools I have at home and, perhaps, an antique store, or two. Thanks again!
   Travis Parker - Tuesday, 10/19/04 17:34:01 EDT

Hi Guru,
Have you heard any good or bad feedback concerning the Euroanvil? I was also wondering about the difference between the Euroanvil versus say the Kohlswa or the Peddinghaus anvils. I visited a website and found the Euroanvil at a really decent price but I'm wondering about the old saying "You get what you pay for."
   Chad - Tuesday, 10/19/04 18:46:59 EDT

Ebay item number 6125718657

Is this anvil a blacksmiths anvil or part of some machine?

I've been given some Stellite rod. Is this metal suitable for making flypress tooling?
   Bob G - Tuesday, 10/19/04 18:50:44 EDT

Light Truck Tires --

I once made a site visit to an ore outloading operation (one of the few times they let me out of the office). The owner of the trucking company was complaining that he was losing money on his older, heavier trucks because a few more hundred more pounds of truck meant a few hundred less pounds of (legal) payload. He also said he only hired skinny drivers, but that may have been tongue-in-cheek.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 10/19/04 19:24:42 EDT

Tool steel question. My son has recently started coming in to the shop to try his hand and the first thing he wanted to make was a screwdriver for a friend as a gift. This first one was made out of a coil spring, welded tang and very nice wooden handle. He did a great job, but our question is, what would be the best steel for this kind of tool?

Thanks for any tips

Harry Foster
   Harry Foster - Tuesday, 10/19/04 20:41:57 EDT


I have been using a 178lb Euro for more than a year now. It is a really good anvil for the money. You will find that the face is not as hard as a good old PW ,Mouse Hole, etc., so watch your hammer control. Mine has an upsetting block on it, so if you are beating on the end of a piece with the cold end down, be sure you use the block. You can mar the face if you are not careful (don't ask how I know this). Also, it does not have the conventional step from the face to the horn, but it does have the second horn instead of a square tail, so it's kind of a trade-off. If you are used to using a conventional English pattern anvil, it will take a little getting used to. If I could get a really good PW of the same weight for the same price, I'd get the PW. But when you compare the price and condition of most of the vintage anvils on the market, the Euro is mighty hard to beat (in my opinion).
   Don A - Tuesday, 10/19/04 22:02:26 EDT

This is an off question, is there any place you can go to see somethings historical value? I have some items I want to find the value of.
   - NewSmith - Tuesday, 10/19/04 22:35:07 EDT

I meant online or maybe in the North Carolina area from what you know of.
   - NewSmith - Tuesday, 10/19/04 22:48:30 EDT

"Historical Value": That is an impossibity. Anything of true historical value is priceless. However, there ARE the prices collectors and museums pay for rare items.

Even though we deal a lot in the value of old tools and ocassionaly the collectors value of some anvils I avoid even guessing at collector's prices. They often have little to do with reality and just as easily fall as they rise. They are often driven by auction fever or collectors with more money than sense.

In some areas of tool collecting there are very good resources for evaluating items like Stanley planes and know makers of wood tools. But in blacksmithing there is no such standard. Even the prices on used tools like working vises and anvils are often regional. Along the East and West coast the price of tools is high but in Ohio and the rust belt the prices are as much as half. Often prices are strictly dependant on just HOW BAD you want that item and what YOU perceive the value to be.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/19/04 23:13:15 EDT

Screw Driver: Harry, The steel used from the coil spring would probably be as good or better than the best commercial screw drivers. The important part is the heat treating. As an unknown JunkYard Steel there are many caveats. See our JunkYard Steel FAQ and heat treating FAQs.

Welded tang? Unless it is a socketed handle it should be all one piece. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/19/04 23:22:00 EDT

Ebay 6125718657: Bob, That is an English hornless knifemakers anvil from the 1700's or early 1800's. In the US it would be a rare collector's item. Looks to be in good condition. The slot was used to hold various small tools that were held in place with a wedge. What is REALLY rare are the tools. I've never seen any much less seen them illustrated in a book or catalog. . .

It COULD be used as a regular use anvil as any hornless but as I mentioned, it is a collector's piece. The slot also gets in the way of doing regular work.

Stellite rod is a hard facing rod usualy used on super alloys. Very tricky to heat treat.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/19/04 23:34:14 EDT

Guru, sir-- Lessee, now, that's maybe a whopping 2.5 minutes per kid, if you only get a turnout of 20 smithlets. Wow! Take off 10 minutes as per union rules for clean-up, that leaves you 2 minutes for smiting. Whatcha might do is hand out safety glasses and 8-inch segments of 1/4-inch round stock when they arrive, have them all stick the rods in the already-up-to-speed fire, and let them each bang out a genuine hand-forged, Made in USA, and always-welcome S-hook for Mom to use in the kitchen. Be sure you make them put their little hammers away.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/20/04 01:13:08 EDT

Last night I read through the iforge #71 by Tannis on flexible hooks, and he mentioned using old rusty oil well cable. Doesn't the rust in a cable bother for welding, or does it add to the pattern in the weld? I have some old 1/2"+ cable on the junk pile here that I'm sure isn't oily inside, probably even rusted together a bit.
   Elliott Olson - Wednesday, 10/20/04 01:18:57 EDT

Tomah, WI is celebrating their sesquicentennial next year by holding a living history, Civil War reenactment next year on July 1, 2, & 3, 2005. We are looking for a blacksmith who will demonstrate the use of period (1860's)tools and show how it was done by blacksmiths of that era.
We are also looking for a farrier who will demonstrate how a horse was shoed in that era. (We are on I-94 about half way between Madison and Eau Claire)

We can offer $100 per man to cover the cost of transportation and (if necessary) an insurance rider on his own policy that will cover him for those three days. We also offer a free steer roast meal on Saturday night and there is free parking for campers. The event will take place at the Monroe Co. Fair grounds which has excellent toilet and shower facilities. If a qualified person has additional concerns, we would want to know of them and would make an effort to meet reasonable requests. The blacksmith would also have an opportunity to sell his crafts. This is a first time event which we hope will become an annual event and we expect between 3 to 5 thousand persons. Future events will not be held on a holiday.
In additon to the usual reenactment events - drills, battles, cotillion, etc., we are planning Friday as a living history day and that is the day we most particularily want both the blacksmith and the farrier. If they can be present only one day, Friday is the day. We are planning demonstrations of Civil War Era crafts, soap, butter, candle, rug, making, sheep shearing, spinning, weaving, pottery, etc. Each demonstrator will be offered the opportunity to sell his/her wares.

Please contact me at the above name and e-mail

Thank you. Marcia Staton
   Marcia Staton - Wednesday, 10/20/04 02:51:36 EDT

Elliot, I didn't see where Tannis mentioned "old rusty" in the demo, but if you flux twice like he suggests, you will at least get rid of any surface rust that might be present.

Harry, If you want known steel for screwdrivers, you could use W1 drill rod which comes in various diameters and 3 foot lengths. It has about 0.95% to 1% carbon content. After hardening, you should impart a "soft temper" to a screwdriver, meaning about 626F degrees. If using the heat rainbow that would be a gray/green. If tempered too hard, the torque in use would cause the shank or blade to snap.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/20/04 07:35:21 EDT

Tannis mentioned rusty cable in the Q&A but he did not recommend it. Then there is RUST and there is RUST. If a cable is rusted internaly it is almost impossible to forge weld. If you are interested in welding wire rope get a copy of the video by Wayne Goddard on the subject (see our review of the $50 Knife shop)
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/20/04 10:24:39 EDT

Hands on Time. . Yep, I already did that math. I was thinking of a chisle point and a twist. . . IF that much. I have made S hooks with Boy Scouts and it cannot be done in 2 minutes. It would be possible on a bending jig (with handle), cold, with no forging. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/20/04 10:30:18 EDT

How much can anvil ring be reduced? In theory, I need to have the sound be no louder than 60 decibels about 20 feet from where the anvil would be.

Yes, lawn mowers are louder, but I suspect that the anvil is going to get more attention (and be used more)...

   Dave Weinstein - Wednesday, 10/20/04 11:13:45 EDT

Paid Demonstrators: Marcia, You apparently have little clue to the economics of doing a blacksmithign demo.

1) If the demonstrator is doing a good job they make no sales. They do not have the time to. It requires a helper and inventory to make sales and rarely does it pay even when there are tens of thousands of visitors over a weekend.

2) Bringing a set of "period" tools requires that the smith HAS the tools, does not depend on them daily in their shop and it requires at least a day to load on a truck and a day to unload on return. You are talking an average of 500 pounds of tools. I used to carry a 1000 pounds of tools on a trailer that totaled 5000 pounds. . .

3) Demonstration items are often incomplete or unsellable and at best take too long to make while demonstrating to be profitable. Steel costs have tripled during Bush's administration and fuel costs are doubling and will probably have tripled by next June. Demo fuel will cost $20/day and steel to hammer on another $20/day. So you have a $40/day cost of materials to do a public demo. For a typical three day show that is $120 for materials.

4) The individual's out of pocket costs for food, fuel and misc. will easily be more than $100/day unless they happen to live next door to your fairgounds. Remember there will be 2 or more prep and travel days. That cost does not include lost income.

5) At today's cost a truck traveling 200 miles round trip will easily eat up that $100 in fuel. . .

I recently did a demo with a friend who was paid to do the demo, had their room and board paid, I volunteered, they made sales from a large display and there was tens of thousands of visitors. . . On the whole everyone lost money. On top of that it was just plain HARD work. We do these things because we LOVE it but it is nice to at least break even. . .

I ocassionaly do public demonstrations and help friends do demos as mentined above. Offers of payment are usualy a joke. You have to do it because you love it and want to provide the public with a free education. Otherwise the fair price is hundreds of dollars per day plus food travel and motel allowance.

A professional smith's time and equipment are worth about $100/hour (those antique tools you want are NOT cheap, and neither are NEW tools). If they volunteer their time then you can reduce that to $50/hour. For a hobby smith there are also costs in the form of of lost wages, wear and tear on their truck, lost and broken tools, the expenses enumerated above. . .

Many of us are living with our head in a world where $100 was a lot of money. Today it dissapears in an instant even though it is still hard to come by.

$100 daily demo fees were fair when gasoline cost 35 cents a gallon ( 8 cents liter) and you could buy a new Toyota for less than $3,000 US and nobody called the EPA because a little coal smoke drifted into their backyard. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/20/04 11:30:00 EDT

Reducing Anvil Ring: Dave it depends somewhat on the anvil and how you hit it. It is possible too strike a good cast steel American pattern anvil on the horn or heel, expecially from the side and create sound levels that are painful.

The shape the anvil also makes a difference. Heavy waisted old pattern anvils did not make as much noise as the later narrow wasited long horned anvils such as the American pattern. The shape of the American pattern is not only noisy but its dual masses (base and top) coupled by the narrow waist creates great sustain (like a tuning fork).

Anvil hardness effects the noise level. The harder the anvil the higher the frequency.

So, anvil types determine your starting point. If you are really concered about noise you will search for and buy a good old Fisher Norris Eagle anvil. These are a cast iron body with a tool steel face and are very quite compared to wrought and all steel anvils.

Clamping the anvil tightly to a dampening wood base reduces the sound of most anvils by about 50% but NOT if struck horizontaly. Some folks bed the anvil in silicon caulk and claims that helps. Steel stands transmit noise and are not as quite as wood stands.

The room/shop conditions make a big difference in noise levels inside AND out. Hard flat surfaces reflect sound and in some cases can focous it to create louder than loud sound nodes. Such surfaces can reflect sound a long way (hundreds of feet). Sound deadening materials on the walls and ceiling help reduce the transmission of the offending sound. Gravel or dirt floors are better in this respect to concrete.

Sound deading materials and their application is and art. Absorbing sound requires both non-reflective cells and mass. Lead filled plastics and lead laminated into panels has been found to be one of the BEST sound deadening materials. However, you have to consider the toxicity of the lead and its future disposal. Tin foil (real tin, not aluminium or steel) is also a soft high density material that is used as a lead substitute in fibreglass (fire proof) theater curtains.

Sound deadening ceiling tiles have the sound absorbing and distributing cells but depend on something with mass behind them to absorb the sound.

Fibreglass and foam insulation (behind a fire resistant surface) helps.

You hear people say that tapestries were used to help warm a castle HA! But they DID help deaden noise that would rattle along the hard surfaces and around corners for hundreds of feet. . .

Reducing sound transmisions must be looked at from more than just the source.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/20/04 12:07:02 EDT

More on Anvil Deadening:

It would be a #225 Peter Wright, in a 2 car garage with a concrete floor.

Is getting it down to 60 decibels reasonable? Also, if I setup an NC Forge propane forge in the garage, would I have to have the garage door fully open, or could I have it partly open to help minimize the sound going out?

Thanks again,
   Dave Weinstein - Wednesday, 10/20/04 12:47:26 EDT

Dave Weinstein, I use a 143lb Peter Wright in a two car garage with a concrete floor. I used a couple of flat steel plates to bolt it to an elm stump that sits on the floor, and I can control the sound from deafening to a dull thump by tightening the 5" lag screws. I don't know what the sound pressure in decibels is, but it's no louder than hitting wood when tightly bolted.

I don't know about the forge. I use coal with a large chimney. You will need good ventilation regardless.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/20/04 13:13:02 EDT

New question:

I have two shafts of about 2-3ft long, about two inches in diameter. They're from an Isuzu Rodeo, I think(I work in an Isuzu shop) and they're probably extremely hard, from what I'm told. Would there be a chance that I could heat these up, anneal them, and cut them to correct lengths and make hammers from them?
   Travis Parker - Wednesday, 10/20/04 14:58:57 EDT

Oops. Correction on the above: the shafts are drive axles from Isuzu medium duty trucks.
   Travis Parker - Wednesday, 10/20/04 15:00:39 EDT

Hi there. I've got this can o' pitch, 32 oz.. What's the best way to get it out into smaller portions? I've considered wacking it with a sledge or setting it in the oven but I read somewhere that it's not good to get pitch [from Rio] heated to a running consistency. Any suggestions? My thanks, Angela
   Ajootian - Wednesday, 10/20/04 15:10:11 EDT

Wrapping a heavy chain around the waist or hanging one off the horn are also traditional ways of quieting an anvil down as is sticking a bick in the pritchel or something in the hardy hole that won't be a knuckle target but will be loose enough to absorb some of the sound energy.

Truck axles are generally good hammer material.

Doing accurate re-enactment is more of a disease than a job; know some ACW folks that paid 600 dollars for an artillery tube and then coughed up $3K for an accurate carriage for it.

At the hard core level *every* piece can be documented back to an original from the time. Many folks assume that "old" is good enough for ACW; but there were some changes that came right after the ACW due to the increased factory production cranking out stuff and with the ries of the Bessemer/Kelly converter and the introduction of mild steel. (to be completely accurate the ACW smith should be using wrought iron and shear steel for the most part.)

Your best bet is to look locally for someone who has the bug and has been getting their kit together. Do you have simeone who can vet their set up and see if it will meet the standards you've chosen?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/20/04 15:40:19 EDT

Forge in Garage: How much door opening needed varies. Is your garage finished with a ceiling? Are there sofit vents? Windows? Other doors? How high is the ceiling (I've had "2 car" garages with 14 foot ceilings)? Does it attach to a house? Does the door face the prevailing wind? Where are wind/breeze obstuctions? All these things effect shop ventilation. In a typical modern garage I would keep both doors AND any windows fully opened using ANY size gas forge. If the only doors are the front drive in doors there may not be sufficient ventilation with both open if the breeze tries to blow IN rather than across. . .

You cannot have enough ventilation in a blacksmith shop. In many places the law requires a stack to ventilate ANY gas appliance including forges.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/20/04 16:06:39 EDT

On another note, I seem to have found a good shape muffler that could possibly be used to connect a blower to a tuyere. Question is, will this muffler hold up to the heat as well as it does on a vehicle, as there should never really be any back-flow of air into the muffler when attached to the tuyere. But will the heat of the forge play into increased rust/decay of the metal, as I have seen on other kinds of pipe/tubing?
   Travis Parker - Wednesday, 10/20/04 16:16:18 EDT

Deadening the Anvil's Ring: Tying it down will usually help somewhat. My Peter Wright anvil sits on a truncated pyramid of concrete with an angle iron box on top. If the anvil sits loose in the box, it will ring like a bell. If I tighten it down with bolts thru the side of the box (put there for that purpose) then there is almost no noise. Wrap some chain over your anvil base and use a turnbuckle to tighten down to your stump or stand - the noise will likely diminish.
   HWooldridg - Wednesday, 10/20/04 16:17:15 EDT

Forge in Garage: The ceilings are a story and a half tall, there is a door leading into the house. There is no statutory requirement for a stack according to the local authorities.

The sound limitation is 60 decibels (averaged over 60 seconds) taken from the closest property line of a formal complainant (if the neighbors don't care, there is never an issue, but you never know when the neighbors will change).
   Dave Weinstein - Wednesday, 10/20/04 16:19:55 EDT

I have recently purchased a hand-cranked blower made by Canadian Forge and Blower Company. I've located the oil fill hole, but cannot find a drain plug. Could they be one and the same? I am not sure if any blowers had this design. I have a couple of pictures if they would help anyone.
   - Blackhammer - Wednesday, 10/20/04 16:41:15 EDT

60 Decibels averaged over 60 seconds.... The Law Folk could have a field day with this one. What's your average blow-count in one minute, and how much down/silent time is there between the hits for that average?

I remember in the past a number of people touting the use of speaker magnets to dampen the sound of an anvil. I do not recall if it was decided that this was a sound practice or not. I seem to recall someone mentioning that the audible sound seemed to be reduced, but the electronically detected decibel level was the same. Anyone else recall that thread with better clarity?
   Monica - Wednesday, 10/20/04 16:52:15 EDT

Travis: A muffler would work, but it would increase the amount of work you have to do to get air into the fire, which is generally a bad thing. My blower is connected with 3" gas vent pipe under the forge where it's hot, 3" flexible dryer vent from there to the blower. Never had a problem.

Dave W.: If anyone in your neighborhood has a leaf blower, they're in violation for several hundred feet. The usual complaint about smithing operations that don't use coal is vibration from power hammers. The big ones you can feel, even if you can't hear them. I wouldn't worry about it with hand hammers and a well-secured anvil.

Blackhammer: No blower I've ever seen has a drain plug. If you want to drain the oil, you take the gear cover off and pour the whole thing out. Keep in mind they are designed to leak while in use. They do not have bearing seals and are designed to keep the bearings clean and lubricated through leakage.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/20/04 16:54:59 EDT

Actually, the town ordinance has a specific exemption for lawn machinery (mowers, blowers, etc) so long as they are used within specified hours.
   Dave Weinstein - Wednesday, 10/20/04 16:56:32 EDT

The muffler is actually exactly the width of the original portable forge tuyere connection, so unless the single ninety degree bend in the pipe wil decrease efficiency drastically, I would think it would work, right? I'm not talking about using the whole length of the thing, just the smal section I intend on having between my blower and forge(basically, as close as I can get it, to increase efficiency).

Not to ask questions, then argue about the answers, I just didn't offer enough info, I think, to give an accurate description.

Thanks again!
   Travis Parker - Wednesday, 10/20/04 17:03:06 EDT

Travis Parker,
In the last 15 years or so, forged axle shafts have been of two alloys in America. The Japenese products have been of the two same alloys, of those I have seen spec's on. When I started at an axle forge shop a couple of years ago, I had the understanding (from books and demos) that axles were 4140. I was quickly told otherwise. The alloys that we use are speced by the OEMs, and are 1045H for axles 1 3/8" unforged billet od and below, and 1541H for bigger. The exception is for heavy equipment axle shafts, with these staying with the traditional 4140.(We forge 5.5" shafts to have a 21" flange!)
The H modifier is for the alloy additions to allow scanning induction hardening. It allows for a very fast, deep, case and core type condition. With the right heat treat, these alloys make excellent hammers etc.
As few of us have induction heat treating equipment, I suggest that an oil quench be tried. These alloys are very sensitive to grain growth and quench cracking. This equates to not holding the part at temp for any longer than required to attain depth of heat, quench in oil and temper within 45 minutes. (The last is an industry standard).
I have bending forks, and a hot cut made from this material.
Course I had unheat treated material to work with:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/20/04 17:40:27 EDT

Making Hammers: IMO not a beginners project.
   adam - Wednesday, 10/20/04 18:53:12 EDT

Travis: Not arguing back at you, but maybe I'm not understanding... You are talking about a muffler as in large oval object full of baffle plates, etc. with an inlet and outlet pipe, specifically designed to reduce noise from internal combustion engines? If so, these operate with an amount of back pressure. If you're using a centrifugal electric fan, no problem. If you are using hand crank, bellows, or electric squirrel cage blowers, possible problem. Probably not a major thing, but if you can't get enough air into the fire you won't get a good heat.

If you are talking about just a length of exhaust pipe with a 90 degree bend, no worries. I have two 90's in my setup with a hand crank, not to mention the flex tube.

This may be just my interpretation, but when you say muffler I think of the whole thing. On the plus side if you ARE talking about a whole muffler, any smoke detonation from watering green coal would take place within the baffles rather than in the blower, which could save you some tubing and some underwear (grin!)!
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/20/04 19:47:37 EDT

Ptree, a small modification of your otherwise erudite explanation of axel shafts. The "H" designation indicates a controlled hardenability. This means it is very repeatable within a narrow range of response to any appropriate heat treatment. They have the same alloys as non-H steels but the combination of alloys create a standard controlled hardenability. It does make good sense to use H steels with induction hardening.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 10/20/04 20:01:44 EDT

Forging in the garage: I run a Whimper Baby in my 2-car garage. I always open both doors and keep the forge near the doors. These forges tend to burn with excess air so I would not expect much CO to be created. However, why take a chance? I have a 170# two-horned classic anvil from Old World. I wrapped a chain around the base and lag bolted it to a 2x6 A-frame with a 100# block of steel down near the floor to drop the center of gravity. I guess it is reasonably quiet because I have never had a neighbor complain.

Exercise Your Right to VOTE!
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 10/20/04 20:09:04 EDT

Hello all, I'm trying to make a cannon for a living history organization. The methods I've found include heat shrinking iron bands around the tube. How is that done, start to finish?
   Bryce - Wednesday, 10/20/04 20:19:30 EDT

Marcia Staton, The head guru is correct in his summation of expenses, and so on. On the plus side, because reenactments are popular at present, you'll probably find what you're looking for, and you might even find smiths and farriers who can dress in period clothing. But to reiterate, for those folks, it would have to be a labor of love and the chance to go to an "event". To be close to authentic, the smiths and farriers of that period worked in pairs. A smith would work with a striker who wielded a sledge, and the experienced farrier would have been the "fireman", the one who made the shoes. The fireman worked with a "floorman", the grunt who got under the horse, dressed the feet and nailed on. Again, to give you an idea of prices, a horseshoer nowadays usually gets between $100 and $150 per horse for shoeing, and it takes about an hour once he or she is on the job site.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/20/04 20:37:29 EDT

Yes the H is as you stated in your post. These grades will do a repeatable case and core, using a scanner induction heater. This is a somewhat difficult heat treating application, requiring the H type steel. I simplfied my explantion a bit as most will never see a scanner, and I was trying to convey the sensitivity to grain growth and quench cracking. These scanners can only heat about 2 to 3" of a shaft lenght, but transverse a 50" shaft, heating and quenching in about a minute. The alloy modifications for this application yeild a very high D ratio, and all that goes with that.
For those wanting a source of good hammer making stock, in a standard 4140, look at skid steer loader axles, or crawler tractor axles. Semis, Group 8 trucks, will yeild about 35# of 2 1/4" heat treated 1541H per shaft less the flange. They will be hard enough to strip the teeth off a bandsaw blade. The spline end can make a neat texture tool.
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/20/04 20:40:59 EDT

Where else can one read a discussion of the relative merits of a modified alloy, used in a very specialized heat treat pratice, between a school trained, professional metalurgist and a jack of all trades with a 20 year old home study course in metalurgy? All to benefit someone they have never met, who wants to make a hammer from some scrounged steel!

only on Anvilfire. Join CSI! Join the fun!
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/20/04 21:03:18 EDT

Actually, not one hammer, about ten of them, if the scrap permits. *Grin*

I intend on having one or two hammers made for myself, perhaps more after. This is not a project I am doing alone, another blacksmith offered to help me out at this Sunday's Gulf Coast Blacksmith's Association meeting. So, I don't believe I will be doing most of the work. However, I will be bringing all of my current projects too, to get a good word or two from some of the more learned smiths.

By the way, the pipe I'm using from the muffler won't be the entire thing, neither will I start with the whole exhaust system. There is just the rear end of the exhaust system, which, with two sets of bends, not quite ninety degrees in angle, but more like seventy-five, that I will cut into appropriate lengths to reach from the side of the forge, under it, to my tuyere.

Thanks again!
   Travis Parker - Wednesday, 10/20/04 23:25:42 EDT

Dave Weinstein,

One thing that the guru touched, but did not elaborate on, is sound deadening. Since your structure is fixed, and the number of openings is fixed, the only places you have left to reduce transmitted noise it by reducing the noise generated and absorbing as much as you can before it leaves the building.

Peter Wright anvils are noisy if not mounted very securely to someting that will absorb the resonant vibrations. Wood or concrete will do this pretty well if you follow the suggestions about snugging it down to the base. Bolts, turnbuckles or clamps, as tight as you can get them. Some rtv silicone caulk underneath it will help, IF it maqkes a true adhesive joint. If it just acts as a cushion, it will only exacerbate the noise. Old fashioned glazer's putty will work, too.

To help absorb the sound generated by the anvil, and thus reduce the amount transmitted to the outside, use every method that you can. Hang fabric from the walls, and hand hang some fabric banners from the rafters as well. The local discount store should have some relatively inexpensive fiberglass draperies that would work just fine. The ones with the rubbery backing for light blocking are better than the plain ones, btw. If you want to floss up your shop while decreasing noise, cutout soe anvil silhouettes form a contrasting color of fabrica nd glue them on the pieces that you hang down from the rafters. Your shop will look just like a convention center and you'll be the envy of every smith in the state. (grin) Areas of the floor that aren't subject to hot things being dropped on them can benefit from having remnants of carpet strewn around.

If you're going to have your anvil sitting directly in front of the open doors, you can dramatically reduce the noise your neighbors hear by making a baffle wall to put between the anvil and the doorway. Make a simple framework of wood or pipe and fill it with a pieceof scrap indoor/outdoor carpet. The fuzzy side facing the anvil, of course. Make it so the bottom of the carpet is a few inches above the floor and the top is about shoulder high, by about four feet wide. You can move it around as needed, to keep it between the source of the noise and the doorway. Wool carpet is better about scale burns, but any of them can be treated with a solution of borax and water to be flame retardant. You could even use something fireprooof, but fabric absorbs noises better.

You can buy inexpensive sound level meters at Radio Shack. It might pay to get one and do smoe checking as you try various things. If nothing else, it clearly demonstrates your desire to practice effective noise abatement. As a last resort, buy a leaf blower and run it while you are forging. The neighbors won't hear the forging over the "legal" blower, believe me.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/21/04 00:17:45 EDT

Mufflers and a blacksmith shop.......
I did not see the first part of the story, and I am too lazy to search for it.
But I am guessing that you are looking at useing exhaust pipe ( AKA muffler) as part of your air delivery system?
I am using a foil heat duct tube ( looks like a dryer vent tube but is metallic and not plastic) It cost only a few bucks and I can 'reposition' it at will. SO far it has worked well for 7 years. Just a different idea.
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/21/04 00:32:05 EDT

Deadening anvils. I have had good luck with using some old tar and felt type roof shingles. No tried thte RTV yet, but then for some odd reason my PW does not ring as loud as others I have heard.
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/21/04 00:33:36 EDT

Strong, heavy magnets placed on the underside of the horn and tail damp considerable sound...I use a couple , the weaker one falls off if i'm thumping the extreme end of the horn for a long time. It's necessary to romove the "hair" they collect.
I've been wondering if I'm going to wind up with a magnatized anvil, which would be a real nuisance.
The most effective method of damping anvil ringing is to sit firmly on one end of the anvil...keep a straight face.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 10/21/04 03:42:58 EDT

Travis, if I read you correctly you are just talking about a length of exhaust pipe with no internal obstructions? If so, it isn't a muffler. Terminology is a good thing. If it's a recently made exhaust pipe, it may even be stainless!
   Alan-L - Thursday, 10/21/04 08:50:46 EDT

“Back Heat” and Firepots; Travis:

In my experience, not a lot of heat gets transferred to the air inlet in a modern firepot. On my wood-framed coal forge the blower (from an old copying machine) is attached to a plain pine plank, which is then bolted directly to the flange of the firepot. At least 14+ years for this rig, and so far no sign of burning on the plank (of course, now I’ll have to go look; time for its lubrication, anyway). Certainly any piece of a car exhaust system should fare very well.

Banded Cannon; Bryce:

I saw your earlier post on this or another blacksmithing or reenacting bulletin board, but was not able to find it when I did a search. Constructing a “stave-built” cannon barrel was and is pretty tricky, and involves a lot of work. Is this going to be a muzzle or breach loader? What bore/caliber/pound gun are you thinking of? Do you have a plan or historic example in mind? When it comes time to proof-test it (usually double charged and double shotted) are you ready to watch a lot of work blast itself to pieces (from a safe distance, of course)?

Not trying to discourage you, but such a project will involve a lot of work, material, knowledge and skill. The originals were treacherous, and sometimes of more hazard to their employers than to the enemy. Some of my friends have built barrels using modern pipe, and successfully proofed them, but to try to build a safe stave-built barrel is a large order even for a skillful smith. (Also, one of the reasons why royalty and nation-states tended to end up with the artillery, whereas nobles and peasants usually didn’t.)

As for shrinking-on the rings; this calls for very close tolerances and LOTS of uniform rings (at least with a uniform inside diameter. Then you need to slide them down the barrel and into position before they cool and seize in place. Assuming that the barrel is uniform along its length, you could start at the middle and work towards both ends, although many barrels were thicker, and also had thicker rings, at the breach end where the pressures were greatest.

I’m sure others will chime in also. It would certainly be an interesting project, and there’s nothing like a little cannon fire in the morning to keep the neighbors on their toes. (…or at least my neighbors, who have gotten used to coehorn mortars, one-pounder falconets and proof tests over the years.)

Wet and warm on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

The Camp Fenby Autumn Session is canceled.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/21/04 09:00:51 EDT

If sound is a make or break issue, trade theat PW in for a Fisher. Fisher's are good quality anvils and a whole lot quieter---my new shop lets me use the 515# Fisher I've had sitting in the anvil stack and I'm so looking forward to the reduction in sound!

Bryce the big question is "Will this cannon *EVER* be fired?" I sure wouldn't want to give instructions only to be sued as a contributing party if it blows up due to something I had no control over---this is what your're risking in reality. The fact that you don't know how already makes me a tad nervous about the other stuff that must be done *RIGHT* to start with and even then cannons blowing up were a common occurance in the early days. I have a falconette that I lent to a local Santa Maria replica. Even let them fire it when a friend of mine who I trusted was on the staff---when he left I found that his replacement was over loading it to try for a bigger bang---it left with me that day! And I probably should pay a chunk of money to make sure the tube's not been damaged. It still makes me shudder to think about it...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/21/04 12:13:46 EDT

I have a question about a striker power hammer I hope you can help me with. I worked with a 6th generation blacksmith for 3 1/2 years and he was using a 75# hammer, he said the model is a "Bull". I have my own shop now and I really like this power hammer and want to purchase one, but can't find one (or anything like it) anywhere.
The biggest reason for wanting this particular hammer is it's size, it is very compact...nothing like the Little Giants, or any other power hammer I have seen. Also, the fact that it ran on air was a bonus too. I have a picture of one if you need it.
Any information would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you,
   Missy W - Thursday, 10/21/04 12:36:33 EDT

Sorry about the terminology mix-up. I am no car mechanic, though I work in a shop cleaning up, doing oil changes, tire rotations and all, but I've only been working here a short while and, before this, have had no real exposure to car mechanics. So, sorry again about that. I think it is exhaust pipe, no obstructions. Thanks for your patience, everyone.

   Travis Parker - Thursday, 10/21/04 13:50:34 EDT

Bull Hammer: Missy, The original small Bull hammer is no longer in production. However, Tom Troszak the fellow that designed and built the Bull is restarting his hammer business after losing the original to some shady investors. . . See PhoenixHammer.com. I've been telling Tom he should redesign the original Bull for easier production and go back into building them. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 10/21/04 14:40:09 EDT

Banded Stave Built Cannon: Sorry I missed the original question. I saw it and was going to answer latter.

The original question was about the iron strap and band type barrel. These were made by fitting heavy bars of wrought iron together like thick barrel staves and then bands were shrunk on to hold them together. There is nothing complicated about it other than the fact that you are forging very heavy pieces of iron and then painstakingly hand fitting them together. All the fits must be chisled, filed and hand scraped until they fit so that you cannot see light pass between the fits. The bands to shrink on are similarly fitted but undersized a few thousandths or an inch, then heated to 300-600 degrees F (less than a red heat) and then hammered on and allowed to cool to shrink the parts together tightley. Shrink fits must be carefully engineered or you create too much "hoop stress" and the band can pull apart or be over stressed PRIOR to the working load being applied. The bands were often polygonal further complicating the fits and allowances.

All this can be done with the most primitive of tools and a great deal of patience. You can also do it with modern machine tools and a lot of experiance.

Only a few of such cannon were made so they were all different. They were also quite dangerous as noted and were only made for a brief period. They were replaced by cast iron and cast bronze cannon. Cast bronze cannon were much better than iron because of the higher strength and ductility of bronze. But they were also much more expensive.

Anyone seriously interested in this subject will find that there are books on arms and armour that cover the basic construction and that there are some old examples in museum collections. After finding the exact construction then you will need to creat your own detailed plans, do your own engineering and determine the construction method to use. Its one of those questions that if you have to ask here then you really have no business considering constructing.

Thomas' question about wether or not the cannon will ever be fired is a good one. If no, then you start with (precision) flame cut slabs designed to have only a short faux bore at the end then weld and band together. . In other words a big iron sculpture. It would be heavy and ugly just like the originals. . . And still cost a few thousand in materials to make.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/21/04 15:05:16 EDT

Noise: As you noted if the neighbors don't complain then there is no problem regardless of the technical details in decibles. In fact, even if you more than meet the technical details, if the neighbors complain then you are screwed anyway. You get into he-said she-said type arguments and the local authorities will most often take the side of the complaintent just to avoid getting involved any further. . .

One solution that has been offered here many times is to introduce yourself to your neighbors, let them know about your hobby and to offer a sample as a gift. Most folks will think that knowing a blacksmith is SO NEAT that future problems will be averted. Don't tell them you are making swords or weapons. Tell them about making old fashioned latches and hinges or decorative horseshoes. . . Don't argue the horeseshoe point.

The absolute WORST tools for noise is a circular saw or Skill saw. These are harsh, high decible things that the noise carries for miles. You may hear nothing else from a nearby construction site but will will ALWAYS hear those saws. . . The second worst is angle grinders on plate, a common metalworking tool often found in a blacksmith shop. The sound is loud and fairly continous. Chop saws are similar. It is much worse than the ocassional ring of an anvil. Power hammers are also louder than working at the anvil. Good ones properly setup are not too bad but many are beng put on hollow stands that should be filled but are not. . .

The anvil is not the worst problem. .
   - guru - Thursday, 10/21/04 15:29:49 EDT

I'm planning on talking to my neighbors. However, I'm a raw beginner, so the best I could offer would be to make them a strangely shaped piece of metal bar.
   Dave Weinstein - Thursday, 10/21/04 16:15:59 EDT

i am getting started in blacksmithing, i plan on at least and i need some info one what would be good to start off, so my parents can purchas me some things, i am wanting to make some heavy stuff like axes, and yet somethings like shelf hangers, i would like to know what would be good for like hamers.
   JNugget - Thursday, 10/21/04 16:31:21 EDT

Dave - Look in the I-forge demo at the j hooks, or the drive hooks. They are quick, simple, and look neat when you're done. They're also, in my opinion, good expiriences in tapers, scrolls and twists.
   Monica - Thursday, 10/21/04 18:00:58 EDT

Sigh. Spelling's NOT my strong point.
   Monica - Thursday, 10/21/04 18:01:29 EDT

JNugget, An axe is a pretty advanced project and is a BIG piece of iron. I am not sure what you are looking to have your parents buy. Tools? See our Getting Started article for a brief list. Even shorter:


You do not need a bunch of hammers. What you NEED is one hammer the right weight for you. For beginers this is about a 2 to 2-1/2 pound (800 to 1000g) cross peen hammer. A 4 pound is in the sledge range at this time in your career and can hurt you.

A lighter (400g or 16oz) ball pien is good for riveting.
Working alone you rarely need a sledge but it IS possible to wield a short handled 3500g or 8 pound sledge single handedly for a few blows.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/21/04 18:26:11 EDT

Thanks for the help on the cannon. No, we don't ever intend to fire it, we've all read too many first hand accounts of those things bursting in battle. We have professionally made guns for the battle demonstrations and they work at a distance, though they are of a *much* later period. Yeah, Thomas, I'd likely have that one x-rayed to be sure there are no cracks as well. Thanks again.
   Bryce - Thursday, 10/21/04 19:35:38 EDT

Is the Stanley Blacksmith's Hammer (Model 56-218) suitable for use, or is it misnamed?

   Dave Weinstein - Thursday, 10/21/04 19:49:25 EDT

Dave Weinstein,

That hammer can be used, although it would not be my first choice. The weight is okay, assuming you are reasonably fit. I usually suggest a 2# hammer to start iwth, but 2-1/2# is within reason.

The fibreglass handle is something that I personalloy detest, and would not use under almost any circumstances. They shock the wrist joint unnecesarily and can't be modified to suit individual preference. When you're just starting out, you haven't yet developed a preference in things like handle shape and flex, so it isn;t as big an issue, but it still matters. A wooden handle that is more rectangular in cross section is a bit easier to control when learning, and hammer control is the first thing you need to develop. I would look for a similar hammer but with a wooden handle. After a year or so, you may find you want to "adjust" the handle to suit yourself, and you will be able to.

That hammer, and nearly all hammers made today, will need to have the cross pein dressed properly. As shipped fromthe factory, the pein is far too narrow and too straight and has sharp corners. All those need to be fixed before the hammer is ready to use.

A good radius for the pein is about the same as your little finger. Those narrow peins move metal too rapidly and invite cold shuts (places where the metal laps over itself). Also, the pein should have a very slight curvature longitudinally; something on the order of a 3 foot radius. Enough so you can see that it is slightly curved, but not more than that. While you're doing all this, the corners of the pein, as well as the corners of the flat face, need to eased so that they don't crease the metal. Otherwise, you have another place to get cold shuts or cracks. the "flat" face is best dressed so that it has a slightly convex contour, too.

If yo check around used tool shops, thrift stores, pawn shops and flea markets, you can often find a used cross pein hammer for a buck or two. If it has a chip or two on th epien, remember what you're plannig to do about dressing it and you'll usually see that you're going to wind up removing the chipped area completely.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/21/04 21:51:17 EDT

I concurr with vicopper. I usually dress the face first, and do so such that there is a GOOD crown on it.
Then I use that as the reference and dress the pein to match. What does that mean? I give the pein the same crown. When I am done it will look like the face if you were to remove all but the center 1/3 or so of the face.
I then basically polish it the first time. After that I just smooth it out as needed to remove any nicks etc as they show up
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/21/04 23:08:29 EDT

Power Hammer Assembly Question.

I am almost ready to begin reassembly of the power hammer I am rebuilding. My question has to do with lubricating it during the assembly process.

My normal thinking would be that I should use a high quality grease on the shafts and bearings when I assemble them. Is that ok with somthing like this? Or, will the grease prevent the oil from working its way in? Also, once I start running it, what kind and weight of oir should I run? I would assume just a plain 30 or 40 weight motor oil would be fine. Is that correct?

Thanks for any suggestions.

   FredlyFX - Friday, 10/22/04 00:30:36 EDT

Missy W.
The Chinese hammers like the stryker seem to be a mixed bag with some performing excellently and others with multiple problems. Anyang was poor about fixing things that were defective, they may be better now.
My friend with a recent stryker has had it for almost a year, has put dozens of hours into it, visits from the factory rep, and it still doesn't work properly...He is a talented mechanic.
Some people love them.
My former apprentice finally got his running and is very pleased.
I'm inclined to think of them as if one were buying a used hammer that will probably need work.
   - Pete F - Friday, 10/22/04 01:25:59 EDT

Machine Assembly Lube: Fredly, Your guress that the grease can often clog oil holes and grooves is right. Only grease places that are greased in operation.

Over the years I have used 2 machine assemply lubes on engines. One was to apply molybdenum disulphide assembly lube to the newly machined surfaces. This dries and does not provide much initial lubrication. The other was a mix of 50% SAE 30 or SAE 10w40 and STP. This made a very sticky lube that did not run off. This was my prefered lube.

Now. . . that said. These were for engines with pumped pressure lubrication systems designed to be flooded with lubricant at all times. They also might sit for weeks before the first dry operation. On machine tools I just wipe on some oil as I assemble the shafts. They lubricate as normal as soon as I can turn the shaft over.

The fact that you OIL the machine is more important that what weight oil you use. I prefer SAE 20w20 non-detergent oil for machines. The reason for non-detergent oil is that it is often used to coat ways and sliding fits to prevent rust as well as lubricate. Detergent engine oils are designed to absorb moisture and do so from the air. They tend to increase corrosion in non-automotive applications. In your automobile the oil is heated to well over the boiling point of water every time it is operated and this dries the oil. Without this the oil absorbs a lot of water and you can get rust UNDER the oil.
   - guru - Friday, 10/22/04 09:29:05 EDT

Fiberglass Hammer Handles: The problem with these is that there are good ones and bad ones. Most are bad. I HAD a good carpenters hammer that had a rubber grip covered fiberglass handle that I used to build my shop that was very good. The handle was octagonal and about the same proportions as a wood handle of the same style. It had plenty of flex and the balance was correct. I bought another hammer from the same supplier and they had changed manufacturers (to China) and the handle was too stiff, too bulky and not well balanced. THAT ugly hammer is still lying around while my good one walked off. . . :(

The advantage to fiberglass handles is that they do not weather and loosen like wood. The disadvantages are:
  • That they are usualy a factory only deal and not readily replaced by the user.
  • They cannot be reshaped by the user. Many smiths and other craftsfolk rework every wood handle to their preferred fit and feel.
  • They are often too stiff and because they cannot be trimmed they cannot be fixed.
  • The hammer eye is often not suitable to use a wood replacement handle.
  • Although they do not crack and split they can be cut exposing raw fibreglass and weaking the handle.

Lots of folks like them because you can toss them in the back of a truck or outdoor tool chest and not worry about them. The fact that the heads do not loosen is also a good feature.

My opinion is that wood is the perfect handle material. However, good fibreglass handles are a suitable substitute if properly engineered. The problem is that many are not.

The reason tool makers like fibreglass handles is that they do not require a skilled worker to install and the quality is always uniform. The quality of wood varies greatly and unless wood for handles is split out (not sawed) the grain can run at an angle to the handle and the handle WILL fail.
   - guru - Friday, 10/22/04 09:55:36 EDT

Hammers in General: Back in the early 1970's I bought several Channellock brand Blacksmiths hammers in different weights (looking for the right weight). They all came with a machine crowned, chamfered and hand polished face. The faces while not perfect for smithing were used tham AS-IS and I still do. The piens were terrible with sharp sides and I have just recently dressed them.

Most hammers made today are so poorly shaped that they are absolutely useless as purchased. This includes the good German made hammers sold by folks such as Kayne and Son, Centaur, Pieh Tool and others. However, many of these cost LESS today than the hammers I bought 32 years ago. The German logic (I am told) is that every craftsperson should know what they want in a hammer face and dress their own. The $15 - $20 prices are acceptable but you need to KNOW that these are not ready to use tools.

The first problem is that there are many hammer types that the proper dress was determined a hundred years ago and good factories applied those dressing and hammers were useable AS-IS as tools should be. Today there are many factories making hammers that use poorly programmed CNC machines or untrained workers to "dress" their hammers. I have seen ball piens with almost conical points and striking hammers with faces 1/8" (3mm) out of square. Many machine dressed hammers have heavy spiral tool marks from dull tools fed too fast. . . They general quality has dropped significantly and even the tools from places were workers get paid pennies and hour do not have the hand work put into them that they should.

The second problem is that there are many folks that are new to the field and they have never seen or used a properly dressed hammer and even if they have they do not have the skills to properly dress one. Even given the tools, instruction and examples it is easy to take too much off corners or make the face too flat or too curved. It is picky work that requires a good eye.

So for most folks, especialy the unexperianced they are better off buying old used hammers because they were better than those made today and most, though not perfect were originaly usable as-is. If the faces are dinged or damaged they can be dressed back to the original shape by simply removing an equal amount of material all over. It does not hurt to make the edges a little softer.

I prefer used hammers unhandled for two reasons. The first is that they are easier to dress without the handle in the way. The second is that most fleamarket hammers with new handles cost more AND the handles are poorly installed. So you are paying for something that will need to be removed and replaced. . .

I have been working on an article on dressing hammers but the curves are so subtle they are difficult to show and more difficult to convey their importance. For some it also requires the expense of purchasing new undressed hammers to start with. . .
   - guru - Friday, 10/22/04 10:33:00 EDT

Hi I'm about to make a stainless steel gate, any tips on what types of stainless are forgable and how to retain their stainless properties after being forged.It's going to be on the ocean front. thanks Cary
   Cary Lowney - Friday, 10/22/04 10:47:37 EDT

More beginner questions:

The "one brick" Forge from Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop involves carving (or drilling) a hole lengthwise through a soft firebrick, and adding a small fire hole, and heating the whole thing with a propane torch.

This sounds like it's within my admittedly modest construction skills, am I underestimating the dificulty, or does this make for a good cheap "beginner" forge?
   DaveW - Friday, 10/22/04 11:13:39 EDT

Guru, Most fleamarket hammers that have been re-handled are done *really* *badly* sometimes so much that you can re-seat the handle and have to replace it---keeping the old one for another hammer with a smaller eye of course.

I was once trying to buy a hammer with a badly done replacement handle and the fellow was jacking up the price cause it had a "new handle" in it---so I pulled the handle out and handed it to him and asked "how much for just the head?"

I pick up ballpeens to reforge into dishing hammers and so I don't want a handle in it---unless it's a trashed old hammer. I also pick up handles whenever I can get a good deal on them---lots of times "seconds" have only cosmetic flaws and I'll be reshaping the grip anyway. grain run out is a fatal flaw and lots of folks don't seem to be aware of it anymore.

My "spares" have a fence staple in the end and are hung with an air gap around them so they stay straight.

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/22/04 11:29:56 EDT

Cary, 304 Stainless retains most of its properties as-forged. To have the maximum corrosion protection it should be annealed by heating to a low red and quenching.

"Maximum Corrosion Protection" is required for highly corrosive environments (worse than sea salt) and to retain the bright surface without minor stains or flaws.

Bright stainless should be annealed then "passivated". Passivation of stainless requires strong acids that remove the scale AND any free iron on the exposed surface. This results in a surface that is nickle and chrome without iron.

I've used as-forged stainless in exposed high humidity conditions without annealing, passivation or protective coatings. In 30+ years the piece has only shown the slightest "foxing" or haze of red in a few places.

The important thing to do when working stainless is to not embed carbon steel scale or raw steel into it while working. This means clean tools, anvil and dies. You DO NOT need to go to the extream of using all stainless tools but you do need to watch out for things that embed other metals in the work. You MUST use stainless wire brushes that have not been used on plain carbon steel. If you are grinding you should use fresh wheels not used on steel AND if you are grinding steel in the shop be sure the swarf and sparks are not embeddiing in the stainless work setting next to it.
   - guru - Friday, 10/22/04 12:02:02 EDT

Micro Forges: Click this link for more information.

They are very easy to build but are only suitable for micro work. Micro forge, micro work, simple.

Micro work is: Nails from 3/16" (5mm) and 1/4" (6mm) stock or smaller and NOT in production, Coathanger wire forged into dollhouse furnishings, or something like small pocket knife blades. 1/4" square bar is about the maximum these little forges can handle and is slow to heat compared to a full size forge.

Finding that soft brick can be a trick. New they are expensive (several dollars or more) and the places that carry them usualy sell them by the pallet (about 200).

The good soft ones are VERY soft and delicate. Daniel Boone carved his out with an old table spoon. They can easily be broken in one's bare hands or by simply gripping them too tightly. The micro forge built from a tube, Kaowool and ITC-100 is better but the miniumum of these materials you can purchase will easily build 4 or more.
   - guru - Friday, 10/22/04 12:11:05 EDT

JNugget-- Get your parents to purchas you, just for openers mind you, so's you get off on the right foot, a good big gasoline-driven Miller portable welder, 300 amps, a Miller TIG machine, ditto a Miller MIG rig, likewise a Miller stick machine, not to mention a plasma cutter that can chew through 1/2-inch plate minimum, a chop saw, a Square Wheel belt grinder, a good old Mayer Bros. 50-pound trip hammer, a set of Wally Yader swage blocks, and a Ford F-350 flatbed to go to the store in.
   Joaquin Murietta - Friday, 10/22/04 12:50:14 EDT

Joaquin, Hmmm. . . yeah, better list than mine. Better make that a Nazel 2b and an F600 (real truck). Now then. . . I won't say what appendage I would cut off for a pair of W.Yaeter swage blocks. . . The only better were mine and there are none of them floating in circulation. . . Sorry folks.
   - guru - Friday, 10/22/04 13:27:32 EDT

So Jock, when's the next time you're planning a long trip away from the shop----strike that; you'd just sic Paw Paw on me and he *wouldn't* use a spoon cause it'd be "over too fast and hurt too little"

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/22/04 13:54:25 EDT

How a coal forge works?
   - Guastavo Martinez - Friday, 10/22/04 14:09:37 EDT

How a coal forge works: Coal or charcoal plus a breeze of air or gentle "blast" results in a small very intense fire in the range of 2,900 to 3,200°F (1594 - 1760°C) at the hotest. The maximum temperature depends on the quality of the fuel.

This is perfect for heating iron and steel which melt at 2650 to 2800°F and burn just below this. Controling the air blast reduces the fire temperature to allow heating without burning and also heating until the surface s almost liquid for welding.

The size and shape of the forge depend on the size of the work but the part that holds the fire for the average small shop, the "firepot" is about the size of a hat. If it fits your head to your ears its about the right size and shape.
   - guru - Friday, 10/22/04 14:21:19 EDT

To add to the above: A blacksmith's forge is designed to heat steel or wrought iron to a temperature that it can be "worked" at.

Steel or Wrought Iron becomes soft at a heat lower than the burning/melting temperature but above the temperature it begins to glow at and can be deformed or manipulated with hammer and tongs, vise or other special tooling---punches, drifts, cutters, twisting wrenchs, etc.


   Thomas P - Friday, 10/22/04 15:53:46 EDT

Thanks much Guru. I knew I could count on you.
   FredlyFX - Friday, 10/22/04 16:12:53 EDT

An excellent assembly and run-in lube is "GN assembly paste" from the Dow Corning folks. It is part of the "MolyKote" line. This is a high moly content, oil based paste. Truely excellent product to have around the shop. You can buy this stuff in a toothpaste tube, and a little goes a very long way. As this is an oil based product, it will not gum up or clog oil holes or lines. I have added some of this to the worm gear box oil on cheap bandsaws, and seen little to no wear after years of hard use. This product is suggested as a bearing prelube for engines and machines.
This stuff is also excellent on lead screws, valve stems in steam, and is the best extreme pressure lube I tested in the 21 years in the R & D trade.
   ptree - Friday, 10/22/04 16:51:31 EDT

Thanks much ptree. Do you know of any dealers that will sell to me? I have been searching the web and can't find much except MSDS links.

Thanks again

   FredlyFX - Friday, 10/22/04 18:43:43 EDT

Never mind, I found some. Thanks.
   FredlyFX - Friday, 10/22/04 18:49:39 EDT


Could you share that source for GN Assembly Lube with us? I'd like to get some myself.
   vicopper - Friday, 10/22/04 19:03:54 EDT

Did you ever stop to think about all the questions asked by innocent beginners who believe whatever we say without questioning it? Sure makes me want to make absolutely certain about what I say.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 10/22/04 19:22:29 EDT

Joaquin has tong in cheek.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 10/22/04 20:51:50 EDT

Make that F-350 a 4x4.
   Joaquin Murietta - Saturday, 10/23/04 01:13:01 EDT

Here ya go vicopper. This link is to Dow Cornings site. It allows you to search for a distributer in any country or state. https://dc.allegis.com/partnerlocator.asp?Industry=003

If it doesn't work right, I just did a google search on Molykote then went to the dow-corning site that came up. There is a link on the left to find a distributer.
   FredlyFX - Saturday, 10/23/04 02:29:02 EDT

yeah i have one for ya how do you get a breechplug unfrozen in a navy 1-32 blackpowder i tried it and it wont move
   - thomasb - Saturday, 10/23/04 02:33:38 EDT


Sake it with B-laster from your local NAPA auto parts store.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 10/23/04 09:07:19 EDT

To add to what Paw Paw said: If it's a percussion model with a separate drum, take the drum out first. It's usually threaded into the plug, which can cause unfortunate results if you try to force the plug to turn.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 10/23/04 09:12:30 EDT

Innocent Questions: ALL, We must remember that we have MANY young school children, commonly in the 7th and 8th grade (American) or only 11 to 13 years old ask questions here. Ocassionaly those innocent questions are asked by their teachers who know as little about the world of blacksmithing as the students. On the other hand, we also have folks much older that write and type worse than elementary school children. Please treat all questions seriously until you know the questioner.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/23/04 09:53:40 EDT

GN Assembly Paste.
Several note on use, from testing in an R & D lab, and use in industry.
1. This is the second best anti-seize I found for high temp. threaded connections, including bolted joints. Be aware however that the extreme reduction in friction will allow overstressing of bolts unless a torque reduction is allowed for. My rough rule of thumb was 40% reduction on applied torque. The reduction in friction allows the applied torque to stretch the bolt, building stress at a lower torque. No allowance may cause bolt failure, before reaching the original torque.

2. This paste is a oil, white lubricating solids, and Moly paste. I think I remember 70% moly. This moly is very, very fine. If it gets on you skin, it will get into the cracks and pores, and is very difficult to remove. Sort of has to wear off. No harm that I know of, just makes you hands look dirty for a week. One product that did clean it off is "Stockhausen SOLOPOL EF" This is the best, non drying hand cleaner we found. Has walnut hull particles for abrasive, and can be used many times a day with dermatities. I have specified this for use at three factories, maybe 2000 employees exposed with no known dermatitis, in forgeing, machining and welding.

3. The GN paste will lubricate at a 1000F, but does change color. It takes on a grey/white color, and becomes a powder. Still lubricates as long as it is present.

4, Testing on open thread screw systems,like a vise lead screw, with manually applied sandblast sand for a contaminate, showed better performance than without the lube. We thought that the lube would combine with the sand and make a lapping compound. It actually had more life with the lube and sand than dry.

5. In extremely gall senstive materials like 347SS, and 316SS, this was the second best anti-gall lubricant we tested.

6. This paste does not need lots of bulk lube applied. If the sliding surfaces are seen to be coated black, then enough has been applied. Best application tool is an artists brush with stiff bristles.

7. All of my official test work for the company was done as applied research for use on high temp valve stems, and bonnet joints. These stems were mostly 410SS nuts with a 416SS stem. In an extreme test, the dry combo went about 5 cycles and failed. Axle grease-15 cycles. Nickle never-seize-about 35 cycles. GN paste-15,000 cycles. The threads laid over, but you could still see the tooling marks from when they were made.

A small tube of this stuff should last a life time for the hobbiest.
   ptree - Saturday, 10/23/04 09:56:04 EDT

To paraphrase someone whose name I can't remember; "Good sarcasm is wasted on children."
   - 3dogs - Saturday, 10/23/04 12:10:17 EDT


I have a forged steel flower that I want to remove fire scale from to give a polished finish on the pistel and stamen and peadals. Im thinking acid is the best way to go.

Will it leave a very shinny finish? Can I use bleach? or vinigar? whats best? how do I neutralize it and with what?

Thanks a lot
   - Hayes - Saturday, 10/23/04 15:00:29 EDT

Hello everyone,
Maybe its another translation problem, So please bear with me.
I know linsed oil is common for metalfinishing I use it alot with my knives and stuff and can read the warnings label like anyone else. Its and claimed to be toxic (or at least unhealthy) for humans consumption unless its been cured for several months.
As I understand, Its pressed from flaxseeds from the flax plant, Which by the way is where Linen fibres are sourced
And I presume orgins of the word "LIN-SEED oil"

Anyway, My Sweetie feeds herself and her child Flaxseed oil as some kind of diet suppliment and I nearly crapped thinking its related to Linseed oil that I mentioned before.

So whats the thing here? Is linseed oil the same as flaxseed, Or maybe its the same but with other non healthy additives??

If its one in the same, She can sure buy it alot cheaper at the hardware store,,,

   - Håkan - Saturday, 10/23/04 15:14:13 EDT

Hayes, soaking the piece in vinegar overnight will remove most of the scale. It leaves the steel a rather dull gray color. I think you could polish it up fairly easily if you have the equipment.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/23/04 15:46:38 EDT

3 Dogs, I believe that was W.C. Fields.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/23/04 15:48:12 EDT

Question about electrolosis. I know this is off topic for this forum, but I am also sure you guys will have the answer. I just set up an electrolosis tub for the first time and am happily cleaning parts outside while I type this. :)

My question is if I can do multiple parts at one time? Can I just connect them together with wire and hang them all in a line in the tub?

Thanks for any info.

   FredlyFX - Saturday, 10/23/04 17:01:13 EDT

another question about the forged flower: If I want to put it into a rock (base), (I would drill a hole into the rock,
what is the best glue or other means of fixing the steel into the hole in the rock?

Thanks a lot
   - Hayes - Saturday, 10/23/04 17:31:42 EDT

Hayes, I would say epoxy
   Ralph - Saturday, 10/23/04 18:14:06 EDT

As long as you have a GOOD electrical connection you can. Also make sure that there is a good physical space between parts so that they can be 'cleaned' or derusted all over.
   - Ralph - Saturday, 10/23/04 18:15:48 EDT

As long as you have a GOOD electrical connection you can. Also make sure that there is a good physical space between parts so that they can be 'cleaned' or derusted all over.
   Ralph - Saturday, 10/23/04 18:16:10 EDT

Hakan: Linseed oil is based on flaxseed oil, but the hardware store kind has all kinds of toxic things in it to help it dry or polymerize faster. Cobalt carbonate springs to mind as one of the driers. NOT something I want to eat.

The health-food type of oil from flax seeds with no additives is called flaxseed oil to distinguish it from the other kind.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 10/23/04 20:33:47 EDT


Linseed oil and flaxseed oil are both derived form the flax plant seed, and both are the same thing when freshly pressed. The toxicity comes in when the oil is further processed for use as a sealer or paint vehicle.

"Cold-pressed" linseed oil is pressed from the flax seeds and allowed to stand until the natural contaminants have settled out, leaving a clear, yellow oil. Flaxseed oil is the same as cold-pressed linseed oil.

"Raw" linseed oil is usually freshly pressed oil, pressed after the flax seeds have been steamed to enhance their oil release. After pressing, it is usually filtered to some greater or lesser degree. It is a darker color than cold-pressed oil, and has a somewhat bitter taste. It has relatively low toxicity, but the steaming does release some compounds that are not desireable for ingesting.

"Boiled" linseed oil starts out with the seeds being steamed to increase oil production, then pressed hot. After pressing, it is heated, (in order to begin the polymerization process), and various adulterants are added to improve its performance as a sealer. These are usually drying agents such as cobalt lineolate, (a linoleic acid derivative), other polymers, solvents, and sometimes various resins. Usually this is sold as "boiled" linseed oil. Boiled linseed oil, while not a deadly poison, is toxic.

Cold-pressed linseed oil can be sun-thickened to speed its drying time. It can also be heated to boiling in the absence of oxygen, which thickens it and speeds its drying, as well as making it a lighter color. This is call artist's stand oil.

Dogs often get into spilled linseed oil and eat it, causing some "gastric distress", but it doesn't seem to cause any real lasting damage. You just don't want them in the house after having eaten it, believe me. We won't get into how I know this.

For our purposes, boiled linseed oil is just fine most of the time. For coating eating or cooking utensils, I would recommend using either flaxseed oil or corn oil. Both take much longer to dry (polymerize) than boiled linseed oil, but are food grade.
   vicopper - Saturday, 10/23/04 22:28:00 EDT

Gurus, I am curious about using wedges to hold ironwork, I built a truck rack for self using wedges, but they work loose, is there any optimal taper to use, do I taper both sides, or is one square/perpendicular (and did I spell that rite?), question also on wedge to hold post vice and
powerhammer dies (LG50#). Thanks in advance
   - Tim - Sunday, 10/24/04 11:22:37 EDT


I make a lot of crosses from RR spikes and set them in stone with JB Weld and it has worked fine for me.
   Brian C - Sunday, 10/24/04 11:59:48 EDT

Hayes, Doug Wilson, good smith from Maine, has forged water birds where he brazes a cylindrical "tenon" on the bottom of one foot, proportionate to the size of bird. It is inserted in the drilled rock hole and the sculpture is
removable. You can turn it to gain various view points.

Linseed oil. I have used "boiled" linseed oil straight a long time ago, and occasionally I got a olive drab color on the piece, probably from overheating. Anybody else? I now commonly use Johnson's old fashioned paste floor wax, but I open doors and windows when I do so; not good to breathe.

Wedges need a long taper. I don't know the exact degree involved, but my leg vise wedges and sow block anvil wedges seem to hold well. The very early leg vises had a bracket tenon going through the upper portion of the fixed leg. It was wedged through a slot where it emerged inside the leg, but the WEDGE sometimes had a hole in it with a bent piece of iron in the hole to keep the wedge from outenin'.

3DOGS, Pardon me all to heck, but I thought that Lazarus and Adam were one and the same person. Not so. Anyway, Adam stopped by the day before yesterday and picked up the ball bearings. He is most appreciative.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/24/04 12:13:11 EDT

Gurus, I'm wondering if you can answer a cooper question. When I work with copper, I like to make bowls with the inside and outside having patinas, but with the edges polished bright. I find edges will oxidize much quicker with this combination, than if the whole piece is polished. I'm wondering if a micro-crystalline wax, such as Renaissance Wax, might slow the oxidation, or if you have any other recommendations?
   - Daryl - Sunday, 10/24/04 12:18:24 EDT

WEDGES: The angle of a self holding wedge is a function of the coefficient of friction. Normaly any angle less than 14.5° in steel will hold a load that will destroy the wedge (break dovetail. . ) before it fails. That includes lubricated parts.

The lower the wedge angle the greater the holding force for the least applied force. Most wedges in the US are measured in inches per foot and machine wedges run in the 5/8" to 3/16" per foot range. 3/16 to 3/8" per foot is very common on die wedges and applications with shock loads. See MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK for many standard tapers and methods of measuring them.

The ability of a wedge to hold a load is also dependant on the supporting structure and the direction of load on the wedge. IF a wedge is put in a sheet metal frame that flexes under load then the wedge will fall out. Under some conditions the load acts to loosen and remove the wedge rather than tightening it. Fits can also be critical. Under some situations a single high spot (like in a spindle taper such as a Morse) or piece of trash can result in the taper failing.

Surfaces of wedges can be flat or curved. Devices like overrunning clutches (one way clutches) have flat inclines on one side and the curved shaft on the other.

   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/04 13:15:00 EDT

Waxes and Copper Alloys: All the waxes I have seen react chemicaly with the copper increasing oxidation and resulting in green wax. I would use clear acrylic lacquer on copper art pieces that I did not want to change. The alternative is to gold plate the esges to prevent corrosion. The gold and the oxidized copper are fairly stable and the combination should retain their color for quite a while with only the coper changing.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/04 13:19:33 EDT

Japanese swords

I'm confused. All the lit. i've read says that you should use as few heats as possible when making a sword/knife to keep the properties that allow for a nice cutting edge.
I was reading this sight on how the japanese smiths go through tons of charcoal making one sword, and using a high number of heats. Why were the japanese swords still a high carbon, quality blade if that many heats were used? Was it because they were using charcoal as there fuel? If so, does it matter how many heats you use when using charcoal?
thanks for the help

   adimeshort - Sunday, 10/24/04 13:22:30 EDT

wedges: Taper specs such as 1:12 - does this mean from the centerline or between the two sides - the difference is a factor of two.

I am cofnused.
   adam - Sunday, 10/24/04 13:42:36 EDT

Tapers:A 12:1 taper is inclusive (both sides) not from a center line out on a sysmetrical part. Tapers in angles on cylindrical parts are often defined as the "included" angle (or the total) when defined from the center line. Flat wedges are just what they are just like a roof pitch.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/04 15:25:04 EDT

Japanese Bladsmithing: The Japanese smith is MAKING THE STEEL and conditioning it for use, not starting with good steel to start with. They start with wrought iron and a poor grade of very high carbon steel or nearly cast iron (made in the forge) and blend the two mechanicaly until the carbon is nearly uniformly distributed in the final product.

Yes, repeated heats and working can be bad for good steel. However, we also use a European process of welding together layers of poor grade blister steel and wrought iron to produce a better product AND develop artistic patterns in the steel. Modern smiths use alloy steels that resist etching combined with those that do not to produce highly decorative laminated steels. This takes more working than is really good for producing the very best steel but the goal is more artistic and exotic than anything else.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/04 15:49:54 EDT

One quick question, not related to blacksmithing per say... Is there much demand for metalurgists these days? Would the schooling be worth it?
   HavokTD - Sunday, 10/24/04 16:06:14 EDT

Self Holding Tapers: 1/8 per foot is a very good self holding taper. A lot of standard key taper stock is cut to this dimension and my Beaudry pwer hammer has this amount of draft. I also use it for vise keys and the like that are subject to rebuilding so I think it would work well to hold ironwork that is being keyed together. Although I forged my hammer keys, I usually set them up on the mill and cut them to size - much more precise.
   - HWooldridge - Sunday, 10/24/04 16:47:24 EDT

Japanese Blades. The carbon content of a finished cutting area of a blade is not all that high, probably averaging about 0.60%. The blades take a good edge because of a differential heat treating technique which gives a martensitic structure to the cutting edge portion and a 'softer' mid-area and back.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/24/04 18:20:42 EDT

Dear Guru,
I recently picked up some cast iron pieces for interior decoration (brackets) and would like to put a finish on them but think painting them black would destroy their metal character. I remember an article I ran across that talked about "burning" oil or beeswax or something on the metal that would "paint" it black and give it a protective finish. Another option could be Rust-oleum treatment, effectively oxidizing the surface. After this I could apply a coat of Johnsons Paste Wax for protection. What are you recommendations?
   Kurt - Sunday, 10/24/04 19:27:56 EDT

Havok, I am a metallurgist and have been out of work a total of 3 weeks in a 30 year career. Most engineering colleges now offer degrees in Metallurgy and Material Science which gives you some exposure to ceramics and polymers along with metals. These degrees get you a starting salary of about $50,000 today and considerably more if you have a graduate degree.....or 30 years of experience. My alma mater is the Colorado School of Mines and I suggest you check them out if you are serious. They graduate a lot of metallurgists every year. However, I suggest you be VERY serious about it because this school is extremely demanding.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/24/04 21:04:39 EDT

Metallurgy, Other schools come to mind besides Colorado. I didn't do a big search, but New Mexico Tech in Socorro, has a curriculum involving metallurgy. I'm originally a Missourian, and I think of the University of Missouri in Rolla. It used to be called the Rolla School of Mines. And of course, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. You would need good college prep courses in math and science prior to getting serious.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/24/04 21:48:34 EDT

To HavokTD, demand seems to be holding fairly steady. Most of the schools I'm aware of have graduating classes around 15 to 18. A few schools graduate larger classes. A lot of schools now list it as materials science. If you want to get an idea, look at Monster.com, or careerbuilder.com. You can go a lot of different ways with a degree in metallurgy/materials science. You can work for a primary metals producer - steel, aluminum, titanium, powdered metals, etc., someone who processes the metal supplying the automotive, aeronautical or other industry with parts, somebody making tools, etc. A lot of the most active areas are in the midwest, down through Tenessee, North & South Carolina, etc. If you'd like to discuss more, email me at: kmhaffeyatearthlinkdotnet. (Replace the "at" and "dot" with appropriate characters). For alma maters, I'll add Carnegie Mellon University its up arouund 28,000 a year A LOT MORE THAN WHEN I gradusted in 1974 State schools are a good bet here in PA, both the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State offer metallurgy degrees. Penn State is particularly strong in Powder Metallurgy.Regards, Gavain
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 10/24/04 22:22:28 EDT

I have three anvils I would like some information on. The first is one marked Centaur Burlington Wisc Forge LTD Made in Sweden with the number 56 with the number 2 under that. It is 28 5/8 inches long the face is 16 7/8 X 3 1/4 with a 1 inch hardie hole and two pritchell holes. the next is marked 1 14 CWT Brooks England and on the other side it is marked 64KGS it has the 1 1/4 hardie and a single pritchell hole. These are both in new condition with no chipping or wear. The third is a Peter Wright it has about a 1/6 inch wear in the face. My question is should I set it up in my surface grinder andreturn the surface to a flat condition or should I leave it as is. Thanks
   Stephen Lawyer - Sunday, 10/24/04 23:44:15 EDT

Stephen, The Centaur is either a 90 pound or 125 pound farriers' pattern. I imagine it has a clip horn, the semi-circular projection from the horn base. The Brooks is English. I've seen one; it was a poor casting with holes in the face. The holes were filled with tar to disguise them for shipping. They are supposed to be cast steel. The heels are amazingly thick, which I don't care for. The Peter Wright's "saddle" is so slight, I wouldn't think it needed leveling.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 10/25/04 00:01:12 EDT

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