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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 24 - 31, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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More Mice: Just about now I usually throw two to four mothballs in each drawer of my tool chests. Amazing what they don't chew up they pee on, and mouse urine can make a mess of nice tools.

Off to Cumberland, Maryland on Tuesday & Wednesday to help C & O canal NHP. (www.nps.gov/choh/) We'll see if my new laptop works.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 10/23/06 23:33:26 EDT

Bruce, up where Adam and Miles live rust is the least of their mouse pee worrys---remember Hanta Virus?

I've been letting the cat in my shop and just putting up with him knocking things off the shelves as he attaempts to scale to the roof peak.

   TPowers - Monday, 10/23/06 23:53:42 EDT

John L - Victor: The trend in retailing is to stock fewer items to cut inventory costs. Here in the US, industry in general is in decline. Altho Victor is owned by Thermal Arc, who does make plasma cutters, I don't think there is an intent to influence the market towards plasma. Victor is one of the companies that is positioned to stay arround I think. I wouldn't worry about getting a non Victor brand but compatable tip if it works OK. There are compatable tips made by US companies and those made elsewhare. There can be a big difference in price.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 10/24/06 00:02:16 EDT

John L: Check out eBay. When I did a keyword search on victor tip I came up with 83 listings. Didn't check for store listings but suspect there are more there.

As with anything on eBay pay attention to the S&H charges. When someone lists on eBay in a regular auction (none store) they pay an initial listing fee based on opening bid price. Temptation is for sellers to make it low, but to pad their profit in S&H charges.

My personal bidding technique is to determine what is the absolute most I'm willing to pay delivered to me. I then subtract out S&H and that is normally my one (only) bid price. I'm normally outbid but I don't end up paying more than I wanted to nor does last second sniping bother me.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/24/06 01:56:53 EDT

Thanks guru, thanks Thomas,
I'll get a CO Alarm and figure out the ventilation.
Is there any way to forge safe and warm during the winter time?(smile) I also have oxcy/act with rose bud tip - I'll be working with sheet steel, forming and welding. Which process is better for the winter? I have a big/ high ceiling, heated studio with venting system for tig welder next to a garage.I am wondering if I can use rose bud in the studio instead of propane forge in the cold garage. It gets cold in cleveland, Ohio.
   - Jee - Tuesday, 10/24/06 02:02:27 EDT

The only way to heat a ventilated area effectively is by radiant heat. This way You are heating the objects radiated on [YOU] instead of trying to heat the air which is continually being exhausted. There are celing mounted vented gas radiant heaters, they work great but should be installed about 10 feet or more above the floor. An unvented wall mounted unit pointing toward Your back would work too,[with ventilation] as the front of You will get heated by the forge. The rosebud will require the same precautions as the forge if used any ammount of time.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 10/24/06 03:20:44 EDT

Easy way to get rid of mice in the smithy: Build a small ramp leading over to the middle of the quench bucket. Hang a smelly piece of cheese on a string and center it above the bucket. The mice will try to get the cheese, but will end up falling in the water, eventually drowning. This is a very old technique that almost always works. Happens to me by accident with my oversized dog bowls. Mouse tries to get the dog food, ends up in their water.

By the way, how much stock do you invest in a smith who doesn't know what type of anvil he uses?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 10/24/06 08:33:14 EDT

Victor Equipment - Distribution Systems: I have not bought welding equipment in an eon or so. However, my regular welding supplier used to have just about everything victor made in stock except for industrial machine torch bodies. But I DID buy an angle attachement from stock to fit an industrial body. . . My supplier is pretty much the same business but there may have been changes.

What I have seen happening in the distribution network is there are more and more stores (everyone from the corner hardware or auto supply to Lowes) carrying the top selling items of various industrial lines. These folks are NOT full service dealers. Up until the 1980's about the only place you could purchase industial quality tools was from a REAL industrial supplier who was also usually a full service parts and repair operation. When the big box stores started to carry the most popular items profits plummeted for the full service guys. When profits drop the first thing you do is reduce inventory.

Consider a small example. I am one of the few, perhaps only dealer that carries the full line of ITC products and has 100% of the ITC literature available. However, ITC-100 is the "flagship" product that supports keeping the inventory or other products on hand. As more and more dealers in the blacksmithing field pick up selling ITC-100 only my sales drop an I have to look at what inventory I keep. . . Perhaps at some point I will stop carrying the full line. . . then there is less choice for the you the customer.

At one time manufacturers understood having good strong distributors that carried a full line was good for the product and the manufacturer and the distributor. But greed and pressure from the giant big box stores changed this system to what we have today.

Recent Industrial History:

The other thing that happened was the corporate takeovers of the 1980's. Prior to that time manufactures saw it as good business, as a SERVICE to their customers to keep a large inventory on hand including the full line of their product. But when the corporate raiders took over inventory became a dirty word. You had to make the product and ship it out the door. Low production items were droped. That favorite little file that did just ONE job perfectly GONE! Those bearings that only fit a 1950 Chevy transmission and a few dozen specialty machines GONE! If someone wanted them they would have to order a production run of thousands several years in advance. . .

In the 1970's and 80's we were in the business of building special machine tools. Although they were one offs they also COULD have been prototypes for future machines that might have employed a small town's population of workers in various fields. To build these machines we relied on available components in great variety. Today this variety is maybe 10% of what it was. The foundries we used no longer exist, the steel plate we used in no longer available without ordering it from China.

If we had to do the same jobs we did in the 1980's (repairing a number of key nuclear power plants) I do not think we could do it due to lack of parts and raw materials in inventory. I am sure this has been a huge effect on other industries and thousands of small businesses that support industry in the US.

We have shot ourselves in the foot and are in a huge industrial decline. Some of you see it. Obviously our government does not or does not care. It is by far the greatest danger our country (the US) is facing and nobody recognises it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 09:19:59 EDT

Guru I knew a person who worked for a gasket manufacturer who still did "special order", they would get in a handfull of shreds and create a replacement for it, they were the only company that still provided gaskets for a compressor built so long ago that the bolt circle had been put in by eye! So at regular intervals they would build and ship these gaskets on a per machine basis to a petroleum plant somewhere in South America.

Don't know if they are still in business thesedays...

When I worked for AT&T they guarenteed to support a platform for 20 years; I used to sit in meetings where they were discussing sourcing items that had not been made in 15 years and when something was going to drop out of production they would make "lifetime buys"---enough spares to cover the expected lifetime of the equipment. It was an expensive way to do business but as a regulated monopoly we had the best phone service in the world!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/24/06 11:13:49 EDT

In his great book Sparrows Point, about the vast Bethlehem Steel mill and shipyard of that name outside Baltimore, writer Mark Reutter quoted a Fortune Magazine article quoting a Bethlehem comptroller saying, "We are not in the business of making ships or making steel or building buildings. We are in the business of making money," or words to that effect. I do not believe American industrialists thought that way once upon a time-- one has but to look at the quality inherent in most old tools, far and away beyond what was necessary, to see that this is true-- and when they started doing so is when the trouble began.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/24/06 11:18:35 EDT

TPowers-- Hey, bro, don't sweat it-- after you have lived here a while, you develop antibodies to hanta virus, bubonic plague, septicemic plague and pneumonic plague, rattlesnake, black widow and brown recluse bites. And, Jee, you find that if you keep moving around a bit and if you wear your thermies and a good woollen watch cap, at least until the sun gets up, anything above zero degrees F. is okay in or outside the shop. At least that is our finding after some years of study here at Entropy Research at 7,000 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Rockies.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/24/06 11:27:00 EDT

Nippulini: Until Richard Postman came out with Anvils in America few smiths basically knew anything about their anvil. The more I refer to it the more I realize what an incredible piece of work it is.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/24/06 12:45:32 EDT

Many anvils have also had their markings obliterated by use/abuse as they were tools not collectables---I have an anvil that came out of an AZ copper mine (I got it in OH and moved it to NM...) that is nameless but most likely a trenton due to the base indentation. The "name" side has been ground flat.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/24/06 13:19:59 EDT

Bad Litrary Discriptions of Bellows: Thomas, I was looking for a bellows description in De Re Metallica and found one in book VII p.224.

Parts left out and incorrect description.
Describes a valve on the middle board but has it attached to the bottom (it will not work). Fails to describe a valve on the bottom of the bellows at all, this after giving a careful description of dimensions and the middle valve. . .

Built to this description the double chambered bellows would work very poorly as a single chambered bellows with no intake valve. It is obviously an error or misstranslation as anyone building a double chambered bellows would know that there are valves on both the middle and bottom board and they are both on top of each board (identical) and work by gravity.

In book IX of De Re Metallica they list "bellows used with furnaces - prior to 1500 BC" without specifics. They go on to describe the construction of the bellows but do not describe the valve in the stationary middle board. It is illustrated but not described. So if you go by the written word you again have a bellows that will not work.

Somewhere you have to assume that if someone is making something of a given level of sophistication that they know what parts are needed. I cannot believe that someone with the skills to build a wood and leather bellows and would go to the trouble of building one that they would not understand a smiple flap valve is needed to let air in.

Now, the one illustration makes it obvious that there are valves in both boards AND a relief valve or opening in the top board. But the WORDS are not clear in either case.

I know the rule of historians is not to make any statement you cannot prove but proof by others writings is based on the state of the language, their ability to describe and the translator's ability to read the mind of someone long passed in a language not their own. ..
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 13:48:23 EDT

Quality of Regulated Monopolies: I have mixed opinions on this. I believe that AT&T produced the absolute most durable and well designed phone hardware we will will ever see in history. But I am not sure if they provided the BEST system. The law of the country provided that service be available under certain conditions and that public telephones were readily available, EVEN on Interstate highways and country roads in the middle of nowhere.

Somewhere between the stagnant conditions of total regulation and the chaos of complete deregulation there must be a better medium.

In Costa Rica the phone and electric are nationalized ustilities. They are very democratic and the service equaly poor or equally good to everyone depending on how you look at it. However, they do an excellent job for such a small relatively poor country.

In the US your level of service is the luck of the draw depending on where you are. If you happen to be in a profitable area for utilities you have many choices but if you are in the wrong rural area you may have few or no choices at all. The free market still leaves people with monopolystic services but without the advantage of a regulated monopoly.

But where we are really in trouble is in industry that is necessary for our security. The need to buy steel from China to build ships or components from Mexico to wire a home OR most of our oil from small countries run by Kings and petty dictators is a disaster waiting to happen.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 14:29:22 EDT

Knowing the tools one uses: I am a bit of a toolaholic and like to know these things but as mentioned above there was a huge gap in the knowledge about the tools in our field between the 1950's and now. What I knew about my anvils was pretty much written on them, "Kohlswa Sweden", "M & H Armitage, ENGLAND". But as noted here many times there are lots of anvils that are unmarked and the only hint of who made them is sometimes the fine details of manufacturing.

I was lucky in having a friend, Josh Greenwood who had known and delt with the late great wild Bill Gichner for a long time and was a close friend of historian and swage block maker Wally Yater. From these sources he knew some of the history of Hay-Budden and the difference between a Peter Wright and other anvils. I too have known both men but never had the kind of dealings with them that let me glean these important tid bits from them. Josh was also a finder and wheeler dealer and learned a great deal from buying and selling tools and I learned what little I knew about many of these things from him. This was all pre Internet era when you had to travel to take time and physicaly MEET people to have long discussions about industrial history.

Richard Postman's book was definitely a land mark reference on the subject of anvils. It is the kind of reference every tool collector and toolaholoic would like to see on every type of tool and machine. But it is actualy a rare reference that was a work of love by an unusual person. Luckily he has had great sales and is now into the fourth printing. Many authors of odd ball references never break even and are lucky to sell the first printing.

Although I am of a different cut I would never judge a man by what he knows about his tools. Judge him by what he can DO with those tools.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 15:01:22 EDT

Machined sides on Anvils: I have detail drawings of anvils that show the off side machined square to the face for about 4". I have seen this on a number of odd anvils that had been done after market.

Then on the classic German anvil the sloped face on the off side is normally finished (machined and/or ground).

And yes, on many anvils this obliterates the manufacturer's name.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 15:19:17 EDT

I have recieved Horrifying news :(
my friend got back to me on steel prices, and, here they are, 12" long X 4" Wide X 10 " high will Cost me 830 Canadian, when tempered to rockwell 36 a horn peice for that that is 4 inch round and 8 inches long, then machined to a horn shape, with a 1/4 inch point will cost 55 dollars, and for a 5 inch by 5 inch by 10 inch tall peice , for use as a bladesmithing anviil, will cost 260 dollars , canadian, and be tempered to 36 rockwell,is that to be expected, or is it incredibly expensive?
   Cameron - Tuesday, 10/24/06 16:11:15 EDT

do you Know if Buffalo Machine of Niagra,Inc is still selling machinery& parts for the Buffalo Iron workers ?
   JMC - Tuesday, 10/24/06 16:36:50 EDT

Cameron, Yes, that is to be expected. When you said you had a friend that could get you steel I figured it was either a "government" deal or you were going to shocked.

You can buy a good anvil for much less than a simple block of heat treated steel.

This kind of DIY (anvil making) relies on finding a cheap or FREE source of heavy scrap steel. Even then the sweat equity put into shaping and grinding or hardfacing and grinding is a serious investment in labor. Guys who do it have the tools and equipment (torches, welders, grinders) and a good source of steel (scrap from their own machine shop) rarely consider the actual costs.

The Holy Grail for this kind of project is BIG hunks of steel. Same for building a Junk Yard Hammer. Even at scrap prices you can pay hundrreds of dollars for a piece of steel suitable for a power hammer anvil.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 16:46:20 EDT

"Machined sides on Anvils: I have detail drawings of anvils that show the off side machined square to the face for about 4". I have seen this on a number of odd anvils that had been done after market.'

I've seen what I suspect is the same time of anvil on eBay from time to time. Believe all were in England and may have been associated with a particular brand of powerhammer (Blacker?.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/24/06 16:49:20 EDT

The Buffalo Machine web site is defunct so the company MAY be defunct. However, many companies that have no faith in the Internet. .

Buffalo Machine Tool
4935 Lockport Rd
Lockport, NY 14095

716 625 9830

The phone rang but I got no answer after 5:00PM Eastern. You may want to try during business hours.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 16:58:56 EDT

Machined Sides: Both the Blacker and Bradley helve hammers used anvils with a machined side. However, the drawings I have are for a range of blacksmiths anvils from 100 to 300 pounds and are not intended as a machine part. The machined sides are simply intended to be a finished side working surface of the anvil.

Fisher Norris made the anvils for Bradley.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 17:05:19 EDT


I have a question Regarding a Triangle dinner bell.

I have made a dinner bell for a client and was wondering what you would Suggest for a finish on it. I was thinking something along the line of paint but I'm scared that the paint will take some of the ring out of the dinner bell. Maybe something more along the lines of a nature finish like beeswax?
Any help here is Appreciated.
Thanks in advance

   - TimothyJD - Tuesday, 10/24/06 17:14:47 EDT


Wow, more than $700.00 US for 135 pounds of steel?! A really nice "NEW" 135 pound anvil might cost the same, but there are pretty good anvils for much less. A 165 pound Peddinghaus from "BlacksmithsDepot.com" is $875.00 U.S.

36 rockwell is pretty soft as anvils go, good ones are around 50, some even more!
   - grant - Tuesday, 10/24/06 18:17:47 EDT

Triangles:, Timothy, I have made hundreds of these and there in no finish that will hold up to the banging with the striker. A thin coat of flat black is best but the triangle will need to be refinished by the customer on a regular bassis if they want it not to rust.

Beeswax and oil finishes are temporary and let the iron rust under them. They are best applied over a rusted surface so that the color does not change with time.

Refinishing the wax and oil finishes is also required.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 18:21:16 EDT

Triangle finish:

Good tight firescale and a wipe down with Vaseline. Repeaet as necessary. The Vaseline is basically the same as Cosmoline (of military hardware fame) and lasts a long time. As Jock said, no paint is going to last.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 10/24/06 18:35:06 EDT

Guru; I don't recall *any* double chambered bellows in DRM; all single action and ganged, often water driven. Are you sure it was supposed to be a double lunger? I'll get home too late tonight to check; perhaps during breakfast.

De Re Regulated Moonopolies: well at the same time in the US you could get a new phone installed and active in 1-2 weeks max it was up to two years in places in Europe (France for example)

My anvil missing the markings had been used as a welding fixture and the ground off side was the least of the damage---the face was thick and looked nearly untouched until the gouging from the mine welders left it "textured" in several places but at 407# it's nice to have a "hardwork" anvil or a dedicated tooling holder.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/24/06 19:06:13 EDT

Anvil damage.

One thing that American smiths did, at least west of the Mississippi, was to test their tools on the sides of the anvil, usually the side opposite the worker. They would harden and temper dirt picks etc., and supposedly "test the edge or point" by driving or swinging the tools into the side of the anvil. To my way of thinking, SACRILEGE! Why not test on a piece of scrap iron?
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/24/06 19:25:15 EDT

Hey y'all another question about a blacksmithing degree.
just letting everyone know that the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale has a metalsmithing masters or bachlors. which includes blacksmithing silver and gold smithing. Another question is, is there money in blacksmithing a a full time job, or would it be more reasonable to do farrier work and just do generic blacksmithing on the side?? Another question, does anyone know the very best farrier school in the country??

thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Tuesday, 10/24/06 21:33:11 EDT

Anvil Damage: Frank, It was not just in the West. My 200 pound Hay-Budden has big sharp chisel cuts all down the sides of the corners making sharp "teeth". I figured it was the smith braging OR demonstrating the hardness and sharpness of tools he had made. "See here folks, this tool will even cut an anvil!"

I've left them as-is as a curiosity. At one time I thought about hammering the teeth back to the corners they came out off. Now I see they have an historical signifigance. You never know what you are hiding.

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 21:56:54 EDT

I think its quite likely that Buffalo has finally gone under for the last time. Until recently, their website worked.

They have not been selling much for quite a while- they continued to try to sell very old designs of ironworkers, angle rolls and drill presses at very high prices, while ignoring all the design innovations of their competitors for the last 50 to 80 years.
Plus, they were severely undercapitalized, and therefore did not advertise, or attend trade shows.

What parts do you need for your buffalo?
Replacement Shear blades and punches are widely available from aftermarket suppliers.
Cleveland punch and die, and American Punch both can sell you these- and both will come up as the first listing if you google em.
Bigger, proprietary parts for the Buffalo ironworkers have effectively been unavailable for a while- prices from Buffalo were quite high. The main frames are fabricated in the oldest models, then cast for a while, and finally fabricated again, so many are repairable by welding. But major parts will probably have to be custom made by a machine shop at this point.
   - ries - Tuesday, 10/24/06 21:58:05 EDT

Bellows in DRM, Thomas, the one I first mentioned IS a double chambered bellows (Book VII p.227). The second one for a smelting operation is not. My mistake. Too many pieces in the illustration. . . . However, the description (word picture) of both is confusing.

After studying the drawings of the parts for a while I was even more confused. There are either too many options, too many views or too many types shown in the drawing with all the parts. In two places the nozzel end is shown fixed but in other places the boards attaching to it are hinged on both sides.

However the first one in the book called a "goldsmiths" bellows is double chambered.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 21:58:06 EDT

BS BS: Andrew, As I stated in my long postings on blacksmithing education a big part is the business end and what YOU make of it. If you are a lousy business person you will make little or no money. If you are a great business person and entrepreneur you will make as much as you want.

Note however that there is a limit to how much you can make from your own labors as an individual. At some point to make more you must employ other people and pay them less than what you would pay yourself.

It is not the Art nor the Artist it is how he sells himself and his work. People with no moral compunctions have made millions selling crap while fine artists that have scruples starve.

You cannot ask "How much does an entrepreneur make?", there is no answer. This is not like going to work for XYZ corporation where a person at X level makes THIS. Or what does the average fireman, school teacher or cop make? There is no average, there is no standard. There is only you and your goals.

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 22:09:08 EDT

Frank, I was actually TAUGHT to do that. In the shop I apprenticed in any tool was "proofed" for the customer that way! Scrap iron wouldn't have had the same effect, everyone "knows" that an anvil is hard, right? Just showmanship, but folks want that. Never failed to put a satisfied grin on the customer's face.
   - grant - Tuesday, 10/24/06 22:26:44 EDT

Andrew B.

Don't know the best farrier school, but Chris Gregory of Heartland School is hot. If I had to do it over, I'm thinking I would have a combo smithing and shoeing shop, not a traveling rig. One end of the shop would have a thick wooden shoeing floor with cross-ties and farriery tooling. The rest of the shop would be for ornamental and toolsmithing.

The idea of a fixed shoeing area is that you'll never again have to shoe on a manure pile, a hillside, or tie to a single post or a pitiful little hitching post that the horse can pull out of the ground. You won't have the customer looking over your shoulder telling you that "You really don't get along with animals do you?", while you're getting drug, bit, pawed, and laid on. Many horse people have enough money to have a horse trailer. They can leave the horse in the morning and pick it up later in the day.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/24/06 22:45:39 EDT


Regardless of whether it was taught or regardless of the customer's grin, my opinion is that chopping into an anvil is pitiable. I've had at least a half dozen such anvils go through my hands over the years.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/24/06 22:54:27 EDT

Andrew B. Anvil magazine is the premium publication covering the farrier trade. You can find them at www.anvilmag.com. Likely they can give you a list of recommended full-time farrier schools. When looking at the course cost also factor in your travel and living expenses while attending. Be prepared for sticker shock.

Be aware there is a WHOLE lot more to farrier work than pulling off an old shoe, doing a bit of trim work and then nailing on another shoe. Competent farriers require an extensive knowledge of horse anatomy, including procedures required to correct problems. Some owners of high value horses, such as racing or show horses, wouldn't allow anyone to touch their animal who wasn't a practicing veterinarian highly skilled in horses.

Go either to Centaur Forge or Pieh Tool Co. (both anvilfire advertisers) and look through their selection of horseshoes. Each style is for a particular application.

If you are interested in it as a career go to www.amazon.com and do a keyword search on horseshoeing. Write down some of the titles and then have your local library obtain a loaner copy for you. Read them cover to cover.

One of the children of friends was toying with the idea of being a veterinarian. I loaned her my copy of The Merck Veterinary Manual. She came to the proper conclusion veterinarian school would be essentially like medical school but on a wide range of species.

There is an signficant expenses involved in being a traveling farrier. You have the vehicle, the equipment needed and then the need to carry a fairly wide range of styles and sizes of horseshoes. As Frank noted most places will not be set up anywhere near ideal for the farrier.

Locally it runs about about $60 for a full shoeing and about $30 for a trim, done about every six to eight weeks, using a traveling farrier. A bit south of here there is a Amish or Mennonite who shoes, charges $37 for a full shoeing and probably does at least twice as good of a job. However, people have to bring their horses to him. He has the benefit of a fixed site set up the way he wants it. He primarily caters to the Amish/Mennonite community there. Other work is by word-of-mouth advertising alone.

One advantage here would be a captive audience if the farrier also make items on the side either out of new or used horseshoes or home decor hand-forged items.

I suspect the Carbondale program is a Bachelors or Masters in Fine Arts with a specialization in Metalworking. From what I have heard it is an excellent program but you are looking at the expenses of a full-time university program without a ready made career opportunity at the end.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 10/25/06 01:12:58 EDT

Pyramid 'capped' pickets?

I have a fence/gate project i'm working on, and i have a need for around 600 6' pickets (3/4" solid square) that have pyramid shaped 'caps'. Short of grinding or forging each one by hand, any suggestions?
   TPC - Wednesday, 10/25/06 02:55:48 EDT

TPC, get a copy of "Fabricator" magazine. A number of companies advertise just what you want. Lawler is one of them- Google "Lawler Line" or go to www.lawlerfoundry.com . If you drill and plug weld, they won't get knocked off the pickets.
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 10/25/06 07:03:55 EDT

Anvil heads: Please take a look at eBay # 190044646030. It is obviously a Peter Wright, but with a large hole in the middle. Seller says it doesn't appear to have been drilled after manufacture. I can't think of any use for it as a specialty anvil. My speculation is it was a prototype of a method to reduce anvil weight while retaining size, much like the depressions in the bottom of some U.S. made anvils. Any other guesses?
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 10/25/06 07:39:42 EDT

TPC, Fabricator is published by NOMMA. http://www.nomma.org/

   - guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 07:48:01 EDT

Ken, Too much thinking! Too much relying on the owner. Its a drilled or bored hole for WHATEVER reason. Perhaps to practice. perhaps to show the ability to cut (like in the thread above about testing tools on the corners of soft wrought iton anvils), or maybe to support on a shaft for some reason, or make easy to lift. A machine capable of making this size hole has the capacity to make a surface smooth enough that with a little rust you could not tell it was machined. But it is (machined) its too round.

I have seen anvils used as thrust bearings for grist mills (twice!), weights for spike harrows, used for torch cutting practice, modifyed to be hammer dies, and as mail box stands. I'm sure a LONG LONG list of perverse uses of anvils could be assembled in short time.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 08:01:14 EDT

Add, As part of a cross sculpture, a cartoon weapon, a barbeque. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 08:10:59 EDT

Hummm, Andy Warhol might have taken that anvil, had a hole drilled through it and then placed it in a gallery for several hundred K's - and likely sold it as abstract art.

What might a blacksmith pay for Francis Whitaker's personal anvil?
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 10/25/06 10:02:00 EDT


For that quantity of SOLID pickets, the tool of choice is an upsetter. Grant Sarver is the maven of mashers around here and can tell you more, but I would find somebody nearby with one and have them form those pyramid caps. Welding on a bunch of points that are designed for square tube will be a pain. Even welding on points made for solid bar would be a nuisance and wouldn't look nearly as good as upset/forged ends.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 10/25/06 11:09:03 EDT

what i ment by "is there money in blacksmithing" was is it in high demand. Do people still want hand forged items? becasue the mechenized metalwear is starting to look more and more like it's hand forged, so are blacskmiths decreasing in number of full time businesses?

Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Wednesday, 10/25/06 11:17:25 EDT

Pointed Pickets: TPC, If all you need is a blunt point then hot cutting with a punch press works. In blacksmithing the equipment is used for "nipping". It is sort of like forging but all you are doing is using the corner of a piece of square stock for upper and lower dies. The press is set to ALMOST cut through. You nip one direction, then the other, quench and break off the remaining part. It is very fast.

The dies for this are pieces of HSS lathe cutter bit set in a v-block with clamping plates holding it in place. VERY durable, and 4 edges to use. However, this is a very specialized setup with little oter use.

You can also die forge longer points. BlacksmithsDepot sell tools by Grant Sarver that do this quickly and uniformly under a power hammer.

You could setup to forge these points at a cost of about $12 each including buying a forge, power hammer and air compressor to run it OR to buy a self contained hammer. If you price weld on caps, welding and labor cleaning them up you may be close to the same cost. The fellow at Big BLU said he would make you a set of special dies for makeing your points if you bought the whole outfit from them. . . When you are done you would have the machinery to use for many other purposes.

There are times when doing it yourself pays and when it does not. Check the prices on weld on caps and the price to forge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 11:56:28 EDT

Swords... I never thought I would actually need to post anything on the topic, but here goes. I'm hunting for a sword (or what will look like a sword in a scabbard) for a halloween costume. I'd like something that looks a little better than the "it's obviosly plastic". What I'm looking for is more of a foil type similar to the US Civil war era vs a giant broadsword. For the look I really only need a decent looking hilt and scabbard. I've found some cheap things online, but at this point, there's no place that won't cost a small fortune in shipping. I havn't actually looked in the Yellow pages under "Swords", but I have a feeling that won't be a popular subject. What types of places that are local to me would be likeley to carry something that will meet my needs. I'd like to avoid spending more than $50, and local for me is the Detroit metro area.
   David - Wednesday, 10/25/06 12:17:14 EDT

Guru, showing the same pieces from different views was fairly common in woodcuts as the expense of them meant that you overloaded them when possible.

OK I glanced at page 224 as you originally reported and didn't see mention of the bellows but didn't skim to page 227---I was in a hurry as I had to hightail it back to town likewise tonight. I know that the double lunged bellows came in from goldsmithing to blacksmithing during the renaissance though.

ANVIL, HOWEVER the weight stamps are right for the weight so the hole was *NOT* a retrofit but a factory job. I have seen several anvils with holes usually smaller and Sq for chainmaker's anvils where the hole holds a rest for end of the ling and the chain dependent during welding. I also own a bridge anvil that was made with a very large hollow section. I'd guess it was custom bespoke for a particular job.

Good starting price for the anvil though the seller is shooting himself in the foot on the shipping deal. If he wanted to go local the local paper or feed store bullitan board would be cheaper and easier than E-Bay!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/25/06 12:54:57 EDT

BUSINESS - ART: Andrew, There is a high demand in SOME PLACES. Then there is the demand you create as an entrepreneur.

As a farrier there is a high demand in SOME PLACES. As pointed out by Frank and others the life of a travelling farrier is hard and could be better managed at a central location under your control in the RIGHT LOCATION.

There are parts of the country where there is very little demand for hand forged products and hand made railings. These are the oppurtunity places for the entrepreneur that makes their own demand.

There are also the "HOT" places where new luxury construction is going on where a good smith can name his price. These locations change fairly quickly. The last real "hot spot" was the developements that went along with the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. There are also non so hot spots with steady work all over the country.

The point, the number ONE thing they talk about in many business courses is LOCATION, Location, location. . . . If you are willing to go where the business is then you are sure to make money. It can be done elsewhere but is a gamble. However, with high risk often come high rewards. If you refuse to go to where the best possible opportunity is then don't blame me for bad advise. . .

There are thousands of blacksmiths all over the world and their incomes vary from starving artist to upper middle class entrepreneur. None are rich, most are in the business because they love it.

The number of blacksmiths world wide is increasing as there is a greater appreciation for hand work AND there is more knowledge of the craft. Has the supply of blacksmiths outstripped the demand? I do not think so. Not yet. However, we are in a GLOBAL market. If you decide to make certain little crafty items you are in direct competition with slave wage manufacturers in China, India, Pakistan. If you decide to make mediocre traditional style architectural work you are in competition with the fabricators and the factories that make mediocre components (which to many look darn good). You must make not just what sells but what sells at a good price.

One blacksmith I know that never has a shortage of very high end jobs says the way to stay busy is to NEVER miss a deadline. When your customers are the rich and famous they are very few and they ALL know each other. IF they do not, then their architects and interior decorators and landscape designers who are even fewer all know each other and who they have worked with that has missed a deadline. Miss a deadline and you may never get another job. Meet every one and you are garanteed to keep busy.

This brings us to another point. If you underprice a job you will almost always lose respect with the client (even though they want it as cheap as possible), AND you will very likely miss the deadline because you had to take on other work to finance the job you underbid. Or you cannot afford help or pay the power bill. . . Underbid, lose future work, miss delivery dates, lose future work.

THEN there is YOU. This is not just a craft that anyone can learn and immediately make money. It is ART and as art there is the matter of your skill as an artist, your skill selling yourself as an artist, your skill in managing the business of an artist so that you can survive to the next job, and your skill as an entrepreneur in selecting a specialty and a location.

Most artists work hard for at least a decade before they have enough reputation and contacts that they are not constantly hustling for work or taking other jobs. Many who are very good artists fail because of all the reasons I have given above. Many burn out or give up before that steady flow of work starts coming in. Many lose their way and become something else.

There are no easy answers in this field. There is certainly no easy money and no positions with a retirement plan.

   - guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 13:03:05 EDT

Hey all, this is kind of related to the post above,
I might have just landed my first major job (as in bigger than an order for a dozen steel roses, which is no small job in itself:) ) A gentleman I know that is a photographer is interested in having a railing made to be placed in his home studio. The Menard's special "wrought iron" railing he bought is not meeting his customer's expectations, and he is looking for something a little more unique.
Unfortunately, I have never had to give a quote on a job this size before, and I remember that there was recently a post on here about how to figure up an estimate for large jobs. I believe it was posted in September, as I couldn't find it in the August archives. If it would not be too much trouble, could someone repost that "equation" or perhaps direct me to the source it came from?
Thank you all,
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Wednesday, 10/25/06 13:36:19 EDT

Who was the young man "across the pond" who wanted the American railroad spikes several months ago? Did he get them and what was he wanting to make with them?
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 10/25/06 14:36:47 EDT

At Quad-State 05 I was talking to someone who had known Bill Gishner. He said he once had a young woman ask him about how to price out ironwork and he relayed the question to Bill. At Q-S 06 I asked him to write it down so I can post it here - have not received write-up so far though.

As near as I can remember Bill's advise (and remember his parents were in the ornamental ironwork business in Washington, DC) went something like this: Figure out what it will cost you from pencil on paper to installation, then triple that. Then double that figure. When the customer starts to complain about cost, and wants a reduction, start taking things out of the design - never drop your price otherwise. Either the client will eventually agree to pay for quality work or find someone else to do the job. In the end you are likely better off in either case.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 10/25/06 15:10:59 EDT

Thomas P: I've found a lot of eBay sellers simply aren't familiar with shipping anything large in size and weight. Seller said buyer makes own shipping arrangements. This can be shipped by UPS so I asked seller if they would be willing to take it to a local UPS drop-off point if I paid the UPS bill. They said yes. Thus, don't take no on shipping as an absolute.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 10/25/06 15:15:17 EDT

Hi all i'm looking at repairing a Alldays & Onions N.S.K. compound pneumatic air hammer. what i like to know is there any place to get service info on this machine, or purchace any manuals? size is 5 Cwt. Any info would be appreiated.

Thanks Rick Gagnon
   Rick Gagnon - Wednesday, 10/25/06 15:17:29 EDT

Bidding Jobs: Just how big? How complicated?

Currently competitive hand made railing is going for $350 to as much as $1000 per running foot. A lot depends on the complexity of the railing.

Running foot rule of thumb numbers like the above are only good if you have experiance and know what your profit margin is on those rates and what density of work you produce for a given dollar figure. When it comes to high art gates and such those numbers go to the neighborhood of $10,000 per running foot. That is where those price it like you think it should be then double it then triple it. . (or just multiply by 6) and you may still underbid.

If you don't know and you HAVE to make money then you do it the hard way. You extimate every SECOND it requires to optain stock, unload it, cut it, work it, assemble it, finish it and install it. You break down every step to the smallest increment like so:

Get file:
      Walk to tool chest 8s.
      Open drawer 3s
      Fumble through junk 20s
      Extract file and close drawer 3s
      Go back to job 8s
      TOTAL 46s (round UP to 1 min.)

Saw stock to length (per piece - 5 each):
      Get stock (1) off rack (35s) 7s ea.
      Set in saw and measure 15s ea
      Align and clamp 15s
      Saw 15s
      Remove piece to stack 10s
      TOTAL 62s

Debur piece while sawing (15s):
      file one end 16s
      rotate 3s
      file second end 16s
      TOTAL 35s - 15s = 20s

      TOTAL to cut and debur 1,20 ea.
      25 pieces = 25,0 + 2 = 27 min.

Add 3 minutes to dust off saw for a round half hour.

So there is half an hour to saw 25 pieces. At our average one man $100 per hour shop rate that is about $2 ea. just to cut. If you cut 100 pieces you might add time to replace saw blade. OR if you know how often a saw blade wears out then add a per part time for that. . . See where experiance comes in. I would guess at 1 blade per 1,000 parts on MY saw.

I start out with a full day at some flat rate for picking up materials and a full day at that rate to deliver the work (if I do not install it). If you design the piece you need to add time for that. . .

This may seem like a picayune way to estimate costs but if you think through EVERY step (literally every move of your feet) and every blow of the hammer, stroke of the file, errand to get coal, gas, welding rod. . you can come darn close to reality IF you do not deny that "things" happen. To do this you may have to do a lot of guessing but a guess is better than a blank in this method. When you get to things like "clamp in bench while other end floats in air" you may find that you need stock stands or a sky hook. You may want to add these and any fixtures you make to the job.

You take your time multiplied by the shop rate and add material cost (the whole order and don't forget paint at +$100/gal. for good stuff) and that is your price not including the intrinsic value of the "art" if there is any. If you use that $100/hr shop rate and you work full time you would have a $50k annual income. That assumes a 50% productive time over a year and moderate overhead. Your mileage may vary. Note that if your expenses are what this number assumes if you reduce your hourly rate to $50/hr you have NO income. Establishing your shop overhead is a critical part of the equasion.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 20:12:57 EDT

JYH Question:
What would be considered an optimum top speed for a (my) Spare Tire Hammer? It has a 35# ram and I just upped the anvil from 90# to approximately 250#. I have 2 settings on my motor, 1140 and 1750. At 1140 (where I've been running it), I get about 160bpm max and at 1750 I climb to 220bpm. Faster usually equates to sloppier in my experience and I'm wondering if the extra speed would actually be a benefit or curse for ANY future project and is that too much speed for the hammer design?
   Thumper - Wednesday, 10/25/06 21:23:33 EDT

I forgot, still looking for info on a "Barth" bench shear and also the maker of a 5# flater with a logo punch that looks like a martini glass with an inverted "V" on the top and overhanging the edges of the "glass".
   Thumper - Wednesday, 10/25/06 21:38:06 EDT

JYH Speeds: Thumper, For that weight you are running slow. You should be able to run up to about 400 BPM. However, the optimum speed is dependant on the spring that catches and absorbs the upward inertia. To run at maximum capacity you need the correct spring to balance the inertia. If you have too weak a spring (or too much leverage in the toggles) then the maximum speed is slower.

Idealy the faster you go the harder the hammer hits IF everything is right. If the ram extends to much on the down stroke prior to contact then it will hit softer at high speed. This is the result of insufficient spring AND the ram set too high. The ram should be about normal work height (1/2" to 1" of die opening) with the machine at rest and the toggles tensioned until they make the straightest possible line for their geometry but no more.

If the hammer hits softer at a higher speed than a lower one then the lower speed should be the maximum for the machine.

For more details you need to study the Dave Manzer Little Giant Tune Up video and compare the performance to your hammer.

   - guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 22:30:31 EDT

David - sword shaped object: I have seen some at fleamarkets, I didn't look at them close enough to see the price, but they were being sold with the junk knives.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 10/25/06 22:37:58 EDT

Ron Childers,

The guy wanting the RR spikes was a young man named Al from Austria. I sent him about 35# of them. He at first thought to make knives, because he belongs to a German knife forum. I tried to talk him out of it, but he is determined. I think he tried to peddle some of the spikes to his buddies. I haven't received a followup on his activities. I think the spikes are unique to the U.S.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/26/06 00:18:57 EDT

I don't know what chopping the soft iron base of an anvil proves, or ever was thought to prove, but it was a custom, sure enough. My gorgeous old Paragon has lots of notches in yhe off side of its pedestal from chisel cuts, not put there by me but by the smiths who used the old beauty in the turpentine plant down in Minden, La. long time back.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/26/06 01:28:47 EDT

Rick Gagnon: Alldays & Onions were a MAJOR English manufacturer of shop equipment. Pretty well the full range of heavy metal. However, I doubt they sold all that much in the U.S. Exports may have been mostly to British colonies. You might want to contact the British Artist-Blackmith Ass'n to see if they can give you a lead.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 10/26/06 02:36:13 EDT

Hi, I was wondering if you could help me out, I am a 25 year old male who lives in Cardiff in the U.K. I have always been interested in blacksmithing and am interested in taking it up as a hobby, I was wondering if you had any links or information about any Blacksmiths near me in the U.K. thanks a lot
   Dwayne Wyatt - Thursday, 10/26/06 04:34:36 EDT

Dwayne, try www.baba.org.uk, that is the British Artist Blacksmiths' Association. They have a wonderful publication and meetings all over the country.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/26/06 09:22:57 EDT

Proof Cuts on Anvils: WHOM, besides a blacksmith knows that the base of a wrought anvil is soft while the face is glass hard? Showmanship!

THEN, NO SOURCE IN FACT, It is possible that the custom was started by some salesman for a wrought body anvil line because he knew you could not make that impressive curl in a cast iron or even a slightly harder cast steel anvil. . .

You know how stories get around and customs get started. In EVERY hammer shop some fellow will tell you he saw a guy put a pocket watch on a big hammer and tap it just light enough to make it move without hurting it and HE knew the only guy that did it. . . Well, it was the inventory of the first steam hammer James Nasmyth that used to do this demonstration. If fact he made it a point to carry a supply of cheap old pocket watches with him when he traveled. . The first couple taps he would just bounce the watch, THEN he flatten the watch into tinfoil. . I'm sure others have done this but they did not invent the demo.

TODAY stories spread at the speed of light. I once told Paw-Paw the THEORY that an aquaintence, Bobby Dobson of Virginia Beach had back in the 1980's. Bobbie's THEORY, which he emphasized repeatedly as a THEORY was that the reason that you find so many anvils in the South with broken horns is that during the US Civil War Northern sappers would break them off to reduce their usefulness. He was looking for evidence in the form of old orders, notes in someones journal of even tool marks that would lend credence to his theory. The subject came up as I was showing him my Colonial era anvil that it missing its horn.

Paw-paw loved this story and repeatedly told the story to anyone that would listen. The story spread to the point that Richard Postman tried to tell ME the story. I set him straight but I am not sure he believed me. He had been telling the story for about five years at that point. So MANY people had heard the Northern Sapper story from the world's expert on anvils and now almost every blacksmith renactor in the South tells it. . . In fact there is a demand for anvils with the horn missing now.

No one has proved this story as fact. It was made up by Bobby Dobson a fellow with quite a knack of telling stories in his own right. But this one he emphasized as his THEORY.

The fact is the South had a small industrial base before the war and much of it was destroyed during the war. Then after the war there was a very long period of poverty in the South where tools like anvils were quite rare and valuable thus used well beyond their useful life. I have two of these old broken anvils. One is so worn out that the top plate is worn through and loose at the center. The other is not nearly so old but shows much wear. These were both wrought English anvils where the horn was butt welded to the body. A lousy weld at best and when not perfect a great way for the highly stressed horn to seperate from the body.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/26/06 10:20:41 EDT

I have a wood stove. Inside the firebox, just behind the glass, is a fire fence. The base of it has tabs that fit in front of the firebox, the top has 2" 'teeth' that prevent the logs from resting on the front glass. The whole piece is rectangle shaped with a rectangular opening in middle. The problem is that the top piece (with the teeth) has bowed into the firebox and cracked. The bottom part is fine. I can still use this piece, but the bowing has reduced the space for logs in the firebox.

My question is whether the top piece of this fire fence can be staightened and reconnected. Thanks for your help.

   Julius - Thursday, 10/26/06 10:23:18 EDT

Gurus: all this chatter about mice gives me the hutzpah to ask a question that I have been sitting on. A long time ago, when I thought I wanted to be a jewler, I got a bunch of small tools (pin vices, dental picks, tweezers etc). Then I saw a tool making demo using forging, its been heavy metal since then. A year ago, I refound the smalls, they were in a old rollaway, and the mice had gotten in there and used the tools as a latrine. I have soaked them in both gasoline and paint thinner (my cleaners of choice) but the 'residue' is still very sticky. I hesitate to go at them with a wire brush, way too many. So the question, what is a good solvent for mickies urine? Or, should I just send it all to the recycler??? Thanks Tim in Orygun
   - Tim - Thursday, 10/26/06 11:37:51 EDT

Try soaking in vinegar over night, heck if it's strong enough to remove mill scale it should work on mouse pee.
   Thumper - Thursday, 10/26/06 11:48:58 EDT

More Mouse Droppings:

Thomas brought up the nastiness of HantaVirus infection. really a problem in rodent infested and occasional use buildings (like forges, for instance). The NPS has it's usual sage advice here:


So far, it's minimal through the East and South, but that could change drastically with a single season, an invasive infestation (don't pick up no hitch-hiking mice on your way from the Southwest) or better diagnosis or reporting.


It would be a shame to safely work hot stuff with heavy tools, and be dropped by a little rodent. ;-) This is one case where "thinking safety" includes where and how you store your lunch.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/26/06 12:25:34 EDT

Stove part: Julius, There are two materials this could be made from, cast iron and steel. Cast iron is not ductile and cannot be bent, however in wood stoves it often reaches temperatures high enough that it will distort. It is generally un repairable. Steel parts are quite maleable and can be straightened. However, steel in wood stoves often becomes burnt and brittle and will break like cast iron when you attempt to straighten it.

Generally a blacksmith, welder or a machinist will be able to look at the piece and tell what material it is from the way it was manufactured. If it is steel and not badly burned then it can be straightened. If it is cast iron you need to get a new piece OR have one fabricated from steel.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/26/06 12:48:30 EDT

Some of you may know Fred Caylor from the IN area. I heard him tell the story on being in the Navy during WW-II. He was part of the blacksmithing crew and their shop aboard a ship had a very large steam hammer. When they broke for lunch the old CPO would call down to the engine room to send up steam for the hammer. When it was there he used the hammer to crack a hardboiled egg. Then he would call back to tell the engine room he no longer needed steam.

Another such demo. is to stand one wooden match up in a box and then tap it back into the box.

Robb Gunter tells the story of having a requirement at the Sandis (sp?) Laboratory to destroy the guidance system from nuclear missiles under one of the SALT treaties. He developed a method to freeze them in liquid nitrogen and then one hit from a powerhammer turned it all into dust.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 10/26/06 13:01:02 EDT

Micky Mouse and Cat Urine: Both of these are difficult to remove and I have no good ideas (perhaps Hints from Hellouise).

In my early blacksmithing days I took up lock smithing and bought a large collection of key blanks. Where I had them stored on a board was accessable to the neighborhood Tom cat who pissed all over them. I suspect the brassy smell made him do it as they were on a board and difficult to get to. I soaked the keys in diswashing detergent and in vinegar and a few other things. They always came out smelling like cat piss so I gave up. That was 30 years ago. I think the last time I checked them they had "aired out". It only took 30 years. . . but I have not cut a key from them or handled them to warm them up so I am not sure. But for many years all you had to do was pass by the rack of keys on a damp day and you KNEW a Tom cat had been there. . .

I became a cat hater after this incident and consider them vermin the same as the mice they eat. Much later I found that I was allergic to cat dander and THAT had been the source of decades of athsma and hayfever. Give me a big black snake any day. . .

I generally clean small tools with WD-40 and leave a trace on the tools. In tough cases I will spray down the lot days ahead of cleaning. For those that are rusted or corroded I have a soft wire brush on a slow mandrel (1800 RPM). This does a nice job of rust removal from anything that is a little harder than mild steel without damaging the surface. But it IS work. You can do the same with fine steel wool.

You have to be careful soaking small precision tools in vinegar. High carbon steels are more sensitive to acids than low carbon and if the tools are plated OR some of the tools are plated OR have plated parts then the bimetalic corrosion from the acid can be severe ruining the tools, not just removing the rust.

Also NEVER use rust breakers like Liquid Wrench as a rust protectant. It contains compounds to break the rust that over a long period will CAUSE rust. WD-40 is different in that it is mearly a mixture of solvents (mostly kerosene) and light oil. When the kerosene evaporates there is a fine coating of oil left behind. When the kerosene in Liquid Wrench evaporates there is a fine coating of acid left that combines with moisture in the air causing agressive rust.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/26/06 13:11:44 EDT

Tim - Things soluble in water (like the solids in mouse urine) are often not soluble in oil (or gasoline or mineral spirits.)

Try a detergent solution to get the mouse urine off: Then oil the stuff to prevent further rust.

   John Lowther - Thursday, 10/26/06 13:21:44 EDT

Mouse urine: I put the items in the dishwasher, when my wife is at work, and run it. Then, after removing and drying, and oiling the tools, I run the DW again, to clean it up.

The silverware basket is great for little things. I even have a basket I fabed from Stainless mesh that I use only for this purpose. I can spread out small tools in it without fear that they will fall through and end up in the bottom of the DW. I keep this basket in the shop and load and unload it there. It is only in the DW while the DW is running.

Detergent and water removes the mouse urine better than organic solvents. I had a cat pee in my briefcase once and I found that hydrogen peroxide worked wonders in removing the odor from the fabric lining, after washing with detergent and water. It is not needed with the steel tools.

DON'T use vinegar on carbon steel tools!
   - John Odom - Thursday, 10/26/06 14:03:40 EDT

Ken Thanks for your info will try the British Artist blacksmith asss'n. this is a start thank you
   Rick Gagnon - Thursday, 10/26/06 15:24:18 EDT

Is it possible to control gas fired furnace tempatures?
If so, what is the known method to measure temperatures?
Another question is , what happens if I release nitrogen 5psi in the closed electric furnace?
   Jee - Thursday, 10/26/06 16:39:39 EDT

Jee, that sounds amazing like a textbook's homework questions.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/26/06 18:07:14 EDT

ok, ptree, English is my second.
Forging , you've guess it, newbie.
Do you have some amzing answers?
   Jee - Thursday, 10/26/06 18:12:36 EDT


Yes, you can control gas furnace temperatures. I tis done much the same way that a gas stove's oven is controlled. In the most basic form, a thermocouple controls a solenoid valve that turns the gas on and off. A pilot light/ignitor must be present at all times to ensure that no gas is flowing without burning. The type of thermocouple you use depends on the temperatures you wish to operate at. For forge temperatures, a type-K thermocouple will work.

There are a number of electronic controllers on the market that can be adapted to gas. As I said, the prime requirement with gas is ensuring that any time the gas flows, it burns. Gas stove use a 100% safety shutoff valve that closes the fuel lsupply if the pilot light is absent. One of these can be adapted to work for a forge, as well. An alternative is a spark ignitor like is used in a gas or oil furnace, but these require a timer/sensor to shut off the flow of gas if ignition fails for more than a few seconds.

I fyou check out the Omega website, they have a wealth of information on thermocouples and controllers, as does the American Gas Association.
   vicopper - Thursday, 10/26/06 18:32:20 EDT

Gas Furnace Controls: This is expensive business no matter how you do it. Besides the temperature measurment parts the controler is usualy not a stand alone affair. They have an internal ON/OFF relay that can control the burner but the burner itself often needs more than just on and off.

At a minimum you need electronic ignition to be sure to relight the burner. This is done with a spark plug tucked into a corner of the burner that is powered by a spark producing coil. I use the ignition coils from kerosene jet heaters as I have yet to get an automotive coil to make a spark from a transformer DC supply. The ignition can stay on all the time the burner is firing.

If a small fan with a speed control is used they often need to be started at full voltage. This means an time delay relay and a bypass circuit. I also found that the gas should not be turned on until the fan is up to speed (about 3 seconds). So the gas valve should open when the fan switches to controled mode.

Don Fogg only controls the gas on his salt pots and lets the fan run continously. However, this changes from the heat of the gas burner to cold fresh air.

Another way to control a gas furnace without large temperature swings is to have two burners. One is a pilot burner that is just big enough to keep the furnace warm and the the second is used to raise the temperature. This requires a ratio of about 3:1 between the two burners. Arranging them so they do not interfer with each other is a concern.

I've built a number of furnaces with automatic and semi-automatic controls and it is quite expensive if you buy good hardware and put it in a proper electrical enclosure.

N Nitrogen is a relatively inert gas alone and is a large part of the atmosphere. Dumping it into a kiln will have little effect. However, your question is not properly formed. Pressure has nothing to do with the volume of flow unless you have a known pipe and orrifice size. 5 PSI could be an immeasurable amount or enough to knock you over. If you put ENOUGH into a kiln it will reduce oxidation.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/26/06 22:22:49 EDT

Spark coil: For serious spark ignition, try a Model "T" coil and a Lionel Train transformer. A modern automotive coil needs more amperage than most "wall wart" type transformers supply.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 10/26/06 23:49:48 EDT

Thanks guru,Thanks vicopper.
The reason I ask about the nitrogen is for the sintering bronze process for the studio artist developed by the mr.Pilato and two other scientist - sculpture.org forum
1. cast bronze powder + binder.
2. Pack green sculpture in a alumina powder container using vibration table.
3.Nitrogen. 25 pounds pressure charged kilen 345 c burn out temp then, cut off the nitrogen , then 900 c for two hours then cool down 12 hours. - this is the part very unclear to me and to the others but never answered.

Of course I've tried to find out more about what nitrogen charged kilen(Pilato's word) means for two days - there are industrial sintering furnaces out there which I can't afford to buy. I called lindberg Inc about the atmospheric furnace, technician told me about what it meant by nitrogen charged funace, I thought he said 5pound pressure or so.

So I wanted to ask you and make sure nitrogen will not explore the closed electric kilen at 653F.

"If you put ENOUGH into a kiln it will reduce oxidation " - this is what I wanted to know.
   Jee - Thursday, 10/26/06 23:52:36 EDT

The state of New Mexico's health department recommends that areas infested with mice be sanitized by spraying with Clorox.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/26/06 23:55:36 EDT

But beware-- Clorox undiluted can chew up steel as well as viruses.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 10/27/06 00:00:45 EDT


The pressure of the nitrogen in a furnace is irrelevant, really. What matters is how thoroughly you have purged (replaced) all the oxygen. For that, you need a sufficient number of cubic feet a minute of nitrogen to replace the free oxygen that is being introduced by the burners and the vents. That applies to developing an inert atmosphere only.

The sintered bronze process may depend upon a sufficient nitrogen pressure to achieve, through the combination of heat/pressure/time, a chemical reaction that cannot be obtained otherwise. I don't know enough about the process to give you any advice on that.
   vicopper - Friday, 10/27/06 00:35:36 EDT

Thanks vicopper,
I am over extending my self here, back to the forging and forming. I have enough of materials, work, practice to do.
It was interesting but distracting exploration.
They are exploring microwave sintering now.
   Jee - Friday, 10/27/06 01:04:41 EDT

In a couple of our temperature-controlled gas furnaces at Punahou, the system was set up so that the primary burner valve train started with a ball valve from supply, and then split into a needle and a solenoid, and merged and went to the burner. This meant that when the temperature controller said "let it cool down", the burner would idle at the setting on the needle valve -- usually around 3psi. When the controller said "heat it up!", the solenoid opened and 30psi dropped in. Worked well. Not OSHA approved but could be with automatic ignition or a UV eye.
   T. Gold - Friday, 10/27/06 02:17:22 EDT

Frank, thanks, I was curious. I have a bunch of them. How do they attach the rails to the ties in other countries? I've never thought to look.

Jock, be careful; cat haters are destined to be reincarnated as mice....
   Ron Childers - Friday, 10/27/06 07:48:57 EDT

Disinfectant for Hantavirus:

Our Public Health Service officer recommended a 10% Clorox solution. (I keep a spray bottle in the forge for messy mousey situations.) Another source suggested mixing 3 tablespoons or capfuls of household bleach in 1 gallon of water. Either way, it's a lot gentler on tools than straight Clorox. If Hantavirus is a real issue, then spray with the solution, wait 10 minutes, then wash with fresh water, dry and oil.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 10/27/06 08:02:01 EDT

I have this old smiths tool like a small anvil which I believe is a Bick or Bickern that fits the hole in a full size anvil. You can view a picture here http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g297/Aislingean/Bickern.jpg
Have I got the name right and are these old tools still used and if so by whom?
Thanks ~ Dave
   Dave - Friday, 10/27/06 09:02:18 EDT

Dave, this is not a common tool in the US. It is a stump anvil, or portable anvil. The tapered shank is not designed to fit another anvil and would possibly damage it.

These are common in parts of France, Spain and Italy as well as Mexico and South America. However, the style of this piece appears to be of English manufacture but that is difficult to pin down. It may have also been sold as a tinsmiths or peddler's anvil.

This one is realitively small. This style anvil is common in Europe in weights up to 200 pounds (90kg) or more. On the larger stump anvils the stake does not get longer. It becomes thick and rounded to a blunt point.
   - guru - Friday, 10/27/06 09:30:23 EDT

How long will the hantaviris last in a fairly dry environment? A friend in Nam got a lung infection when he inhaled rat urine infected dust blown up by a helecopter...
   Ron Childers - Friday, 10/27/06 10:48:29 EDT

Dave: These are also designed to fit into a stake plate or stake holder. Go to Centaur Forge's site and do a search on stake holder. If you look at their overall listings for stakes most of the taller ones that that taper on the bottom. Perhaps it gave a snug fit without being prone to stick in the stake plate or holder.

A couple of months ago Jock said a main cause of heels breaking off anvils may have been someone using a stake with a tapered shaft in the hardy hole. Makes sense.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 10/27/06 11:34:26 EDT

Jee, the first thing I though when you mentiond N2 in the furnace was that you wanted to nitride steel; usually done a bit differently BTW.

Hantavirus; during our safety training out here we were told that 30 minutes in the direct high UV sun out here would kill the virus but it could hang on for a loooong time in a protected location.

Dave that is a nice example of a light travel anvil and I'd look for a re-enactor of the mid to later 19th century. Do you want to sell it?

Ken can you make sure that Postman gets a pic of it?

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/27/06 11:38:11 EDT

Most of the rest of the world does not use wooden railroad ties, and has not for over 50 years.
So no spikes. Instead, they have little clips.

The combination of cheap labor and ample forests mean we are still using wood- plus we have a temperate climate, and relatively few insects that feast on them.
We also have a timber industry that has been lobbying against concrete ties since at least 1920 or so.

In many countries, wooden ties, even treated, have a very short lifespan.
So concrete ties are the world standard, although now there is research being done on recycled plastic as well. The concrete people say that even thought the initial cost is more, the lifespan is much greater, as is the load carrying capacity.
   - ries - Friday, 10/27/06 12:26:00 EDT

Nitrogen - rule of thumb we used was that 10 volume changes in a furnace over a 1/2 to 1 hour time period would get the oxygen level down low levels (assuming no leaks) then you could go to constant flow levels of 1.5 to 2 volume changes per hour. Most furnaces are not designed for pressure significantly above atmospheric, such as 5 psig or 25 psig, and instead operate in inches of water column above atmospheric pressure.

The description of sintering bronze at 25 psig sound to me as though they were trying to get some additional consolidation of the bronze powder during the sintering process by increasing furnace pressure. Typical sintered products still have voids, and are less than 100% of theoretical density for solid wrought materials. To get to 100% density requires secondary processing such as double pressing, forging after sintering, etc.

The higher pressure for the bronze powder process sounds somewhat similar to HIPing (Hot Isostatic Pressing) powdered steel. Only thing is HIP'ing pressures are much higher than 25 psig.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 10/27/06 12:33:40 EDT

Jee, Step 3 says charge with Nitrogen while doing burn out then turning off the nitrogen. Sounds like a method of preventing burning of whatever is being burned out at that temperature.

Most kilns will not support any pressurization as they have no gaskets of seals. The 25 PSI sounds like line (pipe) or regulator pressure NOT furnace pressure. In other words the pressure is a measure of flow (in volume) that is producing a non-flammable atmosphere in the kiln, not pressurizing it.
   - guru - Friday, 10/27/06 13:35:37 EDT

Thomas P. Yes, will print out the stump anvil for Postman. Rather nice one. Hadn't occurred to me.

Scored an anvil of my own on eBay. Obviously a Hay-Budden, serial number 699 (1892 - first year). Marked 150 and scales at about 145. Logo stamp is very small with letters only about 1/2" high. BROOKLYN, NY is second line. First line is in poorer reading condition. Sort of looks like ??HN & M??COTT. Spoke with Postman on it. He said name sort of rang a bell as a hardware company so he is looking through his Hay-Budden records. He thought he might have recorded one like it.

Seller said it was found at the site of an mid-1800s on railroad depot. Next door was a stagecoach company running from the depot to a town in NJ. Jock noted the anvil has a depression between hardy and pritchel typical for one heavily used for horseshoeing. On heel, bottom is mushroomed over like the end of it had been used for a striking surface.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 10/27/06 15:14:41 EDT

Induction hardened stock
I got some 1050 that has been induction hardened. Will this be ok to forge tools such as hammers from? I am NOT asking if the 1050 will make good tools. I AM asking if the fact that it is induction hardened could cause problems because of the stress of being fully hardened. In other words, can the fact that this steel was fully hardened before forging cause any problems.
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 10/27/06 17:00:34 EDT

BTW this is 2" rd. I plan on forging it to 1-5/8" sq. (on PH) to make hammers from. So between the drawing out and decarb, little, if any of the material that was hardened will be present. But I would still like to hear some input. Thanks
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 10/27/06 17:34:03 EDT

Tyler, Once you bring the steel up to forging heat all is forgotten. Just be sure to heat carefully. Hardened stock is much more suseptible to heat cracking than annealed stock.
   - guru - Friday, 10/27/06 17:57:57 EDT


Are you using the AC terminal on the transformer? A coil just looks like a short circuit to DC unless you have some kind of repeating switch in the circuit (like a set of points . . . ). Seems to me with that AC with a diode in the circuit might mimic what the coil sees on the car. Still might not get that sudden interruption of current when the points open that really creates a voltage spike in the coil, though.
   Mike B - Friday, 10/27/06 18:33:39 EDT

I just went and etched the end of a piece in ferric chloride. You can see the hardened part around the outside. It's a uniform 1/16"
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 10/27/06 19:05:03 EDT

Tyler Murch,
I passed around a lot of hardened 1050H and 1541H axles when I worked in the upsetter shop. No one reported any problems, and those axles were induction hardened. The fact that the material is induction hardened really makes no difference from any other hardening as it is just a form of heat. I have made quite a few items from this stuff without problems, and one of the KBA smiths was useing the stock to make hammers. I miss the available stock, but not that shop. They scrapped about 5 to 7 million pounds a year.
   ptree - Friday, 10/27/06 20:19:25 EDT

Re Alldays powerhammer, was it eBay item 250041201503 ?
   Bob G - Friday, 10/27/06 21:06:36 EDT

Mike B: The Model "T" coil will work on AC or DC. It is a complete ignition unit in itself, containing coil. condenser, and points. When the coil is magnetized the magnetism opens the points and a spark jumps. This is repeated as long as the coil is energised. On an early "T" the primary power was supplied by dry cell battery, or when the engine was running by a flywheel mounted dynamo that produced AC. Instead of points there was a "timer" a rotating contact inside the distributer that provided the apropriate coil [each cilinder has it's own] with primary power. In My experience, for an ignition coil to make spark, the magnetic field MUST colapse sudenly, like cleanly opening points. An ignition transformer from an oil furnas just steps the voltage to about 10KV, enough to jump between the igniter points. Transformers from neon signs can be fun too, will make a jacob's ladder just like in old Si-Fi movies, but they all deserve a lot of respect.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/27/06 22:51:19 EDT

Oh Crud
This stuff is chrome plated too. Is that dangerous? Can I still use it?
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 10/27/06 22:54:45 EDT

More dangerous to your patience than your health. You should grind all the chrome off before trying to make something from it. Sounds like hydraulic cylinder rod material. This is often case hardened for wear resistance under the hard chrome. That is more likely the edge ring you saw.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/28/06 07:47:53 EDT

Tyler Murch,
If the material is cylinder rod, it is called IHCP in that trade. That is Induction Hardened Chrome Plated. The chrome is a hard chrome plate that is ground after application. It is wonderful material for many things and unless I had a large amount and nothing else, I would save it for projects that can use very close tolerence, ground shafts. It is great for things like linear slides, jackshfts etc. Usually the center of the bar is near dead soft and can be easily tapped etc. To machine this stuff, in a lathe, start with the tool in the softer inner portion and take a fairly deep cut back the shaft. Use a tool angle that lets the tool get in under the chrome, and as you proceed up the bar the brittle chrome will pop off. If coming from a scrap pile, check for straightness as cylinder rods are most often scrapped when bent.
   ptree - Saturday, 10/28/06 09:20:50 EDT

Julius: On your firebox question. If it can be removed from it, then likely it can be straightened (with added reinforcement suggested). If not you may have to find someone with an oxy/ace torch who can heat the bend in the box and then try to hammer it back into shape.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 10/28/06 11:07:41 EDT

My question is about coal.I live in new Brunswick Canada,good coal is hard to come by here.Sometimes i use local coal its cheap and it gives a good heat but its high in sulfur,when i pull iron out of the fire i can smell the sulfur.How harmful is this to my health.
   paul fontaine - Saturday, 10/28/06 20:34:45 EDT

I got my "Liftime" anvil. I am a welder with all abilities from gas to Tig and own the tools to do it. I want to go back to working pieces and fabrication. What do you do to sweeten up a good anvil? The Hardie is 1 1/8. I'd like to drop it down to an inch. I think a simple L56 mig run filed/ground to spec woulkd be fine, wht's you'r opiny? Also, the surface is a brown patina (rusty). Should you keep an anvil clean and oiled? I also have some small wore down points, not a real begger, but, can they be welded into form and ground to shape? I have a "Trexton" Trenton anvil from the 30's, she is ready to ride. I'd like to get the hardie to 1" so tooling is easier to get. The face pretty much rocks. The edges are good, won't cut paper but no chips of BB size. I would like to dress her out and sharpen the edges. Thing rings like a bell, but, has sweet spots on the face. At least I think, I don't have good hammers with flat faces to really whack it. I have used a mild heated piece of steel and a small 2 lb hammer to test it. At some angles and spots it rebounds like a spring. My hammer technique is probably lacking. I'd like to clean her up and dress the edges. Good idea? It has the BEST "Texton" logo I have scene, it's mint. I'd like to make her shine and watch as she re-aquires a patina. It's only 75 or so yrs old. I'd like care tips and value retention help. Also, anyone in NC able to help get me into any organizations here? I've emailed several and have gotten squat for replies.

   Paladin6 - Saturday, 10/28/06 22:23:44 EDT

Paladin6: The edges of Your anvil SHOULD NOT BE SHARP.They should have a nice [small] radius ground on them all arround. This is to keep from marking Your work, and also to help prevent chipping. Any welding on the top plate of a good anvil is a bad idea. If You make up a shim[s]for the hardy hole it could be a loose piece with a flange around the top so it doesn't fall through. If You MUST weld it/them fast, try to stay below the hardened part of the anvil. Remember that You only need to shim 2 sides, and in doing it that way the shim is thicker and will hold up better. If You leave the hole alone You only have to add a bead on 2 sides of the 1" tooling and dress it to fit, not rework the entire surfaces.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 10/28/06 22:56:01 EDT

Hmmm, ok, the edges are probably perfect then. So you figure build up the tools rather than tighten the hole. I guess thats just a little works on each tool. One hole fix would be easier, but, each tool is pretty much tweaked anyway.

Oh yea, any idea why ther are two pritchels rather than one. I've never figured that one out. See mostly one Pritchel. Mine has two and look to be OEM.
Thanks for the respo, very much. Quasi newbie to some Blacksmithing things, but, have some very good metalurgy and welding skills and background.

I think I am just a bit anal on sharp edges of final work and am apply'in' that to the anvil.

What you think about spiffing it up a bit? Just getting down to a silver tone, not grinding, more of a polishing?

   Paladin6 - Saturday, 10/28/06 23:16:32 EDT

Paladin6: Folks not answering e-mails can be a real pain. Likely what you will have to do is to go to the group's website and find out when and where their meetings are and just attend. If you like the group you can join then.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 10/28/06 23:35:50 EDT

Tyler-- I got a good snootful of fumes whilst (love them Brit words, love 'em!)cooking the plating off a chrome-plated coil spring from a shock absorber, and it gave me a nasty sore throat for weeks. I have since built a tin tipi shroud around my forge to chimney away such nasties from my forge and my schnozz and I advise you to be extremely careful with chrome plated stuff. Cadmium on some of it, I have heard. The grilles from refrigerator shelves, for example, can be toxic if used as barbecue racks.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 10/28/06 23:43:14 EDT

On broken anvils, in Anvils in America, pages 454-455, Postman speculates extremely cold weather may have also played a factor. For example my mother was raised in Minn. and said some winters if it got up to zero that was almost considered a heat wave. -40 wasn't all that unusual. Lowest she remembered was -60.

Extremely cold metal can become brittle. Postman includes a comment the Germans used a high amount of sulfur in their equipment during WW-II (to make it more machineable) and it was prone to breaking during the very cold Russian winter. Seems like I have heard the S. S. Titanic's hull plates and/or rivets were also high in sulfur.

Thus, possibility an extremely cold anvil was struck hard, causing the break. Seems like on eBay recently there was a broken Fisher. Here a weak weld wouldn't have come into play, but cold might.

(I read someplace lumberjacks under such conditions would put their axe under their coat on the ride out to the woods for the same reason.)

How could they have ended up down South? (If, indeed, more are seen there.) Possibility they were traded in on a new one, not considered worth repairing and thus dumped on the Southern market. A broken anvil is better than none. As Jock, I believe, mentioned a broken anvil in the North may have also been more likely to go into wartime scrap drives than in the South.

I've heard stories some smiths heated up a large piece of iron (Postman mentions ironing (sad) irons) to place on a cold anvil to warm it up.

Stories for a Sunday morning: At the first Depiere (sp?) ABANA conference one of demonstrators was doing repousse (half a rooster if I remember correctly). He mentioned he and another guy worked as apprentices for an old European-background smith. They came in to start work several hours before the smith. The smith's wife would bring their breakfast, hike up the back of her skirt, sit on the anvil and talks to them while they ate. They evenually realized what she was doing is seeing how warm the anvil top was as a measure of how much work they were doing. One morning they put the anvil over the fire. She came in, sat down and immediately stood up. Last time she did so. (I guess you had to be there.)

That was a fun conference. Francis Whitaker did a sort of striptease in which he took off a T-shirt from each of the former conferences. Someone, Centaur probably, was selling black baseball-type hats with a black neck flat. Band leader noted them and ask who they were. His second said "I think they are from the French Forging Legion." Larry Wood (from SOF&A) went up to help set-up/take-down and took another SOF&A member with him on the promise there would be several hundred single women on campus at the time. It was true; however, they were nuns doing a retreat.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 10/29/06 09:42:25 EST

"Mint" anvils/tools: I just love it when someone says they have a "mint" perfect tool then want to take a grinder to it!

Most old tools take decades if not centuries to get a nice even patina of rust. With a little oil it is one of the best protections there is for tools, especially those like anvils that paint does not hold up well on.

Many old anvils have edges that were dressed by the smiths that used them (and knew what they were doing) or the edges wore down to where they were comfortable to work on. These soft edges are some of the best to work on.

Faces of anvils will stay rust free if they are used constantly. However, for many of us weeks or months may go by without our anvils seeing hot work. . For low use tools a thin coat of paint on the non-working surfaces reduces new rust and a coat of oil on the rest slows things down.

Anvil faces and horns can have the rust sanded off but the rest of the anvil should be left alone. You CAN paint over rust. This doesn't hurt the patina and pretties up the anvil. Oil those bare surfaces if they are not in use.

I have seen tools like 500 year old leg vises on ebay with every trace of rust wire brushed off of them. As an antique these tools EARNED their rust and as long as it is not crusty pitting rust it protects rather than harms. Once stripped of rust and original scale these tools will rust rapidly without their protection. Now they need a good refinishing. .

   - guru - Sunday, 10/29/06 10:56:41 EST

Above reminds me of one of The Antique Roadshow segements. One couple had bought in a multi-drawer high secretary or such which dated back to the 1700s or early 1800s. They had it refinished. Host of that part said something like in its current condition it is valued, in his opinion, at about $100K. Had they not refinished it, at a period auction, it might go for $500K.

The only part of my anvil which shows occasional rust is the plate. A light coat of WD-40 does wonders.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 10/29/06 11:36:12 EST

Whoops, I meant 150 year old vices. . not 500
   - guru - Sunday, 10/29/06 13:19:40 EST

The smell of burning hair and dingle berries must of really stunk up that shop!!

Cleaning Tools

I have a different take on cleaning old tools. It makes the trademarks readable and brings out the beauty of the metal grain and production method marks. If you don't clean them they will not sell well. The metal has an old grey patina. I have a couple of tricks that keep them from rusting for many years and maintains that nice rust free patina. I don't have rusty tools in my shop and I have four seasons with all temperatures and moisture. I don't paint them either. I think painting an old tool is a sin.

   - Galoot - Sunday, 10/29/06 15:05:45 EST

I have been working in structural and ornamental iron for about 4 years now and recently worked for a shop who's main focus was hand-forged ornamental works such as railings, gates, and other custom furniture. I since moved to a company who is focused mainly on structural erection, however, they are interested in having me put together a business plan for blacksmithing set up aimed for production. I am head offabrication and installation of all ornamental work atthis point. I would appreciate any help or direction as to where I could find tools, what tools I will need, suggestions on what type of shop setup I will need to start up, and general costs on start up. I am currently shopping around for various types of forges, anvils, and hammers. please, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
have a nice day,
   brandon - Sunday, 10/29/06 15:23:43 EST

i use a simple trap for catching mice. I use a empty 5 gal plastic pail an eppty coffee can a 1/4 " rod the width of the pail and a stick to reach the floor. Punch a hole in the top and bottom of the can. drill two holes in the pail 180 degrees apart 1" from the top of the pail mount the can on the rod like a roller. fill the pail 4" of water or a freeze if below freezing. Attach the stick to the pail for a ramp smear peanut butter on the can and ramp and your good to go.I use these in my cellar shop and my camp in maine and caught over 30 mice at a time

   - Marlin - Sunday, 10/29/06 15:54:16 EST

Brandon- do you get the Nomma magazine, The Fabricator? Because it has been talking a lot about this lately, along with having ads from most of the major manufacturers.
I would also get a sub to the Anvils Ring, the Abana magazine.
And study the catalogs and websites of the major suppliers- Pieh Tools, Centaur Forge, Blacksmiths Depot, Old World Anvils, EuroAnvils, and so on.
A good place to start is, of course, the advertisers here.
   - ries - Sunday, 10/29/06 18:39:12 EST

Setup for Production: Brandon, this can mean a lot of things and depends on the type of production desired and the people involved.

Example, I am fairly knowledgable about using punch presses for blanking and making small parts. I have several punch presses in my shop that only get ocassional use but when they do they crank out a lot of parts. The trick to a punch press is having the on-site engineering capacity. Tooling can be expensive to design and build, especially if you go to an outside shop.

Other directions. . . many shops rely mainly on outside sources of forged components and just weld them together. This avoids needing skilled blacksmiths and MORE importantly, a skilled designer. Many folks can arrange components in a pleasing arrangement that meets code but far less have the capacity to be a beginning to end designer.

More on production: Top blacksmiths generally have more than one power hammer. Quite a few have as many as three hammers for ONE operator. Why? Tool changes. Even with the fastest tool change you cannot change tools during a single heat. When producing custom components you often forge parts in only one or two heats but under two or more set of dies. A set of combo dies is used to block out the work pointing and making shanks, then a crown (sculpturing) die is used to shape the piece inm the same heat. See the Big BLU die system and the Uri Hofi video we sell. If you want a blacksmith to be the most productive that he can be he will need two hammers.

Besides die types there is also hammer power. On a production job using a semi closed die a friend of mine would break the scale on a light hammer (125 pounds) and then forge the part on a heavy hammer (300 pounds). The result was very clean parts and very long die life using mild steel dies. This one man shop had five hammers at the time. Each with different dies and capacities.

On the other hand many shops including the shops producing components fro resale rarely use a power hammer at all. It depends on the style of work your shop produces. Some shops use manually powered machines such as flypresses and treadle hammers for a great amount of work.

Then there is cold bending equipment. Currently there are several lines targeting the decorative iron shop. These will bend repeat sprials, twist plain and split bar and roll texture cold. These are the machines used to make many of the components sold to fabricators. If you have a large demand (going through truck loads of steel a month) then one of these machines MAY be profitable to your shop. However, thesw machines are very limited in what they do for what they cost. If you are looking to replace components that is fine but if you expect these to mass produce parts for truely custom work forget it. Like the punch press you need an in-house tool designer to get the most out of one of these machines.

Listing everything you need is quite a chore and as I pointed out has a lot to do with the type of managment. Good vises and benches are as important as anvils and see more use. Proper sized drilling equipment can make work flow smoothly while improperly sized will drag things down. Full size layout and assembly tables are critical to problem free work flow.

In a busy shop you need a fork lift as well as other lifing provisions. Moving stock in the cutting area often requires overhead lifting equipment as it is often busy constantly and would tie up a folk lift that may be necessary to support other otperations.

Then there are seemingly simple problems like sufficient space. Every smith I have known that has put together a dream shop has been out of space in a year or two. Although this seems simple it is not. Area under roof has a cost that must often be bugetted.

I often tell folks that you almost cannot tell a modern blacksmith shop from a machine shop. A top custom shop will have a milling machine for die work and a lathe for die and production work. They will have a variety of presses and both a saw and an ironworker. They will have specialized machines for cold twisting and bending as well as forges for hot work.

But not every shop needs all this equipment. Not every shop has the talent to use all this equipment. Not every shop has the capacity to sell the jobs that require a fully equiped shop.

And that brings us down to the bottom line. Money. Capital to start and cash flow to keep it going. This is definitely a profitable business but it is a targeted business. If you are setting up a pipe railing shop it is entirely different than setting up a high end custom ironwork shop. People with all the talents to keep a custom shop going are also far and few between.

It also sounds like your employers may have a lot of what is needed OR THINK they do. This will probably have an effect on your budget.

Drop me a line if you need someone to bounce ideas off but I think you need a better definition of what your goals are. You need to know exactly the class of work you intend to produce and who is going to sell it.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/29/06 19:10:49 EST

to: jack dempsey
the little giant trip hammer for sale
was looking for around 1600.00
located @ 30 miles south of minneapolis, mn.
   ken - Sunday, 10/29/06 20:38:20 EST

THANKS for all the suggestions on cleaning tools, mice - we hates them. I got a shop cat now and its keeping the population close to zilch. I will try the water/detergent followed (if succesful) with WD40....mille gratzie
   - Tim In Orygun - Monday, 10/30/06 00:15:52 EST

dear guru
I need to put a clear finish on a piece of polished steel which will be going outdoors. Whats the best? Thanks, Phil
   phil spark - Monday, 10/30/06 02:42:27 EST

Hi all,
was wondering if you fellows could help settle a friendly debate. A mate of mine in Oz has aqquired what he calls a new hammer. It's not got a face but has two peens. I call it a double headed peen and he says its a hammer. Who's right?
   Ian Lowe - Monday, 10/30/06 07:29:11 EST

Ian Lowe: I would say it is a tie, you are both right.

I have also seen something similar with two peens, one straight and one cross. Long and narrow. I have been told they were descaling hammers, used to knock off the scale build up inside large water boilers.

Also seems like a similar hammer was used to dress up the grooves in a grist mill stone grinding wheel.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 10/30/06 07:35:22 EST

Hammers and Peens: First, "peen" is not a very well defined term in hammers as it is mearly the opposite side from the face. Often the "face" of the hammer is the shape of peens on others. So is it a double faced or double peened hammer?

A millwrights stone dressing hammer has two chisel edges. Some were on the same axis and others at opposite axis and looked very much like a welders chipping hammer. The sharp edges make them hard to distinguish from a double face/peen hammer. However, I have seen these ground into a fuller type shape when they wore out.

There are farriers "rounding hammers" which have two round faces that have considerable crown and old style repousse' hammers which had a large round "face" and a hemispherical "peen". Both were used for the same purpose they mearly had different radii. You could say they are a "double ball peen" hammer. . .

Then there is the "grooving hammer" which as two fullering "faces" that could be mistaken for a peen. There is also a double "peen" Dengelhammer (Scythe Hammer).

Nothing new, just one of may types that come and go (such as the repousse' hammer I mentioned - once very common, no longer manufactured).
   - guru - Monday, 10/30/06 09:19:06 EST

Clear Finish: Phil, the best slear finish you could put on an exterior piece is backed on powder coating. I generally do not reccommend powder coating but for clear this is the best. The problem with other clears directly over steel is that they are slightly permeable from the drying process and water and oxygen both can get to the metal surface and rust. Many of the new clear paints are not as UV resistant as they should be and break down in a few years.

The problem with powder coat is that it cannot be repaired when chipped and any finish over metal WILL BE chipped. Clears are also not particularly UV resistant.

If you want bright polished steel outdoors it should be stainless steel or nickle and/or nickle and chrome plated. Note that chrome plating is permeable and does not stop rust. Chrome must have nickle under it to prevent rust. You will see this problem on many hand tools that have a pretty chrome finish but the manufacturer cut costs and plated directly over steel. . .

About a year or two ago a fellow sent me photos of a polished steel indoor railing that was coated with clear lacquer. After just a few weeks you could see hand prints under the lacquer "developing" as the salt from the hand prints accelerated the rust. There was also discoloration where welding smoke deposits had not be polished off. Eventually great areas of the complicated rail were going to be rusted. All in all the job was a disaster. The fellows that had made it spent thousands of hours creating what the customer wanted and were now going to be sued. I told the customer that the where the falt laid was that the fellows that did the job should have just refused or said that the only suitable material was stainless and the only cure was a proper paint job.
   - guru - Monday, 10/30/06 09:33:53 EST

On hammers (tools in general) I suspect there was also a lot of multiple uses discovered after they were marketed. Say someone saw another person using one and immediately recognized it would serve them in another application.

Story I have heard is the first screw adjustable wrenches (not monkey wrenches) were developed to replace a number of individual size wrenches in the tool kit of the first automobiles. Soon they were being sold separately for multi-purpose use. Not uncommon to see the name of Ford in script on some.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 10/30/06 11:19:59 EST

One of the classics in the line of adjustable wrenches found in British auto kits is the King Dick. Cute little wrench and very well made.
   - guru - Monday, 10/30/06 11:39:08 EST

For the record, I generally will not buy an old tool that has been cleaned up. I have seen way too many planes and other adjustable tools that have been ruined by the efforts of well-meaning but unknowing tool collectors.
   Alan-L - Monday, 10/30/06 13:05:15 EST

You mentioned a key factor in tool cleaning "ruined by the efforts of well-meaning but unknowing tool collectors".

You should only have folks clean or purchase cleaned tools from proffesionals and collectors that have been trained to preserve them with the proper products, proceedures and means.

There is many folks that do know how to do this. The buyer should educate themselves. Just as the above fine Sir. Make sure things have been restored or preserved properly.

I just don't think it is fair, to unintentionally put all of us who do this in the same class as a tool hacker.
I would recommend studying each tool before a purchase and discouraging other folks from buying a tool because it has been cleaned. Even the Sorber Collection was cleaned. Find out who reputable dealers are and buy from them.

   - Galoot - Monday, 10/30/06 15:26:14 EST

Thank you, Galoot, but that was not my point, exactly, anyway. Yes, true collectors and professionals will know how to clean without damage, but the ones I run into are usually people who will say "I just love old tools, but I want 'em all shiny so I hit 'em with a belt sander and/or sandblasted the mechanism." (insert woebegone grin here, I have actually seen an old compass plane that had this done to it).

Those and the flea market guys who run 'em on a buffer to get a mirror polish on parts that were never meant to be shiny, or take an angle grinder and hard wheel to an 18th century goosewing broadaxe on BOTH sides of the bevel, and so on.

While I'm sure you know the right ways, there's just too many who do not and who refuse to learn. It was to those unfortunates my comments were directed, not you, my good sir.

Besides, that leaves more for those of us who do know how and also enjoy the process! (grin!) In addition to being picky, I'm also nigh as cheap as Miles or Thomas, here, and thus cannot afford stuff from the reputable dealers. (insert self-deprecating smile and wink here lest I be misunderstood.)
   Alan-L - Monday, 10/30/06 16:40:56 EST

Hi Alan-L

So true...it is a shame when folks do the things you mention above to old tools.

"I'm also nigh as cheap as Miles or Thomas, here, and thus cannot afford stuff from the reputable dealers. (insert self-deprecating smile and wink here lest I be misunderstood.)"

Me TOO!! :) GRIN!
   - Galoot - Monday, 10/30/06 18:39:09 EST

i love it when i touch my anvil in one of those spots where shes never been touched before and i get the smell of burning paint. one of the few joys of being a rookie.
   coolhand - Monday, 10/30/06 19:02:16 EST

I once found a hand forged steeled edge T adze at a fleamarket that the dealer had sharpened on both sides for use as a hoe. Restoring it to using shape will take off about 1/2 the steeling left.

I ended up buying it as he was selling it at used hoe price but I did my bit by lamenting to him how some *Previous* owner---not him---had messed up the edge so he could *not* get the price 5 times what he had charged that it would have been worth---"terrible how some people will shoot themselves in the wallet that way isn't it?"

Didn't set his back up cause I didn't call him an idiot and hopefully will make him think about the loss in money next time he has an old tool to "clean up"

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/30/06 19:42:07 EST

JOCK; Yeah, and there probably has been more clear Future acrylic floor polish wiped on old tools than on floors. (Works good on leatherwork, too.)
   - 3dogs - Monday, 10/30/06 21:25:25 EST

Upsetting: What is the best technique for upsetting in the mid-section of a bar (round ~10mm)? I've tried quenching above, then placing it in the vice (which cools below the section) and hitting the end with a hammer. I've also tried quenching ubove and below and ramming the bar down onto a peice of steel on the ground. I have enough hammer control to upset the end in a vice or a header, but I can't seem to do mid-section upsets very efficiently - they always bend which slows everything down.
The best I can think of is to make a collet to slip over the bar and locks just above the section to be upset. The vice then clamps below the section to be upset. A slide hammer would slide down the bar into the back of the collet forcing it to clamp the bar tighter & upset the section.
Is there something simpler I can do?
   andrew - Monday, 10/30/06 21:33:08 EST


Yes, there is a simpler way. If the bar is of a length that can be accomodated, you make a "bracket" that is like a set of adjustable bookends. Set the distance betweeen the ends at a bit less than the length of the bar you want to upset. Heat the bar at the point you wan tthe upset and bend it just enough at that pointto allow it to fit between the stops, with the "hump" up in the middle. Now take your mallet and knock the hump down, trying to straighten the bar. Since the ends are up against the stops, it has to upset to straighten. Repeat as necessary.

This is the best I can explain it without a picture; if you don't get it, email me and I'll send you a quick sketch of the jig.
   vicopper - Monday, 10/30/06 23:23:11 EST

Thomas-- what in the world is this person talking about, confusing our prudent frugality with being parsimonious? Hey! Book alert: Being as how you all are connoisseurs of antique horse gear (you are, are you not?), you should take a gander at a book I looked at today in the shop of the Governor's Palace Museum in Santa Fe. Title: Bits and Spurs, by Ned and Jody Martin, Hawk Hill Press, 2005. The Martins have several other books out on the subject. This is one of the handsomest books I have ever seen, and I have seen a few. Helluva price, too, $85 or thereabouts, and I don't see any bargains for sale on Campusi, or Bookfinder or Bibliofind, alas. Just absolutely gorgeous blacksmithing to be seen in this book, and I do mean fantastique to the point of approaching what the Brits call jewellery! But then, we always did know those cowpersons are popinjays, no?
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/30/06 23:59:34 EST

Vicopper, those bracket ends must be pretty heavy duty to take the brunt of all that action, right? Otherwise, it sounds like a great idea.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 10/31/06 00:52:01 EST


Actually, they don't have to be all that tough. I use scrap pieces of 3/8" or 1/2" angle iron and weld one end and pin the other into one of a series of holes drilled in a piece of 3/8" flat bar. That works fine for upsetting anything up to about 3/4" round or square bar. The "trick" is to have a good high heat on the section to be upset. Andrew was talking about upsetting 10mm bar, which is only about 3/8".
   vicopper - Tuesday, 10/31/06 02:52:11 EST

As a Brit I resent that slanderous Popinjay reference Mr Undercut, I have neither a Pop nor indeed a jay to put it in even if I did!
And cowperson's indeed! We've been riding horses (well, the hoy polloy of the English Aristocracy certainly have)for far longer than the United States.
   Ian Lowe - Tuesday, 10/31/06 05:22:31 EST

Wasn't it the Romans who settled Great Britain? Or was that just London? And I thought the Spaniards domesticated the horse.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 10/31/06 08:24:34 EST

Vicopper: Couldn't the middle upset method described be done in a vice, given that the piece is short enough.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 10/31/06 08:25:56 EST

Upsetting the middle,

I've always been told that to upset the middle, you needed to upset the ends of two separate pieces then weld them together. That's actualy where i learned to forge weld. now that i think about it that does seem extreamly ridichulous compared to what y'all have been talking about.

Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Tuesday, 10/31/06 09:12:03 EST

how would i go about tempering a knife blade in a forge??

Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Tuesday, 10/31/06 09:13:36 EST

Center Upsets: Heating with a torch is helpful to localise the heat. A good penetrating heat is essential.

Clamping in a vise helps hold the work but the traditional method is a low anvil, upsetting block or other low support so that you are striking at a height that is easy to strike square and straight. Upsetting blocks on heavy anvils have the advantage of being against a vertical surface and if you take care to rotate the work you can straighten it between blows.

With Swage Block: Another method is to use a swage block set on top of a low anvil or preferably a heavy bench like a weld platen OR the floor. A hole in the swage block will support several inches of the bar and is heavy enough to straighten the piece between blows. Heading and middle upsets are some of the most common uses of industrial swage blocks (those with all the holes).

Also note that once an upset is started and will not fit through a hole in a swage block (or heavy bolster plate supported on the swage block) that this is an excellent way to support the work and controlling the upset. You can strike and straighten as you go. If you need the bottom shoulder to be a specific shape (conical, hemispherical) a steel bloster is the best support.

Ever use a tube guided fence post or ground rod driving slide hammer. Would work well on middle upsets on long bars. Perfectly guided sledge hammer force.

Also note that for end upsets and middle upsets in relatively short bars a swage block with partial holes like those made by John Newman and sold by Blacksmiths Depot are helpful.

The method Vicopper suggests is best done on a weld platten between two dogs and some shims. The straightening method between two immovable points gives great mechanical advantage but requires a heavy bench or support such as a weld platen or bench made from very heavy plate. If you had a bunch of these to do I would rig up a torch (or forge burner) through one of the holes in the platten and do the upset over the hole. Having just a little added heat to make for loses can be very helpful.

Also note that one of the standard pieces of weld platten furniture sold by Acorn was a heavy screw dog that acted like a vise. This would be a fast efficient method of adjustment for this purpose.

Last, When visiting blacksmith shops in Germany, Josh Greenwood noticed a square hole in the floor, On closer examination he noticed the shape of the bottom of an anvil. The German smiths had set an old worn out or broken anvil upside down in the floor of the shop (no doubtedly well supported under the floor). This was their middle upset support.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/31/06 09:51:16 EST

Depending on the length of the bar, putting one end within a section of pipe with a cap on the end would seem to be a possibility. You clamp one end in a vise well secured to a stout bench, slip the pipe over the other end short of the upset area and then hammer on the cap. Pipe section would help end being hammered stay straight. Having a helper use an oxy/ace torch on the area of the upsetting would also be beneficial.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/31/06 10:21:27 EST

Years ago, I heard that Francis Whitaker performed what he called an "inertia upset". You get the short heat the best way you can, hang it over the far edge of the anvil, the other end in mid-air, and hit your end. I tried it and did not have luck with it.

I am not averse to using the rosebud to localize the heat and on a large bar and jumping it up and down. Sometimes the problem is, if you take too many heats, you almost lose in scale what you gain in upset.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/31/06 10:36:28 EST

On the anvil I mentioned above Richard Postman said it would be DUNN & MARCOTT or MURCOTT. He recorded one on what he thought was an American Wrought Anvil Company anvil - also made in Brooklyn (about 1899-1911). Apparently only reason to believe this is a H-B is the serial number (699) on the right side of the front foot. However, H-B put theirs on the left, not right. Outside possibility AWAC started to put serial numbers on their anvils at some point. If so, it could be some anvils previously identified as H-Bs were AWAC instead.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/31/06 11:16:07 EST

Tempering in Forge: Andrew, it can be done but is difficult. However, you don't have to put the part directly in the fire. For even tempers throughout a part you heat a heavy block of steel in the forge until it is the tempering temperature you want. This can be determined by grinding the top surface clean and watching the temper colors. When the plate is the correct temperature put the part to be tempered on the plate and watch the temper colors run on the part. The disadvantage of this method is that if you overshoot the desired temperature you will have to clean up the plate again to determine the temperature. However, if you overshoot a little you just watch the part on the plate.

The second method is to heat a plate or heavy bar to a low red heat and then apply the knife back to the plate and watch the colors run. In this case you are looking to stop the temper with a hard edge and soft back. When the correct temper temperature reaches or ALMOST reaches the edge then quench the blade to prevent further tempering.

Both the above methods can be done on a kitchen stove top. I have temper blued gun parts to a beautiful dark blue on an electric stove.

The last method requires no extra block. Heat the part to the hardening temperature, then quench the edge or half the width of the blade only. Then quickly wipe a file across the edge (or use a belt sander quickly) and watch the colors run as above. Just as they reach the edge quench to stop the tempering.

This type of hardening is done in oil or water. Wayne Goddard does a very good job of demonstrating this method in his Wire Damascus Hunting Knife video.

Note that because of the high possibility of missing sections in the temper it is often a good idea to to double temper. I prefer an even soaked temper followed by localized softening of backs and tangs. How a blacksmith selectively hardens and tempers a piece is the big difference between hand made and factory made. However, factories often perform localized hardening and tempering on a production basis such as the soft tangs on files.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/31/06 11:32:59 EST

Heating with Rosebuds: As Frank noted you can lose a lot of material to scale from oxy-fuel torches. For large heating jobs I much prefer oxy-propane due to the much softer flame. I've also found that by running the larger tip you can use with propane that you get less scale than running the typical small rose bud tip.

Another method of localized heating is the Induction furnace the Kaynes (BlacksmithsDepot) sells. You can get a though heat in about one section's length of bar with very little scaling. If you are upseting in production this is the way to go.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/31/06 11:43:56 EST

Andrew when you say "tempering" do you mean drawing the temper *after* hardening or are you refering to the whole process hardening and tempering?

To harden a blade in the forge you MUST KNOW THE ALLOY, then you heat it in a low fire---you don't want any excess O2.

A better way is to put a piece of pipe in the forge with one end closed off and let it heat, rotating it to get an even heat on the pipe then throw a little charcoal in it to remove O2 and hold the blade inside the pipe till it comes up to the correct temp for that ALLOY. If it has to touch a side of the pipe make sure it's the back of the knife on the bottom of the pipe.

Then quench in the medium that's right for that ALLOY: Air, Oil or Brine.

*THEN* you temper the blade---ASAP as it is brittle as glass and can crack just sitting on the bench overnight from internal stresses.

Tempering is heating to a much lower temp, often 300-500 degF depending on the ALLOY, why it is often done in a kitchen oven or with a small propane torch and can be done by eye using the temper colours of the steel to indicate the temperature.

Note that normalizing *before* hardening can help refine the grain on some ALLOYS and make for a much better blade.

Did you notice a bit of info you left out of your question? There are ways of working with unknown alloy steel but it's more of a progressive guessing game---it helps a lot if there is some scrap from the piece that you can test heat treat on---less likely to ruin a blade of unknown alloy having to "test" it.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/31/06 12:45:56 EST

Upsetting, Hmmm my screw press has a hole in the table under the ram and I have some 2" thick steel plate running around I could stack to "fit". The press weighs more than a small PU should carry. I may have to try upsetting with it...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/31/06 12:48:24 EST


One more problem with tempering (as opposed to heating a piece prior to hardening) in the forge is judging temperature. Temper colors are caused by an oxide layer on the surface of the scale. A gas forge, or the flame of a coal forge, will have relatively little free oxygen. Oxidation will therefore be slowed, and the temper colors could form at a much higher temperature than expected, if at all.

I don't know who's tried to temper in a forge itself, but a friend of mine over-tempered a piece holding in in his gas forge exhaust and waiting for colors to appear.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 10/31/06 15:07:36 EST

Oops, that should be "oxide layer on the surface of the steel," not "scale."
   Mike B - Tuesday, 10/31/06 15:08:57 EST

Im a farrier but this is not really a blacksmithing question. I have a real nice miniature Hay Budden anvil that someone told me was a replica, not an original, and that it was made by a blacksmith in (I think)Oregon. Its been a quite while since I was given this info but I think the blacksmith who supposedly made it was active on this site . Is there a way to tell if my miniature is an original or a replica? Thanks, Patty
   Patty Stiller - Tuesday, 10/31/06 16:02:19 EST

Patty Stiller: Not an absolute but take a good look at the stamping. The original Hay-Budden mineatures were likely stamped with a one-piece stamp. Depth should be consistent, although may necessarily flat (if stamp wasn't held perfectly flat when hit). A replica may have been stamped one letter at a time. Letters may be of different depth and alignment.

There is a guy in MO who has sold brand name replica miniature anvils on eBay, although he doesn't necessarily say they are such.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/31/06 16:55:05 EST

Ian Lowe-- a thousand pardons! Migawd, what an egregious error to have made! How in the world could I have looked at those $500 multi-colored hand-tooled boots, those dazzling soup tureen-sized bronc-buster buckles on those hand-carved belts, those $500 Resistols with the $700 braided horsehair hatbands, the $300 tooled leathern cuffs with the antique sterling silver snap covers, the $400 shirts, the fringed vests, all those accoutrements that it takes to be a cowperson these days, and then crank in the snazzy spurs and bridles and bits such as are shown in the aforementioned volume and EVER have thought there was a soupcon of foppery involved? Please forgive me! Or have I missed the point here altogether and you are resenting something else? If so, how droll! (Love them Brit words, love 'em!) But I apologize for that, too, whatever it was.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/31/06 17:23:06 EST

Miniature Anvils: There is a big collector's market for these things and just as big a supply of new reproductions. I'm told that Gill Fahrenwald made a replica Hay-Budden miniature and sold it to dealers who often misrepresented them. There are a lot of them floating around.

Any time you purchase OR sell any kind of collectable you need to be very wary of the item. In recent years we have seen new Civil War items made for reenactors and sold by legitimate suppliers resold as originals on ebay for thousands of dollars. There is also a huge market in collectors locks and keys that are made NEW in India and Pakistan for a few dollars and then sold here with dubious pedigrees by dealers claiming ignorance when they know EXACTLY what they are doing. Some of these locks are hand made the same way they have been made for 100 years, brought here and then artificialy aged or rusticated. One of the clear giveaways is that every one has BOTH original keys. . . Real antique locks and keys almost never have a match! You always have rings of keys and stacks of locks and not a fit between them.

Collectors beware. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/31/06 17:48:46 EST

Reproductions particular apply to Native American Indian artifacts. I have heard 80% or more of the arrowheads (projectile points) offered on eBay are recent reproductions.

I have a friend who is a self-taught knapper and a very good one. One afternoon he sat on my deck and made me four nice small ones. He told the story of being referred to a retired postal worker and show an extensive collection in his basement. Guy had invested his retirement funs in them, believe they would appreciate in value. When he told him almost all of them were reproductions he said he thought I guy was going to have a heart attack. In the same situation now he would just say they should be looked at my a professional appraiser.

Like other areas they can be aged by tumbling or breaking off a small part of the tip.

He could likely do a nice side business making reproductions. However, he said they would just show back up on the market as originals.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/31/06 18:50:38 EST

For those wanting to upset in the middle of a bar, there is always that old standby of American ingenuity, the upsetter. A 1" Ajax only weighs about 18,000# and uses a small 10 Hp motor. We used a 9" Ajax to put a 18" od by 5" upset disc in the center of a 5" od bar. It was considerably shorter when completed:) and it only took 4 hits!
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/31/06 21:09:28 EST

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