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 16 - 21, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Sword Article Location: Like many of our articles it will be linked from many places. This one more than others. The FAQ's page, Getting Started, The Armoury.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/16/03 09:46:30 EST

Semi-Steel: I've added the definition to our glossary page. Frank's definition from the materials handbook is the best I could find. Also used another source. Note that like "mild steel" it is non-specific and not clearly defined material. It IS a cast-iron (not steel) and thus much less expensive than steel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/16/03 10:24:21 EST

I would like to know what is the average price of a dagger like mine?
   Colin - Tuesday, 12/16/03 11:28:57 EST

hi.....where is the best blacksmith coal to be found and what kind of price am i looking at?
   ken - Tuesday, 12/16/03 12:22:49 EST


As I tried to point out to you in a previous post, prices depend on many factors. In the case of your dagger, it is obviously a first effort or an early effort, and has many aspects that would drive the price way down. Since you are so persistent in asking about prices, I'm going to cast gentility to the winds and enumerate the aspects of your dagger that would affect pricing.

First, the blade is not crisp. That is, there are no visible lines demarcating the different planes of the cross section. Another term might be "mushy looking". Look at the work of master smiths and note that their blades all are VERY crisp looking.

Second, the blade does not conform to any standard or recognizable pattern. This is okay, as long as the blade is a fantasy blade or a radical new departure by a master bladesmith. In your case, it just looks like you haven't studied enough different blade styles and haven't enough experience to create one.

Third, the handle is irregular and doesn't look appropriate to the blade. There is no guard or other finger stop area to prevent the hand from slipping onto the blade and being cut. Irregular handles aren't bad if they're made from antler or some other material that dictates a certain shape, and if that shape is used knowledgeably and usefully. In the case of your dagger, this is not so. A cast handle should be as perfect a fit to the hand as can be, since the process allows total control of shape.

I could go on and on, but I hope you get the idea. My purpose is NOT to discourage you or to denigrate your efforts. On the contrary, I am trying to widen your vision to make you better in the future. For a very young blade maker, you have done very well. Persistence and striving to emulate the masters will take you very far. Just don't expect your first dozen or so pieces to be "sellers" or award winners. First you crawl, then you walk. Lastly, you run.

As Jock and I and others pointed out, don't try to sell it. Keep it. I wish I still had the first several things I ever made. To me, my first item would be priceless. To anyone else, it would be a worthless novelty.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/16/03 12:26:08 EST

Value and Quality: Colin, There is no such thing as an average price for hand made one of a kinds. Most craftsfolk end up giving away their labor but a few manage to collect something for all their hours. An unknown maker may get a tenth of what a famous maker would get for an identical work.

Fame aside, quality of work makes a huge difference in actual value. In all metal work a clean uniform finish is critical. In bladesmithing clean smooth lines that are straight where they are supposed to be straight and curved where they should be curved are critical. The lines are followed by surface uniformity. Blade bevels are usualy flat or hollow ground and almost never convex. The line where bevels meet should be straight and of uniform sharpness (keeping crisp low angle corners through finishing is TOUGH but critical). These rules apply to almost all blades made for thousands of years. Then there is my previous list with points about joinery.

Starting from perfect almost any flaw reduces the market price by half. Compounded flaws reduce the price by half again and again until there is almost nothing left.

I have seen bladsmiths that had beautiful Damascus knives that had one microscopic flaw in a weld show up in the final buff refuse to sell the blade. Why? Because they know that the blade will only fetch half of what it is worth in time and effort. They usualy keep the knife for personal use or give it to a friend as a gift rather than take less than what it is worth.

One of the most difficult things a craftsperson must learn is what is good work and what work is bad. Then look at their own work and scrap the bad. It is often a hard thing to do. When starting out almost all of one's work falls in the bad category. Many of us have sold pieces we would be ashamed to put our name on today. If we are lucky we didn't sell them but gave them as gifts to friends and family that treasure first attempts and know that we have developed our skills far beyond those early attempts.

Look closely at your work as if it is someone elses. Is it something YOU would pay money for? Do not be so desperate as to sell something today that you may be embarassed to claim as yours a year from now.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/16/03 12:30:28 EST


Why dont you browse a few of the hundreds of web sites belonging to blademakers? There is a very wide range of quality and value and you will have to judge where your work fits in. I dont make knives and I dont know much about them but it's hard to imagine even the simplest handmade knife selling for less than $50 US.

As Jock pointed out, at this point your skill will develop very rapidly. You have yet to find out what kind of work you do. Your first knife is promising.

When I make something that I have never tried before, it takes at leaast a few tries (sometimes more than a few) before I get a keeper. Only an accomplished master can produce a first try that is as good as his 100th will be.

Make a few more just for the sake of the craft. Explore yourself, enjoy the journey and try to be a bit patient.
   adam - Tuesday, 12/16/03 12:48:31 EST

If I had known Jock and Rich were about to post, I would have shut up! :)
   adam - Tuesday, 12/16/03 12:54:57 EST

Coal: Ken, The "best" is a complicated question. See our coal/charcoal FAQ. Where to get it is also complicated. Where are you? In many places there are still coal dealers and the "best" coal is often what you can buy locally because it is shipped in by rail and freight is a small part of the price. There are usualy no minimums, you can fill a bucket or a truck.

You can also order coal on-line from folks like Kayne and Son or Centaur Forge. Shipping bagged coal by UPS can cost as much for shipping as for the coal depending on where you are.

Then there are the group buys made by many of the Blacksmiths Groups. Contact the one nearest you. Ask about coal, join the group. If they do not buy as a group there may be a local source. Often folks deliver a dump truck load and divide it up at meetings.

Before purchasing ANY large quantity of coal always get a small sample (50 pounds or so) and TRY it. Many folks have bought a ton of coal and had it dumped in their yard only to find out that it was worthless to forge with. I know one fellow that has TWO such piles in his yard. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/16/03 13:10:58 EST

Guru, I now have access to this site but not the one across the street. Strange.
Colin: I look back on some of the knives I made 20 years ago and I am embarassed at how crude they are. At the time, I was very proud of them. If you are growing in the craft, every new project will be better than the last. Keep your first efforts as a benchmark of your progress. If you become a world famous bladesmith, your first knife could be the most valuble one you ever make.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 12/16/03 13:20:39 EST

More on Coal: There are many reasons people use propane today rather than coal. One is due to availability. Currently propane is available almost everywhere in the world including some very primitive back woods areas. Even in some of the most primitive areas of the world propane is replacing wood, charcoal, peat and dung as fuel.

Coal on the other hand is being used less and less every day. It used to be that almost every city had a coal dealer. They kept coal for stoves and furnaces and sold it by the pound or the ton. Often this was good grade coal suitable for smithing. Obtaining coal was easy. Today however there are VERY few coal dealers and every year there are less and less. When I was smithing full time in the 1970's our coal dealer had hundreds of tons of coal in stacks of various sizes and grades. Today they have a small single pile they order for ONE customer. I am sure this is the end of their business. There are other local sources. Local being a couple hundred mile drive.

There is also a backlash against coal. It used to be that you smelled coal smoke in cold weather in every city in North America where it gets below freezing in the winter. Today the smell of coal smoke is different and unusual and folks complain about it. Many localities have ordinances putting coal burning under EPA regulations that a forge cannot meet.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/16/03 13:27:44 EST

thnx guru..........i live in west virginia. even here it's sometimes hard to find someone selling 50 or so pounds. i even saw some guy on ebay of all places selling blacksmith coal.......crazy world.
   ken - Tuesday, 12/16/03 13:53:12 EST

Does this treatment have to be done before a gas forge is first fired up or could it wait for a few uses? Our BS group built 15 units last spring and I have not fired mine up yet. Dont want to preclude using the ITC-100 by premature use.
   Jim Curtis - Tuesday, 12/16/03 15:08:24 EST

ITC Coating: Jim, No. But the more the forge is used the more the surface of the Kaowool breaks down and the dustier it gets. The dustier the surface the more ITC it will take to cover the surface and the less well it adheares. How much breakdown there is is hard to predict but it takes quite a few firings to make a difference.

Where you need to be VERY careful is with flux. Each crystal of borax will eat a finger tip sized hole in the kaowool. A pinch can can eat a baseball sized hole. Flux on Kaowool is like a torch on cotton candy. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/16/03 15:28:27 EST

Torch on cotton candy......

Good Analogy!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/16/03 16:31:18 EST

thank you so much everyone for your comments. just on friday i forged three more blades that i hope to make better. the comments really helped. thanky you
   - colin - Tuesday, 12/16/03 19:12:09 EST

hey im new! was hoping i would see somthing about this but didnt so ill just ask and hope i dont get beat up hee hee!
ok...think it is ok to use files to make blades for practice? the other part of that is how do i take the temper out to work the still,and then put it back in after the blade is made?(i dont have a forge yet) my father made knives for his own use from time to time. he said they made a good knife but was brital if put in a bind they will brake. i could use a softer metal but was hoping if the blades turn out good i could use them. nothing beter than using a tool you lost some sweat making and it working well! thanks (sorry so long!)
   jeremy - Tuesday, 12/16/03 19:17:09 EST

Files and Stock Removal: Jeremy, Making a knife by grinding is called stock removal. The other method is forging. If you are going to make a blade without a forge then you can leave the blade hard.

Stock removal is done with grinders. Belt grinders are the best but bench grinders have been used. The bigger the belt grinder the better when doing stock removal but it CAN be done with small 2" x 42" grinders. To learn to build one get book Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop.

When you make a knife by stock removal from a file if you are careful and do not overheat the steel you will not have to reharden the blade. But you WILL have to reduce the hardness so that it is not glass hard by tempering. See our FAQ about heat treating. You probably want to draw a file back to a dark blue so that it is springy rather than brittle.

If you forge the blade you need to first grind off all the file teeth, then you will also need to know how to harden and temper the blade. Most bladesmiths forge, normalize, grind (close to finished), harden and temper, then finish grind, polish and sharpen.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/16/03 19:47:01 EST

I'm building a forge from the liner of an old wood furnace. The furnace liner looks like an old fashioned cold water tank. I cut the top 2 1/2 to 3 inches off and turned it upside down to make the firepot.The metal appears to be about 3/16" thick. Is this metal thick enough? Or if it's not I was thinking of putting in a layer of high strength/ highheat masonary cement.
Also I have to cut the hole out for the air intake. I'm welding a 2 inch Tee right to the bottom of the tray. Should I cut the hole out to match the hole diameter in the Tee and put a grate over it OR.....?
This is my very first forge so any advice will be greatly appreciated.
   - scottrw - Tuesday, 12/16/03 19:48:49 EST

Scot, What you describe will work but it helps to have a dropped center to make a "firepot" of about 8x8" or 10x10" and about 3" to 4" deep. The shape is a upside down truncated pyramid. The bottom is usualy just a little bigger than the opening of the pipe tuyeer.

The water tank thickness is fine. It helps to be thicker in the firepot area but I have seen numerous forges built out of old water heater tanks that the heaviest material was the the tank. The curved head is cut off to make a forge pan and pieces of the sides cut out, flattened and made into the pot. A fellow in Montgomery, Georgia that makes them fabricates the entire tuyeer and air gate from flattened pieces of the tank. This takes a lot of carefull fitting and welding but is good use of scrap material.

IF you connect your pipe tuyeer directly to the pan (no fire pot) then you might want to use four bricks to make a "pot" to concentrate and control the fire. You can also build a "birds nest" around the tuyeer with clay or refractory cement to do the same thing. Do not fill the entire pan. That is heavy, expensive and a waste of materials.

In the end as long as you get air to the coal it will burn hot enough to forge. But a good forge shape makes it easier to control the fire and get a concentrated welding heat without wasting fuel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/16/03 20:15:39 EST

at what temperature does iron or steel start to absorb carbon?
   - colin - Tuesday, 12/16/03 21:53:54 EST

Thanks for repling, i appreciate it, but one more thing is there a possibility that it has a cast iron base, with a cast steel face and if so would any damage result from heating up while building up the face with rods. I have heard the face may peel off of the stump at each end.. Thanks for any advice
   roger - Tuesday, 12/16/03 22:00:58 EST

What I am planning for a forge is about the same as the fellow in Georgia. The top of the furnace liner is curved and 16 inches in diameter. I cut the top off and turned it upside down so that it is 2 inches on the outside and slopes to 3 1/2 in the center. When I started making this I was thinking along the lines of your brake drum forge. But would a 16 inch diameter be to big, or should I do as you suggested before and put a smaller drop down fire pot in the center.
Excuse me for asking such silly questions but I brand new to blacksmithing so I need everything explained to me.
   scottrw - Tuesday, 12/16/03 22:17:52 EST

I'm very glad to hear you arfe continuing your efforts at forging and bladesmithing. You seem to have the right attitude for learning, that is, you take constructive criticism well and even say "Thank you." I have every confidence that as you progress, your work will become excellent. Keep it up, and keep us informed.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/16/03 22:36:58 EST


Steel will begin to absorb carbon at any heat above the transformation pint, I believe, with one important requirement. You MUST exclude oxygen, or the steel will actually lose carbon. Carburizing steel is usually done in a sealed steel box filled with carbon-rich materials like leather scraps, charcoal, etc. The longer it remains at heat, the more carbon it will absorb. It won't happen in minutes, though. It takes hours. Mostly this is done for case hardening, which imparts a high-carbon shell to the piece of steel, leaving the core metal still fairly soft. If you need the carbon increased throughout the piece, you would have to either remelt and alloy it, or case harden it and then fold and forge weld it into a billet to make it more homogenous. Quenchcrack can give you far more information on this than I can, and so can the Guru.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/16/03 22:42:46 EST

Scott, those are NOT silly questions. They are perfectly sound, common sense type questions. They make a whole lot more sense than some of the questions we get in here.

I'll let Jock answer your question, but I'd leave it as is, and use four bricks to build a "fire pot".
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/16/03 23:29:34 EST

Colin, vicopper - current practice in industry for carburizing is to use atmosphere furnaces. They can be heated by either natural gas or electricity and the atmosphere is now usually provided by a mix of cryogenic nitrogen and methyl alcohol. The methyl alcohol disaccociates in the furnace and you end up with an atmosphere composed of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. That atmosphere is usually "spiked" with small quantities of natural gas to adjust carburizing potential. (carburizing potential relates to how high surface carbon content will go.)Typical carburizing temperatures in shops I helped convert to nitogen based carburizing were around 1600 to 1650 degrees F. Furnaces were at a slight positive pressure versus atmosphere, and typically had seals and baffles to prevent air (oxygen) ingress. Before the nitrogen/methanol systems, carburizing furnaces typically used endothermic gas atmospheres, which were generated by cracking natural gas in the prescence of air and a nickel catalyst. Took more energy to produce than was available as heat from the gas thus endothermic. Composition was pretty much identical to the nitrogen methanol atmospheres currently in use, as long as the incoming gas was primarily methane. The natural gas companies sold to BTU content per 1000 cubic feet of gas, not chemical composition so when they had peaks in demand they spiked their lines with a mix of propane and nitrogen to meet it. Chemical users such as heat treaters producing endogas had problems with this as their processes were based on the incoming chemistry of the gas, not just its BTU content.
The oldest method of carburizing is to pack steel in an airtight box with carbon containing materials. Not used a lot commercially in the US and western Europe, but I can't say for the rest of the world. For carburizing, the higher the temperature the faster the diffusion rate of carbon into the steel, but also the larger the grain size. One option is to increase temperature to 1800/1900 F, and then do several low temperature normalizing treatments at lower temperatures to refine it back down. Also, you definitely want it to be austenitic (above the critical point) rather than ferritic as solubility of carbon in ferrite is very low and it also has a lousy diffusion rate into it.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 12/16/03 23:38:27 EST

Hello...Just dropped out of my usual lurking to let everyone know that in the new Lord of the Rings movie, while reforging Aragorn's broken sword, they welded the pieces back together at a lovely cherry red. Oh well, such is Hollywood.
   Scotty - Wednesday, 12/17/03 05:14:25 EST

Hi, I would like to know the process of penny welding used where a forge weld is not possible. Thanks!
   Darla - Wednesday, 12/17/03 08:12:12 EST

I came across a anvil a few months back and was wanting to find out some information on it. I have it posted at.
   Charles story - Wednesday, 12/17/03 08:46:00 EST

Darla, Penny welding is a cowboy/horseshoer name for hard soldering or brazing using copper as the solder. It was/is used primarily for brazing high carbon jar calks and grabs to show horseshoes or harness track horseshoes. Some shoers would cut a penny in half and use it for the solder. You can also braze with brass brazing rod or silver solder.

The old horseshoer method was to drive the nib of the room-temperature calk into the yellow-hot shoe to hold it in
place, wire brush scale, apply borax, and a small piece of copper alongside the calk. Place it in a high coke, reducing-type fire until the copper melts. To get a fairly clean braze without "islands" of copper spreading all over the place, one should do three things quickly.
1) Remove from the fire and apply steady pressure by pressing with the hammer or squeezing in the vise.
2) Give it a one second water quench in order to free up and pop the cuprous oxides to the surface. This usually "freezes" (solidifies) the copper, as well.
3) Immediately wire brush all accessable surfaces.

The two surfaces to be brazed should be tight together, so that the copper will run by capillary action. The heat will be at least a good cherry red on the ferrous metals for the braze to be effective.

If you're working on something that needs to be held together, you can sometimes use a form of brazing tongs. The bottom jaw is flat and the top jaw has a upward curving bow, the tip of the bow holding the pieces together while the braze takes place, The bowed jaw should be thick enough so that it doesn't acquire enough heat to braze itself to the job.

You don't need a penny for a "penny weld". I use a snippet of copper wire.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/17/03 09:16:58 EST

Darla, Penny welding is a cowboy/horseshoer name for hard soldering or brazing using copper as the solder. It was/is used primarily for brazing high carbon jar calks and grabs to show horseshoes or harness track horseshoes. Some shoers would cut a penny in half and use it for the solder. You can also braze with brass brazing rod or silver solder.

The old horseshoer method was to drive the nib of the room-temperature calk into the yellow-hot shoe to hold it in
place, wire brush scale, apply borax, and a small piece of copper alongside the calk. Place it in a high coke, reducing-type fire until the copper melts. To get a fairly clean braze without "islands" of copper spreading all over the place, one should do three things quickly.
1) Remove from the fire and apply steady pressure by pressing with the hammer or squeezing in the vise.
2) Give it a one second water quench in order to free up and pop the cuprous oxides to the surface. This usually "freezes" (solidifies) the copper, as well.
3) Immediately wire brush all accessable surfaces.

The two surfaces to be brazed should be tight together, so that the copper will run by capillary action. The heat will be at least a good cherry red on the ferrous metals for the braze to be effective.

If you're working on something that needs to be held together, you can sometimes use a form of brazing tongs. The bottom jaw is flat and the top jaw has a upward curving bow, the tip of the bow holding the pieces together while the braze takes place, The bowed jaw should be thick enough so that it doesn't acquire enough heat to braze itself to the job.

You don't need a penny for a "penny weld". I use a snippet of copper wire.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/17/03 09:18:51 EST

Hey Guys I am Making aschool project on smithing.
We have to create our own website. I was wondering if I could create a link from my site to yours. I just wanted to know if that was alright.
   - Andrew Hurd - Wednesday, 12/17/03 09:29:08 EST

Tank Forge Scott, I was thinking the pan was a little larger in diameter. At 16" you would not want to change the bottom much. In that case it helps to add some surface around the "fire pot" for extra fuel. Welding flat horizontal pieces to the edges of the pan will will help give some fuel storage space. But you can do without the extra space. Concentrating the fire (making it smaller) with bricks may help but may reduce the fuel storage too much.

Just try it and see. The advantage of the steel pan is that you can weld to it, drill holes and bolt to it. . tossing some bricks in is not a big deal and they can be removed if they are in the way.

Note that bricks can be red clay or hard refractory BUT NOT cement or concrete.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 09:41:17 EST

Cast Iron Steel Faced Anvil Roger, There are several brands of anvil made this way but NOT Kohlswa. And yes there is a serious problem repairing the CI/steel anvils. But as I noted, there are problems repairing any anvil. My rule is "No repairs unless it is unusable". Cosmetic repairs may make an anvil LOOK pretty but are doing damage that cannot be repaired.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 09:45:51 EST

Frank, thanks alot for your quick and very informative response to my "penny weld" question. I'm anxious to give it a try! Darla
   Darla - Wednesday, 12/17/03 10:06:40 EST

Linking to anvilfire: Andrew, You are welcome to link to any page of anvilfire. However, please link to the section (folder) such as:

http://www.anvilfire.com/ (home page)

It is best not to use the file names "index.htm". I may change these to index.php or index.html or index.shtml as needed, then you have a broken link. The section or folder names will not change. We are on a UNIX server where paths are case sensitive so /faqs/ will not work.

If you are building a frames web page be sure your links include TARGET="_top" or "_blank" (for a new window). Almost all anvilfire pages will force themselves to be on "top" so that they are not captured in a frame but other sites may not.

Almost all web sites alow linking and it should be stated one way or another in their TOS (terms of use) or copyright statement. Ours is in our copyright statement.

However, new rules at google have created a situation where who links to you can effect your rankings and some places may not want your link. So it is best to ask.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 10:13:11 EST

Thank you for the reply I will use the url:
Thank you for your help
   - andrew hurd - Wednesday, 12/17/03 10:18:17 EST

Some friends have an old marble tombstone measuring 16" x 24", generations have used it for a slab to pour christmas candy on. It slipped and broke into 3 pieces a couple weeks ago, and I have been quested to its repair. I was planning to epoxy it together, and make a steel 'tire' and shrink onto it. I was wondering if slipping a red hot band around this thing would damage it. I could alternately drill 1/4" holes every six inches around the circumfrence of the band, and epoxy pins into the stone. Any thoughts?
Happy Holidays, mike
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 12/17/03 10:51:18 EST


The shrinkage rate of the marble and the steel are different enough that I'm almost certain the marble will spall and wind up in worse shape than it is now. Better go with the pins.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 12/17/03 11:15:07 EST


The "technical" term for shrinkage rate is the expansion/contraction ratio. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 12/17/03 12:30:54 EST

Thank You PPW!
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 12/17/03 12:35:40 EST

Thermal expansion.

Want an even more technical term? We use Cte, for coefficient of thermal expansion. And when you have differing materials, we call that Cte mismatch.

   MarcG - Wednesday, 12/17/03 12:52:41 EST

Shrink Fits: Mike, a shrink fit is rarely red hot. Things like ring gears on flywheels are shrunk on at 325-350F. The trick is having fits and tolerances on the parts so that they fit tight but not to tight. Thus most shrink fits are machined and carefully measured with precision tools. The exception is iron tires on wood. But there is a lot of leeway on wagon tires because the wood is compressable AND the wheel is designed to flex into a cambered dish.

Shrink fits on square and rectangular items are also tricky but it CAN be done.

I would make the tire and bed it on with epoxy and pin it as well as you suggested. Plan on bedding the band on first, then drilling the epoxy out of the previously drilled holes and then doing the pins as a seperate operation. Otherwise you will be trying to do too many things at once and end up with the epoxy setting while you work. The pins should probably have square twisted shanks like the screws used in plastic.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 14:17:02 EST

my question is this. I was drawing out some 1/2 round bar stock and it started to split length ways and open up like a trumpet. I 'am assuming that it was cold rolled steel since the hot roll I normally use, doesn't act the same. most of the material I use is scrap from barn yard junk. Is there a way to prevent this ? I have a heap of the stuff and I would like to use it up. As you might have guessed I fairly new to coal smoke and quench tanks.

Thanks Karl
   Karl Pedersen - Wednesday, 12/17/03 14:26:29 EST

Splitting: Karl, Two things cause this. One is that the steel has a cold shut from the mill (an unwelded joint internaly). There is nothing you can do about this (except work at a welding heat and hope it self corrects). The other is from working too cold. It is easy to cold forge a point by hand once steel is below about 1/8" square in section. However, work hardening occurs and the steel splits. The other thing that happens to newbies working cold is that they tend to get a diamond section and in trying to square it back up the stock splits from shearing.

SO, work hot and see it it still splits. If you can't see a good red heat on the point it is too cold. It should be a good yellow when you start.

If you are making points some folks recomend leaving a lump at the tip and drawing it out last. The lump is isolated from the rest of the stock and is larger than the finished point so it stays hot. Being hot when you finish the point helps prevent splitting. IF you have to reheat, the lump is less likely to burn than a partialy finished point.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 15:17:25 EST

Thanks for the tips ! I think the heat is ok, my biggest problem of late has been too much heat. the splits open up like fine wires so I'll guess that the steel was poorly milled. I will save the stuff for other projects.
   - Karl Pedersen - Wednesday, 12/17/03 16:16:22 EST

thank you Guru!
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 12/17/03 16:47:04 EST

Just a fun little note for Colin...
My first knife is STILL my best... with my second through the fourth one I all got creative and perhaps a bit impatient because I thought I knew what I was doing... and it all went down hill from there. But thats what happened with my forge welding too and now I think I forge weld very well on a consistent basis. Just gotta practice practice practice practice practice...
   Rodriguez - Wednesday, 12/17/03 16:57:04 EST

And you know.. (just to vent a bit now that I think about it) it really gets me angry at myself for spending all that time preparing the material just to screw it up with my little creative ideas...! Why can't I just do normal things?! Like... gardening...?

I need more cable.... sigh...
   Rodriguez - Wednesday, 12/17/03 17:00:59 EST

I am looking into buying my first power hammer. I am getting so confused. I would like the price of some of the chinese hammers on the market, but the prices are almost TOO good. I also don't know if I could trust a cast anvil. I would like to go with one of the 50 LB+ American standards, but are they really worth twice the price? I have a very limited budget, but I don't want to get stuck.
What should a first time buyer get? I only forge twice a month, but up to 1 1/2 inch material when I do. Forging consists of about 20% of my business.

   scott - Wednesday, 12/17/03 17:23:00 EST

just a thought ! go to home depot they have seam kits for marble counter tops! they are a 2 part kit you mix like JB weld .they work well
   jeremy - Wednesday, 12/17/03 18:16:31 EST

I have an 88lb (40kg) chinese hammer I bought from striker, and I am very happy with it. It is not a nazel- the quality of the castings, peripherals, and electrics are not the best, and it took a little work to get it together. But it is well worth the money. It will work 1 1/2" square with ease. It is relatively small, light, and quiet, parts are available, and it ran the first time I turned it on. It is extremely reliable- you turn it on, it works. It didnt require any special foundations- I just bolted it down to the floor. These are all positive selling points to me.
Around here, in the pacific northwest, a 25lb little giant will run $2500 easily, and there arent many power hammers around. So about $5000 for a new self contained hammer seems like a fair price to me. In other parts of the country this may not be true.
True, my chineses hammer does not have the history, or good looks of an older american hammer. It is a utilitarian tool. But that is fine with me- My main goal is to use it, not admire it.
As far as I know, most power hammers have cast anvils. It is not a problem. Chambersburg Little Giant, and Nazel hammers all have cast anvils. The dies are steel, and that is what counts.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 12/17/03 18:43:38 EST


From you description, it sounds just possible that you may have got hold of some wrought iron. Others here are much more qualified than me to tell you how to find out for sure and what to do if it is, but you just might have a good find there.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 12/17/03 18:58:08 EST

Wrought: Mike you are right. I hadn't considered that. Old rusted wrought can't be worked at all if the rust has penetrated. If it is only in the surface layers it can be fluxed and forge welded back together (if you can forge weld). Wrought must be worked much hotter than mild steel.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 19:59:44 EST

saftey glasses: some time ago i started searching for saftey glasses that i had seen several smiths and metal workers using. they were metal framed with fine metal mesh side shields. some of them had flip up tinted lenses. total eye protection from debris and UV rad (with the correct lenses). beat my brains out trying to find these; good reason. they are no longer made. i have bought several pair through antique dealers. willson and B and L made this style. i will choose which ones i will get scripts fitted for. this will leave me with 4 or 5 that i am willing to sell (MY COST!, no profit intended) for AF patrons. the cost is minimal, about 10-15 bux. interested members may contact me....
   rugg - Wednesday, 12/17/03 20:25:48 EST

Power Hammer: Scott, All the "American standards" have been out of production for 40 years of more. The vast majority are 75-100 years old. Many folks prefer them but you are on your own when you buy these orphaned machines.

You also need to consider the type of hammers you are comparing. A Kuhn or Striker is a self contained air hammer. Big BLU is a standard air hammer requiring an air compressor. The types each have very different opperational characteristics. Self contained hammers run at one constant frequency and the treadle controls the stroke. Standard air hammers run at various speeds and do not run at all without operating the treadle. You can get single blows out of a standard hammer but it is difficult to do with a self contained. The KA is a "striking" hammer and only moves down when the peddle is pressed and does not automaticaly strike repeatedly.

Mechanical hammers like Little Giant, Fairbanks and Bradley generaly use less horse power than the air hammers. They operate by a clutch that controls the speed. Fairbanks and Bradley have a stroke adjustment, Little Giants do not. When in good condition the mechanicals are fairly controlable but more difficult to control than most of the air hammers. Little Giants in worn condition are nearly impossible to control and are only good for drawing operations. The generaly poor control of this popular hammer held back modern American power hammer technique for several decades.

All these hammers have a cast iron frame and anvil. Some have anvils seperate from the frame and others like all the small Little Giants and the smallest Chinese hammer have the anvil integral with the frame.

Before buying I recommend that you find someone that will let you operate their hammer. Some people prefer the constant beat of the self contained hammer and others prefer the wider range of control of the standard air hammer.

If I was going to be constantly forging 1-1/2" stock I would be looking for a 200 or 300 pound hammer. However, some people do it with 25# LG's and many heats. . A 100 pound hammer may be fine for your production rate.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 20:26:41 EST

I am looking for a place where I can purchase a blank of damascus steel for a knife. Where might I find this?
   - THash - Wednesday, 12/17/03 20:49:32 EST

Daryl Meirer sells it

   Ralph - Wednesday, 12/17/03 20:58:58 EST

THash, Click on the link at the top of this forum page where is says THE GURUS, then the MEIER STEEL link.

www.admiralsteel.com also carries Damascus (laminated steel) blanks.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 21:03:08 EST

I am a mixed media artist. I make a lot of wooden jewelry boxes and overlay copper tiles on the box tops. Currently, I am hand hammering the edges of the tiles with a small all pein hammer on the anvil. Gives me the look I'm after but I need to speed up the process. I am capable of making machines and tools (degree in Mech Eng and hold a couple of tool patents) and would like to make a small power hammer for this process. I've looked at the JYH photos but need some more basic design info on several types without ordering everyone's plans to get me started. Can you stir me to the right place.
PS My work can be seen at kopperwood.com
   Kopperwood - Wednesday, 12/17/03 21:04:09 EST

I had an offer to be a dealer for a line of Damascus blanks. Same stuff Admiral is selling. Anyone think this is something we should handle? The fellow said that profiled blanks were cheaper than plain billets. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 21:07:45 EST

If all you desire to do with a small power hammer is peen, a spring type like the rusty would work and be the simplist to fabricate. These scale up and down nicley. I scaled mine to 32#. I used hydraulic cylinder pivots for the spring pivots.
   - ptree - Wednesday, 12/17/03 21:36:09 EST

That's the one I was looking at the closest. If I order the plans, will they give me enough info without a deeper understanding of hammers?
One other question, I can put my hands on a 1/3 hp variable speed AC drive unit at a very good price, would it drive a small hammer?
   Kopperwood - Wednesday, 12/17/03 21:45:21 EST

Kopperwood, Chamfering can be done by machine but is almost easier by hand. For the speed you need I would recommend building a very small air hammer using a hand held hammer. They make cylindrical units for artists and sculptors. These are easy to fit in a C-frame.

GO to out NEWS, Vol 21, ABANA 2000, page 9, figure 8, 9 10.

Sorry about the small images. They were made for an iForge slide show and I have never had a chance to produce larger images.

This unit has the force controled by the amount of weight added to the top of the floating hammer.

You web site is nice but the size of the images are frustrating in that you cannot see the details. Sort of like the slide show images on the page referenced above.

Power hammer mechanisms are often scaled down for very small work like riveting. They run much faster than large hammers and the dynamics become much more critical. See the Power hammer Page, Pettingell hammers. These sheet metal hammers use a 5 to 15 pound ram running at very high speeds. The Pettingell uses a bow spring and toggle mechanism like the South African JYH and the Champion hammer. The engineering (dynamics) on these machines is quite tricky and not published anywhere. Most folks go by gut and trial and error.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 22:06:10 EST

Richard Postman friend and author of Anvils in America is having bypass surgery tomarrow (Thursday) morning. He is in fine health but a checkup showed he needed immediate surgery. Our prayers go to Richard and his wife Catherine.

We will let you know how Richard is doing as soon as we know.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 22:58:52 EST

re dealing pattern-weld blanks.... Will there be much in the way of output from you? If not then it is worth a trial run.

Yes please let us know how Richard is doing.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 12/17/03 23:06:52 EST

Hammer HP: Kopperwood, 1/3 HP would operate one of the very small mechanical hammers. Currently the EC-JYH is running on a 3/4 HP motor and it has a 60# ram. But it runs fairly slow. The machine has two motors but currently one is disconnected to help slow the hammer.

If you look at the Peddingells the one with the clear motor/pulley setup looks to only have about 75% reduction which means is is running at about 1350 blows per minute if the motor is standard.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/17/03 23:14:29 EST

i just purchased some steel that said. "Plain cold rolled steel" on the label. what temperature should i temper it at and what type of steel is it? (mild, high-carbon etc.)
   - colin - Thursday, 12/18/03 00:29:15 EST

Colin; The label says it all. You have some plain, low carbon steel which has been run through a cold rolling mill to give it a smooth finish, as soon as you heat it up, it goes back to what it was before it was cold rolled. It will never serve as a suitable material for a knife or any other form of cutting tool. If you're looking for a cheap source for knife materials, go to an auto wrecking yard or a spring shop. As has been mentioned at this site and others on numerous occasions, spring steel is quite adequate. If you are under 18, go with an adult. Scrap yards and other such places don't need or want the added liability for having a minor in the yard. I'm not telling you that because of any dislike of kids on their or my part, that's just one of the realities of business, particularly if it is of a hazardous nature. Your enthusiasm is a good thing, but you must cultivate , not alienate your sources for good, CHEAP materials. (I know, I know, all you asked was a simple question about cold rolled steel.)(grin)
   3dogs - Thursday, 12/18/03 02:41:16 EST

A cheap hand held air hammer in a C frame, as the Guru says, is a good solution. The trick is a foot pedal controlled valve. Just wire the trigger open. Get the kind of hammer with an air flow adjustment in the butt.
"Old Forge" company makes hammer shaped bits to fit. The anvil of the C frame needs to hard ,gently crowned and polished. Buy good earmuffs and work deep underground, cause these things make a racket!
Colin; It's usually just mild steel and won't be easily hardenable.
   - Kopperwood - Thursday, 12/18/03 03:07:21 EST

Colin - Do you or your parents know anyone who owns or works in a body shop or boat trailer shop? They would probably be happy for you to haul off the bent & broken springs if you tell them what you want to do. They might even take them off for you.
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 12/18/03 08:22:25 EST

Colin, As previously said, it is not hardenable (for blades). Save it for guards, pomels, decorative work or jig making.

Kopperwood, The folks building air hammers use a ball valve, attach a spring to close and then attach a link to a peddle or treadle. The hardest part is making a bracket to hold the valve. Usualy this is a short length of pipe welded to a bracket (angle iron). Then the valve is screwed on.

I recently operated a friend's home built air hammer, a 50# LG converted to air. He had the control valve on the intake rather than the exhust as do all the Ron Kinyon types. For chasing type work you could adjust the valve (no treadle) and the hammer would gently cycle over the work until you put a tool in the way. Great system and no worry about keeping your foot absolutely steady.

For your chamfering operation, if it is to be production work, I would make a sloped die with an adjustable fence. Stick the work in, floor the peddle and pull. . flip 180° and repeat. You would have to adjust the fence for rectangular work, but if you run a batch one way, then a batch the other, the setup time per part would be neglegible.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/18/03 09:56:31 EST

Thanks all for the info. The steel came from a ladder that led up to the loft of my barn. (since replaced with stairs)and was bilt from bits and pieces circ.1940 I'd guess. I'll put it all to good use

thanks Karl
   - Karl Pedersen - Thursday, 12/18/03 11:19:39 EST

Working rusty wrought iron:

Peter Ross from Williamsburg contends that almost any old wrought iron can be reworked; but I'm no Peter Ross. Some salvaged ship spikes just don't consolidate very well, especially if the salt water corrosion has gone too far. Also, we have been spoiled by modern mild steel, which for all of its problems with fire welding, is far more forgiving under the hammer. When forging wrought, you must work at the higher yellow range and keep everything square. If you slip into a parallelogram the wrought iron will fray and open up in cracks. Fascinating stuff, but tricky at times and takes a bit of study and experience to get right.

Waiting for the flurries on the banks of the Potomac. Down in the county the swamps are overflowing! Not looking forward to slurry coated with a light dusting of flurry.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/18/03 12:53:30 EST

Has anyone ever used [or owned] a Bullhammer powerhammer?
Any comments on this hammer or manufacturer would be welcome.
   Mike M - Thursday, 12/18/03 19:50:46 EST

i have not used the cold rolled steel for blades. i was just going to check with you guys because i was planning on making a blade and i wasnt sure if it would be a good material to use. my uncle has a farm where he collects all this junk and car parts. i could probably get something from him. i didnt know that springs were a good material to use. do you know if leaf springs are ok? i saw a project somewhere on how to make a sword and knife out of one. (however they did everything cold) they did say however that it was good steel.
   - colin - Thursday, 12/18/03 22:47:04 EST

Colin, I've made several knives from leaf spring. They are fine knives, hold an excellent edge (I can skin an elk without sharpening), and are tough, not brittle. Besides, the price is right!
   Ellen - Thursday, 12/18/03 23:30:25 EST


Hm... The last White Tail I cleaned, I used an old hunting knife of my late father's. Had to sharpen it twice. Time to make some more "using" blades, I guess.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/18/03 23:40:03 EST

Colin, when you have some time, go to: www.randallknives.com and visit all of the areas on their website. I think you'll get some good information and some good ideas.
   Ellen - Thursday, 12/18/03 23:45:36 EST

Wrought Iron: is made by consolidating the bloom. Which is simply forgewelding it over and over, spitting out the slag inclusions like welding flux, until it starts acting like metal. Reconsolidating is just the same process repeated with scrap wrought iron or damaged wrought iron. Wrought is cold short so you always have work it at a high heat, or it will splinter and crumble (and rewelding the piece in the middle of a project is no fun:-) Wrought should be worked in the yellow to white ranged, most wrought has almost no carbon in it so it burns at a much higher tempature than mild steel.

Mike M and the Bull 75 air hammer:

Yes I have one, and love it. It has great control, which is why I went for it. I can cycle it like a selfcontained hammer and lower the ram with the treadle, or I can tap one blow, or stomp one blow, and I can flip a lever and stomp and it will clamp hard enough I can twist 3/4" square. I can set the hammers blow weight independently from the treadle, anything from a light tap to full power. Nice for using decorative tooling, like creasing and stamping. I have 3x5 flat dies, so I do most of my work with hand tools under the hammer, clappers, paddles and hacks. But I plan on making some crown and radius dies for it, just haven't had the time and the proper tools:-) It does take a BIG compressor to run it for production work (I have a 7.5hp Quincy light industrial air compressor that puts out 22.4 CFM @ 150PSI, I run the hammer at 130PSI and notice a dip in proformance when the system pressure dips below 90PSI, which it will do if I am not careful) Lots of heavy drawing will get into your pressure tank pretty quick:-) But for most other things I have a massive aircompressor for running other airtools including a blasting cabinet. To set it up right it takes about half again as much money as the hammer costs or atleast it did for me...(had to buy a massive compressor, Filter,Regulator, Oiler, 3/4"ID heavy duty 300PSI airlines, separate foundation for the hammer, heavy duty chemical type anchors, vibration dampening pad,extra base plate:-) So it wasn't cheap to get setup, but it is a nice hammer with great control, and I was adamant that I wanted absolute control over the power hammer. (I had played on a 100# Little Giant that was fairly well behaved but didn't have a break, so it eat my work more than once:-)
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 12/18/03 23:45:43 EST

Paw Paw, I do carry a "butchers steel" and use it on the knife periodically. Only takes a few seconds and extends the life of the edge greatly.
   Ellen - Thursday, 12/18/03 23:56:32 EST


I know a steel does, but I never learned to use one. My grandfather, (the first Paw Paw) taught me on a set of Arkansas stones (Washita, Soft Arkansas, Hard Arkansas) and I've never bothered to use anything else. I carry a double grit in the truck, and have got a couple of medium grit "pocket stones" floating around, usually put one in my pocket when I'm going to be skinning. Only takes a second to put an edge back on.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 12/19/03 00:42:02 EST

I want to information about flypress
what is flypress? material used for flypress? design consideration for flypress?types of flypress & difference ?
   pramod - Friday, 12/19/03 02:51:40 EST

Well, I did a dumb thing today and I'm countin' on you guys to make it better. After putting a shiny new chuck on my old, but perfect post drill, I left it sitting on my deck while I went to get some lag screws to mount it. My overly rambunctious dog got to the drill before I did and knocked it off the deck and the cast iron neck broke cleanly in two near the top where the champion logo is. How can I fix my newfound love? I've no experience welding cast iron, although I do remember my uncle (a truly gifted welder) repaired the door on and old cast iron stove by putting a V-groove in the break, heating the whole think to black heat, and hitting it with an oxy-acetylene torch, essentially puddling metal into the groove. As I recall, he then heated the whole thing back up and wrapped it in an aspestos blanket to slow the cooling. After cleanup, you couldn't even see the weld. That was many years ago, and cancer has taken him away, so I can't call him up for advice.
What I need to know is: will that approach work and am I right about the details? What type of welding rod might he have used for the puddling, and what type of insulation might I use since aspestos is out of the question in this modern era? Could an arc welder substitute for the torch, and given where the break is, will the weld hold up under the mechanical stresses imposed by drilling? Geeze! Lots of questions, but I'm admittedly out of my depth here. I'm completely open to other options as well. Just please tell me I haven't ruined my new toy!

Thanks ahead of time,
   eander4 - Friday, 12/19/03 02:56:26 EST

Check out the iForge demos #160, 161,162,163 and 165 on this site (use the navigation bar in the upper right-hand corner to scroll down to iForge-How-to). They will help to answer some of your questions.

   eander4 - Friday, 12/19/03 03:02:04 EST

PPW, next time we are in a real life meeting I can show you how to use a steel.. And you can show me how to use the stones properly. Deal?
   Ralph - Friday, 12/19/03 03:04:54 EST

Paw Paw,
As a grain-fed Arkansas hillbilly, I have to tell you that Washita is actually spelled Ouachita. While it's true that most of us can't spell anyway, you wouldn't want to tick off the other seven by gettin' it wrong. Them hill folk is mighty proud of their rocks and their pigs!;-)

Woo Pig sooie!
   eander4 - Friday, 12/19/03 03:08:38 EST


What type of vibration dampening pad did you use under the Bull?

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 12/19/03 08:18:10 EST

Guru & all, May the holidays for all of you be filled with the joy of Christmas. May the spirit of the holidays help any who have had pain and sorrrow. I want to leave you with a thought for the coming year...I often read to my children from books that some might think beyond their ability but they understand........"Our doubts are traiters, And make us lose the good we oft might win...By fearing to attempt." William Shakespeare

Happy New Year!
   Tim Cisneros - Friday, 12/19/03 09:22:38 EST

Eric, Teach'n some folks to spell is like teach'n a pig to dance, you're just going to get muddy and P'ss off the pig.

creative speller
   habu - Friday, 12/19/03 09:50:36 EST

Ralph, Look for a book called "the razors edge" I learned all I know about using stones in that book and it has served me well. It is contraversial (sp) in that they advocate using the stones DRY, no oil and it works GREAT. Also look in the Guru archives, we had a good discussion about knives and such about oh six months ago (possibly longer, the older I get the shorter the years are Big GRIN!)
   Wayne P - Friday, 12/19/03 10:00:01 EST

Ralph, I did a quick search and the discussion was on:

This is an archive of posts from February 25 - 29, 2003 on the Guru's Den

Ok, so it was a little longer than 6 months, but I said it could have been longer GRIN!!
   Wayne P - Friday, 12/19/03 10:21:35 EST

Welding Castiron
I haven't welded much CI but here's what I have done based on taking 3 peices of my forge crank which broke through the set screw.
Lightly tack it together in perfect alignment,
grind out proper v grooves, take your tim and stitch it back together, a little here, a little there, take your time, don't let it get warm
use a ni-rod for cast iron.
On bigger jobs if possible here's what I've done using 7018,
tacked it together and grind your grooves, heat it red hot in the forge, arc weld it together while still red hot, while warm put back in the forge get red hot, bank the fire over it, go to the beer parlour. (I used this method to fix the bearing holder on the tablesaw trunnion.
Good luck
   JimG - Friday, 12/19/03 10:23:31 EST

Edit of my last post!
after "set screw" add to "Uncle Bill to weld"
   JimG - Friday, 12/19/03 10:26:11 EST

"The Razor's Edge". Y'all might wind up with the classic novel by W. Somerset Maugham, which talks about a spiritual seeker who travels the world, receives enlightenment, and winds up a happy taxi driver in New York (I think). I read the book over 50 years ago. It doesn't tell how to sharpen knives.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/19/03 10:57:50 EST


I had a similar problem with a post drill that I bought on eBay and the shipper packed it so poorly the main fame broke in two.

I welded mine using cast iron rod with the buzz box. I did a timy spot here and there, back and forth from end to end and side to side, much as if I were doing a torque-tightening sequence. Doing that seemed to keep the stresses fairly even and not develop any further fractures. It took plenty of time, but it worked. I didn't clean the welds afterwards. Someday, when I get some proper high-nickel rod, I'lll tkae the thing apart and grind the crude welds and do a proper job with pre-heat, nickel rod, post-heat and stress relieving. In the meantime, I've been drilling 1/2" holes in 1" plate with no problems.


For sharpening all edged items, I've learned to love the diamond stones. I've got them in grits from about 200 to 6000 or thereabouts and get a good edge even on stainless cutlery that is otherwise hard to get a decent edge on. I DO use a steel on my kitchen cutlery, for its intended purpose of straightening the edge only. Keeping the edge centered, which is what the steel does, makes all the difference in the world as far as holding an edge goes.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/19/03 10:58:44 EST

CI Welding

Eric, You don't say what kind of welding equipment you have. Your grandfather probably used a brass or bronze rod and braze welded the door. Lots of old vises and machinery have been repaired that way. You can even use a tig welder to do the same thing. You can also use a simple AC buzz box stick welder and do a good job. Go to a welding supply or auto parts store and pick up some AC cast iron repair rods. (I've had good sucess with the ones from All States) Get the ones which are machinable as the resulting weld bead is more ductile and can also be filed smooth. As JimG says get things aligned perfectly and tack while cold. Then do a preheat in accordance with the directions on the rod package. Weld the parts together using a short arc and little weaving. Wrap the whole area in Kaowool and let it cool slowly and you should be allright. With some of the repair rods you can actually weld CI with no preheat or very little so do check the directions with your rods. Good Luck.
   SGensh - Friday, 12/19/03 10:59:30 EST


I knew the correct spelling of Ouachita, but the last set I bought, the wooden "keeper" box spells it Washita.

Evidently, the spelling has changed with the times. (grin)

Wayne, I use my regular set here at home wet. It makes the stone last a bit longer, because it doesn't get clogged with tiny bits of metal. The ones I carry in the truck I use dry because they cut quicker and are less messy to use. Matter of preference, I think.

BTW, my set of Arkansas stones came with a little tiny, $4.00 bottle of "special honing oil". It's actually ATF. I've filled the bottle a couple of times, and it works fine.

For OxyAcetylene welding of cast iron, they make a welding "rod" that is basically pure cast iron to use as a "filler" rod. I use the rose bud, pre-heat the entire piece, weld, then grind or file back. Seems to hold up pretty well. I've got a bunch of window weights that I picked up someplace, I deliberately broke it after I got the first rods, welded it back together, you could hardly tell where it was broken. Welded a lead dipper that had a hole melted in the bottom, it works fine, and even holds water.

   Paw Paw - Friday, 12/19/03 11:03:29 EST

On oil for stones: I used to use oil on them all, but when I took an engraving class the instructor turned me on to Windex. It's slick, it cleans the grit out, wipes off with no residue, and doesn't cause rust. It works better on diamond stones, apparently, but since I don't have any of those I've been using it on my prize translucent white arkansas stone (harder than the hard black ones) with great results. I think if you've gotta have a lubricant/grit washer, windex is the way to go if only because of the lack of oily residue. If you do woodcarving of any sort, you don't want oil from a blade getting on the wood, since the finish might be affected in that location. Of course, I often use a razor strop to put a mirror polish on the edges of my carving tools anyway, but it's nice to know that I'm not getting oil where I don't want any.
   Alan-L - Friday, 12/19/03 11:21:03 EST

A wealth of info here. I will try a little welding on this material. borax a good enough flux for wrought ? I don't claim to be a blacksmith by any stretch. I've done hot metal work over the years to keep the gate hinges strait and so forth. getting a little more involved now that my daughter is off to college.. more time to play
   - Karl Pedersen - Friday, 12/19/03 11:29:02 EST


Hmm... Never thought of wWndex, but it makes sense. But my "house" set of Aransas are so oil soaked, I'd never get them cleaned out. And they are still in WAY too good a condition to throw them away.

A friend of mine and sometime poster here used a small diamond hone when he visited this summer, I was so impressed that I plan on getting one.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 12/19/03 11:37:04 EST

Bull Hammer: Note that the original designer is no longer with the company.

Compresor Size: A few years ago all the new small hammer manufacturers were making claims that their hammers could be run on "3Hp K-mart" air compressors. This was an attempt to make the installed cost less. Yes, the hammers would function on these small machines but not for long. They will "function" on a 3/4HP compressor, for about 2 strokes. . . Some of the manufacturers have gotten off this position, some have not. ALL users of these hammers will tell you differently.

Also note that air compressors are generaly rated at a 50% duty cycle. The folks selling you "home use" compressors do not tell you this and often give the CFM rating with the compressor running 100%. Running a compressor constantly will overheat it and cause excessive wear.

Comparisons: Several years ago I had a power hammer comparison article on our power hammer page. This compared the original Bull, Trip Air, the "Old Blue", KA-75, Kuhn and Chambersburg 100. The manufacturers kept making changes and I eventualy pulled it. This was before the Chinese Striker, "Big BLU" and the new Bull.

One evaluation of the hammers was the INSTALLED COST (hammer + compressor (if needed) + foundation) and then divided by the weight of the hammer to get a cost per pound. At the time the Old Blue was by far the less expensive hammer per pound. Due to its weight the KA was the most expensive per pound. The Kuhn was less than the KA but had a higher overall price. At the time the Bull was about 30% higher than the Old Blue and Trip Air.

Other comparisons included ram to anvil ratios. The Chambersburg was the best at 18:1, followed by Bull at 9:1 and Old Blue at 6.7:1. Those were 75# machines except for the Chambersburg. Shortly after I wrote the article both the Bull and BLU went to 100# rams with the old anvils. Since then the BLU has increased its anvil size to get a 7:1 ratio but Bull went to two new designs that are hard to compare. However, the 75 looks to have a 4:1 anvil & base to ram ratio and the 100 a 4.2:1 ratio.

One frustrating thing I found among the new manufacturers was a lack of technical data. They would not tell you what the anvil weighed or its dimensions then complained when you estimated wrong. I am used to good old American industrial specs that told you EVERYTHING about a machine because the manufacturers were proud of what they made and were not so insecure to give away a few dimensions.

Also note that some of the manufacturers are using pressure ratings that many air compressors do not achieve. It used to be that 100 PSI was a standard rating for almost all air operated machinery. The little over that many air compressors provided was to make up for line loses (which can be significant) so there was 100 PSI at the tool. These higher pressures require even more expensive compressors.

All the different hammers on the market have different characteristics. You are often comparing apples to oranges so it is very difficult. Consider THIS, people still dig holes and put in huge concrete foundations for 50 pound Little Giants and 100 pound Fairbanks hammers. But none of the manufacturers of fabricated 100 pound hammers recommends a special foundation. Why? The same reason they originaly claimed a 3HP $300 air compress would work. . Installed cost.

You CAN run all these hammers on your standard shop floor (including the old machines). But it shakes the heck out of everything in the shop. And the old machines had 12 and 15:1 anvil/ram ratios. . .

Just some things to think about.

   - guru - Friday, 12/19/03 11:49:56 EST

Stones: Years ago I read an article on using stones dry and tried it. I have been much happier using stones dry. Using oil tends to make a slurry of oil and grit that wears the stone faster and makes it hard to tell what is going on.

The first thing you have to do to clean a stone that has been used with oil is to use a solvent like brake parts cleaner to remove ALL the oil and built of metal.

Using the stone dry the surface immediately shows the metal as dark streaks on the surface. When the stone looks and feels clogged the metal swarf can be cleaned off with water, water and ammonia (Windex) or solvent.

When using Wet-or-Dry on a plate to lap parts flat we used to use fine oil but I have found that water works much better. You can constantly rinse with fresh water, something that is difficult to do with oil.

Belt grinders often have water cooling systems. My surface grinder has a large tank and pump. It is best to use water soluable oil in the coolant to reduce rust. It also helps pick up oil off parts. It is amazing how many POUNDS of grinding swarf end up in the coolant tank. I cannot imagine using a dry surface grinder and I wish I had a bench grinder that used coolant. Abrasives last longer and cut better when flushed with a liquid. But this is different than having a spot of oil on your stone.

I like a dry stone for making a sharp edge and a wet stone for reducing a lot of material.
   - guru - Friday, 12/19/03 12:19:29 EST

Broken Casting: Most machinery frames end up being brazed, not welded. Welding frames is very tricky and generaly results in cracks or breaks somewhere else. Small pieces of cast iron that you can bring the entire part up to a red heat can be welded. Afterwards it is as rough as a fresh casting and often needs complete remachining.
   - guru - Friday, 12/19/03 12:46:14 EST

Richard Postman: author of Anvils in America had his triple bypass surgery yeaterday morning and is reported to have been sitting up this AM. He is still listed as critical but is doing well.
   - guru - Friday, 12/19/03 13:42:05 EST

as long as its not going to be getting extremly hot you can just braze it it will hold ok im shore. most peaple say not to braze it but there usually standing over a broken exaust manifold that will get to hot for the braze.
   dragler - Friday, 12/19/03 14:19:46 EST

CI repair:

Many thanks to all who replied! I have both an arc welder and oxy-acetylene torch at my disposal, so it sound like my options are covered. I'll let you all know how the repair turns out.

   eander4 - Friday, 12/19/03 17:32:20 EST

CI Repair:

If you do any grinding on the parts clean the surfaces with a file, the grinder will leave a residue of carbon that will make it hard to braze.

I didn't believe this, but was trying to braze some broken CI partsand could not get it to stick, called my welding expert and he told me to file the surfaces, worked like a charm
   - Hudson - Friday, 12/19/03 18:00:04 EST

I bought an indstrial grade, 4" X 60" upright belt sander that was a 5hp,460vac, 3Ph machine. This belt sander was equipped with a coolant system that included a water tank and pump.We were grinding composite parts, mallable iron shell, plastic liner, and SS thread inserts. You could hog against the belt, and not melt the plastic. Would be a great Knife grinder, but this machine cost about $4500. It was indeed amazing the amount of swarf, indeed we had to add a strainer on the return to allow the pump to work. Wish they had scrapped that one when the moved!
   - ptree - Friday, 12/19/03 18:08:57 EST

Yet More CI Advice

It's sometimes recommended to sear the surfaces you will be joining with an oxidizing flame from your torch before brazing with a neutral flame or welding with an arc rod. I should have mentioned this in my earlier post.
   SGensh - Friday, 12/19/03 18:26:12 EST

Jock and More Bull:-)

I thought I remembered that it was a 5hp walmart compressor, in "The Anvil" article I read where they interveiwed Tom about the Bull. But still any single stage normal compressor is going to be too small and burn itself up if you are using anything near the hammers potential. Ideally you have a 100CFM+ rotory screw compressor to run an air hammer that is of any size, and atleast an 80 gallon reciever (better yet 250 gallon:-) The anvil on my new style 75# bull is a 6" round solid, 30" long with a heavy duty pipeflange welded to the shaft and bolted to the base, the base is 22" square 2" plate with ~2" radiused corners and 4 flame cut 1.5" holes to attact it to the foundation. (I have an extra baseplate that is 1.5" plate roughly the same size:-) The overall weight of the hammer for shipping is listed at 1100#. When Tom updated the designs I thought he was still shooting for the 9-1 ratio.

Patrick and antivibration pad

I just used some left over 3/4" horse stall mat, but most high denisty rubber type products that won't break down easily work pretty well. The big steam hammers and the big dropforges I guess often had several feet of wood under the hammers base (Some of the base plates were hundreds of tons apparently, a freind in MI told me about some hammers that were being taken offline and the base plates were sold to a Japanesse firm who had to pay to disassemble the building and run a railine into the factory and then haul it to a cargo ship, but they bought all three base plates for the hammers:-) and clamped to the hundreds of TONS of reinforced concrete. The vibration dampening pads that they use on compressors seem to be a layer of heavy neoprene glued to a layer of plywood. As long as your anvil and (extra:-)baseplate are heavy enough you should work pretty well with either wood or rubber mats or some composite of the two... A seperate large reinforced concrete foundation is a really good investment in your hammer. It will be happier and you will be happier, and things won't fall off the shelves in the shop as often:-)
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 12/19/03 22:44:16 EST

Air compressors:
This may be too off-topic, if so please direct me to a site where it would be more appropriate. I've been wanting to make a more serious air compressor, on the cheap. I was going by an old row of buildings that were once the main area for produce wholesalers. (They put boxes of ripe produce out by the road, for the county to haul off as trash. I needed some hog food.)
Well lo and behold, they're all being torn down. I talked to the guy in charge of the demolition. He sold me a bunch of metal goodies for $40, among it all, a compressor that's almost as big as my 1300 cc suzuki motor. It's for large scale refrigeration purposes. The shaft must've got bent by their trac-hoe, but it's not siezed.
I've been told that it might need an oil mister in the incoming air side, and that it won't put out quite as much air as a compressor designed for air, but is this worth pursuing?
The reason I ask here is that I'm always amazed at the diverse and periphreal(SP? where IS that dern dictionary??) knowledge of the participants here. I guess I should't be surprised, as steel and iron are so central to civilization.

Thanks for any help, Jim.
   Jim Donahue - Friday, 12/19/03 23:59:07 EST

Jim, I worked with a fellow that used such a compressor for air. The problem he had was that the thing was designed to use the freon as the lubrication and so was not too good about keeping it out of the output line. There are several varieties so yours may be different.

UPDATE! while waiting on the paperwork from my Albuquerque job offer I had another from just down the road. It was substantially better in all catagories and I've accepted it.
I will be working on ALMA for the NRAO down in Socorro NM (and in Chile later!) (if you read or saw "Contact"; that's the group I'm with...)

Househunting seems to be a bit easier as land is cheap and the odd scrap pile seems to be a zoning requirement for most places down here. *No* mowing the grass, though pitchforking the tumbleweeds off the fence probably makes up for it...

Socorro is a small town and a bit further out form goings on so I guess I will get to do more forging and less other stuff.

Thomas Powers
   Thomas P - Saturday, 12/20/03 09:04:19 EST

Compressor Conversion: Jim, There are lots of things about refridgeration compressors that are different than air compressors. Lubrication as Thomas mentioned and you had previously noted. Pressure output is another (refrigeration is relatively low pressure). Rings are designed for specific speed/load/lubrication conditions. Heat dissapation is also a concern. Two stage air compressors have cooling between the cylinders.

Lubrication requires special compressor oil that has a high flash point so it does not desiel. Most modern compressors use synthetic oils. Those that use oil injection also have oil seperation systems on the output side. Some recycle the oil and others run the oil through the system one time. In either case an ol pumping system is needed as well as the seperator.

The bent shaft sounds like a bit of a problem. Did it have the flywheel on it? These are part of the counterbalance of the compressor, not just a large pulley.

I've known a number of people to get compressors of this type and put a lot of effort into them for naught.

   - guru - Saturday, 12/20/03 10:35:40 EST

Dimension and Weight Problems: I estimated the Bull anvil base plate size as it is not given in their literature (neither is anvil height). However, the flat plate cannot be taken as 100% anvil mass due to springyness of a flat plate. Using 95% (very generous) of the base plate in a circle yeilds a 5.8:1 anvil/ram ratio. Using 100% results in 6.7:1. In either case it is a long way from the 9:1 reported earlier. I went back and looked at the old Bull and it looks like the ratio was fudged and had to have included the entire shipping weight of the machine. . . But then I looked at the anvil dimensions and it still didn't make sense. The best I could get is 7:1 and probably more like 5:1. However, I have none of my early "old Bull" dimensions to go on. This does not seem like a big deal but anything less than a 10:1 ratio is way down on the hammer efficiency curve.

5:1 = 17%
7:1 = 25%
10:1 = 40%
15:1 = 58% (Little Giant)
20:1 = 70% (HD Chambersburg and Bradley)

Modern makers have cut back on material due to cost of material AND shipping. But the results ARE a less efficient machine.

All I ask is that the numbers make sense and that they are not hidden.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/20/03 11:55:31 EST

how do you fit a wooden handle on a knife? i have not the slightest clue of how to do it. also the guard. how do you fit that on?
   - colin - Saturday, 12/20/03 12:25:18 EST

To sharpen, I use the "Scary Sharp" method - abrasive paper glued down to a flat board- grits 100 thru 2000 followed by a few licks of the strop. For lubricant, I use soapy water. Produces a great edge and is very inexpensive.
   adam - Saturday, 12/20/03 13:16:21 EST

Just starting!!
Wanting to buy a large anvil (200 to 400 lbs.)
What is the best to sit a anvil on? Would like to move it around shop.

   David L Lane - Saturday, 12/20/03 13:27:27 EST

Thanks Thomas and Guru. The very first thing I'll do is remove the shaft/crank, and talk to a machine shop. It did come with a big pulley/flywheel, but it's chipped in a few places. I'm in contact with a full time compressor repair guy, he says that might be replaceable.
Apparently, some of the lowriders that the younger folks are making these days use a compressor that requires oil injection, so that might be readily available. But you're right, it might be more trouble than it's worth. Kinda reminds me of some of the elaborate schemes I've heard of criminals going through, just to make a few bucks. If they would've gotten a regular job they'd have more money for less effort. Maybe it's just not as fun.

Also, if anyone's interested, this demolition guy pulled a couple of small forklifts out of the buildings. His trac-hoe must've done the same number on the tops (rollcage?) but a metal worker should be able to fix that. These are small units, about 6' long, 30" wide, and 3' tall, without the rollcage. The steering wheel is missing from at least one, there's a bunch of hydraulic hoses and valves that will need going thru, perhaps replacement. The engines might be siezed, from time alone (moisture in the combustion chamber). One has a disproportionatly large ram, that could be a plus.
All this because he told me he'd sell them CHEAP, (cost of scrap metal?) They're located at the old Forest Avenue produce "row", in Knoxville TN. The demolition guy seems to be there regular work hours, but time is of the essence. E-mail me if you want me to go by there and talk to the guy.
   Jim Donahue - Saturday, 12/20/03 14:13:42 EST

howdy,,,i'm trying to make an anvil table foe a 160 lb anvil for my boss.i have a baseplate with a 17"diam.
i was wondering if there were some good pics. i could look at to help me build a table..thanks for the time......Bryan
   bryan - Saturday, 12/20/03 14:51:47 EST

Anvil stands, check out the iForge demo #144
   adam - Saturday, 12/20/03 15:12:14 EST

Speaking of Anvilstands, I have a complete set of pictures of the anvil stands at the John C. Campbell Folk School, thanks to the Pink Lady, Leah Fuller. Jock, you want them?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/20/03 15:40:33 EST

Grips Colin, You really need to pick up a book on knifemaking. They all cover these subjects better than I can here.

Wood grips are fitted several ways. Try looking at standard kitchen knives and hunting knives. There is nothing hidden.

Kitchen knives most commonly are full tang knives with riveted on slabs. Most of these rivets are special with one having a hollow shank that the other presses into. Some folks used to use brake lining rivets but these are rarer than cutlery rivets. Many bladesmiths also use solid stainless or brass rod for rivets. In this case they countersink the holes just a little for the head to swell when riveted (cold). You can also spin a rivet head with a small drill press and a die with a shallow head depression. The rivets pass through a full tang and fit against a tapered tang. Most bladesmiths bed the slabs in with epoxy when they rivet them on.

The old method of fitting a handle to a tanged blade was to drill or burn a hole through the handle. Burning is often used to make the final fit of the tapered tang into the wood or horn. The ends of the grip are fitted together with the quard and pommel. Then the whole is bedded in with epoxy and the end of the tang upset in the pommel (using epoxy is the modern method, previously nothing was used - dry assembly). Some bladesmiths thread the end of the tang and screw on the pomel. When this is done the length of the grip must be carefully adjusted so that the pommel stops in the right position. Then the whole is assembled with epoxy. Another was is to cross drill and pin the pomel. In this case a pin matching the pommel material is used and then filed and finished flush so that it is invisible. Brass works well for this.

Another way to make a grip with a fitted hole is to make it out of two pieces and carefully inlet the pieces for half the tang in each. Then the whole is glued together on the tang with epoxy filling the gaps.

Some bladesmiths make the guard into a ferrule to help hold the pieces of wood or horn in place. In this case the handle is carefully fitted by hand to fit the tang and the ferrule with some end clearance so that when assembled the exterior joint is tight.

In most cases the handle is partialy shaped before assembly and final shaping done after assembly. The areas that are critical before assembly are the ends where they fit against the guard and pommel. If slabs or multiple pieces are used the other surfaces that fit together are also critical. They all need to be scraped or sanded flat to make as close a joint as possible.

Guards and pommels are made of what ever metal you choose. The rectangular hole for the guard is made by drilling a series of holes and then chiseling and filing out the rest. The hole should be a very snug fit and if necessary it should be fitted to the radius of the tang rather than squaring the shoulder of the tang. Tangs are usualy reduced to round to fit a drilled hole in the pommel. However, on a full tang blade the pommel is two pieces fitted on either side of the tang and riveted on. When this is done the forward edges of the pommel can be sloped toward the top of the blade AND the front. The grip slabs are fitted to this angle and have excess width. Thus they can be pushed tight between the wedge fit of the pommel and guard.

Guards are often silver soldered on and so are pommels ocassionaly.

There are the usual methods and then there are the personal methods. Dozens of methods are used and people contantly discovering and inventing more.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/20/03 16:07:46 EST

Stands: Are they different than the dozen we already have posted?
   - guru - Saturday, 12/20/03 16:13:32 EST

Yes, This stand is very stable, and still adjustable in height. If you want to see them, I'll copy the CD that Pink Lady sent to me and mail it out next week.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/20/03 17:57:26 EST

im 16 and would like to get into metalworking. i have no idea how, im not a complete newbie and already have some knowledge on the subject but little experience or practical knowledge. i'd love to get a forge but have no idea how. i would not be adverse to making one myself but the nearest thing to instructions i have found are pictures which are not at all useful. please tell me if this is even practical. i do have tools and access to materials, i also have the space for it, though not a builing, essentially it's outside, bt slightly covered.
thank you.
   helen exley - Saturday, 12/20/03 18:13:56 EST

Helen, have you read the Getting Started in Blacksmithing article? The link is located at the bottom of the page.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/20/03 18:28:35 EST

On compressors.
Rather than try to convert a low pressure compressor designed for refrigerant. The best way to obtain a good low cost compressor is to talk to the local industrial compressor dealer. Often they can get used compressors for removal when they install a new one. Often industrial compressors are replaced for the reason that the are undersized, old and not energy effiecent. If a industrial user runs a compressor at near capacity for 3 shifts, 6 days a week, a percent or two of effeicency means big bucks for the extra energy to run it. If you can afford to work on it occasionally, a well used but running compressor, may be a better deal than a new import compressor that is not going to last nore than a thousand hours of run.
If you will use a compressor in you shop 8 hours a day, a screw compressor is the most energy effiecent, quiet, and maintaince free. A screw compressor delivering at 125 psi should be in the 4 to 4.5 cfm/hp. A 25hp screw will run your air hammer, and a real nice sandblast unit.
   - ptree - Saturday, 12/20/03 18:53:53 EST

On power hammer/treadle hammer foundations.
The are some terrific drawings etc. in the Machineries Manual. I poured a 36" deep foundation, cut into the extremely hard clay that is my shop floor. I used a piece of urathane conveyor belting between the hammer and the concrete.I have had no concrete dusting/spalling, and the seems to be little noise from the hammer concrete joint.The urathane belting is fiber reinforced, and is available in small pieces from a conveyor supplier in small pieces as they cut to size anyway. This stuff makes very good workbench covers were hot work does not occur.I have a anvil to hammer ratio of about 10:1.
   - ptree - Saturday, 12/20/03 19:04:03 EST

When I had the sign company I used to occasionally rent a compressor for sandblasting signs on site. One of the places I rented from had a unti that was a modified V-8 engine that used four of the cylinders to provide power and the other four to compress air. As I recall, it put out about 75 cfm at 150 psi and was reasonably economical to run.

There is an outfit that sells an inexpensive kit to convert a VW engine to a similar type of compressor. They claim 125 psi and 25 plus CFM. I think the kit costs about $350. Of course, you need a VW engine to start with, and a receiver of some sort. The outfit selling them is:

Dunn-Right INC.
3672 Abbeville Highway
Anderson, SC 29624

I've never seen or used one, but I have seen a number of people writing in VW magazines that they work extremely well and are easy to do.
   vicopper - Saturday, 12/20/03 22:57:53 EST

Can anyone tell me how to form a "deep black" oxide coating on zirconium metal (pure or alloyed)using conventional heating methods? I have tried zirconium alloy 702 at 1300 deg F for 1 hr and get a grey color. 1700 deg F for two hours yields a bright white color. Having decided that this must be tricky business I decided to ask the experts. The black color is needed for decorative items such as medallions, logos etc. Zirconium is required because of its resistance to severe corrosive environments. Any suggestions or references would be greatly appreciated.
   john k - Sunday, 12/21/03 00:53:35 EST

In the 60's the family across the street ran a well drilling biz. The used a homebuilt drill rig, and the oldest son worked at Jeffboat, A large barge and towboat builder as a welder. He had built a welder/compressor that they used to build and repair the drill rig. It used a 6 cylinder chevy, with 4 cylinders providing power, and two cylinders providing compressed air. I was young at the time, and did not notice much else about the rig. I expect that the compressor side provided low pressure air, as a single stage compressor going much above 70-80 psi is going to diesel.If I was going to build an engine driven compressor, I would insist on two stage compression, with some sort of cooler between stages.Otherwise the likely hood of dieseling and loss of effeciency would be large. With the current cost of VW flat fours in this area, and the cost of parts, I would have to be given a free, fresh engine to consider the conversion.I am building a buggy, and fresh engines are in the $1000 to $1500 range here. Overhaul parts to do it right run $300 and up. Considering cost of ownership, I would rent a trailer mounted unit unless I needed the unit alot. If I could find a conversion that made a welder/aircompressor, especially from a more mordern, water cooled engine, I would be interested. For instance, a Chevy cavilier. Buy the car as a junker, use the rear axle for a trailer mount, maybe use the engine/transaxle to run a welder and a real compressor.Use the shaft drives to run independent from each other, using the brakes to start/stop the drive desired.Reason for the little chevy is they are plentiful and very cheap. Also the parts are very cheap.
   - ptree - Sunday, 12/21/03 10:58:05 EST

Zirconium Black John, The color of an oxide coating is created by the oxide of the metal. If the oxide is green the coating is green if black it is black. Zirconium burns leaving a white dusty ash like magnesium and zinc. Iron burns black but its hydrous oxide is red.

For copper alloys there are many chemical coatings but the ones that produce a black contain lead, bismuth and other nasties. The only people I know that use zirconium metal is the nuclear industry due to its radiation transparency. The use it bright and clean.

Zirconium is pyrophoric (it burns freely in air). Once burning adding water will not put it out it only makes it worse. Zirconium chips are prone to spontaneous combustion and cooling chips with water will ignite the metal.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/21/03 12:34:07 EST

Auto engine to Compressor Conversion: I have looked at this several time over the years and it is not a very efficient way to go. The cams and valve opening times produce very ineficient pumping and waste a lot of energy. As to converting late engines it can get very tricky. Exhust ports from cylinders on one side of a V-8 or V-6 are connected to opposites to help warm the intake manifold.

My opinion of VW engines is that they were no good to start so why make something else out of them. . . To put up with VW peculiarities you have to have blind faith and love of them without logic. Yes, it is like religion so I will not discuss it any more.

A few portable compressor manufacturers built six and eight cylinder engine compressor combinations. These had specialy engineered cams and heads. The compressor heads were seperated from the engine heads and often had intercoolers. They were not very popular machines and have been replaced almost universaly by engine driven screw compressors.

If you want a protable gasoline or propane powered compressor and want to do a lot of engine work then why not get a used unit that was designed to do the job. EVERY heavy equipment repair place I have ever seen had a dozen or so scrapped units. These are compressors that had some kind of abuse, warped heads, bad cranks. . . who knows what. But they WERE stationary engine compressor combinations.

If you are in it for the challenge try finding/making parts for a 1950's Hercules engine. . . or an Alis-Chalmers . .

I have two old Sulair units to make one good one. It is like an auto restoration project. The fuel tanks in both are bad and need a replacement, the radiator from one needs the head off the other. There are electrics missing and the sheet metal needs straightening and rust repair. Altogether a pain in the A, and a lot of work that I do not have time for. I was hoping my apprentice could work on it but he has no mechanical abilities at all. . . The way things are going they may end up going to a new home before I ever have time to work on them.

But if you want a PROJECT this is one of those type of things that when you are done you have a recognizable tool with a definite resale value. Homemade air compressors are worth absolutely ZERO except to the builder.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/21/03 13:00:44 EST

Getting Started: Helen, The link in case you missed Paw-Paw's note.
Another if your intent is sword making or bladesmithing. Don't miss the reference page.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/21/03 13:15:30 EST

Want to see a crime in progress?

Go to eBay, and look at item #3261971548 .
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/21/03 17:58:45 EST

Paw Paw,
Re : crime in progress. P.T. Barnum said it all.
" There's a SUCKER born every minute" The sad part is that the seller will most likely get his asking price and then some.
   Harley - Sunday, 12/21/03 18:17:23 EST

Harley, It's obviously been in a fire, and was allowed to cool there. It's worthless as an anvil, and too heavy to use as a door stop. What got me was the fact that he didn't even bother to clean the ash off of it!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/21/03 19:27:43 EST

Have been told that vehicle trunks and hoods have been a higher carbon steel since about 1985. My grinder says a probable yes. Do any of you fellows know what steels they use
or how to find out? I want to make some finger gauntlets.
Thanks for the expertise,
   - Oliver Shank - Sunday, 12/21/03 19:42:29 EST

NO clue Oliver, but I must ask why do you need high(er) carbon sheet metal?
   Ralph - Sunday, 12/21/03 21:08:59 EST

Hi, I am 24 and have been blacksmithing for about 10 years now. Once I had my own forge and 150 pound anvil, my goal was to eventually get an anvil that I only wanted to move once. Well, I found such an anvil last summer and bought it with a good amount of my summers paycheck. Now, I would like to get some info on it.
First of all, it says Vulcan on the side of it. No logos or anything else, just that word. and below that are the numbers which determine its weight. I can't quite remember the exact numbers, but they translated out to 537 pounds. I was told that it was pre 1850's or earlier, but is there anything you all could tell me about it?
   Tim - Sunday, 12/21/03 21:57:02 EST


Vulcan anvils were manufactured by The Illinois Iron & Bolt Company from about 1875 until about 1969. It's a cast iron anvil with a tool steel face, welded on in the mold. Postman ranks it in the third rank. First rank is wrought iron, tool steel face, Second rank is cast steel. Third Rank is cast iron, tool steel face, and last is cast iron anvil shaped object. If you will scrub the sides down with a scotch brite pad, do a rubbing of the logo, name, and whatever else you find and scan, send it email to me, I'll try to date it based on what logo it has on the side.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/21/03 22:33:54 EST

Tim...that's a heck of a substantial anvil and it's size alone makes up for any ills, so long as the face is decent and the table is still welded to the body. Don't ever weld on it. It's a better investment than most, at worst.Have fun with it!..PF
   - Pete F - Monday, 12/22/03 00:07:21 EST

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