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This is an archive of posts from November 24 - 30, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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A while back, Bituminous Bits had an issue that detailed all of Clifton Ralph's tooling. Does anyone know where reprints might be available. AFC does not offer them on their website.

   Steven B. - Tuesday, 11/24/09 08:10:18 EST

QUAD STATE: ptree, thanks for the confermation on the "bevy" but, untill the defence work is done at our shop, I'll be on the weekend shift and likely unable to make it to Quad State in 2010.

I don't think a 250 lb. forged anvil for $3000. would be entirely out of line.
Of corse it seems like alot but, if I am a professional blacksmith making a living from my work, that anvil is just another tool and the purchase cost is defrayed over its expected usefulness.
I would guess that an anvil is like anything else purchased new, as soon as it leaves the show room floor it is now used and looses some value.
If I were to buy this anvil with a capital investment loan, I would expect to have to pay it off befor it depreciates below a certain point like any other machine tool a shop might buy.
I would bet that an American made, forged anvil of that size and, of new manufacture, would hold most of its value (probably 3/4 or more) Of course that would depend on its quality reputation.
I think too this anvil would have to be made as a side line product from a large forgeing shop to help defray the cost of its production. If this anvil was only purchased by blacksmiths that could justify the cost and maybe another couple handfulls of those who would buy it for the prestiege (how many Ford F350 Super Duty pickups are bought for "big boys toys"?) How many would you sell befor everyone who wanted one, had one? If they never wear out in a couple of lifetimes there will likely not be alot of repeat sales except for those who are buying additional units for an expanding shop.
I know of several hobbies that have stuff that goes for far more that $3K.
As I said above, the shop that is going to make something like this needs to be diversified and not try to make a living on just selling anvils. That's when corners get cut and quality may suffer unless the shop is just big enough to produce its 200 per year quota (two or three guys doing everything ).
My only real concern would be that the anvil was produced in a closed die instead of being worked under open dies as they were in the past. Does anyone or, has anyone made an anvil in closed dies? What would having the parting line running the long way down the middle do for perfomance of the anvil?
I relise that the technique and technology to make an anvil of this size, under open dies, may be lost but, that doesn't mean that the right shop with the right team of guys couldn't make it happen. It could start out as a "club" activity in a larger forge shop. A group of guys willing to donate their time on the occational Sunday and the shop willing to donate the use of the equipment with the sale procedes going to offset the costs of the learning curve untill the "anvil team" was able to stand on their own and produce anvils cost effectivly as the orders came in.
All a really nice day dream I know but, it gets me through the day sometimes...
   - merl - Tuesday, 11/24/09 11:34:38 EST

Merl, since the trim line would need to run lenghtwise down the table and horn for a closed die anvil to be easy to make, this is an issue. The trim line however would be where anvils are usually machined/finished, so not an issue on the working surfaces.
The price I guessed, is for a shop that already has everythng except the dies for the anvil. The capitol to set up a big drop hammer and trim press with dies and heat treat etc would make those 200 or so anvils $30-40K EACH otherwise:)

Even old composite open die forged anvils were machined and ground, so the trim line should not be any issue, even for those who want
   - ptree - Tuesday, 11/24/09 13:55:15 EST

Merl, since the trim line would need to run lenghtwise down the table and horn for a closed die anvil to be easy to make, this is an issue. The trim line however would be where anvils are usually machined/finished, so not an issue on the working surfaces.
The price I guessed, is for a shop that already has everythng except the dies for the anvil. The capitol to set up a big drop hammer and trim press with dies and heat treat etc would make those 200 or so anvils $30-40K EACH otherwise:)

Even old composite open die forged anvils were machined and ground, so the trim line should not be any issue, even for those who want "big boy toys" :)
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/24/09 13:55:31 EST

In the long established two piece method the bottom of the base is UP and the face of the anvil can be UP but is often forged from the side.

I think there is a much greater likelihood of someone setting up to make fabricated anvils from heavy plate flame cut to near finished shape, the horn machined. The huge advantage is that a full line of sizes as well as some optional shapes could be produced with no extra tooling cost other than some minor fixtures.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/24/09 14:46:35 EST

Steven B....

Clay Spencer has put together a document (for tire hammer users) that encompasses many of Clifton Ralph's tools (as well as others). You can find it at


Enjoy :-)
   - Dave Hammer - Tuesday, 11/24/09 15:22:59 EST

Fabricated anvil:
We have hashed and re-hashed that one a number of times.
My feeling from the last time this option was discussed was that a fabricated anvil really had to be priced competitivle to sell.
Potential buyers will look at something with a flame cut body and assume that they could do the same thing with a big enough torch and say there is no way I'm going to pay $ "X" for that. I'll just have the steel supplier burn me one from 6" plate and I'll finish the horn with a hand grinder some Saturday...
I wouldn't pay $3000. for a fabricated anvil but, I would for one that was forged in the US
Having said that, it must be conciderd that an anvil made from hot rolled plate has had as much forging done to it as one done under open dies. After all, that plate did start as a big ingot.
Scan induction harden the top, with a good size hardie and pritchel hole. I wouldn't put a horn or a counter on it at all. Make one end like a set of combination dies that you see on a power hammer and, if you just have to have a counter then give me two hardie holes with one near the solid mass and sweet spot so I won't break the tail off.
If I need a horn of some sort then I'll stick a bickern in the hardie.
Now if you can get them out at 300-400lbs for $1000 or less they will "fly off the shelves"
Make one en
   - merl - Tuesday, 11/24/09 15:59:26 EST

Merl, I think the cost of the infra structure will probably preclude us ever seeing a US made production forged anvil again.
A well fabbed big plate anvil would offer possibilities, and a big well cast, well designed, well finished anvil, cast in the US would have a market. Wait the last exists in several cases, see Nimba, and Mousholes.

I made a plate anvil ala Brazeal Brothers style, easy to make with my tools, and worked. Mine was not heat treated, but a heat treated version, made well should have a market. Doesn't look like a london pattern so....
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/24/09 17:55:07 EST

For those interested in Acetylene draw rates.
Just got an "OSHA Quicktakes" today of interest.
Mentions that the rules for Acetylene had been changed and became final. Mentions that the new rule is based on the now out of date CGA G-1 rule of 2003. Current CGA G-1 is 2009. At any rate the 1966 rule called for 1/7th of tank capacity draw rate. The 2003 rule calls for 1/10th draw for intermittant use, and 1/15th draw rate for continuous use.
Reference 29CFR1910.102, 1910.102(a), and 1910.253
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/24/09 18:00:20 EST

Nice... so what exactly is the danger in draw rate?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 11/24/09 18:57:38 EST

Nip, If you over draw, you start to pull out the acetone that the acetylene is disolved in, which tends to fail seals in things like the regulator.
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/24/09 20:09:12 EST

Acetylene Over Draw Rules: Drawing acetone also cools the flame. . . AND the acetone is a significant part of the safety system in an acetylene cylinder. Use up enough acetone and you leave acetylene gas at high pressure in that space. . If you own the cylinder the acetone must be replaced. If you lease the cylinder the lessor will not be happy if the cylinder is short. Some loss is expected but should be minimal.

The major USER problem is the cylinder freezes up if you over draw it. This causes pressure drop, torches popping out, backfires in the torch. . . A lot of noise, aggravation and some danger.

I suspect the 1/7th rule was based on nothing more than the maximum you can draw without freeze up. The new stricter guidelines are probably safety driven to the nth degree.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/24/09 21:10:33 EST

Hi, I need help in trying to identify an anvil manufacturer. Earlier this year I was able to pick up a 300 lb anvil at a farm auction. There is no name on the anvil, only a large "R" at the base on one side and a "Z" on the waist on the other side. I looks similar to my Hay-Budden. My best geuss is it was made for sale at a farm and feed store as a store brand anvil. It is in excellent condition, but rings like a church bell if I do not deaden the sound. Any help would be appreciated. I know it will probably be difficult with the information I have supplied.
   Clint - Tuesday, 11/24/09 22:04:44 EST

Clint, Many no-name anvils have been made over the years using another anvil for the pattern. To ID it on what you have is probably not possible.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/25/09 01:44:31 EST

People buy anvils with their hearts, not their heads.
Just like cars, sex appeal, emotion, and fantasy helps determine anvil lust.

So an ugly, functional torch cut anvil is not gonna "fly off the shelves" because it doesnt fit anywhere in the old historic fantasy of blacksmithing that so many people have.

Most blacksmiths in the USA are not buying tools only based on efficient cost/benefit principles, and never will.

Sex sells.
And just like some people like curvy redheads, and others like tall skinny brunettes (of either sex) some smiths want a Nimba, and others a Peter Wright, and rarely do the twain meet....
   - Ries - Wednesday, 11/25/09 10:50:18 EST

Hammer Technique
Hi folks, I have a question regarding hammer technique. I often see guys at demos and even people in classes using a hammer to make a glancing or kind of a swiping blow to try to move metal. This seems like poor technique to me. It would seem better to use the proper fuller, or the horn to try to spread metal, as a swiping type of blow is pretty inefficient. Am I missing something? I would never try to correct someone at a demo, but I kind of cringe when I see it. I have seen instructors actually teach this to students, so I don't know if I am barking up the wrong tree or not. Thanks for your comments!
   Dave F. - Wednesday, 11/25/09 12:58:15 EST

I have a PW I *want* a Nimba---have thought of chartering a viking ship to make a raid on the US VI to pick one up...then I realized I would have to hire Frisians to take it from the vikings...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/25/09 13:00:48 EST

Well. . Some design is functional, some is cultural, much is traditional and yes, a LOT is sex. See The Upturned Horn, Anthropomorphism.

Anvil design is like any other tool design. Screw drivers and wrenches not only fit the fastener but also the hand. Handles immediately become artistic in taper and swell, roundness of corners. To me one of the all time great handle designs is the old Craftsman screwdriver handle. It has a ball end to press on, a faceted grip that gives high non-slip friction without sharp edges, a convex spool that helps spin the tool between the fingers and the whole in an attractive red and blue on clear (red, whit and blue) design.

Wrenches used to all have that S curved shape that then went out of style. The shape was art. The oval shape of the grip is ergonomic design. Back when Snap-On was making Craftsman wrenches Sears had a designer who made a wrench thicker partially with the bosses for the brand name. It made a good grip that was easier on the hands than the thin Snap-on pattern and the bosses created low steps for better grip. It was both artistic and good design.

Sears spent a LOT of money on tool design in the 70's with some beautiful as well as functional portable electric tools. Sadly they had the working parts redesigned to be as cheap as possible resulting in cream-puff tools (looks good but different inside). Much of the design was eronomics but with style as well.

I have an image somewhere of Ancient Greek stone cutters tools cut in bas-relief by a stone cutter. The chisel had an octagonal cross section and was thinner in the middle and flared out toward the end of the grip and the struck end. It was VERY graceful. This was ART the smith put into forging the chisel. It was an ergonomic shape with good grip. But a styleless straight sided chisel with the tapers misaligned to the section flats works fine. It is just ugly.

The desire for beautiful tools is not just fantasy and lust. It is part of being an artistic sensitive human. While an artist's tools can be ugly the fact is that an artist applies their vision to everything in their world, including their tools.

Besides the "art" there is just plain good craftsmanship. Clean crisp lines, rounded corners, proper finish. The art is often just an extension of doing a good job. Items that LOOK well made generally are (Or at least have a chance). Items that show poor design from the beginning have less of a chance of being properly made, OR that is how they appear.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/25/09 13:19:47 EST

Dave F. Hammer Technique.

Yes, no, and maybe. For everyday work, drawing and bending, the metal is hit "fair and square." However, there are certain times that "drawing" or "friction" blows are used, as when forging an upset corner. After the radius bend, you're upsetting metal into the outside of the bend, thus creating a decent corner. A former cowboy student of mine named these friction blows, "slitherin' blows." I kinda' like that.

Having said the above, I must mention the Scottish blacksmith, Edward Martin, who passed away recently. I've watched Mr. Martin work on a couple of occasions. I saw him in Lexington, KY, and he paused during his work and told the audience that "there was a wee bit of a drawback of the hammer when it contacted the hot iron." He said that it was more apparent than real. I assume it looks that way because of the natural arc of the swing. I don't think he was telling us that it was an intentional friction blow. Nor do I believe that is WAS a friction blow, perhaps more of an optical illusion. He was still hitting the iron fair and square.

When drawing iron, a small percentage of beginners use sliding blows going away from them. This is a waste of energy. It's akin to ice skating, and it is to be avoided.

Mr. Martin received a gold medal in London in the year 2000, awarded by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths. The medal is stamped, "Awarded to Edward Martin, SUPREME MASTER BLACKSMITH." It was the third such medal given in the last 100 years. Therefore, if Mr. Martin says something pertaining to blacksmithing, I pay attention.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/25/09 17:50:04 EST

Flying Anvils: I think that there would be enough of a market that the ugly torch cut anvil could at least be carted around with a fork lift then...
I think a certain percentage of the hobby and full time blacksmiths must feel that the standard anvil setup with a horn and counter and one large flat surface is not the be-all and end-all of anvil designs.
Yeah, sex sells. I'll be the first to admit that I could not live with myself until I found the classic example of the anvil we all think of (in this country anyway) when we don't have any practical knowlage or experience to guide us.
Like most of us here, I make my living with tools and machines of all kinds. Any tool or machine that is not efficent or doesn't work logicly is a burden to use.
It doesn't matter what the name on it is or what the history of the thing is, it has to get the job done day in and day out without driving me into the ground.
I do use every part of my Hay-Bud and my ugly Russian but, MOST OF THE TIME I only need a short section of it for drawing out.
Now that I have a few years of practical experience I could get along with a 300# chunk of iron with a hardie hole in the middle and a pile of custom made hardie tools to fill the needs of my work.
"Most blacksmiths in the USA are not buying tools based on cost/benefit principles, and never will."
That is true. They are not the target market here.
   - merl - Wednesday, 11/25/09 19:44:17 EST

Dave F.
Post Script. I graduated from MSU, 1959.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/25/09 21:54:54 EST

Hi, I'm hoping you can direct me to a place or person who can answer some questions for a story I'm writing that includes a blacksmith shop and the tools and machinery it might have included around 1960. (It would have been built around 1860 on a ranch in Montana, and been in use and updated up to that time) I'm trying to find a blacksmith locally (S.E. Michigan) as a resource, but so far no luck! I also need a resource for making armour and swords. Thanks, I would very much appreciate any information you could provide.
   Carrole - Wednesday, 11/25/09 22:46:56 EST

   Mike T. - Thursday, 11/26/09 01:13:35 EST

Sorry for using all capital letters, I forgot.

   Mike T. - Thursday, 11/26/09 01:16:05 EST

Carrole, Try

   - guru - Thursday, 11/26/09 01:43:20 EST

steel storage

Are any pics available of vertical steel storage racks? The old horizontal rack looks like too much wasted space to me after 30 years. Time to re-organize the shop this weekend when the kids will be here for food/help. Any comments /help is appreciated.

   brian robertson - Thursday, 11/26/09 10:04:22 EST

Frank, thanks for your reply. I learn so much from these discussions! I think I understand better that a friction (slitherin') blow has a place in the arsenal. I must say, when Frank Turley speaks about 'smithing, I listen!! MSU is a great school! I went to college elsewhere, but now work for MSU. Thanks again!
   Dave F - Thursday, 11/26/09 10:45:27 EST

Vertical Storage Racks: Brian, I've never seen such except for lumber and pipe in the big box stores and my lumber supplier. Even then they only use it for limited quantities of specialty goods such as moldings. Plate is usually kept on edge if it can be lifted with a plate lifting cam.

All these tall racks rely on the angle of the stock to hold it in place. While the rack will not tip over on its own it would be easy to tip it over if it is not bolted down OR against a wall.

One disadvantage of the vertical rack is its height. For practical purposes it will need to accept 12 foot lengths (CF bar) but have supports for 10 and 8 feet. For shorter random lengths the back of the rack must be a solid surface (steel plate, heavy well supported plywood).

The other disadvantage is handling. You go from the stock being horizontal on the truck to vertical in the rack and then from vertical in the rack to horizontal on in the cutting equipment. That is a lot of turning bars up and down and the ends swinging around dangerously. If you work alone all the time its OK but otherwise it could be a hazard.

I've thought about racks a lot in the past couple years since I am moving. I also have a fork lift now for unloading and moving loads. I've moved numerous loads of short (10 foot and less) bar with the machine and want racks designed to move fully loaded so I can clear them out of the shop when the space is needed. A vertical rack MIGHT be more conducive for that purpose but the door height issues come into play (as width already does), also setting outdoors on soft ground might present a tipping hazard. AND a last thought, it could not be moved on a truck.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/26/09 10:51:28 EST

Most mild steel comes in 20 foot lengths, so my main rack for mild is 20 feet long, and standing 20 footers up vertically is a bit hairy, I think.
First, of course, you need 20 foot ceilings...
Which most of us dont have.

I have a 4 shelf 20 foot long rack, with 18" long shelf supports, and there are 4 vertical posts with shelf supports, so there is a support every 7 feet.
This works well for 20 foot lengths, even of whippy stuff like 3/8" round.
A couple of shelves have pieces of plywood spanning the shelf supports, so that shorter pieces wont fall thru.
One shelf is level with my main cutoff saw, a 14" cold saw, so I can just slide pieces of steel from that shelf right onto the saw vise.

Even with 12' pieces, which is the standard for aluminum, copper alloys, stainless, and cold rolled, standing a 12' piece of 1/4" round straight up would seem to be problematic- it would tend to bend under its own weight.

I do have a vertical rack near the saw, but restrict its use to pieces under 6' in length, and even then, it doenst get used anywhere near as much as the horizontal racks.

As guru mentioned, its a lot easier to load a horizontal rack with a forklift.
And its a lot less scary to store something like a 20 foot length of 2" square horizontally- I wouldnt want to stand one of those puppies up on end.
   - Ries - Thursday, 11/26/09 13:16:52 EST

Vertical Storage Racks

I had vertical storage racks for years. I really don't recommend it. I did this because of not having storage space. The 12' cold rolled would get cut in half. The 21' hot rolled would get cut in three pieces. It is stored by size. Then everyone stores things in front of the racks making it almost impossible to get to the steel. As Jock mentions the disadvantage of having short lengths when you need long ones. It is a little trouble and time consuming, but you can always stick steel back together. My wood welder does not seem to work as well. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!
   - Brande - Thursday, 11/26/09 13:22:48 EST

I wouldn't ever consider 20 foot pieces on end. And since I have not been in a situation to have steel delivered the max lengths I have on hand are 12 foot. However, I've got about 500 pounds of 20 foot stock on the rack at our family shop. I'll probably cut it to move since my truck has a 12 foot bed.

Our family shop stock rack was built in the middle of a 30 foot long room so there is 5 feet on each end. It has a middle "spine" or column with arms on both sides, those at the bottom about a foot wider than those at the top. A few places have wood shelves for short lengths. The saw was setup on one side of the rack and there are shelves opposite the far side. The room has garage doors on the exterior end and a standard door near the saw. It neatly holds a LOT of stock. It is not a convenient as it could be but much more convenient than many others.

The tallest vertical racks I've seen for wood were 16 feet since that is the normal limit for most lumber.

The middle of Paw-Paw's shop building is a little over 20 feet I think, but at the side walls its only 12-14 feet. My old shop had 16 foot ceilings but I did not like handling 12 foot lengths vertically because there was too many things to hit such as lights. Handling long bars vertically it is even possible to hit lights flush on a 16 foot ceiling. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 11/26/09 13:39:32 EST

Thanks for the input. I have 2 horizontal racks now. 1 in the shed with 6 18" deep "shelves" on 2'centers for 20'& 22' material & a 10' wide rack in the shop for shorts mounted on the 10' block wall. When looking at it you can see alot more wall than steel even when "full". I was thinking, if it could be rotated and pushed together some how there would be room for a new "toy".
   brian robertson - Thursday, 11/26/09 13:43:00 EST

I store my steel (mostly 7-10' lengths) standing in the corner, since I don't really have room for anything else. It can be a real pain to get to something that's not in front. I'd think it would be a lot easier to fish a piece out from the back of a horizontal rack.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 11/26/09 14:33:01 EST

I have both horz and vert rstorage. My long say more the 5' goes in the horz and the shorter lenghts in vertical.
My horz is along what I call the "steel alley" I have a 26' long by 5' wide enclosed part that runs off the shop. Has a door at the end to allow entry of the long bars. Since the shop is post and beam, I have a post every 4' on each side and have driven 7/16" short bars on an angle to hold the stock at 6" interval down each post. I also have a table down the leght that is level with my chop saw.
Works for me.
   ptree - Thursday, 11/26/09 16:35:12 EST

I store almost all my steel vertically. The vertical rack allows me to sort all my stock and get at it quickly. My steel rack has a large variety of different sizes but not a large quantity of any one size. While bars come as 20 ft lengths if I pick them up I usually have them cut in half anyways. When I need a lot of steel for a job I buy the steel for that job rather than carrying a lot of inventory. The stock in my rack is for smaller jobs or for getting started on a job before the steel gets delivered. When stock gets delivered it gets cut to size for the job right away rather than racked. I do have several metal suppliers within 10 minutes of the shop.

I copied my rack from one of my steel suppliers they have some horizontal racks but they store a lot vertically. The horizontals on the rack are made of the steel angle that is used for Dexion type shelving, they are full of holes and slots. The dividers are 6"x5/16" carrige bolts this makes modifying the rack very easy. There is a picture of my rack on Iforgiron on the top of the fourth page of the I'll show you mine, if you show me yours! thread.
   - JNewman - Thursday, 11/26/09 18:47:33 EST

rotating stock rack

A horoizontal rack on the outer wall of the shop that indexed in a circular pattern. Then index into position of stock size desired and lift a rubber flap on the inside wall and pull the stock in the opening. The exterior rack could be enclosed in a shelter that had a quick removal side and end for stocking purposes.

I thought this is a start and you can expand on it.
   - Brande - Thursday, 11/26/09 19:40:10 EST

Patent Pending...GRIN
   - Brande - Thursday, 11/26/09 19:41:36 EST

When I need stock for general use cut for hauling I have 20's cut into thirds (6'8") if I need to haul it in the car or min-van. But if hauling by truck I have it cut into 12 and 8 foot pieces. This assures some over 10 foot pieces if needed.

In recent years I have had some stock stored against walls vertically. I am not enamored with it as there have been incidents of pieces hanging and falling when others are moved or pieces sliding sideways then the bottom kicking out when the piece hit the top guide and stopped abruptly.

There is a significant danger in just leaning stock against a wall. If the bottom is pushed in for some reason then the top is going to tip out and the piece fall over. This is one of those Murphy's Laws effects. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 11/26/09 20:19:01 EST

If I understand the indexing stock rack right, it reminds me of the kid who was left by himself for the winter in a cabin on the steppes. He started playing Russian roulette every day with his father's perfectly balanced revolved. After he survived a month, he calculated the odds against that happening, and decided he must be invincible. He wandered away from the cabin at night and was promptly devoured by wolves.

According to the story, gravity caused the cylinder to always stop with the loaded chamber down. True or not, if you load a few sticks of 1" square in one side of the rack, you'd better have a good way to get that section back up from the bottom.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 11/26/09 21:13:04 EST

Adjunct rotating stock rack


Good point. I was thinking a large electric motor driving a reducing gear box with heavy sprockets and roller chain. I guess I failed to mention this important mechanical portion. Controls would be inside shop.
   - Brande - Thursday, 11/26/09 21:21:11 EST

Rotating stock rack. The center of the rack would have a large pinion shaft with pivots on each end. The drive sprockets or a pinion gear would go on the shaft. It could be chain or direct gear drive. Whatever you like. :)

Now feel free to modify this entire design and make something very out of the box or crazy.

   - Brande - Thursday, 11/26/09 21:55:55 EST

Rotating inventory systems have been around for years. They vary from jewelers displays to big industrial shelving units. Each shelf is geared to stay level and there is usually a motorized indexing system due to the inherent imbalance issue. It is expensive and I think the space savings does not balance the cost. SO, today we have large warehouses with robotic retrieval systems (automated fork lifts) that fit in super narrow isles.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/26/09 23:04:43 EST

First task of inventing is to research the existing technology or the "prior art" as the patent folk call it.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/26/09 23:06:58 EST

Guru, Guru, Guru

I love you man, but sometimes I have to smack myself in the forehead. I was just having fun with the idea of a rotating stock rack for the blacksmith shop. The patent thing was a total humorous joke. The conversation on vertical and horizontal storage needed a little twist. I do think a mechanical stock rack could be a fun and useful thing for the blacksmith shop. I thought you guys could really have fun with that being engineer's. I know these things were already invented. I just haven't seen one in a blacksmith shop yet. I know you guys could really make something functional and artistic. I can see you nice folks are not interested and all is good.
   - Brande - Friday, 11/27/09 01:56:38 EST

If I understand right, in order to weld stainless steel to make damascus, it must be done in an oxygen free enviroment, such as a canister. If I wanted to weld ( let's say ) W1 with 1095 would that still apply as W1 contains chromium. I think steels with at least 14 percent chromium are classified as stainless. I guess what I am asking is, can steels with smaller amounts of chromium be welded with regular carbon steel without having an oxygen free environment ?
   Mike T. - Friday, 11/27/09 09:43:39 EST

The problem with inventing new things is the fact that you are competing with billions of people in this world. If it is possible or probable, it has probably already been thought of. Like Guru says, any new idea should be researched thouroly before going ahead. If you DO have an original idea tell no one about it. I am going to tell you a real story.....my cousin came up with an idea to have valve stems on cars color coded so that enough air in a tire would show green, a loss of pressure would show red etc. He was at a tavern talking and discussing things and revealed his idea for the valve stem. The guy he was talking to went out and got the patent for this idea ( TRUE STORY ), my cousin hired a lawyer and the court made the decision to allow him to recieve so much in compensation, a new vehicle from Ford every year plus so much in compensation every month, but it is a far cry from what he would have received if he had just kept his mouth shut.
   Mike T. - Friday, 11/27/09 10:05:42 EST

OK. . next time you're at the scrap yard look for the brightly colored stuff from the scraped ferris wheel. Set it up next to your shop and when you need stock you can also give the neighborhood kids a ride. But those stuck at the top just have to wait. . until you need that 405SS. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/27/09 10:06:41 EST

I like your idea. It would keep the neighbor kids out of th way...LOL
   - Brande - Friday, 11/27/09 10:11:53 EST

Hi I am considering using Earth Air Tubes in order to increase positve air pressure in my shop to replace all the air I draw out with forge work and ventilation. I live at the 51 rst parallel where it gets cold. Has anyone else tried this?
   Dan - Friday, 11/27/09 13:49:59 EST

Dan, The colder the climate the deeper you have to go. If Earth Air tubes work in your area for any purpose then it would work in your shop. Even 50°F (10°C) air is better than sub-freezing. You also have to consider the cost benefit ratio.

Another system to replace draft air is to pipe it directly to the blower. However, a friend in relatively temperate Virginia had found it beneficial to heat the air going to his forge in the winter in order to get better welding heats. He built a stack heater to scavenge some stack heat.
   - guru - Friday, 11/27/09 14:43:33 EST

Welding Alloy Steels: Mike, This is commonly done just using lots of flux to exclude air. It also needs to be an agressive flux with flourite (calcium flouride, CaF2).
   - guru - Friday, 11/27/09 14:46:46 EST

Inventions: Generally, if it is mechanical, it has been patented. Many companies and patented inventors go on patent sprees where they not only invent things they research the current patents and actively try to find ways around them. Most of my father's dozen or so patents were the result of the company he was working for being "on the hunt", trying to get as many patents in their field as possible before the competition did the same.

Part of the idea is to prevent others from improving on your patent OR being too successful in your field. But after more than a century of this there are very few truly NEW inventions except in developing high tech fields.

If you do a good job on mechanical prior art you find that there are patents by the dozens from the 1800's covering almost every conceivable mechanical problem. If you have worked hard on all the possible configurations that your invention could be in you'll find that many methods that you have rejected are already been patented over 100 years ago.

Many of today's patents are "design" patents. These are about like a copyright. Only the exact form of the device is covered to prevent others from making duplicate copies of parts. But these patents do not protect the mechanical function, just the shape of the part(s).

   - guru - Friday, 11/27/09 16:45:42 EST

Theoretically, design patents are for *ornamental* designs. That probably gets stretched somewhat in practice, but I doubt you could get one on a part that's not visible to the consumer.
   Mike BR - Friday, 11/27/09 21:11:05 EST

Dan: An air to air heat exchanger can be used to recover some of the heat that is lost due to ventilation. If incorporated with the ground tubes and forge chimny the heat recovery could be quite a lot.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/27/09 22:06:31 EST

Ground Heat: I had an idea to build an artificial cavern complete with stalactites and stalagmites as part of a home. The cavern would have winding and twisting passages, rooms, a lake. . and a small gated air intake at one end and a house air intake and door at the other. A regular Tom and Huckelberry cavern where you could camp with kids. . . and get ground warmed air for your home.

Construction would be ferro-concrete over hand sculpted sand forms. The pathways, stairs, foundation and whatnot would be made first, then the sand mounded up. Where you wanted stalactites you would cast them in a mold then they would be stuck into the sand and anchored to the rebar. After the shell was complete the sand would be wheel barrowed out

The stalactites and heavy wall textures (flowstone falls), blind tunnels and such would add lots of surface area for heat exchange. The whole would be buried under as much as 8 to 10 feet of clay.

. . . just one of those crazy ideas. Why make tunnels when you can use the same materials to make FUN tunnels. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/27/09 23:57:57 EST

Your idea of a cavern is a great idea. I saw a man on television that built a house in the shape of a whale, it had the fins and flippers and all, the eyes were windows. One thing I have sort of dreamed about was a result of seeing a house a lady built out of an old commercial jet. She had the plane brought to the lot, and spent a good deal of money and time making it into a home, this is a beautiful home with lots of windows.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 11/28/09 03:41:30 EST

I have had a childish idea for a long time. Building a room high in the air sort of like a forest rangers tower. Have my television, computer etc. in it, and just be able to look at the view, of course most of the view would be bean fields and rice fields, but I still like the idea.
However, we live in what is known as tornado ally, and that could be a problem. :)
   Mike T. - Saturday, 11/28/09 03:51:33 EST

Just returned from my BAM workshop in St. Louis, and my l first and second cousins, local residents, took me to the City Museum, housed in a 16 story former shoe factory building. The Enchanted Cave has been built on the ground floor by sculptor Bob Cassilly and a team of artisans. The museum is truly an amazing place with lots of recycled materials used throughout the rest of the museum. One hall contained salvaged stone carvings, pillar capitals, and some wrought and cast ornamental iron. These looked as if they were found on late 19th and early 20th century buildings.

Check it out@ http://www.citymuseum.org/home.asp
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/28/09 08:06:25 EST

Rm w/a Vu Mike, A friend of ours bought a small antique water tower for scrap. Its one of the old ones with a round bottom and a conical cap. Over 100 feet I think. He dismantled it then reassembled it on a hill above his home. Its now his "get-a-way" to go and think. . .

Swiss Family Irontree: A nearly adult grandaughter kept talking about living in a tree house. . . Well, the problem with tree houses are the trees. They change and grow. You don't get higher like some people imagine but the diameter of the trunks increase every year if your tree is healthy. AND you have to be careful how you attach to the tree. Putting nails in everywhere like when we were kids doesn't fly. In the best case a tree house is short lived.

SO, I thought, why not build your own tree? Built a steel tree with a large hollow trunk with stairs and utility pipes, a relatively flat branch system to support the house construction and a "root" system of structural steel to be set into a heavy concrete foundation block. Slope the tree to one side and blend the pipe branches in properly, cover the whole with forged "bark" and it would look pretty natural. The "branches" would contain conduits for electrical distribution and pipes for plumbing. Atop of your tree house trunk and its spreading branches you would build a suitably styled house. I imagined lots of covered porch and planter boxes with vines, bushes or even small trees to provide some "foliage".

The "trunk" would not have to be very tall but 8 or 10 feet is enough to improve the view and get one above the flood, plain, ground fogs, two and four legged criters or what ever. . .

The most difficult part? Getting approvals from building inspectors and the necessary engineering reports that all was sound.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/28/09 09:53:49 EST

Im making a small anvil for a freind from railroad rail and from a peice of flat forklift fork. Im having the section where the forklift fork face will be welded softened and milled flat, but not the section with the horn. I thought that would help the horn be closer to flush with the face. Any ideas/comments/criticism? I plan on adding an upsetting block and a hardy hole(made by extending plate past edge of RR rail and cutting hole). I dont know what its called but I also want to add one of the small faces sticking out of the side for working smaller peices and scrolls. I will be sending an pic of what I mean the the Guru, because I cannot figure out how to upload a pic.
   Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 11/28/09 13:23:48 EST

I hope this is appropriate, If not I apologize.
I am now in the process of trying to sell my blacksmith tools(I know depressing) I thought I would leave a little info in case anyones is interested.

Info: The tools are located in Joseph, UT 84730. there is nearly all the basic tools to run a small shop. I am asking $2,000.00 if interested call 435-527-4710 for more information. thanks.
   Mr. Howell - Saturday, 11/28/09 13:57:46 EST

Mr. Howell, We all have to give it up sometime. Better while we can enjoy the cash. . I'm sure you will not have any trouble moving them.

Post your message and a detailed list Tues. 1st on our V.hammer-In forum. It will get put at the top of the log and stay there for the month. This page moves fast and is archived weekly (when I am on top of it).
   - guru - Saturday, 11/28/09 15:03:42 EST

Jacob. The problem with RR-rail anvils is the narrow web. Adding mass and width at the top just exacerbates the problem.

The side shelf is a side shelf. Some are flush with the face and carriagemaker's anvils have them a few inches down from the face.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/28/09 15:06:44 EST

where do I buy fire brick?
   - Jerry Golden - Saturday, 11/28/09 17:43:22 EST

Refractory bricks are available from a variety of sources. Many construction supply houses have them. Foundry supply houses have a wide variety and a few folks that sell materials for gas forges sell them. In about a month we will be carrying half thick bricks in small quantities.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/28/09 19:10:32 EST

Jerry, you can buy it right over there---or to put it differently what continent and country are you in?

Building a "tree" house. Disney has already done that a couple of times now with their Swiss Family Robinson tree house---interesting that as soon as they could they moved into a cave in the book!

Carrole, you need a ranch smith not a standard blacksmith! Anyway ABANA has several chapters around your area look in "NAVIGATE anvilfire" for ABANA-Chapter.com and find a local group to visit.

On swordmaking: well blacksmiths didn't make swords. Swordsmiths did! Sort of like asking your local GP to do brain surgery sure they are both Dr's but one is an advanced speciality! James Hrisoulas' book "The Complete Bladesmith" has information on swordmaking. Or I apprenticed under a swordmaker and could answer questions through e-mail. (I am also a enthusiast in Historical smithing so if you need info on medieval or renaissance or migration era swordmaking I can help, shoot I've even smelted my own metal from ore using Y1K processes.)

For "modern armour making" may I commend to you the forums at armourarchive.org and yes they use the english spelling of armour. 90% of medieval and renaissance style armour being made nowdays is done cold. Ususally only the really top folk work hot on a regular basis as much as we encourage it.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 11/28/09 19:23:12 EST

I operate a forge shop that supplies a well known historical restoration hardware company and I would like to know if anyone has used, with good results, one of the cement mixers with the poly tub.I am looking for a larger
alternative to the five gallon bucket that I have been using.I have heard that the mixers have a plastic gear
system and were prone to failure,it will be used for the smaller items,the large items such as the strap hinges are wire brushed.Any advise would be helpful before I spend $300-400 dollars on a mixer that I would not be satisfied with or should I spend the money on a Burr-King
Greg S.
   Greg S - Saturday, 11/28/09 20:24:17 EST

Greg, Forget tumblers. You want a vibratory finisher. More even finish, easier on the parts.

While mixers work as tumblers I would not try long items like hinges in them.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/28/09 23:23:04 EST

Use of our talents to help.
I made a fancy [rustic] collection box for donations [$] at out historic mine blacksmith shop. These are our two biggest days of attendance, but hopefully the new box helped. We brought in $486 for the two days. We had to keep stuffing down the bills through the money slot, even with the increased size of the box.
Later I told our boss I was going to design a box around a trash compactor. Big silence. Then I told him I was only kidding. [He's an old geezer like me]
   Carver Jake - Sunday, 11/29/09 01:15:49 EST

Tree Houses. Guru, There are companies that make hardware for building tree houses, I'm talking BIG fancy homes in natural trees. I've seen the sites on line, but to tired tonight to bring them up.
   Carver Jake - Sunday, 11/29/09 01:41:01 EST

Tree House. I've seen various systems. There are whole developments of them in Costa Rica. A popular new one has a zip-line from a hill where the road is to your house built in a tree some distance down the hill. . . NOT for the faint of heart. There are also vacation units with a screen-tent on platforms in trees. The problem with most is that they have no plumbing and you have to go to the ground to access the "services".
   - guru - Sunday, 11/29/09 09:56:24 EST

Server Issues: We were off line for a few hours last night. We wore out out second hard drive on this server. . .

Still have some minor issues to clear up. Page counters are down. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 11/29/09 10:00:29 EST

For everything you want to know about tumblers or vibratory check these folks.....
   - arthur - Sunday, 11/29/09 11:59:17 EST

Also note that BlacksmithsDepot is (or was) a dealer for this type equipment.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/29/09 12:57:05 EST

Jerry, For firebricks I go to the shop where Hu Bing street meets the second ring road. The shop is right on the corner. They will even deliver, within the Dujiangyan area, for a very small extra charge.
   philip in china - Sunday, 11/29/09 20:35:11 EST

Just because we are grown doesn't mean we should let our childish dreams get away from us. I saw a home on a hill in North Carolina with a swinging bridge going from the home over a ravine through the woods leading to a little getaway bungalow built high in the air. I thought how neat
this was. Actually, I think I will build my tower. I will get some utility poles, where two poles join in the middle, I will place a section of large pipe with bolts through them. The lumber and tools can be pulled to the top with rope. Our days are limited and if we don't get these dreams accomplished, there will come a day when it is too late. Guru, yes start building your cavern, you won't regret it and you are smart enough to do it !!!
   Mike T. - Sunday, 11/29/09 21:39:40 EST

Rust. I know this was discussed a couple months ago, but forgot the consensus. I've got hand tools that were in a fire several years ago and am trying to restore them. Been using heat and Liquid Wrench, and heat and ATF, still no luck.
what about cleaning the oil off and soaking in Coke to get the threads loose. A labor of love?
   Carver Jake - Sunday, 11/29/09 22:52:41 EST

Rust. . . When you have dry rust I've found it best to remove it dry with a wire brush or sand paper, OR water wetted sandpaper - NO oil. If there are fine fits and threads you work on them AFTER the dry rust removal. If you oil rust it makes it harder to remove. IF you want to use it as a coating then oil it.

But on threads, IF you remove the dry rust THEN use penetrating oil and work the parts free they will not be running over more rust. Always clean those exposed threads as best as possible first.

Once the general rust is removed then b'laster (a penetrating oil) or a mild acid like vinegar can be used. However, if you use an acid do so over dry un-oiled rust. If you have oiled then the acid will do little good unless it is strong enough to cut the oil as well.

There are all kinds of ways to soak parts and electrolytic systems to remove rust. But I've generally done it the hard way. Years ago we had a wire-wheel rebuilding business and used an acid product called "Oakite" to derust the wheels. It did a great job, removed paint as well but also etched beyond the rust. I made the mistake of putting a set of twist drills in the tank for a couple minutes. The acid not only removed the rust but also ALL the black oxide coating and the edges (including the edges of the flutes) of all the bits. A several year collection was wrecked in a couple minutes. Acids and electrolysis not only remove rust but coatings, plating and edges. Since then it has been mostly elbow grease on anything of value, ESPECIALLY tools.

If you have oiled rust then you can degrease it with solvent followed by soap (or detergent) and water. Use a relatively fine wire brush (wheel) to remove what you can and fine wet or dry sandpaper to finish.

Threads that are stuck and large enough can benefit from attacking with an impact wrench. The thousands of rapid blows break down rust and shake a lot out of the threads. It is best to stop once there is motion, reverse, oil, then reverse again. Increase the motion a little at a time and the most stubborn fastener will come loose unless it has been damaged from over tightening.

I only use heat in the worst cases such as when a stud has been stripped or broken trying to remove it. Then the part that the threaded part is in is heated to a red heat and load applied top the screw or bolt. The red heat will convert the hydrous rust to anhydrous rust which is a smaller molecule. The part should also expand as well.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/29/09 23:23:08 EST

One more question please, just had a hammerhead come off. It was one of the cheapies, one that had epoxy on the top of the handle where it came through the eye of the hammer. Upon inspection the eye of the hammer is not tapered on the top or bottom. It seems the handle will not be secure if I put a wedge in the handle. I'm thinking the only safe way to re-handle it is to heat the head and taper the eye. I hate throwing tools away.
   Carver Jake - Sunday, 11/29/09 23:43:13 EST

Many cheap hammers are drilled or through punched with not taper. However, that is how many old hammers were made. The taper from both sides is the result of closed die forging.

I often dress hammer eyes with a die grinder or Dremmel tool. A round file will work as well. This avoids heating and losing the heat treatment if any. On the bottom I radius the edges of the eye so that it does not cut the handle an so that it seats on the taper. On the top I usually just clean up dings from the prior use and dehandling. However, taper can be added to help retain the head on the handle.

When rehandling I use hardwood wedges, not the silly softwood ones that come with many handles. I also check and modify the split making it deeper if necessary and adding some taper so it takes more wedge. I use carpenters glue on the eye and wedge, drive in, trim with a hack saw leaving a little extra then wedge again with one or two steel wedges. After this I trim again with a hacksaw and then sand the end flush to the top of the hammer.
   - guru - Monday, 11/30/09 00:04:59 EST

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