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 16 - 21, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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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

Earth Heat Sink: First, the solution to the forge is much less expensive than the 300 feet of trench and pipe. Run a cold air vent to the edge of the forge. This will reduce the amount of air being exchanged. Fireplaces should be done the same. However, I would not feed the blower cold air as it lowers the forge temperature in really cold weather.

I am sure there are some references on underground heat sinks. However, thermal conductivity, surface area, local sub siol conditions. . . all go into the problem. Sure, it will warm the air. But will it pay back its cost in 10, 20 or 50 years. . .

Artificial Cavern: One of my fantasy architectural plans was to build a cavern along side the house in a hillside for the same purpose (a heat sink). Somewhere in the house a secret door would open into it. In order to get fair efficiency it would need to be somewhat of a labyrinth. As a fantasy plan it was to be made to look like a limestone cavern with stalactites and stalagmites, flowstone stairways, secret rooms and a pond. The exterior openings would be in a private garden with gates and a door. Many small screened openings could be used to prevent unwanted life forms from taking up residence. Part of the fantasy is to make a place to take kids on an adventure camping in a cave. . .

To build it you start with molds for a variety of sizes and proportions of stalagmites (they can be reversed as needed). They would have steel rebar in them to anchor securely to the walls and ceiling. Various parts are made prior to the cavern.

Next, footings, foundations and floors are poured and sculpted by hand according to plan. Large rocks placed if available and in the budget. Then, damp sand is heaped in tunnel shapes and covered with plastic sheeting. Stalactites are pushed into the sand or the sand molded around them. Rebar and wire mesh is placed with the stalactite anchors being attached. Then concrete is placed (or sprayed like ferro-concrete structures). Large rooms and hallways would be formed with wood and covered with mounded sand. When complete (or a level is complete), the sand and forms are removed from the inside by hand.

The stalactites and stalagmites increase surface area and their rebar helps conduct the heat. Air inlets could use the long winding path theory to pick up more warmth. . . Any place too close to the surface would be heavily insulated with foam.

AND on top of everything else it makes a nifty secret back door or escape route. . . hey, I said it was a fantasy design. Add some big cisterns with solar heated water and there you go. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/16/08 00:45:57 EST

Another protected "intake" is to use and old fashioned well with a cover. Its common to have a steel grate over them to keep things or people out. The protective roof keeps extra water and leaves out.

I've got some great underground house plans as well. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/16/08 00:52:34 EST

Am giving some blacksmithing lessons to a local guy. He bought a vise by. As soon as he mentioned chain driven jaws I was pretty sure it was a FISHER. Couldn't find FISHER name on it, but has 1919 inside one jaw. Missing leg. At first it looked like it broke off, but the broken area is hollow and threaded. We tried standard 3/4" water pipe and it wouldn't thread in. Any suggestions for how a leg might be put back on it. Pretty massive vise.

Guy is a natural (quick learner).
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/16/08 05:00:38 EST

Ken, First, Measure the thread. If not a pipe thread then it would probably be a standard NC thread. It could have had a solid leg, structural tubing or pipe with a machine thread.

Start with a thread guage and determine the Threads {per Inch (assuming English). Measure inside the threads. This will give you close to the root diameter. Then look in any thread reference such as Machinery's Handbook for the thread.

Of the thread is standard then you should be able to buy a bolt with that thread and use it for a stub for making the leg. OR it could be put on a pice by a machine shop.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/16/08 07:23:20 EST

Dan, Earth heat sinks do work. There are several considerations however.
1. If you intend to use this system in the summer to cool the shop, the warm air will condense out water when it cools and the water is a bacteria growing medium. Corrugated pipe is also high drag causing more resistance to air flow.
2. From my research 20 years ago or so, instead of 300' of small diametr pipe you want a much shorter loop of big pipe. You need a low enough velocity to let heat transfer occur. I believe that for a cooling loop for summer in my area, Southern Indiana, USA, it was considered tha 18" or 24" was a good size, using smoothwall pipe, and I think the lenght was 50 to 75' per loop. The thought was if more cooling was needed one ran more loops. There was mention of air heating from fan pumping if the loop was too small as well. In our region with high summer humidity, one was cautioned to use a laser trencher, smooth pipe and a sump pump to remove the high condensate loads. If the condensate was allowed to lay in the pipe, legionella could grow and was a siginificant threat.
In your winter heating the air, I don't think legionella is much threat.
Let us know how ths works out.
   ptree - Sunday, 11/16/08 08:18:44 EST

Ken- I have a Fisher chain drive vice. Mine's marked as a #4, 6.25" wide jaws. The leg is 15/16" dia., looks original. Hope this helps.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 11/16/08 11:37:17 EST

John L; have you considered the burning iron to predrill a hole that gets cleaned up with a spoon bit?

The ones I have seen look rather like a modern 4 sided reamer with a t handle. Heat and power it down in the wood while twisting.

I'll check further in my library but I think the auger with the twisted vanes is "modern" and earlier versions tended towards the spoon bit even with the "auger" type handle.

I have a history of woodworking tools I can dig through that showsa drawings of the evolution of the tools by century.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 11/16/08 11:53:01 EST

Hey guru,
is there any way i can send you an email, i need your opinion on the make of an anvil.

   Cameron - Sunday, 11/16/08 15:46:55 EST

Hi Cameron

Send a photo to Ken Scharabok. He is our resident anvil expert. His email is: scharabo@aol.com
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 11/16/08 15:53:24 EST

Cameron: If you can make out any of the logo (usually on side with horn to right) do the flour trick. Lay on side and dust with flour. Brush off excess. Sometimes this makes lettering/numbers stand out. Also check front foot.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/16/08 16:27:18 EST

Email: Click on any of the underlined names. IF you have a properly configured email client then it should open with my address.

But as Ken pointed out you REALLY need to look at the anvil close. Roll it over, dust off the dirt, do a rubbing.

However, in the end there are MANY unidentifiable anvils. It makes them no less valuable as a tool. Yes, it is nice to know its history. But with time the questions may answer themselves.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/16/08 18:00:39 EST

Thom P. - Burning Iron: I had not thought of that even though I knew of the tool's existence. That'll give me something to try over the next couple of weekends...

I would be interested to know more about what you can find about the augers from your library.

Thanks, John
   John L. - Sunday, 11/16/08 18:47:35 EST

Iron, Augers and Mastermyr: So I've been doing some googling about Mastermyr and have seen the ABANA pages. Great work, you guys! I'd love to see more complete photos of your work, though. The site is still "under construction" some few years later.

But, more to my original point of inquiry, I found a document on a Swedish web site that describes how two Swedish smiths replicated one of the Mastermyr files in charcoal-forge-made steel. Here's a link to their document (in English).


I don't have the Mastermyr book but I'm going to try to buy one. What do you guys think of their findings?
   John L. - Sunday, 11/16/08 18:58:02 EST

John, It has been a LONG time since I read it and as I noted my copy is in a drawer 3 hours from here. . .

The amazing thing about the Mastermyer find is the similarity of many tools to their modern counterparts.

The disappointing thing, like so many such collections is that it is incomplete. Just a couple more tools and you would have a complete representation of a kit of the period.

   - guru - Sunday, 11/16/08 20:24:11 EST

Hey , i have only got a picture of it, i;m wondering whether or not to buy it,
its a few hours away from me, its 346 pounds and apparently"looks like a mousehole" thought i wouldnt know
   cameron - Sunday, 11/16/08 20:54:47 EST

Dan, another solution to Your winter heat loss issues is an air to air heat exchanger to scavenge heat from the flue and warm the incoming air. You can buy these new, but a cheap solution is to cobble one from an old hot air furnace. Another aproach is to put a larger stove pipe around the flue pipe that is inside the building, the gap between the pipes is open to the outside air at the top and to the inside of the building close to the fire at the bottom.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 11/16/08 21:06:48 EST

John L.
I'm looking through a heavy, French, 480 page picture book, Le Livre de L'Outil" (The Book of Tools) which is divided into chapters, each covering a particular artisan's work. In the carpenter's chapter, one gimlet is shown, 63 cm in length. Two gouges are pictured, 39 and 53 cm in length. All have similar wooden handles, making the entire tool T-shaped. The two gouges look to have cutting bits perhaps 5 to 7 cm long. Dates are not given, but the photographed tools and early engravings appear to be from the 17th through the 19th century. The metals used in the forgings of these three tools is not given. I found no braces in this book.

In the chapter on cooperage, photographed on one page are four bung hole conical rasps of different diameters. The largest with wooden handle, is 44 x 46 cm. Again, the upper portion of these tools is attached to the handle center, giving an overall T-shape. I assume that these are all steel tools, because the raised teeth are small and neatly arranged. For those interested, Miles Undercut sent me a web address for fine, hand made rasps. The method of raising teeth is called stitching, and the French rasps are available in 15 grain sizes, from super coarse to super fine. http://www.forge-de-saint-juery.com/index.html.

One the same page is a conical gouge with a point which may or may not be a lead screw. A center bit is pictured, 24.5 x 29 cm.

I'll still be looking, since you've piqued my curiosity.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/16/08 22:42:02 EST

Good Lord. Sometimes things are over complicated. Now if the anvil was on ebay some folks would trip over themselves to tell a seller who isn't asking what it is.

Cameron I will send you my email address. You can email me a photo and I will give it an educated guess as to the anvil make.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 00:03:34 EST


I reviewed a photo of the Anvil. He was told it was Russian or a Mouse Hole. He wonders what is a fair price and what I would pay.

It is an Old English pattern anvil. It is not Russian or a Mouse Hole. It is very possible it is a pre 1853 Peter Wright or a Wilkinson by the foot and horn design. Then again there are a few dozen other Old English Anvils it looks like. It could be another maker. It is in nice condition and a good weight at 345 lb. Anything under 1000.00 is a great price for that anvil. I would probably be willing to spend 800.00 for it without batting an eye. I hope this helped some.

I am not an Anvil expert and have only bought and sold a little over 100 anvils, but did my best to identify it with Mr. Postman's book.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 02:09:07 EST


450.00 Canadian...good buy. Leaves plenty of room for him to afford the cost of freight. Heavy enough and in good enough condition to serve his needs for his entire life. I hope it works out for him.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 02:30:52 EST

"I am not an Anvil expert and have only bought and sold a little over 100 anvils, but did my best to identify it with Mr. Postman's book."

Postman's "Anvil in America" was the best he could do at the time. Published ten years ago now. He has continued to research since then and hopefully "More on Anvils" will be published within the next year.

From my understanding much of U.S. brands will be refinements, such as additional client logos put on by CF&I and Hay-Budden. Major change will be in the addition of a number more English anvil manufacturers.

An examples:

After he thought the American Star anvil brand had stopped being produced he saw ads which had Star and Fisher listed. He thought Fisher might have bought out American Star. Now it appears Fisher themselves produced a lower-ender anvil with a six-pointed star on it.

In AIA he thought Henry Ring may have left Hay-Budden and started the American Wrought Anvil Co. in Brooklyn, Further information indicates a DUNN & MURCOTT were in (minor) competition to H-B and themselves changed the name of the company.

(While Henry Ring was listed as Secretary/Treasurer of H-B, research since then shows he came from a quite well-to-do family and did well on his own in real estate investments.)

Under Fisher & Norris, he thought Harriett Fisher was Clark Fisher's daughter. Turns out it was his much younger wife. Clark died as the result of a train accident a couple of years after they were married. Harriett went on to run Fisher & Norris, making her perhaps the first woman owned/operated industrial plant in the U.S. She was also one of the first women automobile drivers. Equally at home on the shop floor or hosting VIPs, her nickname became "The Iron Maiden".
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 11/17/08 05:30:40 EST

Minutia, minutia. . .

Does is matter to the quality of the anvil? The fact is there were not a few dozen more but hundreds of English manufacturers. Most of whom did not mark their name on their product. Then there was at least as many more Continental makers. . . none of whom there is any history. Sure I'd love to know who made my beautiful stake anvil with the shield on the side. . but not knowing does not reduce its value as a tool or collector's item.

What DOES bother me though is that you cannot fully determine the hardness, weld condition or actual weight from a photograph.

I've had a number of folks tell me it MUST be 300 pounds because two men couldn't lift it. . . and it turned out to be less than 200 pounds. Even when the weight is marked it is not unusual to have folks missread a 1 with serifs for a 2. AND even scaled weights may be in error if a bathroom scale is used. When I was approaching the max our scale could display I noticed I could make it change 50-75 pounds by leaning a little one way or the other. . .

A LOT of old pieced together anvils have serious flaws. The ring test is what was used as a general determinant of condition. I've seen beautiful old English anvils that when you struck them you got a dull clack. . . It still may be an OK anvil but it has a serious crack, most often in the face joint. It is worth considerably less than one with a clear ring.

There are also a LOT of old anvils that have apparently survived a fire because they are dead soft. Can it be fixed? Yes, but at considerable expense. If you are GIVEN such an anvil it might be worth while.

THEN there are those that have been artfully repaired but have no face left to speak of. Paw-Paw had a large Wilkinson anvil loaned to him that had been machined to where the face was only 1/4" or less. It was nearly dead soft and was terribly marred with just minor use. The fellow that had loaned it to Paw-Paw had bought a number of large anvils from the same dealer. Another had a series of plug welds down the center of the face which was then painted. All that dealers anvils had been painted and had the weights and logos outlined in white paint like in Postmans book. . .

It could be a GREAT anvil, it could be a dog. To tell you are going to need to go and inspect it.

ANY time you buy used equipment you must consider the dealer and the conditions of the sale. I would trust a well known dealer to provide some kind of warrantee and to give an honest description of the goods. Others range from ignorant of what they are selling to those that know a lot more than you do but will feign ignorance OR use their knowledge to sell you a lie. I prefer the ignorant. . . At least they are usually honest about what they do not know.

These are the things that are much more important than who signed the check of the worker that made the anvil 150 years ago. . .
   - guru - Monday, 11/17/08 07:59:39 EST

Many many good valid points concerning anvil purchase.

Ken...thanks for the info.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 10:09:30 EST

Anvil and Fire
Just for interest

I purchased a Hay Budden anvil once that went through a fire. It belonged to the original owner his father then him who passed on this year. He owned an old machine shop where all the tools ran from line shafts. They specialized in iron work and making railings etc... The machine shop was set on fire (arson) and burnt down. Interesting that the fire company a couple doors down wanted the property and he wouldn't sell it to them. They waited till the building was gone before they could make it the large distance to the fire. He always felt they burned it down.

I bought an anvil that was in the fire. It was aprox 104 lbs. They forged 2" square stock on it with sledge hammers. You could tell. The anvil had a funny coating of melted stuff on it I had to scrap off. The anvil cleaned up nice. It was a first style budden with the face plate. The anvil was extremely hard. It did not take much to chip an edge it was so hard. I am not saying anything either way about an anvil loosing its temper in a fire. Every fire is different and location of the tool to the fire. This one survived.

He salvaged what he could from the fire and set up business for many years across the street. The person that owned the building he rented gave it to the firehall. They asked him to move out. I was there the day he was having some stuff moved out. The fire people were nasty to this 88 yr old basically throwing him out. Their behavior proved to me they burned his building down years back.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 13:23:09 EST

I should add early on they machined there own brand of hit and miss engines. They had the parts cast at a local foundry then did the machine work. The did repair work for the oil fields. Made fences, railing and gates. Even made decorative things of hotels and restaurants like armour, shields and swords. They did alot of interesting things. The nice old fella passed away at 89. He was a WWII vet. Voluntered at the museum. He just didn't want to quit doing what he was doing. They burned him out and then kicked him out.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 13:32:30 EST

The equiptment he could not take was scrapped and building torn down. He built is own machines like a rail punch and large ellaborate fixtures for holding railing at certain angles to assemble. The firehall wanted it for parking for bingo.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 16:21:45 EST

A side note is apparently it was a fire which lead to the production of consistent cast iron/steel faced anvils. In AIA Postman tells of Mark Fisher operating a tannery which burned down. As he went through the debris he noted where the fire caused steel to bond to cast iron.

The method at the time was to pour molten cast iron over steel. His method was to flow it over fluxed steel, rather than pour it over, and resulted in a consistent and strong bond.

Somewhere I have an article on Fisher. I believe it to be 1957, Trenton, NJ newspaper. Interview was with Harriett Fisher's husband's second wife, who owned/run Fisher & Norris at the time. She indicated visitors, even then, weren't allowed into the shop to witness the actual procedure.

If you want to read most of the article go to www.abana.org, FORUMS, Blacksmithing History & Lore, item on History of Fisher & Norris.

On the FISHER vise I mentioned a couple of days ago, it appears the jaws are steel attached to cast iron.

An example of a FISHER double screw parallel leg vise is given on page 180 of AIA. Looks like a bulb under lower screw. That is area where the break happened on this one, with almost all of the bulb gone. I'm guessing leg was screwed into this bulb area to make shipping easier.

On it, my suggested repair to the owner will be to obtain a piece of 3/4" black iron pipe and a 3/4" floor flange. Mount the vise and measure distance from floor to broken off area, then add a couple of inches. Mark pipe and then use an angle grinder until one end goes up into the vise. Then mark and add on a collar to where vise will sit on leg, which can then be secured to floor via the floor flange.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/18/08 08:36:23 EST


If it were me, I'd heat up the end of the pipe and swage it down to fit into the socket on the vise leg. This would be stronger, and probably easier too.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 11/18/08 10:11:15 EST

Flint Striker? I am having about a 50% success rate using
hay rake tine to make a good sparking striker. What type
of steel was used to make hay tines and what would be the
best quenchant? Also: If your slag tub is breeding mosquitoes introduce one gambusia aka mosquitoe fish. These
fish are available in any ditch during Florida's rainy season or Pet Supermarket as feeder fish.
   Har Fisher - Tuesday, 11/18/08 10:26:18 EST

I've got a section of RR track (discussed in past posts) that I've finally decided to stand on end, weld to a piece of plate on the bottom, and then weld a small flat piece on the top. I was originally thinking A-2 for the top, but then that *may* be a little hard, both in material hardness, and difficulty in heat treating/tempering. What I am now thinking is maybe 4140 for the anvil top (2" X 4" X 7" approx. dimensions. Given my equipment, I would be able to harden it easily (according to published data, Rc hardness max is around 60), and would only be able to use my kitchen oven either at 550 or "broil" (however hot that gets?) for the tempering which should theoretically get it down to the 56-58 Rc range. Is this too hard (I'm suspecting yes), is the material sufficient for this type of use, etc. What does everyone think?

Much thanks,
Chris from Sacramento
   Chris F. - Tuesday, 11/18/08 10:33:52 EST

dear cris. welding a plate to the bottom could work but it depends on the hight of the track. in my opinion you should drive it into a log so that you dont have movement when hammering. i think what you say about the top plate may work but if its too wide you may have a springyness issue. on final note you should find other means than your kitchen oven for tempering, you dont want to ruen an oven for a project with the possability of failure. i think we could get a better picture of your idea if you told us the length off yor track, i have three sections all of different size i plan to use for different projects i say cut the web off and play around
   matt - Tuesday, 11/18/08 11:03:39 EST

My track section is only 9 inches long--I have an 8" X 6" X 1" piece of A-36 that I welded on the bottom and will be making an anvil stand using 2X12's. There's a good 3" square (approx.) area at the end of the track that's my "target" area. I could possibly use a 3" wide piece for the top.
   Chris F. - Tuesday, 11/18/08 11:28:26 EST

Rail Anvil by Jock DempseyChris, If that 2" thick piece is welded on in the direction shown in the sketch then 7" is not too long nor 4" too wide. A2 would be a bear to weld right and not have a brittle fracture in use. SAE 4140 or 4150, even 1040 would be fine. If you could afford a piece of A2 that big you could buy a nice small NEW anvil.

To harden something like this you want to harden the face by heating mostly where you want to harden, then locally quench in water. If possible you want to quench, polish, watch the color change from the latent heat in the unquenched part and then quench again to stop the tempering.

Using the oven to heat this much mass would cost more than cooking a Thanksgiving turkey all day. . save the power bill for the turkey.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/18/08 12:46:54 EST

Strikers: Har, The failure rate may be your hardening process OR you could be decarburizing the surface of the steel. If the parts are held at too high a heat in an oxidizing flame there will be significant carbon losses. This is especially true of a gas forge. Grind off the scale and bas surface and see if they spark better.

The other problem may be hardness, they must be hard. A narrow edge also helps as the force of the blow is more concentrated and more heat is created in a small chip of steel.

All JunkYard steel rules apply to farm implement steels.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/18/08 12:54:11 EST

your drawing is exactly what I was planning on doing, but with only about 1" overlap where the horn is. Overall the top will be rectangular, being flush with the "back" of the track and there will (should) be about 1/2-3/4" overlap width wise on the cap section. I'm going to get a piece of 4140 from Speedymetals and give it a try. As for the tempering goes, I was going to try to fully harden and then temper the top piece prior to welding (using MIG for this--big, giant machine my dad has and is more than capable of welding thick stuff like this), in hopes that some of the heat from the welding would bring the hardness down a little--sort of like a second tempering. What do you think?
   Chris F. - Tuesday, 11/18/08 13:06:49 EST

Chris, hardened or hardenable steel should be annealed or at least normalized prior to welding, preheated to reduce stress and self quenching during welding. Even then it is common to get a very brittle zone in the weld and heating to annealing temperature is a good idea.

Note that the RR-rail is high enough carbon to self quench in the weld zone and be very brittle if not reheated and cooled slowly or sufficiently preheated prior to welding.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/18/08 14:24:17 EST

Right--looks like I'm going to have to break out the oxy-acetalene for this one.
   Chris F. - Tuesday, 11/18/08 14:42:59 EST

For pre or post heat at least. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/18/08 15:20:07 EST

Guru, Cris F brings an iteresting question to mind.
If he were to gas weld this project what would the resaults be as to the size of the heat affect zone, brittleness ect, as you state above?
   - merl - Tuesday, 11/18/08 19:17:02 EST

High carbon steels, especially high alloy steels, tend to retain austenite after a quench. Tempering once can transform the retained austenite to untempered martensite. Doesn't hurt to temper the piece twice to soften the second transformation martensite.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/18/08 19:18:47 EST

Ken/Fisher vice- I'll email you photos (close-ups) of the leg connection on mine if you want them. Drop me a line if you want.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 11/18/08 19:53:21 EST

Actually I was going to MIG weld all parts after pre-heating, then do a post weld heat and cool it really slow.
   Chris F. - Tuesday, 11/18/08 20:29:51 EST

Chris F: What You are describing might work, but both parts should be pre heated to at least 400F, maintained at this temperature while welding and after, before slow cooling. Higher temperatures would decrease the chances of weld failure, but Too high will draw the temper too much, and be extremely unpleasant to be close too while welding.

If You use a kitchen oven, take note that "broil" is not thermostaticly controlled, and heats the top element only. The temperature settings use only the bottom element.

What sort of welding machine, filler wire and shielding gas will You be using?
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 11/18/08 22:37:00 EST

Welding high strength steels: On jobs like these it is much preferable to use a rod designed for high strength connections. The advantage of stick welding is you can buy all kinds of specialty rods in small quantities but MIG wire is relatively expensive and hard to find in anything other than a few grades.

It IS possible to gas weld this large a joint but very expensive. The pre and post heating are not a consideration because preheating is part of the process and by the time you are done the whole will be at or close to a red heat. I do not know how the metallurgy would be but a soft joint is preferrable to a hard joint in this situation.

I suspect that most of use would take this joint (RR-rail to 4140) and preheat it as best we could while supported in a good position. Then using E7018 tack it, then stitch it, then quickly clean the tacks and stitches to remove all the flux, heat some more, then start in with fill between the stitches longer welds, clean again, then run several parallel beads all around until we were happy with the weld.

THEN if were were rally concerned about the metallurgy heat the whole weld zone a bit more prior to letting it cool. However, if you have been working continuously the weld area may be up to a low red and ready to cool as-is. Most weldors would clean and chip the weld while cooling using the dulled pien end of their chipping hammer or a smallish ball pien hammer to work the weld as it cooled. Peening supposedly helps relieve shrinkage stresses in the weld and is often recommended.

Often if you work in small steps doing your tacks and initial welds the heat of the welding adds up and acts as a sort of preheat. As you burn in the longer welds a lot of heat goes into the part and can often exceed recommended pre and weld heat conditions. As long as you do not quench the part afterwards the cooling in free air should be OK. But the higher the carbon steel the slower the cool from red the better. Burying in annealing medium or wrapping with Kaowool may help.

Sometimes just doing the job without thinking about it too much gives you a "getting away with it factor". There are lots of jobs like this that folks just DO and they turn out find despite all the conventional wisdom.

One reason I do not like MIG for a job like this is that it is too fast and the end result is more likely to have problems.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/19/08 07:05:43 EST

Dave--the machine I'm using is an old "migtronics" (made in Sweden along with terrible Swedish-English instruction translations), shielding gas is Argon, and the label on the wire spool has faded to a now non-readable state--I'm suspecting it's fairly mild due to my past experience with it. However, I just ran out so that gives me an excuse to buy another one. Any recommendations for MIG wire that would be good for both low to med/hi carbon materials, or is that kind of asking too much out of an "all purpose" filler wire?

I do like Guru's statement regarding the "getting away with it factor"--sort of along the lines of "it's so crazy, it just might work." However, I've learned that the best way to learn something is to actually do it--over and over and over again, and *any* wisdom/advice from someone who's done it before usually makes it much easier and better. For now, I'm going to pre-heat, MIG, then cool really slow (I was thinking packing vermiculite or pearlite around it in a container) and then try the hardening of the top as Guru described above.

   Chris F. - Wednesday, 11/19/08 10:45:16 EST

I am restoring a 1965 Pontiac GTO. The trunk lid torsion rods got cooked at Redi-strip and lost their torsion. Is there anyone in the blacksmithing community capable of copying my torsion rods and heat treating them. They are 3/8 rod and about 3 feet long. Thank You Bill Wynn
   Bill Wynn - Wednesday, 11/19/08 12:54:57 EST

Is a splitting punch (looking at the RR Spike Tomahawk in the iForge plans) known by any other name? Also, is there a good source for an anvil cutting plate, or should I just get some basic welding equipment and make one?
   Dave Weinstein - Wednesday, 11/19/08 13:38:00 EST


The splitting punch you refer to is also known as a Slitting Chisel. A punch typically "punches" out a plug of material while a chisel cuts material. Also, a cutting plate is a simple piece of mild steel that can be bent to fit over the top of your anvil to protect the anvil AND your chisel from damaging each other. You can use a flat piece of mild steel or bend it into a "U" shape so that when placed upside down, the legs of the "U" slide past the sides of the anvil. The legs just keep the plate from moving around while you work on your piece.

Hope this helps,
   Paul B - Wednesday, 11/19/08 13:54:50 EST


That does help. I was thinking of welding the steel to a stock sized for the Hardie hole to anchor it that way.
   Dave Weinstein - Wednesday, 11/19/08 13:58:50 EST


That's a good idea too. You can also use flat bar and clamp it to the vise. Whatever you have handy and gets the job done.
   Paul B - Wednesday, 11/19/08 14:14:54 EST

Any recommendations on a basic oxy/acetylene rig? (It's the only thing I've ever used, and that only briefly)
   Dave Weinstein - Wednesday, 11/19/08 14:33:46 EST


I have only used one once to learn about setting one up about 15 years ago in a welding class. I don't have one, so I'm not any help here.
   Paul B - Wednesday, 11/19/08 14:58:56 EST

Like Paul B. I've really only used a standard oxy/ace unit in my night school welding classes. However, I have use oxy/ace Henrob unit fairly extensively for the past several years. Lets me cut thin metal something like a plasma cutter and heat up to about 5/8" for spot bending.

I'd recommend taking a night school welding class specializing in using oxy/ace. Then decide what you need for what you want to do.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 11/19/08 15:15:36 EST

Basic Oxy-Acetylene. We had some discussion of same recently in the Hammer-In. Check it out.

My experience is to buy a good well known brand from a dealer you expect to business with for a long time. Welding is not just the tools but the refilling of cylinders, purchasing supplies such as various alloy rods and replacement tips. You need someone to establish a long term business relationship with. Many welding dealers also repair and rebuild torches, regulators and welding machines.

For blacksmithing you really need a "full size" oxy-acetylene set including cart to hold and move the cylinders around.

If you know the kind of work you are going to be doing is going to have a LOT of small repetitive welding or brazing, or daily heating with a rose-bud an economizer valve is not only a fuel saving device it is a safety device. It gives you a place to put down your torch and turns it OFF. It also provides a convenient pilot light to relight your torch. It is also a huge labor saving device in that you are not constantly re-adjusting your torch valves every time you light it.

If heating with a rose-bud is a large part of your work then consider oxy-propane. It is cheaper, not quite as hot so the tendency to scale the work is less AND it is a quieter softer flame than oxy-acetylene. It also works great with an economizer valve.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/19/08 15:20:59 EST

Chris F. You are better off welding the parts before heat treatment, altho it could be done after.

A big concern when welding steel with enough carbon to harden is under bead hydrogen induced cracking. The MIG solid wire process and pre and post heating gets You around this one, so I wont discuss it further.

Your shielding gas should not be argon, but an argon mixture. For general use in short circut transfer, a mixture of argon with 25% C02 is commonly used. This might be called "C25" or "25C", either one and they will know what You want.

You mentioned that this is a fairly powerfull machine, so You will probably find .035 diameter ER70S-6 to be the most usefull. This is a mild steel wire, but with pre & post heating should work for this project. You won't have any real slag to chip, but there will be some silica to remove before You run more passes. The -6 designation of the wire is one that has extra de-oxidisers, so it can be used on steel that is not 100% clean, making it a good all purpose choice.

The MIG wire has a thin copper coating, but if not kept in a dry location can get rusty in storage. This is BAD. Don't buy a large spool of wire unless You can keep it in a dry location. I put on a 44# spool in the spring of '04 and am just now getting to the end of it, it goes a long way.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 11/19/08 20:32:21 EST

Thanks tons, Dave--I've been running .030
   - Chris F. - Wednesday, 11/19/08 23:14:52 EST

Oops--must have hit something there...
Anyhow, like I was saying, I've been running .030" and this last spool that just ran out was about 8 years old (11#, so that shows you how much I use this machine--used to use it a lot more about 15 years ago but it resides at my dad's place that's about an hour drive away). I'm familiar with the rust issue and *try* to take the wire inside when done. Haven't had too much problems with it lately and aside from crappy welds, it's hell on the hose. I'm going to check out the ER70S-6 wire sometime this week.

As for the gas, I'm not sure exactly what's in the bottle--used to have a sticker or placard or tag that said Argon (my dad, being somewhat mechanically challenged--who I think lives vicariously through me--just took it to a local welding shop and said "filler up"). I'd be willing to guess that it is C25 if that's common.
Thanks again.
   Chris F. - Wednesday, 11/19/08 23:24:32 EST

I got some Hex stock today from my local steel supplier. 26 pounds of it at 80 cents a pound so I am fairly happy. I got it to do ornamental work with but thought that whilst I have got the stuff I had might as well make a couple of hex wrenches- one in each size. I have no idea what the steel is other than Chinese structural stuff so I know JYS rules apply. Once I find out how it hardens how hard should I take it? Also do you have any other tips for me please? Is there a formula for length of wrench:Thickness of stock for example?
   philip in china - Thursday, 11/20/08 01:01:08 EST

Philip: If you have access to eBay do a search on hex "wrenches". If the set you would be interested in weighs less than four pounds it could be sent in a USPS Priority Mail flat rate envelope for $11.95.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/20/08 07:15:54 EST

Hex Wrench (Spanner) Dimensions and Materials: While there ARE standards every manufacturer does their own thing. Generally there are three thicknesses that correspond to the three types of nuts fasteners, Structural or "Heavy Hex", Standard (SAE in the U.S.) and thin (half of standard for lock nuts, used to be called "tappet wrenches"). Whitworth and British Standard are slightly different and so are Metric. For practical use wrenches should be no higher than the fastener head which is often shorter than the nut.

Machinery's Handbook has formulae and dimensions. The important thing is the wrench clearance which also takes into consideration variations in hex tolerance.

Steel for spanners is normally better than mild or structural steel, somewhere in the medium carbon steel range. The Junkyard Steels list says L6 or S2 tools steel.

The old Machinery's Handbook has a list of recommended steels and their hardness for common tools. For "Special Wrenches" they call for steel class 11, hardness 30-35 HRc. It calls for machining to size after hardening and tempering.

Steel class 11 is a Chrome Vanadium steel with 45 to 55 points carbon. S7 and L2 meet these suggestions.

The best mechanic's wrenches or spanners are made of a high grade tool steel while cheap ones are made of plain carbon steel and heat treated to approximate the tool steel (which is tough to do).

The big difference from a mechanics point of view is the pattern of the wrench. A rounder (ovoid for strength) shank is easier on the hands than rectangular. Snap-On wrenchs has historically had a thin light ovoid shape that was harder on the hands than the thicker and slightly heavier Craftsman pattern. All open end wrenches need the opening turned 15° to the axis of the wrench. This lets you flip the wrench over and use only 30° of motion to turn a hex in a tight location rather than 60°.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/20/08 08:52:57 EST

NOTE: SAE 4150 is an "economical" steel for wrenches and suitable for heavy patterns as it nearly meets the above recommendations.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/20/08 09:01:41 EST

Guys, i think Phillip bought hex stock, and is wanting to make hex keys or "Allen wrenchs"
   ptree - Thursday, 11/20/08 10:13:13 EST

Pages and pages crammed with fascinating, useful info SAE, British, etc. at www dot boltscience dotcom
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/20/08 10:47:32 EST

Fianlly dug out my copy of "The Carpenter's Tool Chest", Hibben, a rather tertiary source but it states that the spirial auger as we know it today was invented in 1770 by Phineas Cooke of England. Now his invention was running the spirial all the way up the bit to extract chips continuously instead of having short spirial down at the curring end and having to pull the bit a regular intervals to clear the hole of shavings.

In the development of the drill page there are several augers with twisted gimlet ends that date to 16th century Germany; but I know that in colonial America the spoon bit was still in use a century or two after that time.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 11/20/08 11:09:28 EST

Ptree, You got me there. . . In the above post just replace "wrench or spanner" with "Allen of hex-key wrench". The materials and hardness apply but perhaps a little harder. There are two lengths of the working end, standard and short. There are two lengths of the arm, standard and long. The standard arm should start to spring when the bolt is tight.

I'm sure there is a proportional ratio.

When I've bought hex stock it was always 3/4" and up, usually soft screw machine stuff.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/20/08 11:23:44 EST

At the valve shop we made millions of hex pipe bushings,plugs and nuts in screw machines. Never used Hex stock though. We made an attachment that cut the flats to wrench tolerance on the fly. The hex stock was about 10% more that hot rolled round stock. When you make 300 to 400 thousand parts a month, that is huge:)
   ptree - Thursday, 11/20/08 13:46:46 EST


As far as I know, straight argon is *never* recommended for MIG welding steel. I've had a welding supplier try to talk me out of it (at least until I explained I was welding aluminum). So it's probably not too likely your dad got straight argon by accident.

Around here, at least, mix is sold in two-tone bottles -- the top quarter or so is a different color from the rest. If yours is painted that way, there's a good chance it's filled with C25 (or maybe C30).
   Mike BR - Thursday, 11/20/08 19:52:01 EST

Guru, Thom and others - re: Gimlets and augers
Thanks for all your research. This is most interesting and helpful. By any chance do your sources mention whether the augers, gimlet and center bits were made from wrought iron or steel? And if steel, as one would assume, is there any discussion of how that steel was made by the village blacksmith prior to the Industrial Revolution?
   John L. - Thursday, 11/20/08 21:22:40 EST

John L.

If a village blacksmith made steel, it would be quite unusual.

It is our policy not to do homework for people. In any event, an unhomogeneous steel in terms of carbon distribution was made by the cementation process. I can't put a date on its inception, but it was probably several centuries before 1740. Pieces of low carbon wrought iron were put into an airtight container (furnace) surrounded by charcoal between layers, and held at temperature, below melting, for about 11 days. There was a reaction between it's contained slag and the carbon, raising small beads or "blisters" on the steel. Cemented steel was also called blister steel because of this. This product had more carbon content on and near its surface than in the bar's interior. Although it was steel, it was not always predictable as to end use, because of this difference in carbon content. It was sort of by gosh and by golly.

These pieces could be made a little more homogeneous by stacking blister steel pieces into a fagot, and forge welding them together; the result was single shear steel. If restacked and welded, the product was termed double shear steel.

Prior to 1740, in England, Benjamin Huntsman, a clockmaker, had experienced troubles in trying to temper his clock springs with uniformity. Becoming disgruntled, he experimented and invented a method of melting blister steel and then forging the resulting ingot. By melting, the carbon atoms became uniformly distributed with the iron atoms. The result was higher quality "cast steel" which later was called "crucible steel" in the U.S.

I understand that the chemistry in all of these processes was not known at the time. The idea that carbon was present and was the hardenability agent was not discovered till later. The men who were producing steel during these early times probably thought that they were "refining" the metal in some manner. Their methodology was pragmatic, father-to-son, so the speak.

In sum, there were at least three types of steel in use prior to the industrial revolution: cemented or blister steel; shear steel; and cast or crucible steel.

Most of my information is from Tiemann, "Iron and Steel," and I stand to be corrected by those having more knowledge on the subject.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/20/08 22:40:04 EST

Frank: Thanks for the source. I'll be pleased to find and read it now that I know of it.

That it would have been unlikely for the village blacksmith of yore to make steel is what puzzles me. Those Mastermyr tools of 900 AD or so, if they were just wrought iron, how would they have cut anything? I mean, that Viking carpenter lost files and augers and all manner of presumably hard, sharp tools. Or did he just throw the darn chest overboard because the soft iron tools wouldn't hold an edge? I'm only half in jest here, seriously. If steelmaking was rare to nonexistent prior to the 1700s, and iron without a goodly amount of carbon in it is too soft to make a useful woodcutting tool, then how do we explain the tools in that chest? He (the carpenter) or his smith had to know some process for making good tooling. Do we modern folk have any understanding of what that process was? If there's a book on it, please point me to it. I'd love to read that one, too.

   John L. - Thursday, 11/20/08 23:01:08 EST

On Matermyr: BTW, I have a copy of "The Mastermyr Find" on order. But folk I know who have read it tell me that it does not much discuss how the tools may have been made.
   John L. - Thursday, 11/20/08 23:04:29 EST

Mastermyr (again): Okay Frank, I reread your post twice more. So "Iron and Steel" may be telling us that blister steel was the likely candidate for the Viking carpenter's tools. Well I guess 11 days is worth the wait.... It'll take me twice as long to lay hands on a copy of that book, I suppose.
   John L. - Thursday, 11/20/08 23:12:27 EST

John L: The village blacksmith would have most likely gotten steel from someone who made steel, probably the same guy who made the iron.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/21/08 00:10:04 EST

There is more than three types or process for making steel hitoricaly. I am positive steel was made by village smiths. Mabye blacksmiths didn't make steel in the later centurys of europe when steel making had grown more advanced and become an industry of its own, but small scale bloomery furnaces(which were used to make steel before the advent of the blast furnace) could have easily been used by a groups of local smiths to produce ferrous alloy for there own smithin use.
   - John Joseph L. - Friday, 11/21/08 00:13:19 EST

Chris & Mike BR: For MIG welding carbon steel You can use CO2 or mixtures of argon and CO2, or argon and O2. For short circut metal transfer use CO2 or argon/CO2 with about 8-25% Co2. For spray transfer, argon with 5-20% CO2 or 1-2% O2.

Pure argon has poor arc stability in spray transfer, and the CO2 increases heat input in short circut transfer.

With short circut transfer argon/CO2 generally makes less spatter than CO2, altho really good power suplys will make verry little spatter with CO2 if everything is perfect.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/21/08 00:24:11 EST

Materials in Antiquity: During the Stone Age flint and salt among other things were traded over long distances. The technological man has not lived in a vacuum in tens of thousands of years.

Specialists existed before written history. During the Bronze Age it is known that sea traders on the Mediterranean carried ivory and ebony from central Africa and amber from North of the Baltic and tin from England. Bronze was traded from the Middle East as well as Silk from the Orient as early as 1000 BC.

Miners and smelters of metals settled where the raw materials were including ore, fuel, flux, water and clay. Often one of these might be carried a long distance or traded for but it was avoided if possible. These places often developed into towns but their purpose for existence was the natural resources. You did not "make steel" unless you lived in one of these places and practiced the art on a regular basis with plenty of help.

The cementation process of making blister steel takes a great deal of time, fuel and labor. It would not have been done by one man working alone. While steel was expensive it was an important and valuable trade commodity that was carried great distances.

When part time or seasonal smelting with the goal of making iron or steel was done it was a cooperative process that a whole village undertook. Mountains of charcoal were needed, ore had to be broken down into suitable sizes and roasted. Large quantities of food had to be gathered and stored for the long days were everyone was going to crushing and hauling ore and coal, working the bellows and wielding sledges. . . When done a small group might have enough steel to support their needs for a long time and perhaps have enough to trade to others. But as a group the making of the steel was a small part of the task.

Yes, small groups did and DO make steel. But not the typical "village" blacksmith. It was either a whole village effort, or the business of the local town that was situated in the perfect location.

Individuals doing things the hard inefficient way in complete isolation is a modern anachronism based on fantasy. People with free time not needed for basic survival have time to waste on hobbies and inefficient pursuits. And while they THINK they are doing these tasks alone they are NOT in a vacuum. They are supported by all of civilization which provides the cheap fuel, an unending supply of food, the ability to survive without spending every waking moment working, hunting and processing the basic necessities of survival. The Renaissance and the Great Age of Invention during the Industrial Revolution came about due to the civilization mankind had built where there was free time to THINK.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/08 02:32:51 EST

John L. & All,
My good book finding source is www.dealoz.com, and they show comparative prices from various dealers.
Hugh Tieman's book is "Iron and Steel a Pocket Encyclopedia." There are two books, "Steelmaking before Bessemer" one covering blister steel and the other on crucible steel, authored by K. C. Barraclough. Robert Gordon wrote "American Iron 1607-1900". It gives an historical overview of iron and steel production in the U.S., but also refers to English ferrous production of an earlier time.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/21/08 08:15:38 EST

Metallurgy question: Is a forge weld, strictly defined, a solid-state weld? Or is it a fusion weld? Because the surfaces approach melting but don't actually melt. It almost seems to require its own definition. So which is it?
   coondogger - Friday, 11/21/08 08:27:43 EST

Coondogger, It is solid state. Forge welds can be made at temperatures much lower than blacksmiths typically make them. When blademiths laminate steel it is possible to make welds at 2300°F (1260°C). This is via methods that keep the steel clean and reduce exposure to oxidation. In a vacuum such as in space certain clean metals can join at room temperature with very little pressure. So special rules apply, especially in electrical switches and connectors.

I too used to think the surface in a forge weld was liquid but it is not. It can be under sufficient flux or in the perfect forge environment but not usually.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/08 09:17:57 EST

Time to think:
And not only the Industrial Evolution, but look at the dizzying advances in technology that happen today. The original IBM PC is not even 30 years old, and the Internet itself is only a few years older. That PC went for $3K and had one floppy, 64K of memory, and a monochrome CRT. Today we have more computer in a $70 MP3 player that you can strap to your wrist. Hearing aids that hide in your ear have more raw computing power and memory.

We develop technology for the purpose of saving time, which translates to money. And we use that time to develop more technology. Its exponential. Of course some technology is developed to waste time (video games), but that's another story.

   - Marc - Friday, 11/21/08 09:19:06 EST

John L- The Mastermyr Find was written by archaeologists for archaeologists, and is indeed light on speculation of the manufacturing process. What you may find most informative are the photos and excellent line drawings of the pieces. Studying those will tell you as much about the smith's technique as the opinion of a scholar who has rarely picked up a hammer. When you get the book be sure to examine item 126d on plate 30. There is no description other than "small pcs. of iron" but it sure looks like a billet of blister steel in the process of being forge welded into a lump of steel.

I'd be interested in hearing your sources for your statement "I am positive steel was made by village smiths." I don't entirely disagree but IIRC the vast majority of excavated bloomeries were near either a fuel source, population center, ore bed, or a combination of several and showed a fair degree of specialization.

If you don't already have them you should find copies of Biringuccio's Pirotechnia and Agricola's De Re Metalica.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 11/21/08 09:45:30 EST

One more question. What would you say the typical temperature is for a forge weld of mild steel?
   coondogger - Friday, 11/21/08 09:57:16 EST

Mike BR--
The cylinder is painted silver at the top and the rest is green--it's been working great with steel, so from what everyone has been saying, it's definitely NOT straight Argon. One of these days I gotta find a night class on electric welding!!! :)
   Chris F. - Friday, 11/21/08 09:57:41 EST

Time to Think and work: I don't know about PC's. . . They eat up a LOT of my time. But they sure have changed the way the written word is recorded and disseminated.

The big advances of civilization were in areas like food and clothing production. Today, in the U.S., there are fewer farmers, farming fewer acres than ever before yet producing food cheaper than anywhere else on the planet and exporting huge amounts of it. Prior to modern agriculture with machinery, chemicals and special varieties there was 100 of times more farmers and almost everyone else was involved in farming at some level or at least growing their own vegetables. Even folks in cities had gardens and often a cow. During the horse drawn era having other livestock along with the horse was not unusual. It was a matter of survival and took up a LOT of one's time.

From the agricultural revolution we have gone on into great improvements in many other areas. It takes a LOT less of one's time and physical effort to survive today and we survive longer and with fewer complaints. Before modern medicine people died from simple colds. It was often a series of events. It might start with a cold, then not gathering the last vegatables before first frost, letting the house get cold a couple nights because you were too sick to bring in the firewood. . . a week later your neighbors find you dead in your bed. Today you can buy medicine for that cold and survive pneumonia if you get drugs for it. There will be food in the refrigerator and the cabinets long enough that you won't get so run down you cannot function and the house will still be warm despite taking off a few days to recuperate. IF not, you can run down to the local store which has almost anything you can imagine and more than you could ever need. . . OR use the phone to get help.

Life in modern society is MUCH different than even 100 years ago. Our grandparents and great grandparents generation while benefiting from significant modern advances lived a MUCH more precarious life than we do. My grandmother gave birth to all her children at home even though she lived in a city when the last two were born. While they had SOME leisure time later in life my grandparents had to work hard to survive. My grandmother lived to be in her 90's she had survived three husbands two of whom died relatively young.

The acceleration in technological advances in the last 100 years IS staggering. We have gone from the light bulb and electric motor to Dick Tracey video communicators using fiber optic and satellite connections. Satellites map the globe and photograph it to where we can see in our neighbor's back yard. Video cameras are the size of a pin head and automated warehouses can be run by robots in the dark with the only light being barcode scanners. . . Medicine has made leaps and bounds to the point where it is possible that there are cures for everything in the very near future. . . While we are still a long way from it scientists now KNOW that the fiction of Jurassic Park will be possible in a not too distant future. . .

But will civilization survive to produce these wonders? The current economic down turn is the scariest thing I have seen in my lifetime.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/08 10:33:48 EST

One other book discusses ferrous and non ferrous metal production over the centuries: "Out of the Fiery Furnace" by Robert Raymond. It is a little light on our discussions of blister and crucible steel, but it talks about Wootz steel, which Raymond conjectures was produced in India as early as 500 BC. According to Raymond's research, Wootz steel was made in small clay crucibles "about the size of a rice bowl." Small pieces of wrought iron were placed within along with 4% to 5% by weight, of a specific plant. These crucibles were clay lidded and put in a large bellows-blown charcoal fire until the contents were molten. The molten steel was then poured into stone molds to become flat and wafer-like in appearance. This was a big trade item in the circum-Mediterranean area and beyond. The method was kept secret for a long while. The actual technique did not reach the Near East until the 7th century AD. Raymond maintains that not much had been known about Indian metallurgy until two relatively recent Indian publications. "Aspects of Ancient Indian Technology" by H. C. Bhardwaj, Banarsidass Press, New Delhi. 1979. The other is "Technology in Ancient India" by O. P. Jaggi, Atma Ram and Sons, Delhi & Lucknow, 1981.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/21/08 10:54:30 EST

Makes you wonder about Raymond Kurzweil's theories about the Technological Singularity and his "Law Of Accelerating Returns"...
   MacFly - Friday, 11/21/08 12:39:22 EST


The temperature for forge welding is 2600 to 2700 degrees F.
   Paul B - Friday, 11/21/08 13:56:08 EST

"Out of the fiery Furnace" is also the title of a PBS series I think by the same guy. ^ one hour segmets I believe. I have watched them on tape from the library several times and gain something each time I do. Been several years since I last viewed, its going to be cold this weekend, maybe I will watch them again:)
   ptree - Friday, 11/21/08 13:56:42 EST

thanks guys.
   coondogger - Friday, 11/21/08 16:10:36 EST

Forge Welding:

Forge welding temperatures vary depending on material. As noted by Paul, some materials, in particular real wrought iron, do require a very high heat. In the case of wrought, this is do to the slag content of the material. In the case of relatively clean modern iron or steel, the temperatures used are considerably lower, especially if the alloy has a lower melting temperature. As the carbon content of a steel increases the melting temperature DECREASES, so you have to keep welding temps down to prevent melting. From a purely academic point of view, forge welding can be performed at room temperature, provided the surfaces to be joined are sufficiently clean and can be brought into intimate contact. This usually requires some type of press and a controlled atmosphere or a vacuum. In the case of forge welds made out of a gas or coal forge using hand or power hammers, heat is necessary to soften the metal since most common tooling will not have sufficent power to achieve intimate contact at lower temps. Since heat has been introduced, flux is also often used to remove and/or prevent oxides from forming, which will prevent intimate contact from being achieved. Fluxes are NOT required if the forge atmoshere is controlled such that it is reducing rather than oxidizing.

Forge welding is techinically a solid state welding process. A good example of the room temperature welding is the galling or friction welding of fasteners. I have in my office a nut on a 2.25" od shaft which was "welded" to the shaft during binding and subsequent breakage of a 5' diameter cut off saw. The nut/shaft threads were examined microscopically after failure of the shaft and it was very clear that the threads were deformed so much that welding had occured. Even after the nut was split in half, it would still not come off of the shaft. There is no evidence whatsoever that melting occured when the nut "welded" to the shaft. This is purely a solid state bond in which the necessary force to achieve intimate contact was achieved when the components of the saw failed.

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 11/21/08 18:13:42 EST


weldreality.com has information on MIG gas -- probably more than you'll ever want to know.
   Mike BR - Friday, 11/21/08 18:43:16 EST

Posted before I finished reading. The book "Out of the Fiery Furnace" -- or at least the one I read -- is the companion volume to the PBS series.
   Mike BR - Friday, 11/21/08 18:45:32 EST

The forge weld is universally applied today in making ERW welded pipe and tube. The edges are heated electrically and pushed together to make the weld. The edges upset and carry all the oxidized metal off of the bond plane. The upset bead is then scarfed away to make a smooth surface. This can be done on 1" pipe at 1000 feet per minute. Oil field pipe is done typically at 100-400 fpm.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 11/21/08 18:49:34 EST

Is pure argon appropriate for TIG welding? How bad is it for MIG use?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 11/21/08 19:28:28 EST

Patrick, I had a nut in a similar condition. Mine was type 347SS. It had full Acme threads, and was a test sample. 2.5" as I remember. I was running the two parts to check fit, by hand when it stuck. No load, no speed, no heat. We gave up trying to unscrew at 2700ft#+. split it and sure enough gall/welded.
In valve trim(operating parts) for high temp, galling is a real issue. I was looking for a tread pattern and material to allow a bonnet to be torqued to 1500ft# be in 2500# steam at about 1300F service for a couple of years and then be unscrewed.
Did more anti-sieze and thread form testing at temp than was enjoyable. Did find that a very expensive titanium di-sulfide spray worked, at $125 an aerosol can. Also found that MolyKote Antisieze 1000 worked and it was about $20 a pound then. I even have a can of the antisieze 1000 at home:)Best antisieze on the market bar none. All of the other neversiezes failed period at 1000F.
   ptree - Friday, 11/21/08 20:07:56 EST

We welded flanges on high pressure valves by friction welding. Went from about 4 valves(8 welds) an hour to 60 seconds a valve max. These were full penetration ASME pressure vessel welds. Never saw a bad weld from this process.
   ptree - Friday, 11/21/08 20:10:20 EST

Judson Yaggy - Mastermyr - Thining and Working - Guru:

I eagerly await the Mastermyr book. It is by all accounts a first rate work.

When I began my general inquiries here a week or so ago I had been working under the assumption that early societies lacked the modern concept of factory production and that ergo, all production was local and so the local smith was the most likely person to have had the knowledge and skills to produce steel when it was needed. Clearly there is much more to it than that. That's why I've been asking after what the rest of you guys have read on this subject. I wish to become reasonably well informed on the subject too, well above and beyond what smithing I have personally done. If I gave the misimpression of being too certain on any particular point then the error was entirely mine. I'm not a hair-shirt-wearing, 11th Century, off-the-grid-wannabe. I'm just a hobbyist with an academic bent whose limited but direct experiences have shaped his initial misapprehensions, er, confusions, er, questions. Particularly about those Mastermyr tools.

Next time I post here I'm going to use some other name than "John L." (which is real) because when I went back over this page to ferret out all the responses, I see that there is another person making inquiries with that same name, only he uses a lowercase 'j'. Hi, john. Who was it that said that technology made things simpler? Never mind.

But seriously, thank you all so very much for the wealth of suggested additions to my reading list. An aspiring smith such as myself, who wishes to become conversant and well informed generally on this subject but who does not have immediate access to quality sources of information because so many of them are out of print, needs the guidance of folks such as yourselves to know where to look. Would I be remiss to suggest to the anvilfire webmaster to provide a reading list, based on this and other suggestions you all might make, of books that every reasonably well informed person ought to have read? It may make a worthy addition to this excellent web site.

Again, thank you all very much.
   John L. - Friday, 11/21/08 20:19:40 EST

Chris F. and anybody else interested in learning more about MIG welding: Check out weldreality.com This is Ed Craig's website. If it seems like He is promoting His books and services, that is because it is. He has put more info on the sight for free than any 10 welding technicians in industry know, but if You want even more information You can buy one of His books.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/21/08 20:49:38 EST

John, We have suggested reading for a couple subjects but not history.

The problem with queries of your sort is that while they are important to us they have not been very important to most historians. Of course many times there just are no clear answers. Rapidily you realize that there are reasons for cliche's such as "the mists of time. . "

We are on the verge of launching new threaded forums with organized topics so it will be easier to keep track of it all. . . Of course then we will have the task of sorting out the old and pointing out the FAQ's at the top of each topic. . .

There will be several major differences. One, is that everyone will be registered and user id's will be based on confirmed email address and aliases will be unique such as on the pub. The other is that users with a validated ID will be able to provide a photo to post. Otherwise they will be able select from a group of avatars. This should be able to help us keep who is who under better control.

We will also be in need of moderators for various subjects. As a threaded system there will be more than one place to look each day and keeping up will a chore in some respects but easier in others.

We are still hammering out the details of user level access and how new threads will be created. It is all VERY different than what I am used to maintaining so at this point I do not like the whole idea but know it MUST come. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/08 20:55:02 EST

Mike BR: I hadn't gotten to Your post when I made the one above, That is THE BEST site of it's kind.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/21/08 20:58:48 EST

Nip: Most TIG welding is done with argon, but for greater heat input argon/helium blends or helium can be used.

For MIG with short circut transfer [most likely the way You will use it] the aditional heat input from CO2 helps a lot. For reduced heat input on thin sheet metal argon/8% CO2 is used rather than the more common argon/15-25% CO2.

If You were using spray transfer You would want at least 80% argon to get a reliable spray mode, but without some CO2 or 1-2% O2 the arc will not be stable. Spray transfer isn't for out of position welding, so it is not as versatile as short circut transfer.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/21/08 21:09:38 EST

A forum R&D Page

This temporary link is to a test page where I have been posting notes to my son who is designing icons and avatars and my brother who is the author of the system our new features will be running on. The text is mostly arcane details to provide content for testing.

In the real thing the images and icons will have links to tell more about what they mean. This is real HTML but is far short of the final product.
   - guru - Friday, 11/21/08 21:12:54 EST

John L; Mastermyr book:

The cutting tools in the Mastermyr chest were basically wrought iron, edged with 40 pt. steel; just enough carbon that you could harden it, but not so much as to require much in the way of tempering (I'm still experimenting). The user would have spent more time sharpening than we're used to, and eventually you might have to re-steel the edge with another strip of steel; but that would persist into the early 19th century.

It's a fascinating book, and I think you'll find much of interest.

Honestly, after pondering the inventory of the chest for many years, and the lack of hafts and handles on many of the tools, I think it was a miscellany of metal and woodworking tools packed into a handy chest, that happened to fall off the back of the Viking equivalent of a moving van and sank into the fen. The assemblage is not comprehensive for any particular craft; it mostly resembles what might be lying around a workshop waiting for various repairs or reuses or conversions. There's just a lot of little bits of everything in there. Also, the chest itself is pretty beat up, with a non-functioning lock. Just the thing to throw the junk into until you can take care of it later.

Just my tuppence.

Cold and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 11/21/08 21:57:12 EST

I'm all for pictures but keep in mind us folks with dial-up. For example, on the abana.org forums if someone adds a couple of photographs it can take a half-hour for the question to download.

On iron, Sweden is suppose to have some of the best iron ore in the world. As I recall either Iceland or Greenland is also rich in high quality iron ore. Would it have been possible to have worked this ore directly or at least with minimum refinement?

One may not think of TN as a iron processing center, but at one time it was using iron ore deposits mostly exposed by creek erosion. Cumberland Furnaces was named for the iron processing furnaces there, which were built something like a flat topped pyramid. I'll send Jock a photograph of a piece of creek ore if he wants to post it.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/22/08 08:42:09 EST

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