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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 21 - 31, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

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

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

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

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, asylum at of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

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After posting and clicking on return, 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
Hat animation by Andrew Hooper anvilfire! hats are here!

Or you can GO DIRECTLY TO ORDER FORM It works now!

-- guru

I'm making an arbor out of 1 inch square tube (1/8 in. wall thickness) and would like some hints on bending the square tube. The radius of bend is 20 inches. Can I use a standard pipe bender? Do I need to heat the side of the tube on the inside of the cure to minimize buckling? Any hints or suggestions would be appreciated.

Roger -- rlscriven at Tuesday, 12/21/99 19:26:22 GMT

Roger, That size tube should bend just fine cold at that large a radius. It could be bent around a laminated plywood form if you don't have the bender.

-- guru Tuesday, 12/21/99 19:31:48 GMT

I'm only 14 yearsof age and am interested in the art of blacksmithing.
Myquestion to you may take some time to answer, but I need to know how to build a hearth of about 6' by 6' by 4'. I also need to know where I can some high quality tools and really good anvil.

Thank you,

steve forbes II -- sforbes at Tuesday, 12/21/99 22:07:13 GMT

Steve, That would be a HUGE forge! You could heat anvils and ship anchors in something that big! If you want to build a masonry forge there are a number of designs in Practical Blacksmithing by M.T. Richardson. Its an old book in reprint and available from Centaur Forge or Norm Larson at
larbooks at

Most permanent forges are about 2' x 3'. Portable ones are smaller and industrial ones top out at 3' x 3'. Many folks today would put a commercial firepot in a brick forge. Hoods and chimineys vary but the "side draft" type work best.

All the dealers that advertise here, Centaur Forge, Kayne & Son and Wallace Metal Works all sell top quality tools and are all Peddinghaus dealers. Peddinghaus are the last of the forged anvils being manufactured. My only complaint is that they do a poor job finishing the horn but I understand that has been improved.

To get a better anvil you have to shop in the used market. The best anvil manufacturers of the last century have all gone out of business. Hay-Budden was the best American manufacturer (perhaps the world's best) and Peter Wright one of the best English. There were also some very good German anvils made but I do not know the makers names. Before buying a used anvil read my series on out 21st Century page.

There are also many types of tools no longer made or not made well. Good blacksmith's Post Vises must be purchased on the used market. Bickerns and tire benders as well. In forging machinery (power hammers), mechanical hammer are no longer manufactured. And some of the best pneumatic hammers such as Nazel are also no longer made.

Let me know if I can be of further help.

-- guru Tuesday, 12/21/99 22:41:53 GMT

Could you please tell me how high temp. foundry bricks are cut down in size? Do you use a circular saw and concrete blade or a brick chisel please advise as to what is the right way, also i purchased a inswool refactory insulation blanket to line my propane forge will the intough spray that consists of colloidal silica & ethylene glycol purchased thru a.p. green industries (rigidizer for the insulation) be all i need on the wool and bricks or do i need to purchase a heat reflector spray (ITC 100) as well?

Jerome Wheeler -- jwheels at Wednesday, 12/22/99 01:41:35 GMT

Thank you for the information on the forge on 12/19/99. I did not understand where to look in the ABANA edition of the news nor the AFC. Can you clarify this. I will check out the Blacksmith's Journal.
I have another question. I am preparing to set up a new shop. What is the best kind of floor? How should my anvil and forge be positioned. Are there plans available for shops? Thanks again for being here to provide help to we novices.

eel -- bcook at Wednesday, 12/22/99 03:11:17 GMT

EEL: "See the last page of our ABANA edition of the news. . .

Every shop is different dependant on how much space you have. One thing everyone agrees on is that the anvil should be relatively close to the forge. You should be able to do a piroet (sp) on one foot and get from forge to anvil. Remebering that you will be holding a long piece of work with or without tongs. Your anvil stand normaly just sits on the floor so you can adjust it as needed. A vise and power hammer (if you have one) should be the same distances.

The late Francis Whitaker insisted on dirt/clay floors in blacksmith shops. I prefer concrete for ease of moving and installing equipment (try sliding a 1,500 pound bench in the dirt). However, dirt or fine gravel IS easier on the feet. In my shop the area in front of the garage door is concrete. The area around the forge is also concrete but it is sunken so that 8" (200mm) of sand/gravel fill can be put in.
For layouts/plans see the M.T. Richardson book mentioned a few posts up.

-- guru Wednesday, 12/22/99 03:57:03 GMT

REFRACTORY BRICK: Jerome, High alumina refractory is just one step from being as hard as saphire, they are made of the same stuff. . . I expect you need a diamond blade and coolant. It would be cheaper to buy "split" bricks (really molded half thickness). If you need half bricks they break pretty easily but not too straight. In refractory brick they also make, halves, doubles, arch, corner, bolt, double bolt . . .

You don't use the rigidizer on the bricks just the kaowool. The ITC-100 just adds some efficiency but is not necessary.

-- guru Wednesday, 12/22/99 04:27:55 GMT

Hello, my name is jonathan pruessner and I have found a little giant 25 pound trip hammer which needs a few parts. Is there a catalog available with a schematic so I could order or fabricate the parts I need? Any information would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

jonathan pruessner -- jonathan-pruessner at Wednesday, 12/22/99 14:04:46 GMT


I'm not going to dis-agree with the guru, but I will offer the following, based on my own experience.

I frequently cut brick, and fire brick, using a masonry blade in my power miter box. I've also done it using a masonry blade in my "skil" saw. Just work slow, don't try to rush the saw.

I've sometims "carved" fire brick, by turning on the miter box and taping the switch on. Then shape the brick against the spinning masonry blad. This is NOT reccommended unless you are THOROUGHLY familiar with your saw!

Be sure to wear eye protection, and a dust mask would be a darn good idea as well.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/22/99 14:25:18 GMT

LITTLE GIANT PARTS: Jonathan, Go to our Power hammer Page, click on manufacturers list.. . Sid Suedemier's address and phone are there. Be SURE to tell Sid I sent you!

-- guru Wednesday, 12/22/99 14:52:13 GMT

any tecniques on making arrow heads
i dont really read too much about the instinctive bow mags
wondered if you had any sugestions

chris lee -- tree_child at Wednesday, 12/22/99 21:29:06 GMT

Do you know a source for fireplace mesh or screen? I am having trouble finding a supplier. Thanks,

Rick -- ddanis at Wednesday, 12/22/99 22:49:31 GMT

Rick, Try looking up Cascade Coil. They make the curtain type. Tell them your a blacksmith becouse their wholesale I think. For the regular screen type, McMaster-Carr is where I'd go. If you need more help give a holler and I'll see what I can do.

Pete -- Ravnstudio at Wednesday, 12/22/99 22:59:17 GMT


guru Thursday, 12/23/99 04:38:24 GMT

Where can i get an anvil?? (Used is fine)

Samantha -- slazar at Thursday, 12/23/99 15:32:26 GMT

Samantha, Three of our advertisers sell new anvils and one sells both new and used. Kayne & Son, Centaur Forge and Wallace Metal Works are Peddinghaus dealers. Centaur and Kayne sell other brands too. Wallace sells a LOT of used anvils.

One of the best ways to find an anvil is to join your local ABANA chapter and go to a metting or two. There are always "tailgaters" there and they often have several anvils. Read our articles on the 21st Century page about anvils before you buy used and ask for advise from someone that knows if you buy one at a meet or Hammer-In.

My buddy Bruce Wallace will NOT sell you a bad anvil. Ask what he's got.

-- guru Thursday, 12/23/99 17:49:34 GMT

Guru, I am looking for plans for a treadle hammer.Do you know of any sites that might have plans for a treadle hammer?

Henry -- hgeiger at Thursday, 12/23/99 22:51:07 GMT

Hi, I'm 14 and got interested in blacksmithing in the adirondaks witha man named William Umber. I live in New York City and was wondering if I could turna gas grill into a workable forge. I also need to find a used anvil. Thanx and merry Christmas

Jacob Itzkowitz -- Itsky854 at Thursday, 12/23/99 23:45:35 GMT

any plans or drawing on how to build a power hammer would be greatly appreciate. I do custom sheet metal fab on cars.My shop is called Kilger's custom metal. It is in SanBerndino ca. 101 w benedict st #18Thanks alot. mike

mike cross the street -- lyncashen at Thursday, 12/23/99 23:46:21 GMT

GAS GRILL FORGE: Jacob, No, I'm afraid not. About the only part that might be reusable is the regulator and hose. And THOSE will only supply enough fuel for a very small forge - about 8" x 8" x 8" (200x200x200mm). Check the Ron Reil page for gas forge plans. You can also buy a small forge from any of our advertisers. Here is a review of one: Whisper Momma

One of the world's best anvil's was manufactured in Brooklyn by Hay-Budden. There are still a lot of machinery dealers in that area of the city.

-- guru Friday, 12/24/99 01:30:06 GMT

what is the meaning of metal stamp 585---on a white earing

sherri -- dove 199900 Friday, 12/24/99 01:56:42 GMT

Guru, and all,

Next couple of days are going to be heavily family, with kids of all ages stopping by. So I may not be around as much as usual. So just in case I don't get back in time;

Thanks to all of you for a good year. The guys and gals that hang out at Anvilfire are a great bunch of folks. There've been some difficult times this year, and all of you have helped make them bearable.

If you don't have an Anvilfire hat yet, think REAL seriously about ordering one. I've worn mine out about three times so far and had nice compliments every time. This is a CLASS product, and worth every penny the guru is asking for it. I may have to get another one, just to make sure that I have a clean one at all times.

Jock, you're a good friend. I'm glad we met.


Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 12/24/99 03:41:51 GMT

I hope that all Have a great Christmas and a great New Year!

Guru, I really like what you have done with the site for the Christmas season!

ralph -- ralphd at Friday, 12/24/99 05:36:23 GMT

Jock, the yule decor looks terrific! Many thanks for all your help in the past year, and all your hard work on Anvilfire. All best wishes to you and yours, your assistants and all fellow smiths out there in the cyberforge for the merriest of Christmases-- and the happiest of New Years-- yet!

John Neary -- jneary at Friday, 12/24/99 06:04:08 GMT

Merry Christmas Paw Paw thanks for the help will send pitures of the monster anvil soon Happy New Year James Wolfe

wolfe -- jwolfe at Friday, 12/24/99 06:46:32 GMT! makes NY Times December 22, 1999!
Read about it in the anvilfire! NEWS

-- guru Friday, 12/24/99 09:57:26 GMT

Is it worth getting the open end doors on the Wisper Mama?

Roger -- rlscriven Friday, 12/24/99 15:29:39 GMT

Roger, It depends on the kind of work you do. A majority of the smaller forges were designed for farriers and for portability. The open end doors are a modification for knife makers and decorative smiths who need long heats. However, long WORK, can be put in through the notch in the front door and out the small "hatch" in the back. If you are makeing small hardware you could live without the end doors.

Snowing in central Virginia this Christmas Eve.

The Whisper Momma can be gotten with either one or two small metal end doors. There is also a knifemakers model that has two full end doors that are insulated.

-- guru Friday, 12/24/99 15:47:21 GMT

Thanx all of you for ur help, Merry Christmas, and a happy new year. I hope to be doing a demonstration soon. With your help, I may be setting up a shop in the new millenium, thanx again, !

Thors Apprentice (Jacob) -- Itsky854 at Friday, 12/24/99 15:57:09 GMT

I am one of the bright eyed teenagers with a question about blowers. I am wanting to build an electric powered propane blower and am looking at different designs. i am curious to see what designs are out there, so sending a reply with information on the different designs available, or even just a link to another page, would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Til Tullis -- kc7jfe at Friday, 12/24/99 17:10:17 GMT

BLOWER: Til, Look on our plans page (home, plans). The blower/burner there is primitive but is what is really used on many forges! We also have articles on our 21st Century page. Just be careful.

-- guru Friday, 12/24/99 17:37:37 GMT


You've in-advertently mixed up the Whisper Momma and the Whisper Baby.

The Whisper Momma has stock ports on each end of the fire box, but it does not have a stock door on the back of the fire box, opposite the main door.

The Whisper Baby has a stock door on the back of the fire box, opposite the main door, but no stock ports on the ends.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 12/24/99 23:36:39 GMT

Guru greetings from Australia was wondering if u could give me some info about copper plating at home, and any other sites on the web that I may be able to acces: ie how to do it ? Would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Yours in the Xmas cheer and all that have a good one and bye for now

Pamela Woodrow -- pamelaww at Saturday, 12/25/99 00:24:58 GMT

How does one build a gas forge? Or where would I find something that could help?

Barb -- reamb at Saturday, 12/25/99 02:11:29 GMT

Barb, Look on our plans page (home, plans). Tonight, being Christmas I put links to all our gas forge resources on that page, just for you!

Let me know if you have any questions.

-- guru Saturday, 12/25/99 03:40:44 GMT

Pamela, Most copper plating starts with a simple copper sulphate solution and clean iron/steel. Just dip it in and you get a copper "flash". This is also the starting point for other plating processes as the copper has a great affinity for the iron.

After that it gets more complicated and I'm not an expert on plating. We can research it if you need to know more than the following.

Needless to say the "flash" is an almost transparent coating. For a heavier plate you need a DC power supply (transformer and rectifier), plating tanks, acid and copper electrodes. Plating tanks can be heavy glass, ceramic or an acid resistant plastic.

The acid used with copper most often is sulphuric acid. It is used in a diluted solution. Be sure to add acid to water and not the reverse. Quite a bit of heat is liberated and doing the reverse (water to acid) can be dangerous. Car batteries use sulphuric acid.

The copper electrodes are big pieces of copper bar. The bar is disolved by the acid and the DC current (electrolytic action) and deposited on the part being plated.

The tanks need to be non-metalic because a metal tank would become part of the process, either becoming plated, or being comsumed and plating the part.

The process can be done on a very small scale using batteries or a toy DC power supply. As the size of the parts go up the power supply increases to the point that a small DC welder would make a good power supply.

When finished with the process you are left with acid waste (cuprous acid waste). A significant culprit in many fish kills. Something to consider. . .

-- guru Saturday, 12/25/99 03:56:31 GMT

Jim, are you SURE I didn't order that forge with the doors "extra"?

-- guru Saturday, 12/25/99 03:57:21 GMT


OK, you got me. The Whisper Momma comes in two different models. One model has the bar stock door in the rear, and the other madel has the stock ports on either end of the forge. I had to look it up in the Centaur catalog to be sure.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 12/25/99 13:52:19 GMT

NEWS Vol.16, p.14 NY Times article As originally posted this story had one paragraph left out. It was a bad editing decision made in the wee hours of the night (4:30am). It has since been repaired.

-- guru Saturday, 12/25/99 17:13:31 GMT

Hi there, I was just reading the wrought iron link from a few weeks ago and was wondering, when approximately did building materials switch from wrought iron to steel? Every so often they take down old places near me, and I'd like to know when they may be worth checking out for wrought iron scrap. I'm in north Georgia if that makes a difference. Also, without spark testing or cutting or looking at rusted ends, how could I tell if a piece was wrought or steel?

Michael Matthews -- mmatthew at Saturday, 12/25/99 19:07:14 GMT

Where can I find heat tamping for masonary stone hammers in Pennsylvania ?

jim -- debbob. at Sunday, 12/26/99 03:36:29 GMT


jim -- de Sunday, 12/26/99 03:41:25 GMT

Thanks for a great year and a great learning experience. You have all been great teachers and friends. I never would have gotten this far without you. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

emerys -- mllo at Sunday, 12/26/99 03:42:06 GMT

How can I obtain information on how to heat tamp masonary stone hammers?

jim -- Sunday, 12/26/99 03:43:07 GMT

WROUGHT IRON: Michael, Bessemer process steel was replacing most structurals by the 1860's, however there was resistance to the new product and a lot of wrought was used through the early 1900's.

Shape is one way to tell. Old wrought iron tension bars were often made of rectangular bar with tear dropped shaped loops on the end. These were forge welded. Round tensionion bars were the same. Both are a design used in wrought iron on bridges and in hybrid wood/steel trusses.

-- guru Sunday, 12/26/99 03:52:11 GMT

TEMPERING STONE HAMMERS: Bruce Wallace curently dresses and tempers stone hammers. He's near Reading, PA.

-- guru Sunday, 12/26/99 03:53:51 GMT

I am looking for a good book written in "layman's terms" for building a propane fired forge. I have limited metalworking experience but wood like to find a way to cheaply heat metal for making simple iron accesories for my early nineteenth century home.

Rick White -- whiterk at Sunday, 12/26/99 14:15:08 GMT

Sorry for the inconvenience, but I too am interested in blacksmithing. The only problem is that I live in a city, and a mobilhome so setting a shop is a little impossible to do all the things I want.
But, with that said, chain and ring mail seem to be the thing for me. I want to ask where I get started, the tools I would need, and patterns to learn.

Tony -- Dingo812 at Sunday, 12/26/99 16:00:57 GMT


I'm found of ancient hammer (XIXe' martinets) and I made a site about it and water wheels, I'm looking for a picture showing a Bradley's - Fenwick hammer. Do you have it please ?

Happy New Year !

from Savoie, France

mailto:ertemys at at

Une de mes passions :

Robert Girard -- ertemys at Sunday, 12/26/99 16:26:23 GMT

looking for info re maintence of inserted tooth headsaw,especially hammering of blade as it is loose at the rim and needs more tension as it wobbles at rated speed and saw cut is not smooth.saw shaft is within 3 th in the middle and collers and nut are machined flat.

don w kotyk -- don.kotyk at Sunday, 12/26/99 16:56:44 GMT

GAS FORGE: Rick, Ask Centaur Forge for Kerns, Building the Gas Forge and Foundry. I haven't seen it but Kerns is a capable writer. You can also find information on the web. Go to our plans page and check the "Simple Gas Burner" article. It has a list of links to information here and on other pages.

-- guru Sunday, 12/26/99 23:18:27 GMT

SMALL SPACE: Tony, No inconvienience, that's what we are here for.

Blacksmithing can be carried out in a very small space, however I do not recommend it in a mobile home. At least not in the winter. Many of us have had small outdoor shops and have turned out a great deal of work that way. A deck, patio or balcolny can be used for a small forge shop.

In a close neighborhood I highly recommend a gas forge such a the NC-TOOL Whisper-Baby. It is small and light enough to setup and put away every day. These small atomospheric (without fans) forges are very quiet. Your neighbors won't know it from a gas-grill.

Mail work can be done mostly cold. However, it does help to be able to anneal the wire. This can be done with a propane torch but a bean-can or micro-forge.

Rings for mail are bent around a "mandrel" which is a simple steel bar. You wind the rings then remove them from the mandrel and cut them off the coil. This can be done with heavy compound leverage bolt cutters or a hack saw. First class mail had the rings rivited or "braded" together. The ends are flatened, closed, looped, drilled or punched and then rivited with a very small rivit.

The minimum tools you will need are:
  • Bench vise (the bigger the better) mounted on a sturdy bench
  • A small anvil. This is one of the cases a length of R-R track is suitable.
  • Small Drill Press (for building jigs, drilling rings)
  • Hammers (ball pien, riviting)
  • Hack Saw
  • Pliers and cutters of different types
  • Propane torch (and optional micro forge body)
There are instructions available at the various armor web sites OR Centaur Forge has a book on the subject.

-- guru Sunday, 12/26/99 23:50:07 GMT

Paw Paw A Kasenit source is MSC supply at # 800 645 7270.Part #00263012 at $10.55 per lb. Be sure to ask for their free 4000 page catalog. EVerything i ever used it on cracked, please fill me in on the fine points.

John Buchtenkirch -- www.metalmagic at webtv.netPaw Monday, 12/27/99 06:14:30 GMT

can anybody tell me anything about the italian style anvils tht Nimba forge manufactures and are advertised periodically in "NOMMAS" Fabricator thank you Kinzeal Thompson

kinzea l thompson -- kinz at Monday, 12/27/99 07:12:24 GMT


I've got MSC's catalog. They're now sending out the catalog and including a CD ROM version, as well.

I'll make note of the part number for Kasenite, but if it's cracking things for you, sounds like you working the steel too hot and/or quenching it too severly.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 12/27/99 14:22:27 GMT

CASE HARDENING: John, You may be using it for the wrong applications. If the part cracked in use it is because you have distorted the core. If is cracked while quenching is is because you applied it to a high carbon steel or applied too sever a quench.

Case hardening produces a hard wear resistant outer surface on a softer ductile core. It does not produce a through hardened tool steel part. On small parts the 1/32-1/64" (1-.5mm) or so layer can be a significant portion of the part. Small gun parts such as screws, triggers and frizzens are often case hardened. However, on larger parts the case is the same thickness and only provides wear resistance, not increased strength.

Certain steels are listed as case-hardenable. Others are not and certain alloy steels may be damaged by the process.

-- guru Monday, 12/27/99 14:47:36 GMT

My wife surprised my this christmas with an old forge that had belonged to my grandfather. It is a model 210 by the Buffalo Forge Company of Buffalo, NY. It is portable with a rotary blower. Can you offer advice for restoration?

jeff fogel -- onehorse at Monday, 12/27/99 15:32:42 GMT

My wife surprised my this christmas with an old forge that had belonged to my grandfather. It is a model 210 by the Buffalo Forge Company of Buffalo, NY. It is portable with a rotary blower. Can you offer advice for restoration?

jeff fogel -- onehorse at Monday, 12/27/99 15:44:13 GMT

My husband and his friend recently built a forge out of an old lawnmower with a shopvac providing the air supply through a pipe. it works great; he made a bunch of stuff as Christmas presents including candleholders, 2 bracelets and a door knocker for me. Now the questions are: Are there any resources for buying _used_ anvils *not* over the internet? Also, any resources for scrap metal suppliers in New Jersey? Thanks, and happy new year.

v. stamper -- vesperlamb at Monday, 12/27/99 16:29:30 GMT

USED ANVILS: V., Why NOT over the internet? :o) Bruce Wallace is over near Reading PA and has a phone 610-756-3377.

Your next best bet is to join the New Jersey Blacksmiths Association and go to some of their meetings. You don't HAVE to join to go to meetings but you should. There will almost always be someone there selling anvils and used equipment.

President: David Macauley
4 Patricia Ct.
Howell NJ 07731
(732) 206-1568
e-mail: drmacauley at

Editor: Larry Brown
90 Williams Ave,
Staten Island, NY 10308
email: lnbrown at
web site:

These guys will also know a bunch of places to get new and used materials and tools.

-- guru Monday, 12/27/99 16:52:05 GMT

V., I struck out the NJ website (after posting a hot link) because it took you to their ISP and NOT their page. I could not find their page.

-- guru Monday, 12/27/99 17:06:51 GMT

OLD FORGE: Jeff, clean the rust and paint it. Keep oil in the blower. Once the gears are worn out they are worthless. They leak oil like crazy so you have to keep up with it (like an old car. . .).

You said "portable" which I suspect means it has a sheet metal pan. These rust out VERY fast if left outdoors with coal ash in them. Keep repainting with BB-Q black, and store (without ashes) in a dry location.

-- guru Monday, 12/27/99 17:11:57 GMT

To kinzea l thompson,
re Nimba Forge anvils..
I have the 450pd Gladiator anvil and it is GREAT. the flat horn is great for putting in rivits in side things.. (helms). the large block for the center part of the anvil is very stable. Large surface to work on. I go the last of the "old" methode for heat treat. The new methode
makes a harder surface.
For info look at
nimba at
Satisfied customer.

Nicholas -- marceljan at Monday, 12/27/99 18:16:33 GMT

DON KOTYK I have seen no answers to your posted question yet. If you do not get an answer e mail me at the address above and I know someone who can and will give you some help.

John L. -- lecount at Monday, 12/27/99 19:05:48 GMT

Anybody out there (Atli?)got any good dravings and messures, especially cross-sections, from halberds, katzbalgers and pike-heads from the early 16:th century? I mean the real museum stuff, not fantasy.

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Monday, 12/27/99 19:47:20 GMT

John L., Saw blade tensioning is out of my realm. I know it is done and that's about it. If you have a source you had best send it to Don.

-- guru Monday, 12/27/99 20:05:55 GMT

where can i find a blacksmith that custom makes barstools in
tenn. or the southeast.

chuck z. -- chuckzarecor at Monday, 12/27/99 20:28:15 GMT

where can i find a blacksmith that custom makes barstools in
tenn. or the southeast.

chuck z. -- chuckzarecor at Monday, 12/27/99 20:29:43 GMT

NIMBA FORGE: Ah. . THOSE ANVILS! I've never used one put I know a fellow that swears by his. The ones I've seen were as well finished as the ones on their page and in their literature, which is a lot more than can be said of other some other modern manufacturers.

-- guru Monday, 12/27/99 21:15:33 GMT

I was doing a forge weld on tool steel the other day. Both pieces white hot in a reducing fire,the metal just below sparking heat. Instead of the usual sound with the first blow (3 lb hammer) I heard this loud bang- almost like a pistol shot. I have never heard this before. What did it represent?


Frank Biscardi -- tropifiori at Tuesday, 12/28/99 02:32:24 GMT

Guru, just wanted to clear this up, got mixed respnses in the pub. For a break-drum forge, could I use a truck brake drum instead of a car's or would it be too big of a firepot?

Thors Apprentice -- Itsky854 at Tuesday, 12/28/99 02:50:53 GMT

I am a custom knifemaker in the KCMO area. I specialize in Damascus blades. I have been making Damascus for a number of years, but cannot find an answer to this: what is the temperature (in fahrenhite)to acheive a weld? I know the color, but what's the temperature? I know this should be basic knowledge, but I'll be damned if I can find it|!
Appreciate your help,

Clayton Morris
Claymore Custom Cutlery

Clayton Morris -- cmclaymore at Tuesday, 12/28/99 03:29:06 GMT

Olle; Halberds, etc.:

Good pictures aren't too hard to come by; pictures with a key dimension or scale are harder, pictures and drawings with more than one view or dimension are usually dug out of museums. Let me do a little digging myself and get back to you. The good news is that with so much variety at this period, you're really looking for general rules of thumb instead of exact duplication. (However, exact replication is painstaking, irritating, difficult and wonderful when you get it right.)

Frank; Big Bang:

Did you have any water on the anvil from another operation? I've had this happen when welding after another piece that had been quenched left water dripped on the anvil. Really startles my friends. Japanese smiths purportedly wet the anvil and do this on purpose. It's supposed to be good at blasting away scale. Then again, it may be something else entirely, so I'll leave it to the rest of the crew.

A few flakes of snow fell on the banks of the lower Potomac. Back to work tomorrow.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking: (cASE Sensitive)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Tuesday, 12/28/99 03:42:40 GMT

LOUD WELD: Frank, the only time I've had that happen is when the anvil was wet. You may have had some fuel trapped in the joint. . .

FIREPOT: T.A., Some truck brake drums are too deep (+12"). I've SEEN forges built from them but the guys building them were just trying to get rid of some old brake drums. . About 6" deep is the max. After that you are going to need to notch the sides OR fill the bottom. The rear drum off a big old full sized North American Cruiser is best.

WELDING TEMPERATURE: Clayton, It varies with the iron/steel. The higher the carbon the lower the temperature. Wrought iron welds at close to 1480C / 2700F. High carbon steel is as low as 1176.67C / 2150F. You weld at the lower temperature of the two metals. This range is why knife makers can do great work in a gas forge but decorative iron workers have a hard time.

ABANA has a Tempil(tm) chart on their web site and we are working on a dynamic one. . Check it out.

-- guru Tuesday, 12/28/99 03:56:31 GMT

Have completed a gate for a Winery in Napa Ca. this is the first exterior ironwork that I have done. Question : What is the best finish for protection outdoors. Polyurethane? epoxy? or enamel. The gate has a rectangular welded frame with grape vines, leaves, and grape clusters forged. Would like to clear coat the vines, leaves and grapes and paint the gate flat black. The problem is adhesion of the clear coat to the polished areas of the vines, also, I don't want the entire vine to have a "glossy" finish but would like to be able to control this effect. Is an automotive Lacquer a possibility? I talked with a paint specialist and he remembered years ago there was a "rubbing agent" that could be applied to "remove the glossy appearance in specific areas but didn't know if this was still available. Your thoughts are most welcome, Thanks, Tim Cisneros

Tim Cisneros -- blacksmith at Tuesday, 12/28/99 03:57:50 GMT

Tim, please read my article on our 21st Century page on corrosion and the one on paint. After sandblasting and dual priming you may use any finish you please as a top coat as long as it it weather resistant and color fast. Automotive laquers are the best thing you can use but NEVER over bare metal. Yeah, I know, EVERYONE does it. Well, they are ALL wrong.

Paint lasts 10 years or more on an automobile because of the surface preparation. It is cleaned (scale free) and phoshated. Then primed and then a top coat.

Once the gate has a good overall finish then you can hand paint with artist colors if you with. Laquers can be applied with a rag if REALLY slow thinner is used. Small spray guns work well. Getting rid of gloss with clear laquer is NOT a problem. Just apply from a little too far away or with too much air in the air/paint mix and it will be dead flat.

Gloss can be removed with fine sandpaper and/or coarse rubbing compound. As mentioned above, it is easier to produce a flat finish in laquer than a glossy one. Experiment on your samples or left overs before doing the whole gate.

We would love to see a picture of your gate when it is finished!

-- guru Tuesday, 12/28/99 04:51:58 GMT

Guru, Got the hat. Looks great and wears well!

Hey guys this is a completely unsoliceted(sp?) plug, but these are really nice hats. Get one while they last.

Well one step closer to my gas forge. Got the burner assembly working sorta. I need to fasten every thing down and fine tune it but is does burn outside the forge quite well. Tomorrow the insulation, then the day after the world! (grin)

ralph -- ralphd at Tuesday, 12/28/99 05:40:55 GMT

This seems all backwards Guru. Aint you supposed to pay us to wear these hats? The foreheads of us highly regarded professional smiths must constitute invaluable advertising space....Right?

Pete Fels -- artgawk at Tuesday, 12/28/99 08:38:45 GMT


I'd guess that that would depend on how high the forehead is, wouldn't it? (grin) Those of us with full heads of hair shouldn't be penalized just because we don't have as much advertizing space as some of our less well endowed brethern. But I've been told that God only made so many perfect heads, the rest he covered with hair, so who am I to say! (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 12/28/99 14:30:11 GMT

Jim: Well said! Was tempted to interject with my own reply. I couldn't have done it more diplomatically than you. I'm surprised the Guru sent me a hat and would let me wear it in public. This low regard considers it an honor

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Tuesday, 12/28/99 15:23:40 GMT

Tim, I edited out your blank messages. Feel free to try again.
ADVERTISING SPACE: Pete, As long as I'm still paying my way and paying to get into conferences so I can report on them (for you) then you guys are going to have to PAY for hats! :)

Now. . if that highly valuable advertising space of yours managed to get published in a national magazine or on TV (and it wasn't because of some crime you comitted), WEARING the hat, and its legible (smile for the camera) then I'll gladly pay you for the advertising space.

Even easier, IF you build and enter a JYH in the ABANA JYH Event you will be on the list for free hats, shirts and a whatever else we come up with!

NOTE: The JYH page is under construction and won't officialy be open until Friday.

-- guru Tuesday, 12/28/99 15:48:34 GMT

My father would like to be put on a mailing list for anvilfire. Do you have information that you send through the mail? Catalogs? etc.
His address is James Medlen, 515 Plum Street, Mt. Carmel, IL 62863.
Please contact me either way. Thanks, Tam

Tamara Malmberg -- douvw2 at Tuesday, 12/28/99 16:47:29 GMT

Junk Yard Hammers,

You guys better get started! I started building the frame for mine yesterday. I'd hate to win the contest by defualt, but I *DO* intend to win! (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 12/28/99 16:59:17 GMT

Tamara, I'm sorry, anvilfire is one of those new-fangled e-zines. We are only on the Internet and not in print.

-- guru Tuesday, 12/28/99 17:26:50 GMT

Apreciate you digging some. As you say, pictures no problem. Older archeological works often include beautiful dravings including cross-sections, but the only plans for rennaisance-weapons existing in this country seems to be the ones Ive made myself from museum pieces. I will make more, but it includes a lot of travel.

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Tuesday, 12/28/99 20:03:30 GMT

I recently picked up a 171LB anvil (stamped 1 2 3) Other side was stamped "J Powelt Late Hill Firmm" Does this give me any clue to age or manufacturer)

Andy -- ashaiman at, Tuesday, 12/28/99 22:50:51 GMT

Hi there,I'm just writing this incase it is of help to anyone I am new to Blacksmithing myself and i am slowly geting my smithy set-up,what I have done with my anvil (a new O'dwyer,I'm not sure where they are made but it rings like a bell and has very good rebound about 230lb)anyway I have mounted it on a iron bark stump which I got from an old bridge that had been pulled down it is roughly 80 years old,hard as and still looks as good as the day it was first cut,it sits on a concrete floor and I have made 3 heavy angle iron brackets which are dynobolted to the floor and large coach bolts to the stump,solid as a rock,as for positioning I have set the anvil so when I stand at the forge I only have to turn my head 90degrees and I can see if anything is in the way and that things I want to use are ready hammer,etc and only a 90 degree turn and 1 step and I'm standing at the anvil,and for height it is set so that when I stand side on to the anvil with my arm straight down beside me and with a closed fist my knuckles just skim the face of the anvil.I hope that helps someone,and all the best for the new year.

Dean McCasker -- conure01 at Tuesday, 12/28/99 23:35:24 GMT

ANVIL: Andy, The 123 is the weight in hundred weights, quarters and pounds (old English System).

112 + (2 * 28) + 3 = 171

I looked in Richard Postman's Anvils in America and found nothing under any of the words given. Many anvils were sold under "branded" names so it could have been any number of manufacturers. Its shape will give away its age to a degree and many of us can tell a Fisher from a Hay-Budden at 100 yards! I picture would help.

-- guru Tuesday, 12/28/99 23:38:04 GMT

Dean, There is nothing wrong with bolting down an anvil. However, most of us just set or clamp them on a stand. It is common to need to reposition the anvil for long or odd shaped work. When doing very small work (and in the winter) I scoot the anvil closer to the forge. When heating heavy objects and in the summer I like a little more distance. All these adjustments take place in about a 1 yd (.9m) circle.

-- guru Tuesday, 12/28/99 23:42:07 GMT

Have a clue as to where I can find a vice/anvil in Hawaii or from a discount mail order source or a mega-store that might have a branch here? Hawaii is great but good luck finding tools here! I already checked Sears tool catalogue. I am a professional handyman looking for a general purpose metalworking platform

Eddie -- halau at Wednesday, 12/29/99 01:02:58 GMT


First things first. Don't fall for the Harbor Freight, Northern Hydraulic anvils. They're cast iron, they make good door stops and fair boat anchors, but they're not much of an anvil.

How large an anvil do you need? Several of the suppliers here at Anvilfire sell anvils. Centaur Forge does, so does Steve Kayne & Son. Bruce Wallace of Wallace Metalworks sells both new and used anvils. Shipping may be your biggest expense.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 12/29/99 02:33:55 GMT

Eddie: You might try in Hawaii "Kipu Forge" at--shanks at or David Holmes-Smith at--david at for local blacksmith tool information.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 12/29/99 04:37:25 GMT


Tim Cisneros -- blacksmith at Wednesday, 12/29/99 05:54:08 GMT

Jock, Against your advise I purchased equipment to apply an automotive acrylic lacquer to the ironwork on my gate. I know, you told me not to but I had to try anyway. For the price it should last throught he next milleneum, I'll let you know how it works and send you some pictures. Tim

Tim Cisneros -- blacksmith at Wednesday, 12/29/99 05:58:15 GMT

Tim, I'm just trying to save you from future complaints about rust.

-- guru Wednesday, 12/29/99 06:11:46 GMT

Guru,Thank's for the information,I honestly had not thought of having to move the anvil I will now make a portable stand for my anvil so I can move it from my beloved stump if I have to and back if I have to.While I'm here could you please tell me if coil springs from trucks or cars would be suitable for making chisels and punches and if so what tempering colours(please fogive my spelling of colour as I am a mear colonial from down under)would be suitable,I also have a faithfull hound that sits by the anvil,I had to make him a leather coat to prtect him,I recon he would swing a hammer if he could,come to think of it a striker would be handy!!!

Dean -- conure01 at Wednesday, 12/29/99 14:03:23 GMT

Dean, I've seen more than ONE dog that insisted in sleeping in front of forge or anvil. Watched Ingrid Greenwood's Dalmation walk between Josh's legs more than once WHILE he was running a power hammer! I had an Old English Sheep Dog that always wanted to lay under my feet while I was welding. I was always afraid he would catch fire or get arc blinded. #10 shade goggle's for your best friend?

Old spings make fine chisels and punches. It is best to oil quench. Be sure not to overheat. Use a magnet to check for hardening temperature (steel becomes non-magnetic just a little below the hardening temperature for most steels). Temper colors only apply to non-alloy steels. When using "found" metals you need to test each sample. Forge it, quench it, temper at a low temperature first (about 450-500 F), test the hardness, draw the temper some more. If it doesn't harden well try a water quench instead of oil. Heavy parts may need a water quench to cool the interior at a fast enough rate.

-- guru Wednesday, 12/29/99 16:06:34 GMT

Several folks have recommended that I line my homemade forge with "mud". I'm assuming they mean refractory cement of some sort, but maybe they really mean mud, like the clay from my garden. Can you advise me on the best material to use, and suggest dimensions? The forge was fabricated by me from a salvaged trailer wheel, and is about 24" across and 5" deep. It has 1/4" plate welded to the bottom, with a 3" hole in the center. Underneath, it has a 3" flange, a T, and a cap for the air supply and ash cleanout. I'm picturing shaping the "mud" into a firepot, but could really use some advice. Thanks.

Deborah Amaral -- amarda at Thursday, 12/30/99 04:09:35 GMT

I have a design that requires a lot of tapered pieces. Basically a flat bar that is drawn out to almost a point. For example a 1.25" wide x .1875" thick bar that would be drawn out to .25" wide. If the completed tapered piece needs to be 17.75" what should be the length of the original bar?
Is there some formula, table or "rule of thumb" for determining this?
Thanks in advance,

Andrew Samek -- asamek at Thursday, 12/30/99 04:45:26 GMT

Deborah, I do not general reccomend claying forges. However, good sticky red clay given a lot of time to dry works. Steel coal forges do not particularly need refractory clays. Refractories you can add to a clay/portland cement mixture:
  • Finely broken up red brick OR fire brick
  • Vermiculite
  • Talc
  • Silica Sand
Mix your clay with about 50% SacCrete Mortar mix and 10% vermiculite. After is hardens be sure to let it dry for a week or more. . . Then build small fires at first.

-- guru Thursday, 12/30/99 05:53:14 GMT

Andrew, A pyramidal shape is 1/3 the volume of a rectanglular shape of the same dimensions. If you draw the shape to a point in both dimensions and the taper is continous then you need 1/3 the final length + 2% of the volume for loss to scale (35%).

If you were to taper the part in only ONE dimension then the length only doubles instead of tripling. So, you need somewhere between 35% and 50% of the final length. Since there can be considerable variation in final forged shape it will require some trial and error within that range. Using a power hammer with big flat dies you will probably come close starting at 35% but if you are forging by hand it is more likely to be nearer the 50%.

-- guru Thursday, 12/30/99 06:06:06 GMT

I am an experienced spur and bit maker and need to find a source for a particular type of mild steel chain. It was used years ago as a rein chain on bits and is sometimes refred to as Etruscan or Loop-in-Loop chain.

Larry -- lstewart at Thursday, 12/30/99 16:37:38 GMT

just saying thanks for a great site

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Thursday, 12/30/99 17:29:59 GMT

Dear Guru and fine craftsmen,
I have quite a fondness for Samurai swords. I simply wish to know if there still exists a craftsman who could create a blade specifically for me. I understand that such labour is not cheap, however, if I cannot afford it at this time, I will retain the information untill such a time that I can afford such a fine example of talent and skill.
Thank you in advance,
J. Parker

J. Parker -- DPinnacle Wraith at Thursday, 12/30/99 22:55:45 GMT

In the U.S. there are a number of craftsmen making high art blades. Bill Fironi has gone through a great deal of effort to learn from Japanese masters. He can be contacted through ABANA

-- guru Friday, 12/31/99 00:14:29 GMT

Guru..Wishing you and all who visit this website a happy and prosperous New Year. Thank you so very much for making this place one of friendship, information and a passing of knowledge of this ancient craft. I'll be ordering one of them perty hats after the 1st. The things I have learned here alone are worth way more than the cost of the ball cap. Peace

Randall Guess -- rdguess at Friday, 12/31/99 01:08:04 GMT

J.Parker: You might also take a look at "" . It is a website for people who like swords. There are links to several sword makers there also.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 12/31/99 01:41:06 GMT

Thanks grandpa, I'll have to check that one out.

J.Parker, we have a link to on our links page.

Everyone join us for the first sunrise of the year 2000, net-cast from the South Pacific. Friday at 12:06pm Eastern Standard Time.


-- guru Friday, 12/31/99 05:24:30 GMT

i'm trying to fix up an old fisher anvil and i am having problems getting weld to stick to the body. i've tried two different types of nickel rod and preheating the anvil with no success. i've tried to find out more about what the body is made of and what icame up with is that it is made out of gun iron. can any body suggest a different rod or technique? any help will be greatly appreciated.

buck -- buckford at Friday, 12/31/99 14:44:58 GMT

Buck, You have a real tiger by the tail there. Fishers are cast iron with a tool steel face welded on IN-THE-MOLD. Bonding cast iron and steel in the mold was Fisher's patent process. Not only is this the only way to do it, it also requires special gating in the mold so that lots of hot metal flushes the surface making a clean tight joint.

Fisher's are an OK anvil when they are not broken but once the face starts to seperate then there is not much you can do.

-- guru Friday, 12/31/99 15:11:17 GMT

guru, thank you for the info, i can stop blowing money on nickel rods now. great site by the way. buck

buck -- buckford at Friday, 12/31/99 22:03:24 GMT

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