WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you. This is an archive of posts from December 8 - 15, 2000 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Metalworking Bug: ColdForge, Yes, once you get it, its hard to stop.

Hammers over 4 pounds are too big for general use when starting out. 2-1/2 to 3 pounds is a goal to work up to. Otherwise you are lible to hurt yourself. The face is going to be proportional to the mass of the hammer. I think a 10 pound sledge has a 3" face. Otherwise you need to look at sheet metal work or body hammers. These have large faces for smoothing sheet.

Everyone has an opinion on handle shapes. I use stock commercial handles. But I've been swinging a wide variety of hammers, axes, and mauls since I was very young. To me a hammer is a hammer is a hammer. . . . I'm not into the snobery of "name" hammers. The advantage to a stock handle is they all feel more or less alike.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 01:10:44 GMT

For about 8 months my very close cousin has been my apprentice. he has a few tools but i would like to buy 2 hammers and a pounding block(because i dont think im going to find another anvil) for christmas. I have about 10 different hammers handed down from sheet metal workers(its in the blood)theyre all such great tools but my favorite is a 24oz Hammer from the heller brothers company. i would like to get him one of these, however I cant remember seeing one like it before, the head is aprox 4 inches long mounted on wooden handle, the pounding surface is about 1.25 inches its two sided, but both sides are like the flat face side of a ball peen hammer.

I was wondering if you had a favorite hammer? Have you ever made a hammer head? and if so, I would like to make you an offer.
thx guru
ColdForge - Friday, 12/08/00 01:18:53 GMT

Last Night on the Banks of the Susquehanna:

My apologies to several of you for lack of followup. My free time and flexibility were sucked up by a concurrent crises in Washington. Damage control commences tomorrow afternoon in D.C. and I'll be back at Oakley tomorrow night, so I will start answering anything posted to my "asylum" address.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov
Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 12/08/00 02:36:04 GMT

Heller Tools: ColdForge, These are still available from commercial hardware suppliers. Custom hammers cost about $75-$100 from those that make them. I've got a nice #350 air hammer I need to get going before making hammers.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 03:22:32 GMT

Coldforge, Ignore the people with no compassion. Maybe it hit to close to home for someone. We all have problems to deal with, personally I have a wife, 2 kids, 5 horses, dog, cats etc. a full time job, and a head full of curisosity. Yes, sometimes it can be difficult to find time to do forging and knifemaking, but what time I do get can be rewarding beyond it's cost.
One of the first things I "forged" was a spear I made out of an aluminum rod back in the early seventies. I wish I still had it. I learned a lot about filing from that too.
Another metal that I worked with a lot back then was silver, it's not that expensive, but very easy to work with. Even if you screw it up, you can melt it down and start over.
One thing you might keep in mind is to anneal the aluminum or silver after working it for a while to keep it from cracking. Just heat it up pretty hot, and quench it in water.
You will find it will be a lot easier (and quieter) to work with that way.
I think the hammer you are describing might be a farriers hammer. I have one but one face has a slight crown on it. I don't use it much. I mostly use a cross or straight pein hammer for most of my thumbsmacking. I also have a couple of smaller and bigger hammers that I use a lot.
Also you might check out http://pub4.ezboard.com/ftheneotribalmetalsmithstribalnow
It's a forum dedicated to primative (read low investment) forging and metalwork. They are another great group of guys and very interested in helping new people.
Good luck in everything.
Moldy Jim

Moldy  <no thanks> - Friday, 12/08/00 04:21:34 GMT

sure, there's an easy way to do spiral stair top rails. use round stock. you hear? use round stock! get the pitch right. measure the distance from the front edge of one riser to the front edge of the next one. multiply that by the number of steps. measure from the floor to the next floor. draw a triangle: the riser-to-riser distance times the number of steps is the horizontal line, the floor-to-floor distance is the vertical. connect the lines with a hypotenuse line--that's your pitch, and it is also the length of your rail (but remember to add whatever your code requires in horizontal rail beyond top and bottom steps). Now make a semi-cylindrical jig the same diameter as the stair, and big enough to replicate two or three steps. weld on some bending pegs at the pitch you just determined. heat the stock and bend, heat by heat, into maybe six or eight-foot lengths. weld 'em together at the site. charge a bundle.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 05:08:07 GMT

Moldy and Cracked Anvil have been giving our good Guru some fine additional support of late....thanks to you both!
Cold Forge, youve got the heart for this and that is necessary, but you can save yourself years by reading all the good stuff about the art you can get a hold of. The nooks and crannies of anvilfire hold a pretty good start on a blacksmithing education alone...hit the library...get the paperback Weiger's Modern Blacksmith..and the bealer book.....etc...oh yes, check out the forge section here at anvilfire..there are some dinky apt. sized ones you can make....playing with fire is fun!
pete F - Friday, 12/08/00 09:19:11 GMT

Thx alot guys, New Mapp Gas Torch is great, once i get a few refractory bricks im going to make a forge to use with it and a normal propane torch.ill give u my plans when i have more time(2nd period almost over)
ColdForge - Friday, 12/08/00 14:08:50 GMT

Blast Furnace: Linda, if I may add to what the guru said, the lining also protects the furnace shell from chemical attack. This is more important in other furnaces (like glass melting) but applies to metal melting too. Different refractories are resistant to different chemicals. Flux, etc.
Tony  <tca_b at nospammilwpc.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 14:18:01 GMT

Guru, I've been using propane for my shop. The problem is because I am doing more continuous forging the tanks are freezing on me. I am thinking of going to a bigger tank(25 gallon) but figure I will probably have the same problem.. My new shop in January has natural gas piped in from a city line so the problem will go away after that. Will setting the tanks in water solve the problem? Thanks, TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 15:12:10 GMT

I am new here, have been reading you guys and have noticed that Alex W. Bealer's book The Art of Blacksmithing is a good reference. I regularly get a catalog from a book seller named Edward R. Hamilton, Falls Village CT. 060313-5000, which is also on the web at Edwardrhamilton.com. In the DO IT YOURSELF section he list Mr. Bealer's book for $9.95 Two columns over he lists a book titled "The Blacksmith:Ironworker and Farrier. Author is Aldren A. Watson. The discription is; Absorbing history of the roles of the blacksmith as hardware maker, farrier, and village handyman. Explanations of the methods for fullering, upsetting, and welding wrought iron, and suggestions for laying out a shop and constructing leather bellows and forge. Drawings, 171 pages, Norton, paperbound, pub. at 15.95, price $11.16 If you are a rabid Bealer fan and must have everything he wrote, in the PRICE CUT section there is this listed: Old ways of Working Wood, Revised Edition. Alex W. Bealer. Preserves techniques and historical information on woodworking methods. Covers such operations such as hewing, chiseling, and turning. 200 drawings, 255 pages, Castle. Price $5.95 Here is the best part. No matter what size your order is, you are only charged $3.00 shipping, one book or 100 books, three Bucks!!! I love this guy. Once you order a book or request a catalog, you will continue to get the catalogs about one a month forever.
Just thought you might like to know.
Mohave Jack of all trades.
Mohave Jack  <jsmith11 at mail.win.org> - Friday, 12/08/00 15:33:06 GMT

Question for Cracked Anvil, In your post above you mention "building a semi-cylindrical jig". Is the diameter found "on site" and with what measuring procedure? I assume you are looking for the apex of the circle to determine the raduis? Thanks, TC
Tim Cisneros  <blascksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 15:35:06 GMT

Gas shortage: Tim, Going to a bigger tank helps but it usualy takes a BIG tank. Look at the size tanks resturants use. And THEY most likely aren't drawing the BTU that you are. Ambient temperature makes a huge difference too.

The last bulk tank I had installed was based on an estimated 30,000 BTU furnace (a non-ferrous melter of about 10 pound capacity). The gas company put in a 150 gallon tank. My large forge runs more like 45,000 BTU and I'd quess would need a 200 gallon tank.

Setting your existing cylinders in a tank of water helps provide a larger heat sink. As the cylinders empty they will tend to float so you need to provide a hold down. In cold weather a cattle water tank heater will help keep the water from freezing and make the system last longer. DO NOT HEAT the tanks.

Be sure to check with the gas company at your new location. Natural gas is provided at very low pressure and the volume may not be enough for a forge. This is especialy true if the building is going to be heated by the same source.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 15:43:27 GMT

Spiral Jig: Tim, the radius can be approximated by taking the angle of the step across the dimeter of the circle and using the long axis as the jig radius. The rail can be bent on a tire bender to this radius. The problem with any flat fixture is that the curvature of a spiral rail is NOT flat. Also note that Cracked was talking about a round top rail. Round top rail can be twisted as it is extended into a spiral and it doesn't matter what the axis does. However, flat or special section top rail requires stretching to keep the axis in the correct orientation. The best sprial rail fixture is made by shaping a piece of angle into a segment of the spiral.

If the job is critical and has a lot of traditional joinery a 90 degree mock up should be built to test pieces on. This can be made of junk iron and scraps but needs to accurately represent the locations of parts or provide a method of fitting parts.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 16:03:28 GMT

lately, when i taper a piece to a fine point it tends to split. i wasn't having this problem until the real cold weather set in. i wonder if there's a connection. it gets very cold in my smithy. enough to freeze a ten inch slack tub solid (i now use brine to prevent this).
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Friday, 12/08/00 16:51:41 GMT

Re:Edward W. Hamilton book cat.
I just paged thru the latest copy during Lunch and found in the ART BOOK section the following"
The Contemporary Blacksmith by Dona Z. Meilach published at $49.95. Price $34.96
Arms and Armor in the Art Institute of Chicago. by Walter J. Karcheski Jr. Description: Presents numerous examples of fulland half armors, finely etched helmets, firearms with carved ivory stocks, and breastplates with gilded figures-includes paintings by such arists as Rembrandt and Ingres, along with drawings, woodcuts, and engravings. 103 color illus. 128 pages pub. at 35.00 Price $7.95
One last blast, for the VERY rich among you, try this:
Marks' Mechanical Engineers' Platinum Edition. This is the complete contents of Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechinical Engineers, Tenth Edition, in both print and electronic format. Defines every aspect of modern engineering from robotics to optical design. Includes a CD-Rom. 1792 pages, McGrawHill Published at $225.00 Price $146.95
Mohave Jack of all trades.
Mohave Jack  <jsmith11 at mail.win.org> - Friday, 12/08/00 18:04:12 GMT

Splits: Coondogger, Generaly this is a result of working too cold. In a cold shop the anvil and your hammers will be cold and tend to quickly cool that point. Wrap a heat tape around your anvil and keep your hammer in the house.

Old timers knew that their tools got brittle in cold weather so it was common to keep the axe in the house where is would stay warm.

Occasionaly a new batch of material may have a crack or cold shut in the center of the steel. Overworking points or flattening too much in one axis will often cause this problem too.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 18:06:30 GMT

Ah, finaly, study hall, now, i have seen plans for bean can forges and micro forges made by hollowing a fire brick. clearly the essential part is the refractory substances. am i to understand that the torch flame after entering the hole will spiral down the length of the hollowing?

thx gurus
ColdForge - Friday, 12/08/00 18:45:36 GMT

Tim, I had natural gas for 6 yrs before switching shops and having to go w/LP gas. I was freezing up tanks even in the summer. I went down to the local feed store and bought a wide, tall horse feed bucket. Thick rubber, built pretty good. I empty my tanks now. Before I wasn't. Now my shop is heated(for the first time) so I'm not sure this will work if yours isn't. You would just freeze the water real quick. Could try anti-freeze, but be careful if you like your animals. Critters think it tastes like kool-ade I've heard.
My tanks don't float, I only keep the water about 40% of the way up anyway. Seems to me that they only want to start freezing after they get half empty or less. btw, my local LP supplier is having old style tanks dumped on him and he gives them to me for free, sometimes full. This is because of a regulator change here in NJ. Is this happening elsewhere?
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 18:47:28 GMT

I could use some tips on bladesmithing, i bought 3 112" spikes or nails to work into blades or pointy spearhead type things, last night i found out that they're alot easier to pound into shape when theyre a happy red. But since Im being supervised by my father (he thinks he knows what to do) he makes sure that once its off the heat, i beat it like a madman and a sack of flour(it looks realy...panicked) every time ive seen a blacksmith in action, its beautiful, like theyre ironing linen. In short, the hot nail slipped off of my anvil mid hack, and set my soundproofing on fire, pretty chaotic huh?

I also discovered that the tools of my ancestors that looked just like various kinds of tongs, failed me/or i failed them when i used them, the nails flew every which way leaving scorch marks on anything they didnt ignite.

as i was hammering i loosened the head of every hammer i have from 3lbs and up.

am i not supposed to be a blacksmith?
perhaps you could offer some advice.
ColdForge - Friday, 12/08/00 19:12:14 GMT

Coldforge, most of the knifemakers I have seen either start with 3'long bars or weld the stock to long bars for handles instead of using tongs. That way you don't have to worry about the piece flying out.
Most tongs need to be hot fitted to the work to hold it tightly, that means to heat up the tongs to red and hammer the jaws tight to the workpiece. Kind of a custom fit for each piece. Might not work in your limited shop.
The handles can be mild steel, just cut it off when you are done or use the handle stock for the tang to save tool steel.
Moldy  </> - Friday, 12/08/00 19:55:44 GMT

thanks guru. that hammer's coming inside.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Friday, 12/08/00 20:18:04 GMT

thx moldy,
its friday, i just got set up with a torch, i used it last night for 15 minutes. came home excited, parents left, be back around 1 they said. once again, my bad luck has been affirmed. ill have to return to my old heating method, bashing my head against the wall until iether the metal turns red hot, or until im uncontious.
ColdForge - Friday, 12/08/00 20:59:03 GMT

one of the secrets of life is to hold as few bags as possible. you get yourself an architect's blueprint for that spiral staircase or a client's drawing, stock sizes specified, right down to the size of the welds, signed and dated and in your files before you turn a wheel. or you do a drawing and get an engineer's stamp on it and the client signs it. whatever, the client is the one specifying the specifications, not you. this ain't blind man's buff, where you do one and see if it fits, or if the client likes it. unless you are getting paid by the hour, that is. from those plans, then, you get your radius, from the center of the stair to wherever the rail sits. if you are doing this ad lib, go measure the space available, sit down with the client and figure out how big a circle will fit inside that space she or he has allowed for a staircase and go from there. as Jock noted, the advantage of flat stock is you don't have to worry about keeping the horizontal axis of flat stock horizontal while its longitudinal axis ascends. it's not hard, but it is painstaking, and it is fraught with liability bigtime. soooo, don't forget: have fun!
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 21:09:51 GMT

The Count Goes on in Florida:
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 21:24:55 GMT

I am trying to make a scaled down suit of Gothic armour for a friend of mine and i was wondering were I could find some designs.
John  <Scoobyloki at aol.com> - Friday, 12/08/00 23:52:43 GMT

Armour: John, You can try our Armour page. We currently have several articles on helms and links to other articles and web-rings.

Then on our Web-Ring page we have several armour rings that cover most of the territory.

As far as I know there is no such thing as "scaled down". Armour is made to fit, whether the client is built like a football line backer or a demure 120 pound Joan of Arc.

Besides the on-line resources above there are many good books on the subject. You need to expect to make your own patterns to fit.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 00:21:14 GMT

Dear Guru,
I have recently bought a Bradley Cushioned Helve Hammer, 40#.
This hammer is in fine shape and well worth the effort to set it up right. The hammer is compleat except the dies that came with it appear to be home made, and made to swedge things down. My quistion to you is were can I find dies, or have them made, or in some way make a set in my shop that would would work forging hot small steel. Without spending more then say $200.00. Thanks A lot. Dan Scott.
Dan Scott - Saturday, 12/09/00 01:27:52 GMT

I have scanned a four pic image of my new forge and the side draft hood I just had made. Showing 1: the forge, 2: the draft on the fire, 3&4 The draft on the smoke. If interested I can send as an attachment so you may use on the web site if you wish. If interested please respond to my e-mail address and I will forward to you.
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 02:10:04 GMT

Hi, we recntly purchased an old buffalo forge blower in perfect working condition in the hopes of building our own forge but, thst is as far as we are right now. Are there any blueprints or instructions we can find on the net or in a book. We thought about using an old sold steel barbeque but, for some reason don't think it might be strong enough. We are in miami and there aren't any forges down here to be able to get some reference from. If you could help I would really appreciate it. Thanks, Ana
Ana  <acaste6325 at aol.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 03:39:30 GMT

Hi, we recntly purchased an old buffalo forge blower in perfect working condition in the hopes of building our own forge but, thst is as far as we are right now. Are there any blueprints or instructions we can find on the net or in a book. We thought about using an old sold steel barbeque but, for some reason don't think it might be strong enough. We are in miami and there aren't any forges down here to be able to get some reference from. If you could help I would really appreciate it. Thanks, Ana
Ana  <acaste6325 at aol.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 03:41:41 GMT

i would like to know what a black smith does and its pay in the austrilian doller
james  <jaddicott at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 04:00:51 GMT

Ana, a forge can be made out of just about anything in the right shape. I have one made out of the bottom of a 55 gallon drum with a hole in the side for an air pipe. I have thought of making one out of an old cast iron bathroom sink I have out in the barn, just because I think it would be neat. A lot have been made out of brake drums, old Hibatchi barbeques, how about an old frying pan or cast iron pot. Even your BBQ would work if you line it with clay or ashes to insulate the steel.
Check the other pages on this site, there are other examples too. Use your imagination, anything that can act like a pot will work.
I have seen pictures of a forge made from WOOD! insulated with a mixture of ashes and clay to hold the fire.
Hey, after they are done counting them perhaps you could use some old ballots to forge with. (sorry, I know it was a cheap shot, but I couldn't help it.)
Moldy  <who me?> - Saturday, 12/09/00 06:35:21 GMT

Forge-design: One thing thatīs often overlooked is that a forge should be able to heat a long piece not only on the ends but also in the middle. Many traditional designs are built more like a trench than a pot, and a lot of side-blowers have just a flat area in front of the tuyere.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 12/09/00 11:24:14 GMT

Guru, Bought a 35 ton scotchman ironworker today for a song. (Short melody on my harmonica + $1,000). It has no dies however. Any good recommendations on supplies for this machine. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks> - Saturday, 12/09/00 13:59:08 GMT

Scotchman Industries, Inc.
P.O. Drawer 850
Philip, SD 57567
FAX: 800-843-5545
Or Call: 605-859-2542

Mfrs., Distributors & Exporters Of Metal Fabricating Machinery. Scotchman Hydraulic Ironworkers, 10 Models Of Punching Shearing & Forming Machines From 40 to 120 Tons; Scotchman Circular Cold Saws, Hand Operated, Semi-Automatic & Fully Automatic - Various Sizes.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 16:38:18 GMT

Bradley Dies: Dan, I couldn't buy tool steel to make them from for that price. See our Power hammer Page list of manufacturers. Bruce Wallace has annealed die steel cut in slabs but, like I said on your budget. . .

It takes a milling machine or a shaper to make dies. I once thought about forging them in place but most hammers do not have the umph to upset their own dies. Its a day's job to make a set of dies from accurate detailed drawings.

There is a big diffeence between buying a used machine that is complete with all the parts and one that has anything missing. Out of production machines mean you have to make the parts yourself of pay a machine shop $50-$100/hour to make them (ah, they will need those drawings mentioned above). The dies for Tim's Scotchman above will cost almost half what he paid for the machine. Its still a good deal but you have to go into these things with your eyes WIDE open and a tight grip on your wallet.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 16:58:49 GMT

I need to demonstrate (for school) how wire is made by hand using blacksmithing techniques from raw ore to the extruded wire. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Zarabeth Golden  <cgolden at mediaone.net> - Saturday, 12/09/00 17:55:51 GMT

Australian Blacksmiths: James, Shoe Skippy?

Modern industrial smiths will work in large plants where they operate huge forging machines making every thing from hand tools to desiel engine crank shafts. Pay should be equivalent to most skilled factory laborer jobs.

Artist Blacksmiths are self employed in most places and their income determined by their skill and resourcefulness. They make everything from door hardware and small sculptures to handrailings. This means a great range of income varying from being a starving artist to a middle class income.

In some parts of the world the trades are controlled and the range of income is less varied. However, this is not so in most "free market" economies.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 18:05:26 GMT

Wire: Zarabeth, "Making by hand" is very subjective. Wire has been made the same way for millenia. Even "by hand" it is an industrial process. People forget that even the earliest smithy was an industry.

There are two references you need to find:

De Re Metalica by Georgious Agricola translated by Herbert Hoover (yes the President) and his wife (methods used to process ores in the 1400's)

L'Encyclopedie' of Denis Diderot also known as Diderot's Pictorial Enclclopedia of Trades and Industires. (methods of manufacturing in the 1700's)

Both these books are in reprint and in most public libraries. A book on Jewelery making might als be helpful.

Wire making was known from before the iron age and probably before the bronze age by workers in gold and silver. The techniques still used on a Jewlers bench are no different than 3,000 years ago.

NOW, I will tell you that your topic is TOO broad. Your instructor, advisor or parent should have already told you this unless you are writing a graduate school thesis in industrial history. But I will outline the processes.

Iron Making (primitive)
  • Mine the ore or collect bog ore
  • Cut wood and make Charcoal
  • Break up ore into small lumps
  • Roast the ore to make it easier to break up and reduce fuel needed for the smelting furnace.
  • Breakup the ore again
  • Heat the ore in a smelting furnace in the presense of flux (limestone or seashells)- Charcoal was burned using a blast of air from a bellows that could hand, animal or water powered.
  • Remove the white hot iron that collects near the bottom of the furnace as a "bloom" but before it fully melts, falling in to the bottom as liquid becoming brittle "cast iron"
  • Consolidate the bloom by hand using large mallets or under a water powered trip hammer.
  • Reheat the bar to welding heat and Forge the bloom into a bar
  • To improve the consistancey of the bar for wire drawing fold the bar, reheat to welding heat and then hammer weld and forge to shape again to reduce the size of flux inclusions and to squeeze out excess impurities.
  • Repeat as needed, wire drawing required the finest quality material.

Wire Making (historic)
  • Heat the bar and forge it to a shape that will fit rolls if available.
  • Heat and roll bar to largest drawing die size
  • Anneal the bar (heat to a red heat and allow to cool VERY slow in a bed of ashes)
  • File and scape the bar until it is of uniform diameter and the surface has no flaws
  • Reduce one end of the bar so that it fits the drawing dies (a hard steel plate with tapered holes) and can be gripped on the far side.
  • Attach self tightening gripper (tongs with chain attached to the reins)
  • Oil the bar and die and PULL! This is done by hand on small wire. Power (usualy animal, a team of horses, mules, oxen) is required for larger bar or wire.
  • Make another pass in a smaller die
  • Most metals work harden and need to be annealed and cleaned (pickling in an acid bath and polishing) after the third or fourth pass
  • Continue drawing in smaller dies until the necessary size is achieved.
  • As the wire becomes smaller it can be drawn by winding it up on a cylinder turned by hand.

Drawing of Bronze wire was an industrial process as early as the 1300's making it available in bulk for many purposes including musical intrument strings. This makes the wire strung harp a relatively old instrument. Prior to this time bronze, gold and silver wire were made in small quantities using the same techniques. Illustrations of all the steps above are in the references mentioned. Modern processes are no different. The machinery is more sophisticated, but that is all.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/09/00 19:17:08 GMT

Dan, I'm not sure if it would be possible to do, but you might think of trading those swedging dies with someone who needs them, or perhaps if there is enough material you could mill the swedges out and re-use the blocks.
Not knowing exactly what you want I don't know if it would work, but you might try to buy some preground steel from MSC (if they have it in the right size) and cut it to size. They carry tool steel in almost every size, but it will still cost you plenty. New Tool Steel ain't cheap.
Good luck.
Moldy  <Ooh noo!> - Saturday, 12/09/00 23:17:44 GMT

Today I began my first class in blacksmithing (Nat'l Ornamental Metal Museum - Memphis). I want to know of a source for learning the history of this great skill. Am a 5th grade teacher and just want to know the background.
Linda Kenendy  <mlk88jlk at gateway.net> - Sunday, 12/10/00 00:52:47 GMT

I' looking for a plan for a blacksmith's helper to neck down stock. where is my best source?
glenn wright  <gwright at seidata> - Sunday, 12/10/00 01:48:43 GMT

how about building up those Bradley swaging dies with arc? a little 6011 and you're in business in less time than it will take to locate a Bradley owner willing to trade or a hungry machinist. how about making brand new ones out of a humongous chunk of RR track with judicious application of oxy-acetylene torch and grinder?
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 01:52:15 GMT

History: Linda, Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing is about the best from an historical standpoint. The history of blacksmithing is a difficult subject because until the last century the history of blacksmithing was almost the same as the history of technology. A much broader subject than one would think.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 03:22:17 GMT

Blacksmith's Helper: Glenn, The best source is your own scrap pile. We have plans on the iForge page. Several sources make and sell them. Drop ">Bill Epps a line. He said he was intrested in producing them for sale. Tell him I sent you.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 03:30:07 GMT

Guru, Dan, I have found a resource in Oakland Ca.who has ton's (literally) of cut-off pieces of 4140, 4340, stainless, etc... great prices. The dies Dan is looking for could easily be made with pieces this shop has. The name is Alameda Machine. Will get the address and phone number for anyone interested. Contact me by e-mail. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 04:23:31 GMT

I am building a drum forge, and am having trouble firing the coal. I tried using pine cones to start the fire, and even a butane blowtorch, but there is not enough wind comming from my squirrel cage blower. What burns hot enough to ignight coal into coke that is easilly available?
Terry  <grampappy35 at collegeclub.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 14:17:05 GMT

Coal Forge: Terry, If you are trying to burn hard coal (anthracite) or a low grade western coal (oil shale) then it practicaly takes a coal fire to get these going. Dry bituminous coal will start with a couple pieces of newsprint in a properly shaped firepot. Otherwise your pine cones or a small amount of kindling should do the trick. Coal stored outdoors in wet weather absorbs moisture and is difficult to start. It is also hard to keep too shallow a fire going. The coal needs to be 3-4" (7.5 -10cm) deep at the center (minimum).

Generaly a low capacity blower only limits the size of the fire.

My forge used to always be outdoors. In cold damp weather the fire starting problems usualy had to do with a damp bed of ashes and wet coal. When I started storing my coal out of the weather it became much easier to start. If you have used the forge enough to have a bed of ashes they should be cleaned out if damp. Most of us leave our ashes in the forge because they contain a high degree of coke. But at a certain point it should all be cleaned out.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 14:42:36 GMT

Can you or anyone tell how in principle (mosaic Damascus) is done as Darrel Meyer is doing it or is there any book available on this type of pattern welding?

dave_in_ca at hotmail.com
Dave  <dave_in_ca at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 15:41:43 GMT

I've done minimal blacksmithing for 12 years. I picked up a portable forge at a yard sale and I am hoping to find out more about its age, to post with it at its new home, a dsiplay on blacksmithing at Lost River Cave in Kentucky. It is approximately 20 inches in diameter, with 3 legs and a mechanical blower made by Buffalo Forge Company. Can you give me a ballpark age or point me in the right direction to get this info?
Alvin  <jennybteach at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 16:27:38 GMT

Mosaic: Dave, With great skill. . .

The method is the same as used by luthiers for centuries to produce finely detailed rosettes. Except than instead of wood and glue, steel and forge welding is used.

Select your metals to produce the pattern. This is usualy a plain carbon or low carbon steel and a nickle alloy steel. These need to be in long slender rods. The pattern is determined on graph paper. The rods are then bundled into the pattern on the graph paper and forge welded into a bar of that pattern. This process has numerous options. Square or flat stock can be laminated then those flat laminates laminated with other laminates to produce the pattern. Flat bar can be used to produce lines rather than rows of smaller bars. However, it is best to laminate lines on a larger slab rather than trying to have a bunch of small pieces line up.

In luthiery these initial bundles are "logs". The logs are then combined into a larger bar or with pieces of other patterns. The original pieces can even be previously laminated pattern steel pieces.

In wood the luthier starts with very small stock (1/32" square) that is often dyed to color. In steel you can start larger (say 1/4" or 3/16" square) then carefully draw out the bar to make the pattern smaller.

Once the patterned bar or logs are developed then things get trickier. If you have produced a large enough billet by combining logs then the mosaic can simply be sawed out of the billet and used as-is or for the core of a blade with edge steel welded around the flat sawn core. This means you can get several slabs from one billet. IF you have a collection of logs they can be sawed up into thin slabs, the slabs arranged on bar and the whole welded together. This is very difficult and takes great care in fitting and great skill. I would machine or surface grind the logs to produce tight joints. In the case of a sword, slabs of this type would be welded to both sides of a relatively thin core bar. After grinding the mosaic may be vernier thin.

One method to reduce the size of the billet necessary is to design so that the slabs are sawn out on the diagonal. This means that the long axis of the pattern will become stretched. Planing must be done at the start to produce the desired pattern. This method also produces a piece with long diagonal welds that are stronger than perpendicular butt joints.

The options in this art form are infinite. The failures can also be infinite. Grandpa's Presidential Presentation Knife was the result of many trials. Stars were created in individual bars, the star bars were then laminated into a star field and then that laminated into the stripes. I understand that in one of the trial bars some of the stars dissapaered for some reason (too much drawing or uncontroled drawing). The process had to be done again starting at the beginning.

This is the highest of the art and requires the highest of skills before even starting.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 16:52:44 GMT

Age of forge: Alvin it is hard to tell. I believe Buffalo started in the 1880's. They were in business until recently making industrial blowers which they had concentrated on from the early 1900's. Forges were available until the 1950's. The last big surge of handcrank blower manufacturing was for the bomb shelters of the 1960's. These had plastic bearings and gears as they were a desighned to have a short life.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 17:23:14 GMT

Added note reference Buffalo Forge Co.

Is still in business as the Buffalo Machine Compan. Their web page is located at:


They once told me via e-mail that they would send me some historical information with reference to one of their forges that I own.

I never got the information.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 19:46:23 GMT

Paw Paw, You probably didn't get a response from Buffalo about your forge because they have long been out of the forge and blower business. Their major product lines now a days is ironworkers, shears and presses. If you have a Buffalo ironworker most any part you'll need is available from them.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 22:34:45 GMT

Tim, Have you bought from Alameda Machine or know of any who have? For those of us on the east coast the shipping could kill the deal. But I'd like to know prices anyway.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Sunday, 12/10/00 22:37:29 GMT

Dear Guru,
Thank you for the quick responce to my quistion about Bradley dies. Before I ask my next quistion I would like to say that I do in fact understand the dangers of giving flipent advice from your side of the fence, and that when working with these old tools there are things that could happen if people are trying to jerry rig things togeather that arnt common pratice. my quistion is, can I grind the sweges down and lay a bead of weld to build up my dies and get them working for now until I can save enough $ to buy steel from Bruce and have dies made and treated. If so what rod whould I use and is there any other advice. thank you Dan Scott.
Dan Scott - Monday, 12/11/00 00:39:40 GMT

My partners and I are researching and developing a business plan for online auction. To launch the 1st of the new year. We are proposing a site to showcase items-tools-work and solicit work. The problem with the online sites(ebay) the iron ware field is poorly represented. What are your thoughts? I am open to ideas and discussions.
Bryan Scott Absher  <bryan at pritchettbros.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 01:27:54 GMT

Does anyone know of a source for bandsaw blades that will cut hardened steel. The one's my local machine shop made up for me wont touch it. I ned 93 inch blades.
Brian  <cornish at zoomnet.net> - Monday, 12/11/00 01:30:25 GMT

What is the best way for a novice to hammer some 3/16" brass rod flat -- to a width of about 5/16" -- without cracking or breaking the rod? I am just trying to make some simple curtain rod holders. The flat portion is where the screw holes will go. Should I hammer hot or cold? Would it help to heat the rod to reduce stress after hammering for a while? I just have simple tools: an anvil, ball peen hammer, propane or MAPP gas torch, charcoal fire, and some good gloves and goggles! BTW, you have a great web site! Thanks...
Martin Wittmann  <mwittmann at home.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 03:00:34 GMT

Pete, I didn't think of shipping, I'll find out prices though and post them here end of next week. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 03:22:51 GMT


You're probably right. But the guy in customer service that I was emailing with said they had the information, and he woud send it to me.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 03:44:36 GMT


Speaking for my self, I'd be interested in the site.


Your're probably going to have to use an abrasive cut off saw.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 03:47:08 GMT

Hammer Dies: Dan, There are all kinds of ways to fixup hammer dies. If you want to do it on the cheap you get what you get. Many folks have done exactly what Cracked has suggested.

I've seen dies built up out of old RR rail (60 to 75 point coarbon steel) with dovetails welded on from bar stock. It is not highly recommended but it works. The biggest problem with maing anything from old rail is is cracks and cold shuts from the cold swaging of the rail in use. If you want to be safe dies made from mild steel will work fine as long as you work HOT. There is no chance of cracking or spalling. However, I would not invest a lot into machineing them.

I prefer to machine my dies and wedges but many smiths forge their wedges and hand fit them. There is nothing wrong with a hand fit. Hand fitting can be as precision as any other method but it is slow. Many machinists have a hard time making wedges and especialy compound angle wedges or die doevetails. I don't, so I prefer to machine them. But that's me. On the other hand, if I had a big enough saw I would saw dies to finished dimensions or as close as possible. You do what you can with what what you have. That is part of being a blacksmith.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 04:21:25 GMT

Brass Rod: Martin, it depends on the temper of the rod. Brass is often work hardened by manufacturing. However, if it has been annealed there should be no problem working it cold. Do this:

1) Test a piece. One blow with a flat hammer should do the job (cold). If it cracks then it needs to be annealed.

2) Heat the rod to a dull red in a darkened room using a propane torch. In normal room light there will just barely be a change in color (a white blush not red) so it is had to tell. Slightly hotter it melts. . Quench the bar. It is now annealed and will take a lot of working before getting too hard again. You should only need to anneal once.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 04:33:02 GMT

Saw Blades: Brian, HOW HARD? Steel up to about 44-45Rc can be machined with normal tooling. Above that, forget it. I saw pre heat treated H-13 at 44-45Rc using Lenox HSS bimetal blades with a variable pitch tooth (8-14). These are not your normal bimetal blades, these are super hard HSS. They are about the most expensive blades you can buy but they last a LONG time. Actual cost per cut is cheaper than common alloy steel blades. They also save time in speed of cut AND not needing to replace them. I run my little cut off saw at full speed on all materials using these blades and WD-40 for lubricant/coolant.

These same blades are also used on 300 and 400 series stainless, monel, 01, and A2 tool steel at the ame speed.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 05:06:08 GMT

In response to Dave_in_Ca:

I myself and some of my crew have been trying our luck at Mosaic Damascus. The concussion in our shoppe is that it is a prearranged and at times machined pieces of steel brought together to form the pattern then forge welded. It appears the trick is in the arrangement and machining of the components
that produces this striking FX. This is only an opinion and not to be taken as fact but rather a course of action that we have followed. As of this date I am not aware of any book or reference material on this technique. If I am made aware of any I will be more than happy to pass them along to you at your web address.

Best of luck in your endeavors.
Dragons Fire Forge
Ron  <Ron at DragonsFireForge.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 06:06:10 GMT

Brass Rod: Martin, it is difficult to answer questions about brass without knowing the type or alloy of brass involved.
If you are using bare brass brazing rod, it will work well hot. Heat to a low red and forge, it will tollerate a bit of cold forgeing before cracking. Can also be hardened by heating to low red and quenching in water, annealed by heating to low red and letting air cool.
douglas  <isalmon at mindspring.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 06:17:08 GMT

Ron, Jim Hrisoulas has some directions for making mosaic damascas in his book The Pattern welded blade. (very good book in my opinion) Some other techniques include using wire EDM to cut matching pieces which when forge welded together can create fantastic scenes and designs, layering different alloys and welding them together then cutting and rearanging them to make the pattern.
Blade Magazine had a fantastic article about mosaic damascas a while back you could look up if you like.
The patterns are endless.
It's possible to use different colored modeling clay to simulate the different alloys while planning out your process.
Good luck, P.S Dr. Jim is know to post on the web from time to time under an alias so you might ask him, if you can figure it out. (or just go to his web site)
Moldy (not a doctor of any kind but I played one when I was younger ;)
Moldy  <got some thank you> - Monday, 12/11/00 06:37:35 GMT

My recollection is that the degree of hardness resulting from a given cooling speed in brazing rod is alloy specific
Pete Fels - Monday, 12/11/00 06:46:10 GMT

Any ideas for building a fire pot? I'm using a cast plumbing fixture which is tapered, welded to a brake drum. Specs are close to one of the Centaur pots. I know it will work but there may be a better way.
Thanx Ron
Ron Childers  <h1office at aol.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 13:56:10 GMT

I dont care what it takes, im sticking with blacksmithing if it costs me my......savings. people tell me i have big forearms. could this be from hammering, or perhaps working with plier-like tools? what i hear about all hand work blacksmiths is that they all have huge biceps, mine are nice, but theyre nothing to punch a mime for. im not that superficial though. is there any plan to put a search in the forum? that might save you guys alot of work, but i could be wrong. keep up the good work.
ColdForge - Monday, 12/11/00 14:09:02 GMT

Fellas, just remember when in doubt:
A little Song

A little Dance

A little Seltzer

Down your pants
fingerless-smith - Monday, 12/11/00 14:12:12 GMT

Anealing Non-Ferrous Material: Almost all non-ferrous metals are annealed by heating to somewhere just below the melting point and then cooling in air or by quenching in water. Quenching in water is a convienience.

Alpha brasses (64-99% copper) are annealed by heating to 700 to 1400°F (the hotter the softer) and can then be be quenched.

Alpha-beta brasses (55 to 64% copper) are annealed at the same temperature and can hardened slightly by quenching from the annealing temperature.

The key word above is slightly. Cold working produces a much greater degree of hardness. The amount of hardening is so low my copper alloys book does not give specific data. If quenched from the low end of the annealing temperature there would be no disceernable difference.

Common brazing alloy is:

Cu 56 - 60%
Sn 0.8 - 1.0
Fe .25 - 1.20
Al, Si, Mg, Pb trace (no greater than 0.1% each)
Zn balance

That makes it an alpha-beta alloy.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 15:12:49 GMT

ColdForge AKA Fingerless: Please don't use phoney names. Your DNS record gives you away and then I have to be mean. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 15:17:45 GMT

One of the best references and "how-to" on any kind of damascus and historical iron has been mentioned here before: Heinz Denigīs "Alte Schmiedekunst I-II". They are thin and full of pictures and yet FULL of information. An excellent reason to learn german!
I bought my copies on the net, from Mr. Denig personally, but when I tried that link today it was dead.I suppose there are other to find them.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Monday, 12/11/00 16:30:30 GMT

The dust pans in I-Forge Demo #78 are excellent pieces of work. In the picture, the pan in the background appears to be steel, is the other one copper or brass? What gauge is the copper or brass you use for your dust pans? Does it need to be thicker gauge than the steel pans since it is softer material? Seems like this material would not be rigid enough.

Thanks for your help. The demo's are very beneficial. Keep up the good work!

g-allen at tamu.edu

Greg  <g-allen at tamu.edu> - Monday, 12/11/00 16:35:53 GMT

Mosaic: Ron etal, The method I described in detail is basicly the one given in the Hrisoulous book. It is a good general method.

Shapes could be machined but in the above (grid) method a large pattern of say 1.5" (38-40mm) square is reduced in size by drawing to say 1/8 its original size (~1/5" - 13mm). The steps become blurred and all you can see are the shapes. The finer the detail the smaller the starting bars or more drawing is necessary. The advantage of drawing the billet is that the long piece produces more pieces for repeat patterns.

Reversal, 90° rotation and careful tiling of the original pieces can produce wonderful results. Primitive shapes can be forged or sawed as well as machined in this process then assembled and welded.

I consider the EDM process a kind of cheat. Why not just photo etch the surface, fill by plating and grind to expose the pattern. . . There is an outfit in Sweden that produces "laminated" steels by a powder metalurgy process. The process is adaptable to producing patterns other than flat laminates. Would this be any different?

The "art" in this process is the lamination and forge welding whether done by a grid or fitted pieces.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 17:11:46 GMT

Dust Pans: The steel one is 16 ga (1.6mm) stock. The copper is thinner. I'm not sure of the thickness. I made several from 28oz. material .043" (1.1mm) but then I couldn't get the same thickness stock so I switched to something thinner (20oz. I think). It was OK but I liked the heavier. The handle is welded and forged 1/4" brass rod. The rivets are #6 copper wire (ground wire).

These particular basket handles are not a very good form. My later ones are much better.

I sold these for twice the price of the steel pans. However, even with the polishing the copper/brass is easier to work. I have also made the same style shovel in brass with a steel handle which is a very nice touch.

Perhaps I'll do a brass basket twist demo for Christmas. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 17:26:51 GMT

Hello everybody,
I am a rank beginner with a question I hope you will answer. I need a small animal-shaped item made from iron and I wondered if it's possible to make it. When I think of iron objects usually I think of larger items than something that is about an inch square like a small statue. Thanks for the help.
Cherdrol  <uncommonvixen at icqmail.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 17:52:30 GMT

OK sorry Guru, Didnt mean to upset you.
ColdForge - Monday, 12/11/00 18:37:28 GMT

Any substitutes for refractory brick for use in micro forge? other than the insulator wool?
ColdForge - Monday, 12/11/00 18:55:28 GMT

I'm a new metal work artist and would like to build my own forge and have basic welding skills. I have seen a "freon tank propane forge" on the net but no designs on how to build it. Could you please direct me to where i could find designs to build this type of forge. Thank You.

easy hammering,
Y.M. Chappell
Yancy Chappell  <yschap at sprynet.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:04:54 GMT

I'm a new metal work artist and would like to build my own forge and have basic welding skills. I have seen a "freon tank propane forge" on the net but no designs on how to build it. Could you please direct me to where i could find designs to build this type of forge. Thank You.

easy hammering,
Y.M. Chappell
Yancy Chappell  <yschap at sprynet.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:05:15 GMT

This question is about metalworking.
I have a wood burning furnace that uses a cast iron
grate. This furnace has a fan to blow in combustion air
for the fire. The fan has an adjustable intake to keep the
fire from getting too hot. As I was learning how to use
the furnace I let the fire get too hot and the grate warped
and bowed downward in the center creating a concave depression. It was warped so badly that it restricted the
opening of the ash drawer.
I turned the grate over to gain access to the ash pan but now I have a hill in the middle of the grate that makes it very difficult to stack wood on it to start a fire.
I have tried to burn some hot fires in order to force it back into a flat shape but it doesn't seem to work that way.
I spoke to a person at Centaur Forge in Burlington Wisconsin which is where I live. They could not help me because the size of my grate is too large for their forge.
The grate measures approximately 20 inches square.
My question to you is can the warp be repaired by reheating it in a forge. If so, where in southeastern Wisconsin or
northern Illinois can I take it to be repaired.
Thanks for any advice you can give me.
Mike  <bigmac at tds.net> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:08:17 GMT

I'm a new blacksmith but an old Boy Scout (leader) and I am looking for the old Blacksmithing Merit Badge. Anybody seen one?
Bryan  <scema at pell.net> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:24:57 GMT

Look here. http://www.webpak.net/~rreil

It is not a detailed plan, but it has all the info you need to build one. Be sure to read ALL the pages associated with the forge design. It will work. I built one. And I have had the opportunity to visit with Ron and see his 4 burner forge in operation.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:37:18 GMT

You can make your own. I believe Guru has some info in the archives. Or perhaps in the getting started area.
PawPaw did you have a recipe for this?
Or you can get castable or ramable refractory from a ceramic supply place or a furnace repair outfit
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:40:34 GMT

Small Objext: Cherdol, Look at the numerous animal demos on our iFroge page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:48:16 GMT

Micro Forge: That is a lightweight insulation brick. They are so soft they can be hollowed out with a spoon.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:50:30 GMT

Furnace grate: Mike, If it is cast iron you will need to replace it. If is is a steel fabrication then any welder should be able to repair it for you. Centaur forge is in the business of selling blacksmithing equipment not making repairs. You can also check the local blacksmith's association (Centaur can tell you who to contact) and THEY will be able to put you touch with someone that can do the job. Sounds like a manufacturer's warranty problem to me. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 19:56:15 GMT

Gas Forge: Yancy, look on our plans page. The gas forge article has numerous links.

Boy Scout Merit Badge: Bryan, I've never seen one. I understand the badge has been discontinued. Once in a while a booklet surfaces. I had one YEARS ago but it is long gone.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 20:00:57 GMT

Substitute for refractory, funny you should mention it. I picked up an old toyota catalytic converter unit the other day, inside is a ceramic brick like a 3D screen (lots of small square holes thru the long axis). It's a little small for a mini forg, but one from a truck or large V8 would big bigger. I did some propane silver soldering on it and it really concentrated the heat next to the torch. I bet if you hollowed one out and put a torch in the side it would be a great small torch forge. It's hard and relatively tough, but it probably would crack if you drop it.
They should be fairly easy to find at a junk yard or recycling place. Be careful and wear a resperator, you don't want to breath any dust, some of the stuff holding the ceramic in the can might have been nasty too.
Matthew Jordan  <z> - Monday, 12/11/00 20:09:50 GMT

Hey Guru, Robert Heath's book "Beginning Blacksmithing" has
a outline for the Boy Scout Merit Badge in the back of it.
BobbyNeal  <nealb30 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 22:03:38 GMT

When using an Alu.block to cut on how hot does the metal
being cut need to be before the Alu. melts. I have not seen
it done and was wondering.
Bobby Neal  <nealb30 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 12/11/00 22:07:55 GMT

Cutting Block: Bobby, this is normaly done cold. I've never but hot iron on aluminium plate but it is such a good conductor of heat I expect the heat would disapate before it did much harm. The aluminum heat sink would also suck the heat out of the work very fast making it hard to hot cut. I prefer a mild steel cutting plate.

Aluminium melts at 1220°F (660°C)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 00:09:09 GMT

I am looking for heat treating specs for tool steels (a6, a2, d2, 4140, etc.) Can anyone help, (web sites, books, etc.)
francis  <oddsbodkins at hotmail> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 03:14:36 GMT

Merit Badges:

There is a Metallurgy Merit Badge and a Metalworking Merit Badge currently. If I can find the time (grumble, moan) I and several other smiths are planning to review the Metalworking badge, update it in terms of safety and bibliography, and maybe put in some blacksmithing, if possible. I'll try again to break things loose this and next week. The rend in the BSA has been towards consolidating badges, so it's unlikely we'll ever see a seperate Blacksmithing Merit Badge.

Chilly and foggy on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 04:07:24 GMT

Heattreating Tool Steels: Francis, We have given specs on most of those steels individualy. It would take digging to find them in our archives. For general information on heattreating most of these steels MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK is your best buy (see our book reviews page). If you need slightly more detail and the full range of steels you want the ASM Metals Reference Book published by ASM International (see our links page). For more detail on heattreating technique you will want the ASM Heat Treaters Guide to Ferrous Metals. Most suppliers of these steels will provide information on them.

Admiral Steel has some on-line alloy references in their "library"

Then there is www.principalmetals.com and www.timken.com/latrobe/ (Timken Latrobe Steels)

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 05:00:27 GMT

Hi and hope you can help.
I have yet to find a start to finish sequence of drawings of
a socketed chisel, made from one piece of iron, steel laid in, and the base of the socket fully welded with no gap. I've seen old chisels made this way but have failed to copy.
thank you
Dean Moxley  <kilomox at aol.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 05:44:49 GMT

Hi and hope you can help.
I have yet to find a start to finish sequence of drawings of
a socketed chisel, made from one piece of iron, steel laid in, and the base of the socket fully welded with no gap. I've seen old chisels made this way but have failed to copy.
I do period blacksmithing at a historic site, and have about
4-5 years experience.
thank you
Dean Moxley  <kilomox at aol.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 05:47:44 GMT

How can I temper a wood carving chisel?

Demetrio Chavez  <Daniman_1 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 07:40:41 GMT

I'm a relative newcomer to blacksmithing/metalworking. I understand the basic properties of carbon steel and iron, but have a question concerning their cold working possibilities. Which, if any, is more suitable to working cold (on a small scale)? I ask this because I have done some small work/practice at my very small forge with old large nails (I assume iron), but later noticed that I could also work these nails cold, although not as easily, but without seemingly compromising their structure. Thanks.
Glen  <gmsstoll at ms48.hinet.net> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 08:57:10 GMT

I'm a relative newcomer to blacksmithing/metalworking. I understand the basic properties of carbon steel and iron, but have a question concerning their cold working possibilities. Which, if any, is more suitable to working cold (on a small scale)? I ask this because I have done some small work/practice at my very small forge with old large nails (I assume iron), but later noticed that I could also work these nails cold, although not as easily, but without seemingly compromising their structure. Thanks.
Glen  <gmsstoll at ms48.hinet.net> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 08:59:20 GMT

when did humans begin blacksmithing ?
orna  <ornie at att.net> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 13:09:39 GMT

I have heard about axes or rather an axe that was used to split a hair(i didnt get this from a cartoon)and i was wondering how you manage to get a knife blade that sharp, let alone an axe blade.
ColdForge - Tuesday, 12/12/00 13:36:40 GMT

Is The Faq down?
ColdForge - Tuesday, 12/12/00 14:09:47 GMT

Socketed chisle: Dean, An old chisel made "with the steel lais in" would have been three pieces.

1) Steel Edge
2) Supporting "blade"
3) Socket

The parts would be forge welded together. The socket would have also been forge welded into a tapered tube previously. The joint between the socket and blade would have been to a short tang with a rounded shoulder. Both socket and tang would have extra material so that after welding the joint could be blended into the shank of the blade. Most later day smiths would only use two pieces of steel.

Modern forging practice would be to forge the whole from one piece of steel. This can be done in two operations. One using closed dies and an upsetter. The other using an upsetter and open die forging.

The socket would be formed in the end of a blank in an upset/extusion operation in an upsetter using two piece gripper dies with a tapered opening and a tapered penetrator for the inside of the socket. The socket would be formed in one smooth motion with the extruding back toward the penetrator as it finished its stroke.

In a closed die operation the chisel would to forged to shape with a blank socket on the end of the shank. The socket formed as above in an upsetter. The difference being the shape of the gripper dies would fit the finished shank. This is the reason sets of chisels will only have a couple shank and socket sizes.

In an open die operation a skilled smith would neck down the shank in front of the previously formed socket and then finish the blade in an open sizing die (depending on the shape of the chisle, such as a gouge). In a VERY small custom shop this would be all hand work possibly forming the gouge in clapper dies or in a swage block.

In a small blacksmith shop without an upsetter this can still be done "by hand" but will require more steps. Again the socket is formed first. A set of staged holes is required in a swage block, special "monkey tool" or bolt heading vise. The first hole is for upsetting some mass on the end of the cylindrical blank (say 3/4" on a 5/8" bar) with a tapered end shaped like the socket where it will be solid. The second hole will be socket shaped like in the upsetter. A round or parabolic ended punch would be driven into the upset end followed by a finishing punch to open the socket. These operations must be done HOT and a striker may be (probably be) required. These operations could also be done in a special power hammer setup.

The shank would then be necked down as necessary and the chisle formed.

Ocassionaly you come across socketed antique chisels where the socket was formed by flaring the end of the blank, forming the socket and forge welding it. This method produces a low quality socket that has a poor joint design where the socket meets the shank. The method of construction is often obvious because the joints are failing. I suspect this method was used in small one man shops where the smith was called on the make everything but I don't believe that it would have been used in a tool makers shop as the joint is too sloppy and assemetrical.

This type joint was also used with an overlapping joint and rivets or small tacks that went into the wood handle.

A beautifully designed modern option is a round shank and tang with a large filleted shoulder the diameter of the end of the handle. The handle then has a tapered ferrul that extends almost to the end of the handle. This is a very strong design and is easy to manufacture.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 14:37:15 GMT

Tempering a Wood Chisel: Demetrio, Tempering is part of the heattreating process. Steels are hardened and then tempered. Tempering does no good if the part is not hardened first or is harder than you want it to be.

Hardening requires heating to a temperature in the range of 1350°F to 1700°F (732°C to 926°C) depending on the type of steel, then quenching it in air, oil, water or brine (again depending on the type of steel).

Tempering is the reheating of the piece to some temperature below the hardening temperature. This can range from 350°F to 1400°F (177°C 760°C) again, depneding on the type of steel but also depending on the application. Tempering reduces the hardness a little and the brittleness a lot. All steel should be tempered. The higher the temper temperature the softer the steel. In production applications most items are uniformly hardened and tempered. In specialized blacksmith work parts are often selectively tempered. One production item that has selective tempering is files. The tangs are heated to reduce the hardness as much as possible to prevent breakage.

So, you need to know the steel, then the hardness desired. The references in the post on tool steels above have some specifics.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 15:04:45 GMT

Edges: Sharpening is an art. Some people can do it, others never catch on. Starting with good steel is important. I have a little stainless blade pocket folder made by a reputable maker. It will take an edge, but it will not hold it. It dulls slicing cheese. However, it is hard enough to curl chips in mild steel. It just won't hold an edge under normal use. Generally good plain carbon steels seem to take and hold a better edges than stainless (in my experiance).

There are some secrets to good sharpening. One is DO NOT OIL stones. They cut better dry and clean. Oil soaked stones create a slurry of grit and oil that rounds the edge as it is "sharpened". Oil soaked stones can be cleaned with a solvent like carburettor or brake cleaner. The same solvent can be used to clean the metal swarf that collects on the stone.

Besides starting with good steel, good stones are required. For general sharpening I use a Norton synthetic combination stone. Black crystalon on one side and red India on the other. The edge is first sharpened on the coarse side sliding the blade forward only. It is then done the same way on the fine India side. Last it is given two clean swides at a steeper angle to create the actual "edge".

I also have a soft brown and a hard white Arkansas stone. These are used on pickier edges after sharpening on the Norton synthetic stone. The soft Arkansas is about like the fine India but a little smoother. The white Arkansas is very hard and makes an exceptional edge. The Arkansas stones are expensive so I always presharpen with the cheaper easy to replace Norton.

Besides these my collection of stones include an old straight razor stone (a dark brown synthetic - probably bonded Tripoli), several round India "slips" of various diameters and some round backed white Arkansas slips. These odd shaped stones are for sharpening gouges and other things like lathe form cutters.

For a final edge some folks use emery on a hard cotton buffing wheel. However, one of the most agressive flesh cutting edges it the one made by sharpening on a belt sander leaving a finely serrated edge. There is sharp then there is a good cutting edge. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 17:33:46 GMT

Many Insurance Plans Will not cover anything like a forge or welder. can you tell me of any loopholes or give me any suggestions to not let this get in the way of a passion.
thx gurus.
ColdForge - Tuesday, 12/12/00 18:42:02 GMT

Bryan, the blacksmithing meritbadge book was discontinued in the early 1940's. Occasionally one will show up on that auction site. The normal selling price is around $40. I have been trying for several years to obtain one myself.

Keep the iron hot.
Cold and slight snow showers in SW Washington.
Clint  <bearsden at tdn.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 19:39:19 GMT

Thanks Guru, I have heard of cutting on an alu. block before
and I wasn't sure about weather or not they were talking hot
or cold.
Bobby Neal  <nealb30 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 20:36:58 GMT

Ok, just got home from school, Now i am going to start forge a blade out of a piece of rebar, now apparently I'll be doing most of the work cold. I would appreciate any info you could give me as to the signs that im holding the hammer wrong(or misswinging in any way) that would show up within the first half hour(or later, im not picky).
any suggestions would be appreciated too.
Thx for the sharpening info guru.
ColdForge - Tuesday, 12/12/00 21:55:17 GMT

DO NOT COLD FORGE STEEL!!!! Now that I got that out of my system....
If you hammer steel cold you will be causing all sorts of micro-cracks.
Also to be honest why use rebar as a blade? Rebar is a grab-bag of material. You will not know with any certainty if it will be good marerial for things like blades. Letter openers yes using knives no.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 22:11:08 GMT

Clint and Bryan,
Merit Badge.
Are you looking for the requirments that used to be used? Or are you looking for the actual badge?

If the first I will dig around in my notes. Our very own Atli(AKA Bruce ) had done some research on this.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 22:13:39 GMT

I am 55, I have been blacksmithing in my spare time for about 10 years. I want to make some screwplates and taps, but do not know how to go about it. Do you have any info on how to get started?
Thank you
Ronald Wilson  <tomb at wnclink.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 22:25:57 GMT

Dean Moxley,
Dean Didn't Peter leave a set of drawings from two or three years ago? I know he did a socketed chisel at the Fort
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 22:30:50 GMT

Insurance: Coldforge, Most hobbies are exempt from zoning and insurance regulations. However, as soon as something becomes commercial it is another matter. Different entities will try to call your operation different things.
  • Zoning and neighbors in some areas call ANY manufacturing a commercial business.
  • Sales tax people will call ANY sale taxable therfore requiring a license if you do it regularly.
  • The EPA generaly exempts most hobby operations from certain acts however some states such as California are stricter than the others.
  • The IRS will call a business that doesn't make a profit in more years than not a hobby and not accept the deductables.

Read the fine print. The Federal policy of "Don't ask, don't tell" is often the best policy. Fine, READ the fine print but don't ASK. READ the zoning ordinance, but DON'T ASK. My experiance with zoing and inspections folks is they do what they are told to do (or want to do) and sometimes the law is actualy on your side when they are not. Educate YOURSELF. Read your insurance policy but then find out what your state does not allow the insurror to require OR to ask. On the other hand, rules and laws be damned, they can often cancel you for no reason other than they want to. Then the "golden rule" comes into play, "He who has the gold, makes the rules".

Definitions can make a huge difference. My NC-TOOL "furnace" is a "propane grill" (it takes the same size cylinder and the whole fits on an old wheeled grill stand. Makes rare steaks REAL FAST!

In most places that you buy coal there is SOMEONE still heating with coal. Are coal furnaces illegal where you are?

Noise is the biggest problem. Pounding on an anvil that is properly tied down to quiet it is not too bad. But angle grinders or pounding on sheet metal make a huge amount of noise. On the other hand, if you are in an apartment there is almost no kind of pounding that can be done that neighbors won't hear and have the RIGHT to complain about.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 22:43:20 GMT

Self contained air hammer:

Been thinking of building a self contained air hammer. The shop just made some more 12" od by 7.5" id by 22 inch long scrap tubing. Slipped in the chuck while boring. 2 pieces. Looks like master and slave air cylinder tubing to me. 1026 seamless. Much heavier wall than necessary, but I always liked extra mass. I just need to clean up the bores to maybe 8 inch, hone and chrome plate. I have stock and seals for ductile iron pistons. So, I have the big (expensive) parts. Might use the existing JYH as a start. Add a connecting rod to the flywheel shaft. That drive should handle a 130 pound hammer even with the losses in an air hammer.

What I would like to see is some specs on an existing self contained design in the 130 pound hammer range. Motor HP, Bore sizes and strokes for the cylinders, some info on the air valving, etc. Specifically, what percentage of the drive cylinder air is new each stroke (cooling) and is the return stroke regenerative (cap end of work cylinder air added to the retract stroke air). When you step on the pedal of a Nazel, does it just control the valve opening percentage? I see that you can adjust the relative motion of the two valves via linkage. But can you change that on the fly or must you stop and adjust the linkage? Is the hammer the same piece as the work cylinder piston?

What's the best self contained hammer out there? All opinions welcome. Bruce, I looked on your site, but couldn't find any specifics on the Nazel. Do you have any? Or where is the best place to look? Does "Pounding out the Profits" have the detail I'm looking for? I always meant to order that, but it didn't happen yet. I can do the complete design, but I usually can't match the evolution of a mature product like a self contained hammer. I alwys seem to miss about 10 percent, so I like to look at what's out there too.

Lots of questions. It's always that way when the mind starts on a project. I see equipment parts or tools in every piece of material I come across.

I think I can do this for less than $100. Will there be another JYH contest? (grin)

As always, thanks in advance!
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Tuesday, 12/12/00 22:46:51 GMT

Self Contained Hammers: Tony, I have specs on the Nazels to post. Just haven't had time. The Nazels were by far the best in the industry. However, being the best has costs.

Nazels have a more sophisticated snubber and asperation system than all the rest. Air is taken in at the compressor cylinder via vents in the piston skirt and exhausted via the valving through an exhaust that is piped outdoors (to dispose of oil mist). The early Beche' hammers were made by Nazel and then were redesigned over time.

The Chambersburg and the Chinese hammers exhaust the air into the hollow casting to settle out the oil mist and recycle the air. This makes the machine casting an air cooler. I've never heard of problems with these machines recycling air but then we don't hear everything. However, it is NOT unheard of air hammers diesling and recycling heated air seems a good way to promote that. .

On the other hand the Turkish clones of the Kuhn have had overheating problems of some type. Two caught on fire at two ABANA conferences. . Not a good sign. On the other hand there are many satified users.

Although there are links between the valves on the Nazel and the Chinese hammers the links are fixed length. Other hammers have a single valve. Part of the reason for the dual valving is to simplify casting design (the cores get tricky) and to simplify parts. Kuhn and the Turkish clones use a single valve.

Mark S. Krause ?SUBJECT=Hammer Manual - anvilfire referal">kbmk13 at prodigy.net is selling a manual covering the design and construction of his self contained air JYH. It is more a description of the operation than a plan book but it is very good.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 00:01:24 GMT

Thx Ralph and Guru.
Unfortunately ralph, my dad was on the computer for about 4 hours after i sent my last posting. so meanwhile i hammered some 3ft rebar to half its original thickness, i also hammered one of my 12 inch spikes into ideal blade thickness(at least it seems). I would love to heed your advice to the fullest(as you are far wiser than I) alas, I must forge, and my father is less than anxious to watch me work with a torch. Well Guys, Im thinking of coming aboard, joining the anvilfire team, and hopefully accelerating my education.
ColdForge - Wednesday, 12/13/00 00:07:16 GMT

My son is doing a project on colonial trades in Virginia. He has chosen the trade of a blacksmith. We have found a lot of information but we can't find the salary of a blacksmith in colonial times.
jean  <jzbel-lombardo at starpower.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 01:58:24 GMT

yup, guru is right, no adjusting the relationship between the valves on a nazel. it's only right in one place! nazel does some exhausting inside the casting too, however, my home built hammer puts that exhaust out into the room as well as the main stack exhaust.
the nazel's ram is a part of the front piston in some hammers(b series) and is attached via a rod in others(i & n series), my little hammer has a standard air cylinder attached to the ram with a clevis.

by the way, to anyone who is interested;
i have added some weight to the ram of my little jyh (now 30# with die in), and have added a leg under the anvil to tie it in to the ground. remarkable improvement in force of blow with hardly any loss of control.

mark s. krause  <kbmk13 at prodigy.net> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 01:59:03 GMT


You need the book, THE BLACKSMITH in Eighteen Century WILLIAMSBURG, An Account of his Life and Times and of his Craft.

The reason you are having a problem finding his salary is because he was almost always self employed. You can probably get a copy of the above book through the Inter Library Loan system.
The book shows some of the ledger pages from the first blacksmith in Williamsburg, Va.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 02:23:53 GMT

Self contained:
Thanks for the replies. Does anyone have any documentation on the Nazels that I could look at or get a copy of? Bruce? Guru? Willing to pay. Failing that, is there anyone within 4 hours of East central Wisconsin that has a Nazel that they wouldn't mind me crawling around for a few hours? Mark, I will contact you in the next few days about your book. I won't ask all of the questions for you here. Specs and pictures of your machine anywhere besides what's in Anvilfire news?

Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 13:38:04 GMT

Guru, just last night i completed a very satisfying project, i made a bracelet out of a strip of carbon steel i managed to talk our welding teacher out of.(i know i should be in that class but my councellor always sneaks in something instead like spanish) anyway, its really thick, i would gauge it but i only know wire gauge, it has good weight to it, and i love weighty jewelry. anyway, i was wondering if you had any suggestions to help me develop a touchmark? I would like to do a meld letter of CF, but i feel it wouldnt represent the maker but instead the process. this is the first piece i have made that i consider mark-worthy. i would appreciate any help or creative ideas, => thx guys.
ColdForge - Wednesday, 12/13/00 13:41:25 GMT

In regard to sharpening knives. I've tried a lot of things over the years and have several types of stones in my workshop. But in my estimation to put a good edge on a knife you just can't beat the sharpening steel that is sold in carving knife sets. I have an old one with a staghorn handle that I bought at a flea market for 25 cents, and it works great.
Neal Bullington  <NRobertB at aol.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 15:39:10 GMT

Touchmark: CF, I've always had a creative block when it came to designing monograms. However we have a how-to article about making touchmarks on the iForge page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 16:42:47 GMT

Salary for a smith...
This is not from Colonial times, but it is a start.
Blacksmiths for the Hudson Bay Co.(HBC) were paid(at least in Fort Vancouver) 25-40 pounds per year(I assume sterling) in the early 1800's(1825-1845). Since the company was pretty much cookie cutter across the country I believe that is how much smiths were paid by them on the east coast too. But as to how much the Colonies paid...errr I mean the United States, I have no idea, but I would think no more than this
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 17:13:47 GMT

Thereīs one thing about "salaries" in history: The cash could often be the smaller part of the deal with the employer. I donīt know about early America, but over here a master-craftsman was often given food, clothing, housing and workshop for him, his family and helpers. Sure, life was rough and the days filled with hard labour , but if YOU where GIVEN food, clothes, a house and a forge, how much cash would you need?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 17:47:38 GMT

Salaries: Olle, It was very much the same here. Barter was often a larger part of the economy than cash.
Shoe my horse and I'll use him to plow your field.

I'll give you two chickens for repairing this latch.

Your wife says she needs two harvest baskets and I need a new froe for making splits. . . I'll throw in three more baskets that you might trade them since the froe is worth more than the two baskets you wife needs.

Salary is also the incorrect term for what most people were paid in the American Colonial period. Crafts people were almost always self employed. Most were also subsistance farmers and grew much of their own food. Besides trading services they may have had small cash crops of tobacco or had something to trade with merchants in England for manufactured goods. Even shop keepers and others may have had this complicated type of economic life style.

Blacksmiths were generaly important craftsmen and were held in high regard. A master smith would have been among the middle class in most villages and cities. They would have likey been members of the local government and church board. Journeymen were laborers and generaly landless. They would have rented a room. Apprentices were virtual slaves or bondsmen. They were fed, clothed and educated. When they became Journeymen after a period of seven years they had basic tools of the trade, possibly a little cash and an education, but that was all.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 19:53:37 GMT

looking for plans for a homemade air hammer any help will be welcomed thanks
robert   <robertsides at netscape.net > - Wednesday, 12/13/00 21:49:27 GMT

Plans: Robert, The "Simple Air Hammer" plans are available from ABANA. The only instructions for a self contained type hammer are by Mark Krause. His mailing address is listed several posts up. Then we have several articles on our JYH page (goto Power Hammer Page, then catalog of Junk Yard Hammers).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 22:21:38 GMT

I am a retired construction superintendent with 3 years membership in abana and a couple of more years getting up the courage. I do some metal sculpture by layering and bending various plate cutouts (I do have a small plasma cutter.

My question is that I have seen some work colored by what I was told was an acid wash. I suspect the acid was sprayed perhaps with an old windex bottle as the colors all appear to have run down. That may not be necessary. The finish colors that I hasve seen are a copper color and a really bright (almost irridescent) green. What acids and other materials are used in this and what techniques? Is the metal still warm? I have tried a couple of commercial patinas but am not satisfied with the results.

Bud Williams
Bud Williams  <h.j.williams at worldnet.att.net> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 22:34:06 GMT

Colors: Bud, I'm not sure. These sound like coloring on copper, not iron.

I have a lot of problems with many of the "finishes" used by metalworkers. Most of these chemical finishes are not stable and do not remain constant or protect the surface from rust or further corrosion. Consider high quality gun blues put on a finished hard piece of steel. At best these are a surface to hold oil and must be constantly cleaned and oiled to prevent rust. Ocassionaly these finishes hold up in dry environments but it is rare that a rust spot doesn't show up somewhere.

Any color you can imagine can be produced in paint. This means you can start with a clean surface and prime with cold galvanizing and then a neutral red oxide. Automotive lacquers can be applied by spray gun or air brush and are colorfast and long lasting. There is an almost infinite color selection and colors can be mixed, overlayed, glazed, scraped and clear coated.

Finishes (dies and oil paints) can also be mixed with varnish and hand rubbed on a lacquered base. OR mixed in lacquer and sprayed on. Craft and antique suppliers have rub on gold and silver paint.

A lot can be done with paint to provide a long lasting finish of infinite color and texture. The finish is as much part of the art as the "work" itself.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 23:27:27 GMT

My 2 cents on knife sharpening:
Over the years I have tried varrious stones for sharpening knife blades. The best I have found overall is a "diamond stone" [steel plate embeded with industrial diamond dust] I bought from a mail order sporting goods catalogue [about $30]. I run the blade along the stone away from me as though I was filleting a fish. One stroke right hand , one stroke left hand and so on and so on untill I have the desired edge which can shave the hair off my arm with one stroke. Then I finish this by smothing out on a ceramic rod just like a chef's sharpening steel.The angle at which the blade contacts the steel and the ceramic rod are [to me] a matter of trial and error once you get the feel for it it will become second nature to you.[aprox. 15 degrees ?]
One more thing: Get a good edge, and maintain a good edge,don't abuse a good blade. It is not a chisel or a screwdriver. It is a cutting tool. Treat it good and it will serve you well.

Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Wednesday, 12/13/00 23:35:16 GMT

Abuse: But, but but. . . My Buck 505 folder gets used for opening oil cans (back when oil came in cans), deburing parts (mostly plastic but ocasionaly steel), scraping (no cutting) wood, plastic, metals, used for a hardness tester on other blades and for slicing food (apples, cheese. . .). There may be reasons I can't keep it sharp. . .

However, only RARELY do I pry with it but it has been used as a screw driver (on very small screws). I've had two of these knives. I had just about worn out my limited edition model with micarta scales when I lost it (somewhere in MY shop. . :( ). I had upset the rivets a couple times to tighten it up. Now I am working on the second one. The first held up for 25 years of abuse and would have seen more if I hadn't "misplaced" it. I suspect the second will last longer since it doesn't quite get as much abuse. But that may change. . .

I've never tried those high tech diamond "stones". Looked at them a lot but never had the need. Ceramic and steel sharpening rods work well but I've never had either. However the they both follow the "use dry" rule that I apply to stones.

As to technique most knife making books are pretty good. but don't believe them if the first thing they tell you is "apply oil to your stone".
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 12/14/00 00:10:45 GMT

Does anyone out there know anything about screwplates that they could fill me in on? Any response would be very appreciated.
Wilson  <tomb at wnclink.com> - Thursday, 12/14/00 01:16:34 GMT

Screwplates: Wilson, They were common tools in the 1700's among clock, instrument makers and gunsmiths. They were flat, rectangular, had integral handles and multiple taped holes. The book Watch and Clock Makers Tools, Domini Craftsmen by the Winterthur Museum has engravings from a late 1700's British catalogue.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 12/14/00 03:44:19 GMT

Guru, last night i thought of something that you more advanced guys could have some fun with(if you haven't thought of it already). Ive heard of a soap quench and a super quench for, i believe, faster cooling. well i have a far far faster way, that could be used in a far more artistic fashion. Liquid Nitrogen!
Oh, whats that, you dont have a vacuum container or any of the other hassles that come it?
not to worry, i have an easily affordable substitute thats not only easy to come by(really) but is also ready to use.
If there is a radio shack or any electronic store nearby, they probably carry some kind of computer of electronic dusting spray, now if you use it in a manner its instructions forbid(upside down) you will have a super-cold liquid gas, easily aplicable to anything, with control straw(the thin red straw thingy) it could be directed to create a cooling pattern perhaps, or without it, it could be used to cool the whole thing!

I must warn you that i have used this stuff alot, it will scar you if you get it on your skin(severe frostbite) and if thats not enough, ive never used it on anything with a high temperature, if i werent at school id check to see if its flamable. ill try to get that to you as soon as i can.

Hope its useful!
happy smithing
ColdForge - Thursday, 12/14/00 13:51:48 GMT

Extreme Temp: Coldforge, Study some metalurgy and heattreatment texts before doing out of the ordinary things.

An ice water quench is about as severe as you want on mild steel. On medium carbon steels it is likely to create cracking and on high carbon steels outright breakage. Most quenching mediums are warmed before using. The only time ice is used in the mix for higher carbon steels is when the parts are very large.

"Superquench" is a special surfactant mix that prevents bubbles from clinging to the surface of low carbon steels when quenching in order to produce a hard part from a steel that is not usualy considered hardenable. It was designed as a replacement for a harsh industrial chemical that was taken out of use. It is only a slightly more sever quench than brine but that slight difference is enough. It is still used at normal room temperature or warmer.

There are a few steels (not many) that benifit from cyrogenic treatment. However, this is not a shock treatment. The steel is cooled well into the sub-zero range before the cryogenic treatment. It is then alowed to warm normaly.

Most steels lose ductility at low temperatures. We are not talking cryogenic, just cold. The kind of common winter temperatures that people easily work in, their tools may not survive. Country folk have known for centuries to keep their axe warmed in the house. In artic construction engines are kept running 24hr a day and the machinery must often be designed and built with special steels that are not brittle at low temperatures.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 12/14/00 14:55:37 GMT

Sharp Knives:
Whenever I sharpen a knife for someone, I warn him or her that it is a cutting tool, not a pry bar, screw driver etc, etc, etc. I also warn them to be careful as they WILL cut themselves with the knife as it is SHARP! And they most always come back and tell me that they have cut themselves and WOW that knife is SHARP!

I do it with DRY stones also! I have 3 stones I use. A carburundum(sp) that is as rough as a corncob on one side and not much finer on the other, made by Norton. A Japanese water stone that works out to about 800 grit and a BLACK Arkansas stone that is smooth as glass and 3 times harder!

To sharpen a knife I first set the angle for the blade in use, narrow for like a fillet knife and wide for an ax for example. I move the knife any direction that I need to so that I grind the first angel on the first side of the knife until you can just feel a burr come up on the OPPOSITE side of the edge. Then I turn the knife over so that I can work on the second side of the blade in the same manor and angle. When a burr comes up on the first side of the edge I switch to the water stone. This is more for cosmetic reasons than anything else as the first stone will leave gouge marks in the blade. I use the same angles and smooth out the angle I ground on both sides. The motion of the blade is still random. I then life the spine of the knife up a few degrees and grind a second angle on the blade until the burr comes up on each side as before, again with a random motion. The last step is on the Black Arkansas stone; the spine of the blade is raised up a few more degrees to form a 3-angle edge. This last step is with the knife slicing forward on the stone like you were trying to cut the stone. I only make one pass on each side of the blade at a time and the goal is to remove any burrs that remain on he blade. Each time the edge passes over the stone there is less and less pressure on the edge until there is only the weight of the blade itself.

The result is an edge that will shave you anywhere you wish to try J.

You can also sharpen a knife with sandpaper if you need to; you just won't achieve quite as sharp of an edge. You start with say 80 grit wet/dry move to 400 wet/dry and then to 800 wet/dry. This will make a passable cutting edge if you have a good flat hard surface under the sandpaper.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Thursday, 12/14/00 15:11:25 GMT

Scout Stuff(TM) is a newspaper that sells Boy Scout *Collectables* (read $$$$) like old Blacksmithing MB books. I thought I wanted one too, but not *that* badly. I ran in to them at NOAC last year, seem like good folks. Web page is www.streamwood.net, also www.ebay.com seller name swappraiser.

I have never had much problem sharpening knives and tools, and i've got the scars to prove it! :-) For the hopeless, I usually recommend a kit that holds an angle like Lansky or Smith. They just dont work well on S-shaped blades or Moran grinds.
John McPherson  <ahylton at vnet.net> - Thursday, 12/14/00 17:25:20 GMT

Sorry guru, youre right, i should have realized that extreme temperature alterations as i had contemplated would more than likely destroy most practical use stock, tools, or pieces. I have an outstanding book about industrial processes for production, very thick book, mostly about metal, i read it in bed at night, but i need to do some more assiduous research on your suggested topics, and i will.

And guru, if you can think of any way i could get some pictures of my work, tools, or ideas, to you, i would appreciate it. but i dont want to inconvenience you, so if you're a bit busy for that i understand.
Thx Alot.
ColdForge - Thursday, 12/14/00 19:15:56 GMT

ok, its time to admit my problem, my anvil, which i was once so proud of, is bad. its one of those RR. anvils its pounding surface is about 13 inches by 2.5 inches and has a make-shift horn carved out of one end. now, that wouldnt be too bad if it werent for the fact that the top of it isnt ground flat at all, and the thing has a crease down the whole length that prevents use of about an inch of the width. the other problems: I have it sitting on my basement floor, i work sitting on a foot stool. and
as i work my hammer bounces in all sorts of directions while my anvil scoots its way around on the floor, my work always has more peen marks than i can deal with without losing my mind...........Well, now that ive dispelled any ideas that i had a sufficient workspace, Any suggestions?
ColdForge - Thursday, 12/14/00 22:38:12 GMT

Problems: Bouncing the anvil around on the floor is your fault. . In almost every part of the country a log or tree stump can be pickup up at curbside by any enterprising individual. Failing that a wood box can be made from scraps that is as stout as a stump and a lot more portable. There is a sketch pf the style I build in our anvil series. If nothing else bolt it to a slab of wood. It will bounce less and you may still have your hearing when you are 21.

RR rail anvils are made and used wrong. Look on the iForge page for a design and the why. There is also a cheap anvil that can be ordered from anywhere in the country in our anvil series that is 100 times better than a RR anvil and actualy very close to what was used for the first two millenia of the iron age and is STILL used by the Japanese sword smith. OBTW, The Japanese smith sits cross legged at an anvil that sets only inches above the earth, most of it being buried. The short anvil works if you choose to work that way.

THINK about the way you work. If its not working then you are not thinking. Have you read my Getting Started article? The New York Times reviewer picked out the most important phrase in a brief scan of it and then quoted it. Can you?

Others have faced most of your problems and the answers are here if you dig for them or perhaps in your own mind if you think about them. You've heard the phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", well if its broke or doesn't work, then stop and fix it. Don't keep doing it!

Experianced smiths use every part of their anvil's working surface and some you wouldn't think are working surfaces. However, 99% of all forging is done in a "sweet spot" no bigger than the width of the the average work (an inch or less). Many old anvils actually show a worn dip from wear in their sweet spot. If you have a couple good square inches you have enough when you learn to control the hammer well enough to hit the same spot every time. Think about it, you have better steel and a bigger anvil than that used by millions of smiths over thousands of years. . . In a nice heated basment with a stout concrete floor.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 00:03:19 GMT

Good day to you, Herr Guru. I am beginning on a school project that deals with the history of blacksmthing, specifically in England. I would appreciate any and all info (such as websites) that you in all your smithing expertise could send me. Thanks.
bright-eyed teenager
bright-eyed teenager  <jonathan at blanford.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 00:16:46 GMT

History: Jonathan, There is not a lot of the history of the craft on the web. The best reference I can think of the Autobiography of James Nasmyth. See our book review page. The entire book is on-line. The history of blacksmithing in England is the history of the Industrial revolution in England.

Nasmyth was the inventor of the Steam Hammer in the early 1800's. This was perhaps the most pivital time in the industrial revolution and England was the center of the revolution at that time. The steam engine was still being perfected and machine tools were just replacing hand work. blacksmiths and machinists were one for a brief period. Besides the steam hammer Nasmyth invented the shaper and made many improvements to existing machines. He was also involved in the development of modern steel making and knew Bessemer and was there for his unveiling of the Bessemer Converter prosess. This is a good book to read.

Anvil manufacturing was a key industry in England starting in the 1600's. Their domination of world trade put their manufacturers in the position of building large factories and producing anvils by the millions. Along with anvils they supplied vices and many small tools.

Up until the manufacturing revolution in the mid 1800's thousands of tools like files, drills, pliers. . were made in small "cottage industries". A manufacturer would have dozens of farmers and part timers each make one or too types of items. A file maker might make round files while his neighbor specialized in triangular or flat. The steel would be provided by the merchant and all the files sold under his brand.

Prior to Nasmyth the biographic histories of James Watts, "inventor" of the steam engine tell a lot about the times (prior to Nasmyth). There was almost no machine tool industry to support building steam engines. Watts most important contributions to industry were actualy materials enginnering (how strong IS a piece of steel), the pressure guage and the strip recorder. He had to invent these basic things to improve the steam engine and make a real machine of them.

Prior to the 1700's blacksmithing in England was part of a LONG history reaching back to Biblical times. See Diderots Encyclopedia of Trades and industries for the methods used in France (as well as in England). Our Emile's links has links to some history sites (see our link list).

You will find that the public library may have more than the net on this subject. Find a copy of Alex Bealer's The art of Blacksmithing it is a general reference to hand methods that were universal in the US as well as England and most of the world.

If you get stumped drop us a line.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 01:00:47 GMT

i am new to blacksmithing & am trying to get started in knife making. I have had interest in it for many years. I am 44 an avid hunter/fisherman & have knowledge of gas welding as i am an hvacr tech. where can i find used equip. like anvils, forges, etc. or even how to make a forge?
howbunter  <howbunter at aol.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 03:08:56 GMT

Getting Started: Bowhunter, See Getting Started in Blacksmithing. Your local ABANA chapter can be the biggest help. Check Bruce Wallace's page for used equipment. He currently has anvils forges and vises at a fraction of new cost. We have forge plans and links to more on our plans page. There is toolmaking info on the iForge and 21st Century page. Look around. It will take a couple weeks to find and read it all.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 04:03:09 GMT

Bright-eyed teenager,
With all respect for the Guru and friends, but you should contact the Science Museum in London, and especially the Industrial heritage museum in Sheffield. If you are in England already (Darned dot.com. MY adress shows my location!) go there.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 12/15/00 09:42:36 GMT

Good call Guru, im done until i find an anvil.
ColdForge - Friday, 12/15/00 13:45:18 GMT

coldforge, guru was not telling you to stop. He was telling you to think about what you are doing and also to figure out how to make the tools you have work better. A RR anvil is a fine tool. perhaps not as good as a store bought anvil, but it is much better than what many smiths had to work with in the past.
Look at how small a surface a power hammer anvil has. Most are smaller than the palm of a hand.(well all of the ones I have seen) And it works just fine. Most folksbelieve that in order for an anfil to work it has to be mirror smooth and shiny. Not true. Also they believe it is not an anvil unless it has the 'traditional' look to it. AKA "London Pattern"(seen on Roadrunner cartoons) BUt for the majority of history anvils were just a blocky chunk of iron/steel
So take yor RR anvil, mount it to a tthe least a block of wood to kill the ringing. Or make a stand out od 2X6 or what ever you can scrounge. Learn how to control hammer. Learn to hit the same spot over and over.
One way is to take some wood(I had my son use 1 X 2 cedar pieces) and nail it to a flat topped stump other device that will be at your anvils working hieght. Hit it trying to keep all the hammer marks on top of each one. I also make a grid in pencil that was 20 " square, each sqaure was 2" in size. Told my boy to hit each and every square 10 times. And that I expected to see only one hammer face mark on the last square he did. Taught me how to control my hammer and I hope it teaches him....... and perhaps you as well.

Once you have hammer control down you will not worry obout how small the working surface of you anvil is.... unless you are working something really large.......
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 12/15/00 15:34:16 GMT

East vs. West: The earliest craftspeople had no work benches. They sat or squatted on the ground. All types of work were done on the ground or floor. Craftspeople of all types worked on the ground.

At some time in history the European's started using work benches and standing to work rather than sitting and squatting. The Ancient Greeks of the classical era worked in the Eastern style and it is illustrated on many ceramic vases. In the blacksmith shop the anvil was set into the ground and the master smith sat next to it. However, strikers swinging sledges would stand in order to but more power into their blows. This method of working is still used in the shop of the Japanese sword smith and in many places in India, Africa and Southeast Asia. This was not absolitely universal but was typical of most. However, the Greeks also wrote and studied siting in chairs and working at tables. This was new and they were the crossroads.

The West developed work benches and standing at them or setting on stools for most work. Along with benches the leg vise was invented. This was probably the most important invention that seperated East and West. Anvils were raised on stands which were often heavy sectiones of log set deep in the ground. Forges stopped being holes in the ground and became permanent masonary constructions, bellows became larger and were placed high off the ground. These changes in working methods very likely fueled the Renasiance and the eventualy the Industrial Revolution.

The important thing is that both methods of working, worked. The Eastern methods were retained by many nomadic people such as the Vikings and others. In cities and permanent shops the Western method took over.

Today, depending on the culture you may live in you may have a preconvieved idea about how things are done and what are necessary tools. Preconcieved ideas and lack of imagination can prevent one from making progress with what they have on hand.

I grew up with tools and benches and vises in the Western style of work. I had my first work bench and vise when I was 4 years old. However, I did a lot of camping when I was young and in the Scouts and used axes, knives whatever was on hand. Built both tree houses and dugouts. Work hanging from a tree limb, work sitting in a hole. . . All odd working positions. For many years I was an automotive mechanic. Working positions included a lot of laying on one's back and and those wonderful ones with your head stuck up under the dash with everything less than inches from your nose. Much work done in the blind balancing washers and nuts on the tip of ones fingers and then carefuly trying to think which way to rotate them when you got them balanced on the end of a stud. Painful, claustropobic, frustrating? Definitely. Later I learned to arc weld. A lot of squatting and working overhead or lying on ones back again (now welding a floppy helmet) while while hot metal rains on you.

The importance of all this is that in every case you have to THINK about your working position, your tools and how you need to move to perform the task. There is always a way. But you often have to think about it and not let preconcieved ideas get in your way. Often it takes relaxation and thoughtful breathing. Sometimes you need to just get away from it and think before going back to the job. In blacksmithing it helps to step through every operation with COLD metal. Set the work down, where are your tools? Can you do everything as quickly and efficiently as possible? If you can't work smoothly with a nice safe cold piece of steel then don't try it hot.

The point is to THINK. THINK about your tools, THINK about how you work. THINK about the advice given from those that have been there. Giving up is not thinking.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 18:27:13 GMT

Thx for the info guru and Ralph.
A few weeks ago i bolted my anvil to a large block of wood, though only about a foot higher than it was, the thing still hopped around (a little more even), so i put some foam rubber padding under it, but it hopped right off of that. recently i realized that it hopped so much it was throwing off my hammer aim. so i promptly removed it from the block of wood. i know that if i had a piece big enough, i could mount it on the end of the grain(like the top of a stump) and that would greatly reduce the bounce. Im raiding my local hardware store tonight and i plan to leave only when i have a decent stand. as for the sound issue, man that baby screeches, i bet if i didnt wear hearing protection, one blast from it would literaly shred my eardrums. I dont think my aim with the hammer has many problems, cold forging takes alot of swinging(and ive been at that for years) but most of my stock is round(rods or nails-n-such) so when im working on my rail the sweet spot is not on the anvil but on the stock, since the anvil is convex i try to hit right where the anvil is contacting the stock( its a real small spot) and when a miss comes along it jars both stock and hammer.

Thx again
ColdForge - Friday, 12/15/00 19:10:03 GMT

And by the way, you guys have always been there.
ColdForge - Friday, 12/15/00 19:11:54 GMT

Coldforge, and other tool-fixated newbies, LISTEN to the GURU.

I made my first broad-axe, 12 inches of welded edge, kneeling in the dirt close to my charcoal-fired pit-forge and stone-anvil. I did a pattern-welded knife the same way.
You young folks have it easy.....
Now where did I hear that before? (BIG GRIN)
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 12/15/00 19:34:28 GMT

wow Olle, sounds like you had it real hard, stone anvil and all. i could use a forge though. or a welder. speakin of which, i just raided the welding room again. i have brought back some pieces of square stock for a few of those cool little creatures on the iforge page and a large bolt with a smoothe convex head, that i intend to make my touchmark stamp with.

PS. hey olle, exactly what type of stone was that anvil made of?
ColdForge - Friday, 12/15/00 20:09:07 GMT

I am a new-comer to blacksmithing. I have purchased a 110 pound cast-iron Vulcan anvil and have determined that it is to small (and liable to break) for the projects that I have planned in the next few years (large gate hinges, legs for a redwood bench). I am looking to a buy a new large cast-steel (or forged) anvil (good to excellent quality) that I would be able hand down to the next few generations. Have you heard any comments on the Laurel Machinery & Foundary or the Nimba Forge anvils, and/or can you recommend any anvils currently made in the 350+ pound range? I have read the Anvils in America book but it does not contain much information on new American made anvils. I don't mind spending a bit of money (and moving it around periodically) 'cause I know I will get my money's worth out of it over the course of my lifetime. Thanks for your help.
brian  <bparry at banzigerbanks.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 21:49:56 GMT

Stone anvils etc.....
I was talking with Wayne Goddard a while back and this subject came up. He then tolded me about going to a tombstone place and asking if they had any left over granite.
Which they did. He took it home and it worked fine as an anvil.....
Remember a true smith is a person who sees opportunities and solutions to problems. Make the equipment you have work for you, or make theequipment you need. Even if it is not standard issue in material or looks.......
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 12/15/00 22:00:28 GMT

Forged anvils: Brian, Sadly there are no more LARGE forged anvils being made. Peddinghaus is IT, and their largest anvil is 275 pounds (124 kg). There are quite a few big old Hay-Buddens and Peter Wrights on the used market if you are looking for forged (which always HAS been and always WILL be the best). Many old anvils are in good shape but many are dogs. Watch out for repaired anvils. There are a lot of hacks out there repairing edges that should have been left alone or dressed.

Nimba uses very good materials and puts a lot of effort in to making their anvils right. The shapes look odd to many of us but the folks I know that have them swear they are the best. Kohlswa (Swedish cast) is still on the market but are not carried by the blacksmithing suppliers. I think Amweican Farrier supply is the distributor. My first anvil was a Kohlswa and my current big anvil is a Kolhswa. They are very hard and the edges tend to chip. Consider chamfering and radiusing the edges on cast anvils before use. Although I work on the edges I've never chipped mine but they all came to me chipped pretty bad. Maybe there is nothing left to chip. .

I don't know a lot about Laurel's anvils. There have been some foundries selling anvils that are either too low of carbon or not heattreated properly (big expense) and they tell the customer that the face needs to "work harden". Don't believe it. This is a cop out for poor materials and manufacturing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 22:32:22 GMT

Granite: Good smooth granite has the same rebound as as a first class anvil. However, you have to work fast and hot. Don't let the hot metal rest on the stone or it will degrade or spall. What granite lacks is mass. It is 1/3 as dense as steel. Anvils need to be hard AND have mass. A granite anvil need to be 3 times bigger than a steel anvil to have the same mass.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/15/00 22:38:26 GMT

Wrap a chain around the waist of the anvil to tone down the ring.
Ntech  <blackstoneforge at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 12/16/00 01:31:42 GMT

DK  <KD3MH at EPIX.NET> - Saturday, 12/16/00 03:32:01 GMT

what is a jump weld?
Graeme  <wross at norlink.net> - Saturday, 12/16/00 04:19:40 GMT

Hi ya guru,
How can I harden and temper a low carbon knife-blade.
Meaning with what kind of quench?

I read the article about making a ball on a steel rod.
You welded 2 pieces together. How did you do that.
Did you heat the material in your forge, or did you use an other method.

Thank you.
Dries Van de Voort  <d.voort at planet.nl> - Saturday, 12/16/00 14:45:07 GMT

Granite anvil:

Here I am again,
I just read about the granite anvil.
How big would it have to be not to break.
The company I work for makes, granite table tops, and grave-stones. We cut the needed pieces from the enormous blocks.
I found that if you hammer a piece long enough it will crack. The crack maybe superficial, or through the stone.
I tried this with granite up to 20 cm thick.
Dries  <d.voort at planet.nl> - Saturday, 12/16/00 14:51:32 GMT

would like to build a power hammer.I started blacksmithing in1970 have machine shop sholders and elbows about wore out.I saw Marc Krause nazel type JYH he had at abana 2000 conference .It look like what I am looking for .Can you tell me if he has plans for that one. Or how to get in touch with Marc
REX  <pricerex at aol.com> - Saturday, 12/16/00 14:54:32 GMT

would like to build power hammer. saw a picture of Marc Krause with his nazel type JYH. that is just what i am looking for. can you tell me if he has plans or how to get in touch with Marc thank you.
rex  <pricerex at aol.com> - Saturday, 12/16/00 15:07:50 GMT

So there will be no missunderstanding:
I do not claim that stone is a very good material for anvils, I just said that you can use it if you have nothing else, as often has been the case in low-tech environments, historical or contemporary. It WILL spall and crack.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 12/16/00 16:06:51 GMT

Hardening Low carbon Steel: Dries, The amount of carbon in the steel determines how hard it can get. Quenching in cold brine will make it almost as hard as any other medium. But if the steel is low carbon or mild steel is will never make a really satifactory knife.

It IS possible to "case harden" a blade. In this process the part is sealed in a container filled with charcoal (bone or leather charcoal) and heated to a red heat for several hours. At that temperature the carbon is absorbed into the surface of the steel. Up to 1mm is possible without scaling the steel if the container is sealed (with clay or in a stainless foil bag). This high carbon outer coating can then be quenched and hardened. Cheap "trade" knives were made this way. Those using them quickly learned to sharpen only one side of the blade so that there was always some hard material on the edge.

Ball on rod There are several ways. A quick and dirty method is to place a heavy hex nut on a snug fitting rod (5/8-NC on 1/2" works) and then forge the nut in a set of ball dies. The threads will mesh into the bar or weld if at a high enough heat (yes, in a forge). This is not a traditional method but it works.

You could also arc weld the nut on and then dress by forging. This only works if you have good enough welding skills not to undercut the rod.

The traditional method of making a ball on a rod it to start with a large bar, neck it down (isolate the ball material) and then draw out the "stem" or bar that the ball it on. If you need a large ball on a long rod it is best to upset the material. Upsetting requires a swage block or monkey tool with a hole to fit the bar. The upsetting is started by hand on the anvil either hammering sideways as the bar lays on the anvil or pounding the bar into the anvil face or upsetting block. Once the upset is started along several diameters of the bar it is reheated, then upset in the swage block or monkey tool.

Upsetting is the most traditional method. It takes practice and is much easier after practice. Drawing out a "stem" from a larger bar is easier but the length of the stem is limited.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/16/00 17:06:32 GMT

Laurel Machine and Foundry Anvils: I have used one of these (a 225-lber) at the John C. Campbell Folk School and found it to be a very good anvil. Very similar to a Kohlswa, actually. The one I used had been through six months of abuse by first-time smiths taking their first class, in many cases the first time they ever even saw hot steel. If it could stand up to that without chipping or denting, I'd say it was good. It had been radiused on the edges, which showed no chipping. The only thing I would change about it would be that on the one I was using the hardy hole was very sharp-cornered, both inside and at its junction with the face of the anvil. A few minutes with a die grinder would fix that, though.

Stone as anvil: I have, in a pinch, used a big block of limestone and a wood fire in a barrel to put points on rebar fenceposts. Not the best thing in the world, but it does work.

ColdForge: The best thing for you to do would be to get hold of a copy of "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" by Alex Weygers. It shows many methods of low-cost make-do smithing with excellent results. But don't just get it, Read it too!
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Saturday, 12/16/00 17:53:39 GMT

I am making a sword, it is the first time that I have done anything like this. I managed to get my hands on some stainless steel, but it is not as strong as i would like it to be, i decided to heat temper it. Can you even heat temper stainless steel? if you can how would i go about doing it?
Keith  <yxking nothingxy at aol.com> - Saturday, 12/16/00 20:16:46 GMT

One of the things I see daily is that people tend to be fixed in their thinking about how things SHOULD be done. There is no Should! It's whatever works, works. An anvil of any shape works because it's inertia resists the force of the hammer. A railroad rail anvil will work fine if the weight of it's center of gravity is under the hammer blow.
Look at it like this, take a bar of steel, say one inch by twelve. Hold it horizontally in your hand and hit one end on the side with a hammer. The bar will rotate away from the blow and have very light resistance. As you can imagine it will do very little work if you were to try to use it that way.
Now turn the bar to verticle, and hit it on the end. It will have a lot more resistance to the blow.
On the side you are trying to move just the end of the bar, but on the end you are using the complete mass of the whole bar and it will be Much more efficient.
Coldforge, If you must use a piece of railroad rail try turning it on end and use it that way. From your past posts it seems to me you probably are using hammers that are too big, you want the hammer to be lighter than the anvil.
A ratio of 15:1 is what power hammers use. Most of the knife work I do is with a 16oz hammer or less.
And as has been said before, READ,READ,READ!
Why reinvent the wheel? Get everything about metalwork you can and study it. Interlibrary loans, friends, ABANA, internet, all have more information than you could possibly figure out on your own without decades of trial and error.

Try setting you rail on end, use a lighter hammer and start with softer metal. Who knows, maybe you'll get an anvil for Christmas.
moldy  <later> - Saturday, 12/16/00 20:28:18 GMT

can someone please e-mail a clipart picture of a realistic
anvil i have searched so many sites with no luck-thank you
lisa  <primitivepa at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 12/16/00 22:28:36 GMT

can someone please e-mail a clipart picture of a realistic
anvil i have searched so many sites with no luck-thank you
lisa  <primitivepa at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 12/16/00 22:29:16 GMT

Stainless: Keith, Most common types of SS are not hardenable except by work hardening. They do not heat treat. 300 series are typical stainlesses of this type. They are hard to work. Stainless is tough to cut, seems hard but is actually soft and easy to scratch and hard to buff. It makes a pretty wall hanger.

There ARE hardenable stainlesses in the 400 series. 440C is a common cutlery stainless. It is precipitation hardening which means that you have to hold it at a steady temperature for a specific amount of time. You do not quench it like carbon steel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/16/00 22:40:16 GMT

[ anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter   Copyright © 2001 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC