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This is an archive of posts from November 18 - 25, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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This may have been on the Pub some ago, but I do not remember -- When did wrought iron manufacturing decline in the U.S.? An old bridge, from circa 1900, is scheduled to be replaced in a year or so -- what are the chances it is wrought iron versus the modern stuff? Thanks for your help.
   Milt - Monday, 11/17/03 23:20:53 EST

Adam, working on exact measurements (stay tuned) he did say however it was the biggest anvil he had ever seen and would have to go on a 2 tonne truck not back of ute????????? lets see
   banjo - Tuesday, 11/18/03 00:03:33 EST

How do you think i could make a dagger/knife out of a piece of round 1/2 inch stock? should i hammer it flat or is there some special way to make it look good? and by the way, i did my first twist a few days ago on a drive hook! i was very excited and was surprised at how easy it was.
emin muil
   emin muil - Tuesday, 11/18/03 00:06:12 EST

Banjo & Adam:

Sounds real close to the dimensions of a 950 pound anvil a friend of mine has. the really impressive thing I remember about that anvil was that sitting right on the ground, it was at just the right height for sledging. Please note: I don't personally believe there is one ideal height for mounting an anvil. The smaller the work the higher I want the anvil. How high should the anvil be when you have a 2 inch high bottom swage + 3 inches of work + a five inch tall top swage? Maybe an anvil should be mounted on a hydraulic cylinder so it can always be at the wrong height...................that IS the problem with making things adjusable you know! They're always out of adjustment.
   - grant - Tuesday, 11/18/03 00:33:10 EST

First you'll want to use a good quality steel so it will hold an edge after hardening and tempering.
The basic process is called "drawing". It's stretching in one direction, lengthwise in this case. It is done by heating the steel and striking it by turns on alternating sides forcing it to elongate into a taper .Stop striking when the steel turns dull red and reheat.
Once you have a good long taper, start spreading the steel sideways. You will want to thin the side to be sharpened more that the back of the knife. This will cause the whole knife to bend towards the spine. If you don't want this bend, make a counter-bend before you start to forge out the cutting edge. Once you get close to the right shape, anneal and start filing or grinding. Once you are finished, that's just the beginning...grin
Banjo: that size anvil is the sort of thing smiths salivate over...it's why they get all rusty.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 11/18/03 02:02:34 EST

Can I ramble a little? My comments above reminds me of a an old riddle: which is more accurate, a watch that gains two minutes a day or a watch that has stopped? Well, the one that is stopped is right two times a day, right?

And that reminds me of the mis-information about the history of the chronometer. TV specials perpetuate the myth that the chronometer has to be accurate. In fact, a good chronometer CAN be wildly inaccurate. It only needs to be predictable! Old navigation chronometers came with correction factors to be used with that clock only. In navigation, the chronometer was never reset, only the proper corrections made to the calculations.
   - grant - Tuesday, 11/18/03 02:25:02 EST

MILT: The chances are real good that it IS wrought. I've been eyeballing an old water tower at an abandoned factory in my area that I know has about 500 feet of 1 1/2" square wrought iron wind bracing on the tower legs. It was built in 1917 by The Chicago Bridge Co. Could be the same folks who built your bridge
   3dogs - Tuesday, 11/18/03 03:34:17 EST

Tavern Puzzles?
I have seen some of these metal puzzles, made out of horse shoes, nails, rod, ect. Does anyone have a sorce for plans looks like they would make nice Christmas gifts. Thanks
   Pete - Tuesday, 11/18/03 04:42:02 EST

Hello, my name is Nikolay Semenov. I`m from St. Petersburg, Russia.

I`m 30 years old metall designer with 10 years of experience

The thing is that I`m trying to find any kind of Internet resources concerning
Art Contests, grants and projects I could contribute to.

Would you be so kind to tell me a couple of such sites which you consider useful.

Thanks you.
   Nikolay Semenov - Tuesday, 11/18/03 06:12:17 EST

Grant, I think the problem was that the *old* chronometers were *not* predictable since as their mainsprings aged their characteristics changed; especially a problem when they broke...Huntsman's goal was getting a uniform steel to use insteat of non-homogeneous blister steel. TV likes to simplify things until they are no longer accurate.

MILT: There is a pretty good chance it's wrought. Mild steel became commercially important after the ACW with the use of the Kelly/Bessemer and the Open Hearth processes; but there was a lag especially in things that *had* to be predictable and for things that needed to corrosion resistance of WI. ISTR WI being speced for bridges in Florida even into the 1950's!

My water tower was installed in 1929 and only the tank was WI the support tower was milds steel, alas.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/18/03 07:51:02 EST

Antique Andirons: Rob, This is a question for the Antique Road Show or some similar expert on antiques. We deal with a lot of antique tools here dealing in their prices as working tools rather than collector's items. When prices are based on collectors values they are completely crazy.

In North American blacksmithing many of us regularly use anvils that are over 150 years old and stake anvils that may be 300 years old. I suspect some European smiths use older tools. Yes, many of these tools SHOULD be in museums. However, industrial history museums are far and few between and many very rare machines that are of significant historic value have gone to scrap in recent years.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/18/03 10:29:49 EST

Could anyone enlighten or direct me to some information regarding the process of making brass in layed wooden handels? Specifically the handel is going on a small knife. 6" in length from tip to tail. 3" of blade and 3 of black walnut inlaid with brass. On the other hand It might wind up with alternating bands of black walnut and brass, if I can't find info on inlays that is. ;)
   dragon-boy - Tuesday, 11/18/03 11:28:34 EST

Whoever Cahill was, he must have made a number of these andirons. There was an inquiry here on 3/13/01 about a set in New York.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 11/18/03 11:50:50 EST

ROB: See http://www.lesantiques.com/lac/0001485.html (do those look like yours?)
   3dogs - Tuesday, 11/18/03 12:09:17 EST

Dragon-boy: What sort of inlays are you wanting? If, for instance, you wanted a star in the middle of a flat slab, first you make you brass star by cutting it out of thin sheet. 0.025" is great, but it can be thicker. If it's too thin it's harder to inlay, believe it or not. Finish the edges of the star to the final expected dimensions. Place it directly onto the wood exactly where you want it to go, making sure that the wood is very close to finished profile.

Now, holding the star in place very tightly indeed, CAREFULLY trace around it with an exacto-type knife or very sharp pencil. I use the knife because it establishes the edges of the cut, but if you aren't careful it's easy to make the recess for the brass too big.

Next, carefully chisel out the wood within your scribed line to what looks like the right depth. Using some kind of staining material (I use soot from holding the inlay in a candle flame, some folks use expensive store-bought stuff), coat the inlay with the staining material, very carefully put it in place, and give it a sharp whack with a light hammer-like object. A wooden or rawhide mallet is great. Remove the inlay. It will have left a stain where more wood needs to be removed. scrape away only the stained wood, and repeat. Do this until the inlay fits perfectly. You can also use this technique (called contact-transfer staining) to mark the location in the first place, but I've found it easier to have at least part of the inlay already inlet before I start using the soot.

How are you going to attach the inlay? For a brass inlay, little brass nails are great. I often use 3/8" brass escutcheon pins. These come with a domed head, but I convert them to countersunk heads with a die. Get your nail (or headed rod), drill a hole the size of the nail shaft in a piece of steel, and countersink one side. No need to harden, mild steel is good enough. Slip a nail in the hole, and give it a good whack with a flat hammer face. A 16 to 24 ounce ball pein works great.

Now, put your inlay in its inlet. Drill a hole the size of nail in the inlay, and countersink it. Drive your countersunk nail into place, making sure to check the length beforehand. It's embarrassing to drive one out the other side, or to hit the tang!

It helps to put a tiny dab of epoxy or even cyanoacrylate (crazy glue) in the inlet before setting the inlay, but be careful not to put too much or it'll spurt out and ruin your wood. After the nails are in and the epoxy is set, file the nailheads down even with the top of the inlay, and at the same time use the file to blend the inlay edges to the surface of the wood. Use a light touch and a fine file, or you'll dig out the wood deeper than the inlay. Take a look, and the nails have disappeared! Expect an email with some pictures of how this has worked for me.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/18/03 12:37:17 EST

Vision and Color: John, Working where there is bright daylight through doors and windows does reduce your ability to see in lesser light including judging heat colors.

Big odd Anvil: Banjo, there is a type of anvil known as a "bridge anvil" because it is a large arched shape. The dimension you give fit one of thees. These were common in the oil fields and are found in the western oil states such as Oklahoma, Texas and California.

emin muil: Your question and comment indicate that you just need to spend time working at the anvil to answer your own questions.

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/18/03 13:01:04 EST

Thank you much Alan
   dragon-boy - Tuesday, 11/18/03 13:11:17 EST

Can anyone tell me a good steel to use for andirons or a fire grate. Would A36 work ok without warping?
   smitty7 - Tuesday, 11/18/03 14:34:51 EST


A-36 will work just fine as long as the stock is sized to the job. You want to use pretty heavy stock for the grate irons, as they support the weight of the logs and may be heated a good bit from falling coals after an extended fire. I suppose I would use 1" section, at least for the vertical dimension, which takes the load. You could use 1/2" thick, as long as the vertical is 1". For load bearing, the web height is much more critical than the width. I believe that the rule of thumb is that the strength increases as the square of the width and the cube of height. Big difference! I would use 1" square, myself.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/18/03 14:43:29 EST

How big a fire grate? How big a fireplace? What kind of service?

I have seen large grates made of heavy RR-rail that sagged under load at a red heat. Logs that required two men to handle were being thrown on to a bed of red hot coals that had softened the rail. . . This is common in large hotel lobbies and resturants that have oversized public fireplaces.

The depth of the grate is the critical factor as stress and deflection go up with the cube of the increase in length.

The best deflection resistant grates OR andirons have a middle leg to prevent deflection at a red heat.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/18/03 15:04:00 EST

Andiron steel:

I made a set three years ago out of 1" square A-36, and they are holding up just fine. The front legs are of 1/2" x 3", with the back legs, log rest portion, and front deocrative element (suspiciously bovine-looking dragons) forged from one piece of 1" square. Three winters' worth of fires have produced no warping whatsoever.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/18/03 15:05:03 EST


hand-forging 1" square will give you a real appreciation for power hammers.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/18/03 15:12:13 EST

DB: You're welcome. I take it you got the pictures?
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/18/03 15:14:00 EST

those are out standing examples thank you so much. They look great!
   dragon-boy - Tuesday, 11/18/03 16:20:40 EST

Thank You!

And the andirons I made are for use in a small residential fireplace. The depth of the horizontals is only about 14 inches. I would have used a center leg if the length had approached 18 inches.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/18/03 17:24:49 EST

Is there a simple way to fuse 2 pieces of rebar together (like welding) by just heating up in a coal fire and banging together with a hammer. Similar to what a blacksmith would do? What temperature do you have to reach?
   Steve - Tuesday, 11/18/03 19:43:02 EST

Could you find a blacksmith in my area(around sturbridge massachusetts, specificly-brimfield) please and do you think the blacksmith at old sturbridge villige could help with my project?
Thankyou for your help.
   - John D - Tuesday, 11/18/03 20:39:41 EST

Anvil repair what kind of welding rod pre/heat anvil what would a average temp. Want to repair worn edges, crack from hardy hole to edge of anvil???? thanks tjw
   tom w - Tuesday, 11/18/03 21:09:40 EST

Anvil repair what kind of welding rod pre/heat anvil what would a average temp. Want to repair worn edges, crack from hardy hole to edge of anvil???? thanks tjw
   tom w - Tuesday, 11/18/03 21:10:48 EST

MLT & 3 dogs - last US manufacturer of wrought was AM Byers in Pittsburgh. I believe they continued production until early in the 1950's. But as time went on their product was replaced more and more by Bessemer and Open Hearth steels.
   - GavainH - Tuesday, 11/18/03 21:36:33 EST

Steve, Yes, it's called forge welding. It would be simple for an experienced blacksmith. I would not be so simple for a beginner. The temperature would probably be between 2200ºF and 2400ºF.

John D., What's the project? I believe one of my "grad students" is at Sturbridge Village, Tim Dauphinais. He is pretty knowledgable.

When A.M. Byers buttoned up their business, they were making lots of underground pipe. I suspect that tile pipes, concrete pipes, and plastics helped plow them under.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/18/03 22:51:02 EST

i am a bit mixed up on the whole tempering business. when you put an edge on a blade, do you: 1)finish the edge 2)stick it in the fire and let it slowly cool 3) temper it by sticking it in the fire again and then cooling it quickly. is that the order? if it is completely wrong (which i have a feeling that it is) could you please tell me how to put an edge on a blade the proper way? im also unsure if you anneal it and temper it or just anneal it or just temper it.
   colin - Tuesday, 11/18/03 23:12:03 EST

I am going to be out of town for a few days. So I hope y'all behave while I am not here....(grin)
Going down to San Diego to watch my youngest graduate into being a full fledged man and productive member of our nations fighting forces. Yup on Friday Nathan is going officially become a United States Marine Corps man.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/19/03 03:47:55 EST

Good Guru:
I was just looking over the IForge demo on fly presses, wishing I had one and the room to put it...and I got to wondering...
There's an old 30 ton punchpress in the yard...could the punch press be converted to manual power to do a fly press's work?
The crank and flywheel could be locked together somehow and a handle clamped to the flywheel. There's plenty of mass in the flywheel and the mechanism is still pretty tight. The amount of friction shouldn't be a lot greater and the throw seems comparable. The frame on this one is more than equal to the job and it's set up to take tooling already.
Where's the canker in this plan? There are a lot of these old machines hanging out all rusty and unloved.
   Pete F - Wednesday, 11/19/03 04:16:29 EST

Guru - re the big anvil. I guess things some things do get bigger the older the story. but heard it from the horses mouth today. Definately 4 foot long by 10 inches wide, not sure on exact height but approx standing on 1 foot base (stump) would be the same height as your average ironing board (so how many of you out there do your ironing)It doesn't have any type of marking that is visible on it. The thing i find most fascinating is that this anvil is way outback NSW australia in a complete blacksmiths shop no railroad tracks out there - imagine carting that all the way out there!!!!!!
cheers from a very hot Aussie day
   banjo - Wednesday, 11/19/03 06:33:23 EST

Colin, We live in the temperate zone. It is neither too hot nor too cold. When you temper a blade or tool, it is neither too hard (brittle) nor too soft (annealed). It is just right, in between the two extremes. It's like Goldilocks looking for the right bed to sleep in. When you make a blade, first you forge or grind or machine it to shape, leaving the cutting edge a little bit thick. Then you anneal by slow cooling it from a cherry red or brighter depending on the steel. In my shop, I use wood ashes or lime as a slow cooling insulator. This refines the grain structure, helping to make a stronger tool. It also softens the steel at room temperature, so you can drill or file, if so desired.
Most blades are hardened in oil from a cherry red heat or brighter, depending on the steel used. At this point, the blade will be brittle, "glass hard".
Then you temper to remove the brittleness and impart toughness. The tempering temperature is always lower than the hardening temperature.
The sharpening is done after tempering. There is no reason to sharpen a blade before hardening , because at the bright heat, you would only scale away the edge...AND the sharp edge may cause warpage when you quench.
Check out the anvilfire FAQ section on heat treatment.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/19/03 08:07:23 EST

Ralph, While you are in San Diego, you might like to stop in the antique gas and steam engine museum in Vista. It is in Northern S.D. county and you will be less than an hour from it. Lots to see. This Sat, there isn't a blacksmithing group there but the shop is open to look as well as the rest of the museum.

A big congrats to your son. That is a big step in ones life. You must be VERY proud! as well you should be!
   Wayne P - Wednesday, 11/19/03 08:44:54 EST

what color should the steel be to forge weld I have just finnished some tests on an old file and a piece of truck spring both pieces ground clean which were heated till non magnetic and cooled in the forge (just turned it off and left the pieces of steel till next day this was done twice) I tried forging from cherry red to bright cherry to almost white with borax flux without flux first striking soft medium and hard and there was no way it was going to stick I am just about ready to spit the dummy and take up knitting my forge is a small ex propane tank lined with a ceramic wool coated with ITC 100 and the burner is home made similar to the t-rex found on ron reil's web page
what am I doing wrong or does on have to have two burners I suspect that its heating to slow and scale is forming before I can flux is this a possibility...?
   - Derek - Wednesday, 11/19/03 11:06:04 EST

Derek, Welding temperature is in the yellow and high yellow range. When fluxed you should be able to test the surface with a piece of iron wire (welding rod, coat hanger) and have it stick to the surface when you have a welding heat.

Gas forges work great for forge welding when things are right. If the forge runs to lean and oxidizing you cannot get there. If it doesn't have enough BTU you cannot get there.

Wayne Goddard has a video and DVD on making cable Damascus that is very good and has some excellent tips on welding. They are available from Krause Publications, 700 East State Street, Iola, WI. 715-445-2214. We have a review in the works.

Krause has a site at krause.com but it is off-line today and they promise it will be back ASAP.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/19/03 11:41:20 EST

Punch Press to Fly Press Pete, There are a lot of problems with this plan. Mainly you have a flywheel turning at a 1:1 lever speed with no mechanical advantage. Then you have the weight of the ram coupled with the inertia of the flywheel to return manualy with no mechanical advantage other than the length of the lever/handle you attach. . .

Punch presses have a relatively small compact flywheel designed for high speed operation and flypresses have a large diameter low speed flywheel (or long weight arm).

The flypress mechanism was applied to punch press type machinery in Europe. To do so they had very long weight arms. My daugther took a picture of one in the Netherlands but the photo is hard to make out details. This type configuration is always a two or three man operation too.

Note that the large H frame flypresses are also designed to be operated by two or more people.

Punch presses can be used for hot forging as long as they are way over rated. The problem being that they always MUST travel full stroke. If the job stalls the press then almost infinite force is created and something breaks. . .

Note that mechanical clutch punch presses are available in the US for scrap price or LESS due to the fact that they are impossible to upgrade to OSHA regulations. I saw a huge 200 ton press the other day that a fellow paid $50 for. . .

You can use an arbor press for some flypress jobs but not those requiring high force. Unlike the punch press the arbor press DOES have some mechanical advantage (just no inertia).
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/19/03 12:08:54 EST

Guru, I need help identifying a set of tools (or possibly they are gauges). There is a "set" of four of them and they could possibly be homemade, but are more likely commercial. They are disc-like in shape with an opening in one side that results in a shape like the letter "C". they are about 1 inch in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick and made from what looks like brass. There are two small screws threaded into the edge of each and a small piece of non-brass metal crimped into the the side of the c-clamp like "throat" of each. (This could be a blade or spring / keeper device). The only difference between the four items is the radius of the throat ID which appear to be in some "standard" size progression from about 1/8 inch, to 1/4 inch radius for the largest. I have photos that I can email if you send an address. Thanks for helping me solve this puzzle. Rich Colberg
   Rich Colberg - Wednesday, 11/19/03 12:09:00 EST

Rich, They do sound like some sort of gauge or adjustment device but not a standard tool. Special gauges have been made for all kinds of machinery for setting gaps, clearances, operating distances or for holding parts in alignment while others are worked on or assembled.

Standard fixed gauges are called go-nogo gauges and have two gaps. One gap is too small and the other just right the difference being only a very small amount. These come in a variety of styles including a C shape.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/19/03 12:20:23 EST

BIG Anvil in NSW: Banjo, It sounds more and more like a bridge anvil or "rail road anvil". These things are huge some weighing well over a thousand pounds (+ 450 Kg). They are rather odd shaped things and not very good for forging. In fact I am not sure WHAT they were used for. I think they were used for for straightening rail, mining and oil well equipment. Some had horns but many did not. The "body" of most was much wider than thick and had long legs forming an arch. Sometimes they had an integral flat base but a few had flanges designed to be bolted to the floor.

Some were cast steel and some were cast iron. They often had several large holes for "dogs" or hold fasts and could be used in place of a weld platten. This falls into my thinking that they were made mostly for bending and straightening. Where they are most often found indicates they are a tool for heavy use in the field but much lighter than a weld platten which start at a ton and up.

I suspect that most places that had these also had a regular forging anvil but it is hard to tell. Again, being a "field" tool they could be used for a small amount of forging even if they were not the best tool for the purpose.

It will take a drawing, photos or better discription to tell.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/19/03 12:48:26 EST

i also have not been able to forge weld with my gas forge. even a simple fold over ("faggot weld?) would not take. the steel was scale free, fluxed, and heated to what i thought was hot enough. this forge will heat the steel to the point of "sparks", although slowly, so i dont think it is a temp problem. i do think that it is a problem with oxidation. these burners do not have a mech to regulate the air; no "choke" mech. learning to make a good scarf also is teaching me how to upset..practice...yes, i know that forge welding is commonly done with gas; need to have the right flame and conditions...
   rugg - Wednesday, 11/19/03 13:27:53 EST

do i need a copyright for a metal insect that i am creating?
   paul - Wednesday, 11/19/03 14:00:14 EST

My project is for historyu day and I am doing it on how the blacksmith helped colonial America.
Thank you
   - John D - Wednesday, 11/19/03 15:13:30 EST

Thanks everyone for the help, I was thinking of 1" x 1 1/2" for the frame and some 1/2" u shape for the middle for stability.
   smitty7 - Wednesday, 11/19/03 15:21:11 EST

Copyright: Paul, You MAY copyright any sculpture it is not required. To do so you must put your name AND the year on the work as well as the word copyright or the symbol. At one time sculpture only required the artists name but I do not know if that is true today.

According to the 1984 Copyright act copyright exists from the moment of creation. Placing notice on the work is not necessarily required. However, placing a faulty notice is worse than none.

You do not need to register your copyright HOWEVER if you do then an infringer is lible for any legal costs associated with a copyright action.

The question IS, Is the work worth a copyright notice? If the work is for sale are all rights to be transfered? Is the work designed to be be duplicated? If the work is designed to be duplicated by molds then the registration covers all copies HOWEVER if it is a ONE-OFF or reproduced by hand then you would need to register every copy.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/19/03 17:06:47 EST

welding in a gasser: It pays to rig up a choke plate. Ron Reil's page has some schemes for adding a choke to a venturi burner. Also, gassers suffer from mixing problems. An easy fix is to put chunks of broken firebrick on the floor of the forge. Often this produces a sgnificant increase in operating temp and a reduction in scale.

Make sure the whole weld area is wet with flux. The hot molten flux washes the scale off the surface of the steel and protects it from further oxidation. It's a soup of flux and scale that makes the weld possible.

I have had good luck getting gasser welds to stick with "Brazo" a brazing flux that is sold in welding stores. I think it has some sal ammoniac in it. I've also had good luck brazing with 20 mule team borax :)

A thin pointy rod, like Guru suggests, is VERY useful for judging welding temp. Once the rod sticks, I usually let it soak a minute or two longer before welding.
   adam - Wednesday, 11/19/03 17:38:33 EST

John D.

Starting out in smithing is difficult at your age without a lot of support from your parents. The first thing you need to do is contact the local blacksmiths associations, find out when their meetings are an GO TO THEM. This will require a bit of travel and THAT is one place you will need help from your parents or guardians.

New England Blacksmiths often meets at Mystic Seaport, CT as well as places in New Hampshire such as Brentwood, NH.

Northeast Blacksmiths Association meets at Ashokan Field Campus, 447 Beaverkill Rd., Olivebridge, N.Y

New York State Designer Blacksmiths meet in numerous places such as Buffalo, Rochester and Painted Post.

New Jersey Blacksmiths also meet in various places.

If you think this is a lot of travel, it is. But many smiths travel farther just to spend time with another. Often monthly meets are just as educational as annual conferences but it depends on the group. In recent years I have traveled by car as far as 500 miles and spent several nights in a motel to go to conferences such as BGop's Spring Fling, the AFC conference and the Southeast Conference. Our local group has most of its meetings about 100 miles from here. The upcoming Christmas party and meet is 125 miles.

To find local blacksmiths look in the yellow pages. Try "Ironworks" as a category, or "Railings". Ask about blacksmiths at welding shops. Most of these folks are busy business people and time is money. Don't expect them to drop everything to help you. A few MIGHT but most have to make a living.

Look up the park phone number at Sturbridge Village and call them. Tell them you would like to speak to the Blacksmith. He MAY be able to put you contact with other local smiths.

Note that it is not a good time to talk to most smiths when doing public demonstrations at public places. They must pay attention to the public AND the iron in the fire. Many get asked a dozen times a day about lessons by people that have no real interest whatsoever.

You will need a place to work and tools. Makeshift coal forges work well for small items. At a minimum you will need an anvil, forging hammer, tongs or channel locks, hacksaw, cold chisel and a vise. It also helps to have a few files, a center punch, drills. Although the anvil is king when forging the vise is its queen. More work is done in the shop in the vise than anywhere else.

You will also need a supply of metal. Many scraps can be used but new is much easier to deal with. Having the right SIZE is more important than anything. Sources of scrap metal can include MANY things. Axels out out a plastic toy or cart, bar from old store display racks, old lug wrenches. . . Keep your eyes open. But remember when you bring home a piece of junk that you will need to dispose of most of it. Hauling all this means transportation again.

Often a place to work is the most difficult thing to find. A spot in your back yard or garage is good. But you have to consider hauling tools in and out as well as where smoke from the forge goes. Some places are secure enough to leave tools out but most are not. Coal forges rust rapidly if left out in the weather. So this means quiting in time for it to cool off before bringing it in IF it is not in a protected place.

IF you STUDY the craft, do your reasearch finding resources and show your parents you are truely and seriously interested in blacksmithing then I suspect they will be glad to help you.

We have had several very young smiths here. One had a business as a Boy Scout making and selling flint and steel kits, another started smithing at home when he was 6 and by the time he was 8 had earned enough from small items to buy his own anvil. It takes determination and hard work on your part as well as support from others.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/19/03 18:15:53 EST

hey im doing a class project and i decided to do it on blacksmithing but im having problems finding a good site and we need to make a poster with steps on making a object/finished project and then we need to bring one in or a tool well thanks bye
   Kayla - Wednesday, 11/19/03 19:01:04 EST

Please refresh my memory ,the higher the carbon content in straight steel ,the higher the forging temp? Also if I have a piece of steel marked W2 it could have a wide range of carbon content.
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 11/19/03 20:32:27 EST

Jim Hirsoulas, says that 10XX series steels resist overheating pretty well, (So yes you can work hotter with the higher stuff, but that is just because it is easier to move the steel cause it is tougher than 1018... You might run into problems with grain growth so you should thermocycle three times before you anneal for grinding to refine the grain structure) but I still think that 1095 is hotshort, I am sure that I have turned it into the metalic version of cottage cheese before:-) But I may have a gift for burning steel while I am talking...

   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 11/19/03 21:37:14 EST

Hi there, I live in the San francisco Bay area and I have bought an old Champion Forge in good condition and I would like to use it but it needs a helix spur gear that drives the fan. Do you know of a source for used or remanufactued parts. I am very new to this but very interested in learning all I can. Thanks Aaron Huggins
   Aaron - Wednesday, 11/19/03 23:00:07 EST

Well you know I might be crazy, but for some reason I am unable to find a source that sells Kohlswa anvils. I am real new at this and would appreciate any help.

Jim Kimbrough
   Jim - Wednesday, 11/19/03 23:18:26 EST

Jim Kimbrough; Get on the Google.com search engine and type in "Kohlswa anvils".
   3dogs - Thursday, 11/20/03 03:12:51 EST

You are very good aren't you!!!! thanks. I am not actually sure it looks like an ironing board tho. and if its no good for forging i can put it next to my machinist vice and start a museum!!!!!!!!!!! cheers from a steamy stormy OZ
   banjo - Thursday, 11/20/03 06:55:41 EST

Kohlswa: Jim, there is a US Kohlswa site but there are no dealers that I can find. Kentucky Farrier supply used to be a dealer but they did not keep inventory. The last stocking dealer was Centaur until they had a falling out with Kohlswa.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/20/03 09:33:12 EST

Kayla, We have over 100 step by step projects on our iForge page.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/20/03 09:39:36 EST

Ebay Scams: I have been getting numerous mails with forged ebay return addresses. The newest had a virus attached. Be careful out there.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/20/03 10:04:06 EST

Forging Temperatures:

The higher the carbon the LOWER the forging temperature. The range is 2400°F to 2150°F for 0 to .9% carbon (Tempil Chart). This is a straight line and can be extended to higher carbon steels.

The annealing and normalizing temperatures follow a similar line that is slightly curved then spikes upward above .85% carbon. This makes the non-magnetic point close to the upper transformation point for .5% to .875% carbon steels. But for low and medium carbon steels the annealing and normalizing temperatures are 100 t0 300 degrees higher.

SO, the magnet test works for hardening and annealing many carbon steels and you have to adjust for others.

The resistance to overheating by 10XX steels is in comparison to alloy steels that crumble above a certain point due to seperation and liquification of the alloying metals. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/20/03 10:17:44 EST

I think smithing would be a great hobbie to take up how practical would it be to have an outdoor forge? And what would be the most economical and eficient way to make one. also I was wondering how I could get metals?
   Chris Slaughter - Thursday, 11/20/03 13:04:11 EST

Thanks Guru
I think I got it,If I'm used to forging 1095 then the forging color/temp could be lower or higher for theW2 steel that I'm trying now.Why is there such a variance in carbon content of W2 and how is one to know without chemical analysis.I started a blade yesterday and the steel seems to be a little harder to move at my usual 1095 color but it could be my imagination
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 11/20/03 13:14:53 EST

Jerry, Paw Paw, Frank, et al. Re: Drug problem - Amanda drug a timing chain into the shop and got me to help & advise her on making a damascus billet. By the time she cut it up w/ the plasma cutter,welded the pieces to a bar, heated, fluxed & power hammered it all into a solid piece, she was beginning to look like a blacksmith... I messed up last Sunday and turned a billet up edgewise into a twisted wire wheel and got a poor man's dermabrasion on my arm...
I kno better, but it made a show & tell for her on what not to do.Frank,thepiece about your fight with a wire wheel on iForge is required reading for her. She has made a lot of hooks, etc. Anyway, thanx for your interest & support. Ron C
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 11/20/03 14:04:04 EST

I am making a bass drum beater using 1/4" steel drill rod as the shaft. I want to harden the metal prior to assembly. The only heat sources I have are a MAPP gas/oxygen torch, and a scientific oven calibrated to 120*C. Will these be adequate for what I'm trying to achieve? I have nver done this process before, a couple of procedural tips would be welcome. Thanks for your assistance.--Tim
   Tim - Thursday, 11/20/03 14:06:41 EST

Chris, My old Bethlehem Tool & Die Steel Manual says the the lower carbon tool steels are used for battering and shock absorbancy. 90 points to 1% for cold heading dies. 1% to 1.10%, used for general purpose tooling, wear resistance. There is a tool steel selector guide that says to make draw knives and wood chisels from 1% to 1.10% carbon content. Buy new steel if you want to know the carbon content.

For W2 of 1% to 1.10%, here's what they recommend:
Forge 1825-1850ºF
Anneal 1375-1425ºF
Harden 1400-1450ºF
Temper 300-600ºF

Ron Childers, I don't remember confessing about a wire wheel accident. However, one time a small wire cup on a 4½" tool jumped away from the vise-held work and took a good bit of skin from my knuckles. It actually flew through the air. It was fortunate, in that I never lock the triggers of high RPM tools.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/20/03 14:32:39 EST

Thanks Frank
p.s. that hammer is great
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 11/20/03 14:47:20 EST

Chris Makin:

Of all the tool steels, it's funny that W-1 and W-2 need to have the carbon specified. I Guess they did that because there are so many possible carbon contents for a straight carbon steel. You need to find out the carbon content from the supplier. On the other hand, I've never had any W-1 that wasn't 1 - 1.10% carbon.
   - grant - Thursday, 11/20/03 15:17:03 EST

Any guesses as to the composition of grader blade steel?
   adam - Thursday, 11/20/03 15:20:45 EST

I would like to make a tapered tube out of 16 ga. sheet metal
6in dia at the bottom 49in long and 2.5in dia at the top.
can you find a formula i can use to lay that out?
   phil - Thursday, 11/20/03 15:41:27 EST

phil- cut plywood discs 2.5 and 6in diameter. cut a stick that fits between them, so outside measures 49 inches, screw together. carefully roll this gizmo on the sheet metal, tracing the disc path with a silver pencil. go exactly one revolution, add what you want for rivet overlap, should work.
   mike-hr - Thursday, 11/20/03 15:58:47 EST

Cones: Phil, see our 21st Century page under MATH, Cones OR click on the Mass3j calculator link on the pull down menu. We have layouts and formulae for cones.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/20/03 17:54:09 EST

Hello. I have been in the metal trades for about 25 years. Most of my work has been in textile machine shop environment. Recently my boss decided that we were going to make these small spindle brake springs. They are made of .032" 3/4 wide steel with a small pad mounted on the end of the steel. Without access to any heat treating equipment I attempted to try to bend some already tempered stock. What seem to work the best was to heat the area that needed bending then pull off the torch and make the bend, letting it cool in air. They seemed to work o.k. but appear to break from fatigue. Now he has bought 100' feet of the stock and expects to keep on making these darn things. Which I protested about from the beginning for the above reasons.I feel that the originals were probably made from an annealed stock and then heat treated and then had the brake pad mounted on them. Do you see any practical manner of making something such as this without using annealed stock then heat treating?? Is there a way to successfully bend tempered stock to near 90 degree bends and have it stand up for a reasonable amount of time? Thanx in advance for your anticipated reply.
   Guy Heath - Thursday, 11/20/03 20:38:23 EST

Guy Heath:

The heat treated stock should be fabricated cold. You shouldn't have any trouble getting a 90 degree bend probably around a 1/4 or 3/8inch pin. A little Harbor Freight bender should work great for this.

OBTW: the angle of the bend is far less important than the radius of the bend.
   - grant - Friday, 11/21/03 02:58:13 EST

Frank Turley; I, being of the left handed persuasion, have found myself locking the trigger on power tools by accident. Try it, and you will find that the 3rd bone from the tip of the finger will rest on the lock button. As a result, as a matter of policy, I take the trigger housing apart and remove the offending button. No more surprises. Best regards to Dinetah from Ojibweh country.
   3dogs - Friday, 11/21/03 04:05:47 EST

BIG ANVIL, i searched on this site for a picture of a bridge anvil and sent it to home, apparently our big anvil looks like a very normal anvil not like a bridge one its all solid!!!!!!!!!! I know I know I need to post a picture am working on it. Thanks for your help GURU

   Banjo - Friday, 11/21/03 05:50:56 EST

Spring Steel Guy,

You may be right. But Grant suggested the same that I would. Most blue tempered spring steel stock can be bent if the radius is not too tight. The trick to making jigs to do it is trial and error the amount of spring-back. Many springs are made from pre heattreated material. It takes more force and compensation for the spring-back.

Heating this thin stock to a red heat will let it to cool fast enough to air quench and be full hard. The heated zone will be VERY brittle and must be tempered by reheating to a temperature somewhere below the hardening point. For spring steel this is often to where the steel turns dark blue or about 570°F to 580°F (299°C to 304°C). This depends on the type of steel.

The problem with heating a zone with a torch is that the the areas next to the red heated zone will be tempered softer than the rest of the spring. The result is spring hard, soft, brittle hard, soft, spring hard. . . A real metallurgical mess. To repair this mess the spring would need to be annealed and re heattreated. The result of that would be a heat scaled part that would have to undergo some kind of mechanical cleaning. This is why many springs are made of pre heattreated steel. It is usualy strip processed and has a clean uniform finish and temper.

Steel of this hardness can usualy be sheared, sawed and punched as well as bent. It can be drilled but at slow speed with lots of pressure and coolant. I would recommend punching rather than drilling. Use tools designed for stainless for best life.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 09:18:29 EST

3Dogs and Readers, The Left Handed Thing. It might be interesting to post some prejudicial lefty tools, etc. that we find in the shop. I know that tongs sometimes feel odd to a left hander when the botton rein falls open. Of course, this can be overcome by cranking the reins near the pivot area, so that they are parallel and in line (like hoof nippers). Using the vise? Drill press? Hand cranked blower? P.S. They DO make left handed hoof knives.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/21/03 09:30:51 EST

Huge Anvil: Banjo, first thing to do if it is really that big is to test the rebound. There are a few huge cast iron anvils out there :(. On the other hand, there HAVE been some really huge solid steel anvils made. They are VERY rare and were usualy made to special order.

See NEWS VOl.26 Page 10 for a couple giant custom made anvils.

On NEWS VOl.31 Page 7 there is a bridge anvil. However, this is not a typical example as most did not have as distinct a horn or steps. This was a one off fabricated or very low production bridge anvil.

Hay-Budden's have been found that were as heavy as 800 pounds in Rail Road shops. These are very rare and were custom ordered by the Rail Roads.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 09:45:03 EST

Left Handedness:

Did you know that recent research has found that right handed people are definitely right handed but that left handed people could go either way? However, once learned or decided it is very hard to change. Ambidextrous people are lefties that didn't go either way. AND some right handed folks were potential lefties that picked or learned right handedness. SO, All lefties are capable of being ambidextrous at birth, most righties were born right handed but a few are possibly ambidextrous.

For years I told my wife that our children were both left handed because we sat in front of them across the table and showed them how to do things. They were our mirror image. Turns out I was right since they could have gone either way. . . Perhaps if we had shown them how to use utensils or to draw while they sat in our lap it would have been different. It could be the fact that they were twins and it was difficult to give these parenting lessons one on one at the same time that things turned out the way they did. Interestingly, our son Patrick does almost everything left handed EXCEPT use a hammer.

Craftspeople of all types must be ambidextrous in some part. Consider using a hammer and chisel. A right handed person guides the chisel with their left hand and strikes it with the right. The right hand appears to be doing the gross heavy work. But it is actually doing the more important job. It is not striking the opposite hand! Direction of and strength of blow are also more critical so the right is doing more tasks than the left, but the left is still doing important skilled work. It takes practice to use tools right or left handed.

There are all kinds of two handed jobs. Using saws, wood planes, jobs or machinery where you hold the work in one hand while operating the tool or machine with the other. TYPING. Spinning, weaving and sewing is done two handed as is throwing pots. Being right or left handed is a combination of state of mind and learned practice. Many of these jobs are ambidextrous IF we take time to learn them well.

Tongs and pliers CAN be made left handed and ocassionaly are by folks that don't know the difference. At least as blacksmiths lefties have a choice of making their own left handed tools. It is an option that few craftspeople have.

When it comes to using obviously right handed power tools and machinery it is safest if lefties learn to use those tools right handed. Using them left handed is not only clumsy it buts your body out of position which can be dangerous as well as stressful.

Locks on power tools should be abolished PERIOD. Even though I am right handed I ocassionaly grip a power tool with my left hand OR both hands and accidently lock the stupid things. They are very dangerous.

Anvils with Horns can be used left or right handed, right or wrong. Experianced smiths will tell you that they work off every axis of the anvil and you SHOULD learn to take advantage of every working position (as well as surface). However, in general use we turn our anvil one way and work from one side 90% of the time. Which is the right way?

For the right handed smith this is with the horn to the left. Why? Because when you form a shoe, scroll or hook over the horn your body position is correct for holding the work left handed AND when you pull the hot work off the horn you do it AWAY from your body rather than into it. So there is a body position and safety consideration.

Now. . *I* learned to use an anvil left handed even though I am right handed. Why? Because the side away from the smith normally gets the most use and abuse and corners get chipped. The side toward the smith often survives undamaged. SO, many of us that have started out with anvils with terribly chipped edges have learned to use them backwards. It was not until I got an anvil with good corners and tried it the other way that I realized how strained my working position had been.

Correct body position and posture can make a big difference in how well a job goes and how you feel at the end of the day. THINK about it, practice moves, find what feels right.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 11:07:06 EST

Frank; sorry, I remembered the incident wrong: It was PPW on iForge # 66.A case of mistaken identity- (I first thought the old blacksmith in the picture on iForge was Paw Paw Wilson). # 66 Should be required reading for all aspiring blacksmiths. I syre don't want yhat pretty little girl injured like that.. Ron C
   Ron Childers - Friday, 11/21/03 11:31:18 EST

> I first thought the old blacksmith in the picture on iForge was Paw Paw Wilson.

Oh really????
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/21/03 11:51:19 EST

Anvil Direction, Max Siegel and Joe Volz (spelling?) came to the early ABANA and regional conferences, and shared their knowledge with us "youngsters". Max said that he always put the horn to his right as a right hander, because he could leave the hardie in its hole without worrying about cutting his fingers on it. Whether you agree or not, that's what he said.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/21/03 11:54:20 EST

Banjo: Sounds like the anvil is for real and that you have a real treasure! Congrats :)
   adam - Friday, 11/21/03 12:06:37 EST

Tongs: I see that Striker is selling tongs made from 4140.
and at a very reasonable price.

4140 would allow for a lighter springier tong but will it stand up to repeated heating and quenching?

Grader blade: Where can I find out the likely composition of grader blade?

Left Handed: Interesting, post Guru. Confirms my suspiscion that lefties choose to be that way just to annoy. :) Actually my wife is ambidextrous in that she does some tasks left haanded and some right handed. I have a son who is a pure lefty - it was obvious from a very early age - he would always reach with his left hand. I read, a while back that archeological evidence shows that at one time the population was predominatly leftys. One doesnt notice how many things are right handed, scissors, can openers, torch strikers (left handed for holding the torch in the right) and so on...

Personally, I'd give my right hand to be ambidextrous!
   adam - Friday, 11/21/03 12:18:51 EST

hi guru thanks to you and all others who volanteer'd info and for the help previously received I have now managed two successful forge welds and now understand the parameters for a successful are much narrower than I previously thought and I now feel confident enough to tackle my first knife (this really is a satisfying hobby when one gets it right)
best rgds Derek
   - Derek - Friday, 11/21/03 12:31:06 EST

Left Handedness,
A couple years ago I was at a buffet supper of some sort, and was having trouble dishing up something with the tongs. A freind was right behind me and he started to tease me about a blacksmith that can't use tongs, the light went on I switched the tongs to my left hand and had no more problems
   JimG - Friday, 11/21/03 13:01:27 EST

I am, for the most part, ambidextrous. I assume, due to a genetic predisposition, I am primarily left handed as are a MESS of my kinfolk. I always just figgered that us lefties got ambidextrous because we were forced to adapt to this mostly right handed world. OR mebbe it was 'cause Grandpa wuz Grandma's 2nd cousin. I should also mention that we are not to be messed with, (Judges 20:16) (HEH,HEH,HEH.) ADAM; If you did that, you wouldn't be !! I am also in the terribly awkward position of being politically conservative.
   3dogs - Friday, 11/21/03 13:12:02 EST

(I'll jes' stand by here while everybody goes an' gits they Good Books.)(ye grynne)
   3dogs - Friday, 11/21/03 13:16:53 EST

Hardie in Place While Working: Frank, I used to wonder what all the fuss was about leaving the hardie in place. . . until I turned my anvil around. For a task like nail making a right hander turning the anvil with the horn to the right would be more efficient. Besides making the hardie safe to leave in it also places most pritchel holes toward the smith so that the nail could be knocked out of the header. To do this a lefty needs a farrier's anvil with two pritchell holes.

For every rule there is an exception. . .

However, hundreds (thousands) of old anvils with one edge beat up more than the other tell the story of how the majority of smiths worked.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 13:18:05 EST

Being in one's right mind (left handed):

First time I made tongs (twist method), I twisted the "wrong" way and wound up with the reins different than the ones I'd picked up at auctions and flea markets. They felt great. So I've been making them that way ever since.

I usually put the horn on my left. I find it's easier to work stuff on the horn there. On London-pattern anvils, horn to the left also keeps the hardie I forgot to take out of the hole out from under my hammer hand. (That reason doesn't apply to the double-horn pattern that I actually prefer...) As I've done more forging I find myself working from all sides of the anvil, so maybe where the horn is isn't such a big deal.

I thought I was ambidextrous in so many things just because I had to learn to do everything with right-handed tools. When I was into competitive shooting I was told that it wasn't so much being right or left handed as right or left eyed. Later I read from research in other sports and martial arts that seemed to indicate eye dominance was the big factor. I know that when I'm shooting, I can do it with either hand controlling the trigger - but I'll unconsciously go to contortions to get my left eye lined up with the sights.

I think the one task that I do exclusively right handed is batting a baseball - Dad managed to turn himself around and teach me to throw and catch leftie, but I remember when it came to batting he just stood there with the bat a while, holding it leftie, and finally said, try it from this side of the plate, son. I throw things almost exclusively left handed. Anyway, I'm rambling. I'll stop.


   Steve A - Friday, 11/21/03 13:19:30 EST

Derek, forge welding parameters much narrower than you thought... it's interesting, I've been learning - practicing - forge welding, too, but my thought as I've gone along has been that this is not nearly as critical as I'd come to think. I've done about thirty or so now, have had to do some problem solving along the way (too cold, oxidizing fire, uneven heating, hitting too hard), but they've all stuck. All the guys I'd watched gave me the idea that the process started with muttering about how it would probably never work in this fire, with this coal, with this flux... ;)

Having said that, I may not get another weld to stick for months... ;)

   Steve A - Friday, 11/21/03 13:26:30 EST

Steve; When I took my basic training at Ft. Knox in 1960, they were still using the M1 Garand. The range instructor told all us lefties to form up away from the rest. He came over to me and told me to put the rifle up to my shoulder. I put it up to my right shoulder, right hand on the trigger. "I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU WERE LEFT HANDED, PRIVATE !" "I am, Sergeant. The left eye doesn't work." "GET YOUR @$$ BACK OVER THERE WITH THE OTHERS!" There just ain't any pleasing some folks.
   3dogs - Friday, 11/21/03 13:37:22 EST

I shoot from the right shoulder too, even though I'm left handed. I suspect is is a dominant eye thing, like Steve said. I golf right handed because I couldn't find any lefty clubs when I started, but I've found I'm just as good/bad from the left handed position. However, my anvil horn is always to the right, and when slinging stones, the left arm rules! ;-)

At least Ron just said "old" and not "scary-looking" too!(VBG)

   eander4 - Friday, 11/21/03 14:01:57 EST

Alloy steel tongs: I think that concerns about repeated quenching of alloy steel tongs are misplaced. The steel will not harden unless you get it fully austenitic, ie, red bloody hot. Repeated quenching from a few hundred degrees should not hurt the steel (although long-term thermal cycling might)...and if you repeatedly get your tongs red hot, maybe you need to re-learn some better techniques.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 11/21/03 14:12:23 EST

Well, heck, With a name like Paw Paw, how was I to know you were just a you were just a youngster? Sounds like you have about 100 years of experience....My grandchildren still call me Paw Paw even though they are all grown. Now, are your feathers unruffled?
Forge welding: in the 40's & 50's we didn't realise it was supposed to be so hard to do..we just did it - didn't get a gas rig 'til 1954...Ron C
   Ron Childers - Friday, 11/21/03 14:35:01 EST


It was just that my beard isn't that long. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/21/03 15:03:39 EST

Paw paw is younger than I am, but he appears older because he wants to be like, y'know, venerable.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/21/03 15:30:14 EST


Really? I thought we were close to the same age.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/21/03 15:40:11 EST

Yes, Guru, I have found some hard steel drill bits in an MSC catalog which drill the mounting holes quite well. And I did fashion a jig after a considerable amount of time, to do the bending on.... So your saying to bend these things cold for the best results? If I kept the heat way down to say 2-300 degrees would that be acceptable? I'm just afraid that the steel will crack without some heating of the bending radius. I looked it up in the book where he bought the spring steel today and it said it was a 48 to 51 Rockwell "C". These springs are about 4" long prior to making the bends which end up looking like a "[" shape when done only with longer ears. I tried to find a 4140 H.T. steel of the same type to buy so I could try to make some out of that but I couldn't find any. I've had real good luck with this particular steel where a hardened area is needed and for the toughness. It comes as about 30 Rockwell and can be brought up to a 50 Rockwell by flame heat treating, and it is just about foolproof. Perfect for me.LOL.
   toni1595 - Friday, 11/21/03 15:57:23 EST

ANVIL HORN RIGHT OR LEFT? I have been trying to come up with a simple design of some kind of turntable that the anvil could sit on that would let me reverse it for certain tasks. The problems I see are "bounce" in the turntable and some way to lock it so that it doesn't rotate in use. This last seems to be easier to solve, but I have not thought yet of a simple mechanism that is rigid.

I have to laugh at left-handed tools. When my Mother-in-law died we inherited her left handed scissors. If I weren't so darn cheap I would throw them into the trash because every time I pick them up to use I discover new cuss words. This is a peculiar situation because my left-handed toothbrush work just fine.

   John M. - Friday, 11/21/03 16:29:25 EST

Is there any corrosion issue using stainless screws with 6000 series untreated aluminum? This is going in a humid environment. Would there be a better choice of screw than stainless?
   AZDoug - Friday, 11/21/03 16:55:04 EST

John, how about something similar to a rotating machinist's vise's turntable? Might want to make something like a giant wood wrench to give you leverage to turn the anvil with though, as those turntables have no lubrication or bearings.

Discovered something interesting this past week. I've been clamping bits of tooling to my anvil since I haven't welded hardy shanks onto the few tools I've made yet, and found that when a tool was clamped near the hardy hole (only place I've clamped them), the ring of the Arm & Hammer wrought-body anvil I'm using drops from an ear-piercing clink to a thud. Seems like this might be more effective than a magnet, though I dunno if it would work with a clamp on the waist (out of the way).

Cloudy and cool... winter is on its way in Honolulu, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Friday, 11/21/03 17:02:42 EST

Heating and Temper: Heating the steel to anything less than the previous temper point does not reduce the yeild. Since the spring temper is around 580°F anything less has no effect. In fact the temperature between 300°F and 700°F is called the "blue brittle range" and steel is as likely to break at that temperature as in the sub-zero range. A heat over 700°F and less than 1250°F CAN make the steel softer but permanently so. You cannot control or "limit" a torch temperature to less than the flame temperature.

The key to the bend is controlling the radius. I would suspect that you can bend this steel to a 1/8" or 3/16" radius without a problem. But you are going to need to make a jig and test it. For this kind of shape I use a bar with two dowel pins, a clamp and an end stop. Bending is done with a "wrench" that slips over the extra length of the dowel pin and has a bending nose that just clears the part. Bends can be made by eye to marks on the fixture OR once a repeatable position is found stops can be made. The same bending wrench should work on both ends of the part.

   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 17:08:52 EST

Stainless and Aluminium: AZ these work better than most combinations but sometimes not. I've seen good results on boats but heard of disasters too. It helps to anodize the aluminium if possible (not too big, within budget).
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 17:43:06 EST

Rotating Anvil: Just twist the anvil and stand around. . . My light wooden stands are easy to walk with the anvil in place and rotate as needed.


Drill hole in center of stump. Cut a slot to the hole. Use a lever and rod to raise the anvil on a pivot point (might need to drill a hole in the anvil's base. Lift, spin and drop. If you need more anti rotation than friction then make a series of corner blocks to fit ONE corner. Remember that the center pin is preventing side to side motion. A heavy enough anvil setting on wood or rubber with a center pin holding it in place should be pretty stable and not need anti rotation blocks. You might want a reinforcing steel plate with a hole for the pin inlet into the stump and held in place with screws.

US Patent Applied For. . . ;) HAHAHAHAH. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 17:58:04 EST

tongs: Thanks QC. I might try making some and we'll see how they do. In Frank Turley's class he had me make a pair of scroll tongs from coil spring and they are very nice indeed.

In normal use my tongs dont get red hot but I do sometimes adjust them to fit the work - still, I could avoid quenching them at that time.

My technique could be better, no doubt about it.
   adam - Friday, 11/21/03 18:01:31 EST

I assume I post this question to the correct person...Awhile ago I asked about buying a Iforge CD...you told me it wasnt available and something was dificult about it...ok...so I tried myself...Viola'...done...now I have this cool CD with all the demos on it...I have left all the banners for anvilfire in place as well as copywrite statements...we have about 15 smiths in this area. May I distribute them to the other smiths at no cost and leaving all references to anvilfire and its copywrite intact?

   spooler - Friday, 11/21/03 18:03:00 EST

Rotating anvil - do you think you could motorize it? :)
   adam - Friday, 11/21/03 18:03:02 EST

Alloy and Hardenable Steel Tongs: Although you are not supposed to leave your tongs on work in the forge we all do it. They often get hotter than they should and I HAVE seen red hot tongs quenched.

THEN there is your style of working. If you don't reforge your tongs to fit once in a while then you are not doing much (in my opinion). You should not quench red hot tongs but I am sure it happens when folks are in a hurry. Even if they are mild steel you should not quench red hot tongs. But it DOES happen.

Today there is a tendancy among amature smiths to NEVER change or adjust their tongs even when they need it. Among these folks a stronger alloy steel tool is probably best.
Alloy steel tongs are better for heavy power hammer work as long as you know what they are. Pliers and scrolling tongs need to be tool steel.

IF high strength steels are used then the design should be such that the tool is lighter weight than a comparable "soft" steel tool and STILL be stronger. I would also like to see the tool clearly marked "alloy tool steel" as a warning to those of us used to using wrought iron and mild steel tongs (as are 99% of all tongs in existance).

If you accidently quench red hot 4140 tongs and do not take time to temper them then the next thing you will be doing is welding them back together. . . Remember that in most normal thicknesses 4140 is oil quench steel.

I suspect that the only saving grace to tongs getting overheated and quenched is that they probably get tempered the next time they are used (serendipitiously).

I had one fellow write that he had forged some tongs out of H13. . . Overkill and you NEVER want to quench them (even a little). Thomas P. has some titanium tongs that are very light weight for their strength. Great tongs but you do not want to overheat them.

Maybe I am old fashioned but . . like my forge tongs made of predictable mild or medium/low carbon steel.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 18:58:07 EST

Chuck, Mail coming your way.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/03 18:58:54 EST

Have you ever heard of a "Boss" power hammer? It has a name plate on the front which appears to say "Novelty Iron Works Dubuque,Iowa. Where can I find info about putting it in working order.
   Steve B - Friday, 11/21/03 19:50:25 EST


I been "lurking" on this one just to see what other people think, now I'll jump in with my opinion(s):

For any application there are steels that are not suitable, will work, are best, and are over-kill. Choices should be made based on strength requirements and experience.

People with heavy forging backgrounds like Clifton Ralph, Art Jones and Don Hawley favor 4140 for making tongs. This does not mean that tongs in the size most of US are dealing with should also be made from 4140. Generally speaking, most smiths like to use tong in the "as-forged" state. Large tongs forged from 4140 are incredibly strong "as-forged". Smaller tongs made from 4140 will have some areas that are too hard. In smaller cross-sections 1045 will give just about the same results as 4140 does in larger sizes. Also, most large forge shops have lots of 4140 "rems" and stock because 4140 is such a great "do anything" steel for forge tools and dies.

The general rule is that you move up the alloy ladder in hardenability as the cross-section gets larger. In small sections 4140 has almost no advantage over 1045 and some disadvantages. Oil and air hardening steels should NEVER be used in an aplication where the tool is of small cross-section or might be water quenched in use.

The tongs that I make are made from 1045 because I believe it is the best material for the purpose. Cost is not even a factor for me, I have around 30-40 cents worth of steel in my tongs and would gladly spend more if I thought it would make a better product. 4140 or even 4340 or 5160 would cost, at most 3-4 cents more.

I'll disagree with the Guru to the extent that today "mild steel" means A-36, a material that I find not to be predictable or mild.

   - grant - Friday, 11/21/03 20:18:23 EST

Hi. I happen to have a bunch of cookout utensils of a stainless steel which is magnetic, VERY soft, and makes no sparks on a (hand cranked) grinding wheel. How can I find out (1) what kind of steel it is, and (2) how (or whether) I can harden it? Thanks.
   Rob Crutchfield - Friday, 11/21/03 21:38:35 EST

Paw Paw, I'm just hoorawin' you about age. We're pretty close.

There is one time that I know of where tongs get heated. If you are hardening something small like a fire steel or gun spring, the tongs can be also heated to the hardening heat so they don't rob heat from the contact point.

And about the big industrial tongs, not only should they be made out of something respectable, but the reins should not be welded, but rather, drawn. There is too much chance of breakage when welded. And the reins are usually of a long, tapered rectangular section, with maybe the edges radiused. When coupling the reins, don't use a ring. It may fly off and hit you while you're using the big hammer. It's better to use a narrow chain link shape.

Re the rotating anvil, for gosh sakes, go on shanks' mare to the other side or make some bottom-tool stakes to work on.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/21/03 21:49:55 EST


I knew, was just playing, as you were. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/21/03 22:12:54 EST

And Grant. Old Sock Old Bean, Lets see, if you average about 35¢ in material for a pair of tongs, then the retail price must include Labor, Overhead, and Profit. Yeah, yeah, I think I get it.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/21/03 22:35:32 EST

Anyone have directions onhow to make a small (3") frog? Thanks
   Karen - Friday, 11/21/03 23:08:26 EST

Karen; I doubt the frog would put up with it.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 11/22/03 01:14:38 EST

Left Handed Anvils; John M.:

Being right handed but left brained my main anvil has the horn to the right and my smaller farrier's anvil for finer work (set high) has the horn to the left. When I use my gas forge, "down shop" I approach the main anvil from the stern and pick the side as needed.

As for the scissors, I would just gift them to some lefty friends, who would be most appreciative. My younger son and elder brother go through the "wrong sided" experience every day. Now you can sympathise. ;-)

Tongs and Materials:

A long while back I reforged a larger pair of old tongs into scrolling tongs. The first time I used them on anything substantial the handles bent far more than the metal scrolled. Now there's a good place for alloy or higher carbon tongs.

I make it a point to buy one pair of Grant's tongs from Kayne & Sons at the BGOP Spring Fling each time I go. I even drag them to medieval demonstrations as an example of a "modern version of the ancient tool" (and because they're so d@mn useful). I can really feel the difference.

When using modern tongs, when they start getting uncomfortably hot, I will frequently rest them on the swage block or the other anvil during a heat to take advantage of the heat-sink effect. I will get around to cooling them in the slack tub, but only at a very low black heat. The sound of the steam will usually tell me just how hot they were, and what level of caution to use.

Looks like another sunny bright autumn day on the banks of the lower Potomac. Last regular voyage of the season tomorrow.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 11/22/03 08:18:00 EST

About which way an anvil should face,
Having been born left handed,switched in the first grade by the teacher, and then becoming more or less ambi. I used the hand that was best for the job. Then in a seven week period I broke my wrist, and two days after the cast was off I caught a stray bullet in the first thumb joint past the wrist. Some bone and tendon damage. I am now more right handed then before, use the tongs in the left hand, but like the anvil with the horn to the right. I think it's because its more comfortable for my tong wrist. And I would never leave a tool in the hardy hole to hammer on the face, at least with a normal sized anvil.
On tongs, I prefer somewhat flexable reins, again as it helps with the weak wrist not getting beat up. I sort of learned this from the old forge shop I worked in. We had a lot of large hammers, 10,000#, 15,000# and 25,000# steam drop hammers. The billets were so large that the tongs were hung and balenced from a bridge trolley. The tongs were made with tube reins, not so much for lightness but to absorb shock.The 25,000# let loose something like a million footpounds of energy when it hit. Shook about 20 blocks of downtown Louisville, and there was a Louisville ordinance limiting our operational hours with that hammer so as to not wake people out of their beds!Protecting the hammer man from the shock was vital. The smaller tongs were solid, and at this date I can't say what the material was, but I have several sets, and they weld and act like alloy, probably like 4140, or maybe 410 stainless, as we used huge amounts of the stainless.
   - ptree - Saturday, 11/22/03 09:03:13 EST

Bruce, I thought Njal, that lives on the fjord, was left hanbded?? (and he talks a bit funny too ever since he sneezed while balancing his sword on his nose trying to show off for Beergut...)

OB: BS I forged a pair of tin snips into scrolling tongs; not the greatest but I had to figure out something to do with them when they started showing up cheap at the fleamarket! I did manage to pick up some short nosed snips rated for carbon and alloy steels that I mainly use to cut BSB for billets (cut from the back and let the hardened edge just break)

Off to the fleamarket (feeling much better!)

   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/22/03 09:10:22 EST

Rob Crutchfield,
300 series stainless will get fairly magnetic, if work hardened. It is the typical stainless used for cutlery, often 304. If the parts in question are factory made, they were probably stamped, imparting a high level of work hardening. This would account for the magnetic properties. The lack of sparks may be due to the low rotational speed of the hand cranked stone. 300 stainless doesn't spark that much even with a powered stone. If indeed the parts are 300 stainless, there is no way to thermally heat treat for increased hardness. If the parts were forged hot, the metal will be very soft, should be relativly non-magnetic, and can be hardened a bit by working cold. Not very practical.
I tend to make my outdoor cooking utensils with carbon steel handles and 300 series blades for the turners. I use spun copper bowles for the ladles and all carbon for the flesh forks.
I hope this helps
   - ptree - Saturday, 11/22/03 09:12:54 EST

Question: I have an older lathe with a leather belt drive from the motor to the lathe clutch. The drive pulley is about 3.5x4 and has a steel core and a covering of what looks like leather washers that have been pressed on. These "washers" are starting to break up. Does anybody know anything about this type of pulley? can it be repaired? If not can it be replaced with a similar one?
   Rober J. Otto - Saturday, 11/22/03 11:14:11 EST

Mr Turley's comments remind me that I had intended to include SAFETY as the primary consideration in choosing a material.

Labor, overhead and profit? And where would I be if I failed to include these? Not to mention R&D on new tools. Such is business.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/22/03 11:29:50 EST

Leather/Fibre Pulley: Robert, These were common on old machines. They were used in places where high friction was needed due to the small diameter of the pulley. These were used in reduction ratio situations to avoid a jack shaft.

These pullies are available from McMaster-Carr under "Laminated-Fiber Flat-Belt Pulley". If they do not have the correct size look up "power transmission" in your local yellow pages and try the places listed there.

The new ones use fiber of some sort, the old ones used leather. SOME of the old ones could be rebuilt by unscrewing the two halves of the pulley and replacing the leather disks. The assembly would then need to be machined true.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/03 11:40:28 EST

Boss Novelty Hammer: Steve, there is a little mentioned about these in Pounding out the Profits (see our book review). Other than that you are on your own. Rebuilding machinery is pretty much a common sense business. Measure old parts, guess at original nominals and materials, make replacements parts, bushings. Its a job for an experianced machinist/millwright OR someone willing to learn all the necessary skills and do the job with a lot of love for the machine.

If there are details particular to power hammer operation we may be able to help you.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/03 11:59:36 EST

Stainless Utensils: Rob, are you sure they are not just chrome plated steel? This is very common in cooking utensils. If you didn't grind through the chrome there would be no sparks.

If they are a heat treatable grade of stainless the process is fairly tricky. AND you would need to know the exact alloy. You would be better off to make new using a known material.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/03 12:10:12 EST

Frog Forging: Karen, When I went to the 1982 ABANA Conference in Ripley WV there was a British smith there that was fairly famous for his forged frogs. He had a table with a glass top and frogs in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I do not remember all the details. There were many folks there taking copious notes but I have a distain for copying other people's work so I just enjoyed the process. I found my copy of the Anvil's Ring covering the 1982 event but there were no frog pictures.

The frog was more carved than forged but much was done hot. The start was a very large piece of square bar into which the frog was formed diagonaly as if sitting on the end of the bar. After it was finished it was cut off the bar with an abrasive cut off wheel.

Much of the work was blocked out with a hot cut and abrasive wheel or saw but some forging was done. Eyes were made with a special eye punch and the frog's mouth cut with a chisel. One of the last things done before cut off was to seperate the frog's legs from the sides of the body and bend them outward.

Start with a good photo or frog model, then a couple blocks of clay and see what happens. My estimation is that 2/3's of the original material was removed making the frog. You may want to save stages of the model as you remove stock.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/03 13:01:43 EST

Ok, I feel like an idiot now because I'm asking one of "those" questions.

I came across a stainless steel beer keg [empty, don't get excited] and started cutting it up. I made the top into a new forge to replace me brake drum, then sectioned the rest into relatively flat sheet. Before doing this, i forgot to note down and markign or numbers which have now been obliterated by the cutting and hammering involved.

So... anyone know which stainless it most likely was?

And how to make a sword out of it? With a lighter? Oh, and I spent too much on my computer to buy a hammer, can I make a sword without one? This afternoon? At your house?

Sigh... so anyone want to take a guess at the type of stainless? Aside from the derth of markings, is there anything I could tell you about it that would help? Even annealed, its hard as the devil to dish this stuff... about 16 ga.


   Mike - Saturday, 11/22/03 13:05:08 EST

Left-hand, Right-hand

I've never put much stock in the argument for lapping tong a certain way. Sure it does make a difference in scisors. The question I always have is: Which hand do you hold your tongs in? Working by hand you hold the hammer in the right hand so the tongs must be in the left, right? I mean "correct"? Well two munutes later I'm using the same tongs in the power hammer and now they're in my right hand! Do I need two different tongs or what? What do you think Mr Turley?
   - grant - Saturday, 11/22/03 13:11:48 EST

More SS: Mike, It is probably 304 or 308 SS. I doubt that any of the markings on the container had anything to do with the material. The drawing and spinning process probably work hardened it, anneal by heating and quenching. The chrome and nickle in stainless make it tough to work. 304L (low carbon, IE almost none) is still nasty to work cold.

It might be a little thin for a sword unless you are making one of those flexible Chinese things like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (great movie).

Yes you can make it at my house but you will need to clean the shop gutters and rake the leaves first. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/03 14:08:26 EST

You know.....now that I think about it, maybe I would sell more tongs if I made them both ways! Yeah, you SHOULD have a different pair working by hand or power. Now if I can only convince everyone. Hmm.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/22/03 14:11:05 EST


Thanks for the info... sure is hard to work cold! I thought I'd anneal the rim of the forge and flare it our a little. After about 20 minutes with barely a dent, I thought I'd heat it up to a nice bright read and flare the rim a little. After about an hour, I though I'd cut a pair of slots on opposite sides for long pieces, and the heck with flaring the rim. Funny how my handheld tin snips would cut it, but I couldn't dish that thing for the life of me!

Anneal by heating an QUENCHING? I'd been told only to quench non-ferrous, that ferrous has to cool slowly to anneal.

My wife won't let me rake your leaves until I finish ours. :( Now I'll NEVER get to make a sword.

Gas forge question:
I'm attempting to make a propane burner accourding to Ron Reil's directions for an atmospheric model.
I'm having trouble finding a #60 drill bit [I understand that's slightly smaller than 1mm] for the gas jet in the brass nipple. Anyone know what happens if the hole is 1/16
rather than #60?

[If the answer involves lots of burning and screaming, you're only encouraging me.]

   mike - Saturday, 11/22/03 15:11:33 EST

PTREE, perhaps we should ammend your statement to cover "silverware" instead of cutlery since knives and swords do fall under that term and 300 series are *DEFINITELY* not proper alloys for them---save for wall hangers.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/22/03 15:30:30 EST

My thanks to the guru and 3dogs for their help in information on finding an outlet for Kohlswa anvils.
   jim - Saturday, 11/22/03 15:44:42 EST

Mike Ace Hardware sells a set of small drill sizes in a Dremel branded set about the size of a matchbook. It includes a #60 it was about $12 if memory serves. It had 6 or 8 micro sizes
   habu - Saturday, 11/22/03 16:11:18 EST

I noted that a lot of cutlery was 300 series SS. I DIDN't say it was any good. The mordern low cost Knives forks and spoons that one buys is mostly 300 SS. Mostly 304 as it works well in fine blanking and coining, which is how the cheap stuff is made. The knives won't hold an edge, but these are mostly butter knives. Anyone who uses 300 series for a edged tool will be disappointed. Real knives can be made from various 400 series SS and get a good edge. 420F 430 or 440C all make fair to good edged tools. I would not and did not advocate 300SS for knives/swords. I just noted that the parts he had may well have been 300 SS.
   - ptree - Saturday, 11/22/03 17:00:55 EST

More Left Hand Tools: That was what the entire left/right argument was about, the lack of tools for lefties. . .

Brief research just showed that there don't seem to be really good statistics on left handedness. Many quote that there are about 10% lefties but some believe that if you take away societal pressures the number is closer to 50/50. One article claimed lefties died earlier (mostly to accidents) and another claimed this was a myth spread by the right handed. . . The whole thing looks like the Liputian war of the small enders and big enders. . .

But 10% is right and you consider many lefties have learned to get along with right handed tools then the market is pretty small.

Right handed power hammer work tends to be two handed. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/03 17:04:29 EST

SS "Cutlery" My mom's very high class silverware from the 1940's had silver handles and stainless blades on the table knives. The reason? Silver is too soft and plate wears. So they had 300 series SS blades with a forged shoulder. The hollow handles must have been silver soldered on because I never noticed any joint and none ever loosened (family of eight over 50 years. . . ).

My wife and I bought nice heavy forged SS tableware in the 1970's. It had a very nice embossed pattern in the handles that was treated to be dark. These were heavy well made utensils that felt good in use and held up to all kinds of abuse. The color indicates that it is something other than 304.

Although 304 will not hold an edge for most purposes it will cut you all to pieces (lathe chips have taken off digits and limbs) and I suspect a sword made of it would be just as lethal as the finest blade steel. Yep, its edge would get dinged against bone and sinue but dead is dead. How many times must it be used unfazed? Overkill? 304 makes great dull edged movie blades and is low maintenance since it does not rust (all the blades pounded against one and other require just as much ding repair, steel or otherwise).
   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/03 17:29:19 EST


When my son (a lefty) was in elementary school, it was a treat to watch him write on a chalkboard. He would start out with the chalk in his left hand and write until it was time to shift his position to the right. Instead of moving his feet, though, he would just swap hands with the chalk and continue writing. I really thought that he would be ambidextrous , but as he got older, he seemed to prefer the left more and more. Interesting that Lefties have a higher propensity to be ambidexterous than righties.

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.
   gerald - Saturday, 11/22/03 19:14:35 EST

Oh Great Guru; how well does those alloys resist taking a permanent set? "Using" swords are quite thin and light and so two qualities they must excell in is not bending (permanently) and not breaking. I am quite willing to believe that a 300 series steel would resist breaking my experiences with 300's SS being more of the gummy as heck type; but I'm not so sanguine about it resisting getting bent in battle.

Early swords were often tempered fairly soft as you can defend yourself somewhat with a bent blade but you are crow's meat with a broken one. There are records of roman legions having to straighten their blades after a battle and in at least one of the sagas a fellow's "good" sword is swapped for a bad one and he has to straighten it under foot during the battle.

However, in general, a sword fight entails several passes/impacts, especialy if you are wearing armour or using a shield and a sword that takes a set upon impact with a shield rim would not help you win/survive as much as one that flexes back to true. How many times?---it should at least last through *1* fight!

One can get substantial cuts with a sheet of paper, however paper does not make a good sword...

I bought a set of silver plated steel knives at the thriftstore once---the handles were real mother of pearl with the blades being silver plated steel that was peeling rather badly. I assumed that the rest of the set had real silver forks and spoons and had been sold for bullion; but I was happy with the MOP for a quarter a piece.

BTW most movie "use" blades are made from Al; often cast from a steel "close up" blade.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/22/03 19:15:24 EST

Stainless/Sterling utensils:

Particularly in the case of handles with embossing, the sterling handles are usually made as two halves then silver soldered together and polished. the stainless steel blede has a takng that is set into the hollow handle using, traditionally, a shellac-type ferrule cement. Those who run them through the dishwasher sometimes find that the dry cycle is a bit hotter than the heat required to melt the shellac cement. The reason for this method of manufature is that sterling stamps easily and cleanly in fairly thin gauges like 24 or 28 and work hardens sufficie4ntly to retain the embossing against most normal household abuse. The shellac filler provides a sufficiently stiff filler to mostly eliminate any dents caused by real abuse.

#60 drill bits are the smallest size found in the standard run of numbered drills, which go from #1 to #60. A #60 drill is .040" diameter, and 1/16" is .0625, more than 50% larger in diameter and 2-1/2 times the area of the #60 drill. YOu can find small lnumbered drills at jeweler's supply houses or MSC or McMaster-Carr.

Drills are also made from #61 through 80, but these get really tiny. I can sharpen a #60 on an Arkansas stone, but #80 is beyond me.

   vicopper - Saturday, 11/22/03 19:20:19 EST

Bill Epps left his tools out for the next smith to use at Possum's hammer-in this summer. I found that I could NOT get his "personal and right handed" Epps style hammer to work for spit. It would not "hit right" on the metal.

Upon inspection, Bill had worn the hammer head to a right handed configuration or pattern, and I was trying to use it with the left hand. It threw the face completely out of alignment with the metal. Switched to the right hand and that same hammer moved metal like it should.

Tools take a wear pattern to the particular hand of the user.

You may want to take notice of the writing instruments you use. They do make left handed pencils and pens. They can be ordered left handed from most manufactures.
   - Conner - Saturday, 11/22/03 20:15:05 EST

"Right handed power hammer work tends to be two handed. . . " Huh? What's that mean?

Pretty rare to hold the tongs with two hands, in fact I'd usually have some kind of tool in my left hand.
   - grant - Sunday, 11/23/03 00:34:11 EST

re anvil horn location....
Yeah I know I am chiming in latye, but we jsut got back into town.....
Makes no differecne to the side it points..... If I find that it is not a good spot I do one of two things... Either during the next heat shift the anvil. Or more likely I start working and then start moving around anvil til I find the sweet spot.... I have been told I look like a dog trying to find the right spot to sleep in....
   Ralph - Sunday, 11/23/03 01:54:25 EST

Stainless fasteners in aluminum..... in a wet environment, I've seen the aluminum powder around the stainless fasteners in 6000 series. I suggest aluminum rivets and structural glue if it needs to last. Galvanic corrosion.

IF you can successfuly seal the stainless/ aluminum joint so that NO moisture gets in, it can work. Loctite is not good enough. Silicone can work well. In fact, I did some testing with epoxies and urethanes and found that common 100% silicone caulk is a very strong "glue" and sealant for clean aluminum with tight fitting joints. Wipe off excess with mineral spirits.
   - Tony - Sunday, 11/23/03 08:12:44 EST

Does brass anneal like copper does? Heat to a dull glow and quench?
As always, thanks!
   Wendy - Sunday, 11/23/03 11:38:39 EST

Wendy, Yes but the dull glow must be in VERY low light.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/03 12:02:21 EST

Do any of you have an opinion on the Herbor Freight tool company?
   - John D - Sunday, 11/23/03 13:17:51 EST

Dear Guru,
I want to know about annealing of iron through an oil bath for annealing of continueous metal strip at a temperature of 900c*, is there any oil/salt which we can use ? Thanks.
   Mehboob - Sunday, 11/23/03 13:24:12 EST

Harbor Freight: John, These folks generaly carry cheap imported tools, largely from China but also from other places. Most are good throw aways others are not worth the agrevation. Generaly you get what you pay for.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/03 13:47:21 EST

I have an anvil that has been well worked over, what is the best type of welding rod to build up the edge of the striking surface of my anvil so I can re-shape it ????????????????
   Jim - Sunday, 11/23/03 14:12:59 EST

Walter Ralegh and the Earl of Essex had to brief their troops on cutting diagonally through the necks of their Irish POWs so as not to bend the swords against the vertebrae of the neck.

ThomasP wrote: "Real knives can be made from various 400 series SS and get a good edge. 420F 430 or 440C all make fair to good edged tools." Where could I find out how to work them?
   Rob Crutchfield - Sunday, 11/23/03 15:16:26 EST

Can brass be heat hardened either with a torch or in an oven or kiln? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.
   erica - Sunday, 11/23/03 15:38:57 EST

Tempering Bath: Mehoob, Annealing requires a temperature range of 1400 to 1800°F (760 to 980°C) depending on the steel and a slow cooling to 1350 #176;F (732°C) that might be achieved using sucessive baths. Thin high carbon strip may air harden on removal from the annealing bath. Progressive baths may need to be in adjoining tanks (pots) using the same salt.

Common table salt is in the right range. See the chart and information I have added to our Heat Treating FAQ

   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/03 15:44:50 EST

Heat Treating Brass: Erica, there are thousands of brasses and bronzes. I suspect that a few may be heat treatable like silver but I do not know specifics. Maybe one of our jewlers or metalurgists know. Silver must be age hardened in an oven over a period of hours so a torch is not suitable.

Normally brass and bronze is annealed by heating and quenching and hardens from working.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/03 15:53:21 EST

Rob Crutchfield,
Actually, ptree said 420f,430 and 440C all make fair to good edged tools. The best source on the properties of the stainless grades is the Carpenter Technologies Co. They put out a soft bound book that details the selection and use of stainless steels. Includes heatreatment and a limited amount of forgeing data. Write and ask for the book.
   - ptree - Sunday, 11/23/03 15:59:00 EST

Anvil Repair: Jim, We highly reccomend against repairing anvils unless they are completely useless. Cosmetic repairs are likely to ruin a perfectly good anvil. If the anvil is an antique such as a Colonial style or early Mousehole you may be destroying any historic or collectors value as an antique by making repairs. Try dressing with a grinder first.

Repairs are dependent on the type of anvil, 100% tool steel, plate on wrought or plate on cast iron. Any heating of plate on cast iron anvils is likely to loosen the plate and ruin the anvil. 100% tool steel (cast steel and forged steel) anvils need more preheat than plate on wrought. These need the general area pre-heated to 300-350°F.
Rods designed for build up under hard facing rods or for welding tools steel like high manganese "super missle" rod are best. Hard facing rods are generaly too hard and brittle. Grind out cracks before starting. Preheat then weld. Peen between passes, grind out any and all inclusions before making second passes. Grind to finish. Temper to a straw.

Remember that after welding there is always going to be a soft zone from tempering and a hard zone from self quench. The hard zone can be corrected somewhat by tempering but the soft zone will always be soft.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/03 16:10:28 EST

Swords and Sword Material: My point about sword material is this:

Where in the modern world are you going to use a sword against another sword wielding armored opponent with the intention of killing one and other?


Firearms made armor pointless over a century ago. The last few times swords were used in warfare they were used against unarmoured opponents as backups when bullets, powder or shot ran out.

The only place swords are used against armor today is in the theater, movies, television and in SCA type events. In those situations safety is the primary concern, not lethality. In theatrical venues a rubber sword (also axes, knives and armor) are more common than metal. Safety of the actors is of primary importance. The only sharp steel blades used are for carefully posed closeups and stills. Soft dull stainless and aluminimum blades are used for sword play except where rapiers are used and these must be spring steel. You will note that the use of rapiers in films has dimished tremondously in recent decades. This is due to the libility of a weapon that is impossible to make safe.

Against an unarmored opponent a blade made of almost any material including many plastics and most common metals can be lethal. However, in the modern world any firearm trumps a sword and armor of any quality.

We are used to seeing young children carrying machine guns in news footage from the Middle East but in the last two days we have had 4 murders of and by teenagers in our local area using handguns. Where in such a world does a sword have a place?

Only in our fantasies Highlander, only in our fantasies.

A "gummy" 304SS Sword will probably out perform a bronze sword (yeild and tensile are roughly the same) and is 12 to 13 percent lighter for the same size and section. How many millions were killed with Bronze Age weapons?

Rubber weapons and armor are found more commonly in television series where the same actors work week after week for months at a time (See Zina and Hercules).
   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/03 16:12:08 EST

Zena and Hercules? The swords may made of rubber but the "actors" (sic) are made of wood!
   adam - Sunday, 11/23/03 17:13:40 EST

Guru; much that same can be said for many if not most of the guns they sell in these parts---but folks still won't buy them without a hole in the barrel...in the knife/sword biz you just can't sell unsharpened blades nearly as well as sharp ones---who's going to dress out a deer with a $10K fancy knife? But they still have to be *sharp* to sell.

Rob; may I commend to your attention "The Complete Bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas as having info on blade alloys and the forging and heat treat thereof.

I went scrounging for scrap metal today and found a top swage sticking out of the dirt in what was once a scrap yard

   Thomas P - Sunday, 11/23/03 20:31:46 EST


I've found myself using a number of sizes of pipes, both as bending "wrenches" for sepentine serpents and tendrils, and for stock. So, my curiosity getting the better of me, what is your common "black iron pipe" made out of?


When we do reenactments with steel, there is a diferentation between field weapons, which tend to be tougher with bated edges, and camp and display weapons, which may be sharpened to a realistic (and dangerous) degree. Most of what we do is choreographed using our field weapons; and a LOT of armor, far more than was common really, is used in case somebody slips. Some of our folks have still had their share of stitches, over the years.

As for me, I prefer an axe!

A beautiful day for the last regular voyage of the season. We actually had a few good reaches under sail, and enough rowing to satisfy all the crew. Cool and calm tonight on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 11/23/03 23:50:44 EST

John D.
As a longtime former Herbor Fright customer, I don't think I came out ahead. Some namebrand tools are well priced and the cheapy air hammers are a lot of tool for few bucks. The on sale $70 portapowers are a good deal.Neither is as good as the adult equivalent.
   - Pete F - Monday, 11/24/03 00:48:47 EST

Paw Paw, I'm glad your feelings aren't hurt & that your vanity is intact.
Swords: My girlfriend's daughter(age 13)wanted a sword for Christmas a few years ago. I like to think I'm a pretty fair blade maker, but that cutlass ate my lunch. It is similar to a cavalry officer's sword.The point is that it is hard to get a good grind on a long blade with a 2" belt. It looks good and she loves it, (but I left it dull and the tip rounded rather than a sharp point) Wayne Goddard (Blade Magazine Q & A)said if you're going to forge and grind a sword, a 6" wide belt would be much better to grind a long blade than the 2" belts most of us use.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 11/24/03 08:38:09 EST

Hmmm, I didn't come out red last night. Home computer of Netscape problem or just an odd glitch?

I notice that sometime Mr. Turley loses all color too, but usually when looking at some of my opinions expressed here. ;-)

Well, time to test...
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/24/03 09:32:51 EST

The Signiture Colors: Bruce, Just glitchyness. It happens to me ocassionaly when I have had other windows open, Frank has given up and I change his color after he posts any time I have to edit the page which is at least once a day. Some members log in and some don't (like Pete).
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/03 09:41:42 EST

do you know of any places in British Columbia (mainly in the lower mainland) where coal or coke is for sale? i have tried to find it so many times and hardly got anything.
   colin - Monday, 11/24/03 10:29:43 EST

Colin I would contact the Vancouver Island Blacksmith's Association and ask them. These guys are pretty active and would know of coal sources.

Note that many local groups pool their money to purchase good coal by the truck or car load. Then the coal is distributed or sold as members need it.
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/03 10:36:37 EST

i am new to metal work and i am trying to make some spurs and bits( for horses). I have looked at alot of bit makers and all of the mouth pices look the same. i was wondering if you might know of a company that sells the mouth peicesor spur shanks. Thank you.
   tinker turner - Monday, 11/24/03 12:13:07 EST

LP hose - looking for a hose to connect my LP tank and grill regulator to a EZ-burner. The regulator came with a 30" hose, but that's putting the tank WAY too close to teh burner for comfort. Commercial grill hoses are awfully expensive, I suspect that's mostly the hardware on the ends which I don't need.

Looking in local hardware store, I don't see a hose constructed much like the commercial regulator's hose. Any thoughts?

   mike - Monday, 11/24/03 13:44:48 EST

Dear Guru,
I'm a 41 years old amateur blacksmith from France. I started forging 4 yars ago, and I'm currently making blades, old india and eastern europe style. Those blades often have some nice engraving work, so I would like to know how to deal with engraving and hardening. I plan to do the engraving work before hardening, but I'm afraid it may be damaged during the hardening (I only have coal heating, so it may not be very clean, neither very safe). Would you be so kind to tell me what you think of hardening an already engraved blade ?
Thanks a lot,
   Bernard - Monday, 11/24/03 14:17:41 EST

Propane Hose: Mike, Go to your local welding supplier and tell them what you need. They have a standard all-fuels rubber hose and will put on fittings as needed. Most propane forges come with standard left hand thread welding hose fittings but pipe threaded ends are available.
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/03 14:58:22 EST

Engraving: Bernard, As long as the knife is properly tempered with a soft back and hard edge you should be able to engrave the tempered material. Yes it is tough but engraving is commonlly done on hard metal (up to a point).

The option of doing it to the annealed blade requires protecting the surface while hardening. It is common to use salt baths for hardening and tempering pieces with finished surfaces. The salt protects the surface from the air. The only problem may be salt sticking in the engraving. However, this can usualy be disolved by soaking in water.

Don Fogg has some information about building and using salt pots for blade work on his web page AND I just added some salt information to our heat treating FAQ.
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/03 15:07:09 EST

Spurs and Bits: Tinler, I think you are looking for parts that every maker makes themselves.
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/03 15:08:58 EST

When is Boone's Pasture Party this year?
   robcostello - Monday, 11/24/03 15:10:07 EST

thanks a lot for your help about engraving and hardening.
First I will try with selective hardening and/or tempering. Salt bath won't be that easy for me, but I'll keep it in mind for later use.
   Bernard - Monday, 11/24/03 16:49:48 EST

Mike; don't think that a grill regulator will work with a forge burner! You need a high pressure unit--also one that is adjustable as you may want to change the ammount of heat input depending on what you are doing.

I have used an acetylene regulator and a store boughten high pressure propane regulator (got two propane forges).

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/24/03 18:40:55 EST

tinker turner, There are many, many mouthpiece styles on the bits. If you want to be a bitsmith or spur maker, you'll need to do a lot of research, and then maybe specialize, later on. I'll mention some names, but you will need to do the web research. Jeremiah Watt and Bruce Cheaney have out videos on bit and spur making. Robert Hall has out a book, "Bit and Spur Making". For different styles of Western bits, Ned Martin has out three recent books: one on old California style; one on Texas style; and one of recent bit and spur artisans. The there is a whole class of so-called English riding equipment, but their bits are usually manufactured. To mention a few Western styles, there are: grazing (low port curb bit), snaffle, ring, spade (either Spanish or Spoon shape), half-breed (, narrow curb with cricket), and the copper covered port. Then for spurs, you have "arena style" (modern with a smallish rowel) and vaquero or buckaroo style with the Hispanic influence. The shanks can be straight or curve downward. Some of them even are "full drop" shanks, 90º. The fancier spurs and bits have engraved silver inlaid or overlaid on them. Get on www.ebay.com and type in 'Garcia bit' for a look at the California/Western slope style.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/24/03 18:53:43 EST

I got burned and its not bad, but i want to know if i should waer gloves in the future-and what the difference between right handed and left handed tools is.

thanks for all your help.
   - John D - Monday, 11/24/03 19:07:04 EST

and what do the numbers after the date mean?
   - John D - Monday, 11/24/03 19:17:31 EST


My God! A master craftsman, if there ever was one!

The rest of you, follow Frank's instructions if you want to see some true craftsmanship. I'm tempted to buy one, just for the investment!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/24/03 19:20:40 EST

Mike's propane hoses:

To add to what Thomas said, the BBQ hoses I've seen are rated at 1 PSI working pressure and most definitely should not be used with high pressure regulators.

I have successfully used a turkey fryer reg on my forge. Maybe you can find a frustrated chef this weekend (or arrange a 51 week loan). :)

If you still end up with a short hose, I realized AFTER leaving $40 at the local propane dealer that I could have plumbed the first couple feet from the burner with black pipe.
   Mike B - Monday, 11/24/03 20:11:00 EST

I will second Paw Paw's endorsment of Frank. I went through his program 20 years ago. Today I can't remember my name but his words of wisdom are still fresh in my mind, he's real good.

I do have a question. I am looking for a power hammer and keep coming across advertisments for the "Big Blu". I would like to get some feedback from anyone who owns or has used one.
   Peter Jagoda - Monday, 11/24/03 20:19:06 EST

Actually Pete, I wasn't talking about Frank, but it's true for him, too. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/24/03 20:53:57 EST

Pete, Are you still in Arizona? I have the knife you presented to me...still!
Re the bits, I'm making my first spade bit at the present time. Whereas most of them are fabricated nowadays, I am forging mine out of my stash of Swedish charcoal iron. There are tons of sanding, careful filing, and polishing to be done. I'm going to make the rein chains and slobber chains, too. It will be entered in a show in Red Bluff, California, late April. I've done silverwork before, but this bit will be plain iron. I've had the opportunity to look at three California bits, probably from the 1860s, and only one had silverwork. The early riding horses were smaller and had a smaller width to their mouths than the modern horse. Many of today's riding horses have a 5" to 5¼" mouth. So, I have "pantographed" my bit to a degree. Haven't had so much fun since the hogs ate grandma!
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/24/03 22:28:04 EST

Pete, Are you still in Arizona? I have the knife you presented to me...still!
Re the bits, I'm making my first spade bit at the present time. Whereas most of them are fabricated nowadays, I am forging mine out of my stash of Swedish charcoal iron. There are tons of sanding, careful filing, and polishing to be done. I'm going to make the rein chains and slobber chains, too. It will be entered in a show in Red Bluff, California, late April. I've done silverwork before, but this bit will be plain iron. I've had the opportunity to look at three California bits, probably from the 1860s, and only one had silverwork. The early riding horses were smaller and had a smaller width to their mouths than the modern horse. Many of today's riding horses have a 5" to 5¼" mouth. So, I have "pantographed" my bit to a degree. Haven't had so much fun since the hogs ate grandma!
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/24/03 22:35:23 EST

John D., My opinion is that you don't need gloves for ordinary ironwork. You can wear them for heavy power hammer work or when welding under the big hammer. Otherwise, I think they are in the way. Also, you get used to picking up hot iron with gloves, and then you pick up hot iron without them!. An entire "thread" of material on right and left hanced tools is here if you just scroll above a little ways.

Eastern Standard Time
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/24/03 22:41:38 EST


I, on the other hand, am a great believer in gloves. I don't believe the old blacksmith's saying that: "gloves just make you careless." YOU make yourself careless, whether wearing gloves or not. I have, however, had several situations where, taking the greatest of care (especially the second time) things have slipped and the gloves reduced what would have been very bad burns into merely painful embarrassments. It's also a matter of what you're used to, how you "feel" the hammer and tools, how well suited the gloves are to your need for manipulation, and how comfortable you are in them. Also, wet gloves can make things worse, giving you a bad steam burn if you do pick up hot steel.

I'm very comfortable in gloves, but then, I like to run around in mail and helm for hours, too. Unlike safety glasses, this is more of a personal preference based on comfort levels and work styles. Different ships, different long splices.

Rainy cold and windy on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/24/03 23:20:41 EST

Contents and properties of "black iron" pipe anyone? (The question might have been missed in my missive of Sunday. That's what you get when you're not in color! ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/24/03 23:27:03 EST

Speaking of bits and spurs; in case anyone is wondering what Ol' Beau Hickory is up to lately, go to http://bh-t.hypermart.net/
   3dogs - Tuesday, 11/25/03 02:12:51 EST


I wear a glove on my "tong" hand, because lots of times I don't use tongs. With a gasser, the stock gets heated a bit much more than my bare hand really likes. And when I'm using hot cutters, chisels, or punches which puts my left hand too close to the hot iron. I can't stand a glove on my hammer hand, I feel like I don't have the sensitivity and control I need and it would only soften up all those manly calouses. (grin) The end result is that I have lots of unused right-handed gloves lying around somewhere. Somebody needs to set up a glove exchange for left/right handed smiths so we're not buying two for the use of one.

I tried teaching myself to be ambidextrous so that I could wear out both gloves of a pair, but that seemed to be hopeless. I can't understand it, frankly. When I was a signpainter, I could letter long stretches of wall signs working from a ladder, simply by switching hands. You'd think that anyone who could letter signs with both hands could swing a hammer with both hands, but it just ain't so in my case. It beats me, literally. (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/25/03 08:20:37 EST

Black Iron Pipe: Bruce, It used to be called Wrought Iron pipe and still is in some places. I'm not sure of the exact composition but it is low carbon.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/03 09:10:49 EST

Gloves: I wear gloves as the need arises. I agree with Frank in that they usualy get in the way and make you careless about touching hot iron.

When moving loads of steel I wear my favorite all purpose leather front canvas back Mule Brand gloves.

The leather/canvas gloves are cheap enough that they are nearly throw-away consumables. I prefer them over the more expensive gloves because you tend to wear the expensive ones after they are worn through or oil soaked. All it takes is a little 1/8" hole for a sputter ball to bounce in. . .

When welding I wear the same leather/canvas gloves UNLESS it is VERY heavy welding and then I wear welding gloves. For using a cutting torch (and ocassionaly arc welding) I usually wear just an off hand glove. The same glove protects both hands.

When forging I ocassionaly use an off-hand glove for holding work that is repeatedly heated. But fir work on long bar like fire tools I work bare handed. I am more likely to use gloves in COLD weather than to protect from hot iron.

When working with tongs I do not wear gloves.

When chisling I ocassionaly wear a thin TIG glove on my off-hand. If you know a left handed smith then consider trading those unworn gloves!

Many smiths now use short chisels and hold them with special tongs. This avoids the heat and saves on tool steel. You can make about three of these short chisels from the steel needed to make one long one. You tend to do better work when you are not getting out of the way of rising heat.

Note that suppliers like Kayne and Son carry fire resistant gloves and sell singles (rights or lefts) as needed.

NEVER wear wet gloves to do hot work (including sweat soaked). The water can become steam and burn you worse than the hot metal. Remember that it takes TIME to remove a steaming glove (while it is burning you). If sweat is a problem then keep multiple sets of gloves available.

NEVER wear gloves around rotating machinery. It may SEEM like a good idea to protect you from chips but gloves like loose clothing can get caught in the machinery or pulled in by a long chip and cause serious injury.

Generally in the blacksmith shop you wear gloves when you feel the need. The important thing is to have the proper gloves available when the need arrises. Be sure to discard worn unsafe gloves and get replacements.

When asked if he ever gets burned, Paw-Paw says, "The question is not IF, Its, Have you have gotten burned today and how bad? Small burns are to be expected in blacksmithing just like in welding.

In the nuclear industry you learn to work in gloves all the time. In contaminated areas normaly you are wearing thin disposable cotton liners and two pairs of rubber gloves (like dish washing gloves). If mechanicaly protective gloves are needed they are worn OVER the double rubbers. For special applications multiple layers of surgical gloves are worn but these tear easily and are not recylable.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/03 09:53:27 EST

Bruce and All, I have wondered about black iron pipe composition. My books don't have much on the subject. My search engines this AM, turned up the information that some pipe is made from ASTM A53. Grade A has a max of 0.25 carbon and 0.90 manganese. Grade B has a max of 0.30 carbon and 1.20 manganese. The specs say that A53 covers black, hot-dipped galvanized welded, and seamless pipe. www.chicagotube.com/stockbook/pipe/astm_a53.html Another distributor had only this to say: "carbon steel (black iron)".
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/25/03 10:12:53 EST

Like Jock, I occasionally wear a tong hand glove. One difference is that I deliberately wear a glove that is a bit too large. That is so I can "sling" the glove off in a hurry. There've been a few time when that alone has saved me from a more serious burn. With practice, the slight "looseness" of the glove is not a problem. And like most smiths that I know, I never wear a glove on my hammer hand.

And let's add one more item to this discussion. I *ALWAYS* carry an Aloe Vera plant when I'm demonstrating. NOTHING else works as well, let along better, for burn treatment.

Several years ag, I was seriously burned (instant second degree burns) on the palm and finger pads of my left hand. I used ice and ibuprofin for pain, and Aloe Vera for burn ointment. I have very little scar tissue, and stilly have full mobility of the hand. Neither of those would be true if I had not had AND USED the Aloe Vera.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 10:22:03 EST

Black Iron: This used to be exclusively called "wrought iron" pipe, meaning forged or wrought, not particularly the old material wrought iron. I think modern usage of "black iron" is to distinguish it from galvanized.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/03 10:23:30 EST

do you know how to inlay with copper/silver/gold? im a little unsure on how to inlay a dagger handle. any help would be great.
emin muil
   colin - Tuesday, 11/25/03 10:39:45 EST

Bruce the Red,
On the contents of the black pipe. Now wouldn't the contents be dependent on the application? Like a water pipe should have water...(VBG)
   Ralph - Tuesday, 11/25/03 11:22:10 EST

Burns: I have found that if I can get my hand into the slack tub PDQ and swish it around for several mins followed by ice from the freezer, I get very little damage. Last week I dropped a hot bar and carelessly reached down without looking to pick it up. The bar felt wet and slippery! An instant later the heat reached the nerves and I understood that the "wet" sensation had been my fingertips melting. Pausing only to scream in terror, I plunged my hand into the icy slack tub. Apart from white scorch marks on the fingerpads, there seems to be no damage to the underlying tissue.

Aloe Vera: I see this as an ingredient in all sorts of skin ointments. Whats the best preparation for burns?

I hate to wear gloves especially on my hammer hand. I sometimes use one on my left hand. Like Rich, my gasser gets too much of the work hot. Also, since I have taken to wearing a glove on my left hand while oxy cutting, my cuts have improved a lot! :)
   - adam - Tuesday, 11/25/03 12:15:04 EST


I use the raw sap of the plant. Aloe Vera is a succulent, (form of cactus) and the leaves are like a spike. I break a single leaf off and squeeze the sap out, smearing it on the injured area.

It's also good for sunburn. It's a bit sticky when first applied, but is soon absorbed by the sking. I've never noted or read about any side effects.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 12:22:13 EST

Guru, I want to buy a MIG welder but i don't know what a reasonalble price for a used one in good condition would be. Please give me some pointers, thanks.
   Bonis - Tuesday, 11/25/03 12:24:17 EST


Here's the guide I use for buying used equipment. In good condition, all parts and accessories present and working, one half the new retail cost. Price goes down from there.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 13:10:18 EST

COLIN; For starters, see dragon-boy's post of 11-18-03, 11:28:34 and then see ALAN-L's post of 12:37:17, same day.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 11/25/03 13:10:28 EST

Adam, if you live in a climate where aloe vera does not grow, it is available in liquid form, Sam's Club carries it for one. It's also good for sunburn, and insect bites.
   ellen - Tuesday, 11/25/03 13:11:27 EST

I agree with PPW on Aloe's use.
But Adam has a good point. From the many first aid ( and more) training as well as personal experience, if you get your burned part into water IMMEADIATELY and allow it too cool the burn you will minimize greatly the burn. It is recommended that you use the same time as for flushing out an eye ( 15 min. ) This may seem a long time but it works.
Also do not worry overmuch about the cleanliness of the water.... if there is an open ( skin burned off) wound that can be addressed after the burning is stopped. Yes I said burning. The skin and or flesh will continue to cook after you let go the hot stuff. That is why cool or cold water is used, to stop the burn form going deeper.

But with all that said the best burn treatment is prevention. Think! As Guru has said before you have to be aware of your surroundings and you have to be aware of what it is you do. That is why some folks should never demo, as they lose too much focus and can be a danger to themselves or others. So think!
   Ralph - Tuesday, 11/25/03 13:15:27 EST

Hello. I am looking for materials to build a propane forge. Your store lists some refractory blankets and coatings. No prices are listed, and there seems to be no available provisions for placing an order. Is this limited to CSI members only?
   - Tom - Tuesday, 11/25/03 13:27:57 EST

St. Mary's County, Maryland (Associated Scribes)-

A local forge was leveled today in a deafening steam explosion after the blacksmith loaded a pipe full of water into his forge at full blast. Bruce Blackistone, who miraculously survived the blast, said someone named “Ralph” told him to do it.

Had Mr. Blackistone not been behind the tree outback of the forge, relieving himself, the nefarious Ralph’s fiendish plan would surely have come to fruition.

In other news…

Slackin’ Burns:

One of the reasons I’m tickled with my 44 gallon stainless steel crab cooker as a slack tub is that it has a full, flanged lid. It’s so discouraging to come in after being a week or more away, and discovering that a mouse has decided to “end it all” in your slack tub. Smells BAD, too. I always have the slack tub open when doing any hot work by gas or coal, both for ready fire prevention and for plunging my hand in when I do get that ol’ burnin’ sensation. Much nicer to know that it’s at least a semi-sterile environment, even if a little dark from coal dust, ash and scale.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/25/03 13:40:21 EST

Slack Tub: A little late in the season but we found that a cup of Chlorox bleach to 20 gallons of water stops mosquitoes from growing in the slack tub. . . And guess what? This also keeps other nasties from reproducing in the water which is GOOD if you quench your hand in it. If you are confused about how much of what to put into the tub get a small swimming pool chemical kit. . . does pretty much the same as Chlorox. Test and reapply just like you would the pool. But be aware, this will disolve metal slacktubs.

Winter is coming and hear are our favorite methods of keeping the tub and propane tanks from freezing:

1) Heat tapes wrapped around the tub or tank.
2) Tub or tank setting on a battery blanket.
3) Stock Tank heater in the Slack-Tub.

Propane bottles should only be warmed if outside of a building and the warming device must have a working thermostat. Blankets DO help, so does fiberglass insulation. Consider building a dog-house like structure for the propane bottle and keeping it warm.

They don't sell battery blankets down here in the South but the boys up North will know what htey are. Stock Tank heaters are sold at farm supply stores.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/03 13:58:07 EST

Thanks Ellen, PawPaw. Will look for some Aloe Vera juice.
   - adam - Tuesday, 11/25/03 14:06:32 EST

Store Prices: The prices are on the individual product pages. Sometimes it takes a minute for the cart Java applets that display the prices to load. If you change pages while they are loading sometimes they do not load. Some browsers, especialy certain brain dead versions of IE do not work with the Java applets. You may write for prices if nothing else works.

We sell Kaowool by the FOOT, 10 FT and full 25 FT cartons. The 10 FT caton of 1 x 24" is currently $48.75

ITC-100 is 29.95 pint.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/03 14:07:18 EST


good point about the cold water (or ice). I should have addressed that issue.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 14:09:53 EST


If you can't find any, let me know. Sheri just divided ours this spring and it needs done again.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 14:12:32 EST

I too wear a glove on my left hand (tong hand) while forging... 99% of my hotwork is done in furnaces that were *designed* to put a LOT of heat out, all the way to the lip of the door, so gloves are a must and allow me to use tongs less than 2' without getting burned. Gloves are also nice when stock is dropped; if I can pick it up and drop it within a second and a half even if it's at a black heat, I can keep things from catching fire a lot more often. On the rare occasions that I get burned (NEVER yet while wearing gloves...) I have used ice and aloe with fairly good results. Also a note: I used to wear both gloves for doing setup work and loading heavier stuff into the forge... found that I would come back to the anvil, pick up the hammer with a gloved hand and start pounding with a DEATH GRIP on it, because I couldn't tell how tight I was holding it through the glove! Needless to say, I broke myself of that habit right fast... Also, I like the canvas-back gloves... for sanding and stuff. The gloves I use for forging are all-leather, kind of an orangey color, with a cord around the wrist for tightening that I cut off. Handy, though a bit more expensive than the canvas-back ones.

Cool and rainy in Honolulu, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 11/25/03 14:51:34 EST

Ralph, The "pipe people" have their own little world of numbering and end-use info. They do go by "schedules", a numbering system having to do with wall thickness and therefore, weight. There are other ASTM numbers for higher strength pipe than A53. I would talk to the supplier about a particular application, so that I would get the right strength and coating.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/25/03 14:56:53 EST

MIG Welder Prices: Bonis, This is a hard one. Generally used electronic equipment is worth little or nothing and I apply the same rules to welders. You are almost ALWAYS buying someone elses problems.

Simple old AC buzz boxes that a physicaly in good shape are usualy in good electrical condition. Check the condition of the terminals or plugs. If there is any arcing or burning there may be an internal problem. Does the selector mechanism work smoothly? How does the cable an cord look. If everything one one of these LOOKS good then tops it is worth half of new if only a few years old. Older is worth less. These simple inspections apply to all welders.

On a MIG machine there is lots to go wrong. The better units are modular, the power supply is seperate from the wire feed unit and the stinger and cable are replacable seperately. Do not buy a brand that you cannot get parts and service localy. Miller is the best.

MIG power supplies have diodes to convert AC to DC plus voltage stabilazation circuits with capacitors and electronic regulators that can go bad. There is usualy a contactor to turn the power on and off coupled to the wire controller. Very few of these units get repaired outside of factory reconditioning. If the welder can be demonstrated the try it out on several thicknesses of material. If you are not yeat an experianced welder find one to test the machine for you.

The wire feeds have a low voltage DC power supply to control the servo motor and its electronic controls. Age, shorts and back fed welding current cause the motor and controls to fail. Lots to go wrong here too.

The first rule of buying used equipment is to find out what an equivalent NEW piece will cost. Next is to determine if repair parts are available. Today it is not unusual to for equipment only a year old to be orphaned.

Some people get good deals on old used welders, others get stuck with junk. A friend of mine bought a lot of used welders and now has a tractor trailer load that ALL need parts or repairs. He won't part with them because he remembers what he paid (too much) for them. . . They are now worth very little or nothing and less every day.

I invested $4000 in an AirCo dual purpose welder that was orphaned two years after it first came on the market. It was worth less than $1000 when two years old. Today. . . MAYBE a couple hundred as long as I can demonstrate that it works.

If the seller wants 30% or more of new then it needs a 90 day warrantee. I wouldn't buy a welder that I didn't know worked and had used it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/03 15:13:38 EST

Thanks for all the help, and my Dad got a good welder for a low price from my Papa(grandfather) and the veteran group he works with, but you would have to ask him about that.
   - John D - Tuesday, 11/25/03 16:08:08 EST


I've been using a Kevlar glove for a while. This isn't the heavy-duty style you get from Centaur. It looks more like a terry-cloth with a knit wrist (no catching stray scale) and I get them from Enco for about $3 a pair.

One thing I noticed about leather gloves is that they tend to "store" the heat. Once I feel the heat, it stays hot even when dropping the steel. The kevlar don't do that and they seem to insulate better, although nowhere near as much as the blacksmithing Kevlar gloves. Those are mighty impressive.

   MarcG - Tuesday, 11/25/03 16:18:11 EST

On pipe,
For those interested in pipe, for various uses, be aware that there are many compositions that all look like "black iron" The standard hardware store black iron pipe is PROBABLY A120. But be aware that there are chrome-moly's that are available in all the standard weights. They don't weld well unless you use the special rods(at least to hold pressure)
Pipe is available in seamless and welded, and the welded is available in many types of welded seam. In standard schedule 40, black iron pipe, I have burst tested at room temp. and found samples of 1/4" pipe that burst at 1200psig and other samples that burst at 18,000 psig. All commodity type nipples bought from a reputable supply house. If forging, I would expect very different performance, and I would also expect that if expanding the id that some may rupture along the seam.
For those who don't deal with pipe much, it is specified by schedule and size untill 14" size is reached. For example; 1/2" schedule 40 pipe has an id of .622, and a wall thickness of .109", sch. 80 has an id of .546" and a wall of .147", sch 160 has an id of .464" and a wall of .188". all 1/2" nominal pipe has the same od of .840" This 1/2" sch 160 pipe has only about a 3/16" id! By searching a little an id and od of almost any size can be had. Pipe covers many other tubular products than gas pipe. Drill pipe is used to transmitt power to the drill bit as well as act as a pipe. Nice heavy wall. If building a pipe forge, and you have access to a pipe shop ask for a drop of P-11 or P-22. Both are high temp Cr-Moly materials that resist high temp. oxidation and creep well, and are designed for steam service at temps from 800F to 1250F.
All summed up to say "black iron pipe" is as descriptive as "steel". In the petro-chemical industry, and in power generation, the piping is specified to match the service, and the valves. When I worked at a large valve mfg. we made valves from everything from C1023 to 316ss, monel to inconel X, and Titanium zirconium alloy, and others too Exotic to mention (grin). Much like any other steel, if the composition is important, buy new.
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/25/03 17:25:22 EST

Tinker Turner: re: equine bits......have you looked at iforge demo #39 here on anvilfire, where Bill Epps shows how to make a bit from scratch?
   Ellen - Tuesday, 11/25/03 17:33:50 EST

On gloves and burns.
In my present employ, as a safety and environmental manager, I buy the gloves for a 200 person shop. We have about 140 people forging, on hot upsetters. We use 20 Oz. hot mill gloves by the case. About 240 pairs/week. Note that these people are not forging on an anvil, or power hammer, but do work with about 50 million pounds of hot steel a year. The fluffy cotton hot mill gloves do protect, but above about 250F, not very good. For burns the American Red Cross teaches to cool asap in cool water. We then use a product called a BURN GEL. These come in various sizes, and cool and sooth. I keep a couple in my shop at home. They are a bit expensive, but are quick to slap on a burn, and are available to sizes big enough to cover a hand and wrist. Aloe Vera is good, but hard to cover a large burn quickly.
As everyone else has noted, think first, grab second. And yes, I learned that one the hard way. The trouble with learning from experience is that first you take the test, then you learn the lesson!
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/25/03 17:35:30 EST

After getting the cuff of a leather palm glove caught while gathering firewood, the stiff cloth cuff is now cut completely off the glove - both hands. Clip that little elastic band across the knuckles also. This gives me hand protection but no place for anything to get snagged.

It is much easier to get the hand out of the glove without that cuff in the way.
   - Conner - Tuesday, 11/25/03 18:17:50 EST


A buddy of mine noticed a difference between men and women. (all right, get your minds out of the bed room! grin) When ladies drop something, they spread their legs to catch it with their skirt. When men drop something, we slap our legs together to catch it. He dropped a knife, drove it to the hilt in his left leg, nicked the femoral artery. Only thing that saved him was fast thinking and a well equipped first aid kit. He appplied a pressure bandage, (NOT a tournequit!) and WALKED to the phone. Saved his own life.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 18:47:45 EST

Paw-paw, I didn't know you knew Mark Twain!

For the original story see Tom Saywer and Huckelberry Finn where runaway Huckleberry Finn is dressed as a girl and is tested by a suspicious woman who tosses something to him (short) to see how he catches it. . . ;)
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/03 19:20:22 EST

We went to school together. I helped write Tom Sawyer. (grin)

The buddy that stabbed himself with the knife had never read the book, and was surprised when I told him about it. But he'd already figured out what he did wrong.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 19:30:22 EST

And in the 1953 movie, Stalag 17, a group of American prisoners of war in WW II Germany, were held in one barracks. They suspected one guy of having been planted as a German spy in their midst. The guy they suspected was asked all sorts of questions about America: sports, geography, etc. But he fielded all of them, and since he had lived in the U.S., they could detect no accent. Finally, one of the good guys throws something at him and says, "Think fast!" The spy misses. A Yank would've caught it. Europeans play soccer. Americans play baseball and football. In 1953, soccer was almost unheard of in the States.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/25/03 20:01:40 EST

To Adam
WWW.cat.com search for greader blades.
Caterpillar Motor Graders/Dozer cutting edges are DH-2 steel 16mm(5/8in)
hope that helps, I have no ideawhat DH-2 is.
   DanD - Tuesday, 11/25/03 20:29:40 EST

Paw Paw,
A little good training in first aid probably saved your friends life. Or at least the leg. Too many people with no training except what they saw in the movies are too quick with a tourniqet. My wife was scheduled for amputation after a well meaning but untrained cop in rural missouri but a tourniqet on her leg after a motorcycle wreck in the 70's. ( no arterial bleeding, and my wife was in the USAF, told him not to, held her down and put it on) A nurse found a pulse at the last second.
Now a moment to preach; get first aid training! The American Red Cross offers training for a pittance in every local in the U.S. If you work in industry, ask your safety officer for the training.( that way it's free) Then get a real first aid kit. If may be your spouse's life you save, it may be your child's or your parents, or maybe your own!
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/25/03 20:35:58 EST


Fully agree, especially the comments about a tourniquet. I suspect you saw my emphasis of the word above. Did you sue the cop, and if not, why not? Granted, he was well meaning, but ignorance is no excuse, he had first aid training available.

As for the sermon you preach, amen brother. Amen!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 20:58:10 EST

Paw Paw,
First, She's my wife now, not then. I met her about a year later.The severe injury cost her admission to the USAF acadamy, in the first year women were allowed. She already had her orders, but was disqualified by the injury. I don't know why she didn't sue, But as she is now an attorney, God help the guy who might do it to somebody she knows now!
Again to all get the training, and a real first aid kit. This means more than some band-aids and tape!
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/25/03 21:11:08 EST


Logical, and I agree with you, shame on anybody that makes that mistake with one of her clients.

As for my tool kit (First Aid kit) I've had EOR Dr's try to buy it from me to no avail. It is a first responders jump bag that I assembled myself. Including a Spahgomanometer (BP Cuff) Oto scope, three different types of stethoscope, US Army issue minor surgical kit, (good for appendix or C section or anything on down from them) US Army suture kit, MANY pressure bandages, as well as bandages of other types, a small pharmaceuticals kit (which is kept up to date) and some injectables, Benadryl, Epinephrine, Xylocaine, and Xylocain/Eppy. All of the controlled substances have the proper documentation with them. I've sent patients to the hospital in the rescue wagon with a treatment tag fastened to their thumb and had doctors ask which branch of the service I was in. When I told them Army Special Forces, they asked why I wasn't a PA.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 21:37:31 EST

First Aid Training: had it in Boy Scouts and in High School, later somewhere else . . . One of those things that should stick with folks but doesn't. I've had to direct people to help treat me for shock twice. . . kinda tricky when you are close to passing out. Good thing that was all I needed because the folks around me were of little or no help.

For those of you that took first aid back when I did some of the treatments have changed such as for snake bite.

The thing missing in the standard course is how to treat yourself in many circumstances.

See, Paw-Paw just admitted to being over 200. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/03 22:13:56 EST

Playing the Devil's Advocate:

Aloe Vera is fine for burns, but it has a pronounced tendency to dry the skin. It is a dessicant, in other words. On a thermal burn, it will help when applied promptly, but it is highly overrated for sunburn. I say overrated because most folks don't realize that when using it on sunburn, you should also apply some moisturizer or you're doing that top layer of hide a disservice.

On falling knives: When I was learning to do restaurant cooking, the guy who taught me had a very simple rule. "Falling knives have NO handles!" I had already learned that one the painful way years earlier, to the tune of seven stitches.

Tourniquets: Don't be too hasty to condemn tourniquets! I've seen half a dozen gunshot or accident victims die in the last few years, who would have been alive had the first officer on the scene applied a tourniquet. Unfortunately, their training was the standard Red Cross "NO TOURNIQUETS." So, they sat there with totally ineffectual pressure bandages while the patient exsanguinated waiting ten minutes for the ambulance.

What the Red Cross fails to recognize, IN MY OPINION, is that in an urban setting where medical care is only minutes away, a tourniquet is far less dangerous than it would be otherwise. But the danger of bleeding to death from a severed femoral or brachial artery is just as real no matter where you are. It takes only about two minutes to die from loss of blood from a severed femoral artery, maybe three or four from a brachial. You can live without a leg, you can live without an arm, but you CAN'T live without most of your blood. Common sense has to prevail, folks.

Please do not take what I am saying as a blanket endorsement of tourniquets, either. If direct pressure will work, then use that, by all means. But if it won't, then why risk the life to maybe save the limb? When the EMT's or Doctors are only minutes away, a tourniquet is unlikely to result in the loss of a limb, as it takes more than just ten or so minutes without blood to kill tissue.

When you're in a rural setting, with medical care much more distant, then there are different rules regarding tourniquets and pressure bandages. If you live or play in those settings, then it behooves you to learn the best techniques you can for the situation you are in. Red Cross first aid training is fine for run-of-the-mill injuries in many circumstances, particularly their CPR training. But if you're going off to war, or taking extended treks into the wilderness, or any other activity that increases the level of risk and damage potential, then you'd darn well better get medical training that is appropriate to the situation. Those who fail to do so are called victims. Those who do so are usually called survivors.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/25/03 22:34:10 EST

First Aid. They laughed when I got out my Stayfree Pads, but they stopped when the compress worked. Yes, the pads are a part of my first aid kit.

The Heimlich Maneuver was something we never heard of in my childhood. At my request, a knowledgable student showed it to me a few years back.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/25/03 22:49:10 EST


Good points. I will add, in support of the Red Cross tourniquet training, that in nearly fifty years of extended medical and first aid training, I have applied a tourniquet ONE time. And it was not a normal wound type tourniquest.

It was a truamatic amputation.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/25/03 22:52:38 EST

Hi any one interested in a trip hammer (50#)? a friend of mine has one for sale and I was wondering if any one was interested. he has two of them and needs to get rid of one.
price is probably around 1000-1500. it is located in North Dakota. shipping is possable. David
   Coldiron - Tuesday, 11/25/03 23:13:16 EST

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