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

This is an archive of posts from November 1 - 7, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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Tom, re square corners
You need to upset teh stock in the area that you need the bend it. If you do not, you will actully stretch the metal and thin it making a not very nice corner. But upsettit will give you enough 'meat' to make a bend and then hammer it into a nice sharp square corner.
   Ralph - Monday, 11/01/04 00:51:42 EST

Peter Wright: If it's not too covered by welder spots (as it appears to be), where would I find the serial number on my cousin's Peter Wright 100-200 pound anvil?
   Elliott Olson - Monday, 11/01/04 02:50:19 EST


If it has one, it will be on the vertical portion of the foot, just below the horn.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 11/01/04 07:46:41 EST

Tom, what Ralph said. It's not much of an upset, and it takes a lot of hammering, and on top of that I'm not sure if a big piece would fit in the gas forge after a few heats. This process does take a few heats, too. An upset square forged corner starts as a less than 90 degree bend. The basic process, as simply as I can explain it in words, anyway, is to make a 70-80 degree bend hot, then hammer in towards the corner along the long axis of the stock from both directions, and it will naturally upset a little and bend to a full 90 degrees. The trick of doing this is to get it HOT, nearly a full welding heat, and to localize that heat by using either a rosebud or a water can. The other trick is to not ever, ever, hit the corner on the edge of the anvil, as this will pinch the inside and form a weak point. When you're done, the outside of the corner will be square, and the inside will be gently radiused. Hope that helps.
   Alan-L - Monday, 11/01/04 08:47:46 EST

Magnets- I used to work in a woofer factory, and we got all our magnets unmagnetized from the factory- I guess that means they werent magnets yet- unborn magnets maybe- does magnetisation begin at conception? Anyway, they were "ceramic" magnets, which means steel particles in a slurry of some binder is cast into nice little donuts, but then they are shipped unmagnetised.
One of the tech nerds at our company built a magnetizer- it was a big coil that you placed the magnet in, and a power supply that did indeed use large capacitors, with big field strength meters so you could vary the effect, depending on what size magnet you were working. We would completely build the speakers first, with the gaps sealed, before magnetizing, to keep odd bits of metal out of the speakers. When we fired up that magnetizer, everything that was iron within about 10 feet wanted to get friendly with it, so the room had to be clean. The big problem was on rebuilds, when you wanted to demag em- Big 15" woofer magnets never would get completely demagged, so rebuilding em was a clean room type of operation.
   - Ries - Monday, 11/01/04 11:47:40 EST

Elliot, I've found that offering more money is often just shooting yourself in the foot. You do better in the long run by bringing donughts around every once in a while; or cold soda on a hot summer day. If they start thinking of you as a friend rather than a cash cow they will start squirrelling stuff away for you and get it out the door for the lowest cost!

A nice handforged knife is a good "gift" for a major score, a nice dragon headed card holder for the office for a minor one.

Note the "japanese" style anvil was also produced in the USA for saw work, usually a couple of them show up at Quad-State every year.

Also for a simple anvil, you can often buy an abused anvil cheaply---I picked up a 100#+ anvil that had the heel busted off but the face was near mint and the horn was decent for $40, (once bought a *very* abused anvil for $5, not worth it as the face was almost compleatly missing but it was from 1828 and I wanted that last little bit of shear steel for a project and I've always wanted to try forge welding a new face on...)

I use a simple unheat treated metal cube for my Y1K anvil, saving different sides for different processes---1 is a hot cutting side, one is kept smooth for fine work, etc.

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/01/04 12:30:51 EST

Square Corners: These are enough of a problem that many ways have been created to create them. Upsetting is the simplest but the most difficult from a forging skill stand point. One method that works well is double hammering. Make a round corner bend, heat and clamp in a vise then hammer from both sides toward the middle alternating right, left, right, left with a hammer in each hand. It works, takes practice, but is easier than a common upset in the middle of a bar.

Other methods:

1) Drawing out from a large bar rather than upsetting. Creating a corner "point" in the bar. Works best with a power hammer.

2) Weld on a corner piece. This is one of the common methods from the wrought iron days.

3) Forge a narrow notch half way through the bar, bend at the notch, then weld in a square block and dress.

4) Make a welded corner lap joint. This is also one of the common old methods from the wrought iron days. It is also stronger in wrought as it does not create breaks in the grain structure.

The last method is actually the best as it requires no bending at all. Almost any other method tends to create a cold shut in the inside corner if you are not very carefull.

Number 3 is not far from just arc welding the corner together which is what I would do. Not being very good at forge welding I used to arc weld a lot of stuff together then dress it by forging. Even expert smiths can't tell when do right. There ARE efficiency problems but they can be overcome. Both my weld stinger and a torch always hung from the stock rack on the front of my forge. The only time loss for me was putting on a welding hood. But it was also convieniently hanging nearby.


When you work full time at these things you can setup to be amazingly efficient if you think about it. When I was torch brazing at the forge I had a nice little hanger where I could quickly hook the torch. This one little bracket saved hours a day AND provided a safe place for the torch. On busy days I left it burning as it was a small flame. But now I have a "Gas Saver" I could setup in the same location and be efficient in labor AND fuel. If you use a rose bud regularly a Gas Saver will pay for itself in a short time.
An arc welding stinger can be setup similarly to turn a welder on and off. It requires a healthy sized contactor and an off delay relay but it could pay for itself in a week or so of walking over to the welder and hitting the switch. Good TIG setups have foot or hand controls that do a similar thing.

The most efficient one man setups have power hammers, vise, bench, and grinder close to the forge and anvil. Put fast convienient welding capability in that same small area and even complicated production jobs can move very quickly.

Much of this equipment needs to be duplicated elsewhere for full time use on large welding projects. But having a circle of tools that you can switch to and from quickly is both convienient and efficient.

   - guru - Monday, 11/01/04 12:33:22 EST

Is a 225/125 AC/DC welder a good all around shop welder?If so,what about the craftsman AC/DC,is it OK?
   - Dan - Monday, 11/01/04 12:48:36 EST

Square Corner:

Thanks for the great info on the square corner. I think I was doing it slightly wrong in that I bent to 90 over the edge of the anvil, with the dangling leg of the L resting against the side of the anvil. I then tried to "pull up" some metal at high heat to build up the corner area, then flatten it on the face. This worked, kinda. I'll have to play around with the vice to see if I can get some better results that way.

As an aside, I have a couple of boxes(about 200) of these Tripco flat drill bits used on the railroad. They are some sort of nitride steel, if I remember write, and they are wide and flat. They make great cutting hardies, but you need to grind them to shape. They don't hardly move at all, unless you have a big hammer. I accidentally cut through a piece of 3/8" thick stock with a hardie made of the stuff, and it left a 1/4" deep gash in my hammer face. CrAzY.
   - Tom T from Baring - Monday, 11/01/04 17:39:54 EST

Sears as I understand it no longer lifetime guarantees its Craftsman brand stuff, especially not anything electric. I had an absolutely hellacious time getting them to even admit they made the Craftsman oxy-acetylene equipment I bought back in the 1970s when it came time for a rebuild. Harris was perfectly willing to do it, but not without a referral from Sears-- and nobody at Sears even knew what a torch was. I would travel a long way to buy tools from anybody else before I'd ever buy anything from Sears's hardware line. Why not buy a Cadillac instead-- get a Lincoln cracker box at Home Depot or Sam's Club? If you don't like them, go to your local Lincoln dealer.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/01/04 18:36:03 EST

Sears is a re-seller and will switch the underlying brand as it suits them making it hard to get parts when you need them.

Now is a great time to start up a relationship with your local welding supplier. It may cost a bit more in the short run but a friendly supplier can save you big bucks in the long run!

Welders are like religions with folks holding out that red or blue is the one true faith; but I'd see who you have locally and go with whichever they carry.

I picked up an old tombstone Lincoln welder for $40 a few years back, copper wound and it's suited me well. Had a friend that was a weldor give it a test drive for me. If anything goes out on it I can get parts almost anywhere in the world.

Saw a newer version of the same one sell for $40 at the auction a couple of weeks ago and a plumb recent one go for $100.

There are some things where the brand name of the *maker* is what counts.

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/01/04 19:10:39 EST


You did in fact repond to my first post, I was un able to locate it! I was curious to the color though. Thanks again!


   Bobby Lancaster - Monday, 11/01/04 19:14:22 EST

Hey Guru.
Got a question for you. I am a very new blacksmith. I am trying to get a working forge going but I am having the following problems. I made my forge from an old charcaol grill. It has sand as an insulator and 1/2inch galvanized pipe for the tuyere. It is kind of hard to explain but the two pipes enter from the back with 90 degree elbows making them horizontal. They go forward about 6 inches into double elbows with 6 inch pipes making U shapes ending in caps. There are 1/8 inch holes in the pipes for air. i started using my shop vac as a blower but someone suggested it was too much so I switched to a hair dryer. I built this forge to harden and temper blades for the tools I make (ie chisels, and plane irons) most of which are 3/16 or 1/4 inch thick o1 tool steel. Is this forge adaquate? Is charcoal from wal mart good enough? How long does it take a forge to come up to temperature? Is sand a good enough insulator or do I need to find a brake drum to really do any blacksmithing? Hope this was enough but not too much info. Any help you can offer would be GREATLY appreciated.

thank you
   Justin - Monday, 11/01/04 19:22:31 EST

Selling VS Teaching: It is curious to note that the highest paid profession in the US is Salesmen. On average, they make more than Lawyers, Doctors or Engineers. I spent 4 years in sales and I made more money than before or since. I just didn't like being away from home 50% of the time. To whom much is given, much is expected.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 11/01/04 19:35:21 EST


If you use charcoal, you need hardwood chunk charcoal(NOT the briquettes), and ALOT of it. It wouldn't be economical to run your forge on charcoal, unless you made your own.
   - Tom T - Monday, 11/01/04 20:16:52 EST

What is the correct distance between the floor and the top of an anvil. Thanks AJR
   A.J. Radke - Monday, 11/01/04 20:44:21 EST

AJ: See Iforge #6 and #144 for anvil height and stands.
   dief - Monday, 11/01/04 21:02:57 EST

Hydraulic pipe bender:

I need to bend some 40mm (1.5 inch) round bar. Would a 12 ton hydraulic pipe bender be man enough if I heat the bar?
   Bob G - Monday, 11/01/04 21:19:56 EST

Anvil height:-)

Whatever suits you and the work you are trying to do:-)

Heavy work with helpers, top tools, and sledges requires a large low anvil.

Light work with a small hammer can be done on a relatively high anvil.

The answer you are looking for:-) is about knuckle height standing next to the anvil with you arm loose at your side and you fist clenched. or just a little lower...

Reasons why! This should produce a fairly neutral position for your wrist when striking the metal on the anvil. If you want to strike a tool ontop on the steel it won't be at an uncomfortable height. A lot of people want to be able to 'see' their work more closely and bend over, or raise the anvil so they don't have to bend over as much. This is generally a bad practice to aquire (I tend to sink lower over the anvil when doing delicate work...) Hunching will hurt your back, and cause more fatigue and strain, making mistakes and injure more likely. Setting the anvil too high, tends to put your wrist into an akward position at the point of impact... Impact, especially repeated impact, with your wrist in a non-neutral position is a contributing factor in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

There are lots of traditional styles of hammer use and ways of presenting yourself to the anvil. Lots of them work, if you do them exactly right!;-) Streeter's thumb on the hammer handle can work well, IF you have an intentionally soft grip on your hammer, and don't have other contributing factors toward the development of carpal tunnel.

Generally you want to present yourself to the anvil with the horn on your off hand. Close enough that you can let the hammer fall on the center of the face, without reaching at all. You should have a soft grip on the hammer, so that it transmits less shock back in through your arm. (Believe me when you abuse your body, you will feel it. First the numbness in your hands, then the ache in your wrist, and then the pain in your elbow, as the stabilizer tendon is agrivated... Not fun) Loose and flowing short strokes for light work, and high strokes starting above your head for heavy work. Fatigue is the enemy of good form when you are learning, and it also can get you hurt... (Any number of ways, muscle strain, or misjudging a heat and trying to get one more blow in, and the piece is kicked up into your face, been there done that.) Hammer work is not like weight lifting, if you push to failure in metal work you have gone too far verly likely, and damaged you or the work:-)

Wisdom is the ability to learn from someone elses mistakes, and not insisting on making them yourself!;-) If you think you have better judgement than the next guy, you probably don't. We all make mistakes, Dawrin decides just how bad a mistake it is:-)
   Fionnbharr - Monday, 11/01/04 21:39:14 EST

METAL SCRAP, What is it?
with a peice of scrap steel, is there any easy way to figure out what type of metal and how hard it is? atleast a rough estimate.

i live near "smith and edwards" which has an abundance of military scrap. I'm looking to try and find scrap for a post anvil, or hammer making material, but i'm no chemist, and i'm sure none of the employees are either.
   adimeshort - Monday, 11/01/04 22:52:16 EST

Tom T, re economics of charcoal....
I think I might disagree a bit. It all depends on how much you are forced to pay for coal etc. Right now propane is over 2.00 in my area and coal is also quite high. So if I buy charcoal from a resturant supply it is actually almost as cheap. And yes that is counting the extra amount you would need.
   Ralph - Monday, 11/01/04 23:38:19 EST

QC, I thought the highest paid position was politics? (grin)
At least it is pay vs amount of work.
   Ralph - Monday, 11/01/04 23:39:18 EST

Gurus, I've got a couple more questions for y'all. One is for Quenchcrack and the other metallurgists: If you want to see grain structure in a cross-section of a metal sample in a scanning electron microscope, what's the procedure? Cut it with a wet abrasive saw, I assume, but then polish? Etch with acid? Is there another type of microscope which is better for this work?

Second question is for all the gurus. Anyone know what Grade 8 bolts are made out of, if it's something in particular?

Cloudy and cooling off in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Monday, 11/01/04 23:45:06 EST

I am making some christmas ornaments out of mild steel sheet metal. They have been polished and colored with heat patina. How long do you think this type of finish would hold up indoors (btw it is a very dry climate here).

Thank you
   - hammerschmidt - Tuesday, 11/02/04 01:21:40 EST

ThomasP, it's kinda hard to build a relationship with a acrap dealer (to get a great deal on an anvil and other stuff) when they are 120 miles away and I go through that town only a few times a year. Someplace more local doesn't hardly exist any more worth mentioning (35 miles away and only open when he feels like it).
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 11/02/04 01:26:46 EST

Fionnbharr, "We all make mistakes, Dawrin decides just how bad a mistake it is"
Are you referring to the numerous cases stated in the "Darwin Awards" book? Good reading.
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 11/02/04 01:37:56 EST

Bobby Lancaster-- I'm pretty sure the Champion 200 I have has never been painted.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/02/04 01:38:24 EST

Sorry if this is an old question, I've read the review of the cast steel anvils from Harbor Freight but they seemed inconclusive. Would one be suitable for a beginner whose's also a college student and on a razor thin budget?

Also, the review mentions 110 lbs anvils, all I see on HF are 55, are they out, will they possibley get more 110's? I plan to email them this question also and will let you know what I find out.

   Brett - Tuesday, 11/02/04 02:13:30 EST

Gas savers can be fussy beasts.
The valves must be adjusted to seat and seal simutaneously or one side will leak, setting you up for as backflash.
On many units, the linkage is designed to be adjusted so that any weight in excess of the amount necessary to close the valves is taken up by the linkage, saving the valve seats from excess pressure and premature wear.
One thing to look for is , if the rosebut tilts sideways on the hook,the linkage twists too. The weight of torch butt plus the heavy rosebud bears on just one of the valve seats and decreases the pressure on the other valve, allowing a small leak and setting you up for a backflash.
With wear, one valve tends to seat in more than the other eventually and not close all the way...same result.
Given a few backflashes, soot can build up on the acet valve seat unevenly, holding it open slightly. If the buildup is even, it may prevent the oxy valve from closing all the way.
If you change pressure at the regulators, say when you change tip sizes or for cutting...that pressure will effect the closing of the gas saver valves slightly, sometimes enough to cause leakage.
If you bias the oxy adjustments so that it opens last and closes first, It'll reduce the tendancy to flashback.
Of course, because the passage of pressurized gas cools the valves and welding heats everything in sight, the metal parts all change sizes hither and you while you work, throwing the adjustments out of kilter.
All that said; after many years of abusing welding torches and thousands of pops and flashbacks of various severitys, I've never had a mixer damaged.
Is it possible that the problem is simply getting it clogged with soot from the flashback that you could clean out? Do you have anti-flashback valves on your rig?
Ask a simple question...eh?
Selling your work;
It seems that the talent for selling and talent as an artist/craftsman are mutually exclusive things. I've seen lousy artists who were splendid salesmen and businesspeople and who did quite well. Some of the most talented artists I've known couldn't scratch out a living at it. It seems to require some mixture of both.
A rule of thumb is that the customer needs to be favorably exposed to you and your work 3 times before you are credible in their eyes. That means you have to be accessable in the same place over some considerable span of time.
It helps to have unique product and something that inspires desire in the customer. Gotta suck em in somehow.
And it helps to keep a straight face and pretend that you know what the heck you are doing.
Look up "spark test" for beginners. Look up Junk yard steel identification. If all else fails, cut a chunk off, forge it out into a thin rod, heat to full red and let cool, test with a funky old file for hardness.
The file will just scate across hard steel( leaving a bright stripe of dulled file)...and cut more the softer it is.
If it is hard when air cooled, it is air hardening steel.
Next test quenching in oil...If it isnt hard then, try quenching in water. If it still isn't hard, it's mild steel.
When you do manage to harden a piece, take some abraisiver and cut down to bright metal on one side. Then heat from one till you see the temper colors run and fan it over the length a little till there is a full spread, then quench.
Last, put it over the edge of the anvil and start bending it from the heated end with a a hammer. at some point, it'll break. Note the temper color just short of breaking and draw your temper to that color. The old time way don't know chemistry either, but it works, mostly.
Send anvilfire a whole lot of money for this sage advice.....please
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 11/02/04 02:14:34 EST

Has anyone out there built an entertainment center from iron? I am thinking about one for the wife for X-mas and hoping for ideas/opinons. Any help would be welcome

Thanks Stan
   Stan Tilton - Tuesday, 11/02/04 05:12:54 EST

Propane connectors
Some time back it was mentioned that the new style propane connectors for bottles should have an orifice drilled out in order to get adequate amount of gas for a forge. Could not find this using search (probably my fault). The handle I just got has what sounds like a ball trapped inside which requires an Allen wrench to remove, or so it appears. If the ball is removed does there still a need for the drilling? If so how big should it be? I am using a homemade blown forge with one burner.

Thanks, Jim
   Jim Curtis - Tuesday, 11/02/04 10:33:16 EST

Propane Cylinder Connections: Jim, Etal,


We did have a long discussion about the new safety valves on the small propane cylinders. Many are cheap, under rated and prone to freeze up from moisture in the bottles. The solution is to purchase a larger bottle which does not require the safetey valve OR to be sure to purchase a good quality bottle. DO NOT try to modify the valves.

If you saw anything about modifying cylinder valves it was on another website or page NOT HERE. If such dangerous advice had been posted here it would have been deleted. If something of that nature gets by on the Hammer-In (which I do not monitor closely) then let me know and I will remove it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/04 12:45:48 EST

Harbor Freight

i also noticed that they didn't have any on the website, but i found out that there was a store near me, and the harbor freight store had them for 79... why the website doesn't have them is beyond me.

   adimeshort - Tuesday, 11/02/04 11:12:09 EST

Harbor Freight. Buyer beware. The word "cast steel" is often used very loosely and can also include cast iron which is a very poor material for an anvil. I believe HF often labels its cast iron anvils as being "cast steel". The Russian anvil was an exception. It was real cast steel being sold for a cast iron price. A very good deal if you can find one.

Almost any block of steel that isn't cast iron will make a serviceable anvil.

Good quality NEW cast steel anvils are availabel from Euroanvils and OldWorldAnvils at VERY reasonable prices. IMO, if you can possibly raise the cash this is the way to go. You will save money and frustration.

If you feel like driving to N. New Mexico, or your uncle is in the shipping bidniss, I have plenty of heavy scrap suitable for makeshift anvils.

It is my opinion (which no one asked for) that beginners need to spend the money on a real anvil. An experienced craftsman who knows how the work is supposed to go can coax good results from second rate tools but a newbie needs good tools to help guide him in his work. I know its a chunk of cash for an anvil and I struggled with this problem myself when starting out but it's the ONLY expensive thing that you have to buy. Most of the other tools you can make or scrounge.

Finally, hook up with your local blacksmiths chapter (go to www.ABANA.org and click on the affiliates link) Smiths in your area will know about available anvils and are usually very helpful and friendly to newbies and wannabes.
   adam - Tuesday, 11/02/04 11:58:03 EST

Ralph; don't think you could pay me enough to do that job as currently set up!

Adam, For things like knifemaking a block anvil is not second rate. The london pattern anvil is a "jack of all trades" anvil and so is helpfull if you want to mess around doing a bit of everything; but if you want to specialize you may be better off putting your money into speciality tools and using a simple anvil.

Adam, Where are you getting your scrap at?--I need to find sources in NM.

I voted. I've got my griping rights nailed down for the next 4 years!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/02/04 12:25:26 EST

T. Gold - Steel Microstructure - SEM is not required. Procedure - cut, using care to not create a heat affected Zone that will distort the microstructure. (Water cooled abrasive cut off, water cooled power hacksaw, water cooled bandsaw, etc. less preferable - regular bandsaw, hand hacksaw) Polish, starting with coarse grit papers (usually silicon carbide if my memory is correct), preferably on a watercooled polishing wheel (can also be done by hand)start with 100 grit and go to about 800/1000. Finish on a water cooled polishing wheel with either very fine alumina or diamond grit (it's partly alloy dependent) Etch with either nital or picra (again alloy dependent) View under a metallographic (reflected light) microscope. Suppliers of various grits, equipment, etc. for preparing microstructure samples include Leco, Buehler, and Struers. I've got more detailed info at home & will try to post more this evening after voting.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 11/02/04 12:34:03 EST

Adam, I agree on the "real" anvil as a first anvil. It is much better to learn with real tools. However, there are many who don't think they can scrounge up $100 for a used anvil or have the skills to find one at that price. . .
It DOES bother me that these same folks probably are using a newer better PC than mine (now +5 years old) and also probably spent more on each stereo, TV, DVD player in their bedroom than a decent small set of REAL durable tools cost.

PARENTS! Think about it! If you purchase any blacksmithing tool (hammer, anvil, vise, tongs) they will outlast that electronic junk by GENERATIONS! I have tools given to me 50 years ago (when I was 4) as well as the hammer and saw I got at Christmas when I was 11 (the good electric drill wore out). But 2 of 3 VCRS I have purchased in the past 5 years have gone to the dump. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/04 12:36:28 EST

Unknown Steels, Metals: adimeshort, we have a very nice FAQ on this subject.

High tech idustries have high tech scrap that can create all kinds of problems of identification. Inconel, Waspalloy, PM composites, magnesium, monels and every grade of stainless abound in this type scrap. I have pieces of Zirconium from a local plant. LOOKS like 400 series SS, about the same hardness but is non-magnetic. Filings will burn like gunpowder and putting a bar in a forge could be VERY exiting. . . I also have some copper doped graphite that is really weird stuff.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/04 13:03:53 EST

Modern Anvils:

Part of my shtick, when working on my early medieval block anvil rig, is to explain to the marks, er, public that the modern pattern anvils are the equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife- lots of horn and heel and hardy holes; plus one or two pritchel holes, studs, upsetting blocks, clip starters and other useful stuff on various models. A very versatile tool. On the other claw, Swiss Army Knives usually don’t weigh 220 pounds (or 100 kilos. ;-)

The Gift of Tools:

I’m still sorting through many of my father’s tools; and I’ve passed a number on to the kids, especially my eldest daughter, the Theatre Techie; but I’m putting together a special package for one of my nieces. She’s the one who, when she walked into forge exclaimed: “Ooooh; look at all the neat tools!” At 16 I figure she’s off to a good start!

Sunny and nice on the banks of the Potomac; y’all go vote so I’ll know who my boss is!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/02/04 13:10:06 EST

Tool Junkies. . . in my family my daughter is the tool junkie. My son probably uses his more but I don't think he appreciates them (their cost, value having).

Me, I want it all, books, tools, machines, PC's . . . but I have no desire for fancy stereo systems or cell phones.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/04 13:48:05 EST


Harbor Freight has stopped carrying the Russian 110 pound anvil. As soon as those still in the stores are gone, there will be no more.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/02/04 15:20:06 EST


I'd rather have a daughter in a cat house than a son in politics. At least she'd be working for a living. I know very few politicians that I would walk across the street to urinate down their throat if they were dying of thirst.

I also voted. Good for another four years of griping and complaining.

   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/02/04 15:25:19 EST

Hi Fellas,
I'm reposting an older question here. I asked if anyone out there has built an entertainment center out of steel? Or may have see one they liked, ideas welcome. I need to get started on one for X-mas for the wife.
Thanks Stan
   Stan Tilton - Tuesday, 11/02/04 15:41:35 EST

Steel Entertainment Centers:

I've been thinking about this part of the day; and I'm sure some other folks here are considering an answer too. It seems to me it could look very nice and certainly be better than the glue and woodchip stuff that passes for furniture. That said, there may be some acoustic considerations, and real wood (depending on the wood) might actually be superior due to resonance. You don't see too many iron violins (although I do know of an aluminum one).

Gotta go vote!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/02/04 16:03:27 EST

Hey guru, I live in Cincinnati Ohio. I want to get into armoruring, I have made alot of chain maille, but now I want to try out some plate, were would I be able to pick up some nise thin (easy to hammer) plate steel? in particular there is a pair of spaulders/pauldrons that I want to make to go with my chainmaille shirt.

   Casey - Tuesday, 11/02/04 16:31:26 EST

ok, hehe, found the plate in your store, change my question to what would be good to make armour out of? I am looking into stainless.

like what finish and what gauge?

   Casey - Tuesday, 11/02/04 16:35:09 EST

Casey, what are you going to do with the armour? If you intend to fight, what type of fighting? Live steel? Foam weapons? Rattan? If no fighting, 18-20 gauge would do you fine, anything else and 16 gauge would be a good bet. If you haven't done any plate work before I'd recommend not using stainless for your first project as it's kind of a pain.
   MikeA - Tuesday, 11/02/04 16:41:31 EST

I put some photos into the photo gallery of a shear I have. The shear appears to be able to cut bar, angle iron and ???. The ??? is whatever the side that takes square stock can act upon (it just looks like it clamps there to me, but I haven't stuck my nose all the way down there yet). Can someone enlighten me on the brand, possible model number and capabilities you may know about. I have not been able to find any brand or model number on the shear.

   djhammerd - Tuesday, 11/02/04 16:46:04 EST

Casey, look up your local SCA group and find out who armours locally. They should have all the info on local sources and may even be able to help you through a project or two.

BTW the armourarchive and arador are good websites on armour making (note the affected english spelling of armour used by a lot of folks in the craft)

Thomas who's the royal pain about wrought iron on both those sites...
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/02/04 17:50:18 EST

VERY old anvil for sale. Pictures at:


This one is a beauty. I'm torn between saying it is Spanish, (due to the long low configuration) or English (since it has a horn and a heel). It's definitely VERY old, no cutting table, no pritchel hole. Been used a lot. But I'm inclined to say this one belongs in a museum, not in a shop.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/02/04 18:29:25 EST


I don't know about what your wife would like, but I think a combination steel and wood would make a great entertainment unit. I'd recommend a metal frame, with brackets, etc., for wood shelves. The brackets can be made as simply or fancilly as your skill allows. Assembly would be a bear, and you have to be, um, retentive in your fit and finish to get everything to come out square.

I voted. Ready to gripe.
   Monica - Tuesday, 11/02/04 18:33:39 EST

Thomas P, I am will be following the "basic hammer work" pattern on arador for the spaulders. and thanks for the suggestion.

   Casey - Tuesday, 11/02/04 18:39:19 EST

PawPaw, Lovely anvil. I'm not sure I want to know the asking price, but I'm curious. However, there is no link/data that I've been able to find for perspective purchasers to find out about weight, price, or put in an offer.
   Monica - Tuesday, 11/02/04 18:40:26 EST

Friend of mine built an entertainment center from steel. He used rectangular tubing for all of the horizontal parts and used 2x1/4 flat for the vertical pieces. The flat covered all of the holes in the end of the tubing so it looks solid. The flat is also all on 45 degree angles and woven together in a basket weave design. He used a power wire brush on all surfaces and clear coated it. Looks like stainless and since it's inside, it's never rusted. The horizontal planes are at different levels so none of the equipment is in line with another piece.
   - HWooldridge - Tuesday, 11/02/04 18:43:12 EST

Ralph, a politician is the highest expression of salesmanship. And we have the best Government money can buy! (Uncle Atli not included...)

Ganainh pretty well covered the procedure but let me add a few comments. Metallographic analysis is like reading an ancient Mayan tomb text: pretty stuff but if you can't understand what it is saying, you really won't learn much. To give you an idea about how much information is available on metallography, Dr. Jim Hrisoulis has his Ph.D. in metallography. I recently bought a new microscope for the lab at work. I bought a very basic unit with the best optics available. Price? $23,000. I know some metallurgists who have their own metallograph (metallurgical microscope) but I sure don't. And while 5% nitic acid in alcohol is not too dangerous, picric acid is EXTREMELY explosive when it gets dried out and is not a good chemical to keep in the garage.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/02/04 19:25:00 EST


Weighs about 50 pounds. It was on ebay, but attracted no bids. The reserve was high, as it should me IMO. Opening bid was set at $150.

As for contact information, I'll see what I can find out. I know who is selling it.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/02/04 19:38:09 EST

be, not me. PTP, PP!!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/02/04 19:39:39 EST

Quench, they are buying a SEM at work, building a room for it,and if you have to ask you can't aford it!
On nital, the metalurgurist that used to work there blew up the fume hood, and poluted the lab with nitric and methanol fumes quite well one night. Mixed a fresh batch, and tightened the cap on the jug too tight. Pressure build-up ruptured the 3 liter jug!
Picric!!! oh my!!!
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/02/04 20:32:21 EST

I have built a bunch of entertainment centers from metal- some for myself, some for money. I have made some with wooden shelves, some with perforated metal, some with sheet metal that I beaded to increase strength. Good idea to leave the back open, so you can connect wires up to all the components, and also, electronics generate heat, and you want to vent it, or they burn out a lot quicker. Sometimes I have put doors on them, to cover components so you dont see em. I have made drawers for CDs- you can get nifty CD dividers from woodwork supply places like Woodcraft. Sometimes I put em on casters- like the one for my TV/VCR/ Kids Gaming system, which has shelves below, and a flat top where the TV sits on top. I have had some of em powdercoated, black wrinkle to match stereo components. But if I do much forging on a piece, I usually just wire brush and shoot it with clear Krylon spray paint- for indoor use, it lasts a long time. I am usually to impatient to do a more time intensive finish.
Measure your components first, to make sure they fit. Make the shelves sturdy- TV's in particular can get heavy. For design ideas, check out your local Ikea store, or maybe check out my old neighbor in Ventura- Billy Bags- do a web search- he makes some nice modern steel entertainment centers.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 11/02/04 20:50:52 EST

I have been into blacksmithing for about two months now. So far I haven't work with very much metal, but I have done alot of research. Anyway if it's not to troublesome my question is, do you have any ideas or tips on forge designs for general tool making and tips on a setup for a shop and if possible with pictures. Thank you very much, this will be a big help in the start of my blacksmithing career.
   Charles Loughin - Tuesday, 11/02/04 21:14:22 EST

This is probably unnecessary, but: re: iron or steel or any other metal entertainment center: if the entertainment is electrified, then make absolutely certain that the "center" is grounded.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/02/04 22:12:23 EST

Old Anvil; Paw Paw:

I was just rooting through Frank Turley's book on Southwest Colonial Ironwork for another posting over at the Armour Archives. Most of the Spanish anvils that I'm familar with have a either a tang or much fancier feet than the one you linked to. Looks like an attempt to provide maximum face for weight. I'll be interested in what Frank and the others have to say. It certainly is unusual.

Getting Started; Charles: You've barely scratched the surface around here. There are all sorts of wonderful and useful articals addressing the beginning smith. There also should be some good information on shop setup in the Guru's Den archives. While you wait for some more specific answers keep rooting around; it can take the better part of a day to see all the neat resources available at Anvilfire; and when it comes to research, there's some nice recommendations over in the bookshelf.

Welcome aboard!

Lovely weather, warm and whistful on the banks of the lower Potomac. Meant to avoid the suspense of the election-night count by working at the forge tonight, but ended up escorting an antiques dealer to look at some of my parent's horde. Now it's the computer with NCR in the background, but I might switch to a Steeleye Span CD real soon.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/02/04 22:40:00 EST

That's NPR for national Public Radio, not National Cash Register!

Poof, then prost!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/02/04 22:43:22 EST


I hadn't thought about buying charcoal from a restaurant supply. I use the hardwood lump for grilling all the time, and a cheap source would be a real boon.

As to propane, I use up about .25lb/hour forging. I'm able to do most of my work at about 2-5 PSI. I always have to kick it up to 20PSI for welding work, though, to get my temperature up. Does anyone have some tips for ekeing a little more heat out of a typical venturi propane burner? I'm thinking if I route the copper propane supply line along the side of my forge, it will preheat the propane, resulting in higher burn temperatures.
   - Tom T - Tuesday, 11/02/04 23:03:41 EST

Stainless: If you are looking for easy, you DO NOT want stainless plate. Stainless is stiffer than steel and work hardens rapidly. Look for "deep draw" or annealed low carbon sheet.

Shear The photo gallery will not let me in for some reason. If you want me to look you will have to mail the photos to me.

Entertainment Center: All that expensive plastic stuff and all that sharp hard iron. . what a combination! In the least you would need wooden shelves unless you are into sheet metal work as well as the iron. . . I'd put my money into good hardwood. Use iron or brass accents if that was what I wanted. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/04 23:08:00 EST

Could someone enlighten me on the relative merits of a variable speed electric motor as against an idler pulley control on a leaf spring based power hammer?
   - Chris Stross - Wednesday, 11/03/04 00:31:28 EST

Could someone enlighten me on the relative merits of a variable speed electric motor as against an idler pulley control on a leaf spring based power hammer?
   - Chris Stross - Wednesday, 11/03/04 00:31:51 EST

Spent some time yesterday taking apart 3 Makitas, a couple of 4 1/2 grinders and a skillsaw.. all with shorts in the cord where it goes through the pinch block. One of them was still under warranty , but who wants to wait 6 weeks when you can fix it yourself in a 1/4 hr.I can't be the only one spending his lunch break fixing Makita cords .. any retro fixes out there?
   tim - Wednesday, 11/03/04 08:22:49 EST

Paw Paw, I disagree, that anvil looks a lot like one I've seen in person previously that was a cast iron no-name foundry ASO, notice the chipping on the side---not wrought iron.

Course Postman could still slap me up aside the head; but I wouldn't go for it at 1/2 the "reserve price"

Toolmaking forges---what kind of tools? the typical kaowool lined tube propane forge makes a nice forge for a lot of toolmaking and is a pain for other types.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/03/04 10:28:55 EST

Chris: Variable speed motors 1/2 hp or greater are usually expensive DC motors with expensive power supplies. Whereas induction motors of that size which run at a fixed rpm (usually 1800 rpm) are very cheap or often free. Also, its a cultural thing: smiths tend towards simple mechanical solutions rather than electronics.

People sometimes try to control the speed of an induction motor with a rheostat or a light dimmer. Doesnt work very well. Induction motors are designed to run at a fixed multiple of the line frequency (60 cycles/sec)
   adam - Wednesday, 11/03/04 10:36:20 EST


We'll just have to disagree, until some one is close enough to test it. Doesn't look like cast iron to me.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/03/04 10:36:32 EST

Propane cylinder connection revisited

I was not talking about the valve, but the big black hand tightened connector that goes on the hose end to connect the cylinder valve to the system. I would not touch the cylinder valve for any reason. What is the purpose of the ball inside this connector? I do not mean to beat this to death but I want to make sure that we are talking about the same device. Thanks, Jim
   Jim Curtis - Wednesday, 11/03/04 10:36:36 EST

Paw Paw, how would you explain the chipping on that side shot? Too deep for a face plate. I really have held one that was a twin to this one in my hands---what part of the country is it in? Have you seen it in person?

Many small foundry CI ASO's didn't have a pritchel or cutting plate.

I just don't want someone to pay big bucks on your recommendation only to find out that they have an ASO.

I'd be happy for Postman to prove me wrong.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/03/04 10:51:08 EST

Entertainment Center:

I can't suggest what aesthetics you should use, since that has to be up to you, but I would suggest you look at some of the high-end stuff out there and see what features you like so you can incorporate them into your own design. What I will suggest is that you keep firmly in mind the mechanical properties of steel versus wood or particle board or plastic when designing your entertainment center.Steel is plastic, (for a blacksmith, anyway), and has high strength for a given dimension. This should allow you to design something that couldn't be made from wood or plastic because they wouldn't have that strength. Cantilevered shelves, maybe. Or segments that appear to be supported from only one end, or an unbalanced point, or other things that fool the eye and amuse the mind. Keep in mind the plastic qualities of steel; you don't have to be constrained to rectangles and straight lines. A speaker shelf could look like a tree branch, with the speaker resting on the tips of twigs. Steel is strong enough to do that easily. I could see an entire tree forged out of many pieces that would hold all the components and allow the connecting wires to be concealed in forged tubes like you would do for a chandelier. The possibilities are pretty endless if you think outside the box.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/03/04 11:06:41 EST

Huh? That post took out my paragraphing. How did that happen?
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/03/04 11:07:55 EST

Electric motors:

I've been thinking on the same lines, but mostly looking at treadmill motors. They're usually advertised as 2hp, although I know they're much less. But these would a DC motor and comes with the controller, assuming both work after dragging it out of the scrap pile.

Another way to get a free one that probably works is to scavenge one out when the owner's not home. Pick one that has lots of clothes hanging on the handlebars and you're pretty sure they won't notice for a very long time.


PS - I'm kidding about that last method.
   - MarcG - Wednesday, 11/03/04 11:27:10 EST

I have made my first attempt at making Domascus steel. It turned out ok but when it is polished you cant see the grain in the steel. Is there some kind of solution or something to put this blade in to bring out the look of the steel.

Thanks. Mike Johnson
   Mike Johnson - Wednesday, 11/03/04 11:29:50 EST

I submit that anvil is a 20th century cast steel anvil, as you can see the parting lines on the horn and heel. The wear looks like that on y abused Columbian cast steel anvil, and that horn looks like a modern Peddinghaus cone rather than a forging. I would be happy to be wrong, of course, but that's what it looks like to me.

   Alan-L - Wednesday, 11/03/04 11:35:44 EST

Mike Johnson, you have to etch the steel to bring out the pattern. Try degreasing it and soaking in vinegar for a day or three. Most full-time makers use Ferric Chloride circuit board etchant, the Radio Shack type diluted 4-1 with distilled water for 5 to 20 minutes. This is nasty-looking stuff and will dye you purple. Vinegar will show you what's there and will leave a brighter finish as well.

I have a possible source for wrought iron, but am not sure of my ability to id wi. It's off an old bridge, built in 1920's or earlier, forge welded eyes in stock about 3/4 inch diameter. Hardly no rust, light pitting. I sawed through half and broke it but no "fibers" as described elsewhere. Is it possible for higher grades of WI to not exhibit the slag fibers? Could you summarize some observations or tests? Seems I read of some chemical that you can test for WI?
   Tone - Wednesday, 11/03/04 11:41:25 EST

I have been forging my blades for the last three years on a Record ASO and it seems to work ok but maybe I'm just used to it.Would a real anvil make my life that much easier or will I not notice much difference?
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 11/03/04 11:56:24 EST

I am a sculptor working on a project that involves bronze brazing a pattern over a piece of plate steel. I was wondering if you know of any substance I can apply to the steel that will retard the bronze and keep the flow in a specific pattern. I have been trying to control it with the torch but the edges are not as clean as I would like.
Thank you,
   Graeme Bradlee - Wednesday, 11/03/04 12:19:37 EST

I am a sculptor working on a project that involves bronze brazing a pattern over a piece of plate steel. I was wondering if you know of any substance I can apply to the steel that will retard the bronze and keep the flow in a specific pattern. I have been trying to control it with the torch but the edges are not as clean as I would like.
   - Graeme Bradlee - Wednesday, 11/03/04 12:19:57 EST

From today’s National Park Service Morning Report ( http://data2.itc.nps.gov/morningreport/ ); y’all be careful out there…

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Assist, Structural Fire

Seventeen park staff with two structural fire engines, a wildland fire engine and an ambulance responded to a request for assistance from Teton County following an explosion in the basement of a Pacific Creek home on October 27th.

The single-story residence, which is being remodeled, is located within a private subdivision directly adjacent to the park’s boundary in the Moran area.

One of the construction workers was soldering in the basement around 3 p.m. when his two-gallon propane tank fell over, breaking the hose connection. This allowed the escape of liquid propane, which rapidly expanded in a gaseous form until ignited by his torch. The subsequent explosion extinguished the fire, although the worker was burned on his hands and arms before he could escape.
Rangers were conducting a wildlife checkpoint at Moran and arrived at the scene within 11 minutes of the request. They responded with the nearest available engine, which is a DOI engine on loan to the county through an MOU, and conducted a suppression entry. They then coordinated the life-flight evacuation of the burned worker before county firefighters arrived.

Command and investigation of the incident were assumed by Teton County fire officers upon their arrival.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/03/04 12:23:15 EST

Chris - The difference between an ASO and a real anvil, from what I have been told, all boils down to rebound. If you drop a hammer onto your ASO, does it bounce back up into your hand? If it does bounce well, you have an ugly anvil, and not an ASO regardless of the name on it. No rebound, and it's an ASO, again regardless of the name. (Yes, this does skip the hardened face conversation, but that's not pertinent to this question.)

Usually I hear smiths in my area talk about how you save work from having to pick the hammer back up after each swing, Instead, the bounce helps return it. So, you save some muscle work.

However, think about this... The same force that's lifting the hammer back up is also impacting the work. You smack down, the anvil smacks up, and you have the anvil doing part of your work for you. The more mass the anvil has under the face, the more efficient this is.

I have an ASO, and attempt to bounce hammers off of it for demonstration, but it makes my skin crawl, so I have never used it for the sake of comparison. I can feel the difference between my 100# and 130# fishers, though. Therefore, I think you will feek a differce.
   Monica - Wednesday, 11/03/04 13:02:25 EST

Graeme Bradley,

The simplest solution for keeping the bronze off of areas is to paint those areas with a thin paste of yellow ochre and water. When dry it will prevent the bronze from sticking. A jewelry supply house will have the yellow ochre, or you may find it at an art supply house. Large quantities could be found at a ceramic supply, the place that potters buy their clays and glazes. It is a prime ingredient in some glazes. You want the powder, not an emulsified pigment. An emulsified water color pigment would work just fine, but would be prohibitively expensive.

Since yellow ochre is a clay that is high in rust, from whence it derives its color, I wouldn't be surprised if you couldn't mix some rust powder into some clay and use that. I've never tried it, but it seems like it would work.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/03/04 13:14:19 EST

vicopper--it thought your post looked better with a sort of organic flow/stream of consciousness look to it...

Hmm ochre keeps it from sticking but does it help keep it from running over the top of it? I know this is used for silver soldering to control where the solder goes making use of the high surface tension of the molten solder.

If this works would something like soapstone work? Get a welder's soapstone and try it!

Alan, I'd go for cast steel---that chipping does look more like cast steel than cast iron dammage.

Tone, There is an acid test; I'll have to look it up again as I don't have it on hand. Have you tried a grinder test? If the eyes are forge welded and not just forged I'd suspect it might be WI myself---remember that during the transition period a bridge might be of mixed WI and MS.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/03/04 13:47:49 EST


It sounds like your looking to create some sort of shallow relief with the bronze.

You could try tracing your outline with one of those "crayons" they sell at the welding supply house. The mark they make always persists through a couple of heats, and may prevent the molten bronze pool from spreading, provided that it is thin enough. Sort of like when a stream of water on a flat surface is repelled by a wax crayon mark.

You could also try laying a welding bead in the desired outline, then pooling the bronze inside that. The welding bead would create a sort of bathtub for the molten bronze.
   - Tom T - Wednesday, 11/03/04 13:57:56 EST

PawPaw about that old anvil I tend to agree with you it would be difficult to make fabricate something of that nature at 50lbs. as earliest anvils were weighed to be and I saw an early anvil like this one in my younger years in europe where is it at?
   - Harold - Wednesday, 11/03/04 14:14:03 EST

PawPaw about that old anvil I tend to agree with you it would be difficult to make fabricate something of that nature at 50lbs. as earliest anvils were weighed to be and I saw an early anvil like this one in my younger years in europe where is it at?
   - Harold - Wednesday, 11/03/04 14:14:49 EST

PawPaw about that old anvil I tend to agree with you it would be difficult to make fabricate something of that nature at 50lbs. as earliest anvils were weighed to be and I saw an early anvil like this one in my younger years in europe where is it at?
   - Harold - Wednesday, 11/03/04 14:15:18 EST


I'm trying to find out where it is.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/03/04 14:32:04 EST

Typical Wrought Bridges: The age is about right. Generaly there are flat tension bars with teardrop shaped holes where the loop end was forge welded. ANY forge welding on a bridge indicates the parts are wrought. All the rest of the construction will be riveted or bolted. However, these construction methods continue to this day EXCEPT forge welding.

The acid test is described in of FAQ on wrought iron.

A number of folks have bought these old bridges for scrap OR been paid to haul them off. WI was selling for $1/lb US a few years ago.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/03/04 14:49:25 EST

Graeme: You might try a whiteout correction pen. I use these for marking on steel when the mark has to persist at hi temp like cutting and it works great! (Thank you Frank Turley) I suspect it would work to dam in the bronze if the flux doesnt wash it away. I notice that welding stores sell the same stuff for marking steel in an oversized bottle at an oversized price.

Yellow ochre! Who says there's never a copper around when you need one? :)
   adam - Wednesday, 11/03/04 15:04:36 EST

propane hoses: Re Bruce's note: - If you drop a piece of hot iron on the flexible rubber hose connecting the tank to the forge you will have a very exciting time. A good idea is to slip a length of flexible electrical conduit (those steel hoses made by coiling a strip of Al) over the hose.
   adam - Wednesday, 11/03/04 15:10:08 EST

Great idea so some of my friends would be worrying that the piece might break the concrete floor under the hose---Hi Patrick!---Did you cast a sleve for a Jib Crane into the pad when you poured?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/03/04 15:48:07 EST

   tim gochinski - Wednesday, 11/03/04 16:12:04 EST

Tim-- Give up! Cease! You are fighting a force of nature. Rust is what steel just naturally wants to be. Let it rust. It'll look great. Spray it with salt water or swimming pool chlorine to hasten the rusting. Then wire brush it. Oil it. Besides, you have no real choice, unless you want to powder coat it.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 11/03/04 16:43:04 EST

Thanks Guru, Thomas. I shoulda checked FAQs first, apologies. The bridge is as you described, I will salvage the forge welded sections only as they are most certainly WI and I bet the top grade. If y'all go to SERBC, I will bring some free samples for CSI members (as long as it lasts).
   Tone - Wednesday, 11/03/04 16:52:56 EST

In the European tradition of goldsmithing, the product you want is called "Anti-flux" and in America is called "Stop off" Wall colmalloy, and Haynes both make this product for the superalloy brazing alloys used in furnace brazing. May work for brass. Vicoppers Yellow Ochre past sounds like the Anti-flux I used in Europe.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/03/04 16:54:18 EST


SERBC? Soutn Eastern Regional Blacksmithing Conference?

Madison, Ga?
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/03/04 18:02:38 EST

South, not Soutn. PTP, PP!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/03/04 18:03:14 EST

Hey agout that old anvil their is one on ebay 200yrs. old a lot younger to pawpaws or tomflanagans on ebay for 175.00 starting price i prefer to make a bid on yours paw paw enen though a previous opinion said it wasnt that old I lost a fortune on a 57 corvette because i listened to a idiots advice that it wasnt original my fault not his so can I send you a bid mr. pawpaw?
   sal - Wednesday, 11/03/04 19:00:22 EST


I'm not the person selling the anvil, I just spread the word about it. I'm waiting for a message from the seller with information about how to bid on it. As soon as I hear from the seller, I'll post whatever information she sends me.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/03/04 19:21:47 EST

I was just wondering if a horse manicurist was preferably called a blacksmith.
   christina - Wednesday, 11/03/04 19:30:08 EST

What is a horse manicurist?
   christina - Wednesday, 11/03/04 19:31:50 EST


A farrier.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/03/04 20:38:30 EST

I need a simple less than one hundred word way of describing a power hammer to metalworking students who have never seen one.
   holly - Wednesday, 11/03/04 21:59:35 EST


A power hammer is a mecanical device used by a blacksmith to convert rotary motion into linear motion. It is also a mechanical device uses the up and down motion to raise an lower a large hammer head.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/03/04 22:47:05 EST

Holly a power hammer is a smart apprentice. It does what you tell it to.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/03/04 23:30:35 EST

Just wanted to reply to two posts:

The first concerned mounting a Baldor buffer. I have welded the 4" square tube upright post to a large truck rim and then filled the rim with every spare chain, vice, etc.. Never had a problem with it moving a bit and if I do want to relocate it, I just "unload" it.

The second is using the 240 amp welder for tig. I don't know about the Marquette, but doing this with a Lincoln buzz box will simply smoke it - its not built for this type of load (according to the welding shop tech's). Even if it worked, it would not come close to comparing to a real tig set-up. If you are welding 1/4" and less, you can look at the Miller Econotig which is much less cash than a full size Synchrowave.
   JPhillips - Thursday, 11/04/04 01:48:36 EST

Tim, treat with a phosphoric acid based product like "Extend" or "One Step"; It is available in spray cans at Advance Auto Parts. Converts the rust to black oxide primer which can then be painted with rust-oleum.
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 11/04/04 08:10:51 EST

does anyone have any information on a hamilton lathe/milling machine combo these where possiably used in school shops thank you terry
   - Terry Tallman - Thursday, 11/04/04 08:45:45 EST

Power Hammer: A blacksmith's machine for hammering heated steel. The action of the power hammer is controlled by a foot pedal while the smith holds the work and guides it between the hammer and the anvil. The primary function of the power hammer is to draw the work out to a thinner dimension but with the addition of supplementary tools, the power hammer can be used for cutting, texturing and a variety of other operations. (73 words)
   adam - Thursday, 11/04/04 09:38:39 EST


My setup has some exposure of the hose, and I've always contemplated just what would happen if... So you suggestion with the conduit is an excellent idea and I'll be putting it in place this week or next.

For me gas forges are like chain saws, useful, but catastrophic when things go badly wrong! Keeping the coal forge; it may be smokey, but it won't blow the roof off the strippin' shed.

Fixin' to rain in "torrents" on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 11/04/04 09:41:33 EST

I have been interested in recreational blacksmiting for a couple of years. I am joining the H.A.B.A (in Houston Tx) I've made "S" hooks with twists, Fireplace pokers, and a few tools. I have an anvil, but still heat with and oxyacetylene torch. I also have (and use)a stick welding machine and a wire feed welding machine.
A good while back I saw a hand forged device called a "Coffee Monkey." It hangs on the crossbar over a campfire, with a handle projecting out to the front about 15" or so. An attached hook on the back end of the handle, catches on the bottom rim of an enamaled coffee pot. When you pull dowm on the handle, the hook tips the coffee pot forward, and you pour a cup of coffee without handling a hot coffee pot.
Have you ever seen one, and where could I obtain a drawing or plans to make one.
Glenn Tate
   Glenn Tate - Thursday, 11/04/04 11:30:44 EST

how do you bring out the grain in domascus steel?
   - Mike Johnson - Thursday, 11/04/04 11:45:19 EST

Which is a better choice for an air supply to a coal forge for making blades? A hand crank blower or an electric blower with an air gate (and if electric blower, what output? 400 cfm? 100 cfm? or what?)
   Langley - Thursday, 11/04/04 12:42:37 EST

i want to build a coal forge.
and i want to forge swords, i was wondering if you can help me to with some tips to design it.

   Alberto - Thursday, 11/04/04 12:45:01 EST

Guru's... I have been trying to research the procedure and fluxing needed to tin several copper pots and ladles- but I want to use .999 silver as these are commissioned graduation pieces for a culinary class- and I can find references to using tallow and sulfer, and the swabbing methods- but for using the silver versus the tin- any differences in the flux? Any reference would be helpful- many thanks and be safe! -Duncan in Virginia
   Duncan - Thursday, 11/04/04 13:11:05 EST

Glen, this is a variation on a "kettle tilter". There is one shown in "Iron and Brass Implements of the English House" from the 19th century IIRC.

Mike: after you polish the piece you throughly degrease it and soak it in Ferric Chloride, Radio Shack PCB etching solution mixed 1:4 with water. Or you can soak it in hot vinegar---basically *any* acid will work to show the pattern; but you want it fairly dilute as strong acids will etch everything pretty much the same. The weak ones will provide the differences in etching you can see.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/04/04 13:12:18 EST

Jim Curtis,

I believe you are refering to the built in pressure regulation of those big hand tightening acme nuts. The ones used for connecting BBQ tanks to BBQ grills. They will limit the amount of pressure unless you defeat this "feature" somehow. I have run a slightly undersized drill thru these to defeat the built in pressure regulation, you should be able to see thru the acme nut when finished.

Hope this helps
   lazarus - Thursday, 11/04/04 13:17:00 EST

Langley, are you pattern welding the swords, will you be doing production work or just make a couple?

Pattern welding and production work can profit from powered air. Hobby work you are better off with a good hand crank---less likely to burn stuff up. A bad hand crank you are better off with bellows!

Duncan, tallow won't work at molten silver temps, keep sulfur *FAR* away from silver. I'd propably try borax like you use in silver soldering; but the melting temps of copper and silver are fairly close. Why not make sheffield plate and then form the pots and ladles?

Alberto,Langley; do you have experience in forging already? If not I would advise you to learn to forge and then work your way up to swordsmithing. We get a lot of such questions that I see as "I want to drive a formula 1 race car, but I don't know how to drive at all. In 100 words or less teach me all I need to know."

Please refer to the anvilfire FAQs page and read the Swordmaking one.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/04/04 13:26:55 EST

eBay item #6129221214
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 11/04/04 13:33:10 EST

Yes, I am currently blacksmithing using a gas forge for large decorative ironwork. However for forging knives as a hobby, specifically, what is the best blower for a COAL forge - hand crank or electric? Is there more control with hand crank? Is electric harder to regulate? What cfm output for electric is best?
   Langley - Thursday, 11/04/04 13:39:14 EST


The alternitive for getting full available pressure to the inlet side of your adjustible regulator is to go to your local hardware store and purchase a 1/4" MPT x full flow  Hard Nose POL 7/8 hex, which threads into the inside threads of the propane valve instead of onto the outside threads, and has no such pressure regulation "feature" to protect the sheeple from themselves.

Again HTH
Adam ( lazarus)
   lazarus - Thursday, 11/04/04 13:48:31 EST

Well I started forging around 1981 if I count on my toes correctly, with an electric blower---BTW the Size is dependent on the forge---then went to a hand crank some years later and decided I liked it better. Some years after that I built a double lung bellows and decided I liked it better than the hand crank! Course I had a friend who also had a DL bellows and I tried his and *hated* *it*, tried some other hand cranks and hated them.

What makes them enjoyable is smoothness and ease of use if you have to crank like a fiend or haul on the bellows pole with half your weight you're not doing it right. I could pump my bellows with my pinkie---and they took up most of the bed of my pickup when we travelled to demos! My hand crank will make 3 complete revolutions when I take my hand off it cranking at normal force/speed.

Electric blowers tend to eat your pieces as you can take your attention away and OOOOPS! SOFA has a nice idea their electric blowers have foot switches so you can set it up that it's only on when you have your foot on it.

Don't think of a forge as a set it up and leave it situation; I've run all three types of air supply into the same forge sometimes changeing it around in the course of a day---pattern welding profits from having a constant air supply that doesn't take your attention.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/04/04 14:28:47 EST

Casting refractory: Fixing to make some burner tapers out of Mizzou castable. What is the main function of the taper? Is it to preserver laminar flow as the stream expands. Whats the magic behind the 1:12 number and how sensitive is this - is 1:10 ok?

Last time I cast mizzou, I used paper mache forms (a tip from Jock) for the inner cavity which mostly worked great but it got a bit waterlogged from sitting in the wet castable for the 12 hours of setup time. Whats a good way to waterproof the papier mache?

Papier Mache (thats papeeyay mashay ) is an underrated medium IMO. A google search reveals an entire subculture devoted to making amazing things out of this stuff. Also, its the best way to stay current with the news :)
   adam - Thursday, 11/04/04 14:32:26 EST

Has anyone had any experience with using large (16 in dia.) ceramic drain tile as a shell for a gas forge? I would use kaowool + ceramic coating to insulate it, and would use it indoors only. Is this inviting a steam explosion if the tile wasn't thoroughly dried and slowly brought up to heat for the first few firings?
   - Wild Bill - Thursday, 11/04/04 14:33:00 EST

Has anyone had any experience with using large (16 in dia.) ceramic drain tile as a shell for a gas forge? I would use kaowool + ceramic coating to insulate it, and would use it indoors only. Is this inviting a steam explosion if the tile wasn't thoroughly dried and slowly brought up to heat for the first few firings?
   - Wild Bill - Thursday, 11/04/04 14:33:14 EST

Paw Paw, That be it. I met you at the Battle of Jonesboro with my #3 son, Connor. You signed The Revolutionary Blacksmith for him. Let me verify that the forged eye sections are in fact WI. I will forge some tonight and spark test some, see what happens and report back later.
   Tone - Thursday, 11/04/04 14:41:44 EST

Bill do you mean a ceramic drain pipe 16" dia?. If so its not a good choice IMO. It's way big. It probably wont take the thermal cycling (even the outer shell gets above boiling). It will be hard to work without special tools and it will be hard to attach legs, handle etc. Not saying it wont work just that thin sheet metal is a better choice
   adam - Thursday, 11/04/04 14:57:40 EST

I don't know whether I'll make it to SERBC or not, but I've been asked to come back to the battle at Central, South Carolina to do a first person of Sgt. G.W. Tucker.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 11/04/04 15:02:06 EST

Wild Bill, that sounds like WAY overkill to me. Thin sheet steel with an extra inch of kaowool will serve you far better, plus you could move it around if you wanted.

Langley: I like a hand crank on my coal forge because it does provide more control. Electric is very handy, but as Thomas said it's far easier to burn stuff up with. I have never met a bellows I cared for, but I haven't met that many either.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 11/04/04 15:12:57 EST

Wierd looking anvil on Ebay item number: 6129173110
Any ideas?
   Bob G - Thursday, 11/04/04 15:28:25 EST

Bob, that's a rather common shape for an anvil for more years than the london pattern one has been. it would make a great one to take to LH demo's of Renaissance times.

Unfortunately you have to pick it up yourself and the jet fare drives the price up a bit!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/04/04 15:34:14 EST

Kayne and Son's Blacksmiths Depot officialy launched today with a beautiful new web site and dynamic catalog with search. Check it out!
   - guru - Thursday, 11/04/04 15:43:39 EST

Bob, That is a beautiful old "stake" anvil. As Thomas noted this style predates the London pattern. It was also popular much longer in Spain than elsewhere. One of our rotating home page photos from Gill Fahrenwald's collection is of a Mexican military blacksmith sometime in the early 1900's working at a very similar anvil.

Well into the 1700's lighter stake anvils were commonly used for their horns in shops that had large plain hornless anvils for heavy forging. It was very common to have both. As someone mentioned here the other day, the London pattern and other modern anvil shapes are a sort of Swiss Army multi function tool.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/04/04 15:57:12 EST

Ceramic drain tile as forge Wild Bill, These are not a "refractory" clay and at forge temperatures may melt. If you want to go this route be sure to use flue liners. Not however that the red terracota ones are not as high a temperature material as the tan ones. I have fired ceramic clay tiles in my gas forge and managed to BOIL some of them. . . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/04/04 16:03:25 EST

Paper-Mache': Adam, Any water proof coating would work to prevent softening. Spray lacquer like Kryalon, a heavy wax coating . . . I was going to paint mine with ITC-100 and warm to cure with a torch before using heavier wet refractory over the paper. Then burn out the paper on curing.

I don't think the taper is too critical but it has been found to be the optimum. As noted earlier, the step between pipe and slip on nozzel creates the necessary turbulance for "holding" the flame.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/04/04 16:11:58 EST

Stake anvils... Anyone have an idea on how early the stake anvils were used?
   Monica - Thursday, 11/04/04 16:50:30 EST

Well the small Bickern goes way back---sort of like 1/2 a stake anvil but small.

If I get a chance I'll see how far back I can chase it in my still partially packed (ran out of bookcases) library tonight.

Off the cuff I'd bet the high middle ages with no trouble---remember a fellow working on a helm for a guy wearing only mail---puts it pre-1300; now to track down that picture again...

How early do you need to go with it? (or when can I stop looking)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/04/04 17:13:58 EST

Tinning with fine silver: Duncan,

For fluxing silver, borax will work. A mix of borax and boric acid is better, and there are some proprietary flux mixtures such as Battern's that are even better. But I will caution you that you're embarking on the road to frustration and probable failure if you try to "tin" a copper utensil with fine silver. The difference in melting points if fairly narrow, on the order of 250ºF, and the copper will be very active at that temperature. This is based on pure copper, too. If you are using an alloy of copper, the melting point may be considerably lower, making the margin even trickier. If I had to do it, I would do it in an inert atmosphere furnace, but I would look to other methods first.

If the copper utensils are already made, then electroplating would be the way to go. It is a simple process that requires nothing too elaborate and you can get all the supplies at a jewelry supply house. You are more likely to get a uniform layer of silver by plating that by tinning, as well.

If you haven't yet made the copper items, consider the idea of creating Sheffield plate as Thomas Powers suggested? Sheffield plate is just a sandwich of silver over copper, and is very useful because it can be forged or drawn or rolled and the two metals retain their relative thicknesses. This is due to the similarity in ductility of the two metals. Diffusion bonding is the best way to laminate the two metals, though it can be done by fusion and/or soldering as well. To maximize the potential of the high ductility though, you should use diffusion bonding. Check out Steve Midgett's books on Mokume Gane' for some information on diffusion bonding.

   vicopper - Thursday, 11/04/04 19:07:56 EST

Hamilton, of Baltimore Md. made cute little lathes and milling machines. Many of them did end up in school shops, as they were a good size to learn on. There are guys who like them, and buy them, but they are not a collectible in terms of desirablity or prices.In fact, almost no machine tools are, at least younger than 100 years old or so. So they arent worth any huge amount- in perfect shape, with all the factory accesories, maybe a few hundred bucks. No parts or manuals are available from Hamilton, or practically speaking, from anywhere else- last I heard they made dental equipment, and no one left at the company knows anything about the machine tools. They were last made probably in the 60's, most of the ones around are from the late 50's. There are a few guys over at the practicalmachinist.com website who own hamiltons, and could answer some questions.
   - Ries - Thursday, 11/04/04 19:52:40 EST

SEM: We had one of these at the last place I worked. It was useful for two things: looking for evidence of brittle fracture (cleavage) and using it to find trace elements (by X-ray Dispersion) on fracture surfaces that might help determine exactly when something had failed. I used my light metallograph MUCH more often than the SEM. They are relatively inexpensive now compared to 30 years ago but I doubt you can buy one for less than $100,000 that is worth having. Maintenance can be expensive, too. Anything that is lacking in texture looks like a flat, gray slab on the SEM so polished and etched samples are useless.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/04/04 20:07:11 EST

QC, how about a laser scanning confocal? I really do not think that the microtome would be happy cutting 60nm pieces of steel to put in the TEM... not to mention the distortion of grain structure probably involved (Grin). If that (or a regular light microscope?) won't work I'll give up and stick to shade tree metallurgy. Lots of people have had luck with it...
   T. Gold - Thursday, 11/04/04 21:20:14 EST

I am a welder/metalworker. I primarily do functional artwork as I like to call it. A friend asked me to make her a dinner tiangle. My question is, how do I obtain a black finish like she wants that won't chip and that resists rust? I have found out about some expensive and caustic chemical treatments that do not appeal to me. What other options are there? I work with mild steel. Thanks
   Tim Kientz - Thursday, 11/04/04 22:15:28 EST

T. Gold:

"I really do not think that the microtome would be happy cutting 60nm pieces of steel..."

Whoa! 60 nautical mile pieces of steel are really long, but I guess that's how you build bridges from one islant to another out there. ;-)

Triangle Coating; Tim:

The low tech, high labor solution? Instruct the owner to wipe it down with oil every week or so. If they can ring it, they can wipe it. At least this wouldn't affect the tone. Others here may have better ideas.

Lots of rain on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 11/04/04 23:03:33 EST

jJust out of curiosety will coal go bad being left out in the rain? i left Coal outin the rain and i dont know if i should use it. should I? Should i not/ would it be okay as is?
   mr anonymity - Friday, 11/05/04 02:40:25 EST

When did double chambered bellows start being used? I know I have the information here somewhere but now I need it, I can't find it.
Thanks, Wayne

   Coalforge - Friday, 11/05/04 02:46:21 EST

I used to be the 'system expert' on SEM's.... But then we used then to measure holes and lines and other structures on computer chips in the making....
   Ralph - Friday, 11/05/04 05:25:33 EST

Wet coal....
Having the coal out in the rain will not hurt it. It will only wash off the 'fines', Which according to some folks is a bad thing as it could be used as well.
The biggest issue will be the ecological impact.
   Ralph - Friday, 11/05/04 05:27:34 EST

Pure iron:
Email that I recieved from Rocky Mountain Smiths

[RMSmiths] Possible return of Pure Iron to the USA
Anyone who got their hands on this material knows how wonderful it was to work with. But, just
like many a good thing........the east coast importer stopped bring it to the USA. While it is true
that it was expensive, but the ease of working with it more than made up for the cost in reduced
forging time.

If there are enough people out there interested, the possibility of importing it are very good. Right
now I have standing pre-orders for 5,000 lbs. What needs to happen is this number has to be more
like 20,000 lbs in order to get a break on the shipping.

So, if you are interested, please reply and pass this message on to others who might be interested.

In the mean time, check out the link: http://www.pureiron.com/


Rome Hutchings
The Prairie Forge
13633 Ferman Avenue NW
Clearwater, MN 55320
(763) 878-1694
rome.hutchings**AT**theprairieismygarden.com (replace the **at**)
   Habu - Friday, 11/05/04 08:21:08 EST

Wet Coal: Some coal can absorb water or has natural moisture content that can be dried out. In handling coal at mines a great deal of water is used to keep down dust and sometimes to move the coal. So being out in the weather will not hurt it. In many types of coal the water is sealed in too well to dry out so keeping it dry would not make much difference.

However, I have found that coal kept indoors or out of the weather is easier to get burning. Being dry may also increase the BTU a bit. On the other hand, the British commonly use fines or "breeze" and wet it down to keep it together.
   - guru - Friday, 11/05/04 09:31:30 EST

Double Chambered Bellows: The best we know they were invented in the 1500's or there about but did not see popular use until the 1700's.
   - guru - Friday, 11/05/04 09:32:48 EST

Double chambered bellows; are you interested in when they were invented or in when blacksmith's started using them? They appear to have been used by goldsmiths earlier than blacksmiths....

didn't get to hit the books last night.
   Thomas P - Friday, 11/05/04 10:37:49 EST

Stake Anvils: Like your common modern anvils developed over a LONG time. In this area what you have to do is define a "stake anvil". I would call it any anvil that had a point or shank to set into the earth or a piece of wood. In that case they are VERY early. Many of the early hornless anvils that appear to set in the ground actualy have a stake end that is set into a stump that is burried below ground level. This made early anvils look like a giant tooth with a "root" and may likely have been inspired by this organic predecessor.

The earliest anvil image I have is from the Greek vase artist known as the "Foundry Painter" (500 to 470 BC). This shows a round toped anvil similar in size to what you see in traditional Japansese shops. Since a small lump setting on the ground will not work you must assume that there is more anvil hidden underground. Of course the Greek anvil may be iron OR bronze, there is no way to tell. The Greek society of the time was a transitional one changing from bronze tools to iron tools and using much of both.

One of the earliest known anvils is a bronze age anvil. It has various features such as a horn and bending lugs. But it also has a tapered stake for anchoring in wood. Since this predates the Greek vase painter's anvil you can assume that the early iron anvils were likely to be stake anvils. But this is an assumption, not a proven fact.

In any case, the style predates the iron age. .

   - guru - Friday, 11/05/04 11:06:30 EST

Wrought Iron? Forged some to a 8th inch point at cherry red heat no splitting, acted like mild steel. Broke off the tip, coarse grain structure. Heated to non magnetic and quenched in water, file cuts same as non heated areas. Do the higher grades of WI exhibit the wood grain/slag structure?
   Tone - Friday, 11/05/04 11:48:12 EST

Cross: Tim Gochinski, Sorry I missed your earlier message. In Europe they make a lot of funerary markers (crosses) of metal. Most are forged from stainless steel for durability and low maintenance.

Although acid cleaning gets into nooks and cranies it can also end up staying there and causing corrosion. To revent this the acid must be neutralized with an alkaline substance such as a baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) solution. This kills the acid but the resulting reaction leaves salt which is also corrosive and must be rinsed off.

The common acid to start with is Muratic Acid (impure dilute hydrochloric acid). When killed with bicarbonate of soda the sodium and chlorine combine to make common salt.

When done you have large quantities of acid, alkaline and salt in water to dispose of. . .

SO, I usualy recommend you spend the money to have a sand blaster do the cleaning for you. This may not get into the tightest cracks but it is no worse than using acid that stays put.

Over the clean sandblasted surface (DO NOT get oily hand prints or other dirt on it) apply a zinc powder paint. This IS NOT powder coating, it is a paint with very little binder and 98% zinc powder. Be sure to cover the whole piece. This is a little tricky as the zinc paint is identical in color to the sandblasted steel. This is what is known as cold galvanizing and made by CRC and sold at automotive and professional paint suppliers (not Sears or Home Depot).

Over the zinc paint apply a neutral primer. I prefer red oxide Dupont high speed laquer surfacer (primer). This is a professional product and requires a spray gun and lots of lacquer thinner.

Finally apply a top coat of your choice of anything. For common work I use machinery or exterior enamel. For something high class I would start with a color lacquer base coat and then use other paints that are sprayed or rubbed on to create surface textural effects or antiquing. Various gilding paints are good for this.

Cost of the paint job, a minimum of $350 US in materials and services (the sand blasting). On a large job this is not much but the sand blasting will also be higher. On a small job the paint can easily be more than the metalwork. And THIS is one of the biggest problems many metal workers have in figuring the cost of a piece, they forget or ignore the cost of a finish OR leave it up to the customer.

For many small items the cost of using stainless steel for the whole job is easily paid for by the costs of painting. On the other hand when a shop is busy they usualy have left over materials that can be applied to other jobs. I have painted numerous things using paint left over from auto and machinery paint jobs. . . One guitar had a metalic blue and ivory paint job that matched my 1961 Pontiac Tempest. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/05/04 12:08:11 EST

Tone, really good wrought still displays some slag, but it can be darn near microscopic. This can also account for the lack of splitting at such a low temperature. Congratulations on your score!
   Alan-L - Friday, 11/05/04 13:50:21 EST

Wrought question IF you have low carbon steel then you need to heat well above the non-magnetic point to harden (an orange rather than low red). If it hardens at all it is not wrought.

The last big industrial made wrought was made by the Beyer process where they started with cast iron, converted it to carbonless iron by the Bessemer process, then ADDED a special slag mix and poured, pressed and rolled the product. This produced what I would term a "faux" wrought iron. Instead of the slag being part of the smelting process it was added later.

Then there was puddled wrought iron which only had a small amount of slag from the surface of the puddle. This process uses pure decarbonized from a pool of cast iron. The pure iron has a higher melting point and forms a skin on the CI. Although there are fine layers of oxide there is not much slag.

SO. . there is wrought and there is wrought.

You can also do some cold bending. Although wrought likes being worked very hot it is also very ductile at room temperature.

So you can have grainy wrought or very low carbon steel which is just as good or better for many purposes.
   - guru - Friday, 11/05/04 14:24:38 EST

Paint on Triangle: Tim, All you can do it put a thin coat of paint on it and tell the client it is going to chip and rust. Any finish on this device is going to get chipped or marred so that it rusts. You want thin paint because thick chips worse than thin.

Or do like Uncle Atli suggested and have them oil or wax it regularly. If an unpainted iron/steel item is maintained with oil or wax it developes a rich dark brown color that is semi protective.

   - guru - Friday, 11/05/04 14:33:41 EST

I have a copy of the Shire Album on Egyptian Metalworking, have to see if I can find an "anvil" pic in it...

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/05/04 16:03:17 EST

T. Gold, I don't know a darned thing about laser scanning confocal. Sounds expensive. As I said, I prefer light microscopy because that is where my greatest experience is. I tried a dowsing stick but never had the touch.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 11/05/04 19:57:48 EST

LOL. I will try a light microscope then... See what I can see :) Thanks for the help, QC and Gavain.
   T. Gold - Friday, 11/05/04 20:33:08 EST

hey guru i had a idea for the i forge section why not do a demo on anvils everyone needs one and they allways have questions so why not?anyway just an idea.
   - John S - Friday, 11/05/04 21:27:15 EST

Anvils. Been away from the computer for a few days. The "old anvil" that PawPaw brought to our attention has maybe a "French look", at least the horn area. Gut level. If you google enclume [images], you'll get an interesting view of all sorts of anvils in France, and some of them not made in France.

The so-called stake anvil is similar to one of several brought to this country by the tool collector, Kenneth Lynch of Wilton, CT. After his death, a number of this style were sold at the estate dispersal sales. Many of his old metalworking tools were gathered in France.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/06/04 08:47:45 EST

BREEZE. Guru, you mentioned the British using fines. I have some coal (supposedly Pocahontas #9) that is 90% fines. I have tried adding water to make a paste and keeping the air blast high until coke forms, but I dont think I have it quite right? What is the proper method for maintaining a proper fire with breeze?
   Blackhammer - Saturday, 11/06/04 09:05:07 EST

Blackhammer, As I understand it, fines are from green coal and breeze is from coke. If you have Pocahontas fines mixed with water, you should be able to build a high cone (ring) of the same around the fire pot and somewhat into the firepot. The fire should be 'trenchy' or conical. I don't cone in front where the work enters, but I make a flat shelf of coal. The cone should be steeper than the angle of repose, because it is wet. Use plenty. An option is to put some coal on top of the fire, a kind of roof, what we call a 'cave fire'. This latter is a good reducing type of fire, but requires your attention to replenish the coal/coke on top.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/06/04 10:14:54 EST

Blackhammer, Frank described what I would do. I think you were trying to go too fast. The coking starts once the fire is fairly hot but with a low blast. That grade of coal should clump together somewhere below the coking temperature as it melts and then it will form large lumps. It often helps if you have some leftover coke to start the core of the fire with so that the fines do not blow out of the fire when they dry. Once the fire is coking then it is important to contantly feed the burning pile from the outside.

Coal fires are living breathing organic thing that you have to learn how to feed and cultivate. Every type of coal acts a little differently and every forge behaves a little differently. Once you know what to pay attention to all the little details just blend into KNOWING. These things are nearly impossible to explain in words and there are too many variables. So you just try and try again and with practice the knowledge will come.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/06/04 14:18:43 EST

iForge on anvils: John, I have a series on anvils originaly published on our 21st Century page and it is also linked on the FAQ's page Selecting an Anvil article.

I have been collecting anvil photos for years for an article on the history and development of anvils and the various styles. "In the beginning there was a rock. . ."

This is just one of the many articles that are in the works but waiting while critical things get done.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/06/04 14:27:02 EST

John if you are looking for eye candy check out:

   adam - Saturday, 11/06/04 14:40:26 EST

T. Gold, ASM publishes a Metals Handbook on "Metallography and Microstructures" with about 1000 pages of photomicrographs of the basic industrial metallic systems. New, I think they are around $160. Amazon might have a used one. Not a bad book but it never seems to illustrate exactly what it is I am looking for. I went to Ft. Pillow State Historic Site today for the annual fall Civil War re-enactment. There was supposed to be a blacksmith demo. Well, this blacksmith cancelled out and there I stand with nothing but my hammer.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/06/04 15:20:42 EST

Adam, those are some wonderful old anvils. However, I did not see a Fabrique de Chine Piece La Caca. The collector is obviously just too discriminating.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/06/04 15:29:30 EST

in that gallery, there was an anvil where the side sloped outward away from the face. what was that done for?
   HavokTD - Saturday, 11/06/04 16:41:47 EST

Hello, I just got a 160-180lb mousehole anvil, its very very old, I have read somewhere that they started putting pritchle holes in anvils around the early 1800's...Is this true of mouse holes? for mine has no pritchle and i am trying to figure an age.
   Marcus - Saturday, 11/06/04 16:50:46 EST

Just wondering if anyone knows of a good coal source or 2 in western Pa. I live in Butler which is about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh any help would be great for this aspiring blacksmith.
   Ben Christy - Saturday, 11/06/04 17:49:25 EST

Marcus. Pritchel holes came about 1840. There are other things that tell if the anvil is older but they are subtle variations in style. If you want the full history of Mousehole Forge see our book review page. We sell the book.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/06/04 18:12:18 EST

   Marcus - Saturday, 11/06/04 18:36:22 EST

European Anvils: HavokTD, This is a common feature (sloping outer edge of face) of many European anvils, mostly Germanic and Austrian and is still a current style.

This feature predates modern anvils with horns. I believe it was to give the anvil a narrower face on a heavy anvil AND make a softer, less likely to break, outer edge where smiths work quite heavily on the corner. On later anvils the flat sloped face is radiused into the horn, thus extending the length of the horn's radiused far edge. On some anvils the sloped face is distinctly flat with edges and on the Austrian style it blends into the body with a radius.

Many of the surfaces of anvils are just the style or what the designer THOUGHT would be useful. The step on English and some French anvils is the result of welding the top plate on above the horn. On other European anvils they blended the hard plate into the horn which is harder to do. So is the step a design feature or a hapenstance? Once you learn to work on an anvil with a step it becomes a useful feature which you miss on other anvils. But if you never have one you find other ways to do the sam tasks.

As mentioned early in the week, modern anvils are a multi-purpose tool like a Swiss Army Knife and have features for everyone and not all are used OR have been adopted by all. The horn was originaly an add on for horseshoe makers and later the pritichel hole was added for the same group. The horn is useful for all types of work other than making shoes and we all use the pritchel hole for punchiing. Several modern makers have taken the pritichel hole one step further and made a row of different sized holes which are very handy for punching.

Look at the anvil on the above link labled "armourers anvil". I have seen several of this style and they all have the feature that they can be laid on their back and sides to use the various curved surfaces. The one in the photograph has definite indications that it was used quite a bit that way.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/06/04 18:36:55 EST

I use coal that is mined in Pennsylvania from Blaschack, in Mahony City PA. I get it by the bag from the Hardware Co. I work for in Massachusetts. Not sure where Mahony City is in relation to where you are but I find it to be good coal .
   Harley - Saturday, 11/06/04 19:39:16 EST


If combining a wall hanger (Aluminum blade) and guard/tsuba don't you experience electrolosys from the combined 2 different metals and moisture (in the air) I've seen it happen in the electrical trade and it is accelerated by the electricity. Any problems ever noted and if so, how do you overcome it.
   Bradford - Saturday, 11/06/04 19:40:21 EST

Thanks for the replies. I'll try your suggestions and post the results.
   Blackhammer - Saturday, 11/06/04 21:50:50 EST

hello guru:
about myself,i guess you could call me a bright eyed courious 58 year old,from kentucky,who retired early,and am just now,"probably too lately" getting into smithing,i am studing a couple of books on smithing.
one of the fuels that comes up in my studies is a fuel called,"breeze" and i have no idea what this is,but the writers say that it is a good substitute for coal and easier to obtain.
could you please give me some imfo.on this fuel,your opinion of it,and from where it may be ordered,or purchased.
i am goeing to purchase some coal from either the pocahontas,or the sewell vain in wv. but i am very courious about this,"breeze"
i would be greatfull for any imformation you may give me.
thank you:
norse courtney

   norse courtney - Saturday, 11/06/04 23:39:58 EST

Well egyptian metalworking (ancient) used the usual *rock* with basalt, diorite and granite specified...

However I have a german book on Roman crafts that does seem to show a stake anvil being used by goldsmiths---House of Vettier (sp) in Pompey so that nails it down to 1st century AD---for goldsmiths. The blacksmiths were using a "mushroomed cube" type of anvil.

I once ran across a cite for a book on iron age smith grave finds above/below? the alps; but fool that I was I didn't copy down the exact info on it and have never been able to track it down again---it's in german too.

Breeze is coaked coal but not the heavy "industrial coke" but more like what you get in the smith's forge. I know of no source for it. In general working with commercial coke requires heavy duty firepots to avoid burn out.

Built a tong ract today for the shop, details across the street, too tuckered to type!

   Thomas P - Sunday, 11/07/04 00:02:22 EST

Hey there,
What type of steel would you advise for sword, I know your probly thinking that it depends on a lot of aspects, but just in general,
Thx Kevin
   Kevin - Sunday, 11/07/04 01:05:15 EST

What is a cold roll and a hot roll?
   Kevin - Sunday, 11/07/04 01:17:39 EST

hey again, what are the uses of the different shapes that the metals come in. hexes and cylinders, and squares. Sorry about all the questions tonight, i'm tryin to learn though.
   Kevin - Sunday, 11/07/04 01:28:22 EST

Hey Kevin:
Welcome to the world where metal is regarded as a thermoplastic material. (get it hot and it's plastic)
First, fair warning;...sword making requires all the skills of basic blacksmithing plus. Going straight for it ( blades) as many of us are inclined to do yields a heck of a lot of frustration.
So, first, learn the basics and get good with a hammer.
For a sword, you will want a fairly high carbon steel, probably a modern alloy. That is rather fussy stuff and has to be worked just right or you get garbage. Get it too hot and it's junk, hit it too cold and it cracks but doesn't show till you have another 100 hours in it...and so on.
You are very lucky, this used to be secret knowledge, but much of it is here at Anvilfire.
There is an article about beginners wanting to build swords, there is a section called getting started...there's all kinds of knowledge tucked away in the nooks and corners of Anvilfire...the better part of an education in blacksmithing....You win...if you have the stuff to take the knowledge and actually use it. Are you stubborn, creative , mechanically inclined and like playing with fire? This is the place.

Ummmm. cold rolled steel is ground and work hardened hot rolled steel more or less. Same stuff, different surface..not enough carbon for a blade ( that's probably what you are asking here, no?)
Don't be sorry about questions...unless you are embarassed at being too lazy to find the answers here, as you might well be. Most of your questions are also answered in the Guru page archives. Dig brother bear.
   - pete F - Sunday, 11/07/04 03:29:25 EST

Hey Kevin:
Welcome to the world where metal is regarded as a thermoplastic material. (get it hot and it's plastic)
First, fair warning;...sword making requires all the skills of basic blacksmithing plus. Going straight for it ( blades) as many of us are inclined to do yields a heck of a lot of frustration.
So, first, learn the basics and get good with a hammer.
For a sword, you will want a fairly high carbon steel, probably a modern alloy. That is rather fussy stuff and has to be worked just right or you get garbage. Get it too hot and it's junk, hit it too cold and it cracks but doesn't show till you have another 100 hours in it...and so on.
You are very lucky, this used to be secret knowledge, but much of it is here at Anvilfire.
There is an article about beginners wanting to build swords, there is a section called getting started...there's all kinds of knowledge tucked away in the nooks and corners of Anvilfire...the better part of an education in blacksmithing....You win...if you have the stuff to take the knowledge and actually use it. Are you stubborn, creative , mechanically inclined and like playing with fire? This is the place.

Ummmm. cold rolled steel is ground and work hardened hot rolled steel more or less. Same stuff, different surface..not enough carbon for a blade ( that's probably what you are asking here, no?)
Don't be sorry about questions...unless you are embarassed at being too lazy to find the answers here, as you might well be. Most of your questions are also answered in the Guru page archives. Dig brother bear.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 11/07/04 03:29:45 EST

Norse Courtney, sounds like you got hold of an English book on smithing. It is as Thomas says, just the coked form of soft coal that forms in your forge as it burns. Coke is to coal as charcoal is to wood, mostly carbon with the volatiles burned out.

Don't nkow where Mayslick is, I used to live in Morgantown. If you're close-ish to Louisville get yourself over to Cumberland Elkhorn Coal co. and get a half-ton of their smithing coal. Four years ago that set me back all of $55 and I just now ran out of it. It is not as clean as Pocohontas, and smokes considerably more, but it's still good coal. If you're in Eastern KY, I'd check the mines. I keep hearing about some small operators who'll load you up for $40/ton or less if you bring a dump truck and act like you know what you're doing. The further east you go in KY the better the coal seems to get.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 11/07/04 08:20:28 EST

Bradford, electolysis is simply accelerated oxidation. Keep the oxygen away from the metal, no oxidation. Wax or clear lacquer come to mind. Having said that, stainless steel REQUIRES oxygen to maintain passivity. The chromium in the steel needs oxygen to heal any breaches in the chromium oxide layer that makes stainless resistant to corrosion. Don't use it where it will get no oxygen, such as in standing water, etc.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/07/04 08:32:28 EST

Just ordered some Kaowool from the store here. Got it delivered in 3 days. Gonna re do my fire brick forge into a kaowool lined propane tank forge. So now comes the question. I know I can use fire bricks for the floor, a poured refractory, or a kiln shelf. I lean towards the solidness of the poured refractory, but would like to hear comments on the pros and cons of the different floors. Thankya.
   Bob H - Sunday, 11/07/04 10:33:36 EST

Question for "Quenchy". I always wanted to call him that. :] There seem to be a lot of knives on the market made from stainless steel. There seems to be a lot of different types of stainless steel. AUS, 440, etc. Quite a bit is just marked as stainless. But which one makes a better blade? I know that I hate my Swiss Army Knife, because the blade is hard to sharpen and does not stay sharp long. So if I was to buy another knife, I would tend towards a carbon steel blade. So can you enlighten me/us, as to what makes a good stainless steel for knife blades? Thank you.
   Bob H - Sunday, 11/07/04 10:38:07 EST

Hot Roll and Cold Roll Steel I just posted a FAQ from a previous post on this subject. Click the link.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/07/04 11:03:48 EST

Bob both are good. Brick are more convenient of course but unless you can find "soaps", you will have 2 1/2" of firebrick to heat up, also is the firebrick flux resistant? With poured or rammed refractory you can make a floor just 3/4" thick and back it up with a couple of inches of kaowool and you can choose a refractory that is resistant to flux.

I have had good luck with ANH's Mizzou, a castable and also Bartells Pyramid Super Airset, which is rammable (they no longer make the Pyramid Super Airset but I imagine there is a replacement product)
   adam - Sunday, 11/07/04 12:44:37 EST

Refractory Choices: Bob, As Adam pointed out the brick may be a bit heavy unless it is split or half thick brick. Full thickness brick is a good choice for large forges but increases the heat up time of small forges. Most refractory brick are quite flux resistant as they are designed to use in foundry opperations where they are attacked by large amounts of flux and metal oxides.

Kiln shelf is flux resistant and a good thickness for a small lightweight forge. It is quite strong but a tad brittle.

All castable is weaker than hard fired refractories such as foundry refractory brick and kiln shelf. However it is economical can be molded into odd shapes. To prevent unused refractory mix from aging store it in a sealed moisture tight container like a 5 gallon plastic bucket with lid.

I prefer using split bricks. I've considered carrying them in our on-line store as I have a supplier of them. But they are pricey and being heavy they are expensive to ship.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/07/04 13:29:12 EST

After a long hiadus I'm soon returning to metal work and I plan on drawing upon the expertise of this distinguished forum in setting up my shop. My present question concerns a power hammer set up specifically designed to make drill steels my wife discovered in an old mining area in SE Arizona last week.

She found the remains of a blacksmith shop that apparently serviced an area of substantial mining activity. The machine in question is labeled SULLIVAN 1215F. It has both a vertical and a horizontal working plane. There were dies for forming drill steel shats and points through out the shop proximity. The forge associated with the hammer appears to have been a gas fired, a conventional coal firepot was also found. The rancher who has lived in the area all his life new very little about it. I have photos I could post if I could receive instruction in that regard. Is this a machine worth persuing to restore? What powered it? I couldn't quite figure it out. Any info would be appreciated.

Frank Turley, how are you? I took your course in 1989 and am finaly ready to set up shop.
   Geoff Graham - Sunday, 11/07/04 17:02:58 EST

Bob H-- It's that pesky, abrasive pocket lint that does it for the Swiss Army blades, My Benchmade Emerson, one of the best knives I have ever used, has a blade made of ATS 34, and a top flight knifemaker in Santa Fe, Bob Terzuola, uses it in his pricey tactical folders, too, as do other custom knifemakers. My Opinel French peasant's knife is carbon, though, and so are Case, Kabar, and Cattaraugus blades and they certainly hold up, too!
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 11/07/04 17:49:11 EST


Use the link User Gallery under Navigate Anvilfire to go to the site. If you have not joined, you will need to do that before you will be able to post pictures. When you are registered, create a new album with your name on it, then follow the directions to post pictures to that album. Personally speaking, I'd love to see the pictures.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 11/07/04 18:19:24 EST

Geoff, I'm fine; gettin' older day by day. Maybe some of the hi tek guys can help you. I confess I don't know squat about Sullivans. Buena Suerte.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/07/04 18:24:17 EST

Sullivan Hammer: Geoff, Sullivan made these specialized hammers for exactly what you found it doing. Ingersol Rand also made a similar machine. Sulivan also makes air compressors and a big honking one powered this beast. Sullair Corp is the brand they sell their engine powered air compressor under and you have probably seen hundreds if not thousands in you lifetime on road construction jobs.

This hammer is a VERY heavy machine and would probably do you a good job. However, it IS a specialized machine and I do not know if Sulivan has parts or still makes them.

A google search finds that Sulivan under Sullivan-Palatek a company with a bunch of Sullair Corp employees forme in 1984 . . . But Sullair still exists:


They do not list forging hammers under tools or industrial.

Your money and effort would probably be better spend on any one of the small air hammers sold through our advertisers.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/07/04 19:25:43 EST

Sullivan air compressor.
I know of one that was converted to run on belt drive from an electric motor. Was originally run off a steam engine. About a 50Hp machine. Sullair is located in Michigan City Indiana, and mostly makes twin screw compressors. Had a 200 Hp twin screw at the old plant. Nice machine.
   ptree - Sunday, 11/07/04 19:50:50 EST

Just purchased a Nazel 4B, with the serial number 1039. Can anyone tell me what year it was manufactured? Thank You, Wayne
   Wayne P. - Sunday, 11/07/04 20:14:05 EST

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