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

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

This is an archive of posts from November 8 - 15, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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Shop Clutter:

The primary reason I'm sort of looking forward to moving the forge into a larger structure (I should live so long) on what is now my part of the farm is the chance to do a proper layout, with good access to tools and storage. It will make all the stress and expense and labor worth it. This is, of course, after the wif gets her house built.

In the old stripping house, things grew "organically" except for the immediate forge area. It's sort of the U-boat storage system, as long as you only have to move three things or less to access a tool or stock, you're doing okay.

Rain, rain and more rain on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/08/06 00:22:44 EST

John Lowther, When using that little MIG you will find that you get a deeper and narrower puddle (penatration) but more spatter using straight CO2. Argon CO2 will result in a flatter shallower puddle with less spatter. Don't try and weave around and create a wide bead with it. Build your weld up out of smaller stringer beads joined together to get the maximum amount of penatration from each pass. T Gold's suggestion of a preheat is helpful when your machine is stretched to its limits like that.

TGold, You won't have to do anything fancy to tig braze your stainless. Silicon Bronze rod is very useful for this. Just make a good fit up and be sure your parts are clean before heating. I think Ries also mentioned using Silicon Bronze for joining Stainless a few days ago in response to another question. Keep a good eye on your arc so you don't bring the stainless to its melting point but keep it hot enough to flow the bronze. Be sure you keep a sheilding gas flow on the cooling joint- set your post flow slightly long and hold the torch in position over the joint for a few seconds when you back off the pedal.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 11/08/06 11:06:35 EST

Thanks for the welding suggestions.

I was trying to weld about 1/2" rebar to ~1/8" heavy sheet/light plate. . .

I don't remember the CO2 flow rate, but it was maybe a third of the way up the column of the flow indicator. There is very little (if any) post flow.

I'll try it again with pre-heat: I'll be heating it to red or hotter to help straighten it anyway. . .
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 11/08/06 13:01:17 EST

1/2" to 1/8" sheet should be nearly burning through the plate. However, if the plate is rusty, dirty, scaly or galvanized (SS or plated) the weld WILL NOT stick.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/08/06 14:43:41 EST

I have a Lakeside anvil about 150 lbs made by Hay-Budden (per its late serial number and other marks). It appears to be a solid steel top fixed at the waist to an iron bottom. The anvil seems un-used, as though it just came off the finishing floor. But there is a thick weld around the waist like a large 3/8 in bead from an electrode. At first I thought it was a repair, but now I think it was just unfinished. What's the likely explanation for this bead on an otherwise clean anvil? Thanks, Bruce
   - Bruce Dembling - Wednesday, 11/08/06 16:24:27 EST

hey y'all,

i have all my equipment now and i'm starting to actualy forge alot now. I have a question about making tongs. on the i forge demo for tong making it says use a 5/8" rod can oi use a 1/2" rod? and do it the same way?

Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Wednesday, 11/08/06 16:58:46 EST

Bruce. Both Trenton and Hay-Budden made LAKESIDE anvils for Montgomery Ward. Yes, at least in the case of Trenton, they went to arc welding the base to the top rather than forge welding it together. Wouldn't surprise me had H-B did the same. Matter of economics. In Anvils in America Richard Postman has a statement from a former owner of Columbus Forge & Iron Co. they didn't like the loss in the ring from doing so. H-B did go to a solid tool steel top in 1908. I'd have to go back to AIA but I believe Trenton stayed with the welded on place until they ceased anvil production.

However, I saw a Trenton on eBay with a butt-ugly waist weld. Seems like they would have at least ground it down flush.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/08/06 17:09:46 EST

Hay-Budden did arc weld quite a few of their late anvils. Ocassionaly you find one with a bad weld. Bruce Wallace had one that hanging together by the last inch of weld. . He ground it out and rewelded it.

Some of these anvils had cast low carbon steel bases but all that I have seen on Hay-Budden's were forged.

Peddinghaus anvils are made the same way. Good hardenable steel for the top and low carbon for the bottom. Depending on inventory some have the same high carbon steel top and bottom.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/08/06 17:17:22 EST

Tong Making: There are many ways to make tongs. The starting stock size is generally based on the finished jaw size desired. 1/2" (13mm) works but makes light tongs.

To make good stout tongs 3/4" square is best. Normally you forge the jaws and only draw down to where the reins are square or round. Then you weld on the reins rather than doing all that drawing. However, the drawing is good practice for a newby and makes much better tongs.

Smiths with power hammers prefer to start with large stock because it holds heat. After forging the jaws the reins can be drawn out in one heat on a small power hammer.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/08/06 17:22:51 EST

(is there anything free in this world?)...hey does anyone no how to get a smithing show idea on tv like the discovory or history channle i realy think people would be interested in it i mean i no writers need money to but hey it mite even get more people interested!!! also how much would a good anvil be and where could i get one around culpeper va.
   thomas mayhugh - Wednesday, 11/08/06 20:34:02 EST

I need a little help with my tool research here. First of all, thanks again Ken on the anvil ID help!!! Next, I have a Champion forge/blower setup (all legs under the forge pan), but the blower is un-numbered on the fan housing. Was the 400 model merely denoting the size of the blower or was the whole unit bigger, my gear housing has all the same markings as the 400. I'm wondering cause it might need a re-build in a bit (sounds a bit more like a coffee grinder than a blower at times), so I'll need to scavenge the appropriate sized parts.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 11/08/06 21:02:27 EST

Thumper, There is a very good picture of your blower on the Champion CD review. It has 400 cast in big letters. They also made a 200. Gravely gears and bearings are bad news. About all you can get are new balls for the ball bearings.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/08/06 22:21:45 EST

TV Smithing: It IS time for a new PBS show. . . There was a series called Forge & Anvil (see our review) intended for the public but is being sold to blacksmiths as a how to. The fellow that did it, Allan Rogers says it was just an introduction to the public but there was an awful lot of step by step that seems a little hokey today. But the world has changed a LOT since then.

It is also hard to please everyone. It would be great to see some real blacksmithing on a major network. Well produced exciting stuff including hand and power hammer work. But there would also be the people that want to see tours of great ironwork in cities areound the world. Then there is a difference between how-do and a serious exciting demo that captures both the public's and smiths attention. ANNND. . . you would have to have good tecnhical overview to keep the TV people and the misinformed touts in line.

Then there is the money. Someone would have to put up big bucks. . otherwise you get something like the formula stuff the History Channel cranks out that has no teeth and a LOT of amatuer (IE free) actors. . and you get what you pay for. . . You need writers with technical knowledge, good professional demonstrators, enough time with the film crew to do it RIGHT as well as a real director, then more time editing. . . Costs run tens of thousands of dollars per minute. Even private productions like the Dave Manzer and Big BLU Power Hammer video run into thousands of dollars per minute.

Time compression is a big issue. One of the best short demos I have seen on video was a Phillipeano knife maker filmed by the Childrens Network for "123 Contact". The video runs about 5 minutes. Besides traveling to the Phillipeens the filming took about a week from forging the blade to grinding, etching and assembly. The smith uses a cylindrical Oriental style box bellows and Japanese forge, does a terrible forge weld lamination of three pieces and then forges a Kris from it. It is a great, but far too brief a piece of film. They edit to what the bosses want.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/08/06 22:44:32 EST

Anvil in Northern, VA: Thomas, Just scurry on down to John Elliot's in Chester, VA (near Richmond near I95 & I64. He carries Euroanvil. Its close enough to save on shipping. And if you have not joined CVBG then do it! Great folks. Go to a meet! Next one is this weekend (Saturday) at Tom Chenoweth's shop in Richmond, VA. Directions should be on their web site.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/08/06 22:51:51 EST

If you buy the anvil John will probably deliver it to the meet. . two birds with one trip.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/08/06 22:52:53 EST

Guru, I think you misread my post, mine doesn't have "400" or "200" on the blower and I'm wondering if the gears are interchangeble or come in different sizes. I've already swapped out the original top bearings for some enclosed ones(had to rout out the centers and shim the outer walls to make a match), and the bottoms are "eh" but still working however large the brass gear is about shot.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 11/08/06 23:26:35 EST

Excuse me, I don't proof read that well, I meant "THE LARGE" brass gear is about shot.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 11/08/06 23:30:47 EST

Thumper's anvil may be the oldest known Arm & Hammer. Faint stamping on side. Circle with the arm, but with hammer worn off. Under to right can be read WROUGHT. I speculate at one time it read WARRANTED over Arm and Hammer logo and SOLID WROUGHT under it. No evidence of a serial number. Flat on bottom.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/08/06 23:34:27 EST

how would i go about making light box jaw tongs from a 1/2" X 36" round rod?
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Wednesday, 11/08/06 23:45:50 EST

I can see it now, Britney Spears is this orphan who needs a place to stay, see, and she winds up landing a gig as the scantily clad apprentice in this shop run by Sarah Michelle Gellar and Amanda Peet, the scantily clad resident smiths, and they are facing a big crisis on account of the old meanie landlord wants to hike the rent or take it out in flesh. Rich girl Jenna Elfman, also scantily clad, comes in needing some riveting done on her bicycle, and sees right off that there is a problem here. Sarah Michelle thinks the way to go is with quarter-inch rivets, but Amanda is saying she feels they should turn the shop into a Starbucks, when who should come in looking for a cuppa but....
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/09/06 00:20:23 EST

How close n size were you able to get those bearings you replaced on your blower? I recently rebuilt a Buffalo Silent 200 blower I bought and found that the bearings on the output shaft were metric despite the fact that the blower was made in the US long before the metric system came into widespread use here. I was originally going to buy some 15/32" bearings and modify them as you did until I measured the shaft with my metric micrometer and found it to be exactly 12mm. The OD of the bearing also proved to be a standard metric size at 32mm, which allowed me to use stock bearings.

I'm curious as to whether the same might be true for your champion blower. Perhaps there was a cost advantage to using metric bearings when these blowers were manufactured.
   Steven Galonska - Thursday, 11/09/06 01:33:20 EST

I went to a shop with the rod diameter and the race diameter and asked for what ever was closest. I didn't ask about whether they were metric or not and the shop did offer both calibrations. Remember, the Champion blower used the case as the outside race and it was imperfect at best when new. I was about 1-2mm off on the rod and approx 5mm off on the race. A little careful filing on the inside and shimming with plumbers tape on the outside and they worked fine. It's called "Gonzo Mechanics".....same stuff that helps you build a JYH.
   Thumper - Thursday, 11/09/06 02:05:42 EST

Andrew B: Check out the I-Forge projects. I believe three or so ways to make tongs are shown there.

On blacksmithing TV programs one was produced at the Andersonville Smithy at the Andersonville Civil War Prison site in AL. I have occasionally seen the CD set come up on eBay. Reported to be quite good.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/09/06 07:15:23 EST

I like it!
You ought to consider writing.......
(always look forward to your posts)
   - Tom H - Thursday, 11/09/06 08:22:19 EST

System de Metric: The ball bearing industry was metric very very early. Fafnir was one of the oldest (1911) in the US, then recently bought by Torrington, and now both by Timken. Prior to companies making ball bearings as a stock item they were made by the manufacturers of the product.

Gears are rarely a standard item even though we have gear catalogs. The multi-start worms in Champion blowers are special parts completely made in their factory.

Gonzo Mechanics: Well, that will get you from point A to point B with stone age machinery but not with precision gearing. When manufactured the gears in your blower had diametral tollerances of +/- .0001" and pitch spacing tolerances of less and surface curvature tolerances that required laping and hand fitting. If you improperly mesh the gears (adjust the clearance) by as much as .001" you get noisy gears. If you run them out of proper mesh rapidly wear and the noise get worse. Once gears are worn there is not much you can do. Short of stuffing the box with bannans it will be noisy forever.

Back in the 1970's I had a 1950 Chevy pickup with a 3 speed transmission. It made so much noise that you could not carry on a conversation in the cab of the truck. So I tore it down and put $50 worth of new bearings in it. This particular gear box was a bear to dissasemble and required a special tool to replace the center bearing which had a circlip in a blind hole.

After several days work and many dollars worth of parts I got it put back together and tried it out. . . . only about 10% better. So after a week or so of the noise and frustration I asked our big local auto supplier about the problem and he said. "Its probably worn out gears, we can get you a rebuit transmission for $100". So I ordered the transmission, put it in . . and the SAME exact noise! The rebuilders could not get gears either! So . . . I found out my oil supplier could get me a 1/4 barrel of 140 weight gear oil. Another $50! Ahhh. . . but that did the trick. Stuff pumped like tar but it killed about 50% of the noise which was enough to be tolerable.

I've got a beautiful old Gould and Eberhart 16" shaper that I paid $800 for. It had open gearing. I used it for a couple small jobs but on my first large job, facing a poorly cast swage block I noticed a distinct wavy pattern in the cut. It was rough enough that it was unsatisfactory in even a rough cut. So I tightened and adjusted and oiled and adjusted. . . turned out the the bull gear and pinion, the heart of the machine, was worn. Not worn out that you could see but worn such that their geometry was bad and the ram had a slight shudder from each gear tooth which showed in the work. . . The bull gear was a very special casting with a scotch yoke slide supporting the crank pin. You could have one made for about $15,000. So the shaper is on the way to the scrap yard. . .

Gears have to be right. About the limit of Gonzo mechanics on real machinery is using V-belts running on flat belt drive pullys.

I could not find a history of Fafnir but I looked over and I have Fafnir and Torrington catalogs. . . Hard to believe catalogs I once ordered from are now resources for industrial history.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 09:50:05 EST

Tom H-- Many thanks. The late, great Samuel Johnson summed it up longtime back: no man but a blockhead ever wrote, save for money.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/09/06 11:10:19 EST

I am fairly new to the trade I have a small fire-clay forge but i would like to know how to free-standing steel forge
   William Moritzky - Thursday, 11/09/06 11:11:47 EST

Andrew B. I like the three shoulder method of tong making using half-face blows. One jaw needs to have extra width to fold up the sides for the "box". You can begin the jaw shoulder and while the jaw has extra thickness, cross-peen it to gain the need width. Another route is to forge weld a strap on the back of the jaw at 90º to the jaw length. Crop to size and bend up each lip.

MILES, I second that motion. Did'ja ever think about writing professionally?
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/09/06 11:19:03 EST

I've been involved with several projects for the History Channel and produced an 18 minute historical/educational film on the Battle of Maldon (A.D. 991) which was broadcast on the History Channel, and portions of which still pop-up under “fair use” rules. (Hey! That’s our ship!)

Most of these productions are shoestring operations. Maldon took us two years and a few thousand dollars, using our own vessels and crew and the troops from the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia. It relied on the genius of David Tristan of the Longship Company, who makes his living as a television news cameraman, serving as director. Dave was able to turn our “cast of tens” and a couple of vessels and some farm fields and waterfront into armies and fleets and islands; mostly through the power of suggestion. There are many scenes where we have the same folks on both sides with a quick costume change. (At one point I, as the “Viking herald” am addressing myself as an “Anglo-Saxon thegn” from across the flooded causeway. I had the script taped to the blade of a broadaxe. :-) Our joke is that if we were given a six-figure salary and a seven-figure budget, we could have made it twice as good.

When we did some segments for HC’s “Toolbox” series, one person came down from the independent production company. He was a self contained cameraman, soundman and director. He did some very nice work, and actually made us look competent.

For the “Quest for Arthur” program, that company had a director, cameraman, and soundman/special effects/anything-else person. We ran them about in a separate vessel, and spent hours rowing back and forth across the creek so that they could get just the shots they wanted; then literally sailing into the sunset for the closing scenes. The finished production still used a lot of filler with moody cloudscapes and narration.

I think that the point I want to make, looking at this from the inside and the outside, is that it’s a lot harder to do than it looks. Preparing a good narrative, setting up the scenes, getting the right shots at the right time, finding scantily clad “assistants”, and the balance between fundamental information and “more interesting stuff” for the rest of the audience would be difficult. After you get past “draw, upset, bend, and weld” things get a little harder to communicate.

The model, of course, is Roy Underhill’s “The Woodwright’s Shop” but it is also a very wide-ranging show in its topics, using woodworking as a starting point for an investigation of several centuries of arts, crafts and technology. It even had a few good blacksmithing segments in it. Whether something similar could be done for metalwork, forging, casting, industrial, farriers, tools, techniques, arms, armor, housewares, hardware, art, science… Well there’s plenty of meat there, but it would take quite a bit of work, and most important, time and organization and travel. Lastly, it would take money, lots of money, to provide the equipment and skills and stock. As a non-profit, we were able to get much time and equipment donated; but there are always limits, and always expenses. If you’re looking to turn a profit on something, life gets even more complicated. It could be a lot of fun, but (trust me) it’s also a lot of work.

I wonder what Roy Underhill is up to lately? :-)

Nice and partly sunny on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 11/09/06 11:54:26 EST

Guru, I didn't mean to sound flip with my "Gonzo" statement. With no practical knowledge of machinery but a innate insite as to how the way things work I've managed to to make quite a few items that way and get great use out of them. My last project was a front loader for my yard tractor. Like with my JYH, I saw a pic, it made sense and I built it. Perfect, no, servicable and reliable, yes.
   Thumper - Thursday, 11/09/06 12:07:02 EST

i would love to but dang i got a detail this weekend for mcjrotc is there another after that close by?

   thomas - Thursday, 11/09/06 12:29:13 EST

Thumper, my point was that some things work and some dont. Gears generally do not unless they run very slowly. Even then primitive gears are quite noisy. On a local grist mill they had trouble maintaining the turbine bevel gears. I suspect there was no mesh adjustment left. The sound of the mill's turbine running was so loud that neighbors nearly a mile away complained. This was a cast iron gear running against a cast gear with wood teeth that was supposed to be quiet!

The problem with improperly meshed gears is that they wear very rapidly. They go from having nice involute curves to having flat sides like a rack then concave and pointy. All the time they get noisier and noisier.

The critical thing is mesh, how much clearance the gears have. Gears are never perfect and there must be some backlash between them. You want the least possible without there being a tight spot. A tight spot causes excessive wear an noise. However, if the gears are too loose they rattle and make noise. . and wear. The difference between too tight and too loose on blacksmith blower gears is about .005".

On the Champion blowers each end of the shaft has adjustment nuts and the bearing preload can be adjusted as well as the axial alignment of the worm to wheel. Again, the too tight and too loose rules apply and must be carefully adjusted.

It is a picky piece of hardware. If you want it to run quiet the adjustments must be perfect. If not the gears wear and then there is nothing you can do except put up with it until it will not run.

Yep, there are some things you can away with real caveman engineering but quiet gears are not one of them. I once motorized a wooden rope making machine with hand sawed out wooden pullies covered with rubber cement for friction. Shook and rattled like an out of balance washing machine but it made rope in a hurry!

   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 12:54:42 EST

Thomas Mayhew, Check with BGoP (Blacksmiths of the Potomac), then there is the Delaware group and the Northern Neck (noneck) group. The last have not done much but they do get together once in a while. Then there is a group over in the valley, meets in Staunton I think.

CVBG usualy has a Christmas party over near Mechanicsville but the new newsletter did not give a date.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 12:59:23 EST

The problem is not getting Miles to write. . its being his editor. ;)
   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 13:00:41 EST

William Moritzky, I am not sure what your question was. You want to make a steel forge? The best route is to start with a commercial fire pot, tuyeer and blower. Centaur Forge, Blacksmiths Depot and Pieh Tool sell the parts for forges. Blacksmith Supply sells forges with hand crank blowers.

You put the firepot in a steel table top the height to suit you and you are off and away.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 13:13:06 EST

Yeah, Miles; Mebbe WPA will come back now, and all us creative types can get work with the gubmint, doing writing, forging, painting murals, etc., just like the old days! Lessee, Hillary can play the part of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jimma Cahtah can be Franklin, B.J Clinton can be Fatty Arbuckle. See? There's something for everyone; "Each according to to his needs; each according to his abilities." (Oh, wait a minute, somebody already used that one, didn't they.)
   3dogs - Thursday, 11/09/06 13:56:42 EST

TV Smithing: I WAS going to suggest that Thomas M. find us a fat Ford Foundation grant for CSI (we ARE a non-profit that can apply for grants) to produce a series of dramatic, historical, educational documetaries on blacksmithing.

But then 3dogs made fun of me. . . ;(

OBTW, In case you missed it, the sons and daughters (figuratively) of all those Democrats you listed got re-elected Tuesday.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 15:40:24 EST

The hand of Miles writes and having written moves on----usually 1 step in front of the mob with the pitchforks and torches.

Actually I have read some of Miles' work in Smithsonian magazine. And I have visited the wing he donated to the near SantaFe Experimental Solar Temporal Observatory and scrap pile. And used sympathetic magic to try to end the drought...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/09/06 16:13:54 EST

Where can I find (on the internet) an "S" curve chart for 5160?

   - Tyler Murch - Thursday, 11/09/06 17:44:05 EST

Let's see: For caveman forging there would be Bo Hickory, who seems to have ready access to attractive, scantly clad assistants. For western town or ranch we have Frank Turley. For Colonial we have Peter Ross.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/09/06 18:08:39 EST

Thomas M,

BGOP meets in Arlington twice a month (there's only one regular meeting in December). Schedules and directions are at bgop.org. The site seems to be down right now; drop me an email if you're interested and it doesn't come up shortly. You should also know that we're revising our rules and you may be required to bring a parent or guardian if you're under 18. Email me if that's an issue and I can check before you drive all the way up here.
   Mike B - Thursday, 11/09/06 18:29:36 EST

Homemade powerhammers:

Is there any technical reason why most home made airhammers have the cylinder mounted above the tup rather than below (like the KA75)?
   Bob G - Thursday, 11/09/06 18:47:34 EST

I spent about an hour and a half today with a reporter and photographer from the Bucks County Courier Times today showing them my house, my work and my shop. I did some demos, drawing to taper, forming an S hook, did a forge weld, etc. An article will be published tommorow, if there's an internet version I'll post it. Of course I explained that it if weren't for resources like Anvilfire I wouldn't know half the stuff I know now.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 11/09/06 19:22:31 EST

Movies: Alex Bealer Blacksmith association arranged a private viewing of Bill Lishman's The Last Buffalo at the Tennessee Aquarium Imax theatre. We liked it. Had an interesting mix of blacksmithing and wildlife conservation. Hmmm... blacksmithing and wildlife. Anyone here seen it?
   Tone - Thursday, 11/09/06 19:30:02 EST

i made a pair of light bow jaw tongs today, and i used the dempsey twist style of tong making, but the part of the jaw right where it merges into the pivot part, it keeps bending when i pick things up. Does anyone know what i'm talking about and if you do is there anything i can to to fix it, or should i just start over?

thanks Y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 11/09/06 19:42:38 EST

Mr.Turley, Is the method for tong making that you describe similiar to the description in "The Blacksmiths Craft"?
   Tone - Thursday, 11/09/06 19:53:47 EST

5160: Tyler, see if the info in our Heat Treating FAQ is what you want.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:09:02 EST

BGoP: Mike, we used to host their site under one of our ???.ABANA-Chapter URL's. They moved when they got their own URL. We would have hosted it.

The Gulf Coast Blacksmiths recently lost their URL due to failure to pay their registration. It is now a link trap.

I have mentioned it before but I guess we need to send letters to all the chapters. anvilfire/CSI is willing to hold registrations for organizations to prevent this kind of thing from happening.

Usualy SOMEONE (you know - who knows?) registers the URL. The when the first renewal comes around the email address is dead and the notice goes unnoticed. Then a link trap or porn site buys the URL and points it to their content. It only takes a 24 hr. slip and then all is lost. You MIGHT be able to get the URL back for $1000 or so. . . MAYBE.

It is a problem for individuals and a bigger problem for volunteer organizations. People come and go. FOlks change their e-mails. There are several organizations that have had more than one "official" site and they couldn't say which was the REAL official site. . .

I change URL's about 4 times a year for organizations that have lost their URL and or hosting (that owned the URL).

Ask YOUR oranization who has the keys to the URL registration. If the answer is not immediate and the secretary can not confirm it from his records you are in trouble.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:09:25 EST

post vices: I have a post vice which has seen some use. No weld or grinding marks, but the jaws are no longer straight or parallel, making it difficult to clamp some things. I'm not sure if they are just worn, deformed from clamping hot material, or the edges bent back from clamping too tightly.
Anyway, I know it's bad karma to attack anvils with a grinder, but what is the thinking on vices? It is servicable now, but would be a whole lot better with straight parallel jaws - eg at the moment, it's difficult to clamp a horizonal bar tight enough to cut with a hacksaw since it only grabs in the middle. Being in australia, it is unlikely to be particularly old and I value it much more as a working tool than a collectable.
   andrew - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:09:32 EST

I'm trying to cold forming .08" thick 6061-T6 aluminum. It's age hardened to beguin with and work hardens fairly quickly. Can anyone tell me how to properly anneal this stuff?


   MikeM - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:11:10 EST

TONGS: Andrew, you may have fullered too deep or used too small of bar. The jaws from this style of tongs must be short as well to reduce the load on them. To repair it you can build up the back of the small part of the joint with a weld bead (gas, MIG, TIG).

   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:12:07 EST

Leg Vise Jaws: Andrew, left to right or top to bottom?

Top to bottom the jaws should touch at the top when closed. Depending on the size of the vise they should be parallel when clamping 1/2" to 1" bar.

To adjust this you can disassemble the vice and give it a couple wacks on the anvil. These are soft wrought iron or mild steel parts and are not too hard to adjust.

The other way is to find something to put between the arms just below the screw. Then tighten the vice and give it a wack with a hammer, test and repeat.

If the problem is right to left then the frame or the front jaw is bent. Take the screw out and replace with the largest bar or pipe about 3 to 4 feet long that will fit the hole and adjust. It should not take much.

You should not need to grind the jaws unless they are bent or worn curved.

Since it sounds like they are high in the middle then I would grind them just enough . . then be sure to radius the top edge. Keep in mind the top edges touching when closed and parallel when clamped on 1/2" to 1" stock.

Also note that blacksmith vise jaws are best when smooth, not serrated. Those that do come serrated have a very fine knurl. I would remove it even on a new vise but normally it wears off rapidly.

Also note that many vises did not have thrust washers or have lost them. A couple big washers under the screw with grease or Never-Sieze will act as a bearing and make it a lot easier to clamp tight. I like a vise that you don't have to jump on to clamp tight enough.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:27:25 EST

blacksmith classes? I'm coming to San Francisco later this month & would like to take part in the apparently vibrant US blacksmithing community. I was wondering if anybody is aware of classes or demos within a few hours drive towards the end of this month.
I am looking at
but was wondering if there was anything else available around the same time? I have spent a reasonable number of hours pounding hot iron - I'd say I'm an experienced novice.
   andrew - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:30:42 EST

The Great Nippulini THANK YOU for the credit! Hope you get a nice article.

I've had mostly bad experiances with the press and learned that you should give them a written statement to "refresh" their memory about the technical aspects of blacksmithing (it is not casting or melting metal) and how to spell my name. .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:31:54 EST

the jaws do not have a flat faces - mostly left to right. I would say they are just worn, but they still have a distinct knurl.
   andrew - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:37:43 EST


Yes, in "The Blacksmith's Craft" and in Schwarzkopf's "Plain and Ornamental Forging". It may also be found in Robert Harcourt's "Elementary Forge Practice", 1938; John Lord Bacon's "Forge-Practice (Elemantary)", 1905; and Lynn Jones, "Forging and Smithing", 1924.

If forge welding the reins, the face of the scarf is usually on the 2nd shoulder side, about 3" to 4" from the last shoulder. The scarfs on the side are less liable to break than if on "top and bottom".

Andrew B.

Bow tongs and scrolling tongs get lots of pressure applied, when used. I sprung the jaws open on my mild steel scrolling tongs (needle nose style} years ago, so I have taken to making them out of old auto coil springs. When finished forging, I simply let them air cool. I don't use the fuller and twist method.


Thick vise jaw caps of copper or brass may help the vise grip a bit better.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:44:58 EST

The BGOP site's back up (unless the fault was between my brain and my keyboard in the first place). I think we're on top of the registration, but I can say without fear of contradiction that our secretary can't confirm it from his records (grin).
   Mike B - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:45:09 EST

Air Hammer Cylinders: The KA is not the only hammer with pull down cylinders. The ORIGINAL Bull Hammer had a pull down cylinder and was a very compact little hammer. See the following:

Outdated Air Hammer Report

I have tried to get Tom T. to bring back the old Bull hammer because of its small size. It had some engineering and manufacturing problems that led to maintenance problems. However, I think these could be solved.

It is not clear in the drawing but the ram on the Bull ran on a guide column made of 2" square (maybe 2.5") tubing. The weakness was the guides. They were held inside a bent plate steel housing with rivets. If there was ANY lack of lubrication the rivit holes opened up and the guides started ratteling until they broke their end retainers. There was no adjustment and the manufacturing of the simple looking part was hornedous. A more complicated adjustable guide system would be easier to manufacture.

Our man Kiwi in New Zealand built a similar hammer and liked it a lot. The weakness was he used a pipe for the anvil. No mass and the hammer would just about a foot off the ground if not bolted down. . . On the other hand he could pick up the hammer and carry back into the shop on his shoulder!

I have anvil stock to build a couple hammer and have seriously thought about Original Bull style hammers.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:52:53 EST

I wish people would quit crapping on the press.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/09/06 21:58:27 EST

I mean, look, if you want a textbook, buy one.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/09/06 22:00:43 EST

Miles, I agree. And if you insist on printing your own textbooks, at least buy real ink (grin).
   Mike B - Thursday, 11/09/06 22:18:11 EST


One possible cause of the warping of your vise jaws is off-center clamping under pressure. Toomany people stick a piece of 1/2" bar in one end of the jaws and then reef down on the screw with all their might, torquing the jaw, the arm or whatever is the softest point.

Whenever clamping a piece in one end of the jaws, you should put a similar-sized piece between the jaws at the other end so that the pressure is equal. I make up little scraps of 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", and 1" square bar about an inch long with a tab welded on the end to form a "T". The tab is just a piece of 1/8" by 1" flat bar about 2" long to keep the piece from falling through the jaws while I position and clamp the workpiece in the other end. That way the pressure is very even and the jaws stay parallel, holding much better.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/09/06 23:07:24 EST


In the press, we crap on the internet. Sauce for the goose and all that. (grin)

You gotta admit though, the popular press hasn't been the same since the demise of Life.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/09/06 23:08:47 EST

I've been wanting a good deep texture for steel surfaces for things like the jewelry boxes I make. Does anyone have a good recommendation for a good texture?
   Arlo - Thursday, 11/09/06 23:51:28 EST

Thanks, Mike. Vicopper-- the press as I see it (and what do I, a mere rural smith, presume to know of such things?)via Poynter.com, etc. is scared to death of the Net, and well it should be. They are losing circulation, losing ad revenue, cutting city room and bureau staffs like mad. Craigslist is killing them in classified. People are getting their news off blogs, etc. LIFE the weekly got scuttled in '72 as I recall, came back in a series of special issues, then reincarnated itself as a monthly. Now it appears every Thursday in some newspapers as a supplement, a pitiful atrocity of a parody of a once-great magazine. Even worse, they haven't run one picture of a decent swage block that I have seen, much less a scantily-clad smithereen. (That's a colleen who smites.)
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/10/06 00:05:27 EST

Steel Textures: Arlo, There are numerous ways to produce textures. A lot depends on the thickness of the steel and if you are texturing before or after construction.

Hot texturing is done with roughened hammers and press or power hammer dies. Often beads of welding is run across the face of the hammer or die. This is a time when you want bad sputter balled long arc ugly welds. Then grind to an average height and adjust. Use the hammers or dies to texture hot steel.

You can also hot texture with commercial ball texture dies such as those sold by BlacksmithsDepot.

Another hot texturing method is low level burning. You do not overheat the metal but heat it long enough to scale then hammer the scale just enough to break it up then heat again with the loose scale on the surface. The scale burns in and more scaling occurs in a rough texture and with each scaling and reheat you get more and more texture. How much scale you leave and how long the reheats effect the texture.

Then there are chemical textures using acides such as in etching. One method I saw today in Metal Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht (see our review) used a mask applied by splattering thickened paint or hot tar. Then the part was heavily etched. After a couple heavy etches the etchant was applied with a brush to create a grain between the splatterd unetched islands. When the etch was satisfactory textrued and deep the mask was removed and the piece polished. The result was high polished islands like droplets on a rough grainy surface. There are infinite varieties of this method.

Then there are rust/corrosive finishes created with comon chemicals like Chlorox bleach.

I personally prefer textures applied by the craftsperson by hand using hammer and embossing tools or ball piened hammer looks. They take effort and skill and the results are unmistakably different. Polished islands of celan metal between evenly textured fields. . . A lead block is used for support for this kind of work as well as anvils and wood blocks. If you use lead it is recommended that you put paper between the work and the lead to keep from contaminating the metal and creating un expected corosion or finishing problems.

The book mentioned above has hundreds of examples of textures produced by many methods.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 00:39:21 EST

3dogs-- You are definitely onto something here: workers of the world, unite, etc. You can be the Roy Stryker of the Anvilfire Preservation Project. I want to do the section on feng shui and the smithy, or, penetration coefficients relative to lee lines. Pass me that Brunton compass... oh, and the chardonnay, too... would you? And you simply must have some of this brie!
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/10/06 00:52:10 EST

The Press, TV. . . etal, losing ground: The problem is not so much one medium taking traffic from another it is the medium being split or fractured.

One of the "big three" broadcast TV networks was recently announced as #4 as one of the new "upstart" cable networks tool its place. At one time this was unthinkable. Of course at one time there was ONLY three networks. Then PBS came along and then cable with HBO and instead of the networks competing they gave up educational children's programmig and they gave up showing movies and documetaries. . . And now you can get HUNDREDS of channels slicing up what had been ONE pie divided by 3. . . New sat tuners are good for 500 channels. . . (and still nothing to watch).
Times DO change.

The computer revolution revolutionized the publishing industry to the point where anyone with a ffew PC's, the right software and some know how could launch a special interest magazine. Now where there were dozens there are hundreds and the good old standbys are floundering.

Ford (or was it chevy) was picked off the big three auto manufacturers by Toyota. Like the TV networks there was only three on the American roads for decades (the small Euro influx didn't count). Now there are more than I can think of between Japan, Korea and China. . . Although I belive in "Buy American" and that we should support domestic industry the American auto makers shot themselves in the foot when instead of competing they just bought vehicals from Japan. . . . Japan in turn keeps its competitive edge by scraping entire factories every three years. Where do they go? Other countries in Southeast Asia . . . How do you think the Koreans suddenly were in the auto manufacturing business, and Taiwan in machinetools and. . .

Things change. Sometimes for the good, sometimes not.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 01:00:50 EST

Texturing: don't forget the method of forging on a chunk of granite for an anvil!

Press; Miles you were involved with one of the pinacles of the craft. The articles written from interviews with me have contained so many things they got *wrong* that often time they have "quoted" me saying exactly the opposite of what I did say to my great embarassment in many of the re-enactment and LH groups I am/was a member of. This is after I offered to proof their copy too!

   Thomas Powers - Friday, 11/10/06 01:02:44 EST

Thomas-- and yet... and yet... here we are, alive and well. The planet continues to spin west to east. The sun rises. It sets. So bloody what if some underpaid, overworked inkstained wretch got somepicayunething wrong? She tried, no? She cared enough to come talk to you. She immortalized you in print. Do we pillory all blacksmiths for the few who use JB Weld and Bondo? Who arc weld square tubing into cut and paste trellises and call it wrought iron? Gimme a _____in break! Let us lighten up here, brtehren. Tomorrow they wrap fish in it.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/10/06 01:51:25 EST

I almost forgot, the part of that old Marxist Walldog, Diego Rivera could be covered by our own Leftenant Rich.
   3dogs - Friday, 11/10/06 02:53:51 EST

I doubt I could get the local county weekly paper to come out to do an article. However, were I to write the article myself in the third person and submit it, then likely they would run it.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/10/06 06:27:16 EST

Haven't read it yet... just woke up all bleary eyed. Ken, my folks actually were the ones who "tipped" the newspapers off about my work. You know how parents can get. If you wrote your own, they would probably put it in the editorials.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 11/10/06 08:52:55 EST

Much More Texturing: Ah yesssss... the old textured anvil. . Someone here had mentioned casting in a cuttlefish mold. It does leave a very interesting texture.

A 20th Century effect. Leaving the steel plate on a gravel road or driveway and running over it multiple times. . .

Texturing from front and back gives you opportunities you would not otherwise have. Such as:

A warty look can be produced by punching with a small round end punch into a stiff repousse' pitch or lead block then turning the work over and driving the bumps back down slightly. The same could be done on previously textured plate then the high points (the warts) sanded smooth.

One of the most interesting modern textures I have seen was the result of coarse flycutting a texturing die face. The arcing cuts make a checkerboard or scale effect. The object of flycutting is NOT to do this but any machinst could easily create this texture with great control on demand. I saw this on some fish jewelery many years ago. Between the texturing and the press blanking they were 100% machine made but the texture was so marvelous it made them look hand made. Only a machinst would know the difference.

Another machine texture that is very subtle is one I create on surface ground parts. By letting the wheel get a little rough so that it is leaving slight tracks you then rotate the work about 60° and take another pass. The result is like a very even hand scraped checkered pattern. You cannot feel or measure this texture but it positively glistens in good light. You can often plate over such textures and preserve them in the plating.

This leads us to hand scraping. This was a technical craft at the turn of the 20th century when most prescision machine surfaces were hand finished. Hand scraping to a checked finish is typicaly done with a long file with handle that has had the end ground to a chisel edge. The finish produced is an even checker board effect to cover the random scraping that produced the perfectly flat surface. It was just a slight surface effect that should not be felt. However, I did see a fellow absolutely ruin a milling machine by deeply checking the surface. .

Then there is the good old spot finish that was so popular in the 1950's. A wood dowel with a little abrasive in the end is turned in a drill press and and pushed into the surface of the metal repeatedly in a even overlapping pattern. However dated it is still a popular finish in some areas. It can also be applied artisticaly using different size spotting and geometric OR random patterns.

Form Folding: While some of these effects would ocassionaly occur randomly Charles Newton Brain created the first new method of metal working in a milinea called "form folding". One of the areas of form folding is the production of surface effects. Take a piece of sheet metal (any thickness) and fold it in two, then fold it again at a different axis then again and agin until you cannot fold it up any more. . then open it up and flaten it out using a wood mallet or non maring tool. The creases both raised and lowered are almost impossible to remove as the metal is permanently stretched at the folds. The variations on this are infinite. Example:

1) Fold once and flatten
2) Accordian fold parallel and flatten
3) Accordian fold, flatten and then fold at an angle and flatten
4) Fold and flatten, cross fold (any angle) and flatten
5) Fan fold on radial lines and flatten
6) Fan fold the above on opposite radial lines

These methods can be applied to any thickness sheet or plate that you can manipulate. The thing to remember is that the thinner the material the less visible the raised lines and the finer the pattern needs to be. Bending can be done with machines or hand tools and the result is virtually the same.

While the results look almost randonm they can be controlled and repeated. On a simple box a X fold at some angle can create an interesting effect that makes the observer think about how it was made.

The genius of form folding is Charles Newton Brain creates various shapes that enclose space using the process. The amazing thing about his methods is that the tools (hammer or mallet and straight edge) have been available to artisans since before man first smelted metal and nobody discovered it and explored it.

So, there are LOTS of teturing choices. Various tools, machines, chemicals all to produce whatever effect you like.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 09:29:11 EST

More Form Folding: You can experiment with this with metal thin enough to fold with your bare hands like aluminium flashing or thin copper. Creasing is done with a burnisher just like folding paper. Remember that the crease must be a tight bend in order to create a good raised line.

Form folding works in any maleable metal from aluminum to zinc.

Creases can be modified by lightly hammering them flat on edge to create a two cornered fold. When flattened the results are a squared raised line. In thin stock this can be done with your burnisher. This heavily raised line can be further textured by hammering or pressing in even or random spaces.

An important tool for form folding at a certain thickness is a vise. This helpd make smooth tight creases without a lot of hammering and also when multiple folds need compressing. The thicker the material the bigger the vise until you need a press.

Because form folding can be applied to various metals and thickenesses it can be applied to everything from jewelery to public sculpture.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 09:47:39 EST

Some people call spot finish "maching turning" a easy way to do it is to use a #2 pencil chucked in a mill and using
the eraser to make the swirls. It just about the right
amount of abrasive especially on hardened parts
   - Hudson - Friday, 11/10/06 09:57:30 EST

hey y'all
i have a steel chair that i need to fix, one of the legs is bent, BUT the chair is painted, AND the bend is on the leg to close to the seat so i can't get it over my anvil.
How would y'all say i sould go about fixing it?
thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Friday, 11/10/06 10:08:25 EST

Andrew, can you say King KONG. . . Reverse the process that bent it. . .

Sometimes if you have a U or channel section you can use a C-clamp to take out the kink and that straightens the part.

Other than force produced by leverage I cannot help without being there. However, my experiance with modern steel furnitue is that trying to repair it is a pretty hopeless cause. Of course a lot depends on the original quality.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 10:32:03 EST

About textures, we could go on and on. A needle scaler leaves a light texture. I like the straight or cross peened look (or half-round fullered) as opposed to the ball peened look. Power hammer marks, carefully and purposefully left, give a contemporary feel to the work.

The local "New Mexican" newspaper will soon have a human interest story about Turley and Turley Forge. The reporter is a young woman originally from Missouri. Her father is a hobby smith, and she is acquainted with Doug Hendrickson and other BAM smiths. The photographer is a young man who was taken with the whole scene and volunteered to come out and give occasional gorilla work. We shall see. If errors there be, I laugh and wrap a fish or use as faux excelsior.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/10/06 10:34:35 EST

Hudson, I've never seen spot facing that small. I guess what I am used to seeing is the 1" and larger diameter stuff used on aircraft aluminium cowlings and panel parts.

Metalwork Technology and Practice has instructions.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 10:36:42 EST

This 1st time I saw a pencil eraser used was on the bolt of a rifle.
   - Hudson - Friday, 11/10/06 10:44:20 EST

Frank, You can always point them to your web site for facts. Hmmm. . seems there are some updates in order.

Yep, Needle scallers and hand held air hammers can produce some interesting textures.

Then there is a "brushed metal" finish produced by the roughest abrasive you can get followed by a light dusting with something finer to remove roughness.

As Frank noted there are lots of texturing methods and we could go on and on. Combinations of textures cna give a very rich appearance. Start with a brushed finish followed by form folding or hammering. . .The trick is to develope your own special texture.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 10:45:18 EST

Spot facing, or enignie turning or machine turning, or whatever else you call it, has been used,literally for centuries, on gold leaf work. For glass gilding work, we use a small wad of cotton covered with very thin chamois or velvet and no abrasive at all. The swirls can be as large or small as you wish, but need to be proportionate to the size of the area they cover.

When doing heavier stock, such as silver sheet or steel, I usually use a piece of chamois glued on a stick and charged with valve grinding compound. This gives a very bright cut with little pressure and low depth of cut. Too fine an abrasive tends to leave "smearing" of the cut, reducing the brilliance.

Then there is the matter of the pattern one follows. Straight rows overlapped by a given amount, or staggered overlaps, or circular patterns, etc. One of my favorites was to set up a hexagonal pattern and work it in sections.
   vicopper - Friday, 11/10/06 11:58:37 EST

I made a picture frame for my niece and textured it by using a cobblestone as my anvil. You can see it here: http://www.forgemagic.com/bsgallery/bsphoto0966.jpg
When done hammering, I used my orbital sander to shine up the high spots and leave the indentation oxidized.

   - Marc - Friday, 11/10/06 12:36:50 EST

I'm cold forming .08" thick 6061-T6 aluminum, trying to sink a bowl. It's age hardened to beguin with and work hardens fairly quickly. Can anyone tell me how to properly anneal this stuff?


   MikeM - Friday, 11/10/06 13:24:23 EST

On a TV program/mini-series or whatever. I rather like the approach/format in The Artist Blacksmith by Peter Parkinson. He shows some excellent completed ironwork and then shows how it was made. Same approach could be used for bronze swords or Crusade armor. Give the history of a battle and then transition into how the equipment was made. Some topics couldn't be covered, such as casting bronze cannons.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/10/06 13:38:47 EST

Hay guys, here's a link to the article. No photos though.. which is a shame because the newsprint version had a couple nice ones.

   - Nippulini - Friday, 11/10/06 13:56:08 EST

I just bought an old hand-crank blower. I was wondering if I could soak the blower to aid in the cleaning of it. What kind solvent would work the best. The type of blower is a lancaster P.A. and we already sprayed it with pb blaster to loosen it up and it works very well. Just wnat to know the best way to clean it up.
   - Erik Rookie - Friday, 11/10/06 16:47:50 EST


Heating 6061 near melting (I don't recall the actual temp.) and quenching in water will soften it. This is really "solution heat treating," and if followed by artificial aging will return the material to the T6 state. If you're curious, artificial aging just means holding the material at a specified temperature, probably somewhere around 400 F, for a few hours.
   Mike B - Friday, 11/10/06 16:48:51 EST

Thanks Mike, That explains why I could not find anything on line about it. I bet if I look up solution heat treating in my Machineries handbook when I get hom I'll find something like the follwoing...

Solution heat treat at 990 F for adequate time to allow for thorough heating and then water quench. Precipitation hardening is done at 320 F for 18 hours and air cool, followed by 350 F for 8 hours and air cooling.

Precipitation hardening probably isn't going to happen, even if I could convince the wife I need the stove on for 26 hours, the heat is unlikely to be steady enough.
   MikeM - Friday, 11/10/06 17:21:22 EST

Mike, The T-6 designation indicates it is pre hardened. Normaly this can be bent and formed in thin sections but not worked repeatedly or 3 dimensionaly. After annealing it will age harden given enough time. This is a couple years I think but varies with the temperature. A lot of industrial conditions are close to that 350. . . Aluminium plate is often stretched as well as age hardened.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 17:58:24 EST

Erik, WD-40, kerosene. . . Be sure to put some SAE 20 to SAE 30 oil in the gear box. These thiugs don't have seals and they leak. They also have irreplaceable gears so you don't want to trash them.
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 18:00:30 EST

Erik, I found an old stuck blower. Drained it overnite, then added a cup or so of kerosene, and let soak overnite. Drained overnite, then filled with half kero and half ATF. Then rotated slow and carefully. Went both ways slowly, and found the direction the gears were happy turning. (some old blowers wear in and are only happy turning one way.) Then drained overnite. Filled with ATF, and have used that blower for several years now. I do add more ATF as it leaks out. Surprising the amount of gunk that will drain out even on the third drain. I like ATF as it has good low temp performance in my unheated shop, is cheap and available, and has a very nice anti-wear package.
Good luck
   - ptree - Friday, 11/10/06 19:28:57 EST

MikeM, Here's one way to anneal your T6 Aluminum. Use your oxy acetylene torch's rosebud with almost no oxygen and deposit an even coating of soot on the material. Now adjust for a neutral flame and heat the material just hot enough to burn off the soot. Let it cool before you work it. The same trick works for annealing Alu bar stock before bending. Good Luck with it.
   SGensh - Friday, 11/10/06 19:42:26 EST

Miles; don't get your brie in a twist! I come at this from an engineering viewpoint where the purpose of writing is to convey information. If the information is not conveyed or is conveyed wrong then the whole thing is a bust and can be worse than if it had not happened at all.

I am perfectly willing to allow other people to hold other views---until the fruition of my evil plot to take over the world. Then I will install a strict censor and shoot anyone who is stuffy about spelling...

Ahhhh would you be interested in a job after the Coup?

BTW if you specifically ask someone to *not* post your address in their article and they do...

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/10/06 19:43:20 EST

Thomas, That is kind of like marking a package "Fragile". It just ASKS to be drop kicked, rolled down stairs. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/10/06 19:49:16 EST

Thomas-- Needless to say, I am truly and deeply shocked. I think you should immediately sue for an injunction against further publication of the scurrilous rag that inflicted such damage upon you AND immediate cash payment of the actual damages you suffered PLUS a hefty punitive judgment. This sort of thing simply must stop. For my own part, I am going to tell the conductor forthwith.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/10/06 20:14:03 EST

I was just offered a quantity of furnace coal that's been languishing in a basement for some years, is that decent forge coal? Or are there too many impurities in that type of fuel. I know it's larger than forge coal but busting it up isn't a problem.
   Thumper - Friday, 11/10/06 23:44:00 EST

I just read a past post about texturing, is it possible to get reticulation on scale free steel with torch heat applied properly?
   Thumper - Friday, 11/10/06 23:54:48 EST

Aluminum: The company I used to work for [Dana Corp.] anealed 6061T6 aluminum and hydroformed it int parts for the Corvett space frame. Suposedly they were back to T6 properties in 24 hours at normal temperatures. I guess that is a combination of work hardening and pasage of time.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 11/11/06 00:30:19 EST

Engine turning: RecentlyI saw a work truck body [like a farrier truck] made from aluminum. It looked like somebody did the engine turning with a 7" grinder and a sanding pad. I was told of an aluminum sailboat that had an image of Neptune done on the bow in grinder swirl marks, aluminum boats don't need paint above the waterline.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 11/11/06 00:35:15 EST

Old furnace coal: thumper, You never know. It could be top quality or red dog (paving and landscaping grade). Never bring home more than one or two buckets of coal to test BEFORE you buy. Ask Miles, I think he has several multi-ton piles of worthless coal in his yard. .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/11/06 00:51:56 EST


Nice texture on the "cobblestone" piece. It has a good, organic feel to it.


Hey, I was once called the "mister Rogers" of the Viking world by the Washington Post. Of course, I've been called worse (and usually by the crew).

There is an entire art to what we call "press grooming." When to send out press releases, what printed materials to shower them with, flip remarks to refrain from. The truth is, what they don't know they will make up because they have to make a coherent story out of a string of impressions about something they frequently know nothing about. One time, back at the U of MD, the campus paper screwed up which side of the hill the Normans and English were charging about on at a reenactment of the Battle of Hastings. We sent a letter ending with "We do not need any more coverage like this." They printed: "We do not need any more coverage." Well, they're learning at that stage, but reporters who know better can also screw up from misunderstanding, deadline pressures, or pig-ignorance.

About all you can do is hand them a useful wad of stuff with good, quotable information, mind what you say in an interview, keep them away from "Dirty Floyd the Insane" (and keep him away from them) and pray for the best outcome.

Usually, there's no such thing as bad publicity, but good publicity is much to be desired. The other factor to keep in mind is even when you get just what you want, sometimes the public just really doesn't care, or retains some vague, trivial detail from the article and ignores the rest.

Also, I prefer print to broadcast. Printed media may be wrapping fish the next day, but you can use copy to entice other articles or media. Broadcast stories flash by in just a minute or less (unless it's some "interesting" tragedy or crime or scandal or celebrity airhead) and people frequently have no source for follow-up, or just never get around to it. Interviews for the radio may be on the internet, but you have to dig deep to find them, and even then you would need to be motivated. Television news is the most fleeting of all, and we seldom bother unless they come to us.

Still, you never know, and some small stories or letters to editors have yielded big results.

Lovely day on the banks of lower Potomac. I'm working on anchor keys for admiralty anchors for our vessels, and hafting sets and punches as Christmas gifts for a friend.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 11/11/06 01:04:42 EST

I was wondering if anyone here has any experience in building old style locks? I'm trying to design an unusual locking mechanism for a coin chest that uses a screw key, that pushes a barrel and releases a pin. I would appreciate any help I can get on this.
   Paul - Saturday, 11/11/06 07:14:08 EST

Locks, Keys and Locksmithing: Paul, See out iForge demo series on Locks and Keys, My review of Locks of Iran and the Spruce Forge Manual of Locksmithing.

There are many books on locks and keys but most are out of print, rare and selling for collectors' prices. With all that, they tell you very little about the subject. The diagrams we show in our review of Locks of Iran are some of the best.

I have collected a great number of lock and key books and found the source material for 99% of what is out there. It is all the same and does not tell you much. Your best bet is to study what old locks you can find and disassemble, as well as making your own.

The techniques of making locks include just about every facet of metalworking and can be done with very few tools or using a complete machine shop. Note that any lock with rotating parts was made with some type of lathe. These were quite primitive with wood bearings and cutter spindles but they were sufficient to make the exactingly round wards and ward cuts as well as spindles and shouldered pins.

The screw type lock you are speaking of is one of the earliest and most primitive types. Often the screw threads on the key was a piece of wire wrapped around the shank and brazed or silver solderd to it. Some were twisted and hand filed. There often was no "nut", just obstructions for the threads of the key to grab.

Good luck!
   - guru - Saturday, 11/11/06 07:48:14 EST

News Broadcasting:
I was on the evening news once. I was doing a live demo at a local arts fair. I was the ONLY one doing a live demo, all the other artists were just sitting around trying to sell what they had brought (and apparently since i was doing a live demo, i didn't have to pay the $60 entry fee, because the coordinators thought my work and effort for the day was worth $60 :) )It was about the coldest and rainiest day of the spring, and on the broadcast I had the shortest length of shot. The rest of the coverage was all the artsy people sitting around looking miserable in the rain and wind....Thank you to the local news station. Sometimes we brutes just can't get the attention we love and thrive on... :)
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Saturday, 11/11/06 10:12:51 EST

Need some information from someone about my propane forge located in my garage. Is my 30 gal. tank located in an adjacent room a bad idea or should the tank be outside? Then with the forge in the garage, is it recommended to have an exhaust hood with fan over the top? It's starting to get cold here in Idaho.
Thanks, Arlo
   Arlo - Saturday, 11/11/06 13:15:41 EST

I was at an antique / yard sale /swap meet thist morning and saw a PATXO (made in USA) cast iron , natural gas or propane smelting pot. At least I think thtas what it would be called. Its in PERFECT condition. it has 2 pipes underneath for the fire and a small pot on top for the metal. The guy wants $25. the whole thing is probally 8-12 inches tall and 12-18 inches long but I cant find any info on this can you help??? I would hate for this thing to be lost to a junk heap. If anyones interested let me know.
Thanks Chuck
   Chuck Lane - Saturday, 11/11/06 13:54:52 EST

Chuck, what you saw was probably used to heat soldering irons. Way back when, believe it or not, soldering irons were not electric- they were just pointy irons, which you had to heat up by putting em in a little furnace. On a job that might involve soldering miles of seams for gutters or metal roofing, a sheet metal mechanic would have 2 or 3 irons in rotation, with a couple getting hot in the little furnace, while he was using one.
Probably Pexto brand, which is an abbreviation of Peck and Stowe, which is now a part of Roper Whitney.
   - Ries - Saturday, 11/11/06 14:51:20 EST

OR: If it has a melting pot on top it was probably for melting lead that plumbers used to pour into joints.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/11/06 15:57:46 EST

Jock, the link to Anyang does not work.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/11/06 15:59:16 EST

Or---my old soldering copper heater had a spot on the top for a lead ladle too!

I have several old style locks from Iran that use the screw key method. One is hand filed the other uses a worn out tap for the key...

   Thomas Powers - Saturday, 11/11/06 16:47:16 EST

Press coverage. I had some experience this time last year. The local Chattanooga paper did well, but the Oklahoman got everything wrong! I gave the reporter a printed copy of the speech, and a fact sheet, both of which contained my name. They got everything wrong, including my name!

I have my speech posted here:


It might be good reading for veterans day.
   - John Ofom - Saturday, 11/11/06 19:27:35 EST

ON PRESS COVERAGE. Last year, about this time I had some press coverage. The Chgattanooga paper did well. The Oklahoma City Olalhoman really messed up. I gave the reporter the text of my speech and a fact sheet. Both contained my name and contact information. He got EVERYTHING wrong, even my name!

The speech was a good story for veterans day. I posted it on the web, email me and I will send you the link if you want it.
   - John Odom - Saturday, 11/11/06 19:31:26 EST

When I was on military parachute demonstration teams, I was interviewed alot. I learned pretty quick what they really wanted to hear, and kinda fed them that. I often promised the print guys a freefall photo to use, if they would let me see the copy prior to print. That often allowed me the oppurtunity to do a little gentle editing. To give the guys their due, they were often covering many items in a short period, that they knew little to nothing about. Easy to get it mixed up. I had a camera mounted on my helmet, and the photos had to be souped prior to my letting them have them. Gave me a little leverage, as freefall photos were pretty dramatic, and beyond the reach of their staff potogs.
   - ptree - Saturday, 11/11/06 20:02:15 EST

On this Veterans day, to all vet's, let me say from one vet to another, Welcome home Brothers and Sisters! And lets us remember that freedom is not free. Remember all those that did not come home.
   - ptree - Saturday, 11/11/06 20:04:21 EST

Chuck-- Sounds to me like a pot for melting the lead to wipe cast iron pipe joints with. Unless the pot just got included for the swap meet, in which case I agree with Ries, a heater for copper soldering irons. Arlo-- the tank indoors is not going to make the fire marshal happy. The forge needs LOTS of brisk ventilation to swirl the exhaust fumes away from your nose, throat and lungs. As long as you are moving around, pounding iron, etc., the cold won't be a problem.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/11/06 20:11:30 EST

ptree.............AMEN, and for the friends we lost, GOD rest their souls and may we never forget them. Thanks for the post.
   Thumper - Saturday, 11/11/06 23:54:27 EST

Frank Turley got a nice and nonembarassing write up in todays Santa fe New Mexican.
   aaron craig - Sunday, 11/12/06 12:13:37 EST

Sorry for the double post. I got an error message the first time so I tried again. I have never had that happen on this site before.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 11/12/06 15:40:18 EST

Propane Tank Location: Arlo, Most codes call for the tank to be outdoors. If there is no code covering your cylinder then it is up to you. What fire codes are concerned about is storage of possibly explosive quantities of fuel in a building that may be involved in a fire. However, even whe the code is followed this happens. The critical thing in your case is that the shop is not in an attached garage.

The problem with propane in any building is that it is a dense heavy gas that does not waft away. It settles on the floor and builds up. If there is ignition the result is rather violent. In shops this is a hazzard that is accepted as a condition of operation. But in dwellings where there may be innocents involved it is not as acceptable. However, we DO use propane in dwellings for furnaces, space heaters and gas logs.

The important thing is to check and triple check you plumbing for leaks. Shut off the gas at the cylinder and as part of leak testing check the valve stem for leakage. This is CRITICAL on rental cylinders that are exchanged. You never know how these cylinders have been treated or maintained.

In a closed building you MUST have a vent stack (Not necessarily fan operated) over a gas forge AND sufficinet fresh air to allow a free flow up the stack. Otherwise CO2 and CO will build up to dangerous levels in a very short time.

Again the safety rules are different if it is an attached building. In this case there should be a hood and stack under ANY weather and ventilation conditions. If you should opperate a gas forge in an attached garage with the door open for ventilation the fumes may be pushed into the house. So while the air is fresh in your shop you are killing anyone in your home. The wind conditions that cause these problems are not your noticable breezes but slow steady air mass movements that are almost undetectable. The same would apply to any gas appliance such as a gas grill.

   - guru - Sunday, 11/12/06 17:20:50 EST

Carbon Monoxide: Recently my father suffered two strokes. After a long period of reflection he realized that the both occured after carbon monozide exposure in the shop. He was tweeking the engine for his ultralite. Now this is a LARGE shop (28 foot ceilings) and he had the ventilation exhust fan running AND the front garage door open. Both strokes occured about half an hour later. Today is is OK but has some lingering effects.

Now. . my father besides being 80 is a life long smoker, something which raises the CO level in your blood so that further exposure does not need to be as high as that of a non-smoker to cause problems. An average smoker is half way to noticable effects from CO and 20 to 30% alon the way to serious problems.

For non-smokers and smokers the buildup of CO in the blood takes several days to clear. While not permanently cumulative, if you breath CO fumes in your shop daily you will have raised CO levels in your blood. ANY over exposure at that point is just that much worse. An exposure that would be mildly disconcerting to a normal healthy person may knock you out.

For smokers and others that have chronic long term CO exposure the damage to the body is cummulative. The effects of brief high level exposures are additive and thus greater to those with previous exposures.

Many of us have brief exposures to CO in the shop. On an ocassional brief basis it is no worse than many other things we do to ourselves. However, when it is daily AND there is a spike, the results can be much worse than if it was just the one incident that caused the spike. So try to keep your shop well ventilated. You can be half way to a serious problem and not know it. Don't be the miners canary.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/12/06 17:55:19 EST

Congrats, Frank-- It is real long and it has your name on it, as my mother which art in heaven used to say. Besides, it's a truly fine, well-written story!
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 11/12/06 18:19:16 EST

i have a question that doesin't really partain to blacksmtihing. As alot of y'all know i work at a historical park, so i have a costume, does anyone know where i could get a period western duster? It's just starting to get cold down here in Tejas so i need a coat, But i can't wear jsut any ol' coat.

thanks y'all
Andrew b.
   - Andrew B. - Sunday, 11/12/06 20:32:47 EST

Andrew B,

Are you gonna get a new coat and then put flying ash holes in it right away?

When I was in Australia, the class chipped in and dressed me up. I got a Kangaroo hide hat similar to Crocadile Dundee's, but without the teeth. I got a pair of brogans with the traditional elastic on the sides and a pull-on strap. The nice, dark brown coat they gave me was of the "Bush Skins" brand. It may not be Wild West, but it is dang close. The Bush Skins are all cotton with some kind of sizing built into the material. They have an inner liner and an outer cape-like thing, so they are fairly warm. They sell a riding coat and an overcoat, both of which are fairly long. Mine was another style, car-coat size.

Let your search engines find Bush Skins.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/12/06 21:47:43 EST

Look up SASS (Single Action Shooting Society), or Cowboy Action Shooting on the net, you'll find a lot of "merchantile", or clothing vendors supplying the shooters and plenty of dusters etc.
   Thumper - Sunday, 11/12/06 21:54:32 EST

Andrew B.-- Friend of mine got one in Australia, too. Like the ones the James gang wore on that last Northfield bank job in the moom pitchers. Here's a Google entry for it: Drizabone Akubra Blundstone The Complete Range!The complete ranges of genuine Australian clothing - Drizabone, Akubra, Blundstone, Ian Harold Boots & diCROCO all at discount prices. Also, J. Peterman will fix you right up with a lonnnnng duster, too-- for a trifling $184. See http://jpeterman.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_1001
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 11/12/06 22:33:34 EST

HI, I've been hobby smithing for several years, lots of hooks, decorative knots, curtain rods, pulls and so on. I built an open timber frame dining room here in Western Canada this spring and the owners like it so much they want to use it year round, so they asked me to build bifold shutters for the openings. The woodwork is under control but I need to teach myself (with help) how to make hinges. I looked at the info in iforge and liked the bending tool idea for wrapping the hinge. Each bifold will be ~18"x55" out of 1" fir. What size of strap should I be using for the hinge (just the bifold; the mounting hinge will be pintel so they're removable) and could someone post the dimensions of the bending tool (where you hammer the strap into it and it turns the hinge for you) so I can have one made up. Sorry for the length of post and tks in advance, Rich.
   Richard - Monday, 11/13/06 01:04:54 EST

Arlo: From the being in a fire aspect propane tanks aren't as bad as they use to be (bombs). They now come with a pressure release valve so they act as more blow torches than bombs. Still not something you want in a fire though.

Still some old style tanks out there. However, they cannot be refilled so are gradually disappearing.
   - Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/13/06 03:37:46 EST

Ken Scharabok, my ex took her forge with her, and I just ordered one of your poorboy double-enders, looking forward to using it for the hinges I'll be making (see above post). Rich.
   Richard - Monday, 11/13/06 03:47:21 EST

From the mail:

I have a potentially simple question why are anvils shaped the way they are? Thanks for your time!

It is actually asimple yet complicated. Generally the shape of anvils is a form follows function type of thing. However, it took hundreds of years for the current "standard" shape to develop. AND what we consider standard in North America is somewhat regional. In France, Spain and Italy they have slightly different standardized shapes. However, the final development of the anvil occurred during the time that Britain ruled world trade followed by US dominance in manufacturing. So the English "London" pattern became THE anvil somewhat globally followed by the modified "American" pattern.

The anvil evolved to its current shape during the last part of the 19th Century and early 20th when horse drawn transportation dominated. So several features were those needed by horseshoers. The distinct horn shape was originally a small stub that over time became more and a major feature. The opposite end of the anvil the "heel" is thin for the same reason, so horseshoes fit around it. Of the two holes in the top of the anvil the square one was general purpose but the small round one is use to punch nail hole in horseshoes. The square hole was originally made to hold a small chisel for cutting nails but over time became larger and a whole array of tools evolved to fit this hole.

It just turns out that most of the features needed by the horseshoer (or farrier) are also very useful for other smiths including those doing decorative ironwork. So a heavy flat surface penetrated by a square socket hole and one or more punching holes with a conical or rhinoceros horn projection has become the standard features.

The rest of the anvil's shape is pretty much a matter of style. The American version had a very narrow, some say "sexy" waist where the English anvil it evolved from had a very stocky solid waist. The French and Italian anvils had no waist or flaring feet, being very short and narrow. The German anvil is very much like the American anvil except it has a square tapering "horn" opposite the round one and several other features on the side and base. The anvil prefered by the Spanish is a heavy version of an auxilliary anvil called a "stake" anvil. These have a long shank with a shoulder and spike to fit into a wood "stump" (section of log) for a stand. The also have a short version that looks like a French anvil except that it also has a spike to fit into a stump. So not all anvils are exactly alike. The Chinese and others have their own preferred shapes.

So there are engineering, political and artistic reasons for the shape of the modern anvil. If the French had dominated the world in the 1800's in both trade and manufacturing then we would be speaking French and using a different style anvil.
   - guru - Monday, 11/13/06 06:09:12 EST

I have the opportunity to acquire a step vise and a coal forge. The vise is not marked with any type of lettering or symbols. The forge is a Buffalo, model #651 with a working hand blower. It will require some work as the strapping from leg to leg is missing, as well as some of the piping from the blower to the firepot. I can forward pictures. Thanks.
   Tim Weaver - Monday, 11/13/06 08:26:27 EST


This is the link to the article about Frank Turley that was in yesterday's paper. Sure brought back a lot of memories from the February 2006 class that I was in. We came up with a saying in our class,'Frank speaks: ka-CHING!' By the end of the class we could not write them down fast enough and keep a hammer in hand at the same time.

Thanks Frank.
   Owen w - Monday, 11/13/06 09:05:48 EST

Hinge Size: Richard, This is a complicated question. It depends on the design on the hinge. The pin diameter is the critical thing. Properly supported a 1/4" pin will support a full size standard wood or steel door when two hinges are used to and bottom. The metal supporting the pin can be as thin as 1/4 the pin size. Look at existing hinges and doors at what commerical manufacturers use. Note that there is NOTHING special about the materials they use.

For a time in the 1800's and early 1900's cast iron hinges with mild steel pins were used. these had to be much heavier than modern hinges du to the brittleness and low strength or cast iron.

When a hinge has a open top pintle the load it much greater and the parts must be much heavier. Many blacksmith made hinges are made this way. Still the loads on hinges are controled by the frame and hung object. When there are two hinges spaced a good diastance apart the bottom hinge sees mostly down force while the upper hings see mostly outward pull. There is little bending force on the pins so they can still be relatively small for the loads carried. Where the question comes in is the anchorage of the hinges.

This is an area where people study similar devices and take a guess at what they should use. There are no hard fast rules and the engineering would be long and drawn out as every application and hinge fesign would be different. In many cases it is much simplier, fool proof and cost effective to make a variety of samples and TEST them. After a few tests your experiance will guide you in the future.
   - guru - Monday, 11/13/06 09:57:44 EST

Purchase Opportunities: Tim, most often if this is from an individual that does not deal in antiques or used equipment then whatever you pay will be less than it is worth. You can almost always resell the equipment.

Remember with missing parts that these items must be hand made you cannot buy them. Often when a forge has rusted out or missing parts it has been abused such as sitting out in the rain for 50 years and there my be much more dammage than is obvious. While repairs increase usability they often do not increase resell price. Unless the repairs are indistinguishable from factory parts the next buyer will often thing that they could do better and would rather not pay for your repairs.

The hand crank blowers with old forges are generally worth as much or more than the forge. What is important is how they sound. If they turn smooth and quietly then they are in good shape. If they growl or rattle then they are probably worn out. There are no replacement parts. If they are locked up from rust they MAY have been in good condition when parked out in the rain but rusted bearings have a VERY short life after being broken free. Rust pitting, even simple surface discoloration on bearings fortell a short future.

Many farriers foot operated vices were home built or fabricated and have little collectors value but have some use in the shop. But mostly they are a farriers tool. IF what you mean is a leg vise, no most did not have markings. As long as all the parts are there and the screw works you have a good tool. Often the spring (a leaf spring) and the mounting bracker are missing. They are almost always rusted looking but this does not effect their value.


Blacksmiths leg vice - $50 (parts) to $150. $200+ if over 100 pounds.
Hand crank blower - $20 (parts) to $175
Forge - $0 to $150.

Condition and location make a big difference. In California and the west coast there are far fewer old tools than in the East so tools go for much more.
   - guru - Monday, 11/13/06 10:23:51 EST

Strap Hinges.

I ran across a rule of thumb for strap hinge length somewhere along the line, which may have more to do with aesthetics than function. The hinge usually looks good if it covers two thirds of the door or shutter width.

On a batten door, well placed nail or screw holes may help to prevent the door from racking. With a panel door, the hinges are applied to the rails, not to the muntins or paneling.

   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/13/06 11:24:55 EST

Tks, Guru, for the prompt reply, I suspect that any hinge I build that fits aesthetically with the woodwork will be strong enough. So if I use 1/8" flat bar with a 1/4" pin, would the drilled hole in the bender be 1/2" or a little bigger? How much bigger? And the slot? I'm talking the dimensions of the tool shown in iforge, Figures 9&10 under 'hinge benders' Tks again
   Richard - Monday, 11/13/06 11:40:16 EST

My son Ben who covered the horrendous Cerro Grande fire in Los Alamos for The New Mexican said propane bottles helped spread the blaze by becoming airborne flame-throwers.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/13/06 11:54:09 EST

For the press type bender I drill/bore a hole about .010 oversize. For the pin I drill a slip fit hole for the full diameter pin (1/2") and make the pin the same size as the working pin. There are several ways to make this part but I turn mine with a shoulder in the lathe. The last one I made I used annealed drill rod. I often use this material unheat treated as it is quite a bit stronger than mild steel as-is.

The slot is cut just enough over size for the material to slip through (+~.005' of nominal). The trick is getting it to blend with the bore. A little filing and sanding may be necessary.

These type parts are often adjusted by drifting an oversize pin through the hole or unwinding a little with pliers. Unwelded hinges can be pretty tight as long as the pin is smooth and there is a little lubricant.
   - guru - Monday, 11/13/06 12:01:26 EST

Press bender. . note That I have two size holes given. The bender can have a full size through hole with the pin/extractor fir to size OR the back part of the bender can have a hole to fit stock bar. Concentricity of the parts is probably more important than fits. These means the concentric bores should be done in one setup and the pin turned on a lathe.

Frank, Nice article.

   - guru - Monday, 11/13/06 12:11:25 EST

Flying cylinders and propane bottles: Welding cylinders are required to be chained to a rack or the wall but propane cylinders are always left loose. . . Inside a structure I would tie one to the wall.
   - guru - Monday, 11/13/06 12:13:48 EST

Tks, I'm off to the machine shop. Great site. Rich.
   Richard - Monday, 11/13/06 12:49:17 EST

Maybe I am displaying my inexperience or the quality of my tools but what I have the most difficulty with is handling material with the tongs. Things go flying with a hammer blow, have to be dropped on the anvil and repositioned or in a myriad of other way have to be messed around with until I lose the heat. I am sure a large portion of my difficulty is hammer control and/or choice and I have been working on that with a measure of success. I also wonder if my home-made anvil can be contributing to my tong turmoil. It is a stack of 5 2” thick T1 that I have laminated with 7/8 camphor around each plate for a strong weld. It is heavier than it looks at first glace something like 270#. On your ball bearing test it is far better than cast but shy of a real anvil. I wonder if it is flexing between plates and launching the work like a trampoline.


Part of it is visible on the left.

My tongs are all used things in various states of service. I would blame them but even with vice-grips I get creep. I regularly bend the handles of my favorite pair so the strength of my grip must be ok. I watch experienced smiths and see the casual way they handle the tongs, I know they are not making the effort I do to clamp down but then they also don’t send stuff skittering across the floor either. Is their a primer on tong skills out there? I don’t practice nearly as much as I should, maybe a weekend every two months in the summer and more often in the winter.
   - K Nelson - Monday, 11/13/06 14:52:04 EST

Dear Guru and others,
I've been having some trouble finding an open forge or hammer in close to the collage I'm now at. So I asked the school(we have a metal/wood working shop) if they would let me your their facilitys to store my blacksmithing equipment. I tried to explane to them that when the proper safty measures are taken blacksmithing is not anymore dangerous then any of the other equipment that they use in the shop. They unforunatly told me that I would be "to much of a liablity". So I ask for your wisdom in this case, What would be a good argument to get them to let me do blacksmithing? thank you. John
P.S. if your wondering where the collage is located I'm about 30min west of Pittsburg in the south eastern part of Ohio(Steubenville).
   John Scancella - Monday, 11/13/06 16:39:18 EST

Tongs: in general tongs are designed to grip material where the jaws are parallel and so touch all along their length.

if you pick up something that the tongs only bear on at one point what you have is a fulcrum and you can easily rotate the piece around it sending it flying.

For "oddly" shaped work you need tongs that will trap it. Look at how box tongs work.

As for anvils the biggest problem I see new people have is that they place a piece on the anvil that only contacts the anvil at one point---and then hit somewhere *else* either flipping the piece up out of the tongs or pushing the piece down out of the tongs. To avid this you have to hold the piece so that the part you want to hit is in contact with the anvil or *flatten* the piece so it's all on the anvil.

Remember to flatten a piece you turn it so that the peak of the arch is up and then flatten down on it. Otherwise you are flipping the piece again...

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/13/06 17:04:14 EST

Tongs: K Nelson, Yes, Some of your problem is as Thomas pointed out angular positioning and hammer control. The part should always be in contact with the anvil where you strike it. Even experianced smiths have trouble with their grip on miss-strikes. On the other hand, when struck perfectly a loose piece should stay on the anvil where it lies. But don't try it.

Tongs can be very good and very bad. Many of the old used tongs that look decent to the untrained eye are what I call "farmer" tongs. Tongs made by amatuer tool makers. Recently I saw a case full of these and asked the fellow where they came from. They were from a old trade school where they taught blacksmithing. These were all first time tongs that the students did not have enough pride in to take home OR that they knew were no good from using the real thing. Bad tongs have too heavy of reins so that they do not spring and too heavy a joint so work doesn't fit where the leverage is most advantageous. AND they fit nothing. .

Most of these old farmer tongs are only worth the bar stock in the reins (about $3 at today's steel prices).

Tongs that wrap around the work in some way are the best. The type called "bolt tongs" because of the open loop that makes room for the bolt head and the cylindrical grip to grip the round shank of the bolt are my favorite.

You should be able to spring the reins by hand without straining when selecting tongs for hand held hand forged work.

Anvils built of flat plates laminated horizontal are usually pretty dead due to the air gaps at the weld joints. The ball bearing test on tested the hardness of the top plate not the efficiency of the stack. Normally this type anvil is not to bouncy. If it is then it has real problems.

In the end most of these problems are experiance. Eventually with enough practice you learn to shape the metal with the tools you have with only a small degree of frustration. But it can be easier and you can be more productive with better tools.

Your DIY anvil looks great. I'd love to have a photo of it for an article on make-do and DIY anvils I am working on.

OBTW - From the photo you anvil looks to be 4 to 6" too high for you. It should be about knuckle height when you stand next to it. 2" higher is OK but is high. 2" lower is suitable for sledge work but not good hand work. The extra height will make it difficult to work well.
   - guru - Monday, 11/13/06 18:19:37 EST


It's dangerous to have tongs grip the work without having parallel closure. I adjust tongs in the vise by taking a heat that will cover the jaws, rivet area, and a portion of the reins. I squeeze the jaws around the proper sized piece in the vise, and that normally changes the rein direction. With the jaws remaining in the vise, I adjust the reins to suit my hand. I often put a rod between the reins near the rivet bosses and squeeze the reins around the rod. This gives clearance, gets rid of some scissoring effect, and allows them to hang on the rack vertically. My preference is to have the reins parallel. If the rivet needs tightening, I give it a couple of blows, and that may cause the tongs to freeze. Another heat is in order, and when quenching mild steel tongs, I keep them moving under water.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/13/06 19:31:28 EST

Approximately how much taper per inch should a drift for a blacksmith's hammer have? Does the drift taper the same for both the width and the lenght of the eye?

   Tyler Murch - Monday, 11/13/06 19:40:05 EST

Tyler has a good question, that I was about to ask. I'm making a 2 lb hammer. I've punched the hole, now I need to make a drift. Some dimmensions would be helpful.
   - John Odom - Monday, 11/13/06 22:04:13 EST

Hammer Eye
I recall guru going through this a while back with me and we came to the conclusion that finding standardized info was not easy. Checking McMaster catalog, or local well stocked hardware, will give an idea of the many 'standard' hammer handle shapes, but getting actual dimensions was not so easy. I guess the thing to do is determine what would be the appropriate handle, and measuring it. Obviously you could make a handle to any dimension but standardized dimensions seem elusive. Didn't find anything in Machinery's Handbook.
   - Tom H - Tuesday, 11/14/06 00:22:39 EST

Hammer Eye Dimensions:

I found a hammer handle manufacturer's list of dimensions and will extract a chart. A 1.5 to 2.5 pound hammer has a 7/8 x 5/8" oval eye. A 3 to 4 pound is 1" x 3/4".

U.S. Department of Commerce, Forged Tools Simplified Practice Recommendation.

For oval handles.

Handle eye width = 40" of hammer width

Handle eye length = 125% of eye width.

Tolerances +1/16" - 1/32" max.

Tapered sledge eyes taper to center 4° on long axis and 3° on short axis. This is for punches and finished holes.

Note that the above is for a true oval. Check your drafting book or Machinery's Handbook for how to lay one out. There are also straight sided handle holes with round ends (milled). This is a US standard I am sure European standards are different.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/14/06 01:04:50 EST

Hammer Eye.

My information is not as exact as that in the Guru's response. But anyway, here goes based on my experience.

We have talked about this. If I buy a hammer handle, I get the "16" machinist's handle". The eye-end will give you an idea as to dimension. Harcourt's "Elementary Forge Practice" shows the initial punched OVAL hole measures 5/8" x 7/8". After drifting the hole has a 1" length by an 11/16" width. Nothing is written in stone. 5/8" x 1 1/16" is not unusual. An old rule of thumb for hand forged hammers is the eye length is twice its width. Many a hand forged hammer in the U.S. had an oblong eye; ie., the eye had two parallel sides in length. The ends were half round.
It is easier to forge and cold finish such an eye when compared with forging an oval eye. It is easier, because you forge a tapered rectangular section and then swage and cold finish the ends.

The initial punched eye I judge to be about 2/3 the size of the finished eye. My drifts are about 8" to 9" long for a 2.5 pound cross peen. The small end should just enter the eye when drifting. I drive the drift in about three quarters of its length, and I drift from both sides. While the drift is in, flatter the side bulges.

If the drift is 8" long and the small end is about 2/3 the finished eye, then 6" up from the bottom will be the finished eye size. The drift has a full taper top to bottom. It is not driven all the way through from one side. Drifting from both sides is advantageous. It will give the eye a slight hourglass shape, the latter being desirable for the insertion and wedging of a wooden haft.

brentbaileyforge.com has a PDF outline (drawing) of the drift he uses. He apparently slit chisels his eye; he doesn't remove a burr with a hammer eye punch. On his Home site, click on "Publications"; then click on "Bailey Cross Peen".

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/14/06 01:28:11 EST

Anvil price record? Check out eBay #120048449829. 450 LB Columbian which sold for $2,617.89, or some $5.80 per pound.

I still say there is a market in the U.S. for a London pattern cast steel anvil. Or even a Fisher style with a top plate of tool steel. If mushroom nubs were welded to the bottom of the top plate prior to casting say ductile iron for the body, on top of a very hot top plate, I suspect it would largely avoid plate separation problems.

Richard Postman once told me Dave Sprinkler, of the SOF&A group, cut off the back end of a VULCAN anvil with a broken heel to dress it up. The cut come down through such nubs on the bottom of the top plate.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/14/06 07:26:34 EST

I have an old smithing book (paperback) that tells how to start an eye drift by drilling a hole through the head, filling the hole with a mild steel rod, then drill a hole next to it to form the oval shape. Then the eye is drifted to shape.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 11/14/06 09:27:42 EST


While the old "smith" was still chucking in the twist drill, we would already have the hole punched. I read a couple of other things like that, which is why we are not to trust all authors. In the Shelburne Museum tool book, one of the smiths makes a toasting fork by hack sawing down the medial line of some flat stock to start the tines. I say, "What ever happened to hot splitting?" Al Weigers, for all the good he has written, tells us to make a tin snips handle by drilling beau coups holes in an oval line and knocking out the center piece. I say, "Whatever happened to drawing out the handle and bending it?" I can't find Aldren Watson's book right now, but I believe he has his heat tempering rainbow running backwards on a tool.

The method you describe does work on some things where you want to drill a second hole and you don't want the drill to walk into the first drilled hole. I have occasionally used the method for the rectangular thumb-piece hole on a traditional door latch. It is then file finished. In the days when there was more lead in the shops, sometimes molten lead was poured into the first hole.

That small hole can be punched as well, but I get quite a side bulge, and there is still file cleanup to be done.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/14/06 10:39:40 EST

"I can't find Aldren Watson's book right now, but I believe he has his heat tempering rainbow running backwards on a tool."

Yep, and it drove me crazy, too. He also has brine as a gentler quench, between oil and straight water. A bit of misinformation that probably snapped a few edged tools and blades over the years.

I find all sorts of erors in art galleries, history books, and such; and even I am occasionally wr..., in err..., underinformed. ;-)

I will say that a lot of beginning smiths may not have a hot set, but everybody has a hack saw. Also, it's something you can do cold on those days when you don't feel like firing-up the forge, so that the stock is ready to go when you do.

Cloudy and raw on the banks of the Potomac.

visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/14/06 11:38:11 EST

Being lazy and (gasp!) non true path, I chop ovoid, tapered handle holes with my torch.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/14/06 11:45:33 EST

Brent Bailey hammer,
Thanks Mr. Turley for that link. That Atlantic 33 he uses sounds like great stuff (water quench without a temper!! right up my alley). I haven't even looked for a supplier though, because I can imagine that such simplicity will come with a price...
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Tuesday, 11/14/06 12:30:30 EST

hey y'all
i have a question.
i'm doing i project of blacksmithing so i'm gonig to make a few things. one of the things i was plannig on making was a simple quadrafoil (four leaf clover). My question is, is it possible or practicle to make one without welding it before you put the collars on, or can you simply use the collars to hold it together?

thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Tuesday, 11/14/06 13:06:58 EST

Tom H; I used to live in the Ozarks and a lot of small towns had hammer handle manufacturers to make use of the hicory growing on the hills. One I visited had one of the best collection of smithing tools I had ever seen till then hanging on their wall. I asked if they might be for sale but they told me "Nope they are the try guages that we make our various handles to fit..."

So for at least *1* manufacturer they make their handles to match waht some smith 100 years ago decided worked for him...

Don't think there is a "standard" you might find an old milspec out there if you looked hard.

It's handy to have a wide range of handles being made---makes it easier to find one that will work for an oddball hammer without having to carve your own...


   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/14/06 13:33:36 EST

Hammer Drift

Thanks Frank. That gives me an idea. I think there was some other misunderstanding my question though. I was not asking eye dimensions. I was asking how much the drift needs to taper to give you that hourglass shape.

   - Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 11/14/06 13:51:05 EST


The Bailey site is pretty neat. I don't have experience with Atlantic 33, but it comes in an odd "flutagon" cross section. That is why Bailey had to upset and square it up. Source addresses are listed on his site.

Andrew B.

If the collars are an exact fit and not sloppy, you will get a shrink fit that will hold the pieces together.


That worked for me. The hourglass shape on my hammers is slight. If more shape is desired, a die grinder (used carefully) or round file can be used inside the eye. Some of the old manufactured hammer heads had a pretty extreme pinch inside the eye, almost too much, especially farriers' rounding hammers.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/14/06 15:37:29 EST

What type of wood is the best for making charcoal? Thanks
Jim Stecklein
   Jim Stecklein - Tuesday, 11/14/06 16:20:44 EST

Federal Standard for HANDLES: HICKORY, STRIKING TOOL (NO S/S DOCUMENT) is a now cancelled one. The link given below is to access the various revisions of the standard. Someone suggested that there might be a Mil Spec, so I thought I`d do a search.



   - Don Shears - Tuesday, 11/14/06 16:31:57 EST

Atlantic 33,
I checked the Mojave southern machine works price. About $5.25 a pound for the 1.5 inch stuff according to my math (i figured it as square bar since "flutagon" is not a choice on the metal weight calculator) the smaller sizes are a little more expensive per pound. I guess the real question is whether the price is worth the convenience.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Tuesday, 11/14/06 16:57:44 EST

Don, I had to put a break in your URL because it was too long for our page.

However, the problem is you must have an account to access the document. Apparently you have an account.

What really bothers me about this type thing is that I routinely come across content indexed on google that is not public access. Apparently they let google spider the content but the public cannot view it. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/14/06 17:16:10 EST

Best type of wood for charcoal, old growth pine, chestnut (no longer exists for the purpose), oak. .

Almost any wood works. However, certain woods with a lot of resin and others with a peculiar structure (like walnut), pop and make a great number of fleas (small flying embers). This can be as bothersome as working next to someone arc welding.

Some woods do not coal well at all producing nearly all ash. I believe tulip poplar is one.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/14/06 17:23:49 EST

Quatrafoil and Flure des lis: These can be made of components and welded together, components collared together and from one piece. It all depends on what you want and how it is to be applied.

Old time smiths forge welded a LOT of things together because it was easier with wrought iron AND the wrought had characteristics that did not lend it to certain tasks so it was better to weld pieces together.

Redefine your question if you need more specifics.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/14/06 17:29:11 EST

Ignore the man behind the curtain with the cutting torch.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/14/06 17:30:15 EST

i have been making swords and knives for about 4 years now and i have recently aquired a huge supply of spring steel tiller teeth that go on tow behind tillers for tractors, they are about 1/4 in thick and 1.5 to 2 feet in leangth. are these made of good steel for knives and swords? they are impossible to cut or file untill heated and annealed in my forge but do they have good edge holding properties?
   Mike Hicks - Tuesday, 11/14/06 17:53:13 EST

Handle Eyes: There are several standard shapes. The main ones are the oval (a true elipse), the round end rectangle and the rectangular or adz eye.

The oval is the standard eye for most blacksmiths hammers and sledges. The round end slot is less common and more suitable to being made on a machine tool like a milling machine. The square hole like the oval hole is punched.

I see a lot of Chinese hammers made from a block of iron/steel with a round drilled eye. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/14/06 18:07:14 EST

I have a past buyer in France who is seeking someone to make him four tomahawk heads from large ballpeen hammer heads. Drifting eye to teardrop shape likely also required. If interested contact me (click on name) and I'll forward his request. He would make payment via PayPal and likely have them shipped to me for consolidation with ohter eBay purchases.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/14/06 18:39:29 EST

mike were you selling those springs? If you are how much would you want for a good long one. A friend of mine is going to make a 19 1/2" large texas bowie and needs some good steel.

Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Tuesday, 11/14/06 18:56:03 EST

Charcoal? Best for *WHAT*? For making blackpowder willow charcoal was preferred. For forging swords the japanese prefer a type of pine charcoal. For cooking a steak I like hickory or mesquite charcoal. For drawing on paper grapevine is often considered a good one.

There is *NO* "best" without giving the details!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/14/06 19:36:43 EST

ok i got this girl called mia that said shed buil my forge so she needs instructions so what im asking is i need to no how to and wha forge would be the best for making within a $200 range and i think gas is cheapest around hear but just incase could i have bouth sent to my e-mail adress if anyone could help its tienshido@yahoo.com if that dont work try tj'tienshido@yahoo.com

thanks for the help what ever it is...
   thomas mayhugh - Tuesday, 11/14/06 20:11:08 EST

Thomas Mayhugh: Unless your friend knows what she is doing a cobbled together propane/gas forge is likely to be dangerous to both of you. Use the drop down menu in the upper right and check out those carried by the forum advertisers. Several also carry coal forges.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/14/06 20:24:01 EST

Hey Guru, I’m currently in college and I am starting blacksmithing as a hobby but I currently have no experience. I started to get serious a year ago back in HS and followed the steps in the Getting Started FAQ and have started to buy the equipment needed. I am strongly thinking of buying a NC Whisper Baby gas forge due to the availability of propane in our area and the low price of the forge. I read you review and it looks like I’m sold on it. Are their any other comments or ideas for a one-burner forge for a beginner?

Oh, what is a heath front used for? You mentioned it in the review but I no idea why it would be needed.

I have read the many safety warnings about gas forges and blacksmithing in general, and have decided to set the forge outside for ventilation and keep a first aid kit on the ground as advised. If you have any additional safety advice for beginners regarding gas forges, and the handling of gas tanks, that would be great. I’m just being careful since this is my first time and I don’t want to make any stupid mistakes.

Lastly, what do recommend for a stand for a small gas forge? I would prefer to not have to spend additional cash on stands right now, but I am willing to if needed.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
   John D-X - Tuesday, 11/14/06 20:41:20 EST

John, First, the Whisper Baby is a good VERY SMALL forge but you will quickly wish you had something larger unless you are satisfied with making very small stuff (doll house furniture). You can make things that take very short heats but once bent will not fit in the forge.

None of the NC forges have a hearth but because of their size you can usually prop things in them. But the Whisper Baby needs a stock shelf or hearth. And because of the door design it needs to be quite narrow.

On the other hand the piezio electric igniter is very convienient.

If you are a fair scrounger you would be ammazed at the number of old gas grills that get tossed and can be picked up on clean-up day in the burbs. These make a pretty decent forge stand as they were already designed to support the small propane bottle.

Propane bottles should be stored outdoors is the #1 safety rule for them and NEVER in living space.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/14/06 21:23:38 EST

Thomas, Charcoal

I would assume it is for blacksmithing.
   Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 11/14/06 21:28:44 EST

For the young folks wanting an inexpensive gas forge may I commend to you the forges built and sold by anvilfire advertiser and supporter Ken Scharabok? He is listed under Poorboy tools on the drop down. I have heard many people that are very sastisfied. They are well thought out, complete and come with instructions. All and all a very good way to start.
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/14/06 22:23:21 EST

Thanks for the advice guru and ptree, I looked at the Poorboy gas forges on e-bay and I now am considering getting one of those. However, I'm going to continue looking at other gas forges though this site.

Thanks for your help guys.
   John D-X - Wednesday, 11/15/06 02:48:17 EST

Hammer eye drift. Perhaps you blokes make your own hammer handles? I buy mine, several at a time, and have made the slitting chisel and eye drift to suit the size and shape of the handle. This works well, assuming you can find hammer handles you like. I don't know if there is a set rule for what the taper on the drift should be, but I think the make it look right rule would apply. If you are slitting and drifting by hand make them longer rather than shorter to allow your hand to be a bit further away from the hot steel. The Brent Bailey method works very well,and you can get an idea of the taper on his drift from his web site.
   Graham Moyses - Wednesday, 11/15/06 02:49:23 EST

My local hardware store no longer even carries replacement hammer handles. They will check their on-line suppliers to see what they have and then have it delivered within a couple of days. Same pretty well goes for steel wedges.

Sort of the deal to where you find a handle and then make the eye to fit it.

On eye taper it would seem to depend on the handle you plan to use. If the handle is straight it would seem of no purpose to drift the bottom of the eye. If it is the type of handle with a flare out (bulb) under the top then drifting both top and bottom would be desirable. The critical one is the taper on what will be the top of the head. That is what locks the handle into the eye.

I have seen several blacksmiths (including some I would consider experienced) have to periodically tap the bottom of the hammer handle on the anvil to keep the head from flying off. Not a good safety practice.

I do not know of any glue compound specifically made for hammer eyes. I have used Gorilla Glue, but a little goes a LONG way.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/15/06 06:29:47 EST

hey y'all
does anyone know where to get a old flat spring, about 20" X 2"?
i'm in houston TX
i'll buy one from anyone who has an extra.
thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Wednesday, 11/15/06 09:35:27 EST


Or you find a hammer and make the handle to fit it.

With practice, you can make a one heat wedge. I usually use 3/16" x 1/2" M.S., and working fast enough, you can forge the wedge shape, notch on the hardie, and quench while it is still red hot. You'll get a little hardening which allows you to break it at the notch cold. The hardening should keep it stiff enough to drive without bending.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/15/06 10:56:28 EST

Hammer Handles: When I buy handles I buy mine from McMaster Carr. Often I make my own. They have two grades and I always get the most expensive. Many of mine are made from recycled handles (larger reduced to smaller) but I have also started from scratch.

McMaster-Carr currently lists four eye sizes on handles to fit the full range of blacksmiths hammers. However, I have often had to shave them to fit. Ocassionaly they fit exactly. I suspect this is more of having less choice as our industry declines and that the 40% eye width rule probably applies to most old US made hammers.

My old catalogs do not list eye sizes but list handles in 1" increments of length. McMaster-Carr has only four lengths of blacksmiths hammer handle (to go with the four eye sizes).

So we have gone from making an engineered metal part that was made in proportional sizes (including the eyes) to fitting the few available handle size that retailers stock. . .

In the small shop we have some limitations such as availability of of a range of drift sizes, but on the other hand we also have the ability to make tools as needed.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/15/06 11:29:54 EST


As Thomas points out, there's some good ones to be had in the Ozarks. Last timne I was there on NPS business I picked up a half-dozen to pack in my luggage.

I'm rehafting some set tools for a beginning friend's Christmas gift. Since these are top tools, and the dynamics are different from a swinging/striking tool, I'm trying for a good, tight fit and not wedging them. Given that the handles are used primarily for positioning (and keeping you hand out of the way) do they really need wedging?

Gas Forges:

The Whisper Baby makes a nice, and very clean and economical, adjunct to my coal forge, but as a stand-alone it really would limit operations.

Visit your National Parks, especially Ozark National Scenic Riverways: www.nps.gov/ozar/ The Old red Mill is a lof of fun, just looking at the set-up and machinery. (But the hardy in their blacksmith display is upside down.)

Go viking (we're fun too ;-) www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/15/06 11:52:10 EST

is 1200 Canadian alot for a (i think used) 450 pound anvil
? i dont know if its used or not, my friend found it,and i never got around to aksing him, he says it would be perfect for me
   Cam - Wednesday, 11/15/06 11:56:57 EST

Top Tool Handles: Bruce, often these are loose to the point of almost faling off or junk handles (judging by all the old ones I have). Since they are almost always used with a sledge they should issolate you from shock. If a miss-blow is bad enough you want to be holding what is left of the handle. I put mine on just well enough to hold like the old examples I've had on hand. My collection has had everything from split ax handles to pieces of furring strip.

Factory top tools (in the US) have eyes for handles but traditionaly they had a groove for a wrapped handle which is light and springy.

Dressing tools for mechanical setups like for chainmaking had very tight handles as they saw a lot of rapid repeated blows and their alignment was determined by the mechanical arrangement. When not hand held they needed to be tight.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/15/06 12:06:34 EST

"Ignore the man behind the curtain with the cutting torch." Thus spake the Guruissimo - Tuesday, 11/14/06 17:30:15 EST -- and as the man behind the curtain (blush!)I actually couldn't agree more. Stick with the traditional, authentic, old-tyme ways and implements of the smith-- the angle grinder, belt grinder, stick, MIG, and TIG welders, pneumatic trip hammer, and use only hand-powered bellows and coal, eschew these newfangled motorized blowerized propane forges. Your work thus will always embody the highest traditions of the craft. Using a gas hatchet to chop it may get you a hammer eye lickety-split, for example, but it means you don't get that all-important frogeye, so vitally important to the performance of the hammer-- and to today's discriminating connoisseur.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 11/15/06 12:15:24 EST

450# anvil: Cam, I do not know the current exchange rate but Ken posted an ebay sale above where a 450# anvil sold for $2,618 US. He was commenting on the high price but it was actually quite reasonable for a classic. However a neww 500# Euroanvil sells for $1,245 US but a Forged steel Peddinghaus half that weight sells for more.

In the end everything depends on condition and quality. There have been some huge Cast iron anvils floating around that are not worth $1/pound (US or Canadian). Large anvils are rare and there prices tend to reflect it but if the anvil is junk to start with then it is worth what it is worth. .

Something to keep in mind is that a 450# anvil is a huge anvil. It is going to stay where you put it unless you have an overhead hoist, crane or lift truck in your shop. A 200# anvil is more than enough for one person working alone and only takes one strong back or two sensible ones to move.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/15/06 12:27:47 EST

I went to Harbor Freight yesterday and the 110# anvil had a diagnal hardy hole so I did not get it. The anvil looks like the Black Beauty Anvil from the anvil review at http://anvilfire.com/21centbs/ru_top_index.htm it was priced at $104 still though.
Any way, I feel I am back at square one again and have no idea what anvil to get now. I am pretty sure I done want a diaganal hardie hole.
   Russell - Wednesday, 11/15/06 12:28:23 EST

Hammer drift taper

Thanks for the help. I'm thinking about 1/8" of taper per 1" of drift length.
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 11/15/06 12:33:20 EST

AndrewB Have you tried the spring repair replacement places in the Houston yellowpages? If you want to make something from it getting a straight piece of unused known steel from them would work better than a random piece of who knows what possible abused in it's previous life...

Tyler--all of the topics I included in my charcoal post have been discussed on this forum before. As to best for smithing I would go with whatever is cheapest and works well in your local area. When I used to make my own it was whatever scraps wood I could get for free.

Handles: I usually buy 2nds when they show up at the fleamarket *but* I check that the grain runs the correct way and the flaws are only cosmetic or will be removed when I shape the handle to suit myself. These seem to work just as well as the top doller ones that I snarf up when they show up cheap at the fleamarket as well. My basic policy is to always buy handles whern I can find them at a good price. I have a stock of them stored properly so when I find another head or suffer a handle break (not often for me but more common when I have students) I have some to hand.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/15/06 12:36:06 EST

Miles. . . you must learn to take a joke. AND you did not even comment on my Wizard of OZ reference. . . You of all people should appreciate the literary reference.

The problem with a flame cut hole is very few people can cut one smooth enough to be useful and even then the next step is to go at it with a die grinder. . something that does not work all that well either in holes and on hardenable steel that has been flame cut.

I have nothing against modern tools. I have most of them. But even in modern factories they still punch hammer eyes (albiet in the same powerful stroke that created the entire shape).

If you are going to forsake the punch then drilling and drilling and milling is the way to go. Drilling two edge to edge holes then cleaning out the extra material is a common machinist method of make a semi-oval hole. If you are persistant you can remove the excess material with a hack saw and file.

I will take a cutting torch and arc welder to anything that it is to my advantage to do so. But there is a time and place for everything.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/15/06 12:40:21 EST

I especially like to use a cutting torch for non-cutting techniques, you know... localizing heat to a specific area, that sort of thing. I just made a set of 316L rivets for my ear piercings using that method. You see, I wear 2-1/2" 0 gauge nails in my ears and I plan on travelling to Amsterdam next week. There's NO way in heck that airport security will let me get on a plane with these in:


   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 11/15/06 12:45:34 EST

Old, new and seconds: Like Thomas I rarely break a hammer handle. However, most of mine are taped up due to the missblows of others (or grazed nails byt the same). My feeling on hammer handles is that after all the effort of getting the old one off and the new one on, and then living with it for the next 20 years or more I want it to be the best possible material to start.

Recently I was at a workshop and no less than 3 hammer handles on top dollar "personality brand" hammers broke in a matter of a few minutes. Some were new, some were well used but they all broke due to angular grain AND weak wood. I saw each break and even though they were seeing hard use it was not abuse. It was not a very good endorsement for a top dollar product. If it had been a common hardware store hammer at 1/4 the price I would have been upset.

In recent years I have bought a collection of ball peen hammers. These range from 3-4 oz to 5 pounds. Every one has a different eye and handle size. For many you cannot buy a proper fitting replacement handle (that reduced choice thing). On a couple of the smaller hammers I glued cracks and then taped the handles. I know what use they will see and feel this is a satisfactory fix. Besides which they still have the OEM handles. On others I removed the handles, trimmed them and refitted them. Loss of an inch of handle is not a big deal but it was better than making a proper proportioned handle from scratch.

On slightly loose handles. I have at least one of those. It has been rewedged and glued but due to heavy use has still loosened. I do the common thing that is also the wrong thing to do, I soak it in water to tighten it up.

The thing about these is IF the hammer has a factory double tapering hole it is very unlikely to come off unless it it VERY VERY loose. In fact, getting handles off of these is often quite a chore. I usually saw off the handle right below the head and then use a punch to drive out the handle stub. I've had handles when the punch was driven through and removed several times that still would not come off. . . The handle may have been loose but it certainly was not in danger of coming off in use.

On the other hand I have been present more than once when sledge hammer heads flew off. . Luckily no one was hurt. These sledges had straight through eyes with no taper as do many heavy sledges. The slightest bit of loosness and they slip right off. This is compounded by the fact that sledges tend to have proportionaly smaller handles than other hammers.

Have you put "Hammer Handle Day" on your calendar? It is good to spend a day doing nothing but cleaning dressing, tightening hammer handles. Order replacements in advance and have some varish handy. If you do not have a lot of hammer then expand it to "Handle day". I have inherited a bunch of tools (shovels, picks. . .) and they all need attention. Mostly sanding and varnishing. Maintenance is much easier than replacing a handle.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/15/06 13:13:04 EST

Please accept my apology. My clear question is: Do you still feel the Harbor Freight anvil with the diagonal hardie hole is a good buy for a beginner?
   Russell - Wednesday, 11/15/06 13:14:54 EST

Hi Russell

They are only a poorly designed anvil shaped object that are only gray cast iron and will fracture and break.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 11/15/06 13:57:06 EST


It sounds like you have a budget like most of us here. I am assuming you have not been able to locate an old anvil at a flea market, garage sale or auction. If not scrap enough funds together and buy a Euroanvil or czech anvil from old world anvils. The are high carbon cast steel and heat treated. They are a decent anvil for the money. Many folks here are happy with them. Go to: www.euroanvils.com or www.oldworldanvils.com In the long run you will be happy.

It is really true: "You get what you pay for." I hope this helps.

The diagonal hardie hole anvils are gray cast iron made in china. The square hardie hole one were made in Russia. The were kinda ok since they did have a faceplate. They are no longer made. The others are cheap copycats.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 11/15/06 14:02:32 EST

Russell, your best bet is to look up local blacksmithing organizations on ABANA-Chapter.com and go to a meeting or two. There is almost always someone there selling used tools. The worst most disreputable looking broken cornered sagging antique anvil is a MUCH better tool than the cast iron ASO's and can be bought for less. The old saw, "Beauty is only skin deep" applies to anvils. Its what's inside (the steel) that counts.

Note that most decent anvils lose no or very little value unless abused and old ones do nothing but appreciate. Meanwhile that ebay ASO is not worth what you paid for it the moment it is delivered. Not only do you get what you pay for but old tools are a good investment.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/15/06 14:12:31 EST

Guru-- I got the jokey curtain reference all right. Didn't you hear the reverb/echo chamber in my reply? You don't need to dress the cut if you use the torch properly. Hey, guys, don't forget to use the plasma cutter a lot, too. Nothing imparts that old-tymey craftsman feel to your work like a lot of curly-swirly wiggly-squiggly stainless plate with all those zooty burn marks along the kerf.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 11/15/06 15:14:30 EST

To all the esteemed folks out there...I am writing a persuasive essay for my College Writing class and I have chosen the topic of why a blacksmith should modernize to maintain a competitive edge in today's world. So, I was wondering if there would be a few of you out there that would not mind being interviewed and used as a resource for this paper. You can let me know via email by clicking on my name. If that doesn't work, my address is backyard_smith15@yahoo.com. I sincerely appreciate any and all willingness
Thanks, Ian Wille
   Ian Wille - Wednesday, 11/15/06 15:45:18 EST

Hammer handles:
With over 200 hundred acres of midwestern U.S. timber, buying hammer handles (or any handles for that matter) has never been an option in my family. Lots of hickory and there is always a good chunk in the shed drying out for the next set of handles that'll need to be made. In fact if anyone is interested, I might be able to conjure up some blanks at the cost of postage (for those of us in areas with little access to hickory). They would probably be somewhat green and need dried as we just split out a hickory two months ago and it is nowhere near seasoned enough yet (we usually let them sit in the shed for at least a year after they are split). Let me know.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Wednesday, 11/15/06 15:57:14 EST

i was wondering if there was a site that had atmosphiric burners for sale that were of goos quality but not as expensive as the site that sells the T-rex modle (fogot its name)
   - Erik - Wednesday, 11/15/06 17:22:37 EST

Erik: try www.elliscustomknifeworks.com and look under "Knifemaking," "forge and refractory supplies."
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 11/15/06 17:40:13 EST

Burnt Forge: I was in a Harbor Freight store a couple of months ago. They had one of the 110 pound anvils with the diagonal hardy hole. Sticker on the side said "MADE IN RUSSIA".

Grizzly carries nice looking anvils, but they are cast iron. I suspect those do come from China or India.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/15/06 18:27:36 EST


Ian, drop me a line.

However, the answer is fairly simple. Competitivness and the profitability of labor saving devices. What was once a local industry no matter where you were in the world has become a global industry largely due to increased communication such as the Internet. Bladesmiths in unheard of places in Iran, Pakistan and India are selling their work globaly but mainly to Europe and the US, Canada and Australia. Architectural smiths in Germany and Italy, now Mexico and India are making components and furniture sized pieces to sell globaly. India is coming up quickly in this are and has a machine tool and manufacturing industry to back up this work. The "village" blacksmith or individual smith in the West is finding competition in imported goods sold nearby.

At one time this trade was the opposite of what it is today. The industrialized nations provided cheap high quality goods to developing nations who could not afford to compete. Their hand craft industry was small and specialized in their own traditional crafts (such as Indian brass) and in the west in reproduction and European style ironwork at home.

Today, if there is profit in making anything in a high labor rate country then it is a target for someone in a low labor rate country.

Even in the specialized area of architectural ironwork where it is locally designed, fitted and installed I have seen offers by shops in India and China to do complete custom jobs and have them shipped in a container. This means that any job large enough to be highly profitable is a target. All the low wage competition has to do is beat the price by the cost of the international shipping (about $2000) to be competitive.

Besides international competition you have local competition that has modernized. Today, due to greater avaiability any serious blacksmith has a power hammer. With it he can out produce the man without one by more than eough to pay for the hammer while producing work at much lower cost. And this is true for practically every major tool. A good drill press quickly pays for it self in the time saved drilling with a hand held drill. An ironworker cuts material at an infintessimal cost per cut. A saw cuts clean, square and accurate when you need those attributes. A bar twister makes accurate repetitive twists without using expensive fuel to heat the bar. Plasma torches cost less per foot cut and produce cleaner work requiring less cleanup labor.

Other than the plasma torch this is all old hat. Today we have computer guided plasma, laser and water jet cutting. Many shops have small CAD directed cutting tables to apply plasma. Eventually laser may become affordable. The thing I have not seen small shops doing is 3D torch cutting. On properly designed pieces you can cut on two axiis and produce a three dimensional part. I have seen tools that would otherwise be expensive forgings done this way.

We now have the option of the small induction forge. Instant heat without smoke or fumes. As more applications aree found and the price comes down they will become more popular.

Vibratory finishers are not too common but they are quite profitable. They relieve the manufacturer of many hours of work normally done by hand by unskilled laborers. They also replace sandblasting of small items and the associated mess.

The problem is that eventually the low wage competition also modernizes. So they have both the advantage of low wages and high productivity. Then all that is left is the art and quality of workmanship. To compete you will have to do better work for the same or less. To get more you will have to do outstanding work on a global scale.

It is why many artists are "starving artists" and many craftsfolk such as blacksmiths are in that category.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/15/06 18:31:58 EST

You didn't put that sticker on that anvil did you?...BOG.

Thanks for pointing out my error. Russell, though I made a origin error-those anvils are just no good.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 11/15/06 18:46:11 EST

Wood for handles: Back when I was heating with wood once in a while I came upon an especially nice piece of hickory and would split out a handle blank. Those I collected were those that made nice curved handles such as for a hewing axe. But I also had a few that were straight. I would usually take a break and rough the shape in the green wood with a hatchet and rasp. Then I would put a staple in the end and hang them from a nail.

But that was many years ago and I no longer heat with wood. If I was going to blank out handles again I would have to invest in a chain-saw and pickup truck. . . kind of expensive handles. I can order a few hundred from McMaster-Carr before it make a dent in the chain saw.

However, handles split from the log are the absolute best. The grain is perfectly in line with the handle. Years ago I came across a handle factory in southern VA or northern NC that still hand split blanks for turning. It goes surprizingly fast on a production basis but requires skilled labor.

In the serious wood construction era the joints at major branches and the root knees of tree were highly sought after. Today what is "crooked waste wood" was the premium pick for curved braces and parts of ships or tool handles.

Of course today if we need such parts we use more advanced methods of working wood. We steam and laminate shapes that in the past we would have to search for. . I do not know which is best but laminated wood is generally stronger than plain and curved lamainated furniture is awful tough.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/15/06 18:50:59 EST

Hey guys, I'm looking at getting my first gas forge and I was wondering if Chili Forge forges ar OK. their web site is www.chiliforge.com I'm looking at the single burner. Thanks alot!
   - Andrew Marlin - Wednesday, 11/15/06 21:11:36 EST

Hi there, just wondering if anyone out there may know of any companies that sell used foundry flasks. There used to be plenty of people that would sell used flasks for 50 or 75 bucks. I need some and paying 600 bucks a pop for a new one is NOT AN OPTION. Can anyone out there help me???
   follyfoundry - Wednesday, 11/15/06 21:16:32 EST

Sledge hammer rehandling:

The problemof flying sledge hammer heads is a very common one, due to the facvt that every sledgel hammer head I've seen had a cast or forged hole that was parallel-sided. With no taper to the hole, there is nothing but friction to hole the handle on. Whenever I have to re-handle a sledge hammer, I take my die grinder and a carbide burr and wallowout the hole at the top end. It doesn't have to be a large amount; a couple of degrees is enough to allow the wedge to spread the handle end enough to prevent flying heads. It's one of those little chores that only takes a few seconds, but may save a dented wall or head.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 11/15/06 22:15:40 EST

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