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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 November 15 - 31, 1998 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

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).

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    After posting and returning, the page will automaticly reload and display your entry. If not then, click on LastPost after the file reloads. Your question will be answered as soon as possible.

    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    First time the page has been blank after an archive (see the archive for December 1-15 for your recent Q&A!

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/16/98 04:04:15 GMT


    Well, we'll just have to fill it back up! :)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/16/98 05:39:11 GMT

    Well I guess it is Christmas and most people is busy with that in one way or other.
    I presently attend a educational program here in Sweden where they teach you to handle Word Exel...AND to make home pages.
    We are allowed to surf the net and get inspiration (i.e. find things to do better).
    I try to get somewhere for blacksmiths over here to get information from.
    There is only three sites in Swedish offering advice on blacksmithing of any kind and two are on armour only which leaves a lot to wish for.
    I don't think I will be able to get any where near you though.
    I will at least try to get a blacksmith basics page with some advice and a few hints where to find equipment and how to make some as well As a few plans.
    This is one of the first pages recommended in that primer. togheter with Rons forge page And with a converter page link to help convert between the different units ( I wish it was in Swedish though)
    So THANKS for a super site Jock!

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Wednesday, 12/16/98 09:38:11 GMT

    OErjan, if there is anything I can do to help, let me know.

    Units conversion used to be my specialty. I authored a program that calculated mass and volume which had a materials database of over a thousand materials. It accepted a variety of units for input and output in any standard metric/English units selected AND in columular form in ALL mass units. It also included an AISC structurals database with load deflection calculator. Version 2 was almost complete when I had to abandon the marketing. It is still a great progam. Alas, it is written in professional BASIC, a language abbandoned by Microsoft.

    I am trying to get it running in a reduced form on anvilfire! but have not had time to learn/do all the programming. . .

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/16/98 12:22:57 GMT

    I am a pipefitter/welder and would like to forge a sword, a Japanese Katana. Is there any books or videos you could recomend that may be helpful to a novice blacksmith.

    Dutch Harold -- castnet at Wednesday, 12/16/98 16:23:30 GMT


    Check out the Book shelf. Look for the review of the knife making video's by Jim Hrisoulas. You can order them from Centaur Forge, or from Norm Larson, either one. There is a link to Centaur on the links page here at anvilfire.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/16/98 17:27:43 GMT

    Dutch Harold: "The Craft of the Japanese Sword", by Kapp and Yoshihara. is very good. Available from Centaur Forge or Norm Larsen Books.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 12/16/98 17:34:00 GMT

    Dutch, we are REALLY ganging up on you! If you are new to blacksmithing see the references listed in Getting Started. There is contact information for both Centaur Forge and Norm Larson in that article.

    An apropriate quote from a friend:

    "You ain't gonna raise no day old baby on meat and potatoes."

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/16/98 22:22:05 GMT


    "You ain't gonna raise no day old baby on meat and potatoes."

    Welll.... If your ran them through a blender, mixed em with milk, and put em in a bottle.......... :)

    Dutch, We're not REALLY ganging up on you, it just SEEMS that way!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 12/17/98 00:07:30 GMT

    The Net's running slow tonight, must be the wonderful state of the world. Between war and impeachment, we sure live in interesting times!

    OErjan: You'll have to post those swedish armor sites in the Virtual Hammer-In, and I'll have to drag out my Grandmother-in-laws Swedish/English dictionary.

    Clear and cold on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 12/17/98 04:48:40 GMT

    Dutch: I don't have much to offer about Japanese sword forging but if we are ganging up I might as well get in on the fun.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 12/17/98 05:32:59 GMT

    Bruce Blackistone and OErjan,

    My wife's maiden name was Berdahl. Norwegian extraction. Why does she sing;

    "Ten thousand Swedes ran through the weeds,
    being chased by one Norwegian!!"

    Some battle story that I should know about???????

    (Loud laughter in Carolina!)

    Bruce W.

    Actually, SOMEBODY should help Dutch. Since you were the last to chime in, I guess you're elected by default! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 12/17/98 07:22:36 GMT

    I think that we ought to impeach the president and put into office a full fledged Blacksmith ,maybe that way we could forge a better world.
    By the way the book that Jim Hrisoulas has is a very good book.

    Carl Voigtlander -- hiforge at Thursday, 12/17/98 23:28:28 GMT

    I've got one of Jim's books on Damascus and it is very good. Jim's writing is execelent and the illustrations are wonderful. I'm afraid I'm a little delinquent in getting my promised review posted. I loaned the book to a friend that has done some Damascus work. He was supposed to write his comments on the book for me but has taken the task too seriously I think.

    If we impeached every polititian for lying under oath we'd have no government at all.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/17/98 23:48:17 GMT

    I was wondering if you could give me some general information on colonial blacksmithing. I don't really know anything about it and am doing a school report on it. Sorry for the vagueness of my question but I would really appreciate it if you could help me a little. Thanks,
    Zach Fishinger

    Zach Fishinger -- zachyboy at Friday, 12/18/98 03:38:14 GMT


    On the book review page, there is a short review of a pamphlet titled THE BLACKSMITH IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY WILLIAMSBURG. See if your library has a copy or can get a copy through Inter-Library Loan. It would be a big help to you.

    Also, the gury has two articles on the 21st century page about blacksmithing in the time frame that you are interested in. They are historical fiction, but they are also historically accurate.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 12/18/98 05:25:24 GMT

    The articles Jim is refering to are, "Blacksmith of 1776" on the 21st Century page and "a day in the life" in the Oct. 1-15 guru page archives and "Williamsburg Smithy" in the Nov. 1-15 archives.

    Look for the following books by Eric Sloane Noah Blake - Diary of an Early American Boy and A Museaum of Early American Tools.

    Near one of the entries in the archives Bruce Blackistone, who works of the U.S. Park Service and is quite an historian, also listed some books that may help.

    -- guru Friday, 12/18/98 13:24:36 GMT

    I don't know about others, but I find this font on the Guru page a
    little hard to read. Great page though, keep it up!

    Craig -- schaefc at Friday, 12/18/98 14:53:51 GMT

    The net IS slow nowadays. Is everybody gearing down for christmas? Thats when I can take some time of from my regular job, curating a museum mainly concerned with industrial heritage, blacksmithing and arms manufacture, and get on with my irregular job as a blacksmith making tools and weapons for museums. Life can be good! But I started to write to comment on Jim Wilson´s song: clearly somone got the nationalities mixed up. Swedes sometimes runs from bears, never from norvegians.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Friday, 12/18/98 18:32:13 GMT


    (grin) Tain't the way I hear it! (grin)

    Have the best holiday ever! Where is your musueum?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 12/18/98 19:46:25 GMT


    "If we impeached every politician for lying under oath, we'd have no government at all."

    Doesn't sound like a bad idea at all!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 12/18/98 19:48:19 GMT

    Craig - no fonts in use other than the title block at the top. This is your browser's default font in bold. I find the unbolded color text almost impossible to see so the entire page is bold. If you are not seeing this as a bold Times Roman type font then it is your browser.

    -- guru Saturday, 12/19/98 03:38:19 GMT


    We gotta talk Olle Anderson into sending Jock a copy of the coat of arms for the town where he lives! I've seen it, and it's AWESOME!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 12/19/98 04:02:28 GMT

    Hi! I make furniture from steel tubing (I'm not a blacksmith) and I would like to know if you know of any suppliers of ornamental iron/cast iron that I can buy premade items from. Thanks

    Richard Hinz -- twinpoints at Saturday, 12/19/98 13:38:31 GMT

    I have seen hinges on a metal gate that I would like to either find or make. They are gravity closing and centering without spings,etc. A single pin at the top and two pins on the bottom. The two pins fit loosely into a saddle with coresponding notches. The gate opens and closes easily with it rocking back and forth a few times until it centers. Do you have a source for such hinges? I could make them if you have a sketch or them.

    Thanks , John

    John -- Johntoni at Saturday, 12/19/98 17:35:43 GMT

    was wondering what this area is about.I studied with Eric Moebius and Tom Wilson in the late 70s and early 80s.I also forged once with Freddy Habermann.

    David Schwalbe -- david4 at Saturday, 12/19/98 18:32:48 GMT

    I live in southern california - antelope valley, and I am trying to locate a source of coal. I have had no luck. The gravel yards, and fireplace shops sound as if they never heard of the stuff.

    Any suggestions on where I might find some coal?

    Martin Bell -- martin.bell at Saturday, 12/19/98 19:18:19 GMT

    I have a very old anvil there are faded markings on it they are
    GLAND (I think it is from England) 0 3 13 ( that is in the middle of the anvil) Peter R. ( that is on the top) M (that is on the bottom part

    ANVIL -- 103256.650 at Saturday, 12/19/98 20:18:29 GMT


    I have in my posession a Little Giant Triphammer and am wishing to find out a value on this triphammer. I have a gentlemen interested in it and would like your advice on placing a value on it. Thank you.

    Cory Swartz -- css34561 at Saturday, 12/19/98 23:10:19 GMT

    Anybody out there got any good practical tips on the making of oldfashioned gunbarrels? I've asked this of the guru "privately" before, and have since then learned some from different sources, but would like to learn more before experimenting further with my hard-to-replace 19:th century scrap-iron.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Sunday, 12/20/98 00:10:41 GMT

    Please leave jokes and such on the Virtual Hammer-In! You guys are making it hard for me to find the serious questions!

    Jim, I've got a copy of the coat of arms. Will post it if I can get a higher res version.

    COMPONENTS (Richard Hinz): Currently there are many beautiful architectual components available from King Supply Co. Dallas, TX. 1-800-542-2379. There are also German made components that are hard to tell from custom. If you are in the high production business a friend of mine makes custom furniture components in volume and I can hook you up if you like.

    David Schwalbe - The guru page is SUPPOSED to be a Q&A page but somehow the jokesters have gotten crazy this week. See the archives for more typical goings on. Lately I have been getting a lot of newbys but we also answer more technical questions.

    COAL IN SOCAL (Martin Bell): Its a big problem finding usable coal there AND the air quality folks have pretty much outlawed burning coal in much of CA and NV. Contact Ladonna Green ladonna at They are considering importing in bulk.

    OLD ANVIL: Thats a Peter Wright, made in England (I think). The markings on the side are hundred weights, quarter hundred weights and pounds. (3x28 + 13) = 97 pounds. A nice little anvil.

    HINGES (John): The same condition can be created by offsetting the the pins on the gate with the top out toward where you want it to come to rest. (See post above OR If you need them manufactured in quantity contact me).

    LITTLE GIANT POWER HAMMER VALUE (Cory Swartz): It depends a LOT on the condition and model of the hammer. Some of these machines have been practicaly ground to dust by users that NEVER oiled them while pounding cold steel all day. The type of motor also makes a difference. Most of the smaller hammers end up in shops that do not have 3PH power. Most of the original motors were 3PH. Some had no motor at all and were designed to be powered by overhead lineshafting.

    Because the small hammers are more in demand than the bigger hammers the big ones (100 and 250 pound) sell for about the same as the little ones (25 & 50 pound). Hammers in bad shape with missing parts sell for $500-$1000. Hammers in good condition sell for $2000-$3,500 US.

    Norway, please post your name and post jokes on the Virtual Hammer-In page.

    -- guru Sunday, 12/20/98 00:24:38 GMT


    Most of the hand forged gun barrels were forged around a mandrel Either folded around with a single long forge weld, OR spiral wrapped with a spiral forge weld. Either way, it's a tricky process. I'd help more, if I could but it's not an area that I'm very familiar with.


    Most of the jokes this month are my fault. I started it with a kidding question, and didn't think to cut it off. The guru clearly states in the guidelines that jokes belong over at the Virtual Hammerin. Mea culpa.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 12/20/98 02:41:26 GMT

    Colonial Blacksmithing

    Zach: our two best colonial blacksmithing sites on the internet are Saugus Ironworks at and Hopewell Furnace at

    I'm presently reading "Creating the Commonwealth (The Economic Culture of Puritan New England)" by Stephen Innes [W.W. Norton & Co., NY 1995 ISBN 0-393-03584-0]. This book has an excellent chapter on the economic and social impact of the ironworking industry in New England (not very positive, at least in the beginning), and might add a bit of depth to your paper beyond the technical aspects. (And the rest of the book "ain't too bad.")

    Union Station Demo:

    The fellows from Norway had some good equipment and some nice pieces. Their bellows/shield stone set-up was much simpler than ours: No direct connection! The twinned leather nozzles were backed about an inch or so from the tuyere stone's hole. Seemed to work well enough, and certainly prevented "fire sucking." At the fighting demo my sword snapped inside the hilt and just flew apart (hey, it was a gift!) As I lay on the marble floor of Union Station after being whomped flat by my challenger, I raised my head and yelled out: "I want to see my swordsmith! Now!" The crowd loved it and learned why one needs a reliable sword, and the usefulness of armor (mine). The sword is at the forge, awaiting its new, stronger tang.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Sunday, 12/20/98 05:21:18 GMT


    What kind of setup are you using in your viking-age forge?
    Yes, I know I´ve been less than serious and bragged to you about sailing Viking ships, but I am a certified (certifiable, isn´t that an american joke?) acheologist and have done a lot of research on, built and used viking-age forges for many years. Archeological evidence suggests leather sleeves from the bellows to a Y-shaped piece of hollowed wood to get ONE nozzle kept at a small distance from a tuyere of fired clay. This can be used with or without a proper, pierced shieldstone. All the tuyere´s are found as fragments, so I feel free to make them with quite wide at the recieving end although they should be about half an inch towards the fire. You can let the wooden nozzle rest lightly on the lower lip of the tuyere and don´t have to worry if the bellows move some, you´ll still get full airflow where you want it, without backdraft. Maybe you are already use some version of this, or know more about it than I do, but your letter suggested you have had some problem with backdraft

    And bruce, watch out with those flying swords! There was a terrible accident in Sweden last summer when a reenactor lost the grip on his sword and impaled a little girl in the audience. She survived, but he will be prosecuted.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Sunday, 12/20/98 12:11:39 GMT

    Bruce, thanks for the links to the two sites. I will add them to the links page so we don't have to ask you for them over and over again!

    May I suggest (per the Jim Hrisoulas video) that you have a mild steel tang forge welded to your swords blade. The mild steel is less likely to be brittle and break. Keep as big a radius as possible as the shoulder and the handle (or grip) TIGHT. A loose handle will alow the tang to flex at the joint causing work hardening and eventual failure.

    Hope you had someone taking photos!

    -- guru Sunday, 12/20/98 15:16:01 GMT

    Hey fellows can any body give me the real scoop about the branding iron laws? And to which states do they apply? Haven't been around much lately, hope everyone is doing "great"!! and Merry Chrictmas to All.

    Rick -- rickyc Monday, 12/21/98 01:02:29 GMT

    Ricky, that's going to be a pretty tall order. You would probably have to pole each state and THAT is a bitch of a job. It will probably require hiring a lawyer in each state. Not only does every state have different laws but they also have TONS of statutes that they each ignore. Here in Virginia the Sunday "blue" laws are still on the books in most counties (had a county by county referendum a few years back) but the state will no longer prosecute due to a protest by large retailers that wanted to stay open on Sundays.

    If you are thinking about selling them just be sure to meet YOUR states laws and require your customer to be knowledgable and obey the law in his. You might want to get a lawyer to carefully word THAT disclaimer.

    Any experts on this subject out there?

    -- guru Monday, 12/21/98 04:55:37 GMT

    ANVIL'S RING: The new edition just came out with ABANA conference coverage. Nope, anvilfire! and the JYH competition didn't make this one! However, illustrations we used in our first two book reviews, The Last Anvil Makers from Richard Postman's Anvils in American and the Kerrihard cover illustration from Pounding Out The Profits by Douglas Freund, grace the cover of the the new Anvil's Ring. Jim McCarty and company did a GREAT job on this one. Another collectors issue!

    Speaking of collectors items, numbered copies of Richard Postman's Anvils in American are almost sold out!

    -- guru Monday, 12/21/98 15:19:19 GMT

    Guru, i had a flash of lunatic brilliance! Now you getto tell me if it is more brilliant, or more lunatic. *L*
    If the JYH had a square 4x4 anvil and the rear end was low mounted, couldn't some sort of C shaped hammer guides be made so that the anvil guided the hammer, i.e.: there would be no other post to guide the hammer. Am I making a clear picture?
    In simple form: a 4x4 square tube would go around the square anvil. Welded to this would be a WF on the back side, the hammer would be welded to the top of the WF beam and whatever bracing was needed to keep he motion true.
    Am I mad or magic, or just simply on to something?

    Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Monday, 12/21/98 16:10:52 GMT

    I'd have to sit down and draw the design but it sounds workable to me. Ingersol Rand made an upsetter/power hammer that has a center column/ram that moves up and down for forging and clamps dies to hold work for upsetting with a seperate horizontal air hammer.

    Many designs are "traditional" because they are what we see the most of. My portable forge trailer was one of those "crazy" ideas. Dividing and hinging a box on the diagonal! Crazy? Worked great!

    -- guru Monday, 12/21/98 17:33:30 GMT

    I'll sign a contract that that "crazy idea" works great. Will even prove it to anyone willing to supply transportation and housing money!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 12/21/98 19:30:44 GMT


    re numbered/signed copies of ANVILS IN AMERICA.

    And there is one under my Christmas tree. Came in while momma was in California. And I didn't open the package. (couldn't figure out how to do it without her figuring out that I had, dammit!) :)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 12/21/98 19:32:37 GMT

    guru or helpers, what is the best coal to use in a hand forge for a very hot fire for welding? i've tried steel mill coal that i picked up from over flow off the train cars. i could not seem to get the steel to the temp i needed. i would be grateful if you could reply before x-mas.

    sac -- grtoehed at Monday, 12/21/98 23:28:55 GMT


    Any Bituminous (soft) coal will work. What was going to the steel mills was probably Antracite. Anthracite will burn plenty hot enough to weld with, but take a LOT more air to get it up to temperature.

    Try to get the size that most suppliers call "bean" coal. Ask specifically for "blacksmiths coal" or "Metalurgical coal".

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 12/21/98 23:43:14 GMT

    GOOD COAL? The question of the age. . .

    Even some realy bad coal will work if you have a deep enough fire. Forges are often modified slightly for specific coal types. The best blacksmithing coal is a clean "bituminous" or soft coal. The good stuff breaks up easily and is shiney black. When burning it gases off some volitiles as yellow smoke and produces light spongy looking coke. It is low ash and high BTU.

    Anthracite or hard coal can be used for blacksmithing but is harder to use. Good anthacite is as purer than soft coal. It has almost NO volitiles and is hard to keep burning. To keep it burning requires a deeper fire bed, an assistant or an electric blower.

    Both hard and soft coal leave relatively little ash if it is good coal. I have burnt some stuff that the ash was the same volume as what you put in to start with (sort of like oil-shale)! Good coal also has just the right amount of silica to help consolidate the ash into a nice little clinker.

    If you live out in the Western U.S. and are using local coal you are in trouble. The better coal out there is what they pave roads with in West Virginia!

    The best way to find out what GOOD coal is like is to order a bag or two from Centaur Forge or Bruce Wallace. Burn it, look at it study it! If you can't forge weld with this coal then you can't forge weld. Even with the BEST coal some of us have a hard time learning to forge weld or lack the patience.

    -- guru Monday, 12/21/98 23:51:17 GMT

    I am searching for 3/16" 1065 plate or bar, any ideas as to where to look? I have tried EMJ, Admiral, Crucible, Oneil, Ryerson, Central,to name a few.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Tuesday, 12/22/98 02:21:20 GMT

    Chris, I checked McMaster-Carr and they also didn't have it. The closest thing I can find is the ever popular L6 tool steel. It has the 65 to 75 point carbon and a little nickle. L6 is commonly used for some types of band saw blades.

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/22/98 07:19:18 GMT

    Corollary question then, having used and liked L6 does Mc-C carry it in 3/16" bar or sheet?

    Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Tuesday, 12/22/98 11:07:37 GMT

    Sorry, no. They carry 1018, 1045 in rounds, 12L14 in rounds, E52100 in rounds, 8620 in rounds, A-2, A-6, D-2, 4142, S-7, O-1 W-1, Iron/Nickel alloy foil, 321 Stainless foil and a variety of stainless steels.

    Finding the exact material in the needed form has always been a headache for small manufacturers. I wanted some 7/16" square hot roll mild steel once. I ended up buying a complete rolling from a billet. Some 4,000 FEET of 7/16" square! Took over a year to get delivery too!

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/22/98 12:40:06 GMT


    Try, Turret Steel Corp., Leetsdale, Pennnsylvania, 1-800-245-4800. They specialize in forging quality bars and billets. I buy 5160 1-1/8" hex and 5/8" hex from them by the ton. I don't know how much 3/16" 1065 your looking for and I don't know how they handle small orders. If they don't have it or can't get it's not available.

    Let us know how you make out and if Turret was able to accommodate you.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Tuesday, 12/22/98 13:44:53 GMT

    Rick;I'm not an expert on brand laws but I do know that if I walked into your shop and found my brand on an iron,I'd be choked.Brands are kind of like trademarks and being in possesion of another mans brand puts you under suspicion of rustling,a crime that is still very prevelant in the west and probably the east also.The Mounties have a dept.that specializes in rustling.
    Like the Guru says do your homework.The laws change from one jurisdiction to another.
    Brands expire and some are never renewed again.Here in B.C.the agency that administrates brands publishes a book with all of the registered brands and they had a section with the expired ones listed.I would think that most places would have something similar.
    Your biggest worry, I think, would be an irate rancher who doesn't like the idea of you making money with his brand.
    Moderately cold in northern B.C.[-20C]
    Season's Greetings to all!

    dimag -- dimag at Tuesday, 12/22/98 14:23:17 GMT

    What is it?
    A friend of mine went to an auction of a deceased blacksmith and bought me a present. It is a heavy gauge sheet metal box with a tight fitting lid (12" X 12" X 30" tall). It appears that somethings been burning inside the box. They thought that he use to throw his coals in there until next time he fired his forge, then he would save on coal that way. This box is made out of 12 ga. galv. and the lid makes it almost air tight. Could he have used this box to make charcoal, which he fueled his forge with later? The box is in good shape and looks nice; it has a handle made out of 5/16", but what was it used for? It would mean more to me, if I knew what it's intended purpose was. Thanks

    Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Tuesday, 12/22/98 20:38:30 GMT


    This of course is conjecture and we can't know for certain, but it sounds like a container for case hardening. The deceased blacksmith would have made a part, packed it into the box with charcoal, (probably made from leather or bone,) put it into his fire until the box was cherry red, then removed it and allowed it to sit till cool. The part would have absorbed a thin layer of carbon from the charcoal on it's surface, and so the surface would have been harder than the interior of the part. Called case hardening (I think) because the part was hardened "in the case".

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 12/22/98 20:53:15 GMT

    That's an interesting idea Jim, it never crossed my mind. But in this case, the fire has only been inside the sheet metal box. The outside is clean and looks like new galvanized sheet metal.

    When the tight lid is shut, the 5/16" round rod handle is attached to the top side of the box in which to carry it. I would have thought if there was much heat inside, it would have burnt the galvanized coating off the outside or distorted the box some, but it still looks good. Is it possible to make charcoal in something like this or what would happen to the coals and coke if you shut them up inside a can like this? Would they go out? Thanks!

    Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Tuesday, 12/22/98 21:13:42 GMT

    Bob and Jim: Can't make charcoal OR case harden in a galvanized box. Too much heat in both cases. The person that told you that he put coal in the box to save was probably right. It is not a common thing to do but it sounds like one man's idea for how to save on fuel costs.

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/22/98 21:59:57 GMT


    Huh! Hadn't even thought of that! You're right, enough temperature to case harden would have burned off the zinc.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 12/22/98 22:53:38 GMT


    The guru shot me down with a fact that I hadn't considered. But he's right.

    If the box is that close to air tight, anything put in it would soon stop burning. Combustion requires oxygen, and what little was in the box when it was first closed would soon be exausted.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 12/22/98 22:56:10 GMT


    Any way you can get a picture of the box and scan it so we can see it? We MIGHT be able to help better if we could see it.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 12/22/98 22:58:36 GMT

    Nothing like a good puzzle. Could the mystery box have been used as an annealer? Some hot coals mixed in W/ ashes would have let a piece of high carbon cool down real slow.
    Speaking of puzzles, when are you going to have another contest?
    I see craftsman wrenches every where you know.:-)

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Wednesday, 12/23/98 00:16:09 GMT

    Thanks for the info about branding irons guys. I will check out as much as I can for Md. and let you know what I find. I just keep getting orders for them and have not wanted to make or sell any untill I know the real scoop. It was Christmas Eve, and everyone was feeling Merry so she went home. Have a good and Happy Xmas

    Rick -- rickyc Wednesday, 12/23/98 04:10:39 GMT

    sounds like the box could have been used as an annealer, with the near airtight lid it would have been perfect for stopping the coals/sawdust from catching fire.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    Andrew Hooper (Kiwi) -- andrew at Wednesday, 12/23/98 04:23:49 GMT

    New contest is in the works. Will have to be harder than the last one! :)

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/23/98 05:14:04 GMT

    Viking Forge


    Pictures and descriptions in a week or two. Some of my best friends are archeologists! (I'm presently involved in two projects for long-term storage and study of archeological and historic artifacts. About 100,000 square feet (30,480 square metres?) between them. Tell me more about the accident. Was it an equipment failure, or did he just lose his grip? It's been my experience that when a sword fails, the pieces tend to fall in an arms-length radius. Mine "flew apart" but nothing flew very far.


    I was thinking of spring steel for the new tang, normalized, some previous mild steel tangs having a tendency to bend and stay bent.

    So, how much of that 7/16" square hot rolled mild steel do you have from that 4,000 feet of stock?

    Wrapping up warm on the freezing banks of the lower Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Wednesday, 12/23/98 05:19:04 GMT

    If I was to guess what the box was used for it would be for annealing. Dry powdery wood ash (from a wood stove or fireplace)is a great insulator and an excellent material for annealing. That might explain the appearance that something might have been burning inside the box. I have used wood ash for annealing. After 8 to 12 hours of treatment some item are still very warm to the touch.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 12/23/98 05:37:50 GMT

    I don't want to build a coal fueled forge. Are there any propane fueled ones; if so, would you have any suggestions as to its construction?
    I've been heating with a gas welding rig and find it uneconomical.
    Thank you, Dick Becker

    Dick Becker -- tuyere at Wednesday, 12/23/98 05:59:20 GMT


    There are a number of gas forges that can be bought commercialy. If your interested in building a gas forge, check out anvilfire's home page. Go to "plans" to see a simple gas burner or to the "21st century" to see the 10 minute gas forge. The Guru can help you out better with particulars. I think he has a few links to other pages to help with gas forge building.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 12/23/98 13:19:40 GMT

    PROPANE FORGE: Yes, there are a great number of types available to buy or build. See the Centaur Forge site and catalog for commercial gas forges.

    There are two types of gas forges, blown and atmospheric. Blown forges have a small blower (140 to 300 CFM) and simply inject the gas into the air flow. See the article Simple Gas Burner for a forge of this type.

    Atmospheric forges are a little more complicated. They LOOK simple but there is a delicate balance between the injection orifice size and the burner venturi. See the RON REIL page for plans and designs.

    Both types require a balance between burner size and enclosed forge volume and the resulting back presure. Commercial forges are built both ways. Many users have trouble getting a welding heat with both commercial and home built units while others have no trouble at all.

    The gas forge I built for myself has a solenoid valve for the gas and electric ignition. To start the forge you simply "turn it on". It also has a dwell on/dwell off mode for soaking parts or keeping the forge hot without running full blast. It uses a stacked brick enclosure for flexability. Pretty nifty, but it cost more than a small commercial unit!

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/23/98 13:36:25 GMT

    Hey, I am a 16 year old who is extemely into medieval weaponry. I really want to learn to forge on my own. Is there a way to make a "Homemade" forge? Also what is a good reference for begining blacksmiths?

    Brett Buckus -- Vengeance5 at Wednesday, 12/23/98 19:35:06 GMT

    Brett, you need to start at the beginning of metal working and work up. Check out Getting Started. I am also working on one for bladesmithing and armor but they will both refer you back to the beginning. There are articles on forges on the Plans page and under 21st Century. AFTER you are well versed in the art of blacksmithing and basic metalurgy you will find that the many books available will make more sense.

    Atli, Sorry I missed your question. A medium carbon steel like spring steel would work for the tang but should be left soft. Unhardened it will still be much stiffer than mild steel. Out of 4,000 feet I still probably have 3,700 feet! During the year it took to get delivery I got out of blacksmithing and into machine design. I was a little surprised when it came in! It was ordered to make fire place tools. I find 1/2" stock too heavy for this purpose and 3/8" too light.

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/23/98 22:24:56 GMT

    Brett (more): When you have studied the references and have some more specific questions to ask please feel free to ask away! Here you have the opourtunity to ask questions of people such as Bruce Blackistone who is a historian specializing in Viking and Medevil armor and technology, and grandpa Daryl Meier one of the great makers of "Damascus" steel. We will answer (or try to answer) your questions no matter how basic or esoteric.

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/23/98 23:00:28 GMT

    O mighty guru! I recall someone asking you a question a few weeks ago (early Dec.) regarding a source of very pure iron similar to that manufactured ca. 1900. You mentioned that you knew of a few small manufacturers currently selling or producing new iron but were unable to list them at the time of your answer. Well, I'd be extremely (I'm drooling!) interested in locating a source of new iron somewhere in the US or Canada. Would you be able to offer any insight into this? I'd be very grateful for any help in this matter. Thanks!

    Eric -- theland1 at Thursday, 12/24/98 00:16:50 GMT

    OErjan our friend from Sweden provided:

    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.

    Nearly pure iron is also used for transformer plates and solenoid cores. Old wrought iron can be bought from grandpa darylmeier at at $1/lb. Sizes are limited and minimuns may apply.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/24/98 00:36:15 GMT

    guru and all,

    I've got a piece of grandpa's wrought iron that he sent to me. I've been playing with it. I want to mention that when I ordered it, I expected to get a piece of rusty metal. WRONG! Not a speck of rust on it! Now I know that wrought iron doesn't rust as quickly as steel, but I still expected SOME rust. Was a pleasant surprise.

    If grandpa has what you need, don't be afraid to order it from him!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 12/24/98 00:53:01 GMT

    I am very new to this and would like to get a few site addresses for getting supplies. I seem to be having a little trouble finding sites with the tools I might need. I am eighteen and in college and I am trying lots of new things including glass blowing and wood work in addition to any other interests that I can find to take up my spare time . If you can help I really would appreciate it! Thanks!

    Deric Sutherland -- deric50 at Thursday, 12/24/98 19:06:30 GMT


    You have came to the right place. Go to anvilfire's home page and then to "source book."

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 12/24/98 21:54:06 GMT

    Guru, I have been reading some on tempering steel (knife Blades) in particular. They refer a lot to "drawing the temper". I am having a hard time understanding this. Also most of these books tend to be written as though most already know something about tempering steel and what the different colors represent. can you give any advise on this subject.
    Cold and wet in Mississippi,

    Bobby Craig Friday, 12/25/98 02:59:31 GMT

    How can iI find the value of some equip I have? Meyers Bro's 100# triphammer, drillpress, pedistile grinder. Champion 3' forge and blower with 15 to20 tonges. Lineshaft, reduction pullys and large AC motor. Clean, shop kept, and need only replacement belting to put in service. This equipment was used on a family farm here in southeast Texas.

    Randy Gauny -- weeback at Friday, 12/25/98 17:21:39 GMT


    We are having real winter here in Virginia. I left Petersburg yesterday morning in a raging ice storm and got home to find we had no power there either! However, family and all doing well! I just may not be on-line for a few days!

    -- guru Friday, 12/25/98 18:38:20 GMT

    TEMPERING STEEL: "Drawing the Temper" means to reheat the steel after hardening to reduce the hardness and make the steel tougher. This step is a crucial part of heat treating and is required for all steels. Tempering should be done as soon as possible after hardening.

    TEMPER COLORS: I don't have a chart handy but the range is about 450°F at a straw yellow to 800°F at a blue (I think). Tempering starts as low as 425°F (cook over temp), to as high as 1400°F+. Several books on Blacksmithing including Jack Andrews' New Edge of the Anvil include temper color charts.

    -- guru Friday, 12/25/98 18:46:22 GMT

    SUPPLIES (Deric): Centaur Forge carries almost everything you need for blacksmithing. Bruce Wallace carries a lot of used blacksmithing equipment at fair prices.

    For woodworking I go to Garrett Wade and Constantines. If you are building musical instruments look for Stewart-McDonalds Guitar Makers Supply catalog. Then Dixie Gun Works for specialized gun smithing tools.

    -- guru Friday, 12/25/98 18:54:27 GMT

    VALUE OF USED EQUIPMENT: It depends on the condition, the location, whos selling and who's buying. Little Ginat/Meyers Bros hammers typically sell for about $3,000 for all sizes in GOOD condition.

    -- guru Friday, 12/25/98 19:44:40 GMT

    dear,fellows I've been fooling around with smithing for about 6 months,Ilive in Madison ,IN ,I have got in contact with several of the smiths around my area through almost sweat and tears but to my suprise none of them are willing to show any of the trade to me can you give me any direction? THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    MATT JONES -- dejones at Friday, 12/25/98 20:53:15 GMT


    I know one Indiana blacksmith that I don't think would react in quite the same way. At the moment, I'm drawing a blank, and can't remember his last name or location. Let me see what I can do.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 12/25/98 21:31:44 GMT

    Matt: While PawPaw is looking up his friends name, you might look at the ABANA web site ( link is here on Anvilfire) and see about the chapter that is closest to you. If all else fails, go on up to Friendship,Ind. when one of the Muzzleloading shoots is going on. There will be several blacksmith demonstrations there and the people are very friendly and helpfull. Above freezing in the heartland this afternoon.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 12/25/98 21:46:28 GMT

    I am just getting into working with hot iron. Can you give me any information or pictures on how to make scroll jigs and or tongs and other smithing tools?

    Scott Vickrey -- vickrey at Friday, 12/25/98 23:12:08 GMT


    I know it seems that some blacksmiths might be giving you the cold shoulder. It's sometimes hard for me to take visitors when we are backed up with work. Our shop space is limited and an extra person in the shop to trip over is one less thing we need during these times. Blacksimthing to some is more than a hobbie, and we might not have the time in our busy day to accommodate visitors. Don't be surprised if you where to catch me off guard and stop by my shop next week and I seemed rude. Under different circumstances, in a different environment, I would be the first one to offer help. I agree with Grandpa, you might be better off hooking up with ABANA or one of their local chapters. Attend one of their hammer-ins. Networking with other blacksmiths at a hammer-in is one of the best ways to meet others that have the time to answer questions.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Saturday, 12/26/98 00:27:52 GMT


    There are plans on the plans page here at Anvilfire for scroll jigs, and the Dempsey twist for making tongs. They all work.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 12/26/98 02:47:54 GMT

    SCROLL JIGS (See 21st Century page),

    UNFRIENDLY SMITHS (Matt): Like Bruce said, you may have caught them at a bad time. It also helps if you can study as much about blacksmithing as you can on your own. See the standing article on getting started for references. Knowing how to ask an intellegent question sometimes helps. Although most of us will gladly help anyone that is intrested we don't always have time to baby someone through the basics of metalworking. Showing a REAL intrest by studying on your own may open some of those doors. It also helps to know when to keep your mouth shut and learn from observing. grandpa's advice is also right on target. You may even find him at one of those local events!

    MORE ON USED EQUIPMENT: Old tongs IF they are good ones go for as much as new tongs. Any smith that has made a pair or two knows how long it takes to make GOOD tongs and are willing to pay for them. On the other hand, there are a LOT of what I call "farmer tongs" on the market. They were made by amatures and are often not worth the scrap material in them! Some dumb collector WILL pay more than they are worth but not a blacksmith. I've been GIVEN many pairs of farmers tongs and I promptly give them away to the first person that takes a liking to them. I have no place in my shop for BAD tools and routinely trash them for my safety and peace of mind.

    OH YEAH! We got our power back! Now that I've added MY comments I can go thaw out some frozen pipes and work on the water pump (if there is anything left).

    -- guru Saturday, 12/26/98 03:17:44 GMT

    Jock, Thanks for all the hard, thoughtful, diligent work you put into this. Season's greetings and best wishes to you and yours for the happiest of new years yet! All best, John Neary

    John Neary -- jneary at Saturday, 12/26/98 04:07:42 GMT

    Hi, I live in Indiana, Terre Haute, and I LOVE to have people visit. E-mail me to arrange a visit or just to talk.

    Chris Kilpatrick -- kipe4 at Sunday, 12/27/98 01:03:46 GMT

    Gurus: Two questions, 1) Is there a means to search this site for info or threads by keyword either at your web page or inside this electronic device that I typing from? 2) I'm sure this has been asked before but other than viewing every page and archive I will with trepidation ask again: What are the mechanical properties of rebar-- tensile strength,shear strength,hot rolled, cold rolled, composition?

    Charles Sedell -- sideros at Sunday, 12/27/98 17:47:44 GMT

    SEARCH: Currently you would have to search the individual archives. Slowly I am putting topics into articles that are posted on the 21st Century page. Even this already needs reorganising. After a year of constant HTML programming I am still new to the subject and looking for better ways to organize the page.

    REBAR: It varies a great deal. It is one of those products that is sold based on ASTM minimum performance specifications which do not specify the exact material. OLD rebar is pretty trashy stuff being rolled from the cut off ends of billets that often had pipes, inclusions and cold shuts. NEW rebar is much better.

    REBAR typically comes in three grades. Structural, Intermediate and Hard grade. Hard grade is often made from rerolled rail (50-70 point carbon). Structural is roughly the same as A36 structural steel. Intermediate is most common. Chemically phosphorus is limited to 0.11%.

    The problem with using scrap rebar in blacksmithing as in using any other scrap is determining exactly what you are working with.

    RE-BAR Structural Inter't Hard
    Tensile 55-75 Kips 70-90 Kips 80 Kips min
    Yield (min) 33 Kips 40 Kips 50 Kips
    Concrete Engineering Handbook, LaLonde and Janes

    -- guru Sunday, 12/27/98 21:36:21 GMT

    To stuff my iron into the heating branding iron question(pun intended) in Texas a "Brand" book is maintained at each county courthouse, so to register your brand you go to the courthouse and register it in the book I registered my brand in Hildalgo co. over 20 years ago and it was a simple process just look through the book, and if the brand you wanted wasn't there you just drew it in and it was yours. Another thing for you brand designers, you need to know th difference between "wood" and "cattle" brands, any brand intended for use on stock MUST NOT have any completly closed areas like "0" or it must be "vented' like this"()" because if it is not vented the entire closed area will probably fall out leaveng a blottedbrand and an animal that you have to doctor. One other thing on forging branding irons intended for use on stock the marking edge should be forged to a "knife edge" about 1/8 thick down from the 1/4 or 3/16 base stock

    Bob Keyes -- Keyes at Sunday, 12/27/98 23:29:46 GMT

    I've been told that "Waverly" iron (steel-?) was used to make metal golf club heads pre 1875. Is this true and what is "Waverly"?

    joseph tiscornia -- jrtiscornia at Monday, 12/28/98 00:09:59 GMT

    WAVERLY: Sounds like a brand name not a technical term. I looked in the current and archaic references in my library but didn't find a reference to it. Anyone else hear of this manufacturer?

    -- guru Monday, 12/28/98 03:53:55 GMT

    Waverly, Ohio is a small city due East of Cinncinati, and almost due south of Columbus. There MAY have been a small specialty steel mill there at one time. I haven't been able to find out for sure.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 12/28/98 13:54:24 GMT

    How can I tone down the ring on my Peter Wright anvil, or even get rid of it altogether? Thanks.

    Lou Polsinelli -- L_Polsinelli at Monday, 12/28/98 18:14:30 GMT


    One way would be to clamp it down to the stand as tightly as possible.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 12/28/98 19:23:48 GMT

    where could I get a forge blower and what do you use for air in your fires?

    lets just say I'm a teenage boy blacksmith -- oprem at Monday, 12/28/98 20:38:59 GMT


    Someone sugested a while back that the entire base of you anvil sits on the stand (preferably log) without any gaps or wobbling, then squirt some Caulk (Like thick silicone) on to the base and anchor the anvil with heavy staples. (Dont use to much as you only want to make a sort of gasket between the anvil base and the stand.)

    If this is not an option then i have also heard that hanging a bucket of sand hung from the heel of the anvil works prety well.

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Monday, 12/28/98 20:42:51 GMT

    FORGE BLOWERS: For gas forges and small coal forges look for a 90 to 140 CFM blower. Any small blower can be used. Old hair "blow drier" fans work if you are careful to keep the plastic housing away from the forge a safe distance. The little blowers that they were putting on fireplace inserts and some wood stoves with outer shells are the right size. They are not as easy to fit but the small ceiling ventilation fans used in bathrooms are reported to work fine. These fit a 4" or 6" stove pipe. Use a short length and make a funnel out of it.

    These blowers with electric motors should have a piece of sheet metal placed between them and the forge to act as a "heat shield". Leave about 1" (25mm) clear space between both side of the sheild and room for air to circulate and the blower and its electrics will stay nice and cool.

    Local Sources: Look for appliance repair parts houses. They often carry the little Dayton blowers that I use. These are a type 21, 1/30 HP 120VAC blower.

    Mail Order: McMaster-Carr is good (see our links page). They list a "miniature" blower of 138 CFM for $109. Cat No. 1699K16. The also list a "compact" blower of 122/100 CFM, Cat No. 19145K83 for $93.50.

    Then a source i haven't tried, Parts Surplus Center, Lincoln, NE (800) 488-3407. Call and ask for a catalog.

    Centaur Forge also carries several forge blowers. The #115VBLOWER (#2-C-647 Dayton) for $52 is similar to what I use for gas forges and they will sell you a speed control for it for $25 more.

    -- guru Monday, 12/28/98 21:33:37 GMT

    RINGING ANVIL: Old speaker magnets are supposed to work but I tried one on a anvil at Paw-Paw's as a joke but the anvil still rang like a bell! Anything you do to tie one down reduces the ring. I've seen the bucket of sand trick and thought it took up a lot anvil surface and was a pain to move. Anvils bolted to their stand ring much less.

    The European's like to set their anvil in a stand made from an old drum filled with sand and ashes. Working the anvil into the fill by twisting it helps deaden the sound. This also lets you slope or level the anvil face to suit. This also makes a heavy stand.

    Automotive machinists use an elastic strap with weights in it to deaden the ring while turning brake drums. A similar device wrapped around the waist of the anvil should help.

    I LIKE my anvils to ring! When the anvil rings loud you are working metal that is too cold or directly striking the anvil. The BEST ringing anvils ring very little when forging hot work. My anvil stands are build of wood with two half rounds to fit between the feet and nothing to hold the anvil down. The anvil is free to bounce and ring as it will. Generaly if the sound hurts your ears you are working in a confined space. In this case I would tone down my anvils ring.

    -- guru Monday, 12/28/98 21:50:03 GMT

    Ringing Anvils:

    Yep, and my ears ring all the time too, just as when I was shooting. If I'm not actually instructing someone, or doing an historical demonstration, I wear a good pair of shooters ear protectors, right along with my eye protection. That way I can still hear the anvil, and pick up subtle changes in tone, but the noise is at a civilized level. And I can still hear the music too. (I run a "classical" forge.)

    Any activity that causes ringing in your ears (or, in my case increases it) is causing damage. I'm just trying to keep what I've still got.

    Thawing out on the banks of the lower Potomac (which didn't get clobbered near as bad as further west and south in Virginia).

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Tuesday, 12/29/98 03:52:49 GMT

    Bruce, you work in the very confined space I was thinking of!

    I still have very good hearing (high freq occilators in TV's drive me nuts) and have never had my ears ring from anvil sound. But I've almost always worked outdoors on in spacious shops. The working environment makes a big difference.

    Thawing here too but folks EAST of us really got clobbered (Richmond, Petersburg).

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/29/98 04:29:44 GMT

    I am interested in making a billit tool steel 4140-4150 Anvil. I called almost all steel suppliers in Orlando, Florida 74 degrees on Dec 29th. Can not locate this steel. could you send me address for JT Ryerson & sons -
    thanks - dutch

    Dutch Harold -- castnet at Tuesday, 12/29/98 17:01:14 GMT

    Joseph T. Ryerson and Son, Inc.
    Box 7349
    Philadelphia, PA 19101
    (215) 724-0700

    They also have a sales office in Charlott, NC. The steel you are looking for is 4140 OR E4150. They also carry a plain carbon steel SAE 1060.

    -- guru Tuesday, 12/29/98 17:37:44 GMT

    Thanks for all the great help from Central Florida - Dutch

    Dutch Harold -- castnet at Tuesday, 12/29/98 19:49:02 GMT

    Just a quick note on blower mounting. I use a blower from an air tight stove and mount it on a 2" floor flange (available at the plumbing section) it's already drilled and you can neck'em down to any size blower pipe you need(mine' from 2" to 1 1/2").Got this little hint from Ed Caffrey the Montana Bladesmith.COLD, COLD,COLD up here in central Montana, but that forge feels soooo good!

    Dave Neagle -- dneagle at Wednesday, 12/30/98 01:52:46 GMT


    Ringing in my ears? What ringing? What ears?

    Tinnitis (sic) is caused by loud and/or highi pitched noises.

    Try 4 1/2 in SE Asia. Try 18 years in the Army! Try going to the range 5 - 6 times a year, minimum! Try spending 12hrs on 12hrs off, listening to morse code with the volume turned up in your ear phones to make sure you don't miss your call sign.

    My ears ALWAYS ring. Sometimes just an oscillation in one ear and an idiot sending nonsense code in the other. My anvil doesn't bother me at all!

    Yes, I've got some hearing loss. Mostly in the upper registers.
    Comes in handy when I don't want to "hear" my wife! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/30/98 05:25:33 GMT

    This may be a little off the path of metalworking, could anyone tell me the name of the byproduct produced by lightning striking the desert sand and fusing an solid shaft of sand together? (We are looking for the name of the solid shaft)

    Thanks in advance

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Wednesday, 12/30/98 10:23:17 GMT


    I'd call it a glass pipe. But that may not be what you're looking for.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/30/98 13:18:19 GMT

    When burning coal is it normal for it to make a big clinker,the coal
    I've been able to locate was use to fire a boiler at a gas-a-hol plant
    it smoke's very little and is from small to almost crushed size.

    Thanks Bobby
    Central Louisana

    Bobby Neal -- bbneal at Wednesday, 12/30/98 14:38:30 GMT

    CLINKER SIZE: Big is a relative term and depends on how much coal you have burned. Good coal generaly forms a doughnut size and shape clinker around the center of the fire after a day's or half a day's work. I'd have to look up the percentage of ash put good coal will have 10% or less. In very good coal it should be around 2-5% I've burnt (couldn't forge with it) coal that was over 90% "ash". I think it was closer to what would be called oil-shale!

    I'm still working on Andrew's geology question. So far my references have been strict text's and the thing is not realy a rock OR a mineral. I've seen pictures of the darn things but can't remember where!

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/30/98 15:21:24 GMT

    FULGARITE: From Newsletter Geoscience
    A few years ago, several sandy textured, tube like structures, 1/3 to 1/2 inch (9-13mm) in diameter and 3 to 4 inches (75-100mm) long were brought in. These were found on a sandy beach area after an especially intense electrical storm. When lightening strikes sand, it fuses the sand grains together in these shapes. They are called fulgarites.

    James Pendleton

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/30/98 17:00:57 GMT

    Lets see, Sword tangs, Rebar, Cattle Branding Irons, Steel suppliers, Mystery boxes, Wrought Iron, Finding help learing the trade, Ringing anvils, Organology of Musical Instruments (Hammer-In), Coal, Fulgarites. . .

    Been an intresting week!

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/30/98 17:26:11 GMT

    What is your advise on swaging down pipe? I need to make some scrolls which begin as 2" and taper down to nothing, with vines and flowers coming off of the main stem. I have tried to taper 2" solid on my 25 lb hammer...too much steel and not enough hammer. So I thought about regular 2" pipe...can it be swaged down smoothly. I have seen work done by others who would neck down the end and insert a smaller pipe, then neck that down and so on. But this interupts the flow and is not acceptable to me. Appreciate your advise. Great weather in Texas.

    Ken -- kensea at Wednesday, 12/30/98 20:24:04 GMT

    I need some advice in choosing the right equipment to perform a certain task. Last week in my company's shop decided to try to make curb pins. I used one inch round bar cut to a 42" pieces,heat with a tourch equiped with a Rosebud. A curb pin is just a long spike used to hold a curb form verticle. I made several my problem was the amount of time used just to form the point. It was no cost effective for me to make them,it take three seperate heatings to make one finished point. I even tried to cut a point with another tourch then heat and form it into a point this made it faster but still not cost effective. I believe I need some type of forge but what size I do not know or where to purchase??Also is there some type of hammer that when the bar is heated can form the point faster then banging with a hammer?
    Any advice would greatly be appreciated.

    Robert Montone
    29 year old male construction worker.

    Robert Montone -- amc1234567 at Wednesday, 12/30/98 22:05:58 GMT

    Robert: The guru will give you a much more complete answer so stay tuned. But just to keep you interested, with an adequate heat source and a small power hammer your pins could be forged in less than one minute each.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 12/30/98 22:17:27 GMT

    FORGING PIPE (Ken): I've seen work done that way so I know it can be done but I've never done any myself. Shrinking the pipe is basicaly an upsetting process where the wall become thicker as the diameter becomes smaller. A slightly tapered V die with 60° between the sides would help. If the die is just deep enough for the pipe to have some tangent contact at the top you should be able to reduce the diameter by 50% with the one die.

    Layout the die shape so that there is just a little flat tangent to the diameter of the pipe. The bottom should be a radius equal to a round setting in the closed equal lateral triangle made by the top and bottom die. Heavily Radius the sides so that marks are not left on the work.

    The die for this could be made from mild steel as either a cap to fit over your lower die or to replace the lower die. If its a replacement be sure the top is no lower than the normal die. A small hammer is the right machine for this job because it requires lots of rapid blows while the work is rotated and worked back and forth in the dies.

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/30/98 22:20:04 GMT

    CURB PINS (Robert): This is a GREAT starter job IF you have enough of them to make to pay for the equipment! Yes, even an experianced smith would winch at forging that many points on 1" (25mm) bar by hand! IF your shop doesn't want to purchase the equipment there are a lot of smiths that could do the job. Drop a line here and you will have volunteers galore.

    For small power hammers check our Power hammer Page Page 3, the NEW air hammers. These are economical machines and some can be delivered from stock. I'm sorry that this review is not complete but the information you want is there. Contact me if you need to know more.

    For gas forges of all sizes order a Centaur Forge catalog. There are pictures of coal and gas forges on their web page but you will need a catalog for specifics. I reccomend a gas forge for production shop work. This job will require a medium size forge.

    Used machinery is also available but you can spend a lot of time scrounging for it and setting it up. Contact Bruce Wallace he has a constant rotation of inventory.

    Many smiths that are part time or forge as a hobby build a lot of their own equimpent including gas forges AND power hammers. Order the Ron Kinyon Simple Air Hammer plans from ABANA. With the control modification on the AFC web page this machine is very much like several of the commercial models being built. See our link to the Ron Reil page for gas forge plans as well as our articles on the 21st Century page about the Famous 10 Minute Gas Forge and the burner for it on the Plans page. This forge was built for doing production forging of jack hammer bits and would keep an experianced smith using a 400 pound air hammer in constant production.

    For examples of all this machinery in operation see the anvilfire NEWS.

    AND grandpa was NOT being conservative. Once setup to do this job the forging will go as fast as the stock cutting. Starting out it may take more than a minute each (2) but after some practice you could probably do better if you can keep up with the machines!

    -- guru Wednesday, 12/30/98 22:57:08 GMT

    SPAM: Are you tired of getting spammed, sending the return mail to the "remove" address and having it bounce back as undeliverable? I respond to ALL spam and have gotten sick and tired of the return addresses being bogus. I recently responded to webmaster at and THAT bounced back! So now I do the following:

  • Goto

  • Do a whois search on the spammer's host site (???.com).

  • Forward your complaint to the administrative contact

  • This is the owner/ISP admin or someone in-charge. The mail WILL get through to them. Send your complaints to where it hurts.


    -- guru Thursday, 12/31/98 03:31:46 GMT

    Guru, I've ordered a couple of hundred dollars worth of stuff from Surplus center over the last6 mo. and have been very plesed with their response. Because it's a surplus center though not all the items in the catlog are alwas avaible. Regarding the blower the 98 catlog list a 150CFM/115v blower for $19.95.Also several others in the 100-150cfm range for the same price.

    Ron Hardy -- rhemail at Thursday, 12/31/98 06:29:48 GMT

    I have piece of equipment that I've been trying to figure out it's
    name.At first I thought it maybe a postvise when I bought it.Sense
    then I've when back and I'm buying a #2 hossfeild bender. In side the
    tray that has the different dies I've found three sets of small swedge
    blocks that I think will go inside the (vise).The vise is foot operated and favors a swedge block around the top sides can tell me
    what it's called.

    Bobby Neal

    Bobby Neal -- bbneal at Thursday, 12/31/98 12:06:14 GMT

    Thanks Ron! I ordered a catalog from Surplus Center that hasn't arrived yet. That $19.95 (US) blower sounds like a DEAL for building forges.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/31/98 14:37:08 GMT

    ODD VISE (Bobby): Its a foot operated blacksmith's vise. Sometimes they are called a "caulking vise" because they have a built-in swage surface with grooves for forming horseshoe caulks. Normally they go by the manufacturer's name (Greenfield, I think). The dies are used to support work for upsetting. Below the die space there should be a toothed surface that an upsetting "back stop" bolts to at different heights in the throat of the vise. You can see the jaws and swage portion of one in the picture on the Hammer-In page (left rear behind the swage block).

    These are fairly rare and valuable vises, especially with a set of dies and all the parts. They are no longer made and currently sell for $300-$400 US. However, they are of limited, specialized use and not everyone wants one. I had one, I paid too much it, then sold it for the same amount (maybe a little less) 15 years later!

    The Hossfeld bender is the same (limited specialized use). Check out the article on benders on the 21st Century page. There is a photo of a complete Hossfeld bender there. However, "complete" means the bender is there. Dies to make it useful are another thing. I know of half a dozen smiths that have them. Among them there might be two that have a die or two and one that has actually used one. The friend that sold me on Hossfeld benders AND sold me one without dies hasn't used his in 20 years and neither have I. NO DIES!

    Hossfeld still makes their bender AND sells dies for them. However, like any machine (tool) it is not useful without the tooling that is part of the machine but sold seperately. To be useful in a blacksmith shop you need ALL the tooling for bending flat stock and might want some of the tooling for bending pipe and channel. Buying a bender without dies is like buying a punch without dies or a lathe without chucks and toolholders.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/31/98 15:08:34 GMT

    The bender is a #2 size and has the dies for pipe,angle iron & flat
    and some others it may lack some of the pens. I'm paying 400.00 for
    it and is mounted on an old gear of sort it stands 40" high and has
    a flat surface on the top & about 800lbs may work good for an anvil

    Bobby Neal -- bbneal at Thursday, 12/31/98 16:34:35 GMT

    I'm looking for a manual bending tool to fabricate circles and bends fairly accurately in 1/4" steel rod. Know of any manufactures of this kind of tool?
    In a bend R.S.

    Robert Send -- robert at scottadv.comm Thursday, 12/31/98 19:10:17 GMT

    MORE BENDER STUFF (Robert): Di-Acro makes a nice little bender. I haven't seen one since they moved their manufacturing to Southeast Asia and then to Mexico. . See the articles on the 21st Century page Benders 1 and Benders 2. Benders 2 has a picture of a Di-Acro bender. Centaur Forge carries a machine bender called a "Super Scroller" and Hossfeld Benders. I'm not sure who carries Di-Acro.

    Accurate bends. Now THAT is a loaded statement. Any bender will produce repeat bends. The problem is the bar must be the exact same temper (hardness) for every piece. Annealed hot roll steel rod will just lay right on the bending die with imperceptable spring back. Cold drawn stock will spring back a considerable but consistant amount. The problem comes when you cold bend hot roll stock that varies in hardness. IF you purchase all the stock for a project from one batch of material it will bend fairly consistantly.

    However, if you buy a stick today and test your bender setup then purchase a load of steel to bend next week it will likely be a different batch and a different temper. The results are different amounts of spring back and sometimes different radiuses. Often all you have to do is reset your stops so that you bend a little more or less. On large radius bends the problem is one of radius. On gentle bends the stock springs back more than on sharp bends. The more spring back the bigger the difference due to temper.

    You can also use a shaper like a bulldozer for making production bends and punch presses for bending where coining is required. Both require custom tooling. Let me know if you are intrested in this route.

    -- guru Thursday, 12/31/98 20:10:57 GMT

    HI everyone it's the annoying swede again.
    Thanks for the advise Jock I'll cast(too much trouble refitting)
    I will be on the slack tub pub 2200 hrs GMT (I'll wait for 15min)
    Which means 5-9hrs earlyer for US (depending on state)
    and 10 later for NZ dwelers
    8-9 later for Australia
    hope to seya
    If not
    Happy new year!
    Good forging and may all your welds be perfect (something to wish for !!)

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Thursday, 12/31/98 21:15:31 GMT

    To the guy making curb stakes: Get a table saw with cut-off wheel and cut theses pieces at a steep angle. Works well as is, or forge pieces to shape.

    Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Friday, 01/01/99 00:10:27 GMT

    Chris, good practical suggestion, the fellow's shop probably has a chop saw that will do a fair job. Congrats on the first post of 1999!

    OErjan, Happy New Year in Sweden! Just checked the Tub, it was working fine. Had some kind of server trouble yesterday. May be acting up again.

    -- guru Friday, 01/01/99 00:28:05 GMT

    WELCOME 1999!

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