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

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

This is an archive of posts from November 1 - 8, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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Using a small oxy/acetylene torch with a set of jewelers tips, you can do the same things you can do with the Henrob. I've never used the Henrob, and I've only seen it demonstrated twice, but I've heard from folks who own them (but I have not confirmed) that the learning curve is fairly long.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 10/31/03 23:20:30 EST

I have a order for some 4X4 wood post toppers. Is there any ideas of a victorian but simple design?
   gonzo - Friday, 10/31/03 23:31:27 EST

PPW, have you talked with Ironwolf? Last I heard he loves his Henrob. But to be honest, I am not sure if he is a fair example, as I honestly think he could weld water to steel...( grin)
I would like a Henrob as a suplement to the other torch.... it is lighter and easier to hold especially for small delicate work
   Ralph - Saturday, 11/01/03 02:31:26 EST

S Gensh; A new neighbor came to me and asked if I could patch a hole in the skeg of his outboard motor. He had just moved up here from south Texas, and the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico had eaten a hole in it the size of a Quarter.I took a die grinder burr and cleaned up the edge of the hole, and then took a stick of flux coated aluminum electrode and an oxyacetylene welding blowpipe, and went around and around the hole, building up a bead until the hole was filled. Up 'til then, I didn't know I could do that. (But then, I didn't know I couldn't, either.) Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Saturday, 11/01/03 03:33:21 EST

For those looking for a tiny torch, look at the "little torch" that jeweler's use. The torch uses hypodermic needles for tips! Weighs about nothing, and if working small stuff unbeatable. As I remember, with the big tip it will melt an oz. of silver. For source, start with RIO GRANDE on the web.
   ptree - Saturday, 11/01/03 06:04:23 EST

dief, Go over to the keenjunk site and contact R.Smith, he has one of these hammers and forged some missing parts for his and is getting it running. Call Sid Suedmeier who owns Little Giant 402-873-6603, you can get babbit, belting, advice, ect. from him. Hes a very smart hammerman and will be glad to talk to you about them. He has rebuilt many types of hammers, tell him Robert down in Kansas sent you his way.
   - Robert-ironworker - Saturday, 11/01/03 11:14:08 EST

Gonzo; Home Depot carries a line of wooden post toppers, and if I'm not mistaken, some made of copper. (Or, resembling copper, anyway.) As Francis Whitaker used to say, "Steal with your eyes."
   3dogs - Saturday, 11/01/03 11:17:34 EST

I've worked with those hypo tips on jewelers' torches before... incredibly fun tips. Imagine a flame smaller than the tip of a #2 pencil... at 3000 degrees. Great for fine soldering; I'm going to be repairing my old CD player with mine soon. However, you have to remember to set your regulator pressures down a bit (varies with the tip) so that just cracking a handvalve open doesn't blow out your flame.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to clean out an O2 line? My friend's new Acetylene torch has been huffing and blowing itself out, and the store he bought it from says that the line is still partially clogged and to just blow out O2 until it's clear. I know not to use anything besides O2, otherwise flammables will get trapped in the line and we'll have an explosion, but I don't know what to do. We've blown out plenty and it still hasn't cleared. Suggestions?

Sunny, cool, and breezy in Aina Haina, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Saturday, 11/01/03 16:10:14 EST

Does anyone know how to contact an armor and swordmaker named CORY HURT? I apologize for posting a question not directly related to blacksmithing. Cory is a friend of Seth Dockstader, a man recently missing in the Arrowbear / Running Springs, California area of the San Bernardino Mountains . Seth's brother wanted to try to reach Cory. If anyone knows Cory, please email me at footageandframe@yahoo.com. I am an assistant film editor, just trying to help a friend as his brother is missing. Thank you--sorry for the intrusion.

   Jennifer Martinez - Saturday, 11/01/03 17:45:41 EST

3Dogs- I like the attitude. If your not SURE you can't do something you might as well try it. If you find you can't do it then it's time to learn why and try again. (of course this might not work out out so well with explosives or brain surgery!)
   SGensh - Saturday, 11/01/03 19:49:49 EST


Falling through the sky at 1,500 feet is no time to be reading the parachute manual!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/01/03 20:08:46 EST

Having fallen thru the sky at 1500 feet, without a working first parachute, it certainly was no time to be reading the manual!
   ptree - Saturday, 11/01/03 20:42:12 EST

Anyone who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane while it's up in the air is missing some critically important synapses, if you ask me! I did it once, and it only took two strapping big guys to pry my fingers loose fomr the door frame. (grin) I found that I didn't need to read anything at all to know that I never, ever wanted to go through that again.

Started laying block for the new shop today! Something else that nobody with good sense (and a well-padded checking account) would voluntarily do. So who ever said I had good sense?
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/01/03 21:11:06 EST

Combining military and skydiving jumps, I've got over 2,000 exits. Three main failures, I have all three reservie ripcords. Lowest jump, approximately 400 feet. (the WV air national guard pilot almost got shot!) He flew the longest active drop zone in the world, (Sicily DZ, Ft. Bragg, NC) sideways, climbing from 300 feet AGL, at 120 knots! (should have been 90 knots) Talk about opening shock! Highest drop, 19,000 feet with an O2 bottle. (never mind where/why)

VIC, Since you admit a lack of good sense, I can see why you can't understand the reasoning behind jumping from an aircraft in flight. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/01/03 21:29:21 EST

SGensh; This dialog reminded me of my very dear friend and mentor, Harry E. Smith. He had a welding shop near my home, and I started hanging around there at the age of 14. After several months of me getting underfoot, he must have figured I was teachable and that since I wasn't too ornamental, I'd better start being useful. God help the person who made the mistake of saying "I can't" in front of Smitty, with regard to a particular task. His response would invariably be, "Ah, yes, I saw I.Cant's obituary just recently. Sumbitch died in the poorhouse." I have passed that on to a great number of apprentices over the years, and I hope it was as effective on them as it was on me. Sixty-one years and still learnin'. 3dogs
   3dogs - Sunday, 11/02/03 01:47:27 EST

Hello Wendy:
You mean the Oliver in Hardy? The little treadle hammer that mounted in the hardy hole? Nope,still have it, nobody else loved it enough to run off with it..it's patient.

Chris; if you are not the sort of person who learns well from print, then the best thing to do is to join your local blacksmiths assn. or ABANA affiliate group. Most all of them have a basics workshops where you can use a forge nad anvil and have a good smith show you the ropes..er, hammers. I didn't know such groups existed before i'd made my 10,000th mistake trying to figure it out. There are links to most all of them here on Anvilfire. It's also a good place to buy used equiptment. There's generally a lot of support for a young person in the blacksmith groups.
SG, Ralph; I took the silly aluminum handle off my Henrod and like it better that way..
   - Pete F - Sunday, 11/02/03 02:18:35 EST

3dogs and SGensh, Not to beat the dead horse, but my long-ago horseshoeing mentor, Al Kremen, had a response for me when I said I was going to "try" something. He said, "Try hell; you're gonna' do it"!
On the other hand, the cowboys out this way use "try" with another connotation. If a kid keeps getting thrown off the bronc and keeps getting back on, they say, "He's got a lotta' try".
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/02/03 06:43:08 EST

I've been using a gas forge for about 2years with out replacing anything.Now when I run it I can sort of smell very faintly that propane smell.I've checked for leaks and can't find any.It seems to be comming from the hose it self but when I smell to hard it goes away
   Chris Makin - Sunday, 11/02/03 10:07:40 EST


Last I knew, Gary Gloyne of Mt. Shasta was selling the Henrob torches. He was pulling rusty pieces of sheet out of a bucket, rinsing them off with water, and welding them together with used copper wire.
   timh - Sunday, 11/02/03 10:25:07 EST

Thanks to everyone for the info. I'm also ordering the "Bang, Tap..." video from here. If you think of anything else let me know.
   Paul Dief - Sunday, 11/02/03 11:00:41 EST

Snorting Propane: Chris, get thee to a three step program. . . :)

First, have you REALLY checked everything for leaks? Propane is a heavy viscous gas that clings together. A VERY small leak can create pools or pockets of gas in your shop that as you walk through them you are disturbing them like kicking up dust. Your nose is a VERY good first line of defense. But after you have detected a leak with your nose then you must look for the leak with other methods.

Use a detergent and water mix or buy leak test from your welding supplier. Miniscule leaks can be detected easily by the bubbles. Test EVERYTHING from the tank valve packing and regulator attachment to the fittings on the forge. The only screw "fitting" that is not a seal is the regulator adjustment screw.

Check the hose ends and the entire length for cracks.

Check the valves while closed AND open. Packing wears out and a valve that doesn't leak when closed may leak when the forge is in operation. Check the cylinder valve in both positions too. Remove the forge to valve connection and check to be sure the valve seat is not leaking. A very small leak here can fill the forge with gas over time and the lining can absorb the gas. Gas in the porus refractory may be pushed out rather than burn.

Check the cylinder to regulator attachement. These are sensitive to rough handling and the sligtest nick on the spherical surface can result in a leak. Severe dings can damage the cylinder fitting.

Check the fittings on the forge.

OK, so there really are no leaks. Is the forge running too rich? Yes, you may be using the same setting but gas pressure gauges are notoriously inaccurate and go bad over time. The problem noted above about refractory absorbing gas can occur in a rich running forge. You may not smell the propane over the exhust gases when hot but it may show up as the forge is fired up. I have dissasembled forges that have not operated in several days and smelled the propane stink waft from the refractory.

Are there any obstructions in the burner or orifice? Corrosion and insects can be a problem. Burner ends often over heat and get full of scale OR rust. Clean scaled burner ends and coat with ITC-213.

How is the forge shell and lining? In two years you may have damaged enough of the lining for unburned fuel/air mix to be leaking out of some corner. OR the interior can just be so torn up that there is some kind of new turbulance problem. You may need to pack a little kaowool in some holes and coat with refractory or ITC-100.

Is the forge igniting as nicely as it did when new? A half second delay can put just enough raw gas in the air that you may smell it off and on in your shop for an hour or so depending on the ventilation.

Have you changed your shop configuration? Closed doors, opened windows? Closing up the shop seasonaly can create new conditions where you can smell fumes and exhust leaks that have been a problem all season. New windows can cause drafts that blow fumes in new directions or blow fumes out of a forge before they go up the flue. If the smell really is transient, such as from starting the forge, then it is not really a problem.

Is the leak in YOUR equipment? A neighbor can have a leaking cylinder (heating, camp equipment, camper) that you are sensitive to. OR maybe YOU have a second cylinder or a little disposable bottle that is leaking. . . Look carefully for all sources. It may not be just your equipment.

My bet is that it is a leak that you have not bubble tested for OR just a transient condition that closing up your shop has alerted you to.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/02/03 13:34:29 EST

Do everything the guru said to check for leaks, and also look for a small hole on the regulator. If the regulator is a venting type, or a non propane model, you can get leakage from the vent hole. The leakage starts as a very small amount, but gets larger with time. This leakage comes from hard, or cracked pilot seals, or a holed diaphragm.
For the soap solution, about a tablespoon of dishsoap to a quart of water works well. The ready made solutions are even better and do not leave as much residue.
   ptree - Sunday, 11/02/03 14:34:31 EST

Trying and Doing, How it "came out": I've had a difficult time getting through to my apprentice that things don't just "come out" badly. It is most often a matter of patience and looking closely at what you are doing. If you know what the end result should look like you don't stop until you get there. There are times when you do not have control of all the variables but that is a different thing.

Trying and Doing are also a different thing. Yes you should always have the goal of doing the job and finishing. But the world has rules that often cannot be overcome. I can fix almost anything mechanical. But when electronics are involved the rules change. You cannot see the reasons something electronic does not work. Often the physics behind how it works are a very complicated balance and even sophisticated testing does you no good in understanding it because you must understand it first to test it. . .

I have an old VERY nice HD battery charger. It is built as heavy as some welders. I bought it as part of a package of service station tools 30 years ago and it was 20 years old THEN. It has a polarity protection circuit that keeps the power relay from engaging. Good feature on this powerful of a charger. Now this is a OLD piece of equipment. The circuits include light bulbs that act as varible resistance and it is pre diode (big old metal plate rectifiers). This used to be a common method of controling battery chargers. The voltage control is integrated into the polarity protection which is broken. . . I could easily by-pass the polarity protection since it is MY charger and I know + from - even when it is not marked (positive is always larger). But messing with the voltage control can result in boiling all the electrolyte from a battery or even causing an explosion. . . I've set out to repair this thing a couple times but have been stymied by the hidden sophistication of the circuitry each time. No, there is no wiring diagram. I could probably make one and research 1950's charger controls but the task is not worth a week of my time (if I had the time to give to it). . . And there is no guarentee that once I identify the problem that it can be fixed. So this great old tool will probably go to scrap because I have failed. And I hate having failed. . .

I always set out to DO a job. But sometimes it does not matter how hard you try. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/02/03 14:34:51 EST

Combined about 600 exits, three as emergency exits,lowest exit, 1750 freefall at 110 knots, lowest opening, 300 feet, and highest 17500 from a UH-1H without O2.Two reserve rides.Wife has about 200 exits and 5 reserve rides.( hard to get a Strato Star to work with 100 pounds under it!)
And it is still the most fun you can have with you clothes on. Blacksmithing is a close second.
   ptree - Sunday, 11/02/03 14:39:07 EST

Only 80 tickets sold? Those of you who havent bought at least one ticket, shame on the lot of you! Here's an opportunity to do something good for the community - support CSI - and get a chance at a beautiful anvil to boot! Be a mensch. Pony up the $15.
   adam - Sunday, 11/02/03 16:08:22 EST

Alright. I'll bite. Guru, how do you buy tickets for this anvil. Adam has shamed me into submission..
   PapaDoc - Sunday, 11/02/03 17:50:58 EST

Paw Paw,

How much is a good anvil worth per pound? How much should I pay per pound for a swege block?
   Chris Bernard - Sunday, 11/02/03 19:27:12 EST

TGold - Cleaning O2 lines, my information is dated, as I've been out of the industrial gas industry for 12 years and haven't had a reason to do any O2 piping. As a field engineer for Airco (BOC now) in 1990 when we had to clean pipe or fittings for oxygen service in the field we used perchlorethane - an excellent degreaser, but an environmetal disposal nightmare. Whatever you do, don't use acetone. Acetone leaves a hydrocarbon residue that's flammable at a minimum in oxygen enriched atmospheres. If you don't want to try perchlor, give your industrial gas supplier a call and ask them what they're using to clean oxygen service equipment. Good luck.
   - GavainH - Sunday, 11/02/03 21:05:56 EST

What do people think about the "cast steel Czech anvils". They seem like a good deal. Are they hard enough.

Thank You
   josh m - Sunday, 11/02/03 21:18:19 EST


Have one from Steve at Euroanvils. Love it. Sometimes kick myself for not buying the next size up - Steve says he'd be happy to sell me the next one up any time. ;) Has a few very tiny dings in it from when I've missed in moments of excessive exuberance. ;) But it even seems to be getting harder with use. Not that I have any way of measuring that...

   Steve A - Sunday, 11/02/03 21:42:55 EST


There are too many variables to make it possible to give you an accurate answer. Anywhere from 0 to $7.00 - $8.00 a pound.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/02/03 22:29:04 EST


Warning, there is a new crop of SPAM SCAMs being run. All indicate that some type of charge has been made on your credit card. The first one I recieved indicated that a possible fraudlulent charge had been made on my account and to please send my account information including card number. . HA! The second one indicated that I was going to be billed 22.95 for child porn CDs and that I should reply immediately. I recieved each of these at more than one e-mail address so they are obviously SPAM and the fact that they want credit card information means that they are a SCAM.

It is obvious that these are being run using multiple variations of scams and that they are using blind SPAM lists. DO NOT REPLY to these in any manner.

I traced the URL's and they are registered in TAIWAN. Who knows where the crooks actually are. If these crooks get your information you can forget any kind of legal recourse.

This is big time identity and credit card theft on an international scale. We are looking for terrorists in the wrong places. They are knocking on our electronic doors. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/02/03 23:54:21 EST

PapaDoc, Paw-Paw is running the Iron in the Hat. Drop him a note and he will send tickets, then you return the stubs with a check. OR if you are worried about time send him a check first.
   - guru - Monday, 11/03/03 00:33:36 EST

I want to place an add on the power hammer page how do i do this
   gforge - Monday, 11/03/03 01:01:41 EST

There are two kinds of ads on the Power Hammer Page. General banners and "classified". The banners are part of our site wide advertising which runs $75/month. The classified type listings usualy link to a page with photos and description which I setup. In the past I have charged 10% of the sale price of the machine (for the setup and advertising) but have had a difficult time collecting so future ads must be prepaid. Drop me a note about what you are selling and how you would like to go about it.

You can list items for free on the V.Hammer-In. The pages stay posted for a month and you are welcome to re-list your item any time. The same goes for our auction page but we have not had anything listed there since we moved the server.
   - guru - Monday, 11/03/03 01:24:49 EST

Hi. Before asking my question, I want to thank you for providing such a wonderful resource. My husband used to do some art blacksmithing in his youth (this was decades ago, although he's still young at heart!) and is finally willing to part with two of his (four) anvils. The problem is that we know nothing about them. One has a fifth leg but no horn. It weighs about 120 pounds and is sort of square in shape (as opposed to rectangular). The other looks like a regular anvil, but has a raised "C" or possibly a "G" on one side. Several inches below the C or G is a raised symbol inside a circle, but I cannot make it out. When I trace it with my finger, the shape feels like a fancy "P." This anvil weighs about 150 lbs. Can you tell us anything about these two anvils? Many thanks! ~ Lauren
   Lauren - Monday, 11/03/03 01:47:18 EST

18th Century 5th Foot hornless anvil - photo (c) 2000 Jock Dempsey Lauren, The blocky fifth foot anvil probably looks like this. This is an early Colonial era anvil (1650-1750) and worth about $500 to $1000 to US collectors. IF your anvil is square looking down on top and has no hardy hole then it is a very rare early sawyers anvil and probably worth more. Without seeing it a valuation is difficult.

The other anvil is some relatively late type that I would have to look up but it probably worth about $2 to $3 pound as are most old used anvils. This is highly dependent on condition and location.
   - guru - Monday, 11/03/03 04:05:03 EST

Dinging anvils: I have never left a mark on an anvil face but most of my anvils have been very hard (Kohlswa, Hay-Budden, small Mouse Holes). However, my apprentice has shown that the best and hardest anvils can be dinged (repeatedly).

New anvils with nice bright surface ground finishes will show marks by the smoothing of the ground surface when struck squarely with a well dressed hammer. As long as these are not a depression then the mark is just superficial. Polishing out the grinding marks may reduce the superficial contact marking. Check the dress of your hammer if you consistantly leave marks.

The surfaces of well used anvils can get harder from use but don't believe it if someone tries to sell you an anvil that needs work hardening. . .

The Czech anvils come from different foundries and are not all necessarily the same quality. All the Euroanvils I have seen were very good but I have missed several oportunities to do bounce tests.

Note that responsible factories used to call for the edges of the anvil face to be softer than the center. This is to reduce the possibility of chipping. I do not know what standard practice is today.
   - guru - Monday, 11/03/03 04:25:49 EST

I'm back with a lot of catching-up to do. Spent part of last week and the whole weekend working on a filming for the History Channel with the ship. Details later over at the Hammer-In page.

Things are frantic at the NPS so y'all need to vist the parks to make it worth my while!

www.nps.gov ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/03/03 09:18:25 EST

I've been working as assistent in a small workshop for a few months I'm a complete newbie at smith work. I'm having some trouble mastering force welding and faggot welding. I've tried all heats from orange to burnt and shooting sparks but it seems that nothing works... Whenever I hit the ens closest to the fold (when faggot welding) it seems that every time the other end curls up again. and when force welding it will seem as if i made it but then sudenly after one stroke it'll com apart again... do you know what i'm doing wrong?
   Joakim - Monday, 11/03/03 12:03:14 EST

Forge Welding: Joakim, There are many things that can go wrong with a forge weld. The most common problem is dirt and scale, followed by burnt metal. Ocassionaly getting over excited and hitting too hard can also be a problem.

In coal fires a build up of ash and clinkers can put dirt directly in the weld metal. The ash also reduces the efficiency of the fire. This results in the smith increasing the blast to get a hotter fire and the fire being too oxidizing to get a good weld. Burnt metal will not weld. A fire that is at welding heat with the least air almost always produces good welds. Welds that seem to take then fall apart are the result of dirt or burnt metal in the joint.

When using a gas forge the air/fuel mix must be adjusted slightly rich to prevent excessive oxidation. Some gas forges adjust well and others do not. I have known people to place a piece of coke or charcoal in a gas forge to use up excess oxygen and produce a reducing atmosphere.

If there is light scale and a liquid but not burning surface you can make a fluxless weld. Many prefer to work without flux. Using flux is more forgiving but you cannot cure burned metal with flux. Brush off any loose scale before heating to flux then flux before more scale forms. If you heat too hot or too fast the flux will boil off.

When you have a correct welding heat the metal should stick together without a great deal of force. Hammering should mearly flatten the prepared surfaces into full contact. Relatively gentle taps of the hammer that push the metal together and shape the joint are all that is neaded. Only after the joint is made do you want to apply full force blows.

The fold curling up is from hitting beyond the weld joint and hitting to hard. The hammer should not touch the bar any closer than one diameter from the end. Use a couple quick gentle blows to get the weld started and then finish.

Forge welding is one of those things that seems difficult when learning but like riding a bicycle once learned you never forget. Practice, practice, practice.
   - guru - Monday, 11/03/03 12:38:14 EST

Helve Hammers:


I just finished reading your post on the hammerin about spring helve hammers vs. the upright type (LG) hammers. I have not yet had the opportunity to run the helve hammer I have, but was wondering if you could elaborate on your comments about the helve type hammers and how hard they hit? The Bradley I have does have the rubber bumpers in the back, and it looks like they way this is set up that this would provide a similar effect to the spring toggle linkage in the LG type hammers. Is this not the case or is the phyisics involved here different? Thanks for your comments.
   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 11/03/03 13:26:53 EST

Bradley Helve Hammers: Patrick, These hammers get the toggle harmonic motion effect from the leather straps at the front of the hammer coupling the helve to the ram. These are wonderful hammers but they do not have the mechanical efficiency of the toggle and spring linkages. In heavy use the rubber bumpers and leather get hot. In fact the heaviest of these hammers had to be derated (down from production use) due to the leather actually catching on fire. Any time you have that much heat in a mechanical coupling there is obviously an efficiency problem. But this does not mean they don't hit hard, it just means they need a little more horsepower to do the same job.

The dynamics of the rubber bumpers is very tricky. They do absorb and return some energy but they have the same 1:1 ratio through the motion and do not return as much as absorbed (thus the heat).

The production rating on Bradley helves and strap hammers was based on round the clock use doing closed die and pocket die production forging. Few mechanical hammers could take this kind of duty.
   - guru - Monday, 11/03/03 13:42:26 EST

Ok, you hotdawgs, gimme a cut- er,break. You got us kicked out of every bar in Panama City- and one of you switched off the mags & jumped out with the keys. I dead sticked it and didn't break it but I betcha that won't happen again. I'll turn it bottom-upards & shake it @ 200 ft agl. Now, back to blacksmithing.... <|:-)
   Ron Childers - Monday, 11/03/03 15:40:42 EST

I was actually thinking about this last week and it is fairly easy to see how this would happen on the the Bradley "Strap" hammer. However, on the Guided Helve, the ram is snugged uptight to the helve. There is a rubber cusion between the helve and ram, but I don't think you would get the "snap" effect that you would get with the Strap hammer. Clifton Ralph had a hammer like this in the steel mill where he was employed and he made the comment that is was hard to hit a single hard blow with this hammer. Do you think this could be overcome by increasing the horsepower of the motor used on the hammer?

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 11/03/03 15:50:42 EST

champion 400: i need to replace the inside half of the blower housing. this is the large blower; i believe there were only two sizes in the 400 model. would appreciate any leads on finding one, perhaps an incomplete one with a good housing. dont care about condition or presence of any other part except the housing. this is the model with the stand, not the model that is held and supported by the intake to the fire pot.

thanks for any info, advise, or leads!
   - rugg - Monday, 11/03/03 16:53:12 EST

guru, speaking of forge welding, what is your down and dirty rec for making scarfs for a lap weld. your input might (likely will) save me some grief. i try to practice this at least once every trip to the forge and have not quite gotten it right.


   - rugg - Monday, 11/03/03 16:57:29 EST

I have a old forge and blower that has a electric motor on it. The question I have is I need a reastat for it. All I am doing now is pluging and unpluging it to run my blower. The tag on the motor reads 110 volts and a 50 which I assume is the amps? It is a champion blower and forge on the tag also. Where can I get a reastat and how big of one do I need? Thanks
   flint kemper - Monday, 11/03/03 17:22:23 EST

I also have the Russian Anvil with the 1 1/8" Hardie hole. I could forge down 1 1/4" sq. solid stock or upset 1" sq. solid stock. Another option would be to weld 1/16 on 2 sides of 1" solid or sq. heavy tube. What do you recommend? Can I upset 1" sq. tube? How about forge down 1 1/4" sq. tube?
   Dale - Monday, 11/03/03 17:50:45 EST

I can not find Tweco 14T tips for the Reil Forge Burner. I can find Tweco 14 tips or I always have Miller lying around. The welding vendor tried to look up 14T tips and had no luck finding them. Are they still made? What is the difference? If it's just the outside, can someone give me the length of the taper and the dia. of the smaller end? Is it a straight taper? Also, I can't find locally the reducing tee for the side draft version. I can put a bell reducer on one end for the 3/4". Has anyone tried that? Anyone know where I can order the reducing tees? Thanks.
   Dale - Monday, 11/03/03 17:56:21 EST

And yet another question. I want to make some Hardie's and Fullers. Is truck spring reasonable for this? I have some pieces 1" x 5". It's hardened, but since forging it, don't think that is an issue. To harden afterwards, do I need to use oil? Temper to yellow? Thanks.
   Dale - Monday, 11/03/03 18:32:57 EST

Ron Childers,
While I once Switched off the mags and took the keys, it was in Germany, and on a unreformed nazi who hated Americans and would not make corections or a cut. He didn't break anything either as it was a L-4 and we were at 2000 meters.
And I swear I never been in Panama City! Grin.
   ptree - Monday, 11/03/03 18:39:18 EST

When I posted on the hammer-in re spring hammers, I have had about a years run on my spring hammer in hobby/business duty. I have not had the luck to run a Bradley but have watched the LG's and air hammers at various hammer-ins. My little hammer is a 32#, uses a 3/4Hp, I think as the plate is gone. Runs on a 20 amp circuit and does not dim the lights. It feathers well, hits hard I think. Wish there was a way for me to compare. It certainly rattles less and shakes less than the LG's I seen. The spring type is probably the easy way for a home builder to get scrounged parts. At any rate it beats the pants off a 2# by hand.
   ptree - Monday, 11/03/03 18:44:42 EST

Ron, on second thought I HAVE been in Zepher Hills, and Deland,and Space city. But I swear never in Panama City! GRIN.
   ptree - Monday, 11/03/03 18:46:32 EST


No jungle patch on your uniform? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/03/03 18:49:15 EST

while I am in now way or means the Guru, I will tell you how I do it.
I usually make a real short taper with a lightly convex curve on both pieces. Oh yeah it helps to upset each piece just a tad, so that you will not get a narrower section.
Then heat, flux bring to weld temp , weld....
See piece of cake... (gin)
   Ralph - Monday, 11/03/03 18:50:14 EST


The Tweco 14T tips are available from Daytona Mig in Florida. That's where I got mine, at least. However, there ain't anything magic about them, I can tell you. In fact, they use an oddball thread that makes them a bit of a pain, where Miller tips use a standard 1/4" thread. The taper is 15mm long, from 6.4mm to 3.3mm at the very end. They use a 6x.9mm metric thread. Overall length of tip less threads is just under 30mm. In my opinion, the effect of the tapered tip on the venturi velocity is just about nil, so why goto the trouble of turning tapers? Just use what you can get that has a nice round orifice hole, that is what matters the most in getting a good gas velocity to induce venturi flow.

For anvil tool shanks, I heat up a slichtly oversized piece of tubing, start a crude taper with a hammer and then finish it off by driving it into the hardy hole hot. Since it will shrink when it cools, don't go all the way or it may be too small. A quick and dirty way, if you hace a buzz box, is to just run a couple of weld beads on the outside of some 1" square tube and grind to fit. This has the advantage of allowing some margin for correcting out-of-perpendicular shanks/holes.

Truck spring will work just fine for anvil tools. If yo only use them with hot steel, mild steel will work fine, too. For the truck spring, harden in oil and then draw to a deep blue or even softer. Yellow is harder than you need, and may chip if struck an errant blow with a hard hammer face. If the spring stock is 5150, it will probably be plenty hard enough after forging and normalizing without any further heat treating. I would try it that way before I messed with hardening it.
   vicopper - Monday, 11/03/03 19:56:28 EST

what are the easiest materials to start a knife with?my blacksmith uncle told me that i could get a cheap file and grind it flat.He said that that was a good way because i would already have a tang.
please reply,
ameatur blacksmith
   - shawn - Monday, 11/03/03 20:37:00 EST


1. make an insert out of sq tubing to reduce your anvil hardy to 1" sq. In the long run this will save you a lot of hassle since 1" is pretty much a std hardy size nowadays.

2. Most any mig contact tip will work just fine - the important thing is the orifice size. I back drill mine with a 1/8" to within about 1/8" of the tip. No sense in having a long constriction.

3. Truck leaf makes great hardy tools. Dont overharden - like vicopper says draw to blue. For tools that dont have narrow edges you can leave them unhardened. Use 7018 or SS rod if you are going to arcweld on a shank
   adam - Monday, 11/03/03 20:40:21 EST

Pawpaw, Nope, just V Corp, 130th combat engineer brigade,2/138th feild arty,123 CAM sqd, and 2074 usar school. Then bad knee= no running.Still made 400 jumps on the bad knee.Grin.
   ptree - Monday, 11/03/03 20:41:12 EST


We've got a bit in common, lad. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/03/03 20:56:07 EST

10% is fine with me
have a 200lb beaudry 7.5 hp 3 ph motor up and running my shop sonoma ca asking 3500.00 will load on your truck
contact me o guru
   gforge - Monday, 11/03/03 21:44:50 EST

Pray tell- what is an anvil devil used for?
Thanks again
   Wendy Lawrence - Monday, 11/03/03 22:22:31 EST

Check out this site:
A fun and very helpful knife maker's site.
Good luck
   Wendy Lawrence - Monday, 11/03/03 22:27:18 EST

Rugg, I always go back to Schwarzkopf's chapter on welding in "Plain and Ornamental Forging". In upsetting, you want to gain 1/2 to 1/3 parent stock thickness. When hitting the end to make the taper, if you hammer at the proper angle, some of the upsetting will continue. Most beginners make their scarfs too long and thin, thereby losing the upset. The length, heel to point, of the finished lap welding scarf is 1 1/2 times the parent stock thickness. The reason is so you don't have so much welding to do. Why make a long scarf? When lapped, the heel of one scarf meets the point of the other. When you lap, a beginner should use the near anvil edge as a rest. "Lever down" on the other piece, and the anvil edge helps your aim, as well. It is better than trying to dab it down on the other piece without any point of reference.

I've seen Francis Whitaker put little fairly sharp "stair steps" on his scarf faces over the near sharp edge of his anvil. Apparently, he thought this was grabbier. Most smiths make smooth convex scarf faces.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/03/03 22:34:37 EST

My name is Thomas and i live in Texas I have been blacksmithing for about eight months and im only 15 but im also homeschooled so i have alot more time than most 15 year olds. I was wondering about how to make a dragon head in a forge I have looked a little but dont know how to fraze it for the search engine. i will continue to look for the answer myself but if you come across anything please send word.

Thank you

   txsthomas - Monday, 11/03/03 23:49:27 EST


Take a look at iForge demo #115. There's one version of a dragon there.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/04/03 00:08:19 EST

Hi again and thanks for the info. on our two anvils. The colonial anvil looks exactly like the one you posted (seeing that picture was so exciting! thanks so much for including it!) except that ours has a hardy hole. We're now wondering... what is that 5th leg used for and when did it appear in anvil development? Also, when hit with a hammer, our (his) colonial anvil did not "ring" so much as the other more standard anvil, but the bounce-back was incredible! From what little I know about anvils, I thought the amount of ring, rebound and hardness were all directly proportional (that is, greater hardness = greater rebound=greater ring). So why does the colonial have a more muted sound but better rebound than the other anvil (which my husband says is a pretty good one... he loved using it). Again, my thanks for your time & expertise!
   Lauren - Tuesday, 11/04/03 01:00:02 EST

I forgot, I have two other questions:
We are (reluctantly) selling these anvils. (1) They are a bit rusty and I would like to clean them up to look really nice. Is that OK to do, and - if so - what is the best way to clean them. I recently saw an old anvil on ebay that was silvery and it looked beautiful. The seller said he only used a wire brush and oiled it, but that hasn't helped much for our anvils. (They still look brownish/black after I used wire brush, rust remover, water rinse, then WD40 coating.) (2) If it is a collectors' piece, where is the best place to sell this colonial anvil? ie. ebay auction, regular auction, blacksmithing venue, etc.? I know these questions are purely mercenary, but I would greatly appreciate any information you can provide. Thanks again!
   Lauren - Tuesday, 11/04/03 01:15:28 EST

frank, thanks for the reply. i have a 1st edition of that book. i will look it up. i think that using coal will concentrate the heat better vs gas and probably will be easier to upset and scarf. will try it soon...my current gas set up will not allow me to minimize oxidation and takes awhile to get to welding heat; nothing i can do until i build one. tried charcoal and coal in the gas forge without luck, yet...
   - rugg - Tuesday, 11/04/03 01:48:39 EST

ptree,Yeah, right; that's wt they all say. How can u jump in meters? My altimeter reads in feet(asl)arc,arc
   - Ron Childers - Tuesday, 11/04/03 08:01:16 EST

Richard Postman, author of Anvils in America, theorizes that the fifth foot is a vestige of the old "church window" appearance on some early anvils (the two, vertical hollows or concavities either side of that foot).

Sometimes, if an anvil has an extended horn and/or heel, it will ring more than a blocky anvil.

Don't further clean the anvils. One needs to have a "museum conservator's mentality" or an antique buff's mentality when selling an antique. The buyer usually wants to have the original patina, so he/she can do with it what they will. On the PBS "Antiques Road Show", the pieces offered are usually devalued quite a bit because the owner cleaned, painted, or altered the item. Their good intentions cost them money.

eBay usually brings big prices to the point of exorbitance, but there is shipping to consider, usless the owner lives nearby. Local auctioneers will often take pieces on consignment, but the buyers may not be knowledgable about the antique value of the "colonial" anvil, and a percentage of the sale goes to the auctioneer. If you don't mind home visitations and you're near a metropolitan area, an ad in the local paper can bring good results. You can "tailgate" it at a regional or national blacksmiths' association conference or meeting. See abana.org.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/04/03 09:31:34 EST

Wendy Anvil devils are small triangular cutters that you lay on the anvil face and use it cold to cut or notch small stock <1/2" flat or round. Generally you notch and break so that you do not hit the anvil devil, they are devilishly hard:-) They make an anvil devil holder but then it is just a cold cut hardie at that point, and the anvil devils are cheap, and the holder isn't neccessary most of the time.
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 11/04/03 10:04:47 EST

Slack tub freeze prevention,

Will propylene gycol work in my slack tub or will it create an unwanted chemical reaction? Dangerous or not? I don't want to use the stock tank/battery blanket methods as that would require me leaving the power on in the shop 24/7.

   - Tony-C - Tuesday, 11/04/03 10:19:45 EST

Fifth Foot: It is also speculated that the fifth foot had either a religious or superstitious significance that is lost to history. Remember, you are talking about 17th Century England, a very strange time and place.

The Anvil's Ring: The volume of an anvil's ring is determined largely by the shape of the anvil. The long bodied American pattern anvil rings louder than any other. The reason is balanced vibrations due to the top and base having roughly equal masses seperated by the narrow waist. It is like a tuning fork effect. The older more compact anvils do not have this tuning fork effect.

Hardness increases the frequency of the ring as well as increasing its sustain (how long it rings). But shape also has a great effect. That is why you can make bells out of dead dampening materials like cast iron and soft brass.

Flaws in the anvil, particularly a seperated face in a built up anvil but also a crack or inclusion will dull the ring and dampen it. The point of testing an anvil with light taps is to feel the rebound and listen for flaws, not a loud ring. It is largely an art.

The great rebound from the older anvil is due to the amount of mass under the face. Heavy waisted anvils are much more solid than the modern narrow waisted anvils. In the modern American pattern anvil the force of blows anywhere other than dead center go into deflecting the anvil and creating that loud ring. And even when struct dead center the center of the mass moves down while the extended horn and heal try to remain where they were (deflection again).

A friend of mine has a collection of anvils including the little hornless anvil above and a range of different style Colonial anvils to a large 450 pound German anvil. He has spent a great deal of time comparing the feel of work on the old antique pattern anvils and the modern shape anvils and has concluded that the old more compact anvils are much more solid under the hammer. I have compared working on my large 300 and 200 pound American pattern anvils to an old broken down 150 pound Colonial and find the older anvil to be quite solid considering its weight and the fact that the face is worn though to the wrought body. . .

Look at the proportions of a Peddinghaus for their size. The relatively short horns and heavy waist are not as sexy as an American pattern anvil but it is a much more solid design.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 10:44:18 EST

Slack-Tub Anti-Freeze: Tony, Auto antifreeze works but is poision to small animals and pets. If you have a dog or a neighbor's dog wanders in and laps up a bunch of the sweet tasting liquid it will die a few days later of liver failure. If there are no pets involved it IS one way to get rid of unwanted critters (but not recommended).

There are non-toxic anti-freezes but some are flamable as they contain alcohol.

Depending on your location a salt water solution will lower the freezing point considerably but it can still freeze.

Slack-Tub Mosquito Prevention: We tried several things this year and found that a half to a cup of chlorox bleach in 25 gallons of water did the trick. Do not use this in metal slack tubs.

Your query has reminded me to get a stock tank heater as cold weather is on its way. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 11:04:12 EST

Folks, please take the jump chat and parts wanted to the Hammer-In.

Polished antiques. . . As Frank pointed out you NEVER polish or heavily clean ANY antique. It took 300 years for that anvil to develope than rust and it is part of its history. A wipe down and oiling is normal for an iron/steel item but that is ALL.

ebay has more idiots per capita than anywhere else on the planet. Yes, I too have seen old items polished all over to brilliance, anvils, leg vises. . . Any that are truely antique have just lost about half their value (to knowledgable collectors). On the other hand there is a collecting frenzy going on now and there are more idiot buyers than sellers.

If you want to make an old anvil look better than put a light coat of flat black paint over the rust. At least the paint can be removed with solvent without damaging the original surface.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 11:17:53 EST

Slack-tub Antifreeze:
I used RV antifreeze last year, 3 gal of it in 13 gal of water (to make a 16 gal tub). It works very well until the temp got below 0 for a few days. Then it turns to a weak ice, easily breakable. The smell when quenching is a much more pleasant smell than auto antifreeze, almost minty. No flames, either. But that may be because of the dilution in water.
   MarcG - Tuesday, 11/04/03 12:09:47 EST

Dragon Heads: TxsThomas, These are made like almost any animal head. In fact it is easier to make bad animal heads look like a dragon than anything else.

For much of the work required making animal heads a vise is a great deal of help but they can be made without. When using a vise a stop block is also useful.

Start simple. Forge down an offset for a snout, slit it open with a hot chisel or a saw. Punch eyes with an eye-punch and nostrils with a pointed punch. Curl teeth out of the edges of the mouth with a sharp chisel. The great Samuel Yellin made these by the hundreds as finials on fence pickets. . . yeah, that is how you get good, making hundreds.

Note that this takes some preparation. Eye punches are individualy made by the smith. See our iForge demo #65 on Matrix Punches. It also helps to have either long punches to keep away from the heat OR short fat punches that can be held with tongs made to fit them.

Years ago when I came to the realization that I needed a set of long punches I purchased a half dozen 12" long 3/8" pin punches from a hardware store. I made a tapered long center punch from one and a long narrow chisel from another. The rest were converted to eye punches. One was ground to a slightly smaller end and then to a hemi-sphere. Another smaller and then heated and center punched to create an eye. The full "eye" punch I show in the demo was made out of an old drift pin. It was used once and then sadly lost somewhere on the road. . .

I started with a half dozen punches because that was all I could afford at the time. I could have easily used a couple dozen. Good hot work gloves for your chisel hand help too!

Daniel Boone makes a really fancy dragon with long lips and tongue (See the NEWS vol.30 p.4). He uses a saw (porta-band) to slit the long mouth/beard after preliminary forging. The eyes are punched with a long pointed punch and the horns or ears are split off hot with a chisel. A hole is drilled as a socket for the tongue and it is made as a seperate part and then pinned into place. You will note one of Dan's early dragons on the same page and can see how it has taken years for him to develop both the techniques and style of his dragon. As this is a trademark piece we do not have detailed instructions for makeing it. But this should give you a starting place.

Dan's punches and chisels are made from a special hot work steel called Atlantic-33. You can purchase a similar hot work chisle from Kaynes and Son (Misc. items). These are amazing tools that take heat like you would not believe.

Many smiths experiment with modeling clay. Make a "bar" of clay the size you would start with, then using actual forge tools push the clay around. Many problems will show up and it is much easier to come up with solutions when it is not a piece of hot and cooling steel.

There is another great dragon head example in our book review of Italian Masters of Wrought Iron.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 12:23:28 EST

How thin, or how much curve should be on butcher's? I am attempting to learn repousse and am grinding on material to make matched sets of Butcher's first & second pass. But I don't know how the ends should be shaped. I have posted two pics over on the yahoo picture site, in my album named "slattont"

   slattont - Tuesday, 11/04/03 12:39:21 EST

Slacktub freezing,
Tony, make a lid for your slacktub too, it will stop alot of evapouration in winter.
   JimG - Tuesday, 11/04/03 13:40:21 EST

Tim,I thought butchers were big ol' things for starting shoulders on hot work (?) Please advise.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/04/03 14:52:50 EST

Mr. Turley,
Frank Dixon, publisher(author) of "Traditional Metalsmith" illustrates using butchers or something similar to this to do repousse work. The front page of his magazine web site has one drawing showing it "artist-blacksmith.org" directly below the center menu. I may be confusing the name with another repousse tool. I have these tools forged out of air hardening tools steel, and just trying to get the angles close to right.

   slattont - Tuesday, 11/04/03 15:09:19 EST


The tool I think you are reffering to looks like it's being used in "setting down" in heavy plate. Regardless, repousse tools can be any shape you want, it's just the reverse of the shape you are trying to achive. Too sharp of an edge will cut the steel though.

OBTW: it"s "George" Dixon
   - grant - Tuesday, 11/04/03 16:37:17 EST

Welding Newbies...

If, like me, you are still learning every day, Here's one.
For anti spatter protection, don't buy expensive soy anti spatter, use PAM spray.
Here's another. Nozzle/Tip dip??? Use Vaseline.
These are both effective and cheaper than those other products, from a beginner who learned it from a pro.

There, I actually contributed something to the collective.
   - andrew - Tuesday, 11/04/03 16:50:11 EST

Pawpaw and Ron childers Yep, PawPaw we seem to have a lot in common. Happens that one of the reasons that I loved skydiving and blacksmithing is the type of open, ready to try things independent people you meet doing both!
Ron, When in rome do as the Romans etc. Jumping at a German club, trying to speak German so as to not be ID'ed as US Army by the unreformed, American hating Nazi that was president. The regular members covered for me Hence using an altimeter in meters, but he found out eventually, and it developed into a furball at 2000 meters!
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/04/03 17:16:39 EST

Repousse' Tools: I have a nice article on dressing these that was reproduced in our local group's newsletter and copied from ANOTHER groups letter. . . But I couldn't find the author to get permission to use the article and can't place my hands on it immediately. It seems to me that the rounder the better. . . But it also seemed that there was some tricks to it. I found the images from the old Koka Metalworks site and see that the tools are smaller on the struck end than the working end. Bill made many shapes and had many drawings but they are not detailed. Most showed the crossections and the general end shape.

SOMEWHERE recently I saw a listing for a book on repousse but now I can't find it. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 17:51:44 EST

Repousse' tools:

The book was listed in a recent issue of The Hammer's Blow, and is titled Moving Metal: The Art of Chasing and Repousse' by Adolph Steines. It is available from Blue Moon Press (866) 627-6922. A really great book on the subject.

Repousse' punches are generally used from the back of the metal to move the metal out and, as such, are very generously rounded off so as not to tear the metal. The "butcher" tool is also called a "liner" or "setting down" tool and used for the chasing work whiuch is dome from the front. For initial movement of the metal, a bit rounder profile is preferred, so that lthe metal can be moved a good distance without tearing or thinning too much. After the detail is established, then you can go to a much sharper tool to set down very tight cornered areas and contours. Naturally, all this involves annealing between workings so you don't crack something. If the piece is going to be subjected to any level of physical strain after completion, avoid extremely sharp corners that can be stress risers and end up cracking in use. In the final analysis, the profile of your tools will be controlled as much by your own style of working as it will by any preset notion of what someone else says is right. Make them, try them out, and see what you would like to be fdifferent and then make a new one.

Please note that I said "make a new one", NOT remake the old one. I have found that some of my favorite chasing tools now are ones that I made years ago and thought weren't right at the time but didn't change. BTW, the reason for making the struck end smallr than the working end is twofold. One, it concentrates the hammer blow down the center of the tool, the same way it does on a punch or when upsetting. Two, there is more hammer control when you don't have to deal with off-angle blows striking a "corner" of the tool and causing the tool to skate away.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/04/03 18:38:28 EST

Hardy Shanks

I've made several from plain old round black pipe. 1" (nominal) forges down real easy to 1" square. You'd probably have to go to 1-1/4" for a 1-1/8" shank. Not the be-all and end-all, but easy to get and easy to forge.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 11/04/03 18:57:26 EST

On repousse... Has anyone ever heard of a really strong air chisel for steel repousse? I tried with my weenie Sears air chisel and no go cold and annealed. I made a few tools and none seem to move 16 gage steel except when it's screaming hot. I wonder if 16 ga sheet is too thick...
   - andrew - Tuesday, 11/04/03 19:21:38 EST

Air chisel:

Andrew, there are a number of air tools made that will do the job. I have a Chinese knock-off of a Rockwell weld chipping chisel that does pretty weell once you make new chisels for it. The ones that come with it are too soft for anything but repousse', so I make my won cutting chisels from S-7 or similar steel and heat treat them for the purpose. Check industrial suppliers for the tools, asking for weld chippers and the like. For 16 gauge, which is NOT too heavy, you need a tool that has some mass to it to move the metal cold. You also need to have the metal backed up with the right substance, like lead. Working on wood is way too "bouncy" and wastes the energy of the blow. Lead or good pitch will absorb the movement but not let the metal bounce around.

Another factor that will make a huge difference is the steel that you're using. Common A-36 sheet is likely to be too hard to be nice to work, even after careful annealing. I suggest you get some 1008 steel or 1018, and try that. The best thing is pure iron, but that is gonna really cost you since it is no longer being sold in the US. You can still get it in England, if you're willing to pay the tariff to ship it. I found an old piece of pretty good quality wrought iron the other day and tried it. The difference was amazing. That stuff moved like butter compared to A-36.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/04/03 19:47:51 EST

Power Repousse' Andrew, I have seen is done a variety of ways. We saw several demonstrations at the Flagstaff ABANA conference. Some (chasing mostly) was done with a small modular hammer in a C frame and some was done on heavy plate using a large hand held hammer. See the NEWS vol 21 slideshow frames 8-9. The heavy plate was worked hot while supported between and clamped to two heavy bars. The noise was unbelievable. The C-frame machine has its power controlled by the weights stacked on the hammer (mass to resist the force). English wheels are also used when large contoured areas are involved.

First, everything in proportion. A small hammer will need tools with small ends to concentrate the available energy. It will also need to be used on thin plate. I have not tried my B&D hand held on plate but I know how hard it hits and it should work on plate up to 16ga as long as it has tools proportionate to its power. It also needs a good air supply. It outruns a 1 HP air compressor in a few seconds and it drew down a big 6HP fast enough that that it was constantly running. . . Try putting a pressure gauge on the tool end of the hose and watch while the tool runs. Line drop coupled with fall off before restart can drop that 100 PSI (700 kPa) working pressure to half. You can reduce line drop with a bigger or shorter hose. But the compressor capacity must be there.

Plate of all thickness needs to be annealed to start. Most repousse' artists are picky about the specific alloy because some plate is a lot tougher to work than others. Special plate made for deep drawing works mush better than common A-36 plate (which is what your 16ga many be). Deep draw plate is usualy delivered annealed and finished. European's prefer to use wrought or pure iron plate due to its softness.

How your plate is supported is critical. Repousse' artists are constantly testing different pitch recipes. For heavy work it is often sand filled. One fellow said that the packed gravel in his driveway was the best thing he had found for heavy plate. If you are using poured pitch it must be stripped and replaced as the work progresses.

Heavy plate is usualy worked hot. 16ga is right on the verge of being heavy plate and if a low grade IS heavy plate. Working hot avoids annealing but introduces the need for gloves, tongs and other hot work tools. A sand table can be used to good advantage but it must be supported like its an anvil. It can also be worked on heavy edge supports (but is very noisy). To finish heavy plate after working it free style you may want to use a pitch backing for that last pass.

If you use an air hammer on plate be sure to wear hearing protection.

Repousse and deep relief chasing are slow processes in steel. If you do not have the patience for it try copper.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 20:05:18 EST

Wow typos. . . I see VIc and I agree but look at the question from different views. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 20:10:12 EST


Yes we agree on this Jock. I'm glad you mentioned the deep drawing plate, which I neglected. Also the tool to driver ratio, which is critical on smaller air tools for moving metal.

One other thing I neglected to mention is "complete" annealing. Too often, particularly on relatively thin materials, the usual method of annealing in vermiculite, perlite or ashes isn't adequate. On sheet in particular, there is such a high surface area to mass ratio that it is extremely difficult to keep the stock form losing heat too rapidly to anneal effectively. Usually, all that is achieved is not much more than normalizing.

To anneal sheet stock fully, it helps to heat up a chunk of really heavy (1 or 2" thick) plate as big as or bigger than the piece of thin plate you want to anneal. Also pre-heat your annealing medium by shoving a piece of healted stock into it an hour or so ahead of time. If you put the thick piece of stock in with the thin stock next to it, (or even better between two pieces of it), you will get the slow cooling needed to get complete annealing. Or use an annealing kiln with controlled temperature reduction. The point is, it must be SLOW cooling.

Personally, I do the roughing in hot, using a heavy asbestos glove on my left hand to hold the sheet tongs. Gets to be real fun when it slips out of the tongs, too. (grin) Protectivbe clothing is an absolute must when working sheet hot. Just the radiated heat can blister your face and arms. As for the noise, if you don't use the hearing protection that Jock recommended, you'll end up deaf like me.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/04/03 21:24:04 EST

Guru, I been thinking( I know, very dangerous), about a spring hammer vs a toggle design. On my hammer, I have a multi leaf spring, with one long leaf that is connected to the crank pitman on one end, and to the ram at the other. The second leaf is on top of the primary leaf and is shorter and arched a little away from the primary. This allows the pitman to push the ram down thru the spring yet have less force absorbed by the spring as it passes neutral. On the upward stroke, as the spring passes neutral, and starts to compress the springs in the upper direction, only the force imparted by the upward movement of the ram,less effiency is available, but the pitman then imparts additional force once it starts the downward motion. I don't know how this compares exactly to the toggle design, but I know that the hammer hits much harder with the extra leaf on top then it did with several different single leaf designs. I guess it all come down to the effeciency of the system. I also wonder how much the ram guide design affects the whole system. a lot of energy could be absorbed in bad guides.
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/04/03 21:49:42 EST

For repoussÚ and chasing? Armco used to make zero carbon iron for enameling. Check it out.

Yeah Tim, I looked at Dixon's magazine. Schwarzkopf calls the "butcher" a "veiner", thinking about leaf veins. Same tool. There are similarities between metal chasing /stamping and leather tooling. In leather work, the butcher is a "beveler", but before using it, a swivel knife cut is made, and the beveler sets the damp leather to one side or the other of the cut.

The English language. We needed to borrow the French term, "repoussÚ", because it covers two processes. If we didn't have the term, we'd probably have to say "emboss" and "chase".

Jewelry catalogs and Untracht's book, "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen", show quite an array of repousse/chasing tools.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/04/03 22:09:51 EST

Its Thomas again and i was wandering about how to make different decorative twists for handels and such.
   txsthomas - Tuesday, 11/04/03 22:46:26 EST

POWER HAMMER TECHNIQUE.. Guru, can you please tell me if there are any books or videos explaining power hammer techniques.?
I searched the web but there isnt a great deal of information on this subject. Any help would be greatly appreciated THANKS
   wombat - Tuesday, 11/04/03 23:33:39 EST

Armco zero carbon: NOTE that Armco is now AKsteel (www.aksteel.com).

I had a fellow come to me a couple weeks ago looking for .005 or less carbon steel (pure iron) wire. He was told that they no longer made the low carbon steel in wire. According to their literature all they currently make is transformer plate in 24 thru 29 gauge. I have old catalogs that list round, square and rectangular coil wire in special electrical grades. It is no longer made.

They also make a deep drawing aluminium alloy steel (DS) with .06% carbon. This is a super ductile version of SAE 1006 but is far from zero carbon. This is also only available in plate (up to .35"). I suspect that the carbon adds strength that makes it draw and form better than the lower carbon silicon iron made for electrical purposes.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 23:43:53 EST

Twists See our iForge demo # 11. There are a few. We need to revisit twists. Also see the other demos that incorporate basket twists.

Power Hammer Tech: For standard methods see Blacksmith's Manual Illustrated By J.W. Lillico on our book review page. Then I think the Clifton Ralph videos are available from ABANA. . ??
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/04/03 23:54:56 EST

I have been working in metal shop at school and recentrly tryed my hand a forging when i put the borax on the workpeice as flux it seems to work fine but when i hit it it splatters unfortunately no one knows if this is the correct behavior of borax or if i am doing something wrong. please point out what i might be doing wrong.

Also I am using two different types of steel together tool steel and a mild steel they dont seem to be welding together properly, any suggestions?
Thank You,
   Carter - Wednesday, 11/05/03 00:05:56 EST

Power Hammer Tech: We intended to have a series of articles like the iForge demos on our Power Hammer Page but have not gotten "a'round tuit". . . We have had a variety of power hammer techniques in our news over the years but stills do not do the processes justice. AND there are methods that work on hammers with good safe control that won't work or are very dangerous on a cranky Little Giant.

There is also a huge matter of practice and skill. You would not believe what can be done with very simple general purpose tools by a highly skilled smith. Look at the leaves forged on the EC-JYH by Josh Greenwood. Josh uses hand held tooling under a 500# hammer like many use under a treadle hammer. I've seen Josh forge an oversize Bowie knife complete with all the tapers ready to fine finish (no heavy grinding) in three heats and about 10 minutes under flat dies using only a combination fuller/flatter to produce the tapers. No special dies, just skill and the power of the machine.

Daniel Boone is a great power hammer demonstrator. He uses crown dies similar to Uri Hoffi's but not quite so radical for all his work. He produces a variety of leaves as wide as 3" from 1/2" bar including drawing the stem in a single heat using nothing but the hammer dies. He cranks them out as fast as a big gas forge heats the bar or billets.

The biggest thing in small power hammer tricks today is the dozens of special tools made by Grant Sarver and sold by Kayne and Son. Buy them, stick hot iron in them and pound away. . .

Another book I have in my collection is the Forging Industry Association Open Die Forging Manual sold by ASM. It is a little disappointing for a blacksmith as it is a survey of basic forging methods and capabilities for an engineer or engineering student. It gets into the metalurgy a little as well as economics of forging. The section on forging in the ASM Metals Handbook series is much better. It includes the same information with added detail plus a bunch more examples. If you have or are going to buy the ASM reference then the FIA book is redundant.

The ASM Metals Handbook volume with forging changes so I will not say which it is. I have an old volume that is just forging, my 1984 volume covers forging and casting, and I think the current volume is just forging again. . besides the basic techniques it has good information on forging non-ferrous metals, forgability and such. It is not a reference to learn about using a small hammer for artistic work. Lilico is better for that even though it does not discuss any decorative forging.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/05/03 00:58:46 EST

Welding Again: Carter, the flux is liquid when you hit it and it splatters more than steel with a liquid surface. Unfluxed steel also splatters due to the melted scale on the surface.

Most tool steel welds pretty well because it welds at lower temperature than mild (by about 200°F). However, tool steels containing nickle or chrome may require a special flux with flourite in it.

However, the lower welding temperature adds some difficulty in that you need to be careful not to overheat it. If clean the mild steel will weld at the same temperature as the tool steel so the best thing to do is work at the tool steel temperature.

See my post on Forge Welding above on 11/03/03 @ 12:38:14 as well as the link in that post.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/05/03 01:09:36 EST

Slack Tub

The propylene I would use is a food grade non toxic...I'll have to check its flamability. According to the msds sheets its flash point is really high IIRC.

Thanks for the advice!
   - Tony-C - Wednesday, 11/05/03 09:16:06 EST

need advise/comments on belt grinders. if i never plan on making knives or fine finnish work, would a fixed SFPM of 8K be ideal? i am looking for rapid removal from up to heavy stock, including tool steels, platen work mostly. is the difference between 4K and 8K significant for my intent??

thanks in advance!!! all comments encouraged. i have no experience with these machines and they are not cheap...
   - rugg - Wednesday, 11/05/03 13:04:27 EST

Belt Grinders,
What is the advantage to using a belt grinder for rapid removal from up to heavy stock, including tool steels, to using an anglegrinder or bench grinder?
I've never used a good belt grinder, (well once and I tore the belt while taking the flash off a chopsaw cut peice)
I have used my 4x36 beltsander on metal but have found it to go through a lot of belt for very little result.
   JimG - Wednesday, 11/05/03 17:52:56 EST


The faster the belt moves, the more of the belt passes a piece of work in a given time. So the higher speed will take off more stock than the slow belt in the same amount of time. There is a point of diminishing returns but it's a lot higher than you are talking about.

Another factor to consider is the relative danger of the speeds. It'll take off skin and meat faster than it will grind steel.

Jim G.

What grit belt were you using? I've been useing my 4 X 36 for several years now. I normally use an aluminum oxide belt in 60 grit.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/05/03 18:19:27 EST

Jim G.,

If you're experiencing belt death too soon, you may need to look for a better grade of belt. The old adage, "you get what you pay for" pretty much applies to sanding belts. The ones made for woodworking by homeowners just won't do the job on metal, and are usually far too fine a grit to have any life at all. Try a quality zirconium belt in about 40 to 60 grit and you'll see what I mean. The higher quality belts also are put together much better and won't pop apart the first time to bear down on them.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/05/03 18:41:09 EST

Jim G a belt grinder will also be able to remove more metal faster before heating the metal and possibly loosing temper.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/05/03 18:46:37 EST

stock removal with a belt grinder is rapid and controlled (work rest and platen), something that an angle grinder or bench ("stone wheel") can not do. it can remove stock as fast as a mill with acceptable accuracy (i am told). they are more expensive than an angle grinder. i think they are more safe to operate. knife guys use 'em. tool makers use 'em. there are differences in belt quality. i have a "carbide grinder" @ 1.5 horses which does fair for edges and sharpening, but it will not make a fuller edge on a piece of steel; a belt grinder does...FAST...burr king 760 likely to join the shop soon.....
   - rugg - Wednesday, 11/05/03 19:38:04 EST

Rugg, One of my favorite tools is a Makita hand held belt sander which takes a 1 1/8" x 21" belt. It has a fairly slow rpm, but I have all kinds of control when working on hardware and other small pieces. It has a small platen.

Another company specializes in a more expensive, similar tool which takes various belt widths: "Dynafile".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/05/03 20:00:20 EST

Belt Grinder Safety: Ask Jim Hrisoulas about this. He nearly cut his hand in two on the edge of the belt. One brief slip. . . Lots of expensive micro surgury and a long rehab to get the use back. He was lucky he didn't lose several fingers. I suspect that it will never be quite right.

Most comercial grinders have guards around the parts of the belt that do not ride on the platten and some guard all the edges. But many knife grinding machines do not.

Properly used a belt grinder does not kick back work BUT they can and will in one mindless millisecond. They are not nearly as bad about it as wheels but having a machine thrust a knife through your lungs ONCE is all it takes. That 5,000 FPM is nearly 60 miles per hour! You cannot dodge something moving that fast.

Stock removal rates are proportional to HP and how tight you can hold the blade.

The length of the belt gives it time to cool while providing a large surface area to wear.

I have not looked but I suspect that MACHINERY'S has info about belt speeds. I used it for setting up my buffers.

Slower than full capacity is always more controlable and safer. If you do not need production rates then go with the slower safer machine.

Rugg, while ordering that machine have its mate shipped down to my place. . . ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/05/03 21:00:55 EST

Grinding belts,
I will look for some good grinding belts and try them out, I was just using the aluminum oxide belts from Peavey Mart (Kingspor I think)in the 80-100 grit range. I do like the idea of faster! I hate the schnitzel work on blades
   JimG - Wednesday, 11/05/03 21:50:49 EST

Belt sanders.
At my previous employ we used about 30-40 belt sanders to deburr. We took the cut-off tit off screw machine parts to the rate of 60,000 parts / month. I made a machine to remove this burr(tit) off 300 series and 400 series stainless and monel stems. These burrs were about 1/8" od by about 3/16" and the surface they were attached to was a 3" radius that had to be maintained. I had to automate the process, and was finally sucessful, using a belt sander. Some of the things I learned are as follows;
1. As many have noted use high quality, name brand belts. The zircomiun type belts were far and away the best. These belts are usually blue.
2. For a given finish the belt speed seems to be more important than grit size.
For a removal rate, both speed and grit size count.
3. With a belt NOT supported by a platen, we could remove the burr, and to remove bigger burrs, we did not press harder, but feed slower.
4. Buy a machine based on the structure that supports the head and tail rollers. Think RIGID!! Think lots of steel or cast iron.
5. If cost is the limit, buy the rigid machine before the higher horsepower machine.
Locate the machine where you can stand beside the machine to use a horizontal platen machine.
We were able to grind 1200 burrs off per hour with one operator,replacing 6 doing this by hand. We were able to remove this large burr, maintain the radius and the 63 microinch finish, and used a 40 grit belt to do this in a custom $7500 dollar machine. For the record the belt speed was measured in warp factors(grin) and was far too fast for hand held work.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/05/03 21:58:41 EST


Getting a better grade of coarser belt will speed up the stock removal and the belts will last considerably longer, but you still have to do the "schnitzel" work at some point if you want a fine finish. You can't escape the sheer physics of the situation.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/05/03 22:02:16 EST

thanks to all for the comments....safety is always on my mind. what scares me is stories of experienced metal guys getting injured. the smithy director at the metal museum tangled with a bradley power hammer, bad hand injury (his right hand if i remember correctly). if these guys get into trouble at times, it can and does happen to anyone. i have a wire wheel on a bench grinder that is driven by a 1/4horse motor. wire really scares me. when the work gets sucked in, the motor stops, no harm. heavy leather and always paranoid, and yes JPPW, protective eyewear...

guru, the mate??? if i am lucky, i will score a burr king 760 from a local machinery shop. it is new. this is a used machinery outfit, which means he is likely to consider a "reasonable" offer. we will see.

speaking of scores (sorry, could not resist). found an english anvil on ebay. limited pictures and no maker marks. the face looked great. won it @ 167$. weighs 150#. the face, as it turns out.......ZERO chips! zero repairs...like i need another anvil, but ill take it @ that price...

i am excited about the grinder. will give me more time to create something..thanks again
   - rugg - Thursday, 11/06/03 01:59:46 EST

I'm doing some experementing with forging blades and i need to know what is the most dense wood. i cant find anything
   - sandoz - Thursday, 11/06/03 02:11:00 EST

Ironwood is pretty dense.
   Ralph - Thursday, 11/06/03 02:30:49 EST

Not sure how to spell it but Lignum Vitie (I KNOW I butchered that!) is about the most dense wood I can think of, sinks in water and was (mabey sitll is) used as berrings for prop shafts on large Navy ships.
   Wayne P - Thursday, 11/06/03 08:19:59 EST


Actually not such a butchering after all. I've always heard of Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum Officinale) because of it's purported medicinal properties (Lignum Vitae literally means "wood of life"). Regardless, you are right. It is remarkably dense.
   eander4 - Thursday, 11/06/03 09:20:21 EST

Down-side of belt grinders: Lots of particulates in the air (and in your lungs). I may be preaching to some of the choir here, but we all have to remember that when we switch up to more efficient machines we are also slinging a lot more "stuff" into the air and appropriate measures are in order.

"Not like the old days; when we did it by hand and used files and whetstones..." As a matter of fact, as soon as they combined circular grindstones to water power and early mass-production, cutlers started dieing early of silicosis and related industrial diseases.

Efficiency has its consequences. ;-)

Rainy and wet on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 11/06/03 09:31:00 EST

Wood Densities and Properties:

Average published densities for cured lumber.

Lignum Vitae has a specific gravity of 1.25
Ebony has a specific gravity of 1.22
Boxwood has a specific gravity of 1.06

Dogwood has a specific gravity 0.76 (it floats)
Walnut has a specific gravity 0.629
Cherry has a specific gravity 0.55

Rosewood is very dense (probably over 1.0) but I do not have a fiqure on it.

If you are looking for grip material the wood's other properties may be much more important. Good Lignum Vitae is almost imposible to find. Much today has the light sapwood in it. Lignum Vitae also has a tendance to shrink and crack. Carver's mallets made of it are sealed with wax and then need to be kept oiled to prevent cracking. Its most common application is under water bearings, followed by carving mallets.

Ebony is a wonderful material to work. You can get slab sized pieces from musical instument supliers. The good stuff is hard to find due to over cutting young trees. The best is jet black and like carving a very hard piece of charcoal. The grain is almost impossible to distinguish. The lesser grades have some brown streaks in them. You can finish it with a light oil (also available from Musical Instrument suppliers).

Rosewood is very interesting. If can be buffed and polished to a lacquer like surface without applying a finish. It has an oil in it that provides a natural finish. It is commonly used for high end musical intrument parts so it is available from suppliers like Stweart McDonalds Guitar Makers Supply.

There are many other exotics but I have not used them and do not know the particulars. There are many books and catalogs with information about exotic woods.

Some of the most "exotic" are unusual domestic varieties that are not used commercialy. American dogwood used to be used for weaving shuttles in steam powered looms. It is no longer harvested commercialy and is protected in some places. It has a white to pinkish color and a very dense closed grain that has a natural lubricity. It is wonderful to work but difficult to find.

This is one of those associated areas that if you are going to be a bladesmith that you need to become an expert in. It is not just about the steel. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/06/03 10:00:14 EST

point well taken on the particulates and grinders. without the proper filtering, eventual "granulomatous" lung issues will develop at least. dont know why the industry calls them "respirators".

   - rugg - Thursday, 11/06/03 10:37:14 EST

For knife blade handles don't forget Maple......it is hard, finishes beautifully, lasts a long time....and it's not particularly expensive. A good wood to start with while developing skills before spending a lot of money.
   Ellen - Thursday, 11/06/03 11:53:30 EST

Hard maple is often stained or dyed to look like other woods. Dyed maple is often used on musical instruments in place of ebony. Note that there is "hard rock maple" and just plain maple.

Good rock maple is about as hard as wood gets. You can also buy the fancy birds-eye variety. Exotic wood specialists also carry burrels and root ball material from various trees that are hard and colorful.

The tightness of the grain is not strictly related to the density of the wood. The high density woods DO have tight grains but so do many lighter woods such as those mentioned.

Like I said, Its another field that you can study for a lifetime.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/06/03 13:13:02 EST

for wood some one suggested hardwoods.com to me a while back. I hope it will be of use to you.
   Dragon-boy - Thursday, 11/06/03 13:16:39 EST

Czech Anvils: Guru, several days ago you said you were not sure if modern Czech anvils had soft edges. My 170# Czech anvil does have the edges soft enough to easily file. Also, I did a ball bearing test on my anvil and got 85%-95% rebound over the entire face. While these anvils cost twice as much per pound as the Russian anvils cost, they are still a bargain if you are ready to move up from the Russian anvil.

Tubular Shanks for Hardy Tools: My Russian anvil has that big trapezoidal hardy and the easiest way to make a tubular shank fit is to weld the shank to the tool, heat the shank and strike it on the edge so that it elongates the square cross section into a trapezoid. Tap it until it fits snug in the corners. I used 1" 11 gage square tube for my hardy shanks.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/06/03 13:24:10 EST

Knife handle woods: Ironwood is popular for density. It is so dense it does not take stabilization. Cocobolo is one I like very much, and is so naturally oily it does not take stabilization. Takes a very high polish, and is smoother and slicker than anything else I've tried, fresh from the saw.

Cherry, natural and without the disgusting black or red stains, is beautiful on handles. I also tried a piece of apple someone gave me and was very pleased with the result.

Maple is good stuff but (IMO) kind of plain unless you get some burl or one of the other curly patterns, or some with mineral stains.

   Steve A - Thursday, 11/06/03 13:36:35 EST

Maple grips are fairly common in a medieval context for knives and tools.

My personal favorite is holly: white, dense and takes a silky smooth finish. A tad hard to carve, and brittle if worked when it's "overcured" Still, well worth the trouble for that silky feel that it can have.

I have plenty of pecan, too! ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 11/06/03 15:41:13 EST

Re: handles. My source for hickory tomahawk handles has apparently quit stocking them. Anyone know of a source of plain (unvarnished)handles. Had no luck with hardwoods.com for raw mtl such as curley maple, etc...Thanx, Ron C
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 11/06/03 16:29:03 EST

Thanks for all the advise on Tweco 14T tips for burners and Russian Anvil Hardie Shafts.

The one thing that has has no response is where to find reducing tees for Reil Sidedraft burner.


   Dale - Thursday, 11/06/03 16:35:37 EST

Dale, If you do not have a local plumbing supply try McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com). They carry a very wide range of fittings. I shop at Lowes for the weird little fittings like the 1/8 NPT to 1/4 tube compression fittings that I use to hold the MIG tips. I shop at any one of several hardware or plumbing store for the big stuff because it comes in various styles. You want the conical shaped reducers not the bulbous hemispherical ones. There is no way to specify them other than by brand and most are not marked.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/06/03 16:49:40 EST

Bruce (Atli),
Next time you are comeing out to the PNWet you can bring me some pecan......(grin)
   Ralph - Thursday, 11/06/03 17:05:51 EST

Ron, since pecan is a good stand in for hickory, I believe that Atli could sell you a large number of hawk handles in kit form...

(did a medieval folding knife with a boxwood handle; sort of like working Al by hand...still have a nice little "V" scar from trying to carve on an ebony handle...)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/06/03 17:33:16 EST

Thanks. I tried a 1/2 dozen distributors in town with no luck. I'll try McMaster.com.
   Dale - Thursday, 11/06/03 17:38:55 EST

Guru, In Southern Indiana, dogwood grows almost like a weed, in the forrests and in years past the maul for riving out shingels with a froe was usually made from dogwood as it is very dense and tough. The root butt is the best, and my sister carved a fantasy githic walking stick from a root butt. It also made a mean shilleagh as it was so dense!
   ptree - Thursday, 11/06/03 18:36:22 EST

Few years ago the question was going around "name a wood that doesn't float". The answer de jour was "Natalle". Dark humor always seems to come out of tragedy.
   - grant - Thursday, 11/06/03 18:50:51 EST

Grant, Shame on you! Like O.J., I think Robert Wagner did it and got away with it.

P.S. re dogwood. It makes a really good mallet head for hot iron work. There is no flash, and the wood, although scorched, lasts a looong time. Many dogwoods have undergone a blight which first affects the leaves, then the trees themselves. In my view, if a tree's leaves begin to have a purple tinge on their margins, it is OK to use the wood for whatever.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/06/03 19:22:52 EST

Lignum Vitae is a very dense wood, particularly the heart wood. I have several L. vitae trees here on the property and a fair amount of cut pieces. Until the tree gets to about a foot in diameter, the sapwood is equal to or greater than the heartwood. While the heartwood is the densest and has the beautiful dark variegated grain, the sapwood is actually less prone to splitting. The heartwood can be finished to a high gloss finish with nothing bu polishing.

The heartwood is just SO hard it has an affinity for checking unless waxed immediately after cutting. When clearing after a hurricane, it is darn hard to remember to take a paraffin pot along with the chainsaw. When cutting L. Vitae, I've found that a Sawzall is far superior to a chainsaw, which only lasts for about 1/4 of one cut before becoming too dull to cut at all. I'll probably be cutting a limb about 10" by 3' sometime in the next few weeks and will slab it after I get the bandsaw moved. If any CSI member wants a few pieces to try out, email me.

I have access to a number of different, oddball tropical woods, some of which are pretty nice. Some of them are really nasty, too. (grin)
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/06/03 19:54:00 EST

Dale, you can buy the sidearm burner reducers from Larry Zoeller. His prices are fair. I buy mine from the local plumbing contractors supply. Ward brand has the right shape. The Stockham reducers are actually side outlet elbows, not reducing run tees. You want a 1-1/4 by 3/4 by 1-1/4 tee. You specify tees by run by run by branch size.

The 1/8" schedule 80 pipe nipples can by bought as 6 inch long, then cut in half giving you two pieces. tap the cut end for the 1/4-28 thread for miller/hobart tig tips.
   - Tony - Thursday, 11/06/03 21:45:55 EST

I've had some luck turning locust wood for mallets, hard, dense and turns well when green, it is not overly prone to checking. I turn them green then place them in hot to the touch minerial oil for a week, then two to three weeks in the Colorado dry air 15-20% relitive humidity, then polish with minerial oil.
   habu - Thursday, 11/06/03 22:05:49 EST

guru, i was looking at the forge weldingII in iForge. i saw that some people could forge weld with just two handfuls of coal. i was wondering if this could work with charcoal as well. and, if not, could the iron get yellow hot?
thank you
emin muil
   emin muil - Thursday, 11/06/03 23:49:41 EST

also guru,
i read somewhere that smiths in roman times used to use a special mixture of pigeon poo, honey, milk and other things. is this true?
emin muil
   emin muil - Friday, 11/07/03 00:17:01 EST

emin muil,

It has been my experience that bringing metal to yellow heat with charcoal requires a fairly deep fire. As such, a deep fire would be required for forge welding as well. Much more than two handfuls, I'm afraid, unless you have monsterously large hands ;-). Of course, there are others out there far more gifted than I who may have had a different experience.

I believe the statement you reference is regarding Steve Kayne. Steve is a very talented smith and uses some a very high quality coal. If anyone could pull that off, it would be him, but for the average smith, it would be an impressive feat. I use the same coal he does, but I still need a healthy-sized mound to trap enough heat to weld.

Can't say I know anything about the poo, but the Guru is a veritable cornucopia of both eclectic and useful information. He may know more on that one.
   eander4 - Friday, 11/07/03 01:30:03 EST

Steve A
ironwood , is this Ironbark (OZ eucalypt) by another name or whole different timber? Ironbark (either red or grey)is ,just like it sounds, a very hard oz hardwood
just curious

showers 13-27c Ipswich Australia

   - wayne - Friday, 11/07/03 08:30:54 EST

VICopper posted:

"I have access to a number of different, oddball tropical woods, some of which are pretty nice. Some of them are really nasty, too. (grin)"

Ah yes, I remember visiting paradise. Everything on land was poisonous, venomous or had long sharp spines while everything in the water was poisonous, venomous, had long sharp spines or could EAT you! Fortunately "local knowledge" tipped us off to what NOT to do, so we could enjoy the beauty.

Returning to a previous theme, a number of woods are very pretty, but you run the risk of allergic or toxic reactions. Cocobolo (sp?) is infamous for this, but there are a number of others that will also cause problems, depending on your body chemistry and exposure. (I'm starting to sound like an alarmist of late-"Beware the grinder! Watch out for the wood! The sky is FALLING!" Thank God(s) iron is moderately benign to our immune systems. ;-)

Wet but clearing on the banks of the Potomac. And yes, I have a wealth of hawk-handle lengthed pecan!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 11/07/03 08:40:57 EST

Wood Alergies: This problem seems to be worst with fruit woods (apple, cherry, walnut) and the super hard exotics. Some people have to wear gloves while sanding. I have been lucky and never been bothered by fruit wood dust. But like any dust it is not good to breathe.
   - guru - Friday, 11/07/03 09:15:22 EST

Odd Fluxes Many things have been used for fluxes that sorta worked or just covered the iron. Bird dropings have been used in case hardening mixtures and some speculated that it was nitriding rather than carburizing but the time needed and density of the atmosphere did not seem to appear to make that possible. Fluxes have included everything from mud daubers clay nests, sand, urine and rice hulls.

Steve Kayne did that demonstration for me when he was still living in NY while discussing coal quality and forge welding. A clean forge, a handful of good bituminous coal and a forge weld in less than 5 minutes. He will also tell you that a good fire pot is required to make a green coal weld (besides experiance).

Once while on a country wide vaction tour Steve and his family were in the Pacific North West and happened upon a blacksmiths convention (perhaps the NWBA). He said they were using local coal and everyone was going through their careful routine of building a beehive fire, coking the coal and so on. . . So he hoisted out his coal forge, tossed in a handful of coal and did that same forge welding demonstration. Just to drive folks nuts. . .

I met Steve and Shirley in Virgina while he was on that same trip. He smelled coal forge smoke from out on the Interstate, took the next exit and found me doing a show in Abingdon, VA (about 10 miles from the Interstate).

When I tell folks the blacksmithing world is small and you cannot get away with much for long they don't believe me just HOW small.

Charcoal Heats: Everything in proportion. What are you welding? A fire a few inches deep (50-75mm) with fine coals can be gotten to a welding heat suitable to weld small iron wire. No bellows is needed, a fire this size can be human blown.

Lump size is critical to make a dense hot fire using charcoal. If the lumps are too big the fire density will be too low. IF the lumps are too small air cannot flow and ash will quickly clog the fire. The fellows with the Rockbridge Bloomery have found that they can cut their charcoal usage by a third while greatly increasing their productivity by carefull screening their charcoal for size. Oversize lumps are broken up or both the lumps and fines used for other things but not as part of the smelting charge.

From Frank Turley: "In Japan, the smiths are very particular about their charcoal quality and size. The smiths use pine charcoal. From The Craft of the Japanese Sword we learn that the apprentices spend large amounts of time breaking up the charcoal into specific sizes.
   - guru - Friday, 11/07/03 09:15:52 EST

Wood Mallets: This spring we cut down a grove of Paradise trees that were threatening to take over the front yard. This fast growing import is considered a pest in the South and most places that it grows. These were 3 to 6" in diameter and 20 feet tall in 4-5 years. . . Its an oriental import like kudzu and all the jokes apply (yes your neighbors are within their rights to shoot you if you get caught planting either).

Just for grins I drilled 1" holes in a couple pieces about 3" in diameter and 8" long, then stripped the bark (it peals off like a bannana peal leaving a smooth surface) and then glued in 1" hardwood dowel handles into the fresh green wood. Then we let them dry and shrink around the handles. When the wood started checking we soaked them with boiled linseed oil. That stoped most of the checking.

Now then . . . we have done EVERYTHING wrong. We used crummy trash wood, worse - we used it in-the-round. AND we used it fresh cut. . .

It made GREAT mallets for straightening hot work and they seem to be holding up fine. It is tough and fairly heavy. The great thing is that they were super easy to make, the only cost some 1" maple dowel, and we used wood that would have otherwise been disposed of (it doesn't make good fuel - but I haven't tried coaling it). And they keep apprentices from using your carving mallets on hot iron. . . If they are still holding up in a year I will let you know.
   - guru - Friday, 11/07/03 09:40:50 EST

Remember that charcoal was *THE* fuel of the iron age and is still probably the fuel most used in blacksmihing today around the world. The viking era patternwelded swords were welded and forged in charcoal, the kris was/is forged in charcoal, the katana was/is forged in charcoal.

But; they are using real charcoal not briquettes and the forges are optimized for charcoal use, (you want to contain it and work with a deeper fire so a narrow forge with walls that insulate helps.

As was mentioned many odd and strange mixtures have been used trying to turn iron to steel. It was the 1780's before they finally figured out that it was *carbon* that made the difference, long after they had good methods of making it. (Theophilus wrote down a perfectly sound method of carburizing iron in 1120 AD)

The one I liked was to file your metal down and mix it with the goose feed and then collect the "results" and refine that...

More elements than carbon will harden steel; phosphorous and nitrogen come to mind but their properties are not nealy as nice as carbon, (phosphorous makes the steel hard to forge due to temperature shortness). In particular we do have good examples of the use of Phosphorous hardened iron in use for iron age celtic swords.

Even stranger were the quenching compounds that were supposed to make *harder* steels, snail water and radish juice are common constituents.

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/07/03 10:59:37 EST

Guru's: I have a question that I hope one of you can answer. What exactly is ductile iron, the kind used in plumbing piping and wood plane bodies. And how does it compare to regular grey or white cast iron, besides the obvious of course that it is less brittle and more malleable. Lastly can it be forged, or is it only suited to foundry work (casting0, and machining?

   Jeff - Friday, 11/07/03 12:44:02 EST

Ductile Iron: this starts as regular gray cast iron but is inoculated with magnesium. This forms the graphite into nodules instead of flakes. The result is a cast iron with slightly better ductility. Like all cast irons, it is not suitable for forging.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 11/07/03 12:59:31 EST

I am seeking a parts list with a view of a champion drill like the one in your story of the portable shop. Also am interested in the availablity of parts and where to look...
As to age and skill: old but willing...
   g spencer - Friday, 11/07/03 13:41:02 EST

Ductile iron can also be arc welded, a big advantage.

Champion Drill: G_Spencer, The Champion Catalog CD we have lists dozens of hand crank drills that get larger and larger until they become belt driven floor models. They all have slightely different parts and there is no list in the catalog. These were being made in the 1870's up until the 1950's but are no longer being made. At the time you had to contact the factory for parts. Today there are no parts. You have to make them yourself. Sorry for the bad news.
   - guru - Friday, 11/07/03 14:38:45 EST

Thomas, The store-bought hickory handles are only about 3-31/2 $$. I think the ready-made curley maple handles are about $15. With a blank the right size, I can finish a handle in about an hour...The machine turns 'em out in seconds, but if you have really pretty wood blanks and a damascus tomahawk, it's worth it. Ron C
   Ron Childers - Friday, 11/07/03 15:27:51 EST

I picked up some hydraulic cylinder shafts today - 2" & 1" dia. What kind of steel might they be? I am thinking 4140 or similar?
   mystery steel - Friday, 11/07/03 16:55:25 EST

explanation of what the blacksmiths tool, idea or concept is and what it is used for
   - paul - Friday, 11/07/03 16:58:51 EST

Paul did you really want to know what I use my tool for? Or did you want to take the trouble to phrase you question a bit more carefully? :)
   adam - Friday, 11/07/03 17:11:18 EST

I'm trying to teach myself how to be a blacksmith and was wondering if using a fire or coal grill would work as a forge for the first few progects? This would only be until I bought or made a real one.
   Chase - Friday, 11/07/03 17:29:51 EST

Mystery Steel: Adam, Most are a high strength steel that is hard chrome plated. But many are also stainless steel that is hard chrome plated. It is also common to surface harden hydraulic and air cylinder shafts. They are like all junk yard steels, a mystery and you are the metallurgist.

See the spark test chart from the Metals for Engineering Craftsman review. Harden and temper a sample. Quench in various media. If it cracks from water hardening then it is an oil or air hardening steel. Test the hardness and draw back to different temperatures and test the hardness again. Try to forge a piece. Overheat the steel. If it crumbles it is a high alloy steel.

Recently my apprentice tried to make something out of a spring. The as-found temper could be sawed easily. He forged a blade, annealed then reheated and quenched it. Then tried to flex it. . . brittle as glass, snapped in two. It required drawing to a dark blue to not be brittle and a file still skated off it. Pretty high carbon stuff. The as found spring temper was probably beyound the color tempering range. . It was just a cheap old shock add-on spring. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/07/03 19:21:41 EST

i just remembered that when i built my first fire out of charcoal, i used about a large zip loc bag of charcoal and, without a forge blower or a proper oven, got the metal up to a bright orange.
emin muil
   emin muil - Friday, 11/07/03 19:28:15 EST

Weldind cast Iron:
The other day I rescued an old vise from disuse. Another Parker. The Box that the screw goes through is cracked for about a third of its length. I was thinking of gas welding the crack. But it seems that these vises may have been made from higher grade cast iron. Could that be ductile cast iron? How about mig welding? Thanks
PS I have anothe vise (free) the screw box is gone, broken off long ago. any Ideas to bring this back from ashes?
   - Ron J. - Friday, 11/07/03 20:39:30 EST

Hydraulic and pnuematic cylinder tubing is typically a drawn over mandrel, seamless, honed high carbon steel tube. Having worked in the test lab of a cylinder mfg about 21 years ago, I can say that I never knew that mfg or any other to hard chrome the cylinder barrels. Hydraulic cylinders often have cast iron piston rings, and with metal rings the normal practice is to have one chromed and one unchromed surface.The rods however of all decent to good cylinders are Induction hardened,hard chromed and ground.The stainless steel rods are few and far between. The tie rods of the decent cylinders are a Steel know as STRESSPROOF, this is a roll threadable, but VERY high tensile strenght steel that is VERY fatique resistant. If I remember correctly this steel is rated to at least 120,ooo psi tensile, yet is ductile enough to be rollthreaded. The cylinder barrels are also very tough. Have to be to pass the fatique tests.
For those wishing to use cylinder materials, forging is a poor choice as most of the steels are specially heat treated as found. The rods are very usefull, but are intended to be machined not forged. To get through the chrome on the rod, turn in a lathe, with carbide tooling, and start the tool on the rod end, in about .030, and turn to pop off the brittle chrome. If using the rod as a pin, if you want to put a cotter hole in just grind about .030 deep, on both sides and then drill. The thickness of the chrome is only about .005 thick. The induction hardening is to impart stiffness and toughness, not a high hardness.
   ptree - Friday, 11/07/03 20:59:18 EST

Wayne, ironwood and ironbark. I'm not sure. The stuff I've seen on the knife sites is called "desert ironwood". I'm looking for a site with some more technical name. Ah - www.arizonaironwood.com. Olneya tesota. Grows in lower U.S. and Mexico. Ironbark (according to home.vicnet.net.au/~woodlink/ironbark.htm) is Eucalyptus sideroxylon, and from the description sounds like it, too, would make a beautiful handle for a knife or chisel.

Thanks for motivating me to do this research. I've wondered for a while about ironwood, because there was a tree along the school nature trail when I was a kid that was labeled "ironwood", and it always fascinated me, for some reason. I guess I still don't know what that is...

I am now on my way out to the forge. Still weeks to Christmas and it feels like I'm way behind. Did the twisting part of eight basket twist handles for fireplace tools last night. And pushed on with six sets of tongs... What I really need to get a start on is plant stands ad nauseum. But I do notice that skills really improve when doing a "production run". And I like giving stuff I make, and most recipients get a kick out of it...

Sorry if too much of this post got extraordinarily geeky about something that's a bit off topic.

   Steve A - Friday, 11/07/03 21:44:43 EST

SEMA..was at the sema show today and saw some amazing demos. i saw a guy drill through a large roughing end mill using a cheezy drill press. i just dont understand how the bit did it. he also drilled through a file, with ease. demo worked; i bought a set of the bits. will test them this w/e. anyone see this before??

lincoln electric had a nice exibit. got to see the tig and plasma cutter in action. did my best to talk the guy into welding two aluminum cans together, but to no avail...
   rugg - Friday, 11/07/03 22:59:57 EST

Aussie hard woods

there are a couple of hardwood which have great patterns in them, one is gidgee from outback australia very hard heavy and burns great it can crack cast iron if used for long periods - hence the crack in my forge, the other one which i have just been introduced to is Blackwood - it is very reddy brown colour with a lovely grain pattern a friend had a table made out of it off their farm its great but very very heavy.

cheers from a hot Aussie day
   banjo - Friday, 11/07/03 23:04:46 EST

I am a welder/machinist/fabricator/mechanic/posthole digger/samill operator who is trying to get into timberframing. I have my granddad's buffalo forge and 250# anvil. I'm making some chisels for cutting my timbers. The socket firmer chisels are best suited to this work. I need a hint as to how the oldtimers formed their sockets. Do you have any ideas?
   Danny Pendry - Friday, 11/07/03 23:11:03 EST

Ever heard of adding sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride) to your flux recipes? I saw a guy use what he said was anhydrous borax, iron shavings, and a little sal ammoniac. It made a darned sticky weld. In the book, "Practical Blacksmithing" I found it listed as a flux for copper and brass. I found a source for it on the net that is sold as a tinning flux. What do you think?
Thanks again
   Wendy - Friday, 11/07/03 23:23:00 EST

I sometimes use sal ammoniac mixed in with borax. When it's sold as a tinning flux, it comes in blocks which is not so convenient. I found some powedered at a photographic chemical supply house, online. I think Brazo which is sold as a brazing flux has sal ammoniac. I have started using Brazo for welding in my gas forge.
   adam - Friday, 11/07/03 23:44:52 EST

Hello all...About 1 year ago I purchased a small batch of pure Iron from Art&Metal co up in Mass. with the intention of doing some hands on forging, and buying another small batch. Now i've discovered that a couple folks have bought out their discontinued stock, and have asked to remain anon.

I'm very interested in restocking, and I'm only looking for a small lot of material ( 500-1000 lbs max)to reforge for smaller ornamental art pieces, similiar to the photo of the copper pieces attached.


If anyone here can help me out, or is willing to part with a small lot of this Pure Iron material, it would be greatly appreciated. I'm happy to respect privacy. Many Thxs for the consideration,

Best Regards,

John Madarasz http://www.copperwork.com
   John Madarasz - Saturday, 11/08/03 00:01:40 EST


   John Madarasz - Saturday, 11/08/03 00:09:11 EST

Fancy Drills: Rugg, I've seen all kinds of odd things demonstrated that could not be reproduced elsewhere. Drilling very hard materials is usualy done with carbide tools, high speed and very high pressure. The pressure is necessary to force the edge into the material to cut. With enough speed many hard steels heat to the softening point. Good HSS will not. Let off the pressure a little and the bit rubs, embeds pieces of itself in the work then self destructs. Run too slow and the softening does not occur.
I wouldn't discount that "ratty drill press". One of my geared head flat belt drive drill presses is over 100 years old, was rescued from the scrap heap, the gears roar, it has parts missing and a table that looks like one of the rougher parts of a moonscape. But it will push a 1" drill through steel plate while making continous heavy blue curled chips. It'll put that 1" drill through 1" plate in less than a minute. . . And fill up trash cans with chips fast enough to just about be a full time job to haul them away. And it is still sensitive enough to bury a 3/16" bit in over 2" of stacked plates over and over. . .

The art of drilling is to ALWAYS make chips. As soon as you do not have enough pressure to make chips that is often the end. . .

Less us know how they work for you.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/03 00:21:26 EST

Pure Iron: John, It can still be bought directly from overseas. Its just a pain arranging for the shipping. AND be prepared to have the dock and wharehouse guys try to nail you with outrageous storage fees if you are not there to accept delivery immediately.

Your work looks nice but many folks crank out exactly the same type work in mild steel. The PI guys claim a significant labor savings but I expect that is exagerated. However, there ARE classes of work that it can make significantly easier.

There are a number of folks selling old wrought. It is around $1/pound and the sizes are often hard to handle. But it doesn't require overseas shipping.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/03 00:40:51 EST

Eratz Forge: Chase, many things can be converted to a forge many can not. A sheet metal charcoal grill is generally too light a gauge of metal. For forging all forges need a blast of air. This is normally provided by a bellows or a blower (electric or hand crank). Many fuels will get hot enough with a blower to do forge work and none will get hot enough without (except under unusual wind conditions).

Forges can, have and do range from a hole in the ground to a wood box filled with dirt or brick constructions to sophisticated metal platforms with ash blower, dump, chimney and water trough.

A hole in the ground and a blower of some type is pretty simple but works. Thousands of smiths world wide use nothing more and produce beautiful work.

The next step is the same thing in a raised platform. Mud and wattle was often used. Then that became brick.

A stacked brick forge is very easy to construct. You make a floor about two brick lengths wide and then make two walls about a foot high spaced about one brick length apart. Are is blown in from the side through a gap in the bricks about mid forge. The walls are a single course. All the brich is loose and easy to adjust. This is an efficient charcoal forge design and is what the Japanese prefer.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/03 01:44:25 EST

while I am definately not an expert, I do think PI does work that much easier than mild. And it is much easier than wrought.... But is it enough to justify the cost.... now that is the 64K question.

I would say that in the US of A the answer is no.
   Ralph - Saturday, 11/08/03 02:35:18 EST

Human Blown Fire: I was way way out in the boonies, on a construction site. On my time off, I decided to tinker with an old wringer washer that needed some work. There were no torches on the site, and I had a rusted nut on the bottom side that wouldn't lossen. So I made a basket out of hardware cloth,(1/2" mesh), then put charcoal from a campfire into the basket, which was wrapped around the nut. I blew on the lit charcoal with a little piece of hose 'till the nut was red-orange, and unscrewed it. Had a serious case of grins that afternoon.
Hardwoods: I do timbering tool demonstrations, which includes splitting cedar rails for fencing. I've learned as much from old guys telling me stuff during breaks, as I have from reading books. Problem is, they're dying off. So if you know or meet one, ask questions while you still can.
Anyway they told me to make my "gluts" (wooden wedges) from dogwood. I use hickory for the mauls, (cave-man club), and they disentigrate after a good lot of work, but the dogwood wedges just hang in there.
I was also told that some grist mill waterwheel bearings where made from osage-orange, and that there are wood buyers from Germany coming to East Tennessee to buy dogwood beacause it's used for some spool part they make as part of a manufacturing process over there. Apparently no other substance has the right properties. Just what I heard.
   James Donahue - Saturday, 11/08/03 02:37:59 EST


hi guys and gals just wondering if you could have a look at this vice for me please let me know what your thoughts are??????

many thanks
   banjo - Saturday, 11/08/03 05:36:34 EST


I've never seen one exactly like that, but I have seen a few similar advertised on eBay U.S. They are like most of the one-tool-does-many-things tools, they don't do any of their functions really well.

The thing is cast iron and, therefore, worthless as an anvil. There is no overshoot on the vise jaws, making them of very limited use. I can't see for sure how it would function as a drill press, but it certainly wouldn't do that as well as a good hand drill or post drill.

If you like the novelty of it, fine. That is what "collecting" is all about, in many cases. But, if you want a working tool, save your money. As a working tool, it would only bring you grief.

Just my opinion, your mileage may vary.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/08/03 06:12:12 EST


beautful night in ipswich Australia 15-28 c tomrrow
   - wayne - Saturday, 11/08/03 06:30:36 EST

Ron J. My forte is not electric welding, but I've had luck on cast iron cracks by forward and back stepping with tacks using the high nickel cast iron stick-electrodes or stainless electrodes. I peen as the puddles cool with the chipping hammer point. Then I fill between the tacks. I think that Ridgid mills their slides out of steel, so that would be a different animal.

Danny Pendry, I have a few ideas, but I don't know exactly how the old semi-manufactured ones were done. I have an old slick and I don't even like the socket; it is short, and the blind hole doesn't go in far enough. The old chisels were usually made of wrought iron with the steel bit welded on the business side. Using some of the old methodology, I make a socket by top & bottom fullering a flat bar on edge and spreading the metal into a fan shape on one side of the fuller marks. On the other side I reduce on edge, letting the metal thicken so I can make a lap weld scarf. The fan is then welded to end of the chisel blank. The fan shape which is about 70║ (it will vary) is rolled up free hand, some cross-peened in the anvil step, but mostly on the horn starting at the slightly thicker small end. True it up on a small horn. In the past, I have oxy welded the gap or I have left it unwelded and rivet-pinned the handle in. I suppose you could forge weld the gap over a small horn. Gun barrels were welded along their length in early times over a mandrel. It is a form of butt weld; no scarf is used on the gun barrel or a shut would appear on the barrel insides. For the socket, I don't think that would matter, so you could either butt or lap.

Sal ammoniac. It's modern name is ammonium chloride. Old chemical names and the current usage, I think are listed in the Dixie gun catalogs.

Donahue, "Glut" is also a smithing term used in forge welding to get a squared up corner. It is an extra piece of steel welded into a pre-cut corner bend in order to fill the outside corner.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/08/03 09:30:11 EST

Thxs guru...I really like the plastic qualities of the PI, very similiar to forging copper, and the fact that it seems to hold the heat longer. I've forged quite a bit of mild steel, and only just recently found that I much prefer the pure Iron simply because of the hot working properties. I hope someone can help me out in the States...If not, I won't hesitate to go overseas. I've even spoken with some blokes from England who manufacture real wrought Iron...but I have very little experience with that...except to know that if it's not triple refined or similar quality, it's not worth my time to take the chance with it.

Thanks again for the feedback, Best Wishes

   John Madarasz - Saturday, 11/08/03 10:20:11 EST

RE: Sal Ammoniac

As a full time Coppersmith, I've been working with this particular flux for 20 some years...after working with several different manufacturers products, I highly recommend the Allen Brand... it's great stuff. You can get it from the Warner Crivellaro Co....here's the link, or Order direct from the Allen Co.

   John Madarasz - Saturday, 11/08/03 10:28:07 EST

Combination Vise: VIc is right. Most of these tools are very inconvienient to use. This one looks worse than others. They were once popular among hobbiests and are now collectors items. Save your money for a dedicated vise.

Chisel Socket Frank gave the old method and many folks still use it. However, modern makers that want a tool rather than a reproduction use pipe for the socket. Many of the old tools split at the socket weld.

Start with a piece of pipe the size of the large end of the socket and then work it down to the taper. The small end becomes thicker walled as you work it down so watch the inner hole diameter. The chisel is prepared with a short tang about 1" long and a round shoulder for the socket to stop on. The tang is upset in the socket then the whole joint is fluxed, heated to a welding heat and joined.

I prefer a similar non-socket design with a large shoulder and about a 3/8" to 1/2" diameter tang to go in a round hole. The shoulder wants to be as large as the end of the chisle and a band. If you look at Sears wood chisels they have a similar joint without the band. Some of the European makers of wood chisles use a similar joint. When making a chisle of this type it is easier to start with a piece of round stock close to the shoulder size or the same. Forge the round tang then the blade. If you need to upset the shoulder form the tang then upset over a hole in a swage block or bolster plate. Be sure to have a healthy radius in the tang to shoulder corner.

Sal Ammoniac Ocassionaly I hear of people adding this to their borax flux. Some also add boric acid. Some claim better results others say no. Sal Ammoniac has traditionaly been a soldering flux.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/03 11:50:46 EST

Pure Iron: I have no doubt this is great stuff but cost and availability are serious issues. The US is a large country and most smiths are used to the steel distribution system where they can pick up what they need on short notice from a nearby wharehouse. Using PI meant stocking significant raw material inventory at a high cost. Most of us stock what we need for a month at a time or by the job and keep some stocks considerably longer. But the higher the price of the material the shorter a time you can afford to have it in inventory.

With steel if you understock for a job the delay may cost a day or so but with PI it could be a week or more depending on the size.

These problems coupled with price may be what killed the US PI guys (I do not know the details). I do know they advertised heavily in print but did no web advertising (at least not here). It is also an inventory intensive low markup business.

My regret is that I did not even buy samples to play with and use for comparisons. I would not mind seeing someone else in the PI business but I wouldn't want it to be me.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/03 12:20:54 EST

More on Socketed Chisels: As mentioned most of the handmade wrought socketed chisels I have seen had problems with splits and weld failures. However, the factory made chisels hold up great. They are usualy made from one piece of steel. The sockets are formed by deep punching in a tapered form using an upsetter or forging machine. The same can be done in a power hammer but requires some special tooling. It could possibly be done by hand with a helper but would not be easy even for experianced smiths.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/03 12:30:40 EST

"The shoulder wants to be as large as the end of the chisle and a band." Well I THINK I know what you're talking about and I'm sure you know, but do you mean like a ferrule on the end of the handle?

Years ago I made hundreds of socket chisels and slicks. I found (when made from solid tool steel) that an unwelded socket made from a fishtail like Turley described will spring open ever so slightly when the handle is driven in and hold the handle very tight. This would probably not work with mild steel. I also used to forge the socket in a swage to form the outside and then step drill it and ream with 15 degree taper reamer. This was my prefered method for making a laminated 3" slick. I atarted with 1-3/4 inch round and swaged the socket first, then I forged the blade into a rectangle cross-section, layed in (forge welded) the W-1 tool steel for the edge and forged out the blade. Man! I can't believe I used to do so much work for so little money!
   - grant - Saturday, 11/08/03 12:35:58 EST

I am putting together my first blacksmith shop and could use some help regarding the proper "class A" chimney needed for my coal forge. I have purchased a half-hood with an 8" flue pipe diameter.
* Can I use standard 8" stove pipe for the chimney?
* Does the chimney have to go straight up thru the roof or can it be elbowed out a window?
* Is there a cap I can buy or make that will eliminate any hot ash from leaving the chimney?
   - Helmut - Saturday, 11/08/03 14:15:51 EST

Yes, the shoulder should be as large as the ferrule.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/03 16:17:39 EST

Coal Forge Flue Helmut, 8" is a minimum and should feed into something larger. It will work if there are few bends, the total is tall enough to create a good draft and the opening is not in a location where air movement chokes the draft. But you will still have a smokey shop.

Pipe for coal needs to be the heavy galvanised stove pipe. The thin black pipe will rust through in a season or less. The galvanized pipe will often only last a few years depending on the humidity in your location so stainless is recommended for permanent parts.

Normally the 8" diameter is for a connector into a larger permanent flue such as brick or triple wall stainless. 10" and larger work best for individual continous flue pipes on forges.

Half hoods are more wind break than hood. Both half hoods and full hoods have too large of openings and suck in a lot of cold air, diluting the hot air and reducing the draft. These were popularized back when the hoods fed into an exhust system powered by a large fan.

Side draft hoods with a small opening work well with a 10" pipe and often work with an 8" pipe if the fire is not too large.

Venting through a window is often not permitted by local building code. Roof penetrations now require triple wall roof penetration flanges. If the stack can be directly over the forge you can run a length of triple wall to just below ceiling height (or where a ceiling would go) and meet it with single wall pipe from the forge. However, the method used MAY be covered by local building, safety or fire code.

A friend put two large forges in his shop. He decided he was going to do it "right" this time and used 12" or larger stacks. The hoods were large funnel shaped things that LOOK like they should work great. The openings were about 3 feet in diameter and tapered up at less than 60 degrees.

They smoked constantly from the first fire to the last. If the shop had not had 20 foot or greater ceilings it would have been unusable. The problem was the large opening.
With the 12" pipe he could have run the pipe to within a foot or so of the forge and been smoke free without a hood. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/03 16:54:29 EST

just today, i set up my forge and started her up. this has been the second time i have done it in about 5 weeks. since then, i have obtained a forge blower, have made my own barbecue style forge that works very well and after many hours of searching, an anvil. i have also been building many fires in my fireplace to make charcoal. when i used the charcoal today however, sparks and embers went flying everywhere. since i live in a city, i immediattely shut off the blower and cleared all the charcoal out. then, just as a last resort, i piled up about 12-16 briquettes and tried to get the metal at least to a dull red heat. to my amazement however, when i turned on the blower, the briquettes burned much hotter then i had anticipated. in about 5 minutes, i had a glowing orange piece of rebar under my hammer. however, i had used up too many briquettes prior to this so i could not finish my workpiece. yay!!
emin muil
   emin muil - Saturday, 11/08/03 19:59:34 EST

Hello again,
Can anyone give me the dimensions of their favorite backing plate (vice mount) used in fashioning animal heads etc?
Thanks so much!
   Wendy - Saturday, 11/08/03 21:16:53 EST

Hello gentlemen. My name is Kipper, I'm a 27 year old native of Tennessee who has had the privelege of learning historical blacksmithing relating to the period around 1750 for the last 6 months. I am trying to find where I can get the largest amount of charcoal for the least amount of money. Since this is what I learn on, I thought I would continue to use it at home. The biggest bags I can find are 20 lbs for $8.00 a bag. Is this a good price? Where can I get more? I am also trying to get everything I need to forge at my house. Again, I have not been at this long. I have gotten a 100 lbs. anvil made by the Fisher company in 1902, and a friend of mine provided me with a history of the company. Now I am trying to find out about my pole vise. The jaws are 4 inch, and the vise is marked "Indian Chief" beneath the handle. I defer to your knowledge gentlemen, and gratefully thank you ahead of time for anything you can tell me. Warm regards and Happy Striking,
   Kipper Evans - Saturday, 11/08/03 22:10:39 EST

Kipper; so you are working in wrought iron and not mild steel? When we do an iron smelting run using charcoal we usually go to the manufacturer and buy it direct in 40# bags.

Since it's fairly close to the smelting site we go to Humphry's in Brookville PA; Royal Oak is one of the *large* manufacturers and has plants in several states IIRC.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/08/03 22:51:20 EST

Have you built your forge yet? if you have not, i could give you some advice on the way i built mine. it is small but it works. oh its portable and takes up about 10 ft square. i made it out of a round piece of sheet metal, incised the sides with tin snips and bent them up. i then attached another piece of sheet metal to the side for a shield and bolted it in place. i bent the top of the shield to make a roof. i then fasioned a stand out of rebar. i put a grate in and then i snipped out a hole in the middle where air could get through. i then covered the bottom with potter's clay. i then put a copper pipe attached to a pipe flange and slid it through the hole. i attached that to my forge blower and there it was.
Hope this helps
emin muil

Note: this forge (depending on how big the sheet metal is ) is ideal for projects up to 2.5 feet in length. also, if you make the bottom too big, the forge will sag.
   emin muil - Saturday, 11/08/03 23:00:09 EST

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