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This is an archive of posts from October 25 - 31, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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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

Stephen, I agree with Frank don't try to level that PW. For one thing that old anvil has a relatively thin tool steel plate welded to the top, any thinning weakens the surface. PW bragged about the high quality NEW wrought iron they used for the bodies but my observation is that more PW's ended up sway backed than other anvils due to the high grade wrought. Other makers used scrap wrought that probably included some steel in the bodies of their forged anvils and seemed to have less trouble. . so much for trying to be the best. . .
   - guru - Monday, 10/25/04 00:34:13 EDT

Swedish Centaur: These anvils were made by Kohlswa for Bill Pieh of Centaur Forge in the 1970's and were branded as Centaur anvils. In the 1980's Kohlswa had a reorganization and as a result had some trouble with quality control. Anvils came in that were deemed too soft and the factory would not make them good (or so said Bill Pieh who is now deceased). Centaur quit importing the anvils and now sells the English Brooks, Peddinghaus and several US made farrier brands.

I have a Kohlswa and have had others and like them. Most of the Centaur anvils were good and Bill Pieh bought back the soft ones. Kohlswa anvils are cast steel and come in a variety of patterns. There is no stocking distributor in the US that I know of (a business oportunity).

The Brooks pattern is rather dumpy and is characteristic of the shape of anvils designed to be made of low quality material. . However, they are supposedly good cast steel as Frank noted. Kohlswa and many other cast steel anvil makers have proven that good steel is strong enough to support a relatively thin heel.
   - guru - Monday, 10/25/04 00:44:39 EDT

Materials Science and Metalurgy: As noted the demand is not great but steady. However there are peaks and valleys. When large amounts of money is being spent on aerospace research the demand goes up. When programs are cut the labor intensive trial and error R&D department is the first thing cut. As a result of massive cutbacks in the 1980's there were thousands of high tech engineers in the aerospace and partical accelerator materials field without jobs for a very long time.

There is metalurgy and there is metalurgy. Most metalurgists spend their time making sure a given batch of material is what it is supposed to be OR making sure it is made to be what it is supposed to be. Metalurgical research is a process of trial and error (mix, cast, forge, test. . ) as there is NO predictive science. As a NASA metalurgist once told me, we are still in the "heat it and beat it" era of metalurgy. Now if you want to be the Einstien of the 21st Century solve THAT problem! However, be forewarned, it is very much akin to the "theory of everything" and is a VERY complicated problem. There are roughly 20 alloyable metals that can be mixed in any combination in any number in any proportion. . . The world's metalurgists spent a big part of the 1980's studying and publishing every binary alloy (pairs of metals in every proportion) in hopes of creating a data base to help solve the problem of property prediction. However, we comonly use alloys with 3,4 and 5 ingrediants. . . (in every proportion). The number of combinations is literaly astronomical.

The answer to this question will be required before we leap into intersteler travel and solve problems like fusion reactors and inexpensive superconductors. "Beam me up Scotty."

As to how much of this research is being done. . . Well, almost every institution that did serious metalurgical research owned a power hammer, either a Nazel 2B or a Chambersburg 200 self contained. Well, almost every institution (including NASA) sold off their dust collecting power hammers in the 1990's . . . I know people that had the sales records and tracked them all down. . At least they were not scraped and are now in the hands of blacksmiths.

Maybe we can out-source the research to the Chinese or India. :(
   - guru - Monday, 10/25/04 01:07:13 EDT

PUBLIC DEMO: I will be out all day Monday the 25th. Y'all be good.
   - guru - Monday, 10/25/04 01:14:47 EDT

Mat Sci, here at NM Tech in Socorro, it's a small school with a reputation disporportunate to it's size! If you go there you will be working with your professors directly and will know evereyone in the program. As the club's "token" blacksmith I supplied all the smithing equipment for the Materials Science Club float in the Tech 49's parade last Saturday and road it beating a tattoo on the anvil that Emert Studebaker had showed me. We won first place in the *band* catagory!

As another data point: I had a friend who graduated with a Mat Sci degree from Ohio State University and was hired right out of college. After about 2 years his employer had a downturn and laid him off. He had another job within about a month as I recall. I have BSc's in Geology and Computer Science and was laid off after 14 years working for a leading high tech company. I was on the bench 7 months...

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 10/25/04 10:58:02 EDT

Thanks for the information. The Centaur was purchased in the early 70's. If my memory served me right it took almost a year for him to get it. It does have the chip horn. The PW was my Great Great Grandfathers and was used every day in his blacksmith shop. I will leave it as is and not reface it. The Brooks England dose have a much thicker heel, but the face is solid with no holes. My Grandfather was a metalurgists for the Corps of Army Engineers for more than 40 years befor his death in the 80's. The time I spent with him as a boy back in the 50's and early 60's cranking on the blowers for the forge and making things with him were pricless. I have his complete shop now and I am trying to document the equipment and preserve it for my grandkids and theirs too I hope.
   Stephen Lawyer - Monday, 10/25/04 10:58:12 EDT

3Dogs: Yes, Adam is MOST appreciative. Thank you very much! I will send you email as soon as I get a new keyboard (I spilled coffee on the old one). I am posting this from someone elses PC
   adam - Monday, 10/25/04 13:31:35 EDT

PW plate: I recently help clean up a beaten up 100# PW. I was surprised to see that the plate was over 3/4" thick at the horn end. My guess is that they just used a handy piece of scrap left over from a larger anvil.
   adam - Monday, 10/25/04 13:35:27 EDT

I've forged a few gouges for wood turning but I could use some info on methods and techniques. Any idea where I can find out more? I've seen what A. Weygers wrote. Making swages is the problem there. Any suggestions about makling swages? Thanks
   nick - Monday, 10/25/04 15:09:30 EDT



Cheapie swages can be made by welding a piece of pipe cut in half lengthwise (half-round) or angle iron (V-style) to a plate and reinforcing the edges with extra steel so they don't collapse. I've made several this way and they work fine to form hot steel. The technique can be extended to make most any shape from flat bar and then welding to a plate for rigidity.
   - HWooldridge - Monday, 10/25/04 15:21:22 EDT

I recently purchased a nice Baldor buffer/grinder with a post stand underneath it. The fellow I purchased it from had never mounted it to his floor, something I think is a bit dangerous. Now I have a hammer drill and can drill into the concrete but I've never understood how that works. Is it like wood? I drill an undersized hole and then the threads catch in that, or do I drill an oversized hole and try to get cement into there? Or do I epoxy the bolts in? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
   MikeA - Monday, 10/25/04 17:04:16 EDT

Mike, you need to go to the lumber yard/hadrware store and get the proper anchor bolts. Drill the right size hole, hammer in the anchor and bolt down.Be sure not to tighten to tight,you can pull the anchors out of the concrete.
   - jimmy - Monday, 10/25/04 17:16:48 EDT


I'd personally reccomend a couple of 3/8"X 3 1/2" wedge ancors. They pull out with about 2000 + lbs per according to the company who makes 'em. drill a 3/8" hole deeper then the whole ancor is long, hammer it in through the holes in the bottom of the stand, and tighten it up good and snug. Never had any problems with them, personally, and I've probably used thousands of 'em on different jobs.
   HavokTD - Monday, 10/25/04 18:02:33 EDT

Thank you for the info on mounting my grinder/buffer to the floor, that's exactly what I needed. Now for another one. As I've mentioned before I make armor more than I do stock work. I'm currently using a coal forge and plan on switching to propane within a year or so. The reason for the long timeline is that I've only seen one of what I need, a propane forge for sheet. Eric Thing's forge looks great, but I can find no info on it (no reply to my email). Anyone else have plans or ideas on how I can make a propane forge with an idle that will handle pieces of sheet up to 3' across? I don't need to heat an area that big, no more than about 6" across, but that 6" may be on a piece 3' across. All of the propane forge stuff I've seen has been oriented around knifemaking and such. Thanks again.
   MikeA - Monday, 10/25/04 18:29:07 EDT

Nick, what the local wood turner who we lured over to the darkside did was to forge holders and then use carbide inserts for metal lathe use as the actually cutting "edges". He did a lot of hollow work and wanted bent neck tools to get inside shapes.

I still remember how flabbergasted he was when we took a piece of steel and put it in a simple forge and when it was hot handed it and a hammer to him, pointed him at the anvil and said---just bend it till you like it!

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/25/04 18:30:10 EDT

Grinders: How bad is a bench grinder?

Assume for the sake of argument that I can't afford to buy a belt grinder, and lack the skills and time to build one.

Is a Bench Grinder worth getting? The only grinding tool I have right now is a Dremel.

   Dave W - Monday, 10/25/04 18:53:13 EDT

R&D: As Guru noted, R&D in the USA is rapidly disappearing in the metals industries. The current management mantra is "get it now" and focus on short term profits and big bonuses. R&D departments are usually full of highly paid engineers and make an easy target. I know a few Ph.D's and most seem to be under-employed considering what they went through to get the alphabet soup after their names. You want to be successful? You want steady work? Never stop learning, work where you regularly need to clean the dirt from under your fingernails, treat everyone with respect, focus on getting the job done instead of advancing your career. You can write that down and take it to the bank. As for Metallurgy schools, all those previously mentioned would be a credit to your resume and there are even more not listed.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 10/25/04 19:45:02 EDT


Eric was probably reticent about publishing any info on his forge due to liability reasons; in this litigious society we inhabit, I can't fault him for that.

It is not that difficult to build a propane forge for sheet work, much like you would build a coal forge for the same purpose. Simply make a "firepot" area of 6 or 8 inch diameter and about 4" deep, with a hole in the bottom for a burner flare. You'll need to make some sort of mounting arrangement for the burner, of course. The firepot can be set into a steel table of whatever dimension you want, to support your sheet. The firepot is loosely filled with chips of ceramic kiln shelf, broke hard firebrick or other refractory material about the size of grapes. This will disperse the flame over the entire surface of the firepot and keep the flame stable between cycles of idling the burner.

The idle circuit for the burner is just a parallel piped gas circuit with a needle valve that can be set to let just enough gas flow to keep the burner lit when the main valve is off. When the main valve is on, the burner runs a full force. Yoiu will need a shutoff valve upstream of the two other valves, for the purpose of complete shutdown. I like a lever-handled ball valve for the burner main valve, a needle valve for the idle and a wheel-handled ball valve for the shutoff.

To make the forge more efficient, or faster heating, you could make a second blurner the fired down from the top. It would have to be easily adjustable up and down to accomodate your stock as it develops a three dimensional shape. However, I think a simple cover like you would use on a charcoal grill, but fitted with Kaowool refractory blanket to retain the heat wold do just about as well. If you made it with lightweight castable refractory insulation, it would have more thermal mass than the Kaowool and would help in heating your sheet quickly.

I would mount the cover so that it could be raised up and down with a foot treadle, to leave both hands free for managing the sheet stock. I would also put a vent hole in the top of it so that the burner would run (at least at idle) with the cover down. That preheats the cover so when you raise it and slip a piece of sheet in, the sheet is immediately getting heated from both sides.

My instinct tells me that this forgfe would work best with a blown burner rather than a venturi type. The varying amount of backpressure depending on how the cover is adjusted, the size of the stock, the shape, etc is going to adversely affect the venturi burner's performance, I think.

There you have the basics, now go out and build it. Let us know how it works. If you blow yourself up, don't waste lawyer's fees trying to sue me, as I am indemnified by poverty. (grin)

   vicopper - Monday, 10/25/04 19:50:26 EDT

MikeA --

"Gas Burners for Forges, Furnaces & Kilns", by Michael Porter, published by Skipjack Press, has a couple of pages on building a clam shell forge that should do what you want. The book is also, as the name implies, a good source of information on gas burners, though the burner designs are on the complex side.
   Mike B - Monday, 10/25/04 19:51:10 EDT

VICopper posted while I was typing. Porter's clam shell forge is much like he described (down to the bbq cover). It has no "firepot," though, just a venturi burner mounted flush with a refractory brick covered table. Not that the firepot doesn't sound like a good idea to me.
   Mike B - Monday, 10/25/04 20:11:56 EDT

Dave W, Bench Grinders: A bench grinder is a valuable tool. But only if you get a decent one. Those cheap little 6" grinders you see everywhere make good anchors, and that is about all. I bought a Wilton 8" from Menards for about $60, and you can't go wrong for that. Sure, the big Baldor grinders outpreform the Wilton, but for that price I think it is well worth it. It can take a lot of pressure while grinding and not slow down. The little ones practically stall out if you use it to sharpen a pencil. Anyhow, grinders are good for sharpening chisels, taking the rough cut off the end of a piece of steel, shaping a leaf blank to a better profile if you are like me and don't always forge it out so pretty. All sorts of stuff. But again, stay away from the little ones. Friends don't let friends buy junk.
   Bob H - Monday, 10/25/04 20:32:48 EDT

"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"

Sounds like somebody has used a Brooks anvil for a casting pattern. I've seen anvils cast like this in the UK, however the 'forger' had the sense to grind away the Brooks name from the original anvil. I have seen many Brooks anvils, some have minor flaws in the sides but I've never seen any in the face. I think that they may have sold flawed castings as factory seconds in the past.
   Bob G - Monday, 10/25/04 20:44:53 EDT

Dave W: what do want to acomplish with this grinder? They have little to no use if you want to make knives, but are great for rough-grinding things that need that sort of treatment.
   Alan-L - Monday, 10/25/04 21:04:27 EDT

Hey folks, I have one of the Russian 50kg anvals.I have made a few boo boos and have some hammer marks,magin that! When I go to dress the face, will the marks,be a little harder because of the metal being compressed?
   - jimmy - Monday, 10/25/04 21:27:51 EDT

Dave W,
I have a very nice industrial 8" grinder, a nice Dayton 6", a belt sander, and a 12" disc sander. If I had to choose only one, and dollars were tight to boot, I would go with the 12" disc sander. Great for deburring, I make radius's on it all the time, the discs are cheap, and its fairly cheap. I do a little of everything, and that would be my choice. I have a $119.99 Grizzley, and have had it for several, maybe 5 years. My second choice would be my horzontal belt sander with a rubber contact wheel. I got this out of the scrap pile as it was worth several thousand new. As a general blacksmith, the grinders mostly are used to sharpen drill bits and that type of work, although in a pinch I have sharped drills on the disc sander.
   ptree - Monday, 10/25/04 21:33:24 EDT

R & D. As quenchCrack noted R & D is going quick. Started my career in a test lab in '78, moved to another in '81, and spent the next 15 years doing my first love, tearing thing up. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, I moved into the operations side slowly until by 1996, when the lab was shut down I was in plant engineering. Added Safety and enviro to the list, and when that plant was off-shored in 2002, went to full time safety and enviro. Motto? Keep learning,and as Quench noted, keep doing work that requires industrial strenght soap, as people that can DO things still have a place in the USA. At least for a while.

I mostly agree with what the guru posted and agree that sending that to your elected rep. is an excellent idea. Remember, in the USA, if we don't like the performance of our elected gov't, we can legally throw the Bast***s out at the polls. And there won't be bloodshed! Imagine that in the countries we are sending our industries to!
   ptree - Monday, 10/25/04 21:42:26 EDT

MikeA-- Measure the holes in the floor plate of the grinder stand. Buy some 2 or 3-inch or so lag bolts the same diameter. Now buy "lag shields," which are split cylinders of soft metal, nearly like lead, threaded inside, ridged on the outside, and which will expand when the lag bolt is tightened and are thus made specifically to fit the diameter of the lags you bought. Hammer drill or star drill holes in the concrete floor exactly the size it says to drill on the side of the shields. And... Bob's your uncle! There are fancier ways to go, but this will work fine.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/25/04 22:09:54 EDT

Sheet Forges; Mike A:

Actually, Eric Thing started out with a standard coal forge, and switched to gas when his suburban environment in Tucson got too fussy for the coal smoke. Gas is convenient, and his setup is cetainly efficient, but originally he just laid the metal atop the hot spot and shoveled some live coals on top of the area to be worked. Gas is neat and clean, but it's not the only method.

Metalurgy and the Real World; Havok:

I say go go for it if you have the talent and interest; and then you can tell the Washington, D.C. Metro system why one of their rails developed a 54" fracture starting at the surface and then continuing at a shallow angle down through the entire web! No one hurt, but a lot of delay and re-routing last Friday.

Or, like me, you can get a BA in History in time for the "great teacher glut" and spend 30 years lurking your way up in Government from a GS-4. ;-) (On the other claw, my geology professor though I should have majored in Geology. My friend did and has spent HIS career with the USPS. [Not much demand for geologists either in '72.])

"The multiplicity of methods of skinning a cat is of little comfort to the feline involved." (Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)

Damp and chilly on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 10/25/04 22:58:56 EDT

I have an old ac/dc marquette 240amp buzz box welder with the plug in front for amperage adjustments. Do you know of an add on accessory that will allow me to tig weld steel and aluminum with this welder? Should I expect results comparable to ie. "square wave" technology?
   - ron skjefte - Monday, 10/25/04 23:26:18 EDT

Howdy to y'all out there. I first must say that i am interested in building a junkyard power hammer. However, I have not had the experience of using one. There is a class that id like to take at the Ozark School of Blacksmithing(im located in S E Missouri, an hour or two drive from the school) on power hammers, but i doubt I'll be able to because of school(gotta keep studying if im going to be a mechanical or mining engineer, havent decided yet). Im also going to see if i can find some members through the Blacksmith's Association of Missori that are somewhat local where i could get in some experience on one. Now, having said that, im kinda lost when it comes to the specifics of a power hammer, like head and anvil weight, ideal stroke, strinking force, speed, and so on. I made a Lego model(they arent just little kids' toys)
of my design(it is fully functional with a motor and a working clutch), so ive gotten some of the basics. As to the rest i am lost. I was wondering if there are any books or videos, or websites, available that i could use as references for help. I have looked at the catalog of junkyard hammers on this site and have found it useful(it really helped me with the design and clutch) And like i said before, ill try to get with some poeple who have one and would not mind helping me out with my predicament. After all, we learn som much from firsthand experience.Well thats all for now. Thanks abunch!
P.S. (sorry about the wordy post)
   Blueboy - Tuesday, 10/26/04 00:25:10 EDT

ron skjefte,

To do TIG welding with that old buzz box would require a BUNCH of add-ons. First, you'd need tig torch, then gas supply and regulator, at a minimum. That would just barely allow you to do DC scratch-start tig welding on steel or stainless. It wouldn't be fun, nor would it be very controllable, but it would just barely work. Just barely.

To weld aluminum, you have to have AC, a high frequency unit, different gas and more control. So now you need a high frequency unit, another bottle of gas, and different tungstens for the torch. You still wouldn't have any real control other than moving your leads in the plugs on the buzz box, which isn't going to be very satisfactory. Another case of just barely being possible, but not realistic.

As for getting results comparable to a new square wave machine from Miller, Lincoln or ESAB, it just ain't even going to be in the same universe, much less the same ball park. Any of those machines are controllable from as little as 5 or 6 amps up to 200 or more amps and have slope control for easy starts and clean finishes, gas lead and lag time control, pulse control and more. None of which will be possible by converting your buzz box. Not even close. That old buzz box is good for stick welding and nothing more. That's the bottom line.

   vicopper - Tuesday, 10/26/04 09:54:21 EDT

Making Gouge Swages: Nick, See the couple iForge demos on the subject. Ralph had a couple good ideas for the DIY'ers.

Anchors in Concrete: I've done a lot of this and the varigies of hard and soft concrete and agregates, slab thickness and so on have always been a headache. All the expansion anchors expect a tolerance on the hole that is almost unrealistic. Hard and soft spots almost always result in oversize holes.

Some of the best anchors are the old fashioned lead expansion anchors that take a special bunch to expand them. If they are loose in the hole you need to shim them. I have use electrical and duct tape but this does not always work. Wraping the lead shell with solder works best if you have enough room.

The "red-head" wedge type anchors also sufer from hole size problems. Be sure to CLEAN the hole, blow out all the dust. Mix a batch of 5 to 20 minute expoxy, dip the anchor in it leaving the threads clean and install. Follow the instructions to set the anchor (tap and turn) until a LITTLE resistance is felt. Then let the epoxy set overnight. The next day you should be able to tighten the nuts without putting the anchor stud out of the floor.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/26/04 13:46:38 EDT

Thanks for the advice guys, the book is being shipped as I type. And no, I don't fault Eric either, I just tossed in the "no reply" part in case you guys directed me to email him.
vicopper, how do I keep the chips from falling through the hole and messing with the burner? A grill would be melted because unlike coal forge, the heat starts on the outside of the firepot, que no? Your description of how to set up the idle etc was spot on what I had planned. And don't worry vicopper, you can't afford to get sued and I can't afford to sue, so it works out. The only ones that win lawsuits are the lawyers. Mike B, I like the venturi mounted flush with a work table, I want it to be as simple as possible and that's pretty simple. Thanks again to all, will post with results if I survive the r&d process!
   MikeA - Tuesday, 10/26/04 13:56:01 EDT

I'm looking for suggestions on using a die to cut nice threads concentric and on axis with a shaft. Done this before with no great difficulty, but this time I'm doing 1/2-13, which is the biggest I've ever done, and having a fit trying to get it straight. Always get started just a little crooked, and then of course the "bolt" sort of "leans" when I thread it in my nice straight tapped hole.

I'm using a new Craftsman 1" hex die. The stock (cold rolled steel) is smooth, round, straight, and .490 diameter. I chamfered the end and use motor oil for cutting fluid like the book said.

I've been told there are die stocks that have some kind of guide arrangement that snugs up to the material to guide the die on straight. The (20-year-old) Craftsman booklet even shows such a thing. But I can't find any such animal at Sears, Enco, or McMaster, and my local machine shop supply says they only have stocks for round dies, and have never heard of any kind of guide arrangement. Hex dies, they say, are to be turned with a wrench. I don't think that would help my problem.

Any suggestions other than "try real hard to keep the die stock straight"? Believe me, I've been trying that real hard. I've been starting to imagine some kind of fixture that would hold the die and the rod in alignment to get the threads started.


   Steve A - Tuesday, 10/26/04 14:09:13 EDT

Question on Hardy Hole sizes:

I now have a #225 Peter Wright Anvil. Measuring the Hardy Hole, it appears to be about 1 1/8" at the top, but that is belled out (best way I can think to describe it, the top is rounded), and eyeballing it with the same tape measure, it looks like it might be 1" in the body of the shaft.

Which is more likely?

   Dave W - Tuesday, 10/26/04 14:09:52 EDT

Bench Grinders: Dave, Etal, Bench grinders are durable almost indespensible tools in the small shop but they are not suitable for making blades by stock removal unless they are one of those HUGE heavy expensive things with 12" wheels. A little 6" bench grinder is good for sharpening drill bits, lathe cutters and small grinding jobs where the work weighs less than the wheel by a large margin.

Belt and disk sanders are good for multiple uses including making knives by stock removal and can replace a bench grinder for everything they are used for.

The difference is that the bench grinder is very low maintenance and when used for what they are designed for the motor and bearings will wear out before the wheels. The belt and disk grinders require replacement media and ocassionaly the traking is difficult to keep working steadily. However, it is faster and easier to change a belt when you need a different grit and belts, while not cheap are much less expensive than grinding wheels.

SO. . a good belt grinder is generaly a better investment.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/26/04 14:15:51 EDT

Hardy Holes: All good old anvils and a FEW of the better new ones had a heavy radius on the hole. Sizes vary like crazy and the old anvils almost had a different size for every weight. Make a guage out of cardboard or heavy paper and use it to test the hole size.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/26/04 14:20:08 EDT

Belt Sanders:

What should I look for in one, as far as features, speed, size, etc?
   Dave W - Tuesday, 10/26/04 14:26:16 EDT

Anchors. Hey, I'm old fashioned. I installed my Little Giant over 20 years ago with standard hex head bolts and using Rockite brand anchor cement. The bolts are still hanging tough. I drilled holes and blew all dust and dirt out before putting in the cement, as Jock recommends. The Rockite sets up in 10 minutes, give or take.

Schwarzkopf has some forged anchors pictured in his book. One of them is kind of like a twisted propeller, and I have used it with success. In 'Wrought Ironwork', London, England, the upper stile is held in the pillar with a forged anchor, "split and splayed".
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/26/04 14:32:04 EDT

Threading Guide: When I had a bunch of U-bolts to make I made a 6" long threading tool that held the die and had interchangable brass guide bushings for 5/8", 1/2" and 3/8". Worked GREAT. You literaly just cramed it on the bar and started turning. But the limitation was that it only works on relatively long pieces.

SO here is what you do. . . Clamp the die and die stock to your drill press table. Put the bar in the drill chuck, align and then turn the machine by hand (pull on the belts or use a pin in the drill chuck). Perfect squareness. You can do the same in a small lathe. A three jaw chuck works perfectly on hex dies.

Motor oil is lousy threading oil (what book?). The option I use least is sulphurized cutting oil. About 4-5 times better than motor oil. Then there is the special tapping and threading fluids. The absolute best was "TapFree" back when it was made from recycled dry cleaning fluid. The replacements suck but are better than other oils.

If you insist on not using professional fluids then use 50/50 SAE30 and kerosene. The kerosene is thin and evaporates rapidly at the cut cooling the edge. TapFree did this MUCH better because of the VERY low boiling point. It was like applying refridgerant to the cutting edge.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/26/04 14:33:19 EDT

hey guys im back but i need some help. i just got the rest of the stuff that i needed to build me forge(rant:ups stinks!)i tried heating it up but it didnt get all hot and orange like in the pictures that people show.so whats wrong?its 2in od durablanket and coated with pictix(sp?)and the torch that is powering it is a 1/2 mikeil poter from his book.the inside di. of the forge is aprox.4inch by 8 inch. so whjat am i doing wrong?
   - John S - Tuesday, 10/26/04 15:47:15 EDT

Steve, Take a nut that fits the thread. Drill it out till it just fits on the shaft very snugly. Drive it down till the die starts on the thread. Then use a pipe to drive it down a bit more. Use the die again. By the time you have two complete threads on the shaft, you should be able to drive the drilled nut off of the shaft and continue threading with no problem or wobble.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 10/26/04 15:57:59 EDT


YOu just put a few larger chinks of refractory at the bottom of the firepot to keep the smaller ones from clogging up the burner opening. The fire should start right at the burner opening and heat the refractory chips, somewhat like in a "fluidized bed" forge. Once the chips are up to heat, the combustion will all take place within the firepot, resulting in a nice neutral fire on top of it. That's my theory anyway, your mileage may vary. (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 10/26/04 16:02:27 EDT

John: Orange isn't hot. Even a mistuned forge can usually get to orange with no trouble. But actually, you want the forge to heat up to a very pale yellow - somewhere between butter and cream :). Give us a bit more info:

4x8 - this is the size of the actual burn chamber?

Are you blocking off the ends? a 4" dia window at each end is just too large for a burner that size.

What pressure are you running at? I run my venturi burners at about 15 psi , even higher when trying to ramp the forge up to operating temp. The burner should sound like a jet engine at this pressure. This is my first guess - that you just havent cranked up the pressure enough.

What is the color and appearance of the flame? How long is the "dragons breath", the hot exhaust from the forge? What color is it? Is there a dark spot on the wall opposite the burner tube?

How long did you run the forge before deciding it wouldn't get hot? Even a Kaowool forge can take 20 mins to get hot - depending.

What is "pictix"?
   adam - Tuesday, 10/26/04 16:12:13 EDT

Dave W, are you interested in a belt sander or a belt grinder?

Belt sanders are primarily designed for wood. Belt Grinders work for just about everything that can be ground.

A common knifemaking size uses a 2x72" belt and these are available in everything from "you can count the boulders as they whizz by" to "so fine they must be pulling your leg about it grinding"

Top of the line models are produced by Bader, Burr King, Wilton, motors in the 2 hp range and well made with lots of attachments available---of course they cost more than most of the car's I've owned. The nicest ones have variable speed controllers.

Cheaper ones have been made by Coote and Grizzly.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/26/04 16:14:43 EDT

I'm looking for the least expensive useful belt grinder I can find.

I just have this suspicion that the least expensive belt grinder and the least expensive useful belt grinder are not the same item...

   Dave W - Tuesday, 10/26/04 16:50:06 EDT

I'm looking for plans for bellows and most of what I've seen on the web are similar enough that any will do. I've noticed, however, that none of them seem to incorporate a valve at the exit nozzel to prevent forge gasses from being drawn back in when inflating the bellows. I had sort of expected that would be necessary, but then I know how far my usual expectation tend to run from teh way things really work. :) Is it necessary to have a unidirectional valve at the exit nozzel, or does some mysterious [to me] law of nature make that redundant?

Warm and sunny... no wait, now cloudy and cold in Columbus Ohio
   MikeM-OH - Tuesday, 10/26/04 17:05:24 EDT

Dave: The cheapie belt grinder the knife guys recommend for beginners is the Grizzly 2x72. It runs around $300-$350, I think. They also make a 2 x 48 that gets okay reviews and is a bit cheaper.

I just bit the proverbial bullet and got a KMG 2x72. They are cheaper than Bader, Wilton, etc. if you have your own motor, and are considered the best you can get by the knife guys. The basic model with no motor starts at $695, which is more than a couple of cars I've owned. With a 1 hp motor and a set of step pulleys I have not found anything it wouldn't eat for breakfast and ask for more of. Some guys scrounge an old treadmill motor and speed control to get cheap variable speed capability.

Folks who are good with machine work build their own grinders, but that was not in my range of abilities.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 10/26/04 17:06:02 EDT

Dave ,
I have the Grizzly 2x72 belt grinder. Think it was about $350.00 USD. It is good for what I use it for (almost everything) It will do untill I can get a top of the line model . I have no complaints about it .
   Harley - Tuesday, 10/26/04 18:38:21 EDT

4x8 is the actual burn chamber.
only 1 side is blocked off.
the regulator has a max psi of 10,no thing to tell if its at ten.
the flame is a blue but not that bright i dont think its getting up to an oxizing flame.
the dragons breath is not even a half foot and is pleasantly farm to the touch.
the color at 6 45pm est is invisable.
there is no dark spot just a light orange.
i have ran it for a half hour
i dont think i spelled it right pictix is kinda like itc-100 but cheaper,as far as i can tell works just as well at itc-100.
thanks for all the help so far.
   - John S - Tuesday, 10/26/04 18:47:32 EDT

What kind of bellows, single-chamber or double-chamber? A double-chamber bellows pretty much has such a thing as part of its normal construction, but a single-chamber doesn't.

Cloudy and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   - T-Gold - Tuesday, 10/26/04 18:59:11 EDT

Cheap, Heavy tool steel anvil

i was reading a forum earlier today and a guy under the user name indiglo mentioned an idea on building an anvil using tool steel and lead. his idea was to use a tool steel face etc. and use lead (inside? around the tool steel?)

I was wondering if anybody tried that. It seems like the weight would be good and the face would be nice and hard

the question is whether or not the rebound of would be satisfactory or not. I've read that anvils are hardened with a softer core to absorb shock, would this act the same way you think?

my guess is that it would be too easy and cheap! but if it would work, it'd be nice.

   adimeshort - Tuesday, 10/26/04 19:14:18 EDT

Singlie chamber is what I was starting with, although I've got it layed out in such a way taht I can easily add a second chamber later.
   MikeM-OH - Tuesday, 10/26/04 19:14:48 EDT

Steve A

My Craftsman die stock has two thumb screws on one side. You loosen them and rotate the piece underneath. This makes three flat fingers close on the rod you're threading. Sears still sells it, at least in sets -- if you look up 00952068000 on their website, there's a pretty good view of it. Using the device does seem to help, but I can't say if it's better or worse than the methods already suggested here.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 10/26/04 19:18:25 EDT

Thread Starting: Steve A, If you can't take your parts to the drll press as the Guru suggests you can just take a vee block (assuming you have a set) and lightly clamp it to your shaft so that it can be pushed down by the die as it threads. The face of a good v block should be perpendicular to the base and the axis of the vee so it can be used to guide your die. Unclamp and it comes off with no fuss at all.

Most of the centering guides you see on stocks are just something to get in your way. A little practice and you won't need the v block either.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 10/26/04 19:38:56 EDT

Jimmy, Yes, the marks will be slightly harder than the rest of the face but you won't be able to tell the difference. See the review of the Russian anvil under ANVILS in Blacksmithing in the 21st Century. Also, practice your hammer control on a 2x4 and you won't have to dress the face twice.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 10/26/04 19:41:10 EDT

Threading oils in the 21st century. Haveing worked in a shop that chased, cut, rolled and formed threads on several million parts per month, I have seen the changes in lubes. We ran 43 screw machines, cutting threads in C1023, 416SS, 316SS, and monel. Also about 420 other chip makers.( made about a million #'s of scrap /month in 1981) In '81 we were using high sulfur oil. Stank, stained, and yeilded only fair tool life. This was NOT the high quality oil such as the Rigid co. oil. We had to change to 410SS from the free machining 416SS, and to thread rolling from expanding chasers. The sulfur oil failed. We tested many lubes and settled on a modern straight oil. The tool life improved beyond belief. Oddly, the wet clutch life on these machines went thru the roof. The clutchs and gear boxs were sharing the cutting oil. Went from buying $20,000 in clutch discs/month to none in the first 6 months. Roller dies went from 4 hours to about a week. We paid for a $80,000 change out of the oil based on the tool life of one machine.
We started using this oil in hobbs, pipe cutting and threading machines, and the tool and die guys found that although it was messy, it was far better than tapmatic, even the old stuff.
Moved to a new plant, and we switched to this oil in spline rollers. life went to +40%.Stuff is not cheap, but does not evaporate, so only what is left on the parts is lost.
Master Chemical OM 303 is available in 5 gallon pails for sure, and I think in 1 gallon pails. Mill supply stores can supply you.
This is from power tapping in major machine tools, your mileage may vary. Go CSI!
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/26/04 20:34:09 EDT

can you give me any info on the black jack or blackbeauty anvils brand name. thanks
   jim friel - Tuesday, 10/26/04 20:57:35 EDT

Mike a single lung bellows will try to pull some air back in the nozzle when you pull it open. If it's stuck in a fire it can pull hot coals into the bellows and *that* is not a good thing.

To get around it you can make a check valve (Theophilus mentions them in 1120 AD for the organ bellows he gives plans for) or you can use them in pairs so that one is blowing while the other is inhaling and so will override the lower pressure inhale. Another method is to leave an air gap between the bellows tip and the tuyere---I've used the diameter of the tuyere pipe with pretty good success. You want it so in use when you inhale the fire stream comes almost to the end of the tuyere pipe but no further so you can adjust it in use. Ask Jim at the MOB how to use single action bellows. They are part of the Y1K forge.

If it's a big bellows go with a check valve!!!!!

Now for a simple fireplace bellows you just move it away from the fire to inhale and back to exhale.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 10/26/04 21:49:13 EDT

Dave W.
If I had to buy just 1 grinding tool for a minimum of bux, I'd probably get one of the $50 Dewalt or Makita rebuilt hand held 4 1/2
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 10/27/04 04:14:13 EDT

Could you please tell me the average u-value of corrogated iron shutter (e.g. 4.6m x 3m sutter for entrance to a workshop)?
   Richard - Wednesday, 10/27/04 05:35:45 EDT

Forge Problems. . . Since we sell real Kaowool and ITC products here I will not comment on materials I am not familiar with. None of the coating materials for refractories are "kind a like" ITC. None do the same job as ITC products are quite unique. Most others are just a refractory coating that does not increase efficiency. You need to read ALL the specs very closely to compare these products.

Forge burners must be balanced to the size of the forge. Minor changes in specs (like the orifice, can you measure it?) can cause a burner to fail. Too small a burner and you do not have enough BTU. Too large and the fuel is all burning outside the forge. There are two ways to build a forge, ONE is to very carefully follow someone else's plans that are proven to work, TWO engineer your own. As soon as you vary from the plan you are pretty much on your own. 4x8 does not define a volume. . .

PRESSURE GAUGES: The reported value of most low cost gauges and regulators mean NOTHING! When new the guage on my Whisper baby reported that it worked fine at 4 to 7 PSIG. Now it needs 12 to 15 PSIG. The pricer gauge and regulator I purchased from a welding supplier 15 years ago now says that my melting furnace operates on ZERO to 2 PSIG. Both devices are probably running at 7 to 10 PSI. You cannot compare what anyone says about operating pressures with most of these guages. You adjust until it works and use the value as a reference. Then note that over the years that reference value may change over the years.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/04 10:12:13 EDT

U value?: Richard I do not have a clue what this refers to. In American engineering U is often used like k as an application factor relating to almost anything.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/04 10:44:28 EDT

Subject: S7
I bought a couple of sticks of S7 from one of my forge mates to make a slot punch and a fancy cutting chisel.
I know it's tough and I know it's air hardening. Once I've forged the tool, how do I anneal for filing and normalize the hammer end of the tool once I've rehardened it? Thanks kindly.
   Wendy Lawrence - Wednesday, 10/27/04 10:56:54 EDT

Single Chambered Bellows: Mike, These are not suitable for operating a forge. Even before the invention of wood and leather bellows paired hides over pits and paired wineskins were used. In the era a single chambered bellows they were used in PAIRS. One was blowing while one was filling. The "modern" bellows combines the two into one using the same materials to make a much better device.

Little "fireplace" bellows were made and used for TWO things. 1) Starting a fire from a glowing ember or flint and steel source replacing human lung power. ONLY to start the fire. 2) As "moulders" bellows to blow loose sand out of green sand molds. Both of these were replacements for lung power and to keep smoke and dirt out of one's eyes. . .

Paired single chambered bellows when properly setup are NOT connected together OR are connected together in a special manner. The nozzels are long and tapered operating close to and parallel to each other blowing air into the end of the tuyeer pipe. The air rushing out of one nozzel prevents air (or hot smoke) from being sucked back into the other nozzel. This is relatively sophisticated pneumatic switching that most people do not understand.

NEVER underestimate the sophistication of a apparently simple or primitive device. Bellows took many thousands of years to evolve. Anyone can build them that understands them. But do not try to reengineer something you do not understand.

NOTE: The #1 book on our suggested reading list has a very nice diagram of how a double chambered bellows works as well as blow pipes and hides and wineskins. . . Get it, read it and this discussion and many others would not have been needed.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/04 11:19:50 EDT

One more thing:
I was given a 90lb Swedish farrier's anvil recently. It has a very narrow face and a wide flat horn. The "brand" is a Capital Q with a crown on the Q.
I am guessing Queen...
Know anything else about this weird looking thing?
Thanks again.
   Wendy Lawrence - Wednesday, 10/27/04 11:25:58 EDT


Are you asking about "R" values as used in insulation parlance?


S7 must be cooled very slowly to anneal. That means turn off your gas forge and let it cool down naturally or if you made it in another way, put in old wood ashes or similar insulation material to cool slowly.
   - HWooldridge - Wednesday, 10/27/04 11:48:10 EDT

Another critical element in twinned bellows is the size of the intake hole (with flapper valve) to the volume of the bellows. Too small an intake and they can suck more than they blow. For an 1' X 2' (30 cm X 60 cm) bellows a 3" (75mm) intake hole is about right, but it's sort of an eyeball thing.

The twinned bellows up at Saugus Ironworks (www.nps.gov/sair/) and some illustrated in Agricola had adjustable intakes with sliding hatches to control the blast. Despite the fact that I put my intakes on the undersides, the vast majority illustrated show the intakes on the topsides for twinned bellows. This helps ensure an easier draw during the intake phase. If you're doing an historic setup, go with the period, but if you're doing it for yourself and some degree of efficiency, skip the twinned bellows and go with the stacked, or a blower. You cannot pump the bellows, tend the fire and work the iron with any sort of efficiency by yourself; and your friends and family usually have better things to do with their time than pump your bellows. ;-)

Cool and finally some wan sunlight on thebanks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 10/27/04 11:51:35 EDT

Annealing S7: Wendy, generally you cannot anneal the very high carbon modern tool steels (over 90 points) by blacksmith shop methods. They require a cooling rate of 20 to 25°F per hour to anneal. Just going from the forge to the annealing box too much cooling may occur.

To make tools from these tool steels you apply some seat of the pants blacksmithing heat treating that the professionals will say won't work OR in the least are not the best methods. You start with the expensive annealed bar, heat only the end you need to work, then harden only the working end and temper it by letting the residual heat run the colors before quenching again. Cut off the tool and the far end is still soft. Of course on short tools this may not work. In that case you may want to normalize.

Normalizing is a slow air cool. With thick sections this may give suitable results in air cooling steels but for most practical size pieces you want to go to the dry slack lime or vermiculite annealing box (quickly). To keep a thin edge hot and cool slow, heat a heavy block and set the two together in the annealing box. Once these steels are below a red they can be removed from the annealing box and cooled.

With most air cool steels the best you can do is use the normalized condition for striking ends OR temper to the highest temper temperature (above a dull red glow but below the non-magnetic point).

Working with high tech modern steels in the blacksmith shop is somewhat of a compromise metalurgicaly. However, S7 has been found to be fairly forgiving in its heat treatment and many smiths use it. Where you need to be careful is that it must be forged very hot but if you overheat it will crumble. If you work too cold you will create cracks (as well as possibly ding hammer and anvil). Also be careful to warm the steel before placing in the forge. If you do not screw it up in the forging the heat treating is not as critical.

Frank Turley has a favorite saying about working with tool steels, "They laugh at you". Then they crack and "They laugh at you!". His point. . to treat them gently while heating and forging. Do not thermal shock them or quench in cold quenchant. Frank teaches a tool making class where they make tools of S-7. It is one we could all benifit from. I learned a lot from just watching him at a short demo.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/04 11:51:56 EDT

Bellows Valves: The great bellows that I built had four 3" diameter intake valves on the bottom and two in between chambers. The intakes are larger because of the low pressure differential.

The only valves I have seen on top of bellows were in De Re Metalica and these were not intakes but over pressurization "pop off" valves. High tech explosion protection in 1400 AD. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/04 13:20:29 EDT

Threading: Guys, the drill press trick worked fine. So I made a couple more blanks of my part and will hopefully get them threaded okay.

   Steve A - Wednesday, 10/27/04 13:38:07 EDT

Hi Guru,

This may be a little off topic, but if anyone can answer it... I guess it's you guys.

I am looking at cold pressing some forms out of mild sheet metal and I was wondering what differences there will be between cold pressed and hot pressed sheet as far as streach and general formability...?

   Myles White - Wednesday, 10/27/04 15:07:23 EDT

John: New Gasser:

Could be one of several things or a combination of several things. My first guess is that the burner is mistuned and perhaps running too rich. Might be you tuned it in the open air and then installed it in the forge where the back pressure from the burn chamber cuts the air flow and results in a richer burn. 6" of dragons breath is a lot on a forge that size. If you have any adjustment left in your choke - increase the air until the orange exhuaust is no more than 1". This should put you on the lean side of hot. If you cant get there with your setup then you either you have too big a jet orifice or your burner is improperly installed e.g. piece of kaowool blocking the nozzle; nozzle too close to the opposing wall etc.

10 psi max is a bit low. People commonly use a 30 or 40 psi red hat regulator. I have only just got Porters book and I cant seem to find the operating press. range for his 1/2" burner. Nevertheless, if the forge is running at 10 psi it ought to get to forging temp. My second guess is that your pressure is way too low. At 10 psi the burner should be loud enough that the roar can be easily heard by your neighbors. You NEED a pressure gauge (0-30 psi or similar) . They are only a few bucks and you would be wise to spend another $30 in a decent regulator. I have run burners for short periods without a regulator using just the valve to control pressure. It is probably an unsafe practice but doing it for short periods just to test a new setup seems ok to me. So my next guess is that you just dont have anything like 10 psi at the gas orifice.

A 4" window is a bit large. Try blocking it with a fire brick. Put it about 1/2" away from the mouth of the forge so that the exhaust can escape but the radiant heat is reflected back into the chamber. Since you will have changed the airflow pressures, you will need to adjust the choke a bit. This problem alone shouldnt prevent a forge from getting to yellow but it might be a contributing factor.

PS I have just read Guru's comments on this problem. Yes you are probably running at a much lower press. than you think. IMO the chamber coating (ITC100 etc) makes some difference but not enough to account for your problems.
   Adam - Wednesday, 10/27/04 15:15:18 EDT

Wendy: You cant file S7 after forging it (at least not w/o industrial strength heat treating equip like Guru explained). Just plan on using your grinder to do any finish shaping. This is how we did it in Franks class.
   Adam - Wednesday, 10/27/04 15:20:18 EDT

Whoops. . I forgot to mention that after all that you would still need to use a grinder to dress the tool. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/04 16:03:58 EDT

Cold vs. Hot Forming Sheet: Myles, In sheet steel a LOT depends on the grade of steel. There are special deep draw steels used in cold forming opperations that amazing things can be done with. Other steels are much less ductile.

Using heat mostly makes the pressing easier to do reducing the force necessary to around a fifth needed cold (depending on the shape and detail). However there is a greater likelyhood of making a hole or tear hot than cold.

The disadvantages to working sheet hot are scale and it cools so rapidly than you just about have to work with the heat source on the piece. So if you have enough power to work cold you are bettr off.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/04 16:14:36 EDT

belt grinders: when considering the options, pay attention to the SFM (surface feet/minute). you will notice that the units in the range of 6-8K are more expensive; the performance reflects the cost...
   rugg - Wednesday, 10/27/04 16:21:25 EDT

Hello everybody.

I am new to actual blacksmithing. I have made knives and some art pieces before but all through what I was told is the lost metal system, I say grinding. Polishing and heat treating have all been sent out. I have never used a forge before but have access to a couple people that are budding blacksmiths and have gas forges.

Both my friends that have a gas forge have bought theirs and the one person I know that built his, I only see during one event a year.

My question is: I have a couple old 20 lb. Propane tanks that have not been in use for years. They were stored valve open and I plan on water flushing them. I would like to use one of these as the metal base cylinder for the forge. I plan on cutting the top rounded part off and making a door in the bottom. But it seems like from what I have read that even after lining it with Kaowool and ITC-100 that it would be a bit large?

Oh I am planning on welding it to a couple rails along the sides and it will lay on its side with firebrick in front. (if it were not cut the old valve would be facing me)

I have built a couple of Ron Reil’s easy burners to learn how to make them and see how they work. I plan on using one of them to fire the forge.

I hope this is enough information to see if I am on the correct track and I am grateful that there is such a wealth of information such as the ABANA (who I plain to join after I finish here) on your site to help newbie people like me out.

   Aaron Cissell - Wednesday, 10/27/04 16:28:08 EDT

Tool Steels:

I worked in a business related to the tool and die business for many years - we used S7 and H13 almost exclusively for hot work steels. S7 has a tendency to check and crack even if heat treated with modern process control but H13 is more forgiving so that is what I use at home in the shop. H13 will not get quite as hard as S7 but is better suited to impact and can be water cooled. I have a very thin hot cut I made from H13 some years ago that is a little over 2 inches wide and 4 unches long, tapering from 3/16 down to a sharp edge. It holds an edge quite well so long as I cut into a soft plate under the forging.
   - HWooldridge - Wednesday, 10/27/04 16:45:59 EDT

Here's an ethical (I think) question for you guys. I've been acquiring equipment lately and one of my purchases was a nice hammerhead on Ebay. It looks a bit like a double sided fuller, but it's a bit sharp for that. My original plan was to grind it to the shape I want. I was looking at it in the shop last night and it's pretty old, says JC Higgins or some such on the side. My question is this, is it an antique with value that I would be destroying? How can I tell? I don't think I have a priceless antique, but either way, I don't want to destroy the historic value of something to make a tool. Any thoughts?
   MikeA - Wednesday, 10/27/04 17:19:53 EDT

"drawing out" blues.

I was wondering if anybody had any advice on drawing out techniques. Without the use of any machine, i would like to get really quick at drawing out a peice of steel. The problem is that it takes about 4 heats to stretch the steel one inch (3/16" steel flat bar). I am a beginner so i expect things will take a while, but i want to practice the technique correctly. I've tried using the edge of my anvil, the pein on my hammer, 1" steel rod (as a fuller), and yet to buy and try a hardy fuller.

any suggestions?

   adimeshort - Wednesday, 10/27/04 17:33:28 EDT

Cheap, Heavy tool steel anvil (reposted)

i was reading a forum earlier today and a guy under the user name indiglo mentioned an idea on building an anvil using tool steel and lead. his idea was to use a tool steel face etc. and use lead (inside? around the tool steel?)

I was wondering if anybody tried that. It seems like the weight would be good and the face would be nice and hard

the question is whether or not the rebound of would be satisfactory or not. I've read that anvils are hardened with a softer core to absorb shock, would this act the same way you think?

my guess is that it would be too easy and cheap! but if it would work, it'd be nice.

   adimeshort - Wednesday, 10/27/04 17:33:52 EDT

Mike check to see if the faces were steeled. If they were, keep it as it is as reforming it will lose the steel facing most likely.

Also look to see if is says "cast steel" anywhere on it. If so it's a tad old and you need to make a value call on it---I pick up damaged cast steel items to re-use the metal for 19th century historical reproductions.

If you decide not to remake it and don't plan to use it give it away a smithy should be full of *using* tools and not a museum!

Side blast forges: IIRC "Practical Blacksmithing" by Richardson has instructions on making side blast forge tuyeres from folks who made a living using them.

Size of a gas forge made from a propane tank sorta depends on how many layers of kaowool you line it with right? It's a fairly common shell so some folks have decided it works right. I've seen some billet welding forges made from them that had a hole in the bottom to allow flux to drip out...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/27/04 17:37:34 EDT

Mike: IMO the most respect you can show an old tool is to put it to work. It was made by a craftsman like you for the kind of work you are doing. It surely was not created to grace the den of some gynecologist with more money than taste. Just my opinion :)

S7 I too use mostly H13 (because I have a bunch of it) and find it very easygoing. One of the S7 chisels that I made in Franks shop has a longitudinal crack. I just assumed I was careless with the heat treat

Propane Tank Forge: the 20#'ers are about 12" dia - if you use 3" of kaowool to line it then you will have a burn chamber 6" x 12" = 340 cu in which is a bit large for a single EZ burner - the rule of thumb is about 240 cu ins. You might consider 2 burners. Someone who is in the propane business recommended filling the tank with water & detergent and letting it sit for a week or two - may be overdoing it especially if the tank has been open for years

   adam - Wednesday, 10/27/04 17:44:36 EDT

Pressure gages.
The Guru very correctly stated that the pressure gages found on gas regulators are not to be believed for an accurate pressure. I once worked for a pnuematic and hydraulics maker, in the test lab. We did a test of available small gages and found them all to be about worthless. If you open the case of a cheap gage, you will most likley see a small bourden tube linked thru a gear to the pointer. This is a copper or brass tube, bent into a gentle radius. This tube will try to straighten as pressure is applied. The gear train converts this slight movement into a rotorary motion to spin the pointer. Now imagine that the tube has to move with only a few psi difference and convert that into the pointer movement. The wholesale rate for the standard 2 1/2" low pressure gage is less than a dollar to the oems, and you expect that to be accurate?
Next, that tube is very easy to fatique, and over pressure tends to permanetly straighten the tube. A shock to the case may allow the gear to strip a tooth or jump a tooth.
Accurate measurement of low pressures is usually done with a manometer, or a very expensive digital transducer.
A quick note is that all bourden tube type gages are most accurate in the middle third of the range. Pressure cycling is death to a gage, overpressure is hard on a gage, shock is hard on a gage, and not all tubes are compatible with all medias.
In the lab, we deadweight calibrated every gage, before every test, and found a suprising amount of error, even in lab quality gages treated in a fairly nice manner.
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/27/04 17:44:59 EDT

Dimeshort, nobody has answered the anvil question because it's such a self-evidently bad idea. I've been trying to think of a nice, educational way to say it, but there it is. If you are talking about a tool steel plate atop a lead block, the lead block will slowly squish (scientific term) out from under it. If you mean a welded box of tool steel filled with lead, again the lead will just squish, even inside the steel box. It has no resistance to plastic deformation, it's just heavy.

As for drawing out, it just takes practice. On 3/16" x 1", I'd use either the cross pein or the anvil edge for a first series of blows, followed by the hammer face to remove the dents put there by the tight radius of the edge or pein, all in one heat. How hot are you getting the steel? That makes a difference as well, plus as the stock gets thinner it will cool off faster, and 3/16" is pretty thin to begin with. You should be able to take a piece of that stock to a nice light yellow heat and pull it out into a smooth taper like you would want for starting a scroll in one heat. I'm not sure I know what you mean by stretching the steel one inch. If you mean you are starting with, say, a one-foot section and want it to be 13 inches when you finish hitting it, that's easy enough. What specifically do you want the shape to be when you're through?
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/27/04 19:55:32 EDT

Fly press.

Has anybody ever seen this type of fly press before? (Ebay number 3847864506). I'm trying to think of an excuse for buying it!
   Bob G - Wednesday, 10/27/04 20:20:24 EDT

Are you in the UK? I ask as that is where that press seems to be.

   Ralph - Wednesday, 10/27/04 20:28:35 EDT

Yes indeed.
   Bob G - Wednesday, 10/27/04 20:33:34 EDT

Bob G.,

Take a look at iForge demos number 160 through 162.

Then make your decision about the fly press.

If I was in the UK, I'd already be bidding on it.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 10/27/04 20:40:46 EDT

I've already got 3 or 4 presses (size 2 to size 10) but if you look closely you'll see that this is not an ordinary fly press!
   Bob G - Wednesday, 10/27/04 20:49:18 EDT

Wendy et al, S7 is versatile. You can make a cold or hot work tool out of it, depending on how it's tempered. For annealing, it IS seat-of-pants in a small shop unless one has a heat treating furnace. Annealing is rather strange, anyway. The metal is cooled at 25F per hour down to 1,000F (dull red incandescence) and then air cooled. The specs for S7 say, "Do not normalize", and since normalizing is air cooling, you may get hardening or partial hardening, depending on the temperature you are cooling from. S7 has a limited forging range: 1950F -2050F (lemon) and stop forging at 1700F (bright red or salmon). My funky anneal[not recommended by the metallurgists] is from the usual temperature of 1500F-1550F (bright cherry red). The piece goes into the dry lime until it is at room temperature. Harden in air from 1700F-1750F (salmon creeping toward an orange heat) by placing the workpiece on something "unreactive", like a fire brick or chunk of graphite or a pile of coke...no metal contact. Temper for hot work by reheating to 1000F-1150F (dull red) and air cooling again. For cold work, take the tool to at least 400F-450F, air cool. The steel is delivered annealed, so if you can preserve that anneal when necessary, that is good. As suggested earlier, if there is a striking head, cut that area with a hacksaw or chop saw, and don't heat it to forge it. That way, its "softness" is preserved.

Gotta go out and get chicken pot pie at KFC. Kind of a hidden secret. Their chicken pot pies are good, and you have no batter to deal with. Upon my return, I'll try to fill y'all in on why and how the farrier pattern anvils got so goofy looking.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/27/04 21:15:32 EDT

Drawing out blues,

well, my end goal is to be able to draw out a steel laminate billet for a pattern welded blade. i want to be able to draw the billet to twice its length, cut in half, and reweld... 6 or 7 times without destroying the steels properties by too many heats or too high of a temperature.

i guess my main concern is not destroying the steel's ability to become a good knife by the time its forged into a blade after all the heats required for 300 layers of lam.

what is a reasonable heat for drawing out "knife quallity" steel?

in a nut shell, how can i make a pattern welded blade (the slow way) and still end up with a nice cutting edge in the end?
-what temperature for a highcarbon steel should i draw at with limited damage to the steels properties?
-for a 1" square rod, what length could a skilled blacksmith expect to be able to draw it out in one heat? a couple of inches each heat?


   adimeshort - Wednesday, 10/27/04 21:33:13 EDT

Pattern welded steel.

Heating to firewelding temperatures will obviously have an adverse affect on the steel. If you really want the best possible edge then I suggest you laminate a piece of suitable material into the middle of your billet during the final heat. There will be a lot of decarburization (is that a word?) so, after forging, grind off a fair thickness to get down to the 'good' metal. Here's a link to my first effort at a pattern welded blade, hope it's not too long.
   Bob G - Wednesday, 10/27/04 21:50:53 EDT

Question on Steel properties for bladesmithing

I’ve read a couple of books and articles on the subject of bladesmithing, but I’m still confused on the subject of a blades properties.

I’ve read that you lose about 1% of your metal every heat (scaling), thus you want to limit the amount of heats you use so you don’t lose too much metal.

I’ve also read that you want to use the lowest heat possible to reduce grain growth, which supposedly creates a weak blade that wont hold an edge.
But one article said that by working a heated piece, grain growth will not occur.

Is the 1% loss of metal the only thing to worry about?
Does the excessive AMOUNT OF HEATS or excessive HEAT TEMPERATURES change the carbon content and other properties throughout the whole steel blank?

All in all, do I have to worry about anything else besides the 1% loss of metal mass (scaling) that falls off through each heat? If this is the only concern, I would just start out with more metal then is required.

What do I have to worry about when making a blade that requires many, many heats and higher temperatures then just a cherry red. And how do I prevent the loss of properties so that my finished product has good “blade like” qualities

Thanks for helping the severely confused,


P.S. Bob G. thanks a bunch for the advice. I’ll definitely do that, but does that mean that the pattern welded (casing) steel is, for lack of a better term, useless other then for looks?
   adimeshort - Wednesday, 10/27/04 22:11:14 EDT

It's certainly not useless. I recently made a billet from wrought iron and W2 steel. I hardened it to glass hard and then tested to destruction. The piece bent 30 degrees before snapping as the layers of wrought iron remained in a soft state and supported the hard W2 layers. The main reason pattern welded steel is still made is for decorative or historical purposes as even the best cannot compare to modern steels.
   Bob G - Wednesday, 10/27/04 22:18:48 EDT

I need to drill holes on either side of the 1/4" thick cast iron flue spigot on my wood stove. Any concerns about drilling into this material? Will the holes create weak points and cause this cast pipe (elbow like peice) to fracture from normal and over firing conditions?

The holes are needed to mount a heat shield. Machine bolts will be used to secure the sheild in order to avoid threading the flue spigot.


   JD - Wednesday, 10/27/04 22:23:11 EDT

Wendy again, I can't ID your anvil, but I can hold forth. About 1960 or '61 I believe, Dick Cropper of Chatsworth, California, started producing and handling Multi-Product brand anvils and horseshoes. He had gone to Japan in the 50's, and made arrangements to have them cast over there. I think he wanted the anvils to be like the draft horse pattern Hay-Buddens which were fairly large, usually weighiing between 180 and 225 pounds. Cropper's were smaller, so they could easily be moved in and out of a traveling shoeing rig. The trouble was that he attenuated some of the features of the Hay-Budden and accentuated others. He made the waist too small, thereby taking some of the support from the already too slender heel. The swell in the horn base is supposed to be there to make it easy to open up shoes, but Cropper flattened it maybe a little too much on top. The two pritchel holes became standard for horseshoers' anvils, but I never found that they helped much. The idea was, you have 3 or 4 nails holes on one shoe branch, so the extra hole would make it easier to pritchel them out without the shoe falling off the anvil. The narrow face was not such a bad idea, if all you do is level shoes. Sometimes a shoer will draw 2 side clips, relatively thin, small "ears", projecting up from the edge of the shoe. When the shoe was nailed on, the clips kept the shoe from shifting around on the foot, especially on an athletic horse. It is often easier to level a clipped shoe on a narrow face, because the clips will "straddle" the face.

So what Cropper would up with was a "freaky" looking anvil, in my humble opinion. Apparently, he started a trend, whereby other cast farriers' anvils became rather strange looking over the years.

adimeshort, What kind of steel do you have there? Was the billet already welded up when you purchased it? If it has high carbon steel, you should probably be forging between an orange heat and a low cherry red...except when welding. Many smiths draw steel on the base or middle area of the horn. The horn acts sort of like a giant fuller. Then you finish up on the face to get rid of the scalloped effect.

I would not worry about scale loss, although if you take too many heats on a large chunk of steel, you can lose an ounce or more through lost scale. Minimize the heats.

Grain growth should not be a problem if your forging heats are correct and you anneal after completing your forging. Grain growth can be retained and screw up your blade, if when hardening, you quench while it is overly hot (you heated above quenching temperature by mistake and then quenched}. Not good.

Drawing steel. There's an old saying: "Never use force; get a bigger hammer". Although said tongue in cheek, there is some truth in it. The hammer should be fairly heavy for what you are doing. If the head wiggles and wobbles on the down stroke, it is TOO heavy. Many young smiths use rapid DINK blows. Because there is a fast rhythm, they think they are really getting something done. But if they used a slightly heavier hammer, lifted it over their head, and slowed the rhythm, they would really make each blow count.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/27/04 23:26:30 EDT

Scale Losses: These have been HIGHLY overestimated for many years. One of the first values published was 2%. That was WAY off of reality. The 1% you read somewhere was a downward estimate that is still way off. In normal forging the loss to scale is probably much less than a tenth of 1%.

Now. . when soaking billets a long time which is a VERY bad practice it is probably possible to lose that 2%. Billets soaked that long have HUGE amounts of scale (it is much less dense and thus much more bulky than the steel it replaces). That billet is also heavily decarbonized and has had heavy grain growth. In other words, it should not be used.

Consider this. MANY shops forge hundreds of pieces a day. Scale piles up around hammer and anvil. If you forged 100 pieces at 1% you would have a pile of scale that weighed as much as one piece. At 1% it would be 2 pieces. . . Now, consider industrial shops that forge 50 and 100 pound parts all day every day. The mounds of scale would bury the hammer daily if the percentage of scale loss was 2%. The reality is the people that have made these statements of full percentages have not done the math OR done specific research on the subject.

Grain Growth: is more a matter of time than temperature. Correcting it under normal circumstances is a matter of good heat treating practice. (I see Frank covered that).

Cherry Red: FORGET temperature colors. Monday I did an outdoor demo. We started with an overcast sky and the students could easily see the orange heat. But in the afternoon the sun came out and the hottest my small gas forge could get the steel was not enough to see ANY COLOR in the direct sunlight. Although this is an extreme it demonstrates that heat color is directly related to ambient light and you cannot trust heat colors except as a VERY rough guide in average coditions.

Best Metalurgical Forging: IF you want to do the "best" possible job forging any high carbon steel you do it FAST. That means that except for small forgings you need a power hammer. Exceptional blade forgings can be accomplished in two or three heats using a good power hammer operated by a practiced smith.

Drawings and above: This does not mean that good work cannot be done by hand. It means that you cannot do the "best" work forging too large a forging using certain steels by hand. The beginning smith needs to stick to projects that are within their range of forging skill. To get where you can move steel quickly enough by hand not to waste heats can take a year of forging several hours a day depending on ones physique. I have never been very muscular and it took me a LONG time to get where steel moved satisfactorily for me. Others may get to that point much more quickly than I did. In ANY case it requires a lot of practice (OR a power hammer).

If you don't get into the shop and forge regularly you will never develope the skills or the muscles to move steel efficiently.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 00:09:51 EDT

Miscellaneous answers - Decarburization yep its a word we metallurgists use often shotened to decarb in shop talk. 20 lb propane tank for a forge - I don't have one, but I've worked with Jymm Hoffman, and he uses one set up with a blown air burner - seemed to work well for him.
Scale loss - anytime you generate scale you'll have decarburization on the surface below it. We used to anneal 4140 bars in a straight nitrogen atmosphere - top temperature about 1600 F the mill scale from hot rolling would react with the steel and decarb the surface - but it was predictable and we kept it in specification. On a cross section you'd see scale, decarbed section going from almost 0 carbon, then graduating up to full carbon level.

If you worry about grain growth, normalize one or more times before you quench - take the steel just above the transition temperature, hold for a short time to allow 100% transition to austenite, and then air cool. That will refine grain growth from high temperature forging operations.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 10/28/04 00:10:35 EDT

Drawing out blues, and adimeshort's questions...

Working temps are determined by the alloys you are welding together? So still no precise answer:-) Generally you want to work a low end welding temp while forging the patternwelded billet, as a precaution. Some of the higher carbon and higher alloy steels are hot short, so if you get say 1095 above a bright cherry you will have cottage cheeze where your billet used to be. Of course a few of them are also cold short and you work them below a certain pint and they are ruined as well. Burned steel is ruined, and you cannot always tell that it has failed, til you finish your heat treat and then it fails... A good rule of thumb for most steels is between red, and bright cherry red.

How big a draw off a 1' bar??? Again it would depend on the smith, the available tools, and the way they prefered to work. I should think that most smith when push comes to shove, if they had to draw on a 1" bar could do atleast an 1" or 2". I think Brian Brazeal could probably do 6.5" or 7" But he uses a 6# Hoffi style handsledge, and really knows how to use the edges and the angles to get the most out of each hammer blow.

Lessons in moving steel:-)
Clifton Ralph is an old industrial blacksmith, and is quite the character. Clifton likes to describe the dynamics of how steel moves with this metaphor:

Steel is just like Bull$%^&...
Think of a nice wet cow pie, now throw a nice big round rock right in the center of it... What happen???
The poop flys out in all directions.

Now take another wet cow pie and smack it with a stick... What happens???
The poop flys off in only two directions, with maybe a tiny bit spraying along the stick.

Now take a third wet cow pie, and throw a brick down in it... What happens???
The poop mainly flys away from the long sides of the brick, some off of the short face of the brick , and just a tiny bit off of the corners of the brick.

Now in working steel: round tools spread the steel in all directions pretty much equally, narrow tools spread the steel mainly in two directions, and rectangular tools spread it mainly along the long axis of the tool, and some off of the short axis.

Another very useful thing that Clifton teaches is the concept of V. A. R. P. Volume, Area, Resistance, and Power. 1/4 square stock is very easy to move, 1" square stock has 16 times the volume of steel, and 4 times as much as 1/2 square stock, and consequently has considerably more resistance. To overcome that resistance you either need more power, or you need to focus your blows on a smaller area to overcome the resistance. Deep drawing dies, and fullers illustrate this point very well. You can whale on a piece of steel and have it move very little, but if you apply the same force on a smaller area you will see a good deal of movement.

So to move the steel fast you want to use a nicely dressed crosspien or diagonal pien, and or the edge of the anvil, or the horn to provide the proper pinching action to squeeze the steel in only the direction you want it to go. Half faced blows over the edge of the anvil and a rounding hammer over the horn will also work. But like anything in blacksmithing it takes practice, and there are no shortcuts!!! (If you are luckly you can find some well marked paths that will save you having to figure it all out on your own, Anvilfire is one of the better marked paths:-) In the end nothing worthwhile is easy, and you can only buy skills with sweat equity. After making four or five sets of tongs with drawn out reins you should have fair handle on the basics of drawing:-) Join CSI!!!
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 10/28/04 00:23:44 EDT

The first Makita 4 1/2-inch hand-held grinder I had lasted for many years, but then I discovered Makita wanted nearly as much as a new one to fix it-- and charged a bundle for the diagnosis. The second Makita died when it got dropped off the bench and my autopsy revealed the motor is mounted in a fragile plastic web/diaphragm. No more Makita anything for me. Ever. My Milwaukee (Taiwan, I think) is bigger, heavier, much more awkward to hold, but it seems sturdier. So far.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/28/04 00:28:27 EDT

thanks a lot for the advise on the metaleurgy scooling. Seems like a lot of work and cash for questionable job prospects, and relativly poor job security to me.
   HavokTD - Thursday, 10/28/04 00:32:57 EDT

Lead Filled Anvil: This is the stupidest most ludicrous and irresponsible idea I have heard in a long time. It is worse than the lead filled treadle hammer head and as useless as the concrete filled anvil.

1) A steel anvil "face" needs the support of more steel under it to prevent fracture or bend. Even good old anvils with a steel face and wrought body get swayed from heavy use. In large pieces lead is not even self supporting.

2) Lead, is MUCH more expensive than steel. The cost difference is 10:1 disregarding environmental costs. If you need mass you mearly need 45% more steel by volume.

3) Lead is toxic. It is an environmental hazzard. It should NEVER be used unless there is a very goor reason for it. Casting lead in your shop can result in it becoming a hazardous waste site or in the least poisionling you and youir family. A small amount of lead spilled on a concrete floor splaters into dust sized particles. This dust can then pe tracked everywhere including into your house and onto your children who are susceptible to brain damage from lead exposure. The only time lead is "cheap" is when people are trying to get rid of it because legal disposal is very expensive. . .

4) Lead is not even necessary for radiation shielding in the Nuclear industry. I spent years fighting this battle and even after the real world proof in actual nuclear power plants the "engineers" there would still specify lead shot filled shielding containers. The ONLY time lead was necessary is where there was limited space (you did not have room for that 45% extra thickenss). Given the same amount of mass of steel as lead between you and a high level gamma radiation source the steel performed the same as the lead. Steel is self supporting, AND it is cheaper, AND is is easier to fabricate, AND it is not an environmental hazzard. . . .

   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 00:36:40 EDT

Anvil ID's: I talked to Richard Postman today and asked him about Black Jack anvils. He said they were made by Simmons Hardware Mfg. Co. He said he thought they also made one called a Black Prince but he never heard of a Black Beauty.

The Swedish anvil with the Q and crown is probably a Soderfose (sp). They also sold the Lakeland anvil and many other private branded anvils. Kohlwsa, who took over from Soderfose now uses the Swedish crown in their logo but not on their anvils.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 00:41:53 EDT

the storey you told is curious in that I know several smiths who learned in England ( one of them did so about 40 years ago) But the point is that both used the cowpie example. I am wondering if that might be a teaching method? I know that most folks who I use that on tell me years later that it is one lesson that they NEVER forgot. (smile)
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/28/04 01:21:49 EDT

JD and drilling cast iron.
I am not real sure but I tend to think that drilling is not a real good idea.
Is there any way possible to use hose clamps to hold the sheild in place? Huh? you ask. Look at many motorcycle exhausts. There are heat sheild there to protect the leg etc. And most are held in place with hose clamps.
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/28/04 01:23:51 EDT

Anvil Design: I am glad to hear Frank chime in on this subject. Not too many people appreciate the differences in anvil design. There have been some really bad modern anvils, primarily the fadish farrier's anvils. However, the American pattern (such as the Hay-Budden and others) is a generaly bad a adaptation of the heavier waisted London pattern and continental anvils.

The American pattern was developed back when hearing loss was not associated with common daily tasks and the louder an anvil rang the better people thought it was. Although the ring can be an indicator of good condition and hardness it is not necessarily a good property in itself. American anvil designers learned that making a narrow waisted anvil enhanced the ring and thus made anvils with narrower and narrower waists. This look, like a narrow waist on a curvaceous woman also had a certain sex appeal. Anvils became sexy on both a masculine and feminine level AND they were LOUD.

The narrow waist accentuates the sound of the anvil by connecting two masses (the top and the base) by a springy hinge (the narrow waist) thus acting much like a tuning fork and giving the ring "sustain". The long upper body (horn to heel) also has the same effect rotating on the narrow waist. If you want an anvil to ring its loudest strike the side of the heel or horn.

So it turns out that our favorite American anvils are springy and loud. But then the farrier anvil makers go even further with exaggerated horns and even narrower waists. The only reason the ring is not excruciating is that they also removed all the mass from the base which reduces the tuning fork effect.

You will find that if you have a chance to work on a good old english pattern anvil or one of the new German anvils that having more mass under the face gives you a MUCH more efficient anvil. You can feel the solididity under your hammer. In fact the old Colonial era anvils were the best of the breed having a waist of almost 80% the face length (compared to a Hay-Budden with about 25%). And the French and Italian patterns (such as the Nimba) have no waist and nearly 100% support under the face with only the horn and heel not supported underneith. Another American maker that has gone back to this design is Texas Farrier Supply. They have reduced the "base" to little feet that give the anvil a larger footprint and put the mass under the face. This results in more efficient use of the mass and a better forging anvil for the money.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 01:33:48 EDT

anvilfire is not ABANA Aaron Cissell, and all, Although we support the ABANA chapters (now called affilates) by providing free web hosting to dozens of them we do not recieve any support from ABANA nor are we affilated with them in any way.

anvilfire.com is supported by our advertisers, sales from the anvilfire store and our Non-Profit users group CyberSmiths International (CSI). Without CSI anvilfire (which was supported mostly out of my pocket and time) would have been bankrupt and disapeared from the Internet several years ago.

The goals of CSI are to keep anvilfire.com online and functioning on both the short and long term. On short end I desperately need HELP. I've needed help for over four years but could not afford it. As a corporate entity CSI will hopefully have a longer life than I do and be able to maintain anvilfire on-line indefinitely. However, at this time it has a small membership of just over 100 members whos dues go largely to support this site. Joining CSI will help assure the future for anvilfire.

CSI has just recently incorporated as a non-profit entity, has its first board of directors and is in the final stages of obtaining its IRS non-profit status. Afterwards we will be looking for support from various charitable and educational organizations. All of this is being done on a shoestring budget mostly by volunteers, many of whom post here with CSI blue signitures.

Join CSI and be part of the future of Blacksmithing!
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 01:58:19 EDT

Lead filled toolsteel anvil.

K, first off, its an article i read mentioning the idea.

Second off, yes it is poisonos... Like say ammonia, draino, clorox, wasp spray, and many other household substances that if used improperly, can cause extremely serious harm. I realize the hazard, in fact the reason i asked is because i cast my own 54 cal. round balls.
as for the stupidly ludicrous ideas, i guess i'm prone to them, of course this one wasn't mine this time, but i must say that i haven't the slightest desire to stop. ;)

Humility, its the only way to learn. With out it, i'd already know everything, thus why bother

   adimeshort - Thursday, 10/28/04 03:12:02 EDT


One reason the guru came down as hard as he did about the lead filled tool steel anvil is that lead is such an insidious, long lasting problem. In it's own way, I think it's more dangerous than some of the more virulent substances. The symptoms are slow to appear, and frequently by the time they do appear, it already almost too late.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 10/28/04 03:32:13 EDT

I was wondering if there is a mechanism for securing double gates using normal deadbolt locks.The problem being is that by fitting the locks in the conventional way, as for a solid double gate, with ground bolts on one gate and the lock on the other, any intruder can simply reach through, pull up the bolt and pull the gates open. At the moment I am using padlocks which is ugly.
Thanks for your help.
   Adam Hayes - Thursday, 10/28/04 04:27:31 EDT

why not use the deadbolt lock to fix a cross bolt / draw bar in position? this would not need the ground fixing if you took it to extreams.

thanks for the cu mug / tinning comments all
   Nigel - Thursday, 10/28/04 07:04:08 EDT

One way is to have the leaf that carries the lock mechanism
capture the cane bolt on the opposing gate so it can't be lifted when the gates are closed.
   Chris S - Thursday, 10/28/04 07:19:10 EDT

Gate Locks, Deadbolt: Adam, Check with lock supply folks OR archetectural supply folks. Even your local locksmith can help you. Steel encased deadbolt locks are made that can be riveted or welded into decorative steel gates. They are not pretty so covering them up is your job. But they are available and made for the purpose. All my lock supply catalogs are too far out of date to even use the addresses but there are a bunch out there that provide this hardware.

The advantage to these locks is that they use a standard brass pin cylinder lock that uses a modern key and can be maintained by a locksmith. The alternative is to make your own. See our iForge series on locks.

Nigel's and Chris' ideas can be used with these locks for an even more secure gate.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 09:11:27 EDT

For any who may have doubts about the difference in effectiveness of heavy-waisted anvils versus the American pattern, I can attest that this is surely the case.

I recently purchased a nice old Fisher and Norris, which has a heavier waist and thicker heel than the standard American pattern. My old anvil is the American pattern, with the exception that is is a side-face anvil, which carries a bit more mass in the face. The difference in effectiveness between the two anvils is even more dramatic than I had expected.

The Fisher has a harder face than my other anvil and more mass under the center of the face. The combination of those two factors makes it move metal about 30% easier/faster than my other anvil. I was expecting a difference of maybe 10%, so I was pleasantly surprised.

The other notable differences between the old anvil and the new is that the Fisher has a FLAT face, and pretty sharp corners. The old one is swayed by about 3/32" in the "sweet spot", the result of many decades of forging, and all the corners are well rounded. In using the Fisher, I actually miss that sway, as it is very handy for straightening, light dishing and gentle turning operations. I miss it enough that that old anvil will be mounted one step away from the Fisher, and my 100# Peter Wright will wind up being moved out of the main forging area. The Fisher will HAVE to have the edges radiused a good bit more to avoid cold shuts. Whoever had it before me must never have really used it much.

The nicest thing about the new Fisher is that is has NO ring. I already have to wear hearing aids, due to too much lound noises, so I don't need a noisy anvil. And no matter what I did, that old wrought iron anvil rang piercingly.

My point? Those of you who are looking for sexy looking American pattern anvils with optically flat faces and edges you can cut yourself on are being led by hype and mystique. A nice chunky anvil with a bit of sway will work better than you think, by far. And loud anvils are fine for advertising on eBay, but not much fun to work with.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/28/04 09:37:02 EDT

Drilling that Cast Iron part: JD, Without seeing the part it is difficult to tell if you are creating weak places. Cast iron drills fine and making holes is no problem. Not threading IS better due to not creating sharp corners that tend to probagate cracks.

As a rough guide, IF your holes are two diameters from the edges of the piece then they should not be a problem. Holes less than a diameter from the edge are very likely to create cracking. SO, if you have a sufficiently wide flange there should be no problem. Be sure your holes are 1/64 to 1/32" (~.5 to 1mm) larger than the bolts you are going to put through them.

Ralph's idea of using clamps around the pipe is a good one and avoids the hole drilling question all together.

I like the use of heat shields and recommend them regularly for certain items. A double heat shield with 1" air spaces and circulating air will stop nearly 100% of radiant heat.

   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 10:09:18 EDT

Lead Filled Anvil: If this is the stupidest idea you have heard in a long time then you really do need to get out more. For example, try reading one of those internet forums where blacksmiths talk about their politics.
   adam - Thursday, 10/28/04 10:57:57 EDT

Thomas P. You mentioned yesterday that tools marked "Cast Steel" are a tad old and need to be valued. A friend of mine has a ton of woodworking tools marked cast steel. Can you elaborate please? Is there info. somewhere he should know?
   Gronk - Thursday, 10/28/04 10:59:16 EDT

First off, apologies if I offended the guru or anybody with my reply; my reply came off more offensive then I intended it to be.

Grain growth and decarborization

>K, so if I read you guys right, grain growth occurs by the amount of time you’ve spent forging it, rather then the temperature of heat used. Is this correct? And you can correct the grain growth by normalizing the blade before quenching provided that you quench at a rising heat of the correct temperature.

Also, I realize that every metal is very specific to not only forging temps, but also tempering and quenching temperatures. I always hear that forging should be done in this color or that, but like the guru said, its all a matter of ambient light. I was working in my garage, where the piece appeared to be a dark red, I walked into the house and it looked cherry or cool orange. I wish there were a way to easily standardize this.

>As for decarborization, is this due to the time spent forging, or is it the temperature? My guess is that it would be both. And is the carbon content lost throughout the entire piece or just the surface?

>guru, like you were saying about the Japanese, they use the oxidizing/Reducing Zone and rice straw ash to add or reduce the carbon when needed (then use a folding process to evenly distribute the carbon). It seems like by the time they were to evenly distribute the carbon, the blade would already be decarborized again, is this controlled by the oxidizing/reducing zones?

>Is there any literature or guide to teach you how to tell the carbon content of steel? I was reading a Japanese sight that said how the steel was sorted by carbon content determined by the color of it. I realize that they were using iron and adding the carbon into it and other properties like silicon from rice straw ash, would this be an impractical practice for correcting decarborization of a blade that started out highcarbon?

>and finally to conclude this novel, I hear bladesmiths say, and the ABS as well, that they test there blades by bending them 90 degrees… Does this mean that the blade actually flexes into a right angle and the returns to its normal state? Or does it mean that they flex it, say 25 degrees, and it returns to normal… I couldn’t imagine any blade capable of bending perpendicular to itself with out breaking or staying that way.


   adimeshort - Thursday, 10/28/04 12:26:32 EDT

I am a newbie to blacksmithing. I have fooled around on my friend's forge a bit, but I would like to get more serious and have a forge of my own. I have access to a wood furnace that my parent's used to heat their house with. Do you know of any plans on how I can convert this into a coal-fired forge? It doesn't have bellows, and I am not sure exactly how wide the working area in something like this has to be, nor do I know if the ventilation has to be different. I would appreciate any ideas on resources that could get me started. Thanks.
   Jeremy - Thursday, 10/28/04 12:49:22 EDT

Grain growth is a time AND temperature related thing. So is decarb, which tends to be a surface phenomenon. Laminated steels can experience carbon migration when held at forging temps. This is when carbon moves from a higher carbon layer to a lower carbon layer, a phenomenon you are trying to take advantage of when normalizing. Confused even more?

The best source of information for what you are after at the moment is a thing called "The Metallurgy of Heat Treating for Blacksmiths" by our own Quenchcrack. It's on www.iforgeiron.com in the blueprints section. I'd post the whole link but it's very long indeed.

As for the 90 degree flex test, yes it's real. The object is to forge a blade that can be clamped in a vise near the tip and be bent 90 degrees without breaking. They don't try to straighten them afterwards, it's a one-shot deal. The purpose of this test is to make sure the prospective smith is able to control the heat treat process in such a way as to meet this criterion.

There are many other tests the ABS does to make sure prospective journeyman and mastersmith candidates are in full control of the heat treatment process of their knives, but the 90 degree bend is the most spectacular if it fails.

If you are really into bladesmithing to the exclusion of all other types of forgework, may I also suggest reading the newbie's arena at http://www.knifenetwork.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=18

Many of your questions are also answered there in great detail. HOWEVER: as the Guru has pointed out many times on this site, a good foundation in general forgework is a great help if you want to get into bladesmithing. I have seen a group of bladesmiths sit and stare in utter fascination at the hammer control of a good blacksmith who was making a spatula. Hammer control is a requirement no matter what you're trying to do.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 10/28/04 13:08:37 EDT

MikeA; I'm still pondering your "J.C. Higgins" tool. Wasn't that the name that Sears, Roebuck & Company used on their sporting goods line ?
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 10/28/04 13:16:07 EDT

J.C. Higgins: 3dogs, you are right. I have a J.C. Higgins shotgun. . . When I saw the post I was thinking about J.C. Whitworth(less) the discount catalog autoparts, junk and tools guys. .

Still do not understand what that tool is. Far from a valuable antique but might be a curiosity worth something to someone.

If it has double chisel edges then it is a welders chipping hammer OR similarly a millwrights stone cutting hammer (they are very similar though centuries apart in technologies). If the edges are carefully radiused then it is probably some type of body or sheetmetal tool.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 13:42:01 EDT

Mo' JC Higgins;After doing a bit of Googling, I find that there is a large construction contractor by that name that has been around for over 80 years. On large construction sites, many contractors will brand their tools, or even buy them with their name already stamped on them. This practice seems to have died out, since nowadays the handtools are considered to be expendable, and those that aren't carried out by the tradesmen are scrapped right along with the rest of the jobsite junk. Having been a Millwright contractor, I've been at the scrapyards when the dumptrucks come in from the construction sites. WHOOHOO! Talk about a good day to be a packrat!!
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 10/28/04 13:42:08 EDT

Wood Furnace: Jeremy, This is not a possible conversion for many reasons.

As I mentioned a few days ago in response to a bellows question, if you start with Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing then thousands of your basic questions will be answered. See our Getting Started article for suggested reading as well as forge ideas.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 13:48:08 EDT

Jock; I think you are referring to J.C Whitney, from Chicago. If you walked around the corner, and went in the other door, it was Warshawsky's. If I'm not mistaken, Whitworth is the British screwthread system that was such a pain in the a$$ to yank bikers who insisted on buying BSA's and Triumphs in the 50's.
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 10/28/04 13:51:45 EDT

I am having trouble with my new bruner. It is in't able to maintane a very powerfull flame outside of the forge. And the flame outside of the forge is really inconsistant. It fluctuates from having a desent flame to a reall bad flame than back to a good flame and back and again. Sometimes another small flame is produced inside the bell about an inch from the jet tip. even if the burner is in the forge, it cant reach welding feat on a piece if 1/4 inch bar stock. The burner itself is made of a 12 inch 3/4 pipe nipple with a 2.5 inch reducer bell. The jet tip is a 1/8 inch plug mounted on an 1/8 inch tee. 1/8 nipples extend from the other ends of the tee.There is a cap in one nipple and the other end goes to the propane tank. It is then mounted with brackets onto the bell.
|____|_ _|____| --- to Propane
\ |__| ---/------ #60 jet tip
\ /
\ /
\ /

   - Bjorn - Thursday, 10/28/04 13:51:49 EDT

sorry the "picture" of the bell messed up
   - Bjorn - Thursday, 10/28/04 13:52:32 EDT

Scale in forging. In an industrial forge shop, forging in upsetters and presses, scale produced is more than one might assume. Much of the scale these days is produced in induction heaters, and the heat rate is such that scale is maybe 1/10 that of a gas forge. Even so, with daily cleaning, the scale builds up on the floor etc. Most of the scale is pretty tight, and is removed in shot blast processes. In a theororetical shop producing say 50,000,000 # of forgings a year, or about 4,100,000# per month, with only about a third of that weight heated, and maybe 20% heat treated, the scale and dust recovered from the blasters might run 60,000# or 1.4%. This would be in a completly induction heated forgeing environment, but totally gas heat treat. I would guess that the actual rate of scaleing is in the .5 to .8% of the heated poundage. Some of the dust is from good parent metal, some from the fractured shot and the gas furnaces produce scale at a rate I would guess is 10 to 20 times as bad as the induction process.
In the old, large hammer shop, with many steam hammers, the floors were dirt and scale, and it was very hard to judge the scale rate. The shot blasters produced dust at a very large rate. I did not track that stuff in that job, just remember the hoppers full!
   ptree - Thursday, 10/28/04 14:11:57 EDT

Mike the areas being hammered will not show much grain growth as the hammering---deformation workes to reduce grain size. However the areas *not* being hammered can exhibit grain growth. The ammount of hammering is a factor too, why many sources suggest you start out at higher heats and gradually go toward lower heats as you get closer to final size.

Now all this becomes moot if you have a pattern welded blade that requires a high heat during hammering to prevent weld shear. Some alloys don't move under the hammer as well as others and so if you put them together and start pounding the weld zone gets stressed.

As for you question on what temperature---the answer is the temperature that those alloys "like" to be forged at. look up the alloys in a book and compare their forging temps and then *test* them at the forge to see how they react---or to say it another way: "Practice Practice Practice"!

Many "modern" steels can have grain growth dealt with through heat treat, several full normalizations can bring the grain size way down. *Old* simple steels suffered more from grain growth, so if you read the old books or books written by folks trained by the oldsters you may see a lot of stuff that isn't as applicable to modern steels. (Tell an "old" smith that you draw temper on a steel at a low red and they will laugh at you! But it's the right temp for some high alloy steels!)

Scale loss---I think he was referring to doing pattern welding where with the multiple welding passes you do lose an appreciable ammout of the piece to scaling and "splatter".

Fionnbharr---if you took that 1" sq stock to Clifton and asked him to draw it out would he use a cross or diagonal pein hammer???? I think not...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/28/04 14:19:40 EDT


Odds are that your gas orifice is not lined up exactly down the center of the bruner tube, thus reducing its effectiveness at creating a venturi effect. It amy also not be located at the optimum place with regard to the venturi.

For a rule of thumb, about 1-1/2 times the diameter of the burner tube is a good distance back for the jet tip. Around 1 to 1-1/8 inch in your case. You can check the centering of your gas jet by hookingit up to water instead of gas, as observing that the stream goes down the center of the tube. Adjust as necessary.

If you have a choke on the air intake, you may want to experiment with adjustment. If you don't have a choke, you probably should add one with that large an intake bell.

Are you using a flare on the end of the burner? If not, you will have a very hard time getting a stable flame in open air, and also in the forge when it is not yet up to heat. The flare can be a piece of pipe that will slip over the 3/4" burner tube and be about 1-1/2" long. The step where it gets bigger creates an eddy, slowing down the gas stream and giving it a place to burn in a stable fashion, without the incoming fuel/air mixture blowing it out.

You'll never be able to do those typography pictures on this forum due to formatting and disabling of HTML. If you want to post a picture, go to the anvilfire users's gallery and post it as a jpeg.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/28/04 14:25:17 EDT

where do you find the users gallery?
   - Bjorn - Thursday, 10/28/04 14:34:45 EDT

Cast Steel was a revolutionary idea in Europe. Previously blister and shear steel was made using wrought iron as the starting point and doing a sort of case hardening on steroids to it, (think of 1 ton of wrought iron rods in a stone "case" of carbon compounds heated to red for a week to 10 days---and sometimes this was repeated! this produced blister steel that could then be stacked and welded producing shear steel)

Anyway in the mid 1700's a fellow got the bright idea of taking blister steel and *melting it*! This resulted in an even carbon content and the loss of the ferrous silicates making a uniform clean steel.

It was difficult to produce because of the need for high temp refractories and expensive cause you started with blister steel and then put more heat in it; but it was the hottest thing on the block for edged tools and for other things---like armour plate that the nations were having fun with in the 1800's.

There was even a sort of competition for bragging rights on who could do the largest ingot of cast steel. ("The Arms of Krup" describes one exhibition where they had an enormous ingot and someone challenged them that it was really cast iron so he chiseled a piece off and forged it---as we all know cast iron doesn't hot forge...)

So tools made with this "wonder metal' were stamped "cast steel", often "warrented cast steel". This went on through the 19th century but died off fairly fast in the 20th century save for some companies in sheffield that steeled "teemed" their steel decades after everyone else went over to the Bessemer/Kelly, Open Hearth, BOF, etc methods and tinkered with the content in the ladle.

I generally assume that any "cast steel" tool is pre WWI and most likely pre 1900. They may even be pre ACW depending on the maker though items back them were generally WI and then steeled for the edges over on *this* side of the pond.

So If I was making a 1830's american frontier knife I would go with shear steel, but use cast steel for ACW stuff. Over in England I would probably use either dependent on what "class level" the piece was.

Any Brits that can tell us how it worked out over there over time?

BTW "Steel Before Bessemer, Vol I Blister Steel, Vol II Crucible Steel" has a lot of details on this but is anglo centric.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/28/04 14:34:59 EDT

I am working now with 1050c steel and I was wondering if this steel has to be held longer at critical to allow complete austentization than the higher carbon content steels I have been using?And if so how long approx.I know that if I hold it to long I will get larger grain growth at least I think I know that.
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 10/28/04 14:52:13 EDT

How can I make a flare for a 3/4 inch burner with basic tools " no lathes of milling machines". I have a drill press gringer "bench and air" that I can use.
   - Bjorn - Thursday, 10/28/04 15:21:24 EDT

3dogs you are right, it's the Chicago one (as the hammer head says Chicago on the side as well). It was advertised on Ebay as a mason's or stoneworking hammer, the fellow didn't seem to know exactly what it's original use was. I looked closely, I can find no evidence of a differential face. I do know that many masonry hammers get used for sheet metal because the shapes of the hammers cross over. I noticed in a shop picture in Technique's of Medieval Armour Reproduction the exact hammer is on his wall too. So I'll redress the face, polish it and put'er to work. Thanks for the input.
   MikeA - Thursday, 10/28/04 15:32:24 EDT

JC Whitney, JC Worthless. . . pretty much the same to me. Yeah got Whitworth out of it and didn't sound right. Also have a drawer full of BS and BSW wrenches and sockets from my British Car mechanic days PLUS the wrench set from a friend's defunct BSA 650.

Turns out there was only 3 or 4 BSW fits on late MG's. The crank shaft nut, the oil line pressure regulator plug and the hydraulic shock fill plugs. Now early MG's were a different breed. I worked on one MG-TD engine that had English, Metric and Whitworth ALL on the rocker arm assembly. . .

Many hydraulic fittings still use BSW to get the odd size or oversized flange out of a hex.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 15:49:07 EDT

Farrier’s Anvils:

Thanks to Frank and Jock for helping me increase my understanding of “why things are”. I will never be a farrier (my friends and I being more likely to eat a horse than shoe one, ‘cept for Drey the Dreadful Norman and Barchan, the “oldest active jouster in the U.S.”) but I’m fascinated by the reasons behind the evolution. One of the trends that I constantly see is the role of “fashion” in culture and industry. Things and designs are adopted and adapted to their logical extremes because “so-and-so the famous farrier” does it or because it just looks “neat.” This also makes me appreciate my “blunt, heavy” 100 k USSR anvil that rings like a lead bell (sorry Jock ;-). All of the weight is concentrated under most of the face. I remember seeing a Big Tex anvil in my ’82 Centaur Forge catalog. It looked really cool then, but it was an extreme stretched out farriers anvil that must have rung like a full carillon at the National Cathedral.

Drawing Out: One of my favorite hammers is a beat-up old 19th century hammer where the face has mushroomed to a gentle curve when viewed from the vertical plane. (Actually, I think it was left out of the Mastermyr chest before it was dropped through the ice. ;-) I ground off the edges, but left the face radiused and it’s perfect for drawing out, especially when matched to a similar radiused point over the anvil horn. I’ll also note, for a skinny whimp like me that “heavy” blacksmithing starts at anything over 1” (2 mm) square. After that I really need a helper or a power hammer.

The Scale of Scale:

One of the books I was reading on a late medieval forge complex mentioned that they sent the scale back to the smelter for recycling. Waste not; want not!

I’ve always been amused by the 1% calculation for scale- it seems like an example of diminishing returns. If you start out with a kilo bar, and you loose 1% on each heat, it doesn’t consume the bar if you run 100 heats- its sort of a gentle curved when charted. So if you loose 1% each time, by the 100th heat you have about 370 grams left. On the other claw, as the bar shrinks you expose, proportionately more exterior surface to interior volume, which would increase scaling. So… somebody will just have to heat a bar to scaling 100 times and let us know what’s left! (Not me, I have enough of a backlog already. One of those metallurgist folks can try it!) Now carburization is something else altogether, but others have explained it far better than I.

Practical Pattern Welding:

Pattern welding was another means to an end when using a mixed production of various grades of iron and steel. Good thing- nice decorative patterns and a useful “plywood” effect. Bad thing- Tremendous amount of labor. As Thomas suggests, there are historical example of pattern welding wrapped about a (moderately) high carbon core/cutting edge; and Mora in Sweden was making knives with a high carbon core slabbed between wrought iron sides into the 1970s. As soon as good steel becomes accessible in large quantities (possibly because the Catalan furnace was spreading through Europe and blooms were 100-150 pounds instead of 15 pounds) pattern welding fades into the background, and pretty much disappears for several centuries in the Western Europe (with some later revivals, but for the looks).
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/28/04 16:01:58 EDT

Burner Flare: The easiest thing is to buy one. . . I've made a few and the SS pipe did NOT want to expand even at a yellow heat. I think we had too much friction on the tapered punch. . .

The easy way is to take a 1" or 1-1/4" NPT pipe and saw a V out of it with a hack saw. Then close the V. You want to take about 1/4" to 3/8" out. IF you have access to a welded then weld it up.

Another way is to make the flare from refractory. Make a wood or cardboard pattern and mold the refractory around it. If you start with the pipe you can make a flare "skirt" from card stock and then mold the refractory around the cardboard and the pipe. Then remove the pipe. When in use the pipe should stop a short distance from the beginning of the flare. The refractory can be castable or bits of Kaowool soaked with ITC-100. The cardboard can be burned out when the refractory is cured.

Without seeing your burner CLOSE it is hard to tell what the problem is. There is also the question of the ratio of the burner size to the forge enclosure size.

1) Pipe burners without flares work VERY poorly outside of a forge. They need the forge back pressure and the hole the burner goes in to help "hold" the flame. In the forge they sometimes take a while for the forge to get hot before they run smoothly. Erratic behaviour can be from moist refractory giving off steam or a missalighned jet as noted.

2) The bell you have sounds too big. If 2.5" is the PIPE size then it is way too large. IF 2.5" is the physical size then it may be about right. If the reducer is hemispherical compared to funnel shape it may not work well. See our FAQ's page gas forge burner photos for correct sizing and shape.

3) The burner sounds too long. I usualy use 9" or 3/4" pipe.

4) If you drilled the orifice then you need to be sure the bore is smooth and that the inlet has a good large chamfer and is burr free.

I've built burners that worked the first time and had others that never worked quite right. The one on our FAQs page has worked every time with and without a flare. But it did not work going through an elbow.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 16:34:29 EDT

More about flares: I forgot to note that the flame holding ability of the flare has been found NOT to be the taper of the flare but the fit of the flare over the burner tube creating a step. In this step there is a reing of turbulance at the same point that the flow slows down due to the increase in volume of the expanding and slowing fuel/air mix.

SO. . . you get VERY nearly the same effect by simply slipping a slip fit piece of tubing over the burner tube. AND you get the same effect when the burner tube is fitted into a hole in the refractory.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 16:53:36 EDT

PayPal: For those of you that are pro PayPal I want you to know that despite my preferences being set to NO mailings and their privacy policy stating that they will not sell my name to a third party they did both. Well, maybe not. . . THEY GAVE my name to Providian financial services. . . . so I guess they kept their word not to SELL my name. Now I am getting SPAM from both and the PayPal system will not remove me because my return address is not the same as my registered address. . . No, these are not spoofs, they are the real thing.

All be solved when I give up my current email addresses.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/04 17:18:29 EDT

Dear Guru,
I'm looking for plans for a simple and compact roller bender to bend half inch bar stock. I may be useing the wrong name for what I am looking for again but I want to use it for making long even curves and large hoops. I have been tinkering with a design of my own but I would like to see how a more experienced metal worker constructed theirs.
   Will - Thursday, 10/28/04 17:46:31 EDT

I can't seem to find out what really happened to ol' Cracked. I always suspected you used that name as a pen name. I thought at another time that he moved to Costa Rica. Anyway, if you ever see him, let him know that I miss his Crack-eyed sense of humor. I hope he's well and continues to mount up scrap.
   lsundstrom - Thursday, 10/28/04 18:07:44 EDT

I picked up some 4140 stock recently. Would this be acceptable to use as the female for a roping stake? Roping being rolling the edge of a piece of sheet, then adding diagonal grooves that make it look like rope. This can be done a bunch of ways but one of the nicest is to grind a male part in tool steel and then hammer it into another, heated piece of steel, then use the second piece as a stake head. Anyway, would 4140 be acceptable for the female part? Also, would be be hard enough to use as a hardy cutter? Thanks.
   MikeA - Thursday, 10/28/04 18:31:37 EDT

thanks a lot for all the help, looks like i have quite a bit of reading ahead of me, between the knifenetwork forum and Iforgeiron, i think i just might be ok.

till the next confusing issue

   adimeshort - Thursday, 10/28/04 18:40:03 EDT

I don't know what happened to you, but I got a paypal account two weeks ago and have not gotten spammed by them.

Rolling mills:
When a rolling mill is used for steel, are the rollers preheated? I was using a jeweler's rolling mill for some drawing out and noticed that I had to MOVE MOVE MOVE if I wanted to get all the way down the workpiece before it got "frozen" by the rolls acting as a heat sink. I will not preheat the rolls on this machine because they are already hardened and tempered (and no, they didn't even get above boiling while I was using them), but I was wondering about this for future rolling mills I may use. Or, are the rollers made of pipe or something similar with a low thermal mass?

The sun is blazing in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 10/28/04 19:29:36 EDT

1050 Steel: Steel with a carbon content of between .50 and about .90 can be austenitized at non-magnetic. The actual eutectoid composition (the carbon content where it will change completely to austenite at 1333F) is closer to .70 . Holding a bit at temperature will allow the carbides to dissolve and improve the hardness a bit. You can also normalize it 2-3 times to get the carbides dissolved and spread out and not hold it at temperature for the final quench. Most mild steels today are fully killed and the Aluminum will prevent grain growth up to about 1700F or so.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/28/04 19:33:21 EDT

Adam, would you please send me the name of the gynecologist with more money than taste? I have a box full of my early work he might be interested in....
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/28/04 19:51:08 EDT

Will- as far as I know, there aint no such beast as a simple cheap tool that will roll 1/2" stock.
1/2" stock meaning 1/2" round, or 1/2" square, or 1/2" x 4" flat bar?
There are a few hand rolls on the market that are designed for flat bar, going up to a maximum of 1/4" thick by 2" wide.
Google "shop Outfitters", "boss bender" and "R&D Hydraulics" to see three. Maybe one of these could be modified or copied to do what you want. But the friction involved in 1/2" round or square is such that most 3 roll benders for this size material are not only motorised, but they use knurled rollers as well to grip the material.
Check out "eagle bending machines" for the motorised ones.
Another alternative, however, which I know I am ceaselessly recomending, but here I go again- a real Hossfeld bender. Not a chinese copy, which is worthless, but a real, made in america Hossfeld. With fixed radius dies, which are available from 3" to 36" radius, you can make repeatable, accurate circles or arcs in all kinds of shapes- square, round, flat, flat bar the hard way, angle, square tube, and more. Plus, you can use the hossfeld for 1001 other things as well. I used to make a line of furniture, where we made 16" diameter circles from 1/2" round, with a hossfeld, and it would take less than a minute per circle. I also bent some 1 1/2" square tubing into 20' radius curves for the roof of my carport with this same setup- so it is very versatile. A hossfeld set up to do this kind of bending will probably run you about 1500 bucks, with a wide variety of dies- but it will last forever- mine is over 25 years old now, with literally hundreds of thousands of bends behind it.
   - Ries - Thursday, 10/28/04 20:22:24 EDT

While we're on the subject, what's the thickest round bar that a Hossfeld can cope with?

And how much $$ to ship to the UK? :(
   Bob G - Thursday, 10/28/04 21:41:37 EDT

Not me. I am but a fan. However, it's a matter of historical fact: Cracked Anvil succeeded at last in building himself a time machine that actually worked. He and his entire Cracked Anvil Center for Analysis staff, managing director Chastity Dangerfield, interne Yummi DeLisch, and henchperson Swarf hang out in the old Dizzy Club on Holabird Avenue in Dundalk, Maryland in what for their dimension is 1955. Somehow by means known only to himself, Cracked keeps up on our news. Talk about a time warp! Or, more like it, a warped time!
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/28/04 23:44:58 EDT

T. Gold - can't comment about how people run the small rolling mills, some may do some preheat. However, in the steel mills they aren't preheated, in fact they usually have a constant flow of water or coolant over them to keep roll temperature down. If you're running lots of pieces on a continuous basis that are 2200 degrees F or hotter, then you need coolant to keep the rolls at a decent temperature and ensure as long a life as possible before the roll surface deteriorates and they need to be removed and have the surface remachined.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 10/29/04 01:30:25 EDT

RECYCLED SCALE: Cap'n Atli; Looks like there really is nothing new under the sun. About 10 years ago the owners of the mill where I work brought in an outside company to set up and operate a slag and scale processing facility. They're still there, so I'm assuming that a.) they are effective, or, b.)they give good kickbacks. (Hey, it's Detroit, what can I say?) We operate a large, old (1928) modular mill with blast furnace, BOF, continuous caster, slab mill, hot strip, pickling line, a 4 stand tandem mill and annealing facilities, including hydrogen annealers. No scale shortage there.
   - 3dogs - Friday, 10/29/04 03:24:54 EDT

Thomas, thanks a bunch for the Cast Steel info. My friend will be pleased to know it. I'll pass it along. Of course, now I'll have to go over there and look at each tool and inspect for any other markings and make notes on each and research each one I find and... Curiosity can be a nightmare.
   Gronk - Friday, 10/29/04 11:47:01 EDT

3dogs; "We operate a large, old (1928) modular mill with blast furnace, BOF, continuous caster, slab mill, hot strip, pickling line, a 4 stand tandem mill and annealing facilities, including hydrogen annealers"

I love it when you talk dirty! Bet there is a nice old smithy set up somewhere there too. The steel casting co in my old town had a lovely steam hammer, large forge, heap of tongs and a couple of large anvils hidden away in one of the "out buildings" course it had a switching engine in it too and we didn't notice it for a while---*big* place...

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/29/04 11:47:42 EDT

Pay Pal: Tried to cancel my account. They wanted my credit card number to CLOSE THE ACOUNT! Finaly sorted out that I didn't need it if I REMOVED the number from the account (using the same system) THEN closing the account. But then the system was convieniently down for "maintenance". This is a very common occurance after a spamming campaign. Account access is shut down so that mad clients cannot close their account. I have run into this several times with supposedly "respectable" businesses.

TG, Your account is new, mine is several years old. PayPal was trying to sell me a credit card AND gave Providian my email address despite the PayPal/eBay privacy policy.
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/04 11:49:41 EDT

Guru and others,

Just curious about what you are paying for coal in your areas. I am paying 25$ a 1/4 ton for general purpose stuff.


   junkyardblacksmith - Friday, 10/29/04 12:11:13 EDT

I am trying to chase down some information about antique steels as they relate to tools. In discussions on woodworking boards about chisels, I keep running into the contention by experienced folks that the edge taking and holding qualities of "cast steels" in old Swan and Witherby steels is far superior to that of modern steels such as A2. They also claim these old chisels take a finer edge and hold it longer than modern Japanese laminated chisels.

Further, aficionados of japanese laminated chisels contend that chisels made in the era before WWI old are far at taking and holding an edge to modern chisels. They also feel that modern Japanese chisels are superior to chisels made from A2 and other tool steels. Note that modern Japanese chisels are made from either Hitachi "White Lable" and "Blue Lable" steels, which are apparently formulated to mimic ancient "iron sand" steels.

Can you offer any enlightment as to why "old" chisels are apparantly superior in edge quality and holding than "new"? I have a hard time believing it could be a factor of composition or heat treat considering the amount of money put into researching those subjects in the last 80 years. Any speculations on your part appreciated...
   jg - Friday, 10/29/04 12:35:25 EDT

Roll bender and Rolling Mills The better roll benders like my old Champion tire bender, and my sheet metal slip rolls have two driven rolls. This requires gears to link the rolls. The reason so driving two rolls is the limited driving force you can apply through one. However, there are a bunch of small rolls made with the center roll having both the arc adjustment and doing the driving (usualy hand crank). I have also seen small bar rolls with one drive wheel.

My Champion tire bender has 2.5" rolls connected by gears and has about 4:1 reduction to an 18" long hand crank. In multiple passes it will roll 3/4" square without a lot of effort. However, we trashed one of the rolls bending 3/4" x 1-1/2" channel with the edges out. The edges cut into the cast iron tire and split it. So we had to make a steel roll to replace the higher friction CI.

Small hand crank rolls will bend 1/2" square OK. But for round you need grooves cut in the rolls.

Unless you are making lots of full rings it is easy to make bending jigs like we show in our bender article on our 21st Century page.

Roll Temperature: As Gavainh said, normally rolls are cooled by dripping or spraying water on them. All rolls are solid except for those with a hollow center bore (relatively small) for running MORE coolant through.

For most jewelery work those little hand mills are designed to be used with cold annealed metal. You do not take big bites, you make many passes, then anneal.

For small hot work as you noticed you need to MOVE, MOVE, MOVE. . . The best way to do this is with a motor. The other if starting with a long piece is with a furnace in line to the rolls where the stock is heated continously.

If you look at the McDonald Mill plan review you will notice that the machine runs at 14 feet per minute. This is pretty fast for a hand held billet but is slow by steel rolling mill standards. Big mills run in the neighborhood of 50 to 200 feet per minute or more. Hand fed rolls run at the slow end and fully automated mills the high end.
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/04 12:37:12 EDT

4140 for tools: Works fine for cold work tools if you heat treat it.
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/04 12:40:07 EDT

3 dogs, et al, The company I'm working for has a plant that's been in the scale recycling business since 1940 in Niagara Falls, NY. They take selected scale, (straight carbon and very low alloy), blend it, size it by milling it in a ball mill, then reduce it at about 1750F in a hydrogen atmosphere to produce a porous "sponge iron" powder. End uses include brake pads and food enrichment (very fine particle size < 45 microns). We produce millions of pounds of powder a year in that plant, all of it currently originating from mill scale.

jg, regarding the superiority of old tools, a couple of thoughts come to mind. 1. For surviving older tools, we're looking at the cream of the crop - the underlying poorer quality ones have all been scrapped, remelted, or whatever. We're comparing that top 1 % to the run of the mill tools being produced today. I've never seen anyone compare the best of the old tools to the very best (i.e. most expensive) of the tools made today. In fact, I've never really seen a comparison of the old tools to standard varieties made today. (I've heard a lot of people say things were better, but no good hard data to prove it.) 2. A lot of tools (chisels included) have been modified to bring the production and selling price down to produce a usable home owner level tool. For example, old sockets used to be forged from alloy steel (4140 at the 1 plant I visited), quenched and tempered producing a superior tool. New home owner grades in the 1980's were being made by cold heading out of less expensive steel - lots less expensive but not nearly as durable. 3. I think part of it's the "romance" of old tools, though some of it might also be a better understanding/appreciation of what the end user needs to do the job correctly from the makers of those tools.

4. In general, I refuse to believe that steel made today isn't cleaner and has the chemical content more controlled than even 30 years ago, let alone 100. Also, process temperature control has become much more capable in the same time frame. To me, this means if we understand the application well enough, we should be able to produce a superior tool today. Whether anyone would buy it instead of a Walmart toll is another question. (Yes, I know there is a market for premium tools supplied by companies such as Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, Garret Wade etc., but it's limited and aimed at high end hobbyists for a large part.)
   - Gavainh - Friday, 10/29/04 13:04:34 EDT

Old Steels: I have found that plain carbon steels with lower carbon content than modern tool steels (over 1% carbon) take and hold a fine edge better than high carbon (over 1%) and alloy steels.

The difference in my opinion is not so much in the hardness but that older tools LACKED hardness which made them much easier to sharpen. High hardness steels are difficult to sharpen and the high alloy steels are just plain abrasion resistant which makes them much harder to sharpen.

A2 is a great die maker's steel but it is not a particularly good blade steel. It is an air hardening steel that tempers in the low red range. It is almost impossible to hurt while grinding (due to heat) but it doesn't stone worth a darn.

What the very high carbon and alloy steels have is heat resistance. They can be factory sharpened with high speed grinding equipment that would wreck the edge of lower carbon steels.

Given the same carbon content the new steels are probably better than the old steels (see Gavainh's post above). The HUGE variable is the heat treatment and the exact temper applied to those steels.

That said. . . Many years ago when I shaved regularly I used the fancy stainless blades and they lasted for a month or so. . . But my stainless Buck knife (from the same era) doesn't hold an edge even when it is used for nothing but slicing cheese. But it is abrasion resistant enough that it is very difficult to sharpen. The difference? The Schick razor blade people REALLY knew how to harden and temper a piece of steel to get the absolute best performance . . .

On edge holdiing on wood working blades. . . I made a couple sets of gouges from 1960's British car springs, no telling what steel. We oil quenched and tempered by heating until the oil burned off. Very low angle edges were ground and finished on a water stone then hand stoned. In heavy use over the years these chisles seemed to get sharper and sharper without sharpening. I made two sets, one for myself and one for my brother. His were used much more heavily than mine carving walnut and cherry. Mine were used on walnut and maple. Both have held up the same.

I do not believe that I used an "optimal" steel or that my tool making technique was that great. I think I was lucky. But I also know these are not particularly hard blades.

So, the problem is probably that modern makers are over specifying the steel and then doing a poor job heat treating it.
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/04 13:21:19 EDT

Thanks for the info on S7 and your speculations on my Swedish anvil.
   Wendy Lawrence - Friday, 10/29/04 13:29:27 EDT

Guru, thanks for the answer. You've definitely given me a trail to go sniff down.

I read a lot about hardening through heat processes, but nothing at about work hardening as a conscious technique to change/improve the properties of a material. Why is that?
   jg - Friday, 10/29/04 15:23:39 EDT

Uncle Atli's Theory of Old Tools with Cutting Edges (Please note, this is NOT the ultimate answer, but may be part of the puzzle. I really like the "survival of the fittest" theory, which I've often seen in antique furniture.)

There is a long tradition of pocket knives and similar tools "improving with age." I suspect that a lot of this is the result of the sharpening process both re-shaping the cutting edge from the factory geometry to something more useable, and also grinding away areas of lower carbon resulting from decarburization in the manufacturing process.

The same especially goes for hand-forged blades and tools made by amateurs (like me). Getting things exactly right is a challenge, and decarburization is not that unusual. Sure, we grind it down, but how far down do we grind it?

I know my stainless steel bosn's knife (a Christmas gift from my wif over 30 years ago) holds a better edge, longer, than it did when I first got it.

Raining a tad on the banks of the lower Potomac. Cleaned up and picked up at the forge today, between farm and household chores. Put a brass and bronze tip on the sheath to my "cubit long" sax knife (made out of an old Indian tulwar) to keep from maiming any of the crew. I used some small copper brads from Taiwan as rivets; or at least the label said "copper" but when I snipped them to length to rivet them down, they were just copper coated. Harumph!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 10/29/04 16:32:38 EDT

ok guys im at my wit's end here. i need to know where do you buy your ajustable regulator cause all of the hardware stories and plumbing stories dont have any.the guy at the harddware store supjested that i get a B tank regulator is he corect? if not then what?also how much should i plan to spend? thanks for all your help
   - John S - Friday, 10/29/04 17:00:49 EDT

John S.
Check most any of the vendors who advertise on this forum. Most sell factory made forges,and supply regulators as well. I paid about $30.00 for mine a couple of years ago.
   ptree - Friday, 10/29/04 17:17:49 EDT

ig, that would be because work hardening is more of a non-ferrous technique, and we pretty well stick with ferrous metals here.
   Alan-L - Friday, 10/29/04 17:28:12 EDT

Regulator: our local propane dealer had them in stock---not a tank exchange; but the folks who refill the 250 gallon tanks.

On old steels: yes modern steels *can* be made much cleaner---the vacuum melt steels used in aircraft and space applications come to mind. However there used to be a lot of steel made that came directly from ore and so had only the tramp elements from that ore bed. Nowdays most "run of the mill" stuff seems to be re-melt and the number and type of tramp elements can be quite different. The research on wootz has shown us that ridiculously small ammounts of trace elements *can* make a difference in how an alloy reacts.

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/29/04 17:28:50 EDT

For most setups, a Hossfeld bender will bend up to 1 1/4" round, cold. Larger if you do it hot.
I have a built my share of special jigs and fixtures- in fact, there is a pile of about 800lbs of em under one of my worktables.
But the big advantage of a hossfeld bender is you dont have to build a jig. I can set up to bend a 12" circle in 1/2" round in about 30 seconds. Bend it, and switch over to a sharp right angle in 3/8" x 2" flat bar, in another 30 seconds. Switch over to pulling a gentle 12" radius bend in 1 1/2" schedule 40 pipe. Change dies, and make a handle for a spring swage out of 1/4" x 1 1/2" flat bar. And on, and on. And when I am done, I put the dies back on the rack- no steel, welding rod, or grinding discs consumed. No jig that I just cant bear to throw away, cause I might need it again someday, and til then I will keep barking my shins on it and move it 8 times.
Bob- email american bender, at www.americanbender, and get them to give you a quote on shipping a NO. 2 hossfeld clone to england- hard to say how much it would be- air freight is surprising- sometimes its a lot, sometimes its reasonable. But they break down pretty small, and on airplanes they charge you for "dimensional weight" which means bulky is the most expensive.
   - Ries - Friday, 10/29/04 17:32:11 EDT

Guru, do you know of any blacksmiths in Indianapolis, Indiana or just in Indiana
   Benjamin - Friday, 10/29/04 17:55:29 EDT

Regulators: They are not cheap but you can get a good regulator and gauge from your welding supplier to fit propane. There are also many folks selling regulators FOR propane forges that have found reasonably good but less expensive regulators at blacksmith gatherings. Also try our advertisers a Ptree noted.
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/04 18:09:27 EDT

   - guru - Friday, 10/29/04 18:11:59 EDT

Hossfeld Benders: These are handy tools for production cold bending but are another one of those tools that smiths buy and then they collect dust and rust for decades. .

First problem, the dies are extra. They make a large variety and they are not cheap. Second problem is that they take a LONG handle (up to 8 feet) to do heavy bending. That means a 16 foot (~5 meter) clear space. Third, that LONG lever does no good without the bender being anchored to something you cannot rip up with an eight foor lever. . . Just bolting a stand to the floor doesn't do it unless you use long heavy anchors. The usual mounting is to a large steel bench that is in turn bolted to the floor (unless you have a several ton weld platen).

I know dozens of smiths that have old Hossfelds without dies (myself included) that have never been used. I know others that have a couple dies and spent a lot of effort setting up the bender and rarely use it.

For less money and not requiring a lot of space or dies you can do an amazing amount of bending with a hydraulic press or a flypress. The 20 ton hydraulic press shown on our 21 century page will bend 1" square bar (25mm x 25mm) and make controled relatively tight 90° bends in 1/2" x 2" flat bar. It is also useful for punching with die sets. I've made hundreds of blanks with it in a few hours. In general it is a much more useful tool than a Hossfeld bender.

If you have a couple production jobs where you are going to make the same parts over and over then a Hossfeld is a useful tool. IF when you purchase it you can afford a complete set of dies THEN it may be useful in general use.

   - guru - Friday, 10/29/04 18:34:11 EDT

The Rural Smiths of Mid-America are active around Indianapolis, also.

Rural Smiths of Mid-America
Harry L. Williams, President
1238 South 300 West
Russiaville IN 46979
Phone: 317/453-6871

   - slattont - Friday, 10/29/04 18:53:27 EDT

I have a Hossfeld bender in my shop which I use all the time. Now I'm not primarily a blacksmith shop- I primarily make motorized devices and do fairly high end fabricating work. I also have a set of powered angle rolls, an enerpac conduit bender for which I've made custom fixtures, a twelve foot press brake, a leaf brake, an extemely large compound leverage arbor press, and a good size fly press. With all of those options the Hossfeld has not become an orphan. It really is quick to set up once you know what you want to do and while the dies may at first seem expensive they work just like they are advertised to do- first time, every time. Like Ries said once you understand the machine you can do amazing things with it. They do come with a set of standard tooling but that is mostly oriented to pipe work. Adding the bulldozer die and the inbend outbend set makes it much more versatile.
   SGensh - Friday, 10/29/04 20:29:07 EDT

Thomas, good point about tramp elements - they're definitely creeping into the ferrous supply chain as fewer "integrated shops" exist, and they're mostly for flat-rolled. Powder metallurgy plays a part in that, a lot of the alloys have up to 2% copper in them - they're good for the applications they're used for, but they're he** to recycle. We don't even want them to remelt to make iron powder - in fact for water atomized, we're skimming the cream of the scrap stream, paying for it too.

Having gone over to a "darker side" (I'm a QA engineer in a PM plant), I've got some misgivings about the industry it's built in part on using prime low residual element scrap and does'nt generate the same, (my hearts in traditional metallurgy, forgings, etc.) but PM seems to keep growing much faster than the standard stuff. That said, because I'm in PM I haven't kept close track of bar producer's in the US, but the impression I have is that all of them are over to an electric arc furnace/scrap method of production. (Quenchcrack is welcome to make corrections if he's more up to date than I am.) Heck, even a lot of the flat roll producers making plain carbon and galvanized steels have gone that route. The most recent I heard was that Wheeling Pittsburgh's Steubenville, Ohio plant was going to EAF & scrap from the blast furnace/BOF route. If memory/history is correct at one time they were built and operated by Andrew Carnegie. LOL how the might have fallen.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 10/29/04 21:04:03 EDT

What would be a good way to sell simple things "hooks, door nockers, letter openers, fire place tools" form home?
   - Bjorn - Friday, 10/29/04 21:29:40 EDT

THOMAS; Yes, they DID have a forging facility in the blast furnace maintenance department. They shut it down when the last smith retired. They let him take the anvil when he left. I, however, got the Nazel 3B. (heh heh heh) It doesn't hurt a bit to make a few BBQ tools fer well placed folk now and then.
   3dogs - Saturday, 10/30/04 01:59:55 EDT

Nathan A.K.A. junkyardblacksmith,
I am getting my smithing coal for $250 / 2400lb pallet. This is bagged... 60 - 40lb bags.
   Harley - Saturday, 10/30/04 06:46:40 EDT

Residual build up in steels: I believe Ganvainh is correct in his analysis regarding the increase in residual elements. There are still some blast furnaces in operation that produce essentially pure iron but the electric arc furnace is more efficient to operate under normal scrap supply conditions. The last year has seen China buying up HUGE amounts of scrap and coke to feed their domestic steel industry and this is the reason domestic steel prices have jumped. However, the high prices have been a real boon to the domestic steel industry and to capitalize on the market, they are producing as much steel as possible. This means they are taking short cuts. Casters are run faster than appropriate and surface quality suffers. Steel is not being stirred under slag as long as it should to trap the non-metallics so the steel is dirtier. China is slowing down its purchases so the industry should go back to a more normal production soon. BTW, Gavainh, I am the Quality Manager for my company, too.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/30/04 08:55:54 EDT

Just re-upped my CSI membership yesterday. If you are not already a member, why not?
   Brian C - Saturday, 10/30/04 09:02:05 EDT

The plant I work in now had a blacksmiths shop, and when he retired, they let him have the anvil too. The Erie air hammer sat for years, and was given away a couple of years prior to my starting there:(
   ptree - Saturday, 10/30/04 09:03:20 EDT

I ahve recently acquired a Champion Forge and Blower No. 200 Drill press. I was wondering if anyone cann forward me a photo of the No. 200 . I was wondering waht color it was originally. I have to smaller Post Drill Presses , but I not unloaded the No. 200 due to size, but was wondering if anyone knows the workings of the No. 200. Any info would be appreciated! Please feel free to email at lancaster8727@bellsouth.net, Thanks for any help !

Bobby Lancaster
   Bobby Lancaster - Saturday, 10/30/04 09:43:11 EDT

Taking home the Anvil: This must be fairly common as I have seen a number of old industrial shops where everything was in place EXCEPT the anvil and small hammers and tongs.

I bought out one such shop that had a 50 pound Little Giant, big Buffalo Forge, 4 foot cone mandrel, 18x18 swage block, electric heat treat furnace, stainless water quench tank, tank of quenching oil, a tool rack, heavy 16ga (shop built) work cabinett/locker and dozens of anvil set tools that had been hidden in the back of a big wooden cabinett. There was also a 36" bar fold that didn't belong in the shop.

The only thing I didn't take home was the quenching oil (a witches brew from the 1940's that probably had PCB's) and the wooden cabinett which was bigger than my pickup truck.

The only thing the shop was missing was anvil, hand hammers and tongs. Literature lying around indicated that the smith had been the top Union guy for the plant. This was a huge celophane plant built in the 1920's that had its own coal fired boilers to make electricity and a teo acre machine shop to make the special rolls for the plant.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/30/04 11:14:32 EDT

ok, first off i must say that that "The Metallurgy of Heat Treating for Blacksmiths" by QUENCHCRACK really helped. Thanks for the recomendation. This literature makes the subject soooo much easier to understand!
   adimeshort - Saturday, 10/30/04 12:03:40 EDT

building your own anvil.

I've decided that i want to make my own "japanese" style anvil for when i go up camping and build a "ground forge".
it will just be a brick with no horn or pad.

i'm planning on a smaller, more easily transportable one in the range of around 80 lbs.

I've decided not to use toxic waste, or concrete.

what type of metal would you guys recommend i build one out of? I'm guessing that i could just stack 1/4" or larger plates on top of one another, then weld along the edge and grind? or is there another recommended way?

Would a mild "home depot grade" steel work if i put a toolsteel plate on top. and when i put the tool steel on top, i would end up normalizing the edges during the weld, would i heat treat with a large rose bud? would that cause problems with the weld?


also, i'm debating whether or not to have a professional weld the peice together (would this be recommended?).... But would that produce an ok anvil having mild steel stacked with say 1/4" toolsteel top plate?
   adimeshort - Saturday, 10/30/04 12:14:16 EDT

A burnout from a fab shop, of say 4" 6" x 12" would be about 80#, and would be solid. Tool steel is not required if you are working hot iron, and hit what you aim at. another possibility is a round bar. If you figure the volume of any chunk of steel and multiply by .283 you will get a good weight estimate.
   ptree - Saturday, 10/30/04 12:43:40 EDT

A matter of Scale:

In our shop all heating is done with gas. Our forge shop routinely figures in 3% of the total weight lost to scale. So if they are makeing a 10,000 pound forging, they cut and heat at least 10,300 lbs. Keep in mind that we may heat billets or ingots for well over 24 hrs depending on the grade. For smaller forgings with lower heating time, like knives, scale is not an issue. It could be if you were trying to duplicate an existing finished piece. For example, forging a repair or replacement part for an antique grill. Or if you made a prototype and really liked it, you would need to figure in a scale allowance to make exact copies. This is not an issue most of us are concerned about, but I have a good friend who is a professional ornamental smith and he is meticulos in his record keeping. He is concerned with scale loss because he does often need to make several pieces based on a prototype.

By the way, I will be pouring concrete on Monday for my Bradley hammer foundation. Yeah !!

   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 10/30/04 13:08:37 EDT

Selling Work: Bjorn, This is a tough question. It is like asking "How do I start a manufacturing business?". Have you ever have a lemonaid stand?

First, your customers are unlikely to come to you unless you advertise and have a place to sell from. This usualy means being in a commercial district where you are allowed to advertise as a place of business. Many residential neighborhoods restrict business activity AND do not have the necessary traffic.

Your best bet is to take samples of your products to local shops that sell high end gifts and crafts or to garden shops. You will need to have set prices that you can afford to take 50% of when selling wholesale. You also need some inventory. If you are lucky enough to find someone that will buy from you they will expect prompt delivery. Most shops will also expect you to provide a display for your wares. Shops will often offer "consignment" deals. This is usualy a bad deal. You end up financing the shop and often you never get paid for small items that walk off or are not accurately kept track of.

Many folks sell their work through the web but that requires a whole different set of skills and unless you are very good at web promotion your web site will just be one more grain of sand on the information highway. It can take years for your site to be found and unlike just a few years ago you now have thousands of competitors globaly. Of course then there is eBay. . .

Another method of sales is to wholesale to other blacksmiths. Find a product that you can make efficiently that sells well and offer it in quantity to the trade. Many smiths have more demand for hooks and nails than they car to make. Even things like shepard'c crook plant hangers are often made in high production by one smith for another to sell.

Making money on little stuff is tough. You have to be very fast and efficient AND be willing to do boring work. About once a year I get a request for hand made nails in quantity. However, as soon as the potential customer finds that by the hundreds they will be $1 each and still $0.50 each by the thousand they rarely reply. They are expecting something like $0.10 each which means that IF you could produce 1000 good nails a day you would only gross $100/day. Subtract fuel, steel and overhead from that and you are working for minimum wage or less ASSUMING you put in a non-stop 10 hour day. There ARE a few customers that know the value of a hand forged nail and will pay for them. However, these clients need them by the tens of thousands AND in standard recognizable styles.

It IS possible to make 1000 nails a day as stated in many books on the industry. In nail making contests it is common for 25 nails to be made in 15 minutes. That is 100 and hour, or 1,000 in ten hours. . . IF you realy hustle and don't take breaks. At that rate you would be lucky to make 600 in a narmal working day and if your production drops off as it commonly does with boring work then the top may be 300 a day. Same goes for hooks and other small items.

Those shepard's crooks I mentioned? I knew a fellow that made them by the thousands WITH twists and a forged leaf hook. . . for $2.50 over material costs. He made good money BUT was VERT, VERY efficient.

Larger things like fireplace tools need to be very nicely made and everyone wants a stand for the tools. . . which is more effort than the tools. To make money the price needs to be pretty high (from my economic viewpoint).

Larger pieces can be sold in galleries but expect them to want very nice pieces such as furniture and such. To be competitive you need a serious shop that is properly equiped for this kind of work.

And this brings up another issue. Most of us cannot afford to keep our own work or sell to friends or relatives in our economic group. Hand made quality products are something that only the rich or nearly rich can afford. Targeting a product with low markup at the middle class is a losing proposition unless you live in a slave wage country and are selling in Europe or the US. . . You have to remember that for the simple low quality stuff you are competing with smiths in India and Pakistan as well as Mexico and South east Asia.

This kind of small business also needs a producer and a seller. It is very difficult to make a living off your labor AND find time to make the sales. This is why married couples are often sucessful with small businesses. The two often share ONE income but they get the job done where one person working alone cannot feed themself.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/30/04 13:09:05 EDT

Small Anvils: A cylindrical shape also works. A 4" piece of shaft 22.45" long weighs 80 pounds. But for portability you should be considering something closer to 20 or 25 pounds. A 3" diameter 11" long weighs 22 pounds. For back packing I would go even lighter.

One of the knifemakers makes a cylindrical anvil. When the cylinder is long enough to be its own stand it easily weighs over 100 pounds and is the most efficient use of mass putting all of it in line under the work surface. A long vertical anvil of 100 pounds has the efficiency of a 300 or 400 pound anvil. It just has a small work surface.

Laminating an anvil or arc welding a plate on the top generaly does not work well. Old anvils have the plate forge welded on. It is a continous weld making the anvil a solid piece. When you edge weld a plate on an anvil there is ALWAYS a space between the plate and the mass and your efficiency drops to almost nothing. You want a SOLID piece, ESPECIALLY if you are going to be carrying it on your back. You don't want to be hauling an inefficient anvil.

When you get down into the 15-25 pound range you can purchase a sledge hammer to use as an anvil. These are commonly used in third world countries by impoverised village smiths and a large number of the imported hand made blades are forged on these. The advantage is that they ARE hardened tool steel. The crowned face also makes your forging more efficient. Check your local flea markets and trade lots. NEW a 21.5 pound sledge costs $33 from McMaster-Carr.

Note that these are commonly seen burried in the ground like a traditional Japanese anvil. However, there is probably a large chunk of wood supporting the anvil that you cannot see. In the wild you would need to search for a stump or log to wedge it into. Ancient small anvils had a tapered or "spike" end for this purpose. They could be driven into hard clay soil or a hollow in a log. When carried by boat or pack animal a fitted block base was also carried.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/30/04 13:36:07 EDT

Champion #200 drill: This is a hand crank dual feed drill press. It has an automatic top feed AND a ratcheting hand lever on the left hand side. Normally the feed lever on a drill press is on the right but on this machine you are cranking with the right and feeding with the left. Patented 1904-1910.

There is a picture of one in the 1920 Champion catalog CD we sell. Except for the cover these catalogs were all black and white. The Champion and Buffalo tools and machines I've had were all painted black as were a great deal of pre WWII machines. However, I painted the Champion drill on my portable shop a bright red with black pin-striping. . . very classy.

Note also that there is a 200-1/2, 201, 203, 203-1/2, 204. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/30/04 13:49:54 EDT

small anvil

if i bought a 20 lb sledge with a handle, would the handle work good for burying into the ground as a stake, provided i chop off a bit so that its not a 4 foot hole. Or do you position the sledge head vertically so that its more efficient.

also, i really like the idea of a 100 lb round bar for a shop anvil. I'm using the Russian 110 lb to learn on, i figure why buy a really nice anvil and screw the surface up during the learning curve,(which luckily i haven't done yet)

I have no problem using a smaller anvil surface, i hardly need more then a couple square inches for the work i've been doing on small knives. Also, i wouldn't be backpacking it in, but it would be nice to have a few different sizes if i did choose to do so.

if i did go with a round bar, would i need to heat treat the end of it, or would i just refinish the surface whenever needed? What would you recommend for diameter v.s. height for stability? Also, would i have to use a vertical mill to get a square edge? or is this even necessary.

Thanks a bunch

Guru, do you know which knifemaker makes the 100 # cylindrical anvil?
   adimeshort - Saturday, 10/30/04 15:31:01 EDT

Advise your general location, and the helpful people here may have chunks of good steel for an anvil in your area cheap. At my day job we scrap tons/week of 4140, invarious sizes. last week it was 5.5" rounds, the week before 4".
   ptree - Saturday, 10/30/04 16:02:17 EDT

i'm in roy utah 84067
that would be great if there were somebody out here, or if anybody knew where i could find scrap steel for an anvil

   adimeshort - Saturday, 10/30/04 17:40:32 EDT

would anyone happen to know why using a gas saver on my rosebud causes, after a couple of weeks, a nasty back-flash and the subsequent damage to the mixer part? i have a feeling that it has something to do with the adjustment of the gas saver fuel-oxygen valves. any advice will be greately appriciated.
   arnon - Saturday, 10/30/04 19:00:25 EDT

Blowers: What is the normal price range for a Buffalo Forge blower with a 1" wide flat pulley input and without the mount? I saw one 150 miles from here for $35 at an antique shop but didn't have the money. Talking to a metal scrap yard 120 miles away, I was told they occasionally get anvils and that a 100# might be around $35. I really need to accumulate more cash so I can have them call me the next time they get one in. I'd offer to pay more if it enticed them to call me.
   Elliott Olson - Saturday, 10/30/04 19:20:49 EDT

Blowers: What is the normal price range for a Buffalo Forge blower with a 1" wide flat pulley input and without the mount? I saw one 150 miles from here for $35 at an antique shop but didn't have the money. Talking to a metal scrap yard 120 miles away, I was told they occasionally get anvils and that a 100# might be around $35. I really need to accumulate more cash so I can have them call me the next time they get one in. I'd offer to pay more if it enticed them to call me.
   Elliott Olson - Saturday, 10/30/04 19:28:33 EDT

sorry for the double post, I'm having connection troubles and had no response from the first post attempt.
   Elliott Olson - Saturday, 10/30/04 19:33:04 EDT

Magnets: I have an old steel magnet (probably from a hand-crank telephone) that is fairly weak. If I bring most of it up to the non-magnetic temp and apply super magnets (neodymium) to the poles before it cools, will it have much effect on "recharging" the magnet?
   Elliott Olson - Sunday, 10/31/04 01:37:42 EST

adimeshort, thanks, glad the article helped. To see a post anvil, go to : www.dfoggknives.com/Anvil.htm .

If you can't get there by cut and paste, go to dfoggknives.com , click on "tool store" and then to "Sea Robbin Forge.

   quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/31/04 10:20:29 EST

i tried several curious attempts at making a low carbon steel rod magnetic by heating to non magnetic and quenching, slowly cooling, etc in a large Magnetic field...
I noticed a very very slight change.
my guess, and i could be wrong, is that you'll make the steel magnet even weaker by doing so. But i haven't researched, or spent a reasonable amount of time pursuing it.. if you do find a way to recharge the magnet, email me and let me know.

yeah i was looking at that yesterday... VERY nice.
i'll have to start looking for scrap steel.
what scrap steels should i look for to use as my post anvil?
ptree recommended 4140.
an others? I'm assuming that just cold roll or hot roll is too soft of a metal, is this right?

   adimeshort - Sunday, 10/31/04 11:50:05 EST

Dime, 4140 should make a very nice anvil even if you can only normalize it. Should normalize to about Rc 30 which is not great but is probably about the same as the Russian Anvil. Quenched and tempered it should easily get to 45-50.

The strength of the magnet is a function of how many magnetic domains are aligned in the same direction. It has been a long time since I took Physics but I don't think heating up the magnet is going to do it any good. Either put aanother very strong magnet on it, or wrap a DC welding cable around the piece and pulse it a few times.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/31/04 16:26:38 EST

I didn't really reccomend 4140, just observed that my company scraps lots. 4140 is about the most common of the tool steels, and is therefore cheap. Almost every machine shop has a good supply. Heat treats easy as well.
Seeing that you are in Utah, I guess that offering you a chunk in Kentucky would not be much help. I can offer that if there is a heavy equipment repair shop around, the axles on large rubber tire loaders are often 4140, and tend to be in usefull sizes. That is what we are mostly making from the 4140.
Good Luck
   ptree - Sunday, 10/31/04 16:47:18 EST

what temp does 4140 fully turn to austenite for normalizing?

Is there a website or book that has all the alloy "names" and their properties, quench temperature, martensite, austenite, ferrite temps? I understand how the 10XX steel series works, and i have jim hrisoulas' "the complete bladesmith" which lists a few like W1/W2, 5160, L-6, S-1, etc.

thanks guys

   adimeshort - Sunday, 10/31/04 18:39:26 EST

mike, heating a magnet would result in a loss of magnetic field strength. The only way to recover would be to place it in a very strong field oriented in the same direction as the original, it could be done with a much stronger magnet or an electrical field ( must be DC ) use rule of thumb to determine poles.
   dpoulliot - Sunday, 10/31/04 18:40:53 EST

Selling your work: Guru speaks with far more experience and wisdom on this than I can, however, here's my two cents worth. 1. If you are a beginner, chances are not good that the quality of your work will sell for as much as you would want. 2. If you really enjoy smithing as a hobby, keep it as a hobby. I sell very little of my work even after 4 years because to make it a business robs it of being a pleasant, stress-reducing pass-time. 3. The majority of people who see your work will compare it to cold-bent junk they sell at Wally-World and tell you your prices are too high. They simply don't know what they are looking at. Those who do appreciate good smithing work and have the money to spend will accept only the finest work. I have chosen to give my work to friends and family as gifts with no intent to try to make my hobby pay for itself. Hand-made gifts are usually appreciated and hand-forged iron is not something most people will ever get duplicates of....unless you loose track of what you hand out!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/31/04 18:53:20 EST

recharging magnet

i was just responding to Elliot Olson. I didn't know if it was possible to make a "semi" permanent magnet that way, but i assumed that doing this to a weak steel magnet would just make the magnet weaker then before from the heat.

If it were that easy to make a magnet, i guess that they wouldn't be sooo expensive.

thanks though
   adimeshort - Sunday, 10/31/04 18:58:12 EST

i agree with quench crack, its like anything. I wanted to work in aeronautical engineering because i enjoyed designing and building carbon composites for r/c gliders, but when you turn it into a profit, its just another job.

My oppinion is that the ONLY way to make a profit and enjoy it to the fullest, is to TEACH IT.
I considered getting a major in physics so that i could teach it.. which i enjoy doing to my friends... but unfortunately i haven't completed a degree.

atleast from a dental technicians point of view, i can tell you that men/women who have perfected their skills can make much more money teaching then they can by selling.

   adimeshort - Sunday, 10/31/04 19:06:34 EST

though, i don't know if there is much of a market for teaching blacksmithing.
   adimeshort - Sunday, 10/31/04 19:15:35 EST

Permanent Magnets: Are made of the hardest possible steel alloy. I do not know the crystaline physics but I have read articles on making magnets and the harder the more permanent and the stronger. Pure iron, which is unhardenable is used for magnetic cores in transformers and solenoids because it cannot be made permanently magnetic.

To "charge" a magnet it must be moved very rapidly through a magnetic field. The way magnets are typicaly made is in a very strong electromagnetic field that is charged and suddenly collapsed. The one we had in our physics class had an aluminium foil fuse that burnt out with a quick POP! creating a very brief but strong magnetic field.

You can make small magnets by rapidly moving a piece of magnetizable material past a strong magnet. The rapid movement is key to the process.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/31/04 21:00:03 EST

Magnets: I'm not worried about losing the magnetic properties in this magnet, it's not important or valuable. I just though I'd try it once my forge is set up, I have a bunch of those ND magnets for the strong magnetic field. I'm hoping I can improve the strength but if not, it's another piece of steel to play with to forge something.
   Elliott Olson - Sunday, 10/31/04 21:38:37 EST

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