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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 November 16 - 30, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, asylum at of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

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-- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
BLACKSMITHS: Ben, Blacksmiths make almost anything you can think of that is made from wrought steel. Industrial blacksmiths use huge forging hammers and presses to make tools like the hammers, screw drivers, pliers and wrenches you see at Sears or the hardware store. They also forge parts parts like crankshafts and axels for automobiles, trucks, tractors, trains and ships. Decorative smiths make plain and fancy handrailings, chandeliers and fireplace tools. Marine blacksmiths forge anchors, chains and fittings of every type for ships. Some blacksmiths still make old fashioned hand made hardware like door pulls, hasps and hinges. There are also Wheelwrights and Bladesmiths and Armourers.

Although you might think of blacksmithing as a dying trade it is NOT. All the folks listed above can be found by the thousands. What HAS died out is the village blacksmith shop where horses were shod and wagons fixed. These were actually "pioneer" blacksmith shops and were put out of business by the automobile and factory industrial blacksmiths.

The specialist that shoes horses is a farrier. Today most farriers travel to the horse rather than the other way. There are also more farriers today than there ever have been. So you see, the blacksmith in America is alive and well. He just isn't the village smithy of romantic poetry.

-- guru Monday, 11/15/99 22:14:08 GMT

HAMMERS: Mike, That may be true about compact mass but for centuries in Europe and even today in Japan the popular style of hammer and sledge had all the mass in front of the handle. Funny looking long things to Western eyes but they work well! I think it has to do with making an eye with a wraped piece like an axe. It would have been the best way to make hammers of wrought iron.

I also know smiths that prefer a long slender hammer because it is more stable and less likely to rotate (exact opposite of your logic). Also easier to get into tight spaces . . . I've been using a slender riviting hammer for some light work this week. Works very nicely.

Bill Epps makes a very nice hammer that is based on a common smiths hammer but it has a diagonal pien. I kind of like his hammer (maybe its because I designed a diagonal pien hammer years ago and never made it). I'd sell Bill's hammer because it makes sense to me.

That's why I don't support "name" hammers. They are sold with a line of logic that may or may not be true. A sales pitch. What works for Uri may not work for me. I tend to trust hundreds and hundreds of years of evolution in tools. . .

-- guru Tuesday, 11/16/99 00:52:25 GMT


Re: Hammers

All of you are making good points. But may I add an additional note? (Might as well say yes, I'm gonna, anyway! grin)

Blacksmiths are individuals! What works for John, might not work for Mike. What works for Mike might not work for the guru. What works for the guru might not work for me.

I've used a Uri Hammer. I liked the way it handled.

I have a Bill Epps hammer. I was intrigued by the diagonal pien. It moves metal very well for me.

For years I worked with a 2 1/2# cross pien hammer and a 1# Ball pien.

Try using as many different types of hammer as you can get your hands on. When you find the one that works best for you, stay with it.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 11/16/99 01:45:57 GMT

Whew! Hope I didnt rattle anyones cage with my above observations. Jim, I guess you hit the proverbial nail on the head- different strokes for different folks! Stay well
Mike the Israeli smith

mike manzie -- manzie at Tuesday, 11/16/99 06:38:03 GMT

McMaster-Carr sells burners,propane or NG.

Chris Turley -- Qst42know at Tuesday, 11/16/99 09:21:49 GMT

I am a complete beginner to blacksmithing and would like to learn how to forge my own woodworking chisels. Are there any schools located in the northeastern US (I live in that teach such a skill? Thanks.

Glen -- gmstoll at Tuesday, 11/16/99 13:47:24 GMT

HAMMERS: Mike, The fellow wanted to know if anyone had used a Hoffi Hammer and if he liked it. You and Jim both liked it and you gave some reasons. Please keep giving your opinion!

I've never tried a Hoffi Hammer but I've used a LOT of odd shaped hammers (auto body, sheet metal, ball pien riviters. . .). I've also made a few of my own in wood and steel. Besides blacksmithing I've done more than a little carpentry and quite a bit of heavy wood carving. I have a hard rubber carving mallet that I like and a lignum vitae mallet that I'm not too crazy about. I've been using striking tools for a variety relativly heavy work since I was 11. Then I was REALLY using the wrong tool. . . a carpenters hammer and an all steel straight chisel for heavy wood sculpture (see my bio). I've also felled my share of trees with an axe.

Maybe I got used to picking up ANY heavy handled object and using it. . . I just think there are better places new smiths can spend their money.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/16/99 14:18:36 GMT


Opinions are always welcome! We are all different. Different physical characteristics, different ages, different backgrounds. So our opinions are bound to be different. (Course, Paw Paw is NEVER wrong! May not always be right, but is never wrong! grin)

The different opoinions and expressions of them are how we learn from each other.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 11/16/99 14:43:59 GMT

PROPANE BURNERS: Chris, Thanks! I send a lot of folks to McMaster-Carr but I forgot to look there! The burners that are appropriate for a gas forge are the venturi nozzle type. Would reduce a lot of angst among the timmid.

However, they are rather pricy for the do-it-your-selfer AND they don't mention forges in the list of applications (may be an oversite).

The VERY intresting parts are the Gas Mixers and Valves The mixer is a bell that fits over the end of a pipe and has a center support and air adjustment. The valve fits in the end and has an orifice outlet. These parts are very similar to those you make for the burners on the Ron Reil burner page. Cost is about half that of the complete assemblies though not as nice (you get what you pay for).

Sounds like time for another anvilfire R&D project!

Chris, any relation to Frank?

-- guru Tuesday, 11/16/99 14:45:41 GMT

WOODWORKING CHISELS: Glen, I don't know of any blacksmithing schools in New England but I may be wrong. Contact the N.Y. State Designer Blacksmiths (see ABANA page for chapter contact info or archive of first half of this month).

My wife just took a basic metalworking class at a local community college as part of the machine shop curriculum. One of the first things they did was forge and heattreat a cold chisel. Pretty basic but its a start. Otherwise, see our article Getting Started at the top of this page.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/16/99 14:52:19 GMT

A friend of mine works in a pawn shop. A man came with 5 pewter or silver chalices that appear to be hand-carved. He said they were found around 35 years ago in an abandoned Catholic church. She said the words "World Gift Z.Y India" are engraved on the bottom. The five pieces all have different carvings. Are these really worth much or not?
Thank you,
Kathy Miller

Kathy Miller -- kathryn at Tuesday, 11/16/99 17:40:30 GMT

VALUE OF CHALICES: Kathy, Where or what link made you think we value antiques here??? This is the second time in two days. We occasionaly value old tools when they are NOT collectors items. Then it is a job for antiques apprasiers.

There would be a big difference in price between pewter and silver objects as the metal value of the silver would have to be considered (even though silver is at an all time low). Found in an abandoned church??? If you believe that I have some nice river front investment property I'd like to sell you. . .

Now, I just happened to be watching a HGTV show last night called "At the Auction" and they had some large pewter serving pots for $450 USD. Of course this was a New York dealer's apprasial of something HE was selling. . .

-- guru Tuesday, 11/16/99 18:29:51 GMT

Could you tell what a cone anvil is and how it was used.

Ken Crabtree -- KFCrabtree at Tuesday, 11/16/99 19:15:22 GMT

Are trip hammers still made, and are parts for the Little Giant trip hammer available?

Kenneth Crabtree -- KFCrabtree at Tuesday, 11/16/99 19:17:26 GMT

CONE or MANDREL: Ken, They come in a variety of sizes from little ones that fit the hardy hole in an anvil to big 5 foot (1.2m) tall floor mandrels a foot (.3m) in diameter. They are made primarily for making rings round but can also be used for whatever radius bending job you have.

Some of the most intresting ones are the short fat ones used by wheel wrights. They are just long enough to have the range of large and small wheel hub rings. Some cones have a "tongs groove" up the side and some don't. Most are hollow cast iron but a few are made solid.

Although every blacksmith wants one they are one of the most un-used tools in the shop - unless you make a LOT of rings.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/16/99 19:24:57 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am an amateur knifemaker. I have been making knives exclusively with CPM440V with good results. I have been using the "Moran grind", on all of my knives, and I am quite happy with the combination of steel and grind. However, I have only a limited supply of this metal left from CPM since they no longer appear to carry it. I have been considering using their 10V and 15V steels. Both appear likely to be superior in strength and edge-holding ability. The place where I temper my knives now is willing to put the temper on blades made of the other steels.
I have been unable to find any information on these steels other than what CPM offers on its website. Can you tell me anything that you might know about them? Has anyone out there ever used these steels? Thank you for listening.

James -- jamesandlora at Tuesday, 11/16/99 20:16:20 GMT

POWER HAMMERS: Ken, There are no longer any mechanical hammers being made. Many Little Giant parts still are available. Small air hammers are being made by a mumber of manufacturers. See our manufacturers list on the Power hammer Page.
CPM steels: James I'm going to have to defer to grandpa on this one. The steel numbers you list are not standard steel numbers (SAE, AISC, ASTM, UNS) but manufacturers numbers. My standard references do not list them.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/16/99 20:40:21 GMT

Granpa Meier; I brought some wire(cable) home from the boat,
I want to use it for blades, how do I degrease it?
How does it weld? and does it make good blades?
I've heard of "cable dimmascus",is this the right stuff?
It's 6 strands of about 40-50 wires each, (about 250,000 lb. test) tough material! It has a fiber core, I will remove that.
Can I use carb cleaner to degrease?

George Frazier -- pinenut at Tuesday, 11/16/99 21:19:22 GMT

George, Cable Damascus is more of an excercise in forge welding and a curiousity than a method to make a good blade. The classic Cable Damascus knife has the blade blending out of the cable handle! Carb or brake cleaner will degrease it pretty well. Carburization or decarburization of the wire's surface is what makes the normaly uniform material etch with a pattern.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/17/99 00:01:54 GMT

Dear Guru,
I have a question about stainless steel. Will stainless steel retain it's ability to resist corrosion in salt water after being heated to a working temp in a forge ?
Thank You,

Mark Suchocki -- dilligaf at Wednesday, 11/17/99 00:55:02 GMT

Mark, Stainless must be properly heat treated to maintain its maximum corrosion resistance. If overheated or burnt that material should be removed. Scale should be ground or sandblasted off. Otherwise most 300 series stainless is hard to hurt.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/17/99 01:45:34 GMT

James: Can't be of much help on the CPM stuff. Your supplier should be able to furnish data sheets on the CPM440v. They now have a 420v which would be closer in stainless qualities to the 440v. Suggest you call your nearest CPM center and ask about what is available. Neither the 10v or the 15v are stainless.
George: Looks like I'm blanking out tonight. Don't know much about cable-welding. How good the blade will be depends on the composition of the steel in the wires. All cables are not born equal. Any degrease product can work if it gets into the inside area. I would use gasoline since it is cheap.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 11/17/99 03:00:02 GMT

Not related that I'm aware of, but hey its a small world.

Chris Turley -- Qst42know at Wednesday, 11/17/99 03:02:24 GMT

I have 2 hay & budden anvils. One is the old style with a wrought iron base and a forge welded steel face(160 lbs). The other one is a newer style hay&budden with a wrought iron bottom half and the whole top half is tool steel( no face plate) hardened on the face- it weighs 308. Which one would over time be the best to work on? Should I try to find an older style one that is heavier and sell the new style? I really like these anvils and want to have the best tools possible. Thanks Mike

Mike -- lecka at Wednesday, 11/17/99 04:39:33 GMT

ANVIL WEIGHT: Mike, In almost all cases bigger is better! Big anvils over 200 pounds are rare and hard to find. If you get rid of the bigger anvil you may never be able to replace it. The ONLY disadvantage to a big anvil is portability and the space it takes in your shop if you have a very small work space.

Bigger anvils:
  • Are easier to work at because they return more hammer energy into the work
  • Are more stable (hard to move around with angled blows)
  • Are more durable (yes anvils DO wear out)
  • Have more useful working area

There is NOTHING wrong with the new style Hay-Budden. The older manufacturing technique was used because tool steel was very expensive and was not available in large blocks. Several manufactures took up this style of construction in the early 20th century. Today only Peddinghaus makes a forged anvil and that is the method they use. The rest are all cast steel.

Most blacksmiths have more than one anvil in their shop. Most want the biggest anvil they can find (its a guy thing). But they often want a small anvil for portability too. There are times you need an anvil on the floor for heavy upsetting or working something you can't pick up.

NOTE: Bigger anvils tend to be a little softer than small anvils. This is because they are hard to quench as fast. However, this works to the advantage of the anvil because the corners on a large anvil are more likely to get chipped due to the higher mass of the anvil.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/17/99 14:56:56 GMT

On the cable blades. I have been told (I can't remember where) not to use cable that has a fiber core. It is too hard to close up the space that the core occupied. It's something to think about.


Wayne Parris -- benthar at Wednesday, 11/17/99 15:10:39 GMT

Guru: Do you know if Bill Epps has any books out with some of his projects in them looked over the ones on iForge page and it would be nice to have several of those neat little projects of his all in one handy reference. Have you thought of compiling iforge demos into a notebook type projects book? Just a thought I would buy a copy if it was available easier than printing them all out and Im less likely to misplace it .


Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Wednesday, 11/17/99 15:56:51 GMT

Jeff, Way ahead of you. But you'll have to wait a few months!

CABLE BLADES: Wayne is right. If you want to try it you should try to replace the core with something (small cable, straight bar). The problem with cable is its made in a variety of alloys and styles. Some cable is made from galvanized wire and if well used may not show it on the outside. Some cable is made from stainless alloys and presents heattreating problems. Like a lot of "found" items you have to play with it, test it and figure it out on your own.

On the other hand, I have heard of guys making forge welded blades from roller chain (used motor cycle chain)! This is another item that is made in various materials and may have as many as three in one chain. It is nearly impossible to degrease and the hidden places are surely going to produce flaws in the welds. It is another curiosity item that guys like to show off.

This is one of those areas that there are no clear answers. Most of the folks that do this type of work don't know that it "can't be done", so they go ahead and do it! On the other hand, the lack of technical expertise also means that no one knows if the results were good or bad. You can make a deadly weapon out of a nail or piece of soft scrap iron, but is it a fine blade? You can make an art object that is also a deadly weapon out of unhardenable 304 stainless, but is IT a fine blade?

Cable Damascus is one of those things you do for fun and your own education. If you are serious about it as a technique then I would recommend making your own "cable" from bundles of known material. Music wire and MIG wire for instance. . . Hmmm what would all that copper coating do?

-- guru Wednesday, 11/17/99 17:17:04 GMT

Dear Guru,
Hello, I am an historical archaeologist working in Alaska at Kennecott, a large copper mine which operated from 1907 to 1938. I inventoried a large assemblage of industrial equipment stored behind the machine shop at Kennecott and found several blacksmithing tools. One of the tools is a bottom swage. I was able to identify the artifact by referring to Richardson's book "Practical Blacksmithing". Unfortunately the book never clearly explained what a swage is. So here are my questions:

1. In general what does a swage do?
2. What is the difference between a top swage and a bottom swage?

Thank you for your help,

Mary Ann

Mary Ann Sweeney -- Mary_Sweeney at Wednesday, 11/17/99 18:15:53 GMT

SWAGE or SWEDGE: Mary, A top swage is a handled tool. A botom wsage is a matching tool with a square shank to fit in the hardy hole of the anvil (3/4" to 1" sq and 3-4" long). A spring swage has both halves connected by a "U" shaped flat steel spring. Swages are struck with a hand hammer, sledge or used under a power hammer

Swages can be convex, concave or geometrical ("V", half hex, octagon). Swage blocks are often used in place of bottom swages. These are big cast iron blocks with bottom swage shapes along the edges and various shape holes in the center. The holes are used for supporting work while being punched.

"Hollow" swages are used to size and smooth any shape that has been forged out of another or extends beyond the piece. Convex swages are used to draw out, isolate stock and to make radiused inside corners.

A "flatter" is a similar handled tool used to smooth flat areas.

These are simple tools to identify but if made for a special task their use may not be easy to determine. Blacksmith's make many of their own tools and often have more special tools in their shop than standard ones. Many do not look like "tools". A simple square block with a hole drilled or punched in it is a "monkey" tool used to support work while a rivit is driven through a tight fit. Short bars with gently tapered ends and unusual crossections are "drifts" for shapeing and supporting the handle hole for a hammer, axe or other handled tool. Every piece of iron or steel you pick up or dig up may have been a special tool.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/17/99 19:44:06 GMT

Can a 90 ton punch press be used as a forging press? I know that you need more info than I have for now, but I will be looking at it Sat.
A friend has one that he is looking for a new home for, and he thought of me. That and a surface grinder.
I do know that both are from the early part of the century(like about 1916 or so)

Ralph -- ralphd at Wednesday, 11/17/99 19:26:54 GMT

PUNCH PRESS for FORGING: Ralph, NO. Sorry. They are great (but dangerous machines). A punch press absolutely MUST finish and continue its stroke/cycle. They only use about 15% of the energy in the flywheel so if they are stalled something ALWAYS breaks. The dangerous thing about them is that they are supposed to be ONE STROKE machines but often fail to disengage. Once tripped there is no stopping them. Modern presses have so many guards on them from the factory that you can't see how to get the work to them! Old presses sell very cheap as most are being junked. If the clutch is worn and hangs up they can be very scary. Old ones don't meet OSHA regs and are hard to upgrade (must have two handed operation to keep hands out of the press).

Conversion to a hammer is difficult and impractical. The flywheel is attached in the wrong part of the drive train. The machine is not balanced for continous duty, there is insufficient room for adding the necessary springs or toggle linkage. . . . The frame might make a nice air or hydraulic press. . .

However, they are great tools as-is for the blacksmith shop. As long as you have properly rated your die sets for cold work they are highly productive tools. Got a hundred or few thousand square holes to punch for a railing job? A 90 ton press will punch 3/4" (19mm) square holes in 1/2" (13mm) stock. Kerplink, kerplink, kerplink. . . that fast!

Old surface grinders are great tools too but are only about as good as a SMALL bench grinder unless all the feeds work and are automatic. My little #2 B&S (6'x12") weighs about TWO TONS! So don't be decieved by its size. Luckily mine had the pan and coolant pump. I couldn't use one without. . .

-- guru Wednesday, 11/17/99 20:09:42 GMT

Hello there... I am an intermediate woodworker hobbiest and am interested in doing some lamps and other pieces which require some coppersmithing.
My preference is Arts and Crafts, so I'm interested in doing some easier pieces - like lanterns - which require some copper work and some woodwork. (Maybe later, I'll try some Roycroft-type stuff).
I'm a pretty good all-around handyman and have a nice supply of tools in my workshop but they're mainly for use with wood. I recently bought a few books on metalsmithing (whose titles I cannot remember) and a also have a few articles from the latest woodworking magazine on "how to make craftsman-style hardware" - i.e. handles, pulls, etc. - for drawers and such.
I am aware of the basic annealing principles and most of what I intend to do will involve mostly: hammering, bending, not much welding, lead soldering, some riveting, and nothing really fancy for now.
So to get started I'm trying to find a supplier for low-to-medium prices tools like MAP gas/regulator, planishing tools, hammers, medium-sized vice, maybe a small anvil, stakes and stuff. I don't really need high-end stuff and I've found one company (Rio Grande, Albeque.. NM) that sells some of this but it's mostly for jewelry - and is expensive for the other stuff.
My next project will be a lantern, with a four-sided, sheet copper top. I have some #110 copper sheeting (0.064 I think), some copper bar and round stock (all of which was in the supply list from the aforementioned woodworker making-hardware article).
Any suggestions?

Neil -- npm at Wednesday, 11/17/99 20:23:38 GMT

Mary Ann:

At least you're barking up the proper trees. One of our parks (to remain un-named) had the hardie on the display mounted upside-down. Sure gave me pause...

"Some of my best friends are archeologists. No; really! Would I kid you?"

Visit your National Parks:

Come have a row with us: (cASE sENSITIVE)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Wednesday, 11/17/99 20:59:00 GMT

LITE METAL WORKING: Neil, Good tools are generaly worth what you pay for them. Cheap tools that don't hold up are more expensive than new top of the line tools.

Welding tools (torches/regulators)are best purchased from your local welding supplier whom you will be buying gas and other supplies from. They can also give you advise and service the products you buy from them. They are a resource worth cultivating.

New vises and anvils are expensive . (period) The only option is to search for used equipment. There are tons of places selling cheap cast iron anvils. DO NOT BUY THEM! If you want new then all of our advertisers sell quality anvils. Kayne & Son and Centaur Forge sell anvils, vises, hammers and stakes. Bruce Wallace sells new and used anvils and equipment.

Stakes are expensive and of low priority. Several oak or maple stumps (log sections) with shallow depressions cut in the end grain (bowls, "V"'s) are the most useful of all heavy sheet metal working tools. Bolt an old pick axe to one and you've got a nice tool steel stake.

Sheet metal raising and planishing hammers are also sold for doing auto-body work and are generally superior to those purchased elsewhere. Don't overlook reworking ball pien hammers into what you need (grind or forge).

-- guru Wednesday, 11/17/99 22:36:07 GMT

guru, I just wanted to say thanks for all the information ! your insight has helped greatly whith my quest to learn the blacksmithing trade.thanks again...randy

randy -- randy.fllake at Thursday, 11/18/99 00:22:22 GMT

I am looking for information on setting up my little gaint 25#, such as setting the ram height. minimum strokes per minute. maximum strokes per minute. I am new to smithing (about one year), this is my first hammer. thanks for your time.

Mark -- mb101267 at Thursday, 11/18/99 00:57:02 GMT

LITTLE GIANT: Mark, We have the general Little Giant specs posted on the Power hammer Page. Typicaly LG ran their hammers too fast and I recommend they be run about 15-20% slower for controlability. The ram height should be adjusted to where the upper die is are about 1/2" (13mm) off the work. Normaly thats about 1" (25mm) of die seperation. The spring adjustment should be just tight enough that the toggles are almost straight out. Guides should be snug but not cause noticable friction.

NOTE: The toggles can never be perfectly straight out. Don't try, it a law of physics.

Oil, oil, oil and oil the machine some more. If it slips slides or rotates, oil it!

A 25 pounder can be bolted directly to a concrete pad with a piece of isolation material (plywood or rubber) between hammer and concrete. Since the machine was designed for short people it can be raised on a pad of 6" x 6" or 8" x 8" timbers about 3 feet wide. If the whole is bolted together then it doesn't need to be bolted down.

-- guru Thursday, 11/18/99 04:46:37 GMT

I have been metal smithing for nearly a decade. It was at one time a profession. Now I take one or two commissions a year. My current commission has me in a bit of a knowledge bind. More precisely the burner construction for a new forge. I have built the forge already; 2000 cu. in. interior. I have two holes cored for the burners (2" pipe).
I am using the book "Building the Gas Forge..." by Richard Kern, but this book is geared more toward smaller forges, which I have had a great deal of success with.
Now I am trying to get the same success with a; it's proving to be quite difficult.

I recall a forge at the ABANA conf. in Ashville, NC that was used with the Chambersburg hammer. I did not get any photos of it so I can't remember the details of it's burner construction.

Would you happen to have any ideas or recommendations to help me get this big beast cooking.

Matt St. Louis -- st-louis at Thursday, 11/18/99 05:06:24 GMT

presently installing 15cwt steam hammer foundations baseplate is designed for 12" timbers having cast webbed gussets will concrete formed to the correct shape ie not unlike a carpenters mitre box do the job my theory is the main shock is under the anvil which is of course seperate to the baseplate concrete being cheaper &readily available &also concrete is much stonger than years ago when these machines where designed,maybe somebody has installed one using concrete on its own whithout a timber buffer the pit is 7ft deep waiting to read your opion regards Damien Sharah AGFORGE

Damien Sharah -- agforge at Thursday, 11/18/99 08:34:14 GMT

Matt St. Louis (and anyone else interested in BIG fire stuff). Look into the glassblower's 'glory hole' construction. These are equivalent to BIG BIG forges (try a 55 gal drum!). They run at 2500 to 2700 degrees, well capable of high forging temperatures and low welding heats. Best book I've found with construction details is by Dudley F. Giberson, "A Glassblower's Companion." He gives engineering details on burner requirements for various sizes of glory holes and furnaces, up to a big one that requires rolling your own drum (a 55 gal barrel isn't wide enough...). The book is available at for around $35 and is also a good read.

Morgan Hall -- morganh at Thursday, 11/18/99 15:37:54 GMT

FORGE DESIGN: Matt, For images of those forges see the last page of our 1998 ABANA conference news coverage. (news, Volume 2, Index, page 25). The one shown has end doors and five burners. There are also good forge photos on the Centaur Forge page (under forge, click on the small image for a detailed one).

For that size forge you need 4 or 5 of the small atmospheric burners (as shown on the Ron Reil page) or ONE blower type (possibly with two inlets). For larger forges blower types are much better and are dead simple to build. No orifices, just a valve. Put a damper on the blower and you can adjust for gentle heating or welding either one.

I get a little fancier and use a solenoid valve plus the igniter and spark plug off a "jet" type kerosene heater so that there is ignition any time the fan and gas are operating.

Bigger forges need a bigger gas supply. Large forges will not run on the small "picnic" bottles like the little ones do. I'm currently using an NC-TOOL Whisper Baby. It will run a week or more on the small bottle its on. My big forge freezes up two larger bottles in a few hours. I need a bulk tank (150 gal) to run it correctly.

-- guru Thursday, 11/18/99 15:50:19 GMT

HAMMER FOUNDATIONS: Damien, Hammer foundations can vary a lot depending on the use of the hammer and the soil conditions.

The manufacturers recomendations are for hammers that will be run at least 8 hours a day if not more.

There are several reasons for the heavy timber foundations. One is to act as a shock absorbing spring so that blows penetrate the metal deeper. This occurs when the "push" of the hammer takes a longer time. This is important when processing large billets and tool steels. It is one reason hydraulic forging presses have largely replaced hammers for billet processing. They produce a better quality product. On hammers with seperate anvils the anvil is set on the stacked timbers and the frame on timbers set on the concrete pad surrounding the hole. The anvil is set several inches high to compenstae for settling.

The second reason is that many hammers are setup in coastal cities where the soil conditions dictate pilings under many things. Under hammers the timber foundation is very deep and pyramidal to spread out the load and provide a stable base. Besides providing a stable base the foundation meets the conditions above.

Padding under the frame is to reduce stresses to the frame AND floor. Concrete can not withstand concentrated load. It also helps in alignment of the hammer. Where concrete is used under modern hammers the foundations are massive. Often several times bigger than the hammer in all directions. Then the machine parts are still isolated from the concrete by modern elasotmers (rubber padding).

Strength of concrete depends on a lot of factors. Modern machine mixed high cement concrete IS very strong but doesn't reach its maximum strength for six months to a year (about 4,000 PSI). Cheap (lean) hand mixed "bag" concrete is indeed much weaker than structural mix. There have been no great improvements in concrete in hundreds of years.

As to replacing timbers with concrete in the space described. . It might work, It might not. You would have to have a lot of patience (waiting for the concrete to cure) and you will still need padding and shims between the hammer frame and concrete. I've seen a lot of small hammers setup this way with bad results. Generaly the relatively small unsupported concrete "timber" cracks then crumbles over time.

-- guru Thursday, 11/18/99 16:45:54 GMT

I am thinking of converting my 35# Kerrihard hammer over to air. I need a detail list of parts to look at and where to order these parts. And I need to know what size compressor to use.

Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Thursday, 11/18/99 16:00:28 GMT

CONVERSION: Bobby, If you are doing the re-design job then YOU have to provide the detailed list! Here is a start:
  • You will need an air cylinder with upper (retracted end) snubber. Diameter is dependant on how heavy duty a cylinder you get. Rod sizes vary from 3/8" to a full inch (25mm)! 2" (50mm) dia. with 5/8" rod is about right. The smaller the hammer the higher the lift/ram ratio. Extra stroke doesn't hurt.
  • A four way pilot operated air control valve (5 port 2 way I think. . .)
  • A foot operated (exhaust) valve
  • One or two 3 way roller air valves - switching pilot duty
  • A bunch of fittings and hoses!
  • Regulator and filter
If I were you I'd order a copy of the Ron Kinyon plans from ABANA and check the control schematics on the AFC page. We are currently building an air hammer and will be presenting plans after testing but you may not want to wait that long. . . McMaster-Carr has many of the parts. You may have a local industrial supplier in your area that can help.

There is a LOT of debate about what size air compressor you will need. The manufacturers of samll hammers will suggest a small (5HP) compressor to keep your costs down. I've heard a LOT of complaints about these hammers being run on this size compressor. However, you are building a lighter machine and 5HP should work. The duty cycle on piston air compressors is generally 50%. If it runs constantly to keep up it is going to overheat and wear out rapidly. Bigger is better! There are lots of other tools you may want to run on that compressor. Hand held air chisles are a GREAT tool in the blacksmith shop. So are die grinders.

-- guru Thursday, 11/18/99 17:29:17 GMT

I am interested in the blower type burners for a forge. It seems that there is not much need for high pressure. Is it possible to use the low pressure regulators from a BBQ, or do I need an adjustable regulator like from the welding suppliers? Is all the heat controlled by adjusting the blower?

JDickson -- TheIrony at Thursday, 11/18/99 17:49:44 GMT

HAMMER CYLINDERS: Many small hammers are being built with light duty aluminium cylinders. They work but the wear out rapidly in this service. Both Kayne & Son and Firedesign have gone to steel or stainless steel cylinders on their machines because of wear problems.
The question has come up about using heavy duty hydraulic cylinders for small hammers. I know the seals are different and that they should be changed for air (higher velocities and low lubrication) but I do not know how or if it is possible. The point is the cylinders are built more like heavy duty commercial air hammers use and would be a better choice, expecialy if building a JYAH.

I've been collecting air cylinders for a JYAH project. The problem is they are about the only component that I've found used. There is an amazing difference in the various types. The first I got were some large (very long) aluminium air cylinders. They will have to be shortend and new seals put in. The second were a couple little steel air cylinders. A lot better construction. The last were steel cylinders with HUGE rods. The right stuff for an air hammer! Will soon have parts for air hammers, vises and more. . .

-- guru Thursday, 11/18/99 17:53:51 GMT

Thought I might be able to add a bit about cable damascuss. The rule of thumb I was given on unknown material to try a sample piece (solid steel core, no plastic) & if it welded to obtain as much as you could in order to experiment with it. If you get material new, look for plowshare or improved plowshare grades (1086/1094). Jim Hrisoulas has a good section on it in his books. A good source for new, surplus material is elevator cable & material around oil rigs.

Clean material welds much better then rusted I have found out...

Bob -- robert_miller at Thursday, 11/18/99 18:17:39 GMT

FORGE REGULATOR: JDickson, The amount of gas needed is directly proportional to the BTU's needed which in turn is determined by the size of the forge. A BBQ regulator might work on a forge with an enclosed volume of about half a cubic foot but certainly will not work on a larger forge. Its not the pressue that's needed its the volume of gas delivered by the higher pressure (in a small pipe).

ADJUSTMENT or the fuel/air ratio is the same as a torch or bunsen burner. You want a neutral flame (balanced mix). But you also need sufficient flow velocity to prevent flashback into the burner AND to properly heat the forge. Too little fuel and there is not enough BTU's to bring the forge up to temperature. Too little fuel/air mix in too large a pipe and you get flashback.

Flashback is prevented in torch tips and burners by the fuel/air mix moving faster than the flame front through the mix. This makes building a small forge a delicate balance while in a large forge you just force LOTS of fuel and air in. Blower type forge burners are easier to build but are hard to size to a small forge.

-- guru Thursday, 11/18/99 18:30:14 GMT

Guru et al
I am looking for information on a drill grinder or distributor.
Any info would be most appreciated.

SRD Cone Grind Drill Point Grinder

last known source
D.V. Mayorga Inc.
4250 Sunrise Highway
Massapequa, LI, NY

Thanks from just another hammerhead wannabe,

alan gering -- bradley at Friday, 11/19/99 03:42:01 GMT

I am somewhat of a beginner and have been using a torch to heat metal for forming. The torch takes longer and goes through the oxygen pretty fast. I do this as a hobby and really don't have a place to set up a coal forge at home, but I have been looking at the one and two burner propane forges listed in the Centaur Forge catalog. Can you recommend a type that would be good for a relatively small things like plant hangers, etc?

Roger Scriven -- rlscriven at Friday, 11/19/99 15:28:17 GMT


I recently finished doing product reviews on the NC Whisper Baby, and the NC Whisper Momma. Either of them will work well for you, but the Whisper Momma would probably work best.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 11/19/99 15:32:31 GMT

Hmmm, I'd better get those reviews posted where people can find them. . NC-TOOL REVIEW
Roger, I've been using the Whisper Baby that Paw-Paw reviewed (not yet posted). I'm heating a piece of 5/8" square in it now. . . whoops BRB. You could do bigger work in it but this is about the limit. With smaller stock it can keep you busy! What I like about this cute little forge is that you can pick it up and move it with one hand. It is also easy to light (click, poof) that fast.

Besides Centaur, Kayne & Son, and Bruce Wallace sell NC-TOOLs.

An option to your torch is to add an economizer valve. It is a lever operated pair of valves (fuel AND oxy) with a pilot light. Lay your torch on the lever and it goes out. Pick it up and wave it past the pilot and you are off and away. You don't have to mess with valve adjustments! A propane rose-bud works great this way. Yes, you can use propane rather than acetylene! Takes special tips but the fuel is cheaper. Oxy-propane is also a much softer quieter flame than oxyactylene.

There is a fellow out West that uses an oxy-acetylene "forge". Its a big rose bud (or several torch tips) connected to a foot operated economizer valve. Press on the pedal, INSTANT heat! When not in use you don't waste fuel.

-- guru Friday, 11/19/99 16:41:52 GMT

Dang! Took four heats to write three paragraphs. . . .

-- guru Friday, 11/19/99 16:46:50 GMT

Guru & Associates: After checking every link available I still haven't put a hood in the new shop. Sidedraft with a smoke shelf seems to have the advantage of not letting cold air fall back atcha but the overhead telescoping hood sure sez a lot for accessability to the fire from different angles. I have to run the pipe up and make a turn thru the side of the building rather than thru the roof to keep from messing up the warrenty(50 Years) on the building. I haven't read anywhere what effect this would have , if any, on how either draws. Using the portable forge right now to keep from getting too
far behind in orders but the weather ain't gonna hold off much longer.
BTW, it's always windy here, from any direction! Any ideas will be appreciated.

Jerry Carroll -- birdlegs at Friday, 11/19/99 20:18:24 GMT

Refresh isn't automatic on my end, probably my fault! :(

Jerry again -- same Friday, 11/19/99 20:22:45 GMT

Jerry, Keep the turns to a minimum (2), Make the pipe as big as you can afford (12" inside the shop, bigger outdoors). The advantage of the side draft is that is does not HAVE TO carry all that cold air (that doesn't want to go up hill). This makes them draw better and are more efficient. You still have some 240 of access to the forge!

Idealy you need the forge chimney AND a big exhust fan near the ceiling to exhuast stray smoke. Be sure the forge does not have a cross draft (wind or exhuast fan) or its going to smoke no matter what.

On the other hand you could always burn gas and just have an exhust fan. . . . :)

-- guru Friday, 11/19/99 20:28:22 GMT

I have the opportunity to get a portable forge with a handcrank. What I would like to know is if the base of the forge (it is about 30/40years old) is made with asbestos? Any hunches?

Rose -- touchela at Friday, 11/19/99 22:01:25 GMT


Probably not. Most of the old forges were made from Cast Iron. Go for it!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 11/19/99 23:01:33 GMT


I should have mentioned that some of the later models were made from sheet metal, but I've never seen any with asbestos in them.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 11/19/99 23:02:18 GMT

ASBESTOS: I wouldn't be so sure Jim! I doubt that many coal forges came with it but how many times have you relined your fire pot with furnace cement or putty instead of clay? Years ago it was 99% asbestos. My first forge had a bunch of little asbestos pieces in it. . . It was the "good" stuff not too many years ago.

Rose, Jim is mostly right. Asbestos might have been added by an owner. Does it have black or grey putty that flakes white? Any "board" or paper type products that survived use? Probably not.

Asbestos is highly over rated as a hazardous material. You have many things in your garage or kitchen that will absolutely poison you or make you ill in the quantities you posess. Asbestos is only a maybe if exposed to large airborne amounts for long periods. I'm not saying there is NOT a hazard, but it IS overrated.

-- guru Friday, 11/19/99 23:21:06 GMT

hammer foundations ;since my last email to you i have located plans ex nsw gov. rail workshops Australia titled modernisation of hammer foundations for a20cwt steam hammer using a steel fabricated ( timbers) ie 1"plate under the steel frame ,fabrika is used 3/8"thickas a shock absorber and under the anvil .This was successful i am told having spoken to smiths who operated itThe concrete used was 50 m.p.a . having installed a 10cwt nasel 3 years ago on concrete 50 m.p.a with only arubber conveyer belt (3/4") & no timbers with excellent results i can see why this engineer designed the foundations using steel over timber The soil condition here are excellent ;gravel like &very hard & i am very pleased with the nasel result hope this ones as good

Damien Sharah -- agforge at Friday, 11/19/99 23:44:50 GMT

Valid point. I've re-lined my coal pot several times. I don't THINK the stuff I use has any asbestos in it, but I wouldn't bet on it, because I've never checked on it. Guess I'd better do that.
OTOH, I agree with you about the "over-rating" of asbestos as a hazard.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 11/20/99 00:56:10 GMT

Where can i purchase rail road spikes. Is charcoal a good fuel for a forge.

Henry Geiger -- hgeiger at Saturday, 11/20/99 07:37:14 GMT

Where can i purchase rail road spikes. Is charcoal a good fuel for a forge.

Henry Geiger -- hgeiger at Saturday, 11/20/99 07:40:54 GMT

Jock: Thanks for yourhelp in the past. I have a new question: I would like advice on building a hoop or ring bender that could form hoops of various diameters in mild steel up to 5/16"x2". I know that Lockdown Industries in Wyoming makes exactly what I am looking for, but wonder if I could make something at less cost? I do have an old tire bender used in the days of steel tire wagon wheels that works for large diameters but want to make some smaller hoops-rings. Would appreciate any advice direction or plans that may be available.
Thanks. Don Agostine

Don Agostine -- agostine at Saturday, 11/20/99 14:11:15 GMT

RR-SPIKES: Henry, Most folks pick them up along rail road beds. The rail roads don't like it, it IS ILLEGAL (tresspassing, theft). Sometimes you find them at fleamarkets and such. McMaster-Carr carries them in two sizes for 0.60 USD (look under spike). McMC is listed on our links page.

-- guru Saturday, 11/20/99 16:01:18 GMT

BENDERS: Don, My Champion B&F tire bender goes down to about 16-18" (400-450mm). At least I rolled a piece of 3/4" (19mm) square that tight!

The difficult part of building rolls is the gearing. Most of the time you need two feed rolls geared together 1:1. Years ago I saw a nifty little bender built from a gear box designed to rotate a sign. The fellow had one stationary idler made from a ball bearing and another adjustable one to change the radius. He made dozens of different size rings in 3/8" (9.5mm) square stock for flower pot holders and stands.

Most low speed worm gear boxes of 1/2HP or so will work.

OTHER METHODS: IF you know the sizes you want and you need a large quantity it is best to wind a coil on a mandrel. Build several mandrels out of pipe with stub shafts to fit in a stand. The mandrel would have a dog or clanp to hold the end of the stock. A long handle is necessary (about 3 feet (1m)) - OR that wormdrive gear box. Clamp the end of a twenty foot bar and start cranking! Remove the coil and saw or torch off the rings. You would be surprised how FEW parts you get out of a full length. The advantage to this type bender is that you don't waist a lot of stock on flat unbent ends. It works for everything from rings for mail to large hub or log bands.

As far as making something at low cost is concerned, THAT depends on how valuable your time is. If you are a hobbyschmied and your time is worth less than minimum wage AND you are a good scrounger of parts then there are all kinds of things you can afford to build for your self. If your time is worth more than minimum wage and you are not much of a scrounger it is better to spend the money. It's hard to beat a man at his own game. Of course there are also those of us that just like to build things for ourselves (even if it costs more).

-- guru Saturday, 11/20/99 16:41:21 GMT

HAMMER FOUNDATIONS II: Damien, Yes, steel can be substituted for timbers as long as there is some cushioning to distribute the load on the concrete. The advantage of the steel is flexability (the cast iron machine frame is much stiffer) and easy of fabrication. Because of their flexability less padding is needed. In many cases machines are set on timbers or beams (steel or concrete) set directly in the soil.

I have not seen it but there have been hammers mounted on a bed of springs to reduce the shock transmitted from the hammer. This is done with two large steel plates and lots of very stiff springs. Rating the springs correctly is tricky.

At CanIron II a small Kuhn air hammer was set on a portable concrete "foundation". The foundation was a concrete pad (I suspect steel reinforced) about 6" (150mm) thick and 3x6 ft (1x2m). It worked, and has seen considerable use. However, the Kuhn hammers have a fairly large base to distribute the load. The machine made a rather "hollow" sound indicating air space under the pad or in the joints. I have also seen Kuhns set on concrete filled steel boxes. Centaur Forge sells them with an optional steel slab foundation.

On big hammers one of the most important things is the quality of the instalation. Large machine bases tend to be as-cast and are not very flat. Carefully shimming or grouting to distribute the load is more important on a large machine. It is the concentrated load on the concrete that does the damage. Ocassionaly the frame can be damaged the same way. Timbers (under the frame) are just a method to distribute the load and sometimes to provide a larger base.

-- guru Saturday, 11/20/99 18:29:28 GMT

Guru's I'm interested in rod iron work, like to do some art-craft.
I do weld and own a few tools for bending I have a small ring roller
but would like to find one for bigger stock. Any help on getting
a beginner started in this area and metalcraft. thanks jeff

jeff hubbard -- Liq metal2 at Sunday, 11/21/99 14:06:08 GMT

Jeff, See our article on benders on the 21st Century page. These are mostly scroll benders. They are for specific shapes but are very easy to build. They can be used hot and cold depending on the size of the metal and how heavy the bender is built. They don't need to be very heavy.

The Hossfeld bender shown in that article is available from Centaur Forge. These can be used for bending both curves and right angles. Be sure to price out all the dies you need. The disadvantage to these benders is the space requirement to use them.

A simple hydraulic press (like mechanics use to press out bearings) can make some heavy bends with cheap arc welded tooling. "V" blocks for right angle bends can be made from angle iron OR you can bend between two pieces of round bar welded to a plate. See the 21st Century page for an article on that too.

For low production heating and bending curves and corners is best. The anvil and vise are the most universal of benders. Cold bending machinery is relatively expensive to buy or to build but is the way to go if you are in production of high quanties (thousands) of parts.

-- guru Sunday, 11/21/99 16:01:43 GMT

If a frizen were to be case hardend would it throw sparks.As is Ican get no sparks from it striking it with a rifle flint.

Donald Walter -- donbev at Sunday, 11/21/99 17:19:42 GMT

Walter, Yes, frizzens must be case hardened to make a good spark. Case hardening is a relatively thin layer that can be worn through and cause a problem too. However, you don't want to get carried away as part of the strength of the part relies on the soft (ductile) core. The Dixie Gun Works catlog used to have a good description of a primitive process (that works).

-- guru Sunday, 11/21/99 17:44:07 GMT


scott -- jpotjpot at Sunday, 11/21/99 18:01:41 GMT

Forges and Anvils: Scott, First, ALL CAPS is considered yelling on the net.

Forges can be lined or unlined. The coal and ashes act as insulation in most. Bricks in the bottom won't hurt as your pan is probably too deep. See our "brake drum" forge on the plans page for info on forge construction in general. The fuel you want is nut sized lump coal or stoker coal. Quality makes a big difference. Look in the yellow pages for coal distributors. If you must import coal from outside of your area you may want to use a propane forge instead of coal.

See our anvil articles on the 21st Century page before buying a used anvil. Our Getting Started article will answer many of your questions.

-- guru Sunday, 11/21/99 18:53:51 GMT

I want to build a small LP gas forge to use to bring small carving tools
and about 1 inch of the tips of strap iron to a cherry red for
forging. The pieces of metal I use are 1/8 x 3/8. 1/8 x 1/2 and 1/8 x
1and I need to bring about 1-1/2 inches fo the end to cherry red. Where
can I get info to make a small LP gas forge with a heating area about 3
or 4" by 5 or 6" or pssibly slightly less? I have an LP gas burner but
my problem is lack of knowledge of how to get a hot flame. I have built
a firebrick oven 8"Lx6"Wx4"D but it isn't hot enough heat my small bar
tips to cherry red. I have Oxy/acetylene and arc welding experience and have used a small pan forge until now. In the retirement area that I live in I would like a small LP gas forge as is is a pain to continually light and re-light the torch for forging the curl on ends of bars. Thank you in advance for your time. Harold Tinley
- Spring Hill, FL tinleyh at

Hal Tinley -- tinleyh at Sunday, 11/21/99 19:27:25 GMT

Hal, Go to our links page and find the Ron Reil page. Ron has numerous forge designs, plans and links to others. For the kind of work you are doing I highly recommend the NC-TOOL Whisper Baby. I've been using one for small work and it is pretty slick. By the time you purchase a regulator, fittings, refractory and other hardware necessary to build a small forge you are not saving a lot.

The NC-TOOLS forges come complete with everything except the propane tank and has a convienient pizeoelectric igniter that works the first time. We have a link a few posts up we have a preliminary review of the next size up model, the Whisper Momma.

Gas forges take some patience. They take 15-20 minutes for the refractory to get heated up. Once hot they work quite well but if you are impatient and expect them to work as soon as you light one you will be disapointed.

You might also want to check out the article "Micro Forge" on the 21st Century page.

-- guru Sunday, 11/21/99 19:59:59 GMT

Hello, I'm trying to find information on construction of fireplace bellows. How to and plans for building them. So far I've only found a website in England that will build one for me. I want to build my own. Thanks. LaHonda

LaHonda Hail -- Mshaymom at Sunday, 11/21/99 20:29:54 GMT

Guru, I am new to knife making and was wondering if you could answer a question for me. What is the best way to forge weld a loop for the top of a tomohawk

Martin Rice -- taz5 at Sunday, 11/21/99 21:18:30 GMT

FIRE PLACE BELLOWS: LaHonda, They are pretty simple. Two teardrop shaped boards, one with a "head block" with a pipe for the discharge (1/2" copper pipe), the same board has a hole near the center to let air in, the hole is covered inside by a flap of stiff leather attached to one side to act as a check valve. Leather joins the two boards and makes the "body". The leather also acts as hinge. Handles can be extensions of the boards OR attached to the surfaces. Look at the pictures of a big blacksmith's bellows on the 21st Century page and you will get the idea.

To get the leather to fold right on small bellows (the big ones have extra ribs). Wet the leather and fold it best you can as you close the bellows, then weight it down (closed) and let the leather dry.

-- guru Sunday, 11/21/99 21:28:46 GMT

TOMAHAWK: Martin, the eye is formed when a butterfly shaped piece of steel is wrapped around an eye mandrel. The forge weld is on the center line of the blade and is as big as it is. After fitting to the mandrel open the joint so that it can be wire brushed clean. One side of the blade can be curved slightly so that the surface acts like a "scarf" allowing flux and dross to squeeze out. Gently bring the part up to heat and flux before it has a chance to scale. Then bring up to welding heat refluxing as needed and make your weld. After welding the drift is put back into the eye while the finished shape is being worked.

Alternately you can punch the eye. See our iForge demo on the subject.

One method of fluxing that works well is to use a fluxing rod instead of a spoon. A fluxing rod is a small bar with a pointed bent end. The bar is heated and dipped into flux. Then the point is touched to the work alowing the already molten flux to flow onto the part.

-- guru Sunday, 11/21/99 21:40:30 GMT

Dear Guru; Have searched for a source for NC Tools Whisper Baby vendor site w/out success. Is NC Tools a supplier? Who sells this forge? Thanks again.

Hal Tinley -- tinleyh at Monday, 11/22/99 02:20:40 GMT

NC-TOOLs: Hal, Almost all our advertisers are dealers for NC. Centaur Forge, Kayne & Son, and Bruce Wallace all sell NC-TOOL Forges and anvils.

NC-TOOLS is the manufacturer and is located in North Carolina.

-- guru Monday, 11/22/99 02:40:19 GMT

OBTW - I should also mention that Firedesign the manufacturer of the BULL also manufactures gas forges. They are bigger than what you are looking for but they will feed a hungery power hammer! They are also in North Carolina.

-- guru Monday, 11/22/99 02:46:51 GMT

Thanks for your replies on the Uri, hammers I was thinking more along the lines of squashing one of my hammers to the size of Uri's. I believe that's the only difference,there are claims that this hammer won't were out as fast. But I haven't worn one out yet. I agree $100. is a lot of money. but they look to be quality and may be worth it if it works? I think I'll try to squash one.I just think if a"blachsmith" made it another blacksmith could too.

MIke Sweany -- sweanym1 at Monday, 11/22/99 03:34:29 GMT


I was given a piece of aluminum today by one of our fellow citizens at the transfer station. It's 6"X 1/2"X 24", and feels just a tad heavy for aluminum, but looks right. I'm thinking of cuting off some and using it for a cutting/chisel saddle on my anvil. Two questions:

How would I forge down the ends to fit astride my anvil? Cold? Soap-burning hot? Anealed? I don't have much experience with aluminum stock this thick.

Secondly, is there a better use I can put it to?

Finally getting back on a regular schedule at Oakley Forge. Another beautiful weekend on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks:

Invade Canada in 2000:

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Monday, 11/22/99 03:56:03 GMT

Mike, It might be easier to start from scratch OR modify a larger hammer (small sledge) by cutting off the extra (hot cut or torch). Squashing an existing hammer is going to make a mess of the eye.

A 300 pound power hammer helps a lot when making hammers. Punch the eye in a couple whacks! :)

Would you believe that Doug Merkel makes Uri's hammers? It was Uri's design then Tom Clark got involved and now you have $100 "Hoffi Hammers".

-- guru Monday, 11/22/99 03:59:17 GMT

HEAVY ALUMINUM: Bruce, Plate that size is very often a high strength aluminium alloy which contains quite a bit of zinc. Zinc is very heavy and it makes a noticable difference in the aluminum. That type of plate is also generaly hardened (by rolling and stretching). The reason is that it makes exceptional tooling plate (the harder it is the better it machines). Al plate is given temper numbers along with the alloy number 6061-T3 is a common high alloy, 7075-T6 is great stuff! 1000 series is pure or nearly pure aluminum and is very soft.

Although it will anneal like most non-ferrous materials the high alloy is still relatively stout. Annealed it MAY take a right angle bend. In the hard (T-4 or T-6) condition it will break before bending very much. You must anneal before trying to bend. Hot bending CAN be done but it is very tricky. The bending and forging temperature for aluminium is around 800F and the melting point not too far above. The problem is localized heating is almost impossible due to the high thermal conductivity.

It would be easier to bolt or rivit on side rails to keep it on the anvil. Wouldn't have to be aluminum parts either.

-- guru Monday, 11/22/99 04:16:54 GMT

What kind of steel is used for swords/knives from Pakistan? Can a hamon (temper line) be placed on it? If it can, what is the best mix for the edge quench?

Joe -- HAO at CO.MIAMI-DADE.FL.US Monday, 11/22/99 15:56:41 GMT

Joe, They can make them out of what ever they pretty much want. I've seen some real soft stainless blades from there but I'm sure they make some good ones too.

Yes, the hammon line will show up on any carbon steel or alloy blade. Grandpa or one of our bladesmiths will have to answer the rest. For the "mix for the edge quench", do you mean the quenchant or the blade protectant?

-- guru Monday, 11/22/99 16:41:38 GMT

I need help. My son (22 yrs - an artist) has recently developed interst in making jewellery using antique cutlery (forks and spoons mainly) and gem stones. He has no equipment whatsoever. I would like to outfit him with the basics. What tools and books would be helpful to him? (a Christmas gift)
Thanks for being there.

claudia chomichuk -- claudiac at Monday, 11/22/99 16:34:58 GMT

CHRISTMAS: Claudia, This could be an expensive Christmas!
  • A small oxyacetylene welding outfit. Torch, hoses, regulators, protective eyewear and cylinders. Large cylinders are leased but small (mini) ones can be purchased. Look up your local welding supplier for this. Tell them what you want it for. They will be needed to refill the cylinders so you want a good business relationship with them. They also carry supplies like silver solder and flux.
  • Welding lessons at a local trade school. First symester covers oxyacetylene and safety. This is VERY important.
  • A good bench vise. For jewelery a 4" vise is big.
  • Pliers of every description, needle nose, round (wire bending), side cutters. If they LOOK intresting they will be usefull for small work.
  • 1/3 HP Bench grinder or buffer. Jewlers use an abrasive filled rubber wheel for grinding (I can't rember the type). (3) 6" (150mm)cotton buffing wheels and compounds, Emery (E5),Tripoli, Rouge and White. The emery is for his tools and the white for stainless steel. He should have some surgical masks for the dust too.
  • A bench plate and several stakes. Small stakes can also be used in the vise.
  • Files of every type and description up to 8" (200mm). Round, triangular, taper, half round, needle. . .
  • Hammers of various sizes and types. Ball pien and planishing are the most common for small work.
  • A jewlers saw and blades. I got mine from Brookstone.
  • Dremel Moto Tool and kit with case and accessories.
  • A machinist's tool chest (lots of little drawers) to store his tools in.
I could go on and on but this is a start. I don't personaly know of any specific book on jewlery although I'm sure there are many. Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork covers much more than iron and has some wonderful jewelery work. It is inspirational on any scale and I highly recommend it (see our review).

Others (particularly jewlers) would probably give you a different list. I listed the expensive hard to afford items that quickly become necessities. Any ONE item would make a welcome gift. Some items such as hammers are personal choices and might best be met with a gift certificate or a shopping trip.

-- guru Monday, 11/22/99 17:30:53 GMT


The best, quickest and most K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) book I've seen for jewelry is The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight (1991; Davis Publications, Inc., Worcester, Massachusetts; LoC 81-66573, ISBN 0-87192-240-1). Mr. McCreight gives very short shrift to hot forging (alas!) but the rest of his information is first rate. Buy a copy if you can, or pull a copy from the library or on an inter-library loan to help in choosing tools and eqipment. If you buy a copy, then you can wrap it afterwards and give it to him as part of his gift. At any rate, check some of the books available at the local library for additional guidance (avoiding some of the fussier ones). Good luck.

Jock: Thanks for the advice. Bolting on a couple of pieces of angle iron makes much more sense than whacking the stock over the edge with unpredictable results. Sometimes you get too close to the work and brain-freeze sets in.

"I know there's a National Park around here, but all these redwood trees are in the way!":

Go viking: (cASE sENSITIVE)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Monday, 11/22/99 18:50:11 GMT

Bruce, I get brain freeze too. But I learn by experiance! When I was much younger I wrecked some real nice 1/8" hard aluminum bar by insisting I could bend it tighter than a 1" radius. Crunch! Soft low alloy aluminum is very ductile and makes wrought iron look tool steel! High alloy aluminium is stiffer and generaly stronger than mild steel but it breaks rather than yield very far.

Metalurgy has been and still is the quest for the ultimate blade (which requires the ultimate metal). Hard yet not brittle, lightweight yet strong, abrasion resistant but still machinable. All oposites in the world of metals. Today the "blade" may be the wing of a sub-orbital supersonic transport, but the goal is the same.

-- guru Monday, 11/22/99 21:02:38 GMT

I am in the process of building the "Blacksmith's Helper" that is in the BLACKSMITH JOURNAL. Everything cut out and ready to weld up on the main frame and I am having trouble finding the 3/4 x 2 inch material to make the dies. In the article he said S7 was first choice, but that S2 and W2 were more reasonable pricewise.

What type of steel supplier am I going to go to and am I going to have to buy ground to size stock or in long lengths?

Am considering one idea from a friend to dump the 3/4 inch spacer bars and use heavy truck spring material for the dies in lieu of 3/4 x 2 tool steel.

Any help appreciated

John L. -- lecount at Tuesday, 11/23/99 01:41:56 GMT


When i forst started out in the Jewellery trade i went out and purchased the following equipment.

1 X Jewlers Blow Pipe
1 X Meths Burner
1 X Arlec Mini Drill (Similat to a dremel drill)
10 X Different size Needle Files
1 X Half Round file
1 X Flat File
1 X Round File
1 X Triangular File
4 X Emery Sticks
4 X Gravers
1 X Ring Size Stick
1 X Ring Mandrel
1 X Pighide Hammer
1 X Small Ball Pein
2 X Tweezers
2 X Spring Tweezers
1 X Potters Turntable
1 X Fire Brick
1 X Peircing Saw (Smaller version to a fret saw)
1 X Pinning Vice

The above list cost be around $1200.00 NZ at the time, i quickly traded the blow pipe for an LPG Tourch, Regulator and Bottle this cost me another $170.00 NZ.

Also, Do Not get a ring mandrel that has the sized printed on it, get a seperate size stick for this as its more acurate and will not damage the inside of the ring when you are sizing it up.


Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Tuesday, 11/23/99 02:21:39 GMT

John L., Good plan. Don't overlook torsion bars, sway bars or coil springs. You can get the alloys you mentioned in 3ft lengths from McMaster-Carr, they'll take a credit card but the price for tool steel is not low (see our links page).

Thanks Andrew. A much better list than mine. . . :(

-- guru Tuesday, 11/23/99 02:43:28 GMT

Thanks for the help yesterday. One step at a time and rock'in now. I am still finding my way around the web. It was really great to find your site. It is really well done. I have had my grand dad's equipment for years and tried to use it about 15 years ago. Going it alone and reading what I could find. I love the coal forge but was frustated with only using it for a couple of months each year. I am going to try again using gas. Someday I will set up the shop to handle the coal.

Thanks again!!


Larry Robinson -- lrobins at Tuesday, 11/23/99 14:08:27 GMT

Larry, Glad we could help. I hope you are not using the gas because the coal smoked up the shop and you have a winter ventilation problem up in Alaska (just guessing).

Even though the gas forge does't make a lot of smoke it will make a lot of carbon monoxide if used in a poorly ventilated space. What happens is that the forge makes a lot of CO2 which is only a minor problem. As the CO2 builds up a higher percentage goes through the forge and at those high temperatures the forge makes CO by stripping the extra oxygen off the CO2 in the high temperature combustion process.

CO2 can affixiate you in high concentration but it is not a poison. CO robs your system of oxygen and kills you in considerabily lower concentrations.

Try looking at the side draft "hoods" for coal. They are much more efficient than an overhead hood and take less stack. A small hood or vent over the gas forge and some way for a small amount of fresh air to get into the shop will take care of the gas forge.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/23/99 14:36:51 GMT

Hello guru! My husband is a fan of this site. I am having a difficult time trying to find something for him for Christmas.
He is A true blacksmith... has built himself a shop, makes and sells all kinds of things. I think he is very talented!!
Can you suggest a gift for someone with this unusual hobby?
A book, tool etc. I am completely in the dark... don't know much about this unique craft.

Maureen Warner -- mwarner at Tuesday, 11/23/99 15:29:33 GMT

Maureen, If your husband doesn't have it then he will really like a copy of Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork (see our review on our Bookshelf). Another book that has just come on the marker and is very good is Colonial Wrought Iron, the Sorber Collection by Don Plummer. If he isn't a member of ABANA then a gift membership would be well recieved. ABANA is the international blacksmith's organization and publishes The Anvil's Ring and The Hammer's Blow, both quarterly. You could order a few back issues of the The Anvil's Ring to make it a nice Christmas.

I didn't recommend tools because it is hard to tell what he already has (unless he's mentioned something to you). If he doesn't have a copy of the new Centaur Forge Catalog (blue cover) or the Kayne & Son catalog that would be good. . . :) Then you could ask what he likes in the catalog! I know, not very subtle but neither is THIS!

-- guru Tuesday, 11/23/99 17:13:12 GMT

In reply to the gentleman who asked about making fireplace bellows, an alternative to using leather for the outer covering is the pseudo-leather material available at most fabric stores. It has a fabric backing and stretches slightly, which makes it very handy in wrapping around odd shapes. I have a bellows I made this way that is ten years old, heavily used, and the fabric shows no sign of wear. (The flapper valve is made of real leather,as is the hinge on the wooden piece that moves.)

Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Tuesday, 11/23/99 16:49:42 GMT

Neal, YES, lets not overlook synthetics. They are much less expensive and often hold up very well. My bellows had the synthetic for the valve flap! It was some rubberized fabric. It was stiffer then the split cowhide "buck skin" i used on the outside.

The biggest advantage to leather is it is much more flame resistant than synthetics and survives hot scale and weld sputter much better.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/23/99 18:04:55 GMT

I have never done any blacksmithing before. i am doing research on a tlingit (american indian tribe in the northwest) silversmith tool set for the a musuem that i am interning at. i would like to know what is the difference between a graver/scribe/awl. And what they are used for in context to silversmithing. thanks.

travis -- tsinigine at Tuesday, 11/23/99 21:58:08 GMT

Travis, Under certain circumstances the same tool could possibly do all three tasks. A graver is a small chisel like tool often with a diamond shaped point. It is used for engraving or cutting relief like in scrimshaw. A scribe is another small tool with a very sharp point, usualy conical. It is used to make or scribe work by making fine scratches in the surface. An awl varies somewhat depending on the craft it is used in. Normaly an awl is a pointed tool with a slightly flattened end used to make holes by forcing it through the work. A sewing awl has a eye for threading heavy thread. Awls and gravers usualy have broad handles with flat or rounded ends for applying pressure. Scribes usualy have a long slender handle as they are used like a pencil. Gravers for hard metals that are struck with a small hammer do not have handles or have metal handles.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/24/99 00:23:29 GMT

Yes, son. Someday this awl will be yours!

grant -- nakedanvil Wednesday, 11/24/99 02:51:36 GMT


You must have had a much graver expression on your face as you were reading before you scribed that comment.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 11/24/99 03:27:02 GMT

You guys, I'm not Awled by your punny humor!

-- guru Wednesday, 11/24/99 13:11:49 GMT

I dunno Grant, he sounds a little jealous to me, do you suppose that's awl of his problem? :)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 11/24/99 13:24:20 GMT

i have recently aquired alittle giant helve or easy hammer in excellent condition. i read in kerns powerhammer book that only 395 of these were ever produced but mine has a serial no of 417 stamped in the casting. the no is on the same side as the embossed little giant mancato minn is on. is there another place to look ? do you know anyone out ther who has one of these hammers? j.p.

john pantner -- jpantner at Wednesday, 11/24/99 14:19:52 GMT

I have seen a reference to a Sears Roebuck 1915 Tools, Machinery, Blacksmith's Supply Catalog. Apparently ABANA reprinted it about 10 years ago, but it is not listed for sale on their website. I've tried the major out of print book websites without success. Does anyone know of another source?

Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Wednesday, 11/24/99 15:00:26 GMT

guru what day did you loose i may have it in the temp files or the loggs(I save the pages in a text editor and read them of line so maby...)mail me if you think it possible:-)

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Wednesday, 11/24/99 15:34:48 GMT

BtW someone else may have it in the History files of their browser (Netscape) even If i have cleared mine you kan try to post what days and ask the rest of us
Kindly OErjan :-)

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Wednesday, 11/24/99 15:37:35 GMT

OErjan, I lost all but one post of Nov. 15th.
Neal, That issue was published in cooperation with the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association and was a "substitute" for one issue of the Anvils Ring. They did that another time with a copy of a German "pattern" book found in the Yellin Collection.
LG, EZ:John, Serial numbers don't always start at #1 they often start at #100 or #1001. . .

-- guru Wednesday, 11/24/99 15:57:18 GMT

John. As an example of what the Guru is saying, Little Giant started with #500 for their 500 lb. power hammer

Paul P. -- none Wednesday, 11/24/99 17:29:36 GMT

John, Paul has one of the most complete collections of Little Giants in the country including an E-Z! One day we will have a feature article on it.

-- guru Thursday, 11/25/99 05:29:54 GMT

Guru....I live in a small town without access to blacksmithing services/knowledge. Can you tell me how to re-sharpen & re-temper a dull jackhammer bit? I have enough boat anchors....I only have access to a torch,anvil,big hammer,and a bucket of oil. Not to be funny, I have seen an old gentleman use this method and it seemed to work for him.

Dave Luart -- luart at Thursday, 11/25/99 06:56:42 GMT

guess just what day I miss in my logg :-(

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Thursday, 11/25/99 10:42:57 GMT

BIT SHARPENING: Dave, You will need an oxy-acetylene "rose bud" heating tip (sometimes a cutting torch pre-heat flame is sufficient). The rose bud will need a fresh cylinder of acetylene as they draw a LOT of fuel. You do NOT want a large rose bud (bigger than the small 1/2" [13mm] size). The larger ones take more than one acetylene cylinder or you have to go to bulk propane and a tip for that gas.

You can conserve a lot of heat/fuel by heating the bit over or in an enclosure of fire bricks. Three to make a corner that contains the flame and reflects the heat makes a huge difference.

You want to heat the minimum amount of the bit. About 2-3" (50-75mm). Do not heat over a an orange color and do not try to work below a red. At a red heat you hammer will bounce off. Above an orange heat you can have trouble with alloy steels crumbling. Give the bit time for the heat to soak through.

You will need to use a heavy hammer (at least 3 pounds or 1500g). Forge the point working from two directions. Hit it two or three times then turn it 90 degrees and then hit it two or three times. As soon as it cools a little you will need to reheat. Using a torch on a large bit and a hand hammer you will get about 4-6 blows per heat. DON'T push it.

On your last heat quench the point in oil while in the bright red but not orange range (many of us check with a magnet to see if the steel is hardenable). Do not quench the whole bit, just the last few inches. Then while the bit is still hot quickly take an angle grinder and grind a short 60 degree point on the last 1/4" - 3/8" (7-10mm) of the tip. Heat conducted from the rest of the bit should start to color the point. Just as it turns blue quench again.

By the time you are done, your labor (forget the fuel) will be worth more than the cost of a new bit. Add the fuel and you are really taking a loss. In commercial shops using a big gas forge and power hammer one man can repoint 70 bits in an hour and average 50! It is a good excersize but doing bits by hand with a torch is not cost effective or profitable.

-- guru Thursday, 11/25/99 15:14:57 GMT

OErjan, thanks for looking! I asked several others (including our ISP) right after I screwed it up. The nature of these dynamic files with refresh statements in the code is that your browser overwrites the file in the cache. You have to be very lucky to find one that is not over written.
Happy Thanksgiving ALL!

-- guru Thursday, 11/25/99 15:23:29 GMT

I'm not a blacksmith, although I have been fascinated by the art for many years. It's one of those things I've always wanted to try, but you know, college, career, marriage, kids, etc. always seem to take precedence. Anyway, my questions: I would like to make some articles of brass or bronze. The only materials I have access to are either chips from milling, discarded brass fittings and blocks (about 4" cubes). Obviously, these have to be melted down to pour into forms approximating the shapes I desire, before I can do any real shaping/hammering/grinding. What kind of temperatures do I need to do this? Do I need to use a crucible of special materials, or can I use iron? What kind of fuel would be best? Propane won't get hot enough, how about MAPP gas? Or should I use coal? Money is also a consideration, since I can't afford to buy some kind of expensive and exotic setup. As you can see, I am a complete novice. Any advice/assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

John Jones -- jjones at Thursday, 11/25/99 15:42:22 GMT

BRASS BRONZE CASTING: John, Get the book "Casting Brass" by C.W. Ammen. Its available from Centaur Forge or Norm larson Books (see Getting Started at the top of this page). You will also need his book on making and using wood patterns and one of his general foundry books.

A little propane furnace will melt brass and bronze handily. So will a charcoal foundry setup. Both can be built by an enterprising do-it-yourselfer. The books above will tell you how and we have some foundry links on Emiel's Hotlinks.

Yes, you will need a crucible (graphite) or two, and special fitted tongs and pouring shank. Also foundry sand, flasks (mold boxes), personal saftey equipment. You will also need a well ventilated place to work.

I recommend that you start with "potmetal" (zinc alloy). It can be melted at 1,000F less than bronze and can be poured in all the same type molds.

This is one of those areas that takes a LOT of knowledge. You will need to study a BUNCH before jumping into it. Knowlege is your most important tool.

-- guru Thursday, 11/25/99 16:34:54 GMT

john, a couple of websites out there that i lookedd at and might help you a little they are -'building a small scale funace for melting nonferous metals" at
"a metal melting furnace" at
and this one also has blacksmithing and small cating using a forge for melting it's "radnor forge" at
hope there is some information you can use there, the first two are really in depth and the second one covers a more variety of subjects, they were the best one i found yet.

alex bender -- klownsrbad at Thursday, 11/25/99 17:09:01 GMT

john, a couple of websites out there that i lookedd at and might help you a little they are -'building a small scale funace for melting nonferous metals" at
"a metal melting furnace" at
and this one also has blacksmithing and small cating using a forge for melting it's "radnor forge" at
hope there is some information you can use there, the first two are really in depth and the second one covers a more variety of subjects, they were the best one i found yet.

alex bender -- klownsrbad at Thursday, 11/25/99 17:09:11 GMT

I have a peice of steel from a drill-stem used for oil or water wells.
It is 3&1\4 inches in dia. and adout 5 feet long. Does anyone know what type of steel this is? Will it work for the head of a JYH? I
was told it is most likely S7.

P.S. I am working on my own design for the JYH

Glenn -- tglenn at Friday, 11/26/99 00:54:44 GMT

Alex Bender,

Good sites, good information!

Glenn, I'll let the guru double check me on this, but if it IS S7, it should work well for a JYH.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 11/26/99 02:15:34 GMT

S7: Glenn, IF it IS S7 then it will make great DIE steel but welding tool steel (guides, linkage attachments) would be tricky and most likely cause breakage problems. I don't have a clue what kind of steel it is.

Be sure to enter your JYH in the ABANA 2000 Events! More SOON!

-- guru Friday, 11/26/99 03:14:52 GMT

I have just purchased an old anvil. It weighs about 200 lb. Unfortunately, about 1.5" of the horn is broken off and there are several torch cuts on the flat. Also, the anvil rings like a bell when struck. How can I repair it. Is there anything to quiet it down to keep the neighbours happy.

Oliver Hlavenka -- herman at Friday, 11/26/99 04:04:35 GMT

Oliver, Do you have the broken piece of horn? Probably not. . . There are various methods of manufacturing anvils and the method makes a difference in how repairs are made. I suspect that you have a Swedish cast steel anvil (Great ring, even when broke). Try to determine the brand name. It should be marked on one side. It may be faint and require that you take a rubbing to read it.

If it is a cast steel anvil you will want to preheat to 400 to 450F before welding (yep a LOT of heat because its a big anvil). A piece to replace the tip of the horn can be fashioned from mild steel and arc welded on with MIG or 7018 rod (remember the preheat). Then pien the weld afterwards to stress relieve (as cooling) and during each pass.

Unless the damage to the face is sever I would dress the torch cuts and work around them. If you insist on filling them be sure to preheat the entire face and body. Then weld as little as possible. MIG is very good for this because you can let the wire run to the bottom of the kerf and start the weld there. Pien and post heat localy. Continue to pien the general area lightly as the anvil cools.

If you bolt the anvil down snuggly to a stand (wood or metal) it reduces the ring a lot. Old speaker magnets placed on the side of the anvil are supposed to help but I've seen little effect on anvils with a good ring. European smiths like to set their anvil in a stand that is a tall tank or bucket of coarse sand/ashes. This makes it easy to adjust and if the base is burried it helps reduce the ring.

-- guru Friday, 11/26/99 04:35:50 GMT

putting a medium sized horseshoe magnet(3 x 5 centimeter on a 200 kg anvil)on the underside of the horns has helped a lot on my anvil, did not lead to ironoxides/scales gluing themselves to the anvil.

stefan -- stefan at Friday, 11/26/99 06:45:40 GMT

pray tell oh Guru; where would a poor A.B.S (artist black smith) send a sample of mystery bronze to be identified? It forges better than silicon bronze hot and is very stiff cold, even annealed. It is workable over a wider temp range than naval bronze and doesnt seem to have a lot of zink. Twice bless your wisdom master...Pete PS maybe three times.

Pete Fels -- artgawk at Friday, 11/26/99 08:42:40 GMT

Pete, I doubt you want to pay for a chemical analysis but here is a link to an outfit I found that does what you want (I'm sure there are others).

According to my ASM Forging manual "Forging Brass" is the highest rated copper forging alloy at 100% with Naval Brass following at 90% and then the others from 85% to as low as 60%. All had the same apparent forging range of about 200F.

The material with the highest range of forgability was Monel 400.
What you don't want it to find out you have some type of Berylium bronze. Berylium dust is very bad for you. The alloys are rare enough that my references do not list forgability. Because of its stifness they make springs out of it (usualy very small ones).

-- guru Friday, 11/26/99 15:09:57 GMT

Guru & Jim,
Thanks for the input.
I will send you some pics of the Hammer when it is done.
Thanks again,

Glenn -- tglenn at Friday, 11/26/99 15:35:21 GMT

regards ser for ez the kern book said tht the nos stopped at 395 thats why i made the post thanks for the feedback. i did not see an email for paul p would like to talk to you if possible my nos are 208 334-8088 days 208 793-2890 im in horseshoebend idaho.

john pantner -- jpantner at Friday, 11/26/99 15:44:26 GMT

Guru: I have a "log" dating to the start of the page (yes I have the first postings) missing but a few days.
All is saved as text On a CD (Actually I have about 15 CDs by now) which gives me GOOD coverage of the subjects covered here and on a few other sites.
I consider it a good reference as well as good backup for when things crash (MY puter starts to have a rather tiring record of crashes)
best of luck

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Friday, 11/26/99 20:47:54 GMT

OErjan, As a long time computer user and programmer I am pretty good about keeping backups. However, I got sloppy making an edit on a "live" document and did not realize the error until it was too late.

Backups are funny things. I have backups going back over a decade. Many are on diskette (5-1/4). Some are on tape including some that they stopped making machines for 15 years ago! One is even on EEprom! Quite a few of my backups are in proprietary file formats that I no longer keep software installed for (pfw:write release 1, dbase2). Currently I only have one PC that can read and write both 3-1/2 and 5-1/4 diskettes. The two newer machines can not read the older machines tapes or the 5-1/4" diskettes. I have graphic files that are incompatible with modern graphic displays. Currently my go-between is a ZIP drive.

I never lost data due to a hard drive crash. I HAVE had times when I couldn't find the files that were backed up years ago. . . My only real loss was a stolen laptop. It was purchased just before a trip, software installed and the diskettes including some hardware drivers were left in the carrying bag. It was stolen a few days after I got home - along with passwords to numerous internet accounts that were saved "for convienience". I don't do that anymore. . .

The point is, most of my data losses have been due to changes in media and software. Your CD's are very standard now. But who ever thought the VHS tape or 12" CD would be replaced by them. How many of us have old collections of phonograph records and nothing to play them on? 10 years from now there is a good chance you won't be able to buy a drive to read today's standard CD's. The new standard will be multi gigabyte SmartMedia II cards the size of a postage stamp or 2" diameter holographic CD-IV's. OR even something we haven't even imagined!

-- guru Friday, 11/26/99 22:42:26 GMT

where can I find plans for a forge

chris -- cctscwbys at Saturday, 11/27/99 00:36:42 GMT

ALL. where canI find plans to build a forge?

chris -- cctscwbys at Saturday, 11/27/99 00:38:49 GMT

FORGE PLANS: Chris, What kind of forge? On our plans page we have the classic starter "brake drum" coal forge, its plumbing can be used on a bigger forge (and often is). And we also have the blower type burner used in a lot of bigger gas forges. If you want to build a small gas forge go to the Ron Reil page (see our links). ABANA sells plans for a high tech recuperative gas forge (preheated air). The Blacksmith's Journal has a nice plan for a large coal forge (see our links again). We also have articles about the famous "10 minute" forge and the "micro" forge on our 21st Century page.

And finally, if you are into primitive, read my story Blacksmith of 1776 and pictures of a great bellows, also on our 21st Century page.

-- guru Saturday, 11/27/99 01:29:18 GMT


Steve Manning -- estebo99 at Saturday, 11/27/99 03:46:44 GMT

I have looked at may designs for forges and was wounder if fire brick can be used to line them...I can get many of them at a good price..
Thank you for the help...

Scott -- kb5ryo at Saturday, 11/27/99 03:57:02 GMT

Scott, Refractory bricks come in many grades. Coal forges generaly do not heat the forge body much and common bricks work except perhaps right at the fire pot. Gas forges are different and the lining sees the full heat of the forge (approaching 3,000F). Excess foundry bricks are generally a good deal. If they are cheap get as many as you can, they are good trade material!

-- guru Saturday, 11/27/99 04:17:40 GMT

HARDENING ANVIL: Steve, A brush burner won't do it. You are talking about heating 100 to 200 pounds of steel up to about 1500 degrees F. It can be done with a similar looking gas burner and a ton of fire bricks OR expensive refractory blanket. Then all you have to do is pick it up and carry it to be quenched. . .

Many "new" anvils are made of cast alloy steel and the exact heat treating may be different than for a plain carbon steel. There are also many cast iron anvils being sold and they CAN NOT be hardened. You need to determine what it is you have before you even start. Where are you in VA?

-- guru Saturday, 11/27/99 04:25:31 GMT

i need to find heavy wrought iron floor registers in different sizes. can you help?
thank you guru,

ed schneider

ed schneider -- icce at Saturday, 11/27/99 13:17:43 GMT

I have an American Eagle anvil. Some time in it's life someone (may he be getting what he deserves!) used a cutting torch on it and blew two small holes in it's face. The holes are about 3/8" around and located in such a way that they can be worked around. If you were going to repair them how would you do it?

Larry Robinson -- lrobins at Saturday, 11/27/99 15:06:33 GMT

Sorry for redundent questions. I read your answer to Oliver and that is good enough for me.!!!!!

Larry Robinson -- lrobins at Saturday, 11/27/99 15:16:08 GMT

VENTILATION REGISTERS: Ed, These are made of cast iron not wrought iron. Wrought is hand forged and assembled, cast is poured in a mold. Of course today they are likely to be cast aluminium.

If you are doing a computer search the right term will make a big difference. Otherwise most people know what you are talking about.

Try these folks, they may not carry them but will probably know who does - King Supply Company

-- guru Saturday, 11/27/99 15:31:22 GMT

EAGLE ANVIL: Larry, Your Eagle anvil is one of those that is made diferently. The face is tool steel and the body is cast iron. The two are welded together "in the mold". That is the iron was poured against the tool steel in a special pattented process that makes a joint that normaly can not be made. In your case you absolutely do not want to try to make a repair. The welding stresses are likely to seperate a large part of the face to body joint. Cutting torches are fast compared to welding so it is unlikely that damage occured then. You just don't want to push it.

The tool steel in your Eagle anvil continues up the spine of the horn and a large part of the tip is also steel. These anvils do not ring as loud as wrought anvils. Some folks love them while others hate them. I've never had or used one so I'm neutral at this point.

In recent years I have come to believe that welders with cutting torches are the enemys of all anvils! They think its just a big lump of metal! The reality is they are carefully heattreated tool steel and often of sophisticated composite construction. I have a very nice 200# Hay-Budden with similar damage. I'll repair the horn but leave the face alone. Many folks repair these cosmetic problems but I recommend against it.

-- guru Saturday, 11/27/99 15:48:49 GMT

Thanks for the background on the eagle. I have used the anvil some and can find no cracks. You are quite right about the ring. They do not sound dead, but not to livley.
Best Regards

Larry Robinson -- lrobins at Saturday, 11/27/99 17:34:41 GMT

Guru: if only you knew how well I know what you are speaking of.
I have tapes from my old ABC 80 as well as other s data storage mediums whith stuff i would want to read today.
That is the reason why i have 8 folders of printouts of the interesting stuff (in a fireproof safe).
of course i lose stuff and as some one said, murphy is everywhere!!
a thing most blacksmiths know all to well i think:-)
hope you have better luck in the future.

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Saturday, 11/27/99 17:37:26 GMT

My 250# Trenton has a torch cut in the heal and numerious SMALL pock marks in the face of the anvil. For the most part, they won't hurt the work at all, it is just anoying that someone was so careless as to put them there in the first place! The cut in the heal is about 3/8 of an inch in dia and depth. Rather than try to fix this problem, I have learned to use the hole as a sort of pritchel hole for clearance on driving rivets ect. It is in a more handy spot for this that the pritchel hole is! Leave the holes alone, I also think you will do more damage trying to fix them than if you left them alone.

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Saturday, 11/27/99 19:53:57 GMT

I am inquiring about places to learn Blacksmithing or aprentice to a Blacksmith. I am looking to learn all the basics then move on to Weaponcraft. If you could send me any info for he Seattle Tacoma Washington area I would be most thankful.

Phil -- sacknet-phil at Saturday, 11/27/99 22:34:39 GMT

Phil, See our article Getting Started. In today's cash driven world apprenticships are few and far between. In the ABANA Journeyman program you are expected to bring a lot of skills to the job. You are expected to be ready to produce, to pull your weight, to make a profit for being there. Most employers cannot afford apprentice level "employees". Join the local ABANA Chapter and learn what you can there. There are numerous blacksmithing schools that can help get you started.

By "Weaponcraft", I assume you mean knives, swords, that kind of thing. You will find that many of the top people in that field have masters and doctorates in metalurgy. Six years at a university then on to learning how by doing it. Read Daryl Meier's bio (click on the MEIER STEEL banner) or about Dr. Jim Hrisoulas. Check the web page of Don Fogg - very technical stuff. You don't learn the high tech end of this trade working in the shop. It IS high tech. It was high tech hundreds of years ago. The only difference today is that we can apply some science to what the masters of the past took lifetimes to learn and learn it now from books and college courses. You no longer have to be born into a family of masters.

Today the discipline to become a skilled craftsperson is in a different form than what it was in the past but it has always required that same discipline.

-- guru Saturday, 11/27/99 23:25:25 GMT

hello, could any one tell me what type of steel are rr spikes made out of (tool steel????) is it possable to get a good cutting edge on them. i.e. knives, and or cutting hot steel. as in making hardies out of them. has any one ever tried this or am i wasting my time. as always i am very gratful for any and all help.

drglnc -- drglnc at Sunday, 11/28/99 00:29:29 GMT

C E N S O R S H I P !

LAST June Australia's government passed an Internet censorship law that takes effect January 1st, 2000. anvilfire! failed their word filter test on the keyword list of our homepage alone! We have tried to make anvilfire as family friendly as possible but we will be censored (access denied by the government of Australia) along with millions of other sites. In the U.S. we rejected such a bill largely because of collateral damage of this type.
AUSTRALIA has now passed another law allowing govenrment agents to access and change data on individual computers as necessary. In their missguided attempt to make the Internet child safe they have now given themselves the right to legaly plant evidence if needed! Although it is technicaly impossible to do this to an individual's computer at home, it is not so impossible to hack into a server used by a business to operate their web site. And what about equipment that has been seized by the government? If they have the legal right to change data on a computer in one's home or business, what is different about changing it when in their posession? What is the purpose for this law? George Orwell's 1984 is here, it has just been a little slow to surface!
WHILE THE INNOCENT are censored and those that would benefit from the information provided by the Internet are cheated, those that the government wants to censor will go about business as usual. Keywords can be removed and individuals can use foreign proxies to freely access sites that they choose. Only the innocent will suffer from the book burning zealots.

For more information go to Electronic Frontiers Australia

Knowledge is our most important weapon against tyranny.

-- guru Sunday, 11/28/99 00:36:41 GMT

RR-SPIKES: Dragon Lance, There are two types of spikes, low carbon and high carbon. The high carbon ones are supposed to be marked with an "HC" on the head. I'm not sure what the carbon content is of each type, however many spikes have about 40 point carbon making them equivalent to a 1040 steel.

This is too soft for a great knife but good enough for an OK knife. Most good blades are made of relatively high carbon steel (60 to 90 point) and are tempered way back after hardening. The result is a strong flexible blade with a hard enough edge to stay sharp. In a lower carbon steel blade you must temper less to keep the hardness. This results in a blade that is more brittle and prone to breaking. So if you make a relatively heavy blade like most hunting knives it will do OK. But if you make a long slender blade it can be either too brittle or too soft.

My first pair of tongs were made from spikes. Terrible things! I broke them no too long ago trying to straighten them cold. Obviously they were too high of carbon for that treatment!

-- guru Sunday, 11/28/99 00:58:09 GMT

Guru...I recently obtained a large section of road grader blade (the section that bolts onto the bottom). I have looked in my 11th Ed of Machinery's Handbook but cant find what metal it might be. Any idea what it is?

Randall Guess -- rdguess at Sunday, 11/28/99 05:24:31 GMT

can anyone point me in the right direction to find items made out of old license plates? Im located in Indiana. thanks sherry

sherry -- slwhere at Sunday, 11/28/99 05:37:04 GMT

Sherry, There are lots of collectors of old plates but I've never seen anything done with them. I have a small collection that I want to use for shingles on a shed. The aluminium ones (covered with resin) have tremondous life and I thought it would be one of those "Americana" type things to do out here in the sticks. . .

-- guru Sunday, 11/28/99 15:35:33 GMT

ROAD GRADER BLADE: Randall, Generaly these things are hard abrasion resistant steel so they last a long time. All I can say is cut a piece off and test it (spark test, forge it, anneal, harden and temper. . .). Many abrasion resistant steels are high alloy but relatively low carbon. This makes them weldable but very difficult to drill, machine or even grind. Although they are very tough the hardness is not the type that makes good cutting tools. . .

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK SAE LIST: Please use these as a guideline only. They were recommended steels in the 1950's! Many people have taken the grades listed as gospel truth and often do not look close enough to realize that more than one steel is listed for specific uses. Since that list was first published thousands of new steels have been developed. When using found or scrap materials you have to determine its suitability for use based on your sample in hand.

-- guru Sunday, 11/28/99 15:48:46 GMT

I'm in London, England and I am 14. I wan't to learn to be a blacksmith. So if anyone knows of any ways I can learn,or take courses etc. in London can they contact me please.

Tom Davidson -- Tom_ass at Sunday, 11/28/99 21:33:32 GMT

Tom, Contact BABA (see our links page). The British Artist Blacksmith Association will help you meet other smiths and help find schools or those willing to teach.

-- guru Sunday, 11/28/99 22:59:45 GMT

I have to give a bid on the historic replication of a large number of pieces of hardware. The commissioners have requested costs estimates based on using both mild steel and wrought iron. So, my question is . ... Does anyone have a source for new wrought iron of various dimensions?

Roger Carlsen -- ephraimforge at Monday, 11/29/99 03:01:34 GMT

WROUGHT IRON: Roger, various places that produce wrought have come and gone. The last one "The Real Wrought Iron Co." couldn't be contacted the last time I tried. They imported from the U.K. Used wrought is available at $1/lb USD in large bars. You would have to reduce it down from approximatly 3/4" x 4". By the time you ship it and reduce it you may be talking $5 - $10/lb before making something of it. Stainless steel or bronze would be cheaper.

Caches of wrought CAN be found. Rarely do you get a choice of size. 1" square is very common. Old merchant bar was typicaly 1 x 2 or 1.25 x 2.5. Those who collect it often buy old wrought iron fence, that ugly loop and picket stuff made of 1/2" round - yep a LOT of it is wrought. For this type material add hundreds of hours for searching.

I may be wrong but I think you are endangering your livelyhood quoting wrought.

-- guru Monday, 11/29/99 03:38:21 GMT

REPRODUCTIONS: Years ago a friend of mine was making reproduction Colonial American lighting devices for antique dealers. Forged all over and beautifully forge welded. VERY good reproductions. The antique dealers were taking them out and using the chlorox bleach rusting technique on them. Then he asked my friend to do the rusting. . . O.K. BUT THEN the dealer asked to have the reproductions made from wrought iron. . . THAT was the final straw! Aged reproductions are one thing but an expert could still tell the fake. Made of wrought it would have been virtualy impossible! My friend got out of the business. The dealer got someone else to do it. . . I'm told that several of those fakes graced the covers of antiques magazines at one time.

There is no GOOD reason to have reproducions made in wrought. Except forgery.

-- guru Monday, 11/29/99 03:52:34 GMT

To the individual looking for information on the manufactured Wheelwright's Traveler. Mine is quite similar to the one that was described. It is identified with raised letters "Wiley & Russell Mfg Co. Greenfield, Mass." I have no other information on it (like possibly years of manufacture). I hope this may be of some help.

Mark Kisner -- mekisner at Monday, 11/29/99 04:06:28 GMT

Guru--is there a golden rule that sez stove pipe or smoke stack has to be round?

jerry -- birdlegs at Monday, 11/29/99 04:55:37 GMT


I don't think there's any golden rule to that effect, but the word pipe indicates round. OTOH, most clay tile flue stack is rectangular or square.


Assuming there's enough support for the weight, would clay flue tile work for a forge? Or would it tolerate the higher temperatures?

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 11/29/99 05:04:21 GMT

hi guru, I picked up a #50 Little Giant that could use some new dies & was wondering if H13 (found some used stuff) would be a good choice for material? What hardness would the original dies have been? Does a 2'x3'x4'-6' hole filled with railroad ties on end & tamped with sand, covered with a 1" plate sound feasible for a base? The plate would have tie bolts down to the bottom of the ties & the hammer would bolt to the plate. Would an isolation pad still be necessary? Thanks muldoon

muldoon Monday, 11/29/99 05:13:32 GMT

Since John P. asked the question about the Little Giant "easy" I did some checking on serial numbers and found something interesting. The Kern book states that LG only made 395 "easy" power hammers. Yet this weekend I saw an "easy" with serial #9. Since John has #416 it would appear that Little Giant made more than 395. The book also states that the "easy" is the rarest LG which is not true. They only made 66 of the 500# model and at least one other model had numbers far below 395.

John, I sent you an email. I'll send it again.

Paul P. -- none Monday, 11/29/99 14:14:47 GMT

LG FOUNDATION: Muldoon, Good hearing from you! Sounds like a good foundation design. You might want to put some fabric or several layers of roofing felt between the steel plate and the wood to keep it from ringing. You may also find it benificial under the hammer as the base is as-cast and may not be as flat as you think. The OEM foundation is about that size in concrete (a little over kill for a 50# hammer). The point of the seperate pads is to isolate it from your building. I've run 50# LG's just setting on a concrete garage floor without a problem. That 500# Chambersburg on the Power hammer Page is just sitting on the floor. . . Does tend to rattle the walls a bit. Anything precariously placed on a shelf may not stay there :)

GRADER BLADE II: From John N., Grader blade needs to be annealed after working it, experiments here at Entropy Research reveal.

I made some big bending tools for turning big angle iron into circles
the hard way and the "easy" way, simply oxy-acetylene cutting them, one with an F-shaped fork end, the other a paddle with an L-shaped cut-out, and a vise tool with a big X in it. Without annealing, the first one, I forget which, snapped under stress. The torch had caused it to air-harden, I guess. Annealed the new version and the others, and they have held up fine.

-- guru Monday, 11/29/99 14:40:38 GMT

THE KERN BOOK: Data included there was the best he could determine from what was left of the records of a company that had gone out of business and while in business had changed ownership several times. Undoubtedly there are gaps in the records. There are also models that are not identified as seperate models.

Among 25# Little Giants there are the common models made along the same lines as the other hammers and THEN there are heavy duty models with a cast wrap around guide system and sow block (see the AFC edition of the NEWS for a picture of one).

Many Little Giants have been modified by users with the addition of a brake, many of which look as good as a factory job. Then there are those with front guards. . . Folk art? Americana?
H-13: Muldoon, Sorry I missed that part of you question! Yes H-13 makes very good Power Hammer dies. Currently that is what they use on the BULL. Those dies are machined, heattreated and then welded (with a LOT of preheat) to a mild steel base. Latrobe steel sells a heattreated version of H-13 under the trade name Viscount-44. The 44 is the Rockwell hardness. This steel is sold as die steel that is machinable (just barely) with ordinary machine tools. As heattreated it is a nice plum color. Our family machine shop used quite a bit of this material to avoid heat treating parts. H-13 is an air hardening steel. I would draw it back to just short of annealed for small hammer dies.

-- guru Monday, 11/29/99 15:03:07 GMT

FLUE TILE: Terracota tiles are not good for high temperatures if you are talking about building a gas forge. In your flue all they do is provide a smooth surface with less joints than brick.

SHAPE OF FLUE: Old stone chimineys had mostly ovoid flues. These gracefuly flowed from one fieplace around another eventualy merging together. Brick fireplace flues are mostly rectangular as that is the efficient shape when building with brick. Big factory flues have been square but most are round today. I suspect round is slightly more efficient for flow as the smoke tends to rotate and square results in dead corners. The most important thing when building a forge flue is that is is big enough. 12" diamater is a good minimum, 14" (square) is often recommended.

-- guru Monday, 11/29/99 15:17:43 GMT

Flue tile chimneys:

Mine consists of a ceramic 6 1/2" round opening (or "stove mount")in the wall, about 12" deep and about 8" above the back of the forge. This leads to the chimney flue, about 6 1/2" square and lined with flue tile the length of the chimney. The chimney is 9' tall from that point, and extends 1'9" above the roof ridge, about 2 1/2' to the side of the ridge. The good news: I never had any trouble with the chimney in terms of the heat generated by the forge. The bad news: the chimney didn't draw worth a (Australian euphemism) until I added six feet of 12 inch round metal stove chimney on top of that. Square flue tile works well for brick and block structures, and square metal ductwork/chimneys lend themselves to certain architectural situations. Round is more material efficient, and lacks corners that may cause turbulence or dead spaces in the rising column of hot gasses. I would say, given sufficient size and height, that the choice could be based on other architectural/practical factors.

Then again, maybe I should stick to history;-)

Sunny windy and colder on the banks of the Potomac. The last magnolia blossom outside my window is looking a little frost-bit.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Monday, 11/29/99 15:21:43 GMT

Have been using 8in sq ceramic flue tiles inside cement chminy blocks on my brick forge since 82, no problems yet, but then I don't light a fire very often anymore. BTW side draft construction, bends flame 90deg no smoke.

kid -- n/a Monday, 11/29/99 16:47:31 GMT

I'm a beginner to blacksmithing, but would like to learn more about making irons for carriages, axles, bolts, straps etc, can you offer any resources or good books?

Chris Meyers -- christopher.meyers at Monday, 11/29/99 18:02:47 GMT

need info: on my air hammer i am building, the "hammer" is a 6 inch rail road rail. question is what shape should it be flat or rounded?

james wolfe -- jwolfe at Monday, 11/29/99 23:37:48 GMT

Guru, I am starting out in blacksmithing and recently got my hands on an anvil. My question is when I did a hammer ring test on the anvil I got a good bounce about 3" when dropped from a height of 10" However when I tried this on the end opposite the horn I got a dull thud and no noticeable bounce. What if anything can I do to corrtect this? I don't now the make of the anvil, the only thing on the side of the anvil is the number 70 this is on both sides of the anvil. Thanks for any help.

Burt -- burtonbenson at Tuesday, 11/30/99 00:05:22 GMT

Regarding Uri hammers, cut one down, I guess I was working way to hard on this project. Hmmm, let me see hours of forging or 15 mn. under the saw, I'll have to think about it. Thanks a lot, sometimes I can't see the forest for the Hammer handles. Mike

Mike Sweany -- sweanym1 at Tuesday, 11/30/99 00:31:58 GMT

Burt, That is normal, horn and heal don't rebound much due to the flexibility of the anvil. That's why all your heavy pounding should be in the middle where the body supports the face.

Welcome to the wonderful world of IRON! Glad you found anvilfire!
AIR HAMMER: James, die faces can be flat or curved. For small work a slight radius on both dies is best. This is primarily for drawing out. Universal hammer dies are half flat and half curved in mating pairs. The BULL hammer site has a very nice drawing of various die types.

In all cases the edges of your dies should have a healthy radius. This helps prevent chipping of dies and produces smoother work. Your RR-Rail is fairly high carbon steel and I've found it best to oil quench it.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/30/99 01:32:11 GMT

thanks for the reply. I haven't been on much lately due to mundane tasks like trying to make a living. Oh for a lottery win :)I agree that LG foundation size is overkill but I'm setting up a new blacksmith shop with a dirt floor so need the size to sit the hammer on. Still no snow & lots of days are above freezing which is good as I'm doing foundation work still. Catch you later muldoon

muldoon -- mullock at Tuesday, 11/30/99 02:18:11 GMT

As the editor of a chapter newsletter, I was sent the following request for help in pricing an anvil. I would appreciate any input you might have that would help me give him a good answer. Here is his request:
"I need some help in trying to come up with a fair price on an anvil that a friend of mine needs to sell in a hurry. He is low
on cash and I offered to buy his Trenton anvil. It is 300-350 lbs and is in very good to excellent condition. I want to give him a fair price yet not rip myself off. He will probably buy it back from me in a year or more. But, still you know how these things can go. I would rather strike a fair deal if I end up having to keep it."
I'm assuming he's in the Rocky Mountain region as that's where I am.
Thanks in advance.

Julie -- forgingahead at Tuesday, 11/30/99 05:16:41 GMT

PRICE OF ANVIL: Julie, Small used anvils are selling for an average of $2.50 US/pound and reach highs of $4.00 US. Larger anvils such as the 350# are rarer and should sell for more but tend to go for less. $700 - $800 US would not be too high. However, they often sell for less if someone is in a hurry. Generaly you can get at least $2/pound if you can wait until the next chapter meeting or hammer-in.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/30/99 06:12:49 GMT

where can I get kao wool or ceramic fiber insulation in a small quantity?

steve eudy -- sceudy at Tuesday, 11/30/99 17:54:02 GMT

Kao-Wool etc in small amounts can be gotten from ceramic supply stores, tho it is usually kinda spendy. If you can locate some smiths in your area, they may have some, or several of you could split the cost of a larger amount of wool.
Where are you at in general terms?

Ralph -- ralphd at Tuesday, 11/30/99 18:20:03 GMT

KAOWOOL: Steve, Ralph, Recently Paw-Paw picked up some Kaowool from a heating and air conditioning supplier. It was in the form of a boiler burner relining kit.

NOTE: Kaowool is a one word trademark of Babcock & Wilcox Co. describing synthetic ceramic "kaolin" wool blanket.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/30/99 18:58:36 GMT

Hi Guru. I was referred here from another site. Perhaps you can help me. I've been blacksmithing for about a year now, learning what I can by trial and error mostly. I am in the sign business and have been making a lot of scroll brackets, among other things. I've been using an oxy-acetyline cutting torch as my forge and It's getting mighty old. I'm looking into getting a gas forge, but I don't know how to choose one which will suit my needs best. I've heard the whisper series is reliable, but I have no other info. I have the Centaur forge catalog, and that's about where it ends. I don't do horses, so I'm looking for something safe, reliable, not too expensive(up to $600 or so) that will grow with me as I learn more about forging. I haven't visited your site before, and I'm not sure where to find the answer to this query. I'd sure appreciate it if you could email me to point me in the right direction. Thanks for your help, everyone I've run across since I started learning has been so generous with their time. It is appreciated. - Rick

Rick -- hellersign at Tuesday, 11/30/99 19:29:24 GMT

I have just made my first damascus out of cable and need to know do I have to anneal it before i make it into a knife or can it be worked just like it is?

Henry -- hgeiger at Tuesday, 11/30/99 19:30:36 GMT

Hi guru. Idiot Rick just figured out that those little arrows on the right will allow him to scroll down and see all the postings. AMAZING.
You can just post any info you have for me. The E-mail isn't required.
Thanks again, Rick.

Rick -- hellersign at Tuesday, 11/30/99 19:35:23 GMT

RICK, Not too long ago a seasoned US government computer office worker wrote me that he had figured out he could "cut and paste" web addresses from text (like here) up to the window on his browser!

Try this,
click on the log window above,
press CTRL-F (thats control "F" the keys together - for Find)
then type in NC-TOOL and enter.

If you start at the top of the listing there are several postings (4 I think) and one link to a review! Its been an NC-TOOL forge month!
Tommarow or later this week this page will be archived. Click on the archive button below and pick the month. We have been archiving every two weeks. Next month it will be every 10 days due to the amount of traffic.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/30/99 20:23:12 GMT

CABLE DAMASCUS: Henry, If you forged it or you made a blank and you are going to do a lot of hand work (grinding and filing) it should be annealed. If you are going to continue to forge it then there is not much point in annealing it. When done forging you should "normalize". That is similar to annealing but doesn't require as slow a cooling period.

Remember that once you welded all those strands together the billet is similar to tool steel and will not like thermal shocks or to be worked at too high OR low a heat.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/30/99 20:48:13 GMT


A while back(5years ago) before I got real interested in forging iron, I worked for a company that built and operated sulfuric acid reprocessors. We used a LOT of kaowool. I wish I knew then what I would want now!

ralph -- ralphd at Tuesday, 11/30/99 20:48:31 GMT

Guru..thanks for the response on grader blade. I will take your advise and forge, aneal, heat treat and temper a small piece to see if it is suitable for cutting tools.

Kaowool..Look in the yellow pages or internet for Refractory dealers in your area. I found one in Jacksonville Fla, and they had a box of "scrap" wool which I gladly gave $20 for. That was 2 years ago and I still have "scraps" to reline my forge.

Randall Guess -- rdguess at Tuesday, 11/30/99 22:34:00 GMT

We are reslating our church steeple, the old top was junk 80+ years old. Where can we find or have made in the next month a new top? We would like either a cross or an ornate globe. Copper? Brass? We don't want any rust, but don't mind if it turns green.

Tom Fuller -- fullertw at Tuesday, 11/30/99 23:02:09 GMT

I tried forging some brass for the first time and it started to crumble when I tried squaring the rod. Did I have it too hot or cold? Does it show a certain color when at forging temp? Thanks for the help and information.

jdickson -- TheIrony at Tuesday, 11/30/99 23:51:06 GMT

Fayetteville Georgia has Gardner Sheet Metal. The owners grandfather made the dome on the State Capitol building. I know, he was my great grandfather. They can do ornamental work. Talk to Chris.

Chris -- crimsonkil at Wednesday, 12/01/99 00:55:53 GMT

I get my kaolin cheap from boiler repair shops.

Chris -- crimsonkil at Wednesday, 12/01/99 00:58:04 GMT

BRASS: JD, Most brass bar is leaded screw machine stock. The lead makes it machine easy and reduces wear on tools. When you heat leaded brass the lead seperates and the metal crumbles. It CAN be forged but it must be forged at the low end of the range. You are almost annealing and cold working it. Likewise if you work too cold you get a core tear or shear and the work goes all to pieces.

The only commonly available stock I could find was brazing rod. Its available up to 3/8" diameter but few suppliers stock it. That means buying a 50 or 100 pound container. .

For small work like bronze rams head pokers I used 1/4" round, forged pieces then braze/welded them together, forged some more and then filed and polished. I also designed some nice chandeliers made of 1/4" rod twisted together. Polished brass basket twists are show stoppers too.

When heated with a clean torch flame the brass flushes a slight white just as it reaches forging heat. In the dark it may be a dull red. . .

-- guru Wednesday, 12/01/99 01:13:07 GMT

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