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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 9 - 16, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

I had the honor of knowing Bill Gichner for nearly 35 years as much more than just a merchant tool dealer. I've known his son-in-law Bob, a master woodworker, since 1964. Bill's image as a flinty trader (see above) masked a kind and generous, vastly knowledgeable master blacksmith with a teaching forge in his shop, and who always had time to answer a question or find a needed tool, or book for me and my family. He indeed charged full freight-- because he knew what his tools were worth. He had used them in his family's famous ironworks for decades before opening Iron Age Antiques in Ocean View, Delaware. Requiescat in pacem.
   John Neary - Thursday, 12/09/04 01:19:53 EST

Vince, I hate to say it but you can not have looked too hard.
Pretty much any decent bladesmithing book will have info on this.
   Ralph - Thursday, 12/09/04 02:15:33 EST

Vince :It is no longer possible to do this. Leatherwrapping swordgrips is a lost art that will never be done in a satisfactory manner again. Sorry.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 12/09/04 02:54:28 EST

In memory of Bill Gichner, I submit one of his sayings. "The holding hand does as much as the hitting hand".
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/09/04 09:30:45 EST

Vince pay no attention to the man behind the curtain :) try here they have good info on hilt wrapping
I have leather wrapped several hilts for re-enactors and have found that a light wieght deer skin spilt into 3/4" "laces" works best I wrap using a figure eight motion with two laces at once, if you wrap with the laces wet puling snug but not over streching the leather as it dries it will thighten up without curling on the edges. I find it best to use leather that is tannin or brain tanned the oil tanned does not hold up well to the process. It took me several tries to get onne that looked and felt right, don't be discuraged by failure on your first couple of tries learn how not to do it when you have learned all the ways it will not work then the only remaining ways are ones that will :) good luck

   Mark P - Thursday, 12/09/04 09:57:35 EST

Vince: aslo try here putting leather wrapping into the seach engine http://forums.swordforum.com/
   Mark P - Thursday, 12/09/04 10:19:09 EST

Bill Gichner: Dan Tull mentioned stories about Bill Gichner. If you have one e-mail it to me and I will put a collection together for the next news.

   - guru - Thursday, 12/09/04 11:20:14 EST

Leather Wrap: Vince, note that Mark said PRACTICE.
It is best in this business to make practice samples rather than trying to learn on what is intended to be a finished item. When doing something new that I am not sure of I will make as many test throw away samples as it takes to become comfortable with the process.

Note: ALLCAPS is considered yelling on the net.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/09/04 11:31:49 EST

Gurus, I would like to reask a question from a couple of years ago. I got good response then and have tried to follow the suggestions, but am still having similiar problems. I am fullering shafting, in this case diesel wrist pins (4140?) to make hammers, fullering grooves on both sides of handle 'cheeks', material is 2" dia, and about 4.5" long. I keep getting cracks near the bottom of the fuller. (fuller is 1/2" wide, about 1/4 deep) Cracks occur on the side nearest the bulk of material (where I grab it). Cracks are about 1/64 deep, and right now I am filing them out, but contemplating just shooting self as a
MISERABLE FAILURE. Forging in coal fire, about 2000-2200F,
lots of heats, lots of bad language, any help appreciated.
Thanks in advance
   - Tim in Orygun - Thursday, 12/09/04 12:20:03 EST

Tim, Generally heat is the problem. Being a junkyard steel it is really difficult to tell what the problem is.

1) Wrist pins are often case hardened. The method may have produced a surface too hard too forge.

2) You are fulling in the roughly the same places that the pins are in shear in use. It could be you have some that are already cracked. . .

3) Sounds like they may not be hot enough. 2000-2200 is the minimum forging range and for this operation you should be at the max to prevent internal shear loads.

How do you know that temperature range? Coal is usualy much hotter.

4) If it is taking lots of heats then you are working too slow (by hand?) for the size material and it is cooling on the surface from contact with the dies. Not only do you need to strike while the iron is hot but you need to use as few heats as possible and work FAST. Working fast on big stock usualy means power as in power hammer.

All junkyard steel caveats apply.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/09/04 13:22:40 EST

I am setting up a coal forge and have some questions about the flue. The hood is 21 gauge and is made for 8" stove pipe. Should I continue with 8" or use a reducer and use 10" pipe? I read that galvanized pipe should be used, but isn't it dangerous to breathe the fumes from galvanized material? What gauge pipe should I use? Where is the best place to buy the proper pipe? How high above the roof line should the pipe be? Any ideas for a chiminey cap?
I installed 5/8" fire resistant sheetrock behind where the forge will be. How close can I put the forge to the wall? Is this sheetrock sufficient?
Thanks you,
   chuck - Thursday, 12/09/04 14:01:40 EST

Greetings! I'm seeking advice on how to make a set of metal die in the form of a badge. Preferrably, I would like to be able to use these in a press, however, there is intricate detail. I don't have access to a CNC Machine, and no one that I have called wants to take on a one-off job for a small press project. Recommendations? Books? HEEELLLLPP! Please
   Jim Hartman - Thursday, 12/09/04 14:26:51 EST

Tim: if the inside of the piece isn't up to temp it's liahle to crack. A big section like that needs to soak for quite a while to get the core hot.
   adam - Thursday, 12/09/04 15:20:38 EST

Jim Hartman,

What metal are you planning to form with the press? That will affect the type of die stock that you need. What type of press; punch press, hydraulic, screw?

The most direct way to machine dies for something that intricate would be by EDM, I would think. Programming a CNC machine to do that inricate work isn't going to be cost-effective for a single die, so I can imagine that you didn't get much interest in that. There are places that will do it, but you're going to pay several thousand bucks, I would think.

If I were going to do that, I would seriously consider finding a small foundry that can cast 4140 steel in a ceramic refractory. Then you make the models for the dies from hard wax and give it to them, they cast them, you do the clean-up and finish work with gravers and a micro die grinder. I know of at least one reknowned smith who makes special dies this way all the time.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/09/04 15:42:12 EST

Guru, Thanks for your comments on cracks while fullering. Can I comment back? OK,
1) I would have thought that bringing them up to forging temp would 'undo' any case hardening? Does case hardning put so much carbon in that this is not true?

2) Good Point, I guess this is the hidden cost of free bits from the local truck mechanic.

3) I am guessing at the temp from the color, but I will try it getting em real hot. (I do let em soak, but will give em some more heat.

4) Well heck, I got only a 50#LG and its real hard to use dies in, even (god help me) spring fullers. I have been doing this under a HB treaddle hammer, and I don't do fast much (or I don't do much fast), maybe I just got to size myself down, or give up, put head on anvil and pound my blues away. So...Thanks, I will try some more (fast,power)
   - Tim in Orygun - Thursday, 12/09/04 16:03:16 EST

I have a beautiful anvil - I think it is 200 lbs. it is marked FOSTER. It has 2 hearts stamped on it -warenteed- date 1831 -initials T.H. - on the reverse spaced across it 1-2-27 Any origin , value, or information is greatly appreciated- also where can i get a metal letter/number punch set thank you
   ccbugin - Thursday, 12/09/04 16:04:21 EST

Badge Pressing: As VIc pointed out, you have not given us enough information.

To press in lettering you are doing what is known as "coining". Even in sheet metal this takes lots of pressure, maybe 100 tons or more. If the piece is small enough you might be able to get away with a 20 hydraulic press. But I would say the limit for coining sheet metal would be about 1" in 20 to 28 gauge annealed material.

Male dies can be made by hand and then used with a rubber pad for the female side.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/09/04 16:09:44 EST


Are you soaking the heat into the piece? If you still have a cool(ish) interior, it will lead to more rapid heat loss, at least for the first half dozen times you pull it out of the fire.
   Monica - Thursday, 12/09/04 16:16:44 EST

William Foster Anvil: CCbugin, That is an old English brand. The hearts and initials were probably cut in by an owner. The value depends greatly on condition. From $200 to $300 USD.

I have a source for punches. testing now. more later.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/09/04 16:43:22 EST

Pressing Badges: I forgot that I had seen a book on the subject of using presses in jewelery work recently. It had a plan for a 20 ton press as well as sources. The press designs were small bench top things, nothing like my heavy hydraulic press which I would like to upgrade with a 50 ton cylinder (see 21st Century page).

I will get the details on the book tonight when I see the fellow that has it.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/09/04 17:17:18 EST


One thing that I neglected to mention is that most police badges were, for decades, cast rather than pressed. At least, the ten or so that I've had have been cast. (grin)

My latest badge, a product of Blackington, appears to be drop stamped. Kinda cheesy feeling, compared to the heavy cast ones of the past, but it doesn't cause the shirt to sag as much. Actually, it doesn't cause it to sag at all, since it stays in my badge case these days. But if I ever, God forbid, go back to working in uniform again, it will be nice to have it not weigh so much. (grin)

That said, you could easily pull a silicone rubber mold of a badge and make waxes for lost-wax casting. With the right equipment and technique, you can get detail as fine as a human hair. Its a thought, anyway.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/09/04 19:37:21 EST

Hi-A while back someone there recommended a book, "Tool making", or "Tool and Die Making" or close to that. I looked in the book link with no luck. Does this ring a bell with anyone. I would appreciate another lead on this.
I just read the postings on sword making and I recall a story, I can't forget it, that was told by an instructor in an engineering class years ago. It seems that there was a sword making shop back at the beginning of the iron age and the master sword maker had a little slave uprising one day and he just happened to have a red hot blade in his hand as a slave came at him and he ran him through with the blade and after that he noticed that the blade was extra hard. So...from then on it was, one slave, one sword.
   Bob Lowe - Thursday, 12/09/04 20:46:10 EST

Wouldn't a blade heated fully to a hardening heat it's full length not be too soft to survive entering a body and remain straight?
   JimG - Thursday, 12/09/04 21:29:06 EST

On cracking. Many automotive parts, and especially big truck parts have surface treatments for wear and lubrication, and are made from unusual alloys. That wrist pin may be hard chromed, nitrided, ceramic coated etc. Assuming alloy from the published Junk charts may not be right.
Axles are assumed to be 4140, especially truck axles. According to the old guys at the plant, all the axles made from stock bigger than 1 3/8" od have been 1541H for about 10 to 15 years now, and the smaller are 1045H. Both of those steels are great to heat treat in a scanning induction process. They make great hammers, but are very sensitive to quench cracking. Much more senstive than the 4140!
On forging heavy sections. Heat soaking to the center of the part is critical to prevent tearing and cracking. A big 2" od billet takes quite a while to heat in a forge. Again induction, which heat from the inside out somewhat is very fast. We can heat and forge maybe 4 times the parts with induction vs gas forge, all things being equal. I think a 5.5" od takes about 30 minutes in our gas forge to reach forgability.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/09/04 21:40:16 EST

Quenching a sword in a slave only makes sense for magical qualities, but in reality was impractical. As Jim G. mentions, it would probably warp the blade, from the writhing or the dead weight, if nothing else; the human body is not a good quenching medium. It's hard enough to get consistant results using a quenching tub filled with water or brine (or milk, or blood, or urine or a dozen other "secret' formulas).

Quenching a blade in a slave is probably one of the earliest "urban legends". Everybody knew sombody who knew somebody who heard of somebody who had a sword that was quenched this way; but nobody seemed to have any actual first-hand knowledge. It had a certain magic cachet, but probably was extremely rare if it ever happened at all.

Rainy and soggy on the banks of the lower Potomac. Picked up the new family truck tonight; a Toyota Tundra, standard cab, eight foot bed, four-wheel drive, and trailer package; just the thing for hauling around Viking vessels, oars, spars, blacksmithing equipment, tent poles, spears, armor, logs, trash, and the other dozen chores around Oakley Farm, Oakley Forge, the Longship Company and Camp Fenby. I only hope it lasts as long as the '84 Ford F-150 that it's replacing. (The wif & CFO helped pick it out.)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/09/04 23:41:12 EST

The slave-the sword-it was a story, a story...after a metallurgy lecture. I do not recall one word said about the logical rational at the time nor did I imply any...my gosh.
   Bob Lowe - Friday, 12/10/04 00:17:36 EST

There is a passage in "Moby Dick" where Captain Ahab has the shipsmith, Perth, forge a harpoon of nail stubs from horseshoes. Ahab has it "tempered" in the blood which was let from three "heathens" on board. Then he baptizes the harpoon in the name of the devil.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/10/04 00:33:12 EST

The slave method of blade tempering is referred to in The Epic of Steel. I forget whether the author, a longtime public relations person for U.S. Steel, calls it apocryphal. I'll look it up. Stay tuned.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 12/10/04 00:44:14 EST

Slaves as a quenching medium-- this is presented with a straight face by Douglas Alan Fisher on page 22 in his The Epic of Steel (Harper & Row, N.Y., 1963) and footnoted to The Story of Metals, by John W. W. Sullivan (Ames, Iowa, 1951, p. 153. The details given are vastly too ghastly for this prime time site. But there was a lot to the complex procedure, and the slaves, alas, were not reuseable.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 12/10/04 01:22:43 EST

Well, just home from 3 months at sea and get the news that Bill has passed on. I wish you all could have had the opportunity to prowl through his various collections over the last 30 years as I have had on rare occasions. Bill got good money for his iron, but didn't live high on it: he turned most of it back into the growing community of ironworkers which he had some responsibility in fostering. He got good money from me on occasion, but was also willing to pay a fair price when I brought him items. He could always lay his hands on whatever I sought in the way of tools, by and by. A good host and a welcome guest, a friend who showed a lot of us that our work was worth more than just space in a flea market. I feel priviledged that I knew him for 30 years, and will treasure that friendship.
   Cap - Friday, 12/10/04 02:35:44 EST

Bob Lowe:

Please be assured that no criticism of you was implied; this is just one of those stories that pops up from time to time. These topics tend to kick off debates regarding their historical and practical veracity, I just feel compelled to bear the banner for the "Probably Not" camp. (I try to never say "never", since I've been proven wrong upon occasion. ;-)

A dark, rainy and dreary day in D.C. on the banks of the Potomac. Suitably mournful for Bill Gichner's funeral.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/10/04 09:45:32 EST

Urban Myths: We try to step on these pretty hard here as we prefer not to be spreaders of misinformation. Modern metalurgy has squelched most myths but there are those that persist.
   - guru - Friday, 12/10/04 10:50:20 EST

I actualy was being critical towards your engineering teacher for spreading such a story. Not at you. If your teacher would have looked at it from an 'engineering' standpoint he would have had to ask himself if it was true. Just for starters a peice of steel the size and shape of a sword blade will sag under it's own weight when heated hot enough to harden. And then there are the ecconomics of it, there would be a 3-4 year investment in time before the slave would be even remotely useful, and then 12 more years of feeding, training etc before the slave is of a size useful enough to attempt to quench a blade.
I wonder (silently so the ethical treatment of animal people don't hear) if this experiment has ever been tried using swine?
Teachers are not onnipotent, and anything they tell us should be looked at criticaly.
Again Bob, I was not critising you, just saying I don't believe a word of it.
   JimG - Friday, 12/10/04 10:56:14 EST

Myths? Myths!!! Why, harrrumph, I'll have you skeptics know that this all comes, Mr Fisher says, from "...an ancient parchment, written in Syrian characters, discovered in the remains of an armorer's shop...." I'll bet you guys snicker at Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, too. Tsk, tsk.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 12/10/04 11:49:44 EST

Hi! I'm from Turkey, a novice blacksmith for 2 years. I have been looking for a decent steel to make tools for wood working. I have been experimenting with 1050 and 5160 but they were from a junkyard with lot of stain - micro cracks. Finally i found a Bohler Steel inc. distributor in my country and ordered some 1.2210 (115CrV3 - silversteel) to experiment. I was too happy when I received the stock. However, for a week material is so stubborn on the anvil. (I have a charcoal forge). Shaping this steel is so frustrating. Any one know why it is so hard to work with this steel? Is it normal or is it my mistake?
   Anduin - Friday, 12/10/04 12:12:00 EST

I'll have you know I NEVER! snicker at Indiana Jones! After all he's on film and has to be real, unlike anyone who can write a book, or put it on line...........
   JimG - Friday, 12/10/04 12:36:52 EST

JimG-- Yesindeedy, as The Wall Street Journal noted some time back, anybody who can fog a mirror can post on the Net. (Blush!) Still, Harper & Row and the U. of Iowa are not The National Inquirer. Such tales as the one Fisher cited are part of the rich heritage of our craft, pieces of the endless warp and woof of flapdoodle that old-time smiths spun to keep the civilians in the dark about how we work our magic at the forge.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 12/10/04 13:24:48 EST

And, all kidding aside, now that good slaves are getting harder to find, what do you guys use for your quenching media? I've been using rainwater from a hollow stump, gathered in the full moon and mixed with the urine of virgin frogs, and it works pretty good as long as I remember to say the secret words over it, holding my mouth just right. But of there's something better out there, like Dreft, or whatever, I'd sure like to hear about it. Thanks!
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 12/10/04 14:26:41 EST

Modern Myths: For the last century almost every would be fiddle maker has believed the BS that the secret to a Stradivarious vilolin was the varnish. Over the years many have claimed to have discovered the "secret formulae" and use it on their instruments OR offer to sell the secret.

Now, the "secret" to Stradivarious' instruments was a life time of collecting woods, curring wood, testing wood, living with the nuances of every piece, painstaking craftsmanship that took decades to learn AND a superior ear and feel for the instrument. But the average person does not want to hear that they cannot possibly understand the details of why one maker's instrument that looks EXACTLY like anothers should be so much better. So I can very well imagine the maker himself starting the story that it is the "secret" varnish! In fact, a strad with the original finish has almost no finish at all. The varnish being only a hair's thickness or less and of such insignificant mass that it can have no effect on the tone of the instrument.

But it is a great story to tell to the ignorant that do not want to hear what they cannot understand.
   - guru - Friday, 12/10/04 14:32:31 EST

Silver Steel: Anduin, without a cross reference it would be hard to say exactly what steel you are using in American terms. However many tool steels are air hardening, especialy in thin sections. On a cold anvil they will cool very quickly and at a low red heat may be almost full hard. The secret to forging these steels is to work them as hot as they will take and quit as soon as they cool a little. If heated too hot most alloy steels start to crumble (fall apart like bread). The working temperature is just a little below this temperature.
   - guru - Friday, 12/10/04 14:41:49 EST

Howdy...just wondering, in case hard bolts and screws, are the threads cut before or after it is hardened?

   - smitty7 - Friday, 12/10/04 15:33:38 EST

Quenching Blades – JUST AN OPINION - I remember reading (source book title and author long since forgotten) that at one time (prior to the 1700's?) in Japan a 'Sword Tester' would try a new blade upon the corpse(s) of an executed criminal(s). And depending the type and difficulty of cut into the body. Along with how well the sword accomplished the cut, kept its edge, felt and handled, a rating of the swords quality was determined.

So perhaps some traveler saw or heard of this practice, told someone (and they told three friends, who told three friends, okay -BOG- ;) and the story became embellished the further west it was told.

Rainy and cool (+1 Cel ) North of the Lake Ontario.

   - Don Shears - Friday, 12/10/04 15:39:31 EST

Guru and company, Hello.
I have completed my second hard brick gas forge which will run on one T-Rex burner. The inner forge chamber is 8.5" Dia. x 15" long w/ a 4.5" sq. opening at both ends. After testing and reading up at Ron Reil and Rex Price's websites, I conclude that I have a back-pressure problem; blue flame spitting out of both ports while running at only 5 psi. I am not sure if the chamber size is what is causing this . . . or . . . ? What can be done to solve this problem?
My other forge has two burners and is twice as long with no doors at all, just stacked bricks. While running one or two burners, it werks fine. I figured that on the newest one I would add doors to keep the heat in similar to a NC Wisper Momma forge. Why the NC's dont have a back-pressure problem is beyond me, which is why I seek help.

-Chris Rand- Minneapolis Minnesnowtah.
   Crand - Friday, 12/10/04 16:20:54 EST

Hi all. I love reading all the ideas and information here. I live in west virginia and have access to bituminous coal. you can pay the ground shipping and i could ship to you.
   ken - Friday, 12/10/04 19:00:55 EST


You have a forge of about 850 cu. in. volume. That seems to me to be a bit much for just one T-Rex burner. With a total area of 41 sq. in. of exhaust, I doubt very much your problem is backpressure. That should be enough exhaust area for roughly seven or eight burners using 3/4" tube.

My guess is that you are running waaay too rich for some reason. Is there a gas leak in the burner jet tube area? Are you running enough pressure to develop sufficient Bernoulli effect to entrain sufficient air? I ask this because I don't know much about the T-Rex burners, but they are supposed to develop more heat than simple Reil-type burners, so they may need more pressure.

I know that the T-Rex burners are supposed to be more efficient and effective than simple Reil burners, but I doubt that one of them is sufficient for the volume of forge you have. I think Ron Reil suggests that it takes one of his burners for every 250 cu. in. of volume, so my guess is that the T-Rex would be maybe half again that much at most. Say, about 350-400 cu. in. So you would need two of them at least.

Lastly, you didn't say which T-Rex burner you are using. Rex Price makes burners in sizes from 1/2" tube up to 1-1/2" tube. Needless to say, they have vastly different Btu outputs. My comments above were based, loosely, on the assumption you had one with a 3/4" diameter burner tube.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/10/04 19:05:54 EST

Forge Back Pressure and Doors: Gas Forges MUST be vented. Yes various manufacturers use doors but there are either other vents or a vent in the door. The NC-TOOL forges with no vent in the door have no doors on the side ports. The models with doors on the side and or back ports have a vent notch (about 2 x 2 ") in the door. Industrial forges/furnaces with full closing doors have vents in the top of the forge/furnace.
   - guru - Friday, 12/10/04 20:11:05 EST

Hardened Fasteners: Smitty, All hardened fasteners are head treated after manufacture.
   - guru - Friday, 12/10/04 20:17:46 EST

Sebastian Chippinghammer, I think you are using good wart cure for quenchant. . . Don't forget to swing a dead cat over your head three times before taking the cure.
   - guru - Friday, 12/10/04 20:20:14 EST

Quenching into a slave would immediately cauterize the wound cavity and stop the quenching. This is pure baloney.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/10/04 20:23:16 EST


Quenching in baloney? Now you're gonna start a whole 'nother urban legend.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/10/04 21:01:50 EST

Jock-- Mystery solved! No wonder those rivet heads keep shrinking!
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 12/10/04 21:23:12 EST

You heard it here first, folks! Magic Swords quenched by thrusting it into the slave's baloney!


On a more practical note, all sorts of exotic quenchants were used with various rates of success. Although there were certainly cases where the quenchant lore was deliberate disinformation, people LIKE to have a little bit of magic to their work. I think this explains, in part, the popularity of super-quench. Jock has pointed out that ice water should be just as effective; but ice water doesn't have a cool formula with a lot of odd ingredients. Although we're now a long way from teaching the "mysteries" of the craft; we still like the fact that we can inject a little mystery into it. Quenchant formulas, quenching with the blade aligned with magnetic north, using odd alloys (how many times have the knife magazines headlined "The Ultimate Blade Steel"?) or small rituals such as ringing the anvil three times at the end of the day to bind the Devil, are all manifestations of our romantic and spiritual impulses. Most are harmless, some are actually effective (haven't seen the Devil near my forge lately, have you? ;-) and some are leftover misinformation or downright counterproductive.

The first time I came across the slave-quench mention, it was in the context that the best swords were ilegal, since the Emporer of Byzantium had outlawed the practice. The book was fiction; but it would be interesting to see if there was ever such a law (in the Ulpian Digest, maybe?) since people usually don't outlaw stuff that isn't being done.

Now THAT might settle the argument... or maybe not.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/10/04 22:54:38 EST

Would one of those disposable bottle MAPP torches have enough heat to harden the end couple of inches of a wood gouge made from a piece of 3/8 w-1 drill rod? I can't con my boss into buying an acetylene torch yet.
   HavokTD - Saturday, 12/11/04 01:45:04 EST

Yes if you can get it to a pleasant orange red color. Backing it up in the corner of a couple of firebrick or blocks of charcoal would help.
While W1 is a water quench steel, in such a small section some light oil like peanut oil might be the best quench for a first try. Go to water if it isn't hard enough.
Quenching in baloney is the next step if it cracks in oil.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 12/11/04 03:59:13 EST

Boloney???? And here I was gona go looking for a slave, too. What a gyp.;-)
   HavokTD - Saturday, 12/11/04 04:39:56 EST

What Master Fels says is quite correct, but may I suggest you take it one step further? The ancient Japanese gouge- and scraper-smiths (sensei?) were known to quench small tools in blocks of hand-pressed tofu. Later, they began experimenting with adding pork products and ultimately developed the "ham 'n tofu line", (later corrupted to just hamon), for which their knives are so famous. Personally, I enjoy the fragrance of a cauterized boloney, but the vegetarians in the group might want to try the tofu alone. PETA will probably send you a thank-you card for not harming a baloney.
   vicopper - Saturday, 12/11/04 08:15:24 EST

Do I need a flourite flux to forge weld 25XX steels?
   Tannis - Saturday, 12/11/04 08:29:28 EST

You guys have been drinking much to much Holliday cheer. . .

Off to the CVBG xmas party. I will be fashionably late since is is a 3 hour PLUS drive.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/11/04 09:59:34 EST

Tannis, probably since it is a 5% or more nickle steel. But I do not know if this is an absolute fact.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/11/04 10:04:03 EST

I have a small wedge shaped steel item that I inherited from my late father. I thought it might be some type of forming tool for working metal. I would like to identify the item. Is there some way to post small (37k) images?


   John Pershina - Saturday, 12/11/04 13:05:06 EST

Would a salami work as well?
   - Tom H - Saturday, 12/11/04 13:29:23 EST

posting pics,
You can post them on the user gallery John. It's accessible via the drop down menu. Paw-Paw will send you an email aproving you and then you can sign up,
   JimG - Saturday, 12/11/04 14:20:13 EST

Actually John, if you go to the User Galler on the pull down menu, and then ask (on the site) to join, it will send me a message, I'll approve you, and the system will send you a message saying that you are approved.. Then you can post as much as you wish.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/11/04 14:37:09 EST

guru! I was drawing out a bar of 440C (first time I've tried 440c) at orange heat. It cracked along a dent made by the bottom fuller. What's the problem? Is orange heat too cool?
   nick - Saturday, 12/11/04 15:10:43 EST

hello ,
pete, thanks a bunch for your extensuve answer on the pesky gas saver problem; meanwhile i have purchased an additional one and it works great, so perhaps, as you have suggested, the old one has a work valve seat. time for that trip to the welding store.
i have just purchased a 1000-lb self-contained chambersburg air hammer; would anyone happen to know its weight? i haven't moved it yet to my shop, so this kind og info would be kind of handy. if anyone has this hammer, i would be most grateful for a response. the company that has purchased the chambersburg assets, including the technical info, has contacted me and graciously informed me that it would sell me the technical drawings for $5000. equally graciously, i declined. for this amount of money, i can have the machine x-rayed and painted in oil on multiple panels of the finest canvas, to hand in my dining room, if i had one.
anyhow, please give a holler if any of this rings a bell.
thanks a bunch,
   arnon - Saturday, 12/11/04 15:51:13 EST

for those who know: rank tool steels based on weldability (electric means). i will figure out the stress issues as i learn more. the idea or focus is tooling using mild and tool steels. much of what i have thought of doing does not involve high stress joints. this information is not described in the things that i have read.

   - rugg - Saturday, 12/11/04 16:08:16 EST

re: superquench = ice water

I thought that the key to superquench was the "wettener" in the form of Jet Dry that would almost completely eliminate the vapor jacket. Wouldn't ice water still form the jacket and not quench all that much better then room temperature water? Maybe I'm misunderstanding something about the quenching physics, I haven't experimented with the super quench personally, but the way it was described it seemed to make sense and people have seemed to have success with it.
   AwP - Saturday, 12/11/04 16:13:08 EST

Nick, I would guess you're forging it too cold. My book says between 1900ºF and 2100ºF, and not below 1650ºF. My British chart translates these temperatures as: 1900, bright orange; 2100, Yellow or Lemon; and 1650, bright red (meaning above bright cherry red). Therefore, you have a limited forging range. You must cool the piece slowly after forging.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/11/04 16:19:07 EST

Has anyone found a REAL use for super quench?
I've had some for 14 years( replenished ) and have only used it for demo's? Why would I need a tool hardened that I couldn't make from high carbon?
   Dan tull - Saturday, 12/11/04 17:45:52 EST

Quenchants: Water is still the best quenchant but the ideal quenching temperature is 70F. For every 10 degrees above that, it loses it's ability to absorb heat by 50%. So at 80F it has half it's quench rate, at 90F it has one quarter it's quench rate, etc. Quenching into warm or hot water is fairly common. The water should be well agitated. Adding salt and surfactants improve the heat transfer between the hot steel and the water. In 14th century Europe, spring water and the urine of a young virgin were considered very effective and this probably has some scientific basis. Quenching into balony is a relatively recent abberation. In earlier times, an English Pudding was considered to be the equivalent of SuperQuench.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 12/11/04 18:21:33 EST


I save a considerable amount of money using SuperQuench on mild steel rather than special ordering high carbon steels.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/11/04 18:22:14 EST

Tool Steel cost. As an example, I pay Travers Tool $4.69 for a 3' length of ½" round water hardening drill rod, not counting shipping. One stick weighs 2 pounds. If my figures are correct, that comes to $2.34+ per pound or $1.58+ per foot length. I don't think that's too terrible when compared with A36 prices these days.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/11/04 20:55:44 EST

I should not beat the dead dog but we all know that some people tend to niggle that which they don't understand or agree with.
Along the lines with some of the current postings about air quenching, I have not seen mention of the use of the 'Wind Wizard' for air quenching in the heat treating of metals. Yes, that is its proper name.
And how about the fact that quality aluminum rivets are typically stored in freezers to reduce their spoilage rate. I say 'reduce' the rate because they still will spoil if left in the freezer too long.
These are not myths but are current practices. Again, you may not agree but that doesn't make it any less so.

You all have a merry Xmas,
   Bob Lowe - Saturday, 12/11/04 21:26:22 EST

Actually, some Middle Eastern "Damascus" (wootz) swords were reputedly air quenched, using a gap or window between walls that funneled the prevailing wind; and there are certainly plenty of air quenched alloys today. Quenching methods and their basis are highly variable. Some are based on science, some on experience, some on hunches, some on magic, and some on deliberate misinformation. The "slave quench" that brought this up was NOT done based on science, but on magic. Such a sacrifice should surely enhance the power of a weapon. IF such a thing really occurred, and IF it actually resulted in a superior sword, due to a quench rate ideal for the steel alloy (many of these early steels had all sorts of unknown trace metals from the ore), then the superiority would not be attributed to the actual factors involved, but to the "magic" of the sacrifice.

Metals do transform with temperature and time; and some alloys may be much more sensitive than others. Cryro treatments of blades are based to a certain extent on experience and to a certain extent on science, or at least theories based on science. But there are always a lot of variables, even in controlled experiments, so the extent of the improvement and the exact cause of the improvement keeps knife makers and metallurgists chewing the fat to all hours.

Likewise, superquench has its uses for hardening mild steel to a much better edge than normal, but whether it’s as good as, or much superior to, ice water would take some actual research and measurement. Whether it is or isn’t, you still have to mix it up from fairly arcane (well, Shaklee isn’t that common, anyway) ingredients, whereas I have ice water in abundance most of the winter. The question always is: is the game worth the candle? Mix up some superquench, or just use some higher carbon steel? The fact that we know about superquench may come in handy if we’re in a situation where all that is available for the particular situation is low carbon steel. If ice water is equally effective, then we can use it in a situation where time or access dictate against superquench. The more we know, the more alternatives we have, and the more circumstances can be turned to our advantage.

Lastly, however, the wide variety of quenching formulas has always added a hint of exclusiveness when applied to blades. Would you want a knife “forged in the same old way with the same old stuff” or a knife “reforged from several ancient Indian tulwars and quenched in (…shhh, don’t tell…)whale oil”? An exotic quench adds some sizzle to the steak.

Finally stopped raining on the banks of the lower Potomac. The swamp’s full-up!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 12/12/04 00:10:11 EST

Using only superquench, it's possible to temper baloney with mild steel in temperate climates.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 12/12/04 01:55:43 EST

SILVER STEEL; Isn't that what the Brits call our drill rod?
   3dogs - Sunday, 12/12/04 04:22:19 EST

Air Quenching: I have used my little air compressor to jet a stream of air along the edge of an O1 patch knife blade. The blades are small and thin and the air hardens them enough to skate a file. Oil probably makes a better martensite but it can also warp the blade.
Metals Transforming: Atli, only a few metals undergo a crystal transformation at different temperatures. Most metals are one crystal structure all the way to the melting point. Iron, by the wisdom of the Creator, undergoes several transformations that makes it the versatile metal we all depend on. The vast majority of what we know about metals was learned empirically, that is, by experimentation and observation. Only in the last 50 years or so have we begun to quantify the reactions, allowing us to calculate the results of processes on specific chemistries.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/12/04 10:03:24 EST

Now that the health food crazies have had their way with the food chain, I see that baloney is now much lower fat. Really screws up the quench rate. I have tried the new Giant hamburger that is much in the paper news these days, and find that the bacon and cheese adds a pleasent scent to the quenching operation versus the burnt baloney. Quench rate is dependent on the angle of the blade penetration. I prefer a 45degree penetration from the top side, with a Neep moon increasing the hardness!
   ptree - Sunday, 12/12/04 10:12:09 EST

Going way back to Anduin in Turkey, Yes silver steel is the Brit name for our drill rod. However, it looks like Anduin is saying Cr and V, whereas our oil hardening drill rod has W, not V. If he's into Chromium/Vanadium, he might have got hold of something like D2, which is harder than the hubs of hell and is forged from a lemon to a bright red and not below. There is nothing wrong with a charcoal fire so long as it's a deep fire and banked in close around the work.

And Quenchcrack, Isn't it true that O1 always hardens in air, but at least on larger sections than you mention, it would be more unstable than if quenched in oil.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/12/04 11:17:50 EST

My day Saturday. . . never made it to the CVBG party. Missed an exit on I95 (75 MPH bumper to bumper at Richmond, VA) and was 50 miles off track before I realized the error. . . Sign may have been missing since I was not on the new outer bypass. . . I hate big city traffic. Ended up going directly to my second stop to visit friends.

Air Quench: I wave parts back and forth, also use a fan (not compressed air) and turn the part in the breeze. I would think a diffuse air movement from all directions would be best. The last A2 parts I made were punches and dies with some mass. They were heated in stainless foil. After I got them unwraped I just let them set on a brick while I fanned them. I then tempered at 450°F in the cooling forge they had been heated in. The unwraping time can be significant and I think the parts probably hardened before I had them unwrapped as they were below a visible heat by then. The rest of the cooling was to get below the tempering temperature. Seemed to work well.

The thinner the part the more likely to air quench. A blade forged or ground to a finished edge before hardening will air quench full hard at the edge and lesser so as the edge becomes thicker. As long as the cooling rate is fast enough and the cooled portion is not reheated by the rest of the mass (it shouldn't if it could air quench) then the edge will be as hard as quenched by other methods.

This may be where the myth of edge packing comes from. When heat treated the advantage of hammering the edge thin at a low heat is lost HOWEVER if the thin edge air quenches then it may be an improvement over a regular quench at too low a temperature.

Refrigerated aluminium rivets: This is because many types of aluminium (not all) are age hardening. At room temperature they fully harden in about a year. But it only takes a few minutes or hours at elevated temperatures (around 350°F). I suspect that a low enough temperature may retard the hardening indefinitely. However, this assumes parts that have not been stored at warmer temperatures for any length of time AND they are an age hardening alloy (Just HOW HOT was it in that truck body during shipment?). After a few months or a year the refrigeration would be a needless expense. The energy would be better put into annealing the rivets just before use.

Refrigerating aluminium rivets may be a common practice but without understanding why it may be a worthless expense.

   - guru - Sunday, 12/12/04 14:15:47 EST

Frank, yes, O1 will get pretty hard in sections thicker than the knife blades I make. Oil quenching will harden heavier sections than will air, of course. I think it is rather prone to decarburizing if you use too many heats, too.
Ptree, personally, I prefer a good Louisiana boudin over the Giant FatBurger. A littel extra red pepper seems to get the hardness up a point or two, also. If you size the boudin properly, you can also have a nice lunch after heat treating the blade. Be sure to brush it well before quenching or you may find yourself executing the old technicolor yawn.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/12/04 14:22:49 EST

More Air Quenching: An outfit called Vortec makes various nozzels and devices that produce cooled air from compressed air. Their simple spot nozzels take regular compressed air and reduces the temperature to around freezing and make a diffuse blast of cool air as well as "pumping" more of the surrounding air than it consumes by about 10:1. I think the heat goes into the brass and copper body and is conducted away in the piping (or outer shell of the conical blast of air). I used one of these to cool a heat sink on a chill in a zinc casting setup. Worked well. They also recommend these for air quenching and I think the nice difuse air is quite good for this.

The same folks make the bi-directional vortex devices that seperate hot and cold air centrifugally. In these cold air is ejected from one end of the device and hot from the other.

They also make larger air pumps that through venturi effect move large volumes of air with a small one. It is the only efficeint way to use compressed air to blow a blast on something.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/12/04 14:30:11 EST

Cost effectivness of Super Quench: Here in the US we are surrounded by scrap automobiles full of various spring and axel steels. No matter what the junk yard alloy both of these make very decent tools and are nearly free. Coil springs (most supposedly 5160) are hard enough normalized for many purposes and is tough enough at high temperature to be a fair hot work steel for anything other than edge tools. NEW Spring steel scraps are also available from hundreds of apring makers all across the country.

SO. . we have lots of steel available free or at less cost than mild AND that is much harder AND tougher than Superquenched mild steel while not requiring any special quenchant other than oil for thicker sections. . .

Yes, this is steel of unknown pedigree when bought used but it IS known to be much superior to mild steel when a hard part is needed. On the other hand we have a more expensive piece of mild steel stock that requires the expense and trouble of a special quenchant that in the end produces an inferior tool.

Perhaps if "Super Quench" had been named "Safety Quench" or "EPA Quench" it would not have this hold on people's imagination. . .

It is like the sale for many years of Casenit hardening compound. Sold with misleading advertising and insufficient facts this product does almost nothing worth its expese and hazzards. A cyanide hardening compound takes significat time at temperature and only produces a hard skin a few thousandths of an inch thick. This skin is only suitable for wear resistance from mild abrasion and is described as "superficial" hardness. It does NOT make hard tools out of mild steel as the deceptive advertising claimed for many years.

Nitriding DOES have its place as an industrial process and is applied to almost all drill bits and similar HSS tools. Applied to previously hardened and tempered HSS tools it must be done so with careful temperature control to prevent going over the temper temperature and takes 10 to 15 minutes to soak in to that 0.001 to 0.002" (0.025 - 0.050 mm) skin.

For more details see your Machinery's Handbook (any edition).
   - guru - Sunday, 12/12/04 15:12:54 EST

I picked up some 1/4" wire that had been used to bundle the rebar at the steel yard. It's nice stuff - very soft and ductile. I made some small leaves and easily drew them out 1/32". Wonder if this material might be available in larger sections? - even 5/16 or 3/8 would be very nice.
   adam - Sunday, 12/12/04 15:31:25 EST

Toolmakers, diemakers, and moldmakers realize that skimping on the choice of material yet still investing in ALL the labor is pure foolishness in every sense. Functioning tools should be made right for maximum benefit. "Super Quench" might better be "Quench in a Crunch". There is no "magic" in toolmaking, (except of course the baloney quench using the salami option).
   Tom H - Sunday, 12/12/04 16:07:04 EST

Sodium hydroxide (lye) quench.I think I mentioned this before, but Rob Gunter said that when he worked at Sandia Lab, he found that the lye-water quench gave the "super" results. However, the 'big guys' told him to get rid of the lye and figure out another way, because the lye was dangerous. That's why he came up with a less caustic formula. It's true that lye can be very dangerous if mishandled. In the distant past, I have mixed it with water to de-rust iron objects (using also zinc crystals), but I always made the mixture in a huge glass beaker. It gets hot for a little while.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/12/04 16:12:31 EST

If your life depended on it, would you rather have the right steel quenched in the right medium, or a lesser steel quenched in Super Quench? When assembling a "survival kit" I chose the absolute best equipment presuming there would be no margin for error. Maybe your tools are less important. PPW, no offence intended, we simply differ on this topic. You remain one of my role models.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/12/04 16:23:46 EST

Hi there, can you tell me the difference between normalizing and annealing?
Also, are just any old ashes (like from the fireplace) ok to use in an ash box for annealing (at least, I think it's annealing)?
   - MikeA - Sunday, 12/12/04 16:53:06 EST


None taken. I usually make tools from auto spring, either coil or flat. I have a good supply of both. But on a couple of occasions when I've HAD to have a tool, I've made it from mild steel, quenched it in SQ and they've worked well for me. I've got a cold chisel that I made from mild steel at a demo, and it's never had to be sharpened.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/12/04 17:06:44 EST

If my life depended on it I would use only steel that was heat treated by a professional with the right equipment. I definitely wouldnt use ANYTHING that had been hardened in my shop. But for forging steel I dont mind taking a chance if it makes life easier.

I sometimes use SQ and I am happy with the results - I find it more effective than icewater. I have enough scrap "tool steel" I could make everything, even ornamental stuff out of it if I wanted to but its hard work to forge that stuff and tricky too. For forging tools out of heavy section without a pwr hammer or a striker, using mild steel can make a big difference. I paid about $5 for the ingredients to make a 5 ga bucket which has lasted years - cost isnt a factor.
   adam - Sunday, 12/12/04 17:06:51 EST

If W series steels are water quenched, O Series are oil quenched, and A series are Air quenched, how do you quench P20. Evil grin
   Habu - Sunday, 12/12/04 17:15:39 EST

Dear gurus (and other assorted er.... helpers)I have a question for you....but first the background... my father (a millwright) died five years ago and due to dispartriate feelings in the family I just walked away... since that time his tools have sat in a moisture rich area abused from time to time by a younger step sibling but mostly just rusting... I had been asked by the family to now sell off his workshop... I walked in and almost cried at the state of what was once a master craftamans workshop (squirrils had filled drawers to bursting with pine cones and walnuts, a nesting swallow had added several pounds of acidid excement to the already nasty mix) and after looking around I gave my stepmother a price for the whole shop rather than part it out.

Now for the hard part, in his shop (now mine..when I spend the next few weeks moving a 40 x 20 shop filled to the gills) there are two large pieces of equipment that I would really like to save one is a small gear head lathe and the other a milling m/c but both are frozen with rust ....what is the best way to deal with the rust? ....for the most part it is just suface rust with no deep pitting yet.... I am not in any hurry to do this I would just like to do it right. Should I take apart these machines and use navel jelly and a combination of steel wool and emery cloth to get rid of the rust or is there a better way? some things from his shop I know have now become just keepsakes.... such as his mic set (0-12" in 1" increments) left in the chest with the drawers open..... they will never be the tools they once were, but I would like to save as much as I can.... are there any tips you can give me on the preservation and reclamation of tools or any websites that you could recomend me to?

thanks for your time

   Mark P - Sunday, 12/12/04 17:46:03 EST


As it was in days of yore, to properly quench P20 steel, thou must urinate upon it. This be best done after thou has drunk copious quantities of Dark Brown Ale.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/12/04 18:01:08 EST

Mark P-- Urgent you NOT use Naval Jelly on the tools. It is colloidal hydrochloric acid, eats away the surface of the steel, leaves a really nasty finish. It would ruin your micrometer, for example, or any sliding shafting. Just take your time and soak or spray the parts of the frozen machinery with Blaster, available from your local NAPA auto parts dealer, best rust-releaser I know of, or its rivals, Kroil, KnockerLoose, Liquid Wrench, which have great reps but don't work quite as well. Plain old kerosene works well. Nothing is going to work rapidly. Beware of putting a lot of heat into castiron parts if you try to loosen them with a torch. It'll all come back to life, maybe with a dark brown patina of rust that would have shocked your dad, but the tools will live, I guarantee it. I've done it. Just now, in fact, rescued a batch of pliers, shears, scissors and three bench vises srayed by firehoses in the big Los Alamos blaze, now must re-harden and temper. But the joints, which were locked solid with rust, came free.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 12/12/04 18:28:17 EST

Mark P.-- Just to clarify, I am talking days if not weeks or perhaps even months of daily sousing with the derustifier of choice to loosen up all the joints and threads. It took me several months to bring a lovely old Royersford 21-inch Excelsior drill press back to life, (with the invaluable Email guidance and help of the Guru his very own self). The drill press had literally been left out in the rain for many years and every single component was frozen solid. Ditto the tools from Los Alamos-- left to rust for several years post-fire. But they work now.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 12/12/04 18:42:23 EST

Machine Tool Rust: I have found that on machined Cast Iron surfaces that had once been oiled (like ways, dove tails) and now have crusty rust that it is best NOT to oil but to carefuly scrape the surfaces to remove the initial rust, THEN go after the surfaces with fine scotch brite and WD-40 or 320 Grit wet-or-dry and WD-40. At this stage the WD-40 or kerosene can be liberaly applied to the steel parts and the abrasives used there. When all the exposed rust is carefully removed THEN start to move things. DO NOT move them over rusted surfaces.

I have had to go to the extreme of using a belt sander with 180 grit and water to clean up the table of a band saw that was left out in the weather. Carefull observation of the surface condition and the color will tel you that you are only removing rust or base metal. DO NOT attempt to make a cast iron surface shiney when removing rust. It should be a flat grey with black specs (from porosity and corrosion).

I have seen a crew go into a gigantic machine shop that had been abandonded for 40 year use nothing but kerosene, fine abrasives and elbow grease to turn what looked like disaster into a multi million dollar profit in about a week. It takes care and time but is not impossible.

   - guru - Sunday, 12/12/04 19:00:23 EST

Soft Tie Wire: MikeA, This is usualy annealed SAE 1008 steel which is a common tie wire. However it is a rare alloy and only made in wire form. Yes it would be wonderful to use for all kinds of things. Annealed it is as soft as wrought iron but being a steel is stronger and take more cold working prior to cracking or failing. Heated to forge it is very nice to work. It is easier to find old wrought to purchase than this stuff. Next in line is Pure Iron which in my opinion is is not as good because it is not much softer but a great deal weaker.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/12/04 19:06:56 EST

Annealing Ashes: Mike, I have found that the ashes from a fine Honduran Robusto Cigar does the best job. Hoyo De Monterrey is particularly effective. However, some folks prefer to use vermiculite, which can be purchased in a Garden Shop for next to nothing. Vermiculite DOES NOT smoke as good as the Honduran, however.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/12/04 19:25:38 EST

To Tom H-
You say, "Toolmakers...skimping...on...material...is pure foolishness..." I have a feeling that most makers of anything, including toolmakers, don't realize that they have to skimp (compromise) on everything that they make, otherwise nothing would every get made. I like to say, "That everything in life is a compromise." I think that that can be chiseled in stone, or in this case forged in steel. Otherwise your automobile would never breakdown, your blacksmithing forge and tools would never fail, etc. etc.
You are exactly right about the Vortex Tube. I found on the web where a company, Newman Tools, Inc. Makes a line of them and what surprised me is that these little 6 inch things, with no moving parts, take shop air at 100 psi down to as cold as -60 degrees F and up to as high as +250 F. Back in the 50's I don't think that they were working that good. I use to have the drawings of them-they are real simple and easy to make. At the time possible someone had the trade name 'Wind Wizard' registered. And at the time one common use was to air harden small pieces of metal and keep tooling bits cool. Anyway the Link, htt://www.newmantools.com/vortex.htm tells all about them and they make what they call a 'Cool Gun', I think that's what it was, specifically for machinist's to blast air on their tool bits at 100 dgrees F below ambient.
Now as for the aluminum rivets, I would like to say that I think most of the aluminum rivets used in the U.S are stored in freezers. This is because 'most' of the alumimun rivets used in the U.S. are used in the aircraft manufacturing business. I have always been under the impression that typically most, if not all aluminum items, as you say, start to age harden to some extent immediatly after it is poured into moulds and cooled down or thereabouts. I would like to interject here that I always try not to use 'never' of 'always' in a serious sentence-how is that for an oxymoron...
As for the reason for storing them in freezers; Visualize that during the assemble of an aircraft skin, the rivets have to be relatively close to the edge of a piece of skin to keep it from being torn off in the air flow. So...to help keep the internal stresses in the skin as low as possible at that critical point when the rivets are upset, they try to keep the rivets as soft as possible. Again, everything in life is a compromise. But, as I said, the rivets used in the aircraft industry as far as I know could be typically stored in regular chest type freezers along the assemble lines and this was the case when I used to work for the Douglas Arcraft Co. It was one of the jobs of the Quality Control personnel to regular check the dates on the rivets to help keep 'soft' rivets used for the integrity of the aircraft that you or I may be flying in. And as you mentioned this would of course increase the cost of the aircraft but this is considered just another necessary expense. Also, I think that you can now see where it would not be cost effective to do anything like returning the 'spoiled' rivets to the rivet manufacture for annealing. They were, during my time, just sold to the local aircraft salvage companies.

Most sincerely,
   Bob Lowe - Sunday, 12/12/04 19:27:27 EST

Iam sorry for the typo-I meant to say, "never or always."
   Bob Lowe - Sunday, 12/12/04 19:32:15 EST

Miles & Guru OK nixing the naval jelly... I have used it to "unfreeze" locked parts before and was using it as a ...maybe... B'Laster is not available here in the great white north but I do have two gallons of WD40 that I will apply liberally with a spritzer...as I said I am in no hurry... for now I would just like to stop further degredation... I have some scapers that I just refiled and sharpened looks like I may be giving them a work out... I'll have to stock up on some 3m pads and some Keiths Pale Ale lubricant for the elbow an d get to work ...thanks guys

   Mark P - Sunday, 12/12/04 19:43:14 EST

Ashes. Since it takes so long to collect enough cigar ashes, I have taken to using stove ashes. They should be fairly fine, perhaps screened, free from brands, and not damp.
Quenchcrack is modest. Go to www.iforgeiron.com and click on 'blueprints', and you will see that he has defined many metallurgical terms for us.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/12/04 20:57:22 EST

P20: this means you have to quench the steel you first have to down 20 beers - then you can P20 - har har har!
   adam - Sunday, 12/12/04 21:07:03 EST

MarkP-- I knew I'd left off an apostrophe in B'laster the second I hit POST. Sorry. They have a website I just looked at, with a list of retailers, distributors and a contact link. Reason I mention this is, I have tried just about every product and chemical imaginable to unfreeze the rusted wrenches and other stuff I find, and B'laster works where the other stuff, including WD40, just can't seem to cut it. I have a pair of beeeyoootiful wrought iron dividers, for example, that came out of the ground outside an old smithy, and that looked, after being lost and buried for decades, as if they were encrusted with coral. B'laster restored them, right down to the box joint, the tiny mortise for the arc and even the little set screw on the arc!
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 12/12/04 22:18:12 EST

Mark P:
Plain old kerosene makes a good cheap soak for rusty crusties. It'll stop the rust and slowly penetrate frozen joints. Keep a brass hammer nearby and give everything frozen a thump every now and then.
Plenty of patience helps a lot. Once you can get a joint cracked the smallest amount...the rest is wiggling it...P
   - Pete F - Sunday, 12/12/04 22:31:50 EST

Rob Lowe, Gosh Rob, I wasn't getting theoretically philosophical, just practical. Try investing 1500 man/machine hours into a large injection mold or $50,000 labor into a complex progressive die and then tell the customer you used $1.20/lb 1018 and "Super Quench" instead of $8/lb D-2 or H-13 just to 'save' $3000. Guess what the profit margin is when you invest the 1500 hours or the $50,000 labor the second time for nothing!!! Apply that to a custom functional blacksmithing project, such as a custom knife. Will the customer come back with another $150 for "Super Quench" because you saved $3 on material??
   Tom H - Sunday, 12/12/04 22:34:50 EST

Sorry BOB Lowe, (No I don't have any of his videos!)
   Tom H - Sunday, 12/12/04 22:36:30 EST

ADAM, Before the present days of Lite Beer, we used to have to use P-6.
   Tom H - Sunday, 12/12/04 22:38:12 EST

Annealing Ashes - I've got to differ from Quenchcrack - the cigar and ashes are a waste of time, now with a really good burly pipe tobacco you have a different story.

Seriously, the objective is to slow cool after getting the steel above it's critical temperature. Anything that reduces the heat transfer rate will help. Vermiculite, wrapping in kaowool, putting in a pit lined with refractory, setting into a hot forge and closing all doors/exits. We used to slow cool 5 1/4" square billets of 1546H at the one mill I worked at by stacking them in a refractory lined pit, and then covering it with a thick steel plate. Objective was to get them soft enough that they could have surface defects such as seams "chipped" out with handheld air hammers with gouges. These billets went to Chamberlain manufacturing, and were forged into 156mm shells. (PawPaw or other vets, feel free to correct on shell size if I've got i wrong - I'm going on ancient memory, since I left that job in 1976).
   - Gavainh - Monday, 12/13/04 00:27:59 EST

Bob Lowe - there are lot's of different aluminum alloys, I'm not an expert in any of them, but I don't think they're all age hardening. I know at the one company I worked for, we sold briquettes for alloy additions to the aluminum industry composed of aluminum & 1 of 3 other alloying elements - iron, chromium, or manganese. A major use of iron/aluminum alloys, is I believ the beverage can industry.

I think most of the age hardening aluminum alloys contain copper.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 12/13/04 00:37:25 EST


155mm, not 156.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/13/04 00:50:27 EST

First, we owe you thanks for a lot of excellent answers. Thanks!
Now, a small quibble, I've found that here, where it's usually damp, Vermiculite tends to absorb moisture and looses some of it's value as an annealing medium. Pearlite, a similar product doesn't seem to pick up as much water.
I use the white fluffy ashes that are found at the top of a hot,burned out hardwood fire the next morning.
A last note,sadly, virgin's urine is no longer available as a quench medium.
   - Pete F - Monday, 12/13/04 02:15:29 EST

revised question for QC beta guru: which tool steels are the easiest to electric weld. general opinion sufficient. my earlier question seemed to spark a splinter topic.

   - rugg - Monday, 12/13/04 02:21:59 EST

Let me try to be more clarifying and specific on this aluminum rivet scenario. This is how I remember they done it 50 years ago. For typical aircraft use, immediately after the rivets were heat treated by the manufacture they were packed in dry ice and shipped to the aircraft manufacture, there they would be 'spot checked' for softness with only the ones being tested taken out of the dry ice container. If they 'passed' the test they were boxed with a 'use by date' and placed in the freezers along the assemble lines. It was the duty of the Q.A. personnel to periodically again 'spot check' for proper softness and if any of the rivets failed, the entire box was discarded and relegated to the salvage yard.
Now as to the 'non age hardening' aluminum alloys, I believe and I repeat, I believe this to be strickly a relative term for general use specfications but deep down in any piece of aluminum or any aluminum alloy, the age hardening process starts whenever the molten metal cools to a certain temperature and also after any heat treating process. And I have never empirically tested such things, this is just the way I understand the nature of aluminum.
   Bob Lowe - Monday, 12/13/04 04:00:29 EST

Howdy folks...I'm toying with the idea of getting a medium to large size arbor press. If properly tooled, will this suffice for punching, slitting and drifting light production work? Thanks for any input.
   Gator - Monday, 12/13/04 10:59:58 EST

Rugg, Eata Pieca Pie blacksmith answers. I don't know. However, in my old Bethlehem book, "Tool Steel Troubleshooter", it sez not to fusion-weld repair downtimed tool and die steel machinery, unless it's just a temporary fix. It creates stresses on the already heat-treated metal, and the part will soon fail again. But you must have something else in mind, like welding a mild steel shank onto a tool steel bit? On this forum, I reported in the Spring of 2001 that I used McKay Tool Alloy HW on high carbon anvil face buildup, and it worked well. However, it is a stainless type electrode, and McKay specializes in stainless. It was expensive. The anvil looked like a pinto pony when I finished.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/13/04 11:37:42 EST

Soft Tie Wire: Too bad it isnt available in heavier section. However, it does weld very, very easily so for small pieces it's possible to get bigger stock. Ill have to go to the steel yard and scrounge some more of this stuff.

BTW: I know we look alike but I am Adam and that guy over there is MikeA. :)
   adam - Monday, 12/13/04 11:41:15 EST

Welding Tool Steels: Rugg, the lower the carbon the easier to weld. Most of the letter series tool steels are 1% or greater carbon (very high carbon tool steels) and are not designed to be arc welded at all. It is done but only with great care. Steels in the medium carbon to high range that are not suseptable to thermal shock are most likely to be welded successfully. Again, the lower the carbon the easier to weld. As the carbon and maximum hardenability decreases the less preheat and post weld heat treatment is necessary.

In high carbon steels the high temperatures and rapid heating and cooling create undesirable crystalization in the weld zone, stresses and possibly cracking. The undesirable crystalization and stresses must be addressed by full heat treating after welding. Often mechanical working is necessary (peening, forging) as part of the process to reduce the stresses. The exact procedures are not easily defined because every situation is different so it becomes an art based on trial and error.

That all said there are also the things people "get away" with like welding ball bearings into decorative work. With the right heat the piece may anneal and the joint work fine. But on the other hand they may be VERY brittle and pre-cracked and the balls easily picked off like the grapes they represent. Use low carbon steel balls or make your own. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/13/04 11:50:32 EST

Welding tool steel. I've had good luck using 7018 or stainless rod. Also I've made a bunch of top tools by arc welding an H13 bit onto a mildsteel body. H13 seems to arcweld just fine - I've even used 6011 rod on it with no problems.
   adam - Monday, 12/13/04 12:28:52 EST

update: Well I welded up a bunch of delicate leaves onto a stem using a coating of salt and flour paste to protect the finished work from the welding fire like Frank suggested. Except where the paste rubbed off, this worked well except that it left a carburized scale that is very hard to remove. I will try soaking. I also tried borax and flour paste - works too but next impossible to remove - I havent tried soaking that either. I think I will end up welding on the leaves as "buds" or only partly forged and then finish them after welding.

I should add this was an extreme example - the leaves , drawn out from baling wire, were paper thin with stems no more than 1/16". The whole assembly was feather light. I have never done anything that delicate in iron before and I am kind of amazed that I could forge weld it without burning it away.
   adam - Monday, 12/13/04 12:41:07 EST

I'm trying to find a place to purchase a set of Clifton Ralphs hammer tapes. Does any one know if they are still available and if where or can you tell me how to get in touch with Clifton.
Dick Sargent
   Doc Dick - Monday, 12/13/04 12:46:22 EST

Arbor Press: Gator, These tools were designed for light pressing of press fit or expansion arbors that are used to machine parts precise to the bore. They are slow and not very powerful. Even for general pressing of fits they are not very good due to limited capacity.

For hot work they are a pain to use because they use a ratchet mechanism on the heavier presses. It must be released and the ram extracted by the hand wheel which has little or no mechanical advantage (maybe 4:1).

For cold work such as punching or bending they are very limited by their capacity. Have you ever seen a 12 ton arbor press? They are a huge two column double reduction geared monster. They were also VERY expensive. The last ones made in the US ran around $1000 per ton.

For cold punching take the cross section to be sheared in square inches and multiply by 30. That is the minimum necesary tonnage. You usualy need 20-25% more to counter the stripper springs in a die set. Remember, arbor presses do not PULL up so extraction must be low force or spring assisted. See my iForge article on die sets.

I have a 5-6 ton arbor press that stands about 4 feet tall OFF the stand not including the handle. It weighs about 500 pounds. Next to it I have a little 4 ton punch press that weighs about 125 pounds and is only about 2 feet tall. The punch press is a much more efficient machine for what it is designed for.

If you want to do hot work then you want a fly press. Fly presses move quickly for their power rating and the large screw and flywheel have significant extraction force. This means they can be used for punching without a die set and stripper springs.

Arbor presses, punch presses and flypresses all do similar but different jobs. The flypress is the wild card because their rating is only limited by frame stretch and the distance of the work done. See my rating article on flypress.com.

   - guru - Monday, 12/13/04 13:04:21 EST

Clifton Ralph Tapes: I THINK these are available only through ABANA.
   - guru - Monday, 12/13/04 13:11:11 EST

Arbor press...

Thanks Jock, that's just the kind of info I was hoping for. Take care...

   Gator - Monday, 12/13/04 13:27:12 EST

Thanks Jock will check out ABANA about tapes
   Doc Dick - Monday, 12/13/04 13:40:07 EST

thanks for replies on welding tool steel. frank, you are correct on the mild shank/tool steel tool. i recently bought a DVD on flypress operations and the demonstrator was tig welding the tooling he was making. the examples that were shown were very clean. if it is not difficult to weld H13 to mild, then i will be happy. i think that using TIG could keep the heat out of the "business" end and should allow me to weld a tempered tool without goofing it up. i have read that TIG is using to weld caps on explosive containers, taking advantage of this. thanks again.
PS; frank, i have read that you forge S7 tools. have you ever welded it (electric)??
   - rugg - Monday, 12/13/04 13:41:25 EST

Precipitation Hardneing-
This type of hardening is used in many alloy systems, steel and aluminum being just two common ones. The idea behind this is that certain compositions processed at certain temperatures will have a second phase dissolved in the major phase. It is just like dissolving sugar into very hot water. At a certain temp, a given volume of water will dissolve a given amount of sugar. If you change the temperature of the water, the amount it will hold will increase or decrease accordingly. The same thing happens in metal. Heat it up and you will dissolve certain phases in certain quantities. Cool it rapidly and they stay in solution. Reheat to some interemidiate temp and the second phase will precipitate into the existing phase, just like making rock candy. The second phase puts stress on the first phase resulting in increases in hardness and strength.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 12/13/04 14:10:37 EST

Rugg...S7. No, I just forge it and heat treat the best I can. It is air hardening.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/13/04 14:13:39 EST

Tons to Punch Mild Steel Cold
Thickness - Inches
.015 .020 .032 .063 .074 .090 .125 .188 .250
.250 .35 .50 .75 1.5 1.7 2.1 2.9 4.4 5.9
.313 .44 .59 .94 1.9 2.2 2.7 3.7 5.6 7.4
.375 .53 .70 .81 2.2 2.6 3.2 4.4 6.6 8.8
.500 .71 .94 1.5 3.0 3.5 4.2 5.9 8.9 12
.625 .90 1.2 1.9 3.7 4.4 5.3 7.4 11 15
.750 1 1.4 1.6 4.4 5.2 6.4 8.8 13 18
1.00 1.4 1.9 3 6 7 9 12 18 24
1.25 1.8 2.4 3.8 7.4 8.8 11 15 22 29
1.5 2 2.8 3.2 8.8 10 13 18 26 36
2 2.8 3.8 6 12 14 18 24 36 48
3.00 4.2 5.7 9 18 21 27 36 54 72
4 5.6 7.6 12 24 28 36 48 72 96

I need to find hot punching capacities. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/13/04 14:15:31 EST

Quenchants, there is an amusing list of renaissance suggested quenching mediums in "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel" C.S. Smith. Radish Juice and snail water was one I remember...

In 1120 CE Theophilus suggested the urine of a small red headed boy or that of a goat fed ferns for 3 days in "Divers Arts". I've tried it---would you believe I qualified for the former and not the later?---didn't think so...It has a very amusing smell when the hot steel hits it...

QC where was the "virgin urine" mentioned? I want to add it to my documented list.

ISTR the "belly of a fat slave" being mentioned as far back as the crusades; but will have to dig for the cite. It is a "classic urban legend" as it's always someone *else* who does it that way---though I did get extra credit on a MatSci test at Cornell once where we had to discuss what happened taking a steel sword of X composition heated to Y temp and so quenched...

As for superquench I have heard it praised for items where you want high toughness with a bit more hardness than plain A36. I have a cold chisel made from A36 that Rob demonstrated the Lye quench with back at a Quad-State a decade or so ago.

Weldability of tool steels: much can be done with proper preheats and post heats and the proper alloy rods. There are books out there on this topic, ISTR "The Weldability of Steels" when I was visiting the welding engineering building at OSU once. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the ASM Handbooks had a 1000 or so pages on the topic too. Perhaps if you can tell us what you are trying to accomplish we can give more specific answers

My local lumber yard is happy for me to pick up all the soft wire used for shipping rebar that I want for Free! Why go to a scrap yard and pay?

Just been reading the hidden writting on my anvils; thanks Bruce for lending me those strange glasses that have been in the family since the second crusade...(saw "National Treasure" last night)

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/13/04 14:27:57 EST

Tie wire- In the trade, this stuff is usually called "black annealed".
When I lived in LA, there was a place called Artsons Mfg.,in Cudahy, 323-773-3469, that stocked this stuff up to around 1/4". They got it on big reels, and would unspool it for you, straighten it, and cut it to length on these room sized machines that were about a million years old. They also stocked cold rolled wire, and, I think Galvanized, in sizes from around 1/16" up to at least 1/4". They are still in business, and you could probably get some black wire from them in 1/4" or 3/16". Problem is, they have a 100lb minimum, and then you gotta get it shipped to you. I used to make a product I used it for, and I found the shipping was the same as the material cost on 100lbs. But I couldnt find 8 foot pieces of 3/16" black wire anywhere else, so I used to get it from them. Havent ordered any in at least 5 years, but I am pretty sure they are still there.
As far as frozen rivets go- the next generation of Boeing Jet will use almost no rivets- they are making the fuselages with carbon fiber wrapped around a tubular form, which then collapses for removal from the 1 piece tubular fuselage- no seams, no rivets, no spars, but stronger and cheaper. So Boeing, at least is gonna get to quit paying for all those freezers.
   - Ries - Monday, 12/13/04 16:00:18 EST

Annealing: I was just talking to a knifemaker and he uses Kaowool as an annealing medium. Just before taking the blade out of the forge he heats the kaowool with a torch and then sticks the blade between a couple thick layers.
   - guru - Monday, 12/13/04 16:28:56 EST

Ries: Thanks for your note. There may be someone close to me but in the meantime I will just scavange from the local steel yard.

Welding S7: I cut up one of the S7 chisels that I had made in Frank's class and made several tools by welding the pieces onto MS bodies. It worked just fine but that's the only experience I have with arcwelding S7.
   adam - Monday, 12/13/04 16:29:18 EST


Quiet; the Illuminati are listening!

I want my glasses back so I can read my new anvil from "R".

More than this, I dare not say.

Annealed Wire:

I have a whole role of about 16 ga. annealed black wire that I use for binding up elements to be twisted into dragon candlesticks. It's very soft when I wrap it, but I don't think it's the 1008, though, because it sure gets stiff after I quench the the object. Might give it a try for some welding, though; see how it behaves. Never even though to spark-test it before now. Hmmmm.

Gotta go...
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/13/04 16:59:24 EST

Guru, I use a very similar procedure for normalizing leafspring for grinding -- heat to orange and then wrap in single layer of kaowool (not preheated). Given that I can drill pieces normalized in this way with no special tooling, I have to endorse if if you have to drill tang holes or other holes in leafspring and you don't have metal-cutting carbide bits or similar.

Sunny and dry in Kaneohe, HI.
   T. Gold - Monday, 12/13/04 19:05:38 EST

Tie wire - baling wire is very soft and appears to be some sort of low carbon because it's soft in the drawn state. Only trouble is that it's in one size only.
   - HWooldridge - Monday, 12/13/04 19:30:17 EST

Best Tool Steel for welding: Depends on how good of a welder you are!
Virgins Urine: I cannot remember the name of text, it was in the library at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, TX. For a school not known for metallurgy (I taught the only course) it had photocopies of a LOT of very old texts on metal working. As Mr. Fels noted, this compound is no longer available. I suspect he had something to do with it, too.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 12/13/04 20:34:57 EST

I have a couple questions about clinkers..

Please consider it a given that (for the purpose of this question), the coal analyis is consistant (all new-coal fires use the exact same coal.

Does a stronger air blast (and presumably the acompanying higher heat) produce more clinkers than a fire with a weaker air blast?

When I close down a fire, I rake the coke and coals out of the firepot and sprinkle water on them to cool the coals. If I reuse ALL that material (after taking out obvious clinkers), am I more likely to get more clinkers in the next fire (as opposed to using all new coal for the next fire)?

I seem to get quite a variance in the size of clinkers between fires and would like to understand the dynamics that generate them.

   djhammerd - Monday, 12/13/04 21:14:49 EST

Tie wire.
I guess we scrap about 100 pieces about 3' long a day. 1/4" or maybe some 5/16" od. Got to try some. I seem to remember us using 1008 in boilers, just can't remember what part.

Welding tool steel. We used to weld full hard balls to tooling everyday at the valve shop. Used 309ss rod. Used very small rods compared to the parts, less heat imput. We pretty much used 309ss rod to stick anything together that was hard to weld. Not cheap, but not very, very expensive.
   ptree - Monday, 12/13/04 21:26:44 EST


Personal observations on clinkers indicate that stronger air blast makes for more O2 introduced into the fire and higher temps so more clinker. I use very dirty coal and it seems to clinker a little less if I turn on the blast at low setting and let it run continuously than if I let it idle between heats (electric blower). However, the clinker is easy to find and masses into one big piece so no problem to shut down for a second and fish it out. A lot of welding will also increase clinker as the flux and scale becomes part of the lump. However, the clinker can often be broken thru for several heats and the fire used without having to stop and remove the pieces.

On reusing pot leavings, I have tried to reuse the stuff that falls into the lower pipe of the pot without much success. It will make heat but does not mass into coke so burns quickly and blows sparks everywhere. My practice is to pull all pieces bigger than a pea onto the hearth and let the dust fall into the ash dump. I then mix in the left overs, fresh coal and left over coke into the next fire and in no particular recipe.
   - HWooldridge - Monday, 12/13/04 22:30:50 EST

hi!! I am building my first JYH, Much thanks to anilfire and its vast inspartion. i Have taken many Ideas from the East Coast junk yard hammer and applied them to my scrounged materials. single shock absorber, 1 hp electric motor lower anvil consists of 10"x1/2 steel pipe with a 10 1/2" x 1 1/2 round plate wich has been dovetailed to accept lower anvil die. I was informed i should try to use steel shot for fill .If i can not would packed sand help deaden the noise? The upper ram and die is 35# and again dovetailed to accept differnt upper dies. The rear axle i am using is a 3 spd stick wich shifts on the fly from a small tractor. My uncle gave me 20 differnt size pulleys to choose from.When I set the upper die hieght do i allow it to seat or hit on the lower anvil or should i leave a small margin of space? Much thanks and goodness to all.
   kainaan - Monday, 12/13/04 23:25:27 EST


Thanks.. Your answer covers a number of things I have experienced. I will try your approach of using a lower blast and just keeping pea sized (and larger) remnants of coal and coke for the next fire.

   djhammerd - Monday, 12/13/04 23:37:28 EST

Meteorite Alert-- Geminid shower going on, peaks tonight sez Yahoo news, but it'll go on for a while yet, best viewing after 10 p.m. local time, look in north-northeast sky. Just now took a peek (N. of Santa Fe)and saw four of the little buggers streaking earthward w/in a few minutes. S'posed to be 60 to 120 an hour (sic) when it really gets serious. Even a 1/2-inch square chip less than 1/8 inch thick sells for a bundle. Surfaces is pretty little platelets, like rectilinear Damascus. They can be smitten, too.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 12/14/04 01:07:51 EST

just got through tearing down a buffalo forge chimax blower (list 1268). two of the shafts hand quite a bit of wear. is there any company/individual that makes parts for this blower? as always, any help would be greatly appreciated. thanx, kirt
   kirt - Tuesday, 12/14/04 01:13:24 EST

MO'TOOL STEEL WELDIN'; Meinself, I used to replace worn and busted up Bobcat bucket lips with truck spring main leaves, using a backstep/skip weld technique, with 7018, or, if I had some, 11018. If the leaf didn't have much arch to it, I could just leapfrog the C-clamps as I welded and pull it down tight. Stringers only, NO weaving. Keep welding 'til you're done, bury it in dry sand and let it cool down slowly. Worked fer me.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 12/14/04 01:14:00 EST

Guru and Vicopper,
RE:Back-Pressure in a gas forge (Org. posted Friday 12-10-04)
Great advice !
First, there was indeed a leak in the coupling that links to the jet tube, which has solved the propane rich mixture problem in both of my forges. I had connected the supply from the old forge to the new one and thus carried the leak over without knowing it.
Secondly, I droped the forge chamber volume to 380 cu. in. by adding Kaowool around the hard brick. You had assumed correctly; the T-Rex burner I am using is a 3/4" dia. tube.
Thanks again for the advice. Yall ROCK !!
   Chris - Tuesday, 12/14/04 01:14:46 EST

Welding tool steel;
Having tried a number of different approaches , thus far I havn't been able to weld tool steels such as H13 or S7 so that the eventual failure was other than at or near the weld.
This applies mostly to trying to weld hand held air hammer bits, which I've come to regard as "The Test".
My best results have been using TIG, fancy rod, preheat and postheat,anneal twice, then harden and temper.
On treadle hammer tools,which I tend to be hard on, my weld failure rate is about 25% over the life of the tool, on welded handles using low hydrogen rods, stick welding ,preheating and then hardening and tempering. Should probably be annealing or at least normalizing after welding.
I'd speculate that most welding on anvils that doesn't involve re heat treating the whole anvil, will eventually fail, though it may take a long time.
QC; It's probable that most of us have put some of our very best efforts into curtailing the availability of that rarest of quench mediums. Who would have guessed that our remorse would finally manifest this way?
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 12/14/04 04:11:13 EST

Welding H13: Tom Trosazk of Bull Hammer fame and now Phoenix hammer used to weld H13 to mild steel base plates for dies. A very expensive welding rod called "Super Missle Rod" was used. This rod has since been replaced with a different name for the same rod. A good welding supplier will be able to look it up. The parts were preheated VERY hot, welded and then post heat treated. The H13 was in the annealed condition before welding. Overall it was an expensive process but there have been no reported failures on this high stress part.

I too have used 308SS rod to weld various tool steels. Where I have used it the most is to weld wrenches and sockets together to make special tools. I cut the pieces with a grinder or a torch and weld through the chrome plating.

The high alloy stainless welds through and to the chrome leaving a nice rust proof weld and an overall shiney tool. I've used this method to make special tools and to make replacement odd ended dedicated purpose tools to replace those that came with machine tools. The last one I made was a open end wrench to fit a shaper vise with a socket to fit the tool holder.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/14/04 10:57:48 EST

Forge Blower Parts: Kirt, Bad news, there are no parts for these tools, not even bearings. The company's that made these old tools have been out of business for many years and there is not enough demand for what would be VERY expensive parts for someone to make them. For what would be the cost of one of those geared shafts IF they were available you can buy several old blowers in good condition at the current market price.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/14/04 11:04:05 EST

PeteF's response is more what I was looking for when I suggested above that welding tool and die steel might be a temporary fix. Further, when you have two dissimilar ferrous metals going together like H13 and A36, of course you can weld them. However, you're dealing with a molten puddle and a recrystalization into solidus. Then, the books always talk about the "heat affected zone" adjacent to the weld, a common place for a break when stressed. Now you're going to repeatedly use the tool. And it'll hang together for a while, but I wouldn't necessarily trust it, nor would I sell such a tool to a customer.

Thomas P says there might be beaucoups literature on how to do this properly, and I think it IS done in high-tek manufacturing situations, but the methodology is probably different than stick welding or MIG welding.

This analogy may be poor, but as I pondered this, I kept thinking of repetitive stress syndrome in us humans, such as carpal-tunnel, rotator cuff, and tennis elbow.

So, given what has been said so far, I have to think that such a weld as Rugg proposes is a stopgap measure (literally and figuratively), at least in a small shop situation.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/14/04 11:24:00 EST

EC-JYH Derivitives and more: Kainaan, The EC-JYH worked but is very inefficient and does not hit very hard. The shocks absorb energy and do not give it back like a spring. They also do what they are suppost to do at high speed resulting in the ram holding still or "floating". This requires running the hammer at much less than optimum speed.

The operating characteristics are quite different than a normal power hammer. The machine starts with the dies closed due to the compressed gas they put in new shocks (I did not know this). On startup the first blow is very hard and those after have less and less force. And as mentioned, if run too fast the hammer stops striking altogether.

The only redeaming quality of this linkage is that it can compensate for a very wide range of tooling and work heights.

I have wanted to modify the EC-JYH to a combined shock and bow spring design. The bow spring to attach to the ram with the curved ends UP OR use a flat straight spring. The shocks would be spread to attach to the ends of the spring. This would give the hammer a little more "snap" and it would always hit even when the the springs were in "float" mode. It would still much less than optimum but would work better with the least modifications.

The parking brake as clutch works quite well but does not feather as a mechanical hammer clutch should. I suspect the overkill of the design is the problem.

The JYH I have been recommeding the most is the NC-JYH using a bow spring linkage like the South African JYH. The NC-JYH auto-tire to steel wheel clutch works better than any other I have seen and is very durable. The classic bow spring linkage has the advantages of the Little Giant or Dupont style toggle linkage with less parts and no coil spring to break.

The Dupont toggle linkage (he invented it) takes advantage of the infinite leverage on the toggles when they are in a straight line to allow the ram to move very fast. At the top of the stroke the leverage decreases alowing the spring to "catch" the upward flying mass of the ram and to give it back on the down stroke. On the down stroke the toggle motion is limited by the dies and work and never reaches the point where a lot of energy goes into the spring at the botom of the stroke. The result is a long fast stroke with the spring returning the energy necessary to stop the upward motion of the ram and putting it into the work. The efficiency of this system is such that mechanical hammers require 1/3 to 1/4 the horsepower of pneumatic hammers to do the same job.

For the small builder the problem is that a mechanical hammer is much more expensive to build than a hammer like the Big BLU or Phoenix due to the number of parts (bearings shafts clutches). At roughly the same cost it would be much easier to sell a mechanical hammer that used less horsepower and did not require an air compressor to run. Sadly the folks building complicated self contained hammers in low wage nations like China and Turkey don't understand this or have the engineering know-how to build a mechanical hammer. A copy of the Fairbanks hammer would cost less to make than the hammers they are making now and sell much better. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/14/04 11:34:49 EST

In my previous life of working in the injection molding business, we often welded H13 or S7 but it was primarily to build up mold blocks due to wear or breakage. We would preheat on a hot plate to the proper temp using a surface pyrometer to check, then weld with TIG and rod that was the same makeup as the parent metal. The weld was then allowed to cool at a specific rate based on manufacturer's recommendations. Since the repair had to stand up to a great amount of impact and pressure during use, we did everything possible to insure the work would hold as long as possible. Carpenter, Uddeholm and other suppliers often provide guidelines for welding that should be followed closely. However, I have also been successful in the home shop by welding H13 to mild steel to make tools. I accomplished this by using MIG with hard wire and 75/25 Argon/CO2 gas. I also clamp the pieces and preheat with a torch to 500-600 degrees before welding. Some tools have broken in use with this technique and others have lasted many years. I think much of it is related to tool design and whether any sharp corners or other stress risers exist.
   - HWooldridge - Tuesday, 12/14/04 11:39:50 EST

more tool steel welding;
thomas p, top and bottom tooling, where i want to use tool steel for the work and mild to hold the tool in place (anvil, ect..). this is not for industrial work. i have MIGed leaf spring steel to mild without any problem. the alloy tool steels are difficult to experiment with because of cost and other issues. TIG seems to be ideal because of the ability to greatly concentrate the heat. if welding a tempered tool to mild, without any additional heat treatment procedures, what is the likelihood that a failure will occur at or near the weld. i would imagine that it would depend on the application, which brings the experiment issue. i appreciate all of the input.

QC; was your comment meant to imply that a highly skilled welder can weld any tool steel?? i think that some are less difficult than others. filler flow and porosity issues is what i will be paying attention to...
   - rugg - Tuesday, 12/14/04 11:53:45 EST


Sorry about the picture quality. I had to lug my laptop and webcam out there just to get these shots. =p


The grill I put everything in is a little ghetto, but it's the heart that counts ;)

Let me know if it looks uhhh about right for a gas forge =D

   Seth - Tuesday, 12/14/04 12:04:54 EST

tool steel welding: This has been a really interesting thread! The specs on H13 say that it is weldable but I dont recall any specs on the rod. After reading posts like those from Pete F and HWoolridge I see that my welding procedures were primitive. For H13 I never bothered to pre or post heat - sometimes I forged the bit after welding sometimes before. I am much more careful with leafspring which has given me problems in the past. Nevertheless my tools have held up fine - but I doubt I put anything like the kind of wear on them that Pete does. If they do break after a few more years, why I will just reweld them. H13 is darn tough to move with a hand hammer and it will come apart if you overheat it. 30 mins of grinding and welding once every 5 years seems worth it to dodge the heavy job of hand forging a big block of this stuff. To affect the heat treat of H13 you will have to get it up to red heat so TIG welding ought to be fine. I always V the MS side of the weld and fill in with rod so that I have a solid weld right all the way thru. This puts a lot of heat into the piece but the business end doesnt show any color. Anyway, I heat treat after welding
   adam - Tuesday, 12/14/04 12:41:57 EST

Rugg, I'm not a arc welding expert; but the high alloy steels tend to autoquench in the HAZ leaving a brittle zone. The pre-heat and post heat are to deal with this. So with no further heat treat you're looking at mass of the parts---is there enough to autoquench, alloy---is it one that will quench hard if sneeze on it, how big the weld is, etc.

In general I'd hate to bet life or limb trying to get out of doing a bit of heat treat. Now if it's just time and "temper" (yours not the metal's), I might try the experiment---but then I *ALWAYS* wear safety glasses---wearing them now!

Clinker, some coals form small "ash like" clinker that is hard to pick out of the good coke, some form masses that is easy to sort. In general I find that re-used coal/coke produces a bit more clinker than fresh.

Tie Wire, I have a shirt of re-bar tie wire, the small stuff not what they use when shipping bundles of the re-bar by semi...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/14/04 12:58:06 EST

KIRT; If you just have some grooves in the circumference of the shaft, consider filling them with bronze brazing rod, then chuck the shaft up in a drill press (Appalachian vertical lathe) and turn the braze down with a file, flush with the original diameter.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 12/14/04 14:13:41 EST

Thomas P

Thanks for the follow-up on the clinker questions. Concerning the reference to "small ash like" clinkers, are you saying they may be imbedded in coke?. If I only keep the larger pieces of coke (say > 1"), will I be eliminating most of them?
   djhammerd - Tuesday, 12/14/04 14:30:20 EST

All this welding on of shanks to hot work tools brings up a couple thoughts. One is that the most useful machine for tool making is the lathe. Every serious metalworker should have a lathe in their shop. It doesn't need to be in perfect condition or have all the bells and whistles. It just needs to be able to make chips. Although almost all the tooling shown on our Flypress tooling articles is welded together from junk that is NOT the best way to make these tools. Ocassionaly I make this kind of quick and dirty tooling but if I am tooling up a new tool or machine I would MACHINE shanks on tools rather than weld up junk. It is a matter of pride in craft and quality of work. You also produce MUCH superior tools this way.

If you are going to tool up a flypress or punch press you should have a lathe at the minimum. If you are going to build die sets it can be done with a lathe and a drill press but really begs for a verticle milling machine. I also use a surface grinder a lot but these are a relatively rare and expensive machine tool.

The point here is that machines like flypresses, punch presses, arbor presses, hydraulic presses and power hammers are best applied in a shop that has the machinery to back them up with machined tooling.

Take punching on a flypress. In less time than it takes to forge punches and weld on crooked shanks one can machine a set of one piece punches of various sizes. H13 (as well as other tool steels) is available in machineable condition that can be used as-is or by simply heating the working end with a torch and letting air cool.

Big bolts are shown as shanks for many of these tools. They ARE handy as they have a precision sized shank and a nice forged or machined shoulder. One way to to use these as tool shanks is to drill or bore a hole in the center of the bolt and use that to support any punches that are smaller than the shank size. This can be done on a drill press but will be straighter and more precise when done on a lathe. Simply making a hole can do the job without welding.

Even square punches can be made by machining the shank, shoulder and the punch end round then hand grinding the punch square. Just be sure to turn the punch end to size times the square root of two (1.4142) which is the distance across corners.

Tool holders like the one I provide a detailed drawing of can be made on a lathe as small as a little 6" hobby lathe (mine was). However, I would reccommend at least an 8" or bigger lathe for the small blacksmith shop.

Then there is a matter of safety. Regardless of how long a welded tool holds up when it fails the failure could be catastrophic. Tools used under a punch press, treadle hammer or a power hammer have a huge amount of energy behind them. When a tool breaks parts of it can become shrapnel moving as fast as a bullet from a gun. If you are lucky it will miss you but if it does hit you then you may be in big trouble. We tend to protect our face, hands and sometimes chest but a shrapnel wound to the neck, groin or leg can be fatal in a few minutes.

If you are going to make tools it pays to make GOOD tools. It pays in the life of the tool, in makers pride, quality of work and in increased safety.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/14/04 14:43:56 EST

Punching Force: I posted a short chart of punching forces here yesterday. I have expanded that chart and added a calculator it is posted under math on the 21st Century page and as a special page in the Mass3j calculator.

If you have a press of any kind used for punching it is handy to make a chart of this type for that press. It is very easy to go one size too big or punch material one thickness greater than what you ahve done in the past and wreck the press of break a punch.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/14/04 15:09:21 EST

djh, it really depends on your type of clinker. With my coal I'd say that a 1/2" screen would get rid of at least 95%---unless I've been billet welding then the borax makes for substantial clinker/

Guru, Ok OK, I'm going to go out and find someone to give me a lathe...watch out for stress risers left in from transitions using a lathe..

BTW tomorrow's my birthday so if y'all have a lathe in mint condition that you would like to pay to ship to me....(didn't think so)

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/14/04 17:30:44 EST

Recently I had become interested in finding an anvil. Well after some research into my own family tree I rediscovered that 5th great grandfather and his son my 4th great grandfather owned and opperated their own Blacksmiths shop in Nelsonville, Ohio (my hometown). I began asking family members and sure enough my father remembered an old anvil in their celler as a kid. After looking around a little he found it; a Trenton 120lb. Man I can't tell you how excited this made me! Not only was I able to get my first anvil but that my first anvil has actually been a part of my family for decades. I could not be happier!

What I am trying to find out is some info on this particular anvil. The numbers stamped on the front foot are as reads:

120 220810

I assume the 120 relates to the weight (anvil weighs 119lb.on scale), but I am very curious to find out when this anvil was produced. Being that I cant find a copy of Anvils in America anywhere I was wondering if anybody could help me out?

   Jake - Tuesday, 12/14/04 19:32:10 EST

Rugg, no, it was a flippant answer with no particular hidden meaning. What may be difficult for me may be easy for a qualified welder, assuming the qualified welder understands how to calculate the carbon equivalent of the tool steel and can thus determine the appropriate pre-heat, interpass, and post-heat temperatures.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 12/14/04 20:23:58 EST


According to the serial number the Trenton anvil you have was manufactured somewhere between April of 1945 and Feb-Mar of 1947.

The Anvilfire Store carries Anvil's in America. Click on STORE on the pull down menu.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/14/04 20:27:07 EST

Parking brake clutches --

I think (actually I dug out my old Chilton's to be sure), many drum brakes have a servo action so they require less effort to apply. Typically, the front shoe is permitted to rotate slightly with the drum as it is applied. This transmits force to the back shoe through the adjuster, pushing the back shoe tighter against the drum.

It seems to me that this servo action would make it harder to feather the clutch when drum brakes are used that way. It might not be that hard to eliminate the servo effect for a differential-based power hammer. For example, welding one brake shoe to the backing plate might stop everything from moving around and make the clutch friction proportional to the force applied to actuate it.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 12/14/04 20:35:14 EST

Thanks alot Paw Paw, that a big help!

Truthfully I was hoping for it to date a little older but hey I am just glad to Keep it in my family and for it to finally get some use!
   Jake - Tuesday, 12/14/04 22:53:59 EST


The brake shoe thing is even easier to cure than that. To get around the problem of "leading shoe" brakes trying to help themselves out, you just reverse the rotation of the drum, which causes them to be "lagging shoe" brakes. Then they are less effective and easier to slip. You can also take a grinder (while wearing a GOOD respirator), and cut grooves in the shoes to reduce the bearing surface of the shoe.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/14/04 23:47:40 EST


I'm a late 40's vintage myself and believe me, some days I feel really old!
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/14/04 23:49:05 EST


The anscestoral linkage is more important than the age of the anvil. It's a treasure, and should be treated as such. Use it, by all means, but always remember it's history.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/14/04 23:49:50 EST

Lathes: Thomas, I thought your birthday was last week, or was it last month. . OR. .

In recent years I have had the oportunity to get some really decent lathes quite cheap IF I wanted them. They were big and heavy and like all old machines needed some investment. I already have two lathes that I need to finish refurbishing so I declined the offer of more new projects. But I DID drool a bit. .

Small or reasonable size lathes are the hardest to come by as they are in demand. So when they start to weigh more than a 100 pound power hammer (a few tons) they start to be more available. These are usualy 16" heavy duty models and UP. The advantage to these bigger machines is they are more rigid and can REALLY make chips. 1/4" to 1/2" wide chips are possible (reducing the diameter almost 1/2" to 1" in a single pass).

Sharp corners on shanks do make stress points HOWEVER, having the combination of square flat shoulders and a proper fitting shank distributes the load by mating to the related surfaces much better than a hodge podge weldment. Where the size is reduced at the working end this should be done with tapers and large radii to reduce stress in exposed areas. Making a tool from one piece has many advantages as well.

At the turn of the 20th century it was standard practice for machinists to forge and heat treat their high carbon steel bits. So every machine shop had a forge and anvil and those guys had to know how to FORGE. When High Speed Steel was developed it required a very sophisticated heat treatment so tool holders replaced the big forged bits and the forge dissapeared from the machine shop. In a turnabout the last machine job I did needed a special tool holder so I forged one to hold two small HSS bits. Having both skills is a great advantage.

The Lathe has long been known as the King of Machine Tools. When you put one in a blacksmith shop that can make almost any rough shape as forging or weldment you have a VERY powerful combination.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 01:48:02 EST

Thomas; Happy Birthday O Pointy-Hatted One !! Gee, do ya s'pose I could pass my excess Craftsman/Atlas 10x42 lathe off as carry-on luggage the next time I come to ABQ ?
   3dogs - Wednesday, 12/15/04 02:16:45 EST

Alas Multipooch, they have started putting a weight limit on carry on's. Well do I remember the days when I used to fill the blasted thing with scrap to avoid the excess weight surcharge on checked luggage. Nowdays with the weight limit and security it's hardly worth it anymore.

I would not argue the value of one piece construction of a tool, I just wanted to remind folks that just because you *can* make a sharp internal corner doesn't mean you should---even if it is easier! My "Things break" MatSci course had example after example of items where the catastrophic failure started at a nice sharp transition that should have been a smooth fillet.

I need to make a tool holder for my screw press and using a lathe is the *proper*, easier and faster way to go---one reason I have been cultivating the MatSci department over at Tech...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/15/04 11:40:47 EST

Funny the Guru should be talking about lathes in the blacksmith shop. I just used my Logan yesterday to turn another candle cup punch for my flypress. I made it from a piece of 1 1/4" CR since it will mostly be used on cold work. This one is to fold and form a petal like candle cup for a taper candle. I cut the basic cruciform cup shape from 18 ga. heat it and preform four curved petals into a swage block then roll out the top edges of the petals. After the basicly flat part is cooled I form up the cup by punching into a polyurethane block on the flypress to form the candle cup with its overlapping petal shape.

I always turn a shoulder on tooling like this so it bears against the bottom of the ram and can't mushroom in the tool holding hole. For those who don't have a lathe you can always place a clamp on shaft collar over the proper size steel shafting for your press and then tack or pin it in place to create a shoulder.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 12/15/04 11:48:40 EST

Blacksmithing in Machine shops.
On CBC TV we have these little one or two minute clips called "Heritage Moments". The latest one I've seen is one on Bombadier. One shot shows Bombadier walking through his then small factory, in the background is someone running a machine lathe, sparks coming off of a grinder, he then walks past a flaming forge. All done better than I have explained.
   JimG - Wednesday, 12/15/04 11:58:15 EST

Modern Blacksmith Shop: Many blacksmiths have quite modern shops when it comes to flame cutting and welding. They have computer guided plasma cutting tables and fancy MIG/TIG machines that would make many welders jealous. They will also have power hammers and vibratory finishers. They are heavily mechanized but rarely think about a lathe.

Blacksmith shop lathe tasks:
  • Machining precision tennons (individualy or in production)
  • Cutting circular blanks (friction driven)
  • Twisting small stock and wire
  • Machining special studs and rivets
  • Making lock and gun parts
  • Toolmaking including punches and dies, vise threads.
  • Repairs including bushings and shafts for other machinery.
My friend Josh Greenwood had a job making nearly a mile of railing that was to be standard joinery using tennon joints on all the pickets. This required some 10,000 pickets and 20,000 tennons all identical. Although he could forge the tennons quite well he needed to put this job on other less skilled workers. I setup an old lathe he had with a 4 jaw scroll chuck and showed him how a 1/2" tennon on 3/4" square could be machined in one pass in about 30 seconds from picking up the bar to removing it from the lathe. The advantages of machining the tennons were precision size, square corners, equal length between shoulders and it was faster than forging and a worker with 15 minutes training could make them. 57,000 pounds of pickets! Saved his hide.

Those of you that have visited Bill Epps shop when he was in Texas saw that besides two power hammers he had a lathe and a milling machine. If you have seen Donald Streeter's book Professional Smithing he was using an arbor press for various purposes. And even though he was trying to show that the smith could make his own punches and dies by hand (you can) he had a machine shop seperate from his blacksmith shop that had lathes and milling machines. Anyone that visited the old Williamsburg blacksmith shop before Peter Ross would have noticed that any time they needed a hole drilled the smith would dissapear into the back and you could hear the whirring of a small motor. . . Today they have a purely 18th century shop but they also have a seperate shop with a power hammer and various modern machine tools. If you look at the many blacksmith shop photos on the Gill Fahrenwald calendars you will see machines of all types in the background. Even before the engine lathe became the flexible tool that it is today it had a place in almost every sizable shop since the 18th century.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 13:17:08 EST

guru, i remember you posting something very similar in the past...true??(above). i do have access to a lathe and just bought a chuck for the tail stock. if i stumble (low cost) on a vert mill, it will be hard not to get it. i dont need accu rite (a thousand $ option)....
   - rugg - Wednesday, 12/15/04 13:46:10 EST

Rugg, yes that is a TRUE story. 25 tons of picketts! It was one of those vastly underestimated jobs. The fence surrounds the headquarters of the Virginia Garden Clubs in Petersburg, VA and runs up and down hills and along old stone walls.

More Lathe Tasks: One of the more interesting uses I have put a lathe to was flame cutting. The carriage speed of a lathe set to a fairly fast feed like for making a coarse thread is the right speed for feeding a cutting torch in heavy plate. We made a simple arm with a clamp that held a machine torch (can also use a standard torch) about 2 feet behind the lathe. The arm dropped down to the height of some steel stock supports. Because I had a bunch of odd plate to cut up (drops and skeletons) I purchased a seperate oxygen valve and put on the lathe end of the support arm. This only works with machine torches. One small lathes I have seen this setup with the torch clamped directly in the tool post.

Operation was simple. The torch was lined up to the work and the work aligned to the travel of the lathe. The torch lit, moved to the edge of the work via the lathe carriage, when the preheat was done the cutting oxygen turned on and feed engaged. The result was perfect smooth machine cuts in 1" plate several feet long.

A few hours cutting up scrap was used to build a big test stand used to load test lifting fixtures to 50 tons. Using the flame cut plate flanges it was all bolted together so that it would break down easily.

Turning scrap plate drops into nice staight plates and bars with a lathe!

Another use is drilling holes like a drill press. In this case the drill bit is put in the spindle and the work supported by a drilling plate held in the tool post or a boring table bolted to the carriage. Both of these tools are usualy shop made and can be fabricated from plate (cut with the lathe?). Drilling horizontaly on a lathe carriage is not as convienent as a drill press but it works. The last time I used a drilling plate it was to chamfer holes in a bunch of small parts that could be hand held. The reason for using the lathe when I had two drill presses and a big Milwaukee was that they were all busy at the time!

Ever have that ocassion to be doing a bunch of drill press operations and needing two? Your lathe can fill-in in a pinch.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 14:30:42 EST

Quick Question: What would be an ideal rate of time for my gas forge to come up to heat and how long should it take me to bring sayyy a 1/2in mild steel rod up to about an orange yellow?

For me so far, at 5 pounds pressure it takes maybe 5 minutes to bring up to what I think is a good heat and when I put the rod in that it takes maybe 2 minutes for the first heat to bring it to a really bright orange. After pulling it out and banging it a few times i just stick it in for maybe 30 seconds to get it back to that bright orange.
   Seth - Wednesday, 12/15/04 14:34:01 EST

Seth, Most gas forges take 15 minutes to half an hour to get to maximum heat. In a very hot forge it is important to let the piece soak long enough to get a penetrating heat before forging. In a hot fast forge it is easy to get a superficial surface heat that leaves the piece hard to forge. Give that first heat time to soak through and you will find the work easier and less subsequent heats needed.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 15:23:48 EST

According to the BusinessWeek website; the cost of Chinese factory labor is only 64 cents an hour, including wages and employer contributions for benefits and social insurance. In the U.S., hourly factory compensation in 2002 averaged out to $21.11 and the average for 30 other countries tracked by the BLS was $14.22.

Try to beat that. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 15:25:24 EST


I live in a rural area and occasionally get farm repair work so my lathe and mill come in handy when something needs to be machined to size. One day a guy came in to have a shredder repaired and during conversation he started talking about being in a club that shot very old 22 target rifles. These guys had recently bought some old guns without sights but could no longer find the proper sights and no one wanted to make seven sets of mounts. Aftermarket sights could be used but both height and screw hole spacing were wrong. I gave him a price and he made a few phone calls to see if everyone agreed. A week later, I delivered the mounts for both front and back sights, finished and blued. It was not cheap but I didn't screw them and they went home happy. I did all of the work on a vertical mill in about 8 hours time.
   - HWooldridge - Wednesday, 12/15/04 16:13:35 EST


Jock, I have a feeling that the project I'm currently working on will wind up netting me something just under what an industrious Chinese worker makes. Prototype work is never financially rewarding on the front end. :-(
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/15/04 16:23:10 EST

The "ideal" would be instaneous---no gas wasted! What's common is different. Gas forges vary quite a lot depending on how they are made. A poured refractory forge will take quite some time to come up to temp as you have to heat all that refractory up; but then it acts as a buffer keeping the temp of the forge fairly constant as you throw stock in and out of it. This type of forge is often used on a semi commercial basis.

A lightweight refractory forge, like a typical kaowool forge comes up to temp pretty fast but if you load a lot of cold metal in it it drops temp pretty fast as well.

Welding billets I have learned the value of a good soak before the first welding run. (In a coal forge I get it good and hot and then *turn* *off* the air and then let the billet soak in a reducing atmosphere as I go get a drink of water, micurate, or other task to keep me away from the forge until the piece has time to come up to temp.

So Guru, are you saying that for drilling a tool holder for my flypress I shouldn't chuck a 1" drill into my hand drill and hold it under the ram in my flypress and give it a good spin?

Carb overload after my birthday lunch at the local mom&pop mexican place---where they make everything from scratch! (this years green chile crop is softening my bridges nicely!)

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/15/04 16:33:23 EST

A good SPIN. . . When I was about 12 years old and only weighed 65 pounds I was drilling a big 1" hole in the solid laminated fur body of my soap box racer. I was using one of those flat spade bits in my Dad's 3/8" electric drill. When the hole was about 5" deep the bit hung, a moment later my feet were off the ground and I was spinning wildly attop the big old drill. Not until the cord finished winding up and unpluged itself did I stop spinning. . . I took the rest of the day off. This incident slightly bent the spindle of that drill which reminded me of that day every time I used it for the next 20 years. I learned to respect even hand held tools.

Today I have a huge old B&D hammer drill that probably has ten times the torque of that old hand drill. I am always VERY careful how I grip it and always try to be ready to release and jump out of the way. It WILL break your arm or leg. I do not need it very often and I am glad of it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 17:24:18 EST

GURU I have a Logan Lathe that is taking up space in my shop and I was about to practically "give it away" to get it out from under foot, but you struck a chord wit what you posted and I may reconsider. It has a few teeth out of the back gear in two locations, but is otherwise okay. Is this a serious defect or easily cureable?
   - J. Myers - Wednesday, 12/15/04 17:31:07 EST

Broken back Gears: John, This is a very common break and an expensive repair as the gears are all special parts. However, for 90% of what you do in a lathe the standard speeds above back gear will do. Back gear is needed for very large diameter work. Almost anything that will fit over the carriage will be machined in straight gear. Things that may be out of range are large facing jobs or machining tool and stainles steels. But you would be surprised at what you can get away with using carbide tooling.

When you use straight gear only be sure the motor and drive is setup for the correct speeds for the machine. I have seen (and have) old lathes where the outboard cone pulley is missing. In this case the machine is setup to run at a low speed with the belt on the biggest or next to biggest spindle pulley. Running slow you can do small jobs but running fast you cannot do big jobs. If your lathe has the original pulley and drive you have 4 speeds that give you quite a range of work.

When machines are "just taking up space" it usualy means that they are not setup or are missing all the bits and pieces to be useable. If you take some time to get it in operation, tool it up a bit and learn to use it then it will stop "taking up space". A handy starter book on using a Lathe is the old Southbend "How to Run a Lathe". It is available from Southbend and as a reprint from Lindsey I think.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 18:00:36 EST

J.Myers that missing tooth or two makes the lathe totally worthless in fact you should pay me to haul it off---where do you live?

Scott Logan himself used to post on the rec.crafts.metalworking newsgroup and might be able to put you onto some replacement parts; it's still very useful---as long as you don't need that gear! If you are good at machine rebuilding there are several ways to repair a missing tooth, the cost of getting a new one will be great unless it's a match for one that's an easily found industry standard.

Thomas---got friends with lathes
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/15/04 18:03:35 EST

Logan parts are still available. The supplier advertises in Home Shop Machinist but I cannot recall the name. In addition, many gears are standard from Browning Gear. I broke a gear in the saddle of my Sheldon and eventually found an OEM replacement for $250. Not having the coin, I went to the local Browning dealer and got the same gear for $35. A keyway needed to be cut in the bore but apart from that mod, nothing had to be done and it has served well for many years.
   - HWooldridge - Wednesday, 12/15/04 18:16:21 EST

Worked around literely thousands of lathes. 1905 lathes still working. Gisholt # 6 turret lathes that could swing a 24" valve body. 200" swing by 50' center lathe. CNC precision lathes with live tooling and a 50 tool changer. Loved them all. Have scrapped maybe 50 lathes, but all were huge, so after all that I still lust after a reasonable sized, usable lathe:(
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/15/04 18:43:35 EST

Last call on the slack tub pub (and others) tong exchange. Deadline is tonight. To get in on this send me your snail mail address via email jmg@sasktel.net by Dec 15th. I will draw names and let you know who to send your pair of tongs too. I will NOT let you know who your getting your tongs from so it will be a suprise. Getting too close to the Christmas rush so 3 Kings Day (Jan 6th)will be the day you have to have yours tongs mailed by.
Merry Christmas
   JimG - Wednesday, 12/15/04 18:54:31 EST

Logan Lathe parts are available from the company that used to manufacture the lathes. It is called the Logan Actuator Company now. They still have or will make any part you need. I recently got a very reasonably priced shaft for my quick change box from them.

Reach them at loganact.com or call them at 815-943-9500
   SGensh - Wednesday, 12/15/04 19:24:33 EST

Repairing Back gears: If they are available as replacement parts they will be cheaper than a fix. The pair that always breaks is the one with the high reduction. That is the Bull gear. In your lathe this gear runs on a bronze bushing and has a slot in it with a mechanism to engage and disengage it from the step pulley. The pinion that runs against it is part of a two gear and shaft casting. This is all one piece. It IS possible to machine off the pinion gear and press on a gear special machined to fit. Due to the high loading it should also be keyed or pined. This is all machining that can be done on the lathe but it calls for very tight tolerances.

Many lathe gears are stock gears or very close such as sold by Browing and Boston Gear but back gears are not. Change gears (the ones in the end of the lathe) are all standards including the coupling bushings. The only change gears that are real odd-ball are those for converting from chasing English to metric threads. . . Most of those are special to the lathe IF available and IF the lathe was designed for such conversion.

The bull gear in my little Craftsman lathe has 60 holes drilled in it and a pin the engages the holes. This can be used like a dividing head. I've used it to mark shop made micrometer barrels and special adjusting wrenches.

I have a replacement set of stock gears to replace the back gears on one of my drill presses. In 1984 they cost $275 and will require about a week's worth of machine time to modify them to fit. It is one of those "when I have time and nothing else to do projects. . ." OR a "I've got money and can PAY someone else jobs".

On the old geared head drill presses the back gears are commonly broken by bearing wear. When disengaged the clearance is very low. As the top shaft bearings wear and the shaft drops the gears mesh on their own. Being in straight drive and engaging the gears locks up the machine OR if anything is moving breaks the gears. Part of the repair process on these old drill presses is to babbit the top shaft to restore the gear centers. The trick here is that you are dealing with vertical and horizontal alignment of gears which means +/-.002" or better to run right. To set the distance from the back shaft a pair of spacer arms must be used. Then the vertical height is set using shim stock at the bevel gears. This is NOT like rebabbiting a Little Giant. . .

On lathes the back gears get broken by someone carelessly shifting the gears while the spindle is turning.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 19:31:37 EST

Hey guys! Got a problem. I've been trying to draw out a rail road spike to make it into a knife. I got it up to a yellowish orange and left it to soak in the heat for a good 10 minutes. When I pulled it out and tried to use a wedge and hammer to draw it out the way I read in a book, nothing seemed to happen at all. Every hit barely made a dent. Any tips or ideas of what I may be doing wrong? Thanks for your help in advance!
   Seth - Wednesday, 12/15/04 20:06:04 EST

Wedge? Seth, are you saying that you are using a wood splitting wedge as an anvil? If this is the case that is the problem. An good anvil is normally 50 times heavier than the hammer you are using. If you are using a 2 pound hammer then that means a 100 pound anvil.

In primitive situations large sledge hammer heads are used as an anvil. These weigh about 15 to 20 pounds with the largest made being 25 pounds. These are sunk into a heavy wood stump which in turn is set into the Earth. That gives you an anvil of 10:1 that is very well supported.

Bigger anvil, possibly bigger hammer and hit it harder. Even then it is a lot of work to forge a spike into a blade, especially if it is high carbon steel (marked HC on the head).

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/15/04 20:42:41 EST

hi ! i have a pair of fireplace door to make for a steel cabinet fireplace.i want to use 1"x1/4" flat bar to make the frame,larger parts side my face and a piece of tempered glass wil be in the center.both doors are about 19" x 16"and fixed to the fireplace by some hinges.
i'm afraid by making theese doors that the heat will disturb the steel and break the glass.what do you think about that ???
   machefer - Wednesday, 12/15/04 22:20:17 EST

Chinese wages-- judging by the tools I have owned from there, 64 cents an hour is damned generous. Almost pure garbage across the board. We should have nothing to fear from a nation that can't make a drill press that the chuck doesn't fall out of. On the other hand, to be fair, I have an Armitron watch that says Japan on the outside, but China on the inside which is just incredibly accurate. Go figure.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 12/15/04 22:35:24 EST

Ah..well...not exactly. I found this weird metal thing that might be some sort of clamp (missing the rod to turn it) but it's got a nice but small flat part and a rounded nose that sticks out from it. It weighs maybe 30 pounds which I know isn't enough, but I dont have the money right now to get a good anvil. The knife was gonna be a christmas gift, but maybe i'm just gonna have to stick with something easier =/
   Seth - Thursday, 12/16/04 00:39:50 EST

Oh and the wedge ended up being the sharp end of another railroad spike! Haha. Yeah I dont have many tools yet.
   Seth - Thursday, 12/16/04 00:42:02 EST

I have a small wedge shaped steel item that I inherited from my late father. I thought it might be some type of forming tool for working metal. I would like to identify the item.I have posted three views of the tool as DSCN 3046,48,& 50

Any help would be greatly appreciated


John Pershina
   John Pershina - Thursday, 12/16/04 01:49:24 EST

Foreign Manufacturers
I want to point out that "stuff" made in China, India, etc is not all junk. When I was with Timken we had bearing factories in both countries and the product produced was made to US standards of accecbility for use in all types of applications. What I found was that if you tell someone what you want and how you want it made, the quality there can be just as good as the quality from domestic production. Clearly that is not the case in every situation, especially for stuff aimed at the average consumer, like the bench top drill that I have. On the other hand, if a company like Timken is willing to invest time and resources in setting up operations overseas, they can get a very good return on their investment.

   Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 12/16/04 08:28:48 EST

I just purchased a small (1 ton) arbor press to see if I could adapt it to compressing hot rivets. Does anybody use an arbor press for this? I'd be interested to know how you've adapted your tools to the anvil on the press.

   Rob Miller - Thursday, 12/16/04 10:02:16 EST

I'm looking for a method of cutting shapes in thin (1/8" to 1/4") mild steel sheets. Cutting with a torch is difficult, as the cut closes itself up, and time consuming to clean up the edges of the cut. What do I need? Can somebody recommend a good metal cutting scrollsaw that will accomplish such a task effectively?

Happy holidays,
   Rob Miller - Thursday, 12/16/04 10:04:57 EST

Cutting Sheet Stock: Rob, This is a job for a plasma torch. For that capacity they can be had for about $1500. The DO however require a small air compressor OR a cylinder of nitrogen or argon. You can get a small air compressor cheaper than the gas or get a larger air compressor to run a power hammer as well.

You CAN cut plate with a band saw but it takes a slow METAL cutting band saw (not a wood saw). Everything on a metal cutting bandsaw must be heavier in order to take the higher feed pressures and metal chips. AND THAT brings up the crux of the sawing problem. It takes serious feed pressure to band saw metal. Most metal cutting bandsaws have some sort of feed assist that works great for straight lines or slight curves but is difficult to use for complex sawing.

Note that the tightness of the curve you can saw is restricted by the width of the blade and thickeness of the kerf which is determined by the set of the teeth. When cutting thin stock you should have at least 3 teeth on the work at all times. THIS limits the tooth size and its set and thus the kerf which limits the tightness of the curve. It is NOT like cutting wood where the blade travels a mile a minute and teeth can be spaced twice the material thickness.

All the above means that sawing metal shapes is slow and difficult. If you are trying to compete or duplicate the silhouettes folks are cutting then sawing is not the way. Almost all of these are cut with a pasma torch and the majority doing a LOT of it are using computer guided cutting tables. Draw it in the computer and let the machine do the work.

Alternately you can practice and learn to use your oxy-acetylene torch better. This thickness stocks you mention CAN be cut clean with the proper tip and practice. Alternatly the little Hen-Rob torch does this kind of work with a smaller kerf than plasma and just as clean. They are also cheaper than a plasma outfit.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/16/04 10:30:09 EST

Glass and Metal: Machefer, The glass must have room to expand and contract as well as being supported continously. Normally in fireplace doors the glass is supported in sheet metal channels that spring around the the glass to hold it snugly but still alow room to float. I would want 1-/8" to 1/4" in two directions in small pieces of glass. You will note that most commercial glass enclosures use 4 panels for a small fireplace and limit the height.

The continous sheet metal rails also distribute the load on the glass so that there is no concentrated load that can crack or break the glass. The springy edges of the channels which are slightly turned in against the glass also hold it so that it cannot rattle. That chamfered effect is not just for looks.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/16/04 10:41:56 EST

What ever you do don't give up for lack of tools. The great thing about being a blacksmith is that we not only can build tools for every other trade, we build our own. Making your own tools is good training.
An anvil doesn't have to look like what we think an anvil is. Just keep your eyes open for bigger and better chunks of iron to use. All an anvil needs to be is something with enough mass and is hard enough to withstand having hot iron hit on it (that said I'm not giving up my mousehole)
But blacksmithing is not easy, it takes practice, practice and more practice. Just cause it doesn't work the first (or thirty first) time keep trying till you find a way to make it work.
   JimG - Thursday, 12/16/04 11:04:05 EST

Rob, how many do you want done? Have you thought of having them laser or waterjet cut or CNC plasma cut? A small shop might quote you a price for a short run and you won't have to buy the equipment yourself.

You can cut sheetmetal with a scroll saw but it takes a lot of time and is NOISY. Getting good blades and paying attention to the at least 3 teeth on the work can help with blade breakage; but really if you are doing more than a couple of these things you will want a better way of doing it and if you just want a couple spend the money having it done for you rather than buying the scroll saw.

Seth; what general area you at? If you are near central NM have a parent drive you down to my smithy and you can do that spike knife in an afternoon.

A couple of questions: how big a hammer were you using? How was the 30# piece set up? Does it bounce around while you are hammering on it? You should be able to pound out a spike using a chunk of RR rail that size and a 2# hammer; but it's a whole lot easier with a lot of mass under the piece.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/16/04 12:02:32 EST

Thanks for the responses. I live in Fort Worth, Texas so that would be a trip =p. The 30# piece is just set on my concrete slab drive way. It has a good sturdy base so it doesn't move anywhere. The hammer I believe is 2#. When I hit the spike I make sure I have a good grip on it with a pair of pliers so it doesn't seem to bounce around that much. Maybe if I turn up the gas pressure I can get it hotter and make it a little more workable. How does that sound?
   Seth - Thursday, 12/16/04 12:31:57 EST

Chinese wages: Americans make junk too - I have in my shop an American made hammer that is far inferior to any Harbor Freight hammer and cost 10x as much.

Seth: a knife is not a beginners project even from mild steel. I suggest making decorative hooks with twists and so on. These are always popular and make a good early project. Go by a scrap yard and see if you can find a piece of heavy shafting or similar for an anvil. Also if there is a RR yard near you a piece of track will be much better than what you are using. Pliers are next to worthless for forging they just dont have the leverage for a good grip. Try a pair of vise grips.
   adam - Thursday, 12/16/04 12:56:31 EST

machefer, You might also think about installing high silica "gasket rope" material so that it sandwiches between the stove and the door frames when the doors are closed.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/16/04 12:59:38 EST

Riveting in a Press: Hmmm, again, a 1 ton press is not much. The little rivets this will upset will cool so fast that they will need to be heated in place.

Looking for riveting force chart. . Its not in MACHINERY'S old or new, not in the AISC Steel Construction Manual, not in Metalwork technology and Practice, not in ASM Forging Manual, not in the Industrial Fasteners Institute Fastener Standards. . . YES, we ocassionaly REALLY do research here. . .

The Handbook of Fastening and Joining of Metal Parts says that cold riveting can be done using a press but has no details on forces. LOTS of engineering data and is the ONLY place I have seen that metioned refrigerating aluminium rivets! Until the next book. . .

The ASTE Tool Engineers Handbook, 1949 states that annealed aluminium rivets held a -50°F are good for 2 weeks while those held at 32°F are only good for 36 hours. Note that most standard freezers are good for -40°F which is required to keep ice creame from crystalizing. All these details and no force to head rating information (more detail than the fastener manual).

AH. . Marks' Mechanical Engineers Handbook Sixth Edition, 1958, Rivets, Pressure in driving, 8-41 (STEEL).
+150,000 PSI Hot
300,000 PSI Cold
There is a note that at above 225,000 to 270,000 PSI there is a tendance to crack the plate being riveted. Lets look at a few rivets of common shop size.

Area = PI * r²
3/16" dia. = .0276 sq/in. * 150Kips =   4,142 pounds force
  1/4" dia. = .0491 sq/in. * 150Kips =   7,365 pounds force
5/16" dia. = .0767 sq/in. * 150Kips = 11,505 pounds force
   3/8" dia. = .1104 sq/in. * 150Kips = 16,567 pounds force
   1/2" dia. = .1963 sq/in. * 150Kips = 29,452 pounds force
SO, we are starting out with 2 tons to hot head a 3/16" rivet and need 15 tons for a 1/2". A couple smaller sizes for your press.
3/32" dia. = .0069 sq/in. * 150Kips = 1,035 pounds force
  1/8" dia. = .0123 sq/in. * 150Kips = 1,841 pounds force
SO you can properly use these small rivits in your press hot. In a press double that capacity you could cold head the same rivets. Note that in cold heading a modified conical head is used not a full round head.


1) Even the largest do not compare to small fly presses or hydraulic presses in force. At their maximum rating they require a LOT of input force and may be uncomfortable to use.

2) They are almost as slow as a hydraulic press on the return operation. However, they are quick on the down stroke.

3) They do not have a rigidly guided ram and the long length makes the problem worse.

4) The end of the ram is flat and not designed for holding tools. It is a push only device. To hold tools on the ram it must be modified or have an adaptor fitted.

For punching with a press see my post earlier in the week or the chart now posted under FAQs Punching Force

Arbor presses are handy tools for what they were designed for (light duty pressing of long fits and small broaching). However, for heavy press fits of permanent assemblies they are generally way under rated, ESPECIALY for dissasembly work where fits are frozen.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/16/04 13:03:15 EST

Time for a new chart. Especially since no one publishes one. We will be the first. . or at least the easiest to find.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/16/04 13:15:16 EST

Thanks, guys.

ARBOR PRESS: Looks like I would do well to simply return this arbor press and hope for a fly press at some future time that I can better afford it. Or maybe I'll keep it for small stuff. I suppose it could be a handy tool for some things.

CUTTING PLATE STEEL: I'll check the tip I'm using. I might be able to do a cleaner job with a smaller tip. I don't have more than a couple at present, but a couple of smaller tip sizes will be cheaper than a plasma cutter.

   Rob Miller - Thursday, 12/16/04 14:35:44 EST

A ton sounds like a lot of force until you start working metal. The popular little Whitney #5 Jr. hand punch that many of us have is a 1 ton tool. The largest punch that fits it is a 9/32". The thickest steel this will punch at this size is .040" and that is puching it a little. You can feel the frame flex at that level. 3/16 in 16ga is also just above the limit of the tool but it will do it. At 3/16" the max thickness should be .050".

For sheet metal workers this range is just fine because HEAVY metal to them is .032". The #5 Jr. will punch its largest hole in stainless steel up to that thickness. But for blacksmiths .032" is about as thin as we work. Double that is best and that puts a 1 ton punch into the limited use range.

I have a little 4 ton punch press that is very handy because it will punch a 9/32" (1/4" clearance hole) in up to 1/8" material. We used to bolt together a lot of machinery covers that had 1/8" thick frames and 16 ga covers. Any holes we could get to were punched quickly and cleanly. but it would be very easy to overload this setup and possibly wrech the machine by trying to punch through 3/16". . . So it pays to know what your press can do. Run the calculations, check our charts, dig out MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK if needed.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/16/04 16:55:52 EST

Hello Everybody

I found an archive post on hammer dressing (May 26-31 03) but I am not quite getting the picture of what to do from it. Is there another place to look for information on this on your site?

Aaron Cissell
   Aaron Cissell - Thursday, 12/16/04 17:46:37 EST


You will probably need some help with that Spike knife project. Go to one of the many links, find an artist blacksmith association, (Texas is full of them)and ask for a list of meetings within driving distance. I can guarantee you will find plenty of people to talk to and they will help you get started, find some good tools for a reasonable price and teach you the techniques you need to make many of your own tools. This site has a wealth of information; access it. Also, look at the posts between Guru, Gator and me on 12-6-04. Does this sound like you?
if so, you'll be welcome anywhere.

Ron C
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 12/16/04 17:54:42 EST

Interesting that the subject of Whitney #5 Junior should come up, as I was just using mine the last couple of days to punch some holes in 14 ga galvanized sheet. 1/4" holes is what I was punching, and the punch frame was definitely flexing. It actually had me worried that I something might suddenly let go and then my fingers would get mashed between the handles. It didn't ahppen, but it is always a likelyhood when you overstress a tool. Had I had any other good way to make those particular holes, I would have. The ones that could be drilled, were. Now I want a bigger Whitney punch. Want, want, want. I guess I should just get a flypress, but nobody is offering free delivery. :-)
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/16/04 18:32:57 EST

Hammer Dressing: Aaron, I have been intending to do an article on hammer dressing but have not gotten to it. I have a few photos but need to purchase some new hammers and some beat up ones for BEFORE images. Then step by step. Last spring we went through the whole shop and dressed every hammer so all my "befores" are gone.

What is important is that your hammer have no sharp edges. Many new European hammers are rough dressed and cannot be used as is. Many of the cheep Chinese hammers are not chamfered at all and are completely useless as-is. However, the European hammers are generaly well chamfered. If you convert those chamfers to a radius that uses up all the chamfer (so the flat is gone) then you will be close enough.

Most of these hammers come with fairly flat faces as some smiths like a flat face. However, a well crowned face moves metal faster and is easier to make a square blow to a punch or chisel. How much crown is a matter of preference but stock hammers used to come with considerable crown. On top quality American made hammers is was carefully machined. On a large 3 pound (1400 g) hammer the crown may be as much as 1/4" if the hammer had no chamfer and 1/8" between chamfers. If you look at good old cross peen hammers and sledges you will see an ideal general purpose face. These hammers have the corners forged down and a 45° chamfer that makes a round face where the crown starts. I like this shape and on a really rough hammer will grind to a copy of a factory face then lightly radius the area where the crown and chamfer meet.

However, as I mentioned many smiths like a flatter face especialy on square faced hammers. These allow you to forge into corners and along edges without spreading the stock a great deal. Hammers of this type like the Swedish hammer and the Hofi hammer have a "rocker" face that is curved in one direction, not sphericaly crowned. When dressing these the edges are carefully blended into the body to at least a 1/8" radius on an average size hammer. The radii run along the edges and are then blended into a semi spherical shape at the corners. The best dressing is actually eliptical blending from the curve of the face into the tighter edge radius in one smooth curve.

A part of the hammer often overlooked is the peen. On most hammers these have a nice radius but the sides have sharp corners. A peen with a slight curve or crown in the center that is then blended into radiused edges works well. Dress the corners to taste but always round them some.

If you look at a good carpenter's hammer you will see the proper use of crown. Extend this same curvature across the entire face of your hammer. Also remember the scale of the hammer. A small hammer will be proportionaly smaller in all aspects and a larger hammer proportionaly larger in all aspects.

On hammers that need a light dressing and just the corners rounded I use a belt sander. This leaves a smooth finish. If a hammer needs heavy dressing to repair or true I will use an angle grinder untill most of the work is done and then change to a belt sander. Small bench grinders are not suitable for dressing hammers. The hard wheels are prone to breaking if something heavy bounces against them. The general rule is to never grind anything that weighs as much or more than the wheel.

Hand grinding ANYTHING is an art. You have to look at what you are doing and THINK about it. You cannot see the curvature looking down on the face while grinding on it. So you have to grind gently, then LOOK at the hammer from the sides, FEEL the curvature and slowly sneek up on where you are going. Some people have no sense of shape or feel for grinding and should not attempt this on a good tool until they have practiced on some junk. If you are REALLY unsure of yourself then make some radius templates from sheet metal or heavy brass shim stock and use them to check your work.

With years of use and practice smiths learn their preferences. Often the smith wears one edge or the other on his hammer resulting in a sloped face. New hammers are often ground to this slope that the smith is used to. That way the new hammer feels right and doesn't need a lot of break in. I am not that particular and I generaly try to dress back to true. It is also good to be aware of this on old used hammers as the face may need considerable grinding just to get back to true before dessing to YOUR preference.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/16/04 19:01:44 EST

Guru, thank you very much for all the help.all considerd the shock absorber will be changed back to the drawing board. Goodness to all!!!
   kainaan - Thursday, 12/16/04 19:33:14 EST

Thanks Guru

That filled in the big holes I was getting form the archive. Now that I have an idea as to what the radius looks like I am much better off. Shaping on a sander or with a grinder has always been easy for me but only if I have a picture in my head of what needed to be done and the big ball pien I was seeing from this square cross pien just wouldn’t leave my head.

Thanks Again
Aaron Cissell
   Aaron Cissell - Thursday, 12/16/04 19:37:57 EST

VIc, you were way out of range on your #5 Jr. Hmmm, I see that they are rated 1.2 tons. I will have to stencil that on the box! The next size up punches are 3 and 5 tons. Not sure what mine is, 3 I think. I'll have to find my old catalog since they don't make it any more.

Odd, the Roper-Whitney site has a punching tonage chart on their site. About the same range as mine but there tonnage is about 25% to 30% lower than mine. The ODD thing is I have been using the formula from THEIR old catalog for YEARS and it has always seemed right in practice. I wonder if they are under rating the needed force to sell tools. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/16/04 19:42:01 EST

thanks for answer about fireplace doors !!
   machefer - Thursday, 12/16/04 20:39:01 EST

hi everybody ! a tooling question here : i see very often some old torch in flea market. it look like this: the base is a kind of round can and the top look like a round horizontal burner backed by a valve.what i want to know is if it can heat enough to heat to red a 3/16 or 1/4 round or square steel rod in short time to make collar .if yes i see in old book that you use gasoline (same used in car)in that torch/burner,is it exact ? thank a lot !!!!!
   machefer - Thursday, 12/16/04 21:05:56 EST

In the old part of the boiler shop at the old plant was the worlds largest riveter. Installed around 1923 I think. had a 100ton crane to lift a boiler drum up and then drop down over the mandrel. Had about a 60
   - ptree - Thursday, 12/16/04 22:13:34 EST

In the old part of the boiler shop at the old plant was the worlds largest riveter. Installed around 1923 I think. had a 100ton crane to lift a boiler drum up and then drop down over the mandrel. Had about a 60" hydraulic ram, run on high pressure water. would head a 2 or 3" diameter rivit as I remember. The machine was about 60' tall with the mandrel, and the 100 ton crane was in a very tall shed over the thing. The owner of the company when I started there told me that as a young man he had bought the thing, and the company then switched to electric welding. Iy was finally scrapped out in 1995 after he passed away. He told me that when he had a hard decision to make, he went out and stood next to that monster, and thought long and hard.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/16/04 22:15:28 EST


BAD idea. Those old blow torches have been known to explode, leak gas all over the operators hand until the gas ignited, and sundry other dangerous problems. I've got my grandfathers out in my shop, in perfect condition. Before I let ANYONE use it, I'll punch a hole in the bottom.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 12/16/04 22:21:25 EST

those old gas torchs were only intended to heat soldering irons. Beutiful when polished and put up on a shelf. Not much good for anything else
   ptree - Thursday, 12/16/04 22:29:42 EST

MACHEFER'S BLOWTORCH: Polish it up, put a coat of clear urethane on it and make a spiffy lamp out of it. Unless, of course you are an arsonist, looking to get rid of a perfectly good shop.
   3dogs - Friday, 12/17/04 03:24:25 EST

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