WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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

This is an archive of posts from November 8 - 15, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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Hi Frank - apologies if i came across trying, whats the expression, trying to teach grandma to suck eggs or whatever, i misinterpreted your post as not knowing about induction hardening :)
   - Mike - Friday, 11/07/08 22:03:10 EST

Mike, "...trying to break Ol' Shep from suckin' eggs" is the way I heard it.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/07/08 22:47:35 EST

Antlers: Ray, I am not sure what you expect the end result to look like. Dear antlers are round, some goats and sheep square, moose have flat antlers. They are all much thicker than 1/4" except the mid sections of moose antlers.

To make full scale antlers start with a real set as a model. At the root they will be an inch or more in diameter and the main branch taper along its length to the end where the taper is a bit steeper and rounded to the point. I would make this part first remembering that a cone is 1/3 the volume of an equal length cylinder, so start with about 1/3 the length needed. To this I would add the branches. Each should start the same diameter as the point where they attach.

Attachment can be by various methods. They can be forge welded, or arc welded, or tenoned with the joint designed to blend in and be flush on the back (countersunk and upset to fill). This joint could also be forge welded to complete.

Antlers have texture and this should be applied to the various pieces before assembly and then touched up at the joints afterwards.

If your antlers are not full size then you need to do the math and scale everything as needed. Still at half scale the bar you start with may be 5/8" of 3/4".

IF you are intent to make them out of flat material you need to start with plate possibly as thin as 1/8" or #10. The branch layout should be 1.75 to twice as wide as the final parts. Then you will need a special 1/2 round bottom tool that is fairly narrow and with heavily rounded edges. A fuller tool would be used to push the plate into the die. Texturing would be done flat. Then the antlers rounded in the die. This would produce something approaching a hollow half round. Do do a smooth job you would need to make a number of fuller, set, stake and swaging tools to get into corners and support the work front and back. Texturing would be done flat then touched up like working for round.
   - guru - Friday, 11/07/08 23:51:30 EST


To figure out what you need to start with to make your 4" high antlers, I'd suggest you sort of "reverse engineer" them using modeling clay (plasticine). Make the antlers with the caly, adding as needed, until you get a finished product hat looks like what you want. Then try to carefully and methodically work the clay to a basic shape that is available, such as flat bar stock. The amountof fiddling you have to do to get it to the bar stock somewhat tells you how much work you'll have to do to take the bar stock to antlers. Now take the piece of clay "bar stock" and set about making the antlers from it using the same techniques you would if it were steel. That will help you develop a working plan for when you go to steel.

I do this sort of thing fairly often when trying out something new like that. I can try six or seven different processes or methods in just a few minutes this way, without wasting any stock or even much time.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/08/08 01:32:40 EST

If you're intent on splitting and drawing, one handy tool is a bridge, an anvil which accommodates a split. I made mine out of an axle necked down to a hardie shank. A couple inches above the hardie neck, I shouldered to draw out a flat surface for the anvil and support leg. You bend 90º away from the shoulder and bend again for the leg. One edge is sharpened and the other is radiused. Harden and temper. I use the bridge a lot on weinie fork tines and branding iron letters/characters.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/08/08 07:16:05 EST

The price of Gasoline in Houston is averaging about $1.91. If it is not that low in your state, thank your state govt. for adding extra taxes. By the way, most gasoline is sold from the refinery to independant distributors. The distributors then sell it to the retailers. Guess who sets the price?
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/08/08 08:26:17 EST

Thanks for the help! I'm not tring to make them full size.My intent is to put them on the top of a pair of wall hooks to hold a muzzel loader.I made them in clay first. but i made them "by hand". I should have used tools. I like the idea of the bridge. but i'm not sure I understand, is it like a candle bick thats bent horizontal and "sticks" off the side of the anvil?I'm going to try again
   ray - Saturday, 11/08/08 09:15:09 EST

Gas- I can see two refineries outside my window, about 5 miles away, and a third one, on a clear day, I can see the steam plume, 20 miles north. All three own their own gas stations around here- The Valero station is only ten minutes from the refinery, and I doubt there are too many middlemen in that ten miles. And yet, my gas is running $2.39. Of course, here in Washington, besides those high taxes, we refine pretty much all Alaska Crude. And as "Drill Baby" neglected to mention, Alaska Crude costs more to transport, and they dont just sell it at world prices- they charge for that luxurious trip it takes down that pipeline, into that tanker, and along the scenic inside passage.
At least, they sure charge me for it.
I have a buddy who captains a tugboat, escorting each and every tanker thru Prince William Sound. I am somewhat chagrined to say that I help pay his quite large salary every time I fill up, so at least I make a point of eating his excellent cooking and drinking his liquor whenever possible.
   - Ries - Saturday, 11/08/08 10:02:53 EST

After much headscratching, I propose, as the technical term for what Ken was describing, "Andiron Tray".
That is, for the frame, usually made from square bar on the diagonal, that holds the logs in your fireplace.
I used to make these things, and you would think after 50 or so, I would know what to call em- but I always sold em as complete sets, two andirons and a detachable tray, so I just called the whole thing "Andirons".

   - Ries - Saturday, 11/08/08 10:05:43 EST

Anvil Bridge:

Anvil bridge drawing by Jock Dempsey 11-08-08

Ray, above is what Frank is describing. The one on the anvil is the classic anvil bridge similar to what Frank described. These are an ancient tool and heavy duty versions are used on power hammers for open die work. The one behind it is a cheap modern alternative made from a piece of heavy walled structural tubing. Square or rectangular works.

The anvil bridge is used for working between legs of a split part or tines on a large fork or rake. You may want to thin and round the edges of the bridge section so that it fits in narrower spaces. I would make the cross section sort of eye or fish shape flatter on top with the belly down.

You can buy a modern version the Kaynes call an anvil Saddle. Look on BlacksmithsDepot.com under anvil tools.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/08 10:31:33 EST

Gas Prices: See Hammer-In

Ries, We always called what you are talking about a fireplace grate. Tons of the cheap one's made of 1/2" square are sold the bars turned on the diagonal.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/08 10:42:11 EST


I've often wondered about collusion and price fixing at the gasoline stations, how prices go up and down all over town at the same time. You go into town in the morning, and all stations have the same prices within a penny, usually. Do the distributors' prices change daily or every other day, and the retailers calculate by percentage? It doesn't seem likely. Do the retailers have a conference call in the middle of the night? ¿Quien sabe?

There used to be a guy in Portland, OR, called "The Bomber" who had a B-17 fuselage and wings blended insensibly into the roof of his gas station. He was always a few cents below everyone else in the city. That was nice, but he must've been in on the same collusion net, or else how did he know he could bomb everyone?
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/08/08 10:58:10 EST

Frank Turley

Bowling pins are still made of rock maple but with a very tough plastic shell that doesn't chip, spall, or peel easily. Should still make a dandy froe hammer or for anything else that needs a good whomp. Personally I use them for target practice since they last for most of the day even with rifles of larger calibers. Free from most local bowling alleys.
   Robert Cutting - Saturday, 11/08/08 14:38:42 EST

Ray, Antlers:
Ray this may help you or not but, I am doing some tree limbs from round bar stock and this is what I'm doing.
I'll draw out some stock and then flatten it out so that I can split out some limbs with a hot cut or a chisel.
Then I'll bend the limbs not being worked on out of the way and begin to heat and hammer with a cross pene or ball pene to round it up and make a nice bark like texture (on the smaller twigs) After I have shaped and textured the limbs the way I want I'll bend them as a real branch would be to give them some depth and life. I was realy inspired by the Guru's Iforge lesson on making leaves.
While this does work for me on smaller stuff I'm going to have to get a MIG welding head for my welder and do the larger pieces as an assembly and blend in the welds with a torch and hammer.
This is probably what others will suggest too but, I like the spliting technique for the smaller pieces like your antlers.
   - merl - Saturday, 11/08/08 15:31:15 EST

Thomas, can the magnetite snad be found near waco Texas
   - James Kryle - Saturday, 11/08/08 17:48:28 EST

Froe mallets, or as they are called in these parts Mauls, are traditionally made from a dog wood tree root ball or butt. Well seasoned they are hard dense and very tuff. Now I suspect that in Frank Turley's neck of the woods, (or is that non woods there?) there arn't many dogwoods.
   ptree - Saturday, 11/08/08 18:06:38 EST

Mesquite. . .?
   - guru - Saturday, 11/08/08 19:05:00 EST

Hmmm...I'd use lignum vitae for a froe mallet as I do for most of y other mallets, but we don't have any cedar to split for shingles down here.

To learn about gas pump prices and how they work, look up the term "rack rate" WRT refineries. The rack rae is the basis for all pricing and retail is usually priced forward against supply rather than backward against stock. Well, that's the way it works down here, with the largest refinery in North America right on my island. YMMV
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/08/08 19:50:11 EST

We don't have dogwood in New Mexico that I know of, but I might mention that a student gave me some, and I made hotwork mallets out of it. No flash, and it lasts a long time.

But ptree, may I remind you that in the mountains of New Mexico, we have large trees such as ponderosa pine, engelman spruce, and aspen. Down here where I live at 7,000 feet, the trees are piñon and juniper and they are small. People from back east call them bushes and shrubs, only 'cause they don't know better. There's not much hard wood in New Mexico, though.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/08/08 21:56:47 EST

Why not ask the experts at the local University, Baylor?
Department of Geology One Bear Place #97354 Waco, TX 76798-7354. Phone: 254 710- 2361 Fax: 254 710-2673. 4th Floor, Room D409 Baylor Sciences Building ...

   Thomas Powers - Saturday, 11/08/08 22:24:26 EST

Does anyone have a current e-mail addy or address for Bob Bergman in WI? I tried a switchboard.com search and none of the 28 seem to be appropriate. Seems like he is in a small town starting with Post... or Potts...
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/09/08 06:42:41 EST

OK, Google rules. Found it there. Lives in Postville but has a Blanchardville address.

If I'm not mistaken Bob builds the KA-75 hammer. A friend in the local area has one he primarily uses for die work. For example if her were making a flame effect on the end of a finial, after drawing out, it would be placed between a top and bottom die held in the KA-75 and shapped consistently in one blox.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/09/08 06:50:21 EST

Frank Turley, Of course I was teasing:) I know that New Mexico has bushes. I have actually been as far west as Colorado, at the four corners. They too had trees. In my part of the world, if you don't mow an area, it is covered in trees in a year, and in 20 years the pines are at about 40' tall, the populars close. The really tall, stout oaks grow thru that first canopy and are mature at about 100 years to 200 years. The dogwoods are always second or third canopy trees. Unfortunatly a anthranose(SP?) is killing the dogwoods. And a borer is starting on the ash trees.
I cut the dead dogwoods for mauls etc
   ptree - Sunday, 11/09/08 09:24:30 EST

Can someone help with how to make blacksmith wax?
   Jim - Sunday, 11/09/08 09:39:07 EST

We all as poetically in the moonlight. . .

Try purchasing Renaissance wax from one of our advertisers. It is much better than anything you can make.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/09/08 10:21:09 EST

The thing foks don't understand about the price of petroleum products is that they are a traded commodity like precious metals, not a staple like milk. For instance, I have a lot of silver I bought years ago at $6 an ounce. Think I'm gonna sell it for that if the going rate is $12? Plus, the retailers get less than 1% profit on gas. My dad owned a convenience-type country store for years, and hated dealing with the distributors and the hassle of gas pumps.

If you want someone to blame for commodities prices, look under "commodities broker." Pork futures, that sort of thing. It's gambling in a volatile marketplace, not manufacturing.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 11/09/08 10:37:36 EST

Is it possible to "mark" the place where one has read to in the list of postings. Very often I go several days before I get back to this forum and would like to pick up where I left off.
   Chris - Sunday, 11/09/08 12:51:26 EST

Can anyone advise on a good acid for etching damascus and where to get it in Helsinki, Finland?

While in the States I had used Muriatic acid or Ferric Cholide, but now I'm in Helsinki and am having trouble finding either.

   Rob Dobbs - Sunday, 11/09/08 13:36:06 EST

Tom Clark Passes:

Fellow Blacksmiths, it is with a great sadness that I announce the passing of Tom Clark. Tom passed on November 8th, after a prolonged battle with cancer.

I am told that there will not be a funeral. A memorial Service will be held later.

The blacksmithing community has lost a major player and a great supporter of the craft.
   - Kim Saliba - Sunday, 11/09/08 14:18:41 EST


Ferric chloride (FeCl) is comonly used as an etchant for printed curcuit boards. Here in the US, Radio Shack, a retailer of electronic hobby items, sells it. I would think there must be some Finnish analog of Radio Shack or, if hot, there should be someone etching circuit boards. Perhaps the university could direct you to someone.
   vicopper - Sunday, 11/09/08 18:06:53 EST

Tom Clark
The blacksmith Tradition has lost a great friend, and I have lost a personal friend. Should we set up a tolling of anvils?
   ptree - Sunday, 11/09/08 18:11:56 EST

I am sorry to hear of Tom Clark's death. Tom was a generous guy who gave very freely of his time and resources to make many blacksmithing events the successes they were, as well as teaching countless smiths, developing tools and tooling, and promoting the art and craft of blacksmithing wherever he went.

I am honored to have known Tom and I will miss him at QuadStates and other gatherings where we've met and talked many times. His generosity and energy, even in the face of his failing health, were an inspiration to many of us.

Resquiat in Pacem, Tom.
   vicopper - Sunday, 11/09/08 18:12:58 EST

TOM CLARK: The first time I saw Tom Clark was at the 1998 ABANA Conference in Asheville, NC. HE was in charge of Iron in the Hat and was wearing pink rabbit ears and a rabbit outfit to get attention. He sold a LOT of tickets for the cause.

The next two times I saw him was was at the AFC Tannehill Conference where he provided "The Hofi Anvil" and stand for demonstrations and won the Nail Making Contest both times.

Tom was the first to bring us Uri Hofi from Israel. For a number of years Tom brought Uri Hofi to the United States to teach at his school and to do demos at various conferences. Tom also arranged for the manufacture of the Hofi anvil.

Tom provided power hammers and brought his tools to sell and demonstrators to blacksmithing shows all across America. He was probably the most prolific show vender in the industry doing more shows and traveling the most every year to do them. Tom always wanted to be known for being the BEST at something. This is probably the one thing that no one will best him at.

Tom's last major event was at SOFA's Quadstate this past September where he provided a power hammer for the main demonstration area. Tom was a promoter who promoted himself, his school, Uri Hofi, Hofi Hammers, his Turkish air hammers and mostly BLACKSMITHING. He was a part of the texture of American blacksmithing for the past couple decades and will be missed.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/09/08 18:22:08 EST

I didn't see Tom at Quad-State 08 and wondered about that. As I understand it he had surgery for prostate (sp?) cancer - something all of us 'older' guys need to be concerned about. Read up on the symptoms and try to catch it early.

I had a BIL in WI die of colon cancer. By the time it was detected his doctor basically told him to get his affairs in order as there wasn't anything medically which could be done for it.

His School of the Ozarks near Potosi, MO has reportedly turned out some excellent students, particularly on powerhammer work.

I first met Tom at Quad-States and it turned out we had mutual friends in Potosi. I had arranged to purchase an airhammer built onto the frame of a 50-lb LG nearby. Had it on the back of a flatbed truck. Pulled into a hardware store in Potosi and soon afterwards in walked Tom. He had seen the hammer and was going to follow me until either I stopped or he could wave me over. He thought I might have been scrapping it. He invited a friend and I to his school, which was just getting started at that time. I believe, at the time, his major business was firewood, but I am pretty sure he was a surveror at one time. He was one of the one who turned the Missouri blacksmithing club's annual conference in a major event, particularly with the huge bonfire. A real ball of energy. I swear his wife looped a rope around him and spun him like a top each morning.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/10/08 08:42:08 EST

Guru, I like that bridge anvil alot, gonna make one ASAP!!! It's amazing how many times I use the heels of both my large and small anvils for that very reason(s). Can anyone tell me what "ductile" iron is, vs cast?
   Thumper - Monday, 11/10/08 21:21:09 EST

Thumper: Ductile Iron is a type of cast iron, also called Nodular Iron. It is somewhat ductile as the name implys, and extremely strong. It is used for auto engine crankshafts and other high strength castings. It is arc weldable. You could probably find more details on Wikapedia.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 11/10/08 22:02:10 EST

Prostate cancer seldom comes with symptoms, which is why it is so deadly. Men over 40 should get the dread DRE-- digital rectal exam-- annually and a blood test to check the PSA (prostate specific antigen) level. If you do not get these tests you are shooting dice with the Grim Reaper.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/10/08 22:52:34 EST

Ductile Iron is often substituted for steel but is not quite the same thing. Many auto parts that you might THINK are cast iron are ductile such as brake drums and rotors. The front wheel drive suspension knuckle where everything is connected is ductile iron.

Ductile is made by inoculating cast iron either in the ladle or in the mold (less common) with magnesium. The magnesium causes the carbon to collect and form graphite nodules in the iron. Since carbon has been taken out of solution in the iron it is reduced to something closer to mild to medium carbon steel.
   - guru - Monday, 11/10/08 23:26:28 EST

Bridge Anvil vs. Anvil Bridge: Please call the tool used on the anvil a bridge OR anvil bridge. A "bridge anvil" is a big ugly thing with arched legs generally made of cast or ductile iron. They are commonly found in oil fields and ship yards as large benches for bending and hammering. They often weigh 1,000 pounds or more.

Anvil tool photo from the May 99 anvilfire news Vol.13

There have been many types of specialty anvil tools made by smiths over the centuries. There are two tools in the photo above that can be used like a bridge but no bridge. The set above is made of cast steel and are copies old tools. Traditionally these would have all been forged by hand. We recently showed a couple of these made by Jack Brubaker in the current News (Edition 42, page 15). One was completely hand forged and the other forged and arc welded.

These are the kind of tools that you either make as you need or one day you sit down with a bunch of ideas, make sketches and then make a complete set. Anvil stake tools can range from sheet metal types like mushroom and hatchet stakes to fullers and scrolling tools. You show me a couple dozen ideas and I can show you just as many more. . . They can be made by 100% forging OR by fabrication such as the tools in our swages iForge demo by James Joyce. IF you have machine tools you can use any combination of methods to make them including chip removal and fine flame cutting. Then. . there are the ones above that were cast.

Anvil tools can have wood, brass, lead or plastic inserts as needed and some die types have bolt on cut off tools (hardies) made of hardened tool steel.
   - guru - Monday, 11/10/08 23:57:20 EST

Correction-- I shoulda said prostate cancer seldom comes with symptoms at the outset. After it has developed and spread unnoticed throughout the body there are symptoms galore. I have a friend in his late 60s, ironically enough a urologist, who did not check his PSA for four years. When he did get it checked, it was sky high and a bone scan revealed the cancer had metastasized throughout his body, from his legs, to his skull. He is now down to 80 pounds, constantly in hideous pain and sedated.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/11/08 00:01:52 EST

Beware that a lot of the stake anvils sold for tinsmithing and jewelry-making are cast iron and cannot withstand mighty blows such as could be delivered by macho blacksmiths.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/11/08 00:06:19 EST

CI stakes. . . Yep, that is why it is probably better to make your own. Many fancy form and mushroom stakes were made for silversmithing. I once had a wonderfully stream lined silversmiths or low brass bumping tool (double ended hand held dolly) that I used for autobody work. . for a short while. It was cast and popped at the stem. It had a round slightly crowned end and a slightly arched fuller shaped end. The middle was not quite as big as the ends and tapered to stems like nice planishing hammers do.

Low Brass: Good term for a specific type of metalworking. Sounds like a metallurgical term doesn't it. Anyone know?

Its the working of brass musical instruments, typically those that make "low" notes such as horns, saxophones and tubas. It is quite an art. AND you think you have trouble finding blacksmithing tools? HA! These folks use a few silversmiths and jewelers tools but make the majority of their special tools. Try drawing tapered brass tubing. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/11/08 00:42:59 EST

Special anvil tools.
A non-smith said to me once, "How hard could it be to make a branding iron?" I replied that to do it correctly and traditionally, it can be pretty tricky and time consuming. I have a collection of odd tools that I use for branding iron letters and characters. Our stamp stock is tapered in cross-section, so when bending that must be taken into consideration. I probably use my bridge and 'half-bridges' more than any other of my tools. I do use a my old two horned bickern for some of the work. Bending forks and hickies are often employed.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/11/08 07:29:33 EST

Ductile Iron: when I discovered my 100# TFS blacksmith anvil was ductile iron, I was a bit discouraged. None of the sites that sell these anvils actually say what the anvile is made of. They do say it is "Cast" leaving it to your imagination to think "Cast Steel". However, after several months of use, I have to say it is holding up very well. I also have an inexpensive hot cut hardy made from ductile iron and it is also holding up just fine. One of the peculiarities of ductile iron is that the effect of magnesium is only temporary. You have about 20 minutes to pour the iron after the Mg flare subsides. After that, the graphite will return to flake form and you have plain old grey iron. Most DI foundries have a timer and a horn to alert the ladleman when to stop pouring.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/11/08 08:57:06 EST

Lest we forget.
   JimG - Tuesday, 11/11/08 09:06:16 EST

My son Ben just had his beloved saxophone ruined by some fool who let a beginning apprentice use a snarling iron on the end of the tube where the mouthpiece fits, or rather, used to fit. The fool did not supervise and the apprentice did not notice that for every action there is a reaction and the snarling iron was striking not just where he wanted it to strike, but on the opposite side of the tube as well.... Result: a $5,000 mint horn now a beat-to-crap horn worth a fraction.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/11/08 11:24:17 EST

Dear guru,
Does anyone know how to take a Bufco hand blower apart? I searched the web and couldn't find any ideas. Or, can I buy a new one somewhere?
   John - Tuesday, 11/11/08 11:37:02 EST

Miles, Try these folks Michigan Musical Instrument Service
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/11/08 11:51:00 EST

re: Ductile iron - magnesium or magnesium/cerium compunds are used to nodularize the graphite. In the foundry I spent the beginning of this year at, pouring time from treatment in the ladle to finish pour was 10 minutes - ladle size was about 1200 lbs, varied a little with the parts being poured to maximize recovery. For QC, we checked a tab poured after the last casting. If microstruture (nodularity of the graphite) was questionable we started cutting castings - last, then next to last, etc. Typical alloying elements used to increase the strength of the product were copper or nickel.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 11/11/08 12:35:49 EST

I remember hearing about horns being repaired by using a large magnet and a steel ball. I just googled it:

   - Dave Leppo - Tuesday, 11/11/08 12:47:12 EST


I have taken several Bufco Buffalo Blowers apart and rebuildt them. They are pretty simile and straight forward. It is very important to put the fiber washers back in the same locations or the blower will bind.

New Buffalo Forge Co. Bufco blowers are no longer offered new as the blacksmith portion and manufacturing building has been defunct for years. All contents were sold off some years back.

You frequently can purchase used ones on ebay.
   - Rusystuff - Tuesday, 11/11/08 13:34:29 EST

Correction, I will only say "anvil bridge" from now on. Thanks for the info on ductile iron. I bought a tomahawk drift made of that stuff, and even though it was obviously cast (I had to clean it up), it mushrooms like mild steel when struck. Now it makes sense.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 11/11/08 13:43:44 EST

DI anvils. I believe these are 'heat treated' ductile iron. Just curious if the heat treating for them would be the same as for a cast steel anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/11/08 14:33:56 EST

Thank You Rusystuff, I'll remember to to note where the washers are.
Does the handle and the fan pull off with a wheel puller or should they just come off without much force? (The one tool I don't have at the moment)
   John - Tuesday, 11/11/08 15:10:42 EST

WOW, quenchcrack! all these years later I finely get an explanation for the periodic blairing horn from the Neenah Founry.
When I was a kid they used to pour ductile iron at Plant 1 down town and we would here the warning horn going off and assume it was something going wrong. Even when we would stand at the street entrence to the melt furnaces and watch them work we never made the conection between the horn going off to signal the ladle truck. We always thought it was ment to tell everyone to get out of the way as because the hot ladle truck was on its way back to the furnace. (man that magnesium flare was bright)
Just goes to show I'm never too thick to learn something.
   - merl - Tuesday, 11/11/08 17:39:47 EST

Jock-- thanks! This sax is my son's pride and joy and I suspect he is laying a foundation for a trip to Paris and the Selmer (think that's the brand) plant.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/11/08 17:58:08 EST

Hi John

You're very welcome

The paddle fan wheel typically pulls off with ease. Just loosen the set screw or remove it completely. The handle usually also pulls right off after removing the set screw. I have had these blowers that were rusted right up. I have soaked them for a few days in oil prior to tear down and used PB Blaster on them as well. On those rusted up ones I have used a dead blow hammer with the beebees in the head to tap the handle off. I used a couple of screw drivers on the paddle wheel on opposite sides giving slight pressure in the center to get it to release. If you do bend a paddle wheel a little you can bend it back gently with a plier as long as it isn't cracked already.

The Bufco blower is difficult to put oil in the little oiler hole up top and then it tends to run out since it is not a sealed unit. I would put just general axel bearing grease on all the shaft ends and gears. I didn't over do it. Just enough. It does quiet them down a little. The gear train in the Bufco blowers is always noisey. White greese would work good as well.

I hope this helps. I don't claim my ways are the right ways. I have just worked on a bunch of them.
   - Rusystuff - Tuesday, 11/11/08 20:08:56 EST

I'm working on a sample piece for a fairly straightforward ballustrade/railing job/commission. Somehow "commission" sounds better but I still have a hard time saying it with a straight face. At any rate, I have been struggling to make a " basket" type finial for the top of a very husky newell post. I have no problem with this element in a symmetric profile as in a handle, or in the middle of a spindle, but I am thinking of something in sort of an "onion" shape for this application. Rather like the shape at the top of turrents often seen on mosques... etc. Trying for a base diameter of four inches, and a height of six to seven inches. There has gotta be a trick for this! Thanks!!!
   wadco - Tuesday, 11/11/08 23:29:09 EST

Flame basket twist: Wadco, There is no easy way to make this. At the top the welds are parallel fagot style. At the bottom they all radiate from the center and make a flat base prior to being attached to the post (choose your method).

This takes many bars (16 to 20). They start with chisel tapers on one end and are fitted radially in a circle. This becomes one large forge weld. If the ends when flattened are allowed to become wider they can then be pushed down to fill and fit tight when welded with little or no reduction in thickness.

After the radial weld is made the bars are then bent around an up to make the top weld. When this many bars are used a filler bar is often used to fill the center. These are then welded and the bundle tapered leaving a ball end for a finial. Once welded the whole can be twisted to look like a basket twist.

The alternative is to weld the bars around a large filler that is the bottom shank, Bend them all at right angles outward then with a large radius reversing to parallel to the smaller top fill. Weld forge and twist as necessary.

My friend Josh Greenwood made spheres that were about 4" in diameter this way with twisted square 1/4" bar. At the bottom they blended into a 1" or larger shank and at the top was solid and flat where they all joined. A beautiful and difficult thing to make.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/12/08 01:16:00 EST

Thanks a lot Rusystuff, now I know I have a tough unit that I will soak.
   John - Wednesday, 11/12/08 08:50:25 EST

Wadco; make up a large one and cut off the bottom section and weld to post might be a method.

IIRC the old Popular Mechanics blacksmithing book from around 1913 had a whole section on doing these types of things I'll try to take a look at it tonight.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/12/08 11:51:01 EST

hey everyone,
does any one have information on Fulton Anvils? im looking into a 110# thats in my area for a pretty good price. is it cast iron or steel? any help would be greatly appreciated.
Oh, and ive been a lurker for a while so its nice to finaly talk to you all:)
   RoryT - Wednesday, 11/12/08 13:22:49 EST

I have a post vise that was in my dad's garage. I have it mounted on an old truck rim, bolted to a vertical support post. When I unscrew the jaws, they don't retract, I have to push the moveable jaw away, how can I fix this?
   ron - Wednesday, 11/12/08 13:23:57 EST

Rory, according to The Tome (Anvils in America), p.225, the Fulton is a cast steel anvil sold by Sears and Roebuck in the 1920s, actual maker unknown.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 11/12/08 14:23:32 EST

Post Vise: Ron, The jaws on a blacksmiths leg vise are spread by a leaf spring. See our FAQ's page article on Leg Vices.

The spring is held in place by the bench bracket just below the box (nut) on the fixed jaw. When the bracket is lost the spring is also lost. This is common due to vices being easy to remove from their bracket but the bracket often being riveted to the bench.

The spring can be mild steel, the width of the leg and about 1/4" thick. It is a slight S shape and pushes out toward the bottom of the movable jaw.

When there is no bench bracket you will need to make something to hold the spring. Two plates and two bolts to clamp it will work. So will a squared bent U-bolt and a plate. It could also be collared in place.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/12/08 14:36:00 EST

Thanks a lot

   ron - Wednesday, 11/12/08 17:19:55 EST

Ron.... If you go to "http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/vises.htm", you will find detailed descriptions of the post vice, including pictures of the spring you need to make.
   - djhammerd - Wednesday, 11/12/08 17:22:50 EST

Ken, austenitizing DI is generally 1550 to 1700F, oil quenching is preferred but simple shapes can be water quenched. Tempering is done immediately at 800F to 1200F to desired hardness.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/12/08 18:38:12 EST

Ron: sometimes the spring needs to be re-arc'd and also sometimes the joint where the movable leg attaches to the stationary leg needs to be taken apart, cleaned and greased.

Not knowing exactly what you have sort of hinders the guessing...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/12/08 19:00:56 EST

I have a Hay budden Anvil that is 117 lbs. It has the #87 stamped on opposite side. Serial #185807. Can you tell me what year this was made in?
   Sam - Wednesday, 11/12/08 22:26:45 EST



serial #185807 indicated your anvil was produced in 1911.
If the #85 is stamped on the near side of the anvil toward the heel it is the steel mill run number.

Info taken from Richard Postman's "More About Anvils"
   - Rustystuff - Thursday, 11/13/08 00:04:10 EST

Sam the current book is "Anvils In America". "More About Anvils" isn't out yet.
   - Rustystuff - Thursday, 11/13/08 00:06:09 EST

hi!im looking to get a fly press and i cant find one thats made in the us england ect.. the only ones for sale are from india.do you know where and what kind of press i could find used? who made the good ones back in the day? thanks anthony
   anthony petrolia - Thursday, 11/13/08 00:42:14 EST

Thanks Guru, and ThomasP...good suggestions...will report back

   wadco - Thursday, 11/13/08 00:49:11 EST

What is special about a habermann anvil?
   philip in china - Thursday, 11/13/08 02:26:08 EST


I have a Rathole anvil which is similar to the Habermann. However, the Rathole has an English style horn with a "belly" and the upsetting block is on the near side, when the horn is to your left. The Habermann anvil is stepless, and I miss the step as I use it as a vee block to forge curves and concavo-conves shapes. I don't particularly care for the extended table on the face, and I've yet to figure out its advantage.

On the plus side, the pyramidal horn is always good. When you need it, you need it. On small tong-held pieces which are flat on the face, the tongs don't get in the way of the anvil edge. You can also forge a fairly small, cornered, U shaped return on the end of a bar, whereas the thick English heel prevents this. The hardie hole placement is preferable to the ones on the London pattern anvil, because of the mass underneath it. For example, I've made hardie tools on my American Trenton by dropping in the shank and upsetting to get a decent shoulder. In using the sledge near the heel, you can tell that more effort is required than with a Continental anvil. The upsetting block is a good feature and adds a little weight to the base.

Now, did Alfred Habermann sanction the Old World design? I assume so but I don't know. It brings up the question: the anvil may like Alfred, but would Alfred like the anvil?
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/13/08 08:02:46 EST

Thanks for the info.
   Sam - Thursday, 11/13/08 08:43:53 EST

Habberman Anvil

Haberman anvil. . . Those sold by Angele overseas and those imported to the U.S. from Angele and sold by Blacksmiths Supply have the backing of Angele and their quality control. All I have seen were top quality castings while many of the cheaper Czech anvils are not nearly as pretty.

The Czech foundries sell a wide line of anvils including one they blatantly call a Peddinghaus which is a cast copy of a forged Peddinghaus. At least in this case the material and manufacture is MUCH lower quality than the true product. Its like buying a "Rolex" watch on the street for $25.

Almost any other manufacture would track down and pursue them on trademark infringement but Ridge Tool was never interested in being in the anvil business. They bought the Peddinghaus forge operation for the indestructible vises. For the past five years or so anvil production has been intermittent and every batch was to be the last. . .

The EuroAnvil design was from drawings of an old German anvil I gave Steve Fienstien plus his instructions and then the patterns made for one of the Czech foundries who modified the design further. It is considerably different than the beautiful old German anvil I provided drawings for. . .

RatHole Forge Anvil

The Rathole anvil Frank has is the prettiest anvil pattern in the last couple centuries. There is no reason for not having some art in a cast anvil. A beautiful artistic pattern costs very little more to make and ads nothing to the cost of the final product.

Smiths that get used to using the step for a lot of processes have a hard time with the flat line German style anvils. Rathole put the upsetting block on the wrong side because they wanted a fifth foot on the front. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 09:54:07 EST

Wadco "Hand Forging and Wrought-Iron Ornamental Work" Thomas F. Googerty, Popular Mechanics Publishers, 1911

Look at the area starting with pg 94 on "bulbs"

IIRC I have seen mention that this work is available off the net as a pdf.

This is a great book btw with a lot of nifty ornamental things I don't see much of in most other smithing books.

Anthony; where are you at? Tons of used flypresses out there, you may want to check out used machinery publications on the north east coast as many were once used in the clock and jewelry trades up there.

A friend of mine bought one in the midwest that had been in an auto manufacturer's factory (Hudson's as I recall). I got mine *CHEAP* from a factory tool room auction. Nobody wanted the old tech and I picked up a large flypress for US$50 (+15% buyer's reaming, and $35 to have it loaded on my truck by a pro----money *very* well spent!)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/13/08 10:45:30 EST

For the past few years I have been telling customers "no" when they asked for stainless steel cooking forks, turners etc. Now there are several that are quite persistant and offering to pay for the additional "trouble". I understand from some of the earlier postings that 300 stainless is a good forgable steel. Are there any "tricks" I need to know? I understand you can heat up to dull yellow, but be careful after that. Does it work like mild steel (just being careful with heats) and buff after forging? Is it that simple? What I have always heard is to forge stainless on your buddy's anvil (grin).
   - Nathan - Thursday, 11/13/08 11:45:04 EST

I forge stainless at least every week.
Mostly 304.
In most ways, its just like mild, except its harder.
I dont know about who told you "be careful after yellow", but that has not been my experience. Just the opposite, in fact. Try to work it too cold, and it will crack and crumble. Yellow is good, hot is good. As hot as you can get it, as it cools pretty quick.
Use bigger hammers, more force, heavier blows- it takes about a third more force to move it, even hot, than mild.
You need better drills, and saw blades, to work it.

I forge it, by hand and power hammer, and then I often sand it with blue, alumina zirconia flap discs cold, and then, I use a big 2hp 12" diameter stainless wire brush to clean it up. This can get it to a semi-shine, grayish color. Which lasts quite well- I have some big hooks out by my hot tub that got nothing more than wire brushing, outside, a mile from the salt water, for several years now, no rust.
If you want real shine, you need to electropolish, or at least acid treat. I send this out, I dont like acid in my shop, but some guys do it in house. Citrisurf, a citric acid, works and is the least toxic.

Also, beware that 304 stainless doesnt like the chlorides that are produced in a hot soapy dishwasher- and other alloys of stainless like it even less. Dishwashers will discolor, and even rust, stainless.

But really, its no big thing- buy some 304 round bar, and try it out. It wont bite.
   - Ries - Thursday, 11/13/08 12:52:12 EST

300 SS,
As Ries notes, hot is better. One needs to consider using only abrasives that are new, or are used only on SS. Same with wire brushes, otherwise you transfer plain steel to the SS and it will rust. I like to polish my anvil clean to remove any rust. The top of a polished anvil transfers less to take off to prevent rusting.
I have a Carpenter Technology book somewhere, and it mentions 40 to 50% greater force to forge than mild steel if I recall correctly.
For the best corrosion resistance to chlorides in water, and dishwashers use 316L. If welding use 316L and 316L rod for the best resistance to intergranular stress corrosion cracking. In hot acid service, we used 316L for the steam heat exchangers, and piping/valving. Outlasted 304 by about 10 times.

Be aware the welding SS generates Hexavalent chrome in the weld fume due to the very high temps. This stuff is fairly nasty, and causes skin irriation as well. If welding alot of SS, use extra good ventalation to protect yourself.
   ptree - Thursday, 11/13/08 13:45:25 EST

And there is a lower limit on forging stainless, 304 anyway...not below 1700ºF, which would be a bright red color just under orange. That means no cherry flavors.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/13/08 14:25:10 EST

AND Those SS welding fluxes contain flourite just like for forge welding. . . flourine compounds are also bad.

On small work I've done the polishing by hand just like for any other metal. I start with sandpaper and after 320 and a little 640 grit I go to the buffer. This requires special white compound which has little wax and does not stick well to the wheel. For "color" (that extra brightness) you can use tripoli but all it will do is slightly brighten a near perfect polish.

LAST: Due to all the expense, difficulties and extra time, anything stainless should cost at LEAST 4x (not including material).
   - guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 15:23:02 EST

Blacksmith Water: I had a call from a friend today that wanted to know what the special properties of slack tub or "blacksmith water" was supposed to be? Seems some folks drove 60 miles one way to get some from him. . .

We both agreed that you don't want to have much to do with it. Mine is full of killed bleach from keeping down mosquitoes, he commented on finding dead mice in his AND it was an old oil quench tank that was filled with rain water. . . yum yum.

Any one know of any folk cures using blacksmith water?
   - guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 15:28:04 EST

Got some SS on order. So just treat it like tool steel after polishing the anvil face. Sounds easy enough.
Many thanks on the advice!!!! Expecially x4 on pricing (grin).
you mentioned special white buffing compound. Is that different than the white "rouge" (not sure on spelling) purchased from the local welding shop in ingot shaped blocks used for a mirror polish? Or is the white buffing compound something from the automotive industry?
   - Nathan - Thursday, 11/13/08 16:50:26 EST


316 stainless steel is food grade. Not 303 or 304.

Wish I chimmed in before you ordered.
   - Rustystuff - Thursday, 11/13/08 16:56:29 EST

I read somewhere (probably the old KeenJunk site . . . unless it was here) that slack tub water was used to cure poison ivy.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 11/13/08 17:14:30 EST

It's a traditional folk cure for warts and probably works too as it's been shown that there is a very strong "belief" effect in curing warts.

I would wonder about anemia cures but would be very leary of the biological activity in most slack tubs.

The impact of hammering (making them flinch) and the steam from the slack tub is supposed to be good at drawing styes as well.

I use a bucket and dump it regularly, the mesquite tree by my shop needs to do a lot of growing to make good knife handles.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/13/08 17:21:34 EST

Rustystuff, I must beg to gently differ, as 304 is used extensively in food service equipement, as long as it is not welded or in hot grease/ animal fat applications.
   Ptree - Thursday, 11/13/08 18:02:37 EST

I know this is a friendly family fun forum, but Victor Vera told me that at their shop in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, "bad women" would come and get the water and use it as a douche "to keep from getting pregnant." ¡Ai yai yai!
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/13/08 19:13:47 EST

Blacksmith Depot Hammers: I recently ordered a set of hammers from Blacksmith Depot: a Czech and a Swedish for $35. With shipping it came to $48. The Swedish hammer head was mounted crooked, it leans to one side. The Czech hammer head is not hardened and marks easily. I cannot recommend these hammers.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/13/08 19:33:36 EST

Buffing Compounds:

Rouge is red and used for soft precious metals, paint and putting the brightest coloring on brass.

Tripoli is brown and used for general buffing, roughing precious metals and buffing copper alloys and brightening steel. It is also found in paint polishing compounds.

Black is emery and comes in various grit sizes. It is used for buffing steel and heavy cutting on other materials.

Green is either aluminium oxide or emery or some synthetic mix. Comes in various grades. Those above are natural abrasives identifiable by color. Synthetics cannot be classified the way natural abrasives are.

White is a special grade (aluminium oxide I think) for buffing stainless. Is a low wax buffing compound. The low wax is so it will work on abrasion resistant stainless but it also makes it hard to put and keep on a buffing wheel.

You can call white red but you will confuse the children.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 19:36:32 EST

Buffing Terms:

"Cutting", is actual smoothing and shaping with the buff. It is often done with the hard rope buffs at very high speed. It is generally not a good technique as you end up with poorly shaped often rippled work that is smooth and shiney. It is better to use other methods that make flat surfaces and crisp corners for high class work. But cutting has its place in industry. To see cut work look at any cheaply made item such as the REAL cheap swords that go from rough grinding directly to buffing.

"Coloring", is putting the polish on the polish. When working by hand it is done with the worn dust left over in a polishing rag (no compound visible). When working by machine very soft unsewn cotton buffs are used at low speeds with the finest light amount of rough on the wheel OR just what comes off the work from previous buffing.

Coloring works on all metals but is short lived on those than oxidize naturally. As the polish on the polish it takes a sharp eye to detect it on new work. Oiled steel will stay bright for a while brass holds up well but does oxidize. Gold is well, gold. . . Silver is almost too white if colored but large surfaces become a better mirror when buffed this perfect. Like buffing, coloring further reduces surface area and increases resistance to oxidation (stays shiny longer).
   - guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 19:53:19 EST

I learned from Tim Livley's site that nomalizing reduces the stress on the metal. Can you explain the process and how its done?
   - James Kryle - Thursday, 11/13/08 20:18:06 EST

James, normalizing involves heating the steel to a fully austenitic state, ususally 100 degees above the A3 temperature. That generally translates to 1650F-1750F, and air cooling. Re-austenitizing allows the ferrite and pearlite grains to re-form without the strain of cold working that occurs when steel is worked below the recrystalization temperature of about 1000F. By relieving the cold work stresses, the potential for distortion during heat treating is reduced.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 11/13/08 20:37:00 EST

Folk cures from the slack tub...
I'll have to check the PH off my slack tub water but, I suspect it is very acid concidering the amount of coal ash that falls into it and, that it is a galvinized, tire leak checking tub. If the water is mildly acidic it would probably have some "quasi medicinal" properties. Doesn't stop the cats from drinking from it though.
Speaking of slack tubs and the approching cold. My smithy is unheated, apart from brining out fresh (unfrozen) water every time, what might I add to the tub water to keep it from freezing but, not cause problems with quenching?
   - merl - Thursday, 11/13/08 23:14:59 EST

NaCl: Merl, You can add salt. That is about the only safe thing but that only gives you to about -6#&176;F (-21.1°C) with a saturated solution. Anti-freeze will kill your cats, dogs or whatever else might drink from the tub. In our area that is sufficient protection for the kinds of winters we've been having for the past decade.

Note that you will get a more intense quench AND the salt will lead to rust. But it will also be a safer home remedy for warts or whatever. . .

You can also heat the slack-tub with a stock tank heater but do not use it with salt. A GFI is recommended as well.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 23:42:01 EST


I have purchased a few swedish hammers from Blacksmith Depot. I think it was a fluke you got one with an improperly fitted handle. Send it back they will give you a replacement or just put a new handle in it.

Czech hammers that they sell for 10.00 are advertized as unfinished factory seconds. I have purchased three of those and modified them to my liking and then put hofi handles in them with the caulk. They are 1070 if I recall. They are drawn back a little soft. I like them like that. Missed blows you will not hurt the Czech anvil you have. You're anvil only has a 40 to 44 rockwell. It makes sense to me. You're ductile iron anvil probably has around a 46-48 rockwell. They are both soft and the hammer matches them nicely.
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 11/14/08 00:23:49 EST


The 304 stainless steel most assuredly is food grade - almost all stainless tableware and cookware is labeled "18/8 stainless", which is 304. 304L, the low-carbon version, is a bit better at resisting rust and slightly easier to forge.

316 stainless is generally considered "marine grade." It is tougher to forge than 304, more resistant to rusting, and higher strength. It has superior post-welding characteristics compared to 304. For welding on 304SS I generally use 309 rod or wire - it is sort of an "all-purpose" stainless filler that is dandy for sticking dissimilar steels, tool steels and other stuff that just tends to be a pain to weld. TIG is the method of choice for welding stainless, though stick and MIG work, too.

When forging stainless, work it hot. When you've finished forging and want to make it "stainless" again, you should solution anneal it to get the carbides back in solution. After the solution annealing it will resist rust pretty well, even without finishing, though you can certainly passivate it with a citric acid solution. As Ries noted, electropolishing takes care of the passivation and produces a nice surface.
   vicopper - Friday, 11/14/08 00:42:02 EST

Hi Ptree
Thank You for the correction on the stainless.
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 11/14/08 00:48:30 EST

Hammers. My response to you is ment to be don't feel bad. Just incase it doesn't come off that way.
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 11/14/08 00:51:42 EST

I have a pet turkey tom & hen. Both seem to prefer drinking out of the slack tub even over spring water. The hen likes to catch slag coming off item being worked on the anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/14/08 02:04:21 EST

I sell a fair number of whole hog BBQ spits. I occasionally get a request for a SS crossbar and skewers. I quote them back $500. Seems to end discussion on SS.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 11/14/08 02:07:05 EST

Thomas P,
Thanks for mentioning Googerty's Hand Forging book. I've printed it and will have it bound. I had an earlier Googerty book, but it was much abbreviated compared to this edition.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/14/08 06:19:41 EST

Rusty Stuff, I bought the Czech hammer assembled and there was no mention of it being a factory second. As for sending them back, well, putting another $10-$15 in shipping into a cheap hammer isn't going to make it any more useful. The DI TFS anvil is advertised at 52Rc. If the Czech anvil is soft, it sure hides it well. Of course, using nothing over a 3# hammer helps.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 11/14/08 08:36:29 EST

thanks for all the great advice!!!!!
as usual this is without a doubt one of the greatest reasources to blacksmithing in the past 50 years.
what do you mean by solution anneal? I just thought I was up on terminology. (sorry for my ignorance)
   - nathan - Friday, 11/14/08 08:56:44 EST

that's about what I have been doing, but it seems I am now getting into a crowd that will pay considerably extra for the SS. Thought it might be worth a try.
   - nathan - Friday, 11/14/08 09:00:04 EST

SS work prices: Consider this, Jewelers that produce stainless jewelery charge considerably more than for silver. The customer gets work nearly as bright that does not tarnish like silver does. Don't overlook mixed black oxide and bright stainless on the same part. Very striking.

For outdoor work the advantage is to the smith in that finishing to prevent rust is not a huge consideration. While bright stainless WILL grey over time and it CAN corrode it is infinitely slower than iron in the same situation. The piece will last as long as the art in it is appreciated. It is great for public work.

The problem with doing small stainless jobs is purchasing the materials and finishing equipment all special for working that one job in that metal. Welding rods, bolts, rivets and every small piece that you might otherwise pull from the scrap bin must be the same stainless. Every abrasive that comes in contact with it must not be used on carbon steels.

If you work enough stainless you will build up a scrap pile and have a stock of hardware to go with it.

While forging stainless is a little more difficult than mild steel the jobs that are MUCH more difficult are the general drilling, sawing and cutting. Stainless is slower to work and wears out cutting tools much faster than carbon steel. You cannot torch cut it or weld it like carbon steel. Setting up to MIG weld it is more expensive.

Price stainless work so that you make a profit but do not price yourself out of the market. It is also a good idea for every smith to make something in stainless so that they have a better feel for it before bidding a job.
   - guru - Friday, 11/14/08 11:31:21 EST

Natahn - solution anneal for 300 series stainless, heat to 1900 F and water quench (depending on size, a forced air cool might work as well) - puts carbides back into solution and makes the material dead soft. If you need to increase strength after a solution anneal, work the stainless cold a little bit. The austenitic grades work harden when cold worked.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 11/14/08 12:22:11 EST

Czech hammer- I too have one of the $20 hammers from B.D. While they are indeed soft for a hammer (and that's ok by me) they are harder than cold mild steel. What I was surprised by was how the handle was held on- a bead of silicon in the hole and some sort of soft epoxy poured into the top. I ground and rehandled mine as soon as it arrived and I'm glad I did so now there are some real wedges in there. Of course, what do you expect for $20? I guess you get what you pay for.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 11/14/08 12:47:45 EST


I am sorry to hear your hammer purchases didn't work out. I know the Kayne's are good people and certainly would not want you unhappy. Call them and talk to them. I understand it is not worth you sending the hammers back. Maybe they can send a call slip and have hammers picked up at their cost and charged to them. They may also tell you to just keep them and send better replacements to you. Blacksmith Depot is good to deal with. They can not always contol the quailty of items the get from manufacturers. It is important for them to get feedback. Then they can make things right with you and correct problems with vendors. They are just the middle man it is not their fault directly. Give them a chance to help you out. I would have been disappointed as well.

I like your old world anvil and really like the TFS anvils and the nice finish. They are good anvils. They are significantly softer than a vintage anvil. I know you use good hammer control and a reasonable size hammer not abusing your anvil, so they will hold up for decades of continuous use. I did give you the actual hardness range of your czech anvil...it is a known fact. I forgot the tfs anvils claim a hardness of rockwell 52c. May very well be true. My many years working with ductile iron I only have known it to reach a maximum of 48 rockwell c. I was just giving you the standard. They may add something in the mix that raises theirs in the heat treat.
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 11/14/08 12:53:48 EST

Frank; I have an original 1911 copy in mint condition a friend *gave* me. Before I was downsized in OH and had to move to NM I had started talking to Lindsay Technical Books about giving it to them to reprint; knowing that it would be un-bound and not return. The move disrupted that and now it's available off the web and so probably not worth re-printing.

As I mentioned before it has some neat ornamental stuff in it I haven't seen elsewhere and falls right into the "Do it Yourself" meme of the Arts and Crafts movement around that time.

As for slack tub water for "personal use" makes my skin crawl just to think of it! Of course in the "old days" when working striaght wrought iron lots of stuff was quenched as a matter of course and a tub might heat up to sterilization temps on a regular basis; but nowdays a lot of us floor quench instead and they can get fairly ripe.

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/14/08 12:57:11 EST

Blacksmith Depot Hammers: I posted my complaint on the Blacksmith Depot site yesterday and got an email from Mr. Kayne today. He offered me a $50 gift certificate. It is a gracious offer but I only asked that the defective BD Swedish Hammer be replaced. I could not ask for more than that. It is refreshing to find a merchant that will admit to a problem and promptly address it as generously as Mr. Kayne did.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 11/14/08 14:02:24 EST

Googerty: I just looked for the googerty book on Bookfinder. . $80 to $120. But then I looked on Google and realized that it looked awful familiar. There it is on my shelf, cover a bit water stained. I believe I paid $50 for it at QuadState a few years ago. It was one of those I had thought about either scanning and selling CD's or putting on-line.

I have a couple old books that I think the way to profit on them is to update them. Include photos of modern tools and machinery doing what the book describes or illustrates poorly. Use real examples of work. . . Put them in a modern context to show how little some aspects of blacksmithing have changed OR progressed.

Hmmm. . . sounds a little like writing a book from scratch. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/14/08 14:55:44 EST

thanks again
   - nathan - Friday, 11/14/08 15:51:48 EST

Blacksmith Depot Hammers: just got an email from Kayne and they have decided not to replace the hammer as I requested. The will refund my money. Whatever.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 11/14/08 15:59:07 EST

The Googerty book, I am pretty sure, is downloadable free from the website maintained by whatever COSIRA is calling itself these days. Google it. I am at my son's computer, without my list of "favorites," in Cheyenne, where I am paying for sins in what must have been a colorful previous lifetime, babysitting our rascal grandson Stanley, who is 5 going on 19, and where we got 5 inches or so of snow last night but it has melted off the main streets and the temps are to be in the 60s by Sunday.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/14/08 17:24:31 EST

Looks like Lindsay went ahead and found their own copy and republished it---abebooks.com has a couple of the reprints for under $10 and 3 or 4 of the originals for under $80.

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/14/08 17:53:14 EST

Norm Larson Books (if he's still around) sells a photocopy version of the Googerty book. Copy quality is very good.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 11/14/08 17:57:20 EST

Norm Larson is an age mate; gettin' up there. I saw him at the 2006 Seattle conference, and he appeared to be OK. He said that he doesn't care to fiddle with the e-mails, because he's out in the country near Lompoc, and his internet response appears to be riding on molasses. USPS and telephone should reach him.

For those of you who didn't see my note above, I DID print the Googerty book via Google and had it spiral bound today at Kinko's.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/14/08 18:20:53 EST

I've got about thirty 5/16 x 3" pcs to bend and peen. I have a coal forge and they're too small to manipulate in the fire. I've got a small propane torch, a small Mapp gas torch and a acetylen/oxygen torch. The propane takes the longest a just barely gets them hot enough. The Mapp gas is a little quicker but more expensive and a little slow. The acetlyen/oxygen is definetly the quickest. But is it the most economical = BTU to $ ? Is there a way or a formula to figure heat to dollars? Any info is appreciated.
   Ray - Friday, 11/14/08 19:04:30 EST

Mr Turley, I ask aboout making antlers and one of your suggestions was to use an anvil bridge. I'm in the process of making a "square" one with a 1/2" round and I think it will work. I think drawing out the second and third tines will be the most challenging. Anyway, thank you very much for the help!
   Ray - Friday, 11/14/08 19:10:28 EST

Slack tub water-
I saw a show on the History channel about some archeological find involving a smith or a smithy. The host made some possible argument for the blacksmith shop as a magical place of healing: due to the iron content in the water it would supposedly help skin diseases, and one could conveniently have their infected wounds cauterized as well.

I will say sea water has helped poison ivy dry up.

Would a fly press work to make a 1/8 inch deep indent about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide in 300 series stainless?
   Josh S - Friday, 11/14/08 20:01:12 EST

Ray, Good luck. Try to avoid half face blows at the vanishing point, the base of the cut, or you'll wind up with a small, unintentional, stepped gaps there. You want that to be a smooth join.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/14/08 20:05:14 EST

Josh how large a flypress? Currently the answer is Yes and No.

Ray a propane forge will be a much more efficient use than a torch. Look into "bean can forge" or "mini forge".

   Thomas P - Friday, 11/14/08 20:21:53 EST

Ray- Make smaller tongs, or tongs with longer/thinner bits. I make a lot of mini handles for a local cabinetmaker out of 3/16 round x2" and my tongs for that job are about 8"long. You can also put a disposable sheet metal bowl in the bottom of a bird's nest shaped fire and put small items in the bowl. Takes longer to heat up, doesn't get quite as hot, but you can put a whole pile of stuff in the bowl at once and nothing falls into the ash dump unless you burn out the bottom of the bowl.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 11/14/08 21:12:47 EST

Flypress: Josh, Hot or cold? Manual or power? Cold a manual flypress will not. Hot a medium/large manual press probably would. Hot or cold most power presses are big enough to make that impression. But it is a a large surface and you have not described it or the size press you are looking at.

Micro Forges Ray, Enclosed is always more efficient than open. Acetylene is the most expensive and will occasionally melt a piece but is FAST.

It helps a LOT to have tongs that fit small work. I made special "hook" tongs for handling 1/4" square and get tremondous efficiency over regular tongs.
   - guru - Friday, 11/14/08 21:14:37 EST

i have two ideas i was wondering if they'd work for someone getting there feet wet in blade smithing, they are, taking a piece of 11 inch rail road rail and cutting of the webbing, which i did already did, and welding a foot and a half long by two inches wide by quarter inch wide piece of bar stock to it for a stake anvil, the seccond thing i was wondering if it work was if i took a base of a portable charcoal grill and attached a moon walk inflator to it for air with a t connector with a piece of black pipe on both sides in the grill filled with holes and kept in place by lineing the grill with fire clay or cement and then putting a spacer on top and adding 6 to 7 inches of coal from the tracks over it it sounds basic and primative to do it this way but i want to know somone elses opinion about this before i do it and find ive waisted my time, i kill myself because my art teacher was giving away a kiln and i didnt know about it so he trew it out. i could of used it for tempering!!! :< also about the anvil i'm working on getting a real one but i want to know if what i said could work for now. my school pisses me off, it had a smithing coarse but they got rid of it for the weight room, this means for five or six years all these perfect english made stake anvils, a forge and a once was nice but is now about to see its last use vulcan anvil made of wrought and a tool seel face aswell as others i'm sure are stored away, are being put to waiste and collecting dust. i luckily got the 9 pairs of tongs for a bike i found at the dump. when i asked my wood shop teacher if i could buy or do something for the anvil i got the "its school property i cant sell it to you dont even ask the office" response, i think he wants them for himself to be honest. what do you think i should do to get this anvil? i appreaciate it
   mat - Friday, 11/14/08 23:05:05 EST

Forge from Grill, Tools from State: Mat, The problem with most charcoal grills is they are very light sheet metal. They do not have a long life as a grill and even shorter as a forge. Rust and heat are both a problem. Rust is severe if coal is used due the the sulfur compounds (even in lo w sulfur coal) that form acids that eat steel. Clay insulation helps but traps moisture and rust is still a problem. All that said, yes it will work, just don't invest a lot into it. Consider it temporary.

See our brake drum forge article for a much better tuyeer design. If you are using charcoal a side blast (just a pipe pointed at the side of the fire) is satisfactory. The end of the pipe may get hot and burn off but it is cheap. Be sure not to use galvanized pipe.

The inflator fan should work. Use a long enough (at least 2 feet) of pipe to keep it away from the heat. A piece of sheet metal between the forge and any plastic parts makes a good heat shield.

I am not clear on your stake anvil. Are you saying you used a piece of 1/4" inch thick plate or bar for the stake? It should be heavier but would work if the anvil body is bedded into the wood (has good contact and support and the plate is gripped by the wood such as having a split base bolted from the sides. Take a look at our anvil making articles, specifically Anvils from RR-Rail.

Public owned property is public owned property. The teacher can lose his job or end up in jail for ending up with tools from the school shop. It is a huge risk for very little gain. Even if something owned by the state is disposed of by auction public employees are not permitted to bid. YOU could but your teacher could not.

Getting rid of excess equipment starts with the school board who directs the principal who asks the teachers to submit a list which then goes to somebody in the administration to arrange a public sale (which is usually poorly advertised). You can ask to be put on the list to be notified of city/locality auctions. But these are often handled differently every time through whoever got stuck with the job this year.

Most of those stakes are probably sheet metal working stakes, not blacksmithing. Lots of school shops had significant collections of Pexto or Niagra sheet metal tools. They are great for some armour smithing.

Kilns are only good for tempering in large batches. You can easily spend $20-$30 on fuel getting a small one up to tempering temperature and over $50 to hardening or ceramic firing temperature.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/15/08 00:33:19 EST

thank you for the quick resonce, i never thouht about the school thing that way. i did mean to say 1/4 inch thick i got the idea from your article. these ideas are temporary until i can get proper money for real smithing tools. once again thank you.
   mat - Saturday, 11/15/08 10:27:08 EST

1/4 inch bar iforgot to say
   mat - Saturday, 11/15/08 10:29:11 EST

A moon walk inflator would probably blow the coal out of a forge, if not the lining as well. At least if you're thinking of the moon walks that kids go inside and bounce around on.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 11/15/08 10:52:22 EST

yeah i already thought of that. i will probably attach a speed control to it. it was for a water slide thing origonaly. it has a metal fan on it and a metal side cover where the fan is. its pretty much a regular electric blower. also even without speed conrol the tiny air holes sprung about the t conector set up i have most likely will not let too much air in the forge. where there is a will there is a way.
   mat - Saturday, 11/15/08 11:44:10 EST

A valve (xliding or butterfly) in the pipe is often better than a speed control. Speed controls work on very small low power motors or must be special speed controls. They also tend to creep and if you need to turn down the air flow by more than 75% then they are hard on the motor and do not last long themselves.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/15/08 12:09:42 EST

SLIDING or butterfly. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/15/08 12:37:16 EST

Anyone have any idea what type of steel railroad rail is made of? I have a section of rail and thought it may be usefull as top and bottom dies for a power hammer.
   Harley - Saturday, 11/15/08 15:37:29 EST

Making Gimlets, Augers and Center Bits - What written resources do you recommend that describe how these were made? In particular, before the invention of the relatively modern cast steel varieties, were such bits typically made of plain wrought iron and just case hardened, or were they made from higher carbon steel in some manner? Thanks, John
   John L. - Saturday, 11/15/08 15:40:49 EST

Is it possible to "mark" the place where one has read to in the list of postings. Very often I go several days before I get back to this forum and would like to pick up where I left off.
   Chris - Saturday, 11/15/08 17:26:27 EST

Harley, RR track is made of high carbon steel, but through use, it gets work hardened in odd ways, the balloon and web especially. Would you be removing the web and base? Then there is the matter of shaping them to fit your hammer. If annealed to machine, they must be hardened and tempered again. We might need more info.

John L. My answer must be conjectural, because I don't know exactly when the gimlet and auger were invented. I know they were around in the late 1800's. I would guess that even before cast steel, when our forefathers used blister or shear steel, that steel would have been used, not case hardened wrought iron. The case is so thin on iron that it would soon wear through. Also, iron is relatively weak, especially when torque is involved. In particular, iron augers, whether the flat wrapped or twisted style, would collapse, warp, or over-twist when pressure was applied. I feel the same way about lead screws, which on hand made tools, were each filed individually, no two being alike (in the 1700's). Even a case hardened and quenched iron lead screw might bend or break under pressure.

Just my thoughts. Others may chime in with more concrete information.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/15/08 17:42:03 EST

RR-rail: See our Junkyard steel FAQ and iForge on tools from RR-rail.

Cutting Tools: I agree with most of Frank's comments. However, I suspect the heavier spoon bits used for wood were steeled but I have never inspected an ancient one to be sure. Smiths as recently as the early 1800's used steel very judiciously. Headers from that era and earlier had thin faces about 3/16" thick on the working ends. But tools like a gimlet where it is a veritable needle of steel would not need to be steeled to save that valuable product.

While steel was quite expensive it WAS used for certain tools in their entirety. File and file cutter's chisels for one. However, it was common at one time to recycle files by grinding off the teeth. annealing, recutting and hardening again.

Tool designs such as the twist auger and twist drill bit came after plentiful steel and methods to work it.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/15/08 18:09:59 EST

Moxon's Mechanick Exercises; published in 1703, written slightly earlier mentions that drills for iron should be made of the best steel anbd shows an example of a bow drill for drilling iron. It has a diamond shaped point. (180 years later this type of point for drilling steel is still in use per Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing as a smith can make his own quickly as needed even though the twist drill had been invented by then IIRC)

For woodworking he shows gimlet (gimblet) and brace and spoon bit (piercer) and Auger (augre) with a spoon bit but doesn't discuss their metallurgy; unlike for saws where he goes into detail about steel saws vs hammer hardened iron saws! (he says to choose a steel saw!)

   Thomas Powers - Saturday, 11/15/08 23:18:41 EST

Hi, I've got some smoke draft and chimney questions. My forge chimney draws fairly well. It is similar in design to the side draft forge design in your plan file. However after venting out the oil furnace smoke and the forge smoke I've come to realize I'm creating to much negative air pressure in my shop. More air pressure would probably improve the chimney drafts. Sure I could just open the door. But its cold here in central Canada during the winter. I'm thinking of digging 300' of air vent 10' deep in the ground and drawing in outside air through the warm earth to heat the air and add a bit postive air pressure to my shop. Sort of a poor man's geothermal system. So before I hire backhoe I need advice from you guys. Do you know anyone who has tried this? Will it work? I'm open to all your insight. Mabey you could recommend a good book?
Thanks for your time.
   Dan - Saturday, 11/15/08 23:31:15 EST

Gimlets and Augers, cont'd: Hi again. Thanks for your initial reflections. My understanding is that the auger has been around since the ancient Roman era, and that both the auger and the brace and bit were extensively used in shipbuilding and timber frame construction from at least medieval times. Does someone know of documented evidence of the type of iron or steel used in such tooling from any period since antiquity? Certainly the physical evidence must be slight, but to the extent that any exists, what have folk who have examined it had to say about it? How and where were those bits, augers, gimlets made, and from what type of material? These are the questions that pique my interest.

As you can see, this is more of an academic question, but it is based on my limited smithing experience with modern mild steel. If the ancients had the rough equivalent of our mild steel to work with then they must have labored unduly hard to drill holes in anything, because that mild steel, no matter what I do to it, won't hold an edge for long, no way, no how. It just ain't worth the trouble. Thus my practical question: the ancients surely didn't want to work any harder than necessary, so how did they maximize the labor saving capacity of their tooling, considering that the tools have been around for so long?
   John L. - Saturday, 11/15/08 23:33:32 EST

Steeling: John, The first ancients to use wrought or slightly harder steel were also using bronze tools of the same basic patterns. Much of the Ancient Greek culture was during the crossover period.

I do not have my copy of the Mästermyer Find (still moving the library.) There were numerous tools of the type being discussed from roughly 1000 AD. I do not know if the reference tells or if the images are good enough to tell.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/16/08 00:13:11 EST

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