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

This is an archive of posts from October 1 - 7, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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Numeric Series and Mathematical Thought: Twelfths have a problem in a simple fractional series but there are more complex series. The simplest and most thought friendly is also accurately produceable with simple tools (divider or compass and straight edge) is 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16. . . The ancient Greeks had rules for mathematics that said that every true solution must be able to be defined with those simple tools. This created the problem of "squaring the circle" (defining PI) using a compass and straight edge in a finite number of steps. There has never been a solution to this problem even though it has been worked on for over 2000 years (The History of PI by Petr Beckman).

In twelfths the 1/4 = 3/12 presents the problem of division by thirds. Using simple tools this means iterating (trial and error) which can come close but is never perfect. Tenths is the same requiring division by fifths immediately after halves (5/10). Division by 5ths is even more difficult than thirds. The metric system using tens is a good numeric system for monetary purposes and counting but is lousy for measuring systems. This is the fallacy of the metric system of tens being better.

The ancient Summerians, the folks with the clay tablets and cuneiform writing, had one of the earliest known mathematical systems. It used base 60. This was symbolic of their year which had 360 days (whence comes our degrees in a circle). They believed that the world must be mathematically perfect and thus 60 and 360 were very important numbers to them. Of course their calender quickly failed so they tossed in a few holy days that didn't count and kept the system going for a little longer. . . Religion met facts early and failed the test.

Later base 10 (which we use today) was universally adopted for those of us that have to count on our fingers and toes. However it did not become widely used until the invention of zero, again in the Middle East.

However ever since the time of the Summerians we still use base 60 in everyday life (besides measuring angles and therefore navigation). What else do we use it for? Telling time.

Here is where mathematical bases and twelfths come into play. Sixty is a wonderful number and many bull gears in lathes have 60 teeth so that it can be used for dividing parts. More even and odd fractional numbers go into sixty than any other number.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 30, 60

The fact that the first six is a continuous series had to have intrigued the ancient Summerians. Six also gives you a series with 6, 12, 24, 30, 36, 42 . . . all numbers that can be created by the division of a circle with a compass starting with a hex which also creates equal lateral triangles. And this brings us back to twelfths because we can evenly divide a circle into 3, 6, 12. . with a compass. Cut and straighten the edge and you have those odd numbers created with even divisions. . .

The metric system ignores all this wonderful mathematical history and except for computer math where radians are used has not been fully adopted in ANY place. Time is still measured using the ancient Summerian system (60 min, 12 hours, 1/4's and 1/2's) and angles measured using 360 degrees divided into common fractions of 180, 90, 45.

Officially the metric system uses radians where the circle equals 2PI. Computers use this system for some very complex reasons as well as meeting the metric standard. However, this results in every computer program dealing with angles and trigonometry needing to convert degrees to radians using the conversion factors 180/PI and PI/180. The system also leaves us back in the world of fractions where we would use PI/2, PI/4, PI/8 (180°, 90°, 45°). Then there is PI/3 = 60°, PI/6 = 30°, PI/12 = 15° and we are back to the ancient Summerian system. . . AND FRACTIONS.

In the early days of the metric system various divisions of the circle were tried including the grade of 400 units so 100 grade = 90°. The problem was that the circle cannot simply be divided into 10 (unless you use 40 grade) and the system fails mathematically because no even tens division of a circle makes a right angle or a straight line. . . The grade still lurks around and is the reason we stopped using centigrade for measuring temperature (1/100th grade = 1 centigrade). Yeah, the Summerians win again.

Mathematical literacy (Numeracy) including fractions is easy to teach but our schools have always waited too long to introduce fractions (a three year old understands HALF a candy bar). The also do not teach the history of math so almost nobody knows why there are 12 hours on the clock or 360 degrees in the circle. . . much less WHY the conversion between Fahrenheit and Celsius (centigrade) is -32 * 5/9.

Personally knowing the REASONS things are makes it easier for me. Take the Fahrenheit and Celsius problem above. The difference between the ice point (32°F) and boiling point (212°F)in Fahrenheit is 180° (like half a circle). Fahrenheit set it up that way. In the metric Celsius scale it is 100°. The ratio of 100/180 reduces to 5/9. Since Celsius starts with the ice point at 0° and the Fahrenheit at 32° you have to add or subtract 32 to start.

IF these simple things had been taught in school it would have been much easier to remember F -32 * 5/9 = C.

Every mathematical system you can imagine has been tried and each has some advantage or disadvantage. The computer geeks say that if we had been born with 4 or 8 fingers it would have made the computer revolution much easier OR much earlier. Base 8 (octal) and 16 (hexagesimal) convert directly to binary (on/off high/low) and are what all computer math operate on at the chip and programming level.

Twelth Root of two  Binary series.  Graphic Copyright (c) 2001 Jock Dempsey
We also apply binary number series to music as well as 12 notes in an octave (8 full and 4 half). This results in the curious formula for Western scales and fret spacing of the reciprocal of the twelfth root of two to the power of n. . .

More 12ths, binary series which are reciprocals of 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 . . . around and around the circle we go.

Numeracy dictates that we understand orders of magnitude and that even using the smallest common measurement units we can define the entire universe in a range 3 significant figures and two digits of magnitude (in almost any mathematical system).

For more on using scales 1/10ths and 1/12ths see iForge demo 122 on Layout and Squares.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/01/05 11:17:20 EDT

Guru obviously has too much time on his hands. .........no, actually that is a fasinating bit of trivia.
   - Mani De Mers - Saturday, 10/01/05 13:40:14 EDT

A 360-day year seens odd in that it apparently lasted for some time. However, within only ten years you would be off a month. Leaves open the possibility an earth year was 360 at one time, but something happened to change it. One theory is the passing by of a large enough astro-body to tear away a clump of the Earth, which later became the moon. The Earth, now a lessor body, spun faster.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 10/01/05 14:10:51 EDT

Before being corrected: It wouldn't be a faster rotation, but a change in orbit in relation to the sun.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 10/01/05 14:13:09 EDT

Swage block:

If you look at Ebay item 7550649338 you'll see a swage block with an interesting recessed base (bottom left photo). Was this made his way to fit on a narrow base?
   Bob G - Saturday, 10/01/05 14:18:11 EDT

I was told years ago by a metalworker that steel wool came from a hydraulic ram.

An aside. I understand that the Boy Sprouts of America are taught that if they use a flint and steel, the sparks can land on fine steel wool. The steel wool will glow and stay incandescent for a little while because it has a light coating of oil on it.

Splitting inches, etc. In Australia, I think they went metric about 1966. When over there recently, I found that when describing a flat for example, a bloke always starts with the width first, followed by thickness, and finally the length, all in millimeters. A riding horseshoe might be made of "18 by 8 flat by 282 'mils'". Centimeters are not used when ordering, nor when cutting and assembling on the job. They confuse the issue. If you call out in centimeters, you would have to say, in the above instance, 28.2 centimeters or 28 centimeters and 2 millimeters. This is considered verbiage.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 10/01/05 14:31:00 EDT

Metric Units: As Frank noted in mechanics and engineering millimeters are almost used universaly. You will note that I almost give every metric dimension in mm. In architecture the centimeter is the standard for all measurments up to 100,000 then they jump to meters. Home dimensions may be given in meters but on paper it is all cm except area which is given in meters.

The scientific community has tried to standardize on the meter and stick to scientific notation to denote units. In speaking this would indeed be extra verbige but rarely are scientific values spoken alone. They are almost always written.

Unless you live and work in a metric country it can be quite confusing. AND the conventions above vary from place to place. At least a inch is an inch and a foot is 12 inches and cannot be confused with a milliinch or centiinch or decainch (decameters are not used for anthing that I know of).
   - guru - Saturday, 10/01/05 15:11:22 EDT

Ebay Block This is a nice design. The recess is simply to save metal and reduce weight. I would bet it is a WWII era pattern when iron was in very high demand and smiths still made parts for industry. I would estimate you could almost get three of these blocks for the iron to make two similar that were solid. The reduced weight would also help portability but I doubt that this was the primary reason for the hollow.

   - guru - Saturday, 10/01/05 15:15:52 EDT

Ken; I remember a little golden book from the 1950's that had that idea in it to explain the Pacific ocean. TOTALLY bogus as plate tectonics now explains the pacific Ocean and thermodynamics shoots down *all* of Velochosky's (sp) contentions.

Anything that would have riped a chunk as big as the mone out would have destroyed life on earth so we would have never known about the 360 day year...

   Thomas P - Saturday, 10/01/05 15:22:16 EDT

360 Day year: This was simple miscounting at the beginning of time keeping and wishfull thinking to make the year fit their mathematical system. As the error was noted "holy days" were inserted into the calendar that did not count. This extended things for a while. . Remember that this was at a time when almost the only educated people were the priests and the people believed what they were told.

In the 1700's (I think - might be early 1800's) the calendar had to be corrected and several days were lost. The populace reacted as you would expect claiming the government was stealing days from them. . .

The history of the math of calendar keeping is very interesting if you are into the mathematics of it. Today's system of leap years and leap centuries (we just had one) are nearly perfect but there IS some minor creep which will again have to be corrected one day.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/01/05 15:38:20 EDT

I'm using Jerry's computer and my name is Scott Taylor I've been trying to get registered for the pub for about two months, I was hoping you could give me some idea of how long it might take. I'm sure I'm missing alot thanks in advance
Scott Taylor
   Jerry - Saturday, 10/01/05 15:45:10 EDT


We have a new volunteer Pubmaster that has waded through ALL the pub registrations going back to March and will have finished the year in a few days. All current registrations are also done. SO, if you have registered in the past couple months there is a problem.

We get a LOT of registrations with bad return e-mail addresses. If your return mail bounces we delete your registration. IF your server bounces our mail and asks us to register with an anti-spam system we will NOT. There are too many of these and we cannot register with every one.

Besides typos with bad email addresses we get a LOT of bounces from over-full mail boxes. Folks often setup a box on a free system and then ignore it. We treat these like bad addresses as well. A bounce is a bounce.

Also note that if you lost your response mail and have been trying the system with what you THOUGHT was your password and login they may be different. We get a lot of duplicate names without alternates that we must make up a new login. We also get passwords that do not meet the simple stated rules on the registration form (no punctuation characters, no spaces). AND logins and passwords are case sensitive.

In the past two days I have gone to the trouble to answer questions by mail that both bounced due to user typos. About half the time I can guess at the typo and send again but that means half or more are wasted effort.

Try registering again. But if you have a bad e-mail account then you will need to do something else.

Use this link. Otherwise the member system will log you in as Jerry. Pub Registration Form

. . . Did a search. Your emails at sbcglobal.net all bounced.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/01/05 16:22:16 EDT


Not sure if the oil's needed, but if you get fine steel wool glowing and blow on it, it sure ain't just the oil on the surface that burns. You can start it with a flashlight battery, too. Just need two leads that touch the steel wool about 1/2" apart.
   Mike B - Saturday, 10/01/05 17:09:42 EDT

The calendar was adjusted in September 1752 when about 12 days were 'skipped' to make the correction.
Loved you numerical examples.
   - Tom H - Saturday, 10/01/05 17:31:13 EDT

Guru: If you suspect an address might not be valid, send a test message with just test in title and text. If it doesn't get bounced you can then take the time to formally reply.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 10/01/05 17:53:07 EDT

Framing squares have the inches divided as normally on one side but in 12ths on the other so they can be used like architect scales to lay out stair carriages, rafter tail and ridge cuts, with run and rise, on the planks themselves. Ten and a half feet would be 1o 6/12 inches, for example, etc. Using a framing square's complex tables was a closely guarded secret, especially for side cuts, bevels, among framing carpenters when I started construction work in the early 1950s, despite there being scads of books about how to use them. Nowadays there are Swanson speed squares, etc., which are smaller, with consequent loss of precision, but okay for framing.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 10/01/05 20:36:00 EDT

As many know, I'm a certified Fire and Explosion investigator. One real puzzler was a fire in a hardware store in which a bundle of steel wool fell onto a stack of upright 6V lantern cells. They didn't use the plastic terminal protectors in those days. I had to prove it would actually burn before the lawyers would believe me.
   - John Odom - Saturday, 10/01/05 20:49:31 EDT

When I was a kid, my brother and I used to throw steel wool on our electric train track. It would glow and smoke, but not actually burst into flames.

We used to do all sorts of fun stuff like that.
   - Marc - Saturday, 10/01/05 21:34:55 EDT

NC Tool Co. forges are supposed to self rigulate to 2350 deg. F. Does this mean that the baby will heat a 1/2" bar just as fast as the daddy?
   Tyler Murch - Saturday, 10/01/05 22:39:34 EDT

Without sufficient oxygen,(that is, just blowing atmospheric air) I dont think clean steelwool will get hot enough to burst to flame. But it will certianly get hot to emit sparks (just like at the coal forge but miniature)will catch easily other stuff alight.

I expect steelwool could be thought of as hazardous if it were shipped along with an oxidizer for example.
Maybe its already forbidden practice...

Guru, As far as the woolcutter shape goes.. I dont know.
I only know of the process from watching an industrial process "The Miracle of Steel" sort of film in high school metalshop class. That film was amazing, It showed processes along with detailed narration things from steelwool, to forging railroad wheels. Its been 30-ish years, I wish I had a copy today.
Knowing the woolfiber profile is a triangular shape, I can only speculate the cutter shape would be a semicircle of "v" shape points to scrape the surface of the wire, Then the next cutter maybe smooth to scrape off the remaining peaks then back to a "v" shape to cut valleys again and so on.
   - Sven - Saturday, 10/01/05 23:10:08 EDT

Once some suposedly dead drycells fell in the trash bucket in our home shop, there were some fine lathe chips in the bucket that started to smoke. We dealt with that problem BEFORE IT BECAME SERIOUS. I saw on TV where a guy in Jamaka was showing some tourists how to start a fire without matches,He used the 9V battery out of his radio & steel wool.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 10/01/05 23:43:26 EDT

Shop Fires: Powdered metal and fine chips, which we all create ocassionally can be a serious hazzard. Turning chips from aluminium, steel and zinc when fine enough are like steel wool and burn. Cutting oil agrevates the problem in some cases. Usualy the chips from lathes and mills are heavy enough not to be a hazzard but ocassionaly when doing fine fine work we make very fine chips. Other metals like magnesium and zirconium are pyrophoric and will burn even when wetted down. Alluminium alloys with magnesium are more likely to burn than other aluminiums. It pays to know what you are working with.

I have had long chips from the piece I was machining snake across the floor and get into the end of an extension cord. The well grounded machine did not shock me but the line of fire, glowing metal and sparks from the outlet were quite exciting! This was one of those examples of how things can very unexpectedly happen.

Steel Wool antedotes:
When I was a kid we used to tie steel wool to a rock to give it weight and a string then light it and spin it around. The motion fanned the fire and the whole was sort of like playing with sparklers.

When I was a teen ager we stuffed steel wool into the straight exhust pipes we had put on an old sports car to try to reduce the noise from the dual eight foot sections of pipe (REALLY LOUD). Worked great until my buddy punched the accelerator, the wool caught fire and dual fireballs shot out the pipes at the following cars!
   - guru - Sunday, 10/02/05 09:18:38 EDT

NC-Tool Forges: My experiance with them is that the single burner Baby boes not get as hot as the dual burner Momma's which does not get as hot as the three and four burner Daddy models. There is no "self regulation" it is simply the combination of the maximum burning temperature of the air/propane mix and heat loss in the forge. I believe the Baby has a higher proportional heat loss per burner than the bigger forges and thus does not run as hot.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/02/05 09:23:09 EDT

FYI-- the swirly cuttings from the lathe and the drill press are known as-- ta da!-- swarf, one of the truly great words in the language. Surely there is some organization we can launch to make use of that wonderfl acronym: Southwest Artists Rallying to Forge? Southwest Artists Resisting Folderol?
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 10/02/05 12:39:08 EDT

a friend of mine has an old forge from the buffalo forge co. in they're garage and they are giving it to me for free. I was ust wondering hat kind fo things i should be looking for in the forge and if anyone knew where i could look up more information on the modle and make of the forge?
   matt - Sunday, 10/02/05 13:01:17 EDT

Note that the steel wool in the hardware store fire was in a paper band wrapper. It wouldn't quite take off without the wrapper.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 10/02/05 13:35:24 EDT

Matt, Good deal. See our review of the Buffalo catalog CD. There is not much the ID can do for you as these have not been made for 50 years and the company no longer supports the old blacksmithing tools. Today what is left of the company makes fans and building coolers.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/02/05 13:46:49 EDT

Would greatly appreciate some advice...I'm finishing my new shop and just installed a Grainger updraft fan on the roof.Problem is its shiny Aluminum and some nieghbors are complaining about the glare.Any way to tone it down,how about acid.thank you...Arthur, New Mexico
   - Arthur - Sunday, 10/02/05 16:15:36 EDT

I can add my comments to the Alpha Guru: the Wimper Baby does NOT get hot enough to forge weld. I have one and use it a lot but I also have two products by Lincoln Electric that make up the shortcomings of my Li'l Forge. However, for the investment in two welders, I could have bought a Whisper Daddy! But I could not weld up everything I do with my Tombstone and my squirtgun. Life is a series of compromises.....
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/02/05 16:20:05 EDT

Yep, Champion forge and blower company is a lot like the Buffalo. I am annoyed with them. I have one of their drill presses the 200 1/2, and it has a broken pawl and feed arm. I wrote to them wanting to have it fixed under warranty and complaining about their sorry quality control, in that it lasted less than 100 years. Would you believe that I never heard back from them? I dont understand business people of today. No pride in their products. I wouldnt even bother writing to the Buffalo company.
   JLW - Sunday, 10/02/05 16:21:42 EDT

I want to "buff" metal...I purchased a 3700RPM Ginder/buffer motor and purchased a soft "cotton" wheel for one side and a Hard Felt wheel for the other.

OK...then I got some "tripoli" and jewlers rouge to buff out sratches etc from my forging work. I was told I could get a mirror finish.

NOTE: I purchased this set up from WoodCrafters who is a wood working supplier.

I cannot "buff" out anything with this set up. I get a dull gray finish at best.

What is wrong? Thanks in advance for any help.
   vic - Sunday, 10/02/05 16:26:59 EDT

To get a mirror polish on metal is a many step process.
1. Shape the metal.
2. Grind, file etc.
3. Use finer and finer sandpaper , sanding till no scratches from the previous grit show.
4.When you get to 400 or 600 grit, then a course "bobbing compound" used with a buff will cut down the sandpaper scratchs.
5. Then a polish compound is used to polish out the scratchs from the bobbing compound.
6. Last a color compound brings the true luster to the finish.

My experience is in precious metals and the color compound is that red rouge.
I have a bar of grey bobbing compound my Dad gave me years ago. He had bought it for aluminum, and it was too agressive. I do not know the exact compound. I polish with Tripoli, and color with rouge.
For steel, I use the un-named bobbing compound, followed by tripoli. Works only ok.
Note that each compound needs its own wheel. A usefull device used by jewelors is a tapered, threaded arbor. It is placed on the buffing motor, and using leather reinforced buffs, they can be placed on the arbor, and with the motor turned off twisted back off. This makes for very fast buff changes. These are available from jewelery supply houses as are buffs and many different compounds. Try Rio Grande Jewelor supply in New Mexico.
Good Luck
   ptree - Sunday, 10/02/05 17:31:02 EDT


Don't use any acid on that aluminum fan or you will ruin it. To kill the glare from the shiny aluminum, give it a quick spritz with some clear matte spray such as Krylon, or paint it with flat paint.
   vicopper - Sunday, 10/02/05 18:21:59 EDT


If you want steel to polish up to a mirror finish, you need to follow the steps that ptree outlined above. I suspect, without having seen your steel, that you are trying to buff forge scale. You must first remove all scale by wire brushing or grinding/sanding.

Soft cotton wheel or hard felt wheels are not the wheels of choice for buffing steel. The best wheels I've found are the laminated sisal ones and the pleated stiffened cotton ones, both sold by Grizzly Tools, among others. You need a separate wheel for each different polishing compound to avoid cross-contamination.

For coarse cutting, by which I mean polishing out 600 grit sanding marks, you start with black emery compound on a laminated sisal wheel. The next step is to use green polilshing compound on a sisal wheel. After that, switch to a pleated cotton wheel with White Diamond. White Diamond is an aluminum oxide based polishing compound. Finally, onto another pleated wheel using high gloss stainless steel compound. This will yield a finish you can use as a mirror.

Please note that ALL buffing starts with a surface that has been sanded to at least 600 grit. If you start with a coarser finish, you'll just end up with shiny scratches and swirl marks all over the surface. There are NO shortcuts to a fine finish.
   vicopper - Sunday, 10/02/05 18:40:04 EDT

Thanks to all for the information on my buffing question.

I am buffing to a "nice" finish on my forged pieces. I may not end up needing a real"mirror" finish but a real good shiney finish on my metal will be fine...your advice will get me there I'm sure. Vic
   vic - Sunday, 10/02/05 19:31:59 EDT

Will a hole in the center of a sheet of metal become larger when heated?
   Frank - Sunday, 10/02/05 19:38:54 EDT

Making Bamboo.
Having watched Anvilfire's own Jeff G demo making bamboo at Quad State, I vowed to try it, as he made it look very easy.
And... it's very easy. I made up the tooling, and made good looking bamboo knuckles on my very first try. I have now made a floor lamp, with a big bamboo center column, and small bamboo legs. Paint is drying, and assembly of the lamp holders will follow tomorrow.
Congrats to Jeff G for the idea and thanks for the demo.
   ptree - Sunday, 10/02/05 19:45:01 EDT

Hello I am wondering what a good size for a beginning shop is 200 sq ft good?
   Aaron - Sunday, 10/02/05 19:56:28 EDT

No forging this past weekend - did hit the local lumber yard and pisck up some red oak for a project, and a nice 16" wide maple piece of maple. Hope to combine it with some air dried silver maple my father cut down about 15 years ago and turn it into a colonial style cupboard - a long term project. No work for me tomorrow, or rather work of a different sort as I have to report for county level jury duty.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 10/02/05 21:01:28 EDT

Matt, Free is a very good price !
There are dozens of models of Buffalo forges, It would help to know what they are offering you. If its complete and everything working, lucky you !
If it needs some fixing, As others mentioned, Buffalo cant help with spares. But these things are not complicated. Maybe aside from the geartrain of the blower, There is nothing the most amateur of a DIY'er could not repair.
Do look at the various blacksmithing catalogues (the advertisers here for example) They sell fire pots and spares for them. They may or may not be compatible with your old Buffalo, But If you are missing some parts it gives you an idea of what a complete forge consists of and ideas of what it needs to fix yours.
   - Sven - Sunday, 10/02/05 21:02:03 EDT

Expansion and contraction: Frank, If the piece is heated around the hole but not the perimiter the hole will shrink OR the plate buckle. If the whole piece is heated evenly the hole will expand the same amount that a disk that size would expand.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/02/05 21:27:25 EDT

Shop size: Aaron, If you are a neat freak and do nothing but small projects then 200 sqft is OK. However, it is not enough room for welding projects, mostly because you need better ventilation that that will provide. Same with grinding with snag or angle grinders or buffing. If you try to do the operations mentioned above everything in the shop will get covered with sputter balls, swarf, grit and dust.

200 sqft makes a nice small machine shop or place where you do relatively clean work. If you do plan on any serious buffing or grinding then you will need to be sure to setup a HD localized exhust system. Same for welding. My old shop is that size and I did all the fabrication, welding and grinding outdoors. The lathe, drill press, saw, press and assembly benches were in the shop.

You can work in this small area but you will constantly be looking for more room.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/02/05 21:36:41 EDT

Buffing and Polishing: See our 21st Century page article on wheels. You also need to define WHAT metal. There is a huge difference betwen buffing soft precious metals and hard chrome plate or stainless steel. There are specific compounds for buffing some metals. Tripoli and rouge are for fine work on soft metals and getting the very last bit of brightness from hard metals after they have been brought to a mirror surface.

You can buff directly from scaled rough work. It takes horsepower and rough buffs. The kind for this work are sewn sisle or hemp rope wheels not soft or even hard (tightly sewn) cotton. The buffing compound for steel is emery (black) and comes in various grits. When you buff directly from the rough you get a rough but shiney surface with the sharp edges and high spots rounded way down. It looks like you dipped the work in very thick silver paint.

If you want mirror smooth surfaces it must be done in stages as posted above and it is somewhat of an art. Good polished work has crisp almost sharp edges with smooth precision planes between. Creating these surfaces requires practice, patience, persistance and a good eye. On steels you rarely need to go beyond 180 or 320 grit paper before buffing, but the surface MUST be perfect.

If you are not doing jewelery or wood work then don't buy tools from those supliers. Wood working suppliers sell buffing equipment to polish lacquer. Jewelery suppliers sell equipment for nearly microscopic work AND in very soft metals. For blacksmithing you want to deal with an industrial supplier. If you do not have a good local industrial wharehouse then go to McMaster-Carr.

   - guru - Sunday, 10/02/05 22:04:24 EDT

A guy I used to work with and His Son make racing boat propellers. They use a coarse black compound on sisal wheels with LOTS of horsepower after belt grinding. the sisal wheels are discarded when down to 10" in diameter.Material is precipitation hardened stainless steel.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 10/02/05 22:40:28 EDT

i produce reversible 100% cotton welding caps and am looking for a market for same
   mobley - Monday, 10/03/05 01:03:17 EDT

I was wondering how to get thehammeredand chiseled affect on iron ballisters?
   Mike - Monday, 10/03/05 05:30:45 EDT

A small safety bit or two on buffing.
First, for those not experienced in buffing, be aware that a high speed buffing wheel is just as bad or worse at grabbing work, just as in PawPaw's safety demo on the I-forge. I have a fair amount of experience at buffing and have had pieces grab and be drug around the wheel. I have had little pieces (rings etc) get away from me and they move at warp speed. To remove metal by buffing generates heat and lots of it so the part is going to get very hot very quickly. and last but not least, buffing generates lots of fiber and dust, both bad to inhale.
I like a strong hood to catch the small parts. I lined mine with soft plastic to stop rebound and not damage the part, and strong exhaust from the hood is a real help at keeping the shop and my lungs clean.
   ptree - Monday, 10/03/05 08:12:47 EDT

Caps Mobley, This is like any self imployed business, tough. The folks I know in the business have web sites and sell via our Steelworkers web-ring.

I've tried a couple times to get prices on custom caps for anvilfire but have either not gotten a response or the price was much too high to resell. It is hard making hand made goods at US labor rates and selling wholesale.

I have a lady friend that does machine embroidery that is looking to market her wares and services as well. Its another tough market.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 08:13:20 EDT

I've spent the last hour picking through the archives and I can't find what I'm looking for. So here's my question:

My hydraulic press is almost finished, so I'm looking for opinions on what to use for fluid. I know there are horror stories about using flammable (petroleum) based fluids, and I've been told I can use automotive transmission fluid. My local parts store has W36 and W42(I think).

Any suggestions? The press uses a 5" cylinder, 11/3 gpm pump and 3hp electric motor(I know that's probably too small a motor, but it's what I have)
   - Steve G - Monday, 10/03/05 08:15:02 EDT

Texture: Mike, It is done just like it looks, hammered and chisled, there is no mysterious secret. However, commercial blacksmiths use power hammers to make the process economical and have been doing so since around 1900.

Some texturing is done hot some cold. Cold work is done with machines and due to fuel costs is more common today than ever. See the samples on the dies page of BigBLUHammer.com. Hot texturing is usualy the result of forging by hand or machine. All over textures are almost always do by machine. In the days of all hand work hammer marks were considered BAD craftsmanship. Today texturing and leaving hammer marks is "in" and usualy done by machine. In some cases the texture is the result of the process and shows the maleability of the metal, in others it is texture for effect and in some it is just still bad workmanship. Texturing must be purposeful and well done to part of an artistic effect.

See the reviews of power hammer videos on our book review page and our Power Hammer and NEWS page for some images of blacksmith forging under power hammers.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 08:25:25 EDT

More on buffing. Back in the good old days in my Fathers ortopaedic shop we buffed all our aluminum & stainless steel & mild steel parts on a buffer which used the following set-up, 5 h.p. motor, 1 & 1/2 in. shaft, 18 in. sewn wheel. Used the gray emory compound and this would really cut the scratches out. Hard, filthy work and as ptree said it is very dangerous. Use caution at all times.
   Brian C - Monday, 10/03/05 08:40:03 EDT

Hydraulic Fluid: Steve, There are water based hydraulic fluids but I would check with the pump and cylinder manufacturer before using them. I do not recommend Automotive ATF except for the designed use. Commercial hydraulic fluid is available from truck and farm suppliers in 5 gallon pails. This is generally compatible with most seals and has the right lubricating properties for pumps and cylinders.

The important safety aspects of hydraulic plumbing are:

1) Use correctly rated fittings. Common SCHD 40 plumbing fittings and pipe are NOT suitable for hydraulic pressures.

2) Use commercialy assembled hose and fittings rated for the pressure of your pump plus a safety margin.

3) Be sure cylinders have good seals and guide bearings. Used junkyard cylinders are there for a reason. .

4) Pinhole leaks resulting high velocity jets that can pierce skin and eyes is a more serious threat than fire. Sheetmetal guards on hoses can greatly reduce this hazzard, especialy on the cylinder where it is close to ones body and head. Guarding the hoses may also prevent them from getting burned with hot metal.

5) Closed loop hydraulic systems create a lot of heat (that 3HP or 10HP goes INTO the fluid). Be sure that there is adequate reservior volume for cooling and adequate ventilation around the reservoir.

6) Fire from various sources is common in the blacksmith shop and you should always be ready. Replacing flamable fluids with non-flamable ones is recommended ONLY if they are compatible with the machinery or process. Note that at high temperatures the additives in water based fluids can still be flamable. Ford Motor Company had a serious problem for a number of years with anti-freeze fires in their trucks. The most embarassing part of this was that it was in trucks used largely for ambulances and fire/resque vehicals. . .

7) I'm sure there is more. . .

Note that the maximum pressure at volume put out by your pump is directly related to HP. Just because the pump has a rating does not mean it can achieve it with insufficient HP or torque.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 09:23:23 EDT

I'm using a factory refurbished cylinder (it had better be OK) and new hoses rated 4000 psi and I'm setting the relief valve at 2000 psi (assuming I can get that high with my motor). The pump is a Barns 2 stage (log splitter) unit, they say it will be OK with a broad range of fluids.

I know there are different viscosities (like motor oil), and I need to know if there is an advantage to a lower vs higher viscosity. I'm in New Hampshire so the winters tend to be a bit chilly making me tend toward the thinner fluid. But I don't know how that will effect my heat dissipation. I don't have a thermometer on my tank so I plan on taking the temp with a candy thermometer periodically until I get a feel for how it runs.

As I am a hobbyist I want to avoid the high maintenance water based products if possible. I don't want to have to change the fluid a couple times a year or have take hydrometer readings to find out if I have to add more water.

I will invest in a fire extinguisher rated for burning liquids. The pressurized water unit that's in my shop probably wouldn't work too well on burning oil.
   Steve G - Monday, 10/03/05 10:03:02 EDT

I'm looking to do some of my own case hardening on a few shotgun receivers of which I'm now shopping for a small furnace perhaps one used by pottery makers. Anyway I was wondering if the manner in which the way the bone and charcoal is packed around the metal has an effect on how the color swirls in this hardening process. Can anyone tell me what color the charcoal and bone produce individually or together as some of these case colors are from straw to blue/green? Know of a source for low oven prices and technique? Mark.
   Mark - Monday, 10/03/05 10:10:49 EDT

Mark, The colors in color case hardening have nothing to due with the packing compound. The colors are produced when the clean hot piece is dropped into water with air bubbling through it. Don't ask how much air because I do not know but I suspect it is close to a rolling boil. You also need a rack or screen to prevent the part from falling to the bottom (standard quench tank technique).

What is imporatant about the packing is that it is low in oxygen and is packed tightly and the container sealed well. This prevents oxidation while heating and the brighter the piece when quenched the brighter the colors.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 10:18:13 EDT

Steve, I would use whatever farmers are using in tractor hydraulic systems localy. They run their unheated equipment year round and in cold conditions.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 10:19:57 EDT

Color Case Hardening Equipment: Mark, see our FAQ on case hardening and my post above. As to equipment this is a very specialized process and I suspect full of trade secrets. My quest to find out how they do it got me interested in blacksmithing. Thirty years later I found it referenced in a book on gunsmithing. I have no other mention of the process.

Ceramic kilns are slow heating devices and generaly do not have the KW or BTU per volume for heat treating. Heat treating furnaces need faster heat up rates and those designed for heat treating have special controlers for ramp rates up and down.

Small gas furnaces are faster and more economical than electric kilns. Any of the propane blacksmiths forges of sufficient size sold by our advertisers will do the job.

The special aireated quench tanks are strictly proprietary and custom built. I suspect there only a dozen or less in the world used commercialy and a few more used by artists.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 10:46:45 EDT

vic-- the buffing rig you put together will be great when you need to finish a piece in sterling or brass. It's just not aggressive enough for steel. I have had good luck with the people at A Cut Above, purveyors of grinding wheels. Phone 1-800-444-2999. On the web: http://www.acutabove.com/ They have a wheel, I think made by Norton, called the "bear paw, or something similar I forget what, that looks like a sponge made of tough plastic, works well on mill and fire scale, takes it off without leaving deep gouges. Also 3-M makes a series of abrasive disks, with velcor backing or threaded connections called Rol-Loc. You buy the backing disks then stick or screw the pads on. The velcro has a tendency to go airborne. As with all 3-M products, they are value-engineered to last exactly 3.2 minutes, so it gets pricey. You will need something like a 4-inch or 9-inch angle grinder to use these. 3-M also makes this series of abrasives in flat sheets for hand-buffing and polishing.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/03/05 11:11:08 EDT

vic-- The product I like is called Bear-tex, by Norton. I use the "extra coarse" grade on stuff like pot racks,stair rails, guard rails, etc., and it leaves a satiny finish, no gouges to speak of. There is some flex to the stiff pad, so it will get into some crevices. For that mirror finish on ferrous and stainless you will have to use finer abrasives. Polishing is a craft all unto itself, with a long and filthy apprenticeship. Commercial, quick turn-around services exist.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/03/05 11:30:48 EDT

Hello, I came accross your site in search of some help. Im a well seasoned blacksmith, and I was wondering if you had ANY knowledge on old day fudal japanese 3-point and 4-point shuriken. Although simple they may seem, they require the exact amount of weight, length and width. And I cannot seem to figure out what they are. think you could help me out on this?
   Kagatsu - Monday, 10/03/05 13:42:49 EDT


GREAT story about the steel wool and the muffler! How effective was it at reducing the noise? I can just picture the faces of the car behind him as two flaming sparking wads of fire came out the back of the car in front of them.
   - Brett - Monday, 10/03/05 13:52:41 EDT

Kagatsu, Try bladeforums.com and The Craft of the Japanese Sword, Leon and Hiroko Kapp and Yoshindo Yoshihara. It may have some of your answers.

Brett, The pipes were 2.5" straights eight foot long on an Austin Healy 2000-6 (model prior to the 3000, with same engine). It was LOUD. The loudest thing I have ever heard. Duals on an old long stroke 6 cylinder have time between every firing to hear each clearly even at speed. I'm sure those long pipes had something to do the volume as well. The steel wool took off the edge reducing the noise by an estimated 50%. We had about 6" in the pipe with a piece of wire crossing the pipe to hold it in. The fireballs WERE impressive as it was at night. Seems to me there was a bit of a race escaping from the mad red-necks in the following car. . . This was well in advance of those nice stainless scrubbers they make now days.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 15:35:04 EDT

Guru, Some of the machinests on the machining and metalworking sites would disagree with your statement on ceramic kilns. With a better temperature controller, so you can predictably and accurately control the temperature, they make very good and cheap heat treaters. Lots of people go into the ceramics hobby, buy everything under the sun and then drop out.
   JD - Monday, 10/03/05 16:11:36 EDT

Bear-Tex Wheels: Being old-school I forget about these. They are great wheels and largely replace the coarse sisle wheels. They also do not grab work nearly as bad as wire brushes or buffs.

Bear-Tex Wheels are coarser than the abrasive in rubber wheels that jewelers use. The rubber wheels cut ageressively and leave a near polished finish on soft metals. They are another great tool.

Another great tool is the high density flap wheels. Run slow they are soft and pliable. Run fast they are nearly as hard as a vitrous wheel. Their advantage is running them slow. They cut everything well from wood and plastic to metals.

When you get into grinding, buffing and polishing you cannot have enough wheels and machines to run them on. Depending on the wheel size and type you need spindle speeds from 1200 RPM up to 5000. When I got into buffing I setup two machines that ran different speeds (2400, 5000) with four different wheels. These were all for brass but I ocassionaly did a little stainless. If I was working commercialy today I would have 8 to 12 grinding and buffing stations with wire wheels, buffs and belts. Some might be commercial setups and many would certainly be rigs I built. You cannot beat having the right setup every job.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 17:03:22 EDT

I must disagree on the use of ATF as hydraulic fluid. ATF IS hydraulic fluid. The ATF must both operate the hydraulic system in the transmission as well as be a torque converter fluid and an extreme pressure lubricant. ATF has the lowest temp caracheristics of any of the common hydraulic fluids, and a fair flash point. It will burn! Many mobil equipment systems are indeed using ATF in outdoor service. Many fine machine tools use ATF in the transmissions as well as the hydraulics.
The question of what fluid to use as far as the Barnes pump, is go with an ISO-32 fluid. The cylinder should not really care, and the pump will be fine on the ISO-32 viscosity. The Barnes pump is a two stage, with the factory setting something like 500 psi for the high volume, low pressure stage to cut out. I built several hundred ice blockers with the small Barnes log splitter pump, and we used a 3 Hp. I believe the relief was set at 2000 psi.

The water based fluids will indeed burn if allowed to concentrate, but simple maintenance can keep the fluid at the right percentage.

A standard cylinder with standard urathane seals will usually suffer rod seal failure in a 6 month to 18 month period from hydrolisis.

Personally, when I have the choice, I place the cylinder ports to the rear of the press, and put a simple sheet metal eye guard on. Even extreme pressure loses it penetrating force in a few inches. The fire hazard is actually increased out to a distance as the droplets need adaquate air, and to be slow enough to maintain the flame front.
Good luck

   ptree - Monday, 10/03/05 18:16:15 EDT

Guru's, a question on pickets (balusters) on stair rails.
The rails are at an angle, but the pickets want to be vertical. I punched the rails (1x channel) for the 3/8 pickets. Now I am faced with getting the pickets to vertical. I am filing the holes at the angle on both 'sides', but it is tedious. Is there a better way? bending the stub ends of the pickets, the lazy Z. comes to my feeble mind. any suggestions???
Please don't ignore Mr Backwards plea for PLEH!!!
Ta......Tim in Orygun
   - Tim - Monday, 10/03/05 18:32:48 EDT

Tim, There are several solutions to this. Most often I have seen the tennon bent and the shoulder filed at an angle to match. When a friend of mine needed hundreds of these we setup a box tool (tennon tool) in a lathe chuck. The pickets were bent then the tennon machined in the lathe producing both the tennon and the angled shoulder.

Using dies in a power hammer you can bend the picket, sharpen up the corner then forge the tennon with its angled shoulder. These require a little filing to clean up as it is tricky to rotate the picket through an arc and keep the bent tennon straight.

iForge demo number 83 figure 14iForge demo number 83 figure 15iForge demo number 83 figure 16
iForge demo #83

For mid pickett horizontals all you can do is file the holes by hand or machine.

3/8" pickett or tennon?

   - guru - Monday, 10/03/05 19:43:11 EDT

Hydraulic fluid. I agree with Ptree on the ATF. It is a fine hydraulic fluid, with superior antifoam and anticavitation properties. I have recommented it (when it seemed appropriate to the application)to many customers, and never had any complaint. One man had used various fluids, recommended by "experts" and been plauged with foaming and other problems. The last fluid he had purchased cost him $1600 a drum in 1985! The ATF solved all his problems and I got a wonderful gift the next Christmas!
   - John Odom - Monday, 10/03/05 19:45:40 EDT

Hand Filing-- If I had a lot of hand filing to do-- I would get one of the variable speed Sawz-alls from Harbor Freight and adapt my file to fit it and have a variable
speed filer
   - ptpiddler - Monday, 10/03/05 20:35:01 EDT

More on buffing safety. By force of habit, you may hold the workpiece incorrectly against the buff, because you are accustomed to the bench grinder with tool rest. The work is held low on the wheel.

I may have missed it the above posts, but a good start before going to the work of buffing is a Scotch Bright wheel. I really like my little 6" one which I get from the local jewelers' supply.

   Frank Turley - Monday, 10/03/05 21:07:21 EDT

To adjust a lot of small holes, if this is a often repeated problem, there are several air and electric powered belt sanders that have very tiny sanding attachments for this type work. I do not think they would fit a 3/8" hole but might.
Recipricating filers are a standard item.
   ptree - Monday, 10/03/05 21:10:50 EDT

Frank Turley.
You are very right on holding the part low on the wheel.
Another possible item to use is a Norton flap wheel. Available in many grits. These will definetly take off sharp corners etc.
   ptree - Monday, 10/03/05 21:12:56 EDT

Recipricating filers--I knew they were a standard item-
But- can you get one for $38.00--variable speed
   - ptpiddler - Monday, 10/03/05 21:15:13 EDT

I do not give the Bear-tex much chance to grab. I am using the disks in my 4-inch angle grinder. The steel is in a vise. Norton also provides the stuff in many other forms, many gradations of bite. Forgot to mention re: grinding, buffing, and polishing, do not neglect to wear a face shield, a respirator, ear protection. ALWAYS. Lots of ambient nasty stuff, high levels of DBs, around when doing this work. Keep it out of your eyes and lungs. Protect your hearing. If using a grinder of any size, I think leathern gloves and apron and sleeves are a must, too-- if the wheel does catch, it can fly back and chew a big bloody hole in a microflash.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/03/05 21:15:59 EDT

What methods can be used to produce a hard wearing finish to mild steel? I have considered "blueing", the chemical process used on rifle barrels. Are there heat treatmenst which can be used to produce a finish that if maintained will reduce rusting?
I am in the process of producing a Japanese Kusarigama (sickle and weighted chain) which besides the blade has a number of metal fittings. Thank you for any help you can provide.
   Tim Atkinson - Monday, 10/03/05 23:38:40 EDT

Dear Guru, Thanks for your response. I understand working from the front. That would entail carving a model, yes? How would I address creating a flange. The plywood "die" system automatically leaves you with a flange for soldering that just about perfectly flat. Again, if there is a text on this let me know. Rick Piatt
   Rick Piatt - Monday, 10/03/05 23:51:51 EDT

ptree - So you think the Barnes pump would not be happy with the ATF.

Unfortunatly, do to hose lengths and trying to keep the press as small as posible, I have the hoses on the working side. But I will make shielding and add it to the unit. That will help keep dirt (scale) out of the works.

I'll post back after I get it running this weekend and let you now what I chose and how it's working.
   Steve G - Tuesday, 10/04/05 06:16:16 EDT

Steve G. The barnes pump should be just fine on ATF. Many log splitters come with ATF from the factory due to the excellent cold weather properties and easy availablility of ATF.
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/04/05 06:43:34 EDT

ptree - That's good because my next door neigbor has about 5 gallons of ATF he is willing to donate to my cause. He wants to see my press run almost as much as I do. So I'm going to go with it. I'll report back in a couple of days.

Thanks to everyone for your input!
   Steve G - Tuesday, 10/04/05 09:51:57 EDT

mobley: Welding caps imported from China are readily available at flea markets and just about any place tools are sold. If you make you own designs you might put anvil or horseshoes on them (and perhaps related tools) and try to target market them. However, even them I doubt there will be much of a demand for them. You might approach some of the forum advertisers about carrying your line.

Know some long-term ironworkers. One told me you pretty well weren't allowed to wear one until you became certified. Then it was presented with certificate. Once you had your polka-dot welder's cap you were someone.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/04/05 09:57:25 EDT

Tim I would look into traditional russeting or browning which is essentially a stabilized rust patina and so wear is a bit self repairing...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/04/05 10:00:00 EDT

Well am NOT vary neat so what would be starting shop size? Thanks
   Aaron - Tuesday, 10/04/05 10:13:45 EDT

Hard Wearing Surface on Steel: First, There is the finish and there is the surface hardness. It does not matter what finish you put on soft steel parts that are exposed to rough service or rub against other steel parts. If the steel can not take the wear the surface finish cannot. Many small gun parts are case hardened puting a very durable scratch resistant surface on the steel. Then they are blued, blacked (Parkerizing) or rusted. Some oxide coatings like parkerizing are a little harder than the substrate steel. When applied over case hardening the combination is quite durable.

Note that blueing and other chemicaly applied oxide finishes may slightly resist rusting but they do not stop it. They are more of a surface to hold oil which must be constantly re-aplied to prevent rust.

Case harden, blue then oil.

The most common industrial method to prevent rust is to plate the steel. Chrome is very hard and when applied thick enough makes a durable scratch resistant surface. Chrome plating by itself is not a rust preventitive. Chrome plating is porus and must have a tighter plating under it. What is called "hard chrome platting is just chrome and will rust. Good plating on steel starts with a copper flash, then nickle which is a rust preventer but soft, then the chrome which is very hard.

Nickle plating to prevent rust was quite common at one time and used alone due to the expense of chrome. It is still a good plate and the slightly yellow cast to its color is not as harsh as the blue white of chrome.

Note that like some paint the shine of plating comes from mechanicaly buffing, NOT the coating process.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/04/05 10:25:18 EDT

Well am NOT vary neat so what would be a good starting shop size? Thanks

sorry for the 2x post
   Aaron - Tuesday, 10/04/05 10:39:02 EDT

Shop Size: Aaron, IF you can afford it an acre or two under roof would be filled in a few years. . . 1200 square feet(30'x 40' or 10 x 12 meters)is a good size. This allows room for stock storage, a forge area, an assembly area, a clean room for machine tools and other storage. If you want to be able to convieniently park and unload a truck in the shop or work on large projects then twice the above is best.

You CAN get away with a lot less. You can put a forge, anvil, power hammer and work bench with vise in 10 x 10 feet (3 x 3 meters). But steel comes in 12 foot and 20 foot lengths. You REALLY need room to turn around with at least a 10 foot bar (12 is better) without interference with machinery. That 20 foot length means that the for economical purchasing and storage of stock you need 20 foot stock rack space. The BEST arrangement is the stock rack with the saw sitting at the end of the rack and ten to twelve feet in front of the saw for cutting. This means 35 to 40 feet along one wall for stock and cutting space. Ocassionaly a "stock shed" extends a portion of a building, its length reducing the space needed in the main part for handling and cutting stock. But this is not a good plan for new contruction.

Storage, cutting and handling stock is one of the most time consumming non-smithing activities in a shop. Space and proper layout to do it effectivly and efficiently is often missing in shops. This greatly increases the time necessary to handle the stock costing time which IS money. That long length cannot have a door or passageway anywhere along its length and THAT adds to the necessary planning of the shop layout.

DON'T tell me you are not going to be handling that much stock. You will be. It is amazing how fast it is used up.

Just asking how much space is needed is a simple question that has no simple answer. Finances, zoning, the character of your work, future expansion, expected time of use ALL go into this. I have built 3 shops now and not gotten to fully utilize any of them and now occupy a 4th that the owner never got to use and that I will probably only use to some small degree. Thinking about your use and occupancy is another aspect of this decision.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/04/05 10:57:08 EDT

Shop size:

As the guru says, bigger is better, but you do need to have an idea what you are going to be doing. I worked out of a 9 x 17 foot chickenhouse for three years, and am currently in a 20 x 20 garage. For the size work I do, that's fine if crowded. I also utilize an advanced tool and stock storage system called "pile it wherever it fits." (grin!)

I can't do large architectural forging, but then I now know I don't want to. I didn't know what I wanted to do when I started. I also can't store all my steel inside, so it is lovingly piled along one wall outside, behind the flowerbed where my wife doesn't see it often. It does get rusty, but that's the cost of my setup.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 10/04/05 11:59:31 EDT

Shop Size:
Shop size is also dependant on your location. In a dense urban setting a shop is needed to reduce the noise your neighbors hear. In a warmer environment (no freeze) you can do a large amount of work outdoors, with a simple awning to keep the rain off. This type set up makes a 10 X 10 space workable.
Good Luck
   blackbart - Tuesday, 10/04/05 12:16:59 EDT

Intelegent Shop Layout: This assumes you know what kind of work you will be doing and what machinery and work stations you will have.

1) Make a seperate scale drawing of the plan (top) view of each machine and device. Do this on tracing paper or mylar so you can see through the drawing. Color machines in solid. Things like benches and anvils that you can handle stock over should be cross hatched.

2) Add center lines for stock feed and support for each machine. Lathes, mills and drill presses need space to support long stock off their tables usualy along the machines axis or perpendicular to the table on drill presses and saws. Power hammer dies are usualy set at an angle that lets long work miss the frame on both axis (long and short). Remember that saws and shears need up to ten feet or more on the cut length side. On saw axiis make tick marks and dimension them for planning. Don't forget that vises need space along the jaw axiis.

3) Draw body space in front of each device. This is usualy the area where you will wear out the grass with your feet if the machine were set on a fresh mowed lawn. Many machines need access to the back to connect to wiring make adjustments and so on. The lesser used spaces can be marginal but the place where you work for hours needs a little more elbow room. The body space usualy looks like a bent sausuage or hot dog. On items like an anvil it could be two circles or ovals. The inside line is the tips of your toes when standing normally and the outside line is about 6 to 8" behind you butt for movement. Do not over do at this point.

4) Starting with a proposed building shape (usualy rectangular) within you budget arrange the components above in a logical fashion. Set some rules:

a) Certain equipment needs to be close to other equipment such as anvil, forge, vise. Lathes, milling machines and drill presses often use the same cutters, chucks and furniture. Number these work area items that should be kept together (1 for forge, 2 for welding, 3 for. . .).

b) There needs to be space between body areas especialy if more than one person is going to working in the shop (ever). The more people the greater the added space.

c) Overlap is only allowed in very low use areas such as adjustment and setup access spaces. Overlap MAY be used if you are very space limited and only ONE person will be in the shop.

d) Light and dark areas need to be considered. Machinery needs the best lighting, forging the least but good light on power hammer dies is better than the usual dim forge shop lighting.

e) Ventilation including doors and windows needs to be considered. Forges areas need ventilation but drafts can cause smoke to miss the flu or gas forges to run irradicaly.

f) Traffic and movement of materials needs to be considered. If an overhead hook, monorail or other lifting device is part of your shop (it should be in every blacksmith shop) be sure that you can get a truck under it. Also consider if a fork lift truck OR pallet truck is going to be used in your shop.

This last item brings up the subject of overhead space. Shops need high ceilings. I have a monorail hung flush on a 16 foot (4.9m) ceiling and it is JUST barely suitable for unloading machinery out of pickup trucks and mid level flat beds. Tall ceilings also give you room for moving stock OVER machinery and provide better ventilation. A common 8 foot ceiling is OK for small work including small machine operations but 12 feet should be the minimum and 20 feet is best even in a one man shop. . .

Use the above to arrange, rearrange, trial fit, add and remove machinery, increase and decrease your building size. REMEMBER, you WILL be adding machinery in the future as well. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/04/05 12:19:55 EDT

Outdoor Shop: I love an open air outdoor shop as blackbart mentioned. Fresh air, infinitely expandable. One of the niceset small shops I've seen was in a film about a Polynesian bladesmith. Just a thatched roof shelter with open sides and a hole in the peak of the roof over the forge. The roof kept the forge, fuel and a few tools dry and gave the smith some shade to work in. My portable shop trailer was also a nice outdoor shop.

The biggest concern with open shops is security. There are many places in the world where you can leave your house unlocked, you keys in the car and anvil in the front yard and never worry about it. However, there are also many more places in the world where you do not dare leave anything out for a moment or it will walk off. Tools are particularly bad because they will be used to break into other places.

A few years ago the Kaynes were doing the AFC show and staying in an economical and convienient motel on the South side of Birmingham. Someone broke into their van and stole several expensive Swedish pattern sledge hammers. The fact that these were odd expensive hammers made no difference to the theives, they just wanted sledge hammers to knock down doors. . .

I still remember one of the first crimes I read about when I was learning to read (many years ago. . ). Somebody stole an oxyacetylene rig on a cart from a service station, used it to cut open the rear steel door of a business and then hauled away the safe and tried to open IT with the torch. They were unsuccessful and took the torch home. . . The local Sherrif followed the tracks of the heavy cart with narrow wheels across the light snow and soft ground. . . right to the sleeping theives.

The point is that we have a lot of tools that may have little value at the pawn shop but they sure are a help in breaking in somewhere else and thus are a target.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/04/05 15:10:49 EDT

Help!! I need some aid in plumbing my hydraulic press. What do I use and how do I use it..I've only been builidng this thing for the last 10 years now so it's time..

Located in Henderson, NV...

Thanks all..

   GHPoMCI - Tuesday, 10/04/05 15:30:58 EDT

A friend has a large safe in his shop, he keeps things that would be usefull for breaking in the safe in the safe, torch tips, drill bits, cold chisels.
   - Hudson - Tuesday, 10/04/05 15:47:41 EDT

Hydraulic Press: JPH, Dr. James Battson of AFC Battson blade symposium fame wrote a booklet on the subject of building a small forging press. It is available from Don Fogg (link on links page). An alternative would be any hydraulics catalog (there are probably some on-line) OR the installation sheets that came with your 4 way control valve. Hopefully you bought it new and have the sheet. . .

We just had a post about 24 hours ago on the plumbing hardware and fluid to use (look UP).
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/04/05 16:44:27 EDT

My hammers and tools were in a bucket when Katrina hit and we got over 3' of water. When I returned last week I tried to clean up tools with bleach but they were several different colors, mainly black. The wooden handles above the water stayed brown but the portions in the water turned black. Would those hammers still be safe to use? Should I replace all the handles?
   running bear - Tuesday, 10/04/05 16:49:22 EDT


I have Jim Batson's booklet...but since I live in a not-so-convienent area as far as tools go, I have to have everything sent in via truck.The Las Vegas Valley is a nice place to live unless you want things that are NOT gaming related. I just don't want to order the wrong stuff. While I am use to buying my steels by the ton and abrasives by the gross and SLTT, NOT being sure about what sort of hoses to get (there are dozens of different types..), what sort of couplings and all...that is the reason why I asked. I figured that since I have helped thousands of folks over the years that someone out there I have helped might in turn help me out..I know enough about hydraulics to know that I don't know enough...

   GHPoMCI - Tuesday, 10/04/05 17:14:11 EDT

Stained handles: Running Bear, It sounds like you have disinfected the surface coating pretty well. The black on the wood may be iron stains. However, you will always have that nagging feeling. . . Instead of replacing all the handles i would do the following:

Inspect each closely. Some may have already been due for rehandling or have cracks. Plan on rehandling these.

Those with good handles can be scraped or sanded down to clean wood. A scraper (knife edge) is faster than sanding and does not make as much dust. Let the handles dry after exposing the wood then oil or varnish. I prefer to varnish my handles once every year or so.

Handle Maintneance: Often our hammers get missused and the handles knicked or slightly cracked but it is still a good tight handle. I repair damaged handles at least once before replacement. Here is what I do:

First I inspect and sand lightly around the damaged area. Then I work carpenters or hide glue into the cracks or knick and let it dry. Next I sand again to remove any rough feel or splinteryness but not TOO deeply. Then I varnish the wood. After the varnish is dry I test the feel. Then I tape the handle at the hammer head with electrical tape for about 1 to 1.5" (25 to 40mm). If there are any rough places in the neck of the handle where my hand might slide I tape farther.

I also oil the wood in the eye with linseed oil to help tighten it.

Re-Handling: This is a skill that takes some practice. Note that when you buy freshly rehandled hammers at flea markets it is almost always done poorly using low quality handles. I have found many so loose you could pull out the wedge and redo the joint OR set the cheap handle aside for something else.

When you go to remove the old handle inspect it. You are often replacing the handle because the head is loose and wood splintered or there is a chip in the neck of the handle. If the damage is minor saw off the handle just below the head and save the handle. Old handles will fit other tools that do not need a perfect shape or tight fit (like fullers and flatters - file handles).

After removing the remainder of the handle (often a punch over the hardy hole is needed) inspect the eye of the hammer. The bottom should have a smooth radius so that the new handle will force in and not cut the wood. The top should have no knicks. I use a Dremel tool to clean up either end. Also note that if the hammer faces need dressing NOW is the time to do it.

Fit a premium grade handle to the eye. It should be tight starting and slightly tappered to the swell which stops the hammer head from going farther. Be sure the handle has a good saw split almost as deep as the hammer head. It should be on the axis of the hammer. Chamfer or clean up the leading edges of the split. Cut a hardwood wedge to fit. Most commercial wedges are too soft so I make my own. Rock maple is good, so is a scrap of old hammer handle. . . The wedge should taper to about 3/16 thick at 1" for a typical hand hammer. Commercial hammer wedges are OK but often missing. They are easy to forge. Forge a flat taper about the same as the wood wedge above and about 2/3 of the width of the hammer eye. Cross groove the wedge with a cold chisle so that it has teeth to prevent it coming out.

Apply carpenters glue to the end of the handle and drive it into the hammer until it stops while working over the hardy hole or a hole in a swage or bolster. If more than 1/8" of the handle is sticking out saw it off to 1/8". Apply glue to the wedge and drive it in until it will no longer move without crushing. Saw the wedge and handle off to about 1/16" stickes out of the head. Drive in the steel wedge at a 60 to 90 degree axis to the wood wedge. Then saw off the steel wedge and the remaining wood. Use a file or belt sander to make the end of the handle perfectly flush an a neat job. Oil with linseed oil.

Properly double wedged the handle should stay tight for many years.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/04/05 17:35:38 EDT

Hyd Press: JPH, Even though Vegas is one of those towns without heavy metals industries it DOES have lots of construction and construction equipment runs on hydraulics. I am sure there is a first class hydraulic hose service outfit. The hoses are something you make a list for what you need, how long and fitting type and have the pros make up the hoses. Be sure to alow extra for bends as they always take more than you think. The service guys can advise you on pressure rating and such.

Some of the difference in hoses is durability. The pricey high durability ones have teflon liners and the priciest have metal fabric armour. Although the armoured hoses are sexy I would not pay the price and make simple sheet metal guards where needed. Ptree or one of our hydraulics experts may be able to advise you on hose types.

Also mentioned repeatedly is the hazzard of leaks (both physical and fire). Ptree recommends putting the hose fittings to the BACK of the machine soe they are not right in your face. Then place guards anywhere a pinhole leak could possibly hit you. Simple drip guards can help prevent fires.

The place that people most often screw up on DIY hydraulics is using common plumbing fittings. Common schedule 40 fittings cannot be used for this application. Every elbow "T", pipe and, nipple need to be schedule 180 or better depending on the pressure rating of your system. When ordering the small bits and pieces get extras. There is always a place that you miss counted OR took apart and screwed up the fitting. McMaster-Carr is a good place to shop for these items. They will sell you 1 or 1000.

When assembling the piping it is best to liquid pipe dope, not teflon tape OR the teflon paste. Both get into the system and can cause clogs and failures.

I don't have a copy of Battson's book so I do not know what details are missing. We have a couple of folks here that are familiar with hydraulics if you have a specific question.

Not too many of our guys are into hydraulic presses as that had been primarily a bladesmiths tool for welding billets. In general smithing the little inexpensive and dead simple flypresses have taken their place. However, they do not have the power of the hydraulic presses unless you get into two man models or big powered flypresses. The small flypresses WOULD probably do the welding just as well.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/04/05 18:26:15 EDT

JPH, If you can't find a hydraulics supplier in Vegas or nearby you'll certainly have a Grainger in town. If you have their catalog you can find premade hydraulic hoses in different lengths and with different fittings in it at reasonable prices. If you don't have the catalog go on down and chat up the counterperson- bring your parts for a trial fit if you are unsure of type or size.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 10/04/05 19:05:11 EDT

Howdy..I don't want this for welding..I weld by hand..ok I am a bit of a Ludite when it comes to welding..I want to do some deep die work. fullering, SLTT and well..I looked at a fly press and if I could get someone to trade me straight across for this press I am building for a decent sized fly press I'd take it in a heartbeat, just that I have this hydraulic press from Hell all done except for the plumbing. Just that other things have taken priority over the years like my NG duties, finishing book 4, starting numbers 5 and 6... and just not really HAVING to use/need it but every day I am out there it just sits there taunting me...

If I do get it plumbed I am sure it will do what I need to. I just don't want to get the wrong stuff and have hydraulic fluid all over the place.

   GHPoMCI - Tuesday, 10/04/05 20:32:26 EDT

Yahoo search came up with a great article;

   - Teslow - Tuesday, 10/04/05 20:42:19 EDT

Dr. Jim,

The best advice I can give you, since I know little or nothing about hydraulics, is to wander into one or two of the local heavy equipment repair/maintenance places and chat up the mechanics. Explain what you're doing, (but don't mention the swords/knives unless you want to get really sidetracked), and ask their advice and assistance. Most heavy equipment mechanics are darn good with hydraulics and know how to jerry-rig just about anything and where to get the parts and pieces. The county garage might have just the sort of guy you're looking for; the one who spends his spare time building log splitters and such.

Of course, there a number of bladesmiths who come here who have read your books and probably know a fair bit about hydraulic forging presses. One of them is sure to chime in shortly.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 10/04/05 20:47:52 EDT

Without seeing you press I can not be specific, but can offer the following tips;
1. Avoid pipe and pipe fittings. Pipe thread is not a great way to get tight joints in hydraulics. If pipe must be used, use At least SCH 160 seamless, insure the threads are cut to spec, and use an anerobic pipe sealant for hydraulics. Do not use teflon tape.
2. Use only hose that is new, and assembled with matching fittings, IE same brand fittings and hose.
3. Never make a tight bend in a hose. Remember that angle fittings are available.
4. Hoses are typically rated for working pressure, and a MHSA or SAE rating for working pressure should be stenciled on the hose. MHSA is typically rated for 6 times working pressure ( IE burst pressure devided by 6 = rating)
5. If your press is small enough, and you want the very best pessure piping system for leak free safety, and money is available, plumb the entire thing with SWAGLOK fittings and tubing. SWAGLOK fittings are the very cream of the crop. If assembled as instructed they will hold drop tight to the burst of the tubing, and if you use their tubing, they have some very high pressure tubing.

There are several port configerations available on cylinders and other components. They are: pipe (NPT)tapered pipe thread, Straight pipe thread, AN threads(found mostly on aviation components),O-ring type(straight thread with a counterbore for an o-ring seal (very good seal)and o-ring sealed flange. Then there are the metric versions.

Never use hardware store pipe and fittings. Hardware store pipe is seamed, and of the lowest quality. Iron fittings are NOT hydraulig fittings. When I worked for the valve and fitting company, every fitting was forged from high quality C1023 steel. They were then machined from the solid. Again rated to hold high pressure and temp. These were rated for steam and lower temp hydraulics as well. A typical class 2000 fitting was rated to hold 2000 psi cold and 800 psi at 850F. The wall thickness was heavy. A typical class 2000 tee went into the machine as a 11.43# forging and came out as a 2.42# finished tee. You should have seen the class 9000 4" cross!
If you have specific questions e-mail me and I will try to help.
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/04/05 21:12:40 EDT

Hello. I'd like to make a fireplace broom to complete a set that I've been currently working on. The thing is I'm clueless on what I should use for bristles and the kind of end to forge to mount the bristles to. Does anyone have a recipe for this? Or does anyone know of a how-to website I may be able to check out on this subject? Thanks.
   Chad - Tuesday, 10/04/05 22:07:00 EDT


Ok..I already know more than when I started out this morning, this is a good thing. Not that I was going to use salvaged parts to begin with, I will work my way through the yellow pages tomorrow and see what I can hunt up..I don't know even what it is I need other than the hose/line and the appropriate fittings...

Here is what I got...40 gallon tank...oil cooler (radiator..it gets a bit warm here in Las Vegas...) oil filters (two..one inside the tank one outside...) a 4 way vave thingy with levers...a solenoid that hooks up to the line and is run by my foot control and limit switches...cylinder...pump/motor...that's about it...No lines, no fittings...

Like I said this has been sitting here idle, taunting me for 10 years...

   GHPoMCI - Tuesday, 10/04/05 22:35:31 EDT

Chad, Get to that little NAVIGATE anvilfire window and click on "iForge - How-to". Scroll to demo #117 for some of the guru's tips. Another woman who makes brooms is Bess J. Ellis of Belgrade, Missouri. If your message bounces, e-mail me for more info.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/04/05 22:44:47 EDT

Brooms: Chad, Today most blacksmiths find someone that hand ties brooms and lets them do it. Not that the Sharon Epps mailing address is not longer good. I need to remove it.

The stuff that brooms are tied from is called "broom corn" and it is promarily grown in Mexico and imported into the US in bales. Some suppliers provide it both natural and dyed. Broom makers also use string and wire as part of the process.

Differerent broom makers require different endings to attach a broom to. I was one of the first or possibly THE first smith to have modern broommaker tie a broom on my iron handles. Butch and I worked together at a craft show to create a handle end that worked for both of us. Butch also tried different styles and came up with the ones in the iForge demo.

The last time I contacted my broom maker he was no longer into the craft as he was now the superintendent of schools in his county. That makes Dempsey/Hutchinson brooms a collectors item. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/05/05 08:58:46 EDT

I updated Sharron's address to what we have for the pub. Not sure it is current. . I also made an encrypted hot link out of the address in Frank's post.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/05/05 09:21:18 EDT

Are there any new hand crank blowes available?

I thought I saw them in the centaur catalod recently but I don't see them in the new on or on the web site. I've also looked at the blacksmiths depot and anvilbrand catalogs.

I got this sudden urge to make a little forge that I could easily weel outside and got thinking a hand crank might be nice instead of running an extension cord.

I saw one at a local antique place that works but I think he wants too much money...(maybe not though). It's been sitting out side for a LONG time and it works now but I don't know for how long. He has a forge that's been sitting outside with it and is a rotted out piece of junk and he insists on selling them together. He wants $250 for the blower if he sells it without the forge. As I recall the new ones were a few hundred bucks and for the kind of money he wants I'd consider new...or just start stringing extension cord. LOL
   Mike Ferrara - Wednesday, 10/05/05 10:05:22 EDT

Mike Ferrara: Hand-cranked blower appear on eBay on a regular basis. Usually under the category for Collectibles/Tools, Hardware & Locks/Tools/Blacksmithing. However, watch out for shipping costs.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 10/05/05 10:20:57 EDT

Angled Pickets/Baulesters:

I have a friend who made a large railing with angled pickets. Every third picket passed though the handle rail and had a decorative finial. His method to accomplish this was to set up the handrail on a horizontal mill and drill the holes in the hand rail at the correct angle. For the spindles that were flush with the hand rail, he welded them, ground the weld flush with the handrail, then drilled a 1/4 hole into the weld. He forged decorative bronze buttons with 1/4 stems that were epoxied into the holes. It was a very sharp railing.
The other way I have seen angled spindles done is the weld the spinldle at the correct angle into a frame. The hand rail, be it wood or metal, is then attached to the top of this frame.
   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 10/05/05 12:28:49 EDT

Brooms, Bell Ellis is still making brooms on handles sent her. I have two there now for tying. She does a wonderful job, and is a pleasure to work with. Be aware that she needs a week or so for the broom to dry back out after tying to prevent mildew during shipment.
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/05/05 13:47:54 EDT

Hand Crank Blowers: Mike, good ones show up at less than half that price fairly often. Currently hand crank blowers are made in two places, Britian and India. The British blowers are aluminium, fairly well made and sold for around $600 US (when they were available). Those made in India are aluminium, have thrust bearings on one end of the shaft so that you MUST turn the blower one direction and the gears are a little rough. But they sell for about $30 US in India. IF a manufacturer was making blowers of the same class and quality as the old Champion 400 blowers today they would have to sell for around $2000. But they last for several generations. . .

If you price a new electric blower and an extension cord you money goes a lot farther. . . Materials to build a good bellows will cost as much or more than a hand crank blower depending on the bellows and the blower. Japanese box bellows are the least expensive to build but big old double chambered "Great" bellows are a joy to use if properly constructed and setup.

The cheap solution that was beat around on Keenjunk was to use an old bicycle and run a friction driven pulley off the tire. The pulley would on the shaft of a common centrifugal blower.

Old millwright made blowers were made from two boards cut in a scroll blower pattern then the curved surface covered with sheet metal. The fan was a square block with four blades, one extending from each surface. The shaft was steel and bearings oiled wood. I've seen them with a wooden thread spool as the pulley. . but I think those are a thing of the past as well.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/05/05 14:01:53 EDT

JPH. First, lets go through the parts list a bit.
The inside the tank filter can be either a return filter of a suction strainer. If a suction strainer, it is plumbed to the pump inlet to strain out trash before it trashes the pump.
The other filter can be either a return filter or a pressure filter. The pressure rating on the filter housing should be the guide. If the pressure rating is less than 1000psi than it is probably a return filter. If it is a spin on than it is probably a return filter.
A return filter goes in the line from the valve to the tank to remove trash from the oil returning to tank. A pressure filter goes between the pump and the valve to protect the components from trash. The cooler usually goes in the return line.
Do you know what kind of pump you have? Many pumps have case drains with specific requirements as to were the drain exits, IE above or below the tank fluid level.
The cooler, is it a hydraulic system cooler? Have a fan to push air thru?
The 4 way valve with levers, why a lever and a solenoid valve in the same line to control one cylinder? Normally, the solenoid valve will be the sole control for a single cylinder press.
I do not see mention of a safety relief, speed controls, pressure gage, or pressure control mechanism. I also do not see mention of a shaft coupling, or doghouse to adapt the motor to the pump.

If you do not have a good understanding of the components, may I sugest that you find a local expert, and seek lots of advice? Plumbed wrong, at best you will have an underperforming press, or you may destroy the pump, or yourself.
Hydraulics and forging presses are not a good learning project without expert guidance. I suspect that there is a Parker dealer in your area, or at least some hydraulics shop. Search the phone book to find one, and if you buy there required parts to complete your system, I suspect they will offer help.
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/05/05 14:02:39 EDT

Chad- Re: Broom making. Videos $22 DVD's $22 @ Mockingbird Forge. S & H included. 850-926-4448
   - Ron Childers - Wednesday, 10/05/05 14:48:52 EDT


Ok..I got everything hooked up mechanic/electric wise..pump to motor...motor to switches...(the solenoid allows me to use a foot pedal as a dead man so when I let it up, the cylinder raises the ram... to the upper limit switch, depress and it lowers the ram to the lower limit switch forhands free operations..)

all I need is the plumbing...Cooler is a fan driven forced air hydraulic cooler, looks like a car radiator, and it's suppose to go either between the cylinder and the tank on the return or between the tank and the pump on the ingress. NOT between the pump and cylinder..

Pressure guage is on valve thingy with all the levers..Speed control I have this heavy cast iron one that has a selector lever and detents on it as per Jim Batson's suggestion...
Like I said I know enough about this stuff to know I don't know enough...I might just scape it out and get a fly press.. I dunno... It's just that I have over $3500.00 invested in this thing so far, with that dedicated electric line included...

   GHPoMCI - Wednesday, 10/05/05 16:39:08 EDT


Ok I have all the mechanic/electric hooked up...motor to pump...switches wired, all I need is the lines for the hydraulics.

The solenoid allows me to use a foot pedal as a dead man so when I depress the ram lowers to the lower switch, when I let up, the ram raises to the upper switch. Hands free operation.

Cooler is forced air that goes between either the tank and the pump or the cylinder and the tank on the return. THis is what I was told when I purchased it.

Pump return is for above the fluid line in the tank (top return??) Pressure gauage is on the lever thingy/valve control(?) and the speed control I have is a cast iron unit with detents and a lever to select speed...

I dunno even if I am going to persue this any further cause I spent all morning on the phone trying to get some help and well, I was given the bum's rush. It's just that I have so much $$$$ invested in this thing that scraping it out wouldn't be in my best interests...

   GHPoMCI - Wednesday, 10/05/05 16:48:29 EDT

Grand High Poobah,

I dunno about Vegas, but down here in Paradise, the local NAPA auto parts store makes up Swagelok™ hoses and fittings, and one of the guys there is pretty knowledgeable about hydraulics in general. Might be that a parts place in your area would have something/someone similar.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 10/05/05 19:16:06 EDT

I just find it hard to believe that there isn't someone here who knows about hydraulics and would like to swap some hydraulic knowledge for some pattern-welded pointy thing knowledge, a commodity of which you have large reserves.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 10/05/05 19:17:44 EDT

On Hydraulic presses and forging.
Contrary to what most of the folks think, when you say forging and hydraulics, or hot metal and hydraulics, most experts say " I don't want the liability when this guy burns his shop down".

If not expert enough to know what parts you need, some shops get leary quick. Try for a older shop, with guys who work on stuff like farm equipment and mobil equipment. Without knowing what brand/model the pump etc is, A diagram of the circuit can not be made. The general plan is to run a suction line from the pump inlet into the tank, at one end of the tank opposite the baffle passage. Run the pressure line to the safety relief valve. Run the supply from the safety relief to the 4 way control valve. Run a line each from the A and B ports of the valve to the cylinder. Run a line from the T port of the cylinder to the filter and then to the cooler, and then to the tank, returning the oil to the opposite side of the baffle from the suction. Run a case drain from the relief and the pump if so equipped. Run a big line from the relief to tank for the vent port.
Now in a nutshell there is a plan.
Details remaining are, where the speed control goes, do the case drains if required go above or below the surface of the fluid, and you still need to seperate out the manual lever valve and the solenoid valve. If equipped with a case drain on the pump, most require the case drain port to point up, and you need to fill the case of the pump prior to starting it as it will often sound like a gravel crusher until it self fills, and it does damage the pump.
Good luck.

   ptree - Wednesday, 10/05/05 19:45:40 EDT

I am a 40 year old engineer who collects and restores hit & miss engines. I am in the need of a metal working lathe but have never operated one. It is the next step in my learning process of restoration. I have already done some metal working, welding, blasting and general fabrication. I have located a meal working lathe on e-bay. It is item #7550450688. It is a Hendley. Little other information is given. Is this lathe capable of threading? Are parts still available for it? Is it a good lathe to learn on? What should someone expect to pay for a lathe of this type? I know that partly depends on how bad you need it.
Your help is very much apprecited.
Jeff Miley
p.s. Located in Maryland.
   Jeff Miley - Wednesday, 10/05/05 19:47:52 EDT

Another bit of concern has come to my mind. Do you know what type of flow pattern your valve is? There is usually a diagram on the nameplate with an odd block diagram with arrows and such. Do you know what type pump you have? Such as Gear, Vane, Axial piston, pressure compensated?
If you can get the name plate data for each component, I have a source for you that can provide all the remaining bits and pieces and a plumb it up diagram.
If you would e-mail me the nameplate data, I will forward it and get the source working on it. He also sell fluid power components for a living and therefore can sell you the parts.
Good luck
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/05/05 19:53:54 EDT

Thank you for all the info on brooms folks. Very helpful indeed.
   Chad - Wednesday, 10/05/05 20:25:37 EDT

Guru, thanks for the blower info.
   Mike Ferrara - Wednesday, 10/05/05 20:46:00 EDT

Old Lathe: Jeff, Depending on the service this lathe has seen it may be in fair condition to needing a multi-thousand dollar overhaul. First, see my FAQ on Lathes

1) It IS and Engine lathe.

2) The owner just bought it, CLAINS to know nothing about machine tools and is reselling it. . .

3) There are no attachments, 3 jaw chuck, tool holders, collets, centers, face plate. . MANY of the parts this machine came with appear to be missing (see FAQ above).

4) Can't tell from the lousy photos if this machine has a quick change threading system or not. I think NOT. In that case the machine originally came with a foot high stack of big gears called "change gears". Without these you cannot thread. Since the current owner appears to know nothing about machine tools he probably did not know what went with the machine and lost the parts (OR they have been sold).

From what I can tell about the condition that I THINK this machine is in it is going to cost you hundreds of times more than the reserve price to make it useful. That is if it is not worn out. See my FAQ on old Lathe problems.

This could be a very good tool provided the feed gears are currently setup at a usable feed rate. If the last thing this lathe was used for was to chase a thread of some other fast feed work then plan on spending at least $1000 for gears to get ONE usable speed. However, it would not be usable for threading without the complete set of change gears. Threading also requires that the bed not be too worn which is common close to the chuck, especialy on these short bed lathes.

See what I said about four jaw chucks in my FAQ. A new replacement would cost another $1000 to $1500. . . See where this is going.
You ARE doing the right thing. However, I have found that most of the lathes on ebay have been parted out. You can get more for one chuck or box of tools holders on ebay than what the whole lathe cost. So all the small bits and pieces get kept by the seller or sold by the dealer at great profit. Then the stripped down lathe is sold to some sucker who then has to go out and find all those parts IF possible.

If you are serious about this you need to know something about lathes before you go shopping. Take a course at the local trade school. The course text SHOULD have a good section on using engine lathes. Study it more closely than the course requires. Get the booklet put out by Southbend Lathes titled "How to Run a Lathe". It has the details of how these old lathes generally worked and the pieces they came with. When you can recognize and name every part of an Engine lathe and its accessories then you will be ready to shop for one.

Shop around, look for a machine with all the parts. One with all the attachments and tool holders is worth a couple thousand dollars. One in good enough condition to do shaft and bearing work AND has all the attachments is worth four or five thousand dollars. This one (on ebay) is suitable for rough blacksmithing work, wood turning, spinning. But probably NOT the kind of work you envision doing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/05/05 20:49:21 EDT

Thanks for the advice regarding the lathe. A few pennies of good advice is worth many dollars down the road. I will pass on this lathe and any others unitl I learn some more. The advice was very much appreciated. Keep up the good work.
p.s. Any hit & miss engines laying around?
   Jeff Miley - Wednesday, 10/05/05 21:13:22 EDT

Jeff Miley : There are 2 good engine meets in Maryland, unfortunatly I don't know where they are, but have heard of them from friends. If You don't know of them allready ask around 'till You find out.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 10/05/05 22:25:36 EDT

Hey here is a question that struck in the middle of the night. Not too important but a good question.

I once let a small piece of copper sneek into my fire while working some tool steel. I got distracted and allowed the fire to get a bit too hot( almost sparking the tool steel[ a hammer drill bit]). After quickly pulling the steel from the fire I allowed it to air cool over night. The following morning I found that the steel had a fine but tough layer of copper on it.
Was this caused by a charged( ion type) attraction or was it a random fluke and heated air flow (?) deposit? or was god smiling down on me that night and copper guilded my new work knife?
   - Timex - Thursday, 10/06/05 02:33:02 EDT

Timex the answer is YES.
   Ralph - Thursday, 10/06/05 02:58:12 EDT

A question from Timex re copper coating a tool in the forge from a rogue piece of copper prompts me to sugest the following. Heat a piece of scrap steel and sprinkle it with a bit of oxy welding bronze flux. Re heat to bright red then sprinkle on a little brass or copper swarf or filings. You will get an instant brass or copper coating with interesting texture and colour. Try this only in an outdoor forge as the zinc can burn out of the brass giving off unfriendly fumes. Old hand made cow bell used to be plated this way before the advent of galvanising.
   Hugh McDonald - Thursday, 10/06/05 06:26:15 EDT

Jeff Re old lathes..

Fully agree with all guru says about old lathes.. I do a bit of machine tool trading (though usually on much larger machines) and have a big machine shop here full of the things, so heres my tuppence worth...

Its much better to wait 12 months to find the right one, than buy the wrong one and spend a year chasing down the 'bits'.
If I was going to buy a small lathe the first place i would start would be an auction of a LARGE company thats gone bust - 9 times out of 10 they have a little used toolroom with a fully loaded 'Colchester Student' or similar thats rarely used, and 99% of the people at the auction are only intested in the CNC centers etc. In the UK you can somtimes pick them up for £ 1000.00 or less, and they will always be worth their money, or more, in the future. With the tinternet its very easy to browse the aution catalogues, and place proxy bids to your maximum - you can sometimes get lucky with a cheeky bid.

Tech schools often dispose of 'out of date' eqm, again fully loaded for little money, or find an 'old boy' whos quiting his hobby and buy his pride & joy (usually a Myford or similar) with mountains of tooling acquired over the years.

oh, and one bit of advice ALWAYS remember to take the chuck key out!! (sounds obvious but theres more people than would admit to a near miss)
   John N - Thursday, 10/06/05 06:52:16 EDT

Jeff: Re Old Lathes

You made the right decision about that old lathe. Guru's and John's advice were sound, too. (I don't even see a tailstock in the photos.) As a full-time machinist for more than 40 years, I've run more than a few antique lathes. You definitely do not want to try to learn on that type of machine.

Not sure where you are located but if you can't find a trade school locally, check out the nearest junior college. Most of the ones here in the Pacific Northwest have a machine shop course. The price is a real bargain if you apply yourself. Above all, learn about the safety issues. I worked with a guy who had 15 years experience yet he cut off his thumb in about 1/100th second while sanding a piece in a lathe using a strip of emery cloth. Trust me, you don't even want to be the guy who DRIVES the poor man to the hospital.
   dschessher - Thursday, 10/06/05 08:38:08 EDT

Old Lathes: another possible source is to find a used machinery dealer, they will often have small lathes that they don't want to mess with and will let go reasonably as there just is no margin in a small manual system that takes up floor space that can be used for something they sell to the big boys! If you get friendly with a company like that you can get some amazing deals including "Come get it off the truck during lunch and it's yours"...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/06/05 10:27:04 EDT

John N. It is interesting that the economic conditions and buying at small shop auctions in the US and Britian are identical. The only difference is the brand names. Southbend toolroom lathes are common as both student lathes and old toolroom lathes. The 16" is a classic. There are other popular small brands. . . including some British made.

Buying the lathe with all the bits and pieces as well as extras is the ONLY way to go. As I have noted several times, they are worth MUCH more than the stripped down lathe.

For the $250 opening bid I would buy the lathe in question IF I could physically inspect it for wear and broken castings. I have several old lathes that need setting up that have the bits and pieces that would probably fit this lathe. The tooling certainly would. In fact I am looking at one localy now. The difference is that *I* have tooling and I know the limitations and caveats as well as having uses for a not-so complete lathe.

The only problem I have with folks trying to learn on an antique lathe is that many or worn to where is is VERY difficult and frustrating to hold a simple +/-.005" (0.13mm) tolerance or get a decent finish AND the feed clutches can often be sticky and dangerous. I have a friend that outfitted a shop with a half dozen machines ranging from a five foot swing monster to a little 10" Southbend. They all have serious operational problems. They get the job done but they are VERY quirky and take lots of attention. Otherwise if an antique lathe is in good working condition and has all the parts they are fine to learn on. The controls on all Engine lathes are virtualy the same until you get to very modern lathes that have geared heads with selector dials and foot operated brakes.

Chuck Key Safety: I was taught chuck key safety from when I was 10 years old and learning to run our little 6" Craftsman lathe (which I still have). When you learn this early you rarely have a problem, or at least I have not. But I have seen experianced machinists bend keys on the first day of operation of a new lathe as well as launch them through plate glass windows. . . Luckily neither was hurt. In both cases the keys were big enough that getting struck in the head would have been fatal.

If you are looking at buying more than one old lathe you can often mix and match tooling. The items that are interchangable on lathes from 12" up to 16" swing and often fit new lathes as well as old:

  • Drive dogs (work size dependent, fit all lathes).
  • Tool post tool holders and bits. Including left, right, center, boring, threading, knurling. . .
  • Centers, dead and live
  • Drill chucks with Morse tapers.
  • Morse tapered drills and attachments (bushings sometimes needed).
  • Chucks by fitting new backs (serious job but worth it).

    Ocassionaly interchangable between lathes of the same size:

  • Change gears
  • Steady rests
  • Milling attachments
  • Face plates (with matching spindle thread).
  • Threading dials

    The thing I like about my old 13" Southbend and my little Craftsman is that their spindle noses are standard coarse thread. This is NOT common. I have bought big nuts and welded them to pieces of plate to make; special face plates for friction driving, odd shaped work holders, set screw collets for square bar. Buzz box arc welders are handy for makeing lathe tooling too!
  •    - guru - Thursday, 10/06/05 10:28:21 EDT

    Note about above. The OLD 6" Craftman lathes had a 1-8 thread but the later Timken bearing spindles have a 1-10 (series) thread that nuts do not fit.

    Trade School Education: I just had this discussion with an aquaintence last week. A few months ago he was looking for a little lathe to build some project he was interested in. He was looking at the little "toy" lathes. I recommended he take the course at the local community college. He has since taken the course and thanked me profussly saying that now he can look at the pictures and listed capacities of the the machines he was considering buying and is thankfull he waited. The little machines were not suitable for what he wanted to do. I had tried to tell him they were not suitable but it is difficult to make people understand that the sales literature for these things is mostly hype. I've machined pieces that were as big as you could put in a small lathe and it is no picnic. You CAN do it but it takes forever and is hard on the machine.

    The rating you never see on lathes is the maximum weight part you should hang off the spindle. It is much less than what will fit and on small cheap machines it is proportionaly much less than on large heavy duty machines. I suspect it is about 30% of what will fit in steel.
       - guru - Thursday, 10/06/05 10:44:28 EDT


    For a hobbiest, what is your option on the lathes, mills, etc. being imported from Taiwan by Harbor Freight, Northern Tools and such. I have been fairly pleased with Taiwanese tools. Certainly seem to be head and shoulders above those coming in from the mainland.
       Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 10/06/05 11:33:48 EDT

    Guru, In my previous post I was refering to auctions at very large companies that have gone bump, who often had a toolroom hidden away on site somewhere, full of little used eqm. These are becoming increasingly frequent in the UK, it goes without saying all the small engineering shops are going bust aswell!

    -the (industrial) forging industry in the UK is on its knees especially
    However. we cant have it both ways, we like the cheap consumer goods & then moan industrys going to pot!

    I agree that the cheap ebay lathe will be right for someone, but not someone starting out with the intention of close tollerance precision work. - If i was buying a lathe for 'hobby use' I'd buy a fully equipped one, the primary reason? I get precious little spare time, so unless my new hobby was fixing lathes & tracking down parts i'ld rather spend my time doing turning work!
       John N - Thursday, 10/06/05 11:50:36 EDT

    Taiwan tools vary a lot but are all superior to Chinese. Jet brand tools seem to be well built and look good but I have no personal experiance. I DO have experiance with many of the tools sold by one of the major importers and purveyors of machine tool supplies and they are not worth fooling with even if they are a GIFT. These included things like motors mounted such that the belt could have never worked and the machine never operated at the factory or elsewhere, electrics that do not meet US standards and are very difficult to maintain.

    Here is how the Southeast asian market has worked:

    Japan builds big new plant. Uses it until newest technology makes it uneconomical (about 3-5 years). Many of these plants included the reverse engineered Bridgeport clones, small lathes and even automobile and electronics plants.

    Japan sells entire plant, tools, dies, patterns and building to Taiwan, India, Korea or whoever at auction.

    The buyers, usualy Taiwan and Korea manufacture same old product with slightly looser tolerances but much cheaper, keeps plants going much longer without retoolong. Japan UPs their quality with their newest plants as they want to be known for their quality NOT price. They have been very sucessful at that.

    China has been out of this loop until recently. Now they are buying plants from Korea and the US (depending on the politics of the moment) OR tooling up on their own. Some of their plants are old cold war era plants built with Soviet help. The problem being that they do everything as cheap as possible. This is not true of all plants but many.

    One small machine tool site that shows a tour of the plant in China that they were very proud of had photos of a poorly lit plant (lighting all from dirty windows) with dirt floors (or concrete covered with dirt). Most of the machines are manual relying on the skill and craftsmanship of the individual machinists (who are paid slave wages or piece work rates). The photo that impressed me was the "QA" department, a fellow sitting in a dark office trying to read bluprints and measure parts sitting on his desk. . . Folks, you KNOW you cannot do good hand work or read micrometers in the dark.

    In general you get what you pay for. When a Japanese machine sells for $20K, the Taiwan for $10K and the Chinese for $5K you are getting exactly what you pay for in quality and durability . . . maybe, if it works at all.

    Again, as noted by others, much of this problem has been importers asking for the cheapest possible products. Often they do not care if the product even works or not as we are a society of folks that do not return defective goods when we should. Currently mega tons of these products are being manufactured strictly for the ebay market where dealers come and go and returns can cost more than the product is worth.
       - guru - Thursday, 10/06/05 12:33:43 EDT

    Dremel replacement?
    I've had the same Dremel corded 30,000rrm-variable speed tool for 5 years of use in a small shop. It's probably worked 20 hours a week and has been my most reliable/versital power tool for small finishing, grinding, etching, etc. on steel.
    Now, despite new brushings [6th set] its throwing sparks form teh vents and smells pretty bad. I need ot replace it and am wondering if anyone has experience with a better tool? I've seen some flexshaft die grinder kits going for at least $250, usually more. A new Dremel with a flex shaft will cost me $80.

    So, Dremel or something else?
       MikeM OH - Thursday, 10/06/05 12:51:25 EDT

    I'm lookinh for about 50 pcs. of 1/4" square bar. Do you know of anyone that stocks it.
       Henry A. Wheeler - Thursday, 10/06/05 13:35:59 EDT

    Henry, 1/4" sq bar...

    What material? How long?
    Go to the Anvilfire Store, and Online Metals will have what you need, in a dozen different materials, cut to any length. From the drop down menu in the upper right of this screen, choose STORE and go on from there. I've bought a lot of material from Online Metals and they're great!

    Also, from the Anfilefire store, you can join CSI and support this incredible web site!
       MikeM OH - Thursday, 10/06/05 13:43:54 EDT

    I am looking for inserts for the top of a gate. My first problem is that I dont know what the inserts are called, and so dont know how to ask for them. They are commonly used and similar ones are in supply catalogs like Jansen and King. They are the ornamental pieces, often cast, either grape vine design, scrolls, oak leaves, or something of the sort. You weld them in place between two horizontal pieces of tubing that make up the gate top. What I am searching for are these pieces, in the form of olive branches. It would make a world of difference if I could figure out how to ask for them! Also if you have any leads to a supplier who may carry the olive branch design, I would be most grateful!!!
       Shelina - Thursday, 10/06/05 13:46:53 EDT

    Henry WHAT continent you on? Last time I bout some it was pretty cheap at a pipe and steel supplier in Las Cruces New Mexico---came in 20' lengths.

    Always seems strange that we have folks posting here from all over the world but folks still don't think that finding a *local* source will often be far faster and cheaper than one on the other side of the globe---leastways they forget to mention where they are at...having spent US$5000 on shipping blacksmithing stuff in the last couple of years I am *very* aware that shipping cost can be greater than purchase cost.

       Thomas P - Thursday, 10/06/05 14:01:44 EDT

    MikeM OH,

    I'm still using the same Foredom flexible shaft grinder that I've had for the past 36 years. Seems like it will keep going another thirty or so if I take care of it.
       vicopper - Thursday, 10/06/05 14:36:26 EDT

    Finial is the term you are looking for Shelina. Most of our guys make their own on the pickets. . . A finial is the top decorative element on a bar or post.

    The majority of other decorative elements do not have specific names, they are just elements given a descriptive name.

    The fabricator suppliers have thousands of pieces and the King catalog is the size of a medium size city phone book. Knowing you want finials is little help. You need the catalog.

    Despite the variety of what these folks carry most of the kind of thing you are talking about are made by the fabricator or blacksmith. The smith will make everything from scratch, the fabricator will purchase as much as he can, make what he can't and weld it all together.

    In the case of a vine crest the fabricator would purchase or make vine textured bar then weld on the appropriate type leaves and fruit purchased from a supplier.

    Blacksmiths do it ALL and if you need something really sharp to add to what you are building one of our guys would probably be glad to help you.
       - guru - Thursday, 10/06/05 14:39:59 EDT

    Dremel: I love these little tools but they are a VERY light duty machine suitable for very small work only. 90% of what is shown in the Dremel ads and literature (de-rusting lawn furniture) is guaranteed to destroy the tool on the first use. These tasks need an angle grinder with 1000 times the HP.

    A big user of these little gems is the guitar makers and luthiers. They use them to mill fret and bridge slots and route for edge trim. These wood working tasks are perfect for the Dremel. They are also good for very small light metal working projects of jeweler scale but nothing major.

    Dremels are a type of die grinder and probably as light duty as they come except for the little surgical ones. A few companies make heavier duty electric models but good ones are expensive and I was not happy with the durability of the Milwaukee we had with the plastic housing (broken from a hole whip around incident). The B&D it replaced cost 5 times as much and had an all metal body. It was a wonderful tool but they no longer make it.

    Air die grinders using 1/4" shank bits are the industry standard. They are lightweight and pack a LOT of HP into a small package. Even the cheap ones are fairly durable. If you have an air compressor they are the way to go.

    The Foredom flexible shaft tool mentioned by VIcopper is also a great tool and will use your Dremel bits. The only brand I know of that is worth purchasing is Foredom. There are cheap copies but a LOT can go wrong with a flexible shaft and the collet chuck. However, for the price you may consider buying several Dremels as consumable tools. . .
       - guru - Thursday, 10/06/05 15:32:50 EDT

    I've found the front bearings on the dremels fail fairly quick if you do much side pressure stuff. I've gone to the 1/8 collet air grinder. Harbor freight has them for ridiculously cheap, but as Guru sez you need a compressor.
       Mani - Thursday, 10/06/05 15:57:57 EDT

    Dremel: I have a dremel and love it, for Light Stuff. For the harder work I have a Makita 1/4" electric die grinder, works great, and 2 air die grinders. One is an inline, the other a 90 degree head, these are the cheapo ones and they work great also. Remeber to oil them!
       blackbart - Thursday, 10/06/05 16:19:19 EDT

    A finial from what I understood is a small piece that is a topper, like a few inches across, the ones I am trying to find are more like a foot long, by six inches high or so. I want to say frieze, but I dont think that's right. I do have the King catalog, and think its great (huge!) but cannot find olive branches of any sort in there. I was worried that maybe they were a custom made piece. I used to work at a blacksmtih shop here, but no longer do any blacksmithing, just fabricating now (and I do miss it!) It may be a possibility to have them make something...

    Thanks very much for your info! I am new to this site and love it so far!
       - Shelina - Thursday, 10/06/05 16:25:42 EDT

    Timex, Hugh, Copper coating. This has to do with brazing. Horseshoers can braze a grab on a shoe by using copper as the hard solder. If two pieces are in close contact and clean (borax), a brazed joint will result. The molten copper runs into the interfaces by capillary attraction.
       Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/06/05 17:19:37 EDT

    What does the "P" stand for in J.P.Hrisoulas name ?
       tetsuko - Thursday, 10/06/05 17:38:23 EDT

    Here a few of the bigger suppliers of cast accessories for "ornamental Iron".
    Lawler Foundry-www.lawlerfoundry.com
    These guys make a lot of the stuff people like King sell- King doesnt make anything, as far as I know. Lawler does, (or used to) do custom work as well.
    JG. Braun- this is a division of Wagner- Wagner makes all the pipe and railing stuff, JG Braun sells the fancier parts-www.jgbraun.com
    Julius Blum- another old supplier of fancy parts- www.juliusblum.com

    In many cases, the thing you need to do is call people up on the phone, and ask questions, and be persistant. The internet is great for looking at pictures, but it is a mile wide and an inch deep- many companies dont put everything on their websites, or dont upgrade, and they certainly dont post all the knowledge that they have. So you need to talk to real live people, describe what you want, and listen to what they have to say. Ask who else might have it, or who they think you could call.
    Sometimes you see something that is exactly what you want, and it turns out the reason you cant find it online is because some blacksmith with 30 years of experience made it from scratch.

    But it you have actually seen these olive branches before, and they are commercially made castings, chances are one of the above companies either has it or knows where to get it.
       - Ries - Thursday, 10/06/05 19:06:47 EDT

    The P stands for "Pointy".....(grin)
       quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/06/05 19:33:52 EDT

    How many CFM and what air presure does it take to run a 200# steam hammer?
       Danny D - Thursday, 10/06/05 21:40:31 EDT

    200 Pound Steam Hammer: All the old hammers were rated at 100 PSI air and 110 PSI steam (max 350°F) according to the Chambersburg Utility hammer installation manual. I do not have my Cburg manual handy but the 100 pound hammer called for 10 HP (35 CFM). I suspect that the 200 pound hammer needs a minimum of 15 HP (50 CFM) for industrial duty. However, You can run intermitently on less.

    The old hammers asked that you have a reciever (tank) near the hammer with full size piping between the tank and hammer. They specified a 19 Cubic Foot (140 gallon) reciever. A 200 pound Chambersburg had a 1" inlet pipe but could stand a 1-1/4.
       - guru - Thursday, 10/06/05 22:29:15 EDT

    Dremel replacement: 1/4" machines: The makita is a good tool for about $100 as noted Milwakee makes a better one, so does Bosh, but they cost more.Sears has one, but it is a little bulkey & not real powerfull, but not real expensive. A RotoZip or a laminate trimmer will work, but are bulkier. Bushings allow You to use 1/8" shanks in a 1/4" machine. Air grinders taje a lot of air if run for long periods of time, 1HP will not keep up with a medium size die grinder used continuously.The China cheapies in My opinion arent worth the $15 cost, they only look like the Makita.
       Dave Boyer - Thursday, 10/06/05 22:06:07 EDT

    Taiwan machine tools: The ones I have were built in the mid '80s, and are reasonably good tools, but there were better and worse ones even then. Part of the problem is inconsistency from unit to unit, some others were just cheaper from the start. I have a MSC bridgeport type mill that is pretty good, but the castings are a lot softer than the real McCoy, at least the ones made in the '60s & '70s. and the general fitup is not quite as good. I allso have a Kent manual surface grinder. This machine is extremely acurate, but the first one they delivered to My shop was not. I purchased it new from Action Machinery, they said they would stand behind it, and they did. The rep from Action took Me to the importer's wharehouse, I took indicators, surfaceplate, straightedge,a test bar, and grinding coolant. When we got there I inspected a machine, mounted the magnetic chuck, ground it true, and ground a test bar. That machine is in My shop today. Jet, Kent, and a few others that have established themselves as a brand seem to be a little more quality oriented than some others,buying from a full service dealer has it's advantages as I found out with my surface grinder. In a non precision, inexpensive tool You can take Your chances with a discount tool company. If You expect quality and have many thousand$ invested, You better go with a reputable full service dealer.
       Dave Boyer - Thursday, 10/06/05 22:28:31 EDT

    Worn Out Machine tools: My Granddad said "They never wear out, they just get miserable to use" When You are an apprentice, they tell You that "Anybody can do good work on a perfect machine" what they won't admit to is that nobody can do good work EXPEDIENTLY on a beat up machine that is fighting You every step of the way. Really old lathes had babbit spindle bearings, they get loose, but can be taken up if the spindle surface is smooth. Roller or ball bearings are more common, but when they start to go, You cant turn truly round work, and can't get a good finish, Scoring on ANY of the ways, bed, cross slide or compound is not a good sign, back gearing and feed gearing may be missing teeth, and half nuts can be worn beyond use or stripped. These are just a few problems that won't show in pictures, but are easily checked in person. As the Guru pointed out after You have some experience with machinery, You will know what to look for. Allso the learning curve can sometimes be hard on the equiptment, so if You can beat up a school's machines while learning, it is better than beating up Your own.
       Dave Boyer - Thursday, 10/06/05 22:48:34 EDT

    Dremel will repair or replace their grinders for $25, I recently dug out a old sleeve bearing grinder that was shot, sent it in and they sent me a shiny new on for $25
       - Hudson - Thursday, 10/06/05 23:14:36 EDT

    Old Worn Out Machine Tools: Some are useful, some are not. I have an old shaper that is on the way to the scrap pile. Nothing was worn out except the bull gear. This is a large complicated part that cannot be replaced economicaly. The wear resulted in wavy cuts and excessive tool wear. I hated to give up on this machine that cost me $800 plus setup. I am however keeping the vise, table and odds bits that may work on another machine.

    Milling machines that have worn feed screws or spindle splines will chatter. This eats up expensive milling cutters very rapidly, too rapidly to finish a simple job. Old Bridgeport machines tended to wear at the knee producing a table with slope that cannot be compensated for. You cannot even use these as a drill press as all the holes will be crooked.

    Old drill presses can be completely worn out and have sloppy spindles yet do acceptable work. Used with drill jig bushings they can do perfect work. Worn spindles tend to self align on center punched holes and if a very slight angle to the hole is not critical then they are fine and can be a money making machine (see iForge demo 118 & demo 121).

    Old lathes can be used for many tasks when completely worn out and missing pieces. They can be used for wood turning, metal spinning and polishing. Rough turning of things like tennons for ironwork does not require precision or automatic feeds. If the feeds work well (or fast enough) they can also be used to carry a cutting torch and then you have a machine torch that will do beautiful work.

    Old machine tools can be frustrating and expensive. I would not go out and spend a lot of money for one to do odd tasks. But if you have one that wore out in your service or cost little or nothing then they CAN BE useful tools IF you have room for them. Just do not expect to do fine work or get full service from them.
       - guru - Friday, 10/07/05 08:09:24 EDT

    RE: Flexable shaft stuff

    The back end of my (purchased used) Craftsman radial arm saw has a threaded output for (I imagine) a flexable shaft attachment. Has anyone experience with this setup? Is it worth the powder to blow it to Fresno?

    RE: Old Worn Out Machine Tools

    I picked up a Shopsmith for a good price ($30). I turned it on end, bolted it to my metal shelving, and now have a drill press that takes 1/2" shafts and can be belted to low turning speeds. The only problem is the mass of the head, but I can move it using my machinists hoist, and a block of 2x4 is a pretty good stop. I will keep all the tooling (wood lathe parts and so on) but do not expect to use it in its other functions.

    Clear and cool in CA. Had a job in Willits last week, the poisonoak is the prettiest red you can imagine. Fall has arrived in north CA.
       - David Hughes - Friday, 10/07/05 12:33:53 EDT

    I have been interested in Metalworking for a long time. I chose to follow another career path and have regretted not getting involved in metalwork sooner. I am looking for a place to learn all types of metalworking. I love in the Detroit, MI area and would like to know if there are any schools in my area where I can learn this trade. I am interested in classical Blacksmithing as well as welding and such others.

    Thanks for your assistance,
       Frank Kosciolek - Friday, 10/07/05 13:15:21 EDT

    Hello gang...

    I'm back and my wife is motivated to get her shop gone. Can anyone give me some contact person or persons of integrity to broker this equipment. I am available for all sorts of questions and I may even have some answers as I have found the original patent for the 1903 Modern Power Hammer and it explains some of the workings. Anyway, please help as we have all this stuff and we need the space and you get the idea. Many thanks to all...Pete
       Pete McKinl;ey - Friday, 10/07/05 14:19:40 EDT

    Frank, try http://www.tillersinternational.com/. They are over east of Kalamazoo. Also, check out http://www.miblacksmith.org. That is MABA, the Michigan Artist Blacksmith Association website. We have demo's thruout the state, that would be a good place for you to meet fellow smiths and learn techniques. Quite often we have some tailgate sales of equipment at the demo's. Actually, there is a demo near you November 13, in Romeo. Check the web site for more info.
       Bob H - Friday, 10/07/05 15:50:31 EDT

    tell us more aboput it, where it is and what the major items are.
       - Pete's wife's stuff - Friday, 10/07/05 15:54:08 EDT

    When I worked for a radiation therapy department, we had a machine shop with an "Exacto" Bridgeport clone and a "Goodway" lathe both made in Taiwan.

    The machinist was never quite happy with the mill, 'though that may have been as much for want of a variable speed drive as anything else. He did eventually get them to let him trade it in on a real Bridgeport with VSD.

    The lathe was satisfactory 'though he would have rather had a Colchester or Monarch. IIRC the "good" engine lathe at the local vo-tech is a Goodway.
       Taiwanese Tools - Friday, 10/07/05 17:38:57 EDT

    OOPS: I put the subject in instead of my name. . .
       John Lowther - Friday, 10/07/05 17:40:22 EDT

    Hello Guru and friends, I have a question on hardening a couple shooting targets I had made of 3/8 thick 12"x18" mild steel. I have read the hardening thread here and a few others sites but what I am planning on is using a torch to heat it to a low-medium red color and then quench it in salt water until it looses its color (redness)then remove and let air cool.
    I want it to be as hard as posible (could it get to AR500?) and not get brittle to the point where when shot it cracks. Can you give me some guidance so I dont ruin them and that wont cost me much money.
    Thanks in Advance
       Jim Troche - Friday, 10/07/05 19:10:04 EDT

    Jim, 1. Mild steel will not harden from a low-medium red. Lower carbon steel needs to be quenched from a cherry red or better. It will probably warp the plate. 2. It will not harden very deep into the plate. This is probably good as it will leave the core soft and tough. The surface may very well crack if you shoot it with anything more than a .22. 3. How do you think you are going to keep a piece of 3/8" plate 12x18 uniformly hot with a torch? I would just shoot the darn thing just as it is.
       quenchcrack - Friday, 10/07/05 19:47:03 EDT

    On drill presses, I've noticed many problems in drilling can be tracked to the support plate flexing under the pressure of the drill bit. This causes the drill to essentially jam in the hole. I helped my Taiwan-import one by making an adjustable stand to fit under the plate. Really helps. When I drill plate now stays level.
       Ken Scharabok - Friday, 10/07/05 20:36:27 EDT

    Ken Scharabok,
    I have noticed the exact same thing on three or four of the cheapie drill presses. If you look at the old heavy duty production presses the table supports were HUGE. At the valve plant we had a row of drill presses that drilled the center holes for pipe flanges. Even see the tap prill for a 4" pipe go through solid steel? Takes a very rigid machine.
    The one thing more than any other I learned from that plant, since most of the metal removal was twist drills in the early days is there is no single more important thing in a machine tool than rigidity, and the best way to get that rigidity is cast steel in heavy sections.
       ptree - Friday, 10/07/05 21:02:42 EDT

    Jim Troche,

    I've made and/or repaired a bunch of steel plate tip-over targets for our police department. Ours are made of 1/4" mild steel (A-36) plate for the most part, and are not hardened. At least, not deliberately hardened; there is some inevitable hardening in tyhe heat-affected-zone near weldments. Nonetheless, we shoot them with 9mm and .40S&W without excess dinging. Ultimately, after a few tens of thousands of hits, a target will begin to break welds or show stress cracks. Hardening will NOT help this, it will only aggravate the stress cracking problem.

    You should have no trouble with the 3/8" plate for medium caliber pistol ammo. If you're planning to use high velocity jacketed rifle rounds, or AP rounds, then all bets are off. Again, hardening wouldn't help this, it would only make it worse. You would need to go to a heavier plate, a higher tensile strength alloy and special heat treating to get significant improvement over your plain mild steel.

    I would take Quenchcrack's ( a real metallurgist) advice and just blast away. Nothing that you shoot at repeatedly will last forever, but if you stay within the parameters outlined above, you should get good life out of the targets.
       vicopper - Friday, 10/07/05 21:34:58 EDT

    Jim Troche,

    One addendum to my post above:

    Our targets are tip-overs, as I mentioned. The more freely that the target can move when hit, the less it will be damaged by impact. If they are to tip over, set the balance point so that a couple of pounds of push will tip them. If they are to spin out of the way, considere doubling up on the thickness at the pivot axis, as this is where they will absorb the most energy from impact of projectiles.
       vicopper - Friday, 10/07/05 21:38:18 EDT

    From experience gained in My youth I can tell You that a .308 Winchester hunting round will punch right through a 3/8 mild steel plate, the slug it takes out is about 5/8"in diameter and shaped like 1/2 of a sphere. My Dad didn't think a jacketed soft point slug would go through. I have seen pictures where a 444 Marlin round penetrated a 3/8 plate allso. The 12Ga slug just left a serious divet and bent the plate, but it hit near the edge.
       Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/07/05 23:31:11 EDT

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