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This is an archive of posts from November 1 - 7, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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   Gronk - Tuesday, 10/11/05 21:48:37 EDT


If you ground of the steel plate on the Fisher what you basically have now is a buoy anchor or gluing weight. The cast iron under it will be soft and there is no economical way to put a new steel top on it. If it was really badly beat up you might have been able to salvage the top plate via welding. Once down to almost no plate or no plate it is almost beyond hope.

Without the mold date under the heel you can only guess as to a manufacture year by shape and logo. From Anvils in America by Richard Postman: The older Fishers, before about 1913, tended to me more blockly, particularly fat under the heel. The first logo was an Eagle in a circle holding an anchor with the prongs to the left (cicra pre-1860). Second dropped the circle (cicra 1860 to sometime in the 1870s). Third had the prongs to the right (cicra sometime in the 1870 to 1882. From cicra 1882 to early 1900s eagle and anchor were recessed. After cicra 1910 the shape went to basically the London patern with the anvil more graceful than blocky. You know it is a Fisher so likely it has the name on the front foot. They apparently started putting it there cicra 1870s. They apparently started adding the mold date about 1890. Thus, my WAG is it may be cicra 1870-1890.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 10/24/05 03:23:06 EDT

RE : rabit trappers tool : thanks for your time guru and frank. i think that armed with your sugestions and a phone book i think i'll be right. we do have drifts at work for making eyes for various handels ( one of the blokes at work used to be a spring maker , its probibly why i thought of truck spring initaly . i thought i would come to him with half a clue , thus the post ). we used to have a gass forge untill we moved work shops but due to space restrictions, we only have a heating torch now. (we are only matenence boilermakers) Space is also a issue at home and know the difference it makes to use a good anvil :)

i also was going to ask about bearing steel and knives , but matthews question awnswed it aswell .... ha ha ha .... thanks
so thanks for your time, i realy apreciated your help - wayne
   - wayne - Monday, 10/24/05 05:37:50 EDT

Question for the anvil experts: Today I saw a large anvil, looks to be castiron body with a hard steel face. There is a logo of some sort, but the casting is rough, cant tell what it is. The number 40 is cast into the right front foot, logo is on the Rt side if viewed with the horn to the front. There are 2 mounting holes in cast bosses, located between the feet beneath the horn and heel. Hardee is 1.5"Sq. Looks like the 40 may signify 400#. Top plate looks to be about 7/16 thk., is rust pitted .025-.030 deep, but other than that looks to be in pretty good shape. Is this a Vulcan? what is a fair price? location: southeastern Pa.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 10/31/05 23:51:44 EST

Well knowing that a lot of folks here are lovers of things rustic, I am looking for a kerosene latern to hang outside of my shop while I am working. Something that can stand up to some mild weather and is fairly bright. I would like it as bright as possible. I would also like something rustic perhaps in the old railroad latern style any cheap idea of where to look?
   - A Little Light - Monday, 10/31/05 23:58:24 EST

Rich: Your history doesn't match the anvil. A Peter Wright cannot be older than about 1850. England passed a law saying after cicra 1910 exports had to be stamped with the country's name. Thus, your anvil dates after cicra 1910. Also on the anvil you may see a circle reading SOLID WROUGHT. Meant both the top and bottom halves of the anvil body were wrought iron (with a steel plate). As noted, weight stamp should be three separately spaced groupings, such as 1 0 9, which would represent a 121 pound anvil (1 x 112 + 0 x 28 + 9). On value, I would say $1.50 to $2.50 pound or so, depending on condition of top plate.

Dave Boyer: It is likely a FISHER NORRIS anvil. Logo was an eagle holding an anchor. Only a few companies put on those bolt down lugs at the front and back and only FISHER did it on large anvils. Anvil probably dates late 1800s/early to mid-1900s. On value, I watch eBay prices and they are not too out of line with conference tailgate prices when S&H are not considered. Usually anvils less than 100 pounds and more than 200 pounds sell for more per pound than those in-between. If the top plate is useable, I would SWAG $600-$800 would not be out of line. There is a large Fisher on eBay now (but it comes with a base) if you want to watch that sale. Pricing really comes down to what buyer and seller agree to.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/01/05 00:36:40 EST

Kerosene Lanterns: A Little Light, These are still available from a variety of sources such as country hardware and feed stores. Same places will have wicks and new globes. Most are rather cheap and made in China now-days. Around $10 or so NEW. Ocassionaly antique dealers (especially on ebay) try to get big bucks for rusticated lamps. . They were so common however that even real antique ones don't sell very high (about $20).
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/01/05 05:59:43 EST

Bart, Thanks for the link. another couple of days of head scratching and i'll be near to building something! (am quite enjoying the research stage though)
   John N - Tuesday, 11/01/05 06:12:00 EST

Peter Wright Weight: That upside down "2" is probably a three making the weight another 28 pounds. Old style threes had a sharp corner at the top right. With a 27 that means it weighed one pound less than a hundred weight or 111 pounds.

There are rules that help with the hundred weight system:

The first number can be 0 to 5 rarely were old wrought anvils ever over 560 pounds.

The second number can only be 0 to 3 as it is quarters only.

The last number is 0 to 27 as it is pounds less than one quarter hundredweight (28 pounds).

Pre ~1840 anvils did not have a round pritchell hole and most had small (square) hardy holes. If an anvil were brought over by an individual it was probably in theire possesion some time prior to the travel date thus making it older. Note however that I have seen early anvils that have had the hardy hole enlarged and pritichell holes added (usualy drilled). To detect these changes you have to be very familiar with the manufacturing techniques used at the time and degree of finishing used.

On Old Peter Wrights another way to tell is at the feet. Early Peter Wrights had what are known as old style feet that were pinched out of the body. The front and back under the base sloped down to the bottom smoothly. After about 1952 the feet were distinct and Peter Wrights had a distinct flat for clamping down against at the front and back. A few much later brands copied this feature but for about 60 years this was distinctly a Peter Wright feature.

Rick, Your ancestor may have brought an anvil over with them but it sounds like it is not this one. But without seeing the anvil it is difficult to tell.

If you are interested in the history of old tools we sell Anvils in America by Richard Postman. This is THE diffinitive book (and only book) on anvils.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/01/05 06:24:44 EST

Welding shield stuff:

I got a cheap Harbor Fright auto-dark helmet around 3 yrs ago and it still works fine. It darkens fast enough for me, but it seems to be taking longer lately to lighten up when the arc is broken. Also, it's got some LCD "blotches" developing in the corners. Maybe time for another Christmas present, but it was only $50 way back then, so I figure I got my $$ worth. Even if I don't replace it this year, it's still very usable. I also weld infrequently, so never had the practice time to get good at head-bobbing. The halogen spot works nicely, but it's yet another thing to set up and I got to feeling crowded in.

There's a product called MIG-It that is a clamp-on welding shield for MIG guns. I got one to use on my arc torch and it works real nicely for that. But then I moved and somehow it got misplaced. They still sell them, but now they're around $25 - $30. Mine was something like $7 at HF (who no longer sells them). It probably wouldn't be too tough to rig up another using a large filter lens.

   - Marc - Tuesday, 11/01/05 08:23:31 EST

John Odom

I understand you live in the Chattanooga area? I am trying to find local blacksmith resources (like coal, stock, tools, etc...) would you email me and give me some ideas?
   Rhordae - Tuesday, 11/01/05 09:02:06 EST


I would like to thank you for your detailed explanations and your continuing dedication to this site! This is one of the most informative sites I have found and I truly appreciate your generosity in sharing your knowledge.

   Rhordae - Tuesday, 11/01/05 09:05:58 EST

m ferrara, it is possible to place a prescription lense in the helmet. the lenses are designed for that purpose. your welding supplier should be able to point you in the correct direction.

PW feet; some trentons have similar feet, no??
   - morph - Tuesday, 11/01/05 09:49:03 EST

I hope this isn't a question that's been asked and answered time and time again. I'm very new to blacksmithing, but its quickly become apparent that I can't handle my husband's big 40 oz hammer. The "Getting Started" FAQ and the books I have tell me to use whatever weight hammer is comfortable. For me, that appears to be around 24 ounces or less.

I do leatherworking and have punched insane amounts of lacing holes with chisels and mallet (14 ounce poly), so I do have some basic hammer-shaped-object control (I hope?). It's moving metal around with the hammer that's new and mysterious to me.

Along with "practice practice practice", do you have any advice for using lighter-weight hammers effectively/efficiently? I'm hoping I can learn to accomplish with finesse what my husband can pull off with upper-body strength and brute-force-enthusiasm. :) Any good books that cover the subject? If the question has already been answered, any hints on where to find it? However I searched the archives I came up with 200+ hits...

Oh, I have found a use for an ASO besides doorstop. After using my husband's anvil (under the cutting board!) for another round of putting holes in leather, I got myself one of the 55# ASOs from Harbor Freight, cut a broken cutting board to fit the face, with a plug to sit in the hardy hole and keep the cutting board in position. Very nice for punching holes on. For that job, plain old mass without bounce is just fine.
   Liana Winsauer - Tuesday, 11/01/05 10:51:47 EST

Marc, that is an awesome idea! How would one go about fabricating this "MIG-It" type shield? BTW, my helmet is a cheap "Flamin' Skull" type with a 3 to 11 shade in 1/20,000 of a second. Got it on eBay for about $70 and it came with cheapo pigskin welders gloves FREE! I usually have to wipe the residue of the lens every once in a while. Sometimes the shade gets "stuck" on 11 (especially when I lose the arc), so I have to stare at a low intensity light source to "reset" it to 3.

Is there any way to get prescription lenses fitted for an autodarkening helmet? Maybe like a flexible cling on type lens plate could be fitted inside the hood... damn, another million dollar idea thrown away!
   The Great Nippulini - Tuesday, 11/01/05 12:49:49 EST

Liana 24oz sounds right:

Here's the $10 version :)

Hammer wt. Smiths never get tired of discussing this topic :) IMO I would start a man out on a 2# hammer and a woman on 1.5#. Someone who has already worked a lot with hand tools could go heavier. It is better to start too small than too big. There are some very good smiths who use 2# hammers. If you go too large, not only will you lose control but you risk damage to the small ligaments and tendons in the forearm - these take a while to develop and such injuries once established are very hard to get rid of. Theres a bunch of strong young guys out there swinging 4# hammers. But the old smiths who are still working are using 3# & 2.5# hammers. There are a bunch of old men who USED to be smiths but cant hammer any more because of injuries.

Hammering is all about control. The blow should be fast and snappy. Hit "like a girl" - floppy but hard and fast. Wrist elbow and shoulder should all whip loosely like you are trying to swing a ball on the end of a chain. Dont grip the hammer tightly. Never put your thumb on top of the handle. Avoid tentative blows. Hit hard. Expect to miss a lot at first. One secret to improve accuracy is to imagine your right hand is a power hammer and always hit on the same spot on the anvil. Use the left hand to manipulate the work under the power hammer. The left does a lot of work and gets quite tired too. Pick one style of hammer, get it in a couple three sizes and really learn it well - dont switch around.

I use a Hofi hammer and do the "Hofi thing" IMO the best thing you can do is buy Hofi' DVD on hammering ($35) and buy his hammer ($100) and follow his instruction. But then I have been assimilated by the Borg.

Also I am believer in developing hand strength by systematic excercise. Part of control is skill and part is strength. Most people who dont do a lot of hammering are short on finger strength.
   adam - Tuesday, 11/01/05 13:54:27 EST

Hammer La Fem: Liana, 24oz. ( 740g )is a little light but works. The first thing to know is that the hammer size is related to the work size. If you scale the work down (3/8" bar instead of 1/2") you will find that the steel moves better. If you want to forge 3/4" bar and up then start thinking Power Hammer.

When working with a light hammer you need to practice lifting the hammer to at least level with your head then using velocity, not muscle power trying to PUSH the hammer. Grip the hammer lightly like you are throwing the hammer at the work. The looser the grip the less damage you do to joints.

Using long strokes creates great force but requires practice to get good control. The dressing of the hammer can make a differnce as well. The more crown a hammer has the more metal it moves with the least effort. However, you also produce a rougher surface. Flat faced hammers spread the force out over a large area and do not move nearly as much metal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/01/05 14:08:33 EST

Moving metal with a smaller hammer:

My 24oz ball peen can easily move around 3/8" sq. 1/2" is a little large for that size, but can be done using technique.

For drawing, don't just hammer it flat on the anvil face. Use the radiused edge of the anvil as a bottom fuller, and hit with half face blows. This leaves a bunch of dimples on the bottom face of the steel. Then, move over to the horn, and hammer out the dimples over a fat part of the horn. This will draw it out pretty fast, is part of the finesse aspect you are talking about.

The whip action is also key with the light hammer. If you try to swing the hammer stiff armed, you won't get any power. If you ever took martial arts, they tell you a similar thing. Stay loose until contact, then direct the force. This is all very zen sounding, and comes with practice. The key thing is to start light so you don't hurt yourself while learning how. I started with a 3 pounder with a long handle, but got a bad pain in my elbow. I found that my techique was bad, and I was gripping the hammer shaft too tight. I went down to a 2 pounder until my arm healed, and I got my technique down. I now use mostly a 1kg(2.2 lb) hammer, with occasional use of the short handled 10lb sledge for initial drawing of 1-2" stock.
   - Tom T - Tuesday, 11/01/05 15:23:06 EST

Mystery tool steel seat-of-the-pants ID:

I got a 16 length of tool steel of 1-1/8" diameter round bar. I know its tool steel because

a.) The rack I pulled it off of at the scrap yard had tool steel - 50 cents/lb scrawled on it. Date of scrawling is obviously old if they are selling tool steel for 50c/lb. Plus the scrawling is mostly rusted off.

b.) It took a long time to cut with my fiber wheel, and when I ran a file across the face cut with the fiber wheel, it wouldn't bite - indicated it quenched in air to be harder than the file.

Other identifying characteriestics:
It only had a light sheen of rust covering the entire piece, with no pitting to speak of, despite the fact that it's probably been in the back lot for some number of years. Other steels in the vicinity are heavily rusted and pitted. This IS the pacific northwest.

Any ideas what type of steel this probably is? I plan to make some punches and other tooling out of it, so some heat-treat experiments are going to take place in the near future. It would be helpful to know what sort of animal I might be dealing with. I don't expect anything near a definitive answer.
   - Tom T - Tuesday, 11/01/05 16:02:52 EST

What type of torch would be used to heat rivets and tenons for tables, chairs, and benches?
   Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 11/01/05 17:25:45 EST

Tyler I have seen both Oxy-Acetylene and Oxy-Propane torches used for that purpose.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/01/05 18:28:35 EST

Mike Ferrara,

I have two solutions to the bifocal-wearing helmet-using problem. One, I got a 2.0 diopter reading lens insert that goes in the helmet behind the lens. It works okay, but I have terrible astigmatism and the two eyes really need different diopters, so it isn't nearly as good as my glasses.

The better solution for me turned out to be having a second pair of glasses made in the same prescription I use for the computer. These are single-vision lenses that focus perfectly at about arm's reach. They are the best solution to my shop vision needs such as welding, working overhead and forging. They're safety glasses from A-O and really weren't that expensive, being single-vision with no photogray or tint or any other expensive add-ons.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/01/05 19:49:04 EST

Hammering. I've seen Edward Martin of Closeburn, Scotland, hammering on a few occasions. Mr. Martin was demonstrating in Louisville, Kentucky, a few years ago, and he remarked that he had a wee bit of a pullback feeling when he hit the steel, probably "more apparent than real". If that is so, it is probably part of the arc of the swing, and it is something that I do as well.

About Mr. Martin. He is now retired, but has hand turned probably more Clydesdale horseshoes than anyone on two hind legs. He has also done some beautiful ironwork, especially for the churches in and around Closeburn. He has done a little work for Robert Burns house, the house now being maintained as a museum. I would guess that he has had at least 55 years at the anvil. In 2000 AD, The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths called him to London to receive a gold medal which read, "Awarded to Edward Martin, SUPREME MASTER BLACKSMITH". This was the 3rd such
medal to be awarded in the last century.

A good man to emulate when using the hand hammer.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/01/05 19:57:46 EST

Kerosene lanterns:

Last year, I purchased a kerosene lantern that really works a treat. It is a Dietz No. 8 Airpilot in solid brass. It wasn't cheap however, at around $6o. But in our marine environment, it's either that or stainless and nobody seems to make a stainless one. I really like the way it works, so I don't really mind the cost.

I would post a link to the supplier, but something on this page is quirky and keeps refreshing and bumping me off my other search window.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/01/05 20:00:05 EST

I have an opportunity to get a Bull 125 from a company going out of business. I'm told it is well used, but works flawless. What is this hammer worth? Or, does anyone have a hammer for sale in the 110-150lb range? I am truely looking for a "Big Blue" hammer, the one with Hofi's new die system. If anyone has one can they please e-mail me. Or if you know about the Bull 125 please let me know. Thanks for all the info in the past! ArtisticIronMail@aol.com
   Michael - Tuesday, 11/01/05 20:27:57 EST

To Suzannah,

I don't know who you can interview, sorry.
   - Robbo - Tuesday, 11/01/05 21:14:07 EST

Air hammers:

What type and size compressor do owners of Little Blu, Phoenix and KA75 air hammers use?
   Bob G - Tuesday, 11/01/05 21:26:57 EST

Bifocals, welding etc
I have seen somewhere a system that allows two different lens diopters to be put into a weld hood. The last "cheaters" I bought for the company were pretty good plastic lens and ran about $5.00
I have also recieved a number of samples of polycarbonate safety glasses, with various diopters as bifocals, in the $9.00 to $15.00 each price range. Also in shade 4, and all from A.O. Safety. A source is Hagemeyer N.A. Call Mike morrison at 502-961-5930 and he can help you out.

On a seperate note, I have a traditional hood, a large window hood a hand held sheild, and a HF auto dark. I got the auto dark on sale a few years ago, for $39.00 I think. Works like a charm. The trick is, with bifocals on, the window not dark, I can adjust my head angel etc to see well, and then strike the arc and the window darks right up. Only complaint is the shade adjustment knob will get adjusted when setting the hood down if it bumps something. I fixed that with a bit of 200 mph tape. When it fails, I will definetly buy another autodark.
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/01/05 21:35:30 EST

Suzanna, well, that's one down. But... fret not. Only a few thousand more smiths/metalworkers to go. Maybe the proprietor of an iron shop your son finds in the Yellow Pages? A prof at the local community college?
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 11/01/05 22:41:23 EST

Mystery Steel: The hardness from firiction cutting does not count as air-quench. The cold mass of the bar will quench the rapidly friction heated surface and burrs. This is known as self-quenching and occurs in any steel under the right circumstances.

Lack of rust can be a clean oiled surface compared to scaled dirty un-oiled surfaces so it doesn't mean much.

Look VERY carefully at the surface finish. If the surface was ground smooth AND the bar is soft enough to hand saw then it is centerless ground tool steel. Machine shops keep large quantities of O1 and W1 or W2 and sometimes A2 in this condition. All are very high carbon and relatively high alloy except the W1. Telling one from the others takes LOTS of testing and experiance. It will probably always be mystery tool steel. See our FAQ on Junkyard steels.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/01/05 22:51:36 EST

How interesting. I having been looking to order some Dietz lanterns myself. I have been looking at that very model as well.
   burntforge - Tuesday, 11/01/05 22:58:42 EST

Ken S: Thanks for the info. I have seen a smaller [about 100#] in this style, didn't know the maker. I am not eBay savy, How do I find the one You mentioned?
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 11/01/05 23:20:21 EST

Suzanna; probably much less than 1 percent of metalworkers havew ever done anything with the ore their metal comes from---how many tire sales/installation/repair folk have you met who have tapped rubber trees?

I have smelted iron from ore; but as part of experimental archeology working to find out how it was done in the early medieval period---not at all like it is done today commercially.

A metalworker has nothing to do with the ore, you want someone involved in extraction metallurgy.

Ore is not forged into anything. It is smelted into metal and that metal is forged into things.

I would suggest looking into some of the books put out by ASM, things like "The Miracle of Metals"---can't get all the titles to mind as my copies are on loan to a materials science professor who likes to use tidbits from them for his college classes.

I would be willing to answer some questions; I have a BS in geology to speak about ores. The smelting questions might be best answered by one of the metallurgists. Most of the folks here could answer how stuff is forged but again the metallurgists would have the best handle on modern methods.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 11/01/05 23:57:39 EST

What is the best way to clean off the oxidation after annealing copper? Thanks.
   Steve S - Wednesday, 11/02/05 00:47:43 EST

Dave Boyer: Probably about 95% of the anvils on eBay are listed under the Collectibles/Tools, Hardware & Locks/Tools/Blacksmithing category. However, it is just as easy to do an Advance Search (upper right corner of page), then search on anvil in the Collectible category, asking at the bottom of the page for the ranking to be by highest price first and a count of 200 results per page. This usually makes the anvils come up at the head of the list. In this case you know it is a Fisher anvil and can do a search on those two keywords.

At the bottom of the results page also note there is an option to see listings in eBay stores.

My standard caution on eBay: watch out for S&H charges. Anvils are heavy. S&H charges on them may be more than the purchase price. Up to 150 pounds can be sent via UPS Ground or FedEx Ground/Home. After 150 pounds they have to be sent freight which can be difficult to arrange and costly. Except for perhaps frankie8acres, most sellers don't include a significant handling fee above the actual cost of shipping. Some do charge a crating fee, typically less than $20.

On at least UPS, anvils can be shipped up to 150 pounds unboxed by gluing the label to the top of the anvil. There is an extra $5.00 surcharge for this, but it saves trying to package up an unrulely beast sometimes.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/02/05 02:27:43 EST

Liana: I prefer using one weight of hammer and then adjusting the blows by the arm technique. I use a 2 1/2 pounder. By using primarily my shoulder I can essentially strike like a three pounder. By using primarily my elbow it acts like a 2 1/2 pounder. By using primarily my wrist it acts like a two pounder. Hope that makes sense. For example, I am putting a point on the end of a rod. First blows are from the shoulder on four sides to do the taper. Next are from the elbow to do the make the four sided taper into eight, then sixteen sided. Wrist is used for the finishing smoothing taps.

To help reduce the possibility of getting tendonitis (blacksmith's elbow), keep the elbow into the body as much as possible.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/02/05 02:40:55 EST

I am a US Marine serving in Iraq. I found an old vice in Habbaniyah Iraq. Habbaniyah is an old Royal Air Force Base that was given back to Iraq. I believe the British were here from the 30's to the 50's. The vice is an Alldays & Onions, Anchor Brand (that's what it says) it also says Drop Forged Vice, Birmingham. It is an odd looking vice. It is about 2.5 feet tall and is made to hang from a work bench. I'm guessing it was made in the early 1900's but I really have no idea. My question is about the age and value of the vice. Would it be worth bringing home to Indiana? I searched some other websites and found out about the company (Alldays & Onions) but nothing about vices or any other history on the tools the company made or their value. Thanks.
   Matt Fulling - Wednesday, 11/02/05 04:06:55 EST

Onions made anvils and vises of very nice quality. It is worth bringing home.
   burntforge - Wednesday, 11/02/05 04:41:39 EST

COAL DEALERS and Availability: When I was dealing with this issue I ended up being quite lucky. I live in Blacksburg Virginia and I'm not that far away from Radford and Roanoake. Both of these cities used to have a lot of factories running in them and still do to some extent. Through a little bit of phone book searching I found three or four dealers of coal. After some calling around I found one that in fact sold Pocahontas Coal and I couldnt be more delighted with the result. So basicly the moral is, look in industrial towns for coal supliers especialy towns with large rail lines running into them. Also its often a good idea to poke around casting plants or other such factories a lot still use coke for various things and might have coal sources that you can exploit.
   - Michael Gora - Wednesday, 11/02/05 04:45:58 EST

Alldays & Onions also made a wide range of pneumatic (self contained) power hammers (shameless link to my stock page at masseyforging . com ) for those who are intersted in seeing one, (ps its sold so I dont feel like im advertising :) - They are a nice machine but why a gear drive?? noisy as hell.
   John N - Wednesday, 11/02/05 05:31:24 EST

Matt Fulling: The vise is what is called either a blacksmithing leg or post vise. (In England it is spelled vice - and many blacksmiths do have a lot of vices.) Normally they are taller than the one you have found. At one time rule of thumb on pricing was $10 per inch of jaw width. That has not gone up to about $20-$30. However, the one you have would likely fall in the collector's category in the U.S. I have heard of only one Alldays & Onions anvil and that is being sold by eBay seller mikesblacksmithshop in his eBay store. It is 465 pounds and he has it priced at $1,265. 465 is quite large for a British made anvil. Definitely worth bring home if it can be arranged.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/02/05 07:17:33 EST

Alldays & Onions are best known for their power hammers outside the US (mostly in the British commonwealth or former 19th century colonies). I get a lot of queries about them from Australia. Many British manufacturers did not sell in the U.S. so we are not familiar with them. Others sold almost exclusively in the U.S. so they are almost unknwn in their home country.

That odd shaped vise ("vice" in British) is probably a standard blacksmiths leg vise. See Vises, Blacksmith Leg or Post on our FAQs page.

Value ranges from $50 to $300 in the US depending on size and condition. These were sold by the pound (not jaw size) in at lest 25 weights in 5 and 10 pound increments. Almost every part is scaled to the size. These tools were made by specialty manufacturers as well as almost every anvil manufacturer.

Air hammer Gear Drive: This was a design by Chambersburg Engineering used to avoid low speed motors. Chambersburg did this poorly as there is a flywheel mass in the middle of the gear train which hammers the gears. The result is the most common failure in these hammers is expensive gear failure. This design was copied by other manufacturers such as Beche' after WWII (prior they sold Nazel under their name). Nazel had both belt and gear drives but their gear drive was directly onto the flywheel which helped isolate the gears from cyclic loading. When the gears did fail (usually the fibre pinion wore out) they could be easily replaced OR the machine converted to a belt drive.

Chambersburg's replacing the expensive low speed motor with a more expensive gear drive seems stupid but it kept the expense in-house rather than giving it to an outside motor manufacturer. However, it was still not a good design.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/02/05 07:37:50 EST

Matt Fulling; Never mind what the age and value of the vise might mean to other people! Considering the place and conditions under which you got it, it is priceless to you and your descendants. I would recommend that you UPS or FedEx that sucker home ASAP, and be sure you get your own butt home safely so you can learn what that vise, and all of its relatives are for. Contact the Indiana Blacksmithing Association at www.indianablacksmithing.org ; They're a fine bunch of people. God bless you and keep you. Thank you for your service.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 11/02/05 08:00:36 EST

Steve S,

The best way to remove the fire scale (oxide coating) after annealing copper is to do the quenching in Sparex #2 pickling compound. Sparex #2 is a granular crystalline form of sodium bisulfite that is dissolved in water to make a mildly acidic solution for cleaning of non-ferrous metals. It is sold through jeweler's supplies such as Rio Grande or Dixon.

You can achieve the same results by using a 10% solution of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) in water. You can usually get a small amount of H2SO4 from a place that sells automotive batteries. Again, use it as the quench medium when annealing, after you read the cautions below..

CAUTIONARY NOTE: This is fine ONLY for relatively small (<4 sq. in.) pieces. Anything bigger than that is going to cause a lot of splatter and steam, both of which are corrosive as can be. You don't want it on your skin, your clothes, or in your lungs or eyes!

For larger pieces, heat the pickling solution to about 140F and immersed the annealed piece in it until the firescale is removed. An electric crock pot with a ceramic liner works pretty well for about a gallon of solution. Again, keep in mind that the vapors rising off this solution are corrosive and will make any steel in the immediate area rust very quickly.

After pickling, rinse in a solution of either baking soda or washing soda in water to neutralize the pickle, then rinse with water.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/02/05 08:03:46 EST

Difference is leg/post vise pricing is new vs tailgate. I have not see anyone at a conference walking around with a scale to weigh them. Jaw width was, and still is, an easy to use pricing guide. As noted, the wider the jaws, the heavier the total weight so the handy rule of thumb still works.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/02/05 08:13:25 EST

Suzanna-- Okay, your son is off to a great start, having hooked a live one here in the generous Thomas, who volunteered to hold still for an interview. Now, so that your boy has a fair shot at asking the right questions not to mention understanding the answers, and his teacher's admonition to avoid the Net not withstanding, he ought to do some backgrounding. The process of getting iron from its raw state in the ground to the finished products in the store is complex and almost impossible to understand without actually seeing a smelter, a mill and a blacksmith shop firsthand. There once were furnaces all over the East Coast, and two places have websites that can help s lot to clear up the mysteries. One is http://www.sharonhist.org/ which is the Sharon, Ct. Historical Society, located in the heart of a region that supplied much of the weaponry that helped the colonists defeat the British in the Revolution. Another is www.furnacetown.com/ the website for a wonderful historical site centered around a 19th Century bog iron smelter near Snow Hill, Md. The Sharon Historical Society and Furnace Town both have scads of books, booklets and fliers that will help your son a lot to get ready for his interview(s).
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 11/02/05 08:21:03 EST

Hammer gear drive / I can understand not wanting to spend on a low speed (? 10 pole) motor, but the gear drive on the alldays hammer is straight onto the flywheel (ive converted them to pully drive no problem in the past, but its not ecconomically viable (as a business, as opposed to working on your own machine) on a small hammer.

Brief history lesson.... from my company archives (B & S Massey) I found a document analysing the competitors hammers, A letter from The then Alldays boss said they were stop making them because the Massey hammer was so superior, and they diddnt regards Beche as a threat because Bommer Harris (or may have been the USA) 'decommissioned' their factory at some point between 1940 & 1945!
   John N - Wednesday, 11/02/05 08:23:59 EST

Power Hammer Air Compressors: What they will run on and what they will run on WELL are two different things. A few years ago when the market was new these machines were being sold with the promise that they would run on a $300 3HP department store air compressor. Yep, the ram will go up and down and then the air compressor starts running as the pressure drops off until the hamer will no longer run. A friend of mine has run a 750 pound air hammer on a 10HP compressor. . . for a couple blows. THIS machine needs 30 to 50 HP to run at full capacity.

BigBLU recommends a HD two stage 5HP compressor. This will keep up with the machine quite well. Note however that many of the Department store compressors are rated at "peak" HP not true running HP. This may be 7 HP on a 5 HP machine. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/02/05 10:54:27 EST

Bought an anvil almost a year ago.
Seems to be a Mousehole or equivalent
Certainly English since it's marked
in hundredweight.

Orginally weighed 172 but now tips
the scales at 167 - exactly what I
weigh. Paid $1.20/lb for it.

Anyway can anyone offer
some pointers on how to proceed
with respect to cleaning up
the face, edges. etc.

I can send some very detailed pics
if need be. It has seen better
days, but it bounced
a steel ball about 70~80 % I think.
Someone has used a chisel on it a
there's evidence of welding too.

Anway, belt sander? what grit
gridner instead, wire brush
etc. etc.

   Sean - Wednesday, 11/02/05 11:01:40 EST

Sean. Congrats! A steal!

IMO: Belt sander 60 grit for cleaining up the edges (30 grit if you really know what you are doing) 100 for the plate - I stop there but you can get to a mirror finish with a fine radial flap disk on an angle grinder. To start do the area just around the sweet spot. You know the edges here need to be nice and round 5/16" or 3/8 flaring out to 1/2" at the step. Some like a sharper edge. Meanwhile you can think about what you want to do withthe rest of the face.
   adam - Wednesday, 11/02/05 11:26:00 EST

Anvil mystery solved? From time to time I do Internet research on anvils for Richard Postman. One listed in Anvils in America is American Ross. Reference comes from an interview in Foxfire 5 with a Will Zoeller. Yesterday I managed to track down a grandson and have written to him about the anvil. However, I am about 99% sure it is an American Wrought, from the American Wrought Anvil Company of Brooklyn. In the interview with the high school kids what he said, or they heard and recorded, may have sounded like American Ross rather than American Wrought.

A couple of days ago I was contacted by someone who knows the whereabouts of a Yost anvil. Am trying to put them in direct contact with Mr. Postman. He is almost certain they were cast steel, and this person may be able to confirm that, plus provide photographs.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/02/05 11:37:46 EST

Sean: Price you paid is about right. I watch anvil prices on eBay and at Quad-States. On the English anvils only Peter Wrights bring a good price. Others usually sell in the $1 - $1.25 pound range. I suspect a lot of the price discrepancy has to do with the shape. PWs typically have that more modern, London-pattern shape, while Mouseholes and some others have the older, blocky look.

You can confirm it is a Mouse Hole by looking for punch marks between the weight numbers, such as 1 . 2 . 4. Apparently only Mouse Hole put them there. My neighbor, Hunter Pilkington, has a MH identifiable only by shape and the two spaced punch marks.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/02/05 11:43:19 EST

What are some of the books names that i need to start learning about metals and crafting them?
If you have the names on your web site then please tell me were i can look and get them.
I am really wanting to be a blacksmith becuase i enjoy Fire, metal working and crafting things that I know i didi my self.
Tyler Aka Red
   Tyler Aka Red - Wednesday, 11/02/05 11:51:00 EST

Regrinding old anvils: IF the edges are mushroomed as well as rounded you can clean up the sides first with a coarse wheel in an angle grinder. This will often remove a lot of damaged area. IF the edges are severly chiped you can reduce the width of the face ever so slightly by grinding the same area (maybe 1" of the side) sloping it from the side toward the face a few degrees.

If the face is sunken you can gently take a little off around the low spot. However, if the top is severly swayed DO NOT try to remove all that. You will thin the face more than necessary. Never take off more than 1/16" and try to be sure to take it off high places not all over. A few pits will not hurt as long as the surface is generaly smooth.

Once you have cleaned up the sides and the face there should be less edge damage than appeared when you started. This can then be gently radiused out. If there are bad chips round them as well but you do not necessarily need to make the entire edge straight. A flap wheel on a 4-1/2" is a good tool to gently work on these.

The step in front of the face at the horn is also called the table or chisle shelf. This flat spot is soft on old wrought anvils and was used to prevent damaging the edges of chisles. The result is that they are often cut up quite bad. Don't worry about it. You can clean it up a little if you like. However, if you take off too much you are just adding a lot of wear to the anvil.

DO NOT polish or grind off all the rust on the body. Anvils are heavy and generally cold thus attracting condensation. They rust. That thick layer of rust took a hundred years or more to develope. Paint over it or oil it.

If you are not expert with a grinder then fine grits are better than coarse.

The number one enemy of old anvils is welders using them for cutting and welding benches. I saw one old 400 pound anvil that a welder had used to practice starting torch cuts on every 3/8" inch or so. . .

The number two enemy of old anvils is people that think they can "fix" them.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/02/05 12:14:02 EST

I am thinking of getting an abrasive chop saw for the shop. Does anybody have any recomendations as to brand/price range I should be looking at? Most of the cutting will be on stock 1" solid or less, but I can forsee using it on bigger stock ocassionally. Thanks for your help.

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 11/02/05 12:39:39 EST


I had a Makita 14" chop saw for more than ten years in my sign shop. It was in daily use for cutting angle and bar for making electrical signs. It finally died, but not until it had made thousnads of cuts in the shop and perhaps thousands more cutting rebar for building three houses. I replaced it with a Porter-Cable that seems to work, but also seems significantly less powerful.

One shop I worked in had a 20" Kalamazoo that was a really solid machine with lots of power. If you could find one of those at a decent price, I'd say grab it.

For big stuff, a horizontal band saw is better, I think. If you have the room, one of them would be a good investment. The nice thing about the horizontal bandsaw is that it doesn't generate all that nasty cutting swarf and fumes that a chop saw does. Then you could just get a cheapie 14" Harbor Freight chop saw for the quick little jobs, and times when you need something you can move around at will.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/02/05 13:10:02 EST

Patrick, For many years I used an abrasive cutoff saw as the primary saw in my fab shop. I was cutting mostly steel tubing but also did quite a lot of 3/4" cold rolled. I ran a cheap 14" milwaulkee which was basically designed for cutting metal studs. The first one was only good for about ten years of daily use (with one switch repair). I still have the second one for portable use. I now use a cold saw but that's a little extreme for a home shop. I suspect even the cheap HF version would work fine for occasional use.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 11/02/05 13:12:27 EST

Tomohawk handle/eye

I made one of the nifty railroad spike hawks, and am working on getting it handled. I made the eye 3/4" in diameter. I'm wondering whether it should have a taper to match the standard hawk handle tapers - with the eye wider at the top. What's a good source for hawk handles? I don't have any local sources for scrounging hardwood, so I probably need to buy.
   - Tom T - Wednesday, 11/02/05 15:00:06 EST

whats a good way to remove chrome plating from some trailer balls that I picked up? Thanks
   adam - Wednesday, 11/02/05 15:11:27 EST

Seven Shots Trading Post has small hawk handles(they call them mouse handles-ebay #6559186447 for a picture- about the right size for small hawks
   - ptpiddler - Wednesday, 11/02/05 15:15:45 EST

Tomahawk eyes:

Tom, you need that taper to keep the head from flying off, especially since spikes have so little meat in the eye to hold by friction.

Mouse hawk handles are about the right size, but if you're feeling ambitious you can slit the eye a little more and use a standard handle.

Hawk drift source: Kayne and son, see our advertisers. Handle sources: Dunlap woodcrafts is where many of 'em come from that the other folks resell. www.dunlapwoodcrafts.com , BUT they don't list the handles on the site. Call 'em up and order whatever you want in literally any North American hardwood you want. Dunlap's handles are tapered pretty darn close to the taper imparted by the drift, minimizing fit-up time.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 11/02/05 16:06:16 EST

I have been making metal artwork for the past two years or so with a marine theme (www.metallicmarineart.com). I started using mostly a plasma cuter to cut out shapes, but have recently been doing more shaping with a sandbag, various shaping hammers, and then a planishing hammer. I would like to get into more shaping, specifically using a power hammer to shrink and stretch sheet metal to get the shapes I want. I typically use 16 or 18 ga. hot rolled mild steel for my work. I know very little about power hammers and wonder what size I should be looking for, what types of dies for shrinking, sources for finding used power hammers, basically anything I can learn about power hammers.
   Mark Witteveen - Wednesday, 11/02/05 17:07:07 EST

Sheet Metal Hammers: Mark, for sheet metal you do not use what a blacksmith would classify as a power hammer. The machines for what you are doing use small hand held air hammers mounted in a C-frame. The folks at the automotive sheet metal sites and forums will have lots of information on these.

Also applicable to sheet metal are fly presses wheich can be used for embossing and coining as well as die shaping hot or cold. And for large smooth shapes the English Wheel is growing in popularity.

Our advertiser BlacksmithsDepot (Kayne and Son) carries Fly Presses and we have several demos on our iForge page. However, these were focused mainly on heavier blacksmith type work rather than the lighter light plate work.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/02/05 17:20:07 EST

Mark you may want to look at some of the armour making forums too---like armourarchive.org (note english spelling of armour)

Some folks have been building air hammers for sheetmetal work or even making holders for air driven impact tools and using them to shape and plansih.

Ted Banning is very talented in this way if you can find any pictures of the tools he has built.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/02/05 19:36:35 EST

This is an amazing web resource on metals: www.steelynx.net.

Dietz Patent Lanterns: www.lanternnet.com I bought one from them and it is a real beauty in full galvanized finish.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/02/05 20:17:26 EST

Ken S : Thanks again, I had looked under anvil, about 900 entries, few actual anvils. I don't think I would buy one that I couldn't drive to in 3-4 hours, they arn't that scarse here.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 11/02/05 21:51:18 EST

Mark Witteveen-- how about filling the long winter evenings making an English wheel to impart those subtle curves? Lindsay Books has plans.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 11/02/05 23:45:50 EST

hello, I have recently purchased an Alldays and Onions 7cwt(780lbs.approx) hammer, I am in need of foundation requirements or other information on this hammer.
   darren - Thursday, 11/03/05 00:37:32 EST

Removing Chrome Plate: There is no really good way other than grinding it off.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/03/05 09:36:02 EST

Dave Boyer: A good part of using eBay as a buyer is to learn how to cull down the listings for what you are looking for. Knowing anvils are almost always listed under Collectibles*, and not Business and Industry, narrows down the search results greatly. (*Part of the reason is likely how the category for an item is selected. You can ask for the most popular categories used for a keyword, such as anvil. If you do so it shows only 14% of listings with anvil in the title are in Collectibles. However, the full name of the specific category of Collectibes/Tools, Hardware & Locks/Tools/Blacksmithing would make it an obvious place to list a blacksmithing anvil.

You have the option to search several ways, such as highest or lowest current price and newest or oldest listings. Also you can choose between 25 and 200 listings (results) per page. I almost always opt for the 200 so I don't have to keep working through page after page.

Part of it is also knowing to use alternative spellings, such as wrenchs vs the correct wrenches or vise (U.S.) vs vice (British) or armor (US) vs armour (British). I once saw a listing which used the spelling of Anvel.

Anvils are also sometimes listed under Antiques.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/03/05 10:42:47 EST

Adams comment on building finger strength for hammering on Tuesday:

...of course, once you do develop the hand strength, all of your friends will use you to open stubborn bottle caps and jar tops! ;-)

Don't forget to check out the two National Park Service sites for blacksmithing: Saugus Iron Works NHS in Massachusetts (www.nps.gov/sair) and Hopewell Furnace NHS in Pennsylvania (www.nps.gov/hofu). Be sure to click on the "in depth" button for further details. There's also detailed information on charcoal making (the primary fuel for these operations) at Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland (www.nps.gov/cato). Even if your not within visiting range, these parks may provide further information for the project.

Camp Fenby:
Gearing up for Camp Fenby Autumn Session I this weekend. All sorts of projects cropping up over the next two weekends of nautical or equestrian natures. I'll take pictures.

Camp Fenby: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CampFenby/

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 11/03/05 10:50:51 EST

Ebay searchs. A big problem is that dealers know that "blacksmithing" is a hot key word on ebay and things with absolutely nothing to do with it come up. In fact on some searches MORE are erronious listings than true ones. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/03/05 10:58:34 EST

chrome: didnt think it would be hard! Muriatic acid? Hot fire outside? Electrolysis. I just need to get it to the point where I can safely weld and perhaps forge.
   adam - Thursday, 11/03/05 11:01:09 EST

Anvel - you sure this was a misspelling of "anvil" perhaps he was trying to sell his navel? :)
   adam - Thursday, 11/03/05 11:04:02 EST

Hammer Foundation:

Darren, John N (see several postings above) may have some information for you.

However, in general this is a orphan machine and you will need to do a lot of reverse engineering on your own.

The most important thing to know if this is a two piece hammer is that letting the ram over travel too far down will wrecj the machine. There is almost always a mark on the ram somewhere that is the maximum travel. When you set the anvil be sure to mount it a bit higher so that any settling or compression of the wood pad does not let the ram over travel.

In the past seperate foundations were made for hammer and anvil. Today it is more common to build heavy monolithic foundations that both the hammer and anvil set on. Normally you put a wood cushion under the anvil. As the anvil bases are often rough this allows something you can match to the shape of the anvil.

Machine bolts need some flexibility. After the anvil is set the machine is wedged around the anvil to align the dies and to hold the machine firmly. Wedges are often two mating pieces. Once tight they are trimmed smooth and a sheet metal cover fitted over them. Bolting needs to let the machine be aligned.

If vibration of other machinery or transmission of vibration to other buildings is going to be a problem then foundations get complicated and expensive. We have written on isolation foundations here in the past.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/03/05 11:31:48 EST

Welding Chrome Plated Parts: Chrome plated parts can be easily welded using stainless welding rods. The rod burns through the chrome and where the chrome and steel mix they are similar to the stainless and everything blends together quite well.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/03/05 11:34:24 EST

Re 7 cwt alldays foundation:

I do not have a drawing for this hammer.

The recommended inertia block (concrete) sizes for a massey 7 cwt (similar ish ft.lbs energy & shape hammer) for average ground conditions is 9'10" long / 5'6" wide / 5'6" deep.

This may seem massive, but if your digging a big hole, you may as well dig it a bit bigger if you see what I mean. Always get a ground survey done by civil engineer.

Measure depth of anvil block to work out drop size into the inertia block. Ideally 1/2 " fabreeka mat under anvil. or timbers. (never trust a foundation drawing on an old hammer, the anvil tops have usually been remachined a few times and theres nothing more embarrising than putting the hammer over anvil and having a 2" gap! or so ive been told)

give yourself a couple of inchs clearance min between ram head and base of cylinder min.

I dont think the alldays have a bottom air port in the ram cylinder (they lift by vacum on most models) so you dont need to wrooy about clearing the port with ram head. (take ram out to be sure anyway!)

can be easier not to cast the bolts in, but diamond drill & resin after positioning hammer over anvil.

No quick fixes on installing a larger hammer, just alot of money to spend and disruption!
   John N - Thursday, 11/03/05 12:06:13 EST

Alldays foundation (2)

thinking on, remember to put 1" timber raft under bedplate (well bedded) to prevent stress loading on the casting from uneven concrete, I use Iroko (spelling?)hardwood for all timbers (wedges & baseplate timbers) - costs more that other types but cheaper than digging it up 2 years later to replace them!

recess the bedplate under floor level and checkerplate the whole lot flush after much safer & neater.
   John N - Thursday, 11/03/05 12:20:30 EST

Sean's Anvil and it Repairs:

This was a pretty good anvil and to the neophyte would look pretty good. However, what need repairing the most are the repairs made by a previous owner or dealer. This is a first class example of why I repeatedly tell people DO NOT MAKE WELD REPAIRS. Click image below for detail image.

Click for enlargement

This anvil had some chips and face wear. None of it needed welding. A little dressing with a grinder and it would have been fine. It would not have been perfectly flat or straight but it would have been better than this.

The welds are all undercut as is typical of most arc welding. This results in crevises as bad as the chisel marks. When grinding by hand prooved too big a job an atempt to grind the anvil on a surface grinder was made. This was aborted after the narrow wheel dug into the unlevel surface (they are NEVER level to the feet). Amazingly I've seen this artifact of botched repairs several times before.

Now the old anvil has weld crevises in the face and on the edges. Welds and weld material of questionable quality along the hard use edges that may spall out. Also the welds will have either or both softening and hardening along the weld joints.

Most of what is wrong with the anvil can be dressed out. However, everything that was wrong with it before the screwed up repairs could have been dressed out. The edges would not have been sharp or straight and the face would not have been flat. But they were not after the repair and will be much less so after repairing the "repairs".

Anvils DO NOT need:

  • Sharp corners - these are bad for forging resulting in cold shuts, crack prone corners and marked work.
  • Perfect flat face - Although flat is nice a slight sway is better for straightening and smooth is more important than flat for producing good work.

    Anvils DO NEED:

  • Good metalurgically sound faces and edges (no arc welding).
  • Properly radiused edges to prevent damage to work and damage to the anvil and hammer.
  • Smooth face.

    Many smiths work a LOT on the edges of anvils. I do constantly while forgeing leaves tongs and such and anything that has a point. Corners are a high stress area due there shape and the duty they see. Being built up out of weld material (electro slag casting) with crystalization along the weld, slag inclusions and various metalurgicall defects it NOT good for a high stress area. Rather than this mess it is better for edges to be radiused a little more than we might want to clean up the chipping. Severe chips can be radiused less and just left as a defect to work around.

    You can also screw up an anvil with a grinder. Do as little as possible and plan on working around some defects. When you have used an anvil a while and have more experiance with a grinder then dress it some more.

    Unless you are a professional welder AND have experiance welding hardened tool steel then don't make weld repairs. I know dealers that cannot resist doing this as well as remachining anvil faces. Yep, the results look pretty but they are doing their customers a disservice as well as the generations of future owners of the mess they create.
  •    - guru - Thursday, 11/03/05 13:29:43 EST

    I am looking into building a power hammer based on the Beaudry Champion power hammer with a 50# ram. Does any one have any first hand knowledge of how the parts are put together inside the spring box of one of these hammers? I only have pictures to go by and if I could get some first hand details of the spring box, spring arm, and ram assemblies such as dimensions, arrangements of parts, parts inside the spring box that cannot be seen in a picture, how the spring arms are fastened to the spring box , how the crank pin is fastened to the spring box and how it is adjusted. Or where I might find a exploded diagram of these parts like in a parts manual, it would save me from spending a lot of time doing trail and error work. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.
       david lucas - Thursday, 11/03/05 14:42:04 EST

    Chrome plate removal.

    Would "tumbling" it work? I'm thinking a few hours in a big rotary tumbler might wear off the chrome plating.
       - Tom T - Thursday, 11/03/05 16:41:11 EST

    I want to thank all the gurus for their advice on (lighter-weight) hammer use/control. I have some experience with the warning signs and beginnings of repetetive stress problems, so I don't want to cause myself any (further) problems with blacksmithing.

    My husband and I took a run up to Centaur Forge today, and I got myself a 1.5 lb. Nordic Forge rounding hammer, and an 800 gm Peddinghaus German Pattern cross-peen hammer. We also got a 1.75 lb Nordic Forge clipping/cross-peen hammer that may be a little heavy for me (but I must remember I *can* choke up), but is very nifty, and which is fine for my husband. Hopefully this weekend we can try out the new goodies.
       Liana Winsauer - Thursday, 11/03/05 18:13:41 EST

    'The number two enemy of old anvils is people that think they can "fix" them.' : Guru

    I resent that! Why cant I be #1?
       adam - Thursday, 11/03/05 18:14:20 EST

    Liana Winsauer: A fairly good exercise for learning hammer control is to pound 16-penny nails in a thick board. Concentrate on where you want to strike and then learn to hit that spot with the force desired.
       Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/03/05 18:46:09 EST

    When I was more novice than I am now, I had to do a lot of cold shisel work to take apart an old reel mower for the steel blades. This really helped with the hammer control, and working the punch/hot cut.
       - Tom T - Thursday, 11/03/05 19:26:29 EST

    Chrome-plated trailer ball-- how about just putting it in the gas forge? (The forge will burn off galvanized, so why not chrome?) Chrome is toxic, I believe. So make this is an outdoor procedure and scram, pronto. When all the funny smoke abates, I'd take it out and let it normalize.
       miles undercut - Thursday, 11/03/05 20:56:54 EST

    adam - chrome removal: The profesional way is to set up just like You were going to electroplate chrome onto the part, but use the oposite polarity. Do You know anybody who is setup for plating? It most likley isn't worth getting set up for Yourself to do one part.
       Dave Boyer - Thursday, 11/03/05 23:33:41 EST

    Beaudry Mechanism: David, The Beaudry hammers use a roller cam on springs design. The head has an eliptical track (the cam) and two spring arms with rollers. This mechanism gives the exact same response as the Dupont toggle linkage EXCEPT the eliptical track can be modified from the pure harmonic motion of the dupont linkage.

    The way both mechanisms work is that at rest or at the neutrtal point there is infinite mechanical advantage compressing the spring. However, as soon as the spring is compressed the linkage moves into a position where there is much less than infinite mechanical advantage. The spring compresses as the machine tries to lift (accelerate upward) the ram and then again as the upward inertia is stopped. At the bottom of the stroke the spring starts to compress just before the work is done so that the spring can help lift the ram on the return.

    Timing and lift force is critical each determined by the spring force and slack adjustments in the Dupont linkage. In the Beaudry design you could change the characteristics of the machine with the cam track shape. The design of this shape is via carefully laid out timing vs. spring force graphs. Lots of nifty geometry. Back when these machines were designed and built they were from hand lofted curves based on numerous calculations. Today you could calculate a table of data points or graph the curve in an instant with a modern computer and a small basic computer program. It is a problem for an engineer.

    Bruce Wallace of United Forging Hammers owns what is left of the Beaudry line. However he has not decided to publish the engineering details of these machines at this point. There is no financial insentive in it.

    United Forging Hammers
       - guru - Thursday, 11/03/05 23:51:22 EST

    OBTW - There are a few details of the Beaudry Linkage in the book Pounding out the Profits. However, this is more of an historical tretise, not engineering. See our book review page.
       - guru - Thursday, 11/03/05 23:53:08 EST

    Hi guys, sorry for taking up space if this is not a question which can be answered here, but Im relatively sure that my question is pertinent and can be at the least addressed here.

    Im a first year chemistry (Im taking what is basically Chem 101, but Im still in high school) student and am at the moment doing a bunch of research on thermite, the welding/cutting, incendiary powder of aluminum and iron oxide (No I am not going to ask you to do my homework; this is an extracurricular research). Ive not yet managed to get my rear end down to the library, but have been doing quite a lot of net-based research. However my problem is that there is an extremely large amount of junk out there about explosives and other stupid stuff teenagers concoct because they think they know what they are doing. Now what I was hoping is that you fine gentlemen (and ladies), with your long collective history of welding and metal working could at least point me in the right direction to find good books and web-based resources on the production and use of thermite.
    Since I am in highschool my chemistry teacher is not going to allow for anything beyond the weighing and perhaps grinding and electrolysis to go on in his classroom. Dont start worrying though I will have an experienced chemist (my dad), with a Bachelors degree, making sure I dont do anything stupid. His one rule is that I come up with all necessary materials and plans by myself for our joint projects, proposed by me. And thus we see why Im finding out where I can get genuine information on this subject.

    All the best Walker

    P.S. Sorry for the long post
       Walker - Friday, 11/04/05 02:35:14 EST

    Walker: Lindsay books has a small pamphlet on thermite. Also there is a Canadian Co that does all the thermite welding for the Canadian RR - you should be able to find them with Google - I chatted with them once and they were very freindly and helpful.
       adam - Friday, 11/04/05 07:18:58 EST

    I'm a retired chemist/chemistry prof AND a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator. I'm a so-called expert. I used to teach about these kinds of things in class. I believe one can benificialy learn a great deal of legitimate useful chemistry with these kinds of projects.

    The legal climate of the whole world has changed dramaticaly in the last few years. I worked on the unsuccessful defense of a young man who harmlessly experimented with a thermite mixture. He is in a federal Penn. A local kid (19 yrs old)is now facing Federal charges for blowing up plastic pop bottles with baking soda and vinegar!

    The world has changed. Even surfing the net for information about explosives can be used against one. I know another case where a person got a "plan" for a bomb off the web and gave a print-out to someone else. NO "BOMB" WAS EVER MADE! They were nailed for "conspiricy" and sent to the penn! The funny part is the plan originaly came from a US government manual.

    I could help you, but I won't. If I did I could be nailed for "Conspiracy too. I urge you to find some other line of research. Don't abandon your curiosity in Chemistry though!
       - John Odom - Friday, 11/04/05 08:06:21 EST

    Another anvil mystery: There was a listing on eBay for a page out of a 1913 hardware company catalog for leg vises and anvils. Seller sent me a close-up of the one anvil ad after the listing closed. Ad is a bit confusing as it refers to two separate plants.

    Top part lists weights of 50 Lb ($1.70), 70 ($2.30) and 100 ($3.40). It says these are shipped from factory in Illinois. Bottom part says it is a one-piece anvil and ... "The compound used was perfected after many years of experiment by one of the oldest manufactuers in the United States."... Lists weights of: 80 Lb ($8.60), 100 ($10.50), 125 ($13.00), 150 ($15.50), 175 ($18.00) and 200 ($20.50). Bottom of this ad says, "Shipped from factory in Ohio."

    The first part of ad would make me think they were made by Illinois Iron and Bolt Company. However, as far as I know, the only other factory they had was when they purchased the American Skein and Foundry in Rachine, WI, dropped their Badger line, and produced Vulcans there.

    The Columbian Hardware Company was in Cleveland (OH), but they were still producing their one-piece, cast steel anvils at that time. The Columbus (OH) Anvil and Forging Company (Arm & Hammer) and the Columbus (OH) Forge and Iron Company (Trentons) were producing the soft bodied, steel plate anvils by forging at least the top half. I doubt they would cast and finish an anvil.

    However, note the difference in price of 100 Lb from Illinois ($3.40) to the one from Ohio ($10.50). (In 1913 100 Lb Hay-Buddens were selling for about $.20 pound.)

    Anvil shown in ad looks very much like the red painted Vulcan anvil discussed a couple of days ago. Side shown is with the horn to the left. Does show it as having a a thick top area.

    Any thoughts? Could II&B have made these in Carpentersville in competiton with the Vulcans (which may be why a brand name isn't identified) and subcontracted some production to a foundry in Ohio?
       Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/04/05 08:45:44 EST

    Follow-up: Spoke to Richard Postman. He says there may be a lot of advertising fluff in ads. For example, on the one for semi-steel saying it is equal to other anvils selling at twice the price we ask. He noted most founderies would have had the capability to pour semi steel. They would have been better than one piece cast iron anvils. On the second one, he speculates they were just offering the Columbian cast steel anvil without mentioning the name. The line about the ingot compound being from one of the oldest manufacturers in the U.S. may also be fluff. Columbia didn't start up until about 1890 - about the same time as Hay-Budden and Trenton. Vulcan had been making anvils for about 15 years and Fisher for over 40 years.
       Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/04/05 10:47:15 EST

    Sharabok's post about the 16 penny nails reminded me of one of my students who was working with an old carpenter, and the student kept leaving hammer marks on the wood after the nail was driven home. The old man said, "I'm going to charge you 50 per owl eye from now on, and I'm going to go around and count them". About midway through the second day of work, the kid quit leaving marks.
       Frank Turley - Friday, 11/04/05 10:47:24 EST

    Hey I was wondering about buetain torches will be a good source of the fire needed to heat up the metal. If so how big the container needs to be.
       - Forrest - Friday, 11/04/05 10:50:50 EST

    Trailer balls. Thanks for all the help. I will pickle with muriatic acid - I read somewhere that this doesnt strip the underlayer of nickel but thats ok here. Then, I will roast in the gas forge at red to boil off any remaining nasties. I did consider electrolysis - I do have a battery charger and if that isnt up to it, well theres the new welder :). But I also read that this process can generate chromium hexasomething which makes one turn green and die.

    The balls have a 3/4"? 7/8"?threaded stem - I need a 1" sq hardy shank. Other than cutting the stem down to a 1" stub and welding on a pc of sq tubing - any ideas for converting these into hardy tools?
       adam - Friday, 11/04/05 10:55:46 EST

    Liana; it's real handy to have a range of sizes in the same pattern. That way you can use the one that suits the job and your arm at the moment. I've started warming up with a hammer that is 1/2 the weight of my main hammer; can't afford the down time anymore if I aggravate my elbow. If the day is long I may switch back to a lighter hammer as I tire out too.

    Thermite: over at swordforum.com at the bladesmith's cafe there is a fellow who has been doing thermite melts to get custom blade alloys. I'd talk to him.

    Adam: run a weld bead up the sides to get 4 touch points; or square off the threaded area---I'd forge it and then weld a piece of angle iron on one corner that would make the other one fit nicely as well, use a piece that will stick all the way through the hardy hole so you have a place to pop it out with a hammer if it's snug.

       Thomas P - Friday, 11/04/05 12:00:30 EST

    Ken's anvil ads:

    Click for enlargement

    Many catalog companies sold brand names we know without the brand. McMaster-Carr does the same today. Others had their "private brand" label on others products.

    Some of the old catalog companies had bad product descriptions or possibly misleading. There is a fine line between hype and misrepresentation. I have found that in old industrial catalogs there was no hype, no misrepresentaion and products priced according to quality. However hardware store and mailorder catalogs were sometimes not as truthful.
       - guru - Friday, 11/04/05 12:22:41 EST

    At that price I might could take two! What'll be the tax on $3.40?
       adam - Friday, 11/04/05 13:13:28 EST

    Thermite Warning: Walker, PLEASE read and understnad John Odom's post. The world is truely screwed up today and things our generation did as kids can get you jailed OR flagged as mentaly unstable and assigned a counselor or shrink for most of your life. If you aren't screwed up when they start they will make SURE you are screwed up before they finish . . .

    John's warning about surfing the web is why the Feds want to be able to investigate public library computer use as well as what you check out of the library. Soon they will not even let you unshelve and read a book without recording it. . .

    Last night we watched the movie "October Sky" about Homer Hickam and the "Rocket Boys". Its about a group of teenage boys from a West Virginia coal mine town that built rockets for a science fair project in the late 1950's. They were inspired by the lanunch of Sputnik by the Russians in 1957. Everything they did would get you put into jail today. All their research did was win the national science fair and inspire them all to get engineering degrees. Homer Hickam went on to work for NASA.

    Another "rocket builder" movie from this era was Disney's Shaggy Dog. An accidental "launch" from the basement sent a rocket through two floors and the roof. This was great Disneysque fun at the time but you could never get a job with them if this happened to you today. . .

    Thermit Welding Info Sources: Machinery's Handbook has some general information. The old copies from the 1930's mention different types for welding cast iron, steel and alloy steels. There were strength grades similar to welding rods. It was used a great deal to repair large castings that had failed or broken in foundries.

    The Encylopedia Britanica will have fairly good details on the chemistry. However, their information can be dangerous because they do not discuss process details.

    There is a reference called "The Chemical Formulary" that has chemistry and compounds for everything from paint and makeup to rocket fuel. Much of the information is taken from scientific journals and chemistry patents and often includes process information. Because it is an annual it is difficult to use. You have go through each one and look under the same subject. I have a collection of old copies but they are packed for a future move and I may not see them for another 5 years. . .

    Welding text books such as Modern Welding and industrial welding source books have information about thermite use and sources. Besides the type used to weld iron and steel the type used to weld lugs onto heavy welding and electrical cables.

    University Libraries: If they are an engineering or science oriented school will have a great deal of information. Most allow the public to use their resources but may limit the hours. These are a great resource often overlooked by casual researechers.

    I contacted the Thermit Corp about engineering an anvil body weld as a production process several years ago (without saying what it was). They no longer have any engineers and do nothing except rest on the work done half a century ago. They still sell RR-rail welding materials and molds but no longer carry the range of different compounds they had in the 1950's. Just another example of our declining industrial base. . .
       - guru - Friday, 11/04/05 13:29:16 EST

    Butane Torch: Forrest, Butane is used similarly to Propane by blacksmiths. Small hand held torches generally do not have enough total energy (BTU's). They work on a nail or 3/16" (5mm) bar with some difficulty. However, these torches can be used to build micro forges.

    In bulk the fuel is used to fire propane/butane forges.
       - guru - Friday, 11/04/05 13:42:08 EST

    RE: Ken Scharabok--Mouse Hole anvil, punch marks between weight numbers

    Hello Ken, chiming in late, but here goes: My old (probably CA goldrush anvil) Joshua Wilkinson anvil has punch marks between the weight numbers. This anvil is probably pretty old for CA, it was well used (not abused) and ended up in a creek bed with a single foot sticking up out of the gravel when it was found. It was sandblasted to remove the crust of rust, and that was when the name and weight appeared. An hour or two with an angle grinder removed the mushroomed edges, a belt sander cleaned up the face. Wear patterns on the face suggest it was used to sharpen picks and hand tools, appropriate for where it was found in placer mining country. Around 110 lbs, I understand that was about the limit for a "portable" anvil, and this was found in country that (then) had only trails, no roads. No repairs except taking the mushroomed edge off, the belt sanding showed the wear pattern and I can work around the pits and uneven surface on the face. Still has a good ring, after all these years. Built a stand for it from the Guru's plans, I am very pleased with the stand and it is very portable with a hand truck yet solid when on the ground.
       - David Hughes - Friday, 11/04/05 13:49:39 EST


    A couple of random thoughts on the trailer balls. Drill and tap a piece of 1" square to match the stem. Or, run as many plain steel hex nuts on the stem as you can. Take the whole mess to a welding heat and forge square.
       Mike B - Friday, 11/04/05 14:42:47 EST

    David Hughes: Thank you. I will pass on that information to Richard Postman as I have a packet of mail going out to him today.

    When we spoke on the phone this AM he indicated he has found a number of additional English anvil manufacturers. Apparently many (if not most) of the British Forge Works tried their hands at anvil making at one time or another. He speculated many of these might have ended up in Australia. Apparently only PW, MH and Wilkinson exported a quantity of anvils to the U.S. However, there certainly are oddball and orphans out there.

    Even some U.S. made ones are scarce. Take Yost for example. He has not come across one, but we do have a lead to a 100-pounder. He is almost certain they were cast steel. Seeing one (or good photogrpahs) could confirm it.

    I am still waiting for contact with the grandson of the Will Zoeller interviewed in Foxfire 5. In the interview it says he had an American Ross. I am still pretty confident it was an American Wrought, either from the American Wrought Anvil Co. or an American (Horse Shoe Brand) Wrought made by Hay-Budden for Montgomery Ward.
       Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/04/05 14:51:33 EST

    Adam-- What I do is, I stick the trailer ball in the post vise and beat on it as required. Be careful to strike only transverse to the jaws. Or else if you are enterprising and a perfectionist, cut off the threaded stub and give the ball a new square stub to fit your anvil with a good deep penetration weld. If the weld cracks in a few years, which it won't, do another one.
       miles undercut - Friday, 11/04/05 17:23:06 EST

    Trailer balls: Thanks all for your suggestions. I think I will go with arc welding on a pc of snug fitting angle iron. Then I will arc weld a pad of mg740 rod on the flat land on top and round it over with the grinder. So far I am very happy with the MG740 that I laid down on my anvil.
       adam - Friday, 11/04/05 18:37:43 EST

    If you use square tubing you don't need to cut off the threads. For example, 1" thick wall tubing will slide right over a 3/4" threaded shaft. Just tack weld at the end. Quick hardy shaft.
       Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/04/05 18:37:46 EST

    Flats on Hitch Balls:

    1) Cut off shank grind to match surface curvature.

    2) Rotate 90° and weld on new shank.

    This leaves a flat on the side where does not interfere and presents a clean original surface to the top work area. The flat usualy has the size marked on it. If the shank is a piece of short leg heavy angle it may fit your anvil's hardy hole and clamp in a vise. However, I prefer solid shanks. . .

    If the chrome starts to flake off then worry about it then.
       - guru - Friday, 11/04/05 19:24:11 EST

    Trailer ball end use. I find that a ball welded to a tall shank sitting in the vise works best as a sheet metal or spoon stake. If it is in the hardy hole, it would seem unhandy as a stake.
       Frank Turley - Friday, 11/04/05 20:48:26 EST

    Essentially any hardy tool can be used in a vise. I deal with the flat spot on top by welding it up with stainless steel rod and then grinding it to more or less round. If one had a lathe, the shank could he held and a true roundness put on it.
       Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/04/05 21:37:57 EST

    Frank, is your Email working? Is mine getting there?
       miles undercut - Friday, 11/04/05 22:17:25 EST

    What is it you guys are making with these precision-ground trailer balls, anyway? Containment vessels for plutonium cores? Don't answer that. I don't have Q clearance. Joan does, though., come to think of it.
       miles undercut - Friday, 11/04/05 22:21:43 EST

    Miles, in that case you can tell Joan that these balls are critical components in the refinement of weapons grade millenium. Then please shoot yourself.
       adam - Saturday, 11/05/05 02:00:27 EST

    Flat on the side. Most trailer balls have a nice forged collar around the stem. I dont think this works.
       adam - Saturday, 11/05/05 02:03:18 EST

    Adam-- Millenium-- that's what effluvium becomes as it condenses on its way down through the half-life decay, no? I don't want to shoot myself. If it's all the same to you, I'd prefer to just segue into a new molecular configuration, the way they taught me back on Mars.
       miles undercut - Saturday, 11/05/05 02:46:31 EST

    Ken Sharabok: From what little I know about Will Zoellner, from having met a couple of his descendants in western KY (hi, Bob!), his tools went to the Foxfire museum in Rabun Gap, GA. If Wigginton were still there you could probably find out more that way, but I don't know who runs the place now, if anyone.
       Alan-L - Saturday, 11/05/05 08:54:11 EST

    Trailer balls: My recomendation is what the armour guys are doing. Cut, grind, reweld. Some often just cut and leave two flats. You can also weld up the top flat with stainless rod and keep the chrome plating and the original shank. It is NOT a big deal.

    If you spend enough time at blacksmith meets it does not take long to have a collection of balls of all sizes. My collection currently includes 8" ball mill ball, 6" forging with shank, 4" hemisphere with stack shank, 3" hemisphere with stack shank, 2.5" ball mill ball, 1.5" bearing ball and several smaller old ball bearing balls. This great range took about a year to collect without trying very hard. However, I DO travel quite a bit for anvilfire.

    The heavy loose balls are best used on a bench with a support ring to keep them from rolling away. Or you can set them in a swage block but this ties up the swage block with a heavy item that is a pain to move.

    During the same time I had realized that many of my ball pien hammers had walked off. By just keeping an eye out for different sizes I now have a graduated set that starts at about 2 ounces and tops out at 4 pounds. Many of these sizes are no longer made and you just have to pay attention.

    I have not had as good of luck with Pexto style sheet metal "repousse'" hammers. These are the ones that have a mushroom end and a ball end and square at the eye. I have a three pound and would like several smaller and maybe one larger. But one day I will come across some or someone divesting themselves of a collection. . . I know they are out there but I have not been seriously looking.
       - guru - Saturday, 11/05/05 11:46:10 EST

    Chrome on an anvil tool is plain disgusting! How can you say "It is NOT a big deal" The plating is coming off.
       adam - Saturday, 11/05/05 11:57:38 EST

    TOOLS GALORE-- check the hammer-in for my note re: Gichner tools for sale. Functional anvils for $100-to $200! If you go to the shop, be SURE to make a side trip to Snow Hill, Md. and Furnace Town historical site.
       miles undercut - Saturday, 11/05/05 12:34:32 EST

    Alan L: The Foxfire Museum is the one who referred me to his grandson in Dillard, GA. They said the anvil was not among the tools donated to them. I have his phone number, but prefer writing.
       Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/05/05 13:11:09 EST

    Ken: Oh, well. Different grandkids, different stuff!
       Alan-L - Saturday, 11/05/05 15:18:23 EST

    Not to be a smartass but wouldn't it be just as easy to forge a ball stake or hardy tool with an integral shank from a piece of steel stock as go through all that cutting and welding work with the chrome ball? That said I have welded different diameter steel balls from ball mills to 1" diameter round rod shanks for use in my fly press. They also work quite nicely inverted in the swage block as a stake.
       SGensh - Saturday, 11/05/05 18:46:22 EST

    Hi Jock,
    Sorry I've not been in touch for a LONG while, but had mega problems with my PC and have been travelling some, and then suffered from a shortish illness which has now cleared up (hopefully!)Hope I can pick up with you and the Notes
    Ray Smith
       Ray Smith - Saturday, 11/05/05 21:08:12 EST

    Can I get on board again after an illness?
       Ray Smith - Saturday, 11/05/05 21:20:50 EST

    Hi everybody !
    i'm searching a good "recipe" or product that can rust steel very fastely.i try iodine, javel,salt,vinegar,water,acid,but nothing of that made "nice " and solid rust on steel.
    i want to rust forged parts and clear them after.anybody want to share a tips ?
    thanks a lot.
       machefer - Saturday, 11/05/05 23:48:00 EST

    I am no expert in this area. Muratic acid makes steel rust easily.
       burntforge - Sunday, 11/06/05 00:41:20 EST

    Rust : If I remember, some people use clorox bleach to speed up rust. I think an enclosure with wet rags helps, but the work shouldnt touch anything on visible surfaces. If You want a "nice" rust finish I think You have to scrape off the loose stuff with a piece of wood and repeat the process untill it is the way You want it.
       Dave Boyer - Sunday, 11/06/05 01:47:43 EST

    Rust: Muriatic acid will do it very rapidly. Like Dave says, the surface has to be cleaned and degreased if you want a nice even finish.

    I once left a cup of muriatic acid open on my bench overnight. In the morning all the tools and metal in the area had a coat of rust.
       adam - Sunday, 11/06/05 08:14:32 EST

    Soldering for Dummies: I am hoping Rich will address this. From time to time I have need of soldering for my ironwork. I can braze but sometimes I need something less hot for delicate parts that dont require much mechanical strength. I have done the handyman stuff with soft solder, electrical connections and copper water pipes but thats all my experience.

    What would be a good basic kit to keep on hand? Say a hard solder for around 1100F and a soft solder for, say, 700F and the appropriate fluxes for joining steel to steel or to copper or to brass? Who is a good supplier for this stuff. What should I know to avoid turning green and falling over dead from metal poisoning?

    Is there an easy way to solder copper to Al? I have some Al plate I want to use for a welding surface and a soldered on ground lead would be nice.

    Oppi Untracht suggests borax or boric acid in alchohol. But he must be talking about hard solder?

    Thank you
       adam - Sunday, 11/06/05 10:34:02 EST

    adam: I use a piece of aluminum held in my vise jaw for welding some small parts. It is about 1/2" x 3" x 8". By holding only half in the vise jaws I have room to put on welding clamps. I just ground to the vise and it works fine. You can also ground directly to the plate.
       Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/06/05 12:07:11 EST

    I don't think aluminum can be soldered, although I have seen vendors at the flea selling brazing rods for aluminum.
       miles undercut - Sunday, 11/06/05 13:05:24 EST

    Adam-- Matheson Tri-Gas in Santa Fe has what you need for steel, stainless and Santa Fe Jewelers Supply or Thunderbird (great outfit!) in ABQ, or Gallup, for copper, brass, silver, gold.
       miles undercut - Sunday, 11/06/05 13:12:02 EST

    Does anyone know where I might get a "high heat" exhaust fan to put into my forge chimney? I've tried using a blower to create a venturi effect but no go. The final answer that I can find is to put a fan right in the pipe. It's a little exhaust fan from a range hood and in the experimental mode (burning both dry and wet paper towels to create smoke) this works fine, but I'm sure it will burn out ASAP with continuous work heat. If there is no such thing as a direct vent fan, does anyone have any other suggestions??? Carbon monoxide poisoning is no fun......been there!!! Thanx
       Thumper - Sunday, 11/06/05 14:11:13 EST

    I once scoffed at auto helmets but at $50 my principles melt away: Is this likely to be any good?


    How bad are cheapie helmets?

    Trailer balls - 3/4 fits so snug in 1" tube hardle need to weld. The 7/8" fill out nicely to 1" with 4 corner weld beads - a leeetel beet of welding and grinding on the top and we're set. Thanks all.

    Flue - a blower at the top of the stack would have a cool life. How about one of those wind turbine caps - The do make powered exhuasts for sooty exhaust but its gonnn be spendy. Mebbe we should review your flue design - if you could do it with just a better flue that would be ideal.
       adam - Sunday, 11/06/05 16:04:26 EST

    I am seeking a supplier of chemicals to color steel, patinas and other finishes
       chris bryant - Sunday, 11/06/05 16:37:57 EST

    Thumper, you need three things, none of which is a fan:

    1. bigger ductwork, 8" minimum, 12" much better. As we recently learned here, you can hook two sections of six-inch stovepipe together and have a 12" pipe cheap!

    2. a side-draft forge hood. See plans in the planfile, top right hand corner pulldown menu on this page.

    3. a tall stack with as few obstructions as possible. No little conical chimney caps or worse, those woodstove thingys, for you. I have a 14" wind turbine cap affixed to my stack, and it works fine. Note: Plastic bearings are a good thing in these as long as the stack is pretty tall. Mine's 16 feet. Metal bearings will fill with coal dust and soot, and the resulting slow excruciating squeak will drive you insane.
       Alan-L - Sunday, 11/06/05 18:05:03 EST

    Adam, Just for the fun of it I took my own advice and forged a ball stake this afternoon as the last thing I did at the forge. I used 1 1/2" square stock which yielded a ball of just barely under 2" in the rough forging. I drew out an extra long flanged shank before starting the ball so it can sit down in the hardy hole or be clamped up in the vise. It still needs a little finish grinding some day but it took about twenty minutes total under the blugeo-matic and a little hand hammer cleanup at the anvil. It's not a perfect sphere but it's decent and it was fun. I also made a new hammer and couple of punches today. The hammer is 4140, the punches H13. The stake is just mild steel.

    I tried out some of PTree' magic forge lube on the hammer eye punch- Wow! That stuff is great!
       SGensh - Sunday, 11/06/05 18:30:15 EST

    to make sheres and balls fast you coulf take some 1 inch square stoke for the 'shaft' and then cut a piece of the same stock ot perhaps some round stock of the same size (1 inch) just a tad too short to wrap around the base. The wrap it around the top of the base and weld it. then round. This is fast and fairly easy. ( assuming forge welding is not a scarey event for you) I have made bolts and door knockers this way. Much faster than unsetting in my opinion.
       Ralph - Sunday, 11/06/05 19:23:58 EST

    Well then I too need a smackomatic so that I can have big balls like SGensh. I laid a pad of mg740 on the flat spot of a trailer ball, ground and filed - came out very nice. Also ran some practice beads with my new welder. Man, DC is a treat after AC only. Rods start soooo much easier and the arc is much more stable. Welds are pretty too but then this was 7018 - not hard to get a pretty bead.
       adam - Sunday, 11/06/05 20:30:57 EST

    Thanks guy's for the input. I used the forge all day today and the little fan is still turning, but I do get some side draft even under the best conditions. Still, I didn't smell or inhale the fumes "hardly" at all. For a short term fix this will have to do as Xmas is coming and grandpa Santa here need's all his extra dough. Wish one of the little angles would misbehave....I've got plenty of coal for their stockings!!
       Thumper - Sunday, 11/06/05 20:51:25 EST

    thanks a lot for rusting tips.i had try muriatic acid in the past but what it does is remove the rust...maybe i don't let it on the parts long enough...i will try ....thanks !
       machefer - Sunday, 11/06/05 21:16:56 EST

    Patinas for steel and other metals.
       Bill Stanley - Sunday, 11/06/05 21:19:34 EST

    machefer: If you soak rusty metal in say a 10% MA/90% water solution it will remove rust. Here, I believe, the folks were talking about putting the metal in an atmosphere (enclosed) with 100% MA.

    I, by accident, found you could give copper some green patina by storing it in a container with a vinegar soaked rag.

    SGensh: Please bear in mind not all of us own a power hammer outside our arm. The cut and stick method works nicely for me. If you come to the Anvilfire Hammer-in at my farm in late April (hint, hint to everyone), BigBlu will be here. Your ball stake might make a nifty demo. As I mentioned previously I will have some 1 1/2" or so stock on hand so someone who hasn't used a power hammer before can have a try at going home with a useable tool, such as a tapered drift.
       Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/06/05 21:48:31 EST

    Anvil guys: Take a look at eBay #6224267568. Beautiful A&H, but with an ugly arc weld between the top and bottom halves. Hard for me to believe it would have left the factory in that condition. Wondering if it might have separated later and someone arc welded it back. Serial number indicates 1941 production and they still made anvils in the late 40s. Has anyone seen another A&H with a weld like that?
       Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/06/05 22:32:25 EST


    Check out the nearest silversmiths supply house for what you need. 1100F solder is just about "Extra Easy" in the silversmiths jargon, and the go-ahead flux for non-ferrous metal is a liquid called "Battern's Self-Pickling Flux".

    For 700F, you'll need to get into the realm of silver-bearing solders. Some of them melt up around 675F as I recall. They mostly flux nicely with sal ammoniac or a paste flux containing sal ammoniac. The best source of supply for these is your local HVAC supply house or wholesale plumber's and gas-fitters supply.

    For soldering copper to aluminum, there was a proprietary product made and sold on the home show circuit that promised to solder to aluminum. I have more than just a few doubst about its efficacy, but I have seen it done at the shows. It was really expensive, and I had no need for it, so I can't say I've ever tried it. For your welding plate, I'd recommend getting a bolt-on welding lug from the welding supply and bolting it to the plate. Get a dab of aluminum bus-bar grease from an electrician to goo up the mating surfaces before you bolt them together and they won't corrode.
       vicopper - Sunday, 11/06/05 22:39:37 EST


    I neglected to mention that the "extra easy" silver solder wil work just dandy on steel, but is a bit more expensive than SilFos, which works as well on steel, brass, etc. The Batterns flux is still the stuff, IMHO.

    For soft soldering of steel, brass, stainless steel and glavanized steel, I used to use any old soft solder or low temp silver bearing solder. The flux of choice for that was Johnson's liquid flux from the HVAC supply.
       vicopper - Sunday, 11/06/05 22:43:40 EST

    Ken Anvil
    There is an anvil that appears to be an A&H locally where I live that has a similar wide predominate weld areound the waste. A guy has it in his yard for decor. I thought the waste had a bad factory weld and had to be reapired. It appears that it is possible it wasn't after seeing the one on ebay. Maybe the welds were not holding on the late model Arm & Hammers. It is perplexing.
       burntforge - Sunday, 11/06/05 23:08:16 EST

    machefer Rust
    As Ken pointed out. I forgot to clarify that the muriatic acid is not put on the metal to cause rust. The container is placed near the steel and is left open overnight and the steel will have a nice coat of rust and everything else in the area. The best option may be a cup of it as Adam said in an enclosed atomsphere as Ken mentioned. I am sorry I forgot that detail.
       burntforge - Sunday, 11/06/05 23:15:02 EST

    Here is a random question I am asking for a friend since I cant think of a better place to go for metalurgical help. Is there anyway to let say join a piece of copper piping to an alunimum plate? I have a friend who works on a research project and they need to pipe the exhaust out of a small generator away from something. He would like to use copper piping because its hand and wants to avoid welding. I was hoping there was some kind of high temp apoxy or joining compound he could use.
       - Michael Gora - Sunday, 11/06/05 23:24:57 EST

    Michael Gora,

    I've been through the whole gamut of trying to pipe the exhaust away from small generators, usually to a better muffler. One of the benefits of living in the Virgin Islands is living with somewhat arbitrary power. (Just tonight the whole island went dark for 2-1/2 hours when somebody screwed up.)

    To attach a flange plate with piping to a small generator, (I'm talking about the air-cooled 5kw type units), you have to use flexible conduit or it will simply destroy the flange or the mounting holes in the engine block. The vibration in those little 8 to 11 hp engines is fierce. The only workable method I came up with was to make a stainless steel flange and TIG weld corrugated SS tubing to it for the first couple of feet, and coil that for additional vibration isolation. After that coil you can couple to a decent muffler or additional exhaust tubing. However, if you get more than a couple of feet you'll need to increase the diameter of the exhaust tubing and possibly the exhaust port itself because of back pressure. Those engines are extracting about all the hp they can from the displacement they have, and they can't take any restrictions to the exhaust or intake without gagging.
       vicopper - Monday, 11/07/05 00:09:55 EST

    Arm & Hammer

    I have the same anvil, and I see no arc weld on mine. It also looks like someone tried to clean up the rough work under the heel because, from the heel perspective, the top plate looks too thin. Since that's a weak area anyway, I'd be skittish. It also looks like the top plate is thicker at the horn end than the heel end. Weird. Perhaps this was a second?
       - Tom T - Monday, 11/07/05 01:05:59 EST

    Solder :Soft solder flux- I always liked the self tinning fluxes, grew up with Nokorode, now use Otaey 95. For silver bearing solder I use J W Harris Stay Brite and the flux that goes with it. The aluminum solder sold at shows does work, but has little elongigation. A similar product can be purchased from TSC or Forney displays at ACE hardware.
       Dave Boyer - Monday, 11/07/05 01:08:37 EST

    The text books and the Net abound in advice on fluxes and procedures in soldering aluminum with gas. A MIG with a coil of aluminum wire and the gun to go with it, or a TIG would be a better investment of time-- and money.
       miles undercut - Monday, 11/07/05 01:15:08 EST

    When it comes to fixing holes punched in soda cans, the aluminum solder is hard to beat. As Miles points out, any serious aluminum fab work requires mig or tig. With a short conduit mig gun it is as easy as putting in a teflon liner and changing to pure argon. with tig there is even less to change- provided the machine is capable of AC output.
       Dave Boyer - Monday, 11/07/05 04:31:29 EST

    I seem to recall that 'taking a leak' on steel / iron causes it to rust up pretty quick :)
       John N - Monday, 11/07/05 06:15:30 EST

    Adam and Ken, I apologize if my post on the stake sounded like some kind of put down or bragging. I certainly didn't mean to get on anybody's nerves. It's tough to be understood sometimes in this medium. I really only made the stake to find out how long it would actually take me since I hadn't done it that way before. I use a hand formed ball end made at the anvil on a lot of the hooks I make as warm up pieces and just scaled it up. Using the trailer ball at hand and a welder makes perfect sense too. In my original post notice that I mentioned welding balls on shanks too. It's just another way of doing the szme task depending on the tools at hand. Adam, congrats on the new welder; it sounds like you made a good choice.
       SGensh - Monday, 11/07/05 09:51:21 EST

    If you know how to blacksmith, is it illegal to make your own swords and daggers for display?
       Jesse Jaeger - Monday, 11/07/05 10:53:37 EST

    Anvil Differences: The difference in the two is one is an all forged (by hand sledge) and the other is machine forged and welded together (with original arc weld). At the time the "electric" weld was a symbol of modern high tech so they did not try to hide it.

    Plate thicknesses vary greatly on most plated anvils due to being hand welded on with sledges and then hand dressed on a large grind stone.
       - guru - Monday, 11/07/05 11:08:55 EST

    Legalities: Jesse, In general there are no laws against swords except in localities that have open carry laws on knives. This varies by city and county. However, there are laws everywhere in the US that prohibit or require permits to carry hidden weapons.

    Oddly a 3" or greater switch blade is illegal everywhere but swords are not. The laws permitting shorted switch blades in some states varies from state to state. The reason for switch blade laws was the riots of the late 1800's and early 1900's. If the rioters had carried swords or bows and arrows we would probably still have antiquated laws against them on the books . . .

    If you really are not sure then go to your public library and ask if they have a copy of the local criminal statutes. If they do not then there will be a copy at the local courthouse that the public can use.
       - guru - Monday, 11/07/05 11:17:32 EST

    SGensh: No worries. I was just teasing. :) I am delighted that you took an interest. I think I will try Ralph's suggestion of a welded collar. That's an easy weld though I have never done one that big but mostly welds get easier as they get larger.

    Miles and everyone - thanks for the help on the solder question. I think I will get soft, extra easy and easy (my kinda woman!). Anything hotter and I will braze. Browsing the online suppliers, I see you can get a whole ladder of silver solders with increasing melting points so that one could assemble a piece starting with the highest melt temp and work down to the lowest without fear of existing joints. Should I avoid cadmium bearing solders?
       adam - Monday, 11/07/05 12:12:00 EST

    Only if you want to live to a ripe old age, Adam. Cadmium is just too toxic to ever be heated.
       vicopper - Monday, 11/07/05 12:24:33 EST

    U.S. Code : Title 15 : Section 1243 bans making, owning or selling switchblades, period, says nada about length. Max $2,000 fine, and/or five year in jail. Unless it's been changed since I last looked. Howcum then you can get one off the Net, out of every shiv mag, in any Idaho convenience store or gas station, I dunno, unless it's the old principle, lex non curat minimus, "the law doesn't care about trifles."
       miles undercut - Monday, 11/07/05 12:26:06 EST

    Jesse depends on what country you live in. Someplaces you need a license for even a wallhanger. Someplaces even control pocket knives---if the reaction to me whipping out my SAK to do a small job when I was in foreign climes is anything to go on---having just flown halfway across the world with it in my Pocket (1995) I was surprized by the folks on site all asking me if it was legal...

    A&H perhaps the coarse weld was a "wartime" practice. I've seen them with forge welds and dressed arc welds and even a couple with the undressed welds---including one without the stamp! (Bought in the Columbus OH area, we were figuring that it had gone out the back door with a worker).

    Guru; my biggest ball was a headach ball off a crane and just fits in a milk crate. I had a friend with a lathe make a screw in shaft to fit it.

       Thomas P - Monday, 11/07/05 13:04:20 EST

    Thank you very much for your response and directions
    regarding hand forging nails...It's a rare day when I turn
    my computer on and don't learn something...Jim Kirchoff
       Jim Kirchoff - Monday, 11/07/05 17:07:55 EST

    I am currently taking classes and would like to make my own forge. I eventually want to get into making sword, but I know ti will be a while. My question is, what dimensions are best for a charcoal fired forge?
    Thank You
       Nate Davis - Monday, 11/07/05 17:24:37 EST

    I was wondering if there is a Swage Tool available for producing a point on a 1/2" Square solid Picket on a production scale? Any info would be appreciated.
       Dave - Monday, 11/07/05 17:58:52 EST

    "Best" Dimensions: Forge dimensions vary somewhat according to the size of the work. Average dimensions for bottom blown forges are:

    Fire Pot rim 11 x 14" or 12 x 12" (280 x 350mm or 305 x 305mm).

    Depth 5 to 6" (125 to 150mm)

    This is where the fire will be and in simple ground forges is about the size of the hole you would dig. Jeweler's forges are considerably smaller and heavy work slightly larger with multiple fire pots.

    Then there is the fuel reserve and table area. This is where extra fuel is stored and stock supported.

    Width 28 to 38" (710 to 1000 mm)

    Length 36 to 40" (915 to 1015mm)

    Ground forges have infinite reserve area, others depend on their application. Portable forges may be as small as 24" (610mm) diameter. The maximum size is determined by the work size and ergonomics. From the sides you should be able to easily reach the bottom of the firepot to clean it. From the end you should be able to handle a short piece in tongs.

    Like much DIY equipment you build what you can afford or what your equipment or materials allow.
       - guru - Monday, 11/07/05 18:02:41 EST

    Swage tool for points: Dave see the BlacksmithsDepot.com web site (on our drop down menu). They have them.
       - guru - Monday, 11/07/05 18:04:06 EST

    Animal Shelter needs advice: How would you install a steel garage door as a roof over an outdoor kennel?

    We have nine steel pipe kennels to do, each 10' X 10', so we need to do this the easiest/quickest/cheapest way. The garage doors (donated to us) have a minimal metal framework and we want to mount them about 2 feet higher on one side to act as a shed roof. Our question is how to get them secured on that side to the kennels, which are made of steel tube 1.5" ID open-ended verticals. If you cna come up with a way to do this quick/easy with recycled materials, so much the better. Thanks in advance for your advice.

       - Tom - Monday, 11/07/05 21:46:53 EST

    Hello all,

    I'm just getting started in this whole blacksmithing thing and I've found this place is a great resource.

    I've decided to make as many of my tools as I can for practice.

    I live near some railroad tracks that have had some recent maintatinance.

    I've found some large bolts, spring locking washers for said bolts, several spikes (some HC) and something that looks like a clip of some kind. It a solid strip not pressed like most of the retaining clips.

    The bolts seem to be used to hold rail togather.

    Are the bolts and washers generaly carbon steel? Should they be hardenable enough to make tools out of?

    Thanks in advance!
       Blu - Monday, 11/07/05 23:45:52 EST

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