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

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

This is an archive of posts from November 9 - 16, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Re: Making seamless tube. Sid Holliday, 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

There was some discussion earlier about the advantages/disadvantages of coal and gas forges. Could a forge be made that was gas fired and used crushed fire brick, lava rock, or some media to get the advantage of burying the work? Possibly the burner could be mounted on the bottom to burn up through the "coals",keeping the work enclosed. I'm sure someone has tried this or a least thought about it. I was wondering if anyone had any feedback.
   Nathan - Saturday, 11/09/02 02:08:58 GMT

Nathan, there is such a forge in use in England made by a company called FlameFast. They use a refractory mineral chips called mullite as the media. The firepot looks sort of like a coal forge and there are small nozzels in the bottom in either a ceramic or high temperature resistant metal plate.

The disadvantage I am told is that the large exposed mass of glowing ceramic is VERY hot to work near.

The ceramic chips also degrade and need to be replaced every so often. They also must be removed from the forge after so many hours use and the small bits and pieces as well as scale and debris screen out.

Otherwise they are clean like a gas forge and have some of the advantages (not all) of a coal forge.

AND they are a bit more complicated than a conventional forge. They are fan blown and have flame out protection. I have considered building one as an R&D project but there is quite a bit of expense involved as well as some hard to get materials. The commercial units are not cheap either.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/09/02 03:15:41 GMT

Glass marbling information:

The short answer is do a websearch for Franz Glass Supply, first... They have books, tools, and glass. Marbles are made of borisilicate glass, mundanely known as pyrex, because of its shock resistance and durablility. It takes a two gas torch to lampwork it (base cost for a torch set up would be around 300$+? I don't honestly remember:-) , and marbles are often made with graphite molds. The glass is wound onto a mandrel with rods melted in the torch. Color is applied with frit (powdered glass), or with other rod. The glass is shaped with the torch (spinning the plastic glass in the torch to achieve the shape you want) The glass is then shaped with handtools like a marver to form the punt, with the marble on the end of the mandrel. Then the marble is spun in the mold, then the punt is necked down. At this point the marble can be cut off the punt and dropped into a mold cup so that it can be fire polished. Then it is flashed back into the fire allowing it to cool somewhat then it is dropped into a fiber blanket to finish cooling out very slowly. When the glass is fully cooled it is then put into a digital annealing kiln raised to a certain temp then cooled at a prescribed rate. That is pretty close to the correct procejure:-) a book by a marbler will have better description of the process, but that is pretty close.

You should also do a websearch about marble making, Lampwork glass tools and techniques:-) It will give you a wealth of information to sift through:-)

Hope this helps

And for those wondering what this has to do with anything, it is Flame related:-) Pyrotechnia...
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 11/09/02 04:50:50 GMT

There was a era where "improvements" on tongs and all-in-one tools were the rage...including 35 flavors of cam-locking pliers ( Vicegrips) and a bunch of other campy devices.
One of my favorites was the Eiffel-flash plier-wrench which used a gear tooth ended swinging handle to power everything from a pipe-wrench head and pipe cutter head and hex bolt head to a radiator plier jaw..all removable. Drop forged, I used it for years but never had all the attachments.
Generally, you can get a tool that will do one thing well or a tool that does a lot of things badly.
   Pete F - Saturday, 11/09/02 05:54:30 GMT

John Fick, former Pres of the CBA and an excellent and innovative smith has a forge he made like that using small high-alumina ceramic balls he made, piled in a refractory well under the forge table. He uses dry stack firebricks to make up the forge to fit the work and a burner of his own design. Very even heat and almost no scaling.
   Pete F - Saturday, 11/09/02 06:14:52 GMT

All in one tongs: As Pete F already mentioned, one tool to do it all usually does it all less effectively than a tool for a specific use. Then you have the annoyance of having to change the jaws for every change you make in the shape. This might be more dangerous if you let the jaws get too hot. I am of the opinion that the reason smiths have had many different tongs for the thousands of years smithing has been documented is that "this is what works best".
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/09/02 13:14:24 GMT

I'm of much the same mind as Pete and QC. I said something to Jock yesterday about a Shopsmith that I've said for years. "I don't care much for multi-purpose tools. Usually they do many things poorly, and nothing well." I'm sure that somewhere there is an exception to that, but darned if I've ever seen it.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/09/02 14:15:23 GMT

Reminds me of a Swiss Army knife.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/09/02 15:05:39 GMT

Universal Widgets: On the other hand Paw-Paw carries as many other folks do a universal knife/plires tool like the Toolzall that Kayne and Son carry. AND multifunction pocket knives of all sizes and complexity have been very popular for many years. For many years I carried small three and four bladed pocket knives but usualy used only one blade so for the 25 years I've carried a small slim single blade folder (currently misplaced ;( ).

ShopSmiths have been sucessful for some 50+ years. They are a great tool for home shop use if you are limited on space. However, like many things I think their reputation is based on the old machines that were very well built (no plastic). As a wood working tool they make a great table saw, lathe and drill press. . . but they are not a metal working tool and the table is too springy for drilling metal. . . I have done a LOT of that on a ShopSmith and speak from experiance. BUT they ARE a pain in the neck as the ONLY tool in your shop. It never fails that you need to drill a hole in SOMETHING when you are in the middle of some other setup.

The patent office is full of patents for tens of thousands of universal widgets that have all been failures. Look at the many univeral forge/anvil/vise/drill blacksmith tools that were sold and are now only of interest to collectors. Today when most smiths purchase an old tool or machine it is to be USED. Hand crank drill presses are still a GREAT tool and many get setup to use. The same with tire benders. But the universal tools are just a curiosity.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/09/02 15:07:40 GMT

Jock is right, I do carry a multi-tool. Mine's made by Gerber, a good name in tools. The tool is use most often? The needle nose plier. It's quality? Fair at best.
The other tools that I use are the screwdrivers. The straight blade driver is too small about 90% of the time, the Phillips head is also pretty small.

I'd actually be better off carrying a TL-13A. That's an army tool "kit" that consists of a pair of mini line-man's pliers with a wire stripper built in, and a two bladed pocket knife. One blade is a clip point knife blade, the other is a straight blade screwdriver.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/09/02 15:36:49 GMT

On my duty belt I carry a Gerber Multi-tool with the heavy blunt pliers. They work fine for battery terminals and the like, which is what they mostly get used for. I also carry a single-bladed automatic Microtech pocket knife for when I really need a working blade. That goes with me on or off duty, always. Like PawPaw and Jock said, the universal widgets are only fair at what they do. But, in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, one of those on your belt beats a hundred better tools that are in your shop miles away!

Of course, behind and under the seat in my pickup are enough tools to darn near rebuild most things, but I still seem to use the Multi-tool pretty regularly.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/09/02 16:47:47 GMT

Someone once said, "To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." That may be one of the reasons for the continuing popularity of the universal does-everything widgets. More tools, more problems...or something like that. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/09/02 16:51:29 GMT

To a blacksmith with hammer and forge every RR-spike looks like raw material! :)
   - guru - Saturday, 11/09/02 18:38:13 GMT

My mention of the LeverWrench on Friday may have led to a "thread" on multi-purpose widgets, but that was not my intent. The wrench looks something like a pair of pliers or an original Visegrip, but it grips different sizes WITHOUT tuning a handle end screw. It just does it. It's not a multi-tool. I still have mine, and it still works. Because I think it is a "better mouse trap", I wonder if it hasn't been co-opted.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/09/02 18:51:24 GMT

One last thing as to multi- tools. I carry a medium sized one in the pocket of my bunker pants on all fire and rescue calls. Not the best tool for the job but it has taken apart many burnt appliances, fuse boxes, etc.
   Brian C - Saturday, 11/09/02 20:33:40 GMT

Ok, I admit to owning at least 3 different "multi-tools" and several veriations of the Swiss Army knife. One or more of them is always in my survival kit. However, I am beginning to think: If my life is really on the line here, do I want a variety of "less than effective" tools or a few very effective tools that are capable of pulling my fat out of the fire? I used to carry a Leatherman in my carry-on luggage when I was traveling for a living and took it all over the world. Now, with all the useless airline regulations regarding taking implements of violence on board, I have to put it in my checked luggage where it would be totally useless in even a minor emergency on-board. I have yet to figure out how to open that little plastic bag of pretzels without a knife...not easy if you keep your fingernails perpetually broken off at the nub.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/09/02 21:56:26 GMT

I met a survival skills guy who carried a knife, but also insisted on carrying one half of a hacksaw blade into the woods. He said it was light and you could do wonders with it, everything from building a fire starting kit to cutting light brush for a debris shelter.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/09/02 22:52:51 GMT


The SAS "wire" saw also works, but I like the hacksaw blade better, and it seems to be more versatile.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/09/02 23:11:19 GMT

15 men/women, 15 different favorite multitools. And that's as it should be! Grin. Knives follow me home. I have a few Swiss army knives, Gerber, A few Leathermen, SOG toolclip (larger size), SOG paratool, and a few of the new Vise Grip multi tools. I carry the SOG toolclip all the time because it has a clip that holds it in the front pants pocket and you don't know it's there. Paw Paw, it sounds like your army TL 13A, But all in one. No phillips though. The Mini Leatherman is on the keychain and darn handy. The Leatherman supertool is in the glove box. The boy carries the Leatherman Crunch. A vise grip multitool is in the shop sack at work. Great screwdriver setup on that. My .02

I like the hacksaw idea. I carry mini hacks in all the vehicles, but don't have one in the woods kit. Yet.

Frank, I've heard the term lever wrench, but I don't have one and can't picture it in my noggin. Did Sears sell them?
   - Tony - Saturday, 11/09/02 23:57:18 GMT

Way back in prehistoric times. . . when I was in the boy scouts. .

I had a "survival" kit that fit in a small wooden match box. The only blades that fit were single edge razor blades. Other items included about 20' of fishing line, fish hooks, sewing needles, some plastic wrap to make a solar still, aluminum foil, some water proofed matches and a couple band-aids.

Now. . it wern't much. But if you had your other camping equipment or at least whatever else you carried on you it was a handy bunch of stuff in a microscopic package. On one trip I caught a bucket full of fish with the fish line and hooks using a pinch of the foil as lure. . .

At one time I had my wife's key-chain outfitted with one of the miniture Swiss Army knives and the smallest Min-Mag flashlight. A very handy combination and no bigger than many key-fobs. But you can't carry that fingernail clipper knife into schools anymore (or on airplanes).

In our irrational fear of a terrorist act that is not going to happen again we can't even prepare our family members with the most innocent of tools.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/10/02 00:52:37 GMT

I took about 2/3's of a hack saw blade and attached it to a handle(where the blade folds in to a small wood handle like a jack knife). Used it in upstate new york when I was a scout master. Cut everything from ice to barb wire. Was a handy tool but lost it when I moved back to arizona. I have been spoiled by the new fangled ones and havent made another. William
   triw - Sunday, 11/10/02 01:00:18 GMT

Tony, I don't remember where I bought the LeverWrench, but I doubt if it was Sears...probably an old fashioned hardware store. I'm pretty sure "Lever" was a separate company. "Wrench" is a misnomer. As I said earlier, they look like a big pair of pliers. One of the handles contains a tensioning device and adjustment wheel. The wheel turns ustil you get the tension you want. Then you get the same tension on 16 ga. as you would ½" thick. My snips say "leverSnips" on the plastic handle cover. They are offset, so that you don't buck your knuckles while cutting thin sheet. They're made so there is little torque, if any, from the sheet metal. Dang clever, I thought.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/10/02 01:34:09 GMT

Knives, Multi-tools and 21st Century Travel:

I keep my Leatherman, Swiss Army Knife and other like gear in a separate zipper clutch in my briefcase. That way, when I have to go to a courthouse or board an aircraft I can leave it in the car, my office, or toss it in my check-through luggage. Of course when the Jesus nut starts to back off the main rotor, and I don't have a pair of pliers, we're all going to be sorry! ;-)

Please don't get me started on tools and weapons. :-(

Posted a book review to Jock tonight and I'm finally working on some iForge material on different spearheads.

Lovely day on the banks of the lower Potomac; catching up on chores...

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 11/10/02 04:41:22 GMT

A leverwrench is one of the tools handed down from my father-in-law. The self sizing feature is handy. This one is chromed stamped steel with garish orange plastic handles.Sort of a blunt needle nose.
It's funny how a guy collects those odd tools and every once in a while one solves an otherwise impossible problem...and having all that crapp seems justified...for a day or two.
   Pete F - Sunday, 11/10/02 05:45:37 GMT

I am researching metal swage blocks, can you tell me how they were used please

   ken brooks - Sunday, 11/10/02 06:17:30 GMT

Ken, Swage blocks are a special purpose anvil made from cast iron instead of steel due to the fact that they are used for light forming or ocassional use only. Early custom blocks made from personal patterns had bowls spoons and a few curves or radiused grooves. Later commercial blocks made from professional patterns had closely arranged grooves of various sections (half round, half square, half hex) and sizes and the body was full of various size and shape holes to support work for upsetting or to hold other tools. Today these blocks are less common due to the expense of coring the holes. But most modern blocks make good use of the edges and also have bowl and spoon molds. Modern blocks are most often cast in ductile iron.

Jewlers use a similar tool called a "dapping" block that are very small, made of steel, usually a cube and finely finished.

Ancient Locks, Last Word: I just finished re-reviewing all the material I have on locks specificaly on the oldest examples. Three books I have are on major lock collections. Others refer to museum examples.

All the collections have roughly the same balance of objects. There are a few lock parts but lots of keys. Many of the keys are identified to be Roman era in all the collections. These include all early types of keys, both rotary bit type as well as push and lever type keys. The largest group of lock parts are from Pompei (79AD). Most of these are lock plates (estuchion plates) from doors and cabinetts. They indicate a mix of rotary bit and slide bit type keys (reflecting the keys attributable to the era).

Excerpts from a Russian book on metalwork sent to me by Bruce Blackistone have lock examples from 800 to 1000 AD. They included a simple bit key operated chest lock with a simple spring mechanism and padlocks with push keys almost identical as those in Locks from Iran. This reference indicated that mortise locks were common at the time.

The satchel book of Armagh dates from the ninth century and the satchel supposed from the tenth. Although there is no comprable evidence of the exact style of lock from that period there is plenty of evidence that says it could be possible.

I tend to believe that in the face of evidence to the contrary that there were many more sophisticated devices than we have evidence of. We know the Romans had much more sophisticated wood working tools than the extant examples support. There are only one or two very decrepit examples of planes with iron/steel blades. But they were probably very common.

We don't have the example locks but we have the keys that fit them. We also know the quality of the metalwork that could be done at the time. Examples like the lock on the satchel book of Armagh were made by the finest metalworks and money was no object. When cost is no object the sophistication of the object would be expected to be more advanced than the average for the time.

Locks changed very little for hundreds of years and the early types are still being made in some parts of the world (more than two thousand years after they were invented).

The big changes in the artistry of locks came in the Renaissance and continued until the end of the 18th century when the lever tumler lock was invented. However, there were no technical advances in all that time. We know little about the locks immediately prior to the Renaissance but considering the very slow evolution in locks I don't think they were much different mechanicaly.

   - guru - Sunday, 11/10/02 06:56:43 GMT

vicopper, guru
getting back expressions involving hammers etc; one I heard from a student shipwright:
Small problem, Small hammer; Big problem, Big hammer
   matthijs - Sunday, 11/10/02 12:58:35 GMT

I just posted the book review by Bruce Blackistone of Medieval Decorative Ironwork by Jane Geddes.

Hopefully we will have some images to add to the review later.

Fionnbharr, I looked back at your original book lock question. By the 15th Century warded bit locks were fairly highly developed. But a small lock would probably be a simple spring mechanism perhaps with some post type wards or ring wards in the back of the lock. The key would likely look like it fit a fancier lock (false ward cuts).

   - guru - Sunday, 11/10/02 17:30:58 GMT

Dear Mr Guru,
I have a problem with joining the two halves of a swell bodied weather vane, do you recomend any books that would be usefull to me as I am not sure how I should be makingthe seam any help would be apprieciated
Stan North Wales
   Stan - Sunday, 11/10/02 21:05:57 GMT


What material are you working with? It makes a difference.

For example, if it's copper I say soft solder, if it's brass, I'd say hard solder, if it's iron, either weld or rivet, depending on the shape.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/10/02 21:45:49 GMT

I would like to make a hard steel knife from a file or leaf spring. Do you have any advice or places to start or references to read?
Thanks for any help
   - tom Fish - Sunday, 11/10/02 21:46:29 GMT

tom Fish>

Reading the Frequently Asked Questions section of anvilfire is usually helpful.

But you did not tell what experience level you have in blacksmithing, which I'm sure others will need to know before giving more advice.
   - taylor - Sunday, 11/10/02 22:14:50 GMT

Stan, As Paw-paw noted, material makes a difference. A great number of hollow weather vanes were made of copper and joined by soldering.

If made of iron or steel and the two halves fit each other well you could use several long machine screws and nuts to hold the parts together. This would allow for future repairs by removing the screws (probably cutting out the rusted fasteners) and then replacing them with new.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/10/02 23:20:37 GMT

MaleusNovum, your pub registration e-mail bounced.

Knifemaking From Scrap: Tom, either material will work well but it is critical to understand heat treating (See our Heat Treating FAQ). I suggest you make small knives at first (the size of a paring knife). Don't spend a lot of time on fancy features until you are practiced in hardening and tempering. After making some small knives that you are happy with then move on to that big Bowie you want to make.
   - guru - Monday, 11/11/02 00:28:08 GMT

Kefas, Poland, your pub registration mail bounced.

Tim H. your pub registration mail bounced.
   - guru - Monday, 11/11/02 02:08:18 GMT


Like the others said, the material you're using will affect the method of joining, but there are some guidelines I can give you for the joinery in general.

If you're working in copper, brass or silver, then you need mating flanges, unless the material is thicker than about 16 guage. The flanges can be either to the outside of the form or to the inside, but outside is much, much easier to form. One simple way to form your halves in soft metal is to cut the outline shape out of tempered Masonite backed by plywood. Make two identical shapes, with enough material outside the hole to bolt them together. You put your metal between them, with the masonite facing the metal, and bolt it all together like a sandwich, then you can start the stretching of the metal for the body. The form and the bolts will maintain the perimeter contour and a flat flange. When you have the depth you want, take it out of the form, trim it to leave a 1/8" flange all around for soldering. Make the other half the same way and stick 'em together. This method will give you enough contact area that soft solder (lead/tin or tin/silver) will give a very strong joint. You can use silver solder, but the temperatures required for it will result in the metal being annealed. After all that stretching/pounding, it will be nicely work-hardened and very resistant to dents, so I would recommend the soft solder. Use a good paste flux and rinse it thoroughly in boiling water after soldering to remove any flux residues that may corrode.

If you decide to join two halves with a bolt, cut a piece of tubing the correct length to slip over the bolt, inside the piece, to keep it from being crushed if the bolt is over tightened.
   vicopper - Monday, 11/11/02 04:14:16 GMT

i am a first time writer to you, and i am very happy i found you. i am 24 years old and live in vancouver b.c. canada. i have been an AWS and CWB certified welder since 1997, i am currently a fourth year steel fabrication apprentice. i have competed in apprentice competitions and am ranked 4th best apprentice in western north america. since i have been an apprentice i have worked on tanks and structural,and only had a few chances to work in my companies blacksmith shop. it is quite large and has done very well for almost 100 years, starting out making horse shoes. i have had the chance to see and feel up the all the homemade tools and equiptment, and to make large chain links and skackles for the us navy, but that was only a matter of setting up a jig in the hydrolic press and heating and forming the machined pieces (approx. 50lbs each). but they are letting all their tools get dusty and not keeping it going. now what really pisses me off is that my company nor the apprenticeship board sees blacksmithing a part of our apprenticeship!! i have talked to the directors who submit the learning material and they say it is becoming an extinct trade. i am totally rattled with their ignorance and they compare it with the extinction of oxy-acetelyne.
i am engaged, and a while back i started to make little things for the old lady. i have enjoyed it so much that i want to take it to the next level. to eventually move away from structural work and into ornamental blacksmithing. and instead, work for myself. i would like to know which direction i should head in. i have a little bit of knowledge about your trade and i would like to evenually be able to create anything anyone could ever dream of. and to be able to take the knowledge into the next generation. so guru i ask you, since i do not have a guide to show me the way will you tell where the real knowledge is???? i hope this introduction of myself will help you to understand that i want to read the books that you fancy and the ones you refer to the most, beyond the machinery's hand book. and the little tricks of the trade will come to me .
thanx mike
   Mike MacIntosh - Monday, 11/11/02 07:26:56 GMT

Mike MacIntosh, I offer three week intensives and would be happy to send you a paper brochure. I got a Celestial Seasonings Tea box slip of paper once that said, "Don't learn the tricks of the trade. Learn the trade!"
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/11/02 13:30:35 GMT

what kind of stainless steel do you recommend for ordinary (non hardenable) items such as pot and pan handles or the door latch you made.
   L. Sundstrom - Monday, 11/11/02 13:38:25 GMT

Jock, please excuse the above mispelling of your name.
I remembered seeing your demo in iForge on the Norfolk thumb latch and looked there.
   L. Sundstrom - Monday, 11/11/02 13:43:25 GMT

Learning to be a Blacksmith Mike, Frank is right and he DOES have one of the best schools in North America, or rather he is one of the best instructors. I highly recommend it. The time and money spent will return themselves many times over.

There are also MANY good books on the subject of smithing. See our getting started article and book review page. There are few on open die work using power hammers but there are many conferences and demonstrations where you can pick up the techniques.

Probably most important is to have a business plan. Most small smithys are a hand to mouth operations and are often supported by other work. In your case being a certified welder helps a great deal. Jack Andrews' New Edge of the Anvil touches on this subject.

Where you have a fantastic oportunity is to be patient and see if you can obtain the equipment in your company's shop. Many old industrial blacksmith shops are being scraped for pennies on the dollar including expensive machinery such as power hammers of a quality no longer manufactured. Small decorative shops can make good use of power hammers up to 500 pound (225kilo) ram weight.

Industrial smithing using upsetters and open die forging machines IS rapidly disappearing. The needed products are either being purchased from large specialty production shops OR small one man operations. Much of this work is fleaing North America for places with cheap labor. However, there is still some demand for items not made in high production quantities. But finding those customers is tricky and often depends a lot on luck.
   - guru - Monday, 11/11/02 15:37:27 GMT

Mike, I forgot to mention, you have an active local blacksmithing group. See our ABANA-Chapter page for their web-site.
   - guru - Monday, 11/11/02 15:40:47 GMT

would like to locate Ice hooks that my grandfather Douglas A Henderson of Dallas Tx made in the 1920-1930's.
   Garnet Murphey - Monday, 11/11/02 17:21:18 GMT

Garnet Murphey, Do you mean ice tongs? REMINISCENCE...As a tiny tot in Creve Coeur, MO, I remember that mom used to put a printed card in the kitchen window, if she wanted the ice man to bring ice that day. This was in the days of ice boxes, not refrigerators. I was fascinated that the ice man only held one hand grip on the tongs. The proper leverage did the rest. He had a leather pad on his shoulder for protection. If we wanted smaller chunks of ice for any reason, we waited till the big chunk was delivered and used the time-honored ice pick.

   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/11/02 19:22:55 GMT

guru(s), looking for decorative bolt ideas. wood screw and machine. does no good to forge a nice piece and mount it with available fasteners. what do the "masters" do??

finished a cross last night. took a very long time to cold chisel the grooves in each arm and even longer hot. losing heat fast major issue. will look into making a jig to hold the hot cut (center, right angle). deep grooves in the center of all four sides and twisted gave a very cool effect. heating to a black heat and oiling it; very nice black finnish.. thanks for input/comments
   - rugg - Monday, 11/11/02 20:26:03 GMT


Unless I'm missing something in your description, the twist you describe is shown in iForge demo #11.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/11/02 20:41:18 GMT

paw paw, yes. i would have tried the diamond twist but was running out of time. there has to be a more efficient way to make the grooves other than laying the stock on the anvil and carefully placing the hot cut on the stock and pounding away. the anvil sucks away the heat so fast that by the time i center the hot cut, i have lost most of the heat. grooving all 4 sides about 12" long took alot of fuel and time. the effect was great; looks like a tight basket. after the laborious grooving, i wasnt excited about repeating the procedure to do the diamond (or pineapple?) twist. on 1/2" sq and 2 1/2" tapers, it is a nice piece. i joined the pieces with a rivet after knocking down the joint with a piece of 1/2" scrap. a great lesson in working fast to minimize heat loss. forearms are aching today.

one more: i am looking at a heat treating furnace. is the only advantage of a unit that operates on 220 vs 110 quicker target temps?? would there be any reason to consider the 220 over the 110?? thanks again....
   - rugg - Monday, 11/11/02 20:57:21 GMT

I'm not much of a Golden Corral fan, but Sheri and I eat there fairly regularly.


On Veteran's Day, no veteran is permitted to pay for his meal. I understand (but cannot be sure) that the CEO has said "As
long as I am head of Golden Corral, on at least one day of the year, every veteran will have one good meal available."

I eat there more often than I normally would because of that. They deserve my business.

And to add to that, they took a "prize crew" and a bunch of steaks to Kabul to feed the troops.

I wish more companies felt that way.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/11/02 20:58:09 GMT

Re: Belt Sanders/Grinders

I want to make a bunch of railroad spike knifes with different handle variations. To finish the blades to a reasonable standard, I want to use a 2x72 belt sander.

What are some opinions regarding the Kalamazoo 2x72 inch belt sander (1/2 hp, 8inch wheel, 3450rpm) or other similar units?

I want professional grade equipment without going overboard with the more specialized knifemakers stuff like the KMG1 grinders.

What about rigging up a shopvac to try and control the dust and crude. It seems to me this would invite a fire hazard from smoldering sparks inside the collection drum????

Any suggestions for good sanding belt sources?


p.s. about making hexhead wood screws more decorative…….I’ve had some luck with off-the-shelf screws that I then forged the heads into something more interesting shapewise, or at least looks handmade. Careful with the fumes coming out of the forge when burning off the zinc galvanization on initial heat.

   Gary - Monday, 11/11/02 20:59:29 GMT


There is a more efficient way. Off Center Products makes a spring swage (in several sizes) that works very well. Kayne and Son sells it. I've got the one for 1/2" stock, and it works well either by hand on the anvil, or in the power hammer.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/11/02 20:59:41 GMT

Custom Bolts: Rugg, It depends on the job. In really classy custom work the nuts and bolts are often made from scratch. Bolts are made by upsetting a mass on a bar, decorating it as you may want and then threading the end. Nuts are done the same way. Not too terribly long ago all nuts and bolts were hand made in the blacksmith shop.

See our iForge demo #84 Bolt and Rivet Heading.

Wood screws are more difficult. Square head lag bolts are no longer available. Often a common lag bolt is modified by welding extra mass to the head and forging it.

Another method is to make a decorative washer to go under the bolt and nut. The advantage of making large decorative washers is that in applications where the bolts come under code (like on wooden trusses) the bolts are standard code fasteners. Washers to go with these are often non-code items and yours can be substituted as long as they meet the minimum diameter and thickness. Simply heating the head of a code fastener to finish it makes it no longer a code fastener. . .

A washer with a hex head depression will completly hide the machine look of the fastener. The shape of the washer can be round, square, oval, diamond, hex. . a flower.

   - guru - Monday, 11/11/02 21:11:53 GMT


Look at iForge demos 83 & 84 by none other than Jock Dempsey. Those demos are on riveting, but the heading tips/techniques shown in demo 84 should give you an idea how to make decorative heads for screws, bolts, nails, etc.

For matched sets of heads, forge one, use it to hot sink a die, then use the die to form many similar ones. For wood screws, you can either make the whole screw, by cutting threads with a file or or twisting a tapered flat, or you can make a special heading die to hold the shank of a store-bought screw while you create whatever head you like.

If using store-bought screws, be cautious of plating that might create harmful fumes when burned. Work outdoors with a strong draft and stay upwind. Zinc plating causes sickness and cadmium can cause death, even. Before you decide to burn off plating, check the archives for "Metal Fume Fever."

A "Smithing Magician" with dies made for grooving will allow you to hot-cut grooves quickly and easily as well as accurately. If you have welding skills and some scrap steel, such a tool isn't hard to build. I posted a couple of pictures of one that I built on the Anvilfire photo site on Yahoo. You can get there from:

   vicopper - Monday, 11/11/02 21:19:39 GMT

While I was typing, Jock was posting...
   vicopper - Monday, 11/11/02 21:20:32 GMT

I am recently working on a metalworking project at Boy scout camp and am asking for some advice. So far what my friends and I have done is made a metal pipe about 2.5 in in diameter, and on of about a 1/2 in diameter and closed one end off. We started making steam guns that shot leaves about 30 feet. We are now looking for a way to perfect our ballistics. We are very primitive in our tools. Our forge is a campfire (hot enough to make the metal glow), he use rocks as hammers and anvils, but are upgraing to sledge hammers. I am wondering 1.) how to get a hotter forge 2.) If filling the tube with pressurized alcahol would help our cannon, and 3.) How to make blackpowder at camp with very little materials.
   Jonathan - Monday, 11/11/02 22:26:02 GMT

Fionnbharr, Thanks for all of the delightfull information on glass marbling. I had already done a search titled "marble making" and didn't find any usefull information. . . mabey it was the search engine. I will try Franz Glass Supply. Thanks again for the clear description of marble production it has momentairily quenched my curiosity.

Universal Tongs and Multi-function tools,

Sorry about the lack of a response I have been away for a few days.

Yes changing heads will be a little of a bother, but the actual process will be unscrewing two bolts and then putting them back together again. As for removing the hot heads, that is what tongs or water are for and just have a few extra sets of bolts that are kept cool.

I like to have a set of tongs to use just for picking up the droped stock, these would be of a normal construction.

There will be some disadvantages to the tongs, mainly the size of the aparatus that allows the modification of the reign angle. I do believe that the grip on the stock will be far superior to that of a badly adjusted set of tongs and about even with the well adjusted ones. One advantage that mine will have is that if you must change the placement of the hold on the stock(from larger thickness to smaller or such) then the tongs can automaticaly adjust to a small change like that. For the larger changes the reign angle would need to change.

My original description "Universal Tongs" was a grievous mistake, I should have said "Variable Tongs" instead. I concur fully with the opinion that a multiFUNCTION tool(although usefull) does a very poor and often dangerous job at the various tasks to which it is applied, but MY tongs are NOT multiFUNCTION they are VARIABLE. There is a VAST difference. It is akin to saying that one needs ten different drill presses that have different speeds instead of having one that has a variable speed.

Does anyone remember the amphibous automobile? That has to be one of the most astounding multifunction tools that has ever been created. . . and there are some companies in England that are producing NEW ones. Most of these vehicles are extremely clumsy at both applications, yet maintain an undeniable appeal.

The sole fact that a various system has been using a given component or process is no reason to think that it is the best or even close to it. I believe the exact opposite. When studying a given system, I have consciously trained my mind since I was a child to disregard the knowledge and experience of others past. The main reason for this unorthadox process is to see past the details and perpetual minor adjustments all the way to the real revolution and nescesities of that particular system. There by seeing the whole canvas and not just the particular shades. If you think this sounds crazy, you would not be the first one. It is the greatest of probability that I shall be called mad to my very last breath.
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 11/11/02 22:46:36 GMT

hey guys I'm a full time blacksmith for 3 years up in the Ottawa Valley {Canada] , I picked up a sweet little 25lb kerrihard power hammer for $600 and have been really happy with it .Today we found a champion #1 hammer at a local scrapper [$cheap too!!!]. it's missing some bits {foot control and rod ], and it has some minor damage from being on the heap. The die edges are really crisp and don't look used . It sure is heavier than my kerrihard...almost, kinda ,sorta dented the pickup hoisting it out!.Whats's the word on these hammers, is it worth a fix up?? Can anybody post me a picture of one in one piece?
   - lydia - Monday, 11/11/02 23:25:31 GMT

Oop's so excited about my powerhammer,denting the truck and all I ofrgot to post my e-mail address
   lydia - Monday, 11/11/02 23:28:55 GMT

Lydia, The Champion is a very good hammer. We have pictures in ome of early news articles. . . The PABA meet. The Champion CD we sell also has photos and the patent drawings.

Campfire Project Jonathan, First, DO NOT attampt make your own black powder! I could tell you how but then I would be helping you do a stupid thing. In the powder making process there is always a high degree of probability of the stuff igniting. FOOM!

When I was 12 or 13 I spent a LOT of time trying to make black powder and if someone had told me the secret to it I would have been VERY dangerous and very likly hurt myself, a friend OR burned down our house. . .

Second, any type of cannon is also dangerous even if it does not use black powder or gun powder. Cannons (powder, steam, solvent or gas) all have a bad habit of not being strong enough, splitting and becoming shrapnel (like a pipe bomb).

Can't you guys stick to sharp pointy things? They are dangerous enough. . .

Forge fires burn coal or charcoal. Your campfire makes charcoal as it burns and this can be raked to one side and blown on to make hotter. Feed wood into one side, wait for it to coal then rake it to the forge corner. Typicaly a bellows or a blower (fan) is used to blow a forge fire. This is done at the base of the fire from the side. To get the air to this point you use one of two methods (or a mix) a "shield stone" with a hole in it OR a tunnel in the earth.

The tunnel was historicaly lined with pieces of fired clay pipe that looked like paper cups with no bottom. One piece fit into the other and when the one in the fire broke or burned up it was easy to replace. But the tunnel can also be built with rock and clay. It is somewhat dependent on the local earth consistancy. The bellows blew air into the far end of the tunnel.

In primitive situations the "bellows" were simply hides spread over a pair of shallow pits and the center of the hide was lifted and then push down into the pit to blow air into the connected fire pit. To keep from sucking hot smoky air from the fire a corner of the hide is lifted to let air in and then it is closed when the hide is pressed down again. There are usualy two pits to keep a smooth constant blast. Lots of man-power is required but a VERY hot fire can be made with the most primitive of devices.

A shield stone must be made of some type of heat resistant stone. A non water bearing rock (ignious rock) or soapstone is used. Water bearing rock can explode when heated so it is avoided. If the rock is unknown then it needs to be tested. The shield stone has a hole about 1-1/2" drilled through it and the bellows blows air AT the hole in the stone though the bellows tapered nozzel (made of dry raw hide). By not being directly connected to the stone the bellows, made of wood and leather, is protected from the heat and flame AND is less likely to not such hot smoke and air back in the bellows. The shield stone is one side of the forge pit and the fire built against it. In early setups there was a pair of bellows side by side. Later a "Great Double Chambered bellows" replaced the side by side style.

The amount of air needed for a small forge is about as much air as one person could blow IF they could blow continously. In even more primitive situations than above several people with long blow pipes would sit around the fire blowing on it in sequence. . . Rough to do but it gives you an idea of the air needed. For a large forge and large work this is not nearly enough air. Thus the hides which evolved into the bellows.

The BSA Metalworking Merit badge is back and the final projects can be based on blacksmithing (sheetmetal and casting are the other options). Check into it. If you guys could actually make something useful with your primitive setup I'm sure we could find someone to count it toward the badge.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/12/02 00:02:05 GMT

Caleb, I always keep an open mind on new ideas. But my experiance with inventions is based on years of working on projects where after when we thought we HAD something we went to The Patent Office and spent a few days digging out the dozens of relevant patents on the same device. We usualy found that every idea we had that we REJECTED for good reason (either based on logic, engineering fact or testing) had been patented.

Almost anything in the public patent files that was truely useful and practical to make and use is still being made somewhere by SOMEONE. But for every practical idea there are dozens of impractical or seriously flawed ideas.

Researching the "prior art" is a very educational experiance. Looking at what others have tried and failed at can teach you a lot about what MIGHT work as well as save a lot of time. My last bit of prior art research was into the availability of an item. I wanted to know if anyone had made it before. It took two years working full time to answer that question. . . . It it still a unique idea and if I ever quit answering questions on anvilfire it is what I would go back to.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/12/02 00:21:01 GMT


Last thing you need is to have an cannon blow up in your face. This can be due to a bad mix of powder, a little miscalculation, or many other things too numerous to list here. Then there is always the possability of someone being in the way of flying parts WHEN it blows up (pipe bomb). There are tremendous pressures involved, and pipe is NOT the way to go.

Making black powder is not a good thing to do. There are too many things that can go wrong in the process. One small mistake and you will not hear the BOOM!

According to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms:
(3) The term "firearm" means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; http://www.atf.treas.gov/pub/fire-explo_pub/gca.htm

For the making a cannon, you should contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as they have rules and regs concerning your project. www.atf.treas.gov Real nice folks, till you forget to send them an invitation to your party.

Turn your efforts toward the BSA Metalworking Merit badge. There are many scouts that need useful items such as tent stakes (that work), grills, grates, camp fire tripods, etc. From there you will gained the basic skills and be able to take on more advanced blacksmithing projects.
   - Conner - Tuesday, 11/12/02 00:38:07 GMT

vicopper, et al...good idea on the "magician" style die guide. more tools to make. another reason to get a heat treating furnace. would be able to use both a top and bottom tools, groove two surfaces at once. the "feed" end can be close tolerance to specific sized stock and the other oversized to compensate for the "swelling". plus, there would not be a large heat sink (anvil) so more can be done with each heat. no need to cold chisel the grooves. more time saved.

not trying to put heat on the guru, but it would be really cool of there was a way for anvil fire to "store" pics that can be linked to guru's den. i am far from a computer expert so please dont think that i am being critical. i wont be a member of yahoo because of the info that will be distributed to who knows what. i would buy a dig cam if the guru devised a way to allow "us" to access the pix thru anvil fire. i would go as far as to send in an extra membership fee if we could do that. imagine the guru's den if questions/answers/comments could be directly linked to a guru pic data base. the other arms of anvil fire could benefit as well. do something interesting? send it to the guru's pic holder and amaze your friends. guru, i have no idea what it would take to do something like this, or if you can or want to. i have seen this on a car site and it was useful see what people were talking about and also to reference the things that were posted in the past. just a thought...might it stimulate more interest in CSI???
   - rugg - Tuesday, 11/12/02 00:41:57 GMT


For working hot mild steel, there really isn't much need for heat-treated dies in the Magician. I use plain mild steel that is Superquenched, and it works just fine. I've run a lot of feet of stock through the thing with no measurable (using a dial caliper) deformation of the dies.

As for posting pics on this forum, I know that the guru has looked into it, but I also know it would be a lot of extra work for him or someone. Right now, there are the occasional idiots who can't resist the urge to post obscenities or hate mail here; if they could post pictures as well, I shudder to think what might be here. Even if it was spotted quickly and removed, someone might see it and get a totally erroneous opinion of the site. The Yahoo site takes care of that problem, and the info that they ask for is not only negligible, but mostly avoidable by the use of an anonymous address such as Hotmail or the like. Personally, I think Jock has about enough work to do (as does Kiwi) without having to edit/crop/delete pictures. Takes a bunch more server room, too. My opinion, FWIW.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/12/02 01:19:26 GMT

Lightening the load on Jock and Kiwi is one reason why I set up the Yahoo site. Also we are using the Yahoo bandwidth to display our pictures, rather than Jock's

I agree about not trusting Yahoo, but Vioppers method of using a "blind" address is a good one. We all have more than one email address available. I have (I think) 10 mailboxes on paw-paws-forge.com. I have an earthlink email address (that I don't use) I have a Yahoo email address (that I don't use) Any of them could be used as a "blind" address, if I wanted to do so.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/12/02 03:47:04 GMT

i would loke to learn swordsmithing but im not sure where to begin...and im not sure of all of the materials i would need...if anyone can help e-mail me at FenrisMidgard@aol.com
thanks -D
   Dylan - Tuesday, 11/12/02 04:21:24 GMT

Dylan, The most important tool is between your ears. Excersize it. Bladsmithing is just about THE most technical area of blacksmithing. There are MANY books on the subject and we have reviews of several on these pages. See also the books recomended in our Getting Started article. Have you read it? Got a MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK yet? That is one of my most important tools.

One of the most important task to fully understand when making any blade is heat treating. Study it. Then there is the simple (to an expert) engineering of a blade. . . and it IS engineering.

When you have studied enough then you will have also answered your questions above and come up with a hundred more.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/12/02 04:59:25 GMT


Please don't get me wrong, I respect the efforts made be people past and present to discover, retain and develop the various technologies that are in use today. I am always doing intensive research on the various technology(s) that I am enamored with at that time. The time that I disregard said knowledge is when I want to clean the slate(my preconception) and think with no encumbermant what so ever. Then, usualy imediatly, I think of the various practicalities. So far I have come up with ideas all the way from snow shoes with pivoting stilts attached(I actualy made and tested((fell down)) these just for the fun of it) to five different engine designs, none of which use pistons. Once I came up with an idea to make the detachment of drill bits in a hand drill much easier, then not an hour later decided to turn on the TV and saw a commercial for an almost identical product. My first gargantuan "invention" was when I was 10(1989) and realy obsesed with planes. I envisioned a plane with jet engines that would pivot thus making the various aerodynamic controls much less important. This was VERY impractical since the engines are so HUGE, later I became aware of the exhaust vectoring that they began using in various fighter jets with deflector plates behind the exhaust. Using the same principal but implemented much more practicaly. I have ONE idea out of very many that is very practical and so simple it hurts.

I am astounded at your dedication to initiating others in a new "lost" skill, quenching ignorance and disbelief while also providing a meeting place for so many different minds focusing on such a specific field. Giving so much of your vigours and fertile, life and mind to such a noble cause. I HAVE to get some money together, join CSI and help support this great cause. Instead of just filling your bandwith with my incesent babling.
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 11/12/02 05:02:47 GMT

Jock Dempsey,

I should have written "Your vigours, fertile and invaluable, life, mind and soul to such a noble cause". You have an admirable. . . almost magestic conviction to the development of a field of art and technology that is the main reason we have practicaly all of the our time, skill and life saving contrivences. For this I salute you and your small army of Guru's.

By the by, one of my given nick names is Captain Overboard. I think you are begining to see why.
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 11/12/02 05:22:08 GMT

Yahoo Image storage: There are many reasons that I let Paw-Paw go ahead and set it up. One reason is the necessary software. The other is the security problems. Letting the public upload files to a server is risky. And lastly there is a matter of space. We have been a bit cramped for space and are in the process of moving to a new server to aleviate the problem.

But part of the space consideration is lack of control. The amount of space used on the Yahoo site already more than all the images on anvilfire in our first 2 years (including all those NEWS photos). An image 3 times bigger dimensionaly is NINE times the file size. . . Full screen images on a modern monitor are 16 to 20 times the file size of the images we use in our NEWs and 100 times bigger than those on the iForge page. Every image on anvilfire has been cropped and rezised and then file compression applied. . .

I personaly do not like Yahoo groups. The majority of them are spammer's paradises. I would not have signed up for this one if I had not already had a Yahoo ID from back when Yahoo took over webring.org.

I would prefer that WE could provide these services to our users but it it too complicated and too expensive at this time.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/12/02 05:30:48 GMT

Caleb Ramsby -;
I'm with you on this. Reinventing the wheel is good mental exercize and a creative rush.
Having similar inclinations plus more years than I ever expected to have; I can confirm that it is mostly a waste of time and effort..but only mostly.
There are technologies and opportunities extant today that have never existed before and you can exploit them if you have the mental grasp and freedom.
Almost everyone is vastly limited by their preconceptions and that tendancy gets worse with age. Because we are mentally finite, the more you know , the less room is left between your ears.
To do something new, you have to be willing to play the fool..society tends not to allow one the freedom otherwise.
If you succeed in blowing them off their proverbial feet a few times, then you can demand more slack.
Shrug off failure and learn from your mistakes. Don't let the unimaginative bind you to their dismal world. Sieze the freedom and don't worry about being wrong a fair amount of the time...
Speaking of that..the US millitary has a number of your planes with pivoting engines..they keep crashing and consuming millions of dollars...tisk.
Captain Overboard, there are worlds underwater too.
Don't "come to your senses" till you damme well have too.
Even if our Good Guru is probably correct as usual.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 11/12/02 07:10:21 GMT

hahah ahhah hahh haha :) Goodnight!
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/12/02 07:13:50 GMT

Good night Guru....grin
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 11/12/02 08:17:55 GMT

Jonathan: An old friend and my new helper is missing his pinkie finger and most of his ring finger due to playing w/ explosives when he was around your age. He is very happy that, "that" is all that is missing. He is amazed that he has his eyes. The risk is not worth the thrill.
   - Pete-Raven - Tuesday, 11/12/02 13:03:47 GMT

Thanks for the info on the champion hammer , I'm ordering the cd.. When we scraped the mud off it today I found out it's a #1 with a july 1st 1902 patent date...looks like about a 50lb hammer and everything moves except the hammer in it's guides . Not too bad for $200 can [that's about$37.50 us...[:>]] I'm going to soak it in oil for a spell while I take that dent out of the pickup box.
   lydia - Tuesday, 11/12/02 15:06:35 GMT

vicopper, thanks for advise. understand fully the issue of pictures. i had a "blind" e-mail and battled a virus problem on my network @ work for several months. very leary about trying that again. sharp edge tools will use tool steel. will look into the mild steel dies.
   - rugg - Tuesday, 11/12/02 15:12:18 GMT

guru, where do i go to find info on "super quench" for mild steel on anvil fire?? cant find it.thanx
   - rugg - Tuesday, 11/12/02 15:14:24 GMT

Groovey: A lot of time can get wasted fussing about trying to center the chisel properly. I mark the grooves with a cold chisel on the cold workpiece and go over it once or twice until the cold mark is deep enough to hold the edge of the hot cut - the hot work goes pretty quick after that
   adam - Tuesday, 11/12/02 15:33:23 GMT

search the archives. I know that SQ was extensively discussed a while back. As I do not use it I do not have the recipe handy, but it was posted here. Should be in the archives.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 11/12/02 15:34:03 GMT

Super Quench

Look in the FAQ's. SQ is listed under Quenchants.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/12/02 15:37:11 GMT

Pix: I think the ability to post pix would be a great enhancement to anvilfire. A lot of what gets discussed here really NEEDs pictures. Sheesh, after reading one of Jocks posts I almost sawed off the right side of my post vise until Paw Paw intervened and explained thats not what he meant!

The problem of inappropriate content could be handled by restricting picture posting privileges to paying members. And setting clear guidelines about content. (IMO there arent enough clear benefits to membership over freeloading to really encourage people to pay up). Members who misbehaved would have their privileges revoked or, in extreme cases, be "dismembered" from CSI. This would restrain people from such atrocities as posting nudie pix of Henry Kissinger.

TheForge mailing list solved the problem of server space by buying a membership to one of the online photo albums sites and making it available to its members. This is not as nice as having pictures embedded in the text (the Jock occasionaly does) but it might be a good way to get started.
   adam - Tuesday, 11/12/02 15:52:08 GMT

errata: meant to write "(the WAY Jock occasionaly does)"
   adam - Tuesday, 11/12/02 16:07:40 GMT

Youth and explosives: When I was in middle/high school, I had one acquaintence lose most of his fingers on one hand to a fire cracker (an M-80) and another accidently shot himself with a black powder pistol trying to cock it. I KNOW it was an accident but he was labeled as suicidal and kept in hospital under obsevation for over a month AFTER he recouperated from the gunshot. After that everyone in his family treated him differently and HE was never quite the same afterwards. . . I'm sure the phycobable screwed him up.

This was decades before the current attitudes which will definitely screw up your life forever if you get caught with guns or explosives in OR out of school. Today, one moment of stupidity (or curiosity about the wrong subject) can get you permenantly labeled as dangerous or unbalanced in your school records and probably get you a police record. You may spend years in counseling and being watched by everyone. . . . No, I don't think it is right, but it is a fact of modern life.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/12/02 16:11:58 GMT

Making Bolts & nuts
Something interesting I've noticed in taking old machinery held together with square headed nuts and bolts is that the nut usualy is a bigger size than the bolt head. I have my theory as to why. Anyonelse have any ideas why?
   - JimG - Tuesday, 11/12/02 18:29:54 GMT

All right---how many folks here are still flabbergasted that they survived their years 13-25? How many of us did things that could have had serious if not lethal outcomes?
Can you still remember what it's like to be stitched up? Or how much trouble a skin graft can be? Spent a summer wearing a halo? Didn't need a mask for Halloween?

If you choose to do unsafe things *PLEASE* do them in as safe a manner as possible! Fire extinguishers and cell phones can save a lot of anguish. Learn how to pack and transport a severed limb and the speed with which it needs to get to the correct hospital with it's previous "owner".
How to deal with burns, broken limbs and head injuries. Skip alcohol poisoning compltely---dieing choking on your own vomit *never* impresses anybody!

"All of my life I had dangerous Heroes" but by the time I was in college I had atleast learned to have a back-up person around I could trust to get help when necessary and to have a message drop my friends would check if they hadn't seen me for a day or so telling them where I was planning to be. (even today I'll let my wife know where I'm going scrounging so if I don't show up they will have a place to start searching---only takes walking/crawling out of the woods on a badly sprained ankle once to see the value of having folks know where to search...)

I'm not going to tell you not to do all the stupid stuff I did when younger (don't want to give you any ideas!); but I will repeat myself: do unsafe things as safely as possible

Words to *LIVE* by!

Thomas--ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes, some scars
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 11/12/02 18:44:24 GMT

13 - 25? You really don't want to know.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/12/02 19:05:37 GMT

13-25 It's not my fault I am still alive. I tried my darndest!
   adam - Tuesday, 11/12/02 19:43:05 GMT

Hello I am a high school senior, for my senior project I have decided to do a report and presentation on blacksmithing and forging and its impact on human evolution.
If you have any information on the history of these topics or know where I should look I would be grateful for it it.
thank you,
cory lemings
   cory lemings - Tuesday, 11/12/02 20:03:46 GMT


Blacksmithing has been a major preventer of human evolution as it allows man to modify his environment rather than have to evolve to deal with it.

Since evolution takes place over time spans much greater than the couple of thousand years since the beginning of the iron age we won't see the effects for a long time.

I don't thing evolution is the correct word for what you want---try to get the teacher to use the correct one and re-post the question.

In the meantime "The Axmaker's Gift" James Burke and Robert Ornstein will provide much useful information as it looks at how technology changed us over time---a long time!

Thomas "if Og not do what I want I will poke him with a pointy stick" to "if Og doesn't agree to follow the resolutions we will use cruise missiles and bunker bombs and *then* send in the infantry to poke him with a pointy stick mounted to the end of his rifle..." see how technology has changed us!
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 11/12/02 20:15:09 GMT

Thomas, regarding 13 to 25...well said!

Potential liability is destroying our creativity.

There are safe ways to have fun with potentially dangerous stuff. All of the safe ways involve LEARNING first, before doing. KNOW what can go wrong. Simulate it. Shoot a pumpkin full of water to see what would happen if you would accidentally shoot your friend.

Find an experienced one like Thomas or Paw Paw, or myself... well maybe not myself. grin. To teach you about potentially dangerous stuff.

There are too many who want to try to control human nature with rules and regulations. Won't work. Education WILL work.

Paw Paw, yes, I DO want to know. But maybe better done over a beer or two and not on the Internet!

Tony... who still does fun and potentially dangerous stuff and will until I'm dead. Flaming treb shots with the neighbor kids this last weekend again.
   - Tony - Tuesday, 11/12/02 20:53:31 GMT


Some things it TAKES a beer or two or three before I can talk about them. Best let sleeping dogs lay, I think.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/12/02 21:23:01 GMT

Ahh Paw-Paw doesn't the statuate of limitations cover everything except treason and murder?

(I know what you mean; hard to come down on the kids for something when what you did at their age was *much* dumber. I do tell cautionary tales though.)

Scars are Mother Nature's little post-it notes reminding you *NOT* to do that again! (got my first one the day I was born, caesarean and the Dr cut nicked me! So I have an *excuse* to be fascinated by swords and knives)

Thomas past contributor to the home for burnt out guardian angels
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 11/12/02 22:04:01 GMT


For most of the time between 18 and 25, I was on my senior class trip. To Southeast Asia.

I've kept St. Michael the Archangel busy for many years now.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/12/02 23:40:24 GMT

How about this for a big arch jig.
   BobbyN - Wednesday, 11/13/02 01:33:14 GMT

thanks...ive read all of that...im just wondering really, where do i get the materials for it...thanks for the help-D
   Dylan - Wednesday, 11/13/02 01:51:30 GMT


That'd bend some big un's all right.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/13/02 04:38:28 GMT

JimG- Ialways figured that was because in the days when steel was precious, not too many people had TWO wrenches of the same size.

PawPaw, Thomas,Tony, et al.- I must have been precocious; I started maiming myself and playing with explosives and such at about age 10. Worse yet, my family owned a chemical company, so I had easy access to all sorts of wondrus and lethal things. I can't count the number of times I've narrowly escaped death from homemade explosives, toxic/caustic substances, motorcycles, homemade firearms, heavy equipment, and the like.

Even more incredible is that, having reached an age at which I realize just how lucky I am to be alive and mostly whole, I work in a job where I'm subjected to all those same things only operated by the next generation of young idiots. Hard-headed, I guess! (GRIN)

On a serious note, though, a word of warning to those young readers who find all this dangerous stuff glamourous or exciting. Yes, it looks good from your perspective. A goodly number of years down the road, assuming you survive it, you may find yourself half deaf, half crippled, supporting artificial body parts and cursing your youthful indiscretions every morning whenit takes ten minutes of exercise and three bucks worth of miracle drugs to make the busted-up body fit to move around in. Been there, being here, doing it. Learn now, appreciate it forever.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/13/02 05:16:43 GMT

Thomas P
RE, evolution and smithing.
At a minimum, it takes certain traits and tendancys to be a smith. Those Traits are passed on in direct proportion to prior smiths rate of reproduction.
Just look at all the folks named smith...is my point.
Counterpointed; is the survival rate of folks inclined to pyromania with a tendancy to beat on things.....P
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 11/13/02 06:00:14 GMT

Dear Sir,

We are planning to buy a vacuum furnace. The problem is, normally the system uses gas quenching because oil quenching in vacuum system is not really favourable. The question: is the gas system good enough to cover wide range of hardening application? We try not to purchase two different set of furnace. Thank you.
   lokman - Wednesday, 11/13/02 13:04:38 GMT

Pete F., So.... are you saying people who play with fire and beat on metal have long lives and reproduce a lot? Am I on the path to fun immortality?? Big Grin!

Orrrr.... did you mean the opposite?

Don’t tell me. I’ll go with plan A. I can rationalize anything! Grin.

Smithing and evolution. ALL knowledge and all products will be used for both good AND bad. That is human nature. History shows us many examples of that. Most will admit that life is a bit easier and survival less time consuming with much of what has been done by the blacksmith.

Have Respectful Fun or Die!
   - Tony - Wednesday, 11/13/02 13:12:34 GMT

Someone in the tribe always has to see what's on the other side of the mountain, and someone in the tribe always wants to stay behind and do things like they've always been done. Both are useful to the tribe, but as individuals either could get eaten by a bear!

"An adventure is a disaster that you survive, and therefore get to brag about." (Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)

Mucho soggy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks (scene of many historic and current adventures): www.nps.gov

Go viking (see what's on the other side of the sea; beware of bears.): www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/13/02 14:09:04 GMT

I have a old cast iron, antique dinner bell, in which the bolt that goes down through the top and holds it to it's cradle broke in half. Can you please tell me if that can be mended, or where I might find a replacement part?
Thank You.
   Lori - Wednesday, 11/13/02 14:16:41 GMT

If all you old codgers are done advising the youth of the world on how not to get a Darwin award, I have a question about one of the iFordge demos.

In the punching 101 demo, when he starts punching the hole, is it done against a flat surface, or with a hole behind it?

Also my punch seems to lose its hardness all too quickly. Is my work too hot? Or is it just that my lack of ability makes me leave it in the work too long?
   Stephen G - Wednesday, 11/13/02 14:59:04 GMT

If I need to set some steel posts for a railing into concrete in cold weather, what should I use? Or should I just wait until it gets warm.

   Chris Bernard - Wednesday, 11/13/02 15:17:36 GMT

Stephen, I punch with the piece on the anvil. When the punch stops, I turn it over onto the cutting table and knock out the biscuit with a sharp blow. I only use a bolster plate if I need to drive the punch deep to drift out the hole or , if I mess up and the biscuit doesnt shear cleanly. The trick seems to be letting the biscuit chill enough that it shears rather than stretches.
   adam - Wednesday, 11/13/02 15:33:26 GMT

Ok the idea of the biscuit cooling makes sense. Some of my punches have gone perfectly, but others just deform the metal. I'll watch for a "black biscuit" when I try it tonight.
   Stephen G - Wednesday, 11/13/02 16:01:03 GMT

StephenG. If you rub a bit of coal dust or graphite on the punch before you start punching, it will be much less likely to stick in the hole, and will conduct less heat. Having your hole location marked clearly with a center punch allows you to hit the right spot immediately and saves heat, too.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/13/02 17:16:52 GMT

Punching: If you don't use coal and have dust as VIcopper recommends (it does work well) then other lubricants work. A stiff axel grease has been used and never-sieze also works (but is messy). In both case be absolutely sure to NEVER use the container of grease for anything else afterwards. . Nothing like scale and refractory grit in your truck wheel bearings to put on the brakes. . .

Grease does the same as the coal, it both lubricates and cools.

Much punching trouble IS inexperiance.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/13/02 17:44:52 GMT

Would the dust from charcoal work?
   Stephen G - Wednesday, 11/13/02 18:00:42 GMT

since i have done some reading on the furnace subject, i can offer this: vacuum heat treating furnaces minimize decarb, gas quenching is rapid air quenching. gurus, is this correct??
   - rugg - Wednesday, 11/13/02 18:27:57 GMT

StephenG. Carbon is carbon, but coal dust also has some volatile oils in it that help. You might try mixing a bit of oil with the charcoal dust. I've not tried this, but it might help.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/13/02 18:49:10 GMT

Coal dust, charcoal dust, powdered graphite, grease, moly grease, beeswax, liquid soap all seem to work. I dont think theres any magic to the coal dust just that its handy and cheap if you have a coal forge. Probably they all turn to carbon as soon as they touch hot steel. I have a vile concoction of moly grease mixed with graphite which I pack into a short pc of pipe with a magnet and stick it under the horn of my anvil so it's handy when I need it. I dont seem to need it when punching through thin stock only when driving into deep material.

If the punch is in the work for any time it's important to cool it in water (or in your lube if its liquid). If you use plain carbon steel for punches you have to do this fairly often (every two or three taps)- if you use H13 or S7 then less frequently
   adam - Wednesday, 11/13/02 18:57:25 GMT

Re: gas quenching. Gas (forced air or nitrogen) quenching does not work on a wide variety of metals as does oil or polymer or water. It is a slower quench so the steels to which it is applied typically have higher hardenability. It is often used on aluminum or on case hardened steel. I would stronly suggest that you contact some reputable furnace manufacturers for specific advice. Even if you intend to buy a used furnace, the manufacturer of the used equipment would probably offer you considerable help knowing you will remember him when you need parts and service.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/13/02 19:09:22 GMT

Adventures in life-I work in a nuclear plant, bang on hot steel for fun and crawl into burning buildings that everyone else is running out of. No wonder one of my friends said that "everything you do will maim you".
   Brian C - Wednesday, 11/13/02 20:49:45 GMT

yes, but there is nothing like living in one constant adrenaline rush..and no matter what the Master Blasters say,(Paw Paw{grin}) there is no rush like that pager going off at 3 in the morning.
   Bond-JamesBond - Wednesday, 11/13/02 21:17:44 GMT

by the by, hello everyone, long time no see. Its good to see so ,uch blue on the screen.
   Bond-JamesBond - Wednesday, 11/13/02 21:20:18 GMT

Oh really???

Try taking a quiet stroll throught the forest and suddenly hearing the sound of a claymore in front of you and a machine gun behind you. THEN tell me about adrenaline. (wry grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/13/02 21:40:32 GMT

Chris Bernard, Didn't we answer that before? Or am I thinking about someone else. In cold weather, you must follow the manufacturers recommendations. But if it's going to freeze, the railing post hole MUST NOT have water in it or it will freeze and may pop off the concrete step or edge. That might ruin your day. Lead would work in cold weather. Health hazard, yada yada. Silicone works down to pretty cold, but is not a solution that will hold the railing firm. Consider it temporary. Some construction epoxies work pretty cold. Talk to a local contractor supply.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 11/13/02 22:35:02 GMT

Construction grade epoxy will work in cool weather and even set in frezzing conditions but you might have to wait a couple hours. However, if you warm the area of the anchor holes and the steel up to warm to the touch (80-90°F) but NOT hot, then the epoxy will set in its normaly TOO fast time of 5 to 15 minutes. Once it is set, it is SET and done. Rapid set concrets may be subject to cracking in the first 24-48 hours.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/13/02 22:47:52 GMT

Paw Paw gets my vote for the adrenaline contest. Pager makes me sit up straight-his situation I believe would cause a whole nother reaction.
   Brian C - Wednesday, 11/13/02 23:06:00 GMT

The only two time you get a bigger jolt of adenaline are when you are already face first in the dirt when the platoon leader screams "GUNS UP" and you've got the gun.


When you look up and realize that your main chute is tied in a knot.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 11/14/02 00:24:57 GMT

Thank you for your advice. I think I will hold off my expirements until I have the proper place, and safety to do them. I am also wondering if attaching a leaf blower to a pipe would be the same thing as a bellows.
   - Jonathan - Thursday, 11/14/02 00:40:00 GMT


I have very basic skills in blacksmithing but I'm beeing helped by an experimented smith on that one.

I'm projecting to forge a Japanese sword and I want to use the "jacket and core" technique. I'd like to get properties (not only esthetically) similar to the traditional Japanese blade.

Do you think I should fold the steel a few time if I'm using industrial steel with evenly concentrated carbon content? Does it worth the effort or this will add nothing to the blade? Maybe I should start by welding two steel blocks of different carbon content???

I reed many books on the subject but when a smith is folding the steel, he is using tamahagane steel. I know tamahagane is very expensive. Do you know a way of dooing such a blade without the precious metal???

Thank you!

Nicolas Hallee
2227 Av Clifton,
Montreal, Que, Canada,
H4A 2N5

   Nicolas Hallee - Thursday, 11/14/02 01:01:44 GMT

I'd like to make a hunting knife that would stay sharp. I don't have any experience with steel, but I have had a knife or two. In my experience, everything being equal, the harder the steel, the longer it will stay sharp. THe harder the steel, the harder to sharpen, but the edge will last longer.

I'd like to know if it's possible to make a knife out of an old file. That ought to be hard enough.

How do you do it? Do you soften it up and grind off everything you don't want and re-harden it? Or do you um-temper it just a little and work with it hard?

I don't have any tools except a bench grinder and a belt sander, but the blacksmith who gave me your address said it was pretty easy to make a one brick forge and a propane torch to heat metal hot enough.

How should I start or what should I read?

Much thanks for your help.
   Tom Fish - Thursday, 11/14/02 02:03:21 GMT

Tom, All your questions have been covered in the past week so just look UP. We have some reviews of bladesmithing books (all are good that I have read).

If you are completly new to smithing start with the books in our Getting Started article. We also have reviews of the same on our book review page.

The see the info posted above.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 02:24:16 GMT

Faux Japanese Blades: Nicolas, apparently you haven't read the right references. You need to study some basic bladesmithing references AND study heat treating. Laminated steels, Damascus and Japanese steel making are high art. You don't start at the top. You start with the basics.

The point of folding the steel repeatedly in Japanese bladesmithing is to produce a nearly uniform steel. It is part of the traditional Japanese steelmaking process. It is different from making pattern welded steel. But the Japanese also want to control the resulting pattern.

Yes you could get close to the same results by welding a modern carbon steel into a fold of low carbon steel or wrought iron. But the final result of the traditional OR a faux method is highly dependent on selective heat treating, an art in itself.

To make a "traditional" Japanese blade the smith makes the iron form "iron-sand" a traditional Japanese ore found only in a few places in Japan. From there the smith makes the steel by carburizing iron in his forge and then combines it with wrought iron. The "folding" blends the two to make a uniform product. The entire process is full of tradition and ceremony as well as having religious aspects. All that on top of being very technical.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 02:48:22 GMT

Leaf Blowers Jonathan, That is way TOO much air (and noise). Did you read my post about how much air it takes?

There are all types of small blowers that work. A blow dry hair drier is about the right amount of air but is still too much when you need a controled fire. Vacuume cleaners also blow too much air but can be used by putting a valve in the pipe. But they are still very noisy.

If you want to work at a fire pit (and there is nothing wrong with that, it is a great experiance), then you need to look at non-powered methods of providing the air. I described some of the primitive methods but they WORK.

Traditionaly a bellows is covered with leather and it DOES hold up very well but you can also use heavy cloth (canvas, cotton duck, denim). In fact an old pair of jeans has enough cloth for a small portable bellows that could be packed into a campsite. Pine shelving works well for the boards but you could use plywood. Its a little hard to get nails to stay in the edges.

I once had a fellow from Finland write to me about his "bellows" made from a 5 gallon plastic pail, some plastic sheeting and duct tape. . A real McIvor deal! It worked and didn't require electric power.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 03:12:58 GMT


a 6inches 12 volt variable speed 'muffin' fan works well.
it is portable and quite common. i salvage them out of old
computer equipment. the smaller 4inch would work just not as
many cfm. the best feature about them is that they are quiet.
no load noise like a leaf blower, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner.
i have toyed with the idea of using a cpu cooler fan.
i have no idea what kind of cfm those put out. these are
again portable and extremely common.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 11/14/02 10:11:15 GMT


after several attempts i have a working spreadsheet which calculates the

maximum btu/hr withdraw rate for propane cylinders and tanks.
the number of cylinders (of the same size) to manifold together to avoid
cylinder freeze ups.
btu/hr for orifices from 0.0080 thru 0.0120 and numbered drill sizes 80
thru 18 for the following pressures 5psig, 10psig, 15psig, 20psig, and
25psig. for orifice calculations i am using orifice efficiency coefficients
of 0.7930 and 0.90. (which one is used depends on the inlet pressure.)

i would like some volunteers to review my math and the calculations
before i release it for use. i do need to write up some notes on the
math and calculations for the reviewers.

i still need to write up instructions for using it and clean up the
spreadsheet somewhat, but lord willing it should be ready by next week

the spreadsheet is written using openoffice calc.
i have exported it as an excel spreadsheet successfully.
i would like a variety of spreadsheet programs to try the spreadsheet so
i am able to find any quirks.
i am also working on a separate spreadsheet to calculate the size of the
vaporizor needed to vaporize liquid propane to a btu/hr gas rate without
the vaporizor freezing up. this is for those who are looking at liquid
withdraw from a cylinder or tank. there are advantages to using liquid
withdraw as long as the necessary safety measures are followed to the
letter. besides the possible hazard of being frost bitten by the liquid
propane a liquid propane spill will expand to 270 times the volumn of
liquid spilled to vapor/gas volumn. propane is heavier than air so it
would flow across the ground looking for the lowest spot and possibly
reach a source of ignition.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 11/14/02 10:13:59 GMT

Tom Fish: to add to what our Guru said, hardness is a general indicator of abrasion resistance but not the only factor that controls it. Steel has carbon in it to make it hard. More carbon makes the steel harder up to about .6% carbon. Beyond that, the steel is not measurably harder but it does get more abrasion resistant. This is because the extra carbon forms carbides, sort of like little ball bearings embedded in the steel. The carbides are extremely hard, harder than the steel they are embedded in. They add significantly to the abrasion resistance. A "good" blade can be made from .6% carbon steel (like spring steel) It will get quite hard and hold a decent edge. It is easier to sharpen but will probably need sharpening a bit more often. A cutlery grade of steel, like 1095, has .95% carbon and will hold an edge longer because of the extra carbon content. A tool steel like D2 has up to 1.5% Carbon as well as chromium, molybenum and other alloys that also combine to make massive metal carbides. It will hold an edge better than the 1095 but is harder to sharpen. Thats a long way to get to the point. Files make pretty good knife blades.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/14/02 13:21:07 GMT

Forge Blowers, Fans and Bellows: A key aspect to forge fans is "head" or pressure. CFM in free air is one thing but forge fans also need pressure at that CFM. Bellows which are a positive displacement devices have significant head. Centrifugal fans (squirl cage, drum and wheel) blowers usualy but not always have suitable head. Flat turbine (axial or propeller) fans may deliver the volume but will choke on a deep fire or a dense coal fire.

Coal requires more pressure than charcoal and gas generaly takes less but still needs more head than a flat fan provides. Gas forges operate under slightly pressurized conditions in order to reach welding temperatures. Most gas forge manufactures under rate the maximum temperature to that of an open flame in air but in reality they run hotter when the door is closed and only the small vent is open. Even venturi type forges create a higher than atmospheric pressure in the enclosure.

To use a large diameter flat fan on a forge requires a long nozzel (funnel) to reduce the diameter of the pipe. This creates resistance on the fan which requires pressure head to overcome. Without the head the volume drops significantly.

Many people have used a variety of flat fans to fire forges. Any air supply works. But flat fans perform poorly in this application.

Flat fan = low head per given volume
Centrifugal fan = high head per given volume
Positive displacement = very high head per given volume

The 5 inch "muffin" fan in my PC makes considerable noise for the amount of air it moves. In fact if makes the same or more noise than the little squirl cage 130 CFM fan on my big gas forge. What makes vacuume cleaners noisy is the high RPM motors used to create a very high head (too much for a forge).

We could get into a long discussion of the physics but it would be a waste of time here. It immediately becomes very mathematical including all kinds of application and PV (pressure velocity) factors AND k factors which are all fudge factors based on empirical methods. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 14:14:17 GMT

Propane Forge Orrifices: Terry, it would be good to have specific data on these. However, it has already been done and published. You will find a small amount of this information on Ron Reil's forge page. But there have also been numerous articals with reprinted engineering charts in the Anvil's Ring and in Douglas Freund's book on gas forges.

The good Mr. Crackutus Anvilus sent me copies of much of this information from his collection and I have somewhere burried in a my stuff another collection of reprints on the same subject. . . somewhere. . .

I would advise comparing to the published data first. It may be right but it may not be. . However most of the stuff reproduced from old engineering manuals is based on the empirical methods I mentioned above on fans and has generaly reliable PV and k factors.

Probably the greatest variable in home built forges IS the orrifice. Not particularly in size but in condition and depth. I have seen many of these devices with burred external holes. This means there is a high probability of a bad burr or even a Miami style "hanging chad" over next to the interior end of the hole.

Commercial units generaly use screw in orrifices that have significant depth to the hole. AND the new method of building home built forges uses MIG tips as nozzels for the orifice. This negates the drilling of small holes and provides a smooth hole with a fairly good inlet transition (a heavy chamfer). There are limited sizes. The orifice hole depth is also about 1" which I believe has an effect on the volume of flow at a given pressure. Have you included length of the hole in your calculations?

Below is a picture of a burner I have been building and testing. The best thing about it is there is no drilliing of very small holes nor brazing of tips. AND it worked the first time.

Burner design by Jock Dempsey, photo (c) 2002 anvilfire.com

I want to write an article on burners and include a review of the T-Rex burner which works VERY well and is a good buy for what you get. However, testing is a tad tricky. There is a bunch of testing data on the Ron Reil page which I believe has a fault in logic. It bases BTU on volume of gas burned. . . I am not sure this is correct.

My initial testing of the T-Rex burner was flawed due to a little string of teflon tape which was caught in the orifice (a MIG tip). It resulted in flutter and the air mix having no apparent effect. Later the piece of teflon got caught in the orifice and started whistling. . an increase of the pressure cleared the obstruction with a POP and the burner started performing MUCH better. However, since that event I have not had time to do much testing.

My testing has also been flawed by errors in pressure measurements (a buggaboo throughout industry). The 0-50 PSI gauge on my propane regulator set reads 0 (zero) most of the time that I am operating the the burner above. It is probably more likely 3 to 5 PSI. After the needle hits the zero peg the pressure can be adjusted downward quite a bit. . . For accurate measurement at low pressure I will need to get a NEW low range gauge (0-10 or 0-15 PSI). Gauges accuracy are rated at a percentage of the maximum so the lower the range the more accurate the results. Any gauge used in testing should probably calibration tested.

To seup and test burners I want to use a "standard" forge. Simply a common platform that the burners are tested on. I have a very accurate temperature meter but it is limited to 2,000°F. I can bury the thermocouple in the refractory for heat up rates but I cannot use it for maximum temperature. Maybe I can use pottery kiln cones (checking available ranges now).

The propane cylinder would need to set on a fairly accurate scale so that fuel consumed by weight could be recorded. I have a platform scale suitable but it too needs repairs. . .

Variables to record, time, temperature, pressure, actual fuel consummed by weight, oxidation of samples. . . R&D is expensive and time consuming. I wish I could afford to do it full time. . . It is fun but my experiance is that when you THINK you are done testing the first time what you actually figure out as you analyze the data is HOW to perform the tests the second time. THEN you try to make the mathematics fit and often end up testing a third time.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 15:22:26 GMT

Spread sheets and File formats: I get rather rude about computer file formats. I do not use any Microsoft products that I absolutely do not have to. That means no MS-Word DOCS, no Excell, no Office suite and ABSOLUTELY no virus spreading Outlook Express. And please do not send me those grossly oversized BMP's. . . I can view them but they are 10 to 20 times larger than a JPG with the same information.

I currently use the Corel suite which includes Quatro Pro but before I send ANYONE a spread sheet I convert it to Lotus 123 1.a WKS format. This ancient format is imported perfectly into every spread sheet written. THUS it is the defacto standard spreadsheet. I also have an ancient DOS copy of TWIN (a Lotus clone) that I still use.

The fact is, the old DOS Lotus 123 1.a had all the mathematical functions anyone would ever need. It supported complicated macros had title locking and WAS the standard for keystroke commands for many years. The actual Lotus Corp product's copy protection was a pain and it resulted in the many clones products being preferred. NO, it doesn't support fonts or pretty graphics. It does the one thing it is supposed to do VERY well. It stores data in tables and performs caulculations based on the table cells.

There are few file formats that universaly WORK. 123-1a.WKS is one. AutoCAD's DXF is close but it is supported better by third parties than by the originator. DXF files from any product other than AutoCAD are generaly interchangable.

For wordprocessing I use Corel WordIMperfect. But I NEVER expect anyone else to be able to use files I produce. All late Windirt wordprocessors are dependent on the LOCAL font collection (as well as platform and version #). I have fonts I've moved from my old WP5.1 on my system that I am SURE nobody else has. . .

In text files there is only ONE standard. Plain ASCII text. It is what all programming languages use as well as HTML. All other formats are propriatary brand, platform and version specific. Microsoft attempted to create a standard low level format with their "Rich Text" but there are too many versions and the resulting output is unpredictable. HTML which includes blocks of text as plain ASCII text is the next nearest thing to a global standard as long a you don't use user platform specific fonts.

AND THEN. . . there is the idiotic use of colors, fonts, embeded HTML and BACKGROUNDS! in e-mail. . . My mail program does not support most of it but the attachements come anyway and fill up my attachemnets directory.

Do you folks realize that when you set a background in your OE it sends EVERYONE that stupid background GIF? And then there are those stupid little ID cards also sent as attachments. When both of these come in every copy is numbered as a NEW attachemnt and I end up with hundreds of stupid little files to clean up. . . And I and many others never see the results of those stupid MS-OE specific files clogging our computers. . .

AND when you set any font, color or decoration in your e-mail, when I go to respond, most of your text is missing because my system does not support your decorations. . . Please keep your e-mail clean plain text.

Yep, I'm a stubborn, opinionated, Microsoft hating old so and so. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 16:26:19 GMT

Cones Well. . . pottery cones get me up to 2400°F. But they are designed for heating RATE more than specific temperature. Heating rate may be a good measurement or comparison in a gas forge.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 16:32:44 GMT

What is the temperature needed to melt metal
   Jack - Thursday, 11/14/02 17:12:17 GMT

Jock, basing burner BTU output only on volume of gas burned IS NOT correct as you suspect. Excess air above what is required to burn the gas (stoichiometric ratio) reduces heat output from the burner and heat input to the forge. Excess air also makes things noisier and you have more dragons breath. If there is excess air, the flame must heat up all of that nitrogen in the air. That is energy NOT going to heating up the work since the nitrogen carries energy with it out the exhaust. Using pure oxygen gives higher burner output for a given gas volume. Don’t have to heat up the nitrogen and all the other stuff in air that does not help the gas to burn.

Other variables that affect BTU output of the flame include the effectiveness of the mixing of the gas and air. If there are gas molecules without oxygen molecules near them, the flame can go out or be less efficient. Mixing is an important aspect of burners. Note that *some* excess air is usually required due to incomplete mixing in the burner. Better mixing means less excess air required. A burner is nothing more than a fuel and oxidizer mixer and a flame holder. BUT, a given burner will only work WELL in a range of applications. There is no such thing as a best forge burner for all smithing applications

There are a whole pile of other variables that affect the forges ability to heat up the work.

Burner manufacturers have large budgets, labs and personnel for burner development. There will never be enough time for you to answer the question of “which burner is best for my work in *x* home made forge?”. Because for a door opening change and different stock size, or different desired heat up time, insulation value, and many other variables, the “best” burner will change. Kind of like tilting at windmills in my opinion.

It was enough work to make burner changes to industrial equipment with the help of computer programs and burner manufacturers and get the desired results.

Any burner testing should also include air flow along with gas flow. Air flow can be measured with an orifice plate and manometer. But is difficult for an atmospheric burner.

Here’s another opinion... Teflon tape should be outlawed. It has caused many problems in just about any fluid system. And it allows badly threaded fittings to propagate. If we didn’t have teflon tape to seal bad fittings, the bad fittings wouldn’t be bought. Even if "properly" applied, staying back 2 threads, etc., the teflon tape still extrudes into the fluid space. Nasty, evil stuff. Made necessary by people willing to sell poor fittings.

Solitary confinement for those selling bad product!!

Oops, got a little carried away there.... grin
   - Tony - Thursday, 11/14/02 17:12:51 GMT

Jack, the melting point of mercury is -38.836 degrees Celcius. The melting point of tungsten is 3422 degrees celcius. Every thing else is between those two. Do you have any particular metal in mind? There are roughly 50 metallic elements on the periodic chart to choose from. If you add in commercial alloys, the number jumps to about 25,000. Pick one.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/14/02 17:50:48 GMT

A welding Question

Last night I was trying to weld 2 4" plates together, one on top of the other. They are the same size, so I cut the corners and edges from one, giving me about 1.25 inches of weld penetration. To start with, I tacked the pieces togther and then put a bead all the way around. Next I put many passes on one side. When I looked at the other side, the inital weld had cracked away from the base metal, and the plates were no longer square with each other. The plates are of an unknown alloy and the rod I was using was E7014. I did not preheat the plates or clamp them with anything. What can I do to prevent this cracking? Should, I change rod, clamp the plates, or preheat them? Patrick

   - Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 11/14/02 17:52:56 GMT

Hey there : just a quick Q'. I've been getting a Illegal pop up saying I have performed a illegal operation when I click on your ask the guru or even on the word guru under the words news on the home page. And I was wondering if it was just my cpu or have others had the problem . Or maybe i'm just losen it . Or maybe it could be something thought I'd let you know. Thanks and keep up the good work.
   Carl - Thursday, 11/14/02 17:53:49 GMT

Carl, I just tested all the home page links. . Everything is OK. However, it is not unusual to get an interuption in loading a page that is cached and then errors persist.

When things get tweaky it is time to clear your cache. In Windows going to disk properties and disk cleanup of temporary internet files helps. Using Netscape you need to either find the cache with the browser closed and delete the cache contents OR do it from the browser. It doesn't hurt to erase all the cookies once in a while too.

It is unbelievable the amount of junk kept on your computer from internet sessions. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 18:53:47 GMT

Cracked Welds: Patrick, I am no expert on this but there are lots of causes. First, welding heavy plate creates unbelievable stresses. Welds shrink a tremondous amount when they solidify and heavy plate resists. Light material just gives to the weld. When you weld ONE side of a part the shrinkage tries to open the joint on the other side UNLESS there is sufficient penetration that the majority of the weld CLOSES the joint. A typical low penetration surface bead causes the joint to try to open. If the joint is held closed then the weld often cracks.

Clamps, no matter how big, end up sprung out of shape when apposing this force. Ever see HD welding clamps? I have a couple 12" clamps that weigh about 60 pounds each. . .

Welding cold heavy metal with an undersized welder leaves the metal around the weld cold enough that the weld is effectively quenched and hardened making it very brittle and thus prone to cracking. Preheating reduces this as well as shrinkage stress.

Although welding rod is relatively low carbon it picks up carbon and alloying ingrediants from the base metal and this can greatly increase the brittleness that supports cracking.

Welding a heavy bead on one side of a part can create enough stress to break a small bead or tack weld on the other side if the part. I usualy start with light tacks, then work around the part with heavier tacks. Then I will run a bead on one side and then quickly run the same size bead on the other. Generaly when using rods on heavy work I change sides between rods.

If the piece is a heavy block then I would preheat if the tacking process did not warm it significantly. On heavy weldments of certain shapes it is common to stress relieve the part by heating it to a red heat after welding. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 19:15:23 GMT

Teflon Tape Tony, I have mixed feelings about the stuff. It is GREAT on things that need to be disassembled at a later date. I agree on the stuff getting loose in systems. But I still use it.

Burner Testing: What I wanted to do was sided by side same platform testing of common home-built type designs and compare to a similar commercial unit. Primarily I was looking for heatup times and max temperature. I know that quantifying exact BTU is out of the picture. But starting at a known temperature with a cold forge of a given mass I was going to test the time it took to get the mass of the forge up to temperature.

But trying to get completely equal conditions is darn near impossible. I DO want to try a helical mixer in my burner.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 19:22:44 GMT


i have reviewed many published propane tables and charts and from my experience
and from talking with propane plant managers and the safety director of several
national propane service companies the concensus is that most are wrong or make
some very bad assumptions.

i have seen the chart in the lp handbook published by rego, and have spoken with
rego concerning the chart. no one there knows where the chart originally came from
nor do they know the assumptions made to create the chart.


yet other example of the poor quality of propane orifice charts is:

Orifice Chart: for High Pressure Propane

concerning the btu calculator on ron reil's web site. it is just plain wrong.

terry l. ridder >
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 11/14/02 19:48:08 GMT

Terry, I ran into the same problem verifying data on SIMPLE things like the density of materials. Years ago most references listed the people that did the relevant testing. But over time who and when where left out of the references. AND almost every major reference refers to others that OFTEN point back to the original referer (circular references). The worst is if you look in the big CRC handbook. Most of the elements used to refer to the International Society of the Periodic table in Paris. Hoever, NOW if you try to track down "Le Society International de Periodic. . ." it is located in Boco-Raton Florida. . . In the CRC offices. . .

I've spent a lot of time on these kinds of things and it is absolutely maddening. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 19:59:35 GMT

Jock, Loctite makes some great anaerobic teflon pipe dopes (see loctite.com) that set medium strength and can be taken apart easily later. #564 and 565. They also make a 545 permanent sealer that cures many bad threading ills and stands up to high pressures. We use them all the time and like them a lot. Most of my opinions on tape come from liquid systems. I will admit that I do have some teflon tape and you might find some on air lines around me. Oooooooo that’s hard to admit! Grin! I even buy better brass fittings and still get bad threads! Yuck.

I’m convincing the metal cutters here to do thread milling to produce the pipe threads we make. We only do dryseal threads. NPTF as opposed to standard pipe threads that are NPT and REQUIRE sealant.

A helical mixer is good. Anything to create turbulence without much pressure drop. Just a circular flat disc on a threaded post outside the air inlet to the burner sets up some turbulence in the air as it goes into the reducer fitting. That turbulence going past the gas nozzle or orifice helps the mixing. The disc on the threaded rod also allows you to play with the amount of air going into the burner and can get you a MUCH higher “turndown ratio” if you adjust it along with the gas pressure at the orifice. Instead of just one, multiple smaller gas orifices can work well also. More work to make though.

There are SO many variables that affect the BTU rating of a burner or orifice, I wouldn’t expect any chart to be better than plus or minus 15%. The only real way to know the BTU output is to measure the air and gas flow and temperature for a given situation and do the calculation. One burner in a forge will affect the other! Even placement of the work in a forge will affect an atmospheric burner.

Theory Overkill for a smith forge IMO. Make it, expect to play with it, and learn and have fun as you go. Just an opinion.

Comparative heat up time in a given forge, for different burners would be useful information. What I meant to say was that going beyond that is difficult.

Onward and over..... Grin
   - Tony - Thursday, 11/14/02 20:59:02 GMT


tony, basically what you are saying is that everyone has to reinvent the 'wheel' and is unable to take input from anyone
else since there are so many variables. i do not agree with

the reason for creating the spreadsheet in the first place
was in response to the number of questions i receive concerning propane cylinder freeze ups and what they could
do to avoid them. if i reply to get a bigger cylinder there
are generally reasons ( which they did not state in the original e-mail ) as to why they will not go to a larger cylinder. they could if they wanted to but they will not.
i have had a few people visit me and when they look at my propane piping system they simple state that for them that is 'to much' work. i do not have freeze ups.

when working with or around propane, hot metal, welding cylinders, etc ignorance is not bliss. ignorance will lead to accidents which could have been avoided.

safety first.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 11/14/02 21:22:23 GMT

No, Terry, that's NOT what I'm saying. My comments were not in response to your discussion at all. I am not criticizing your potential spreadsheet at all. I take your spreadsheet to be discussing maximum potential BTU flow on the gas side only. No discussion about air side. That would be good information. Did I have that wrong?

What I WILL say is that any ATMOSPHERIC BURNER BTU OUTPUT spreadsheet you create will not be correct for all situations. No one's will. But I'll buy you a few cases of beer if you succeed in proving me wrong. I'll even hang around to pop the tops off as you drink them.

Please DO NOT put words in my mouth! Ask for clarification all you want, but don't add words to what I type! Jeez, that irks me!

Do you require any more clarification?
   - Tony - Thursday, 11/14/02 21:44:22 GMT


one way to overcome inefficient burner operation is to build
a recuperative burner. preheat the incoming combustion air
with the hot exhaust gases from the gas forge. this was difficult
to do with the original reil burner design. with the sidearm burner
design building a recuperative gas forge and burner is easier.

also, i have seen numerous gas forges which were poorly designed
from the beginning. the exhaust port must at least equal the area
of the burner ports. if it does not the forge will have backpressure
which will affect the burners and overall forge operation.

what is needed in the gas forge area is a 'clam shell' forge. currently,
my propane gas forge is limited as to the size of work i am able to consider.
after that i must use an oxy-propane torch.

i have not had the time to experiment with a 'clam shell' design.
i have seen an interesting gas forge design which uses ceramic chips which
are suppose to act as coke. the burners are underneath the 'firepot'.
the person using it was pleased with the overall operation and was able
to achieve welding temperatures easily.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 11/14/02 21:50:40 GMT

one other thing that has a lot to do with edge retenchen/ cutting abilty, sharpness (note that cutting and sharpness don't allways equal, as with alloys like stalinate(sp?))and ease of sharpining is grain size. the larger the grain size the harder it is to gain a fine edge. some steels have a smaller grain than others (lots of reasions and Quenchcrack is the better one to tell the why of it)
for most knife steels the finer the grain the better the knife will proform and in my experance this has little affect on the defaculty of sharpining when compaired to a knife of equal hardness and materail with a larger grain, thou it can be harder (or inposable if you realy messed up) to get the knife as sharp as with a fine grain.
   MP - Thursday, 11/14/02 22:25:47 GMT

2 Questions here for Mr. Guru and all experienced 'smiths....
#1.What is the best type of steel to make a rounding and peen hammer head out of?
#2.Is it better to forge the head or is machining ok? If forging - why?
   Ranth - Thursday, 11/14/02 23:28:51 GMT

One more please ... Besides painting what can be used to "coat" steel to prevent or retard rust?
Thanks !!!
ps. Thank you for iForge.
   Ranth - Thursday, 11/14/02 23:35:10 GMT


tony, i do not drink beer or any other alcoholic beverage.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 11/14/02 23:38:47 GMT

Thomas Powers: You mentioned a book "The Axmakers Gift"! Wher can I find it?? Amazon.com dosen't list it, and it's not in the book reviews. any suggestions
   Heff - Thursday, 11/14/02 23:41:22 GMT

Thomas Powers: You mentioned a book "The Axmakers Gift"! Wher can I find it?? Amazon.com dosen't list it, and it's not in the book reviews. any suggestions
   Heff - Thursday, 11/14/02 23:41:22 GMT

My experiance with knife steel is that plain carbon steels seem to sharpen easier and cut better. There are some very good stainlesses but the blades on the Buck knives I have had were NOT it. Difficult to sharpen and very short edge life. So mine just stay dull. .

Terry, What Tony said is that the theoretical flow calcs will be just that, theoretical. I have built flow meters for a living and spent thousands of hours testing them and building testers to test the meters and software to analyze the data. Every meter could be made to fit the theoretical curve but every one had to have an individual k factor to adjust it to the theoretical. And THIS was with identical equipment. On one meter design the variation from theoretical was a sine wave that ran on both sides of the meters square log curve (draw a pretty curve, draw squiggles on the curve within range of k factor). It was not in any of the books. Nobody understood why it worked but it was highly predictable and it WORKED. My experiance with forges and forge burners is that they are more complex than the simple mass flow meters we were building.

Have you taken into consideration the temperature viscosity ratio effect on flow through a pipe?

If you want to solve the "why it freezes up" question then that has NOTHING to do with orifice size. Some folks run forges at 4 PSI and others at 15 PSI. I run my big forge at 25 PSI (because the solenoid valve has too small an orifice). . . On the low pressure end the error of most used gauges is greater than the amount of the reading so there is NO WAY to determine what the actual flow is. . . Other than weighing the fuel and recording exactly how much is used over a given time period (see description of my test setup).

The freeze-up problem is a simple ratio between forge volume, efficiency and fuel mass and its heat sink area (there also has to be an ambient temperature factor). The heat sink area can be calculated geometricaly given the OD of any propane bottle. However, it changes as the fuel is consumed.

If you don't have enough pounds of fuel for the rate of draw needed for so many BTU then its going to freeze.

Other things that effect forge burner efficiency are ambient temperature, humidity and altitude. But I have found that spiders and mud daubers are the biggest variables. . .

Recupretive forges ARE better but they add a complicated mess of sheet metal much of which must be stainless steel. I've drawn thousands looking for a clean simple design. The simplest was a recupretive chip forge.

There is a fellow in Britian that has a patent on a propane torch/burner that superheats the fuel breaking it down into constituant parts resulting in much higher flame temperatures than normaly gotten with propane. . . The problem is the delay after turning off the fuel until the flame goes out. Fuel in the heater must be used. The same problem exists in evaporators.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 23:42:44 GMT

Rounding Hammer Best Steel: There are only a couple thousand tool steels most of which would work well. Lots of smiths prefer S-7 because it is relatively easy to heat treat and makes good hot work tools. A hammer is not a hot work tool but if you have the bar of steel then you use it. . .

To forge or machine? That is a production/cost manufacturing question. It is far easier for the smith to do as much shaping as possible with a hammer. Tool faces that often look machined are just cleaned up on a grinder.

The Axemaker's Gift by Burke, James. Check that spelling when doing a computer search. There were numerous copies on bookfinder.com.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/14/02 23:55:39 GMT


Thanks for the advice on the epoxy. I heard from a friend that epoxy wouldn't work below 50 degrees. Just wanted to check with the experts.
Thanks again.
   Chris Bernard - Friday, 11/15/02 00:03:18 GMT

I see alot of question concerning pipe and round tube bending by filling them with dry sand. How 'bout bending 1" or 11/2" sq. tubing to a mild 30 deg. bend or a more drastic 90 deg.
considering I'm working with 16 ga. mild steel.
   Rog - Friday, 11/15/02 00:33:44 GMT

Epoxy: If it doesn't work below 50°F then there were a whole lot of miracles when I was using the stuff in an unheated shop in mid winter. . . The package will usualy say do not use below. . but it just takes longer.

Pipe Bending Rog, the angle of the bend is meaningless, its the radius of the bend proportional to the diameter of the pipe.

The thicker the pipe wall the tighter it can be bent. Thin wall tubing collapses when bent. The thinner the wall the more critical the support of the tube while bending.

The temper of the material is important. Some tubing is cold formed and is work hardened. It tends to split when bent. This is common in thin wall tube.

The difference between soft bendable copper tube and rigid copper pipe is the flexible tube is annealed AND it has a thicker wall.

Machinery's Handbook and many structural steel books have
charts of minimum recommended bending radi for some pipe and tube sizes.
   - guru - Friday, 11/15/02 02:12:16 GMT

I have a job that requires that I etch 1/4" plate with graphic images that are ~1/8" deep. I imagined I could paint the graphic on with a resist and then etch in an acid bath. I experimented with the graphic painted on with lacquer(nail polish) and immersed in muriatic acid. I was successful in getting a slight amount of bite into the metal. I assume this will then work if I were to leave it in the bath longer. However, my question is , is there a faster more efficient method. I have to do 24 pieces 8" square.

Thank you so much for your help

Steven Bronstein
Blackthorne Forge
Marshfield, VT
   scbron - Friday, 11/15/02 03:16:53 GMT

Is there want ads section embedded in this web page somewhere? The auction action is way out of date. Do people buy and sell without the frenzy of Ebay?? I need a good blower for a reasonable price. Can anybody help?
   Wendy - Friday, 11/15/02 03:45:05 GMT


You've posted your want ad already. This is the place. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/15/02 04:00:07 GMT


scbron: 1/8" is very deep for acid etching metal. The amount of time that that deep an etch requires results in heating of the metal at the margins of the resist, degrading the resist and often resulting in a rough edge or completely lifted resist. Another factor is the gases liberated during the etching, which also tend to degrade the edges of the resist. Continuous agitation of the mordant solution by means of a magnetic stirrer or continuous-flow circulating pump minimizes this, but doesn't eliminate it.

The depth you can achieve without degrading the resist will be governed by several factors: the strength of the mordant, the durability of the resist, the surface preparation of the substrate, agitation of the solution, and mostly by the metal you are using. Printers who do deep embossing routinely etch >1/16" deep, but they use zinc or zinc/aluminum alloy plates designed for deep etching, and they avoid teeny tiny detail that won't hold up to a deep etch. Nail polish isn't a very good or durable resist, by the way. For prolonged etch times, an asphaltum based resist applied to metal fresh from the beadblaster and slow-dried will give much better durability. Muriatic acid is a relatively mild mordant, about half the strength usually used for steel and iron. For general etching on steel, a 67% solution of HCl is commonly used. For other metals, other mordants are more effective. You didn't state what metal you wanted to etch, so I can't be more specific.

For small runs of steel that need deep etching, I would look into EDM. Elecrrical Discharge Machining involves making a "master" from graphite or other conductive material and then using a the master as one pole of an anode/cathode circuit submerged in an electrolyte bath to machine away the metal with electric current. Most major cities have someone who does EDM work. Talk to them.

Another method to consider would be open die stamping. One of the real engineers, like Jock or Tony, can probably give you a better estimate of the size stamping press it would take to do what you want than I can.
   vicopper - Friday, 11/15/02 04:58:11 GMT

Steve: A nitric solution will eat the heck out of it. Much stronger than muriatic. Keep some soda handy for spills and such. Don't forget to stir the bubbles. Cleaner etch. Get on line and find an art printers supply. Look for a hard ground I think its called. You heat the metal and rub it on. It will allow you to handle the plate. Soft rubs off real easy. Some printers use both on the same

Try this place---http://www.printmaking-materials.com/newintaglio.html#anchor346989

Try hard asphaltum block. They also have etching trays. I don't buy there, just the first name that came up with lots of choices. Have fun.
   - Pete-Raven - Friday, 11/15/02 05:07:33 GMT

Etching. . 1/8" deep? VI is right, etching is the wrong process. EDM is possible but would be expensive on that many pieces and that much area.

If you must have sharp cut edges on the raised surface you might consider having the pattern cut out of 1/8" plate via LASER then oven brazing the cut out plate to a base plate. You would need to produce a CAD graphic to control the machine. In aluminium you could have the pattern engraved but it would be difficult to get someone to go that deep.
An NC mill using engraving software could do the job handily. There would be a minimum line width problem depending on the shape of the graphic. Usualy miniumum line width would equal the cut depth.

The job sounds like you are trying to get around doing it by hand. Relief could be chisled out or hot forged then chased. OR the effect could be produced by raising thin plate and then backing it with a filler material like epoxy.
   - guru - Friday, 11/15/02 05:27:51 GMT

Tony;...yes and no.
Do you know many folks named trebuchet?
RE making things blow up when you don't know what you are doing.........well, we killed off most of our natural enemies and preditors..so in our early years we seem determined to take up those old Darwinian burdens and thin out the herd.
T Fish; As a rule of thumb, the higher the carbon level in steel, the less forgiving it is.
Terry R; Helmut Hillencamp has a half clamshell forge design that sets on a flat refactory floor and is efficient and versitile..he has made it in a number of variations.
John Fick has been working with refractory ball bed forges for some years now..real nice.
Tony; I'll volunteer to drink Terry's beer just to uphold his honor.
Chris, It may depend on the specific epoxy and how hot it is mixed, but I have mixed up big batches and put it in the freezer so I can use it a little at a time when needed..seems to wait till warm to set up. Be sure that you use epoxy that hasn't past it's expiration date.
   - Pete F - Friday, 11/15/02 05:40:47 GMT

Would you happen to know what the ratio of "investment" and water is used when making the slurry that is used in the "lost wax " process in the silversmithing profession?
   Bob Lewis - Friday, 11/15/02 06:22:51 GMT


bob, that entirely depends on the investment. i would recommend contacting the manufacturer/vendor.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Friday, 11/15/02 10:07:49 GMT

Pete F.! LOL! Good Friday morning chuckle. Thanks, that was good. Nope, no one I know named "trebuchet". I do know a guy named "Hurl". I'm gonna name my next dog "Treb". The current ones and "Smudge" and "Edgrrr". Black labs. Next time I see you, remind me about Terry's beer. I'll be happy to oblige. Even if I'm not proven wrong. Grin.

BTW, we might start working on a big crossbow this weekend. Need something to compete against the trebs. Use a 6 inch or so tree trunk as the bolt. Was that called a Ballista?

Chris, you are welcome. I've never used construction epoxy below 35 degrees myself. But warming things up like guru said would work fine. Keep it warm long enough.

Ceramic bed recuperative burners work well as long as the exhaust is clean. And it would be for a gas smithing forge. But when the exhaust is dirty, they plug up and are a royal PITA! One manufacturing engineer decided we would save gobs of energy money on a glass melter if we went with recuperative ceramic bed burners. The glass melters were high velocity and carried some glass batch powder out the exhaust. That powder went into the recuperator beds and made a nice plugged glassy mess. $200,000 down the drain. I put a jacket on the exhaust stack and made a heat exchanger out of it that we blew the combustion air through. Worked OK. Kept the room cooler for the workers too. Also had some oil fired enameling furnaces. Oil exhaust was too sooty and the recuperator beds had to be cleaned frequently. Ended up with shell and tube heat exchangers on those exhausts with a schedule to brush out the tubes to clean them like a chimney. Just points of information.
   - Tony - Friday, 11/15/02 13:56:41 GMT


Deep etching is very diffcult because once it etches down a little it starts etching in from the sides and undercutting - the metal starts getting eaten away from underneath!

I recently did a similar job, but I have an EDM machine.
   - grant - Friday, 11/15/02 15:51:46 GMT

Slurry Mix: The correct ratio is that which produces the consistancy YOU want (normaly a cream consistancy). But it will vary with the size of the mold and the ambient temperature. My past couple forays into plaster were disasters due to setting up too fast. More water helps but only a little. As Terry said the manufacturer or seller of the product may be able to guide you. ME, I just guess, adjust and go on with it. I cook that way too.

Epoxy: I have known folks to slow the set of epoxy paint by refrigerating it but industrial epoxies create their own heat and a LOT of it. Large quantities mixed in the can may set the label on fire (been there, done that). But the modern equal part epoxies have the hardener in an inert filler which reduces the strength, hardness and effectiveness of the hardener. When I first delt with epoxy (and polyester bondo) all the hardener came in a little bottle containing 100% hardener (a clear liquid, mostly methylethylketone peroxide). A couple drops to the ounce or resin. In fact, a couple drops could harden a quart if you could mix it fast enough. Trying to slow the reaction by reducing hardener had a point of dimishing returns. Stirring heated the mix and accelerated the reaction. However, with experiance and good guessing at proportions one could mix a 5 minute batch or a 20 minute batch.

If the epoxy anchoring compound itself is warm when mixed and is not chilled too much on application (surfaces warmed to touch) it WILL harden (if not a bad batch). Anchoring mixes are designed to go into rock and concrete that is often at subterianian temperatures fairly near the surface (52°F in temperate zones). Where it becomes a problem is trying to set too many posts at once on a hot day. Setup time is VERY fast and you can end up with holes full of hard epoxy and no post. . . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/15/02 17:32:00 GMT

Wendy, where do you live?
   mike-hr - Friday, 11/15/02 17:39:28 GMT

a Ballista is a realy big cross bow shaped thingy. the main change is that it used two rope tortion arms in place of a spring.
   MP - Friday, 11/15/02 18:09:39 GMT

Deep Etching: A slow but cheap (in initial investment) way would be to etch in stages the way old fashioned photoengravers did: Take a light etch on the original photo-resist, neutralize, heat hot enough to melt rosin, apply finely powdered rosin (they called it dragon's blood) with a roller, take another etch, neutralize, heat reapply the rosin resist, repeat 'till the image was cut deep enough.

The repeated re-application of resist was to prevent undercutting. That was also how they got those nice bevels on line cuts. I suspect getting a roller with the right amount of give is critical when setting up from scratch. This was with copper or zinc for base material.

The above is from an article in the 1936 Britannica Junior. I haven't tried it myself, though I have talked to folk in the printing industry who used to do engravings in essentially this way. . .
   John Lowther - Friday, 11/15/02 18:11:48 GMT

CASTING INVESTMENT: As was mentioned, the general guidelines for casting investment are to mix it to the consistency of heavy cream. Much thicker, and you wont get the bubbles to release from the model, and much thinner and the investment may become so dense that not enough air can pass through it during the casting phase. There is a good bit of latitude, but heavy cream consistency is correct for pourable investment. The ratio of investment to water however, varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and from batch to batch. Ambient humidity and temperature also affect the ratio.

The most important thng to keep in mind when mixing jewelry investment is that it should be mixed just like it was acid and water. Add the investment to the water, NOT the other way around. If you add the water to the invetment, you will inevitably wind up with lumps, inconsistent mix and very uneven and accelerated setting times. You are dealing with a hydraulic setting material that generates heat during the hydrating/setting process. When water is added to investment, the mix is invariably too "rich" at the start and that accelerates setting and creates problems. Always add the investment to the water.

It only takes a couple of tries at mixing investment to figure out the approximate ratio for the stuff you're using. I recall that enough water to about 1/3 fill the flask will be about the right amount for enough investment to do the job. Experiment a bit, using a small paper cup, to get the ration for YOUR investment.
   vicopper - Friday, 11/15/02 19:39:21 GMT

Hi! I am very frustrated with myself, and hope that you can help me. I have an idea to make and market an iron product, but I haven't the slightest idea where to begin. I have stetched the product, but now I need for it to be created. Do you know who I should contact? I live in Phoenix, AZ. Would you be able to point me in the right direction? Thanks, Cheri P.S. Forgive my ignorance.
   Cheri - Friday, 11/15/02 20:43:56 GMT

I am looking for a steel ball in the 6 inch to 8 inch range to make a stake with, any suggestions on suppliers?

Attempting to make an almost round shovel blade, and have it raised almost enough, but it is a little too lumpy.

Tim S
   - slattont - Friday, 11/15/02 23:36:46 GMT

Ball Stake: Slattont, I HAVE seen balls from giant ball bearings this size but have no clue where you would find one other than lots of scrounging at scrap yards and very good luck.

One the other hand, stakes of this type are normally not full size. They just represent a segment of the shape. The stake is not a mold, it is mearly a support surface to oppose your hammer. Your eye does the rest. The last spherical shape I worked was done on a ball MUCH smaller than the size of the work.

A 3" diameter piece shaped to a spherical surface on a shank should do the job. This could be cut from a large piece of shaft OR a piece of plate about 1" thick.

See our Armoury Page for articles on raising.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/16/02 00:05:34 GMT

Cheri, response coming by mail.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/16/02 00:06:09 GMT

TimS. Check with a silversmith's supply huose such as Dixon or the like for a large mushroom stake. www.findingking.com carries that sort of thing online.

If you have a forge, why not heat a disk of heavy plate (abut 3/4" thick) and sink it with a big sledge hammer and then grind the outside smooth? Weld a hardy stake on one edge of it so that it can hang off the edge of your anvil and you'll be able to work pretty deep shapes on it very easily. It doesn't need to be heat-treated, BTW.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/16/02 01:06:38 GMT

TimS. I should have noted that making the stake to hang off the edge of the anvil doesn't mean that it should hang completely off the edge. If you try to do that, you may exert too much force on the hardy hole and break the heel of the anvil. It only needs to hang over about 1/3 of the diameter to allow work to curve under it adequately. Sorry if I confused things there.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/16/02 01:10:25 GMT

Thank you all for the very helpful responses. I think I will rethink my concept and go with the suggestion of cutting out the design and plug welding to the surface of my plate. Much better idea.

Thanks a million

Steven Bronstein
   scbron - Saturday, 11/16/02 01:15:31 GMT

50# Little Giant for sale. Very good condition. In regular use until 5 years ago. Has been in storage since. Ready for a new home. Has a 3 phase 2 HP Motor, flat dies. $2500 OBI
   scbron - Saturday, 11/16/02 01:17:49 GMT

I live on the extreme north coast of California (near Eureka). Any help on that blower? Thanks
   Wendy - Saturday, 11/16/02 02:25:53 GMT

I am virtually just starting in blacksmithing, and have begun collecting tools, and a few questions:
1)What does Blacksmith-quality coal/charcoal usually run for, and how much would I need to start out (I am building a brake drum forge to get me started.)

2)What size (in pounds) anvil would I need? I want something that could do general things, but I'm also looking to eventually try my hand at bladesmithing.

I know I have a couple more... my I'm tired and I just can't think of them right now. Either way, I hope you can answer my question :)
   Gerg - Saturday, 11/16/02 04:02:18 GMT

My question is what is the temperature and guencing process to temper a 416 or 440 (not really sure) stainless steel knife blade. I have had success in the past with carbon steels but and I am just now getting into stainless. i really don't have any high tech equiptment other than a oxy-accedaline torch and hand tools so i'm pretty much doing it the hard way if there has already been a posting on this matter could you tell me where to find it? your help would be appreciated, T.D.
   Tracy D. - Saturday, 11/16/02 05:21:33 GMT

Hello Guru,
I'm a holster maker and would like to incorporate a spring steel retention system in one of my designs. Could you please give me some advice on what type of steel I need that can be bent into shape, and also the proper method of heating it so it retains this shape..?
Thanks very much,
   Mike - Saturday, 11/16/02 06:33:00 GMT

Hi, I'm designing a basic truss for an assignment. One of the materials we can use is steel. Since my truss is over water, I am curious if there is a treatment I should consider to prevent rust? I don't need specifics on the process or costs. This is just an intro class, and I'm not familiar with metal treatments. If you could give me a couple options, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks.
   Nalani - Saturday, 11/16/02 07:15:30 GMT

Vague memory that they tended to use tendons bound together as the spring on ballistas.
Wendy; The Calif Blacksmithing Assn and the local subchapter the Jefferson Smiths are real active up your way and are a great group of folks!! Wish I was closer so I could attend their hammerins and meets. They are the ones to get in touch with...
Greg; look at " getting started" here in Anvilfire...There is a whole education in blacksmithing tucked away in the nooks and crannies of this excellent website.
When you have seen enough of Anvilfire to know for sure how invaluable it is; you will want to Join the Anvilfire Cybersmiths And help support it!!!!
It is widely believed that those who don't join when they should loose critical hammer control inexplicably..beware!
   - Pete F - Saturday, 11/16/02 07:21:08 GMT

I'm located about 5 1/2 hours from you. I would like to talk more about the Little Giant you have for sale. Could you e-mail me with further contact info? Thanks!!!
   kdbarker - Saturday, 11/16/02 12:17:13 GMT

I'll try looking through anvilfire more then, I had thought I looked through it all, but I suppose you're right, I bet there's alot I'm missing. By the by, is there an article/demonstration that shows you how to make a touchmark? I was sure I one, but now I can't find it.
Thanks for your help.
   Gerg - Saturday, 11/16/02 12:54:09 GMT

Oh, found that demonstration.
   Gerg - Saturday, 11/16/02 13:51:52 GMT

Tracy D. Try http://www.suppliersonline/propertypages/416.asp
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/16/02 14:02:30 GMT

Knife material: I agree that fine grain size is important to making a quality knife but it has more influence on toughness than edge retention. Most modern steels used in tools, blades, etc, are treated with silicon or aluminum when they are melted. These elements combine with oxygen in the liquid steel and prevent porosity in the cast metal. They also prevent large grain size. A steel so treated is called "fully killed, fine grained".
Regarding the use of Martensitic Stainless steel for knives, this material is a high carbon steel with a lot of chromium for corrosion prevention and is fully hardenable. However, as the Guru observed the stuff is difficult to sharpen, does not hold an edge particularly well and is absolutely miserable to work with. Uniform heating and cooling is EXTREMELY critical to keeping the steel from warping, especially during grinding. The use of a cutting torch to heat it for forging presents formidable challenges to maintain uniform heating.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/16/02 14:20:17 GMT

Wendy, get ahold of Roy in Grants Pass. he put on a hammer in this summer, there were several blowers went unsold... his number is in back of cba news
   mike-hr - Saturday, 11/16/02 15:34:42 GMT

Dear guru:

I am inquiring on behalf of my son for any and all info regarding: custom pewter figure-making of characters for the Playstation II game Final Fantasy X. Do you know how a person could contact someone for customizing figures, etc.? Also, what would the cost be per figure? My son has pewter paints and would like to have the figures to paint. Please contact me at your earliest convenience, with any info on contacts, resources, prices, etc. Thank you.
   zaida.monnich - Saturday, 11/16/02 19:45:32 GMT

Guru and all,

I am proud to anounce that my registration and payment for an anual membership to Cyber Smiths International is in the mail. It sure feel good to support such a great resource and enviroment.
   Caleb Ramsby - Saturday, 11/16/02 19:51:49 GMT

We want to know how to design a NiO catalyst used in a endothermic gas generator to be used in the heat treatment of steels.
   Fernando Franco - Saturday, 11/16/02 20:33:35 GMT

FANTASY FIGURES- If you copy a design that is copyright protected, as those Playstation figures surely are, you will be courting trouble(pun intentional). You can make them yourself, for your own use, and probably not wind up on the wrong side of an infringement lawsuit, but... If you have someone else make them and pay him for that, then he is violating the copyright.

To make your own, get the plastic ones at the toy store and use the "lost wax" method of casting to render them in pewter or aluminum. Most plastics will burn out of the investment quite well, but be sure you have ample ventilation as the fumes can be toxic. There is a casting demo on iForge if you click on the navigate anvilfire button above.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/16/02 20:59:20 GMT

Caleb Ramsey- Welcome to CSI! It's always good to have new members. There really isn't any other resource for us quite like this, is there?
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/16/02 21:02:02 GMT

EMAIL- kdbarker, if you click on scbron's name under his post, it will link to his concealed email address. If the name is underlined, then there is an email address that is encoded to prevent the Nigerian (and other) spam harvesters from picking it up. No underline, no email. That's the way I've figured it out, anyway. If I'm wrong, the Guru will correct me.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/16/02 21:09:44 GMT

Thanks! I just sent an e-mail off.
I would have erlier but I was at work and short of time. I would love to add this hammer to my shop... and shake the squrrels out of the trees out back. OOPS! I did'nt mean to offend eny PATA umm... poeple that may see this.
   kdbarker - Saturday, 11/16/02 21:53:01 GMT

Boy, It must be raining everwhere. . . and everyone is inside on their PC. . .

Yep, VI has it right about the mail. However, we have had a few hardcore spammers work through and collect the names one at a time. I'm looking at setting it up system that only allows one email contact per session. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/16/02 22:23:51 GMT

Pewter Figures: Zaida, One off figures can be rather expensive since the work is in the carving the original pattern. Mark Parkinson of Canada does this type of work. I'll mail you his e-mail address.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/16/02 22:56:12 GMT

Bridge Trusses Nalani, Almost all bridge trusses are made of steel. In the past they were made of wrought iron but that is no longer made in bridge size quantities. Prior to that wood trusses were used. The first all metal bridge was made in England of cast iron but I do not think it was a truss.

Modern bridges rust. Paint is used to prevent rust. It is renewed often. If you have ever been on the golden gate bridge in San Fransisco, CA you will have seen painting crews. They never stop painting. They sandblast off the old paint and apply new. When they get to the end they go back and start all over again. . .

There is a steel called CorTEN that is rust resistant. It rusts until it has an even coating and then suposedly stops. However, every and all components must be CorTEN steel. The problem is where is come in contact with other substances (the pilings, the road bed). AND it creates rust stains on other things near it. The result is that many highway bridges and outdoor sculptures made of CorTEN are now being painted.

Stainless steel does not rust but it is ten times as expensive as plain carbon steel and labor to make anything of it is also higher (about 3x). It is also not as good a structural material as plain carbon steel so more is required. . .

Good exterior rust protection is a multi-coat process. See my article on Corrosion and its Prevention on our 21st Century page.

In truss design the mathematics are what is important. But that must be based on good logic and the capability to visualize complicated structures.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/16/02 23:14:10 GMT

Gerg, See our Getting Started article. The size of your hand hammer is more critical than anvil size. Fuel costs are largely a matter of transportation costs. You can easily spend more on shipping than on the fuel. Kayne and Son has fair prices. The amount you need depends on how long you work at the forge every day and how many days a week. . . Order a 50 pound bag of good coal to play with. Then you will have an idea about what GOOD coal is and how much you need.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/16/02 23:29:16 GMT

Stainless: Tracy, Heat treating stainless requires accurate temperature control and is generaly based on time held at temperature and is a different process than carbon steels. There are huge differences in alloys and unless you know what you have it will be very difficult.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/16/02 23:29:16 GMT

Holster Springs: Mike, there are a couple ways to make springs. One is to start with spring steel, shape it and heat treat it (see our Heat Treating FAQ). The other is to purchase stainless spring wire. This is a prehardened alloy steel designed to be bent into shape and used as-is. Generaly it is limited to round wire. It is TOUGH to bend but it avoids the heat treating. McMaster-Carr sells spring steel music wire, flat spring steel AND stainless spring steel on-line.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/16/02 23:29:16 GMT

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