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

This is an archive of posts from November 1 - 8, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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November 1, 2002
2,000,000 Visits to anvilfire!

At 7:20PM GMT today we had our two millionth access of anvilfire.com!
In October we had 139,244 visits in 31 days. That is 4,492 visits per day or 187 per hour (3.12 per minute)!
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 19:28:32 GMT

Ray, You really don't need a steel like S7 for a hammer head. High carbon steel of 0.80% has been used successfully for many years. I have had luck forging hammer heads out of 18-wheeler truck axles. The axles are about 2" in diameter. They behave like medium carbon steel; some are made of 1045. I quench at a bright cherry the face and peen separately in water. I've tempered the old fashioned way by taking the face to a dark straw and the peen to a purple. For safety, I check for cracks in the axle before going to work. Plain high carbon and plain medium carbon steel will get a hard case and tough core when the mass is more than 5/8" square. This is termed "shallow hardening" and is desirable in a concussive tool, because the tough core acts as a "shock absorber" and "cushion" for the blows.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/01/02 00:56:32 GMT

guru et al...when a particular tool steel is to be anealed, a prescribed rate of cooling is recommended. example: 20F/hr. very slow, me thinx. to adhere to this must be difficult for joe smith.
1)would it be any less effective to cool @ a slower rate? wouldnt it be as effective, in general, to bury the piece in lime and come back two days later? i have read that lime and vermeculite (sp) is used. depending on the volume used, a slower rate of cooling is likely??
2)the meat of the question is: effective anealing can be accomplished by burying the piece in the appropriate medium (after the piece was brought above the "critical" temp); it is not necessary to use a "piece of equipment" that will reduce the temp @ a precise rate. thoughts???

for the quench master: multiple tempering using reduction of tempering temperature @25F per treatment, cooled to ambient after the first temper. for sharp edge tools, advantage??

   rugg - Friday, 11/01/02 01:33:21 GMT

Rugg, Its the first couple hundred degrees that is critical in the alloy steels that need such slow rates of cooling. Common carbon steels anneal well by standard methods. Once cooled to 1,000°F it doesn't make a lot of difference.

Parts burried in lime will be hot the next day but not hot enough to anneal further. Of course it depends on the size of the piece.
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 03:46:04 GMT

Guru or anyone else, Can you help me locate a piece of aluminum skin (approx 12" x 12") for a airplane or airstream travel trailer. I need to repair a hole in mine. I contacted the air stream factory and they referred me to a local dealer and the local dealer told me to contact the factory. I though you or one of the readers might be able to help. Tahnk you in advance William
   triw - Friday, 11/01/02 03:49:37 GMT

guru, could you back up and read my last 2 post please and let me know what you think. thank you
   Rod - Friday, 11/01/02 04:14:21 GMT

Rod, Pricing depends on the type of rail and how complex it is. 100% hand forged starts at around $250/foot and up. Those that bid less generaly lose money. If the customer says its too high then they will get less.

Each corner should add double the running foot price and newel posts can be works of art that can be ANY price.
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 04:54:35 GMT

Aluminium Sheet: Triw, Try our On-line Metals Store. You will need to know the thickness in thousandths. The 5052 looks to be OK. Aircraft skin material is 2024. There are bunches of folks that will sell it to you in any quantity. My Dad's shop is full of it now. . . he's building an ultra-lite with an all aluminium body. I think he orders it from an outfit called "Aircraft Spruce".
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 05:14:01 GMT

Greetings Guru. I am making some leaves for a bed. they will be about 5" is size. I would like to put raised veins on them but have no idea on how to make a tool to do so. I have made a small leaf veining tool as per Bill Epps tool in Iforge but would like to make one to use by hand. Your help would greatly be appreciated thanks, Scott
   Scott Vickrey - Friday, 11/01/02 13:00:49 GMT

Rugg, Annealing is a process that allows the dispersed carbon in the steel to diffuse together to form very large carbides, leaving the rest of the steel very low in carbon and alloys. It would be like replacing the sand in concrete with large bed-run gravel. The longer you hold at temperature, the more carbon will diffuse and the larger the carbides will be. Controlled cooling is really more important for alloy steels than carbon steel. Slow cooling prevents the steel from transforming to any of the harder microstructures as it cools. Instead, it forces the steel to form soft ferrite with the large carbides embedded in it. This is the softest the steel can get. In practice, you may not need it that soft. Holding the steel at a high temperature does more to soften than just heating it and immediately starting a slow cool. If you are doing critical heat treating on tool steel for a machinery applications, take the part to a commercial heat treater. If you are making ornamental parts, heat it to a bright red, hold for as long as practical without scaling it too badly, bury it in ashes and vermiculite. BTW, you may slow the cooling down even more by putting a piece of red-hot steel in the ashes ahead of your annealing project to heat up the ashes and slow the heat transfer. Leave the pre-heat part in the ashes with the part being annealed. As for double tempering, it is often used for high carbon, high alloy tool steels. It can be two tempers at the same temperature with cooling to room temperature between or the second one at about 25 Degrees lower. I am trying to put together a basic text on "Blacksmith Metallurgy" with emphasis on heat treating but it is coming along slowly. When it is complete, I will make it available to the Guru for distribution through this website.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 11/01/02 13:36:27 GMT

Large Leaf Viens: Scott, There are a number of ways to do this but unless you have a HUGE power hammer a grooved die like used on small leaves will not work.

One method is folding. See the leaves by Michael Walker in our Spring 2000 NEWS article p.6. He produces a large central vien by folding the leaf then flatening out the sides. Side viens can be produced this way but are tricky.

On the same page there are pieces by Michael Walker where he sinks the ribs from the back using a swage and swage block. This is a classic method used on sheet metal but many smiths do it hot in thick plate. Because of the difficulties holding the hot work this is done either under a power or treadle hammer. The lower swage is a universal tool with a single groove and smooth rounded surfaces, the upper tool is a narrow swage that is also rounded so that the ends of the tool do not make sharp endings of the grooves.

In icanthus leaves such as the ones by Josh Greenwood the viens are all semi parrallel. He produces these by starting with a thick blank (1/2" to 5/8" thick by 2 to 3" wide) and fullering grooves in the blank using a set of special tools that vary in width, some tapering from a narrow tight radius to a larger wider radius. Others have sharp V edges. These require a hammer with good control but Josh used the same techniques he developed on a Nazel 1B on our EC-JYH (Junkyard Hammer) in 1998.

Another method that can be used on a power hammer or with a striker is to make a relieving or "setting down" die. You start with a thick blank and hammer the die into the steel to flatten the areas between the viens. This tool would be V shaped with a center groove for the central vien. As the tool is used the stock is fullered out longer so both sides of the leave must be done at once otherwise the leaf will distort. This is not a common method and it requires a lot of power but it will produce similar results as a grooved leaf die with less power. Hand manipulation of the die or a progressive set of dies will produce variations that prevent the leaves from looking machine made. The V can be offset at the center rib to produce staggered veins.

And. . There is the folding method I've used that can be used on larger scale. Vien grooves are chisled or fullered into one half of the leaf (yes it distorts the leaf so you may want to start with an assymetric blank). Then when the leaf is folded and forged into itself the groves in the one half act like your leaf die and create raised viens on one side. When the the leaf is opened a center groove results with a rib on the back of the leaf and soft raised and lowered viens in the surface. The resulting mirror image effect is interesting and the difference between the positive/negative viens is not really noticed.

Although pressing into a veining die is very common today it is historicaly one of the least used techniques for making leaf veins.
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 18:28:57 GMT

What household materials could I make a soldering pan, block or table out of? and what metals other than silver could be used in conjunction with copper for mokume gane or woodgraining metal?
   AdamSmith - Friday, 11/01/02 19:43:56 GMT

And congrats on the Two Million
   AdamSmith - Friday, 11/01/02 19:50:15 GMT


i have been cleaning up my new russian anvil and came upon what i would
call a casting dimple near the parting line on top of the horn. the
dimple is roughly 3/4"x1/2"x3/32". the dimple is nearly oval shaped.
(the dimple was filled with casting sand which promptly came out the second
i hit it with the angle grinder with a 50 grit sanding disk.)

short of grinding the entire horn down to remove the dimple i would first
like to know if there any other suggestions or comments. my first thought
was to perhaps use the mig welder and fill the dimple and reshape the weld
to horn around it. my next thought was to use moglice to fill in the dimple
and reshape the moglice but i am not sure the moglice would that the forging

terry l. ridder >
   terry l. ridder - Friday, 11/01/02 20:46:44 GMT

Soldering: If you do a lot of soldering it is nice to catch the little drips that splatter. . especialy if using lead solder. Almost anything non-flamable will work. Cookie sheets or pizza pans with raised edge work good but be sure NOT to use them for cooking after contaminating them with lead. In the past soap stone slabs were used but they were more commonly available. They still make laboratory sinks out of soapstone becuase of its resistance to various chemicals.

If you are soldering with a torch then a work surface covered with metal or brick is good. On a brich surface you can heat pieces directly on the brick. Metal is usualy covering something else (wood, plastic) and it is best not to use a torch directly one it unless you know what is underneigth.

There are articles on-line about mokume-gane that list various metals that work. Silver is used both for its color and due to its low melting point. The pile of plates is heated just short of the silver becoming liquid. brass and copper can be used.

Mokume-gane is brazed in an oven. The cleaned plates are stacked up between two heavy flat steel plates and bolted together tight (but not so tight as to warp the plates). Then the whole is heated in a kiln or furnace to just at or below the melting point of the lowest melting alloy in the stack. The billet is then forged (more commonly rolled) thiner and then patterns carved in the surface and then forged or rolled out further. I've left out lots of details. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 20:53:19 GMT


I filled a couple of horn cuts in one of my anvils with the MIG, several years ago. Ground it out, and it has worked fine for me ever since.

   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/01/02 20:54:09 GMT

Anvil Repair: Terry, What you have is a sand inclusion or casting defect. We have pretty much determined that these anvils are a medium carbon steel. So repairs should not be very hard. Clean out the cavity where the sand inclusion was. You need to get to clean metal and open it up to where you can get a good weld.

Then warm or preheat the horn to where it is uncomfortable to touch or until spit sizzles. Then weld up the hole. If using MIG then just weld it up leaving enough extra to clean up. If using coated rod then stop and clean up the flux between each pass. Grind to finish.

On old anvils the horn was soft wrought iron. On modern anvils it is steel but should be tempered softer than the anvil face. In either case it should be soft. So a weld repair is not a problem on the horn.

What is "moglice"?
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 21:05:32 GMT

hello guru;

short answer, metal-filled epoxy. the long answer:


terry l. ridder >
   terry l. ridder - Friday, 11/01/02 21:26:46 GMT

Hey I have a trenton anvil about 220# and the edges of the face are badly nicked or dinged (about 90% of the edge). Is this something to worry about, should I try to fix it and if so how? Is this something to get a professionsl to work on or do I just use it as is. Thank you Richard
   firetongs - Friday, 11/01/02 21:37:41 GMT

Metal filled epoxy is sold primarily under the Devcon brand name in the U.S. Comes in aluminium, brass and steel powder fill. I've used it since the 1960's and it is still commonly used to repair large expensive castings. But the repairs are cosmetic and will not take any load compared to the surrounding metal. Good for lots of things but not an anvil repair or any kind of metal working surface.
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 23:56:58 GMT

Don't try to fix the edges of that anvil. Dress them to take off the sharp corners. A chamfer or a well readiused edge will probably get rid of most of the rough edges.
   - guru - Friday, 11/01/02 23:59:00 GMT

Terry, I have a simpler solution to your anvil repairs. You will require the receipt from HF, the packing material, and a car or truck. Take it back! It is defective and if it has one, chances are there are others you can't see. I have looked at several(and own one) of these anvils and quality seems to vary considerably. If you can get a new one with no defects, why put up with one with a sand hole in it?
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/02/02 00:03:57 GMT

QC/guru...i am planning on purchasing a heat treating furnace. if i am going to invest the time and money making tools with higher end tool steel, this is the most practical thing for me to do. i am looking at a cress unit that has a programable temp controller. between the furnace, a toaster oven, access to a mill and or machinist, and the ability to anneal when necessary, i should be able to make anything that i would have use for...and into the future. this unit operates on 110 volts. the convenience of being able to treat it myself is worth the cost. in theory, i should be able to get the maximum life out of what ever i make and have the piece of mind that the treatment process occured exactly as i wanted. anal?? probably.

thanks again, comments/info appreciated as always..
   rugg - Saturday, 11/02/02 00:29:08 GMT

Ok guys I have started blacksmithing,got a gas forge, anvil, hammers,hardies. but I have seen the disadvantages of the gas forge(cant forge wide objects) so I'm thinking of getting a coal forge But I have talked the wife into letting me get a power hammer, so my question is would you get the forge first or the hammer. I've been looking at LG 25# and 50# , what can you tell me about them as far as using and repairing. Thanks guys
   Rod - Saturday, 11/02/02 06:46:21 GMT

Rod- If you've just started blacksmithing, this probably isn't the time to get a powerhammer. The coal forge, yes. You need to learn all you can about forging, hammer control, design, welding, and the remainder of the basics first. While you're doing that for the next couple of years, you can keep your eyes open for a red hot deal on a powerhammer to buy when you've mastered the basics. The coal forge will allow (read, require) you to learn fire management techniques and coal properties in addition to forging. You'll have more than enough on your plate with all that for the next couple of years or so, believe me.

Like any power tool, a power hammer doesn't really do anything that can't be done by hand. It just does it faster. Until you've learned to be a decent smith, a powerhammer would only allow you to make mistakes faster, but not to really learn much. By the time you've learned all the basics, you'll have a better idea just which powerhammer you want, based upon your experience, style ofwork, size of work, etc. Until then, I wouldn't recommend getting one.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/02/02 11:45:33 GMT

Rugg, Thats a big step and I hope it pays off for you. I think a furnace that runs on 110V may be like a welder that runs on 110V. You may find that it heats rather slowly but runs the power bill up rather quickly. You may also want to invest in a good book on heat treating and I would suggest you visit http://.www.asm_international.com , the website of the American Society for Metals and Materials. Look for a book called "Practical Heat Treating" by Boyer (I think). This book has time and temperature guides for most common heat treatable grades of steel. I think it has a bit of basic metallurgy too.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/02/02 13:33:39 GMT

A NEW Power Hammer: Rod, Vicopper is right, you should learn hand forging technique before getting a power hammer. Just stick to small projects at first. If you have a commercial need to get a power hammer at the beginning then be sure to find someone GOOD to take lessons from. There are a LOT of power hammer techniques that are important to learn.

In decorative work the power hammer can do a lot of the gross forging and can even make some nifty widgets with the right dies. BUT, scrolling, corners, straightening and most upsetting is done manualy with hand hammer and anvil AND a trained eye. Without a lot of practice at hand work the power hammer will just help you grow a scrap pile faster.

There are also other "power" tools that are more important, an arc welder, oxy-acetylene set and a good HD angle grinder.

The last Little Giant power hammers were built in the 1960's and the vast majority between 1908 and 1930. That makes all of them very old machines. Little Giants were also the bottom of the line (ie cheapest) power hammer of the era. There are other brands that were much better machines, Bradley, Fairbanks and Beaudry in mechanical hammers and Nazel in air hammers. None of these are manufactured any longer and like LG's they are mostly 70 years old. The only advantage the LG's have is that you can get some parts for some models as well as rebuilding advice. A freshly rebuilt Little Giant can cost as much as a new air hammer.

The new air hammers all have a lot of advantages. A warantee and support to start. They are also more powerfull than a 50 pound LG. The only cost a little more and those requiring an air compressor are just making you get another piece of equipment you SHOULD have in your shop. The Striker air hammers are self contained and do not need an air compressor. Each type of hammer, mechanical, air, self contained air, all have different characteristics that you SHOULD be familiar with before buying a power hammer.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/02/02 15:46:00 GMT


Just a footnote on your comment on furnaces. I've used a number of small electric furnaces that run very well on 110 volt AC power. The furnaces I used were for fluxing ore samples and such prior to chemical analysis. Small furnaces that will heat up 1600-1800 Celcius, with electronic temperature control are not too hard or dear to come by. These would be excellent for heat treating small items, like knives and hand tools; say any object smaller than 6"x6"x12". These little furnaces hold heat very well and don't draw too much electricity. The ones I used were close to room temperature on the outside and plugged into a standard 20 amp circuit.

If you want to get really fancy, say if you were heat treating a large number of identical parts, you could build a simple induction furnace. This would really speed things up(the heating portion of the cycle), and could be tailored to the job.
   David Benson - Saturday, 11/02/02 16:35:44 GMT


Raised veins are difficult to do because in order to leave raised veins EVERYTHING else must be pushed down, and that's a lot of metal that has to go somewhere. This is made all the more difficult due to the thin nature of most leaves you want to make. Tools could be made to do this, but they need to forge the area BETWEEN the ribs, not the ribs themselves (hmm, that might be interesting). Another way to do this is with a tool that makes a groove either side of the rib. The tool would have a groove in the middle with kinda like a chisel on either side, but the outside bevels would sweep gently away at a low angle. Does that make sense? The rib produced would not actually be above the surface, just appear to be. Many relief carvings are done in a similar way. Is that "bas relief"? It's easier to push metal down than to pull it up!
   - grant - Saturday, 11/02/02 16:42:20 GMT

David Benson:

How do you build "a simple induction furnace"? I have high frequency induction heating systems and nothing about it is simple. I'm not trying to say it's not possible, I would just like to hear how it might be done. Sixty HZ induction is worthless for small parts or over the curie point, so how would you generate the 10,000 HZ or more needed for this?

Also, Did you really mean 1800 CELCIUS? That's really a special furnace. The ones Rugg is looking at go to 1800 or 2250 Farenheit.

   - grant - Saturday, 11/02/02 16:55:01 GMT

I just turned 75 years old this October. I have a 40# anvil and a acetylene/oxygen welding setup. I like to try to make small things ( like a candle holder) from wrought iron. when I finish with an item, the iron is usually colored and frequently has some slag on it. I have seen some commercially made iron items that have a clean, bare metal look. Is there some chemical or process that I can use to get a similar look to my work?

Thank you, in advance, for your help.

   Vince - Saturday, 11/02/02 18:26:20 GMT


i agree with grant there is no such thing as a 'simple induction furnace'. this was discussed on the hobbicast e-mail list back in april. the problems with building one are not trivial. given the voltages and frequencies required a homebuilt unit would be an accident waiting to happen.

terry l. ridder >
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 11/02/02 18:46:52 GMT

QC, i have a book written by bill bryson, title: heat treatment, selection, and application of tool steels. it discusses pretreatment, the "soak", minimizing decarburization, and tempering. there is also other key information and tips. i am a rookie "smith". i have read material fairly extensively, bought and borrowed. the reading, study, scetching, day dreaming, and this site prepares me for a planned forge day.
hopefully, in the not too distant future, i will be able to tend to the forge more than twice/month. the tools that i have bought do not satisfy me. i concluded that i will have to design or borrow designs and make my own. example: i bought some twisting wrenches, old philadelphia i believe. i hate them...i found and old pipe wrench and forged some decorative handles and welded them on. very cool and very useful. so, knowing that at least some projects in addition to basic tools will be needed, i , like anyone, need to make the stuff. the furnace that i described will allow me to use the forge and heat treat @ the same time. i dont have alot of spare time, so when i am able to get to the "shop", i like to get as much done as possible. sure, i could use the forge and strain to look at colors and use a magnet, but i know that the failure rate will be higher vs a controlled furnace, thus less efficient use of my time. air quenched steel should be a snap with the furnace. will post more when i get the unit and make something. one thing that bryson commented on was that just because you achieved the desired Rc, maximum performance and wear is not necessarily present.

one thing about this site that i find interesting is the experiences of the "rookies". i like the stories of first time successes and failures. i made a scroll jig using 1/4"X1" flat and found that it was too tight. this was after i forged the ends of 1/2" square, which for me took a while and lots of fuel. after bending the scrolls, i was not satisfied with the result. i will reshape them with a fork that i made. because of the jig failure, now i will make the jig according to a reference scroll made from a full scale drawing. i cant learn without failing. the fish tails did turn out very nice; large variance between width of the stock and the tail....

this W/E forge practice: a cross using 1/2" sq, sq tapered ends, joined on the "diamond" with a decorative rivet, twisted using a diamond pattern/technique that i read about. quench, you are somewhat of a rookie smith also, correct?? what are you working on lately???

thanks for the info/comments....
   rugg - Saturday, 11/02/02 19:31:13 GMT

Question: I want to weld silicon bronze sheet to a stainless steel frame, is this possible? Would there be problems in a sea atmosphere between the dissimilar metals?
   John Mc - Saturday, 11/02/02 21:34:59 GMT

Forged surface Vince, Work heated with oxy-acetylene tnds to get scaled heavily. The torch is also capable of melting the scale and making hard beads out of it. A forge does not oxidize the steel nearly as bad. However, gas forges produce more scale than coal and charcoal.

Many commercial items are not hot worked, they are bent or formed cold and have the same finish as when started. Work that is forged always has a scale (black oxide) finish unless the scale is removed. When wire brushed a scale finish is a shiney blue grey but when waxed or oiled looks black.

Scale can be removed mechanicaly or chemicaly. Chemical methods generaly require strong acids and the resulting acidic waste. Mechanical means include wire brushing, sand or grit blasting, tumbling or vibratory finishing.

For low labor tumbling or vibratory finishing work well and produce a nice finish as well as deburing sharp edges. Both use the same abrasive media. Tumblers has a slow speed drum in which the parts and abrasive media roll as the drum turns. Vibratory finishers have a tank or container full of abrasive media and the whole shakes. The vibration beats the media against the parts. Vibratory finishers are better for odd or complicated shaped parts thus are idea for forge work.

A vibratory finisher is actually easier to build than a tumbler. A strong steel tank is mounted on rubberized spring cushions. On the bottom of the tank a small motor is mounted with an out of balance weight attached to the shaft. The motor/weight shakes the whole thing. The motor needs to be heavy duty with ball bearings and an outboard bearing can increase the life of the motor if properly aligned.

Vibratory finishers are built on a very heavy base and it in turn needs to be on a heavy foundation preferably an isolated type like a power hammer and preferebly out doors due to the vibration.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/02/02 21:38:24 GMT

Today I bought a 289# PW. This also came with a Cast Iron anvil stand.Has anyone had any experience with this type of stand? Is it as good as or better than a stump or wooden stand ? Any input?
   Harley - Saturday, 11/02/02 22:26:31 GMT

John Mc:

I would TIG weld something like this using silicone bronze filler rod. Dissimilar metals DO experience galvanic corrosion in this situation. How much? Only time will tell.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/02/02 23:43:54 GMT


Sounds like you know where you want to go with this. As to decarb, I've put a few charcoal briquetts in my electric furnace just to eat up the oxygen, amazing how long they last in a tight furnace. Not looking to carburize, just deter decarburizing and scale. Your point about Rc values is right on the money. But, with proper Rc value AND proper procedure and you should have good results. Rockwell hardness just helps to confirm you did everything right.
   - grant - Sunday, 11/03/02 00:44:52 GMT

Guru, I have a project where the customer wants the bolt heads to have a rough forged look. My question is the coating on standard bolts dangerous if heated in a forge? If so how do I safly take the coating off? Thank-you William
   triw51 - Sunday, 11/03/02 00:46:18 GMT

RE: 110V electric furnace. I defer to your experience, I have never run one.
RE: Simple Induction Furnace : An oxymoron if I ever heard one. My company has two 36 MEGAWATT induction heating lines and a whole host of techs to feed and care for them.
RE: Abrasion resistance: Hardness is a fair indicator but the size and distribution of metal carbides is the key. D2 has very good abrasion resistance because of the high carbon and high chromium. The two combine to make massive chromium carbides which are harder than woodpecker lips and very abrasion resistant. However, the fully hardened D2 may be no harder than a .60% carbon spring steel fully hardened. The spring steel will not be as abrasion resistant, but it will probably be tougher.
RE: Rookie smith: Yes, Rugg, I have been at the forge less than a year. I come here to learn about smithing and pay my dues with a bit of metallurgy.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/03/02 00:58:54 GMT

any guidance on restoring a worn anvil face would be appreciated.
   Ben - Sunday, 11/03/02 01:05:51 GMT

Hi- I am a NOVICE to the world of blacksmithing and am wanting to build my own portable forge. I have access to scrap metal from the burning table I operate ( A36/SA36) carbon hot rolled plate in thicknesses from .250" to 1". This is I think classified as mild steel. my question is could I use this steel to build a forge and if so what would you suggest as a minimum thicknees for the portion of the forge in which the coals are heated(and does this portion of the forge have a name)? Any advice and guidance you may offer will be graetly appreciated.

kevin stevens
527 east beau st
   kevin stevens - Sunday, 11/03/02 01:39:01 GMT

guys Thanks for all the help. I love this site and will be back for more knowledge
   Rod - Sunday, 11/03/02 02:23:39 GMT

most bolt are coated with zinc. you can take the zinc of in a number of ways.(adn yes it is very bad for you to burn zinc) one way is to soke the bolts in an acid. (vinger will work) but then you have desolved zinc in acid... not so good. second way sand/grind it all off.(big pain and not fun if you need a lot of them. 3rd way sand/bead blast the bolts... only good if you ahve a sand blaster and zinc dust isn't all that nice either (same go's for sanding/grinding)
or you can take your chances in the forge..work in a well vented area but be carefull as zinc fever is cumaltive(sp?) adn once you get it it is easier to get it again along with some very nasty heath risks later in life. if it was me I would use the acid and deal with safely desposing of it better that the to get sick.
   MP - Sunday, 11/03/02 02:26:58 GMT


Yes, 1800 degrees Celcius. Small benchtop laboratory furnaces, lined with aluminum oxide refractory can achieve these temperatures. Again, the interior volume is small, about 0.25 cubic feet(6"x6"x12"). Not terribly useful unless you're making small items and you need precise temperature control for heat treatment. I have used these type of furnaces for fluxing ore samples, at 1000-1200 degrees Celcius, in platinum, zirconium oxide, or graphite crucibles. The furnace was rated to 1600 - 1800 Celcius at full power. The point is that these furnaces are available. I'd have to guess at the price, but I'd estimate that you could buy one for $500 to $1000, depending on the level of control you want over the temperature.

As far as "simple" induction furnaces go, what in life is truly simple? While I don't have detailed schematics just lying around, I recollect using a small induction furnace to melt aluminum for a lab in college. The equipment could melt a small(10lbs of metal) crucible of aluminum(650-700 Celcius) in less than 5 minutes. We used the aluminum to cast test pieces for measuring hardness in annealed, work-hardened and solution treated aluminum. The whole rig wasn't much bigger than some of the arc welders I've used. It ran off of 240 3 phase power, although I don't remember at what amperage. Keep in mind that the whole setup was done on a college lab budget. Which is to say that the parts were aquired by begging, borrowing, or stealing equipment.

As a second example, my welding instructor mentioned in passing that he worked with a fellow who repaired digging/excavating equipment. This fellow had a simple induction loop set-up so that he could brazeweld carbide teeth into cast iron fixtures for the scoop buckets on the equipment. This simple loop was able to heat 2-3 lbs of cast iron to suffice temperatures for brazewelding in a matter of seconds.

If you want, I'll run down the details on these two setups, but it'll take a while. Neither of these equipment setups required enormous power, as QC mentioned working with a 36 megawatt induction furnace; run by a crew of men. I think we're thinking in different sizes and scales gentleman.

Neither furnace could be assembled by a novice from old refrigerator parts. The transformers needed to supply high freqency AC power to the induction loop aren't going to be found just lying around in salvage yards. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. You just need the keys to an abandoned mad scientist's laboratory. ;) And a good reason to do it. I agree with Terry Ridder, an induction furnace isn't a hobbist's toy. But it's not science fiction either. It's a tool for a dedicated purpose.

Perhaps we've wandered away from the central topic of conversation, coal forges, anvils, and handcrafting...If you want more details send me email.
   David Benson - Sunday, 11/03/02 05:36:53 GMT

A bit more about torch heating ...run your heating flame adjustment a bit soft ( carborizing) and try not to overheat any given area and the scale will be much less.
When using a power wire brush to remove scale, be very careful ( see demo on this subject)

Anvilfire is a tremendous resource for many of us and the painless education we get from poking around in here
is enormously valuable!!
But if Anvilfire is to survive...MORE OF YOU BSers WILL HAVE TO JOIN CYBERSMITHS!!! AND SUPPORT THE GOOD GURU AND THIS SITE!!. Don't be some kind of parasite! Join up!!! or your poker will go limp and your welds fail, sure as ship.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 11/03/02 05:56:35 GMT

Electrical Power Devices: We have had two recent questions on building relatively sophisticated electrical or electromechanical devices. A MIG welder and an induction heater. Neither is truely difficult if you are willing to study the physics, research existing devices, do the math, wind your own coils. . . learn some digital circuitry.

But you must be williing to do the research and educate yourself in the various disciplines including the science.
Tim still wants someone to hand him the control circuit diagram for a MIG machine. . . The answers are in the technical specs for the servo motor and in basic solid state control chip instructions. If you study the technology rather than looking for a pat answer you will find that millions of old dot matrix printers and copiers that are available as scrap have circuits that could be adopted to the task and possibly motors and other components. The circuits use special DIP chip packages made to control stepper and servo motors that are easy to recognize and are the same parts on miniature devices as well as large. They can either power a small motor directly or a larger motor through switching transistors. OR you can purchase the translator package that is designed to power the motor and send it a digital signal to it to vary the speed. The speed of the signal controls the motor speed. Radio Shack sells the components and little manuals needed to understand the simple digital circuitry needed. The last time I needed to power a stepper motor I just used 60Hz DC made from AC using a single diode. I've been through these excersises and do not need to do it again . . . Its a great project. I know how to do it. Doing it requires obtaining the manuals and tech specs for the components you THINK you need and figuring out how it goes together and if it does then getting other manuals and figuring out what fits with what. . . . A wiring diagram for the motor I have sitting on the shelf probably won't work with the motor you find.

Induction heaters are similar. The coil is specific to the design and application. Different metals react differently to induction heating and require different coil designs. Unless you cobble parts off a device designed to do exactly what you want then plan on designing and winding your own coils. The making is not difficult, its the research and math . . . all available in basic texts. Early electrical experimenters had to draw their own wire and insulate it with cotton thread by hand before applying power and watching the carefully crafted hand wound coil burn up. . . THAT was hard.

There are several ways to make high frequency power. The modern (inexpensive) way is with digital switching power supplies. Like the controler for the MIG machine the parts are available from a variety of sources. You can build the whole from scratch or use components such as a frequency generator and chopping power supply. There are many sources for the chips components and instructions in their use.

MIG machine, Induction heater, X-Y axis torch gantry. . . Home satelite dish. . . They are all great intellectual projects. But these are projects you need to answer most of your own questions about. You won't know if YOU can do the project unless you do your own research. I KNOW I can and I know many of the answers. But I also know there are too many detailed questions to answer that only the person doing the project can answer. AND you won't learn anything if someone gives you the answer.

When I was 9 or 10 I built crystal radios with hand wound coils, foil capacitors and razor blade surface resistance tuner. My last one had a two stage coil a dry cell filter, diode rectifier and thin plate tuner. My 7th grade science project was a Van de Graff generator and a later one was a hand built electric motor. I repaired and rewired a lot household devices in my early teens, rewired parts our family home in my later teens (sorting out messes created by licensed electricians). I've rewired automobiles (every wire). This background was applied to wiring machine tool controls and building automated controls that looked like something from a science fiction movie. . . The last used commercial programmable controls along side of hand built power supplies. It was all the same, research the science, work out the logic, find the pieces, figure out how they go together. . . From the 7th grade science project to the building of automated machines it was all the same. I am not an electronics wiz. . far from it. But there is a certain discipline to researching these projects. You either figure it out or you don't. I personaly don't think anyone else can answer these questions for you.
Example MIG Motor Control:
  1. Determine needed wire speed range
  2. Obtain servo motor with worm reducer of correct size *
  3. Design/make motor drive wheels.
  4. Determine motor speed based on wheel size, gear reduction and wire speed range.
  5. Obtain the motor translator and power supply parts based on motor specs.
  6. Fabricate a pulse generator in the needed range to match the motor and translator (servo control).
  7. Build and test.
All the steps above have variables relative to the machine size, motor and gear box selected. Due to these variables there cannot be a universal control circuit design.

Superior Electric has a great manual for their stepper/servo motors and sells matching translators or complete control packages.

Radio Shack has a series of small manuals on building digital circuits and the part to build the circuits.

* Engineering hint: A roll of MIG wire weighs 40 pounds. The servo motor load handling torque is based on its armature mass and the gear reduction. The moment of inertia of the roll of wire is half way from the inside of the reel surface to the outside of the roll. The motor must overcome the inertia of the 40 pound roll of wire plus the friction of the wire in the feed cable plus a safety factor. These are the factors for sizing the motor. Once you have determined the inertia and friction loads the Superior Electric manual will help you select the needed motor. The Superior manual and MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK should have enough info to do the calculations. Sharpen your pencil.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/03/02 09:25:00 GMT

triw51, Use muriatic acid to remove the zinc coating. You can buy it off the shelf at your local hardware store.
   - Robert ironworker - Sunday, 11/03/02 14:15:48 GMT

A company named TOCCO sells a machine-shop sized induction heater (25 kw) that includes the power supply, cables, controls, etc. in a box about the size of a large microwave. It uses simple, single turn coils that can be made to fit by the user. Granted, the heater may suffer from inefficiencies due to poor coil designs but it is made for SMALL workshop. I am not sure of the prices but as I recall, they were in the $2500 range. These are all solid state machines and should be fairly reliable. However, to the average Joe Smith, they are not simple to build. I have worked with businesses who forged upsets on the ends of drill pipe and production tubing for oilfield applications who used induction to heat the ends of the pipe prior to forging. Most of the experienced operators hated the induction systems, claiming the gas forges gave a more uniform heat and better quality upset. This might be related to the inevitable compromises on operating frequency when one has to use one device for a variety of applications.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/03/02 14:44:45 GMT

QC, in BTU's that is a LOT of machine 25Kw = 85,325 BTU. . . but compared to a small gas forge that is only about twice as big as an NC-Whisper Daddy and a little bigger than my big forge which is not close to being an industrial size gas forge (estimates based on gas consumption). For "one-size fits all" there has never been anything that approaches the efficiency of a solid fuel forge. . . BUT. . 25kW is also more than many small shop electrical services can handle.

When heating parts to specific temperatures with an induction heater a contact thermocouple must be used as you cannot go by the air or furnace temperature. More tech expense.

The problem with heating in many small electric furnaces is the atmosphere. In a gas forge you have a chance of a reducing atmosphere and at worse a slightly oxidizing atmosphere but even then it is much better than normal air. When you go to electric heating it is common to use inert gas atmospheres (another expense). The problem will be greater in an undersized furnace where heating times are slower because the part will be exposed to the air while the surface is at a red heat much longer. . . .

If you want to heat steel fast with low tech, a resistance heater can be nearly instantaneous. But the short term power requirements are huge. I've seen a bar heater where two heavy welding cables were atached to a 3/4" x 3" by 5 foot bar, the power turned on, and in about 3 seconds the entire piece was a nice orange heat. . . (1, 2, 3!) It was like handling a big limp cooked noodle. I don't have a clue what the KW requirements were but this was FAST! Another resistance heater that was used at the end of the riveted structure era and may still be available was an electric rivet heater. The operator held the rivet in a pair of pick-up tongs, rested one end on a copper electrode, pressed a foot peddle that clamped another copper electrode down on the other end of the rivet and in about two seconds a big 3/4" or 1" rivet was HOT! Fast, efficient and almost NO scaling. There was also no fire to tend and decarburization of the rivet was prevented.

Both these devices were simple transformer devices like a buzz box (AC transformer welder) but on a much larger scale. In fact, for the size rivets most decorative smiths deal with a common shop welder is probably large enough. How long does it take to nearly melt a 1/8" x 12" welding rod when it gets stuck. . not long.

On the other hand, another simple electric resistance device we looked at, the water pail forge (LaGrange-Hoho forge) used line voltage DC (240VDC) to do the same thing. It also needed a high capacity power supply.

In fact, most electrical devices of the type we are discussing ARE simple to build, especialy in this era where you can purchase almost any descrete component you need off the shelf. We are talking about simple heating devces. What IS difficult is the designing of the device and yes that is far beyond the willingness of most.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/03/02 17:14:30 GMT

Pete F tell me more about cybersmiths and what it does. Thank you William
   triw51 - Sunday, 11/03/02 19:32:41 GMT


At the bottom of page window, click on CSI 0 anvilfire MEMBERS Group.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/03/02 21:06:55 GMT

My two-year-old, 150 pound anvil is showing two 3/8" long cracks at two corners of the hardie hole on the top surface. This is the kiss of death for an anvil right? It would seem its only a matter of time before the end cracks off at the hardie hole........its a London style traditional anvil with the hardie hole stuck out near the end.

The anvil was purchased NEW here locally, and was manufactured locally too. It is a ductile iron anvil that was cast,machined to spec, and then heat treated.

Should I wait until it breaks and then pursue refund/exchange issues with the retailer......or should I attempt a refund/exchange with the cracks "in progress."

Because I have yet to contact the retailer and give him the opportunity to "make it right," I will not identify him or the anvil brand yet.

Any comments?

   Gary - Sunday, 11/03/02 23:42:34 GMT

Guru, that is 25kW out, not in. Runs on 220V input, step up transformer gets you way big volts but low amps. However, coil efficiencies may be as low as 10% so the rated capacity is to the coil bus bar. If you can get as much as 5-10 kW out of the unit, you are doing pretty good. The unit was intended to give fast localized heating to medium and small parts. I have seen examples of resistance heating used to heat treat stabilizer bars (actually, tubes). The tube was CNC bent, mounted in a fixture with copper clamps and heated to quenching temperature in 2-3 seconds. Fast but the bends tended to overheat due to increased resistance from cold working. And, the points where the contacts gripped the tube also got hotter. Regarding the building of various electronic devices, we are on different levels. You build machinery, most of the rest of us just use it. Maybe we should peek inside once in a while and appreciate the sophistication of some of those "simple" devices.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 11/04/02 00:25:06 GMT

Guru, I found the website for Tocco : http://www.tocco.com/aat/products/tron_ac_5_25/tron_ac_5_25.htm . The little one I was thinking of is 5 kW and the larger one was 25 kW. However, even the large one is not much bigger than a Lincoln 225 welder.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 11/04/02 00:37:12 GMT

Is it OK to use compression fittings for propane and NG? What about valves? I've got a ball valve that says 600 WOG on the side. Is the WOG water, oil, gas? (Like drain, waste, vent.)
   Jovan Paprocki - Monday, 11/04/02 03:05:22 GMT

Jovan, Yes but it depends on the local building code (if it is a code application). Copper pipe with compression fittings are commonly used on propane installations but most codes call for threaded iron pipe for NG. However, many pieces of NG equipment have compression fittings on the equipment.

Always follow the compression fitting instructions and test for leaks.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 05:37:27 GMT

QC, kW out cannot be more than kW in. In fact there has to be some loss. . .

Bends in tubing probably overheated on the outside of the bends where the material was stretched and considerably thinner.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 05:41:14 GMT

Can steel be patinated to achieve a finish like that of a verde patina on copper? If so, any suggestions of of patinas. If not I'll switch applications to copper.

   crazyhammer - Monday, 11/04/02 07:32:46 GMT

I would appreciate any tips about mounting 1\4 inch tempered glass in a pair of fireplace doors I am currently building. I'm concerned about metal to glass contact, fastening ideas, and any other pitfalls someone may have experienced.
   charlie - Monday, 11/04/02 08:11:00 GMT

Guru and Pete: thanks for your information on cleaning metal.

A note on coal... I tried to find some local ( North western PA) What I got was a 55 gal. barrel full (300#) for $7.00. Needless to say it smoked terribly. I read that Anthrax was the blacksmiths choice. I talked to three different blacksmiths and they all said I would have to drive to South eastern PA or to Kentucky to get it. One day, ond a long drive, I stumbled onto a retail coal yard that sold all types of coal. H was out of Anthrax and said he would not get more for several months so he refered me to a retail store that sell wood and coal stoves. I called them and they did have and sold Anthrax in 40# bags. This store was along ways from where I live, so I looked in the phone book and the first stove store that I called was about 20 miles away. I can buy Anthrax from them in 40# bags for just under $4.00 a bag. I could not believe that the blacksmiths that I had talked to did not suggest this typy of a source. It's so cheap and so close and convient. Could there be something wrong with this coal?

   Vince - Monday, 11/04/02 12:12:11 GMT

Charlie: Consider ceramic for the doors instead of glass. MUCH much stronger. About 3 times the price last I checked and well worth it if there is any chance the doors will get hit by anything. Tempered glass is a waste of time if the doors will get hot. Takes the temper out of the glass and you end up with nothing stronger than plain window glass. Some pyrex is good, but I've found the ceramic to be best. As long as the slight amber cast is not an issue.

As far as mounting goes, clamping the glass (not to tight)into a strong frame with enough gap for differential movement has worked well. The frame must be true flat so it does not put stress in the glass. If the glass gets hot, fireplace silicone will harden and crack. There are gasketing materials that work as a cushion to the glass.

My fireplace is glass panels all around with one larger panel in a metal frame as the door to put the wood in. I modified a design by Malm fireplaces. The logs roll into the glass occasionally. Nothing but the ceramic holds up. Your situation may not be as demanding on the glass.
   - Tony - Monday, 11/04/02 12:52:54 GMT


Reference the logs rolling into the glass. Sounds like you need to get out to the shop and make a pair of andirons or a basket.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/04/02 13:35:34 GMT

Paw Paw, I knew someone was going to get me on that! Grin.

This is a free standing fireplace design that shows the fire on all sides. In addition. with the air coming in through the partially open door, a swirl effect is setup that twists the flame around. Beautiful. Like sitting around a camp fire inside your living room. A little unsafe for the lacking in common sense. Log rolls into glass, busts glass and falls on the floor, burning the house down kinda thing.

Malm had recommended a 8 foot non combustible hearth around the thing, but many didn't do it. Of course, that was Malm's fault, right.

Malm's answer was to put expanded metal around the inside of the glass and it screwed the visuals up, but satisfied the liability issue. My adaptation has a 3 inch deep depression in the bottom which is made of firebrick with a firebrick rim 3 inches inside the glass panels. So as long as you take the ash out when it builds up, the firebrick depression acts as a basket. Well, and as long as the fire is a reasonable size. Me and reasonable sized fires don't get along. Last night, I was cold from working outside, so I piled the wood on. Some rolled into the glass. The ceramic has taken it for 10 years now. No glass I tried did.

Also put the whole thing in a masonry base about 8 feet across that keeps the little ones hands away from the hot stuff and acts as a shelf in case a piece of wood would ever get through the ceramic. The masonry acts as thermal mass to heat the house through the night also.

I like flame. Must be careful with it though. Grin!
   - Tony - Monday, 11/04/02 14:00:11 GMT

Coal: Charlie, Anthrax is a disease that normally affects cattle and was recently used as a terror weapon. . Maybe you mean "Anthracite".

Anthracite is "hard coal" and is not the best for blacksmithing. It burns well but is hard to start and hart to keep going. Bituminius (soft coal) of the highest grade is used by blacksmiths. The better grades primarily come from the "Pochahantus" seam that stretches through PA, KY and West Virginia.

Currently good smithing coal is selling for around $15 for a 50 pound bag plus shipping or around $150/ton by the truck load depending on how far it has been shipped.

Yes, it is getting harder and harder to find good coal even in "coal country". As less people use it for domestic heating there are less and less coal dealers and you have to travel farther and farther. But you are lucky compared to many. Pennsylvania and West Virginia coal is sought after and hauled by blacksmiths to every state in the U.S. and Canada as well.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 14:11:23 GMT

Patina's: Crazyhammer, these are the natural colors produced by the oxidation of metal. Copper turns brown from oxidation then slowly green from acidic rain. Iron turns red and brown but is often black under water from bacteria and the chemicals such as tannin disolved in the water.

Iron and steel can be copper plated then colored but that is a great expense. Generaly if you want steel to be any other color than heat scale black or rust red you must paint it.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 14:17:48 GMT

Ductile Iron Anvil: Gary, IF your anvil IS in fact ductile iron, it is soft and is very weldable. Ductile iron is sort of a cheap castable version of mild steel (it starts as cast iron and is innoculated with magnesium to cause the excess carbon to form little graphite spheres or nodules in the iron). It is used to make items that are less expensive than a steel forging but that have ductile properties and are weldable. It is not a premium anvil material.

Many farriers anvils are made of ductile iron because they are used primarily for cold work and somewhat abused. These are considered a consumable tool in the trade. Cheap, short lived and disposable. Some of these manufacturers make general smithing anvils from the same material. . .

As to how to deal with the manufacturer, that is up to you. I would contact them, be non-confrontational and talk about the problem. Most local manufacturers stand behind their product and will repair or replace defective anvils. I suspect that in this case they may offer to repair it.

Anvils vary in quality primarily from their materials of construction followed by quality of manufacturing.

Anvil materials from best to worse
  • Forged tool steel
  • Cast tool steel
  • Tool steel face on wrought body
  • Tool steel face on cast iron body
  • Fabricated steel, hard faced
  • Ductile Iron
  • Chilled Cast Iron (marginal)
  • Cast Iron Anvil Shaped Object (not realy an anvil)

In the era when every tool catalog had several grades of anvil and they were sold by the thousands, the best forged anvils sold at (for comparison purposes) 5 cents/pound. Then the steel faced cast iron anvils (Fisher Norris Eagle) sold for 3 cents/pound and smal chilled cast iron anvils 1 cent/pound.

When the same seller was carrying a range of grades it was obvious which was the best. Today very few delears carry more than one line and we have unscrupulous dealers selling ASO's claiming "great rebound" and other key phrases that only apply to top quality anvils. BUT, when sold honestly that 5 to 1 ratio still applies. But during the era I mention above almost nobody had the audacity to try to sell cast iron anvils. . .
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 15:02:57 GMT

Thanks Guru,
Is there anything I need to watch out for using ball valves? Are there there any common ball valves that I should not use with propane? The lever ball valves at my hardware store say water, oil, air.
   Jovan - Monday, 11/04/02 16:04:53 GMT


I would double check, but if I remember correctly, WOA valves are NOT approved for gas. You'll need to get them from a plumbing supplier. Gas molecules are much smaller than air molecules, so the valves need to be made to tighter tolerances. I'm not absolutely certain that that is correct, but better safe than sorry. This is not an area to take chances in.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/04/02 16:38:15 GMT

If it says WOG, does that mean it is okay for gas?
   Jovan - Monday, 11/04/02 17:11:34 GMT

By gas I mean propane and not just the much lower pressure NG.
   Jovan - Monday, 11/04/02 17:25:02 GMT

I'm concerned about glass to metal contact on a pair of fireplace doors I'm currently building using 1\4 inch tempered glass on steel though copper is an option. Any ideas on fastening?
   charlie - Monday, 11/04/02 17:26:17 GMT

Jovan, I'm not certain, but I think WOG does mean Water, Oil, Gas. I'd really like for you to double check me though. Look in the phone book and call a plumbing supplier, just to be sure.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/04/02 17:32:51 GMT

OK, thanks,
   Jovan - Monday, 11/04/02 17:33:28 GMT

Re: cracked 150 pound anvil.

Thanks for your detailed reply Guru!

The retailer of this anvil does a mostly ferrier oriented business, and most of his anvils are designed for farrier use. I clearly remember him stating this anvil is ductile iron. I paid around $400 for this anvil, but clearly if it's cracking after two years this is turning into a rather pricey short-lived anvil.

I wouldn't say this anvil is soft.....seller claimed over 50 Rockwell hardness through-and-through, after heat treatment process. And when I initially filed down the tiny rough spots inside the hardie hole, the metal seemed rather resitant to quick filing.

Is it true that Peddinghaus is the ONLY forged anvil still made today? (tool steel used?)

Would the Nimba anvils, being 8640 steel, be considered a cast tool-steel anvil?

While the cracks could be ground back to clean material, and then welded, I fear this process would likely repeat itself again and again. I guess I have lost confidence in this anvil and would prefer to get into something like the Peddinghaus that should last a lifetime.

Having the hardie hole located in the thickest part of the anvil , and located closer to the center of mass, I now see has its benefits.....both strength-wise and anvil stability during heavy use.

   Gary - Monday, 11/04/02 17:50:44 GMT

Re leaf veining---one other technique I did not see mentioned is making leaves from angle iron. The vertex of the angle is thicker than the sides so you have a built in raised vein. Often made by folding the angle iron closed and working the basic shape that way and then opening it up and finishing up the leaf.

Triphammer vs Forge---say what? A triphammer should run you close to US$1000 while a forge should cost under US$100 or even US$0 with a bit of scrounging and welding---I just don't see the "triphammer *or* a forge" Shoot even my gas forge cost under $100 and that was done with all new stuff!
If you have the chance to get a hammer now and may not have it later they generally store in the corner of the shop real well while you learn the basics...

Ductile iron would not seem to be a good choice for an anvil---new or old. What made you go with it?. What type of heat treat did it have? I'd definitly get them in on it *now* as the anvil has the least "miles" on it and you can show it wasn't abused. OTOH what are they going to do; give you another ductile iron ASO?

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 11/04/02 18:15:41 GMT

I'm looking to make a nice portable coal forge, preferably something that breaks down so I can get my camping gear, armor (yeah SCA), b-smithing stuff all in one minivan...
Anyone know of some good plans? I'm kind of a visual designer so pics could work too. Thanks!
   SteelGeek - Monday, 11/04/02 18:43:19 GMT

Will try to keep this one short.. emphasis on try.

Thanks for the suggestions on the Rack.. I've gone back to the drawing board on it and I think it'll be more stable designing it from the "top down".. figuring how I'm going to hang it before I start to design it.

I've read all the pages and dug through all the books, but I will ask for an opinion here. What steel works best for a short knife blade? I have some 5160, and am looking at buying some of the S7 Drill rod from the "store" link here.. would one of those hold a good edge? I'm looking for something I can heat treat in my forge fairly easily, as I don't have a lot of money. Would this work? I'd like to avoid stainless, as I've never done any heat treating there. I've worked with 5160 several times, and have a nice set of chisels and a punch that have held up nicely.. but holding an edge in a hot chisel and holding a knife edge are different. Any favorites from the Guru Crew?

The person who wants the knife has made an.. interesting request. They want the tang visiable down half the handle, with hardwood scales, then they want Stag for the rest. Obviously getting the two pieces to fit together isn't the issue.. will take some work, but I'm stubburn enough to work at it. But what is the best way to attach the stag to the tang? Keep it "full" tang and rivet it through? Or would I want to take it down to a smaller tang and push it through somehow? This'll be my first time working in stag like this.. so any suggestions will be MUCH appreciated.

They've also asked that I keep the temper colors on the blade. I'm keen on this because it means less polish work when I'm done.. but I may as well ask to be safe: Any reason I shouldn't do this?

On a side note: The money I make on this knife will go to paying for my CSI membership.. assuming a blatant novice would be welcome.

Congrats Guru on the numbers.

Robert "Asgard"
HPL Steele
A little less long winded but just as inquisitive.
   Robert "Asgard" - Monday, 11/04/02 19:01:13 GMT

hi guru,
i am making a homemade forging hammer. i need to know the best material for the dies. i have access to heat treaters for them to do all the processes. i would like to machine the dies and before i use they will be welded to a base plate. thanks, rich
   rich - Monday, 11/04/02 19:41:20 GMT


Check out the Anvilfire News, Volume 3, and Volume 10 page 11 for various modern and medieval forge designs of compactness and portability. Someday I'll post my latest medieval setup.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/04/02 21:07:54 GMT

Hammer Dies: Rich, Currently small hammer makers use a variety of steels and they all hold up. Big industrial open die (blacksmith) hammers use steels such as 4150 and 4160. The Kaynes use SAE 4140 and Bullhammer uses H13. Old hammers such as Little Giant used something close to 1095. My EC-JYH used old Railroad rail which is roughly 1075. I was demonstrating the use of hand held tool use on it yesterday forging annealed cold steel using a mild steel bar as a fuller. . . The unhardened dies dies showed no affect. . .

Almost any tool steel will work. General purpose hammer dies wear from abrasion more than anything else. Hard scale wears the dies. They also get chipped and cracked from being too hard or having too sharp of edges. OR being a bad fit. . . If welding to the base plate warps the plate you need to be sure to grind or machine the bottom of the plate flat.

For hot forging mild steel I know smiths that make impression dies out of mild steel that hold up fine for thousands of parts. If the dies are short use AND do not have sharp edges in the impression AND you are careful to blow out loose scale, mild steel dies will hold up quite well. Yes, tool steel dies would be better, but if they are not needed then why spend the money?

SAE 4140 is commonly available and is not as expensive as other tool steels. SAE 5160 is a commonly available spring and tool steel that would also make good dies. When you weld tool steel die material you need to be sure to preheat the steel (hot work steels like H13 need to be very hot) and use a welding rod designed for high alloy steels (as your local welding supplier).

Probably a more important question is what shape to make the dies. Universal dies (half radius/half flat) are common on small hammers but if you are going to use a lot of hand held or clamp on tooling then flat dies are much more useful.
When we visited Bill Epps he was showing off his universal die holder that had a square hole with clamping screw of to one side as well as a couple drilled and tapped holes. The holder was mild steel plate and replaced his lower die. When he had plain forging to do he did it on the heavy mild steel (A36) plate. Various bottom and spring dies could be changed out in seconds (less than the time it takes to take another heat). In Bill's case he had replaced the bottom die with this holder. Many folks also clamp a holder onto the flat dies. There a popular method using two plates and two bolts where the clamping bolts are used to hold the die shank with the cross plate clamping it to the side of the die. This is a lousy method that works loose and must be tightened and loosened with a wrench. A good holder is either clamped to the die or bolted to the anvil and has a seperate die shank socket hand screw if it needs tightening.

Bill's die holder had a drilled and taped hole in the front to hold dies built on a piece of angle iron. Although removing and replacing the bolt was not as fast as the hand screw on the outboard end of the holder it was still fast and simple. It also made making dies easy.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 21:30:11 GMT


I'd drill the stag almost all the way through, but not quite, forge the tang down, fill the hole in the stag with JB Weld and push the tang in. Unless you want to do a completely "period" job, then there is a mix of pine sap and deer droppings that some of the neo-tribal folks think highly of that could be used for epoxy. But the epoxy would hold a lot better, and since it can't be seen.....
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/04/02 21:48:51 GMT

As for a "blatant novice" being welcome, of course you will be welcome to CSI!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/04/02 21:49:38 GMT

Anvils: Gary, The Peddinghaus is the only forged steel anvil currently sold in North America. There IS another small European maker that forges anvils but they are not imported into the US. We had thought that Peddinghaus was the last. . . only nearly so,

Yes the Nimba is tool steel and well hardened and tempered. The 8600 series alloy is a deep hardening tool steel and makes a very good anvil.

Placement of hardy holes is often more for convienience than for good structural design. The best German and old Austrian anvils had the hardy holes next to the body of the anvil. This made a very deep hole but it was in the strongest place it could be and still be open at the bottom. Being next to the body also made them better for heavy punching. The hole is over the foot so the anvil does not tip. On many farrier's anvils an oversized (sometimes round) hardy hole is far out on a thin heal. This makes a very convienient hole for turning and adjusting shoes. It also makes a very weak anvil.

One of the new imported Western European anvils claims to be a copy of the Otto Schmirler Austrian pattern anvil but it is not. One of several design deviations is that the hardy hole is moved out on the heal. This is a case of the founder or pattern maker making the design decisions. It is much easier to make a short core than a long one. Nimba and Peddinghaus have the holes close to the body and drills and broaches their hardy holes.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 21:58:15 GMT

Paw-paw, Fuel gas molecules (even methane) are not smaller than air molecules they are all larger. But a miniscule air leak does not lead to explosion and fire.

Jovan, again, the question goes back to if the device is code or not. I think ball valves with stainless balls and teflon seats are approved for NG and propane. On the other hand the old style gas-cocks are the absolutely worst designed valves I have ever seen. I used one on my first gas forge (they were still standard code hardware) and it leaked any time the tension nut was adjusted to where you cold operate the valve easily. When it was tight enough not to leak it took a wrench. . . Those I've operated in domestic gas systems needed to be checked for leaks anytime they were operated.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 22:09:57 GMT

Jovan, RE compression fittings for propane. I ran a propane line with a number of compression fittings from a gas company supplied 200# tank. Everything worked fine. One day a service type guy from the gas company happened to see the line and fittings. He got on his cell phone and within 30 minutes the propane tank was removed. He said they would be happy to sell me propane again once I replaced all compression fittings with flare type fittings, no ands,ifs,or buts. He says that's code, written in stone.
   bbeck - Monday, 11/04/02 22:11:28 GMT

Robert S7 makes great hot work tools and is also pretty good for cold work. However, cutting bevels for steel working tools are much fatter than what you find on a knife and the edges are dull. I havent tried it but I doubt S7 will hold an edge that would be acceptable in a knife blade
   adam - Monday, 11/04/02 22:16:14 GMT

Am trying to find out what "Spelter" is. I am considering buying a statue made of spelter and would like to know if this is considered a reasonable metal (superior or inferior?) for statues. Is it possibly a metal that was once considered ok but is now out of favor? Would love to know more about it. If you don't know, maybe you could direct me to a spot where I might find the information?
Thanks so much,
Irene Lester
   Irene Lester - Monday, 11/04/02 22:20:59 GMT

Code Copper Gas Lines: Bbeck, thanks for clearing that up. I always think of compression fittings when I see copper tubing and forget about flared fittings. . .

That is another one where I have seen too many badly made flares that leaked. . . Compression fittings come in a great variety of quality and I suspect the bad ones are the reason they are not used on gas.

The last bulk tank I setup I made a black iron pipe manifold with welding valves for the hook ups. It was leak tested at the maximum pressure of our air compressor. The gas company made the copper line connection from the tank to the manifold. The manifold fed a torch and a furnace I built.

Devices you build (like a forge) do not necessarily need to meet code. But as soon as it comes under code then the rules are differnt.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 22:33:35 GMT

Spelter: Irene, Spelter is zinc. It was a popular metal for making production sculpture castings in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Some are painted and others are plated. It is cheaper and much easier to cast than brass or bronze. Spelter statuary is "collectable" and the "value" is determined by the whims of the antique and collectable market. Value and pricing in the collectable market is out of our field.

Today zinc and zinc alloys are used for MANY things. Many machine and car parts are made of zinc including most of the chrome plated pieces (if they are not plastic). Many appliance bodies and toys (Match box cars) are made of zinc. Inexpensive chrome plated bathroom fixtures are made of zinc. In the 50's and 60's cheaply made Japanese import items were often made of dirty (thus weak) zinc (called "pot metal") anf it got a bad reputation. But modern zinc-aluminium alloys are as strong as bronze and make as good a bearing material in many applications. It is most commonly molded in high pressure systems that make lightweight and precision parts. The probablity is that you touch or use zinc parts every day.
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 22:54:53 GMT

I forgot to mention that since 1983 the American penny has been made out of copper clad zinc. . .
   - guru - Monday, 11/04/02 23:06:31 GMT

Hello, I am in Illinois and noticed you dont have any coal suppliers on the list in the Coal Scuttle. Well, I get my coal from City Coal & Asphalt inc. 225 n Second St. Pekin Illinois (309) 346-0564
   dunchadh - Monday, 11/04/02 23:49:51 GMT

Re: patina, visit the stained glass dealer,one that is used locally involves copper sulphate and gives steel a nice verdigris look,experiment on scrap ,
   bbb - Tuesday, 11/05/02 01:47:02 GMT

Thanks all for the info on gas valves and fittings. I called my local plumbing supplier about valves and he said yes indeed the WOG stands for water, oil, gas, but he did not know if this meant it qualified for use with propane, but that one should look for the CSA symbol (a 'c' encircling 'sa').
   Jovan - Tuesday, 11/05/02 01:58:52 GMT

I was wondering what is the maximum thickness of plate steel that can be cut with a 1/4" cutoff wheel on a table saw. I am wanting to make a firepot and I want the sides as thick as possible. I would like 1/2" to 5/8" thickness and am wanting to know if this can be cut reasonably with a table saw.
   Blackhammer - Tuesday, 11/05/02 02:35:37 GMT

If it is a good table saw I would not use it to cut metal as the grit will weld itself all over the inside of your saw. I used my miter saw to cut steel once and was scraping and wiping grit for weeks. I would also be worried about binding the blade. I made a firepot out of 1/4" cut and welded with an oxy/acetylene torch and it sat outside for a couple years of use, no problems. My Victor cutting torch has tips available for cutting up to 12" thick if you want to get really massive.
   Jovan - Tuesday, 11/05/02 02:50:34 GMT

Thanks Jovan. I hadn't thought about the blade binding, or the grit problems. I don't have a torch, so I was trying to find another method. I guess I'll have the metal shop torch cut the pieces for me.
   Blackhammer - Tuesday, 11/05/02 03:17:21 GMT

I hadn't even considered using epoxy... I'll use the Weld.. I'm not very fond of handling deer dung myself. That's brilliant. I'll let you know how it goes.

Now I just need to figure out what steel to use. Customer asked for RR spike but I talked them out of it (heard nasty things about them not holding an edge).. so if S7 won't do I may just go with the 5160.. unless anyone knows something better?

Robert "Asgard"
CSI Here I come
   - Robert "Asgard" - Tuesday, 11/05/02 03:46:30 GMT


You can also use the epoxy to "glue" the slabs to the handle, in additon to pinning them. Double security, and the "excess" JB Weld can be cleaned off during the finishing phase. As for leaving the temper colors, I'd polish the blade pretty good, and as bright as possible. Then heat a piece of heavy steel (minimum 1" thick if possible) in the forge, set the back of the blade on the slab, watch the colors run, and quench it when the edge gets to blue. That should give you a good edge, and brilliant colors on the rest of the blade, both.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/05/02 03:50:14 GMT

OH! Do the coloring BEFORE you do the epoxying!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/05/02 03:51:08 GMT

Stag Knife Handle
I do my stag handles the same as Paw paw but the deer here are whitetail or muleys and they have a soft punky centre to the antler so I have been useing a polyurethane glue. It needs moisture to cure but it expands when it cures and forces it's self into the punky core stablizing it quite a bit more. Brand name I use is elmers probond, just happened to be what was at the co-op
   - JimG - Tuesday, 11/05/02 04:09:25 GMT

Blackhammer- Don't use abrasive blades n a table saw. You'll ruin it. On the other hand, I've cut aluminum, brass and steel plate on a table saw using a carbide-tipped blade. I use a 10" 80 tooth triple-chip grind blade and paraffin/soap lubricant. I wear more protective clothing than a haz-mat team, because the chips are hot enough to scar you. With the correct jigging for anti-kickback and rake, it works fine. The thickest stock I've cut was 1-1/2" brass. I've also done it using a hand-held circular saw and clamp-on guides. The newer industrial cut-off saws now use carbide blades, by the way. REMEMBER...use ALL the safety gear!
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/05/02 04:10:05 GMT

I'll second Vicopper's admontion about safety gear! It does no good at all haning on the wall, but it may save your life if you are wearing it!!!!

   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/05/02 04:15:19 GMT

Answered my next question PawPaw. Was going to ask if I should use a torch or a plate for tempering to get a good even color. Maybe I'll make two of these things.. I'm starting to like the way it's coming together and I need a new knife..

Mine is whitetail too JimG, I'll have to stroll on over to the coop and see if they have some of that elmers probond. Hope it's not too expensive... if the cost gets too high I might revert to that pinesap method.. crossing my fingers.

Robert "Asgard"
HPL Steele
Always needs a new knife.
   - Robert "Asgard" - Tuesday, 11/05/02 04:24:41 GMT

Copper sulfate /// BBB
It's great stuff. But it also poisonous when ingested. It was used as a rat poison in the 1800's. Keep the copper sulfate-water solution out of the eyes and out of our mouths. Use gloves and wash thoroughly afterwards. Please do NOT leave the used solution lying around where the children, pets or livestock can get at it.
Do not dump the spent solution down the drain, we've got more than enough crud in our environment already. I suppose the water can be allowed to evaporate off and the blue-green copper sulfate recovered. Or the solution can be kept in a sealed glass bottle with a plastic cap,for another day.
Regards from the G.W.N. (Montreal sector), where it was snowing this morning.
   slag - Tuesday, 11/05/02 04:31:37 GMT

Robert, I keep a couple of pieces of 1" plate around the shop.

Keep an eye open for an old gas station/garage being torn down. The lifting arms from the old hydraulic lifts are good steel, and handy as he**!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/05/02 04:37:38 GMT

your idea of getting temper colours in a blade is how I do most of my normal 'differential' tempering of blades. I lay the blade spine down on the hot block and let it run to the edge....

just my nickels worth
   Ralph - Tuesday, 11/05/02 05:58:36 GMT

Respected GuruJi,

We are require to bend the 3"X16" Steel bar in 3500mm DIA with minimum 50,000 psi yield strength in Hardway. We are planning to manufacture a bending roll to do this job, please let us know on what basis we should calculate the H.P of motor and what type of gear box should be used, waht should be the material specification for gears.

Thanking you and looking forward to hear at the earliest.

Ajay Kapoor
   Ajay Kapoor - Tuesday, 11/05/02 11:58:32 GMT

what kind of tools do blacksmiths use?
   Athena - Tuesday, 11/05/02 15:10:10 GMT


Blacksmiths use a forge to heat steel, tongs to hold the hot steel, an anvil to support the hot steel and a hammer to shape it. They also use punches, chisles saws and files. A modern blacksmith shop also includes many types of welding machines and machine tools such as drill presses, lathes, milling machines, shapers. Machines specific to blacksmithing include power hammers, upsetters, presses and rolls.

Dunchadh, Fred holder of The Blacksmiths Gazette maintains the coal suppliers list. Please write to him.

CSA Jovan, That means Canadian Standards Association International. Its a lot like "UL" and is required on code devices in Canada. The guy at your plumbing supply doesn't know Jack. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/05/02 16:42:15 GMT

I have a cheapy (HF quality ) table saw that I use for cutting steel with an abrasive blade. I use 14" cutoff blades that have worn down to about 9". Works fine and is very handy. Particularly good for "ripping" a piece of leaf spring w/o having to aneal it first. I havent cut anything thicker than 5/16" with it. I certainly wouldnt do this with a good table saw. A stream of sparks shoots out the front at about belly button ht and will quickly burn a hole in a new T shirt :). Other than that I have had no problems - kickback doesnt seem to be much of an issue with the abrasive blades.

Thick plate is best cut with torch IMO. If you cant find a garage that will do the job cheaply, perhaps you could make the firepot out of light sheet metal and line it with clay.
   adam - Tuesday, 11/05/02 16:54:17 GMT

Bending Rolls: Ajay, The amount of horsepower needed is determined by friction losses and how fast you want to make the bend. IF you can wait several hours to make the bend then you might be able to use as little as 1HP. IF you want to make the bend in seconds then you might need 20 times that.

Simple 3 roll bending rolls to make the kind of bend you describe need a way to start the bend. This is done by hand turning a large screw or by a powered screw or hydraulics. To start a bend with the rolls only requires many rolls that are all powered.

The gear strength would be determined by the the torque and them the diameter of the gear. A very large diameter gear could be (and often is) cast iron. But at some point a smaller steel gear becomes more cost effective OR more practical depending on the space the machine is allowed to take up. Often what is practical is determined by the availability of the gears or the capacity of the gear maker.

The place to start is to determine the amount of torque necessary to turn the rolls (the difficult part). Then you select a feed rate and the RPM of the rolls. From this you can determine minimum HP. Then you increase that by friction losses (multiply by about 1.10). Then a "duty" or "service" factor is applied. On a machine prone to stalling this should be fairly high (maybe 2x but no less than 1.25). IF the final HP is greater than you want to provide then you slow down the machine and recalculate the needed HP.

Another thing to consider is that bending rolls are limited by friction. If there is not enough friction to drive the piece through the rolls then the rolls will slip and the bend cannot be made. This is a limit that is difficult to determine purely mathematicaly. It can be done, but should be backed up by practical experiance or a test prototype.

There are also questions about roll strength, bearings, frame strength.

To do all the above is serious engineering work that is not given away for free on the Internet. The above should give you an idea of what questions to ask and what you need to determine before asking the questions.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/05/02 17:12:31 GMT

Kickback and Abrasive Wheels: Adam, it DOES happen and can be quite serious. It occurs when the wheel catches in the kerf for one reason or another and the wheel cracks or breaks and the break forces the work back.

Although I have not seen this happen on a table saw or chop saw I have seen a wheel on an angle grinder catch in a notch and kick the grinder and wheel into the operator's face. He was lucky he wasn't killed and it took many corrective surgeries and dental reconstruction to fix the damage. He still has facial nerve damage that will never go away.

I have only used an abrasive wheel in a wood saw one time and it ruined the saw. All the parts of the saw are designed for saw dust contamination not abrasive grit and powdered metal. Wood saws often have nylon pivots, bearings and seals that the hot grit embeds into leaving them forever "gritty", rough operating and rapidly wearing.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/05/02 17:31:37 GMT

Guru...Duh..you are of course correct about input power. I was thinking of input voltages. Yes, I would guess the losses to coil bus would be about 10% and losses between the coil and work to be in the 50% to 80% range. Not a terribly efficient process compared to coal...or even gas.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/05/02 17:46:41 GMT

QC, it is easy to confuse when discussing high amps OR volts. The thing about many heating devices is that they may never get used at full capacity. My little buzz box calls for a 90A 240VAC breaker. That is 21.6 kVA or kW! I have used it for years on breakers half that size. My TIG unit is on a welder that also calls for the same 90A breaker. Under normal use the welder probably never develops that load. BUT. . with the high frequency TIG unit it SUCKS up the power. I've tripped the 90A breaker AND overheated the transformer protection device while welding 1/4" aluminium. The manual for the machine did not mention the internal overload device and I thought I had fried the welder. . . It takes 4 hours to cool off. . .

When I spoke to the electric company about my new shop hookup they wanted to put in a 10kW transformer. I figured I needed 35kW. The question has not been settled. But between our home and our neighbor's we have burned up several transformers with load from electric heat and kitchen ranges (twice on Thanksgiving). Currently my shop is running on a small temporary service but I know better than to try to run the welders at full capacity. Think about the load created by a plasma torch that also uses compressed air. . It is not unusual for the compressor to start numerous times while running the plasma unit. Two high load devices running at once can be the preverbial straw that breakes the camel's back. . . Or maybe it is the third thing. . . when the water pump comes on several minutes after you flush the toilet and are back welding again. . .

Steel Block Tempering: I've used this method on an electric stove top to get an even blue on gun parts. The plate has a fresh spot ground on the top that is used for temperature indication and the plate is slowly heated. When it turns the color you want then a clean polished sample is placed on the plate and watched. If it turns the desired color (and the heat sink hasn't gotten hotter) then piece to color or temper is set on the plate. When it has an even color you know the part has reached an even temperature.

The disadvantage of this method is that if you overshoot the mark you have to clean the indicator spot and test sample before continuing. Another way to determine the plate temperature is with Tempil temperature indicator sticks. You generaly need a range of sticks for the desired temperature. Low (about -25°F), on temp and high (about +25°F).

AND. . yet another way is to drill a hole in the heat sink plate and use a high temperature meat/cooking thermometer. Some of these go much higher than needed for cooking (550°F). AND I used to have an old fashioned all metal oven thermometer that could be set on a hot surface and would tell the temperature fairly closely.

If you have need to do a lot of temperature checking Tempil sticks get expensive and you will find that you could have bought a good electric temperature meter and themocouple. For around $250 US you can get these with control relays to use for controling forges and furnaces. Many shops have one of these units and move it from device to device. If you plan on doing much heat treating they are a good investment.

Thermocouples are available with circular "washer" ends so they can be bolted to a surface. These are VERY handy and they assure good heat transmission. Often you attach these to a piece of equipment and leave them. If you need to run wire a long distance to the controller they make special matching wire to use with thermocouples that is cheaper than the actual thermocouple wire. In years past they used to run the chromel/alumel wire as far as needed. I have an old furnace control that has about 30 feet of it. . . You can make the thermocouple joint anywhere you cut the wire. When scrounging for junk look for this stuff. It is usualy an untwisted pair of stiff brittle wires with asbestoes insulation. To make the thermocouple joint you twist about 1 inch and then TIG weld the ends together. A millivolt meter can be used to read the temperature without an external power source. . . more techno-nerd stuff you thought you would never need pounding iron.

IF you are interested in temperature controls Chromolox and Omega each have very good catalogs with tons of educational information and both have web sites.

THERE! We have gone from Killowatts to millivolts. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/05/02 18:23:46 GMT

KW, millivolts and HF (high frequency): We had a discussion above about MIG machines and stepper motors. . . stepper motors that run at high speed use HF DC. . which creates strong magnetic pulses not unlike TIG. Both will fry devices that work on low power by induction. Just having the HF power wires crossing a digital circuit OR the thermocouple lead to the millivot meter (analog OR digital) can burn out the low power circuit.

It is not something we often think about but many of us have those nasty HF high AMP TIG units in our welding shops. . . It is the same place that we would also have electrical temperature measurment devices that work on millivolts at milliamp levels. Keep them away from each other!

I made the mistake of running the power wires to a large stepper motor in the same cable as the low voltage proximity switch wires used as feed back from the a transmission assembly. . It worked for a short while. But the HF DC power hammered the chip in the proximity switches until it burned out. . . I had to replace the expensive switches and run seperate (even more expensive) cables. The digital cable had most of the wires attached to ground on both ends to help shield the working wires from induced surges. . . The operating manual also warns the users not to bundle the two cables. I KNEW this from dealing with my TIG unit but missed the problem in the machine I was building.

Almost the same problem exists in the MIG machine controls we discussed above, but it is not as severe unless you use a larger motor than needed OR too much gear box. The rule to remember is to cross widely different circuit types at right angles (never bundle them) and to try to keep some spacing between the wires. In a crowded control box this ends up looking like an old fashioned wiring diagram with large humps in the wires where they cross. "Neatening" the clutter with wire ties can have disasterous results if you do not know what type of current each wire is carrying.

Wiring schematics generaly don't tell you these things.

Getting a little high-tech for blacksmihing. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/05/02 18:51:13 GMT

Re: Temperature measurement. Is anyone using an infrared hand held thermometer. They are supposed to be very accurate and are getting pretty affordable. I see 0 to 500F units for well under $100.
   bbeck - Tuesday, 11/05/02 20:42:26 GMT

Kickback with Abrasive Wheels:

Regarding the angle grinder kickback that resulted in injury, what size was it?

I use a smaller Makita 4inch 5 amp angle grinder quite a lot. If I get carried away, I can stall the motor momentarily. On rare occasion it has gotten loose from my hands on kickback, but the force doesn't seem to be all that substantial given the smaller size of the unit. Am I underestimating something here?

I fear a disintegrating wheel most of all.........hence I dont touch any powered wire brush or grinder till I have safety glasses on.

   Gary - Tuesday, 11/05/02 20:50:05 GMT

where can i(if it's even possible...) get a portable smithing kit like the kind that sears used to sell?
   lyn vought - Tuesday, 11/05/02 21:48:54 GMT

Robert..I use Devcon 30 min. (2 ton) epoxy. It comes in a double barreled syringe, so the mix is always right. It is easy to work with, cleans up with acetone, you have about a 5 minute work time before it starts to set. It costs from $2 to $3 depending where you buy it.One tube will do a few knife handles.
   R Guess - Tuesday, 11/05/02 22:07:42 GMT

O.K. folks, just renewed my CSI membership. Everybody sign up and help Jock keep things going.
   Brian C - Tuesday, 11/05/02 22:40:33 GMT

Complete Smithing Set Lyn, I do not know of anyone that sells a packaged "set". The only truely portable equipment I know of was prospector's forges and these were designed to be carried by pack animal such as a mule. The sets sold by sears were designed for small shop or farm use.

Many places sell small anvils and forges. Kayne and Son stock the little 45 pound Peddinghaus anvil and Wallace Metal Work sells the small NC-TOOL propane forges which are very light weight. The little Wisper Baby only weighs 37 pounds and can be carried in one hand. The next size up only weighs 43-45 pounds, not including a propane cylinder.

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/05/02 23:01:27 GMT

Grinder Accident: The accident I mentioned involved a 7-1/2" - 9" grinder running a 9" wheel (12 to 16 amp). It did not have a guard on it as required by OSHA. These grinders commonly come without guards that have to be purchased seperately. Most of the little grinders I have seen came with guards that had a quick adjust feature so you could rotate them to where they do the most good.

The large diameter wheel probably contributed to the severity of this accident because it is inertia that does the damage. However, the little 4 inch grinders run at very high speed so the rim velocity is just a fast or faster than the bigger wheels. But the smaller wheels and lower power motor have much less inertia. They can still bite if you are not carefull.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/05/02 23:15:44 GMT

Bbeck, infrared pyrometers can be very useful and the cheap ones might be more cost effective than Tempil sticks. However, you usually run into the problem of temperature ranges. Typically, they cover low range (0-700) Medium range (700-1400) high range (1400-2100) or very high up 3000F. I have never found one that covers exactly the range I am workin in. Then you have the problem of emissivity. Emissivity is a ratio between a perfect infrared radiation device (e=1.0) and the object you are trying to take a temperature on (e= about.7 for steel). The emissivity varies with scale thickness and alloy content. Two color pyrometers solve the emissivity problem but cost big bucks. By the time you factor in the variables, thatset of Tempil sticks looks pretty good. I have actually used them to set the emissivity and thus, the temperature of pyrometers. One of the things that attracted me to blacksmithing was the high degree of skill and experience it requires. The use of modern instrumentation is necessary if you are a production shop and need to make $ to pay the rent. If you are an amateur, I think learning to read heat colors is worth the effort.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/06/02 00:08:47 GMT


> If you are an amateur, I think learning to read heat colors is worth the effort.

Even if you are a professional, the time spent learning to read the heat colors is time well spent. There will always come a time, when you run out of the right Tempil sticks, or the pyrometer has a dead battery.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/06/02 00:20:49 GMT

I would bo it like Paw paw said only I would make a short rat tail tang for the stag and burn it on (do this slow and in the black heat range) to a pre drilled hole, also I would use devcon 5 ton epoxy or something like this to hold it in (personal thing I hate JB weld)also if you notch the tang after you burn it it helps to hold it on.

5160 is a fine knife steel so long as you do a soft back draw or edge quench, alowing for a slighly harder edge.
a nother real good steel I love is O1 also available from online metals forges nicely solong as you don't over heat or work it cold, easy to heat treat adn mikes a vary fine knife. the only big down side of it is that it is allmost inposable to aneal in a coal forge. (at least I have never been able to.)
also in 5160 I would let the edge stop in the dark straw range then quench, and pre temper in an over (if edge quenched) go 375 for 2 hours. after oven tempering polish the blade and then clean it realy well (read brake cleaner followed by astone or alcahole) and don't touch the blade untill you are finshed with the coloring.

grinders I have had all sorts of unplesent incadents with 4 1/2" grinders. nicked my fingers (hurts bad and takes forever to heal.) had a disk grab knock into my shirt and wind its self up and choke me.(not fun I should have quit an hour earlier working tiered is not a good Idea) had a sanding disk grab and run its self up my leg. (good thing I was wearing my apron .. ruined the apron) han one pull it's self out of my hand and almost break my arm. I have cracked 2 face masks from cut offs hitting it (don't even as how I learned I needed a mask)
disk grinders are one of the nastiest tools in the shop. also the one that gets the most use in mine.
   MP - Wednesday, 11/06/02 01:45:31 GMT

About angle grinders (side grinders), don't lock the trigger.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/06/02 04:00:54 GMT

I ordered one with a paddle switch that can't lock after the afore mentioned incident with my shirt. (grin)
   MP - Wednesday, 11/06/02 04:31:50 GMT

I have a gas forge with a 50lb propane tank under it. Now that it is getting colder my propane tank is always freezing up. My shop only has a roof (no walls)so the heat doesn't stay in there for too long. I run my forge at 20 psi. I know I could get a larger tank but then I wont be able to move my forge around.
Any ideas?

   Canadian smith - Wednesday, 11/06/02 05:59:59 GMT

I have been thinking about building or buying a tumbler since I find the wire wheel both time consuming and dangerous. I have been inquiring about them but there seem to be little info on the matter. Do you have any sources, plans, ideas on tumblers.
Thank You
   Louis - Wednesday, 11/06/02 06:13:12 GMT

while making chainmaille (still am) i decided to start tumbling some pieces and rings here are some places with information regaurding making your own:

then of course midway makes them (mostly for reloaders tumbling brass) for a desent one you looking 75$ plus
just my 2 cents tho
   MKruzan - Wednesday, 11/06/02 06:34:05 GMT

Cold Propane: CA smith, A "battery blanket" has been mentioned as a way to keep the propane warm in frigid locations. It also helps to insulate the bottle if there is a warmer. Heat tapes like used on pipes have also been used. Be sure to use a unit with a thermostat and be VERY careful. If overheated the bottle has a safety vent that will bleed off the excess fuel. . . Not much of a problem in your walless shop but not recomended in or near dwellings.

Otherwise all you can do is get a much larger bottle.

NEW PROPANE VALVE PROBLEMS: One suggestion I was given was to very carefully crack the valve open (like you do high pressure gases). A sudden surge hitting the protective device will trigger it. . .

Fakes on Ebay: ASO's being misrepresented as "Professional" anvils by "Integratool" continues. . . HMPH! But get this. . Fake Antique Locks are being made by taking new old style imported locks and brazing fake name tags on the locks then aging them. . . One lock on this page even has a fictional placename from a John Wayne movie. . .

Tumblers: Louis, look UP then search the archives. We have written some on tumblers a couple times. I should probably build a few as R&D projects. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/06/02 06:54:28 GMT

Cold Propane: by now most propane being delivered or used to fill
cylinders is mixed with other gases to lower the freezing point of the
propane. you may still see freezes up when attempting to pull off a 50lb
take at 20psig. given that your shop does not have any walls there are a
feww additional ways you can keep the 50lb cylinder from freezing up and
maintaining the desired output pressure. place cylinder in a tub of water.
the required btus will be provided by the water and not the cold air.
place a livestock tank heater in the tub of water to provide additional
warming. given that your cylinder is underneath your gas forge ( i
personally think that is an extremely bad idea and an accident waiting to
happen. ) having an electrical cord anywhere near where hot metal
could fall on it and burn through the insulation and short the wires is
thereby energizing the piece of metal is yet another extremely
bad idea. either you will end up in dark do to the shop circuit breaker
tripping or electrocuted if it does not trip and you pick up the dropped
metal with either your tongs or hands.

i would personally recommend getting several 100lb cylinders and manifold
them together. run an armoured hose from the manifold regulator to your
gas forge.

search the web for bleve (boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion).
this is how propane cylinders and bulk tanks exploded. it is definitely
not something you want to experience.

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: if a propane cylinder is either on fire or
in a fire DO NOT SPRAY WATER ON THE CYLINDER. spraying water directly
on a propane cylinder which is either on fire or in a fire 99.9% of the time
will cause it to instantly bleve. the cylinders are not built to take the
thermal shock. propane cylinders are only about 3/32 to 1/8 inch thick steel.

NEW PROPANE VALVE PROBLEMS: i talked with three plant managers on
tuesday, 5 nov 2002, concerning the opd value problems. the three agree
that the problem is being created by the public. end-users purchase new
20lb cylinders at farm-fleet, ranch king, etc. these cylinders have not
been purged nor do have they had a vacuum pulled on them. these cylinders
contain air and moisture. instead of having them purged properly they are
being exchanged at wal-mart, lowes, menards, local gas station for a full
cylinder. when these never been purged cylinders arrive at the filling plants
it is assumed that they have been properly purged. when filled with liquid
propane the moisture if forming ice crystals and in some cases these ice
crystals actually plug the fill tube. these never been purged cylinders are
causing problems at the filling plants. it takes longer to fill them and
handle them. the old style value did not have this problem since the filling
tube was larger and harder to plug. the filling plants are asking the cylinder
manufactuers to vacuum purge the cylinders or use pure methal alcohol to purge
the cylinders. the cylinder manufactuers are resisting this since not all
cylinders are used for propane. i agree with the manufactuers since i have
purchased cylinders for compressed air receivers and portable compressed air
cylinders. what do they suggest if you have a cylinder which is giving you
problems return it to the exchange point and have them tag it "purge required".

terry l. ridder >
   terry - Wednesday, 11/06/02 07:56:34 GMT

Canadian smith
I'm also in Canada (Kingston On)the way to warm a cylinder that I used (until I got bigger ones) was an old water bed heater pad on the bottom of a topless plywood box that I had insulated with 1" blue styrofoam board, I hinged one side so that putting the 60# tanks I used in it was easier. The temp probe was taped to the side of the box NOT the tank if you tape it to the tank as soon as you start drawing propane the heater goes into overdrive trying to keep up with the temp drop. The termastat gave me a comfort level when I set it and walked away to do other things for a while. If you are going to use pipe warming heater wires get the type that only come on at 40 and shut off at 50 this will save you a pile of cash and also has more of a comfort level than the on/off only type.

   Mark P - Wednesday, 11/06/02 12:57:01 GMT

Paw-Paw, I believe in knowing the colors, especially temper colors, if you are smithing. I used to have a sliding color chart with hardening colors on one side and tempering colors on the other side. Somebody "borrowed" it a long time ago and it forced me to pay attention to the colors and memorize them. However, if you are working in industry, colors may not meet the normal QA/QC specifications for process control. Heck, I don't even own a Tempil Stick for home use, but here at the plant we must have about 50 Infrared Pyrometers scattered around. I have to admit, I really can't tell the difference between 1025F and 1050F by the color.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/06/02 13:21:13 GMT


> I have to admit, I really can't tell the difference between 1025F and 1050F by the color.

Well, come to that, I can't read them that accurately, either. Within a couple of hundred degrees usually works for the stuff I'm working with. I'd like to see a coloring/hardness chart such as you describe, might be very handy.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/06/02 13:24:29 GMT

Charts. Lest we forget, a pigment chart color on paper will not appear like an incandescent (light giving) heat color. I understand that the Dutch painter, van Gogh, tried to make incandescence come out of his paintings, poor thing.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/06/02 14:00:56 GMT

   Vipan Thakur - Wednesday, 11/06/02 14:03:41 GMT

I got a question for anybody out there.I am setting up my horse shoeing rig and want to use a small coal forge. My first question is would a brake roader work insted of a brake drum? and #2 is would one of thoes foot operated air pumps (the ones used for rafts or beds) work for the blower
Thanks in advance
   zern - Wednesday, 11/06/02 16:02:12 GMT

PROPANE CYLINDER PROBLEMS and the Public: Terry, if the cylinders are being sold unpurged by disreputable dealers then the problem is the dealer NOT the public. The small bottles are sold with labels on them that clearly states "Propane" and that is what 99.99% get used for. If they are not purged then they are not ready to use and should clearly state so. The OLD propane bottles also required purging before use and it was not a problem. If new propane bottles are being sold unpurged then the problem is greed caused by the sudden demand for a large number of propane bottles.

There are two recomended methods to purge all the air and mositure from propane cylinders. One is to put a small amount of liquid propane into the cylinder and then vent it (to the air) repeating the process five times. The other is to use special vacumme purging equipment followed by filling with propane without opening the valve prior to filling. Both methods take time and cost money. BUT it is part of preparing the cylinder.

This would explain why some folks have problems and others do not. As always, doing business with a reputable dealer makes a big difference.

It seems that corporate theivery abounds everywhere today. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/06/02 16:19:03 GMT

Tank heating: I took some 1/4x 1/2" stock about16" long and bent it into an "L" shape. On the short end of the piece I welded a scrap of 1 1/2" round, 2" long. I stick this in the forge as I'm working and let the long end hang down away fron the heat so I can pick it up. I swish it around in the bucket of water that my 40 LB tank is setting in every once in a while. I have 3 burners, two of which I can shut off depending on the size stock that I working. If I'm only using one I really don't think about it too much. All three and I pay alittle more attention. No big ddeal really.
   - Pete-Raven - Wednesday, 11/06/02 16:24:21 GMT

A rotor is not that good of a choice. The brake drum is used to hold and contain the fire and fuel. Since a rotor is fairly flat you can not as easily get a fire to have the depth you really need.
As for the foot pump... My opinion is no it will not be good. Seem every time I used one of those pumps for its intended use I would pump like crazy for little return. If you are looking for air pump use a small blower motor. can use n old car heater blower. (12 VDC) or could use an old vacuum blower with a air damper.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/06/02 16:39:54 GMT

Terry, considering the price those exchange stns charge for a full tank, they should be able to purge every tank they fill and still make a nice profit
   adam - Wednesday, 11/06/02 17:10:20 GMT

PROPANE CYLINDER PROBLEMS and the Public: guru, the stores which sell
the new 20lb cylinders normally have the cylinders inside the store.
i know this is true of farm&fleet here in the midwest. they are not
allowed to have the cylinders in the store if they have any amount of
propane in them. ( see national fire prevention association documents
nfpa-54 & nfpa-58 which are normally used to for writing the local fire

nfpa-54: National Fuel Gas Code
nfpa-58: Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code

if an individual purchases a 20lb cylinder from a store, the store in
most cases is just an exchange station and do not have the facilities
to purge the cylinder.

if an individual purchases a 20lb cylinder from amerigas, philgas, or
the local propane service company the propane service company has the
responsiblity to purge the cylinder by one of the three recommended way.

0. as you all ready stated purge 5 times with propane gas and not liquid.
( the cylinder is now governed by local fire codes and/or the nfpa-58
code. )
1. pull a vacuum on the cylinder.
( this works only as long as someone does not open the valve somewhere
along the line before being filled with propane. )
2. use methol alcohol.
( i am not sure if this would fall under local fire codes or not. this
method is normally reserved for bulk storage tanks. )

i know that two of the propane plants here locally use vacuum pumps to
purge the cylinders since there are environmental protection agency concerns
about releasing the mercaptan into the atmosphere.

i think this is more the result of numerous regulations governing the shipping,
handling, and storage of fuel gas cylinders which the manufactuer, retail outlet
stores, and propane service companies must follow than being reputable or
disreputable. i certainly do not see it as corporate greed.

the best way to insure that an individual will not have problems is to have
the 20lb cylinders purged and filled by the local propane service company.

terry l. ridder
   terry - Wednesday, 11/06/02 17:26:08 GMT

"Old Vacuum blower with air damper". A voice of experience here.. if you use the vacuum make sure you put something covering the "intake".. nothing more devastating than FINALLY Getting your coal burning good.. only to have the vacuum suck in your shirt and burn up your new (old) vacuum (not to mention ruin a perfectly good shirt!) Even with the beater bar off, those things suck stuff in. That is, after all, what they are designed to do. Personally, I'm starting to favor hand cranked blowers.

Big lots (Or Odd Lots) sells Hair Driers for CHEAP. The one here in Franklin TN has them for 6 dollars with the button that turns the heat off. Little bit of duct tape or a cable tie to hold that button down prevents the unit from overheating and a little creativity with some steel strapping and/or a welder will make a nice bracket to hold the blower in place.

I hadn't considered using an old car heater blower.. I think I have one of those somewhere. Might use it to replace my burned up vacuum(s).

Paw Paw - I just missed the tearing down of a service station near campus.. I'll keep my eyes peeled for another. In the meantime, I'll grab some 1" from my scrap dealer for this tempering job.

R Guess - Devcon 30 minute epoxy. That's written down and I'll jump right on it. "Mix is always right" sold me ;)

MP - I had considered burning them on, but a local smith warned me agianst that with whitetail. Too soft, he said. (Funny thing.. a year ago I'd not have considered a blacksmith who lived over an hour away to be "local"..)
Will be at the forge tomorrow night and beating myself to death with that 5160.. I'll try the edge quench but I'm still a bit hazy on how that works.. time to hit the books I think!

Funny how whenever anyone asks me about injuries I've recieved at the forge I can only really remember accidents with POWER TOOLS. You'd think with an open flame and welding-temp steel around I'd have had more serious burns. (Only one serious one that I remember.. and that was because I am an idiot, so it doesn't count. Note: When applying flux to metal with your hands, don't have someone else hold it. BAD things happen.).

Robert "Asgard"
HPL Steel
Wears a Denim Apron. "Poor Man's Leather".. that burns.
   - Robert "Asgard" - Wednesday, 11/06/02 17:28:33 GMT

adam and propane cylinder exchange stations: actually most of the
price is to cover shipping, handling, transportation, liability
insurance coverage, and labor cost at the filling plant.

filling 20lb cylinders at a filling plant is no fun.
extremely labor intensive. even with automatic scale
shutoff values it remains labor intensive.

the liability insurance coverage has gone through the roof.

i do not like dealing with 20lb cylinders. the smallest
cylinder i will deal with is a 40lb.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry - Wednesday, 11/06/02 17:36:34 GMT

Propane cylinders. . The rules and regs may be part of the problem but the NEW cylinders should be clearly labeled "purge before filling". If folks are allowed to purchase cheap unpurged cylinders and then turn them in at exchange stations then there is a problem with the system. . . The exchange folks are kind of caught in the middle but they need to deal with the problem too. But they may have been the problem all along. . . if unpurged cylinders are a problem then ANY exchange tank may have air in ot from the valve being left open when empty. . . On the other hand, the old ones I have cut up were darn near impossible to get all the gas out of. .

THE GOOD NEWS. . . Now we know what the problems are.

1) Not purging tanks.
2) Shocking the new safety valves.
3) Exchange tanks that may not have been purged.

I'm going to replace my 30 pound cylinders with a size that doesn't need the new valve (50 pounds up) and be sure it is purged before filling the first time.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/06/02 18:01:43 GMT

Safe Cylinder Warming: Water makes a good safe heat sink but the cylinder needs to be clamped down to prevent floating tipping and possibly damaging the regulator. Anti-freeze has been mentioned to keep the water from freezing but it is hazardous to children and pets as well as being sticky and messy. The option is to use a cattle trough heater designed to prevent water from freezing.

Warming the water prevents the possibility of overheating the propane cylinder. It has some problems but is much safer than heating the cylinder.

Yes, the solution is a bigger cylinder or a bulk tank but many folks don't want to deal with the heavier tanks or the filling cost. They also need portability much of the time. On the other hand, those heaters are going to add to your electric bill and may offset the costs of a larger cylinder.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/06/02 18:13:36 GMT

Can I bend a car spring, the flat kind into a U shape and still retain some spring. How? If I heat it too much is that bad?
   Franklin - Wednesday, 11/06/02 18:49:08 GMT

Old URL's and PORN: I recently recieved a note about a website on the Blacksmith's ring that was a porn site. . . When URL's (web names) are abandonded it is common practice for porn sites to register the URL and point it at their site. This is the fourth time it has happened with sites we linked to and the second time in six months.

Usually a user points out the problem and I remove the link ASAP. Today's link was on the Blacksmiths Ring, one of the iForge demos and in the DMOZ.org listing under smithys.

If you find something unexpected on one of our links please let me know. Most of the time they are just dead. But the redirecting to porn sites is a serious problem. I have been rewarding those that find these pirated URL's with an anvilfire cap.

This problem is also one you should think about if you have a web URL and decide to drop your web-site. Abandonding the web-site is one thing but if you abandon the URL there is a good chance it will be used in an unscrupulous manner. If you hold the URL for a year or two without a website then it will disappear from the the search engines and most link lists. After that it is fairly safe to abandon but it depends on the popularity your site has developed. The people that use abandonded URL's generaly do not waste their time if the URL is no longer on the search engines or link lists. But if the URL is a good general purpose name that somone else may be interested in then it will be bought to resell AND directed to some other site. . .

Today it only costs $15/year to maintain the registration so it is not a significant cost to keep a porn site from using YOUR name.

IF you have a blacksmith related web-site with interesting original content and you are thinking about abandonding it PLEASE let us know. We may be interested in hosting the content AND the URL.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/06/02 18:51:56 GMT

Bending Springs: Franklin, most leaf springs will break before you can bend them into a "U" cold. It needs to be heated to a red/orange heat before bending and then properly heat treated afterward if you need the same spring properties. However if you air cool most leaf springs it will still be a LOT stiffer than a piece of mild steel.

See our Heat Treating FAQ.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/06/02 18:59:34 GMT

I don't know if you folks are aware, but grinding wheels can come apart while grinding. Had ithappen to me a couple of times, both times the chunk of wheel hit my welding shield. Broke my clear len and cheater lens, damn lucky that was all. I always wear safety glasses( only if I want to see) and a face shield. It's a danger place out there folks, take care of yourselves.
   smitty7 - Wednesday, 11/06/02 19:37:54 GMT

QuenchCrack. As an ex toolmaker (many years ago) I'm pretty OK with hardening/tempering by color, especially with a graduated temper such as a blade back to edge. I fully agree that any smith doing any kind of hardened tool work should know the basics and mechanics behind heat treating. I just threw the infrared pyrometer question to see what guys were doing and to maybe spark a brief discussion. Thanks for the info re: emissivity, that I wasn't aware of.
   bbeck - Wednesday, 11/06/02 20:42:22 GMT

guru and all, i have an old buffalo blower that has no stand and i am trying to figure out how to set it up on my forge. my forge is a break drum forge sitting on an angle iron stand i built. the blower has two sleaves on it that run in line to each other with about 2 3 inches between them. a 3/4 inch pipe slides into them great. the only way i can thin to mount it is to build a frame out of pipe and "hang" the blower on it., but at that angle it puts it at an odd angle to work at. any sugestions on how this thing used to be mounted would be greatly appreciated. thanks
   jeff w - Wednesday, 11/06/02 21:13:54 GMT

Breaking Wheels: Smitty, If it happens too often you are doing something wrong.

The semi-flexible fiber-glass reinforced wheels used in angle grinders should not break unless one of two things happens.

1) the wheel is snagged on a corner tearing it. This is usualy pretty violent when it happens and you know it. The torn or cracked wheel should be discarded immediately.

2) The wheel has been worn thin from grinding on the flat. These wheels should be used on the corner at about a 30 to 45 degree angle. If you wear them thin they WILL break.

One thing folks overlook is the speed rating. I purchase the fast HD grinders that take the 8,000 RPM rated 7-1/2" wheels. They make lower speed rated wheels. . . DO NOT run them on a high speed grinder. The large 9" wheels are rated much lower than the 7-1/2". Keep those guards in place. If the grinder doesn't have a gaurd don't use it!

Otherwise if one of these wheels fails you should talk to the supplier. This is another reason to deal with a good reputable local supplier.

Bench grinders are probably one of the most abused tools in many shops. Guys just can't resist cleaning up a piece of torch cut metal on their bench grinder. . . That IS NOT what the small grinders are for. The small grinders are designed for small tool grinding (lathe and drill bits). If you grind a piece that weighs more than the wheel there is a high probability of breaking the wheel. Never grind a piece heavier then the wheel and it is best to keep the part size under 1/2 the wheel mass. Keep the guards adjusted (see our iForge grinder safety demo). Those little flat pieces of steel on the wheel covers should be almost touching the wheel. If the wheel breaks it hits the guards and stops rotating. Normally this prevents pieces of the wheel from escaping at high speed. I've seen test photos of large diameter wheels that were broken on purpose by droping a weight on the wheel. When the guards are in place and the proper paper washers and clamping washers are used none of the broken wheel excapes. But if one part of the system is missing you may end up with a split head.

They make pedastyle grinders suitable for grinding castings and cleaning up torch cut metal. They are HUGE and very expensive. If you want to grind using a stationary grinder then get a belt grinder. Although these machines have their own set of hazzards they are much safer than wheel type machines and can take a lot more abuse without failing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/06/02 21:25:23 GMT

Forge and Blower: Jeff, That 3/4" pipe is probably too small. Forges normally have a 1-1/2" to 2" pipe. A forge fire wants a smooth blast of air not a high velocity jet of air (what you get from a small pipe). The old blowers were mounted two ways. Either the forge was heavy enough to hang the blower on OR the blower was on a seperate stand. See our Champion Forge CD book review for pictures.

Although the stuff rusts out fairly fast many smiths use flexible steel auto exhaust pipe to run from the blower to the forge. This allows for misalignment and odd angles and avoids making a fitted pipe. It also comes in the right sizes for a forge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/06/02 21:33:51 GMT

guru, sorry about the confusion , i didnt describe the blower very well. the blower opening its self is 2", but the two sleaves that fit a 3/4 pipe are on the back side of the gear box of the blower.
   jeff w - Wednesday, 11/06/02 21:44:20 GMT

Gas cocks: Years ago I rebuilt an old cast-iron gas hotplate for a friend.

The gas regulation valves were conical seat gas cocks, which, of course, leaked.

I lapped the surfaces together with automotive valve grinding compound, washed it out with solvent and followed up with Brasso 'till the grinding lines from the valve grinding compound just disappeared and washed that out with solvent again.

The result never leaked enough to smell in a pretty tight mobile home (I don't know if it would pass an electronic sniffer. . .) and worked smoothly enough that my lady friend could adjust the burners from a slow simmer to a get-the-griddle-hot-now conflagration. The old machinist who told me how to do it claimed conical vales lapped with Brasso to a high polish can even hold helium, a monatomic gas which is notoriously hard to keep from sneaking through a valve, though they were prone to diffusion welding themselves into one position if they weren't operated often enough. . .

Now, I don't have the vaguest notion of what building inspectors, fire investigators, or liability lawyers would say about doing this. . . So If you try it, use your own judgement.
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 11/06/02 21:54:09 GMT

how much did the products cost that the blacksmiths made. who was the founder. what were some of the products they made.
   val - Wednesday, 11/06/02 22:02:38 GMT

Val *when*? *where*? and *what*? or to put it another way less than 1/2 a groat to $100,000+...

A founder is someone who casts metal, (eg: brass, bronze, cast iron, etc). In general blacksmiths are/were not founders. Founders made anything needed to be cast from metal from cook pots to engine blocks.

Thomas---the devil is in the details!
   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 11/06/02 22:12:49 GMT

Jock, I think the pipe that Jeff is talking about is the mounting pipe, not the air pipe.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/06/02 22:18:36 GMT

I think Val meant who was the "founder" of blacksmithing. If this is true, Val, check out the guru's handy archives. There have been MANY discussions that I've seen about the "original" smith.

Cost depended on the smith and the product. A slave shoeing a horse wouldn't cost the master anything, but a roman smith making a sword for a General might have gotten paid quite a bit of money..
   - Robert "Asgard" - Wednesday, 11/06/02 22:54:03 GMT

the trick with burning on any of the materials that tend to crack is to go slow in the lower temps and to predrill out most of the material. but then I haven't worked with whitetail, but i was told the same thing about Ebony and bone and I have done it on both.
   MP - Wednesday, 11/06/02 23:58:33 GMT

ps read the complete bladsmith by jim Hrisoulas he has a section on doing this.
   MP - Thursday, 11/07/02 00:06:45 GMT

Zern, There are all kinds of shoeing rigs. I started with a coal forge before everyone went to gas. It was on a raised hearth, too high. Later, I put it inside of a steel drum, cutting a rectangular firepot (Vulcan) hole in the drum botton AND in the steel truck bed. That way, the kicking ash dump let the stuff into a bucket under the truck. The drum looked a little goofy, but in any event, you will need a windbreak all the way around the fire except for an access opening, when working outdoors. It seems as though the wind changes direction every five seconds. If you can get a Cadillac heater squirrel cage blower from the scrap yard, they are trustworthy and have a long life. Run a 12 volt wire to it with an in-line fuse and a quality rheostat. It will draw hardly any juice off of your battery.

I normally would get 3 keg shoes in the fire at once. You could keep the fire going while traveling between jobs, but expect that people will honk and holler at you when they see smoke issuing forth. Get a camper shell when you can afford it.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/07/02 01:14:45 GMT

Hello Guru et al:-)

I have a commission for some hardware for a vigil book. It is tenatively supposed to be in the style of 14th Century England, and I was wondering if in your recent research into locks if you saw any iron bound books with locks or latches? Or if anybody else has documentation or photgraphs of bookhardware from the medieval period, or could point me in the direction of the same. I know this is grasping at straws, but research is like that sometimes:-) There is a lot of information out there, it is just a question of being able to find it. This is of course an SCA arts and sciences project.

(For those in the SCA, and who can sympathize I am in the unusual position of being the King's Champion, and the Prince's Squire, so I will be running myself ragged for the next year, and precious little time and opportunity to merchant at events to cover my travel expences:-)
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 11/07/02 02:25:00 GMT

Book locks and latches.
Dover Publications has a number of books that cover wrought iron articles from the past.
Go to their website, http://store.doverpublications.com/ and check them out. You may also want to ask them if any of their books have pictures of such hardware.
Centaur Forge carries several titles that may cover the subject. www.centaurforge.com
Alternatively, some of the iron banging gang may have those books and can give you a more specific answer.
Mr. Starkie Gardner wrote several such books in the first 3 decades of the last century. You may be able to get them on inter-library loan. (the books are expensive).
That should get you started.
   slag - Thursday, 11/07/02 02:56:34 GMT


I always wanted to make one of those. . . But I almost think they are more fiction than fact. Such as the art book used by Disney to open a fairy tale. I've recently looked at a LOT of locksmithing books and in the past I have researched bookbinding and have also done a bit of that. Never saw a REAL book with lock. . . That doesn't mean they didn't exist but I've never seen one. So apparently they are pretty rare.

The lock on a book (as shown in much fiction) would be similar to a trunk lock where the lock is in a shallow cylindrical cup that fits into a mating socket. The lock has a spring loaded catch like a door latch that engages in a hole in the socket (the hole in a strike plate). No key is necessary to lock the lock. The lock is a simple spring mechanism with no fancy tumblers.

Old books actually used thin wood boards under the leather binding. In a book with a lock you would probably want metal to extend from the lock to a hinge then across the closure and then be hinged to the back of the book with more metal reinforcement. If you don't want to make the lock from scratch you could start with a trunk lock (fancy wood work suppliers like Constantines sell them) and then cut reinforcements from brass sheet to extend the parts around the book.

I would start by making the the book's covers or "case" using a wood block dummy to fill it. The boards can be thin wood but modern books use a soft cardboard called "book board" about 1/8" thick. You can substitute laminated matt board or poster board but the book board is very stable and doesn't warp.

I make book hinges by gluing linen to the inside of book boards and back, then thin paper over the back and extending about an inch onto the boards. This is formed into the hinge grooves using metal rods (knitting needles or large brazing rod works). The back of the book is curved on a form (I use the dummy for the book) by dampening the book board and glueing into place with hinge material on one side and the paper reinforcement on the other.

Any padding to raise the leather is then added. Sometimes this consists of thin poster board cutouts applied to the surface of the boards but can also be paper mache'. The leather is then applied by gluing to the boards and clamping on the dummy between two flat boards. A book press is normally used but big C-clamps work. Rods are used again to keep the hinge grooves in shape. If the leather is tooled over fill as mentioned above you have to work out a plan that allows tooling while the glue is wet and drying as well as clamping (both). I found that doing the leather work in three pieces made things MUCH easier.

On your locked book the closure may also be make as part of the covers and also be bound with leather. The closure would be hinged like the book back but the design would need to suit the lock and hinges.

After the leather is glued and tooled to the outside of the boards I would turn the corners and glue to the inside as a seperate operation. On first class jobs the leather is thined so that it blends into the boards. I cheat and glue in fill board and paper until the surface is flat. The locks and metal work need to be riveted to the case before the fill is put in. You may need to cut holes around the rivets on the inside for a first layer of fill and then close them in with another. End papers cover all the butt joints between fill and leather.

You may have built your book before OR after the case but either way it needs to fit well. I glue linen to the back of the book and extend it several inches out onto waste end papers of the book to make reinforced hinges. The paper the linen is attached to is trimed about an inch farher out. Then the book is glued into the case by gluing the reinforced waste paper AND another layer of waste paper (that is bound into the book) to the case boards. Care is taken to not push the book too far back in the case. The case hinges and the book hinges must line up. The whole is clamped again in the book press with the hinge forming rods and the glue allowed to dry. If you have raised surfaces or parts like the lock you will need to make a follower board that clamps everwhere as best as possible.

I use Elmers yellow carpenter's glue for the whole affair. It is fast, permanent and retaines it flexibility for years.

After the book is in the case you glue in end papers. These can be single sheets that continue across the hinge OR seperate sheets. On one leather binding job I glued in a pretty heavy ribbon material to cover the inside of the hinges then the end papers which cover all the rough fill and ovelaped the ribbon but left a 1/2" wide strip exposed. . .

There are also many ways to go about things. True sewn books are nice and can be attached to the boards with ropes. I have bound a lot of loose manuscript pages by gluing up the pages like a pad of paper, then notching with a saw, then embeddiing heavy threads in the notches and extending them a couple inches out onto waste paper in an overlaping crowsfoot pattern. These are then glued to the inside of the covers. If you use heavy clamping pressure the threads embed in the soft bookboard. This is then covered by the end papers and makes a very strong book.

There are ALL kinds of details to pay attention to in fancy book binding. But there is a lot of room for creativity that results in the same product. I did one binding job with my daughter where she wanted a hole in the cover to view the book title page. It turned out fine.

The fun thing about bookbinding is that it can be done with a couple clamps, a pair of scissors and some glue. I often do the clamping on a desk or the kitchen table so that only a top board is needed for clamping. I use wax paper in places where I don't want glue to get where it shouldn't.

End of book bound by Jock Dempsey Cover of large book bound by Jock Dempsey
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 03:54:24 GMT

Hey guys I tried to register for the slack tub pub last week, but got no reply. I wanted to join in tomorrow nite, any ideas.
   Rod Burton - Thursday, 11/07/02 04:10:45 GMT

I have an old emmert patternmakers vice with some broken parts. I don't have the parts that have broken off. Have you or someone you know of fixed these before? I would love to get it fixed and it appears as the parts are hard to come by. It is a #2 universal emmert turtleback. Thanks.
   Michael - Thursday, 11/07/02 04:45:28 GMT

Rod, it is my fault, I am way behind on processing pub regestrations. Should catch up tommarow.

Vise Michael, I've never seen one of what you are talking about. If you send me a picture I might be able to help. Most of the old vise makers are long out of business and replacement parts were rare even then. If you can figure out what they looked like they will need to be made from scratch.

More thoughts on book locks. . .

The "socket" for a trunk style lock could be set into a thick cover OR a raised place in the cover. To make a thick cover I would use a light weight and strong material like balsa wood. On heavy books like court record books and deed books the thick covers are made by laminating bookboard. Reinforcements are made with extra layers. Large chamfer are cut with a utility knife.

Many court record books have piano hinges riveted to the boards instead of a leather/paper hinge. Most of the binding is now an imitation leather textured paper/cloth material. I've used it. It can look nice and easier to work with than leather. But is is difficult to get. I get mine from another book binder. The leather on the book above was scraps from an upholstery supply and cost less than $3.

During medeval times they were more likely to use a seperate lock like a padlock with a long shackle. This could fit in heavy hinge type loops in two closure boards. The loops could be leather bound and metal reinforced. A loose shackle would be kept with the book by a piece of chain. See the push key locks in our review of "Locks from Iran".

OR. . a little modern design for the look of "magical doings" a long multi finger lock along the front edge of the book using a sliding bar that disengaged from multiple loops in a full closure panel. The lock mechanism could be centered or at the bottom corner of the book. The whole thing attached on flat surfaces with screws (inside) or rivets.

Many books have been made with heavy iron or brass anchor rings in the spine so they could be chained to shelves in libraries. Big ugly thing sticking out of the back, Made it hard to lay the book down. . .

A book design I liked was the huge book with built in carrying handles in Indiana Jones. This had some type of end closure as well as the leather handles made into the binding. A lock could be made into the closure. . . Again, perhaps hasps for a long shackle padlock.

The type of locks in Locks from Iran were made from China and India to Europe and some of the animal body padlocks have been found in Scandinavia. These were common types throughout the known world of 1,000 AD. Many are still made in China and India for the "antique" trade.

Old European locks were often works of art in their mechanism but externaly were fairly plain. On many the works were exposed inside the door so they were beautifuly made but the outside would consist of a relatively simple estucheon plate for the keyhole.

Like much technical history there are big holes in our knowledge of who used what when. . Thousands of brass Roman keys have been found but there are almost none of the iron locks in existance. . the few examples are in very poor shape. I have yet to find a reference with details of their construction.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 05:04:26 GMT

Locked bbook
A famous book was retailed sometime in the 1920's called the "Locked Book of magic" by a celebrated English magician Mr.Horace Goldin (i.e. the hocus pocus type of magic). His subsequent books did not have a lock on them. I have seen pictures of that book and it did have a key and a lock in the book. I am sure there are other locked books out there and most older than the one I mention.
Just a little arcane trivia from the G.W.N.,
   slag - Thursday, 11/07/02 05:10:26 GMT

I have an electric motor with a 1/2" shaft onto which I'd like to mount a Jacobs Tapered #3 chuck. Where can I obtain an adapter for this? I've only found one for a 2JT chuck. Thank you. PS. What are the exact dimensions for a 3JT and a 33JT in case I need to machine the part. And will a 3JT fit on a 33JT??
   Robert Bliek - Thursday, 11/07/02 05:22:23 GMT

Book Locks. I am a hobby-leather tooler/stamper and a little pea in the back of my brain told me that I had seen a lock on the ancient Irish book of Armagh. I was wrong; turns out that a lock is on the leather satchel that contained the book. The lock casing is bossed up. Because it sits on leather, it of course, can't be a mortise lock, as on a wooden chest. I suspect that the mechanism is not that different. The satchel flap also contains what looks like a bifurcated hasp tail-strap. The hasp is probably missing. In Simmons and Turley, "Southwestern Colonial Ironwork", the same sort of lock was applied to a woven rawhide trunk, a "petaca" (page 149; page 155). My server wouldn't cooperate, but I found a picture by way of google: "satchel book of Armagh". In the 3rd paragraph, the book is highlighted, and I found a depiction of the satchel. The 8th Century leather tooling is incredibly fine with Celtic interlacing, etc. The satchel is in the collections of the Trinity College, Dublin.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/07/02 13:50:04 GMT

I an doing a report on coal vs propane as a fuel source for forging and would like some of your opinions. Any help would be appreciated.
   linkel - Thursday, 11/07/02 15:21:12 GMT

Honorable Gurus,
I've got a taboo question regarding the use of old files for knife making. I am sure you grow tired of wanna be knife makers asking for such information. Rest assured though, that I am a true student of the traditional blacksmith's craft and that I am in complete realization that old files are about the least desirable material to forge a knife from. That being said, I have done it anyway. I understand the the basics of heat treating- normalize before forging, anneal before filing, normalize again just in case and finally harden and temper. This last step is where I have trouble/questions. A friend helped me to temper a piece with an oxy-aceteline torch, but I am not convinced that this was the best approach. I am thinking about trying the red hot bar to transfer the heat method next. Is anyone willing to guide me through this process?? How does one direct so many different colors to the various locations desired?? Feel free to send me a personal email if this is too much off of the topic. Thanks in advance.
   Wendy - Thursday, 11/07/02 16:11:33 GMT

Tapers: Robert, Jacobs Tapers are very similar to Morse tapers except they are very short. AND like Morse tapers Jacobs taper (measured in inches per foot) varies from one size taper to the other. I could look it up for you but it is a LOT of data per taper including tolerances. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has all the information you need on both Morse and Jacobs tapers (also Jarno and Brown and Sharpe).

I do not believe they make an arbor/adaptor to fit over a shaft. Morse tools (now the a Cooper Group co) makes the arbors and they are available from all machine tool dealers and many hardware dealers. You can order them on-line from McMaster-Carr (use key words Morse taper).

The #33 Jacobs taper is the smallest at 0.6240" on the large end and the #3 much bigger at 0.8110".

I would buy a #3MT to #3JT arbor, shorten it and then bore and ream it to fit the motor shaft then drill and tap for a set screw.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 16:27:06 GMT

File Steel Knife: Wendy, More hand made knives have probably been been made from files than any other steel going back centuries. There is an OLD story my father tells about a fellow that owned a machine shop and when he hired a new machinist he handed each one a brand new hunting knife in a sheath. When the machinist asked why the expensive gift when he hadn't done anything to deserve it, the shop owner said,
"So you won't be grinding up my files making knives!"

Oxy-actylene is generaly much too fast and much too hot for tempering. It can be done but takes skill in both tempering and using the torch. Generaly it is done on parts that can be heated to short of a red on one end and the tempering colors "run" to the other end.

If you have attempted to temper and have messed up you will need to reharden (start again).

You don't need to heat the bar or plate for tempering to a red heat. Tempering of plain carbon steels is done in the range of 350°F to 650°F. A large bar or plate is heated to the highest tempering temperature in your range and then the small work piece is laid on the big heat sink. You can use the temper colors to determine the temperature of the heat sink but only going UP, not going down.

If you lay the work piece on heat sink and wait then it be uniformly heated to the same temperature as the heat sink and have a uniform temper. To get range of tempering in a knife you would hold the blade's back on the plate and watch the colors run UP the blade. This assumes you have a blade with a straight back.

What you want in this case is for the back of the blade to be soft (say a dark blue) and the edge tempered but still hard (say a pale to straw yellow). You should always do a test sample when using steels of unknown composition.

To assure a good full tempering I would equaly temper the entire piece to the highest hardness (lowest temper temperature) to be sure the entire part was tempered. Then clean off the temper color and retemper on a hotter plate watching the colors run for local tempering. Since the edge has been tempered once you do not need to let the color run all the way to the edge. The colors (heat) will not run evenly so pretempering assures a good temper at the edge AND you don't need to worry about under/overheating the thin edge.

The tang on a knife should be tempered soft (just like the tang of the file you started with). In this case you heat the far end of the tang almost to a red heat and let cool slowly. To prevent softening the blade the knife can be clamped in a vise so the heat does not conduct past the tang.

On blades where the end of the tang is going to be riveted to hold on the pommel the very end of the tang should be heated to a red and then burried in an annealing medium (lime, ashes, vermiculite) and allowed to cool very slowly.

A good blacksmith tempering job can be much superior to a factory job even though the smith doesn't have the fancy heat treating furnaces and temperature measurment equipment. The difference is the localized tempering that you do not get from parts being tempered equally in a production process.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 17:05:34 GMT

Guru thanks for the reply on bending the flat spring. I have one more about leaf springs , if you hammer it while it is red/orange to reduce the thickness, is that going to remove a lot of the springiness? I can live with less spring action as long as it is more than mild steel.
   Franklin - Thursday, 11/07/02 17:35:47 GMT

Coal vs gas: Linkel, See our coal/charcoal FAQ.

A gas forge is clean and efficient. Fuel is readily available almost everywhere on the planet. But gas forges are limited to their enclosure size and a large gas forge is very inefficient for small work. Steel tends to scale more in gas forges making it more difficult to forge weld. However, more laminated steel comes from gas forges than any other type of forge.

Coal forges are dirty (the coal, ash, smoke) and good sources of coal are getting more difficult to find. Shipping in small amounts can be a major expense. But coal forges are hotter than gas and are better for many kinds of work. A coal forge is not limited by its size the way a gas or oil forge is. A large or unweildly shaped piece can be heated in a coal forge while the same forge can be very efficient heating very small work. The faster heat and the flexibility is why many smiths still use coal.

Charcoal is still used and has all the advantages of coal but has cleaner exhaust.

Oil forges are similar to gas forges but run hotter and are easier to get a carburizing atmosphere which scales the steel less and is easier to forge weld with. The exhaust of an oil forge is not as clean as gas and MUST be vented. They are also more difficult to light than a gas forge. Oil forges are used more industrialy than in small shops.

Solid fuel forges are easy to construct and may be anything from a hole in the ground, to a permanent brick affair OR a cast iron of steel device. Blowers can be wood, wood and leather ot cloth OR modern electric motor driven devices. There are a variety of commercial coal forges available.

Gas and oil forges are technicaly more difficult to construct and both use relatively expensive refractory linings and insulation. Although many smiths build their own (mechanicaly they are simple devices) it is not a job for the timid or technicaly inept. Commercially built gas forges come in various sizes and types. Some are light weight and portable and others heavy and permanent.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 17:40:42 GMT

File Knife: Wendy in addition to what the guru said, Iíve had success with file knives using edge quenching ala Wayne Goddard. If the knife is sizable, quench JUST the first 1/4" or so of the blade edge in cooking oil after forging or after rough shaping. Leave the edge at least 1/16" thick. Let the residual heat of the unquenched back temper the blade. No colors will be visible.

This takes some trial and error. Well, at least I had some errors. Grin. Can test quenched hardness on the blade edge and back with a good file. For better file blades, I then temper the whole blade at 350 F in a toaster oven.

Edge quenching gave me less cracked and warped file blades than full quench and then temper.

Just my experience. FWIW

Wayne Goddards books are great!
   - Tony - Thursday, 11/07/02 17:50:44 GMT

Forging Spring Steel: Franklin, Once the steel is above a red the hardness and temper is gone. Forging will not effect the springyness further other than changing the size of the material.

Air cooled most spring steel is pretty hard compared to mild steel and much stiffer. Even at forging temperatures you can tell the difference. However, to have the full strength the spring steel needs to be hardened and tempered.

IF a piece of tool or spring steel is forged thin enough it may cool fast enough in the air to be full hard and VERY brittle. To reduce the brittleness the piece must be tempered by reheating to some temperature well below a red heat. Springs are usualy tempered to about 550 to 580°F (purple to blue). But it depends on the type of steel. However, all carbon steels should be temperd after hardening even if they are not hardened on purpose.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 18:49:56 GMT

The Satchel of the Book of Armagh: Frank, Very interesting reference. One history notes that the satchel dates from 937AD and has other details but nothing about the lock.

This looks like a piece of the lock (the shackle) might be missing. There are loops that protrude through slots in the flap where it looks like a bar fit. Then there is a notch in the lock that looks like it recieved and held onto a tab attached at right angle to the bar. But that is just my guess.

It is funny the tangents we get onto as craftsfolk and artists. When I was studying musical instruments the Irish harps were often decorated with Celtic knots, either inlaid or carved. There are only two really good books on the Celtic knot. By a father and son, George and Iain Bain.
I've got both somewhere. Most others are derived from their work. However, there are now a lot of good sources on the Internet. I was also interested in marbling and have a hand full of references on the subject. . finally collected the materials to do it a few years ago but never setup.

The half million dollar question on the millionair show was once a question about "glair". You would only know what this is if you had studied book binding and gilding or possibly gormet cooking but the term is rare in cooking. It is made from egg whites and that would have won the half mill. . . In comparison the million dollar question was easy.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 19:49:26 GMT

Guru, A pratical question. I am working on a piece of 1/4 by 1" stock 8 1/2 feet long. The customer wants it textured (I am hitting it with a ball peen then with a rounding hammer). My problen is dealing with the lenght and controling it. My bigest problen is when I get near 1/3 the lenght it bends where I take the heat. How do I work on something this long with out an 8' anvil? Thank you William
   triw - Thursday, 11/07/02 21:45:33 GMT

Long Work Triw, There are several ways to handle this. Just do the forging, let the shape do what it may and then straighten the bar afterwards. OR use stock stands set the height of your anvil to support the extra length. Many smiths cold texture bar of this sort. . by hand OR by machine. More stock gets cold textured under power hammers than hot work. . .

Stock stands are indespensible in doing archetectural work. They are usualy a three legged stand supporting an adjustable column that either has a plain cross bar or roller top. They are pretty much the same as the stands used with a saw except that they are usualy taller so that they can be anvil, vise or weld platen height. It is not unusual to have three or four in use at one time. All the ones I've seen were shop made. Note that tall ones need a large and/or heavy base to prevent tipping.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 22:44:29 GMT

OBTW - Grant Sarver makes a ball pien texture die that Kayne and Son sells.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/07/02 22:45:36 GMT

Raiders of the Lost Ark is where I saw the locked book (not Indiana Jones). I thought it was handled but it had iron hasps to hold it closed that looked like they could accept a lock. Hollywood fiction or reproduction? Who knows. . looked neat.

Fiction and Popular Culture: Movies, televison and theater have had some odd effects on popular culture. President Reagan didn't know the difference between historical events and an old war movie. His vice president didn't know real science from faux science (pyramid and crystal power). The Disney Shaggy Dog series caused a huge demand for Old English Sheep dogs that resulted in a lot of inbreeding and serious genetic problems in the breed. 101 Dalmations did the same for that breed. The Conan the Barbarian, Highlander I, II . . . and the related television series have surely had a great effect on the number of folks that come here asking how to make a sword. . . and the availability of vast quantities of cheap imported on the home shopping network.

Then there is my earlier mention of the Fort Smith Arkansas antique lock forgery. The place IS real and there was a notorious jail there. But you have to really search for it and it won't be found in a U.S. history. However, it has been popularized in the John Wayne movie True Grit (one of my favorites) and the only reason a forgery using the name would stir any interest.

So what effect has the Internet had on our field? The net is surely a definite part of popular culture. For five years we have been telling the youth of the world how to get started in blacksmithing, where to find tools and to make them, and answering their every question. A generation has come of age knowing that they were not crazy and not the only people interested in being blacksmiths.

So what effect will we have on the next generation?
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 00:22:00 GMT

Book hardware:

Actually I will not be doing the actual binding, all I have been contacted about was hardware such as corner protectors and a hasp or buckle (which are fairly common in period, though I have yet to find a true lock, though I still only in the beginning phase of the research:-) But the book will be a quatro I think, and probably bound with a standard coptic stitch I owuld guess, all done by another artisan. There will likely be a belt bag for the book made by still another artisan, since that was a common accessory for small books in that period. And then I think there will be some caligraphy and illuminations commissioned form still more artists.

So I am in the collecting references stage of the research, then I will write an outline of the documentation, finalize the designs with my patron, and confirm measurements with the bookbinder. Then forge and file finish the peices, and fit them to the book. Then finish writing the documentation, with a description of the process and an explantion of the materials and rational behind the design, backed up with examples from period.

Take a look at these:-) Fine Bookbindings in the Braidense Library http://www.bookbinding.it/ukd.htm

Marbling hun? I do lampwork beads and small blown vessels in glass as well... If that big burner lampwork torch is burning a hole in your pocket, I am sure I could releive you of that burden:-) my little hothead mapp torch setup can't do borisilacate, or even very large blown pieces, and those minor and major torches are a little salty to just buy off the rack... Or were you planning on just using a rosebud tip with a propane/ oxygen fuel mixture when you were planning on doing marbling??? I suppose I could do that, as a cheap way to do larger pieces:-) I would have to buy a nice rosebud though... and I still need to finish enclosing my shop before I get a bunch of snow inthere with my new aircompressor and power hammer...

Too many hobbies, not enough time and money for them all:-)
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 11/08/02 01:55:13 GMT

Help I can't find an anvil I cant find one anywhere. I live in Texas. If anyone heres anythinhg. Is there a anvil maker anywhere near here.
   CyberWinter - Friday, 11/08/02 02:18:23 GMT

I am learning to make some craft projects out of horseshoes. I have seen horseshoes that have been heated and turned into beautiful rainbow colors. I have tried to do it with my acteleyne torch. I can get blue and if I get it too hot it goes black and I have to start over. I would like some of the other colors in it like yellow. I am pretty good at stick welding and brazing and that is it. Would appreciate knowing how to heat the metal for the colors of a rainbow. I am using new horseshoes that are cleaned with a wire brush until they shine. Thank you!
   Sandra - Friday, 11/08/02 02:24:45 GMT

I am considering buying a damascus steel folding/hunting knife to replace my Buck folding hunter and want to know what the advantages and disadvantages are in damascus steel. Is it worth the price? Is it better than a high carbon stainless? Also what type of care do they require? The knife will be for general use, camping, and general outdoor use. I'm not a hunter so it won't be used in dressing game.
   Steve Mattox - Friday, 11/08/02 02:52:34 GMT

CyberWinter, There are more anvils in Texas than you can haul in a freight train AND there are at least TWO manufacturers of anvils in Texas. . Contact the local blacksmithing groups and go to a meeting or two. Expect to pay $200 to $300 for a decent anvil unless you find it yourself.

Ah Paper Marbling. . not glass: Simple equipment but the materials are a bit of a sticky wicket. The traditional fixant still used by many marblers is ox gall extract. Um yum. . . But there is a synthetic replacement used with acrylic paints that should produce good results. Then there is the bath, traditionaly gum tracacanth or "gum dragon". Turns out the modern equivalent is Irish moss or Carragheen moss, is used as a food thickener largely in ice creame.

Books on Old Locks: One of the nicest books recently in print was the German Schlüssel und Schloß by Heinrich Pankofer, 1984. I bought my copy from Norm Larson but he said it is out of print. . Lots of nice old locks but the majority are fancy museum pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries. There is a nice engraving of an old locksmith's shop and tools that I would guess is from the 1500's but I'm not sure the book identifies it and I don't read German.

There are lots of old keys going back to the Roman era but they are often brass or safely kept iron but there are no early locks to go with them. This is typical of most of the examples in most books on the subject that I have found so far.

The lock on the satchel of the Book of Armagh is one of the earliest locks of its type that I have seen and is from a period that doesn't seem to be represented in museum lock collections. The oddly shaped keyhole is probably the only warding but there may be circular warding on the back of the lock and the mechanism will be a simple spring type.

For your early book lock project almost any simple hand made design will be apropriate if in iron and it may be fancier if made in brass. This was a time when there was little standardization and every work of this type was an original. If the parts are made by traditional smithing techniques and finished with a file then they will most likely be right.
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 03:07:04 GMT

Blade Steels: Steve, almost any plain carbon steel blade is better than the stainless Bucks (and this is from someone that has carried Bucks for 30 years). They are miserable to keep sharp. . but they don't rust and the old ones had the smoothest action of any production blade on the market.

Most laminated steel is not better than a good modern steel. Laminated steels, AKA Damascus, were originaly developed when there was no good steel available. Then patterns were developed as an art form. In fancy well made blades the pattern welded stuff is used for the body of the blade but not the edge. Today laminated steels are made for the artistic value. A good pattern welded blade with a clean purposful (not random) pattern made of compatible alloys is a good collector's blade and may rival a modern steel. But there is not great superiority in performance.

High strength laminated steel has no pattern, it is flat parallel layers of high carbon and low carbon steel fine enough that when sharpened there are no (or few) soft spots in the edge. At one time this stuff was factory made for Swedish army knives (not the little pocket knives). It was made in bulk by roll forging and some was imported here by Bill Moran I think. It was supposed to hold an edge and be capable of withstanding being bent and straightened. But it has since been abandonded.

I carry a knife as a TOOL not a work of art. Pretty is nice but if a tool is too pretty then you are likely not to use it the way you really want to. Like having a shiney new pickup truck. . . I haul STEEL and coal and rocks and machinery in my trucks and drag chains across the fenders. . . I couldn't stand having a NEW truck. I'd have to get a load of rock dumped into it first thing to break it in.
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 03:30:04 GMT

I've heard that propane/oxygen can be used as a heat source in forging small items. Can you just get a propane tip for your oxy-actylene cutting torch or do you need a torch made for this fuel? And, what's the deal about not using different fuels in the same hose? I bought a new hose for my actylene rig and it had a sticker that said it's for actylene only.
   thad - Friday, 11/08/02 03:38:01 GMT

Temper Colors: Sandra, The brilliance of temper colors is directly related to how clean and smooth the finish is on the steel. Wire brushing looks bright but it actually tears up the surface pretty bad. A rough surface can be polished between the surface irregularities by many finishing treatments but usualy by tumbling or vibratory finishing with something like walnut shells. Many products come descaled and cleaned by some micro abrasive method. They don't look polished but are. . .

Then cleanliness is critical. Temper colors are the result of fine oxidation of the surface. Any oil or preservative will wreck the coloring process. You need to degease well (probably with a solvent). On fancy coloring jobs you handle the parts with cotton gloves after cleaning.

Temperature is what makes the specific colors. The yellows start at very low temperatures (400°F) and the dark blue just short of 590°F (see our color chart on the FAQs page). A fairly narrow range. Anything over the blue starts turning grey and if you get black then you are WAY overheated (+1,000°F). Oxy-acetylene burns at 5,900#176;F. . . VERY easy to overheat. To use a torch you need to use a soft flame and never touch the metal directly with the flame (keep your distance).

See the posts above on tempering using a heavy plate. You heat a heavy steel plate to the temperature you want, then set the part on it. This way the part never gets over the maximum temperature of the block. You can use temper colors to judge the temperature as it goes UP but not down so heat slowly. Use a grinder to clean off a patch of the plate and heat it to the max temp color you want (dark blue). Then lay the part to color on the plate and watch the colors run. When they are right then pull the part off with tongs and quench in clean water. As soon as the piece is dry coat it with clear lacquer.

If you want an even color leave the part on the block until it is evenly heated. I have produced beautiful dark blues on gun parts using this method on an electric stove. For an uneven color just let part of the piece hang off the edge of the block. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 03:55:21 GMT

Guru and Fionnbharr,

I am making the assumption that your discussion about marbling is in fact the production of mibs and shooters! After recently purchasing the afore mentioned products for my brothers kids, I became very obsessed with acquiring the knowledge of their production. I have been asking many people and looking many places for this information. I would be overjoyed if either of you could tell me the name and author of a few books or even just one, on the production of marbles or a glassworking book that would cover a little on marbles.

I am now working on the design for my second hand made forge. I have outgrown my original semi-wheel forge. My next one will be equiped with removable dividers and coresponding air ports/valves that shall give a variable size firepot. It will burn solid fuel(usualy coal) and get the combustion air via a series of positive displacement pumps, which shall be made of wood and sealed with a hard felt and wax or other pheasible methods. They shall be operated via a crank and flywheel which shall inact upon the pumps via many a lever and gear(it will be beutiful to watch). It along with other coresponding tools shall be mounted on a trailer which I have acquired from my grandfather, ala Guru! This shall take a while. I have way to many projecst going. . .

I am also working on some experimental tongs which adjust and shall be able to accept various sized and shaped stock without the heat and bang adjustments. I am 3/4 of the way through forging the first prototype(I think there will be a few).

When I complete these projects I will post more information about them and I shall try to remember to make some drawings of them that contain dimensions. Although I took three drafting courses in high school and retained most of the knowledge, I usualy end up just building it and work out the exact dimensions as I go and the details in my head. Although I usualy do some calculations(If the situation warents it) to make sure I don't kill myself or others. Some times I just get too ernest and just do it. Example, after getting half way done with building my three foot dia. wooden centrifugal fan, I decided to use the often under estimated power of visualization and "ran" the fan in my head for a while, slow. . . then fast. The fast part made me a little uneasy. After doing some calculations on what would happen if I or some rouge punk, started spinning it like crazy, I became very uncomfortable, mainly with the feet per minute and the massive accumilation of loads involved. So I gave that up and went on to other designs. That is how I came up with the afore mentioned air delivery design.

I shall post my updates in the virtual hammer in and hope that eventualy my designs will help out the progres of modern blacksmithing.
   Caleb Ramsby - Friday, 11/08/02 04:00:43 GMT

Oxy-Propane Thad, Propane forges use propane and air, not pure oxygen. But if using a torch you can use oxygen. . . For than matter if using a torch you can use oxy-acetylene. In either case you need a few fire bricks to set the work on and reflect the heat back. I generaly make a corner out of bricks and heat the bricks around the steel so that the part doesn't get burnt. For most work you need to use a rose bud (heating) tip. If you plan on using this method much then you also need an economizer valve. This is mostly for safety reasons. When you get the steel hot then you have to put the torch down. Resting that rocket engine of a rose bud on a bench or stand is dangerous and repeatedly relighting the torch is cumbersum. You also cannot afford the time it takes to turn off the torch. . . An economizer valve has a lever that when you set the torch on it both the oxy and fuel are shut off. When you pick up the torch there is a little pilot light in the valve that you wisk the torch past to relight it. VERY nifty, saves gas AND your nerves as well as making your shop a safe place.

A little gas forge is MUCH more convienient.

Propane rapidly degrades acetylene hose. But you could have bought a grade "T" hose that is rated for all fuel gases including propane, mapp and acetylene. It just costs a little more. If you use propane in your regular hoses their life will only be about a year.
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 04:14:00 GMT


It took me a while to read all the posts and then type mine so I didn't see you're post saying that it was paper marbling NOT glass marbles.

Fionnbharr I would still apreciate any information you could provide me.

Ice cream filler,

Did you know they use powerded potato flakes in soft serve ice cream, frozen yogurt and some chocolets. Talk about tangents!
   Caleb Ramsby - Friday, 11/08/02 04:18:24 GMT

Photo of William Petersen from Vise-Grip(tm) pliers package (c) 1980

William Petersen

Taken from an old VISE-GRIP™ package.

The original locking pliers were patented by the late William Petersen, a blacksmith, who learned his trade in Denmark.

In 1924 Mr. Petersen founded a small family business in DeWitt, Nebraska, USA, to manufacture his unique hand tools.
Today (1980), Mr. Petersen's "family" has grown to include his children, grandchildren, and hundreds of employees.
His idea has been expanded to include many different VISE-GRIP tools that are used and respected by laymen and professionals throughout the world.

The quality of VISE-GRIP tools remains unchanged; they are still made with Mr. Petersen's dedecation to old-world family pride and quality--the kind of quality you will not find in other brands that merely resemble the Original Locking Pliers.

VISE-GRIP is a trademark of Petersen Mfg. Co., Inc., DeWitt, Nebraska
Copyright © 1980 Petersen Mfg. Co. Now owned by American Tool Companies, Inc.
These are the origianal universal tongs. I think a pair with "V" bits and long reins would go a long way. . .
But I just heat and fit my tongs as I work. . . The forge is hot and the bits small. Most of my tongs are dedicated to a size but those that are not will be a different size or shape every time you pick them up. Some of my lighter tongs get over heated ofen and have to be adjusted to keep working. Once in the habit you never think twice about tongs that don't fit. . they all do.
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 04:32:28 GMT

Hey guys,

Remember me? I haven't been online for about a year and a half, maybe more. I'm the young upstart from Florida, had some problems with someone messing with me psycologically a few years ago, and have hardly lifted a hammer since.

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, kinda like riding a bike... Well, I was posting to ask when you guys will let me back into the pub, I tried to register over the weekend, and still no word.

I know I left sort of ubruptly, but I was a wreck. I hope I didn't leave a sour taste in anyones mouths.

Youngsmith (AKA Tony)
   - youngsmith - Friday, 11/08/02 04:27:27 GMT

Youngsmith, Pub Registrations. . . I have been swamped with them and I am way behind. . Its MY fault and nothing you did.

Glad you are back.

When folks try to mess with your head just try to ignore them. OR consider the person. Most of my friends and I give each other a constant rash of poop about everything in each other's lives. Sometimes it is pretty pointed and often personal. But that is what friends do. However, I DO know some folks that can't take it and I TRY not to treat them like my other friends. . but it is easy to forget.

But there are some folks that never figure out that some folks can't take it or take things too personaly. It may be your nature to be that way and there is not much you can do about it (most of us are born with our personalities). So you either pick different friends or learn to cope.

Its like sparks from welding. You know they are going to burn you. You just grin and bear it and keep on welding. Its life.
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 04:50:24 GMT

Yes, I gennerally cope fairly well, and am always up for a good ribbing. so please don't anyone treat me as though I'm fragile.

The truth is I was under a great deal of stress at the time, and someone (I still haven't found out who) sent me information that was false, but enough to send me over the edge.

I contemplated giving up blacksmithing comepletely. In fact, I did, except for the occasional weekend rondevous, or small art show, I've not really done anything that I would call smithing in probably close to 3 years now.

But the truth is, I miss it terribly, and I find myself wishing to return to the forge almost every day I'm gone.

I'm giving in, perhaps it's weakness, perhaps its destiny, or perhaps I'm simply a glutton for punishment, but I'm back, I'll be gone for the weekend, but then next week wednesday, back to the fire.

Let me also mention that it was not (to my knowledge) anyone on these forums that had anything to do with the problems I had psycologically. (In fact, these forums and boards helped me immensly at the time to keep from going further over the edge, everyone was very helpful.) But rather someone, still unknown to me, who hacked into my system, then spread false information, the likes of which I simply couldn't handle. Even when I found out that the information being spread was false, I couldn't cope with the thoughts that I had endured in the process.I'd rather not go into detail recalling the incidence, but I'm sure a few of you guys remember a little about it, I know I called Ralph D. at least once in tears.

So I'm back, hopefully for good, I've missed the comraderie that I enjoyed here with the different folks who frequent the site.

   - youngsmith - Friday, 11/08/02 05:13:02 GMT


Let me add my welcome back to the guru's, please?

People who do the kind of thing that was done to you have a special reserved seat in the lowest pit of Hell. Fire up a coal forge, and imagine that faceless anus sitting in the heart of the fire!

We are here to help, and 90% of us will do all we can to help.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/08/02 05:23:03 GMT

Universal Tongs,

Guru, thanks for the history. It alawys astounds me how many inventive people get involved in blacksmithing and how many inovations are begat from the said union.

My system of tongs are made from three main components.

1. A removable head which holds the work, which is hinged to component 2. This head can be shaped to fit any shape of stock. It also pivots along with the coresponding head to accept an infinit variety of sizes within the capacity of the size and weight of that specific set of tongs.

2. The piece that holds the tongs together with a traditional rivet. It has a "goose neck drinking water" look from the rivet to the head. From the rivet back there is another rivet which holds 3(the reign) and has a curved piece of flat steel with many holes in it. First the reign is riveted to 2 behind the main rivet, then if you can pick a point 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up the reign and draw an arc with it. Now replace the arc with a piece of flat stock. Now put holes in the flat stock and a hole in the reign at the point that you originaly used to make the arc. This is how the reigns pivot. A bolt holds the reigns in place.

3. The reigns. . . well I guese I already went through that in 2.

I hope I explained it well enough. When I get a working pair I will post a picture on the open picture page that has been recently provided or earlier a drawing.

The down side is that they will be a little cumbersom and much more complex but I think that three different sizes of tongs and about 20 different pairs of heads would make a complete set for all ocasions.

Right now I do most of my forging at a weekly local meet that occurs in a recreation village. We have two coal forges, four anvils, a hand made powerhammer, about forty pairs of tongs and many, many other tools. . . yet we are still a bit crowded.

Mainly this design is to keep the weight down on the trailer, yet still have the ability to rapidly adapt to the different situations.
   Caleb Ramsby - Friday, 11/08/02 06:26:25 GMT

Dear Guru,

I'm twenty five and have just left the military and moved to atlanta GA and would verry much like to get into metalworking. I have a love of midevial history and would like to find a school in the area so that I may begin to learn about the craft, from the basics up, any ideas of where I could beging to look? thanks,
   Michael J Seymour - Friday, 11/08/02 06:41:58 GMT

Speaking of air/propane torches, you can warm things up pretty well with that big ol' weedburner that Harbor Freight sells for about $16.00 or so when it's on sale (which is quite often). That, and a few firebricks will get you by sometimes. There's a valve you can open for an "idle" flame, and a trigger you can mash down and throw a flame about 2 1/2 feet. Wouldn't hurt to have an uncle in the propane biz, though. Good quality; made in Italy. Regards, 3dogs.
   3dogs - Friday, 11/08/02 07:08:13 GMT

Peter Wright Anvils -
Where were they made?
Are they still being made?
What sizes were they made in?
   mark - Friday, 11/08/02 10:19:59 GMT

Peter Wright. Dudley, England. No. 40 to 600 pounds.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/08/02 13:15:43 GMT

Temper Color and LeverWrench. When I've used the oxy torch on striking head tools for tempering, say a cold chisel, I direct the tip toward the striking head, not the business end. Use an excess acetelene flame as the guru mentioned, and "wash" the work from a slight distance. Patience. Holford in the old book, "20th Century Toolsmith and Steelworker" describes the use of a wet cotton swab to dampen down temper colors that are running too fast on a particular area of the workpiece. It's just a cotton rag wrapped and tied on the end of a stick.

The visegrip is wonderful, but a number of years ago, I bought a LeverWrench which gripped thick and thin alike without the end screw adjustment. It did have one wheel to adjust tension, but you didn't need to tune it to every size. I believe they also made a straight ahead tin snip (not a right or left). They had orange composition covers on the handles. What happened to them? Were they bought out by the Big Boys?
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/08/02 13:53:10 GMT

i have been researching the process of seamless steel tubing manufacturing and have built a small scale piercing mill. we have made several tubes successfully but we are in the dark as too data that has been collected on this process. I was hoping to find a book on this process, with detailed accounts of the differant variables involved. I am very interested in the study of this process along with other conventional steel production processes and the history involved in the working of steel, however i have found it hard to find detailed books on these subjects. Is there a library, public or private that would house these books? Thank You, Sidney Holliday
   Sid Holliday - Friday, 11/08/02 16:12:41 GMT

Frank Turley, Thank you so much, I needed a good laugh. Your answer to mark (peter wright anvil) was great. Just like I was back in class with you. William
   triw - Friday, 11/08/02 17:10:33 GMT


Many of these subjects are poorly documented. Ocassionaly a paper gets written for a trade journal or someone does the research in conjunction with a manufacturing plant as a thesis. . University libraries are full of these papers. Some are a treasure, many are worthless as unproved theories.

One of the best sources is ASM International. However, many of their books on forging and steel processing are a little dated and often do not get into the details you are looking for.

I would try the Library of Congress. Their card catalog is on-line and many libraries (if you are in the US) can get books from the LOC or other libraries.

Many of us collect old engineering books and references just for this purpose. A search on Bookfinder.com is likely to turn up something. Over the recent years I have purchased many out of print books from all over the world on various arcane subjects. Often these books are library discards due to age or the fact they do not get used.

It is a horibly sad reality that books do not stay in libraries. All libraries, public, school and private, have limited space and the biggest job of the librarian is culling out old books so there is space for new. More often this is done by looking a computer records for books that have not been checked out over a long period of time. The result is that books on many subjects end up in private collections and used book stores.

When my wife was teaching school she kept several of her own book shelves in her class room. As the school librarians discarded books they often gave her first choice because they knew the books would go to good use and most would not leave the school. When she left teaching after 25 years she had over a thousand childrens books. Many were no longer in circulatable condition when she got them but they had been patched up and used for many years after the libraries had discarded them. Few teachers do this. For one thing it makes their personal classroom possessions cumbersum to move. . . and we moved them at least 5 times. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 17:19:36 GMT

A previous question that is posted asks how to polish scratches out of stainless steel and bring it to a mirror finish. The process was described, but a reference was made to using a "white polishing substance" as a final step after sanding with various grits. It was stated that to find out about the white substance, one should go to the 21st century page. Where is that page, please, or what is the name of the white substance? I will really appreciate this information. I'm trying to shine stainless steel knife blades. Thanks!
   Carol Davis - Friday, 11/08/02 17:38:01 GMT

Guru, a good pattern welded blade should not have hard and soft layers at the edge as the carbon content in the alloys will equalize after just a couple of times at welding temp.

Now a blade that was made "for show" may contain pure Ni which makes a lovely pattern but does not harden and *does* prevent carbon migration and so can lead up soft layers along the edge. OTGH (on the gripping hand) you can make nice pattern welded stuff from two or more high carbon alloys (I like L6 and a plain high carbon steel) which will show a nice patterns and not have any "soft" layers.

The 3 layer stuff (soft hard soft) was used a lot in scandanavian pukko knives and not just for army knives. Blades of this stuff were offered by Kovals last time I perused their catalog.

My carry knife is usually a pattern welded one that I abuse as I see fit---it's a "tool" not some sacred relic---besides which I love to see the faces on the "knife" folks as I split kindling and cook dinner using a pw knife just like it was a "normal" one.

Finn, I'm looking!

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 11/08/02 18:07:02 GMT

Laminated Steel Blades:

I still have one of the old Mora blades in my ditty bag. Picked the handy sheath knife up years ago. (How many years ago? Well, Ted Turner was still into sailboats!) A central core of high-carbon steel flanked by Swedish wrought iron on both sides. Sharp as glass, but the edge does tend to chip out on some of them. No blade is ever perfect except for, perhaps, a single use. But as tools, they're much too handy and versatile for such a restriction.

Ask 10 knife-wielding blacksmiths and you'll get 24 opinions! ;-)

Books and locks:

I make it a policy to check out certain books from the Departmental library on a regular basis so that they won't be excessed. Took advantage of a trip over there today to check out Frank Turley and Marc Simmons' book on Southwestern Colonial Ironwork to look at the leather chest and its lock. This sort of confirms my suspicion that the CURRENT lock on the Book of Armaugh bookbag is a Renaissance or later replacement. The inverted T L or J keyways start showing up in the Renaissance, as I recall. (Of course, further research is needed. Indeed, my recollection could be off and these style keyways were earlier; or, for all we know, this could be THE earliest example.) It's just that the whole style of the lock looks to be much later than the bag to which it is attached, and much closer to Frank's colonial examples than to early medieval. Still, the world is a mysterious place and any evidence to the contrary will certainly push my knowledge into new territories.

I've donated some of my specialized books to our library, and they keep their eye out for me when they excess books. Symbiosis!

Sunny and lovely on the banks of the Potomac. A three-day weekend and NO expeditions planned! Maybe I can make my wife happy catching up on chores AND do some blacksmithing. (Look out 2-gallon pot!)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 11/08/02 19:29:22 GMT

My question is as follows: Do you have some names of suppliers that can deliver a snorkle type venting system? I'm a high school art teacher who is trying to place a small venting system above a large work area table (6'x22'). I came back to a new room with a single 6" snorkle vent attached to a large mental,spring loaded support. I would like to use the exhisting metal stack through the ceiling and simply place a manifold of 4 or 6 2'" hoses. something like a vacuum cleaner hose but rigid enough to hold its own weight. Can you please help me?
   Tom - Friday, 11/08/02 20:02:03 GMT

Well the territorial jail in Fort Smith does have some notoriaty; but "Hanging Judge" Parker is probably better known to the general public. Not that he liked hanging folk; but he generally had only two options: to release them as innocent or to hang them as guilty.

You see he had the closest Federal Court to Oklahoma which as "indian territory" was a haven for bad guys on the lam. (Once they were over the line only a US marshal could go and get them and only the federal court had jurisdiction.)

So all the folks who were bad enough to get a federal marshal assigned to bring them in came to Judge Parker's court where after a nasty stay in the overcrowded jail they got their day in court and often their day on the gallows.

Fort Smith also has an old bordello on the national register, now a restaurant---last time I was through there, it was once run by Belle Starr's daughter.

IIRC "Hang em High" also used Ft Smith as a setting.

Gotta lot of kinfolk in Fort Smith and "indian territory" though I personlly was born in the hills north of there.

Thomas (used to have a "Hang around Ft Smith" T shirt from when the chamber of commerce had them made up...)
   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 11/08/02 20:54:40 GMT

After making a couple of the Russian Roses from I-forge I used a product called "Future" to finish them with because I can't find liquid floor wax here. I used a pump sprayer from a soap bottle wife was discarding to apply a coating to the brass brushed, warm roses. they look great. After being handled a lot they still look fine. The acrylic covering is easier than a paint can And cheaper.
   Jerry - Friday, 11/08/02 21:42:19 GMT

White Buffing Compound Carol, The 21st Century page along with the rest of anvilfire is listed at the top of the drop down menu on most of our pages. Click on where it says "NAVIGATE anvilfire". There are two short articles on finishing, "Polish X" and "Wheels".

Any supplier of buffing products will have Emery (black), Rouge (red), Tripoli (brown) and White for stainless. The Emery is used for hard steel and comes in various grits. Tripoli, also known as rottenstone, is used for common buffing of soft steel, brass, aluminium, plastic and other materials. Rouge is very fine and is used on silver and gold. Rouge will add the slightest blush of extra "color" or brightness to items buffed with Tripoli.

Stainless is highly abrasion resistant making it hard to polish. The "white buffing compound" (not a mysterious white substance) is recommended for stainless. It is dry or "lean" having less wax in it than the other compounds which makes it hard to apply and keep on a buffing wheel. It also makes more dust so a filter mask is recommended.
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 22:49:33 GMT

I bought a cast iron skillet at a yard sale yesterday.

It is well seasoned but the bottom has a slight bowl shape in it. Could this have happened by overheating it and if so how can I get the bottom flat again. How much heat and procedure?
   claude daniel - Friday, 11/08/02 22:55:17 GMT

Blacksmithing in Altanta: Michael, there are a ton of blacksmithing groups in your area. The best place to start is with other smiths. Most of the folks in the blacksmithing groups are amatuers and hobiests but quite a few know enough to be professionals AND there are quite a few pros in the groups. In the East there are several blacksmithing schools, both the Southern ones are in the North Carolina mountains near Asheville, John C Campbell Folk School and Penland Arts and Crafts School.

See my article on "Getting Started", you may want to take welding and introductory metal working classes at your local community college or trade school.
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 23:04:04 GMT

Bowed Cast Iron Pan: Claude, Live with it. Use it on a surface such as a gas stove or open fire where it doesn't have to sit perfectly flat. If the bottom is bowed then it got VERY overheated at some point (probably red hot). The fact that it survived to be useful is a surprise. Cast iron is very brittle and does not bend. Uneven excess heat usualy cracks it. Attempts to repair it would probably destroy it.
   - guru - Friday, 11/08/02 23:12:18 GMT

Sid Holliday: Re: Making seamless tube. ASM and others offer a book entitled "The Making, Shaping, And Treating of Steel". It was originally written and published by US Steel company. It has a wealth of information, some very technical, on the topics in its title. It is THE book you should try first. However, it is rather pricey so check the libraries first.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/09/02 00:51:18 GMT

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