WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.
This is an archive of posts from November 25 - 30, 2001 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

VIRUS WARNING! A nasty virus is going around among our group. Beware of mail with attachments and no body message. The current virus mail has a leading underscore in all the return addresses I have seen as in:

_username at computer.net

Delete the attachments DO NOT run them. Most of the attachments have double extensions IF you can see them in your mailer. Most are MP3 and scr files. If you are running an UNPATCHED version of MS-Outlook or Internet Explorer it is too late. These viruses run automaticaly by just looking at the mail.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/25/01 05:10:15 GMT

VIRUS IDENTIFIED: Jack Davis tells me it is

W32.Badtrans.B at mm

symantec.com W32.Badtrans.B at mm

Trend Micro BadTrans

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/27/01 23:01:36 GMT

The angle iron faces on a vise are good for a sacrifice surface when you have to work with chisels near the vise..also, being removable, they allow you to weld on any fixtures you may want for a specific job.
Ed; The original Yellin finish was linseed oil and beeswax applied hot I think. Sand blasting etches the surfaces and rounds the features but is good for paint. Be careful of a wax remover that can get into the joints of the work and leave them without protection. They can hold moisture and rust quickly. I'd used scrapers with rounded edges on the blades to remove the buildup. This would be the traditional answer to your Question...but the Good Guru has a persuasive argument.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 11/25/01 05:51:04 GMT

ED, RE: Removing built up oil. Try "MR.Muscle" oven cleaner. It's amazing stuff. Still going to take LOTS of hand labor. Good luck.
   bob - Sunday, 11/25/01 17:27:06 GMT

Rivets. Another source for rivets. www.bigflatsrivet.com for online catalog.
   bob - Sunday, 11/25/01 20:45:18 GMT

Josh I have been using some titanium for liners, bolsters, guards on such on knives. I have started into my own pattern welded steel and am curious about pattern welded titanium. I can not find reference to it anywhere and was wondering if you knew whether or not it can be done or is available anywhere?
   plain ol Bill - Sunday, 11/25/01 20:46:59 GMT

Josh I have been using some titanium for liners, bolsters, guards on such on knives. I have started into my own pattern welded steel and am curious about pattern welded titanium. I can not find reference to it anywhere and was wondering if you knew whether or not it can be done or is available anywhere?
   plain ol Bill - Sunday, 11/25/01 21:07:42 GMT

Non-Ferous Pattern Welding Bill, first it would have to be materials that are compatible and produce different colors or degrees of etch. . . Titainium and what?

Now. . in copper, brass, silver and gold you can make Mokume Gane', the Japanese non-ferrous patterned metal. This is a brazing/soldering type process rather than welding. A stack of clean metal plates is made and clamped together between two steel plates. Then the whole is heated in an oven until the lowest temperature laminate reaches the fusing point (just below melting). Then the stack is treated like laminated steel. It is cut (areas removed) to produce patterns and rolled or forged flat. The metal can be used polished, etched or colored. The laminate is often worked cold and then annealed from time to time as non-ferrous materials are normaly.

   - guru - Sunday, 11/25/01 21:26:28 GMT

I am 37 years old and I have been a welder/iron worker for the past 16 years. I also have a little experience using Kasnite for heat treating and hardening small parts. I was wondering what is the best form of carbon and stainless steels to start with when making combat ready swords and knives. My son and I are interested in starting our own business in blacksmithing specializing in weaponry. We are located in south central Indiana near Bloomington. Thank you.
   alan brazzel - Monday, 11/26/01 00:27:22 GMT

Guru. a while ago there was some back and forth posting of a "perfect" list for show projects I have looked in the arcives but can't seem to find it. any sugestions for serch values?

   Mark Parkinson - Monday, 11/26/01 00:36:46 GMT


Thanks for your detailed 'rambling.' This is much to digest, and so I will try some tests and think about the options.

Also, thank you Gary for your removal suggestions. I will look at the meeker of those suggestions since this iron is installed over a marble walkway over a moat (don't want to kill the Koi you know).
   Ed Lamar - Monday, 11/26/01 02:31:17 GMT

I was wondering if anyone has used one of the scrollers sold at Harbor Freight. Or, if anyone can point me towards an inexpensive scroller.
   Lefty - Monday, 11/26/01 03:27:47 GMT

Lefty...I think there are some plans here at anvilfire..perhaps in the I-forge
   - Pete F - Monday, 11/26/01 04:30:53 GMT

Projects. . Hmmmmm going to be hard to pin point. Was quite a while back. Bill Epps says most of his iForge demo items sell well at Ren Fairs. A lot depends on the type of show and the season.

Dinner Bell Triangles sell well
Progressive sets of S hooks
Dust pans (see my iForge shovel demo)
Fire tool sets with matching brooms.
Candle sticks
Chimes and bells (I used to make cow bells)
Camp cook kits and tripods.

Small items like key fobs, letter openers and bottle openers with forged animal heads or other decorative terminations.

Whatever you make well OR perversly whatever you don't have in inventory. Items priced at less than $20 sell fastest in general but you should always have some high ticket items too.
   - guru - Monday, 11/26/01 06:06:56 GMT

Alan Brazzel, for combat ready swords, stay away from stainless, it just doesnt make good swords, springsteel makes decent swords, is available and relatively easy to heattreat, there are other usefull steels, usually more expensive and more sensitive in the heattreat.
the usefullness for any sword lies in the choice of steel and absolutely in the heattreat, for a good sword the heattreat has to be perfect, study!!!!!
   Stefan - Monday, 11/26/01 06:38:41 GMT

Sword Steel: Alan, Stainless generaly does not case harden. Only low alloy carbon steels case harden appreciably. There are few cutlery grade stainlesses. 440C is one. It will require professional heat treating. But I do not recommend it for a sword.

The majority of pretty swords are wall hangers and it doesn't matter what they are made of unless the collector wants something exotic. Even then that often means pattern welded steels that are more art than anything else. The few swords that are actualy USED, are used in mock combat and are relatively soft as well as dull. They are supposed to bounce off similar swords and not cut into them OR light armor. They are also not supprosed to break. A broken blade (even a dull soft one) flying loose can be fatal. Hard stainless tends to be brittle, soft (unhardenable) 304 SS is best for pretty rust free blades.

If you look CLOSE at sword movies the ones USED are dull, soft and get beat to pieces. Most of these are medium carbon steel for strength and tempered soft. The shiney sharp ones shown in closeups are never used for anything but stills and non-combat scenes. In film this changes from second to second and in realy good films you shouldn't believe what you see. In movies even the pretty swords are often soft 304 SS or even ALUMINIUM! Aluminium swords polish up like silver and are light to carry. They are often used for broad swords in movie combat because the lighter weight is less like using a sledge hammer on the opponent. A great deal of the time the actors carry rubber swords to keep from getting hurt.

The various groups using swords have guidelines for required dullness (edge flat or radius) and maximum hardness. In some countries it is illegal to sell a sword with a sharp edge. Your potential customers will set the rules (or should know them).

If an idiot asks you to make a sword that will cut through a gun barrel or slice silk scarves, walk away (they are modern myths). Or if they want somthing absolutely lethal with no collectors value, then RUN away unless you want to be involved in a murder. Know your customer. I would turn down anyone asking for what you specified, a "combat ready sword". For what war?

As Stefan pointed out, STUDY! The art of the armourer is the most technical of the blacksmithing field. You need to know your alloys, their heat treating and applications. There is also some engineering (structures and strength of materials) required of the designer. The top people in this field have masters and doctorates (or the equivalent) in metalurgy and engineering.
   - guru - Monday, 11/26/01 06:50:20 GMT

I would like some info. about petroleum coke, and does it do well in a forge. Thanks J.W.Beaird, Tyler T.x.

   J. W. Beaird - Monday, 11/26/01 07:56:18 GMT

Mokume-gane. A clarification? I have been sharing with my people that non-ferrous mokume-gane is more akin to forge welding (solid state bonding) than soldering, since there is no solder introduced during the process.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/26/01 13:22:16 GMT

Can you give me an overview of the process of enameling (glassy coating) steel. Will ceramic glaze work. Thanks, Bob.
   bob - Monday, 11/26/01 13:54:18 GMT

Bob, Enameling steel or iron is basically melting the enamel on the CLEAN hot steel or iron. Applying flux for forge welding is not unlike enameling. Borax is a large part of many frits. The enamel can be applied in a number of ways. Dipping, dry spraying, wet spraying or sifting it on are common. The expansion coefficient of the enamel must be a little lower than the base material or it will craze. If the expansion rate of the enamel is too low, you can get too much compressive stress in the enamel and it will pop off in spots. I used to work at a plumbing products manufacturer and was familiar with the pottery glazing and cast iron enameling as well as the frit making. The base material (frit) for both the pottery and the cast iron was similar. But the additives were different. I don't know that all ceramic glazes will work, but try a little? Possibly an intermediate ground coat will allow it to work. One of the big craft places may be able to help if someone here doesn't know more.
   Tony - Monday, 11/26/01 14:46:31 GMT

Mokume-gane' Frank, I think it depends on the alloys involved and how you define the joint. When you oven braze inserts into lathe tool holders it is a brazed joint. When you join other metals with silver the joint is "silver soldered". However, under certain conditions brazing is called "braze welding" and if you melt and fuse silver with silver its welding but if a low temperature melting silver alloy is used to join higher temperature silver it is called silver soldering (not welding).

Mokume-gane' is (at least in modern practice) an oven brazing technique (when brass is used) and oven silver soldering when silver is used. I don't have a clue how joints using gold would be defined but I suspect it depends on the other metals.

I always define forge welding as a joint that needs to be mechanicaly shaped in the process of forming the weld. I'm not sure how roll welding (used in clading) is defined relative to forge welding but I think it can be called either. In Mokume-gane the joint is finished when it is removed from the oven or kiln. Subsequent forging and rolling have nothing to do with making the joint.

Or it may be as simple as, you weld similar metals but you braze or solder dissimilar metals. A joint between two pieces of steel joined with silver is never called a weld, it is always a silver soldered joint. . .

However, there is a high tech method of bonding disimilar metals called "pressure welding" where two ultra clean pieces are fused together without external heat by pressure alone in a vacuume. But I think this is the exception to the general terms.

If you want real confusion I described a process I called The LaGrange-Hoho-Dempsey-Mokume-Gane Process. In this (untested) process the steel alloys for a "Damascus" billet is prepared, cleaned and stacked between clamping plates as in the Mokume-Gane process. However, ceramic insulators isolate the plates from the billet. The billet is attached to an electrical lead and the stack welded in the LaGrange-Hoho "water pail forge" where an electrolyte makes up the other contact in the electrical circuit.

If the process works correctly the billet is welded without mechanical deformation by hammering OR rolling. The joint is welded but is it "forge welded"? Neither a forge (in the classic sense) or forging is used.

The LaGrange-Hoho-Dempsey-Mokume-Gane Process is just another one of my many un-funded R&D projects. . If anyone is interested in funding the research let me know.
   - guru - Monday, 11/26/01 16:02:19 GMT

Petroleum Coke: J.W., I suspect it depends on the density of the coke and the level of volitiles (if any). Most foundry coke is very low volitile (0% I think) and high density (relative to natural coke). Even though foundry coke is porous it is compressed and much higher density than coke made naturaly in the forge. The result is that it is difficult to keep foundry coke burning in a forge. It requires a high heat from a constant air blast to remain ignited. As soon as the air is removed the fire goes out. Natural coke usualy has some volitiles or uncoked coal attached that helps keep the fire going. Its lower density also allows it to burn freely in air where foundry coke will not.

For many that want to try foundry coke the biggest problem is the standard size lump is too large for the forge. Breaking it up can be dificult and costly in manhours. I've had some foundry coke "breeze" that was more along the size of pea or stoker coal. It still did not work well in the forge.

There ARE places that sell coke specificaly for smithing. That is all they use at the Calgary Stampede. But this is not foundry coke. I have no specifics on suppliers or specs.
   - guru - Monday, 11/26/01 16:15:32 GMT

Mokume/forge welding
I have been reading the discussion of forge welding and mokume production with great interest and would like to add what I have leaned in the world of academia. The following iformation was taken from the thesis of a Ph.D student (whose name I can't remember) but who studied under Oleg Sherby at Stanford (I think). Anyway-Sherby has done a great deal of study on "diffusion bondingj"/forge welding. What has been found is that bonding takes place on the atomic level. When the atoms of one surface get close enough to the atoms of another suface, there is atomic atraction. For this to occur, the surfaces must be very clean and very flat. So in theory, as the guru mentioned, you could join (forge weld) at room temperature, given that you had a perfectly clean surface free of all oxides and that surface was atomically flat. This of course is never the case. When forge we have realativly heavy oxidation. To overcome this flux is used to get rid of the oxide and high temperature and pressure (hammering) force the now clean surfaces into contact. That is the basic theory of forge wellding.
As was mentioned above in another post, there are two methods of making mokume. One is almost exactly like forge welding in that there is now liquid metal present. Bonding takes place due to heat and pressure. In the second method, a liquid is formed when the eutectic temperature of an alloy is reached. For example, there is a copper/silver alloy with a melting temperature lower that that of either copper or silver. So when copper and silver sheets are placed in contact and heated, a copper silver alloy will form at the interface creating a bond if you get the billet out of the furnace before the rest of it melts.
For a really good description of making mokume see MOKUME GANE by Steve Midgett. For info on forge welding see stuff by Oleg Sherby or Tylecote.
   Patrick - Monday, 11/26/01 17:20:12 GMT

Dear guru, I am a highschool student who is currently attending a shop class there i have been making a mirror frame out of plate metal. once i color the frame with a torch, i use a crystal clear laquer watter proof and rust proof the metal frame. and usually after three or so months tiny spots of rust start to appear under the clear laquer coat. any suggestions on how to remedy this problem would be helpful.
   chris - Monday, 11/26/01 17:33:53 GMT

I forgot to address the issue forgewelding titanium. I don't think that it can be done in a conventional forge. In the book I mentioned by steve Midget, one Ian Ferguson from Australia has boned titanium to a variaty of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, but he is using a vaccum furnace in conjuction with a hydraulic press. So if you have access to a university materials science lab you could probably do it, but that is probably the only way. Besides, you would not want titanium in the blade of a knife.
   Patrick - Monday, 11/26/01 17:36:09 GMT

I'm trying to find some helpful info. about laying out spiral stairs, stairs, etc. Any hints? How can I contribute to Anvilfire? This is an excellent site. Thanks a lot.
   - Kevin - Monday, 11/26/01 18:24:11 GMT


Part one, check the archives and use the search feature. I *THINK* there was a discussion about spiral stairs some time back. I won't swear to it though.

Part two, One easy way to support Anvilfire is to join Cyber Smiths International. There's a link at the bottome of this page.

   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 11/26/01 18:54:22 GMT

Rust Specks: Patrick, There are a number of problems.

One is that many clear coat "lacquers" are not water barriers. Acrylic is a fair water barrier but may other plastics used in clear coats are not. These absorb water and oxygen from the air and the result is rust under the coating. Polycarbonate (Lexan) is a great water absorber. So is Nylon.

The second problem is heating the metal. This creates a whole series of oxides that until you reach an even grey scale are not finished oxidizing. Often one color oxide will convert to another without much external influence other than a little atmospheric oxygen. Fine scale often generates dust that oxidizes rapidly forming red oxide rust.

A third problem is dirt and contaminates. How was the metal cleaned before coating? If you handled it with bare hands then there is salt on the surface. For oxide finishes to hold up the surface of the metal must be absolutely clean before oxidation and again before sealing. If the coating is not a true seal (wrong plastic, pin holes) then its going to rust. Bits of oil on the surface may have caused thin spots in the coating where the rust is occuring. If any silicones were on the surface (silicon oil, wax, grease) then there will be no coating on those spots OR pin holes in the finish.

In general clear coating bare metal is a bad idea. But when it is done the right clear coat must be used over a properly prepared surface. Even brass darkens under a good lacquer job over time. It is best to completely paint ferrous metal with the proper primers and a top coat. The top coat can be applied such that it looks very nearly like what ever you were trying to achieve. A combination of a gun metal grey metalic (in touchup spray cans) and black either misted on to show the shadows or rubbed on in a varnish may come close to what you were trying to achieve. And not rust.
   - guru - Monday, 11/26/01 19:45:41 GMT

Guru, Paw Paw, Pete F. and Matt: Thank you all for the chime tips. Guru, you said to remind you to look for the "formula" for rough cutting the chime lengths. Please consider this a gentle nudge.
Thanks again.
   Christine - Monday, 11/26/01 19:48:09 GMT

Spiral Stairs: Hmmmm I think there is a FAQ on that on the 21st Century page. . Yep.

Spiral Stairways

There may be more in the archives but this is the most recent stuff.
   - guru - Monday, 11/26/01 19:49:03 GMT

Chimes Christine, I found SOME info but not exactly what I wanted. Roughly.

1) A beginning note in a series can start at almost ANY random frequency. That is unless you plan on playing with other instruments tuned to a standard. In that case you need a darn good ear OR a sophisticated oscilloscope to hit the right frequency(s).

2) Technicaly a gong made from a welding cylinder is a bell. Bells have numerous overtones and the classic bell shape is designed to balance these into a pleasant sound. There is no one true frequency for a bell so tuning is tricky. Most bells are tuned to the first major overtone.

3) In cylinder bells the top hemisphere is a null (it doesn't add to the sound). When comparing the sounding length of two bells the null part is discounted. This is approximately 3/4 of the hemisphere. So you measure length from the lower part of the bell's "shoulder". You estimate this on your first bell, tune the second exactly an octave higher then itterate the exact point.

4) Once you have your first bell the others can be made in proportionate lengths based on the "standard". In just intonation (pure notes) these lengths are fractional based on whole numbers. This series is 17/18, 15/16, 7/8, 3/5, 3/4, 5/8, 1/2 (see series below). In standard western tempered notation (like a piano and modern guitar) the steps are even multiples of the 12th root of 2 (1.059463094359...) or its reciprical (0.94387431268..)

Where I am having trouble is finding the correct way to apply the fractions. In the case of strings it is straight length but in tubes I THINK a square root is stuck in the ratio/formula.

What this means is that in a string 1/2 length = next octave. But in tubes and bars you use the square root of the ratio. . . . I think. I'm still looking and actual research does me no good because I am tone deaf. . Or at least I can't tell one note from another. :(

The best I can tell is that
L2 = SQR(a/b) * L1

L1 is your standard or starting point.
L2 is your goal.

a/b is your ratio of notes. Using this series where L1 (your longest gong/bell = 2/1)

15/8, 16/9, 5/3, 8/5, 3/2, 4/3, 5/4, 6/5, 9/8, 16/15, 1/1

That is an octave set.

As Pete mentioned, cut long and then trim to tune. The shorter the tube the higher the note. If you go too short save the piece for the next note and start again.

I'm sorry I have not had time to proove the above math. Four years ago when I was doing research on musical instruments I could have spit it out and sworn to its accuracy.

September Archive with Twelth Root of Two
   - guru - Monday, 11/26/01 21:10:44 GMT

More on Bells: Christine, if your friend makes the set we would like to know the dimensions and how it came out.

More on Tuning: As I mentioned an oscilloscope is about the only way to match an exact frequency. However almost any other standard instrument can be used to help tune another. As mentioned above, make bell #1 then make one an octave higher. This will prove your calculations and the null fudge factor.

I have an old HS band Glockenspiel that needs rebuilding. The plan was to take it apart, carefully weigh and measure each bar and apply the standard math to it comparing the theoretical to the as-built. I got as far as testing several bars to see if the theoretical math fit (IT DID). I also applied the theoretical to tuning forks and it worked but the NULL is a factor that needs iteration as above. What all this proved is that for simple vibrators you could predict the exact frequency from the theoretical.

Sadly all this is burried in my old PC and in note books and slips of paper. . . Most of it was not formalized so it is difficult to dig out today. If I had thought it would apply to blacksmithing I would have taken better care to file it.
   - guru - Monday, 11/26/01 21:22:57 GMT

Could you please give me some idea of what a Nazel 2B power hammer would sell for. Around 1940 model in working condition.
   Garry - Monday, 11/26/01 23:45:26 GMT

Nazel Prices: Garry, the smaller models (1B and 2B) that compare to the Kuhn's in capacity are a very sought after machine and demand high prices. Even machines with a lot of wear sell for well over $10,000 USD. The 1B's sell for more than the 2B's and the bigger hammers sell for less and less as you go up. Crazy world. You can buy three 3B's for what one little 1B will cost you.

When the Chineses machines hit the market many folks thought that Nazel prices would drop. However, they have not and the demand is just as high.

These were the finest self contained hammer made. They had much better control than the Chambersburg (that the Chinese hammers are modeled after) and were very heavily made. They seem to run forever. . . However, nothing runs forever. But on the other hand many of these machine were purchased and almost never operated. They were bought for government labs, schools and maintenance shops.

If you don't hurt one or improve one while using it you can almost always get your money out of a Nazel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/27/01 01:19:19 GMT

Greetings. I have a funky question reguarding the interfacing of MIG welders and paint cans. I keep several colors of PPG alkyd paint to touch up my railing jobs every couple years. I think everyone has opened a two year old can of paint and had to peel out the nasty skin inside.. So, what if we gave the paint can a blast of CO2-Argon from the old Millermatic? It's "inert gas", right? Would this protect the paint longer? Maybe i'm sniffing too much xylene, and need to change my resperator filter....
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 11/27/01 03:11:56 GMT

So while I was toshing on the streets of D.C. a few months ago, what should I come upon but a small plastic bucket of about four dozen carbide tipped steel fittings that they use to grave the streets before repaving. They are about 3" (75mm) long with a flange and about a 3/4" (20mm) shank with a bushing to fit into the road graving machine. Since our gravel road doesn't lend itself to scoring, can anybody think of anything useful for these items? I was contemplating maybe some sort of a bob punch, but I remember Jock cautioning about carbide.

I hate to waste anything, and these were unused. (They'd finished repaving the street the previous week and left them behind.)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/27/01 03:27:10 GMT

As Tony notes there is a thermal expansion problem with steel and enamel. There is an undercoat enamel that is usually used with enameled steel, a separate firing, that helps a lot. On thin steel or over larger areas it may also be prudent to enamel both sides to keep it from pulling.
Many of the older enamels were lead based and had better colors but I think you cant get them in the states anymore.
Bruce; I have a couple of assorted carbide tools that are now hotwork punches that I use under the treadle hammer..if nothing else, the braising fails after a while on the braised type. They are pretty blunt shapes so it probably doesn't prove much except the ball shape has stayed shiny with use.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 11/27/01 06:40:48 GMT

Dear Guru. I am very interested in learning to Blacksmith. I live in Plymouth Mass. but can't find any training. I tried the local high schools and asked them to teach me welding and metal fab. they laughed and said no. I have a couple community colleges left to try. Since I work nights, I've been offering to work days (for peanuts) at any place I can find that works metal. Closest I got was to work shipping/receiving. (didn't think I'd actually see anyone working metal) I have a couple places left to try, but they're getting pretty far from where I live. I called Cape Cod School of Blacksmithing. Their phone is out and e-mail is undeliverable. I haven't found any other school listed that's not more than a couple hours away. I was even going to go to Plimoth Plantation and hang around every day till the resident Smith finally got sick of me and agreed to teach me, but they're closed till spring. (Which I will most likely do anyway next spring) I don't want anyone to do my "homework" for me, but I'm kinda' running out of options. About the only thing I have been able to do is read nearly every word on the Anvil fire site (seriously)and Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing cover to cover, Anvil's ring should be in today. Any thoughts you and the gang might have would be most appreciated. Egads man! This is PLYMOUTH. Someone must be repairing/recreating these nearly 400 year-old hinges and things. Thanks a bunch, Gronk
   - Gronk - Tuesday, 11/27/01 15:36:48 GMT

Inert Gas Cover: Mike, it sounds like a good idea that MIGHT work. You are now the official R&D man on this. Just be darn sure the power is off on the welder when you give it a squirt! An arc on the can of volitiles could be a disaster. . . I would use my TIG torch which has a manual valve and operates without power.

I've recommened something similar on using stainless foil for heat treating. A squirt of argon or argon/CO2 into the pack just before sealing to remove ALL the oxygen.

In both cases its the oxygen that does the damage.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/27/01 16:24:34 GMT

Carbide Bits: Bruce, in general carbide is not good for the high temperatures of forging. As Pete pointed out if the cobalt melts the tool crumbles. It is also very brittle and chips. It IS NOT forgable.

The worse thing about carbide is if you get a piece embedded in your work its very difficult to get around other than grinding and not all grinding wheels cut carbide well.

There are many grades of carbide. In some the carbides them selves are different or a mixture (since they are powder metal). And the matrix (the cement that holds them together) can vary. Cobalt is most common. All sintered carbides are very similar but each has a slightly different character and best application. Its a complicated subject that I avoid as I prefer to stick to HSS cutter bits for many practical reasons. I've also found that HSS makes lousy hot work tools too. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/27/01 16:34:10 GMT

Trouble Finding Help Learning: Gronk, New England is a funny place. There are quite a few smiths up there but there are few and small blacksmithing organizations. AND even though there are a lot of folks intrested in blacksmithiing today the vast majority are amatures or hobbiests. AND. . your demonstator in the local historic park may be less knowledgeable than many hobbiests.

This may seem to be a paradox but most historic sites hire someone with no skills, send them to a 1 week workshop at one of the blacksmithing schools and then put them in their poorly equiped demonstration shop with the instructions to put on a show. . . In most cases they are there to talk more than to work. They have no control over the tools in the shop and have no production or educational goals. Often the shop and forge were setup by a museum currator with no knowledge of a real working blacksmith shop. This is not true in ALL historic sites but I have seen many that this was the case. So don't get your hope up that the park demonstrator is a good person to teach blacksmithing.

Public and private trade schools are also a peculiar animal. Most are teaching what is needed by local industry OR what industry the locality is trying to attract. Today this largely means high-tech. There is also a gigantic loss of manufacturing jobs in the US (That loud whoshing sound Ross Perot warned everyone about). So there are fewer and fewer schools teaching welding.

In this case location means everything. Many blue collar industries have left the Northern US and moved to the "Sun Belt" because of unions in the North and the high cost of living. In the South there are few or weak unions and the cost of living is lower. That means cheaper labor. Of course here in the Sun Belt we are hearing that NAFTA whoshing sound a little louder than most places. Manual labor jobs that moved here from the North in the 1970's and 80's are now moving to Mexico and China. SO, even though there are still many public and private trade schools teaching metalwork in the South, the trend is toward high-tech.

I know, this does not help you. But all you can do is persever and keep working at it. But for many folks that means traveling great distances. When I started smithing in the 1970's the nearest working smith was 125 miles away (and we were both self taught). Later I heard of another but he was retired and had been a hobbiest prior to that. Today there are two smiths that I know of nearby. But both are happy working alone in their small shops, are not members of blacksmithing organizations and prefer not to deal with wannabes. To find blacksmithing organizations or other smiths involved in teaching I still have to travel over 100 miles or more. And this is in densely populated Virgina. However, there are places today in Virginia that have a relatively high density of smiths. But there are few if any that teach or feel comfortable teaching.

So, like many of us, you may need to be more self taught than you want. Or you will need to travel. A surprising number of smiths travel from the US to Europe and Europe to the US to get experiance in various shops. OR just to visit other shops to see what they are doing and learn as much as possible by just looking around. Within the US smiths often travel several hundred miles just to spend a day or a few hours at a chapter meet. OR just to say hello and chat a few hours (if the other fellow has the inclination and time).

Once you start finding contacts it will be like finding anvils or power hammers. . you will have more than you know what to do with. It just takes time and persistance.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/27/01 17:32:27 GMT

Inert gas
For what its worth ,I have seen in woodworkers catalogs somewhere a product for spraying in paint cans for preservation pourposes so co2 argon ought to work .
   aaron - Tuesday, 11/27/01 18:00:44 GMT

Re: Chimes. Wow! Will pass your info on. Don't know what my friend's timeframe is (probably later rather than sooner) for making the chimes but will definitely post the dimensions and results when they are done.
Thanks again.
   Christine - Tuesday, 11/27/01 18:26:52 GMT

Chimes Christine, keep checking back. I may find the exact formulas. The above is a rough guide. Somewhere I have the information that will predict the exact note (frequency) of simple vibrators rather than just the relative lengths.


I am still getting a constant rain of the latest virus (a dozen or so an hour). It may not be PE_NIMDA as virus scans do not detect it. However, there are several other NEW viruses (e-mail worms) using the same ploy as NIMDA.

IF YOU USE Microsoft based mail then you are suseptable.
These NEW viruses do not need you to look at the attachment. Your Microsoft software thinking it is harmless backgound music launches it for you! Since new variations of these virus/worms come out every couple weeks anti-virus software is useless! ALL antivirus software looks for specific signitures in the virus file. All a virus author has to do is change one character in the signiture and it is a "NEW" virus.

ANTI-VIRUS software does NOT stop new viruses it only detects old ones. Microsoft software (Interner Explorer and Outlook Express) help spread the viruses due to grossly bad design. To prevent your Microsoft software from spreading viruses you must "patch" your software. The "latest" versions ARE NOT patched. Microsoft claims no responsibility for the security holes and only offers patches as solutions under great duress instead of fixing the problems. This means you are on your own.

If you use MS IE or OE for e-mail and have not patched them and learned how to turn off all the automatic features that spread viruses then YOU are part of the problem just as much as the virus authors (and Microsoft). Both learning how to fix the problems and installing the patches is technical work. If you don't want to do these things or its too technical then STOP USING these programs!

This may be harsh but it is the truth. The problem grows worse daily and YOU must take action.

There are other options. Eudora Lite www.eudora.com/ is a fine FREE e-mail program (I use it) that does not automaticaly launch viruses. However, Eudora Pro has been exploited by a few viruses. Pegusus mail is another non-microsoft mail program. Pegusus is not as friendly as Eudora but has multi-user capability.

No matter what programs you use for e-mail today you must take responsibility for own protection. If you recieve an unexpected attachment or suspicious mail and open the attachment. . then it might be a virus and you've infected your computer. Then you will need to fix it. However, if you don't use Microsoft mail products then there is a good chance that you will not spread the virus. And if others did the same ???? Well, there would be no need for a discussion here about e-mail viruses. And you would have been less likely to have recieved virus infected mail.

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/27/01 19:40:25 GMT

MCMaster-Carr has 1 lb boxs or rivets in steel from 1/8 to 3/8 and in S.Steel from 3/32 to 5/16. they also cary brass and AL. and they carry 3 difernt head styles (round flat and counter sunk)
   MP - Tuesday, 11/27/01 21:07:37 GMT

Ahhhhh.... I forgot my favorite (non-advertising) source.

Aluminium rivets. . I have a box full of round head 1/4" x 1" (I think). . . Anyone need them?
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/27/01 21:27:31 GMT

Inert Gas
Many woodworking supply chain stores (and mail order houses), sell an aerosol can of inert gas, called Bloxygen. The product is a mixture of three, esentially, chemically inert gasses that are heavier than air. The gas is sprayed into a can of paint, varnish or any other product that will react with the oxygen in the air (and thus form a skin on the top of the liquid product). The inert gas forms a protective layer over the liquid and prevents the lighter air (above the inert gas), from coming into contact with the paint etc. Woodcraft Co. sells it as [roduct # 127965 www.woodcraft.com), Lee Valley Tools sells the same product under their trade name "finish preserve" (www.leevalley.com) I'm fairly certain that Rockler, Woodworker's Warehouse, Garret-Wade sell it too. A question comes to, what I choose to call, my mind. Namely, why is Bloxygen so expensive? I would be very surprised to learn that the concept is covered by a valid patent. I am certain that the concept was "discovered" long, long ago. Either nitrogen or argon gas, alone, should do as good a job as Bloxygen. Some of the smith's, on this web site may have access to either one of those gases. (it would be a much cheaper alternative). Also a medical supply house might supply a small bottle of the gas. (having a nurse as a spouse or girlfriend (boyfriend?), might be a cheaper source too.
In a pinch, I have generated carbon dioxide gas when I could not get ahold of the commercial product. (it is messy but a mixture of vinegar and baking soda will generate carbon dioxide).
Wine shops may also have the commercial product. A half consumed and corked bottle of wine will oxidise, so a shot of Bloxygen or equivalent saves the plonk. It may be a little cheaper at those stores than the woodworking stores. Please note that the gas will NOT work for any paint, etc. that cures by evaporation of an organic solvent such as acetone, petroleum distillates, m.e.c. (=butanone= methyl ethyl ketone), benzene, toluene, etc. P.S. you get no high sniffing Bloxygen, but it will preserve paint.
Regards to All, Slag.
   slag - Tuesday, 11/27/01 22:20:18 GMT

Inert Gases Then a striaght CO2 or CO2/Argon mix should work just fine. Note that lacquers, while they dry quickly due to loss of solvents also oxidize in the can. However, generaly they just dry due to badly sealed cans. Otherwise they keep for a long time compared to enamels. Enamels initialy dry due to evaporation but harden by oxidization as due all oil based paints.

You don't get high sniffing inert gases but you CAN die from asphyxiation.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/27/01 23:11:12 GMT

I wonder if methane will work to prevent the skin on paint. Cracked, can CACA do a study?

   Tony - Tuesday, 11/27/01 23:12:26 GMT

Gronk buddy, I'm in Plymouth MA as well, and have a small shop outside. I'm a newbie more or less, have made a few things, tools, hooks, etc.. I would be willing to partner up and learn together if you want. I've been using the propane forge but the coal forge is almost done. I could use a striker and someone to kick me in the pants to get me out there during winter! Buy some steel and you can use the other anvil...
   Rodriguez - Tuesday, 11/27/01 23:51:43 GMT

oh yeah, just a note, I went to horseshoeing school to learn the basics of blacksmithing, which I did, and I was fortunate to have as my two instructors active practicing blacksmiths in their own right. When they knew of my intention of blacksmithing over horseshoeing, they gave me projects to do unrelated to shoeing and I was graded on them instead. Also, when I was there, I volunteered at the local pioneer village as much as possible. No instructors there but the coal, steel, and funny clothes were free so what the heck? - Go nuts! Right? When I returned to MA, I worked at a fence company and learned to weld the gates. Which from then on was my job because I had passion for messing with steel and learned fast and did a good job. I work as a carpenter and am exposed to lots of ironwork now too. Just keep your eyes open and look for the not so obvious opportunities....
   Rodriguez - Wednesday, 11/28/01 00:14:47 GMT

Hello all,
I am sixteen years old and really only started smithing seriously over the summer. The camp I work at has an old forge and some of the people that have been there a long time are (according to my standards) really good at it. I started out with simple things like S hooks and then over the weeks I learned various techniques and got better. But I want to learn more about it and when I found this forum I figured there was no better place to get some info. Please give me some information about it. One of the things I was working on when camp ended was splitting the metal for, say, a tomahawk head. I found it nearly impossible, and although you may think it easy, I am very new to this craft, and don't even know what half of the old tools are for. Please lend me your knowledge, I would love to pass it on to friends of mine and future smiths to come.
Many thanks,
   - Andrew - Wednesday, 11/28/01 01:34:14 GMT

Gronk & Rodriguez - Anvilfire matchmaking for blacksmiths!
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/28/01 01:58:24 GMT

You have a really bad stutter andrew!
Most on the answers you desire are on this site...root around in the corners and crannies of anvilfire...start with "Getting Started" and then go to I-forge, then the archives.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 11/28/01 02:01:52 GMT

Heavy work: Andrew, Many heavy tasks were done with helpers wielding sledges. Smiths working alone usualy find work arounds or learn to use heavy hammers. Most modern smiths (even hobbiests) find a power hammer the most suitable "work around". Old ones are relatively cheap and the "new" air hammers are competitive to used. Many smiths build their own (see our JYH info on the Power hammer Page).
Alternativly you can build a treadle hammer. These help do a LOT of work where you need an extra hand but they do not perform heavy work. A poer hammer can do both heavy and light work.

Heavy bar is easiest cut hot on the hardy or with a hot cutter (handled chisle). But a good hack saw can do a lot with good quality blades. Blades with set teeth, not the wavy blades.

Heavy work also goes much better on a heavy anvil. Light anvils (100 pounds and less) bounce around too much.

Doing heavy work takes heavy tools, hot iron and and calm practiced moves. Getting over excited and pounding harder with a small hammer doesn't do the job. Its a time and practice thing.

Our iForge demos have a lot tools shown in use as well as some specificly on tools. However, you should get a copy of Alex Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing. Currently it sells for around $11 US and is a MUST reference. See our Getting Started article for other book recomendations.

For photos and names of the most common tools the Kayne and Son page has the most complete tool photo collection on the net.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/28/01 02:27:35 GMT

Blacksmithing in New England:

Gronk, check out the New England Blacksmiths at:
If you go to the contacts page, you'll find the information for our club president. Give him a call (he's not completely email aware yet). The club has a facility in Brentwood, NH, that is coming up to speed and may even be staffed on weekends by now.

We're also ramping up on monthly mini-meets.

(NEB Membership Coordinator)
   Marc - Wednesday, 11/28/01 02:31:45 GMT

Ah the party gets bigger. :o)
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/28/01 02:34:49 GMT

I am new to black smithing need andvil foung nice 55 pounder on ebay looks fairly new. Shourd i buy
   Andrew - Wednesday, 11/28/01 02:50:18 GMT

Andrew, if that 55 pound anvil on ebay is cast iron, don't waste your money on it. Send us the auction number, and we'll take a look at it for you. I've got all the anvils I need (my wife say MORE than I need) so I will not bid against you.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 11/28/01 03:17:33 GMT

Dear Guru
Im 33 yrs old, Dont have alot of experiance in blacksmithing so-to speak. But I am certified in arc welding(plate-unlimited) and have many a times made my own tools with a torch-hammer-and vise just to get the job done. And have helped my father-in-law build some homemade beauties on their farm that usually actualy work most of the time. I've recently bought a plasma cutter(Hypertherm 600) and have been playing around making sillouetes-My question is how to color plate material that is polished ,are there metal dyes that you can wipe on to get colors like reds, greens,gold,copper,blues,purples? besides using heat?

sincerly colorless
   Ken Threet - Wednesday, 11/28/01 04:02:20 GMT

Chinese  cast iron anvils

These are cheap imported cast iron doorstops. They don't ring and don't have any rebound so they don't even make good movie props. We hardness tested these AND the concrete floor they were setting on. The concrete floor had better rebound!

The "anvil 55" you looked at is not even as good as these doorstops. At least the sides of the phoney top plate on the ones above are machined. The bid of $1/pound is already too high.

Save your money and keep looking.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/28/01 04:05:04 GMT

Coloring Steel Ken, In short NO. And temper (heat) colors must be protected by a good clear coat of lacquer. Even then the finish will rust if outdoors. Sandblasting or etching and painting is the best.

Now Titanium sheet. . . THAT is a different story. A little heat and it turns brilliant colors that are relatively permanent. Clear coating is still recomended but only if used outdoors and bi-metalic corrosion is avoided.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/28/01 04:11:55 GMT

Ken-- There's a book for you: The Patination of Metals. Costly devil, but wowee! N.B. Some heat is required.
   goods inward - Wednesday, 11/28/01 05:25:44 GMT

Tony-- Cracked indeed possesses a unique and intimate knowledge of the effects beneficial and toxic of methane, having worked as a tehnical consultant to Midcoastal Methane, refiners of chicken and cattle doodoo, back in the 1960s. However, Cracked was told to shut up on account of he ran off at the mouth so about Larry's garage, and other non-forging issues, and so went off in a huffy sulk with Chastity Dangerfield and Yummi and Swarf to work on some kind of "riveting machine." Judging from the shouts and giggles coming from the forge it is, um, coming along swimmingly-- but he seems unwilling to withdraw. Yours sincerely, Miles Undercut, acting provost, CACA
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 11/28/01 05:35:07 GMT

en, there are steel dyes that claim to do what you ask, but the followup report i got after a year of exposure were way less than exuberant.
I miss Cracked but as long as he and Chastity and Yummi are hard at work at their"riveting machine" I would not interrupt activities of that sort.
Ken, the problem with those cast anvils is that they are a poor shape for an anchor.
Tony, are you proposing to phart smartly in the can and slap the lid on? Are you considering the consequences when the can has to be reopened?
Whenever I see that skin of leathery paint on top of a reopened can , I think..that must be really good for something..still dont know what...Patching leaks?
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 11/28/01 07:38:37 GMT

Happy Gronk. Thanks for the input gang. Yes Guru New England is a funny place. I've e-mailed Rodriguez to take advantage of that most generous offer. I'll be calling the NEB in a few minutes. Weekend workshops would be most helpful, just couldn't make the commute out of state every day. I knew someone here would point me in the right direction. Thanks again.
Aside: Picked up a little book at the used book store, Heating With Coal by John W. Bartok, Jr. At 140 pages it's a quick read. All about coal types, hoods, stacks, draughts, type vs.BTU's etc... Lots of charts and diagrams. Well worth the time to find and read it.
   - Gronk - Wednesday, 11/28/01 13:39:03 GMT

I have just recently returned to blacksmithing (I used to do demonstration work at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut) and I have built a very small shop. I am burning coal in a small hooded Buffalo forge (the round one). My problem is that I am also an asthmatic who is allergic to smoke. When I worked in mystic I never had a problem based on the size of the shop and the ventilation. I have found that the coal smoke is more of a bother to me now.
I am looking for some information on gas forges. I think that might be a healthy alternative for me so I can continue to smith without having to build a new shop. Could you possibly direct me towards a gas forge that will allow me to weld long bar stock. I am looking to produce fireplace tools and other household items.

Thank you for your time in answering my question

Also if anyone else has suggestions I will gladly take them.

   Andrew - Wednesday, 11/28/01 14:35:45 GMT

Asthma: I use a propane forge and it has never given me any problems with my asthma.
   adam - Wednesday, 11/28/01 15:54:46 GMT


I also have Asthma and COPD. So we have similar problems. I use a NC Whisper Momma with the end ports inside a 12 X 16 utility style building. I do ventilate the building with a fan in order to avoid carbon monoxide buildup, but have had no problems with this system. I use my coal forge outside when the weather is nice.

You can find a product review of the Whisper Baby, and the Whisper Momma here at anvilfire. They are on the 21st Century page, down near the bottom.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Wednesday, 11/28/01 16:07:47 GMT

Just a THANKS for the heads up and informational links you provided to help combat against the nasty little virus that plagued (s) the pub! We all hope it creates a quicker remedy!
   the wind - Wednesday, 11/28/01 18:00:25 GMT

Do you have a place where I could get ideas for projects using railroad spikes?
   Sharon - Wednesday, 11/28/01 22:02:55 GMT

How about places to buy railroad spikes?
   Sharon - Wednesday, 11/28/01 22:03:29 GMT


On the iForge page here at anvilfire, there are several projects and tools made from RR Spikes. You can find the iForge by clicking on the "Select a Page" window at the top of the page.

As for buying spikes, I have no idea where you could buy them. I scrounge them and most smiths that I know do the same. At the moment, I've got several hundred. (grin) Where are you located? (approximately, don't post your address) If it's not too far, I'll ship you a few.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Wednesday, 11/28/01 22:25:48 GMT

Dear anvilfire:

I am a amateur armourer and I was wanting to know the specifications and how to construct the gas forges shown on Eric Thing's web pages on making a helmet. The forge looks like it is perfect for my needs. Please help for I am clueless about gas forges. Thank you.
   Brett Radcliff - Wednesday, 11/28/01 23:56:11 GMT

E.Thing Armour's Forges: Brett, These are a custom design that for libility reasons Eric will not build or provide plans. The best you can do is study the photos closely and do your own thing (no pun).

An option would be a standard Oxy-propane rosebud and an economizer valve (see your welding supplier). These can de rigged up in a fixed setup similar to Eric's forge. Step on the pedal (rather than lifting the torch off the valve and VOOM, you have heat. You would also need to make a remote pilot light but this is not difficult.

If you are going to build your own be sure to study Ron Reil's forge page, especialy the Mongo and T-Rex burner pages and what he has to say about the nozzel flare. Large naturaly aspirated burners need a careful balance of fuel/air and burner configuration. However, this usualy just takes some expirmentation, like adjusting a neutral torch flame.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/29/01 00:29:41 GMT

Andrew: fellow gaspers...I read a study that showed that chronic exposure to propane combustion products was associated with asthma...Think they were checking housewives mostly....so
Be aggerssive about ventilation!
   - Pete F - Thursday, 11/29/01 01:52:05 GMT

i allso have this problem I have noticed that the quality of the coal makes a big impact. my portable gives me a lot more trouble as it has no stack you home setup is out side w/a 10" /4foot stack and this pulls most of the smoke away from me (solong I I remember to hold my breath when I start it (before I get a good draft going)
welding smoke and grindign dust give me much more trouble
   MP - Thursday, 11/29/01 04:14:19 GMT

I'm just wondering, how do i make a furnice hot enough to not melt the metal, but make it red and able to move. I know which metals melt at different points but i dont know what temperatures the forge should be. Can
you plz help.
   Shawn - Thursday, 11/29/01 05:15:47 GMT

Sharon-- RR spike knives go for significant $, considering the minute amount of labor involved, and if you don't feel like hardening, call 'em letter openers. Up the price by lying, telling gullible customers the wicked-looking things are antiques, weapons fashioned by the original occupants of the Old West, ripped from the tracks of The Great Iron Horse, forged over mesquite fires to scalp the intruders. Or say the shiv on the table is wrought from the very spike that connected the track linking the East and West Coasts. Show off your oxy-acetylene cutting skills by cutting eyes in spikes for teency claw hammers, hatchets, tomahawks, rock hammers (called hodags by the rock nuts), two-headed hammers for the hammer nuts, brick strikers for the masons, hoof picks for the equestrians and equestriennes. Or do all same the hard way with punch and hot cutter if you're a purist. Smite up a storm, in other words, like a proper smith should! And my goodness, you're just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, too! What a coincidence!
   Sean O'Blivion - Thursday, 11/29/01 05:38:45 GMT

I've known a couple of old welders who have a lot of trouble breathing..they are retired from metal work and tired from the work of getting enough air.
Grinding dust gets in your lungs and a substantial amount of it stays there. Welding fumes are mostly lighter particles but many of them are toxic to some degree and most are irritating. Irritation leads to the formation of scar tissue and loss of lung capacity.
Like hearing, if you don't wear protection you will loose lung function faster.
I hate wearing that safety gear but now that I've lost a fair part of both hearing and lung function, I figure to save some of the remainder.
As an exercize, I started a collection of my used respirator filter pads. I wear them for grinding, polishing and stick and MIG welding. They get brown and ugly fast. After a year or so I took the used filters and filled a poster sized picture frame with them ,under glass,and took it to a CBA conference labeled.." INSIDE YOUR LUNGS?"
Made a fair number of converts..it was literally quite graphic.
I like the Dustfoe 66 (MSA) for a particle filter..it is light fairly comfy, and it is easy/inexpensive to change filters.
You need something heavier duty for welding fumes.
I never bothered with that stuff 'cause i never imagined that i'd live this long...suprise!
   - Pete F - Thursday, 11/29/01 08:30:10 GMT

Pete, guru or whoever:
I have two different filters, but really what are the best to buy rating wise to insure you are catching everything? I braze, solder (using fluxes of course), weld, grind, use gas and coal forges. I am dealing in brass, copper, steel to unknown metal contents (found), so I'm never sure of the gases coming off when I'm heating them. I know brass and copper can kick off some mean stuff, so I want to make sure I'm wearing what will remove all from my air supply. My studio has decent ventilation, though the other shops I work in have a less significant system at times and you can never be sure that some less educated person hasn't accidentally melted off copper dropping it into the bottom of the gas forge! I've got a pretty good nose and can usually smell these 'fumes' but I'd rather make sure I'm covered. What filter will cover this the best or do I need to buy several?
   the wind - Thursday, 11/29/01 14:04:41 GMT

Pete F
I feel the same on this one. my shop isn't well vented in fact it is all most a death trap in that area (but I am sort of suck there for now) I have come to the conclusion that the filters are allmost as bad as the dust due to resapitory distress. so I limit when I use them, grinding and welding allways (grinding dust is the WORST!)but when forgeing I never do as the strain and heat make it to hard to breath with them on ... also the forge is out side so there isn't the problem of bad venting.
   MP - Thursday, 11/29/01 15:13:13 GMT

Thank your offering this forum. Our business is in Columbus Ga. EAHomes Inc. We are looking to purchase the iron and or steel yard sign frames from someone who manufactures them in order to by pass a retailer. To start we have ordered 100 but are looking to purchase up words to 500 ea order. Also a metal stake that is used to attach our brochure boxes that is placed in the ground approx 10in. The most common name for the frames is Banjo. Can any one help us??? I cannot afford $7 per frame and $4 for the steaks. Please contact me Sandra by email sandy at eahomes.com Fax 706-221-9374 or 706-221-9314. I thank any one who may be able to help me. Sincerly
   Sandra Stevens - Thursday, 11/29/01 18:15:20 GMT

Can you help me, Google turned up your web page in regards to retinning copper pots. Where can I send my pots to, to have this done in the Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.
   warren - Thursday, 11/29/01 18:16:08 GMT

Pete F.... Now, would I be proposing flatulence as a way to keep the skin off? Actually I was thinking the products of combustion after some blue flame performance art might deoxify adequately.

If you get my meaning.......
   Tony - Thursday, 11/29/01 19:32:20 GMT

Hello Guru(s),I recently came across a siversmithing spring hammer. I have the opportunity to buy it resonable but am unsure if its anything I could use in the blacksmith shop. Wondering if you any thoughts about its potential for a good tool to have or am I going to be tripping over it and complaining it takes up precious space.If you have not seen one, or anyone reading this has'nt seen one, it is basically a sledge hammer mounted on a pivot and is returned by a spring. It is operated by grabbing the sledge and hammering. I almost think you could mount a foot treadle on it. The base is not meant for heavy hammering though, it has cast iron legs. A nice peice, maybe you could also think about what the market value would be for this. Sorry for the novel but wanted to be specific. Thanks -Scott
   Scott - Thursday, 11/29/01 23:31:55 GMT

NIOSH has some rather elaborate rating standards but I didn't have the heart to wade through the technical Jargon.
I use a thick felt-like filter pad for particulates and for welding I use a filter labeled "metal fumes"
If someone has some expertese in this, we'd like some help.
There are 2 additional things that are important.
A. that the mask seals well to your face
B That you change the filters frequently.
Also helpful, is to choose a mask that has a minimum of dead air space inside the mask as well as one that is flat enough to fit inside your head gear.
Tony, playing with fire is almost always fun, collecting enough methane, or having enough on-demand supply presents some um, challenges . Fortunately , one can always call on experts.
   - Pete F - Friday, 11/30/01 03:16:27 GMT

help ! I have an NCtool #2 gas forge, and I can't seem to get it to welding heat ! any suggestions ?
   Sean - Friday, 11/30/01 03:39:03 GMT

Willson makes a nice mask specifically for welding. Called the Trimweld. I think they come in sizes, small, medium, large. Get the low profile (they make a larger one) so your arc welding helmet will clear it easily. 3M makes a disposable for welding. Not bad. Pricey. Get the red nose, specifically to catch the ozone. MSC has these and scads of other welding masks. Local shops seem never to have them- probably because they have to order by the crate.
   Juan DelaTerious - Friday, 11/30/01 04:17:56 GMT

Caramba! Some poltroon, he has stolen my name! At least have the courtesy, sir, to spell it correctly! And do not use my name to endorse sissy masks! I wear no mask. My father wore no mask. His father wore no mask. We breathe deeply of the life-giving HEPAs, Ahhhhh! The perfume of the coal! The allure of propane! The aroma of the flux! The bouquet of the galvanized! Ai, Chihuahua!
   Juan DeLeTerious - Friday, 11/30/01 04:25:31 GMT

Ventilation All smiths and welders (anyone using fire/heat on metals) should have well ventilated shops. Although propane forges burn quite clean and I have no problem in my shop, the anvilfire office is upstairs next to the forge shop. Fumes from the gas forge seem to collect at the top of the stairway under certain wind conditions and they can be positively breath taking (in an absolute positive sense). I think the problem is the small amounts of unpurnt and partialy burnt propane.

As I mentioned, I have no problem in the shop. It has 16' cielings. Something most do not have. I also have a 42" fan in the roof peak with a duck over the forge area. I run this full time in the summer for general ventilation and also when I run the small gas forge for a significant time and any time I run the large one.

As good as this sounds it is marginal ventilation for arc welding. Arc welding fumes are generated within a foot or so of your face and often go under your helmet on the way to whereever they are going. Although very few do it there should be local ventilation next to the weld zone. Fans with fire proof silicon/fiberglass hoses (those black and orange tiger tail hoses) are made for this purpose. They are not cheap but if you have ANY breathing or lung problems you should consider one.

And even though most do not do it because we can get away with it most of the time, gas forges SHOULD be vented outdoors. They are not as critical to vent as other forges but there should be a small hood and a vent pipe over the forge if you are going to be particular. Oil and coal forges absolutely must be vented.

Coal forges are a particular problem due to the smoke being blown out of the forge under pressure of the blower. Side draft flues do much better than an overhead hood (unless the hood has a HUGE stack). However, if you want a smoke free shop you might consider a hood to suplement the side draft flue. Fan powered like a commercial kitchen hood would keep the shop air 100% smoke free.
   - guru - Friday, 11/30/01 04:38:14 GMT

Sorry, this was my first post here (2nd now). It's a 3 burner propane forge. it's just doesn't seem to heat to welding temp.
   Sean - Friday, 11/30/01 04:56:09 GMT

Filter Masks: These work ONLY if you are clean shaven and are a proper fit (sized and TIGHT). Having worked in the nuclear industry I've had a LITTLE experiance with these and have had the best training industry offers. . .

Beards (even heavy "shadow"), sideburns and even wrinkles can provide leak paths. Now since you aren't stopping radioactive contamination you might say well a LITTLE won't hurt. . consider this, that leak path is the path of least resistance. A LOT of trash laden air is going to take that path. Matter of fact a down right high percentage. So if you are not deadly serious on this subject, forget it!

Athasmatics SHOULD NOT wear filter masks without the advise of a specialist. In industry, before you can even TRAIN to wear a filter mask you must pass a cardio pulmonary function test (breathalator) at a minimum. WHY? Because a properly fitting mask makes it hard to breath due to the resistance of the filter. This is respiratory stress. It can be as bad as an asthma attack. I've had both, I KNOW. If you have bad lungs or a heart condition wearing a filter mask can kill you. A fast death while trying to protect yourself from a slow one. . . .

Between shaving (I don't) and the cost of the mask, and the stress of wearing one. . . More bigger fans look a whole lot better. . . Think about it. In the average shop a filter mask should be an emergancy measure for highly unusual jobs. Not daily use.
   - guru - Friday, 11/30/01 05:27:52 GMT

Welding Temp: Sean, NC doesn't garantee them to get that hot but they do. Steel will puddle in them if you are not careful

1) Patience. Minimum heat up time for normal work is 30 to 45 minutes. For welding the furnace might need to soak for a couple hours.

2) Proper adjustment is critical. It is easy to have a high portion of your fuel burning outside the forge. Reduce that presure a little if that is the case.

3) Doors and ports need to be closed. If you have one with extra open ports then set a fire brick in the port. Keep the door closed.

4) Ambient temperature and altitude can be a factor. If it is 30 deg F in your shop it will take more BTU to do the same work as when the temp is 70F. (40 degrees more). This can be the difference between hot and welding heat. Altitude reduces the max temp of the forge. 5°F per 1,000 feet I THINK.

One or more of the above may be the problem.
   - guru - Friday, 11/30/01 05:37:57 GMT

Silver Smithing Hammer Scott, sounds like an intresting machine. Also sounds like you have already figured it out. NO I don't think it will help your ironwork but no self respecting tool aholic with acquisititus would pass it up!
   - guru - Friday, 11/30/01 05:41:56 GMT

The regulator on the tank is set at 11, all "openings" closed, and the shop is about 55 degrees( after an hour with the forge going, maybe 65) I live in michigan, so alt. isn't the prob. I figured 20min with 3/8" stock should have heated up enough. Maybe it's the fuel pressure =)
   - Sean - Friday, 11/30/01 05:45:47 GMT

Still on the road. . . . But the virus mail is still finding me by the bag full.
   - guru - Friday, 11/30/01 05:46:34 GMT

Forge heat up time: Its not the time the metal is in the forge, its the time the forge has been running. The refractory needs to get up to temperature and be fully soaked. This can take hours (2 to 4). Once up to temp the metal will heat in a few minutes. But from a cold start 20 min is rarely enough. Remember too that you don't have to melt steel to weld it. Forge welding can occur at considerably lower temperatures if clean and well fluxed. The vast majority of laminated steel comes out of these forges.
   - guru - Friday, 11/30/01 05:53:40 GMT

I'm thinking I've got the regulator set to high, metal doesn't seem to want to get over a bright red heat, even after the forge gets hot. I'm trying to get to that"kinda sorta butter yellow heat" =)
   - Sean - Friday, 11/30/01 05:58:15 GMT

I just wanted to add, I've been pounding on an old fisher anvil for a couple or years, and finally spung for a nice one. I bought a 405 hay-budden, talk about night and day !
   - Sean - Friday, 11/30/01 06:03:20 GMT

Respirators: I've gone through significant respirator training too. The enamel frit and batch materials had some nasty stuff in it. Like Jock said, the safety people test your lung function on a regular basis. And we had blood tests for the nasties on a regular basis too. The safety people wanted to keep us safe, but they were also covering their butts with OSHA. My beard was a constant point of friction between the nurse and myself. She said it had to go. I told her I would go before the beard did. And in retrospect, I wish I had gone earlier. It was interesting work, but I was working in an environment that was damaging and basically damaging myself for money. Seems foolish now. As we get older and wiser, we realize that it's a shame to damage yourself. I look at my body as a tool. If I can't breathe as well as I used to, I can accomplish less. I try to do dusty work in a breeze and I use charcoal because it has less "chemicals".

I have exercise and cold air induced asthma. Started after I got whacked on the head by that tree. Which was about the same time I was working in the enamel making area.

In the last couple of years, I've been seriously thinking about a supplied air hood for grinding, sandblasting, welding, etc. Junkyard fashion of course. Old funace blower with reasonable filtration drawing outside air from above the roof line and supplying a canvas hood attached to a full face safety shield via vacuum hose. The positive pressure will push the canvas off my neck and keep the nasties out. I tend to do the dirty work in only two areas, and wear earmuffs and glasses now, so putting the hood on shouldn't be a big deal. Plus, in summer, it should be MUCH cooler than a respirator. For welding, attach the canvas to the full face helmet. Side benefit for welding should be that I won't get an more sizzling balls burning through my eardrums. Just have to get used to the hose tail. Shouldn't be much different than power cords.
   Tony - Friday, 11/30/01 13:33:27 GMT


Pick up a cheap sand blasting hood from Harbor Freight. Less than $20 bucks. Is mounted to a hard hat. Use the compressor from an old refrigerator to supply the air. Use a 1/2" clear plastic hose from the compressor to the hard hat. Use dust mask filters to filter the air to the compressor. Should work like a champ.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 11/30/01 14:37:37 GMT

I'm constructing a crossbow. I'm following a design from "The Book of the Crossbow" which was originally published in 1903. The bow is described as 2 feet 6 inches long, 1 5/8 wide and tapering from 1/2 to 3/8 in thickness. The author assumes one can take this information to a "spring maker" and have one done up. No luck with finding such a person. I had thought about a trip to the junk yard to pull a leaf spring from a car but with winter here that doesn't sound appealing. If I want to buy some flat, spring stock what should I be asking for?
   - Khym - Friday, 11/30/01 14:49:49 GMT

I am a boot maker and can weld and cut pretty well. I am interested in making some of my own tools from mild steel. General grade 5 bolts and such. What I need is how to temper metal. I'm sure it is different for many types of metals. I have been told to cool the metal in 70 weight bar and chain oil. Any help will be nice.
Gary Cunningham
   Gary C - Friday, 11/30/01 15:05:47 GMT

Breathing, More or Less. I think that floor dust from dirt/ash floors can be just about as bad as anything else. When a sunbeam streams into my shop, just a few of my footfalls will show mucho particles rising. Wetting the floor helps.

I've always had a coal forge outside, and it is completely skirted with an enclosure except where the work goes in and out. Otherwise, your face will be full of particulate matter all the while you're working. Windward and leeward keep changing.

Many museum conservation labs have what they call 'fume cabinets', enclosures that are vented to the outside, and usually with a fan for flue exhaust. I don't have one, but if I did a lot of electric welding, I would consider building one. It's kind of like an oversized closet with its own pyramidal or conical roof and flue.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/30/01 15:09:30 GMT

Uhhhh, I could be wrong here, but if you close all the ports and openings in a gas forge don't you cause problems? Gas forges need a certain vent ablity or exhaust if you will. Anyway you might be choking off your forge if it has all openings closed. I go over to a buddies house to do some hammerin type stuff. He is a knife maker by inclination.SO he does a lot of 'damascus' type work. never had a prob with his NC Tools 3 burner forge and the end ports are open.... so both of us can work at the same time. Lots of welding done in that forge.......
   Ralph - Friday, 11/30/01 15:09:40 GMT

call around and ask for pre tempered 5160 spring steel. look in the yellow pages for a auto/truck spring shop most will sell small amount's of stock off there racks.
   MP - Friday, 11/30/01 16:31:33 GMT

call around and ask for pre tempered 5160 spring steel. look in the yellow pages for a auto/truck spring shop most will sell small amount's of stock off there racks.
   MP - Friday, 11/30/01 16:33:03 GMT

Thanks Jim, I shall check them out!
   Tony - Friday, 11/30/01 20:06:23 GMT

Oh great Guru and Guru-ites could you tell me if there is a simple way of figuring out the type of metal in a couple of small tin/pewter/zinc/typemetal? ingots I have picked up at various various thrift stores.
Specifically, I have two relativly soft, heavy metal ingots that look like they could be babbit, tin, zinc, pewter etc. that I would like to use for something but I don't know what they are. I don't believe they are lead, they're to shiney for that, but I'm not sure what they are and the people I bought them from had no idea either.
Is there any fairly uncomplicated way to test them?

Thanks Jim
   - Moldy Jim - Friday, 11/30/01 20:12:23 GMT

Thanks for the info on spring steel. I'm going to fudge my lunch hour a bit and go do some shopping.

Here's another metal question for someone. I'm currently building a sort of black powder "demi-howitzer". The gun tube will have an ID of 1 7/16th inch. I've worked out all the details, had a couple of engineers give it their blessing. The big problem of the moment is the base plug.
For max strength it needs to be screwed in and welded. I'm steeling myself (sorry, couldn't resist) for a visit to a machine shop to find out what sort of hideously expensive
chore cutting threads will be but I'm wondering if there are any alternatives I don't know about. I need a threaded steel plug 1 1/2 in diameter (a piece of really big bolt?)
and threads cut on the interior of the gun tube. Ideas?
   - Khym - Friday, 11/30/01 20:27:47 GMT


You oughta be shot for that one! (grin)

Got any plumber friends? 1 1/2" pipe plug should work, you just need to have the bore threaded.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 11/30/01 20:35:03 GMT

And if a regular pipe plug doesn't look solid enough, then have the same plumber thread a piece of 1 1/2" bar stock.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 11/30/01 20:36:07 GMT

Khym, bolt on a really thick butt plate? Like a blind flange? Is the barrel tube thick enough for the bolt circle?

Unless the screw threads are nearly interference(very tight), and preloaded before welding, they will not carry much of the load. Weld heat may relax some of the thread preload too. The weld will take all initial stress from the shot. So the weld should be designed to take all of the shot load. Gun locking bolts are more like Acme or buttress threads. I don't know what your chamber pressures will be. I would not recommend a threaded plug, but if you do go with a pipe plug, do not use a cast one. Pipe thread would be better than straight threads and NPTF (dryseal) pipe threads would be better than NPT (regular) pipe threads.

Personally, unless there was some other aesthetic reason not to, I would have a certified welder weld the plug completely with a nice deep J weld. After a good design to decide how much weld.

   Tony - Friday, 11/30/01 21:08:01 GMT

Hi. Greetings from snowy, then rainy Québec!Eeeesh!

I have a bad case of carpian tunnel, left arm.( am lefty..)
Neurosurgeon says operation would improve things, but that
the wrist could become rather painful because of my hammering....hobby. Has anyone been through this?????

PS: I heated up my 6 inch post-vise in a heck of a big fire. It came dark-red, and the jaw magically unseized,
and I tapped the post straight again....Thanks! I lost
the name of the fellow who had suggested this a year or so ago, think it was Art Ross from Down Under. Hard disc failure. If anyone knows him, got a picture of that for him!

God Bless!- R Skelton.
   Gary Callaghan - Friday, 11/30/01 21:15:14 GMT

When I had my falconette breeched I took it to a Vo-Tec; they counter bored the muzzle, turned a turnip on the breech plug, threaded the tube and the plug, drilled the touch hole and charged me around $40 (in 1981 of course)to their party fund. They said it was a lot more fun than just taking scrap out of a bin, doing an op on it, getting it graded and tossing it back into the bin...

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 11/30/01 21:55:54 GMT

Could you please let me have as much info on specs. for centre pole and handrail for spiral staircases, Ive been used to making them from victorian cast treads and have come a cropper building one from scratch around the same size pole 2 1/4 inch. Thanks Mark
   Mark Lewis - Friday, 11/30/01 22:52:02 GMT


NEVER NEVER EVER, Rig your own supplied air hood as Paw-Paw suggested. It SOUNDS like a good idea but here are the problems.

1) Dry air from a compressor will dry the linings of your lungs to the point of giving you instant pneumonia.

2) Lubricants, bearing and wearing parts of compressors can contain Bismuth, Lead, Cadnium. . .

Both the above mean that compressed air supplies for breathing must come ONLY from compressors designed and certified for breathing air.

IF you want to rig up a clean air hood use a small squirl cage fan and the necessary larger hose (such as cheap vacumme cleaner hose). Then be sure the fan is in a place with clean air OR has the needed filter. There are fancy commercial versions of this used on bubble suits and bubble hoods. These not only have the advantage of providing clean air but also can cool you off.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/01/01 04:44:33 GMT

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