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This is an archive of posts from November 24 - 30, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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What are the 5 different names for the files?
   Paul Sanders - Saturday, 11/23/02 19:21:49 GMT

Forge efficiency:

Over the years I've thought a LOT about ways to make my forges more efficient. My gas bill has been pretty stably over the last 25 years at 2% of my billing (this includes heating for shop and offices). Hard to get excited about cutting a few percentage points off of that. More money to be saved in other areas. In the end, I don't care much about thermal efficiency at all, I care about DOLLAR efficiency. I DO understand that hobby smiths may have a different view.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/23/02 19:27:35 GMT

Hmm, after posting the above, I checked it out and see I'm averaging closer to 1-1/2%. About 1/3 of that is heating so the forges account for only 1% of billings! How much time and money should I devote to saving MAYBE 10 - 20% of that? No, much better to spend the resorces elsewhere.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/23/02 20:59:28 GMT

Forge efficiency

Since I am just a hobby smith(but I do forge a lot) the factor of efficiency in the construction or the use is not my main concern(I am probaly in the minority). My main concern is enjoying what I do and I get the most enjoyment out of constructing and using things that I have contrived.

On the small test forge I will not be welding the tubes onto the hood, thus no end plates. They will just slip through a tight fitting hole and then be threaded into a elbow(foolish. . . you bet). I may need slather on some heat resistant clay around the pipes where they jut out of the hood to make a better seal. Because of the lack of end plates and many holes in the hood I will install stiffenrs. At home I do all of my blacksmithing outside(northern Illinois, read cold), so a few(?) leaks in the side of the hood where the tubes fit are not of great concern as long as the tube joints are tight enough to keep the exhaust from sneaking in.

The third main type of heat exchanger is the one that the Guru just described, a chamber to chamber radaition/convection unit. It is one I am also strongly considering. The main reason I am making a small forge is so that I can test the differences in the various systems before making the big forge. I will most likely make and test both the tube and chamber systems on the small forge.

Just for the small test forge I have decided to use thin walled high carbon steel instead of SS so the costs will be decreased(durability is not required). Which ever system I end up using in the big forge, I will be using stainless(remember it's outside). As the Guru pointed out, if I end up using the big forge for more than a few years then the stainless will pay for it self.

So far my experience with heat exchangers has consisted of devouring information about them from books and working on the designs for my small system. I am obvously not even close to being an expert in the field of heat exchangers. So it shall be a learning experience for me to confront the actual construction of these contrivences.
   Caleb Ramsby - Saturday, 11/23/02 22:13:51 GMT


I didn't really want to discourage you. Building things is half the fun. I'd suggest you use Neversieze on the pipe joints if you want any hope of getting them apart. At these low pressures a tiny leakage won't hurt a thing anyway. Actually the exhaust, being the lower pressure, won't "sneak in". Sounds like fun!
   - grant - Saturday, 11/23/02 22:32:20 GMT


I did not view your post or any others as a discouragement to my project:) Don't worry I am almost impossible to discourage. . . good or bad;}. I do understand that those of you that use blacksmithing to make a living simply can't afford to "waste" the time and resources persuing such fanciful/inefective projects.

I was thinking that the exhaust wouldn't be able to "push" it's way into the air intake, but I wasn't sure. The only thing that worry's me is that when the intake air is not under pressure the exhaust will get in and if it makes it's way into the fire pot via the pipes then it would suddenly combust or go boom.

Thanks for the advice to use the Neversieze, I believe that I shall.
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 11/24/02 00:29:56 GMT


From the 1941, "New Encyclopedia of Machine Shop Practice" by George W. Barnwell

The delegations for various tooth spacing are:

Rough 20 teeth per inch
Middle 25 teeth per inch
Bastard 30 teeth per inch
Second Cut 40 teeth per inch
Smooth 50 to 60 teeth per inch
Dead Smooth 100 or more teeth per inch

There are single-cut and double-cut teeth. On the single- cut files the teeth are cut parallel to each other across the file at an angle of 65 deg. to 85 deg. to the center line. Double-cut files have two sets of teeth, the over-cut teeth being cut at about 40 deg. to 45 deg. and the upcut dog. to 80 deg. to the center line.

If you hear refernce to a "safe side" they meen a side that doesn't have ANY teeth on it. A file with this atribute is mostly used to obtain a sharp inside corner, or to obstain from affecting something near the part of the piece you are filing.

Some of the various shapes of files are:

Flat, Hand, Square, Pillar, Round, Triangular, Half Round, Knife Edge.

Some other's are:

Barrette, Double Half Round, Oval, Cross Cut, Cotter, Diamond.

Then there are special file types:

Needle files for fine work. Rifflers with drasticaly curved tips to reach into tight spots, usualy in the insides of castings. Then there are the regular files that have been bent to fit into various places.

There have been files produced for practicaly every trade and unfortunatuly as the need for such a variety and abundance of quality hand work is dwindling so is the resource of specialized files.

I have read about the forging and cutting of files before and before I leave this earth I plan on undertaking such a process. Just so I will apreciate how important and indispensible a tool they realy are. This would most likely stop me from throwing them into a pile and breaking off all of their teeth too={
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 11/24/02 00:56:31 GMT

Making and Care of Files: Files are NOT cheap throw away tools. In some sizes shops DO go through them rapidly but a machinist or other craftsperson will have a drawer with dozens of sizes and cuts and maybe have a thousand dollars invested in files. The last time I restocked a few files I spent $300 on a bag full I could grip in one hand.

Making at least ONE file in one's lifetime would be a good intelectual excersize and probably give one a GREAT appreciation for factory made files. Well into the 1800's all files wer cut by hand. This was largely a cottage industry (slave wage homeworkers and child labor). But MILLIONS of files were made by hand and they date back to the bronze age.

Nicholson #39 and #40 patternmakers rasps cost about $50 each. They are unique in that they have teeth cut in curved groups that do not make a straight line like conventionaly rasps. They cut fast AND smooth and are worth the price. I clean and oil mine every time I use them. . . but they DO need replacing :(

Thee are also special coarse non-cloging files for aluminium. These are made coarser than typical files of the same size and have special line cuts that help release swarf.

I also bought a handfull of special rounded diamond key files back when I was locksmithing. These have the correct profile for hand making pin tumbler keys.

Files used for plastic, soft and non-ferrous metals should be kept seperate from those used on steel. Steel dulls files rapidly and makes them difficult to cut soft materials smoothly.

I save all my old files. Most get worn out in the middle or on the flat side. I have made numerous riffler style spoon files from the still sharp tang end of files. I heat them and bend them before cutting off the extra length. Bent with the curve out makes a nice hemispherical surface.

Old files can also be turned into scrapers, gravers and other small tools by careful grinding or stock removal.

Nicholson probably had the widest range of files of any U.S. manufaturer. However, when they were bought out by the Cooper group many styles were dropped. The mergers of 1980's were a sad time for variety in quality products.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/24/02 02:15:26 GMT


Suggest Caleb's comprehensive answer about files, with your notes added, be placed in the FAQ's.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/24/02 02:22:07 GMT

My thought exactly. . . Needs some illustrations from a public domain source.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/24/02 02:26:49 GMT

More file lore and poop. I like the information Caleb posted above. More good info on files can be found in Machinery's Handbook and in Metalwork Technology and Practice. I think files are one of the most mistreated and misunderstood of shop tools. My old mentor, Victor Vera, said that his dad and uncle would not let him touch the file teeth with his fingers. They told him it would "ruin the file". I suppose this had to do with acids and/or grease on the hands. He also said that if the files got dull, they put them outside until they were a little rusty, and that sharpened them. This was in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, about 1900. There was no file sharpening service at that time.
Some will argue that rubbing chalk dust, soapstone, or "talc" onto the teeth will not prevent some of the pins from sticking. But, I feel that it helps. Beginners will also look at a [wire brush] file card, and since the teeth duck back toward the handle, they want to pull on the file card. Not so. You push a file card (in the direction of the teeth). If you pull, you wreck and undo all of those nicely shaped wires. Some cards have a brush also attached. They're handy. Stubborn pins can be removed with a sheet metal or a wire. Personally, I prefer a brass scratch awl-looking tool which I make from a brazing rod.
Ideally, files should be hung on a wooden rack, and files should have handles. And there is no reason to take a 2" stroke on a 12" file. And LIFT ON THE RETURN STROKE. Don't drag it backwards.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/24/02 02:40:02 GMT


Add Franks comments, too.

I carry my good files in a tool "roll" that my wife made for me from denim cloth. Each file has it's on pocket. I don't usually put handles on all the files, I put one in the roll and move it from file to file as necessary.

Franks comment about lifing on the return stroke applies to a hacksaw too, and for the same reason, to avoid dulling the set of the teeth.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/24/02 02:47:13 GMT

Forge efficiency: Ahh, to heck with efficiency. Lets go for POWER! Toss out that plain old air with it's useless nitrogen and use pure oxygen! Now we'll have some HEAT! And less dragons breathe and NOx too!

Side bonus.. if you have a hangover, just suck some of that rich oxygen.

Downside? Cost. And a lot easier to cut yourself in half with an errant oxygen/propane flame.

Maybe a litle more scaling with a hobby burner that doesn't mix well.....

And the flame might melt the ITC 100....

Details, details.

Big Grin!

One of the ways to get around the desire for a thin wall is to lower the air velocity through the exchanger. Make it a little bigger. Need low pressure drop through the heat exchanger for an atmospheric burner forge anyway. Low pressure drop needs lower velocity and not many bends.

On an atmospheric burner forge with a recuperator and no fans, the combustion air side can be lower pressure than the exhaust. So if there is a heat exchanger leak, the exhaust can go into the combustion air. All depends on how much draw there is in the exhaust.

I agree that at the current cost of propane, a recuperator doesn't pay.

Be careful how much heat you take out of coal forge natural draft exhaust. If it exhausts marginally now, taking heat out of the stack gasses will make it worse.

Aluminized is good up to 1200 F. The problem is the welded joints where the corrosion gets accelerated. Coating them with Aremco ceramacoat (I can't remember the number)and then top coating with aluminum paint works well. GM did aluminized exhaust too.

Want your carbon steel heat exchanger to never corrode? Use a suppressed current cathodic protection system. Noooo, it's not worth it. Grin!
   - Tony - Sunday, 11/24/02 03:00:30 GMT

Stainless steel exchangers: Look for food service throwaways. There are many warming boxes, etc. made of thin 300 series ss that can be had for the hauling. Check with restaurant supply houses as they sometimes have to haul the junk equipment out. Scrap is not free, it costs you time. Around heat exchanger companies scrap ss tube drop is often available. I've gotten a bunch of 1" 304 16 ga tubes 22" long as drop off.

Making files: An interesting article in Fine Woodworking several years back described a visiting Japenese woodworker being provided with a file to sharpen his tools. He promptly ground the teeth off, annealed it, chiseled new teeth to his liking, and re-heat treated it. Just a craftsman able to make what he wanted.

Steel crucible: A welding pipe cap makes a very nice crucible. They are very inexpensive in the 3" to 6" range and just need a handle.

Caleb: If your forge is outside I would not worry too much about recycling small amounts of flue gas. The CO and Nxx problems come from buildup in an enclosed area. I suppose a good welding fire in a coal forge makes a lot of CO anyway. The lack of oxygen that protects the hot iron also promotes CO formation. I would worry more about losing all your recovered heat on the way to the fire.
   Andy Martin - Sunday, 11/24/02 03:32:12 GMT

Try http://www.saber.net/~jere/rose.html
Jere is a good guy and carries that sort of stuff.
RE recuperative forge design; Why couldnt one use a triple wall pipe stack and suck the incoming air from the middle pipe space? As Tony says, there may be a problem with the stack drawing if it gets too cold.
Files; I recently took all my partly dull files, scrubbed them with detergent and tossed them in some buckets with an acid solution ( pretty dilute) After a couple of days, most of them were considerably sharper..We've all read formulas about the proper acids, but I was loose about it, using a phosporic acid-cleaner product and when it stopped cutting I added some muriatic..As the man said, files are expensive (and I'm cheap)
A last word on file basics..save one or 2 old ones for testing hardness and unknown steels as well as general abuse. When you hear a zipping sort of sound and the file scates over the surface without cutting....STOP and turn the file over. If you see a shiny line where the file scated, then that line of deeth are dulled and the material you are trying to file is harder than the file.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 11/24/02 07:33:52 GMT

A note about "stainless steel" for recuperators. Most auto exhausts are Ferritic (409) stainless. 409 seems to do well at exhaust temperatures and is less expensive than the Austenitics (300 series) because it has no nickel in it. Remember that stainless gets its corrosion resistance by maintaining a layer of chromium oxide on the surface. Put it into a reducing atmosphere or one that is very low in Oxygen, and corrosion resistance suffers. I think Grant hit the nail on the head. The cost of fuel is minimal for a gas forge. If you want to save $$$ turn the pressure down a bit. If you don't need welding heat, don't run your forge so hot. Just buying a bigger gas bottle would probably save more money than any heat exchanger could pay back. Of course, the challenge of buying a bigger bottle is considerably less interesting than building a recuperator.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/24/02 14:11:13 GMT

What tools do I use to cut out copper shapes for candleums and how do I get fine points, smooth edges? Where can I find "how to " information about working with copper?
   Paige Britton - Sunday, 11/24/02 14:55:28 GMT

Copper: Paige, This is one of the easiest metals to cut. Even relatively thick copper can be cut with heavy tin snips. It can also be cut with a hand saw. I have used a cheap frame saw with coarse teeth (about like a hack saw) to cut copper and brass sheet. Although sawing leaves a rough edge it is a consistant roughness that is easy to file off.

See our iForge demo #87 it has a section on using a jeweler's saw for piercing. A small frame saw or "jig" saw can be used the same was and they are much more common and less expensive. Sometimes you need to spring the frame open to create a little more tension so they work properly.

Our iForge demo #80 has some examples of the type of brass candle sticks and chandeliers I used to make.

Sources for methods of working with copper range from books on plumbing and sheet metal work to jewelery making. Much comes under general metal working.

If you do not have a high temperature torch copper parts can be soldered together using plumbing solder and a propane torch or even a large soldering iron. If you have a high temperature torch copper can be silver soldered or brazed.

If you do not have a torch then rivets are easy to use in copper. Rivets can be used as both a construction and a design element. See our iForge demos #83 and #84 on riveting.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/24/02 16:52:44 GMT

Paige- For cutting copper sheet up to 16 guage, regular tin snips will cut straight lines and gentle curves. Avoid the serrated aviation-typ snips as they leave a sawtoothed edge. For accurate cuts with little clean-up work required, I prefer a jeweler's saw. Blades for a jeweler's saw are available in many different cuts, down to blades as fine as a hair that can cut lines finer than you can draw with a very sharp pencil. You can also cut copper the old-fashioned way with a hammer and chisel. A selection of chisels with various shapes and sizes and a soft iron or steel cutting surface will allow you to cut a wide variety of shapes easily with some practice.

To clean-up the edges, use "smooth cut" machinist's files or #0 or #2 jeweler's files. They come in many shapes. Scroll up a few posts to see some very good discussion on this subject.

For final finishing of copper, use progressively finer grades of silicon carbide (wet-or-dry) sandpaper and buff with a muslin buff or felt pad and Tripoli for a shine.

Check online for tools at www.findingking.com or www.metalworks.com. Check out the discussions at www.ganoskin.com and www.artmetal.com.

Your local library or some of the online booksellers should have books on Coppersmithing. Books on jewelry making, silversmithing and goldsmithing wil also have techniques that apply. Most of the copper alloys are worked about the same that silver and gold are. I always recommend Metal Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht. It is very comprehensive.
   vicopper - Sunday, 11/24/02 17:03:05 GMT

Forge Efficiency: In the future saving 10-15% of your fuel costs may be more important than it is today and might possibly even be mandatory. But as Grant said it is small savings.

But there are other types of efficiency. My old brick gas forge took 45 minutes to an hour to get up to full heat. Light weight refractory forges take half of that. When time is money the saving is appreciable. The fuel efficiency for the time saved is 100% of cost. For farriers, hobbiests or others only needing the forge for a couple hours the savings from warm up time could be 50% increase in efficiency.

In Grant's shop he fires up the forge first thing in the morning and it runs all day. In the morning it may have residual heat from the previous day. In many small but busy shops the forge may only run a few hours a day. The warm up time becomes a much larger percentage of the efficiency.

Then there is the question of higher heats. Yes, you could do it by using pure oxygen. This IS a tad expensive and the possibility of melting the forge refractory is a definite factor. Burning or melting the steel is also a serious problem. But on the other hand, you could just SUPPLEMENT the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere a small amount and get significantly higher heats. But that bottled oxygen is still an expensive way to do it.

Small gas forges are often difficult to get a decent welding heat and a recuperative system may be benificial in that regard.

In coal forges a recupretive system may be the difference between using the coal at hand and more expensive coal shipped a long distance. So there might be a great advantage in this case.

But there is also an efficiency of construction and forge cost. No matter how you do it most recupretive systems are going to double the cost of a forge and far more than double its complexity. Putting the heat exchanger in the firepot is probably the most efficient design. It greatly shortens pipe lengths and the lower transport losses may make up for the inefficiency of the heat exchange. And as I mentioned earlier, it cools a part that needs to be cooled.

   - guru - Sunday, 11/24/02 17:26:39 GMT

More on Files

From 1948, "The Practical and Technical Encyclopedia" John A. Damm, M.E. and Charles H. Waugaman, M.E., M.A.

Generally, all rough files are of the single-cut type; all dead-smooth files are double-cut, the intervening grades being made in both varieties. In describing the length of a file, the tang, or tapered end for fitting into a handle, is not included.
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 11/24/02 20:34:14 GMT

The usage of files:

From 1941, "The New Encylopedia of Machine Shop Practice" by George W. Barnwell.

The method of holding the file and the correcr working height are important. The height of the vise should be such that with a bent arm the elbow is on the same level as the top of the vise. Very often a small platform or plank is used on the floor so that a shorter man may reach the correct height conveniently.

The feet should be placed well apart, left foot about 24 in. in advance of the right. The file may be held either with the handle in the right hand and the tip of the file on the left hand or vice versa. It is only nescessary to consider the former case, since the position of the hands will merely be reversed for the left-handed person. The posistion of the left hand on the tip of the file should be varied according to the type of work or file in use, but the grip of the right hand on the handle is always the same. The file handle rests in the palm of the hand, the thumb is along the top of the handle and the index-finger points along the side. This grip enables the file to be kept perfectly level while the weight is applied first to the left hand at the beginning of the stroke, then later at both hands equally in the middle of the stroke, and finally to the right hand at the end of the stroke.

The tip of the file should be gripped with the left hand where the tip of the file is under the palm of the hand and all the fingers are underneath. This is a powerful grip and one which enables the maximum weight to be applied. It is therefore used with a medium or long file on work which requires a large quantity of material to be removed quickle.

When using the smaller files, and when filing curved surfaces. It will be seen that the tip of the file is held be the thumb and index-finger.

In the third method the thumb and fingers are streched as far as possible and are pressed evenly against the file. This insures that the weight is more evenly distributed over the whole length of the file, so that there is a greater tendency for it to remain horizontal. The run of the file can be felt, and any unevenness in the work will be readily detected. Additionally, the hand is not in the way of the work and therefore the full length of the file can be used.

Beginners' Faults:

The fault with most beginners is that they allow the file to rock or seesaw, with the result that a convex surface is obtained. This can be avoided if care is taken to keep the body still and to make the arms pivot about the shoulders.

On narrow pieces of metal it is often found easier to keep a flat surface if the file is held diagonally to the work, filing forward and to the left in one continuous movement and then, after a few strokes, going forward and to the right.

Downward pressure should be applied only on the forward stroke, the file being drawn lightly backward without actually being lifted from the face of the work.

This is described because the teeth are designed to cut on the forward stroke only, and any pressure applied on the backward stroke serves to dull the teeth more quickly without serving any useful purpose.

Generally, when a particular job has been filed to size and shape it is finished by draw-filing. The file is held with the fingers on the edge away from the body and the two thumbs on the edge toward the body. The file is then drawn and pushed along the surface with an even pressure. A smooth file is used, and this makes comparatively few very fine cuts or scratches along the work, parallel to the longest edges. This gives a much better appearance than scratches running across the surface. The tendency for the beginner is to apply most of his effort when the file is in the middle of the long edge. In consequence, the surface becomes hollow. This fault must be guarded against by careful testing after draw-filing, and rectified, if necessary, by making a few more strokes at the ends.

Draw-filing produces a sharp wire edge on each edge of the surface being filed; this is easily removed by holding the file at an angle and running it lightly down each edge. In doing this the tip of the file (safe edge down) should be supported on the vise-jaws.

The work can be further finished by polishing with fine emery-cloth and oil. A surface treated in this way will withstand rust better.

If files have been carelessly used they may be renovated to a certain extent by boiling them in a strong solution of soda and water for a few minutes; this removes the grease and dust, and after a good scrub with a file card or a wire brush the file should be dipped in kerosene to prevent rusting.
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 11/24/02 21:19:46 GMT

Added Handle:

From the 1950 "Practical Ideas for Machinists" by H. E. Linsley.

Extra Handle Aids in Filing:

For heavy filing jobs an extra handle can be made which grips the sides of the tip of the file, yet gives freedom of movement in any direction. Two jaws are fastened to a stud at the center and supported by a channel-shaped bridge through which the stud passes. A handle is tapped to screw on the stud.

Fastening the handle on the tip of the file is done be placing the jaws over the sides and screwing the grip until solid. Changing from side to side of the file or from one file to another necessitates loosening and tightening the grip.

With this type of handle, the fingers and hand are always clear of the cutting surface and plenty of pressure can be applied to take good clean strokes for removing metal. More work can be done with less effort and better control.
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 11/24/02 21:28:44 GMT


Could you make a handle like you describe, or send me a picture of one so I could make one to include in the FAQ?
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/24/02 21:31:55 GMT

Forge Recuperation: I dont know where you guys live but I am paying $8 - $9 to fill a 20lb tank which lasts about a day. Over a year this easily racks up to more than $1000. Mebbe for those of you charging $100/hr for labor this is loose change but for a small operation running in a garage this is a significant fraction of my annual budget.

It is my unscientific opinion that recuperation is saving me almost 50% on my gas cost.

My forge recoups heat by routing the hot exhaust over the the outside of the refractory shell. There is a 2" air gap between the shell and the outer layer of insulation. It also preheats the air/propane mix since the burner passes through this cavity. I found I was getting way too much preheat and had to wrap the burner tube with kaowool to stop pre ignition.

Even with this simple design - no tubes or heat exchanger- the forge was about 5x (again unscientific estimate) as much trouble as a plain design.

BTW I used JP Green's Pyramid Super Air Set refractory for the inner shell. Very easy to use. Rated 3000F and seems to be invulnerable to flux. I find Kaowool too fragile for the inner liner - I am always snagging the work on it.
   adam - Sunday, 11/24/02 21:46:05 GMT

File Hardness Test:

From the 1948 "American Society for Metals, Metals Handbook" edited by Taylor Lyman. This book is affectionatly known to me as the "Big Red Book".

In defining the term "file hard", one should specify the hardening procedure used on the test block that the file cannot "touch". The surface of the steel article being tested is rubbed slowly but firmly with the sharp teeth of the file until the operator has determined whether or not the file will "bite", that is, whehter or not the material is "file hard".

The test is, for the most part, limited to untempered hardened parts, and comparative testing within a given shop. The information derived form it is influenced by the following factors:

1. Size and Shape of File. These should be standardized as:
(A) 6-in. Pillar Testing File No. 0 and No. 1 to be used on flat, oblong, and square test pieces; file No. 0 is suitable for hardened steel, file No. 1 for tempered steel.
(b) 8-in. Pillar Narrow Testing File for hardened steel.
(c) 6-in. Three square Testing File No. 1, for testing an object of irregular shape in which there are crevices and grooves.
2 Hardness of File. As long as a file will cut a master test specimen, it is suitable for testing purposes.
3 Speed of Filing. The slower the speed, the more accurate the test.
4 Pressure. This will vary among operators, but should be kept as firm and as nearly constant as possible.
5 Angle of Contact. This should be kept as nearly constant as possible.
6. Composition and Heat Treatment. With steels of Rockwell C 60 or more, differences in composition and heat treatment are associated with apparent anomalies, such as the relative hardness of two materials being reversed with the file test as compared with an indentation hardness test.
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 11/24/02 21:47:06 GMT

Picked up a very nice Champion #1 (65 lb. hammer). The hammer is in extra ordinary good condition. Absolutely no wear on the dovetail guides, flyweel, brake etc. Heck even the area on the flyweel that the brake rides on has zero wear or scoring marks etc.. Everything is tight but moves very very freely. Well worth the 17 hour (1 way) drive to pick it up ;-)

Any how, im replacing the 3 phase motor with a single phase. The 3 phase motor is 850 rpm, all i can find in a single phase is 1750+/-. Im wondering if it will be possible to either A) Find a single phase motor that is around 850 or B) use a smaller drive pulley to get the same net flyweel speed. I have the leather strap that came with it, but have been told i can get a custom made strap of about any length i want. I will likely go with replacing the strap as well since im at it.

So any advice on the motor situation or where to get a strap made is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
   Machinehead - Sunday, 11/24/02 21:56:08 GMT

Well I hope the copied information I posted will help on the potentail FAQ article on files. I must thank my Grandfather from who I have recieved most of my literature on machining and metals. He used to work as the head floor, mechanical and electrical engineer, at the local Babcock and Wilcox(Rockford, IL). I still love to hear(for the 50th time) his informative and very entertaining stories about his time spent there, especially during the wars when they were one of the only manufactures of howitzer shells. For example, the time that a warehouse they were dealing with full of H.E. shells had to be rid of, because the idiots there didn't remember to turn the shells every so often. They were filled with liquid explosives and it hardened. His life would make such a wonderfully fascinating book, as would many of the "old timers" that we still have with us. . . and often take for granted! Right now he is 85 years aged(compared to my 23) and keeps on telling me, "Just wait until your 90. . . you'll understand".
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 11/24/02 22:08:58 GMT

File cleaning: I use mostly single cut files -- I find I get a superior finish. I DON'T clean them with a file card/brush, I use a flattened piece of 3/8" or 1/2" copper tubing... Flatten the end of the tube 1/2" and bend it down
20 - 30 degrees, chamfer the end with a 20 (or so) degree angle, then work it into the file teeth holding the tubing perpendicular to the file tooth angle and moving parallel to the the teeth.

This will clear the most stuborn chip, and not dull the file. File cards use high carbon music wire, so it's just like filing hardened tool steel -- not to mention on a Mill Smooth or a Mill 2nd the diameter of the file card bristles won't reach the bottom of the file tooth.

Just my $0.02 worth....

   Zero - Sunday, 11/24/02 22:43:57 GMT


A drive pully 1/2 the size of the driven pulley will bring the speed down very close to what you want. (if my math is right, guru please check me). MSC sells the equipment to make the drive belt with and can probably sell you the belt as well.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:06:57 GMT


When I learned to draw file, I was taught to put the handle on the left side. That way it cuts on the "draw" stroke. Works for me.
   - grant - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:14:47 GMT

Machinehead: You can get a phase converter to covert single phase to three phase (1 - 3 HP is under $125). This will likely be less than the cost of a new motor -- and, keep the slower RPM of the stock motor.

McMaster-Carr (www.mcmaster.com)has flat leather belting and the clips/staples required to join the belt -- actually, McMaster-Carr has EVERYTHING... It's a wonderful resource!
   Zero - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:15:26 GMT

Paw Paw,

My scanner is having fits and refusing to function;{ so I have uploaded a picture of the draft that I have in the book for the file handle to the Yahoo account, thanks for creating that by the way. I created a new folder named after me and named the picture "The secondary handle for files". This should give you a much clearer description of the handle design and could also be used in the FAQ. I think that a picture of a real handle of this type in addition to the draft would be of substantail worth. I have not made one as of yet, so I can't take a picture of a real one. I would suggest that you make one. . . since the one I would make would most likely resamble a pile of junk assembled in an intrigueing manner.

I am thinking that a quick and dirty(see intrigueing pile of junk) way of manufacturing it would be to use a bolt welded(by it's head) to two pieces of appropaitly sized angle iron for the clamp. Where the bolt head is attached to each piece of angle iron there would need to be a pivot of some sort. Then feed the bolt through the hole in the "bridge" and weld a nut to the bottem of a handle with a hole drilled in it so that the bolt can enter the handle without restriction.
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:20:15 GMT


If the required pulley is unreasonably small and if the 3 phase motor is all mounted, there is another trick I've used. Leave the old motor on, add a v-pulley onto it and use the motor as a jack shaft. You just need a 2:1 ratio on the pulleys. Works great! Lot of those old HD 3 phase motors can be made to work fine on single phase using a capacitor. Have to ask someone else how thats done.
   - grant - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:24:23 GMT


Thanks, I was thinking of McMaster Carr when I typed MSC. Senior moment.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:24:43 GMT

Guru, I posted this a while back and think you might have missed it. I bought some 4130 on the online metal store. I was going to use it to make some hammers. I originally had wanted to buy 4140 but could not find it . Is 4130 suitable for making hammers? I have been told by another source that it is not because it is a water quench steel.TC
   - Tim - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:42:31 GMT

Low RPM Motor Machinehead, The above posts are correct. Low RPM motors are listed in many catalogs but are generaly made to order by the manufacturer. Reducing the pulley size by half will work BUT may create a situation where you do not have enough contact area. The tighter radius is harder on the belt too.

A solid state inverter will probably be your cheapest solution. The other option is to make a "back shaft" and use the existing pulley to drive the hammer and use 2:1 reduction on the motor to back shaft end. This requires some more parts and pieces but I have been able to do this a couple times on old machines with scrounged pillow blocks, shaft and pulleys. . .

Glad you like the hammer. I'm guessing that is the one I found for you. . :)
   - guru - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:42:44 GMT

Hammer Steel: Tim, Sorry I did not get back to you. The 30 point carbon may be a little low for a hammer but it should harden enough. Air, oil or water quench generally makes no differnece in the end product.

As an aloy steel it will harden deeper than a plain carbon steel of the same carbon content so it should effectively be as good as a higher carbon plain steel.

I'll look up the hardenability and get back shortly. If it turns out a little soft a hammer that is softer than your anvil has some advantages.

Grant? Any input on 4130?
   - guru - Sunday, 11/24/02 23:52:59 GMT

I'd rather use 4130 than 4140 for this purpose anyway. Works very similar to 1060 (which is harder to find in any case). Better to have water-hardening steel if you want to do a differential harden. My favorite quench for a hammer is using a faucet or hose over the slack tub. You dip the pein while running water on the face. The water should hit right in the middle of the face - you want it harder in the center than the edges. Save enough heat in the body to draw to peacock. All your attention is on the face, don't even worry about the pein, let it draw back more than the face. Surface on as-quenched 4130 (1-1/2 inch round) should be aroud 50Rc, after draw mid 40's.
   - grant - Monday, 11/25/02 00:11:35 GMT

Grant, Please e-mail me. I got an error on your uswest account.
   - guru - Monday, 11/25/02 01:20:54 GMT

Can anyone tell me where I can get design for a beginner? My son is trying to do this and I dont know nothing can anyone help?
   john - Monday, 11/25/02 02:34:01 GMT


I am considering using a blower at the end of the exhaust stack. I would power this with a weight that would fall and turn a wheel which would be geared to the blower. When this weight fell as far as it can go, the second weight falls 1/4 of its total fall and via a 1 to 4 gear raises the first weight to the top again, when the second weight falls all of the way down it is raised with a third weight using the same principal of the prior weights. In this system there are two primary(smaller) weights so that as one is being raised the other is falling. This is just so when I am using the big forge in a place where electricity is not availiable I would not have to be cranking on the exhaust stack blower all of the time. Although I will need to raise the biggest weight every once in a while. The amount of mechanisms are much too numerous to even begine to describe them here. I first concieved of this system when designing a waterfall. . .


Thanks for the restaurant supplier tip! I am going to use some of that wrap that is used on headers for cars to try and contain the heat in the air delivery pipe on it's way from the heat exchanger to the forge. Yes, they are notorious for causing corrosion, but in the bid forge the pipes will be SS. Or instead. . . I could just put a box around the pipe and cook food in it as I work and kill two turtles with one marble. Grin


If I find a bunch of 300 series SS would I be able to aleviate the reducing atmosphere by pumping some of the heated air into the exhaust, thus admiting oxygen? Or would this just burn the exhaust up and start to melt the whole aparatus?


So you are kind of operating the file in "reverse"? Sounds like a good idea!
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 11/25/02 03:24:45 GMT

Design for What? John, We have 150 step by step demos on our iForge page. Several done by a 10 year old smith and another by a teenager that has a smithing business. There is lots of help here if you poke around and ask questions.
   - guru - Monday, 11/25/02 04:35:42 GMT

Bought an anvil from 1924.make soderfors sweden,The top plate has been so beaten over the years that it has gone concave from the beack to the hardie hole.The anvil is a two piece deal with the bottom being cast ant the top plate about 3/4 inch hardend steel.Is it safe to grind off about an 1/8 of an inch ,or is there a better way ? thanks gregor
   gregor - Monday, 11/25/02 05:46:29 GMT

Bought an anvil from 1924.make soderfors sweden,The top plate has been so beaten over the years that it has gone concave from the beack to the hardie hole.The anvil is a two piece deal with the bottom being cast ant the top plate about 3/4 inch hardend steel.Is it safe to grind off about an 1/8 of an inch ,or is there a better way ? thanks gregor
   gregor - Monday, 11/25/02 05:46:31 GMT

Caleb, I think a lot of designs allow for some fresh dilution air to be mixed in with the exhaust. I'm not clear on how your design will work but anything that brings some amount of 02 into the SS chamber will help prevent loss of passivity on the stainless components.
Re: Gas economy. We pay $10 for a 20lb refill in TX. But only $12.50 for a 30lb. By the time you get to a 100# bottle the price has gone down considerably. If you are running a small shop, I would think the investment in a large tank would pay for itself very quickly. I use a 20# bottle on my single burner forge and it uses about 1# per hour at 10 psi. For a hobbyist, that is pretty cheap compared to running a bass boat!
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 11/25/02 13:30:53 GMT

Thanks for all the good info fellas! YES this is the one you found Guru, i appreciate that immensely!! The hammer is really in unbelievable condition even the dies are virtually new (and appear original). Thats why Richard was going to keep it and sold the Little Giant, Moloch, and Beuadry.

The hammer is very well made and engineered well. I like the double treadle and the fact that you can work it from either side.

Any how, i think i will try a converter if i cant custom order a slow single phase motor. Im guessin the reduced pulley diameter will not allow enough contact with the belt, as many have indicated here.

Thanks again, and Happy Thanksgiving!
   Machinehead - Monday, 11/25/02 15:35:48 GMT


Do you appreciate it enouth to join CSI? Or are you already a member of CSI?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/25/02 15:40:33 GMT

Greetings Guru(s)
I'm brainstorming an idea for a PH. I was thinking of using two cylinders with hoses cross connected. One for the ram (hammer) and a second one for a driver i.e. having its piston connnected to a crank wheel, belt driven with a slip pully clutch. Would there be enough air power to drive the ram cylinder? Would the "driver" cylinder have to be larger to compensate for the weight of the hammer? (Considering 15-25#)Or should they be equal in size? Thanks in advance for your help.
   Dodge - Monday, 11/25/02 16:15:13 GMT

Paw Paw, once again i need enlightenment. CSI? I dont spend enough time here i guess ;-)
   Machinehead - Monday, 11/25/02 18:07:55 GMT


If you can't custom order a slow single phase motor, change BOTH Pullyies. If you had a local machine shop turn you a pair of aluminum drive pullies to fit the shafts, each about 4" in width, one with a 3" diameter and the other with a 6" diameter, you'd be home free.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/25/02 18:09:21 GMT

Make sure they turn a crown on both pullies, too. That should get you running for less than a $100 bucks.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/25/02 18:10:18 GMT

What does a blacksmith do on an average day?
   - Caleb Merchant - Monday, 11/25/02 21:07:31 GMT

can you tell me some info and pictures of what silver smiths
made in the 1700's?
   naimah ford - Monday, 11/25/02 21:13:57 GMT

Quenchcrack, I am considering admiting the dilution air with two or more pipes at the bottem of the hood. They would point up into the stack. I think that this would help the draw, considering that the heat exchanger would most likely reduce the velocity. Especially if I design a "dead zone" where the exchanger is placed, so that there is more time for the heat to transfer.

Another crazy idea I am considering is making a constant steam producer. This would consist of a 5 gal. bucket outside of the hood, with a 1" pipe coming from the bottem of it into the side of the hood. The pipe would be bent in a big U shape so that inside the hood it would point up and be suffecient in length to make sure that the water in the bucket doesn't push it out. There would be no restriction for the steam so no pressure would be contained. It would be self feeding too. I think that this might clean off the deposits that the coal fumes would put on the SS chamber and pipes or it might just enhance the corrosion process although stainless should hold up. Mabey I should just use inconel. grin
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 11/25/02 21:27:41 GMT

Machinehead, I have just recently joined Cyber Smiths International(CSI) to help support this great resource(Anvilfire). If you scroll all the way down and click on the "CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group", you will be able to find out more and read about the advantages of being a member.
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 11/25/02 21:33:28 GMT

self contained air hammer: I would think the driver cylinder would have to be larger dia to give you a gearing effect. Why use a slip belt? why not do all the controls with the air? Thats the big advantage of air, its controllability
   adam - Monday, 11/25/02 21:40:38 GMT

Caleb(hey that's ME, wait. . . what), Well if you are wondering about what a blacksmith did days ago, go to the story page here and read "Henry Haus Blacksmith Shop", also many of the other stories there. A great book is "The Village Blacksmith", I can't remember the authors name.

If you want to know about what a modern blacksmith does(I am just a hobby smith) I am sure one of the fine fellows here will be glad to give you an idea.
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 11/25/02 21:46:16 GMT

Caleb Merchant,

Pound on hot iron. File on cold Iron. Shape hot iron. Maintain his fire. Shovel Coal, or Coke, or Charcoal. Go buy propane for the gas forge. Talk to customers. Answer questions from the kids that stop by the shop after school. And a thousand other things.


Look up Paul Revere. He was a silversmith (among other things) and much of his work has be drawn and photographed.


Caleb Ramsby answered before I saw your question. (Somehow, I missed it before.)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/25/02 21:48:29 GMT

I'm doing a small research paper on the benifits of a blacksmith shop at a historical Village. I don't need exact numbers or anything. But I just wanted to have a wide range of blacksmith shops. This won't be published or anything it's a college class asingment just your run of the mill research paper. Any info that I can get would be useful. Thanks
   - Journyman - Monday, 11/25/02 22:07:55 GMT

Hi, I am relativly new to forging as a hobby, but I am very interested to buy a small to med. size gas forge. Where can I find perhaps a Webside that sells gas forges and what should I be looking for? thanks for your help !!!!!!
   wolf - Monday, 11/25/02 22:10:35 GMT

I'm looking for a mechanical/clockwork fireplace rotisserie for turning large roasts in front of a fireplace for hours. The kind you either wind up or pull up the pendulum weights on to activate a escape mechanism that turns the spit with the roast on it. Do you know of anyone who makes this sort of thing? Thanks a lot.
   John Crain - Monday, 11/25/02 23:04:15 GMT

Journyman, I HIGHLY recomend visiting your local library and checking out "The Village Blacksmith". It is about what a blacksmith provided for a village.

That being said, if you look around your domain EVERYTHING you see that is metal and the things that arn't, but should be, were produced by the blacksmith and still are!

Here is a list of things that a blacksmith would make:

Essential parts for wagons and sleds, ax's, hammers, crowbars, candle holders, knifes, hinges, bolts, nails(although these were often made by people beside their fireplace), andirons, fireplace tools, various hooks for domestic use, hand hooks for moving hay and such, rake tines, plow blades and other farm implementation, barrels for the gunsmith, table ware, screwdrivers, wrenchs, shovels, the list could go on forever!

All of the afore mentioned items could have been acquired from a store. . . but they store would most likely be half the country away and the items would need to be transported much of the way via wagon. This could take half a year at times and be VERY expensive.

The thing that is often forgotten is that almost ALL of the other essential craftsman in the village and surrounding area RELIED on the blacksmith not only to make their tools but to repair them and often sharpen them too.

I have not said anything about horse shoes because more often than not there was a ferrier that would make regular rounds to shoe the horses, but if there was an emergency the blacksmith would do the job or sometimes he would do all of the horse shoeing.

So you can see that the blacksmith was an essential part of the community!

Frightingly enough since the blacksmith knew how to make dentist tools, if there wasn't one in the village he would be bestowed with the task of removing ones aching tooth. . . imagine that if you will!
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 11/25/02 23:17:26 GMT

i am making my fiancee her engagment ring how would i go about it?
   matthew martin - Monday, 11/25/02 23:50:17 GMT

Wolf, check out Kayne and Son (see banner) or go to NC tools website. They both sell gas forges at a reasonable price. OR.....check out the many designs to make one yourself at a fraction of the price. A little help here! Where are the forge designs kept? PPW, Guru ?

Caleb Ramsey! If you can afford Inconel, you don't need to waste time on a recuperator!
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/26/02 00:23:48 GMT

Caleb and Caleb, "The Village Blacksmith" is authored by Aldren A. Watson. Another "The Village Blacksmith" is authored by Ronald Webber, a British book about lore and history. Both are excellent, except Watson has the heat rainbow running backwards on an edge tool.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/26/02 00:25:52 GMT

most days for me go like this.
wake up drink coffee
stumble into the shop
rack tools, sweep floor/ benchs
oil tools (drill press,grinders lathe,etc)
work on something, (could be anything form a knife to a hinge)
stop for lunch, drink coffee,
go into office, make phone calls(costomers, steel yards,etc)
check email
drink more coffee
run out for something (sandpaper, nuts, bolts, welding rod, go to bank, replace the darn drill that broke, meet with a costomer, etc.)
eat dinner
go back to shop and work ...
go to bed and start over..
on a good day I work in the shop 6-8 hours, on a bad day I could never get into the shop at all. (like if I am working on designs/ priceing something) that is on top of 3-4 hours of office work and running around.
   MP - Tuesday, 11/26/02 01:02:25 GMT

Matthew Martin: I've made some spectacular wedding bands for some of my NASA buddies out of nickel/iron meteorites.
(Chinga meteorite, to be specific)

Of course, having a machine shop helps....

If you don't happen to own a machine shop; Then Check the iForge demo's on this site, and look at Vicopper's most excellent lost wax demo. That will lead you down the garden path for basic jewelry casting.
   Zero - Tuesday, 11/26/02 01:07:33 GMT

Matthew, What are you going to make it out of? To the best of my knowledge there are basicaly two methods. 1. Make a strip and weld it. 2. Start with a chunk, punch or drill a small hole in it and then drift it out to the proper size. OR You can cast it and then file it down. I have never made jewelery so some of the others will be able to give you more specific information.

Quenchcrack, I WISH I could afford inconel, not even close. I do however have a few shaft's of it about 1 1/2" dia. 3' long, that my grandfather acquired from a previous job, it was shafting in a steam engine. I am saving them for something special. . .

Frank, Thanks, I had no idea that there were two! The one I read had a few pages that were taken from a later day blacksmith's production log, spanning over a year or so, very interesting. It sounds like I read Webber's, although I am not sure.
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 11/26/02 01:07:40 GMT

Engagement Ring: Matthew, Hmmmmmmm..... If you want to make her happy for as long as possible, go to the nearest jeweler and buy the biggest diamond ring you can afford. . .

Otherwise. . What metalworking craft do you know? Gold and silver are some of the easiest metals there are to work and currently silver is still a bargain. However, stainless jewelery sells for higher than silver because it is more difficult to work.

I turned my wife's ring on a small metal lathe. The outside was hand contoured as the lathe turned using a combination of the lathe cutter and files.

Most silver and gold rings are cast and then finished by hand or in a lathe (see our iForge demos on molds and casting). But it is also common to work the metal entirely by hammering. Silver is also commonly, cut, bent then welded together. I suspect gold is too. Often pieces of silver and gold wire are used together.

Some of the most exotic and expensive metal is laminated steel (often called Damascus). See our book review on The Pattern Welded Blade OR Forging Damascus. In Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork there is a Damascus band in a gold setting. Very nice and quite unique. As mentioned above, metoric iron is available but it is difficult to work.

How you go about it is highly dependant on the available tools and your skills. This is probably one of those areas that if you have to ask, you shouldn't be doing it.

The best alternative if you MUST make it is to sign up for a jewelery class and make it there. You will be taught the techniques AND have access to the school's tools (torches, casting equipment).
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:03:40 GMT

Quenchcrack and others, Check out Ron Reils web site for gas forge burner design, www.reil1.net He has lots of other neat photos and stories there also.
   - Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:04:53 GMT

Engagement ring: Matthew, if I knew what metal you were considering making a ring out of, I could offer some very detailed guidelines. Every metal has different processes that may or may not be suitable for a project such as an engagement ring.

Ferrous metals will probably require more heat than is easily achievable in order to successfully cast them, so forging is a more appropriate solution. Start with a small piece of billet or plate and punch a hole, then drift it to size and do the profiling with files and gravers. Engagement rings traditionally have stones set in them, most usually a solitaire set. Prong setting a faceted stone with ferrus prongs will be unsatisfactory unless you use a nickel/chromium/iron alloy (stainless steel). Only a handful of the stainless alloys would be malleable enough to allow prong setting of a stone without serious risk of fracturing the stone.

Gold, silver and platinum are more commonly used for rings. Silver is a poor choice for stone setting, except for bezel-set cabochon stones. The harder alloys of gold and platinum with iridium are better for prongs. Gold and silver can be readily cast by the amateur metalsmith. See the iForge demo on casting. Fabricating a ring from gold or silver is also relatively simple. Half-dome wire for ring shanks is sold by jeweler's supply houses, as is the hard solder necessary for joining. A handyman's propane torch will do the job, but an air/acetylene torch or oxy/acetylene torch will be faster. Again, finishing is by the careful use of jeweler's files, sandpaper and finally buffing.

If you give me more information, I can probably help more. Check out jewelry making books at your local library. For beginners, Rober Von Neumann wrote a good book entitled The Design and Creation of Jewelry ISBN 0801970679.

   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:08:44 GMT

Hey guys, it's been awhile. I'm interested in making a tomahawk for a friend who has a taste for American Indian decor. Probably a wall hangar, but I want to try to do it right. After checking some websites and looking into the demos here, I'm still a little confused on the drifting process...is the drift punched all the way through the eye, or tapped out back the way it came? Does it get stuck? Does it stay in for any of the forging process? Any advice would be greatly appreciated...
   Gator - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:10:06 GMT

Robert, We have links to Rons page in several places including our links page, hotlinks, ABANA-Chapter links and our forge burner plan. . . ;)
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:19:55 GMT

Drifts: Gator, The drift is use to shape the eye for a particular handle shape. In many cases the eye is just punched and used in the punch shape OR the punch is used to support the eye. Often a common round punch is used to make the hole and then the drift used to shape it.

Drifts are sometimes left in the piece while shaping areas around the eye but I think it is best not except in some very flat eyes like some axes.

Most smiths make their own eye drifts but currently Kayne and Son has a tommahawk drift made by Grant Sarver in their catalog.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:27:31 GMT

Average Day for a Blacksmith: I doubt there IS such a thing for anyone except production smiths. In a general shop you may be working on a railing job for a month, take a day to fix the grill for an antique Jeep and then go back to work on the rail. The next day you may be welding hardfacing on a power shovel bucket and after that repairing or replacing dies on your power hammer. And when that rail is finished you may be out in the field installiing it while working over a polished black marble floor. . .

The shops I have worked in we spent a LOT of time toting measuring and sawing steel. . . moving heavy machinery and setting it up. . building fixtures for a job. . toting coal and welding gas cylinders. Then there is the schleping. Tools into the truck, tools out of the truck, tools into the yard, tools into the back shop. Or the gofering. Gofer a box of welding rods in the AM and then gofer bolts in the PM. Gofer a drill bit and a file the next day and then gofer some lunch. . . Gofer a load of steel. . .

Hmmmmm well a most typical day is toting, schleping and gofering. Then there is the scrounging and the hunting and of course on weekends the flea markets where you hunt haggle tote and schlep.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:47:30 GMT

Silversmiths in the 1700's made exactly all the same things silversmiths make today. Except for electric motors to power small machines and buffing equipment it was not much different.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:48:58 GMT

Power Hammer with two Cylinders Yep, Caleb, you have described a self contained hammer (See Nazel and Striker). There are some serious engineering issues. One, you cannot constantly recirculate the air. It will get very hot and eventually the machine will desiel (hot air and oil). Then there is the valving. It is pretty complicated to setup.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:53:47 GMT

Swedish Anvil Gregor, if the plate really IS 3/4" then grinding to clean up is the best way to rework the top. You may be surprised how shallow those really terrible looking placed are. And it does not hurt to leave a FEW marks rather than grind a lot extra off the anvil.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 02:57:00 GMT

Ring: Matthew, you can also look here (www.riogrande.com) They have all the materials and tools you would need. I say go for it! Depending on how you go, you might spend as much on tools as you would on buying the ring, but odds are that you will enjoy the tools more than the ring. Grin! Even if it doesn't turn out like you planned, you will gain some skills and hopefully have some fun. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

First thing though is to figure out a design. The design dictates processes and materials.

Caleb, the weight driven blower sounds interesting. Send pictures when you have that part!

Jock, I've been building and playing with burners again and had another thought. An exhaust analyzer would be a relatively easy way to judge burner efficiency on an atmospheric burner. Wouldn't have to measure air in.
   - Tony - Tuesday, 11/26/02 04:52:00 GMT

Power Hammer with two Cylinders:

Sorry Guru, but that idea was put forth by Dodge. I plead inocent, but we all have our days where the helter-skelter takes hold. I have always had a prefrence for the wooden helve hammers design, with an added(by me as far as I know) control supplied by a movable counter balance. I should built a light scale model of one to use as a striker. . .
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 11/26/02 05:26:48 GMT

Power Hammer with two Cylinders

Although this is not my idea. . . I feel I have some type of bizzare obligation to defend(?) it. One possible way to aleviate the over heating situation would be to use a radiator to expell some of the trouble-some heat produced. Although one would just be throwing away energy that cost money to produce. . . on the other foot, it would be suplementing the heating system of the work place at the same time. I am sure there are many other solutions that need to be devised for problems that I am ignorant of. . . so I shall relinquish this particular discourse to its original propagator(Dodge, this means you).
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 11/26/02 05:49:49 GMT

Re: two air cylinders
I'm not that easily discouraged :)My intrest in the twin air cylinder PH is mainly in saving space. The reasoning for a slip clutch is so that the drive cycinder would only be active when the hammer cylinder was working. Thought that might reduce the problem of overheating the air. Another thought I had (keeping in mind that I'm still in the brainstorming process) was: What about nitrogen charging like they do with racecar tires to keep them from overheating? Or am I misunderstanding the use in that case?
Thanks again- Dodge
   Dodge - Tuesday, 11/26/02 05:53:24 GMT

Your design sense makes up on exuberance, what it lacks in elegance
Good BS score today..Bought a set of 4' sheetmetal rolls ,most of a 25# hawkeye helve hammer, 2 mid sized post vises. some line shaft stuff, a giant flat belt drill press and a fair sized wall mount hand crank drill press a 3' bellows,plus misc for about $350 today...Hope to actually get the time to unload it sometime..sigh.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 11/26/02 06:02:48 GMT

I am 22 and trying to learn as much about nlacksmithing as I can. I am completely confused about tool steel though. What do all those letters and numbers mean. Thank you very much. Sarah
   Sarah Chamberlain - Tuesday, 11/26/02 07:00:17 GMT

hello sarah;

welcome to the wonderful world of blacksmithing.
below are note i have collected over the years.

AISI - American Iron and *Steel* Institute - general
SAE - Society of Automotive Engineers - cars
ASTM - American Society for Testing Materials base specs on
specific applications
Many low carbon and structural steels
AISI use a four digit number. The first is the class of alloy specified.
1XXX Carbon steels
2XXX Nickel chromium
3XXX Moybdenum
4XXX Chromium..............etc
2nd number designates the subgroup of the alloy
Last two numbers designate the amount of carbon in 0.01%;
therefore a 1080 *steel* has 0.8% carbon.

AISI classes these with a three digit number for Stainless
200 series = chromium, nickel, manganese (structure is austenitic)
300 series = chromium and nickel (structure is austenitic)
400 series = chromium only (Structure is ferritic or martensitic)
500 series = low chromium (<12%) Martensitic

1. Ferritic
2. Martensitic
3. Austenitic

These are high carbon steel alloys that have been designed
to provide wear resistance and toughness combined with high strength.
Water Hardened tool steel - (W grade)high carbon plain carbon steels
Cold worked tool steels - (O for Oil, A for Air, D for diffused)
Shock resisting Tool Steel - (S)
High-Speed Tool Steel - (T for tungsten based and M for molybdenum
Hot-Worked Tool Steels - (H)

Iron carbon with more than 2.11% carbon experience the eutectic reaction
during cooling and are known as cast irons.
Class 80-50 means tensile strength is 80ksi and yield is 50ksi
1. GRAY IRON - is the least expensive and the most common variety.
Typical ranges of carbon are 2.5% to 4% . with 91-94% iron elongation
is around 1% elongation in 2"
2. MALLEABLE IRON - cooling rate is increased. Irregular spheroidal graphite
particles in ferrite or pearlite matrix. Applications are axle housings,
pipe fittings, brake drums.
3. DUCTILE IRON - add magnesium (but only 1 pound per ton!!!)
Spheroidal graphite particles in ferrite or pearlite matrix.
Applications include valves, pump bodies, crankshafts, gears.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Tuesday, 11/26/02 10:37:15 GMT

hello sarah;

another place to look at that will explain the number and lettering schemes is:


terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Tuesday, 11/26/02 10:45:30 GMT

File handles: Another option.

Take hunk of old broomstick or just tree branch, drill a 3/16 or so hole in it about 2" deep at the angle you want the file tang to go in, heat the end of the file to black heat with a propane torch (be carefull not to draw temper into the working part of the file), and push the hot file tang into the handle. Burns its way in and sticks well. Resinous wood sticks better. Loose file handles mean bad file control. Being able to angle the handle to the file comes in handy with some work. Saves knuckle skin. The big guy upstairs gives us some useful and comfortably shaped branches for handles. Cheaper too. Less Entropy created.
   - Tony - Tuesday, 11/26/02 14:30:08 GMT

How to remove the oil can effect from a sheet of 3/4 x 4 x 8 normalized 4130 alloy steel
   Darryl Frye - Tuesday, 11/26/02 14:48:45 GMT

Numbers and Technical References: Sarah, Everyone working in the metal trades should have a copy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK (see our book review page).

Although MACHINERY'S is not a complete reference on alloys it explains the SAE/AISI systems and included general and specific heat treating information.

MACHINERY'S also includes thousands of other things you need to know in the metals trades. It has detailed information on threads and threading, drilling, riveting and calculations using riveted joints, how to read drawings, conversion factors, melting points. . . .

New they are a tad pricy for some folks but they are readily available on the used books sites for around $25. For some 40 years almost all metal shop courses include a class on how to use MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and students had to have an up to date copy. Thus there are a lot of nearly unused copies on the used book market.

If you need more detailed information on alloys because you are doing exotic bladesmithing or running a machine shop then you need detailed references specificaly on metals and heat treating. The two top references are by ASM, ASM Metals Reference Book and Heat Treaters Guide to Ferrous Metals. The pair will cost about $250 and you will almost NEVER find them on the used book market.

For links to many of the acronymonious assocations listed in Terry's post see our FAQ's page and the acronyms page titled "Alphabet Soup".

For other recommended books see our Getting Started in Blacksmithing article. It has links to reviews of the books mentioned.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 15:42:07 GMT

Oil Can Effect: Darryl, The oil can effect refers to a piece of steel that is not flat and can be mechanicaly popped from being high on one side to being high on the other. Your dimensions indicate a pretty heavy piece of plate. . .

The oil-can effect is from the center of a piece of steel being stretched so that it will not set flat. There are two ways to remove it. Both require mechanical deformation.

1) Heat the stretched center of the plate to a red heat, press it flat and then let it cool. Afterwards it will have residual stresses and you may need to heat treat the piece to relax it. Some sort of mishandling while hot probably led to the original distortion so the the methods should be carefully considered.

2) Stretch the outer edge of the plate around the center. To prevent warping this must be carefully done all the way around the perimeter of the plate. This can be done cold on a press with slightly curved faced dies. Preferably they have a very slight taper OR their force center is toward the edge of the work so that they deform the outer edge more than the interior of the work piece. The amount of deformation needed is almost imperceptable. The pressing should proceed alternately on oposite sides of the plate AND alternate axialy. On the clock, 12,6,9,3,7,1,4,10,2,8,5,11. This method will create a little bit of work hardening but less residual stress than heating. Depending on the criticality of the part you may need to heat treat.

Then there is one last possibility. IF you have sufficient machining allowance just machine out the hump on the top and then the cup on the bottom carefully clamping the work to not distort it (I would use a surface grinder and alternately grind each face lightly several times). If the part doesn't have a lot of residual stress then it should be flat. But if there are residual stresses it will never be truely flat.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 16:44:13 GMT

Pneumatic Hammers: Whoops. . Dodge, there are self contained hammers and then there are the pneumatic coupled hammers. They had a mechanical drive and clutch that operated a piston inside a cylinder. On the other end of the cylinder there was a piston and die (ram) that did the forging work. A number of manufacturers made these hammers and they were apparently not very sucessful as there are none in operation that I know of. I suspect the reason is that they had trouble with make-up air. If the air or gas leaked out of the cylinder then there would not be enough to operate and the working end would stay retracted.

The lack of extant examples is not just a matter of age and the pneumatic cylinders because a LOT of Nazel hammers of the same age are still in operation.

For a glimpse of the MANY types of power hammers you should get a copy of Pounding out the Profits. And if he can still be found, Mark Krause has a booklet detailing how to build a self contained hammer.

Radiator cooling would not work in a high pressure system. The thick walls necessary would not conduct the heat fast enough for air cooling. You would need a heat exchanger. Inert gas will prevent oil/air detonation but not cure the heating problem.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 17:13:12 GMT

File handles: another good file handle is a golf ball.
drill a hole alittle smaler than the tang,then just hit it 1 or 2 times and it's on there. i use thies for my hoof rasp. the ball fits my hand goot and lets me change angle with out moving my hand.
   zern - Tuesday, 11/26/02 17:25:18 GMT

Aldren Watson's book:

"The Village Blacksmith" has been reprinted, had stuff added and was renamed "The Ironworker and Farrier". I think most big bookstores carry it. I still like the original hardcover, just because.
   Escher - Tuesday, 11/26/02 17:26:00 GMT

Jock, did you forget you have a "pneumatically coupled" hammer on your pages here? JYH. Who made that thing? Grin.

   - Tony - Tuesday, 11/26/02 18:12:50 GMT

Just curious, not that I'm thinking of making a ring, but wouldn't a laminated steel ring lose the great appearance by rusting? Or does that not happen because of some combination of body chemistry and constant wear? I guess if it was laminated of nickel and stainless layers, it wouldn't rust, but I was under the impression that it was pretty tough to do this with stainless layers. Again, I'm just hoping to make a laminated billet sometime next year, so I sure can't claim any experience or intuition about making a ring...

   Steve A - Tuesday, 11/26/02 18:28:20 GMT

Steve A: I've been told that the meteorite rings I make do not rust or tarnish as long as the wearer leaves the ring on. (i.e. Swim in the ocean; leave ring on finger; Okay. Swim in ocean; take ring off finger; ring rusts). This info is all second-hand, as I do not wear jewelry (even my own designs -- safty in the shop, and all that).

I assume some sort of galvanic reaction with the skin is the cause.

FYI: Guru and all. The nickel/iron meteorites I cut (Chinga and Gibeon), cut much like Titanium using a slow speed and heavy chip-load. It's an easy cut, just time consuming.

Again, just my $0.02 worth....
   Zero - Tuesday, 11/26/02 18:57:26 GMT

My average day in the shop ?? In between school bus runs I layup material, get goodies ready. Do odd painting,weld the pieces to gether, clean off bench (sometimes). Do most of my forging at night, that way the forge has a chance to cool before bed. On the way home from the night run stop in the store for supplies I need for the next day. Plus drink coffee and meet the people that show up.
Most days are busy around here.
   Barney - Tuesday, 11/26/02 19:09:55 GMT

Sorry missed one important item.. Keep the house fire going in the winter. It gets cold up here at night.
   Barney - Tuesday, 11/26/02 19:10:54 GMT

Pneumatic Hammers, Ooops, I was under the impression that it was a low pressure system, my bad.

I do have a few "simple" questions about coal. I use it about once a week at my local meet, but the rest of the time I use wood/charcoal. The size of the coal that we use at the meet ranges from 3/4" to 2" square. It burns alright, but the large size makes it difficult to admit/retrieve work from the fire without disturbing it greatly. I have read in many references about the use of "pea" sized coal, in both blacksmithing and furnace usage. If the coal is broken down into pea sized pieces is there a risk of loosing a lot of coal to the grate? Or is this just a matter of enough silica and a properly packed fire? With the big chunks we use I find it difficult to get a properly packed fire, I think this is because of the lack of a suffecient surface area to mass ratio(I.E. big crevices in the fire).

Also when they get the coal for me to test at home, would breaking it on a wooden surface with a wooden mallet, outside, reduce the risk of the dust exploding enough?

Another question I have is about mounting a "coal cooker" in the hood above the fire. I am invisioning an enclosed "troth" that would be adhered to the inside of the hood at an angle. The size would be about 6" X 6" X 1 1/2'. The downhill side(towards blacksmith) would have a verticaly sliding "gate" which would let the coked coal out. The uphill side would have an opening 6" x 6" on the top and a closed back. This is where the gases would escape and the green coal would be admited. I have a few worries, one is that when the downhill gate was opened to take out some of the coked coal, all of the "fresh" air admited would suddenly ignite the gases being cooked off of the coal! The other is that there would be a significant deposit of clinkers that would run down the hill and slop all over the forge but at least it wouldn't be inside the fire pot. Do you think that leaving the bottem grate open a bit to induce a small draft of inderect exhaust from the fire would keep the flash potentail down or just burn up all of the potential coke?

Pete, I have often been known to utter, "So many ideas. . . so little sanity.".
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 11/26/02 19:27:43 GMT

Interesting.......Meteorites named after an old Mexican expletive.Mebbe that's what an old Mexican started to say when one landed on him. (Grin) Whaddaya think, Frank? Tres Perros
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 11/26/02 19:29:42 GMT

I am looking for a suitable plan to build an old fashioned forge. I need to know a good way to get it hot enough to melt steel and iron and the sort. If anyone has a good design for an entire forge area, please email it to me at OrangeCrusher544@msn.com with dimensions, blueprints, and approx. costs if at all possible! Thanks!
   Orange Crusher - Tuesday, 11/26/02 19:31:09 GMT

Follow-up on my previous post, I need to know what kind of bricks to use and what I should make my bellows out of. I may be old fashioned, but I don't have the money for some awesome furnace or pneumatic hammer. Also, if anyone knows where I can get tungsten-carbide in large amounts, as well as titanium, and if its possible to alloy the three, I'd appreciate that as well. Thanks!
   Orange Crusher - Tuesday, 11/26/02 19:33:56 GMT

I actually have the Machinery's handbook. I took 3 years of welding in highschool. And 1 year pre-employment at SIAST (Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology). But I still couldn't figure out the #'s. Thank you for all your help it makes sence now.

   Sarah Chamberlain - Tuesday, 11/26/02 19:38:32 GMT

Jock and Others,
Thanks for your help on my self contained/pneumatic hammer idea. You've raised enough questions in my mind to steer me away from air and back to toggle mechanics ;)But thats what brainstorming and R&D are all about. Right? Thanks again.
   Dodge - Tuesday, 11/26/02 19:42:45 GMT

Pneumatic EC-JYH Tony, Nope, I didn't forget. And probably for some of the same reasons as I mentioned it won't be a commercial success. Bow spring and toggle is the simplest linkage that produces a faster velocity than the crank input and is probably the best for simplicity if you want a hard hitting mechanical hammer. I DO have a design for a rubber band hammer that could be VERY promising.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 20:30:29 GMT

Alloy Numbers Sarah, MH has the break down on how the old SAE numbers work if you look for it. New systems no longer code the alloy/carbon content and are pretty worthless for practical discussions.

I think many of the "How to Use MH" classes drive folks away from the book. I grew up reading it from when I was 11 years old. . . (OK, I am weird). But it is a WONDERFUL reference if you take time to study it and remember you have it. I'll admit there are sections I have not read. . but I have not read my entire encylopedia Britanica either.

I suspect the many pages of log and trig tables (rather archaic today) and lack of pictures turn some folks off. But it is the second most useful tool in the shop.

What is the #1 most useful tool? Hint, everyone has one but many folks don't know how to use it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 20:38:28 GMT


given that hint the answer is obvious. their brain. ;-)

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Tuesday, 11/26/02 20:51:49 GMT

Old Fashioned: Orange C, In this business almost everything is OLD. . . Forge designs start from holes in the ground and progress to synthetic fibre insulated things with high tech ceramic coatings. Refractory lined gas forges have been made for over 50 years. . so how old is old?

Melting steel is not normally done in a forge. If you melt steel in a forge it is usualy also burned up. Forges DO get that hot but you normally want them just shy of the melting temperature of steel. Forges are for heating metal to the plastic state for forging. Melting is done in a coupla or a crucible furnace.

Tungten-carbide is known as a refractory metal or a ceramic. It is not alloyable with other metals. Normally it is used as a powder that is sintered (glued together) with cobalt. You can often purchase old AND new carbide inserts by the barrel from machine shop sales.

Ti can be alloyed with many other metals but there are limits to the ranges that work. Going into the exotic metals alloying business is a big deal and VERY technical. You have a few years of studying to do before you will be ready for that.

I recommend you do a BUNCH or reading before you launch into whatever it is you want to do. If it is blacksmithing, see our Getting Started article.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 20:56:35 GMT

Nope, the air spring wouldn't be a commercial success. But a rubber band??? grin. Didn't Grant do that? The air spring does result in hammer speed faster than the crank speed though. I really should get a good belt on that thing and run it again. On second thought, I should just do the Nazeloid. Much better idea.
   - Tony - Tuesday, 11/26/02 21:03:11 GMT

Watson's Village Blacksmith:

Frank: I'd penciled in the correction on the temper colors on my copy, just 'cause it would drive me nuts. I do not think it has been corrected in subsequent editions. I'll check it out at the bookstore tomorrow or Friday.

(Private missive being sent via P.O.)


Benefits? For a 20th/21st century historical reenactnment village or for the original village?

In the 21st century, there's nothing like a blacksmith to pull in the marks, er, public. The clang of the anvil, the glow of the fire and the magic of transforming the metal hooks them every time. At the Richmond Celtic Festival I had a crowd whenever I fired up. In terms of educational value, the subject is endless. When you explain how Early American economies worked, and the amount of work involved; the difference between bespoke work and production work; the foundations of the industrial revolution and the movement from muscle power to water power to steam power to electrical power...

Hey, I'm good for an hour, at least! One thing we did try at Richmond, after I creaked my elbow (again!) is to have one person interpret and answer questions while the others worked. It worked very well, and would have worked better if the crew wasn't a tad green.

Historically, the blacksmith was the key member of industry and agriculture, making and mending and doing whatever was needed to keep the folks at their jobs...

That's good for another hour!

Others will throw their two cents, once you define your question a little closer.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/26/02 21:10:33 GMT

Exotic Metal Jewelery: Well. . . lots of things have maintenance issues. As I mentioned, the Damascus band was set in gold and the gold was what was against the skin. It was also one of those pure nickle and wrought deals with a heavy etch blackening and protecting the wrought. I would seal the heavy etch with lacquer but the etch oxide might be enough in this case.

Difficulty of working metoric iron. Cutting CAN be a problem but forging and welding can be much trickier than processed metals. Again, in jewelery sealing might be an option.

I have a titanium Star Trek badge that is temper colored the most beautiful red blue and purple. Titanium temper colors are quite resistant to further oxidation.

Mokume' Gane is a laminated mix of non-ferrous metals that has the same visual effect as laminated or pattern welded steels. Combinations of brass, copper, silver and gold are used. AND I suspect that like mosaic Damascus you could produce a bar with lettering or a name in it. Now THERE would be an engagement ring! A gold band with silver lettering outlined in copper proclaiming your undying love. It would be as exotic as a Lord of the Rings magic "ring of power" and probably as costly in time making it. It would be just as uniquely exotic but in the real world, not a fictional one.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 21:20:13 GMT

I'm told I need to refine my answer and after rereading my old one I agree. I'm looking for profit numbers, how much a historical reanactment village blacksmith makes in money wise. Like for instance how much a year does the blacksmith shop at Colonial Williamsburge make finatualy each year. Some thing along thouse lines.

Thanks alot to thouse of you who have responded to my posting, I am using your information in one form or another.
   Journyman - Tuesday, 11/26/02 21:56:05 GMT

Coking, Coal and Dust Explosions: Caleb, WHERE did you get the idea that coal dust would explode in normal use?

Any finely ground organic substance can be made to explode into flames under the right condition. Grain silos explode from the dust of the husks that is ground just by the handling of the grain. When it reaches the right concentration in the air the slightest static discharge will ignite it.

When I was in the third grade I took a classic science experiment to school as a project. A funnel, a rubber hose a candle a LARGE tin can (1.5 to 2 gallon) and some corn starch. A small piece of paper goes in the funnel and then a cup of corn starch, the candle is lit, the big can put over the two and then you blow hard into the hose. . SWOOOM!!!! The can is launched several feet in the air and the flare of the flaming dust extends about eight feet (good thing we had 14 foot ceilings in the old school!

Before my teacher could regain her composure and yell "STOP" my buddy and I had reloaded and done it a second time!!! Hahahahah . . . . Life in the good old days! Today they would put our 8 year old rears in a sling, expell us and then watch us for the rest of our lives. . . .

Several years ago on a television set a new prop person reloaded a theatrical fire extinguisher with baby powder. . . but someone forgot to mention that there are TWO kinds, talc and cornstarch. Talc is a non flamable mineral. When the fire extinguiser was discharged in the face of the actor, instead of blowing out the small fire and making a powdery white mess of the actor, ha ha. . . It went SWOOM! As above in a blast of flame. . . Luckily the amount of fuel was small and the fire well distributed. The actor only had minor burns and needed false eyelashes and eyebrows while his grew back in. . . AND the stunts and props people industry wide learned a valuable lesson. .

The point is that dust explosions require the dust to be:

1) flamable
2) very dry
3) fine enough to float in the air.
4) distributed in the air in the right concentration.

Coarse coal dust lying on the ground is not a hazzard. When there is enough to be a hazard it is dampened.

Your coking plan has some problems. One is that normaly coal is very close to the flammable point when coked. When coking it is done anywhere other than in a smiths fire it is sealed from the air. The large amount of gases released is piped off to use as fuel (known as "producer gas") and the condensate processed into various useful things.

The other problem is that when good coal cokes it becomes plastic and glues together in a solid mass. You may put in lumps or even fines but it will end up a solid mass . . . IF it doesn't ignite in your bin and burn up.

OBTW - That viscous yellow smoke that comes off coal as it cokes IS explosive at the right temperature. I've had it launch the stack off my forge (too much coal, too much macho "more power") and I've had it suddenly inflate my bellows with a WHOOMP. . many times. . (always give the handle of the bellows a little short pull before a long pull when it has been setting a few moments). Coal gas explosions have been known to blow the sides off large bellows when fresh air meets the hot flamable gas. If you fully inflate the bellows AND the gas explosion trys to do it at the same time SOMETHING has to give. It is usualy the nails holding the leather to the bellows but it can also be the leather OR the wood. In either case it is very expensive.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 22:05:00 GMT

Besides the fact that when you hear that explosion in the bellows you have to shut down to go change pants, so you have lost time to account for! Believe me, I almost filled my shorts the first time it happened to me. I'm sensitive about un-expected loud bangs anyway, and when I'm working, and talking to a tourista..... If I remember correctly, the first time it happened, I had to explain to some third grade children that they really shouldn't use the scatalogical expletive that I had just said rather loudly.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/26/02 22:17:58 GMT

But I still can't get him to give the bellows that little "safety" pull that keeps from blowing up the bellows. .

Profits in Historical Interpretation: Journeyman, I seriously doubt that anyone keeps books in such a way as to determine a profit or a loss on a blacksmith demonstrator.

First, pay scales run the gamut of extremes from volunteers that provide their own costume and tools to a few professionals that are paid a salary suitable to live on, but nobody gets rich in the museum business.

I do not know the details of the CW operation but I know that the apprentices get paid very little (students). They also have a master smith and shop manager both on salary. I am sure they have a complicated bit of bookkeeping on what goes where. But actual values would be very hard to judge.

Second, in SOME cases the smiths provide hardware for the restoration of historic buildings. At CW most of what is made in the shop goes to use on foundation property. At other places the smith's work ends up in the gift shop. At CW they use wrought iron and make painstaking reproductions (carefully marked as to bing new). What these would cost coming from outside? Are they saving money of losing money? Very difficult to say.

Third, in most places the demonstrating smith IS a draw that brings people in. How many people? Very hard to define. rarely is the smith the only attraction. However, I know from personal experiance that a demonstrating smith brings in a considerable number of people anywhere. Many kids love watching the smith (IF he puts on a good show) and they will drag their parents along. Money is made in admissions, the gift shops, resturants. . . How much applies

And THAT is the crux of the difficulty. At CW and a few other restorations the smiths work as if it is just another day and a typical job. You can go to CW and watch all day and often there will be a couple guys filing, filing, filing. . . all day. Yep, it IS real life. But it is BORING. When they ARE forging it is often a picky piece that is being made for the restoration. Slow, not very exciting.

Twice, I have been involved in planning and bidding on demonstration shops. Both died for reasons unassociated with the idea or shop.

The plan was a SHOW shop. And I do mean a SHOW! Dark shop, big fires, HOT iron all the time! Power hammers and forge welding, at least a team of three working on holidays and weekends. The shop would be set low with riser type stadium seating on one side and a guard wall at the front and a foot or so of lexan guard above that. Entry would be through the gift shop a'la Cracker Barrel.

Although the shop MIGHT produce finished work it would NEVER sacrifice finshing work for the SHOW. If need be piles of steel would be consumed every day just to keep hot iron moving. The gift shop can easily be filled by sub-contractors (you guys).

How many times have you elbowed your way through a crowd to see a guy lazily heat a LITTLE bar of steel, pull it out of the fire, give it a couple taps then put it back in the fire? I've seen this at a dozen historical sites. Always a big crowd and no show. OR you elbow through the crowd and the guy has a PHONEY fire and is putting a few dents cold in a stamped metal shoe with a ball pien hammer. . . IMAGINE what a REAL show would do?

Have you ever been to one of those yuppy food courts or malls where there is a "Fudgery". They ring a big brass bell and the next thing you know there are hundreds of people on two or more levels standing watching the fudge being poured on marble slabs and worked. There is also singing, dancing and a SHOW!

I think it could be done in blacksmithing (even the singing and dancing). AND. . . for the right money and a five year contract *I* could be bought to set it up and train the people. It could be themed historically to any period you want. But if the period is not important then let HOT IRON reign! Lets start with a highway location half way between CW and Busch Gardens. . .

Another great idea just given away. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/26/02 23:08:02 GMT

Bellows and booms......
well from personal experience it can be much more than a little pop or boom.
We had one of the volunteers have one explode ( PPW it WAS NOT me.... ) He was making coke and was not pulling the handle often enough ( acutually he was not doing so at all)
So with 7 visitors and yours truely in the shop he took a looong pull and the bellows exploded. I am talking 1" planks made into shrapnel and toothpicks. Screws were im-bedded into a wall 25 feet away.
So listen to the Guru..... Hmmmm funny but it was shortly after this that my wife started seeing grey in the beard.... could it be related... Nah.....
   Ralph - Tuesday, 11/26/02 23:40:11 GMT

The bellows in De Re Metalica have pressure relief valves (like a pop-off valve) on the top board. These were large single action bellows designed to be run by water power and I think the pressure release was for the possibility of a clogged tuyere OR the bellows running too fast for the conditions. It could also protect from fuel gas explosions.
But I don't know how common this problem was in charcoal fired forges. Its a simple device. A trap door with a little weight.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/27/02 00:24:22 GMT

Follow this link to an article about Bill Epps:

   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/27/02 00:51:22 GMT

Coking, Coal and Dust expolosions

Well, as for the dust exploding(great story by the way!), I have no fear of it exploding when in regular use. I was more concerned with the dust being distributed in the air in heavy concentration when breaking up the coal with a hand hammer against a metal surface. I was thinking that with all of the dust being liberated and the hammer head striking the metal surface that the coal was being broken upon the dust cloud would ignite in my face! This concern may be unfounded because I don't think that a LOT of FINE dust would be created, mainly larger "chunks". Either way it sounds like if I saturated the coal prior to breaking it up a majority, if not all of the risk would be side-steped.

As for my coker. After(stupid me it should have been before) I posted my question I did some research on cokers and found out exactly what you stated. I too believe that the risk of the coal igniting in the bin is very high, especially with is being opened often, that alone is enough to deter me from persuing this idea.

Coal gas explosions

Well that is one thing I have kept in mind while I have been fighting with my self over which to use, positive displacement or blower type of air mover. Although a one way valve at the exit from the bellows or piston pump would aleviate most of the probability of explosion it would not completely dislodge said factor. This brings up another question, is it possible to have an explosion in the piping coming from a blower type of air mover? I greatly doubt so, since there is no substantial resevour, I am just curious if any of you have heard of this occuring.

Rereading my question about coal size I think that I answered my own question on that one, with my own question! Thanks Caleb, no problem Caleb. . . hey wait who said that! Sorry about that. . . just a moment of heightened self-awareness.
   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 11/27/02 01:00:05 GMT


Heightened self-awarensee = Schizophrenia? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/27/02 01:05:10 GMT

I have a very large very old blacksmith cone hieght 51" width 14" weight 280 pounds in great condition do you know it's value
   mark leaman - Wednesday, 11/27/02 02:28:39 GMT

Hi guys and girls, I bought a small lathe it is a Sears Roebuck & Co model 109.21270. I measures 26"lx10"hx10"w. It is 10inches from spindle to tail stock,and 3inch over bed height. It also has a threading chart on the end, and a set of changable gears and drive. What I would like to find is a manual for this lathe. If any of you would have one we can make a deal for a copy, or any idea where to look for one. I have checked Sears on the internet with no help. Thanks JG
   JG.bleedingheartforge - Wednesday, 11/27/02 03:28:18 GMT

Jock,I know this is a redundant conversation but I wanted to put my two cents in concerning mechanical vs. pneumatic JYH's. I built my hammer three years ago and it has been in daily operation in my shop since without ANY problems. I used the ABANA "simple air hammer" plans with the Alabama Forge council schematic. I have to say that with the reliability I've had I'm glad I went this route. It is also a heavier hammer than I think is possible with the mechanical hammers you have on the site, so I guess it depends on what you are going to use it for. I needed a hammer in the 125 lb. range at the time. Now I need a bigger hammer but don't think I am going to build another one. I think for the price maybe a Chinese hammer or one of the Turkish self contained hammers might be the ticket. Tom Clark demo'd a Turkish hammer at the Oktoberfest in Northern Ca. and it was quite impressive. TC
   - Tim - Wednesday, 11/27/02 04:05:35 GMT

I'm about to experiment with making my first sword (I've trained with both katana and broadsword but my broadsword just shattered). Pretty okay with the process EXCEPT I want to do some etching on both the blade and the pommel. NO IDEA HOW!!! please advise (I'm off to the forge on Monday 2nd December 2002 so would appreciate a. being spoken to like a rank beginner and b. asap (humbly).
Scathach, Byron Bay, Australia
   Scathach - Wednesday, 11/27/02 04:06:54 GMT


I bought a 1200 pound "actual weight" flypress at a scrap yard for $100 and would like to use it for blacksmithing. Actually I would like to use it for a power hammer. I saw a comment in this forum from August that mentioned the infinite force created by the flywheel and how parts fly apart if it hits an immovable object. To avoid this, I would like to put a shock absorber in the ram shaft, put a massive hunk of steel underneath the conveniently located hole under the anvil and use it for a power hammer. The shock will allow the 100 pound "hammer" to give without stopping the flywheel. The machine was last patended in 1912 by VK&V of Cincinnati. It is a massive cast iron affair with a massive slide and ram system. I think I have the making of a good "poor man's power hammer". What do you think?
   Mike Bowen - Wednesday, 11/27/02 04:41:40 GMT


I bought a 1200 pound "actual weight" flypress at a scrap yard for $100 and would like to use it for blacksmithing. Actually I would like to use it for a power hammer. I saw a comment in this forum from August that mentioned the infinite force created by the flywheel and how parts fly apart if it hits an immovable object. To avoid this, I would like to put a shock absorber in the ram shaft, put a massive hunk of steel underneath the conveniently located hole under the anvil and use it for a power hammer. The shock will allow the 100 pound "hammer" to give without stopping the flywheel. The machine was last patended in 1912 by VK&V of Cincinnati. It is a massive cast iron affair with a massive slide and ram system. I think I have the making of a good "poor man's power hammer". What do you think?
   - Mike Bowen - Wednesday, 11/27/02 04:43:11 GMT

Paw Paw,

People keep on telling me that "There is a fine line between Genius and Sanity", but I keep on insisting that there is no line. That instead, if you find one, then you have found the other. (one crazy grin. . . or is that two?)
   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 11/27/02 04:52:40 GMT

Caleb, yes I had a small educational explosion in my hand cranked blower piping during one of my first fires in the forge. I had read some books, built my forge and was not entirely clear about what part the sprinkling water on the coal was supposed to do except that it was to aid in the coking of the coal. I had way too much green coal and it was very volatile,hot burning,stinky coal. I put too much water on it I'm sure and did not realize that I needed a fairly constant airflow during and especially after doing this. When I did begin to crank it must have reached those magical proportions when things go boom! In my case all it did was flash out the ash dump blowing open the weighted trapdoor, also blew the 3 inch downspout pipe off the blower, and made a respectable imitation of thunder. In my humble opinion the water sprinkler hastens the gasifying of the coal and should only be done with good coal and in small doses. I would not recommend saturating the coal first, but only sparingly around the perimeter of a hot nucleus of good burning fire. Also if you have less than the best coal to work with you can still have a great fire but it takes longer to get it there safely. My favorite way is small wafers of seasoned hardwood soaked with kerosene or charcoal lighter fluid. Get started with something that you can maintain a flame above the bed of coal and slowly bring the coal into the center at a rate that doesn't create a lot of smoke. As long as you keep the flame above the coal during starting it will also consume nearly all the smoke and coal gas. Once you have a good hot center you are ready to have fun and very little danger of explosion.
   Anvillain - Wednesday, 11/27/02 05:02:58 GMT

Most of the historic interpreters and NPS sites, the ones who are paid, anyway, are in the GS-5, -7, -9 range. Sometimes the smithing is just a part of "other related duties as assigned". The career track for many of our interpreters starts as a volunteer (NO pay) to a seasonal (part-year you get paid) to a permanent (you get paid all year, but not very much).

Smiths at Colonial Williamsburg and at some NPS sites can supplement their salaries by producing items/souvenirs for sale in the shops or through supporting organizations. For the most part our folks are doing it for love as much as for the money. Also the production rate may be extraordinarily low, if you're the one stopping and answering questions all day. Interpretation/education comes first, and production runs a distant second. Just ask the gunsmiths at Williamsburg: ("Sorry to interrupt you")

We have a number of blacksmithing sites in the NPS, but whether it's done by volunteers, seasonals or full timers varies from park to park, season to season and year to year.

Most NPS jobs are posted at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/ .

Good luck.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/27/02 05:27:04 GMT


Two, I think. Therefore I am? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/27/02 06:47:29 GMT

hello jock;

i have been reading the brass candlestick and more iforge demo
and have one question concerning the candlestick stems. in photo
bstick00.jpg it looks like there is something in addition to the
1/4" brass brazing rod wrapping around the stem. i am unable to
make it out. would you have a moment to 'enlighten' me?

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Wednesday, 11/27/02 06:53:43 GMT

Craftsman Lathe JG, It sounds like a 6" Craftsman circa 1950-1965. If you search for "Craftsman Lathe" on eBay there is a ton of parts pieces and reprint manuals. Note that the "reprints" are often cheapo zeroxes. .

The lathe (if it is the Craftsman I think it is - I have one) was made by Atlas Press and similar lathes and parts have been made until recently. It is a standard engine lathe albiet very small, the controls are pretty much universal. The South-Bend book, "How to Run a Lathe" still published AND in reprint also works for almost ALL standard lathes. So does almost ANY general machinist's guide or text book published up to about 1970.

If you go to our first edition of the NEWs OR the Power hammer page and click on JYH supplement, on page 5 there is a picture of my little 6" lathe given to me by my dad. Its older than I am by a year or so. . . I've used it since I was 11 and rebuilt it when it was given to me. NEW with motor, 3 jaw chuck and attachements it was $100. I spent about $500 in parts repairing it. . The stand it is on weighs about 6 times what the lathe does. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/27/02 07:12:06 GMT

Air hammers: Tim, The pneumatic linkage hammers we are talking about are a completly different animal than a regular air hammer. Yes, I agree if someone wants to build a hammer they would be best off to bite the bullet and BUY an air compressor and do it right. But everyone thinks they are avoiding some awful thing by NOT getting an air compressor. .

Note however that mechanical hammers were made up to 500 pounds and scaling up most of the mechanical designs is no problem other than finding big enough pieces for the ram and anvil. . . Folks that can't handle finding a suitable 100 pound anvil are WAY out of their baliwick when seeking multi ton pieces of steel. . . Like the little 2,800 pound 18" diameter toe stubber setting on the floor of my shop. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/27/02 07:22:14 GMT

Good earthy solution...But I'd like to add ....
If the handle splits during enthusiastic use, one runs a good chance of running the tang into one's palm. I didn't much like it when it happened to me.
The traditional solution is to use a ferrule on the handle, a sheetmetal cone that keeps the tang end of the wood from splitting.
I just use a grinder to shape the wood to a jam fit.
But more in keeping with the style of the tree branch handle, is the less reliable, but cheap and convient, wire wrapped end instead to the ferrule.
Bend the end of the wire in a right angle and lay the short end along the handle and hold it there with a thumb. Then, pull the wire tight and wrap it over the short end of the wire around the handle till you have about 1/2" of tight wrappings. On the last wrap, stop at the protruding tail of the other end of the wire and, keeping tension, twist the 2 together. Tighten with pliers, trim, bend down and tap the ends into the wood.
We stand united against Entropy!...for a little while.
Mike; you got a great deal on an interesting and versitile machine...however, it is not a power hammer
The good news is that it will do forging. It is closer to a press than a hammer.
Caleb; break up the lumps in a strong sack.No sparks, no loss...and..
There are no lines between genius, sanity and being schitzy. Those are all fuzzy constructs people made up and the meanings slide all around, depending on place and time.
Forge explosions..Anytime you collect volitle gas in your plumbing, then add air...pop..just leaving a lighted forge set a while seems to be enough sometimes...so be aware of explosive gas in your plumbing at all times..urrp.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 11/27/02 07:25:19 GMT

Flypress Mike, The discussion about infinite forces and the end of the known universe had to do with building your own flypress. Commercial models are engineered so that they SHOULD withstand whatever you do to it within reason.

These machines produce fantastic force and a great for die work. Within their capacity they are used for coining, and plate work where sharp details are pressed into the work. They can be used for forging but are best when using dies. Many of the tools Grant Sarver (Off Center Products) produces are made on big flypresses.

However, they do not cycle fast enough for drawing and in general do not replace a power hammer. See the article about flypresses on our Power hammer Page.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/27/02 07:32:32 GMT

Machinery and its Treatment:

I recently had a discussion with a friend about how forging machinery is treated and the term "molested" came up. I had never heard that used to describe what happens to machinery and it fits perfectly! More power hammers are molested by morons than any tool or machine I have ever seen including farm equipment. For some reason mechanicaly inept fools think they can re-engineer these machines. The words "Power Hammer" brings out the "Power Fool".

An example of a molested machine - A near perfect low hours Nazel power hammer (VIRGINAL) was sold to an outfit with hammers of other makes. The first thing they did was remove the ram from the machine and remachine the dovetails to supposedly fit the other brand dies. . . No specs, no dimensions, no understanding of taper per inch. . . NO RESPECT for the engineering of the machine. . oh, its JUST a hammer. . . let the NEW guy work on it. . .

The dies were installed, run a few minutes and then they loosened slamming into the ram guide and locking up the hammer. . . After much prying and hammering the machine was freed up, the dies put back in, the wedges hammered MUCH tighter and the machine fired back up. After the usual 3 or four strokes to get up to full height the ram slammed into the cushion plug and blew the head off the machine ripping out studs and destroying the head.

Now this WAS a virginal machine of a brand that lasts practicaly FOREVER and this one easily had 50 years of life or MORE in it. . until it was molested. . . The machine was NEVER used by its new owner and now it needs more money spent on it than it initialy cost. . . And it will NEVER be as good as it was.

Another similar machine machine was bought and the buyer just HAD to check out the machine without installing the anvil or asking how the machiine works or if there are any precautions. Power is connected, the machine fired up, the treadle stomped on. . . On the second down stroke the ram bottomed out on the ram guide and tore all the bolts out of the casting taking several chunks of the casting with it. . . Another machined effed. Another machine that had another 50 years life left in it wrecked. . .

A fellow bought a NEW fabricated hammer. While unloading it from the truck they dropped it. I suspect it tipped over and landed ram and guide head first on hard pavement. . . . Five feet from a standard truck. This machine was seriously MOLESTED and it was STILL in the box! Instead of checking into insurance or calling the manufacturer he tried to FIX it. . Well, it was bent pretty bad. So he called the manufacturer and says, HEY This machine doesn't work, I think it needs a. . . and how do you adjust. . After many months of going around and around, and many replacement parts shipped, the hammer is sent back. . and the truth is finally found out. . .

Maybe I love machinery too much. I've built a lot of it and had fools do some REALLY stupid things to it (like connecting a 240VAC machine to 660VAC). It almost brings me to tears when things like this happen to machines I designed and built. I'm glad I don't build power hammers. I might have the inclination to do bodily injury to someone that treated a machine I built like the Nazels above.

When you buy one of these machines, old or new, good condition or bad, THINK about it before making changes or applying a shade tree fix. Ask yourself,

"Am about to molest this perfectly innocent machine?
Am I a about to become a machinery pervert?"

There is NOT an inexasutable supply of old machines. There is a very finite number. They are dissapearing fast enough with helping them along.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/27/02 08:26:40 GMT

JG; Regarding your Craftsman lathe, IF it is an Atlas, you can get literature and some parts from Atlas Press, which is now run by Clausing Industrial in Indiana. I recently acquired a 10" x 44" Atlas lathe and was able to get the owner's manual and complete parts breakdown. Two different manufacturers made the little bitty one that I think you have. One was made with flat ways, and the other had "V" ways, but I don't remember which was which. If you can get your hands on a copy of "Home Shop Machinist" magazine, you will find numerous listings of parts for older machine tools.Village Press, the publisher, is on the Web, along with many other sites devoted to the home machinist. So, start off with atlas press.com, then have your search engine find "home shop machinists" or "model engineering", and be prepared to be taken all over the planet. There's some great stuff out there. Best regards, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 11/27/02 08:32:21 GMT

Candlestick Demo Terry, See figure 11, 12 and 22.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/27/02 08:33:02 GMT

JG, I just went to my "ixquick metasearch" search engine, typed in "Craftsman metal lathes", and was inundated with stuff on Craftsman and Atlas lathes! Have a ball! 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 11/27/02 08:58:01 GMT

hello guru;

the 1/8" and 3/16" rings and the basket twist i understand.

sorry, my original question was not clear.
the vertical stem of the candlesticks in bstick00.jpg, is it
plain and straight 1/4" brass rod?

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Wednesday, 11/27/02 09:43:39 GMT

I am working new drifts and hot work chisels with virgin H-13. The spec sheet has a quench rate and tempering guide that would require a furnace and to temper for very long periods of time. I understand this is important for industrial drop forge dies but my small amount of hand tools? . My question is what method do you suggest for quench and tempering that will provide a tough, durable tool?
   Byan Scott Absher - Wednesday, 11/27/02 12:32:29 GMT

Bryan, H13 is a fairly common tool steel and you might be able to find a commercial heat treater who will put your tools into a load of other H13 parts. Cost should be minimal. Doing your own heat treating out of a forge, especially with expensive high-alloy tool steel may be false economy.
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/27/02 13:30:27 GMT

Pete F., Thanks for adding the ferrule/wrap!

The first time I made a wood handle, I was in the woods, cutting with a chain saw. I always carry the appropriate file and was filing the teeth when the red plastic Nicholson file handle broke in the cold and the tang got me through the glove when the file stuck in the tooth because the handle broke. After much earthy expletive, a wood handle was fitted using the awl function from the multitool of the hour to make the hole.

I have nice knotty hawthorn that makes good interesting handles. More knots, less splitting. Since I'm not aesthetically inclined, I find myself using a lot of copper solder caps and reducing bushings for ferrules. Quick epoxy holds them well, but the wood has to be dry or it will shrink away anyhow. I suppose that would work on a file handle too. I have to admit that occasionally, I will even be known to wrap fiberglass strapping tape on a split shovel handle or such. Just to get the job done. Grin!
   - Tony - Wednesday, 11/27/02 13:41:18 GMT

Hello, can you help find out when this touchmark existed? Found on a copper mold at a church yard sale in Alabama tks
   m stanley - Wednesday, 11/27/02 14:14:51 GMT

Hello, need help finding out whose touchmark this is. It was on an old copper mold purchased at a church yard sale in Alabama. The touchmark is a cross with a circle at the bottom... at the bottom of that there is an upside down 1 and the number 80 next to it. Also has a U below that...there is also on the other side an asterick type touchmark Thanks much
   m stanley - Wednesday, 11/27/02 14:21:56 GMT

Meteors. I guess you can call them by any names you wish. The dictionary even calls them "meteoroids".

Paw Paw. I stink; therefore, I'm spam.

H13. Many horseshoers and ex-horseshoers (including me) have circumvented some of the long-soaking heat treatments, especially on pritchels and suchlike. I work in a coal forge, and first I anneal the entire tool after forging and shaping.* Then, for H13, I harden the business end or body of the tool, taking a "slow rising heat", very little blower...to a "life saver orange", 1825-1900F. Quench in still air. On drifts and chisels, leave the striking head annealed, or it may damage your hammer face. I temper at a dark red, sometimes not using the blower at all, 1000-1200F and let air cool again. When cooling, for hardening and tempering, don't have metal contact. I put the tool on a pile of coke or a firebrick.

* Anneal note. The steel manufacturer sends the steel to you in a good annealed state, much better than we can obtain in a small shop situation using a forge and wood ashes. Therefore, when I make a tool like a chisel, I cold- cut the length required and grind the striking head to a slight taper, doming the top a little. That way, it *stays* annealed while you are forging the other end, and you only need to shop-anneal the business end before hardening. The shop-anneal will not be as thorough as the manufacturer's anneal, the latter being 1550-1650F and slow cooling @40F per hour. We do the best we can, however.

I can't really recommend the above treatments; I can only tell you that I have had success with them on my personal shop tools. You would be safer with a commercial heat treatment as Quenchcrack advises, especially if you consider selling the tools.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/27/02 15:15:23 GMT

H13 POSTSCRIPT. Forging temperatures are; start at 1950-2100F; stop forging at 1650F. I call these colors "lemon to salmon (bright red)".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/27/02 15:28:20 GMT

Could you tell me where I can get an airtight container for heat treating parts instead of wrapping in ss foil?

   Bob I - Wednesday, 11/27/02 15:48:51 GMT

Bob- A truly airtight container would pose the risk of the inevitable expansion of the heated air inside causing the hot container to fail rather suddenly. In other words, a small explosion. I don't kow how small, since I haven't tried it, and won't.

A stainless steel darkroom developing tank might be about the right diameter (~3") and uses a lid that simply presses on and has a baffled filler-cap. I have no idea at all how long one would last in use as a heat treating container. With so many people switching to digital cameras these days, you might find one pretty cheaply and try it.

If you're using an electric furnace, why not just get a cylinder of inert gas and purge the oven with that? A little would go a long way, I would think.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/27/02 16:36:08 GMT

Thanks guys. I think I have plenty of information to go on. I didn't think I would find much information. By the pictures I have the late model AA109.21270 or sometimes called the model 80 built aroung 1946. The only things missing is center for the tail stock and the tail stock handle. Many thanks again. JG. Bleeding Heart Forge
   JG.bleedingheartforge - Wednesday, 11/27/02 16:41:56 GMT


We're both crazy! (chuckle)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/27/02 16:47:34 GMT

One of the benefits of good 'ol carbon steel was the ability to heat treat "by eye" using the heat colors and oxide colors. The nice thing about H-13 is that you can judge the required temperatures also "by eye". Heat to yellow-orange and air cool to harden and heat to very dull red (as seen in the shade) to temper. I've had great success with shop made tools treated this way.
   - grant - Wednesday, 11/27/02 17:02:31 GMT

Candle Stick Demo Terry, it is plain round rod with a twist. To make a twist show on round rod you forge a flat about 1/2 to 2/3 the width of the rod. Use a crowned faced hammer to get crisp edges. On small brass rod you can do this cold then heat to twist.

YEP. . you can put a twist in round rod. . .

You can also chisle one, two, three or four grooves in round and when you twist the single piece is looks like multiple pieces. For square bar you can get "rope" dies from the Kaynes (made by Grant). I like three grooves in round because it is difficult to do. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/27/02 17:25:55 GMT

Heat Treating Containers: Hmmmm I've never seen one in a catalog. . and I just tried McMaster-Carr.

In the past they were simple iron boxes sealed with clay. The air tightness was marginal but was sufficient for case hardening.

Commercialy they used to make casehardening boxes out of graphite called a "Diamond Box" by my Dad. Might have been the brand. . A graphite or silicon carbide crucible would work. Lids can be gotten for many sizes.

A simple box could be made the way knife makers weld some laminated steels. They weld up a box from square or rectangular stainless tubing. The billet is sealed inside and a small hole drilled in one closed end. A squirt of kerosene is put in through the hole. When the box is heated the kerosene gases off burning at the vent. But its expansion and remaining vapors keep out the air. Works up to welding heat. . . no flux required. Daryl Meier demonstrated the method at ABANA 2000 as part of a LOW temperature welding demo.

You could do the same but leave one end open. Close the end with a lump of clay. The type of clay would depend on the heat range you are heating the box. I suspect you need a refractory clay and sand mix. Or close it with some stainless foil and a bit of wire. That would cut way down on stainless foil AND be easier to open. Tearing open those hot little packets is a pain. .

You can increase the life of steel and stainless boxes of this sort (as well as graphite crucibles) with a coat of ITC-213. ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/27/02 17:44:55 GMT


Power hammer question:

I have been having a problem with the top die of my Kerrihard working loose. The first time it did so I thought "gee that's odd" put it back and whacked the wedge back in. The second time (a while later) I shut down the hammer and came in to write this note.

The wedges and dies are the originals I think, and I believe I am driving the wedge in with enough force. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Cheese Slice question:

I just rec'd a 1/4# of SS music wire, and was planning on making a simple U shaped cheese slicer. What is the best way to anchor the wire? I was going to drill an oversized hole, loop the wire through it twice, a put a drop of epoxy to hold it in place, but there is probably a bettre method....


   Jim Freely - Wednesday, 11/27/02 17:58:02 GMT

Anyone here ever tried to construct a MIG welder?
i've tried but can't work out the setting sfor the wire to voltage speeds
I do metalwork at school in cape town and theyve got MIG welders so I thought of building one
as a SCI/Metalwork project
and was reasearching it but got stuck

can anyone help me??

any info would be a great help
   TIMOTHY - Wednesday, 11/27/02 18:07:06 GMT

Hi mester guru Iam from dallas Tx I have a power hammer Iam trying to find some info on this hammer Iam missing the motor and clutch asm. help.It is a ALVA ALLEN IND. 8 ton T8-S model# BT8S seral#JFD3076-6 sold my Bill Lindsley Machinery Co. Dallas tx might have been sold in the 1920or1940? any help wood be nice
   Tony Helmer - Wednesday, 11/27/02 18:45:57 GMT

guru, el at...do you use a "formula" for predicting how much a bar will lengthen with tapering or drawing out? for example, how much length will be increased by doing a 3 inch taper on 1/2" sq? your input appreciated. i will try some test pieces this w/e. also, frank had mentioned that he commonly tapers from the end back vs "forward". i think that it can be done both ways effectively, what ever works best for the individual. does drawing towards or away influence the gain on length the same or does it differ?

much appreciation from a rookie...
   - rugg - Wednesday, 11/27/02 18:46:55 GMT

Rugg, it seems like the volume of the steel would remain the same regardless of the shape. Calculate the volume of the piece you start with and set that equal to the volume of a cone with the dimensions of your desired taper. Solve for the length (or height) of the cone. The formula for the volume of a cone can be found in Machinery's Handbook. There will be a slight error due the fact that you will not draw the taper to a point, but, hey, this is blacksmithing....now watch, guru or Frank will be on me like white on rice for that comment....hehehehe
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/27/02 19:05:12 GMT

H-13 - the local forge group has been making slitting chisels and drifts of H13 and S7 (respectively) for the last few meetings. Now I've been to two sessions of practice in making holes, and they seem to work really well. We've just been forging them, letting them cool on the floor under the forge, then grind to final dimensions and use. Forging temps, or rather colors, match what people have talked about here.

Just my very limited experience.

   Steve A - Wednesday, 11/27/02 19:44:02 GMT


Regarding my fly press question from last night. What I found at the scrap yard, does not look like the fly presses in your web site. There is no screw connected to its one big flywheel. It has a large cam and ram. The flywheel turns the cam and the ram goes up and down at about 240 times a minute. That is why I thought it might work as a power hammer. Is this a fly press, or some other kind of press? This thing was 24 hours away from being melted down. I want to put it to use. I sent digital photos to Paw Paw this morning. Any ideas?
   Mike Bowen - Wednesday, 11/27/02 21:08:23 GMT

Jim, epoxy can soften in a dishwasher...I know, I know, this should never be put in a dishwasher, but it will. How about silver solder?
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/27/02 21:27:31 GMT

rugg, formulas for drawing,
Simple, a cone is 1/3 the volume of a cylinder of the same diameter and height, so a 3 inch taper will increase the length by 9 inches.
   - JimG - Wednesday, 11/27/02 21:39:13 GMT

Here's a neat way to make a silver band type ring. We used to make these in the Navy when we had way too much time on our hands. Take a SILVER (pre 1964) half dollar coin and just keep tapping on it's edge with a soup spoon. With time and many thousands of hits you will slowly upset (cold forge?) the edge. When it is the size you want drill out most of the center web and finish file the hole to size. A girl's size ring will end up about 3/8" wide. The really neat thing is that the writing and date on the coin will be perfectly legible on the inside of the ring. This doesn't make a very ornate ring but the amount of time it takes MUST prove love.
   bbeck - Wednesday, 11/27/02 22:41:52 GMT

My dad made a ring like that once and the noise drove the rest of the family nuts! It does work just like you say, though.
   Mike Bowen - Wednesday, 11/27/02 22:45:56 GMT

Alva Allen: Tony, Are you sure it is a power hammer? All the Alva Allen machines I have seen were punch presses. These have a vertical ram operated by a crank coupled to a flywheel by either a mechanical or an air clutch. Due to the near impossibility of making the old fashioned dog clutch type punch presses safe to operate they are being scraped as fast as possible. The old clutches have a bad habbit of accidentlly engaging without warning OR double cyclying when they should only cycle once. The result can be the loss of fingers or hands in an instant. OSHA is trying to get these machines out of every place of employment and rightly so.

Eratz Fly Press: Mike, It sounds like you too may be dealing with a punch press. Cam operated, not crank?

An important aspect of a power hammer is linkage that it automaticaly compensates for length of stroke as the work is placed between and removed form the dies and as the stock height changes. The most efficent way of doing this in mechanical hammers is with the toggle linkage invented by DuPont and adopted by every other mechanical hammer maker. See Champion, Fairbanks and Little Giant hammers.

In a punch press enormous forces are created by the turning flywheel. In normal use only 15% are used per stroke. The machine MUST complete the full travel of the stroke and return. IF you try to punch a hole that is more than the machine can handle OR try forging more material than is possible, the machine stalls and the force spikes to almost 7 times the design load. Something ALWAYS breaks. Sometimes it is the tool (punch), clutch or the crank shaft. I have seen the shaft on stalled punch presses shear at the side bearing and the turning flywheel drop off and run across the shop. . . luckily it was a very small punch press and no one was killed. I have a box of punches from an old 40 ton mechanical ironworker that operates on the same principle. Several of the hardened steel punches are accordian shaped from trying to stall the machine.

Punch presses CAN be used for carefully engineered forging operations. But I do not use the two two qualifiers "carefully" and "engineered" lightly when applied to these machines.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/28/02 00:05:52 GMT

Guru, I have a haybudden anvil that I cant figure the weight on. The way I understand the markings are the first number = 112 lbs. second number = 28 lbs or one quarter 112 lbs. and the last number = the odd pounds. The markings on the anvil are 1 4 9 hence my confusion. Did hay budden use this method to mark the weight of the anvil? If so how do you read the middle 4. Thank you
   triw - Thursday, 11/28/02 00:07:12 GMT

drawing a taper, quench and JimG. i find it hard to imagine that using 1/2 sq and tapering 3" will lengthen the piece by 9"! the essence of the traditional smith is that nothing is added or taken away, only the form changes; volume doesnt change. the length of a taper is measured from the end to the parent shape of the stock, i think. with this in mind, if you begin the taper @ the end (some of us do it that way ) and continue until it measures 3" (to a point), what would the predicted gain in length be?

i guess that i could take a piece of round stock, 1/2" X 3" and calculate the volume pi(r)(r)(h).
now use that volume and the diameter(i know, figure out the radius first) of the piece to solve for h using the cone formula. h-h1= gain in length...

answer: approx 6"

this is for round stock...i suppose you could use the same formulas for sq leaving out Pi...

the meat of the original question/comment was, " is there a quick rule of thumb to estimate the gain in length when drawing to a taper (a pointed one)"??? guru frank, et al, what do you teach your students??

input from quench and jim appreciated...if my calcs are flawed, let me know...
   - rugg - Thursday, 11/28/02 01:28:30 GMT

Triw, Hay Budden used pounds. It weighs 149lbs. +/-1 (unless a part is missing).

Amount of material to forge taper: A wedge takes half the material of a rectangle so it is twice as long as the original material. Pyramids and cones are 1/3 the material of of an equivalent square, round or Ngon. A sphere is 2/3 an equivalent cube. If you want all the ratios see MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK.

I never measure these things, I just forge it. If two parts are to match I start with the same material. If I am matching an existing part I forge one end, and cut off guessing at the needed material if there is a taper or cone. (visualizing the growth in length in my miond). A very slight change in a taper's length or the surface being concave or convex verse flat can make up a great deal of error. In most decorative work in say 1/2 to 5/8" material if your guess is within 1/4" of the original stock length it is as good as perfect. The larger the work the larger the tolerance.

Locating holes and whether they are drilled, punched or slit is an altogether different thing and they are ALWAYS measured (or transfered) and various compensations made for punched and or slit holes they can lengthen OR shorten the distance between centers and the overall length. Generally test samples are needed to make an exact determination but you CAN estimate the effects. But generally it is too complex to calculate so samples are always required.

Measuration: Some of these issues are a combination of shop experiance, practiced judgement and having studied layout and knowing how to measure and translate dimensions. I think most demonstrators and instructors that get very annal about the subject are wasting their time. If the student hasn't the math skills, studied drafting (at LEAST a high school introductory class) and practiced measuring (which side of the 3/4" mark is 13/16") then the lessons are a waste. IF the student has done these things OR taken the time to learn them on their own then they will be able to figure it out and the pedantic lessons are a waste of time. For those that DON'T KNOW. . you have to start at the begining. Simple math and measuration, basic geometry (if you can't remember a LITTLE something about the Pythagorian theorem and when to apply it then you are in trouble in the shop).

You know the old student complaint, "This will never come up in real life" Well, when you go into the shop or a job site, REAL LIFE has just caught up with you! In the English measurment system fractions still RULE in North America and are still heavily used in a few other supposedly "officialy" metric countries. Fractions are algebraic (good for the brain) and need to be practiced (what is 3/8 + 1/4). In many cases they are best converted to decimal equivalents. You SHOULD know .5, .25, .125, .0625 and be able to add and subtract then well enough to figure out IF you don't know 3/8 = .375. 3/16 = .1875, 3/4 = .75. . . AND you need to know how to use the metric system or AT LEAST know mm from cm from m. . .

I had a fellow in a welding shop layout a big piece of work in 1" plate and torch it out. He had various pieces ready to weld together when he asked me to check it. When I looked I was SHOCKED! The part was less than half size! I asked to look at my drawing. Yep. . it was right. I checked the part. It made NO sense. I asked the fellow how he had measured the part. . . . He pulls out his personal tape measure with METRIC and English scales. . . He had used cm for inches! The drawing was clearly marked in inches having the word INCHES in several of the dimensions. I asked the fellow if he knew the difference between the Metric system and English system. . I just got a blank stare. REAL life had caught up with a fellow with 13 years in the ship yard as a welder who claimed to be a "fitter".

Fences, gates, rails, plate layout. . all require some mathematical skill or at the absolute least, a knowledge of what you DO NOT know. . . so you can look it up.

Generally when I am smithing I measure very little on creative work. But I do not avoid it. However, when you work in the shop long enough you learn to judge an inch or a centimeter to less than 10% and you know a #10-24 screw from a 1/4"-24 or a 5/16"-18 by just looking. There are also times when you need to get out the calculator and use the square root of A squared plus B squared. . . It lets you make things large and small absolutely square using nothing more than a tape measure.

But if a student (or apprentice) can't do these things. . then explaining about swell shortening the work .150" per hole based on the given sample and the effect being cummulative with each hole . . . is a waste of both instructor's and student's time.

To everyone in North American, enjoy your Thankgiving! Time for me to take a break. . . sorry, no demo tonight. :(
   - guru - Thursday, 11/28/02 01:35:39 GMT

I am trying to find some information on a Beaudry powerhammer. There is one at the mill where I work that has not been used in the last few years.The serial # is 2064 and on the hammeris 4H. I would like to know what size hammer this is and a ball park figure of what it would be worth, it is in fair shape according to the last man that used it. I am a boilermaker by trade and have 23 yrs experience. Years ago when I was just getting started I had the oportunity to help the blacksmith on several occasions and have always been fascinated by the trade. I am planning on doing some work on the side once I get my shop at home set up and would love to have this hammer. If you could answer my question or steer me in the right direction I would really appreciate it. Thanks
   Mark - Thursday, 11/28/02 01:54:36 GMT

Mark, You need to contact Bruce Wallace he has what is left of Beaudry

   - guru - Thursday, 11/28/02 04:13:17 GMT

tapering etc,
I guess I missread that, I was thinking a twoway taper not a oneway. And then there's the amount of stock you started with to be taken into account, all I know is if I heat the end of a rod, and start the taper (cone shaped) one inch from the end, starting from the base that one inch of hot metal is now 3 inches long. Confused? I know I am! (insert gratuitious smiley face here)
   - JimG - Thursday, 11/28/02 05:03:15 GMT

Hello! I make jewelry out of silver and gold, but I just made a ring using a piece of my blacksmith-friend's cast-off Damascus as a "stone." However, I'm more interested in making Damascus rings with gold/silver liners. Any suggestions? Is it possible to buy a bar and use a lathe to machine outer ring blanks? Seems like a terrible waste of material. I'm concerned about silver soldering a piece of Damascus and then not having the pattern match up.
(I am experienced at fabricating jewelry, but know next to nothing about blacksmithing.) Any or all advice would be greatly appreciated.
   Chris Weston - Thursday, 11/28/02 07:37:27 GMT

try this website for Atlas lathe worshippers

Good Guru; I recently got a cute little Hawkeye Helve Hammer with a similar history plus some serious longterm lack of oil. They tried to soup it up by adding steel straps to the top and bottom of the helve, it looks like. Sigh. She is probably recoverable, but it is extra work now.
Anybody (California)hot for a poor little Hawkeye Hammer?

   - Pete F - Thursday, 11/28/02 07:56:17 GMT


Were they trying to soup it up, or were they trying to repair a cracked helve?
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 11/28/02 10:41:00 GMT

Rugg, The angle of the taper will determine the ultimate length of the part. Theoretically, you could take a one inch long piece and draw it out to be miles long (stress the word "theoretically"). If I am making two identical pieces, I cut two pieces the same length and keep comparing them as I am working. If I have chosen to start with a piece too long, I just hot cut it off of the big end. Wasteful but necessary while we are learning. I have occasionally used calipers but that seems to be an un-necessary complication for making tongs or nutcracker handles. This seems to be one of those things that experience does better than math.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/28/02 14:54:43 GMT

my brother recently gave me a British " Alcosa " bellows an older wood and leather style bellows. Where on the internet could I find a photo of one of these to prove to him what it was used for. He feels it is a divers bellow, I say it is a blacksmithing tool. Dan
   Dan Rivett - Thursday, 11/28/02 15:01:04 GMT

Help! I need to know the cubic feet per minute of air a chambersberb 200# utility hammer will use if I run it at full speed continuously?? The bore is 5" and Stroke is 16" and the inlet pipe is 1" I.D., and I will be running at 100 psi. Steve in DeSoto MO
   Steve - Thursday, 11/28/02 15:08:26 GMT

DanR- Logic should be enough to convince him without pictures. At only 30 feet depth, the bellows would have to supply air at 15 psi just to push the water out of the air line. For every additional 30 feet of depth, it takes another 15 psi. Personally, I don't think a leather bellows would stand that pressure. The pictures I recall seeing of old divers' pumps were more of the box bellows type, using a "piston" arrangement.

Your bellows might have been used by a blacksmith, foundryman or other metalworker, but unlikey it was used for divers.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/28/02 15:28:07 GMT

Steve- A pneumatic cylinder 5" by 16" using 100 psi supply and cycling with one stroke every second will use 93 cfm. That 1 stroke/sec is slow for a power hammer, though. At twice that, still a bit slow for a hammer that size, it will take twice as much air. That's according to an air calc program I use.

You can get the program (free) at www.4tsi.com.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/28/02 15:34:26 GMT

you can by preforged damascus bar stock at most knife shows, or from knife supply out fits, and our own grandpa makes some of the BEST in the world,(look in the links page for a link to his site.) most bar I have seen is 1/4"-3/8" thick and 1 1/2"- 3" so i would think you could get one peice rings out of it by treepaning(SP?) then turning on a lathe. if it was me I would talk to one of the makers and ask them to make up a billet of mild/nickel and finsh the bar to 1" (squareish) with that you would still get really well defined patern. but it would be a bit easier to work and you wouldn't have to worry about the hardness.
   MP - Thursday, 11/28/02 15:36:30 GMT

Chambersburg CFM: Steve, rarely does a forging machine get run continously. AND to provide the high flow of air when in operation Chambersburg recommends a large air reciever (tank) mounted as close as possible to the hammer with a large pipe between the two (no smaller than the fitting on the vlave).

If you want the air capacity as you describe it there is a link to a site with a program called "pneumacalc" in our review of the Mark Linn Video "Controlling your Air Hammer" (just updated).

In my Chambersburg general manual all the graphs for air and steam consumption start with 1,000 pound hammers. 200CFM is where the chart starts.

For the 200# Utility hammer they recommend a 7.5HP (Internal cumbustion) Compressor 110 PSI, with an 11 CuFt reciever. But when we did our hammer comparison article in 1998 Chambersburg recommended a 10HP electric air compressor for the 100 pound Utility hammer.

AND. . somewhere burried in all my STUFF I have a manual for a 300# Utility hammer but I couldn't lay my hands on it. . . . I need about a month off to just organize my office!
   - guru - Thursday, 11/28/02 17:41:13 GMT

QC, Logic failed. . . The angle of the taper is irrevelent. A cone or pyramid shape of ANY length will need to start with material 1/3 the finished length. And flat tapers (a wedge) 1/2 the finished length. Now, CURVATURE of the surface does make a difference and as I noted, it is easy to control the exact length by fudging on the flattness of a taper.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/28/02 17:45:56 GMT

I need new mud flaps for my truck, and some where I've seen a picture of a set that had a blacksmith on them. But now that I need a set, of course I can't find the darn things. Anybody else seen them and remember where?
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 11/28/02 18:01:02 GMT

Guru, I was refering to the included angle at the thin end of the piece. It seems that as the piece is drawn out longer this angle would get smaller. However, as you noted, I may be observing the effect that flatness of the taper has on length. Funny, I don't remember thinking about any of this when I am drawing out a piece.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/28/02 18:08:18 GMT

Damascus Jewelery: Chris, The pattern of the laminated steel is determined by how the billet is cut. Machining it round would produce a pattern somewhat like a turned piece of wood depending on the original pattern and the orientation of the material. For making a ring you may want a billet with a thick section so that you can cut the ring at different angles depending on the desired results.

Steel is much stronger than silver and gold. A simple unsoldered butt joint (carefully filed square then closed) is probably strong enough as long as the steel is not too thin. Since you are going to line the ring in soft metal the joint would not rub or pinch the skin.

An alternative to machining is to have the rings punched (a small hole) and then forged to a larger diameter on a mandrel. This is common in forging large steel parts. It will have a tremondous effect on the pattern of the Damascus but it may be intresting. It is very efficeint use of metal and produces an endless (jointless) ring.

Part of the process of making pattern welded steel is to waste material. Billets are forged with flat laminations. Then patterns are cut into the billet and it is forged flat again. As much as a third to half of the original billet may be wasted in producing the pattern. THEN the rectangular billet is turned into a blade by stock removal reducing the mass by at least another 50%. In first class pattern welded blades the end result is 15 to 20% of the original material (not including scale losses). SO. . . machining a ring out of a billet may not be as wasteful as you think (in comparison).

For blade work alloys are selected that produce the most contrast when etched but are still good blade steels. For purely decorative work it is common to use alloys that produce the wanted contrast but are too soft to be a good edge. One popular combination is pure nickle and wrought or pure iron. Not only does this produce a brilliant contrast but it can also produce a high relief when etched.

Then there is Mokume' Gane' . . . and it IS possible to create ferrous/non-ferrous bar. . . :)
   - guru - Thursday, 11/28/02 18:11:28 GMT

does any one knoe the voltage/speed and amperage settings for a MIG welder
or any site i can visit
thanks TIM
   Tim - Thursday, 11/28/02 20:22:54 GMT

Tim, You will need to find manuals for specific machines and you need to define the problem better.

The variables are:

Metal thickness
Type of joint
Wire size and type (plain or flux core)
Cover gas
Transfer process (dip or spray).

All these vary the voltage and wire feed rates.

IF you select a machine, the manufacturer MAY sell you a manual for it. Small relatively low power MIG welders are dip transfer. Larger more powerful welders are spray transfer. Some machines let you run flux core wire and others do not. Cover gases can be helium, argon, CO2 or CO2/argon mixed.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/28/02 21:29:01 GMT

Guru, After much thinking while gnawing at my turkey leg at dinner today, I must agree with your comment regarding the angle of the taper. A PERFECT conical taper can have only one perfect length when drawn from a piece of a given size and diameter. Fortunately, I do not deal in perfect cones and 3 x the starting length is close enough for me. Also, did you really mean pure iron and nickel would give the highest contrast in a pattern welded material? I would have expected a medium or higher carbon steel would give better contrast.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/28/02 23:25:28 GMT

I'm an English Literature academic editing a play from 1680 in which there is an anti-catholic comment that 'St Peter's keys open all Italian locks'. I've read your web-page with interest; is it the case, please, that Italian locks of this period would have been particularly complicated? (There's just a possibility, of course, that this is merely a risque joke--the quotation, not my question).
Thank you for considering this, whether you can help or not.
School of English,
St Andrews University.
   Barbara Murray - Friday, 11/29/02 14:12:36 GMT


this is more of a safety question than a material use question.

i am concerned about using c360 brass (free machining brass)
instead of c260 (cartridge brass). i am concerned about the lead in C360.
i would rather use harris-welco 15 bare brazing rod 1/4" but that has proven to be difficult to find locally. i have
found harris-welco 15 bare brazing rod in 1/16, 1/8, and 3/16" sizes.

what are the legimate concerns in using c360?

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Friday, 11/29/02 14:37:19 GMT

Hot Set Sharpening:

Even with a soft backing plate on the step and a quick quench after each dozen hits, I noticed that the edge of my 1" hot set was getting a bit battered and dull. It's not so mashed that I can't make out the original grind angle, but should I grind it to an actual angle, or leave a slight rounding? Also, I notice that my cold sets are crowned. The hot set (and most of my chisels) have a straight edge. Would a slight crown be a good idea?

Partly sunny and cold on the banks of the Potomac. We ate well, and were thankful.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 11/29/02 15:22:06 GMT

Guru, I heard that you can run a gas welder/cutter off propane. What set up does this require? HOw effective it run this way? Thank you William
   triw - Friday, 11/29/02 17:07:58 GMT


using propane instead of acetylene requires:

grade t welding hose.
propane regulator
propane cutting and welding tip for your oxy-fuel torch.

propane is more convenient than acetylene.
comparing cost depends on where you are located and local

i am not sure what you mean by 'effective'. i use both propane and acetylene. each has their own criteria for use.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Friday, 11/29/02 17:19:35 GMT

Dr. Murray, the Guru will have to address the issue of lock mechanisms but it seems that the quotation may simply be political. It may mean that as long as the Bishop of Rome held primacy in the Catholic Church, the church leadership would always open the doors of opportunity to other Italians first. Seems that way now, at any rate.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 11/29/02 18:45:14 GMT

I still think a spring blacksmith is something like a spring chicken. As i mentioned, I knew blacksmiths who spent their day drawing leaf springs to a taper. What they used for this is interesting in it self. The shop I remember had 300 pound Beaudrys running about 350 blows per minute! I know that's way too fast in "normal" situations, but the Beaudry can be adjusted for almost any special case. Because of the spring steel they were working with they wanted heavy blows, thus the 300 pound hammers. Because they were drawing (in taper dies) they wanted rapid blows. To do this they adjusted the stroke of the hammers very short and tightened the springs up as tight as they would go. Now they had a hard hitting, fast hammer ideal for what they were doing. Back when I had a Beaudry I thought about putting a step pulley setup on it to change the speed range for different jobs, never did though. Very versitile hammers.
   - grant - Friday, 11/29/02 19:12:00 GMT

JimG, et al..more on the tapering issue. one could look at this exchange as trivial, but when i hear that thanksgiving dinner was interupted by pondering this topic, this is why we post and reply.

JimG, what is a "two way taper"?? purely speaking, i was looking at cones or tetrahedrans (four sided pyramids). not confused by your comment on 11/28. that is actually what i originally was looking for. there is a math explaination for what you practice. in the shop, rough estimates based on what experience has taught you will give good results without refering to chart or calculating it out. even if you start the taper from the end of the stock (like i do and i believe guru frank does also), the length of the stock will gain X" if you put a one inch taper on one end, 2X if both ends are tapered the same.

QC, i am surprised that you did not check my math. i solved for h by using the known values of base area and volume. i found this works for cones or pyramids.

why did i bring this up??? to best estimate lengths of stock so i cut once. with a full scale drawing, measuring the length of a scrolled piece is not difficult. putting two 3" tapers on that piece and forming it to fit the drawing would be hit and miss, several times before you get it to fit knowing that a gain in length will be seen with tapering. so if there was a method of calcualting or estimating what length you should start with, one could cut the pieces first (and once) and make any minor adjustments later if necessary. the finnished piece should be very close to the drawing and any adjustments could be made for the piece to fit perfectly. guru jock posted that he makes the taper on one end first, then cuts the other end at the appropriate length to finnish it. obviously works very well for him.

i will test the math calcs in practice to see what really happens. i can not put a razor sharp point on a taper so it will be interesting to see how much the imperfections in the taper influence the actual gain in length vs the calculated gain.

i will post my findings if there is interest. i know that this topic is trivial to most of the experienced smiths out there and i am not critical of this. i just dont want to waste my time posting this info if no one finds any value or interest in it...like a lot of us, time away from the forge generates much thought and questions. the rookie that i am, i can only believe that comming here and studying will help me learn more and create some impressive work. for that, i am greatful to the gurus and the others that take the time to share and advise.....
   - rugg - Friday, 11/29/02 19:19:21 GMT


I applaud your wanting to understand what happens. In most situations the finished length is more impotant than the taper itself. For this reason I always use 2X and 3X for flat tapers and pyramids. If one comes out short you just work it a little more. In making tapers I always start with the point and work back, waty too easy to make too long a taper if you work the other way.

Uh-oh, I guess the spring smith question was on the virtual hammer-in page. Oh well.
   - grant - Friday, 11/29/02 19:51:40 GMT

'St Peter's keys open all Italian locks' Barbara, I suspect that was hyperbole? or satire. It probably refers to the belief that all Italians were Catholic or the strength of the Catholic church in Italy and has nothing to with locks per se. I think Quenchcrack said it better above.

Locks of the time were complex in artistry but not in mechanical operation. They would have been simple warded locks. These were state of the art and considered secure for the times. Work of Italian locksmiths of the time would have been equivalent to or better than some of those in the rest of Europe. So, any English reference to Italian locks and keys was symbolic.

Anti-Catholic feelings ran high even in the American Colonies where we were supposedly fleeing religious persceution. In Colonial Virginia a white Protestant marrying a Catholic was considered as bad or worse than marrying a black or indian. It was grounds for disowning a family member and it makes tracing genealogies of the period difficult (that is where I learned of the power of anti-Catholic feelings of the times).
   - guru - Friday, 11/29/02 20:27:14 GMT

Tapers? My head's swimmin' again from all the taper geometry. I usually do a test piece on a piece of scrap of the right thickness, width, or diameter. Measure the overall length of scrap before hammering. When the taper is finished to the proper length, measure overall again. The difference is how much parent stock it takes for the draw. Scale loss is normally not an issue. Or did I miss something in the initial question?
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/29/02 20:35:18 GMT

Oxy-Propane Cutting: Triw, as Terry noted there are some differences in equipment. Cutting tips are a two piece shell on core design with fine jets to break up the heavy propane. But with that exception many folks just screw their acetylene regulator onto a propane bottle and go to it.

There is a considerable difference in the characteristic of the flame and it is not quite as hot. Starting and maintaining cuts is a little more difficult.

Almost ALL commercial machin flame cutting is done using oxy-propane.

The last shop I was in that had a bulk propane cylinder I rigged up a manifold for the torches in the welding shop. A wall mount safety chain was installed next to the manifold for the oxygen bottle. It was very convienient for fixed location use. But you can also use little 20 pound exchange bottles.
   - guru - Friday, 11/29/02 20:42:46 GMT

FRANK! For heavens sake, don't let them think it's all that simple! If they knew how easy it was, everyone would be doing it! A little trig, some geometry, maybe a little algebra and calculus, baffle 'em with bull! Scale loss? Yeah, let's throw in 5% for that. You know, I've seen that figure used, but I think it comes from drop forging. I've seen those guys lose 5% to scale before they've had it out of the fire once! Remember: they won't believe you're an expert if they can understand what you're talking about!
   - grant - Friday, 11/29/02 21:00:19 GMT

Rugg, I hated math. Yup, just hated it and sweat putty balls getting through 3 semesters of Calculus. Thats why I'm a metallurgist...we are sworn never to give a straight answer to anything and using math contradicts our oath.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 11/29/02 21:38:37 GMT

Frank, I am with you on this one. Forged tapers are something you just go out in the shop and DO.

Rugg, geometric tapers are fine but what are you going to do with more typical terminators? These are fishtail scrolls often with grooves texturing them. Snub end scrolls with "sort of" cylindrical ends. Spiral ends that are scrolled up from tapers many feet long that are sometimes narrower than the bar OR wider than the bar (like a fishtail). Then there are leaves, flowers and animal heads. . .

As soon as you deviate from purely geometrical and use curved surfaces (most tapers do) then the length and range from 1/2 to 4 x. Often you have both convex and concave surfaces on what LOOKS like a flat taper. I can give you a formula for this but it will use sine functions and a BUNCH of steps including roots. . . and would take a day or two to figure it out for multi-dimensional curves. . .

The most sophisticated thing I have done in THIS regard in the shop is to make scrolls on two pieces of bar of known length, fit to the jig or drawing, then cut the extra out. This in turn gave me an exact length for the next 24 pieces that had to be that shape with snub end scrols. It only took a few minutes to do and the results are perfect.

   - guru - Friday, 11/29/02 21:56:45 GMT

You mean I'm not the ONLY blacksmith that has forged a scroll on both ends of a bar, cut a piece out of the middle and welded it back together to make sure it was the right length???

   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/29/02 22:11:54 GMT

Leaded Brass: Most brasses have some lead, even forging brasses. The free machining varieties generally have more and can cause some problems when heating to forge.

What is in metals becomes more of a problem when you are finishing such as in buffing. However, copper dust is toxic as are all heavy metals including lead. You do not want to ingest or absorb either and BOTH can be absorded through the skin, inhaled or ingested from touching your cloths and hands to handling food.

Don't tell me you are worried about lead and then go polishing copper alloys without a good respirator.

OR are worried about a little coal smoke and then go light up a cigarette. .

   - guru - Friday, 11/29/02 22:18:51 GMT

Grant, I need a copy of the Off-Center logo. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/29/02 22:24:37 GMT

nickel and any other iron alloy will give a good contrast as nickel doesn't etch very much and any Iron will, with plain iron the I ron will etch black and the nickel will stay bright, the only large down side of nickel is that it will not readily weld to it's self so the billet needs to be formed with that in mind (so that two layer of nickel don't come in contact.)
   MP - Saturday, 11/30/02 00:21:58 GMT

hello guru;

i would love to have a little coal smoke, but around here coal
is nearly impossible to find. with as much propane as i use i
would need a good 12 tons of coal a year. for that much coal
it is not economical to pay per 40/50 lb bag prices.
therefore, i do not have a coal forge. i did build a nice one several years ago and tried anthracite coal. it
is very different than good blacksmith coal. a little easier
to find around here, but still ridiculous in price. basically, $1.00 usd per lb.

i have a good respirator which i use. my concern is for the people to whom or for whom i make items.

what concerns are there if i made folded-crosses from c360
1/4" square for necklaces?
what concerns are there if i make brass candlesticks, similar to your iforge demo, for the end-users?

what finishes would 'seal' the brass to minimize the lead

by brass above i include copper, brass, and bronze .

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 11/30/02 00:44:40 GMT


I think what Jock was trying to say is that the lead hazard from leaded brass is minimal to the end user.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/30/02 01:02:10 GMT

hello paw paw;

sometime you are going to have to tell me how you got that
from what jock wrote. i trust your reading. however, i did
not get anything close to that when i read it.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 11/30/02 01:56:38 GMT

Ref Guru Helper Bruce. Did anyone ever respond about hot sets, setts, chisels, cuts? Gool ol' boys call them hot and cold cuts, if they are hafted. The author John Lord Bacon says to dress the hot cutting angle to "about 30", which I do. And the author Ernst Schwarzkopf, shows a "slit chisel" with two radiused, cutting edge corners...which I follow. The radius helps to keep the corners from rolling over while in the hot stock. Whether a crowned cutting edge or straight doesn't seem to matter, unless you are cutting a specific cross section...or, the crowned edge DOES make it easier to rock the tool along like a p-38 can opener, without coming out of a looong cut. A desirable thing.

Quench after every two or three licks, instead of every 10 or 12, especially if the chisel is high carbon steel, and not Hot Work steel.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/30/02 02:50:42 GMT

Terry, I was trying to read his mind. I can be wrong, and might have been. Wouldn't be the first time by a long shot. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/30/02 04:18:15 GMT

Terry Ridder- The lead hazard to the end user of a necklace made from free macining brass, forging brass, bronze or most any copper alloy is just about nil. Lead is pretty inert, as heavy metals go, and not readily absorbed through the skin. Unless it is inhaled or ingested, or if it is finely powdered, it won't cause a problem. The copper, on the other hand, may be more easily absorbed by the skin as the acids present in perspiration will attack copper slightly, and form other compounds that can be absorbed a bit. That's why cheap copper-based rings turn you finger green after a while. As for the health effects, well, there is a whole school of thought that holds that wearing copper is beneficial for arthritis. Your mileage may vary.

As Jock said, breathing the dust from buffing is way more dangerous than wearing a piece of brass. The finer the particles, the more readily it can be absorbed by the lungs and the stomach.

In much of the Third World, most of the jewelry is made of brass or bronze, both crudely refined, and frequently lead soldered. The high mortality rate there from lead is caused by pellets of lead traveling at high speed from projectile weapons, not from the lead in the jewelry. They've been making and wearing the stuff since the Bronze Age.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/30/02 04:27:05 GMT

guru jock, after all of the math talk, we finally got back to my original question, that is how do the "gurus" do it? three gurus responded, and i have what i was looking for. this is the value of this site; throw something out and digest the replies. i learned something from all of it...believe it or not, this does make a difference when i go to the forge..thanks again
   - rugg - Saturday, 11/30/02 05:04:42 GMT


I've got a close buddy, VietVet Brother, that collects what he calls "logo" golf balls. He likes to get them from different countries and different clubs all over the world. I'd like to give him some for Christmas, if they don't cost me a fortune in shipment. Just one from each place.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/30/02 05:19:22 GMT

Good point PPW; The helve looks pretty dried out and fragile.
Dan R. a blacksmiths bellows is designed to move volume at modest pressure. A diver's bellows whould have to produce a lot of pressure to be of much use..have very heavy construction and long lever handles.

Well, following the good Guru's opinion, I didn't pass the recent opportunity to buy 2 old drill presses when they were cheap. The big old flat belt beast is a long term project...even getting it into position is a project much less coping with it's being out in the salt air for the last few years.
The smaller one is a hand crank Cannedy-Otto with 2 flywheels and compound gearing, In pretty nice shape save 2 things..It is missing i'ts table ( can fake that) and part of the automatic feed is gone. The automatic feed art with it's little dog that pushes on the advancing wheel is all there to just past the pivot bolt. What is missing is from the pivot bolt down to the eccentric. Was the missing piece just a leg that rides on the eccentric or was it a fork or was there a motion limiting joint in there? At the break there is evidence of a small socket for perhaps a 1/4"rod that I couldn't figure out. Was it a small spring socket?
Any hints appreciated.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 11/30/02 08:13:36 GMT


Take a picture and send it to me. I'll take a picture of the corresponding part on my drill press and send it to you.

Sounds like the part that has an adjusting bolt to control the number of teeth the dog engages on each rotation of the main gear.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/30/02 09:54:09 GMT

FOLLOW UP QUESTION: Thanks, for the formula for calculating
air cyl usage, I have the 200# Chambersberg hammer, how many blows per minute can I get running at full speed, The caluclation to figure cubic feet of air used needs to have the number of strokes per minute to figure the cfm used. Do you know the maximun blows per minute a #200 Chambersberg air hammer is rated? thanks, Steve
   steve - Saturday, 11/30/02 15:47:45 GMT

Blows per Minute: Steve, Chambersburg did not give this value for any of their machines except the self-contained hammers.

In industry these little hammers 500 pounds and less were considered tool dressing hammers and were usualy a piece of maintenance equipment that went with a much larger hammer. These were not considered production machines and are not given a place on any of the graphs, charts and many part cost estimates. However, they also do not give blows per minute for the big hammers either. But on the LARGE hammers designed to stamp out a part in one blow, they give "base" blows per hour starting around 180 (3 per minute). Generaly the limitation is how fast the work can be moved in and out of the machine.

Steam/air hammers vary greatly in their rate of operation depending on the stroke and the height of the work. When set for short stroke they can operate much faster than at long stroke. The rate is also determined by the piping size and design. A fairly straight full size pipe should run from the reciever to the hammer. But if the length of the pipe is over 30 feet Chambersburg recommends using the next size pipe. Otherwise the hammer may starve for air and not reach its maximum potential.

Efficiency can vary as much as 2.5:1 depending on the condition of the hammer. Rings wear and valves leak. The balanced valve design in these hammers can lose a LOT of air directly to the exhust if the valve is worn.

You can run a 500 pound utility hammer on a 10HP air compressor. But the compressor will only be good for single heats with a rest between heats and the compressor running continously. You also need to consider that most compressors are designed for a 50% duty cycle. Whatever their CFM you should cut in half for continous use. Industrial duty compressors will generaly state their duty cycle but home/shop compressor manufacturers like to forget this little tidbit of information as "inconsequential".

The 200 pound self contained Chambersburg hammer is rated at 200 blows per minute. I would guess this would be close to the norm for the Utility hammer.

However, unless you have some kind of continous feed production process in mind the rate of operation is much less on average and is effected by things like how long the work stays hot, how long it takes to move the work in and out of the hammer, how much time you spend positioning tools. . . . The only continous production operations I have seen hammers used for is cold texturing stock and we even saw a Nazel 3B used for a rock crusher. . . actually a carbide crusher. A seriously molested machine.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/30/02 16:57:21 GMT

Drill Feed Levers: Pete, normaly the lever was designed to be heavy on the end that ran on the excentric and it just rode on the surface. My old drill had an end that looked like a rabbit foot or a tear drop that was flat underneigth. It had a hole drilled at the contact point for a wad of thick grease (see 21st Century page article).

The working end varies with the model and manufacturer. My old Champion had the ratchet on top of the hand wheel. Some are underneath and some on the flywheel (left) side.

The Canedy Otto Western Chief #15 that we show in our book review of the Canedy Otto catalog is this type. Click the image for a detail.

There is also a picture of a drill in our Buffalo Forge CD review. These show the under the handwheel type which had a little spring to engage the ratchet paw (underneath type).

Then on the 21st Century page we have a couple images of post drills. The Sears Acme has the feed arm on the flywheel side like the Canedy Otto mentioned above.

My old drill that I mounted on my Portable Forge trailer had an unbelievable amount of wear on some parts and the column socket was broken off. The feed ratchet paw had a notch worn in it which I brazed up and dressed to proper shape. I made a seperate non-adjustable table and used a block of wood with steps cut into it for height adjustment. Paw-paw still uses the old rough block of wood I cut with a chain saw. . .

Paw-paw, go oil the drill press and vise NOW!
   - guru - Saturday, 11/30/02 17:23:42 GMT


In my experience these small hammers use way more air than what the calculations would indicate. Usually the throttle and motion valve are fitted pretty loose to run on steam. Huge losses there. IF the hammer is tight it should run O.K. on around 200 C.F.M. That's a lot of air, like 25-30 H.P.

The valving on these is actually a "servo" and is meant to duplicate the motion valves action by the driver. The fact that they will run "automatic" is what's known as "hunting" due to the elasticty of the air and the high inertia of the ram. When they hit the work there is already air in the bottom of the cylinder pushing it back up. I don't think the air consumption ratings are for automatic running, as this was rarely done in steam hammer shops.

Setting the throttle valve so the hammer will "idle" when you let off on the treadle seems to use less air than letting it just drop down to the bottom die. Makes it easier to get the work in when you walk up to the hammer too. Otherwise you have to "tickle" the throttle just right to get the hammer to kick into automatic. Otherwise the hammer will just raise up and "hang". The 500 pound and up kick in a lot easier.

Good luck! Oh yeah, that hammer can run 200 - 250 blows per minute on 120 psi.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/30/02 17:45:45 GMT

Why? They've got water pump grease on them. Been there for years, still doing the job. Notice any stiffness in either of them yet? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/30/02 18:56:25 GMT

hello guru;

would you have a brand name or manufacturer name for low percentage silver silver solder that blends well with yellow

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 11/30/02 19:21:38 GMT

MP, I am still a bit bewildered. When you etch steel, it is the carbon remaining after the iron is eaten away that gives it a dark color. More carbon = darker color. Don Fogg and Jim Hrisoulis both suggest medium to higher carbon steel to achieve better contrast against nickel. In my experience, iron with low carbon will always etches lighter than iron with high carbon. Am I missing something here?
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/30/02 23:31:37 GMT


i found these low percentage silver silver solder at the below web page.


Filler Metal name: Braze 090
Typical Applications: For copper base alloys such as in band instruments;
or joint brazing-cyanide case hardening of steels.
Solidus: 1410'F/765'C
Liquidus: 1565'F/850'C
Max. Recom. Brazing Temp. 'F: 1665
Nominal Composition,%: 9Ag 53Cu 38Zn 18Cd
Joint Color as Brazed: Brass Yellow
Density Troy oz/cu in: 4.49

Filler Metal name: Braze 202
Typical Applications: For simultaneous brazing and heat treating of steels.
Solidus: 1315'F/710'C
Liquidus: 1500'F/815'C
Max. Recom. Brazing Temp. 'F: 1650
Nominal Composition,%: 20Ag 45Cu 35Zn
Joint Color as Brazed: Brass Yellow
Density Troy oz/cu in: 4.58

Filler Metal name: Braze 450
Typical Applications: For ships' piping, band instruments, aircraft engine oil
coolers, brass lamps.
Solidus: 1225'F/665'C
Liquidus: 1370'F/745'C
Max. Recom. Brazing Temp. 'F: 1550
Nominal Composition,%: 45Ag 30Cu 25Zn
Joint Color as Brazed: Yellow White
Density Troy oz/cu in: 4.80

would anyone have experience with these solders or type of solders.

   terry l. ridder - Sunday, 12/01/02 01:15:00 GMT

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