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This is an archive of posts from November 16 - 21, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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Has anyone come out with a sword that has a pop-out blade in the handle if not im glad if so then can some one tell me where i can find the disine cuz i dont want to "copy write" it with my own disigne...but the only prblem i have is with mine i dont no if i should have a spring strong enough to push it through someone or just strong enough to come out if it is strong then the "extendo blade" would have to be strong enough to hold the impact which would take away from the length but with a smaller one it can be up to 22in. long blade i havent figured out the length for a stong spring though cuz im still not good with metal knowlage but the base...actualy im shuting up now...
   thomas mayhugh - Wednesday, 11/15/06 23:45:50 EST

I almost forgot to mention the handle is about . . . well it about as long as your keyboard so like 16, 18 in.
   thomas mayhugh - Wednesday, 11/15/06 23:51:35 EST

Sci-Fi Swords: Thomas, You want the Kargan's sword from Highlander I. It had pop out side blades and was a break down assembly. Of course the with many of the these movie props is that there is more than one copy. One fit together model, one close up detail model (often sharp) and one used in the fights which is usually dull and soft (stainless is common) but ocassionaly they are actually hard rubber. . . An injured actor can end filming a cost a production millions.

Well. . that one was not EXACTLY what you described, but I have seen a cane sword that was very close.

The problem with actual swords is that they are a high performance tool. They cannot afford hollows, joints, fittings. . They must be a near perfect piece of steel made in an optimum shape. You see a lot of the above in Sci-Fi and adventure movies but it is not real.

Designs are not copyrighted, they are patented (at very great expense). Writing, sculpture and art art copyrighted in their exact form (if original) from thir creation. Symbols are trademarked in a complicated process. Each term, copyright, trademark and patent are legal terms with very different meanings and applications.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 00:05:32 EST

Used Flasks: Nope, the last I saw were at a foundry closing and they cold higher than I could afford. $600, thats a LARGE flask. Whatcha casting?
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 00:07:38 EST

Do you mean one like the one in Salkind's version of the 3&4 musketeers? OR something more like "A Wheellock Dagger from the Court of the Medici" shown in "Arms & Armor Annual"---it shoots the end of the blade and was built several hundered years ago...

Generally such a gizmo makes the sword *less* usefull and is most likely to injure the user.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 11/16/06 00:16:16 EST

thomas mayhugh-- take a gander at the Federal law re: switchblades. It's on the Net. Making, selling, possessing the shiv you describe may be a felony.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/16/06 00:28:18 EST

I know, I know, they are for sale in every gas station in Idaho, all over the Net and in every blade mag. Tough. They're illegal. Try www.findlaw.com and click where it says for professionals, and on that page ask it to show you United States Code TITLE 15 - COMMERCE AND TRADE CHAPTER 29 - MANUFACTURE, TRANSPORTATION, OR DISTRIBUTION OF SWITCHBLADE KNIVES
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/16/06 00:40:58 EST

well i no its not copy write i just couldnt think of the word and this would not be for major deflections it would be more just for when u get caught in a "move" and u could win if u had another blade and wam there u go but yeah needing it to be tough i understand that is y u cant be week to use it it would made from pretty heavy stuff and im not trying to argue either but if i can get it right it would probly run in the range of a new car...o one other thing i no u guys said that titanium would make a lousy sword well how'cum on myth busters they took a sword and it didnt do anything to a red hot titanium blade ( ps im just hearing this from my frieds that it was on if u want go to u-tube thats what they told me to do) anyway like i was saying it wouldnt be like a normal katana (actualy its i think what would be a dai-katana 42in> blade) the handle would be a very tough /hard metal or synthetic depending on when i actualy get around to making it or having it made cuz im nowear near the lv. i need to be for it but yeah the basics are that it would be like an antena in the "extendo thing" like i said the length aint permanent...i really do need to put this thing down on paper though if i showed u the dising i think u would agree it would work...ps sorry if i sound like a wide eyed arogent kid anyway i g2g its school t-row...well today in 4.01 mins so anyway please discus/talk this on my e-mail adress...again sorryfor stupitdy...and apolojizing...ugh its to late..night yall
   thomas mayhugh - Thursday, 11/16/06 00:50:39 EST

Foundry Flasks:

I made some out of large square tubing, I found a chunk of approx. 12 x 12 by 1/2" wall, and had it cut into 6 inch pieces, welded some angle iron on for clips. They worked find for the brass coffee cup sized pieces I was doing
   - Hudson - Thursday, 11/16/06 02:02:18 EST

Perhaps someone can direct Thomas Mayhugh to one of the sword forums for his future questions.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/16/06 02:41:38 EST

Russell: Don't overlook eBay as a source for an anvil. Just go to www.ebay.com and then do an Advanced Search (upper right). Use the keyword of anvil in the Collectibles category. At the bottom of that page ask for highest price first. S&H on an eBay anvil can high, especially if it weighs over 150 lbs and has to be sent freight. However, if you keep looking likely you can find one within pick up distance. If you see one you like you can e-mail me at scharabo@aol.com and I'll give you my opinion of the anvil and price. At the moment they are several anvils with the heel broken off and a Mouse Hole with it about to do so. If you know someone who arc welds it can be repaired to using condition. Broken anvils generally sell fairly cheap and the damage can often be worked around. For example, rather than a hardy hole you can mount a vise lower to hold tooling.

follyfoundry: Also check out eBay. More and more it seems eBay is being used to dump surplus inventory and I have seen graphite crucibles on it.

I received an e-mail from someone asking for my opinion of a large Fisher on Craig's list - www.craigslist.com. You can search by state and then city within state, then by keyword. I suspect you can also search on keyword in all states. On other forums I see Craig's list being referred to increasingly as a good source of items.

On that anvil it was a 180 LB Fisher in really good condition (with bolt down lugs). Price was $225. I told him to hand the guy the money, load up and leave before he realized he was getting taken.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/16/06 08:04:26 EST

Switch Blades: Yep, Illegal. Even little ity bitty ones. The Federal law allows the manufacture, sale and posession of very small ones (less than 2.5" I THINK). But then each state regulates them differently. The sping out push knife is completely illegal.

In Virginia, my legal residence I could carry a Federal legal switch blade if it was not hidden (IE in a pocket - open carry law). A little 2.5" knife is awful easy to slip in one's pocket if they are not thinking about it and accustomed to having a similar folder in their pocket. You can get a concealed carry permit in Virginia. Police and military are exempt from some of the Virginia statute.

In North Carolina (where I spend considerable time) ALL switch blades of all types are illegal for all people including police and military.

Maryland and West Virginia also have different laws than Virginia so if I were to travel at all in ANY direction with my clearly visible clip-on blade (as required by Virginia law) I could be arrested. . . The being legal here but an hour later being guilty of a felony is just too crazy.

I know all this because I was given a very generous gift of an AL MAR Automatic knife. It was a beautiful little thing not much larger than the small Buck folder I have been carrying for years. After looking into the law I decided that it was way too complicated to keep as I travel a lot and my knife is always in my pocket. . . So now a good friend in a territory where he feels secure with it has it. I tried to give it to several folks nearer by but all refused after admiring the beauty of the thing.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 08:34:08 EST

Also note laws on knives, firearms and ammunition vary greatly from country to country. Recall reading of customs in Jamacia finding a single .22 bullet in a tourist luggage. Tourist was arrestion for violating the country's firearms laws and jailed for quite a bit of time. Perhaps a scam for eventually getting the equivalent of ransom, but jails/prisons in many foreign countries are not reported to be nice places to be in even briefly.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/16/06 09:11:30 EST

I had inherited a 1930's Italian switch, about 2-1/2". I keep it in my display at home, NEVER carry it. Cops won't care how special it is or how much it's worth. It's still illegal to CARRY, but in PA. it's legal to have it in a locked display case as a collector item.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 11/16/06 09:42:52 EST

Hear in texas it depends on the cop
and what's happening, like for example, during katrina and rita( the hurricans) it was perfectly ok ( and even recomended in some places down hear) to carry a sword or bowie or some kind of larger blade, just as long as it wasn't conceled. but other than times you might need to scare off a looter, down hear it's all up to the cops discetion, no matter how long or short if he don't like it, it's gone. well that's my though for the day, enjoy
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 11/16/06 09:55:25 EST

Laws Elsewhere: Culture and descretion can also be confusing. It is common for farmers in Costa Rica to carry Machetties (big long ones around 18") everywhere. They are the symbol of their status as hard workers and as in many other parts of the world they are often brandished during peaceful political protests. Try doing THAT in the US! But if you get caught in a brawl with a knife on you (even a small one) it can be labeled a weapon and this is more likely if you are a tourista.

They make beautiful leather sheaths to carry your machetti there but it is recommended NOT to wear one in the city OR especially if you look like a tourista or gringo. My friends in Costa Rica carry there's everywhere on the farm but they leave it in the car when elsewhere. You see blades and sheaths everywhere in the city market carried by men and women alike but NEVER by city folks.

For such a big piece of steel they are amazingly cheap, about $15 US, $18-20 with a sheath. The blades are often made in Germany.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 11:24:21 EST

I have a cast iron casting flask and foundry tools. I also have a 126 lb nice Peter Wright Anvil. These will be on ebay within the next couple of weeks if any of the folks here who were looking for these items are interested.
   - 108budden - Thursday, 11/16/06 11:30:48 EST

how much for the anvil?
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 11/16/06 11:38:51 EST

Hi Andrew
I will go post a reply over in the anvilfire hammer-in forum. I don't want to bog this one down on Jock.
   - 108budden - Thursday, 11/16/06 11:41:14 EST

Foundry Flasks: I bought a 5' high stack of them at a school auction for $25 total and then resold them at Quad-State---all except 1 of each size, then gave away those when I moved to NM. What I generally use are tunafish cans and a hose clamp---I like the old ones where the seam can be used for registration.

Ti: *PLEASE* read the article on Ti over at swordforum.com. I have forged a bit of Ti in my forge: tongs, penannular brooch, pipe tool, knife fork spoon; etc.

My Christmas holiday project this year will be making a couple of Ti hammer heads. The CP Ti I use is dead soft in the forge at proper forging temp. I plan to cut it for the hammer heads using a plain steel hardy and this is stuffabout 2" thick. I've cut smaller stock with a regular hacksaw---only problem is with the work hardening. Friends of mine cut plates for Ti armour with my B1 beverly shear and punched holes in it with my whitney punch---same blades/punches as used to cut/punch steel.

I don't know what mythbusters or youtube has on it---I just *KNOW* what I have done with it. If you are in the Central NM area over Christmas stop by and you can help!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/16/06 12:48:12 EST

Canadian Anvil - Cam; (if possible) check the anvil out for yourself. If you haven't yet, go to the FAQ's page and read the articles about anvils, even if it's just as a refresher. Larger anvils (300 lb. plus) were generally commercial shop items. As such they wers used and depending upon the shop may have been abused (used as support for torch cutting or cold chiselling.)

Doing the math, at $2.67 Cdn/lb that's a reasonable price to start haggling at for a GOOD condition Peter Wright or Mouse Hole, especially if it's not at an auction. Well advertised auctions here (Kingston to Toronto area of Ont.) can bring out the COLLECTORS who drive prices up - sometimes ridiculously.

Guru - so far as I know the ASSIST Site is open to the public. If not I'll stand corrected, and my apologies to those i mis-informed. The Mil Spec's are public domain (with associated costs kept up by the U.S. Mil./Gov.) however many have been cancelled and replaced by SAE, ASTM, or other organization(s) bringing the Spec's under commercial control/copyright. A way the U.S. Federal Gov. started reducing costs.

   Don - Thursday, 11/16/06 13:17:49 EST

Foundry Flasks: We have some confusing here about flasks and crucibles. Crucibles are what you melt the metal in, flasks hold the sand mold.

Flasks come in all kinds of sizes and arrangements. The only commercial one I have is a little jewler's flask about 4 x 6 x 2" and are made of cast iron.

For thousands of years wood flasks were common and are still used in a many small foundries. However, steel flasks replaced wood and complex alluminium ones are found in many foundries. Both are plain or ribbed and some surprisingly light weight for their size.

Backyardfoundry.com has a nice article on casting aluminium flasks as components and Budget Casting Supply sells a range of fabricated steel flasks for $200 to $300.

Since I am a hard core DIY person I would either cast or fabricate my own. For crucibles however, For most purposes you are best off to buy good ones. You CAN melt low temperature alloys in pipe crucibles but you must coat them with a ceramic coating to prevent aluminium or zinc from disolving them and peeing hot metal on you or in you furnace.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 13:33:58 EST

Don, All the assist site does for me is redirect me to a "you must register" web page. So I did. I received an automatic response. . .
Thank you for taking the time to register with ASSIST-Online!

* Please give our Administrators up to 5 business days to activate your account. Once your account has been activated, you will receive an e-mail at. . .

The registration page lists branches of the government and a general "commercial" category and requires many more details than just public access. . So I wait. But it is NOT a public page.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 13:48:44 EST

Anvil Horn Repair:
I recently acquired a Peter Wright anvil with a horn that is covered with chisel marks. Would it be possible/advisable to fill in the gouges left by the chisel marks with weld in order to restore the surface?

   Steven Galonska - Thursday, 11/16/06 14:15:51 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 - Thursday, 11/16/06 14:17:37 EST

Russel & Andrew B: If you are anywhere near Arkansaw also check out eBay #180050045496. Guy is selling a lot of five anvils, four post vises, three post drills, four forges, 20 tongs and 20 hammers (probably an assortment of handled tools). There's a blacksmith shop set-up in there somewhere, plus surplus equipment can be sold.

Note he says two anvils are likely Champion. Then says a postvise with a C may also be a Champion. Postvise is obviously a Columbian, so anvils might also be.

Lot is $810 at the moment with pick up only.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/16/06 14:18:26 EST

John S.

I really appreciate and respect your enthusiasm. I don't think any argument will get them to change their mind. It really is an insurance thing and a liability. They would not be covered under their existing policy with you using the shop with your equiptment inside. They would not be able to be held harmless. They would have too much to loose.
   - Burnt Forge - Thursday, 11/16/06 14:22:22 EST

Steve G

The best thing to do is use a hand held belt sander or a flap disc on and angle grinder to take the sharp surface from the chisel marks. Welding the face would ruin the integrity of the hardened face. Smooth markings in the face will not affect your work.
   - Burnt Forge - Thursday, 11/16/06 14:24:36 EST

Burnt Forge,
The chisel marks are all on the horn a good distance away from the face of the anvil.

From what I understand the horns on the old English anvils are wrought iron and hence not hardened which is why I asked about the possibility of filling in the divots left by the chisel marks. If I am wrong in this assumption please correct me though. I'm not overly concerned if I cannot repair the surface of the horn as this is not my primary anvil, but I would like to get it repaired if possible.

   Steven Galonska - Thursday, 11/16/06 15:09:00 EST

I'll carry the knife discusion over to the Hammer-In as well.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/16/06 15:13:14 EST

Foundry Flasks
I've made foundry flasks out of angle iron. Make two frames, with the flange to the outside, the same size and use a bolt and wing nut to hold them togeather. They were fast and cheep. If ya need a picture send me an email.

   blackbart - Thursday, 11/16/06 15:40:35 EST

Steve, I have the same problem with my Wilkinson anvil, gouges all over the top of the horn. Interested in anyones experienced opinion. (BTW, the Wilkinson is VERY old, prob wrought horn)
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 11/16/06 15:41:02 EST

Chisel Marks on Horns:

Yes, the horn is wrought and very soft. Wrought is also sometimes difficult to weld and you can end up with larger divots than you started with. Arc and gas welding tend to melt out the silicon slag inclusions and make a mess.

If the marks are fresh and sharp you can reduce them by hammering in the raised edges back into the surface. After this you can file and or grind. I would not weld unless the marks are very deep.

I have ground out marks that looked terrible but were not as deep as they appeared. I like using a belt sander on horns and rolling it over the curve. Makes a very smooth surface.

But if you need to weld then it is not a problem on the horn on old wrought anvils. But you might be surprised at the undercutting and blow outs on wrought. The saving grace here is that Peter Wright used the best top grade wrought while others such as Mouse Hole used scrap.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 15:51:19 EST

The folks who run the ASSIST site got sued by private republishers of Mil Specs who claimed they were taking away their business, so they had to limit access. Last I saw I think it was open through registration to Federal Government employees and probably either DoD or Federal contractors, but the policy could have changed.
   Mike B - Thursday, 11/16/06 18:51:14 EST

I am a new hobbiest at this facinating craft.I am setting up a new shop and I am building a forge table simular to the one shown in The Blacksmithing Primer page 167.
To avoid cutting a hole for the stack in my new steel roof I would rather build a side draft unit with a power flue.There are small furnace flue fans now availabe for such applications.?? My forge table will be located on an outside wall allowing venting thru the wall and then upwards.
Does anyone have a design to share or info on such a unit they can direct me to.

Thanks for any info you can provide.
   Byron Aubrey - Thursday, 11/16/06 19:48:28 EST

My electric blower on my Buffalo coal forge is giving up the ghost. Been repaired countless times over the last 35 years and there's just not enough left to bother with it. What I need to know is how many CFMs do I need for a 12" firepot? I've been thinking about a Dayton blower from Grainger; but don't know what model to order. I'd like something quieter than what I've had. Any ideas will be appreciated. Oh, did I mention I build large fires?
   brian robertson - Thursday, 11/16/06 20:13:02 EST

Off to forge at the Festival of the Cranes at the Bosque del Apache, be back on-line Monday!

I'm going to see Miles down there so he can thrash me soundly with a yellow rag for my views on newspaper reporters...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/16/06 20:39:59 EST

After cutting a 7" rail with a hacksaw, I'm in the market for a power hacksaw (as I've seen at times on this site). BUT when I ask for this item, sales people either do not know what I'm talking about or they laugh. Any suggestions about where I can get my hands on a good, cheap power hacksaw that will cut 7" scrap rail?
   Roger - Thursday, 11/16/06 20:55:18 EST

Saws: Roger, You are looking for a horizontal bandsaw or cut-off saw, also called a convertable saw. The problem is that the small ones that are cheap are not much good. The best of the small saws are OK. But they are all limited to 4x6". Saws the nest size up are all industrial type machines. For the low end on these look for Kalamazoo. The Kaynes sell them. The mid and high end are real industrail machines that cost as much as a small car.

Power hack saws come in two categories. Hobbiest and home built or HD industrial. There are many of the later around but they are big and still expensive when 70 years old. I looked for a current manufacturer and could not find one. Marvel used to make them but has converted to band saws only.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 21:29:24 EST

Forge Blowers: For full size shop forges 150 to 300 CFM is required. You can run small forges on less but then you can't do more. . You can always reduce the air flow. Good forge fans are fairly high pressure (head) compared to fans that just move air. Those sold by our advertisers are the right type.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 21:37:17 EST

SIdeways: Byron, If you have a good stack you can make a turn out the wall and the stack will draw enough. Fans must be able to take the heat of the forge smoke. Most I have seen on stacks either did not work or had failed and then the stack did not work. You are MUCH better off to use a natural draft system.

If you start with a side draft hood as shown on our plans page and go out the back and then into an outdoor free standing stack you have as few of turns as possible and if you keep the pipe big it will work fine.

What kills overhead hoods is the excess cold air. ALL the air at the opening of a hood tries to move to the stack, hot and cold. This dilutes the hot air and reduces efficiency. Excess smoke spills around the edges while cold room air is still trying to go up the stack. A good side draft stack only has as big of opening as is necessary and thus creates a high velocity draft.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/16/06 21:44:20 EST

Byron: I got some pictures from Uri Hoffi of his shop/school. His side draft hoods are about 12"x 12" square duct that penetrates the masonry wall and continues up with a 12"dia. stack. He says they work really well. Another suggestion from John Larson is to run a 12" stack from the ground to above the roof peak and use a 12" "T" to run another pipe through the wall to the forge. The benifit of this method is that the weight of the stack is carried right to the ground, and this gives a place for the rainwater to go, rather than running right into Your forge.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 11/16/06 23:05:49 EST

Thomas-- Nahhh, I told you, man, I'm on your side.... This sort of thing simply must stop. Sue 'em for the incalculable damages you have suffered as a result of those slipshod sensation-seeking yellow dog journalists! As ye sue, so shall ye reap: a judge in the middle west just got seven mill out of a jury for what a paper published about him. If he can do it, why, my goodness! Roger-- it's called an oxy-acetylene torch. Frowned upon by some in this venue, but try it. You'll like it.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/16/06 23:57:59 EST

Power assisted draft,
I have a stack that will draw OK when its warmed up, But if its not yet warm or stormy weather it will not draw too well. I fixed it by using an air blower piped into the stack that creates a venturi effect to help draw the smoke.
This way the blower mechanism does not need to be heat or corrosion resistant. Maybe not the most elegant, but it does work...
   - Sven - Friday, 11/17/06 00:52:45 EST

The power hacksaw is not very common these days. Behringer, a german saw company, still makes new ones- but they cost big bucks. All the way up to 17" square cutting, full auto feed if you want it.
www.behringersaws.com if you want to see some pretty, new, state of the art power hacksaws.
They still make new ones in India, too, a lot cheaper than the Behringers.

If what you really want is a power hacksaw, rather than a horizontal bandsaw, there are lots of cheap used ones around- fewer than before scrap prices got so high, but they are still out there.

For instance, if you live in the Northwest, George Washington Machinery in Quincy Washington has a Marvel 9A for $850. They also have a Racine that will cut a 10" square for only $350.
Schwada Machine in Delafield Wisconsin has a Racine for $595.
Mohawk Machinery up in Ohio has an 18" Marvel- no price listed.
Production Machinery in Illinois has a 10" Marvel- again, no price listed.

Call all the used machinery dealers around you, or, if there arent any close, go to www.machinetools.com or www.locatoronline.com
Many dealers wont waste money listing a powerhacksaw in their ads, as almost no one ever buys em, so its worth calling and asking.

Also I would call all the local machine shops, and ask them if they have one to sell. When time is money, most guys have bought newer, auto horizontal bandsaws if they have a lot of cutting to do, and there is often an old hacksaw sitting in the corner covered in dirt.
   - ries - Friday, 11/17/06 01:23:05 EST

Roger: Rather than a power hacksaw (or recipicating saw) are you inquiring about a portable bandsaw, one you hold while it cuts?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/17/06 02:50:50 EST

Ries, Don't forget to note that all those machines are probably 3PH. To many people that is the end of the discussion.
   - guru - Friday, 11/17/06 08:59:19 EST

powers: im not sure i dont think ive seen thoughs but basicaly its a 33 1/2in. blade 16 1/2in handle 4 3/4 of the handle would hold the tang (i no its not much) with a switchin the gaurd and blade lock and release at the end of the handle bout an inch down and bout a (im guessing) 1 in. sori by the way how do u find that mesure? so like a larger katana that would be a "dai" right?
   thomas mayhugh - Friday, 11/17/06 09:48:40 EST

Thomas M. You really need to take these questions to one of the blade forums. However, they are likely to tell you the same thing I am now, EDUCATE YOURSELF!

There are dozens of good books and videos on blade making. We have reviews of several on our book review page and others listed on our "Sword Making Resources" list. Until you have studied (not just read but STUDIED) all the ones we list you are not ready to even think about this project.

THEN, you need some experiance. Have you made any kind of high performance blade before? A simple blade? Done any metal work requiring precision layout and construction? Then you need to made a few dozen blade before trying to make blades with working parts such as pocket knives, folders and switchblades. Which, by the way there are some good books on making folders and we a review of one. Have you read the review? Gotten the book?

Besides blade making skills you will need design skills including free hand and mechanical drawing to make what you want. Yes you can start in making something without detail drawings and exact dimensions but folks that do without have years of experiance and have all that stored in their memory so that what results will be a work of art not piece of crap. Us mortal makers of things start with a drawing of what looks like a beautiful well proportioned object and follow it as closely as possible and sometimes the work is equal to the drawing. Otherwise you are doomed to making dozens of ugly objects that probably don't work well. OR you give up after the first in frustration. It is MUCH easier to make your mistake on paper.

Can't draw? It is a hand skill. DO you think drawing with a hammer in steel is easier than on paper with a pencil? Do you think carving a line with a chisel is easier than drawing a line with a ruler? These are hand skills much more difficult to perfect than drawing with pen and pencil. Creating with light and imagination is MUCH easier than in the hard reality wood, stone and steel.

There are a thousand details to know to do what you want to do the least of which is general dimensions.
   - guru - Friday, 11/17/06 10:29:07 EST

www.Lindsaybks.com will sell you a set of plans, by Dave Gingery, I think, for a power hacksaw.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/17/06 11:19:09 EST

On wrought iron and anvils. In The Blacksmith, Ironworker & Farrier (formerly The Village Blacksmith) Aldren Watson metions New England blacksmiths making a pile of used horseshoes outside their shop. These could grow to be quite large. Eventually a scrap iron dealer would come buy and haul off the pile. I noted in Richard Postman's books Mouse Hole Forge forge welded up their own billets from scrap. I asked him if horseshoes might have been a goodly part of it and he said it was likely. Straightened out they would have made a nice, compact billet.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/17/06 12:15:51 EST

Any machine tool worth having is 3phase. When your addiction reaches a certain stage, 3phase becomes a necessity.
I am spoiled, as I have had 3phase in all but one of my shops since 1985 or so. So I take it for granted. I have 200 amps of 3 phase right now, but I am planning on adding another 200 amps this year. I probably have a dozen 3 phase machines I use daily.

But you can easily build a rotary phase converter from a large used 3phase motor, there are lots of free plans and advice on the web.
And nowadays, VFD's, which convert single phase power to three phase and give you variable speed as a bonus, are as cheap as a few hundred dollars.
So its a lot easier to get a 3 phase motor running than it used to be.

   - ries - Friday, 11/17/06 12:53:25 EST

Horseshoe scrap piles. My families Blacksmith shop that was in business since the mid 1800's till 1995 still had many large piles of used horseshoes out front of the shop for the scrap guy. There were still some piles there in the early part of this century.
   - Burnt Forge - Friday, 11/17/06 13:14:18 EST

Just updated my metal art page. Please give it a glance and tell me what you guys think.

   - Nippulini - Friday, 11/17/06 14:06:53 EST

TGN, I like the crab with plies pinchers! Something to do with all those cheepo pliers that don't work well!

The robot is a hoot as well.
   - guru - Friday, 11/17/06 14:43:51 EST

Scrap in Anvils:

Ken, You have to see broken anvils and the scrap conversion process to have a clue to what was REALLY done. The scrap is piled in the furnace in neat stacks but nothing is straightened of cleaned up. At the most pieces are chopped just enough to fit. Then the ugly mass that is sticking together from the sparkling heat was pulled out and consolidated under a tilt or drop hammer. Horse shoes are shoe shaped, bolts bolt shaped, everything a mish-mash. A couple wacks in several directions and most of the trash is squeezed out and if everything is right you have a big lump of wrought.

The problem lies with rust and the overall process. When the scrap is generally clean and the welding heat right you get a fairly solid mass. However, this WAS wrought and in this the grain is now going every direction. But where there was unusually heavy rust, paint or dirt the weld
did not take place. So you have a billet with cold shuts. These are weak places and they are a opportunity to fail.

And they did fail. I've seen numerous Mouse Hole anvils where the upper body was broken in two just behind the waist. What you see on the break surface are recognizable shapes and lumps, surfaces that did not weld.

On the other hand, Peter Wright claims to have used nothing but new wrought. I think this is part of the reason you see more Peter Wright anvils with severely swayed tops. The scrap Mouse Hole used probably had a good amount of steel in it and produced a tougher body when welded right. So much for using the "best" materials. . .

I've heard the same complaints about modern plate made from scrap where there was improper melting and pieces in the scrap still look like what they were before. . bolts, springs, wheel bearings. . . The bad think about this is that some of these are VERY hard parts. If they melted completely and mixed with the rest, no problem. Otherwise. . it can be rough on drills and cutters.
   - guru - Friday, 11/17/06 15:08:24 EST

If you have ever seen a modern electric arc furnace, melting scrap in a steel mill, and the liquid that comes out of it, you would have a hard time believing the stories of bolts making thru the process.

More likely, the occasional bolt or bearing gets dropped into the rolling line, and the already rolled steel bar or sheet gets a bolt cold rolled into it at the final end of the process.
   - ries - Friday, 11/17/06 15:44:17 EST

Could be. Or could be a load of scrap added just before rolling. . . But you never know. I've heard these stories too and never seen any real evidence.
   - guru - Friday, 11/17/06 17:38:54 EST

I'm in the process of setting up a new forge, and im looking for information regarding ceramic chip gas forges. as im a little issolated down here in New Zealand, so hope to build the forge myself. any help would be greatfully receaved.
   Noel Andrew - Friday, 11/17/06 21:34:59 EST

Plate from scrap: I too have heard of a tap rolled into plate, but never saw that type of problem. We used a lot of heavy plate, and it sure did machine diferently from piece to piece. This was plate rolled in the mid to late '80s.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/17/06 22:52:07 EST

Ceramic Chips: Noel, You will need a source of a refractory called "synthetic mullite" OR natural mullite. A mineral called kyanite is mined, ground and extruded into pieces that are then fired creating synthetic mullite. The fired synthetic mullite is then broken down and ground into aggregate for use in refractory cements and bricks.

Mullite is one of the refractories that is highly resistant to attack by iron oxide (scale) at forge operating temperatures. This is why you want this mineral.

For your forge you want the coarsest lumps available (about 10 to 20mm). In use they will break down over time and you need to sift out the fines and replace with new mullite.

That takes care of ONE aspect of the forge. The other is the grate and fire pot. Originally Flamefast used stainless firepots and had trouble with them. So they changed to refractory. This can be made of castable refractory. However, you need some kind of ceramic grate with holes for the burner. This is a difficult and expensive part to make and is usually made by specialists in refractory parts.

Now. . there MAY be way around the grate. A fire ring nozzle pointing down from behind the refractory fire pot sides MIGHT work - lots of R&D here.

Last. . I am told that working in front of a ceramic chip forge is akin to standing too close to the sun. They are brilliant and HOT. For all their supposed advantages they are high maintenance and not that friendly to use.

How do I know all these details. . . I spent a BUNCH of time researching them and designing my own before I came to the conlusion that they were not worth it. AND I live only 30 miles from Kyanite mining in Virgina where they make the synthetic mullite that, among other things. . is exported all the way to England for the Flamefast forges.

You might try broken refractory bricks for "chips". The burner is a typical blown type gas forge burner. The commercial units have ignition and flame out detection.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/18/06 00:24:55 EST

adjunct to above post. Like i mentioned the horseshoes were piled up outside of shops for the scrap guy as illustrated by my families shop and old blacksmith magazines However I believe them being used in anvil billets is an urban legend dreamed up by Ken and Richard. Kinda like the North wacking anvils in two.
   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 11/18/06 00:42:19 EST


Great Critters!! You have a wonderful imagination. I really like your sculpture. I like your shop keeping it simple and making it work. Good job!
   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 11/18/06 00:50:32 EST

Burnt Forge: I didn't say it had been documented, just speculated. If you took scrap horseshoes, straightened them out and then make alternating layers it would have the billet come out a bit like plywood, with alternating layers of grain.

Plus, particularly for a farrier, a bit of added romance from knowing some horseshoes may have been incorporated into the anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/18/06 05:16:03 EST

Scrap in melt: I've always figured that even if a bearing, dental pick, etc. could make it out of the furnace without melting, it would no longer be in a recognizable shape by the time the billet was rolled (drawn) out to a cross section an average blacksmith could use. Maybe in really heavy sections, but its hard for me to believe stories about finding a dental tool in a piece of 1/2" square.
   Mike B - Saturday, 11/18/06 09:02:23 EST

It's like the urban ledgends of finding a Band-Aid in your Twinkie.

By the way, thanks for all the kudos about my work!
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 11/18/06 09:16:28 EST

The boiler shops at the big valve and boiler company I worked for for 21 years never found any things rolled into the plant that I was aware of, and we used a LOT of plate. Granted ours was very good quality plate with heat code tracability since it went into boilers, but never any reports. We used plate up to 6" by the hundred ton.
In fact we called anything 3/8" or less sheet iron! My experience with that shop ended in about 1994, as the shops were moved away. We also used huge quantities of rolled bar and shapes and never had any reports of finding anything in them either. Again tracable stock. We did find tiny "pipes" in some of the continous cast stock that allowed them to leak, when the bar was made into valve stems. This was in 316SS and 410SS. My experience here was from 1981 to 2002, and we used perhaps 80 million pounds a year. In 2002 I went to the axle forge shop, and all the steel was mini mill stuuf made mostly from scrap, and there we used about 100 million pounds a year. No "stuff" in side that we found.
I suspect the finding of "stuff" in steel is an urban legend.
   ptree - Saturday, 11/18/06 09:48:32 EST

The stuff I have heard stories about was heavy plate in the 4" and up range. And indeed I have seen some interesting inclusions in plate but not like this. Usually slag inclusions or things that looked like cold shuts well into the middle of the plate.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/18/06 09:49:51 EST

Wrought scrap,
I did a research paper for a history class a few years ago on New Albany Indiana. Right on the shores of the Ohio, just below the falls, was a vibrant industry, converting scrap into bar and billits. This was in the 1860 to about 1910 era as I remember. Scrap was piled into furnaces, and when at welding temp was run thru rolls to weld into bar and billits. I never saw mention of hammers. This "new" bar and billet would then be on the "Right" side of the falls of the Ohio to be picked up by steam boat and delivered as far south as New Orleans. Apparently much of the scrap came Louisville's industry, which then had several big agricultral implement makers, including B.F. Avery & Son. At the turn of the century, they were the worlds biggest maker of farm equipment. Lots of scrap to work with. Odd that no maker of anvils was here as the river was the main cheap transportation route for much of the early history of this part of the country. Later Louisville was a major transportation hub as well with four major rail lines coming together.
   ptree - Saturday, 11/18/06 09:58:19 EST

Lore. See "fagot welding horseshoes" in Hammer-in forum.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/18/06 10:00:32 EST

Could you tell me where i could find information on the processes and machinery required to set up a TMT rebar production plant?


   sunil - Saturday, 11/18/06 10:22:27 EST

I understand your theory. Didn't mean to write about the urban legend like I was picking on you.
   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 11/18/06 10:53:42 EST


Outstanding job on the robot!
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/18/06 11:16:57 EST

I have just finished building a gas forge and the burner I built seem to not get hot enough. to help with this I use a blower to get to weld temp, my question is would putting another layer of durablanket help my burner? My next question is are RR spikes made of a very hard steel, because even at yellow hot they are very hard to work with.
   - Jo S - Saturday, 11/18/06 13:02:00 EST

Old here - forty years in machining and mechanical design.

Any info laying around on yield strength of plain carbon steel at say 1500 degrees F. ? This is to help a former employer determine if is worthwile considering heating 3" plate before forming, and from that making a decision on building or not building a dedicated die. Currently he is short on press tonnage. Material is SA 516-70, normalized.

Thank you

   John Oder - Saturday, 11/18/06 14:19:14 EST

Hello Guru,

Thanks for the suggestions on getting David Manzerís DVD on using the power hammer. It was a good idea to watch it several times before going to Bob Patrickís Power Hammer class at Tom Clarkís Ozark School of Blacksmithing in Pitosi, Missouri. We also watched it during a break in the class and all said they thought it to be a good presentation.
The power hammer training was very good and I shipped home a box full of power hammer tooling that we made in the class. If they had been purchased, they would have added up to nearly half the cost of the tuition. Bob Patrick is a great teacher in letting us make mistakes, then showing us how to fix them. He was also quick in keeping us from getting hurt from lack of training on how to use the hammer. There were no injuries sustained during the week long class, but we all developed a great degree of respect for the hammers, especially the 60kg model.

Iíve made good progress on getting my 50kg hammer set up, after finally getting the concrete foundation and shop floor poured. I decided to combine all the great advice I got here on the forum and expect the hammer installation will work very well. The foundation for the hammer ( 4 by 10 by 1.5 foot thick - 2.2 yards of concrete with a pocket for the hammer sub-base) is separated from the shop floor (6 inch thick) with strips of conveyor belting, with a concrete filled (.6 yards) steel box sitting on sand in the foundation pocket, with a rubber layer (ĺ inch thick horse stall mat) on top of the sub-base, and finally two 1.0 inch steel plates bolted to anchors that are welded to rebar cage in the steel box. The hammer will be bolted to holes tapped into the steel plate. Perhaps a bit involved, but I am going to do it only once, I hope. The Say-mak hammers we used in class worked well on the oak timbers that Tom provides with delivery of the hammers, and I expect mine will work a bit better on the foundation described. It was a great class to take and Iím a very happy Say-mak power hammer owner. Iíve added the Free Form Forging with Uri Hofi
DVD to my Christmas wish list and expect to learn more on how to use the compound drawing dies I now have for my hammer.

PS: did you get a chance to edit your write up on a training plan for a blacksmith? Your note back to "Thomas M." on Nov 17th reminded me that you responded to my request to reprint your original message was to wait for an update.
   Bob Johnson - Saturday, 11/18/06 18:08:29 EST

John, technically, steel does not have a yield strength at 1500F. The yield point is where steel transitions from elastic to plastic behavior. At 1500F, it will be entirely plastic. I belive data on steel at this temperature is very difficult to find but my recollection is that it has a TENSILE strength in the 5000psi range.
   - Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/18/06 18:27:26 EST

John, technically, steel does not have a yield strength at 1500F. The yield point is where steel transitions from elastic to plastic behavior. At 1500F, it will be entirely plastic. I belive data on steel at this temperature is very difficult to find but my recollection is that it has a TENSILE strength in the 5000psi range.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/18/06 18:27:55 EST

Oops, sorry for the double post. My Bad.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/18/06 18:28:22 EST

Ken S.

Horseshoe scrap

Just a guess on my part. If horseshoes scrap was used in making anvils. I think it would be more likely used as scrap in cast anvils. Maybe like Fisher anvils. Just a thought.

Then I thought about how would one really ever know. As I still think shoes used in wrought forged anvils is an Urban Legend. Then I realized the answer is quite simple. While forging on your anvil and creating an energy field just simple ask the anvil. It may give you an answer.
   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 11/18/06 18:34:03 EST

   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 11/18/06 18:35:10 EST

TNG, Outstanding! I remember the first time you posted here and most of us thought you were a real wacko! Hanging an anvil from your nipples? HA! I for one am glad you stayed and shared your talent with us!
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/18/06 18:35:18 EST

Jo S: Your question is a bit along the line of "My car doesn't run right, what's wrong?" Need more information. What is the inside dimension of your chamber? Front opening only? Does 'gas' mean propane? Single burner? Did this start out as atmospheric and you have super-charged it with additional air? What size burner tubes are you using? What is your orifice size?

On the RR spike question: Most are between about .02 and .03 carbon, essentially mild steel between say 1018 and A36, I believe. Any 5/8" stock is going to be hard to move by hand at just a yellow heat.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/18/06 18:57:53 EST


I would appreciate it if you could please provide me with all the information you have concerning the Pirson Chasing Tools Manufacturing Company, which I believe was located in Paris, France. I assume it was in business from about 1820 to about 1880. That is merely an educated guess.

I know that there are Chasing Tools which were manufactured, distributed and/or sold by Pirson, because a friend of mine recently acquired some. My friend tells me they are of surprisingly excellent quality and are stamped: "Pirson-Paris." Neither my friend nor I know anything more about this company.

I would like to know:

a. All details and other general information you may have about the founding, formation, business, activities and winding-up of the Pirson Company;

b. All information you may have about Pirson in its current form whether it has survived intact or has been succeeded by another company through merger or acquisition;

c. Information about the Pirson family, if they survive and if they have continued in any way in the metalworking professions;

d. The probable date of manufacture of the Pirson Chasing Tools which have sparked this inquiry, which were purchased via the internet by a friend of mine; and

e. Any other information which you believe might be relevant to this inquiry.

This is a strictly personal inquiry.

Thank you for your kind and prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,
CALEB BOONE, Attorney at Law
Suite 304 1200 Main Street
Post Office Box 188
Hays, KS 67601

p: 785-625-6551
f: 785-625-7733
c: 785-623-0023

e: caleb@eaglecom.net
   Caleb Boone - Saturday, 11/18/06 19:49:53 EST

Anvil with diagonal hole. Hi. Sorry for the late response to the diagonal holed anvil. I did a demo at an art conclave (my first!), and the host had one of these 110 lb. diagonal holed anvils. It was pretty ugly, but it survived without getting dented too badly. I made tongs, and enlisted some of the audience members to strike with a sledge to draw out the reins. I have never forged on a cast iron ASO, but I would suspect that if that anvil were cast iron, it would have sustained some damage.

But, maybe we were hitting cautiously. I saw a nearly new Haberman Czech anvil lose a large chip during a striking demo with Tom Clark and Tsur Sadan. These guys really teach you that "size doesn't matter", unless, of course, it's the size of the stock. No more excuses for those wimpy hits.
   EricC - Saturday, 11/18/06 21:02:34 EST

a friend of mine just got a 110# anvil with a diagonal hardy from harbor frieght. He now wants to know if it was worth $150?
thanks ya'll
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Sunday, 11/19/06 09:46:47 EST

Andrew, We did a review of the original "Ugly Russian" several years ago and concluded it was an OK beginner's anvil. The recent iteration is reputed to be from China and may or may not be the equal of the Russian. The Russian was not very hard and marked easily. However, if your only criteria for quality is the ring, this thing is a hum-dinger. Or ring-dinger maybe. Don't hit the anvil very hard, don't let the stock get cold, don't hit any of the hardy tools very hard or you run the risk of cracking off the heel. Is it worth $150? My Old World 170# anvil now sells for over $500 and a PeddingZoo sells for about $1000. I'd rather learn on an ASO than spend big bucks to learn I had no eye-hand coordination.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/19/06 09:58:18 EST

I was in a Harbor Freight yesterday, and they had a diagonal hole anvil for about $98 I think. I bounced a hard chisel off it to see what sound I got. It rang like it was pretty hard. Claim to be steel from Russia on the nameplate. May be. It was still one of the most ugly anvils I have seen. It had been snag ground at the parting line down the horn. It would take a lot of grinding to get the horn usable. The top was flycut, but looked like they have learned to make a finish pass, as I think you could probably finish the top in about an hour. If steel, pretty fair price for a starter if you can grind, Although the diagonal hardy would prevent me from using the hole with hard blows.
   ptree - Sunday, 11/19/06 10:04:04 EST

Burnt Forge:

1. Horseshoes in wrought iron bodied anvils being a 'urban myth' is about like the woman in the bar who will have sex with you for $1M, but won't for $20. I would guess there were at least 500K anvils made with a wrought iron bodies from say the very early 1800s to about 1920. On those which used scrap for billets I have no doubt at least one horseshoe found its way into at least one billet. Didn't state it as a fact but rather a possibility.

2. You don't allow e-mails to be sent directly to you. I need some research done at the Brooklyn Historical Society, or appropriate main library, on Dunn & Murcott, anvil manufacturers, in Brookly in the late 1800s. Business later became the American Wrought Anvil Company. If interested please contact me.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/19/06 10:14:11 EST

Diagonal hole anvil. Yeah, that hole looks pretty weak. The host will probably never use his hardy hole (odd size), and when I was there, I did all my cutting with my chisels over a cutting plate. He told me why he chose this anvil. He was outraged at the high prices around here (Bay Area, California). $4/pound for anything decent. Anvils under $3/pound were usually pretty sad, often with excessive cutting torch work on the top. I was just in a shop last week and saw what a newbie with an itchy trigger finger could do to the furniture with a cutting torch. Awesome.

We can complain all we want about rising prices or declining quality, but the trend goes on with or without us. I also have a lot of "rage against the machine". People think my cast hammers with "Made in US" written in Chinese on the side are hilarious, but then they find out that the handles are also homemade. Also, the drawknife used to carve the handle is homemade, in a charcoal primitive (homemade) forge. Also the saw that was used to cut down the tree. Also the carving knife for the wood pattern, to do the aforementioned calligraphy. Then they ask me, "You got somethin' against the dragon, huh? You should get over it."
   EricC - Sunday, 11/19/06 12:03:47 EST

Diagonal Hardy Hole: This is one of the most idiotic things done by a modern manufacturer. It reduces the material at that point by an extra 40% and places two sharp corners at this point of weakness. You could not create a better way to break the heel off an anvil if you tried. It is also cast and tapered.

THEN to make matters worse there is all kinds of anvil tooling designed to be used on axis with the hardy hole. AND about 500 years of tradition and common sense. . .

The only reason for the diagonal hole is it makes the core prints not need draft and the core fits snuggly in the print with no effort. A low level production employee has made a decision to make things easier on HIM that in a REAL manufacturer's shop would get laughed out of the room or the fellow fired for making such a stupid change.

It just goes farther to prove these are NOT tool manufacturers, they are junk manufacturers. They make products for the "stupid rich Americans" that have more money than common sense.

For the same money you can buy a REAL anvil made by manufacturers that tried their absolute best to make the absolute best product possible. An old used anvil for 100-$150 will be beat up but will not be nearly as bad a shaped thing as this Russian and Chinese junk. It's corners will be well rounded which is GOOD, its face may be slightly swayed which is NOT BAD and is often more useful than perfectly flat. It may have some chipped corners and a ding or two. But it will be perfectly useful and unless the horn is missing it will have a fairly decent shape. It it needs some grinding or dressing it will only take a few minutes compared to the hours you must invest in a junk anvil to make it a usefull shape.

They are out there. You just have to LOOK and have a little patience. And when you spend money on old blacksmithing tools they almost immediately start to appreciate, unlike the the junk anvils that depreciate significantly before your check has even cleared. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/19/06 12:07:22 EST

The location of the hardy hole has always been a weak place with the exception of one anvil design that is no longer made. To take a weak point in a tool design and make it weaker by a factor of 10 or more for a small convienience is unbelievable.

Ask how long the warrantee is on that diagonal hole anvil. I'll bet your it also runs out before your check has cleared. . .

The other current gross stupidity is swage blocks with parting lines down the middle of the side features. It makes these features completly useless without an inordinate amount of hand grinding and or machining. There is no reason for it other than the convienience of the foundry.

In both cases these are not professional tool makers. They have no sense of the purpose of the tool or proper design od such tools. Their products only sell because their customers are cheep and do not care if they buy good tools or not.

West Coast Prices: Yep, they are generally very high (for everything INCLUDING what smiths sell) but when I was there last I bought a nice little 100 pound wrought anvil for $50 and was given a 150# Peter Wright. . .

Tool Abuse: Yep, and I've seen anvils that were actually used as test pieces for starting a torch cut. . . But the abuse of tools in public places and employer's shops applies to everything, not just anvils. I've seen machinist vises battered to uselessness (as an anvil) and micrometers used for C-clamps. I've repaired Jacobs chucks that were used as hammers or hammers used on them. . . I have a large ball bearing ($300) Jacobs chuck that some idiot arc welded to the arbor and a 300# Prentice vise that another idiot arc welded the handle to the screw. . You could make lists of billions of tools grossly abused by the ignorant that had no vested interest in them. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/19/06 12:50:53 EST

Hi Ken

I will shoot you off an email. I am just lazy about typing in my email address as I delete all my cache everyday.

I was just thinking horseshoe more likely used for cast anvils because they were the perfect size to put in as the scrap steel portion in the crucible vs straightening them out to forge in a billet. Like you mention probably a shoe did make it into the mix at some point. I just don't think it would have been the scrap readily choosen for such undertakings. Too time consuming and a high potential of internal cracks in the anvil if banged into a billet without making straight.
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 11/19/06 13:09:48 EST

As noted, the hardy hole location is not a good design on English/American anvils. However, I have sledge hammered bottom-shanked tools by upsetting into the hardy holes on anvils ranging from 120 pounds to 250 pounds. All of these anvils were of the old forged variety. Nothing untoward happened, except to say that the anvil must be fastened down tightly, or the horn end will jump up with each blow. You can feel that the rebound is not as good as it is when working over the anvil's center of gravity.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/19/06 13:42:08 EST

good evening gurus
i have bought a samual platt hercules 160lbs hammer this hammer was run by a 3 phase 7.5 hp motor as i do not have three phase i picked up a 7.5 hp single phase with paralel starter the machine wants to stall this motor the only differance with the motors is the speed the 3 phase is 715rpm single phase is 1425 rpm it is the same pulley 6" i was told that if i halved thi size of the pulley this would sort it out can you help thank you david
   david hannah - Sunday, 11/19/06 14:09:51 EST

good evening gurus
i have bought a samual platt hercules 160lbs hammer this hammer was run by a 3 phase 7.5 hp motor as i do not have three phase i picked up a 7.5 hp single phase with paralel starter the machine wants to stall this motor the only differance with the motors is the speed the 3 phase is 715rpm single phase is 1425 rpm it is the same pulley 6" i was told that if i halved the size of the pulley this would sort it out can you help thank you david
   david hannah - Sunday, 11/19/06 14:12:10 EST

are there plans or kits anywhere for a tredle hammer? Any weight

thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Sunday, 11/19/06 20:13:57 EST

David, Yes, you cannot run the machine twice as fast as designed. Yes, reducing the pulley diameter by half will reduce the speed by half. The ratios are simple division.

Ratio = Large/small

Speed = Motor RPM / Ratio

However, very small pullies do not have a very good grip on the belt since the contact area will also be reduced by 1/2. This often means an increase in belt tension is needed which added to motor and machine bering load. SO, a pulley change will work but may reduce other component life.

The other problem is that at the horsepower you are talking about that is a very small diameter pulley for the shaft diameter. It will probably need to be custom made.

Ideally you would increase the large pulley diameter. However, this is often quite expensive. A compromise is to reduce the small pulley some and increase the large pulley some but this is even more expensive.

Often when confronted with the maximum reasonable amount of reduction in a single step reduction system (usualy between 3 and 4 to 1) a second set of pullies is used on a jack shaft. This would use your original 6" pulley on a shaft with a 2:1 reduction to it. On old machinery with flat belt drives it is common for the primary to be a multi V-belt drive and the secondary the original flat belts. The reason for this is that the primary reduction is quite high torque and needs the more efficient V-belts.

Most belt and pulley catalogs will give you the suggested operating range for a given setup. Machinery's Handbook will do the same in a more general fashion.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/19/06 20:22:23 EST

david hannah... If you cannot get your single phase motor to work satisfactorily, find another 7.5 HP three phase motor, then buy (about $200 if purchased) or make a conversion panel and use the original three phase motor with your hammer. In my opinion, this is a much better solution than using a single phase motor.
   - djhammerd - Sunday, 11/19/06 23:14:36 EST

Treadle Hammers: Andrew, There are quite a number of treadle hammer plans floating around as most are user built. You can get a complete machine from BlacksmithsDepot, a complete machine, kit and how-to videos from Jere Kerpatrick.

There is also a fairly detailed drawing in the Otto Schmirler book Werk und Werkzeug des Kunstschmieds. We reproduced the drawing in our review. Instead of a hollow anvil I think he fills his with concrete and uses heavy bolster blocks to hole tools and do punching.

The best machine I've seen was one that Tom Boone has but I do not know it it was his design or someone elses. One of the features it had was a hollow anvil that had a sloped eject ramp at the bottom for slugs and tools that went through the tooling hole.

One thing many of these machines do not have is sufficient anvil mass. To get this the anvil tube needs to be fabricated from heavy bar or plate, not a common tube. The mention of concrete above adds some mass but not a huge amount. If you use concrete fill for mass you need to replace a lot of the gravel with scrap steel like old nuts an bolts, short rebar. . that kind of thing.

The reason for being hollow is noted above - Most of the better treadle hammers have a square tooling hole like a hardy hole. When it is used for punching the pieces and tools that go through (OR anything that falls in) needs to be removable.

One thing that is common to many of the treadle hammer plans is that they call for filling a tube with lead for the head. This is a stupid use of lead. Anywhere you can use steel for dead weight you should. There are just a few uses for lead and anvil or hammer weight is NOT one of them

I am not a believer that a treadle hammers need straight line motion guides or linkages. If the hammer links are near tangent to the head when contacting work the angular motion is miniscule. However, the arms are often too light and the head can wobble causing shakey second blows. Good arms with good fitting pivots are critical.

Like a lot of DIY projects, if you want to use what scrap steel you can find or have on hand your design needs to be flexible. In order to modify a design for available materials you need to understand the design very well. The best way to do this is to design your own from scratch after studying others designs. If you chose to use someone elses plans then you should use the exact materials and follow the plan closely.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/19/06 23:17:41 EST

First, a tip, never, and I mean NEVER, use the ball bearing shaped object clad in rubber inside an old computer mouse (stripped of rubber of course), to demonstrate the rebound of your anvil! It's mild steel and barely comes back off the face of the anvil....may my embarassment be a lesson to all when introducing a newbiee to the properties of your cherished anvil. We did use a real ball bearing the second time and I managed to get my point across. Second, please repost the name(s) of the lubricants used for a releasing agent when hot punching holes. Thanks.
   Thumper - Monday, 11/20/06 01:37:01 EST

Treadle Hammers: I've tried to read a lot about treadle hammers, looked at photos and studied several plans. However, I've never actually seen one or spoken to anybody who's used one. How effective are they? Are they primarily used for light work, heavy work, general shaping? If I use a treadle hammer all day, will I be as saw as after swinging a hammer all day? Is it a better investment of time and effort to build a treadle hammer, or one of the light power hammers that I see on the web?
   andrew - Monday, 11/20/06 03:16:08 EST

Andrew B: Clay Spencer (934 Partridge Lane, Murphy, NC 28906-6149 - 740-837-0708 - area code may have changed) is largely given credit for turning the treadle hammer into a practical forging tool. He had also done a lot of work on the spare tire hammer (although Jock has indicated in the past there are some problems with his design on linkage). As far as I know he still goes out and does workshops to where the participants build one of the styles of hammers and then get some hands-on training before they are taken home. Don't know about the treadle hammer but I believe the cost of the spare tire workshop is around $1,600.

Earlier this year the SOF&A chapter of ABANA (Troy, OH) held a weekend workshop to build a 70-lb Kinyon-style air hammer. Cost was around $1,300. I do not know if they plan to hold another workshop anytime in the near future. Seems like they have held workshops in the past to build treadle hammers also.

Check with your local blacksmithing organization to see if they have anything planned for the future. I know you prefer to build your own equipment, but likely you would end up with a better (and cheaper) end product than if you did it yourself.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/20/06 06:28:18 EST

Frank Turley: If the hardy hole was other than over the heel wouldn't it have made it difficult for farriers to use it for shaping shoes?
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/20/06 06:29:34 EST

Punching Lubricants Big BLU sells Punchieze. A little goes a long way.
   - guru - Monday, 11/20/06 08:36:14 EST

For a broken off anvil heel waiting to happen take a look at eBay #140053449156. Appears to be an early Mouse Hole. I suspect break is where two section of top plate meet.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/20/06 08:58:26 EST

Treadle Hammers, To be or Not to be: A Treadle hammer IS NOT a replacement for a power hammer. They DO NOT allow you to do larger heavier work than you do by hand. They are NOT a machine for drawing out long pieces. It is a striking tool for when you need a third hand and very useful for all kinds of small work. They will hit quite hard but not rapidly. It is still a human powered machine and will not do more work than you can by hand.

You can use one to forge small leaves (about 1 to 1.5" or 25-38mm), you can form tennons on small stock accurately and do heavy chasing or light texturing. They are great for sinking small punches deeply into hot or cold work for creating animal, human or monster faces. It is also a good way to use your touchmark.

You can cut work like on a hardy or forge work into a swage. and they are good for upsetting. All of this within limits.

While you would think your legs have stronger muscles than your arms ONE leg is still balancing and supporting your body and the one you are using is tring to keep you from falling over while you work. Legs do not have the control and touch you have gained in decades of working with your hands. Treadle hammer blows can be light and heavy and are quite controlable cannot have the quickness of a hand hammer or the delicate touch.

Like any machine. A treadle hammer needs a set of tools and dies (attachments) to make it truley useful. Once you have setup the machine and collected the necessary tooling to use it then you must learn how and where to apply it to your work. The practice, practice practice. It is not a machine that is used without skill.

When the Kaynes started selling flypresses they pointed out to folks that a flypress was NOT a treadle hammer and neither a flypress or a treadle hammer replaces a power hammer. Each has its own use, advantages and benifits.
   - guru - Monday, 11/20/06 09:01:09 EST

POWER: NOTHING replaces power, as in a Power Hammer or Power Saw or any other Power Tool. The Power Hammer is the king of productivity tools in a a blacksmith shop that does a lot of forging.

But a power hammer is a hungry machine, it will go through a lot of steel and you almost must have a gas forge to take advantage of a power hammer. Then between the two you will be going through a lot of short pieces of stock. To cut these a blacksmith shop needs a power cutting tool such as a cutoff saw or an ironworker.
   - guru - Monday, 11/20/06 09:06:41 EST

Dear Guru and others,
Do you know of any company or store that sells a live(or dead)center for a lathe with a brown and sharpe taper? also is there an easy wany to figure out what number taper my tailstock has? I was thinking I would use some kind of casing resin to make a duplicte of the taper and then just measure it, but it seams like there should be an easyer way. thanks for the help. John Scancella
   John Scancella - Monday, 11/20/06 10:55:03 EST


I've turned lots of shoes on Hay-Buddens and Trentons, but I've never used the hardy hole for shaping or punching.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/20/06 11:21:56 EST

Treadle hammer thoughts.

I bought the Clay Spencer inline plans from ABANA and found them very useful. I made mine from scrounged materials, so I deviated from his materials list quite a bit. I also made some design changes that I find useful. What I found most useful with the plans were measurements of things like anvil height, lever arm lengths, guide sizes, etc. And the size and building of the springs was a big help. You can see the results at http://tinyurl.com/y34r5w

While I agree with the Guru's comments about this not being equal to a power hammer, I find it helps work larger items much quicker than by hand hammering. I tried something a little different than most. I have a 30-lb head, but kept the springs suggested for a 65-lb hammer. That speeds up the return and lets me hit quicker. I liken this to a 25-lb sledge in a striker's hands. If that was used to speed things up in the good ol' days, then why not now?

My drawing dies are basically 1-1/4" rods. Using those, I as able to easily draw out 1-inch stock in maybe half the time, and heats, that I could with a 4-lb hand hammer. And while work is work, no matter which muscles are used, the bones in my leg are better able to handle that work than my elbow and shoulder. Also, I have a cushioning spring on the treadle to save on my poor knees.

Jock's comment on balance is a good one. If I'm using my drawing dies I can use my free hand to balance. It's tougher with a top tool, though. But I found if I lean on something, that works great. Right now I move my swage block stand to where I can park my butt up against it. However, I'm going to try to fab something else, attached to the TH anvil, that I can swing into the position I'm working from, or out of the way.

I find the inline to be better for me than a swing arm, especially concerning matching top and bottom dies, like my drawing dies. I want those to meet pretty closely and a swing arm's arc requires too much fiddling to adjust for the correct height. You would get more vertical distance on a swing-arm, but mine is around 17-inches, depending on the dies, so that should be more than enough for anything except a tall smithing magician.

My anvil is about 500-lbs of found material. I would have preferred fabbing one with an open slot (think 'U' shaped, looking down). That would have been neat for upsetting long pieces. But found is free, and 300 - 500 lbs of scrap is still expensive, if you can find it. I've got maybe $50 spent on the entire hammer. Scrounged material key.

An interesting thing about anvil weight. At 500-lbs, that thing pretty much stays put. But my vertical support is an I-beam welded on a 5/8" plate, a freebee to me - welded together and all. The plate warped a little so that the I-beam end is about 1/4" off the floor. So when I get to heavy hitting, the anvil doesn't move, but the whole thing pivots around the anvil. I've got it wedged in place now, but it was something unexpected.

Anyway, that's enough of my rambling, except to say the only thing I'm disappointed in is how long it took for me to get around to building one. I find it extremely useful. I use it pretty much every time I'm forging. Sometimes it's only to do a hot cut (two smacks to cut 1/2" square), but I probably won't be using anvil hold-downs ever again.
   - Marc - Monday, 11/20/06 11:56:22 EST

Tailatock Taper: John, There is no easy way. B&S tapers are pretty rare. Sure it is not a MOrse? An outfit called Stark carries the centers.


They have a nice chart of general dimensions.


#1 Using an existing tool is the best easiest

#2 Measuring with bore gages. . . not easy and position relative to the taper is critical.

#3 Casting a plug then measuring. Old time machinists used sulphur for this because it is cheap, easy to melt and does not shrink. If you use resin be sure to use lots of a good parting agent (soap, silicon grease).

On my lathes I cut the chuck tapers short after careful measuring. You want them to still be extractable with the end of the screw but not use up travel. Most tapers reduce the travel of the tailstock by 1/2" or more. NEVER use these tapers elsewhere as they will not be extractable.

Note that most tapers are not hardened and a common center can be converted to a shank for a chuck or live center. Most live centers just press the bearing onto the shank. If you have an old one they are not hard to make.

I've used a Dremel tool mounted in the lathe as a mini tool post grinder and dressed centers AND ground short tapers. However, grinding tapers requires bluing in as lathes are generally not setup for ultra precision tapers.
   - guru - Monday, 11/20/06 11:59:52 EST

U shaped Upsetting Anvil: Little Giant had a model that had this feature. It is pretty rare. On the Treadle hammer it gives you the advantage of the drop through anvil and for upsetting.

For uppsetting to work well on long pieces the entire side needs to be open and a heavy block bridge the gap in the U. When upsetting the block is a removable die or bolster plate that the bar to be upset is threaded through. It also halps to have an adjustable bucking block to support the lower end of the work. On the Little Giant there was sloped pockets. On heading vises there is a toothed surface with mating bucking block that bolts on. A set of blocks of various heights would be the easiest way to go.
   - guru - Monday, 11/20/06 13:10:35 EST

Burnt Forge; why would one try to melt wrought iron or steel to make cast iron in a crucible when a cupola to melt cast iron is so much cheaper and easier to run---especially in a production facility.

I would rather hazard that scrap wrought iron was busheled out of suboptimal sizes and shapes than someone would be melting wrought iron to make cast iron in a crucible!

Motor sizes: the same output in HP does not translate into the same starting torque which is what the single phase is falling down on. By the very nature of 3 phase power in a motor you can get better torque from it. To fix you can either find a motor with higher starting torque rating or use a bigger motor.

With my hammer I have an old massive motor that puts out only a fraction of the hp that a new motor that size would; but when I had it checked over by the motor shop they rold me that if I ever replaced it I should up the hp by about half as the long moment arm of the motor provided more torque at the same hp than the smaller compact motors of today.

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/20/06 13:26:52 EST

is the Machinery's Handbook 11th edition, 1942, Oberg & Jones Good for some one New to black smithing? I want a book that covers hardning. Is this book to old?

Thank you.
   Russell - Monday, 11/20/06 14:08:08 EST

Machinery's Handbook: Russel, On hardening and tempering the articles are just as good in the 5th edition as the 20th. The only difference is that new alloys come out over time and may not be covered. The 11th edition is OK on this type of information.

Click the bold link above for a collective review of Machinery's Handbook.
   - guru - Monday, 11/20/06 14:24:58 EST

Ok, I won that book on ebay.

Thank you.
   Russell - Monday, 11/20/06 14:31:42 EST

On the punch lube ptree uses (P3 Forge Punch Lube) (J&M Laboratores, Louisville, KY - www.jmlaboratories.com - contact: loller@jmlaboratories.com) the cost is $13 gallon but UPS shipping just from KY to TN would be $35. If you live within pick up distance then it might be a good deal.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/20/06 15:20:20 EST

P.S. The one gallon is concentrated and would make up about 5 gallons of lube.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/20/06 15:42:52 EST

what would a "rocker" blower be? would it be like, a lever blower or what?
thanks ,
   Cameron - Monday, 11/20/06 19:24:57 EST

Punch lube,
Tom Clark of the Ozark School Of blacksmithing is selling premixed quarts, at I believe $12.95 each, and the shipping should be less.

If you are drifting, deep slitting, or doing a lot of impression swaging this lube is worth the price.
   ptree - Monday, 11/20/06 20:07:09 EST

Cameron, I've never heard that term. When blower forges first came out a popular mechanism was a lever that operated like a bellow handle. It turned a flywheel through an overrunning clutch (like on bicycle pedals).
   - guru - Monday, 11/20/06 20:46:09 EST

West Coast Prices. Guru, those are sure great prices for anvils that you found on the West Coast. Far more typical is like the crank blower that someone is advertising in the Hammer-in for $400. This is kind of steep, and even if everyone wants these prices, I just don't want to play. Plus, this is Clovis, and not technically even West Coast. There is usually a way around them. A student just asked what he should do for an anvil. He said that there was a nice one at the Harbor Freight store for $50. That is almost certainly the cast iron ASO, and nearly useless. I told him to use railroad track. He replied that he went to the scrap yard and they quoted him $40 for a one foot piece because "they are valuable for use as anvils". Outrageous. The alternative is $500 to $1000 for a used anvil, or buy new and have it shipped. In that case, it's better to go through the group deal from CBA.

Guru has advised asking around for old anvils. This is actually a pretty good idea. I was walking around my neighborhood this weekend and ran into a friendly old bird. Suddenly, I got the idea that this might be a good person to ask. No, he said, he didn't know of any old anvils, but he had something better. Off Hwy 49, near Angel's Camp, there is a blacksmith's shop in Columbia, sort of a historical village. The demonstrator is a female blacksmith, who, in his opinion, is pretty HOT. Perhaps I ought to go over there and STRIKE up a conversation. Maybe SPARKS will fly, but probably I'll get BURNT. Am I going to be like this when I get old? Hmmmmmm... by the way, does anyone have a pic ;-)?
   EricC - Monday, 11/20/06 22:24:11 EST

Thanks all on the punch lube info, I'll try the Big Blue stuff first.....hey, he's not called the "Guru" for nothing!! I was talking to a local blacksmith/fabricator and he recommended using coal powder. Anyone tried this method? It just doesn't sound like a releasing agent to me and I work with coke exclusively so the dust would be somewhat different chemically.
   Thumper - Monday, 11/20/06 22:42:15 EST


Coal dust works when punching a deep hole with a flat bottomed punch, not slitting. In the past, I have wet the end of the punch with water, so that the punch would pick up the dust. That way is easier than dumping the coal dust into a hot blind hole with the fingers or a spoon. Recently, I received some of the lube that ptree touts. Pretty good stuff.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/20/06 23:28:59 EST

Coal Powder is the "traditional" coal era punch release agent. It vaporizes cooling the punch, it gases off tars and other volitiles and leaves a coating of carbon dust mixed in as lubricant. The best bituminous coal dust make the best punch release. Low volitile coals like antracite do not work as well.

The down side is the flame and smoke. It also may not be available when you need it and is definitely not available if you burn coke or gas.

Synthetics tend to work at higher temperatures and are readily available in quantity.
   - guru - Monday, 11/20/06 23:32:51 EST

I need a complete and accurate discription of forging a complete flintlock. I understand that lockmakers and gunsmiths collaborated on the process. I have Wallace Gussler video and the Art of Blacksmitthing by Bealer plus several other references. But I am still unable to visualize the process. From locksmithing I can see forge plates or swage plates for lock plate and bosses forged there on but from there on I draw a blank. Any refereces of scaled drawings ect.?
   David Growley - Monday, 11/20/06 23:36:21 EST

EricC: Your friend may have walked by several suitable anvils in the form of large chucks of iron (even if mild steel). Locally scrap steel is $.25 pound so a 100 lb chuck would be $25.00. For a 1" hardy hole go to a new steel supplier and buy the minimum amount of 1 1/2" thick wall tubing. With a little filing off of the weld seam inside works nicely for 1". Weld it onto the side of the chunk. A mandrel then becomes a replacement for the horn.

Same yard also has several large chunks of stainless for $1.00 pound.

A steel supplier which cuts to specifications for customers may also have suitable end drops - but is likley to charge you retail price for them.

I look at almost all of the anvils which come up on eBay. Not all that unusual to see some in CA. Remember the ground shippers (e.g., UPS, FedEx & DHL) all can deliver up to 150 pounds before freight services kick in.

All of Harbor Freight's anvils are ASOs. Locally the 110-lb one is $86 last time I was at their retail outlet.

Try an anvil wanted classified ad in www.craigslist.com.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/21/06 00:02:30 EST

David Growley,

The name Hershel House popped into my head. The search engine showed: http://www.americanlongrifles.com/Books_Videos.htm
I haven't seen the videos, but House has Part I and Part II videos on making a Virginia rifle.
Gusler's film is excellent, but naturally, all cannot be shown in 55 minutes. Another route would be to purchase one of those Italian knockoffs, and try to duplicate the parts.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/21/06 00:34:31 EST

For a rather interesting shop made anvil check this out:

   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/21/06 00:39:00 EST

Shop made anvil. That sure is a nice anvil, and Ernie is a talented and creative guy. His folks live near here and I chatted with him when he came to town. He has a real do-it-yourself, even with limited resources, spirit.

I already made my own anvil, but I welded the horn on instead of having it cut in profile. It is strong and works just fine for hammering over. For fullering, the anvil has contours similar to the Brazeal brother's block anvil. These can move metal fast. Finally, the anvil has no hardy hole. The hardy is in a 3/4" thick homemade stake plate similar to those in the iForge demo's.

I hesitate to recommend this approach to the student, since his fabrication experience is limited, and he may become discouraged. Also, he only has a small MIG welder, and is not used to doing the big stuff. I could lend him my stick welder, but he has not even made a forge yet, and I am afraid of overwhelming him.

The suggestion of finding a big chunk of even mild steel is good one. But scrap here is not 0.25 a pound. A few years ago, it was 0.40 a pound and is undoubtedly more now. But, even 1.00 a pound is not bad compared to anvil (or scrap railroad rail) prices here.

Ernie came up with an interesting new technique. He recommends using tuff-stuff tractor wear plates. These are flat, and have a hole in the middle for plug welding. They are made out of an air hardening alloy, so they will end up pretty hard even after welding. He says that if you space them correctly and weld with hardfacing, there is not a problem with dead spots as you would have with an edge welded top.
   EricC - Tuesday, 11/21/06 03:07:19 EST

EricC: A couple of weeks ago someone mentioned using a tractor weight. These are intended to hang off of the front of a tractor as counter-balance for a heavy rear load. They are maybe 1.5" x 12" x 14". I bought some used ones at a dealership and it doesn't seem like they were all that much.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/21/06 05:42:53 EST

What is Corten steel? Many outdoor sculptures are made out of this type of steel.
   TSC - Tuesday, 11/21/06 08:36:24 EST

TSC, Cor-ten is discussed in an 1967 US Steel bulletin I have from 1967. It is termed "exposed steel" or "weathering steel". Its composition includes specific amounts of mangnese, silicon, copper, chromium, nickel, and vanadium. It is designed to take a protective oxide coating when the bare metal is installed and exposed to the elements. The oxide color may vary from grays to 'Hershey bar brown', depending of the environment. It can be hot worked, forging it pretty much as one would mild steel. It is often used in architectural structures including roofing. Pablo Picasso has a huge statue in the middle of Chicago that is made of Cor-ten.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/21/06 09:31:42 EST

More Cor-ten. Cor-ten can be fabricated but requires careful heat treatment to retain its controlled rusting properties. It also requires all hardware to be Cor-ten.

It was used to build many bridges so that they would be low maintenance. However, many of those bridges are now painted due to rust. One problem with core ten is that while it may rust in a controlled manner it is know to stain the concrete pilings, or whatever it rests on.

While it sounds like a drean come true it has largely been a dream unfulfilled.

If you are concerned about your work for the long term put a proper paint job on it. If you are concerned about posterity then work in stainless or bronze.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/21/06 09:43:37 EST

hi, i am new to blacksmith,but i am trying hard to learn what i want to ask you is instead of vermiculite can i use cat litter for knealing the blade.thank you,p.s. don't forget me
   wilfredo flores - Tuesday, 11/21/06 09:45:07 EST

Black Powder Guns: David, If you need information on this subject then Dixie Gun Works is the place to go. Order their catalog. It has 100 times what is on their web site. They sell (sold) everything from kits to plans and little jewels like checkering files. Somewhere I have a full scale blueprint of a KY flintlock with details.

Many small parts require a high degree of skill to forge and almost none were forged in swages. However, much of what you are missing may be the chiseling and filing. The early processes for much of this was chip making just like in a machine shop but without the machines. Pre machine tool craftsmen in the machine era used chisels to carve iron and steel including everything from keyways and dovetails to threads. Filing and scraping is a large portion of the art.

Prior to the machine tool precision surfaces were made that were so flat that they would "ring" together, sticking from atmospheric pressure and lack of air between the surfaces. This was done with files, scrpaers and bluing.

Prior to modern machine tools there were small bow or crank opperated lathes that were used to turn screws and round parts. These ranged in size from those used by jewelers to the "great wheel" type used to turn wood for furniture. The small lathes were often all metal and carefully hand fitted together.

Parts were also made by assembly of smaller parts that were brazed together. The finely fitted parts when forge brazed often showed no sign of a joint.

Precision devices were made from relatively early times by use of these methods. Never underestimate what can be done by skill and keen eye. Parts for clocks, locks and guns were made by highly skilled artisans. Eventually these same people would be called upon to make the first machine tools BY HAND. And from the first hand made machines industry boot straped its way up to what we have today. It was a slow circuitous path but from tools made by hand and machines made by hand with those tools we got where we are today.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/21/06 10:15:15 EST

Annealing: Wilfredo, There are a variety of materials used for annealing. Lime or "quick lime" powder was used for a very long time. The problem with it is that it is caustic, drying flesh and must be kept dry. But it is readily available anywhere there is concrete construction.

Vermiculite is a new substitute for quick lime and no better. Cat litter is fairly low density but not a very good air tight cover. Another modern substitute for quick lime is a piece of kaowool blanket.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/21/06 10:34:49 EST

David Growley:

You've been given good advice so far. The Gusler video is one of the best, and Hershel House has done a couple of videos as well, but I haven't seen them. Didn't need to, as I used to live about 12 miles from him. You may want a copy of "Notes from a Small Iowa Rifleshop" by Steve Bookout.

Dixie Gun Works is no longer relevant to much in the world of serious black powder, unfortunately. They've been surpassed by Track of the Wolf.

The advise to get a new lock and reverse engineer it is good. They only cost about $100 in kit form (for the Siler style). As the Guru said, you don't need complicated swedges. It's mostly accurate hammerwork followed by filing. LOTS of filing and scraping. Very little actual forging is needed, in fact. Getting the hook angle right on the mainspring is a task that will cause you to steam from the ears, but other than that it's fairly straightforward.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/21/06 10:56:07 EST

I'm sad to hear Dixie Gun Works is no longer what it was. I guess with the passing of Turner Kirkland it was bound to change.

How early machine parts were made by hand is interesting and almost hard to believe but it was a common task. Parts were forged or cast close to size then completely hand carved from that point.

In our 2002 ABANA Conference NEWS article we show the steps for forging parts of a key. After the blank is forged it is then finished by chisel and file. You will see that even after some ingenious forging most finishing is bench work.

Many of the tasks shown using traditional methods can be replaced by other hand methods. Much blanking can be done with a hacksaw and is easier to control. While saws were avialable during this period they were not nearly as good or as inexpensive as they are today. Between a drill and a hacksaw you can do some tricky blanking by hand.

On gun parts where you see parts that look like much of the fancier work is forged (due to texture and rounded edges) these are actually modern cast parts. Today most reproduction parts such as hammers and lock parets are made by precision investment casting. Even many modern production gun parts are made this way. Where these parts are partialy finished by machine it is hard to tell how they are made.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/21/06 12:58:42 EST

Hi folks, been offline for a while, it's nice to be back.

wilfredo flores: Guru gave you some good advice on annealing, some other substatutes for vermiculite are wood ashes, pearlite, and I've even heard of sand used though since it's very dense I'd reccomend preheating it some so less heat is lost when you first put the hot piece in it.
   AwP - Tuesday, 11/21/06 13:12:58 EST

Anvils, One source of good improvised anvils is large fork lift tines, good tough steel, convient sizes and if you can sweet talk a dealer into giving you a broken one---free.

I suggest using the vertical section to put more mass under the hammer. The cut off horizontal section can be used for straightening, cutting, upsetting or mounted vertically for another anvil.

I once drug a large heavy one---180#! out of the woods on the side of a hill where the last owners of the forklift had decomissioned it by running it off a bluff face. The other one was later scrounged by friends to make a dandy anvil for their shop. This particular style had the tine mounted on heavy round stock so the anvil has a a heavy round projection to fuller on.
http://home.columbus.rr.com/tirnewyddfencing/fork.html has a pictorial on how they did it.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/21/06 13:16:32 EST

i've heard of peices from rail road cars such as the wheels and the brake cases make good anvils
   - Andrew B. - Tuesday, 11/21/06 13:50:24 EST


I understand folks having to be careful and tight with cash when purchasing things for pleasure like anvils. Honestly I think some folks are what I would call just plain cheap. A good used or new czech anvil does not cost that much. I am as poor as they come and I have stuck my pennies in the jar and saved and bought my anvils. I just have a feeling when folks always talking about what they can make an anvil out of is less than a have too and more they want they want to rub their investments. Life is short and you can't take money with you. Buy a DAMN anvil and enjoy it. My two cents anyway.
   - Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 11/21/06 14:08:37 EST

I was searching on the Internet when I came across the following on Harriet (White) Fisher-Andrew. In Anvils in America she is mention in passing (top of page 153) as continuing to operate it after her husband, Clark Fisher died. A whole lot more to it than that. She must have been quite a woman.

   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/21/06 15:48:21 EST

Burnt Forge, Life is Short and lots of us have other things to spend money on. Blacksmithing can be done well on the cheap which allows a lot of folks to try it out before sinking their money into it. I reckon that less than 10% of the people I teach to smith are still at it 5 years later; but they *all* know how fun and rewarding it can be!

Our good Guru often contrasts the ammount spent on computers to shop equipment; but even there I'm using a $125 computer cobbled together from the discards a friend of mine who *has* to be on the cutting edge piles up on a regular basis. It fills my needs well and with linux being both free and easy to maintain I can focus on other things.

If saving up for a real anvil is going to take a year or two go with an improvised one and get smithing! If it's just putting off buying a games console---buy new immediatly the anvil will hold it's value far better than the game system will!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/21/06 17:25:57 EST

You can settle a debate. I say that it is unwise to work stainless steel cold and working it cold will damage or fatigue it. True or false?
   jeff fogel - Tuesday, 11/21/06 17:52:32 EST

Tom P
I agree. Nothing wrong with with starting with a junk yard made anvil and seeing if you like it enough to stick with it. Too many folks got a lot of money in the bank then wants a real anvil for 1 cent a lb. Just too cheap to buy one. I have run into it so much. I have grown tired of folks a whinning for a free anvil when they will buy a play station 3 on ebay for a couple of thousand because it just came out.
   - Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 11/21/06 18:05:00 EST

Jeff, Stainless is notorious for work hardening. It can be and IS worked cold but extra care must be taken.

Almost all metals are subject to work hardening. Even soft ones like aluminium and copper need to be annealed after a certain amount of working or they will crack. Stainless just reaches that point much sooner.

Where the most serious problem lies is the initial working state. Many commercial products are sold in a work hardened state due to rolling and finishing. They often cannot be worked at all without first annealing them.

Note that most common stainless (303, 304, 308) is annealed similar to non-ferrous. Heat and quench.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/21/06 18:06:45 EST

can someone please tell me what kind of steel lawn mower blades are made of.

thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Tuesday, 11/21/06 19:35:58 EST

Whatever the manufacturer wants to make them of. See all admonitions in our Junk Yard Steel FAQ.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/21/06 19:48:21 EST

Ken, Harriet White Fisher wrote a book about that trip called something like "A Woman's World Tour in a Motor" I'll have to check the exact title when I get home tonight. I actually found it an interesting read since it is a bit of a time capsule providing a look at a different world and time. You can sometimes find a copy on ebay. I'd lend you the one I have but its actually on long term loan to me. I've been to the "mansion" in Ewing; it's still in the family of her second husband. It was interesting to see a very distinctive gift she had brought back with her from India. It was still there on a shelf among other things relating to the anvil business and I recognized it from reading the book. The Locomobile is long gone though.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 11/21/06 21:09:12 EST

Cor-Ten is a US Steel patented alloy that uses about .2% copper to enhance the resistance to atmospheric corrosion. When it was first made, you had to add the extra copper to the melt. We have recycled steel, especially auto bodies, so much we are now making steel with up to .3% RESIDUAL copper. The copper comes from the wiring harnesses that are not removed from the old auto bodies that get shredded for re-melting. Now, this is not a good thing. Copper can become a real problem with caster cracks and welding problems if it gets too high. One of these days, we will find we have to actually start mining taconite again!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/21/06 21:24:58 EST

A slight retraction of my earlier statement about Dixie Gun Works:

It has gone downhill since Turner Kirkland passed on, but Hunter is doing as best he can in the modern business environment. If the U.S. Civil War and later percussion guns are your thing, they are still the place to go, and you'll find no finer appendices to any catalog on Earth. I just prefer flintlocks, and I feel they underserve that market. Now, if someone would just do some comprehensive work on snaphaunce locks I'd be most appreciative! (woeful grin). The Rifle Shoppe (there's a special place in hades for those who add an extra "e" to names, I swear) sells collections of castings for most any kind of ignition system one could desire, but instructions are hard to find for the earlier, more complex systems.

As for lawnmower blades and steel types: Yes. No. Maybe. For consumer-grade equipment they seem to be whatever was in the melt that day, but usually not an air-hardening grade, sometimes. For commercial blades, nothing higher alloy than 4140 or 5160, but sometimes 1040 or 1045, except on alternate tuesdays, allowing for case-hardenable stuff. All guaranteed to be not-shattering (not non-chipping or denting) on impact as delivered. Sheer often-hardenable mystery metal, in other words.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/21/06 21:43:30 EST

Frank Turley, did you try the punch lube for drifting a hawk? I also use it on my hot cuts and some of my power hammer top tools. I also find that it makes back extrusion into a touchmark much easier. Best part is the no smoke/flame.
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/21/06 21:54:39 EST

quenchcrack said "One of these days, we will find we have to actually start mining taconite again!

Ummm. NT400 just went by with 125+- cars of taconite for Granite City, IL, thats about 12,500 tons of taconite.
   - Hudson - Tuesday, 11/21/06 22:25:41 EST

ptree, Yah, I enjoyed using the punch lube.

I also find that the hot tools should be taken down to bare metal, no scale, and that helps.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/21/06 23:11:46 EST

Spent the past few days dressing my anvil to a mirror shine on the face. Cold forgings shine like glass! Just wanted to say that.

GOing to be in Amsterdam for the next week, so I'll post back next Wed.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 11/21/06 23:19:26 EST

Jeff F - stainless: As GURU mentioned, stainless work hardens, but careless heating can be just as bad if You want it to remain "stainless". The problem being that the chrome that is needed to protect the surface from corosion [rust] likes to join up with carbon and form carbides when hot. Carbides do not protect the surface from rust. This is more of a problem in a salty costal/marine environment than inland. You ned to take precautions not to add carbon while heating, and to anneal the stainlkess when done working it, as in the anealed state carbon is more likely to be in solution, and cause fewer problems. If You only need to bend stainless not forge it it is usually better done cold if it can be done without cracking.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 11/21/06 23:39:13 EST

Anvils. What I noticed through the anvil upgrades I've done was that everytime I got a better one, I worked better, not just because I was learning the craft, but also because I enjoyed the sound, feel and characteristics of the new anvil. I know it's a poor craftsman that blames his tools, but by the same token, a craftsman who is proud of his tools along with his abilities does a better job merely because it's joy to use them. Do some reading and take some classes before jumping into building your own smithy. Then, if you're sure you want to continue and if you can make an anvil you'll be happy to use and one you're proud enough to show off, then by all means do, if not, save your $$$, and purchase something you'll enjoy spending time with, cause smithing is a personal and time consuming experience, one which you'll find more satisfying if your shop and tools fit you.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 11/22/06 01:27:14 EST

SGensh: I looked around for a copy of Ms. Fisher-Andrew's book. Only found one at a rare book dealer for $116. Will try to put it on my half.com wish list. Article doesn't say who ran the company from her death in 1939 until it sold in 1961. Perhaps her husband.

Passed the article on to Richard Postman. Suspect it will 'make his day'.

I'm still looking for someone in the Brooklyn, NY area to do some research for me at the Brooklyn Historical Society on Dunn & Murcott anvil manufacturers. If you know of someone who might like to pick up some pocket money checking old city directories please let me know.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/22/06 05:08:01 EST

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