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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 22 - 31, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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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

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

Studio 360 on NPR had a nice piece (12/21/03) on Yellin’s gargoyles and other monsters this weekend. You can hear a replay and follow the links to the current exhibit in Philadelphia at: http://www.wnyc.org/studio360/show.html .

I happened to be working in the forge when it was broadcast, so I had to pause my work on my daugehter's-in-law ironbound chest and invoke the name of "St. Samuel"

Cold, clear and "condition orange" on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/22/03 08:17:14 EST

Don't weld on it? I am just curious as to why not? I think I have welded on it about a half a dozen times or so. I am not that great at welding, and its finally coming along, but will welding hurt the anvil? And as for a scan and a picture, I will get a pic of it this next weekend and send it to you "paw paw". that would be great.
The best part about my anvil though, was the cost. for a genuine antique anvil with a near mirror face, I got it for 500$ and the guy threw in a half a dozen pair of tongs with it. and My best friend bought its brother, a anvil of teh same weight and size, but no markings on it whatsoever, except for a number 8 under the horn. they are now side by side in my backyard, waiting for a shop to be built around then next summer.
Its kinda funny now having these huge anvils, our other anvils look like baby anvils, despite the fact that they are both about 150 pounds.
   Tim - Monday, 12/22/03 10:20:16 EST


What he means is not to weld the face itself. It's apt to separate from the body and if that happens it becomes an ASO. The method of welding the fact to the body was a propietory secret.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/22/03 10:53:49 EST

Tim, I think Pete meant electric arc welding.
   adam - Monday, 12/22/03 10:54:48 EST

Automobile Steel: Oliver, The only people that will know exactly is the automobile manufacturer (and they are not going to tell). Higher carbon steel is used so they can use thinner sheet and make a lighter vehical. The thin steel also adds to the crushability factor.

Junkyard Steels: When using ANY scrap steel YOU become the metallurgist and must make your own determination of suitability and processing. Manufacturers change material for many reasons including price and availability and do not need to notify anyone. Manufacturers also consider many things including specific alloys a proprietary or trade secret. Manufacturers may use one steel on one product (or model) and another on a similar product and change either during a production run. It is THEIR decision. There is no way to tell. There are literaly tens of thousands of steel in daily use. The spring on a XXXX year auto may be SAE XXXX steel but that does not mean that all auto springs are that same steel much less another manufacturer's. . .

All you can do is test the specific sample (lots of trial and error), apply it as you best see fit and then test the next piece because you cannot assume any two similar pieces of junkyard steel are the same.

If a product is important too you then buy new steel of a known composition.
   - guru - Monday, 12/22/03 11:14:32 EST

Jock; Ain't no secret what they made the hood on my Grand Marquis out of ! I don't know if I can even say it ! AL ....ALOOM ....... ALOOMANUMM. Aaaaaargghh. My keyboard didn't even want to spell it. I'll sniff around the R & D lab and see if I can find out anything about trunks and hoods.
   3dogs - Monday, 12/22/03 12:19:17 EST

Ah, but what KIND of aluminIum. . ;)
   - guru - Monday, 12/22/03 12:45:50 EST

I like to try some hot forging 1/8" or thicker Aluminum sheet to forge some leafs and dogwood flowers. I tried some samples but they just turned out to be OOPPSS! you know what I mean, now you see it now its gone. What grade of Alu. lends itself to hot coal forging and what heat range would I be using. I be most appreciated
   Heinz Zach - Monday, 12/22/03 14:13:46 EST

Forging Al-

Heinz, you are just going to have to play with this because Al melts before you can see any color in it. What you probably should do is forge it in a gas forge and use a timed heat up cycle ex 7 min, and then forge regardless of color. The other alternative is to use Tempil sticks that melt about 50 degrees lower than the Al you are forging. Pull your piece out of the fire as soon as the Tempil stick melts. Either method should work, but I think that a gas forge and tempil stick combo would be much easier than a coal forge for Al.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 12/22/03 14:48:09 EST

Aluminium: Heinz, the forging temperature for aluminium is much too low for heating in a coal forge. In thin sections it will cool much too fast to actualy have a "forging heat" if you manage not to melt it.

For making decorative work such as flowers the best aluminium would be 1000 series or pure aluminium. It is very soft and can be worked quite a bit before it work hardens. I would carefully heat it with a torch and quench to anneal then work cold until it was starting to show some hardness and then anneal again.
   - guru - Monday, 12/22/03 15:23:54 EST

PPW, Guru

I just sent you an email with images asking your advice and wanted to let you know.

Thanks in advance,

Steve in New York
   Smulch - Monday, 12/22/03 15:44:30 EST


The numbers relating anvil-to-hammer ratio to efficiency are interesting, thanks. Where (what reference) is this hammer efficiency curve? Since efficiencies are commonly energy out/energy in, or work out/work in, to get these numbers it seems like someone had to quantify "hit harder", which is the qualitative way we so often talk about hammers. I can see that the input quantity might be the kW-hrs drawn from the utility, but would still need some quantitative measure of the work done. Deformation (stock spreading?) per blow under some specified conditions, maybe?

Trying to relate the efficiencies to mechanical dimensions... if I assume a 500-lb anvil and an 100-lb hammer (5:1), that would be a 17% efficiency. The same anvil with a 25-lb hammer (20:1), or 70%. Then can I say that the hammer "effectiveness" is proportional (not necessarily equal to) (100)(.17), or 17 lbs for the first case, and (25)(.7), or 17.5 lbs for the second case? That would say that for the same 500-lb anvil, the 100-lb hammer and the 25-lb hammer would "hit as hard". Likely too simplistic, but an interesting thought. That much change in hammer size would allow (or require) other changes that would surely enter into the "effectiveness". Probably I'm not even correct to assume linearity like I just did...


   Steve A - Monday, 12/22/03 18:18:05 EST

Smulch's anvil photos: This was a good call. The anvil Steve was looking at appears to have been under water for a long time. Half the face had sererated and been torn or corroded off. The body appeared to have deep corrosion crevices (associated with wrought iron being under water). We advised him to pass on this one and saved him a lot of dissapointment.
   - guru - Monday, 12/22/03 18:20:08 EST

Anvil/Ram Ratio: The numbers I gave were from an often sited curve published by Chambersburg Engineering Co (now defunct). I believe the efficiency is related to loss of energy to the Earth and not going into the work. A stationary anvil always moves or compresses to some degree when struck. This translates to energy that goes into the Earth and not the work. You can never have 100% efficiency. The Chambersburg graph stops at 40:1 and 95%. This is at the point in a square log curve where the line goes almost straight up on to infinity. You would have to quaddruple the anvil mass (160:1) to get a few more percent over 95%.

   - guru - Monday, 12/22/03 18:55:37 EST

Hammer to anvil: I think this has to do with the way the impact energy gets divided up between the anvil and the hammer which in turn affects the rebound of the hammer. When two objects of different masses collide in inelastic collision, the smaller object gets more of the impact energy (the momentum of both is equal but not the kinetic energy). This is why its a significant advantage to be in the heavier vehicle during a collision - or why you can withstand the recoil from a rifle . At some point this effect is so great that very little of the energy is taken up by the more massive object - ie the anvil. I havent done the math but I suspect it's somewhere past 15:1
   adam - Monday, 12/22/03 19:03:31 EST


Questioning one point. "inelasit collision". In practical terms, I suppose this is true, but there is SOME deformation any time two masses collide, is there not?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/22/03 19:12:52 EST

easy question for the guru or those that know: i recently tried some "blacksmith coke". i could not get it going and i suspect inadequate blast. i am using the large champ 400, but the conection to the fire pot is choked down quite a bit. i know this is contributing and i will correct it soon. the real question i have is the position of the clinker breaker. it is a triangular piece of cast iron. i have the flat side facing the fuel. i believe this is correct. is it??


   rugg - Monday, 12/22/03 19:15:57 EST

Is it possible to weld wrought iron with an arc welder?
   Bob G. - Monday, 12/22/03 20:09:01 EST

I am new to the trade and have a question. I recieved a new firepot for Christmas (I have been using an old cast iron sink) and from several books I have read I need to line it with fire clay before I use it. I never did this with the sink and it does look a little worse for wear. Is it best to line the fire pot and if so, what is the best way to go about it?

ps Dumb question. How do you pronounce "tuyere"? I have seen it written everywhere but never heard it spoken.
   shack - Monday, 12/22/03 20:27:44 EST

Steve A
These numbers and ratios seem to consider the anvil a free object having only it’s own mass, however if your anvil is mounted on a post and the post sunk into the ground then the mass of the anvil is linked to the Earth in a way that gives it a relative mass far greater than that of the anvil itself. If I remember my physics correctly, (and I probably don’t considering the time elapsed and the fact that I made a D-, so feel free to correct me) the dispersion of force should make the relative mass of said anvil about the same as that of the Great Pyramid.
   shack - Monday, 12/22/03 20:43:05 EST

inelastic: It's a simplification. No collision is purely inelastic there is always some deformation, some loss of energy to generate sound etc. My physics book gives the example of billiard balls but even those deform a little and they do let out a "click". Of course, the point of a forging blow IS deformation. But this is a useful way of thinking about what happens to the energy that isnt absorbed by deformation - moving the anvil is a waste but rebounding the hammer makes the energy available for the next blow
   adam - Monday, 12/22/03 20:43:44 EST


If it is one of the Centaur firepots, you don't need to line it with anything. If it is a thin cast iron forge pan, then a little clay wouldn't hurt. The big enemy of firepots and forges isn't the heat as much as it is the corrosive compounds formed by the combination of coal and water and heat which rust them away pretty quickly. Keeping things clean and dry will do wonders.

Tuyere is a French word, I think, and is usually pronounced "tweer". It is spelled all sorts of different ways, too.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/22/03 20:52:13 EST


Tuyere is a french word meaning Air Pipe. It is pronounced as if it was spelled tweer and sounds like queer.


With the flat side up toward the fuel, the air is spread to the sides. With the flat side down and the "ridge" toward the fuel, the air is concentrated in the middle. Coke is a much more complicated (to me) fuel for blacksmithing. It requires a LOT more air than charcoal or coal.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/22/03 20:57:58 EST


Coke is much more difficult to start than coal. It has little or no volitiles to burn at low temperature to burn the pure carbon. It requires an oxy-acetylene torch or a coal fire to get it going then a constant blast of air. Hand crank and bellows require a full time operator (apprentice, slave. . ).

Firepot, The heavy cast iron pots do not get lined with clay. Claying was reserved for thin cast iron pans that tended to crack from heat. Some flat bottomed forges were improved by making a ring of clay at the joint of the tuyeer and the pan forming a shallow fire pot.

Note that not all fire pots are equal. Some brands are 1/2" or less in thickness at the base and can be burned through if used heavily. The kind of heat that will burn through a pot will melt many refractories. I think the Kaynes currently carry the heaviest fire pot on the market but I am not sure.
   - guru - Monday, 12/22/03 22:33:44 EST

inelastic collision That is the definition of infinite force. At infinite force matter=energy (E=mc2) and things get very exciting. All of a sudden cold fusion is easy. . . its not.

Forget soft billiard balls. Hard steel ball bearings are springy as rubber. It is the local deformation at the point of contact between two hard objects that store and release the energy of contact. That is why a ball bearing bounces when dropped on a hard surface. The harder the surface the more energy is given back and the higher the ball bounces. . . thus the ball bearing hardness test.

When analyising the efficiency of an anvil to hammer the masses are treated as if they are floating in space. If the two masses are equal and the surfaces hard and resiliant the moving mass transfers its motion to the stationary body and then stops moving. When a small mass strikes a larger mass the velocity of the larger mass is a fraction of the velocity of the smaller mass in direct proportion to the differences in mass/energy - the rebound mass/energy. Idealy you want the large mass, (the anvil) to not move at all. But for this to occur the ratio between masses must be infinite. At infinity:1 the efficiency = 100%. Chambersburg's chart says that at 20:1 efficiency = 70%, 12:1 = 50%. Darn good compared to infinite mass. . . Good place for some unobtainium. . .

I haven't had time to formalize the physics of the unequal bodies (its been 40 years since I studied physics). I'd love a short article on the subject for an article on anvils.
   - guru - Monday, 12/22/03 22:58:19 EST

Arc welding wrought: Bob, Yes it can be done but it is messy. The layers of slag in the wrought melt out and mix with the flux resulting in undercuts and pinholes. With practice you can do a fair job but remember that there are different grades of wrought with different ammounts and coarsness of grain. You may weld one piece easily and have a fit with another.

Wrought gas welds better due to the lower temperatures and forge welds the best.
   - guru - Monday, 12/22/03 23:03:37 EST

Guess I wont be attempting to repair my wrought iron anvil then! Fortunately the damage is only cosmetic.
   Bob G. - Monday, 12/22/03 23:23:43 EST

Oliver, I worked for Ford Mo. Co. for 35 years, the last 17 years as a metal finisher on hoods and doors. In the 80's a new type of steel for surface panels was introduced that was harder to work with (lots of split corners), harder to dent and harder to repair. The only name I recall being used to refer to the new-thinner steel was bake hard! We were never told the composition. It has about the same properties as being case hardened.
   Jerry - Tuesday, 12/23/03 02:04:06 EST

3dogs--the aluminium hoods were a pleasure to work on & with compared to truck hoods.
   Jerry - Tuesday, 12/23/03 02:08:24 EST

Elastic Physics, Car Sheet Metal

There's a lot I've forgotten since I took physics, but I'm 99% sure that an *elastic* collision is one where the objects are not permanently deformed and the total kinetic energy is the same before and after the collision. There's no such thing as a perfectly elastic collision, but you can get pretty close with hardened steel (so long as it doesn't exceed its elastic limit!). Collisions of rubber balls can be fairly elastic too; they deform a lot but not permanently.
An *inelastic* collision would be one between sandbags (or a hammer and hot steel). The objects come together, deform and mostly stop.
Car sheet metal -- an metalurgist (maybe Quenchcrack) here or across the street posted about microalloy steels in car sheet metal. If I remember right, they are precipitiation hardening, like some alluminum alloys. You anneal by quenching and then harden by heating to a few hundred degrees and holding (just about the opposite of carbon alloys). I seem to remember that some alloys are formulated so that they harden in the paint ovens.
   - Mike B - Tuesday, 12/23/03 06:44:20 EST

Heinz, the aluminium I have found to work well is 6063 or 6061. The 6063 is a little softer. The best way to know the proper forging heat is to use one of the wooden paint stirring sticks. Swipe it on the aluminium bar and when it leaves a brown streak, pull it out and start hammering. It works like bronze, but much softer. We used gas, but careful coal MIGHT work.
   - dave dufficy - Tuesday, 12/23/03 08:15:07 EST

Steel Balls:

Actually, as my physics teacher loved to demonstrate, on a hard surface steel balls bounce higher than rubber balls. (This was before "superballs", so I don't know if it still holds true.)

Gas Forge Question:

"I are only humble dirt burner." However, I've been running the baby balrog (NC Forge Whisper Baby) a lot as I work on Christmas gifts, with about 13 or 14 psi (rather than the recommended 12) on the gauge, figuring that a little reducing atmosphere is not a bad thing. What is the range I have to play with here?

I will admit that Oakley Forge tends to be a bit warmer in the winter, running the balror with the door open, than with the coal forge going with the door and window open and the exhaust fan in action. The CO detector consistently measures 0 ppm, with the gas forge, so the open door (with the tank outside) seem to do the trick. Plus the wif got me some nice, insulated leather boots for my birthday last month, and for Christmas I'm hoping for some more heavy wool socks. (It doesn't take much to keep me happy! ;-)

Coldy and partly cloudy on the banks of the Potomac; rain tonight, just in case the swamp wants some more of our lawn.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/23/03 09:03:50 EST

Forge Pressure: Bruce, mine runs closer to the 7 to 10 PSI range but when we want to push it for heavier work we rev it up to 12-15 PSI. The problem is that these gauges are highly inaccurate and what works for me may not work for you. My much more expensive but older HD propane regulator I bought from the welding supplier now runs my melting furnace at 0 to 2 PSI. I know ZERO is wrong so the 2 PSI is more likely 5-10. The gauge was very accurate when new but has gotten sluggish over 18 years. . .

Just tweek it until you are happy.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/23/03 09:48:33 EST

I'm looking for a few idea's to build a forge for my self just looking for one to best fit my needs I'm looking to start as a hobby
   rick wall - Tuesday, 12/23/03 09:53:37 EST

Aluminum. Dave Dufficy has covered it pretty well. My comments are in the interest of lore from a fogy-fied, former horseshoer. We were told to use 6061, because it had been extruded and was therefore, forgable. Some shoers used to sprinkle a few pine splinters on the work and when they saw smoke, the aluminum was ready to forge. Another way was to swipe the piece on the apron to look for scorch and smoke.

In a coal fire, aluminum has a tendency to attract fly ash and coal dust to its surface. A modicum of success in terms of cleanliness can be had by placing a 1/4" steel plate on the fire and heating it first. Lay the aluminum piece on the hot plate.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/23/03 09:55:13 EST

inelastic - A quick peek into my Sears & Zemansky shows that Mike is right and I have it backwards. In an inelastic collision the bodies stick together and move as one. In an elastic collision the momentum is conserved but not the kinetic energy and so you get the rebound effect. S&Z gives the example of billiard balls and goes on to say that the only completely elastic collisions (known) are those between atomic and subatomic particles.
   adam - Tuesday, 12/23/03 10:56:11 EST

Well, I got it wrong. New term I should have looked up. Like I said, its been many decades since I last studied technical physics.

However, I am right about analyzing hammer and anvil as bodies floating in space.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/23/03 11:13:54 EST

Forges: Rick, What kind of forge? Charcoal, coal, gas, oil, hand powered, electric blower????

See our plans page to start. There are gas forge links on the gas burner plan.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/23/03 11:42:17 EST

I have recently got a small forge,probably for horse shoeing.It has a cast iron pan with a #40 Lancastor blower.Anyway I reacently went to work in Colorado,where I can get coal.I live in West Texas,So you can imagine it is not around here.I get it in Leadville and the size is softball or bigger,What would be a proper size to burn in this forge? thanks J...
   jimmy - Tuesday, 12/23/03 12:20:21 EST

Thanks Guru and Adam and everyone else who has been in on the anvil mass thread. At some risk of betraying geekiness, I'm really hoping to find some time to tinker with the analysis. But there are so many things where the math and physics fascinate me that I usually wind up doing a little envelope analysis, or even just guessing, and then going ahead and building something. ;) Every year I figure on doing some of this while away from the shop visiting for holidays, but most relatives are so horrified by someone sitting in the corner scribbling on a pad...

On elastic/inelastic, I got caught out, too! I knew what was meant, and didn't even think about the terms. ;)

Brought a selection of Christmas projects in to work today to show off a little. The response has been gratifying, and humbling.

   Steve A - Tuesday, 12/23/03 12:53:09 EST

Steel for cars - I can't say about autobody sheet, except noticing it is thinner, and if you have a late model panel damaged they usually replace versus repairing/hammering it back to shape. Can say a little about steel for springs - in the early 80's I worked for J&L Steel as a bar product research met. One of the things we were trying was development of microalloyed steel (relatively low carbon, doped with columbium and nitrogen + I don't remember what else) Goal was to replace 5160 for car springs, the advantage was that required properties would be reached by controlled cooling from the hot forming/forging operation thus eliminating the additional quench and temper required for 5160. I got laid off in a force reduction when the steel mills went kaput in Pittsburgh, but I've seen an announcement in the last year or 2 in Metals Progress announcing the commercial realization of such a product, only about 20 years after I was playing with it. Hope the information is of some general use to all. Gavain
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 12/23/03 13:07:38 EST

Bake Hardening Alloys:

These alloys are considered microalloys in that they have much less total alloy content than a regular alloy steel like 4140/5160. These alloys don't have a great deal of carbon, as the harden not from queching, but during the "tempering" of the paint bake cycle. I can't tell you the names or compositions, but I do remember hearing about them in shcool. They are probably not good for tools/knives etc, but they are very good for dent resistant applications.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 12/23/03 13:09:17 EST

Thank you all for your input an the Alum. forging. I'm ready to roll the fire is starting. I keep you posted. In mean time merry Christmas.Heinz
   Heinz Zach - Tuesday, 12/23/03 14:21:32 EST

Just Faxed my signed acceptance to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro NM---time to go out and start scrounging metal down here!

Looking at houses; found one place out in the boonies, 5 acres,
   - ThomasP - Tuesday, 12/23/03 14:50:39 EST

Just Faxed my signed acceptance to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro NM---time to go out and start scrounging metal down here!

Looking at houses; found one place out in the boonies, 5 acres, "guest house", water producing windmill, drop dead georgeous shop---concrete pad, high roof, storage loft, roll up garage door, roofed outside area for forge, electricity and water, etc, cheap!...only problem---no house.

Saw another place closer to town, 1 acre, great house, *no* shop and at the top end of our price range...

Still looking

Thomas (supposed to be orange) reporting in from NM (found wrought iron scrap at a couple of the house sites we looked at...)
   - ThomasP - Tuesday, 12/23/03 14:51:13 EST


If you have a shop, who realy needs a house? (grin)

I live in a tiny two-room cottage, about 350 sq. ft. total. But the neighborhood is dead quiet and the rent is cheap.

The shop I am building will end up having more than twice that area. Seems perfectly reasonable to me. My wife doesn't even mind. Much. She said she'll be glad to ge the porch area clear of my bench and other things.

So, I'd definitely go for the guest house and big shop with 5 acres. In a heartbeat. You can always get around to building a bigger house someday. Maybe. (grin)

Rich living small in Paradise, the Virgin Islands
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/23/03 15:01:12 EST


Bad News: You're even further south.

Good news: You're even closer to family.

I've still got a few parks for you scattered in the southern part of the state ( http://data2.itc.nps.gov/parksearch/state/state.cfm?statevar=nm ). I'd go for the five acres with the workshop, and get the wif a double-wide. Then you can use the shop, and your talents, to build here the home of her dreams. Looks like you'll need to have dry moats though, this isn't Las Vegas, NV. (Just as well, that...)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/23/03 15:30:43 EST


Go for the shop and the five acres. Then put Momma in a modular home, (NOT a double wide)!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/23/03 15:42:13 EST

Aluminium - the properties change when heated- a friend of mine had some scuba tanks painted then baked under a heat lamp. When he pumped the first tank it exploded. Hurt him really bad. He was no nubie to scuba - he was the guy who got a phone call and flew to South America one night and rescued a diver lost in an underwater cave. The diver had found an air pocket and survived. He said he thought Steve was an English speaking angel.True story, but then cave divers are a bit nuts, anyway...
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 12/23/03 16:08:49 EST

Microalloys and Bake Hardening: These are the kinds of things the junkyard steel user needs to know and avoid. The so called conventional wisdom that most auto springs are 5160 was just shot to pieces and the replacement is NOT a blacksmith friendly steel. On the other hand the bake hardening steel may be perfect for the armourer BUT the exact type and heat treatment MUST be known. . .

Will add this to the FAQ on using junkyard steels.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/23/03 16:10:30 EST

(Like sky divers), parascuba, Ptree?
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 12/23/03 16:11:30 EST

Ptree is NOT a water type of guy. would rather take an air bath than...
   - ptree - Tuesday, 12/23/03 16:21:27 EST

On auto steels,
I read a lot about LAHS(low alloy high strenght) steels for structuals, but had not heard about the spring replacement alloy. My current employer, forges axles. Conventional wisdom was that axles were 4141. Nope, not in 15 years, i'm told. Axles below 13/8" od forging stock are 1050, and 1541H above in all the spec's i've seen. 1541H heat treats deep fast, and will quench crack on a dare. Use oil to quench and temper carefully.
   - ptree - Tuesday, 12/23/03 16:25:21 EST

The scuba tanks were aluminium. rated @ 3,000 psi. I had a steel tank explode @ abt 3,000 right behind me @ a friend's shop-didn't hurt me but scared the hell out of me. Don't mess around with high pressure unless you know what you are doing. A high pressure leak in a hydradraulic system can inject hydraulic fluid under the skin - does a lot of damage. I wasn't there but I saw the damage to the poor guy's arm. High pressure; gas, hydraulic or steam can kill you if you are careless. Not to be a fear monger, just be careful - Thet are unforgiving of careless, incapacity or neglect.
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 12/23/03 16:26:01 EST

I read your note to Thomas out loud to Margie, She laughed aloud, she thought I wrote it-- until the part about living is the Islands. She would trade the house for a beach.

Thomas you will love the land of enchantment. But always remember to shake out your boots before you put them on, the Creepycrallies love warm moist places and some(most) bite.
   habu - Tuesday, 12/23/03 17:12:50 EST


Learned that lesson at Ft. Ord, CA. Used it in TRB.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/23/03 17:24:12 EST

Bad Aluminium: Ron, Many types of aluminium are age hardening. It is accelerated by baking at about paint baking temperature. Most HP cylinders are annealed so they can withstand repeated stretching. I son't know about aluminum cylinders but I would bet the same rules apply. Baking the aluminium probably age hardened it as hard (and brittle) as it could get. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/23/03 18:07:55 EST

Lighting a Coal (Coke) Forge
I found a good way to light my coal forge is to use Trioxane, I've fought with paper and kindiling more than I would like to admit. Coke from the previous session was very difficult, then a friend gave me some trioxane, and I'll never scrounge for kindling again.
   Crowsfoot - Tuesday, 12/23/03 20:01:00 EST

Ron Childers<
To echo what you said about pressure being dangerous, I agree completely. I ran a R & D lab, and did testing to 30,000psi. I also did burst testing. Forged steel valves and fittings along with boiler tube etc. At 15,000 to 19,000 psi a boiler tube sounds like a stick of dynamite when it ruptures. Sounds as I tested it in a test cell with special walls.
Steam maims and kills, and pressure does not have to be high. I saw a photo of a 45,000# steam tractor that flipped, killing two. It ruptured at about 25psi.
Hydraulic fluids will inject under the skin, with automatic infection, at pressures around 2800psi and up. Needs a very small hole to make a needle jet. Never handle hoses under pressure.
   ptree - Tuesday, 12/23/03 20:19:37 EST

Expanding on pressure injection of fluids etc. Any gas that is compressed in a vessel, if suddenly relaesed can kill be overpressure wave. It only takes a few psi in a shock wave from a sudden release to cause internal bleeding. I saw a large maintnance shed at a quarry that had all the windows blown out, most of the siding blown off, and the electrical conduit blown apart. Killed a man. What caused it? A Large rubber tire loader tire ruptured...
   ptree - Tuesday, 12/23/03 20:58:08 EST

Once saw a hangar at Ft Wainwright Army Post just outside Fairbanks, Alaska with a large hole in the roof, almost at the pridgeline of the roof. This hangar regularly had C-130's in it. The cause?

An idiot air craft mechanic inflating a C-130 tire FLAT on the floor, without using the cage!. When the tire blew, it launched the wheel straight up through the roof. The only thing that kept the mechanic from being courts martialed is that the tire took his empty head with it when it went up.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/23/03 21:27:40 EST


What you said about the age hardening of aluminum high pressure cylinders and the problem being exacerbated by baking is very true. When I was getting re-certified as a diver about twenty years ago, the aluminum cylinders were a fairly new thing. One of the things that was stressed in training was that they should NEVER be painted by anyone other than the tank manufacturer. Not the diver, not the dive shop, nobody but the company that made them. The reason given was that the cleaning, prepping and curing of the paint could affect the resilience of the aluminum. Resulting in just the sort of catastrophic failure that Ron described.

Unfortunately, the currently popular SCUBA certifying organization doesn't pass on this bit of wisdom, nor a lot of others. They're big on having lots of different levels of certification, and charging for each one, but a bit sketchy on some of the details. Like teaching Boyle's Law and other pertinent laws of physics which your life revolves around when breathing compressed gasses under high ambient pressures. Might be the reason that some folks say the organization's name is an acronym for Put Another Dollar In.

Ron is dead on about high pressure of any sort. Very dangerous stuff. Hydrotesting of cylinders isn't just a requirement, it's a life-saving good idea. Those who don't maintain their h-p lines are called "casualties" in many cases. The same applies to any situation/material where the stresses are high, like winch cables, load lines, bearing members, and so on and so on. For all that I tease my engineer friends about their overkill mentality on stress factors, I respect them for it very much and try to emulate it. I would like to live a lot longer, and I've come to appreciate the wisdom of the old Persian proverb, "Fortune is infatuated with the efficient."
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/23/03 21:40:41 EST

At no time is freedom of speech more precious
than when a man hits his thumb with a hammer.
Marshall Lumsden
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/23/03 23:09:05 EST

I have a question for the many great Blacksmiths, that I'm trying to pick their brains and hoping that some of their hard earned knowledge might rub of on me. I live in an area with a lot of salt air and lots of rain. When I'm working on a project that involves scrolles with another scroll coming out of the main one, or putting leafs on stems that wrap around the stem, or putting on collars that I'm using to join scrolls with, I always wonder about the spots where moisture can enter and rust, like inside the collar. Where sand blasting will not reach for a good paint job. What could I do in areas like that. Use liquid metal or Epoxy to putty up thoes places before painting?
   Heinz Zach - Tuesday, 12/23/03 23:21:18 EST

G'day Guru. I am a 60 year young Aussie, who has been interested in Blacksmithing for years. I built myself a forge out of a plough disk, which worked ok for a while, but now I'm trying to do a lot more, and cannot get enough bulk charcoal into the fire zone. I am adapting my forge by putting a, for the want of a better word, well into the bottom of the forge, using a heavy guage piece of angle iron.
My problem is how to drill a tuyeye into the angle, or I remember reading a book some time ago, about drilling the tuyeye into the front of the angle, pacing down the channell.
Is this feasable or do you have a better suggestion.
   Ian D Secomb JP - Wednesday, 12/24/03 03:29:58 EST

G'day Guru.
This is all a mystery to me.(Computer)
I'm a 60 year young Aussie who has been tinkering with blacksmithing for years. I built a charcoal forge out of a plough disk, but am finding it too shallow to maintain a good fire zone. In an attempt to solve this, I have made up a trough of heavy guage 6" angle iron, with paltes welded on the end. My problem is how to drill a tuyere into the angle, or can I place the tuyere on the end facing down the channell?
   - Ian D Secomb JP - Wednesday, 12/24/03 04:48:33 EST

Just wishing everyone a big merry christmas and a peaceful new year!!!!!!!!!

Hope Santa can fit my new anvil into my stocking..........isn't that what we all want

Cheers! From Australia
   banjo - Wednesday, 12/24/03 06:57:15 EST


I also live in an area of high salat and rain (the Virgin Islands), and the best thing I have found is to clean thoroughly after sandblasting, then PREP the metal. I have found that a solution called Ospho works very well for preventing rust in inaccessible areas. It is a liquid which you paint, daub or spray on and let it run into the nooks and crannies. Let it sit overnight and then rinse with fresh water and dry. It converts the surface of the steel to Fe2O3, which is more stable than FeO2 and also phosphates the iron, all making it much less susceptible to rusting. After drying, prime with a 90% zinc primer, then a red or black oxide primer and paint with two or three top coats of automotive acrylic enamel. I've had scrolls that I painted this way stay just fine for seven years mounted on a building less than a hundred feet from the ocean.

Check www.ospho.com to lacate a supplier near you.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/24/03 07:52:18 EST


First, this is a forum, not a chat room, nad things take a while to happen. Like the screen says when you hit the "Post" button, Don't Panic. One push will do it. If you don't see your post appear, then use the Refresh button on your browser. You'll see it, trust me.

To answer your question:

You can burn a hole through with an oxy/acetylene torch if you have one, and weld a pipe fitting on. If you only have an arc welder, you can still cut a hole, but it will be pretty crude. High amperage, long arc should burn a hole in it for you.

You can also use a pipe coming in from the end, as a side-blast forge. Many Europeans and most Japanese prefer a side-blast forge, I'm told.

In any case, for a charcoal forge to work well, you need for it to be a fairly deep fire. Around 8" or so works for me usually, but sometimes I find I need to get it about ten inches or more deep to develop a nice neutral or reducing fire for welding. I use a hand-crank blower on my charcoal forge and have found that a steady, not too hard blast gives the best results. I think an electric blower with an air gate would be better, however. Just haven't gotten around to it yet.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/24/03 08:04:33 EST

Another Note on Charcoal

Seems to work well with a side blast forge, although I've used it in my bottom blast often enough. The only disadvantage is that when it burns down to small coals, you goet the "volcano effect" if you run too high a blast. Nothing like blowing little hot coals a couple of feet up in the air.

Also, when fore welding or just getting up to higher temperatures, one old trick on this side of the pond was to put a piece of sheet metal on top of the mound to hold the coals down and the heat in.

Merry Christmas to y'all. I doubt if I'll get an anvil in my stocking, but I'm hoping for stockings. :-)

Cloudy and warm on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your NATIONAL CATHEDRAL (site of much good metalwork by Yellin and others): http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/index.shtml
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/24/03 09:01:21 EST

Hidden Places in Ironwork: Heinz, To add to what VIc had to say, note that the Ospho will get into any place that water can run. THEN, before I spray with zinc primer I use a little thinned so that it will run into crevices and apply it to the obvious trouble spots working it into the tight places. After that I spray the entire piece.

The four step process, clean, zinc prime, neutral prime then topcoat will hold up for decades. Adding phosphating will further increase the rust resistance.

This sounds like a lot of coats but when properly applied the finished surface texture should still be crisp and visualy pleasing.

The only better system is to have the work hot dip galvanized. Be sure to age the zinc galvanizing or use an etching zinc primer before other paint.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/24/03 09:31:59 EST

Crevice corrosion.
I have had very good luck with another product called XTEND. This is a DURO product found in most hardware stores in the US. This product works best if there is a bit of rust already on the steel. It works very well on heavy rust, if the loose rust is removed first. I tend to seal weld every joint in outside items that are electric welded. This is to best solution if using this process. For any pinholes that I discover in paint prep, I use spotting putty, that comes in a tube, at autobody supply shops.
For what its worth, powder coat seems to fail in a year or so, and epoxy paints chalk in a couple of years in the sun. My paint supplier says that urathane is the most durable in the outside environment in the midwest. I don't use the two part system, as I don't do that much painting. I do use high quality red oxide primer, and top coat with an acrylic enamel. Without any prep except wirebrushing, I get several years in the outside enviro.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/24/03 09:53:30 EST

Paint and Class of Work: I spoke to a fellow yesterday that quoted a railing job at $400/ft. The hundred feet of very heavy textured and forged rail is a $40,000 job. It is going to have a custom colored paint job with highlights to bring out the texture. Imagine if this started rusting in two years.

We often purchase common things that we would be upset if they started showing rust in four or five years. Good quality production lawn furniture, automobiles and trucks, plated tools. Many automobiles have a 7 to 10 year warrantee on paint. . . Considering the cost of a new car some people will be paying on one this long. . The paint should (and ususaly does) last for 10 years or more. I have two 16 year old Dodge vans sitting in my driveway that have perfect paint (they did not have the troublesome clear coat). I suspect their paint will still be rust free when they are over 20 years old (except that one is going to the crusher).

MIG welding helps a lot on fabricated items to reduce rust due to the lack of flux and slag. But any welding using flux makes a mess with hydroscopic borax that attracts water, expands under paint and causes flaking and rust if it is not removed entirely.

I've seen equipment that was wiped off with a rag, painted with a brush and moved outside that didn't show any rust for over 5 years. But I have seen things painted the same way that were rusting in months.

If you do nice ironwork and you want to keep a good reputation then be sure to include enough in your bid to paint the work RIGHT. If it is a competitive bid situation then quote a 2 year paint job and a 20 year paint job (describing the difference). If the customer picks the 2 year job then you are off the hook and still competitive. Offering a choice may also put the competition in the hot seat.

Several years ago I read an article about the corrosion resistance of wrought iron vs. steel. The article had a recommended maintenance schedule that would let you get away with a single coat of paint over a dirty surface! So where was the advantage of the more expensive wrought? Since I first commented on this the article was changed. . .

Customer maintenance is something you cannot rely on. Most often ironwork is installed and repainting is not considered by the customer until there is flaking paint and rust stains running across another surface. By this time there is already deep pitting.

If you start with a 20 year finish the first repaint job over the original finish will extend the protection another 5 to 10 years. But when you start with a 2 year job the chances are that there will be a need to repaint every 2 years unless the customer backs up and starts where you should have. . .

When we make craftsy items and put a quick wax finish on them that is one thing. But when we do exterior architectural work or public sculpture it is a different thing. These things will often be in place for hundreds of years. So what is a 20 year paint job compared to 200 years?
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/24/03 11:15:07 EST

ptree, i am surprised that powder coating fails in a year. was the metal sandblasted first? i am curious because i am working on a gate (yard entry) and eventually will need to choose how i am going to finnish it. unfortunately, i have to paint it, or color it, a certain "ball park" color. it does see water from sprinklers. i have thought that i should braze the joints to protect them from rust, as it seems to me that joints are prone to rust. i have had wheels powder coated before. they seem to resist chipping and oxidation better than painting. i do realize that cast aluminum is different than steel. i read mr whitaker's recipe of primer and paint in the "cook book". worked well for him. i cant picture whitaker sending a piece to be powder coated...thanks
   rugg - Wednesday, 12/24/03 11:40:04 EST

Sun's fierce out here in NM, I'm thinking of going with all stainless for the gate my mother's been hinting for for a long time---no excuse about trouble shipping if I'm just down the road a piece...

Thomas off to the farmer's market and then to get some more metal out of the desert...
   - ThomasP - Wednesday, 12/24/03 11:52:30 EST

Protecting Ironwork: Jock, a couple of times you have posted detailed instructions on weatherproofing ironwork which I ignored because, at that time, I wasnt interested. How about digging it out and making it a FAQ?
   adam - Wednesday, 12/24/03 12:31:57 EST

Most of the common powder coats are polyester, or epoxy, They are electrostaticly applied and then fused in an oven. I have had failures where the powder was thin to non-existant. I have also had sun induced failures. The powder first chalked, then split. I think that most all the coating systems fail when moisture gets under the coating.The solvent based coatings have minute shrinkage cracks. One hopes that the cracks in the various coats don't line up. The two part chemically cured systems are more free from these cracks. This is also the reason these coating are good with the emulisified oil coolants, no cracks. Epoxy does sun chalk, and that leaves poly urathane. Urathane does have the difficulty in not being able to do spot repair though.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/24/03 13:43:26 EST

Adam, There is a long standing article on the 21st Century page titled Corrosion and its Prevention. It has been a LONG time since I looked at it but I think it covers the 4 step process.

My problem with powder coating is that if it is chipped there is no protection whatsoever. When work is zinc painted (cold galvanized) or hot galvanized (zinc plated) then the zinc helps to heal scratches and protects the area of bare metal. Rust does not creep under the surface finish with properly applied paint system.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/24/03 14:11:24 EST

The Revolutionary Blacksmith

Chapter Five is online with part of the illustrations. Use the pull down chapter menu to access it.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 12/24/03 18:06:26 EST

I think the problem with powder coating is the same problem you were talking about with supposedly cheap air hammers- in an attempt to show lower installed costs, they leave out a lot of stuff you really need. In the case of powder coating, it has been sold as a miracle solution to all painting problems. Its not- its just another type of paint. It has definite advantages over some types of paint- it is available in some very cool colors and textures, it goes on very thick in one coat, it is clean and relatively safe to transport, store, and shoot, it cleans up easily, (no more ruined spray guns if you dont clean out that epoxy quick enough) and it is pretty tough. But it should be considered like any other paint in terms of the prep it needs. And most powdercoaters wont tell you unless you ask em- most of them are doing huge batches of commodity goods at the lowest possible price per part. That stuff isnt expected to last. Powder coating works great for indoor applications, and in many cases you dont even have to sandblast- I have had candlesticks, chairs, and tables last 10 years without a problem with the only prep being wire brushing obvious trouble spots by hand. Outdoors, its a whole nother ball game. They may make it, but I have never seen a powdercoated finish that is very colorfast in the sun and the chemical environment of a modern city. It all fades quick. I walked around downtown Phoenix recently, looking at powdercoated surfaces- and every one I saw was faded and chalky. Even items that were only a year old. Powdercoating requires the same prep as any paint system to last very long outside- sandblasting and priming. Unfortunately, many powdercoaters will try to sell you a "zinc rich" primer. It aint worth the money- the zinc is encapsulated in paint, and so cannot act as a real zinc layer would, sacrificing itself to preserve the base metal.
The other bad thing about powdercoating is when it fails, it fails all at once- once water gets under the powder, big flakes of it will start to peel up very quickly. I suppose if you used a real zinc primer, or hot dip galvanized it, powdercoating would be an acceptable outdoor finish, but not my choice. It is nearly impossible to touch up, and to recoat you pretty much need to bake it off, then sandblast it, then start from scratch. Yes- Bake it off- I used to deal with a couple of very large volume powdercoaters in Southern California, and they found that to recoat mistakes, they had to bake off the powder at around 2000 degrees, then sandblast. Sandblasting alone takes hours or days, if you have a good bond. The sandblaster I used in LA, a very big commercial house, wouldnt even take in jobs to sandblast off powdercoating, except from deep pocketed regular industrial accounts, and even then rarely. When it sticks, it sticks good. But unfortunately, it doesnt do that consistently on outdoor metalwork. Personally, I have yet to find a bright colored outdoor paint I can stand behind to a customer. I have seen some stuff Nick Lyle and Jean Whitesavage have been using lately that looks good, I dont know what it is, but it is an epoxy paint system of some sort. But I have serious questions about touchup, longevity, and recoating for some of those high tech 2 part systems like Tenemic. Architects love to spec em, but I think good old semigloss black paint has been used on ironwork for the last 300 years for a reason.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 12/24/03 19:09:22 EST

> but I think good old semigloss black paint has been used on ironwork for the last 300 years for a reason.

They call it Wrought Iron black for a reason, durnit!

I tell folks that I'm like Henry Ford in one way. They can have any color they want, as long as it is wrought iron black!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 12/24/03 19:16:03 EST

Reis, I agree about the semi-gloss black. I have tried many flat blacks, and the customewrs want, and I like a semi-gloss black. Lasts longer in the sun. Covers better. The only trouble with black and semi-black is in trellis and other items for plants to climb. In our area the more delicate plants burn up where they touch the iron if it's black.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/24/03 20:37:49 EST

Color Paints: Geeze, You guys sound like Henry Ford, every color you want as long as it is black.

EXCEPT for some of the new water based gloss coats which are proven failures good automotive lacquer lasts for DECADES! Every color in the rainbow is available including metalics and translucents that you can do WONDERFUL things with.

In my youth I used to do custom motorcycle painting using hand mixed lacquers with blending and fade outs. All was done with a $50 Sears spray gun. Many of those bikes were stored outdoors and looked like new after 10 years of hard use.

But good paint is expensive. A gallon of DuPont lacquer costs about $125 today. To apply it you need another $100 worth of high grade DuPont lacquer thinner. To do a good job you apply numerous coats wet sanding between coats. The final coat should be flowed on and allowed to dry well before waxing. Waxing will help repell water and give a coating of protection against weathering and wear.

But before applying hundreds of dollars worth of paint you need to spend the money on preparation. CLEAN metal, phosphating and cold galvanizing are necessary to prevent having a surface that is covered with the corrosives and brittle scale resulting for forging and welding.

Wire brushing smears around grease, oil, flux, solder and brazing brass. Acid bath cleaning or sandblasting is necessary for ANY long lasting finish. Oil and grease must be removed first then final cleaning.

When painting over old paint by hand on machinery I start by degreasing, then scraping, then washing with soap and water. You would be amazed at how well paint holds up on a hand cleaned surface. But it MUST be clean. It is like cleaning an old cooking pan with burnt black and old gradue built up in corners. A typical washing or use of SOS pads won's do the job, you have to SCRAPE that baked on gradue, apply harsh cleaners (like oven cleaner) and then scrape again until it is CLEAN.

The person that coined the phrase "Cleanliness is Godliness" KNEW what they were talking about. Clean metal accepts and holds paint, dirty metal sheds paint. The best paint applied over dirt and scale is a good as no paint and in fact makes corrosion worse. You are better off letting the work rust all over than to paint it and end up with corrosion traps.

Black paint is the (recent) past. Historicaly more ironwork has been painted white than any other color. Color is the future. Get with it!
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/24/03 22:45:42 EST

I've got an excess of ball pein hammers and no cross pein. Is it an easy task to convert my ball pein hammers and what sort of heat treatment will they need?
   - Bob G. - Wednesday, 12/24/03 23:23:26 EST

Posted Chapter five of Book three of Paw-Paw's Revolutionary Blacksmith. Its one of the most poignient yet.

Merry Christmas!
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/24/03 23:50:12 EST

Recycling Ball Pien Hammers: Bob, It is no harder than reworking any tool steel item and is commonly done. You have to work it above an orange and below a yellow.
Typically the round face should also be reworked rectangular so that it has somewhat straight edges to work with. But this is a matter of preference. The flat face DOES need to be crowned and radiused more than is typical of a ball pien. Most are too flat for forging. After hardening and tempering the trick to making a truely useful metalworking hammer is how you grind the faces.

The only trick to reworking a tool steel item is that it IS an unknown steel. Various manufacturers used different steels for hammers and they will act differently to heat treatment. However, at least you DO know it is a tool steel. I would recommend an oil quench for safety. See our FAQs on Junkyard steels and Heat Treating.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/25/03 00:00:05 EST

Merry Christmas to all my friends here!
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/25/03 00:01:15 EST

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to a wonderful bunch of people that are the the Anvilfire group. God bless all of you.
Jerry & Carol Carroll
   Jerry - Thursday, 12/25/03 01:28:18 EST

I want to take an opportunity here, while I know Jock is in bed asleep.

I get a bit impatient with Jock sometimes over how long it takes to get some things posted in TRB.

But invariably, the result is worth the wait. The illustrations for Chapter five, three of which Jock did and two of which Walt Sherrill did are some of the best ever. I wrote the words, I did the descriptions, but Jock and Walt brought my words to life.

Thanks, guys!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/25/03 02:32:00 EST

I want to express my thanks to all those folks who have been reading Paw Paw Wilson's book, The Revolutionary Blacksmith and have not mentioned too many details here. You have all saved me untold angst, for which I am forever in debt to you.

I am NOT a person who can do things by degrees. If I start a project, it is "full speed ahead and d*mn the torpedos," to borrow a phrase. As my ever-patient wife Sally can attest, I once cloistered myself in the basement for almost two weeks, coming up only for a meal a day and a couple hours sleep, in order to teach myself to do stained glass. I believe this is what those who provide "professional help" refer to as obsessive-compulsive behavior. (grin) Whatever, it is also the way I read books. From one end to the other, often without stopping. If I had to read a chapter of a book this month, then another chapter two months later, and so on, I would be totally impossible to live with.

I am going to wait until Jim has FINISHED the book before I read it. I am dying to read it, knowing that Jim is a fine writer and captivating storyteller. It is just easier on my constitution to wait to start it than it would be to wait for installments. I'm sure it will be easier on Jim too, if I am not pestering him for more output on a daily basis. (grin)

So, thank you all and Merry Christmas to you.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/25/03 07:37:21 EST

So, is it finished yet, Jim? (big grin)
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/25/03 07:40:02 EST

At the company I worked at previously, as we diversified, the forge shop branched out form valve and fitting forgings into some job shop work. One of the jobs done was the forging of good quality comercial hammers. Sledge and cross piens, from a pound to 8 or 12#. All of these hammers were C1050, made in 4 blows on a mechanical press, and hot trimmed. They were heat treated prior to shipment. Needless to say I managed to obtain several in every size and shape. most needed the heat treat. All needed finishing. I have made several custom styles including a couple of angle piens. As you noted the crowning is the trickiest part, with several I did needing several grinds to get them to forge and feel right. The C1050 is, I believe about standard for American made production hammers. Several cheap chinese made junkers I played around with were of different stuff! One forged about like cast iron, another like aluminum. I now have several chinese types, dead soft, with textured balls for lite texture work, but found them to be to unreliable for real work.
Merry Christmas all
   ptree - Thursday, 12/25/03 08:41:09 EST

Like rugg, I breezed through the painting responses til now. I know several metal finishers that can dip fence panel size objects. Would that be a way of going? I have in mind that I would detail the small areas that give trouble then send to be scubbed and phospated then bring back and paint. What would be the holes in this plan? Handling is the first that I see, what else?
   Mills - Thursday, 12/25/03 09:42:01 EST


Nope! (matching grin)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/25/03 10:32:20 EST


You cannot beat professional cleaning. The trick is keeping the work oil and rust free between the cleaning and finishing. Oily hand prints or grease from a dirty truck bed or greasy rigging can undo a lot of expensive work.

Be aware that chemical cleaning may not remove all kinds of contamination like coal plating. Check with your contractor or have a test peice cleaned.

Dipping and phosphating is easier to re-clean than a sand blasted surface due to the smoother surface. Wirebrushing and some types of grinding creates millions of little shingle like places on the surface of metal that can harbor oil, grease and wax. These can result in flaking paint.

One major problem with paint is silicones. Silicon grease and waxes are death to paint. I have some silicon grease that I use for very special applications. After using it I clean the container and my hands carefully to prevent contaminating things that I do not want silicon on.

Anything you try to do well in the way of finishing usualy does a good job. The problem is when is when people do not try or do not have a budget to try and consider anything not saturated with grease clean enough to paint.

A sad story: I had recommend my 4 part painting process to a friend. He used it on a $10,000 pair of gates. He complained that it did no good. Later I saw one of the gates in the process of being painted. . .

The gates were huge and taking over a year to complete. The frame made of 2" square had been completed and assembled outdoors. In order to keep it from rusting it had been wiped off and pooly mixed underthined paint (zinc primer and red-oxide) applied by hand. It was a mess. Later pickets and decorative elements were added and spot painted. Where riveting had been done there was a mess of burned paint that was sanded and painted over. The gate was moved onto and off of a platten table several times with oily chain for rigging several times. This scratched and dinged the paint. When the gates were finished the newest material was primed and then the whole painted.

The resulting job was too thick in many places had runs and was a hodge podge of layers that were often applied over dirt and oil. The original metal surface was never cleaned.

The paint mixing problems had to do with bulk metal powder paint. The 5 gallon pail of paint had settled badly. Mixing was done by hand. You cannot do this. Mixing must be done by machine with this volume of high solid paint and even then it may take hours. Don't have a "Paint mixer"? Of course you do. All that is required is an L shaped bar and an electric drill press at low speed. . . When there are heavy solids that have settled into clumps they need to be broken up, left standing then mixed and broken up again. It could take a couple days to do right. You don't send out the minions with instructions to "paint that thing today".

The paint was formulated for brushing. It needed to be sprayed. This requires more (expensive) thinner. The paint manufacturer and the instructions on the container will usualy explain what you need to do.

The gate was never cleaned more than hand wire brushing and wiping down with thinner. There was no welding slag to worry about but there WAS flux from forge welding and coal plating. This job needed sandblasting. But it was about $2,000 worth that was not in the budget AND needed to be done by pros. . . The bigger the job, the bigger the problems.

The paint looked bad, flaked and rusted. My friend says that "zinc paint doesn't work". But the problem was not the paint, it was the preparation and application. There was no craftsmanship in the painting.

Painting is a skill that requires doing things the right way just like many other things.

In exterior metalwork it can be a significant part of the job. There are two ways to handle it. Apply NO paint or primer and let the customer be responsible for finishing OR do it the RIGHT way.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/25/03 15:07:35 EST

I am looking at purchasing a copper teakettle made around 1850 by a New York coppersmith, but would like to research more before investing several hundred. Do you know where I can possibly find info on this person? Thank you very much!
   Annette Kotynia - Thursday, 12/25/03 15:10:32 EST

Jock and others,

If you even suspect that there is a possibility of a surface having been contaminated with silicones, there are products sold that will overcome the problem to some degree. One such product is made by DuPont and called Fisheye Eliminator. A teaspoon in five gallons of paint will allow the paint to absorb the silicone from the surface and let the paint adhere. It really does work. There is one word of caution, though.

The product itself is a form of silicone and if you use it in one coat, every successive coat must also include the additive. If you have to use it, be sure you advise the customer that if retouch or spot repair is done later, it should be added. Any professional painter won't need to be told, he'll immediately recognize the distinctive fisheye cratering caused by the silicones and adjust for it.

Cleanliness and proper preparation is still the right way to go. No amount of ANY additive or elixir will make up for crummy prep work. The prep work is the foundation upon which your finish is built. Even if your finish is plain old black. (grin)
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/25/03 19:21:45 EST


How can we give you good information on a person if we don't know the person's name? There were literally hundreds of professional coppersmiths in NYC alone at that time, and thousands of amateurs. And tens or hundreds of thousands of copper teakettles made. Further, at that time, it was quite common for a master metalsmith to employ dozens of assistants to make the work that bore the master's name. So you need to develope accurate provenance for the individual piece to establish a fair value. Unless you are well-versed in the art of researching provenance, I would suggest you enlist the services of a reputable appraiser. Yes. it will cost you money. It will also save you money in the long run.

Appraisers often will give you a verbal valuation for a fairly modest fee. If you want them to give you a written appraisal for marketing or insurance purposes, the cost is significantly higher. If you talk to an appraiser, be sure to tell him the type of article, the reputed maker, age, any known provenance, etc, right up front. The one you are talking to may not be the most appropriate person for that particular piece and will usually refer you to the person who is the specialist for that type of item or craftsman.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/25/03 19:32:49 EST

When we were painting airplanes in the 60s and 70s we used a DUPONT product to wipe down called PREP-SOL. I know they still made it a few years ago. It was intended as the last wipe prior to painting, and was intended to remove wax, dust etc. I seem to remember that it would remove some silicon, and best it was cheap. The fish-eye eleminator does work, and we used it in every repaint coat.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/25/03 20:50:42 EST

I,ve noticed that many blacksmith's tools are often refered to as being either hot or cold e.g. hot/cold sets or hot/cold hardies. Is this because they are tempered to best cope with the particular demands of working with either hot or cold metal?
   - Bob G - Thursday, 12/25/03 22:06:30 EST

Bob and Hot and cold running tools:-)

The difference is not only temper, but in the shape of the tools. Cold cuts are sharpened to a blunter angle and have more mass to avoid being deformed by cutting steel cold. Hot cuts generally have less mass and are sharpened to a higher angle. Some modern hot cuts are available in high alloy tools steels like H13, and S7 which allow them to be surprisingly thin and still resist losing their temper while cutting. I really nice H13 hot cut or handled slitter is a beatiful thing:-)
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 12/26/03 01:42:51 EST

hmmmmm, test?
The last few posts I have made did not make it.
   Ralph - Friday, 12/26/03 07:37:35 EST


Prep-Sol is a very good final wipe, particularly before top-coating. For bare metal, I think that a final wipe with Metal-Prep (a P2O5 solution) followed by a clear water rinse, is the best. Then no handling until treated with a phosphating agent (Ospho) and painted with the 90% zinc primer.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/26/03 07:44:10 EST

Hola! I am trying to drift a hole in 5/8 round so that I can loop the steel around and back through it. How do I accomplish this without flattening the the immediate area around the hole? Perhaps a thinner drift?
Thank you again for the awesome site Guru!
   Rodriguez - Friday, 12/26/03 09:51:34 EST

Guru, do you happen to know what kind of a hard surface is created by Super Flux 1000? Nitride? Is is a carburizing compound? Does it soften if heated?
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/26/03 10:07:53 EST

To all in the brotherhood of blacksmithing
be they fulltime , part time ,male or female , tradesmen , artist ,hobbiest or reinactors

from OZ

don't let your anvil rust

hot in Queensland Australia 38 c 85% humidity
   - wayne - Friday, 12/26/03 10:28:00 EST

Just a note for Heinz: At farrier school, to hot forge aluminum horse shoes, we used a gas forge and kept a close eye on the shoe. It was ready to forge when sliding the wooden shaft of our forging hammer across it left a black carbon line. I quickly learned that there was a fine line between forging temp and aluminum soup. We were intelligent students though and found ourselves some longer sticks to use instead of our hammer handles. Try it, probably cheaper than getting tempil sticks.
Happy forging.
   Rodriguez - Friday, 12/26/03 10:28:59 EST

Cleaning before painting: Something many folks overlook after deciding not to sandblast or hot tank and that is to do a good cleaning by ANY method.

You can do surprisingly well with soap and water. But not just any soap, on machinery and equipment with stuborn grease I use white wall cleaner (a bleach such as bleach-white whitewall cleaner). "Spic and Span" is also good in a concentrated solution. ITC recommends washing metal with a 50% Chlorox bleach solution. This cleans and slightly etches.

Wear rubber gloves when using acids or caustics and NEVER mix the two. Mixing acids and alkalies can result in a nasty chemical reaction and the end result is a salt solution. . . NOT what you want to clean with. However, if you wash with any acid you should rinse and follow with a mild alkali like baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

If you don't know the difference between acid and alkali read the label or ASK.

Depending on the item I will start with solvent, then soap and water with lots of scrubbing and rinsing. Elbow grease goes a long way. I use cheap stiff paint brushes for getting into corners and stainless pot scrubbers. I will spot clean wet with a siff wire brush. Some items I would wet sand along with the soap and water. Weak acids will remove some scale but must be neutralized. Alternating between cleaning methods can assure getting as much of the problem substances off the work as possible. The bleach cleaning also provides a microscopic surface etch.

If you use ANY solvent you should always follow with soap and water. On painted surfaces we always used Comet cleanser. The OLD Comet was a very nice abrasive but the new is not as good :(. The advantage to the Comet is that it has no fats or oil and it would remove chalking paint by the abrasive action (plus lots of effort).

A solvent wipe down ALWAYS leaves traces of oils and waxes and it not good enough for fine lacquer jobs. I always found them to be an expensive nuisance unless removing a lot of wax. But as mentioned above, we always followed with a Comet and water scrub to remove the traces left by the solvent.

I use the same methods above EXCEPT for etches on machined surfaces to be oiled as well as surfaces to paint.

So if sandblasting is not in your budget you CAN get an item very clean with common washing techniques. However, it does not remove loose scale. This requires more agressive action such as sanding if you are working by hand. As mentioned above you can wet sand with soap and water. This does two things. It constantly rinses the surface so you can see what you are doing AND the water lubricant makes the sand paper last longer. I would use 60 or 80 grit belt section. This is slow and tedious on decorative work but it CAN be done.

I have found that it is nearly impossible to get apprentices, helpers, employees or minions to do this kind of work properly. They seem to think it is beneath them or do not see the craftsmanship in doing cleaning as well as it can (must) be done. It is something that can take all day long by hand and you end up with wet feet and water wrinkled fingers. I've taken several days to a week to clean the ocassional machine. Minions seem to think an hour is long enough and they are done. Even if the job is not and they are paid by the hour until the job is done. . .
   - guru - Friday, 12/26/03 10:29:33 EST

QC - Never heard of "Super Flux 1000"
   - guru - Friday, 12/26/03 10:32:34 EST

i just found a place that sells all different types of steel. there is some 1045 carbon steel available. is this an ok steel to use for knife making? if not what are some ideal steels. (i know damascus, o-1 and 1095)
   - colin - Friday, 12/26/03 10:39:19 EST

I would also suggest the eye protection be used with any cleaning solution that is either acid or alkali. This does not mean safety glasses, but rather splash goggles. These are inexpensive, especially against an emergency room visit, poor eyesight or blindness.
Sodium metasilicate is available at a lot of hardwares, and is reasonabley cheap. This is an excellent degreaser, rinses clean, and does not have much in the way of oder. It will destroy eyes it splashed in.
   ptree - Friday, 12/26/03 10:41:55 EST

When my elastics collide they barely make any audible sound....
Except when they collide with my fingers, then they make a distinct "snap" and I make a distint "ow!"....
I know, a bit late for jokes on this subject, but since I moved I only get to a computer once a week...

   Rodriguez - Friday, 12/26/03 10:46:38 EST

Guru, it is made by Superior Flux and Mfg. co. It says on the lable that it contains barium salts. Barium carbonate is an accelerator for pack carburizing so I guess this is a carburizing compound. I will play around with it and maybe learn enough to post a review of the stuff.

Colin: 1045 is marginal for a good knife blade. 1070 is about the lowest carbon content that can be used to get a serviceable blade. If it were an alloy steel, the lower carbon might work. I have made blades from 4145 that were useable. To get good abrasion resistance, you really need a high carbon content.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/26/03 10:47:28 EST

Drifting: Rodriguez, I'm not sure what you are having trouble with. If it is punch suck-in then a lubricant on the punch will help (grease, Never-Sieze or Puchieze). If you want the maximum swell or "frog-eye" around the hole you can punch from both sides with a pointed punch then drift to size.

If the problem is flattening while trying to dress out suck-in then slitting and then drifting produces less distortion. The trick is to work hot, quickly and carefully. Make adjustments as you see they need to done, don't wait until you have multiple problems.

In the worse case you may need to upset a thicker place in the bar before punching. The alternative is to start with bar thicker than you are using and reduce everwhere except where the hole is going. But I do not think you will need to get this drastic.
   - guru - Friday, 12/26/03 11:11:05 EST

Blade Steels: Colin, If the place sells various steels they probably sell "drill rod". The salesperson may not know what the exact alloy is. But many places carry water hardening and oil hardening drill rod and sometimes flats. The water hardening is usualy W-2 and the oil hardening O-1. These are usualy bright finished (centerless or flat ground) and annealed. The annealing of these high carbon steels is a big part of the expense. The annealed flat stock is great for stock removal as it can be sawed, filed and drilled as-is. Annealed also grinds a bit easier. For forging the round is fine and it is cheaper. A 5/8" round will flatten to a very nice blade section and is easier to make a diamond section from than flat.
   - guru - Friday, 12/26/03 11:31:33 EST


I've tried a couple of times to read chapter five, but all it comes up with is "to be continued." Anybody else having this problem?

PawPaw said it was up with some of the art work.
   JWG. B.H.F. - Friday, 12/26/03 12:34:13 EST


Check out this web site. timlively@livelyknives.com. He has some very good information.
   JWG. B.H.F. - Friday, 12/26/03 12:58:05 EST

1045 is close to a medieval blade steel. Good news: easy to work, tough in use, and it will harden and needs minimal tempering. Bad news: you end up sharpening it A LOT. If you're doing knives for early medieval reenactment, it's just the thing, but if it's for 21st century folks, they'll expect a bit more. (n.b. This is NOT to imply that higher carbon steels were not used, just that you find a lot of 40 pt. steels in tools and weapons of the period.)

Merry Christmas! (...and it's only the Second Day!)

Resting up inside, and reading my new blacksmithing related books, on the banks of the lower Potomac. Clear and cold.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/26/03 13:11:33 EST

Hey, has the Pepsi Generation Sword Making page been updated lately? i can't seem to find it in the navigator... or maybe i'm just blind :) can someone give me a link?
   - Candace - Friday, 12/26/03 13:21:32 EST

A good source of 1045, or close is small axles from small pick-ups. If the axle is 10 years old or less, and 1 3/8" or less, and from an american truck it is probably plain 1050 or 1050H. If the same applies but the axle is bigger in od. than it is probably 1541H. Having gone through the various makers spec.s I found that all of the domestics pretty much follow this.
1045 is usually hard to find in small lots, but 1050 is a little easier to find new. If using an axle for the stock, remember that it will have been heattreated to a skin hardness of 56 Rc or thereabouts. The 1541H will grow grain sixe quickly so keep that in mind.The H after the 1050 means it is modified for fast deep penetrating hardness. It will quench crack quicker than plain 1050, just use oil, or brine and experiment to get the desired hardness/toughness.
   ptree - Friday, 12/26/03 13:24:48 EST

I was just tripping around some of the guru's webring links and came across a page that looks to have knives with colored demascus blades. Is this actually possible with some sort of patena, or are the pics just re-touched?

The address is http://www.ecckshow.com/photos.htm

Thanks in advance for your wisdom.
   HavokTD - Friday, 12/26/03 13:34:17 EST

Sorry to bug you all again. I forgot to ask..... What is Drop forging? A lump of hot metal crushed into a mold, or something like that?
   HavokTD - Friday, 12/26/03 13:37:33 EST


Drop forging is generally machine forging where the ram is "dropped" on the work in closed dies as you summized. However, most forging machines power the ram down to make it go faster than just droping it.

The colored blade in the photo is some odd special process. It may be Moku gane' (Japanese non-ferrous laminated metal) or a titamium coloring process. It is not a normal laminated steel blade finish.
   - guru - Friday, 12/26/03 14:43:45 EST


You have a caching problem with your browser. Either change you browser settings to "check for new every time" or click on the content frame and select "reload frame".
   - guru - Friday, 12/26/03 14:46:06 EST

Ah.. Thank you very much for the quick response. That was bugging me. Excellent work on the site, too. It's much appreciated.
   HavokTD - Friday, 12/26/03 14:51:39 EST

Anybody using the name "Recycled Ranch" for hand forged iron work? I came up with an idea that would fit under that name very well. Didn't see anything on Google that looked like it would interfere with it; so if nobody claims precedence I'll be forging some stuff from old ranch scrap under that name as soon as I get the forge down here!
   - ThomasP - Friday, 12/26/03 16:35:54 EST


Why not register the name as RecycledRanch.com? Get Jock to set up and host your web site.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 12/26/03 17:01:16 EST

Web names: Thomas, Web names and web name piracy is BIG business. If you come up with a good one, you keep quiet and register it NOW. Only costs $15 at eyeondomain.com.

It is not safe to search for new web names in most places. Dead (un registered) URL's go to a box where someone routinely checks for good ideas. New original or useful URLs get registered immediately on the hope that the person that was name testing will be willing to pay big bucks for the name.

It is such a slimey business that corruption is rampant at the major registry Verisign/Network Solutions. Names that NS treats like titles to realestate and makes almost impossible to keep maintained are marketed to name merchants the moment the registration becomes due. Even low value names are marketed if they are listed on the search engines. Those names are bought and then pointed at porn sites.

Network Solutions used to have a monopoly on web name registration but now there are dozens of registrars. When Verisign (the check, CC and SSL security people) bought them the problem went from petty graft to company policy. Supposed Verisign sold off NS (to seperate themselves from the theivery) but I see no changes.
   - guru - Friday, 12/26/03 18:54:08 EST

hello can u tell me if beryilium is harmful to your health and what symptoms would u have if any thank you
   `wallace - Friday, 12/26/03 21:21:16 EST

Cleaning and scraping:
I'm doing some restoration work on an 83' long Pullman type RR car. In the process, I discovered a beauty of a tool for scraping in corners and such.
It's a tool I forged for an entirely different job. We get our firewood with a crosscut saw. Whacko, I know, but good old fashioned excersize. Plus it teaches the kids about cause and effect relationships ( no work, no heat).
Anyway, there's a tool I make and use, I call it a "log dog", but have been told it might be called a "raft dog". When you saw a log out in the woods, with a crosscut saw, it tends to roll back and forth ( the cradle is back at home). So what we do is lift the log onto another log. The bottom log is at a 90 degree angle to the top one. This is easier on the back, and keeps the saw out of the dirt. Isn't it funny how dirt seems to have an almost supernatural ability to quickly dull saws?
So this tool looks like an oversized staple. The long part is about 15" long, the two points being maybe 5 or 6 inches long. The points are sharpened like a chisel instead of round like a nail. One of the points is parallel to the long part of the tool, the other point tip is turned at a 90 degree angle to the long part. I hope I'm describing this as simple as it is, this should help: you use this tool to pound into the two logs to keep the top one from rolling around. The pointed ends will go WITH the grain on both logs, even though the logs are at a 90 to each other.
I've got a large family, with kids down to 3 years old sawing branches in a cradle. (They use bow saws, the smaller wood lets them have the reward of finishing the cut sooner.) Ol' dad makes a big deal out of their work, then they carry the stick inside and Momma likewise is pleased.("Wow! all by yourself?")

All this to say I have some tiny log dogs also. They're about 6" long, with 2.5" points. I grabbed one the other day while scraping, and wow, perfect! One tip scapes right into a corner, while the other gives you a little wider scraping action. The 2.5" other end of the "staple" is what your hand pulls against, for great pulling power.
The stock thickness on the larger dog is about 5/8", on the smaller, abot 3/8". I think there's mention of this tool in Eric Sloan's book on early American tools. BTW I also really like his book "A reverence for Wood".
   Jim Donahue - Friday, 12/26/03 23:45:25 EST

Jim D.

It's called a log dog here in N. Carolina, too. Last summer at a demo, another demonstrator asked me to make a couple for him because he'd left his at home. I whacked out a couple out of ½" square stock in about 5 minutes. He kept me in Oak and Yellow Pine chips for fire starters and bankers for the rest of the show. Told me that my hand made ones worked better than the "commercial" ones he had at home!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/27/03 00:00:30 EST

Alright, brief, I am a beginning blacksmith, completely. I've had two blacksmithing experiences. First was at an "SCA event" at the house of a member my friend's household for 3 days. I was watching, and keeping the coal lit and going mostly. I made a small steel fork and spoon w/twist handles. Second was with a guy that lives near me, he is giving me lessons when I get free time. Made a j hook coat wall hanger.
I live in Hillsboro, OR.
Anyways, my issue is with an anvil. My dad found a relatively good deal at a local shop and got me an anvil for Christmas. I read a bunch of the starting off information and I got a little worried so I am just asking to see what quality this anvil is and if we should return it in a hurry or keep it.
I know very little about anvils so bear with me. On the 'burlap' bag that it is sewn into:
It has a K inside a diamond. And also
"Anvil 110lb Cast Steel, MADE IN CHINA, 51kg/110lbs, L.A., C/NO, Item #50304, P/O #10311, 57X25X20cm, 0.0285cbm "

Any help would be nice, limited time to return it too...
Done taking your time:-)
   Doug (Cedric) - Saturday, 12/27/03 00:50:24 EST

UPDATE: My dad and I went out and looked at it and as far as we can tell the good news is that the top can't possibly be iron, I am 99.5% sure it's sheet steel, first giveaway being that the burlap sack its in contains a plastic sack which is oiled on the insude. The rest is a bit ruff, looks like someone took a saw to it (possibly from the casting process, assuming they use wax like I do, not a clue on that either). It's coated in, don't hurt me for the un-educated presumption, paint or tar something or other.
Anyways, I hope this helps. I am going to make a semi-educated guess and say its either a 3 or a 4 on the anvil quality chart in the FAQ page:-)
   Doug (Cedric) - Saturday, 12/27/03 01:25:18 EST

Doug! Howdy. Hope you can get back over soon. Not sure but it sounds as if you have a cast anvil. Possibly one of the Harbour Freight anvils. and hopefully not an ASO ( anvil shaped object)
Bring it over or I can come over and we can look it over and do a wee bit of testing.
Congrats on the anvil gift.
   Ralph - Saturday, 12/27/03 02:29:34 EST

Lookie there, just whom I was going to go see:-) There be Ralph. I figured you'ld be my best plan. Unless my casting expierence completely fails me it isn't such, and it is definitly not iron, on the face at least. I'll come over tommorow, saturday, which is now today. If you prefer otherwise, call me after... say 9:30ish, or email, and let me know if its not a good day or what times are best. Otherwise I'll try and come over sometime. THanks!
   Doug (Cedric) - Saturday, 12/27/03 03:56:01 EST


Yes, beryllium has health hazards associated with it. The dust or fumes of beryllium can cause allergic reactions on the skin and in the lungs. These can range from moderate to fatal, depending on the level and duration of the exposure. Beryllium isw also classified as a carcinogen. For more complete information, see:

   vicopper - Saturday, 12/27/03 04:56:24 EST

Log Dogs. Yes, I made some for Peter Gott, the log house builder from North Carolina. They were about the same size as the long ones Donahue described.
Speaking of which...when Gott was demonstrating the use of the broad axe for a class, a lad asked, "Mr. Gott, you say 'hew to the line'. Do you mean the edge of the chalk line or do you remove the line, or what?" Peter replied that he hewed to the center of the line. When he finished his demo, we all went up to take a look. Sure enough, he was so good that he hewed to the center of the chalk line!
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/27/03 08:35:16 EST

Log Dogs; When I worked at American Shipbuilding in the 70's, we used them to keep the 24"x 24"x 8 ft oak blocks from floating up when we flooded the drydock. Before a ship was brought in for repairs, the blocks would be stacked and spaced according to the spacing of the frames of the hull. The drydock would then be flooded, the ship brought in and centered up on the blocks, and the water pumped out. Ya wanna feel small ? Go stand under a 700' (or bigger) lake freighter.
   3dogs - Saturday, 12/27/03 10:55:45 EST

i just got an antique whetstone from my grandfather. it originally came from england and was quarried there before being bought by my great-great-grandfather. i was just wondering if any of you know anything about what the grit could be etc. etc. etc. all i know about it is that it was quarried in england somewhere around 1860-1890.
thank you
   - colin - Saturday, 12/27/03 13:22:53 EST

Floating Logs: A story. .

A couple years ago we were setting the discharge tubes of a couple horizontal turbines in a river bed. This was the culmination of months of preparations and a very important milestone. The area were were working in was pumped out but open to tidal waters. We had stacked a bunch of 4x4's (10cm x 10cm) timbers for the ends of the 12 foot (3.7 meter) diameter tubes to rest on while being bolted in place.

The first tube was set and bolted up. No problem. But time had passed and the tide was coming in. The hole we were working in slowly started to fill with water as the pumps could not keep up with the Atlantic Ocean. . . Our dunage (timber stacks) for the second turbine started to float! We unstacked the timbers and restacked them under water with rocks in the spaces. This worked for a while but we were hard put to find enough flat rocks to fit in the spaces fast enough and as the water came up the whole stack started to float. . .

As the water was getting deeper by the minute I instructed the crane to go ahead and set the tube. My stalwart helper Patrick McGhee and I balanced the stack of dunage floating in the water as the crane lowered the many ton load onto the stack. By the time is was finished and the flange aligned we were neck deep in water as we put the final positioning wedges in place.

We got the job done but in all my life of building rafts as a kid I had never seen wood that wanted to float this well! This was one of those long days with many well remembered moments like when I asked my secretary to find a 3 ton come-along NOW, and handed her my checkbook. . . (an expensive tool that has not been used since), climbing into the first tube and seeing the first trickle of water coming past the turbine and down the newly installed tube. . an impressive view and an omen of what was to come a few hours later, being so cold and tired that when I got to where I had dry clothes to change into I did not care who was there and just stripped. . . I did not shake the chill for nearly a day.

Many workers have days like these risking more than they should. This is how things get done. I say more than they should because the people paying the bills almost NEVER appreciate heroic efforts. A day later there was flooding and it would have been months before access could have been gotten to install those parts. A week later the entire crew (including myself) was laid off with no notice and no severance. Meeting the critical deadline did not matter. Spending my own money to see that the job would get done before the coming flood did not matter.

Think about it when heroic efforts are needed to complete a job. If it is only for the "job" it is probably not worth it. Save your heroic efforts for when they are really needed.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/27/03 13:27:24 EST

Grit: Colin, Natural stones vary from very hard stones in the fine 350 grit range (fine white Arkansas) to soft sandstone in the 100 grit range (Ohio sandstone). The soft coarse stones were usualy made into wheels and the hard fine stones into flat hand stones.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/27/03 14:06:18 EST

Inside the Draft Tube October 8 1999 - Jock D. Inside the Draft Tube: October 8 1999, the trickle of water is just the begining.

I took this photo with my digital camera minutes after the first tube was set and before the water started to rise. There was several feet of clear air under the outlet at this time.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/27/03 14:15:02 EST

Beryllium: Wallace, Be is dust is very dangerous to breathe. The symptoms are very much like pnemonia so it is easy to misdiagnose. It is usualy fatal. See VI's link above for details.

It is a relatively rare metal EXCEPT that beryllium bronzes are used to make non-sparking tools including hammers, sledges and wrenches. Small bronze springs such as lock cylinder springs are also made of beryllium bronze.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/27/03 14:23:05 EST

Jock, The hard Arkansas (almost black in color) is finer than the fine white Arkansas. But I'm not sure what the grit is.

Reference experiences with Corporate America: I tell the kids when they talk about going to work for a large outfit that large corporations have no soul, no conscious, and derseve no respect, and no loyalty. If you are working for one of them, do NOT hesitate to walk away if a better job shows it's face.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/27/03 14:38:23 EST

A) NORTON Multi-Stone includes design features found in no other bench stone system. Stones are specially cut to offer a generous 2-1/2" wide x 11-1/2" long sharpening surface, 1/2" thick. Base includes an oil bath trough which washes off metal filings and recoats surfaces with fresh lubricant. Unique locking device allows stones to be rotated and set in a firm, horizontal position. Cover keeps unit dust-free on bench top. Perfect for the shop or kitchen. Includes fine India, medium and coarse Crystolon stones with 16 oz. can of honing fluid.

(B) Washita is the fastest cutting and coarsest natural stone. It is the first stone to use for quickly flattening tool bevels and backs. Hardwood storage box included.

(C) Soft Arkansas stones are slightly softer and faster cutting than hard Arkansas. Of all the natural stones, this is the best general duty stone. It will leave a polished surface on all edge tools. Hardwood storage box included.

(D) Hard Black Arkansas stones provide the most highly polished finish possible from any Arkansas stone. Not recommended for general sharpening, only for applying the finishing touches after using coarser stones. Hardwood storage box included.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/27/03 15:15:25 EST

PPW and loyalty to the BIG company....
Amen Jim. I learned this from my dad. I currently have a great job working for a large ( largest) chip maker. They have good benies and pay but I currrently have about 6 places I look at other jobs constantly. My job can be gone in an instant so I am not overly loyal to the company as they are not particularly loyal to me. In fact I am thinking my job only has 5 years more as the company is training folks in China to do my job, and pay for them is literally pennies to my dolllar.
   Ralph - Saturday, 12/27/03 15:45:26 EST

I am setting up a side draft forge hood for my coal forge and I wanted to know if they are prone to chimney fires? The chimney is on the outside of a small shed (a couple inches from the wood siding) and goes through a tin roof. And are there any precautions that must be taken to prevent a fire with a set up like this?

Thanks a lot,
   Hayes - Saturday, 12/27/03 16:58:07 EST

MisInfo: "Washita is the fastest cutting and coarsest natural stone", Jim the literature this came from was not including the coarse natural stones like Ohio sandstone. "Natural" also needed to be emphasized because it it far from as course or fast ast as the Norton Crystolon.

   - guru - Saturday, 12/27/03 18:32:49 EST

Stove Pipes: Hayes, It depends on what you are burning and how big a fire AND the ambient temperature. Generally coal and charcoal forges do not make a great deal of heat and there is a lot of fresh air in the mix. But I would say a few inches is too close. You might get away with it in the winter but in the summer you start with sun warmed surfaces at over 100°F and it only takes a couple hundred degrees rise to reach the charring point of wood.

Coal ash is very corrosive and stove pipes only last a few years.

Neither coal nor charcoal create the creasote coating in a pipe that burning wood does. Thus there is no danger of a chiminey fire.

I would keep the pipe a minimum of 6" away from wood surfaces. The fire marshall may tell you 30" but he is used to dealing with heating devices. Your local building code may also have something to say about it.

Note that a pipe less than 8" is not big enough and 10" is the minimum for an average blacksmiths forge.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/27/03 18:44:07 EST

Job Loyalty: No company cares about you as much as you care about yourself. As a carpenter, I was put into some dangerous situations that we all complained about. The next time it happened, I told the boss I wouldn't do what he wanted. My job can be replaced, my life or my back cannot. I tell all my neices and nephews to never let a boss abuse them or place them in danger. There are other jobs, and none of us are slaves. Well, almost none of us. Being in the military had many similarities to being a slave.
   Bob H - Saturday, 12/27/03 19:00:18 EST


> Being in the military had many similarities to being a slave.

How very true that is! The ulitmate form of power is the power of life or death. That power is never legally as close to a civilian as it is to a soldier. The only saving grace to military slavery is that it is a VOLUNTARY slavery. At least until they bring the draft back.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/27/03 19:09:00 EST

Thanks to a great bunch of guys out there "RecycledRanch.com" is MINE!

BWAhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha---where's the wet bird when you want to gloat?

Now I guess I have to get out there and produce to honour the name and their work to get it nailed down for me. There are some great folks in the smithing arena and JD and PPW are not the least of them!

Thomas Powers
   - ThomasP - Saturday, 12/27/03 23:08:44 EST


Right here!

   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/27/03 23:38:39 EST

I've been wanting to make Japanese style plane irons for a while. I've looked around for information and how-to but to no avail. Anyone have any experience/advice? My main questions are about the type of "mild steel" and how thick the cutting edge steel should be.
   Eide - Sunday, 12/28/03 01:17:30 EST

An employee and a company owe each other no more and no less than what was agreed upon at the time of hire. Neither performance, compensation nor loyalty.
   3dogs - Sunday, 12/28/03 01:40:02 EST

Good Guru:
Is there an easy, informal method for drawing the temper on S7 tools with a very small cross section? Optimum hardness isn't important, decent toughness is.

NOTE TO All; Where else can you ask a question like this and expect one or more good answers? If this service is at all worthwhile...JOIN THE CYBERSMITHS!!!!and help support it.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 12/28/03 03:02:39 EST

Eide. A thorough discussion of the plane blades and blocks is in, "Japanese Woodworking Tools" by Toshio Odate, The Taunton Press, 1984, ISBN 0-918804-19-1. The blades are laminated, the high carbon cutting edge forge welded onto one flat of the low carbon steel. Western blades were/are hand forged in a similar manner. I've seen Yataiki, a Japanese toolsmith, forge a marking knife as described. He covered the area to be treated with salt brine (let dry) and hardened at a bright cherry in tepid water, no temper drawn.

Pete F. Re S7, hot or cold work? Harden at 1725ºF (full bright red, above the cherry reds, bordering on orange) and cool in still air. For hot work, reheat to 900º-1000ºF, faint red to dull red, and air cool. For cold work, you may need to experiment. It should be 400º or above.

Sometimes, you can fudge a little. Some farriers harden their S7 hot-pritchels and draw no temper. S7 doesn't seem to get as brittle as say, water quenched W1.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/28/03 08:44:44 EST

What forge to buy:
I'm getting started in blade forging, welding, heat treating. For various reasons I am not going to build a forge. I am trying to figure out what kind of forge to buy to get started. I am currently looking at one of the 2 burner NC Tool models or the Pro Forge PF2000. I was told that the Pro Forge has a problem with "hot spots" which would be bad for blades. Any help is appreciated.

   bcknife - Sunday, 12/28/03 10:53:57 EST

what is the maximum temperature for charcoal briquettes?
   - colin - Sunday, 12/28/03 11:34:13 EST

Forges: Ben, I am not familiar with the Pro Forge line. However, almost all small gas forges have hot spots. To avoid hot spots you usualy need a larger (much less efficient) gas forge. The number of burners has nothing to do with the heat distribution on the floor, its the distance from the burner(s) opening to the work. The greater the distance the more even the heat distribution.

In larger less efficient forges (usualy shop built) the burner is often directed along one of the walls of the forge so that is creates a spiral turbulence for more even heating.

In general forges are not suitable for oven tempering. They run much too hot and do not have suitable controls.

On the occasions when I have used my large forge for tempering I used a pyrometer and used residual heat from having the forge up to temperature for hardening. Depending on the size of the work and the rate of cooling I would put the work in while the forge was a little hotter than needed. I was guessing that as the work soaked up the heat and the furnace cooled they would hit the desired point at about the same time. . . This was work for myself, using A-2 which is fairly forgiving about tempering, AND I have a large hard brick forge, AND a pyrometer.

For tempering some smiths use a large block of steel heated in the forge or on a stove top. Then the part to be tempered is placed on the block. The last time I did this it was for coloring a piece of steel. I got an absolutely perfectly even dark blue. The heat sink was an 8" square of 1" plate. It was heated on an electric stove top.

A kitchen oven will reach tempering temperatures but is expensive to operate at these high heats. The temperature controls are also not the most accurate.

Wayne Goddard recommends a "toaster oven". They are small and fairly efficient and will reach tempering temperatures. He compares the control temperature to an oven thermometer.

An old kitchen stove (gas OR electric) should be on the equipment list for most metalworking shops. The stove top can be used to melt babbit, heat tempering blocks, melt wax, boil parts for bluing or even heat a can of soup. . . The oven can be used for drying molds and welding rods, curing wood, tempering parts and warming pizza. They are a handy tool and old ones can often be had for free. Just don't cook lunch in the pan used to melt babbit!
   - guru - Sunday, 12/28/03 11:40:02 EST

Doing Your Job: In my story above, *I* was the "boss", or at least in charge of the crew. The one fellow in the water with me was a friend who volunteered. I would not have directed anyone else into such a position.

In the construction industry there is always a grey area of what is safe and what is not. When a safety harness is needed at the top of a structure who goes to the tip top to anchor the cable? And where is HIS safety harness?

If you go by the "rules" most modern high rise buildings could never be built.

THEN there is the area of a confined spaces safety watch. We had some nasty confined spaces on our hydro project and I constantly drilled the crew in NOT working alone and for the safety guy to get help, not become another victim. It never failed that we had confined space work going on when the money guys came by. "What's that lazy fellow doing? Shoulden't he be working?" And every time I would explain that we had people working in a hazardous location and that was the OSHA (and MY) required safety man.

It is one of the few such rules that I am religious about. Two many folks die needlessly because they do not understand confined spaces or equipment lockouts.

When you put the LOWEST man in a machine to work on it or clean it out they are supposed to have a padlock on the machine's lockout switch. It doesn't matter if they are the janitor, a temp, or a contractor. And if YOU are that worker you need to know that it is your right and personal duty to have a lock on the switch.

A surprising number of workers do not know this. Their supervisors almost always know but will often not check or insist that the worker lockout the equipment. Locks are often forgoten at the end of the day and it is a headache to track down the worker or generate the paperwork necessary to cut the lock. So the subject is glossed over and the point is not emphasized . . . rules not followed And people die. Regularly. Needlessly.

I suspect that ocupational safety should be taught in public schools. Some industries do a VERY good job on safety training but others do not. And as mentioned above, it is often the low man with little education that is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

   - guru - Sunday, 12/28/03 11:40:57 EST

Charcoal: Colin, I am not sure of the max but it near coal and coke which buring at 3,200°F with forced air and a bit hotter with added oxygen.

Note that briquettes ARE NOT the same as charcoal. They are mostly sawdust (for that mesquite or hichory flavor), some ground charcoal, some bituminous coal (to keep them bruning) and a lot of corn starch glue.

Briquettes WILL burn as hot as blown charcoal but do not produce the same BTUs due to the lower fuel density. Thus they do not make as concentrated or intense a fire. They also leave a lot more ash.

They burn hot enough to melt and burn steel.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/28/03 11:48:05 EST

Corporations & such-

Paw Paw,

Did'nt we have a lot of the above type conversations about 18 mo.s ago when my group was in contract negotiations? VBG
   Brian C - Sunday, 12/28/03 12:14:07 EST

Another question about hoods and chimneys, do you know what aproximate range of temperatures would be reached by the smoke in a side draft forge hood and chimney?

Im burining coal, doing forge welding of stock up to 3/4" and occassionally forging max 1" stock, [maybe that will give an idea of the size of fire].

   Hayes - Sunday, 12/28/03 13:01:06 EST


Yep, and my opinion hasn't changed.

Just had another friend get the corporate shaft. Two years away from retirement.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/28/03 13:18:01 EST

Hello, My buddy and I have made a railroad track anvil for fun, and are all finnished grinding it down. I am very proud to say that it looks perfect. Next weekend we plan to temper it. I am just looking ot see if you have any helpfull hints for us in the tempering process. Thank you very much, Norm
   norm - Sunday, 12/28/03 13:19:35 EST

Does the length of the chimney affect the drawing of the hood?
Im looking at puting it in two diffent spots; one the chimney would be 4' in the other spot it would be 8-10'.
The hood i have is the same as the side draft forge hood in Brian Gilbert's article in the spring Hammer's Blow magazine.

Thanks a lot,
   Hayes - Sunday, 12/28/03 13:20:05 EST

Forge Hoods: Hayes, side drafts suck flame directly off the top of the fire so it is possible to have several thousand degrees at the inlet (a red heat). This drops off rapidly with distance.

Up to a point the longer the stack the more draft you get. However, the smaller the diameter the stack the greater the resistance and at some point extra length hurts. I suspect you can go more than 30 feet with a 10" stack without hurting the efficiency.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/28/03 13:31:48 EST

Railroad Anvil: Norm, these are very springy due to the narrow web and not worth putting a lot of expense into them. Most people use them as-is.

Tempering comes AFTER hardening. See our Heat Treating FAQ and Junkyard steel FAQ.

Rail steel is approximately 75 point carbon. This means it will get brittle hard. On an anvil you want the face hard and the body as soft as possible. On solid steel anvils this means selective hardening and tempering.

The short answer: Heat evenly to the non-magnetic point (a medium red tested with a magnet), quench the top face down in warm water leaving the web and base hot. Quickly polish off a stripe of the surface and let the heat from the web and base heat the clean stripe on top to a straw yellow (470°F) and then quench the entire part. Heat the horn from underneigth until a polished stripe down the top turns a dark blue (570-580°F). Quench again to prevent the heat in the horn from spreading to the face. Refinish the working surfaces.

After this I would oven temper the whole to at least 470°F to be sure nothing was missed. Anvil manufacturers used to also flame temper the edges of anvils softer than the center of the face.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/28/03 13:53:55 EST

Paw PAw; I was referrring to Storm Crow, the wet bird who might have used the great and mighty title of RecycledRanch for his stuff, I'd never dis a flightless bird who still persisted in plummeting to the earth from perfectly good airplanes---I *know* that the gravity's still on!

NORM, complete instructions for heat treating a RR rail anvil are given in "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" by Weygers---you may want to check it out of the library and read that chapter, ask for ILL if they don't have their own copy.

   - ThomasP - Sunday, 12/28/03 15:46:46 EST

"An old kitchen stove (gas OR electric) should be on the equipment list for most metalworking shops"

One of the shops I worked in had a medium sized gas heat treating oven that was no longer used, untill we found that with both pilot lights lit it would hold 800 degrees F very nicely, pizza time!!!

The sheet metal guys made some very nice stainless pans.
   - Hudson - Sunday, 12/28/03 16:35:34 EST

Was watching a tape of someone making tongs and he commented that he preferred to draw out the reins as this made them springier. I have heard this a couple of times before, always from guys who have power hammers. Since it's just me and my 3# french pattern I weld the reins and then hammer the finished reins at a black heat - shouldn't this come to the same thing?

BTW, some of my earlier tongs have failed due to poor design and lack of craftmanship, but the welds never failed even though my welding technique was about level with the rest of my skill at that time.
   adam - Sunday, 12/28/03 17:51:37 EST

What kind of finish do you put on deer antler. I have a made a knife, one of many and have put on a deer antler handle. Want to finish it off with a coating of some sort.
Any hints... Thankyou in advance.

Weather up here is +5 Celuse out( Its melting) Strange for this time of year.

   Barney - Sunday, 12/28/03 18:06:03 EST

Oh! I mis-understood. Not unusual any more. (wry grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/28/03 18:15:37 EST

Barney, I soak mine in Linseed oil. Let it soak about 24 hours, then wipe off the excess. Enough will be absorbed to give it a nice finish, and it won't be slippery.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/28/03 18:16:56 EST

Hey Jim, I usually just buff mine. How does a linseed oil finish compare to a buffed finish? Might be something I have to try.
   Bob H - Sunday, 12/28/03 20:16:02 EST

On confined space entry etc.
I agree completly that the rules for confined space entry are of the nature of "my way or the highway" I believe that about 200 people entered confined spaces last year in the US and were later removed in body bags.65% had entered to rescue somebody who had gone down. OSHA often gets a bad rap for the rules, but every OSHA rule is written in blood. For those out there who don't know what the Guru and I mean when we speak of confined spaces, we are talking about spaces that are not intended for human occupation. The can be huge, like a city water tank. They tend to have atmospheres that are not good to breath, or things like grain in a silo, that sucks you under like quicksand. They can be a cone bottom tank, that you slide down into and are compressed and can't get a breath. All of the above can kill you, and they guy that rushs in to save you.
Osha requires a strict permit plan, with rescue planned. things like a full body harness to hook a rope or winch to pull you out without haveing someone else have to enter. first aid on site, with trained cpr personnel on hand.
I am a trained entrant, rescuer, and supervisor for permit required confined space entry, and have entered tanks through a manhole and been lowered down 20' on a winch line. Looking up at that small hole, straight up, wearing a air tank with 30 minutes air(that lasts 20 minutes)was scarry. Motto of the story is: If you are not trained,equipped and have the right people to support you, dont' do it!
   ptree - Sunday, 12/28/03 20:23:41 EST

I also agree about lockout/tagout. For those who have not been trained in industry, I will offer the following.
Lockout/tagout is about hazardous energy. When you work on a machine or system, many things in the system can have energy that can hurt/kill you. First, most think of electricty. Turn it off and lock it out. This means putting a lock thru the disconnect if so equipped, or at the circuit breaker appling a lock device. Do the same for compressed air, steam,water, natural gas, and any other compressed gasses. Valves are easy to lock with a bit of chain thru the handwheel, Now look at the machine, any compressed springs? uncompress them or prevent thier release. Does it have a gravity affected item like a press with a ram that can fall? block it up.
Now, as to locks, OSHA requires that EVERY man working the job have his personnel lock applied so that the machine can't be started until every man is clear.
Having worked in industry for about 23 years, I have seen many bad injuries that would have been prevented by lockout.
All this seems a bit long, but OSHA uses many pages to say the same thing, (with a bit more detail). If you are working in industry, you should have been trained, and OSHA levies more fines for haz-com and lockout/tagout than any other area. Remember that OSHA reg's are written in blood, and try to not have any new reg's written in yours!
By the way, OSHA will send a free copy of the reg's to anyone who asks. If you run a shop, it is one of the standard references that you can't LIVE without.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/28/03 20:44:30 EST

I would like to know what type of oil is used in sand casting. I have an casting kit. and need to make more sand for larger casting.
   Archie Rardon - Sunday, 12/28/03 21:09:36 EST

Reference "lock outs".

I usually carry a couple of the little "luggage" locks in my tool box. If I have to work on something that has an electrical plug, I first un-plug the cord (Naturally!) Then I lock one of the "luggage" locks through the hole in the blades of the plug. A determined effort can twist them off with a pair of 9" side cutters (or if the side cutter are Kliens, the shackle of the lock can be cut.) but the lock makes anyone (including me!) ask "Why does the drill cord have a lock on the plug?" That's save me from getting shocked several times.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/28/03 21:20:44 EST

It's also saved me from getting sliced a couple of times when I was changing the blade on a saw!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/28/03 21:21:25 EST

"Beryllium" is also common in the injection mold business. But it is actually "BeCu", beryllium copper, and is over 90% copper and usually less than 4% beryllium. Many studies have shown it to be safe in the typical machine shop environment, cutting or grinding with some sort of coolant. The danger is as guru said, breathing the dust of concentrated beryllium. Don't have a clue what the impact of any sort of forging of BeCu would be. Probably best avoided just to be safe.
   Tom H - Sunday, 12/28/03 22:40:08 EST

Shop safety: About 35 years ago I watched as a 13 year old neighbor boy across the pasture from me was burning out some ants in the drive way. Against his fathers express orders he was using 1 gallon a plastic Clorox bottle full of gasoline, the flames followed the trail of gas back to bottle and a small fire started at the bottle. He kicked the bottle to put out the fire and it exploded on to his pants. I can remember him running and screaming as the flames fanned behind him about 10' in the air. An another young man about 3/4 his size and height tackled him and rolled him to the ground, putting out the flames with dirt and his body. My mother, rushing to his aid, stripped off his un-singed polyester pants and cotton underwear an put him in a bath tub of cold water I was ordered to go to the neighboring farm houses and steal any form of ice or frozen food that we could throw in the water, by the time I returned large blisters covered his legs from the top of his sox to where his jockey shorts had been. It was 2 years before he returned home from the hospital and after 35 years of skin graphs, anti-rejection drugs and pain suppressants, he died this week due to complications from his burns. The E.M.T. said that had the younger boy not tackled him and the pants had caught fire and melted into his skin and/or the pants not been removed before the blisters started he may not have lasted the week. Chuck I miss you buddy
   Habu - Sunday, 12/28/03 23:29:44 EST

Whatis better to timper with water or gasoline
   Dick Dude - Sunday, 12/28/03 23:56:06 EST

If you gotta ask, you should really consider knitting as a hobby, rather than smithin'.
   eander4 - Monday, 12/29/03 00:30:34 EST

Do not feed the troll.

   - ThomasP - Monday, 12/29/03 01:02:36 EST

Thank you Frank;
The S7 is for cold work and was air cooled from cherry but because of the small section it cooled quickly. I drew the temper to dull blue and it was still was brittle hard. Perhaps I didn't soak the temper temperature long enough.
   - Pete F - Monday, 12/29/03 03:35:27 EST

Railroad “J” Clips:

The other night I’d come to a point where I needed to find my “U” hardie to proceed on the main project (The D-i-L’s chest). While hunting about and wanting to keep the fire up, I put one of several “J” clips that my friend Drey had given me, along with a passel of RR spikes, into the fire. I figured it might be a little hard to work with the T cross section, ~3/8”+ (9.5mm+) thickness, and straightening against the web. Woof! This sucker wouldn’t move! I took it up to a good yellow, and I still couldn’t make much progress over the horn, couldn’t do much with it clamped in the 6” 100# (15.24 cm, 45 k) vise, and couldn’t move much of anything anywhere; at least not with hand tools.

So my multi-part question is: What are these things and what are they made of? Has anybody made anything out of them; with what and how?

On another heat I finally located the missing hardie, so I quit beating that dead horse and went on to more successful and productive work. So, here I’ve got three or four of these clips, and at the moment they look like ballast to me. ;-)

Any suggestions?

Clear and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks (Steamtown has some nice railroad equipment): http://www.nps.gov/stea/index.htm

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/29/03 08:29:13 EST

Pete F. S7 forging. After forging (lemon to salmon), you'll want to make an attempt at an anneal. I cannot really get a thorough anneal in ashes, which is all I have. At a bright cherry red, 1500F to 1550F, I put the piece in ashes, slow cool, and hope for the best. When it's room temperature, you'll want to heat it to salmon, just creeping into an orange heat, for hardening. Cherry red is not hot enough. And don't air cool on a heat sink. I lay my tools on a fire brick, graphite block, or pile of coke. You might try tempering at a black heat, when the metal glows faintly red in a dark place, but in the ordinary shop light, it looks "black".

I offer the above as suggestions. I usually use S7 for hot work.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/29/03 08:55:13 EST

"J" Clips

I too would like to know what those are made of (they make great hardies and fullers) at a white heat the web will bend but still deforms. I moved the shank enough to fit the hardie hole and temperd to a deap straw. The R/R Recycle near my house also has links that look like an unfinished chain link about 6" long about 5/8" diam. with a round cross section. Seem like they are made of the same stuff. I,m new to B/S'n and this was some of the first iron I tried to move. I was think'n "This blacksmith stuff is really hard to do" grin
   Habu - Monday, 12/29/03 09:36:04 EST

Petro Bond and Sand Casting: Archie, I do not know of any sources on the exact oil/resin other than the trade name stuff. The manufacturers try to keep it a proprietary secret. I am also told that unless you have a muller (sand conditioner) it is VERY difficult to get the sand and resin properly mixed.

That said, you can purchase the Petrobond resin from many foundry suppliers. You can also purchase the pre-mixed sand in 50 pound (5 gal) buckets. The stuff I recently bought looks and feels the same as the expensive "Delft Clay" someone gave me a couple years ago (but it MIGHT have been petro bond. . )
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 10:58:06 EST

"J Clips"

I have a pile of these found at a defunct rail crossing near my house. The first one I worked straightened easily at a bright orange heat, drew and upset too. The second one I picked up is more stubborn than I and won't move at all. The third straightened with difficulty and draws like... well, it doesn't yet. I've annealed them from bright orange to cold in packed lime several times, to no obvious effect. I hate these things, but am too stubborn to stop hammering them.
   Mike M - Monday, 12/29/03 11:02:55 EST

two dumb questions:

Why use S7 for cold work - what's its advantage over spring steel?

What is a "U" hardie ?
   adam - Monday, 12/29/03 11:03:52 EST

I was wondering about scrap steel. I work in a steel fab shop and get lots of steel (mostly A36) but some nice tool steel every so often. I am also located near some docks (Port of New Orleans) and have been eyeing up some steel cable (varies in size from 1-3/4" down to 1/2". My question is what can I use this for? I can get it home in 3 to 4 foot sections but dont exactly know what to use it for. Seems a shame to me to throw out all that cable just because it broke at some point.
   Peldor - Monday, 12/29/03 11:28:29 EST

Springy Tong Reins: This has nothing to do with HOW they are forged, it is the shape. Tongs with tapered reins are springier than those with striaght reins. The advantage is that the more spring there is the more foregiving the grip and less likely you are to drop work.

Good tongs start with the reins about 1/2 the section of the joint, then about 1/5 length out they have tapered to equal height and width (either square or round). and then about 3/4 length they might be as light as 1/2 thickness. Half round is a good ending section.

Common machine made tongs typicaly have parallel round reins but DO have the extra thickness at the joint.

Although it is a LOT of work drawing out tong reins by hand it IS good forging practice. If you are worn out by the time you have finished you NEED the practice and exercise. Why not get it making tools? It also makes you appreciate tongs at $30-$40/pair.
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 11:38:18 EST

S7 and "U": Adam, The "S" in S-7 is for Shock resistant. It is a very high carbon steel and air hardens but is not classified a "hot work" steel. However, it is much better for hot work punches and drifts than plain carbon steel due to its high tempering temperature.

The term Bruce was using is a descriptive term not a technical one. Normally these are called bending forks or bending dog. Often they are made by welding a "U" shaped piece to a shank but are also forged from one piece. The problem with the term bending fork is that it also applies to a long handled tool with a similar end.
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 11:58:58 EST

'J' clips?
I am curious as to what these look like? I have several clips I would call 'J' clips, but they are about 1 inch square and have no web that I can see?
   Ralph - Monday, 12/29/03 12:01:45 EST


I've never buffed one, so I can't really say. But the linseed oil is absorbed by the antler. That seals the bone and prevents it from absorbing water and detiorating. The appearance is a rather dull shine.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/29/03 12:27:08 EST

Cable: Peldor, If is is not too rusty a lot of bladesmiths make "Cable Damascus" from steel cable. Wayne Gaddard's $50 Knife shop covers making cable Damascus in detail and he also has a video/DVD on the subject that is very good - reviews in progress. They are available from Krause Publications.
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 12:45:20 EST

Guru: Thx for all your answers:

Welding on the reins is good practice too, IMO. They still need to be drawn to a taper - a technique which I need to practice. I am well equipped with Brute Strength and Ignorance - it's the Skill part that I find elusive.

In Frank's class we made several hot work tools from s7 and they have served me very well. When I use up my stock of h13 I may switch.

Every time I have seen a smith make tongs where the reins were drawn not welded he either used a power hammer or a striker. The only exception was Uri Hofi who made a pair of mini tongs which he said he would were for plucking his nose hairs. :)

J Clips:- Ralph, I have several pcs of RR steel that have a T cross section (about 1" x 1") and are formed into a J about 8" long. I guessed this was what Bruce was talking about. I have thought they might make nice fullers or hardies but mine are heavily corroded.
   adam - Monday, 12/29/03 13:16:20 EST

I posted some Misc. Rail/Road steel on the gallery site http://www.anvilfire.com/html/ygroup.htm (see navagate bar above) The j hook, square cross section E clip, and the chain link, are like moving spring steel at a black heat. the hair pin shape is a milder steel that moves well and makes a great chisel holder. I have not tried to work the two larger cone shape objects. one has a rubber washer around it and the other looks like it was struck with lighning it has a sink hole in the top like it was cast and the outside is covered with melted sand. I thought I would make a hardie mounted cone mandrel on out of the one with the rubber washer.
   Habu - Monday, 12/29/03 13:18:48 EST

sp ligning=lightning ( i think)grin
   Habu - Monday, 12/29/03 13:20:12 EST

Tong Making: Peter Ross of Williamsburg does a tongs making demo that takes about 15 minutes including making a full offset joint and the rivet. At his rate of forging one could make tongs profitably by hand. Most of us cannot forge that fast and Peter makes it look easy. . .

My point, it IS a practical excersize.
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 13:24:50 EST

The "J" hook that is being mentioned is used in pairs with a piece of steer rod between them. The steel rod is threaded on each end and the unit is used to set and hold the gauge (distance between rails) of the RR track.

I've used a bit of it, a couple of "J"'s and that stuff is harder than woodpecker lips!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/29/03 13:59:11 EST

I have a customer that wants me to do this job for her that require 156 holes to be drilled into 1/4" or 3/8" flatbar. The holes are to be 3/8" or 1/2". My question is how much do I charge Per hole? I was thinking of $3 to $5 per hole. What do you all think?
   smitty7 - Monday, 12/29/03 14:07:38 EST

is an oyster knife basically a blade hammered flat then sharpened, or is it a blade that has the crisp looking back (like a 'V')? im going to make one but i am not quite sure of the shape of the back of the blade.
   - colin - Monday, 12/29/03 14:20:24 EST

Colin, I don't have a clue. You are best off making things that you know what they look like and how they are applied. .
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 14:30:07 EST

Peter Ross: I have been watching some videos of Peter. All I can say is that I would be glad to be a pimple on his ... well you know! Not only is he an amazing hammer man but he is a great instructor too. Is there a good quality commercial video of him forging? All I have are home video quality and it's often very frustrating.
   adam - Monday, 12/29/03 14:55:21 EST

guru's I am looking for difernt types as in gas and coal forges that may be best for my needs to get started thank you
   - richard wall - Monday, 12/29/03 15:04:53 EST

guru I am looking for different types of forges a in coal or gas that will best fit my needs thanks
   - richard wall - Monday, 12/29/03 15:08:29 EST

Helve Hammers:

I was looking in Schmirler's book on tools last night and in the full view of his shop there is a helve hammer that is a little bit like a Bradley Guided Helve, but it lacks the rubber cushion system in back. Is anyone aware of other commercial helve type hammers other than the Bradley?

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 12/29/03 15:09:09 EST

“J” Clips-

The piece I’m working with is like the one on the lower left of Habu’s first picture.

“U” Hardie-

Actually, I should have said a “Swedge V” hardie, such as shown by Centaur Forge at: http://www.centaurforge.com/farrier-tools-hardies.html Sorry for the lack of clarity. There are also full half round hardies, but I haven’t seen one in any catalogs of late. Anyway, if you take a 2” X 2” x 1/8” square and nip out the middle of each side, you get a really nice gothic style cross for use as a fancy washer, rove or plate as hardware for a chest. I did buy a hardie mounted bending fork from Nol Putnam that he had superceded; Kayne and sons are selling one that's virtually identical. Hey, I was ahead of the curve (for once). ;-)

Oyster Knives-

Colin: All of the oyster knives I grew up with in the Maryland tidewater were double edged and looked like the “Boston” (?!!) pattern that’s shown next to the last on the following page: http://www.twinsupply.com/catalog364_0.html . If you do a Google search, you’ll turn up a lot of styles, some of which I’ve never seen anything like! Ours are semi-sharp towards the tip, and the edge is rounded towards the handle. Most of the work is done with the point, working it in between the shells, so the point needs to be sturdy. To watch the operation is to understand the need.

[Boston style oyster knives? They must have been adapted by may ancestors “before the late unpleasantness.”]
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/29/03 15:19:03 EST

Tongs and making of same.
At Fort Vancouver NHS we ( the volunteer smiths) would make tongs as part of our training/learning and we always drew out teh reins by hand. It was to help teach us to draw out etc. But once you got a pair of tongs that passed muster then we would all weld reins on any others we made.

Yes Peter Ross did seem to be packing a medium sized power hammer up his sleeve.... That man can really really move metal
   Ralph - Monday, 12/29/03 15:19:42 EST

re clips. OK we are talking the same pice, BUT here on teh West coast ( or at least in Oregon) that piece is made of 1 inch square. And I too have been thinking of making tools with them..... Now I am really going to try and see if they are as tough. I suspect not as they are made of much beefier (sans Mad Cow) material.
   Ralph - Monday, 12/29/03 15:33:10 EST

Forges: Richard, Our advertisers carry everything from complete gas and coal forges to coal forge parts. Kayne, Centaur and Pieh all carry forges and forge parts. The Blacksmiths Journal carries a small "pancake" forge. Wallace Metal Works carries NC-Tool forges and we carry Kaowool and ITC-100 for making gas forges.
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 15:54:42 EST

Richard: About coal or gas, just what is it you plan on doing? We have no idea what your needs are unless you tell us. Also, how much money do you have? If not a lot, a cheap coal forge can be built. But do you live in an area where you can get good coal cheaply and burn it without offending the neighbors? If a coal forge is not realistic, then you need to decide on how big of a gas forge you will need for whatever size projects you plan on doing. Your needs will dictate forge size and amount of blowers needed. Give us some more info and we can help a bit more.
   Bob H - Monday, 12/29/03 15:58:12 EST

"Lightening Struck" sounds like a sprue for thermite welding of railroad rail. How good it would be for tooling probably depends on how well the process worked!

Richard Wall: could you explain how we are supposed to know what your "needs" are? There is a bunch of ways you can go with smithing and a beginner's forge for knifemaking might not work very well for someone doing ornamental or artistic work.

I dislike reading peoples minds ever since that bad incident with the peasants and the torches...

   - ThomasP - Monday, 12/29/03 16:00:36 EST

re mind reading.... well I told you and told you that you needed a new translator. And now look what happened! I hear that it might be safe for you to go back.... but I would not count on it...(g)
   Ralph - Monday, 12/29/03 16:22:27 EST

A sprue is what it looks like to me too, now that you mention it. my experence is with plastic injection molding, and there is a foundry across the road from the pile of railroad scrap that I got it from, they might have picked it up with the elctro-magnets that they move the spikes and stuff with.

I just went out and cut off a piece with a chop saw, It did not break like cast iron when I hammered a thin cross section, scrached it easly with a file, when heated and quenched it would not scratch with a file, and was brittle to the hammer. fine grain, looks like carbon steel. but something made the out side hot and it looks like colorado sand stuck to the outside. It is the sink hole it the top that has me stumped looks like it has been poured and the center of the mass shrunk.
   Habu - Monday, 12/29/03 16:55:22 EST

Ralph, now that the warrenty on that brain has expired, I thing there is something you should know...

Getting ready to go back to Columbus and spend 2 frantic weeks sorting the stuff I need to sort before driving down to Sunny NM and a new and exciting job---it's been a week with out a forge and I'm having withdrawl symptoms!

   - ThomasP - Monday, 12/29/03 17:13:33 EST

LOL Thomas.
Sure hope that you can get everything loaded and moved with few issues and problems.
Wish I was smart enought to get a job in a cool place like you did..... Perhaps I can get a job back out at the space center if they get serious about a Mars landing......
   Ralph - Monday, 12/29/03 17:49:54 EST

Shrinkage Crater: Habu this is typical of a slightly undersized sprue feeding a large section. It is very common in cast iron and steel billets and in the old steel making process (before continous casting) every steel billet had a bad end and what was called "ingotizm" where the center of the billet had shrinks, crystalization and low density. The cure for ingotism was to forge the billet from all directions (cogging) while at a welding heat. This compressed the center of the billet and closed any tears.

The molds for Thermit welding rail have rectangular sprues but the equipment has changed over the years and the old sets had a funnel shaped burning hopper that became the "sprue".

A couple years ago I contacted the Thermit corp about a production welding job that would be perfect for their process. 4x4" to 6x6" sections. I was told that they no longer have any engineers that can quote special jobs. . .

Thermit powder came in a variety of grades that matched the composition and strength of the material to be welded. I do not know how it was done but it is probably like welding rod where all the wire is the same but the coatings contain the additives. I suspect that this knowledge is soon to be lost too unless it is in one of the booklets on the Thermit process.
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 18:49:53 EST

Thomas, re sprue.
It sounds like the funnel from a thermite weld on a RR rail. Finely divided rust and aluminum are mixed, and ignited. The "goldsmith's" reaction will produce steel on the bottom and aluminum oxide on top. The process can reach 4 to 5000F and is used to weld together massive sections, where arc welding is not possible. It is used on rails with a preformed mold and funnel that is knocked off after welding. This would explain the shrinkage and the temp color and semi melted sand.
   ptree - Monday, 12/29/03 19:35:38 EST

problem of the mystery Sprue solved( Guru you were right again) http://community.webshots.com/photo/70884098/70884465xqNfEb
the 6th photo of this series on thermite welding of rail road track clearly shows the "risers" supply the metal to the track. They must have been thrown in the sand while still hot.
   Habu - Monday, 12/29/03 19:39:48 EST

New Internet Scam: In the past year a new form of Internet fraud has popped up and is run by the Russian mofia. Ads are placed in the big on-line job markets for someone to act as a mailing/shipping agent. The person that accepts the job is told that they are part of a system to get people to trust doing business with Russians or Eastern Europe. They will ship goods to Russia and make money transfers. They are told they will recieve 15% of each transaction.

The scam v1: Goods are advertised on eBay using the "employees" name and addresss. When the auction is complete the money is sent to the "employee" who in turn transfers it to their Russian employeers. There are no goods, the buyer has been ripped off. By the time the slugs at e-bay recognize that there is a problem thousands of dollars on dozens of sales have been transfered out of the country. Needless to say, the buyer AND the "employee" is screwed.

The big time crooks are taking advantage of the same holes in the E-bay system that the small time crooks have been using for years. Most of the small time crooks ship faulty or defective merchandise and this gives their temporary account on ebay a much longer life since e-bay takes months to act on these complaints. Beware of ebay items with high shipping. Since shipping is not refundable many of these crooks make their money on the shipping and if you send something back they just sell it again. . .

The scam v2: Goods are purchased by the Russian opperative using a stolen credit card and the "employees" shipping address. The goods are shiped to the local US address and then RE-shipped overseas. . . The on-line merchant thinks they have shipped goods to a US address where they would have recourse in the event of fraud. Again, everyone is screwed except the crook.

The stolen credit cards often have their addresses matched to the same city as the "employee" so that the simple ZIP code check used by credit card processors does not send up an alarm.

These are complicated multi-part scams that require a high degree of organization. It is estimated that some $10 million have been stolen this way in the past year since the scam appeared. And the scam is likely to continue as long as there are guilable people desperate for jobs.
   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 19:40:09 EST

On thermite, Where I used to work we made large boilers and they had very large fin tube modules that we stacked in a carbottom furnace to stress relieve. Often these modules sat outside for some time prior to stress relieve. We had a stack in the furnace that ran away, with the temp. still climbing after the gas was turned off. Wrecked the furnace. Turns out the fin material was aluminum killed steel, and the mill got a little high on the Al. With the rusting, we had a slow thermite reaction and destroyed the stack of modules and the carbottom. The residue was quite fantastic. So was the cost!
   ptree - Monday, 12/29/03 19:41:18 EST

I know that thermite is quite the active reaction. Two stories from my childhood come to mind. The first was told by my 8th grade science teacher when he did a demonstration of thermite. He told us that he was trying to "roast" some gold ore at home in the garage with thermite and he felt that the heat and smoke were getting out of hand, and tried to douse it with a bucket of water, he said that the resulting steam explosion removed him and most of the windows in the house.

the second story will have to wait for the statute of limitations. VBG
   Habu - Monday, 12/29/03 19:58:24 EST

Thermite: Habu, Great set of photos, leaves out some steps and details but is pretty good.

The preheat is left out of most descriptions of Thermit welding and makes it seem easier than it is. One of the engineering problems is the gate in the bottom of the "crucible". This is a steel plate that melts when a sufficient amount of metal has melted. Figuring out how long it needs to last and then how thick to make it is tricky.

Some Thermit welding systems are more sophisticated than this one and has ports in the molds and a multiple head torch system to do the preheating. In some systems parts of the molds are reusuable but in most cases there is a lot of waste and not much is reusable. Others are less sophisticated and do not have side risers, the "crucible" acting as sprue and riser combined.

   - guru - Monday, 12/29/03 20:01:08 EST

ptree, I know about thermite; even know that you can use different oxides to get different types of molten metal---not just ferrous alloys!

BTW I never heard of ingotizm but piping of castings I have seen a lot of places---IIRC thermite can be used to keep the top of the ingot molten till the lower sections have pulled all the metal they need out of it to crystallize nicely.

Differentiation during crystalazation can be used to your advantage---look up zone refining for things like silicon for chips (old tech now; but when AT&T opened *all* their patents due to the consent decree the patent for the transistor was open but the one for zone refining the only commercial metod of getting the purity needed to make them was granted *just* after the deadline...

Also when you cast a cannon barrel all the "crud" that promotes weakness ends up in the center---that you then bore out!

Thomas---never start an exothermic reaction you don't know how to stop!!!
   - ThomasP - Monday, 12/29/03 20:31:36 EST

The Guru's E-bay Thorn: Jock, on another talk list I am on, one of the former e-bay sellers has complained too many times to E-bay about fraud in the selling of stone points. Now I make stone points, but do not sell them as authentic, as does this guy. However, as you have so often pointed out, E-bay does not seem to be interested in persuing fraud, just in that big sales total. But even honest sellers like this guy are booted for complaining, yet the dishonest continue on. Bummer, ain't it? Knowing all this, I would not buy or sell on EBay.
   Bob H - Monday, 12/29/03 23:34:01 EST

What is stressproof steel? I have a piece of 1.38 round that I was considering using for pivot joints for the PH I'm building (boring hole thru center and cutting sections) Not sure of the chemistry but was told I'd have no problem welding to mild. Any advice? Thanks, Dodge
   Dodge - Tuesday, 12/30/03 01:40:17 EST

Stressproof is a name created by a Marketing department at some steel mill. Nothing is stressproof. This is usually round bar stock that has been pickled and cold rolled to build compressive stress on the OD. This inhibits the formation of surface cracks due to rotating fatigue. It is generally good stuff with an over-done name.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 12/30/03 08:00:47 EST

Thermite: during the 1940's, the Seniors at the Colorado School of Mines held "Senior Day" every spring. One of the favorite activities was to go into downtown Golden, Colorado and sneak up on one of the old trolly cars. They would pull down the rods that connected the car to the overhead powerlines. While the conductor was putting the rods back up, they would thermite weld the trolly wheels to the track. Hey, it was a simpler time and fun was hard to find!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 12/30/03 08:04:10 EST

STRESSPROOF is the registered trade name by LaSalle Steel Co of their version of a basic 1144 carbon alloy steel, (.44 carbon). 1144 is made by other companies as well, often with some trade name. This is typically used because of hi strength and free machining traits. Most steel books do not recommended critical application welding but it will certainly stick to mild steel.
   - Tom H - Tuesday, 12/30/03 08:28:33 EST

My question is about tempering Damascus. It seems to me that it would be easy enough to temper cable Damascus if you know what type of steel the cable is made from but what about Damascus that has different grade steels throughout? Can this be tempered? If so my guess would be temper it to the softest steel (?) Should you even temper Damascus at all given the strength lent to the overall composition by the weld layers? I know I am asking a lot of questions but I am very new to this and would like to learn all that I can. Well thanks
   Peldor - Tuesday, 12/30/03 08:33:13 EST

i would like to take a shot at making kifes and possibly some swords if possible personaly i woulld like to make my self a coal forge but i dont know how practical it would bein the neiborhood where i am and i dont know the size that i should get for those prodjects i just want to do this as a fun thing in my spare timeand as far as the funds i have avilable it all depends on the time of the month and my other bills
   richard wall - Tuesday, 12/30/03 09:14:52 EST

Gonna be a Snow Bird. I'll be in San José, the capital of Costa Rica for the first 3 weeks in January. A student had his visa denied at the last minute, so he is flying me in to give a one-on-one in his minimal, charcoal-fired shop. I'll be on an inland "plateau" over 3000 feet, and it's the dry season. They say it's eternal springtime down there. For all you cold weather guys, "I feel for you, but I can't quite reach you". A full report upon my return.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/30/03 09:30:39 EST

I was helping my father-in-law clean up his shop and ran across a TorchWeld acetylene generator torch that his father-in-law used many years ago. I am trying to find out some information about it. I can send a picture if you have a way for me to send it. I found this same question in yoru archives, but did not see an answer. Can you help?
   Jim - Tuesday, 12/30/03 11:20:03 EST

after looking at some of the prices from the advertiser im thinking a less costly rout would br the answer for me
   richard wall - Tuesday, 12/30/03 11:20:53 EST

Frank, My good friend Josh greenwood is moving down there and I have been tempted to follow. They are there now but I do not have an address. They have a farm out near the highland rain forest.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 11:21:13 EST

guru i know by now that by now you are geting tired of my question as it seams to stay the same and for that i do appolagize what kind of junk peices other than that shown on this site would be good for a coal forge s well as a blower and what all is the blowr for thanks
   richard wall - Tuesday, 12/30/03 11:33:35 EST

Thanks guys, for the input on "stressproof" steel. And again, thanks to Jock and everyone else involved for making this site possible.
   Dodge - Tuesday, 12/30/03 11:54:25 EST

I have a late model 25lb little giant power hammer. The spring adjustment spacer on the right arm is badley worn, and the hole where the adjustment screw contacts it is 1.5 time wider and twice as long as the adjustment screw. I have a friend machining a new part for me but there is some question about attaching it to the screw. I assume the spacer should be tapped so it attaches tightly to the screw, but my machinest friend thinks it should just sit in an oversized whole to rotate freely. I have the book on rebuilding the hammer, and it shows the part in all the diagrams but it is not mentioned in the text. Can someone please clarify it this part is to be tapped or not. Thanks!
   Milt - Tuesday, 12/30/03 12:03:12 EST

coal forges..... They can be made form anything. All a forge needs to do is hold the fire in a usable shape and to direct air to the correct loaction. Wood and mud or clay work well. brake drums, water heaters ( cut the end off and use it) scrap steel plate welded together.
It all depends on whay you have to work with and it all depends on how 'creative' you are. As well as what tools and skills you have. Being a blacksmith to me is MUCH more thatn hitting hot iron. It is the way you approach problems. Some folks stop, blacksmiths usually find a way to do it. Often times in an odd or unusual way, but we do it. My work area is very very plain and I have faily few tools, but it has not stopped me. Yes I do complain about not haveing certain things, but to be honest I do not have them cause I obviously do not want then bad enough. Yes money or the lack of it does have an influence, but there are always less costly ways.

Blowers..... they are your air source for the forge. in order for the fuel to get hot enough to forge metal with you need more air in the fire ( but not too much) Blowers can be hand cranked, electric or any other power source. Heater fans from cars can work, as do hair dryers. All have good points and some have down sides.
Once again it all depends on how much you are willing to spend, on what is avalible, and on your own native creativity and skills.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 12/30/03 12:07:14 EST

Tempering Damascus: Peldor, Hardening and tempering is quite similar for most steels. Where it gets complicated is in laminated steels that contain vastly different steels like stainlesses that do not harden and temper like regular carbon steels. However, it CAN be done by carefully comparing the needs for the different steels and finding a processing method that works for all. I remember a discussion years ago where Daryl Meier worked out a heat treatment for a carbon/stainless mix. The trick was critical temperature control and the order of operations. I think the whole was heated and quenched, then held at a precipitation hardening temperature, then tempered. The temperature ranges were relatively narrow and required accurate controls (no seat of the pants blacksmith heat treatment).

This is one of those areas where you are going to have to study the metallurgy and invest in the proper equipment or else do something different.

Note that in the case of most laminated steels the point is to be able to have useful steels in a condition that they would normaly be too hard and brittle. Hard layers prevented from cracking by softer more resiliant steel.

Cable Damascus starts out as one source steel but due to decarburization ends up being many. Otherwise there would be no pattern.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 12:10:27 EST

Little Giant Parts: Milt, The spacer is a flange to push on the spring. It should set on a shoulder on the end of the screw and fit the spring. Excessive wear here indicates that it was run much too loose for a long time.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 12:17:52 EST

Little Giant Parts: So the screw should have a shoulder that is smaller than the tread, and the flange should have a hole that is the size of the resulting "pin" in the center of the screw? The end of the screw is machined down and the flange has a simple hole for the pin to set in?
   Milt - Tuesday, 12/30/03 12:30:31 EST

Milt, I think that is right. I had two of this model LG at one time and had one completely apart and back at one time. Its been a long time ago and I do not have either machine now.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 13:10:53 EST

Now that I have made some pattern welded blades I want to etch them. I went to Radio Shack and bought some board etchant. It says on the bottle ,PCB Etchant Solution. PCB or polychlorinated biphenyls have not been produced in the US since 1977. My question is this. Is this the same PCB associated with the toxic waste superfund clean up sites, (does Radio Shack import this stuff), and will I have a difficult time disposing of it.
   Harley - Tuesday, 12/30/03 13:16:07 EST

richard: First I suggest you find the local blacksmiths organization and attend one of their meets. This will do more for you than reading 10 books. Go to www.abana.org and look at the list of affiliates.

Second I suggest you do read a book or two on getting started in blacksmithing - ask in this forum for recommended titles.

Coal: IMO if you are just beginning and you are on your own then this is not the way to go. True, coal forges are very simple to build and very versatile but you will need to find the right kind of coal and you will need to learn something about fire management (and smoke management). If you can connect with other smiths then this is a feasible possibility.

Propane forges are not hard to construct; they are easy to use and propane is readily available. Also, blademakers seem to prefer propane (not sure why). Info on making a propane forge can be found in the FAQs at this site - you should also check out Ron Reil's page on gas forges.

Like Ralph says "smiths will find a way". Try something - when it fails check back here for more advice :)
   adam - Tuesday, 12/30/03 13:16:52 EST

Guru, I had been getting that crap from Nigeria every day. They claim to have 40 million $$ and will give me 15 mil to let them use my account to store it until they get to the US to claim it. Installed Windows XP and a new virus filter and havn't had any for a few days... Is anyone really stupid enough to fall for that stuff?
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 12/30/03 13:20:21 EST

PCB = printed circuit boards. (now commonly referred to as "PCB boards" ) ferric cloride is used to etch away the copper cladding on a board to leave only the lines that make the electric circuit. be a bit careful with that stuff , it will stain EVERYTHING - even the stainless steel sink in your kitchen and if you do that you may find your self sleeping in the garage for few nights :)
   adam - Tuesday, 12/30/03 13:20:23 EST


Yes. It's been estimated that in the last twenty years the various Nigerian scams have stolen several billions of dollars. The scams pre-date computers and have hauled in millions of gullible people.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/30/03 14:11:47 EST

Hi, I'm 36 and really enthusiastic about trying my hand at blacksmithing and am in the process of researching everything I can. Not having anyone around with hands on experience kinda scares me. But I am trying to make an old shed on the backside of my property into (in my inexperienced opinion) a blacksmith shop. The wood floor worries me. Should I rip out the floor and put something more substantial down or try to strengthen and fire proof what I have?
   Matt Jones - Tuesday, 12/30/03 14:39:55 EST

Many shops did or still have wood floors. You just have to be more carefull. But if it can be done with out much trouble removing the floor boards might be better.
So where are you that there are no other smiths around? You might be in one of the VERY few places where there are none, but I am betting that there are smiths within 150 mile from you while this is more than most want to drive for a quick question it is close enough to go and watch work learn over a weekend etc.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 12/30/03 15:00:40 EST

richard wall,

There are some pics of a neat forge made from an old lawnmower body at: http://www.keenjunk.com/sketchbk/mm30311.htm

For a blower, you can get by with an old hair dryer. You'd want to disconnect the heating unit, or if that seems technically daunting, get one that has a "cold" setting.

Ralph and Jock are right on the money. A blacksmith traditionally makes his own tools, so examine what you need, try and imagine what might work (think WAY outside the box, it's good brain exercise) and give it a shot. It might be a flop, but success is built on the back of many failures, and the pursuit makes the finished product that much more rewarding.
   eander4 - Tuesday, 12/30/03 15:04:07 EST

Oops! I meant Adam, not Jock. It just seemed like such good advice, I mentally attributed it to our beloved Guru.


   eander4 - Tuesday, 12/30/03 15:08:43 EST

Matt; Forge Floors:

Due to rot, wear and such, most of the floor boards in the tobacco stripping shed (old yellow pine planks, laid straight on the ground) were bad down the center of the floor. I pulled them out and left the flooring on both sides for the workbench, tool chests and such. I loosely bricked over the boards under the forge, which was in a corner due to the chimney mount. I add to the center dirt floor, from time to time, with playground sand. I call it a self-fluxing floor- works just fine when I drop a drop-weld on it. ;-) It also works well if I drop anything on the wooden portion, I just kick it, if it's light, or use a poker to scoot the hot iromn into the middle sand.

Alternatively, if you have a solid wooden floor, some sand/ash/scale buildup will buy time before the floor starts to do anything but scorch; although picturs and photographs of the wooden floored forges usually show very clean floors. (Maybe they cleaned up for the picture?) Most early period forges (as well as peasant and pioneer dwellings) seem to have dirt floors, brick in fancy ones. Wood floors seem to come in in the later 19th and 20th century.

Sport coat weather on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/30/03 15:58:59 EST

I'm in Rockmart, Ga. My neihbors say there is an old Blacksmith shop that has been covered over in cudzu behind our property. They have given me permission to knock around in it when we can get together.I'm itch'en to see whats been left behind. The house I live in is over a hundred years old and my son and I have unearthed several old plows, axe heads ,and some tack and gear that I'm sure were made in that shop.
   Matt Jones - Tuesday, 12/30/03 16:43:55 EST


You lucky dog! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/30/03 16:47:29 EST

Wood Floors: The safety of a wood floor depends somewhat on the condition of the floor. Old bug eaten or rotted wood will ignite with the smallest spark while good smooth hard wood will resist red hot slag and sparks. It will char but not catch fire. In a wood building the floors, walls, supporting structure and anywhere sparks may bounce should be considered.

The link below is to photos of an all wood shop with wood floors. There appears to be sand spread on the floor around the anvil and forge.

Ramsby Blacksmith Shop

Donald Streeter's shop shown in his book "Professional Smithing" has a painted wood floor. There is tin nailed to the floor around the anvil where scale and small cut offs will normally fall.

The Blacksmith shop in the Jefferson Davis Chalfant painting on our iForge page has a wood floor.

You can increase the fire resistance of a wood floor by washing down with a borax solution. A coat of epoxy paint will also increase fire resistance.

Except for the ocassional red hot cut-off that gets away or dropped work there is little in the forging process that makes a wood floor a hazzard. However, OTHER metalworking tasks are more hazardous. Welding and grinding send showers of sparks bouncing all over the place. They can land in corners and under the floor in old dust and debris that is highly flamable.

Note that in most cases where blacksmith or machine shops are on wooden floors you need access underneath in order to put in supports directly under anvil stands and heavy machinery. In my old shop (no smithing) I had extra timbers running under the floor joists with jacks to stiffen the floor where machines sat.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 17:11:35 EST

Matt, You are not lucky, you are living one of Paw-Paw's dreams. . .

Rarely are old shops complete but OCASSIONALY someone does run into one. A regular here at anvilfire first came to us asking about equipment identification and values. HE had bought a complete blacksmith shop with TWO power hammers for $750!

Most often shops with equipment left behind will be missing the anvil. This is usualy the only portable tool of significance that the average person recognizes. Forges are often permanent and unmovable. Other heavy things such tire benders can be lost under vines and debris.

Sounds like fun. Good luck!
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 18:01:11 EST

On the homepage tonight was a photo labelled 'Guru's tools'. In the photo is a large swage block that has round and square holes right through the thickness of the block. All the swage blocks I have used just have dished shapes on their face so I was wondering what purpose these holes in the swage blocks could be put to?
   Bob G. - Tuesday, 12/30/03 18:35:37 EST

Holes in blocks...
Could be used for helping size stock.... especially in areas where store bought sized stock was not readily avalible. I have used smaller ones as tennon tools to help make a shoulder nice and flat.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 12/30/03 18:39:41 EST

Swage Blocks: Bob, That image and a link to a larger size has been at the top of the Hammer-In for 6 years!

Swage blocks have gone through three periods of manufacture.
Early primitive block most of which were personal patterns made by smiths who were not pattern makers had few or no holes and usualy were simple in shape. These would have a number of shapes on the outer edges and a bowl or two on the faces. Rectangular patterns were common. Most of these personal patterns were cast only once or twice.
The earliest known were bronze age blocks, titled "anvils" by the archeologists, of which only a couple exist.

Starting sometime in the early 1800's foundries started making production blocks to support industrial forging. These "industial blocks" were of great variety but most had as many holes in the face as was possible and retain structural integrity. The patterns and core boxes for these were made by professional pattern makers. Every surface was used to greatest advantage. The edges were covered with half round, 90° "V" and half hex grooves. The holes are used for punching, upsetting or heading, bending and as support for shanked tools such as stakes. Oversize holes are handy for supporting a steel bolster plate with precision holes. Large holes are also handy for dishing bowls. The holes usualy reflected the size and shape of the grooves and were generaly proportional to the block. Blocks with nothing but holes on the faces were the only kind you would commonly see until the 1970's. Industrial blocks are still sold such as the Vaughns blocks sold by Centaur and Pieh. Small jewelers "dapping" blocks are also made by machining from solid.

The third period of block making is the current era which started in the early 1970's. First by Wally Yeater then Josh Greenwood and followed by many others. Modern block patterns take us back to the first period of block making and have mostly been made by artist blacksmiths who are amature patternmakers. Many are personal blocks made by makers who know little about cores and core prints for making holes. Most are also thwarted by foundries that do not not want to deal with amature pattern makers and low production. Some of the patterns are good but most are poorly designed with too much draft or weak sections. Often bowl and spoon depressions are too deep to be useful. The Yeator patterns (no longer cast) were the best until the most recent crop from Canada such as the trunnion mount block the Kaynes sell. The popular long rectangular block (with too much draft) sold by a number of people is Josh Greenwood's pattern (1 of 3).

Square swage block by the guruLike many smiths I've made my own patterns and had them cast. I have also had several of Josh Greenwood's patterns cast. My small square pattern (right) is dominated by a large bowl. My rectangular pattern has two holes cast in it. I have a larger pattern with a series of holes along with bowls and other shapes that I have not had cast due to problems dealing with foundries. Maybe one day. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 20:20:38 EST

Wood floors:

I've done a bunch of various metal work in wood-floored shops, welding, forging, casting, grinding, etc. Scorched the floor lots of times, but never started a real fire. I always did keep some sort of fire extinguisher handy, but never had to use it.

The only real incident I ever had was with grinding sparks in a tiny little room off the side of my tiny wood house up in the bush a few years ago. I was grinding something for a friend early one morning and had completely forgotten that at the very back of the bench was a large grocery bag of confiscated fireworks I'd never gotten around to destroying. I got it pitched out of the "shop" before more than a dozen or so firecrackers went off, and just stood there laughing as the other thousand or so went off outside. Sounded like Chinese New Year. The neighbors, still badly hung-over from the night before, came running over all frantic. They never could understand why I was laughing so hard. I was just relieved that I hadn't burned the house down! That little "shop" area was 6' by 12' and it could very easily have been a total disaster that cost me my house and my life. Forgetfulness, carelessness and general stupidity don't usually end up so fortunately. I learned a lesson at the expense of only my pride, so I count myself as unbelievably fortunate.

The sparks from a 4-1/2" side grinder travel a LONG way and remain hot for the whole distance. They can pit glass, start fires, burn bodies, and remove eyesight permanently. To say nothing of getting into machine parts that don't like grinding swarf, filling the air with stuff that will ruin your lungs, destroying your hearing, etc. And a twisted wire cup brush turning at 10,000 rpm will grab clothing and get to meat in milliseconds, with extremely painful results. They seem like a pretty benign tool, but treat them will LOTS of respect.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/30/03 18:51:39 EST

nigerian scam : this scam is a lot more sophisticated and unpleasant than one might guess. check out:

   adam - Tuesday, 12/30/03 19:02:59 EST

Matt, careful saying things like that, you may end up with a bunch of us over there to...help find the old shop.

Two quick things about Thermite. When used in below freezing temps, the moisture in the mix freezes, acts like tamping and the high heat of the Thermite causes it to explode (this per U.S. Army EOD Team Ft. Wainwright, AK).
The reason water doesn't work on Thermite is the same reason it doesn't work on Magnesium, these burn so hot they break the water down to H and O.

Question on tempering a hot set type chisel. I came into posetion of an old chipping hammer that I'd like to use as a hotset. My thought is to re-bevel the chisel side and take the 'spike' down to about 1/4' on the grinder then anneal it (to soften it enoght to not damage the face of my hammers). I'm only going to use this on hotwork, I shouldn't need to do any tempering here should I? If so, what color should I temper to?
   - Aksmith - Tuesday, 12/30/03 19:32:14 EST

Frank, It sounds like tough tutor duty but I guess that's just the price of greatness! Have Fun and take a few minutes off to look around while you're there.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 12/30/03 19:39:42 EST

Bob G. The holes in the swage blocks pre-date the recessed shapes. They are used for through-punching and drifting, where the hardie hole is too small for the job. The holes can also be used for bending and removing collars and suchlike.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/30/03 20:28:10 EST

Adam, I have a long tirade about the Nigerian scam, SPAM and viruses on the FAQs page. They are all connected and supported by very large interests (Microsoft, Worldcom and the US Government). I'll quit now before I sound like Lyndon Larushe accusing the Queen of England of being a dope pusher.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 20:31:18 EST

Milt, Call Sid Suedmeier, he owns Little Giant and will be more than happy to help you with whatever you need. 402-873-6603
   Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 12/30/03 20:38:18 EST

Vic Re:>bag of confiscated fireworks I'd never gotten around to destroying.< Like we always said in the 60's, "party with the cops they have the good stuff" VBG
   Habu - Tuesday, 12/30/03 20:57:43 EST

Copyright in Sculpture

This is a subject that comes up once in a while. It is something that some people ignore. Oddly in our craft it has appeared mostly in toolmaking. Swageblocks are a form of sculpture and as such come under copyright law. The Josh Greenwood block I mentioned above is being cast from a pattern made from one of his castings and others are look alike copies. But they are HIS block and being made without his permission, or giving him credit. At least one maker has a block that is a near copy of my block above the image of which has appeared here a few times. It is why I have not published photos of my other patterns. They will remain hidden until such time as I can have them cast commercialy or they will go to the grave with me.

Copyright in Print and on the Web

Recently one of our volunteer authors contacted me about a piece of work that he originaly wrote and published in the 1990's and which appears here now. A large part of his work has shown up in a recently published book word for word with no credit. The author and publisher are in quite a pickle.

This was not the first time. At least one web site copied my entire anvil series shortly after it appeared. They gave me credit for it, but did not provide a link to anvilfire OR ask permission.

Others have used images from this site without asking permission. One fellow had the gall to use our flaming anvil in a logo he created for a client! The copy of the Jefferson Davis Chalfant painting The Blacksmith has been taken and used on several sites (and we have asked to have it removed). We do not own the original painting but we DO own this digital copy. It has been carefully repaired and color corrected and looks better than the original. Maybe the people stealing the image do not think I would recognize my croping . . . I DO.

Years ago I saw a complaint about web sites that had "Copyright" notices all over them. I suspect the plaintent never had an original thought or one of any value.

The blacksmithing world is a VERY small one compared to the world at large. One small town, not even a city's worth. If you steal the ideas of another in our small community you WILL be caught.

Please let us know when you see our articles or images in other places, even if they give us credit there is a good chance they have not asked to use our work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/30/03 21:11:51 EST

Let me chime in on the copyright subject. One site had copied the central image from my web site. On a Universities site, (student page) of all things! We were notified, Jock took the lead of notifying the University of the copyright infringement, and it was promptly removed. If you see any portion of The Revolutionary Blacksmith or any images from it ANYWHERE except on my web site, or Anvilfire, PLEASE let us know ASAP. I *WILL* go to court if I have to, that's not a new experience for me!

And another point. Recently I was asked for permission to link my site to another. When I looked at the other site there were some indications that it might be a porn portal, so I refused the link. My web page has had a "Safe Surf" rated for all ages rating ever since that service became available and I da** well intend to keep that!

So if you notice a link to my page from anyplace that surprises you in any way, PLEASE notify me IMMEDIATELY. I might even consider a SMALL reward for such information.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/30/03 21:25:47 EST

re: Beryllium - Around 1979 when I was looking for a new job as a metallurgist I was contacted about working for a company that made and processed beryllium and berylium copper - took one look in the 1948 ASM Handbook and decided I wanted nothing to do with the metal or the company based on the knowledge of the metal in 1948. Within the last 5 years there was a major expose on the company and the health problems of it's employees that one of the local papers carried - very nasy long lasting problems. By the way, they were a major defence contractor.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 12/30/03 23:18:13 EST

LAWNMOWER FORGE PANS; Make sure the lawnmower deck is stamped steel. A lot of them are a Magnesium/ Aluminum alloy, which could give you more heat and light than you bargained for !
   3dogs - Wednesday, 12/31/03 02:30:17 EST

ive seen on one of the advertisers sites that they sell titanium round stock i was wondering if it was something that was hard to work into some type of decorative desighn or even a knife on a coal forge
   richard wall - Wednesday, 12/31/03 08:48:26 EST

Richard Wall,
Titanium is a wonderful metal in the right application where its strenght to weight ratio are needed. That said, the titanium alloys that i have worked with in industry can not be worked hot, exposed to the regular atmosphere. It seems that the Ti picks up nitrogen and embrittles. I had to do all cold work, and boy is that stuff fun to work cold. Remember the bit about strenght? Titanium is the new fad metal, used cause its cool and sexy sounding, in many applications that don't require or benifit from its properties. If you want shiny metal to forge and polish for desighs a 300 series stainless is cheaper, easy to obtain, and will forge in a coal forge.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/31/03 09:44:52 EST

Richard, Stick with plain carbon steel until you know what you are doing. Titanium has very few specific applications that it is the best thing to use and most do not apply to bladesmithing or blacksmithing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/31/03 09:52:14 EST

RE Beryllium:

Issac Asimov wrote a wonderful short story called "Sucker Bait" about Beryllium poisioning. The gist of the story is that some space explorers find this beautiful Earth like planet that seems perfect in every way. The problem is that a previous exploration party had stopped there many years before and never returned. So the planet had a mysterious and questionable reputation. As the men explored the planet they found it to be ever more and more Earth like with the exception of some of the vegitation that was decidedly different and had a very bad taste. There was animal life but nothing advanced, large or threatening. A rich pristine world perfect for colonization. The explorers would be rich beyond dreams!

After about a week some of the men started to get sick. It started as flue like symptoms and then progressed to pnemonia. The doctor could not find any hint of a virus or bacteria. He tried to recall everyone from the surface but was overridden by their "gold fever". Eventually everyone that spent time on the planet started to get sick and now they were dying.

At the very last moment the Doctor discovers an ancient reference that refers to Beryllium poisioning as producing flue like symptoms and death. No wonder he could not find the cause! Mankind had stopped using toxic Beryllium centuries ago and none of his tests covered it. Simple tests of the soil and rock samples showed that the planet's crust had a very high content of Beryllium mixed with the predominatly aluminum silicon minerals that were so similar to Earth. The dust in the air, water, everything on the that "perfect" planet was infused with Beryllium.

The Doctor, sick and dying of an uncurable poison sends out a warning message that hopefully reaches Earth. . .

Asimov was not just an author of science fiction, he was also a scientist and author of many non-fiction works on science including many text books. He also wrote on religion and philosophy as well as detective stories. He was at his best when he blended fact with fiction as in his story "Sucker Bait". An entertaining story that teaches a valuable lesson.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/31/03 10:30:44 EST

thanks fot he info on titanium ive been welding for 10 years now and never come accross it and i thought that i would with my experience in the army and was always curious thanks for the info
   richard wall - Wednesday, 12/31/03 11:14:43 EST

Excellent service!

So on the 23rd I finally got around to ordering a roll of Kaolwool from this site. I was in no hurry, just wanted to get the rest of the holiday spending done before I bought any new toys. I was suprised on the morning of the 24th when Jock called me to confirm my card number [I have terrible handwriting!]. I really hadn't expected him to be "workign" the day before Christmas, and even told him I was in no hurry for the order. Despite taht, it was on my doorstep Monday. Thanks for the quick service, Jock! Next year, take the day off!

So, 6ft. of kaowool later, I've got my propane forge [second try] working. I used the body of that darned SS beer keg I'd mentioned shooting a few weeks back [both ends cut off], 3 layers of Kaowool all around, and flaps with small openings covering the ends. One of Ron's EZ burners got it up to welding heat in very little time. I finally got one of those darned rail road clips hot enough to bend by hand [well, vice and channel locks, anyway]. It looks like a larger version of his Freon tank forge. For quick work [and cold weather], I love it! After 3 hours on fire, the SS shell was just barely warm to the touch, despite yellow iron inside.

On the down side, I've already contaminated it... a file blade I had forged last week had somethign on it that smoked terribly when I went to temper it. Kaolwool doesn't burn, but it does go from a lovely white to carbon black really quick. :(

Happy new year to all!
MikeM - cold but sunny in Columbus OH
   Mike M - Wednesday, 12/31/03 11:15:08 EST

Mike, Thanks! Most of the time we process orders immediately. Ocassionaly we are out of product and there are delays. In early December we had a rush of ITC and Kaowool orders and were out of stock for a week. Had a similar problem with the Little Giant Video in November. We are not perfect.

Contaminated Forge: Mike, That is one of the things that ITC-100 helps with. Although it will get sooted it will generally get hot enough to burn off many contaminates. It is also easy to put on a very thin clean-up coating to get back to its usual high IR reflectance.

NOTE that it is better to apply the ITC-100 before the Kaowool has had a lot of use. The surface of the Kaowool breaks down, becomes dusty and rough thus taking a lot more ITC to coat it.

But I too like to test a furnace first to see how it is going to work.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/31/03 12:17:12 EST

Guru,et al; I have access to some old stainless fountain Coke cans, about the righe size for a medium size propane forge. Unfortunately, they have rubber bump bottoms apparantly molded or glued on. I thought of heating with the burner to see if the rubber will turn loose. Any ideas?
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 12/31/03 13:17:23 EST

Contaminated forge and ITC:

Luckily, I was VERY conservative when cutting the Kaolwool and lining the forge... all the pieces are rectangular, interrchangable, and reversable. I wanted to make sure I wasn't wasting any KW, as the stuff's expensive. This way, after a few firings, and when I can spare the cash for the ITC, I can basically turn the inner layer inside out and coat the "new" inside with ITC.

Right now I'm annealing half a dozen trailer hitches and a couple pieces of misc. steel cuttings to be made into clapper dies. I almost wish it weren't so sunny... the bright orange glow of steel is harder to see now.

~ 50F and rising in Columbus OH... January???

   Mike M - Wednesday, 12/31/03 13:48:32 EST

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a job offer from BrushWellman, a leading manufacturer of Be and Be alloys. I am pretty sure this is the company that Gavinh was refering too. That expose was in the Toledo Blade. One of the things to keep in mind when reading info about anything, but in this case Be, is media hype. Be is w/o a doubt a dangerous substance that can kill you. But, there are safe ways to work with it and it is not going to affect everyone the same way. I am not saying that you should go out and get a chunk of Be to play with. I am just saying that that before we go bashing a material/industry/company, we need to have all the facts. The media is going to write a sensational story to sell papers. They may not tell you what saftey measures have been developed to safley handle Be. In my case, I was not too concerned with the saftey hazards. I've been thru the plant and talked with other engineers who have done consulting work for them and as long as you follow the prescribed saftey measures, you are fine. I decided to take the Scot Forge job because it looked like more fun. Be is a very useful material, but has known health hazards and high costs. For certain applications there is no better material. Pure Be is limited mostly to military applications. Copper and Aluminum alloys containing Be are more common-I was told that metal zippers are made from CuBe.
Anyway, I thought I should point out the positive points of Be and note that the health risks are known and there are ways to deal with these issues.

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 12/31/03 14:44:24 EST

Beryllium: The big problem with Be is dust and chip controls. And for the small shop scrap metal user not knowing what they have.

Beryllium bronzes have a slightly different color that is hard to describe. But you cannot always go by color (though it helps). Beryllium bronzes are used for springs, small gears and non-sparking tools. The non-sparking tools is where the smith will most likely run into scrap. It is used for a whole variety of hammers as well as wrenches. These are nice big hunks that could be recycled into other things. The most danger comes from grinding, sanding and polishing. Machining is also a hazzard unless done wet.

When buffing and polishing any metal but especially copper alloys you should always wear respiratory protection or have good forced ventilation. Air off buffers should go through a filter (such as a vacuume cleaner system) and most just blow the dust (and hazzard) elsewhere.

Because of the hazzards of Be poisioning, tools made from Beryllium bronzes are never finely finished. They are trimmed or de-flashed and the minimum machining done. If you know you have a piece of Beryllium bronze then DO NOT make something that needs polishing from it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/31/03 15:33:37 EST

I have a broken spring on my garage door. Can I weld this with an AC welder and get it to stay. The spring is about 4 feet long, so my thought is that taking a few inches out of the coil ( rigid due to welding) would not hinder it's working. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
   Maud - Wednesday, 12/31/03 17:04:28 EST


I stumbled across an old, empty freon tank in my shed today (never know what I'm gonna find in there!) and started thinking "mini-forge". Working in a laboratory, I have access to unusual cast-off toys, and one is a large bunsen burner. What I'm wondering is, can it be adapted to work as a burner for a gas forge? The shaft diameter on this sucker is 3/4" and it has a nifty adjustable needle orifice at the base. At the flaming end, it flares out to 1". If I can make it work, it would appeal greatly to my cheap-a$$ junk scrounging nature, so I thought I'd ask opinions of those who are more experienced at burning gas. (Strangely, that statement continues to evoke a vision of Paw Paw with his toosh in the air, a match in his hand and a devilish grin on his face. It's disturbing, and I can't seem to shake it! ;-))

Thanks for the input, and Happy New Year to all!

   eander4 - Wednesday, 12/31/03 17:05:29 EST


You must have seen the picture of me at Tannehill Iron Works! (devilish grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 12/31/03 17:21:20 EST

eander I would guess it is adaptable.
My home built burner has either a 3/4 or 1 inch tube as the body and I use a 1/4 in tube as the orifice body ( drilled a hole with a #59 bit)

So all in all it should be workable but then again I could be incorrect
   Ralph - Wednesday, 12/31/03 17:21:42 EST

is there a way to thread metal for use in wood, without using a lathe?
   Andy - Wednesday, 12/31/03 17:46:27 EST

Threads: Andy, simple wood screw threads are made by twisting square tapered stock. If you want a deeper grip use a swage to make a triangular section and then twist that. It is not hard to do. Twisting the tapered point takes pliers or scrolling tongs.

Standard National threads are most commonly put on round bar with a die, or dies and a threading stock (die holder). Taps made for making threaded holes in metal also work in hard wood, large ones in soft wood. Standard threads hold suprisingly well in wood. When taping wood it is best to use a high percentage tap drill of 75% or greater.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/31/03 18:05:35 EST

Welding Springs: Maud, It is possible (I've done it), but it is not recommended. Unless the weld area is heat treated it may be very brittle and shatter under first load.

Overlaping the spring to weld it will create a long enough joint that the crystalization in the weld zone may hold together. After welding heat the welded section and heat effected section with a propane torch and let cool slowly. Hopefully that will temper it enough to not break.

Welding springs is tricky because they are made from a wide range of materials. Highly loaded high performance springs are made of high carbon steel that does not take well to welding. However, low stress, low performance springs are often made of relatively low to medium carbon steel that is emminently weldable.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/31/03 18:16:15 EST

Mini-Forge eander, As Ralph pointed out it might work. The limitation may be the air intake. However, the folks at the Blacksmiths Journal sell a little forge with a cute burner made from relatively small tubing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/31/03 18:22:42 EST

Maud the Springs for garage doors are relatively cheap. A broken one can fly around the room with a lot of force and damage occupants and objects. The type that stretch lengthwise with a pulley on one end are fairly easy to change. The other type that coil around a shaft at the top of the door and coil up the cable on a spool are very dangerous if tensioned improperly. If you haven't done it before at least get someone who knows what they are doing to show you how. My own experience sent the adjusting tool across the room, chipped the concrete floor and then stuck in the ceiling. According to the garage door installer, who charged me $25 to install it, I was one of the lucky ones.

Use the broken one as a sorce for spring steel for forgeing there is 50 to 100 feet of good steel in one of those pups. Place it in the forge and heat 6-8" of the coil and place it over a pipe in the vise and you can pull off 10-15' of strait spring. Your local garage door installer will have a pile of broken springs from 1/8 to 3/8" he would love to give you.

   Habu - Wednesday, 12/31/03 18:49:22 EST

guru, thanks for the tip, and a tip of the glass to the new year...
   ANDY - Wednesday, 12/31/03 20:32:58 EST

The most common use that I know of beryllium that most of us will run into is non-sparking tools, hammers, adjustable wrenchs, pry bars.

So unless you put out oil well fires, you really don't need to have any contact with this type of tool.

Engineers get all excited about the specs. on beryllium until you point out the downside.

A friend who grew up in the family machine and pattern shop always claims that he was in his teens before he knew that "goddamm engineer" was more than one word

   - Hudson - Wednesday, 12/31/03 20:55:07 EST

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