WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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.
Please read the Guidelines before posting a question.
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]


Last question first, where are you located? Someone might have an anvil they're ready to sell, but shipping would add to the cost.

As for the Vulcan, it's got two strikes against it, in my opinion. First of all, it's a cast iron anvil, with a tool steel top that was welded in place in the mold. If the face should ever separate, it'd darn near impossible to replace. And it will NOT have the same re-bound that a wrought iron or cast steel anvil will have. And secondly, anvils on eBay usually sell for about three times what they're actually worth.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 12/25/02 00:51:38 GMT

Finding Anvils: Wellll. . . they are where you find them. I have several friends that every time they go on a road trip they come home with as many as their truck will carry. . and often at reasonable prices.

The next best place is at a blacksmith's group meeting. Every group has one or more "finders". If you can't do it then it is worth PAYING them for their skill. Most do not ask too much but the days of 50 cent a pound anvils is long gone. . unless YOU are a finder. See our ABANA-Chapter page to find a local group.

Fisher and Vulcan are cast body with steel faces. Some folks love them because they don't ring. Almost all other anvils are OK EXCEPT for the many recent cast iron imports commonly called ASO's (Anvil Shaped Objects).

Currently there are a bunch of Eastern European import anvils on the market. They seem to be good steel but they are ugly patterns. The founders have dictated the designs to be easy to cast and have lost the graceful style that has taken centuries to develope. It is sad because the one thing that is easiest to do in a cast anvil is make it ANY shape you want. . . But the price is right.

I prefer forged steel anvils but am not personaly crazy about the shape of the only one available in North America (the Peddinghaus). So I stick with old anvils OR what I can find. I've had several Mouse Hole anvils and prefer them to a Peter Wright. I currently have a Hay-Budden 200 pound farrier's anvil (almost same as a standard) and a Swedish Kohlswa anvil (cast steel).
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/25/02 03:09:14 GMT

How serious are you about molding these things? Do you want to do it as a buisness, or are you just having a get together and thought it might be cheaper that way?
Molding plastic is a very involved process. Before you can think about what kind of molding press to buy, you have to have a mold design in mind. The design aspect of these alone ranges in the thousands of dollars. Then you must build the mold. Plastic injection molds must be built to tolerances not in excess of .0002", and that is a relatively sloppy job. High production units must be built out of steel, so that adds a pretty significant weight factor to the equation also. How are you going to lift it into that BIG press. Even simple molds run into the thousands of dollars. See www.quashnick.com for a couple of molds that really work well, and are well designed.
Molding presses are generally very large, power hungry, HOT pieces of machinery, generating many tons of pressure to clamp the mold shut and shoot the plastic into the mold at an adequate pressure.
I hope this helps, and I'm sorry if I kind of rained on your parade, but I used to build molds for a living, and know a little about what goes into them.
   Bond-JamesBond - Wednesday, 12/25/02 03:49:14 GMT

A post-midnight Merry Christmas to all.

Jock: thanks for all of the hard work you've put into this site. Sort of your Christmas present to the rest of us. I am honored to hang out with a crew of this caliber (about .45 I suppose), especially considering those with whom I am usually associating with. (Gummint folks, heathens and Vikings! Sometimes all three!)

You and the rest keep up the good work, and I'll try to help out where I can.

Pax vobiscum.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/25/02 05:17:49 GMT

Kim, If you absolutely need something now that won't break the bank, see the review of the 110# Russian Cast Steel anvil on this site. It's ugly, blocky, has a horn like a ducks bill and the face is somewhat too soft for longterm use, but it sells for $80 at Harbor Freight. This is kind of like the "beater" truck you use to go hunting or fishing in. You will be able to use it until you can find a good used one. As the Guru mentioned, most ABANA clubs seem to have one guy that has a nose for anvils and they show up with a pick-up truck loaded to the springs full of the anvils the rest of us can't find. Plan to pay about $2 / lb for a good used one.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 12/25/02 15:27:36 GMT

Guru, as long as we are talking about forged anvils, are the Peddinghaus forged in one piece or do they forge it in sections and weld it together? If welded, how are they welded? Does anyone know what steel they use?
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 12/25/02 15:30:16 GMT

Guru, I've come into some saw blades(circular) 20 inches round and about 3/16ths thick. I guess they come form some type of commercial wood cutting saw. They are from salvage from a power supply co. Would they be L6 like band saw blades or an S series or an 1095. I have a list of Junk yard steels, but it only gives steel from a band saw. I havn't tryed a spark test yet since I got them Monday. besides what I know a spark test only helps with a guestimation of carbon co;ntent. JWGBHF
   JWG,Bleeding Heart Forge - Wednesday, 12/25/02 16:05:21 GMT

If you don't mind my asking, where did you get that list, and is there any way you could post it here?
   Bond-JamesBond - Wednesday, 12/25/02 17:48:18 GMT

James, old chap why dont you have a butchers at:

   adam-the-hidebound - Wednesday, 12/25/02 17:55:21 GMT

Merry Christmass all!
   Harris-JamesHarris - Wednesday, 12/25/02 20:45:03 GMT

Bond-James Bond
There is a copy in the latist Hammers Blow. You might get it by going into the ABANA web site. JWG
   JWG,Bleeding Heart Forge - Wednesday, 12/25/02 23:22:47 GMT

Anvils - After thinking about it a bit, I think I'll wait till the next meeting and see who has what - better to see what I'm getting, and even if I get a good deal, shipping is about 50 cents a pound itself, so that kinda kills the deal. I'm not really in a rush (just impatient to get started) and I've learned that you get what you pay for, so I'd rather spend a bit more up front than have to pay the same (or more) again right away when my "bargain" falls apart.
Thanks for this site - I have already found lots of useful information here, and I can tell I'll be hanging out here a lot! Our local group gets together twice a month, but it's nice to know there's somewhere to get advice in between!!

See ya in the glow
   KFeer - Thursday, 12/26/02 00:11:22 GMT


Anvilfire has a support group known as Cyber Smiths International that helps keep the anvilfire site solvent.

You can read about the benefits of membership on the link page at the bottom of this page. For the price of a cup of coffee a week, you can help. You've already discoverd how valuable anvilfire is, I don't need to tell you about that.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/26/02 00:18:09 GMT

Thanks Fred for the info. But why would you want to burn the surface of the anvil?
   trlee - Thursday, 12/26/02 00:46:55 GMT

Peddinghaus: They are forged in two pices and arc welded together at the waist the same as all the late Hay-Buddens. They do not say what kind of steel they are but they are very hard. They are electric induction hardened. Not sure of the details of the process.

When the all one-piece steel upper body anvils came about in the early 1900's the tops were forged of one piece of tool steel and the bottoms forged OR cast from mild steel. Then they were welded at the waist. The was the most economical process of making the highest quality anvil at a time when making anvils was as highly developed as it will ever be.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/26/02 03:22:37 GMT

Trlee, If you've used your new anvil and not found the clear laquer/ enamel coating irritating,annoying, or just an eyesore you might consider reapplying more when done for the day to pevent overnight rusting. Lighting up your anvil sounds like a good way to end up with a gummy, smokey mess! I can't imagine anyone placing anything other than lacquer on an anvils work surface because of it's easy removal with mineral spirits. Fred
   Snow Smith - Thursday, 12/26/02 05:23:38 GMT

Snow Smith,

For just overnight rust prevention, a shot of WD-40 works well. Wipe it off with a rag next morning, and you're good to go.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/26/02 09:51:20 GMT

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours. From my last question, I gathered you don't think much af Buck knives, which is hard for someone like me who has carried one for years. Is there a comercial brand of knife that you would reccommend? I can't afford a custom knife. I use my knife primarily for outdoor general work, camping etc. Like I said, I have used a buck folding hunter for years and would like to upgrade without injuring my wallet too much.

   Steve - Thursday, 12/26/02 14:35:10 GMT

buck like a lot of other U.S. Comp seems to have let there product slip from what it once was... that said, I would recamend the following knife comp.
Benchmade- good knives a bit pricey depending on the model.
C.R.K.T.- good price and fairly good blades, (some model seem to suffer from poor fit and finsh)
Kershaw- good knife fare price.
other comp. to consider ,S.O.G , Ka-Bar, Smith and Wesson.
any knife is a good one if you like it ..
   MP - Thursday, 12/26/02 15:24:43 GMT


You must have me confused with someone else. Although I will admit that Buck's are not the best they are all I have carried for over 25 years. My favorite is the little thin 505. It is thin enough that is doesn't cause wear out holes in jenas and cover-alls or their pockets. And the action is smooth enough that I can open it with one hand. I've had two. The first 505 was a limited edition made in 1976 with linen Micarta slabs. It got lost somewhere in my shop about 5 years ago and I hope to find it again one day. Its replacement has what looks like rosewood slabs but I am not sure.

What impressed me about Buck in 1974 was the fact that all their small knives opened with ease and smoothness unlike any other brand I had ever tried. No nail breaking force to open any blade. Even their smallest little miniature pocket knife (about 1-1/2" long) opened smooth as silk.

The best and the worst feature is the stainless blades and frames. Except for occassional cleaning of lint they require almost no maintenance. But, the stainless blades are not the best. They do not stay sharp long AND they are difficult to sharpen. Stainless is a peculiar beast, it is abrasion resistant making it difficult to grind, hone and polish. Yet edges wear easier than plain carbon steel. My Buck is almost always dull. Then again, I tend to abuse it, using it to scrape things off metal, debur parts, cut boxes.

Buck has some REALLY UGLY new designs that look like they came from the mind of a children's toy designer on LSD.

If you want a blade that takes a very sharp edge and keeps sharp longer than others then you want a good plain carbon steel blade. But they rust and oxidize from things like apple juice which is acidic on top of being sticky. Pins rust and need to be kept lubricated. Lint and pocket linings manage to absorb the oil quickly so regular cleaning and oiling is needed to keep a carbon steel knife in good working condition. But you can not beat the sharpness and mechanical durability.

I have a KISS attitude about the tools I use most often and so I carry a low maint blade. Tools that give me trouble end up in the trash immediately. And that includes everything from pocket knives, electric hand tools and software. . . You would not believe the number of software packages I've tossed within seconds of installation. The exception is MS-Windows which I would LOVE to s-can. But it is very difficult to work in the cyber-world without it. I DO keep my system free of any other MS products. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 12/26/02 15:49:35 GMT

happy new year to all of you !!! lot of works and the health for doing it in 2003 !!!
and now my questions, it's about rebuilding a liitle giant power hammer #25, i want to know if we can replace babett by a today ordinary bearing,and if we can easily find the kind of padding used for the clutch,and the copper nail for it,since i live in québec, canada,it's hard to find babett around home,thanks a lot having help us all the year 2002 along...
   machefer - Thursday, 12/26/02 16:20:13 GMT

Guru: RE: Pocket knives. I agree with you regarding carbon vs stainless. Every woodcarving tool I own is carbon or carbon-alloy steel for the reasons you mentioned. Martensitic stainless also relies on those pesky chromium oxides to keep it stainless and I wonder if the oxide coating doesn't somehow compromise the edge. Hollow grinding is another pet peave of mine. I was told that it was created to reduce the amount of grinding necessary to get a blade thin enough to get an edge. It creates a thicker taper to the edge than does a flat-ground blade and limits the number of times it can be easily sharpened. I carry a German-made,stag-handled, carbon steel, 4-blade congress and, yep, it certainly requires more cleaning and oiling than a SS knife. But it opens butter-smooth and I can keep it shaving sharp with a few licks on a strop. When a SS blade gets dull, better break out the stones.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/26/02 16:38:12 GMT

Just beene given a ring by my grand-mother, silver or maybe white gold with one oval "diamond" in the center and 5 littles ones on each side, on the inside of the ring the only stamp i can read is 585, what does that mean? thankyou
   melanie - Thursday, 12/26/02 18:59:09 GMT

Melanie: The stamp inside your ring is most probably a maker's item number. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of makers use a simple three digit numbering system to identify stock items.

Of more interest is that the ring has no grade stamp inside. Usually, rings made of karat gold are stamped, i.e. 14K, 10K, etc. Rings made of silver are generally stamped "sterling" or 92.5 (the %of silver in sterling silver). The absence of markings could mean any number of things. I would have to see the actual ring to tell you anything more about it. I suggest you take it to a jeweler who is also a registered appraiser or registered gemologist and have it examined.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/26/02 19:13:00 GMT

Thanks everyone for the help on the pinecones I really appreicate it. Hope everyone had a good Christmas.God bless everyone
   smitty - Thursday, 12/26/02 20:14:51 GMT

I have inherited a collection of metalwork from my husband's grandfather who died in 1943. I don't know much about him or these pieces and all members of his family are deceased. The pieces seem to be repousse' which have then been electroplated with silver or gold colored metals. Some are bronzed. The subjects of these pieces range from religious (Last Supper, Lord's Prayer) to patriotic (Gettysburg address, bi-planes in flight) and ethnic (Bavarian drinking scenes). I'd love to know as would my 22 year-old, history-buff son but we don't know where to start. Do you have any suggestions? I'm located in the Chicago area.
   Karen Hannen - Thursday, 12/26/02 20:41:44 GMT

Will a MIG welder weld on to Wrought Iron. Attempting to modify the jaws on an old pair of flea market tongs.

   - slattont - Thursday, 12/26/02 20:47:33 GMT


I suspect that it would, but I also suspect that a stick welder would do a better job.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/26/02 22:10:03 GMT

is it really possible to TIG weld a razor blade to an anchor?? i recently read this and find it amazing, an alloy steel to cast iron to say the least!

side note on anvils: i bought a new peddinghaus, 275#, a few months ago. not cheap for sure. double bick. the pictures in the ad that i saw showed a polished face and bick (horn, beak, whatever you want to call it). the one i got was, not surprisingly, not polished. hard to get used to the double bick style. i still think it is way ugly. new was the only way that i could minimize getting stuck with a piece of junk or something that i was not happy with. i do not have easy access to auctions/ect..this anvil is available as a single bick, but the heel is short and just as ugly. hammer on...
   rugg - Friday, 12/27/02 03:13:05 GMT

Terry L. Riddle
re: liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen. expansion ratio for liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen it approxmiately 800 to 1. That is 1 volume of liquid will produce 800 volumes of gas. The gassification of the liquid to produce sufficient pressure for plasma cutting and or welding and cutting is a delicate process. You can get LNIT or LOX in liquid containers with pressure regulators attached etc. Containers are quite large, check with your local welding gas supplier, they can give your pricing

   Woody - Friday, 12/27/02 03:28:33 GMT

Wrought Iron does not arc weld well at all (any process). The inclusions melt out leaving a porous mess. It gas welds better and forge welds best. The tongs could be over 100 years old and be made of mild steel.
   - guru - Friday, 12/27/02 05:08:28 GMT

Terry R; Assuming it isn't an alloy contamination problem from the origonal mfg, could it be that it was exposed to a splash of acid and never neutralized?
Sometimes lead will contaminate copper alloy surfaces and mess with polishing and patina formation.
Got the old post drill working finally ( #4 canedy otto) and drilled a 7/8 hole in 1/2" plate...made me appreciate the electric motor some more.
This was probably the first hole it ever drilled that approached being true. Poor old thing was way out of alignment all it's long life...perhaps 130 years.
   - pete f - Friday, 12/27/02 09:18:12 GMT

Karen Hannen:

That's a tough one for us here. We could provide you all sorts of information and sources for making this sort of thing; but as to its antique, artistic, and historic value; I'm on the same level you are. (It took me over a year to run down a comp on a Roycroft book my wife inherited.) Art work in copper sheets and foils was a popular hobby for much of the 20th century, so they may well have been pieces made by the grandfather for his own pleasure. "Of great sentimental value" as they say. This would be my best guess unless there are any maker’s marks, which would give another lead.

Like most art, any sort of monetary value is highly problematical. It all depends upon the fame of the artist, the skill of the work, the popularity of the subject, the fashion of the times, and the phase of the moon. The market for genre metalwork is unpredictable but not lucrative. The skill and/or taste of a great grandfather is for your son to take into his experience, and may be more valuable.

Sometime I suspect that art and antiques are the purest arenas of supply and demand and the vagaries of fashion. (I actually saw one of my crafts pieces show up at a church yard sale, several years after I had sold it for a craft-show price, at a yard-sale price. It sure put things in perspective. I should have bought it back and re-sold it in another venue!)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/27/02 13:32:34 GMT

Is there a rule of thumb for determining what sizes of square tubing can be nested or telescoped together ? I have some 11 GA 1 1/4" and 1" tubing that will not telescope because the weld bead inside the 1 1/4" is too high. I can file the bead out of a short piece and the 1" fits beautifully but this isn't going to work for those
tall material support stands I want to make. The curious thing is, the 1" tubing does not have the large weld bead inside that the 1 1/4 has. I have a metal products reference book with size and wall thickness but the weld bead is not easy to account for. I don't have much experience buying material and I was wondering if fabricators do something like alternate the gauge when they want tubing to nest or is it unusual for the weld bead to be so thick that the same gauge will not nest ?

thank you

   chris smith - Friday, 12/27/02 13:58:42 GMT

Chris, Depending on the ASTM specification to which your tube was produced, it could be "flash-removed", "flash-contolled", or "flash in". This refers to the extruded metal left by the High Frequency Welding process used to make the tube. It sounds like you have a mixture of all three. Note that it can all be the same grade, just different flash conditions. Removal of the inside flash on small tubing is difficult (it is scarfed off by a tool inside the tube as it is being welded) and making the tube with the flash left in lowers the cost to produce. If the inside is of no concern to a fabricator, this is the most economical way to buy the tube. For applications like yours, you need the "flash removed" grade.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 12/27/02 14:22:31 GMT

Hey, I am wiriting a fictional book, where the main character becomes an apprentice blacksmith in a setting that is approxamately the Middle ages/Medieval times, that type of era. I would like to make it as realistic as posible and I was wondering if any of you could send me a list of what an apprentice would learn and in what order. If any of you could do this for me I would be very thankful.
Thanks - Josh
   Josh - Friday, 12/27/02 14:50:09 GMT

Apprentice Duties Josh it depends on the shop. Many shops specialized in Europe in early times. In North America we reverted to the "pioneer" blacksmith shop where they did-it all and most people still think of blacksmith shops that way. However, in the North America most urban shops became specialized in farriery (horseshoeing), wagon and carriage work, archetictual work, tool production. Rural shops remained "general smithys" and there were true frontier shops up until fairly recent times depending on where you were.

In early Europe you had all the above specialties and more. There were armourers and sword smiths (different specialties) and lock and hardware makers. Also saw and file makers.

In the classic apprenticeship the boys started young and were used for cheap unskilled labor for as long as possible or until the need arose for skilled work (an apprentice graduated, or new meat was bound). There were many abuses in the apprentice system and many places had laws requiring that apprentices be properly taught. But this was an age were workers had few rights and cheap labor is ALWAYS in demand. Apprentices were "bound" to the seven year period and there was often a problem of run-away apprentices. In the blacksmith shop one skilled smith can make use of numerous unskilled laborers to do things like:
  • Breakup and haul charcoal
  • Clean forges and build fires
  • Pump the Bellows
  • Clean the shop, stables. . .
  • Power machinery (grinders, lathes)
  • Haul materials
After a year or two of this when the Master felt he was obligated to teach some metalwork to the lowley apprentice OR when the apprentice showed that he had a mechanical apptitude, the apprentice would then:
  • File and debur the work of the Master, Journeymen or older Apprentices. As mentioned above, one smith forging work can keep several workers busy doing the clean up.
  • Scraping items that were to have a clean bright surface (metal scrapers were used where we would use sandpaper or grinding).
  • After showing skill in benchwork (filing and scraping) then more detailed work of fitting hinges, cleaning plate
  • Make small forging (usualy nails by the tens of thousands)
  • Continue doing unskilled labor as needed
After several years of this type work the type of forgings would graduate from nails to slightly more complicated items. When the apprentice had considerble practice with the hammer he would graduate to helper/apprentice doing the following.
  • Striking for the Master and Journeymen. Strikers weild heavy sledges on large work. The Master strikes the work with a small hammer or pointer to show where he wants it struck and the strikers immediately follow with a rain of hammer blows. As many as NINE strikers might be striking the same spot in rapid succession.
  • More production forging of small items. Things like chain where there are many forge welds done over and over. Production work was the rule rather than the exception in the average smithy.
Over time the apprentice would be given more lessons and responsibilities. When he reached the point where he was doing practical work he would be shown how to make his own tools and given material to do so. Part of the requirement put upon the Master was that the apprentice would learn the necessary skills to be a Journeyman AND have a kit of tools. These would include hammers, tongs, chisles and other hand tools but not an anvil or bellows. These tools belonged to the Master (as did the apprentice as a bound laborer) until his graduation. The "kit" the apprentice was given was in fact tools he had made.

After graduating to Journeyman the smith was expected to do just that. Go on a journey to find work in other shops where he could refine his skills and learn different methods. After showing his skills to numerous smiths and recieving letters of recomendation the journeyman might apply to the guild to be certified as a "Master" smith. In many places this was the requirement for seting up your own shop or taking on apprentices.

It was a long hard system but at the end you were expected to have the modern equivalent of a Doctorate degree in you field. But many never reached Master status and were forever Journeymen working in the shops of others. This was largely a matter of drive and the individual's personality and was no different than today.

See our story page and "A Day in the Life of an Apprentice".

   - guru - Friday, 12/27/02 16:24:35 GMT


Sorry folks. We ran out of disk space and the error wiped out the log. This is a backup from the last time I downloaded the page.

We have been squeeking by for a long time and are in the middle of moving to a new server but it is a HUGE job. Not everything on the new server is the same as the old and all the files are needing adjusting. We have over 15,000 files in over 800 folders so it is quite a chore. If you see files with "anvilfire.NET" URL's those are ones that have been moved or are beeing tested.

The forums will probably be the next to move OR partialy move.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/31/02 02:03:56 GMT


Thought I'd been caught in a time-warp...

Guru: If any of us can be of assistance in making this transition go smoothly. Please don't hesitate to ask.
   Zero - Tuesday, 12/31/02 02:14:41 GMT

Too many picky details:. Things like the Secure Server Cert only working on ONE exact URL and the transition time from when we point ALL of anvilfire at the new space being anywhere from 18 to 36 hours. . . BEFORE we can test. The fact that we host a dozen URL'on this server (and more than one secure cert) and the the absolute paths for CGI's not being the same. . . Transfering all the counter data files at the same moment that the nameserver request takes place. Transfering a dozen live data files. . .

I'm trying to do SOME with duplication. We are setting up .NET spaces on the other server for things like the ringserver (it serves code and icons to some 200 websites). When we make the trasnsition and point the .COM to the .NET space then there should be no noticable change.

Then there is the ABANA-Chapter system with 50 some web-sites and about half being maintained by other folks. . . Just getting passwords from Verisign so we could maintain our OWN URL's has been a huge job. We have given up and instead moved ALL our URL's to another registrar. . .

Mail service is a complete mess on the new system (compared to what we have now). The maintenance system is impossible at the new host . . .

Thanks for the offer. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/31/02 03:39:32 GMT

While fishing near RR tracks miles from anywhere I found a very large piece of equipment labeled
"Champion Forge and Blower Co Lancaster PA USA"
Ihave pics i would like to send someone to see what it is just curious. it seems to have been water powered. on top of the base was a shaft with a four blade fan . Thanks

   Charles Pack - Tuesday, 12/31/02 03:46:02 GMT

I have had some trouble with forge welding. I just don't know what I'me missing. I have a wisperloboy propane forge that I run at 15lbs of presure. I use 30 mule team borax,that is what I was told to use. First I heat my metal that i'me welding a bright orange,flux it where I want to weld then heat to a bright yellow. When the flux is flowing on the metal I smack it with a hammer. Sparks fly but I do not get good fusion between the to metals. someone please help.....THANK YOU.
   Mmarlin Kerby - Tuesday, 12/31/02 04:52:23 GMT

you are doing an awesome job, thank you,
dont let the techno stuff get you down, most of the stuff you just mentioned is what lead me to get out of the internet buis ;)
   Mike Kruzan - Tuesday, 12/31/02 05:31:37 GMT


I suspect that you are striking the first blow too hard. If a LOT of sparks are flying, then all of your molten metal (which is needed to make the weld) is being thrown away with the first strike of your hammer. Hit the work hard enough to drive out the flux (NOT the molten metal) and "marry" the joint, then re-flux, re-heat, and finish the weld.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 05:49:39 GMT

To add to what pawPaw said about welding ( BTW PPW see how practise works... )
You might want to look at your weld prep.. i.e. scarf. I know some folks say it is not needed, but it can hinder you if you have a bad formed scarf. It should be slightly convex ( domed)

At least I have had better welds with them this way
   Ralph - Tuesday, 12/31/02 06:07:36 GMT


Yes, it does.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 13:23:25 GMT

To add to what Paw Paw and Ralph said (...see how this works?) I would have to ask what metal are you trying to weld? I am not the best at forge welding, butI've had good results with wrought iron and low carbon steel, and even some nice results with some alloys and medium or high carbon steel. BUT, I've also been frustrated with some poor quality rebar and some commercial grades of mild steel such as ASTM A-36, which meets the mechanical standards of 1018, but is of questionable parentage, somewhat like rebar. If you're welding some pieces of roadside scrap that you've toshed in your travels, that might be part of the problem. I've had it happen to me, often enough.

Foggy this morning on the banks of the Potomac. Here's another year shot to bloody blazes! I can't wait to see what the next one brings! ;-)

Oh Great Guru: Thank you for another year of computer-delivered wisdom. I'm starting to grasp metalwork, but as to computer- I tell our Alpha Geek here at the NPS: "I'm an axe user, not an axe maker. I don't know how to forge it or harden it or temper it or haft it. That's your job. I just know how to cut down the trees. That's what I'm good at!" In terms of this site, you're a heck of an axe maker, and we appreciate it. Please keep up the good work.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/31/02 13:34:01 GMT

Charles Pack -- SOunds like a blower cover or blower.. barney@vianet.on.ca Drop me a copy if you wish
   Barney - Tuesday, 12/31/02 15:11:28 GMT


Is a blower. I've already seen the pictures.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 15:38:23 GMT

Mmartin Kerby et al., I question whether the surface of the mild steel needs to be molten to get a forge weld. There IS surface slop in your everyday forge situation. Our farrier instructor used to call the slop or soup "fleece" [don't know why]. The scale will melt whether you use flux or not. Some fluxes lower the melting temperature of the scale, the scale and flux melting together, forming a new compound. When you hit with the hammer, the soup should be squeezed out, leaving clean interfaces for welding, but temperature and cleanliness are important. The old timers called the metal "pasty" when it was at the correct welding temperature. Russ Swider tells me that the metal begins to lightly spark at 2,280ºF, but sparks are not absolutely necessary for a weld. And let's rethink the idea of hitting too hard right out of the fire. If you hit too hard, it is my feeling based on experience, that the metal draws, at least on the interfaces, faster that it has a chance to cohere.

Food for thought. One can weld two highly polished specimens of metal in outer space without flux or heat. Yes! Perfect cohesion, not adhesion. There is no oxygen up there to cause contamination. One of our Gurus, Daryl Meier, can correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that Daryl used this "outer space" or "vacuum" concept to continuously attempt to lower oxygen contamination down here on earth...in the area of the weld. Apparently, he pattern-welds billets at way below 2,280ºF at what is considered NOT a welding heat.

Again, let's rethink this idea that molten metal on the surface is necessary for forge welding.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/31/02 15:41:39 GMT

The mechanics of forge welding.
There has actually been quite a bit of research done in the are of forge welding or solid state welding or diffusion bonding. They are are same thing, but are sometimes achieved in different methods. The key things required are clean surfaces and usually deformation. In space there is no oxygen so you alread have clean surfaces. Also, in space, you must have very very flact surfaces. I'll explain in a minute.
On eath, we achieve clean surfaces by using flux. The reason for flatness involves some chemsitry. We recall that magnets of like charge repel. Atoms are made of of positive charge (protons) and negative charge (electrons)plus some neutrons which will be conviently ingnored here. Normally, the electrons from the atoms on one surface will repel the eletrons from atoms on another surface, but if you can force the eletrons from surface A into the area near the protons of surface B you get attraction. So if you had very very flat (on a atomic scale) surfaces that were very clean, they would bond without heat or deformation. Since we don't have this condition in the forge we use flux to get the clean surface and heat to make the metal more pliable. This allows us to force the two surface into such intamite contact that the electrons of surface A will be atracted to the protons of surface B. All this to demonstrate that no liquid metal is required to get bonding. Also, it follows that the larger the hammer used, the less heat is required. Bigger hammer=more deformation at a given temperature. I think I remember Daryl Meir saying that you could weld at 1200 F under a 100 lb hammer. Makes sense as long as every thing is clean. By the way, gold can be "forge welded" at room temp because of these principles.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 12/31/02 16:41:07 GMT

Forge Welding (maybe the final word). As mentioned by Frank and Patrick forge welding can and does occur at much lower than the melting point. Daryl Meier does indeed produce forge welds at what most of us think of as incredibly LOW temperatures but I like the others above cannot remember the specific temperatures. Commonly this is done with clean metal in a stainless steel tube with a little kerosene to combine with any oxygen in the tube (there is a vent to let it gas off).

Forge welding ALSO occurs at the liquid stage. It was commonly done on wrought iron with a liquid surface. The proof of this can be seen in old welds that have been etched by nature (as well as watching the forge welding of wrought). At the joint there is often a wide clear layer where the two surfaces were liquid or semi-liquid (pasty) and the natural slag inclusions have melted out leaving a zone (often 1/16" wide) of pure iron. In this type of joint striking too quickly CAN blow out the surface with the impurities. BUT normally when this happens it is a result of working too hot (a surface heat) or not giving the joint the moment it needs to solidify.

In normal forge welding the liquid surface is slag/scale and or flux. This must be driven or squeezed out of the weld. Thus the shape of the joint is critical (see our iForge demos on forge welding).

IF you start with a burned peice of iron/steel you will have little or no hope of welding it. Same goes for heavily scaled. Gas forges tend to scale work worse than other forges. Folks that weld laminated steel in their gas forges grind the surfaces clean and then flux very early (as soon as the flux will melt) to prevent scaling. Scarfing the joint will break of scale but if you soak it before fluxing you get scale again.

Forge welding requires practice and patience in heating. If you heat too fast you get a surface heat that cools too fast to make it from the forge to the anvil. Many folks do this in every day forging and wonder why they have to work so hard. Those that take time to weld can often produce good welds in mild and higher carbon steels without flux.

A36 (common hot roll) is usualy higher carbon than SAE 1018-1020. The higher the carbon the lower the melting point AND the lower the burning temperature. Pure iron and wrought are easier to weld because they can be worked at higher temperatures than carbon steels. THESE can be welded at a sparkly white heat but carbon steels are burnt long before reaching that temperature.

Practice, practice, practice. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/31/02 17:27:16 GMT

Guru, as a point of interest, most of the welded tube we use everyday is produced by forge welding. Flat strip is fed into the forming mill and made into a cylinder. The edges of the strip are heated using High Frequency (400 kHz) current supplied by a welder sized for the speed and wall thickness to be welded. Current can be transferred by direct contact or by induction. The edges, now nearly molten, move into a set of forge rolls that compress the edges, eject the scale, slag, and excess molten metal, to form the forge weld. Sizes from 3/8" x .004" wall brass up to 36" x 1" wall steel can be welded by this process. Speed depends on the size of the tube but common electrical conduit is produced at up to 1000 feet per minute. Normal speeds for steel are in the 150-200 fpm range. By the way, for steel, no flux or atmosphere cover is needed. The process is so fast, that scaling is minimal.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 12/31/02 17:59:34 GMT

Jock, I am not sure if this is the proper place to post this but, but I couldn't use my normal log in password into the Slack-tub.. By the By love your site and wish you good luck with your server move!
Later Steve
   Steve C - Tuesday, 12/31/02 18:24:56 GMT

Hey Guru I want to add my thank-yous to the many others and say I am very grateful for this web site. THANK-YOU and thank you to your many helpers. God richly bless you this new year. William
   triw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 18:45:09 GMT

My post wt go; how do I order stuff? Where are the prices? Thanx, Ron Childers
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 12/31/02 18:45:41 GMT

Guru can you tell me if there are any replacement bearings for champion 400 blower. what type of grease and oil to use as part of maintinace
   david - Tuesday, 12/31/02 18:52:14 GMT

David, i just took apart a champion 400 blower that was froze up, it uses 1/4" loose ball bearings,found at bicycle shops for pennies.
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 12/31/02 19:08:19 GMT


Not sure what you are asking. What are you trying to order? If your question is a general question, click on the STORE in the pull down menu. If you are asking about CSI membership, click on the link at the top or the bottom of the page.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 19:38:05 GMT


CSI can always use new members. Click on the link at the top or the bottom of the page for more information.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 19:39:01 GMT

I don't know all the fancy terms reference forge welding. But the method I described above works for me.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 19:40:00 GMT

Hi, the forge that I was talking about previously looks a lot like the Sears lever forge from 1915 but is rectangular, not round. Can you explain the action(similar to an old treadle sewing machine)? I'm not sure what I can add to make it work. Also, for you guru and the guys who have used the portable blacksmith shop, is there a problem with wind blowing smoke around? Thanks a lot.
   - John C. - Tuesday, 12/31/02 19:58:00 GMT

John C.,

Moving the lever up and down caused the one gear to rotate, which turned the blower. It was a transition stage, developed to try and get blacksmiths to move to the crank blower from the bellows. (we tend to be a pretty conservative bunch of hard headed individuals grin) Yes, in many ways very similar to a treadle sewing machine. The square firebox was probably (not certain of this) just a different model year. I do a lot of open air demonstrating, the smoke is rarely much of a problem.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 20:27:25 GMT

Making new years resolutions is a lot like picking up a piece of hot steel from the forge. It takes a lot of courage to do it and feels so good to drop it. HA HA HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL
   triw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 20:38:28 GMT

Does anyone know where I can order touchmarks for marking my work? Thank you Richard
   firetongs2002 - Tuesday, 12/31/02 21:07:18 GMT

I follow Patricks explanation about deformation allowing the weld surfaces to mate but I am confused about hammer size. My own experience, and from what I have heard, the practice of most other smiths is that a SMALLer hammer with light taps works best to set the weld. I had always imagined that hitting the weld too hard makes the joint spread and the shearing action of the surfaces as they slide over each other interferes with the adhesion - just as Guru Turley explained.

Perhaps it's different when welding with a power hammer but if so why?
   adam - Tuesday, 12/31/02 21:16:23 GMT


Kayne and Sons, advertisers on Anvilfire.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/31/02 21:29:54 GMT

When using a hand hammer, the difference would hardly be noticable between a 2 and 3 pound hammer. Also, when doing welds by hand, speed is more important than force, so the light hammer lets you "set" the weld and then you could finish with a heavier hammer. My statement about hammer weight was really directed more at the temperature need to weld when using a hand hammer of any size vs. a larger power hammer. Also, the shear forces you mentioned are not as significant when welding similar steels. If the metals move at the same rate at a given temp, then the shear forces will have little effect. However, if you are welding very different steels, like 1018 and H13, you will have trouble due to shear. In this case, the H13 will move much less than the 1018 and delaminatiion will occur. By the way, once the weld has "taken" the more deformation you due, the more surface area you will have at the joint. Think of it this way: You have a 1" square interface and you able to get this interface welded all the way around the edges, but have left a layer of scale in the center. As you draw out the piece in the plane of the interface, the steel will strech but the scale will not. This will expose fresh clean steel which will bond, increase the total area of bonded material. Of course, if you have a perfect weld to begin with, this doen't matter.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 12/31/02 21:46:41 GMT

Hello, i`m a german fan of old tools for metal-working.
Can you help me find out anything about my leg vise? It is stamped WRIGHT PATENT. I would like to contact the manufacturer for more information (or perhaps anyone else can tell me about age and original colour).
Best regards and a happy new year,
Martin Presber
   Martin Presber - Tuesday, 12/31/02 22:11:15 GMT

Happy New Year World :)
   - chopper - Tuesday, 12/31/02 23:00:12 GMT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2003 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC