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 22 - 31, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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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


I don't know if this is even possible, but maybe you could include a feature that displays *all* the posts from the last 24 or 48 hours in straight chronological order. In other words, so we could have the option of reading everything on one page, just like we do now.

Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but I tried for a month to get used to the multi-threaded format on another popular blacksmith foum. At the end of the month, I was still spending more time clicking that I was reading, and I gave up.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 11/22/08 09:48:15 EST

Reis, E-mail me please, I may have a deal for you on surplused carbide tipped blades for your cold saws. I have 5, and they are metric. Several tooth profiles etc, and they are freshly sharp.
   ptree - Saturday, 11/22/08 10:19:58 EST

Mike-Br, A good suggestion. We can do that since the entire thing will be on a database and we can dump any time period into a template designed for that purpose. It might be possible to allow a user to pick the time period and display a certain number of posts at a time (page at a time).

Ken, There are smart and there are dumb ways to do images. With the tools on the server images can be resized on the fly to thumbnails of any size from little 64x64's to the 128x100 I show on the sample page. Some systems use an HTML resize which means the whole full size image is downloaded and then displayed small. . . Other systems ask the user to resize thumbnails but they often do not. Ours will do so automatically.

In the case of the page art once a corner or edge image is loaded it is used over and over, same with icons and other graphics. Once you visit any one page with these elements the others will be just loading the page code text.

AND, the page will probably not be displayed as it is here with a side bar menu. But we are still working on that.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/08 10:42:45 EST

ptree, oil field drill pipe is made by friction welding 4140 tool joints onto 1340 seamless pipe. Like the flanges, it takes about a minute to make a full wall weld.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/22/08 10:49:57 EST

Tennessee iron:

Ken, in 1830 TN led the US in iron production. Shortly after that the big ore beds at Birmingham, AL were developed and we fell off the map.

You can find a copy of an archaeological/historical report on the TN western highland rim iron industry fairly cheap online, authors are Samuel Smith and Stephen Rogers. It's a pretty good thing to have if you're interested in the industry. I've been puttering about on doing a study of East TN's iron industry, which was pretty big as well. We had 30 to 40 big blast furnaces (those big Mayan pyramid-looking things) between about 1780 and 1850, and several dozen small bloomeries.

The western ore is a red hematite, usually mined from big open pits. The eastern region has three or four different ore types, everything from hematite through goethite (limonite) to pure magnetite. Mining was done by every method available, depending on the deposit.

Both ends of the state went completely out of the iron business by the 1970s. Here in Johnson City, the site of the last blast furnaces is in the process of being redeveloped into condominiums, and yes, I've looked, but the buildings and equipment are long gone. No power hammers lurking in forgotten sheds, unfortunately.

If any of you have ever been to the Cades Cove part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, last summer they found one of the tups off a trip hammer in Abrams Creek not far from Cable Mill. It was just a little one, only about 250 pounds. ;-)
   Alan-L - Saturday, 11/22/08 15:54:52 EST

Guru and Dave--I finally found the sticker to the cylinder on the MIG welder--it is 25% CO2 with the rest Argon. I got some ER70S-6 and finished welding the A36 plate to the bottom of the track--gonna take it into work, heat it up real good and let cool very slowly. Next step is to get the face welded on (gotta get the material, though).

thanks again for all your guys' help!
Chris from Sacramento
   Chris F. - Saturday, 11/22/08 17:27:07 EST

Guru, concerning your proposed change to the anvilfire format.
If I may say, the thing that makes this site stand out from the others (and what I like most about it) is the feeling of a "gathering of friends around the woodstove/kitchen table" that it has.
I belong to a few other web sites of the kind that you are planning and, while they are fine, they are not the ones I check two and sometimes three times a day to see what the talk is (what ever the subject may be)
The knowlage and expeirience contained by you and your "staff of gurus" is inspiring to say the least.
I would not change the format of this web site. However if your advertisers need something more than I guess you have to make changes and that is part of business.
The only thing I would like to be able to do is to post pictures of our latest endevers but, like Ken Scharabok and maybe many others, I only have dial up service and trying to down load a picture (forget about a video) is far to time consuming most of the time.
Some day I'll change that but, I hope that anvilfire will still be what keeps me coming back.
Thanks for this shining star in what is for the most part a sea of garbage.
   - merl - Saturday, 11/22/08 17:55:55 EST

Of corse I forgot to ask my actual question in my last post.
Cris F is making an anvil from the materials he has described and that brought something to mind.
What about "hard surfaceing"?
What if I had a piece of mild steel that I wanted to use for an anvil and used "hard surfaceing rod" to build up the face or a small section of it and then grind it smooth.
Also what about useing hard face rod to repair a damaged face or build up a thin one?
I ask because I remember several years ago useing HSS filler rod to TIG weld a new surface on some rail road track maint equipment and that was about a 1/4" of build up when we were done.
How about it?
   - merl - Saturday, 11/22/08 18:19:51 EST

Early Iron industry dotted the country. Virginia had many small early works that were all abandoned so long ago there is very little to detect where they were except hints of old mines and most of these are also very overgrown. A few "hard rock" tunnel mines exist but quite rare. Many of these small operations were far from civilization and shipped their meager iron to a larger operation in Richmond where the small billets or blooms were consolidated into larger pieces that could be rolled in a mill.

My Ironmaster grandfathers worked in the Southern Ohio "hanging rock" region through the Civil War. But shortly afterwards that entire industry closed as greener pastures (or blacker hills) had been found in the Great Lakes region. There is a family story where all the heirs of my Great Great Grandfather Samuel Dempsey anxiously met for the reading of his will. They all thought they were going to be rich. . . but all they inherited was thousands of shares each of stock in defunct iron furnaces. Most of those properties ended up being owned by the state for lack of paying property taxes and are now state parks.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/08 18:47:52 EST

Jock-- In my opinion, straining all this fascinating chatter into various threads would make it all but impossible to go back and take another look at something. I can never remember which category I saw something in on websites that do that. I like this serial thriller format much better!!! If adding pictures means I have to load them along with the words, I am out of the game altogether what with this 26.4 kbps max Stone Age dial up. If you go visual, please put the snaps in a separate gallery!!
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/22/08 19:49:31 EST

I'm going to try to keep an open mind about changes to the format here, but I really don't like the threaded message style that many forums use. Like Merl, I prefer the free-for-all style. In fact, I completely gave up reading Glenn Connor's site due to the time wasted chasing down threads, among other things. Here, I learn about things I didn't even know I wanted to learn, and occasionally have something to offer someone asking a question I would never have seen in a threaded forum.

I most heartily endorse the addition of photographs, at least in a gallery that viewers can access at their choosing. As noted, those with dial-up service can lose a lot of time waiting for images, and image-heavy pages can be too time-=consuming to even bother with. I'd forgotten this until the recent hurricane took out my DSL and I had to use dial-up for a couple weeks. That certainly changed a lot of what I accessed on the 'net.

Well, change is one of the inevitabilities of life, and I suppose things will be better for it. I do know a LOT of work will be going into making all these changes happen.
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/22/08 19:53:13 EST

I just made the first fire in my fireplace this year, due to the temps getting a little low (ok, it's not cold at all, but I do like a good fire in the living room--Sacramento this time of year is probably considered balmy by most standards).

Anyhow, I was looking at the wonderful coals being made by my efforts to create ambiance, and thought to myself..."could I use this for annealing?..."

So--Has anyone ever tried annealing steel in their fireplace? I use charcoal for forging, normalizing, and annealing, so why couldn't I do the same thing in my fireplace and kill 2 birds with 1 stone (pending wife's permission, of course)?

Chris from Sacramento
   Chris F. - Saturday, 11/22/08 21:13:50 EST

Chris F,

Yes, IF you can get the steel up to annealing temperature without a blower. If you get it to a dark red and slow cool, you're not annealing. You're just froggin' around.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/22/08 21:46:19 EST

Fireplaces: do get hot enough but it takes a big fire. The anneal can be very good due to slow cool off. But if the fire is too hot you get grain growth and actually hurt the steel. And if not hot enough, as Frank says you are just froggin' around. The point is to heat the steel to just the right temperature, then cool slowly.

Shovel out a mix of ashes and hot coals and put your piece to anneal that was heated elsewhere into that and you will get a good slow anneal. I've had ash/coal mixtures from wood stoves stay hot for days due to the fact that the coals are burning VERY slowly while buried in the light ash. Setting a bucket of them outside to cool or on a wood floor can be very dangerous. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/22/08 23:25:20 EST

Merl: If You can get the tool steel or hard surface rods free or cheap I think You could build up a surface to forge on, but keeping it to a fairly small surface would be a good idea. You will want pretty many layers, as the first few will have dilution from the base metal, then You need some extra thickness to allow for grinding to a flat surface.

The tool steel rods I have are stick electrodes, and end up about like H13 or H21, I don't have any that We used at the auto frame plant, but they may have been similar, as they didn't wear as well as A2. If You use hard surface rod, be sure it is for heavy impact use, some are for abrasion resistance only and will be too brittle.

I would not want to build up an area the size of an anvil face. For spot repairs, I don't know, it may work but as I havn't tried I can't say.

When dies were repaird the part was pre heated at 400f before welding and post heated at 400f to temper the HAZ and weld deposit. The tool steel was only a working surface, the broken part as grooved deeply enough to get a few layers of 9018 for strength with enough space for a few layers of tool steel for wear.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 11/22/08 23:48:28 EST

Changes: I hate change more than anyone I know. I would still be using DOS if I had a choice. .

Both the old mish-mash and threaded pages will be available. However, when questions are responded to the responses will be grouped together in the the thread. If will make the information much more valuable. The goal is better automation, easier maintenance and a better user experience.

The problem I am working on now is determining levels of user access. We have been very successful using completely open forums and are probably the oldest site on the net still using this system. We have been very lucky not to be plaqued by Trolls, taggers, and other Internet low lifes. But as soon as you try to keep threads organized and alow folks to upload image files there must be levels of control. Galleries and the forums must also be policed to prevent spamming.

Currently we have:

John Q Public (anyone - no registration)
Pub Members (free registered with return email)
CSI Members (paid members)
Guru and the color guard (lifetime members).

In the new system everyone that posts will need to be registered. The public, anyone, will be free to read as it is now.

CSI members will automatically have a gallery as part of their membership and will be able to upload a photo or graphic "avatar" if they wish as well as having a selection to chose from. There will be a CSI icon that will only show up on member pages. CSI members will also be able to use the gallery to post images to the forums and sales pages. They will also be able to launch new topics and post on-site links in the forums.

Registered Public Users will be able to use the pub, post questions and text only ads on the sales page. They will have to use the available avatars.

Validated Public Users will need to use a credit card to prove identity when they register by paying a small few. This will allow them to have a limited gallery that will come with google ads in a side bar. They will be able to post image thumbnails in forums and the sales pages.

The color guard and moderators will have all the privileges of a CSI member in the forums but will also be able to post off-site links. Both will have the power to start new threads and close threads they start.

I had the idea of having various badges to show experience levels and area's of expertise. But having a clean attractive layout while using them has escaped me.

One suggestion for experience levels was a hand. Slender and bright and pink for a newby, heavier and reddish for a practicing hobbiest, completely blackened for an old pro.

My son the artist was not crazy about it and came up with the hammer and pink ribbon for the newby but has not had ideas for the rest. . .

But between experience level, membership, area of expertise, color guard/moderator and a flag things get a bit cluttered.

The new forum test page
   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/08 00:51:29 EST

The reason why it's survived trolling, spambots DDOS attacks etc. is because it's using such an old system. In fact I didn't even know this was old, just thought it was different as I'm used to browsing phbb forums.

But it looks good so far, it would certainly make finding stuff easier.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 11/23/08 02:33:24 EST

Our fourms are based on the very first free guest-book system the same as used by the old Blacksmiths Junkyard. . . The big difference here is I made it work in frames with a seperate input form. Later I added the color guard system and cookies. Then I changed the display format a few years later and added our slightly buggy e-mail encryption. Most recently I added the google ads.

But the basic software dates from 1996-7. Most of what has changed is the HTML and a few lines in the old script.

But I think the reason its survived trolling so well is it is constantly maintained. The problem with threaded forums is that when you have too many threads you can end up with open threads that are ignored. The other reason is that we generally do not allow HTML, images or links. Spammers want to get their message out. When I recently blocked ALL HTML and links from our contact forms the spammers hacked away at them for a while then gave up.

Our new system will be based on proprietary code my brother developed that is not a standard off the shelf system. That provides a lot of advantage when the hackers do not have all the source code to play with.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/08 09:46:45 EST

We had a dandy of a fire out in the arroyo behind the wood shop after the gent in the guest house dumped what he thought were cold ashes from his woodstove. Fire got into the root system and was smouldering merrily underground. Took a pumper truck to put it out. Beware CHARCOAL-- isn't using it indoors for heating a good way to get dead? HARD surface rod takes a lot of pre-heat on an anvil. Otherwise you get transverse cracking on the beads. And it is not necessary for all practical purposes. Plain vanilla 6011 will hold up fine for occasional use.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 11/23/08 10:13:31 EST


Why do the people new to smithing have to be denoted by PINK? How about different sized hammers or anvils?
   Robert Cutting - Sunday, 11/23/08 16:24:30 EST

Interesting ideas for the forum layout Jock, I Like to scan through at least a couple of times a week, The thing I like about the current layout is I read, and Learn about things I would not 'Click' onto an individual thread (alla IFI etc) to read, ie, I learn stuff accidently, and quite like that.

Every once in a while I throw in a bit of advice I hope is useful in my specialist subject area, power hammers.

I can see advantages to your new system, but doubt I will continue to frequent.
   - John N - Sunday, 11/23/08 16:57:34 EST

It was part of the progression of the dirty/calloused hand concept.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/08 16:58:29 EST

When I lived in Dayton, OH several times I saw where a garbage truck had dumped there load in a vacant lot or such due to a fire likely caused by hot fireplace ashes. After being hosed down I suspect it wasn't a lot of fun to reload.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/23/08 17:18:11 EST

I got bored after school one day so i tried making fire bricks, and i know you can use wood ashes to anneal so i used alot of ashes so it may insulate decently and i let it air dry. It was fairly tough and i was happy but if i fired them would they be tougher?
   - James Kryle - Sunday, 11/23/08 19:38:53 EST

The New Forum

I know Guru has great ideas and he is trying to make things better. Like everyone I resist change too. I also embrace good change as well.

This change sounds too much like the Iforge site I am a member of. It is such a pain signing in and hunting all day for stuff. I am not convinced it is totally the right direction to discourage people from reading and posting. I really don't want to look at my ugly mug or yours with the avitars. It is truely insultive to start classing folks. Especially designating people with pink colors.

I know Guru has great intentions. I know most of the changes will work toward efficiency. I will become like most and not view the forum anymore if it starts looking like every other cumbersome forum.

As for the Avitars. I will use the Tom P avitar for example. No bad towards him at all. He is a great person. The photo is funny in many respects with his horned hat and braided goatie. It is also Vulgar and devilish looking. If you know him and see him at an event it is different. Based by that appearence you couldn't take him seriously and I would be scared off as a newbie. I don't want to see that mug. You certainly don't want to see my ugly mug. I hate the slow forums with those stupid avitars.

Now If I get designated with the pink color. My Avitar will be a big pink hairy Vulva.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 11/23/08 21:07:58 EST

Sorry, didn't mean to come off vulgar or insultive in any way.

   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 11/23/08 21:10:55 EST

Help: Hey folks, I am looking for input! Nothing is set in stone at this time (but we are getting VERY close to making the important decisions). Part of the problem is that it takes me a significant part of a day to archive the guru'd den each week and I am WAY WAY behind. . . We also get behind in pub and CSI registrations both of which need to be automated (years ago). The automation is to help as well as modernize. We have literally an encyclopedia's worth of information in our archives but it is almost impossible to use as is.

There are many examples. Take anvil identification. Ken and I and a few others have identified hundreds of anvils on these pages and in the mail. It would be a useful reference to have a single thread on anvil identification.

We have had many many posts on finishes of the years and even though I wrote a thin article on the subject prior to launching anvilfire the questions come up over and over and over.

Same for getting started. We have a fair article on the subject but for a long time it has needed to be split into paths for the teen/hobbiest, practicing non-professional, professional and those that want to craft a masters progeram for themselves.

There are many many more. But our goal will be to limit the total number of threads and only open new ones when they deserve it rather than willy nilly ending up with a thousand dead end threads that end with a question and no response.

Once a subject is beat to death we can close it and what you have is the equivalent of a FAQ or one ready to edit.

The use of photos, avatars and ranking will be voluntary. We often get off onto the wrong track or give the wrong advice because we do not know if the person asking is 16 or 60, has decades of experience or has not yet picked up a hammer. It is also how many modern forums operate. You can post a photo of a kitten if you like just not anything off color. We are STILL a family forum.

Maintaining your member profile will be up to you with the exception of identifying yourself as a CSI member or a moderator. Only top level admins will be able to set those properties. Some of the icons we are developing are strictly for the color guard and moderators. Others will be for public use but anyone will be able to select from those.

I am only the member of a couple threaded forums and I know many of their weaknesses. I also run across them in many places while doing searches and see some really BAD forums. Those I absolutely despise and WILL put into a do-not-search filter is those that not only must you register just to read them but pay to access them at all. . .

This is a work in progress but it is coming REAL soon.

The photo of Thomas P. is from our NEWS. It is a sample in the test as is my very old image. . . If Thomas wants it pulled all he has to do is say so. The photo of Sandra (my sometimes apprentice) is one of the better one's I had of her. She is so busy in her college classes and love life that I doubt she would ever use our forums. I needed something that did not look like a drivers' license photo for variety.

   - guru - Sunday, 11/23/08 22:53:50 EST


Sounds like you have the forum well thought out. Know what will work and what will not. Thanks for the details. I think some of us got scared. Didn't want to see a good thing spoiled.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/24/08 01:27:30 EST


Is it possible to run the threaded forum but maintain a parallel chron file (which is essentially what this forum is now). In other words, all posts would be made to the appropriate thread, but then automatically copied to a single page in purely chronological order. That way, those of us who have grown accustomed to the free for all of this page will still have a record to go back over, preserving the experience of reading all the news that's fit to print and not having to remember what thread it was posted on, while the actual discussions take place in the more orderly threads. One could read all of the day's postings from the chron page, just to keep up, and jump to a specific thread for the focussed discussion there. Seems to me any programmer worth his salt could set that up easily. Its done in business office filing systems for the very reason that some office workers may need to pull or file a document that is difficult to classify but of known or important date. No posting directly to the chron page, but everything gets copied there. Seems to me that would preserve one of the best features of the present forum while instituting the improvements.
   Peter Hirst - Monday, 11/24/08 05:33:19 EST

I'm not convinced by the proposed use of threads. To me, threads are largely used _because_ they don't need to be explicitely controlled or archived. It's counterintuitive to impose the proposed limititations.
Perhaps 'tags' could be used instead? A limited number of tags could be created. When an article is posted, the author selects one or more tags. This acheives many of the above aims, retains the familiar style and avoids the clunky use of threads.
The internet is huge. Unless one is specifically trying to be a leader in UI design, it seems better to find a couple sites with a great UI then blend and imitate them
   andrew - Monday, 11/24/08 07:25:14 EST

Since you asked:

I visit three blacksmithing forums: AnvilFire, IFI, and the FarwestForge clone of Forgemagic (the original Forgemagic is an open forum and is not well moderated, and totally polluted w/ spam; the FarwestForge requires a simple registration, and is moderately moderated, and is spam-free.)

I check this site every morning for the latest discussion of USABLE INFORMATION. I skim through the latest posts, and read only the ones of interest to me. This is my go-to site for technical info, and would be my choice if I had to pick only one!

The IFI site I brows only if I have spare time. More for entertainment rather than enlightenment, but I do stumble across some inspirational gems occasionally. I generally avoid the pic galleries; their even more tedious to navigate than the forums.

The FarwestForge I check regularly. This is more like a loose family discussion, and I find the image Gallery very inspirational and informative. This is where I post pics of my own work, despite my work’s amateurish nature. Not as much technical info, more like seeing what’s going on around a virtual neighborhood. Very friendly.

So the Different sites serve Different wants / needs. For any of these to become a clone of another would lessen the virtual blacksmith experience. Each is good at what they do.

What would I like to see Maestro Guru improve here?:

-Pics would be cool, but done in a way more like FarwestForge Gallery, less like IFI.

-Using the primitive AnvilFire archive search tools we have here now is almost a complete waste of time. Add a way to efficiently search for info on specific topics. However, I still like the input of the newly posted info to flow in through one gate – like Guru’s Den . I realize that we may not be able to have both with the current AnvilFire Resources.

-What’s an Avatar; that cheesy little image that accompanies ones post heading? Not interested – save it for face book or whatever. I just want info, not bells and whistles.
   Dave Leppo - Monday, 11/24/08 08:01:34 EST

Personally, I like the threaded idea. I cruise iForgeIron as often as here and have no problems looking through the links. I look at the date of the last post in a subject and decide to enter if there's something I haven't read before. Once in, the threads with new posts show up highlighted and I can pick which ones I want to read. It's turned into a very busy forum, and I don't think I'd like scrolling through everything that got posted since the last time. But different strokes...

However, the tag concept would be real interesting. I don't think I've run across a forum set up that way, but my Gmail is very similar with assignable labels and threaded "conversation". I warmed up quickly to that format and much prefer it to the old-fashioned chronological email. I know that email programs can be configured to look somewhat like Gmail, I've never found it to be very accurate in the way things were grouped.

Having the ability to assign multiple tags to a post adds quite a bit of usefulness. It's more of a database that way and gives some flexibility to the way posts can be organized and searched.

Now if the new forum could still have a chronological view, that would be the best of both worlds. Something for everyone.

I do agree with maybe rethinking pink for newbies. How about green? We have "Green Coal" areas at our meets for those new to smithing. Green is kind of a color of inexperience: "Greenhorn".
   - Marc - Monday, 11/24/08 08:10:14 EST

Ok, I checked out the test forum. Confirms my distaste for Avatars, Icons, Signatures, Etc. Looks cheesy. Looks like it takes a lot of extra screen space, too.

Besides, unlike Guru, I don't have any pics of myself 20 years ago, and I age much less gracefully. (kidding)
   - Dave Leppo - Monday, 11/24/08 08:13:12 EST

Hi Guru,
As you are looking for opinions from users of this site, let me add mine. In his post above, Peter Hirst's suggestion exactly coincides with mine; a chronological forum alongside a threaded one. Using this current Guru's Den format as an example; a few days ago, Mike BR suggested looking at Ed Craig's welding site, which interested me so I navigated away from the conversation here to take a look at it, then returned to Anvilfire to follow the running conversation. In a similar way, I would expect that I would be inclined to follow the chronological file of posts, and veer off into threaded discussions when they interested me, if this site was restructured to allow that. I am 100% in favor of confirmed registration for all who wish to post here. Thanks So Much for your efforts!
   - Charlie Spademan - Monday, 11/24/08 08:25:30 EST

Dave, what are the problems with IFI gallery? With a couple clicks, it looks very much like Farwest. Or maybe it's just the way I use Farwest.

I pretty much always just look at the recent photos of each site. Farwest gives a quick link to all the recent ones, which is nice. On IFI, I go to the gallery, click on the drop-down to view 90 per page, and then view the most recent 7 days.

One thing about a gallery, I wish the posters would put some descriptions in there more often. Some do, but many don't. Sometimes I click on something and have no idea what they're trying to show. Maybe a gallery that required the post to put something in the description would be better.

More comments on the upcoming new AnvilFire site:
. Don't lose the iForge information. That got me going in my early years and is something I recommend to anyone starting out. Maybe if the new s/w frees up some time, that can get active again.

. Keep the Mass3j calculator. I don't use it all that often, but it's a great resource when I do need it that I haven't found elsewhere.

. Don't care one way or the other about avatars. If you decide to keep them, just make them out of the way so that I can ignore them.

. Put in a language checker that doesn't allow "u" for "you", nor any of the other text message shortcuts, and forces capitalization and punctuation. OK, just kidding on this one.... sort of.
   - Marc - Monday, 11/24/08 08:29:58 EST

Marc, How about a Green Horn?
   - Charlie Spademan - Monday, 11/24/08 08:30:29 EST

Dave, what are the problems with IFI gallery? With a couple clicks, it looks very much like Farwest. Or maybe it's just the way I use Farwest.

I pretty much always just look at the recent photos of each site. Farwest gives a quick link to all the recent ones, which is nice. On IFI, I go to the gallery, click on the drop-down to view 90 per page, and then view the most recent 7 days.

One thing about a gallery, I wish the posters would put some descriptions in there more often. Some do, but many don't. Sometimes I click on something and have no idea what they're trying to show. Maybe a gallery that required the post to put something in the description would be better.

More comments on the upcoming new AnvilFire site:
. Don't lose the iForge information. That got me going in my early years and is something I recommend to anyone starting out. Maybe if the new s/w frees up some time, that can get active again.

. Keep the Mass3j calculator. I don't use it all that often, but it's a great resource when I do need it that I haven't found elsewhere.

. Don't care one way or the other about avatars. If you decide to keep them, just make them out of the way so that I can ignore them.

. Put in a language checker that doesn't allow "u" for "you", nor any of the other text message shortcuts, and forces capitalization and punctuation. OK, just kidding on this one.... sort of.
   - Marc - Monday, 11/24/08 08:30:46 EST

I can live with almost any format you choose, Jock. As for designation of "status", how about a small ball peen for beginners, a nice 2# cross peen for advanced, a big sledge hammer for the really advanced members, and a power hammer for moderators?
   quenchcrack - Monday, 11/24/08 08:48:51 EST

Change/Update Points:

  • ALL our old content will remain exactly where it is! We are not starting from scratch with an all new layout. We are just adding threaded fourms, a sales page and replacing out cart code. There are other things that the system will do but that will come with time.

  • I agree on the chronological or semi/chron list of posts. I think I now have a plan to keep them but will organize by thread elsewhere

  • Captions should always exist but that is a user problem. But if we make it easy to do they might be more inclined.

  • I can reduce the width of the user ID column by a 1/3 and still keep the existing design pretty much.

  • I like the "green - horn". Will think on it.

  • The photo of me is more like 40 years old. . .

   - guru - Monday, 11/24/08 09:47:22 EST

I forgot to list gallery in the NEW. . .

Note that the new system will let you edit your posts until the thread is closed (time will vary).

One reason I thought you guys might like your face on the page is that years ago we had a "Rogues Gallery" for the pub and quite a few folks were in it. Sadly we lost it (images and software) during a server move. . .
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/08 09:52:31 EST

Here is my input as a newb smith that sometimes asks questions, but mostly lurks:

1. I like the idea presented above regarding porting new posts into a chrono list. I really don't want to
lose the conversational quality of the Guru's Den. It's what keeps me coming back. :)

2. Just say no to avatars. IMHO, they are wasted space on a limited landscape. Member status icons would be
fine, I think. Or maybe limit the avatars to upper level statuses (i.e. $ members).

3. I like your basic layout of the proposed forum, but please please please, no pink ribbons. I like the
green coal idea. I'm not a pink ribbon kind of guy except for when it comes to Susan G. Komen runs.

4. Am I to understand that only CSI Members, Lifetime members, and moderators will be able to Start new threads? If that is the case, then I support you.

That is all I have at the moment. Good luck with it. They are not easy to set up and I really appreciate all of the hard work you have put into this.
   Rob Dobbs - Monday, 11/24/08 10:06:30 EST

Jock-- It's your website and I will defend to the death, etc., but what's wrong with it the way it is? Only thing you need, seems to me, is a separately loadable gallery. Keep the micro-management to a minimum, the type as large as possible and minimize the graphics on the text pages for the sake of us Stone Age dial-uppers, puhleeeeze! Whatever, many thanks for a great site!!
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/24/08 10:22:28 EST

For my part, I think the the duller-than-dishwater Pub could be flushed down the drain. Who cares if you're cleaning you storage shed, getting your clunker fixed, or that your driveway is muddy?

   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/24/08 10:34:09 EST

I take off for three days to demo at the Festival of the Cranes and y'all go wild!

John Joseph L: take a look at "currancy bars" strips of iron traded back in the early days of the iron age. You also seem to have the belief that you cannot cut wood with wrought iron. Untrue, it doesn't work as well as a hardened steel edge but it works; shall we assume that people never used wagons since they don't work nearly as well as a modern pickup? Note that much early woodwork was done using green wood, much easier to cut! Techniques also differed---like burning in holes rather than drilling.

The use of intentionally quench hardened carbon containing irons seems to date to the roman times with earlier use of both carbon and phosphorous containing irons a bit earlier in that time period; cf "The Celtic Sword" by Radomir Pleiner for a lot of metallographic information on swords of that early time period. (Note that even un quenched hardened iron with more carbon or phosphorous is harder/tougher than "milder" versions)

Except for a few quite rare examples on remote norse farmsteads where small scale bloomeries seem to have been run for local use; folks in general have traded for their metal from the experts. I've been a part of a bloomery crew and it took us *years* to get good at it and we have the advantage of knowing what we are supposed to be doing and not having to drop everything to produce our own food and charcoal to cover a run.

For working with steel around 1120 see "Divers Arts", Theophilus which discusses such things as hardening and case hardening steel at that time period.

Going into the high middle ages you do find "natural steels" created using bloomeries---high carbon blooms; they are trickier to make since as you add carbon the melting temp goes down and get a bit too much heat/carbon and you end up with "useless" cast iron.

"The Knight and the Blast Furnace", Alan Williams is a GREAT resource on the metallurgy of medieval armour and so a lot of information on what was available and used. He is one of today's leading authorities on this subject.

I would also suggest "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel" C.S.Smith that starts in the 1500's and follows the "hunt" for what made steel steel and ends in 1786 IIRC with someone slapping their forehead and saying "it's carbon!!!" It's taken from original sources and is translated into english for ease of reading. The lists of renaissance quenchant suggestions is quite humerous to read.

Agricola and Biringuccio halve already been mentioned.

"Mechanicks Exercises" Moxon, published in 1703 but written slightly earlier covers available "types" of iron and how to test them and what they are good for. (Make sure you get one that has the blacksmithing section in it as a subset just covering printing is more common)


   Thomas P - Monday, 11/24/08 12:21:45 EST

Solid Phase Welding of Metals, Tylecote, has information on this process in excruciating detail.

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/24/08 12:25:29 EST

Ken, the "high grade" ores of Scandanavia are still just that---ores and as such you *cannot* pop them in a forge and work them into metal. (unless you use a catalan forge which in reality is just a type of bloomery furnace and not a true "forge".)

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/24/08 12:27:51 EST

For the iforge rose petal pattern how much should I enlarge it to print it out and use for a pattern?


   Aaron - Monday, 11/24/08 12:28:03 EST

Guru; what about the temper colours to indicate "time in grade"?

And feel free to use my picture if you like; I've sadly grown used to what I look like though I noticed that I still scare dogs and children at the Demo I did recently.

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/24/08 12:29:51 EST

Aron, It depends on how big a rose you want to make. Normally the largest flower shape in the pattern is about 4" (100mm) across.

I have also made flowers such as tulips from squares and triangles of metal. An equilateral triangle (about 4 to 5" [100 to 125mm] on a side) notched on the flats and the corners rounded makes a nice flower and is much easier to cut out.
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/08 12:41:05 EST

More Possibilities See sample: Opens in new window.

I've posted more of the icons my son is working on. The one for Artist Blacksmith is pretty sharp. I am still after him to increase contrast and brighten things up. The one he had for "Historian" has a three corner hat which does not apply to but a short time span. Would be nice for some reenactors.

Temper Colors. . . not too many people would understand the progression. However, I had thought of just plain old graph bars. . . One for age, one for experience. See example.

** A mature newby

** A very experienced young person

*_ A young newby. . ..

But it is difficult to tell from a 3/4" tall graph just what someones experiance level is. . Next to a 64 pixel image we could use a bar one pixel tall per year. When your age bar is taller than you image you are retirement age. . Experience in combined metal working trades would need to be combined I think. . . not sure anyone would be happy with this one.
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/08 13:34:35 EST

I really don't understand all this designating people as newbies etc... I understand CSI, board members and moderators. Are we going to all get togethor and have a hammer off to determine our status? Only CSI members, board and mods starting threads...dumb!! Why I left the knife website. Same people always chatting about the same dull stuff. Good informative info hindered.

Why not just leave it alone and add a gallery and forsale page you can charge for use. Dump the pup. It is boring and outlived its day.

I like being able to quickly scan the site the way it is set up. Iforgeiron is a nice site but too much of a pain to find stuff and information. farwestforge and forgemagic are really lack luster and boring compare to this site. The gallery is the only really awesome thing they have to offer. Otherwise just the same homies talking about the same old stuff. Like the Larson I welded this today and bolted that down and fixed my truck. Same type post I have fell alseep on 1000 times before.

I wouldn't fix something that isn't broke. The art work your son did is very nice. With that and the Avatars it has a bubble video game appearence. I don't like video games. This isn't world of warcraft.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/24/08 14:37:24 EST

Rather than age and experience bars, what about a hidden history log only accessible by the Gurus, which simply records number of posts, and date of first and last post. That would give Gurus some idea of the person’s experience level, relative to this forum, anyway.

Also, I wouldn’t want to be classified into a specialty (Blade smith, Artist, etc.) I’ve tried all the specialties with various successes, other than metallurgy and teaching. Rather, use these categories to archive the info by topic in a searchable format after it cycles thru the current page.
   - Dave Leppo - Monday, 11/24/08 15:36:11 EST

This is the kind of thing I was thinking of. The art needs work. . . OK, They look like Thanksgiving turkeys.. . .

Maybe I am over thinking it. But for years we have asked people to give us a clue about their experience level. This would be strictly an honor system. Although I WAS considering a brief questionnaire that that would return a suggested level and you could go from there.

Some forums rank people on the number of posts they make which really tells you little other than participation. But then you end up with lots a brief "me too" postings and the thing end ups meaning nothing.

Another way to do it is with an experience number (0 to 100). . . again, based on an honor system. But if no one is interested we can just drop it altogether.

   - guru - Monday, 11/24/08 16:50:34 EST

Every user/member will have a profile that they can make public. If they want to write a short bio or list their age or experience they could.
   - guru - Monday, 11/24/08 16:53:50 EST

Newbies etc. I don't think the term newbie is being or meant to insult anyone but is more to streamline responses to queries to the skill level of the asker. I.E. if I ask about nail making between 1477 and 1498 Thomas will answer based on my experience level the percentage between 3 and 4 clout nails rather than wasting his time telling me exactly how a nail is made, or telling me about the type of repousse done on the nails of the east door of the Willendorf Cathedral.
   JimG - Monday, 11/24/08 16:55:33 EST

It's not clear to me how you would put folks in categories of skill. I know folks (old and young) that have only a year or so of experience that have more blacksmithing skills than others that have been hanging around for 20 years. There are others that offer very useful information that support the blacksmithing community that may be very unskilled in blacksmithing. What category are you going to put them in? Your discussion of categorization smells a little of cliques to me and I expect will be rather insulting to a great part of your audience.
   - djhammerd - Monday, 11/24/08 17:14:19 EST

Hey Jock, Some of the standard B.B software works great, have a look over at my home from home www.britishblades.com

There is a 'Reputaion' (rep) system in place that allows other users to give 'rep' points depending on quality of your posts, ( from the 'rep' you know immediatly if the info is by a new memeber, or experinced, or well respected person.) Folks post count is also shown, so you can make judgement on quantity of posts -v- rep points to see the 'quality' of their posts. threads can be 'rated' to indicate their perceived quality & very accuratly searched.

Subjects can also be made 'sticky' ie they stay at the top of the listings, would work well for 'anvil id' , 'getting started' etc.

Have a look / search on the 'cutlers forge' section of the site.

British Blades is very well moderated and spam free, and IMHO works alot better than IFI.

Im not saying Anvilfire should be another clone site, but you may want to consider not re-inventing the wheel. There is good software outthere that makes for good well moderated, educational forums that tick all the boxes you are targeting.

my 2p (ok 2c's) worth :) appreciate all the work you put in.
   - John N - Monday, 11/24/08 17:15:03 EST

a bit more,...

On the British Blade site you can click on any members name and see their user profile, last posts, threads started etc, again lets you make a fairly accurate judgement call on the quality of the information you are being offered.

All photos on the site are 'img' code which keeps your bandwidth to a minimum

thanks again!
   - John N - Monday, 11/24/08 17:21:36 EST

nobody other than the person themself would rating the skill level.
   JimG - Monday, 11/24/08 17:27:10 EST

Someone may have mentioned this above, one feature I do like about the IFI site is the ability to edit your posts. Even better would be a site that didn't insert typos and misspellings as soon as you hit the post button -- but I haven't found one of those yet (grin).
   Mike BR - Monday, 11/24/08 18:04:42 EST

I am currently installing my Massey 5cwt hammer and after spending a bunch of time making sure the bottom of the hole for the anvil is perfectly level. I put the anvil in the other day and today in checking if the top is level I found it is out by quite a bit. I have started to jack it up and am thinking of putting a strip of 1/2 hardwood plywood about 8" wide under the side that is low. John N is this sort of thing something you have seen before? Will this stand up
   - JNewman - Monday, 11/24/08 18:19:19 EST

I just don't get this preoccupation with status and foufouraw-- not, mind you, that it matters one whit whether I do or not. I Forge Iron and British Blades are both tightly supervised to a faretheewell. For example British Blades once purged some innocuous pictures of Alyson Hannigan in her skivvies, delightful and highly useful info, on the ground that it was porn, which it was not. I Forge Iron banned me once (after I told the moderator to piss off) because I had the temerity to ask the brethren to let me take a peek at a contact wheel chart that Texas Knifemakers wants an outrageous price for, on the ground, so claimed the moderator, that my request was suborning copyright theft, which it is not-- if it were, every public library in the land would shut down. Setting up a bunch of similarly tightassed pecksniffian censors and a similarly bewildering array of symbols is not the way to go, methinks.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/24/08 19:22:47 EST

Jock again sounds like you have it well thought out. Really you can do anything you desire with it. We will all live with it and probably grow to really like it.

You're son is a very very good artist and I mean no foul concerning his art at all.

The current EXAMPLE looks like an old outdated children's videogame with the non-scale bubble look. Remember the old japan tin cars. They are called bubble cars because they are not made to scale and are bulgy and rounded. That is what the example looks like to me with those child like hammers, anvils swords and avatars.

I do have an out of the box thought on the anvil identification section for Ken S you mentioned. Is there some way to pull in all the current anvils listed on ebay and as they are listed. Then you can set up a few dozen identiying catch phrase Ken can just drop and click in the ebay message system for each sellers anvil. Much more efficient and a great time saver for him. It would save alot of hastle in this service being performed. Just a brain storm. I wouldn't know how to make it work.
   - Rustystuff - Monday, 11/24/08 19:30:10 EST

J Newman, send me a mail at the address on my website and ill try and give some thoughts when I get a few mins...
   - John N - Monday, 11/24/08 19:49:23 EST

For the experience level, it could be something based on the number of years into the craft, however the obvious flaw being what percentage of those years was actually spent blacksmithing.

I can say that I have been blacksmithing for a year now, but what it would really amount to is a few weekends here and there when I had time to spare, black smithing skill like most things also declines with long periods spent not practicing the craft. I found out this summer that I'd forgotten pretty much everything I had learned last winter before I was forced to stop blacksmithing because of my equipment being buried under 2 feet of snow.
   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 11/24/08 20:44:29 EST

Correction: online dictionary (Merriam-Wbster) spells it foofaraw. Sorry. If we are going to have a lot of doodads, avatars and emblems of our expertise, I propose anvils of various colors. I'd like mine sunny side up-- and slightly cracked, please.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 11/24/08 20:49:54 EST

Guru, lots of good ideas here concerning YOUR new web site.
It is after all yours to do with as you will.
I feel like I should apologise for being so selfish as to expect you to sit at a desk all day operating and managing this user free web site for us.
Do what you have to do to make it work for you. I would be honerd to have most any of you drop in unexpectedly at any time of day or nite at my shop and chew the fat on what ever topic was nawing at you but, woah onto thee that comes waltsing in and tells me everything I'm doing is not to their liking and there for wrong.
I will say this about "rateings" They are rude and arbitraily useless.
I like QC's idea with the hammers but, who decideds how someone is rated and based on what critearia? (hopefuly not on spellling
I used to spend as much time on the CNC Zone web site as I do here with alot of postings ect... right up untill the time they asked me to be a moderator I was still being referd to as a "chip sweeper"
I know were I stand as a machinist and I don't need anyones approval. I am certainly mature enough that I'm not botherd by some arbitrary symbol attached to my name, let me be judged by my words and deeds.
Not everyone my be so confident in themselves.
I like the color guard designation but forget the rateings.
Don't pay no never mind to us old guys with the cement shoes on... we's just whinein' any way.
   - merl - Monday, 11/24/08 21:22:58 EST

I have been forging for about a year and got a deal on an excellent anvil. I need to know more about the anvil; it has a raised "C" inside a triangle, raised "S" and raised "N" on each of the two workside legs. It feels like 300 pounds or just a bit less. It is not a London pattern but shaped similar to a Nimba anvil. Columbian Hardware?
Thank you.
   Jeff Hubanks - Monday, 11/24/08 21:28:34 EST

Geez Nabiul Haque, only two feet!? what was the problem? (hee,hee) our first real snow of the season today was about 6"
   - merl - Monday, 11/24/08 22:47:26 EST

I don't think ratings are worth much thought. the cream will rise too the top. I know that when I am scanning the log and see certain people chime in I straighten up a bit. If people fill out a bio as well thats enough for me.

The main thing is that that the search function does not work (maybe I am doing it wrong) and so much good stuff escapes all but the most thorough readers.
   jamie - Monday, 11/24/08 23:21:14 EST

Wow!! Merl made alot of sense. We would all be happy with whatever you do and makes life easier for you Guru. How it looks doesn't really matter.
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 11/25/08 00:06:06 EST

Nimba Like Anvil: Jeff, There are a number of makers in Europe still making the Italian style anvils. I know at least one is supposedly forged but I know nothing more about it. They are not imported into the U.S. in quantity but there are a few samples that have been brought in and then resold.

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 00:39:47 EST

Spelling and Typos: Both are subject to using the wrong word, duplicates and those that sound alike. The only typo error machines can easily pick up it doubled words.

I have found that using FireFox which comes with a built in spell check has been a great help. However, like many it misses quite a few technical terms. I almost never add them as "personal" to the list. But I DID think it would be a good idea to come up with a list of these words, vet them and then distribute them. Just cut paste, proof and accept every one. . .

Colored anvils: That was going to be one of the differentiations available. Still working on various categories and so on. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 01:03:01 EST

Power Hammers with seperate anvils: JNewman, Many of these castings are pretty rough or out of parallel on the bottom. Instruction manuals for many of these machines call for anchoring a hardwood surface on the concrete OR stacked timbers then fitting the anvil to the surface. This requires numerous fittings by setting and removing the anvil. Paint on the base is used like bluing. A precision level is used on the dovetail or die surface. Then when the hammer is set around the anvil it too is leveled true to the earth and to the anvil. To keep it centered paired wood wedges are used in the gap between the frame and anvil. The Massey manual calls for cutting these off level and fitting a ring of angle iron over the wedges to protect them from scale and working out.

I would take a different approach to the anvil. I would level the anvil with metal or hardwood shims nailed or screwed into place. I would then coat the bottom of the anvil with parting agent, apply several tubes of industrial epoxy anchoring compound to the wood surface and then reset the anvil into the wet epoxy. A few minutes later the epoxy will be set and will fit like the proverbial glove. If you want added strength tack a layer of fiberglass cloth to the surface of the base. The epoxy will push through and if it cracks later it will stay in place.

While there are often plans for these hammer foundations they do not include the surrounding access holes for getting to the anvil and leveling it OR for later maintenance if it needs to be raised or shimmed again. In industry these hole are covered with deck plating (con be slippery) or lift out concrete covers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 01:20:30 EST

Jeff Hubanks: According to Anvils in America, pages 210-9-221, Columbian Hardware did make a double horned anvils in which the buttom sat up on legs (page 219) which was called Series S.A. Page 220 has one with a typical U.S. anvil base called Series F. These were intended for export. Perhaps the series represented countries such as South America and France? The 'feels like' weight estimate is very imprecise. 20 years ago my 160 lb one felt like 160, today it feels more like 260.

Postman indicates raised letters on Columbian are likely foundry or mold marks.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/25/08 06:11:52 EST

I would vote for dropping the experience tags. As someone mentioned above (I'm too lazy to spin my little scroll wheel to find out who said it) - The cream rises. It really doesn't take long to figure out who knows what about what. Anyone new to the forum only needs to read through a few days worth to find out.

And even if experience level were somehow indicated - what do we do with it? I don't target my questions to anyone in particular. Should I ignore someone's answer because they rate themselves lower? If someone with a high self-rating asks a repousse question, how much does he know about repousse? Do you go into detail or assume that his high rating says he knows enough?

   - Marc - Tuesday, 11/25/08 08:09:48 EST

C'mon Miles, just let it all hang out and tell us what you really feel. I have to agree, an avatar is a waste of space, a user rating is useless unless we establish criteria to make such judgements, and a highly supervised posting monitor kinda takes the fun out of it. At the other end of the spectrum is what "Forge Magic" has become. I'm just here to pound "arn"....
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/25/08 08:37:16 EST

does anyone have a rule of thumb for the minimum volume of oil required to safely quench steel? would think it would be a function of mass and temperature.
   kirt - Tuesday, 11/25/08 09:26:47 EST

Columbian double horned anvil: Isaac Doss had one in NW AR, a 400#'r IIRC and it was a beaut! Columbians are a cast *steel* anvil and a good grade of one too!

(When I met Isaac he had been a professional smith for over 60 years, retired 4 times but the folks who took over the shop just were not able to put in the work he did to keep it a going business; He has a goose wing broad axe in the Smithsonian collection, he made it for my wife but when they came a calling he asked if he could give it to them as he had retired again due to cataracts---later removed and he unretired, again).

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/25/08 10:36:21 EST

Oil: Kirt, I do not know of any but it is more for oil than water. Oil is lower density, circulates slower and does not evaporate as readily. When it does it is near the flash point which is a safety hazzard. The result is that it is not nearly as fast a quenchant and it requires considerably more (I would say a minimum of 3 times for a single quench). In industry they pump it through a cooling system OR have water cooling loops and radiators to prevent overheating. Oil quenches are also started at 90 to 130°F (32 to 55°C) but do not want to start higher.

I looked in a bunch of my blacksmithing and technical references including some odd ball ones like "Mechanical Laboratory Methods" and "Hardness and Hardness Measurement" with no result. The problem is that there are many types of oils used for quenching ranging from vegatable, mineral and water based products, slurries and water soluable oils to modern water based synthetic quenchants. These present a great range of differences including densities and flash points. So there is no practical rule of thumb other than "more is better than not enough".
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 12:50:56 EST

Quenching in oil; a couple of more additions.

Unlike brine and water, warm oil at about 100º to 140ºF has a greater cooling velocity than room temperature oil because of it's decreased viscosity at these temperatures.

I have found it difficult to partially quench a piece in oil, because the oil often flashes and burns. It is safer to completely submerge the hot workpiece and agitate.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/25/08 14:25:41 EST

On another forum, I recently saw a picture of a new beast- a Chinese anvil that is cast iron with a steel top plate.
it is ugly and ungainly, but, of course, extremely cheap.
I wonder, however, how they attach the steel top plate to the cast anvil?
Is it some modern version of the old Fisher process?
Or, perhaps more likely, maybe they just edge weld it on.

The anvil is a "Wisdom" brand from Americanprestocorp.com
and they sell it in a 25kg and 50 kg size.

There is a better pic of it on the welders forum at weldingweb.com then do a search for 'new anvil' and the thread will come up.

As i said, its ugly as sin.
But as a low cost substitute for the no longer available russian harbor freight anvils, it might make a decent starter anvil. I think it goes for about $200 or so for the 110lb model.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 11/25/08 14:32:09 EST

i have qty 2, 15 gallon barrels of 10w-40 oil. the pieces are 0.75x2.75x5 (in) and need to be heated to approx 1500 degF. any guess on how many i should be able to do? just don't want to heat 6 and only be able to quench 3 or so. thank you in advance and for previous information.
   kirt - Tuesday, 11/25/08 15:13:55 EST

Ries, I went to the manufacturer/importer site and their detail image shows the same old Chinese cast iron anvils with the faux plate on them that I have had listed here many years ago.

Chinese Anvils

These are NOT steel plates, it is just a ledge. The faces are 100% cast iron. These tested with less rebound than the concrete floor they were setting on.

I think that many retailers definition of steel is that it was scrap steel that went into making it. . . Cast iron by any other name.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 15:23:57 EST

Wisdom anvil. The one on the first link doesn't look like the one on the second. First has only a large round hole at heel. Second one has what appears to be two square holes, one larger than the other. On second, rather looks to me like they may have arc welded a steel plate onto ductile iron.

I'll pass information on to Richard Postman.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 11/25/08 15:32:56 EST

OK, The manufacturers site doesn't have photos of what is being sold (perhaps THEY know its too ugly) . . . nor is there a real description.

But why would ANYONE purchase anything that ugly? The pattern is the EASIEST part of making a cast item like this. I KNOW, I have a closet full of swage block patterns that I'd love to have cast. . . So why would anyone expect something where the EASY part is done so poorly to have the more difficult done any better?

These are what domestic Chinese anvils look like (courtesy Phillip and Sean in China).

The Chinese have no history of making anvils in the style or methods of the West. Their metallurgical history is completely different than the West. They jumped past the wrought iron stage fully into making cast iron and did not get over that lapse until the 20th century.

I don't get it. . . but folks HAVE been buying junk anvils for over 100 years.

This is what a cast iron anvil looks like after a little use. . .

Ever notice when you go to places where there is a lot of tailgating where there are hundreds of old anvils for sale, and MAYBE one like above?

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 16:06:42 EST

OBTW, The AmericanPrestoCorp/Wisdom "6 pound Steel" anvil is the same pattern as little one in the group above. I was given that one as a joke gift. . . it IS cast iron. Well. . mostly. The outer 1/8" is plaster/bondo/paint. . . now flaking off from just sitting. . . You can find them being sold on various jeweler's sites where they do not specify the material.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 16:54:33 EST


You could multiply specific heat of steel by the total weight of the pieces and again by the temperature drop on quenching to get the total heat input. Then divide that heat by product of the mass of the oil and its specific heat to calculate the temperature rise. The only problem is that I think steel's specific heat varies significantly over the temperature range you're talking about, so you'd need to integrate or at least estimate some kind of average.

That seems like a lot of work, though. I'd find a piece of scrap steel of known mass, heat it to 1500 degrees, and quench it in the oil. Stick a thermometer in the oil before and after the quench. Then divide the total mass of your six pieces by the mass of the test piece and multiply the temperature change by that amount. That should give you a good idea of how much the oil temperature will rise.

I'd guess that the flash point of engine oil is at least 240 degrees, since it gets that hot in an engine.

   Mike BR - Tuesday, 11/25/08 17:16:31 EST

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 17:25:43 EST

I was not recommending these "wisdom" anvils, so much as remarking that IF they do indeed have a composite cast iron/steel construction, its a new one for the chinese.
I agree, they are hideously ugly.

Me, I spent the big bucks on a Nimba, as that is my idea of Beauty, and I would never have anything as ugly in my shop as a Wisdom. But I do know a lot of people will put up with almost anything to save a buck...
   - Ries - Tuesday, 11/25/08 17:53:29 EST

Hey guys n Gals, Happy johns just bought a new anvil!! Just had a punt on it as its only 5 mins from the girlfriends house, next to no info on the listing, but the dimensions are in the 'questions' section, Thought it looked a bit Peter Wright in shape?

ebay listing number 320319525372

Its set me back about $150 usd (gbp £100), what weight do the experts think this one is? any comments on this impulse but greatly appreciated!
   - John N - Tuesday, 11/25/08 18:22:33 EST

Glad to see you trying to find a way to make all this information more searchable and codified. Having pictures right in the posts will be a real improvement. Best of luck in trying to make a good thing better.

Dave Leppo: Farwest AND Forgemagic are both "clones" of the original Blacksmiths Virtual Junkyard. Actually they all just used a freeware "guestbook" that gives them the same "look & feel". Neither was "authorized" as such - Neil Winikoff aparently had no wish to have anyone continue the Junkyard.
   - grant - Tuesday, 11/25/08 19:06:12 EST

John N, On www.anvils.co.uk (which is Vaughans website) they used to have exact dimensions of all their anvils together with weights. This included single and double bicks as well as farriers' anvils and some specialised shapes. If I want to work out the weight of an anvil from dimensions I just get the closest one to one of their Brooks and voila you have got a pretyy close approximation. Email me if you are still struggling cos I might have downloaded it at some stage but that would be a couple of computers ago so whether I would still have the details I do not know!
   philip in china - Tuesday, 11/25/08 19:07:37 EST

JNewman: We need more information! The bottom of your hole is level, O.K. Are there timbers on top of that? How Thick? Are they Milled flat and true? I would not bed the anvil in anything until you have the whole thing set and centered. After the frame is set you need to be able to adjust the anvil for position and twist. After hammers have set-in for a while it is not unusual to machine the face of the bottom die after checking the match with feeler guages. This is often less than .050 or so.
   - grant - Tuesday, 11/25/08 19:15:37 EST

Anvil Weight: Do we win a prize for the closest guess?

I'd give it between 150 and 200 pounds tops. Flats on the feet indicate it is possibly a PW. No matter what the weight it was an excellent buy.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 19:27:07 EST

Jnewman. The top and bottom on the block were machined 'square' when it left the factory.

The top of the anvil may have been re-machined level in situ on its previous install, ie throwing it out now.

You could just machine the bottom tool at an angle to compensate for the block being out of allignment. (depends if your going to change the tooling over often, might be a PITA if you are)

Are you putting the anvil on a fabreeka type mat or timbers? - if its on timbers you can compensate, ie have the timbers tapered 3" thick one side to 4" thick at the other. I would not have a timber 'shim' under the anvil unless it is over the full base area of the block.

A 5 cwt hammer puts out a lot of 'umpty' when running, and believe it or not the anvil block mat / timbers get hot when the machines been running for a while, any weakness in the install will soon show with a wobbly anvil block (=big $ to correct!)

I would be wary of having composite timber / resin anvil seating as jock suggests, as I mentioned above there is heat generated under the anvil, and the different materials have different rates of thermal expansion, compressive strenghts etc. You will allways eventually get water ingress around the anvil block base,and the water will get into the timbers. the timber will swell and blow the resin apart. It is OK to have a layer of timbers on top of resins, or vice versa but personally I wouldnt mix them.

Pls email me at the address on the Massey website, or give me a bell to discuss in detail if you wish.

Bet your looking forward to hitting some metal with that thing now!
   - John N - Tuesday, 11/25/08 19:50:26 EST


I had a thought on the new anvilfire site. This is a fun thought. Are you able to set up a room that each person can sign into. We could each build a blacksmith shop with the tools and stuff we each want. Like you do on the Web Kinz stuffed animal site for kids. They buy a house, choose furniture and plant a garden. You have to water it and harvest it. We would have to go and maintain our fire and scrap piles. We could choose from all kinds of buildings, forges and anvils etc... By them at different price points with virtual money we make from ornamental iron, repairs, shoeing horses and make nails. This was an off the wall thought. Just to get creative juices flowing.
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 11/25/08 19:55:19 EST

John N

Excellent Peter Wright Anvil. Great Buy!! She found a good home. Congrats!!
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 11/25/08 19:57:02 EST

Grant, on the Massey hammers, and to the best of my knowledge most other makes you nail the anvil tight in the hole with timber wedges, then once you lift the hammer over the block you have a some wiggle room between the hammer and the anvil to get the thing lined up dead true.

On my new (apparently baby) anvil the prize for closest weight guess is my deepest respect! - ill give it a weigh on the calibrated shipping scales when Ive got it next week!
   - John N - Tuesday, 11/25/08 19:58:20 EST

John N

Anvil 229 lbs
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 11/25/08 20:12:40 EST

Epoxy base- J Newman, sorry if you already know this but I've used a lot of the tube type epoxies (Hilti, 3M, RedHead, etc) and if you choose to do as the Guru suggested I would look around for a type with a longer cure time (30 to 60 min.). Some of the shorter cure time epoxies will set very fast. I've found that even some of the 15 min. types will set in less time than it takes to empty the tube if conditions are just right. Once set it can be very brittle and would say that the Guru's fiberglass idea should be very seriously considered. If you do go this route do your homework to find a system that works for you as the "guns" are proprietary and are brand and volume specific.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 11/25/08 20:24:30 EST

JohnN: That hasn't been my experience with big hammers although I did have access holes beside my foundations. My first experience with a large hammer foundation (two piece) was a little 800lb Erie Steam hammer. The wedges between the frame and anvil were very important to keeping the anvil straight. Wedges and blocking at the bottom of the anvil were useless as the anvil DOES move up-and-down in use. After about two years of use the anvil had risen nearly a foot(!) from accumulated scale under the anvil. Talking with other in the industry I learned they had similar experiences and usually cleaned under the anvil about every year. Even my 500lb Nazel was not free of this problem although it still moved up-and-down despite large hold down bolts. Anvil bolt without some kind of cusion will break if kept tight. Often large springs are used under the bolt-heads or large rubber dougnuts. You cannot prevent the anvil from moving.

I always wanted to find a cheap elastic material to pour down around the anvil joint to keep out scale. Had a roofer come in one time and poured in hot tar. That worked pretty good and was not a fire hazard after we swept some scale over the top. I also locked my nazel in once it had settled down by taking the nuts off and pouring lead in the space between the bolts and the hole in the frame. Think we had 1-1/4" bolts and the holes in the frame were well over 2".
   - grant - Tuesday, 11/25/08 20:34:08 EST

Improvements: One of the things we wanted to do a decade ago was have a place where we could interactively sketch on a virtual napkin. . . We have seen amazing advancements in technology but this is still a bit of a wish. HA! There IS software to do it with. . . . dang! Like I need a new project!

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/25/08 20:49:02 EST

Yeah, I remember that one! I think you and I talked about it at length. The problem with the concept is it kinda infers something like "real time". My latest thought run to a drawing where you could step through the edits, kinda like an undo key with comments. Its probably not worth too much thought as I find it hard to imagine where you would want to use it. Just let folks post new drawings with their edits.
   - grant - Tuesday, 11/25/08 21:12:59 EST

Why would one want to waste time with a virtual shop when you could spend it working in a real one? Just seems like a form of mental onanism, lots of work and nothing accomplished.

   ThomasP - Tuesday, 11/25/08 22:25:25 EST

Thomas: Yeah, but just think how much gas it would save!
   - grant - Tuesday, 11/25/08 22:36:58 EST

I bet guru would put in a forging hat option for you and Ptree to choose from. :)
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 11/25/08 23:39:48 EST

Anyone that wants a virtual shop can set one up on Virtual World and stay there. . .

Virtual Napkin: Actually this can work pretty close to "real time". At least with just a few seconds between updates for anyone with a fast connection. Just like at the table you have to take turns (some kind of etiquette). One drawing would be made for each person (2-3) and overlaid on the one being displayed. Version control would be via a save button and each edit kept in a file along with the final.

It would give us all reasons to get graphics tablets. . .
I can freehand OK with a trackball but I'm a lot better with a pencil.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/26/08 01:16:44 EST

This may be one of those stupid question,but between a Viking sword and a Japanese sword is one made better than the other? Material wise or any kind of wise? I've heard different stories,I'd like to hear from someone who has more knowledge on swords! Thank You! Ron rel@caltel.com
   Ron - Wednesday, 11/26/08 02:14:06 EST

Hi Grant,

Every '2 piece' open die hammer I have ever put in has 2 sets of wegdes, those around the base of the anvil to secure it into the concrete inertia block, and a set between the neck of the anvil block and the hammer base plate.

Then anvil never moves (well it might move vertically .020" or so when the hammers running at full power, but not enough to loosen the base wedges.)

Around the base of the anvil we use a 2 part polysulpide pourable rubber compound (sold as 'Thiflex PG600')

You can also use pitch as youve said.

Ive taken out hammers that have been in 60 + years installed this way and no movement at all on the anvil block. (had to break the concrete to get the block out)

Once the anvil block has vertical movement the dovetails seem to crack in short order.

JNewman has the correct install drawing for his hammer so will see the 2 sets of wedges. If that block moves John youve done somthing wrong!!!
   - John N - Wednesday, 11/26/08 04:29:27 EST

edit to the above, the product is Thioflex 600PG (see, that edit button would be nice Jock!), I think its standard application is to pour into the expansion gaps left when casting large concrete floor slabs.

It is flamable, but wont catch in use as an anvil sealent.
   - John N - Wednesday, 11/26/08 04:33:36 EST

Ron, an OLD Japanese sword against a NEW Viking sword? From the same time period? Made by which makers? There are really too many variables to generalize. Personally, I prefer my Rastifarian Ork Cleaver forged from unobtanium.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/26/08 08:23:14 EST

Wow lots of good information here. Under the anvil I put one layer of 3/4" hardwood ply and a piece of 1/2" rubber conveyor belt. I jumped the gun a little here and jacked the anvil up Monday night and put a strip of 7/16" thick hardwood plywood 10" wide under the front under the rubber. This brought the anvil level to within 1/16 over the length of the hammer. The reason I went ahead is that I have the machinery movers coming later this week and I didn't want to be fitting the bottom wedges while the machinery movers are waiting at $130/hr. I am going to phone John right now.
   - JNewman - Wednesday, 11/26/08 09:06:30 EST

Between the W1 and the O1 tool steel which is harder and will make a better hatchet or buck knife? And how should i harden them, and are they air hardening?
   - James Kryle - Wednesday, 11/26/08 09:07:10 EST

O1 vs. W1: James, each has its benefits. However, maximum hardness in these tool steels is pretty much the same (about Rockwell 62-63) but you almost never use these steels at that hardness, especially in a hatchet (which is something you sharpren with a file). A "Buck" knife is a trademark brand name knife that uses stainless blades.

The big difference is cost, O1 is more expensive. It has higher dimensional stability than W1 and high resistance to decarburization which makes it better for forging.

The W is for water Hardening, the O for oil hardening. All tool steels are air hardening in thin enough sections but oil hardening steels are more likely to be so. But in thick sections they MAY need to be water hardened. Hardening is a matter of how fast the metal cools. If it is cooled fast enough then the type of quench is not important.

W1 is one of the least expensive of the tool steels, it is shallow hardening and while it hardens harder than O1 at 65-68 Rc it is more sensitive to tempering temperatures and can give a wide range of hardness.

Comparisons in steels require many other considerations. Are you manufacturing by stamping, stock removal or forging? Will there be follow up process such as drilling? Is the hardening and tempering to be uniform or selective? What is you budget?

I think we have heat treating instructions for both of these in our FAQs.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/26/08 09:38:12 EST

Leveling Machinery: There are three reasons for leveling machinery, 1) to prevent twisting or warping the machine (such as a lathe bed). 2) to align seperate components (such as a hammer and anvil). 3) general accuracy so that parts do not roll off, coolant flows correctly and quality of install.

In all cases the level used is an ultra precision type reading in the thousandths per foot (2400:1 or better).

In two piece hammers the alignment is most critical when flat dies are used, especially when accidentally struck together. Misalignment can result in chipped corners and flying shrapnel. The next most critical are closed dies or dies with travel stops. Curved dies such as crowns are the least sensitive to alignment.

In the case of a power hammer the reference surfaces are the bottoms of the dovetails where the dies set. Normally the surface above the dovetail is machined at the same time and SHOULD be parallel. But it does not hurt to check if you are going to use this as a reference surface. The die surface should be checked in the event they are poorly fitted. If the dies are not parallel to their base I would have them dressed on a surface grinder.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/26/08 10:29:06 EST

Unlike my esteemed colleague Quenchcrack I will give your question the serious reply it deserves even though I am far from an expert on the matter. We do need to decide what you mean by "better" I'm a firm believer in "form follows function" and for the fighting style each sword is the best. Also availability of construction material is to be considered. As for my own personal feelings I think the European short sword is superior to the Japanese one but merely because I don't think the Northern European Smiths were as bound by tradition as the Japanese ones, and the design wasn't as static. However I am just a blacksmith, I am not versed in the different schools of martial weapon combat, and there are others out there much more qualified to reply than myself.
   JimG - Wednesday, 11/26/08 11:46:46 EST

Guru, I have a otto royal western chief 1027 forge. all is good exept the gear that is not steel. not sure what it is made of and is it like a brake? What to do for replacing it? Thanks!
   Matt - Wednesday, 11/26/08 12:16:42 EST

I gotta agree with JimG pretty much. I don't believe one can be termed "better" than the other. Both were the best that could be made with available materials. Much of the "lore" or the Japanese sword can be attributed to trying to get a decent product from some pretty crappy material. They both started with chunks of crudely made steel of wildly varying carbon content. Through experience and rote formulae they managed to work it into a pretty homogeneous material and by complex heat treating (of which they understood little) they made pretty credible weapons. Now the folks in India made some pretty fine crucible steel at the same time that was in nearly every way superior.

As Jim noted fighting style had an influence as did the type of armour of the opponant. Lotta variables.
   - grant - Wednesday, 11/26/08 17:24:24 EST

Yep, and when you take either weapon to a gun fight, YOU LOSE. . . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/26/08 17:26:21 EST

Guru: My comments were pointed at the NEED for the people to be working in "real time". I think one thing that makes the "forum" more popular than the "chat" is that it works in "whenever time".
   - grant - Wednesday, 11/26/08 17:29:46 EST

JohnN: Your comments are appreciated. I just wanted to point to the need to seal around the anvil or pulverized scale WILL work its way under in a most amazing way. Yes, use wedges AND a good sealer. And given that the timbers underneath will compress unevenly it may be necessary to machine the bottom die from time to time if you want to keep them really true. My 800 lb hammer was a somewhat special case as it was from the 1920's and only had an 8:1 anvil. This really did make it a pleasant hammer to work under as it had very "squishy" blow. Later hammers that I had gave a much more "sharp" blow. I miss that 800 more than any hammer I've had - it just had a nice personality. I probably had 24" of timber under that one and only used about half that on later installs.
   - grant - Wednesday, 11/26/08 17:43:31 EST

Under the hammers in the drop forge shop they had crossed oak timbers. They were treated with creosoate I believe. I saw the timber mat from one of the bigger hammers, maybe the 25,000 Erie, and it was probably 4' tall, made of crossed and bolted 12" square oak. They were in turn on top of a concrete prymid that went down to bedrock as the shops were built on sand and gravel silt from the Ohio river. The bedrock was about 80 to 90' down depending on location on the 40 acres. All the crane ways were also on footers that went down to the bedrock.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/26/08 18:26:54 EST

As most of you know I have only fairly basic tools here- i.e. no power hammer. I do have sledgehammers and a big anvil. My question is can I, realistically, hope to reforge a sledgehammer head to make a splitting maul? (Not sure if that is the US term but it is half way between a hammer and an axe).
   philip in china - Wednesday, 11/26/08 18:59:14 EST

JimG, My reply was serious followed by a bit of humor. There are simply too many variables that were not specified to answer the question as your response clearly indicated. I do sense an underlying hostility toward me in your reply, however, that should be explained.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/26/08 19:03:21 EST

Phillip in China
I should think if you have a well mounted anvil of decent size that you could indeed reforge a sledge into a splitting maul (that is what we call them around here as well)
I saw a demo at Quad State a couple of years ago, where they reforged a sledge into a cross peen on one side, and it was a striker and the smith. After, they left my son, then a big 15, strike, and so they were triple striking.
If I recall, they took about 3 heats to rough the peen.
I seem to recall they put a drift in the eye to keep it from collapsing. Be aware that with that big a hunk you need to get it hot clean thru, and many hammer head materials are subject to cracking if forged too cool or quenched in water.
Let us know how this works out.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/26/08 19:41:22 EST

I appreciate all the good athough sometimes contradictory advise here. I spoke to JohnN at Masseys today about the install and got lots of good advise. I re centered the anvil block on the center of the foundation and put in all my wedges around the base. I poured a weak concrete mix into the slots either side of the foundation.

I was not able to find a product like John describes at a building supply. But I do use a castable urethane for patterns that I will mix and pour around the wedges tomorrow to keep scale out from under the anvil. Then when I put the wedges around the top I will put an angle iron cap on like the drawings call for.
   - JNewman - Wednesday, 11/26/08 19:59:33 EST

JNewman, The product that John N recommended is more common in Europe. There are 3M versions of the same industrial adhesive but I do not know the exact spec.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/26/08 20:12:14 EST

How is the joint on a pair of simple friction joint calipers put together?
   - T - Wednesday, 11/26/08 20:36:07 EST

John N's Thioflex is a 2 part polysulfide sealant.
My guess is that there is a Sika product that is equivalent, but since there are hundreds of Sika products, I dont know which one, but they are THE company for this kind of stuff in the USA and Canada. I am sure you could call them up and find out which of their products would be the right one to use for this.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 11/26/08 21:25:41 EST

Hey guys, I've been looking at the site since I started forging about a month or 2 ago. One of my friends directed me to this site and has been helping me learn how to forge. I've been looking for a good book on forging, preferably one that doesn't just talk about the hows, but also the whys. I like to know why certain things work the way they do, why it's better to things one way than the other. I would be very appreciative if you could get some information for me.
   - hillm - Wednesday, 11/26/08 21:56:42 EST

Splitting mauls are in my opinion dangerous because they are extremely difficult to control when swung hard enough to split, likely to veer off to one side or the other and hurt someone-- as the piece of firewood tips under the impact-- most probably the user. Wedges are better. Make two, the second smaller than the first, to help extricate the first when it gets stuck.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 11/26/08 22:19:29 EST

Hillm, Come to my school. I'll give you three years of "whys" and "how-comes" in three weeks. Go to 'Top Post' and 'Gurus' for the school address. Hard copy brochure available.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/26/08 22:40:14 EST

Ther is a 2 part pollysulfide used in the marine trade called "Boatlife Life caulk" www.JamestownDistributors.com You want the gallon unit. This is a softer, more flexable rubber than any of the polyurethane products I have used. These products are genaricly called "thyocol" like the company that made the "O" rings for the space shuttle.
   - J Newman - Wednesday, 11/26/08 22:40:39 EST

Above post is FOR You, I got Your name in where Mine should have been.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 11/26/08 22:42:10 EST

Thanks for the info Frank but I don't think I would be able to do that. I live on the east side of Iowa and frankly don't think I would have the money to pay for it or be able to furnish a ride down there. I'm broke right now and any book I get would be a Christmas present.
   - hillm - Wednesday, 11/26/08 22:55:50 EST

Miles Undercut tells truths. However, I politely do not agree will everything stated. A splitting maul is fine to use as is wedges and an axe. A maul requires the same techniques and safety practices as using an axe. Safety glasses, steel shin chaps, hard hat with chip guard etc... I notice people go for a much to heavy maul leading to all the things Miles mentions. They must want to show they are muscle men. You can accomplish more work and control with a lighter maul. It is much faster than using wedges. You can just use an axe too and have wedges handy. My father went to forestry school and I can confir with him if you have more detailed questions on techniques. He even still has his first and same axe he bought new and took to forestry school. He keeps it in his closet...LOL. He is as bad as us anvilheads. We live in a very cold climate where wood is always being cut to heat. My friend split himself 26 cord of wood by hand with a maul last summer. It didn't take him long at all. He won't use a splitter because they are slow and waste fuel. He likes the exercise. God bless him.
   - Rustystuff - Wednesday, 11/26/08 23:46:54 EST

Firm Joint Calipers: T, There are several types of joint. They often have a brass shim or spring washer, some are riveted and others are threaded together. The important thing is that they are very finely finished and very precision. It is much easier to make them when you have machine tools and you MUST remember that even in the seventeenth and eighteenth century instrument makers had small lathes for turning parts. These lathes were common in locksmiths, jewelers and clock makers shops as well as the instrument maker who probably also made them.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/08 00:03:43 EST

Hillm, Few blacksmiths books are so wordy. The reasons for doing some things vary with the material. Wrought iron while very soft when hot and easy to weld also had grain that you had to consider when making things. Many old designs and the methods of making them have to do with the grain in wrought.

The best way to learn these lessons is by doing and the best short cut is to go to school or take lessons.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/08 00:08:48 EST

I am so pleased you got the service from John at Massey. He is one of the best. Nobody ever took me up on the challenge. Where in 19th century American literature is there a mention of Massey Hammers? I can give you a clue if that would help.....
   philip in china - Thursday, 11/27/08 00:30:08 EST

BTW a prize of a 100 pound Chinese ASO to the first person who answers the Massey Hammers question correctly. You have to collect it though.
   philip in china - Thursday, 11/27/08 00:31:32 EST

Thank you for the heads up Guru. If you could, what would be the best book for me, as a beginner, to read out of the ones on your site?

Also, I am currently taking a manufacturing class at my high school and my teacher knows squat about blacksmithing. This is the only class our highschool has that has anything to do with smithing.
   - hillm - Thursday, 11/27/08 01:07:31 EST

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you blokes back State side. Please eat an extra helping of turkey for me as I'm not going to get to. :(

Rob (American Ex-pat residing in Finland)
   Rob Dobbs - Thursday, 11/27/08 02:37:32 EST

I teach a basic class at an industrial arts school in Oakland, Ca. I am trying to put together a hammer making class for beginning smiths and other artists.

1. Does anyone know any great hammer smiths in Europe? I am planning a trip over there this coming summer and would love to set something up.
2. Are there some other good resources that anyone recommends for hammer forging?


   bender - Thursday, 11/27/08 05:08:41 EST

Bender, Whereabouts in Europe? It is an entire continent.
   philip in china - Thursday, 11/27/08 06:56:27 EST

hillm: Become a member of your local library as they can get you books from other libraries at a nominal fee. I inquired at mine and before they would order a book through inter-library loan I had to establish myself as a regular (meaning I would have to check out and return several books first). It is a good way to review books before you purchase them.

Books you might consider: The Backyard Blacksmith by Lorelie Simms; Practical Blacksmithing and Metalworking by Blandford; Beginning Blacksmithing with Projects by Jim Converse; Practical Projects for the Blacksmith by Ted Tucker; The Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews; The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer (who, as much as anyone else, rejuvinated (sp?) hobby blacksmithing in the U.S.); The Blacksmith, Ironworker and Farrier by Aldren Watson and The Blacksmith's Craft by Charles McRaven. Of these, I would recommend you start with Lorelie's book.

I heard a rumor, but didn't get a chance to verify it with Lorelie, she is now working on a second blacksmithing book. Anyone know anything here?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/27/08 07:30:02 EST

hillm: For potential classes/instruction go to www.abana.org. Click on AFFILIATES. Find the blacksmithing group which covers your area. Many hold monthly meetings and some even large annual conferences. Some hold evening classes in beginning blacksmithing. For example the group in Southwestern Ohio holds an open shop one night a week with several forging stations. A couple of old hards are available to assist. You may be able to be referred to a smith in your area who would be willing to give you a couple of hands-on lessons.

I am currently working with a very promising younger man and may be doing the same in the near future with one of the local police officers. The 'blacksmithing bug' bit both of them.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/27/08 07:40:00 EST

Bender: I suggest you contact the British Artist Blacksmith Association (www.baba.org.uk I believe - do a Google search). While they are the British Isles, they can likely also give you contacts on the continent. You may be able to set up an iternary visiting a shop a day or such.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/27/08 07:46:27 EST

Bender: Are you talking hammer is in 'power hammer' or hammer as in say a crosspeen?

On the later I believe it is Jackpine Forge who specializes in making hammer heads of various sorts.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 11/27/08 07:56:45 EST


Why Europe? I returned last month from deonstrating for the California Blacksmiths Association [www.calsmith.org] meeting in Cazadero. Brian Brazeal was forging hammers. He travels to wherever there is a shop situation and will demonstrate hammers or whatever: brazealbrothers@yahoo.com. He just finished making hammers with Jim Austin at Austin's huge studio/shop, the Alchemy Metalworks in Oakland. Jim Austin is the proprietor and has served his journeymanship in Germany: phone 510-986-1173. Brent Bailey makes good looking hammers and is in Orland, California. He gives workshops. www.brentbaileyforge.com.

I've given you the best leads that I know of in California (or maybe the U.S.), but I would suggest that forging hammers is not necessarily "basic." It requires lots of know-how and skill. I have my basic students make a cold chisel and scriber among other things. Even that will keep them busy for a while, expecially when trying to recognize heat colors and attempting to perform the heat treatments.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/27/08 08:12:05 EST

I must also gently disagree with Miles re: mauls, having split many many cords of wood with one. Good footing, safety gear, and when you get tired enough to not be able to control the maul, stop. Same applies to hammer and wedges, and chainsaws as well as blacksmithing:)
   ptree - Thursday, 11/27/08 08:32:06 EST

I am looking at tempering a knife blade but i just want to make sure about what type of gas should i use or should not use. Any info would be great
   - David - Thursday, 11/27/08 08:50:06 EST

bender, if you want to check out a great hammer maker and master smith right here in the states try Rick Furer at
North east Wisconsin is pretty much like going to Germany,or Poland, or any Scandinavian country...
   - merl - Thursday, 11/27/08 08:50:43 EST

BTW bender, Frank Turley DOES actualy know everything about blacksmithing that he says he does.
   - merl - Thursday, 11/27/08 09:02:54 EST

ptree-- I respect your judgment and experience in this as in other matters and will defend to the death your right to swing a splitting maul.... Here in the foothills of the Rockies where it is about to snow its everlovin' ass off, we are right now burning Skilsawn 2x4s off our old roof. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/27/08 09:48:02 EST

rustystuff-- ditto the above.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/27/08 09:53:41 EST

Hammer Making: A lot depends on the type of hammer. Good carpenter's hammers are like a good chef's knife. . . a lot more technically complicated than it looks. A "club" hammer is no more than a block of steel with a hole. . .

In a blacksmiths hammer the shape is not so critical as the dress. Many people could do a bang up job forging and heat treating a hammer but how good are they at dressing one? This is an area where you can take a junk hammer and make a very nice working hammer or a finely crafted one and make junk out of it. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/08 10:45:33 EST

Type of Gas: I prefer philogen for tempering. David, you need to read our FAQ on Heat Treating then ask your question differently.

Happy Thanksgiving ALL: I'll be one the road for a while. Y'all be good now, eh mis amigos.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/27/08 10:59:27 EST

Calipers -- I've made a couple of pairs of very simple (and crude) calipers as follows: One leg is forged with a boss at the top. The second leg begins as a blank with a boss at each end, then is folded back on itself, forge welded up to the bosses, and drawn out to length. The boss on the first leg is sandwiched between the two bosses on the second one, and the sandwich is drilled for a bolt.

I didn't come up with this technique, but can't remember where I found it, and so can't give credit where it's due.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 11/27/08 12:11:45 EST

Phillip- Are they mentioned in Henley's Encyclopdia of Practical Engineering and Allied Trades? That's just a guess and since I've only seen a copy once I'm not even sure if it was an American or English publication. Lots of great drawings thou.
   Judson Yaggy - Thursday, 11/27/08 13:49:47 EST

Tempering: first of all are you use the term tempering to cover the complete heat treat sequence? (normalize x 3, heat and quench, draw temper x3)? Or just to draw temper?

To draw temper pretty much any gas you have a burner for will work. I often use the kitchen oven to do an all over temper and then selectively draw the back of a blade softer with a propane torch.

If you mean the entire heat treat process; use whatever your forge burns. If you don't have a forge then you can use an oxy-acetylene torch to heat, or oxy-propane or oxy-propelyne(sp). Note that some alloys are easier to torch heat treat than others! (and some really do need a fancy heat treat furnace to get the most out of a high dollar high alloy piece).

Re trip to europe: most likely he's going over for another reason; but doesn't want to miss a chance to hobnob with some smiths. I always try to! You might like to visit that factory that forges the speciality axes in Sweden? Granfors bruks (?); or check to see how the high grade hammers are being forged.

Looking for an individual smith who makes a living forging hammers will be a hard task.

If you could narrow down what region of europe---southern Spain to northern Norway and over to the Ural mountains in the east is quite a span to cover.

   ThomasP - Thursday, 11/27/08 14:56:34 EST

I've been to Gransfors Bruks. Unfortunately, the shop was closed down for summer vacation, but I was able to walk through it. The production was done on presses, but there is a hand forging area at the back of the plant (I think it's used for lessons). A neat axe museum, too. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere, though. It would take at least a month to see all the interesting steel-related sites in Sweden, and that's only one corner of Europe.

Bruce Wilcock of the Shetland Islands, who many of us know from other forums (if not this one), forges hammers. www.brucewilcockforgings.com

   Mike BR - Thursday, 11/27/08 15:10:46 EST

Ken, I am currently a member of my library and I will look into getting The Backyard Blacksmith from there. Thank you for your assistance.
   - hillm - Thursday, 11/27/08 18:29:00 EST

No Judson. It is in US written fiction that they are mentioned. Edgar Alan Poe to give you a huge clue.
   philip in china - Thursday, 11/27/08 18:50:53 EST

Found a product called duoflex which seems to be the same as the thioflex $250 per 5 litre pail I poured one unit in tonight and it seems to have sealed around the top of the wedges and filled around the bottom up about 1/2 way up. Once the duoflex is set up I will top up the gaps in the corners with urethane left over from casting a corebox. I think I have sealed it up well enough to keep the worst of the scale out from under the anvil.
   - JNewman - Thursday, 11/27/08 18:53:41 EST

Miles: You too have seen the light. Skillsaws are great for cutting firewood, as long as You can get through by cutting from both sides. When the wood is small enough for that You don't even need to split it.

When I was a teenager We would gather standing dead wood from Our woodlot. It had been clear cut when My Dad was a kid, and had turned to hardwoods growing tall but skinney competing for sunlight, and crowding themselves out. A chainsaw didn't cut that dried white oak efficiently, but the Skillsaw wizzed right through it.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 11/27/08 21:19:34 EST


For a great blacksmithing textbook that does more explaining the "whys" of things than any other I've seen, I strongly suggest that you obtain a copy of Mark Aspery's book "Mastering the Fudamentals of Blacksmithing, Vol. 1". If you cannot obtain it through one of the regular booksellers, you can find Mark on the internet at markaspery.net and get a copy directly from him, I'm sure. In addition to the thorough explanations of why things are done the way they are, his book has some of the clearest, most understandable photos I've seen in a blacksmithing book. Mark tells me that Volume 2 should be out soon, by the way.
   vicopper - Thursday, 11/27/08 21:30:01 EST

JNewman: The thiocol rubber has better oil & chemical resistance than most other compounds, and that is probably why it is used for this job. I have seen urethane deteriate to the point where it crumbles, but I don't know what made it do that.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 11/27/08 21:31:39 EST

vicopper, thanks a lot for the information. I'm going to see if could get this as a christmas present this year.
   - hillm - Thursday, 11/27/08 22:45:13 EST

Thanks for the help.. The reason why I asked about what type of gas is better is because I want to build a forge. With the cost involved its better to get it right the first time.
Thanks guys.
   - David - Friday, 11/28/08 07:59:37 EST

Hi. Anyone know of a good online source for metal files. I'd like to buy my father some good files for Christmas. Thanks much.
   marrt - Friday, 11/28/08 08:38:58 EST

Thanks for your help guys.
   - David - Friday, 11/28/08 08:39:52 EST


If you're using bottled gas for a forge, propane is really the only viable option. If you have natural gas service that can also work, if you don't mind doing the plumbing (and maybe some R&D; there isn't as much information out there on natural gas forge design).
   Mike BR - Friday, 11/28/08 09:53:31 EST

Threads - Guru: Hi again, Jock. Just came back trying to pick through the discussion about the books, iron vs. steel tools, etc. that had been going on lately. Retrospectively looking back on several weeks worth of material, it would seem that with all the simultaneous conversations and all the guys named "john" that it's not always clear who said what in response to whom. A little confusing, I think. Perhaps a threaded discussion would be of general benefit. Just a suggestion. And again, thanks for your smithing expertise, guys.
   John L. - Friday, 11/28/08 11:20:49 EST

i was wondering what would be the best way to make a twin steel or iron sink into a forge. isaw an artical online about it but it gave a very rudamentry description. also one final question i had was if i should just stick with the grill forge i described in the past thank you.
   mat - Friday, 11/28/08 13:35:50 EST

Hi Mat
A sink is much to deep to make into a forge. It would not work well. Unless you built up most of the depth with firebrick and refractory. Really not worth the cost and effort. Many better things you could scroung and use. Think in terms of 4-5" deep max.
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 11/28/08 15:43:22 EST

FOR SALE Hay Budden 114 pounder & Small Buffalo forge. All for $525.00 Comes with a swage & big log. Can ship or you pickup in Telford,Tn..Call 423-384-3939 or email.
   Roger Scott - Friday, 11/28/08 16:34:52 EST

this is where my idea is from however the website isnt included for some reason

email this page

How to Build a Coal Burning Forge Plans

Have the hankering to make your own fireplace poker? Curtain rods? Interesting ornaments or scrollwork? Build a coal burning shop forge!

Most of our projects take something scrapped and turn it into something useful. The coal forge is no exception — an old cast-iron sink is transformed into a forge with a novel design — an integrated quench tank.

Assembled entirely from discarded materials, this forge consists essentially of an old vacuum-cleaner motor and blower, and a cast-iron sink.

Of course, the dimensions given may be altered to suit the material at hand.

The air for the coal forge is divided at the blower. Half of the air is diverted up the stack to keep the shop clear of smoke, and the rest for the coal.

The original strainer in the sink serves as the tuyere iron, and a 1 in. street elbow connects the sink with the draft pipe.

The sink hood itself is made from a single piece of sheet metal.

The addition of brackets and a "douse" tank completes the forge.

It is a good idea to line the inside of the sink with fire clay, fire bricks, or some other refractory material

With this great little shop forge you'll spend more time forging, and less time playing with the fire due to the electric blower, and you'll surely enjoy the ease of quenching.


   mat - Friday, 11/28/08 17:07:19 EST

what i posted is from vintage projects .com it has other plans for tools aswell
   mat - Friday, 11/28/08 17:14:37 EST

Phillip- Poe? When did he run into a Massey? The obvious guess would be "The Tell-Tale Heart" but I suppose there may have been some heart thumping in "The Cask of Amontillado" as well. I don't really remember. High school seems to get further away every day...

Does anyone know (John N.?) if the Massey hammers were linked in any way to the Massey tractors? I have a 1976 MF165, great old tractor.

   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 11/28/08 17:23:54 EST


Just because something works doesn't mean it's all that good. A lot of these projects, vintage and modern, a cobbled together out of scrap for the sake of low cost, speed and convenience. Some work better than others.

My first forge consisted of a wooden box filled with dirt and fire bricks, a cast iron drain cover, various pieces of pipe; and, oh yes, Playdough played a major function in sealing the ash dump. It worked, but not very well.

Looking at the illustration ( http://www.vintageprojects.com/metal-welding/shop-forge.html ) it appears that the one sink probably also has a filler of dirt and/or bricks to raise the floor and put the fire at a manageable height. Nothing about this is mentioned in the text, but that's what appears to be needed to make it more efficient. I would only mess with this if I already had an old sink, and lacked alternatives; but if you ask a dozen blacksmiths how to build a cheap, field-expedient forge, you'll get about 18 answers. Look around this site, in the News and iForge pages, and you'll see a number of items that would be applicable to your ambitions...

...speaking of which, a lot of these temporary/cobbled together forges are useful for little and occasional jobs. They're fast, they're cheap, they work and get the job done, and then you forget about them and go on to other things. If you're just puttering around, something like this may be just the thing; if you intend to do further work, it's time to get some books out of the library and start some solid research.

Good luck.

Cool and cloudy on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 11/28/08 17:45:23 EST

Gases: David, Do you have a choice? Most people do not. You have bottled propane, then piped natural gas. In some parts of the world butane is supplied bottled instead of propane.

If you have a choice NG is cheapest. Propane is the most popular due to availability and butane requires a larger heat sink (volume/tank size) than propane. While NG is cheapest you are very likely to run into zoning, building and plumbing codes when it comes to hooking it up that may not be possible to overcome. Little problem like the gas company not connecting ANY non-UL device.

   - guru - Friday, 11/28/08 19:56:33 EST

I have 4 original volumes of RICHARDSON'S "PRACTICAL BLACKSMITHING" for sale. Vol.'s 1-3 in good shape and #4 in fair to good. $3oo or best offer. Also autographed vhs tapes #41 of 100 of Bill Moran's "forging a blade" and "damascus blades" for sale $75 each seperately or $140 for the set.
585 317-0370 or rightmyerrichard@gmail.com
   Navy Smith - Friday, 11/28/08 19:59:08 EST

Judson, No association at all!

(though lots of hits on my website do come from the search term massey tractor!!! )

Philip, Ill have enough mental capactity and time one day to research the Edgar AP reference, pls dont give the answer, ive been meaning to look it up!

(and I hope the answer isnt like the first motorcycle reference in written literature question, ie Jesus on Triumph )
   - John N - Friday, 11/28/08 20:48:01 EST


I first thought of my sculptor friend, John Massey, who lives near Santa Fe. Then I thought of Massey Ferguson tractors. Finally, I googled and found Poe's story, "The Masque of the Red Death." I also found that "massy" is the correct spelling, and it is an archaic word for massive or solid, so I assume we're talking about sledges. I do have enough anvils, so I won't need to collect the ASO. Thanks, anyway.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/28/08 21:41:04 EST


I have been struggling a making a shovel for FP set. I have a NEBA swage block but the blanks are not turning out looking like a usable product. Any suggestions on a source for a pattern, design ets. thanks,
   peter - Friday, 11/28/08 22:16:01 EST


It's hard to explain. I make mine freehand usually with a radiused (curved) heel and straight sides and cut from 16 ga or 14 ga MS. The pattern is made kindergarden style. Fold a paper in half; draw the half radius, the straight side flaring outward at an angle, and the bottom straight. Cut out the doubled sheet with the scissors and open. Viola!

I raise the edges hot using a ball peen. Hold the shovel at a slight angle and hit LIGHTLY where you want the angle to "break." I normally raise the back of the heel 1.25 to 1.5" and as I go around, it becomes progressively 1", 3/4" and finally 1/2" to 3/8" or so at the scooping edge. You're gonna get wrinkling, because you're forcing the metal to where it doesn't want to go. I straighten out the folds and wrinkles as I go, on a mushroom (dome) stake. The raised edge at the heel doesn't need to be all that high, maybe 3/4". The finished shovel pan will have no extreme angle breaks, but rather will be smoothly curved most everywhere. There might be a little "sharpness" to the angle breaks near the scooping edge.

The catch 22. The top line wants to be level as viewed from the side, and the bottom of the pan wants to be flat, not navicular shaped. If need be, the bottom can be leveled with a rounding hammer at a red heat. The top line can get screwy as you work. I finally heat the entire pan and put it upside down on the anvil. I LIGHTLY tap it all around till all edges drop to the anvil face.

I'm not saying not to use a shovel die that's built into a swage block, but to get good results, you need a thick top die to match. You may need to build some sort of stops to keep the shovel from sliding backwards when the top die is hammered in. Again, the top line may be irregular when you finish hammering, perhaps needing trimming, grinding and/or sanding.

When attaching the shank with handle (I use a minimum of two rivets), see that there it rises 15º off horizontal when the shovel pan is sitting flat. This is traditional and is done so you don't bang your knuckles on the hearth while using the shovel.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/28/08 23:37:49 EST

Shovel Shapes: Swage blocks with shovel patterns are fairly useless. First, they are not your pattern (unless you made the block); Second, you wouldn't want your shovel to look exactly like everyone else's pattern; Third, they only make one size and shape. A good block would have universal depressions and shapes for this purpose. Last. . . I the ones I've seen were about as ugly as you can get.

Most of my shovels were made from a rectangular pattern, notched, folded and riveted. See our iForge demos 77 and 78.

But I also made pressed shovels using a hand made set of dies. The hard part was blanking the sheet metal. I used 16 gauge or heavier. It was a pretty ugly pattern and I think I scrapped them all with a plan to make a second die but never got a round-to-it. . . The positive die was made from 1/2" thick plate, torched and ground to shape, the negative from 5/8" round bar bent and welded to a base plate. You do not need a form fit, just something to create the inner and outer edges letting the metal slope naturally in between. This worked OK with 16ga cold in a 20 ton press. Thicker would need to be done hot.

Many blacksmith made shovels are forged from a solid that is flattened under a power hammer and the handle drawn out from the same making it all one piece. The shape is developed on the horn or one or more stakes.

You can get close to this by starting with 1/8" or 10ga plate, using a wide flat "tang" to wrap around a solid bar and forge welding it and blending it in to the handle shank. Its tough forging.

Most hand forged style shovels are fairly long and narrow with a waist or keyhole keyhole shape. I've only seen a few I liked that also looked functional.

What I liked about making the handle and pan separately is that you could use a variety of terminations on the handle and rivet in two to four or more places. The termination can be a leaf, rams head scroll, bean end or any shape or design you like. Rivet heads can also be decorative. I preferred using commercial round head rivets and letting the inside just flatten a little and putting a rose head on the outside. The 3/16" rivets I used were set cold.

Other alternatives include welding or brazing the pan, using non-ferrous pans for color or even using commercial pans (the last resort).

Note: When I made mine of 16ga steel I ground the working edge to about 1/3 to 1/4 the thickness at a low angle of about 30 degrees. The thiner the edge the better the shovel works. However, too thin is weak and dangerous. Besides grinding the taper I knocked off a lot of corners then followed with a file.
   - guru - Friday, 11/28/08 23:54:40 EST

More shovels:

The solid forged I described would have been trimmed to shape after the flattening and drawing.

A Beverly Shear used hot or cold helps with the trimming.

Hot or cold sinking can be done in a wood form (see our news articles covering the Armour-Ins.

A rippled edge like in many commercial patterns can be done in home made press dies but it takes so R&D. The outer shape is made as I described and then pieces forged to a point (for the taper in the fold) are welded (or brazed) onto both the inner and outer die. Be sure to leave material space.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/08 00:07:49 EST

Re: natural gas. When I had a natural gas line run to the shop I inquired about using it to run a forge. Local gas provider sent out a technicial. He indicate it would be expensive for them to run two services (pressure for a furnace/pressure for a forge), all plumbing would have to be done by a certified installer and the forge would have to be a commerical UL approved model.

I also checked into a large outside propane tank. Plumbing problems here also, such as how to use a regulator in the line. Have found a 100-lb tank works just fine for me.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/29/08 03:27:36 EST

When we had a bulk tank hooked up at our shop I had built a manifold for the welding shop. When they want to know what was going to be hooked to it I told them heating and welding torches (I had valves with the left hand hose fittings setup and a gauge), and that I needed high pressure of at least 15 PSI preferably 20. The propane guys left and then came back a little while later with the right regulator. No problem as all North American made welding equipment has a UL label. I do not know about import stuff.

The crucible melting furnace I had built MIGHT have been a problem. On the other hand it looked like a commercial unit with the controls in an electrical enclosure with a manufacturer's tag (our company). Nothing on it looked jury rigged or home-made.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/08 08:37:07 EST

dear bruce blackistone i would like to first say thankyou but second i'd like to say i indeed do have all the supplies that i got free including the sink. however i think i'm going to try this method a little bit and then make a break drum or rotor forge. i had a better forge plan but i cant get the one inch thick 20 * 20* 20 *20 inch steel plate from my school thats doing nothing in the back. one final question i had was if the coal near the abandoned tracks is useable or if i have to use just wood made coal. thank you, mat
   mat - Saturday, 11/29/08 13:31:55 EST

I haven't tried this, but you could also cut two heavy steel plates to the shape of the shovel bottom. Clamp a sheet metal blank between and work the sides down with a light hammer and a torch.

A smith I know installed a natural gas line ending in the standard fitting for connecting a NG barbeque. He was able to run a blown forge with NG at the (very low) household pressure.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 11/29/08 13:36:40 EST

Mike BR's method is sort of how I made shovel blanks before I got a fly press. I bent a piece of flat bar, about 1/4 x 1 1/4" so that it would fit inside the finished shovel with one edge defining the fold and the other the edge of the shovel. Picture a U of flat stock with the wide face of the stock tipped in slightly. I welded in some stretchers for clamping on the workpiece and mounting in the vice. Clamp on the sheet metal and work the overhanging sheet down around the form with torch and hammer.
   Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 11/29/08 15:17:53 EST

"one final question i had was if the coal near the abandoned tracks is useable"

It probably isn't, but until you try it you won't know for certain. So gather up a pail full and see.
   JimG - Saturday, 11/29/08 18:09:12 EST

I have run forges on natural gas at everything from 20psi down to that few ounces pressure they give for "normal" service. I did have to run 1/2 or 3/4 inch pipe for the low pressure. Can't run atmosphereic forges on it though, only ones with a blower.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/29/08 18:38:51 EST

Mike BR: Yeah, good idea on the two plates. Use a hinge or a heavy "U" spring like a spring swage to keep them aligned.
   - grant - Saturday, 11/29/08 18:42:14 EST

"Coal along abandoned RR-rails" Even after the rails are pulled up the rail road companies take their property rights quite seriously. Something piled along them may have value and may not. . .

Two stories:

A friend of mine owned a two acre lot adjacent to some rail lines. On it he had stored many tons of steel beam, trusses and a set of rolling mill frames. One day he saw a recognizable part going down the street on a small truck. . . and followed it. A local scraper had chopped up the beams, trusses and frames into pieces he could man handle and take to the scrap yard. . . He was caught, but had an alibi, the city had said he could "clean up" along the rail road tracks. . . apparently the rail road was not too happy either as they had missing equipment in the same area. But in the end the old fellow got off because of the confusion and fact that he had no assets to repay the cost of the mis-appropriated goods. . . But he COULD have ended up in jail. Nobody wanted to sue the city over the "small" loss. My friend lost all his collected steel and the rail road took out a protection notice to prohibit the fellow from being on any rail road property. . .

Along an apparently long abandoned RR-line in the mountains of Virginia there is a large stack of rather odd looking heavy metallic material. Every now and then a hunter or hiker comes across it and reports a hazardous waste dump as the material is quite heavy and has a lead like metallic luster. It is at the end of some rails on a private spur that has trees growing up through the rails.

In fact the material and rails are not abandoned (or were not at the time). The stack of material is manganese nodules used in making steel and the tracks while looking rough were kept in usable condition. . The material was part of the U.S. strategic reserve of materials needed in time of war.

The few small trees growing between the rails could be easily cleared and the material delivered to nearby foundries within a day or two. Neither the material nor the rails were abandoned and they both belonged to the U.S. Government. The first time the pile was reported it stirred up a lot of interest because nobody in the local county government knew anything about it. The EPA was investigating who the "abandoned" property and rails belonged to when they found it was the government. . .

There is almost nothing that doesn't belong to someone. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/29/08 19:27:15 EST

Francis Whitaker's Production (making multiples) Shovel.

I saw Francis' demo where he hammered the curve of the shovel heel over a form that he made. The form was forged of mild steel, 3/8" x 1". The sheet metal was oversize of the form and all clamped vertically in the vise, curve topmost. Francis used a cross peen hammer, the peen being maybe an inch thick and half-round. For heat, he used a torch tip, not a rosebud. He was getting a fairly tight "corner" where the heel met the pan base, so he really had some wrinkles to contend with. AS SOON AS he saw even a suggestion of a wrinkle, he turned his hammer over to use heat and the big peen to smooth it out. A portion of the shovel was in the vise and was therefore not bendable in this manner. Francis did not have time to show how he finished this part, but I assume it could be done by clamping the device upside down after the heel was finished.

Now as to the forging of the form. He did not say how it was forged, nor did anyone ask. It didn't occur to me to ask, as I already knew how. The heel had a nice angle to it, not 90º, more like 110º at the very back, then continuing and changing to about 100º toward the business end. I took these angle measurements from one that I made when I returned home; these degree numbers are not written in stone. To get the compound curve, I cut about 18" of the 3/8" x 1" flat and bent the central area (to be the heel) on edge into a boomerang shape. Then I bent on the flat into the U shape desired and leveled. By working carefully, the angled heel and sides will be a given because of the previous boomerang shape. A strut is arc welded crossways inside the form to keep it from opening up in use.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/29/08 19:36:39 EST

A footnote to my above post about Franics' shovel form. After bending, the top edge of the shovel is pretty cruddy looking, quite uneven. It needs to be trimmed using a Beverly and/or whatever method will give a smooth topline.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/29/08 19:42:47 EST

Frank - that is the method I use for fireplace shovels also. I must have learned that from either you or Francis . I made up several different sizes of forms for a variety of shovel sizes and shapes. The tighter the "boomerang" shape on the initial bend, the more back angle the finished form will have. Also it helps if you have a large flat blade screw driver available to pry the wrinkles back out as they form. I just take my finished shovels to the 14 inch grinder to clean up the top line.
   - Bernard Tappel - Saturday, 11/29/08 20:58:06 EST

"Coal along abandoned RR-rails" PartII

I really don't want to chime in on this discussion. The coal found along railroad tracks is called "Stoker Coal". It is NOT a good grade of Blacksmith coal. It usually has large green streaks running through it. It has an extremely high sulfur content. It burns very dirty. You will become surrounded in a hazy green brown smoke. It does burn very hot because of all the volitiles in it. It cakes up greasy in appearance. It is very difficult to forge weld with because it is so dity. It is hard to forge while choking on the smoke and smell. The fire is difficult to regulate. The coal sticks to the steel.

I have spent many hours forging and forge welding with stoker coal. It is not something for a newbie to learn smithing with. It is bad for your lungs. It is a huge NONO to go picking anything up on the RR properties. As Guru mentioned.

If you can't afford good coal. Ask Mom and Dad for money or get a JOB and buy some do not steel.

Why am I hesitant to chime in. I just think concerning the sink forge and stoker coal person needs to spend some time reading books, forums how to get started, searching out local Blacksmiths and trial and error first. Then come ask good questions.

   - Rustystuff - Saturday, 11/29/08 21:12:43 EST

Maybe I am being a bit harsh. Don't mean to be.
   - Rustystuff - Saturday, 11/29/08 21:19:10 EST

I think stoker coal varies from place to place. What was sold locally when I was using coal was top grade Pocahontas brand (with little metal disks mixed in with the Indian Princess head and "Quality Pocahontas Coal" on the outer edge). It was not perfect coal but it coked well and produced a good forge welding heat. A pound or so of clinker from a days forging if you started with a clean forge.

   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/08 00:11:23 EST

Shovel forms: There are all kinds of ways to do this depending on the tools and methods you have available. Mine were simple bent round bar arc welded to heavy plate and heavy plate torch cut and ground to shape.

Forms can be made by welding forged flat bar to profiled plate, round or square bar bent and welded or carved molds.

In forging this kind of shape wrinkles are more likely to occur than not. Getting rid of them is a form of upsetting. Large wrinkles should be divided into smaller wrinkles (more even distribution), the tops heated with a torch and worked down to make the metal thicker. It is a form of raising around a form.

Good quality plate will stretch quite a bit and can be worked into a wood form. Stretching avoids most of the wrinkles.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/08 00:19:22 EST

The stoker coal must really vary Guru. Cause there is definetly no good quality Pocahontas bitunimous coal mixed in with the stuff I used. I was using decades/century old coal from steam tenders. Not stuff they haul now for generation plants. Probably where the confusion lies. You can't get stoker coal anymore around here. Not that one would want it for forging. Good point about the clinkers too. Nothing like having a clinker the size of your firebox. Burns really hot though. Just writing about the nasty dirty stuff brought the headache from the smoke it use to give me back.

I have used coal from different mines including Pocahontas. I have had great coal and lousy coal from the same mine including #3. It can very greatly just a few feet away.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 11/30/08 01:28:05 EST

Thanks for all the good advise on hammer forging.
I have several leads that should turn more than something up.


   bender - Sunday, 11/30/08 02:10:05 EST

does anyone know of any good places to buy refractory cement in the cleveland Ohio area or any one who ships for reasonable price? thanks guys
   Jake T. - Sunday, 11/30/08 02:27:17 EST

Jake T: Look in the local Yellow Pages under Refractory.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 11/30/08 04:11:17 EST

will do thanks ken
   Jake T. - Sunday, 11/30/08 05:07:59 EST

I' currently using some coal that the yard refered to as "stoker coal"

I get a lot of clinker but it cokes ok. I ahuled the first batch in my truck and the last time, I had them deliver a ton. Even paying the extra $100 for delivery it was a fraction of the cost of coal from Centaur or someplace.

Getting good coal has gotten to be a real problem.
   Mike Ferrara - Sunday, 11/30/08 06:49:58 EST

Frank, Yes you got it in one.
   philip in china - Sunday, 11/30/08 07:09:46 EST

Pea, Stoker, Nut and Lump are all coal size or screen designations. Nut is about the size of a shelled walnut and Pea the size of a large Pea. Stoker is generally half way between. Lump can be the size of a foot ball and smaller.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/30/08 07:12:44 EST

I like the refractory cement made by the Prior Giggey corp. Works real good, my forge has NO pipe, propane tank, or other metal shell- its just a cast refractory cylinder.
Prior Giggey has a distributor in Huron Ohio, Called Lakeway.
Try them.
   - Ries - Sunday, 11/30/08 12:07:54 EST

Hi Guru
I suspect the stoker coal I am refering too is something completely different as you are refering too. I am not talking about a screen sized coal given a modern name of stoker. I am referring too what was actually used in steam tenders. It all varied in sizes. It is a different animal than the bitunimous coal we use for forging. Sorry if I confused anyone on that point.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 11/30/08 14:47:15 EST

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