WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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

This is an archive of posts from October 1 - 7, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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Bolting Anvils to Inertia Blocks: Be warned that on old pieced together anvils this greatly increases the stress on the welds and can result in breaking off a horn or heel.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/01/08 00:14:41 EDT

Diagonal peen advantage over a cross peen? Please explain.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/01/08 09:25:07 EDT

Frank-- On the diagonal, the moment of inertia is significantly transverse to the radius of gyration, resulting in a zzzzzzzzz... oops, sorry, musta dozed off there... now where was I? Oh, yes, the radius of gyration, which in turn, you see, then oscillates, nay, reverberates in tune with the modulus of elasticity to a much higher, vastly more efficient degree. Net result: fewer blisters.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/01/08 10:50:59 EDT

Theoretically speaking, that is.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/01/08 10:52:42 EDT

I find that the diagonal peen allows me to hold my elbows in a nuetral position. Since I have somewhat severe aftereffects from a hemoragic fever, causing something like tendonitis and arthritis in my elbows and some other joints this is a great help to me. I also modify the handles to allow the ringand little finger to do most of the gripping. Beeswax also helps with grip.
The power hammer i built was the biggest help:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/01/08 13:05:03 EDT

I'm back; didn't get a chance to talk with Jock much; but did wear the lederhosen and aloha shirt for a couple of hours in Paw Paw's memory.

On making wrought iron: the silicates are basically slag from the iron making process so if you are trying to replicate it without smelting you need a source of iron smelting slag---there is a bunch of different varities involved.

I would suggest you do a web search on bloomery and discarding all hits that include the words flower or flowers and look especially hard at Skip's site.

The previously mentioned post on the value of the ironmaster is spot on as is the suggestion that participating in a smelting is really helpful in learning the "art".

Ore can often be mined from streambeds and lake shores by dragging a magnet enclosed in a bag to pick up magnatite sand. For simple small bloomeries *NO* flux seems to be required---I talked with Darrell at Quad-State and his experiments have not used flux as has the 15 or more years of Y1K bloomeries my friends have been doing---the presented at the IronMasters Conference in Athens OH on 10 years of bloomery research they had done a number of years ago.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/01/08 15:03:21 EDT

I am planning on making a sculpture for local competition (this is between high school students, and most of the people competing in this or more welding oriented than blacksmithing). The only rules is that it can't be painted, no non-ferrous metals, and a limit on the size being 12" x 12" x 18. My question is, to all those who have done something like this, is where do you get the inspiration for a design? I believe this will be the hardest part in making this.
   - Hollon - Wednesday, 10/01/08 15:29:40 EDT

SOFA NEWS is Posted. . : Include a HAT page. . ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/01/08 16:47:20 EDT

Inspiration: Well. . it depends on your skills and what you are capable of making. It also depends on your interests. Naked girls or parts thereof have always been an interest and inspiration of males of every age. . . To try to avoid this we often concentrate on the non-human such as animals or even plants. . .

As an artist I usually have TOO many ideas to fulfill. Years of backlogs to fill any media or situation. How BIG do you want it?

Inspiration is usually lacking when you need it and overflowing when you don't. School assignments were usually inspiration killers. Wanting inspiration is just as bad. . .

Ideas are often the result of either hard work or serendipity. Great ideas are often divine inspiration (no matter what your god or belief system).

Some STUDY for inspiration. Books, libraries, museums. . . Others let their imaginations free. . (like dreaming but while wide awake). Capturing the subconscious which is free from constraints with the conscious can lead to many interesting ideas. Now we are talking the Zen of knowing ones true self. . . crossing boundaries many find as impenetrable as a concrete wall. Lots of folks spend a lifetime trying to figure that one out.

IF it is a work assignment you start with what you have, what is possible and what you are willing or capable of doing in the time alloted. Organize it, look at it, study it. . . dream about it. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/01/08 17:13:49 EDT

Re HAT page, #22 for those so interested, it was a troll here on Anvilfire calling us "just a bunch of old anvilheads" that got the whole thing started:)
I have an excellent idea for next years model. And there is one hat missing, from 2006 a gearhead hat. Unfortunatly I walked under too low a doorway and stripped my gears:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/01/08 17:55:59 EDT

Ah. . Watch for the digital magician. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/01/08 19:09:11 EDT

   JOHNN ANDERSON - Wednesday, 10/01/08 19:16:34 EDT

Frank- I second Ptree's statements. As far as I can tell it's an ergonomics thing, works for some and others think it's just a gimmick. I like mine. The diag. x pien lets you hammer hard and accurately on stuff that would normally be in a somewhat awkward position. Thing is you really need 2 going opposite directions so you can have forging forces 90 deg. to each other.
   Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 10/01/08 20:19:20 EDT

Another diagonal peen advantage: with both right hand and left hand diagonals, use one where you would otherwise use a crosspeen and the other where you would use a straight peen and the hammer position is the same: both hands in natural position with the work. In fact, for me its the same for peening as for most other forging: hammer blow directly in front with the arm about 45 degrees to the long axis of the anvil, tong arm relaxed at the left side, whether the work is parallel or perpendicular. I also have a couple with very broad or large radius peens that work over the horn, like top and bottom swage: lots of control, very fast to draw down, especially larger stock needing a long gradual taper.
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 10/01/08 20:21:09 EDT

I think it's mainly a wind resistance thing. Once that radius starts gyrating on a diagonal, and the Bernoulli effect kicks in, activating the Venturi, look out, it's Katy bar the door!
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/01/08 20:30:09 EDT

Johann, ¿Su país?
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/01/08 20:59:25 EDT

How about just sawing the anvil through at the waist and precision-fitting a thrust bearing amidships, facilitating the easy turning of the working surface to port and starboard as needed? Sounds simpler than finding a diagonal-peen/pene/pein/pane hammer, no? Well-enough lubed and magnetized, the anvil could then serve as a reliable compass, assuring the smith his smithy was still on course as she navigates these parlous times.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/01/08 21:22:40 EDT

OK, so my hammer hand is the right one, right? If I wanted my diagonal pein to act similarly to a straight pein, which-handed diagonal pein do I want?
   Craig - Wednesday, 10/01/08 22:04:49 EDT

Just a wee bit more on this vital point: all the Harris tips I have in my box do fit closely into the Sears retaining nut. Everything appears to be cool. But inside, where it counts... with SOME, no dice. Makes those flashback arrestors-- at the torch-- seem like money well spent, lemme tell you.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/02/08 00:32:27 EDT

Craig... wait! Before you spend money on a pricey hammer... there is another way to go. Consider mounting your shop on an electrically powerized turntable, revolving not unlike the Space Needle, with you standing at the very epicenter, economically inexpensive conventional hammer in hand. At the mere touch of a button, you can pivot your shop floor, and your anvil, to suit your every orthopaedic need.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/02/08 00:39:41 EDT

Craig: Looking at the peen with the hammer handle vertical, or at 6:00 o'clock, long axis of the peen is in the 10:20 position. () that will put the peen perpendicular to the long axis of the anvil, with the hammer held in the right hand and the hammer head directly in front of you on impact, like a straight peen held straight forward on your right side. I don't think the diagonal is nearly as advantageous over the straight peen as over the cross peen. In fact, Iv'e never been able to work comfortably with a cross peen except for a very few specific moves. One, in fact: the fishtail, and even that is easier with a diagonal. I have never understood why the cross peen, rather than the straight peen, is the classic smith's hammer. Seems like with the cross peen, the arms are always spread too far apart or jammed too close together. That is never the case with the right diagonal. the hammer hand is always in the same position, and the tong hand has to move very little.

As for the pricey hammer: forget it. It takes me about an hour to cut and grind one end of a machinist's hammer to the right shape. Considering how much I use just one or two hammers, I figure I recover the $$ worth of shop time in maybe a week. That's a pretty good return on the investment.
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 10/02/08 08:36:26 EDT

My esteemed sensei Dr. Turley reminded me amid this colloquy of smething the late, great Bill Gichner said one day years ago as he rummaged through his several warehouses of smiting equipment, looking for a straight peen hammer that I was (and still am) convinced I needed. "It ain't the hittin' hand," Bill said, "It's the holdin' hand." To which, Frank observed, when I got back from Delaware and reported this utterance of the maestro, "How many one-armed blacksmiths have you seen?"
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/02/08 09:01:07 EDT

does the magnet in the bag need to be sealed watertite for finding the magnitite sand
   - Jacob Lockhart - Thursday, 10/02/08 17:31:11 EDT

Hey Mr. Hirst sorry missed your comment for awhile till i read through them all and i live in central Texas
   - Jacob Lockhart - Thursday, 10/02/08 17:39:06 EDT

Still confused...
I need to get my bearings (and no Miles, I don't think I need a magnetized and pivoted anvil acting as a compass to do that). Handle upright at 90°, pein facing me, if the pein runs from top left to bottom right, is this a left or right-handed diagonal pein hammer?
   Craig - Thursday, 10/02/08 17:59:34 EDT

Miles, you have heard of a band called Def Leppard, haven't you? Not only is the Leppard Def, but the drummer only has one arm!!
   Craig - Thursday, 10/02/08 18:03:09 EDT

Yes, but those skins and cymbals ain't moving around as much as a hunk of hot iron atop an anvil always seems to want to do.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/02/08 18:24:27 EDT

This one is obvious, but it almost tripped me up. If you make a hammer with left- and right-handed peens at opposite ends, the peens actually go the *same* way. In other words, if you looked at the hammer head from the side, both peens would be closer to you at the top (or further, but both the same).
   Mike BR - Thursday, 10/02/08 19:06:50 EDT

Jacob: The bag is just to make it easy to strip the magnetic sand off the magnet. The bag need not be sealed unless your magnet is by some highly improbable chance water soluble.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 10/02/08 19:16:49 EDT


Hmmm, central Texas. When I lived in Houston, I saw a lot of driveways and private roads that were surfaced with iron ore. Crushed about 3/4" to 1 1/2". Don't know what grade it is, but if you check with a materials company, you may be able to locate some and find out about its composition.
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 10/02/08 22:19:50 EDT

A local used tool shop has a partial tap&die set that I am nterested in. Little Giant adjustable dies, includes all the dies, most of the taps and accessories. two questions. First are LG taps common enough that I can expect to fill out this starter kit and second, the dies look a little strange to me. The cutters are marked "Little Giant", but the die bodies look rough cast. I have been using a friend's set that is either polished or plated. Those in the store have the same color and texture of a new cast iron frying pan. They are nested in a nicely made (smith-made) wood box of new-looking pine, and look virtually new themselves. If they are the real deal, this is the set I want for the new shop, but the couple of missing parts and the wierd finish, I don't know. Should I grab these or pass? (The price is right if they are genuine)
   Peter Hirst - Friday, 10/03/08 07:41:41 EDT

Craig- The answer to your question is another question. Which way do you want the peen to move the metal? One way will push it along the length of the anvil and the other way will push across the anvil.

As for finding/buying one, if you have more time than money you can make one. Either reforge an existing hammer (great use for those cheap Chinese octagonal 3 pound sledges) or find new stock. Read up on heat treating and hammer dressing, find a friend with a power hammer or sledge hammer and you are off to the races.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 10/03/08 07:50:56 EDT

At a recent SWABA meeting a fellow brought a small sledge to be reconfigured to a diagonal pein hammer: Heat and two smooshes with a hydraulic press and it was ready for clean up and heat treat.

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/03/08 10:57:27 EDT

Little Giant Tap and Dies: These were made as far back as the late 1800's. Not sure when they stopped.

The rough finish is from forging or rust. What is important is the cutting teeth. They should be bright and shiny.

Tap holders have been standard for many years. But dies and die holders have varied. There are round, hex, split and multi-piece dies. Multi-piece types tend to be brand specific.

In sets like these the box and holders are half the cost, the cutters the other half. Sets rapidly get broken up as the cutters have a very short life (the SHOULD be retired often).

My tap and dies are a piecemeal set of parts bought as needed. There is a couple sizes of T handle and an antique adjustable type that they still make. For dies I have a handmade holder with a guide bushing about 6" away from the die. It holds 1" round dies and only works on long stock. But you can cram it on the work, crank like heck and the threads are perfect. I made it for making U-bolts. My hex dies get used in the lathe and I only have a few. Taps are bought on a per-job basis and scrapped as soon as any loss of efficiency is noticed. Shortly after they stop cutting like new they often break and cost you a LOT more in aggravation or lost work than the cost of the die.
   - guru - Friday, 10/03/08 10:59:49 EDT

hey guru ... and hosw every1 doing here ...??
well i have a query thts pretty much like the 1 i asked before ... well i'll jus get to it
we forge D2 grade of steel ... basically wht we forge is basically known as D2 KNL... it contains a lil bit of tungsten( its about .8%)
well when we start forging the material(flats,rounds,squares).. the material whn forged forms crack on the edges(flats & squares).. they r small cracks .. but its not possible to carry on forging cause it would enhance the crack growth.. well the material .. is left on the ground to cool and then the cracks which were formed are grinded to smoothen the surface ... after completing this .. the material is again forged .. and this time it comes out OK(surface as well as ultrasoundically). wht is the problem ... ??? well i dont really knw wht they have tried .. but now wht the company thinks is thts the way it is done ... this increases the cost .. but i think it isnt at all possible for a material to form cracks .. there has to b sumthing wrong (coz D3, H11,H13.. all come alright)
well i guess sumbody can tell wht to do .. and wht might we be doing wrong ..!
thanx u guys ..!
take care all.!
   Abhay - Friday, 10/03/08 11:32:16 EDT

Did anybody get info on Propylene & associated equipment at the demo at Quad State? I remember hearing something about using a different style cutting tip for use with propylene. Where can you buy the tips? Anybody use this gas on a regular basis? Comments?
   brian robertson - Friday, 10/03/08 17:19:38 EDT

graciae pero lo q quiero es tener una oportunidad de de trabajar en un taller para tener mas experiencia en mi tecnica de artista soy colombiano y mi maesto es suizo
   JOHNN ANDERSON - Friday, 10/03/08 17:47:42 EDT

Jacob Lockhart: There is a HUGE deposit of iron ore in NE Texas. That is why Lone Star Steel set up shop there about 60 years ago. There were several bloomery furnaces there over 150 years ago. Unfortunately, the ore is VERY low grade and LSS gave up on their blast furnace in 1988. However, if you should get to Longview, go north about 30 miles and you will notice the dirt is very red. Iron ore.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 10/03/08 19:27:40 EDT

Brian, seems like propylene would be hard to find on a regular basis, are you sure they weren't using propane? For that gas you only need a new cutting tip on your old torch body, but make sure your delivery hose is rated for it's use.
   Thumper - Friday, 10/03/08 20:16:31 EDT

Brian, by the way, it works very well for cutting (and lighting my coke forge), most salvage yards have switched over to it's use as it's more cost effective than aceteylene.
   Thumper - Friday, 10/03/08 20:18:41 EDT

I am getting my forge going and all is well but i had a few questions. one is when i heat my metal and work it out and get it tempered or cooled it looks all divited, how do i fix or prevent it. second is when making a blade or bladed tool how do i keep the edge from geting damaged.
   Sam - Friday, 10/03/08 21:12:55 EDT

Propylene: The guy said any 2 piece tip made for propane or MAPP will work, but tips made for propylene will work better. Those guys sure could use a hand torch, and I doubt I would get the good results THEY got with that gas. There will be fewer problems with weldback with propylene than with acetylene because it doesn't have the reducing atmosphere, and for this reason it isn't a good welding fuel.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/03/08 21:21:45 EDT

thanks quenchcrack, is the ore in flakes or lumps in the soil or finely mixed in with the soil if it is how do you get it out of the soil, and is there any ore you know of near Waco Texas? near the aquilla dam a few years ago when i was there before i got into metal an there was what looked like flakes of rust in the side of a small eroded hill, is that iron, will a magnet tell me?
god Bless and thanks for all the help
   - Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 10/03/08 21:42:32 EDT

I've been working on some mild steel and like the finish when I got it, gray, dark gray, almost black. However, I have to grind off the finish, but would like to have the steel returned to its original type finish. How can I do this. Or, is there a treatment to give it a dark antique type finish? Thanks, David
   - David - Saturday, 10/04/08 00:37:52 EDT

Jacob, I don't know if you have any iron ore near Waco. Red dirt is usually an indication that the soil contains a large percentage of iron oxide. The steel mills used to pelletize the dirt with some kind of volitile binder, then roast it to make sure all of the ore was in an oxide state, then drop it into the blast furnace along with limestone and coke. The blast furnace is very similar to a bloomery but due to the high temperature air injection, it gets hot enough to melt the iron that has been reduced from the iron oxide. Sounds like you need to research the process. Um...isn't there a Texas State Geological Survey in our State Govt? They should know where the iron is.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/04/08 09:50:52 EDT

David, try paint. Or, heat the steel to 500-600F and wipe it with wax or boiled linseed oil.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/04/08 09:52:10 EDT

Blackening Iron: Clean, ground or sand blasted steel can be blackened using a variety of quick blacks. Jack Brubaker recommends products from IPE.COM

Note that any finish of this type will require some finesse. Blacks start out looking like thin paint. They can then be sanded or scrubbed to show some of the metallic highlights or to lighten to a gray. This is best done by keeping the work wet after blackening and while sanding. Afterwards the finish must be sealed with lacquer.

In Jack Brubaker's demo on finishes at SOFA he used a variety of stains mixed with a WATCO DANISH OIL that is compatible with lacquer that was applied over the finish to seal it. He also recommended water based acrylic artists colors with an acrylic lacquer top coat.

All the above are for interior use only. For exterior use you start with clean metal, zinc primer, neutral primer then whatever top coat you wish. PAINT, good paint, is the only acceptable finish for outdoor work. If you want it to look like forge scale then match it. Use a metallic gunmetal grey or silver and then darken with a tinted clear. The final finish can be flat or glossy.

Most important to all finishing is a clean uniform finish. Sandblasting produces and even surface that will take treatment equally well all over. Care must be taken not to get oil or greasy fingerprints on the bare metal or during the finishing process. Wire wheels and grinding often create a feathered or scaled surface with smeared metal causing places where oil and moisture can be trapped. Both methods should be evaluated prior tor exterior use.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/04/08 14:27:03 EDT

Jock; IPE.COM doesn't seem to be the address intended. Another source for chemical finishing products is birchwoodcasey.com
   - Charlie Spademan - Saturday, 10/04/08 17:51:08 EDT

Brian Robertson,

I watched the demo on propylene at QS and was very impressed. A complete newbie made a very acceptable cut on his first try, and I tried it out and produced cuts that looked band sawed. Unfortunately, there is no supply for propylene down here in the VI or I would order their tips in an instant. One big advantage of their tips is that they are chrome plated so they slide smoothly on a straightedge, something that copper or brass tips simply do not do.

Sadly, since I can't get the gfas here, I tossed out the catalogu of their tips. They were extremely well made, far better than my propane tips.
   vicopper - Saturday, 10/04/08 18:39:24 EDT

Scale isn't a finish, but you can restore it to a steel surface you've ground by heating the piece to orange. I can't be the only one who's done that to hide the spots where I've had to grind my work.

Wax over tight scale is a very common blacksmith finish. It's *not* a very durable one, and some folks may say it doesn't qualify as a finish at all. But a piece treated that way and kept in a dry location in a climate-controlled building *may* last for years before it starts rusting. On the other hand, if you're selling your work and want your customers to come back next year, use a real finish.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 10/04/08 19:38:54 EDT

   - guru - Saturday, 10/04/08 20:37:39 EDT

I just bought an anvil from an estate sale that is about 110 pounds. It came out west around the turn of the century and appears to be in great shape. No markings on it though. If I send a picture is there any way to find out about it?

   Steven Clark - Saturday, 10/04/08 22:35:31 EDT

dose any one know why a finised piece of metal looks all divited like acid fell on it. and how to fix it.
   Sam - Saturday, 10/04/08 23:33:50 EDT

Sam, rust and corrosion pretty much cannot be just "fixed". On finished items you clean, prime, fill with filler according to the depth of the pitting, sand flat, let shrink, fill and sand again, then prime and sand again, then paint.

If its bare or plated metal you will have to replace it. OR reduce the surface mechanically (machine, grind or file, then sand and polish.) Plated work must have the plating removed, the metal refinished, then replated.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/04/08 23:56:03 EDT

Steven, you may send a photo to me. Click on my name. .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/04/08 23:57:03 EDT

One of these days when you don't have anything else to do, (?!?), maybe a FAQ on finishes/paint would eventually save some effort on your part.
"What's that magic oil that looks perfect and lasts forever?" seems to come up pretty regularly.
(I couldn't get 'chalybeate' in this post but I wanted to!)
   - Tom H - Sunday, 10/05/08 05:18:21 EDT

Tom, The chalybeate sheen seen in bogs and swamps is not the resulte of the magic oil you speak of. ;)

One of my first standing articles was on corrosion and its prevention and there I recommended sandblast, zinc, neutral prime and topcoat. . . I thought that finished it but you are right, there are other finishes as well as many that should be debunked.

It was nice seeing Jack Brubaker at SOFA recommending some of the hand applied type finishes I have been recommending for years. The problem IS that most smiths ignore color altogether (all brothers of Henry Ford I, "any color you want as long as its black"), do not include enough in their bids or quotes for a good finish OR don't think it is important.

Another part of the color issue is if you ASK the customer they will also be stymied with a momentary lack of imagination and say black. . . But if you show them samples of good polychrome work they will immediately have an opinion of other than black. Samples are important.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/05/08 09:10:15 EDT

I just bought a Buffalo Forge No. 149 Post drill at an auction. I can't find any information online. Does anybody know how old it might be? It is strictly hand operated, with no pulley for power input.
Thanks, -Kendal
   Kendal Green - Sunday, 10/05/08 13:24:31 EDT

endal, The 1899 catalog only goes up to #71 in drills so this must be a later model. So it was probably made somewhere between 1900 and 1950. Note however that some numbers are just casting numbers, not model numbers.

Occasionally these machines have a patent number that would be a clue.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/05/08 17:21:01 EDT

My grandfather was loaned an anvil that weighs 510 pounds. We cant find any markings except a big Z on it. Anybody know what brand it might be? Thanks.
   Matt Tessiers - Sunday, 10/05/08 19:53:36 EDT

CRaig: Forget right and left hand peens: They were just terms of convenience to indicate that they are opposite. No other useful meaning. THe one you describe, however, held in the right hand, would put the peen in the same position as a straight peen.
   - Peter Hirst - Sunday, 10/05/08 20:42:34 EDT

CRaig: Forget right and left hand peens: They were just terms of convenience to indicate that they are opposite. No other useful meaning. THe one you describe, however, held in the right hand, would put the peen in the same position as a straight peen.
   - Peter Hirst - Sunday, 10/05/08 20:43:03 EDT

Guru: thanks for the general info, but I am not so sure about the rough finish. I am very familiar with both rust pitting and new cast iron. This is new or new-condition cast. Very uniform, and exactly the color and texture of a new Wagner frying pan. How would that be the result of forging? The holders are unmarked. COuld they be modern knock-offs? The cutters look just like the originals mounted in the set I ahve used at another shop. Machined or polished finished with all the Little Giant markings. I realize the cutters are the heart of the matter, but I wonder what this set really is.
   - Peter Hirst - Sunday, 10/05/08 20:51:55 EDT

Peter, are the working surfaces ground smooth? If the working surfaces are rough they are low quality knock offs, or cleaned up rust pitts.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 10/05/08 21:40:03 EDT

Peter Hirst; It would be interesting to go through the patent and copyright records of the past couple of hundred years just to see how many different kinds of doodads and gimcracks of varying degrees of worth bore the name "Little Giant".
   3dogs - Monday, 10/06/08 01:56:11 EDT

Peter, tool steel doesn't look like that unless it has rusted or corroded.
   - guru - Monday, 10/06/08 09:37:53 EDT

Exactly: and it doesn't anything like rusted tool steel. I have cleaned up enugh of that to be very familiar with it. The cutters and guides are old but good condition tool steel, not a speck of rust, and the texture of the holders is definitely not pits. So I guess can only conclude that they are cast and knock-offs
   Peter Hirst - Monday, 10/06/08 14:27:54 EDT

hey im working on a hunting knife and its going great, the shape is perfect, its nice and thick to handle bones, but im having trouble geting one part done. that part is the edge, i cant get the angle right to start the tapering, i mainly just end up smacking the anvil more than my piece, ive tried light and heavy hammers and think my technieque is wrong, was wondering if any one ever ran into the same problem and could give me some tips.
   sam - Monday, 10/06/08 15:04:36 EDT

Sam, First, It helps to have a square faced rocker grind hammer (curved front to back and only a little side to side). Then if you work on the edge of the anvil your hammer can go below the face level without hitting the anvil.

That said, you should not be forging quite that close to finished. The edge thickness should be 1/16" to 1/8" (2 to 3mm) to allow for grinding off decarburized steel and scale.

If you need to work an actual edge then both the anvil and the hammer need a crown.

On top of all the above it does take time to develop accurate hammer control. Hundreds of hours of forging as accurately as possible. Depending on how driven you are this can take from months to years.

Hammer control is a balance of strength, coordination and visual acuity all gained with practice with a goal. If you don't see exactly where every blow is striking and know where the center and the edge of the hammer was for every blow you are not seeing what you are doing. There is a huge difference between your eyes seeing something happen and you mind LOOKING into that image and knowing what is happening. It is like people that look into the viewfinder of a camera and still cut off people's heads. They THINK they are looking but they are not. . .
   - guru - Monday, 10/06/08 15:47:47 EDT

I'm making 2" long leaves from 1/2" round stock, flattened. I'm trying to get some different colors from the metal, mild steel, and thought about heating them up.The leave were wirebrush prior to heating and were a silver color. First I tried heating them in a propane forge and cooling part in water and letting the color return to it. Didn't work well. Then, I tried just heating the piece with a plumbers torch, mapp gas, and I got some blue. I would like to get some other colors, but don't seem able to get straw, etc. I seem to get some blue immediately, but find it difficult once the metal startes to get really heated. I tried dunking it in water to cool it off again, and then reheating it, but not with great success. Because of the curve I put in the leaves it is difficult to grind off the scale, so I would like to stay away from the forge. Any suggestion? David
   - David - Monday, 10/06/08 16:32:21 EDT

Speaking as a geologist; it only takes a few percents of iron in the soil to make it very red; however you want over 50% iron in the ore to make for an easy smelt! Talk with a local college's Geology Dept on where local sources might be.

Matt are you in South Aftica or South Carolina---makes a big difference as to what the anvil might be! Does it have handling holes? What shape is the indentation on the bottom ?

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/06/08 16:33:24 EDT

Guru, re response to Sam, re Blade forging,
Wow, I'm so glad I checked in here today and saw that! I've been getting really frustrated lately that I have seemed unable to control the blades of some very small letter openers I've been working on. The number of heats required due to the rapid cooling of such thin sections was causing some ugly scale-pitting, and the edge was getting all wobbly despite my best efforts. All this time, and now I discover that I was just trying too hard and should have setteld for a small measure of stock removal. Boy, do I feel stupid!
   Craig - Monday, 10/06/08 17:12:18 EDT

Im in Louisiana actually. Its a cast anvil because you can see the parting line and it has a steel face on it. All i can say is that its a monstor. Any help at all would be appreciated. The only markings on it is a large "Z" towards the bottom on one of the sides.
   Matt Tessiers - Monday, 10/06/08 17:26:29 EDT


It sounds like you're looking for temper colors. They're pretty subtle and not very durable, so you may be frustrated trying to use them as a finish.

That said, the other colors appear at lower temperatures than blue, and there's no way to go back except sanding the surface off and starting again. Your Mapp torch may be creating a reducing atmosphere, and preventing the temper (oxide) colors from forming until the piece hits fresh air. Try heating a block of steel in your forge, resting the leaf on that, and watching closely.
   Mike BR - Monday, 10/06/08 17:46:40 EDT

David, The only answere is PAINT, see my post titled "Blackening Iron" a couple days ago.

Temper colors are only created on bright clean steel. The brighter and more polished the brighter the colors. However, it is only an oxide pattern an atom thick. It has no wear resistance and little to no rust resistance. It can be protected with clear coats for indoor use but can still degrade. PAINT is the finish for steel.
   - guru - Monday, 10/06/08 19:11:28 EDT

Big Anvil in LA: Matt, how do you KNOW it has a steel plate? Just because there is a rim around the face means NOTHING. In fact, true plated anvils are difficult to tell unless there is a fault. However, many junk anvils have a ledge cast into them to make it LOOK like they have a plate here:

Grizzly and Chinese ASO's

Grizzly makes a 500 I think. Could be what you have. there are darn FEW good old 500 pounders.
   - guru - Monday, 10/06/08 19:24:10 EDT

This anvil is not in any way new. A man my grandfather knows was given this anvil some years ago and it sat under a tree in dirt a good 3 inches in the ground. I am positive that it is not a Grizzley. My grandad has been a smith for quite some time and he wouldnt get anything that wouldnt be worth his time. I really appreciate your help. But i still would like to know what the big Z means. Thanks for reading. Matt
   Matt Tessier - Monday, 10/06/08 19:36:52 EDT

Forging D2 Tool Steel:

This grade is forageable, but the temperature must be controlled closely to prevent surface tearing. The surface cracking you are experiencing may be the result of temperture, die edge geometry, penetration speed, or the starting condition of your stock, that is as cast ingot or pre-forged billet. If you are starting with an ingot, you may need to ligtly forge all over before starting heavey reductions. Additionally, the modified chemsitry could be resulting in tungsten compounds neard the surface of the ingot which do in fact need to be ground out. It is common practice for many grades of stainless ingot such as the austenitic and precipitation hardening grades to be ground by the supplier prior to forging. Conventiional D2 should not need this grinding if everything else in the forging process is done correctly.

By the way, you can't compare the H series and the D series when discussing forgability. The D series are much more highly allowed and have a narrower temperture range in which they can be worked.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 10/06/08 19:55:39 EDT

Is the initial Z cast or is it perhaps welding bead? Maybe some previous owner arc welded his initial onto the anvil as a security measure.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/06/08 19:56:07 EDT

The Z is cast, the total weight is 510 pounds and there are no other markings.
   Matt Tessier - Monday, 10/06/08 19:58:46 EDT

Z for Zorro!

   - guru - Monday, 10/06/08 20:00:34 EDT

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. . . its been a LONG LONG day. .
   - guru - Monday, 10/06/08 20:04:09 EDT

thanks guru, ill have to get some pictures
   Matt Tessier - Monday, 10/06/08 20:22:26 EDT

hey thanks guru, im not quite sure what a square rocker grind hammer is but i understand what you are saying and how to do it know. and the last part of that message will help me understand the work i do better.
   Sam - Monday, 10/06/08 21:34:42 EDT

Craig, don't feel stupid for having learnd something. I had the exact same problem you are having, that is from trying to hammer a blade edge right down to the finish size and shape. The good folks here told me the same thing about not trying to hammer down to finish and, pointed out that the particular blade I was trying to make would likely not have been done that way anyway so I sould stop chasing my tail...I did stop, I explained all this to my customer and he agreed, I made it the way I could do best and he got his knife and I got paid... I felt stupid for not bringing it up sooner and assuming that it had to be done that way.
   - merl - Monday, 10/06/08 22:18:57 EDT

3dogs - there exists a 20" wood planer called a "Little Giant" I got one off ebay out of Lower NY state last fall. I'd place it as late 1800's/early 1900's manufacture. It was set up to run off an electric motor, but looks as though it may have been powered off a line shaft at some time. In its current version, its painted green.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 10/06/08 23:04:47 EDT

When sand blasting mild steel to remove scale, what types of material can be used for this. I know glass beads are used for some types of blasting. ?
   - David - Tuesday, 10/07/08 00:35:32 EDT

David, Technically it is "grit" blasting and all kinds of things work. For environmental purposes they even use crushed dry ice (frozen CO2). The only residue left behind is the rust or paint as the dry ice evaporates before it hits the ground in most cases.

Common "sharp" sand is used most often. Sharp sand is usually screened and cleaned river sand found high in a watershed. Beach sand is round and worn and NOT sharp sand. . . For hard materials or aggressive material removal an abrasive media like grinding wheels are made of is used. For the coarse cleaning of castings crushed hard steel (old RR-rail) is often used. For soft gentle deburring or for a smooth surface walnut hulls and other organic abrasives are used.

Parts can also be tumbled or cleaned in a vibratory finisher (a shaker) filled with special grinding media. Both are noisy but vibratory finishers are easier to maintain the water solution that keeps down dust. These are cleaner options to blasting and require less labor. Their down side is the limit of the work size that will fit.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/07/08 01:15:25 EDT

Well, my Physical therapy at the gym just got upgraded to a program for work conditioning, that is to get your body ready to go back to work. They call it "work hardening". I explained to my PT what that means to us. Thought you guys would get a kick out of it.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 10/07/08 08:27:17 EDT

Folks, a generality or two about sandblasting, if I may; white sandblasting sand, while cheaper than "black beauty" does not cut nearly as fast, hence, it may not be more economical, and the resulting dust clouds are highly toxic, potentialy causing silicosis, a horrible lung disease. If you must sanblast, controll your dust, and do not sandblast in areas where innocent bystanders may be exposed. Not only dangerous, but illegal. High pressure water blasting will leave shiny steel.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 10/07/08 09:19:56 EDT

Is your Brake Drum Forge, with the appropriate blower, suitable for burning coke? Thanks a lot.
   - markh - Tuesday, 10/07/08 10:16:24 EDT

Coke and Forges: Mark, There is coke and there is coke. Foundry coke which is very high density (the compress it while it is soft ans spongy) and comes in big lumps. It is almost impossible to use in any forge unless broken up to pea size. Blacksmithing coke often comes from the same places but is less dense and is gravel or nut size. This works OK in almost any forge.

When using pure coke the fire is VERY hot AND requires constant air to stay burning. For coke the heavier the fire pot the better. Refractory is best. That said, coke can melt any fire pot if you do not pay attention. The thiner the pot the more likely it it to burn out. So a brake drum forge may or may not hold up to coke. A good cast drum without a steel plate center (these are actually ductile iron) or a heavy truck wheel will hold up. Some of the small car brake drums with the thin steel center or light wheels may not. In all cases, commercial or DIY forge care in operation is required.

The advantage of coal and charcoal is that both will remain ignited without a blast of air. So you can shut down the air while doing whatever you need then fire the forge back up and have a hot fire in a minute or less. With coke if you shut the air down the fire will go OUT and restarting is as difficult as starting over again, maybe more difficult because the coke is hot and difficult to handle. Soft, forge made coke is similar but not nearly so quick to go out.

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/07/08 10:38:56 EDT

Thanks Guru! Is it true that coke doesn't smoke as much? Thanks
   - markh - Tuesday, 10/07/08 11:59:47 EDT

Coke, is like charcoal in that it has had all the volatiles, most of which are the constituents of smoke cooked out. However, some coal solids found in coke like sulfur still make smoke but it is much less.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/07/08 12:09:20 EDT

Thanks a lot Guru!
   - markh - Tuesday, 10/07/08 13:46:57 EDT

I ground the surface of some mild steel plates and dripped some muratic acid over it. I got a gold color to it. What other chemicals might I use to get some different colors? I want to see what colors I get before I go to painting.
   David - Tuesday, 10/07/08 15:13:37 EDT

David, The "gold" color was a thin coating simple rust. It will vary from a yellow that will not be stable to a dark brown which is fairly stable when oiled. You can get black and blue black using gun blueing. All of these finishes are oxides or compounds of iron and do not stop rust. At best they help hold a coating of oil.

Muratic acid (dilute non-laboratory grade hydrochloric acid) can act as an etchant, a colorant or a rust remover depending on the concentration and traces of minerals in the water. Rust will be hard to stop unless you rinse, kill with an alkali like baking soda (sodium bicarbonate solution) and rinse again. On ground and wire brushed surfaces the acid can hide in the millions of microscopic pores and is very difficult to stop.

Accelerated rusting for a fine finish is best done on a smooth (not wire brushed) surface using an simple oxidant like hydrogen peroxide which breaks down into water and free oxygen. The surface is cleaned, rusted in a damp box, cleaned, rusted, cleande, repeat. Eventually a dense brown is achieved. This can be boiled to help fix and then oiled. OR it can be boiled in a weak sodium hyroxide solution which will turn the brown a little bluer to a "plum brown". This is then oiled. See books on gun blueing for the exact process and details. It is also much faster to purchase bluing and blacking compounds from Birchwood Casey or EPI.com.

In ALL cases of chemical finishing any metal the surface must be absolutely clean and absolutely uniformly finished to achieve an even finish. Other wise the results can be splotchy, finger and palm printed, uneven, varying in color. . .

If you want to chemically color metal then the best choices are titanium which takes wonderful temper blues, color which accepts a wide variety of chemical finishes and aluminum which can be anodized and stained with a lacquer to almost any imaginable color, mostly rather garish but nice golds, reds and silvers (clear) are available. Anodizing is hard and wear resistant (aluminium oxide like saphire).

After dealing with chemical finishes you will learn to appreciate the simplicity and utility of commercially prepared paints. IF you cannot produce the finish and color you want with paint then you are not an artist.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/07/08 16:43:59 EDT

Mark, also with coke its not always easy to find coke it self and you have to use coal and make coke which is not the easiest thing in the world to do but it is posible.

the best break drum forge you can build is by using a semi breakdrum and cuting it down with a numatic grinder. then atach it to your table and hook it up to you air sorce and go. as the coal cooks as i say put more on the side of the break drum and when the coals are nice and red push your new ones on top. then useing a rake pull the bottem ones our from underneath your new ones after a while and set them to the side and continue this proces until you have a good amoutnt built up and through them on. and then circulate your new coals from top to bottem top to bottem while you are forgeing. thats how i make coke and it works quite well. i can reach a nice welding heat when they are coked and i can reach welding heat with charcoal. so my forge is compleatly functional with one bought and it cost me 200$ to make it. now its up to you to master how to coke coal( which im still learning) find and buy coke, or build your own furnace and make charcoal. all work to be a functionl blacksmith.
   sam - Tuesday, 10/07/08 18:25:41 EDT

Guru, I am looking for a pitted, uneven, old looking texture on mild steel. In your last post you mention not wire brushing the surface. Would that advice still apply if one were trying to achieve a pitted surface? Also, should the mill scale be removed first, or would it's resistance to corrosion contribute to a more irregular pattern? Plus, can you recomend something other than seawater, which would be reasonably safe yet agresive. For example, is hydrogen peroxide available in slightly higher concentrations? Thank you.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 10/07/08 18:32:49 EDT

Guru, do you have an ISBN number for the book "Forging Industry Handbook" that you refer in your review of "Pounding out the Profits"? I would like to add these and a few more to the tooling budget for next year.
Tried googling the book but I'm not sure I'm getting the right one.
   - merl - Tuesday, 10/07/08 18:34:32 EDT

Dear Guru: Thank you for all the info on coloring of metals. It has been very informative and helpful in my search for the right colors for my project. It is true about being an artist. I am more mechanical than artist and have enjoyed forging and making the parts to my project. I am having difficulty coming up with the right color combinations for the mild steel. I have been experimenting with patinas, acids, heat treatments, and different cleaning methods like wire brushing, grinding, leaving scale, etc. So, again, thank you for your input, as it has been useful to me and educational. David
   David - Tuesday, 10/07/08 18:43:25 EDT

Book Reference: My library is still somewhat in disarray from moving over the past 3 years (unbelievably still in progress). I'll try to bring home the balance of odd references next trip. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/07/08 18:47:15 EDT

Old Texture: I've seen 200 year old pieces that were as smooth as new and others with pits you could almost see through on 3/4" wrought bar. . . to pieces that had both textures them. . . Old is what you want it to be.

Chlorox bleach is a good fast rust, deep corrosion product. Anything fast is going to need neutralizing and serious cleanup. Ferrous Chloride (circuit board etchant) also works if you use it too strong and too long.

If you want separated pits you need to spatter your etchant from a distance then let it work over time. A single coat paint resist that is "stippled" with the pick end of a chipping hammer can be etched and thus give you some control.

On the other hand, I've seen Japanese sword guards that had an overall texture that was created one dimple at a time. . .

Again, this is an area that CAN be done in paint. If you need texture apply a thick coat of primer then peck at it as above. Then apply top coats and throw sand into it. Partially finish and use rub in stains then translucent flat coats. . . You can go nuts with this type of thing.

Jack Brubaker was doing some interesting coloring on coper where he degreased the copper, then coated with a dilute blackening solution than then splattered un diluted solution on the wet surface. This spread a little and darkened in a splotchy pattern. This was rinsed with water and another compound used to create a more varied Pattern. This was then coated with clear coat or a tinted clear coat to darken . .

There are MANY ways to create the texture you want. But true OLD corrosion is natures game and difficult to copy and look real.

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/07/08 19:08:25 EDT

35% Hydrogen Peroxide can be purchased at healthfood stores here. It used to be available in your country too, but I've seen rumours that it's sale has been restricted or monitored in the U.S.A. so I can't say for certain.
   JimG - Tuesday, 10/07/08 20:11:09 EDT

35% peroxide is and should be a restricted sale item.
I have used 85% and that is really scary.

At the valve shop we Black oxide coated tons of parts a month. Most were pretty darn uniform in the black phosphate appearance. There was NO nuetralization after the last phosphoric acid bath, just a cold water rinse. The phosphate coating was there merely to provide a micro crystaline surface to hold a high grade air dry, water displacing oil in close contact, in a nice thick film to protect the steel. Phosphate alone was good for a couple of hours in the salt spray cabinet. The oil alone was good for maybe a 100 hours but together 1000 hours was the required spec, and this coating delivered.
The phosphate coating once the oil was solvent cleaned off provided an excellent primer base, called " Bonderized"

This was not a home type process, and did generate large quanties of hazardous waste water that we had to treat on site in a custom built treatment plant.

Birchwood Casey has the best small shop system of any I have tried and I have used their room temp black and black oxide and both were very nice looking and easy to do. They used to sell a pilot plant kit for a fairly low price that was a 5 gallons system.

I have also worked in production anodizing plants and done lab scale. The lab scale is doable but requires more care to time and temp and things like current density. But doable. My Dad built a very high production rate anodize plant self taught from a book, that his company used to anodize the millons of pounds of aluminum extrusions from the extrusion plant he designed and built, also self taught. He did not know any better and built one of the first horizontal aluminum extrusion systems when the convential wisdom was that aluminum had to be extruded vertically down:)
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/07/08 20:24:09 EDT

The health foods supermarket near me (Northern Virginia)sells a hydrogen peroxide bleach. I couldn't find a concentration on the label, but suspect it's stronger than the 3% stuff they sell as an antiseptic. Probably ought to buy a bottle and experiment -- my wife claims she's alergic to Clorox anyway.

I did an optional experiment with concentrated hydrogen peroxide in 8th grade science class. I've had a healthy respect for the stuff ever since.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 10/07/08 20:44:24 EDT

By the way, if you're looking for odd ball chemicals, try a Chinese grocery. They know better than to say so on the labels (in English, anyway), but according to my wife, most of the chemicals are used as food additives.

Last time I looked, I found a chemical I would have killed for in junior high school. But if it really is a food additive, I can't figure out how they keep making so many Chinese (grin). And no, I'm not talking about melamine.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 10/07/08 20:56:06 EDT

I know a fellow that supposedly can make a moonshine still from sheets of copper. When I asked him how he did it he said that he just used a hammer to shape the metal. He would not provide any other details. Can you really shape a flat sheet of copper into a large pan? I would be interested in learning more qbout these metal shaping skills.
   Rick Saunders - Tuesday, 10/07/08 21:07:55 EDT

Well, I took a length of 1/2x 2" mild steel, wirebrushed the millscale off of one side, and put it in the salt pond in June. I am going to take it out tomorrow and make a wall mounted handrail from it. So I will have some answers tomorrow.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 10/07/08 21:07:56 EDT

Oh, and it is going inside, next to another rail I made from old metal, with a butchers wax finnish, hand buffed. The owner of the house does not want paint, and if he keeps waxing it now and then, he should end up with a type of brown finnish.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 10/07/08 21:11:27 EDT

Raising Sheet (Copper & Steel): Rick, Copper is the easiest metal to work. Steel is commonly formed into shapes you would not think, by hand.

See our Armoury Page, Raising a Norman Helmet and the following helmets. Copper can be worked the same way but is much easier. See also our book review of Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork

Building a still is largely done by soldering sheets together rather than by complicated hammering and raising methods. Many corners are rolled and hammered but complex shapes are simply made from sheet curved by hand and soldered together. BUT, a truly skilled craftsperson can make those pot and funnel shapes from a single piece of metal. Moonshiners were more interested in the product than the art of working the metal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/07/08 21:32:50 EDT

Rick-- www.Lindsaybks.com will sell you all sorts of books with detailed plans for turning sheets of tin and copper into vessels, ducting, etc. One I like is The Art of Coppersmithing. Then there is Laying Out for Boilermakers. The late, great Dona Meilach's firct book on blacksmithing has a nice section on raising vessels from flat stock. Tap, tap, tap, tap, anneal, tap, tap, tap....
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/07/08 23:47:55 EDT

Hydrogen peroxide, fun stuff. Get it into contact with the wrong metals and it instantly breaks down into steam and oxygen.
   Nabiul Haque - Wednesday, 10/08/08 05:43:18 EDT

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