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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 December 1 - 15, 1998 on the Guru's Den

The Guru has three helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier a Damascus steel legend (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • I am a woodcarver and need a bowlmaker's adze made for me. Who might I talk to about it? How might I go about finding a person with the skills and the experience in making such a tool?


    Chris Kurtz -- ckurtz at Monday, 11/30/98 23:42:57 GMT

    Chris, announcing what you need as you did here will probably get you some e-mail. Most blacksmiths have the skills to make such a tool and some will have the experiance. Custom tools of this type are not cheap. Expect to pay a least as much or double what a similar tool would cost you from Garrett-Wade. If you don't get any replies send me an email to guru at and I'll see if I can get someone to make it for you.

    Depending on the size of the bowls you make the adz can vary in size. You may need the head and bit radius as well as an approximate weight to specify exactly what you want.

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/01/98 02:12:32 GMT

    I wish to add my congratulations on the success of the this site!!! I always enjoy reading your great advice on blacksmithing! you add a level of thoughtfulness and reason that is appreciated.

    My copy of US Steel's MAKING SHAPING AND TREATING OF STEEL (1963+/- edition) indicates that railroad steel is essentialy 1075 steel. .70%-.80% carbon, .70%-.90% Mn. I wish it were 4140! I would find more applications for it. What is your reference that indicates it is approximately 4140?

    Since you are also working on JYH book let me try to recreate the posting I put up some weeks ago but got lost in infamous gap in your postings.

    One of the beauties of the design of the traditional power is the spring system. What the spring system essentialy does is recycle and store energy from the previous blow and make it available for the next stroke. The ram comes down with an energy content available to forge the metal (1/2MV*V). The energy can go into anyone of three areas:

    1) Into forming the metal (that where we want it to go)

    2) Be absorbed by the anvil and machine frame which is usally cast iron and is a relative good absorber of energy when compared to steel. (Cast Iron is considered a good material for machine tool bases for that reason and many other reasons as well)

    3) Be reabsorbed by the ram and converted kinetic energy in the rebound or upward velocity of the ram.

    We experince these same effects when hammering on our anvil with a hand hammer. The energy savings of a lively anvil vs a dead cast iron anvil is noticable to us as we hammer and the hammmer rebounds off the work or anvil.

    In a traditional power hammer with springs the energy from the rebounding ram is transferred to the spring(s) and energy is now avaiable for the next stroke.

    The shock absorber linkage is a very innovative use of a high volume commercially produced inexpensive item. This type of inovation is what we in the field of blacksmithing need. This is extra true in the JYH area. The potential problem that I see is that the rebound energy is absorbed by the shock absorber. That is a what a shock absorber does! If you anvil is hitting hard enough, Great!! It could hit harder however if a spring was used and the rebound energy was recycled into the next blow. In addition during the downward stroke I am relatively certain that energy is also being absorbed by shock absorber.

    Bottom line is this, It works! Now smiths can get a power hammer and start hammering with tens of $s not thousands of $s. If it hits hard enough be happy. If not consider a spring linkage which will be more complicated, costly and troublesome.

    Respectfully submitted


    Ruben -- rfunk at Tuesday, 12/01/98 03:16:43 GMT

    Thank you for your help I went to the sections you mentioned (by the way I'm in the SCA and I've been Arc/ Oxy welding for 5 yrs as a hobbie so I guess I'm heading in the right direction !!

    I'll keep ya posted

    Scott Ellis -- fyrfytr273 at Tuesday, 12/01/98 09:28:24 GMT

    RAIL:. . . It was the high carbon that had me fooled and the fact that the RR uses 4140 for a LOT of things. I also knew they recycled their axels into spikes (probably the ones marked HC). I've heat treated rail and found that it needed to be oil quenched too. Good, the higher carbon content makes it better for anvils and similar tools! Glad to know the specs. Been looking for it for a while. OBTW - I've got a section or standard shaped rail that is WROUGHT IRON!

    JYH and SHOCKS: Ruben, you are exactly right. The shock absorber linkage is only efficient in that it is easy to build. Otherwise it does not produce a very hard hitting hammer.

    Besides being easy to build we found another expected advantage that I'd undervalued. The ability to automaticaly compensate for large changes in work height (up to 8"). Even though spring linkages APPEAR to be able to compensate for large changes in work height they actualy do not. They end up bottoming out on the toggles (and bending them), reaching the shut height on the (coil) spring and possibly damaging the arms , toggles or crank.

    I made a sketch and then decided not to post it until I'd tested it of a spring and shock linkage that is still fairly easy to build. It took advantage of the double shocks, spread them about 14" at the bottom, replaced the attachment point with a horizontal flat spring in that 14" space. The result is still relatively easy to build (flat spring) and should give the linkage a little snap.

    We are also working a helve design that should be easier to build and be super controlable. The WC-JYH helve hammer was a hard hitting machine but it was hard to control.

    Both the spring mod and the helve hammer will be built, tested and included in the JYH booklet (maybe some other ideas as well).

    Off to my day job!

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/01/98 13:20:21 GMT

    Guru: I find Rubens statement that " the spring stores the energy from the last rebound" a little hard to believe. When the pitman goes up, the spring is flexed in the other way i.e. the pitman pulls the ram up. It seems that the rebound energy is wasted in the spring.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 12/01/98 17:14:47 GMT

    Grandpa, you are right, I didn't read the logic of Ruben's statement close enough. The spring absorbs energy from the over travel at the top of the stroke then accelerates the ram past center where the spring starts to absorb energy again. However, when a toggle linkage hammer is properly adjusted the work is contacted when the links are just a little below level (where they have not yet begun to absorb a LOT of energy). Rebound might return a little energy but that should be going into the work.

    The kind of rebound we are used to with hammer and anvil doesn't exist in power hammers. With hammer and anvil we have ratios starting at 33 to one, average of over 50 to one and as much as 100 to one! These high ratios are required for obvious rebound. If you don't believe me, disconect the ram in your hammer and drop it on the lower anvil and die (in the guides). You MIGHT get 2 to 5% rebound (compared to a hand hammer and anvil at 75-80% average.

    What DOES occur in a toggle and spring hammer is that the stroke of the ram is over double the crank stroke. The toggles when straight out produce an infinite compressive force on the spring. As the spring compresses and the toggle angle changes the force multiplier drops dramaticaly alowing the spring to STOP the upward motion and then accelerate the ram downward faster than the indicated crank speed (that longer stroke). The ram then has the capacity to travel MUCH farther than where it started at rest and THIS is the energy that the hot metal sees.

    On the shock absorber hammer there is virtualy no vertical over travel and just a little at the bottom (or it wouldn't work at all). Our original hammer with a 40 pound ram and two shock absorbers didn't hardly work at all. When the ram weight was increased to 63 pounds the hammer performed OK. However, it would NOT work at high speed and we had to slow it down. I expect the machine needs another 20 pounds of ram (for the two shocks - or 40# for a single). Even then the speed will need to stay close to 140 SPM.

    Springs OR shocks, this type of linkage requires careful attention to details AND requires R&D anytime a new design is tried.

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/01/98 23:21:20 GMT

    Hi, Guru,

    I am an Art Professor at Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. I have built a vat to be used to electroplate, or "steel-face," copper plates used in printmaking. This will require a source of fairly pure iron. The literature I have read suggests iron with a carbon content of between .02 and .04 per cent. It further states that traditionally iron called Swedish wrought iron and more recently Armco or ingot iron has been used for this purpose. I have not been able to find out yet what form this iron should have -- there are inconsistencies in the literature on this point. In particular, I am not sure whether it should be a sheet (in which case it would be about 16' x 20") or whether perhaps a series of rods or cylinders would suffice. I am thinking, however, that a sheet is probably what is needed. My question is: Where can I procure this iron? or Where can I find out where to procure this iron? I have found it remarkably difficult finding helpful answers. I found your site after looking up blacksmithing in Lycos. Thank you very much for any help you can furnish.

    David Bartlett

    David Bartlett -- d.bartlett at Wednesday, 12/02/98 18:07:47 GMT

    PURE IRON (David): Very low carbon steel or nearly pure iron is used for transformer plates and solenoid cores. These items need a substance that reacts to magnetisim but does not become magnetized. The transformer plate would be the right shape for the type of thing you are doing. A transformer manufacturer will likely have scrap that would work.

    Wrought iron is nearly pure iron with some silicon and slag inclusions. The type made in the early 20th century had no slag inclusions and was very pure iron. This type is still available from a few very small manufactures but I have not been able to locate them tonight. The famous Swedish iron is no longer manufactured. Old wrought iron is commonly available from a number of sources but you have little or no choice of cross section. grandpa darylmeier at has a scrap bridge that he sells pieces of. This will be heavy old material but it IS wrought iron.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/03/98 01:29:53 GMT

    The bridge grandpa is selling wouldn't happen to be the Brooklyn bridge, would it? Fun thing is I'm trying to sell it to :-).

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Thursday, 12/03/98 01:50:34 GMT

    I'm just starting out in smithing. I have access to a large quantity of coke. Can I use this instead of coal in my forge?
    What are the pros and cons coalv/s coke?


    jim -- betty at Thursday, 12/03/98 03:29:42 GMT


    Was that 16' X 20"? Some of our crew salvaged sheets of wrought iron from an old water tower, and they may have some chunks about 24" X 24" or so that they could part with. I've puttered with it only a little. "Water tower" iron was reputedly made from two sheets, with the grain running at cross angles. It's about 1/4" thick. If this might be useful, I'll try to track down larger sources, or other folks could keep their eyes out for water tower scrappings.

    For our Scandinavian friends:

    We have our faering boat set up in Washington's Union Station as part of the Norwegian Christmas exhibit. Shook hands and chatted with the Crown Prince of Norway for all of about 45 seconds as they swung him through the exhibit. A very pleasent young man, who appreciated the fact that a bunch of Vikings in Maryland are sailing in a boat built by an Englishman in a museum in North Carolina, based on a Norwegian grave find. Ah, is this a cool century, or what?

    Absolutely balmy on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Come have a row with us:

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 12/03/98 03:40:04 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I recently bought a 1500 watt Amada laser for my manufacturing company. In my spare time I started playing around with cutting out deer, bears , cows , pigs, etc. out of thin and heavy gauge material.

    Is there a market for this type of stuff in the blacksmithing field and if so, how would you recomend me to get started ?

    Bob Beverung -- beverung at Thursday, 12/03/98 03:43:28 GMT

    LASER CUT BLANKS (Bob): Yes there are several suppliers providing laser cut blanks for a varity of shapes. Rounds (3 to 6") in 14 and 16 ga. material for candle cups are useful. One outfit sells a progressive set for making roses. Leaf blanks are also popular but more finished items are in demand by fabricators. A lot of this is punch press work.

    To research this market you would want to join ABANA and/or order some back issues of The Anvils Ring. The more commercial market is served by NOMMA and The Fabricator

    You might also contact Centaur Forge and King Supply and ask if there is something they need.

    The fancy profile type stuff you've been cutting out has been done with template, tracer and X-Y torches for YEARS by various craftsmen. Most of these folks do their own work as it is very low quantity (from an industrial point of view).

    So, some questions from myself. How heavy of steel plate can you cut, what are the maximum dimensions and does your machine use DXF files?

    -- guru Thursday, 12/03/98 04:51:16 GMT

    Boy I don't want to get in a big debate.... Maybe rebound is not that significant in a power hammer. Unfortunately I don't yet have a power hammer to experiment with yet.... Any rebound of a power hammer will be translated into additional upward velocity. This upward velocity must be removed from the ram before the top of the up stroke. This energy will be absorbed by the shock absorber (if present), imparted to the flywheel of the hammer by momentarily slightly speeding up the rotating members of the hammer (which will them almost immediately slow down slightly as the energy is re-transferred to the ram as the ram accelerates dowmward) and by some additional flexing of the spring. In the case of the additional flexing of spring and the slight speed up in the hammer shafts and flywheel this energy is now avaliable in the very next blow by slightly increasing the downward velocity of the hammer. But maybe rebound is not a big factor as you say.

    Railroad axles are essentially 1050 steel .40%-.59% carbon and .60%-.90% manganese. They are triple normalized and allowed to air cool between normalizing and then the final cool is a 36-48 hour cooling time in a slow cool cooling pit. This triple normalization elinates hard and soft spots, optimizes grain size and reduces internal stress. Source THE MAKING SHAPING AND TREATING OF STEEL published by US Steel Edited by Harold E. MaGannon. I have the 9th edition. This book has much useful as well as technical and scientific information on steel. 8-1/2" X 11" 1400 plus pages. I have seen it in several used bookstores for $10-$20 dollars (a bargain in my opinion) This will give you many years of cold weather reading when its just to cold to smith. A good source on the net is, an on line catalog with search capability for hundreds of used book shops.

    Boy I would like a couple of these axles 6" dia and 6 feet long for a JYH Anvil!!!

    Your comment about HC railroad spikes being rerolled from railroad axles makes sense as HC Spikes have just barely enough carbon to make a knife. I would guess that to be .45-.5% carbon. I cannot find my reference on specs for railroad spikes.

    Incidentially the specs I gave for rail were for heavy rail (121+ #/yard at .69%-.82% carbon). 80 #/yard rail has .64%-.77% carbon. I assume that this light rail cools faster out of the rolling mill rolling mill and hence the need for less carbon to get the same hardness as heavy rail which cools slower. The heat treat is ambeient air cool out of the rolling mill to 1,000 degrees then placed in insulated slow cooling chamber to cool to 300 degees in no less time than 7 hours and must stay in the cooing chamber for at least 10 hours. This is to reduce "internal thermal ruptures and shatter cracks". This is interesting as in normal smithing practice we do not really care that much about what happens to the steel under 1000 degrees except for tempering (puposeful or inadvertant) of hardened steel.

    Respectfully submitted


    Ruben -- rfunk at Thursday, 12/03/98 05:15:50 GMT

    Ruben, all I can say about railroad axels is that I have some material from some that was being rolled into spikes locally. The railroad said they were 4140 and so did the fellow rolling it. The carbon content is close enough. It was a small amount so it wasn't worth a lab anylsis. I've had other shops tell me they use railroad axels for 4140. As all the above are using scrap of uncertain origin it IS very likely to be suspect.

    On the other hand, many products are made based on a performance spec (such as many ASTM specs) that do not specify the material. I chased two ASTM "materials" around for months only to find out that almost anything could be used for one (rebar) and that another was a special order material that didn't have a standard alloy number (much of the spec left up to the customer). What U.S. Steel supplied the R.R. may not have been the same as that of another mill for the same purpose.

    The entire dynamic of a toggle linkage power hammer is quite complicated. For a complete analysis you have to consider friction (a large factor), the flywheel effect of the crank wheel, the variable force vectors in the toggles, spring rate and the acceleration of gravity at different operating speeds (a fast hammer is pushing down faster than the ram can fall). Anvil efficiencies have been studied and debated by the best of hammer engineers and practicaly no one agrees.

    Mechanical energy going INTO a system does not necessarily come OUT as mechanical motion. Friction converts a lot of that energy to heat, lost motion (eventualy becoming heat) goes into the earth through the anvil and via flexing of the machine frame. Theoreticaly you should be able to account any amount of energy going into a system but in practice it is much more complicated.

    Glad to have someone ELSE in the debate. It keeps us all on our toes.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/03/98 06:01:42 GMT

    A friend and me are trying to get started in blacksmithing. Neather of us has any previous experience in this area and we live out in the boondocks. we have tried finding places around where we live but there isnt much. If you could give us some pointers on how to get started we would be most appricative. Just so you know we are highschool students and have a auto shop, gas forge, and basic tools at our disposal. Thank you for any help you can provide.

    Daniel Schaff -- shifty104369 at Thursday, 12/03/98 16:25:11 GMT

    To Daniel Schaff:
    First consider joining ABANA, as there will most likely be a chapter near you. Which leads to the other point contact local smiths(found thru ABANA).

    Where are you, as someone here may be in your area.
    There are quite a few books out there. The Guru(BTW thanks Guru for the site) has a section that talks about getting started. Read that!

    Welcome and happy hammerin'


    Ralph Douglass -- douglass at Thursday, 12/03/98 17:30:29 GMT


    Your question about where are you is most timely. If folks would just include a general area (Piedmont North Carolina, for example) it would make helping a LOT easier.


    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 12/03/98 19:34:56 GMT

    grandpa i am an amiture blacksmith , and would like some information on the making of damascus steel. any info. will be appreciated. thanks , mike

    mike -- www.flws at Thursday, 12/03/98 22:19:08 GMT

    I'm looking for some help with a problem I'm having with an

    Insurance man. I told you all about the fire that we had with my

    Bradley power hammer in the barn. Now the insurance co. wants to

    replace the hammer and he needs to have a price on the hammer. So

    is there anyone out there that has a 40lb Bradley cushion helve hammer

    that they would like to part with. I also need some way to price this

    hammer to the insurance co. After I have found a hammer for sale I

    need some way to verify that my hammer was worth X dollars.

    62 degrees and no sign of snow in Indiana. The Blacksmith's Wright

    Perry McLemore -- jpdmcci at Thursday, 12/03/98 22:25:30 GMT

    Daniel, the page mentioned by Ralph is listed under Learning Blacksmithing on the 21st Century Page and Getting Started from the main (home) page. This is the second version and I am still not happy with it. However, it IS basicaly the same advise I give on the question hundreds of times!

    Learning these skills with a friend is great. Having someone else to discuss things with makes the learning experiance much more enjoyable. Be forewarned, there are, as Jim Wilson often points out, as many ways of doing something as there are blacksmiths!

    In blacksmithing there are many tasks that require a helper, especialy when getting started. Having someone to hold punches (safely with tongs) and other tools while you hold the hot metal and strike with the hammer is a great help! Most blacksmiths learn to do these tasks alone but it is tricky and takes a lot of practice. Take advantage of this to make tools for both of you!

    Getting Started

    -- guru Thursday, 12/03/98 22:33:00 GMT

    Perry, thats a TOUGH question. There is also the matter of it having just been completely restored (I believe).

    1) This is an antique machine, made by the company that made the very BEST of its kind and that it is valued both by collectors and USERS.

    2) Old USED machines that do similar work (50# Little Giants) currently sell for $2,000 to $3,400 depending on condition.

    3) There are NO new replacement mechanical hammers currently on the market, however a new air hammer of equivalent capacity but of much lower quality construction will cost $5,500 (with the necessary air compressor).

    4) Bradley's are relatively rare and there may be NO replacement of the same type available.

    4) An equivalent quality machine manufactured today would cost $50,000 or more.

    Tell your insurance man that this is from someone that has bought and sold 4 hammers in the past year, helped broker another 4, helped rebuild several, built one JYH, and designs and builds machinery for a living.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/03/98 22:58:33 GMT

    Mike, that's a very broad question to be asking one of the (perhaps THE) top men in the field!

    Try the books by Jim Hrisoulas. They are very good. There are also a number of other books on laminated steel available from Centaur Forge AND the Jim Hrisoulas video set on the subject is currently on sale for $19.95 (I think, check last months page). I ordered a set an will be reviewing it here on anvilfire! along with some of Jim's books.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/03/98 23:07:54 GMT

    Does anyone know where I can find information on forging flintlocks.
    The actual lock on flint guns. I have the Journal of Armsmaking Technology, but they don't discuss free hand forging of the parts.
    Thanks for any help. J.D.

    J.D. Friday, 12/04/98 01:20:12 GMT

    FLINTLOCK (J.D): The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer, has a brief section on weapons and includes the steps for forging the pieces of a simple flint lock. The Dixie Gun Works catalog (see links page) has a section on casehardening frizzens.

    Gun lock parts are difficult to make only in that they are small parts. They also require a LOT of hand filing (replaced by machining and grinding today).

    Bealer's book is available everywhere blacksmithing books are sold AND in bookstores. Centaur Forge carries it and numerous other books specificly on gunsmithing.

    -- guru Friday, 12/04/98 02:38:40 GMT

    Lock, Stock and Barrel


    Try our Springfield Armory National Historic Site website (, especially the extensive book list under Eastern National Books. You can contact the staff, and they can probably steer you to other good sources. Springfield is an incredible source of information on firearms and industrial technology, plus it's an interesting collection to visit.

    Good luck.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 12/04/98 03:32:47 GMT

    More Lock, Stock and Barrel for JD,

    One of the Foxfire series of books has some extensive articles about some of the early firearms made in the Appalachians. Including information about HOW they were made. I can't remember WHICH one of the Foxfire books it is, but an index of them would tell you.

    Side note to everyone else.

    How many of you know the origin of the phrase Lock, Stock, and Barrel?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 12/04/98 04:28:00 GMT

    More for JD,

    I just checked, you want FOXFIRE 5. Check with your library.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 12/04/98 04:30:26 GMT

    i have an antique anvil i am trying to date. it has "wilkinson queens dudley" stamped in the side and some sort of x. where can i get some info. on it.

    jim Friday, 12/04/98 05:26:15 GMT

    Jim, I think I know where the phrase comes from.
    wasnt it the parts that the British army musket of the late 1700's was broken into when taken apart.
    If I remember correctly it was built on an module system so that broken parts could be replaced in the field (OK almost).

    3 below 0 and clear sky here in Skelleftea (northern Sweden)

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Friday, 12/04/98 08:54:53 GMT

    I was told today that there are standard sizes for things like rivets, c-scrolls, Collars, Hinges and Latches If this is correct do you know where i can attain a list of the recomended sizes, Guess i had better conform to the standards :).

    BTW: I am pleased to announce that i have sucesfully compleated and 2 welds :) (ok so i cheated and used a coal forge).


    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Friday, 12/04/98 12:52:29 GMT

    RIVIT SIZES ETAL (Andrew): Blather! Your informant was foaming at the mouth. Rivits come in inch and metric diameters in every possible size increment (a lot like bolt diameters). Lengths are purely dependant on what is being rivited. Generaly you need an extra 1-1/2 diameters of length to make a round head less for others.

    Collars are made to suit the design requirements of the blacksmith and are more involved than you might think. The nicest ones have each end tapered so that when they are overlaped (on the back) you have to look close to see a joint. Rarely does stock bar size work so they are forged in every dimension.

    The only thing you mentioned that there is a standard for is hinges. But only for the plain modern type that are inlet into every cheap minimum code door made. There are special tools for cutting the recess (router jig) and drilling the holes (drill jig) and these require a standard dround corner hinge.

    Congrats on the welds. Remember, practice, practice, practice!

    Thanks again for getting the Slack-Tub Pub up and running!

    -- guru Friday, 12/04/98 13:21:04 GMT

    WILKINSON ANVIL: I just answered this one a few days ago!

    The X in the side is two ovals criss crossing each other. I believe this stands for "Queens cross", a road crossing. The manufacturer is Joseph Wilkinson, Queens, Dudley, ENGALND. They made anvils in the old English style and the modern pattern. It is believed they were in business as early as 1830 and made until the early 20th Century.

    See page 128 of Anvils in America by Richard Postman.

    -- guru Friday, 12/04/98 13:32:09 GMT

    LOCK, STOCK and BARREL (Jim): The same place as "Flash in the pan"!

    -- guru Friday, 12/04/98 13:34:18 GMT

    Thanks Jock,
    Hehe, Im not telling my informant that, he is the fellow that is teaching me a few tricks :). His comment did not quite sound correct so i thougt i should check, mind you i cound have misunderstod him but i guess time will tell.

    We had 3 schools in yesterday, Im now full time at the museum, there are a pile of swages but most are only half of a pair :/ Looks like whoever was in there before me robbed it of all the good and compleate tools.

    I hope everyone is enjoing the slac-tub pub!

    Andrew Hooper (Kiwi) -- andrew at Friday, 12/04/98 20:34:21 GMT

    Oops, that should have been Slack-Tub Pub.

    Andrew Hooper (Kiwi) -- andrew at Friday, 12/04/98 21:35:06 GMT

    JD: Just one thing about flintlocks, and most low-tech gunparts: They are ( well, used to be, at least at the small arms factory/museum that Im curating) usually made of very mild steel, if not plain wrougt iron, and should be case-hardened , quenched and anealed after all that filing.

    Snowing and dark (but looking darned nice) in Eskilstuna,Sweden.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Friday, 12/04/98 21:49:53 GMT

    Bye the way, when would be the best time to visit the Slack-Tub Pub?

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Friday, 12/04/98 21:56:43 GMT

    Thanks for the straight forward information on my Power hammer. The Insurance man said that he agreed that this was a one of a kind piece of equipement. He also looked at it like now he needs
    some way to prove to his company that there is a real market value
    on this piticular style of hammer. So what I need is someone out there in hammer land to come forward with some actual pictures of a functioning hammer and tell me that if they had considered selling their own helve hammer it would cost me X dollars. I will be able to use this as a base for the price on purchasing a replacement for mine.
    Can some one send me Doug Freund's E-mail address, I have deleted it
    accidently. The Blacksmith's Wright Perry

    Perry McLemore -- jpdmcci at Friday, 12/04/98 23:14:53 GMT

    Perry, No need to worry, all you had to do is look on our book review of Pounding out the Profits!

    Douglas Freund freundship at

    I'll talk to some folks about specific prices. We've had a couple helve hammers sold from anvilfire.

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 01:07:24 GMT

    Olle, thanks for the gun parts info. I KNEW that but forgot to mention it. Little hand made screws were case hardened and even the modern stamped out and machined replica parts are case hardened. Once learned it is a great technique for making very durable parts.

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 01:13:49 GMT

    SLACK-TUB PUB SCHEDULE (All): I had planned to have a posted schedule of when I would be in and/or a regular happy hour :) but at this time my life is too much of a jumble for me to set aside a specific day a week. . .

    The other thing that was planned was to have invited guests and panel discussions (much like ArtMetal's Thursday night chat). However, as you know we have had some technical difficulties and are still not quite ready for those events. Organising them is also a LOT of work.
    Any volunteers?

    IF you would like to suggest and setup times that work for you and the other users to meet we can post them on the Hammer-In and I will setup a schedule posting area later.

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 01:23:03 GMT

    I am attempting to do some simple craft type ornamental iron prodjects and need to know how to apply a rust finish like the type you see on picture frames, candlesticks, etc. that you can purchase through home decor stores. Also any other ornamental metal finishes that you can provide information on would be greatly appreciated.

    Brian Merrell -- bmerrell at Saturday, 12/05/98 04:53:50 GMT

    NORM LARSON BOOKS Catalog: Norm's new catalog just came out and its bigger and better than ever. He carries every blacksmithing and early trades title from Albert Paley to Whipmaking! Norm also carries a wide range of videos and has that Jim Hrisoulas Damascus video set for the same price as Centaur Forge.

    One thing I've already been asked and I called Norm about, the Kern Little Giant Book. He lists it but it is NOT yet available. As soon as it is available again we will let you know and post a review.

    RUST FINISH (Brian): All the picture frames and most candlesticks I've seen with antique finishes were brass or brass plate and had a patina and then laquer. I'd have to look up some finishes for antique brass.

    Fastest rust finish known - Chlorox Bleach applied to iron and steel. Use a throw-away brush and do it outdoors on a board or in an enameled or plastic container. Will create lots of rust overnight. On thin parts you may want to leave it on for only an hour or so. Wash with fresh water, neutralize with vinegar then neutralize the vinegar with a baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) solution and rinse again. Seal with lacquer when done.

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 05:26:47 GMT

    I would appreciate your recommendation for filling in a pittted surface on the top of an anvil. I have an anvil that looks like someone used a torch on it.

    John Lawton -- jlawton at Saturday, 12/05/98 14:48:46 GMT

    TORCHED ANVIL (John): It is a common problem. It seems that many anvils were located in welding shops and that welders in general do not have a clue about the value or construction of anvils.

    Ask your welding supply dealer for a high manganese rod used to repair tool steel such as press dies. Bill Pieh of Centaur Forge has the following advice.

    RE; anvil repairs; Weld repairs on anvils should not be done unless you are a very good weldor and understand the metals you are working with. On a typical cast steel or on a face-plated anvil the anvil should be preheated to around 600-700 deg. F. and be kept there until done welding.
    I like to use a McKay #886 or #86 "buildup" rod applied with DC-reverse polarity. Peen (stress relieve) between passes. Oh, yes, unless you know exactly what you are doing, never quench a hot anvil. Let it air-cool. Better too soft than too hard.

    Bill also says not to use hard facing rod. Most of it is designed for abrasion resistance not shock resistance AND can result in a high hard spot in your anvil that can dent your hammer!

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 16:15:06 GMT

    Another great use for Bleach is for scrimshaw, I have used it on occasion both with and without an electrical current. If you decide to use a current DONT BREATH THE FUMES!, its not fast but it is cheap and works.

    I heard a roumour that chainmail was kept clean by soaking a sack in vinegar, putting the maile in the sack and shaking. any comments?


    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Saturday, 12/05/98 21:22:24 GMT

    VINEGAR will help remove rust BUT you must remove the residual acid with an alkali (Baking Soda - Sodium bicarbonate) THEN remove the salt created as a result of the acid/alkali reaction. Phosphoric acid, the active ingrediant in Naval Jelly leaves a whitened corrosion resistant surface the same as the process known as phosphating.

    Mail can also be derusted in a tumbler with some plain sand. Shake out the sand and oil lightly afterwards.

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 21:59:52 GMT

    Hmmm, first we put the rust ON then we take the rust OFF. . .

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 22:02:15 GMT

    Guru I'm looking for Sid ? on the last name. For his e-mail address
    for parts for my LG 100# Hammer can you be of help.

    Bobby Neal
    Ferriday La.
    bneal at

    Bobby Neal -- bneal at Saturday, 12/05/98 22:20:50 GMT

    Hi, I have a fair knowlege of welding and steel fabriction, but I have decided to try on a project that will require some twisted 1/2 x 1/2
    bar. I have also seen plans for constructing gas forges out of a piece of 10" pipe and 1/4" plate. My questions are: What is the easiest method for 'twisting' 1/2 x 1/2 bar (approx 24" long)? and secondly, will this simple propane gas fired pipe furnace do the job ?

    Thanks. Warren.

    Warren Larry -- Warren_Larry at Saturday, 12/05/98 23:28:02 GMT


    Sid is one of those folks that don't have a lot of intrest in the Internet. But if people keep telling him that is where they found his address and phone number maybe he will change his mind!

    Sid Suedemeier
    420 4th Corso
    Nebraska City, NE 68410
    (402) 873-6603

    Tell Sid that you got his number from the anvilfire guru!

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 23:40:17 GMT

    TWISTED 1/2" x 1/2" BAR: Twisting is VERY easy once the steel is hot. An even heat produces even twists. Heat the section to be twisted to a red or orange heat in your forge, anchor one end in a vise, grip the other with a pair of tongs, pipe wrench (spanner or Crescent wrench) and twist. It takes very little effort and you can easily twist a bar until it looks like screw threads! Gas forges are one of the best for twisting because they can be built very long (if needed).

    While the bar is still hot remove it from the vise and straighten on the anvil or a heavy bench. Tap it gently or you will ding the corners. If you twist carefully the bar will still be fairly straight. If you are careless you can end up spending more time straightneing than twisting.

    Twists can be simple or complicated. Long bar with even twists are generaly done cold with a machine and LOTS of torque. To do long twists by hand requires multiple heats and some common sense. Fancy twists are made by incising the bar first, forging the bar square after twisting and then untwisting and combinations of the two. Even the lowly twist has room for creativity.

    -- guru Saturday, 12/05/98 23:54:41 GMT

    I just bought an anvil a few hours ago at the "First Monday Trades
    Day" in Canton Tx. It is
    one I am not familar with. It is 22" long with a 3 1/4" face. It has a
    brass name tag riveted on one side, with the word
    "REVONOC", and the company's name H.S.E. & Co. Also there is a large
    inverted triangle with a "C" in it cast on one side.
    On the opposite side is a raised "H". It rings out very well. It seems
    to weigh around 100lbs. What have I got? Thanks for your
    help! ...Gaddy!

    Gene Gaddy -- gaddy1 at Sunday, 12/06/98 03:56:01 GMT

    Gaddy, this is the only anvil I've seen with a brass tag (Russian Anvil). The "C" and triangle sound familiar. I'll look it up in Richard Postman's book Anvils in America. Richard is THE real anvil guru! Check out the Russian anvil while I look up yours.

    -- guru Sunday, 12/06/98 04:17:47 GMT

    It sure does not look Russian, or new. It is well worn. It looks like it is an old anvil 60 to 100 years, based on the type style of what looks like could be serial #s stamped in the body "17 15". Using 1/2" highly seriffed hand stamps. It looks like it is forged. Has a fairly wide forging line. Not a sharp edge casting line. ...Gaddy!

    Gene Gaddy -- gaddy1 at Sunday, 12/06/98 04:58:20 GMT

    posted pics of anvil above:

    Gene Gaddy -- gaddy1 at Sunday, 12/06/98 06:37:33 GMT

    Gaddy, Isn't the digital world wonderful! Take a digital photo and minutes later it is anywhere in the world! The Russian anvil was just a guess. Here is what you want. Page 226, Anvils in America
    These anvils were manufactured by either the Columbian or West companies for the Hilbrand, Spencer, Bartlett & Company of Chicago, Ilinois, as early as 1913. Rev-o-noc was one of their trademarks and was found on a tag attached to the anvil. The manufacturers trademark is also located on the anvil. The anvil that I (Richard Postman) recorded was made by the West Steel Casting Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

    The advertising literature indicates that it is an all steel cast anvil (also evidenced by the raised trademark on your anvil). The triangle C was the tradmark of the Columbian (Vise) Company. The anvil is cast steel.

    Do you mind if I keep a copy of your images for the archives?

    -- guru Sunday, 12/06/98 07:12:25 GMT

    Grant would it be possible to get your antique adress and ph.# ? Ionly have acess to high tech at work (?) I am intested in KA75 and other tools.

    Larry Strandquist -- strandql at Sunday, 12/06/98 16:26:44 GMT


    Grant no longer posts here since I stopped posting on the page he sponsors. I stopped posting there because I was repeatedly deleted (as are others) anytime anvilfire is mentioned.

    Bob Bergman currently owns and manufactures the KA hammers. His address is:

    Bob Bergman
    Postville Power Hammers
    Blanchardville, WI

    Grant's other products can be purchased through most blacksmith suppliers including Centaur Forge and Steve Kayne and Son, Chandler, NC, 828-667-8868.

    -- guru Sunday, 12/06/98 17:22:06 GMT

    You are certainly welcome to the pics. And thank you very much for your help! I recieved replies stating that it is both a Centaur and a Century, but I am sure from your help, that it is a Columbian! I will send another pic location after I clean it up! ...Gaddy!

    Gene Gaddy -- gaddy1 at Sunday, 12/06/98 19:27:41 GMT


    B J Habermehl -- flint 006 at Monday, 12/07/98 04:18:17 GMT

    Jock: what do you say about using this wire for anvil hard facing?
    Spec C .7-.9 Si .6 Mn 1.5 Cr .4-.5 Ni 1.35 Mo 0.3
    I think that it will be suitable for my plans but want a second opinion.
    They are to induction harden the Anvil surface (there is a company near where I live specialised in induction hardening large pieces for heavy industry and they owe me some...)
    The anvil body is flame cut 1015 equivalent so it really needs it.

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Monday, 12/07/98 08:59:00 GMT

    GAS FORGE(B J): On our plans page I have a drawing listed as "Really Stupid Gas Burner". Hey, it works! And on the 21st Century Page there is an article on the famous 10 minute gas forge listed under Forge 10 Minute. THEN on the anvilfire NEWS, the Camp Fenby Edition there are pictures of a little gas forge based loosly on the ABANA plans. For atmospheric forges you need to go to the Ron Reil page.

    There are links to ABANA and the Ron Reil Page on our links page.

    -- guru Monday, 12/07/98 14:06:23 GMT

    BUILDING ANVIL (OErjan): The carbon level sounds right and the chrome nickle content should help make it tough. I'm not an expert on hard facing rod but this sounds like anvil material. I'd take Bill Pieh's advice and preheat the anvil and peen the surface between passes. I expect the manufacturer has recomendations too.

    For these type of projects I've recomended making a test block. Take a piece of the plate you are using about 4x4" (10x10cm), and build up a hard face on it, grind it and have it hardened. THEN try to destroy it! Its not a little test but it is a lot better than a failure on something as big as an anvil. The test block (if it survives) will make a nice little bench anvil if it survives. The cube shape is to assure that the mass acting like a heat sink is similar to the anvil.

    We'd like to see how your project turns out. I'd also like to hear more about the induction hardening process on anvils. My Peddinghaus is induction hardened and its the hardest anvil I've tested.

    -- guru Monday, 12/07/98 14:21:07 GMT

    Dear Guru, I am wishing to harden a small piece of carbon steel (2 X 1"). The reason i need to harden it are that I had to file the piece to fit into my project and was told that once that is done, it is necessary to reharden the face which was modified. I have a small hand-held made in Taiwan "Blazer" butane torch. The instructions claim that the torch can reach 2000C. Is this a lie? I am reasonably competent hobby machinist and yet quite inexperienced in the hardening methods. I tried to do the hardening on another similar piece, but was unable to make the metal piece change color (the flame itself is blue, maybe it prevented me from seeing the color change). After about 5 minutes of heating, I quenched the piece in water. Once I did that, I noticed that the portion on which I concentrated the heat (the part I filed down and worked on prior to heating)had turned shiny with streaks of blue and yellow. Have I ruined this part? I have another part which I have not treated yet. However, I would appreciate any input you could give to point me in the right direction. I want to do it right, and am willing to learn.

    Please help. Thanks.


    Amir Halawi Monday, 12/07/98 20:13:58 GMT

    HEAT TREATING (Amir): The problem you are haveing is not the maximum flame temperature but the number of BTU's (or calories) the torch generates. The torch may be hot enough but it is not BIG enough. I'm not familiar with your torch but a common Bernz-o-matic propane torch would not produce enough BTU's to heat a block that size.

    However, there IS an option that may work. You have to find a small quantity of Kaowool or similar low density high temperature insulation (Ask someone where they repair furnaces and boilers). Line a "bean can" (an 8oz steel, soup or canned vegatable can) with about 1/2" (13mm) of the Kaowool. Poke a hole in the side of the can about mid way and stuff a propane torch in the hole at an angle so that the flame takes a spiral path towards the back. Set the whole thing on some fire bricks or other heat resistant surface before lighting.

    This is called a "bean can" forge and it MIGHT heat your block to the quenching temperature. I think there is a link to the page with the bean can forge from the Ron Reil web page (see ours links).

    To harden the block heat until it is red or a low orange all over. The correct hardening temperature is when the steel stops being magnetic. Then quench in warm water or oil. After hardening you must temper the part.

    Tempering is reducing the hardness by reheating the part to 350 to 1400 degrees F. This makes the part tough and less likely to crack. It also reduces stress from quenching. You can temper a small part on your kitchen stove (gas OR electric). Polish the black scale off the part then heat until you see the color change. The first color will be a flush of white and then light yellow. The colors will progress through blue as you heat it. For a very hard part a straw yellow is sufficient. For soft tough parts a plum (red but not yet purple) color is good. Let air cool afterward.

    The above assumes a medium carbon steel. The more carbon steel has the harder it gets. Mild (.02% C) steel just barely hardens. High carbon (.085% C) steels get so hard they are very brittle if not tempered. Some steels need to be quenched in oil because the thermal shock of a water quench will crack the part.

    -- guru Monday, 12/07/98 23:34:58 GMT

    MORE (Amir): Your original statement about the surface being soft after filing it would NOT be true unless the piece was a case hardened part. Cold drawn steel has a slightly work hardened skin but this is not a concern unless you are making a long or very precision part. If you cut the surface off one side of a piece of cold drawn steel the tension in the opposite side warps the piece! On your 1x2" piece this would be slmost impossible to measure.

    If you are using common hot rolled, cold drawn or centerless ground bar stock there is no appreciable hard surface.

    -- guru Monday, 12/07/98 23:42:02 GMT

    I have access to some ceramic fiber refractory insulation i think its rated at 2300 degress would this make a sutiable liner for a gas forge

    Brian -- snidaere at Tuesday, 12/08/98 01:56:35 GMT

    REFRACTORIES: Propane burns at 2950F in free air and slightly hotter in a gas forge that has a little back pressure. Many refractories hold up OK at higher temperatures but DO degrade faster at that higher temperature. In general ceramic wool type insulation should be protected by a hard ceramic (brick). A forge with half thickness bricks for side walls and top with ceramic wool outside of that will make a very nice forge.

    A lot of folks make forges lined with ceramic fiber because they heat up very fast. However, the "wool" cannot withstand much contact with the work so the bottom of the forge will have a brick surface. The big advantage to these insulations is that they are light and easy to handle.

    Castable refractory makes a much more durrable forge and is about 1/3 the cost of ceramic fiber.

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/08/98 03:12:48 GMT

    BRUCE R. WALLACE of Wallace Metal Work will now carry the "purple pen". As an industry expert and one of the guru's helpers he is being given a colored "voice" on this page.

    Bruce is a full time professional blacksmith and a blacksmiths's tool and equipment dealer.

    Thanks for the help Bruce!

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/09/98 04:13:52 GMT

    Guru: It's an honor for me to be associated with the leaders of our industry. I'm the one who should be thanking you. Your page has set the standard for excellence on the world wide web for all blacksmiths. Your no nonsense approach to our questions is a credit to your character. I hope what I have to offer will be a help to everyone involved.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 12/09/98 06:00:40 GMT

    I would like to add my voice to that of the Guru and state that Bruce Wallace is of the highest character. If you need blacksmith tools you should give him a call. If you make a deal with him you can rest easy that he will do exactly what he says he will do. He will not bs you and he will not try to get rich off of a sale. He will give you an accurate description and a fair price. He is a man of his word, which is not easy to find these days.

    Paul Parenica -- no email Wednesday, 12/09/98 13:17:25 GMT

    OK Jock I'll try to get it done.
    Although I doubt anything will happen before Christmas is well over and done with (both money and time are scarce resources this time of year).
    I guess that I will have to borrow a digital camera and document my masterpiece when it is finished.
    It is a fairly large anvil 2 ' (670 mm) long, 1 ' (450mm) high, 5" (125mm) wide and weighing in at 360#+ (135kg+)
    By the way the wire isn't a hardfacing wire at all; it is used to weld steel with high tensile strength(like in forklifts...).
    The wire is specified around 700 KN/mm2~800 KN/mm2 tensile strength of the weldmtrl (depending on heat treatment I guess) and about 115-125J impact resistance at 0oC (I suspect they exaggerated their figures some).

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Wednesday, 12/09/98 14:06:58 GMT


    Welcome to the Color Guard! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/09/98 15:00:20 GMT

    What is a belt driven trip hammer used for? My father's hobbies included metal working and welding. I found this large, heavy machine in his garage. I don't know where he got it and he didn't use it or do anything with it before he died. Thanks for your help.

    Bill Summers -- wsummers at Wednesday, 12/09/98 18:47:45 GMT


    A belt driven trip hammer is used to pound hot steel. It's primarily a blacksmiths tool. Do you happen to have a manufacturers name? Possibly a model and/or serial number? Any of that information would help us to help you put a value on this equipment.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/09/98 21:22:40 GMT

    HI! I'm a 7th grade teacher who needs some historical background on blacksmithing. What do you know about blacksmithing during the Renaissance? (1450-1600). I have two students who really need help with this. Thanks1

    Lois -- Ritz321 at Thursday, 12/10/98 01:12:23 GMT

    Renaissance Blacksmithing

    Lois: Have the library pull a copy of The Pirotechnia by Vannoccio Biringuccio (Translated and edited by Cyril Stanly Smith and Martha Teach Gnudi) [Dover Publications, New York; ISBN 0-486-26134-4]. Published first in 1540, it is the "state of the art" treatis for metalworking (and all things concerning fire) during the Renaissance. From that period to the industrial revolution, things didn't change by any great increment. Progress was slow and empirical. People knew what things did, but did not understand exactly why they did them. Therefore, any books or other information on colonial blacksmithing will also be helpful in explaining the processes. There are two good National Park Service web sites that may be useful: Saugus Iron Works at and Hopewell Furnace at .

    De Re Metallica by Agricola (1555) Translated by Herbert Hoover (when he was a mining engineer, before he became President) and his wife Lou Henry Hoover [Dover, 1950, LoC A51-8994] has some further information, but is much more concerned with the process of mining than of metalworking. (Ah, but what wonderful woodcuts of what great trip hammers, pumps, stamping mills and other machines.)

    For the fruits of this labor there are a number of books on historic architectural wrought iron (gates, grills, fences, torch holders and such)in the art sections of major libraries, and, of course, wonderous examples of arms and armor. Using Biringuccio as a starting point I think a little library crawling and inter-library loans will yeild some worthwhile benefits. I hope they enjoy themselves and learn something. Good luck to them.

    Finally cooler on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 12/10/98 03:48:36 GMT

    RENAISSANCE IRONWORK: During the European Renaissance decorative ironwork florished like most of the arts. However, the technology of blacksmithing changed little. Ironworking slowly evolved from Roman times up until the industrial revolution of the 1700's. Most of this evolution was related to the increased availability of wrought iron. Tools and techniques were little different than that of the Bronze age. Hammer, anvil, tongs, chisles, bellows and forge were the same for nearly a milinia and are still little changed today.

    During the "rebirth", similar to the other arts, classical design, the sense of proportion, the use of natural forms such as the icanthus leaf became part of ironwork . However, like music, the real renaissance in ironwork occured later, in the eighteenth century.

    Much beautiful ironwork was produced during the Renaissance. However, architectual ironwork is the orphan of architecture. Architects have rarely known how to design ironwork, it is the last item to be installed and rarely was (is) there a budget for the ironwork. Many buildings that have realy good ironwork had it installed long after completion of the structure.

    If you need to know what ironworking was like during the period you can go to the slightly later reference Diderots Encyclopedia of Arts and Industries which is available in most public libraries. This was written and illustrated in the early 1700's and has detailed engravings of shops and processes from the period. Most books on architectual ironwork or architectual decoration will have some Renaissance ironwork.

    -- guru Friday, 12/11/98 01:39:43 GMT

    I earnestly hope you can point me in the right direction. I'm looking for a source, or sorces, for forge-weldable iron, preferably in usable sizes. Also, I need a good source(s) for L6, 1095 and other carbon alloys, and A203E (all for forge welding). My greatest priority, however, is finding workable iron and L6.
    Also, do you know of a resource that will teach me about salt-pot heat treating (making or buying equipment, proceedures, etc.)?
    Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated!

    Joe Caswell -- motojoe at Friday, 12/11/98 02:57:59 GMT

    JOE - I can tell from your questions that you have one of Jim Hrisoulas' books or videos! Tool steels can be purchased from many suppliers. The easiest to purchase from is McMaster-Carr. They are a general industrial hardware supplier and carry a good line of tool steels. See our links page for their web site.

    Railroad rail is a 1050-1075 steel. .

    Jim H. says that band saw blades are a good source for L6. The A203E is a nickel steel used for pressure vessels. Your local nuclear scrap pile is the best source. This is an ASTM spec steel made on special order only. I recomend you look for another nickel alloy steel.

    Saw blades of all types are a great source of cutlery grade steel. I just made a set of scrapers to scrape a big babbit bearing (8" dia. x 24"). I used some band saw blade for the straight scrapers and a small circular saw blade for curved scrapers. Worked great.

    There are a number of sources of wrought iron but most want to sell large quantities. grandpa darylmeier at sells wrought iron by the pound but it is in fairly large pieces as it is from a scrap bridge. Transformer plates are also a near 0 carbon content steel. For laminated steel work mild steel generaly does as well. Avoid A-36 structural steel.

    There is a good article on building a salt pot for knife work on the Don Fogg web site (See our links page again). If you need further explanation let me know.

    For learing about heat treating there is no one single source. The subject is as broad as metalurgy itself. I recomend the ASM Heat Treaters Guide as a start and the ASM Metals Reference Book for specifics about particular alloys. ASM is also listed on our links page. I also recomend Machinery's Handbook for general heat treating info and information about standard steels.

    -- guru Friday, 12/11/98 04:33:48 GMT

    WILLIAM (Bill) MORAN: I am looking for his address and or phone number .

    -- guru Friday, 12/11/98 04:37:51 GMT

    Wm.F.Moran jr.
    P.O. Box 68
    Braddock Heights,MD. 21714
    PH# 301 371 7543

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 12/11/98 07:04:32 GMT

    Thanks grandpa!

    -- guru Friday, 12/11/98 12:59:03 GMT

    Lock, Stock, and Barrel,

    Just realized that I never finished this bit.

    Actually, since almost all muskets were hand made, the parts weren't really interchangeable. Took some fitting work.

    But you're headed in the right direction. The parts of a musket are:

    The Lock = Today we'd call it the trigger group

    The Stock = No change

    The Barrel = Again, no change.

    But the Lock might come from a gunsmith, the stock from a cabinet maker, and the barrel from a blacksmith. But if you bought the whole thing from one source, that source supplied you with;

    The lock, stock, and barrel.

    Hence the term came to mean a complete package.

    As for Jock's comment about "flash in the pan". If the vent hole from the firing pan into the chamber was clogged, the ignition of the powder in the firing pan would not ignite the powder charge. So all that happened was a "flash in the pan".

    "Keep your powder dry" is another common saying from the same era.

    You had to keep the powder in the firing pan dry, or it wouldn't ignite.

    Want to go through some of today's common saying that have an origin in blacksmithing? (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 12/12/98 02:57:48 GMT

    COKE vs. COAL (Jim - betty at Sorry I missed your question. It happens occasionaly when things get busy.

    COKE is an OK fuel. Foundry coke is NOT the same as the coke produced in a blacksmiths coal fire. It is much denser. It is hard to get ignited, hard to keep ignited. It burns VERY hot and can burn out a light duty fire pot. The extra air required to keep it going in a shallow fire often produces excessive scaling (burning) of the steel. Common foundry coke comes in lumps that are too big for the forge and is a LOT of work to break up. The only good thing about coke is that it burns very clean. If your supply is free then it is probably worth learning to cope with it. You absolutely can not use coke with a bellows or hand crank blower (unless you have a slave to keep the blast going).

    COAL (Good bituminous) is the absolute best blacksmithing fuel. It burns hot and can be burnt fast or slow as needed. It produces a penetrating heat (better than gas) and the fire makes better (easier) forge welds when properly maintained. Manual or power blowers can be used. It can be succesfully used in almost any configuration of forge. Coal can be purchased and stored indefinitely. The only drawbacks to coal is that it is dirty and makes more smoke than other fuels. Some localities have immissions laws that prevent the use of coal. Coke and coal both require a good specialized chiminey/vent system.

    OIL is an often overlooked forge fuel. It has many of the advantages of coal but it does take a more sophisticated forge. It forge welds better than gas in most cases. Oil forge's must be properly vented.

    GAS forges are the cleanest and most convienient of the forges. However, they are noisy and are sometimes hard to weld in. Being boxed in (litteraly) limits the size/shape work you can put in gas and oil forges. In a well ventilated shop you do not need a chiminey for a small gas forge but you should have a vent for bigger forges OR if you live in a cold climate and do not ventilate your shop well in the winter. Remember CO (carbon monoxide) is oderless and will kill you without warning.

    -- guru Saturday, 12/12/98 03:44:18 GMT

    Reference the guru's comment about Carbon Monoxide.

    One of the HazMat (Hazardous Material) manuals that I have describes Carbon Monoxide as COT&F.



    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 12/12/98 04:07:48 GMT

    Actually, the CO detector should be mounted fairly low in your shop and the Smoke detector should be mounted near the ceiling. CO is heavier than air, while smoke is lighter than air.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 12/12/98 04:09:35 GMT

    To pawpaw tried to go to your site from the click heading at the top of the page- told me no DNR and to check the URL. Is my computor acting up or is there a problem? I would like to see the site and talk more with you. I have relatives who live in N.C. and we go there usally once a year. I do Rendezvous smithing and would like to see you work some time. Thanks - great site and just started going to the pub nice place

    Gary Smith -- boosmith at Saturday, 12/12/98 04:47:51 GMT

    I'm a metal sculptor working in cold roll sheetmetal 18-22 gage. Is there some patina formula that will allow me to produce a surface color of reds and greens?
    Thanks for any help

    Dennis Johnson

    Dennis Johnson -- Gryskyhawk at Saturday, 12/12/98 04:50:51 GMT


    There is a small typo in the link. The Guru will fix it manana. (Jock, the slash is missing in front of the Tildy.)


    I usually have my demo schedule posted on the site, but isn't done yet for next year. Will try to get it done soon.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 12/12/98 05:26:23 GMT

    i'm just getting started at the craft. i would like to know were i can find a local distributor in the northeast ohio area for coal or coke.i have been getting from the fall over of coke trucks[train]for LTV.will this suffice?also, some looks like it has already been fired,is there a way to tell?

    stphen coccia -- grtoehed at Saturday, 12/12/98 16:56:49 GMT

    Another source Warren Larry may consider for twisted bar is King Supply Co.,Dallas, Tex.(800-542-2379). They will send you a catalog that has an extensive variety of ornamental iron including several choices of twisted bar.

    John Lawton -- jlawton at Saturday, 12/12/98 18:38:32 GMT

    On a farm's old junk site I found a hand forge? It has three legs on
    a cast iron piece like a barbecue grill. It has a tooth piece that
    makes about 1/4 circle. The farmer thinks the blower is laying in
    the junk pile somewhere near. Problem is I don't know what it looks
    like. Would you have a picture or sketch.

    Alan -- Alan at Saturday, 12/12/98 23:38:20 GMT


    Sounds like one of the farm forges that Sears sold. Go to the 21st Century section here at Anvilfire, and scroll down to the entry for Forge, Sears Lever Action from 1915.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 12/13/98 01:31:17 GMT

    Dear Guru
    Do you have any AutoCad Drawings of anvils, or other blacksmith items
    that you would share.
    I have Rel. 14 (AutoCad) Architectural Desktop.
    I plan to try building a forge, perhaps the brake drum type that you show or a bellows powered one like I saw at Big Island Rendevous.

    Alan -- Alan at Sunday, 12/13/98 03:37:29 GMT

    Howdy, I just came in possesion of a bunch of 3/4 in. square pickets, 4 ft. long, of an old wrought iron fence. I've been at the anvil a few years but never with true w.i., I dont want to waste a lot by expermenting but I can't find anything on working heats or if it welds different than the cold rolled and spring steel I've been using. Sure would appreciate some expert advice. Thanky

    jerry -- birdlegs at Sunday, 12/13/98 04:22:11 GMT

    BROKEN LINK TO PAW-PAW's: My fault, I left out some punctuation and didn't test the link! Editing a dynamic document (this page) is tricky. If I take too long someone may post a message and my reloading an edited version a couple minutes old will wipe out their message! Same goes with archiving. Will fix ASAP

    OLD FORGE: Jim suggestion is good but these old forges also used hand crank blowers. Looks like two BIG bagels connected at the edge and painted black (most of the time). Has a hand crank. Air goes in a 4" hole on the side and goes out a 3" pipe in the front more or less. About 16-18" long. I've got pics posted somewhere (probably the ABANA coverage) will see what I can do.

    SCAVANGED COAL: The stuff that looks burnt (grey black hard sponge) is foundry coke (see post on coke above). The shiney black stuff can be bituminus (soft coal) which is what you want or anthacite (hard coal) which is OK but sort of like burning coke. Hit a lump of soft coal with a hammer and it will crumble. Hit hard coal and it may break but not in little bits. Best thing to do is burn it. If its works good it is good coal. If it is hard to keep going and makes lots of ash and clinkers (in one use) then its probably not so hot. Try:

    Thompson Brothers Mining Company, 3379 E. Garfield, New Springfield, Ohio, TEL: (330) 549-3979. They carry Kentucky Stoker coal.

    Otherwise try the stoker coal from any local fuel supplier.

    -- guru Sunday, 12/13/98 04:31:37 GMT

    WROUGHT IRON (Jerry): Most wrought iron is red short. Forge it HOT, weld it HOT. It burns a lot less easily than steel which is why it is easier to work. The melting point is slightly higher than steel. Just remember that wrought has grain like wood and there are things it doesn't like. Most classic forge weld joints are designed for wrought so it shouldn't be a problem.

    Wrought iron does not torch or arc weld well due to the slag inclusions. Otherwise its pretty easy to work. Just don't let it cool to a low red like we commonly do with steel. It will split or tear.

    With the current demand for wrought you might consider hanging on to it for something special or to sell. Knife makers are looking for wrought for making laminated steel.

    -- guru Sunday, 12/13/98 04:41:27 GMT

    CAD DRAWINGS (Alan): I may provide some in the future. However, they will be in DXF format. I use Design-CAD (Formerly Pro-Design). For producing simple first class DRAWINGS it is a superior product to AutoCAD due to its easy of use and better control of certain elements (curves, text, scale, line width). Its DXF's are also more compatible than AutoCAD's which is backward since DXF is an AutoCAD standard!

    -- guru Sunday, 12/13/98 04:51:21 GMT

    COLORING STEEL: Steel's natural oxides are black and rust red. Treatment of CLEAN steel with copper sulfate will copper plate (very thin) the steel. Lite application of very dilute sulphuric acid will turn the copper light green. . .(back to copper sulphate).

    I've known sculptor's to brass coat steel sheet with a torch and brazing rod. Texture can be smooth or rough. The brass can then be treated with a variety of chemicals to produce patinas.

    Steel SHOULD be well painted, especially if you want the appearance to remain constant. As an artist you should be able to make a paint job NOT look like paint if you want. See my article Corrosion and its Prevention on the 21st Century page for more on paint and steel.

    -- guru Sunday, 12/13/98 05:01:41 GMT


    I saw the 1/4 circle toothed piece that Alan mentioned as the drive sprocket on the farm forge. The intermediate stage between bellows and blower.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 12/13/98 05:15:48 GMT

    I need plans for a forge bellows (double action) I've seen them somewhere on the web but haven't been able to find a second time. Any help would be appeciated. Also looking for foot bellows plans.

    Keith Howe -- dafox at Sunday, 12/13/98 06:03:15 GMT


    Go to the 21st Century section here at Anvilfire. Scroll down to Bellows, Great. Those are the plans that you are looking for. I use the bellows pictured there on a regular basis. They work great!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 12/13/98 12:50:46 GMT

    Jim's right about the bellows but the photos are a little less than plans. You should be able to build your own from them though.
    Centaur Forge has a little booklet on building a bellows if you want more specifics.

    Didn't catch that part about the segment gear. . . Gotta' start reading closer!

    Those of you having trouble with the Slack-Tub Pub, the problem is the log has grown too big. Glad you folks are enjoying it! Will get the log cleared and everything will be OK for a while. Looking for an automatic solution.

    -- guru Monday, 12/14/98 03:15:12 GMT

    I use a gas welding torch to heat metal before shaping. Can you recommend a furnace I could build having a fuel other than charcoal?
    Thank you, Dick Becker

    Dick Becker -- Tuyere at Monday, 12/14/98 05:47:17 GMT

    Keith try this address for schematics on great bellows.
    they need to be about six feet long and tre wide and with a gap of about tree feet on both chambers(the lower may be smaler but then you must pump more.
    good luck

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Monday, 12/14/98 08:57:27 GMT

    Real Wrought Iron Co. Ltd.Carlton Husthwaite Thurst, UK
    U.S. customers: (617) 643-0158 The only modern manufacturer of real wrought iron. Available in most imperial sizes.
    someone asked for wrought heres the address
    good luck

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Monday, 12/14/98 09:15:20 GMT

    Guru. the anvil/ baseplate upgrade works marvelously! I would wager the MW-JYW is 25% more efficient with the added mass. It doesn't shake the whole garage anymore and moves the metal faster! Much nicer to work with! WARM (golf!)in Rochester MN

    brian rognholt -- brognholt at Monday, 12/14/98 11:20:24 GMT

    SUB-STANDARD COAL: I just recieved a complaint about coal purchased from:

    California Charcoal & Firewood, Inc., 1518 Eastern Avenue, City of Commerce, CA.

    It was said to produce excessive clinker and did not coke. I've temporarily taken this source off my copy of the Coal Scuttle but from my experience this is typical of the coal sold in California (same stuff is used for landscaping).

    If any of you have good coal sources that are not on the Coal Scuttle please send them them to Fred Holder, fholder at Fred maintains this list and publishes it in the Blacksmith's Gazette. I'd also like to hear from any of you using the coal sold by California Charcoal & Firewood. What is your experiance with it?

    -- guru Monday, 12/14/98 19:15:09 GMT

    FORGES and FURNACES (Dick): First try the Ron Reil web page (see our links). Then I have a gas burner on the Plans page. Yes it IS stupid but is does work (please read ALL the disclaimers and sign them in blood before building a gas forge). There is also a forge drawing and picture on the 21st Century page under 10 Minute Gas Forge.

    OIL FORGES can also be built using the burner/blower assembly off a domestic oil furnace. It should be set slightly uphill and about 12" from the firebox. Firebox is built of refractory brick with a volume of about 2 cu feet and MUST be vented outdoors.

    THANKS for the sources OErjan - I've been having the same posting problem. Darn refresh isn't working correctly but I think its the ISP. Will check into it.

    -- guru Monday, 12/14/98 19:28:30 GMT

    MW-JYH (Brian): Glad the machine is working better! I was getting worried that it was a dud and you blamed me! There is no substitute for MASS! Aggressive or "extream" fullering dies help a lot on small hammers too.

    Send new pics when you get a can! I'll be updating the Power hammer Page as soon as I get a chance.

    -- guru Monday, 12/14/98 19:34:29 GMT

    I am in search of iron stocking hangers that fit on a mantel.

    Dena Lacy -- DenaMPI at Monday, 12/14/98 19:36:10 GMT

    Somehow I didn't load the final copy with the captions and link to the rest of the article! My appologies to all of those involved. Many of you also missed the pages following because of my mistake! :-(
    Please tell me about these errors!

    AFC NAIL MAKING CONTEST Without commercials!

    -- guru Monday, 12/14/98 20:41:33 GMT

    i have been trying to figure out if i were to use a off setted wheel , to bump my hammer( on a trip hammer i 've got only on paper so far )
    what travel and speed , might i need to work the iron?
    i've also both welded and cut tanks of all shapes and sizes and not knowing what they had been used for i've used a heavy mixture of soaping water( cheap ) but highly effective even when repairing gas tanks (gasoline)

    shawn perry -- inkster1 at Monday, 12/14/98 21:39:29 GMT

    I would like to hear more about oil forges. A forge using a domestic oil burner could be just ideal for me. The last coal supplier in Halifax closed their doors last month and I haven't yet found a workable replacement. I use a homemade propane forge ( thanks for all the info over this last year) but I think oil would be safer to handle and would be cheaper here at the moment. I'm thinking a Riello high efficiency furnace burner and a standard furnace stack. What do you mean by "12 inches from the firebox"? Any and all info welcome! Thanks for the great site, I read it everyday.

    Wayne Jay -- anvil at Tuesday, 12/15/98 02:00:21 GMT

    POWER HAMMER DESIGN (Shawn): The speeds depend on the size (weight) of the ram. See the Little Giant specs we have posted on the 21st Century page and on the Power hammer Page. Take those numbers and cut them in half or by a third for a home built machine. Little Giant typicaly ran their machines too fast by about 20% trying to get the capacity up.

    SPM (Strokes per Minute) also vary depending on the type of machine you are building. A plain helve hammer that is can operated must be run slow or the drive dog or wheel will bounce off the cam wrecking the machine in no time.

    Send me a sketch (paper or scan) of your idea and I'll check it out for you. However, the idea MAY end up in my JYH booklet (with credit) if it is a good one!

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/15/98 03:16:20 GMT

    OIL FORGE (Wayne): The distance is for the pipe leading from the burner to the firebox. The distance is for the heat. Lots of parts on the burner that can't be next to the forge. A couple sheet metal heat shields wouldn't hurt either. The pipe should slope down hill slightly so that any oil that condenses or drips flows into the forge and burns there rather than in the burner.

    All I know about these forges is what their builders have told me. One fellow went to the trouble of sending me a drawing but it needed some rework (it was perfectly clear if you knew what you were looking at) and I have not had the time to rework it. I also want to build one so I can speak from personaly experiance.

    Using the commercial burner is great because they have high voltage ignition. However, I have also read of oil forges that were no more than a firebox with a blower and a system to drip oil into the box. Once warmed up the oil flashes to vapor and burns very evenly.

    The smoke from oil forges is not as bad as coal but is at least as batd as the cleanest burning coal fire. The smell is also not as pleasent as coal. Thus they must be vented with a chiminey. They like a closed fire box with a door or reduced opening like a gas forge. Venting can be through a small hole in the top and or the door.

    Heat shields: Simply a layer of sheet metal that stops the radiant heat. The heat absorbed by the shield escapes into the air. One shield provides two air gaps (an inch or so is good). If air is allowed to circulate in this gap almost no radiant heat is transmited from the shield. Draw your intake air from the outer layer and you've got a nice preheat.

    The biggest disadvantage I see to oil forges is that I expect their minimum workable size is quite a bit bigger than the smaller gas forges. The commercial burner will expect a fire box with back pressure and volume approximating what it was designed for.

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/15/98 03:43:59 GMT

    I am looking for indexes of 16-19c. English blacksmiths. Do you know where I might find them.
    I am a family historian researching the surnames Hair/Hare and Chicken. Most of whom were Blacksmiths. I have found a Perthshire,Scottish family in the 14c who were armourers and were fined beeswax. They carried the name Hair. My research has led me to Northumberland and Durham in 1790 most of the Hair/Hare's were blacksmiths. Any help much appreciated.
    Thanking you in advance.
    Tom Hair.

    Thomas Hair -- lolair at Tuesday, 12/15/98 05:51:39 GMT

    Guru, even if the MW-JYH never worked (which it does) I couldn't "blame" anyone. Every experience I have is of an educational variety! Wasn't it Edison who said of his "failures" in creating the lightbulb, "What do you mean failures? I now know 700 things that don't work." paraphrased. pics on da'way. hammer on. brian rognholt Odin Forge rochester MN

    brian rognholt -- brognholt at Tuesday, 12/15/98 08:08:05 GMT

    I am very new to blacksmithing, I have no experience with it, but I am very interesting in learning about blacksmithing. I need help in where to start. Is blacksmithing something that is genrally pasted down thru generations, or are there forms of schooling available? I live in Seattle, and I've found one community college that has a welding program, which I'm sure would help, but they don't have anything specific on blacksmithing. Would you have any recomendations on books or possible contacts to get my pointed in the right direction for getting started?

    gale noecker -- gale.noecker at Tuesday, 12/15/98 23:47:44 GMT


    Go to the Anvilfire homepage. (click on home on the bottom of this page) Scroll down through the left hand menu to 21st Century and click on that. Scroll down through the articles on that page to "LEARNING BLACKSMITHING" There are several steps listed in that article that will get you started on your way. You've already taken the first big step, when you found Anvilfire!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/16/98 00:11:40 GMT

    GETTING STARTED (Gale): First, see my article Getting Started. It will advise to take those welding courses and why, and it lists the primary references you will need to start.

    Blacksmithing WAS past down over the generations until the 20th Century when first the apprentice system ceased to exist and then blacksmithing almost dissapeared too (largely due to the automobile and mass production). Starting in the late 1960's intrest in blacksmithing resurged largely due to the book The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer and the crafts movement. He was also instrumental in the establishment of ABANA (Artist Blacksmith Association of North America).

    You are lucky in that the NWBA (North West Blacksmiths Association, an ABANA chapter) is very active. Join up. Other blacksmiths are still your best source of information. Especially when it comes to local sources of tools, materials and fuel.

    Meanwhile, enjoy what little information I have had time to post on these pages so far and if you have any more questions please feel free to ask.

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/16/98 00:19:42 GMT

    P.S. GETTING STARTED: Yes there ARE blacksmithing schools, you will find them through ABANA's website and publications.

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/16/98 00:21:16 GMT

    I am very new to Blacksmithing. I was wondering if you know anywhere that sold anvils around Connecticut. Or if you know anyone who can teach me. I am 21 and for the last seven years have been trying to learn.

    Heath Lindholm -- Dreams4546 at Wednesday, 12/16/98 02:00:48 GMT

    ANVILS & LEARNING (Heath): The closest dealer to you that I know is Bruce Wallace. Bruce is located in central PA and carries Peddinghaus anvils as well as used anvils and blacksmithing equipment.

    Check with ABANA for chapters and schools near you. I think workshops are held at Saugus Ironworks by one of the guilds. Also see the link to the Getting Started article for references that might help.

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/16/98 03:02:30 GMT

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