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

This is an archive of posts from November 17 - 24, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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Guru/Anybody, Do you know where I can get info on old "Little Giant" tool's? I've got a line on a 200lb+ bench shear I'm thinking of getting (pulling out of the mud), but want some spec's on capability. Thanx
   Thumper - Wednesday, 11/16/05 23:48:49 EST

Johnny: In the late seventies there was a splitter built that used a flywheel and rack and pinion. I think it was comercially built, but it fits Your description. The flywheel and pinion was brought up to speed and then lowered into the rack, which had a gap in the teeth at the end of the stroke. If I remember corectly. This could possibly be built from scrounged parts. If You find a big ball screw & nut in Your scroungings You could try that also.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 11/17/05 00:03:01 EST

Thumper : some people use a Henrob torch for that sort of work, They are not cheap, but less than plasma. I think a good bit of skill is necessairy to get good results however.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 11/17/05 00:06:28 EST

Log splitter, without the use of hydraulics or compressed air, it would use only kinetic wieght energy? Yeah, they got those! Called a splitting maul! Seroiusly, are you talking about a gas or electric powered machine? Hand operated? Gravity?
   - grant - Thursday, 11/17/05 00:07:35 EST

The ASTM standard for the new body implant stainless is for "F 138", which is "F138-03 Standard Specification for Wrought 18 Chromium-14 Nickel-2.5 Molybdenum Stainless Steel Bar and Wire for Surgical Implants"
You can indeed find a whole bunch of info about it at ASTM.org.
My guess is that it is indeed slightly better for body implants than the previous stuff, but unless it is for things that go inside your body and stay there, like plates on your skull for example, I would bet the average person would not be able to tell if it is any better.
For simple things like piercing rings, the differences are probably mostly theoretical.
And it sounds as if it will be harder to get, in a more limited number of shapes and sizes, and more expensive as well.
If I was poking holes in myself, and sticking wires thru, I would probably be just as satisfied with the old 316.
But if I was charging money for piercing, or selling body jewelry, I guess for liability and marketing reasons, I would probably use the new stuff. But it sounds a lot like "billet" in the hot rod industry to me.
I have a friend who is a big manufacturer of body jewelry up in BC, and next time I see her I will get her take on this.
   - ries - Thursday, 11/17/05 00:10:22 EST

hello guru, Iam a tinknocker in los angales california. i am building a equipment screen out of 18ga zinc. the panles are 60%perf corigated 10' in length. I need to know the amount of expansion to expect before I decide on what type of fastners to use. I know that zinc does have a great deal of expansion and am consurned that it will rip them out as it expans and contract.
   erik steelman - Thursday, 11/17/05 00:52:57 EST

Hi again,
I'm trying to set up a shop for everything and want to hear what suggestions you can give me. dimensions, open or closed walls, floor, etc. What do you think is appropriate.
Also, what is your take on gas forges vs Coal? I have read some of their differences and I think a coal forge would be less expensive in the long run. But how much smoke and such does it produce, is it to much for a residential area? I donít want the city on my back about all the smoke I'm producing you know. Or is it just better to go the more expensive wrought and build a gas forge?
   Kevin - Thursday, 11/17/05 01:51:19 EST

Thumper: I've cut a lot of sheet metal, up to #11ga with a good heavy duty sabre saw with a metal cutting blade of the proper tooth pitch. That works pretty wel for cutting shapes. If you want to make straight cuts, an angle grinder with a thin cutting disc on it, guided by a straightedge works well too.
   3dogs - Thursday, 11/17/05 03:26:34 EST

Regarding plasma. I asked around , talked to alot of folks about the same. I bought a Hypertherm Powermax 380. Nice machine! I have had mine about two yrs now and I use it from time to time. Never had any trouble with it. I have bought replacement consumables once on line at a cost of about $45.00 for a set of three........still have one set left, may have to order soon. Do a google search for Hypertherm. plenty of information available from them. I bought mine from the local welding supply for about $50.00 more than I would pay for on line sales BUT I feel it is better to buy from your supplier (helps with the buyer/supplier relationship). Get all the information you can on SAFETY ! Eye protection, how to avoid breathing plasma dust,(nasty stuff) , bad air and so on. Good Machine if you use it with safety in mind.
Just my two cents.
   Harley - Thursday, 11/17/05 04:54:20 EST

HARLEY & GOODHORS: Check out http://www.weldmart.com Good prices on consumables.
   3dogs - Thursday, 11/17/05 08:25:26 EST

Zinc: Erik, I think you are talking about zinc plated or galvanized steel. The zinc has no effect on expansion and contraction of the base steel.

To calculate expansion you must know the temperature range. Steel expands aproximately 7 millionths of an inch per inch per degree of increase of temperature in the normal (human environment) range. Coefficients of expansion are not constant so you use different constants in different ranges . . or use some tricky calculus.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/05 09:01:39 EST

Re: Norm Larson Books: I have now heard from three people who purchased books from Norm without receiving them. In one case someone from AU purchased $300 worth at the KY Conference and they were not shipped. On others, they sent in an order and it was never filled (apparently payment wasn't cashed either). One said Norm didn't respond to numerous e-mails and when they finally got him on the phone he promised to take care of it quickly, but nothing happened. Norm has the printing/publishing rights to at least Ted Tucker's Practical Projects... and the MN group's Iron Menagerie. If anyone learns anything definite on Norm's status, please let me know.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/17/05 09:30:23 EST

Wood Splitter - Johnny a 10 pound splitting maul works well (when one is fit and has the skill to use it.) Or there is a splitting unit, the name excapes me, that uses a guided wedge driven into the top of the piece of wood with a sledge hammer. Great for kids. Much safer as the wedge is restricted (no flying away from a glancing blow.)

There also was a system where (after removing a back wheel) you bolted an over sized conical wood screw onto the back axle of the truck. Set the parking brake (and hopefully chalked the other truck wheels) put it in gear. These used to be advertised in the backs of POPULAR MECHANICS and HARROWSMITH magazines.

Personally I'd go with the maul or wedge.

Windy and near freezing North of the Lake (Ontario.)

   Don Shears - Thursday, 11/17/05 11:10:19 EST

Question: It doesn't seem to me like there would be any way to forge-weld a broken blade together and have it maintain it's strength prior to breaking. Is this correct? Barring of course taking the whole knife apart and redoing the blade from scratch.
   - Ross - Thursday, 11/17/05 11:14:07 EST

I will gladly pay some extra to support a local business if they provide good service. If I go into a store, handle the merchandise ask questions of the salespeople, I feel an obligation to buy from that business even when I know I can do better at Home Depot or online. But there is a limit to my loyalty and on big ticket items that limit is tighter.
   adam - Thursday, 11/17/05 11:16:00 EST


You said you wanted to "set up a shop for everything" and want to know how big to make it. My guess is that it would need t be roughly the size of Rhode Island to hold all the equipment to do everything from woodworking to sheet metal to locksmithing to welding to heavy equipment maintenance to building rockets to industrial machining, to horse racing, et cetera. Try limiting your wants to something that can be encompassed within your available space, for starters.

If you live in a city, all the industrial stuff is out. So are rockets and heavy equipment. You will have to refine the list further.

Oh, and lest you think I am being churlish here, blacksmithing is, or has been, involved with everyone of the previously mentioned areas. Just which area do you want to work in, since you can't do them all?
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/17/05 11:23:26 EST

ASTM and ANSI Specs: You can get titles and information such as Grant and Ries posted but you cannot get the actual specifications without paying. Costs run from $28 to $50 US per spec PLUS the supporting documents. F138-03 references 11 other standards. At the low end you will need to spend $300 to properly read the thing UNLESS those referenced refer to even more (probably do). Of course many of these are refered to by other specs and if you purchase many steel specs the general ones will apply and you won't have to spend $400 for each one. . .

My gripe about the use of these type specs is that many US government specs refer to ASTM and ANSI. The government specs are free (as they should be except printing costs) but when they refer to commercial specs that must be bought you are in a position where you have to spend money to simply read the law (building code, contract spec. . .).

ASTM F138-03: The title indicates a slightly higher manganese content than common SAE 316L making it a proprietary non standard alloy such as a "316L Plux X". However there may be a range that lets it go as low as 2% then the standard alloy may apply.

Note that there are alloys that are compatible with flesh and alloys that flesh and bone bond to. One of the exotic metals is used for this purpose (I forget which one and cannot find it on-line).
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/05 11:29:15 EST


If the blade were long enough that the break was far enough removed from the handle and furniture, I suppose it could be forge wleded back together. The would be some loss of stock length due to the scarf and scale loss, and the weld wouldn't be as stron as virgin steel, but it could be done. Heck, I forge weld pieces onto the end of other pieces that I'm holding in my bare had at times, so it could be the same with a sword, perhaps.

If the broken end were split and the other piece layered in, it could be a pretty darn strong joint, approaching that of the original. Re-heat treating the blade would be the real kicker, though. It could be done, but would take some real tricky work with a rosebud to get the hardening heat without ruining the furniture. Unless the entire blade is heat treated pretty uniformly, you'll have a stress riser area that will always be vulnerable.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/17/05 11:30:17 EST

Vicopper, ya done beat me too it; I was going to say he'd need a pretty big shop to forge battle ship crankshafts, probably go for one with a 100 ton rolling crane at least and not to forget the 10' x 10' room for micro forging miniatures...

Coal is hard on neighbors unless you have a little land around the house or live in the old industrial part of the city. It's also difficult to get the good stuff if you are not in a "gifted" location.

Propane is a workhorse; you can stack your forge full without fear of having too many irons in the fire. You can get a trade in tank at 11 pm on a Sunday night in a small town in central NM.

Propane forges are pretty easy to build and so you can build what you need in nearly real time. (and there is always the "burner and a pile of firebrick" forge for the odd shaped forge need).

My shop in central NM---which has a pretty fierce temperature swing at times---is built from galvanized steel panels screwed into a metal frame. The screws have a rubber washer more for water proofing though. I have seen no evidence of buckling or tearing to it so far and it is a typical construction method.

I would worry only if the material is constrained between things that do not expand at the same rate.

Beverly shears have the virtue of cutting curves in sheetmetal, a B2 or B3 would munch 16 ga faster than you can feed it. That bench shear may be restricted to straight lines, very usefull for many production tasks but in smithing something usually throws us a curve at some point...in medieval armour reproduction the beverly is the king of shears with the HF knock off being a poor cousin---often needing tuning to start with and not as rugged in use.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/17/05 11:58:59 EST

Infinity and Beyond! Kevin, define "shop for everything". Mine is pretty complete but I do not have EDM or Laser. I work wood and metal, do book binding and build musical instruments. Metal work includes forging, welding and some machine work. I have two key machines but one needs attention. My wood working is limited as I do not have a planner but I have a fine band saw. I do small metal casting but not iron or steel. I have a very nice surface grinder but no belt grinders (yet). I don't have tools or space for stone work though I have done some in the past. I have most of the tools of a contractor so that I can do my own small scale construction and repairs but I do not have heavy equipment (even though I could really use it). I ran out of money for building a dark room but digital processing has replaced those custom printing tasks for me. I DO need a scanner to do slides and a MAC to do video. My personal shop has a 5 ton monorail system with two 2 ton hoists but our family shop has a 10 ton gantry crane 28 feet tall that extends over a 5 foot pit and it is not quite big enough. . . Our family shop has an electric ceramic kiln that I have used in the past but I doubt I will use one again. However I MAY have use for a gas fired kiln in the future. I have been collecting hand tools for sheet metal work but sold off my bar fold and circle cutter about 10 years ago (wish I had not). I have a 350 air hammer that needs to be setup and I'd like to have a BigBLU (or two) to go with it. . . I have access to a bridgeport type mill but would like one of my own. To properly sort and store all these tools needs about 6 large roll around tool chests but I only have one (from my mechanic days) plus a couple bench top units.

Oh, yeah, to maintain all these tools you need at least one of everything Sears or Snap-On sells. . . every size wrench, socket, screw driver, torque wrench, hex and Torx(r) key, ratchets, extensions and adaptors as well as an air wrench. Often you need two of the same size wrench so those sets should be doubled. Sizes range from ignition wrentches (1/8 up) to heavy equipment wrenches (up to 3-1/2"). A set of pipe wrenches is handy as well as a magnetic base drill press (you are NOT in business if you don't have a mag base drill).

I have friends with bigger shops. A 5 by 12 weld platten is a wonder thing and power hammers up to about 1,000 pounds sure are nice. My friend Josh has a 7 foot swing boring mill which is just right for little jobs like facing a 5 foot weld platten. He also has heavy equpment like a back hoe. . . WONDERFUL TOOL.

Although it seems we have everything there are tools we still want and bigger spaces to use them in. . . Then there are the times you need to move and find that it will take four 20 foot containers. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/05 12:04:03 EST

re shop size / rule 1) your stuff will expand to fill the available space, rule 2) you will always be offered work that exceeds your capacity (our heavy machining bay has a 100 ton overhead crane, and I quote often get asked to do work on press frames that weigh 130 tons - doh!)
   John N - Thursday, 11/17/05 14:08:52 EST

I have a couple questions about forges. I'm an old fart, 57, who wants to start blacksmithing as a hobby. Over the years I have collected a lot of the essentials, anvils, post vises, hammers etc. I'm building a workshop in North Georgia and will seek out courses at John Campbell school. My questions relate to building the forge in this shop. First question is locating a source of blacksmith shop plans (layout that is convenient) and specifically a source of plans for building a masonry coal forge. I have an excellent mason to do the work but he does not have any specific experience in building a working forge.

Second question, is that I already have what was is a steel free standing forge. It is formed of some sort of sheet steel about 1/2 inch thick. It is generally a rectangle about 5 feet by 2.5 feet. The fire box is on the left to center and on the right is a container area which I have use to store the coal. The duck nest is bolted underneath the firebox. I have worked on it a little and to a novice it seems servicable. It was probably made in the early 1900's. My question is whether it would make sense, instead of building a masonry forge from scratch, to use this as the working surface and have the mason simply build the structure around this. Since I have a good opportunity to do this the right way, I don't want to make mistakes now that I'll have to undo later.

Thank you for any help you can provide.
   Alan E. Rauber - Thursday, 11/17/05 14:36:31 EST

A good book w/lots of shop plans is Practical Blacksmithing vol. 1 and 2
   - Tyler Murch - Thursday, 11/17/05 15:17:23 EST

Masonary Forges: Alan, Big brick forges are beautiful things but a lot can happen to make it not such a beautiful addition to your shop.

1) Coal burning may not be suitable in your neighborhood. Charcoal is an option but is often more inconvienient to obtain than coal.

2) Most modern coal forges are hybrids with cast iron fire pots. These burn out and the replacement may not be the same size or shape as manufacturers are constantly changing today.

3) Even if you follow all the best advice the forge may not draw well and you will have a huge forge that you are unhappy with. A forge is NOT a fireplace and no matter how much experiance you mason has with fireplaces THIS IS DIFFERENT. Plans do not always include the details that make things work.

4) The fire/pot arrangment may not be arranged properly and the again you have a huge mess. You may start with one type air source and change to another. . .

You will also want to know if you are using a bellows, electric blower or hand crank. Working alone or with a helper. Most shops should be laid out with both in mind.

There are forge plans without detailed dimensions in Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing. There are also shop layouts.

The problem with shop layouts is everyone has different equipment, work methods and needs. I built a huge shop around three power hammers I had. By the time I was ready to put in hammers I had sold two and traded one and the focus of the shop had changed. The foundation for the big hammer was the wrong type for the replacement which needed a deep pit. . .

A general forge area has three focuses, the forge, the anvil and the vise. They should be convieniently located so that there is a step or less from one to the other. Many call this your work triangle. However, there MUST be traffic space between them. A friend of mine setup his forge, bolted the anvil to the floor THEN had the hand crank blower but on his forge. . . there was only 10" between the two! The stand was not suitable to not be bolted down so it must be removed and replaced OR bolted down again. . . I prefer to NEVER bolt down anvils for this and many other reasons. Vises however are useless unless they are anchored such that you cannot move them with an 8 foot lever.

A blacksmith shop moves a LOT of steel most of which comes in 20 ft lengths. You need a stock rack leading to a saw or iron worker and space for the cut stock. This takes about 30 - 35 feet. You can ignore this need and cut your stock outdoor or in the middle of the shop but it is an inconvienence.

THEN there is the matter of a power hammer. . . and other machines, a grinding station etc. . .

I would build a masonry chimney with a thimble for 10" pipe about 7 feet off the floor for a coal forge and another beside it for a hood/vent for a gas forge. You will find that a gas forge is very convienient and you will probably have one in your future. Forges come and go, needs change but the flue is pretty standard.

Your best plan would be to visit and work in some other shops. See how they are laid out and what works and what does not. Take notes. THEN plan yours. You may THINK that as a hobby you will not want a lot of machinery but that will change.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/05 15:26:55 EST

To the Guru and Friends:
I am having problems with the fire in my forge, and was looking for some advice and knowledge from someone who knows more than I do. A couple of years ago I participated in two blacksmithing workshops from the Traditional Building Skills Institute at Snow College located in Ephraim, Utah. At the workshops we used bituminous coal as a heat source. We lit the fire, and packed the edges with a coal slurry created by adding water to the coal. I have since seen other smiths use lump coal, but I liked the style and control that the instructor had over his fire. I have since purchased a fire pot and hand-crank blower. They belonged to a smith who passed away several years ago. The blower is free-standing, and the fire pot is a thick walled cast iron. My problem has come in that I can not get a large enough heating zone in the fire. I am wondering if the fire pot that I purchased is not correctly vented for the use of coal, or if the coal that I have is contaminated. The fire pot is a full depth pot and has three rectangular vents in the bottom. The clinker breaker rotates up into the two outside vents. I have only been able to get a heating zone in the fire of about two and a half to three inches wide and at most five inches long. It does not coke enough of the coal that is next to the fire in order to keep a fire of sufficient size. I can not keep the center of the fire level with the top of the fire pot; it is almost always below that level. I purchased the coal from Harmony Forge in Alpine, Utah. It is what they use in their shop, and the workshop instructor worked there at that time. If this is not enough information then let me know, and I will try to provide more details. I would appreciate it if someone could give me some advice. Thank you for your time and help.

Richard Stephenson
   Richard Stephenson - Thursday, 11/17/05 16:31:11 EST

From another Alan, you might want to take a class at J.C. Campbell BEFORE you decide how you want your shop set up. A little experience lets you see things in a whole different light.

"The New Edge of the Anvil" by Jack Andrews has some good philosophy on shop layout, and "The Blacksmith: Ironworker and Farrier" by Aldren A. Watson has nice plans for a huge brick forge. Of course, the firepot design he used is no longer made, enforcing one of the Guru's points above.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 11/17/05 16:48:19 EST

Richard; what type of blower do you have and is is sized to the firepot's needs?

Also you may be "choking" your fire with coke. If you build up "solid" masses of coke down near the bottom of the firepot air can't get through it to burn stuff further out. Have you tried braking up any coke masses deep in the firepot to make it easier for air to get around?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/17/05 17:28:22 EST

Forge problems: Typicaly Western coal is pretty bad though there is some good coal coming out of Utah. Different coal works better in some forges than others. As Thomas noted you can have too much coke and this takes even more air to keep going.

The type firepot you have works well. I sold one to a friend and he is tickled pink with it. The dissadvantages are that it does not work well with coal that produces a lot of clinker and you cannot adjust the shape of the fire with it. Check the ash dump to be sure it is sealing snuggly as a LOT of air can be lost through this joint.

Hand crank blowers came in many sizes. Only the largest with a good 3" discharge are sized for this forge. The hand crank blowers are also always in various states of wear and a worn out noisy blower will be difficult to push. You may be working hard and getting little air.

I suspect the quality of your coal is the primary problem. You may want to purchase a bag of first class coal from one of our advertisers and try it out. This will give you a reference point to judge other coals by.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/05 17:47:35 EST

I use a cheap variable-speed benchtop bandsaw with a metal blade on sheet metal. Cuts pretty well. It's really a wood saw, so I'm sure it won't last forever, but it's holding up well so far for occasional use.
   Mike B - Thursday, 11/17/05 18:21:21 EST

To the Guru and Friends,

In reference to my prior message and your replies. The blower that I have has a 3 inch exhaust port. When I purchase it, my brother and I tour it down so that we could clean it up. It is in excellent shape. I can get enough air movement from it to blow the coke and coal out of the mire pot. I have not had any pieces of coke or clinkers big enough at all to block the air movement. It sounds like I need to try some different coal. Would you recommend one supplier over another? Thanks to all for your input and help.

Richard Stephenson
   Richard Stephenson - Thursday, 11/17/05 19:56:38 EST

I am having trouble tempering some repousse' tools that I am working on. I heated them to a dark cherry and then quenched. Then after grinding a bit they came to a color of approx straw and I quenched again. I tried to use them and they crummbled. What shall I do to become successful?
   Kent Knapp - Thursday, 11/17/05 20:46:01 EST

ALAN RAUBER: Think long and hard before you build a masonry forge. What you put all that effort into may not suit you later and they are "the devil" to move. I built one that I like, but I would never do it again.

Let me issue you an invitation to visit the 3rd Saturday meetings of ABBA(Alex Bealer Blacksmith Assn.). You would be most welcome. Saturdays meeting is is in north Atlanta at Andrew Crawford's shop. Look up that name in the Atlanta phone book. OR go to www.Alexbealer.com and get the information there. We meet mainly at members shops and you can see a lot of good shops before you expend the effort.

As for using what you have, you should try it as it is without building around it first. Not all forge pots are equal. Yours may be really good or not so good.

Hope to see you at one of our meetings.
   - J.MYERS - Thursday, 11/17/05 21:31:25 EST

Kent Knapp,

What kind of steel are you using for the punches? Without knowing that, it is impossible for us to give you any certain advice except that everybody sees color differently and the level of ambient light affects how the radiant color appears. Some steels have extremely critical and narrow requirements for hardening and tempering. If you exceed the parameters you'll come to grief. Generally, a straw oxide color is reserved for really hard cutting edges of chisels, not for struck tools, which should be drawn to a bit tougher range, say blue for example. Again, it is impossible to say for sure without knowing exactly what alloy of steel you are working with.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/17/05 21:40:37 EST

Kent Knapp, More. . . Alloy and tool steels if overheated while working (such as forging) can be ruined and will crumble as you described.

A low red may have been too hot or too cold for hardening. The non-magnetic point is correct for medium carbon steels. A little above for lower carbon steels and and a little lower for high carbon steels. Using the color of the non-magnetic point in a given lighting situation will train you for the correct color.

If you got to a straw color while grinding then parts were heated well beyond that temper color. Tools are forged, then heat treated including tempering, then ground. While grinding you never want to exceed the temper temperature or you will soften the steel. Except on air quench and hot work steels if you see temper colors on a tool while grinding you have probably over heated it.

Practice hardening and tempering the steel you are using without making tools from it or by makeing the most simple shapes you can. Then test them under stress. Once you can work the steel THEN put the effort into making the tool you want.

If you are unsuccessful then you might want to try one of Frank Turley's tool making classes. See turleyforge.com for a schedule.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/05 23:17:32 EST

Size of shop : Build as large as You can afford, figure on expanding as needed up to whatever will fit on the property. Go for a high celing, avoid posts in the middle and any other thing that is an unmovable obstruction. If You are a scrounger/colector/packrat by nature You will be surprised how quickly a shop gets so full that there isn't enough space to work. With 2,000 SqFt of shopfloor space plus partial loft,partial basement and outbuildings I don't have the space to setup 3 generations of acumulated tools and machinery and store scrounged materials and the stuff that goes with a country place.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/18/05 00:35:11 EST

Further info on the mystery tool steel I found earlier:
1) I couldn't tell if the outer surface of the round was ground or not
2)There was an m4p stamped on the end
3)It definately seems to be some sort of hot work steel, and air hardening. After forging to a cone, to be used as a punch/drift, I let it normalize, then proceeded to work with it. The tip did not deform at all, despite punching 3 holes in 1" mild. Keep in mind this was done after only normalizing, with no water or oil quench. Granted, I didn't stick it in vermiculite(anneal), but neither did I rest in on a heat sink. I sat it on top of some chicken wire and left it overnight.

4) The end I struck with the hammer while punching flaked off a couple large chunks of medium grained shards. I didn't dome the end at all before using, but left it flat. Subsequent grinding with my 8" milwaukee angle grinder was very tough going. It seemed harder than the S-7 that I've been working with.
5) It's really tough to forge, even at a high-orange to yellow.
   - Tom T - Friday, 11/18/05 01:01:11 EST

Size of Shop,
Dont fret over the size and filling up the shop.
Its a curse upon the innovative and talented folks to be packrats, With the ability to recognise the value and potential to recycle the odds and sods that accumulate in our workshops. Maybe a devine blessing to have this talent.
A privlige of sorts.
BTW. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, is the "Correct" way to be nowdays.
   - Sven - Friday, 11/18/05 01:40:36 EST

Re: eBay #6013964164. Auction is for an introduction to blacksmithing course. Somewhat creative marketing at its best.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/18/05 02:28:20 EST

Tom T: M4 is a hot work tool steel [HSS], You may well have a chunk of it.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/18/05 02:39:05 EST

Pretty basket twist ebay 4419177440
   - Tom H. - Friday, 11/18/05 05:23:53 EST

That is a very nice 8 bar basket twist. As to age is it impossible to tell. Many smiths do work this well today. However, I suspect it IS antique as there is no money in making something like this to put on ebay with no reserve.
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/05 07:50:25 EST

Normalizing and Air Quench: One of the most important things about these processes is to not cool from high above the transition point. This results in large crystals and brittle steel. Let cool, reheat UP to the nonmagnetic point then let air cool. Stopping a rising heat at the transition point produces the finest crystal structure and strongest steel. Note that even air quench steels also need to be tempered and that the temper temperature is fairly high.
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/05 08:37:41 EST

floor cone. a while ago I found a small steel cone - 8" dia and about 21" tall. wall is 3/8" I had assumed it was CI but close inspection reveals its mild steel. So now I am wondering about welding some ribs on the interior to strengthen it. Also I have a nice 10" pipe flange that would make an ideal stand but its CI (really!) and I am not sure the best way to mount the cone on it.
   adam - Friday, 11/18/05 09:43:06 EST

This & that:

The Henrob Torch is now sold by McGill Distribution, P.O Box 1057, Simpsonville, SC 29681-1057, www.portableweldingtorch.com. Dale McGill was the guy demonstrating it at the last Quad-State. I predominately use mine for cutting and can cut up to 1" thick stock when it is set correctly (5 lb ACE/20 lb OXY). I have not welded with it, although he certainly makes it look easy. On the card he gave me they also list "Diamond Finish" - Polish and Paint Protection System. No idea what it is, but might be something for those who finish their work to check into. If you inquire, be sure to mention anvilfire.com and suggest he might want to advertise there.

My shop building is the wood post and 2x4 braced structure with metal siding. I get my steel stock either in 12' lengths or have the supplier cut them to 10' (20' in half). For a stock rack I put upright 2x4s between two wall sections and drilled holes at a slight angle to accept short lengths of 3/8" rebar spaced about 6" apart. It keeps the stock out of the way and it is easy to tell what I need to restock.

On the value of putting out the word you are looking for something... A friend sent me an e-mail there was a listing for a powerhammer in the San Antonio paper. By the time I called it was gone. 50 LB LG which had been in storage for some years. Seller said it was in EC. Sold it to the first caller for $700. Ahhhhhhhh.

On Ross's broken blade, I'm wondering if arc welding with stainless steel rod might now be an option, doing it just a tad at a time to try not to affect blade tempering. When ground off to match the blade, may be hard to tell it had been patched.

On firepots, the SOF&A firepots can be obtained from www.creativeironforge.com. I have only seen one burned out. It happened at a Quad-State and I was told the pot had been dropped on concrete and had a crack in the pot to start with. Happened during the competition where the pots are kept so hot they sometimes glow. These pots are built to be heavy-duty with walls about 5/8" thick. They have three styles. Have become a bit pricy, but they likely will never have to be replaced.

Does anyone know who was the coal supplier (white truck as I recall) at the last Quad-State. Worth a call to see if they are willing to come to the Anvilfire Hammer-in here next April. Since there seems to be a demand locally, might work a deal to where I buy whatever they don't sell directly.

Checked out at Dollar General the other day (I'm a high class shopper as you can tell). That had a stack of decorative tins roughly the size of a 5-gallon bucket. Occured to me they might make nice propane forge bodies. Not tapered so putting in ceramic wool would be fairly easy. Thin, so easy to drill through for the tubes. On this, I have started to cut 1" x 6" black iron nipples in half. I then file out the weld seam inside (for 3/4" nipples) and put on a conduit nut. This gets screwed into a 1" drilled (step drill) opening and another conduit nut put on the inside. Fairly quick and very secure. No back opening, but front would be easy to secure with screws.

On the propane forges I make out of 10" culvert sections, I think I may have finally found my solution to putting in the receiver tubes to come in from high on one side with limited oxy/ace cutting out. Use a 1" hole drill to not quite come through. Then come down to where the new center hole is at the bottom of the previous outside cut. This should give me a roughly oval hole when completed.

If there were interest, I could make one of my small forges from start to finish as a demonstration during the Anvilfire Hammer-in.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/18/05 10:24:42 EST

Cone: Adam, Generaly cones do not see a lot of heavy work thus adding ribs would just warp it out of round. The pipe flange may be ductile iron and thus weldable. A cone base does not need to be round and a nice heavy square plate would do. OR. . . if it was to be used on a large anvil or platten you could weld on a shank to fit. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/05 11:22:41 EST

Tins for forges: Ken, you want to stick to something heavier (at least 16ga). Condensation in forge linings cause a lot of rust and the housings often rust out before the lining burns out. . . Thus your galvanized pipe is not a bad idea. Lightweight kaowool forges are good but you CAN be too light.
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/05 11:26:55 EST

Ken, that link for the firepots gave me a screen full of spam and popups that would likely overwhelm the unprotected. It's not a valid link anymore, in other words.
   Alan-L - Friday, 11/18/05 12:08:13 EST

Ken Scharabok: There was a man selling coal out of an 18 wheeler up there by the old rest room/showers across from the race track grandstands. That was Mr. Denniss, from Wauseon, Ohio. He as been there before and is listed in the "Coal Scuttle" on the drop down menu. Good farm people, family-run business, good Sewell Seam coal. The kind of guy we want to see stay in the business.
   3dogs - Friday, 11/18/05 12:37:16 EST

I'm relatively new to actual blacksmithing but the idea of blacksmithing is very prominent in my mind. I am only 17 but I plan on making blacksmithing a hobby of mine after college. I was just hoping if I could get some hints or such on how to really get started or to even broaden my knowledge of blacksmithing before I actually begin to perform it. I (like your website states) am facinated in swords and such like that but merely for decoration and only for the satifaction of creating something that has the possibility of being beautiful with my own hands. But I was just wondering what I should do now, and how I should go about completing it.
   Josh - Friday, 11/18/05 12:41:53 EST

Adam-- Best way to anchor the mandrel to the CI pedestal is an arrangement whereby it can be bolted on. Welding or brazing steel to cast iron cannot make a tool that will dependably withstand lateral stresses from direct blows.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/18/05 13:33:49 EST


a. Read the anvilfire "Getting Started" FAQ you can find the link on the homepage. Read as much as you can. Ask questions about what you read (here if you like)

b. go to www.abana.org and find your local affiliate. your local blackmsith group will be a great help to you.

c. start working on finding an anvil and a place to setup.

d. try to get your family's support for all this :)

Good luck
   adam - Friday, 11/18/05 13:35:33 EST


See our Getting Started link. Both it and our Swords FAQ have lists of books to start with. Depending on your mechanical skills you may want to start with any of the blacksmithing books.

If you need to start at the begining you may want "Metalwork Technology and Practice" (see our Swords resources list). It covers basic metal working hand tools, layout and different metalworking techniques. It is a text book used in many technical schools.

This is a good place to start and as you get into it we will be here to answer questions.
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/05 13:39:29 EST

Cone: Thanks Miles. I will just use something else. 21" is a bit tall for an anvil cone, doncha think?
   adam - Friday, 11/18/05 13:59:54 EST

Josh - I'll show a bit of bias which Quenchcrack & Patrick Nowak will probably agree with - if the college you choose has the option, take an introduction to materials course, or even worse - follow the dark side and become a metallurgist :) Also, look for an ABA chapter near you and become a member - you'll get lots of info if you tell which state you live in and what part. For example, I'm close to Pittsburgh, PA and am a member of PAABA - Pittsburgh area atists blacksmith's association. Take some summer classes at one of the schools offering blacksmith classes - Touchstone in south western PA, Brasstown in North Carolina, Frank Turley's offerings, too many more to categorize. Go to weekend events such as Quad State where teaching demonstrations are given - also a good place to get tools. Do it - don't wait till things are perfect to start.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 11/18/05 14:49:35 EST

Josh, if you are still in high school, see if there are any shop classes ofered. I took welding and metal shop classes all through high school, and those skills have always come in handy, even when I didn't need them for an actual job.
   FredlyFX - Friday, 11/18/05 15:04:58 EST

For schools that no longer have shop (the new majority) if they still have drafting courses it helps to be able to read drawings and understand dimensioning, angles, surface finish marks. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/05 15:27:05 EST

Alan-L: Hummmm, that odd. Both of the links on the firepot brochure (the other being www.sofablacksmiths.com) bump to a myyellowpages site. You can request a brochure though via snail mail: Bob Cruikshank, 1495 W. Possom Rd., Springfield, OH 45506 - 937-323-1300.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/18/05 17:25:48 EST

3dogs: Thank you for name. I am trying to contact him. I suspect the group down in Chattanooga might be interested in doing a club purchase from him of what he might have left also.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/18/05 17:33:36 EST

Bad URL's. That is the problem with small organizations. Nobody in charge, and when the URL registration needs to be paid . . a name merchant, link farm or porno site gets it. . . OR the individual that set it up is no longer around and the password to maintain it is lost. This has happened to numerous ABANA affiliates.

the current SOFA URL is SOFAsounds.com

One of the services I suggested CSI provide was URL registration holding for blacksmith groups. A web based organization will be sure to take care of these bills and catch up with whoever is the new person in charge of the organization. . . I already maintain a number of organization and individual's URL's. A few more is not a problem.
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/05 18:32:35 EST

Adam-- Sorry-- I thought the cone was to go atop the CI pedestal. I have one floor mandrel 4 feet high, a middle-sized one about 18 inches with a stub that fits the hardie hole, and a teency-weency job maybe 4 inches. One or the other of them is always jusssst right for the job. At least that's what Goldilocks tells me whenever she drops in and has to do some hammering and/or bending whilst (love them Brit words, love 'em!)smiting. Twenty-one inches would be okay IF you could give it a solid unyielding base against which to beat or bend the bejesus out of the iron you are working.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/18/05 19:32:26 EST

As Sven notes, the ability to see the vast potential in other peoples' discarded scrap is a curse-- or "Maybe a devine blessing to have this talent." HOWEVER: if you find that you suffer from this affliction/are blessed with this gift, and tend in this accumulative direction, herewith some advice. Stash your pile, from the outset, well away from the house and out of sight of management. Even just thinking about my scrap pile over there in the weeds across the driveway and behind my shops, brings the Managing Director here to tears and rage after nearly 30 years of looking at it-- and occasionally unabashedly asking to use some of it for her dollhouses. Do yourself, and your marriage, a huge favor and take your show elsewhere.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/18/05 22:47:21 EST

Miles ; You are right about what is out of sight being out of mind. I am back at Mom's house, where My shop has always been, due to My health situation. Where She wouldn't push My Dad about some things, since He has passed on She is wanting Me to clean things up a bit. I cant argue the point, the stuff She is complaining about is to go to the scrap yard, but chemotherapy is seriously limiting My energy right now. The worst of the stuff isn't where She sees it, and doesn't seem to bother Her.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/18/05 23:49:43 EST

I am looking for a source of Dixon stakes and have not been able to find something on the internet. Any ideas? thank you
   Terry Braun - Saturday, 11/19/05 00:37:10 EST

Terry Braun: If they are fairly standard tinsmith-type stakes, they often appear on eBay. Go to the category for Collectibes/Tools, Hardware & Locks/Tools/Blacksmithing and do a key word search on stake. Alternative is to ask for a results per page count of 200 and then just whiz down the listings looking at the thumbnail photo.
My philosophy on junk piles is if I need something, I usually know where to go and find it, such as my neighbor's place or a scrapyard. I let someone else do the storage.
Guru: I don't think a tin canister rusting out would be much of a problem. They are readily available and it would take me probably a half-hour to replace the container. I have a friend who keeps hinting strongly about my building him an el-cheapo one for his workshop. Occasionally needs to heat up something. He has one of Hans Peot's pipe forges, which is really overkill for his purposes. One of those decorative tin can jobbies should guite suit his purpose. His problem is his wife collects tins and he has to find a way to wiggle one out of her.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/19/05 07:30:58 EST

Ken; I have a forge at work that I made from a steel 5 gallon bucket lined with 2 0ne inch layers of ceramic blanket. I welded in a 3" pipe coupling that was big enough to accept the nozzle of a Harbor Freight weed burner. You can put your hand on the bucket when it's in use. The buckets are ugly enough that the wimmen won't collect 'em. (Give them the free green plastic pickle buckets from Subway.)
   3dogs - Saturday, 11/19/05 09:10:29 EST

Anyone heard of a Fenton anvil? I'm pretty sure it doesn't say Trenton. It's marked in true weight at 116# and says solid wrought on the side. Two handling holes, one under the horn and one under the heel. It is sitting out in the weather and is pretty rusted. I'll try to get a rubbing of the sides next week to see if what I think says Fenton is actually so.
   Gronk - Saturday, 11/19/05 10:31:08 EST

Does it say wrought or wrot?
   - Tyler Murch - Saturday, 11/19/05 10:33:13 EST

Dixon Stakes: The William Dixon Company has been out of business since 1964.

"In 1964, Grobet purchased the William Dixon Company, which was established in 1868. The William Dixon company was located in Newark New Jersey and supplied tools to the jewelry, dental and optical industries."

This is a little short of what they supplied. They sold anvils and forges, precision measuring tools, small foundry supplies and every type of file imaginable. In their jeweler's line they had wire drawing benches and rolling mills. They sold silversmiths and engravers tools. Although they specialized in the small and high quality jewelers type tools many of their tools were to be found in machine shops, enginerring offices, laboratories, artists studios and blacksmith shops.

Dixon did not manufacture the tools they sold but they did have them branded under their name except when the name was so famous that it sold better on its own. Tools labeled DIXON will be found as illustrations in many text books and manuals. Their old hard bound catalogs are a treasure of information about tools.

Go to:


Look under Industrial, Anvils & Stakes

For heavier stakes try Centaur Forge or Pieh Tool Company. Both are avertisers here and listed on our drop down menu.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/19/05 10:55:03 EST

What is the best way to mount a vertical compressor outside your shop so that the noise will be reduced. My shop isn't insulated, so could I build a small shed attached to the shop with insulated walls to reduce the noise of the compressor? Is there a problem with this set up? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

   MIKE HILL - Saturday, 11/19/05 12:51:05 EST

Gronk: Anvils in American by Richard Postman (and available thorugh the forum's store) does not list a Fenton. It sound like you have a Trenton. Look on the bottom. Very early Trentons had a fat-waisted, hour-glass depression. Later ones an oval depression. Look on the front foot to see if you can make out any numbers. Serial number should be to the right. Some of the flat diamond around the logo may still be visable. You might try wire brushing, then wash off and dry. Dust with flour and brush off excess. Sometimes flour remaining in depressions make letters and numbers really stand out.

This is not to say it might not say Fenton. Postman told me many of the foundries in the U.S. tried their hands at anvils at one time or another - as did British forges. He had documented some 130 British anvil manufacturers now and I believe at one time there were about 6,000 foundries in the U.S.

You could also have an anvil made by a known manufacturer with a client's name stamped on it.

If it does indeed say Fenton, I would like to work with you to document it for Postman.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/19/05 14:19:21 EST

Guru - thank you for your help, it is greatly appreciated.
   Terry Braun - Saturday, 11/19/05 14:21:33 EST

KEN; The Trenton description you gave Gronk (wide hourglass, number placement, trademark) pretty well fits mine. Is there anything oddball about the serial number I gave you?
   3dogs - Saturday, 11/19/05 15:10:31 EST

Compressor house,
An outside shed for it is fine. Assuming it must be placed close to the shop building, And for technical reason its usually best to be nearest as feasable to the air consumers and electric supply. Fit with larger than nessessary air pipes and electric conductors to maximise effieiency. Consider a separate building that does not directly contact to the shop building and insulate the shed with soft insulation, and dont sheet the inside walls with paneling, sheetrock, etc. Or at most sheet with a pegboard masonite or similar. Sheet foam insulation is nice and all, But it transmits noise alot more than fiberglass or rockwool.

Belive it or not, My neighbor uses a portable toilet behind his shop to house a compressor. He did not bother to insulate, But noise is not bad as his shop is well insulated and situated where there are no neighbors to upset.
   - Sven - Saturday, 11/19/05 15:23:48 EST

Out Door Compressor: Mike, The only problem is water traps and water dumps. You don't want the water to freeze so you may need to heat the shed OR use heat tapes on the drain line and solenoid valve if it has an automatic system.

Fibreglass insulation does not make very good sound insulation but it is a start. If you compress it to about half its rated thickness it dampens sound better. The cheapest sound abatement tiles are ceiling tiles. I would cover the walls with these (over the insulation). Lead sheet is a good sound killer but you do not want to deal with lead. There is lead filled plastic sheeting for this purpose but it is kind of high tech. Wall hanging type things also dampen noise but tend to be flamable. Theater curtains are good for this as they are fibreglass fabric.

Sound and vibration is transmitted via the ground and through solid contact. If you put the compressor on a concrete pad you want to insulate that pad from your building pad (assuming you have one). Dense foam rubber or multiple layers of roofing felt (or a mixture of the two) should be placed against the building pad and foundation when you pour the compressor pad. Setting the compressor on rubber pads (machinery feet) further reduces the sound transmision.

Your compressor will create some heat and needs adequate ventilation. Do not completely seal the shed. Put in at least two vents that let in fresh air and hot air out. Those at the top should be able to be closed for cold weather. Baffels will help reduce the escape of sound.

Shed walls should not be heavily anchored to the building walls. Use zig zag sheet metal anchors or spring boards in plywood.

I've thought about this little project quite a bit. I have a hand me down 3PH converter that rattles and roars at 60hz and will drive you nuts. My plan was to put IT and an air compressor in the same shed (for company).
   - guru - Saturday, 11/19/05 15:40:18 EST

Thanks Sven, I'd thought about attaching it to the building, but making it detached would be much better for stopping the noise. Good ideas, thanks.
   - MIKE HILL - Saturday, 11/19/05 15:42:44 EST

Thanks guru, bigger project than I thought. The whole water thing hadn't occured to me. Grrr... Thanks again.
   - MIKE HILL - Saturday, 11/19/05 15:46:44 EST

Little Giant Tools: These used to be a very popular brand of taps, dies ans screw plates. They also sold taping and threading machines. But I cannot find shears in that line or name.

Note that "Little Giant" may be the model, not the brand. Consider the Beaudry "Champion" model power hammer which not to be confused with a Champion power hammer. . . .

Today Little Giant is a line of pumps.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/19/05 16:04:41 EST

Sound proof Closet: In your little insulated shed it would not take much of a heat source to keep things cozy.

If you are careful you can put the shed against your building without hard connections.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/19/05 16:14:17 EST


Masonry Forges - When you get the John Campbell School, make a point to see the Artist in Residence and ask to see his beautiful masonry chimney in his blacksmith shop there at the school. It makes me jealous every time I think of it. Take you camera.

Also, ABANA sells a Coal Forge Handbook compiled by Stephen McGehee - 40 pages of various coal forge designs including masonry forges. It's available from the ABANA Store www.abana.org and click on the "ABANA Store" link.

Good Luck
   - sriver - Saturday, 11/19/05 16:23:12 EST

The post above regarding the masonry forge should have been addressed to Alan.
   - sriver - Saturday, 11/19/05 16:35:59 EST

Do you think a couple 100 watt bulbs would be enough to keep a small compressor shed warm? I use a 100 watt bulb in an old refrigerator to keep my paints from freezing. Works great if you can remember to change the bulbs.
   MIKE HILL - Saturday, 11/19/05 17:17:18 EST

ASTM Specs: This is posted long after the fact but the ASTM specs are revised every couple of years. Not all of the specs get revisions but the books containing all related specifications get republished. So! If your library system has the ASTM specs, they may want to keep them up to date. This means they may have old ones for sale REALLY cheap! Not too many folks want to buy them so they might have some left over from the "Support your local Library by buying old books that nobody wants" Sale. The changes from year to year are usually pretty modest and would not affect a hobbyist. Now, if you are in a business that must provide material to the ASTM specs, you better buy the current editions and read them.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/19/05 17:34:00 EST

Mike, It would depend on how well the compressor closet was insulated. When the compressor is running it is going to heat the thing up pretty well. A small space heater with thermostat might use less electricity than a couple bulbs running all the time. .

If you make a floor or concrete pad that has 2" foam insulation burried to the frost line it will keep the pad from sucking heat out of the shed. Line the forms with insulation capped with a 1/2" board. After removing the forms either flash with sheet metal or parge the insulation with cement so that it is not exposed to sunlight and the elements. Details details. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/19/05 17:41:29 EST

3dogs: I now don't know. On page 361 of Anvils in America Postman has a table of serial numbers to year of manufacturer for Trenton. None of them start with an A. However, in a photograph of a ACME anvil on page 355 he dates to 1910 it shows what looks like A3853? Yet, on page 359 he shows the bottom on one he dates to 1910 also and it appears to be 96445 - which matches the table.

On page 303 is a table for Hay-Budden and it does show they started using A in front in 1918.

Will have to ask about the difference next time I speak with him. Perhaps someone on the forum knows the answer also. Guru?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/19/05 18:29:18 EST

what a coincidence. I just built my insulated closet for my compressor and refer air dryer today. Measures 4'x6'x8'. 2x6 stud walls, 2x12 shed roof, cdx plywood exterior, steel exterior door, fiberglass insulation, frp interior, cement pad and flooor drain connected to a field tile for water drainage. I should be able to keep it warm enough with a 150w bulb. Insulated ductwork for air intake. I figure in the warm months I'll leave the door open.
   brian robertson - Saturday, 11/19/05 22:49:13 EST

Fenton anvil is actually a cast steel Fulton anvil made in the US. they are a very nice anvil. Very much like a Columbian. A pleasure to use.
   - burntforge - Saturday, 11/19/05 23:10:23 EST

Heating the compressor shed:

So, guinea pigs have a body temperature of about 102ļF. A dozen or so of the little beggars in with your compressor should keep it nice and warm. Heck, get 'em a little squirrel cage to run in and they can even circulate that warm air. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/19/05 23:48:59 EST

100 Watts would be pretty warm, I think. I remember using 40W in my paint fridge, and that was too warm, even up here in NH. The little 15 or 20W appliance bulbs worked perfect. Insulation is the key, though.

The comment that compressors make there own heat is interesting. But would there be a problem with the cold while the compressor is off? I'm considering getting a compressor for the shop, and I would much rather it be outside.

   - Marc - Sunday, 11/20/05 00:14:02 EST


The audiofile people say that mass is the best sound insulation. The purist who want to keep sound in (or out) use double-thickness wallboard. Those *really* serious use concrete blocks.
   - Marc - Sunday, 11/20/05 00:25:21 EST

Compressor shed & heat : Keep in mind that You don't really need to heat the machinery & air, Just the drain line & valve. I think I would go with the heat tape & insulation as they have a thermostat so only run when needed and the heat is where You ned it, not 3" down from the ceeling. If noise controll is the purpose, put baffled vents in the building and kep the door closed. 1 vent high and the other low for convection. Don't try to heat the air, it will only go out the vent. Allso I would use multi viscosity oil in the compressor.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 11/20/05 00:31:51 EST

Fenton/Fulton anvil: No hourglass depression on the bottom. Definitely an "N" in the middle of the name. London pattern. Had a decent ring if you count my tone perception after hearing a rock bounce off it as being conclusive. Hey, it's all I had on hand. I may have to drive over there tomorrow with pencil, paper, measuring tape, etc... just to put this to bed. It's driving me nuts now. Just what I need... another quest! I'll keep you posted. Thanks guys.
   Gronk - Sunday, 11/20/05 02:09:12 EST

I haven't seen anything posted about tracer wires on the pipes as an ice preventative. We have them on the air lines up at the steel mill in the areas of the buildings where the wind can blow through during the winter.
   3dogs - Sunday, 11/20/05 02:41:09 EST

Compressor shed & heat: Used to work next to a auto body shop, never heard their compressor (it was inside) but could hear a nasty low frequency throbbing from the air intake when the conditions were just right, ie: summer evening with all the windows open, wind in just the right direction. This is something that could annoy your neighbors in a residential area.
   - Hudson - Sunday, 11/20/05 02:49:09 EST

Gronk: Now there was a FULTON anvil. The name was cast standing out from the side in rather large letters. According to Postman in Anvils in America, "These anvils were mae for Sears Roebuck and Company in the 1920s. Producer unknown." From the photo on page 225, basically a standard London-pattern anvil and it appears they tried to make it look like it had a separate top plate. However, it wouldn't have the N in the middle you referred to.

Trentons name was sized to fit within the flattened diamond. Starts smaller, rising to the middle, then slops down again. N would have been the largest letter and in some logos looks more like an X than an N (i.e., TREXTON).

You said no hourglass depression, but not whether or not it has a flat bottom.

In my experience a 'ring' just helps to eliminate those with cast iron bodies. One with a cast steel base and wrought iron top may have a different ring than one where both are wrought iron. The same forge welded together may be different than if they were arc welded together. Cast steel should have a different ring than a wrought iron body.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/20/05 04:14:32 EST

For those of you with a 25 LB Little Giant, see eBay auction #7564840456. I suspect the main components are beyond economical repair, but looks like a bunch of still usable parts. Located in WA State.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/20/05 04:47:55 EST

Addendem to above: It is apparently a 25 LB Mayer Brothers. He has it listed as both. On further review, repairs may not be as damaging as I took them to be.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/20/05 09:20:58 EST

Pipe wrap wires-- we have used them for years on a couple of pipes running through an unheated greenhouse. Got some more to keep the eaves thawed, but then shelved those after I computed how much juice they would consume.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 11/20/05 10:07:04 EST

Compressor shed.
I would go with the heat tracing of the lines. I would also go with either a multi-vis oil or a low temp oil in the winter. At the 50 acre compound we heat traced and insulated the exposed lines as they would freeze up if the dryers were not working. I would definetly put in vents low and high. I would be tempted to use the automatic foundation vents made to go into block foundations. They are designed to open at 70F. I would put them in backwards, so that they sense the inside temp.

On intake noise, Hudsen, I know what you mean. That old 50 acre shop had a 1700 Hp steam driven recip air compressor. The intake was piped to the outside wall of the powerhouse. Had about a 6' x 8' opening, and it had a honking beat that was heard just about over the whole place. as the compressor ran at 50 rpm, so did the beat, and we joked that it was the heatbeat of the place. As long as it was running we had jobs. It seized, and was declared "not worth the effort" about a year befre the sale:(
   ptree - Sunday, 11/20/05 10:08:59 EST

Vicopper, Scale it up! you need about 300 Guinea pigs on the wheel and then you can run the compressor off the pigs!
   ptree - Sunday, 11/20/05 10:10:28 EST

Heating the Compressor Shed:

Please note that I mentioned freezing an automatic drain system. All others would be OK. Ice in the tank is rarely deep enough to hurt and cannot circulate. . .

The problem is more likely going to be overheating in a small shed. This can seriously damage equipment or cause repeated circuit breaker trips. Brian's setup with the compressor, compressor motor and drier all making heat will get REAL hot in no time. He may need a thermostatic vent fan in warm weather. You can also leave the door open but this will defeat the purpose of the soundproofing.

The only time frezing would be a problem is in very cold weather during a period of dissuse. If the automatic water dump is on a timer or operates every time the compressor shuts off there should not be any water to freeze.

As Dave and 3dogs noted heat tapes would be the most efficient method of preventing freezing of a short length of pipe. Short ones less than 5 feet will probably use less power than a 100W bulb and have a thermostat to boot. I run them linerarly along the wire then wrap the pipe and heat tape with aluminium foil to trap some heat and conduct it around the pipe as well. I use them on plastic pipes this way. You only need to wrap them around the pipe according to the directions when in artic or near artic conditions. I never needed more than a straight run in temperatures down to -20°F.

More mass is good sound proofing in some cases but not others. If the mass is isolated from the structure you are in it is best. An air compressor will conduct noise through its feet and through concrete pads and block walls. Wall mounted equipment (like our old phase converter) would transmit noticable vibration throughout a large building through the concrete block walls.

If vibration is a serious problem then vibrating machinery should be mounted on an isloation block with cushions. This often reduces a lot of the noise transmittle through solid objects.

Although I prefer a quiet shop (no radios or music), I like to hear my machinery running. Your ears can detect bearings going bad, air or gas leaks (sometimes), cutting tools that are dull or in a bind, stalled motors and many other things that are not right.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/20/05 10:34:20 EST

Sound and vibration:

I have a hot tub installed on my deck. When the pump runs, either low-speed for filtering or full on, the vibration resonated throughout the entire deck and sunroom (also on the deck). Very annoying. I bought some dampening pads from Mcmaster and placed the pump on those. That reduced the vibration to barely audible.

Thanks, Jock, for mentioning that. I'll keep that in mind for when I get the compressor.

   - Marc - Sunday, 11/20/05 11:37:19 EST

Don't forget the use of denatured alcohol in cold weather. It's a pain at times but will give you an extra guard aginst the dreaded tank freeze.
   - jimmy - Sunday, 11/20/05 11:37:59 EST

I am a beginning blacksmith. Where can I find data on rasp and file applications? I can find data on each file's & rasp's description but not on which file or rasp is best for which use. Terms such as "American pattern", "platters", "tooth shape" and so on don't explain what they are best used for. Is there a web site that has such information.

   Byron - Sunday, 11/20/05 11:52:39 EST

Byron: From your question it appears you are essentially asking a farrier question. As such you might want to go to the site of Anvil Magazine instead at www.anvilmag.com.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/20/05 13:00:02 EST

Byron, File terminology can be involved and a little goofy. For example, a mill file was used to sharpen mill saws, so it received that name. There are single cuts, double cuts, up cuts, and over cuts. A good primer on files is in the book "Metalwork Technology and Practice" by Repp & McCarthy.

If you're interested in farriery, I think most shoers use a 14" tanged rasp. It has a rasp cut on one side and a double cut on the other side for use as a file. I haven't shod horses in a long while, but I used to buy the Nicholson "double extra thin" or the Simonds Red Tang farriers' rasps. If you can get 30 horses out of a rasp, you're doing well. A hot shoer will recycle. When you're through with the new, hoof dressing rasp, it then becomes a finishing tool for dressing off the clinches with the file side. After a while, it becomes a hot rasp.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/20/05 13:45:16 EST

"Fenton" anvil moved to the V. Hammer-in.
   Gronk - Sunday, 11/20/05 14:30:48 EST

RE: Files: So if a mill file is used to sharpen mill saws, what is a bastard file used to sharpen?
   JLW - Sunday, 11/20/05 18:22:56 EST

I jsut got a Lancaster forge and blower model 400 blower. 30wt oil runs out almost as fast as it is poured in, 90 lingers a little longer but makes the handle a lot stiffer to turn. How hard is is to tighten up the bearing and hole that the fan shaft goes through. I havent taken it apart yet (Surprise, I have had it for over 24 hours now) so I dont know exactly how it is constructed.
   JLW - Sunday, 11/20/05 18:26:04 EST

Compressor closet. The purpose of my building is both noise reduction on to keep my compressor warm when it is not running for long periods of time. I might not use any air for 1 to 3 weeks at a time. My buddy, whose full time job is servicing commercial compressors, warned me that cold starts and oil failure kill most machines. He wired in an hour meter with a cut off switch that will force me to service my equipment in a timely manner.
The temp today was 36F outside and the thermometer is the closet read 60F. I ran the Big Blu about 2 hours and checked the temp in the closet...68F. I might have to fine tune it next summer but I think it will work just fine. And I'll save my hearing some.
   brian robertson - Sunday, 11/20/05 19:31:17 EST

More on compressors:

SOmeone mentioned using denatured alcohol as a tank antifreeze; might be okay in your car's gas tank, but it could cause really big problems if put in a compressor receiver. Those volatile and flammable vapors could get real interesting when they gcet suddenly compressed in the cylinder of your air chisel or air hammer.

So what if the condensate in your receiver freezes? Now you'll have dry air coming out, instead of humid. Your air tools will love you for it. As long as you don't let the receiver get plumb full of water and then freeze it, no problem at all.

The way to avoid cold start wear on a reciprocating compressor head is to use synthetic oil. Enough film remains even after extended idle periods to prevent galling until the oil pump or slinger gets the crankcase oil up. Frequent oil changes are just as good for your compressor as they are for you car. Cheap insurance.
   vicopper - Sunday, 11/20/05 20:23:12 EST

JLW, The blowers aren't designed to hold an oil bath. I give mine about 3 drops every 3rd day of use. There are many different models and adjustments. You should be able to tighten it up with a little study.

The mill bastard, either taper or straight, is used to sharpen old fashioned mill saws, if you can find some. Nowadays, it is used mostly for "draw filing, finishing, and lathe work". The mill file is a single cut file, and bastard indicates a degree of coarseness, not extremely coarse nor fine regarding depth of cut and spacing of cuts.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/20/05 21:00:14 EST

Guru, I am new at blacksmithing and I was wondering , can you use regular cement blocks to build a coal forge? If not, where can I get some good, easy, and inexpensive plans to build one?

   Hillbillysmith - Sunday, 11/20/05 22:07:16 EST

More about Files:

There are many specialty files of all sizes. Due to the age of these tools there was no standardization and the early descriptions still stand. Things like tooth pitch are not well defined. In hand cutting small files have fine pitch teeth and large files have coarse pitch teeth. The pitch set by how hard the cutter struck the chisel. A smooth file is a fine pitch for its size and generaly single cut. Coarse files are double or bastard cut. Special anti clog or chip breaker files have lines of teeth cut out. Rasps generaly have teeth that are staggered but in straight lines. However, cabinet or pattern makers rasps have teeth cut in a random pattern so that they cut agressively but do not leave deep grooves like standard rasps. These are quite expensive because they are still hand cut.

Files come in standard and special crossections. Rectangular (flat), square, round, half round, triangular. . . Each of these come in straight and tapered. I have some specialy made locksmiths files that were cut for producing keys by hand for pin cylinder locks. Riflers come in fine cut smalls for jewlers, medium for die sinkers and large in rasp cut for sculptors.

I have never seen a single catalog that carried every file type. The old William Dixon catalog had more types of files than I've seen in any one catalog but is far from complete.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/20/05 23:57:49 EST

Cement and Concrete and Forges: Hillbillysmith, in general you do not want to use these directly in the fire box or chimney near the fire. Cement and concrete spalls or dehydrates and crumbles when exposed to high heat. Common red brick can withstand most of the heat of a forge. Most builders like to use firebrick in the immediate fire area.

Forges are best built of steel if available. See our brake drum forge plans for a beginner forge. These can be built for almost nothing and are good for testing fuel. You can purchase a professional fire pot from one of our advertisers and build a forge around that. Most will send you plans to go with the firepot.
   - guru - Monday, 11/21/05 00:04:17 EST

Is there a special trick for cutting out the side pipe to join pipe in a 90 degree T? I need to weld on 3" OD to 3 1/3" OD pipe. I am now putting on the wider on the smaller and marking to make a half moon on both sides. However, still usually comes out off and I need to keep using an angle grinder and test fitting. Seems like if I traced the outside of the larger diameter, cut out a circle, cut it in half and tape it on the one to be cut as a template, it will still be off due to the curving. The joint is a dead-end, not being welded over a hole. Advice?
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/21/05 09:52:13 EST

Machinery's Handbook has a nice section on files (or at least my15th edition does)I wanted to replace an old worn out file I had that was the handiest one I have. I looked up the profile of it, found out it was a "cross cut" file, and the guy at the farm and auto store was able to order me one.
   JimG - Monday, 11/21/05 10:34:00 EST

Ken, When I saddle pipe, I use a short piece to get a general shape. Then grind to fit. After that if more than 1 joint I will use thick gasget material to draw and cut out a templet. Around here we use alot of 2 3/8, 2 7/8 and 4" pipe. So we have a steel templet with a hinge on it that goes around it with saddle on one side and strait on the other.
   - jimmy - Monday, 11/21/05 10:35:17 EST

Ken-- The Pipe Fitter's and Pipe Welder's Handbook, second edition, 1984, by Thomas W. Frankland, Glencoe Publishing Co., Mission Hills, Cal., has among its many riches specific diagrams and instructions for making every pipe joint imaginable. Pocket-sized book, worth its weight in platinum.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/21/05 12:44:56 EST

Ken iforgeiron has blueprint on cutting pipe saddles
   adam - Monday, 11/21/05 15:13:01 EST

Pipe Fitting: There are no easy ways to do this. There are jigs to mark lines on the pipe but ones for missmatched sizes are expensive.

In most sheet metal and piping books the methos used is good old fashioned drafting layouts with two views. Jimmy's trial and error method is just as fast. I use a combination of layout and fudging. The template is a sinusoidal curve with peaks and valleys at 90° on the small pipe. Using a simple layout you can determine the difference between the two. Then I draw a nice sine wave curve. This is almost the same as the radius of the larger pipe with straight lines connecting the two radii. This should cross the center between the high and low point at 45&3176; between the high and lows points.

If you make a little template out of thin sheet metal that slips around the pipe to cut you can wrap the template around the pipe and test it against the other surface then adjust as necessary. Using a compass or dividers you can come very close without projecting the curve every 10 degress.

Miles, Have you checked the price ot Pt lately. . .??
   - guru - Monday, 11/21/05 15:25:39 EST

Fudging a Pipe Saddle:
Click for enlargement

For accurate layout use a sharp pointed divider on bright metal such as aluminium flashing or brass shim stock.
   - guru - Monday, 11/21/05 16:08:00 EST

Im interested in buying a 50lb little gaint but am unsure about them. Can you help me on this one? the Item number is 7563110843 on Ebay.com , Please tell me what you think.

Charles Cooper
   Charles Cooper - Monday, 11/21/05 17:10:39 EST

what temp. does gold melt at . I have a old gold necklace and I want to gold plat a small knife blade , would that work?

Charles Cooper
   Charles Cooper - Monday, 11/21/05 17:13:45 EST

Charles, you not melt gold to plate something. Gold plating is applied by electroplating.

Pure gold melts at 1945°F. Gold silver alloys slightly lower and gold copper alloys higher (normaly)
   - guru - Monday, 11/21/05 17:34:13 EST

Jock-- No, I guess not, but I did spend lotsa time and work making pipe connections that looked all globby and blobby with big ugly welds filling in the gaps before I got this book.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/21/05 17:36:06 EST

LG on Ebay: Charles, it is impossible to tell from the photos. What wears out on Little Giants is:

1) Clutch bearing (babbit)
2) Guides
3) Toggle ends
4) Main (babbit) bearings
5) Dies

The spring can also lose its strength and travel by taking a set. On the list above all I can tell is that the hammer has its original plow sharpening dies.

Other things that happen to Little Giants are generally gross user abuse (broken parts). These are a MACHINE and many folks seem to think that they can be fixed with a hammer and arc welder.

This hammer does not look too bad but the photos do not tell much. All little giants are OLD machines and many are antiques. They require a lot of TLC and finesse to run properly. They are popular only because they are so common. There were other much better power hammers during their heyday.

This one will probably sell for $1500 to $2000, especially since its existance has been noted on this site.

If you buy one I highly recommend the Dave Manzer Little Giant Tune Up video.
   - guru - Monday, 11/21/05 17:47:24 EST

If you have a drum sander the same OD as the pipe you're attaching the saddle to, you just grind in and as long you keep straight it fits automatically. You can do it with one of a smaller drum, but that requires more care.
   AwP - Monday, 11/21/05 18:02:05 EST

Hello everyone,
I've heard of different ingredients to mix with paste wax to finish blacksmithing works. What would be the advantage to adding these? I know that plain paste wax doesn't hold up to the outdoor weather well. Are there other advantages to these different concoctions?
Thanks. Chad
   Chad - Monday, 11/21/05 18:30:05 EST

i am just geting started in bladesmithing as a hobby and was just wondering what is the proper way to make a blood groove or fuller

do you pound it out in the forging process or do you carve it out when nearing comleation please email me with some answers psychopath20@hotmail.com
   deathmonky - Monday, 11/21/05 18:50:57 EST

Finishes: Chad, They are all amature paint formulations. If you look at what is in paint it is the same as what folks put in their home made finishes. The difference is that real paint is made by professionals with lots of money backing their testing laboratories and they can get substances that are impossible for the individual.

The most popular blacksmith "formulas" have oil, wax, solvent and Japan drier (a cobalt compound) and sometimes pigment. Carefully read the contents of commercial paints and you will find oil(s), wax(s), solvent(s) and drier PLUS a few hard to place ingrediants.

Another popular finish has graphite and oil in it. Although graphite is found only in commercial high temperature paints you could ask a paint store to blend an enamel base with graphite pigment to get the same results AND have commercial paint of known properties.

Today, "wax" is often not even wax. . . One popular liquid floor wax used by blacksmiths to coat their work is nothing but clear acrylic (similar to artists paint) thined in water.

Plain beeswax is often used however it tends to leave a slightly sticky finish that attracts dust and dirt. Adding oils and driers to it is making varnish.

Heavy paste waxes like bowling alley wax which has hard carabuna wax in it is often used but the new stuff has an awful lot of solvent in it and requires many coats.

There is practicaly an infinite variety of paints out there. Lacquers, enamels, acrylics, spray on, brush on, rub on, gloss and flat. There are texture paints and cold galvanizing paints, metalics and glow in the dark. You can buy automotive colors going back to Henry Ford in 4oz spray cans and 55 gallon drums. You can apply by dipping, spraying or electrostaticaly.

Wonderful artistic effects can be produced on ironwork unless you are a believer in Henry Ford's "Any color you want as long as it is black." Shadows, glazes, layering, faux gilding and texturing. Deep translucents, candy apples, organics and camouflage. . .

The one thing you DO NOT want to do is forget that the finish on a peice, especially a large job, may cost as much as the forge work itself. This cost is there if you do it yourself OR hire a metal finisher. Not including the finish cost can lose your profit or create an unhappy customer when you cheap quicky finish starts to rust.

I am constantly reminding folks that Hollywood can make wood and plaster look like anything from chrome to wrought iron, and blacksmiths should easily be able to make their wrought iron look like wrought iron while protecting it from the elements.
   - guru - Monday, 11/21/05 19:35:11 EST

death monkey the *proper* way to put a fuller in a blade is to: forge it in using a fuller or a set of clapper dies; or to grind it in using a belt grinder with small contact wheel, or to shave it in using a sen (a drawknife for metal) or to mill it in using a vertical or horizontal mill; or to file it in.

The "proper" way to do a smithing task is "any way that works!" now some ways use more or less time and can change the end product---if you are working with patternwelded steel there is a very different look to the pattern if you forge compared to grind/mill/other stock removal method.

I'm sorry but if *you* want the answer *you* have to read the forum, I post the answers for everyone as many people may have the question but haven't asked...
   Thomas P - Monday, 11/21/05 20:44:28 EST

Ken S : I set up a holesaw in a Bridgeport mill if I have a lot of them to do, havn't done any as large as 3" that way however. I don't think the coping jigs from the mail order catalogs will handle that large either, but the principle is valid. If this is for one of Your production jobs, it may be worth building a jig.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 11/21/05 22:43:40 EST

A while back I asked for assistance on repairing a "Yankee 1500" bench drill by, North Brothers. Was told basically to reverse engineer the missing part's, so, I went to the Patent Office, looked it up and it was clear as mud (pieces overlooked and description beyond my ability to decypher!!). Coincidentally, on ebay, there was a "Yankee 1500", pipe drill which looked to have the missing pieces on it and they seemed to be interchangable so I bought it....nope. However, by taking it apart, I was able to understand the patent office drawing and make the bench drill whole again, TA-DA! Now, I am in posession of 2 drills that I don't really need or want, (the bench drill came in an all-or-nothing purchase where I got a second post vise, that I did want). Both are manually operated (like post drill's), the bench drill has a two speed tranny and the pipe drill has a forward and reverse. Both are in really good shape and I'd like to sell them as a set. I figured I'd come to you guy's and gal's first before I post them on ebay. If anyone's interested, please email me, I'll have pic's up tomorrow.
   Thumper - Monday, 11/21/05 22:58:40 EST

Deathmonkey: I would suggest swordforum.com. There are hundreds of knife and sword makers there. there are photo tutorials on pattern welding and many other specialized weapon techniques. There are good bladesmiths and wrights who differ in the technique of almost every facet of blade craft. The smiths will forge in the fuller while the stock-removal people cut them in with self-centering carbide scraper. Take a look at Hrisoulas book "The Conmplete Bladesmith" on smithing and Ken Cashen's web site. Angus Trim is also a regular on the forum.
   JLW - Monday, 11/21/05 23:01:36 EST

Dave Boyer: I make two styles of propane forges. One out of a 30-lb Freon bottle and the other from a 12" length of 10" driveway culvert. On the bottle, gas tubes come in from the top, so it is fairly simple hole. However, on the culvert model they come in from the upper side to create a swirl effect. That is where I have been having problems in putting in the oval-shaped hole needed. I have been hole saw cutting in the first, and then using a torch to elongate at the bottom. However, this still leaves gaps I have to then backfill with weld. Even if I do the first hole in a ridge or valley, the next is to the side. I haven't tried it yet, as I make up the culvert bodies in groups of six at a time and still have unused ones. In theory, if I just cut the first one partially through, and then put another hole at the bottom (outer cut) for the drill rod, I should be able to essentially overlap the holes by half. I can then just torch for clean-up, rather than shaping. Only drilling equipment (besides hand drills) I have is a Taiwan drill press.

Some folks who have picked up tool purchases have been surprised at how little equipment I use. Basically just a bandsaw, chop saw, drill press, arc welder and oxy/ace torch with a Henrod head.

Was interesting to note my forge sales were an almost exact opposite curve to the rise in gasoline prices. Starting in early August as gas prices shot up, my sales dropped. Not the prices are back down to around $2 gallon, forges are selling again. Discretionary spending obviously.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/22/05 07:41:49 EST

Ken, have you tried welding a sleeve on the forge canister? Stainless tubing works great and the mig fills any voids from cutting the hole.
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 11/22/05 09:10:25 EST

Ken, how about making a flange with a pc of pipe welded on as a burner bracket - that way you can use an oversized hole in the forge wall. Take big construction washer with a 1" hole - heat to orange, slip it over a 1" mandrel and hammer it sideways so it stretches out to an oval. Just an idea
   adam - Tuesday, 11/22/05 09:13:43 EST

How I make these forges is to use 3" lengths of 1" black iron pipe as receivers. With some filing, the 3/4" nipples used for air tubes then slide in and out of them. On the freon bottle, they are threaded on one end and held in place with a conduit nut above and below. However, solutions which may work for a smooth outside pipe won't with a culvert due to the ridges and valleys. Culvert is very thin material (and galvanized on both sides to boot). The better fitting the receiving tubes are, the easier it is to weld around them (using stainless rod at low amps) to seal around them.

Perhaps when the Anvilfire.com Hammer-in is held here on the farm next April folks can brainstorm a simple solution. I try to use the KISS construction method as much as possible.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/22/05 09:31:17 EST

Ken, I think you need to take time to make a template. Even by trial and error it doesn't take long to make a perfect fit. For torch cutting you can make a guide that clamps onto the work. This requires a little ingenuity on pipe but can be done cold. I've made them for all kinds of purposes. For this kind of joint it only takes about twice as long as trial and erroring a couple pieces and after making it the time is reduced such that the next four or five pieces pay for the time lost.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/05 09:36:23 EST

On the coragated pipe if you rotate to the right position the ridges will line up exactly the same on every forge and a template to fit will work on every forge.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/05 09:41:44 EST

hi all,
last week I came across an article on relining a ghas forge on this site. Now i can't find it. anyone know it's location on anvilfire??
   Ed Green - Tuesday, 11/22/05 10:47:06 EST

Ed, its on the iForge page. #148

Gas Forge Refurbishing
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/05 11:12:01 EST

thanks jock- got the ITc BTw, SUPER FAST SHIPPING!!! but then you arent; that far away from me either
   Ed Green - Tuesday, 11/22/05 11:32:02 EST

Is there a standard comercially available size of pipe that will fit the Champion forge and blowers? I am using foil clothes dryer vent piping and duct tape. It isnt totally satisfactory.
   JLW - Tuesday, 11/22/05 12:07:50 EST

JLW, what size outlet does your blower have, and what size inlet does your forge have? My blower and forge both have 3" airways, which makes it easy. I use 3" gas vent duct (looks like miniature stovepipe) from the firepot to the edge of the forge table, and 3" flexduct from that to the blower, where it is secured with a stainless hose clamp. The gas flue pipe slips right into the flex duct and the firepot. I like the flex duct because my blower tends to walk across the floor if I'm really crankin' hard, and the duct lets it go without damage. I also like the flex stuff because it protects the blower if I accidentally water a green coal fire without the air on.

Deathmonkey psychopath20: Be advised that no bladesmith is going to take you seriously with those nicknames. Swordforums will not even allow you to log on with a fake name. It's considered to be a form of courtesy and respect.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/22/05 12:57:00 EST

JLW, I am a regular at swordforum as well, I would suggest reading the Bladesmith Cafe archives there as well.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/22/05 13:04:05 EST

I've seen a lot of the old standard 3" galvanized downspout hanging off of a lot of buffalo blowers over the years. Stay in touch with your local remodeling contractors, and ask them to save what they take off of the older houses that they rehab. Do it before it's all gone. That old stuff was pretty stout and held up forever. Don't worry about the galvanizing. you're blowing cold air through it, and you can cut it with a hacksaw.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 11/22/05 14:16:18 EST

JLK get rid of the duct tape and use a hose clamp. WOrks better in an oil soaked environment. Trust me I know.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 11/22/05 14:26:06 EST

Death monkey- I know what you are trying to accomplish.
you are trying to put a bo hi into a blade.
the best and fastest way I have found is to get a piece of carbide about two x the width of the groove you want to make.
have the carbide ground or try to do it yourself on a bench grinder to the shape you will want. note: it should be in the shape of a very shallow half oval roughly
then drill two holes and attach it to that thick piece of mild steel with nuts and bolts.
next take your annealed (fully annealed) lay out where you want your "bloodgroove". next begin to remove the steel by scraping your new carbide tool in full strokes down the legnth of the blade.
it takes time depending on how deep you want to go.
japanese bladesmiths use this method and can take up to 1 day (but then they are working with 30-40 inch blades most times).
Fullering is a slight shortcut to this but does as thomas points out requires the use of clapper dies and will still require refinement using such a tool as I have described.

take care
   Ed Green - Tuesday, 11/22/05 15:12:40 EST

oh and by the way -deathmonkey- I forgot to mention- when making your own bladesmithing tools it is all subjective.
something that works well for me will work for you just not in the same way. for instance the bo hi scraper I suggested- i use a flat edge held at a steep angle to start with then gradually decrease the steepness until I am getting the "stripping" effect that I want. this little tools works much the same way a sen does. unfortunately there are no commerical sources for these tools so you will have to make them yourself. if you want a "cheap" sen- go to an antique store and pick yourself up a straight draw knife and cut it down in length to about a 5 inch blade and grind off the rest of the blade leaving your two fairly nice sized handles. you can pick up these draw knives for about 15$ and they work GREAT. I have two that i use for making Kyoketsu shoge (http://www.budoweapons.com - the shoge page at the bottom).
   Ed Green - Tuesday, 11/22/05 15:32:20 EST

NoteP: it doesn't have to be a japanese bo-hi; it can be a simple fuller like is on most migration era and viking era swords....or the venetian cinqueda for that matter. A sen would work for all of them.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/22/05 15:49:34 EST

Hmm,how about both duct tape and the clamp. Actually the gas flue sounds like the stuff. I just have to get it to mate to the firepot. Of course the flange for the firepot is long gone.
   JLW - Tuesday, 11/22/05 16:06:27 EST

The gas duct should just slip inside the flange. I like it a little loose for the reasons mentioned above.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/22/05 16:38:05 EST

Forge Blower Piping: Much of this is like doing custom exhust pipes. Auto/truck exhust pipe fitting can be purchased to make turns, fit inside each other and so on. It is fairly heavy material and can easily be welded or brazed. My favorite method of fitting a custom pipe was to go shopping for something close that had enough or a few extra bends. Then I would saw it up as needed and make small backup rings for the joints from scrap pipe then weld or braze it together in the needed shape. It was cheaper and easier than custom pipes. . .

Avoid flex exhust pipe. It rusts rapidly in a forge environment and becomes a mess.

Many forges use flat bolt together flanges, usually with 4 bolts and an optional gasket. Flanges work well with an air gate and make assembly easier. Square flanges are easier to make than round and take four bolts just fine.

While doing all this "plumbing", consider putting an electric blower on the line with the hand crank. This gives you the best of both worlds.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/05 17:19:33 EST

Dear sir
I have a champion 400 handcrank blower it needs some work can you tell me what kind of berrings it takes.

   Terry - Tuesday, 11/22/05 17:59:22 EST

Terry, Custom made (by Champion) ball bearings. They are high contact angle radial/thrust bearings. Some folks have managed to find replacements for some of the bearings but I do not have specifics.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/05 18:38:30 EST

Ken S.
Have you considered spiral wrap pipe as an alternative to the culvert? it is available in various gage thicknesses and in stainless as wellas galvanized and plain. It is available to 30 or more inch iD.
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/22/05 19:19:30 EST

ptree: I am totally unfamiliar with sprial wrap pipe. Please tell me more. I am not a culvert fan. Just relatively inexpensive and readily available. Place I purchase it from cuts it to length very reasonably. Does make an interesting looking forge though.

I need to add there are two types of culvert. One has ridges and valleys running in same direction. Type I have access to has the ridges and valleys running in a sprial shape the length of the culvert.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/22/05 19:46:15 EST

Terry, I had the same problem with my Champion (no #), blower. I took the diameter of my shaft and the diameter and depth of the bearing collar, on the blower, not the empty bearing race, and went down to a machine shop that sold a wide assortment of bearings, I found a set of permanently lubed bearings that were close. I had to ream out the center for them to go over the shaft, and I improvised a shim out of some sheet steel so they set snugly in the case opening and put the lock nut's back on. That was over a year ago and although it still sounds more like a grinder than a blower, it run's smooth enough to do 3 revolutions when I release the crank. Not bad for a yard ornament which is what it was when I found it.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 11/22/05 21:58:58 EST

Ken S : The post I gave yesterday was with reference to the 3" pipe "T" joint, but it doesn't look like You have equiptment to run the large diameter hole saw slow enough.The 3" holesaw should run about 100 RPM but would probably tolerate 200 RPM. For Your forge holes I would probably make a jig that goes around the culvert pipe and guides a holesaw threaded on a length of rod that runs in bushings or at least holes in the jig. could be powered by a drilpress or a triple reduction hand drill.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 11/22/05 23:16:43 EST

One more thought on pipe saddles. You can cut them the same as you cope a molding. For equal diameter pipes, put one in the chop saw and cut at 45 degrees. Rotate the pipe 180 degrees without moving it in or out, and make a second cut. The line where the cuts meet the OD of the pipe gives you the exact shape you need -- you'll need to grind back the pipe walls where they project beyond the line.

For unequal diameters, I don't think you can get an exact shape, but you can come pretty close by adjusting the angle. For 3" to 3-1/2", if my numbers are right, you'd want to set the saw to around 30 degrees (taking a square cut as zero degrees).
   Mike B - Wednesday, 11/23/05 09:44:33 EST

Mike B: I did one using Guru's illustration and came reasonable close on sides. Bottom was still a bit too deep. I have not thought about using the bandsaw to cut off the ends at an angle. Will try that on next one as the cut would be clean, not somewhat ragged as when done with a torch.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/23/05 10:07:20 EST

Mike B: Just did one. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 30 degrees was right on. A tad of angle grinding on the inside of the points and a nice fit.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/23/05 11:11:47 EST

ebay 'creamic chip forge' ~ 7564457576 , anyone any views on these thingys? is it just a 'fake' coke / coal forge ? any specific benfits?

On a seperate note what the best way to decapitate a propane cylinder to make a gas forge body? would drilling & then filling with water (then draining) ensure it wont go pop when I start grinding it?
   john n - Wednesday, 11/23/05 11:48:30 EST

Look at this newly discovered type of anvil by Trenton. Ebay #6229440495
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 11/23/05 12:28:48 EST

I wonder where that guy finds all these anvils and what he pays for 'em. That makes me sick!
   Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 11/23/05 12:36:00 EST

ceramic chip forge - most of these are desinged for brazing and dont get hot enough for forging. But it is good forge design - the chips provide very good mixing. If I could find a refractory that didnt wear away at welding temp I would make one myself.

propane cylinder - the advice I got was - remove the valve - fill with soapy water and let stand for a week at which time it can be cut with a saw.
   - adam - Wednesday, 11/23/05 12:40:03 EST

umm before removing the valve, evacuate the cylinder by letting it stand for a day with the valve open.
   - adam - Wednesday, 11/23/05 12:41:10 EST

Ceramic Chip Forges: These are made by Flamefast in England and used for general forging. At least one blacksmith school has four. They have a web site for the forges.

The chips are synthetic mullite in the largest as crushed size made. They come from the US and are shipped to England. If you need them here you pay markup plus double shipping. . . .

I understand the biggest problem with these forges is they are like standing too near the sun. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/23/05 12:58:18 EST

Thanksgiving: I'm off for a few days. Yall be good!

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/23/05 12:58:49 EST

TYLER; What would really make you sick would be watching thousands of them going into the blast furnaces during the scrap drives of WW II. Nonetheless a good cause, in my estimation. Just another reason we aren't speaking Japanese with a German accent.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 11/23/05 13:30:28 EST

Can anyone recommend a good place to buy sending belts online? I'm looking for 6" x 48" belts, all grits up to 600.
   - Ross - Wednesday, 11/23/05 17:01:58 EST

Try Hagenmeyerna.com You can call 502-961-5930 and speak to Mike and he can get you just what you need. Tell him you saw it on Anvilfire and he should advertise.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/23/05 19:01:24 EST

Ken Scharabok,
Spiral wrap pipe is made by a machine that spirals and lock seams metal from a coil. The local company that had the machine would run it up to 60" and to 10 gage in steel, aluminum,SS and galvanize. We used it for vent stacks at the old plant. They could run any transportable lenght. Ask you local comercial HVAC guys and they can probably tell you a source. It is used for duct in large buildings, mine vents etc.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/23/05 19:04:28 EST

ptree, thanks I'll check it out.
   - Ross - Wednesday, 11/23/05 20:54:58 EST

On anvils and wartime scrap drives: Richard Postman is still looking for a copy of the photograph of a very large pyramid of anvils in a scrapyard. Likely was in one of the large format-type magazines of the time, such as Life, Look or Post. Seems like I have seen the photograph.

He suspects only the worst of the lot, such as those missing plates, horns or heels, were actually scrapped. Rest likely were resold by the dealers as usable anvils.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/23/05 22:50:40 EST

Drilling oval hole for angled burner tube.

I had good luck using a hand drill and an extra long pilot bit for the 1" hole saw. I just held the drill at the angle I wanted. The only part where you had to be careful was where it just started to enter the side of the propane bottle I was using as a forge. It was pretty straightforward.
   - Tom T - Wednesday, 11/23/05 23:26:28 EST

Tom T: I tried this method but have no way of securing the culvert for drilling in this manner and it is drilling among ridges and valleys, rather than a solid (flat) outer surface, such as a propane bottle.
By the way, I made a forge yesterday from one of those Christmas popcorn tin canisters. Went together very quickly, but the material is so thin the top tubes are very subject to flexing at the base. However, should work for what my friends needs. He insisted I not spray paint the canister so Santa still shows.

For the front framework I used 1/4" x 1" stock. Two 5", two 6 3/4" and one 10 1/2". 10 1/2" went on bottom horizonal for a base support, two 6 3/4" went on sides vertical and two 5" went between the uprights, one at the top and one down far enough to leave an opening 4" high by 5" wide. This was attached to the lid and the 4" x 5" area of the lid cut out. By knocking off the bottom corners of a ceramic firebrick, it sat on the bottom on the tin inside just at the right height to match the bottom of the opening. I used the lid as a template to cut out two pieces of 1" thick ceramic wool and the other inside piece was 9 1/2" x 24". No back opening, but there would be the option to do so using the same framework as the front, just also putting on a 4" x 5" door.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/24/05 06:59:54 EST

Ross, another good source for sanding belts in every size imaginable is www.trugrit.com.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 11/24/05 09:45:06 EST

Hi!! I would to know if there are some suppliers of ITC products here in Europe, I'm in Italy and i can not find a product like that here. I'm trying to build a gas forge but i think the refractory cement (named "Black bond cement") i've found is not flux resistant and i don't know how long it will be the life of my forge.
Thanks in advance.
Fabrizio (Italy)
   Bicio - Thursday, 11/24/05 20:04:48 EST


Why are forging presses hydraulic rather than pneumatic?
   Bob G - Thursday, 11/24/05 20:38:02 EST

Brute force power, Bob.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/24/05 21:23:16 EST

Bob G : To elaborate on vicopper's corect answer, at the pressures that air is normally used at, the cilinder would be huge to generate the needed force. The compressability of air makes it ineficient at the pressures that hydraulic systems work at.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 11/24/05 23:30:49 EST

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