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

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

This is an archive of posts from November 26 - 30, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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Burns - I've grown to like a product we have in the UK called Burn-Eze. Basically, a small amount of benzocaine and a lot of propellant. Very effective at dragging the heat out of a burn in a hurry.
   Peter - Wednesday, 11/26/03 05:16:42 EST

Guru –
Try pushing your TIG right hand gloves inside out the stitching doesn’t last long but it works, there is usually a “pair” of rights in the back of my car , it saves on wash-up when at the scrap yard or skip diving (where there is no wash-up !) I don’t get to forge often enough to keep any callus on my hands (I work in a civil engineering design office) and a TIG glove (or heavier) with the fingers cut back to leave one knuckle almost covered saves the irritation of blisters. It also helps keep the skin on your hands when working on a car.
   Nigel - Wednesday, 11/26/03 05:53:03 EST

to clear up an ambiguity

The cut back glove is on my hammer hand, finger tip control with hand padding
   Nigel - Wednesday, 11/26/03 05:57:07 EST

where can i find pictures of rakes tongs and proper forges? i am rubbish at this sort of stuff. please help
   raul - Wednesday, 11/26/03 06:04:46 EST


Go to your local library and check out blacksmithing books by Alexander weygers, Alex Bealer, Jack Andrews, M.T. Richardson, among others. CHeck the NEWS section of Anvilfire on the pul-down menu at the top right. Many pictures there. The iForge demo section has demonstrations on making most of the tools you would need, including those you asked about. Again, on the pull-down menu at the top right of your screen.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/26/03 07:53:01 EST


I've done a couple of tourniquets, both in traumatic amputation or extreme GSW trauma situations. In the amputation situation, the limb was forfeit anyway, and the in the gunshot, the limb was saved just fine. The victim still lost nearly half his blood before I arrived. I figured he had at most a minute left, so the tourniquet was the only option. Common sense MUST be the governing factor, based on extensive training. You got yours from Uncle, I got mine in Mountaineering Medicine training. Both work. Ignorance is what usually kills.

I heartily second what Frank said about learning the Heimlich maneuver. This is another area where I diverge a bit from the Red Cross. In drowning cases, they recommend starting rususcitation immediately, and I advocate doing the Heimlich FIRST, the doing the resuscitation. It only takes two seconds to do the Heimlich, and it may very well expell any water that is in the victim's airway, allowing the resuscitation to be effective. If the airway is full of water, breathing the poor person is only going to force that water deeper into the lung tissue, causing further damage and diminishing the value of the resuscitation. Since the Heimlich can't hurt, and may well do some real good, I believe it should be done first. Again, this just seems to be common sense to me.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/26/03 08:01:08 EST

Jock, Paw Paw: If you don't mind, I would like to take a print-out of iForge # 66 to Amanda tonight. So far she has had only minor nicks, scatches & burns and I would like to keep it that way. I'm sure there are more flattering photos of PPW but these illustrate my admonition to work safely...
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 11/26/03 08:02:44 EST

First Aid- There is a product available that is used to stop severe bleeding. It is called Quikclot. It is a powder, comes in a small package and is poured into the wound to stop bleeding. It was developed by the military and is now available to the public. I know it is available from Galls, Inc..
   Brian C - Wednesday, 11/26/03 09:01:11 EST

Atli- your not alone. Mine is doing the same thing.
   Brian C - Wednesday, 11/26/03 09:02:34 EST

Modern Marvels, the History Channel, tonight at 7:00 is a show called The Future of Metals.
   Brian C - Wednesday, 11/26/03 09:04:33 EST

I suspect that Raul's endless exclamation points have zooed

the syatem. Not only is he rubbish at research, he's

rubbish at posting, and we ARE NOT AMUSED!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/26/03 09:27:14 EST


Take the printout to Amanda, and tell her I said she looks better without scars. (Yes, I'm a male chauvinist pig. What's your point? grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 09:33:57 EST

Page Errors: Fixed. . . Sorry, I was sleeping in after working until 3am. last 'night'.

Long unbroken lines break this (and most) pages. The reason is that we use a floating width set at 100%. This means that our page wraps at 640 wide or extends to full width on a high res monitor if you run full screen.

The most common problem is long URL's like from ebay and other dynamic systems. Most of these are not worth posting because in a week the item is gone and we end up with a broken link. Most of you post ebay item numbers and that is the best way to do that. On other long URL's please look at them before posting. If they have a question mark in them and a lot of numbers they are from a dynamic system and will probably not work in a few days. . .

For those that don't read the quidelines or cannot compose a reasonable question I'm starting to lose my patience (after 6 years). I am about ready for a LONG vacation. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/26/03 10:36:20 EST

Thanx, Paw Paw; she is a cute little thing - anyone would be proud to have her as a grandaughter..& yes, I'm of the MCP persuasion as are most of y'all, I suspect - read (southern gentlemen) I bet you still hold doors for ladies even if she is a damn good blacksmith. Also taking Jerry's advice and tkg the didgital camera and preserve her progress on disk...
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 11/26/03 10:53:39 EST


Yep. and my wife and daughters say they woulen't have me any other way.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 11:02:31 EST

Speaking of Heimlich:
I have had to use this twice. And on both times it was the same person I used it on. And I am certain that the person in question would not have been able to graduate from USMC basic last week if I had not known how to use this. Yes I had to use it twice on my son.... Hmmmmmm, perhaps that explains why he became a Jarhead....(grin)
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/26/03 11:08:24 EST

Bleeding: When I lived in Israel, we were taught to use hydrogen peroxide as an emergency coagulant. Cheap and effective. It's the oxygen that triggers the coagulant in the blood.

Hasluck's Metal Working: Just got this from Gingery books on the recommendation of someone in this forum (think it was Thomas P but cant find the post ). Anyway, for $34 it's a great buy, several chapters on smithing which are packed with info much of which I had never seen. chapters on filing , foundry work , sheet metal work, how to build a foot powered bellows .... hundreds of beautiful drawings. I keep mine by the throne. For the next year or so my family can expect long waits for the "facilities"

HF has their benchtop bender on sale for $49 (item # 44094-5cub). Any opinions on this item? I know its not a first rate tool, but for the money it might be useful?
   adam - Wednesday, 11/26/03 11:27:39 EST

Is there a standard dimension to a fire brick? Are they the same as a "regular" brick? I bought a NC forge, and want to build a stand for it allowing for a front porch of fire bricks. Thank you.
   - Michael Reinhart - Wednesday, 11/26/03 11:34:39 EST

i use kevlar gloves, and have for awhile. they are light weight and tolerate up to 800F, from what i have read and experienced. they will not stick to skin and will not burn. they are popular with the TIG guys. i still like the heavy leather gloves when working with a wire wheel or abrasive stuff; i figure if a wheel or belt is going to remove skin, i would rather it be bovine vs human.
   rugg - Wednesday, 11/26/03 12:38:48 EST

Adam, I have the 8" HF grinder (I put mine on their$20 cast iron pedestal), and it is a decent tool for the money ($49). I've also good luck with one of their 4 1/2 " angle grinders, not as good as Milwaukee or Craftstman, but it is nice to have a couple of extra tools so you don't have to change wheels and blades so often......both of these items have over one year of use on them with no problems.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 11/26/03 13:09:57 EST

why can the use of a tourniquet lead to complications or contribute to injury?

when is a tourniquet preferred vs direct compression?

what would happen if there was no good samaritan law?

   rugg - Wednesday, 11/26/03 13:10:29 EST

DanD: thanks for the lead on grader blade. Never heard of DH-2 either but its a start.

Ellen. Thanks for the feedback on HF, I have bought their stuff before. IMO, if you are careful and prepared to work on what you buy, you can end up with a good deal. I am pretty happy with the throatless shear I bought from them - although it took a few evenings to get it working. I guess I will go ahead with the bender. For $50 how wrong can I go?
   adam - Wednesday, 11/26/03 13:19:09 EST

Wow! I didn't think a question about gloves would get this much. thanks a lot.

By the way, i am building a small vice in the mean time and would like to know what shape to make the ends of the the threads to get the maximum strength for a removeable crank.
   - John D - Wednesday, 11/26/03 13:19:53 EST

why can the use of a tourniquet lead to complications or contribute to injury? A tourniquet cuts off the blood supply to everything outboard of it. The human body reacts badly to not having a blood supply. So Say you have a nasty bleeding wound on your arm---but one where direct compression of the affected blood supply would be sufficient---and someone puts on a tourniquet and so your arm dies and has to be removed instead of a bunch of stiches and an impressive scar---would you complain?

when is a tourniquet preferred vs direct compression? In situations where direct compression isn't working---if it's a choice of built in tongs or your life which would you prefer?

what would happen if there was no good samaritan law? Folks would be hesitant to help others as their "good intentions" would leave them wide open for multimillion dollar lawsuits.

Thomas---my take on things not to be construed as medical advice as I'm dumb enough to play with hot metal for *fun*!
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/26/03 13:30:28 EST

ADAM; I have that bender, and I think it's a pretty good piece of equipment for the money. Of course, anyone buying one and thinking he has a Hossfeld is going to be disappointed. As long as it's used within its limits, it's most serviceable. BTW, as long as you're getting it for the sale price, spend another $20 and get the scroll accessory. If you have a retail store near you, print the $49 internet ad, and they'll give you that price.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 11/26/03 14:08:53 EST

ADAM; 11035 Menaul Blvd. ABQ. But then, you probably Knew that.(BOG)
   3dogs - Wednesday, 11/26/03 14:18:35 EST


Thomas P. covered your questions very well.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 14:31:03 EST

Paw Paw,

Your in the same boat I am. I don't have a current EMT certification anymore, but I have'nt forgotten how to do the job.
   Brian C - Wednesday, 11/26/03 15:24:42 EST

JPPW, i aggree, he did cover them well. i just want to stimulate some thought, and i may sprinkle in some of my own $0.02.

tourniquets are commonly used in extremity surgery, where it is necessary to have a "bloodless" field. tourniquet times are generally limited to 45", but longer times are not uncommon. if you accept the fact that tourniquet times limited to 45" do not lead to undesirable outcomes (which is true if other factors are not active), then i think that bad outcomes following the use of a tourniquet either were applied for an excessive amount of time, or other injuries contributed. if a vascular structure is injured as a result of trauma, it is common to suffer nerve injury as well, as nerves travel with blood vessles (neurovascular bundle). distal extremities (from knee to foot, elbow to hand) are at particular risk following trauma because a single artery supplies those structures. with injuries to these arteries, there is a double wammy; blood loss and inadequate perfusion distal to the injury. without surgical intervention soon, limb loss will happen at the minimum. in "the field", frank's maxi-pad with firm, continuous pressure in the wound until the victim can be transported to a hospital makes the most sense to me.

a common surgical dressing is termed "ABD". it looks like a maxi-pad for a horse. this is an acronym for something. i know JPPW knows the answer...
   rugg - Wednesday, 11/26/03 16:06:39 EST


Some thing's you never forget. Jock mentions treatment changes, and he is right to do so. Snake bite had changed, so has burn treatment, and the new coagulators are just that, new. I don't have any of them in my kit, but will shortly, I've got an LPN daughter who covets my kit. I've told her she can have it when I'm finished with it. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 16:12:23 EST


No, you've got me, I can't remember what ABD means. I should, but have got a baby migraine today that is trying to grow up.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 16:14:17 EST

Rugg thanks for the tip - I will get the scroll attachment. I did NOT know HF had an outlet in abq. I dont get there often.
   adam - Wednesday, 11/26/03 17:13:48 EST

ooops! sorry bout that - meant to thank 3dogs ! woof woof woof! You seem to get to abq more often than I do. We are very provincial here in the mountains of NM.
   adam - Wednesday, 11/26/03 17:16:37 EST

JPPW, army battle dressing. you have some schedule IIs in your bag??
   rugg - Wednesday, 11/26/03 17:17:56 EST

Thomas and Mike B - Propane and regulator:
Upon reflection, the regulator I'm using *IS* actually from a turkey fryer... I didn't know it was different from a grill.

It's working great, although I'll need to get the longer hose soon. I've cobbled together an ugly [but FREE] version of the sheet metal forge idea Eric Thing has in his Raising a Nasal article. It's working nicely, although I need to put the frame together soon so I can work at normal hieght. The burner also unscrews and fits into a heavy pipe housing so I can heat longer, non sheet, stock.

Time to tune the burner...

Mike M

   Mike M - Wednesday, 11/26/03 17:57:14 EST


ABD - Duh!

   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 18:02:15 EST

What is the best way to forge consistant points on 1/2" square stock? The desired angle is approx. 60 degrees on all four sides, about 1/2" to 5/8" long.
   Allen Kinard - Wednesday, 11/26/03 18:06:37 EST

Greetings, all. I am at my Texas Home for a few days and would be pleased to address any metallurgical questions that I may have not seen over the last month. On the other hand, I may still miss them as I plan to forge 'til I drop for the next few days!
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/26/03 18:25:29 EST


Practice, practice, practice!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 18:37:55 EST

Thanks for that advise, since we have 1300 +/- I think by the time we are finished we will have it down.
   Allen Kinard - Wednesday, 11/26/03 18:49:08 EST

allen, i would have to try it and do some math, but i think it is not possible with the specifics that you provided. the length of the taper would be much longer than 5/8".
   rugg - Wednesday, 11/26/03 18:56:31 EST

Allen, I wasn't trying to give you a bad time, or a smart answer, that was just the best answer I could think of. (wry grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 19:08:43 EST

Allen Kinard, Overcompensate the angle of your blows. Lift really high with your holding hand, above 45º. Hammer back toward your upper thigh. You're shooting for something pretty blunt. Continue, turning it occasionally to get the angle uniform from both sides. When you get your point, if the length is too short, you can now get the proper length by changing the angle of your blows slightly. Many beginners use lazy 10º blows and forget to lift their holding hand high enough. If the point splits, work hotter, or hot file it, or forge weld it away.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/26/03 19:31:55 EST

Allan, a simple taper such as you are wanting is fairly simple and should be able to do in one heat. I am sure that if you had pwr hamr or a TH you could make a die, but I am thinking that for your application by hand is fast enough and the repeatablity should not be a problem....
Had to point about 200 holders and they all were about the same ( just measured by eye)
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/26/03 19:37:16 EST

To all here in teh USA, Happy Thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to be thnkful for. Both the kids will be home.

   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/26/03 19:38:26 EST

I will try these suggestions and see how I do. Thanks and Paw Paw I did not intend to come across sarcastic, I had neglected to give a quantity.

Everyone have a great Thanksgiving, and remember to be thankful for the everyday things we take for granted.
   Allen Kinard - Wednesday, 11/26/03 19:50:34 EST

Paw Paw and others,
Having just been recertified First Aid CPR/Bloodbourne pathogens/AED instructor by the local Red Cross, I must say that MUCH has changed in the time since I was first certified in 1974. The most recent changes mostly involve CPR. The number of breaths/compressions cycle has changed and been simplified. For new trainees the variations of CPR has been reduced. The reason that I am not telling you the exact changes is that if you have not been recert'ed, And you only sorta remember the variations, you need the class.
If you are outa date, get the class, save a life! If you never have had the class, take the class, save a life! The boy Scouts are a great thing, but if the only first aid training you have had was from the Scouts, You need the class! If you got you training in the military, and you wore starched cotton fatiques at the time, you need the class(and boy are you old!)grin.(Paw Paw jungle fatiques count, and yes we are both old)
On the Heimlich, I have four children, and have used it to save all of them at least once, and my oldest son several times, most recently when he was 15! Hard candy, he was getting blue when I finally got it to clear! Very scarry. But NOT very sad. Get the class, save a life.
On tournequits, the army taught me to first apply direct pressure, if still bleeding, apply direct pressure and elevate the wound, if still bleeding use a pressure point, and if still bleeding, then and only then use the tourniquit, The idea was that the person was going to die, so if he had to loose a limb to survive, so be it. The Red Cross does'nt talk about the use of touriniquits except to say don't. As noted if it is life or death, I'll use one. But that means arterial(spurting) bleeding.
I'd like to finish up with, Take the class, save a life!
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/26/03 19:51:22 EST

Allen, You didn't come across as sarcastic, I just felt the need to be sure you didn't mis-understand my answer.


Almost TOO old at times.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/26/03 20:22:45 EST

Happy Thanksgiving to all here, we have much to be thankful for.

I second the notion of maxi-pads in a first aid kit, and I personally add a roll of duct tape to mine. Don't forget a "space blanket" for shock or exposure.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 11/26/03 23:07:27 EST

A Thanksgiving story...

On the way to my mom's this evening I stopped, on a whim, at an roadside antique store in "middle of nowhere coastal N.C." to browse around. Three hours and $107.00 later I'm in my mom's garage with WD-40 and scotchbrite pads cleaning up a 140something lb...1 . 1 . 5(?) Peter Wright anvil in darn near perfect condition. Gotta love impulse buys (take that, EBay!) The guy had another one too, same condition but a bit smaller, either one for 100 bucks. Anyway...are there any particular characteristics or markings to determine the approx. age of Peter Wright anvils? Thanks, Chris
   Chris - Wednesday, 11/26/03 23:41:09 EST

Living smack dab in the "middle of nowhere coastal N.C.", I'd love to know more specifically where that other anvil is. Anvil envy is after all, a blacksmith's fatal flaw. ;-)

Dang! I'm drooling now!
   eander4 - Thursday, 11/27/03 00:36:19 EST

I am thinking of building a treadle hammer like the one shown on the Old Sturbridge village site. http://www.beautifuliron.com/old.htm. The design seems simple enough. My question is this: why are (in this case, wood) springs used to return the hammer to the up position? I would think that a counterbalanced arm like a kids see/saw could be used as a return if a slightly heavier back weight was used . I believe that the counter weight would add momentum to the hammer on the down stroke where the spring would resist the down stroke. My hesitation is that I have not seen this simple device. Is there something that I am missing? wear on the bearings, slow return, ??? Any other input would be welcome.
   habu - Thursday, 11/27/03 00:48:49 EST

ADAM; Go to the HF website and type in 31980-9VGA on the part number bar. That'll get you the floor mounted model of the bender. Scroll down on that page until you see a little green bar that says "download product manual". That will let you get Amigo, if you don't already have it, and print the whole durn instruction manual and idea book, so you'll know what you're in for. Also, that gives you a shop copy, so you can file the original that will come with the bender.Enjoy, 3dogs. (Maybe we can hook up in the spring, and go down and terrorize Frank T.)
   3dogs - Thursday, 11/27/03 02:08:39 EST

Adam; BTW, the scroll tool is 36621-2VGA. You can get the manual for that, too.
   3dogs - Thursday, 11/27/03 02:15:28 EST

A last point..sorry...do the forging right up on the edge of the far side of the anvil so that if your hammer comes in a little low, you won't ding up your anvil.
Burns: I've converted over to using pine tar( from farm supply) after the ice on burns. Stops hurting in 15 min. and heals much faster than expected.
Habu; the time between blows turns out to be an important consideration. A counterweighted TH also means a much heavier helve .
3 Dogs: Why do I think Frank T would be a hard man to terrorize?
   Pete F - Thursday, 11/27/03 04:23:57 EST


Cold water, rather than ice (ice stops circulaton too much) is recommended for immediate application to a burn. Keep it under cold water, preferrably running water, for fifteen minutes. Then, the tissue damage has been arrested and what is left to be concerned about is infection. If the burn is bad enough that it has blistered and will break, or if the epidermal layer is already gone, the risk of infection is very great. The best medication for prevention of infecton in burn cases is silver sulfadiazine, sold under the tradename Sulfadene. It is a scrip-only med, so get some from your friendly doctor. He'll be ony too happy to give you a small jar, probably for free. Nothing else even comes close to it in preventing infection in burns. If for some reason you can't get it, then use a triple-antibiotic ointment cream such as Neosporin. Infected burns can very quickly become cellulitis or worse, resulting in loss of tissue, sepsis, and even death in some cases. Why take chances?

Those little bits of hot scale that manage to get undr your safety glasses and right in your eye? Keep a squirt bottle of sterile saline solution in the forge area and use it immediately. It will flush out the scale, stop the burning, and since it is isotonic, it won't make the eye sting and water so much. Available at drugstores and safety supplies. An eyecup is a good, cheap investment, too. A shot glass works fine. (grin)

Perhaps I shold note here that the "medical" advice I'm so freely tossing around is not necessarily sanctioned by the AMA, the Red Cross or Homeland Security. It is the accumulated knowledge of fifty-plus years of injuries, and thirty-plus years of active nursing experience on my wife's part.

Battle field or wilderness medicine is far different from urban modern medicine, but each has it's place. Just as maxi-pads make great compression bandages, even though they aren't "certified sterile." So what? Infection is much easier to cure than exsanguination. Fancy micropore sterile paper tape is terrific stuff in hospital use, but duct tape holds better in the field. You're gonna lose some hair, no matter what. (grin)

If you're gonna play far from medical attention, learn to do sutures and keep some on hand. Sure, your work won't equal that of a real surgeon, but you WILL get the wound closed to keep nastiness out. Later, a real doctor can make it pretty if you really want.

My wilderness first aid kit was similar to PawPaw's drop kit. What was necessary to preserve life and limb when it was up to no one but me. Sutures, scalpels, 'stats, retractors, clamps, antibiotics, antipyrrhetics, anaphlaxis treatment drugs, several class II injectables, silver nitrate for cautery, fluorescene strips, steri-strips, tincture of benzoin, Opsite dressings, manometer & 'scope, oto-laryngeal scope, tweezers, dressings, tape, a little gizmo for removing fish hooks from human flesh, flashlight, small scissors. All in a pretty compact little Pelican box. The big stuff I always figured could be done with my field knife and whatever was on hand. I didn't have room for bulky dressings, but a small roll of tubegauze could be filled with a spare sock or piece of rag and tied in place just fine. The single most important ingredient in any survival kit is gray matter. That stuff that fills your cranium. If you don't know what to do and/or don't understand the mechanics of the human body, you should stay at home, not too far from competent medical help. All self-help, whether it is medical or blacksmithing, starts with educating yourself.

Okay, I'll climb backdown offa the soapbox now, sorry.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/27/03 08:13:05 EST

Mike M---we know who you are! When can we see the new forge?

"Tuning the burner"---reminds me of when I built a billet welding coal forge for under $10 requiring no special tools (not even a welder!) and that price included the blower and speed control. It was a scrounged brake drum with a sheet metal "fence" to get a deeper fire. The blower was a 60's? handi vac, all Al case with a cord, missing the bag so it was cheap; the pipe fittings and the speed control all came from the fleamarket---including the air hose that was a ribbed radiator hose that would *SING* when you got the air flow to a certain point---you could tune it a bit by how it was looped to the tuyere...drove me crazy (ok, ok, thats a put not a drive).

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/27/03 09:09:14 EST

1300 Steep Angled Points: I would make a die (hand or power). In this case you need some waste beyond the point to keep the work from slipping back in the steep angled die.

Otherwise as Frank noted you have to work with you hammer out farther and hold the work at the correct angle.

A simple helper die to do this might be just an angled block to help hold the work at the correct angle and to "buck" the end of the bar. The die would want to have the forging surface with an edge like forging off the edge of the anvil.

A great help in forging many points is a trough forge setup like the bit pointing folks use. See the Famous 10 Minute Forge. You can heat many bars at once for a short length. However, it takes a power hammer or several smiths to keep up with the output of such a forge.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 09:54:11 EST

Counter Balanced Tilt Hammers: habu, There are two serious problems with a counter-balancing this type hammer.
1) The shock on the bearing and load on the pivot is roughly half the force of the hammer blow (depending on lever ratios). Note that is of the HAMMER blow.

2) The counter weight is more mass for you to accelerate against gravity so it actually makes the machine harder to use.

Note that wood springs are great if you are a woodworker and don't mind replacing them often. Wood springs take a "set" quickly and quit working (note the prop under the hammer). They also get stiffer the farther they are bent. Long coil springs make the most efficient treadle hammer. . . . I still want to build my counter blow springless treadle hammer. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 10:21:39 EST

On First Aid -
I highly endorse the ide of having odd but useful items in your first aid kit. While I never though of maxi pads, I've been using duct tape for years. I cannot give high enough praise to keeping suture material available. My grandfather taught me how to stitch when he badly cut his leg in his shop. I later stitched my left hand when hiking in the Smokeys. We're a family of prepared klutzs. :)

Thomas -
I'll bring the forge [hopefully complete] to the next MOB meeting for expert advice and playing around. I know its not the best wat to build it, but I had everyhting laying around. I cast quickcrete into a truck brake drum [my previous coal forge, pre-beer keg era] to make an insulated bowl. I'd tried making another as a lid, but its too heavy and I didn't make the hollow big enough. For the second attempt at a lid, I dished a 12x12" sheet of heavy steel [where'd I get that? you should see Thomas' scrap pile!] into a dome and fitted the burner through the top. MY prototype trebuchet will be dismantled to make the frame [treb built from my bro-in-law's room addition scrap pile and $1.29 in hardware, broke at kids summer camp demo to much delight].

Raining and crappy in central OH, but smells like turkey. Happy TG everyone!!

   Mike M - Thursday, 11/27/03 10:27:20 EST

3dogs - thanks for the info - I will do as you suggest. Yes , do lets get together when you are in the area. I've been meaning to stop by at Frank's and unload some of my scrap pile on him but it hasn't happened. My life has been rather disrupted lately.

BTW - if anyone has sent me email, I apologize - my email is completely screwed up.
   adam - Thursday, 11/27/03 10:54:55 EST

Brick Sizes: Michael, I have a bunch of refractory bricks but there is not a common brick here to be measured.

2-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 9" is the standard hard refractory brick
    2" x 4-1/2" x 9" are available
    2" x 4-1/2" x 9" is standard for insulating brick (I think)
1-1/4" x 4-1/2" x 9" are standard "half" bricks
2-1/2" x 6-3/4" x 9" are special anchor bricks
2-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 13-1/2" are special long bricks

I THINK common bricks are smaller to allow for a 3/8" mortar joint. Refractory bricks are used without mortar or with very thin mortar joints. Refractory bricks are commonly removed and replaced as part of the maintenance of foundry furnaces and thus the sizes are probably more standardized than common brick.

We have a 2-1/2" x 6-3/4" x 9" setup on edge in front of the door notch of our Whisper baby and it makes the perfect "hearth" without brackets.

ALL the brick sizes above were found on my large stacked brick gas forge and came from a pile in a scrap yard which got them from a closed down foundry.

Common Brick Sizes According to on-line resources:

2-1/4" x 3-3/4" x 8 is the standard Colonial American size
2-1/4" x 4-1/4" x 9 was the legal size set by Elizabeth I (1571)
2" x 4" x 8" are standard common Mexican bricks

Bricks used in modern construction vary from 2-1/8" thick to 2-1/2". "Queen" size are 2-3/4" tall.

"Common" bricks are what most buildings are built and covered with. There are also pavers, adobe, edging, round corner and MANY other brick sizes and proportions.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 10:56:09 EST

Why do long coil springs make the most efficient TH? What about using a torsion spring?

Still planning to build a TH. My latest thought is a guided ram which will give pure linear motion and eliminate the need for a jackscrew to adjust height
   adam - Thursday, 11/27/03 11:07:21 EST

Michael: I keep a pile of scrap ceramic tiles to put under my firebricks and shim the porch to the right height
   adam - Thursday, 11/27/03 11:08:52 EST

First Aid Kits: I recently bought a couple "standard" size ammo boxes from the flea market. The plan is to paint them a bright white with a red cross and fill with our first aid supplies (nothing like Paw-Paw's collection).

There will be three, one for the shop for every day use. You need one with band aids, burn creame, tweezers, asprin and such that you expect to use on a regular basis. The second one for the shop is the "emergency use only" box. This is one to keep OUT of unless there is a real emergency.
The third is like the second except it goes in the car.

Auto/Truck kits need a second supplies kit for things you take for granted at home. Water, blanket (compact space blanket), food stuffs like a few granola or energy bars. .

Something to think about.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 11:35:52 EST

Hello I have one quick question as I am new to this whole business of blacksmithing and have taken it up as a hobby. I just set up a small indoor forge in a shed that I recently built. I have a problem with draw getting the smoke to go up the chimny. It wants to come in and out the door or window what am I doing wrong the pipe for the chimny is 6 inch ID is that too small? Please help.
   Dale (warlock) - Thursday, 11/27/03 12:34:47 EST

Springs: Adam, coil springs have a constant rate of force and can be made in many charteristics. You can have a coil spring that balances a load but from that point on takes very little force to move it long distances.

Consider automobile springs. They support hundreds of pounds yet you can apply a gentle force to move them. Same goes for a treadle hammer.

Leaf and torsion springs have a limited travel where the force is constant. Then the force increases just before the spring fails by yeilding or breaking.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 12:34:47 EST

Forge vent Dale, many things can go wrong with forge venting. First you have too small a pipe for a normal size forge. 8" is a minimum, 10" is recommended and 12" is best.

The area of common stove and vent pipe:

6" dia. = 28 sqin.
8" dia. = 50 sqin.
10" dia. = 79 sqin.
12" dia. = 113 sqin.

Note that the difference between 6 and 8 is almost double and between 8 and 10 is like adding a 6" pipe. . .

The second problem area is input area. Large funnel shaped hoods look good but are not worth the metal to make them. The hood tries to suck up all the air at is opening including all that cold fresh air. This overloads the stack and reduces the stack temperature and the amount of draw. So you want a small opening.

Then there is the ratio of the stack height, buildings and obstructions that cause down drafts, poorly designed flue caps, insufficient air supply (you have to replace the air going up the stack).

See the drawings of side draft hoods on our plans page. These have a 10" stack and an intake that is only a little larger. The result is a high velocity suction right next to the forge fire. Very efficient and the most smokless system you can use without a huge exhust fan.

When you see photos of old railroad and industrial shops with hoods over the forges most of these had huge exhust fans attached to the stack. They did not rely on natural draft. Free standing fire places limit the intake area by the distance of the hood above the fire AND use very large stacks (14" minimum). A fire place fire LOOKS large compared to a forge fire but they are not blown. All that air blown into a forge fire expands and carries smoke that must be exhusted. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 12:53:23 EST

"Counter-blow springless hammer" I LIKE it!

FYI: Counterblow hammers are often (usually) made with the anvil (or bottom hammer depending on how you look at it) four or five times the weight of the top hammer. Conversly it moves at 1/4 or 1/5 the speed of the top hammer. One advantage I see to that is it makes it easier to hold the work in the right place. I don' see why it couldn't be even 10 to 1. You just gotta build the linkage with the right ratio. COOL!
   - GRANT - Thursday, 11/27/03 14:01:51 EST

What is the highest tempature a bituminus (sp?) coal fire can reach?
   Lsundstrom - Thursday, 11/27/03 14:24:23 EST

Counter Blow Treadle Hammer:

I've made sketches and was figuring on about 1/4" motion of the anvil UP for about 14" hammer travel down. The trick is getting good heavy anvil pivots and short linkage. I think the ratio ended up being 30:1 (or more). Some of the extra is due to losses in leverage and the shortness of the anvil movement. The link raising the hammer needs to be a short distance behind the hammer so the ratio is not that of the anvil to hammer. The pivot length at the anvil is difficult to make very short and is limited by the size of the trunions.

The linkage was only a little more complicated than some treadles and less complicated than some of the straight line motion designs.

The point was to avoid springs which many makers point out are dangerous and put safety cable in them for when they break or come loose. . .

Mechanicaly it looked doable and not too difficult to build. But the couple folks I wrote to about the anvil motion did not like it. I figured that with everything else in motion the little rise in the anvil would hardly be noticable and easy to adapt to. But I am not a treadle hammer expert.

Another one of those back shelf ideas. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 14:28:36 EST

Coal Fires: About 3200°F Max. More than enough to melt steel AND to ignite it.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 14:32:23 EST


Thank you ALL for the friendship and support.

I'm off to enjoy the afternoon with family.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/03 14:35:03 EST

My question is this: Do you know of any decent schools in the southeastern US (namely, Alabama) that have programs in smith work? I have been searching for hours, without success. If you know of any, what is the usual cost of the program?
   Matt Logan - Thursday, 11/27/03 19:34:08 EST

Matt Logan,

The closest school I know of to Atlanta is the John C. Campbell Folk School. Their URL is:


They'll send you a catalog if you ask for it.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 11/27/03 21:33:16 EST

Eye magnet. Someone gave me an eye magnet a few years ago. It is shaped kind of like an elongated bullet. I haven't had occasion to use it yet, but it is waiting in my first aid kit. You're supposed to use it carefully to remove a small, ferrous fragment from the eye without actually touching the eye with the magnet.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/28/03 00:05:19 EST

Frank, I've got a little magnet on the end of my scribe for that purpose.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/28/03 00:35:03 EST

PawPaw; Mind you don't use the wrong end of that scriber.(BOG) Hope your Thanksgiving was a good'n. 3dogs
   3dogs - Friday, 11/28/03 01:57:33 EST

Tres Chiens,

Never happen, GI! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/28/03 03:36:32 EST

30 TO 1? Don't you think the linkage ratio needs to be about the same as the weight ratio? Well inversly actually. Regardless of the linkage in between it's really just a balance beam problem, right? I suppose some variable force (toggle?) linkage might be used. Counter-blow hammers make much better use of availible energy besides eliminating the springs. I'd like to hear more.
   - GRANT - Friday, 11/28/03 12:07:08 EST

US set to pass law legalizing SPAM

Congress is asleep at the switch and in the pocket of the $Spammers$. Europe has banned spam and now WE (the US) are hated by European Internet users as the biggest source of SPAM. . This will make it worse.

Want to see just HOW insidious the SPAM network is?

Spamdemic Full Size Map
   - guru - Friday, 11/28/03 12:14:38 EST

Hi: I am new to this forum, My name is Roger. I am trying to bend 2"x 2"x0.090 square steel tubing, I need to make a scroll " S " shape, the scrolls are 4' long by 1'6" wide. This will be the top of an entrance gate. I already call some metal forming companies and they were not able to help me. I tried to heat the tube and it crumbled up. I do have a picture that I could e-mail if you want. Please help.
   RFG - Friday, 11/28/03 13:31:26 EST

has anyone been able to succesfully fold titanium to create a blade of the oriental type

if so do you have a link
   - sandoz - Friday, 11/28/03 13:33:02 EST

I am in the process of wanting to buy a metal belt sander to help me in my shop where I make small (6" to 6') metal sculptures. I have looked at Grissley, Jet and other manufactures and am curious what other metal artists are buying. Are the moddels with faster belt speeds the best t buy? I am looking at a price range of $400.

Appreciate any input,
Ray Estes
   Raymond Estes - Friday, 11/28/03 13:54:20 EST


.090 wall? 2" X 2"? I think you're in BIG trouble! Your wall to thickness ratio is so far out there I'd have trouble making a nice large sweeping bend, let alone something like an "S" scroll. Rarely do I use the word, but I'd say it's IMPOSSIBLE! Yes, even filled with sand has it's limits. The force required to bend 2 X 2 is far more than the .090 wall can stand. Time to look at plan "B".
   - GRANT - Friday, 11/28/03 13:58:39 EST

Oops! I meant wall thickness to depth ratio.

Poof, then prost, Poof, then prost, Poof, then prost, .........
   - GRANT - Friday, 11/28/03 14:02:25 EST

Thanks for the advice on buying a welder, it should save me some blundering.
   - bonis - Friday, 11/28/03 14:03:02 EST

so what wuold be my best bet?. Should I change to 2" x 1" maybe? wall thickness?
   RFG - Friday, 11/28/03 14:13:21 EST

Plan-B Scrolls: RFG, I concur with Grant that what you are asking is probably impossible. It would help if you would define the tightest radius. A "scroll" usually indicates a constantly changing curve. It sounds like you are making an S-curve with two 6" radii.

Your best and least expensive route to go is with solid bar. If it must be 2" wide to look right and you do not want the weight of square then consider flat bar. Solid can be bent this tight cold with a heavy enough bender but most of us would do this hot. 3/4" x 2 or 1" x 2" would be good.

If you absolutely MUST have hollow 2" with that tight a curve then you are going to have to build it plate and weld it all together.
   - guru - Friday, 11/28/03 14:14:51 EST

Titanium: Sandoz,

1) Titanium is NOT a blade metal (do not believe the stupid razor blade advertisment - it is Hollywood fantasy and in gross error). It is used as a surface treatment for lubricity over HSS and does nothing to make the steel better.

2) To forge weld titanium it would require a vacuum furnace and welding environment.
   - guru - Friday, 11/28/03 14:23:40 EST

Sandoz, See www.tferryknives.com
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/28/03 14:32:33 EST

Sandoz; over at the swordforum there is a nice article on using Ti for swords---I highly suggest you read it!

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/28/03 14:35:29 EST

Well. . I was wrong: You can forge weld Ti (with precautions). But it is still not an edge material. Same arguments apply as that of my suggestions of making aluminium and stainless wallhangers. Except that some folks think the word "titanium" is sexy. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/28/03 15:02:51 EST

Does any one know the best way to forge old files? and also the proceedure for hardening and tempering?
   - Carl - Friday, 11/28/03 15:12:31 EST

Now wait just a gall durn minute here! Seems a lot of bandwidth was already spent expounding on swords not needing a sharp edge 'cause you're not really going to be using then anyway. So why worry if it won't hold an edge? Man, just think: you could wield a great big 'ol four-foot broad sword! And as Guru said: SEXY!
   - GRANT - Friday, 11/28/03 15:16:54 EST

Files: Carl, Depending on what you are making it is recommended to grind off the teeth first. Forging should be done below a yellow orange. See our heat treating FAQ for heat treating.
   - guru - Friday, 11/28/03 16:15:09 EST

The problem with Titanium is that it is a nitrogen scavanger. Get it hot in air (which is about 70% nitrogen) and it will form titanium nitride. TiN, used to coat cutting tools, is stable well past the melting point of steel. If you get it hot enough to forge it, you run the risk of TiN formation, which is quite brittle. A sword full of TiN would like suffer "Death By A Thousand Cracks. I agree that Hollywood and Madison Avenue are always trying to find a material that represents the highest value : Gold Cards, Platinum Cards, now Titanium Cards. Hooey. I want a Plutonium Card!
   quenchcrack - Friday, 11/28/03 16:55:21 EST


Make mine unobtainium.

High melting point scale? Sounds like a job for flux-man! Need to protect the surface from reactive atmosphere? Flux-man to the rescue! I don't know, many of us have had pretty good sucess forging titanium.
   - grant - Friday, 11/28/03 17:09:26 EST

I have acquired 3 post/leg vises (vices, visii?). They are all in repairable condition or better but the springs are a bit tired on some of them. Is it possible to re-temper the springs or could someone advise on how to make replacement springs i.e. what metal should I use and how should it be treated?
   Bob G - Friday, 11/28/03 19:33:14 EST

Students are looking for a web site of sword or blade actual forging construction technigues and procedures and diagrams for a middle ages school project.
   Jeff Hastings - Friday, 11/28/03 19:48:26 EST


I make springs out of mild steel quenched in regular water. They seem to hold up fine.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 11/28/03 19:50:02 EST

Jeff; when and where in the middle ages? The metalurgy changes along with the fuel used in the forge etc...

So a pattern welded early medieval sword forged with charcoal is a bit different than a steel sword forged in coal/coke in the late medieval period

And then there are the wootz and crucible steel swords of the east/mideast/central Asia...

*Most* sites discuss how swords are made today and some will erroneously project modern material and techniques back onto the middle ages.

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/28/03 20:13:49 EST

Grant, I did not say it could not be done. I said only that Ti has great affinity for nitrogen and it does. If the forging is done poorly, you get nitrides that cannot be seen without a microscope. Get enough nitrides and cracks will propagate through them like connecting the dots. If the surface of the forging is ground away or machined, most of the nitrides would be removed. If you made an ornamental piece that would see no stress, the nitrides may still be there but represent no hazard. You don't make military forgings, do you?
   quenchcrack - Friday, 11/28/03 22:02:31 EST

Bob G and springs... It could be that your springs are fatigued and worn out on your vices, but it is just as likely they are not set properly. When I a postvice is removed the yoke slips and the sping gets out of position(,and is often lost) So before you worry about making new springs, are you sure that the spring is proper mounted in the yoke? If the end of the spring has slid up in the yoke that holds the vice to the post it will not keep the jaws open very well at all. The yoke should be near the top of the leg right under the screw. But more importantly the base of the spring should be as close to the pivot as you can get it. This give the spring the leverage it needs to move the jaw out properly. And the wedges that hold the yoke to the leg need to be fairly tight. Otherwise you will always be having to open the jaws of the vice all the way, loosen the wedge and tap the spring back down where it belongs... A freestanding vice with the yoke slipping down is not going to work very well, but that same vice bolted to a heavy beam sunk in the ground, and properly set up will work like a champ (still most old postvices can be expected to open the jaws atleast 3"-4" with the aid of the spring, if they are set up right and the spring is well designed and well tempered:-) My spring seems to want to work up out of the yoke, as I have the postvice set up right now, need to take the time to forge a new larger wedge to get the yoke tighter:-) I have a 5" 90# model, as well as a 4" 60# model. Good luck
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 11/28/03 22:14:18 EST

Ti and the nitrogen sponge:-) My best freind and I forged a beatiful spear point out of some alloy of Ti that we found, took cubicboron abrassives to cut it, made a great spear. Ofcourse we stuck it into a stump and the thing snapped in half:-) We took the alloy number to another freind of ours that was a metalurgist at Purdue and she informed us that the particular alloy we were trying to forge, need a controled atmosphere because it would soak up oxygen some, but Nitrogen like a sponge, and embrittle:-) She also mentioned that it was likely to be releasing titanianium tertaoxide??? Which she told us was a culumlitive posion, but that was a long time ago, and I am not dead yet(so far:-) but I don't play with Ti much at all... We reground the spear point into a short lancepoint and left it alone and didn't play with it any more:-) Not a doctor, or a metalurgist, not even a person with a really reliable memory:-) But thats the story as I remember it:-)
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 11/28/03 22:25:11 EST


Re: Military forgings? Lord no! I only make airplane parts.
   - grant - Friday, 11/28/03 22:35:48 EST

Jeff Hastings:

Take a look at my sword article inthe Anvilfire Armoury to get an idea of what you may be getting yourself into!

I STILL have to get the bibliography, illustrations and diagrams together for Part II; maybe by Christmas...

Rainy, windy and getting colder on the banks of the lower Potomac. Chance of snow flurries by morning!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 11/28/03 22:52:58 EST

how do you make a slurry? im getting a shipment of coal in soon and i was wondering how you turn the coal into coke.
any help would be appreciated
thank you
   colin - Saturday, 11/29/03 00:08:01 EST

On Ti.
At my previous employ, we made valves from many exotics, including Ti. The bodies and bonnets for the large ball valves were cast, and often had shrinkage defects that were found during machining. On the Ti, our welding engineer made a special hood that was applied local to the weld, to exclude the atmosphere, to prevent the embrittlement that would occur from the nitrogen in the air. I made a number of lifting eyes, to be welded onto the castings, as our tool and die makers had tried to heat bar and bend. The eyes made by heating with a torch cracked to peices. I had to use my bender in the blacksmith shop at home to cold bend. Then no problem, except that the Ti bent a little harder than an equal sized 400 SS bar. (hard to move!) Strange that metal that light was that strong.
   - Ptree - Saturday, 11/29/03 10:05:26 EST

Ti and chrome: I don't know how much this has to do with the forging of Ti. The USAF developed the first of the Stealth aircraft in the early 60s, the YF-12/SR-71, flying at 3 times the speed of sound, and at 80,000 ft they were mostly Ti. The surface temps on the leading edges reached as high as 1500F. The Air Force found that using chrome plated tools on Ti fasteners made them brittle. They then required that all tools used on these two models be certified chrome free. This began the story of the military's $500 hammers.

for a great read on these two aircraft visit www.Habu.org
   habu - Saturday, 11/29/03 10:24:16 EST

Just checked my facts. the bolt failure was due to cadmium in the tools. It was also found that spot welds cleaned with city water containing clorine would fail and they used distiled water to clean the parts. Ti requires special drilling fluids and loves to dull drills and end mills
   habu - Saturday, 11/29/03 10:49:37 EST

   habu - Saturday, 11/29/03 10:52:04 EST

Leg Vise Springs: Bob G., Whatever you do DO NOT replace or discard the OEM springs. DO NOT try to "re-temper" the OEM springs. Fionnbharr is right that the springs have probably taken a "set" This is different than fatigued (worn out). Springs that set under load in position for a long time often yeild and never return to their fully unloaded state. That is one reason that folks that store old antique autos often put them on blocks. Old springs that have taken a "set" can be re-arced and be as good as new.

The last vise I brought into the shop had a home made spring that I will have to toss. It was too short and too thin. I will probably use a piece of truck or auto leaf spring, cut and forge to shape then use in a normalized condition. These springs push at the bottom not for leverage (they have LESS leverage there) but for stroke. These are fairly stiff springs that only travel a VERY short distance. That is why A36 springs work.

On the vise I brought home before that one we just re-arced the spring. It was stiff but soft enough to put on a swage block or the step on the anvil and increase the curve a little with a few judicious blows of a hammer. Works fine now.

Early English vices had a lot more detail in their manufacture and it it their springs that I copy. These were the same width as the back vise leg and tapered to about 3/4 of the starting width and then had a flare on the bottom with thin tabs that slightly wraped around the sides of the front leg. The curve was a delicate "S" curve putting the contact points parallel to the surfaces they bear upon. The bottom push point is slightly curved so no corners dig in. The whole had a nice chamfer on the front like a well made strap hinge.

Later American made vises were much more high production and did not have the nice finishing touches as the old English vices. Springs generaly were not tapered but had a short sheared taper on the end (like truck sptings). There was no "S" to the curve and the end just pushed its corner against the leg.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/03 11:45:12 EST

Lockheed went thru much developement on the Ti skins for the Yf11/yf12. They had to invent most all the fabrication techniques for these birds. Kelly Johnson was much of the genuis behind these birds as well as the U-2, and many other Lockheed "speed birds" back into the late thirties.
At my precious employ we used D.I.(deionized)water to make the coolants for all the machine tools in the plant. This made the coolants last longer, but also eleminated the chlorides from the tap water. The chlorides could cause cracking in a lot of the alloys we used! I believe that the correct name was intergranualar stress corrision cracking. Most all the "N" (nuclear) stanped valves specified that chlorides were prohibited, and required a final rinse with D.I. water.Then bagging with a chloride free plastic bag, and desicant. Even the greases and never-seizes had to be chloride free.
These things are some of the reasons that items like the SR-71 cost so much to make and operate. Same goes for the Nuke plants.
   - Ptree - Saturday, 11/29/03 12:00:38 EST

As the guru mentioned above, he may use an auto or truck spring for the leg vise. Over the years, that is what I have done. I torch out a section, grind off all torch ash and kerf marks, and reforge it. The silicon/manganese/chromium addition to most modern leaf springs makes them operable when air cooled. I have not found it necessary to harden and temper.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/29/03 12:05:14 EST

Slurry: Colin, A slurry is a suspension of solids in a liquid (usualy water) the proportions of which alow it to be poured or pumped as a liquid. Most slurries need agitation in order for the solids to remain suspended. The size of the solid is proportional to the volume of the slurry and the available energy to agitate the mixture. Sand and heavy gravel beds with little water can become a liquid slurry during and earthquake. Mud is a slurry. Clay slip is a slurry, fresh mixed concrete is a slurry.

When an emulsifier (detergent) is added or the liquid is thickened so that the particles float without settling out then you have a suspension. Ths solids in most slurries settle out fairly quickly but it depends on the size of the solids and their specific gravity.

SO, depending on the volume you plan on mixing and the amount of energy you want to put into agitation a coal slurry can be anything from nut sized to breeze (dust). The important thing is the uniformity of the partical sizes. In the Eastern US they want to build a coal slurry pipe line to pump West Virginia and Kentucky coal down hill to the port in Norfolk in order that we can more efficiently sell our natural resources. . . A third world mentality.

So why do you want to make a slurry?

Coke is made by heating coal to drive off the volitiles, just like making charcoal. This happens naturally in a coal fire. As the coal is heated the volitiles are driven off as smoke OR at higher temperatures they burn. Then the remaining nearly pure carbon (coke) burns. Blacksmiths constantly rake coal toward the center of the fire where it cokes in a ring around the center. In the center mostly coke burns producing the hottest fire.

To make coke in bulk it is cooked in a closed retort. The gases that are expelled through the tap are used in various ways. Some is fed to the fire so the process uses less fuel. The rest is seperated by weight and some is cracked using refinery methods. "Producer gas" is the lightest portion and nearly pure methane but usualy has some sulfur compounds. This is sold for the usual purposes. Then you have everything you would find in most petroleum distalates from light solvents, to oil and tar. Making coke in bulk is largely attached to the refining and chemical industry.

In England smiths often use coal "breeze" (dust or fines) in their forges. They wet it down to a thick paste like consistancy (not a slurry) then fuel their forge with the wet coal. A good bituminous coal has enough volitiles that it becomes plastic and melts together forming larger lumps as it cokes. The coal paste is fed toward the center of the fire where it dries, melts and then becomes coke. The coke is consumed in the center of the fire where iron is heated. For accurate instructions for using coal breeze you need to speak to an English smith.

Smiths ocassionaly make excess coke by piling more coal on to the center of the fire and only providing enough air to produce enough heat for coking. A small vent is poked in the mound of coal to let the cumbustion products out. In the process of making bulk coke in the forge most of the volities smoke off as that nasty viscous yellow smoke. Very little of the volitiles are burned so the process is not only inefficient it is a high poluter.

Many chemical reactions occur in a wet coal fire. To make carbide (the stuff used in miners lamps to generate acetylene gas) steam is blown through a bed of coke and calcium carbonate (lime / sea shells). Since sea shells were used as flux in making iron it is possible that carbide was one of the unintended products of smelting iron. When steam is blown through the coal bed where sulfur is being evaporated and burned many sulfur compounds are created including sulphuric acid. That is why coal ash is so corrosive. Other sulfur compounds are created that leach out of the ash that are also very corrosive. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/03 12:27:58 EST

Regardless of whether or not I am using Tig MIG or stick I end up with rough looking welds when I'm welding upside down.Do you have any tips? Thanks Bob Baker
   Bob Baker - Saturday, 11/29/03 12:41:28 EST

First thing to go is the memory!

I know you have a wealth of knowledge about chemistry, but calcium carbide is not produced the way you describe. It is made in an electric arc furnace at a temperature of 2000+ F. In fact, the ingredients are baked to remove all moisture. The calcium carbide is actually liquid when tapped from the furnace. If it were produced as you decribe, it would immediatly break down from the steam. Maybe you're thinking of how producer gas is made? I know: picky, picky.
   - GRANT - Saturday, 11/29/03 13:05:36 EST

Intergranualar stress CHLORIDE corrision:

Coke, coal, slurries (my favorite is a milk shake), refining, Titanium swords, stealth spy planes and antique English blacksmith vise springs. . . All in one day. Just proves that blacksmithing IS the center of the universe.

Over time most of the problems blamed on esoteric things like intergranualar stress cloride corrision in places like the nuclear industry has been found to be due to other much simplier causes.

Several years ago we worked on a project to come up with replacements for broken bolts in reactor pressure vessles that held down the base plate that the core sat on. All kinds of explanitions were given for the bolts failing INCLUDING intergranualar stress cloride corrision. The replacement bolt material and machining specifications were unbelievable. 1" by 3" long bolts cost over $1,000 each. THEN there was to be a retaining system so that no future broken bolt parts could get loose in the reactor AND all this had to be installed remotely through 60 feet of water (sheilding).

Within a minute or so of looking at the original installation drawing I saw the problem. There were two rows of bolts. The subject 1" bolts and another of 1-1/2" bolts. The torque specs were on oposite sides of the drawing and the arrow lead lines crossed in each other so they were hard to follow. On first glance it looked like the specs pointed to the wrong bolts. AND since most people have difficulty reading drawings there was a very HIGH probability that the bolts were torqued to the wrong specs. The 1" were supposed to be tightened to 250 ft/lbs. The 1-1/2" to 1500 ft/lbs! Now. . . the 1" stainless bolts COULD withstand being torqued to 1500 ft/lbs. JUST barely. The bolts had been stressed to partial failure in installation. . . But they still held up for 12 years. And intrestingly the big bolts that were probably tightened to the lower torque and none came loose.

Nobody would admit this was the problem and all kinds of studies were made of the bolts (with no conclusions). But I am sure is was a simple mix up due to a poorly drawn drawing to too small a scale.

$500 Hammers: Its not the TOOL that costs so much, it is the mound of paperwork the government requires. Good reason not to bid on federal contracts.

Grant, That is the modern method but calcium carbide was first produced by the super heated steam process. I would have to dig to find the reference but I am sure of it.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/03 13:41:50 EST

"Union Carbide Company grew from work begun in 1891 by Major James Morehead and Canadian inventor Thomas Willson. Their determined but unsuccessful attempts to produce aluminum in an electric furnace led instead to two discoveries -- a way to make calcium carbide and a method to produce acetylene gas from that carbide."

From: The Discovery of Calcium Carbide And Acetelene Gas - Union Carbide Co.

I did make one mistake though. The process requires 2000 degrees CELCIUS or about 3700 degrees F. That's why the electric arc furnace is used.
   - GRANT - Saturday, 11/29/03 14:14:54 EST

Counter Blow TH: I'm looking for my drawing. When I come across it I will post it. The high ratio was for travel not balance. But it has been a while since I worked on it and it could be that everything has to be optimized so that the stoke and weight ratios come out. I know I had numbers that worked but I may have been using a high anvil to hammer ratio to get a high stroke ratio as well.

The interesting thing about this device is that the weight of all the moving parts must be considered. The arms supporting the hammer are critical as well as the treadle it self. Centers of gravities must be determined for all the parts and put into the final balance equation. THEN there is the amount of overbalance or bias that returns the hammer to the rest position (UP). This amount must be overcome to operate the TH as well as inertia. I figured this would want to be around 20 pounds or less. It is possible to have the hammer return to the up position with just a small bias but it would return very slowly. I figured that an adjustable link might be best. Then the user could have the hammer light and slow or heavy and fast.

Originaly I had the anvil in guides at the top and balanced on a yoke near the bottom. I think this would work fine as the total travel of the anvil may be only 1/4 to 3/8". However to reduce "rocking" the upper support could be on a second yoke. But this is an expensive addition to reduce an angle change of less than 1/4 degree.

At rest the anvil can set hard on the base. Shims could be used to adjust the total system travel and hammer height.

Hmmmm maybe it is sulphuric acid that is produced by blowing steam through coke. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/03 14:19:56 EST

I know you want to eliminate springs, but it seems like a large one under the anvil might be wothwhile. This might be a big advantage for repeated blows, having the anvil "bouncing". At any rate, it probably needs some kind of bumper at the bottom of it's stroke. 'Course the whole thing could be done with hydraulic or pnumatic "linkage". With hydraulic linkage the open or shut height could be adjusted by adding or subtracting fluid from the circut.
   - GRANT - Saturday, 11/29/03 14:42:24 EST

Stress corrosion cracking in the presence of chlorides in the refinerery services and in Nuke plants is a real condition. If an annealed or stress relieved austenitic alloy is exposed to the chloride or caustic solution, then the failure is usually trans-granular. The condition of stress and the presence of chlorides will fail these alloys in short order. The term in the valve industry is intergranular stress corrosion cracking. The NACE association has very specific requirements for this service as well as sour gas service. Sour as in hydrogen sulfide, a contaminant found to some degree in most all natural gas.
I heard of a offshore drill rig in the north sea that the superintendent had changed the fire suppresion piping to 300SS. He did not post weld treat the weld joints, and on the second or third time they pressurized the system, most of the weld joints failed. Seems they use the abundant seawater to fight fires with, and the chlorides present made short work of the stressed weld joints.
While we consider the stainless steels to be proof against corrosion, there are many things that will attack the stainless steels. Look at what hot animal fat will do to stainless in a weld zone that is not postweld heattreated.
   - Ptree - Saturday, 11/29/03 15:12:29 EST

I am a recent retiree and need information about a used anvil that I recently purchased. The anvil weighs 133 pounds (1-0-21) and has the name "WRIGHT" cast on the side opposite the side where "1-0-21" is cast. Is this some form of Peter Wright anvil? One from a different company named Wright? Or a fake Peter Wright? I've spend hours searching but haven't been able to find out much about it.
David Lipham
   - David Lipham - Saturday, 11/29/03 15:16:35 EST

David, There was another Wright anvil. It is not a fake, just a competitor of the time thought to possibly be a relative. Its a good old English anvil.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/03 15:25:09 EST

Counter Blow Bumper: Shock Absorber? ;)

I figured a rubber pad would do the trick since the velocity and travel is very little. On the other hand there MIGHT be shock in the linkage at the top of the hammer's stroke that needs cushioning. But this is dependant on how fast the operator lets the hammer return. The operator's foot and leg on the treadle has a lot to do with the dynamics of the machine in normal use. Spring balanced TH's have the same problem. You do not want to side step the treadle and let the ram fly up hard against the stop.

From an experimental R&D point of view I think it would be best to build a "pure" counterbalanced counterblow machine first and then add fixes IF needed.

A spring balanced the bias at the anvil might be benificial in absorbing shock and starting the next blow. But most treadle hammer use I've seen was not quick repeat blows but carefully timed single blows. In this case you want a full stop between blows. Almost a braking action.

Wish I could find that design sketch. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/03 15:47:14 EST

$500.00 hammer:

Having done a lot of government work, I will agree with the Guru that it is the mountain of paperwork that they are paying for. BUT! But, most of that you can actually get from your suppliers or simply type up. Many people are scared to do gummit work because of the paperwork required. Well, I found that they are willing to pay handsomely for it!

$500.00 hammer: Material certifications on the wood for the handle, material certs for the steel used for the head, certification that the forging was done in a workman-like manner using best shop practices (this one you type yourself, sign and give your title - Quality control technician). Of course you also need certs from the heat treater attesting to the proper heat treatment. Next is cetification that the assembly was done according to specs (your job again). Certification that the proper coating was used and applied properly in the specified thickness (yes, there are tools to measure that). Next is bar-coding of the hammer and package. Certification that the proper presevative has been applied (in the proper thickness, of course). Last, packaging was done according to specs. After all this, the government inspector will probably pull 2 or 3% out randomly for destructive testing of all of the above. Plus you made 5% extra to allow for rejects and testing and they will only take the exact number specified on the contract.

Why? They have learned (the hard way) that if they don't do it this way, sure as heck, someone will take a shortcut somewhere. They want assurance that twenty years later, when someone pulls this hammer out of the box in some battlefield somewhere, it will work.

Related FYI trivia: The disaster of the "General Slokum", a Mississippi River steamer that caught fire with much loss of life. In the investigation that followed the following was found: Government specifications at the time required lifejackets to be cork filled and weigh a certain amount. "Low bid" manufacturers figured out that (at the time) lead was cheaper per pound than cork, soooo... they filled them with cork and used lead weights to bring them up to spec!
   - GRANT - Saturday, 11/29/03 15:48:23 EST

Hmm, I'd always heard the term "breeze" used to refer to coke made in the forge as in "make sure you have some breeze left to start the fire with tomorrow".

My father mentions using coal dust slurried with water to forge with when he was an engineering student back in the 50's at the University of Arkansas, (he was EE but had to forge a project work with steam tables to design a steam engine and all that other "well rounded engineer" stuff they used to do.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/29/03 15:53:18 EST

Yes, I have made $500.00 hammers for the gummit (well, not literally). I did make crane hooks for the USS "Enterprize" though. They did cost twenty times what the same hook would cost otherwise though.

This was mostly due to some wet-behind-the-ears government engineer (probably fresh out of school). I have never seen a drawing for a hook with so many dimensions! I mean every detail! Probably 100+ demenisions! I think there was 15 or 20 cross-sections along the hook. Usual drawing for a hook has seven or eight dimensions TOTAL. Detail like this would be allright for a drop-forging, but these were NEVER going to be made in quantity. We forged the hooks oversize and literally "carved" them to the required shape with disc grinders and die grinders. Shoulda got more.
   - GRANT - Saturday, 11/29/03 16:07:50 EST

People laugh at the cosy of a $500 hammer or $300 coffee pot for an airplane. A lot of this is the application of the overhead and burden, applied to each purchase under the pentagon purchasing rules.
Another thing, is that very often the specifications are far above that in normal comericial work. Most things the military buys are required to work anywhere in the world. Anywhere! At -40F and at 140F. Have to resist corroding away in 100% relative humidity salt air, and be stored for twenty years and work right, fresh out of the box.
   - Ptree - Saturday, 11/29/03 16:11:37 EST

$500 hammer: The problem is not when they want one hundred or ten thousand hammers, its when they want you to bid on 6 with the same paperwork as a thousand. And that is why the one toilet seat ordered for ONE out of production aircraft cost over $1000. It was not a rip-off, it was a realization of actual costs.

Imagine needing to make replacements dies or jigs and fixtures for such a one-off order on top of the paperwork. And knowing you were only going to make ONE of something you last made 20 years ago. . . and may never make again.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/03 16:32:51 EST

OOPS, again. That should be USS "Enterprise". "S" not "Z".
   - GRANT - Saturday, 11/29/03 16:36:16 EST

My employer recently had an order for piston engine cylinder barrels. They wanted 500 parts. Had to buy 100,000# of 8735 steel,redo dies that hadn't been used in years, and won,t be used again for years. There was 60,000# of steel left over. Forged a cylinder barrel for solid bar, what do you think these barrels cost each?
   - Ptree - Saturday, 11/29/03 17:32:33 EST

I have a salesman sample power hammer ,that i have had more than sixty years .The old salesman that gave it to me was old at the time .so could have beenas old as 1900. It has a leaf spring at the top with shackels down to each side of hammer . it is about 13inches tall brass nickel plated. I think he said it was a little giant. I would like to know of a web site where I might find a picture of one this old.
   Charlie Butler - Saturday, 11/29/03 17:48:36 EST

I am always amused that so many people who would never consider designing a bridge or a machine feel very capable of choosing the proper alloy for any given application. There are hundreds of standard and proprietary stainless steel alloys. Each one is designed to perform under specific conditions. Some resist heat, some resist salt water corrosion, some resist fresh water corrosion, etc. The design and application of alloys is heavily dependant on chemistry and physics. For best results, contact your local metallurgist. We have bills to pay, too!
   - quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/29/03 17:55:28 EST

Charlie Butler,

It would be harder to find a Little Giant that ISN'T that old. Here's a picture of a minature:

   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/29/03 18:03:53 EST

LOL That will teach em to ask "how do I make a sword"

All I asked is >can I make a treadle hammer like a see/saw< and we have flying anvils, on springs, hammer to anvil ratios, and $500 hammers (my fault). Got to love this place. Thanks again Guys.
we've come a long way from where we were in 1800 but are we sure where we are going? big grin.
I'd still like to make 2 S-hooks that look the same. I guess you just have to make the first 500 that look different.
   habu - Saturday, 11/29/03 18:30:03 EST

Just bought this worn but useable/repairable anvil for Ebay. I was wondering what similar anvils sell for in the USA. It's @440lbs and cost me about $150

   Bob G - Saturday, 11/29/03 18:45:18 EST

That should, of course, read from Ebay...
   Bob G - Saturday, 11/29/03 18:46:08 EST

Bob G.,

At least three times what you paid for it, and a $1,000 USD wouldn't surprise me a bit.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 11/29/03 19:42:05 EST

Thomas Powers,

I would think that it would be easier to start a fire with fines of raw coal rather than coke. Coke is hard to light and takes a decent mass of it plus a steady draft to burn. So, I imagine that the "breeze" for starting a fire would be coal fines rather than coke. Just my guess.

My father went to the University of Arkansas during the thirties as a Chemist. He still is amazed that I can forge things, based on his class in Forge and Foundry that he took at U of A. He said that most of every class was spent just in getting the fire lit and going, and darned little forging ever got done. He was using coal and coking it first, from what he tells me. He did become a darn fine chemist, but never did learn forging. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/29/03 20:01:48 EST

BOB On the MIG welding question I am a learner and have had the same problem. I think you are moving the torch too slowly or have the wire feed set too high. The way that I have tried is to make settings of speed and voltage then make a short or spot weld on a test piece of the same size as my work. When I get a weld that looks good I use those same settings and move the torch at a speed that gets me pretty much the same appearance. My big problem was not being in a comfortable position to continue the weld and also not being able to see where I was welding. I make every effort to get in a comfortable position before I weld. Seeing where the weld is going is the big problem for me and I will confess that I have an adjustable shade electronic helmet. For Mig welding I turn it down to a lower shade a little and I try to get as much ambient light on the weld area as possible.

Some of this may not be Kosher, but it has helped. Maybe someone that knows what he is doing will get us both straight.
   - JOHN M. - Saturday, 11/29/03 20:08:12 EST

What? Ask a metallurgist? Wheres the fun in that? also not near the potential for excitement when the item is put into service. Just ask Dehaviland aircraft!
   - Ptree - Saturday, 11/29/03 20:11:18 EST

I learned a bit about the relative costs of things when I helped a friend rebild one of the diesels in his boat a few years ago. One of the required parts was a new starter relay. Standard Delco part, basically. The exact same part number as the one for the truck engine, but with a "M" suffix to indicate marine use. The price jumped from about $9 to $36 for that "M".

When I was telling this to another friend who was the maintenance supervisor for one of the local commuter airlines, he just laughed. The exact same relay with an "A" suffix for aviation use, costs over $260! He says it has to do with quality control to some degree and product liability to the greatest degree. He also said that all three relays are completely interchangeable, just pick your price. Unless you are transporting folks for hire, in which case your attorney will advise you to get the one that is spec'd by the equipment manufacturer, of course.

I still remember what Neil Armstrong said when asked how it felt to be going to the Moon. He replied, "How would you feel going a quarter of a million miles from home in a totally untested prototype vehicle built by the lowest bidder?"
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/29/03 20:14:57 EST

On welding overhead. Most people will tell you that overhead is not a good practice for mig. You may want to check you rod type, as not all are rated for vertical and overhead. If in doubt, ask your welding supplier. Also be aware that overhead is a somewhat tougher weld to make and takes much more practice than downhand welding.
   - Ptree - Saturday, 11/29/03 20:15:55 EST

I have read recently that a new piston engine for airplanes is priced with half the total for liability. A new 360 cubic inch engine for a certified airplane runs in the $50,000 range
   - Ptree - Saturday, 11/29/03 20:18:45 EST


I can undrstand the liability issue with the engine, sure. My big amusement was with the "liability" isue with the starter relay. If the relay fails, the engine doesn't start, the plane never leaves the ground, ergo, no possibility of a crash. So where's the liability there? Seems like a built-in failsafe to me. (gri)
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/29/03 21:24:43 EST

Awhile back in this forum Jock suggested it would be A Good Idea to take some time and rework your hammers...I did that this AM to four hammers, put a new handle on one, reground the faces and the radius, sanded and steel wooled the handles and then did some forging this PM. This was an excellent suggestion, thank you Jock, forging went very nicely afterwards.
   Ellen - Saturday, 11/29/03 21:31:16 EST

I've only done a little bit of MIG welding, but I seem to recall that the shielding gas was heavier than air. If you try to do overhead with MIG, would you use helium so that the shield gas stayed in the weld zone?

Personally, I hate overhead welding. I'll go to great lengths to figure out some way to invert the situation so that I'm doing flat pass downhand work. Or just be honest with myself and ask one of my real weldor friends to do the job for me. That way, it has a much better chance of coming out right. Any position you don't practice is going to be much more difficult. Ask any celibate. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/29/03 21:34:35 EST

i need to make an onion dome 8" tall 8" in dia using 3/4" at the base to 0" at the top how do i find the radius to add to the pi shape so it becomes a dome when i put it together
   gforge - Saturday, 11/29/03 21:52:10 EST


The liability issue with the starter relay probably has more to do with re-ignition following a mid-air stall. Now that could be a real hassle!

   eander4 - Saturday, 11/29/03 21:55:55 EST

One of our "battle cries" is that "There are NO medieval MilSpecs!" I've actually had folks say: "This spearhead is 1/4" too long." or "That's the wrong gauge for a shield boss."

However, by The War Between the States, MilSpecs were getting well started. It was more than making sure that the ammunition fit the bore. My favorite is the drawing of the anvil for the cavalry/artillery forge anvil that specifies the size of the handling holes for the porter bars. These are to be 1" X 1" X 1.5" deep in the front and 1" X 1" X 2" deep in the back. Here is a feature used purely in manufacture, spec.ed for exact measurements, even though it had no actual use in the field. Every item, from tongs to felling axe, is spec.ed to the .05".

One of the reasons for this, as Grant alluded to, above, is that manufacturers would take advantage of every loophole. Contracts for uniforms specified that they were to be made in "small, medium and large" and then defined each. Thus, most of the surviving, unused uniforms from the WBTS are small, because they were the cheapest for the manufacturer to produce, and they made a LOT!

Where the "scandal" comes in is where something is spec.ed for limited production, or even one-off, when an equivalent is available "off the shelf". Sometimes this is due to mental disconnect, or carelessness, or someone designing themselves into a corner, and sometimes it just has to be done, because that's the only way to make everything else work.

Enough babbling, I've munched this enough. Maybe I'll give y'all the true story behind the NPS infamous outhouse, if you're interested, later this week.

Off to bed...
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 11/29/03 23:57:44 EST

A friend of mine wishes to build a forge. I wondered how much would a fair sized forge cost.. any information of building a forge would be greatly useful.
   Christopher - Sunday, 11/30/03 00:43:34 EST

Relative costs etc:
I the Navy NUC program stuff cost so much in part due to the testing. For example, normal military purchasing for a gross of indicater bulbs would test a certain percentage of bulbs. Of this yet another percentage would be an allowed fail rate.
Same gross of bulbs in the NUC system would have 100% test and zero % fail. So if one bulb fails the lot fails.
we used the same exact 1 inch globe valves in teh primary system that COors Brewing used in the brewery. Their cost 260.00 our cost 28000.00..... Was it worth it? To me ues as my life depended on it, and the Coors worker did not .....
   Ralph - Sunday, 11/30/03 00:49:31 EST

Good Guru;
Having a rapid blow capability is very desirable on a TH. I mounted an angled car coil spring at the top of my TH stroke so that I can bounce the hammer rapidly between it and the work, yielding more impact than a regular single blow. Additionally, I have a smaller coil spring that just fits inside the angled coil that is adjustable by sliding in a keeper plate. This allows for rapid short strokes for lining or texturing.
Ralph; are you underestimating the importance of beer?
   Pete F - Sunday, 11/30/03 02:12:21 EST

After Bruce tells the story of the infamous outhouse, I'll tell the one about the "special" stairwells on some Capewell style housing at Wildwood Station, Alaska. (Army Security Agency, near Kenai, AK)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/30/03 02:33:50 EST

Pete, No I am not... But who said Coors was beer? (grin)
   Ralph - Sunday, 11/30/03 02:53:29 EST

Bob Baker

Welding overhead, I checked my notes for SMAW (stick) :
Keep your arc length short and use an electrode angle of 5-15 degrees from vertical dragging from l-r or r-l depending on what hand you use. Be sure your electrode is intended for welding overhead and look for tips in the data sheet for using it this way. I will turn anything smaller than a car upside down with my gantry crane to avoid this welding position but when I have to do it the quality of my welds is usually in direct proportion to the time I spent providing comfortable support for my body and arms.

   Chris S - Sunday, 11/30/03 07:26:45 EST

OK, I'm a new guy, some of you have seen me spashing around in the Slack-Tub trying to get my feet wet. This breeze/coal/coke conversation just twisted my brain and it hurt. I don't have a forge yet and have been trying to weigh in all the different bits and pieces of information I gather to help make the decision of what kind of forge to build.
I recently read "New Edge of the Anvil" by Jack Andrews. Here's the confusion...
During your conversation someone said they use coal not coke to start their fire because coke is too hard to get started. Jack states on page 38; "Each time you shut down the forge make certain you have enough coke set aside to start another fire." He does elude to using coke as the starting fuel to prevent a smokey startup. My question is, is it that much harder to start a coke fire than a coal fire? and is a smokey startup the only reason to start with coke rather than coal?
I would think if you start with coke, you will have your fire at working tempurature quicker than if you start with coal and have to wait for the gasses to burn off.
Also re: breeze, on page 30 Jack states; "coke made at the forge is called breeze since it is light and easily broken apart."

Thanks for having and maintaining such a great site and for sharing your vast knowledge with us wannabees. As soon as I can make the leap from wannabe to smith I plan on becoming a member of CSI.

Steve in Upstate New York
   Smulch - Sunday, 11/30/03 09:06:02 EST

Coke and Coke: Foundry coke produced by the bulk method is compressed in the process of making it and is much more dense than forge made coke. It is also without ANY volitiles. Forge made coke is light and fluffy and usualy has some volitiles. The difference means that forge made coke starts easier and that foundry coke is nearly impossible to start without another hot fire (torch, coal or charcoal).

Many smiths save a pile of coke for the next day so that they have a hot fire suitable for welding in a short time. Some grades of coal MUST be coked to forge weld with them.

Currently a lot of people are using "smithing coke" which is like foundry coke except that it is crushed into nut or smaller sized lumps. Foundry coke is usualy fist sized on average, hard to break up and hard to light.

Sounds like you found an error in Edge of the Anvil. All the references I've read closely call the fines smaller than pea coal and dust "breeze". There are many applications where breeze is useless and I expect the reason English smiths use it (or started using it) is that it was cheaper. Today there are many high efficiency coal furnaces such as the fluidized bed type that grind the coal into breeze before using it. So I expect the price advantage is gone.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/03 11:05:01 EST

Double Horned European Anvil: Bob G., Anvils of that size and style are quite rare in the US. A friend of mine bought a similar anvil in Germany about 10 years ago and then paid over $800 to get it shipped to the US. So, $1,000+ USD. Even in Pounds you got a very good deal.

I do not see anything on it that needs repairing. The face and the horns need a very light dressing but that is all. In fact I would just use this anvil exactly as is and let the working remove the rust from the working areas.

Its a nice anvil and slightly unusual pattern. I've saved the photos to use in the future if you do not mind.

   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/03 11:13:25 EST

Two horned anvil, There is an anvil like the one pictured in a Santa Fe shop, weighing about 350#. Looks like an English/American style base and waist. That was a windfall for Bob G., a beautiful anvil.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/30/03 11:29:30 EST

Costs of Building a Forge: Christopher, Coal, Gas? Steel or Masonry for coal? Indoor, outdoor?

A common general shop sized American style coal forge using new steel plate and angle built using a new commercial firepot, tuyeer, blower and gate, and a fabricated side draft hood will cost about $1,000 US to build. $800 without the side draft hood. You can buy the whole for about what it costs to build using new materials.

A gas forge using all new materials can be built for $200 to $500 depending on size and complexity. Almost all the parts must be made by the builder. However you CAN buy burners. Add $100 for each burner (about 1 burner per cubic foot).

Forges can also be built for almost nothing (nothing if you have the right junk). See our plans page. For most solid fuel forges the only major expense is a blower or bellows. If you scrounge a blower the cost is nothing. You can buy a nice new electric blower for what an old used hand crank blower costs. A leather covered bellows costs more and a Japanese box bellows can be built for about half using pine shelving lumber (both excluding your time).

Probably the least expensive forge to build is the oriental trough charcoal forge. It is two parallel walls of brick on a brick base with the bellows blowing through a hole in the bottom center of one wall. Refractory brick are not required. If you use it on the ground as is traditional it costs less than raising it to bench height as is common in the West.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/03 11:39:03 EST

Overhead Welding Question: The right answers are. . in MIG the Argon/CO2 DOES flow down hill uncovering the weld. There are two solutions. One is to crank up the flow so that it is blown against the surface. The second is to change gases as noted by VIc. Pure argon will work a little better as it is lighter than CO2 and closer to the density of air. It will still take more gas or you can use helium but I think using more argon is cheaper than helium. AND it takes practice.

For stick welding Chris is right, check your rod type, amperage AND Practice, practice, practice.

In both cases the puddle is held in place by two things, capilary action and arc blow. In a small narrow puddle the capilary action will keep the surface fairly flat. Arc blow can be used to hold the puddle in place while it cools. However, the arc is heating the puddle so angle and speed are critical. More practice, practice paractice.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/03 12:06:47 EST

NOTE about practicing (anything): IF you do not improve with practice then you are probably not paying close enough attention to what you are doing wrong and correcting the errors. IF you get worse with practice then you may be being lazy, not paying close enough attention, AND developing bad work habbits in the process. HOWEVER, sometimes getting worse is an indication that you are tired or do not have the right muscles built up for the specific job. In this case think about it, then STOP before you lose any skills you HAVE developed. If you still need to work out those muscles then do it at a task that doesn't hurt your skills. Try again after you are rested.

I have also noted that when people are told to go practice that they often get worse because they do not want to practice or feel resentful that they were told they need more practice or to THINK about what they are doing.
Learning the physical skills of a craftsperson requires a true desire to learn and improve. It takes time, patience and persistance. It also takes THOUGHT. Quality work requires attention to details from beginning to end until the job is done. Paying attention to details includes how you are working and the results. If you do not pay attention to these details then you cannot improve. It takes a consious decision to do the best and BE the best.

To some folks this comes naturaly, others can learn it but some never develop the right attitude about quality, practice and learning.

The problem is that those that can identify the need to change their attitude about work quality usually do so. Those that cannot understand that it is not the tools or materials, that it is their attitude that is at fault, will never be the best and will always be frustrated in their efforts. IF you are always frustrated in your efforts do do something then maybe you should be doing something else.

Can you tell I have other things I SHOULD be doing. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/03 12:42:04 EST

Hello, I recently oversaw your site and wanted to know if it is possible to create the metal Adamantium from mixing many different elements. And is it also possible to mix titanium in with Iron and steel to create a wonder metal?
   Kagatsu - Sunday, 11/30/03 11:44:26 EST

Kagatsu, I am a metallurgist and a Registered P.E. and I have never heard of Adamantium. It is not a pure metal but it might be an obscure alloy. Or a figment of your imagination. The use of Titanium in steel is usually limited to VERY small amounts used to scavange nitrogen from the melt when using boron as a hardenabiltiy agent. There is a parameter called the solubility limit which naturally restricts how much Ti can dissolve in iron, limiting the amount that can be used to make your super-alloy.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/30/03 12:44:53 EST

QC, Kagatsu is asking about a fictional comic book material from the X-men. It is the claw and skeletal material in the character "Wolverine". Or in this case a trick question for a metalurgist.

Kagatsu, You need to learn to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Movies, TV and comic books are mostly fiction (pretend). Writers make up elements, atomic particles and fictional physics that do not exist to make their stories work. Positronic computers are a fictional invention of Issac Asimov that have been adopted by the writers of Star Trek, Kryptonite only comes from Superman's planet and Adamantium is a fictional comic book element. Atlantis never existed as described and pyramid shaped objects do not preserve anything.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/03 13:54:06 EST

As a followup on your response concerning my WRIGHT anvil, can you recommend a source that will tell me more about the WRIGHT company and perhaps help me determine a value of my anvil? I a few books on blacksmithing but none of them are a help.
David Lipham
   David Lipham - Sunday, 11/30/03 14:03:48 EST

David, There is only one book, Anvils in America by Richard Postman. See our book review page. We sell it here if you are interested.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/03 14:11:32 EST

Adamantium is one of the Unobtainium series of elements. ;)
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/03 14:14:58 EST

Guru, I am devastated! The X-men are fictional???!!!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/30/03 14:35:18 EST

Oh well about the Adamantium, I was just wondering if it exists, and thanks for the Info about the mixing ^-^
   Kagatsu - Sunday, 11/30/03 16:28:35 EST

Smulch and All, There is a wonderful little book titled, "Iron and Steel; A Pocket Encyclopedia" by Hugh P. Tiemann. I have the 3rd edition, 1933. In looking up 'breeze', I find "Crushed coke is crushed and graded according to size into the following classes: egg, large stove, small stove, dust coke, coke dust, or coke breeze...the dust is used for covering the bottoms of soaking pits and crucible furnaces to protect the brickwork from melted scale." There is also a fine dust mixed with some dirt called 'slack'. This is often present in purchased coal, and there is nothing much we can do about it in terms of separating it from the good coal. I'm afraid I've been guilty of using the term, 'slurry' when mixing pea size green (unused) coal and finer with water to pack around the coke fire. I build up quite a cone, and by wetting the coal, I get to cone up the fire steeper than the angle of repose. For me, this helps to make a good coke ring (the coke forming around the fire center).
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/30/03 19:11:32 EST

Some of the hottest fires I've built in my coal forge is from the very fine, clean dust collected from underneath a conveyor at a tipple in eastern Ky. After the initial fire is started I packed the "putty" (my name for it) around the fire leaving a "door" in the front for access to the heat without breaking the dome, wait a few minutes and turn up the air a bit and you can't stand within 3' directly in front of it. Depending on how thick it's packed it lasts for a good work session.
   Jerry - Sunday, 11/30/03 20:21:56 EST

Jerry, that sounds really interesting! I'd like to hear more about that. This whole discussion about breeze is intriguing.

Important Question. I've found a piece of what I think is "lightning rod" metal. It looks like copper or something, but it seems a lot stiffer. Anyone know some common alloys of lightning rod material? Is it forgeable? Machinable? Deadly to look at? (Grin) It seems like it's probably a brass... but I really don't know. Any insight would be great!

Glassblowing and blacksmithing go well together... I've started making my own glass tools! to see (go to the bottom). Related question: I'd like to start making my glass tools out of leaf spring once I get some. Will a water quench make leaf spring crack? Mild steel seems adequately springy for my applications, but not adequately stiff. D2 is a common steel for glass tools, but it's very expensive and there is no real need to have such an exotic steel as far as I can tell. So, leaf spring it is, and the heat-treat is all I need to know about.

Extremely rainy (coming down in buckets) in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 11/30/03 22:28:26 EST

T. Gold,

Your mystery rod might be a grounding rod. They're copper coated steel. You might check it to see if it's solid through and through. I've seen beautiful forgings done with these, but heating the steel without melting the copper is said to be very tricky.

That's all I got. Take it for what it's worth.
   eander4 - Sunday, 11/30/03 23:09:10 EST

name that coal.........took a chance and bought a bag of coal off of ebay. tons of smoke and definately not hot. the "coke" had a metalic shine to it. all i did today was make a mess. this "coal" was advertised as "pocahontas", low sulfur, ect...useless for forging. what was this crap??? i hope that the coke that is due to arrive soon will be everything that several people have told me it is. it has been posted that coke needs a constant blast; i dont have an electric blower. i hope my arm does not fall off.....
   rugg - Sunday, 11/30/03 23:57:54 EST

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