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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 25 - 30, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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Hello all! Happy Thanksgiving.

Quick question. Does or will an Arbor press do on a smaller scale what a fly press will do on a larger scale? (i.e. smaller sized work pieces?)

Thanks. Larry Reed
   Larry Reed - Friday, 11/25/05 01:07:19 EST

Grey: I forwarded your message to him using the e-mail addy you cited. Hasn't rejected so far.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/25/05 02:11:18 EST

Larry R :I am not the expert, but I'll have a go at it: The short answer, No. An arbor press uses the mechanical advantage of the long handle over the small diameter pinion, the force available is purely a matter of leverage. A flypress uses the stored energy of a heavy flywheel or similar mass driving an extremely coarse screw. There is a lot more force available from the heavy rotating mass than from the leverage on the arbor press. If You coupled a flywheel to an arbor press You would POTENTIALLY have that same ammount of force, but in REALITY all You would do is break the teeth on the rack or pinion. An arbor press is designed to provide a lot of travel at a lesser pressure. A flypress is designed to provide extremely high pressure over a shorter travel and importantly MUST NOT clamp down like a vise at the end of the cycle. This is why the lead of the screw must be extremely coarse. A screwpress is similar looking to a flypress, but the lead of the screw is finer, and thus self locking. This is not good for forging as the time duration at the end of each cycle will cause the tool to absorb too much heat from the work.Unless the job could be completed in one shot the work would be too cold for forging. The tool would be in danger of getting too hot before it could be retracted from the work.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/25/05 04:00:47 EST

cheers adam, propane cylinder filled with soapy water & standing, only need to worry about getting the huge lump of ice out of it now.....
   john n - Friday, 11/25/05 05:57:35 EST

Greg: My e-mail to manzer@heyflo.com rejected also.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/25/05 08:53:56 EST

I have been blacksmithing as a hobby for about two years now. I have a friend who works for a company that design firing mechanisms for artillery and other large guns as a subcontractor to the government. Recently he approached me with the idea of casting several small cannons, desktop size, to give away as little rewards for his employees. In total he would like around twenty of these things. I would also like to make like to make them function for discharging small marble size projectiles using black powder. I want to do this all safely and since I have never done it I wonder if anyone knows a good place to start looking? Any idea on materials, bronze, iron, something else? Can these materials be heated using a crucible on top of a forge? My forge is rather sizable, so I could fit a good size crucible on top of it. Casting methods? I just want to do this well and as safely as possible. Thanks all.
   - Edgar - Friday, 11/25/05 13:51:32 EST

Edgar is there any reason you HAVE to cast them? why not try some black wall pipe(nipple)? just cut off the threads and then use a drill bit to clean the inside up. then you could use a pipe cap to close and your all done. you would just have to make some kind of a stand out of wood. well thats my $0.02
   - John S - Friday, 11/25/05 14:17:26 EST

They are mostly for show, the fucntionality is second to apperance. They should be something you might like set out on your office work desk.
   - Edgar - Friday, 11/25/05 14:22:27 EST

Sounds like a straight machining job to me. Made on a lathe from bar stock of known quality.
   - Tom H - Friday, 11/25/05 14:32:35 EST


If you plan to actually fire them, you're looking at huge potential liability if somebody hurts himself or others with one. I have seen advertisements in gun magazines for brass cannon of that size, reasonably priced. That way you let someone else assume the liability for a faulty casting or other defect.

If you're not going to fire them, then you can cast themself yourself reasonably easily using bronze. It would be practical enough to turn a master model on a lathe, make a silicone rubber mold of it and then produce as many wax models as needed. The models can be cast by the lost wax method very accurately, and you can do the melt in your forge. It would be easier though, to build a simple propane furnace for doing both the burnout of the wax and the melting of the bronze. Check out iForge demo #137 for some info on lost wax casting, and look at your local library for books on casting.

Trying to cast iron for this project would be impractical in the average shop. There's just too little to recommend iron and bronze is prettier, too.

You should keep in mind that the new Homeland Security considerations make this sort of undertaking pretty edgy. Essentially what you are making is an incendiary device or homemade single shot firearm, and the HS folks are getting really touchy about those things. It is something to keep in mind, anyway.

I certainly would NOT, under ANY circumstances, ever, never no how, no way, use something with low burst pressure like iron pipe for a working cannon. That is the path to the emergency room or the morgue...if you're lucky. If you're not so lucky, you could wind up going through life with a horrible disfigurement and disability and the knowledge that another person was in the same condition due to your error. Frankly, I'd rather be dead.
   vicopper - Friday, 11/25/05 14:35:07 EST

Thanks for that, I was a bit weary about making them operational, so bronze it is. Thanks!
   - Edgar - Friday, 11/25/05 14:59:58 EST

Bob G
A good comparsion is a set of swaging presses that I converted from air to hydraulic years ago. These presses were to make 8 tons, and used a 36" stroke,24" cylinder with a multiplying lever and pivot to get the tonage. They used HUGE amounts of air in production, and did low quality work as the pressure rise was slow so the swaging force was varialbe. I replaced the cylinders etc with a straight 6" hydraulic cylinder, and got better speed, controlibility and pair or the conversion is saved energy from the reduced air consumption. Remember that compressed air is one of the most expensive energy types to be had. Much of the compressor drive motor energy goes into heat that has to be wasted.
   ptree - Friday, 11/25/05 16:04:11 EST

Desktop Cannons:


All sizes and colors
   - Hudson - Friday, 11/25/05 18:05:36 EST

Long propane forge heats: My customer in France who makes knives and swords asked me if I could make him a forge to do heats 32" long for a katana blade. I advised him most people would simply work the blade back and forth under the heat to try to get a consistent heat. Also, one that size is beyond my capabilities. However, let me float an idea by you. He has one of my culvert forges which has a 3" x 6" opening in the front and back, with the rear one having a door. What if he used a box say 3" x 6" x 24" lined with 1" of ceramic wood and positioned it against the back opening. Inside insulated space would be about 1" x 4" x 23", so with the forge chamber length, about 33" in all. My thinking is as the blade is being worked back and forth, the length extending out the back would then be insulated to help prevent heat loss. Is something like this workable?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/25/05 19:00:57 EST

what is "ceramic wood"?
i would comment that one does not forge 32" at a time (one heat), thus a forge that long is not necessary. i dont know about what most blade guys would do, but my guess is that billets are welded up 4-6" at a time, with some overlap. it is then rough forged to shape, again 4-6" at a time. if there are openings on each end, the blade passes through. heat treating a long piece is a different story...
   - morph - Friday, 11/25/05 20:10:20 EST

Casting bronze desktop cannons is a clear call for doing a matchplate and a petrobond sand mold. You can have all of them cast by the time lost wax was still in the burnout.

With clean sand you can get a good surface finish---I've transferred fingerprints by accident several times.

Heating the entire blade up when you can only forge a short section at a time is detrimental to the steel; decarb, grain growth, scaling all are maximized that way.

The only time you need the entire piece up to temp is heat treat and for that you want as even a temperature as possible. Putting an insulated addition would be better if you could decrease the front opening as well and have some of the exhaust exit the reat to provide a greater heat zone for the blade.

   Tpowers - Friday, 11/25/05 21:09:08 EST

Below is a link to an unusual looking 5 Cwt anvil. What were the cutouts used for?

   Bob G - Friday, 11/25/05 21:40:56 EST

Probably and anvil for a Blacker brand "Oliver" hammer. See the one used by Chambersburg on an early hammer. The notches are for holding dies and attachments.

Fisher-Norris Anvils
   - guru - Friday, 11/25/05 22:06:58 EST

Of Cannons and Scrap Drives:

Prior to WW-II there were a number of trophy cannons, captured by American forces over the history of the Republic, out in front of the Old State, War and Navy building, next to the White House (OWS&N is now known as the Eisenhower Executive Office Bldg.). Then, one day, some mid-level bureaucrat had this really cool idea, and donated about 2/3rds of them to a scrap drive... (Sigh!)

On a lighter note (and still on copper alloys), here's an article claiming advanced skills for 17th c. Islamic brassmakers:


...and another article on the anti-bacterial properties of brass water jugs:


I have oftened wondered about the germicidal properties of brass hardware, especially when exiting the Men's Room. Given my experience with copper and tin based anti-fouling paint, I always figured that brass or bronze hardware would provide a pretty hostile environment for pathogens. (To listen to some alarmist micro-biologists, it's a wonder we're not all dead!)

Anyway, something to think on.

Big push on the sleigh projects this weekend; I've got some young fellows who want to "learn the mysteries" coming over to help me with the runners and top-straps.

Cold and downright bitter on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Vist your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 11/26/05 00:59:36 EST

morph: I meant to say ceramic wool (Koa-wool or equivalent). You are thinking of pattern-welded blades. I get the impression he forges out regular blades and then hand file finishes them. I try to give my customers what they want even if it doesn't make sense sometimes. I was thinking of making up the box out of 1/4" stock, but really don't know why I couldn't do so out of short length of 6" stovepipe.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/26/05 02:52:47 EST


Just happens I ran across an article on the antimicrobial properties of brass doorknobs the other day. It's not exactly from an unbiased source, but here't the URL: If it doesn't work, I got there from www.copper.org -- the link's at the bottom of the left-hand column.
   Mike B - Saturday, 11/26/05 08:25:56 EST

Extended forge. Ken, I doubt the extension would work a lot better than free air in warm weather. Might help a little in cold. There is a huge difference between ambient and forge temperature and rate of heat loss.

IF he wants a heat treating forge I had a rather nifty idea for bladesmiths. A tilting forge. A big problem heat treating blades is the handling while hot. Many bladesmith quench verticaly to avoid this problem. So why not a forge where you can lift the blade verticaly? Now, the problem with heating vertically is the top of the forge will be considerably hotter than the bottom AND there is the problem of overheating the lifting hook or wire. SO, blades are heated horizontally. But if you heated horizontaly, then rotated the forge/furnace to vertical just long enough to lift out. . . you would avoid all that bending that goes on when trying to heat treat a long blade. . .

A tilting forge would be pretty easy to build especialy when using light weight ceramic fiber refractory like Kaowool.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/26/05 08:27:47 EST

My thinking on the forge extension is by leaving the end open some of the blast from inside the chamber will exit through it (acting as a horizonal chimney so to speak). Might keep the temperature in it at least several hundred degrees, if not closer to 1,000.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/26/05 08:38:22 EST

Ken: If you're going to make an insulated metal box, why not just attach a burner so it's a second forge and then you can line them up like you were going to and not have to worry about enough ambient heat warming up the second box. It'd be like a sectional couch, each section functions by itself but then push them together and you have a fully functioning bigger one.
   AwP - Saturday, 11/26/05 09:31:11 EST

About that new type of anvil that was discovered that I posted about on wed. Richard Postman has looked at it and documented it, does anybody know for sure if he is going to come out with another book with that anvil in it?
   Tyler Murch - Saturday, 11/26/05 10:19:48 EST

Long forges for bladesmithing: Ken, tell your customer to go look at Don Fogg's website. Only makes sense to look at the forges of a master swordsmith to see what works, no?

Guru, a smith in Switzerland used the tilting heat-treat forge idea earlier this year, and says it works very well.

The guys who are REALLY worried about the wet-noodle effect when heat-treating long thin objects use a molten salt pot for even heat and vertical orientation. Not something for the beginner to play with, though.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 11/26/05 10:36:35 EST

New? style anvil: Tyler, That is just a Trenton anvil. The only thing different about it is that it has no step. This is either a factory special, one of the imported patterns or the customer removed the step. Trenton made half step anvils for a long time as a general and farrier type anvil and used it prominantly in their ads. I have a Hay-Budden farriers style that has half the step removed and an extra pritchel hole. This seems heavy for a farrier's pattern but you must remember that was the era when horses came to the farrier rather than the other way around as it is today.

200 Pound Hay-Budden farriers anvil

The stepless style was more common in Europe and is still made today by Kohlswa.

Kohlswa stepless anvil

Most of the companies that made forged anvils took special orders and made patterns that were known but not in their catalogs as production items. In these relatively modern factories the anvils were hand made one at a time and asking for specials was not a big deal.

And yes, Richard is working on his new book. What will be included and not will depend on space and won't be known until the last edit.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/26/05 11:15:51 EST

Tyler Murch: My understanding the working title of the follow-on will be More on Anvils. It is not intended to repeat information in Anvils in America. Hence, it will be a supplement, rather than a revision. I somewhat suspect it will be heavy on English anvil manufacturers. Last I spoke with Mr. Postman he had documented some 130 British anvil manufacturers.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/26/05 13:04:13 EST

I'm smithing an large angle iron type piece, it consists of A36 or higher carbon steel, the dimesions are .5 thick by 4" wide by 18" long, this piece will be fitted like a large angle iron piece for girder support in a log cabin, the question is when quenching steel like this, at what strength will the temper be per quench, or is their a formula, could really use some ADvice on this, thanks all, Matt
   - Matt Anderson - Saturday, 11/26/05 13:11:54 EST

A-36: Matt, Do not quench, do not anneal. A-36 is designed to be used as-rolled or normalized.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/26/05 14:35:51 EST

I am trying to find out any information on acme post drills and some pictures, I picked one up from an old farmer and it is in great shape but it is missing the hand crank doesn't turn. I think I could build one if i could see an original. Any idea of when these were built and the cost new?
   - Ty Rankn - Saturday, 11/26/05 15:10:46 EST

I am trying to find out any information on acme post drills and some pictures, I picked one up from an old farmer and it is in great shape but it is missing the hand crank doesn't turn. I think I could build one if i could see an original. Any idea of when these were built and the cost new?
   - Ty Rankn - Saturday, 11/26/05 15:11:13 EST

I recently picked up an acme post drill in great shape but it is missing the crank handle, I think I could build one if I could see what an original one looked like. any ideas when these were made and what they sold for?
   Ty Rankin - Saturday, 11/26/05 15:15:55 EST

HELP!! I've located an old anvil for sale. it has a large top and a relativly small horn. it doesn't have a welded on plate but rings great. the only other id feature is it has a fifth leg between the two long ones on one side. if anyone can help id this anvil or needs a specific question answered about it to help, please post. thank you in advance, kirt
   kirt - Saturday, 11/26/05 18:52:01 EST

Sounds like a german anvil. Look at peddinghausanvils.com for comparison. The "fifth leg" is an upsetting block. The definition of which is also at the site I just mentioned.
   Tyler Murch - Saturday, 11/26/05 18:58:19 EST

wished it was a peddinghaus. the fifth leg actually is like the other four in the corners and they are not flat like the peddinghaus. there is no cutting place beween the horn and face. it has 1 2 6 on one side in numbers 1 1/2-2 inches tall.
   kirt - Saturday, 11/26/05 19:37:58 EST

Kirt: You may also have an old British made anvil, cicra 1820 or earlier. If the fifth foot is flat topped, it is an upsetting block as Tyler mentioned. If sloped, then it is just for decoration (with perhaps some symbolism behind it). Some dates to help: Steps came into common usage cicra 1780. Pritchels (punching holes) came into common usage about 1830. Sure sounds like you may have what Richard Postman, in Anvils in America, calls a Colonial anvil, dating prior to 1780. Look very closely above the fifth foot. Can you make out a stamped S there?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/26/05 19:39:52 EST

I'm looking to build a home made gas forge to do heat treating. I have found a few designs including the one in Anvilfire, Thanks. I have a question is there a difference in the function of a round vs square forge? Is one better? More effecient? Thank you Mr. Guru
   Dave - Saturday, 11/26/05 20:42:38 EST

Help. I'm trying to find a local blacksmith in Montcalm County in Michigan. But so far no luck. If some one out there knows of a blacksmith near her please let me know.
   Jacob - Saturday, 11/26/05 21:39:52 EST

Ron Reil Donates His Site to ABANA

Long time ABANA member Ron Reil has donated his website to ABANA. You can now find all of the valuable information that Ron has been collecting and writing for many years at: http://ronreil.abana.org

Source: ABANA website
   - Ntech - Saturday, 11/26/05 21:40:54 EST

Who sells "hardies" I need the website of a supplier.
I am brand new at this and excited in pursuing bladesmithing
   Richard Rockenbach - Saturday, 11/26/05 21:52:12 EST

Looking for a "hardie " supplier. I'm just starting. Am retired and have done a lot of woodworking and carving. Now I want to learn bladesmithing.
   - Richard Rockenbach - Saturday, 11/26/05 22:19:06 EST

Hey Mr. Guru, writing from Richmond VA, question about used Columbian Vise I picked up ( from scrap pile) today. The main nut is stripped, Acme threads are wiped out. Any advice about where I can find replacement or... is there a process to restore the threads?? I think Wilton makes Columbian and they may want to sell me both the screw and the nut, that's going to be expensive. What's really odd is that the rest of the vise is in pristine condition, the jaws still crisp, has working swivel assembly, original slide bar and paint, etc. I need to rescue this vise on principle - it made it this far in good shape, needs re-hab to live another day!! Any ideas?? Thanks, pls. reply to jmeola@vmsom.com
   John Giovanni Meola - Saturday, 11/26/05 22:48:07 EST

Richard Rockenbach,

On the pull-down menu at the upper right of the screen there is a list of Anvilfire advertisers that sell hardoes and other blacksmithing tools. Tell them you saw them on Anvilfire, please.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/26/05 23:50:39 EST

John Meola,

Check out W.W. Grainger, McMaster-Carr or MSC Industrial supply; all of them have websites and all of them sell Acme nuts.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/26/05 23:52:22 EST

Would anyone out there
Im trying to find imformation on a brass drip oiler made by a company called viking, also would anyone out there have photos or imformation on the setup of drip oilers on very early nazel power hammers,

Greetings from a very stormy

Tamworth NSW Australia
   nick mchugh - Saturday, 11/26/05 23:53:26 EST

Anybody got any advise on forging manganese? I aquired some scraps of 3/8 that range from 3/8 to 1" wind. thoght they'd make neat measureing tools (dividers. compasses, etc). tried just heating unde a/o torch and found that if I got it too hot (yellow) it crumbled when hit but as it cooled had better luck but stilled would thankful for any input. Scott "Dodge" Scheer
   Dodge - Sunday, 11/27/05 02:05:59 EST

Jacob: Click on the NAVIGATE anvilfire link, then go down to the bottom and find the link for ABANA Chapters. Find the one which covers your area. They may be able to put you in touch with someone.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/27/05 07:52:06 EST

Dave, a round cross-section in a gas forge is better for heat treating, provided the burner enters the forge at an angle. This produces a "swirl" effect and a much more even heat than a square-section gas forge, which will be plagued with hot and cold spots.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 11/27/05 11:38:34 EST

John Meola-a number of years ago we repaired the stripped threads on a post vise by recasting them in babbit-it has been in daily use and has not given any trouble. We backed the threaded portion out so we were casting oround the least worn parts of the threaded shaft- coated the surface with a thick layer of soot from a O/A torch- we had to cut the back off the screw housing to have a place to pour in the babbitt.Dammd the area around the threads with clay
and poured in the babbitt.
   - ptpiddler - Sunday, 11/27/05 13:15:38 EST

How do you forge wrought iron? I just got some 1" bars that I'd like to shape into leaf forms. I can do this with no problem with mild steel, but when I try with the wrought iron the "fibers" seem to come apart under the hammer. I read the FAQ on wrought iron, but there's not much on how you can actually workthe stuff. Thanks!
   Allan Lind - Sunday, 11/27/05 13:25:46 EST

Looking in the archives, I find some answers to my question. It looks like I need to be forging much hotter than I was, maybe hotter than my gas forge can manage. Any other pointers for forging wrought iron would still be appreciated. Thx.
   Allan Lind - Sunday, 11/27/05 14:07:47 EST

I am interested in making a fire screen for my fire place. Does anyone know where I can Get the Screen material from?
   Sean A - Sunday, 11/27/05 18:12:05 EST

Allan Lind
Some wrought iron is refined more than others. That is, more refined has smaller fibers and less refined has larger. You have less refined wrought iron which is not a bad thing. It just means you can't draw it out or flatten it finely.
   Tyler Murch - Sunday, 11/27/05 18:14:32 EST

Vise Nut: The nuts on old bench vises are a rather small part that often gets broken. It is too short for the babbit method mentioned by ptpiddler.

If you have the original then a replacement could be whittled from a block of steel or bronze and threaded as needed. The threading will have to be done on a lathe. However, unless you can do the machining the cost is going to probably be equal to the that of the replacement parts.

The reason they probably want to sell both parts is that details of the thread have changed over the years and the manufacturing is no long in the same plant (not sure if even in the US). The new parts may even have a metric thread. In any case, the new owners probably have doubts about what fits the old models and are doing what they can to help you.

The old HD vises were cast from ductile iron or mild steel and were VERY tough pieces of equipment. The larger ones cost over $1000 at one time. Repairing them is a worth while investment.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/27/05 18:17:13 EST

Wrought Iron: Allan, as noted wrought needs to be worked hotter than mild steel. But it has other problems. As noted there are different degrees of refining of the grain and the coarse stuff is rough to work. The primary problem with old wrought is rust. Years of exposure to the elements causes the silicous slag layers between the fibers of pure iron to degrade. Often the layers become loose as the slag expands and the iron rusts. The result is often a bar of iron that LOOKS good and is relatively sound but that cannot be worked. This problem is more accute with low quality wrought than tripple refined wrought.

Ocassionaly you can work it hot and flux the iron rewelding the splits back together.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/27/05 18:24:51 EST

Round vs. Square Forge: Dave, the advantage of the tubular forges is that the housings are easy to come by and the light weight refractory Kaowool is self supporting in the curved container. When building flat topped forges you must use expensive refractory board or heavy inefficient brick, OR cast refractory.

Round is just the easiest most efficient way to build a DIY forge.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/27/05 18:29:40 EST

Tyler, Guru,
Thanks..I knew you'd have some answers for me. I'll see heat it up a lot and see what happens!
   Allan Lind - Sunday, 11/27/05 18:36:56 EST

hey ive been interested in blacksmithing for three years and i just got my forge recently. I made a coal forge from a brake brum and was wondering if there was a way to make a blower for it. kind of like the champion blowers. if not i was going to make a double bellow. Thnx in advance
ps i have 16g mild sheetmetal to make it from
   brian - Sunday, 11/27/05 20:32:34 EST

This may sound like a dumb question but how do I dress a new hammer? Do I have to aneal it dress with a file and re harden and temper or can I just take an angle grinder to it as is? If I use an angle grinder with a flaper disc will the heat from grinding cause any loss in hardness or temper?
   Jeff - Sunday, 11/27/05 22:40:47 EST

Home made blowers: Brian, There are infinite ways to produce air for a forge. Hand crank blowers have been made from wood and tin with wood pulleys and leather drive belts, they've been made with bicycle parts and hand fabricated from steel plate. Bellows vary from paired single action bellows and double chambered bellows to accordian storage units, water tank storage units and all wood piston bellows. I've even seen them made from a plastic bucket, some plastic sheeting and duck tape.

Ancients used everything from a group of workers with long blow pipes to wine skins. In Europe there was an installation that used air entrained in falling water to create a blast of air for a blast furnace. Wind, water and animal power have been used to power bellows and blowers.

Let your imagination, skills and what you have on hand be your guide. This kind of self sufficient resourcefulness is what blacksmithing is about. However, if you want to cut to the chase and be productive you will just buy a nice reliable modern electric powered forge blower.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/27/05 22:45:46 EST

Dressing a Hammer: Jeff, I've been meaning to do an illustrated article on this but it is like everything else these days. . . looking for time.

Dressing a new hammer is done with a grinder, preferably a belt grinder. Hammers should not be ground on a bench grinder with a hard wheel unless the grinder has a wheel much heavier than the hammer. Grinding heavy objects that are near the mass of the grinding wheel can result in their shattering.

You can use an angle grinder, belt grinder, disk sander or a file. Although hammers are hard they should be soft enough to file.

The face of a blacksmithing hammer should have a crown and gently radiused corners. There are two basic types of dress, round and square. A round dress can be produced in a lathe and many commercial hammers came perfectly machine dressed at one time. A round dress has from 1/16" to 1/8" crown and a significant chamfer which should ahve radiused edges. A square dress is usualy what is known as a rocker face and has a surface arced in one direction. The edges should be heavily radiused so that they do not mark the work. Square faced hammers can also be crowned (arced in all directions. The amount of arc or crown on the face of a hammer is a personal prefference. The more there is the faster you can move the metal but the more you have to work to not mark it up. A flatter face does not mark the work but it make you work much harder to move the metal. Expert smiths often have hammers with different faces for different classes of work.

One way to get practice dressing hammers is to start with cheap flea market hammers OR old worn out hammers. LOOK at good old hammers and study the shape of the face. Many of these were very well dressed from the factory.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/27/05 22:58:51 EST

Thanks for the quick responce guru. The new hammer is a rounding hammer and has a sharp lip on the outer edge. This part of the rounded side will probably never touch the work but I would still like to dress it over a litle. Thanks again.

   Jeff - Sunday, 11/27/05 23:14:49 EST

Guru et al,
I just got a Jet power hacksaw, model 370, from a friend. It doesn't look like it has operated in some time and there's no manual for it. My usual Google search turned up nothing. The Jet website wasn't much help. Does anyone know where I can get some info on this machine? Thanks!
   Koomori - Sunday, 11/27/05 23:39:06 EST

So when using A36 will the steel loose any strength from heating it up to forming temps making the desired shape then carefully letting it cool. Also does anyone know the exact forming temp for A36.
Thanks All, Matt
   matt - Monday, 11/28/05 04:00:39 EST

Koomnori: I found an operating manual for one piece of equipment over eBay. Someone was selling the same unit and mentioned it came with the manual. I arranged for them to make a copy of it for me, paying them for the time and effort.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/28/05 04:52:16 EST

Terry, last week you mentioned a recalcitrant Champion 400. I went to my local bearing supplier and had to buy a whole bag of them. I took a couple and they measured 1/4". E-mail me if you need bearings and I will send you what ever you need.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 11/28/05 08:57:14 EST

About the Vise Nut of John meola's. I was able to just BUY a nut from Columbian. I had assumed they didn't have one and dodn't ask until after I had wasted a lot of time. Try calling them. The nut I needed was NOT listed on the web, but was new old stock in a back room. They have changed names now but I found them by Googleing (now Wilton Tool Group).

Making a whole new screw/nut assembly isn't that hard if you use acme threaded rod and nut to start and have access to a lathe. Just make the handle end for the screw and weld it on. then make whatever is needed to hold the nut and weld them together. A good old vise is worth repair!
   - John Odom - Monday, 11/28/05 09:48:19 EST

Machinery Manuals: If a company is still in business they often have manuals for their OLD machinery. I bought a 60 year old Brown and Sharp surface grinder and they had a manual for it. Same with a 70 year old bandsaw. Jet tools are still sold and the importer/distributor shoulf still be able to get you a manual. However, this IS one of the major problems with buying cheap imported equipment. Once it leaves the docks in China they feel all responsibility ends.

For operating machine tools the manuals do not tell you much. They are mostly parts and lubrication information and sometimes do not even include how to properly adjust the machine. For this they assume you are a trained mechanic. For operation details you want machine shop text books, old and new. Cut off band saws are particularly tricky to adjust and I have yet to see a good explaination. This includes the manual for my American made Ridgid.

Text books and how-to manuals are available from Industrial Press, McGraw-Hill (or whoever they are now) and John Whiley & Sons. A very good book for the apprentice, amature or novice machinist is James Harvey's Machine Shop Trade Secrets. I have a review copy and it is a very good book and NEED to get that review out. . .

For general machine shop operations you want to start with a good general text like Machine Tool Practices by Kibbe, Neely, Meyer and White, published by John Whiley & Sons, Inc. Note that as a text book the authors may change with updated editions. This book is over 900 pages and covers every kind of machine you will find in most machine shops including shapers, filers and key seaters.

If you are just starting out with a lathe the booklet from South Bend Lathes, How to run a Lathe is a good start. It is the source material for many other books. If you have an upright bandsaw (stanard type without the twist in the blade) the popular wood working band saw books will cover adjustments applicable to all types of band saws and include some very ingenious tricks for using a band saw.

Machinery's Handbook includes tables specific to setting up Cincinatti milling machine power and manual dividing heads. I spent a week calculating ratios to make my own chart for an old dividing head I had bought and THEN found the same information in Machinery's. Always check your Machinery's first!

A little off the subject. . Along with the books listed above some of the measurement tool catalogs are very good on how to use all types and brands of measurement tools. The Starrett Catalog is very good. They also publish(ed) an apprentice manual. For temperature measurement the Omega catalog set is a hardware catalog, engineers reference and technicians manual.

Don't overlook the general literature when looking for information on how to use your new toys. Blacksmith shops have been closer to machine shops since the late 19th century and all the above IS part of learning to be a blacksmith.
   - guru - Monday, 11/28/05 11:03:37 EST

Blower Bearings: Ron, the balls are only 1/3 of the bearing. Although wear often shows on them first the races they run against also wear. You have repaired the bearings, not replaced them. However, this is much better than doing nothing at all.

Yes, both fractional and metric size bearing balls are readily available from a number of suppliers including McMaster-Carr.

Note that these are adjustable bearings. The nuts on the ends of the shaft adjust the backlash in the bearings. Normally on this type bearing supporting worm gears (which have critical spacing issues of their own) you want a VERY slight preload on the bearings. If you overtighten them you can damage the races by embedding the balls into them. So TLC is required.
   - guru - Monday, 11/28/05 11:17:58 EST

Vice Nuts:

If you make a new nut out of brass, and are using a new acme threaded rod, you can make a tap out of part of the threaded rod to tap the nut, use lots of oil and do it carefully.
   - Hudson - Monday, 11/28/05 11:31:32 EST

Wrought Iron: you can refine your coarse wrought iron by cutting, stacking and forge welding and drawing it back out to size; repeat as necessary.

My swordmaking friend had a custom heat treat furnace, vertical, round bore not too large to lower chimney effects, inert atmosphere. worked a treat for large thin blades.

A hardy is one of the simpler smithing tools to make and a good beginner project for someone who wants experience working with high carbon steels. I've made a couple from jackhammer steel including one that was the broken off tip that just needed the shaft drawn down to fit the hardy hole on my anvil.

Dodge; are you sure it's Manganese and not a manganese steel alloy? I'd look in the ASM handbook for information on the working of it.


   Thomas P - Monday, 11/28/05 11:56:27 EST

A-36: Matt, There should be no loss of strength from heating A-36 to forging temperature and letting it normalize. However, the highest strength is achieved by heating until it just becomes non-magnetic (a low red) and then letting it air cool. This results in the finest grain structure without hardening. This normalizing step is often recommended for forgings to reduce stress and reduce grain growth that may have ocurred at forging heat.

Normalizing is short of annealing (dead soft) and is what you want in structural steels. Strength is measured in many ways and in structurals you want flexibility and ductility. You and to be able to twist the part as far as possible and not have it break.

A-36 can be cold formed or worked at any temperature above the blue brittle range and below burning. 1,000°F to 2,300°F is the normal working range but you should stay in the red and not work too cold.
   - guru - Monday, 11/28/05 12:02:46 EST


Guru, I really appriciate the info.
   matt - Monday, 11/28/05 13:29:14 EST

I have an old ranch anvil that I bought, thats jacked up to say the least, the face it torn up bad, deep gouges 1/8 to 1/4 " bad, the edges of the main working surface are chipped bad to, if anything what can be done, resurface, weld a new plate??? Any info would be great thanks.
   matt - Monday, 11/28/05 13:41:15 EST

question - ive got a 5 gallon bucket of air riviter rivit sets, the large ones and was going to make some hardies from some that i have doubles of, once i forge them to shape and dress how or what should i do to heat treat them back to their original hardness?
   - jeremy k - Monday, 11/28/05 13:51:35 EST

would A6 be a good steel to fold with O1 to make a large knife/small sword or seax?
   JLW - Monday, 11/28/05 14:32:42 EST

Matt: If you will send me a photo or two I will give you my opinion. Sounds like a rework may be only way to make it usable again.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/28/05 14:36:25 EST

Jeremy, See our FAQ's about Junk Yard Steels. They are obviously the right kind of steel but the heat treating you will have to do by trial and error. See the FAQ.
   - guru - Monday, 11/28/05 14:58:23 EST

JLW, if you can get A6 to weld to 0-1, which is doubtful outside a sealed atmosphere, the different hardening rates would probably make it crack. In general, when doing pattern-welding, stick with steels with similar quench rates, i.e. somehting that can be quenched in the same medium. A- and D- and S- series steels are air-hardening and almost stainless, O-1 is oil hardening. O-1 and L-6 is a popular mix, as is 1075/1080 and 15N20. These both result in high contrast due to the nickel content of the L6 and the 15N20.
   Alan-L - Monday, 11/28/05 15:12:06 EST

A6 and O1 laminated steel: JLW, the primary purpose of laminating steels is usualy to intersperse hard and soft to produce something tougher than the hard steel alone. You have two tool steels so you have missed this purpose. They are both overkill for the purpose as well. Combinations of this sort usualy include wrought iron or mild steel as the soft material.

The secondary purpose is to produce patterns visible in the welding. Usualy you want steels with significant alloying ingrediants such as nickle to produce a more obvious pattern and color when etched. O1 and A6 have nearly the same small amounts of chrome and nickle and would produce no color or etch difference other than possibly the decarbonized weld boundries. The alloy steel can be either the high carbon or the low carbon steel it makes little difference. Nickle alloys make the brightest contrast.

When making laminated steels you must have a purpose and then a plan. Just randomly picking steels does nothing. To design your own laminated steels you need a good steel reference like the ASM Metals Reference Book. This includes alloy constituants and heat treating information on all common AISI/SAE and ASTM steels as well as non-ferrous alloys.

When you design your laminated steel it helps to know how to heat treat each steel so that you can work out a plan that includes both steels. It takes some study and logic, not random guessing.
   - guru - Monday, 11/28/05 15:20:32 EST

What about a maraging alloy like Vasco 300? I have heard that nickle gives a nice contrast and I have a couple of pieces around.
   JLW - Monday, 11/28/05 15:21:23 EST

Caught between replies. I thought that A6 ( I think that s what we have in large amounts in welding class) was a low carbon steel. I need to look it up again. The Vasco is for most purposes non-hardening and heat treatment shouldnt change it anyway. It's toughness and flexability should be a plus in a larger blade with a more brittle steel like O1. I think.
   JLW - Monday, 11/28/05 15:25:29 EST

Has anyone every repaired a small diesel crankshaft that was broken in half? is it possible? if so who could do that?
   Bob Sikes - Monday, 11/28/05 16:19:34 EST

Oh, wait: I think I remember your A6 in welding class was actually A-36, or plain mild steel. It'll work fine with O-1, but not be a really high contrast. You might want to ask that question over on knifenetworks.com in the damascus forum, that's what it's there for.

The modern trend in pattern-welded steel is to have both alloys fairly close in carbon content and heat-treat needs, thus the booming popularity of 15N20 as the bright line in the pattern. 0-1 will etch to a dark gray, as will A-36. A-36 is pretty variable in nickel, and everything else, actually, so there's no telling what you'll get.

The other concern for a performance blade is to have all alloys that form part of the edge be hardenable. Dunno about the Vasco in that regard. There used to be a trend of using 1095 and pure nickel sheet to get a high contrast, but pure nickel is pretty soft and is thus now frowned upon.
   Alan-L - Monday, 11/28/05 16:42:09 EST

Bob, Most crank shafts that break are cast iron and cannot be repaired. It MIGHT be possible to repair a forged steel crank shaft by welding and remachining but it would be a BIG job. After welding it would need to be heat treated before machining. In order for everything to align perfectly all the journals and fits would need to be build up by welding and all those surfaces remachined both to the correct diameter but to the right throw and lateral position.

Unless the crank is absolutly not available new or used AND the engine worth a great deal it is not an economical repair.

A racing engine machine shop MIGHT do such a job.
   - guru - Monday, 11/28/05 16:45:05 EST

Bottle Opener. I just made a bottle opener out of a bar. It is the "reverse" type which grabs at the scruff of the neck (base of skull) rather than under the chin, speaking figuratively. It looked like it fit a regular beer bottle pretty well, but it had trouble on one of those large wine bottle like raspberry beer bottles. This kind of bottle is difficult to open with the hook type (under the chin) bottle openers that are built into crank bottle openers. So I whipped out my homemade opener, and it quickly opened the bottle. Unfortunately, it also pulled a partial ring of glass off the top lip of the bottle. It was a good thing the bottle was corked, else the beer would have been lost (tragedy). Is the hook lip on the opener too aggressive? Is this a typical failure mode of a beginner-made forged bottle cap remover? New item for me: I guess I assumed that these were simple.
   EricC - Monday, 11/28/05 17:21:18 EST

Machine Shop Trade Secrets

I DID review it. . . my brain is slipping. . .
   - guru - Monday, 11/28/05 18:41:07 EST

Norm Larson: There were some questions here a week ago about Norm so I gave him a call to ask how he was doing. He seems to be doing fine and business as usual. He HAS had PC trouble, particularly e-mail problems. I would bet on viruses but you never know. His ISP is supposed to be looking into it. If you need to contact Norm just give him a call. His number is listed on the Getting Started page.
   - guru - Monday, 11/28/05 18:44:42 EST

Hey, i was wondering if you can use the big coil springs off of a truck as steel for a knife blade, probably only like, half a coil, so, about 8 inches when straightened,

and a fully straightened one thats 40 inches as a sword,

also, if im doing this, how do i temper it so that the sword has flex, and the knife doesnt shatter ?


also, i have a 6X 8 X 25 inch block of tempered steel , stuck into a block of concrete, as an anvil,

and i use a charcoal ground forge,

   Snape - Monday, 11/28/05 20:50:07 EST

I would like to make a new Fire screen for my fireplace. I am having trouble locating the actual metal screen material. Does anyone know where to get the Woven Screen material?
   Sean Alexander - Monday, 11/28/05 21:35:34 EST

I have a pair of unused swage blocks made by Wallace Yater from Boonsboro, Maryland in the mid 1980's.

Any idea what the going selling price of them is today?

   Steve - Monday, 11/28/05 22:01:35 EST


Those swage blocks are of no value at all. In order to avoid owning something so worthless, you should immediately send them to me. Since I am the only blacksmith inmy area, no one else will know I won't be embarassed. I'm only doing this for you because I really care about you. (GRIN)

Those are some of the best swage blocks ever designed and they are worth whatever the market will bear. At a big gathering of smiths, you might get a high dollar for them.
   vicopper - Monday, 11/28/05 23:51:54 EST

Springs and Blades: Shnape, See our JunkYard steel FAQ and our heat treating FAQ. See our Sword Making FAQ if you are looking for information resources.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 00:51:46 EST

Screen: See McMaster.com (McMAster-Carr) . They have every type of screen imaginable.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 00:52:42 EST

Wally Yeater blocks: Hey, That VIcopper guy is way down in de-Islands where shipping is outrageous. Now I'M just down here in NC and could come pick them up to get them out of your way. . .

Although his blocks are out of production Wally is still around. What made his blocks some of the best was A) they were a decent pattern, B) they were hand finished all over.

Recently a pair sold for an embarassingly high amount considering the patterns are still around. . .

You should REALLY donate them to the CSI/anvilfire shop collection. . . ;)
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 00:58:41 EST

Hey all,

question, if I buy a NC Tool CO. gas forge Whisper Daddy 2/W end ports, can I modify it by adding a rear port for larger stock say 2"x6" without losing any performance, I need to save cost by not buying a hugh forge right now, I recently heard somewhere that the NC forges could be modified.
Let me know the verdict.

Thanks Matt
   matt - Tuesday, 11/29/05 01:22:28 EST

Steve: On the NAVIGATE anvilfire linkage, go down to the advertisers and see if Centaur Forge, Kayne & Son or Piel Tool Co. has blocks similar to yours.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/29/05 03:53:45 EST

Third Port: Why? The two end ports let you put a bar all the way through the forge and the door opens the entire front. However, if you really want that mod NC will probably do it for you since the forges come with end ports in one model and a back port in the other. With all this extra vent you should get the four burner model.

The floor of the NC forges is hard refractory. The rest is formed light weight refractory like Kaowool and can easily be cut if you want to modify the forge. See our iForge demo on refurbishing an an NC gas forge.

The only modified forge configuration I have seen that made sense was on a Swan. The owner cut the end ports so that they opened all the way to the front of the forge making the body a C shape. The door closed off the front of the notches so they were not too big. This resulted in a forge with a door that long work with a heavy middle element that would not pass through end ports would fit. If I were manufacturing forge this is the geometry I would use as it has the greatest flexibility of any forge other than loose stacked brick with a door.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 08:02:50 EST

Guru, Re: Champion 400 blowers. You are correct in saying the balls are only 1/3 of the bearing assy. There were several balls missing when I acquired the thing and there is not enough room on tht end of the shaft to properly tighten the lock nut on the fan shaft. It appears the fan may be too far up on the shaft at the front and doesn't leave enough room at the back. Is there a source for a diagram? I don't want to break anything but I want it to be in good working order before it goes to the next generation. This one has a 1902 patent date.
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 11/29/05 08:56:08 EST

Ron perhaps the most important illustration in the Champion blower and forge catalog would have been the cross section engraving. However, it was reproduced too small and the density blacked out many of the important details.

The patent drawings are much like modern drawings in that they show only what the subject of the patent is, not necessarily how the actual device is constructed. However, they show the late blowers with the fan threaded to the shaft with a lock nut to hold it in place and the bearing races also threaded onto the shaft and locked in place with a lock nut. I do not know how true this is. There are a variety of Champion patents that describe different adjusting methods including set screws and lock nuts at the shaft ends.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 09:41:25 EST

Wallace Yeater Blocks: Ken, The Wally Yeater paired block set has been highly collectable since he stopped making them about 10 years ago. They were the best block on the market then and still are. One of the unique features of his block pair was the conical depression that extended from one block to the other, making them a set. They also had graduated through holes which most do not have today.

When he quit making them he thought he had a deal with Centaur to buy his popular patterns. Instead Centaur had their own patterns made which were similar to but not nearly as nice as Wally's, nor hand finished. Since then I think Laurel foundry has bought his patterns but has not cast any.

The fact that he hand finished his blocks and cones made them the LAST of a kind. Blocks and cones made in the 19th and early 20th century were cast using fine facing sand which resulted in very smooth surfaces "smooth as a baby's bottom". These were ready to use as delivered. Today's blocks (ALL makes) are cast using the normal coarse sand needed for heavy parts and are unfinished. This results in a marginal block with a coarse surface that needs many hours of finishing to be usable. The last time I hand finished a couple blocks it took all day for each one and I used up most of $100 worth of abrasives (1984 prices).

Wally did what was right to make a decent block from the castings he was getting. He quit because it was a horendous amount of grinding and finishing. The fact IS that foundries could produce the same quality as 100 years ago for very little extra cost. However, in the small quantities that blocks are being made you cannot get a foundry to do more than to cast them and cut off the sprues.

It is a sad time when modern foundries will not turn out work that was common 100 years ago.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 10:30:29 EST

Modified NC Forge:

Well, I need to heat up a piece of steel .5" x 5"w x 18"L for custom angle iron supports I didn't think that model would fit something that big. So if I modded a 2" x 6" mini port through the back I could fit the steel all the way through to heat the middle. I'm trying to save a little $$$ on this job but maybe shouldn't, get a bigger forge.

   matt - Tuesday, 11/29/05 11:52:43 EST

Matt, would this be a "weedburner and stack of firebricks" type of job?

Guru; wasn't the CSI/Anvilfire collection going into mothballs in a nice *DRY* climate---like Lemitar NM---while you were spending time down in the *wet* central america?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/29/05 12:17:14 EST

Sounds like time for a big rose-bud torch to me. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 12:17:55 EST

Yeah maybe so , as long as the steel will get hot enough, this piece is a structural component, we don't need it fractured at the bend. Good ideas though, probably what I'll do. Thanks all.
   matt - Tuesday, 11/29/05 12:45:43 EST

My name is Gerald Rubin, commonly called Gar.

I am a 17 year old black male living in Knightdale, North Carolina, who like many people his age dreams of a meaningful, fulfilling, wealth-prosperous and entertaining career.

In my journeys to narrow down the career field of choice that I would like to pursue, the possibility of a career in metallurgy has come up. Truthfully, I'd like to pursue a central career in metallurgy and learn about/practice bladesmithing, blacksmithing, gunsmithing, welding, metalcraft, carpentry, leatherworking, etc. as a [worthwhile] lifetime's journey.

But, also [un]like many people my age, I have realized that the formation of the dream is much easier than the formation of the reality and that I am ignorant as to how to START on this half-born path of mine.

For one thing, whenever I search for "metallurgy" on the Government's Occupational Outlook Handbook I get back materials engineer and/or metallurgical engineer and/or metallurgical technician but never actually a METALLURGIST; even though the article [link down for some reason] expresses that these occupations are different. Am I missing something?

Another point, is that I'd like for my metallurgy career to be intertwined with my aforementioned wanted hobbies... I.E., if I wanted, I could without fear of financial restraint and good knowledge construct my own metallurgical lab at home to extract and improve metals to be used in bladesmithing or gunsmithing [I'd want to be able to create a quality product from the beginning phases as a piece of metal or ore to the final phases as a work of art]. Is this within the realm of possibility?

And [probably not] last but not least, I hear of many metallurgical engineers that end up working in aluminum or steel refineries/companies, and enjoy their work [and the pay ] but do not expand out into a field of hobby such as bladesmithing, etc... Does that mean that my aforementioned wanted hobbies are little more than prematurely attached dreams to an already prematurely judged professions?

I thank you, fellow Swordforumites for listening to my concerns, and if you choose so, answering them. I'll readily admit that I may be a 'little' unrealistic in my desires, and am appreciative of any effort that is put forth to educate me about the reality of accomplishing them.

-With admiration and much hope, Gar

[Post Note: I have been to a couple of ABANA meetings, but besides a general introductory to the great folks that make up the North Carolina Blacksmithing Community, my knowledge of the actual process of blacksmithing is "Aloe Vera is a great burn soother." [I found this out personally. :D]]
   Gerald Rubin Jr. - Tuesday, 11/29/05 13:20:22 EST


My name is Marty Tountas, I am helping John Lamonica put his website

together and have a link to your site from our link page. Can you let me

know if you can add our website to your page. We sport the oldest working

blacksmith shop in Chicago and the steel foundry has been here since 1891. My tel # is 773-343-4500 or you can reply to

this email.


A very simple menu will show you the links page. Thanks and you can add me

to your events calander.

Marty Tountas @ ButlerStreet Foundry
   Marty Tountas - Tuesday, 11/29/05 13:32:41 EST

Pricing: An adage is something is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. What something similar to it is selling for today acts as a baseline if nothing else. Sometimes is it hard to factor in bragging rights. For example, "I have a set of Wallace Yeater swage blocks".
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/29/05 13:59:47 EST

I'm planning to build a 4' x 10' layout table. What's a good thickness for the top? Is 1/4" beefy enough? Also, what is the best option for the support structure? Square tubing, angle, pipe, hmmm? Thanks in advance.
   Mike Hill - Tuesday, 11/29/05 15:33:05 EST

Allan Lind - One other possible issue. An older smith was telling tales of his apprenticship, and how he was taught in the same manner as his teacher was. If he was doing a taper, he was forcibly corrected if he didn't taper down FROM the tip, rather than down TO a tip.

His instructor had trained and worked on wrought. On the modern steels, it didn't matter, but apparently on the wrought, if you tapered TO the tip, the grains were prone to separate. He, in the know-it-all phase of his youth, was shocked to discover that he had been harshly corrected over a technique that "didn't matter on the modern metals..."

So, I don't know how you do your tapers, but you may consider working from the tip back during your initial tapering. As Guru indicated, it may just be the wrought, so It may not matter. It's just something else to consider.
   Monica - Tuesday, 11/29/05 16:11:20 EST

Mike Hill,

My layout table is 3-1/2 by 7 feet with a 3/4" thick top and 4x4x3/8" angle frame with 3" sch 40 pipe legs. It works okay, but is a tad light at times. Also, if I did it again I would allow for at least 5" overhang on the top for convenient clamping area. I only have about half that, and it is too little sometimes.

If you make a 4 by 10 table with a 3/4" thick top it will end up about 1500# total weight, which is about enough to sit still when you start wrenching something into position on it for clamping or welding. That mass really pays off, which is why big Acorn tables are so popular. Okay, all those holes for bench dogs are a plus, too.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/29/05 16:39:08 EST

ReChampion blower. I just tried to take mine apart to see if I could decrease the oil flow down the propellor shaft. The end nut was so tight I couldnt budge it and all I could steady it with was the propellor blades. I certainly dont want to break it. Any suggestions besides "oil is cheap compared to parts for a 100 year old machine."?
   JLW - Tuesday, 11/29/05 16:59:03 EST


A good nut and bolt loosener is B'LASTER brand, available at auto supply places. It may not loosen the nut overnight, but keep after it little by little. Patience.


Nothing wrong with trying to be a Renaissance Man, a U.S. usage, meaning a person talented in more than one area. For example, Cheng Man Ching, a master of tai chi chuan, was also a master of Chinese Medicine, calligraphy, poetry, and painting. He was called "The Master of Five Excellences".

I'm a smith, and I neglected the hard sciences when I was in school. Now, I miss them. I would suggest attacking such things as physics, chemistry, and mathematics while in school. Try googling universities to find out about the metallurgical curricula. Their catalogs will explain what is offered. Nowadays, instead of majoring in "metallurgy", a number of universities have offerings in "materials", so you would also learn about things other than metal.

Ref your other interests, I would approach them as time permits. Summer courses at craft schools might be a route to go, places such as Penland, Penland, North Carolina, or John Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, North Carolina.


I teach to taper from the end "backwards" to control the length of taper. A story of the apprentice getting kicked in the rear (literally) by a journeyman for drawing towards the point was told to me by Harry Jensen. He was apprenticing in Denmark and working with wrought iron in the 1940's.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/29/05 20:02:20 EST

Metallurgy, Metalurgist: Gerald, Metallurgy is the science of metals, how metals behave and the creation of new metals (alloys). On one hand it is very technical and on the other (creation of new alloys) is is purely experimantal. Scientific analysis of metals is a tedious business and is an important part of engineering. This is what metalurgists do.

The rest of metalworking is full of specialties that can generaly be lumped under blacksmithing. Blacksmiths start with the rough forgings that they are known for and often produce finely finished parts that may include many aspects of machining. Blacksmiths also do a lot of their own heat treating which is often the purvue of specialists and metallurgists.

In a different era the universal metal worker was known as a mechanic because he had knowledge of all things mechanical.

In a recent era the "general blacksmith" was known to do forgings of all kind as well as make wagon parts, shoe horses, make locks and all other kinds of metal work. In reality this type of smith was a frontier blacksmith who's wide range of skills were needed due to a lack of skilled workers and established specialty shops. In the old world these had long been specialties.

We have recently had several discussions about how swords and armor were not made by ONE talented worker but many specialists. Today there is a tendancy for ONE worker to do an entire piece. That requires a wide ranging education that spans art, history, engineering, metalurgy as well as the hand skills of blacksmithing, bladesmithing, patternmaker and jeweler. The result is the equivalency or actuality of a doctorate in field. Formal education is often combined with independent education, specialized schooling and apprenticeships.

Note: This is not a sword forum. They are another organization.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 20:03:49 EST

Guru; I pointed Gerald over here because he wanted to talk with some metallurgists about career options and how they would work with smithing. In particular---HEY PATRICK!

I think he just copied over his post on the swordforum and forgot to edit it.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/29/05 20:10:28 EST

This question is more an oxy-acetylene related. I was wondering what danger(s) if any exist pertaining to the warnings on gauges "use no oil". I had a friend who had cleaned out a regulator and was using carb cleaner/ WD-40 to clean it out with. Is this now a dangerous regulator to use? TIA jappee
   jappee - Tuesday, 11/29/05 21:18:44 EST


Try Southern Illinois University. I think it is Champaign/Urbana or possibly Carbondale. They have an outstanding metallurgy program and materials programs. Power hammers, anvils, destruction testing, design, and the whole nine yards...Ken
   simmonsk - Tuesday, 11/29/05 21:27:53 EST


If that is an oxygen regulator, it is now a bomb waiting to go off. Pure O2 and any hydrocarbon become explosive under pressure.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 11/29/05 21:33:32 EST

I want to second what vicopper said about the regulator.

I'm a retired Fire and explosion investigator and I have seen several in that condition that exploded/burned when the Oxygen was put to them. DON"T use it.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 11/29/05 22:24:10 EST

I learn a great deal from reading everyones wonderful posts.

Frank I got a kick from your post...BOG
"I teach to taper from the end "backwards" to control the length of taper. A story of the apprentice getting kicked in the rear (literally) by a journeyman for drawing towards the point was told to me by Harry Jensen. He was apprenticing in Denmark and working with wrought iron in the 1940's."

I have worked and learned many trades with people like that. My recommendation is to be slow to speak and quick to listen. When someones kicks you for an honest error. Remind them that next time they will have a wooden stump to walk with....LOLOL
   burntforge - Tuesday, 11/29/05 23:07:20 EST

thanx for the info. I had thought this presented the conditions for an explosion hazard and yes it is the oxygen regulator. You have stopped a serious incident from occurring and I thank you jappee
   jappee - Tuesday, 11/29/05 23:10:52 EST

Materials Research: This is a hot button topic because it often relies on government funding (or lack thereof). It is an expensive business and big companies used to foot the bill. However, most of the "easy" discoveries have been made so developing new materials has become more and more expensive, thus the government funding.

Why is materials research important? Just look at what it has brought to us in the past, baklite, micarta, nylon, rayon, polyester. . all those things needed to make radial tires which also use both natural and synthetic rubber. Silicon chips and synthetic saphire necessary for LASERS used in evrything today from pointers and LASER torches to DVD's. . .

In metals we have thousands of alloys that include air quench steels, low temperature solders, metals that melt at body temperature as well as metals that expand when they freeze. We have memory metal and an almost infinite series of bronzes and aluminiums.

What we have is just the tip of the iceberg of what a technological society needs. Our future will depend on super conductors, lightweight nuclear shielding and things out of science fiction like "transparent aluminium" and metals or ceramics that can withstand the temperatures of nuclear fussion. Metals that make more efficient batteries or fuel cells for vehicals, more efficient power transmission, better surgical implants. . .

The thing that makes experimental metalurgy expensive is that it is purely experimental and there is a huge number of variables. One of the variables is the simple proportion of ingrediants in an alloy. This results in hundreds of combinations of only two metals that may all have different properties. Add a third metal and you have well over 10,000 combinations and a fourth and you have millions. In practice the variations in the mix of high tech alloys is very small increments making a larger number of variables. When you apply this to the fact that there are 26 alloyable metals the possibilities are endless.

SO. . what is so hard about that? There is no science of prediction for alloy properties. It is all trial and error. One NASA metalurgist told me that we are still in the "heat it and beat it" era of metallurgy. . . A batch of metal is created, poured and hammered into a bar, then tested for workability, stength, conductivity, heat transfer and other physical properties. Sometimes methods must be devised to mix the metals as they often do not just mix. Sometimes they must be added as a compound that seperates under heat or must be combined in a vaccume. . . Every possible combination. We have come a long way in this regaurd but it is still a trial and error field. With nearly infinite combinations there will always be untested possibilities.

IF the science of metallurgy could be advanced to where we could predict the properties of alloys then we could simply ASK for the perfect alloy for a specific purpose.

Besides alloys we now have high tech metal ceramics with non-metalic elements and rare substances like Buckyballs. Powdered metal technology lets us put together pseudo-alloys of mixtures not possible by other methods.

Materials research is the key to technological advancement in hundreds of areas and ways yet defined. Metallurgy is a big part of that research.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/29/05 23:15:15 EST

I want to make kicksled runners about 7 feet long 3/16" x 1 1/8" there is a curve of 10" dia on one end. They need to be spring steel. Do I start with mild steel and temper it? There are pictures at www.kicksled.com similar to what I want to do.
   - Andy - Wednesday, 11/30/05 00:19:11 EST

I want to make kicksled runners about 7 feet long 3/16" x 1 1/8" there is a curve of 10" dia on one end. They need to be spring steel. Do I start with mild steel and temper it? There are pictures at www.kicksled.com similar to what I want to do.
   - Andy - Wednesday, 11/30/05 00:20:05 EST

re sled runners.....
Mild steel is mild steel. It will not become spring steel.

Now why do the runners need to be spring steel?
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/30/05 02:19:08 EST

Re:Thomas P/manganese,
I would guess its probably an alloy. It acts very much like stainless. Non-magnetisc and impossible to cut with a gas torch. We can only cut it with plasma cutting. Band saw just wears the teeth off LOL.
   Dodge - Wednesday, 11/30/05 02:48:39 EST

Ken: That's great! Thank you very much. Now, how do I reimburse you?
   Koomori - Wednesday, 11/30/05 09:12:38 EST

O2 regs and dirt.

You need three things to get fire...fuel, an oxidizer (O2 is one of the best) and heat. The more you have of one, the less you need of the others and in an O2 rich environment things that we wouldn't normally think of as fuel will burn real well (and somewhat violantly) needing very little heat to set the whole thing off. A very small amount of heat from partical impingment is enough.

We clean and prep regulators and tanks for use with pure O2 for scuba. We use a multi-step process to clean and inspect and use O2 compatable parts and lube. Since we don't work in a clean room things are never totally clean so when filling or using we take steps to reduce the potential for heat by using correct plumbing, oporating valves slowly and filling slowly.

It's not all that complicated but if you're not trained in it you're probably best off taking it to some one who is.

   Mike Ferrara - Wednesday, 11/30/05 10:01:06 EST

GAR: I think I saw a place called Farmingdale.edu that had some good info on metallurgy and materials in a practical program. Might be worth a look. http://info.lu.farmingdale.edu/depts/met/
   JLW - Wednesday, 11/30/05 11:34:33 EST

The runners need to be spring steel cause the higher the carbon content the easier they'll slid over ice and snow.
   JimG - Wednesday, 11/30/05 12:07:20 EST

Kick Sled Runners: Andy, These are a hardened steel for abrasion resistance and stiffness. After bending the steel a large part like this will need to be heat treated by a professional with a big enough furnace and quenching tank. In large quantities this probably only costs about $5 per runner. Individualy. . .

Now, on the other hand all steel is springy, especially when work hardened like cold drawn steel. If that is what you are using and you do not heat it to bend then it will be fairly stiff and springy.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 13:04:18 EST

O2 and Oil Actually you need no heat. Oxidation occurs at room temperature. Under the high pressure of an oxygen cylinder and pure oxygen the oil will ignite and produce its own heat.

Kerosene (the primary constituant of WD-40) and LOX was the first liquid rocket propellant. . . No ignition is necessary, just mix the two.

An oxygen regulator soaked in kerosene should be destroyed so that nobody will try to use it in the future. Unless it is completely dismantled and cleaned with freon, tric or carbon-tet to remove all traces of oil before reassembly the it may always be a bomb waiting to happen. The expense of the solvent, cleaning and rebuilding would be more than the item is worth.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 13:13:39 EST

I have been given a coal forge and find that the fire pot is much too large (it could easily take a 5 gallon bucket of coal to fill it) it seems too deep as well. what would be the best way to build up the fire pot to make it smaller and more efficient and how deep should it be?
   dale - Wednesday, 11/30/05 13:15:39 EST

Dale, Find a smaller brake drum to set inside the big one and a short piece of pipe to extend the blast up to it. If you bring the whole mess (less the hood) up here on a weekend we can cut a steel disk to fit inside the existing drum and set the smaller drum into it. That will give you a smaller firepot and a hearth shelf around it. Or you could just fill in the big drum with firebrick and morter to create a smaller fire space. You'd still want to extend the blast with a piece of pipe though.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 11/30/05 13:51:47 EST

I've got a customer who wants relatively small blades made out of 315 stainless. I've never worked with it before. I plan on doing stock removal. More than anything I need heat treating specs. Does it act like 440 or 10 series, or is it really goofy stuff?
   Will Baity - Wednesday, 11/30/05 14:52:19 EST

How crazy would it be to try to use a rosebud torch to melt the small amount of brass that would be needed to cast a knife guard, sword furniture, scabbard parts? generally it would be only a couple of ounces at a time. Wouldn't it be easier than building a bucket or freon tank furnace and propane burner or twyer/blower etc.
   JLW - Wednesday, 11/30/05 16:03:29 EST

415? SS Will, My ASM Heat Treaters Guide does not list a 415 stainless. It lists 414 and 416. Both are Martensitic straight chromium stainlesses. 416 has Phosphorus and Sulfur added for machinability. 414 has nickle added for increased corosion resistance and "mechanical properties".

There is a 416 and 416Se. Type Se has selinium added to further improve machinability. It is considered another type of 410 SS. Capable of hardening to 42HRC or slightly higher. Can be martempered.

All heat treating requires a protective atmosphere (vacuum, inert gas or nitrogen). Heat slowly to 1700 to 1850°F, soak for up to 30 minutes, oil quench. temper at 400 to 1400°F. Cryogenic treatment improves this steel. Temper (again) immediately after.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 16:09:19 EST

Torch Melting: JLW, This is done all the time. You need all the same tools other than the furnace, crucible, crucible tongs, flasks, sand or plaster. If doing lost wax you REALLY need a burn out furnace.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 16:16:39 EST

Frank, Much better way of explaining what I was saying, thanks. The man in question (I am really bad with names) was shoeing horses for the army in WWII, so that gives an approximate time frame for his training.
   Monica - Wednesday, 11/30/05 17:46:10 EST

Guru, I think you misread. That was 315 Stainless, not 415.
   Monica - Wednesday, 11/30/05 17:47:13 EST

Will Baity: If 315 is similer to the other 300 series stainless steels I'm familier with, then it's not heat treatable. The best you'd be able to do is to work harden the edge but it'd still be a poor substatute for a real knife. Try to talk him into using another steel, and if he still wants the 315 I personally wouldn't put stamp my name on it since it'd be an inferior product.
   AwP - Wednesday, 11/30/05 18:09:14 EST

Was he talking about 316? (Which, as mentioned above, is not heat-treatable) Try 420 at least if you can't get 440.
   - Tom H - Wednesday, 11/30/05 18:17:39 EST

Whoops. . . In either case it is an odd alloy. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 20:20:47 EST

I need new blades for a Beverly #2 shear. Any suggestions or sources?
   brian robertson - Wednesday, 11/30/05 20:41:17 EST

Air Hardening Alloys

I recently purchased some new air hardened blacksmith chisels. This made me wonder what the actual process for air hardening consists of? What grades of steel such as S7 are air hardening? Thanks
   burntforge - Wednesday, 11/30/05 20:51:43 EST

Brian-- Take a deep breath and call Beverly Shear in Chicago. They will have them. They can sharpen the old ones, too, by the way. They won't be cheap. I just got new blades from those genuinely helpful, nice people for my Beverly Junior, which cost some $40 plus shipping. They don't take plastic and they don't have computers. You tell them where you live, they figure the shipping and tell you the total. You send a check and they send you lickety split the blades, wrapped as if to withstand seawater submersion.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 11/30/05 21:35:07 EST

Beverly Shear Blades: McMaster-Carr sells the shears and the replacement blades. Although McMC does not state the brand, that is what they carry.

When I bought blades for a very old Beverly they were a tad too wide. I had to regrind them to fit as the lower blade interfered with the top with the adjustment screw all the way back. The best I could determin the blade angle was 10&3176;. I am not sure if the frame had been bent or if the blade specs have changed over the years.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 22:18:32 EST

Air Hardening Steels: These are heated to the hardening point just like any other steel and then cooled on a rack so that air can circulate. Often a fan is used to create a gentle breeze. After hardening they are tempered immediately as with most tool steels. The advantage for some blacksmith tools is that some air hardening and HS Steels remain hard up to a low red heat. Tempering temperatures are often up to 1300°F.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 22:27:24 EST

Some air hardening grades of commonly used tool steels are A2, A10, and D2 which are considered "cold work steels". S7, as a shock resistant steel, is hardened in air on sections to 2.5 inches. Over 2.5 inches, oil is used until the steel becomes black. The air hardening hot work steels are H11, H12, and H13.

Don't harden on metal or in an irregular breeze. Rest the work on a material that resists heat abstraction such as fire brick, graphite, or coke.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/30/05 23:38:11 EST

Kicksled runners !
Andy,Är ni svensk ?

You will need higher carbon steel, Mild steel wont harden enough for this. Do you plan to weld on the mounting tabs for the handlebars, This will be a careful spot to make since the welding will affect the temper of the steel at this spot, then the whole thing will need heat treating again.
The Spark I made as a kid, The handlebar was attached to tthe runner with a 6mm bolt. Like your idea my runners were about 25mm tall, what left enough material where the bolt passed thru It did not weaken the runner too much.
BTW, the runners were a stainless of somekind (from the scrappile at Bryggeri Till i Östersund)
and I did not have the ability to weld stainless anyway.
I will skip the part about the chainsaw motor and spiked wheel I rigged up trying to make that thing self propelled.
Good luck with your project.
   - Håkan - Thursday, 12/01/05 02:29:46 EST

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