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

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

This is an archive of posts from November 22 - 30, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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

Thumper wrote: "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."

Oh great, now you've provided me a rationalization to purchase another anvil; I'm sure it will impress my wif! ;-)

Cloudy, windy and chill on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/22/06 10:20:27 EST

would it be possible for anyone here to make me a touchmark? IF so how much would you estimate a 1/2" touchmark to cost?
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Wednesday, 11/22/06 11:18:29 EST

"It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools"

Well, there ARE limits to what you can do with certain tools and there is also the question of efficiency. If your every breathing moment for months can be put into a project you can do almost anything. I've recently read a few references where smiths doing sheet brass work started from a bilet and forged as large a sheet as they needed. This is a huge amount of grueling and painstaking labor. Not only must it be flat and equal thickness but smooth and polished. . . This is still done on small scale but at one time it was done on whatever scale was needed. And while the tools to do this task were as primitive as the methods they were iron and steel tools, not stone anvil and hammer.

On the other hand, I have studied the shapes of many small pieces of plate used in armour and it appears it would be easier to start with bar stock, bend it and then thin it out to the necessary shape. While this sounds like a lot of work it may be easier and much more economical than chisling shapes from expensive plate. Today scrap is cheaper than labor and plate is easy to come by. Perspectives change.

Not to knock a stone anvil and hammer. Amazing work was done in the Bronze Age with these and bronze tools on bronze. However, as soon as steel was available in small quantities the bronze age smith used steel tools when he could.

Speaking of those stone hammers. . . Many were very hard stone and they had holes drilled through them for a handle! You want a slow painstaking process. . . use wood or bone and sand to drill a hole in granite.

Most folks in blacksmithing today are in it as a hobby. As a hobby there is a limit to the amount of drudgery effort folks will put into a project. Yes, some folks are masochists and will do everything the hard way and are persistant about it. But those are rare folks. Most want to enjoy the experiance of their hobby. So there is a limit to how much pain folks will go to.

However, there is almost no limit to the expense they will go to. Many hobbysmiths have better shops than many professionals.

So you have a balance between pleasure and pain and how much money folks are willing to spend to avoid a certain degree of pain.

Now. . when it comes to not spending money on an anvil folks do not realize just how much pain they are going to go through. Forging is hard work. Forging on a poor or undersize anvil is a lot harder work resulting in a lot more pain and frustration than is necessary. When we recommend at LEAST a 100 pound anvil made of good tool steel we are just trying to help the uninitiated avoid unnecessary pain and frustration. Even with that tool you will have enough of both.

Then there is the wasted time and hidden expense. At some point in the search for a free anvil or a pretty enough piece of steel for a DIY anvil the time, the limited resource of a life, has been squandered. At some point in applying hard face and grinding it smooth a significant portion of the cost of a new anvil has been spent in rods, electricity and abrasives. At some point the cash value of a real tool has been pissed away and you have not gotten to the original goal.

Good tools are not cheap. But then neither is one's time no matter how you value your labor. Time passes. You cannot get it back. A finite resource is diminished.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/22/06 11:30:21 EST

I reread Ernie's page about making anvils and noticed that in the cost area he didn't put in a factor for time. Seems like it would be cheaper for me to mow lawns and buy a new anvil than to spend more time and the $$ for materials to build one if you put in labour costs.

Of course my scrounging is part of my daily life so the incremental cost is very low.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/22/06 11:50:43 EST

I also do not think he has a cost for electricity. This is significant when laying down lots of beads and doing heavy welding.

What I REALLY hate to see is all that labor go into something that is worth a LOT less than the labor. An anvil can be a work of art. Few DIY anvils are but a rare few are beauties. They may be an expensive anvil but as a work of art it is another thing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/22/06 11:55:57 EST

Now I have a question, on another forum there is a fellow warning new folks to avoid borax for forge welding because of it's toxic fumes, (he's suggesting anti-borax BTW).

I started forge welding back around 1984 and have never heard of straight borax producing toxic fumes. Has anyone else got some *real* data on this?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/22/06 11:59:21 EST

Borax VS. ANTI-borax - MSDS: Thomas,

The person spreading that misinformation has not read the MSDS for Anti-Borax products which all contain Boric Acid and two contain Borax. The warnings for the boric acid are nearly identical as the Borax. The only difference is the borax contains sodium and gives of sodium oxide at high temperatures.

Two Borax MSDS



According to the second document OSHA does not list a maximum exposure level. Normal dust fume precautions are suggested.

For the REAL information see the Superior Flux site MSDS lists.

Superior Flux MSDS lists:

EZ-weld contains Boric acid and foundry slag (no specifics on what THAT contains). Cherry heat has slightly less boric acid, Crescent Forge has the most Boric acid. "Anti-Borax Forge Borax" is borax. Their high temperature brazing flux is Boric acid and Borax. This is also a common DIY forge welding mixture.

ALL list the same precautions as the borax links I gave above. There is no significant differnce. The following is from an independent MSDS for Boric Acid:

Causes irritation to the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. May be absorbed from the mucous membranes, and depending on the amount of exposure could result in the development of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, rash, headache, fall in body temperature, low blood pressure, renal injury, cyanosis, coma, and death.

Symptoms parallel absorption via inhalation. Adult fatal dose reported at 5 to > 30 grams.

Skin Contact:
Causes skin irritation. Not significantly absorbed through the intact skin. Readily absorbed through damaged or burned skin. Symptoms of skin absorption parallel inhalation and ingestion.

Eye Contact:
Causes irritation, redness, and pain.

Chronic Exposure:
Prolonged absorption causes weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, convulsions and anemia. Liver and particularly the kidneys may be susceptible. Studies of dogs and rats have shown that infertility and damage to testes can result from acute or chronic ingestion of boric acid. Evidence of toxic effects on the human reproductive system is inadequate.

Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:
Persons with pre-existing skin disorders or eye problems, or impaired liver, kidney or respiratory function may be more susceptible to the effects of the substance.

Like everything in the shop from lead expousere from steel and brass, CO and fibreglass and silica dust from grinding wheels there are hazards. If you keep your shop well enough ventilated for the forge it is probably well enough ventilated for the Boron and Sodium.

Note also that arc welding rods contain borax, boric acid and flourite (calcium flouride) among other things.

If you want to avoid all the above use MIG and TIG only and pony up for one of those Induction Forges. . .

Hmmmmmm. . . my nose reacts to the gas by products (ozone?) when TIG welding. . . Oh my, maybe that's not good either.

And I REALLY do not like the glass fiber dust that fills the air when using glass reinforced wheels. . . Check it out in a sunbeam sometime!
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/22/06 13:03:09 EST

Ken Scharabok, If you will email me your postal mailing address I'll send you a copy of an article from the Trenton paper on the closing of the Fisher works. I gave a copy to Richard last year at Quad State. Mrs. Fishers last husband's second wife wound up running it at the end which may have led to some confusion. When the original works was shut down anvil production moved to the Crosley Machine Company also in Trenton. They were mainly in the business of making clay working machinery for the ceramic industry. Neither building is still standing.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 11/22/06 12:11:41 EST

MORE Borax VS. ANTI-borax - MSDS: If you read the MSDS on everything you will find that everything is toxic, carcenogenic and life threatening.

The government even sets maximum exposure limts that are wonderful ONLY if you have an environmental physics lab at your disposal to sample and analyse air samples constantly. . .

THEN there is the problem of exactly how much is too much and how much is not enough to worry about.

MORE. . There is also the battle of the MSDS's. If you read all those that I referenced you will not see the word "death" in those for Borax but there is in the one quoted above for Boric Acid. However, with enough research you find that there is a risk of death at an exposure of 1000 or is it 5000 mg kg-1 (don't ask me what that means).

The 20 Mule Team MSDS says that Borax exposure is similar to Boric Acid exposure.
Signs and symptoms of exposure: Symptoms of accidental over-exposure to Borax might include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, with delayed effects of skin redness and peeling. These symptoms have been associated with the accidental over-exposure to the chemically related substance boric acid.

The PEL or Personal Exposure Limits are not given for Boric Acid except as a mixture but the PEL is well known for Borax.

Superior Flux gives a PEL of 10PPM for a 30% Boric Acid mixture and a PEL of 5PPM for 99% Borax. So essentially they are the same. . . (as US Borax suggested).

Now if you are REALLY worried about your health then worry about eating beef (mad cow disease is not curable). Aren't you glad tomarrow is Thanksgiving!

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/22/06 14:43:33 EST

Andrew B: The simpliest touch mark you can make yourself is your initials. Just find three individual letter stamps and then weld on a handle such they are flush on the bottom.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/22/06 16:35:21 EST

SGensh: Thank you but as long as Richard Postman has the information that is fine with me. Richard doesn't Internet, so I somewhat do it for him.

I am considering writing an article for The Anvil's Ring on Harriet - as a pioneer in the field. Is there a photo of her in the book you might copy and e-mail to me?
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/22/06 16:39:48 EST

Thanks for the info, I dragged anvilfire.com in front of them to lure some over this way...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/22/06 16:44:37 EST

Based on what I've seen (and very much subject to correction), those exposure figures are probabaly milligrams per kilogram of body weight. So I guess you'd have to eat beween a couple of ounces and a pound of the stuff.
   - Mike B - Wednesday, 11/22/06 16:58:50 EST

The LD50 of common salt is 3,700 mg/kg. For me, at 200 lbs or 90 kg this works out to 11.9 ounces of salt ingested to kill half the subjects in a short time. for Borax, it is 1,375 mg/kg which works out to 4.4 oz.

I don't think I'm likely to get that amount in the blacksmith shop.

Chronic exposures is something else, I'll do a little research on that.

   - John Odom - Wednesday, 11/22/06 18:17:46 EST

i just got a kind of strange size piece of flat bar, it's 1/2" by 2" by 40" is there anything i can do with it? With out havin't to draw it out to a different size?
thank y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Wednesday, 11/22/06 18:35:12 EST

John, Thank you for clearing up what the exposure/ingestion numbers meant.

It's the inhalation of such things that is the problem. Most of these MSDS's expect inhaled or ingested dust. However, borax vapors are covered by arc welding electrode recomendations. No matter what the source, breathing smoke is bad for you.

The important point is that both borax and boric acid are treated as nearly the same substance in numerous MSDS's. Claiming that EZ weld is safer than plain Borax has no basis in fact. Sounds like a sales ploy to me.

One problem I have noted with some of these products and I think that includes this family of fluxes is that the label does not say what is in the product. Changing from a product with a known content to an unknown is a serious error. Many replacement products that get away from a popularly known bad actor (like asbestoes) often end up being just as bad or at least, not perfect. Kaowool was touted as a safe replacement for asbestoes and it turns out it has some problems as well. Maybe not as serious but problems just the same.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/22/06 18:46:37 EST

Andrew, You want a list?

Cross arm for a fireplace crane.
Fronts for andirons (roll top, punch, slit for legs)
Draw bar for a lawn tractor
Braces for a trailer hitch
Vise spacers, saw vise extensions, drill press furniture

Its a little heavy for a Froe but I have seen them from this weight material - However you DO have to draw out the edge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/22/06 18:54:34 EST

Andrew Yes you can use it for any of thousands of projects that take stock that size.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/22/06 19:01:03 EST

MSDS and material contents.
I have been dealing with MSDS in the industrial arena for about 15 years or more. May I note a few items that may be of interest?
If a product is sold in the USA, to an industrial user the maker of the material must provide a msds on request. This used to sometimes be a fight, but I have not had a problem obtaining a MSDS in years.
If a material contains "Hazardous" materials, it MUST be reported in the MSDS. CAUTION! There are several "outs". The maker can claim trade secret, and if present in a concentration of less than 1% it does not have to be reported. The name used for the hazardous component can be any legally used term. Some chemicals have 40 or more synonyms. The CAS# however will identify the chemical exactly.
If you have the CAS#, the NIOSH web site has a online guide to hazardous chemicals. I have never found it be wrong, or slanted. Look for the"Pocket guide to hazardous chemicals" I use this as my check source. Easy and the straight stuff.

The Mg/Kg LD50 is indeed Mg per Kg of body weight.
The exposure limits are usually from two sources OSHA, and Agiha. The OSHA limit is set by the government, and is a POLITICAL limit, often very out of date with current science. The other is a consensus standard.

If one sees PEL, that is a "permissable Exposure Limit" A TWA is a "Time Weighted Average" and is the exposure, averaged over an 8 hour period, go for 10 hours and the limit drops.
STEL is "Short Term Exposure Limit" and is the max amount of exposure over a 15 minute period.

There are some default limits. Almost always a dust of any sort will have a 5Mg/M3 limit. If one see a Mg/M3 this is an airborne limit, and usually dust.

The human lung does not like ANY dust. It also does not like fibers or oil mists. That is why we have repirators. Be cautious however as respirator increase the effort required to breath, sometimes causing heart attacks. That is why in industry it is the rule to require a respirator physical.
Of the things we are exposed to in the average blacksmith shop, Borax worries me perhaps the least. Coal smoke has more nasties and potential for harm.

It never ceases to amaze me that in industry how terrified folks are of a new chemical, when they suck on a toxic waste dump, inhaling carbon monoxide 20 or so times a day.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/22/06 20:35:43 EST

Borax: I just remembered the time I was a Chinese grocery store and saw little packets of borax stocked with the seasonings and suchlike. I asked my wife why it was there, and she said it was being sold as meat tenderizer! So I guess the stuff can't be all *that* toxic. On the other hand, if you go out for Chinese, maybe you should stick to the tofu (grin).
   - Mike B - Wednesday, 11/22/06 20:36:14 EST

Hudson, the iron ore mining industry is a shadow of what it once was. Before we had EAF steel making, everything started in the blast furnace with iron ore, limestone and coke. Today, we just mine the used car lots.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/22/06 20:37:43 EST

Advice from My Great Grandpappy: When in the smithy , don't snort the flux, and when fishing, don't eat the bait.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 11/22/06 21:25:52 EST

My bro-in-law, a teacher of geophysics, performed some university lab analyses on borax in the 1970s, and said that he and his colleagues found tiny traces of arsenic in the borax. He told me "not to worry."
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/22/06 21:27:46 EST

Borax Seasoning: I have seen the same in Hispanic "saesoning" displays along with a number of color dies and other chemicals that I do not have a clue what they use them for. Of course you wouldn't believe what goes into making pickles (lime) and sausage. . . In some places they are a lot closer to what goes into their food because they do it themselves, not some faceless mega food processor.

I remember using borax to start the process of tanning hides. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/22/06 21:48:44 EST

Several south of the border remedies for colds and what not are very high in lead, as are some Mexican candies and treats! In the lead risk assesor and inspector class I took we were warned to look for these if a lead affected child investigation was being conducted.

I believe I would be more concerned about the foundrey slag in the flux then borax.

If looking at the NIOSH site, I would alway pay strong attention to the any listing of IDLH! IDLH is the Immediatly Dangerous to Life and Health.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/22/06 22:15:15 EST

I picked up an unusual hardie last week. The maker's logo is C.C. within a pair of closed calipers. The head of the hardie resembles the ball of a human hip joint.

Who is the maker and what was it used for?
   david Kings - Wednesday, 11/22/06 23:12:46 EST

Frank, regarding arsenic in borax - don't worry if you analyze traces at a low enough level you'll find it in steel too.

It's just not one of the reported elements. It's really, really hard to get totally pure metals (and recycling is increasing that issue even more.)

For example to get high purity vacuum grade chromium, you start with chrome ore and smelt that to get high carbon ferrochrome. One path is to then take the high carbon ferrochrome, dissolve it in acid, precipitate it as Chrome Alum crystals, process those crystals and then redissolve them in acid and plate out on a cathode in an electrolytic process. You're now up to 99.2 % Cr via the electrolytic method. Take the plated Chrome, mill it in an inerted ball mill to make a Cr powder, take that Cr powder add a binder, water, tin powder, and graphite, blend the mix and press into pellets. Dry the pellets, and load on a furnace car - about 500,000 lbs worth. (Furnace size is 14 foot diameter and 150 feet long - still the largest high temperature vacuum furnaces in the world, originally installed by Union Carbide shortly after WWII in Marietta, Ohio.) Place in a high temperature vacuum furnace going to about 2950 F and process for about 10 days while keeping vacuum at a level equivalent to outer space. Cool, first in vacuum then with inert gas, unload an analyze the product. If you've done it right, you now have 99.80 % min pure Chrome. That .20 % that isn't Cr includes some oxygen, some iron, carbon, nitrogen, and other metals. After in house analysis, send it out for mass spectrometer analysis dow to a ppb range for about 30 elements - you'll find all sorts of traces of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, bismuth, silver, etc.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 11/23/06 02:26:19 EST

Hi Thomas. That forklift tine anvil looks good. All the mass in a vertical line-I can vouch for the effectiveness of that shape. I suggested to the student that we go for a scrap run and see what the yard has. The nearby lot only has mild steel scrap, but what they quote over the phone may be different than what is in the lot. They do allow browsing.

Besides the Harbor Freight cast iron anvil suitability question, another student asked another FAQ. Rebar is easy to find; why not use it for stock? I told him that it is cheap (free), but it varies in quality. I got a piece that was very tough, and combined with the double whammy of inexperience and a small railroad track anvil, it was very discouraging. But I later found that it was heat treatable and made very good tools, much superior to those made from mild steel that a teacher made me make and use during a lesson. At least 10X (probably 50X) more durable and usable, and also suitable for trading to other smiths with a spark photo and heat treating instructions. And it was free. So, short answer, don't start with rebar. Buy new hot-rolled steel from the steel supply, or use the leftovers from blacksmithing workshops. Much easier to work.

A comment about the cost of computers: Thomas, you are right on for a lot of us. My last computer was free. It was an old case with a surplus Gateway motherboard that booted with the company logo. Huge lot that a buddy couldn't unload at the fleas. This one crashed a lot, and I replaced it with a much better modern office pull which costed $39.95 from the Weird Stuff Warehouse. It worked great. Yeah, you can mow lawns instead of making anvils, but I'd much rather make anvils. Last time I tried to make money mowing lawns, I got mangled by a lady's dog, then I picked up a reputation as a lawsuit risk in my neighborhood, so could not get any more jobs.

I estimated the electricity required to make my anvil horn. Not counting the grinder, it was about a buck. Since the steering linkage and the rod were relatively soft, I could use a cheap junk consumer fiberglass reinforced angle grinder wheel, and it did not even use half the wheel. Again, probably less than a buck. There's a blacksmith's "Christmas Kit" on craigslist for $1750 which includes an anvil, a junk forge, and a post vise. Plus, there's gas to drive all the way (over 100 miles) to get it. This adds up, especially when driving a truck.
   EricC - Thursday, 11/23/06 03:04:10 EST

EricC: Without even looking at items in that kit I would say it is WAY over priced. Call and ask what brand and weight the anvil is and get back to us. We can give you a ballpark (need to let us know general location though). If the seller admits a forge is junk then... On the postvise not likely worth more than $20-30 jaw inch width. My WAG on value is about 1/3rd of what is listed.

About a week or so ago I noted a bunch of blacksmithing tools on eBay being sold in AR. Four anvils, four post vises, three post drills, 20 handled tools and 20 pair of tongs or such. Went for about $1,150.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/23/06 03:17:47 EST

Forklift tines as anvils. I have scrapped 3 sets of forklift tines this year alone. We run 7 fork lifts at the plant, abd the heel of the forks get ground done from dragging the floor when they are run into racks. I would guess the big ones were 8" wide by 4" at the heel by 6' long. Most went to farmers in the group to make bale spikes. There should be a large amount of tines available out there. At the forge shop the big lifts that moved the bar bundles had 12" wide by 6" at the heel tines that were about 8' long. Stick that in the ground and man, that is a lot of mass. The conventional wisdom is these are 4140, but I do NOT know that for a fact.
   ptree - Thursday, 11/23/06 10:29:12 EST

does anyone have a fork lift tine i could perchase?
i looked at my local srap yards and they didn't have anything
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 11/23/06 11:51:03 EST

Andrew B.,I don't know your location, but if N.E.Georgia, is close enough for you I will give you a forklift tine.
   - Donnie - Thursday, 11/23/06 15:07:11 EST

Andrew B.,I don't know your location, but if N.E.Georgia, is close enough for you I will give you a forklift tine.
   - Donnie - Thursday, 11/23/06 15:07:49 EST

Andrew B.
If Donnie is not close enough to take up on his very generous offer, instead of the scrap yard, look up the forklift dealers in your area, and call the service dept. Ask for any they might scrap, and offer to pay scrap value, or to do some work in trade, such as sweeping up.
   ptree - Thursday, 11/23/06 19:06:33 EST

thanks y'all
but no Donnie i'm in Houston Texas.
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 11/23/06 20:10:02 EST

I found a pair of, what I just learned are, pritchells at a site where Col. Nelson Miles and the 5th Infantry camped in 1877 on their way to the Battle of Wolf Mountain in SE Montana. Each of these are approximately 6" long and 1/2" diameter. They are corroded and in fair condition, good condition considering age. Anyone have any information about these? Rarity or guesstimate value? Thanks Will
   Will G. - Thursday, 11/23/06 20:20:36 EST

Forklift Fork Supplier:


Forklift parts suppliers:


May be cheaper to buy an anvil if you can't find a scrap fork.
   - Burnt Forge - Thursday, 11/23/06 20:53:11 EST

Will G.; If the battleground is a designated Historical Site, You probably ought to take them back there and bury them, and forget you ever saw them. ( We have a member of the National Park Service in the group here, in case you hadn't noticed.)
   3dogs - Thursday, 11/23/06 20:59:21 EST


old world anvils has a stump anvil for $30.00 plus only 5.00 shipping. You can drive it in a stump and bang away on it to get started forging. oldworldanvils.com
   - Burnt Forge - Thursday, 11/23/06 21:06:13 EST

Here is some other oldworldanvils opttions to help you get started. You could always mount them solid to a wood stump on a concrete floor if you have one.

6.5 lbs. 7.20" 3.50" 1.375" .47" x .47" $45.00
11 lbs. 8.66" 4.13" 1.57" .47" x .47" $58.00
15 lbs. 8.66" 4.13" 1.57" .47" x .47" $69.00
22 lbs. 11.02" 5.31" 1.88" .62" x .62" $85.00
44 lbs. 13.78" 6.89" 2.67" .78" x .78" $155.00

   - Burnt Forge - Thursday, 11/23/06 21:11:44 EST

You live in a big city! You can find most anything there is you search! I live 5 miles out of the biggest town in our county (about 100 miles by 100 miles) it has under 10,000 people in it---when the university is in session.

Ask at fork lift dealers/repair places, farm implement dealers, heavy machinery dealers, wharehouses, etc. Also you may be able to find heavy duty oilfield scrap that will make an anvil.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/23/06 22:11:44 EST

3dogs, Thanks for the tip, but these were found on private property, not a designated historical site. I am aware that that the archies frown on disturbing items at designated sites. I don't go there. Can't do the time.
   Will G. - Thursday, 11/23/06 22:34:46 EST

Pritichell Punches: These are common Farriers tools that have changed little in a long time. They could have been dropped by a farmer or anyone with a shoeing kit. Due to the fact that horse drawn transportation and equipment lasted for many years after the US Civil war you can find loose pieces from farrier's kits almost anywhere. My first two hammers were dug up next to a carrage house in a leaf pile where their handles had rotted off. . I am sure the leaf pile was as deep when the farrier lost those tools in the early 1900's

One way to estimate the age is if they are octagon or hex section mill tool steel they are fairly recent. If they are totaly hand forged all over they are most likely quite old BUT as recently as the 30's and 40's depression era farmers and poor folks recycled a LOT of old steel and made things the hard way a LONG time after factory tools were readily available. So they could be as new as the rust indicates OR much older but it is hard to determine.

Without VERY good providence these tools have no collector's value.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/23/06 23:08:15 EST

Dallas! Andrew! There are enough junk yards and scrap yards and machine shops in the metropolitian area to keep you busy looking and scrounging for YEARS, maybe a lifetime.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/23/06 23:12:34 EST

guru - Thanks for the information. I found these items a few weeks ago and had no idea what they were until I showed them to a rancher friend yesterday and he ID'd them right off. I didn't expect them to be of much value except as additions to my collection of artifacts and junk. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.
   Will G. - Friday, 11/24/06 00:23:26 EST

Hi There !
To the Guru"s Den from the THE LAND DOWN UNDER /Sydney / Australia.
I am sending out this HELP message in the hope that someone may be able to advise me on how to identify & value my Kohlswa Anvil that I have had for the last 12 years.
The markings, in the way of numbers are as such = 86H, & could this number be the weight of the anvil ?.
Any information on the above would be GREAT.
Hope to hear from someone
Kind Regards
John !
   John Williams - Friday, 11/24/06 01:30:50 EST

John Williams: Your anvil is Swedish. One piece tool steel. For weight you can use a bathroom scale. On value it is pretty well what someone else is willing to give you for it. However, I don't suspect there are many of this brand and quality in AU. Richard Postman (author of Anvils in America) indicate most anvil exported to AU came from England, Wilkinson brand in particular. There has also been some in-country production, such as BK in Sidney.

I thought there was a blacksmithing ass'n in AU but I am unable to find it on the ABANA site.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/24/06 06:17:10 EST

On relics: Saw one item listed on eBay as a Civil War encampment 'dug-up' item. Said it was a 'cannonier wrench' or such. Clearly an adjustable auto wrench from the late 1800s or early 1900s. Seller insisted it was Civil War era 'because it was found at the site of other authenticated Civil War period items'. Buyer beware.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/24/06 07:29:46 EST

what is scoring
   christopher burr - Friday, 11/24/06 10:11:35 EST

John, I've been looking at ebay anvil prices in australia over the last year. There is a very marked difference in price between the east coast and the rest of the country. Large anvils generally push $1000 on the east coast & often around 1/2 that here in South Australia. Obviously things vary depending on quality, abuse etc etc but there is a definite relationship between price and local population density.
   andrew - Friday, 11/24/06 12:43:13 EST

Christopher Burr:

You'll have to be more specific in your question. There are many different definitions of the word scoring, depending upon the context and application. Do you mean scoring a test? Or scoring with a date? Or scoring a goal? Or scoring a rifle barrel? Scoring as in galling? Scoring as in engraving? Any or none of these might be the queston you need answered, but I can't read your mind to know which.

   vicopper - Friday, 11/24/06 12:43:34 EST

regarding the earlier thread about borates. Very interesting though dry reading.
   ML - Friday, 11/24/06 13:45:33 EST

I need to get me some of those Hessioan Crucibles:

21st Century Technology Cracks Alchemists' Secret Recipe

A 500-year old mystery surrounding the centre-piece of the alchemists' lab kit has been solved by UCL (University College London) and Cardiff University archaeologists.

Since the Middle Ages, mixing vessels -- or crucibles -- manufactured in the Hesse region of Germany have been world renowned because of their ability to withstand strong reagents and high temperatures.


Interesting article, especially in light of some of our recent discussions.

Sunny, cool and lonely on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 11/24/06 15:57:18 EST

Hessioan Crucibles, Mullite:

The funny thing about the article is that the English found they could not make as fine a crucible. However, Mullite is named for one of the few places it is found naturally, the British Isle of Mull. Note also that the synthetic Mullite is made from kaolinic clay. This is where Kaowool gets its name.

The VERY interesting thing about this article is the widespread use of a product made by one manufacturer from raw materials found in one location in the world. How much this effected the developement of various technologies is unknown but lack of such high quality ware may have slowed the development of chemistry and science significantly.
   - guru - Friday, 11/24/06 16:18:41 EST

I know from experience in teaching chemistry labs that crucibles vary greatly in quality. I always ordered genuine Coors Brand crucibles. I had a real fight with the school system purchasing office since Indian or Chinese made ones are a little less than half the price. I got an average of 8 uses of the Coors crucibles, and seldom two of the Indian or Chinese ones. I also found that the Coors crucibles were more constant in weight after a heat-cool cycle.

The Coors family was German, and in the ceramics business before emigrating to America. I wonder if there is any connection to the Hessian crucibles in the above article?
   - John Odom - Friday, 11/24/06 16:26:35 EST

someone was looking for info on old locks, do a google book search on "Spanish Ironwork By Arthur Byne, Mildred Stapley Byne" pg. 140-142 for some fantastic keys.
   habu - Friday, 11/24/06 21:30:33 EST

Th only thing I got from Questra was a bunch of pop-ups saying to register to see anything. . . If you are not posting to a site there is no reason to register except to sell your information.
   - guru - Friday, 11/24/06 21:40:20 EST

One of the biggest problems they had in England starting up the crucible steel business in the 1700's was getting good refractories---something I think about in the "what if you were transported there" Knowing all these neat and nifty processes won't help if you can't get the necessary infrastructure to make them work.

   Thomas Powers - Saturday, 11/25/06 11:36:29 EST

What IF: There is a lot that goes into creating a technical society other than just the knowledge. There have been many great men throughout history that had the knowledge to revolutionize their world but the world was not ready to change. Aristotle, Archimedies, DaVinci, Newton and others had knowledge that was way before their time.

Society on a whole has to not just have a need but it must want AND demand change. A single person with the knowledge to create change rarely does so in a vacuum. Once things are to a point that they rely on other technologies then things get much more complicated. Mark Twain's a Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was a fantasy that could not happen even if time travel was possible.

Today we are at the point where almost anything that is possible will become reality if there is a need and occasionally only if the need is by a few. But there are still things that are absolutely possible, such as the eradication of extreme poverty and peace on Earth that will not happen until more of society demands it. And both are fairly simple. Stop spending money on weapons and use it eradicate poverty. Simple. It does not take a genius. Just for the majority of the world's poputation to demand it.

Happy Thanksgiving.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/25/06 12:09:06 EST

Spelling: I just upgraded to Mozilla 2.x on my laptop. It has built in spell check for forms like this!!!!

Travel Plans: I am going to be out of town for a week (26th to the 3rd). May be able to log in during the evening.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/25/06 12:14:49 EST

And I still make typos. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/25/06 12:15:24 EST

Peter Wright Mini-Vise - Real or Fake?

Take a look at eBay #160056082899. The one shown on page 119 of Anvils in America doesn't say it is a P. Wright and has Kirmham SC under vise. There are also other items, such as bellows and a bench vise, also shown in the Peter Wright section. Seller is known for making reproductions so could this be another manufacturer's just recently stamped?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/25/06 14:00:10 EST

PW Vise: Ken, This one is hard to tell. However the stamping looks tweeky. It is definitely done one letter at a time and the letter styles look modern. Modern stamps are all sans-serif and the ends of the strokes will be conical from the dies being machined with a sharp pionted milling cutter. Old letter dies were almost all serif type and were always hand dressed and filed with square corners and edges not the round tracer mill type. In fact hand cut stamps were made well into the 1950's. I can't see well enough in these photos to tell.

These little vises were made by many shops and in the English cottage industry system small tools like these may have been made by ANYBODY and sold by a major manufacturer.

As far as the rarity I've seen dozen of these and have several. This one is in nice condition as it is all there. But any REAL antique collector would knock off 75% for polishing off the original rust finish and would not be fooled by possibly phoney stamping. If you deal in rarities you had better be knowledgable about antiques and fraud in the antique business. If its on ebay you had better be triple sure.

These vises with no makers ID sell for up to $175. But that is with the original rust.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/25/06 15:05:58 EST

I am a Blacksmith in Boston,seeking information and recomendations for ways to clearcoat exterior forged work, price being a secondary factor. Responses greatly apprecciated.
   James in Boston - Saturday, 11/25/06 15:40:04 EST

Coors Crucibles: The source of the clay for the refractories made by Coors (The BEER people) is a deposit right on the edge of Golden Colorado, where the brewery is located. It is right across Hwy 6 from the married students housing where my wife and I lived my last year in College. The mine is mostly open pit, making it an attractive place for certain non-sanctioned student activities involving adult beverages. One year, one of the few tunnels associated with the mine collapsed, leaving a sink hole in the front yard of student housing. This was an embarrasment since the college is the Colorado School of Mines and nobody knew the tunnel was there!
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/25/06 16:21:45 EST

I have access to sheet steel that has almost no carbon, trace of chrome and nickel(I assume from the scrap its made from) and some manganese. How much manganese is needed to see siginificant work hardening? Anneal by raising past critical and a non quench cool?
   ptree - Saturday, 11/25/06 19:24:09 EST

The manganese has little to do with workhardening, pTree. Aluminum and copper both coldwork without Mn. The Mn is there to tie up the Sulfur so the steel can be HOT worked without hot shortness. Workhardening is related to the amount of cold reduction, or cold working you do. The phenomenon is due to the stacking of dislocations in the crystal lattices due to the distortion from cold working. You get rid of the cold work effects by heating to about 1200F or slightly higher if it is really coldworked, and letting it slow cool to about room temperature. This allows the crystals to reform themselves (literally recrystalize) and relieve the stresses from coldwork. Dislocations can now move, allowing the metal to flow until they all stack up again.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/25/06 19:37:59 EST

Clear Coat: If this is an important piece of outdoor work make it out of stainless. Clear coats generally do not hold up, especially over bare steel. If you want that forged and brushed steel look you can use stainless OR learn to apply a paint job that LOOKS like raw steel. Either way is expensive. You get more labor for your painting unless you sub it out.

Hollywood set painters do it all the time making wood and plaster look like ANYTHING including chrome, brass, steel, stone. . . Its an art, just like forging the steel.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/25/06 19:47:05 EST

hey y'all
i have a friend who wants me to make her a cane with some kind of wrought head on it. What do y'all think the best thing to put on a can would be, so it's not TO heavy, but still has a little bit of mass?
thanks y'all
   - Andrew B. - Saturday, 11/25/06 20:09:55 EST

Andrew B.-- get a hame from a horse harness. They are available off the Net. Cheap-- $8 (eight dollars) from one source, I recall. Handsome brass. Local store here sells sticks with hame heads for $50. Go into the business.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/25/06 21:32:16 EST

Hi All,
I have a main gear leg for a Cessna 180A(1957) that had a heavy landing and is bent about 10 degrees. My local spring setter recommends that I correct the bend with a press at room temperature and he will then electric furnace it to restore the metal. He needs to know which spring steel alloy it is made of so that he can set the correct temperature and time.
Hope someone can help as this information is somewhat difficult for me to find.
Cheers from Australia,
David Fowler
   - David Fowler - Saturday, 11/25/06 21:57:22 EST

I have a bent spring steel main gear leg for a Cessna 180A from 1957. The bend is only about 10 degrees and my spring works recommends I correct the bend (cold) and he will heat treat it to restore its properties. He needs to know which steel alloy was used for setting his furnace.
Would appreciate your help to confirm the alloy and or temperature/ time etc needed.
Hope you can help.
David Fowler
   David Fowler - Saturday, 11/25/06 22:06:33 EST

GURU "And both are fairly simple. Stop spending money on weapons and use it eradicate poverty. Simple. It does not take a genius. Just for the majority of the world's poputation to demand it."
Jock that is a mighty big 'IF' The majority will probably never demand it so we have to deal with reality.
   - Tom H - Saturday, 11/25/06 23:07:10 EST

Well, it was to make a point. It is not impossible, but improbable. In a more ideal world we would not have racisim or many of the other reasons for strife. Working together we can do much much more than when we work against each other. If we are not ready to adopt a revolutionary idea that may propell mankind into a better future then it will not happen no matter how sound the idea.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/25/06 23:33:56 EST

Cessna David, I think this the wrong fourm for your question and you have the wrong spring man.

You can rearc or correct a spring cold just fine. If there are no cracks or mechanical damage then it will be fine. Heat treatment will not correct internal damage to the steel.

The trick is to correct the bend without creating more bends or kinks and needing to straighten them and eventualy work hardening or cracking the spring. Do it right, carefully and with planning and it may be good as new. 10 degrees is nothing if a long radius but if it is a kink the material is permanently stretched and will never go back exactly like it was.

This is not the most critical of aircraft parts but a failure can mean a tumble on landing. In the US such parts are subject to the kinds of regulations that generally say you replace them with an identical NEW part if available or the closest reproduction.

The only folks that will know the material for this spring is the OEM or someone that worked for them. There are lots of aircraft forums that those people exchange information at. I would start there.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/25/06 23:46:23 EST

Ken S.
I just looked at the vise. I strongly feel the stamp on it is fake. I have studied enough knife tangs in past cutlery work to recognized a new stamp job. It looks just like the stamps he uses on his mini cast anvils.
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 11/26/06 00:35:37 EST

Ken S.
Fake Vise
It is as Guru points out. It is single stamped numbers with round corners. Definitly not a vintage stamp. A vintage stamp would have square corners as Jock mentions. I was an antique tool dealer in the past for years. The vise is old. NOT a Peter Wright. Looks like Ryan is at his tricks again.
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 11/26/06 00:43:03 EST

David Fowler: Do a www.Google.com search on Cessna aircraft. Likely you can find either your answer or a new or used replacement part there.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/26/06 05:13:32 EST

ptree, while laying awake last night, it occured to me you may be thinking of Hadfield Steel. This is the stuff old railroad rails were made of. This is 18% manganese steel. This very high manganese stabilizes austenite down to room temperature. Upon impact or heavy cold work, the austenite will transform to martensite. As the trains roll over the track, they actually make it harder, slowing down the wear. Today, we can use nickel in lesser amounts to stabilize the austenite.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/26/06 12:05:31 EST

Small vise.

Some, but not all of these little bench vises were made in Germany. I've seen a couple of them stamped, "MADE IN GERMANY". The plates enclosing the sides of the vise and hiding the spring is a German style, especially on the larger leg vises.

The same engraving of the vise that is in Postman, is also in my January, 1894, Manning, Maxwell, and Moore, New York/Chicago catalog, page 841 of a 1,071 page catalog. They list three jaw sizes of that model: 2"; 4½"; and 6". The respective weights are 6 lb; 65lb; and 145lb. I hadn't realized they made that model so large. If you're interested in 1894 prices, they are: $4.50; $12.50; and $27.00.

The "P. Wright" stamps on the leg vise box screws are old-timey with serifs, as Jock and others have pointed out.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/26/06 12:31:22 EST

Andrew B: If it's not too late on the cane topper, check out some of Bill Epps's forged critters. Some are featured in the iForge. I always thought some of the designs he's come up with would make great finials and such, no reason they wouldn't work on a cane!
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Sunday, 11/26/06 13:32:03 EST

"P. Wright" Vise:

What's very interesting here is the sellers statement: "On page 119 of "ANVILS in AMERICA" by Richard Postman, there is a picture of the IDENTICAL Vise in the PETER WRIGHT Chapter."

Postman uses a number of miscellaneous line cuts as "fillers" athe bottoms of some of his pages; something "blacksmith related" rather than blank white space. (See pages 124, for example.) I suspect that the illustration isn't a "Peter Wright" at all, but just a random filler. A viable theory is that a seller, seeing this, could leap conclusions and "enhance" the possible value by connecting a no-name vise with one mentioned for a specific manufacturer in a specific book. (Oh yes, and careful comparison reveals that it's not "IDENTICAL".

Such enhancements are just icing on the cake, but perhaps the cook has grabbed plaster of Paris instead of the powder sugar. :-P

Just a theory.

Post Civil War (and other) Artifacts:

It's not just National parklands one must be careful of; but also any Federal (and usually state) lands. You can't collect; period, unless you are an approved organization or entity and under federal or state supervision.

On private land, you have to have the landowners permission to dig about; and even then it may depend upon the historical context. The key is: when in doubt, don't! Then you should make every effort to inform yourself as to what you may or should do for even an historic archeological site. Just grubbing about will destroy any context and erase that part of history for all of us, forever.

Sunny and warm on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 11/26/06 14:12:58 EST

To illustrate the above point I was watching The History Channel on two Indian/soldier battles, one being Little Big Horn. In both when cartridges were recovered they were plotted on a map. Some of the cartridges were identified by their firing pin marks to particular rifles. Following their trail gave historians a much better understanding of both battles. Had they just been picked up and put in a box this information would have been lost.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/26/06 14:43:40 EST

Vise eBay #160056082899
In the tool collecting and knife realm we refer to what this unreputable tool dealer has done to that vise as "COUNTERFEITING." The sad shame is he has destroyed any value of this old tool to any knowledgable collector. He has also just destroyed his reputation as a dealer. It is truely a despicable deception to stamp a tool something it isn't. Only the lowest of unethical and immoral practices. It really shows the worth of a man when he will degrade the sanctity of honest representation.
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 11/26/06 15:57:18 EST

Does anyone know how to contact yesteryearforge to let him know he is bidding on a COUNTERFEIT??
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 11/26/06 15:59:04 EST

If eBay finds someone interferring in a transaction they will call it interference and have the option to suspend the offenders account. However, a way around that is to try to find something the bidder is selling and then contact them through the Ask the Seller a Question link on one of their listings.

As Guru notes, on things like this it is buyer beware.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/26/06 17:05:16 EST

I know about high manganese steel, I was just wondering why the manganese in the coil stock we use to cold form parts. This stuff goes thru a rollform line to progress to shape. No hot work, but perhaps the hot work would be the rolling into sheet. The coils are cold finished. The stuff does work harden as I shape it, The heat and cool cycle is pretty much what I had expected. I can still heat to say 600 to 800F to color without losing the workhardness. This stuff is so soft when I get it it is not usuable for ash shovels etc. They bend at the handle attach.
   ptree - Sunday, 11/26/06 18:24:14 EST

David Fowler, If you are still reading, I would say to shop for another gear leg. The C-180 and the eary C182 both had the same leg. I worked at a big aircraft dealer as a teen, recovering wrecks and wind damaged aircraft for salvage and to rebuild. The gear legs are almost always usable after a wreck, and at the time there was a large pile a usable gear legs laying in the loft. That shop is now gone but I feel pretty certain you can get a good leg. Also, of the leg is bent, It had to be more than just a hard landing. I would carefully inspect the gear leg attach box for damage, as the box usually tears out of the airframe prior to any damage to the leg.
Good luck
   ptree - Sunday, 11/26/06 18:28:59 EST

ptree, yep the Mn is there for the hot rolling into strip. It sounds like your material would do better as repousse' stock.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/26/06 18:29:27 EST

PW miniature vise: I could not really tell much from the photo but the surface of the vise had light scratches and surface wear. The die stamped letters were un-marked. Surely, in 125 years of existance, at least one of the letters would have been scratched or marred in some way. BOGUS!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/26/06 18:35:35 EST

Good Advise Ken
You can't contact him through ebay anyway because he isn't selling anything. If he is contacted through another means than ebay they have no recourse. Lets hope he sees the posts about this counterfeit vise on one of the many various blacksmithing forums.
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 11/26/06 20:14:58 EST

Ken, I saw the same show [Great minds....you know ;-)], I was real surprised to learn that the ","Battle of Little Big Horn" had more than one fighting and killing zone. Definitely proves the point about leaving relics where they lay !!!
   Thumper - Sunday, 11/26/06 21:56:43 EST

As a forensic examiner with more than a little experience on toolmarks and impressions, I suppose I could buy the thing and then examine it properly. However, I can see from the photos that the stamping is not period-correct, nor is it a mono-stamp but rather a series of individual letter impressions. Definitely a bogus maker's stamp, in my opinion. But even if I, or another tolmark expert, did do a proper examination, the result would still be the same; no recourse against the seller beyond a refund, as his description is carefully worded to dodge criminal fraud charges.

As with all eBay sellers, all you can do is carefully check their reputation, previous sales practices and knowledge of the applicable field. In this case, that same seller has sold numerous small "salesman's sample" anvils with famous-name stamps in the past, as I recall.
   vicopper - Sunday, 11/26/06 22:03:13 EST

vicopper,Frank T, Guru and Ken
Thank You for taking the time to comment on the counterfeit vise. Your expertise and experience helps add a great deal of validity to this concern including validating my observation.
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 11/26/06 23:06:38 EST

Just for gun I Googled "yesteryearforge", Alot of stuff came up on this guy, He has posted to Abana also.

This popped up also http://myworld.ebay.com/yesteryearforge

But as I am not enrolled in Ebay, I cant contact the guy that way. There is a chance he would be upset thinking that somebody is trying to "steal" the auction away from him.
None the less, Its a neat small vise.
Maybe he is not worried about its PW name, But I think it would be a friendly gesture to inform him of the general opinion at Anvilfire Gurus Den, Then he can make a decision from there.

   - Håkan - Sunday, 11/26/06 23:28:01 EST

Little vise. Yesteryear retracted his bid. Two others are now bidding. I reckon it's out of our hands.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/26/06 23:47:25 EST

Possible Fraudulent Antiques:

The trouble is that even when you personally see them, you have a tough time with many of them to determine if they are recent frauds, “converted” antiques (such as, possibly, the vise in question) or very well preserved examples. Since I have given this a bit of study, I can usually figure out how I would go about faking the artifact; but just because I can, doesn’t mean somebody else did. One thing I go by is wear marks: is there wear and tear on the item, and, even more important, is it in the right place? I established that a fireplace crane in one of our National Park Service sites was a modern replacement by simply pointing out that the upper corners of the horizontal bar were still sharp, with no sign of wear. Nobody ever slid a kettle or pothook along the top of it.

Still, presence or absence of wear patterns is not a 100 percent proof of age or authenticity. Some items survived because they were put away and never used. All sorts of oddities are tucked away in kitchens and attics, to be revealed, in pristine condition, years later.

A couple of years back, I came across a beautiful trammel. It was marked as 18th century, but it had a design that could date from any period from the late medieval to the early 19th century. I took a series of photographs of it, with a dollar bill for scale, for later research or to make my own. I had even given the shop my card (for Oakley Forge) to the desk staff (nice folks) and asked them to have the dealer to call me about the provenance. It looked good- wrought iron, hand forged… I was saving up the $200 to buy it. Six or so months later, despite not hearing from that dealer, I walked into the place with $200 burning in my pocket, and took a long, cool look at it. Fully functional, lots of wear on it… but none of the wear was in the right places. No wear on the teeth, nor on the catch, none on the hooks, and nothing worn eccentric. I walked out with $200 in my pocket. Later I ran into this dealers goods at several other consignment antique shops; and where a lot of his stuff looked right, some of it looked like the old Clorox treatment. It was a nice piece, and making one myself would certainly take a lot of shop time, but it just didn’t feel right to spend that much money (a lot for me) on something that didn’t feel right, and might be misrepresented.

As Ken says: caveat emptor. Especially when you can’t actually see it and feel it and check for the wear that comes with age.

And as Nol Putnam says “Always date your work with all four numbers of the date.”

…and as the late Thorhall Halftroll of Bolverk Ironworks used to say: “Tomorrows antiques, today.”
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/27/06 01:02:30 EST

Hi Bruce
Your post is very well stated and true.

In this case it is the sellers modern stamp set he uses to mark his small foundry produced cast anvils. It is obvious he counterfeited the item himself.
   - Burnt Forge - Monday, 11/27/06 01:14:25 EST

I have personally held and inspected several of the small stamped anvils he makes. Those are nice. I recognized the same modern fonts and sizes used and the obvious positions the single letter stamps are held to strike...left by the footprint. After many years in the cutlery field I have a very sharp eye for detail. I have studied many tang stamps. I can recoganize individuals counterfeit work. Everybody holds and strikes differently. It is like leaving finger print.
   - Burnt Forge - Monday, 11/27/06 01:30:39 EST

Age wear. If someone knows what they are doing appropriate wear and aging can be applied.

As I have noted in the past I've seen estimates up to 80% of the arrowheads offered on eBay are recent reproductions. As first they were 'too' good. Once sellers realized that they started to break off points and tumble to give them an aged look.

I have a friend who is a self-taught, first class knapper. He told me the story of visiting with a friend and dealer in them. Friend's daughter asked him to make her an arrowhead so he found a suitable stone in driveway and made her one. A couple of years later he was at a show and someone showed him an arrowhead in a small presentation/display case with a certificate of authenticity. He thought the head looked familiar and asked where he had bought it. The guy pointed out his dealer/friend.

On the trammel likely a bit of work with a flat and round file would have given it appropriate wearing.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/27/06 08:46:06 EST

hi - my son has qualified as a blacksmith and is living in london looking for work. I know he's particularly interested in armoury and I was wondering if you know where we could find a list of craftsmen who would possibly be looking to take on a young smith, maybe even as an appprentice. thanks
   Julia - Monday, 11/27/06 09:24:08 EST

Julia: On the assumption it is London, England contact the British Artist-Blacksmith Ass'n at www.baba.org.uk. They may be able to assist you.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/27/06 09:40:06 EST

I'm looking to learn the art of blacksmithing. I am looking for a school in the metro area of minnesota? do you know of any schools and how to get in contact with them
   andrew - Monday, 11/27/06 11:03:58 EST

Hey Guys,

Thanksfor the tips! I think I'll now drag my artifakes behind the car for a little while on a dirt road. [kidding]
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/27/06 11:16:10 EST

What is the best torch tip for a smaller relativly clean kerf on 1/8th and thinner sheet?
   James A. - Monday, 11/27/06 13:25:23 EST

Frank; so that is why Miles was so upset about them paving his road---his business in late roman sundials would be impacted!

Julia; if you mean London Ohio, USA, let me know and I can get you in touch with the local SCA group. If you mean London UK I would ask at the Wallace Collection and at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/27/06 13:32:53 EST

Dear Mr. Guru,

I have a old forge for shoeing horses around 100 yrs. old. I would like to know if you could tell me what it may be worth and if you may know someone who might be interested in it. I have a photo of it I could send you via e-mail, if you'd like.

Thanking you in advance for any help you can offer.

   Gerry - Monday, 11/27/06 14:37:15 EST

Guru -

At least into the 1990s, steel type was available in nice serifed fonts. My ex had a letterpress and some type catalogs which listed standard typefaces in both traditional typemetal and steel.

I don't know how well those would hold up as stamps, but I have seen type holders for stamping with steel type. . .

   John Lowther - Monday, 11/27/06 15:35:54 EST

Gerry, size, type, condition and location are all needed to give an estimate. Very few if any shoer's use the old small round coal forges these days having gone to propane units.

If it's a shallow pan forge it's not great for beginning smithing either; though a lot have started on one like that.

I've seen them go from between US$20 and US$150 depending on size, condition, how good the blower was, etc. They will tend cheaper in the middle of the USA than on the coasts.

Age usually decreases it's value as it's often correlated with declining condition. These are not collectable and as a using tool condition is paramount!

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/27/06 16:11:07 EST

Taking fonts and serifs to the Hammer-In forum...
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/27/06 16:15:24 EST

has anyone ever heard of a wooden treadle hammer ever being made? I saw a picture of one a a hitory book a couple days ago and was wondering if it would work or not. It had a small 20lb. or so hammer head on it with a removable anvil face. the hammer was pulled down by a wooden treadle by way of a chain and drawn back up with a wooden spring type object. I think also that there was some kind of treadle hammer close to this in Alex Bealers "The Art Of Blacksmithing" Is there any truth to this actualy working?
thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Monday, 11/27/06 16:28:03 EST

I have a Perfect triphammer left to me by my father who was a blacksmith when I was a small child. The triphammer has the words "Perfect pat appd for Macgowan & Finigan F&M Co St Louis Mo" on the side. I do have photos of it that I can email. I would like to know any information available about the triphammer and what its value is. The only thing I've found online about a Perfect triphammer made by Magowan & Finigan is a query about a Perfect triphammer that was patented September 10, 1907.
Thank you!
   Angela - Monday, 11/27/06 17:56:16 EST

Now Thomas, be careful when you say "these are not collectible". Of course, you are pretty much right on with your advice to Gerry, but ANYTHING is collectible. By someone. That doesnt mean they are worth anything, just that they are probably "collectible" to somebody, somewhere.
My general rule of thumb is that three of anything is a collection, and that somebody, somewhere, collects absolutely everything.
I once heard about an entire barn, 3000 or 4000 sq ft, somewhere in Wisconsin, that was 15 feet deep in dial telephones. The guy was positive it was a collection.
Another nice gentleman in Oregon collected over 3 million used tires. Didnt even have to pay for them. Thought he had the worlds largest collection, but he quicky tried to disavow ownership when they accidentally caught on fire- and last I heard, were still burning, some years later.

Me, I collect little kid's shoes with light up soles, beer can hats, power ranger action figures, and albums by Captain Beefheart. And I am sure my collections are far from the most obscure or oddball out there.

So dont be so quick to say "its not a collectible"....
   - Ries - Monday, 11/27/06 17:58:05 EST

is it possible to use a cast iron skillet as a fire pot for a coal forge?
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Monday, 11/27/06 18:45:52 EST

Andrew, yes it has been done before. I saw one at a Columbus OH arts fair in the early 1990's (Mousehole Forge? might have been the guy who had it)

There are some shoeing forges that are not much bigger than a skillet and at least 1 that is smaller than a lot of skillets---what I would call a backpack set-up.

Ries: is was using the term like it was used on e-bay---something that has the price driven up do to a market other than strictly using. (Actually it might bring more as a garden ornament...)

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/27/06 19:12:50 EST

I'm a budding student of metalworking and bronze casting. I'm not sure if this is the correct place to be asking, but if there are any bronze working people here, would you please recommend some titles on bronze work? I'm specifically interested in old bronze working methods from the bronze age. I know some of the tools that are required, but I'd really like some comprehensive "hard-copy" books that I can peruse. Internet articles tend to be too limited.

Your help is greatly appreciated. Kindly redirect me if I'm in the wrong forum, I'm a bit lost with the site layout.
   Paul Martens - Monday, 11/27/06 20:34:20 EST

While I'm asking questions, I'll hazard another. I spoke with a Colonial period reenactor, who is also a blacksmith. He recommended used lawnmower blades for a beginner to make knives with. Can anyone comment on this? Was he pulling my leg or is this true?

I've been saving old lawn mower blades anyway, for scrap metal. If I can forge them instead, I'd like to try that.
   Paul Martens - Monday, 11/27/06 20:47:39 EST

Paul Martens,

Most art foundry casting is done with silicon bronze, which is an alloy of 95% copper, 4% silicon, and 1% manganese. However, this was not the true metal of the bronze age. That metal was a copper/tin alloy with less than 10% tin for workabliity. It can get confusing, because today, some brasses are called bronze. Some of the copper alloys can be worked plastically, and some cannot.

The Copper Development Association is online with a large menu to peruse. www.copper.org

I've not worked with lawn mower blades.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/27/06 21:27:41 EST

lawn mowere blades make great knives. I've made several knives form lawn mower blades. (actualy i'm working on a large 15" bowie right now) considering their past life was in fact a BLADE, A life as a blade won't be foreign. but you have to keep in mind that most lawn mower blades are at least 3/16" thick, so making small blades from 6" and under will be massive, bulky, and heavy. So lawn mower blade knives i would say make it at least 6 1/2" long. IF you need/want any more suggetions or tips email me and or post again i'de be glad to help with the little metal working knowlege i possess.
Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Monday, 11/27/06 21:46:52 EST

Paul Martens:

First, I commend to you "Treatises on Goldsmithing and Sculpture" by Bienvenutto Cellini, and also his "Autobiography". Both have some excellent anecdotal information on Renaissance-era bronze casting. Thay're a fascinating read as well; Cellini was quite the raconteur.

Lawnmower blades might or might not make a good blade. For obvious liability reasons, they are made so as not to shatter upon encountering the occasional rock or immovable object, and thus might not be terribly high carbon steel. They're higher than mild steel though, or they couldn't hold their shape at all. I've played with a couple and felt they were about 35-45 points carbon worth of hardenability. A coil spring from a car or light truck is a better material in my opinion, but your mileage may vary. They are both unknown alloys and you have to experiment to see what, if anything works.
   vicopper - Monday, 11/27/06 22:08:28 EST

James A: Cutting tip - You need to look up the proper # based on the brand name. They are unfortunatly not numbered in a standard fasion. You want a light preheat tip in the size for 1/8" material. This is a really small tip, probably the smallest one You can get. For example in Airco/Concoa You would want a 124-00, but if You could only get a 144-00, that would work too. The less preheat will give the cleanest cut in light material. Too much preheat or too big a tip will give a sloppy cut that is hard to keep going.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 11/27/06 22:14:41 EST

Paul Martens-- take a gander at A Search for Structure, The MIT Press, 1981, by the late, great Cyril Stanley Smith, an MIT professor. You'll like it.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/27/06 22:36:50 EST

When I rebuilt my old Champion forge, a 6# skillet is what I used for my tuyere, surrounded by refractory (fire place) cememt. I drilled holes in it for air flow, but a didn't like the heating pattern and how quickly clinker interfered with the heating. If you use one, cut bar type slits instead of holes. Don't know how long it would last with out warping the bars, but the holes worked for over a year till I wised up and built a better tuyere.
   Thumper - Monday, 11/27/06 22:53:03 EST

thanks thumper
Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Monday, 11/27/06 23:50:39 EST

iam makeing 1 of your burners [FAQ]how importent is the depth of the nozzel in the tube i have all the parts i need in my pile [4"x1/8] nippel .45 mig tip i wont have to buy if i can go this way
   jmac - Tuesday, 11/28/06 00:02:24 EST

Has anybody used the 115 volt dayton blower? My main concern is the noise problem. Also, ive been looking into hand crank blowers for a small forge, and was wondering if anybody had any leads in the San Fransisco Bay Area region?
   - Sebastian B. - Tuesday, 11/28/06 00:41:04 EST

jmac, Normally they need to bee in the straight part of the burner anywhere from the opening to the beginning of the reducer.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/28/06 08:58:43 EST

More later from foggy New Jersey. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/28/06 09:00:52 EST

Hello, I'm in the process of purchasing my first anvil, Ive been a weldor and fabricator for 21 yrs and would like one to do some cold work and learn some Blacksmithing. Ive got my eye on a JHM Shaper and Competitor. I would like your opinion of the quality of these Anvils. Thanks, Ed kerr
   Ed Kerr - Tuesday, 11/28/06 11:05:59 EST

Ed Kerr: According to Anvils in America these are made out of heat-treated ductile iron composite. Designed as a farrier anvil so there isn't a lot of mass under the waist. Farrier anvils are normally lighter than those intended for general purpose blacksmithing. Their address at one time was JHM Manufacturing, P.O. Box 93, Peaster, TX 76485-0093. Both Pieh Tool Co., Centaur Forge and Blacksmiths Depot (all forum advertisers) sell a variety of new anvils so shop around. To find their links click on the NAVIAGE anvilfire box above and then scroll down to the bottom. Be sure to take shipping into consideration. I believe Centaur and B-D attend a number of events around the country each year so you might arrange for a pick up if they will be in your general area in the near future. Pieh is in AZ, Centaur is in TX & WI and B-D is in NC.

There are also at least a dozen anvils listed on eBay at any one time. Sooner or later a decent used one will show up in your general area. Even a couple of hours drive will likely be cheaper than paying shipping.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/28/06 12:07:14 EST

Paul Martens; Jeroen Zuiderwijk at the "ancient Weapons Forum" of swordforum.com has been doing bronze age metal casting for quite a while now. I would look over that forum, read every thread he's been involved in and correspond with him on the subject.

"The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" deals with biomass furnaces for that time period and may be useful for you.

There is also quite a lot on the net about viking era bronze casting that may be of interest.

And of course there is the Archeological Metallurgy mailing list, Arch-Metals that is a wonderful source for scholarly help.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/28/06 13:02:25 EST

Thank you all very much for these references. I'll have to wait for most of them through interlibrary loan more than likely, but at least I have some starting points. I will hopefully be making my weekly trip to the library today.

Once again, thank you all very much.
   Paul Martens - Tuesday, 11/28/06 14:32:40 EST

Try Craigs list, Bay area, a person in Cupertino listed a forge and blower yesterday.
   blackbart - Tuesday, 11/28/06 17:05:04 EST

For the blower try surpluscenter.com
they have cheep blowers.
   blackbart - Tuesday, 11/28/06 17:09:21 EST

is it possible to braze useing coat hangers? just to heat the metal to around 2300 degrees then just use the coat hanger to braze the two pieces together.
thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Tuesday, 11/28/06 19:33:34 EST

Andrew- coat hangers are steel. That means if you get the parent metal hot enough for a molten coat hanger to melt to it, you are welding, not brazing.
It IS possible to gas weld with coat hangers- but most people find that its worth actually buying welding rod, as it works a bit better.
Brazing is generally understood to mean using a copper based filler rod, and to keep the parent metal below melting point, using the lower melting temp of the filler rod to make the joint without actually melting the parent metal.
I suggest you buy Richard Finch's excellent book, Welders Handbook, from HP books, often available used on Amazon or abebooks.com for as little as 4 bucks. There are 5 copies on abebooks right now for under 10 bucks. This is a great book that explains all kinds of welding- gas and electric, and knowing about welding is an essential of being a good blacksmith.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 11/28/06 19:45:02 EST

I recently purchased some coal from my local ice and coal plant. Not even thinking about what kind of coal i SHOULD be using, I bought it and as it turns out its Anthricite coal. I know that Bituminous coal is what i was trained with... and i cant find any laymen-oriented information as to the pro's and cons of Bituminous vs anthricite. I know i had a hell of a time getting the forge to stay lit, and could only get it started using a store bought wood charcol from Whole Foods. once the fire was going it was good and hot, but the fire wasnt making coke very well.. any help would be great, thanks!

   Sebastian - Tuesday, 11/28/06 21:53:00 EST


I've never used anthracite (except in a stove), but from what I've read, it's hard to light and doesn't coke very well. (Said with a grin, but true none the less.) You'll probably be much happier if you can find some bituminous.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 11/28/06 22:16:10 EST

Anthracite Coal; Seb:

When I started out I used charcoal and, when friends or neighbors dropped some on me, anthracite. It stayed lit with the electric blower on low, and you could get it hot enough to easily faggot weld. You have to treat is somewhat like charcoal, especially for welding, and haep the fire deep. One of its problems is that it coked as individual pieces and had a lot of unconsolidated clinker, so that you would spend a lot of time sorting and cleaning the fuel afterwards. It was also hard to start, and that's where I discovered the perfect use of the "Readylite" style charcoal briquettes! Pop a few of those suckers in the tuyer, light 'em up, turn up the blast, shovel on the coke and then the "uncooked" anthracite, and let it build. Otherwise, start with a paper-tinder-kindling fire and shovel it in from the sides once you have a proper conflagration. It smokes some, getting going, but not near as profusely as bituminous. Also, unlike bituminous, it's not "self-insulating" and the fire nd heat spreads through the fire pot, causing the firepot to run hot, also.

it does work, and has been used to advantage historically, but it takes different techniques to use.

A misty night on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/28/06 23:56:43 EST

On homemade powerhammers take a look at eBay #250055492495. I speculate at one time there was a short, but strong, spring between the eye bolt and arm. Otherwise there would not have been much force delivered by the arm via gravity. Would also seem to require something like a rheostat controlled motor.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/29/06 07:24:42 EST

It might have but all that does is hold the hammer hard against the work cooling it. Old helves had a rebound spring (usually a wood leaf spring) that helped reduce bounce at the top and gave the machine a little more kick.

The big problem with gravity helves is they run at ONE spped, that of gravity. No faster, no slower.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/29/06 08:33:52 EST

Anthracite: We either missed or glossed over it in our coal articles (FAQs page). This gives you an idea of how little it is used. Will add a paragraph.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/29/06 08:37:40 EST

Anvils: Ed, Ken is right, you do not want a farrier's anvil, ESPECIALLY a light weigh composite (aluminium bas). See the "Selecting an Anvil" article on our FAQs page.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/29/06 08:41:34 EST

Whoops. . sorry about the bold.

Still foggy and cool in New Jersey.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/29/06 08:42:48 EST

Hey guys. Just got back from Amsterdam yesterday. This is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen so far. The ornamental iron work is not only centuries old, but is gorgeous!! The people we were travelling with probably thought I was insane because I'm taking pictures of ornate gates and window grills, chains, etc. I spent more time checking out the fence of the Reichst museum than the artwork INSIDE the museum. The city is perforated with canals and there's about 15 bicycles for every automobile, so you could imagine how much metal this place uses. I could go on and on, but I don't want Jock to gripe about bandwidth.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 11/29/06 09:16:58 EST

Ypographical Terrors: I must have been somewhat tired last night when I did the anthracite item. A little bit of gibberish crept in there...

TGN: You sound like me in England; the barmy tourist taking pictures of Victorian downspouts. (It was SPIKED to keep urchins from ascending it!) It's fascinating to see what other peoples and cultures do with the same medium, and it certainly helps inspire our efforts and "freshens" our eyes to see new possibilities.

Some of my pictures of historic and modern English bollards and chains were reviewed by an NPS committee on defensive measures here in D.C. A few of my (and my wif's) suggestions were adapted, but the pretty and the neat stuff got left out. Oh well, welcome to "Bollard City".

Cool and foggy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks; (Presidents Park has LOTS of bollards! ;-) http://www.nps.gov/whho/index.htm

Go viking ("We don' need no steenkin' bollards!"): www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/29/06 10:04:07 EST

The best coat hangers for gas welding are the ones in the Bosses office, that way he remembers to order the welding rod that he was supposed to order last week.
   - Hudson - Wednesday, 11/29/06 10:45:22 EST

My name is William, and I am hoping to get started in the world of bladesmithing. It's an art that I have always been fascinated with, particularly Japanese Weaponsmithing.

I have a basic idea of what is required, but the basic idea isn't always the best to go on. I would like a professional idea of what I need to get started and the basic principles of the trade. Possibly even a rough estimate of the costs of getting started. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
   William Benko - Wednesday, 11/29/06 11:24:13 EST

William Benko: In the upper right corner click on the NAVIATE anvilfire box arrow. Go down to FAQs. Then find the article on Getting Started in Blacksmithing. While there read all of the FAQs and the other listings also.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/29/06 11:38:25 EST

Bruce; good thing they didn't listen to my wife's suggestions or I would probably be chained out front a government building as a bollard...
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/29/06 12:09:18 EST

2THINGS: First, is are any of you guys located in or within 45 minuets of Hickory, N.C.? Second thing, I'm looking for a good anvil around 100lbs., does anyone have one they would sell or know of anybody that would sell one? 80lbs. is O.K. to, but my price range is up to $125, mabye $130. Thanks in advance.
   - Andrew Marlin - Wednesday, 11/29/06 12:31:53 EST

Nippulini, I was recently in Italy where I was similarly blown away by the iron work. I was also struck by the differences in style between Rome and Venice. Rome had very heavy work doors and entrances, presumably to obstruct serious invasion perhaps including the odd canon ball? Whereas the Venecians had very light work, presumably only aimed at keeping out theves. It's unlikely invadors are going to get much heavy artillery through the alleys and canals of Venice! It also struck me that there must be a reasonable number of working blacksmiths there since most new buildings had ironwork of a similar style.
   andrew - Wednesday, 11/29/06 13:00:00 EST

Some of my personal favorite ironwork is the railings on the bridges over the canals in Amsterdam- probably late 1800's work, as it is worked with power hammers, in a kind of baroque meets art deco style, with lots of 2" square twisted, split, and remeeting in forge welds. Hefty stuff, which looks new today, 100 years later.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 11/29/06 13:42:18 EST

Looking for Richard Postman's email address.
Also I have a Hay Budden anvil serial number 78667 wondering what the date is on it.
   brunetta - Wednesday, 11/29/06 13:43:03 EST

Brunetta, the last I heard was Mr. Postman does'nt "do" the internet. Ken Scharabok, three or four posts up, may be able to help get information to him. or answer your question outright.
   daveb - Wednesday, 11/29/06 14:01:50 EST

Has anyone noticed that the christmas yard pieces ( the blowup kind,snowman etc..) that have become very popular , around NC anyway. These things have a great litte fan in them. 110v with a square box, made to run outside for at least 8 hours nonstop. $29.86 or so at Wally World. Possible source for a fan. Check the neigborhood someone made be going to trash them after this season, if the figure get dirty or has a hole in it. Maybe offer to help put up or take down this years display.

Just don't be the source of the damage :)
   daveb - Wednesday, 11/29/06 14:12:51 EST

i found an old hand blower at a old boy i know's home shop. He was a mechanic back in his time and he gave me all the equipment and tools i could ever ask for to start this craft. at least $5000 worth. the point being if you looking for good tools check with people you know they might have what you need or know someone who does.
that's all for now y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Wednesday, 11/29/06 15:00:30 EST

Andrew Marlin: For $125-130 you aren't going to get much of an anvil. If one were in decent condition chances are price would be at least 1.5X that, perhaps up to 2X.

If you are desperate go to a Harbor Freight retail outlet and pick up one of their 110 LB Russian imported anvils. OK for a starter anvil, just don't expect it to have any resale value. Will make you learn good hammer control quickly. Also don't hammer on the back end (heel) or it may break off on you.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/29/06 15:05:35 EST

Andrew Martin, If you do, get the one with the hardy hole square to the sides, not the diagonal hardy- otherwise, just get a heavy piece of scrap iron. That is what a lot of knife makers are using now anyway.. A piece of 5"x5" or even 4"x4" about a foot or so long stood on end works fine
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 11/29/06 16:52:53 EST

Oh Guru, Great sage of the anvil. I need information. Where can I go to find information on foundries, specifically metal recipes? perhaps how to mix bronze?
   Mills - Wednesday, 11/29/06 19:18:53 EST

My thinking on the bench heave hammer is the rpm of the large pulley wheel is going to determine number of hits per minute of the head. If the wheel pulley were turning too fast it would catch the head in mid-stroke downward. A spring would accelerate the downward pull and force. I see no purpose for the open eye bolt otherwise. Actually I consider it an interesting, small scale, concept.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/29/06 19:20:21 EST

Mills: I got a lot of helpful information at artmetal.com in the casting forum. B. Paul Fink is an artist in cast bronze and he is a real expert and very generous with his hard learned wisdom.

   - John Odom - Wednesday, 11/29/06 21:01:23 EST

Hi. My student showed up at the smithy this morning. He's the one who was looking for an anvil and was shocked at the price of scrap railroad rail at $40 per foot. I told him not to buy an ASO at Harbor Freight. He did buy an anvil from an Ebay seller. Looked good in the ad, but when he received it, it appeared to have been thruough a fire. Lots of burn marks and a dull thud. Oh well, I guess there's no way I could have helped him here. He said that he realizes that he made a mistake and vowed never to buy an anvil sight unseen again. This should still be better than a cast iron ASO, right? Maybe as good as a chunk of mild steel. At least it has a hardy hole, pritchel hole and horn. On the other hand, he did pay Ebay prices. The farm smithy has two excellent anvils. I told him he could come in anytime and fire up the forge. This will give him plenty of time to find that mythical anvil from some old fellow who doesn't use it anymore. This could take a long time, and he did get snared, despite my efforts. But, the show of enthusiasm is wonderful, and will take a person far. That's better than some of the posters here who are complained about. They just discuss and discuss, and never set up anything.

I have another, completely different, question. My student contacted someone more knowledgable about the 25 Little Giant hammer that someone left behind at the farm. They showed up and turned the hammer on. The main problem was a sloppy main guide. This hammer is the one with the wrap around guides and the three bolt attachment. There appear to be no shims, and it looks like the hammer frame has to be machined to take up guide wear. The contact said he has a large enough mill, but no crane to get the frame up on its side to work on the attachment point. I didn't dare mention an angle grinder. But, I have sort of an idea. How about adding some shims? Then the guide will be really loose. Loose enough to put brass plates in the V-guides. Will this work? It seems like it is worth a try. I have a couple of buddies who move machinery, and they are trying to move a 2000 lb generator with an a-frome and some Johnson bars. It is scary stuff, and I understand the trepidation of putting the hammer frame down on a mill. Buying a new guide will not really be enough, since the wear presumably is in both places, so it will only take up half the slack. I am aware that the hammer should run tight in this part, else it will really be sloppy and shaky. Any suggestions?

   EricC - Thursday, 11/30/06 01:54:24 EST

hey guys, can't find a better place to post this, let me know where that spot is for next time. Bodes well for the smiths of the world! http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2006/iron.html gogo MIT!
   Sebastian - Thursday, 11/30/06 02:31:44 EST

EricC: Can you provide the listing number of the anvil your student bought? Would like to see how the seller described it and the brand. For example, as is/where is or with some guarantee. Cast iron body or wrought iron/mild steel?

eBay has a procedure to where you can file a claim against a seller for an item received not as described. Esssentially eBay will try to act as a referee between buyer and seller. You can find link on their Site Map page at the bottom of the middle column.

However, before filing I recommend they try to resolve it directly with the seller, who might not have even been aware of the fire annealed problem. They should be armed first though with the reasons why anvil was likely in a fire, such as the damage you noted and perhaps the results of a steel ball bounce test vs what an unannealed anvil of that brand should have.

Larry Wood, of SOF&A, had his shop catch on fire. He was tempering a blade in a 5-gallon bucket of oil, He had tipped bucket on side to set a sufficient depth. Oil flashed, he dropped bucket, spreading burning oil around shop. By the time local fire department arrived building had mostly burned down. He had about ten anvils in it at the time. He sent all to a local (Dayton, OH) place to be retempered.

I have a anvil purchase guide on eBay as a listing (#280055300765), as well as a formal guide.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/30/06 05:00:48 EST


An excellent guide for e-bay anvil searchers. You've probably saved many potential smiths from the fate of frustration when their enthusiasm outruns their knowledge. Well done.

The fog has broken up, and the sun is coming out on the banks of the Potomac. Heading for the 60s today.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 11/30/06 10:00:21 EST

I was wondering if there is anyone who has a shop in the west pennsylvania area that would allow a fellow blacksmith a place to do some blacksmithing? I've tried contacting all of the local abana chapters and all of their meetings are 2-3 hours away. I'm a collage student, and while I have some money I don't have enough to waste on gas and such for a 3 hour trip once a week. If anyone has some advice out there I would appreciate it. John
   John Scancella - Thursday, 11/30/06 10:20:11 EST

can someone tell me what temperature bronze turns to a liquid, please. I'm gonig to try to cast a bronze age axe head for a friend.
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 11/30/06 10:24:47 EST

can any one tell me about power hammer called the boss made by novelty iron works dubuque machine concern dubuqye iowa
   - darwin - Thursday, 11/30/06 11:40:55 EST

Can low-grade cast iron be drilled and tapped without exotic tooling or special procedures? I seem to remember having been taught years ago that cast iron could not be easily tapped. I just purchased a 55-lb anvil from Harbor Freight Tools. It's from China, made of el-cheapo cast iron of unknown grade. I would like to put four 1/4-20 tapped holes into the bottom so I can bolt the anvil to a heavy block of wood. Is this viable?
   Robert Copel - Thursday, 11/30/06 11:59:07 EST

Robert; we drilled and tapped a HF 55# anvil extensively while the MOB was turning it into a propane stove. Drilled a series of cross face blind holes that were tapped and had a set screw with some dope run in and then had a long hole from the heel to the last cross hole that was then tapped for the propane fitting and then we drilled small holes down through the face as jets. Made a decent camp stove to keep the coffee hot.

Drilled like butter save for one place that had a hard spot, so much graphite in it we were surprised it didn't leak! No specoal tooling or equipment was used, just an old drillpress and regular drillbits and taps.

My opinion of the HF 55# ASO's is pretty much summed up by what I did with it...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/30/06 12:13:01 EST

Eric- for anything pertaining to Little Giants, you want to talk first to Sid Sudemiester- www.littlegianthammer.com
He has parts, he has experience, and he will help you out.
He will keep you from wasting time, or ruining the hammer.
   - Ries - Thursday, 11/30/06 13:12:31 EST

John Scancella - it would help tremendously if you posted where in western PA you are - lots of folks around doing blacksmithing. Titusville, Ambridge, Ligonier, and Hookstown, all come quickly to mind.

Andrew B. - your question as asked is meaniningless - to tell you the liquidus of bronze, we need to know the composition of the bronze alloy you plan to use. Let us know what you plan to use and we can come up with some pretty good numbers.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 11/30/06 13:52:24 EST

Andrew B: Gavinah is right, there are lots of bronzes!

Most of them pour near 2000 degrees F or a couple of hunderd less. It takes trial and error for an unknown lot of metal.

I posted this a few messages above: I got a lot of helpful information at artmetal.com in the casting forum. B. Paul Fink is an artist in cast bronze and he is a real expert and very generous with his hard learned wisdom.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 11/30/06 16:33:42 EST

Gavainh, I'm not in pa but very close to the border in ohio. Pittsberg is about 30 mins away and would be perfect if theres anyone there. I tried the pittsberg area blacksmiths but none live in pitts. just near to it making them 2 or more hours away... So if anyone is willing to help a collage student out while he's at school I would be most gratful. John Scancella
   John Scancella - Thursday, 11/30/06 17:18:48 EST

If u cn rd ths msg u cn be a smif & ern bg $ in yr spr tim.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/30/06 20:39:51 EST

Andrew, first, I assume you mean the LOWEST temperature at which bronze turns to a liquid? I am pretty sure it is liquid at 6000 degrees F. It may be a liquid at other temperatures. Second, which bronze? There are dozens if not hundreds of alloys and each has it's own physical properties. I'm sorry, my great knowlege and generally smart-alec nature makes me do these things. I am not related to Miles Undercut.
   - Quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/30/06 21:09:08 EST

So did everyone stop typing or did my computer lock up?
   Ringer - Thursday, 11/30/06 21:59:01 EST

I just looked at the helve hammer on ebay, do all helve's run on a flapper system, or was a cam used on the better ones?
   Thumper - Thursday, 11/30/06 21:59:30 EST

Quenchcrack, not related? I am deeply, deeply hurt, nay, shocked. Why, in fact, there is, or at least was, a genuine show on the TV called Six Degrees that has as its premise our basic interconnectedness. We are all of us part of a vast fabric of mankind (insert holiday message of your choice here), yakkity, blah, etc.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/30/06 22:04:42 EST

Im planning on using bagged coke for my forge because of my suburban setting, but the fire pot that i can get easily is marketed as a "coal forge firepot". I wont be doing heavy work, or major use. Any problems with heat?
   - Sebastian B. - Thursday, 11/30/06 22:35:03 EST

John Scancella,

If you consider the gas to drive to a hammer-in to be a waste of time/money, I have some doubts about how eager anyone would be to just give you free use of their shop and tools. When I take on a liability like that, I like to think that person I'm extending the courtesy to is totally sincere and committed to the art of blacksmithing; in other words, the sort of person that would think nothing of driving several hours to attend a hammer-in. But then, I'm just a hobbyist who flies thirteen hours to attend hammer-ins and see other guys' shops.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/30/06 22:46:53 EST


That helve hammer looked like a homemade, very light duty deal. All the real helve hammers I've seen used an eccentric pin on a flywhell with a connecting rod to the helve. The old tilt hammers used a simple cam, I believe, but they had pretty massive falling weight to do the job.

Even with a spring to boost that little hobby hammer, it wouldn't hit very hard, I don't think. The moment arm is too short to develop much velocity and the head is too light to do the job by weight alone. You have to have mass times velocity to yield force, and I don't see enough of either one on that hammer.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/30/06 22:51:03 EST

i'm making a 15 1/2" small texas bowie, out of an old lawn mower blade. and i'm wondering in leaving the holes in the middle of the blade with decrease the streng much?
Andrew B.

i make chainmail, from back in my medieval reenactment days. And i'm wondering in any of y'all are interested in trading some chainmail for any old tools or something?
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 11/30/06 22:51:18 EST

I agree, didn't look like too useful of a tool. However, the premise has promise. I've been searching for a method to pein texture my work without all the time consuming and arm cramping labor. Something along the lines of what's on ebay with more weight, a longer arm and the eccentric pin system might just fill the bill. Did that pin system to convert an old hand crank drill to being treadle operated one a while back and it ran just fine, got a bit tiresome though and I went to a flywheel, pully and motor.....works even finer now!! I also think a return spring would add to the effectiveness and power.
   Thumper - Thursday, 11/30/06 23:41:34 EST

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