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 25 - 31, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Merry Christmas to all! I hope you and your families enjoy a safe and Happy holiday. Thinking ahead for next year.....a great gift would be a 1 year membership to CSI ! Put that on you Christmas wish list for next year, or birthday , or fathers day , anniversary ........you get the picture.
   Harley - Saturday, 12/25/04 09:26:55 EST

This is an excellent summary of metallurgy from ancient times : www.davistownmuseum.org/TDMtool.htm#metallurgy
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 12/25/04 11:25:20 EST

Cracked Bend: You either have bad steel or work hardened steel. Good mild steel and A-36 Should bend to a 90 degree angle with a nearly sharp inside corner without cracking.

Fire Grate: Mine was about 6" high. Small ones are sometimes about 4" but most andirons are about 5" and up.

Selling: Bjorn, there are several ways. One is to find a local gift shop that would carry your goods. They will want 100% markup or 50% of the sale price. That is fair if they buy from you. However a lot of shops will want you to put things in on "consignment". In this case you get paid when the work sells (maybe). A lot of shops do not track consignment sales well and you may be giving away your work. Markup in consignment shops should only be 30% of the selling price.

Another way is to make up a flier or brochure and distribute it to friends relatives neighbors (or those gift shops). If your zoning situation is tweekey (I am sure it is) DO NOT give these to your immediate neighbors.

THEN there are crafts shows and ren faires. Finding these takes research and many require that you have slides or digital images of your work to show them before acceptance. Fee range from $25 to hundreds. Be prepared to have LOTS of inventory. Do not take special orders unless you are prepared to fill them.

   - guru - Saturday, 12/25/04 15:06:18 EST

Replacing Rivets: Unless this is an antique resporation I agree with the high strength bolting. I would go to an odd size bolt (like 7/16 if the rivets were 3/8) and redrill the holes ON SIZE so the bolts are a tight fit and use the same grade torque washers with the bolts.

If you are using rivets I would do the same. Drill out for the next size up rivet so there is a clean smooth hole. Then if the rivets are 1/2" or less I would hand rivet. Use a bucking bar as described and a big hammer followed by a smaller hammer and then a heading tool. Hand riveted rivets actually have greater holding power than machine set rivets. I suspect this is due to the multi angled striking of the head.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/25/04 15:17:00 EST

Horseshoe nails: my advice would be to drop the jewelry aspect and look under folk lore and superstition for a possible earlier date on their use for a ring. Probably a real hard one to "nail down" but ISTR carrying a horsehoe nail in a pocket as protection from the little folk.

I aslo worked with a fellow from India who wore an iron ring made from used horseshoe metal IIRC because he was advised to by a guru back home...(*not* Jock!)

Bending Cold rolled" cold rolled is already work hardened and so putting more into the system causes cracking. You need to anneal the area being bent or better do it hot.

Talking to the kinfolk after the funeral I managed to locate 19 anvils; some still "in use" some being sat upon as part of "normal" farm accumulation. I let them know I was interested but don't need one bad enough to go after them now. At 48 I was the youngest one there....One of the older fellows still has the sickle bar mower he bought from my Grandfather's estate back in the '40's, farms tend to accrete metal.

I did bring back a plow point and some wrought iron from where the family farm house used to be---burned long ago. I plan to make a couple of PW knives for the family from it.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 12/25/04 17:30:40 EST

As I remember, carrying ANY iron in the pocket was a defense against the supernatural, especially if you could throw the "cold iron" at the threat. Of course a horeshoe nail would be a convenient size, and horses had great spiritual and symbolic value, especially in Germanic countries where they were associated with the fertility god Freyr.

Tomorrow is "Break Sunday" and our minister takes off, so I'm doing Rite 1 Morning Prayer and basing my homily on the Heliand, a 9th Century retelling of the Gospels for Saxons, using the "Hill Fort of Bethlehem"; and "horse guardians" instead of shepherds. "Fear Not!" is something these folks would understand. ;-)

Received a No. 5 Whitney Punch from one son, a cordless, variable speed clutched drill from the wif, and a book on the Vinland map from a generous friend. Lots of other cool stuff, but not as much metal or history related. Hope the jolly, fat Viking was good to y'all too.

Merry Christmas!

Clear and brittle cold on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 12/25/04 19:27:57 EST

Comments on old posts:

- On the anvil identification, it appears to be more German than French. Look on page 49 of Anvils in America. A family up the road has one which looks to be the same. On the side I think I can faintly make out ORIGINAL ENDERES.

(And an aside, Postman is about to finalize collection of data for a follow-on to Anvils in America to be titled More on Anvils. It supplements the first without repeating most of the information.)

- On a portable forge, I once saw someone who had just converted a hooded BBQ Grill (the rectangular cart type) to a portable forge by using a production firepot.

- On selling hand-forged items, I seem some listed on eBay. Shipping really isn't a problem. You can get paid through PayPal and then create your shipping labels through them for either USPS or UPS. Between eBay and PayPal expect to pay about 10% commissions/fees.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/26/04 07:24:59 EST

My father-in-law gave me an anvil (his father's anvil) for x-mas, and i was wondering if anyone could tell me anything about it? It has a 100 on one foot, and an upsidedown Z72 on the back curve. Here are some pics of it:
My father-in-law (he is in his 70's) doesnt know anything about it other than it was his father's. Thanks.
   Terry_Dodson - Sunday, 12/26/04 10:14:39 EST

My first reaction was it is a Fisher Norris. However, if a Fisher it should have their eagle holding an anchor logo on one side and FISHER on the front foot. At least two other anvil manufacturers used the bolt down lugs, Buffalo Forge Co. and GEM. The two GEMs I have seen photos of had the pritchel hole directly behind the hardy, which would seem to rule it out. In Anvils in America Postman said the one Buffalo Forge one he had seen had a pritchel hole as large as the hardy, but it might have been drilled out. However, if a Buffalo it should have the name and Buffalo, N.Y. raised on one side. Thus, you seem to have one which falls in the Odd Ball and Orphans area.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/26/04 11:18:49 EST

Hi- I have a friend who is an apprentice blacksmith and he needs to obtain a touchmark for his work. How does one go about getting a touchmark designed and produced?

Thanks very mcuh,
   Maureen - Sunday, 12/26/04 12:35:11 EST

Maureen, Haper Mfg in Las Vega makes custom steel for many knifemakers to mark their blades. I had one made by them for marking my knives and ironwork 1-800-776-8407. all they need is camera ready artwork( I sent them a computer
print of my last name)Cost will be in the $100 range
Their fax no is 702-735-6895
   ptpiddler - Sunday, 12/26/04 13:30:17 EST

sorry it should read-CUSTOM STEEL STAMPS
   ptpiddler - Sunday, 12/26/04 13:31:34 EST

Terry's Anvil: This is a rather odd anvil but not that uncommon. It is cast anvil made from a pattern copying (or cast from) another maker's anvil. The pattern is American, maybe an early Hay-Budden. The bolting lugs were added on and the raised lettering is standard foundry letters that nail onto a wood pattern. What is unknown is what material the anvil is cast from.

This copying of other people's patterns by small foundries was a common occurance in the early 20th century. Either the actual item was used as a pattern, an aluminium casting was made from the original and THAT used as a pattern OR the pattern maker carefully copied the original in wood. In this case the cast pattern has characteristics of a welded two piece anvil at the waist and the slender horn of a forged anvil. Neither are features of an anvil design that originated as a casting. The bolting lugs are obvious add-ons where a cast pattern would have had cast flats in the feet rather than extending them OR they may have been extended only half way with the hole on the line of the foot. All this indicates that the pattern is a copy made by a foundry that was not an anvil manufacturer.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/26/04 17:00:56 EST

If your freind is realy an aprentice 'blacksmith' and not some other semi related trade that works with iron and likes to call themselves Blacksmiths, as part of his training he should have learned, (Or will learn) the skills needed to make his own touchmark. I think there is a iforgeiron demo on making touchmarks, plus I also think there is a scene in Jim Paw-Paw Wilson's storey "The Revolutionary Blacksmith" where they make a touch mark.
Blacksmiths made/make the tools for everyother trade. I think we should be able to make our own tools too.
   JimG - Sunday, 12/26/04 18:54:20 EST

   - Andrew - Sunday, 12/26/04 21:47:12 EST

Hey there, How long does it take to get approved to enter the chat room? I realize it's the "Holiday Season", but is anyone manning the desk right now? Thanks.
   Roland - Sunday, 12/26/04 23:40:46 EST

I just started getting together some things to start blacksmithing. I read a few books and such, starting to get together the things I need. I want to forge swords and knives and such. I would appreciate any help anybody could give me on the best charcoal and metal and other things that I should get to help me start forging. Im looking for 1050 carbon steel, I think that is good to make knives and such out of and if there is anything better let me know. I'm going to get a 4lb hammer, if I need anything lighter or heavier if its best let me know and since I can't afford a anvil I went over to my friends house and got a railroad track and cut it into a 4foot long piece hopefully that will do for a anvil. I would appreciate any info posted thanks for the time reading my post. CLint
   CLiNt - Monday, 12/27/04 01:05:31 EST

Maureen, Kayne & Sons (now Blacksmith Depot) made me a great touchmark stamp at a reasonable cost.
   dief - Monday, 12/27/04 01:41:32 EST

This is more a question about proof testing of armour ie back and breast.
I figure you guys may have a practical idea where I can get some data on this. Re-enactors make their armour but don't test it agaonst period weapons. Actual armour from the period with holes in it is rare.
I know of serveral sets that survived American Civil War weaponry in 1880 - plough shares turned into armour for nefarious purposes. The shares were hot moulded around forms, not work hardened - no through and throughs just dents. Another report that a Brit survived a Crimean Battle because of his back and breast.
The idea is this-back and breasts survived for so long because they fulfilled a purpose. Yep they were expensive so is Kevlar. Any ideas? My web searches on this is like a rat running a maze - confusing.

Thanks Brian
   Brian - Monday, 12/27/04 06:41:29 EST

Uh, Brian, what is your actual *question*? Perhaps why back and breast plates survived as a primary part of armor for so long? If so, it's simply because they cover the most important organs in the human body aside from the head... they were expensive, yes, but vital to a soldier's survival. Maybe if you can make your question a little more specific we can help you better.

Raining and storming in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Monday, 12/27/04 07:19:54 EST

On Terry's anvil, as far as I know only Vulcan and Fisher mastered casting cast iron onto a steel top and getting it to stick consistently. However, no one knows what Badger anvils were either and Vulcan did have Badger manufacturer their anvils the last couple of years of production. This doesn't appear to be a Badger though. I have heard there is a technique to harden the top of a cast iron anvil by putting a cooling plate (brass I think) in the bottom of the mold. I suspect the plate, which would have melted in the process, was then ground off. Does anyone know more about this process?

On Badgers: I have a 50-pound anvil which matches the picture in Postman's book. However, it does not have the logo. Seems to be cast steel as the top is hard. Postman said he spoke with someone who said they once worked at a hardware store which carried the Badger, they were 'ugly' anvils and did have the badger in an oval logo. Nothing ugly about the design I see.

Terry: When you strike the anvil top does it have a ring like a solid cast steel anvil? Can you see a seam under the top to indicate a separate top plate? Also, out of curiousity, is the bottom of the anvil flat or does it have a depression?

According to Postman towards the end of production Trenton and Hay-Budden had their bases cast (mild steel) by a supplier. Thus, this might be a separately cast base welded on something like a Trenton or Hay-Budden top.

Ah, nothing like a good mystery anvil to get the juices flowing.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/27/04 07:21:23 EST

Good morning:

I hope everyone had a nice weekend/Holiday.

I have just recently started working in my garage,It's a 2 car,and is not heated.Because of it not being heated,every time i go in and fire up the forge it warms up and all my tools sweat.yesterday I bought more weather stpipping and insulation.I also thought I would tap into the return line of my hot water boiler system with a 6' section of baseboard in the garage,just to take the chill out.
What do you think,am i on the right track?
thank you, Dan
   Dan - Monday, 12/27/04 08:34:28 EST

CLiNt, There is much to learn about blade smithing and finishing. Start at the upper right of your screen with the pulldown menu, and go to Armoury where you can begin to read about swords. Then under FAQs, there is a section on Heat Treatment. 1050 can be hardened and tempered, but a higher carbon steel like W1 drill rod will have better edge holding properties. 2.5 to 3 pounds should be enough for your hammer. Present day smiths use propane or natural gas, coal, or charcoal (not briquettes). Oft recommended books are authored by Jim Hrisoulas.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/27/04 08:55:10 EST


The tools aren't "sweating", they're cndensing moisture out of the air. The forge is heating the air quickly, due to the low specific heat of air, but the tools remain cold much longer and thus they condense the moisture back out of the warmed up air.

There are a couple of ways to go about solving the problem. One is to warm up the tools before warming up the air, which can be done with a radiant heating device. Not cheap, though. Another way is to remove the moisture from the air. Again, not cheap at home. Your car has the same problem which is why newer cars run the defroster air through the A/C to dry it out first.

If you have a hefty big fan, you can run it while the air is warmed up, which will allow it to pick up some of the moisture back from the tools as it passes over them, keeping so much from condensing until the tools get warmed up. But to truly stop the problem, you need to get rid of the moisture in the air, and that means a dehumidifier.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/27/04 10:21:16 EST

Brian, Breastplates:

Breastplates were typically proofed with a crossbow of a known draw at a set distance. Later, when gunpowder gained predominance, a musket with a set charge and caliber was substituted. In crawling through a number of museums I've seen a variety of "proof marks" from both bolts and bullets.

However, I'm not sure any of my sources have the exact specifications for the proofing, and they may have varied from country to country, and certainly from time to time and with the quality of the armor. I suspect munitions grade armor for some backwater had a much lower proof-test then the armor for the monarch of England or France.

I'll try to dig through some of my resources. However, you may want to post over at the Armour Archive ( http://www.armourarchive.org/ ) to see if anybody has this information ready at hand.


I definitely have to send Mr. Postman all the information on anvils I've been accumulating- REAL SOON!

Clear and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/27/04 10:40:55 EST

DAN! If you are using a gas forge in that closed space and the exhust is condensing on the cold steel then you are possibly killing yourself with carbon monoxide. DO NOT tighten up the shop!

Otherwise VIcopper is right, warm air hold more moisture and it will condense on cold steel. I live in a humid creek bottom where we have large variations in temperature daily and sometimes the condensation in the shop is such that it looks like it rained indoors! Last week there was 1/4" of water condensed on the concrete floor. . . Yes stable temperature conditions reduce condensation and rusting.
   - guru - Monday, 12/27/04 12:07:48 EST

Bladesmithing: Clint, see our FAQ's page. See the anvil article and coal and charcoal article. The sword making article has a long bibliography with some of the best and most important books on the subject of metal working.

Blacksmithing includes almost all general metalworking and many overlook that very important fact. The first book on the swordmaking list is Metalwork Technology and Practice. This book is used in thousands of machine shop courses as an introductory text. It covers the basics that many folks overlook and are NOT covered in the blacksmithing references. How to drill a hole, use a saw, a file, do layouts, read drawings, grind and sharpen tools, shop safety. . . (even a little forging). All this sounds simple but there is a right way and a wrong way to do all these tasks and most people do them wrong when they are self taught (or even when they learn from others). I highly recommend all newbies start here.

As Frank pointed out the 4 pound hammer is probably much too heavy. A good starter and general purpose weight is around 2 pounds. When you have learned hammer control with a light hammer then you can move up to a slightly heavier hammer. When I was working full time the heaviest hammer I could stand was 3 pounds and I often used lighter. It is easy to hurt yourself by starting with too heavy of a hammer and end up not being able to use one at all. . .

And last, I no longer ask folks if they have READ the reccommended books, I ask if they STUDIED them. There is a big difference. Most that have studied any of the books on these subjects have questions about things they did not understand.
   - guru - Monday, 12/27/04 12:35:28 EST

Terry's Anvil: Ken it has a high pitch ring when lightly struck with a 2lb hammer, and i put a couple pics of the bottom with the others here:
as for a seam, on one side it is all flat, top and side are smoth, on the other side (side with the 1.00) the top plate slightly extends over the base about 1/4", so i guess that could be considered a seam.
   Terry_Dodson - Monday, 12/27/04 12:43:16 EST

Bruce: Last time I spoke with Richard Postman he was cutting off data collection for "More on Anvils" on the first of January. Has to be a point somewhere where you go with what you have on hand at a particular time. Thus, please do send him any information you think he might find useful ASAP. I rather get the impression "More..." is going to be his last update.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/27/04 12:43:17 EST

More About Anvils will be Richard's next book and he intends it to be about the same size as Anvils in America. It is NOT an update but all new material. That may be followed with a book of anvil stories. Richard has wanted to revise AIA and fix a few minor errors but it seems time to reprint sneaks up unexpectedly and the cost of revisions on a book this size is costly.

Will will have reviews here and be selling both as soon as they come out.
   - guru - Monday, 12/27/04 13:03:16 EST

Testing Armour: All the books I have on armour show numerous repairs (including punctures) on any armour that was USED. Very rarely is armour put on display that has not been repaired and most in collections has at the least the dents taken out unless there was some historical reason not to. Museum collections also tend to have the best examples they could find or that have survived. The cut up punched full of holes junk would have been scraped or used as repair material for the restorable.

I have seen steel bolts from a small crossbow pierce 1/8" steel plate. However, a lot depends on the angle of attack. Striking perfectly square in two axiis a heavy high velocity projectile is more likely to pentrate than one hitting at any sort of angle. THEN there is the matter of support. A loosely suported plate will move absorbing some of the energy of the projectile and possibly preventing it from puncturing while a rigidly supported plate is more likely to be penetrated. There are LOTS of variables.

The fact is that full plate armour held a very brief moment in time. It was also relatively rare with the vast majority of warriors wearing leather and leather with scales. The important aspect of full plate armour everywhere it was used was that it was part of horse mounted calvary and the more impressive the more is scared the foot soldiers that had to oppose it. Armys without mounted calvary quikly found that longer pikes could reduce its effectivness and even the odds.

It seems that with every advance in weaponry there is some low tech way to get around it.
   - guru - Monday, 12/27/04 13:38:44 EST

Does any one know of a supplier for square headed lag bolts (for wood)in copper or bronze (or other materials than mild steel).

   - Hayes - Monday, 12/27/04 14:01:30 EST

Hayes, Square headed lag bolts are no longer standard and only made by special order. If you want to purchase them you have to order a full keg of each size you want, pay in advance, and wait up to a year. This is just another one of those little nucances brought about by our industrial decline. There ARE a few custom bolt makers but a small quantity will cost as much as a full keg.

The Kaynes carry an assortment of small Pyramid head screws which are similar to square head.
   - guru - Monday, 12/27/04 14:47:32 EST

would silicon bronze or copper screws oxidize outside and bleed into wood?
   - Hayes - Monday, 12/27/04 15:35:34 EST

Good question, I have no definitie answer. I suspect very little compared to iron/steel.
   - guru - Monday, 12/27/04 16:20:18 EST

Hayes; Silicon Bronze and Copper:

Certainly these do not bleed into the wood the way rust from an iron fitting does. I've pulled silicon bronze lag bolts out of our ship after a number of years and found them still bright or slightly patinaed. Of course, this may depend upon the type of wood and the conditions, but in a temperate brackish/salt water environment they certainly seem to hold up well in pine, oak, mahogany, teak and black walnut. Under tropical conditions, or with other wood, this may not hold true.

Pure copper fittings do form a little verdigris under our current maritime conditions, but once again it doesn't seem to have penetrated into the wood. We punched-out and re-riveted about 1,000 copper rivets before we went up to the Leif Erikson Millennium in 2000 up in Newfoundland (http://www.cnn.com/interactive/world/0007/canada.viking/viking.3.jpg ), and the vast majority didn't need replacing.

You can get silicon bronze screws, also, and I would recommend them over copper. The heads of the bronze ones strip out easily enough, and you need a good fit with the screwdriver. Whenever we would make a repair or alteration, we'd salvage all of the marine fittings and hardware- stainless steel, monel, copper, bronze, brass... Those we can no longer use go into the crucible for casting. :-)

Yep, I sure miss the old square headed lag bolts! Looked good on a cannon carriage. A number of folks have suggested getting unplated hex heads and reforging them square.

Still sunny but colder than it looks on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/27/04 16:21:18 EST

Capt'n Atli's seagoing Viking ships are assembled with copper rivets.
   - guru - Monday, 12/27/04 16:22:08 EST

Sweating Tools: Do not forget that one of the products of combustion of methane is Dihydrogen Oxide. I suspect that burning coal might give off some of this, also so be careful..........OK...OK....I can't just post that, Guru will pinch my head to a point and stick me on a wall. Dihydrogen Oxide is water........you never let me have any fun........................
   quenchcrack - Monday, 12/27/04 17:38:36 EST

Continuing on Terry's anvil. Very interesting. I don't see an hourglass depression, but perhaps a shallow pouring depression. In one you can clearly see to where a bottom was joined to a top. With a separate plate on top I'm guessing it is a cast base, forged top (due to the ring) and forge welded on plate. Postman said one of the big U.S. anvil makers, perhaps Trenton, went to arc welding the base to the top rather than forge welding it towards the end of their production. Note also the 100 on the base, rather than the 10 typically used by Vulcan and Fisher. Can anyone provide more info. on this anvil?
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/27/04 18:13:58 EST

Ken, I am pleased to see you posting here. I contacted you a month or two ago about your commercial endeavors and selling direct. I live in Dyersburg, not far from you.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 12/27/04 18:29:21 EST


I'll second what the good Captain Atli said about the silicon bronze. I live on an island in the tropics and silicon bronze or stainless steel is the metal of choice for applications where staining of the wood is an issue. I personally prefer the silicon bronze as they seem to be actually stronger than the stainless. It would not be too big a task to reforge the heads of them to square if you could find hex head silicon bronze lag screws. If I had to do a number of them, I'd make a simple open die and do them in a treadle or powerhammer, though you could undoubtedly do them with one or two swats from a hefty hand hammer. Might take a two-stage die for the hand hammer work, though.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/27/04 18:37:42 EST

try here for square lags


he seems to have a good sorce for some odd ball fasteners maybe he can help you out
   Mark P - Monday, 12/27/04 19:25:06 EST

Dear Gurus,
I was wondering if any of you could point me in the direction of a few good tap and die manufacturers. I am willing to scrimp on some tools, but taps and dies are things worth spending money on. Suggestions?

Overcast and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Monday, 12/27/04 22:49:22 EST

T. Gold,

Greenfield makes good taps and dies.
   Leah - Tuesday, 12/28/04 00:55:52 EST

I've always had good success with butterfield taps, or in a pinch, Jet.
   HavokTD - Tuesday, 12/28/04 02:25:54 EST

hello gurus:
this request may seem rediculous to some,and if it is just ignore it.
but here goes,i have had a set of tongs? for several years,and have never been able to find out what they were used for;i never asked before because i never knew how to discribe them.
then tonight i saw a pair exactly like them on (e bay)and the seller diden't know what they were either.
if it is not asking to much,would someone take a look at item #6142146012,in blacksmithing on (e bay),and please tell me what these were used for.
it would sure ease my mind!
thanks a lot: via mjollnir
   norse - Tuesday, 12/28/04 04:40:47 EST

welding PH dies.
I am preparing to weld dies for my JYH to mounting plates. dies are pieces cut from rr track rail. mount plates are mild steel 1/2" plate. I intend to use 7018. Are there any pre- or post- welding procedures I need to consider.(Air cool vs quenching, etc)Is 7018 suitable or should I use a different rod. I also have a MIG welder but only running .030 wire. Thanks in advance for input. Scott"Dodge"Scheer
   - Dodge - Tuesday, 12/28/04 04:50:43 EST

norse, I'm drawing a blank with the little red x. Will try later.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/28/04 07:57:07 EST


Someone with more experience than me said those were used to put tire irons on.

Anyone else?
   djhammerd - Tuesday, 12/28/04 07:58:35 EST

Norse: My understanding is they are wrenches rather than tongs. The top one is adjustable. I have seen them associated with wagon and buggy production but do not know it to be so. Wagon rim tongs generally had jaws in the shape of an L. The shape helps to hold the rim for carrying from the fire to the wheel assembly and then the jaw extension helped hold the rim (from the bottom) while it was cooled (shrunk) on the wheel assembly.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/28/04 09:06:20 EST

Hey Bruce Blackistone, you always mention the weather on the shores of the lower Potomac, I am just curious to where you exactly are. I myself am on the Potomac river. I actualy live up in Leesburg Virginia, right next to 15 and 7. My house is actualy bordering a State Park/Historical Location and its only a couple hundered yards to the river.
   Michael A. Gora - Tuesday, 12/28/04 10:38:01 EST

Another Ebay anvil:

Item number 3862817079 Is there a reason this anvil has a large horn and small heel? Markings are 'patent solid wrought' and the weight markings '2 3 7'
   Bob G - Tuesday, 12/28/04 11:39:18 EST

t gold, look at the selection at mc master carr. i bought a set from them, made in kentucky. not cheap, but obvious high quality. good service from those guys also...

question: suggest operation for decorating nuts/studs. the studs bonded in masonry. i have some non plated square nuts and have thought of covering the stud/nut with an epoxy and giving it an "interesting" shape. i could decorate the nut, but i think the appearance of the stud would negate it. ideas/comments appreciated...
   - rugg - Tuesday, 12/28/04 11:52:08 EST

Bob, The proportions of that anvil are fairly normal. It does look a bit front heavy but many anvils are.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/28/04 12:33:50 EST

T-Gold, I know there is little industry in Hawaii but I suggest you find one of the larger machine shops and ask where they by cutters, drills and taps.

There is a huge difference in quality of these things. Those sold by chain hardware stores are excrement. You need industrial quality.

Also note that taps and dies are a consumable. You need sets to be prepared for anything but after a few uses they are junk that will cause more grief than you would believe. I use taps for ONE job and then put them in the discards bin to make other tools from. A broken tap in a hole in a near finished piece will cost you more than a dozen NEW taps. They are not worth keeping around and in fact down right dangerous to your mental health.

In this case the VERY BEST are no more expensive than the poorly made ones you find in the hardware stores.

Dies are not so problematic and can be kept until they make lousy threads. Both taps and dies can be hand sharpened with a little die grinder or Dremel tool IF you know what you are doing. I don't even attempt it.

The last time I had to use a cheap hardware store die was at Paw-Paw's. We had TWO holes to tap in his power hammer anvil. One hole went fine but I could feel the tap fighting the 1040 steel.. . It broke in the second hole. We had to go out on a Sunday to get another tap. . . It went a little deeper and also broke. We managed to get it out but there was no taping deeper. So one hole takes a special shortened bolt. . . With the right tap drills and good taps I would have rotated the anvil and tried again. . . . but not that day.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/28/04 13:02:29 EST

ODD TONGS? Those are a very old type of pipe wrench.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/28/04 13:12:10 EST

STUDS: Rugg, If the studs stick up above the nut then I would think that you would need some kind of closed end tube cover added to the nuts. OR you can cut off the excess stud and use an acorn nut type design.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/28/04 13:40:25 EST

TGold, Have you looked at the selection from MSC? You can choose a quality level from basic unidentified cheap import to name brand American taps and dies. If you are looking for a complete set be sure you check out the look and feel of the tap and die handles as well- lots of cheap sets have ill fitting handles; some don't even sand off the casting flash before they are plated. Use a good set with decent handles and fits and you'll be spoiled for life.

Ask yourself what you are going to tap before you buy taps. There are many more options than just the taper plug and bottoming hand taps. If you are doing multiple holes in thin stock you may want to look at plug gun taps to use in your hand drill. If you are tapping lots of stringy materials there are taps designed just for that also.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 12/28/04 13:56:38 EST

norse, Yes, there is a page of those "pipe tongs" or wrenches in my old 1894 tool catalog. They immediately pre-dated the adjustable pipe wrench that we know today. The adjustable wrench has the advantage of tightening on the work as the handle is pulled in the direction that the jaws are pointing.

Wheel Terminology. The wooden rim is composed of fellies. The hub, spokes, and rim make up the wheel. The tire is made of iron or steel and goes to the outside. It's not all that different than nowadays. Hayes Corporation in Michigan makes steel and aluminum wheels, and rubber tires are put around the outside.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/28/04 14:02:53 EST

thanks a lot men,for the imfo.afforded me on what i thought were tongs.
now since i know that they are a pipe wrench,my mind is at ease!,you have done me a great service,
thanks too all: via mjollnir
   norse - Tuesday, 12/28/04 14:22:11 EST

Bob G: That style of anvil is often called a 'swelled horn'. May have been ordered by a farrier, but big for one unless it was in a large or commercial shop. The numbers are the English stone system weight where the first is multiples of 112, second multiples of 28 and third remaining pounds. Usually off from scale weight a couple of pounds. Thus, this one would be around 315 pounds. With SOLID WROUGHT on it I would suspect a Peter Wright. Didn't look to see if it had the flats on top of the front and back feet. Solid wrought meant the body was all wrought iron. With the American and English anvil makers (rather than casters) you could custom order anvil.

As aside is Richard Postman and I suspect used horseshoes made up much of the wrought iron billets which became anvils. Sort of an appropriate use for them.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/28/04 14:42:54 EST

Hidden Hinge Design: I am looking for (or pointers to) a hinge design. It needs to be cheap and simple to make, I'm a newbie in training. I'm trying to hook two pieces of angle iron (1.5 or 2") together to look like box tubing. I need the hinge to be inside the box and allow the top piece to rotate 180 w/o having a space the thickness of the hinge plates between the pieces of angle. Any pointers or info on hinge design books, drawings, etc would be very much appreciated.

Thanks, Bert
   Bert Pelca - Tuesday, 12/28/04 15:19:25 EST

Bert-- Tim McCreight has a sumptuous book out on making boxes, all sorts of snazzy hinges. For openers, you might try silver brazing (hard-soldering) some eency tubing segments that will mate up inside the two edges-that-will-become-corners, and then pinning them. McCreight details this process.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 12/28/04 15:53:26 EST

More about taping holes: There are numerous tricks to taping a hole. In deep holes or material thicker than 1 diameter of the thread alignment is crucial. If the tap is started crooked it will try to make its own hole. At some point the excess load on one side flexes the tap and it breaks shortly afterwards. Crooked holes such as those made by hand drilling produce the same results.

SO, I always try to drill holes to be taped with a drill press. THEN without moving the work I change the tap drill for a center and use that to align the tap wrench or tap (both usualy have a 60#&176; centering hole). Once the tap is started straight the spindle can be raised and the threading continued by hand.

Holes to be taped should be drilled as deep as possible OR through the work to alow chips room to clear the tap. Two flute "Gun" taps with a sloped leading edge that push the chips forward work much better than four flute hand taps. Although holes are ocassionaly taped near the bottom it is very difficult and best to avoid if possible.

The percentage of thread is also important. In thin materials you can use a high percentage of thread (75%). In controlled situations or soft materials 70% is more than sufficient at 1 or 1-1/2" diameters depth. 60% is best in hard materials and deep threaded holes. The amount of force needed to tap a 60% thread is less than half of a 75%.

Using the right percentage of thread means you need a full number, letter and 64ths inch drill set. However, you CAN get by with less by purchasing the individual tap sizes. In metric it means special fractional decimal sizes (1.25, 1/45, 1.60, 1.75 mm . . )

In my office the two most important wall charts are my Tempil Guide and my Morse Cutting Tools drill and tap chart. They are followed by my Holochrome slip chart with socket head cap screw and counterbore dimensions (as well as drill and tap size, torque and strength).
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/28/04 16:06:30 EST

acorn nuts, great idea!!
   - rugg - Tuesday, 12/28/04 16:15:24 EST

On Taps,
Working for a manufactor of valves and fitting, that made something like 3 million threaded holes and male threads a month for about 80 years I would offer the following. Hand tapping holes is an art. Machine tapping holes is a science. I have seen the same 3/8-16 tap make 5000 perfect tapped holes in a rigid, industrial quality machine with industrial lube. I have seen the same quality tape, in the same material, make part of a thread and break. The difference is usually alignment. If possible, when hand tapping, tap drill the hole in a drill press. Then remove the drill bit and insert a center into the chuck, and use the center to align the tap to the hole as the tap is turned.
Another way, with small taps is to somewhat loosley chuck the tap into the drill press chuck, start the drill press and then feed into the hole as the drill is turned off.
with small taps, say 1/4" and smaller, breakage is always a factor to consider. Proper lubrication is always a factor.Be aware that the tap drill size is aimed at yeilding about 75% thread. If a general joint, if hand tapping, a bit larger hole will help prevent breaking and still yeild a decent usable thread in many cases. We tapped and chased hunderds of millions of holes in screw machines with Master Chemical OM-303.This is a light colored oil, with the best extreme pressure additive package we found. The MSDS should not scare you either. Not cheap at about $15 to 20 for a gallon, but a gallon is a life time supply to most hobby shops.
Taps should be US made, and for hand tapping standard HSS is fine. The fancy Ti-nitride coatings are a waste in hand tapping with the old fashioned steam oxide as good a coating as required.
We had a complete tool grinding shop, with every kind of tool room grinder know, up to 5 axis cnc grinders, and came to the conclusion, that resharpening taps was a false economy. They never cut to size and tended to break often.
Of course all this was from a company that was broken up about two years ago. So, this info is dated by two years. I do not think tapping holes has changed much since then.
   ptree - Tuesday, 12/28/04 16:22:43 EST

can i use borax as a flux for silver
   adrian - Tuesday, 12/28/04 16:23:40 EST

Weather and Rivers; Michael:

The tendency to mention the weather is in recognition that it's one thing we all have in common; a quicky way to personalize things, since we can all sympathize or appreciate the other person's weather.

I tend to mention whatever body of water I'm near because cities come and go (Just look at the former capitol of Colonial Maryland, St. Mary's Cittie- if you can find it.) but while rivers may vacillate a bit, they're pretty much there. Our previous office, in the Department of the Interior building, was within a short walk of the Potomac in this century, and pretty much on the banks when the city was founded. In my present location I’m a bit further away but the building would have had a nice waterfront view about 18,000 years ago. (I tend to take a long-range view of things.)

When I’m at home in Southern Maryland our farm runs down to Canoe Neck Creek, off of St. Clement’s Bay opening onto the lower Potomac, which is about six miles wide down there.

The river forms a barrier, a border (the King gave it to Maryland, up to the mean-low-water on the Virginia side), a highway, a larder, a playground, a target range for the Navy, and many things besides. It ties together where I work and where I live. It ties me to my ancestors who first sailed up the river; shipped their tobacco to England or, later, Baltimore on it; captained a bugeye on it; and in the case of my father, used to take the oxcart to the steamboat landing and go to Washington by way of the Potomac. If I can find the river, I can pretty much figure out where to go.

Blacksmithing Content: …and it’s ideal for bulk cargoes! G. Washington ran at least one (and I think several) ironworks in the Potomac area; and on one of the creeks on the upper Chesapeake Bay I actually found a bloomery built into the bank by the shore. When the choice is oxcart or boat or back, bulk goes best by boat! :-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/28/04 16:38:43 EST

Adrian: yes.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 12/28/04 17:53:24 EST

That really wasn't intended as a smart-alec answer, by the way. What are you trying to do with the silver? i.e. cast, solder, etc.?
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 12/28/04 17:56:31 EST

20 mule team borax is a fine flux for melting silver and also for silver solder. It is however a bit tuff to remove without the use of a pickel compound. I had great results from Sparex. This is a dry crystal acid compound that is mixed into water. Use copper tongs to remove the silver from the bath. The pickel works better if it is hot, so I use a pyrex dish, on a hot plate. After the silver is cooled enough to handle without distortation, just pop it into the hot pickel. Be aware that spatters are acid and therefore safety glasses, goggles or a face sheid are important. After a minute or so, swirl the silver around in the bath and then examine for clinging bits of borax. When the piece is a nice clean frosty appearence, rinse with plenty of water.
When using borax for solder flux, be aware that it will bubble up,and if using the snippets of solder technique, may fling the solder off. The are comercial sprays that can be used to reduce firescale, and ease flux removal, but the Sparex works fine. There are also anti-fluxs available that will prevent the errant flow of the solder. Rio Grande is a good source of the sparex ETC.
   ptree - Tuesday, 12/28/04 18:03:40 EST

Bob G. It's just a big, beeyootiful blacksmith's anvil, London (or English) pattern. It doesn't have a swelled horn. Swelled horns in the U.S. begin at the anvil drop or step thereby eliminating the cutting table. This anvil has a cutting table.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/28/04 19:09:26 EST

I plan to make a piece with flowers and leaves so some of the material I will use will be rather thin with some hard to reach areas to apply a protective coating. I would rather not use paint to protect the metal. The piece will be outside but it won't be getting direct rain, snow, or sun on it as it will be in an overhang area. I've heard that paste wax by itself won't protect for too long outdoors. Does anyone have a concoction that will help protect metal for a longer period of time? Two or so years? The longer the better really. Thanks.
   Chad - Tuesday, 12/28/04 20:14:20 EST


Borax is a fine flux for melting silver for casting, and is improved greatly by mixing it about 2:1 with boric acid. An inexpensive source of boric acid is old-fashioned roach powder. Read the label though, to be sure you're getting pure boric acid. If in doubt, buy from the druggist or chemist. You don't want to vaporize unknown poisons and breathe them.

Borax is barely adequate as a flux for silver soldering, but other products are much better. As ptree noted, borax will bubble up, often dislodging solder pallions or even the silver pieces sometimes. The next step up is anhydrous borax, but it is dofficult to keep it anhydrous as it is highly hygroscopic.

Borax mixed with boric acid is a better flux yet, and bubble much less, though it does still bubble some. It is easier to remove after soldering, also.

For soldering silver, I greatly prefer Battern's Self-pickling flux. Battern's is a liquid that has some fluorine compound in it as well as boric acid, and is about ten times as effective as borax and much easier to clean off after soldering. It also has the virue of sticking solder paillons in place when you heat it gently at first. As it is a liquid, you can assemble the silver pieces dry and then introduce the flux into the joints by capillary action, resulting in a much cleaner job.

The best method of removing fluxes is simply boiling them in water. It is slower than hot pickling, but it doesn't crud up your pickle vat, either. Keep the pickling solution for removing firescale, for which it is intended.

A 10% solution of sulfuric acid in water is the cheapest pickling solution you can get. Sparex #2 is sodium meta-bisulfite, essentially a half-neutralized sulfuric acid. It is less aggressive and therefore "safer", but you still need to take the same precautions with it that you would with sulfuric, so why not use what is cheaper?

I do not recommend putting hot silver into the pickle tank, as it is too likely to result in not only spatters and fumes, but also to leave a line at the point where the silver has cooled sufficiently to slow the action of the pickle to normal. Just plop it in cold and warm the pickle gently, about 140ºF. I've found that one of the crock pots with the ceramic pot makes a nice pickle tank/warmer at a much lower cost than those sold at jewelry supplies.

If you use steel tongs in the pickle, you will fglash plate your silver with a layer of copper. Copper tongs won't do this, and neither will the cheap plastic photo lab tongs. I use copper, as I've forgotten a few times and used the plastic ones on hot stuff, much to their detriment. :-)

I hope this answers your question. If you need more, just ask.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/28/04 20:16:03 EST

My granddaughter wants a cast iron bed with lots of curly ques, but I'm unable to find one. She has however found one that is made of steel. My question is...is the steel as good as the cast iron? Sincerely....Thank you for your help. Debra
   Debra - Tuesday, 12/28/04 20:23:38 EST


If made by a reputable manufactureer or individual, a steel bed wil be every bit as good as cast iron, and will be stronger, too.

When you say "curly ques", I'm guessing that you mean scrolls and embellishments. These are commonly done in forged steel by blacksmiths. Do a Google search for "Yellin Ironworkers", "forged headboards", and similar terms to see examples of what can be done. Check your local library for books by Dona Meilach, too. This will give you a feeling for what has been and is being done and what can be done. Then, I suggest you check the ABANA website (www.abana.org) to find a blacksmith in your area to work with. That way, you can get exactly what you want, made by a real craftsman (or woman).

Stay away from cheapo big-box items, whether cast iron or steel. They are low-priced, but the quality is usually even lower than the price.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/28/04 21:04:18 EST

MORE BEDS: See our book review page and the review of Beds and Bedroom Accessories (Il Letto e Dintorni). All these are forged NOT cast iron.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/28/04 21:22:38 EST


I attended a patina class at Capitol Metals awhile back. They have a product called "permalac" that is supposed to be a great longlasting clear coating. I just it on some exterior copper & steel door pulls that I installed a mopnth ago. So far so good. Their web site is www.capitolmetlas.com.
   dief - Tuesday, 12/28/04 23:47:06 EST

Greetings Gents,
I know this is way out of context but I have been trying for a few days to contact the site manager about getting a login nick for the slack tub pub with no reply, do I have to be a member to get in or even get a response? I appologise if I am being a bother but I really like this site and I want to be a part of it, a full member when I get the money. I just want to converse with the folks here first and see if I like the folks involved before I commit, is this aginst protocol for the site? All who read this fee free to email me with any comments at all, I welcome them all, for good or ill. Thank you for your time, good evening.

   Adam Scott - Wednesday, 12/29/04 01:26:57 EST

Debra-- Cast iron beds are okay, structurally, anyway, for supporting the weight of little kids. There's one in our family that has to be more than a century old. But the old-timer would never pass a Product Safety Commission inspection (too many sharp hooks and dangerous railings). But for grownups, "cast iron" beds have a major shortcoming in that the horizontal frame is usually supported by a single cast fitting at each corner that usually in time comes loose or breaks. Fixing it is possible but time-consuming and expensive. (I just did one for a client.) "Cast iron" beds are usually just steel pipe or tubing head and foot frames anyway, with cast iron doodads here and there. Go steel. Your great-great-grandchildren will thank you.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 12/29/04 01:40:42 EST


No, you don't need to be a mamber of CSI (the support group) to get admitted to the Slack Tub Pub. For some time now, the webmaster of this site, Jock Dempsey, has simply been so busy just keeping everything up and running that he has very little time left over to process Pub registrations. I believe that, at this point, he is a couple of months behind in getting folks registered.

Please be patient and it will happen. Unfortunately, many times his efforts are in vain because people haven't provided valid email addresses, or their mail server is overloaded and verification emails bounce. This still takes his time, but nothing is gained. Until Jock does get to you, please continue to enjoy the remainder of the site.

The Virtual Hammer-In is the section where we have a bit looser structure and off-topic posts are okay. We try to keep the Guru's Den confined pretty much to answering questions regarding metal working. If you have questions, jump in and ask them. That's how we all learn, here.

I feel confident that once you've been with us a bit, and finances permit, you'll elect to join CSI. This site is a tremendously valuable resource for anyone involved in metalsmithing and those of us whose names appear in "true blue" have made our committment to support it with our memberships. We welcome you and anyone else who cares to join us.

The Pub registration will happen, it just takes time.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/29/04 02:41:11 EST

KEN SCHARABOK: It's great to see you posting here and contributing so freely to us. Welcome! For those who aren't familiar with Ken, he is a long time (charter?) member of SOF&A,(those fine folks who give us the Quad State Blacksmith Conference) I've been seeing his smiling face there for over 26 years, and what advice he has to offer, is well worth our consideration.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 12/29/04 03:26:00 EST

Howdy to everyone out there, and a belated Merry Christmas as well. I have some questions that i could use some help with.
First, I have two LP burners for a gas forge, and right now i just have steel pipe w/o a flare for the nozzles, and they both work just fine. So would i really need to flare out the ends, or should i leave them as-is and make a flared shape in the refractory?
Second, I plan on sometime soon making a small hunting knife. I went to a welding/steel supplier and inquired about spring, tool, 5160, and a few other types of steel, but they had none in stock and wouldn't order any of it either, which confused and frustrated me. Then I fow the New Edge of The Anvil( an excellent book) and found that leaf springs from older GM's are 5160. If i were to scavenge some up, they would work, right? If not, what are some good types of places where i could get hold of high carbon and alloy steel?
Another thought: i plan on running my propane line across the ceiling to the forge station, and then using some hose to hook up the forge. Is that a good way to go? it seems i read something to that effect once upon a time, but i am not sure.
And finally: I will have an oxy-propane cutting torch in my shop. can i use acetylene equipment for the propane? I I'm kinda stumbling in the dark when it comes to that kind of stuff.
Once again, i really appreciate all the help you guys give out. This is a fantastic sight and is of great value tothe entire blacksmithing community.

Thanks for all the help!
   Blueboy - Wednesday, 12/29/04 04:35:32 EST

Adam Scott: So you want to see if you like the folks here? Judging from your post, you sound like a pompous ass. What if the folks here don't like you? This site is more of an information exchange than a chat room.
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 12/29/04 07:44:31 EST

Alright gentlemen let's keep it civil. We don't want to scare anyone away.
   - oil quench - Wednesday, 12/29/04 08:03:09 EST

Personally I don't see anything wrong with Adam's look-before-you buy-concept. About like test driving a car before purchase. I have been to some chat room type sites and fairly shortly was glad I hadn't paid for the privilege. I guess I am turning more and more prudish as I age, but I do not approve of on-line vulgarity, sexual references or personal attacks.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/29/04 08:57:22 EST

Blueboy, a good source for high carbon steels for knives
is ADMIRAL STEEL. They have a good stock of different sizes
in alloys such as 5160 and 1084, these are the alloys that I purchase for the knives that I make. The web address is
   ptpiddler - Wednesday, 12/29/04 09:31:40 EST

It just sounded a bit condecending. Perhaps I took it the wrong way. I didn't mean to step on anyone's sensitivities and not meant as a personal attack; besides, it isn't prudent to offend people who work woth hot iron...
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 12/29/04 09:42:10 EST

We appreciate your cordial request. Don't let one odd duck run you off. (Takes all kinds, as they say!)
   - Tom H - Wednesday, 12/29/04 09:56:12 EST

Debra: More on Cast Iron Beds:

If it's something that she'll grow out of (literally or decoratively) go ahead and hit the big-box stores.

If you're looking for antique, take Mile's comments to heart. We have a number up in the attic, which have been dragged up-and-down for various generations and it's sometimes tricky to assemble and disassemble them, especially if you're of the "bigger hammer" school of assembly. Consequently, any that you come across in an antique store should be carefully examined, and you might even ask that they assemble and disassemble it in front of you before purchase.

If you’re looking for something that will last and become a decent family heirloom, and something that can bear the personal touch of yours and your daughter’s tastes, I would seriously think about contacting several blacksmiths to see what they can do to translate your desires into a long-lasting reality.

Slack Tub Question:

No ice in the slack tub last night, so the heat wand underneath must be helping (plus it takes a while to cool down 44 gallons of water). So, is it better to have a lot of water warmed a little, or a little water warmed more, given the limited capability of a heat wand?

Sword Scabbard Chape Question:

As part of my campaign to de-clone* one of my Viking swords given to me as a gift I’ve turned to the scabbard. I had noted that the late Master Finnr had reworked his by “skeletonizing” the chape, cutting patters through the brass in the traditional fret pattern. However, I noted that when I started looking at mine, it was too small to fit any decent backing plate into. The chape is of relatively thin brass (this is one of those India-made reproductions) and measures 4 ¾” (120.7 mm) long, 1 ¾” (44.45 mm) wide, and ½” (12.7 mm) thick. I’m thinking of either trying a Dremmel tool on it, which might be tricky getting into corners (and I haven’t worked with Dremmels that much), or filling it full of lead (or maybe 95/5 tin solder) and trying to cut the pattern in with a chisel. I don’t see any solder line(s) so it looks like the entire chape was drawn. Suggestions for cutting or alternate plans for de-cloning the chape are appreciated.

* As in “authenticlone”: the tendency to manufacture endless identical copies of the same artifact (or the modern concept of said artifact), which isn’t really historically accurate in a hand-crafted civilization.

Cloudy and getting warmer on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/29/04 10:03:17 EST

Bruce, re: sword scabbard:

Sounds like this whole piece is of brass? You could fill it with Cerromelt (sp?), easier than solder. You could conceivably solder chased or cast decorative elements to it, but I don't know if that's period or not. With a little practice you should be able to skeletonize well with the Dremel, but it sounds like this scabbard may not have enough meat to hold up after such a procedure (not sure exactly what you are planning). Personally, I would go for soldered-on details with some antiquing compound. Props for fighting the authenticloning! Sometimes (often) a creative but not perfectly period piece is far better than a perfectly period clone.

Cool and beautiful in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 12/29/04 10:35:34 EST

Keeping a slack tub thawed.
Woo Hoo! finaly a question of Bruce's I feel I have enough experience to answer.
As much water warmed enough to keep from freezing is best in my opinion. If you haven't allready done so, make a lid of somesort to put on top your slacktub when your not in the shop. I just use a sheet of 6mm plywood.
   JimG - Wednesday, 12/29/04 10:55:19 EST

acetelyne regulators will work. my dads company uses propane because it is cheaper and he uses all acetelyne regulators. i dont know if you need a special acetelyne regulator or not. im hopefully going to be using a harris acetlyne regulator for my forge. the guru should be able to help even more than i can.
   chris - Wednesday, 12/29/04 11:04:57 EST

Slack water temperature. I can only quote from Bureau of Standards Monograph 88, 1966. If you're quenching tool steel to harden, both water and brine "should be kept cold - well below 60ºF". In my shop, I use the electric stock tank floating heaters (de-icers). They sell them at feed stores, and mine cost between $30.00 and $35.00 each.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/29/04 11:49:29 EST

DODGE, you asked way up on 12/28/04 if you can use 7018 to weld RR rail to mild steel. If someone has answered your question on this forum I missed it. The 7018 is excellent for that weld. The only thing is if the rail is already hardened you will need to preheat to somewhere around 400ºF before welding. If you plan to harden after welding I would have the metal at least somewhere close to 70ºF before striking an arc. Also, 7024 has been successfully used to make this type of weld joint. Unless you can crank the voltage way up on that mig welding machine I would stay with the 7018. The mig can be successfully welded, but it has be done properly. As always. Make sure that any surface that is to be welded is shiny clean. People will tell you that dirt, rust, paint and other junk can be welded through. Why would you want to take the chance of mixing that mess into your weld metal? Being a welding inspector I see x-rays of welds where people try to burn through stuff like that. Not all of it will dissappear, some of it mixes into the metal. If you're making power hammer dies I would vote for clean metal.
   - Rutterbush - Wednesday, 12/29/04 12:46:24 EST

Miles: Thank you, turns out Ms. Claus left a copy of said book. Have not finished the one on wagon making yet but I will be studying McCreight's carefully today. Thanks again!
   Bert Pelca - Wednesday, 12/29/04 12:47:27 EST

One odd duck run me off? nah, I am a U. S Marine, I dont even let two or three run me off!! Hehe. Ron I appreciate your post, as I said, for good or ill any responce would be welcome. For thoes who acctually read my post and replied so promptly, I thank you! Makes me like this place even more.
   stormcloud_2 AKA Adam Scott - Wednesday, 12/29/04 13:12:22 EST

Does any one know much on the construction of the box bellows? I saw plans and I was a bit confused as to where the intake flap should be placed? If the plunger needs to make a good seal it cant have the flap coming off the top or two sides for it will catch on it and go no further. I was thinking the flap could be countersunk but it seems that would break the seal, mabey the back pannel intake is better. I am working on theory so as to save $$ on materials, my Lance Corporal pay wont allow for many mistakes, heh. Thanks for reading!
   stormcloud_2 AKA Adam Scott - Wednesday, 12/29/04 13:20:22 EST

Adam Scott: You are welcome. Most people look before they leap. If you decide to stay - and I think you will - please do your best to come up with the CSI dues. What makes this site special (well one of the many things that makes it special) is that Jock Dempsey (guru) spends his time and money on it and that cant continue without support. So please, do your bit when the time comes :)

Acetylene regulators for propane. This is supposed to be a no-no because liquid propane is an agressive solvent. But it's common practice.
   adam - Wednesday, 12/29/04 13:25:04 EST

Stormcloud, I suppose you mean something like a Japanese bellows? There are good plans for one in Kapp/Yoshihara, "The Craft of the Japanese Sword", page 67.
It has a one-way flap valve on either end of the box, but the box has an extra chamber coming off the side, termed a "manifold", and in its center is the tuyere hole. There is a flap valve fore and aft of the box inside, leading to the manifold. A T-handle shaft, about the size of a broom handle, leads horizontally through a hole to the inside board where it is attached. The board is edge lined with fur for a seal, and it acts like a piston. If set up properly, you get exhaust from the tuyere on the push or the pull.

The Chinese also used a box bellows, and it is clearly shown in Rudolf Hommel's "China at Work", 1937, Bucks County Historical Society, pages 18-19-20. The one shown is quite similar to the Japanese bellows, except for having TWO round-section wooden rods attached to the T-handle and piston.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/29/04 14:11:32 EST

I have been researching this stuff for a while now, and am forming my plains for equipment building and finding a direction to work toward, along the way I have collected a few naging questions, I'm hoping someone here could answer them.
1. will a propane forge work in pattern welded damascus steel? my basic part of the furnace plain is to take an old gas cylinder or 2 and create a blast furnace of a long 4 or 6 inch round bore that can be fired in at working and heat treating angles.
will I need a longitudinal burrner array at a 90 dagree angle of incidance or will just getting the bore hot be good enough?
the main reasion I'm asking this is most volumes subjust only using a coke forge, seems messy and dirty to me, and it's outside the scope of my furnace experinace. but the main point seems to be an asemetrical heating efect thats inheriant to the coke fire

2. Is there a book that has an exstnecive focus on alloy steel (stainless) pattern welding? I know its a can of worms but I would eventualy like to give it a try after I have mastered more basic damascus.

anyway once I can get these questionos out of the way I can start to practive the relativly stright foward process of learning to forge weld and then on to the artistic side of

   Ocean - Wednesday, 12/29/04 14:34:55 EST

Thank you Frank, I will give the book a gander. I have always been interested in blade smithing as well so it should work out to my advantage in both cases.

-Adam Scott
   stormcloud_2 - Wednesday, 12/29/04 14:42:01 EST

i ran into a bit of a problem. the inlet on my acetelyne regulator is fine thread but the valve that hooks up to the propane tank is coarse. is there an adapter that i could by. i was thinking of maybe getting a short piece of copper pipe and solder a finethread male end on one side and a coarse thread female end on the other. is there an eaiser way to do it? other wise my forge is going together really well. im using 1/8 inch steel for the roof will that work? the kaowool should keep in cool enough not to deform right? thanks
   chris - Wednesday, 12/29/04 14:53:29 EST

Nagging Questions: Ocean, 99% of all modern Damascus comes from propane forges. Forges work more by reflected and atmospheric heat than by direct impingment. Hot spots from the flame are bad for big pieces which need to evenly soak up the heat. For specifics study the DETAILS of the Ron Reil page or the Michael Porter book.

See any book on making Damascus for alloy steels. All the high contrast laminated steels rely on nickle content and even pure nickle. The books by Jim Hrisoulas are some of the best. I'f I was getting into the field I would get all his books. See our Sword Making FAQ resources page for suggested references.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 15:05:37 EST


The coil springs form many of the late model GM cars are 5160 steel or similar. Coil springs are a bit easier to work with for forging a blade, in my opinion.

As for oyy/propane cutting: Yes, an acetylene regulator will work with propane, generally speaking. Some of the older ones had seal materials that didn't hold up that well with propane, but when they give up, the replacements will be newer materials that handle it fine. :-)

Propane WILL require that you get special propane tips for your cutting torch, however. As long as your torch is a Victor or a Smith or Oxweld, you shouldn't have any problems finding the tips. Once you try propane for cutting, and get used to it, you may find that you like it much better than acetylene. The tip-to-work distance is much less critical with propane than it is with acetylene. The lower cost is a plus, too.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/29/04 15:07:15 EST

Adam Scott:
Semper Fi, L/C. Old devil dog here :)There is a kings randsom worth of knowlege here. Also the Slack-Tub Pub. (live chat) Stop in for a chat when you can.
Scott Scheer aka "Dodge"
   Dodge - Wednesday, 12/29/04 15:10:22 EST

Thanks for the response. Already welded as I got impatient. That was al that was left on completeing the hammer. I did infact peheat to 400° according to the Tepmlistick I used ;)
Thanks again for you input though. I'm more confident about the results now! "Dodge"
   Dodge - Wednesday, 12/29/04 15:16:03 EST

Acetylene Fittings: Chris, The nipple on the regulator is replaceable. Go to a real welding supplier (not hardware store) and get the proper nipple or adaptor if it does not have a standard fitting.

Regulator fittings are one of those things that fit the rules sometimes and sometimes they do not. The RULE is that all fuel fittings will be LEFT handed. However, most commercial acetylene cylinders have RIGHT hand threads. This is because people that SHOULD know better get confused and force things the wrong direction. So acetylene cylinders have right hand threads. However, propane cylinders have left hand threads the way fuel threads are supposed to be. . .

There are TWO types of propane threads. The new ones are big external (male) square or acme threads. The old ones which the new fittings still have inside, were internal V threads. The old fittings would take a standard internal acetylene fuel nut/nipple.

The acetylene regulators in my shop have the standard male threaded nut with an adaptor to fit the right hand acetylene cylinders. To use the regulators on propane I just remove the adaptor.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 15:32:49 EST

Two inches of kayowool should keep the roof of your forge cool enough.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 15:35:26 EST

Hi all. Two questions.
First off, I'm working on my forge welding, just faggot welding a 1/2" bar, no big deal. The welds are getting better but there's still a ways to go. I've read that you have to put the piece into the fire at a point where most/all of the oxygen has been burned up. Where would that be? The coal I have is fairly dirty, but it does coke up, leaves no clinkers and very little ash, unfortunately it doesn't melt together to make a roof, I have to work with an open top fire, I've placed the pieces low down, high up, in the middle, and get scale at all points, is there something I'm supposed to be looking for?

Also, the iforge demos are awesome, will there be more in the future?
   MikeA - Wednesday, 12/29/04 15:48:52 EST

Box/Piston bellows: These are made a variety of ways and are fairly simple or complex if you want.

The simple ones have a tube or chamber running down the side into which the air exhusts. There is a simple flat (check) valve at each end of the passageway that seals against the body of the bellows. Intakes are in the end boards. This is a simple but rather ugly design

The more sophisticated and elegant looking box bellows are either square or cylindrical. The ports and valves are in the bottom. In a square box type there is a false bottom with intake and exhust passageways. The intake valves are in the bottom board just like a standard bellows and open below the bottom board of the piston area. The exhust can be controled by two valves or a single "flip flop" valve. This style keeps the air flow a mystery and the shape clean and neat. I have seen one of these in square and another in round.

There has been a lot of discussion about using linoleum or glass floors in these bellows to reduce friction. However the friction problem many people are running into is the result of building with plywood. . . Using plain pine boards with light varnish (or oil) and heavy wax will work fine. The seal material should be felt or felt over soft leather. Attach the top with screws so that it can be removed to clean and wax the interior and for other maintenance.

I've had wood setting in my shop since last summer to build one of these. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 15:59:12 EST


How deep is your fire? You may not have a deep enough fire to establish defined zones.
   eander4 - Wednesday, 12/29/04 16:04:18 EST

Forge Welding: Mike to get the most neutral atmosphere you may need a deeper fire than you are using. The blast is also critical. Under forge welding conditions the fire should have just enough blast to keep it hot. This is normally just a gentle breeze if the fire is in good condition. Scale is common in all forging operations. The trick is to get as little as possible. The less air the less the scale. Under the best conditions you can easily weld with no flux but in a dirty or scaling fire flux is almost mandatory.

If you are getting forge welds at all that is GOOD. Just take your time and practice. Remember that your fire only hits its peak about twice a day and you have the best chance of getting good welds then. Do a couple welds and then spend the rest of your time forging and observing the fire.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 16:07:44 EST

Forgewelding, MikeA.
What works for me is to have a nice deep fairly big fire, about 4-5 inches deep and maybe 6-8 inchs in dia (I'm holding my hands apart trying to visualise my fire) that is burning nice and clean I then put my allready hot, scarfed, fluxed metal ON,note, very important ON the fire, then rake some of the hot coals up from the sides over it, turn up the blast and bring to welding heat. I've found that by doing it this way, I can weld at a lower heat, much less chance of burning.
   JimG - Wednesday, 12/29/04 16:10:01 EST

eander4, that may be the issue. I'm working out of a small (20" dia.) riveting forge and my fire depth is usally around 3-5" from grate to the highest piece of coal in an open top fire. Should I really be piling it up?
   MikeA - Wednesday, 12/29/04 16:11:38 EST


Re-starting my quest for a respirator. It's been mentioned in the past, that only positive air pressure respirators (technical term PAPRs) are any good for us folks with beards. I've done a little research, and 3M has a load of models, varying in price from $500 to about $1500. Quite a range. The less-expensive units are self-contained "air-helmets", with filter, motor, etc all packed in a hardhat. The hat has a face plate, and an elastic shield that goes under the jaw. Ideal, I thought. No, said a 3M tech guy; for beards, you must get a $1200-$1500 model that has a protective shroud covering your shoulders!

OK, I really want to protect my lungs, and I can afford $1500. But my question: do I REALLY need to look like I'm ready for a Space Shuttle EVA to protect myself? I thought the idea with PAPRs was that you could have some around-the-jaw leakage, and you'd still be breathing clean air. The 3M guy has to cover his butt with OSHA regs, so he can't urge the effectiveness of the simpler gear. Anyone out there done research on PAPRs, and/or used them? Comments?

Eric T
   - Eric Thing - Wednesday, 12/29/04 16:22:24 EST

iForge Demos: These take a lot of time to prepare and setup. We are currently working on getting the CSI finances such that I can get some office help and then there will be more iForge demos as well as other articles.

This year we have had four new editions of the NEWS with hundreds of photos and 10 book reviews (with more coming) each with photos, scans, charts and links. We have also edited a handful of new FAQs as well as updating many others.

All this takes time and money. Even though we had help from a sponsor when we went to the ABANA conference we still had over a thousand dollars out of pocket expenses on top of the four days on the road. In past years when we have had the budget for it we have covered more conferences in our news and will cover more in the future. We have spent up to ten thousand dollars in one year traveling to conferences. This is done for our news and for those that cannot afford that type of travel and want to see what is going on. It also helps advertise these events so that they continue each year and new people attend them.

Joining CSI helps keep anvilfire going and increases the chances that we will keep producing and maintaining the best blacksmithing content on the Internet.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 16:26:11 EST

MikeA, when using my coal forge to weld I find a depth of at least 8" of coal works better for me. Sometimes sprinkling the coal with water will get it to make a cupola (roof) for you....you're on the right track if you are getting forge welds at all.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 12/29/04 16:27:42 EST

Eric T, I've been using a PAPR thingy that is unfortunately no longer made: the 3m (nee' Racal) powervisor, which has since been superceded by a fancier model. It ran around $250 new. The selling point for me was also the full beard thing. The downside to all the cheap (less than $500) ones is that they are not NIOSH certified for anything but nuisance dust. Check out some woodturning supply places, they will have the two current models. How much are we willing to spend on our lungs to keep 'em working? For me, anyway, as much as I can afford, since a new set costs several thousand dollars and some long and painful surgery...

I use my powervisor for anything that produces sanding/grinding dust, and have been very happy with it. It can't be retrofitted to take organic vapor cartriges, but I think the new one called the "Aircap" can be. Of course, the SCBA systems can be used in totally poisonous atmospheres, which can a plus!
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 12/29/04 16:54:12 EST

Thanks Guru and all for the replies and the encouragement, gettin' there, gettin' there. Now if I could just make a set of working tongs I'll feel like I've accomplished something.
Guru, I just joined CSI, so when's the next iforge demo? ;)
   MikeA - Wednesday, 12/29/04 17:02:43 EST

MikeA: Rivet forges were made to, well, heat up rivets. They were not designed as blacksmithing forges, although a lot of them have ended up as such. You might look around for a one-ton brake drum and make a firepot out of it.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/29/04 17:19:58 EST


As Ken pointed out, these forges weren't really designed with blacksmithing in mind. I've got a similar forge that I use as my "traveling unit" mainly because it's lightweight and easily mobile. One thing that I've done that has greatly improved the useability of this forge was to make a ring of clay around the tuyere (interior diameter 8-10 inches, roughly) to make a "duck's nest". This yields a decent "Pseudo firepot" to concentrate the heat in what is otherwise a frustratingly flat and shallow pan. It's the one change I've made that really seemed to improve my forge welding "mojo" when using it. Other than that, I'd say "pile on the coal" as JimG suggested. An open-topped fire is an invitation to outside air, oxidation and a crummy weld.

Good luck!

   eander4 - Wednesday, 12/29/04 18:11:46 EST

I need some thoughts on reshaping modern files. I have a notion to reshape a file to a smaller profile but I don't want to torch the hardness out of it. I want to shorten, narrow and taper a file. Any ideas>
   jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 12/29/04 19:02:44 EST

Acetylene regulators for propane:

Acetone (the liquid in which acetylene is dissolved in acet cylinders) and propane are both aggressive solvents. The best regulators are "fuel gas" regulators, and will work for propane and acetylene both. I have one on my forge that has been used for propane for about six years. It still looks brand new and works like a dream. It will probably work for propylene (brazing fuel) too, if I ever buy a tank of that. Anyway, just make sure that it says that it will work with propane in the manual. That's your best bet :)

Overcast and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 12/29/04 19:26:16 EST

Would anybody feel like hazarding a guess as to wether an old deepfryer (circa 1960 give or take) could be simply converted into a salt pot? It stil works, and all, but my boss is talking about replacing it with a new one. The tub bit of it looks to be made out of 18 GA Stainless, probably 304, knowing kitchen equipment guys.
   - HavokTD - Wednesday, 12/29/04 19:47:03 EST

Alan L:

Is the Powervisor you mentioned basically a hat, transparent faceplate, and under-the-chin shield? (With powered air supply, of course.) If so, that's been superseded by a model called the Airstream, which was made by Racal, a company that has lately been gobbled by 3M. It's about $700, now. I have no problem with that price, but that is the kind of model that the 3M guy said was no good for beards, by OSHA regs. According to 3M, bearded folk have to wear an air helmet with a shoulder shroud that makes you look like a bio warfare specialist, and costs over $1400, with all accessories.

When you got the Powervisor, did it come with any advisory as to its effectiveness with facial hair?

Eric T
   - Eric Thing - Wednesday, 12/29/04 20:04:14 EST

Acetylene threads:

So Called "Commercial Acetylene" cylinders have right-hand threads. My first regulator was that way. Most suppliers, in most parts of the US now use Compressed Gas Associaion (CGA) acetylene connections which are left hand and the same as on propane.

John Odom
   John Odom - Wednesday, 12/29/04 20:56:06 EST

Jerry Crawford: You can't reshape files without taking the hardness out.

Remember that untill 150 years ago files were made by hand. You can forge a file to a new shape, and cut new teeth by hand and then harden. This is very timeconsuming and toot me three tries to get one good file the shape I needed.

A perhaps better route is to find a file the shape you need. There are lots of suppliers of specialty files. A greater variety is available today than ever before, but there are fewer options available in retail hardware stores than there were even a few years ago.

What shape do you need?

John Odom
   John Odom - Wednesday, 12/29/04 21:02:08 EST

There may be a hose issue when using acetylene equipment with propane. Talk to a welding supply house to determine if your hose is suitable.
   djhammerd - Wednesday, 12/29/04 21:02:34 EST

Jerry Crawford: You can find modern files in any shape you need for cheaper than the heartbreak of trying to reforge them. For the best of the best, do a search for Grobet files.

Eric Thing:

My powervisor is a sort of hardhat-suspension skeleton with a little fan and filter and battery mechanism above what is basically a clear full face shield equipped with a neoprene gasket that fits around beards. It has been repalced by the Airstream, for which you seem to be getting the giant sideways screw. They run about $300 from Woodcraft, and I'm sure you can find them cheaper elsewhere.

I am sure OSHA hates them, as they abhor any hair whatsoever. The filters they have at the local woodcraft store for the airstream are just little pad-like things, again not NIOSH approved for anything but nuisance duat. I get the distinct feeling that nobody wants to give any kind of liability waiver for any curtain-type positive pressure system where an airtight seal is not assured by the design.

It's another case of uncommon sense versus the great puddle of suppurating stupidity that is modern humanity. 3m will certainly want to watch their collective back for any respirator system over which they can't have firm control, and I don't blame them.

Everyone: go smack a sleazy lawyer if this annoys you. Congratulate a good one if you can find one.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 12/29/04 21:12:25 EST

MikeA: I still wouldn't rule out a brake drum. Depending on the tuyere of your rivet forge the axle hole in it may just sit on top of its ash grate. Consider using it for forge welding and then the regular rivet forge for your other work.

Someone asked me how to make an el-cheapo coal forge. What I recommended was a 14" wheel rim (the emergency tire size) without the tire, of course. Weld on a couple of bars under the axle hole for a grate. It nestles nicely on a 5-gallon metal bucket. Attach a small squirrel cage blower to the side of the bucket and you have 'an el-cheapo coal forge'.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/29/04 21:29:38 EST

Respiratory Equipment: IF you guys pick a maker and model number drop me a line. I have a wholesale account at a safety equipment outfit that carries a wide line of equipment and I MAY be able to get you a deal. No promisses.

On the other hand. If I was doing a bunch of buffing/grinding I think I would rig up my own. Having worked in the Nuclear industry I have used some VERY expensive respiratory gear and I can not use suffificent explictives to say how bad it is. The big problem is that they are designed to be portable and this restricts the filter size, air flow, motor HP etc, etc. . . They are HOT, inefficeint and the air flow low enough that you usualy end up rebreathing a LOT of your own exhust. . . The added heat and respiratory stress is a KNOWN killer. All this on top of being expensive.

A home built deal would start with a LARGE filter like an air cleaner for an old V-8 of American iron. Use that to filter FRESH air going to a small forge blower. Be sure the blower is sealed around the shaft side OR that air exhusts from this location.

Use a 3" flexible hose festooned across a light weight jib and trolley that covers your work area. Drop the hose to an enclosed mask like an old sand blaster's rig. The high volume air will create enough positive pressure that a very loose fitting hood (made of cloth) will assure fresh air AND keep you cool. Even a small blower will probably need an air gate to keep from blowing the rig off your head.

The advantages to this system are:

1) Very large relatively inexpensive filter.
2) Large durable inexpensive AC blower.
3) Sufficient air to both cool and assure clean air.
4) Overhead hose drop is convienient and makes the working end very light weight.
5) The whole rig should cost less than $250 in hardware parts and pieces. Replacements are readily available and unlikely to become obsolete or non-replaceable in a few years as are the expensive approved units. . . .

Disadvantage: Its not approved by anyone except the builder/user.

Remember the #1 industrial safety rule:

YOU are the one that is the most responsible for your own safety.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 22:01:32 EST

Hand Made and Fancy Files: I have a video of the last filecutter in England hand cutting a file. It is amazingly fast when done by an experianced cutter. Of course experts make everything LOOK easy. . . Also note that many of the fancier "Swiss" riflers and such are still hand cut, probably in India and Pakistan.

One day I would like to have time to setup a file cutter's bench and tools and make a few just to be able to say I have done so. One of the tricks is the shape of the short trangular chisle that us used. The edge is ground so that it is rested against the previous cut for alignment. That is how the teeth are cut so beautifully parallel by hand. . .

Bent files by Jock Dempsey - Click for detail
I have modified common files for wood and stone carving simply by heating them with a torch and bending them. I oil quenched immediately and used as-is. Stub ends of files are great for this purpose because they get little wear. Here I have made a "spoon" file by bending a half round file.

Bent files by Jock Dempsey - Click for detail This hemispherical shape is VERY handy. The file was heated using a cutting torch, bent, and cut off with the torch and quenched in about the time it took to write this sentence. Afterwards the end was ground smooth. The handle is a scrap of Dogwood.

I have also made V rifflers this way from common triangular files. Most of these were made at my brother's request. Being a typical starving artist at the time we made a bunch of his carving tools on the cheap. Any time I made one for him I made one for myself.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 22:30:33 EST

NOTE: The above photos are for an iForge demo that VI-copper and I had been working on. The stumbling block had been the copyright on printed images. I recently purchased a 1926 catalog that is out of copyright that has most of the images we need to complete the demo. . . Some will still need to be drawn. Another photo:
File collection - photo by Jock Dempsey
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/29/04 22:51:01 EST

On the topic of files:

I decided to set down my trusty angle grinder for a bit the other day and make some tools by filing. the pointers you guys posted a few weeks back helped a TON! Thanks all.
   - HavokTD - Wednesday, 12/29/04 23:31:37 EST

Jock I can't see how a file cutters chisel would look, can you draw a picture? I would also like to cut a few files for historical renactment purposes:-) Have been entertaining the idea for a few years, have a nice piece of steel I got from ptree that would make an excellent cuttlers hammer, or with a little more work a file cutters hammer:-) another project for my copious free time;-) but a pic of the chisel would get me a little closer:-)
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 12/29/04 23:37:18 EST

Havok Files are way better than an angle grinder, you get to watch your mistakes with a file and then throw something across the room. With the angle grinder you never even get a chance to see the mistake, and then something is flung across the room;-)

Power tools help you make mistakes bigger and faster, with hand tools the mistakes are slower, and hopefully smaller;-)

The truth hurts, that is why it is funny... :-)
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 12/29/04 23:43:24 EST


I purchased a post leg vice that has a missing spring. What should I use to make a new one?

   viderefarm - Thursday, 12/30/04 00:09:29 EST

viderefarm, Most auto leaf springs work, and many have enough silicon and manganese that you can normalize them and they will still have enough spring for a leg vise. The edges of the cut section should be slightly radiused and smoothed.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/30/04 00:17:59 EST

re: Respirators - Eric, I'll step out on a limb - note I have a beard, and currently do not use a respirator, but I'm a hobby smith. One company I worked for milled high carbon ferochrome, ferro manganese, and electrolytic chromium - respirators were required for that area. I had to cut back the beard to a small goatee and get a full face respirator similar to a self contained breathing aparatus for rescue in confined space (that was due to facial size). With that I passed the company's seal tests for respirators. All seal surfaces were clean shaven.

The other option that they used before OSHA prevented it was to seal the respirators to the beard with liberal application of vaseline. They claimed they had documentation it worked, but it had been forbidden by OSHA before I got there so I never tried it. By the way, this was a safety concious company - they are the only company I've seen shut down a major piece of production equipment due to safety concerns (which I believe were relatively minor) in over 30 years of working in industry.

Note: I'm not recommending it, just passing along information. Personally, I think I'd sooner shave than load my beard with vaseline everyday.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 12/30/04 00:22:56 EST

Sorry to fire off a three shot burst into the crowd, but... ;-)

The other thing you can do with a rivet forge is stack a few bricks in it, this way you can make it more like a side blast tunnel forge, except for being bottom blown of course:-) Hard fire brick will hold up the best, but DRY regular bricks shouldn't spall TOO badly, and should work once or twice. Rick Furrier? did his dirt to dagger steel making class at QUAD State two years ago with a box bellows blown sideblast tunnel forge that he built out of stacked bricks, and used charcoalto fire. VERY nice demo:-) Learned an aweful lot:-) Made my own blister steel and shear steel the next weekend at my hammer in (I had been planning on doing that, but Rick's class was a big help:-)
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 12/30/04 00:31:21 EST

Files - yep, gents Grobet & Auriou hand cut files are top drawer tools but they are also top prices. I was trying to figure out how to make a narrower shape out of a Nicholson 49 & 50. Guess I need to collect more coke cans. As always Guru has some good imput and feeds my imagination.Heat, bend, oil quench
   jerry Crawford - Thursday, 12/30/04 00:44:19 EST


The box bellows question has been nagging me all day because I remembered seeing a sketch of one, but not where I'd seen it. Today it hit me. www.keenjunk.com/sketchbk/ak90315a.htm will link you to the picture, but you might want to hurry. The site is slated to go down at the end of the year. If you don't get there in time, email me and I'll send you a copy that I preserved for personal use.

   eander4 - Thursday, 12/30/04 02:37:01 EST

Thanks Eric for the link, I will follow it and see if I can figure out a way to make one. I was just looking at a metal juice can I emptied earlier today, its not big enoug to do much with but it is cheap and if I mess it up, no real loss but if it works then I have an edge, a mental understanding and a blueprint to go on. OOrah Dodge, all killer, no filler!

Adam Scott
   stormcloud_2 - Thursday, 12/30/04 03:35:33 EST

Being hairy as well, the problem's familiar.
Liability aside, if your mask maintains positive pressure when you inhale, then there's not a problem as long as the unit is supplying clean air.
I sometimes take some clean 1" plastic tubing and run it 20' upwind with a squirrel cage on the end. Then some of that bellows type flex tubing to an old rubber facemask. There is plenty of leakage in excess of what i can inhale and it works fine.
More commonly, i take the mouthpiece from a diving snorkel and clamp it directly to a respirator cartridge...inhale through my mouth, exhale out my nose....change cartridges often. It's the minimum solution and has served me well since i came up with it 25 years or so ago.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 12/30/04 04:31:22 EST

$1500 for a resperator.... $2.99 for a razor.... let me think for .025 of a second about that one...
   - HavokTD - Thursday, 12/30/04 04:35:18 EST

not that I can afford 1500, but that sounds a better choice to
me. But then again I am an odd duck
   Ralph - Thursday, 12/30/04 04:58:53 EST

thank for the advice concerning borax as silver flux,i'm in the process of making jewelry
   adrian - Thursday, 12/30/04 06:51:32 EST

Viderfarm: I have made a couple of replacement legvise springs out of hot rolled, 1/4" x 1" x 10" (as I recall). Trick is to make a V rather than the traditional slight S. Heat one end, put in a vise and make a lip to catch at the top of your bracket. Now try to heat up just the area in the middle (oxy/ace torch works well here) and bend into a V shape with the lip towards the center. Leave the V open. a bit more than 1" wider than the distance between the front and back legs where the top will touch. Now quench the bend. Way I had it explained to me is the V provides about three times the strength/spring of the slightly S when using other than spring steel.

Leaf springs are hard to find these days since so many vehicles are heading to the foundries quickly due to the high price of scrap iron. eBay auction #6142787231 has 1/4" x 2 1/2" x 12" leaf spring sections listed.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/30/04 07:36:20 EST

Adam Scott: the misinterpretation is my fault. I apologize. Odd duck..Guess it fits
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 12/30/04 07:46:10 EST


There is a nice piece about the manufacture of files at:


John Odom
   John Odom - Thursday, 12/30/04 10:22:10 EST

HavokTD, if you'd ever seen me without a beard you'd think $1500 was a very reasonable price to pay...
   Alan-L - Thursday, 12/30/04 11:02:30 EST

Ken and Vidrerefarm, May I respond? Leaf springs are not difficult to find in my town, and I'm in the "vast wasteland" of New Mexico.

There is a reason for the mild S-shape on the spring. There is less throw at the bottom of the movable leg than near the top. Otherwise, they wouldn't have made them that way for such a long period. I have only seen a couple of manufactured vises with V-shaped springs, and they were large Columbians, circa 1940's. I don't know why Columbian would have done that after all those years of making them the other way.

If the spring MUST BE mild steel, one could hammer on the S-shape cold a little bit, and that should impart some resistance.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/30/04 11:26:20 EST

No problem Ron. I dont get bruised easily, heh. No harm, no foul.
Adam Scott
   stormcloud_2 - Thursday, 12/30/04 12:42:07 EST

A slightly more expensive source of air for a air helmet is to use a oil less compressor and one of those venturi thingys that blows both hot and cold, I have used these for sandblasting and being able to control the temperature on a hot day is a life saver, also the overpressure in the helmet sure keeps your face clean. Also dragging that 1/2 inch airline around is much easier than a vacuum cleaner hose.

We had a old boilermakers rig, that was a mask, vacuum cleaner hose, and a hand cranked blower, the joke in the shop was that if the foreman ever used it, he better take all the paychecks with him to make sure that the crank keep getting turned.
   Hudson - Thursday, 12/30/04 13:14:42 EST

Does anyone have any experience with HAND forging the H13 tool steel (2344)?
Is it a feasible possibility for a single man to forge this kind of metal (30 mm) using a 1500 gr. hammer?
   Sharon - Thursday, 12/30/04 13:41:21 EST

Okay so I have my steel, I am getting my firepot today, after final measurements to make sure its the size I made my plans from I will start cutting and putting everything together. I went to home depot for some bolts to do so and it came down between Galvanized or Zinc. Can anyone sugest on for the construction of a forge?

Now heres a grinding question. I have a nice 10,000 rpm, 6amp Milwake grinder. Birthday present from the folks. I was wondering what kind of disk is used for sanding and finishing work? I have been looking at home depot and I can't seem what I need. I have seen on tv people using a flexible grinding disk of some sorts to finish work. Does anyone know what I am refering to? I could realy use some help!
   Michael Gora - Thursday, 12/30/04 14:28:32 EST

Hardie Holes and Tool Fit: A friend just dropped by out of the blue and gave me an anvil from his forklift repair shop the other day. I'm guessing it is about a 200#'er. Right now I'm more interested in using than identifying it so in measuring the hardie hole w/ box tubing I find it is 1.25" by something a smidge less than 1.25". I want to make and use some tools.

My questions are:
1) Should I make the holders from 1.25" square stock?
2) Should I gind to fit or do I have to take them stock to a machine shop?
3) How tightly should the tool holder fit the hole? I read somewhere you can break the tail off an anvil by wedging too large or tight a tool in the hole and I don't want to go back to the RR track anvil

Thnx in advance.
   Bert Pelca - Thursday, 12/30/04 14:55:07 EST

Bert: I would suggest making some shims for the hardy hole out of angle iron. Cut two lengths of say 1" angle iron 3" long. Put in a vise and cut down the corner 1". Now bend both ears over. To use drop one in opposite corners, thus reducing the hardy hole from 1 1/4" x 1 1/4-ish" to 1" x 1-ish". From what I have seen 1" is the most common hardy shank size. If tight, you can grind off a bit of the angle iron inside the hardy hole as needed.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/30/04 15:09:41 EST

Sharon, I've forged 14 mm round H13, but no larger. If a guy is stout enough and swings hard enough, he could forge 30 mm, but he might need a larger hammer, maybe between 1800 and 2800 grams, and a heavy anvil. It's best to have a striker. Do you have the forging and heat treatment specifications? H13 has a limited forging range, between 1150ºC and 900ºC.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/30/04 15:21:27 EST


You'll probably never find anything to fit that size f hardy hole. You should probably just send the anvil over to my house, and I'll see that it's properly disposed of. (grin)

I've got one anvil with a larger hardy hole, and I've made spacers out of angle iron to make up the difference in size. Basically, the spacer is just a 3" piece of angle iron split at one end and the spilts folded back to keep the spacer from falling through to the ground. The size of angle iron you need depends on the shaft on a particular tool, and of course, the size of the hole. I shaft my tools with 1" box tubing and use the spacers for the odd sized hardy holes, as I am always looking for that next great anvil, and who knows what size that hardy will be.

I recommend you avoid using solid stock for shafts when making tools. Box tubing works just as well, and is less likely to wedge in and break off the heel of your anvil.

My 2¢ worth,
   eander4 - Thursday, 12/30/04 15:23:59 EST

You know, even as I was typing, I thought "Hmm, maybe I should refresh the page 'cause if Ken see's that question, he'll be thinking the same thing and he'll beat me to the punch." I guess I should listen to my inner voice next time! (grin)
   eander4 - Thursday, 12/30/04 15:33:11 EST

Michael Gora,

Galvanized is zinc and zinc is zinc. It doesn't amtter much which you use. Hot-dipped galvanizing will be more durable than zinc-plated. Neither one will retain its zinc for long in a firepot, though.

On a 10K rpm grinder, no sanding disc works as well as it would if run slower. The rubber backing pads have a tendency to disintegrate at about that speed in some cases. For irregular surfaces, I use flap discs, as they will conform to the surface somewhat. You can also get "flexible" grinding discs from places like MSC or McMaster-Carr. They aren't real flexible, but they do flex a few degrees.

You can get a rubber backing pad for your grinder that will allow you to use autobody type "greenback" discs on it, but you MUST be sure the pad is rated for that speed. DO NOT use a larger diameter than the grinder is rated for, (probably 4 or 4-1/2" at that speed), or the surface speed gets too high and things disintegrate.

If you invest about twenty bucks in a router speed control from Harbor Freight, then you can dial the speed of your grinder down, which will markedly increase the life of your sanding supplies. Heat usually destroys them by breaking down the adhesive/binders.

Home Depot, the local department store and tool boutique are all about equal in not having decent consumables for disc grinders. Abrasives are a science, and you need to buy from an industrial supplier or manufacturer. Stick with top brand names, too. Norton, Behr-Manning,3-M, etc. The cheap stuff will just cause you grief and maybe injury. Again, never, ever over-tool the tool. Use only the designated size discs or smaller.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/30/04 15:37:02 EST

Got a question about a Roto Zip rotary tool.
I was using a 7/16" ball shaped rotary file w/ 1/4" shank in a 1/2" hole drilled through mild steel plate. As will often happen in this type scenario, the rotary file bit into the wall of the hole and began to chatter. Before I could get it shut off, the brushes were belching sparks and smoke and the speed went from 10,000 rpm to about 10 rpm. (please don't laugh;-)). My question is this: Can these tools be repaired? or would it be cheaper to buy another one and remember that it wasn't designed to be a die grinder for metal work? But then, why do they supply a 1/4" shank adapter if not for use by resourcful metal worker?? -Dodge
   Dodge - Thursday, 12/30/04 16:07:18 EST

I want to second the motion on getting abrasives from an industrial or welding supplier. Make sure that the atachment (wheel, brush, disk or whatever) is rated for the grinder's speed. It used to be that things that fit a 5/8-11 spindle were only rated 6,000 rpm and higher rater things were for some other thread. Now fast small grinders are made in 5/8-11 and if you put an atachment made for a slow grinder on a fast one there is hell to pay! I have seen terrible injuries from this cause. Even so I wear a leather apron since I saw a guy who had destroyed his private parts by mis-matching the grinder and wheel!

John Odom
   John Odom - Thursday, 12/30/04 16:10:30 EST

Rotary Repair: Dodge, Probably not. I had a similar thing happen to a HD Black and Decker electric die grinder. I had used the tool for years on various projects and it WAS quite durable. However, I got it caught in a hole for just a moment and the tool "walked" areound the hole at full speed a couple times. The centrifugal force at the end ABOVE where I was holdiong it was so severe that it ripped the motor loose from the gear box and bent the shart.

This tool was a GOOD die grinder and I had used on on many metalworking jobs over a period of years. But this ONE instance, which happened to be in wood broke the tool in two. It only took an instant and I was not bearing down hard on the tool. In fact, if I had had a tighter grip it MIGHT not have happened. But it did, and the tool was wrecked beyond affordable repair.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/30/04 16:40:32 EST

Wheels for Grinder: I'll assume that at that speed the grinder is one of those little 4-1/2" jobs. FIRST, remember this is a light duty tool. It is NOT the same as the big 7" grinders used to clean up torch cut plate and casting flash in big shops. It is a small job clean up tool. If you have big jobs, get a big grinder because the little one will not last long.

Second, ALWAYS check the RPM rating of any wheels you use. Just because it fits doesn't means it is rated for your grinder. Most wheels should be good for a thousand RPM reater or more than the device. Little die grinders go 40,000 RPM and MANY wheels that fit are made for drills that go less than 3,000. . . . Buy quality wheels as mentioned above.

There are three VERY handy wheels for these tools. The most useful it the flat cut flap wheel. They are both agressive and cut smooth. They wear rapidly. The next is the common resinoid wheel. You want the fast cutting variety NOT the slow cutting long lasting ones. Then there are the narrow cut off wheels. These are very handy however they have a VERY short life and easily hang in notches. If they hang and get nicked or cracked scrap it NOW.

As always, NEVER remove the guard. Always adjust the guard so that it faces YOU as best as possible and always wear safety glasses. AND it doesn't hurt to wear a leather apron (as armour) and a full face shield in the event of kick back.

   - guru - Thursday, 12/30/04 16:59:49 EST

I was wondering to what extent galvanized metal eventually rusts. The reason being that I purchased some scrap metal in the form of drain grates from work. There was a light coating of rust on them, so I thought at first that they would be alright to forge. As I was cutting and then latter forging some of this metal I noticed a sweet smell coming from the metal, which makes me wonder if this is indeed galvanized steel. Needless to say I stopped forging it immediately. What do you guys make of this? Should I be worried or am I making something of nothing? Thank you very much.
J.L. Duncan
   J. L. Duncan - Thursday, 12/30/04 19:40:32 EST

J.L.Duncan: Most steel drain grates are galvanized. If it has rusted the galvaniseing under the rust is mostly if not entirely gone. Those grates often had a lot of zinc in the corners, though.
   John Odom - Thursday, 12/30/04 20:10:56 EST

I personally like my hardie tools to be just a bit undersized. ( loose but just barely) If the shoulder ( the part sitting on the anvil) is wide enought it will be fairly steady.
And I do not worry as much about breaking the heal off my anvil.
   Ralph - Thursday, 12/30/04 20:37:05 EST

re forginf H-13. Does it have to be a single man? Or could a married man forge it too.(smile)
I tried forging H-13 once and decided the next time will be once I have a power hammer.
   Ralph - Thursday, 12/30/04 20:38:17 EST

On grinding wheels and handheld grinders.
At my present company, 2(thats two) deaths have occured over the years from grinding wheels failing.One was a 7" handheld, and the other was a pedestal grinder with a emory wheel.
The reason the OSHA has so much in the reg's about grinders is that these do fail regularly. With any handheld grinder, do as the Guru stated, and adjust that guard. Check those RPM's, and check those wheels. Do not buy wheels from offshore. Ignore those flea market 10 for $6 wheels. Run the grinder with the wheel aimed in a safe direction each day when you start for a minute. Wear good safety glasses, and a face sheild to protect your face.
For pedestal grinders, buy the good wheels, and dress them to true. Start the day by starting the grinder, and step away for a minute. As the Guru noted, don't grind items that are too large. Wear safety glasses, and a face sheild.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/30/04 20:44:05 EST

On using a automotive filter for a breathing application, be aware that these were designed to catch particles that are quite large compared to particles that will damage your lungs and are not very effecient. I would be amazed if an automotive filter was better than about 50% for say 3 micron. For reference, the asbestos fibers that tend to lodge and cause harm are about 1 by 4 micron. A HEPA filter is 99.97% effecient at .3 micron.(NIOSH type rating) the "hepa" filters for you standard wet/dry vac are not rated.
For the more hirsute among us, A.O. Safety makes an interesting side to side pleated nusiance dust mask. as it fits more under the nose and above the chin beard line of most beards, I think it might suit better. Again, this is a nusiance dust mask only.
If one is dealing with true hazards, a NIOSH rated system, worn as rated is the only safe way to proceed. I think Pawpaw, and most of the ARMY vets will agree that fitting a mask to keep out stuff takes a very good seal. They prove that the masks work by taking every ARMY basic trainee thru a gas chamber with CS tear gas in the chamber. A full face mask, with a fairly fresh shave is required to seal. A half mask respirator is very difficult to fit and seal on many. Air leaks around the nose or chin. If you are wearing a respirator, it needs to seal or it is just a false security.

By the way, to prove how well the mask works in the gas chamber, you have to remove it and state you serial number, then flee the chamber.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/30/04 20:56:09 EST

Hrm thanks for the help on the grinder guys those sotires will definatly make me pay some more atention to the tool. (Milwake 10,000rpm 8.5amp). As far as large jobs, the biggest thing I used it for was cleaning up the face of my anvil and its horn a bit. All my disks where 10,000rpm and up rated. Kept the face guard on at all times. As far as grinding disks for buffing I found a really intersting one. I stopped by the local hardware store and I found something called a "Flap Disc" made by Norton. It actualy resembles a stack of high grit sand paper layred on itself in an off set spiral pattern.It comes in multiple grits and its ratted to 13,000 rpm. Tried it out on the anvil when I came home and it did a great job getting out the coarser grinding marks.
   Michael Gora - Thursday, 12/30/04 21:45:28 EST

Guru Let me add an amen to the request for a drawing of the file cutting chisel. I watched a German TV program showing a file being cut by hand and I could not believe that a person could set a chisel, hit it an accurate blow and then move and set it for the next blow in less than a second, but that was what the fellow was doing and got good results. John Odom's site on file making verified that as well.

Oh yes -- what were those wooden things that were on the ends of some of the files you showed? (Huge Jackass-eating-briars grin)
   - J. Myers - Thursday, 12/30/04 21:57:19 EST


Thanks for the input on respirators. Guru, you've given me extra food for thought; I never considered the fact that all the $$$ might buy a respirator with inadequate airflow anyway. I have a small (1/25 hp) AC blower, maybe could rig up a plastic hose to a hood of some kind. May use fresh air from outside, instead of a filter. My shop has positive pressure from a 600 CFM cooler, anyway, and I have a "dust sucker" rig taking the bulk of the heavier stuff away from the grinders (hopefully). We shall see.

Alan L: I understand. My wife is NEVER going to see me without a beard!

   - Eric Thing - Thursday, 12/30/04 22:50:26 EST

Bert Pelca, As a blacksmith, I find your three questions difficult to address. In forging hardy tools, I draw the shank to size from oversized stock on the power hammer obtaining a slightly imperfect shoulder. Then I guesstimate where to cut on the parent stock for the tool in question. After cropping, I heat the whole tool and upset it in the hardy hole like a giant rivet; this cleans up the shoulder. Then I forge the tool to shape. To have the tools machined might be cost prohibitive. To have the tools forged as I do might be cost prohibitive. Ralph's suggestion of the hardy shank being just barely undersized is good; better that than wedging it in the hole. Action yields reaction. As for shimming for undersized shanks, the angle iron idea is sound. You only need one angle iron per hardy hole. For example, if the hole is 1¼" square and you use one ¼" thick angle iron, the hole will wind up being 1" square.

On old forged anvils, the holes are usually out-of-square and odd sized.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/30/04 23:13:59 EST

Auto Filters: Please note I said the intake should be FREASH air (from outdoors and out of the dust generation area). The filter is there to keep out large debris, insects and other things that you do not want flying into ones face.

The other way to handle the dust problem is serious exhust. However, Eric is working in a hot location where AC is the rule and he does not want to end up air-conditioning the Arizona desert. . . My goal is to move somewhere that ventilation is not a problem year round. . .
   - guru - Friday, 12/31/04 00:56:28 EST

File Cutters Chisel drawn by Jock Dempsey 12/31/2004

File Cutter's Chisel: These are short an triangular. They are thick at the head to make a rounded striking end and are shaped as shown. Minor variations in the grind angle effect how the chisel cuts.

Starting the first cut at the proper angle is critical. The chisel is then rested against the previous cut for the next. The depth of cut is controled by how hard the cutter strikes the blow and this is varied somewhat by the size of the hammer used. The spacing of the teeth is created by the depth of cut and size of tooth. The deeper the cut and larger the tooth and greater the spacing. Cutting progresses about as fast as the cutter can strike. This is the art of hand cutting.

The hammer has an acutely angled and curved handle so that the body of the hammer almost parallels the cutter's grip on the handle. For common files a heavy hammer is used in the 4-1/2 to 5 pound (2000 to 2300g) range. For small files a lighter 3-1/2 pound (1600g) hammer is used. The striking surface of the hammer is flat and is kept dressed on a piece of emery paper to remove work polishing and reduce slipping.

The file cutters bench contains a heavy anvil of 200 pounds or more that is little more than a rectangular block. It is supported with a benchtop roughly level or an inch below it. Under the bench is a board or peddle which has leather thongs looped around it and through the bench. These pass over the anvil so that the file cutter can hold the file blank down with his foot on the peddle.

Next to the anvil on the bench is a steel bar raised off the surface of the bench top held down with two heavy bolts and bushings. This loop is used to straighten the file as it is cut as the blank tends to curl up on the cut side. When cutting double sided files a pad of zinc is used to protect the newly cut teeth on the back side.

When double cutting a file the first pass is flattened with a couple strokes of a file before the second pass. Very little is recorded about how fancy files and rifflers are cut. These are still trade secrets of the file cutters. However, with some practice I am sure that anyone with persistance could figure it out.

   - guru - Friday, 12/31/04 02:09:38 EST

"$1500 for a resperator.... $2.99 for a razor.... let me think for .025 of a second about that one..."
Well; If it takes 10 min a day for 365 days a year times the number of years you'll be smithing, times what you charge per hour..............it changes the ol value balance...no?
Michael G:
Those are torky grinders...be very careful of jamming them up in the work...they will grab and twist faster than people. They will also grab your shirt tail and climb up your belly making a bloody mess.
Also, always wear a particle mask using it. That stuff that doesn't blacken your nostril hairs will lodge in your lungs and a lot of it will scar in and stay there.
That said...they are wonderfully versitile tools. You can get inexpensive diamond blades that'll cut the hardest stuff around...granite is easy. You can get a whole range of wire brushes, non woven abraisive disks....flap wheels and flap disks, grinding disks for hard steels and disks for sticky aluminum, slitting disks, cut off disks, grinding stones and cup stones and on and on.
My favorite abraisive house is
Good prices, nice knowledgeable folks, quick delivery.
Guru;;;good exposition on cutting files...thanks!
New knife maker looking for good steel...check out the Anvilfire store! They'll sell small quantities of the finest.
Reporting, very soggy on the far left coast. Am working on a very small bilge pump that installs in a boot
   - Pete F - Friday, 12/31/04 03:44:52 EST

Pete, I had the same thoughts about daily shaving and the long term costs. Just THINK how much time we save and how much happier our skin is. . . Then there is the cost of all those replacement blades and hot water. . .

   - guru - Friday, 12/31/04 04:04:26 EST

On anvil shims, if you use two, one on each side, the hardy tool sits level on the anvil. With only one, the tool is only supported on one side.

With a pair of 1/8" and a pair of 1/16" shims you can convert a 1" hole from to 7/8" or 3/4". Or you can downsize a larger than 1" hole to 1" by combinations of them.

I suspect it has been a while since a heel broke off an anvil. Remember, at one time, the heels (and horns) were forge welded onto a block for the body. A poor weld could eventually break. Also, at one time, plates were put on in sections, rather than as one piece. Thus, making the potential greater. Richard Postman suspects some were broken off by an anvil sitting in very cold weather and then someone hitting that area hard, resulting in a 'cold break'. He also has heard the story during the Civil War, when Union forces raided the South, they would knock off the heel and/or horn of any anvil they could find to deter the Southern troops from shoeing horses or repairing equipment. I think that story is in the Fisher chapter of AIA.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/31/04 08:01:20 EST

Question on small propane bottles (e.g., standard 20-pound size). I was just told the new style tank valve doesn't allow release at greater than about 15 psi. Is that correct?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/31/04 08:44:33 EST

RE: 20 lb propane bottles.

They have an excess FLOW device. You can deliver at any pressure you set the regulator to. The excess FLOW device is in the tank valve and does not "know" what the pressure setting is. HOWEVER, if that pressure setting in your set-up would result in a flow greater than they have decided if appropriate for a heater or barbeque it will shut off. This is for protection in case the equipment is damaged. Big tanks don't have that feature.
   John Odom - Friday, 12/31/04 10:10:36 EST

Angle iron/hardy hole. I don't want to appear too dogmatic about my single angle iron idea (which I first noticed at Tom Joyce's studio), and I would like to remain on Scharabok's good side. Therefore, I had better explain what I do in my shop, and I should have given this explanation earlier. The top edge of my angle iron shim is thinned to a feather edge, to a "point of zero" and only about a 1/16" or so is bent back to hold it in place. My hardy hole has a slight chamfer around the top rim, and that's enough to keep the iron from falling through. To remove it, I tap it from the bottom. The tooling sits on the anvil face pretty well. It keeps me from the possibility of losing one of a set of two.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/31/04 10:28:26 EST

Thank you for confirmation on the propane tank output. My understanding is the new valve was required due to these explosing in fires (such as a garage fire). If these are in a fire, at some level of internal pressure the safety valve releases. It would create a 'blow torch' effect, but at least would not explode. I was told when I purchased new tanks it was internal pressure which was basically being controlled, not output pressure. Will pass this on to the person who related the incorrect information to me.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/31/04 10:46:20 EST

Propane Safety Valves: These have two purposes. The primary one is to prevent overfilling by filling stations. When a propane bottle is overfilled and it has no gas space in it as it warms up it overpressurizes and the pop-off bleeds off gas.

The secondary purpose is to limit flow in the event of a hose break. This is where the problems come in. The valves and cylinders are made as cheap as possible from mostly imported parts. The quality varies greatly and some valves do not perform correctly. The valves are also rated at different BTU (pounds of gas per hour) and are supposed to match the cylinder capacity. However, they are not clearly marked and many valves for 10 and 15 pound bottles have been used on larger bottles. . .

The pop-off valve are on ALL propane bottle old and new. They do not have enough capacity to prevent an explosion in a large fire.

For many forges the 20 pound exchange bottles are marginaly rated for use on gas forges and ANY reduction in flow will make them unusable. I use 30 pound bottles and even those are not enough for my large forge when two are ganged together and when less than 1/4 full will start to freeze up running a little NC Whisper Baby.
   - guru - Friday, 12/31/04 13:04:31 EST

Air conditioning the desert: Actually, my shop does have serious exhaust. I'm a primitive territorial type, so my shop is cooled by an evaporative cooler, which supplies a continuous blast of humidified fresh air. My shop air changes about once every 2-3 minutes. I stand directly under the air blast when forging; it makes a tremendous difference when the outside temp is 106 degrees.

On the dust front, I have two lines of defense: the cooler's postive air pressure through windows in back of my grinders; and dust sucker nozzles at the grind/buff machines, driven by a powerful centrifugal blower and piped to the outside. Even so, I am searching for a good respirator system as a final line of defense for the vicinity of my face. I figure that even with the various big-airflow solutions, when I bend over a buffer or grinder, some small stuff will be flung right back at me, and be inhaled.

I'll keep looking around; I would still rather buy than build, being lazy by nature. One system I've found is the ProAir, by an outfit called Axis Products. It has a mask supplied by a remote air pump, 110V AC (not batteries!) and the pump was apparently adapted from a paint-sprayer air supply design (they also make sprayers). Maybe this guy can supply enough air...

   - Eric Thing - Friday, 12/31/04 12:46:29 EST

Special thanks to frank T. and Ralph for the advice on H13 hand forging!!!!
   Sharon - Friday, 12/31/04 13:13:06 EST

Ken is that you of "Scharabok hot" fame?

Thomas ex SOFAian
   - Thomas P - Friday, 12/31/04 13:14:50 EST

My appologies to Jock and the other GURUs. Sometimes my mind is slow. More so in recent years. It just dawned on me that here in the guru's den, the questions are to be answered by designated official Gurus of which I am not. I've been a teacher most of my life and after years at the junkyard it seems natural to chime in when you have info. Henceforth I will wait for the designated Gurus to answer.

Respectfully submitted,

John Odom
   John Odom - Friday, 12/31/04 13:39:50 EST

The GURU'S DEN: John, Anyone may ask and answer questions here. However, unlike other forums we monitor this one fairly close for errors and misinformation. Over the years we have nominated some regulars as "gurus" and given them a color signiture to identify them and the honor of being listed on the "about the gurus" list.

The real difference on this page is that we like to keep it to questions and answers. However we ALL, including myself ocassionaly get off point.

Our V-Hammer-In was designed to be a free-for all forum like the original Virtual Junkyard. Anything goes there incluing sales as long as they are not by folks that should and can afford to advertise here. Often there are long sesions of Q&A there as well. About the only time I post there is when there is a question that I need to address. Often Paw-Paw sens me a note when I need to chime in there or answer a question.
   - guru - Friday, 12/31/04 14:06:32 EST

File making
The files I made were coarse, for a wood carving art teacher in the Philippines. I had no "filemaker's bench."

I poured a typemetal (lead) block to hold the file to be cut. I embeded it in modeling clay and then poored the lead over that. Turned it over and cut the teeth in the side that was in the clay. I heat treated in the electric furnace in the chemistry department and quenched in hot water. For file cutting chisels, I made them of triangular files. They were narrow, but I was cutting odd shaped files sort of like rifflers. My product was coarse too, almost like rasps. I learned a lot but would never volunteer to do that for a teacher again. Perhaps not even for my self.
   John Odom - Friday, 12/31/04 14:09:14 EST

John Odom,

Someone mentioned earlier that you had a web site that showed file making in action. Did I read that right andif so, what is the link to that site? I'd like to check it out.

   eander4 - Friday, 12/31/04 14:22:31 EST

John, I suspect that the backup forms you made are used for cutting all odd shaped files like triangular files, rifflers and such.

In The Art of Blacksmithing Bealer mentions lead anvils for straightening files. This may have been common but I try to avoid recommending lead for anything. However, I DO have a lead collection that I was going to cast a soft anvil from.

My description of the process is from an English Video titled Locks, Keys & Files by I.A. recordings. The copy I have is on loan and I do not know where to get copies.

In the video the file cutter uses soft zinc as his backup medium. I suspect this is a modern PC concession to the anti-lead movement which I agree with when there are suitable alternatives.

The file cutter's chisel above is approximately full scale for regular file making. Perhaps I drew it a little wide. Some are smaller but the length remains the same in order to hold them comfortably between thumb and forefinger.

One interesting thing they mentioned was that some files were made very large and heavy from square bar. When dulled these would be returned to the file cutter's, annealed, ground and recut several times before scraping the tool steel.
   - guru - Friday, 12/31/04 14:29:46 EST

Thomas P: Yep, that's me. Not often a blacksmithing can add a 'technical term' to the craft.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/31/04 14:32:42 EST

For what it's worth, I've felt more comfortable chiming in the odd time I've had something I could add to answering a question ever since I became a CSI memember. It has made me feel more comfortable ASKING questions as well. Having my name in blue makes me feel as if this place is partly mine as well. But I don't think anyone is ever going to discount someones answer just because they don't have CSI memembership, or Guru status.

Life rule number 2 "a stupid question is easier to answer than a stupid mistake is to fix"
   JimG - Friday, 12/31/04 15:20:40 EST

just fired up for the first time my TIG welder....vicopper, you use one, i believe...feel free to share some nuggets.
   - rugg - Friday, 12/31/04 15:28:50 EST

John Odom, It is fairly common that one question will receive several answers in the Guru's Den. Each one from a slightly different perspective, usually all are valuable. It is rare that we get an outright wrong answer but Jock and the rest of the Gurus try to address them quickly. I think any informed answers/opinions are welcome here. This site is dedicated to sharing good information regardless of where it comes from. And I have to admit to lurching off onto a slightly irreverant path occasionally that does not fit the experessed purpose of the Den. The Alpha Guru does have a sense of humor and does not chasten us for having a bit of fun.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/31/04 16:07:51 EST

Files: I have never seen a movie or video fo real filemaking. When a kid I looked it up in the OLD 11th edition Britanica. I did point the group to a text file at:


John Odom
   John Odom - Friday, 12/31/04 18:54:34 EST


I've used TIG welders, but don't own one...yet. It is high on the list of tools to be acquired soon. As for nuggets of wisdom, you need to look to Steve Rutterbush or one of the real weldors, not me. My training is 30 years out of date and 20 years out of practice. Get a good book, study the pictures of proper grinds for the tungsten, pay attention to the correct volume of shield gas and clean "everything" before you weld. Most importantly I think, is to get a good helmet so you can get right down in the weld puddle and really SEE what is happening. Most people screw up their welds, whether gas, stick, MIG or TIG, by being timid about getting close enough to see the weld puddle. If you can't see it, you have no hope at all of controlling it.

There you have all the "wisdom" I possess when it comes to welding. In other words, you're own your own. (grin)
   vicopper - Friday, 12/31/04 19:37:38 EST

hello guru im looking for some past infomation that i found here but can not locate on the arhives. It had to do with mice and forges and then i belive u mentioned a way to kill them without killing anything else including anything that ate it. i was wondering if you could please repost it for me? this question also gos out to anyone that knows what im talking about or remembers what the formula is. John
   John S - Friday, 12/31/04 19:58:49 EST

John S

If memory serves, the mouse killer formula was to mix a bit of portland cement powder in with flour or oat meal.... Mind you I have a pretty good case of CRS too, so don't quote me on it...
   - HavokTD - Friday, 12/31/04 22:13:44 EST

About 50/50 wheat flour and portland. Pets don't like it and it would take a LOT to make them ill. Mice and rats love it. . . kind of a heavy diet.

Mice like to move into the small confined spaces of gas forges and melting furnaces. They also like to make nesting material out of the kaowool (blanket OR board) and are quite destructive. Block the openings of your forge when not in use. These critters will nest in your forge year round but are particularly fond of moving in during cold weather.
   - guru - Friday, 12/31/04 22:20:47 EST

Rugg, I do quite a lot of tig welding. I'm not as knowledgeable as Steve Rutterbush (Prof. Rutterbush) but here are a couple of things: Even though I hate to disagree with my friend Rich don't stick your face right down next to the weld. Even tig welding gives off noxious fumes and smoke (at times) and you do not want to be breathing those fumes or clouding your shield with them. Keep your head in a position where you can get a good clear view of your weld puddle and pay attention. PRACTICE!
You will need to get used to what the arc will do so use plenty of scrap and play around with and without filler. Just to start with- If you are welding steel or copper or bronze you will be welding with the electrode negative high frequency at start and a pointed tungsten. Grind the tungsten at an angle so that the ground portion's length is about three times its diameter. Use a thoriated tungsten and pure argon for steel and bronze. PRACTICE! If you stick the tungsten with your filler rod stop and regrind. You will almost certainly screw upp a few times- just accept it and regrind so you get a clean wled. If you see a color change as you are welding check your tungsten- chances are you have contaminated it and need to regrind. If you are going to try aluminum it's best to use a nonthoriated tungsten but you can use one which is thoriated. Grind it to a blunt point and then set the machine to electrode positive. use a piece of copper and pulse the pedal to flare the tip of the tungsten into a ball. Now switch to AC with continous high frequency and weld away. As soon as you stick it (you will) regrind and reball. Did I mention PRACTICE? Good Luck- you are going to love what you can do with that machine, Steve
   SGensh - Friday, 12/31/04 23:30:06 EST

I was wondering if a scroll attachment will make the swirl bneds I am looking for using round stock. I am looking to make swirls that look like a question mark, only they have 3-4 swirls, if that makes sense.

Thank you i8n advance
   Alan - Friday, 12/31/04 23:54:57 EST

Scrolls: Alan, see our 21st Century page on benders. There are photos and drawings. We also have several iForge demos on spirals and scrolls.

There are two types of bender that will make an overlaping spiral. One is built conicaly so that as you wrap the steel around you must move down. The result in a cone shaped spiral which can be flattened. Another of this sort is a steped bender. You bend about 240° and then shift down and complete another near circle.

The second type is a crank type bender. It has a scroll end with one or more hinged sections that close around the work as it is turned. There is a photo of a Hossfeld bender with one of these on top in part II of the bender article.

Almost all scroll benders are custom made. There are a few stock ones made by bender manufacturers but you will find that there is an infinite number of scroll shapes and sizes and that if you want to make YOURS then you will need to make your own bender. It is not hard. See our article and build a couple.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/01/05 00:45:10 EST

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