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.

This is an archive of posts from December 1 - 8, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

You are completely correct, I mistook Colorado soda pop as beer...a profound error.I'm so embarassed!
Bob B. Usually, a fast freeze rod like 6011 is used overhead and that tends to give a choppy profile. DC straight polarity and as Chris notes, a short arc no matter what the method. I hate overhead welding and the inevitable hot slag in the armpit or ear canal. I'm determined to wear clothing next time.
Smulch: Your confusion is justified. There are differing uses of the same terms. The coke that is hard to start is petroleum or foundry coke and is dense heavy stuff that requires a constant draft to stay lit. The coke that the esteemed Mr Andrews refers to is the coke that is made in the blacksmith's forge which is light , fluffy and a pleasure to burn.
The term breeze also has 2 meanings...the fines left from a coal supply....and as referred to by JA.
This is a very old craft, passed down through a lot of different secretive lines. As a result, common terms have come to be applied differently sometimes. Makes yer head spin,
   Pete F - Monday, 12/01/03 01:22:47 EST

Can you please tell me what flux is needed for forge welding and how do I go about it? Thank you
   Noel Miller - Monday, 12/01/03 02:39:49 EST

Perhaps the old admonition alluding to "buying a pig in a poke" should be amended to cover "coke in a poke".
   3dogs - Monday, 12/01/03 03:42:13 EST

T Gold, You can heat treat spring steel in water for most tools. For anything really thin I would use oil; not as fast a quench. Navigate Anvilfire to FAQs. There is a good treatise on heat treating there. You need some spring steel?
There should be an auto body shop near you. Make friends with the owner, explain what you are doing and he or she will probably be happy for you to take whatever you want; just bring your own tools and don't sue if you trip and break your neck...
   Ron Childers - Monday, 12/01/03 09:18:52 EST

Posted on the forum this morning and got a double post. Did another and it double posted again. Is the trouble on your end or mine? Thanks for checking.
   Brian C - Monday, 12/01/03 09:24:50 EST

T gold, Another good sorce for spring steel is garage door springs, there is 75 feet of 1/4 to 3/8 steel in the type that wind up over the door. heat 6" of the spring in a gas forge and place the spring over a pipe in your vise and you can walk off about 15' of spring. warning do not remove the wind up type spring unless you have been trained to do so. There is a lot of energy stored in the spring and it can get ya. Garage door installers will have stacks of old springs.
   habu - Monday, 12/01/03 09:48:52 EST

Elliott-Cardiff #1 punch and shear... i recently brought one for my wrought iron business, she's a lovely machine which crops/punches/notches, I've spent countless hours seaching for information on this machine. Particularly, I am chasing history/true age/and a copy of it's capacity plate(mine is missing) Does anyone know anything about them or know of any in existance? They were made by the B.Elliott-Group. London 1950's
   mark power - Monday, 12/01/03 10:00:02 EST

Pocohantus Coal---remember that Pocohantus is a "group" term and so varies wildly depending on which particular member you are looking at, Poco #3 is generally thought the platonic ideal of smithing coal.

All them multi posts---I feel a breeze, I mean slight wind out there.

Plan to drag out the welder and make some hardy tooling today and a bit of "Yard Art" for Xmas presents...they have been getting forged stuff so this will be a change for them...now to get them on a plane and through the Denver "crush-a-matic baggage handling system" (one year I was given a new suitcase and on it's *first* trip it was totally destroyed at Denver and the colour was no longer available for replacement---chose cause it was an oddball colour)


   Thomas P - Monday, 12/01/03 10:44:15 EST

Forge Welding and Flux: Noel, See our iForge page demos on welding (#95 - #96) and FAQ page for Borax information.
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 11:13:28 EST

question on drifts: what degree of oversize should be used for drifting? if a 1/2" square drift is used to pass a 1/2" bar through, the hole, when cooled, will not allow the 1/2" bar to pass. what is the general oversize to shoot for? i have read that some will upset the drift in the middle, but i would prefer to start with appropriate stock.

   rugg - Monday, 12/01/03 11:37:47 EST

Double Posts:

We "fixed" something on the server to correct an IE bug using SSL and aparently it has effected more than SSL. Working on the problem.

The IE SSL problem is an IE problem with dynamic pages that has been around since IE_5.5 and Microsnot has refused to fix it.
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 11:37:56 EST

guru, what is meant by "oversize" sizes. i looked in the "metal store" and saw over size tool steel. when i checked the stock dimensions, they were not "oversized".
   rugg - Monday, 12/01/03 11:49:59 EST

besides the double posts I can get the log at the pub but can't get the chat. Sure hope it ain't serious!
   Jerry - Monday, 12/01/03 11:50:52 EST

T Gold, re quenching spring steel:
If it were me I would use oil first. Then if it does not harden to the xtent you want you can redo it but use water.
Water is more aggressive and as such you will run more of a risk of cracking the tools. Epecially if you are using scrap steel, and do not know what steel you really have.
   Ralph - Monday, 12/01/03 11:51:26 EST

Hot Oversizes: Rugg, There are two issues here. One is clearances in general. Normaly an on-size hole makes a tight or near press fit to a smooth part. So all holes that parts slip or screw into a usualy oversized. THEN there are two types of oversize, one for clearance, the other for tolerancing of multiple holes. You only need about .005" (.13mm) for a loose slip fit up to about 3/4+" (19mm) then you need to increase the clearance. For assembly with bolt and rivet patterns much larger clearances are used unless the parts are match fit (a pair drilled together). For smallish fasteners 1/32" (.8mm) is used and it jumps to 1/16" (1.6mm)at 1" (25mm). Small 1/4" (6mm) and less use half this clearance.

SO, most assembly holes less than an inch are .005 to 1/32" larger than the part depending on the application. For hot roll bar which can be .005" oversize in this range you need more.

Note that a hole drilled with an imperfect setup or hand sharpened bit will almost always make a .005" oversize hole. However, a tight drift is like a reamer and makes a near perfect hole.

THEN you have the matter of expansion and contraction. When you hot punch a hole it is going to shrink about 1%. A drift worked in the hole as it shrinks usualy takes care of the problem.

For common assembly work I would make drifts about 1% oversize. (.004 @ 3/8", .005 @ 1/2", .008 @ 3/4").
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 12:11:02 EST

Oversize Stock: Rugg, Most oversize stock is sold to the nominal that it will finish up to via machining. The amount of oversize is usualy given somewhere in a note but the given dimensions are "on-size". Ocassionaly this is only a few thousandths if the stock is machined or ground to size. NEVER count on the oversize to be available to use as the stock MAY be finished exactly to size.

Consider a wood 2x4. The maximum undersize allowed is 1/2". Years ago framing lumber was planned to the exact size. Then someone figured they could get a couple more pieces out of a log by using the tolerance and for many years a 2x4 was 3/16" undersize in both dimensions. Today a 2x4 is the MINIMUM size with no allowance for errors. They are 1.5 x 3.5" EXACTLY.

Recently they started doing the same with plywood. Until about 20 years ago you count on plywood being exact dimensions and use it for shims. Today common sheathing is 1/32" undersize. . . And the bigger the section the greater the undersize. . .

The point? To buy materials you need to understand the current marketing norms. Don't assume, look it up or ask questions.
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 12:27:52 EST

Weird. . .

I cannot get into the pub using IE at all. . . I hate Microsnot. . . AND its Monday and I woke up with a headache. . .

   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 12:38:45 EST

Thanks for the info on leaf springs, everyone. I look forward to trying it out; I may use some of that garage coil spring stock for jack tines if I can find it.

Guru, works fine in Opera... might want to try it, www.opera.com (Grin).

Still extremely rainy in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Monday, 12/01/03 13:44:21 EST

TEST: IE 6.0 Post Test - Chat still not working.
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 14:22:30 EST

TEST: IE 6.0 Post Test - Chat still not working.
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 14:22:31 EST

Test. I sent in some stuff that supposedly got posted, but later on there was nada.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/01/03 14:57:25 EST

Guru: Netscape lets me into the Pub.
   Ellen - Monday, 12/01/03 15:01:47 EST

Went into the pub using IE 6.0.2800.1106. No problems entering or posting.

   eander4 - Monday, 12/01/03 15:07:58 EST

Is blacksmithing an art
   michael cote - Monday, 12/01/03 15:21:42 EST


Blacksmithing is three things.

It is an art.

It is a craft.

And it is a way of life.

What more could you ask for?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/01/03 15:41:21 EST

Art: Michael, Like many things blacksmithing is an art, craft AND OR trade. The differences between art and craft are hotly debated among those that consider themselves fine artists and those that are artist craftsfolk. Many blacksmiths call themselves "artist blacksmith" and in German there is a special word "Kunstschmied" meaning artist blacksmith and in Swedish a similar word konstsmed.
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 15:42:18 EST

Frank, I edited out a bunch of duplicate posts this AM and may have accidentally deleted yours. Sometimes folks post between the time I check for an update and when I click LOAD (a second or a half). If so I am sorry. Editing these live files is tricky. . . And IE is still double posting for some people.
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 15:47:25 EST

guru, thanks...i would imagine that most of the shrinkage occurs when the steel has visible heat?? i also understand now about oversize; will allow minimal machining for "precision" dimensions; i dont plan on getting an accu-rite any time soon....

i also loath MS, and family of problems; that is why i got an apple for home. i also use the apple browser, which is not optimal for all situations, but i am willing to put up with that....

recently found out that a "slitting" chissel need the edges to be tapered on three sides, not just one. had unwanted square edges where the crotches should be because of this. experience...have had a hard time finding out info on how to make a slitting chissel. it would seem that rough forging and a belt grinder would work.

one more: need a reference to buy a "thermostat" for an electric furnace that i have. it runs on 115V and will heat to approx 1750F. it only has an off/on switch. any leads or advice is appreciated...
   rugg - Monday, 12/01/03 18:01:07 EST


If your electric furnace runs on 115 volts and draws less than about 20 amps, you can probably make a "thermostat" from an electric stove burner work. These are a proportional control, rather than a true thermostat. That is, they vary the percentage of a given time cycle that the switch is closed and the burner on. Usuallly anywhere from 10% on and 90% off to 100% on, as you rotate from simmer to high. A true thermostat will ned to have a thermocouple (type K should work), a bridge circuit and a relay to control the element. If you practice with the proportional control and a thermometer or tempil sticks, you can make it work pretty well for most things like burnouts for casting, simple heat treating of tools steels, etc.

Check at an appliance repair place to find the burner control that will be appropriate for your element, if you decide to go that way. For nifty ready-made (and expensive) thermostatic controls of many different types, check kiln manufacturers such as Paragon.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/01/03 18:13:48 EST

Someone told me once that blacksmithing was four things: an art, a craft, a science, and a trade.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/01/03 19:11:00 EST

Slit chisel is described by Schwarzkopf, 'Plain and Ornamental Forging'. Schwarzkopf's has a straight bottom with radiused corners. It's sharpened on the three edges. Some workers put an angled point on theirs,70 or 80, so that the point finds the center punch mark easily. Some have a curved bottom. In all instances the sharpening continues around the sides using grinders and/or sanders.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/01/03 19:20:59 EST

Slitting Chisel: Rugg there is a pretty good drawing in our iForge demo #63 on Punching and I tried to enhance the a close up of a slitting chisel used by George Dixon in the latest iForge flypress demo. It was a bad photo but you should be able to get the idea.
   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 19:48:02 EST

Temperature Controls: Most good high temperature controllers are pretty pricey. I've used the ones from Chromolox and Omega.

Before buying I recommend you get their catalogs and study them. They are like text books on temperature control.

These are industrial controlers and usualy expect loads to be switched by a relay (magnetic contactor). You want what Omega calls a "Limit Controller".

Using industrial controllers you will probably spend about $400 USD for the controller, thermocouple, well and accessories and a contactor. They come with wiring diagrams but you had better get someone with industrial control experiance. . . they expect you to know what you are doing electricaly.

   - guru - Monday, 12/01/03 20:04:58 EST

guru, Such fast responses to my questions! appreciated. i saw the dixon demo. he used a coal (coke?) forge, correct? that jig that he used to shape the opening after he slit the bar was interesting. any more details on it??

   rugg - Monday, 12/01/03 20:27:41 EST

I wired a glass furnace for friend several years ago and used magnetic contacter the was rated just above the current the furnace required. They would last 6 months about the 3rd or 4th replacement they were out of stock so with 100 lbs of molten glass on the line I got got a 200% of rated current contactor and have not had to replace it since.
   - Hudson - Monday, 12/01/03 23:38:50 EST

A big thank you to all of you out there. I am in the process of setting up a smithy, and the info has been a treasure.
   - joe momberg - Tuesday, 12/02/03 00:25:00 EST

Tourniquets. I had a finger re-attached with the use of tourniquet technology (The use of a pressure cuff and CONSTANT monitoring by an anestheseologist). They started with a known pressure on the cuff, and released it according to schedule. A constant monitoring of the blood pressure was done at the same time along with SP02 This is common practice in surgery. Many things have indeed changed in field medicine. My initial training for drowning victims was to use back pressure-arm lift. 30 years later when I had EMT training, this blew the instructors away. So did the neck lift and other assorted details of my early training. I will allow the American Red Cross and the American Heart Assn. to decide (and argue points over) the proper ratios for CPR. This is their purpose. Training and re-cert is a must. This said, I have seen people with proper training freeze. 4-6 minutes after oxygenated blood ceases to be circulated to the brain, damage starts (for the sake of arguement). If there is not an airway, you do not proceed further. Some of my favorite people in life are ER nurses because they get in young doctors faces and advise them of this point. Get the training. Hope you never have to use it (unless you are going into the field of emergency medicine). It has been said the most important tool is grey matter and I cannot say anything more important than that. Simple as A.B.C. but folks overlook that sometimes. If you work in an environment with a large body count (read many employees) find out what procedures are in place for emergencies. You should be briefed about this at your hire, and occasionally during the year. If you are concerned about specifics, discuss this with your supervisors/management. You may be surprised at some of the things you learn. A clear, concise emergency plan may be in place. You may also hear "Don't worry, I understand what you're talking about, my wife/daughter is a nurse" (rotflmao). I once almost replied " GREAT ! My nephew is an attorney ! If you need any legal help, I'll be happy to represent you ! ". Training is the key, followed by experience. Document the time you start. This may involve writing the time on the patients chest with a Sharpie (felt tip pen) when you start the code. If help ain't on the way you (or somebody)better call for help. CPR flat wear you out. Think. Pray. People can and do become CPR instructors without ever having been involved in a code. Please don't read any bad feelings here. These are simple facts. When EMS shows up emotions are HIGH, and feelings can get hurt. Paramedics become Paragods. Paramedics save lives. EMT's save Paramedics. I've been at accident scenes with bystander RN's (and doctors) that oughta been slapped. Think. No man is an island (even if he is a woman). This is not a gender based field (except to say that male and female are equally needed). Soft words and a teddy bear from a male may not calm the child and vise versa. This is a team sport. Emotions are not required, but are ever present. My career in emergency medicine ended due to injury. There is a 99.9% chance that my injury would never affect my physical performance, but I couldn't live with myself if I dropped a patient. I freely admit when I'm wrong for the situation or conversation. Get the training. Air goes in and out. Blood goes round and round. Oxygen is good.
   - Ten Hammers - Tuesday, 12/02/03 07:06:40 EST


Good message with good points, well made.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/02/03 09:33:59 EST

Is there anything I can add to beeswax to make it a harder finish? Thanks.
   - clinker - Tuesday, 12/02/03 11:33:11 EST

Clinker, Yes, other waxes. There is a variety of hard waxes such as caranuba or carnauba wax. Most waxes for various purposes are blends of wax. Bee's wax is one of the softest, parafin is a little harder and I think carnauba is the hardest wax. Candle wax, floor wax and most automotive finishing waxes are blends.

Drying oils are added to wax (or wax added to drying oils) and often accelerators such as Japan drier (a cobalt compound). Put these all together and you have made varnish. I always recommend to amature finish formuators to just go with a commercial product made by professionals that do just ONE thing, formulate and test finishes.

Lacquer is the best hard clear finish you can put on almost anything. You apply wax over the hard permanent finish.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/02/03 12:37:49 EST

Contactor Wiring and Duty Factors: Ratings on most devices are based on a duty cycle. Normal duty for a switch may be one or two times a day. A temperature controller may cycle every couple seconds. However, good temperature controllers have an adjustable dwell so that they do not cycle constantly. But once every 5 or 10 seconds would not be unusual for a small furnace. Large furnaces with more mass usualy cycle only once every 5 or 10 minutes. The difference between cycling in minutes and seconds is 60:1.

Duty cycles are converted to duty factors for most devices (light bulbs, motors, switches, gears. . .). There is usualy a chart with typical applications and multipliers in the range of 1 to 2. Light duty is 1, heavy duty 1.5 and sever duty is usualy 2. Ocassionaly an engineer will use fractional multipliers such as .75 for something like semi-annual intermitent use.

So, if you need a 30A or 2HP device as a minimum and the duty factor is 1.5 then you need a 45A switch or a 3HP motor.

Planned Obsolescence used to be a well known catch phrase but it is so embedded in our culture that nobody thinks about it anymore. Duty cycles and life expectancy are usualy well known on engineered products and calculated in hours. A 1/2" diameter difference in a clutch disk is the difference between one that wears out at 50,000 miles and one that lasts 300,000 miles (a life time). An 1/8" diameter difference in a wheel bearing can have the same effect. A .003" difference in the thickness of a light buld filament is the difference between an 800 hour life and a 8000 hour life.

If you want light bulbs that last longer buy bulbs rated for a higher voltage. 130VAC bulbs are sold by industrial suppliers. There life is 10 times that of a 120VAC rated bulb when run on 120VAC. I recently bought some 1 year warrented florecent bulbs at the grocery store. The fine print defines the 1 year life as 800 hours. . . A FULL year has 8760 hours! Over 10 TIMES the bulb's life. Average darkness would be half of that and average waking time in darkness for someone that works daylight hours would be about half of that. . . That is STILL 2190 hours! Almost THREE times the engineered "year". Taking weekends and hollidays off still doesn't help. . .

SO, when building something for yourself, consider the ratings of the components. Good commercial components often have very reasonable ratings or at least the have a clearly published life, while consumer goods (such as light bulbs) are marketed with well defined SHORT life expextancies hidden behind carefully crafted terms that are in fact meaningless. "Lifetime" usually equals the lifetime of the PRODUCT not the owner. . . so if it fails today or next year, that was ITS lifetime. And remember "1 US lightbulb year" = 1/10 solar calendar year on the planet Earth. Apparently the the light bulb engineers are from a different planet than the rest of us.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/02/03 13:37:07 EST

Lightbulbs: About 20 or so years ago I bought some 5 year light bulbs from National Handicapped Workers. The bulbs had a picture of a wheelchair on the bottom. They lasted so long I lost the 800 # to order more. The last one on my back porch expired about a month ago. Sure could use some for my welding rods. I guess they were so good the company went out of business because it was so long before anyone needed any more of them...
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 12/02/03 15:58:47 EST

As you may recall, guru, I have been trying to make some brake springs from some 1/32"X 3/4" wide, flat blue tempered steel. It is a Rockwell "C" of 47 to 51. I attempted to make a cold bend today in a vise and it broke off both times I tried it, before I got to the angle I needed.I'm beginning to think this may not work. My gut feeling is to add some heat. Anything else that you could add to remedy this problem?? Thanx, Toni.
   toni1595 - Tuesday, 12/02/03 16:41:21 EST

Rough service bulbs and traffic light bulbs have long service lives. Traffic light bulbs see severe service due to the constant switching on and off which is much harder on bulbs than just steady state. They have the longest life rating of any bulbs.

Bulb manufacturers know exactly what they are doing. A bulb that lasts virtualy forever costs no more to manufacture than the those that burn out monthly. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/02/03 16:44:13 EST

Toni, HOW TIGHT WAS THE RADIUS? Vise jaws are ususaly square to 1/3" radius. This is entirely TOO tight. You must make a controlled radius bend. This requires a bending jig or die.

If the steel needs heating then you need to re-temper SLIGHTLY softer. Probably somewhere between 575°F and 600°F up to a MAX of 630°F if needed. That means fine control.

If heated to a red then the original heat treatment is lost and is a mess in the heat effected zone. IF heated that hot then the the whole piece will need to be reheat treated.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/02/03 17:08:54 EST

Has anyone heard of or have any info for a heavy equipment company nemed "Hensle"? Why do I ask? I am setting up my shop and have drug home several chunks or "steel" to spark test and now have a large stack of cast iron anchors, door-stops and wheel chocks. On T-day (at -30 and under 12" of snow) I was led to a roughly 200# broken ripper. With help (turkey, scrap steel and family, what more could I ask for?) it was chipped free, drug out of the woods, and loaded into the truck. Subsequent (sp) spark tests look good and I think I have a new anvil. Now I'm curriouse about the ripper. It's a rather old style that mounts on the blade of a dozer and has probably been laying in the woods for 50 years. It has "Hensle" and the numbers "1506 H" stamped on the side. Anyone have a clue?
   - Aksmith - Tuesday, 12/02/03 18:31:34 EST

Octagonal High Carbon Steel Question: I like to use octagonal steel for my hot punches, like for eyes in animal heads, anyone have any idea what the steel is in old crowbars? Seems like it should have a decent carbon content. I also like old pritchel punches from farriers...thanks.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 12/02/03 21:37:25 EST

Ellen, I'm going to guess that most old octagonal steel has around 0.80% carbon, at least for cold chisels. Some of my old books say between 0.75% and 0.90%. If it's a mining drill, it's going to be 1% or slightly above.

A pritchel could be of different tool steels. I've made them out of W1, 01, S1, and S7, and H13. For hot work, I like the last three.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/03/03 00:41:36 EST

Thankx for the help GURU that really helps

   warlock - Wednesday, 12/03/03 01:43:13 EST

Octogon Steel: Ellen, As Frank noted it is probably some kind of high carbon or tool steel but it COULD be almost anything. You used to be able to get mild in all kinds of odd sections. . . including octogon.

Bruce Wallace makes tools for a couple companies. These include pry bars, lifting bars and joint packing chisels. All are speced out from 5160 hex stock.

But that doesn't mean that all pry bars are 5160.

A couple years ago there were inexpensive Russian titanium alloy pry bars on the market and folks were buying them up because they were cheaper than you could buy Ti alloy here. . .

I have two big RR-type pry bars that when I got them they were bent up like snakes. . . Got them cheap. I straightened them with a hydraulic press. Steel moved like mild. Easier than annealed alloy steel. I don't know what they are. I couldn't figure how they got bent until I saw a buddy using pry bars in holes drilled in rock to move the rock with a back hoe. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/03/03 10:07:55 EST

Where can I get a set of plans for a Junk Yard Hammer?
   Brett - Wednesday, 12/03/03 12:01:17 EST


What you are asking for is like asking for a roadmap to anywhere. By definition, a "Junkyard Hammer" is something that YOU design, around the parts that you have on hand or can scrounge. Some places, like where I live in the Virgin Islands, have very poor scrounging, so you may have to fall back to using a tested and detailed design using store-bought parts. It all depends on you.

If you want to build a good utility pneumatic powerhammer, check out the plans sold by ABANA. They are a design developed by Ron Kinyon and have been successfully built by many smiths. The Alabama Forge Council also has a design for a modification to Ron's air plumbing/valving that is suposed to result in a more controllable hammer. Check out AFC's website for more information.

   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/03/03 12:39:13 EST

Brett - At the upper right of this page, click the "Navigate" dropdown and select the "Plan File" link on that dropdown. There are several detailed plans and drawings for Junk Yard Hammers.
   Robert "Asgard" - Wednesday, 12/03/03 12:44:58 EST


You can also cut and paste the link below and see several different styles of Junk Yard Hammers.

   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 12/03/03 13:49:25 EST

Browser Weirdness: Well. . I can't figure it out. Suddenly IE doesn't work with our chat. Some kind of timing issue I think. . . I thought I had it working and now its not. I'm ready for about a year off without PC's. . . actually just a year off without Microsnot would do it. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/03/03 16:43:16 EST

guru, try an apple, or investigate about how it might work better for your needs. you might be surprised (pleasantly).
   rugg - Wednesday, 12/03/03 18:09:00 EST

guru, try an apple, or investigate about how it might work better for your needs. you might be surprised (pleasantly).
   rugg - Wednesday, 12/03/03 18:09:00 EST

Rugg, that might be a good idea, except he has to keep the entire site accessible by both Internet Exploder and Netscrape.
(spellings are intentional)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 12/03/03 18:30:22 EST

JPPW, i would be surprised if that would be any problem. my iMAC came with IE and netscape loaded up. i would speak to someone who knows more than i do. it is probable that things would work better and more efficiently.
   rugg - Wednesday, 12/03/03 18:59:44 EST

My computer works perfectly as long as I don't surf the web. It has to be a test platform for the web work I do. Mac versions of IE and Netscape are specific to Mac and do not work exactly the same as on a PC and do not have the same problems.

Until last week IE was working on the Pub. Now it is not. I did not change anything. It might be the server or the direction the wind is blowing. . . IE just plain says the page is not there. That is incorrect. So it is something else and testing changes on the server is a bitch.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/03/03 19:29:36 EST

Rugg, gotta keep it accessible for *other* people with Netsuck and Internet Expletive (Grin). Opera for all PC users, Safari for all Mac users, and Mosaic for Linux users... Down with corporate browsers!

Strangely sunny and cool in Honolulu, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 12/03/03 19:30:13 EST

O.K. guru. I think I see what your saying about radius. With a more gradual bend it may withstand the stress. I'll try putting a piece of round stock of 1/4" or more and bend over that. And I still want to try a slight heating of the bend area also. I know this can be done. I just need to figure out the proper method. Thanx for your input thus far.
   toni1595 - Wednesday, 12/03/03 19:37:43 EST

Hello, i'm under 16 and i got interested in blacksmithing about a year ago. I bought Alex W. Bealer's "The Art of Blacksmithing" and have decided this is something I really want to do. One problem, i don't know all the tools and stuff I need to get started, let a lone how I'm gonna get an anvil and make a forge. I live on a small texas farm and hope to build my "shop" in one of our extra large horse stalls. My main goal is to be able to make swords. I'm taking martial arts and swords are a big part of our weapons, and I believe that the only way i can "perfect" my sword forms, is to learn how to use them and learn how to MAKE them. Not in a big hurry, but i need to let my mom know ;)

thanks, candace
   - Candace - Wednesday, 12/03/03 22:23:33 EST

the pub is broken so I am just leaving a message here, I survived the surgery although I look and feel like I was hit in the face with a baseball bat but I got some really good pain killers to deal with that, will know monday if the surgery was sucessful
   possum - Wednesday, 12/03/03 22:41:25 EST

Candace; the japanese swords are forged in a simple charcoal forge using a cube of steel for the anvil and a blowe than can be build out of common lumber. You don't need much to get started. Have you read the "getting started" section of this site?

Ask for "The Complete Bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas for Christmas; but it will make a lot more sense if you do some smithing first.

Stormcrow is forging a swaord at the college he attends in TX right now; he might be a bit busy so you may want to look at the ABANA club list and see if there is one close enough to visit. 1 Saturday afternoon at the forge of someone who knows what they are doing will save a whole lot of time and trouble trying to learn it on your own!

Thomas (Interviewing by phone for a job in Albuquerque tomorrow, I hope I get it though the move will be "Interesting", books, anvils, triphammer, WI, Screw Press, spinning wheels, fibers, more books, tools---did I mention Books???)

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/03/03 23:18:39 EST

I recently bought an old geared head drill press. It is a buffalo forge press like the one guru shows on the iforge drill press demo. I believe it is missing a part. The long press handle(on the right hand side)has a spring loaded tooth that engages and disengages with a slotted bushing. When the tooth is lifted the handle disengages, but the mechanism to lift the tooth is missing. I can use a small rod to manually lift it but it will not hold the disengaged position properly. Does anyone know what this part looks like? If I had a picture or drawing could I make one?
   Nathan - Wednesday, 12/03/03 23:26:06 EST

Yes, I have read the "Getting Started" section and was impressed. I checked the ABANA site, like you said Thomas, and found that there is one in my zip code.

Thank you for the book suggestion, I plan on buying it.

Another question, though, I see a lot of people saying "a small outdoor riveting forge is good for beginners" but, even though i am inexperienced, find the one's i've seen unimpressive (small diameter and 3 inches deep). While reading Bealer's book, I really like the brick illustration in "The Blacksmith Shop" chapter, but maybe I'm just stuck on that whole "medievil" thing.

Thanks again.
   - Candace - Wednesday, 12/03/03 23:49:21 EST


I think that (through in-experience only) you are mis-understanding the amount and quality of work that can be done with a small rivet forge. I did public demonstrations for years with one and got plenty of Ooh's and Aah's with it. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/04/03 00:08:02 EST

THOMAS P; You're gonna love Albuquerque. Besides, it's only a 40 minute ride up to Frank Turley's place. My daughter and her family live in ABQ, and it's the high point of my year, going out to visit them. Now, If I could just get a good paying Millwright job out there, I'd go in a heartbeat.
   3dogs - Thursday, 12/04/03 02:24:16 EST

Can anyone help me figure out where I can get a nail header I have read of them but someone must make them. I would like to get one for my dad thanks for your help nora
   nononora - Thursday, 12/04/03 04:47:10 EST

Paw Paw, et al; I took the print-out of iForge # 66 to Amanda last night: a picture is truly worth a thousand words. It made the desired impression upon her. Also told her she would be a better smith and much prettier with 2 eyes and her face in one piece. Told her she had to read the entire thing before I would give her the piece of wrought iron she wanted but she was awe-struck. Didn't realize how much a simple wire brush could injure someone. I hope everyone views your contribution to the safey of our endeavor. You probably saved some eyes but we will never know how many. On the lighter side, she is making damascus bracelets but the timing chain doesn't show as much contrast as the motorcycle chain which she drug in last night. She is paying her dues as an apprentice and has sense enough to not worry about making swords, etc until she masters the basic skills.
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 12/04/03 07:17:04 EST


That's great! That was the entire purpose behind posting those pictures. Thank you for the feedback.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/04/03 07:59:02 EST


At home, the Pub is a no go. At work, where we have Win2k running old software, the pub is fine. IE ver. 5.00.3700.1000 at work. Hope this helps some.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/04/03 08:33:06 EST

3Dogs, I told you a million times not to exaggerate! If you drove 100 MPH, you could get here from Albuq in 40 minutes.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/04/03 09:01:56 EST

iForge #66:

I find this regularly posted/linked at Armour Archive and other pages. Paw Paw's our poster child for safety; and his blunt honesty makes the lesson all that more effective. I agree with Ron; who knows how many eyes he has saved, or will save, over the years. (And I always contend that a few good scars give folks a good rakish look- better some scars than maiming.)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/04/03 09:12:47 EST

Candace, one thing to remember is that if you heat more than you can work before it gets cold it's jusrt a waste of fuel and promotes grain growth that will have to be dealt with by mechanical or therocycling later...

I wouldn't want to weld billets in a rivit forge---but I have in a brakedrum forge that was smaller in dia but deeper and had a decent blower on it.

Thomas Let's hope I get the job!
   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/04/03 09:18:35 EST

Am looking for a simple, yet elegant design for a slide bolt for a door. Any links or places to look?
   Iron Mike - Thursday, 12/04/03 09:43:52 EST

Bruce; yeah, well, Scars are a mark of character,(I have my share & they say I'm a character),but I don't want any on my daughters, granddaughter or great-granddaughter - Amanda just told me her mother bought her 3 prs of safety glasses & a face shield for Christmas! How's that for getting with the program?
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 12/04/03 10:49:39 EST

FRANK T; I NEVER exaggerate ! (well, maybe a little.....sometimes.) The kids say that they do notice an upsurge in those roadside memorials after I've been there, though. hmmmmm.
   3dogs - Thursday, 12/04/03 11:24:46 EST

Pub problem. . . I found it. Rebooted the server. Should be working in a few refreshes. Same problem was causing double posts.

It was an IE fix we had turned on that was supposed to apply only to SSL. I missed the code that applied it only to the SSL port.

Sleet and snow in Central VA. School is out so my connection is slower than mud. . . Anyone out there using satelite? My brother has it and it is pretty slick.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 12:15:41 EST

No snow in upper east TN. We're a few degrees warmer, so it's just rain here for now. I have been considering satellite internet, it just seemed expensive seeing as how I'd have to get a new computer as well. Need a new one anyway, the old one has some sort of degenerative brain disease that isn't a virus. It seems to have been brought on by adding a new printer that is designed for current microsnot OS, and whoever wrote the code to retrofit to winders98 didn't do it very well. Or it may be the AMD processor it doesn't like; impossible to tell.
Regardless, the dialup around here is slower than the post office on a snow day and we live just outside DSL range.

Enough computer stuff. I baldly swiped PPW's patter about eye safety last demo I did (Nov. 9)and was gratified to note that while everyone chuckled about the seeing out of a glass eye routine, they were ALL wearing safety glasses by the time I finished. Of course, that may have had something to do with the molten flux spraying around the shop...
   Alan-L - Thursday, 12/04/03 12:32:23 EST

Candace, also check out Wayne Goddard's "$50 Knife Shop".

nononora, I think Tom Clark sells them. Look for Ozark School of Blacksmithing in Google to get a site that should have his contact info.

   Steve A - Thursday, 12/04/03 12:48:53 EST

Comment on Rivet Forges

When I worked at the amusement park for a summer, my big, bellows driven forge was clogged with a mouse nest for the first week or so of work. They had a rivet forge in the back of the shop with a handcrack blower on it. It worked fine, but when forge welding with it, you get quite hot because you are right on top of the fire. With the large forges, you are further back, and with a electric blower driving the forge you can go do other stuff while you worry if you piece is burned or not. Just some things to consider.

Candace-you may want to consider a gas forge instead of coal because 1) they are easy to build, 2)don't take up much space, 3) are readily portable, 4)won't burn you piece, 5)Don't take as much skill to use.
I have both coal and gas, and like them both, but the gas one is much simpler and faster to get going. It does have its limitations, but if you are planning to stick to knives and swords, gas will be fine. You may also find it easier to get propane than coal, depending on your location.

   Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 12/04/03 13:15:14 EST

Pub - Still Broken. . Driving me nuts.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 13:59:47 EST


Swipe away, that's why it's there.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/04/03 15:12:25 EST

PPW, There were a couple of people there who had seen your "demo" in the iForge and knew what I was talking about. I told them you aren't quite as ugly in person (BG)!
   Alan-L - Thursday, 12/04/03 15:28:12 EST

Ron; some presents are *Meant* to be opened early!

Well the folks from out west called early---just as I was coming in the door from a walk, still in my coat!, I think it went well; but they didn't say "Hang on the line while we trace it and send an extraction team to pick you up and fly you out here for your new job..." I'll probably know in time to go househunting over my Christmas trip to NM---I hope they are in season down there!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/04/03 15:31:35 EST


Sometimes I'd swear that driving users nuts was Microsquish's prime directive.

Way back in the dark ages when I went to college, Computer Science was a branch of applied mathematics. If programs didn't work the first time, you hadn't thought them through correctly.

Thanks to Bill Gates, his kith and kin, programming (& system administration too!) has become an experimental science: You never know if something will actually work 'till you try it!

Best wishes on the tracking down the fix!
   John Lowther - Thursday, 12/04/03 15:36:15 EST

Nail Header: nononora, Several people make these but most smiths make their own. Doug Merkle of NC makes them and so does Tom Clark of the Ozark School of Blacksmithing.

The trick to nail headers is the hole is tapered to be bigger at the bottom AND the nail must be forged with a taper to stop it in the header and let it be easily extracted. They do not work on straight sided bar. Both Tom and Doug's headers are made from tool steel or 4140 and dished underneith to make the area where the hole goes thinner (to about 3/8") while the rest is heavier. The top surface matches the bottom dishing and makes it easy to grind the top if the hole becomes damaged.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 15:39:41 EST


(big grin) Wish I could say the same thing about you! (chuckle)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/04/03 16:35:52 EST

Guru Sir how would i go about finding an aprenticeship?
Any help will be appriciated.
thank you
   Eric Parke - Thursday, 12/04/03 17:02:38 EST

Thomas, We all have our fingers crossed. We have a bunch of smith friends in NM/ABQ. Had one call me yesterday looking for a 1,000 pound anvil. . . Yeah, I got pockets full of them!
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 17:03:22 EST

Ron Childers,
Since Amanda's grandma is smart, and is getting her good safety glasses, heres your chance. Get her some good hearing protection, and maybe a decent respirator for particulate when grinding, welding etc. Then put it all in a nicly sealing plastic toolbox to keep it clean and nice to use. Then she's all set.
   - ptree - Thursday, 12/04/03 17:18:20 EST

From Ebay:
"Due to increased fraudulent activity with eBay, we reviewed terms and conditions and we need any user to specify bank name during registration. . ."

As a buyer I doubt that I will be doing any more business with ebay (sellers). This is the kind of information they wanted through Pay-Pal and I refused. They wanted my checking account information on TOP of my credit card information. Either my credit card is good or it isn't. Many sellers require money orders and the users bank name has nothing to do the transaction. Many I have delt with accepted my personal check. . .

Its a shame they are not doing more to protect buyers from unscrupulous sellers.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 17:18:57 EST


Darn good idea!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/04/03 17:55:09 EST

Eric Parke, Please see our FAQs page on apprenticeships.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 18:07:04 EST

Nail Header. I'm going to make it. Since the nail is tapered, the hole at the header bottom doesn't necessarily need to be bigger, but it does on a rivet header. The rivet shank, being parallel sided, needs a little slop to release it from the tool.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/04/03 18:07:44 EST

We were cleaning out our cousins garage and they gave a bounch of stuff. some of the things i am curios about are the files. we got three Nicholson x-f files ,#s 0, 2 and3.
we also got a very small post vice, its leg is aproximatly 2 and 1/2 inchs long, its jaws are 1 and 1/8 inches ling and it opens to about 5/6 of an inch and does not hanee any brand name on it. could you help identify were the vice came from and were i can get the rest of the x-f series files made by nicholson?
   - John D - Thursday, 12/04/03 18:10:12 EST

John, It is difficult to tell about your old vise. It is a "hand vise" However, the majority of these hand vises were made in England for the Jewelry and Watch and Clockmaker's trade. They started very small and came in graduated sizes up until they became bench and wagon vises and then full length blacksmith's leg vises. Dozens of sizes were available. In their hey-day they were such a standardize commodity item that they were almost never sold by brand or maker.

Many hardware and machinist's suppliers carry odd types of files. Nicholson was bought our by the Cooper Group in the 1980's corporate buyout frenzy. The line was cut back but they still make a broad range of files. Try the Nicholson catalog on the Cooper site. I'm still waiting for it to download.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 18:52:01 EST

what do you think about puting ball bearings in the seating joints of pliers ? and what is the adress to the cooper site mentioned above?
thank you
   - John D - Thursday, 12/04/03 19:03:01 EST

Ball bearing pliers? Why? How fast can you open and close them? Unless you have a blue suit with a big red S on the front and a cape, I'll bet you can't run them fast enough to justify ball bearings. :-)

Pliers get used under a variety of circumstances that subject them to dirt, metal particles, etc. Only sealed bearings would work at all, and they would add nothing to the functionality of the tool that I can see. A case of a hundred dollar saddle on a ten dollar horse.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/04/03 19:28:35 EST

Forges: Candace, A lot depends on what you want to do. Forges range from little things that can barely heat a 1/8" rod or nail to floor level fires for heating anvils and furnaces capable of heating many tonned billets.

A rivet forge is huge if you are doing jewelery or miniature work. I know a fellow that makes doll house scale miniatures that can but his entire shop on a small kitchen table. Yes, he is forging STEEL. Just small pieces. They have esquisite details and are done using all the standard processes (with miniature tools).

At Quad State Doug Merkle was using a "bean can" forge to heat 1/4" square nail rods to demonstrate making nails with his nail headers. It was powered by a good quality self igniting propane torch. The body of the forge was a 12oz size can or tube lined with 1" of Kaowool and ITC-100.

It is all a matter of scale. In coal or charcoal forges you can do a wide range of work fairly efficiently in a standard shop forge. But there are extreames where "normal" is too big or too small. In gas forges there is less flexibility. A big forge takes a lot of gas even if you are doing small work. And large work will not fit in a small gas forge. So a suitable sized gas forge, or more than one size, is very important if you are concerned about fuel costs of efficiency.

Small forges are good for starting out. You will not be ready for large work until you have put in quite a few hours. Keep your project size reasonable and you can do a LOT with a small forge. After you have put in those hours you will have a better idea what size forge you need. Then you can trade in your old forge OR keep it for small work.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 19:50:04 EST

Cooper Group: google.com, term=Nicholson, #1 site.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/04/03 19:52:37 EST

Great Guru:

I don't think that note you got was from Ebay! Looks like one of the many "phishing" expeditions that the identity thieves are using to mine for useable/stealable information. Even though the sites look legitimate, many of them are spoofs and dump ypou, willy-nilly at the fraud site, ready for fleecing.

I get them all the time. I used to refer them back to the various companies being spoofed, but they usually make reporting so dificult, involving two or three messages, that I just erase them as I come on them. Spoofing is getting really pervasive, and some very clever camoflage is involved.

If I need to order something from a legitimate site, and my "registration" or other information has expired, I just re-register. If they don't want my custom, they can just make it difficult for me, and I'll go elsewhere.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/04/03 22:00:08 EST


My reason for learning how to be a blacksmith, is bladesmithing. I want to be able to make my own swords, knives, and other "hand" or "pocket" weapons. Also, sais and iron whips will probably come up.

I'm going to buy "The $50 Knife Shop" by Wayne Goddard this or next week, so I hope it will also give me some ideas.

Thanks for you help.
   - Candace - Thursday, 12/04/03 23:35:44 EST

I strongly agree with Bruce, especially as I got no such note and am a regular eBay patron.

When reforging files into other stuff, will it make it significantly easier to grind off the teeth if the file is annealed first?

Rainy and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii. None of the rain is going over the mountains.
   T Gold - Friday, 12/05/03 00:02:20 EST

Hello all, good to see familiar and unfamiliar names all around. I admit it has been a while since I've kept up with the Guru's Den, although I pop in regularly to see what the general topics seem to be.

I noticed Candace's posts and thought I would let her know that I'm in Lubbock, attending Tech. If you're in therarea and would like to see some forging stuff, just give me a holler.

If you're elsewhere in the state, perhaps I can direct you to some other fellows.

Apologies for anything sounding strange at the moment; it's 3:50 in the morning, and I've been up working on my sword. :) Off to bed I go.
   Stormcrow - Friday, 12/05/03 04:54:24 EST

Ptree,I agree w/ Paw Paw- good idea. And we are using a coal forge inside- can't be good for the lungs. Thought about a first aid kit and an aloe plant too.....
   Ron Childers - Friday, 12/05/03 07:03:15 EST

Ptree,I agree w/ Paw Paw- good idea. And we are using a coal forge inside- can't be good for the lungs. Thought about a first aid kit and an aloe plant too.....
   Ron Childers - Friday, 12/05/03 07:04:27 EST


I'm at the capitol city. Well... the capitol city's metro area. It would be great if you could tell me some people I could go watch and stuff.

   - Candace - Friday, 12/05/03 08:11:28 EST


Don't forget Wayne Goddard's "The Wonder of Knifemeking", reviewed on the Anvilfire Bookshelf page. One book will tell you how to do it "cheap", and the other will tell you how to do it "good"; just don't expect to do it "fast"! ;-)

"Winter mix" (sounds like a tasty holiday snack, doesn't it?) is slowly clearing from the banks of the Potomac. More and worse due tonight. Might be a good weekend to spend working in the forge and sketching and researching at home. Longship "haul-out" voyage was canceled for tomorrow. The rain and snow and sleet was bad enough, but the 25+ knot winds and 4' waves got my attention!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/05/03 09:20:51 EST

Candace, down around there they have something in the water that produces excellent smiths! :-) Look at www.balconesforge.org
   Stormcrow - Friday, 12/05/03 09:25:23 EST

bout the last thing I need right now is a tropical storm or more rainfall. We just finished getting almost dried out from the last 20" of rain. Jeez!
   vicopper - Friday, 12/05/03 10:52:36 EST

That's weird...in case that last post looks confusing, it's because the first part got lost in the ether somewhere. It seem there is a rare December tropical storm that has just formed up in the Caribbean southwest of us. Looks like more rain and no work getting done on the new shop this weekend.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/05/03 11:06:47 EST


Go to this site: www.balconesforge.org and post your desires. This is our Blacksmithing organization and there are a number of Blacksmiths in and around you area.
   JWGBleeding Heart Forge - Friday, 12/05/03 11:51:30 EST

Wayne Goddard's Works: Wayne was kind enough to send us a copy of the $50 Knife Shop book and his Wire Damascus Hunting Knife video/DVD. We have reviews in the works and should be on-line in a couple weeks. I can recommend them both. However, you need to start at the begining with some general smithing and then study heat treating of tools before jumping into bladesmithing.

I am also working on a FAQ titled "Sword Making for Dummies" that covers the basics in option projects and has a long list of resources. It is not nearly finished but I have been sending links to it to people that may be interested.
   - guru - Friday, 12/05/03 12:57:08 EST

eBay: I HAVE been getting a lot of ebay spoof mail lately. . . This one all the paths led back to ebay.. . But it COULD be just an attack of some sort.

Along that line I have been getting dozens of mails that state, "Your credit card is being billed $29.95 for child porn". . The return URL's are from legitimate sites that have been picked by the hoaxer for some unknown reason. I suspect it is a porn spammer that has been tossed off a system and this is there revenge. . .

99% of the junk in my e-mail is stuff like this. In the near future I will be changing my email address and using contact forms only on anvilfire.
   - guru - Friday, 12/05/03 13:03:37 EST

Dear mister dempsey,few years ago you have published on your site photos of one vertical little mecanical (old) power hammer(blue color) with semi-circular springs. Have-you more these pictures ? how ken-i send you picture of my similar hammer ?
   dany - Friday, 12/05/03 14:15:49 EST

Dany, Try our "Power hammer Page", you may have also seen it in our news . . . there are many.

If the photo is a computer graphic you can e-mail it to me. My snail mail address is on our home page and on all the store pages.
   - guru - Friday, 12/05/03 15:15:59 EST

Brace yourselves, fellers,

I saw a trailer for the new Lord of the Rings movie, and it shows a sword blade at full heat coming out of the forge. The movie comes out the 17th. Get ready for the rush.
   - Don A - Friday, 12/05/03 15:19:24 EST

Ron Childers,
My daughter likes the AO Safety, Quicklatch style respirator best of any she has tried. Can be had with low profile particulate filters that make it very light. These come in sizes, and a small fits my kiddo. She's 17 and 5'-2"
This is a semi-throw away respirator, and is therefore reasonably priced. When you buy the respirator, ask for the respirator cleaning towelettes, as they get "eikyful"(her word) pretty quick, and the towelettes make cleaning out a snap. The plastic box should be either a toolbox with a gasket to keep out all the shop dust, or a tupperware style box to hold the respirator inside a nice toolbox. While you'r there get two, as you probably need one too as the best way to teach is by example.
Have fun.
   - ptree - Friday, 12/05/03 16:43:20 EST

While I sure that the "how do I make a $100,000 sword from chicken salad?" questions get old, maybe a few new converts will be produced.
   - ptree - Friday, 12/05/03 16:45:29 EST

Another question on forges:

I got a pile of limestone in one of my pastures and I also got a pile of cedar poles. I was wondering if I could make a suitable forge with these materials, and if I could, how?

Just a thought. Thinkin' of stuff I already got.
   - Candace - Friday, 12/05/03 18:26:57 EST

Candace, Limestone works for the low temperature masonry parts of a forge (body and stack) but will break down in the high temperature area (fire pot, tuyeer, stack intake). These areas can be common red brick, refractory brick is not necessary. If you want to spend the money the only place that gets too hot for some common brick is the immediate fire pot area. Note that cement mortar does not work in this area.

High heat breaks down limestone into lime and or cement.

Look on the Hammer-In for the recent link to a wooden forge. This is a common arrangement. This one has a refractory cement liner but most had dirt and common clay liners.

All a forge is, is a container to hold the fuel while air is blown on it. Simple. However, it is easy to make a shape that does not work or that is inconvienient to get work in and out of. A shallow hole in the ground with an air supply tunnel works. A flat table with a hole for the blast works. A flat table with a fire pot works better as it concentrates the heat. A flat table with a fire pot and a rim around the edge to keep fuel from falling off is even better.

Viking forges used a soapstone "shield stone" to protect the bellows from heat. The rest of the forge was a flat stone clay or earth surface. Old brick forges worked similarly on the fire side and just had a hole in the back wall for the blast. Oriental forges are a trough afair with two walls about a brick lenght thick and about the same distance apart. The blast comes in at the middle of one side just above the floor. This is a great charcoal forge for blade work.

In the US we prefer bottom blast forges and in England they prefer side blast forges. Both work. Bottom blast seems more efficient but requires an ash dump and graded coal. Side blast works with both charcoal and coal breeze.

Although a forge is just a hole to build a fire in I HAVE built forges that did not work well. These were cramped or did not have a good opening for the free flow of air from the blast. Most good forges focus the heat and have a large surface to store extra fuel so that it is readily available to feed into the fire as needed.
   - guru - Friday, 12/05/03 19:47:52 EST

I would like to know where to find a source of information for the care and repair of champion 400 blowers.
   - Vernon N. Reitan - Friday, 12/05/03 23:07:44 EST

   - test - Friday, 12/05/03 23:09:04 EST


This is probably the best source of information you will find. These blowers were made by so many different manufacturers that no one bothered to print manuals for them. To the best of my knowledge, there are no sources dedicated to the information you are looking for.

However, you have a group here, some of whom are no longer young but have a good bit of experience working with this type of equipment.

Ask your questions as they occur to you, and we'll give you the best answers we can.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 12/05/03 23:27:48 EST

T-Gold Yes rasps and files should be annealed before the teeth are ground off if you are going to make a blade out of them. If you are just going to forge them into hardware of some kind, like a door latch or some other thing that won't be hardened then they can be used with the "texture" intact:-) Most files shouldn't need a long soak time, but it will benifit from a long slow cooling time. Somepeople like to use ash, or lime or vermiculite... but one of your art schools kilns would be a great place to anneal, very slow cool... The grain in the file will be HUGE because of the longer soak time, and you will loose more to scale, but it should be dead soft, and your going to grind all that off anyway:-) Wire wheel as much of the scale off as you can before you begin to grind (you will get much better life out of your abrasives that way, scale eats abrasives for lunch:-)

To refine the grain after letting it get too big, you can thermo cycle the blade blank (file:-) heat to just barely non-magnetic and then allow to air cool to a black heat, repeat two more times. This should refine the grain, and forging the blade will refine the edge further. Some knifemakers like to thermo cycle a lot:-) before hardening, and before annealing, before normalizing:-)
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 12/05/03 23:52:36 EST

The electric anvil has a pictoral on building a primitive and portable forge using predominantly wood and brick that might be useful. It's at:

   eander4 - Friday, 12/05/03 23:59:28 EST

Vernon and Paw Paw, the fellow who gets the discs out on the Champion Forge Catalog, which are sold here in the "Store" specializes in rebuilding the Champion 400 blower. That disc includes the patent drawings for the blower, and I am sure if you get one or more of his discs on the different catlaogs he would be a good source of information on rebuilding the blower.
   Cap - Saturday, 12/06/03 03:48:32 EST

I've got the champion Disc and never thought to check it. Duh! Thanks Cap, I appreciate the tip.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/06/03 10:09:11 EST

Hi guru I am thinking of making a jyh and my query is this. Would it be acceptable or indeed practicable to make the anvil out of 4"x4"x3'high rhs (rectangular hollow section). Filled with molten lead and capped with a solid round section of manganese steel 6" diameter and 4" thick to which the actual removeable hammer dies would be attached. Or does the anvil of a power hammer (trip hammer) have to be solid steel for some purpose I am unaware of. My reason's for this request is two-fold, First I have these materials in the shop and second although my brain works like a twenty or thirty year old my arms are those of a 56 years old and carn't keep up hour after hour swinging the hammer, your's or any council wiser than mine greatly appreciated.
   luddau - Saturday, 12/06/03 10:32:02 EST

Anti freeze ... Up here it gets really cold.. I was going to use car anti freeze in my slack bucket. Its old stuff and have lots of it. Mix it with water. Are the fumes from this harmful. Going to mix it just enough to keep from freezing..
Cheers... To day -27 C out and windy..
   Barney - Saturday, 12/06/03 10:38:00 EST

If I use 1050 carbon steel to make a sword blank,what would be a suitable tempering technique for making a combat ready blade?
   Ron Horner - Saturday, 12/06/03 13:07:40 EST

AntiFreeze Fumes: Barney, yes they are toxic but not in small quantities. You have probably been exposed to more opening the hood on ONE overheated vehical one time than you would ever get in the shop from quenching.

The big problem with open containers of antifreeze is small animals. They like the sweet taste and will drink considerable quantities. The result is a slow death by liver failure. If you have pets or if your shop is not tight and cats or dogs can get in then it is a problem.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/06/03 14:04:23 EST

Ron, Define combat ready. Real live murder by sword or regulated sword play?

If regulated sword play most organizations have specifics on alloys and mazimum hardness. Start there. Then plan on having the final realtively soft temper tested with a Rockwell tester.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/06/03 14:11:35 EST

Thankyou JD... As for pets etc .. None here. I figure about a cup or two would do it for here. Starts to thaw as the shop gets warmer.. Like today..

   Barney - Saturday, 12/06/03 14:57:16 EST

JYH: luddau, Lead is never acceptable as a power hammer or treadle hammer anvil or ram. The reason is that there is NO REASON for using lead. But there are many reasons for not using lead. Just melting it and pouring it will result in contaminating you shop with lead dust (from drips and spatters). Lead is toxic and easily tracked from shop to home. You may not have small children in your home but you may have pets or grandchildren. . .

There are many applications for lead but this is not one. In other applications it can often be replaced with safer metals like tin or zinc. For all places requiring dead weight cast iron and steel are the most efficient and safe material to use. CI is cheaper than steel but steel is easier to fabricate.

You CAN build up an anvil. The top for the dies needs to be a fairly big block and then the rest can be various pieces under the cap. Long vertical bars bundled is better than stacked pieces. When pieces are stacked there is always an air gap due to imperfections and the result is very inefficient. Long pieces can all be attached to each other and the cap and be fairly efficient.

One build up method is to use four bundles of flat bar of about 1/2" x 3" or 3/4" x 3 or 4". The four bundles are turned so that the two on oposite corners are turned 90 degrees from the other. This results in all four bundles having a side with the stacked edges exposed. This allows for welding each bar to each other. The four bundles should be carefully stacked on the cap so that all the bars make good contact. Then they are welded to the cap. In a couple places on the sides collars can be fit and welded all around. This welds ALL the bars together at the cap and at the collars. The result is a mass that reacts as one piece when struck from the end.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/06/03 15:02:13 EST


If you mean to do someone in with the sword, I should advise you that doing so is a felony in all fifty States and all the Territories, too. Carrying a sword around for personal protection is ludicrous, as there are may folks just like me walking around with handguns who will react very suddenly and fatally if threatened with an edged weapon of any kind. BTW...I am a part-time blacksmith, but I am a full-time police officer. When I say carrying a sword around is a bad idea, you can take that to be fact.

A stick can be carried as a walking tool, but a sword is never anything but a killing tool. Either can be used in defense of one's well-being, but only the sword will automatically be considered a deadly weapon.
   vicopper - Saturday, 12/06/03 15:36:25 EST

We bought an old farm house and found what we are sure is a
big bag of fire clay along with sand the other owner used for mortering his fireplace. Can you give me a mix for this
and I think portland cement is included. Is this mix parts
by weight or volumn? And thks so much! (pgh, pa)
   goodridge - Saturday, 12/06/03 16:00:57 EST

Fireclay: Goodridge, There are many mixes. In the OLD stone chimneys the sand, lime, clay mix had to be mixed, then let set overnight to "slake" and then mixed again before using.

In high temperature applications the fireclay is used alone with the sand. The most recent instructions I saw called for one part clay to two parts sand by weight.

Since the proper mix for Portland cement is about 5:1 you probably need to reduce clay by about three times the amount of portland added. The sand and clay should be gradually mixed and wetted until a stiff consistancy and let set overnight. If Portland cement is used it should be added the second day.

There are fat and thin mixes (more or less Portland). More is generally stronger except when exposed to high temperatures. Note that a Portland cement/sand mix is a concrete and is much harder and slower to set than brick mortar. It is used with stone and should not be used with soft brick.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/06/03 16:47:11 EST

The illustrations for Chapter Four are up. Guess I'd better get busy on Chapter Five. (it's already written. grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/06/03 18:27:00 EST

A note on lead substitutes:
The Cerro company and presumably others sell alloys that are intended to replace lead in metalworking among other applications.
They have amazingly low melting temperatures..so much so that they can be cast into hi-temp silicon molds.
I'd hoped they could be used to replace lead as a repusse' back up ...so I begged samples when i couldn't get a direct answer to questions from the sales guy.
The stuff is prohibitively brittle for that use. The "Cerrobend" alloy, which melts at about the temperature achieved by an 18 year old on a hot date, has a fair % of lead in it. It will distort just fine under slow steady pressure ...but hit it with a hammer and it's pretty stiff till it breaks. From that test, I'm inclined to think that it won't do for repusse'...waaaah.
To console myself, I'll go check out chapter 5.
If you find value here at Anvilfire...step right up and JOIN the CYBERSMITHS!!!!!!!!!!!! or I'll pout, and that's ugly!
   - Pete F - Saturday, 12/06/03 23:09:28 EST

On filling tubing as a base for a JYH, lead is not acceptable for said reasons. Would the cutting's from turning brake drums do?
   Jerry - Sunday, 12/07/03 01:11:15 EST

Cerro Alloys: Pete, these are very useful for what they are designed for. They contain quite a bit of other metals such as cadnium that are as bad or worse than lead. Forget needing high temp rubber molds, they have one alloy that melts at under the boiling point of water and another that melts at body temperature. . . They also have alloys that expand (like water) when they solidify. These are very useful for bedding in machine parts.

Have you tried pure tin as a lead replacement?

For a harder than lead work surface file cutters use zinc. Pure zinc is fairly soft compared to the alloys we are used to today.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/07/03 09:57:13 EST

Filling an anvil with loose material: Jerry, think about it, the anvil moves down when struck, the contents would try to remain in place "floating" until the hollow anvil retured to position. Its a good idea for a lot of things, much heavier than sand but still lighter than solid material. And it would not be the efficient mass that an anvil needs to be.

You might try making concrete using the iron chips. This would make a solid mass out of it. Mix like you would concrete mortar using Portland cement, keep it low moisture and compact into place. Technically the cement should only fill the voids and thus make a slightly denser material than the dry chips.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/07/03 10:05:45 EST

Jerry/guru dont bother with the concrete and steel as a filler I have tried it and when the heat is transmitted to the concrete from the workpiece because it is almost impossible to have the concrete dried out completely the moisture is released from the concrete rusting the steel which expands and crack up the concrete and you end up with loose filling again that is why I thought of the lead I know of the contamination problems with smelting but once sealed inside the welded steel it would have been relatively safe and about four times heavier than a comparable steel section and greater dead weight i would have thought and with a thirty or forty pound capping I thought would have been ok ,cast iron is out that wouldn't last five minutes as an power hammer anvil and as a welder with twenty years experience I dought weather the welds would hold up under continual hamering stresses and distortion. still I bow to your greater knowledge and will persue another avenue of construction.
best rgds
   luddau - Sunday, 12/07/03 12:24:36 EST


I had a sand filled 4" heavy wall square tube for an anvil on the NC JYH. I replaced it with a piece of 8" round shaft. The difference in effeciency surprised me. It convinced me that when the guru says use solid steel, that he's right. (yea, I'm stubborn, what's your point? grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/07/03 12:37:46 EST

thanx paw-paw yes solid steel round bar was the next choice actualy I have a fifty odd pound piece for the hammer I may as well use the same stuff for the anvil I was just hoping to use the lead as I have a couple of hundred pounds of the stuff lying around here while I will have to purchase the steel, anyhoo steel it is thanks all.
   luddau - Sunday, 12/07/03 12:44:53 EST

Luddau; nearly every commercial powerhammer in existance uses cast iron as their anvil with a steel bottom die on top of it (I've owned 3 different brands myself that were done that way). Perhaps you were meaning using cast iron as the striking surface and there I agree that it is not acceptable.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 12/07/03 13:24:05 EST

Thomas cast iron or cast steel (big difference)
   luddau - Sunday, 12/07/03 13:40:26 EST

Power Hammer Construction: Derek, Most commercial power hammer anvils are cast iron. Usualy they have an anvil "cap" or "sow" block that is fitted to a dovetail in the anvil and it in turn has a dovetail for the die. The best anvil caps are made from cast steel, semi-steel or ductile iron. However, many were made of cast iron like the anvil. In most cases the anvil cap is there to be a replaceable part for when the dovetails are torn up from changing dies. Occasionaly they serve as a spacer so that taller work (or special dies) can be put under the hammer. A few early Little Giants did not have an anvil cap and they often have problems with broken dovetails which is expensive to fix.

In any filled tube anvil there would need to be a significantly stout cap welded to the top of the tube and a flange at the bottom. I do not reccomend this construction but many do it.

The bundled anvil I described above will work very well, does not require a huge hard to find piece of steel and can weigh as much as a solid piece.

Lead has many uses that steel cannot be used for. Dead weight and radiation shielding are both BAD applications for lead that steel does just as well without creating a toxictity problem. In the blacksmith shop lead is used as a backing for repousse (see the George Dixon iForge flypress demo) and is recommended as a straightening anvil for files. It is also good for soft faced hammers to use on machinery but plastics have replaced lead for that purpose in most cases.

Where lead is used in creasing of repousse' a groove forms in the lead and a new place is used until there are no more new surfaces. Then the lead is melted down and repoured to create new fresh surfaces.

The big problem with pouring lead is contamination. When lead is spilled it splatters into fine beads, much of it dust sized. This gets tracked from the shop to the yard to the house. If for any reason someone does a soil test on your property during a sale and if significant metalic lead shows up then you are in big trouble. It then becomes an environmental problem and your (or your heirs) may become financialy responsible for the removal and disposal of the contaminated soil. Most folks will "get away" with it. But what if you (or your widow, children) do not?
   - guru - Sunday, 12/07/03 13:59:05 EST

If you are in the S.Indiana area, boy do I have a deal for you. I can get large equipment axle forgings as scrap from time to time. Hows 5.5" shaft, with a approx 22" base abot2.5"thick about 36"long overall. Should weigh about 350#. Material varies, but most are alloy steel like 1541H or 4140. Tough to weld to,but easy to drill and tap.
   - ptree - Sunday, 12/07/03 14:01:42 EST

Anvil Cap: I forgot Bronze. A few Fairbanks hammers were made with bronze anvil caps. It is not quite as hard as steel but it is heavier.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/07/03 14:02:36 EST

I have a four burner N.C Forge which I use for forge welding. The problem is that the flux(borax) destroy's the refractory almost immediately. What kind of refractory is avaliable that will be more durable. Thanks, james
   james phelps - Sunday, 12/07/03 15:49:03 EST

James, This will always be a problem with the lightweight refractories used in many portable forges. However, there are things you can do to protect the lining.

First, if the lining or floor is severely damaged then you should probably get a reline kit from Centaur or NC. New kits have a solid floor rather than the thin refractory over kaowool board. If you try to replace the rest of the insulation with heavier denser insulation the outside of the forge will get too hot. See our iForge demo #148 on refurbing NC forges.

The new lining is very sensitive to flux. Coat the new refractories with ITC-100. Several coats should be applied and fired between coats. Over the ITC-100 you can apply a coating of ITC-200 or a layer or refractory cement on the floor and bottom edges of the walls.

AFTER all that, folks that do a lot of forge welding cover the floor with a piece of kiln shelving. Others use large terra-cota tiles from a flooring supply. These are cheap and replaceable.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/07/03 16:52:57 EST


Another thing you can do that will help prolong the life of the forge floor is to scrounge a piece of stainless steel that is the right size and use it on the floor of the forge. If you sprinkle some chips of broken up high-alumina or silicon carbide refractory underneath it, it will prevent any flux runoff from gluing it to the forge floor. Little sidewalls also will prevent flux runoff. SS is pretty immune to fluxes, and a fairly thick chunk will also add heat mass to the forge, shortening re-heat times. Of course, it correspondingly increases the initial time it takes the forge to get up to heat. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
   vicopper - Sunday, 12/07/03 17:42:01 EST

Candace and others,

The Balcones Forge Org will be having it's annual meeting the 28th and 29th of February in Marble Falls. The demonstrator will be Lorelei Sims. Her web site is: www.blacksmithchic.com. Also you may want to contact Joh "Doc" McFadzen at: doc@irontulip.com. He is in austin and has contact with some lady smiths in the area, and he may have time to insruct you. Austin Community College has a Blacksmithing course. Two of our BFO. teaches the course. For other info on the annual meeting go to the Balconesforge.org web site. Hope you can make it. There will be alot of Blacksmiths there that you can make contacts with. I hope this is of some help. Like the others have mentioned you really need to get the basics, and also ther may be some blacksmiths willing to loan yousome items to get you going. Our organization isn't all male we have a number of lady smiths also.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Sunday, 12/07/03 17:56:10 EST

I am tring to find out about hammerfest. Do you know where I can find a calender of places. I am interested in the Dallas Ft. Worth TX. area. Think you for any help you may be able to give me.

Jim C.
   Jim C. - Sunday, 12/07/03 21:01:43 EST

I'm presently building my fifth chefs knife and am using
440c stainless. The previous ones were made from old flat files and, well, you can guess... they did turn out okay, had a good edge, a dickens to remove material but were a good starting point and learning process. Also the handles were a lot nicer than the blades! The 440c is annealled / very soft and will need to be heat treated. My question is if this is something I can do in my shop. I imagine it will be trial and error at first. I have no forge. Just the usual torches, temp crayons, old bucket of baby oil etc. :) Thanks in advance. Cheers
   Smitt - Sunday, 12/07/03 21:32:27 EST

Thank Guru all info assimilated and a steel anvill it is.
Ptree sounds brilliant the only trouble is I live in Westerm Australia and freight could be a tad prohibitive.
Thanks again and
best rgds to all
   luddau - Sunday, 12/07/03 22:22:10 EST

Its the story of all our lives good things cheap somewhere we arn't. Sorry
   - ptree - Sunday, 12/07/03 22:36:56 EST

Ptree, thanx for the input.Your daughter is 17? You used to not be that old - And as I tried to tell that guy wanting to forge a mtrcycle chn damascus knife as a first project: "Make some knives first". Good forging practice is RR spike oyster knives. Material is cheap (free), employs the same techniques and can be done with a bare minimum of tools & no electricity. Use a worn-out farrier's rasp for a hot file to shape the blade....
   Ron Childers - Monday, 12/08/03 07:21:49 EST

Free?! Ron; I'll have you know, for those who are railroad deprived, that I've seen those spikes in antique shops at $3.00+ each. Sometimes at tailgates they go for a dollar each. The cheapest I've seen them is when we used to sell them at Markland events as "Nails from ye True Crosse- 25 Cents Each or Five for ye Dollar!"

On the other claw, my friends keep me well supplied with railroad spikes in return for me forging them into mini-stakes and anvils, so that's another cheap resource that can be used. (Also, obtaining railroad spikes at the source is less of a legal and logistical problem than trying to make off with 20 feet (6.0960 meters)of track.) ;-)

Cold and clear on the banks of the Potomac. The massive snows gave us a pass in Southern Maryland; the rest of the family had to shovel out further north.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/08/03 09:28:25 EST

RR-Spikes My first tongs were made from RR-spikes. A LOT of work and were miserable things. But when you are 17 you have more energy than sense. . Years later I made the mistake of trying to straighten them cold and they broke. . . High carbon spikes. . And they were not marked "HC".

When I started smithing I was using a few spikes that were laying around the shop (they seem to accumulate where there is metal). A friend saw me making those tongs and a week later he comes pulling in with his Triumph TR3 with the back end almost dragging the ground. . He had a full keg of spikes! About 150 pounds. He said it looked like it had fallen off the side of the train. . . It wasn't until years later that I saw a crew preparing to repair some track and as the flat car rolled slowly down the tracks they pushed a keg of spikes off every so often. . .

I forged a heavy cludgy knife from a RR-spike and it would not harden. . definitely NOT an HC spike. Those spikes got transfered from the rusty sheet metal keg to a plastic bucket and there they set rusting. . .

NEW spikes cost about 60 cents US a few years ago in low quantities. But steel has gone up a lot since then.

The railroads are very serious about trespassers and DO prosecute. In most cases the right of way belongs to the railroad (it is not just an easment). It is common for them to store sections of track and other rail parts anywhere along the right of way.
   - guru - Monday, 12/08/03 10:03:33 EST

I recently saw "Pirates of the Carribean". The title must be some oblique comment about Hollywood. Anyway, I saw the hero (the blacksmith) in a sword fight with the Pirate Captain. The blacksmith was using a half-finished sword right out of the forge. The end of the blade was still glowing red hot. And he smacked that thing around for about 5 minutes and it never cooled off....it never bent sideways from impact....Dang! Now THAT'S a Blacksmith!
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 12/08/03 13:49:46 EST

QC, yes it was mentioned here earlier I believe; what impressed me was that the movie implied that the smith was the fellow who had hilted and engraved the blade--*VERY* unusual if not completely unheard of for the time and place, I'd expect that presentation blades would have been imported from England...The comment about "folded steel" left me laughing as the cook was probably using a folded (shear steel) blade as well...

Bruce; explain to the nice RR police that you need a section to fasten to your keel so you can lash the oars to a runner and make an ice boat...(got the pkg today, THANKS!)

I set up a nailery in my basement using a 1 fire brick forge to work small nails for a chest---need to get some music down there nails are tedious after the first several dozen...Farmers used to make nails as a winter's chore; sit around the hearth with your nailrods and look busy while keeping warm...


   Thomas P - Monday, 12/08/03 14:18:56 EST


If we don't get the ship out of the water this Saturday, we may have an "under-the-ice boat."

Glad you received the package; I thought it would be "right down your stack." Enjoy!

When I was demolishing/recycling some of the shelves in our house, I noticed they were put together with small cut nails. I made a re-header for them, straightened them out, rose-headed the beggars and used them for several chests that I made. Saved me a couple of steps, even if it didn't give me bragging rights. ;-) I came across the shelving the other day in what was left of the meat house, and dragged the planks out a day ahead of the front loader and demolition. Hmmmm, perhaps another chest is in order, as soon as I finsh my daughter-in-laws 2' X 2' X 3' monster medieval chest.

Oh; I always have music in my forge, can't do without it. It's a "classical" forge.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/08/03 14:42:29 EST

Hi Guru, OK I am a total novice to metalwork but am relatively competent with tools once on my way. I am a social worker by profession but increasingly have the impulse to create full size metal figures as artistic statement. They human figures would have approximate detail work as Oscar figurine and be put together similar to a suit of armor. I don't even know the name for process most suitable for doing this work. I think I need to connect with others who hammer shapes from flattened metals like bowl makers? I need to connect with anyone I can learn the skills from, purchase tools and materials. Can you please please provide some help? Thanks in advance, Rick
   rick odell - Monday, 12/08/03 14:42:58 EST

Forge floors and flux.
Now I do not know from first hand experience, but... ( isn't there always one?) A freind of mine in Alaska, used a high phosphate ( Pyramid super set I think) ramable to line his forge with. Now several years later he reports little degradation in the lining due to flux. And yes I know he uses it a lot.
James if you want email me and I will put you into contact with Frosty.
   Ralph - Monday, 12/08/03 15:10:39 EST

Rick, Hollow sculpture uses a mixture of techniques but at you pointed out armour is the closest. Detail work is done via "repousse" the exact methods varying with the metal and the thickness of the plate. Making vessels like bowls or helmets is done by a process called "raising". Raising is a difficult task (see our Armour page) and many folks "dish" plate into a stump (wooden form) and then weld halves together.
   - guru - Monday, 12/08/03 15:28:54 EST

any one know the composition and melting temp for brass cartriges. Have an acquaintence who want to melt them down for some reason?
   jerry crawford - Monday, 12/08/03 15:29:06 EST

Wrought Iron Water Tower (I think) For Sale

On saturday we went to look at an old industrial building as a potential place for me to set up shop. I don't think it's going to work out, but the property did have a water tower, built in 1911, with some hand forged struts. I could see the forge welds, so I am pretty sure they are wrought. The main tank is riveted. The tower is still standing and appears, from the outside to be in good shape. The property has city sewer/water and the city is requiring that the well be capped. The owner is willing to sell the tower to finance the cost of capping the well. I can't be sure that the tank is wrought, but it should be easy enough to determine. Anyone or group interested in purchasing this, send me a note and I'll put you in touch with the owner. Tower is located in Sharon WI, near the Ill. border. Probably about an hour from Milwaukee, maybe 1.5 hrs from Madison and Chicago.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 12/08/03 16:14:18 EST

patrick get in touch with the blacksmith at Colonial williamsburg. I heare a rumor once they have a good funding for these searches and travel some distabce to gather wrought for their community
   jerry crawford - Monday, 12/08/03 16:24:09 EST

Comments on cutlery as first time forge projects:

I was reading (again) comments that we make to folks who are interested in making knives as a first time project at the forge. I think, universally, the advice I have seen is that people should start with simpler projects and work up to knives. Based on my personal experience, I think that this may not be necessary. As Thomas can attest, my second project, first day, at the forge was a rat tail knife. My third project was a damascus dagger. I did have a knife making background before I met Thomas, but no forging. I had read a good deal about it though. I think that without a good teacher, learing to forge knives and do damascus would have been much more difficult, but still achievable. Perhaps we should not advise people to start with simple projects as much as we should encourage them to learn from their mistakes. We should also encourage them to get connected with other blacksmiths. But to tell someone that they need to learn to make a bunch of stuff other than what they want to make may just turn them off entirely. I am not suggesting that a person who makes a knife as a first or second project w/o instruction will make a good knife, but the only way to get better is by practicing. I know that when I met Thomas, I had no desire to make hooks, tongs, etc. I wanted to make knives-specifically damascus. Thomas was, and is, a great teacher and he did have me make a simpe campfire fork to get the feel of the hammer and using the fire. And he did help quite a bit with my first few projects. But if Thomas had said, you have to make XY and Z projects before I'll show you how to do a knife, I might have been very disenchanted. As it was, Thomas helped a great deal, and now I can do a lot more than knives, but with me it started with knives.
Just some of my thoughts.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 12/08/03 16:28:15 EST

Jerry, I anneal cartridge case mouths periodically to keep them soft to avoid getting cracks around the case mouth. I stand them in a pan of water, heat then with a small, garden variety propane torch and if not careful you can melt part of the case with that torch......
   Ellen - Monday, 12/08/03 16:34:43 EST


I would recommend against melting down cartridges. The primers are often made of other metals, and would need to be punched out first. Also, the primers contained barium and antimony and when fired left the residue of those elements in the cartridge. Both are toxic and both will vaporize out when melting the brass, as will some of the zinc in the brass itself. There may be other chemical residues from the gunpowder itself that aren't salubrious to your health as well. New brass of known composition isn't all that expensive when you cnsider your health.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/08/03 16:35:56 EST

I kind of agree with you.Since I was a teen I always wanted to forge knifeblades.Then when I read the Craft of the Japanese Sword in my twenties I really got the urge I was heavy into silversmithing at the time so I didn't get around to it.So a few years ago I got highspeed internet access I can across some Nihonto sites and from there to this site from there to NC toolsite for a gas forge and to meier steel for a 5"x1/4"x1 1/2 "bar of damascus.About a week later I had the forge set up in my garage an was forging out my first tanto according to instructions from a Sword Forum Intl. article.With everthing I learned from sites on the web the blade came out great exactly how I thought it would look.
   Chris Makin - Monday, 12/08/03 16:58:23 EST

Does anyone have a diagram for the internals of a blower? (particularly the one for the prospector's tabletop forge?)
   - Candace - Monday, 12/08/03 17:09:09 EST

Patrick; yes but you had *me* there by your side...

The first "simple" project is a learning project the new smith learns that they *CAN* forge hot steel and make it do their bidding; I learn if they can be safe around the forge.
It's a somple object that's hard to mess up and fairly fast to do. Many folk *never* go past that point; but they have something *they* have made; appreciate smithing a bit more and are not spooked later when a smith asks to set up somewhere they have control over!

If you pass the test then I'll try to get you working on a project that is more along what you are interesed in.

Once the hook is set folks are more willing to put the effort into learning more of the craft---once you make the knife you need to do a guard, butcap,... tools for working the handle material, gifts for your wife and neighbors so they don't shut you down.......

Patrick how large and how high up is the tower?

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/08/03 17:23:29 EST

Is there anyone that can give me a recommendation to purchasing an anvil in the 275 lbs.+ range. I am comparing Peddinghaus to Habermann style. Ordering an anvil on the web is so time consumming; what is the best for the buck?
Oh yah i'm in Ontario, Canada eh! Retired Fire Cheif/machinist
   Brian - Monday, 12/08/03 17:43:40 EST

Mr. Odell here are a couple links to rather informative armour making sites. I'd start by checking out the anvilfire armoury (look at the pulldown in the upper right corner. These will give you an idea of what's involved with the process's Guru mentioned. www.arador.com and www.armourarchive.org If you start here you'll find familiar names all over the net.
   - Aksmith - Monday, 12/08/03 17:49:46 EST

re forging stuff before making knives.
Well since you admitted that you had knife making experience ( stock removal I am guessing) you already had an idea of knife making. Even so. The forging techniques needed are best learned with other projects first. Mostly to teach hammer control and judging heat. It is rather dishearting to spend an hour or more on something and then bugger it up at the last due to lack of basic skills.
As others have said before you can be a world class runner you got to learn to crawl first
   Ralph - Monday, 12/08/03 17:53:13 EST

Jim C

Contact www.habairon.org. They are the ones that put on Hammerfest.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Monday, 12/08/03 18:08:16 EST

what kind of metels would you use for making swords
   - jon - Monday, 12/08/03 21:47:40 EST

Jon: L6, 5160, A2, 1050, 1070, patternwelded and wootz; sometimes bronze.

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/08/03 22:26:30 EST

Tom, you're mean and I love it!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/08/03 23:19:15 EST

Brain and online anvils:-) Look through the anvilfire advertisers from the pulldown. Euroanvils is hard to beat on value, they have very good anvils at very good prices (for new:-) My main anvil is a haybudden, but that shelf off of a haberman/austrian looks just too useful, and I have always loved the look of a double horned anvil. I think if I was going to buy a new anvil I would go with the biggest Euroanvil I could afford. More voluptous than a haybudden, but still very sexy:-)
   Fionnbharr - Monday, 12/08/03 23:58:09 EST

to the guru,
i am 16, and have recently found my self thhinking more and more about blacksmithing. i've always found it as a intersting hobby, yet no one i know does any blacksmith work. so i came online to find out how to get started, and i found out all about the "modern" world of blacksmith. it disapointed me to say the most. But here is my question to you, what would you recomend me to do if i wanted to get involved in old english blacksmithing, traditional blacksmithing.
thank you,
alex zadeh
   alex zadeh - Tuesday, 12/09/03 00:05:27 EST


I'm going to ask a personal question, so feel free to tell me to mind my own business if you wish.

But why were you disappointed? Were you expecting us to be a bunch of grizzled old geezers pumping a bellows and pounding on an anvil?

Well, some of us (The rest of you guys quit laughing! grin)
fit that description. But if you want to make a living at this business, you had better try to stay as modern as possible.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/09/03 01:51:29 EST

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