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

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

This is an archive of posts from November 17 - 24, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

VIc, Yes, Paul is my brother and we built the Kayne's site together. However, he did all the design and is the author of the dynamic system it runs on (XObase). All that music is original and produced by Paul. There is also a collection of work by my late brother Shawn and some friend's jam sessions.

Paul is a first class graphics artist and has done design work many major corporations. He did work for Coors such as the Zima bottle. At one time almost all Coors print and point of sales stuff you have seen in every convienience store in the world was done by Paul. He is also the designer/webmaster for the famous Grovepark Inn in Asheville NC. He also did the web design for the Western NC Jazz Society. Both their sites run on his XObase system.


   - guru - Tuesday, 11/16/04 23:29:59 EST

Re: vermin in the shop: Shake out those welding gloves BEFORE you put them on Last night I found (the hard way) 2 yellow jacket wasps that were wintering over in mine. Dristan saved a trip to the clinic.
   Habu - Wednesday, 11/17/04 00:20:33 EST

Hammer Elbow: One of the world famous smiths who used a very heavy hammer and a pushing short stroke wrecked his elbow and now gives slide shows rather than demos. I had used him as an example to point out that some people could get away with bad technique. . . It turns out that you can't.

The best prevention is a power hammer. Use the machine for heavy work and a light hammer to do the touch up, bending and other light work.

The biggest problem folks have is using too big a hammer and not letting the physics of speed work for for them. A small fast moving hammer can do as much work as a slow heavy hammer. The trick is to find a balance AND to work with your body and within your capability. Too small a hammer can also be bad as it makes you work harder than you should.

Years ago I worked with a 3 pound hammer all the time, even on light work. But it took me three years of nearly full time forging to work up to that weight. I started with a little 2 pound hammer which I wore out. However, I still use that little hammer when I have not been forging for a long time and use the bigger hammer for short periods on heavy work only. I had a 4 pound hammer which I could never use and I finally gave it away.

In October I did a week long demo with Paw-Paw. Most of what I forged was little 1/4" stuff into hooks. Used the little hammer the most. But we also cranked out a bunch of camp equipment in 1/2" bar and I used the larger hammer for most of that. The thing I noticed the most was his light weight 75 pound Colonial anvil was very inefficient to use. It was a long week.

A couple weeks later I did a day long demo at a local school. A full day demoing for 6 classes. I used the bigger 3 pound hammer all day. The week of excersize earlier had brought back the muscles in my arm and hand. But ai was also working on a 156 pound anvil. The combination of being in a little better shape AND the larger anvil made the day go smoothly.

It takes practice and the excersize of the practice to build up the muscles needed for hammer control. However, once you learn the control it requires less of your muscles. You can not get there without both. It helps to make a LOT of the same thing so that you are not thinking so much about the piece so much as how you are forging.

I make it a point to THINK about my working posture and the physics of the hammer as I work. If something does not seem right I adjust and then study that. If you just plow your way through the work without thinking about it you CAN hurt yourself and usualy do.

Bouncing the hammer off the anvil is part of my routine. However, it must come naturaly as part of your work flow. I had to tell an apprentice to STOP and never do it again because he was doing like a Hollywood actor, picking up the hammer in a jerky half stroke to make a "tink, tink" on the anvil with no rhythm. Don't force it. If it is not a natural part of your rhythm then forget it. However, it IS useful when turning the work and you need a rest to study for the next blow and when you are tired. But you cannot force it. You will hurt yourself if you try.

I use a loose variable position slidging grip when I work. The last time I explained it Frank said it was impossible. So did another famous smith that teachs hammer control. It is the result of using a hammer a LOT from a very early age so that I have way more years using a hammer than folks much older than myself. I do not try to teach my style of hammer handling. However, part of what is important is thinking about what you are doing and being aware of it. If something is not working for you then STOP and figure out what you are doing wrong. And get a power hammer for heavy work. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 00:20:48 EST

Guru, et all. I am building a new gas (venturi) forge that I intend to keep for a while and am looking at differant plans. I like the idea of having both my burners enter from the top but not the idea of them sticking up like flagpoles. One plan shows a 90 degree bend at the end of the burner just prior to entering the forge body. Is this as bad of an idea as it appears on paper? If this would work, I may go with it. My plan to line my forge body is with Kaowool and ITC-100 but in my last forge this felt very 'brittle'. I want to put 2-4" of Kaowool in, is excedding 2" asking for trouble? Thanks for the advice.

Support CSI so questions like this can be answered!
   Nomad - Wednesday, 11/17/04 01:39:39 EST

Sliding hammer grip. That is odd as I have never been told it was not possible. It is whaty I use. At least it sounds the same as what I do. And I have only been blacksmithing for 10 years or so. Meaning that I do not have the hammer time Guru does....... But good ideas do not always require years of experience.(smile)
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/17/04 02:10:46 EST

Welding on a Peter Wright is a last resort and will most likely lower the value of the anvil.
If you have no other recourse, spend some time and study up on the technique needed. That includes weld design, accurate pre and postheat,interpass temperature and peening, and the exact right arc rods to do the job ( expensive) as well as some other details.
Please note that there will be both a hard and a softer area in the face around the weld due to the welding heat blowing the temper. It's an easy way to ruin your anvil.
I'd suggest gently rounding out the chipped edges ( more useful and stronger that way anyway) with a belt sander or disk grinder if you are good....And using the belt sander on the tool steel fact to smooth out the high spots.
If you have a couple of square inches of the face in passable condition, that's all you really need for 90% of forging.
I don't know of a MIG wire that would be satisfactory...you need really high tech arc rod for this job. If the amount of buildup is deeper that 1/4" or so, you will want to use a special alloy underlay.
All this to say...don't , if at all possible.
See, I just saved you a bunch of work and money...
Join the CSI and support Anvilfire or your hammer handle will go limp.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 11/17/04 03:41:05 EST

Fires and forges

I have seen hot embers from wood and/or coal fires in stoves 3 days after the fire was left to die out.

At the end of forging, I rake the coals out of the fire onto the forging table, clear the ash dump, then put up tools, check all gas cylinders and lines to be closed and drained, and generally shut down.

Finally, all materials that were once in the forge, coke, coals, and ash are placed into a 5 gallon metal bucket full of water. I sleep well at nights knowing that all fire materials are under 2" of water. But if in doubt, get up, go back, and check.
   - Conner - Wednesday, 11/17/04 09:00:56 EST

I know there was just a question about welding on an anvil but i have another.I got an anvil for free from an old farmer,but it is in really bad shape(really).I'v read that another plate can be welded on top of the old ,after grinding if flat.So I bought a piece of A2 tool steel from work and sent it out for heat treat (Rockwell C 50-54 was the hardness i requested).Now the question,after grinding it flat, what is the best way of pre-heating to prep for weld,how should i insulate the center part of the 1/2" plate so as not to soften it,and what rod and amp should i weld at?
Thank you very much for your time,
   - Dan - Wednesday, 11/17/04 09:35:17 EST

Bends in burners: Nomad, I have tried this using pipe joints and a great burner quit working altogether. Many commercial forges use a central mixing nozzel then Y's and bends to get where they want. This works but from what I have seen the ones with atmospheric burners use a long slow taper throughout the piping. There are no sudden steps or constrictions like using a threaded eldow. Blower type burners seem to be able to get away with what ever piping gets there without too much restriction.

SO, it works, but requires following a proven plan EXACTLY or you need to plan on some R&D.

Most current horizontal forge designs have the burners entering at an angle from the top. Directly from the side works also. The reason it is good to have burners sloping down hill is that propane is a very heavy gas. On the other hand you do not want dead vertical burners because they act like a chimney and the hot air travel up the burner when the forge is shut down.

4" of Kaowool is probably a little much for a forge. However, in big walk-in kilns they use up to 6". Panels are made using 1" Kaowool that is "accordianed" and then sewn with stainless or inconel wire. ITC-100 is sprayed on the inner surface. The panels are made it between two sheets of plywood and then "sewn" using a long custom made "needle". They also make Kaowool in a paper type product that is useful for reinforcement in these constructions.

Most forges built with light weight refractory have 1-1/2" to 2" of refractory lining. Yes the ITC-100 is going to be brittle as will any refractory coating.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 09:39:41 EST

Hammer Technique:

I hammered a lot of nails as a child and teenager helping my grandfather. He was a 'smith in the 20's and 30's but gave it up to become a carpenter so we built houses together when I wasn't in school. He had massive hands and forearms from the manual labor done during his life and worked in a cabinet shop until he was 87 - then died at 89. I was taught the "thumb on top" technique that everyone says now is incorrect. When I began 'smithing, I started with a 2-1/2 lb hammer, went up to a 3 and then to a 4. The 4 was real tough to use for normal work so I dropped back down. Now, I use a 2 lb that I made some years ago. It has a square face and is slightly "face-heavy" so it doesn't recoil and sting my hand. Like Jock, I use a loose grip so all of my hand hammers have shaved handles that are slightly belled at the bottom so they don't fly out of my hand. The handles are also all as slick as gunstocks so I don't get blisters (got that one from Opa). I am blessed to having never experienced any arm trouble ranging from daily, regular work to only picking a hammer up once a year.

A friend of mine who is my age with the same basic background in carpentry and blacksmithing has completely blown out his wrist, elbow and shoulder. He lives on shots and pills. My point is that some of this is genetic and based on luck of the draw. There are probably some guys sitting at computers who have good genetics for hammering and some professional 'smiths who shouldn't be handling a tack hammer (from a physical perspective). In addition, for many years I also did regular weight-lifting with dumb bells and a lot of push-ups. I think this helped keep me in better shape than my buddy who just worked and never exercised.
   - HWooldridge - Wednesday, 11/17/04 10:07:23 EST

Plating an Anvil: Dan, Edge welding a plate on to an anvil produces a very inefficint anvil with little rebound. Wrought anvils have continous forge welded faces OR are one piece tool steel. In either case they are one solid piece.
A2 is WAY overkill and is going to be difficult to weld without resulting in a very brittle crystalized weld zone that will require post weld heat treatment. IF it was going to be welded that should have been done while the A2 was in the annealed condition.

You have TWO welding problems. The old anvil plate (if it was plated is probably 50 to 75 point carbon steel. It and the iron under it needs to be preheated to about 350°F prior to welding. The A2 is 100 point carbon (1%). I can find nothing on welding it but I suspect it needs to be gently heated to about 500°F and then use a nickle alloy or stainless rod.

To prevent cracking the welded A2 you will need to peen between passes and then heat the plate and joint area to above the hardening temperature, peen again to stress relieve at high temperature and then let cool slowly. The face of the A2 will air harden and parts below should normalize IF the plate is thick enough and enough of the anvil is hot enough to cool at near the annealing rate of 40°F/hr. I would insulate the sides of the anvil during cooling to prevent the edges from cooling too fast. This should leave the welds in a condition not to crack or seperate under load.

Between the cost of the plate, welding and post heat treating you could buy a NEW anvil or several used anvils in good condition.

So then I ask just HOW BAD is bad condition? I have an old Colonial era anvil with a missing horn and the face WORN THROUGH in about a 2" diameter spot. Around the edges of the hole the plate is loose. I use this anvil with groups like Boy Scouts because they cannot hurt it. I can do almost the same work as with my good anvils (I miss the horn).

I have an early 1800's Mousehole that the plate is broken off at the hardy hole. Otherwise it is in pretty good condition except for some sway in the face. I use this anvil with the same groups as above. Lack of a hardy hole is not a problem as I do not use a hardy at demonstrations and DO NOT let newbies use one.

Both these anvils would be considered junkers by most people. But they WORK fine. The quality of the work you do has nothing to do with the condition of the anvil.

Both these anvils are antiques with a HISTORY. repairing them would be like telling your 90 year old grandmother that she should have plastic surgery for those age lines.

Chipped edges can be dressed to remove sharp edges and pitted faces ground smooth (lightly). Sway should not be machined out as it makes the face too thin. Besides, the sway makes it easier to make straight items than a flat surface.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 10:34:08 EST

Heavy Door Hinges: Hayes, Normal hinges will work. However many smiths use a bronze thrust bearing on gates and heavy doors. What is most important is that there is enough surface area at the bearing point to prevent galling and swaging of the metal.

Look a barn doors that not only are heavy but have a LOT of overhang. Millions had plain strap hinges.

In commercial butt hinges they do not make them thick enough for heavy doors, so the next thing up is ball bearing hinges.

As a smith you CAN make ball bearing hinges using commercial thrust bearings. However, these need relatively precision pilots and flat bearing areas as well as a cover and lubrication. I do not recommend trying to use them unless you have a small machine shop.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 10:51:27 EST

since welding on the anvil is not the best methond, how can the half rounded hardy hole be repaired? are there people local to goldsboro nc that can repair it for me? don't know what the anvil is worth but i have $150 in it. would be willing to pay someone to properly fix it. any info would be appreciated (sp)
   kirt - Wednesday, 11/17/04 11:05:03 EST

Vise Heights: Scott, There are different heights for different purposes. The normal for general work is to have the top of the jaws at about 39" for work while standing. This is the height of most blacksmith leg vises and is good for sawing, chisleling and heavy filing. Blacksmith vises of all sizes are usualy this height from jaw to leg flange. If the leg flange is set on somthing above the ground the height will be a little higher. If you are shorter or taller than average then the vise may want to adjusted to suit.

One of the handiest most used vises in my shop is a heavy 6-1/2" 130 pound Prentis chipping vise mounted on a 39" tall bench. This puts the jaws at 49". This is a high vise but it is convienent for close work or things like planing a board that you want to "eyeball" for straightness and for heavy bending at shoulder level where you pull with your all. I've moved this vise and bench twice and set it up the same way because I always liked it.

This most important thing about mounting vises is that they are on a sturdy immovable stand or bench.

For work sitting you may want a vise as low as 28" or as high as 36". However, if sitting on a tall chair the standard 39" height works well.

Note that a good portion of the work done at a blacksmith vise is hammering. Bench vises will not withstand this type of use. Even the very expensive unbreakable forged steel vises will end up with bent guide arms or broken screws.

A little 30 to 50 pound blacksmiths leg vise will withstand abuse that takes a 120 to 150 pound HD bench vise to withstand. Blacksmith vises generaly survive to wear out where most bench vises end up broken at the end of their much shorter lives.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 11:29:04 EST


I've been trying to locate a decent anvil in the Colorado area and finally found one (via ebay) that's located in Denver. I plan on looking at the thing today and was wondering if anyone knew anything abut the Vulcan brand. This is a #100er and I do not have a clue as to its age. I've read a few statements about Vulcan's and I'm hearing both good and bad evaluations. Some say that they are really quiet and well made, while others say they are junk.

Any suggestions/comments would be appreciated. If anyone cares to take a look at the anvil its ebay item number is 6131552198. I'm the only one , thus far, to bid.

Many thanks,
Dana Hackney
Monument, CO
   Dana (Mr) Hackney - Wednesday, 11/17/04 11:30:45 EST

Hi! I have a set of t-stakes and other planishing stakes that I want to sell. This includes a large blowhorn stake. I have read your article about e-bay fraud. Where should I try to sell these? I also want to know how to get an experienced person to look at my digital pictures of these and try to give me an idea of their quality. I don't want to by misrepresenting anything, but I think these are in good condition. Thank you so much.
   Charlotte - Wednesday, 11/17/04 12:17:10 EST

Dana, I copied and enlarged the image to look at. The anvil appears to be in good condition.

Vulcan and Fisher Norris anvils are made by casting cast iron against a steel plate producing a weld in the mold. This was a cheap alternative to forged anvils. If the weld fails there is no way to repair it.

This anvils are much quiter than forged steel anvils and that is their only advantage. They have reasonable rebound but not as much as a wrought anvil. Their shape is usualy not as graceful as wrought anvils as they must have thick heels and short heavy horns for strength.

People either love or hate these anvils. Age has nothing to do with the value of an anvil unless it is classed as antique or collectable. This is not a collectable anvil. These are no longer made and the method of manufacture is no longer used. Old good condition anvils are just as useful as brand new anvils of the same grade.

This anvil COULD sell for up to $200 or more but may go for considerably less if you are lucky. I expect others are watching it (or will be now) and that you will not be the only one bidding. Always consider the shipping cost or lack there of when buying heavy objects.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 12:32:35 EST

Charlott, Usually the fraud and misrepresentation has to do with cheap import items or forgeries and rarely has anything to do with old tools and equipment.

As much as I have come to dislike ebay it is still the best place to get the best price on these items. Selling them as a set would be easy but you are likely to get more money selling them individualy.

Mail coming your way.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 12:44:12 EST

Thank you very kindly for your adivse and observations. I will be taking a look at the anvil during my lunch break as I work only a few miles from where it is located.

Kind regards,
Dana Hackney
Monument, CO
   Dana (Mr) Hackney - Wednesday, 11/17/04 13:00:31 EST

Hardy Hole repair: Kirt, if a hardy with a decent sized shoulder works in this anvil then don't repair it. A proper hardy hole usualy has a significant radius to the edges. However, I HAVE seen hardy holes that were torn up pretty bad, usualy from forcing something tapered into the hole. Some folks think a hardy hole is designed for tapered shank tools like sheet metal stakes, they ARE NOT.

As Pete pointed out, ANY repair by ANYONE will do damage to the anvil. Weld repairs always result in hard and soft spots when welding hardened steel such as an anvil face. Proper heat treating is nearly impossible on these and IF you could find someone to take it on you will find that nearly half the cost of NEW anvils is the heat treat.

99% of all anvil repairs are cosmetic and unwarrented.

That said, to make this repair you need to preheat the anvil to 350°F. That is as hot as you can go without reducing the temper of the face. Check the temperature with Tempil heat indicating crayons. Weld the corners with E7018 rod or a high manganese rod like "super missle rod". If the damage is low in the hole weld there first, descale with a descaler and work toward the face of the anvil. It helps to peen between passes. Work quickly to prevent losing the preheat. Let the anvil air cool when finished.

Dress the hole with a die grinder, chisel and files as necessary. Radius the top edges to about a 1/8" (3 mm) to 3/16" (5 mm) radius. Be sure the edges around the hady hole are not higher than the face of the anvil. Dress the face of the anvil with a hand held belt sander.

When fitting a hardy be sure it fits in all directions and is loose enough to slip in and out easily. Do not use overhung tools like a bickern in the repaired hardy hole.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 13:15:58 EST

What would you suggest looking for in rockwell hardness of an anvil?
   - andrew - Wednesday, 11/17/04 14:05:20 EST

I am just about to set up my first forge and need a good list of coal suppliers near Huntsville Alabama. Any other tips to a clueless begginner who has only read books regarding the subjects and have yet to see any done exept in his dreams would be appreciated.
   Corey - Wednesday, 11/17/04 14:09:36 EST

Andrew, what type of anvil, how thick will the hardened face be? What type of steel? Or are you trying to evaluate an existing anvil---in which case you should click over to the anvil test link over in the 21st century area and read how to make a much simpler test on one.

In general you would like the anvil face softer than the hammer face---easier to dress or replace hammers! However this is often easier to do by tempering the hammers a bit more.

If your anvil does not dent under hot steel it's OK (I've worked on a cast iron ASO that would dent when working 5160 on it!)

Too hard and you risk edge chipping and face fractures.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/17/04 15:10:10 EST

re: Heavy Door Hinges

Thanks guru, could you explain what a bronze thrust bearing is.

   Hayes - Wednesday, 11/17/04 15:10:49 EST

Can you tell me where to find more info on Cadnium blood poisioning? I am concerned about a friend of mine......Thanks.
   Michelle - Wednesday, 11/17/04 15:11:51 EST

I have used commercial ball bearing hinges on a bunch of gates over the years- sometimes they are the best solution. Regular hinges are made to hold hollow core doors- say 30 to 50lbs in weight. A good stainless steel ball bearing hinge can hold 4 times the weight. So I have used 4 stainless hinges, and been able to hold an 800lb door without sagging.
As the guru said, you can make your own hinges, and in many cases this is the best thing to do, especially because the will complement the look and design of your gate.
But I have had many situations where I needed to hang rectangular gates in pre-existing door openings in buildings, and sometimes with steel door frames that already were mortised for standard hinges. So a heavy duty ball bearing hinge was just the ticket. On a project I did for the downtown LA public library, I used something like 25 pairs of these hinges- and had em all milled on a CNC mill with adjustment slots instead of regular holes- vertical slots on one leaf of the hinge, horizontal on the other. Stole that idea from some german smiths I saw doing a slide show at the Santa Cruz Abana conference. These were set in metal frames, so I could use 1/4" diameter flat head socket screws, and easily adjust each door left and right, up and down, after final painting and installation. So ball bearing hinges do have their place.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 11/17/04 15:39:51 EST

Regarding the regular bench vice for Blacksmithing... This is not a good idea, if you are planning on any hammering in the vice. The regular bench vices work ok for holding for twisting work, but they are really not designed to be thumped on. As I understand, it's an issue of the force being dirrected onto the screw, where in a leg vice, the force is dirrected to the ground.

I've heard horror storries of bench vices freezing up on the work piece, never to let go when the bolt is ruined from hammering. I can't confirm if this is likely, or an old wives tale. Either way, if you can find a leg vice, it's worth it's weight.
   Monica - Wednesday, 11/17/04 15:41:38 EST

Quick education needed at Ebay. When we're talking about post vices, item # 6130906030 is NOT what we're talking about.
   Monica - Wednesday, 11/17/04 16:15:57 EST

The Easy Way-- Keep your gloves in a tin box or a coffee can with a tight snapon lid. Keep your jacket in a big plastic bucket with a snaplock top. Keep your earmuffs in a Tupperware (ditto the snaplock top) plastic box. You cannot eradicate bugs. But in the meantime, they do not have to crawl into your ear while you are trying to work.
   Damien deLaTerious - Wednesday, 11/17/04 16:48:19 EST

Machinist vises large or small are great for what they are great for, mainly filing. They get jammed up sometimes because the screw is damaged and, I find-- and I have brought a few back from the grave-- mainly because some fool hammers upon and peens down the square sliding carriage when it is sticking out the back, thus turning it into a great big rivet.
   Damien deLaTerious - Wednesday, 11/17/04 16:55:46 EST

Anvil Hardness: Andrew, This varies with the type and size of anvil. There is also a question of being TOO hard as well as being too soft.

Small anvils are easier to quench and cool faster therefore small anvils (up to 150 pounds) tend to be harder than larger anvils that are hard to quench and are self tempering due to the core heat.

THEN you the matter of different alloys. The old anvils were plain carbon steel. Most of the new good quality cast steel anvils are deep hardening alloys.

Some manufacturers tell you what alloy they use others do not. Peddinghaus (the hardest we have tested), Euroanvils and Vaughn do not. I suspect the Peddinghaus to be an easy to forge plain carbon steel, but they don't tell.

AND only a few manufactures state quantatatively just how hard their anvils are. There is good reason for this. One is that the mass is difficult to heat treat and the second, shape make it difficult to get uniform results. When you say "our anvil = XX Rc" then every looney with a rockwell tester starts testing every point on the face of the anvil looking for descrepencies. In the past anvils were simply sold as being "hard". In fact most were hardened and not tempered.

In the 1960's Kohlswa stated 55-57 HRC. Their anvils are too hard for the alloy and the edges chip easily. I suspect the edges needed tempering. I have never chipped OR marked a Kohlswa but I had an apprentice that did a good job dinging the the same anvil. . . .

Nimba used to be 48 Rc but had complaints and went to 50 Rc in a deep hardening steel. So the surface is not all that is hard. They use 8640 steel.

Rat Hole Forge states 4340 steel 54 Rc +/-.

Many old anvils probably test near 60Rc. This makes for GREAT rebound and durrability EXCEPT for edge chipping. The Kohlswas at the high end were TOO hard for a cast steel anvil. Peddinghaus anvils test harder but I have yet to see one with a chipped edge (forging IS better).

THEN there is the physics involved. Large anvils SHOULD be softer than small. This is because a large anvil resists a blow from a hammer much better than a small one and a misstrike or accidental blow to a corner will do a lot more damage to a larger anvil of the same hardness as a small anvil. All the Nimba anvils are very massive and Russel was right to make them softer than other brands.

So you cannot just say XX hardness is perfect, nor are you going to be able to get an answer to "How hard is it?". You have to consider the size, manufacturing method and material. In the end all you can do is go by reputation and buy a known maker's product.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 17:46:26 EST

Big Vises: I was GIVEN my 130 pound Prentis chipping vise because it had been damaged and locked up by the gorrilas in a machine shop. They had used the slide arm as an anvil and then tried to open the vise wedging the slide arm in the body. It was then set out in the weather to rust. I was very lucky and it only took me 45 minutes to loosen the nut, file the slide arm and get it in perfect working order.

In the 1960's my Dad bought the biggest Craftsman vise they made and put it in the machiine shop he managed. A gorrila with an engineering degree let loose with a sledge hammer and broke it in two. The salesman at Sears rightfully refused the warranty due to abuse.

I have other vises that were not so lucky. Two milling machine vises with ears broken off the base. A universal vise with the slide arm broken in two. AND I had a huge 250# 8" Blacksmiths leg vise that had been wrecked and then some gorrila tried to weld replacement vise jaws with the BIG UGLY teeth into it and failed. . . . Its mate was bent to destruction from hammering. So the blacksmith vises CAN be destroyed by mindless abuse.

As Damien pointed out, machinist's vises are designed for filing on work. The big chipping vises are designed for chiseling and filing. Neither can take heavy hammer blows.

And as Monica pointed out, just because someone uses the HOT KEYWORD "blacksmiths" to sell an item does not mean it is a blacksmiths tool. "collectable" is the only other keyword that is spammed so heavily and abused so much on ebay.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 18:02:02 EST

Bronze Thrust Bearing: A thick bearing bronze (alloy 660) washer.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/17/04 18:05:54 EST

Speaking of vises and the limitations thereof, beware these Chinese jobs that rotate and revolve. U.S.-made, they'd cost a grand or more. Thanks to the miracle of global trade and slave labor, they run maybe $35 or $50 new in the box. They are marvels of design. Alas, they don't take much stress. The front jaw is secured weakly to the pipe carriage. The key pin in the back that makes the entire thing tighten up is a casting, and a weak one, instead of a forging. Both the front jaw weld and this pin are prone to snapping under stress. Also, the haha anvil plate on top is merely cotter-pinned to the main housing, which is as thin a casting as possible, so that hammering can easily crack the housing. The entire frame is bondoed to look cool. The hold-down screws are cast, too, so tightening up the lateral spin cannot be too vigorous. They are handy as all hell, but take it reallllllly easy or you have a giant paper weight instead of a vise!
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 11/17/04 18:29:13 EST

Hi guru I lived in san francisco for many years i moved to mexico to put my own shop, the FORD company and i signed a contract so i can make pins the material i use is 4140 and i use a torche to harden the pins, but i dont get the hardness i need.. can you please tell me how many hrs or minutes i have to put it in a furnace and what temperature i have to use? pins are 3 inch long and 1 inch diameter, tell me if i have to use a special powder...

thanks so much i will aprecciated if you give me an answer
thx israel gamez.. from hermosillo sonora mexico
   israel - Wednesday, 11/17/04 18:59:16 EST

Hi guru I lived in San Francisco for many years I moved to Mexico to put my own shop, the FORD company and i signed a contract so i can make pins the material I use is 4140 and I use a torche to harden the pins, but I dont get the hardness I need. .

Can you please tell me how many hrs or minutes I have to put it in a furnace and what temperature I have to use? Pins are 3 inch long and 1 inch diameter, tell me if i have to use a special powder...

Thanks so much I will aprecciated if you give me an answer
thx Israel Gamez.. from Hermosillo Sonora Mexico
   israel - Wednesday, 11/17/04 19:00:23 EST

Has anyone purchased any of the Pocahontas #3 coal that is always on Ebay? Is it realy pocahontas #3 or just crap being sold as Poca #3? Any info would be nice

   Jeff - Wednesday, 11/17/04 19:11:58 EST

Harden 4140 between 1525ºF and 1625ºF (830ºC and 880ºC), bright cherry red. Make it a through and through heat. Quench in oil. You can temper (revenir) between 400ºF and 1300ºF (200ºC and 700ºC), light straw surface tempering color through all other tempering colors (colores de revenido) into an incandescent dull red, dark red, blood red. Blood red is 700ºC. You will need to experiment with the different hardnesses. The more heat you apply when tempering, the more hardness you sacrifice. If using a furnace for tempering, hold at least 15 minutes for each ½ inch of thickness, at a specific temperature. In Spanish, I am using "templar" for hardening and "revenir" for tempering. Write if you need more information.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/17/04 19:57:55 EST

jeff, re ebay pocahontas coal; i bought a bag. it was junk. smoked like crazy (high sulfur content?), shipping was expensive. live and learn. i then bought some "forge coke" and like it very much.
   - rugg - Wednesday, 11/17/04 20:06:31 EST

Since we are talking about vices: I've got a beautiful old Reed chipping vice with an especially nice feature on one of my steel tables. The rear jaw is fitted into a trunnion mount so that you can pull a pin and the rear jaw can swivel to accept tapered objects. I've had it for several years (it came free attached to an old shaper table) but I only recently took the time to clean it up and free up the frozen swivel jaw. It took a little bit of filing and some lapping compund but now the jaw moves smoothly and it is a joy to use. The trunnion gives it lots of bearing surface and it was obviously made for heavy work. I believe it probably had a swivel base plate at one time also since there is a large tapped hole in the center of its circular base. I have only seen one other (much smaller) vice with a similar swivel jaw. (Excluding the Emmert Style Patternmakers vices) Does anyone know how common this feature was and what such a vice might originally have been intended for?
   SGensh - Wednesday, 11/17/04 20:15:48 EST

We had a very large vise that had the trunion set-up on the back jaw. It was probably a 10 or 12" jaw. It was mounted in the tool and die dept, and looked to have been about 60 to 80 years old. I think it was cast in the foundrey at that company.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/17/04 20:50:14 EST

Thanks rugg, I kind of thought that was the case. I never see any bids on it and was kinda leary. I knew that someone here would have tried it. Thanks for the info
   Jeff - Wednesday, 11/17/04 22:11:38 EST

OK, odd question: I do painting and lettering at a railroad repair fcility. Not a huge place, owned by a shortline RR. I keep in touch with what the mechanics are doing, because we're freinds, and I'm mechanicaly inclined.

Anyway, they made this neat tool. It's one of the locomotive traction motors mounted on a heavy duty I-beam frame thing they made. ((Diesel locomotives are actually called diesel-electric locomotives, as the diesel motor turns a 600 volt generator, which powers an electric "traction motor" on each axle.)
So now they've got this traction motor where they can drop an axle and wheel assembly (axle with 2 wheels pressed on) into it, and use the bit holder tools to shave off the outer layer of steel on each wheel. This is a regular proceedure, but before, the crew had to jack up an axle while it was yet under the locomotive, get the axle turning, then lay on the ground and use the bit holder tools to work on the wheel. It was unpleasant to say the least, with the hot curly shavings going everywhere, like down the collar. They had to stay there, as you need to slowly turn crank handles to move the bit across the wheel surface.
So obviously this is alot better, but they still have one problem. The wheels from a switcher are the worst. As a switcher is bumping and clanking over switches and rough old spur tracks, the wheels get a bad case of work hardening.
This slows down the wheel turning operation alot, and breaks bits. Once they get through that outer layer, it's not so bad.
The one crew member knew I was interested in metalurgy, so he asked if I had any ideas. I figured heat would be bad, as the fresh metal going into the bit probably cools it, like wood does a router bit. Also, the heat might change any temper that was made into the wheels. Also, the FRA might have some regulations regarding this, they're not somebody to be taken lightly.
The one crew member tried using a big Milwalky grinder on the wheel as it was turning, opposite the bit, but it had no effect. It was a rather thick grinding wheel, and I thought maybe a much thinner grinding wheel might help.
Any ideas? Thanks for any help, sorry for being long winded.
   Jim Donahue - Thursday, 11/18/04 01:28:26 EST

Hey there fella's anyone know of books on making wood working tools. Gouges,chisels,knives,axes,etc....

   Joshua Paye - Thursday, 11/18/04 01:30:01 EST

Joshua, Holmstrom & Holford, "American Blacksmithing and The Twentieth Century Toolsmith and Steelworker".
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/18/04 07:34:22 EST


Look at Alexander Weyger's books. They are compiled under the title "The Complete Modern Blacksmith", available at most booksellers.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/18/04 07:38:57 EST

Turning work hardened wheels: Jim, this is a common problem in a number of areas. Some materials like stainless once work hardened will easily wreck carbide bits.

There are three ways to get around a work hardened surface.
  1. Cut UNDER it by taking a heavy enough cut that the tip of the cutter bit is in uneffected metal.
  2. Grind it.
  3. Heat treat the entire part (anneal it).
The first method takes a VERY heavy and rigid machine tool and I do not think your current rig is suitable. The third method is expensive, cures other possible problems but also will wreck other machined surfaces. AND if I understand RR wheel/axel assemblies it is impractical.

So that leaves grinding. On a job like this a hand held grinder is not going to cut it. The grinder must be mounted on the machine like a tool post grinder, held steady and fed at a controled rate. For this purpose you probably need a grinder with a wheel nearly as large as the work and with significant horsepower.

So. . . It is a big expensive change in your operation. But it would also REPLACE the entire machining operation. It would probably speed things up quite a bit as well.

Designing and building a special grinder and fixturing for this is work for a machine designer. Wheel and work speeds will be critical as well as wheel grit and abrasive. The actual construction does not need to be anything special other than heavy and rigid.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/18/04 10:13:52 EST

Swinging a big hammer: You might be able to swing a 4# or 5# hammer and you might not but the problem is you likely wont find out until the damage is done and it's too late. As Jock pointed out, its not just a matter of being strong enough. I notice that Peter Ross, perhaps the best hammer man in the country (according to Frank) and has forearms like Thor, uses an inky dinky little hammer. Cant be more than 2# - or perhaps it just looks that way since he is so big.

I have several tapes of Peter giving demos and I watch them regularly. Problem is the quality is terrible. I would kill for a good quality video of Peter Ross demo'ing.

Joshua:- Tool Making for Woodworkers /Ray Larsen is a great book. Shows step by step how to forge a number of WW tools
   adam - Thursday, 11/18/04 10:41:06 EST

Heavy Swivel Jaw Vise: SGensh, this is probably a shaper vise (low and flat like a milling vise). Shapers were commonly used to square up large pices of stock such as forgings and castings. The swivel jaw was designed to compensate for the rough work.

If you vise is any taller than absolutely necessary then it is not a shaper vise, just a heavy vise for irregular work.

I have a big old shaper vise off an old 16" Gould and Eberhart shaper. This one was designed as part of the table. It has a threaded center hole that was used to hold the vise to the table and to rotate around. Sadly this vise does not fit my newer G&E universal shaper. I may be able to adapt it but this will require a BIG adaptor plate. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/18/04 10:42:49 EST

Vise: Jock, I guess I should haev been more clear in my description of the vise. It looks much more like a typical machinists or chipping vice than like a milling machine or shaper vise. It just happened to be bolted to a T slotted table I bought to use as a welding fixture. The last patent date cast on it is 1914. I'll try to take a photo or two and email them to you in the next couple of days.
   SGensh - Thursday, 11/18/04 12:06:52 EST

I believe that Peter Ross used to use a 2 1/2 lber, but then as his elbow got worse he went smaller. At least the last time he was at Fort Vancouver he was using a 2 1/2 lber.
Oddly Peter is really not that big. He does have larger forearms, but then so do about 2/3 of the guys I know....(smile)
   Ralph - Thursday, 11/18/04 12:20:40 EST

Cheap Cast Imports: To expand on what Miles had to say. . . Many of these things look good and SEEM to be comprable in design to the good old North American and European products. But they are NOT.

The old stuff was made of the BEST material that could be cast, often ductile iron or high strength alloy irons. AND they were heavy, there was NO scrimping on materials. The pinnacle of this method of making things this way was the late 1950's when manufacturers tried to out do the dependability and life expectancy of each others equipment EVERY year. Most of those GREAT manufacturers are gone now but their products are still with us.

Someone commented on the fact that Bowing B-52's were designed to last forever. This may seem impossible but as soon as "planned obsolescence" became the rule and a science then engineers realized that if every part could be designed with a limited life then it could also have an infinite life. "Infinite" is as in many things an impossibility but there is a point in every fatigue formula over which the life goes from millions of cycles to billions of cycles and beyond with very little change in the part. This is the point of theoretical infinite life.

Many parts are still designed to this infinite life. Things like springs are usualy designed for infinite life because it is difficult to predict just how many MILLIONS of cycles a valve spring or suspension spring may see and their failure is usualy catostrophic.

On the other hand, in the automotive industry they can predict to within a very narrow margin in HOURS the life of things like bearings, seals, clutches, rubber components. . . . At one time the American automotive industry designed all bearings to infinite lives. Failures were from unexpected abuse, dirt or REAL material quality problems, NOT design. Today all auto parts have a finite life just outside the warranty. No matter how good of care you take of that truck or car, no matter how you baby it, when it hits that failure point the part is going to fail. The only savings grace is that there has been serious competition in warranties and this forces the manufacturers to extend the life of the product.

Now. . This is all well and good. But the folks making many of the cheap import products DO NOT engineer the life of every part. They just make it cheaper. They copy other peoples engineering and reduce the size of the parts. They make castings thinner to save metal or plastic, reduce wire sizes to save on copper. . . They do not know if the part will last one hour or a thousand. They just know that they have an infinite market of fools in the United States that will buy junk and by junk and buy junk. . .

The really sad thing is that the junk has squeezed out the quality manufacturers and now we have no choice (other than to search for OLD equipment in good condition).
   - guru - Thursday, 11/18/04 12:24:45 EST

Making woodworking tools:

"Toolmaking for Woodworkers" by Ray Larsen

   Steve A - Thursday, 11/18/04 13:30:15 EST

Vise heights: I have a fairly nice machinest vise that happens to bolt very well to my drill press table that has a nice crank on it to position it anywhere I want it. Now I don't do massive work on it---its a machinest's vise. But the drill press is pretty stable floor type with a 2hp dayton motor and about 200# of metal on it's base.

I also have an "old" lab stool on wheels with adjustable foot rest and backrest and height. Well worth the time to set things up and beable to work for hours without getting cramped up!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/18/04 14:25:29 EST

Hmmmmmm. . . a good use for a trashed (heavy) drill press that still has a good table mechanism.

We have a vise in my Dad's shop that I mounted on an old industrial ironing table stand. The stand is one of those beautiful streamlined things that has a large eliptical foot under the part it supported.

The vise on that stand is a little 3" multi-positional vise (the base rotates on two axiis). When I was young I thought it was a monster of a vise!

Putting good "junk" to new uses is the best recycling.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/18/04 15:11:53 EST

Drill presses and such:

I saw a Harbor Freight radial arm drill press for ~$150. It had a 1/3HP motor. Does anyone have experience with such a device? The radial arm action seems handy.

What's the point of having any more than 1/3HP for a drill press? It seems like any more and you'd have problems with breaking drill bits if they bind while exiting the stock. It seems like the limiting factor is the capacity of the drill bit to withstand the heat and pressure, not actually getting the bit to turn.
   - Tom T - Thursday, 11/18/04 16:11:23 EST

Tom T.
I am used to drill presses that have from 5 to 15 Hp. of course they are designed to turn bits in the 2" to 4" range at a productive rate. All use coolant to allow the heat generated to be removed before damage to the bit occurrs. As for binding at break through, most production drills have a feed that tends to resist the dig-in and binding at break thru.

At my previous employ we removed tons of metal a day with twist drills. Imagine a pipe tee. A 2" forged steel pipe tee in the ANSI 2000psi class will weigh about 11.43# as a solid forgeing. After drilling out the three flow legs, and tapping the ports, that forgeing now weighs 2.43#. The machine that did this job, used twist drill bits in drill stations that were really just drill presses that were automated. This machine produced 270 of these tees an hour. Thats 2430 pounds of steel converted into shaveings an hour. The coolant flow to remove this heat was about 450 gallons per minute, and the smallest drill motor was 15Hp.

With a true rigid machine, a 4" twist drill will produce a single continous shaveing in the C1023(A105) that these parts were forged in. But to run a production drill with big bits takes power! A third Hp will turn a 2" drill, just has to tur it very very slow, and thats no way to make a buck.
   ptree - Thursday, 11/18/04 16:33:15 EST

The trunion jaw vise I described was definetly a machinists vise, and not a shaper vise as it was far too light for a shaper. It was also too tall.
   ptree - Thursday, 11/18/04 16:35:09 EST

Radial Drill Press: Tom T I have an old Walker Turner Radial Arm Drill Press which I find quite useful for odd parts. At full extension it will reach the center of a 62" circle. It's probably quite a bit more rigid and more heavy than the HF version though. It has a heavy cast iron base, A T slotted work table and a four inch column. The arm swings in an arc and slides in a set of roller bearings while the drill head can be rotated at an angle to the table. It only uses a half horse motor though makng it the least powerful drill press in my shop. It does have two belts and an additional set of pullies for speed reduction though. The 20" Walker Turners have the original 1 horse motors and could use more. The variable speed Rockwell uses a 1 1/2 horsepower. Unless you are only going to drill small holes I don't think that 1/3 HP is enough for real work.

Ptree, Thanks for the clarification. The vise I have is just under 12" tall and the jaws are about 5 1/2" wide. Works great but I've just gotten curious as people comment on it when they see it used in the shop.
   SGensh - Thursday, 11/18/04 16:59:28 EST

Tom T,

I have a RadioFreeTaiwan drill press, on eof the 12 speed 1/2" models sold by HOme Depot, Lowes and everybody else. It is not a radial drill. It has a 3/4 hp motor that is about adequate as long as I stay under about 1" bits in mild steel. If it was one of the cheapo radial drills, I wouldn't try to drill more than a 1/2" hole with it no matter what. The castings simply are not robust enough to take loads that aren't exactly down the designed axis of load.

Every cheap radial drill I've looked at appeared to have been designed by someone who owned shares in a bit making complany. Weak tubes, poor locking mechanisms and minimal casting strength. A prescription for getting skewed in use and breaking bits and/or the drill. Better, I think, to get a decent angle vise and use that.

I routinely drill angled holes, but I use sine blocks, jugs, oddball clamping and whatever else will work to hole the workpiece securely. I don't break bits or the machine. I don't, however, try to drill angled holes bigger than 1/2". The loads can suddenly get too high if something shifts.

NOw, if you can find an old Walker Turner, Rockwell, Cincinatti, Powermatic or Bridgeport radial drill at a decent price, buy it. One of those will do the job and is worth fixing up. Rule of thumb: if you can get it in your truck without help or rigging, it's too small to do the job. (grin)
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/18/04 17:25:41 EST

TomT; by now you have realized that some of us are just tool sluts and size queens---abandon the craft immediately before you catch it too---we'll be right over to pick over your equipment---dibs on any large anvils!

Others actually have a day job where the stuff they work on would find the sum total of metal I own to be "too small to fire up the big equipment for"---Hi Patrick!
   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/18/04 17:38:50 EST

I just got my new shop all set up and completed the large side draft brick forge, thanks to you guys, you have been a lot of help. I have only been smithing for about a year and have been using a torch to heat my work. Now that I have built the new forge i have a question. What are the tricks to building a nice high coal bed? I want to heat the center of a 2' piece of 1/2" sq stock and cant seem to get the coals high enough to slide the stock through the center of the fire for a good heat. I am not having a problem with heating the ends just the center. Any help would be great.
   Jeff - Thursday, 11/18/04 17:52:01 EST


Email me a picture of the new forge, and I may be able to help you. One method that works well is to build a temporary "fire box" of fire brick around the actual fire box. That confines the fire and makes it deeper. Frequently, a lot of folks leave a couple of bricks "loose" (not mortared) on all four sides of the forge, allowing the stock to lay closer to the top of the firebox.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 11/18/04 17:56:47 EST

Drill HP: I have several (4) antique 20-21" geared head drill presses. In straight gear these machines will drill 7/8" hole as fast as you can feed while throwing off huge continous curly chips. But these machines are also known as "sensitive" drill presses and will easily bury a standard length 3/16" drill beyond the flutes repeatedly without a worry of breaking. All this with 1-1/2 HP. Back gear will allow boring a 6" diameter hole with a single point bit in CI and 4" in steel. These were one of the best metalworking machines ever designed. They were relatively expensive when last made in the 1950's but sell for only about $300 to $400 now. Weight, around 750 pounds. See my iForge article on drilling and drill press furniture.

Now, the problem with department store and cheapo drill presses is that they ARE NOT a metal working machine. They run WAY to fast. The speed range of those 21" drill presses is about 800 RPM to 150 in straight grar and 100 to 25 RPM in back gear. These are metalworking speeds. The one you are looking at has a range of 620-3100 RPM. The maximum drill it can push in steel is MAYBE 3/8". It will go slow enough for larger (1/2") but will not have enough torque due to the narrow little single stage step pulley it uses. This is a light duty machine designed for small work in wood, plastics and light metals like aluminum.

The 16 speed drill press Sears sold years ago (probably still does) had a 3/16" wide belt on single reduction . . . the industry standard for this range had been 1/2" wide V belts in double reduction and still is on good machines.

Drilling also takes PRESSURE. Any time chips are not being made and rapidly ejected you are not using enough feed pressure. When the drill does not cut, it rubs, gets hot, burns up. To drill efficiently without trashing bits requires a rigid heavy machine. Those 20-21" drills I mentioned will save the cost of an expensive machine in bits not broken or needing resharpening in a few weeks of regular use.

If you want to drill REAL holes, save your money, shop around and buy a REAL machine. NOTE: I spend more than $150 each on GOOD Jacobs chucks for each of the drill presses I own including a $25 hand crank blacksmiths drill. THINK about the quality of a machine that costs less than a decent chuck. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/18/04 18:24:42 EST

Jeff, is the fire pot flush with the hearth? How deep is the fire pot?
Also you can build your fire and then use wet coal to build a mound. It dies use more coal, but it is one way. Then once you are done with teh heavy work you just remove some of the unburned coal as well as some of the new coke. Then you have a small fire again.
In a solid fuel forge fire tending is just about the most important art/science/magic.
   Ralph - Thursday, 11/18/04 20:36:08 EST

Radial Drills: Nothing to add on the comments so far other than to emphasize buying the biggest and heaviest model you can find. I did see an interesting radial drill several years ago made by Rockwell and designed to make holes in airplane cowlings using jigs with drill bushings. The drill motor was in the head and geared for speed control plus it was mounted on HEAVY duty dovetails so the arm carriage could be pulled or pushed with little effort. The column allowed swinging and locking left or right. In addition, the head was on a universal pivot so it could be easily swung to a maximum of 45 degrees front to back or right to left, then locked into position. There were very accurate scales on all pivot points so the drill could be set quickly. The motor was 1hp and was rated at a maximum capacity of 1/2" drill bit. The radial arm reached about 3 feet from the column and the flat, scraped bed was 3x3 with T-slots. This was a heavy duty industrial machine used in a jet repair facility (Kelly AFB, San Antonio, TX). In practice, it was used in the following manner - the sheet metal was clamped onto the table with a holding fixture, the drill jig was put into place and clamped, then the operator started manipulating the head manually until the bit lined up with a bushing hole, then it was locked and the hole drilled until all holes were completed. There was no power feed - everything was done manually. Some of the fixtures had over 50 bushings in various sizes - the operator would usually start with the smallest size and work up until every hole was done. They also used pin gages in each hole to insure everything was drilled before removing the fixture. The part went to the plane and was riveted into place.

This thing was up at auction and I let it go when it went over $700. I considered it to be a truly "universal" drill but didn't have the coin to spend at the time. I have never seen one since.
   - HWooldridge - Thursday, 11/18/04 21:00:13 EST

RE: Turning Work Hardend Wheels, I used to work for the BN. They make a cutting shoe to replace the brake shoes on locomotives. The locomotive is then run with about 10 psi air set against the brakes. It is noisy as heck, but it rounds out the wheel during the normal course of work

   Woody - Thursday, 11/18/04 21:03:57 EST

The firepot is flush on the front and back but the sides neer the smoke entrance and hearth are raised. It is a centre vulcan firepot on a steel hearth.
   Jeff - Thursday, 11/18/04 21:06:27 EST

Jeff, It sounds like you do not have a side blast, but a bottom blast. The air enters the ash barrel from the side but then goes upward. Maybe you are using the wrong coal. If it is a non-coking grade, it turns into ash and keeps collapsing. If if's a good coking coal, use lots of it. Don't dip your work in the fire like a dipstick. pun intended. When possible, your workpiece should be level with the hearth, usually going in horizontally, if the shape will allow. You should have at least a 4" coke bed under your work and perhaps 1" to 2" of coke on top of your work to act as a refractory. Gets a much quicker heat. If you can't see the heat colors on your steel, pull the piece back to take a look every now and then, or make a peep hole in the top layer of coke. One gets accustomed to managing the fire in this manner. Eventually, it becomes non-cognitive, and you won't have to think about it much, either.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/19/04 00:00:10 EST

HI i im going to try to make a forge and i will be using a Brake Drum or a big steel disk and i was wondring how thick it should be or if i need to line it with fireclay?
   - aaron - Friday, 11/19/04 00:30:46 EST


You shouldn't need to line either with fireclay. If you opt for the brake drum, you might want to use clay to taper the sides so the coal moves to the center more easily, but again, it's not necessary to make it work. If you opt for the steel disc, you'll have a wider, flatter work area. In this case, you might want to use clay to build up a ring around the tuyere to concentrate your fire (making a duck's nest or "pseudo-firepot"). I personally tend to lean more towards the brake drum, as the disc makes for such a shallow fire.

The stand-alone brake drum forge is fine for starting out, but you'll soon want to drop it down into some sort of forge table, so you'll have more room for coal and your work, and a reduced likelyhood of dumping hot coal out of your firepot and onto your foot. :-o

In essence the brake drum forge is really a firepot looking for a home, so if you have some steel plate available to make a forge table, I'd go ahead and make it at first and save the trouble of adding it later.

That's my 2¢
   eander4 - Friday, 11/19/04 02:11:49 EST

Fatigue Life --

Not a new concept. If you haven't read "One-Hoss Shay" by Oliver Wendell Holmes, it's good for a grin or two. This site is one of many Google turned up with the poem: www.legallanguage.com/poems/onehossshay.htm
   MIke B - Friday, 11/19/04 07:25:17 EST

I tuned in the "One-Hoss Shay" and also found Holmes' "Chambered Nautilus". My mouse pointer told me that the pictured nautilus was Holmes' bookplate. If you're unfamiliar with the shell, it is Mother Nature's attempt at making a perfect scroll. Blows m'mind.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/19/04 09:21:44 EST

Frank, I don't think I would use the word "attempt" I'd rather say Mother Nature was setting the bar for the rest of us so she could sit back and have a good laugh as *we* "attempted". Fiddle leaf ferns are also an object lesson in humility.

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/19/04 11:59:59 EST

Can I get info on Annealing, Hardening and Tempering A-2 steel? Can I use oil or is this an air hardening steel? How hard can I get it? The little I found on it shows it would be suitable for impact type uses (hammer heads, chisels and punches). Any pitfalls I need to know about using this alloy?
   MikeA - Friday, 11/19/04 12:24:40 EST

MikeA - try going to http://www.windsorsteel.com/grades/a-2.htm. Depending on size, this is an air hardening tool steel - The site mentioned has a good rundown on how to heat treat A-2. I didn't want to waste space on the forum so just copied the site location.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 11/19/04 12:37:33 EST

Hi everyone!
Please....some information about double tempering.
Basic methods and how to's....
Thank u, and have a nice weekend!!!
   sharon - Friday, 11/19/04 13:04:08 EST

Thank you very much Gavainh, that's exactly what I needed. Just didn't know where to get it, so far none of my searches or the FAQ had given me the info. Thanks again.
   MikeA - Friday, 11/19/04 13:26:26 EST

Sharon, A blacksmith answers, not a metallurgist. My Machinery's Handbook, 20th Edition, says that double tempering is a common procedure for high speed steels. Personally, I don't heat treat high speed steels; they are high moly or high moly/tungsten alloys that are difficult for a general smith to handle. But if you have hardened, say, M2 at 1660ºF in oil, then you take it to 1100ºF (a dark red color) for tempering, hold for a couple of hours and air cool. When room temperature, you repeat the tempering process as before. The reasoning is that in these high alloy steels, even after the first tempering, you may retain some martensitic structure, so the second tempering will take care of it.

Having said that, I understand the well known knife maker, Bill Moran, tempers his W2 blades three times in a row to the same tempering colors each time. I believe his reasoning is that the triple temper is more "thorough". W2 specs don't require this, but Moran likes it.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/19/04 14:28:04 EST

Thank you Frank!!!
   Sharon - Friday, 11/19/04 16:20:50 EST

Welding on leaves: Making a small floral arrangement with very thin leaves. All done in my little gasser. If I forge the leaves first and then try to weld them on, the forge will scale them up badly. Its the old "short heat in the middle of a bar" problem that all gassers have. (I know the right thing is to do it with a torch - but just for grins Id like to do a forge weld here) Two solutions occur to me. First, weld on the leaves a "buds" and forge them out afterwards. Second roll up the leaves and slip the piece into a section of pipe so that only the welded area is exposed. I am very interested in hearing any techniques or ideas for this problem. Thank you
   adam - Friday, 11/19/04 16:26:35 EST

Adam, Did we do the rose leaf weld when you were here? I welded a vee shaped piece of 5/16" round about 1½" from the end of a "straight piece of 5/16" round. When the weld was completed, each of the three prongs was cropped to roughly 1¼" long, so the ensemble looked like a turkey track. With each successive heat, all three were hit with a ball peen pretty much in the same place and close to the weld. You get a nice spread after several heats. The ends are trimmed with a hot chisel and cold file finished. You get scale, but you can wire brush before each hammering sequence. Some of this is in Schwarzkopf, but his weld is a cruciform shape, no vee.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/19/04 17:28:06 EST

Adam, how about dipping the leaves in a protective wash to prevent them from scaling away, (wasn't that in a song---"I'm scaling away...") IIRC ITC has one specifically designed for this.

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/19/04 18:21:03 EST

re scaly leaves:
Seems you could make a slurry of clay as well? Or am I wrong?
   Ralph - Friday, 11/19/04 20:26:35 EST

will the propane burner found at www.backyardmetalcasting.com, work for a forge capable of welding heat? it is yery similar to the EZ burner, but instead of a reducer bell it has 3, 3/8 inch holes drilled in one end of a 3/4 inch pipe. on his burner he has a #57 jet hole
   - bjorn - Friday, 11/19/04 20:32:44 EST

Finite machinery life-- a while back this was euphemistically called "value engineering." It translates out to "permanently lubricated" electric motors with no oil cups, etc. Radial drill-- there is a truly humongous one included in that swatch of snaps of the work rooms in the abandoned Welsh slate quarry posted here a while back.
   - Joaquin Murietta - Friday, 11/19/04 21:03:57 EST

Thomas P-- Just tried Emailing you re: trip hammer at the address on your recent postings but message bounced.
   - Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/19/04 23:28:12 EST

Miles my new address is thomaspowers at zianet dot com.

I'm sitting up and taking notice and drooling, now please tell me about the hammer!!!!!!

Pretty Please!

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/19/04 23:53:32 EST

Miles if the home address is being snotty I can post my work address too.

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/19/04 23:55:31 EST

Adam, The old formula from "20th Century Toolsmith & Steelworker" was one half salt and one half wheat flour mixed to a paste with water and applied to a knife steel to protect the tiny, lengthwise grooves when hardening. Perhaps on leaves to inhibit scaling?
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/20/04 00:08:26 EST

I think Frank meant "file steel" as that is what I remember that formula used for.

Miles the suspense is killing me!

   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/20/04 00:30:29 EST

Thomas P-- Just now re-sent message to your work address.
   - Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/20/04 00:40:55 EST

Thanks; I'll go in early tomorrow and get it. Don't think the wife would buy me going in right now....

Thats the one at NRAO, right?
   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/20/04 00:47:14 EST

Thomas P-- The one you listed above: zianet.com (The other won't accept the message or something. My server reports your mailbox is currently suspended.)
   - Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/20/04 00:53:56 EST

Zianet is my home address, the old att one was a home address too---I used to work at Lucent and had a lucent address at one time.

I've received the mail---THANKS for the heads up!

   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/20/04 01:03:31 EST

Drills and such:

Lot's of good information on drill presses. I'll have to haunt the industrial area of Seattle to see if I can come up with a monster drill press. I'll just strap it to the roof of my Honda.
   - Tom T - Saturday, 11/20/04 02:34:39 EST

Porter's gas forge book:

Has anyone made the 1" burner from the Porter book? the 1" burner has some errata. You need a 3/4x1/4NPT busing, not a 1x1/4NPT bushing, as listed in the parts list. Not a big deal, unless you live 45 minutes from the nearest hardware store.

Two 3/4" EZ type burners are barely able to get the front 1/3" of my 14" diameter tube forge up to welding heat. We'll see if the 1" burner can bust it out.
   - Tom T - Saturday, 11/20/04 02:51:49 EST

Tom, what are you working with that you need a 14" diameter forge...? Large sculptural work?
   T. Gold - Saturday, 11/20/04 07:13:18 EST

I am hoping to have a couple of molds made to reproduce garden items in copper. One item is a small antique wall pocket I already have, the other would be a small floral container I want to have designed. I am in Orange County, California. Do you have any suggestions? So far I have had no luck. Thanks Much! Maggie McFarland
   Maggie McFarland - Saturday, 11/20/04 10:53:48 EST

Maggie, In metalcasting you have "patterns" which are used to create molds in sand or plaster. Patterns are usualy similar to the part except made in wood, plastic or metal. Wood is the most common. In some cases the original part is used as a pattern.

Patterns must be able to be taken out of the sand or plaster so that the metal can be poured in. This requires that there be no undercuts. Often to support a pattern so that it can have a mold made there is a "follower board" that the pattern rests on. If the part is hollow you need a "core box". All these things are made by a pattern maker.

Every foundry has their preferences as to how the patterns are setup. So they work with specific pattern makers OR have pattern makers on staff. Foundries are also finicky about quantities ordered and such.

So the first thing is to find a foundry that will do your casting. They may recommend a pattern maker.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/20/04 13:27:46 EST

I was wondering if you know a good way to make oak leaves?
Thank you,
   Ed - Saturday, 11/20/04 14:53:58 EST

Thanks Guru! Maggie
   Maggie McFarland - Saturday, 11/20/04 14:57:44 EST


Plant an acorn and wait a few years. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/20/04 15:16:25 EST


Seriously speaking, oak leaves are pretty large and multi-lobed, so I think sheet stock would be the place to start. Say, 14 gauge sheet steel and cut the general shape out with a chisel or bandsaw, then forge the lobes to contour them and put in veins with a dull chisel that has some rocker to it so you can chase it down the veins without leaving start and stop marks. To make the veins look better, chase them over a block of scrap that has a shallow groove in it.

The stem can be either cut from the sheet along with the leaf, with the width about 3 times the thickness of the sheet so you can forge it down to round, or you can add it on by forge welding or gas welding.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/20/04 18:54:17 EST

hey guru the one thing you dont have on your iforge is how to mack tools such as chisles or other woodworking tools which is the main reason i started balcksmithing(do you know how much a good chisle will cost you? hint the anser is alot more then you think)so is there anyone out there that wants to do it so i can start making some chisles and such?John
   - John S - Saturday, 11/20/04 20:04:38 EST

John S-- Balcksmithing a chisle's an absolute snap. Whatyou do is, get yourself a piece of high carbon, then grind or cut or pound away everything that does not look like a chisle. Then heat that entire piece to a nice, bright orange or maybe even a white and dunk it into a pail of water. Then sandpaper it, so it's nice a shiny, heat the tang end until the heat rainbow appears-- you'll know it when you see it-- and when the straw color hits the business end, zowie! Quench it again, pronto. A chisle!
   - El Tiradito - Saturday, 11/20/04 21:18:21 EST

John S, These books were listed not too long ago. They have chisels and much more. "Toolmaking for Woodworkers" by Ray Larsen; "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" by Alexander Weigers; "American Blacksmithing and The Twentieth Century Toolsmith and Steelworker" by Homlstrom and Holford. Try abebooks.com.

El Tiradito, The Little Drawn Out Person, is hoorawin' you.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/20/04 23:38:11 EST

Oak Leaves: As VIc pointed out they are pretty much of a plate forging job. We have photos in our NEWS coverage of the first Boone Hammerfest we went to. The leaves were cut free hand from plate with a plasma torch. The stems were cut fairly wide. Then the leaf was folded on the center, opened and flattened leaving the center ridge and the stem curled in a U. Then seperate veins were made by folding and the whole given some shape.

At the BigBLU Power hammer school I tried forging an oak leaf using untried methods. For a first attempt if was so-so. After a couple I think it would be posible to do a good job. Starting with a 1" square bar, it was pointed and a stem formed. Then it was flattened on the diagonal to about 1/2". After that I fullered the places between lobes and then flattened and drew out width wise using the crown dies. I needed to have fullered deeper and flatened some between stages of fullering (I think). It is a heck of a forging job and I would not want to try it by hand.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/21/04 00:24:08 EST

Wood Chisles: Though El Tiradito's (AKA Miles, Joaquin, Damien deLaTerious . . . ) comments were tongue in cheek he was not that far off. Like many edged tools there is a lot of grinding to be done. And like a lot of tools and other items, if you know what it looks like then you know how to make it.

There are many types of chisels and we cover several in iForge demos on other things. Socketed chisels require either a shoulder and short tang that is upset inside the socket which is made from tapered tube/pipe and welded OR the socket is formed from the shank by forging a thin flat V shaped piece which is rolled to make the socket which can be welded or left un welded. To get a consistant taper the sockets should be formed and sized over a tapered mandrel.

I prefer modified tanged chisels. These have a heavy round shoulder formed by starting with round bar and reducing the rest. The shoulder has a large fillet radius for strength. A seperate tapered ferule is made about the size of a chisel socket. Between the round tang and socket/ferule a very solid durable handle mounting is created.

To forge gouges requires a swage block or bottom dies and a top fuller to fit. I've made them with edge tapers inside OR out to great benefit. One of the hot gotta have it turning gouges was machined from a piece of round bar using a radius cutter in a horizontal mill. All the sharpening on this heavy section tool was on the outside. Strangely this non-traditional form works well in hand carving as well as turning.

Another book that has various forms of chisels (as well as many other Colonial era tools) and how they were forged is Eric Sloane's "Museum of Early American Tools". Now out of print but copies can be found.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/21/04 00:56:59 EST

3/4" pipe burners: A single burner such as the ones I show in our burner FAQ will fire a 6" ID by 10" crucible forge built from a freon bottle such that it will melt 3 pounds of brass in less than 10 minutes from startup and also fire a larger 8" ID forge built from a small propane cylinder.

14" diameter means about an 18" OD. That is a BIG gas forge as blacksmiths forges go. How LONG is it? If you read any of the books or articles closely you will see that they get a specific forge volume per burner. Look at NC-Tool Forges. For this volume (guesssing your length is twice the diameter) they would be running 8 or 10 of their modular burners which are slightly smaller bore than 3/4" pipe.

One puny blown burner like my "stupid gas burner" would bring your monster up to welding heat in a couple minutes. A lot cheaper and easier to build for a large forge and always make LOTS of BTU's. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/21/04 01:37:36 EST

Thanks Guru for the info on oak leaves.
   Ed - Sunday, 11/21/04 06:02:41 EST

Gouges: I have made a few sets of woodcarving gouges and all but the *&$%#@*& Vee tool worked very well. The real secret to making a good gouge is to form it with a uniform cross-section and taper it from the edge backwards. A good swage works good up to a point but you need the skill to forge the cross-section properly. W1 drill rod works well for smaller tools.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/21/04 10:45:11 EST

The difficulty I have had making AND OR maintaining V's is the grinding or the inside corner. Either you can't keep a good corner on the grinding wheel OR you make too deep a cut in the corner which results in a dip or split corner. When they are soft enough to file you have better control but often it is difficult file in the corner as it is to grind.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/21/04 11:38:37 EST

I am thinking of buying a lathe model Southbend Junior from from '57 (I think). Is anyone familiar with this model? My understanding is that this is a cut down version of the 10" and has heavier components than the 9" Workshop model which followed it. It will be used now and then in a small blacksmith's shop. I would appreciate any comments. Thanks
   adam - Sunday, 11/21/04 18:03:32 EST

Southbend: Adam, Southbend made fairly decent lathes. They ranged from the early flat belt drive machines to the heavy 16" tool room lathes that were found in many high schools. I am not familiar with this model but they are all very similar. I have a little 6" Craftsman lathe from 1950 and a 13" long bed 1916 Southbend. For small work the small lathe is more convienient than the larger lathe. However, if the work is bigger than 3/4" the larger lathe is much more efficient and does a better job. There are no parts available and very few tools available for these lathes.

Lathes either came with quick change gear boxes or did not. Forget chasing threads if it did not. Usualy you can find some other way in the time it takes to setup change gears. If the lathe does not have a QC box then be sure it has the stack of change gears and bushings that came with it.

The important thing about old lathes is that they have all the standard attachents.
  • Face plate
  • Centers (2)
  • Drive dogs (set of 4-6)
  • Tool Post
  • Tool holders (left, right, center)
  • Steady rest

Then there are the minimum optional attachments:
  • Drive dog plate
  • 4 Jaw Chuck
  • 3 Jaw Chuck (both sets of jaws)
  • Tail Stock Jacobs chuck
  • Follower Rest
  • Special Tool Holders
    • Cut Off
    • Threading
    • Knurl
  • Live Center

Optional Special Purpose Attachements:
  • Taper Attachment
  • Milling Attachment
  • Wood turning centers
  • Bull Center

The first group came with the lathe. The second were often bundled with the lathe OR should have been purchased by the original owner. They make the lathe efficient and enjoyable to use. They are the minimum for serious general use. Of the last group the milling attachement is worthless. The taper attacment is VERY handy. Wood turning centers are not necessary to do wood turning but are helpful. The bull center is needed for tubing and pipe turning. I manufactured one for my 6" lathe from a standard size live center.

The advantage of buying an old lathe is that it SHOULD come with the tooling. However, it is common for machinery dealers to buy old machines and sell the tooling of seperately because much of it works with later model machines. Thus there are lots of old machines around that are missing even the change gears and face plate that were PART OF THE LATHE!

I have also run into folks having lost one of the jaws from on of the sets for a three jaw (scroll) chuck. There are no replacements and making one is nearly impossible. This makes the chuck nearly worthless. You can purchase new chucks to fit old lathes but one chuck will likely cost more than what you paid for the lathe.

Machine tools without the furniture or attachments are a pain to use and not very useful. When I setup old machines I will go to the expense to buy chucks, tool holders and various pieces costing much more than the original tool in order to make it useful. It makes a HUGE difference. See my iForge demo on Drill Press Furniture for an example of tooling you can make in the blacksmith shop. I have similar bolts and clamps for use with my lathe faceplates.

So, look close, take inventory. It may be a good deal OR may be a money pit. If you are unfamilair with the tooling I have named or what it is for then get a book on machine work and study it before looking at used machinery.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/21/04 18:56:01 EST

Hello again
Thank you everyone who answered my last post.
Question: What gauge metal should the chiminey flue for my forge be? What about the walls surrounding the forge area. Should I put any special type of fire resistant paneling up. Any suggestions what to use?
Thanks again
   - DB - Sunday, 11/21/04 20:08:00 EST

Could you tell me what gauge the metal should be for the flue pipe for my forge. Also, any special materials that should go on the wall near the forge, something fireproof?Any suggestions?
   - DB - Sunday, 11/21/04 20:09:27 EST

I have heard minor parts of a legend concerning the forging of a blade under the eclipse of the moon. It is said the blade is unbreakable. I have not, however, been able to find any more on the subject despite my search. I would really like to know the complete legend and perhaps the history of it a.k.a. the why's and what-for's. if you could please answer me on this I would much appreciate it. Thank you very much.
   Rae - Sunday, 11/21/04 21:18:30 EST

Howdy! I am in need of some serious help. You see, i am looking to build a mechanical power hammer, something like the NC-JYH on the power hammer page. But im not sure about the design of it. First off, the stroke lenght. How do you determine it? Second, the toggle linkage. I dont completely understand what the spring does and how it is adjustable.I get the tie rods and how those are set up, except for the lenght, by the way what is a good length for the arms?I also understand how the pillow block was used. thats simple. The only thingsi have trouble with right now is the stroke length and the linkage.
I definitely appreciate all the help i receive from everyone out there. Well thats all for now!
   Blueboy - Sunday, 11/21/04 21:56:28 EST

How do i join the blacksmithing gild
   Jason - Monday, 11/22/04 05:52:08 EST


You should really watch a mechanical hammer in action to understand how that linkage works. The stroke length of the hammer head is a function of the linkage itself, determined by the mechanical relationships, the spring strength and the speed of the hammer.

Basically, the linkage is what allows the hammer to adapt to differing thicknesses of stock and to develop much of its power. The actual stroke of the pitman arm, determined by the crankpin's offset from the center of the flywheel, is much less than the actual throw of the hammer head. The action of the toggle arms working against the spring, serves to allow the hammer head to overthrow the movement of the pitman arm. This action happens at a different time in the cycle of the flywheel, resulting in a dwell. The net result is that the hammer head has much more velocity and "snap" than it would if it was directly connected to the pitman arm.

Picture a piece of elastic cord held between your two hands, with a small weight in the middle of the cord. As you move your hands up, the weight lags behind due to inertia, stretching the elastic. After a bit of lag, it begins moving up. If you change directions and move your hands down while the weight is still moving up, there will be another lag before it changes direction, further stretching the elastic. With the right speed of oscillation, you can keep the weight going up and down a foot or so with only 4” movement of your hands. Since the weight is moving a greater distance than your hands in the same amount of time each cycle, it is traveling faster than your hands. Basically, that is what the toggle linkage does in a mechanical hammer.

The forces involved in all this are pretty significant, so everything needs to be robust enough to handle the stresses. You also need to have a guard over the linkage in case something turns out to be not robust enough and suddenly flies apart.

Find someone in your area who has a mechanical hammer like a Little Giant and watch it work. That will go further to explain the linkage than my words possibly can. You must understand that linkage well in order to design and build a hammer that will work effectively.
   vicopper - Monday, 11/22/04 09:34:59 EST

Jason: there is a national organization called ABANA at www.abana.org there are also local chapters in each states - check the affiliates link at that page

Lathe: Guru - thank you for your detailed response. I appreciate it.
   adam - Monday, 11/22/04 10:18:10 EST

Myths: Rae, On our story page we have historical various myths and legends related to blacksmithing. However, when it comes to technological myths, modern/urban myths, rumor and new age gobbelygook we are myth busters. Your moon eclipse story sounds like something from modern fantasy or a role playing game of which there are thousands, if not millions of individual sources. Good luck on your search.
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 10:24:23 EST

Myths: I've not heard that one and I've heard a goodly ammount of them. Do you know which ethnic group it comes from?

Most moon myths seem to have things increasing in strength as the moon waxes and decreasing as it wanes. Now
   - ThomasP - Monday, 11/22/04 10:54:39 EST

Myths: I've not heard that one and I've heard a goodly ammount of them. Do you know which ethnic group it comes from?

Most moon myths seem to have things increasing in strength as the moon waxes and decreasing as it wanes. Now "evil" things are often tied to the moon's waning so I could expect a "sword that is deadlier" forged during the waning myth---however if you look at the guild rules for medieval smiths forging and finishing are forbidden after dark as a quality control measure---so generally nothing was forged by moonlight in medieval times.

Now the old re-forge a broken sword into a better one may actually have a factual basis. If the sword broke from having too high a carbon content over all or in a specific area---much more common in early steel swords---then taking the pieces and stacking them and welding them into a billet and forging them out into a sword blade will tend to even out and lower the carbon content making it a better blade than before---of course if they got it right the first time...

   ThomasP - Monday, 11/22/04 10:55:09 EST

Lunar Eclipsian Forging:

Sounds like one of the many magical associations related to the Kris. I have a few more in the sword article at: http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/armor/atli/swords1.htm and there's a very good book on the subject listed in the bibliography at: http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/armor/atli/SISS_bibliography.htm .

Sometimes it's not just the salesmanship of the maker but the faith of the believer who wields it that can make a weapon effective. Unfortunately, faith without skill can rapidly lead to the demise of the same person. A weapon, by it's very nature, is a symbol of power, and atracts other symbolic enhancements; but the reality is that a blade forged during a lunar eclipse would be no better (or no worse) than the skill and faith of the maker and the user.

Cloudy but not too cold on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/22/04 10:59:58 EST

So I did two forge welds this weekend to practice. First off it took me forever to get the temp right but using a small poker to check for "stickiness" seemed to work quite well. Next question then. Seems I've read that you should only work a forge welded piece at welding heat or you risk breaking open the weld. Is this true? or is it specific to certain alloys?
   MikeA - Monday, 11/22/04 11:29:41 EST

JYH Booklet: Many years ago I promissed a JYH how-to booklet. The reason it has not been finished is that most of the how-to in building a JYH is engineering that requires some inate mechanical design skills. Besides what VIc had to say above (it REALLY does help to have some experiance with the beast) here are a few statements on building a JYH.

1) It actually takes more skill to design and build using available or given parts than to design everything from scratch. This applies to engineering projects where can purchase any component you want as well as JYH projects.

2) Building a JYH is a hard-core DIY philosophy for the stubborn and persistant who discount their time as being worth very little. A JYH is often not a financialy sound project and are never as good as a commerical machine.

3) If you cannot accept failure or accept it poorly and do not handle setbacks requiring major rethought and reconfiguration of projects, then DON'T START a JYH project!

4) If you cannot financialy afford the machine to be a failure (the best are half as good as comercial machines) then DO NOT spend any cash money on it.

5) A JYH is built from found or scrounged materials of oppourtunity NOT a parts list or bill of materials. If you purchase a significant quantity of new parts and materials new you CANNOT beat the cost of a BigBLU or a used mechanical hammer in perfect/rebuilt condition. See #2 above.

6) No two are alike due to the parts never being identical.

7) A JYH needs a significant anvil just as any other power hammer. Scrimping on mass results in an inefficient poorly performing machine.

8) A machine with slow heavy blows is easier to build than a fast machine with complicated dynamics.

9) After you find your parts and pieces it helps to carefully measure them and make dimensioned sketches of each part. Measurements should be with a tool such as a precision dial caliper. Rough dimensions may be recorded in fractions but bores, shaft sizes, bolt circles or hole spacing should be in decimals to three places.

10) Layout the parts on grid paper. Plan on redrawing the moving parts numerous times in different operating positions. You need to do this to find limits, interference and to design parts to connect the pieces. This requires a compass, scales and some draftig skill. Mylar grid paper is the BEST as you can erase and erase. It is also easy to see through so it is great for tracing and making those step by step movement drawings. Special pencils and erasers required. NOTE: This can be done by hand on plain paper IF you have very good drawing skills but I advise that you take advantage of professional materials. Drafting (Mechanical Drawing) is a basic skill that every blacksmith should learn and practice. Skillful free hand drawing is needed by artist blacksmiths. Both can be learned with practice.

11) You need access to SOME tools and machines and knowledge to use them. Even the crudest machine needs holes drilled (often quite large) and relatively square cuts on thick materials. A small lathe is almost indespensible. Holes that are going to be threaded must be drilled straight and square as well as too the correct size. You CAN do a lot with a cutting torch and a grinder but it is time consuming and requires skill of eye and hand (think of the perfect 1" cube project we discussed last week - just HOW FLAT a surface can you make by hand from an ugly rough torched up plate?)

12) Although they are more expensive to build as they almost always require numerous NEW components, DIY air hammers are the most successful projects and perform the best. Those built with new cylinders sized correctly for the hammer perform nearly as well as commercial hammers. Usualy all that is lacking is long term durability.

IF you want to understand the workings of the Little Giant Toggle linkage you can do no better than to purchase a copy of Dave Manzer's Little Giant tune up video "The Powerhammer Cycle: How to Cure the Bang-Tap-Miss Blues".

If you are going to build an air hammer I highly recommend the Mark Lynn air hammer video "Controlling Your Air Hammer".

Both are reviewed on our book review page and we sell the Dave manzer video.

AND. . . I need to divest myself or the famous EC-JYH. It weighs 1300 pounds and I can load into your truck. Accepting offers now.
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 11:37:21 EST

Hello Everybody

I have a question about lining and a bottom for the propane forge I am making. Plans for it can be seen at www.geocities.com/aaroncissell/Forge.html

I am going to add 1” of Kaowool and cover it in the ITC100 but I understand that I should have a more solid bottom. If I put a fire brick in the bottom could I just sit it on the coated Kaowool or would this compress the Kaowool and break the coating?

I am planning on using two of the ¾” Reil EZ burners to fire the forge.
   Aaron Cissell - Monday, 11/22/04 11:49:27 EST

Forging Welds: Mike, it depends on the quality of the weld which is also related to the material. Wrought iron is nothing BUT a mass of welds and being low/no carbon any decarburization that could occur makes no difference. The higher the carbon the steel the greater the difference the decarburization makes. The low carbon weld zone being softer and weaker than the higher carbon steel surrounding it. NOW. . . when you make cable Damascus or laminated steel it often depends on the decarburized weld zones to add ductility as well as pattern in the steel.

In all cases you should not exceed the recommended forging temperature for the specific steel. The maximum for low carbon or mild steel is about 2400°F. The maximum for 95 point carbon steel is 2150°F. This is a straight line function. The forging range extends downward to the upper transformation temperature. Where there are forge welds you are best to stay at the high end of the forging range.

The ART: I was given a gift of a piece of iron Japanese screen that dates from the 1800's. It is a group of small bamboo type leaves about 1" long welded on stems no larger than 1/8" diameter. The frame that these were welded to is about 1/8" by 1/4". It is all forge welded from wrought iron. Some stems as long as a foot have as many as 10 leaves and welds! This was probably all done in a charcoal forge no bigger than a Hibatchi. Wonderful work. . .
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 12:16:19 EST

Aaron. Kaowool under the firebrick is fine. ITC 100 will probably not do much there but it wont hurt. Your burn chamber is about 2x too large for a 3/4" burner. Consider adding another inch of insulation and using a 6" dia chamber which is a more practical size.
   adam - Monday, 11/22/04 12:28:50 EST

Arron, it is difficult from your drawing to tell where the floor is going to go.

First, do not coat the Kaowool under the floor. Set the hard refractory directly on the Kaowool. I usualy tear up pieces to fill the area under the flat brick. Compress the Kaowool until you have firm support. When the forge is assembled you can coat the entire interior with ITC-100. After the first coating I would fill in the cracks along the edges of the floor with torn Kaowool scraps and glue then in and coat them with ITC-100 as well.

Normally you want the floor to extend out of the front of the forge to create a "hearth" for sliding work in and out. When making a propane bottle forge it helps to make a straight line in the opening where the floor is to rest. The back "port" is best at this level as well.

Your forge will also need doors to help reduce the vent size and to help contain the heat. Loose fitting angle iron guides and a couple split fire brick work well for this.
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 12:33:18 EST

Tom T- you must have blinked- there is no "industrial area of Seattle". Not unless you consider espresso industrial. There are no more used machinery dealers, or for that matter, new machinery dealers in the south end of Seattle any more. Rents went too high when Starbucks moved their headquarters in, and Paul Allen bought every building on First Avenue. So used industrial tools are darn hard to come by in the Northwest. You can check Boeing Surplus, Murphy Auctions, and the Little Nickel.
   - Ries - Monday, 11/22/04 12:39:10 EST

Ok, that's kind of what it felt like. Once I realized that I was sort of on my own (my buddies in the shop were watching, but none of them know how) I just started playing with it. It was a set of mild steel tongs so I wasn't too worried about taking too much carbon out of the metal. I had my best success working the weld during the same heat as making the weld but if I let it get too cool, the last half inch or so would break open. Reflux, reweld and work some more and it went pretty well. I checked out the iForge demo on welding, and like it says there, practice practice practice.
   MikeA - Monday, 11/22/04 12:40:55 EST

Copper molds- my guess is what maggie has was not cast, and she doesnt want a patternmaker- the wall pockets I have seen were stamped from thin copper sheet, by a company like W.F Norman, in Nevada Missouri. They make tin ceiling panels, ornamental roof tiles, gutters, finials, planters and all kinds of other cool stuff using 100 year old drop presses, and original dies. Good chance they made maggies pieces in the first place, and if not, they could do it if you wanted enough pieces. Repousse on an industrial scale, if you will. Check out their website at wfnorman.com - 1300 catalog items of ornaments available in copper- from eagles to gargoyles.
   - Ries - Monday, 11/22/04 12:45:02 EST

Mike: It is safest to do heavy forging on a weld at welding heat. Moving the metal makes it slide sideways (shear) which tends to break the weld. If the weld is really sound this isnt necessary. The usual problem is that the flaps arent properly welded down. Closing the flaps is the hardest part of welding IMO. Also, tong welds are positioned in same plane as the pivot surface.
   adam - Monday, 11/22/04 12:54:13 EST

Adam and his Southbend-
Not to contradict the guru, but there are parts for Southbend lathes every day on Ebay. There is also an active Yahoo southbend group, which trades and sells parts among themselves, and a southbend section over at practicalmachinist.com. Southbend was manufactured in large quantities, and there are still a lot of them around. However, as the Guru said, it is not worth buying if it is not tooled up, and if it is heavily worn in either the ways or the spindle bearings. Check the other web resources, ask questions, and you will find people who can tell you if THIS southbend is worth buying or not, and if not where to find a better one. Today there are at least 5 or so listed on ebay, along with 5 pages of parts and accesories.
   - Ries - Monday, 11/22/04 12:57:04 EST

Sorry about the drawings the floor would be even with the bottom of the front opening. I did not think about the back vent I can see what you are saying about lowering it.

I was planning to use fire brick to control the front vent as some of the pices that I want to make range from practices in the Blacksmithing books to art pices 6 x 4 x 6. Would fire brick be ok for this or would doors be better?
   Aaron Cissell - Monday, 11/22/04 13:08:32 EST

I am 16 and just bought my first forge. I have never seen any blacksmithing done, but i have read many books on the subject. The guy I bought the forge gave me a little coal he said would last me for a little while. Other than that i have a blower powerful enough to blow the fire right out of the pot, a leg vice with the leg cut off, and a few hammers. would a cross pien mounted in my vice suffice enough for cutting rebar. I know rebar is a last resort but for now it is all i have. any tips on building forge fires or anything you think i just need to know would be greatly appreciated. thanks
   Corey - Monday, 11/22/04 13:22:11 EST

need to know more information about the cherry red powder how it works please
tanx israel gamez
   - israel gamez - Monday, 11/22/04 13:26:47 EST

Adam, I'm not sure what you mean by flaps? The edges of the weld?
   MikeA - Monday, 11/22/04 13:50:21 EST

Mike: yes. the thin ends or scarfs are trickey to close
   adam - Monday, 11/22/04 13:54:45 EST

Corey, Where are you located? You may want to try to find the local blacksmith's group. ABANA has a website, and you should be able to find local smith's using that. I have yet to meet a smith that didn't love passing on their knowledge and skill to others.

No, a cross pien will not work as a hot cut. The properly formed pien's are radiused specifically to move the steel, not cut it. I think you would be far better off forging what you can with the rebar long (so you have enough length to hold on to) and then get a hacksaw to cut it until you can increase your tooling.
   Monica - Monday, 11/22/04 14:02:48 EST

Sawing, I agree with Monica. However, be forwarned that rebar is often quite hard. ALSO, unless you have significant quantities of rebar the same places that sell it also sell plain steel bar. You will find out in a hurry that it is worth buying NEW bar stock, especialy small sizes like 1/4" and 3/8" for your first forging practice.
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 14:15:04 EST

Thin Scarfs Avoid making them TOO thin. The edges should taper to blend in but the general weld area is usualy larger than the surrounding bar so that it can be dressed down to the same size and not be smaller than the surrounding mass. Gentle first blows and keeping the work off the cold anvil help keep the edges of the scarfs hot. Do not lay the work flat on the anvil, keep it slightly raised off the surface. It is not uncommon to need to reheat and finish the weld.

Although the forging is not easier, large work holds heat longer and is easier to weld.
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 14:21:50 EST

Corey,If you would e-mail me at Mseale7@msn with some specific questions maybe I can help. Be sure to add forge questions to it or I will deleat it.Because of all the viruses going around...Jimmy
   - Jimmy - Monday, 11/22/04 14:27:02 EST

Why Things Break:

Has anybody read “Why Things Break” by Mark E. Eberhart (ISBN 1-4000-4760-9; © 2003; Harmony Books/Crown/Random House)? It goes into the science of failure at the atomic and sub-atomic levels (as well as a lot, maybe too much, of personal information and some comments on science as it’s practiced in 20th and 21st century America).

Anyway, if any of you metallurgical types has read it, I’d be interested in you comments.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/22/04 14:49:43 EST

Corey and hot cutters.
Go to the iForge-Anvilfire pages, and demo #143 by Whitesmith. He shows a easy to make hot cutter. It is not "industrial duty", but its gets the job done.

Get new metal when you start smithing. You will have a standard to work with (new metal) and can see how the movement of the steel is changed by your technique. Junk yard steel can be anything, and no promise that two pieces are even the same material.
   - Conner - Monday, 11/22/04 14:50:26 EST

Old Lathes, Bed Wear: One of the biggest problems with old lathes is bed wear near the chuck. Heavily used lathes are used here more than anywhere else and the beds tend to wear if not kept VERY clean and well oiled. The result is that work almost always tapers when machined near the chuck. This may or may not be a problem depending on your use but it is a pain if you make any kind of small precision parts (shafts, pins, bushings). This is not repairable except at very high cost.

Old Lathes, Broken Back Gears: This is one of the MOST common problems on old machine tools. Shifting into back gear while ANYTHING is moving instantly breaks off teeth. Gears are expensive and replacements rare. The probability of another used lathe having good gears that fit is very low. Back gears are used for slow speed turning of anything of large diameter. If the back gears are broken do not expect to be able to turn large work (such as dressing the face plate or making a chuck adaptor, facing blocks to square up such as hammer dies. . .)

Old Lathes, Tailstock Wear: Due to the small surface area under the tailstock they often wear. I have seen as much as .015" on a toolroom Southbend. Always check your tailsock at the chuck (center to center) and with a test bar (see the Southbend - "How to Run a Lathe" book).

To adjust the tailstock verticaly requires shims. You dissasemble the tailstock at the base to body joint and make shims to fit. Wear always shortens the tailstock so new shims are required. Do this FIRST before adjusting right/left.

Old Lathes, Lead Screw Wear: Some cheaper lathes use the lead screw to drive the carriage same as threading. The result can be a worn out lead screw. This is expensive and difficult to replace so are best avoided. Most lathes drive the carriage for general work via the keyway in the lead screw or a seperate shaft and the threads RARELY wear.

Old Lathes, Compound Rest: This is one of the weakest parts on a lathe. Where the tooling slot crosses the dovetail it is often only 1/16" thick. Always be careful to adjust the position of the cross slide and the compound so that it has as much support as possible.

Old Lathes, Available Tools: You can still purchase Armstrong tool holders from '00' size like my 6" Craftsman uses up to holders that take two men to lift. Although the clunky square tooling blocks have become popular they were designed for carbide tooling and do not have nearly the flexability of use as the old standard tool post and tool holders which I much prefer. However, for boring, the heavy blocks ARE better. I made one specificaly for holding boring bars and nothing else.

Centers: Most lathe centers have Morse taper shanks. However, you must note that larger Southbends and some other lathes require a special bushing to use a center in the head stock. Live centers are generaly much better in the tail stock and are often available in sets with interchangable points. Often slipping drill chuck tapers damage the tailstock. Obtain a taper reamer to clean it up.

Centers are comonly chewed up. They can easily be dressed in the lathe using a tool post grinder. An inexpensive tool post grinder for small work can be made using a tool holder for a die grinder or a Dremel tool.

Chucks are still made with threaded back plates. However, there were no "standard" spindle nose threads so most are sold with un-threaded adaptors. These are normally threaded to fit on the lathe they are to be used on. Buck makes a WONDERFUL 6 jaw chuck that is easy on the work and can grip thin wall tubes tightly without distortion.

Back gears are standard parts available from Boston Gear and others. However, they are NOT inexpensive. That stack of gears and bushings that came with a 12" lathe can easily cost over $1500 new.

Old Lathes, Tools You Make: I have made a variety of tools for my lathes. Many are blacksmithy in nature. These have included micrometer carriage stops, cross slide stops, boring bars, friction cutting plates, arbors and double bit tool holders (the square holes hot drifted). I have seen shop built steady rests and taper attachements.

A surprising number of tools for your lathe can be made ON THE LATHE. My Southbend had a broken reversing lever body when I got it. This relatively complicated part was replaced with a weldment that was machined on the lathe that required it! However, the special gears that went with it had to be made by a local machine shop at a cost of $300 in 1980.

Lathes are great tools and deserve their King of Machine Tools title. EVERY metal working shop of any size should have one or more.
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 15:20:37 EST

I took a MatSci course that should have been titled "Why Things Break". After it I just wanted to cower in an open fiels away from flightpaths...Stress corrosion cracking, hydrogen embrittlement, fatigue, stress concentrators---all demonstrated with real world failures.

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/22/04 15:33:56 EST

Failures: The intresting thing about stress is that those spiral fractures when a drill bit or shaft breaks are absolutely mathematical and tangent to the force vectors.

It is things like bearing life and cyclic fatigue (which is why bearing surfaces break down) that are also surprisingly predictable and why manufacturers know that for a few pennies more a part can have (near) infinite life or XXX hours (miles. . ) of life. The difference is often very small and why I am often upset about the failure of many parts.
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 16:02:19 EST

Repairing lathes:

My Sheldon had wear on the ways near the headstock so there was a loose spot for about 12-15 inches. I bought a new India stone (med/fine) and honed the unworn ways by hand. I was careful to keep the stone flat and used WD40 for cutting oil. Over 3-4 hours, I reduced the height enough to allow the gibs to tighten to the point that the carriage would run up and down the bed without binding. My compound and cross slide were fine so nothing was done to those areas. It will turn to +/- .0005 if the work doesn't spring too much. My 3 jaw chuck is worn more than the lathe so I usually use collets for turning round shaft if the accuracy is needed.

This is a little 10x24 which had an extension professionally added sometime in the past to allow the tail stock to extend far past the end of the ways so a longer piece could be chucked. The former owner was a gunsmith and threaded barrels.
   - HWooldridge - Monday, 11/22/04 16:06:20 EST


Many manufacturers make a lot of money on spare parts and not much on the assembly item. I once knew a fellow who worked in the car crusher business. Those big machines were sold near cost but the spare parts were marked up 40% or more. They specified certain unique bearings, seals, pumps, etc. so you could not run down to Ace and buy replacements. I expereienced the same thing when I was in the injection molding business - the only place to buy parts for a Van Dorn was from Van Dorn. We occasionally would find something simple that could be substituted but it was rare.
   - HWooldridge - Monday, 11/22/04 16:11:15 EST

Extended lathe beds: I have seen this numerous times on a variety of lathes. One was a 20 foot long monster that just needed that extra 3 feet to get the tailstock back its own distance. The shop did pipe work and needed 20 foot PLUS. I have also seen numerous lathes with riser blocks to increase the turning diameter. A friend has an ancient lathe from the 1800's that was increased from a 3 foot swing to over 5 feet with riser blocks. In this case it MAY have been a factory job but it is hard to tell. The blocks are BIG castings that match the foot print of the head stock, tail stock and compound rest.
   - guru - Monday, 11/22/04 17:01:35 EST

First day in that class I mentioned above the Proff handed out pieces of chalk and had us break them by twisting, told us that it was the same type of sprial fracture you get while skiing, then we went into the formulas of how it hammens and what the angle of the spiral was and why...

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/22/04 17:01:43 EST

Aaron: Stacked firebrick works very well as front enclosure. Its not neat and tidy like a door but its a lot more versatile. You can always add a door later if you like. You dont need to be able fit the whole piece into the forge. If its oversized then set it infront of the mouth of the forge and stack up firebrick behind it to reflect back the heat.
   adam - Monday, 11/22/04 17:04:58 EST

Thomas P,
"Disasters Natural, and Manmade" was the extremely interesting class that had me cowering.
   ptree - Monday, 11/22/04 17:26:07 EST

Howdy again. I want to give a great big thank you to VIcoper and the Guru for answering my question about the power hammer. It really helped.Sometime i do actually plan to see a working little giant at Bob Alexander's shop. I dont know if you know of him or not, but hes only about a 1 1/2 hour drive away. And Guru, I may just have to take you up on that offer for the EC-JYH, that is if you really want to dispose of it.

Now i do have another question, this time about treadle hammers. I've been thinking a lot about the type of work I'll be doing, and a treadle hammer seems like a good way to go, even though it is not as good for drawing out. Plus they are rather simple to build. Now i was just wondering if it would work to use a cable and some pulleys to lift and lower the ram, or if i should use levers instead.

Well, thats all i have for now. Again, Thanks,
   Blueboy - Monday, 11/22/04 19:30:15 EST


Glad we could help on the powerhammer question.

As for treadle hammers, my notion is that the simpler they are, the better. A treadle with a rod to the hammer head is about as simple as it gets, and is easy to adjust if you use a threaded rod. You WILL want some adjustment room, as you wiull be using top tools that greatly change the point where the hammer contacts the work.

I have seen a drawing of a rather complex treadle hammer designed by Bruce Freeman that uses cables and pulleys to help offset the resistance of the return spring common to most treadle hammers. I have never seen one made, though.

Clay Spencer, the maven of treadle hammers, uses a simple inline design that is pretty straightforward, and he can work near magic with a treadle hammer. I'm going to build one myself soon and I'll follow the general scheme that Clay uses.
   vicopper - Monday, 11/22/04 20:19:46 EST

Israel Gamez, Are we still working on 4140? No powder is used in the heat treatment of 4140. We are talking about a bright red (rojo cereza claro a rojo claro) heat color, un color de calda. If you are heating with a torch, you must use a torch big enough to get the piece to a cherry red incandescent color all the way through (not a surface heat). Then you must quench in a large volume of oil. There is such a thing as quenching oil, but 30 weight non-detergent motor oil will work. Use tongs and immerse the entire piece rapidly in the oil bath, swishing it around in a figure-eight pattern. Bring it out when it is about touchable with the bare hand (150ºF). This is what we call "hardening". It is confusing, because in Spanish "templar" is quenching to harden.

You mentioned you had a furnace. To temper (revenir), you re-heat the piece, always below the hardening temperature. Tempering takes away brittleness (fragilidad) and at the same time, gives toughness.

Hardening and tempering are both heat treatments, tratamientos térmicos, controlled heating and cooling at specific temperatures. By doing so, you are changing the properties of the metal.

Hardening powder is used when you are "case hardening", nowadays called "carburizing" (carburación) on mild steel, (hierro dulce). By applying powder and holding the piece at a red heat for about ½ hour, extra carbon will go into the surface of the steel for maybe 15/1000 of one inch. When quenched in water at a red heat, the surface will be hard, but the interior will still be mild steel. This is NOT what you are doing.

4140 is an alloy of iron, carbon, manganese, silicon, chromium, and molybdenum. The alloying gives 4140 the ablility to harden by heat treatment. No outside powders are necessary.

   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/22/04 20:28:00 EST

Re stuff breaking down etc., Miles Undercut contacted me once, and said that if I could visit his place, I could "watch entropy happen".
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/22/04 20:46:47 EST

I posted a message on the hammer-in page about a power hammer I am interested in selling but for some reason the only response I got was from a fellow who seemed to think I lived in Greenland.I live in Greenback,Tennessee which is close to Knoxville which is in the eastern part of the state.Maybe you can give me some advice.I have a Baudry 200# hammer that I put in my shop about 20 years ago.I poured new bearings,made new belts and a brake.It's an early 1900's model-I researched it years ago.Its in excellent shape.It's powered by a 10hp single phase motor which runs thru a 3 phase converter and then powers a 7 1/2 3 phase motor on the hammer.It weighs about 7000 lbs. best I remember.I'd like to have an idea of what it's worth because I'm considering selling it so I can purchase another piece of equipment I need.Any info you could give me and any advice as to where to sell it I would greatly appreceiate.
   mark - Monday, 11/22/04 20:51:50 EST

Hi, I'm fixing to build my first Blacksmith shop to do blacksmithing as a living. am going to be getting a trip or air hammer. The floor of the shop will be a concrete slab and was woundering how thick or reinforcements I need to stand up to the air hammer
   yona - Monday, 11/22/04 23:15:59 EST

'Tis true, what Frank reports: entropy, everywhere I look, happening all the time. (If you don't think it's true at your place, too, then you don't fully understand the situation.) The good news is that, fear not, it can be reversed. It just takes time, and money, is all, about three times as much of each as ever you think it will, and then, of course, the color selection is limited. Don't ask me why. It just is.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/23/04 01:29:06 EST


Sounds like Cheops Corollary to Murphy's Law.

Nothing ever gets built on time or under budget!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/23/04 01:54:16 EST

I think it might be one of these you’re looking for.



For best effect the chants need to be practiced in public (work or school). Start quiet and work up to full volume over 20 repetitions.
   - Nigel - Tuesday, 11/23/04 07:56:55 EST

"We _are_ the infrastructure; all that other stuff is just entropy in action."

(Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/23/04 08:22:46 EST

Forge floors:
To save on Kaowool, if you're going to have a firebrick floor, how about using perlite beneath for insulation? Perlite is used as a refractory insulation in that industry. It would melt under a direct flame, but with the firebrick on top, I doubt it would get to that temperature. It won't compress, like Kaowool, and is almost as cheap as dirt.

   - MarcG - Tuesday, 11/23/04 08:39:52 EST

Cost savings. Marc, You are talking about saving $10 to $12 or less in Kaowool with a minimum purchase of $5 worth of material that blows around if you just breathe on it. Sure you can add some fireclay and binder but then you have increased the price of the replacement material to more than the savings. The best option is to purchase some castable refractory and make a form fit floor. It can be molded over the first layer of Kaowool (I'd put a piece of wax paper between the two). The wider form fitting floor will compress the kaowool to about 50% while troweling in place and provide much better support due to the greater surface area. . . But the cost will be more and it takes more time, effort and skill.

It all depends on what you want. But it is easy to run the cost of these projects up to more than the cost of a new commercial forge and not have as good a tool.

I've built a couple forges that in the end cost more than brand new NC's or Forgemasters and took days to collect the materials and days to build. I've also built some with what I had on hand for just the cost of the Kaowool AND in just a few hours from start to finish.

The key to what is cheap is what you have on hand.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/23/04 09:51:22 EST

Concrete Shop Floors: If you are building a new shop and plan on having a power hammer or two then it is much better and easier to put in seperate foundation pads for the power hammers. Work on your shop layout, figure the best places for power hammers and put 3 x 4 foot recatangle there.

Your concrete shop floor for machinery in general wants to be 6" with wire mesh (minimum). I would add 1/2" rebar on 12" centers to that. You can get away with a 4" thick pad if you give it 6 months to a year to cure (concrete get much stronger over time).

Hammer foundations are dug to at least 24" deep OR until you hit hard clay (whichever is deeper). If you are on deep sandy soil the base of the hammer foundation will want to be larger than the top. This gets complicated and a soil engineer would be the only one to give diffinitive answers.

The hammer foundation wants to be isolated from the surrounding pad. I used a dozen layers of roofing felt. Depending on the soil and size of the foundation you will want rebar in the bottom of it.

Although you CAN put a small hammer on the floor of most shops it WILL transmit considerable vibration. The vibration will shake things off benches and shelves, possibly damage the building AND it is a known worker fatigue factor. That little thump thump thmp shock may not seem like much but it DOES work on you.

Many manufacturers of new hammers will tell you that you do not NEED a seperate foundation. They are right. However they NEED a foundation just as much as a Little Giant, Fairbanks or Bradley all of which provided significant foundation plans for their machines. I've known smiths to put in the recommended foundation for a 50# Little Giant and then set a 100# air hammer next to it on no foundation. . . there is NO logic to it. The reason you are told that a given hammer does not NEED a foundation is because it will cost less if you are looking at the whole package. But from a mechanical standpoint they all need foundations. But even a 500 pound Chambersburg Utility hammer can be run on the floor pad. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/23/04 10:25:55 EST

Well as I told Mark in an e-mail, anytime I see someone on this international forum post about an item they have to sell that will take a heap of shipping and they don't mention location I always assume the worst. Keeps me from wanting to blow the budget buying it if I just think---it must be in Greenland, or Sri Lanka, or Togoland or Samarakind or erewhon or on the plateau of Leng.

Patrick, what did you give for your hammer and how much did it cost to ship it?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/23/04 11:34:09 EST

Thanks all for your help on my hardie problem. And Jimmy I'll email you as soon as I get some more free time. Thanks again. Oh and the closest blacksmithing chapter is at Burret Museum. I live near hunstville alabama so i'll check it out next time they meet.
   Corey - Tuesday, 11/23/04 14:05:12 EST

Lathe: Ries - thanks! I went over to the url you suggested and people over there have been very helpful.

   adam - Tuesday, 11/23/04 16:15:29 EST

I finally got the Yahoo Foto site straightened out. I just approved 4 pending memberships, so we should be back on track.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 11/23/04 16:44:12 EST

Hammer Value/Price: Mark, It is hard to put a value on old power hammers. Normaly it is whatever the market will bear, who is buying and who is selling and how long you can wait.

Small hammers sell faster and for proportionately more than large hammers due to their portability and low HP requirements.

Little Giants often sell for more than equivalent condition Fairbanks and Bradleys. This is stupid since the later are MUCH better machines but everyone knows the Little Giant name. The reason there were so many Little Giants is that they were CHEAPER and LG offered credit to almost anyone to sell their hammers. Fairbanks, Bradleys AND Beaudrys were more expensive, durable machines that were bought primarily by industrial customers. Used they SHOULD sell for more than a cheaper made hammer.

SO. . you have a large Beaudry. Minus 2 points (to the seller). Although there is demand for that machine it is not going to sell overnight, especialy if you are asking what it is worth. I would guess it will sell for $4,000 US. If you want more you are going to need to advertise and wait. Its a wondeful machine I'm sure someone has just GOT TO HAVE IT.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/23/04 16:50:11 EST

Corey, I'm here for another week-I work 14/14 in Colo. So will get back ASAP. I was born in ALA. Redstone Arsonal.(along time ago) But moved to TEXAS ASAP! Anyhow I will help if I can. On the end of the E-mail add .com I hope that you are ready for "the challange" and YOU are only limited by Your imination...J
   - Jimmy - Tuesday, 11/23/04 16:57:28 EST

The Anvilfire FAQ has the following as a good example of the best coal for blacksmithing.
Seam : Pocahontas No. 3,
Type : Low Volitile Bituminous (lvb)
State: WV
Ash : 7.44%
Sulfur: 0.64%
BTU :14542
Volitile : 15.70%
Carbon: 92.42%
Reflectance: 1.85

I recently purchased coal and was given the following analysis of it.

Moisture: 3.5
Volatile: 21.5
Carbon: 71.76
Sulphur: .75
BTU A.R.: 14686
BTU DRY: 15219
Fusion: 2450
Coke Index: 9
Grindability: 98

The problem I have is "I still don't know whether or not the coal has good numbers because your "best" example numbers don't specify a range.

I coal I just bought doesn't seem to work as well as some I bought a while back.

Can you provide an opinion of the coal I just bought, based upon the analysis provided me, AND also provide a range of acceptability for all the categories listed.

Also (as long as I am asking), if the numbers wander outside your recommended range, what are the consequences (for each category)?

   djhammerd - Tuesday, 11/23/04 17:27:48 EST

BLUEBOY,google up big lick treadle hammer,its a nice simple design,Ive built one roughly based on it with 80# hammer and it beats the h*#l out of hot metal.It is a very compact unit just right for my small forge shop.I agree with vicopper, simple and inline is the way to go.I think next is Jr's helve hammer!HMMM?
   crosspean - Tuesday, 11/23/04 17:33:47 EST

Mark, look across the street (the junkyard forum for smiths) in their scrapbin is a 300 pounder for sale that might give you an idea on pricing.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/23/04 18:04:54 EST

Blacksmithing: where maximum entropy is our equilibrium.

Why things break: To provide a constant source of revenue for forensic metallurgists. The laws of physics have not changed, it is just that the old engineers who are familiar with them have been laid off and replaced by young Material Scientists who know it all.....

Rae: There is one explanation for the "forging under an eclipse" theory: ignorance......OK, two explanations; salesmanship......
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/23/04 19:28:11 EST

What are some advantages and disadvantages of blacksmithing
   Brandon Williams - Tuesday, 11/23/04 20:03:56 EST

How has blacksmithing changed over the past 20 years.
   Brandon Williams - Tuesday, 11/23/04 20:05:11 EST

When and where did blacksmithing begin
   Brandon Williams - Tuesday, 11/23/04 20:11:16 EST

djhammerd - analysis of coal

From the FAQ on coal:
Coal seams are fossilized accumulations of plants which lived and died in swamps. (edit) These swamps were interwoven with meandering river channels which eventually covered things with mud and silt. Subsequent deep burial by more sediments in succeeding geologic ages resulted in heat and pressure which transformed the peat into coal. Generally speaking, every 12 inches of coal thickness represents approximately 10,000 years of continuous peat accumulation.

This means that coal can sometimes change in analysis from the start of the day to the end of the miners shift.

Ash: impurities consisting of silica, iron, alumina, and other incombustible matter, left over when coal is burned.

Low Sulfur: sulfurs typically analyzed are Pyritic, Sulfate, and Organic.

BTU: the heating value, determined in terms of BTU both on an as received basis (including moisture) and on a dry basis.

Calorific value: expressed in Btu/lb on a dry basis.

Good coal for blacksmithing is low ash, low sulfur, high BTU coal and of a usable size for the forge. The numbers suggested for good coal are less than 7% ash, less than 1% sulfur and above 14,000 Calorific Value in BTU's.

These are not hard numbers but guidelines. Available analysis shows ash content of coals listed from 3.7% to 22.4% ash, sulfur from 0.4% to 3.3% , and BTU's from 8,467 BTU's to 15,500 BTU's Calorific Value.

The WV sample Ash is 7.44% and your sample Ash is 3.24% means you have less foreign matter (rocks, mud, silt, etc), about half as much. This means you are buying more coal and less foreign matter (rocks) per pound.

The WV sample Sulphur is a little lower 0.64% to your 0.75%. Your sample at 0.75% is still below the 1% suggested.

WV coal was listed as 14,542 BTU and your sample as 14,686 BTU A.R. and 15,219 BTU dry. It is the BTU's that make the heat. Your sample is above 14,000 BTU and should work.

I forge with coal and have discussed the way coal burns with older smiths, ones that have watched and tried to understand how and why things work. We have noticed that the same load of coal (and sometimes the same 5 gallon bucket) seems to burn differently according to the weather.

A coal fire is not something you can just set according to a dial. You have to constantly adjust the amount of coal, the air, and the fire to your needs. I would put your coal in a forge, light a match and add a little air. Then adjust to the forge and the coal on hand, in order to get the job done. Your coal should work well from the numbers.

Source of information:
http://www.iforgeiron.com -->Blueprints -->BP0051 Good Coal
   - Ntech - Tuesday, 11/23/04 20:18:07 EST

answering school questions is not something we will be doing for you. But I will let you know a small secret.... if you look in Genesis you will find reference to blacksmithing.
Google can be a good friend for research. As is the library.This web site does have tons and tons of info in the archives and various sections.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 11/23/04 20:34:54 EST

i have some guestions about hammers,i have the usuall cross
pein,and straight peins,as well as ball peins.
i see swedish,and french pattern hammers advertised,as well
as rounding hammers,could you give me some insight on these patterns as to there uses,and how you like these hammers.
i don't want to be a pest but i sure do appriciate and am thankful for the advise and opinions that i have gotten
from this forum,thus far,please bare with me.
many thanks:
   norse - Tuesday, 11/23/04 20:46:03 EST


I'm not pitching Centaur but their coal is typically very hot, low in clinker, cokes well and is a good stoker size. It's pricey but a novice might consider buying from a reputable source in the beginning so that doesn't become another variable to fight. I bought several tons of coal in OK many years ago and it's plenty hot but makes enormous clinkers. It's mostly fines and has to be made into a wet paste to coke properly but the good thing is that the clinkers are easy to find in the fire...
   - HWooldridge - Tuesday, 11/23/04 21:35:38 EST

Norse Hammers:-)

Well of course you want the swedish pattern, since it is based on the medieval viking hammers:-) But really it all comes down to feel and personal preference. I have never liked any french pattern hammer that I ever picked up. To be honest despite my desire to like the swedish pattern hammers, I don't find them comfortable to use. Rounding hammers can be nice, or they can be worthless. I am very particular about how a hammer is handled, and how it feels in my hand. If the balance is off a little, I will not like the hammer. Oddly if the balance is really whacked to one side, I might like the hammer depending on how it is handled and its intended use. (A cutler's hammer is anything but balanced:-)

Hammers need to fit you, and how you like to work. If the hammer is not suited to how you work, it is not a good hammer for YOU! If you learn the Habermann style of presentation to the anvil and hammer use you will hate long handles. There is quite a lot to recommend that style, but it is not the only valid way to get the job done. If you watch some of the farrier competitions you will see some guys with little hammers with long whippy handles whaling and sailing. They hit fast and they hit hard, and they work very fast. It is hard to say they aren't doing it right:-)

If I was just starting out I would learn the Habermann/Hoffi/Tom Clark style of hammer control. (I may yet be able to get myself retrained to use that style?:-) The important thing is to find hammers that feel good to you, allow you to work comfortably, and most importantly will not cause you to hurt yourself! It is surprisingly easy to give yourself a chronic condition if you do not have good hammer form, are strong, and have a strong will:-) Still trying to beat the latest round of tendonitis... (Do as I say, not as I do:-)
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 11/23/04 23:01:11 EST

Norse, A guy could write reams on the subject of hammer choice. Whatever is said will show the writer's prejudices. I started out as a farrier using rounding hammers. The ball face is used to hit the inside of the toe bend when turning shoes, so that you don't get hammer face edge marks. It is also used sometimes to 'seat out' the foot surface of a horseshoe to help prevent sole pressure. In smithing, I use it as a 'top fuller' opposing the horn which is on the bottom of the work. There are other uses which will appear as you need them.

Last year, I switched from a 3 pound Channellock crosspeen to a 2½ pound Channellock. The change has to do with age and common sense. These hammers are no longer manufactured, but they are my choice for 'everyday work'. The 3 pounder was made of 1 5/8" square, the corners of the face being angle-chamfered in order to make a round face. I dressed the face somewhat like a pocket watch crystal curvature, and the edge is radiused all around. I dressed the peen crowned after the fashion of Peter Ross's hammers. The peen is relatively flat with both long edges slightly radiused, It spreads metal amazingly well, and there is less 'cleanup' in getting rid of hammer marks. I like the round face, because I use the edge of the face as a top fuller on the anvil radius-edge, and I don't have to orient myself as I would with a square face.

The square face is the preferred face on the European continent and in Scandinavia. The face corners are normally angle-chamfered to a slight degree. The faces are rockered. I don't care for the Swedish pattern, because it seems too elongated and attenuated. I measured one, and it was 5 5/8" long. The peen is thin, and to me, it makes the hammer is a little unwieldy.

To me, the French hammer is odd looking and the face is square or slightly rectangular with little or no corner chamfer. The face is rockered, however. Once, I teased a French student of mine who had brought his French hammer to class. I told him it would look better if the head was removed, turned around, and put on the other way. That way, the peen would be further from the hand, and it would look neater. I'm afraid I insulted his Frenchyness; he got a little bit upset at the suggestion. Ha! I laugh.

Eventually, you should have an 'arsenal of hammers' of different weights and uses. I have a homemade cross peen of about 4½ pounds. I have a wooden mallet and rawhide mallet which I use on hot iron if the work is delicate or if I'm straightening a twist. No hammer marks.

I have several sizes of ball peen hammers. Some of the newer ones have pointy peens and most of the old ones have rounding peens. Both kinds are useful and have their place. I have one Japanese forging hammer of about 1 3/4 pounds. It has a square face and a rectangular eye. I don't use it often, but it feels good...is a little head heavy, the peen being short compared to the head. I have a 3 pound copper hammer for banging on machinery without killing the machinery. You can also use copper or brass to do your hardy cutting, and you can go all the way through, hitting the hardy, and not have to use a shearing blow.

Sledge hammers are a whole other category, but they usually run from 6 to 12 or more pounds.

Handles are another category, and there are probably as many kinds of handles as there are smiths.

Hope I opened a can of worms.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/23/04 23:30:56 EST

Great Guru and friends,
I have a few projects lined up for this winter, which will require the use of refractory cement. I will be casting some shapes, as well as lining a small forge pot.
I'm looking at the Refractory Cement by Rutland available in the 1-gallon size. Could anyone tell me what temp this is rated for, and/or your experience with different types of refractory? Thank you all greatly in advance.
   Keith - Wednesday, 11/24/04 01:25:01 EST

A hammer is just like gun! The quote goes- Beware the man that has but one gun-He is liable to know how to use it! Mr.Turley is right get one that suits you, Heavy or light, will work you to death! All have uses,Me, I use a old drill hammer-2lb. I think. Also have numerous 3-4 shops,peens,on up to 16 lb. Get a waight and then work on the handle,they can be replaced if the "feel" is wrong. Being oilfield, BIGGER is BETTER-WAS 20 years ago!!! But because of that I am a ol POS now! Better to start light then work up to what you can use..GL$GB...J
   - Jimmy - Wednesday, 11/24/04 01:45:42 EST

Ntech and Hwooldridge...

Thanks for the replys about my coal analysis question(s). I will give myself a little more time to adjust to it. It's burning characteristics are just different enough than the last coal I bought to make me wonder.

I will use more water on the periphery of the fire and see if that helps (there is a lot of very small particles of coal (fines?). The new coal didn't seem to be coking as well as the other coal (perhaps more water on the green coal is the answer there), and I do get some clinkers that I had not been getting with the other coal.

All in all, thanks for the suggestions. If I am still having issues, I may get some coal from Centaur to make more comparisons.

Thanks again...
   djhammerd - Wednesday, 11/24/04 08:36:52 EST

Hammer Styles and Fashion; Norse:

Most folks I know have a variety of hammers that they’ve either adapted or adopted for various tasks. It really is a case of experimentation. I have one friend who swears he does EVERYTHING with a 4# “…because I’ve developed the control!” (Of course, he also has the fastest wife, the most accurate dog and the prettiest rifle in the county, too. ;-) My late (and much missed) friend Finnr, one of the better smiths in Viking reenactment circles, turned out work much superior to mine with a very simple array of hammers and other tools. Some folks have “tool collection” set-ups, in which they spend more time maintaining and worshiping their tools than doing anything with them.

Then there are the pressures of fashion. I’ve observed several of the blacksmiths from Williamsburg using a “French” pattern hammer, because they actually found one in the archeological context. These guys are good (actually some of the best) and people see them using one of these hammers and then they want to use the same sort of hammer, too, ‘cause (just maybe) some of the results are due to a superior tool. The same is applicable to various forging techniques, how people stand or hold the hammer, or swing the hammer. All of these people are good at what they do, and they do it a certain way, and if we do it the same way, perhaps we can be as good. The fact that people come with different builds and physical abilities and endurance and artistic and cultural backgrounds could mean that whatever style of tool or technique works for one person may not work for everybody; but if “all the cool folks are doing it” everybody wants to do it.

We’re ALL somewhat slaves to fashion, but we should also remember that whatever the latest fashionable tools and techniques are being promulgated may not be the universal solution to our projects.

I tend to use harder-faced hammers when working with a hardy, since it’s easier for me to resharpen the hardy than to redress the face of the hammer. I finally (after years of looking) purchased a modern Swedish pattern hammer head, dressed it, hafted it and tried it out as a lighter hammer (800g, 1.76#), then rehafted it and tried it again. Despite its obvious descent from the Viking pattern (which certainly counts for looks), it doesn’t seem to move metal in the style that I’m accustomed to. My little 1.5# (.68 k) engineer’s hammer is more useful and has a better “feel” to me. Also, I’ve learned NOT to use it with a cut-off hardy! It’s pretty, but it’s a little stretched out, and feels like another case of good-looks over effectiveness, sort of like the way some anvils were stretched out way beyond the practical needs of farriers (referred to in some posts in last week or so).

So my suggestion is to start with a basic variety of hammer styles and weights (that’s what flea markets are good for) and experiment with them to see what they’ll do. You can modify them, or use them for certain applications, or just set them aside as a misadventure. Avoid extremes and “fashions” until you get at least a little feel for how things work, and then you’ll have a basis to judge them against. (Or take a course from some of the better teachers like Frank Turley or some of the craft schools to avoid inventing bad habits of your own. ;-) With all of the smiths, tools and techniques out there you will find somebody who will swear by whatever they’re used to and good at; but you do want to establish a basis of comparison, so be conservative until you get a feel for things.

Okay, my 2d.

Rainy, misty, dark and wet on the banks of the Potomac. Have a wonderful, and thankful, Thanksgiving.

Visit your National Parks (including Jamestown, site of the first English thanksgiving in the New World): www.nps.gov/colo/

Go viking (because of which habit most of Europe were thankful for the nasty winter weather this time of year, which kept the Vikings at home, beating up on Sámi, instead): www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/24/04 09:24:28 EST

Dang it---I *like* my sweedish pattern hammer. (1.5 kg) I love how the broad slightly rockered face rides over the work preventing hammer dings and the pein on it has been a great tool to work with. I do have a few others though---and while I can do small work with a larger hammer I find my elbow likes it when I do small work with a small hammer. I try to do some work with a pretty small hammer to show folks that you don't have to swing a 9# sledge one handed to be a smith.

Fionnbharr, Atli, Paw Paw, Jock and all the rest of you low down black boogered smithing folk---Have a great and Safe Thanksgiving and remember all of the folks that are in harms way in your prayers. Please also pray for peace that we may all be home for Thanksgiving next year.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/24/04 11:11:13 EST


I attend the blacksmith meetings at Burritt. Next event will be the Christmas party in December, which is not held at Burritt. Meetings have been 1:00 or 1:30 on the second Sunday of every month for a while, but a new forgemaster was just elected and may be changing things around a little. We'll have to see. I don't have contact info with me here, but it should be on the AFC website. Which can be reached from a link on this website, somewhere.


   Steve A - Wednesday, 11/24/04 12:38:56 EST

Corey, one other thing, since I just read back and found your earlier post. Forging rebar is brutal. All of it I've tried moves like a tool steel or stainless, which is to say not very well. But now that I know the area you're in, I can commend to your attention the firm of L. Miller and Son, down at Triana and Holmes. They have a yard full of nice used steel you can pick through, though they do expect you to weigh it and pay for it before you leave. They also sell mild steel in lots of convenient sizes, in 20' sticks. Ask nice and pay a nominal fee, and they'll cut it if you don't have a trailer to haul full sticks. The price will be much better than buying little 3' pieces at a home center.

   Steve A - Wednesday, 11/24/04 12:45:17 EST


You are not alone. I have a Swedish 1.5 kg and it has "most favored hammer" status in my collection. The least used hammers I own are my ballpeens. I have 20+ of those, in a variety of sizes and shapes. I'm drawn to them, like a moth to flame, every time I see a slightly different ball shape (and there are so many!). I keep telling myself "Hmmm, that shape might come in handy" and the hammer invariably finds its way home. I'm still not sure whether it's from a desire to have all options available or just a sick compulsive obsession. The two may not be mutually exclusive. (grin)

   eander4 - Wednesday, 11/24/04 13:01:41 EST

Brandon, besides the comments above (we don't do homework), Some of your questions need to be rethought or reworded.

"What are some advantages and disadvantages of blacksmithing ?" Relative to what? Income, health, satisfaction of occupationm, metalurgicaly?

"How has blacksmithing changed over the past 20 years." Very little. The question for such an old trade is how much has it changed in 100 years or even the last thousand? And even then you need to be more specific such as "How have the tools changed?" and other specifics.

"When and where did blacksmithing begin?" As noted above there is a reference to a smith in the old testament of the Bible under Genesis, which starts, In the beginning. . .

Blacksmithing is a VERY old craft starting roughly 3,500 years ago. But much of it was based on bronzesmithing which takes the development of metal working and the types of tools used some 3,000 years further.

For more details on the early beginings of metalworking see our story page and the Ray Smith's Notebook.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/24/04 13:32:21 EST

Dare I admit that I've taken a liking to the french pattern? I've got a couple of these (different weights) that I picked up at Alfred back in 96 and dug out of a drawer about a year ago when I needed to work close up to a shoulder on a mount I was forging. I used to use a 40oz. plumb cross pien as my main hammer but now the rectangular french cross pien about the same weight but with too soft a face always seems to find its way into my hand. I've got a fairly long handle on it and really like the way it pushes metal around. I'd like to find the time to see if I can make it a little harder one of these days. Of course like most of you I've got too many others too. At the recent Yellin show in Philly there was a video transcription of an old film showing Samuel Yellin forging- his hammer was a somewhat squat ball pien.

Everybody have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 11/24/04 13:35:40 EST

Something I found interesting was that in the Mastermyr find there were 6-8 (I can't remember the exact number and am too lazy, I mean busy to look it up atm) hammers, and only 2 tongs.
   JimG - Wednesday, 11/24/04 13:36:57 EST

(In Elmer Fudd "What's Opera, Doc?):

Maaagic Haaammer! I have a Maaaagic Haaaaameeer!

Pound the metaaaal; pound the metaaal, pound the metaaaal; get it hot!

(I'll leave off the sillyness now; y'all take care out there.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/24/04 13:40:51 EST

Power Hammer Prices:

Thomas suggested that I use my 300 lb Bradley Guided (Upright)Helve as an example- I paid $600 two years ago. I spent about $1200 to ship it from OK to OH. Then moved it from OH to WI (about $1300, but paid for by company as part of moving expenses). I just poured a foudnation for this machine and that set me back about $1100. Once I get the hammer to the shop it still has to be cleaned up and a new beam made. I would guess I'll have at least another $500 in it without a way to power it. However, I can afford to invest a little at a time, but I can't afford to spend 12K at at once for a hammer ready to run.

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 11/24/04 14:01:29 EST


Same to you, Bub! (grin)


Ralph's son Nathan was wounded slightly in Fallujah. Remember him and his mom and dad in your Thanksgiving prayers, please.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/24/04 14:02:53 EST


I have completed many reasonable forging projects and have a fully equiped workshop from Powerhammer to CO2 welding equipment lathe etc etc.
I am now emabarking on a large farm gate, it should be simple to make without too much detail but needs to be sympathetic to an 1850 european farm. If anyone has any designs drawings or photos I would be grateful. Most espeicially someone who has made a large gate and can share their experiance, I will return the favour in some way of course.Gate should be three pieces two large arched gates say 12 foot tall and 10 feet wide. The third piece is a pedestrian entrance probablly with a decorated plate below and an delicate infil above size say 3 feet wide by 6 feet tall. All info welcome links fotos books of really good very much appreciated.

I can share back curtain rail designs door handles window catches, special tools that I have made or woodworking tool designs,

Thanks david
   David Collins - Wednesday, 11/24/04 14:24:52 EST

djhammerd - Coal and fines

You may want to try screening some of that coal to separate the fines. 1/2" sq hardware cloth is good for that. Build the fire with the solid coal and get used to how it works.

Add water to the fines and make a paste, then add the fines paste to the fire as fuel. You do not have to add it by the shovel full, just a handfull of the black paste at a time, as needed. It becomes a balancing act between fines and lumps to get the best fire and best heat.

   - Ntech - Wednesday, 11/24/04 14:49:19 EST

Favorite Hammers: Oddly Frank Turley and myself use the same hammer.

That said, I, like many other smiths, have a significant hammer collection. Among the standard hammers their weight is an important variable. For daily forge work you tend to use the same size hammer for everything. However, for light and heavy tasks or special tasks such as riveting most smiths have other weight hammers often of the same style.

Hammer styles as mentioned are a matter of fashion "the hammer dejour" and local style (Japanese, French, Swedish) that are cultural and have npthing to do with use. However some DO have specific uses such as the many sheet metal hammers for dishing, planishing or pecking. I use ball pien hammers for riveting but plain cross pien sheet metal hammers have a long body designed to rivet over edges.

Of the many special hammers you will probably know when you need one. If you do not know what you need then at this point you do not need it. Unless you are a collector like most of use and we "need" them ALL!
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/24/04 15:04:04 EST

Swedish Hammers: The modern Swedish hammers, or at least what is sold here in the US are a little different than the old Viking era hammers from Mastermyer but not much. The older hammers have less "style" and tend to be just a long tapered shape. Now. . the interesting thing about this is that not only is it one of the easiest hammer shapes to make it is also the most commonly hand made hammer by many smiths. I also happen to have a old sledge that was shop made that is this same pattern.

To those that like a square face this is a good pattern. However, I've gotten used to standard American pattern cross piens that have heavy chamfers and radiusitng that results in a round striking face on a square bodied hammer. My first hammer was a little squarer but over time it mushroomed out to a nice round face. . . Its all what you are used to.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/24/04 15:21:35 EST

Hammers - I believe a hammer should fit in the hand like it was born there, a natural extension of one's self. Nothing mythical, it's just that everyone's hand-hold is different. Morover, every hammer is mounted a little different on the handle. I've walked down the merchant's row at blacksmith's gatherings and at select merchants, picked up every single hammer they had. It's funny how different two "identical" hammers can feel.

As I learn more of what I want in a hammer/handle combination, I will be able to order stock handles of pattern X and make adjustments. It's just, in my opinion, easier to start learning at ground 0.

My hammer collection is rather low. I've only got three. My 2# general work hammer, an old Heavy thumper, and one 2.5 that gathers dust unless friends are there that want to work on the forge. I do find it amusing that most of the men, when offered a choice between the 2 and 2.5 seem to want the heavier. One was sighing over Thumper, but I like them too much to let them start forging with it.
   Monica - Wednesday, 11/24/04 15:33:48 EST

Hello Everybody

I have a question on Anvil and Tool Dressing.

I read the Russian Anvil page (this time all the way including the last two paragraphs that now I wish I had read prior to biding /sigh) and now that I am the ummm “Proud” owner of a Russian Anvil I would like to know what grade of disk you use to do the initial dressing and was the sanding with the 100 grit belt sander to be done wet or dry?

In regard to the tools what would I look for to know if the tool needs dressing?

I really want to thank everyone for all the help. I have gotten so much further with your help then I would have.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. I hope that my friends and everyone currently serving in Iraq will be safe tomorrow. Sent my friends canned Turkey, Cranberrys and Yams for dinner. Email me if you know someone that is over there that might like a surprise Christmas canned dinner.

Don’t forget to go to the local “Santa Stop” sit on his lap and ask that he bring our friends and family home. There would be no better gift in the world then to have our troops come home.

Guru Email heading your way.
   Aaron Cissell - Wednesday, 11/24/04 16:44:12 EST


Thank you for the good wishes for our troops. Some of us may have one or more of the troops much on our minds this Holy Day season, but they are ALL our troops. Every one of them belongs to all of us.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 11/24/04 16:47:57 EST

Bah! Who needs hammers......
I have one 2 1/2 crosspein ( complements of Sears) and one small ballpein ( which is currently hiding somewheres)

I do have about 4 or 5 hammer heads in various stages of construction..... BUt that is another story
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/24/04 17:50:41 EST

Aaron, As I recall, I used an 60 grit soft sidewheel grinding disk followed by 100 grit sanding belt, all done dry.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/24/04 19:34:05 EST

Guru, I like old Frank Turley even if he is "Oddly".
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/24/04 19:35:53 EST

Thanks Quenchcrack
   Aaron Cissell - Wednesday, 11/24/04 19:48:02 EST

Hammer, the endless quest for the perfect-- sex, the guy who gave me my beeyootiful big cast Swedish steel Paragon anvil, which spent its formative years in his daddy's turpentine plant down in Looziana, used to say, is just a sublimation of man's basic urge to browse in hardware stores. And maybe women's, too, who knows. He was jest joking, of course.
   Goods Inward - Wednesday, 11/24/04 20:33:39 EST

Two cents more about hammers. At an ABBA meeting I watched a demonstrator who obviously knew what he was doing and noticed that sometimes he hit with the flat of the face of the hammer and sometimes with top of the face. I looked closely at his hammer and he had the best of both worlds. The hammer face was crowned and had been ground from a mostly square faced hammer to where the bottom part of the hammer was well rounded and the top mostly like the french pattern. He is going to be a demonstrator at the SERBA conference in May and I am going to watch closer then.
   - J Myers - Wednesday, 11/24/04 21:02:40 EST

I'm fond of my 2kg french pattern hammer. I ground a shallow rocker profile into it. It's nice to clean up stray hammer marks, or, ahem, gouges close to a bend. Among others, I have a 20oz. Vaughan ballpein, whose handle and feel are excellent, but it's harder to control, maybe due to the lighter weight. One important note, the french hammer has a Peddinghaus handle, which has an oval profile. I though it was a nice handle, until the first knuckle on my pointer finger began to ache and swell after a day at the forge. I finally traced the root cause to the fact that the "point" of the oval was resting against my knuckle bone, and was transmitting shock straight to my joint. A subtle change to the grip fixed the problem.
   - Tom T - Wednesday, 11/24/04 22:45:03 EST

what is the best way to get my coals stated?
   thomas parks - Wednesday, 11/24/04 23:03:26 EST

Just a short Thanksgiving "thank you" to jock Dempsey for hosting this site, and to all the members of CyberSmiths International for their support through membership. The benefits of this site are too numerous to mention every one, a few come to mind immediately. The camaraderie, the information and the help provided by the several Guru's helpers and many other participants here. This year, I got to meet and spend time with a few of the folks while at QuadStates, and that will remain the highlight of my year, I'm sure. Thank you all.

Thank you to those fine folks who put themselves in harm's way to keep all of us, and our country safe; the military folks, the police, fire and emergency services people who do an often thankless job.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/25/04 12:42:08 EST

Today is Thanks giving day in America. I'm thankful for guys like Jock Dempsey that makes a great effort to share their knowledge of something I enjoy by maintaining this site. And men like Jim Wilson that has made the freedom to get to use this site possible. Happy Thanksgiving to All
   Jerry - Thursday, 11/25/04 12:43:50 EST

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