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 8 - 15, 2008 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

DAN, can you get to the Quad-State Blacksmith's Round-Up in Troy OH Sept 26, 27, 28 ? (just off the interstate just north of Dayton) You can camp onsite to lower costs and *EVERYTHING* you could need or want for a smithing set up will be on sale there both new and used and antique---including books. There is also begining smithing instructions and a Demo by a bladsmith (as well as all the other demos going on at the same time) You can also hobnob with a lot of blademakers including at least one who did refair work, Adlai of Macabee Forge.

There will be a passle of us from the net forums there; I'm driving from New Mexico and Rich is flying in from the US Virgin Islands for it---it's *that* good.

More info can be found by going to the NAVIGATE anvilfire menus in the top right of theis page and going down to near the bottom to ABANA-Chapter.com and thence to Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil and the Quad-State 2008 link on their website.

If you can attend be sure to say Hi to me---I'll be the guy with the disreputable red hat. Oh---don't camp too close to the dog pound if barking keeps you awake.

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/15/08 11:16:00 EDT

Gooday from a very grey and very green ireland.
i intend to install a 2cwt clear space massey and would like to avoid running the unit from its 12 hp electric motor. the concept of running direct via belts from a stationary diesel engine has anyone any information. all tips are graciously recieved.
   myloh - Monday, 09/15/08 11:58:47 EDT

Engine Power: The critical thing here is a good speed control (governor) on the engine. Load varies with operation and a fairly constant speed is necessary. The ratio of the belting needs to put the engine near its peak HP speed unless the engine is greatly oversized. Also note that electric motor an internal combustion engine horsepowers are not equivalent. I'm not sure but I think the engine needs to be rated higher than the electric.

You might want to talk to John C. at Massie Hammers. He frequents this forum and I am sure he would gladly give you some advice.

   - guru - Monday, 09/15/08 12:17:09 EDT

Good man and thanks for that, i'll give him a call, and let you know of the progress
   myloh - Monday, 09/15/08 14:00:29 EDT

im needing a new anvil because i got cheped out on an ASO. im not needing any thing fancy and have 400 - 500 to spend. so i need to know what kind, what weight, and where should i buy it. please and thank you
   sam - Monday, 09/15/08 17:01:27 EDT

Ahh Sam, perhaps you can share with us what your plans/needs for the anvil are and where you are located?

Should we suggest a heavy industrial anvil, or a light portable one? Strictly knifemaking where you don't really need a horn; or one for general ornamental work.

Should I type out where in England there was an anvil in a junk store; or the one I saw besides the RR tracks in Spain or are you located in Australia or South Africa?

Shoot if you were near western Ohio in the USA there will be dozens of anvils for sale at the Quad-State Blacksmiths round up in only 10 more days and a LOT of good ones in that price range! (I'm driving up from New Mexico to attend Quad-State)

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/15/08 17:30:02 EDT

Sam, NEVER tell up front what you have to spend. It hurts your negotiating position and this IS a public forum.

See my "Selecting an Anvil" article in the FAQs section.

That money will get you a fairly nice used anvil but won't go far on a good new one. But a lot depends on where you are. Now if you are in Central America, say Guatemala or Nicaragua that money will go a long way if it doesn't get you killed.
   - guru - Monday, 09/15/08 17:37:45 EDT

Sam, I have a 120# anvil you can have for free if you can arrange to collect it some time. Then the money could go on something else.
   philip in china - Monday, 09/15/08 19:16:14 EDT

if your a bladesmith sam yu can make a good anvil from an old forlift tine, i havent cut and welded mine yet, but its a 6 inch wide 2 7/8 inch thick and 26 long hardened spring steel fork,if your a do it yourself man this works well. or with your .5 G's you could buy a good new one, i think you could get a smaller peddinghaus for that. and i have a question, how do the neo tribal Tim lively style forges work, the adobe kind, i was gonna make my own adobe style on a stump. Anyone ever used one? did you like it? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best)? Thanks, May your roof never fall in and those under it never fall out.
   - Jacob lockhart - Monday, 09/15/08 19:46:12 EDT

Myloh: A good rule of thumb is that an engine should make 2X the horsepower of the motor it replaces at the RPM You intend to run it at.
Engines from standby generators tend to have good governers. If You end up using the engine from a genset but don't have a specification for the engine hoprsepower, 2X the KW output of the generator will be the aproximate horsepower [minimum] of the engine at that RPM.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 09/15/08 21:06:31 EDT

I have a Harbor Frieight 64 1/2 metal bandsaw - got it a while back but all it wants to do is take a perfectly good $16 blade and run it up onto the rims of the wheels, bending it into an "L" shaped cross section. I tried playing with tension some, but to no effect... and it got expensive. What do I do?
   - vorpal - Monday, 09/15/08 21:09:08 EDT

you get what you pay for at harbor freight you might have paid for a decent one and just having some regular problems but you have to watch what you buy there.......central freight or whatever there main brand is not renowned for excellence
   - Jacob lockhart - Monday, 09/15/08 21:52:01 EDT

I just made a slake tub from a 1/2 oak barrel. I had to use some henry's roofing material to seal it from leaking. Should I do anything to it, should I treat it with anything, and how often should I change the water. Thanks, David
   - David - Monday, 09/15/08 23:38:39 EDT

4x6 Bandsaws: Vorpal, As Jacob noted, you get what you pay for. The cheap saws are notable for not having sufficient adjustments to make them run right. Paw-Paw had a brand new HF saw that only had maybe an hour on it when he died. I considered buying it from Sheri but the first time we tried to adjust the tracking we found there was no adjustment. Attempting to reduce the clearance of the side guides did not work. They would either leave a .015" gap OR would be overtight. We popped the seals out of the cheap undersized guide bearing while trying to adjust it. The saw was virtually given away the following week.

Many of these saws are made in small family workshops that have only a small cheap drill press, a mill/drill and maybe one of their own saws. Castings come from local foundries that supply dozens of these little shops making saws. Components made on press brakes are also made by others and one or two exporters will oversee the parts supply and sales.

On the other hand, I have the ORIGINAL American made 4x6 saw made by Ridgid Tools back in the late 60's and early 70's. All three wheels on each guide have large eccentric adjusters and the guide blocks have slots and two bolts holding them on so that they can also be adjusted. The top wheel also has tilt and rack (in/out) adjustments as well as blade tension. You can get this saw so out of wack it will not keep a blade on but you can also fine tune it to cut absolutely perfectly square. The table is heavy cast iron as is the head. It was not a high priced machine but it cost about three times what the imports cost NOW 40 years later. It worked, and worked, and works. . .

Blade tension is about the only working adjustment on the cheap saws but some have tracking as well. If the blade is not tensioned it will hop onto the guide shoulder. IF the blade is over tensioned the frame will deflect and the misaligned wheels will let the blade run off.

IF the top wheel is tilted forward too much at the top the blade will walk over the shoulder. The term for the wheel alignment is "being co-planar". The wheels should be as if they are each resting face down on a flat surface, that is, in the same plane. On a good band saw this can be set while the machine is stationary. Then fine tracking adjustment is made while running. Or cut off types you try to start co-planar with just a TAD of tilt to keep the blade running on the shoulder when the blade is tensioned.

IF the wheel tilts OUT at the top that makes the back high and the blade will try to run to the high point. IF running with a lot of force it will climb the shoulder.

SO, if your saw has both tilt and tension you can adjust both. If just tension. . then that is all you can do.

Note that the often use setscrews that are too short on the tilt adjustment. They should be long enough for lock nuts. Those without often get out of adjustment.

The CPO Jet website has the manual for their saw and how to adjust it. Hard to tell if the guides are any better than the others but Jet machines, while cheap do tend to work while many of the others never worked to start.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 00:00:17 EDT

Oak Barrel Slack Tub: David, All you should have needed to do is tighten the hoops a little by driving them on a half an inch farther and then put water in it. After a few days of minor leaking it would have stopped.

While oak barrels hold up quite well if kept full they will fall apart if let dry out. They will also rot if they set on damp ground. Otherwise just fill it and use it.

Normally the water will evaporate and need refiling regularly. Dump it out when you don't like the looks of the water. . . Often you lose bits and pieces or small tools in the bottom that need dumping out once in a while. Keep oil out. no soap. But Chlorox bleach keeps down mosquitoes. At least it did in my old shop. I'm not having much luck in the new one. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 00:07:45 EDT

I have been asked for my help with a strongman stunt, bending nails. One guy sent me a link to a page that recommends you buy 1/4" mild steel rod at Home Depot (get gouged on steel prices) and cut the rod to nail sized lengths. They say that it's the same as a common nail. I say BS, but can't find any sources about common nail steel content. I assume it's A36 or something close to it. But the work hardening process involved in nail manufacture throws the idea off its tracks anyway. Home Depot doesn;t know what type of steel they sell either. I say it's fine and dandy for excersize and build up to bend a regular nail, but it's not the same thing. Any comments?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/16/08 08:34:53 EDT

I'm BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCK! Made it through the hurricane with no damage, just a lot of tree litter to rake up. No power since Saturday at 1:30 AM. We are running on a generator but gas is hard to find. FEMA is doing their usual pathetic job getting supplies to those who really need it. Galveston is almost totally destroyed.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/16/08 08:58:50 EDT

Nail Steel: Because the modern imported nails are run through machines that cold head and pinch the point on by the millions the nail wire is a high quality super soft steel. It is a MUCH softer more malleable material than A36. I do not know what the carbon content is but I would say it is lower than SAE 1020. One reference I found states SAE 1006, SAE 1008. Try driving these nails into hardwood and you will KNOW they are soft.

If you want soft you need a good low carbon steel and then fully anneal it. Most wire or small bar products are drawn or rolled and are slightly work hardened.

If you want softer, then pure iron or not iron (aluminium, tin) is the way to go.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 09:08:07 EDT

QC, Glad you made it OK. Downtown Huston looked pretty bad as well. Buildings withstood it but most lost half their glass or more and had water damage.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 09:11:14 EDT

sam: First learn about the various anvil types, such as cast iron, cast iron with a steel plate, wrought iron body with steel plate or heat-treated ductile iron. My recommendation would be either a cast iron with steel plate (e.g., Fisher or Vulcan) or composit-bodied (wrought iron or mild steel) with a steel plate, such as Trenton, Arm & Hammer, Hay-Budden, Peter Wright, Mousehole, Foster or Wilkinson.

Another consideration should be hardy hole size. The most common hardy tool shank seems to be 1". If an anvil has a larger hardy hole it can be shimmed down.

Keep checking www.craigslist.com, searching on anvil under the nearest cities. Those will likely be within a reasonable driving distance to pick up, but can be as overpriced as some on eBay.

As noted above, where you are somewhat determines the value of anvils. They are fairly common east of the Mississippi River, but scarce west of it. Supply and demand at work.

Keep checking eBay. You can do a search on anvil within say a 200 miles range.

On shipping an anvil, up to 150 pounds can be sent via one of the ground services (e.g., UPS/FedEx). Over 150 it has go freight. At least with UPS an anvil does not have to be boxed up. Top can be covered with duct tape and the label taped it it. I've received/shipped a couple that way. UPS will charge something like $8 extra for being unboxed, but well worth the extra cost IMHO.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 09/16/08 10:02:59 EDT

I once worked in a small custom wood shop, (small because we were using 100 year old tools and so had to stay under OSHA's radar), and the boss decided he wanted to build a redwood hot tub.

So the semi shows up with a load of redwood and we go to making slats for a day, set up the multi ton woods 7 head moulder and the gang saw to feed it and run a lot of redwood through it.

The boss welded up some adjustable "bands" of heavy rod stock and we put it together, tightened it up and start filling it with water---leaked like a sieve. (he should have put a sprinkler in it to get the staves wet without wasting so much water leaking onto the ground)

3 days later it was tight as a drum and the outside of the staves felt only slightly moist and the boss had his 4'deep 10' diameter redwood barrel stave hot tub.

I use wooden buckets at demo's and have to start them soaking about 2 days before the demo to get them holding water again. Days of 4% relative humidity tends to be hard on barrelstave construction...

Thomas I leave for Quad-State tomorrow am, TGLWATCDR!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/16/08 11:01:11 EDT

I bought a double crosspein hammer with sharpened ends like it was set up for parting off. It has an a inside of a horseshoe and the number 2 on one side with a different style a without a horseshoe on the other side. Is this an Atha? If not any other ideas as to who made it? Thanks again everyone.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 09/16/08 11:59:09 EDT

Robert, Yes that is an Atha. This is possibly one of several tools. A mill pick, used to dress mill stones OR a welder's chipping "hammer" (actually handled chisel). Both have sharpened wedge shaped ends, occasionally on opposite axiis. In reality it is the same tool just used for different purposes.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 12:54:42 EDT

I'm an experienced welder/fabricator but a novice blacksmith which my wife now says is an addiction problem. So I just finished a large aquarium stand to buy her good will. Need pantina formulas and application techniques for iron other than 'rust' colored. Have seen photos with speckled gray/black finish that would look great but I'd appreciate any advise/direction/sources you could offer...THX, Keith
   keith - Tuesday, 09/16/08 15:47:04 EDT

Keith, That speckled finish is probably powder coating. Paint, paint and more paint is the way to go. The variety is infinite (look at automobile colors from the past 100 years. . ). You also need something that will resist spilled water, glass cleaner and condensation. Paint.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/16/08 16:23:41 EDT

Maybe fleckstone? After a few coats of a nice base maybe a stone type finish would work.

BTW Jock, I sent a copy of the nail info you wrote. Turns out the stunt isn't all that impressive once you know the material. I challenged the guy to bend a masonry nail.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/16/08 18:00:31 EDT

David- "You know you are a blacksmith from the North if..." you throw something in the slack tub and it goes THUNK...hisssss. Watch out if you are from an area where the tub freezes solid, it will break oak barrels. I have lost a few that way.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 09/16/08 18:48:46 EDT

ok sorry about that i was rushing to write what i had erliar. im needing a good anvil that will let me do light ornamental to heavy tool makeing. i live in iowa and am a fairly young blacksmith so i dont have the means to travel far to get one.
   sam - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:03:20 EDT

and philip if you do live in china im a litle to far to get it. and i have no clue were to find a good used anvil.
   sam - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:08:04 EDT

hey sam check farm auctions here in texas their relatively common
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:18:24 EDT

wait you dont have to come to texas i phrased that wrong, just check auctions.......
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:24:29 EDT

oh and if being young makes you feel at a disadvantage, i turn 15 the 21st
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:25:46 EDT

and i get an epiphone electric bass!! yay
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:26:32 EDT

oh and where can pure iron be found? do yall see it very necesarry to have the special tented foundry glasses or do safety sunglasses work? thanks a million
   - Jacob lockhart - Tuesday, 09/16/08 19:32:43 EDT

hey jacob how exactly do i check the auctions in texas
   sam - Tuesday, 09/16/08 21:43:10 EDT

hey jacob how exactly do i check the auctions in texas.
   sam - Tuesday, 09/16/08 21:45:25 EDT

Sam Look up postal zip codes in the phone book or other resource then punch them into auctionzip.com on the internet and check the listings. Most auction companies now have online bidding available or the good old telephone works too. You can buy stuff from all over this way and many auction companies are easy to deal with because they can be reported to the liscensing agency in their home state for fradulent activities.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 09/17/08 00:06:23 EDT

Thanks, Guru. Multipurpose hammers are the best. Got an even better deal than I thought.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 09/17/08 00:08:38 EDT

Sam, on-line via ebay. . . or via the auction houses. . many have web pages and you can bid by proxy.

Iowa is JUST across the River (and a state or two) from Ohio. 560 nice flat miles more or less. A good long days drive in a pickup or car sufficient to bring home an anvil and other iron stuff from SOFA Quadstate. . . You can camp on the grounds. Great event and its cheap.

For me its 350 miles and over the mountains plus a companion to help with the driving. . . (and adding to the costs) VIcopper is flying 1500 miles (one way) Thomas is DRIVING that far. . . (3,000 mile round trip) just to ogle the little iron he didn't haul away when he lived there. . . and say hi to friends. . .

Don't complain about distances. In the not so distant past the British blacksmiths would charter a plane to come to an ABANA conference. Some of the dealers at SOFA will drive heavily loaded trucks farther than you will. . .

Shaded glasses can help with your visibility, eyestrain and possible long term retina damage if you stare into a welding heat fire or a gas forge a lot. If you have patience and don't stare into the fire regular safety glasses are fine.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 00:11:55 EDT

I am building a hammer based on the "rusty" style hammer built by the Appalacian Blacksmiths Assn. The plans (guidlines) call for the leaf springs to be straightned before mounted to the hammer. My question is: Is it necessary to straighten the leaf springs or is it possible to use them with the arch the have as they come off the vehicle they were mounted to. If there is an advantage to straightning the springs what would it be?
Thank You ,
   Harley - Wednesday, 09/17/08 03:54:58 EDT

Distance... Ha!
   philip in china - Wednesday, 09/17/08 07:15:28 EDT

Right now is the second cheapest time of the year to fly. If I wasn't leaving for England next week and didn't already have close to the max weight for my shipping container already packed and stacked I would have come. Unfortunately I have to wait a few more years and come with the UK smiths.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 09/17/08 08:24:28 EDT

thanks all for helping me, and the reason i cant get to the SOFA Quadstate, is one im 15 and two its on my brothers weding day.
   sam - Wednesday, 09/17/08 08:26:03 EDT

Inconsiderate brothers. . tell them to elope!
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 08:49:26 EDT

Spring Shape: Harley, The force vectors on the springs need to be more or less perpendicular to the plane at the connecting point on the spring. You could leave the curve in, lower the pivot point and move the drive rod point toward the front and everything would probably work right.

Straightening the springs is not that big a deal. The hammer we are building uses trailer springs that needed a reduced arc. I just put them in a hydraulic press (a heavy vice or arbor press would do) and took out some curve.

With stacked springs you will need to disassemble, re-arc, and reassemble.

We also pushed out the plastic bushings (I thought they were steel and made a tool to do it. . .) and replaced them with bronze bushings. Stock sizes fit.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 08:58:31 EDT

Since TGN mentioned it, what sort of steel are masonry nails made of? The cut nails, by spark, just seem to be a very high carbon steel, but the striated, headed nails seem to be something else. Given the hardness, and the scale, I guess the cut nails are cut hot?

One advantage of my blacksmithing work that I've noticed as I've been working on the new forge building is that when a nail starts to bend I innately know how to adjust the hammer or where to strike to correct the problem. (As well as when it's hopeless.) Rejected nails are restraightened, on a little benchtop anvil I keep there, for further reuse. Very few bent nails (as opposed to clenched) in the structure, no matter what its other flaws.

Sunny and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 09/17/08 09:24:54 EDT

Carpenters and Nails: Bruce, most carpenters could correct an angled or bending nail at one time. . . Today however most houses are put together with nail guns and soon many carpenters will not have very high hammer skills. . .

Cut masonry nails must be heat treated. . . I know they will bend but are very tough. The hot dipped ring shank nails for treated lumber and damp locations are regular nails but there is something about the zinc that embrittles steel. Pressing the rings on the shanks probably also causes some hardening.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 10:41:12 EDT

I recently purchased a 1450 degree Tempilstik for some fire steels I am making. One thing I have found with the switch to a gas forge is it is difficult to tell the color of the steel given the brighter color of the forge, hence the need for the Tempilstik.

When I tried to use it this past weekend I found that it barely makes a mark on the steel and it is very difficult to see when it melts. I went back to the old way of judging crtitical and used a magnet.

Am I missing something about how to use the Tempilstik?

   RFG - Wednesday, 09/17/08 10:48:55 EDT

Tempil Sticks: The higher the temperature the harder they are to use.

Tempil states to put a mark on something then look for the mark to liquefy. In practice most people heat the work and when the Tempil stick can make a smooth running mark it is hot enough. Normally this is done on large work out in the open being heated with torches such as pre or post heat treatment of welds.

You might want to make a holder for part of a stick that you could reach into the forge and touch the work with it. . .

In the end this is not a tool for heat treating except in special circumstances. At heat treat temperatures a thermocouple will work quite well.

Using a forge that is a lot hotter than necessary for heat treatment is also tricky. If you want to get scientific about it you need to use a thermocouple and adjust the forge to operate at the proper temperature. The problem with most gas forges is the flames imping on the work and may heat it faster or hotter than the general forge temperature. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 12:18:35 EDT

Tempil Sticks - more: For critical applications you need three Tempil sticks. One at temperature and one each above and below the temperature. The stick below the target is to let you know you are close, the one above is for "not to exceed" applications.

Tempil sticks do not have a uniform number of steps so you have to go with what they have. While they seem pricey they are cheaper than many other temperature measurement systems and do not fail or break down. . .

For looking into that forge our #2 shade glasses are very helpful. . . You may also want to try the Didiyum glasses the Kaynes sell. Each has a different color/filter effect and visibility is slightly different.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 12:25:33 EDT

I've used blue bocker flip up clip on sunglasses on occasion. I am nearsighted though, and don't wear my glasses when doing close up work but it seems to work for me just fine when heating with the cutting torch.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 09/17/08 16:39:45 EDT


Thank you ever so much for the specific information. I was so specific as my main product is produced with 5/16 plate steel. One of my main competitors sells the name in cast stoves and we have always contended that for the primary purpose of heating a home 24/7 that steel is the better product.

In the last two years my company has come out with a cast model and we still say the same thing. But of course shoppers are getting information that steel warps and CI does not from my competitor.

No disrespect intended, but if I were to post your response in my store would you feel comfortable??? Or is there another source that you would feel more comfortable me quoting??? Thank you for your answer!!!

   - Mark Benson - Wednesday, 09/17/08 17:18:07 EDT

my bad sam i phrased that wrong just check farm auctions.
We have alot of those here is what i meant, bad punctuation on my part, but you can get a farm anvil at auctions some times
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 09/17/08 18:52:59 EDT

sam: You didn't say what type of ASO you were using.

The 110lb Russian import anvil sold through Harbor Freight retail outlets (if they still carry them) isn't that bad of a starter anvil. You will learn good hammer control (hitting the metal, not the anvil) and don't expect any resale value. Last I saw they were about $90. Hardy hole is 1 1/8", but can be shimmed down.

Is there a metal scrapyard near you which sells at retail? The one I use often has large chunks of mystery metal (probably mild steel) at $.25 pound and sometimes large chunks of stainless at $1.25 lb. On unknown scrap chunks use the steel ball test. Drop a steel ball from 10" and measure the rebound. The higher the rebound the more carbon (hardness) in the metal.

Is there a new metal seller in your area which cuts stock for machine shops. They may have end cuts from say 6" - 10" round stock. Put a stout vise with the top of the jaws at anvil top height and use it to hold hardy tools, such as hot cuts and mandrels.

As has been said numerous times on this forum, start asking just about everyone you encounter if they know of anyone who might have an old anvils for sale. Follow those leads. Still lots of them sitting in outbuildings, barns, etc.

If you are in a smaller community put a classified ad in the local paper to the effect: WANTED: Blacksmithing anvil and tools. XXX-XXXX.

A neighbor was a tool collector for over 60 years. He bought several anvils from catalog auctions using proxy bidding and paying extra to have them shipped to him. However, this is not a typical auction service.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/17/08 18:59:16 EDT

hey ken i looked at my harbor freight and online and couldnt find the anvil, i dont think their sold anymore. i would have bought that but couldnt find one so found me a forklift tine
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 09/17/08 19:11:05 EDT

never buy the 55 lbs SOFT CAST IRON hunk of waste from HF
i did the ball bearing test on it and it kinda dented the face, after i bought it....... not kidding, i would swear that thing is annealed, it is so soft
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 09/17/08 19:16:54 EDT

Wood Stove Material: Mark, Quote away. I'm, sure that in a few days we could come up with photos of cast iron parts that were warped, burned and melted.

I had a neighbor in the 1970's that had an old wood cookstove. She used it everyday of the year and heated the kitchen with it in the winter. Every couple years she would burn out the "fireback" a plate that created a space between the outside of the stove and the fire box. Many years before, her husband had gone to the foundry that had made the stoves in the 1800's and gotten a dozen cast. She had used up the supply and the foundry had modernized and even if you knew someone you couldn't get parts made. The old patterns had been scrapped. . .

SO, I made her a replacement from steel channel and bar. It worked about as long as the cast parts. But when she brought me the burned up part I REPAIRED it. I did this twice before needing to make an all new part.

The huge advantage of steel is it can be repaired and maintained for a very long time. If a cast iron part breaks you usually cannot repair it. So a replacement is necessary. As long as the maker stays in business AND supports their old product everything is fine. But when they are gone so is your supply of parts. . .

Neither material will hold up at high red heats. But steel can be repaired.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 19:24:05 EDT

Springs for hammers:

Before trying to change existing springs or make them, see if there is a spring fabricator in your area. I have had many springs made for me at Benz Spring in Seattle. I had two made that were 1/2 X 3 X 48inch with bronze bushings and I seem to remember they were like $70.00 for the two!
   - grant - Wednesday, 09/17/08 20:30:05 EDT

Oh yeah, they were straight, but you can get arc'ed or stacked or whatever.
   - grant - Wednesday, 09/17/08 20:31:41 EDT

Jacob: There are two separate parts to Harbor Freight, the on-line side and the retail store side. I've heard same family, different operations. However, I've found the HF retail outlets will honor a lower on-line or sales catalog/flier price if you bring it to their attention and they have it in stock.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/17/08 23:16:38 EDT

Thanks for the reply. As it happens I will be going to Ballard Spring in Worcester ,Ma. to have them add extra leafs to my new truck (as a smith I tend to overload my truck , I have broken two sets of springs on my old truck), so while there I may just buy some new spring stock and avoid the possibility of a spring failure due to unseen cracks or fractures in the springs I have scrounged.
   Harley - Thursday, 09/18/08 03:38:01 EDT

Good Morning Gurus

I wrote a while back about having used hydrochloric acid to remove plaster and lime scale on some steel doors in my house. The doors are thermo-lacquered (baked on paint).

Really bad decision on our part -- the acid got behind the panels and has eaten away at the steel door frame and the backs of the panels (we just cut out a panel on one of the doors and we can see the damage).

What is the best way now to remove the rust and "fix" the steel so that we definitively stop the corrosion process?

Thanks a million


   charles shick - Thursday, 09/18/08 03:49:14 EDT

Hollow Door Problem: Charles, Neutralizing the acid is a key task. The problem is that it sounds like there are joints in the door assembly and places that were not painted/coated. In any case acid may have gotten inside. It may be a bad design and there is no fixing it. In things with hollows (such as auto bodies and some doors) the steel is pretreated with phosphate and a light zinc coating before fabrication. Acids can remove this thin coating and the rust process starts again. Some hollow items are dipped in a tank and rotated to coat the insides. But this is an expensive messy process that is rarely used today.

Neutralizing an acid is done using a weak alkali. A baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) solution is commonly used. This kills the acid and may create a little salt which is also an electrolyte that promotes rust. So you neutralize then rinse well with clear water. Cleaning with soap and water is recommended as part of the process.

Acid is also used to remove rust. . . But mechanical means such as grit (sand) blasting can be used. This will also remove the powder coating (the baked on plastic).

Phosphoric acid is also used to remove or convert rust. . . but there are problems with the process and unkilled acid.

So, you kill the acid, mechanically remove the rust, then immediately repaint without getting oil or salts from your hands on the clean surface. This includes the inside of the part.

After cleaning (in rust protection cleanliness IS Godliness) my preferred long lasting paint process is to start with cold galvanizing (pure zinc powder paint), seal with a primer then a top coat suitable for the location. Multi-part assemblies need to be disassembled and at least the zinc applied prior to reassembly.

On hollow items I'll spray the interior with the zinc paint IF its accessible OR thin the paint and pour some in and roll the item to coat the interior. You do the best you can do.

I am not a fan of powder coating. It is environmentally friendly, inexpensive and makes a hard surface. But it is more sensitive to the starting condition than paint and once the surface is broken anywhere can harbor moisture which supports corrosion and thus large areas of flaking. It is also difficult and expensive to repair.

In the end, to do the job right it may cost more than the doors did in the first place unless they are VERY nice doors.

Hollows are a serious rust problem and some manufacturers do not treat the problem well enough. On automobiles the majority of the rust outs come from the back side. It is either from uncoated areas or places where sand and silt have been deposited, stay moist and rust through. Restorers strip and completely disassemble old automobiles, clean (usually sand blast), prime, reassemble the body parts, then paint. It is usually better than the factory provided but by this time the car is usually worth a great deal more than when new. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:00:24 EDT


Thanks for the replies about the Tempilstiks.

What might I expect to pay for a decent, useable thermocouple? Brand name suggestions? (So I can search for them online).

I'm going to play an order for a couple pairs of the safety glasses in you store.

Thanks again.
   RFG - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:47:22 EDT

That should be "place" an order
   RFG - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:47:52 EDT

hey ken they stoped selling the russian ones about 2 years ago, i bought one of the china forge 110s there and ive but giant dents into it. so im trying to get a new way better one and am using an old iron weight as a finishing anvil and my ASO as an heavy work anvil till i get enough money to get a new and find one to get.
   sam - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:49:14 EDT

and dose anyone know of any auction websites besides the obvious ones.
   sam - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:51:59 EDT


Thanks for your help. I will let you know if I need pictures.

   - Mark Benson - Thursday, 09/18/08 12:20:01 EDT

hello gurus,

so many thanks for your response. to work we go with all that you have suggested ...

humbly & thanfully yours

   charles shick - Thursday, 09/18/08 14:35:05 EDT

hey i needed to know the carbon content of a couple of differnt metals there 1018 d2 a2 an 4340 thanks
   denny - Thursday, 09/18/08 18:02:12 EDT


In the four digit series, that last two digits express carbon content in hundreths of one percent, so 1018 is 18/100 of one percent, also written 0.18%. The 4340 has 0.40% carbon. 4340 is also a nickel-chromium-molybdenum alloy steel. D2 has typically C 1.50%; Cr 12.00%; Mo 1.00%; and V 1.00%. A2 has typically C 1.00%; Cr 5.00%; and Mo 1.00%.

If you order these steels for forging, you should request the forging and heat treatment specs, as they vary from one steel to another.
   Frank Turleyf - Thursday, 09/18/08 18:38:58 EDT

Denny, The Two SAE/AISI steels (1018 and 4340) have the carbon percentage in their name. 1018 = 0.18% C, 4340 = 0.40% C. The D2 and A2 are tool steels that are easy enough to look up.

The carbon is not the only thing that effects hardness. Manganese in the alloy tool steels increase their hardenability so that they more nearly through harden and the A2 is air quench it hardens so easily. So you have to look at the whole, not just the carbon.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/18/08 18:41:59 EDT

hello gurus,

thanks again ... and one more question ...

we're heading into winter here so can this wait until spring, or is the rust continuing?


   charles shick - Thursday, 09/18/08 23:30:58 EDT

I'm making a metal flower that will also have water coming out of the center. A few people have suggested using auto-motive primer, paint and clear coating so it will last and keep the colors. Any other ideas about getting green, yellow, and brown colors to keep that have water on them for hours each day? Thanks, David
   - David - Friday, 09/19/08 00:55:39 EDT

Sam: Take a look at eBay auction #350100023956. 1836 WILLIAM FOSTER with the heel broken off. My guess it originally went about 130 lbs. Since it is damaged it should sell cheaply. You can use your ASO for a hardy tool holder.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 09/19/08 07:05:20 EDT

Fountains: David, Most of these are made of copper or copper alloys (brass, bronze) that turns green on its own or can had a patina applied chemically.

Clear coats are generally not water impervious and corrosion will go on under them. The are often applied over copper which corrodes slowly to hold the color and give some gloss.

But an iron or steel fountain is going to have very serious corrosion issues unless it it 100% stainless steel. Even then you have to be careful about what comes in contact with the stainless and how as well as finishing. Stainless will turn the same black as steel when heated and forged. Often this finish holds up very well to weather but it can become rust stained. It is a gamble especially in a fountain.

The other thing you must be careful about in a fountain is bimetalic corrosion. Even copper and solder have a reaction. Most mixed metal fountains are copper/brass or copper assembled by brazing. That is as far as you want to go. Screw a steel fitting into a bronze fountain and the fitting will fail in a year and the rust will stain the fountain. . . Use copper or brass plumbing parts on a steel water tank and the threads will often fail in a couple years.

If you want a brightly painted fountain start with copper and brass. Then etch it to create and even "tooth" so paint will stick uniformly. The primer coat must be one designed for copper. Usually the self etching primers for aluminium and zinc will work but you MUST ask your paint supplier.

Your primer must be compatible with the top coats. If you are going to use automotive lacquers then the primer must be a lacquer. If you are going to enamels you can apply them over enamel OR lacquer primer. For this project I would use lacquers. For small highlights and varied colors you can use the small touch up cans over whatever your majority base coat it IF its lacquer. On this kind of project I would avoid the water based lacquers. You may also clear coat over the top coats and it is recommended especially if you use light thin glazes or air-brush type work.

When picking colors don't avoid the metallics. Many people do not think of using them on iron work but they can look great as well as being using in combination with non-metalics to give some areas a little "metallic sheen". You can get VERY creative using paints on metalwork. Sadly very smiths few do.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 08:49:54 EDT

Well gents, I've decided to stop making excuses and go for the gusto; I'll be driving over to Quadstate from Colorado Springs. That being said, does anyone have any advice or recommendations as to what I should bring/expect?
   MacFly - Friday, 09/19/08 08:55:34 EDT

Winter Rust: It depends on your climate. In very cold dry locations where the cold is consistent and stays below freezing rust slows or almost stops. But in areas where you have cold, then mild and then cold then mild this is the WORST time for rust. Condensation is the primary agent in rusting not rain. So when it gets cold at night and then you have a damp foggy day that fog or moisture in the air condenses on every thing that hasn't warmed as quickly as the air. This is often metallic things.

In a house door the problem is usually the difference between indoors and outdoors. It can be cold and dry outside but warm and moist inside OR the opposite during the summer with air conditioning. The barrier between these two is where condensation wants to occur. Generally metal doors have insulation in them to reduce the temperature differential but the edges can be where the problem is. On some standard steel doors they have a wood rim and the steel from each side is slightly separated from the other. On fire rated doors the steel covers the wood. . .

The big problem is that steel parts will often go for decades without a rusting problem with minimal protection, then in other cases, especially once corrosion starts it tends to accelerate and can be a constant battle.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 09:12:06 EDT

Going to SOFA: For starters the weather there can be like the joke, a cold rainy hot sunny day. It can be in the 90's or in the 40's. If cold it is usually wet. But even in good weather thunder storms are common and very likely this year. But you never know. . so come prepared for lousy weather.

Get there early. Now some folks have pushed this a bit and were getting there on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning for a show that starts Friday. . . The officials have been unhappy about this in the past and you MIGHT be turned away. Most of us are getting there Thursday night. They DO have other events that often go on there at the same time.

We are registered at the Holiday Inn. Its not cheap and there seemed to be plenty of rooms available. Motel row on the Interstate is right across from the Wall Mart so if you forget something its convenient. Camping is what they call "primitive" (no hook ups) but is where all the fun is. Parties often go late into the night. The official policy is no alcohol. . . ;)

Plan on hauling stuff home if you are in the acquisition stage. I am no longer, but ALWAYS buy something. . . Its too far to go and the deals often too good to pass up the opportunity. Bring money or something to trade.

They have meals on the grounds but they are often a long wait, easy to miss and not very good (sorry folks). But there are lots of restaurants in town fairly close by.

While it is not a huge three ring circus like the ABANA event had gotten to be, there is still more going on than you can see all of. There are usually three demo areas, classes, unofficial demos and acres of tools! I have yet to sit through a full demo. . . the tools, the tools CALL to me. . buy us, buy me, take us home and love us . . .
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 09:37:39 EDT

a couple Paley candlesticks on ebay will be fun to watch.

   - jamie - Friday, 09/19/08 09:45:05 EDT

I'm getting more excited by the day! It'd be much easier to fly, but I don't think I could fit all the stuff I know I'm going to buy there in a suitcase... Anyone happen to know what the overweight luggage charge for an anvil is ;P? Plus my truck will also serve for billeting while I'm there. (More money for tools!) Has anyone heard if the after-effects of Ivan might affect the drive? The rumor-mill here is that power is still out in parts of Indiana and Ohio...
   MacFly - Friday, 09/19/08 10:16:13 EDT

A friend carried a VERY heavy bag with tools and (chain) maile in it that was maybe 75 pounds. . . Cost $25 extra. But that was before 9/11 (a while ago). Another friend tried to bring home several French hammers in his carry-on from Flagstaff in 2000. The airline didn't like the look of them and had him check them. I've known various blacksmiths that demonstrate that hand carried their kit of tongs, hammers, punches and such. But this was before 9/11.

I took all the plumbing parts and kaowool for a gas forge to Costa Rica in my checked luggage one year and 20 pounds of Borax on another without a problem. But I was SURE I was going to get called to security on the forge burner parts.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 11:03:04 EDT

Jamie, long URL's break our page. On ebay items the item number is sufficient.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 11:06:04 EDT

I fly with tools all the time.
Just flew to Minnesota and back a week and a half ago with two big bags, including a rotohammer, an inverter welder, and a lot of hand tools.

The current rules are just slightly looser than just after 9/11, but they still wont allow virtually any tools in carry on.
I have gotten crochet hooks on lately- but thats about it- 1/4" diameter aluminum wont get em grouchy- but no way could you carry a hammer, or a screwdriver, or a pair of visegrips in your carry on these days.
Checked luggage, most tools are fine. Obviously, no aerosols or gasoline, no explosive charges for your hammer in concrete anchors.
I did have TSA come and talk to me in the airport in March, when I had checked both a small inverter welder and a small transformer style electropolisher, along with lots of extension cords and welding leads- they just checked me out, and told me next time, let em know what I was checking. I guess they thought all the electronics and large copper windings were suspicious.
Pretty much every airline is now charging you $25 for your FIRST piece of checked luggage, then usually $50 for the second. Most will charge you more if any individual bag is over 50lbs. I carefully pack and weigh my tool bags to weigh just under 50lbs, and hopefully less on the rebound, as there are usually anchor bolts and hardware I leave behind, installed, but its still not uncommon for it to cost an extra hundred or so to fly with a lot of tools.
Of course, compared to the cost and time of renting unfamiliar equipment on site, its still much cheaper to pay, and take my own.
Most airlines will set you up with air cargo if you really showed up at the counter with an anvil- and charge you a bunch more. I guess you could buy it a seat, like many musicians do for their instruments.
   - Ries - Friday, 09/19/08 11:25:42 EDT

I'd love to see the look on their faces as I struggled down that skinny little aisle toting a 200+lb anvil... "does this count as my hand-carry, or one personal item?" But I figure the drive back will give us time to bond and get to know each other; build a good working relationship, ya know?
   MacFly - Friday, 09/19/08 12:07:31 EDT

Power outage in Indiana,
I don't know about ohio, but the power is MOSTLY back on in Southern Indiana. Not however at my house. Out since Sunday, with the promise of 2 to 6 more days. I am thinking I may have to go to SOFA to get a hot shower (:
   ptree - Friday, 09/19/08 13:02:11 EDT

Hi, I'm just starting to learn blacksmithing and have been at it about 2 hours a day for the last 4 months or so. I've built a forge (modeled after Tim Lively's design, slightly modified as I added some home-made refractory bricks to the top to both cut down on fuel consumption and provide more heat--sort of like an oven) with great success and am using lump charcoal for fuel (again, with great success). My current anvil is a 9" section of railroad track, turned upside down, raised about 2" and set into a 5 gallon bucket of cement (moderate success--worked great for the first 2-3 hours, until the cement developed some small cracks introducing a horrific ring. gonna work on either using fiberglass reinforced cement, or just a good 3-4 inches of fiberglass mixed in with epoxy for the top part of the bucket--I'll let you know how it works).

My main question is this (and there's too much info on anvilfire to sift through--I've spent hours looking and my eyeballs hurt now!): What is a good, commercially available material to use for tongs? I've made a couple, following the designs I found here, but have been using that hot rolled garbage from home depot (couldn't pass up the 3' lengths for $2) and it's just not tough enough to stand up to normal use as it's a little soft (I've tried hardening it and it's still pretty bad).

Any suggestions would be great.
chris from Sacramento
   Chris F. - Friday, 09/19/08 14:11:28 EDT

i was wondering if i would be able to use a weed burner to run a gas forge one of the teachers did it with a kiln at my school so i thought it might work
   Dent - Friday, 09/19/08 15:10:55 EDT

Tong Steel Chris, Mild steel works fine. They used to make them out of wrought iron. You just have to be sure not to make places near the jaws to thin. Tong reins should gradually taper from nearly as big as the joint is tall to as small as 5/16" (9mm). A gentle taper makes for nice springy reins that are easy on the hands as well as gripping tightly. If you can bend the tongs then they are too light.

On the other hand, I make tongs for 1/4" (6mm) work that can easily be bent. But you should not have to squeeze THAT hard to hold something that small.

Try starting with at least 5/8" square or 3/8" x 1" flat to make tongs.

   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 16:00:47 EDT

RR-rail anvils: Chris, See our anvil making articles particularly the RR rail anvils.

I just had a fellow from Belgium send me photos of a RR-rail anvil on a wood stand almost exactly as shown in our iForge demo and anvil making article. He inlet (carved to fit) a deep socket into a wood stump to hold his modified RR-rail anvil. He put a leg vise on the same stump and the whole is his portable outfit. We will get the photos posted in the near future.

Concrete just IS NOT an anvil nor anvil support material unless the anvil is very massive. Try to find a piece of log. If you cannot then you can build a "log" from construction grade lumber. Just cut, glue and nail. See our iForge anvil stands article as wel as the RR-raila nvils article.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 16:17:19 EDT

Weed Burner Forge: Dent, it works but uses an awful lot of gas. See our FAQ's page and the Gas Forge articles.
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 16:21:32 EDT

Flying with Tools: Several years ago we talked about having a CSI conference at VIcopper's in the Virgin Islands ;) Rich said "bring coal".

WELL. . . ever since then I have wanted someone with cartoonist skills (I can draw but cartoons are a specialty) to draw me a cartoon of a line of big guys wearing Carharts at the airport trying to go through the metal detector while carrying a bag of coal under one arm, an anvil under the other and hammers and tongs in their back pockets. The security guards would look a little like Barney Fife going nuts and scratching their heads. . . . Visual sounds effects would indicate that the metal detector was over loaded !!!!

This was before 9/11 but the gag is still a good one. . .
   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 16:37:06 EDT

MacFly: If you are flying in you will arrive at the Dayton Int'l Airport. Q-S will not have any type of bus service from airport to motels to site or reverse. You are on your own. If you plan to acquire much tooling you really need to drive.

To make trip cost, and if blacksmithing anvils (or tooling) are in short supply in your area), you might buy a couple for resale. (One Q-S I came home in a Ford Ranger with an anvil in the passenger compartment floor area and another in the passenger seat area.)

My observations is one year anvils are plentiful and reasonable and postvises are scarce and expensive. Next year reverse.

There are hot showers and restroom facilities on site. Food is a mobile truck or on Saturday evening a bit expensive catered meal. Fairgrounds has a kitchen/dining room area there but I don't know if it will be open. No campfires allowed unless in a raised pan - no evidence left behind. (One evening years ago I saw a couple of folks cooking hotdogs over a forge in the U-Forge area.)

Friday use to be a 'dead' evening, but SOF&A has been moving towards making it the opening ceremonies and then some type of demostration.

As noted, unofficial booze rule is to keep it discrete, within control and out-of-sight. A couple of folks do come to Q-Ss to 'party'.

SOF&A has been a group of really laid-back folks, but more and more and more tend to be more on following the rules.

As noted above, the Miami County Fairgrounds is located just outside Troy, OH which has numerous fast food places and various motels. Also some motels at one or two interstate exchanges going towards Dayton.

SOF&A has a permanent building there and then rents some of the fairgrounds buildings and camping/parking areas for the event.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 09/19/08 17:46:49 EDT

   sam - Friday, 09/19/08 18:49:01 EDT

Thanks for the tong material advice--I'll try that out this weekend.

As for the concrete issue as an anvil support--the track is upside down--so the "face" of my anvil is approximately 9" X 6"--the actual track part proved to be too difficult for me to work on as it was curved and only about 2-3" wide. I've also got it raised up about 2" (used a couple of 2x4's to level/support it when I poured the cement, so I could actually bend something on it and use the edges for operations that require some side clearance. And just to be a pest, I'm still going to give the fiberglass idea a go--I'm an aircraft mechanic by trade and have access to carbon fiber, as well as kevlar--just don't know how well that stuff would hold up as a "support" for my track). In the near future I'm going to track down some 6x6x12" stock, mill a 1" groove in the end, bolt on a plate (to make a hardy hole) and then go with the wood base idea.
   Chris F. - Friday, 09/19/08 19:49:56 EDT

Chris, As a mechanic you should know that it is the mass that is important. When hammering on the flange of a beam there is no mass under the hammer. The steel deflects and whatever is under it takes the force. Take your piece of rail, set it on end and hit the end and feel the difference.

The fiber reinforced plastic will hold up better than the concrete but it is not a lot better support other than it will not crumble. It will just deflect under the steel.

   - guru - Friday, 09/19/08 20:24:35 EDT

Sorry bout the long url. Set of two Albert Paley candlesticks, 1992. ebay item # 370087034078


   - jamie - Saturday, 09/20/08 09:55:21 EDT

My husband has come across an old anvil and has had me researching the markings on it. I need help, please! I have made out that the markings 1 2 11 are the weight and how to figure it. I came up with 179 pounds. That's 112 + 28 + 28 + 11. Is that correct? The writing is hard to make out, but I have gotten 4 rows on the side clean enough to read as follows:
I think this is a Mousehole anvil made by Mr. Dudley in Wales or Sheffield, England. I found some information about his works. I also found a page that showed the WO symbol (and then lost where I found it) as Old 1962 = Monmouthshire and New 1974 - 2001 + Casdiff (the capitol of Wales).
This anvil has the classic Mousehole design, as compared to all of the photos that I have located online thus far, but there are some details that I don't know.
1. On the bottom there is a hole that is split corner to corner with a divider, making two triangular shaped holes out of the almost square hole. The hole appears to be about 1 1/4" across, and looks to be a square shaped.
2. On the horned end running all the way through to the other end of the anvil, is a rectangular hole that is around 5/8 x 7/8" or either 5/8 x 1", I can't really tell, we are still trying to clean it up.
3. The two top holes, opposite of the horned end, I understand what the 3/4" square one is for, but not the small round one that is off-set of the square one.
With this description, can you help us identify the age, origin, and history of this anvil? Also what tools were used in these hole and where could I find them nowadays.
It has the two-step horn end, the smooth sides out to the feel (no church house windows), and on the ends, there is no writing and only that rectangular hole. The ends are smooth designed down to what I call the base ridge that is about an inch straight up from the bottom before it begins it's sland inward. The sides posess the same character.
Also, what is the best method of cleaning it without damaging the writings?
Thank you so much for being available to total novices such as myself, and giving of your valuable time. May our Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you for your kindness.
   Deanna - Saturday, 09/20/08 11:56:11 EDT


Mousehole Forge was located in Sheffield, England. Your markings indicate an anvil from Dudley.

Can you put anvil on side with the logo up. Dust with flour, bush off, leaving reside in indentations and then take a photograph of results. You send to me as an attachment (not in body text please) and I'll see what you might have.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 09/20/08 12:19:41 EDT

Odd Anvil: Deanna, Some of your description does make make sense or it is an odd anvil. It helps to NOT know what you are reading on the side of the anvil and not let your mind make things up. The was a series of owners at Mouse Hole Forge but ALL Mouse Hole anvils were made at the same place. Many had terms like "warranted", and "solid wrought" stamped on them. Forge owners vary from none to C&A to M&H Armitage. The anvils varied very little with some minor changes over the years. However, they DID make different styles including Sawyers, Double Horn and Cutlers.

Mousehole anvil photo

Mousehole anvil photo
Two Mousehole anvils
   - guru - Saturday, 09/20/08 13:57:33 EDT

Can steam generate enough heat to expand a 43 degree cylinder ring to 45 degrees?
   Carlos - Saturday, 09/20/08 16:56:05 EDT

Expansion of Rings: Carlos, when a ring shape is evenly heated the gap grows larger but the measured angle remains the same, the part is just bigger. If you spot heated a point opposite the gap on the inside of the ring it would open the gap until the heat penetrated the ring. When shrinking ring gears onto automobile flywheels they are only heated to about 325°F. While not very hot, it is well below norm steam. Of course you COULD have superheated steam. . .

I'm not exactly clear on your geometry or purpose. But the above may help.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/20/08 21:56:18 EDT

Could someone tell me a good supplier of small quantities of L6?
   Jesse - Saturday, 09/20/08 22:36:10 EDT

admiral steel has an L6 alternative called 8670M
   - jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 09/20/08 23:09:24 EDT

some saw blades are made from L6 like wood bandsaw blades
they talk abit about it here
   - jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 09/20/08 23:17:28 EDT

Large wood cutting and non-edged band saw blades are the primary source for many bladesmiths. Once you find a ssource it becomes pretty plentiful if the saw is used a lot.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/21/08 09:49:52 EDT

Sorry for all the confusion about my RR anvil--my reasoning for it's construction was that it was all I had at the time (also got it free from a coworker) and I just wanted to get started hammering stuff. I'm well aware that it does have considerable flex and not a lot of mass under the work. I originally didn't want to mount it the way I did, but then thought, "this will sort of work for now, and if it doesn't, I'll have a pretty inexpensive work surface for hot cutting and small work that I really won't care if it gets dents, dings, cuts, etc."

As soon as I can, I'm going to get either a chunk of mystery metal from a scrapyard, or a tractor counter-weight, or just spring for a chunk of A36 and then mount it on wood (I saw the staggered 2x12 on the anvil stand page and really like that design).

Thanks again.
   Chris F. - Sunday, 09/21/08 10:12:41 EDT

Can Pure iron be bought anywhere in resonable quantities for 1 man preferbly small quantities, i was gonna try to make some wrought iron by melting the iron and putting a little peice of mild steel in it and experiment to get it to match desrciptions
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/21/08 20:28:15 EDT

is this guy using briquettes?
if he is what kind?
oh and thanks i finally have kept up with my responsibilities and my dad is letting me make a forge and getting the tools, as far as info yall have been excellent help thanks
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/21/08 20:32:54 EDT

oh and for a ways in the future, as a hobbiest bladesmith how should i sell what i make? fleamarket? internet?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/21/08 20:46:05 EDT

Yeah he's using briquettes, doesn't really matter what kind since they're all made from glued together saw dust and bits of coal. Don't use them for forging, use for cooking. They burn at low heat, create smoke and have a tendency to break up into dust that just pours down into air vents. I also suggest you don't use the video as an example, he is hammering down heavy stock on a non stable platform that doesn't look to be the right height for him.
But don't go on just what I say since I use a kneel at forge.

I'm sure one of the other guys can tell you how easy it is to gain life long injuries/ conditions from improper hammering.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 09/21/08 21:30:42 EDT

Marketing your work: If you sell at flea markets you will get flea market prices (old used, much less than NEW, junk prices). Yeah, they sell new stuff there. . . Special made in China junk for fleamarketers. . a lot the same as found on ebay. Same for craft shows held in parking lots.

A blacksmith is an artist craftsperson that makes things that he or she should be compensated for at a rate that they can support themselves. Generally this means you cannot sell to your friends or acquaintances because you are selling ART that is sold to people with disposable income. IE, folks a lot richer than you (in almost every case).

Folks that buy ironwork have a second house or several vacation homes each for a different season. Folks that buy ironwork don't have mortgages they OWN mortgages of others or rent to others what they own. Folks that buy ironwork can afford to buy a new car every two or three years. They are the "effete" snobs you like to make fun of. They have money and like to spend it on PRETTY things.

When marketing your ironwork think Rodeo Drive, the theater district, all those tony places that you probably feel uncomfortable in. Those are the places your customers shop.

And while you are at it. THINK about the finish you put on your work for these folks. If the Valley girl picks it up and gets a smudge of black wax on her fingers or feels oil not only do you lose a sale but the place handling your work will dump it in the alley out back and call you tomorrow to pick it up. . .

Folks that sell ironwork advertise in Good Housekeeping, Modern Bride, Old House Journal. .

You want to sell through a crafts boutique or art gallery, not a "craft shop" that sells ceramics. When you price your work remember it is the LIST price that you will give and expect to take half on commission or 40% on wholesale. . .

Generally if a shop wants to do a "commission" deal with you that means they don't like your work, its not good enough, OR they are the wrong place. This is a generalism that is not always true but it often is. If you DO make a commission deal remember that it is up to you to drop by once a month and take inventory to make sure your work has not walked off.

Class garden shops are a good place to sell SOME items but not others. I know a fellow that made thousands of plant stands at $2.50 each over materials. . He made good money because he made them by the thousands AND he did not have to do the selling. . . His customer was the seller.

Selling on the Internet is a completely different animal. You can put a web site on the net but without proper advertising it is no more than a grain of sand on the information highway. Build a crappy little site on your own and post it through a free hosting system and you are less than a mote of dust in the marketing universe.

An internet site starts with two things. Beautiful product and even more beautiful photos of that product. Remember that your tony customers read the classiest magazines and expect your catalog to be of equal quality. I fight this battle constantly with clients that I do web work for. The FIRST thing I need is great art. And not just great art of their work but in a manner than can be used create logos, icons, page decoration, sell the product. .

So you have to have a nice site. THEN it must meet a lot of technical standards in order to get well listed in the search engines (your best free advertising). You must also have a way to sell over the web. If you are selling large projects and major art then that is not an issue. Payment will be by check or as specified in a contract. But if you are selling trinkets then you need a way to take payments on-line or by phone. A paypal account works but is expensive. A CardService account is cheaper in the long run but expensive and complicated to setup in the beginning. OR you can wait for checks by mail. . .

As soon as you go on the Internet you are an International business. You will need to think about shipping to Dubai, Australia or any one of over 100 countries. You will also need to know about international Internet marketing scams. NEVER EVER reply to a request from Nigeria. . (or a number of other countries). By the way, folks in those places are on the web selling some of the same you might be.

You will need to advertise in those magazines I spoke of. Pay for search engine advertising and links on hot sites.

One advantage to the Internet is the large market. The disadvantage is the supply side (your competition) is also very large. It is also cheaper than a print catalog but many of your clients are going to want a print catalog. . . You CAN make a lot of sales without ever speaking to a customer BUT you will still get phone calls from people that still do not trust buying on the net.

By the way. . most of this, an on-line hosting account, an ebay account, advertising. . . all require a credit or debit card to handle on-line.

It is ALL business. Something that takes many of us a lifetime to figure out and others go to school for OR are born into it.

But you CAN take your hooks that took 20 minutes each to make and sell them for $2 each at the fleamarket. . Those same hooks if well made and well finished will sell for $25 each at a tony Georgetown art gallery. You get less than half but it is six times more than you will get at the fleamarket.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/21/08 22:57:31 EDT

Best darn marketing add I have ever read!!
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 09/21/08 23:16:39 EDT

The Crafts Circuit: There ARE high class craft shows where buyers from galleries and major chains look for products. Finding these shows is a difficult R&D task and then they are often hard to get into. Again, you will need professional product photos of your work. Some require slides, most have gone to digitals. Some artists do only a couple of these shows a year and are set for orders until the next year. These are expensive to do but if you have a good product they are work while. Your big initial expense is a booth / display or the lining for a booth. For the hundreds of dollars you pay all you get is an empty space. Do not plan on the promised tables or chairs. There are rarely enough to go around. Doing these is like moving a small shop's display area. Like photos, you display needs to suit the class of client you expect to sell to.

THEN there are the edutainment crafts shows. These are often held in public places and historical sites. Working these can be a losing proposition. If you demonstrate at these you need to be PAID well to do so. A working blacksmith is often a big draw and they will advertise you but not your product. IF you demonstrate and want to make sales then you need a someone to make sales. It is impossible to do both well at the same time. I worked these for years and rarely made immediate expenses. You can do it but you must REALLY hustle, do lots of shows, have lots of inventory. . . This is problematic as iron is heavy.

The last few of these I worked where I was paid it included a fee, a motel room, a stipend for meals and no commission on sales. Even then it was more like a working vacation than a paid gig.

RENFAIRS are a different type of edutainment crafts show. The permanent ones near major metropolitan areas are often money makers but they have limited spaces and you may have to wait until the current smith dies or retires to get in. . . Demonstration rules apply.

Traveling and local Renfairs are a gamble. The folks working them travel constantly. The last few I went to the majority of the vendors were selling imported junk. That included the "smith" who was selling Mexican Ironwork. They claimed to make it all but I could see the difference.

THEN there are the parking lot "craft shows". Don't do them. You are just part of a side show with nothing but looky-loos and a lot of generally poor quality work. The quality of the work of all the vendors reflects on everyone including you. There is a reason for juried craft shows.

Arts and Crafts shows are a method of marketing but they take a lot of research and marketing savvy. Shows also have ups and downs. The show that has been a hit for the past five years may change dates, hire a new organizer or cut back on advertising and become a huge (and expensive for you) dud. Beware of replacement organizer/promoters. Do your research.
   - guru - Monday, 09/22/08 09:01:33 EDT

Product Photos: This has been a problem with artists and craftsfolk alike for decades and it is one of the very FEW marketing tools that is taught in art schools. At least making slides.

If you want to know what YOUR product photos should look like pick up any glossy magazine and look at adds for anything expensive. Watches, jewelery, perfume . . even tools. Hand made ironwork IS expensive work and you must market it that way.

Product photos should be taken at a natural angle (the way you see the thing in life), with a standard or low angle lens (never wide angle), in good light and should not be cropped or cut off.

A photo is a composition, even if only ONE item exists in the frame. How it is positioned, the angle of view, the lighting all come into play. Many people do not understand composition nor do they SEE what is in the view finder. If you are one of these then hire a professional to take your photos.

Unless the object is in situ or installed it should have a plain while background with either a natural or drop shadow. Note that some juried exhibitions require un-retouched photos. This means setting up and doing it right in the camera.

Why a white background? Because most pages both print and web where objects float on the page as white. The are white because it is clean, simple and it works. There are exceptions but they are also expensive.

In situ may be as installed or on the work bench. For the absolute best in situ photos published for over three decades see the Garrett Wade tool catalog. Tools are carefully posed on beautiful hardwood work benches with pieces of exotic wood and just enough chips look in use. They are then lighted and photographed by top professionals. EVER photo in their catalog is a work of art.

When taking photos of installed work you have to LOOK. Is that a bright orange plastic child's toy in the backgound? Are there people in the photos? Has the work gotten dirty, rusted. . ? How is the lighting? Too bright, Too overcast? Is this a bad season (fall but not quite winter)? to photograph outdoor installed work may take numerous trips and a lot of time. Indoor MAY be easier. However, will the house be clean? Will there be art or furniture that detracts from the photo? Is there light? Did you include having photos taken in a residence in you contract? Indoor photos are often best taken by a professional.

Really Bad: I've been sent and have seen some really AWFUL product photos. You name it, I've seen it. Dirty poorly finished work. Extreme unnatural perspective. Wrinkled backgrounds, foot printed backgrounds, stained backgrounds, shop clutter backgrounds. . . Flash glare. In an in situ photo there was dirty dishes piled in a sink and dirty laundry in another. In an about the artist photo taken in a park there was phallic graffiti in the backgound. . . You have to OPEN your eyes and you mind and SEE what is in your photos.

In this digital age there is a LOT you can fix in a photo. You can fix bad lighting to a degree. Too dark or worse, flash glare cannot be fixed. Backgrounds can be cut out but it can be expensive painstaking work. You can add drop shadows and adjust perspective. But it is difficult to repair missing sections or clean off trash. I've done it all from replacing missing corners of an item, adding or removing labels, to giving a model a digital tummy tuck. It is time consuming and expensive.

AND. . unless you spend a lot of time "Photoshopping" images the results are often lacking. BUT if you are good out at it you can make something from nothing or a silk purse out of a sow's ear as the saying goes.

SO, if you are going to market your work in print, on a web site or even by email, you need good images. If your livelihood depends on these images it pays to hire a professional. Yes, they charge as much as $1000/hr or day. SO. . have more than one piece to photograph. One really good catalog shot will cost you as much as a dozen.

Do it right and your business will have a chance. Do it poorly and it reflects on you as an artist and the quality of your work.
   - guru - Monday, 09/22/08 11:52:48 EDT

One place to show and/or sell goods not mentioned here is car shows. Not that I have ever done any, but the few that I have gone to and shown (my Pinto) at I notice a lot of artist booths. Mostly rockabilly car art and horror stuff, the last show I did I saw some nice junkyard art, not as nice as MY stuff, but it was there. Same problems with booth rental, tents, tables etc. Then you have to man the booth... no strolling around to look at the nice shiny automobiles except for the occasional beer run. Once again, price factors come in... people treat you like a flea market table.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 09/22/08 12:03:46 EDT

Working a show is not the same as going to a show. . .

Motorcycle customizers occasionally use twisted and forge ironwork on bikes. The guy in my home town that was the closest thing to a blacksmith was the Harley Davidson dealer. He did some pretty standard ironwork but it was impressive when polished and chrome plated!
   - guru - Monday, 09/22/08 13:12:34 EDT

Marketing your work.
Also make sure your work is worth selling. Don't expect someone else to pay for your education. There was a reason that apprentices usually had to pay the first couple years before their work was good enough to make the shop money rather than cost it.
   JimG - Monday, 09/22/08 14:00:30 EDT

Niche Marketing is another way to go. Find something nobody (or few) sell or make. Then make the best thingamajig possible and hammer the market. A key to niche marketing is to make your money before someone else thinks you have a good thing going OR are poorly serving your market.

Research is critical in niche marketing. If you overlook a well entrenched supplier you are wasting your effort. If there is no need for your product or you can't convince people they really MUST have it then you will fail.

But if you find that "pet rock" or weed eater. . . $$$$$
   - guru - Monday, 09/22/08 15:09:56 EDT

Jacob-- Try the libe, too, and avail yourself of inter-library loan. There are scads of how-to books advising artisans about running a crafts business, written by craftspersons who've been so successful, apparently, that they can sit back and expound. Two such, and good ones, too, are You Can Make Money from Your Arts and Crafts: The Arts and Crafts Marketing Book (Be You Own Boss) (ISBN: 0937769045) by
Steve Long and Cindy Long and Making a Living in Crafts by Donald A. Clark.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 09/22/08 16:06:21 EDT

Within the past year or so I've seen maybe a dozen blacksmiths try to sell their work on eBay. Typically fairly simply items such as hooks and Civil War reenactment items. They may last a listing cycle or two, then aren't seen again.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 09/23/08 01:49:19 EDT

Just a few comments on selling our works.

"Art": One of the best moves I made at science fiction and gaming conventions was switching from the "Huckster Room" (anything that sells: your stuff, kitsch, old books...) to the art room. In the first you paid a fee and manned the table and relied on volume. In the later you get an "art" membership at a discount and they watch your stuff, and you rely on quality over quantity. Of course, you have to really work at things that would appeal to your market. One year I tried to follow a vision of "art objects of unearthly beauty" at a science fiction convention. Alas, all of the buyers were from earth, and I broke less than even. (On the other claw; I went there also to hang out with family and friends, so I was not too worried.) These days I aim for "medievalish" items that appeal to young folks with romantic notions in their heads and lots of cash in their pockets. Last year a couple of casual toss-off projects were very popular; so we'll see how they do this year.

Barter: I like it when my hobbies support themselves, so "will blacksmith for historically accurate clothing" is a constant alternative for me. I've been discussing things with an incipient Hussite War group, and they can use a lot of ironwork. Cash is nice, but a good wool hand-stitched tunic or hand sewn leather boots are really useful for my other activities, and may be worth even more than a straight cash transaction when you add up the talent and hours. Even after the exchange is made, a well-made implement or weapon is an ongoing advertisement so other reenactors (or folks who just want a really nasty looking spiky flail to show off on their walls) are referred back to you, and may result in cash sales too.

Flea Markets: Not only should you not sell at them, your shouldn't even be near one if you do look for an outlet. As they say- "location, location, location." People get real weird if they find something cheaper just down the road or a few blocks over.

Sunny and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 09/23/08 07:47:58 EDT

Flea markets: great places to find tools cheap, bad places to sell work reasonably.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/23/08 07:55:47 EDT

Selling your work: If you pile your creations up in the corner, it's a hobby. If you try to sell them, it is a business. I forge to relax and enjoy a hobby. I don't want a business.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/23/08 08:35:08 EDT

Generally if you know enough people it is easy enough to get rid of "excess" work. Often another smith that does crafts shows will gladly take your stuff at wholesale.

Selling new items on ebay is something for people selling popular or brand names items to people looking for a bargain. . . The only advantage to selling something that does not sell well on ebay is IF your item at least gets traffic and you put a web URL on the image (a sneaky way around ebay's rules) you may get a lot of traffic to your web site. In that case you look at listing fees as advertising.

The down side to selling "decorative" items on ebay is that many are classed as jewelery or art items that crooks look at as good resale items and you will be targeted for various cons (any way to get you to ship without paying or by taking a bad check). See ALL the schemes and fraud warnings about selling on ebay.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 10:39:25 EDT

I've got some 0-1 tool steel blades I've made but screwed up the temper. Now I have 2 crooked 0-1 blades that are a nice blue color=low 50'sHRC. I've been told I would need to anneal these again before attempting a re-heattreat. I need advice on how to proceed from here. Thanks
   - Dennis B. - Tuesday, 09/23/08 11:35:45 EDT

I have 4 0-1 tool steel blades I have made that I apparently screwed up the temper. 2 are now crooked- (one I tried to straighten is now in 2 pieces:()
I re-tempered and got a nice blue color (low 50'sHRC) still crooked. I've been told I need to re-anneal before I re-Heattreat. Is this true, or can I simply "normalize"? How do I proceed from here? thanks for any advice available.
   Dennis B. - Tuesday, 09/23/08 11:41:11 EDT

Actually, its not that hard to find the good shows to sell your work- the best are sponsored by two organisations-
The Rosen Group, in Philadelphia at www.americancraft.com
The American Craft Council at www.craftcouncil.org

Pretty much every serious craftsperson in america, in any medium, tries to show at one, or both of these organisations shows. These shows, particularly the Philadelphia Rosen Show, and the Baltimore ACC show, are where the actual sales take place.

I spent over ten years doing wholesale shows, and I would not consider any other shows but those two. I would usually write an entire years orders at the February ACC show in Baltimore.

All the major craft galleries in the country, and many foreign ones, attend these shows.
They are both hard to get into, and expensive.
The ACC show is now $1100 for the smallest booth. Add to this the cost of renting booth fixtures- since I flew in, I would always rent pipe and drape booth curtains, a rug, and sometimes tables or chairs, plus I would have to pay for an electrical drop.
Then, I would ship by UPS my own folding display tables, track lighting, and all my samples. I would fly in, stay in a hotel, and the ACC Baltimore show takes 1 week, including setup and teardown. I figure a minimum cost of $2500 to do it.
However, this is where the big dogs are, both in terms of buying and selling, and, if you are serious about wholesaling and making a living at making products, this is the place to go. There were usually about 1100 booths, and of those, probably a dozen full on blacksmiths, and another couple dozen metalworkers who do some forging, mixed with plasma cutting, mig welding, and even casting. Of those dozen smiths, there would be some traditional work, but mostly more modern stuff. Jack Brubaker, for example, did very well there with his hand forged, powdercoated lilly candlesticks- which retail for between $80 and $150 each. Larger furniture pieces did sell, but the real money is in small, UPS shippable items that cost between $25 and $500 wholesale. As the guru mentioned, you must be professional about every aspect of your work- making it is just the beginning. But there are a couple of dozen shops around the country, most with 2 to 5 employees, who do these shows, and sell ironwork. It certainly can be done.

I juried the ACC crafts fairs one year, and we looked at 10,000 slides of prospective entrants, over 3 days. And this doesnt count the perhaps 60% or so who are grandfathered in, by signing multiyear contracts. 5 slides each, 2000 artists applying. It is very difficult to jury, and no doubt good work gets rejected every year, but if you are persistant, and do interesting stuff, you can get in.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 09/23/08 12:51:35 EDT

i want to make a steak branding iron for one of my friends and i was wondering how to keep it rusting - also, do i need to temper the metal since it will be heated repeatedly through its use and then air cooled? let me know what you think! thanks a lot!
   susan - Tuesday, 09/23/08 13:49:31 EDT

Susan, Unless you make the iron out of stainless its going to rust. There is no coating that will withstand the heat. So it is stainless or maintenance instructions (clean and oil after using).
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 14:06:37 EDT

Heat Treating Blades and Warping: Dennis, You have left a lot out.

First, you need complete heat treating instructions AND be sure they are followed. Tempering O1 to the low 50's HRc requires 800°F. Blue gives you the high 50's.

The fact that the blade broke means it was probably too hard for its thickness OR the steel was treated poorly (soaked at a high heat too long) and had large crystal growth. OR it was not tempered as well as it should be. O1 is air hardening in thin sections.

Annealing requires temperature control or some tricks to achieve that maximum of 40°F per hour cooling rate.

Second, warping come from a variety or combination of things. How the material was forged or shaped, the shape itself, how it was heated, how it was quenched. . .

Everything must be done gently with tool steels. Heating slowly to at least 1200°F prior to heating to forging temperature. Not forging too hot OR too cold. Even heating often turning the part. Quenching is often done on end or on edge depending on the blade length and never on the side or at an angle. Many bladesmiths quench just the edge to avoid brittleness. Tempering is done with care and it does not hurt to repeat to assure tempering all.

Frank Turley's favorite statement about dealing with tool steels is. "Tool steel laughs at you.". Then it laughs some more.

It pays to practice on pieces that you do not have a lot of time and effort in. Then when things break it is not a big loss.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 14:34:32 EDT

Dennis B. A little more.

Ernst Schwarzkopf says that if a heat treatment mistake is made, you must anneal, harden, and temper all over again.

01 won't normalize. I will harden in air, but will then be unstable. In a small shop with wood ashes or lime, you can get a reasonable anneal, although it may not be exactly to specs. Take it to 1400-1450ºF for annealing. Blades should have a little thickness to the cutting edge before the oil quench @1450-1500ºF, maybe 1/32" to 1/16" depending on the blade size. That helps to prevent warping. A careful, uniform heat is necessary. The final sharpening is done after tempering. Many 01 tools are not tempered beyond 500ºF, which is about a copper tempering color.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/23/08 14:57:55 EDT

Note to those going to Quad-State. Due to another even going on at the same time SOF&A will have a checkpoint in the driveway. You must be registered to enter the Q-S area so you need to keep your badge at hand when coming and going.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 09/23/08 16:32:56 EDT

could wrought iron be made by melting iron and then putting a little peice of steel in it? And where is Pure Iron Sold? I asked the Question ealier, but i asked too many questions so i think it was overlooked, thanks endlessly for marketing info
   - Jacob Lockhart - Tuesday, 09/23/08 21:54:45 EDT

Ebay for sales: I'm one of those Ken mentioned that does Ebay, but I do it on a fairly constant basis. Blacksmithing is for me is both theraputic and gives me pocket $$$ to persue the craft. I don't make a lot on my wares but I sell stuff thast's mostly "artsy", plant hangers and stuff that are Art Nouveau, I aim for an opening bid that works out to approximately $10.00 per hour over cost. Occasionally there's a good pop (once when I was doing reenacting, I sold a dozen teepee lamp hangers to a gal for $57.00 apiece when the opening bid was $15.00). It's a garage sale mentality on Ebay and if you're trying to do more than have fun and make pocket change, don't do it. I get occasional custom orders, but to date, I don't think they've paid for my internet access cost.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 09/23/08 22:00:10 EDT

re: Wrought iron - no Jacob, wrought iron cannot be made by melting iron and then putting a piece of steel in it. Wrought iron consists of iron with silica slag worked into it. Traditionally it was made in a bloomery furnace in a mostly solid state process where iron ore was reduced and the resulting bloom was forge welded multiple times to consolidate it and force some of the slag out and the balance into long stringers. In the late 1800's and into the 1950's in the Pittsburgh area the process was highly refined and molten iron was with slag added used to make wrought iron by if memory serves, A.M. Byers Co. (If I'm wrong someone will correct me:)

As to where to buy pure iron, I don't know. If you want fairly pure iron produced by traditional processes, look for Armco Iron - much being made in Brazil now, be prepared to buy a large piece of slab and have to process it to a size you can use. If you want very pure iron for chemical reactions do a search for electrolytic iron - it comes in "flakes" or as a powder and would require extensive work to get in a form a blacksmith would use.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 09/23/08 22:49:48 EDT

Wagner is now distributing "pure iron".
They have square, round, and flat bar. It aint cheap, and it comes in pretty large sections (3/4" round and square, I think) but its pure iron, and it works very nicely. They will sell it in 2' , 4', and 6' lengths.
then click on pure iron in the product list.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 09/23/08 23:03:32 EDT

Wrought Iron: Gavainh, That is correct. The Beyers process started with "pure" iron made by the blast furnace process but the oxygen was blown through until ALL the carbon was burned out rather than leaving some in. Then a special molten slag mixture was poured into a bull crucible holding the molten iron. It was said to react violently with the iron thus self mixing and creating a bloom like consistency. The iron was then pressed similar to consolidating a bloom to make an ingot and then it was processed like mild steel (rolling, slitting. . ).

I have the Beyers booklet somewhere and should reproduce it. . . IT was heavy on the benefits of wrought that are in fact not as beneficial as they claimed. I believe much of the hype about wrought's superiority over mild steel came from Beyers and has been repeated over and over.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 23:51:02 EDT

One of my long-ago students said, "Silica Slag? She was that ugly fifth grader that I went to school with!"
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/24/08 07:19:47 EDT


It's my first time here and I have no experience in blacksmith and I want to learn how to make swords,however, I have a few questions about it. What is the difficulty level to make a sword on a scale from 1 to 10 and I was wondering if you could give steel color. In example give it it a vibrant red color a sheer blue or an onyx black. Thank you in adavance.
   Andres - Wednesday, 09/24/08 10:34:12 EDT

Andres: Hot forging anything is probably the equivalent of a BA degree. Making a knife blade is probably the equivalent of a MA degree. Making a sword is probably the equivalent of several PhD degrees. You are wanting to compete in the Olympics when your are haven't even apparently learned to crawl as far as blacksmithing/swordsmithing is concerned.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/24/08 10:37:30 EDT

Pure Iron:

Also bear in mind that Wagner's pure iron is NOT wrought iron, and bears no more resemblance to wrought iron than to play-dough. It's pure iron. No slag.

Wrought iron is not pure iron, it always has some carbon, manganese, phosphorus, and sulfur in it, among other stuff; and did I mention the silica stringers? It's best to think of it as a composite material rather than as a homogenous modern metal.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 09/24/08 10:40:48 EDT

On eBay. There are literally millions of sellers on there. The more common your item, the more competition you will have.

At one time I bought from a wholesaler. One item was 25' retractable dog leashes. When I first offered them on eBay I was the only seller of them and did well. Within about six months it was difficult to sell them to even get my money out of them.

Thus, it is likely best if you are the ONLY seller of a particular item, but expect competition if your item(s) are selling.

Even then how you word your title is EXTREMELY important. Most people seem to search on title only, not title and description. Some folks do put a lot of keywords in their description, but too many and eBay will cancel the listing for keyword slamming.

If you are going to try to make a go of it, having an eBay store is the way to go. Something like $15 month, but a listing with one photo is only about $.05 a month - and here eBay raised their commissions on sales. I use one to three bidding auctions a week to try to drive potential buyers to my store.

Personally, I do well on eBay, but about last May my sales did a nosedive due, in all likelihood, the overall economy as most of my items are 'discretionary' spending.

It just isn't a good time to go into the eBay market.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 09/24/08 10:47:11 EDT

Please help...I am at my witts end. I am trying to find a blacksmith in Michigan who would refinsh a 100 year old cast iron bell. Would you know of anyone who can help me???

   Sherri - Wednesday, 09/24/08 11:18:11 EDT

Ebay in general has taken a hard hit. If you read all the member chatter it has to do with ebay policy and their inability or unwillingness to control the fraud that goes on. There is a LOT of criminal activity on ebay and the word has spread. They have also hurt their general sales by raising fees and giving certain sellers preferential treatment over others.

It has a lot less to do with the general economy than problems at ebay that have been building up for a long time as well as some problems they created. While Ken mentions keyword stuffing Ebay does the same on Google with thousands of paid searches that lead you to ebay to items that no longer exist. . .

We sell a few items on ebay and have had OK sales. Could it be better? Maybe.

If you do sell on ebay the rules I gave on product photos apply. If the photo is classy, looks like the product is bright/shiny/new/beautiful. . . Then you will get better prices than if it looks like a pile of stuff at a flea market.

Ad Copy is something else I forgot to comment on. How to write an ad to sell something, its description and hook to buy, is an art. Like photos you can also pay a professional to do ad copy. It makes a difference.

Ad copy for the Internet is different than for print and it takes an SEO specialist to craft and adjust copy for the search engines. When we first put keyword based ads on our webring pages ALL the ads were for jewelery stores selling rings. . . We had to change titles and reduce the use of the word "ring" as much as possible. Some low traffic ring pages still pop-up with ads for wedding bands. . .

I write ad copy for a lot of my clients but I generally dislike doing it. I can write well about some things but others can be difficult. While I write a lot I am not a copy writer. However, I generally do it better than my clients and I DO understand SEO so they pay me for what I do. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 11:46:59 EDT

Sherri, That bell needs to be cleaned and painted. The original finish was paint IF it was finished at all. Have the rust sandblasted off, prime it and paint it any color you like. Many paint shops can do the whole job.

If you need replacement parts THEN you may need a blacksmith.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 11:49:34 EDT

Swords on a 1 to 10: Andres, Try a 15. But it depends on your expectations. See our Swordmaking FAQ.

Steel can be colored by various methods but only a few, the blacks, blue blacks and brown (oiled rust) are very durable.

Titanium takes some wonderful colors but is not a blade material.

Aluminum is commonly anodized and stained with a wide variety of colors including gold, peacock blues, reds and even black. The metallic luminosity of the aluminum shows through and is probably what you are looking for. Again, this is not a blade material.

However, these "non blade" materials can make some wonderful wall hangers, show or stage pieces. But if you want your sword to glow green when Orks are near you need otherworld magic.

   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 12:06:24 EDT


My name is James Bradford, I am the Building Official for the City of Dowagiac, MI

I have an artist whom has ask permission to set up a forge and bellows, either gas fired or coal fired in one of our downtown buildings. All buildings are connected, the building is of ordinary construction, wood floors and roof, masonary walls, with shared party walls.

Our current code requires that all solid fuel (coal fired) or gas appliances have a listing, either Ul or other recongized agency.

The artists says that he can find no forges with a listing. My question, is there such a thing as a listed forge?

My concern with an unlisted appliance, is the fire danger to the downtown, the installation etc. Can you provide any information to me to use for inspections etc.


James Bradford
Building Official
   James Bradford - Wednesday, 09/24/08 14:20:08 EDT

Approvals and Permits: James, This is one of those areas that if you follow the rules you cannot get there from here.

There is only one gas forge that I know of that has a UL listing and it is a huge commercial forge (Johnson) that they put into schools back when they had industrial arts departments. They are designed for permanent installations and are gas hogs.

None of the small portable forges have any agency inspections or certs. Most coal forges came before the UL and modern forge manufacturers do not go to the trouble either.

In the case of both devices the safety is determined mostly by the operator. The greatest fire hazard is sparks from the hot iron being forged and pieces of hot iron being dropped. But if you allow cooking of anything in your buildings then the hazard of a grease fire is the serious issue.

The ONLY way to get a smith into your situation is to have the powers that be give a waver for temporary artistic or historic reenactment purposes.

The only option for the smith is a $4,000 electric induction forge. No fire or open flame . . until a piece of steel is heated white hot. But I believe the forges are approved devices.

In the end any forge is like a welding torch. You may find one with some gas association approval on it but how you use it determines the hazard. Fire is fire.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 16:55:26 EDT

Dear Guru,
Thank you so much for your help, althought that raised so many more. As a result I will try to make it as clear and simple as possible. I have always been at awe towards swords and armor and I want to learn the art of kendo or swordplay, fencing where I live. But I want to make my own sword annd armor to make as one of my accomplishments and dream completions. So I was wondering if you could tell me some books on the subject of bladesmithing and armormaking and places were I can take on an apprenticeship. Also I don't want my blade to glow, but I want it to have color, but that i can use in Kendo training. Thank you for any help or advice you can offer.
   Andres - Wednesday, 09/24/08 17:18:39 EDT

UL-listed equipment-- www.wardburner.com/technicalinfo/ and Ransome Manufacturing of Fresno, California, which makes venturism burners, etc., might be of help with rated furnaces, forges, etc.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 09/24/08 17:32:20 EDT

James- I had a similar discourse with an insurance inspector a few years ago. Most of the commercially made gas forges have hoses and regulators that are UL listed, and some have UL listed flameout sensors, but really they are too few and far between to even have been thought of by UL or the folks that write the codes. The venting and chimneys can be made out of UL listed materials (such as for wood stoves) and installed per whatever building code you use. Forges themselves are by their very nature made out of materials that do not burn, and siting and set-up (distance to combustibles) of the forge is as important as anything to fire prevention. The insurance inspector had me use the most stringent wood stove installation code he could find as a minimum.

The wood floor could be an issue, your blacksmith may need to build up some layers of fireproof flooring.

I worry MUCH more about a mouse chewing on wiring insulation inside the wall and starting a fire than I do my gas forge that I can almost put my hand on when running or my coal forge that the fire goes out in very quickly when I stop cranking the blower handle.
   Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 09/24/08 17:41:53 EDT

James, I am an industrial safety and enviro guy with years of large industrial forge experience, in large cities. The rules for us tended to follow Factory Mutual rules more than city fire code as far as the equipment was concerned. Fire code for extinguishers and exit ways Yes! Equipment was left to the fire insurance guys.
FM was pretty tight on things like rated regulators, and controls. The surfaces we had for flooring were concrete or packed earth/cinders. The buildings were steel and masonary so not too much concern there. In industry we were more regulated on storage of flammable and combustable materials in the hot work zones.

I have never seen a forge fire. I have seen many fires from hot iron dropped on things like hydraulic hoses, pallets and electrical equipment that melted the wire insulation inside the conduit in seconds.

I would approach the issue from "is the forge vented with an "all fuels" rated flue". Especially if a solid fuel forge is used. I would insure that the all fuels flue is installed per MFG requirements, and is sized for the job. I would look to wiring and other combustable items in the near work zone say 10 to 15' from the forge. I would prohibit flammables storage per propane rules, which would require a FM/UL listed flammable storage cabinet for paint and so forth or no storage in the hot work room. I would require a carbon Monoxide detector, and fire extinguishers per the code.

A forge really is no more dangerous than an auto repair shop, a kitchen with a deep fryer, and anything where painting is performed. If a smoke detector is needed to meet code, a model that both senses heat rise and smoke obscuration rather than a fast response ionazation model will reduce false trips, yet provide protection

I hope this helps.
   ptree - Wednesday, 09/24/08 18:17:35 EDT

Im really started to get frustrated with my forge. i first make it then i need to replace the firepot (breakdrum). then i have to replace the fan so i decied to build something with more control so i build a bellows. then i snap the back end of that. so i decide to repair my fan and atach a reostat so i can control my air. now that only gets me a little puff or enough air it sends flameing coals 5' into the air. what do i do? im tired of beating around the bush with all these stinking problems. can someone please help me.
   Sam - Wednesday, 09/24/08 18:59:31 EDT

Guru, I forged my Ork Cleaver from Unobtanium in the Fires of Spifnak. It glows green and vibrates in the presence of an Ork. Or maybe it was just gas from my burrito at lunch....
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 09/24/08 19:31:38 EDT

Quench, Have you been doubling up on the back med's? :)
Everybody knows an Ork Cleaver is properly made from laminated unobtanium and double-unobtanium quenched in hydrogen dioxide laced with sodium chloride after heating in a forge fired with that special fuel the Brit's call "Meethane".
   ptree - Wednesday, 09/24/08 20:19:11 EDT

Forge Problems: Sam, Maybe you are not cut out to be a maker of things. . . Some folks are makers, some are not.

A good bellows is a wonderful tool but a bad bellows is a frustrating waste of time. There is very little difference physically but those differences are important.

Electrical devices are designed to work with specific devices and in given ranges. An engineer could take a day or more to calculate if a motor and a control would work together smoothly but an experienced DIYer will test a couple pieces of junk and have an answer in a few minutes.

There are brake drums and there are brake drums. One fellow on YouTube picks up a small disk brake rotor and says "this is a brake drum". He then shows how to assemble part sbut you never see it work. . . Then there are heavy truck brake drums that are like using a 5 gallon bucket. . . You have to know your parts or follow proven instructions.

That said, there are artist craftfolk that are lousy mechanics and have little mechanical talent. What do they do? They BUY tools and machines. They learn to use them to make a narrow range of work.

Those that can't make buy.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 20:30:02 EDT

Is their any basic intro. sites that I could suggest to elementary age students whom are interested in"what all does a blacksmith make? and d?
   R. Howard - Wednesday, 09/24/08 20:52:01 EDT

i belive i am a maker of things, fore i am a very experianced and talented chainmail artist, i am skilled at minor wood working, and i can do some great sheat mechanics. the blower said on the specs that it was a 120, volt AC blower for a standerized gas heater. i hooked it up to the reostat following all the proticals. it works amazingly but it pumps a little more air than i thought it would, because, when it was hooked up to just a cord it did a good job. what i wanted to know is how do i control the air flow. this wasent a person who wanted some kicks and gigles from making a spike of knife. im serious about what i am doing. this was an inqurey from one hands on person to another. the reason my bellows did not work was because i used to thin of wood for what it was pumping, belive it or not it did work for a few hours until the stress became to great for it to handle. if every project you did came out 100% perfect on the first try than congradulations but for people who have to try a few times to get it right and have VERY few resources and have to ask a few people, hey what do i do, we call that learning, and thats what i plan to do.
   sam - Wednesday, 09/24/08 21:23:29 EDT

Sam, Maybe you have the wrong rheostat for your fan. A very small sum of money would buy you a dimmer switch for an electric light. That is what works for me. I have to put a rheostat into my portable forge soon so I plan to experiment with the controller for an overhead fan. I thought that might be capable of handling more power although I shan't have the degree of control I have with the dimmer switch- the ceiling fans have about 5 speeds which are preset. I thought that might beeasier when teaching students- i.e. use blast 1 when lighting, use 5 when forge welding etc.
So just try another switch- salvaged out of something- until you get it right!
   philip in china - Wednesday, 09/24/08 21:36:02 EDT

Controlling air flow: The rhreostat will work if it is rated for the size motor and its a motor control, not a light dimmer (unless the motor is VERY small). However, they tend to creep and wear out, stop working at the optimum speed. . . . Big motors take BIG controls. Voltage is only half the rating. You need Amps drawn or HP (total KW), type of winding (shaded pole not capacitor start).

A simple gate of butterfly valve is best. Hook it to a lever that has some friction and it will hold an even blast. I like enough blast to lift the fire if necessary. SOme people use both a stat and a valve. The reason is blowers tend to be noisy and slowing them down quiets them.

I've used all three methods.

Not every project comes out as expected but if you have a sense of what should work a darn high percentage do. I was building and using machinery when I was 10. . . Built a rope making machine with 5/16" round, furring strips and a hacksaw. Later I motorized it using a motor out of an old adding machine and hand cut wood friction wheels. Made hundreds of feet of rope up to over 1". The limitation was how much tension you could anchor and control. NO, I didn't have help. My father looked at it and shook his head. . .

I've been building machinery ever since. Wish I had time to just do nothing but work in the shop. . . . Could probably make more money making a couple one off machines each year by hand than doing this. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 22:38:25 EDT


Good for you for keeping at it and not giving up. If you are dead set on electrical control, I would suggest that you try using a "Router speed control", avaiable from Harbor Freight Tools for about ten bucks on sale. It will control a universal (AC/DC) motor up to about two horsepower fairly well. However, my first suggestion would be to run the motor full out and damp the input air with a simple moveable gate. Even a piece of cardboard will do fine on the input side. The reason for damping the input rather than the output is that the motor will possibly overheat if the output of the blower is restricted, as it is then trying to compress the air. When the input is restricted, the motor is turning a blower that is effectively running in a vacuum and therefore very little load.

I hope this helps, and don't give up on doing things yourself. I have built many, many tools over hte years and a goodly number of them took more than just one or two tries to get it right. Perseverance pays off, and remember one very important thing:

Nothing succeeds quite like failure, for it gives you the opportunity to observe and analyze why things didn't work and thereby learn. Success teaches you little, but only serves to confirm your existing superstitions.
   vicopper - Thursday, 09/25/08 03:08:41 EDT

I have been building from Junk or stuff since I was a kid as well. I would offer the following;

I have never built ANYTHING I could not have made better right after I was finished.

My father, also a builder told me, "Son when you build machines, you are going to make mistakes. Always strive to make new and original mistakes"

From the above what you should gather is that mistakes happen. Think about them and then alter, modify, change etc and don't make that mistake again.

Remember that learning from mistakes is tuff, since first you take the test,then you learn the lesson.

Lat but not least, when building things that do not have to fly float or race, if an inch is good, two inches is better. IE overbuild.
   ptree - Thursday, 09/25/08 08:17:39 EDT

thank you all very much i will try ALL these things until one works.
   Sam - Thursday, 09/25/08 08:18:40 EDT

The man who never made a mistake never made anything.
   philip in china - Thursday, 09/25/08 09:25:53 EDT

ptree, you must be thinking of Dihydrogen Monoxide. This is a chemical with some serious potential for harm. Go to this site: www.dhmo.org/facts.html
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 09/25/08 12:36:13 EDT

I'm very much new to forging so when a guy I know said he had a 24 inch rivet forge with a 7 inch Buffalo blower that worked, I bought it. What I'd like to know is whether there is a flat piece of metal that keeps the air from coming out of the tuyere bottom hole. Right now, it's completely open so air goes both up into the fire and down towards the ground.
   John - Thursday, 09/25/08 14:28:44 EDT

hope i'm not goin over old ground, but, i gota make a propane forge on account of i detest parting with money and i cant use coke at home cos we have nieghbours,(close) I have seen weldin done in a a gas forge but also have heard that not all gas forges get hot enough. in the distant past ive seen plans for such a forge but forgot where.can anyone help?
   - grimme - Thursday, 09/25/08 15:09:53 EDT


Yes, you should fab some kind of closure, of sheet metal or plate, either hinged or with a sliding pivot. The lower opening is a clean-out that is used only occasionally.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/25/08 15:20:44 EDT

Well, I just made a nifty dagger from tension bar spring from the wrecked Pinto. I quenched it in Trioxin-9, made the blade hard as diamonds but unfortunately reanimated the corpses in the graveyard across the creek.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 09/25/08 15:33:33 EDT

I hate to be redundant, but the recent pages have not been archived, and one of my sisters engineering friends at the Department of Energy is looking for a good brand of steel toed work boots in womens sizes for some site work she has to do. I'm checking at the NPS, too, but any reccomendations from blacksmiths are good recommendations indeed.


Gotta run!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 09/25/08 15:36:06 EDT

Red Wings are great boots if they will get used a lot.
   John Christiansen - Thursday, 09/25/08 21:44:35 EDT

i made my first #5 long spring trap. i took leaf spring and hammerd it out to be 3\16ths thick. it wasent so bad i pounded it out with 100 pound murry. i was wondering it i could purchuse spring steel in flat sock? jake
   - Jake G - Thursday, 09/25/08 21:48:15 EDT

Ditto re: Red Wings. I'd spring for the ones with the metatarsal armor, too, while she's at it. Most drops seem to strike there rather than toes.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 09/25/08 23:04:54 EDT

Thanks for the info. I thought I was working too hard.
   John - Friday, 09/26/08 09:09:51 EDT

Forgive me if I did not use this the right way. I am in need of information of the art of making swords for a project at school. I am quite serious on this and would appreciate it if one of you would be so bold as to agree to be a source of information. Your name will be kept anonymous if you so choose, but this is one obstacle that will prevent me from graduating.
   Alisha Jaite - Friday, 09/26/08 09:27:30 EDT

John- To expand on what Frank said, your old forge originally would have had a flap of metal over the bottom hole. Look closely for mounting holes or slots, etc. Some folks call this the "ash dump" or something similar. Once it's capped empty every time before starting a fire and every so often during use depending on how hard you are working the forge. Be aware that during use red hot coal ash and burning bits will fall out so catch in a metal bucket.

Jake G- Look up at the top of this page. Between the HOME and Getting Started in Smithing is the Store. Follow that link to the Online Metals Store. More kinds of steel than you can shake a stick at.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 09/26/08 12:06:25 EDT

Alisha, See our Amoury page.
   - guru - Friday, 09/26/08 13:24:13 EDT

Alisha. There is a general policy that we do not help with homework. However, there is information on this site if you go to NAVIGATE ANVILFIRE menu and click on FAQs, 'Sword Making'. Also, you might go ARMOURY and the article, 'Swords of Iron; Swords of Steel'.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/26/08 13:29:15 EDT

Hi, I went out and checked this morning and there was a bolt and nut for a swinging flap. A canning jar lid worked fine. Thanks for the help!
   John - Friday, 09/26/08 15:06:30 EDT

Alisha-- Try Interlibrary loan at your local library for Jim Hrisoulas's books re: swordsmithing, blade-making. They are available at used book sites online such as ABE Books, also. PBS has a show re: the art of the Japanese sword, which is a whole subject unto itself. No pain no gain.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 09/26/08 15:31:11 EDT


Just because no one's said it, I'll point out that "spring steel" isn't really a particular alloy. Car springs are often supposed to be 5160 (or is that just coil springs?), but any medium-to-high carbon steel properly heat treated can be used as a spring. In fact even mild steel can be used -- and it's every bit as springy. You just can't flex it as far before it bends permanently.
   Mike BR - Friday, 09/26/08 19:39:09 EDT

John, I leave the ash dump flap open as I am starting my fire. The little bit of draught caused seems tomake the kindling start easier.
   philip in china - Friday, 09/26/08 19:50:30 EDT

Hey, thanks for the info philip in china.
   John - Friday, 09/26/08 20:32:13 EDT

Hey Alisha email me at jlockhartthesmith@gmail.com i could help i got lotsa books and stuff you could get good info from and ive done research too.
   - Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 09/26/08 23:28:43 EDT

you could help me just as much because i have done alot of research, but dont have much experience...
   - Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 09/26/08 23:30:12 EDT

grimme, a blacksmith named David Robertson has a website called artistblacksmith.com and hes got a e-book and a buyable dvd that shows how to make a good gas forge and ill give you his email if you want to ask him about its welding capabilities
   Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 09/26/08 23:49:10 EDT

Ash dump flap. Who woulda' thought we would keep talking about this? If you're using smithing coal and you've been working, and then you must absent yourself from the fire for a while, you can do three things to keep the fire going. 1) Leave open the ash dump flap. If it's a kicking type, prop it open with your fire rake. 2) Bank the fire with at least one inch of green coal. 3) drive a stick of wood vertically into the center of the fire, something about 1"D by 6" long or longer.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/26/08 23:49:18 EDT

Alisha-- by coincidence, KNME-TV the Albuquerque, NM PBS station, is broadcasting Secrets of the Samurai Sword tonight at 8 and tomorrow at 10 a.m. Maybe the PBS station in your area is, too. If not, call the station and suggest they do. Also, search www.pbs.org for the show and see if there is a video recording of it for sale, as there often is with PBS shows. It will give you more than enough info for a school report on sword-making.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/27/08 13:20:09 EDT

Guru: I am making a sun flower water fountain and I am forging sun flower leaves out of 1/2" cold rolled steel, with a 6" plate for the center. I was planning on using 3/8" copper tubing as the stem with water going up the stem and out the twenty holes in the center plate, like a shower head. I realized that there is a problem with the steel center and copper stem. How can I join them together for a water tight fitting and not have the two metals react to each other? thanks, David
   David - Saturday, 09/27/08 15:55:29 EDT

hey waz up
   hi - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:09:16 EDT

i luv u like toatally
   - hi - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:10:48 EDT

Forgive me if I sound ungrateful, but . . . I only need an interview, even if it's just answering questions I ask. They will not accept the ideas suggested. I already used the forums for some of my information and the page for one of my sources. I just need to be pointed in the right direction for someone willing to do an interview, all the credit will be given to him/her if I use it in my research paper.
   Alisha Jaite - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:17:52 EDT

My name is David Brown,
I am studying artist blacksmithing at Flemming College in On. Canada. Does anyone have the recipie for the "Magic Quench" That improves the tooling qualities of mild steel?
   Dave Brown - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:23:40 EDT

A stainless steel question for Ries or another Guru: our Welding Dept. is putting together some SS flowers for the school trustees, and there is discoloration from the hot forming, TIG welds and OA brazing. What would you suggest to clean and passivate the finished product? We have a reasonable budget, and can get about anything from welding suppliers or other sources.
   John McPherson - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:28:44 EDT


They make die-0electric plumbing unions for joining copper and galvanized. Maybe you could work one into your design. I guess concealing it would be the trick.

I was thinking that maybe you could install an oversize union *inside* the flower head, then pass the 3/8" copper tube back through the inside of the fitting (not touching the sides). But assembling the union inside the flower head would be impossible. Unless it was possible to build the union before before you (carefully) welded the front and back of the head together.

That sounds like an awfully heavy flower head to support on a piece of 3/8 copper tubing. Or is there another support of some kind?
   Mike BR - Saturday, 09/27/08 20:49:06 EDT

Alisha-- Thomas Powers-- see the gurus list at the top of this page-- is off at a big blacksmithing whoopdido in Troy, Ohio this weekend, will be back soon afterward. He, a swordsmith who apprenticed under a swordsmith, would be your man, or know of another. Query him directly here and he will see it.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/27/08 21:49:55 EDT

a day or 2 ago i asked about making wroght iron and was given a great answer, i asked would pure iron smelted with a little peice of steel in it be wrought iron. i was told no, you said their was silica slag that had to be present to make wrought iron, what all is in that slag besides silica, and where can the stuff to make that slag be bought? i want to try to make wrought iron
   Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 09/27/08 22:05:59 EDT

Jacob-- making wrought iron is a big job, requiring iron ore, lotsa fuel and a blast furnace. You need to start with some reading. Try Non-technical Chats About Iron and Steel from www.lindsaybks.com for openers. There are scads of others. Check your local libe.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 09/28/08 00:25:59 EDT

Mike BR: Thanks for the ideas. I've taken two 6" circle plates and curved each one, welded them together and welded the leaves to the center circle. It looks like a sun flower. The tubing is strong enough, but I was thinking about threading the hole at the bottom of the center circle and then sweating copper threads to the 3/8" tubing to join the steel plate. I guess I must look for a union that is designed to go to another metal other than copper. I just need a way to keep these two metals joined under water pressure. I 'm not sure if I explained this well enough for others to understand? David
   David - Sunday, 09/28/08 01:33:00 EDT

We are looking to build a coal forge that will accommodate 20" - 30" heats. I have some ideas but I am looking for precedent. Can anyone direct me to plans or a verbal description? thank you
   Red Star Ironworks - Sunday, 09/28/08 07:20:43 EDT


Sound like you need something unobtrusive that you can mount from outside the flower head. You could probably get away with welding a short piece of, say, 7/16" or 1/2" ID steel tubing to the flower, inserting your copper tube into that, and filling the annular space between with epoxy.

I made an outdoor light fixture with a steel tube head swaged down and silver (hard) soldered onto a copper tube stem. It's been in use a couple of years with no sign of corrosion so far. But it doesn't have water running through it.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 09/28/08 08:11:48 EDT

Jacob you just missed an iron smelt this weekend at Quadstate. Darrell Markewitz who was doing the smelt has a LOT of information on his web site www.warehamforge.ca . He has a DVD available and sometimes runs courses at his shop in Wareham Ontario. There are also links to other peoples web sites who have done iron smelts.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:11:32 EDT

When I read that the finish on the blacksmithed items was powder coating, my first reaction was 'why would they ruin them with powder coating'. A few days later, I realized that the modular chairs that I've sat on each Sunday for the past 4 years were the same powder coated finish. So much for my highly trained skills of observation. Thanks again.....Keith
   - Keith - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:39:33 EDT

When I read that the finish on the blacksmithed items was poser coating, my thought was 'why did they ruin them with powder coating. A few days later I realized that the modular chairs that I've sat on each sunday for the past 4 years were the exact same finish. So much for my finely tuned skills of observation, thanks again, Keith
   - Keith - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:42:14 EDT

When I read that the finish on the blacksmithed items was poser coating, my thought was 'why did they ruin them with powder coating. A few days later I realized that the modular chairs that I've sat on each sunday for the past 4 years were the exact same finish. So much for my finely tuned skills of observation, thanks again, Keith
   - Keith - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:43:15 EDT

When I read that the finish on the blacksmithed items was powder coating, my thought was 'why did they ruin them with powder coating. A few days later I realized that the modular chairs that I've sat on each sunday for the past 4 years were the exact same finish. So much for my finely tuned skills of observation, thanks again, Keith
   - Keith - Sunday, 09/28/08 11:44:04 EDT

Dave Brown, I have the recipe somewhere, but you can find it in the New Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews. Superquench is to make mild steel a bit harder than normally quenched. Do NOT use it on high carbon and tool steels.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 09/28/08 12:15:41 EDT

Red Star, seems to me we had a discussion once on a long forge. The general consenus was an air pipe w/ holes, in the bottom of a trough shape for a coal forge. I don't remember the specific's though. Check in the archives.
   Thumper - Sunday, 09/28/08 13:37:56 EDT

i want to make a pair of fire-side tongs ,the centre of the metal flattened to form the spring leaving the the ends to be bent together to make the tongs . will mild steel be ok or do i need tool steel for them to keep their spring over long use ?
   dave - Sunday, 09/28/08 14:50:11 EDT

Trench forge- Jim Hirsoulas has simple drawings of one in his Complete Bladesmith.

Superquench- This is from memory, but IIRC 5 gal. water, 5 lbs. table salt, 16 ounces of liquid dish soap, 6-8 ounces of Simple Green or Shaklee Basic cleaners, half a small container of Jet Dry. It will not make mild steel chisels into incredible edge tools, but does ok at making things like bottom swedges hold up a little longer than if untreated. With today's mystery recycled carbon content even in A36 it can cause thinner sections to become brittle and crack.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 09/28/08 14:52:04 EDT

Thumper, Judson Yaggy,
Thanks for the response I will check it out

   Red Star Ironworks - Sunday, 09/28/08 18:14:28 EDT

Iron Making: Jacob, We will be posting an article shortly showing various furnaces and melts. But here are the basics.

1) Most important, you need several friends willing to baby sit the furnace for as long as 24 hours or more from the time you build it to when you remove the bloom. A two man crew can do it but I recommend 4 to 6. Once you start you are committed rain or shine. Plan on eating and sleeping with the furnace, standing in mud sleeping (if any) in the cold and breathing the furnace smoke all that time.

2) Next most important, you will need your crew friends to help consolidate and forge the billet OT you will need a hydraulic press and fairly large dies.

3) To make the "wrought" you start with high grade iron ore (you may have to dig it up your self). It then needs to be roasted and crushed into sand or pea gravel size grains.

4) Ore needs flux. Some ores are self fluxing others are not. You need the chemistry of the ore OR need to run a dozen of so experimental smelts to figure it out. It helps to know some metallurgy and chemistry. The slag in wrought comes from the ore and flux combination.

5) You need fuel. Foundry coke broken down is possible for making cast but tricky on wrought. Most makers are using charcoal mostly because it is easier to break up and it has no sulfur. The fuel must be broken up and screened to a specific size depending on the size of your furnace. Anywhere from a dozen to two dozen 50 pound bags are necessary per smelt. Running out is a disaster. . .

6) You need a furnace with controllable air supply and tuyere. Furnaces are built from clay and or refractory materials. You will also need patching clay and extra refractory. When held at 3,000 for many hours parts of furnaces crack and fall apart. . . Furnaces can be permanent or temporary. Some temporary furnaces last for a couple smelts others only one. Permanent furnaces are more expensive and hard to correct design flaws but take less time to setup and use after they are built.

7) You will need some special tools, big tongs, rams, bot holders, pikes, fuel screen. Also some standard items, trowels, mortar box, mallets, scale (to measure ore). You will also need foundry/heavy welding safety equipment such as gloves (multiple pairs) face shields, reflective gauntlets and body armor.

8) You need knowledge and practice. Most folks that do smelts helped someone else. The fellow running the smelt is the "Ironmaster". Ironmasters were always the folks with the most education and management skills in any group (family, village, consortium, company). They are also hard workers and keep track of every aspect of the smelt, time between charges, fuel, flux and ore ratio in the charge, the amount of air. Without records there cannot be success OR improvement. You MUST know what is going on. As part of your crew you need a "Second" that is at least familiar with all these things and preferably capable of being the Irommaster. Others on your crew should clearly know what their jobs are and to perform them without asking. While the Ironmaster and Second MUST be absolutely committed to the process the others need to be NEARLY as committed.

AND you need a place for all this to happen. Room for the furnace, places for the crew to hang out with facilities to use. . .

We are NOT talking about a large operation. We are talking about a very small furnace three or four feet high capable of making a ten to thirty pound bloom per heat IF operated well. Poorly operated you may get cast iron, discontinuous particles or iron or nothing.

Making Wrought is Making or Smelting Iron. It is not easy.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 19:07:21 EDT

Long springs in coal tings: Dave, mild steel will work fine if properly shaped.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 19:09:52 EDT

Long forge: Brick base, two rows of brick one brick length apart about a foot to foot and a half high. Air openings on one side about a foot to a brick length apart. Manifold supplying air.

For gas, same design with fuel/air coming into the top rather than bottom. Manifold as necessary.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 19:14:01 EDT

SOFA Smelt: We have photos and Darrell Markewitz kindly gave me a copy of his disk in progress. While it is primarily about experimental archeology and historical recreation of events it is a great source for small DIY operations. Will post review.

Also note that if all you want is some wrought there are tons of it in scrap to be found. Making wrought can cost hundreds of dollars per pound, the product easily approaching silver in price.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 19:45:32 EDT

Dave, I just finished an old fashioned spring latch in which the 3" spring is mild steel. I over-bent it a little, so that I had to compress it before riveting the assembly together. This helped to keep it in tension. I also hammered on it cold for about 20 seconds with flat overlapping blows before riveting. This work hardens it slightly. Too much hammering however, will cause a point of diminishing returns, and the metal will crack.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/28/08 20:47:08 EDT

near by there is a river that flooded badly and kinda made a marshy area there are lots of dead trees with pools of water everywhere and marshy ground, could bog iron be found there?
   Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/28/08 20:52:22 EDT

oh and for annealing, vermicultie i heard is sold in gardening store, is it sold as Vermiculite, or is it called something else
   Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 09/28/08 22:04:19 EDT

Car springs are not necessarily a steel that will quench and temper and make a half decent blade, especially today. In 1980/82 I worked for J & L Steel research to develop a microalloyed (low levels of elements like nitrogen, boron, niobium, titanium, etc.) mid to low carbon steel that could be used for automotive springs - the goal was to develop one that met the demands of the application by controlled cooling from the forming temperature, and eliminate the heat treatment required for 5160, 1060, 9160, etc.

Alas, the wolf came to Pittsburgh, their was major downsizing, and J & L eventually went kaput. Within the last 3 to 4 years in the monthly magazine ASM (American Society for Metals) publishes for members I saw the commercial announcement of the official roll out of the same product I'd worked on 20+ years ago.

Jacob - if you want some of the historic background for small furnaces used to produce wrought iron, get your hands on "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" by J. E. Rehder, ISBN 0-7735-2067-8

As to getting your hands on wrought, the easiest way to do so is to buy some - there's always some at half decent prices at Quad State, and I presume other Black smith get togethers. The second easiest is to bid on part of Darrel's bloom at the Quad State auction, and succeed.

If you want truly traditional wrought iron, I believe you can get reprocessed charcoal made wrought iron from the the real wrought iron company in Great Britain. Be prepared to pay accordingly.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 09/28/08 22:05:24 EDT

Alisha - if you need to do an interview to graduate, it would help very much to know what part of the country &/or in which country you currently live. I'm not a swordsmith, but I know at least one in western PA. If you're near Las Vegas Nevada, the preeminent bladesmith/swordsmith in the area is Jim Hrisoulas. Another option for searching, would be looking at Don Fogg's bladesmith forums - bladesmith's and sword smiths post there, and you might be able to identify a local person from the site.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 09/28/08 22:11:45 EDT

Bog Iron: Jacob, Iron bogs are special places. They must have some mineral base that is rich in iron, acidic water to dissolve the iron and certain biological organisms that excrete the iron. In some iron bogs the iron oxide deposits are found as large nodules that can be collected from a boat with tongs or by wading in the bog. In others it is found as small granular deposits around roots and such at the point where organic matter meets inorganic clay, rock or gravel.

I am no expert on this but that is the gist of it. You can spend a LOT of cold wet days in a lot of bogs before you find what you are looking for. Part of the skill is looking for the proper colored water and the oil like sheen at the edges of the bog created by the biological process.
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 02:47:02 EDT

Too bad dirty oily water can be found pretty much anywhere in Americas wildlife areas
   - Nippulini - Monday, 09/29/08 08:34:47 EDT

The water is not actually oily but has a colored sheen at the edges. It may be an oil but it is fairly distinctive. It is hard to describe if you have not seen it. The acidity of the water is from certain vegetation and is often associated with the water having a dark tea color.

Just leaf matter will cause this color but not necessarily with a high acid. If you observe streams carefully you can see this color change after the autumn leaves fall. As winter progresses the water clears and in the spring a green tint appears. . (if there is no mud obscuring the colors). Bogs and swamps are often the tea color all the time.

There used to be a great many more bogs in the Eastern U.S. but most have been drained or filled to reduce mosquitoes or make more usable land.

   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 09:09:33 EDT

Thomas "Bog Iron" Powers may have some insight on finding the bog iron. His middle name certainly implies some familiarity with it. Or perhaps he just has large nodules of his own... :-)
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/29/08 12:50:26 EDT

A36: A36 is not mystery metal. It must conform to ASTM A36 for it's chemistry and mechanical properties. You can make A36 from almost any steel scrap but like all EAF steel, it must be refined and controlled from melting to rolling. Some mills are better at it than others, though.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/29/08 12:57:12 EDT

2 suppliers of products that will remove discoloration of stainless caused by welding-
Both sell liquids and pastes that will remove "light" discoloration.
Some are acids, some citric acids, all require care and safety gear when using.

However, when forging stainless, or heat bending it, sometimes you get beyond the ability of these products to do the job- they are meant for light discoloration caused by welding.

The next step up are electropolishing machines made by companies like Walter, ScreenPro, and WeldPro. (google em)
These use both acids and electricity to remove discoloration, and will get most of the color out.

The best way is a commercial electropolisher, usually found at plating companies, which use heated acid baths (YUMMM! just the thing you want in your shop) and enormous power supplies, like 1000 amps, to strip the stainless and polish and passivate them all in one. There are companies all over the US who do this- but they are commercial, expensive, and not too common. Big ones in Southern California, Wa. State, Illinois, and the East Coast.
   - Ries - Monday, 09/29/08 15:08:33 EDT

You forgot to mention that A36 has a slightly wider range of carbon than some other steels so it can approach an undesirable hardenability in the blacksmith shop. You can't get away with quenching it like you might a good SAE 1018.
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 15:09:04 EDT

I have an idea that I have been tossing around for a couple of years now and I would like all of your opinions on it:
Well first of all let me just start by saying that I live in Northern Indiana, I am learning to be a blacksmith, it's going slow, but at least I am learning.
I had an idea about a blacksmithing shop, where the store is in the front of the store and the shop is in the back of the store. I realize there are possible licenses required and health issues/noise problems. I guess my question is that do you think that a store/shop would work out in my area? just by my looking around I don't see a need for one, but maybe I could do advertisement or something along those lines?
   tony - Monday, 09/29/08 16:13:54 EDT

Ah, time for one of my favorite words! Miles, you're gonna love this. That sheen that iron-rich water posesses is described by the word - wait for it- "chalybeate." You can lots of places on USGS quad maps called "Chalybeate springs," but be warned they do not contain bog iron. They're just iron-rich water that will turn your porcelain sinks rusty red over a few years.

Jacob, I suggest if you're serious about smelting that you ask your local county extension or university geology department where the nearest source of iron ore is. It's odd stuff in that where it's common it's VERY common, but where it's not, you will not find it, period.

One thing you can do is save all your forge scale while you practice smithing. By the time you've got about 300 lbs of forge scale, you may be good enough with a hammer to know what to do with wrought iron. Note that forge scale is the Fe3O4, or magnetite, form of anhydrous iron oxide, a.k.a. rust. It does not smelt easily, but it is possible. I also know a guy who uses bags of finely powdered hematite (Fe2O3)intended for tinting stucco as his ore source. It works, but is very messy. One particular brand of sandblasting media is magnetite ore as well, as I recall.

As the Guru says, it's HOT, HARD work. And success is so far from guaranteed, especially on your first try, it may be something to save for later when you have more patience and have read more of the literature. I'm all for harnessing the energy of youthful enthusiasm, but not on things that can get you (and your neighborhood) hurt or killed if you screw up badly enough.

Whatever you decide to do, I strongly recommend you get hold of some scrap wrought iron and learn how to forge it before you try to make any. It works very differently from modern homogeneous steel.
   Alan-L - Monday, 09/29/08 16:35:15 EDT

Shop Studio Display Area: Tony, this arrangement is common with variations. Most smiths making a living have a gallery or display room to show off their work and keep it clean. Actual storefronts are rare but can be found in touristy areas. I designed a demonstration shop with storefront for a local living history museum that is much like you described. They went with a really bad farm shop that they moved and setup. . .

Everything depends on your goals and location, then your ability to finance the plan. The first thing about a local/shop store you must consider is if there is a sufficient clientele locally to support such an operation. generally hand forged work is something you sell to the rich. Locations where lots of expensive new homes (over $1 mil and up) of where there are expensive vacation resorts can work on local sales. High growth areas are also good. But a lot depends on you, your abilities and quality of work.

Generally to will have to market your wares somewhere other than to the local folks and thus the expense of a store front is a waste.

The shop I designed was a "demonstration" shop. It was designed to put on a show, NOT produce inventory. The idea was to make lots of fire, sparks, excitement, educate the public a little and then offset costs with products sold in the front manufactured elsewhere or by others. If you want to demonstrate (IE put on a show) it is a FULL TIME occupation and not conducive to producing work. Much more time is spent in a productive blacksmith shop cutting stock, deburing, finishing and tasks other than forging. Folks don't want to watch you files off sharp edges so opening your shop to visitors is often a waste of time.

Thik about it. See my post above titled "Marketing your work".
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 17:46:56 EDT

Hmmm-- have I acquired a rep for not eschewing the recondite? Sorry. I'll strive to mend my ways. I definitely think chalybeate is a cool word, however, almost as good as foudroyant, my alltime fave, and will strive to use it as often as possible. I could tell people, for example, that the grounds around my place are chalybeate. Which in fact they are. But the water is not iridescent. 'Cause the chalybeatousness is all surface stuff. Pronounced junk. Hey-- I just heard about a kid, a freshman or sophomore at MIT no less, who made $100 K last year off Ebay selling used industrial equipment he picks up at auctions. Buggers the imagination, don't it, though?
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 09/29/08 18:40:55 EDT

does anybody make a combination coal and gas forge?Half/half but using the same hood and draft system. Thanks
   - shortguy - Monday, 09/29/08 19:08:42 EDT

Shortguy, NO. The closest anyone has gotten is when a demonstrator at the 1998 ABANA Conference in Asheville, NC asked "how do you get this thing up to welding temperature" and someone yelled, "Use coal!", so the demonstrator tossed in a handful of coal. . . welded all weekend making a sword.
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 19:26:31 EDT

Wrought Iron,


I was at this factory a couple of weeks ago (we put them a new power hammer in) , some very skilled guys re-roll / forge weld / old chain links etc into "useable" sections of iron. No idea of the cost but its very labour (and fuel!) intensive.

They also produce some of the best decorative forging work in the UK.

I got a couple of bars of wrought from them and its lovely to work, completly different to modern steels. I made some very nice 4 ribbon pattern welded (damascus) bars from it mixed with nickel steels, would look great as a knife / sword but would never survive the heat treat!

very informative website, well worth a look.
   - John N - Monday, 09/29/08 19:27:48 EDT

QC- You are of course correct about A36. I should have said "off the rack stuff that might be A36 or is being sold as such"

Jacob- Even if you find a good source of bog ore, make sure it's in an out of the way place. If some folks see you digging up a wetland they could throw a fit. EPA type fit.
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 09/29/08 19:32:40 EDT

Hi again everyone!
I'm trying to nudge my mrs in the right direction of getting me a new diagonal pein hammer (2-2½lbs) for Christmas, but can't seem to find anyone local (Australia)to supply. Apparently Alan Ball has let his stock run down on account of illness, so he's not likely to have any available in the near future. Any suggestions?
   Craig - Monday, 09/29/08 20:28:18 EDT

Miles, I'd rather my imagination be beggared than buggared, but it still makes one cringe to think of. And your grounds ain't chalybeate if'n the water don't irridesce, sorry. Your fondness for just the right word is no vice, fear not. Why, just yesterday as I was demonstrating to a bunch of bladesmiths I thought of you as I was describing the reason one can weld high carbon steel to wrought iron at a lower temperature than one can easily weld wrought to wrought by saying it had to do with the zen of the eutectic. Not that that's entirely true, but it sounds good and is a perfectly good use of nonproductive verbiage.

One of these days my wife will get me that T-shirt that proclaims "eschew obfuscation." Perish the thought.
   Alan-L - Monday, 09/29/08 20:38:24 EDT

That was what I told my ex's divorce lawyer. Remove the latin, clean up the leagalese and remove the NEW verbiage since the agreement (they LOVE to stick new things in) and I would sign. Otherwise, they could wait another couple years. . . They CAN do it.
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 23:32:09 EDT

Diagonal Pein Hammer: Craig, Find a double faced hand sledge, and cut off the corners to make the pein. . . a suggestion someone gave me at SOFA's Quadstate this past weekend. . .

Working on the photos now. Took hundreds. Sorted out a LOT but the Thermite track welding ended up with 50 images. . .
   - guru - Monday, 09/29/08 23:36:06 EDT

Jacob Lochart: WHere are you located? Best bet for bog iron is in the Eastern salt marshes, where America's iron industry began. Groundwater leaches iron oxides out of glacial and bedrock deposits, then salt water precipitates the iron out when water reaches the marsh. This is what supplied Saugus Iron Works for its brief life, then Pocasset and others, for about 200 years. If you think you have an iron bog, consult a local civil engineer knowlegable about wetland regulations. Many of them deal with soil reports when doing permitting for development near a marsh or bog and can readily identify iron. BTW, if you really want to do it right, pyrolize yourself a few hundred pounds of charcoal and get in a load of oyster shells for flux.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 09/30/08 00:07:52 EDT

Alan-L-- according to my Web New World, this marvelous word you have dredged up comes from the name of a people noted for their steel, has to do with salts of steel, and with tasting like steel. All of the above pertain to my land, which even smells like steel. Rainbow water or no. And $100 K per annum from putting old rusties into UPS boxes definitely buggers (sic) my imagination.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 00:09:11 EDT

Bog iron-- This won't get you any, but you'll have a wonderful time: visit Furnacetown, near Snow Hill a Federal-era town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The haunting remains of a majestic little blast furnace that once smelted tons of bog iron, nestled in a forest, surrounded now by a restored village that once upon a time served it. Great book store, lovely double-hearth forge, the scene of memorable gatherings of the brethren. when Eastern Shore and Delmarva smiths gather nowadays to smite. Check out www.furnacetown.com/
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 00:18:10 EDT

Alan-- my 1933 unabridged OED goes even further than the Webster's cited above-- sez chalybeate can also be a verb, mentioned ale that's been chalybeated. Wow! Talk about Iron City!
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 10:49:19 EDT

Chalybeated ale? Yowza! Wonder why Iron City comes in aluminium cans, anyway...

Personally I was thinking your Rancho de Los Alamos was probably more along the lines of ferruginous caliche, but I can believe it's been well chalybeated. Oh, for an unabridged OED!

Back to bog ore: I was under the impression it is a result of bacterial action on organic materials in iron-rich waters, which is why it will regenerate. That is, you can mine out an iron bog (environmental laws permitting), and a few years later it'll have ore again.

I live in an area surrounded by red hematite ores to the west, brown goethite/limonite/siderite ores to the north, and a big mountain o' magnetite to the east. Old furnaces were once everywhere, but now only a very few remain. The local industry collapsed in the 1880s, when Birmingham, AL took off in a big way. Every year or so a bunch of us who incline towards forging sharp and pointy objects do get together and run off a small bloom of steel (NOT wrought iron) for the fun and experience. We use ore from Minnesota in a fit of irony. The guru has been present for a couple of these smelts.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/30/08 11:13:03 EDT

Do you think bolting my 126lb anvil to 200lb block of steel will help with my anvil's mass or just be a waste of time? Thanks
   - mark h - Tuesday, 09/30/08 11:26:17 EDT

So a company is putting out specialized body implant jewelry called micro dermals. They're touting how good the product is because it has a titanium shaft with a stainless steel base. I researched it and it's 316LVM (looks like) TIG welded to 6AL4V ELI Ti. My question is; does this product run any risk for bimetallic corrosion? Keep in mind that the product will be under the skin, 98.6 degrees in a saline aqueous environment. Dissimilar metals in the body scares me, and I would like to not see this comapny get sued.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/30/08 12:05:22 EDT

TGN, I think there may be some potential for the 316L to be anodic to the Titanium. In a chart of Voltage VS saturated calomel reference electrode, the 316 has a voltage of -.04 and the Ti has a zero voltage. That means there is a slight voltage difference that could result in a galvanic cell. That means the 316 might corrode. Don't put one of those gizmos near any essential organs.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 09/30/08 12:19:15 EDT


I get my hammers from Nathan Robertson, a hammersmith in Minnesota, USA. Nathan makes a very fine hammer at a quite reasonable price (approximately $60.00 US) and would happily ship to you. I believe a United States Postal Service International Flat Rate box ships for around $25 US, and the weight limit would easily allow for more than one hammer.

You can reach him by email at: jpine@paulbunyan.net

   vicopper - Tuesday, 09/30/08 13:13:14 EDT

I have 4 of Nathan's hammers and would not buy from a different source at this time. I love my 3 diagonal peen hammers in different weights.
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/30/08 13:21:33 EDT

Shipping to AU: International shipping via mail has become astronomical. I suspect the airlines are making up their losses on postage. . . It can easily cost $40 to ship one or two hammer there. Used to be that if you could wait three of four months you could mail by surface (slow boat). But that is no longer an option.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/30/08 13:35:58 EDT

Alan-- I'm not talking geology here, just assuming that all this scrap and junk-- oops, I mean materiel-- I have lying about is surely leaching off some ahrn molecules into the underlying soil. To the naked eye what is here a bit north and east of Santa Fe is pulverized granite down to about two feet and under that sand. And then more sand. And then sandstone. Over across the Rio formerly known as Grande in and around Los Alamos, 30 miles from here as the ICBM flies is a thick crust of tuff, produced by a humongous volcanic burp long time back. See Valle Grande.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 14:22:47 EDT

Miles, I'm sure you're correct on all counts. Your ahrn is combining with the underlying arenosity (look that one up!), producing an atmosphere of pure chalybeatitude atop your mesa.

Alisha who wants to interview a swordsmith: Lots of that online at http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php?showtopic=9482 ., including yours truly. I am not a professional smith, and to date have only made one sword, even if it is by all accounts a nice one. Lots of full-time pro's on there, though.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/30/08 14:38:54 EDT

So the possibility for corrosion is there. The item does not go any deeper than 3/16" below the dermal surface, so being near organs is not a worry. But rusty steel is.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 09/30/08 15:21:55 EDT

I have some of Nathan's hammers as well. Very well made, harder than the face on my P. Wright and softer than the Hay Bud. About 1/2 the price of what I could make a good hammer for at my shop rate.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 09/30/08 19:47:25 EDT

Alan L: I believe you are correct about the bacterial action. The groundwater is the source of the iron, and the bog water -- fresh or salt -- is the source of the precipitating process. GUess my post gave the impression it was the salt that caused the precipitation. It just so happens that the surface water in the eastern marshes is salt, but that's incidental to the bacterial process. In any event, its still going on, and we get these colorful little patches that look like oil slicks, but thicker and very metallic looking, in the marshes here all the time
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 09/30/08 21:29:29 EDT

mark h, I bolted my 134# Hey-Bud to a 187# block of steel and it made all the diferance in the world.
I used a 4" angle grinder to make the bottom of the anvil smooth and level so there would be a lot of contact area between the two surfaces and I also put down a layer of 10ga. copper wire between them to cancel out the resonant vibration between the two.
Then I made a hold down frame from 1" square stock that could be bolted together to fit closely around the feet.
I spoted then drilled and tapped fore, 5/8-11x3" deep holes close to the waist in between the front and back feet for the hold down frame.
Once I got it all assembeled I snugged the bolts up lightly and measured the gap between the top of the block and the underside of the frame at each bolt location. Then I made a spacer from some thick walled mechanical tubing for each bolt location and made each one 1/16 short for an even torquing. This will also prevent the frame from bending and getting loose over time. I used grade 5 hex head bolts (I don't think grade 8 would do any better) and standard (grade 2) washers.
If you try this methode be sure you put the layer of copper wire inbetween the anvil and the block of steel or they will "buzz" when you strike them.
I chained the whole works to the bench (wich is bolted to the wall) to tighten the hold down bolts and used a 3/4" by 3' breaker bar to make sure they are tight, hence the grade 5 bolts.
The whole thing goes 317# plus the 40# or so worth of oak blocks used to get it all to the correct highth.
It acts like a nice heavy anvil too.
You have to get the bottom flat (I actualy hand scraped mine to 10 points /inch but, it probably wasn't nesessary) and use the copper wire.
Good Luck!
   - merl - Tuesday, 09/30/08 22:00:42 EDT

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

Real Rust: Fast and effective method to make heavy rust, which when removed, leaves pitting texture that is indistinguishable from the real deal: electrolysis. Lots of web sites out there can give you the basics. Reverse the polarity from what you would use for rust removal: put the positive lead on the work and it will rust up just fine. It virtually duplicates old rust because it is acheived in the same manner: by electrolysis. Remove this rust and you will have a richly textured surface. You will have to experiment with the particular iron you are using, as well as the electrolyte concentration, to determine how much time is required for the effect you need. GEnerally, however, if your DC source is running at about 5 amps, a couple of hours will give you light, even pitting, and overnight will give you heavy tecture, well beyond pitting. BTW: electrolysis is not expensive. A 12 volt source working at 5 amps is only drawing 60 watts of power . At 20c per KWH, that's 1.2 cents per hour of operation. If you want the texture, but not the rust, just restore the polarity -- negative electrode -- to the work, for about the same amount of time and the rust will reduce to black oxide -- scale -- easily removed with light brushing to reveal the pitting.
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 10/08/08 05:52:30 EDT

Rick Saunders: Likely he wasn't making a pan but a boiler. One of the early Foxfire books had an excellent chapter in it on moonshining.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 10/08/08 07:24:57 EDT

Another blackening technique, my favorite actually, is one I don't think I've ever heard mentioned here. It involves placing the object into a heated, SATURATED solution of sodium hydroxide (lye). I used to do this on a stovetop, using a stainless steel pan, common drain cleaner and distilled water. The solution needs to be near boiling point, which for this solution is well above the boiling point of water. Needless to say; personal protective gear and ventilation are mandatory. The finished result is a pearly black(on polished steel)that is unmatched by any cold process in evenness and corrosion inhibition. I used this process on lamps that I was making 30+ years ago, and the few that I have been able to see recently look like I made them yesterday. The only sealer they had on them was a coat of paste wax.
   - Charlie Spademan - Wednesday, 10/08/08 07:27:43 EDT

...I should say never heard mentioned here, other than as a passing reference to "hot oxide blackening". Also, surface preparation and cleanliness are just as critical to the success of this process as with any other
   Charlie Spademan - Wednesday, 10/08/08 07:39:19 EDT

COPPER STILL: (been studying these since childhood)

The immigrants arriving in Appalachia were old-time craftsmen of distilled spirits, and still-making was a craft most commercial copper smiths were engaged in. Many joints in old stills were riveted, but lead solder was also used. American Prohibition is responsible for the shoddy quality of Moonshine stills; these operations were profit-driven, and solder replaced rivets, and Galvanized steel even replaced copper as the base metal! (Car radiators even replaced the coiled copper pipe for condensation!!!)

For an accurate historical representation of pre-prohibition copper stills, we can look to the replicas that Mount Vernon has used in re-creating George Washington’s distillery. They were made by Vendome Copper and Brass Works, based on a surviving example from the Smithsonian. Google them, and look at the gallery. Here’s a pic:

Forsyth Metal Works has been the go-to guys for Scotch whisky stills for quite a while. They form copper sheet into bowl-shaped or other forms, then weld together. Scottish distilleries are almost superstitious about replicating the originals when replacing a still -right down to the dents. The source of the flavors in whiskey are a little-understood science (magic), and the shape of the still has an effect on the product, but exactly how is sort of unknown, but it is known that changing the size and shape of the still would likely change the product.

Making a traditional copper pot still would exercise many different metal-forming skills, and the result would be a high form of art, in my view.

Thanks for your indulgence.
   - Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 10/08/08 07:44:28 EDT

Dave, sorry. . I remembered seeing them pieced but not rivets. That makes more sense. I now remember that mash seeping out the cracks dried and stopped the leaks. But I was correct in that they were often pieced as necessary. Yes, the big expensive commercial stills often ARE made using the high art of vessel raising and are works of art.

To avoid solder a good craftsman would braze copper together. If you look at the big old copper cooling kettles they a kind of tabbed (rectangular notches) that overlap and then were brazed together. I suspect the same was used on many stills.

Outside of the cooking pot many of the parts of an old fashioned still were wood barrels.

During prohibition an unbelievable number of folks had stills. Almost every family had SOMEBODY that had a small "family" still. This was not just the romantic "country moonshiner" with a place in a hollow with spring water to cool the steam. They were in city attics and basements, boiler rooms and anywhere they might blend in ar be hidden.

My relatives in Newport and Covington KY all had someone in the family with a still. It was known to everyone including the police. As long as you were not doing business in public they pretty much looked the other way.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/08/08 09:15:38 EDT

We lived near a Maryland rye plant and a Paul Jones distillery, in Dundalk, Merlin, with a paint factory not far off, and when those babies ran a batch it was wise to be elsewhere. PEEYEWIE!! My dad's dream always was to build a still of his own and run his when they ran theirs so as not to be olfactorily (is that a word??) conspicuous. He never got to do it, alas. My point is, building the still is just the beginning-- you have to think tactics and strategy as to emplacement, operations vis a vis the IRS.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/08/08 11:01:42 EDT

Rough surface finish---one I have used was to tune my blown gas forge to *VERY* *OXIDIZING* and let a heavy layer of scale build up. Whne knocked off if left a rough and bumpy surface that was pretty good for the large Dragon's head I was making.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/08/08 11:14:11 EDT

wouldn't want to discuss such things here, other to simply advise against it, or move to a more tolerant country. especially since I use my real name!

Google "Home Distillation" and check out Tony Aukland's (sp?) site if these things interest you.
   - Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 10/08/08 11:17:00 EDT

hey guys .. needed to ask u one more thing ... how do u cut a forged flat(rectangular) having dimensions of 80mmx200mmx1500mm ie. thicknessxwidthxlength ... in half .. so ur resulting outcome is 40mmx200mmx1500mm..!
is there any specific machine for this purpose .. or we need to fabricate it ..?
thanx u guys ..!
take care all.!
   Abhay - Wednesday, 10/08/08 12:56:04 EDT

I was watching an auction on Ebay for a 73lb Peter Wright anvil. I use an identicle one for a small parts bench anvil but the markings are somewhat different. Mine doesn't have "England" written on it and instead of 2 Maltese Crosses on the foot mine has an anchor symbol. What does that mean as far as age difference?? And no, it's not for sale, just curious.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 10/08/08 13:02:52 EDT

Thumper, Those are inspectors or forge crew markings. The "England" probably indicates a later anvil rather than an earlier one.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/08/08 13:08:04 EDT

Thanks guru.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 10/08/08 13:15:59 EDT

the few stills i've seen (the ones actually being used, not just for show) were patched with bread dough when they developed small pinhole type leaks.
   - nathan - Wednesday, 10/08/08 13:21:37 EDT

Hi folks, quick question about forge blowers...are the gears on an old No. 400 supposed to run in an oil bath, or just get an occasional shot through the oilers on top? Thanks, I get a lot out of reading these postings!
   Dave - Wednesday, 10/08/08 15:25:08 EDT

Dave, A few drops every 2nd or 3rd day of use.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/08/08 17:43:31 EDT

Vendome is a big name around these parts. They make and ship stills worldwide. Been in the paper lately as they made a huge order for a distillery in Scotland I believe.
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/08/08 18:23:17 EDT

Frank, thanks!! By the way, pertaining to the discussion on stills, there are a couple in my area in local wineries, and they are truly works of art. German-made, I believe.
   Dave - Wednesday, 10/08/08 18:51:28 EDT

Abhay: That is a bandsaw job if the billet is sufficently annealed, otherwise forge or roll it to 40x200x3000 and cut it with a torch.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 10/08/08 21:10:01 EDT

Thanks for the tips for inspiration. I have most definetly noticed lack of it whenever I need it most. I suppose time and meditation will help.
   - Hollon - Wednesday, 10/08/08 21:26:27 EDT

Don't forget to allow for the kerf. There is no free lunch.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/08/08 23:23:57 EDT

Inspiration: I find it often comes at night when I cannot sleep OR I cannot sleep because I am inspired. . . It helps to keep a notepad handy all the time. I used to try to write notes when I drive because I do a lot of thinking then but its very dangerous and downright impossible in split seats.

I've found inspiration never comes when you really try hard to have it. In fact this is often the best way NOT to have it. I've also often found that those dreams I have that seem like fantastic ideas while dreaming them are not so good in the light of day. . . IF I can read my notes made in the dark.

When I used to make a living coming up with ideas or solutions to unusual problems it helped a LOT to have other like minded people to have a discussion or bull session with. Talking it out freely often helps. On the other hand some I my most creative most complicated work was done on paper place mats in a restaurant before during or after lunch. . . I often took two hour lunches away from the distractions of the office and came back with a sheaf full of gear box drawings or programming code. . .

Sometimes bull sessions are a waste of time. Like other creative processes if you have an appointment or set a time OR especially a TIME limit on the session it is likely to fail. Now that I am out of a design office situation I often have bull sessions with friends on the phone. This is not nearly as efficient as in person and often requires scanning and emailing sketches. . . What could happen in an afternoon might take weeks.

The bull session method has worked very well with me but you can have trouble when others claim your idea or do not acknowledge your part in it. Even when you are the board to bounce ideas off you are a part of the process. . .

Inspiration is also found in other people's work. But this can be dangerous (was that YOUR idea or someone else's you cannot remember the source of. . ). Other's work can also be so tremendously good that your imagination shrinks, ego's wither and fail in the face of other's greatness. But when you finally KNOW your ideas are better than others it is the opposite situation.

Inspiration comes in many forms. It can be artistic in line or sculpture, in vision or in the theme or execution. It can be in words that are often so hard to find while others seem infinitely glib. It can be in scientific or mathematical formulae or engineering ideas. Some people are more inclined to be inspired in one way more than another. That is why some are writers, some artists and others neither.
Volcan Arenal Costa Rica Photo by Jock Dempsey
We can find inspiration in nature (that is my Windows Desktop above) or someone's smile or just in the joy of living. Some find inspiration in the depression of an alcohol or drug induced stupor or hallucinations caused by drugs or illness. It often pays to follow crazy ideas to see where they lead. They may not be so crazy.

Some find inspiration in the love of another or music, or sounds of music that reminds them of a time when they were in love. . .

Creativity can be largely hard work but we all know it helps to be inspired. I find that if I work hard enough on something and avoid becoming frustrated (I have a lot of "you can't get there from here" dreams) then the inspiration needed will come.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/08/08 23:58:58 EDT

Stills: When I was making regular runs to the homebrew store for my wine (which by the way turned out amazing), I asked to shop owner about stilling. Here's the scoop, in the US, it is legal to make, own and run a still. It is illegal to make imbibable liquor with a still. You can use stills for making distilled water, extracts, even perfume. Throw some corn mash in there, keep it to yourself.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 10/09/08 07:38:23 EDT

Liquor laws vary from State to State. Here, in Washington State, there is a new law allowing small scale production of high proof alcohol.
It lowers the yearly licence fee to $100, and allows small scale distilleries to sell a maximum of 2 liters per day per customer, directly to walk in customers.
It also requires a minimum of 50% made in Washington ingredients.

This is not designed to allow big, wholesale distilleries like Jack Daniels or Bacardi, but instead to allow small scale, boutique liquor to be made.
The farmers in my area grow a lot of potatoes, and are discussing a Vodka Co-op.
A woman I know is setting up to do Apple Brandy in the apple growing town of Tieton, and Dry Fly is already making vodka and gin in Spokane.
Another half dozen micro distilleries are set to begin production sometime next year.
Due to State Health Regs, a still setup that will pass the inspections is estimated to cost $150,000- but that is buying one off the shelf, not building it yourself.
Clever blacksmiths and metalworkers around here are no doubt going to be making legal stills very soon.
One of my employees already has a profitable side business repairing and installing microbrewery equipment- he is stainless pipe certified, owns a suitcase tig welder, and has worked in small breweries, and knows the process, piping, and unique aspects. I would imagine he will be getting side jobs working on hard liquor stills as well.
   - Ries - Thursday, 10/09/08 10:24:59 EDT

Inspiration-- I have read and heard many times from many artists, scientists, etc. that answers to toughies often came after they'd saturated themselves with info re: the problem. Renowned art teacher Betty Edwards wrote Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, about how to draw (start out by copying pictures after turning them upside down better to see the negative spaces), then did a sequel, Drawing on the Artist Within. The sequel is loaded with quotes from notable creative types about what makes those bulbs light up over their heads.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/09/08 11:06:41 EDT

And then there's perspiration. One of my problems is procrastination. The Procrastinaors Club of America is going to have their first meeting in October, 1995. Wanna' come?
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/09/08 12:11:42 EDT

What are wheel balancing weights made of these days?
I'm getting a bit of a collection of them I've picked up from near a nasty pothole I walk past regularly.
   JimG - Thursday, 10/09/08 12:13:27 EDT

I plan on joining the procrastinators club but never seem to get around to it.
   JimG - Thursday, 10/09/08 12:50:26 EDT

Jim, They were always lead with a steel clip as far as I know. It may or may not be alloyed with something else to adjust its hardness.

OK, I found one manufacturer making lead free Zinc weights. Japanese cars have been coming with them for a while and the EU has required them since 2005. Lead weights are still available in the U.S.

SO, they may be lead, OR zinc. Zinc will be harder than lead. They also make polyester coated weights in both types.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/09/08 13:00:05 EDT

Thanks, I just thought that with the hysteria around how dangerous lead is that they might be something else by now.
   JimG - Thursday, 10/09/08 13:38:59 EDT

A buyer of mine from France is looking for a source of antler ends (part between head and first tine) to use to make folding knives. Apparently need to be 5-6" long and at least 1" at the head joint. Do any of you have a source or can tell me how to do an Internet search for a supplier?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 10/09/08 14:14:54 EDT

Hello all. Ive got an interesting phenomenon that needs explaining. Part of my job requires me to build these magnetic drums with rare earth magnets(NeFeB) arranged inside stainless chutes with similer polarities forced together and the field shunted on either side by steel shunts. Iuse aluminium_6061) spacers to maintain the tolerance between these shunts. The aluminium is reacting,not attracting with the magnetic field! You can feel the movement of each spacer being manipulated by the magnets as you get them closer to the enclosure. What is going on?
   - Chris - Thursday, 10/09/08 15:18:45 EDT

Ken, have you looked at hideandfur.com?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/09/08 15:20:04 EDT

Chris I suggest you read up on Diamagnetic, Paramagnetic, and Ferromagnetic materials. It will explain what you are seeing with Al.

Basically we are generally familiar with ferromagnetic materials but other things can be para or dimagnetic and show weak effects to strong magnetic fields.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/09/08 15:41:28 EDT

On distilling: whatever the laws in a particular state, in order to distill liquor, you also have to jump through all the federal hoops as well. The feds require so many fees, inspections and certifications that they effectivley prohibit small-scale production. The loophole is ehtanol fuel. You can make a boatload of it for a very small fee, as long as you use it on premisies and of course, no one drinks it. Lots of good websites on it. SO let the still-building discussion continue!!
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 10/09/08 16:51:06 EDT

Im planning on makeing some forged jewlery items for some lady friends of mine and was curious if I use iron will it turn their skin black if they wear it alot? Is there something better to use? I haven't done anything this small before so I'm a little out of my range.
   J - Thursday, 10/09/08 17:00:50 EDT

Chris, I am no expert on the subject of magnitisum but, I have seen a video on U tube showing a 12x12x4" block of 6061 alum being placed next to the opening of an MRI machine and then watch it fall VERY slowly when pushed over! There's got to be something to it.
   - merl - Thursday, 10/09/08 17:39:22 EDT

Working in an auto parts plant I get to read some of the internal trade mag's. Lead wheel weights are gone for several of the big makers as of about a month ago.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/09/08 18:33:06 EDT

Far from being prohibited, small scale distilling is taking off all over the USA. Small boutique distilleries are popping up all over. For info and links, try www.burningstill.com
Lots of success stories of what are basically backyard operations, selling high quality homemade product.
Yes, there are Federal Laws- but they are meant to prohibit bootlegging, not legitimate business.
Like Washington State, Oregon is also having small distilleries pop up- several in Portland alone.
Often these are microbreweries that are taking advantage of recent changes in the law to branch out.
Anchor, in SF, which makes Anchor Steam beer, is starting to make real Genever (original dutch Gin- much tastier than the blandly efficient english stuff we usually get), although they are much larger than the micro distilleries I am talking about.
Wherever you live, some of these are starting up. Koenig in Idaho, Mckendrick in Texas, Dogfish in Delaware, even a brand called "mountain moonshine" in West Virgina. Google "microdistilleries" and you can see there are lots of em, and the pics I see online are not million dollar operations- blue plastic barrels and some stainless steel, hillbilly style, at the West Virginia place- and they are making corn likker.
   - Ries - Thursday, 10/09/08 18:53:18 EDT

Magnetism and Aluminium: In the scrap metal business they use strong magnetic fields to blow the aluminium out of scrap. It is repelled. Has to do with the conductivity and low density of the aluminium. Don't ask me the specifics.

   - guru - Thursday, 10/09/08 19:21:04 EDT

For a detailed look at wheel weights see reloading info. sites. They are used by some people to harden up soft pure lead to make cast bullets. Never used them myself as I had a source of linotype. That was until handguns were totally banned in UK (except for criminals who are still have them).
   philip in china - Thursday, 10/09/08 19:48:21 EDT

It is probably an effect of eddy currents, some of you may have seen this in an experiment where a magnet is dropped down into a tube of copper/ aluminium. The magnet drops in slow jerky motions.


Wikipedia-"An eddy current (also known as Foucault current) is an electrical phenomenon discovered by French physicist Léon Foucault in 1851. It is caused when a conductor is exposed to a changing magnetic field due to relative motion of the field source and conductor; or due to variations of the field with time. This can cause a circulating flow of electrons, or a current, within the conductor. These circulating eddies of current create electromagnets with magnetic fields that opposes the change of the magnetic field"
   Nabiul Haque - Thursday, 10/09/08 19:48:52 EDT

The disk that spins in an electric meter is aluminum. I've read it's eddy currents that cause that. Expensive things, aren't they? (grin).
   Mike BR - Thursday, 10/09/08 21:24:27 EDT

By small scale, I mean less than commercial scale: quantities you might use privately. Even a small commercial operation can handle the minimum fees and taxes the feds impose: for home distilling they are prohibitive. Thousands per year. NOt so for ethanol fuel production.
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 10/09/08 22:52:36 EDT

J, forge the jewelry from 300 series steel. Leave the scale as is for the iron look. Won't turn pretty girl skin green.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 10/10/08 00:58:57 EDT

some advise on paint please ?, i have just built a forge and am going to make some rams head motifs, these are to be incorporated into fabricated steel beds and tables ,which will have ground joints,if i use a wax,the welded joints and grind marks will be visible? the beds are made from 20x20 and 12x12 solid square bar,so a small surface area is only to be painted,please can you reccomend me a paint product?, many thanks
   shane beckett - Friday, 10/10/08 02:10:08 EDT

some advise on paint please ?, i have just built a forge and am going to make some rams head motifs, these are to be incorporated into fabricated steel beds and tables ,which will have ground joints,if i use a wax,the welded joints and grind marks will be visible? the beds are made from 20x20 and 12x12 solid square bar,so a small surface area is only to be painted,please can you reccomend me a paint product?, many thanks
   shane beckett - Friday, 10/10/08 02:10:34 EDT

Chris: Magnetism and nonferrous metals. They key to your question is your observation that the effect occurs "as you get them closer to the enclosure" i.e. as the spacers move closer to the enclosure. I remember a demonstration from high school physics: a pendulum is constructed consisting of a copper disc abut 6" diameter on a wooden stick about 2" long. When activated it swings freely with very little friction for a couple of minutes, several dozen swings, before slowly coming to rest. A powerful permanent horseshoe magnet, having its poles (the heels of the horshoe) about 1" apart, is then set up so that the copper disc swings through the space between the poles at the bottom of its arc. The disc decelerates rapidly as it passes through the magnetic field between the poles, and comes to rest in two or three swings. The demonstration is repeated with an aluminum disc, with similar results.

A copper coil movng in a magnetic field (a conductor exposed to a changing magnetic field, as Nip quotes)generates electrical current. That of course, is how a generator such as your truck's alternator works. Friction aside, it takes considerable force to spin a copper coil in a magnetic field, to overcome the resistance demonstrated by the disc pendulum experiment. If there were no such dynamic resistance between a magnetic field and a non-ferrous metal, i.e, if all you had to do to spin a generator were to overcome bearing friction, a generator would be a perpetual motion machine. SO, a stationary magnetic field will tend to decelerate moving aluminum. And, as motion is relative, a moving magnetic field will tend to accelerate stationary aluminum. That's what's happening with your spacers and with the scrap metal rig. (BTW, the reason the aluminum blower works is that aluminum has relatively high conductivity (resistance to the moving field) and low density (it's light): the moving magnetic wind blows it away more easily than heavier metals, as Longfellow says, "like chaff from a threshing-floor".
   Peter Hirst - Friday, 10/10/08 06:05:25 EDT

If I'm not mistaking one of the requirements for the production of ethanol is it has to be quickly made non-drinkable by the adding of gasoline or such.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 10/10/08 08:42:05 EDT

Grinding Marks, Joinery: Shane, you are not quite telling us enough. Is the bar stock bright or hot roll finished? How are you attaching the ram's heads? Joining the other parts?

Generally grinding marks are the worst thing to cover including with paint. Besides color differences the texture is different and always obvious unless a very smooth surface is produced and this will not match hot roll.

If parts are welded to hot roll the joints need to be cleaned and ground as smooth as possible to not show either weld or grinding marks. Then the part is heated in the forge to create scale sufficient to match the rest of the work.

My preferred method is to weld pieces on, clean without grinding then forge to dress the surfaces. If done properly the welds are invisible.

Avoiding welds is often best. This can be done by riveting or threading on the new decorative elements.

If welding to bright cold finished steel then the forged parts and the welds need to be made as clean and smooth as the other steel.

Generally I do not recommend wax finishes. There are too many paints, stains and varnishes available and it is the PROFESSIONAL way to finish your product. Properly applied finishes do not hide texture and can even enhance a hand forged finish. I prefer automotive finishes (lacquers) because they are hard and colorfast (UV resistant). You can also combine lacquers with chemical blackening and acrylic artists colors used as washes or rubbed on. Acrylic artist colors should always be applied over a primed surface and sealed with a lacquer top coat.
   - guru - Friday, 10/10/08 11:10:22 EDT

Iron Jewelery: Iron and steel do not stain like brasses do. You can use plain steel jewelery however it WILL rust. Iron jewelery can have a simple bee's wax finish over tight scale and hold up quite well. If worn constantly there will be minimal rust and body oils will prevent most rusting. It is when the jewelery is not being worn OR is in a pile of damp clothing that it will rust.

As TGN noted you can also use stainless steel. If the jewelery is to have a bright finish OR for piercings it should be stainless.
   - guru - Friday, 10/10/08 11:16:04 EDT

Nippulini and Guru - Thanks, just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to have any angry ladies on my hands when their hands changed colour.
   J - Friday, 10/10/08 12:37:58 EDT

The alcohol used to make gasohol is usually spiked with 5% gasoline before shipping to the blender, refinery, fuel distributor, etc.
   - Hudson - Friday, 10/10/08 16:57:00 EDT

I actually read the regulation on denaturing alcohol once. The list of approved formulas goes on for pages. I guess whatever you add to make it undrinkable has to be compatible with the specific industrial process the alcohol's being distilled for. Gasoline sure sounds right for gasohol, though.
   Mike BR - Friday, 10/10/08 18:26:40 EDT

Anyone know the approximate tonnage you can generate with a leg vice? 200# guy on a 24" lever turning a 1.25" screw (more or less)? I have a junk leg vice with no box or spring and an extra hydraulic hand pump and ram that are just begging to be put together. Just don't want to overload the vice. I know that old equipment, depends on the linkage, and other safety disclaimers will apply. Thanks!
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 10/10/08 19:51:16 EDT


I think the easy way is to set the travel of the handle times the force applied equal to the screw travel times the force applied. The circumference of a 24" radius circle is about 150". If you figure 1" screw travel per turn, and calculate for a full revolution, you get 150 X 200 = 1 x applied force. That works out to 30,000#, or 15 tons.

Sounds high, and it is. For one thing, you don't put all 200# at the very end of the handle, so the effective radius is something less that 24". More importantly, a lot of force is lost to friction between the screw and the nut. But I bet 5 tons is a safe figure to use.
   Mike BR - Friday, 10/10/08 21:42:28 EDT

I have a small load cell that I have used to test how hard it is to generate 2000# [the units capacity] with various vices. A 6" Kurt style milling machine vise will make the 2000# easily with moderrate hand pressure, a 5" Reed bench vise takes a bit more to get 2,000, and a '50s era Craftsman 4" bench vise will give 2000# but You really have to yank on the handle with both hands. My 5 1/2" post vise will make the 2000# pretty easily, but he handle is about 20" long, much greater than the others mentioned.

I think that 5 tons would bend the smaller post vises.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/10/08 22:32:15 EDT

I must be tired, I cant even misspell consistantly.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/10/08 22:34:59 EDT

Well lubricated screws and thrust washers make a big difference as well. I could look it up but power screws are terribly inefficient especially when using plain thrust bearings. Presses like fly presses use ball thrust bearings to increase their efficiency. I've found that most blacksmith vices were limited to the bending strength of the handle. Wrought handles are especially prone to bending.

I also have and have seen these vices with bent frames. But this may be due to load applied with a lever against an already tightened screw.

This can calculated by the bending stress on the two sides of the eye. Treat the entire model as the side sections, with the length being about 6" and calculate the stress at a given load. Should be under 10-12KSI for steel and 9KSI for wrought.
   - guru - Friday, 10/10/08 23:22:26 EDT

Re. your observations on a well lubricated screw I can only agree absolutely with you.
   philip in china - Saturday, 10/11/08 05:49:33 EDT

From lab testing on acme treaded members I can offer that thread lubricnt makes a very big difference in thrust, but is also very dependent on the lubricant type. I tested with plain oil, #2 bearing grease, and many neversiezes as well as a number of moly disulfide type lubes.
The plain oil made little difference. The grease was better adding perhaps 5% to thrust. The neversiezes gave an increase of 20%. The best a 70% moly in grease gave 40 to 50% more thrust than dry.
   ptree - Saturday, 10/11/08 07:05:47 EDT

Hardware for your body: I guess the metal of choice for surgical implants has evolved toward Titanium. Even high quality stainless can corrode over time, especially in a saline environment like human blood. I am the proud bearer of $200,000 worth of titanium on my spine. $200 worth of metal and $199,800 to put it there.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/11/08 11:16:00 EDT

I usually use Never-Seize on vise threads because it is handy. I have some thick high moly gear grease that would probably do well but it is messier than Never-Seize.

One of the rarer metals is used to plate many medical devices because flesh attaches to it. Can't remember the metal. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/11/08 12:04:36 EDT

Maybe I should slather on some Never-Seize on my back. Still kinda stiff.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 10/11/08 15:52:11 EDT


20% extra thrust sounds good to me, too. (grin)
   Mike BR - Saturday, 10/11/08 19:59:17 EDT

A few comments on last nights post about the effort to generate 2,000# in a vise:

1) The post vise was recently well lubed with never-seize.
2) The Kurt type milling machine vise is lubed with grease on the threads and has an oil hole at the thrust bearing.
3) The Reed bench vise is lubed with die post lube [consistency of STP, but brown in color].
4) The Craftsman bench vise hasn't been cleaned and re lubed in a coons age, the screw is probably greasy, and there might be a film of something on the thrust face, but calling it grease would be an overstatment. HOWEVER I think that the poor efficiency of this vise comes from the large area and large working diameter of that thrust face. That having been said, it is the one mounted on the bench, and it gets a lot of use.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 10/11/08 23:12:48 EDT

What would be an interesting blacksmithing science fair project. THNX
   Carter - Saturday, 10/11/08 23:19:49 EDT

Thanks for the vice info (and innuendo) guys. I'll move the vice project up a few notches on the "gotta get to it" list and report back on how it worked.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 10/12/08 08:04:09 EDT

Remember it's not only the total pressure it's the application curve as well!

Screw presses have a very sharp spike in pressure and so can do things that the same pressure in steady state would have problems with (and vice versa).

   Thomas P - Sunday, 10/12/08 11:23:56 EDT

I would think about using a section of acme thread rod and coulpling nut and trying a more tradition repair instead of a hydraulic jack.
   John Christiansen - Sunday, 10/12/08 11:50:16 EDT

Mike BR, you have a one track gutter! Tsk tsk. :-)
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/12/08 16:06:13 EDT

Jock, I believe that rare metal may be cobalt. I may be wrong, but I'll check with my ortho-surgeon on it.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 10/12/08 17:51:04 EDT

Does anyone know how to contact Michael McCarthy? He is or was the smith at the Farmers Market Living History Museum in Cooperstown, NY.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 10/12/08 19:24:36 EDT

Smithing Science Projects: Carter, It depends on what tools and capacity you have. To to a blacksmithing project you would need some of tools of a blacksmith (hammer, forge, anvil, vise. . .). If you do one of these and your methods are consistent I would gladly publish your report.

Take the discussion above about vise screws. While a very scientific load cell (look up "load cell" has been used to measure the vise pressure the input has been by hand on various length levers. To be scientific the torque on the screws should be equal OR the force applied at the handle design length should be equal. Both these statements involve simple physics and math. The equal force would be best as different devices are being tested. Torque could be calculated from force and design length.

Part of the question above has to do with lubrication. To be a scientific test the vises would need to be disassembled (easy to do) and the screws and nuts cleaned and degreased. THEN each one should be lubricated with the same appropriate grease or oil. Then testing would be done and results tabulated and compared. Different types of lubricant could be tried.

Besides the variables of vise size, the threads have a different diameter and pitch (number of threads per unit distance) which results in a different angle of the thread which effects the mechanical advantage.

Other variables include (as noted above) thrust bearing diameter and type of bearing. Thread engagement length, condition of the threads and fit can also make a difference.

With at least four different vises and three different lubes you could have a pretty good research project that would be valuable to the industry. Vises could be borrowed or the tests performed in someone's shop. I have vises that start at 3-4" (150 - 200mm) with a 1/2" (13 mm) diameter screw up to huge 8" (400mm) with 1.25" (32mm) screws and a variety including antique blacksmiths, modern machinists, drill press and specialty vices. . . you could do a LOT of testing. This is where science and engineering meet the road.

MORE. . . Blacksmiths use various finishes (non, was, oil, paints) that could be tested in an accelerated weathering chamber (water spray, UV lights, hot and cold repeated over and over faster than nature. . ).

There has been recent discussion and reports of testing various high temperature lubricants for punching steel at a yellow heat. . .

Heat treating steel results in some interesting data when properly performed, measured and charted. Testing the steel is complicated as it required failure mode testing. Experiments that compare two different steels and result in a small understanding of metallurgy would greatly further your education. It is the alchemy of the blacksmith.

Blacksmiths use various fuels, charcoal, coal, coke, diesel, propane, butane, natural gas. Cost per BTU and comparison of forge type efficiencies (solid fuel forges do not run steady state and can vary greatly in application size). Sustainable fuels, carbon footprint etc. . . could be studied.

Processing charcoal and the wood types used vs. fuel quality and qualities (some sparks and makes "fire fleas" while others do not. Immissions from making the charcoal, recycling and using the gases and how it effects the efficiency of making and using the fuel. Applies to both blacksmithing and cooking charcoals (not briquettes).

Sorry for the delay, I started answering this at 7am this morning and had to leave for personal business. . just back at 9pm. . LONG answer.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/12/08 20:48:44 EDT

dose anyone know the scrap metal prices in or near iowa.
   sam - Sunday, 10/12/08 20:54:59 EDT

sam, I don't know about Iowa, but here in Pa. it is down to about $4-$5/100# for steel. I doubt it would be much better someplace else.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 10/12/08 21:52:11 EDT

Scrap Prices like the stock market has its ups and downs, largely following the market. We are in a near crash (or a crash if you had investments . . or rely on home construction for a living). Two weeks ago THEY were trying to force $5.35/gallon gas on North Carolina buyers and shortly after THAT there were lines waiting for gas in major cities of the state, TODAY we bought gas for $3.59 in NC and $2.99 in Southern Virginia. . . .

This is a good week to do some hauling in my 7MPG HD truck. . . 40% cheaper than a week ago.

Back in February when I was buying steel the scrap yeards were moving steel as fast as they could at record prices. . . don't know now but I'm sure I bought at the wrong time.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/12/08 22:08:40 EDT

Clean A36 cutoffs brought me $13.00/cwt about a month ago; Northern NJ. Sheet metal scrap pays significantly less
   - Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 10/12/08 22:47:57 EDT

hi guys, i know in your spread about swordmaking you said that alot of money and research is required to make swords. i am a master swordsman,i have been handling live swords since i was five. i won many fencing tournaments,but that is in no way a profession in this day and age and gets you nothing but wierd looks or shot. i have an apreciation and understanding of the sword as both a weapon and a work of art.i wish to make a profession out of my passion, but as craftsmen you all know these are two defferent things. i have been making hilts and sheaths for a long time. i am willing to make hilts and sheaths,clean, repair,supply my own materials and pay for anything i break.but most of all im willing to work my ass off for hours and days to become a sword smith. if anyone on this forum lives in the denver colorado area and needs my services,i will do that and more for some education. i have no other place. give me a call if you are interested.303 325 1261
   - logan hutchins - Sunday, 10/12/08 23:54:49 EDT

I buy steel at a combination new/scrap dealer. I asked about the recent drastic drop in scrap prices. He said it was predominately due to China drastically reducing their purchases. That had a ripple effect through the entire scrap iron industry.

One of those ripple effects in the son of a neighbor. Laid off he went to buying and hauling junkers. Was doing well for a while. Now they pretty well don't bring the cost of his fuel.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 10/13/08 06:26:00 EDT

Junk Cars. . About 5 years ago I had several that had accumulated and another vehicle died. So I tried to get rid of them. No takers, couldn't give them away, and the local auto parts yards would not even take a van that I said I would DRIVE TO THEM! It was one of those deals where a number of relatively small things made it unfordable to put on the road legally (needed brakes, tires, exhaust, head liner was falling down and the driver's seat was broken and a few more at at +300K miles). The guys that claimed they would come get your "junker" did not want cars over 10 years old and the yards would not take them if more than 8.

I finally got rid of all the junkers but I have another one now that I SHOULD have gotten rid of back when scrap was hot. All I want to do is get rid of it. . . I was so desperate at one time I thought of turning it into a storage box or trailer. . .

Swings in the economy do weird things.
   - guru - Monday, 10/13/08 09:44:56 EDT

Vise Power: All the calculation are great, but when using calculations it must be remembered that a leg vise is also a third class lever. So the calculations for the power of the screw must be reduced by the ratio of the fulcrum to force and the fulcrum to effort lengths. The load cell is certainly the best way to go. If I was making a nice stout one hydraulic, I'd probably shoot for 2,000 pounds at the jaw. Probably need 2,500 - 3,000 pounds on the cylinder.
   - grant - Monday, 10/13/08 16:27:59 EDT

Yep, levers turning screws pushing levers. . .
   - guru - Monday, 10/13/08 19:17:40 EDT

hey logan the first think you make doesnt want to be a sword thats almost a science on its own
   - Jacob Lockhart - Monday, 10/13/08 20:02:46 EDT

Speaking of scrap steel:
The bow stem was made from steel melted down from the WTC.
   - Marc - Monday, 10/13/08 20:46:24 EDT

Hi, I have questions about forging copper.
I have been commissioned to construct a memorial tree out of mild steel for an organization in my town. Each of the three hundred leaves will be engraved with the names of the individuals who donated to the cause. In the original design I was going to forge the leaves out of mild steel, polish them, heat them to a spectrum of oxidation colors, and clear coat them.

However the committee I’m working with would like me to consider using copper to forge the 1" * 3" leaves. I know nothing about forging copper. I would like to use charcoal to heat the copper to avoid sulphur affecting the copper. From what I’ve read I think I need to forge in the 700 to 900 degree Celsius range.

# 1 Will I be able to recognize the correct forging range based on the how it looks in the forge?
# 2 I would like to forge the leaves out of 02 ground wire would this work?
Thankyou for your help.

   Dan - Tuesday, 10/14/08 09:50:54 EDT

Dan this is where the propane forge excels as you can turn it way down and watch the copper as it heats. Charcoal works but it's harder to watch it and copper is just a breath away from melting at the upper end of working temp.
I've forged silver using charcoal and a hand crank blower as you want slow even heating.

Remember that *ALL* parts of copper, (or silver), will be HOT due to the high heat conductivity---not like steel where you can have one end at welding temp and the other cool enough to hold in your bare hand!

#2 seems a little flimsy for name leaves, you could probably cut them out of sheet and get the same end thickness. But buy a foot and try it out!

How do you plan to affix them to the steel tree without setting up a corrosion cell? (Will this be indoors in a dry location?)

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/14/08 10:26:49 EDT

I looked all over anvilfire and couldent find anything about upseting, could some one tell me were to look or help me out by telling me how to turn i 3/4 inch round stock up to 1 inch round, and then how to square it to fit in hardie hole.
   sam - Tuesday, 10/14/08 10:49:50 EDT

UPSETTING: Sam, There is a bit on upsetting in some of the iForge demos. For the best we currently have see Swage Blocks . com : How-To

However, in general you do not want to do what you are trying to do. It can be done by hand but is very difficult. Generally it is best to start large and forge down. Besides upsetting to fit the hardy hole you would also need to upset even larger to create the shoulder and tool above the hole. In this size stock you are talking about sledge hammer work, preferably with several strikers. Large upsets to create mass are done in specialized machines or under power hammers.

When doing long upsetting you are breaking a lot of rules and it is plain impossible by hand. In order to do so you need short isolated heats and upset each section during a different heat. This means lots of fuel, time, oxidation and possibly bad steel when you are done.

Back when wrought was the common material and small pieces were also common the way mass was made was by building with welding. A bundle of pieces was forged into a large mass. For strength, if it needed a shank it was then forged down. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/14/08 11:17:45 EDT

Copper Project: Dan, First, tell the Committee the price just increased 10:1. Not only is the material more expensive but so is finishing and assembly time. As Thomas noted the whole should be copper. The leaf dimension you state would be less than paper thin forged out 1" wide.

You might want to consider a red bronze and using a mixture of forged and cast components braze welded together. OR if a color match is not necessary then brass and copper. . .

As Thomas noted you should consider leaves from flat stock. Blanks could be cut by LASER, formed and worked mostly cold, then attached to heavier bar. A good shape for leaves from flat has a wide flat stem that is rolled up to make mass and then welded to a bar.

Remember when working with copper that it will always be much softer and weaker than steel AND it is much more dense thus heavier for the same size. This means that a design that would work in steel may sag or bend too easily in copper. This means parts need to thicker, not thinner.

Copper is wonderful to work but has different problems than steel. Among them is that it is toxic. Any time you are doing any finishing work you should wear gloves and a respirator. Ingesting or inhaling copper dust can make you quite ill and have long lasting effects.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/14/08 11:36:31 EDT

Greetings from Finland.

A Finnish blacksmith friend and I are discussing building a gas forge. I have, in the past, built two venturi forges (ala Ron Reil & Larry Zoeller burners) with some success using the standard B-B-Q Grill 5 gallon propane tanks back in the Stats. However, I believe that the
grill tanks here in Helsinki are natural gas. I'm confident we will be able to figure out a way to connect my U.S. rig to the tank. But I wonder about
how the forge will work with natural gas.

Would a forge built for propane work with natural gas? If not, what modifications or considerations should we have? Specifically regarding the actual burner and forge.

Thanks for your help!
Rob Dobbs

   Rob Dobbs - Tuesday, 10/14/08 13:04:46 EDT

Stainless Steel: What is the best SS to forge? I have some SS concrete form ties that make it seem harder than it should be.
Diagonal Pein hammer. It matters how you forge. If you stand behind your work they will get your hand at a 45 degree angle from your work. If you forge parallel to your anvil they won't work. I watched Doug Merkel demonstrate and bought one of his hammers. I'llnever go back. The face is square , use well rounded edge to draw out. Well rounded straight pien to spread. This is the Hoffi method.
   Steve Paullin - Tuesday, 10/14/08 14:52:19 EDT

Hey There.
I'm volunteering at Fort Worth's Log Cabin Village and I asked to be stationed in the forge, because I really want to learn to blacksmith. However, I have to figure out what exactly a woman blacksmith would wear in the late 1800s of Texas. I'm not sure any women would actually blacksmith then, but can you give me some sort of idea of what would be time appropriate?
   Kimberly - Tuesday, 10/14/08 15:37:50 EDT

Rob Dobbs: First, if it comes in a tank, it ain't NG. They DO NOT put natural gas in tanks for consumers. Natural gas is stored under very high pressure in very special tanks. What you're getting there may be identified as LPG or even butane which for all practical purposes is the same as propane.

Although it's moot now for this case, natural gas can be used in most BLOWN gas forges. It usually requires larger gas lines due to it's lower pressure and heat value.
   - grant - Tuesday, 10/14/08 15:47:35 EDT

Thank you for the information on forging copper. I think I will use flat sheet as you suggested. Thomas asked me how I planned to affix copper leaves to a steel tree without setting up a corrosion cell?

I was hoping to drill holes in the steel tree inject epoxy into the hole and then insert the copper leaf. The whole project will be indoors in a dry place. Will corrosion still be a problem?
   Dan - Tuesday, 10/14/08 15:53:23 EDT

Steve Paullin: Stainless is no different than carbon steel inthat you choose the steel for the application. If all you need is non-corrosion then 300 series is usually chosen. At a nice yellow it's about like forging dull red mild steel. After forging it should be heated to a nice orange-yellow and quenched in water to anneal it and restore it's stainless properties.
   - grant - Tuesday, 10/14/08 15:55:23 EDT

Actualy compressed natural gas is available in tanks. It is a far safer gas than propane for certain uses, as it floats in air as oposed to propane, which sinks in air. The difference between propane and natural gas is that you will need a larger orifice in the burner, and as Grant notes, a larger supply line. Any good welding supplier in the states should sell compressed natural gas in consumer sized tanks.
   John F. Christiansen - Tuesday, 10/14/08 16:02:19 EDT

Kinberly; what type of presentation are you going for?
A "Calamity Jane" would wear men's clothing, ditto the hat and may smoke cigars or chew tobacco. A more socialized lady smith may work in ladies work clothes with a good leather apron.

I'd ask the local historical society with help researching any lady smiths from that period; most period writings will mention what they are wearing.

Probably the most important thing is to make sure your clothes are FIRE RESISTANT!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/14/08 16:30:08 EDT

Grant: John C is correct. CNG has been marketed as the saest fuel for marine stove appliatons for years. CHeck out http://www.safgas.com/index.php?action=website-view-category&WebSiteID=470&CategoryID=1312
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 10/14/08 16:46:09 EDT

Women Smiths: In Great Britain in the late 1800's and early 1900's they had a large number of female chainmakers. They wore they typical working woman's clothing the same as a house maid. Usually a heavy dress with full skirt and an cloth (cotton) apron to protect the dress. Richard Postman (Author of Anvils in America) has copies of a book on English chainmaking and it a lot of information on woman in the chainmaking business. They were some of the first workers to organize for better pay, and women asking for equal pay.

In the photos their dresses look very much like the maids uniforms worn in "My Fair Lady". Including the subtle frills.

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/14/08 18:34:00 EDT

Pushing copper around.

For leaf work, Dan might consider working annealed copper at room temperature. After hammering on it a while, it may work harden beyond recovery (get a crack). Before that
happens, you should anneal by heating to a uniform red heat and plunging in water. Practice on a scrap piece to see how much hammering it will stand.

Beware of beryllium copper alloy if you do any grinding or sanding. You don't want to breathe any of that. You probably wouldn't purchase beryllium copper anyway, but if it's from a scrap yard, you never know. Heating copper is OK in a well ventilated area.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/14/08 19:22:35 EDT

John and Peter: Thank you! Although the tanks are quite expensive ($157.00 for a 2.5 Gallon) it is quite viable and may well be what Rob was refering to. Sorry Rob! Damn, my eraser won't work on this site. Guess it's been way to long since I read anything on the subject.
   - grant - Tuesday, 10/14/08 19:24:33 EDT

I didn't know about consumer CNG before, either. Although I *have* read about the pumps you can buy to fuel you CNG vehicle from a residential NG line, so I guess I should have figured it out. Propane doesn't have much vapor pressure below -10 or -15 C, so maybe it isn't a fuel of choice in Finland.

In any event, a CNG cylinder would have more than enough pressure to run an atmospheric forge. You'd just need to get the right orifice size (and an appropriate regulator).
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 10/14/08 20:25:20 EDT

Guru is being modest: He does a fine review of Chainmaking in the Black Country by Ron Moss on this site: http://www.anvilfire.com/bookrev/moss/review.htm
Also google Black Country to find more on this fascinating bit o' history.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 10/14/08 21:20:52 EDT

CNG cylinders: I used these on My boat from '87-2000. They were about the size of a steel scuba tank [72 CuFt] and were presurized to 2200#. The heat energy is about equal to 6# of propane. When I started using these they cost $17 to exchange for a full one, when I finally converted to propane the cost had risen to $42 each. At that time the same heat value in propane cost less than $3.

I was not able to get CNG from any of the local welding supply shops.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 10/14/08 22:03:14 EDT

Kimberly: I've been reading a lot of western novels. Apparently Levi-type bluejeans and denin and flannel shirts were readily available in the late 1800s.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 10/14/08 22:08:14 EDT

My new 7-inch urethane-tired aluminum drive wheel for my Square Wheel belt grinder arrived today. The sleeve is a smidgeon too small to fit onto the 5/8-inch shaft coming off the motor.
This same outfit undersized the hole on the 8-inch contact wheel I bought from them a while back, too-- I think they must be outsourcing their work to metric shops offshore or something-- but I was able to deal with that by slimming down the axle a wee bit.
I don't want to screw around with this.
Question for you machinists out there: Do you think they can drill it out to the proper size or will the keyway throw the bit off center and mess up the balance, so I should ask for a whole new wheel?
I'd never be able to tell whether the gave me a new one or just drilled out the old one, so it's moot, I guess.
Also, I assumed they'd put a set screw into the wheel, but that must be a special order feature, so I gotta ask them to do that, if they can-- don't see how, because the wheel is a big 2-inch-thick disk of aluminum.
Question: think back-fitting a set screw into one side of the wheel is somehow possible, despite it being flush all the way to the sleeve? Or should I look into those magical new epoxies that are said to hold airplanes together nowadays?
Life in the half-fast lane.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/14/08 22:13:15 EDT

Natural vs. propane-- My jewelry-maker sister-in-law gave me her little classic Hoke torch, which is clearly marked for natural gas and oxygen. I posted a query on Ganoksin asking if I could use it with propane and jewelers all over the world said yes. The people then making Hoke, however, said no way, too dangerous. Well, I've used it off and on for several years now, whenever I need more heat than I can get out of the Prestolite, with no safety problems manifesting themselves, but it is obviously jetted wrong, or something, seems to need to be run much lower than I would use propane or I get a big fluffy flame.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/14/08 22:23:16 EDT

Time for me to hunker down.

Hurricane Omar has us dead center in its sights, with landfall predicted for sometime around midnight tomorrow. I may drop offline for anywhere from a couple to several days, depending on the severity of the storm and the extent of damage, if any. Still no home phone or internet, so things may be a bit sketchy for a while. Y'all play nice while I'm playing with Omar, okay? :-)


   vicopper - Tuesday, 10/14/08 22:32:01 EDT

Wheel Questions: Miles, As you summized boring out the wheel with a keyway in it will be tricky. This requires a very rigid machine and a short cutter. It could be reamed fairly easily with a half key made of the wheel material in the keyway. The keyway will also possibly need to be broached again. . . It is not a normal operation, its repair work.

The right way to do this is to dress the wheel on a precision arbor after re-boring.

No setscrew is necessary as the wheel is supposed to be clamped between two flange washers by the spindle nut. A setscrew hole would cause more problems (balance) than it would solve.

Are you sure the undersize is not just a few thou for a press fit?

   - guru - Tuesday, 10/14/08 23:13:03 EDT

Rich, Good luck with the weather. Keep your head down.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/14/08 23:16:00 EDT

Jock-- Many thanks for your expertise. Dunno re: press fit. Maybe. If so, it's gonna be one helluva press. I can't find my fine-grain caliper, but this looks as if it is at least a good 32nd under. The factory original (at least, I assume it's the original) 10-inch wheel has not one but two set screws. Motor shaft, original, has no finial fittings of any sort.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/14/08 23:34:51 EDT

I would suggest that in Finland there is a great deal of difference between propane and butane. As the temperature drops just see the difference between the two just in trying to get them to come out of the bottle!
   philip in china - Wednesday, 10/15/08 01:24:33 EDT

Thanks all for the info.
   Rob Dobbs - Wednesday, 10/15/08 01:31:32 EDT

Rob Dobbs - Here in Sweden all tanks contain Propane or a Propane/Butane mix, I really cant see why Finland would chose another fuel than that.. Butane in a cold environment is not fun at all.
Propane can deliver gas down to about -40°C, butane stops at 0°C
   - SCB - Wednesday, 10/15/08 01:43:19 EDT

Dave Boyer, yes, cng is expensive, however, once you have seen a vessel explode and sink in the harbor, it seems kind of reasonable. I am sure that at a minimun, your propane tanks are on the deck, that just leaves your fuel lines and apliance to leak heavier than air propane to the low recesses of your vessel. Here in New England propane on a boat is an absolute not, except for small completely above deck systems. Also, I don't think insurence would pay for a propane related explosion.
   John F. Christiansen - Wednesday, 10/15/08 07:41:35 EDT

Being located on the Russian border, Finland may have access to a nat gas pipeline that Sweden does not. If so, CNG could be significantly cheaper than propane. That is a huge part of the reason that the taxis in Calgary and Edmunton run on CNG rather than propane. The compression and delivery technology for CNG is a lot more expensive than propane, but the commodity itself a lot more plentiful and therefor cheaper. Raw natural gas at the well head (the industry term is "guts, feathers and all") is mostly methane, with a few percent of ethane, propane, butane, gasolene etc on up the scale. Finished, or processed nat gas, which is what you buy when you get CNG, has all those other things stripped out, so its almost pure methane, the lightest and therefor most difficult to compress of all the components. But where the tradeoff between delivery system costs and commodity costs is right, CNG can be cheaper at the burnertip. And it flows just fine way below -40C.
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 10/15/08 08:04:00 EDT

Good luck Rich, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you...
   MacFly - Wednesday, 10/15/08 09:24:19 EDT

I've been etch testing different metals to check for contrast when patternwelding and I have a question. When using the good steel strapping, how dark will it etch? I have tried two different samples of steel strapping, both construction grade used for strapping bricks and block, and neither of them etch very dark. Is there strapping that will etch as dark as high carbon tool steel, or will it only etch light gray? I know my etchant is good because it will turn a piece of tool steel jet black in about 15 minutes. Any help would be appriciated.
   - Jesse - Wednesday, 10/15/08 12:09:42 EDT

Kimberly, I can't speak about smithing and how a woman might dress in the late 1800's, but in the military it was not uncommon through the Civil War to have women adpt men's dress and fight as men. If I remember correctly, there was a PBS show recently regarding women soldiers in the Civil War.

Some fairly well documented cases exist for the Revolution and French and Indian War time frames, but those are 18th century.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 10/15/08 12:16:06 EDT

Jesse what are you using to etch? HNO3, HCL, FeCl, Vinegar, Lime Juice, Tannic Acid, ??? They make a difference in how things colour.

I use BSB with PS and it tends to etch bright silver due to the nickle content so the PS is the dark lines.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/15/08 12:23:49 EDT

Thank you all for the good wishes. The preparation is all done, so the rest is up to the Fates, I guess.

Talk to you after it's all over.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 10/15/08 15:16:36 EDT

when is the next abana meeting that they would have anvil tailgaters.
   - sam - Wednesday, 10/15/08 16:59:39 EDT

Philip: Yeah, that's what I get for living in a temperate climate! Hey, 0 celius is 32F! That would be a bitch.
   - grant - Wednesday, 10/15/08 17:06:04 EDT

With regard to butane, I was only thinking of how it performs in a forge. That high vapor temp would probably mean the bottle would freeze up a lot quicker.
   - grant - Wednesday, 10/15/08 17:09:39 EDT

drive wheel bore too small:
Miles, Don't try to drill or ream a hole with a keyway cut in it. Either tool will catch in the keyway and either break or throw the part. If you had a reamer that had helical flutes on it you might get away with it but it would be risky.
If it's a matter of a couple of thousands (.001-.002) you could use a "flapper"
If you have a die grinder with a 1/4 collet take a piece of 1/4 1018 rod about 1" longer than you need it and cut a slit in the end of it about 3/4 long with a hack saw, slide a piece of emery paper into the slit (it needs to fit tight and be of equal length ) roll up the emery around the shank and insert into the hole befor cracking the throttle on the die grinder.
Work the flapper back and forth in the hole as if honeing a cylinder.
This WILL round over the edge of the keyway a little bit so be carefull.
Use something fine like 80 or 120 grit and, it should only take a couple of seconds at a time.
Should probably practice on something else first...
Other options are to have it bored on a lathe or send it back.
   - merl - Wednesday, 10/15/08 17:40:51 EDT

Miles, I am with Merl. Only home solution with what you have available is a flapper. I have used hose many times. You can use a drill press as well. Runs slower so less agressive. ONLY hand tighten the chuck so it can act as a slip clutch. Every home shop should have a selection of flappers:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/15/08 17:46:41 EDT

Rich, good luck and take care.
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/15/08 17:47:23 EDT

Mcfly, Get that big Fisher up those stairs? :)
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/15/08 17:47:49 EDT

I bored/reamed out the muti-rib pulley for my cheap bandsaw from metric-something to 5/8". This is so it would fit the gear motor I retrofitted to slow the saw down for steel.

I chucked a cylindrical carbide burr in my drill press and rotated the pulley against a simple v-shaped fence on the table. Worked well enough, but not perfectly. You'd probably need a tighter drill press and more care than I used to keep from getting too much wobble in 7" wheel.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 10/15/08 18:07:01 EDT

Rich-- Vaya con Dios! Wheel problem-- merl, Jeff, Mike BR, many thank!! I have already bosed it up and put it in transit to back from whence it came. Man there swears they have "zero tolerance," in their shop but every measuring device I have says it's a smidge undersized-- same as the contact wheel was that they sent a few months back with a Chinese bearing. I strongly suspect the wheel and I are victims of the metric system.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/15/08 19:15:07 EDT

Miles I suspect you have come to the root cause:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/15/08 19:16:28 EDT

Tailgating, ABANA and Anvils: Sam, First, ABANA only holds a convention every two years and skipped this year. Next will be June/July 2010 in Memphis TN. Tailgaters always show but ABANA's high fees have driven most away so that THE BIG show is SOFA'a annual Quadstate Roundup.

Local blacksmithing chapters and regional groups are much different. You missed the BIG SOFA show for this year in Troy Ohio a couple weeks ago (see the current edition of the NEWS). All the local chapters usually have monthly meetings and quite a few have tailgaters at their meetings. Find your local GROUPS (see ABANA-Chapter.com or ABANA.org). Most local groups have a web site that MAY be up to date.

Next spring (May 2009) the Southern Blacksmith Association, Inc. will have their conference in Madison, GA. The tailgating is not as good as SOFA but its pretty good.

There are other regional groups and some state meetings are pretty good. Depending on where you are and how far you are willing to travel you could go to a meeting every weekend.

   - guru - Wednesday, 10/15/08 19:36:11 EDT

Hole with Keyway: Note that I mentioned FILLING the keyway. It works. It takes a piece a little over half thick. I would make it a rasberry fit on the sides so it would not come out and then file it to match the holes radius (you might want to glue the piece in). Boring would still not be like a clean hole but it would not grab and walk to the key side. A reamer in a good spindle would make a perfect hole. Then the key filler would need to be knocked out and the keyway broached to the correct depth if necessary.

In steel I might tack weld the key filler in.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/15/08 19:42:29 EDT

Sam; many abana-chapters have their own conferences, (SWABA's is in Feb in Las Cruces NM) and most if not all of them will have tailgating. Not knowing where you are at though makes it difficult to suggest one.

But the Salt Fork one is coming up *FAST* in OK---this weekend in fact saltforkcraftsmen.org should get you a lot of info. Good people and a well respected conference; I'd be there save for it being so close to Quad-State and having a local event I'm demo'ing at.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/15/08 20:26:37 EDT

. . there ya go. . anvils galore..
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/15/08 21:21:49 EDT

Thank you for maintaining this site. I've been blacksmithing as a hobby for about 7 or 8 years, I'm 49 live in Missouri, U.S.A. I have an issue with my post vice, I see a crack starting in one of the jaws. The vise has no markings that I've seen, it's much heavier than most i've seen (maybe about 6" jaw capacity). My question is, can it be welded, if it can, should i pre-heat it, what kind of rod should I use? Thanks
   George F. - Wednesday, 10/15/08 21:25:24 EDT

John F Christiansen: Propane or butane is THE MOST COMMON galley fuel in sailboats the world over, even in New England and used in power boats that don't have a generator. Vessels inspected by the USCG to cary passengers for hire excepted. CNG is extremely hard to find in most parts of the world, and not too common in the US. Insurance companies Don't charge or cover diferently for propane equipped boats, however they do require overboard vented propane lockers, selenoid valves to shut off gas when not being used and instalation to ABYC standards. Often a propane detector in the bilge is required. Propane in a boat offers less danger than a gasoline engine, and altho no longer used in sail boats, they are pretty common in motor boats and cabin cruisers.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 10/15/08 22:39:40 EDT

Jock-- thanks again-- a braver man than I would try it, but I said to hell with it and mailed it back for the company to mess with. If I screwed it up I'd be out a wheel and about $80. This way I am out postage and whatever they have the unconscionable nerve to charge me for-- reboring, maybe, angling in the set screw maybe.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/15/08 22:45:28 EDT

Has anybody ever had to make a bracket to hang a punch bag? I have to make 5 for a series of bags. Will get the dimensions and weights and post again. Any help or advice would be appreciated. If I get it wrong and he gets mad.....
   philip in china - Thursday, 10/16/08 04:07:40 EDT

....then Phillip will be the next punching bag?
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 10/16/08 07:43:23 EDT

Dave Boyer, sorry to ruffle your feathers, but everything I said still stands. There is simply nothing to debate. I have seen the results of propane and it is far less than pretty. I come from a seafaring family (we still own our own dock in Norway) have personaly survived two shipwrecks, and know for a fact that, at sea, the best still isn't good enough. My brother is at this moment sailing his 39'Hunter somewhere way south of here, having left Nantucket several weeks ago, and he somehow manages to fill his CNG tanks. My mantra with regards to seafaring is "leave nothing to chance".
   John F. Christiansen - Thursday, 10/16/08 08:19:59 EDT

I've seen the results of natural gas blowing up houses and it's not pretty either and I've come closer than I'd like to blowout conditions while drilling a gas well. Don't see how this affects the question though.

I know that in many places where I've lived the Gas company trucks were run off of CNG.

Probably a world wide list of places that sell it; just like there is for some of the new gasoline alternatives; but where I live propane is available in about a dozen places and CNG is an 80-100 miles drive.

Course water enough to float a boat is about that far away too.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/16/08 10:22:54 EDT

About the dangers of propane.

The only deaths that have occured in a steam powered car, excepting those of wrecks, occured when the original firing system, basicially a giant bunsen type burner under the vertical fire tube boiler, where the liquid fuel is sent through a tube above the fire to vaporize it and then it is burned as a gas in the burner, was replaced with a propane tank in lue of the 2 pint pressurized liquid fuel tank and pump.

The propane tank leaked into the open top cab and when some one in the back seat went to light a smoke the gas caught and the husband and wife who were in the front of the car were burned to death. The others were burned very badly but made it away with their lives.

The greatest irony is that when most people here the words steam car, they think about boiler explosions killing them, when this has never happened with around 30,000 - 40,000 steam cars having been made, most of them between 1895 and 1928, only about 150 - 300 of them extant.

Propane is not safe.
   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 10/16/08 10:56:44 EDT

Didn't the world-renowned blacksmith artist Albert Paley get severely burnt when his propane bottle tipped and leaked next to him, then ignited while he was up in a cherry-picker basket working? Propane's proclivity for lingering is howcum the lines from the tank are required to surface before entering a building, etc.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/16/08 11:11:47 EDT

O.K., ya got me started now. There is a large nationwide marine insurance underwriter, that in addition to publishing a boating magazine, sells boat do-dads in said magazine. Some of the things they sell are pipe fittings, thru-hull fittings and valves for use in bilge de-watering. These fittings are made from yellow brass. Any metalurgists here care to expain what happens to yellow brass when exposed to seawater? And no they are not bronze, don't even go there. So your insurance company aproves of propane? Means less than nothing to me. Lets not start on the Coast Guard, as I have stories to relate about them as well, but not here.
   John F. Christiansen - Thursday, 10/16/08 12:05:42 EDT

Actualy, one quick Coastie story as it is metal related. So I build an aluminum fuel tank for a boat. I call the C.G. to inspect and stamp the tank. The "team" shows up. Some of the questions they asked included, What kind of metal is that? I didn't know you could weld that. How do you weld that? How much head pressure is that pipe putting into the tank?(11'4" high pipe, coupled to the top of the tank and filled with water). I could relate these types of storys for hours after dealing with these guys for the last 30 plus years. And to all those offended by this tale, I was a merchant officer of the Coast Guard.
   John F. Christiansen - Thursday, 10/16/08 12:15:52 EDT

Yellow brass will de-zincify in salt water unless it has been alloyed with Tin or other metals to retard dezincification. Brasses thus alloyed are referred to as Admiralty Metal.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 10/16/08 12:22:23 EDT

   John F. Christiansen - Thursday, 10/16/08 13:28:04 EDT

And the number of folks killed by Gasoline? Gasoline is not safe either.

BTW you know that there has been *no* documented deaths off folks in cars converted to run on sunlight? Or cars with purple and sping strips and dyed zebra skin interiors. Statistics as a frail reed.

Insurance companies are much happier with stuff they know than with better stuff that they don't know, they love statistics!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/16/08 15:04:32 EDT

Anyone see the Discovery channels series "When Explosions Go Wrong"? The bleve's they show are horrifying. Leads me to question "When do Explosions go Right?"
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 10/16/08 15:17:35 EDT

TGN, *all* the time just west of where I'm at! They are making industrial diamonds with explosives, art with explosives, welding dissimular metals with explosives, we hear a half dozen go off during a typical week---DuPont's ghost must be weeping with delight!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/16/08 16:37:21 EDT

ptree- Haha, no, I haven't tried the stairs just yet. I managed to sneak it into work though, I've been cleaning it up when I have a bit of free time. I did build my forge though... So once I find a spot and figure out how to make my lil' monster a bit more portable, I'll be in business!
   MacFly - Thursday, 10/16/08 17:17:28 EDT

Guru, you're right, filling the keyway in with a piece of sacrificial key stock would work well but, I would be concerned with someone boring the hole off location and no longer concentric with the belt driving surface.
Even a little bit out of concentricity will cause the wheel to "thump" and run out of balance.
I recomended the flapper first because it has to follow the exsiting hole.
BTW I'm writing a "haunted anvil" story that may be done for Halloween. May I post it to the story page?
   - merl - Thursday, 10/16/08 17:19:12 EDT

Merl, mail it to me and we will post it. That reminds me that I have a couple pieces from Master Turley I need to post. . .

Anyone need a truck crane? Nice self contained Swedish machine that will pick up 4 ton in close and 2 ton stretched to its 16 foot max. Folds up behind the cab in about a 2 foot space 8 foot wide. Has its own engine and an electric remote.

I bought it in a soft moment. . . just brought it home and I REALLY don't want to take it off the truck. Will dig out specs and link to PDF manual. $3,000 OBO.

   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/08 17:51:52 EDT

Ok This may sound like a weird question, Buuuutttt since i'm a smith on a real tight budget.............Can the flux coating on welding rods be used as flux in forge welding? (used rods I can find at work for free).
   - Bennie Lovejoy - Thursday, 10/16/08 19:42:10 EDT

A friend of mine has a very large anvil and I am wondering what it is worth. It is 7.5" across the face and around 40" long from horn to tail. I estimate the weight to be between 600# and 800#. It looks to be a good solid steel anvil.
   Jay wilhite - Thursday, 10/16/08 19:51:16 EDT

Bennie: I would suspect not. The flux on welding rods has a high surface tension so it stays on the weld bead. Forge welding fluxes are usually very fluid in order to run into tight cracks and such. That being said: it sure won't hurt to try. I think they probably have too high a melting temperature also. They are made to cover molten steel (2500F +).
   - grant - Thursday, 10/16/08 20:25:09 EDT

Johgn F Christiansen: I live aboard cruised My Kaufman& Ladd 43 for 12 years. I carried 4 of the cylinders due to NOT being able to get refills, particularly when out of the country. Truth of the matter is that I NEVER used the CNG oven and used the stove burners sparingly. I have good generating capacity and relied on an inverter to drive a combination microwave toaster oven, an electric fry pan and an electric cooker/deep fryer. If Your brother wants to buy 2 more CNG cylinders I will sell the 2 I have left for 1/2 the price they cost at a chandlry. I wish Your brother good luck in finding places to exchange CNG tanks, I don't think there are any in the Bahamas. These tanks can only be exchanged at a dealer who holds a franchise for this product. The propane stove I installed in My boat was actually from a Hunter 46, they upgraded to a nicer one. While I havn't survived 2 shipwecks I did get hit by a shrimp trawler once.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 10/16/08 20:48:47 EDT

John F Christiansen: sorry about misspelling Your name in the above post. There are 2 places in St Thomas USVI that are Safgas exchanges, but they are the ONLY ones outside the US.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 10/16/08 21:00:39 EDT

Welding rod flux: It is mostly comprised of CO2 producers and slag formers, not much of the ingredients are actually "flux" in the sense of breaking down oxides. You can get a box of 20 mule team borax for about $4, it will last quite a while. How tight is Your budget?
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 10/16/08 21:07:10 EDT

No problem Dave, sorry about the rant, I just feel it is important to spread the word about potential pitfalls.
   John Christiansen - Thursday, 10/16/08 21:39:04 EDT

Gas in boats: Well it seems like many boats (especially sail) are damn near as tight topside as bottom. So even a gas that rises "can" collect to explosive potential. Probably somewhat less likely though if any vents are open. Many a power boat has ignited from the fans meant to scavenge fumes from the engine room and bilges being turned on right after fueling. Ive only had diesel (engine and stove). Needed two tank, as the stove used a different diesel than the engine. Well, I had a coal stove in one boat, hard coal sure gives a lot of heat and burns a long time. Lot less condensation with coal or oil stoves too. I hate propane in an enclosed space.
   - grant - Thursday, 10/16/08 21:52:55 EDT

There is a fair bit of discussion on RR spikes. What type of steel is/was used for those other pieces occasionally found along the RR tracks? Those plates between the tie and rail, the rail connecting pieces and bolts, those "J" shaped pieces, and those odd shaped clips with roughly an inch square cross section.
   Mr. Metal - Thursday, 10/16/08 22:10:32 EDT

Welding Rod Flux: Welll. . . As Grant noted there are some differences in the active ingredients but most MSDS list borax and boric acid same as in canned flues. I suspect that a fine sand is used for thickener. Fluxes for stainless and alloys contain Flourite (98% CaF2) a more aggressive oxidizer.

As Dave Boyer pointed out a LOT of the coating is a smoke producer (cellulose). The smoke helps stabilize the arc. It also contains CO2 which helps shield the weld.

THEN. . it also contains (depending on the rod) manganese, powdered iron and other ingredients used to produce the necessary weld chemistry. All welding rods except special alloys (stainless, nickle . . .) are the same steel and the flux coating controls the final weld chemistry.

The smoke and CO2 producers may actually inhibit a good forge weld and the chemistry modifiers will make the weld zone a different alloy than the surrounding metal. Neither good.

So, unless you are REALLY desperate I would not try to use this material for forge welding.

As noted, borax is pretty cheap unless you are picky and want anhydrous borax and even that is not very expensive. A little flux goes a LONG way unless you are doing laminated steel billets and then the cost of the borax is nothing compared to the steels and labor.

If you want to make your own flux start with 20 Mule Team Borax and dehydrate it. Add about 50% boric acid and grind the two materials together. If you can find a cheap source or finagle some from a potter add about 4% flourite powder.

To make the equivalent to "E-Z Weld" add 20% iron powder or iron turnings (such as from brake drum machining to the above mixture.

Note that buying flux is generally cheaper than making it.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/08 22:36:35 EDT

Mr. Metal, Not much to discuss. RR Spikes are low carbon to medium low carbon (.12% and .3% carbon). Rail runs as high as .75% carbon but much is less. Those other parts tend to be in the .40% carbon range. None are particularly special. Junkyard Steel rules apply.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/16/08 22:52:19 EDT

Recent posts on "coloring" metal did not include to the best of my knowledge, Titanium Nitride vapor deposited coating. I recently picked up a Magnum brand Rainbow folder (made in China for Boker). The blade and side plates are supposedly 440 stainless with a TiN coating that gives it a rainbow effect of colors from yellow, to green, blue, and purple. It is a cheap knife but very colorful.
   - Bob Johnson - Thursday, 10/16/08 23:03:36 EDT

Someone was telling me at a SWABA demo down at Bosque del Apache last year that those U-shaped RR track hoodgies are pretty good high carbon. Have some, never tried to verify, however.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 10/16/08 23:21:51 EDT

Hello, Can just plain silica sand (river bed, or beach sand) be used as a forge welding flux? What did blacksmiths historically use? They coudn't just go to the store and by 20 Mule Team Borax.
   - John L. - Thursday, 10/16/08 23:53:38 EDT

Cna anyone give me Kiwi Hooper's email address? I want to ask him how the user-built power hammer is working for him there in New Zealand. Thanks
   - Mike S - Friday, 10/17/08 07:47:26 EDT

Bull Hammer Mike, His hammer was experimental. The "anvil" just a piece of pipe. It was played with a little but I believe is just collecting dust at this point. After his legal troubles ended he spent most of his time trying to earn a living. After he got things on an even keel his interests changed and now he is into 4-wheeling (has a Jeep Wagoneer in NZ).

Many of the Bull hammers it was based on are still running.
   - guru - Friday, 10/17/08 08:09:49 EDT

Flux Historically: For wrought iron no flux was necessary as the silica slag made it self fluxing. For steel to wrough no flux was used either. For steel to steel various coverings were used. Clays were common depending on what was locally available. Mud daubers nests is a nice purified clay even if you cannot find a clay bank. Borax IS found in large deposits in numerous places in the world and has been traded as a kind of "salt" for millenia. But I do not know about its use a flux.

Sands are not all created equally and many, especially river and beach sand are mixes of minerals that may or may not work as a flux. There are as many sands as their are types of rock and minerals and many do not make a good flux.

Using flux is more of a modern technique applicable to steels. However, many smiths still weld without flux.
   - guru - Friday, 10/17/08 08:22:18 EDT

Thanks Guru!
I love that compact design. What is your opinion on the slide and it's connection point? It seems like there might be less drag if the piston connected at the top of the ram guide instead of the bottom. Thanks a lot!
   - mike s - Friday, 10/17/08 10:01:31 EDT

Mike, I liked this design a lot for the same reason, compactness. I've tried to talk Tom into bringing it back.

This machine had some design and manufacturing issues. The guide system was difficult to make and the bearing plates would often come loose and wreck themselves. There were also issues with getting good straight tubing for the guide column. I think the problems could have been fixed.

I've played with a design where the ram column moves with the ram. When down the whole is VERY short. Guides were attached to the back of the anvil and the cylinder was in-line with the guide tube. The trick is getting the air-line into the tube OR not having to telescope the parts inside each other.
   - guru - Friday, 10/17/08 10:47:18 EDT

Does anyone know the formula for microcrystaline wax?
   steve stokes - Friday, 10/17/08 12:05:27 EDT

RR Steel: lets open up my rr steel file again and mine a bit out of it:

The "J" shaped clips: From Matt B on Anvilfire 08/08/2007 12:10:21 EDT
"The current standard for rail anchors is 1040-1060 steel, depending upon manufacturer."

Arema (The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association) 2007 document, Part 2 "manufact
ure of Rail"

Standard rail steel:
.74 to.86% Carbon,
.75 to 1.25% Manganese,
.10 to .60% Silicon
Minimum Brinell (of unhardened surface) 310 or 370 dependant of grade ordered.

Low Alloy Rail Steel
.72 to .82% Carbon,
.80 to 1.10% Manganese,
.25 to .40& Chromium,
.10 to .50% Silicon

From: `Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practice'
Seventh Edition, 1925
Compiled and Edited for the American Railway Association ? Division V, Mechanical
Published & printed by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Co., NY. NY.

Coupler Knuckle Pivot Pins
A.R.A. Standard Adopted 1917; Revised 1924

1. Process: The Steel shall be made by the open hearth process.

3. Chemical Composition: The steel shall conform to the following requirements as to chemical composition:
Carbon 0.55-0.70%
Manganese, not over 0.60%
Phosphorus, Not over 0.05%
Sulphur, not over 0.05%

Now I don't have a *good* citing for fishplates yet; not something that some one heard once but direct information on composition. (Matt called and talked with a manufacturer for example)

Bob if you are going to include plating of metal, (like Titanium Nitride vapor deposition), then there are a whole lot of other "colourations" one can get!

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/17/08 12:13:09 EDT

I have a random question. how would you go about building a power hammer. i dont plan to make it right now or maby at all, but i am trying to expand my knowledge about mechanics. ive herad people making them before but dont know what kind of knlowedge i would need. i know some wireing and gear/belt mechanics.
   sam - Friday, 10/17/08 14:27:12 EDT

Microcrystalline wax: like most waxes is a family of organic compounds. In this case it is the refined residium from producing paraffin. Where paraffin has long chain molecules that slip microcrystalline was has a short branching molecule.

SEE www.microcrystallinewax.net
   - guru - Friday, 10/17/08 14:42:18 EDT

How to Build a Power Hammer: First obtain all the necessary materials and parts. Cut up about 1500 to 2500 pounds (700 to 1200 kg) of steel into various lengths. Drill 30 to 120 holes ranging from .3125" to 1.5" (10 to 30 mm). Use up 20 to 50 pounds (10 to 25 kg) of welding rod or wire to create sub assemblies. Machine pulleys, shafts and guide parts as necessary. Assemble, adjust, test, clean, paint, install properly, run. . .

   - guru - Friday, 10/17/08 14:53:11 EDT

Guru, you've got it wrong; *first* carve the positives for the foundry to make the molds from and then have several thousand pounds of cast iron cast. Have the castings cleaned and machined and then...

Or *first* build the dam for the mill pond and put in the water wheel and....

Sam perhaps you can narrow your question down as to what type of powerhammer you wish to build? I would commend to your attention the "tire hammer" as being a commonly home built hammer that works quite well with detailed plans avalable.

Jay Wilhite, I have a car that's pretty large; it's a 4 door can you tell me how much it's worth? Just like a car to get a reasonable answer on what an anvil is worth you need to know make (brand), model (style), milage (condition), location (location can change the value by a factor of 2!), etc.

Now if you can post the details we can then zoom in on what it might be worth. Lots of people here can help you figure out the details too; like look for a serial number on the front foot under the horn, is the heel real thick or thin and tapered, and of course any markings on the sides. These things can help us figure out if it's a cadillac or a yugo.

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/17/08 15:22:32 EDT

Is there anyone in Saint Marys GA that is willing to teach a 17 year old kid looking for a hobby
   wowfanmike - Friday, 10/17/08 16:50:47 EDT

What's the smallest available power hammer design? Howz that for a loaded question?

Seriously, my ceiling height is less than 8 ft. I think... here's a pic of my shop in case you forgot what it looks like:
   - Nippulini - Friday, 10/17/08 18:25:56 EDT

TGN the smallest working hammer I have seen was on top of PTree's hat at Quad-State.

The KA powerhammer stands about under 5' high IIRC and many old fashioned helve hammers don't stand very tall.

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/17/08 18:48:01 EDT

TGN, made a trip to the smithy to measure my 25lb Jardine for you. It's 65 inches at it's highest.
   JimG - Friday, 10/17/08 19:06:56 EDT

Yep, The late model Little Giant 25# is even shorter at an even 5 feet I think. The small Chinese self contained hammers are REALLY short and if installed directly on the floor you would have to sit on the floor or stand in a pit to use it. . .

The tire hammers tend to be about 10" taller than they would otherwise if they did not use a tire clutch. All the Dupont linkage mechanicals tend to be taller than others.

The rocker spring helve hammers are very short as all the works are low on the frame or base.

All standard or inline air hammers are quite tall.

   - guru - Friday, 10/17/08 19:33:16 EDT

Guru, I picked up an old style lathe tool holder today even though I knew I alrady had the same style, because it was only $3.oo I get back to the shop and sure enough it is almost identical. Looks like two different pattern makers both working from the same drawing, same type #, 2-s, different manufacturer. I have noticed the same thing with heavy duty c-clamps and the like as well. Please forgive my ignorance, but where there some standards back in the day?
   John Christiansen - Friday, 10/17/08 20:01:46 EDT

I was a training-on-the-job museum conservator about 100 years ago, seems like. We coated our cleaned, degreased iron and steel with a coating of microcrystalline wax. It was translucent, an off-white mineral wax. Later on, I saw a sculptor working on a wax piece, and his microcrystalline wax was brown.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 10/17/08 20:13:16 EDT

There aea microcrystalline waxes and there are microcrystalline waxes - not all are created equal, by any means. The best one I have used is Reanissance Wax, a product originally compounded for the conservators at the British Royal Museum. It is far and away the most durable wax of its type, and priced commensurate with the quality at around $26 for a 4 oz. tin. That little bit goes a looooooong waym, though.

Over the years, several people have tried to duplicate the formula for Renaissance Wax, and the most successful imitator relied heavily on a microcrystalline polyethylene wax that is only available in, not surprisingly, Britain. It was reported that the end result was almost as good as Renaissance Wax at about a third the cost, provided that you could locate the ingredients and manage the rather finicky process of compounding them all together. Personally, I'll stick with buying the known product that I have had great success using.
   vicopper - Friday, 10/17/08 20:51:27 EDT


Pete Renzetti made a little power hammer that is about a foot and half tall and uses a regular hammer for the head and helve portions of the hammer. Works slick for chasing and planishing.

My 65# air hammer is about 7' tall. If I had know at the time, I would have made it even taller, so it could have at least 12" of available stroke for top tooling, add-on dies, etc. It would still fit in a room with an eight foot ceiling.
   vicopper - Friday, 10/17/08 21:00:38 EDT

John Christiansen: Armstrong and J.H.Williams companys made an almoast identical product line. Other than the name It would be hard to tell them apart. Toolposts and toolholders are made to standard sizes. I had full line catalogs from both companies back in the '70s, don't know if I could find them now.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/17/08 22:16:58 EDT

Grant, it's funny you mention propane stoves, sail boats, and condensation all together.
When I used to do prodution welding and had to shrink parts together or pre-heat I had severl Belchfire torches I could use (I could get up to 12 million BTU's with all of them going at once) but, until the shop got a direct natural gas line in to run the torches we used Propeline and compressed air.
You would think with all that heat they would be dry but, for the first few minets those torches would realy spit the water( yes, we had in line air dryers)
I also recall a former sailing buddy tell how his propane cabbin heater made everything soggy until he switched it out for a deisel fuel one.

Guru, I'll try to get the story done in a timely manner but, right now it's rather long winded (like me) and I'm trying to pare it down a bit befor I send it.
   - merl - Saturday, 10/18/08 02:25:27 EDT

"prodution" welding, obviously should be "production" welding... gimmy a break , I've been up since 4:00am yesterday( now 2:00am)
   - merl - Saturday, 10/18/08 02:44:03 EDT

Lathe Standards: While tool holders are fairly standard and production (block type) tool posts to accept such are fairly standard the T-slot in the compound slide is not, every model lathe being different. For "old fashioned" tool posts there was no standard and each was made to fit the non-standard T-slot in the compound slide. While you can purchase nice forged and roughed tool posts from Armstrong and others these are merely blanks that must be machined to fit a custom made T slot adapter.

Various books such as Machinery's Handbook and Tool Engineers Handbook have Charts of sizes for both the T-slot and the tool post. However, these were rarely followed. When a manufacturer made a lathe lighter duty than the "standard" the slots were thinned and when made heavier duty they thickened. While on some modern lathes there is a little more standardization I have never put a tool post or post adaptor on any lathe that did not need machining, shimming or special parts made.

My current project lathe had a poorly fitting (either blank or from another machine) tool post that causes a lot of wear to the T-slot. To compensate the replacement I am making will have a longer block to fit the T-slot and fit more snuggly than an OEM would. To accept standard tool holders the post must be larger than the slot opening so it will be necked down slightly at this point. I could find no "standard" tool post blank that came close to the necessary fit so the whole will be machined from alloy bar stock.

The older the machine the less standard. I always assume I will need to measure, reverse engineer and make parts. Then if I find something that fits I am pleasantly surprised.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/18/08 05:14:25 EDT

Dave Boyer, thanks, yes one is an Armstrong, the other J.H. Williams. Coincidence or were the two firms related?
   John Christiansen - Saturday, 10/18/08 08:50:43 EDT

Guru, Now and then I wish the slot was taller for some odd ball set up I am doing, though not bad enough to make a new post. Would you post a picture of your new post when completed?
   John Christiansen - Saturday, 10/18/08 08:53:57 EDT

John, with drawings as well. . But its just a standard type and will fit nothing else. .

I had not thought of making it any taller than needed. . . That means the screw must be longer as well.

The block type tool posts that are found on modern machines are necessary for supporting high pressure machining carbide inserts. But for general machining I much prefer the standard post and tool holder type. Much more flexible for getting into weird places. I made a special boring tool holder for our old Southbend that had a heavy base (it was round) like a block type so that it would be more rigid.

An important lathe accessory that I think was suggested by the South Bend "How to Run a Lathe" book is a wood V-block to support your chucks when installing and especially when removing them. You only need to have that 20 to 30 pounds drop onto your hand ONE TIME while trying to remove the chuck to know why. . . I did it on my little 13" lathe and bruised a bone in my finger. Thought I had broken it. No matter how much you THINK you are ready for that weight to drop into your hands you are never ready for it. .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/18/08 09:47:04 EDT

Guru, thanks for the interesting aside. Since you bring it up, here is a question. I was taught that to remove the chuck on a south bend, place a block of wood on the way behind the chuck, then reverse the motor so as to cause the jaw of the chuck to strike the wood, and loosen the chuck. The 3 jaw scrolling chuck which came with my 16" south bend has nonreversible jaws, and limits the work size. When I attempted to loosen the three jaw, it didn't budge, so my project of mounting the 12" 4 jaw reversible independent chuck I aquired has languished ever since from fear of damage to the spindle. Any suggestions? This lathe is mint x3 and I can't risk any damage to it's truth.
   John Christiansen - Saturday, 10/18/08 10:31:55 EDT

I am blessed in that my chucks are camlock mounted, so a piece of cake to change. I built a little jib crane above with a 1/2 ton HF chain fall. Probably the only use for a HF 1/2 ton chainfall:) The 14" chucks are not something I would try to hand mount, but with the little jib easy.

I was just in the shop playing with the lathe, grinding HSS bits for the holders and trying the knurl holder.
I am enjoying the lathe so far.
   ptree - Saturday, 10/18/08 11:37:03 EDT

Removing Chucks. . .: Normally I lock the spindle with the back gear and use a wrench on one of the jaws or if need be a bar between jaws. But if stuck REALLY tight this might break the back gear teeth.

The chuck on my project lathe hasn't been off in 20 year and sat outside for 10. . . I keep oiling it.

If I was going to use the inertia of the spindle to loosen it I would rotate the chuck by hand against a wooden stop. If you reverse the spindle on a threaded chuck and it comes loose you will end up with the chuck loose and dropping to the floor or on your foot. . .

Never, EVER, use the motor to spin on a chuck or grinding disk. . . When it bottoms out the inertia will be great enough to damage the threads and make nearly impossible to remove.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/18/08 15:57:49 EDT

I was wondering if there is somthing that im doing wrong im trying to draw out a leaf spring for a sowrd blade but im geting cracks maybe its becouse im only heating one side but its a slow heat i dont konw feed back please
   - malcav - Saturday, 10/18/08 21:28:24 EDT

I am trying to draw out a leafspring to replace a sword that was supposedly battle ready and was bought for my bday but im geting cracks might be couse im only heating on one side but i was hoping for some feedback
   - malcav - Saturday, 10/18/08 21:32:31 EDT

I am trying to draw out a leafspring to replace a sword that was supposedly battle ready and was bought for my bday but im geting cracks might be couse im only heating on one side but i was hoping for some feedback
   - malcav - Saturday, 10/18/08 21:46:03 EDT

I am trying to draw out a leafspring to replace a sword that was supposedly battle ready and was bought for my bday but im geting cracks might be couse im only heating on one side but i was hoping for some feedback
   - malcav - Saturday, 10/18/08 21:46:14 EDT

I am trying to draw out a leafspring to replace a sword that was supposedly battle ready and was bought for my bday but im geting cracks might be couse im only heating on one side but i was hoping for some feedback
   - malcav - Saturday, 10/18/08 21:46:18 EDT

I am trying to draw out a leafspring to replace a sword that was supposedly battle ready and was bought for my bday but im geting cracks might be couse im only heating on one side but i was hoping for some feedback
   - malcav - Saturday, 10/18/08 21:46:21 EDT

I am trying to draw out a leafspring to replace a sword that was supposedly battle ready and was bought for my bday but im geting cracks might be couse im only heating on one side but i was hoping for some feedback
   - malcav - Saturday, 10/18/08 21:46:24 EDT

I am trying to draw out a leafspring to replace a sword that was supposedly battle ready and was bought for my bday but im geting cracks might be couse im only heating on one side but i was hoping for some feedback
   - malcav - Saturday, 10/18/08 21:46:27 EDT

merl: Combustion produces water vapor, CO2 and CO. The water vapor will condense on anyting that is cool enough. 12 million BTU's will generate a LOT of water.

The diesel cabin heater would have had a flue to discharge the water vapor, CO2 and CO outside the boat. Propane heaters intended for use on a boat do too. I had a 5000 btu propane heater, I used 3/4" copper pipe with aluminum fins inside the boat and plain pipe outside for the flue.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 10/18/08 22:52:28 EDT

John Christiansen: The two companies were competing for the same market, I don't think there was a connection between them. I don't know who set the standards for tool holders, knurling tools, boring bar holders toolposts etc, or even the "C" clamps. As Jock mentions, the lathes were not made to standard dimensions regarding the toolpost slot, or it's drop from the spindle C/L, so the toolholders & boring bar holders required some machining to make them fit a particular machine.

In Vo Tec machine shop We used a length [30"?] of 1" bar stock as a lever against the chuck jaws with the lathe locked in back gear to loosen chucks put on with the gusto of teenage boys.

If You don't want to risk the dammage to the machine I suggest You remove the chuck from it's backing plate and bolt a length of flat stock across the backing plate, letting it extend several inches on one side. Don't lock the spindle, and give the bar stock a few good SHARP blows with a moderate size hammer. Velocity of the hammer is important, as You are only working against the inertia of the spindle, so don't use a heavy, slow hammer. remove any burs at the bolt holes before re-mounting the chuck.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 10/18/08 23:11:46 EDT

malcav: The entire area You are hammering on needs to be hot. If it is a used spring there may be cracks started in the spring from use. You should be using a narrow strip of spring, a whole spring is much too large in section to start with.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 10/18/08 23:35:26 EDT

What would be a good price for a up and running 750 lb. Niles Bement Pond hammer with 400 cfm air compressor?
Running and in service, this machine has 24" inch stroke, 120 blows per minute and has been totally rebuilt. Cylinder bored and honed, piston welded and turned with new rings. complete new control valve with new cage. Complete new throttle valve with new liner. New packing, manzel mechanical pump oiler. Dies have some pitting but can be surfaced. Also included is a 400 cfm AtlasCopco piston air compressor with a 250 gallon reserve tank. You can view this machine in operation at Dillon Forge in Roswell Ga. or online at www.dillonforge.com
   Michael Dillon - Sunday, 10/19/08 07:57:44 EDT

Michael, a good price would be $149.99; I can be there tomorrow with cash in hand....Are you able to load it for me? I'd throw in an extra 20..
   - Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 10/19/08 08:17:47 EDT

Michael, though I am quite sure I am unable to make a reasonable offer for your large hammer, let alone find a place for it, I was interested in seeing your video of it in action, but was only able to see the video "working metal", no matter which link I clicked..thought you'd like to know
   - Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 10/19/08 08:31:35 EDT

Also, RE: lathe chuck removal; anyone have any thoughts about chucking a large piece of hex stock, and having a go at it with a large impact wrench?
   - Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 10/19/08 08:34:59 EDT

Charlie, I thought about that but it depends on the size of the impact wrench and the chuck.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/19/08 09:17:24 EDT

Hammer Price: Michael, as noted, your system only shows ONE video. . .

The value of these hammers depends entirely on who's buying and how big a hurry they are in. Industry has been scraping these wonderful old machines at an alarming rate in recent years. A friend of mine has three Niles Bement hammers (1500, 750, 400) and a Chambersburg 500# Utility. All were bought at scrap price.

While the machine is "up and running" in your location I'm sure you know the costs of moving and setting up such a machine including the below ground foundation. Then its parts and pieces when delivered. . .

Old air compressors are also problematic and tanks must often meet local regulations (current inspection certificate). Insurance companies get very picky about this kind of thing.

The other thing is how long you are willing to advertise and wait for the "right" customer.

If the machine is setup right it is probably worth a lot more where it is IF you find work for it or a product to make with it. This is a great machine for making heavy stakes and small anvils.

I've got a lower die for a 750 Niles in perfect condition. . . great flat anvil. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 10/19/08 09:57:56 EDT

I see that Valley Forge, an Anvilfire advertiser, is offering a Cobra (nee Henrob) oxy-acetylene torch for $399, saying it can operate like a TIG, and can cut stainless up to 1 inch or so. Anybody here have any hands-on experience supporting those claims? (Not looking to start an argument, or suggesting in any way that the ad is not true, just want factual experience.)
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 10/19/08 12:30:13 EDT

Or, in other words, how is it one O/A torch can do what the others cannot?
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 10/19/08 12:31:11 EDT

Guru, Bave Boyer, Charlie Spademan, thanks for the ideas. When I think back to my aprenticeship in the machineshop, I was basicaly an empty head, and had to take most info at face value, and most of what I was taught at that time is bedrock in my mind. Thanks for the reminder that the process of machining often involves inventing or creating a solution. Guru, reversing the lathe motor from a dead stop gave just enough energy to loosen the chuck, it still had to be unthreaded by hand.By the way, I was taught to put wood on the ways to protect the ways, not the hands. The old master machinist, at age 65, after more than 40 years experience, stuffed his hand into a bench grinder. I wasn't working there anymore, but I heard it wasn't pretty.
   John Christiansen - Sunday, 10/19/08 13:28:22 EDT

A propane heater *does* make more water vapor per BTU than diesel does, and a natural gas heater makes even more than propane. A molecule of Natural gas (CH4) has four hydrogen atoms to one of carbon. Propane (C3H8) is about three-to-one, and diesel varies in composition but is around two-to-one. For every molecule of CO2 you get burning natural gas, you make two water molecules. Propane makes about one and a half, and diesel makes about one.

Of course as Dave points out, it doesn't make much difference in condensation if they're all going up the flue anyway.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 10/19/08 15:19:54 EDT

I came back here to read the answer to my question on hardening mower blades and can not find the answer anywhere. Please send me a link to the answer.
   - Gerald - Sunday, 10/19/08 15:40:57 EDT

I came to read the answer to how to harden mower blades and can not find it anywhere. Please send me a link to answer.
   - Gerald - Sunday, 10/19/08 15:42:33 EDT

I came to read the answer to how to harden mower blades and can not find it anywhere. Please send me a link to answer.
   - Gerald - Sunday, 10/19/08 15:43:15 EDT

I came back here to read the answer to my question on hardening mower blades and can not find the answer anywhere. Please send me a link to the answer.
   - Gerald - Sunday, 10/19/08 15:43:27 EDT

I came back here to read the answer to my question on hardening mower blades and can not find the answer anywhere. Please send me a link to the answer.
   - Gerald - Sunday, 10/19/08 15:43:33 EDT

I came back here to read the answer to my question on hardening mower blades and can not find the answer anywhere. Please send me a link to the answer.
   - Gerald - Sunday, 10/19/08 15:43:38 EDT

Please send me a link to the answer to my mower blade hardening question. I have looked a long time for the answer and can not find answer. In short is it safe and what procedure for hardening lawn mower blades ??
   Gerald - Sunday, 10/19/08 15:49:02 EDT

Condensation: Well, I guess we need to know if we're talking about heaters or stoves. Heaters of any kind usually contain the combustion and exaust overboard. Stoves on the otherhand are not as inclusive. Oil and coal cook stoves always exaust overboard, but propane cook tops don't. They usually have a less than effective hood. Never been in a boat with a propane cooktop running that didn't feel like steam bath. Very small volume of a cabin plus wet cloths and gear only add to the problem.
   - grant - Sunday, 10/19/08 17:25:37 EDT

Condensation: Well, I guess we need to know if we're talking about heaters or stoves. Heaters of any kind usually contain the combustion and exaust overboard. Stoves on the otherhand are not as inclusive. Oil and coal cook stoves always exaust overboard, but propane cook tops don't. They usually have a less than effective hood. Never been in a boat with a propane cooktop running that didn't feel like steam bath. Very small volume of a cabin plus wet cloths and gear only add to the problem.
   - grant - Sunday, 10/19/08 17:26:06 EDT

I have a somewhat out of the ordinary question.
Does any one know how rifle barrels were made back when blacksmiths made guns by hand? I mean match-lock, wheel-lock, flint-lock guns and even precussion cap and early cartridge breechloaders. I'm thinking this is the kind of info I'm only going to be able to find in some really old books, if at all.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 10/19/08 17:47:45 EDT

Gerald, why don't you try posting your question again and it will probably get answered this time. Questions do get missed sometimes.
   John Christiansen - Sunday, 10/19/08 18:26:25 EDT

I don't see your question posted anywhere. We need to know what kind of mower it is and what type of steel it is.

One method is shown in a film, later made into a video, from Williamsburg Foundation, Virginia, "The Gunsmith of Williamsburg." The smith, Wallace Gusler, folds a skelp of wrought iron in mid-length for a few inches and forge welds it into a tube over a tapered mandrel, the latter being held by an helper. The mandrel is then removed, and another fold and adjacent heat is taken. No tapered scarf is used, as that leaves a shut inside the tube. It is a butt weld, the material thickness meeting corresponding material thickness. Each welding heat overlaps the previous weld a little. When welded, it is attached to a bed with ways and pulled into a series of steel bits, each one getting slightly larger. When finisd drilling to size, the barrel interior was ream-polished. Gusler also did the rifling; however, rifling came much after the matchlock and wheellock.

I recommend the film. I forged one barrel in the above manner for Turner Kirkland of Dixie Gunworks, Union City, Tennessee. He claims that he put it in his "little log cabin museum." I used Swedish wrought iron that was a minimum of 3/8" thick. There is much metal lost through forge welding and hammer reduction.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/19/08 18:28:13 EDT

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