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

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from December 17 - 24, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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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

Go to a junk yard and get a big old truck axle or other big shaft and plant one end in or on the ground, then forge on the upright end...works good!
Forge that stuff at a healthy yellow temperature. Use the cross pein across the length to draw out faster.
As the man sez; work on your torch technique. Get a new small tip, ideally a plate/sheet metal cutting tip with just one or 2 preheats. Look up the proper gas pressures and use them.Keep the tip clean.
If the cut is closing up as you go, you are moving too slowly. Proceed as fast as possible without losing the cut. Look at the edge of the cut... If the cutting notches sweep backwards more than about 20 degrees, either your oxy pressure is too low or you are moving a hair too fast.
If you get your cutting speed just right, the slag will peel right off with an oblique swipe of your chipping hammer.
SUPPORT ANVILFIRE or you'll never forgeweld again.
   - Pete F - Friday, 12/17/04 04:22:42 EST

I've got two qestions.

what is the best way to move a 250 pound anvil into a pickup truck, and unload it?

and, When were Kohlswa first manfactured?
   - Bjorn - Friday, 12/17/04 11:07:20 EST

Loading Anvil: Bjorn, There are several ways:

1) Get two BIG guys that don't care about their back to do it for you. Friends of mine used to move a 350 pound anvil into and out of a VW bug this way every time they went to a show.

2) Use a forklift.

3) Slide it up a ramp. I saw a guy load a 600 pound anvil alone using a long heavy board. Only took him a few minutes. If you try this be sure your ramp angle is 30 degrees or less and that it will support the load PLUS you in the middle. If you are not in shape for this then a ramp and a come-a-long work.

The last time I moved a 200 pound anvil in a PU I walked the stand to the tailgate then lifted the anvil the couple inches onto the tailgate. I unloaded it the same way at the weekend show and reloaded it to come home the same way. If the anvil ever fell on the ground I would be in trouble and need help. I try to keep all my anvils on stands for this purpose.

However, that was many years ago. Today I move all the anvils in my shop that are over 100 pounds with the overhead hoist Ocassionaly I will lift one with the hoist, fly it over the machinery in the middle of the shop and set it back on the stand which has been carried by hand from one side of the shop to the other (good reason for the relatively light wooden stands I build). The last heavy item I had to load on my own went up a ramp. The reason was that I was loading into a van with an overhead hatch. This prevents using a hoist and swinging the load into a door.
   - guru - Friday, 12/17/04 11:38:35 EST

Punch Tonnage

Guru, It may be that you are using the force required for a flat bottom punch. Don't forget that a lot of the Roper Whitney punches are set up with an angled bottom shape to reduce the force needed. Maybe the new catalog is giving forces required with this type of punch.
   SGensh - Friday, 12/17/04 11:41:13 EST

Kohlswa: Manufactured by Kohlswa Gjuteri AB, Kohlsva, Sweden for more than 70 years (since the 1930's).

For many years Kohlswa anvils were imported to North America by the Swedish-American Company. Then in the early 1960's Bill Pieh of Centaur Forge began importing Kohlswa anvils.
Kohlswa manufactured the Centaur brand anvil until the mid 1980's when Centaur stopped importing them under their name.
   - guru - Friday, 12/17/04 11:43:15 EST

Punch Tonnage: SGensh, Maybe. However, all the larger punches in the old catalog had the angled shear faces which I always grind off as most of my punching is for blanking. AND even when it is not for blanking it is nice to be able to use the slugs for something in the future. It is also MUCH easier to put a punch on a surface grinder to sharpen it than to hand grind shear faces.

They put shear on all their punches over 1/2 inch or so. You can special order flat faced punches at extra cost and a delivery delay, so I just order the stock punches and regrind them myself. I start with an angle grinder and then finish on the surface grinder. When I want to keep the center point I grind by hand OR use a tool post grinder in a LATHE!

The other thing I go by is the way things work. The 30 ton value has worked well over the years. I know that when I go over it even a small amount (5-10%) the tooling ACTS overstressed. My small hand punches spring (visibly) as VIcopper noted. My 4 ton punch press trys to stall (not good) and my 20 ton hydraulic press takes the full length handle and serious effort.

"uncomfortable effort" Speaking of effort. I mentioned uncomfortable effort in reference to arbor presses the other day. Many hand operated devices such a punches, shears and arbor presses assume a significant effort at maximum capacity. This is to prevent overloading and breaking the tool. On big arbor presses they assume a BIG person on the end of that long lever OR a small guy (135 - 150 pounds) hanging off it. If you are under that rated weight you cannot operate the press at full capacity. On the small bench models the max capacity takes a significant pull that hurts the fingers if done repeatedly at full capacity.

SO. . when looking at these hand powered devices, you should never plan on using them at full capacity in a production situation or even a regular basis. The easy COMFORTABLE working range is about 50% of the tool's MAXIMUM capacity.
   - guru - Friday, 12/17/04 12:23:32 EST

(Un)Loading Anvil

Bjorn - I used a convenient tree branch (about an 8 inch dia. branch on a Chinese elm in my case), a couple of lenghts of ½ inch rope (one over the tree branch, the other as a harness on the anvil - make a figure 8 pattern going under the horn and heel while crossing over the face, tie off the free ends (SAFETY FIRST), and a 1 ton (2000 lb) come-along. Easily hoisted a 325 lb Peter Wright out of the trunk of my Jetta. Drove the car away, lowered the anvil to the ground and then used a hand truck to move it about.

For a van, or a capped pick-up bed, use some 2' by 12" inch boards, a saw horse, and pipe pieces or hardwood dowels as rollers in conjunction with the above technique.

   - Don Shears - Friday, 12/17/04 14:41:38 EST

Question for you armor junkies:

I watched a show yesterday on History International called "Weapons that made Britain". It's series with each episode devoted to a particular item such as sword, lance, etc. One show was about plate armor. The host went on and on about how the plate armor from Milan was actually steel and arrows just bounced off. They wanted to recreate a breastplate and showed a modern smith cutting a piece from sheet steel and forming it using a typical side blast British forge. After he had it formed and polished, he brought to a red temp, then quenched and drew it to a blue color. They carried on about how much better arrows deflect from steel and then proceeded to fire one from an air cannon. It punched a hole in the plate but would not have been a mortal wound with the normal padding underneath. This was not a literal test but I suppose close enough considering no one wanted to shoot an arrow at an original piece. Earlier, they had fired at a breastplate that was from softer material and the arrow had punched through at least 3 or so inches (don't know if this was steel and/or hardened).

My question is whether steel was in fact available in 15th century Milan or anywhere else for use in armor. Obviously, steel was available for swords and other weapons but those were often "edged" with a piece of carbon steel and the rest wrought iron. There were no rolling mills that early so the plate had to be hammered out before forming so maybe the billet was carburized before forging.

Inquiring minds want to know...
   - HWooldridge - Friday, 12/17/04 15:14:36 EST

Moving Large/Dense Objects:

If you don't have a mover's dolly, keep your eyes open at yard-sales for skateboards. I use one that my son outgrew, and I'm keeping a lookout for a second or third. The larger, wider wheels are good.

I'm almost to the point where I might rig a semi-permanent gyn pole crane; especially when I get the RJYH going (presently in hiatus while I pull the Christmas gifts together). Used to be common in the local boatyards, but now they have overhead cranes in structural steel framed buildings, as well as travel-lifts.

A lovely day on the banks of the Potomac, Sunny and 49f.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/17/04 15:18:23 EST

Medieval Steel:

Various grades of steel, as well as wrought iron, were a by-product of the bloomery process; if you cooked the bloom longer with a gentle blast you might end up with some of it being steel. As you consolidated the bloom, these tougher pieces would be sorted out and saved for other purposes. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, some of the helms used steel in the front and iron in the back, sometimes welded together in the same sheet of metal. By the late medieval period you probably had blister steel available, and you certainly had battering mills to reduce it to sheet on a commercial basis.

Swords made wholly of steel instead of pattern welded from various grades of steel and iron were predominant by the 11th century; and I believe that this was in part due to the higher production rate of the Catalan forge.

The problem with steel was not the making of it so much as the time and expense involved. More time to "cook" the iron involved more time tending the furnace, and more fuel, which meant more people to cut it, char it, and haul it. This raised the expense to the point where you didn't use it profligately, but only on important stuff- tool edges, with which you used to make your living; or armor and weapons, with which you, and/or your lord, protected the demesne (God willing). You probably wouldn't see steel used in something like a cook pot unless it had been recycled from something of no further usage, and even then, it would be rare until steel became common.

Well, that's my take on it; I'm sure Thomas and the Greater Guru will add their further observations (if they haven't already while I'm composing, proofing and posting this ;-).
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/17/04 15:35:49 EST

The carbon content of plate armour increased and then decreased over time. Higher carbon "steels" are tougher even when not quenched making a better armour. There is the expense problem as Atli mentioned---even as recently as 200 years ago steel might cost 5 or 6 *times* the cost of iron.

As they started to make steel armours the big problem they had was in heat treat---both in warpage and in brittleness it seemed to take them a while to learn the skills and for a while the average size of plates *decreased* as they were easier to work with.

As the use of armour died out more and more was used for "ceremonial" reasons and the repousse, engraving, fire gilding, etc worked better on the softer iron and so the tendency was away from steel armour.

All this info with dates can be found in "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" by Dr Alan Williams and in "The Royal Armoury at Greenwich 1515-1649: a History of Its Technology", Williams, Alan & De Rueck, Anthony and in other publications by Dr Williams.

Thomas who had a spiffy idea on case hardening vikings to be used in my next film tentively called "The Oarrrrssmen"...
   Thomas P - Friday, 12/17/04 17:30:51 EST

Thanks all for the information on my old shop lathe. Went out and got the model number and called Logan and have an operation and parts manual on the way.
   - J Myers - Friday, 12/17/04 18:10:03 EST

Thomas, the decrease in the size of plates. Would that be the exceedingly articulated suits starting with Maximillion armour and heading into the 16th century stuff? Would you attribute this to the use of steel? I had always thought (opinion only, no research to back it up) that it was more due to articulation and forming/fluting breakthroughs but the better articulation may be a by product of using harder material and moving to smaller plates, thereby forcing lots and lots of articulated pieces in areas heretofore unarticulated or less articulated, i.e. breastplates, pauldrons, cuisses etc.
   MikeA - Friday, 12/17/04 18:48:33 EST

No, the decrease was a bit earlier IIRC and they started increasing in size again towards the late renaissance. It was not correlated with the better articulation.

Dr Williams published an interesting article called "The Blast Furnace and the Mass Production of Armour Plate" in one of the "History of Technology" overviews where he cover's this---I need to find my copy of it and get the dates nailed down.

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/17/04 19:22:44 EST

Mr. Guru,I would like to know what flux to use to forge weld stainless stee? Thankyou.
   John C. Rowe - Friday, 12/17/04 21:22:29 EST

Speaking of those wonderful toolsmiths the Chinese, Harbor Fright sells a nifty little hydraulic half-ton truck crane of theirs (looks like theirs, anyway, with that distinctive orangey-yellow paint) which needs only the addition of a thrust bearing to be just great for hoisting aboard really heavy stuff, like motorcycles, anvils, gasoline welders, and especially those treasures you see alongside the road that theretofore you had to pass up out of deference to your back. They come up second hand a lot, too. Fifty bucks used is about right.
   Juan leGubrious - Friday, 12/17/04 23:44:29 EST

Juan: Great idea! Whats the best way to mount something like that onto the PU bed? Bolting it to the sheet metal doesnt seem like enougn
   Patrick O'Blivious - Saturday, 12/18/04 00:37:14 EST

It's only a 250# anvil pick it up:-) For me a 300# is doable if it is on a stand, and you are going to a truck bed about the right height. A freind has a 500# Peter Wright that I might be tempted to try if it were on a stand about the right height, BUT I am stronger than I am smart:-) I did drop a 150# anvil on my head about 15 years ago:-) couldn't fit it through the cables onto the hoist platform, and lost my balance as I squated to try and fit it through the lines. Rolled neatly from my shoulder across my head, to the concrete, IN SLOW MOTION... Didn't even get a soft spot, I was young and was carrying it on my shoulder with the horn pointed down my back;-)
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 12/18/04 00:39:22 EST

Pleased to have you gubriating amongst us once again.
When we tried to lift a #10 Edwards shear with that aforementioned HF hoist, one end rose clear, then the hoist majestically bent until we ran out of nerve and finally slid the shear across the truck beds on some planks. It was no 1/2 ton by a long shot.
So if you get one...keep your toes very far out from under the load.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 12/18/04 01:02:21 EST

You can be one of the main characters in the next "Road Runner" film...:-)
   Sharon - Saturday, 12/18/04 07:53:17 EST

Lifting. I welded up a funky but servicable tripod stand, and I use my old chain fall for lifting. The load, being a little above tailgate high, can usually be coaxed on board.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/18/04 10:57:07 EST

(sp) serviceable
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/18/04 11:02:58 EST

I just obtained an interesting backplate which allegedly was recovered from a barn in Virginia. What makes this piece interesting is the weight of it. My experience has been that the back is usually not heavy, while the breast sometimes has a little extra beef, and the back is usually not bullet-proofed, which this one is. I believe this piece to be an early 17th century example. You'd almost think it was cast, due to the bulk, if it wasn't for clear evidence of lamination in spots. I cannot, of course, comment on the carbon content. You can view it here: http://www.antiqueswords.com/eb3.htm Please forgive the commercial context -- I am providing this link as a point of interest in context to the recent discussion, not as a commercial promotion. Please feel free to correct me if this is inappropriate, and I won't do it again.

Best holiday wishes,
   Rob Miller - Saturday, 12/18/04 11:51:57 EST

lol sharon! Another example of testosterone poisoining. :)
   adam - Saturday, 12/18/04 12:08:48 EST

Stainless Flux: John, For stainless you use borax with 5 to 10% flourite powder (flux grade 98% CaFl).

I was helping a friend identify a bunch of stuff in an old RR shop foundry and I found a bin labled "flourite". It was nearly empty but what was left was mostly dust. We cleaned out the bin and split the goods. Later the fellow found sacks of the stuff in 1/4" lumps. Neat crystals. I don't know if I will ever use it but you guys know about acquisititus. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 12/18/04 12:45:34 EST

Hello Guru. I'm new to this trade and I would like to know how to get started in this field. I'm pretty good at working with tools and the like. I have a Camaro that's half built and it's looking to be a success when I'm done. I got the bug of metal working when I had to make bracketry for my enginge and ever since I wanted to learn more. I have ordered three books; "The Golden Age of Iron work, the New Age of the Anvil, and The Art of Blacksmithing, just to get started. What should I do next to start my education in this field? I live in a Minneapolis suburb and would like to attend some classes or whatever. Hope you can help. Thanks. Matt
   Matt - Saturday, 12/18/04 15:06:52 EST

A. Go to the FAQ section (pulldown menu upper rt) and read the "Getting Started" FAQ.

B. Go to www.abanan.org - find the affiliated organizataion for your area and contact them - they will have regular meets and will be a very big help to you

C. Start thinking about making or buying a forge. Find something to use as an anvil. Buy a couple of pair of tongs and a 2 1/2 # cross pein hammer

Get it hot - hit it hard! :)
   adam - Saturday, 12/18/04 15:37:48 EST

pardon me - typo in the URL. its:

   adam - Saturday, 12/18/04 15:38:34 EST

I'm trying to find the link that goes to some old turn of the last century forging. I think these were from the Westinghouse Archives and showed them forgewelding a huge generator ring. Also in the same series were some chain testing, chain making, and they were welding up a huge anchor. These links were all on one page on some metal working site. I can't seem to find it. I originaly got the link from one of the anvilfire forums, but not sure which one, or when. I've been searching the archives here, but unfortunatly I get sidetracked reading something interesting.
If any of you have this link I'd sure appreicate it!
   JimG - Saturday, 12/18/04 16:20:40 EST

Lifting: I have a 8ft high by 8 ft wide steel "sawhorse" that I made from 1.25in square tube. It just slides together from 7 pieces. I use a chain hoist to lift the load above the height of my pickup bed. I back under the load and lower it into the bed. Take apart the sawhorse and throw it in the truck and I'm off to weherever. I used this to load a 6 by 20ft rolling gate on to my truck. The gate hung from the side of the truck rack like a curtain. Worked real well. Kinda made the truck tilt a bit.
   dief - Saturday, 12/18/04 16:25:06 EST

Patrick-- I welded the column of the crane to a hunk of 1/2-inch plate, reinforced against bending with angle iron, bolted with a couple U-shackles out of 1/2-inch allthread going down to the frame of my Ford P/U.
Pete-- Never yet had that kind of trouble with mine, which is the shorty with the piston that mounts down close to the truck bed. But the most I've ever picked up with it is a BMW roadsiccle and a Miller gasoline welder, maybe 450 # tops. I think the mount would tear loose from the F-250's bed before the arm on this one would bend at 1K. (They do have another one, much taller, where the bend stress would be up high. And, I think, one without the piston, but a hand crank.) Biggest problem so far is protecting the filler plug on the piston from getting dinged in the tool box. I never EVER stand under a piece of steel.
   Juan leGubrious - Saturday, 12/18/04 16:32:57 EST

Welding the ring

   - Hudson - Saturday, 12/18/04 16:59:17 EST

Went to the monthly Alex Bealer meeting this AM and watched a demonstrator demonstrate in a strange shop with equipment that he had not seen before. Was particularly struck with the propane forge he had to use. It was well made, but had a single burner for a fairly large chamber and it had a firebrick floor and a firebrick sidewall opposite where the flame entered so that the flame hit the firebrick instead of the Kaowool. It simply did not get really hot and he was struggling to get a decent heat the whole demonstration. Also he had assumed that certain tooling would be commonly available and it was not. Up and coming in the next year I am going to have to demonstrate in someone else's shop and the lesson was not wasted on me. Just an observation.
   - J Myers - Saturday, 12/18/04 17:06:00 EST

Thanks Hudson, that's what I'm looking for, but that link doesn't work.
   JimG - Saturday, 12/18/04 17:08:30 EST

Jim G.

That link worked fine for me, did you miss a first or last letter? I've done that many times.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/18/04 17:28:35 EST

I cut and pasted it Pawp.
I'll try again
if it works for you could you email me the hot link via email?
   JimG - Saturday, 12/18/04 18:06:36 EST

Belay that request Pawp,
worked for me this time.
Thanks again Hudson.
   JimG - Saturday, 12/18/04 18:09:46 EST

Is bare/polished stainless steel (with no wax or clear coat) completely rust proof?
   - Hayes - Saturday, 12/18/04 18:48:47 EST

and do you know a good suplier for ball bearing hinges?
   - Hayes - Saturday, 12/18/04 18:50:07 EST

Jim G.,

Sure can.

   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/18/04 18:51:51 EST

Duh! Sorry Jock, meant to copy it into email.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 12/18/04 18:53:11 EST

Speaking of complex technical issues, anybody see Anco Hand Cleaner for sale any more? Yellow box, blue lettering,a powder that actually worked. Just googled for it and turned up nada, just a couple old fogeys on tractor sites lamenting they can't find it. Neither can I, alas. Many thanks!
   Juan leGubrious - Saturday, 12/18/04 19:26:56 EST


Not enough info to answer your question accurately. Need to know the particular alloy of stainless, the ambient environment, and the proposed duration of exposure. Also things like whether or not the stainless was passivated, has it been forged or welded, what is the actual finish grade, etc.

Some grades of stainless are more stainless than others. Some are fine in a dry environment, others are pretty rust-free even in a salt air environment. If the stainless has been heated to forging temp or welded, then it won't be stainless any more unless it is passivated. Any contamination of the surface, such as having been wire-brushed with a regular steel brush, or ground with a grinder used previously on regular steel, will "seed" the surface with steel that will rust.

So, lots of variables. Basically, if the stainless has sufficient chromium, and the surface chromium is well oxidized, then it should be pretty much rust free for the most part in most circumstances. But there are no absolutes.
   vicopper - Saturday, 12/18/04 19:50:22 EST

found another good movie at the Library of Congress:


check out the Steam Hammmer film


Casting a guide box
   Hudson - Saturday, 12/18/04 21:26:57 EST

my power hammer is called the canadian no.25 i believe is the same as little jiant 25lbs. i want to replace the tention spring, can you give me the specs on that spring?
   paul fontaine - Saturday, 12/18/04 22:28:02 EST

Plate Armor Example; Rob:

Yep, looks like siege or engineering armor to me, too. I seem to remember that for that purpose the back plates were heavy also; but you may want to do more research.

As for it being Colonial; that's more of a reach. After two World Wars a LOT of European armor drifted back to the states. I can't see it hanging about in a Virginia barn for 300 years, but I could see some relative stashin' "Uncle Fred's war stuff" for twenty years (I've seen it happen). Without any sort of provenance, a Colonial origin would be hard to prove.

You might try contacting our staff at Colonial National Historic Park (www.nps.gov/colo/) which handles both Jamestown and Yorktown (from the beginning of the American colonial period to the end). They should be able to refer you to some folks specializing in both Colonial and siege armor.

Good luck.

Sharon and Adam:

Yeah, but we have to beware of "estrogen intoxication" too! ;-)

Clear, but getting colder on the banks of the lower Potomac. Wrapping up work on the Christmas presents at the forge; I might even have them done by Christmas!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 12/19/04 00:58:37 EST

For the longest time I have had a great interest in traditional blacksmithing but especially bladesmithing and swordsmithing. I live in the NYC metropolitian area and was wondering if you guys know of any place where I may learn the trade that is relatively nearby. At the moment I don't have space to set up a forge and learn on my own,(apartment) but that will change within a year or two. So by then I wish to have a basic knowledge of the craft. Thanks

   Elias - Sunday, 12/19/04 01:19:04 EST

hahaha i just read the FAQ on bladesmithing on this site. Very amusing guys. I'm sure you do get loads of questions from insincere people. Let me clarify a few things so you take my questions more seriously.

1.I practice Kung-fu and want to learn bladesmithing because a lot of the weapons available to buy for practice are rediculously unbalanced and mass-produced pieces of sh*t. The ones that are nice are insanley over priced (1-2g)

2. No i don't want to kill people lol. Martial Arts is just that, an ART

3. I have had a little practice with metalworking. Enough to not be discouraged by the grueling hard hot dirty repetitive work.

4. Yes of course I am willing to pay for lessons.

5. HAhah yes i saw Conan the Barbarian (who hasn't) but that didn't make me interested in blacksmithing or bladesmithing.

Anyway, any info on my previous question would be greatly appreciated by anyone who has the patience for "another one".
   Elias - Sunday, 12/19/04 01:39:21 EST

oh ya and any reason why you guys don't have any of Jim Hrisoulas's books on your shelf? They seem pretty informative to me.
   Elias - Sunday, 12/19/04 02:42:53 EST

can anyone reccomend a comprehensive book on forge welding,i have read bits & pieces in several diferent books but i would like to have a book deticated too just welding,
i would also like to know of any book that you could reccomend on identifying blacksmith tools.
its a cold snowy day here,but "we'll make it ok".
   norse - Sunday, 12/19/04 13:30:20 EST

Swordsmithing: Elias, We have a review of Dr. Jim's The Pattern Welded Blade, and his video on our "bookshelf". We also list and recommend it and the rest of his books and they are listed and linked on our Swordsmithing Resources page so apparently you didn't follow the article very close (its linked in several places). I only have the one book and would like to have the others but blade smithing is not my passion so my limited funds have gone elsewhere. I do have numerous other bladesmithing books some of which are on our book shelf page.

There are blacksmithing schools all over the country and the best place to find them is the ABANA.org web site. There are several in the NorthEast. But since this is a relatively rare trade you should have to expect to travel significant distances to find the school you are looking for or the one that has a bladesmith teaching a course. You should also try the ABA (American Bladsmiths Association).

I tend to find people's comments that they are seriou, patient and studious as rather incredulous when they cannot follow the obvious links in articles that we have spent MANY hours. The skills and knowledge you are looking for are difficult to acquire. They require persistance and follow through. Nobody is going to simply bequeath the knowledge upon you. There is no ONE school, there is no ONE Master.

   - guru - Sunday, 12/19/04 14:00:17 EST

Norse, No, but I posted a little on forge welding today on the Hammer-In Forum (pull down menu in upper right corner of page). There are many books showing tools. A good one is "Werk und Werkzeug des Kunstschmieds" by Otto Schmirler. The text is in German, English, and French.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/19/04 14:33:54 EST

Elias, American Bladesmith Society has a school in Washington, Arkansas. Save your money and go. Your search engines can find the home page and schedule.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/19/04 14:44:37 EST

Norse, As Frank noted there is no single book on just forge welding. We have a fairly good iForge demo on the subject and I will take a look at Frank's post and append it to our iForge demo. One of the best ways to learn forge welding is from others. One of the best places is Frank's school.

Identifying Tools: There is no one book as styles and focus change over the years. Werk und Werkzeug des Kunstschmieds that Frank recommend above is one of the best. Click the link for our book review. Others that can help and their focus:

Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing Antique Hand made
Lillico's Blacksmiths Manual Illustrated General and Industial
CoSIRA's The Blacksmiths Craft Basic Contemporary

We have reviews of all three of the above and they are all available from ArtisanIdeas.com.

Blacksmith's and Farrier's Tools at the Shelburn Museum is also very good but it has been out of print for some time. It can ocassionaly be found on the used book sites but is going for collector's prices now.

For blacksmithing machinery of the last century will sell CD versions of several of the old manufacturers catalogs. These cover blowers, forges, drills, benders, power hammers and such.

For details on anvils there is only one book, Richard Postmans Anvils in America. Despite the title is covers anvils from all over the world as long as they were sold in America. See our review.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/19/04 15:03:38 EST

Fionnbharr, ISTR that the "milage" on your body is running pretty high; course working with those low grade fertilizer producers will tend to do that. My advice to all the folks too young to listen to it is: don't be stupid. Someday your luck will run out. My back is telling me things I don't want to hear already and I have *years* more of stuff I want to do.

Plate; I was ready to see a piece of victorian theatrical armour but it sure does look like it's made from wrought with the holes punched and everything. Interesting to lean nthe history on it.

BTW anybody seen the plate armour that was used in the ACW? I believe there is an article on it in "The Arms and Armor Annual" Vol I.

Gotta drive my mother up to Altus OK for a funeral so I'll be offline for a couple of days; gotta rev my anvil finder way up while talking to my relations up that away...

It's a good funeral; great-aunt with a long and good life behind her; it will be great to see all the kin folk and talk. I sure hate the ones where life is cut short and all that is left is to mourn.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 12/19/04 16:52:57 EST

thanks for the answers about old gastorch...i will let it stay at the fleamarket...have enough gas (..)like this...
   - machefer - Sunday, 12/19/04 17:45:19 EST

Do you know where I could find the article about Armor in The American Civil War online?
   Thomas - Sunday, 12/19/04 17:51:25 EST

guru,and all:
thank you all very much for the advice & insight.
i will seriously consider your suggestions.
as i don't know of a single blacksmith in my part of ky,or
anywhere else within any reasonable distance,your sugestions
are about my only alternative.
thanks again: via mjollnir
   norse - Sunday, 12/19/04 20:00:34 EST


There are blacksmiths in probably every county in Kentucky. Have you tried checking the ABANA (www.abana.org) affiliates listings for Kentucky? In fact, the Kentucky Blacksmiths group website (http://ky.abana-chapter.com/) is hosted by Anvilfire. Or check adjacent states if you're near the border. If you can hook up with one of those local groups, you'll meet every smith in the area and get all the help you could possibly want.
   vicopper - Sunday, 12/19/04 20:27:43 EST


Not to say that the gas torches aren't beautiful, they are. And in their day they were the latest technology. I learned to do light brazing with my grandfathers. But today, there are much better and far safer alternatives. So I keep my granfather's "blowtorch" in a prominent place in my shop, but I never use it.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 12/19/04 23:35:20 EST

For a book that covers forge welding and only forge welding try:
"How to forge weld on a blacksmith's anvil for those who have diligently tried and failed" (That's the title really). by Robert Heath Valleyview Forge, Canton, Mississippi publisher. Copyright 1995
I don't know if it's still in print (abebooks.com has it)
Regards to all.
   slag - Monday, 12/20/04 02:44:14 EST

NORSE; You wanna see 'tucky blacksmiths? Be at the next Quad State Roundup. KY is one of the "Quads".
   3dogs - Monday, 12/20/04 08:27:27 EST

Norse- I am originally from Lexington, contact me by email & maybe I can point you towards some folks. Put "blacksmith help" in the subject line of your message.
   Brian C - Monday, 12/20/04 09:16:06 EST

How do I find a blacksmith in Roanoke, VA, or very close?
   Harriet Hodges - Monday, 12/20/04 09:52:21 EST

how thick is the coating of a surface hardening i found around 2mm or under but is this corect ?
   - steven - Monday, 12/20/04 11:10:46 EST


There is a rather robust group in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, their website is www.metalsmith.org

Beginning classes are I believe all full, but the get-togethers and hammerins are well worth your time.
   Escher - Monday, 12/20/04 11:33:48 EST

Harriet Hodges,

Scroll up a few posts to see my answer to another person who asked the same type of question. Check the ABANA website, www.abana.org to see their list of affiliated chapters.

Case Hardening:

Steven, that should be pretty much correct, except that I doubt if it is as much as 1 mm. Usually, most case hardening is on the order of a few thousandths of an inch, maybe up to about .020" (0.5 mm) maximum.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/20/04 11:59:02 EST

Harriet, I've sent you mail in regards to the two local smiths I know of. Neither are members of local associations.
   - guru - Monday, 12/20/04 12:35:44 EST

Case Hardening Thickness: See our case hardening FAQ. Note that the carbon penetration is not uniform, it fades to that thickness. Many parts are finish ground after case hardening further reducing the thickness.

Note that one of the biggest modern myths perportrated by a manufacture is the use of hardening salts and a gas flame for a we minutes. This creates a superficial layer only a few thousandths of an inch (.02- .03mm) thick. It is useful for mild abrasion resistance but does not make tool steel out of mild.
   - guru - Monday, 12/20/04 12:42:24 EST

Old anvil: Could anybody hazard a guess as to the anvil shown in pictures 5 and 6 at the site shown below?

   Bob G - Monday, 12/20/04 13:08:44 EST

... by which I mean 'hazard a guess as to the age of...'
   Bob G - Monday, 12/20/04 13:27:44 EST

Astragal Press has a beautiful book on collecting blowtorches, with page after page of fantastic devices, by Dick Sarpolus, $29.95. I did some online scouting a while back and every source, including Sarpolus, agrees with PawPaw-- do NOT try to use these gorgeous old cuties. I have used a little one, made by Primus, burns white gas, Coleman fuel, but bottom line: all those oldtime tinbangers like my French great-grandfather and all those Navajo silversmiths not withstanding, it is not worth the hassle-- a propane torch, or a Prestolite, works just as well for soldering, without nearly the risk.
   Juan leGubrious - Monday, 12/20/04 13:50:13 EST

Bob G., There is an engraved image of a similar anvil on page 28 of Postman's "Anvils in America", and it is said to be "Continental" and a SOHO pattern, 19th or 20th century.

By the shape of the horn and lack of cutting table, I would guess that it is French, albeit a shot in the dark.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/20/04 14:01:02 EST

I am in the process of gathering material to construct a fairly durable yet deconstructable forge. The plans I have come on sugest using 3/4" steel plate for construction for the firepot. However I have decided to opt out and buy the firepot from centaurforge ( http://centaurforge.com/centvulcandp.html ). Using this firepot I am planning to construct the frame around it using some flat steel plate for the base and angel iron for the legs and sides. Instead of welding however I will use bolts to make the forge portable as it needs to fit into my car. My question is what thickness and type of steel should I use for the construction of the rest of the forge. (i.e. everything but the firepot).
   - Michael A. Gora - Monday, 12/20/04 14:41:04 EST

I'm looking o make a shear to cut 2" wide 16 ga. strap of mild steel. I'm tired of dulling out my good hand shears. What kind of steel ( grade) and thickness do you think would do a good job?
   Hector - Monday, 12/20/04 16:00:07 EST

Michael A. Gora, Some suggestions. For the hearth, ¼"x24"x30" mild steel plate is typical in the U.S. If you're doing very heavy work, the hearths can be larger, 30"x36" or so. The firepot is usually installed offcenter, looking at the broad, workers side of the forge. If you are right handed, measure measure 12" in from the left side, and that will be the location of the CENTER of the fire pot. This leaves a hearth area on the right for coal and fire tools. From before to behind, the firpot is centered. The firepot has a flange, so when you get it, measure for the hole to go through the plate and drop it in. Some firepots have two holes, fore and aft, for nut and bolt attachment to the hearth. 1/8"x2" or 1/8"x1½" angle iron should suffice for legs and perimeter border. In the front and back of the firepot, you may want to notch a 10" wide piece out of the angle iron, so you'll have a work rest just a little higher than hearth high. You can overbuild the angle iron, if you want to, with 3/16" thick. You should probably bolt in some leg stretchers, but don't let the front one interfere with your sliding or kicking ash dump operation. For the average height male, the hearth will be 28" to 33" high. It depends on your 'druthers.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/20/04 16:19:47 EST

Is it possible to weld without a flux? And if not, are there any house hold materials or something i could pick up from the hardware store that would work?

   Seth - Monday, 12/20/04 16:47:36 EST


Yes, it is possible to weld without flux. Your technique needs to be darned near perfect though.

Most of us use 20 Mule Team Borax from the laundry section of your grocery store. Note I said Borax, NOT Boraxo.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 12/20/04 17:57:03 EST

Ah I see. Thanks a lot! I'm gonna go pick some up right now ;)
   Seth - Monday, 12/20/04 17:58:21 EST

HECTOR; You could probably harden and temper a couple of pieces of truck leaf spring that would get the job done.
   3dogs - Monday, 12/20/04 18:10:24 EST

The order form for CSI finally took my credit card. I do not know why it wouldn’t the other times but it finally let me join.
   Aaron Cissell - Monday, 12/20/04 19:53:50 EST

Norse, If in the louisville area, the Indiana Blacksmithing Assoc. has a group that meets in Tipton In. about 30 minutes north of Lou.
   ptree - Monday, 12/20/04 20:54:20 EST

Firebrick Refractory Limits - A Question: I am looking to build my first gasser - probably a dome-topped or rectangular forge, lined with firebrick, coated with ITC-100, burning two Reil EZ-Burners. Forge is for communal use, general blacksmithing for me and pattern welding/novice blacksmith cousin. Brick is primary plan, based on durability to impact and unaffected by flux.

My Question - The firebrick I now own, and have easy and inexpensive access to more, is made by Georgia Vitrified. The sales rep. said it is rated as 2100 degree brick. Not too bad, but I am unsure if it will get up to the higher temps needed, 2400-2700 degrees without melting, even with the ITC100.

Any ideas as to the relationships between insulation, refraction, reflection. And will the coated brick mentioned make it to the 2400-2700 range for any reasonable life span. I kinda need to know before continuing with the forge building project
   - CCHarper - Monday, 12/20/04 21:21:29 EST

Hello again. Well thanks to the recomondations of Frank Turley I went ahead and designed the outline of the forge I wish to construct. Using the firepot sold at centaurforge ( http://centaurforge.com/centvulcandp.html ) I plan to make a forge by constructing this frame I designed around it. ( http://filebox.vt.edu/users/gora/public/forge.jpg ). For the base plate I will use a 1/4"x24"x30" mild steel plate. The border angel iron is 1/8"x2 while the supporting angel iron is 3/16"x2". The side angel iron is cut around the firepot to provide the elevation of 1/4-1/2 above the firepot for resting metal. The entire assembly will be put together using 5/8 bolts. I was wondering if anyone has any sugestions or think of anything that should be changed.
   - Michael Gora - Tuesday, 12/21/04 02:33:55 EST

I'm sure that if you sit in a prominent place on a large anvil, they will be sure to appear.
Hector, with a large hammer ...and some practice, you should be able to do that quickly ,in one blow with a wide cold chisel.
There are plans for stock shear in FW's Cookbook.
CCHarper. That brick is apt to have too short of a life to justify the cost savings VS the time it will take to build the forge right.
If it's just a temporary dry stack affair, what the heck, toss em as they crumble. If you see a puddle forming at the bottom, watch your toes.
   - PF - Tuesday, 12/21/04 04:48:57 EST

Happy Solstice!

It may be the shortest day, but on the other claw it's the longest night! I guess I'll work on my MAGIC SWORD for the one day of the year when the spirits are most favorable! Now, where do I find the goat for the sacrifice?

Y'all bundle-up, keep warm and safe, and I and my friends will try to make sure that the sun doesn't go away forever! (We've been successful... so far.)

Clear and cold on the banks of the Potomac. Taking pictures of the old Convention Center today, demolished over the weekend. Can't get close enough to tosh anything for my recycle (scrap) pile, but I'm keeping my eyes open. I did score a set of window bars from the building across the street torn down for another new office building (16'{8 times 2'} of 1/2" square), so now all I have to do is get them home.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/21/04 10:32:57 EST

Refractory Limits: Theses are generaly the working limit. With HD refractories such as hard brick the duty is pretty sever as they are used to line huge melting bowls, crucibles and tundishes. Weakening of the refractory is usualy the problem.

Coating the surface with ITC-100 will prevent surface break down.

"getting to" the temperature has nothing to do with the brick. That has to do with the forge burner and general forge construction. Bad propane forges cruise at 2200°F and the best run around 2500°F for welding.

However, getting to temperature takes more time with hard heavy refractories like firebrick than with lightweight refractories like Kaowool. In a small or micro forge situation it is possible to have heat loss at too great a rate to get up to a working temperature. Most small forges ovecome this with overkill (higher BTU).

   - guru - Tuesday, 12/21/04 11:42:17 EST

for nuts and bolts that are plated, can the plating be burned off in the forge? the forge is outdoors.

   - rugg - Tuesday, 12/21/04 12:11:19 EST

Burning off plating.
As long as it's not galvanized. I just heat them to a dull red, let them cool, wire brush them, and then reheat to a red to raise the scale and then blacken them. I find the cheaper they are the less work it is to bring them to black.
   JimG - Tuesday, 12/21/04 13:24:11 EST

Plating-- Read somewhere that the shelves out of refrigerators have some nasty stuff in its plating-- cadmium??-- and that heating it (as, perhaps, in using it in a barbecue) is muy peligroso.
   Juan leGubrious - Tuesday, 12/21/04 13:39:50 EST

Michael Gora-- a tong rack that hangs on the side of the forge is handy, also a sliding pull-out frame to support long stock of various sizes while it's heating is a big help, too.
   Juan leGubrious - Tuesday, 12/21/04 13:44:19 EST

Galvanized and galvanized: The hazzards of burning off the thin zinc glavanizing off modern hardware is much over exagerated. Anyone that has used brazing rod or melted small amounts of brass for casting has been exposed to thousands of times more zinc fumes than buring the zinc off a few nuts. Working outdoors of with good ventilation is not a problem.

Most hardware galvanizing is electroplate or shot blasted (both VERY thin coatings) and barely protect the hardware until it is sold. It does very little good in outdoor use. Hot dip galvanizing is a different thing. It is thick enough that the dimensions of the hardware must be made to compensate for it. It is also rough and obvious. I would not attempt to remove this coating as the resulting hardware is undersize and it would be a lot of expense to remove.

You can also remove thin galvanizing by soaking in acid such as vinegar.

Where the problem lies is OLD galvanizing and especialy military hardware. These products had cadnium in the galvanizing OR were 100% cadnium plated. Cadnium fumes are very hazzardous in small amounts and have produced fatalities to welders as well as long time debilatating illness to those exposed to smaller amounts.

Cadnium poisoning is much worse than lead poisoning and like most heavy metal exposure it is cumulative and there is no 100% cure.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/21/04 14:15:36 EST

Building a Shear: Hector, I've built several types. Both times I used pieces of leaf spring for blades. However, I recommend a good tool steel as shear blades see a lot of abuse and new ground rectangular stock has nice square corners and straight edges. Thickness depends on the mounting and sturdyness of the support. However, Beverly shear blades are 1/4" and work quite well. For thickness you need to consider the size of the flat head screw you are going to mount the blades with and how much thikness they need for the head.

The critical thin about shears is keeping the blades aligned and rigidly held in position. It helps to have some sort of stationary backup plate that the blade and holder slide against to prevent springing the blades.

I have had various scissor type shears in my shop for years including some HUGE ones designed for light plate like 16ga. All have been difficult to get good work out of. Last year I purchased a used Beverly B2 shear. It is one of the handiest tools I have purchased in a long time. It cuts curves and straights in thin stock as well as 16 gauge steel with ease. It is one of those tools that you don't know how you got along without (I DO, I just avoided cutting sheet other then sawing).
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/21/04 14:31:25 EST

Non profit status for Anvilfire: The paperwork has been completed and is being submitted to IRS. What this means, among other things, is that membership dues will now be tax deductible as a charitable contribution. One more reason to support this excellent and irreplacable site. So, it you are looking for a year end tax deduction, may I suggest a CSI membership? As Paw Paw says, the cost is less than a cup of coffee of a week, and now it is even tax deductible.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 12/21/04 15:55:28 EST

IM looking for information on what permits or license youd need to have if opening a commerical forge in Michigan?
I tried looking at the detroit city website and didnt see anything about not being able to have a forge in a commerical area BUT that doesnt mean much. I want a shop or place of buisness that I can make proper chainmail, swords and other metal worked items.
   Pam - Tuesday, 12/21/04 18:27:38 EST

CSI Membership
Welcome Aaron. Make sure you log in as a member from now on and your name will proudly show in blue!
Any of you who found this site through a google search on blacksmithing knows the NUMBER ONE reason to become a CSI member. That's number one of about 328,000.
   JimG - Tuesday, 12/21/04 18:47:19 EST

High temp hacksaw blade? In Meilach's book "Decorative & Sculptural Ironwork" p 136 she shows Eric Moebius sawing through a hot bar using a "high temperature molybdenum hack-saw blade". I tried this with a Starret 14 tpi and it works great except its about one cut per blade. Where do I get of those moly blades? Also would a HSS blade be likely to do an better? Thanks
   adam - Tuesday, 12/21/04 20:10:22 EST

HI, I have an anvil that was my fathers, and would like to know how to mount the anvil to a table or other sturdy surface.I do not know much about the kind of anvil it is but would like to proudly display and use it in my garage. . thanks
   Tony - Tuesday, 12/21/04 20:20:45 EST


Not enough info. Starret makes four grades of blades, the best being their bimetal blades with molybdenum HSS teeth welded to a springier back, called the "Bearcat". These blades work fine for hot cutting if you keep the amount of teeth in the hot kerf to a minimum and don't try to cut too big of stock. Flat bar up to 3/8" cut edgewise or 1/2" round is about the very max for the 18T blades that I use. One advantage to the Bearcat model is the aggressive tooth design that speeds up the cutting and minimizes the time for the teeth to heat up and lose hardness. If yo uneed to do much hot cutting, you might want to lok into cooling the blade just after the kerf with a Vortec cooler or something similar.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/21/04 21:13:01 EST


A bit more about hacksawing. When cutting with a metal blade, you usually use pretty significant feed pressure to force the teeth into contact with the metal to conduct the heat away from the tooth tip and into the stock. This is particularly true of bandsawing. The exact opposite occurs when hot cutting with a hacksaw. If yo have too much pressure, trying to hurry through the cut, you just increase the heat transfer to the teeth and draw the hardness out of them. This is why the agressive tooth design, as coarse a tooth as possible and lighter pressure is in order. Normally, you want at least three teeth in the kerf at all times to avoid tooth breakage. When hot sawing mild steel or wrought iron, you can get away with only two teeth in the kerf very handily, and it makes a faster cut with greater chip clearance, thus less heating.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/21/04 21:19:24 EST

what propane regulator should i use for my forge? thanks chris
   chris - Tuesday, 12/21/04 21:32:08 EST

Pam-- think hard before you invite the camel into the tent, or open the panderer's box. You will be subjecting yourself to all manner of building inspectors, fire inspectors, making enormous insurance problems, etc., IF you go all the licensing and permitting required to run a commerical smithy as a business. On the other hand, if you are a hobbyist smith, and choose to do favours (love them Brit words, love 'em!) for friends now and then, why, my goodness. Either way, you will be at the mercy of the neighbors. Permits or not, a howl of protest at a grinder going off on the Sabbath morn, or in the middle of Desperate Housewives, and you'll be in the soup whatever permits you have. Be a hobbyist.
   Juan leGubrious - Tuesday, 12/21/04 21:58:40 EST

As for trouble with inspectors, contact me email. I could write a 1000 thesis about the public "servants" who serve only themselves.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 12/21/04 22:06:03 EST

HSS High Temp Blades: Adam, In the 1960's and 1970's you could buy "all hard tungsten" blades from the various top quality blade manufacturers. I used them in my HD hack saw frame.
Forged hacksaw by Jock Dempsey

They required more tension than regular blades because they were brittle as glass and would shatter in an instant. They came in a coarse 14TPI blade which is what I used. In use I could cut a 1/2" square bar in 10 strokes. When it took 13 strokes I replaced the blade. Used hot they were good for several cuts but they would hang in the soft steel and then shatter. . In a good frame they were GREAT blades. In common frames they do not last. I have used up hundreds and only broke a few. Sadly they are no longer made.

The same type blade is made for mechanical cut off saws. They are hard and brittle as glass but will last longer than any other blade as long as they are not abused. They are longer and heavier than standard handsaw blades. If I ever make another hacksaw frame it will take one of these. I believe the smallest is 14" long by 1" by .050 and 12 TPI.

As VIcopper noted you want a REAL blade, one with SET to the teeth and as coarse as they come which I think is 18 TPI at this time. Those blades with the wavy blade instead of set to the teeth are JUNK for amatures cutting sheet metal. To buy these you have to go to a REAL industrial supplier. They are NOT found in common American hardware stores.

I have found that hot sawing and hot rasping is a fun demo trick that makes lots of sparks but it is the end of the tool in use. Never use a good file, rasp or saw blade that you want to use again.

WELL, I was wrong. I can't get them from my local suppliers anymore but McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) has the ALL HARD blades. However, I do not know if they are the ALL HARD TUNGSTEN. McMaster-Carr is always frustratingly terse in their descriptions.

HOWEVER, I reccommend that YOU buy their most expensive blade the 18TPI bi-metal PLUS blades 2476A24. These blades have REAL set to the teeth and are very durable. The next best is the 14TPI bi-metal. If you are going to be sawing lots of bar stock by hand in a blacksmith shop these are the blades to use.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/21/04 22:11:56 EST

Shop Legal Requirements: Paw, Paw-Paw forgot rule #1, YOU CAN'T FIGHT CITY HALL. In most localities the zoning and inspections Czars are gods and the law unto themselves. Fighting them is like bear baiting and using youself as the bait.

Exactly where you are makes a BIG difference. Some localities, even rural ones near metropolitian areas are forced by the EPA to maintain tight emmisions control and regulation. FORGET a coal forge in these areas.

There is a big difference between commercial and industrial. Go to your local library and ask for the zoning laws. There SHOULD be a copy in a local public library. If not you will have to go to the court house and make an appointment to use the law library. IF you find the law in the public library note that these things change regularly and the copy in the library MAY be out dated.

I SUSPECT you must be in light industrial. Noise may be a problem but you can control that if you try.

1) You must be in a light industrial OR multi-use area. Many zoning codes alow a wider range of things for farm land than in heavy industrial. These zones go block by block and often building by building. Check the current zoning map at the courthouse closely. Also check with the landlord and ask if the zoning is by special use permit. That permit would have applied to a specific business, not yours.

2) You must have a business license or what ever the local law requires.

3) You must meet emmisions standards. In some places you can use a coal forge as a hobby but not commercialy. I have heard complaints of coal forge use in neighborhoods that still have domestic coal furnaces. . . Gas forges are VERY clean and since they make no smoke there is usualy no complaints. Check the fire codes. You will probably need a chimney or stack by law.

4) Noise can be a problem. Even though the area may be rated commecial LOOK at what the neighbors are doing. They may not be happy with clang, clang, clang all day. If there is a LOT of distance between buildings it is usualy not a problem.

These are things you must research yourself (or hire a lawyer). DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, go to city hall and ask where you can put a forge. They do not know what a forge is or what you do. But THEY WILL be very interested in regulating everything you do if you ask. DO THE RESEARCH. Then tell the absolute minimum about what you do to get your permits. Don't lie or break the law, but don't volunteer extra information.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/21/04 22:37:26 EST

Gas Forge Regulator: Chris, You need one that is rated to a least 30 PSI but 50 is better. You want it with a gauge and rated for propane. Some acetylene regulators can be used for both gases but check first. Generaly you need to purchase them from a welding supplier but a few blacksmith suppliers sell them.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/21/04 22:42:21 EST

I am interested in using a paint/graphite mixture on an exterior steel gate that I am building. I have not actually seen this finish, but have only read about it, so I have some questions:

Is this an attractive finish?
Where do I get the graphite?
How much do I use? - I will be spraying an oil based exterior enamel with a Binks model 7 gun.
Does this only work with black (flat, satin, gloss)?
Any tips?
Any other trick painted finishes that you can recommend?

Many thanks,
   John Phillips - Wednesday, 12/22/04 03:03:46 EST

John Phillips, I don't know much about the finish, but I think they sell large plastic squeeze bottles of graphite at John Deere dealerships.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/22/04 03:59:05 EST

Well I finalized my design and I bought the steel for it. $117 dollars worth of material to make something they charge $600 for. I feel preaty good about my costs so far. However as I was thinking about it I noticed I overlooked something. I would like this forge to last as long as possible so acordingly I started to worry about rust. Solution a high temperature paint for the body? I asume the legs would be fine with something that could take 300C or so? (correct me if I am wrong) While the body would need considerably higher tolerances? Here is the general concept for my forge, some changes have been made since. http://filebox.vt.edu/users/gora/public/forge.jpg
   - Michael A. Gora - Wednesday, 12/22/04 11:12:37 EST

Pam-- Another way to skin this cat: couldn't this ironworking place of yours be a studio? Nay, an atelier? Wherein only beauty is pursued, purely for its own sake, and works of the finest art are wrought? Dig it: nibby-nosed apparatchiks with lots of pens in their pocket protectors and and sheafs of forms clamped in their clip-boards don't tend to gravitate toward hanging around or even visiting studios.
   Juan leGubrious - Wednesday, 12/22/04 11:28:26 EST

Someone has been into the Christmas cheer a little early. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/22/04 11:49:04 EST

John Phillips,

The graphite finish is what old time "stove blacking" used to be. It is simply not suitable for exterior use, as the graphite will make the paint have far less adhesion and less film strength so it will degrade extremely quickly. There are much better solutions.

Since you have good spray equipment, treat your project like you would treat paintng a custom car or motorcycle. Prepare the surface by sandblasting, then immediately spray a coat of cold galvanizing on it. The 94% pure zinc stuff sold by CRC and/or Lanco Galvacon™. Then spray on a coat of red oxide primer suitable for use under automotive paint. Now you're ready to give it the beauty coats.

If you want the look of a graphite paint job, spray it first with a basecoat of deep charcoal grey, almost black. Use the basecoat/clearcoat system paint. I prefer Ditzler acrylic lacquer, but use whatever you you like as long as it is a name brand automotive basecoat/clearcoat type. After you spray the dark basecoat, take some basecoat of a slightly lighter grey with a small amount of superfine silver metallic mixed in and wipe this on with a rag. Demin from well-worn jeans sems to be the best for me. The object is to just put the lighter silvery grey on the high spots of the texture of the iron. After that has dried, then you apply the clearcoat, paying close attention to proper film thickness for the particular paint you're using.

Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on film thickness and drying/curing and you'll have a finish that will duplicate a graphite finish, but will last for ten or more years if maintained periodically. A true graphite finish will only be good for about ten weeks.

When using automotive paints, be sure to use the recommended reducers (thinners) and PROPER personal protection. These paints are highlytoxic and yo MUST have the correct respirator cartridges.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/22/04 11:53:34 EST

Thank you vicopper - I have done a similar finish with industrial enamels (black and silver), but this project is more elaborate than the others, so I want to give it a special touch. I will go the extra step with you suggestion. Thanks again.
   John Phillips - Wednesday, 12/22/04 12:12:26 EST

Hack saw blades: Guru & Rich, thanks for your comments. I will try McMaster's hard blades.

I have been using Lennox blades 14 tpi for general purpose work. I did notice that the higher pitches, like 22tpi, are only available with wavey tooth patterns (from Lennox) which I hate.

Jock's picture inspires me. I should make myself a couple of hacksaws. My only decent frame, a starret, no longer holds enough tension since I stepped on the frame and bent it :) I am thinking of making hacksaws with bow saw frames and using concrete nails for the retaining pin.
   adam - Wednesday, 12/22/04 12:16:26 EST

Dear Guru-- Wassail and Warmest seasonal greetings! Hey, one of the most renowned smiths in all the land for years and years referred to his shop as a "studio." He also had every permit and license and approval on the books, but that did not keep him from getting red-tagged after a neighbor complained about the smoke. His advice after that experience: fly under the radar.
   Juan leGubrious - Wednesday, 12/22/04 12:21:52 EST

Graphite Paint: First, this is not a very rust protecting finish. You need a clean surface (preferably sand blasted) then a zinc cold galvanizing, followed by a neutral primer (I like DuPont Hi-Speed Laquer primer red-oxide) and then your top coat.

Commercial graphite paint is sold as De-Rusto Barbeque Black. A high temperature paint. On initial application it just looks like flat black paint. Over time (about a year at room temperature) the volitiles evaporate and the paint will "chalk" graphite. If you polish with a rag it will have that shiney graphite look. The problem is this will rub off (forever or until the paint is all gone) and the consumer will be upset with black stains on their hands and clothes. ALL graphite finishes that LOOK like graphite have this problem. Chalking also means that the paint will eventually wash off in the rain leaving black stains below and the primer showing OR the surface rusting.

Making your own finishes is amature nite. All the home brew mixtures are PAINT. They are just badly formulated paint. So why not take advantage of the professionals and their centuries of experiance and use the REAL thing?

The only option is to put on a REAL paint job. I have said this over and over,
"If Hollywood can make wood and plaster look like metal, why can't blacksmiths make METAL look like metal?"
First, I recommend sticking to lacquer finishes for anything other than a single coat. Yes they are more expensive but they dry instantly (or nearly so) and are very hard. The advantage to the fast drying is that you can apply multiple color coatings, mists and glazes. The fast drying also saves you TIME (= money). Lacquer can also be used as a base coat for hand applied glazes in a varnish base. These can be tints or gilds or a mixture of the two. Check your crafts store antique finishing supplies or Gilders Paste sold by our advertisers.

To get a metalic graphite look I would use a silver base coat and then layers of a black tinted clear and maybe some opaque black all applied by spray gun.

Painting any product is an ART. In the case of artistic wrought iron many blacksmiths have ignored this important aspect of their work to their everlasting shame. Many even forget that the cost of a first class outdoor finish is a SIGNIFICANT cost and way underbid jobs. In the end they toss on a coat of whatever boring black paint they can find over top of scale, rust and coal deposits. The result is a mess that can hurt your reputation as a craftsperson.

Do it right the first time.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/22/04 12:24:01 EST

In reference to the aforementioned code questions and so on, it brought to mind a quote from Albert Einstein that I have always been fond of:

If A is a success in life, then A = x + y + z.
Work is x;
y is play;
and z is keeping your mouth shut.

Happy Solstice everyone
   Escher - Wednesday, 12/22/04 12:45:20 EST

Thankyou and seasons greetings, I think my hobby will be staying at just that..talk about jumping through hoops..
best wishes
   Pam - Wednesday, 12/22/04 13:17:03 EST

Saw Frames: A couple people have copied my saw design and liked it a lot. It is very heavy compared to regular saw frames (5/8" square bar). So, you do not push DOWN on it, you just push back and forth.

Somewhere burried in all my old sketch books I have sketches based on the same basic design a frame that makes a high arch. This one was going to be the same frame weight but being longer it could be the spring.

In my old copy of Metalwork Technology and Practice they have a photo of a fellow sawing a heavy RR-rail in two with a big hacksaw. The blade is one of those machine types I described above about 18 to 20 " long. The frame looks like a typical saw frame but made of 5/16" (I think) by 1-1/2 or 2" flat bar on edge.

My saw has used little 1/16" soft iron rivets for pins to hold the blade. The tension marks them but has never sheared them.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/22/04 13:18:39 EST

Michael A. Gora Forge, I wouldn't worry too much about rust unless you leave it sitting outside. The hot heart of the fire is in the center of the firepot. I don't think hi-temp paint is required.

If you wet your coal/coke ring, the side areas of the hearth aroung the firepot can rust out, but it takes quite a while for this to happen. In the event this occurs, you can weld in some repair plates. The legs aren't going to get hot.

I line all my permanent forge hearths with a strong portland/sand mixture, the thickness being at least as high as the side flanges of the pot. I didn't mention this earlier. I made the assumption that since you want a breakdown forge, that you would be hauling it and demonstrating at craft fairs or smiths' gatherings. The concrete makes it fairly heavy.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/22/04 14:55:55 EST

Well I wont be as much hauling it around for smiths' gatherings or demonstrations as for myself. I am a college student looking to start out in blacksmithing so portability is a must for me. I plan to store it outside but broken down in a weather proofed plywood container.
   - Michael A. Gora - Wednesday, 12/22/04 15:08:50 EST

Michael A., A post script. If you're going to work outside, I recommend a four sided or completely circular hood with only a small opening, maybe 10" x 10" for your work to enter. The hood should come down to hearth level or a little below. I put an 8" or 10"D. stovepipe on mine, taking it up to at least 10' high. You can install a small, removable door in back of the hood for inserting long pieces. Without a good enclosure, the wind will keep blowing smoke, ash, and heat in your face, even though you might think your back is to the windward side.

In addition, the hood will shade your work, allowing you to recognize your heats better.

The voice of experience.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/22/04 15:13:44 EST


Moving day has finally come. He may be off-line for a couple days as he moves and sets up his computer system. See his web site for new home address and phone (ground line).
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/22/04 16:18:28 EST

I am in NYC and need to rent an anvil and hammer for one day -- Saturday, February 26, 2005. It doesn't have to be more than 100 lbs. Where is the best and least expensive place for me to do this? Somebody told me that NYC would be prohibitively expensive and that I should go to CT or somewhere. Any ideas?
   Eileen Macholl - Wednesday, 12/22/04 17:33:21 EST

i want to thank,SLAG!for pointing me too a book on forge welding.
i just recieved the book today,"written by"robert m.heath on preliminary examination,it seems to be exactly what i was looking for.
thanks again,SLAG
via mjollnir
   norse - Wednesday, 12/22/04 18:31:23 EST

i want to thank you for responding to my post,on where to locate blacksmiths in my area.
i live off us68 about 20 miles south of maysville in mason county.
i would like to email you but i need an adress,or you can mail me back at,(lobo_4654@yahoo.com).
thanks and merry christmas!
via mjollnir:
   norse - Wednesday, 12/22/04 18:39:59 EST

Just click on BrianC's name and it will bring up his email address. The Guru has a neat antispamharvester encription system here. If the name is underlined it is a link to email.
Just another reason to support anvilfire and CSI
   JimG - Wednesday, 12/22/04 18:47:59 EST

Just posting my experience with using fireplace ashes for an annealing insulator. I had to anneal a small knife blade so I heated up a larger plate to orange with the knife blade on top, then transferred them both to a box filled with fireplace ashes. When I went out the next morning there were too small holes in the top of the ashes, almost looked like a bug or something had tried to burrow in for the warmth. When I started digging in to my pieces I found a cavity had been burned out underneath the plate, all the way to the sides of the box. So fireplace ashes are out, I don't know if I didn't clean them enough or what but I'll be building a more durable box and using vercimilite (sic?) from now on.
   MikeA - Wednesday, 12/22/04 19:30:37 EST

To honor all our Military that are away from home and at war this Christmas, May I suggest a ringing of the anvil at noon on Christmas day? 5 strokes, one for each branch.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/22/04 19:48:39 EST

Hello. I'm an old Goat close to retirement age. My blacksmithing is mostly self taught and for the bigger part limited to forging Hawks, axes, knives and believe it or not, ornamental fence parts.

I am also an avid muzzle loader builder and forge most of my own parts. I have trouble with trigger guards and especially the spur that turns under behind the trigger. When I split it and forge it out it always comes out too thin.
Is there a trick to this?
   peter nap - Wednesday, 12/22/04 21:22:39 EST

Greetings! I make horseshoe nail jewelry - and yes, I am quite good at it. Now at 42, I can state that the jewelry has more than paid for itself many many years ago. But someone asked me how far back in European history hoseshoe nails would have been used in jewelry. I haven't the faintest. While I have a bit of knowledge that the nails have probably been around for close to 2500 years, there is no reference to their being used in jewelry or art. Can you point me in a direction? Googel, Jeves etc all give a nice history of the nail, weigts, etc... but nothing on art/jewelry.

   Daniel - Wednesday, 12/22/04 22:26:56 EST

I just got a used fisher anvil. the previous owner had painted it green, the previous owner before thet painted it orange. I tried to get it off with a pnumatic wire brush, no such luck. only small chips came off where the paint was pealing. the layers are preaty thick. any sugustions. The corosponding cast iron base is also painted.
   - Bjorn - Wednesday, 12/22/04 23:13:09 EST

i need to find a cheap anvil for my first anvil. any sugestions? i have a really tight budget because i am only 14 and just building my first forge. if anybody here has any anvils that they are selling or come across any anvils please contact me at strongguy111@aol.com thanks
   chris - Wednesday, 12/22/04 23:35:44 EST

Daniel; Nail Jewelry:

No references known to me from the Viking or early medieval period. Some use of iron for belt buckles and even penannular brooches, but bronze and silver were favored. Some use of finger rings, but none from nails. Since all your nails were hand made, if you needed a ring you made a ring, and if you needed a nail, you made a nail.

I suspect the use of nails for jewelry was a late 19th and 20th century custom; since by then nails were mass produced in vast quantity and folks could afford to play around. This period also has a lot of clever signage made from horse shoes. Before then a horseshoe was considered too valuable/useful, and the finding of one really was a bit of luck. History is, as usual, fuzzy.

Bjorn; Painted Anvils:

You might try one of the nasty chemical paint removers, such as my father's favorite- Stripeze (sp?). It won't harm the steel, but it will certainly do a job on the paint. Read and follow all precautions, since it also did a job on skin, as I remember.

Chris; Anvils:

Check out the extensive "Anvil" sections under the 21st Century Blacksmith section on the pull-down menu in the upper right hand corner of this page.

Clear and cool n the banks of the lower potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/23/04 00:05:45 EST

Peter Nap, Use thicker stock and draw the trigger guard away from it? Are you using a "bridge", a tool that fits in the hardy hole and acts like an anvil, but you can see through it? Some guys take a section of stout tubular steel, weld on a hardy shank, and sharpen the near, top edge. One portion of the hot split goes below the sharpened edge and the other portion on top can be hammer drawn, and if you want, worked right into the base of the cut.

Daniel, May I crawl out on the proverbial limb, and guess that horseshoe nail jewelry is a late 20th century phenomenon. My first thought is that in the era of horse transport, horses were common, horseshoes were common, horseshoe nails were common, and horse pucky was common, so there would be nothing wonderfully unique about nail jewelry. Furthermore, there was a period in European history beginning with the renaissance and very much alive in the 17th century and into the 18th, in which iron jewelry was made, and the iron was truly treated as fine metal. The workmanship was so incredibly, wonderfully involved that I venture to say that horseshoe nail jewelry would have been a laugh. For reference, I suggest D'Allemagne's "Decorative Antique Ironwork: A Pictorial Treasury". Even such things as locks, keys, buckles, buttons, leather purse frames, and chatelaine were extremely and finely detailed. Then too, before the advent of manufactured horseshoe nails, all nails were handmade, and iron in the old days was more expensive than one might imagine. You couldn't just go out and buy a box of nails. Making nails one at a time might have put them in the category of being used just as nails. I have one handmade horseshoe nail in my posession, comparable to a size 4½. You don't see very many of them, and it is not as classy as the manufactured nail. There is not the checkered design or touchmark on the head. The head does not have the nice little chamfers like American pattern nails. It's just a rectangular head. The old nails were "black" from the forge, not tumbled and polished.

I could be wrong. I've been a farrier and blacksmith for a total of 41 years, so these are my opinions. I just refreshed, and Bruce's ideas are not too unlike mine.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/23/04 00:12:05 EST

Hey chris I would have to say you that you came to the right place. I'm 15 myself and just got my first BIG anvil today. I would point you to a short piece of railroad track for starters, than try to get to a farm auction. Don't go ebay unles your positive its a good one. go to the FAQs on this sight and look up "anvil selection" . the FAQ page is found under the NAVIGATE anvilfire pull down menu. Good luck.
   - Bjorn - Thursday, 12/23/04 00:14:41 EST

Eileen Macholl-- Try asking around among the theatrical set-dressers for leads to a rental anvil. If that turned up nada, I'd call United Wrecking-- huge architectural salvage yard, just a trove of goodies-- in Stamford, Ct. and see if they have one or know of one or know somebody who might know. Third, I'd hie me up to Saugerties and that area and scour the junkyards. I found a nifty old Peter Wright in a yard there 25 years ago. Forget the name of the yard-- but the owner went up for being a fence anyway, so.... Lastly, auto junkyards have (or did once upon a time, anyway-- maybe it's Email now) a teletype system-- query them.
   Juan leGubrious - Thursday, 12/23/04 01:41:06 EST

Peter Nap: "The Art of Blacksmithing" by Alex Bealer has two methods of making the musket trigger guards, one involving faggot welding two loops and splitting them, and the other welding three separate pieces and bending. Sounds like you're using the first method, maybe the second method would fit your forging style better?
   AwP - Thursday, 12/23/04 05:26:38 EST


E-mail coming your way.
   Brian C - Thursday, 12/23/04 10:03:18 EST

Horse Shoe Nail Jewlery: I will have to agree with my compatriots above that this is a relatively new phenomenom. My primary reason is the modern machine made nail and finishing system that produces the bright finish. Earlier hand made nails would have been black and not very pretty compared to the modern nails.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/23/04 10:20:47 EST

Renting an anvil: The cost to rent in NYC may be higher than other places but if you can rent an anvil for a photo shoot or film use in NYC then it is one of only a couple places in the world.

I would try the local blacksmiths association, NY STATE DESIGNER BLACKSMITHS nysdb.abana-chapter.com
   - guru - Thursday, 12/23/04 10:30:30 EST

Ashes for Annealing: Mike, These have been used for centuries. . . if your ash burned out then it was not ash or the wood it was from was pretty strange.

However, the reccommended light fluffy stuff was quicklime, another traditional annealing substance. I've seen it used and it does very well.

Vermiculite is a modern annealing medium has its own problems. Another is kaowool.

A great inexpensive annealing box can be had by using a rural mailbox. They are steel, have a door and you can use the flag to remind you that you have something in it.

   - guru - Thursday, 12/23/04 10:45:21 EST

annealing: I got a bag of lime from Home Depot for about $5. Seems to work well except that I have to rinse it off my hands before it starts to burn.
   adam - Thursday, 12/23/04 12:59:46 EST

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
   smitty7 - Thursday, 12/23/04 16:28:09 EST

Merry Christmas to all and remember:
The reason for the season has a reason.
Matt 1:21 "And thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.
   Tom H - Thursday, 12/23/04 17:04:43 EST

would sand work as insulation? i havent built my forge yet so i cant test that yet but i was wondering if i could cover the bottom kaowool with sand so the flux wouldnt burn through. thanks
   chris - Thursday, 12/23/04 17:52:20 EST

Chris, Forges get hot enough to melt most sand. Combined with the flux you would have a real mess. You need to ask around and find some "split" refractory bricks OR some kiln shelf. Check with a pottery supply or ceramic shop for both. Often kiln shelves break and the pieces may be useful in your forge.

Note that flux eats Kaowool like fire on styrofoam. A grain of it will eat a hole as big as your thumb. You need to coat the kaowool with ITC-100 or refractory cement.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/23/04 18:36:22 EST

Thanks so much for your help so far everyone. I want to wish all of you wonderfull folks a Happy Holiday!

Now down to buisness. Thank you for the sugestion Frank, though I am sort of limited on my tools. I only have a nice Milwake Grinder and a heavy duty drill. That and the little odds and ends of a standard toolkit. So the hood is a bit beyond me. (Unless you could sugest a simplified method to do it) Secondly I like the idea of a "tong rack that hangs on the side of the forge is handy, also a sliding pull-out frame to support long stock of various sizes while it's heating is a big help" as sugested by Juan, does anyone have a picture or some design ideas for something like this? Thanks heaps!
   - Michael A. Gora - Thursday, 12/23/04 19:59:26 EST

Hood:, Michael, What frank was describing was a 30 gallon oil drum with a window cut in it and a piece of stove pipe attached. This is a job for that grinder or a cold chisel and a screw driver or rivet gun
   - guru - Thursday, 12/23/04 20:19:09 EST

Michael, I'm too primitive to send pictures. Maybe I can describe the support. It is usually made of ½" round rod, and mine doesn't slide. It hinges. It's bent in a squared up "U" about 18" to 20 " on the 3 sides. The tips are bent inward (or outward) for about 1" each. Two keepers for the 1" portions are made from 1" lengths of pipe, maybe 5/8" ID, and they are welded horizontally to the near angle iron sides of the forge. They are spaced so that the U-support can be sprung and placed into the keepers, and there you have your two hinges. Another rod can be the support leg, about 36" long with a turned eye on one end. The eye is heated, opened from the inside with a pair of needlenose tongs, placed on the U-support nearest the worker, and squeezed closed again. It should still be round and will have enough slop to relax the U-support to a vertical non-use position, or to raise it horizontally or above, for a work support. When not in use, I just slide the leg under the forge. Since you're not welding at present, you can cold-form two keepers of sheet metal that look somewhat like a modern barrel-bolt keeper, and rivet or bolt them to the angle iron. I think there might be enough springback in the mild steel support that you can spring it on and off for ease of travel.

I said there was no slide, but I fibbed. For a nice touch, you can take a 5/16 rod with a turned eye on either end and long enough so that it fits onto the two sides of the U-support. Leave some slop. It will slide toward and away from you to accommodate smaller lengths of stock that you are working.

Make the tong rack out of flat stock, 3/16" or 1/4" thick, so that the tong reins have a chance to hang close to vertical. If the rack is too thick, the reins tend to protrude sideways. You can rework your tongs so that the reins are more open near the rivet area, but that is another lesson. Come to Santa Fe and take my class.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/23/04 21:51:48 EST

Thanks for the help Frank I think I can visualize that fairly well, I will draw up some designs see how well I can implement it with what I have. As far as coming to Santa Fe, I would love to, though I doubt my car would make it all the way :-P Thanks none the less!!!!
   - Michael A. Gora - Thursday, 12/23/04 22:13:23 EST

Hello Guru,

I've been searching for information on hot riveting on the net with little luck. I own a 1920's Koehring crane with a riveted boom. There are 3/8" steel plates riveted to an angle iron lattice that are rusted to the point that I'd rather replace them. I'm a machinist/woodworker/model maker for an auto manufacturer and my hobby is resoring old construction equipment. This is the first situation where I've needed to hot rivet though.

Questions: Are there different grades of rivets and where can I buy them? What are the proper procedures for doing this? I have a large air hammer, but will need to buy or make the correct shaped anvil. Is there a web site that I've missed that might give me more information?

Thanks, Mike
   Mike - Friday, 12/24/04 00:05:36 EST

I have helped do hot riviting a couple of times, there are special rivit guns, and rivit sets used to do riviting.

They are a little dangerous to use as the pistons are not retained in any way and will shoot out the end of the gun if you hit the trigger without having the gun in position.

Having the loose piston make a couple of trips around the inside of a boiler with you in it is not fun.

I would look through some older Machinerys Handbooks, also old boilermakers books and Ingersall Rand catalogs and publications.

I have done a little boiler riviting and we used a bucking gun on the inside, a bucking gun is basically a air cylinder that holds a rivit set in one end and has a pipe thread socket in the other end. You join together lengths of pipe to the one side of the boiler and then line the rivit set up with the rivit and hit the trigger, jacking against the other side of the boiler. And the rivit is set from the outside.

I have also done fabracation riviting, where we put a rivit set in a vice and set the part on the rivit set and set the rivit gun on top of that.

I even have done a crane boom, we used the bucking gun and lots of blocking and chains to hold the blocking in place.

I would suggest you think about using modern high strength bolts, it's much easier and doen't require the crew that riviting requires.
   - Hudson - Friday, 12/24/04 00:43:30 EST

I should also mention that rivet guns are very very powerful tools, we had a Ingersoll #9, which means the free piston had a 9 inch stroke, at 50 psi with a chisel bit, it would go through concrete like butter
   - Hudson - Friday, 12/24/04 00:49:30 EST

i had written before and asked if anyone could give me the general howto of leatherwrapping a sword hilt. i've checked all the places suggested and have turned up nothing. i've spent countless hours scouring the web and even a web-smart friend of mine has searched for me and i can't find anything. i'm not looking to cord-wrap the sword with leather thong i'm looking to use one piece of leather. cord wrapping won't work since the grip is belted. if anyone could take pity on me and help me get off in the right direction i would be grateful.
   - vince - Friday, 12/24/04 00:51:43 EST

I have just about finished setting up a suitable shop for light to medium forging and am wondering what would be the best way to sell my products. My shop is in my garage in the middle of suburbia, so I can't just set up a store. And I don't think 15 year olds can legaly do that. so whay wuld be the best way to sell stuff. I don't want to ship anything.
   - Bjorn - Friday, 12/24/04 01:05:16 EST


I wrapped a knife handle for my wife with a single piece of 4lb leather about 3/8" wide. I started by cutting a long taper on one end. I then used contact cement on both pieces. The taper then went against the guard, and as I wrapped it around, and it all followed nicly. Once I got to the far end I cut another taper as required and that was it. I used a tiny brass tack at the end to hold it. You can check out some pics of it at my web site. http://fredlyfx.com/projects Here is one that shows the whole thing up close. http://fredlyfx.com/projects/other-side.jpg You can even see my screw up at the beginning. This was the first knife I ever did.

   FredlyFX - Friday, 12/24/04 01:17:48 EST

oops, that was 4oz leather, not 4lb.

   FredlyFX - Friday, 12/24/04 01:22:57 EST

Mike Gora, Email me and I will send you a a small GIF file sketch I just drew up that shows one of the many stock supports like Frank describes.

The one is shown setting nearly level to the side opening of a coal forge, but it could mount lower, and then be angled up to the right height, depending on the workpiece.

You could easily complicate this option by replacing the "round stock with eye brace" with a piece of flat stock.. with notches cut along the outer/lower edge to engage the cross-brace on the front of your forge.. as an "adjustable" support.

(Sorry, if I had sense enough to embed it here AND if it were permitted, I would have put it here. Probably not best to foul things up with a bunch of graphics.. email me.. I will send it to you.)
   ccharper - Friday, 12/24/04 01:25:18 EST

Guru, I believe you on the ashes, I was just posting a weird occurance, all I burn in my fireplace is aged orange wood, I haven't heard anything odd about it's properties. I had wanted to avoid lime due to it's caustic properties, but it's on my buy list now. Out of curiosity, what pitfalls would vercimulite have? Thanks for the tip on the mailbox.
   MikeA - Friday, 12/24/04 01:32:20 EST

I am trying to bend a 90 degree angle in 3/16 by 1 inch cold rolled flat bar steel. Wkkhen I bend it, it cracks on the outside. Can you suggest how to prevent this? I tried heating it moderately at the bending point but that did not seem to help.


Clayton Lewis
   Clayton Lewis - Friday, 12/24/04 09:14:30 EST

MikeA, I've used all three, mostly wood ashes, because I have a wood stove. I keep them in a metal bucket or a metal castoff refrigerator pan. The wood ashes can be screened or at least sorted through. Get rid of the brands (small charcoal chunks). When you put the work in, sometimes it makes an "air hole", so you pull in some extra ashes around it and bank the piece. Cover it completely if possible. I have had good luck with lime, following the same ideas as above. It seems to me that vermiculite doesn't have as good insulating properties as the other two...no scientific tests on this, however. Particules of vermiculite stick to the surface of your work a little bit, but it's not a big problem. They are easily removed. I haven't tried the Kaowool sandwich yet, but I intend to. Also, if it's the end of the day and the workpiece is small enough, you can build your coal fire around it, bank the fire, and go to the house. The piece will anneal in your forge fire overnight.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/24/04 09:27:11 EST

Vince, I don't know what historical period you're involved with or how super-authentic you want to be. However, there is a knowledegable group of leatherworkers to be contacted at http://iilg.org/ Also, you can let your search engines go to The Cloisters, which is the armory division of the Metropolitan Museum. Or you might try the John Woodman Higgins Armory in Worchester, Massachusetts. The museums have professional conservators who might respond to your inquiry.
If it's a "general howto", as you say, and you want a single lengthwise seam when you get done, I would use 4 ounce tooling calfskin, NOT chrome tanned. Make a slightly oversized pattern, maybe of that plastic "foam wrap" that is used for shipping. Cut the leather to size and wet it on both sides with a sponge or spritzer. Let it dry a little until some of the original color is returning. It should be pliable enough to pull around the hilt, grain side outside. Pinch the excess portion of the seam together with glass pliers or cantle pliers. The excess material is pinched together flesh side to flesh side, and will be sticking up away from the hilt, roughly about 1/2". Remove the piece, let dry. Apply contact cement, Barge's is good, to the hilt and to the flesh side of the leather. Let both dry until tacky, and apply the leather. Pinch again with the pliers and smooth it down with a rub stick or the side of a bone folder. Trim the excess material with a sharp knife. Leather workers use a round knife or french edger, Smooth the seam with a rub stick. Allow to dry. Give it a finish with a LIGHT coating of neatsfoot oil or some good leather dressing.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/24/04 10:34:45 EST

Anvil ring on Christmas: Snowed in in S. Indiana. I will have to shovel a 3 to 4' snow drift from in front of the shop door, and ring lightly in the forcasted -7F temp, but still intend to ring my anvil 5 strokes to honor our military on Christmas.
   ptree - Friday, 12/24/04 12:31:22 EST

Mike A: The downside of vermiculite is that it attracts moisture and when it's damp it doesn't work as well. If you have a well sealed container it'll be fine. Personally I just leave things in my charcoal forge at the end of a session and that works fine for me.

Vince: "The Master Bladesmith" by Jim Hristoulas (his second book in his series) has a section on making the single piece leather hilt covering. It also gives tips for more advanced styles like giving it ribs.
   AwP - Friday, 12/24/04 12:40:59 EST

Happy christmas from Israel!!!!!!!!!!!
   Sharon - Friday, 12/24/04 13:29:42 EST

I have been using a Kaowool sandwich to anneal in for several years since my gas forge generates very little ash. It works fairly well and works even better if you put a heated block of steel in it before you place the piece to be annealed in it. The extra heat mass will slow down the overall cooling rate. Works the same way with vermiculite, pearlite (isn't that a low-carb beer from Texas?) or ashes.
Clayton, you may have to heat it more than just moderately. It may have to be red to bend. If it is really cold rolled, it has been work hardened and this will reduce the ductility. If you have the means, you can anneal it first if bending it hot is not possible.
Bjorn, look for a small gift boutique or an antique shop. Offer to place them there at no charge and give 10% to the owner when they are sold. Make up a contract/list of what you leave, the price you want and the fact that the shop gets 10%. If you are under 21 you may have to get your parents to sign the contract for it to be binding. Once you have a history of providing goods that will sell, you might be able to sell them outright at a discount to the shop.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/24/04 13:31:37 EST

Mike, (rivets)

If you're replacing 3/8" plate, I'm going to assume (risky, I know) that the rivets are about that same diameter. If you're going to hot rivet them, you can make a bucking bar from the heaviest piece of steel that will fit in the space and can be held in place. Make a depression for the rivet head, and put a couple handles on it. Then make a rivet heading bit for your air hammer, making sure you don't try to make it too deep or with sharp corners that produce stress risers.

You can heat the rivets in a small gas forge, or use an O/A torch. Heat them red orange, slip in place, back up with the bucking bar/plate and set them with the air hammer. The objective is to have the entire rivet hot when you head it, so that the shank of the rivet upsets (expands) against the sides of the hole as the head is formed. This locks the whole assembly up tight. If you try to put the rivet in place and then heat with a torch, you rarely get the entire rivet hot enough to properly upset.

Check with Jaycee Rivets (www.rivetsinstock.com)for bulk rivets and setting tools. If your air hammer takes standard .401" tools, they have the headers to fit it. Those tools are really only rated up to 1/4" rivets, but Jaycee carries or can get other tooling to handle larger rivets. They stock rivets up to about 1-1/2" diameter.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/24/04 14:15:04 EST

Peter Nap:

I've seen many of your posts and some of your finished work on the American Longrifles board (I just read, I don't post), and I know you do very nice work. Have you been to any of the NMLRA classes in Bowling Green or the historic armsmaking session at Conner Prairie? If not, you ought to go and take one of the smithing classes, since iron-mounted gun furniture is a bit different than ordinary blacksmithing.

Having said all that, the historically correct method of making iron guards for longrifles is to make them in two pieces, then hidden rivet and braze them. If you have the Hershel House videos, I think he does one that way.

Basically, you forge out the front part of the guard to fit over the triggers, making sure the little inward curl is right where you want it. Then you forge the grip rail part. The little curlicue on the end of that is usually a forge weld, but you can also split it out of solid stock as in Foxfire 5 if you want. Fit the two parts together cold, filing to get a good tight fit, then carefully mark and drill them so that a 6d nail can be used as a rivet to hold them while you braze. You might need a third hand to hold onto everything when setting the rivet.

Once you have the rivet in place, flux well and braze with hard silver solder or brass brazing rod, either in the forge or with a torch. Let it cool and file off the excess flux and braze, and you'll have a tight joint that should be invisible when polished, browned, or blued.

As a historical aside, that's not how the military iron guards or the French trade gun guards were done. They were forged from one piece.
   Alan-L - Friday, 12/24/04 14:37:44 EST

Anyone know what the standard height (above the coals or bottom of fire place) for a fireplace grate would be? I want to make one like the i forge demo, how high is that one?
Merry Christmas
   - Hayes - Friday, 12/24/04 19:34:31 EST

Back from OK, I got to drive through the "thick" part of the storm that came through TX panhandle---back roads, there was one set of tire tracks on it going my way and in 2 hours we had one car pass us going the other way.

Still catching up; off to church for Christmas Eve service.

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/24/04 21:41:05 EST

Thanks for your painting tips (and Vicopper). You are very right about neglecting the finishing process when pricing work - its the first corner to get cut when the pricing must be competitive. This project is actually a rare personal one - a front door for my shop, so I have taken my time and wanted to finish it off nicely. I currently have over 550 hours of labor in the door and as tempting as it is to just knock it out, a nice paint job will not only highlight my work but will make it easier to sell the nicer finishes to clients. Thanks again.
   John Phillips - Saturday, 12/25/04 01:54:08 EST

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