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

This is an archive of posts from December 1 - 7, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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re sled runners.....
Mild steel is mild steel. It will not become spring steel.

Now why do the runners need to be spring steel?
   Ralph - Wednesday, 11/30/05 02:19:08 EST

Re:Thomas P/manganese,
I would guess its probably an alloy. It acts very much like stainless. Non-magnetisc and impossible to cut with a gas torch. We can only cut it with plasma cutting. Band saw just wears the teeth off LOL.
   Dodge - Wednesday, 11/30/05 02:48:39 EST

Ken: That's great! Thank you very much. Now, how do I reimburse you?
   Koomori - Wednesday, 11/30/05 09:12:38 EST

O2 regs and dirt.

You need three things to get fire...fuel, an oxidizer (O2 is one of the best) and heat. The more you have of one, the less you need of the others and in an O2 rich environment things that we wouldn't normally think of as fuel will burn real well (and somewhat violantly) needing very little heat to set the whole thing off. A very small amount of heat from partical impingment is enough.

We clean and prep regulators and tanks for use with pure O2 for scuba. We use a multi-step process to clean and inspect and use O2 compatable parts and lube. Since we don't work in a clean room things are never totally clean so when filling or using we take steps to reduce the potential for heat by using correct plumbing, oporating valves slowly and filling slowly.

It's not all that complicated but if you're not trained in it you're probably best off taking it to some one who is.

   Mike Ferrara - Wednesday, 11/30/05 10:01:06 EST

GAR: I think I saw a place called Farmingdale.edu that had some good info on metallurgy and materials in a practical program. Might be worth a look. http://info.lu.farmingdale.edu/depts/met/
   JLW - Wednesday, 11/30/05 11:34:33 EST

The runners need to be spring steel cause the higher the carbon content the easier they'll slid over ice and snow.
   JimG - Wednesday, 11/30/05 12:07:20 EST

Kick Sled Runners: Andy, These are a hardened steel for abrasion resistance and stiffness. After bending the steel a large part like this will need to be heat treated by a professional with a big enough furnace and quenching tank. In large quantities this probably only costs about $5 per runner. Individualy. . .

Now, on the other hand all steel is springy, especially when work hardened like cold drawn steel. If that is what you are using and you do not heat it to bend then it will be fairly stiff and springy.

   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 13:04:18 EST

O2 and Oil Actually you need no heat. Oxidation occurs at room temperature. Under the high pressure of an oxygen cylinder and pure oxygen the oil will ignite and produce its own heat.

Kerosene (the primary constituant of WD-40) and LOX was the first liquid rocket propellant. . . No ignition is necessary, just mix the two.

An oxygen regulator soaked in kerosene should be destroyed so that nobody will try to use it in the future. Unless it is completely dismantled and cleaned with freon, tric or carbon-tet to remove all traces of oil before reassembly the it may always be a bomb waiting to happen. The expense of the solvent, cleaning and rebuilding would be more than the item is worth.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 13:13:39 EST

I have been given a coal forge and find that the fire pot is much too large (it could easily take a 5 gallon bucket of coal to fill it) it seems too deep as well. what would be the best way to build up the fire pot to make it smaller and more efficient and how deep should it be?
   dale - Wednesday, 11/30/05 13:15:39 EST

Dale, Find a smaller brake drum to set inside the big one and a short piece of pipe to extend the blast up to it. If you bring the whole mess (less the hood) up here on a weekend we can cut a steel disk to fit inside the existing drum and set the smaller drum into it. That will give you a smaller firepot and a hearth shelf around it. Or you could just fill in the big drum with firebrick and morter to create a smaller fire space. You'd still want to extend the blast with a piece of pipe though.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 11/30/05 13:51:47 EST

I've got a customer who wants relatively small blades made out of 315 stainless. I've never worked with it before. I plan on doing stock removal. More than anything I need heat treating specs. Does it act like 440 or 10 series, or is it really goofy stuff?
   Will Baity - Wednesday, 11/30/05 14:52:19 EST

How crazy would it be to try to use a rosebud torch to melt the small amount of brass that would be needed to cast a knife guard, sword furniture, scabbard parts? generally it would be only a couple of ounces at a time. Wouldn't it be easier than building a bucket or freon tank furnace and propane burner or twyer/blower etc.
   JLW - Wednesday, 11/30/05 16:03:29 EST

415? SS Will, My ASM Heat Treaters Guide does not list a 415 stainless. It lists 414 and 416. Both are Martensitic straight chromium stainlesses. 416 has Phosphorus and Sulfur added for machinability. 414 has nickle added for increased corosion resistance and "mechanical properties".

There is a 416 and 416Se. Type Se has selinium added to further improve machinability. It is considered another type of 410 SS. Capable of hardening to 42HRC or slightly higher. Can be martempered.

All heat treating requires a protective atmosphere (vacuum, inert gas or nitrogen). Heat slowly to 1700 to 1850°F, soak for up to 30 minutes, oil quench. temper at 400 to 1400°F. Cryogenic treatment improves this steel. Temper (again) immediately after.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 16:09:19 EST

Torch Melting: JLW, This is done all the time. You need all the same tools other than the furnace, crucible, crucible tongs, flasks, sand or plaster. If doing lost wax you REALLY need a burn out furnace.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 16:16:39 EST

Frank, Much better way of explaining what I was saying, thanks. The man in question (I am really bad with names) was shoeing horses for the army in WWII, so that gives an approximate time frame for his training.
   Monica - Wednesday, 11/30/05 17:46:10 EST

Guru, I think you misread. That was 315 Stainless, not 415.
   Monica - Wednesday, 11/30/05 17:47:13 EST

Will Baity: If 315 is similer to the other 300 series stainless steels I'm familier with, then it's not heat treatable. The best you'd be able to do is to work harden the edge but it'd still be a poor substatute for a real knife. Try to talk him into using another steel, and if he still wants the 315 I personally wouldn't put stamp my name on it since it'd be an inferior product.
   AwP - Wednesday, 11/30/05 18:09:14 EST

Was he talking about 316? (Which, as mentioned above, is not heat-treatable) Try 420 at least if you can't get 440.
   - Tom H - Wednesday, 11/30/05 18:17:39 EST

Whoops. . . In either case it is an odd alloy. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 20:20:47 EST

I need new blades for a Beverly #2 shear. Any suggestions or sources?
   brian robertson - Wednesday, 11/30/05 20:41:17 EST

Air Hardening Alloys

I recently purchased some new air hardened blacksmith chisels. This made me wonder what the actual process for air hardening consists of? What grades of steel such as S7 are air hardening? Thanks
   burntforge - Wednesday, 11/30/05 20:51:43 EST

Brian-- Take a deep breath and call Beverly Shear in Chicago. They will have them. They can sharpen the old ones, too, by the way. They won't be cheap. I just got new blades from those genuinely helpful, nice people for my Beverly Junior, which cost some $40 plus shipping. They don't take plastic and they don't have computers. You tell them where you live, they figure the shipping and tell you the total. You send a check and they send you lickety split the blades, wrapped as if to withstand seawater submersion.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 11/30/05 21:35:07 EST

Beverly Shear Blades: McMaster-Carr sells the shears and the replacement blades. Although McMC does not state the brand, that is what they carry.

When I bought blades for a very old Beverly they were a tad too wide. I had to regrind them to fit as the lower blade interfered with the top with the adjustment screw all the way back. The best I could determin the blade angle was 10&3176;. I am not sure if the frame had been bent or if the blade specs have changed over the years.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 22:18:32 EST

Air Hardening Steels: These are heated to the hardening point just like any other steel and then cooled on a rack so that air can circulate. Often a fan is used to create a gentle breeze. After hardening they are tempered immediately as with most tool steels. The advantage for some blacksmith tools is that some air hardening and HS Steels remain hard up to a low red heat. Tempering temperatures are often up to 1300°F.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/30/05 22:27:24 EST

Some air hardening grades of commonly used tool steels are A2, A10, and D2 which are considered "cold work steels". S7, as a shock resistant steel, is hardened in air on sections to 2.5 inches. Over 2.5 inches, oil is used until the steel becomes black. The air hardening hot work steels are H11, H12, and H13.

Don't harden on metal or in an irregular breeze. Rest the work on a material that resists heat abstraction such as fire brick, graphite, or coke.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/30/05 23:38:11 EST

Kicksled runners !
Andy,Är ni svensk ?

You will need higher carbon steel, Mild steel wont harden enough for this. Do you plan to weld on the mounting tabs for the handlebars, This will be a careful spot to make since the welding will affect the temper of the steel at this spot, then the whole thing will need heat treating again.
The Spark I made as a kid, The handlebar was attached to tthe runner with a 6mm bolt. Like your idea my runners were about 25mm tall, what left enough material where the bolt passed thru It did not weaken the runner too much.
BTW, the runners were a stainless of somekind (from the scrappile at Bryggeri Till i Östersund)
and I did not have the ability to weld stainless anyway.
I will skip the part about the chainsaw motor and spiked wheel I rigged up trying to make that thing self propelled.
Good luck with your project.
   - Håkan - Thursday, 12/01/05 02:29:46 EST

So..... Given that the pieces that I refer too as manganese is in fact a manganese steel alloy, can anyone ofer any tips on forging?
   Dodge - Thursday, 12/01/05 02:48:34 EST

Help, I haven't been able to use the forge much over the last few months, now that it's cold and dark early seems I have plenty of time. I am having a problem with my propane tanks freezing in use. I thought it was the regulator but wrapping in a heating pad to keep it warm and after 20 minutes or so pressure starts dropping until I loose all heat. Any idea's? The problem doesn't seem to happen until the tank is less than half full.

My forge is from the Arizona Blacksmiths Association plans made at CBA Forging for food. It's simple, two burner, naturally aspirated. I normally run about 12 psi up to about 20-25 to get welding heat. Propane tanks are fairly new happens with the 40# and 20# tanks.

I have tried setting on wood instead of the concrete and as mentioned tried keeping the regulator warm, no luck. Short of aiming the dragons breath at the tank any ideas?

   Jeff - Thursday, 12/01/05 03:09:33 EST

On the sled runner, I wondering if you simply used a durable wax, such as used on competition wood skies, on mild steel if it wouldn't produce essentially the same results as if you had started with spring steel? You would not have the weight on them as a regular passenger sled.

Jeff: Out of my area but... A propane tank freezing up is a sign the gas is being drawn off from it too rapidly. With the pressures you cited, I'm really surprised it happened to a 40-lb tank. You may have to go to a 100-lb tank.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/01/05 08:08:31 EST

Jeff: what is the ambient Temperature? I have seen tanks in Alberta freeze up with NO draw off!
   - John Odom - Thursday, 12/01/05 08:11:49 EST

Freezing tanks:

Do you know the size orifice of the burner? Pressure by itself doesn't tell the whole story. Before I went to house tanks I could freeze up my 20-lb'er in the middle of summer with only 5psi. But I have a blown burner with three #60 holes for the orifice. CFM is the key. I guess BTU/hr is the more appropriate unit of measure when playing with propane.

It does sound like you're drawing too fast, though. Some people have luck immersing the tank in a large bucket of water. Going to a bigger tank will help, as has been mentioned already. You could also buy another 40-lb tank and either manifold them together or switch off when one starts freezing.

I know you're just joking about the dragon's breath, but to be safe I wouldn't play with any kind of tank warming. It might keep a tank going when cold, but how warm will it get if you warm an already warm, full, tank? That might increase the pressure too much, triggering that OPD valve and releasing propane into a flamey environment.

   - Marc - Thursday, 12/01/05 09:00:06 EST


You arer having a problem with the vapor pressure of propane versus ambient temperature. When you draw off propane from the tank, the resultant decrease in pressure is lowering the temperature of the propane. Since the ambient temperature is low, you are getting to the point where the propane freezes as it expands. Further, at low enough temperatures, you will be below the temperature where propane boils, so you won't have any gas pressure at all. There are two solutions to this:

First, you can warm up the tank itself to keep the propane warm enough to vaporize rapidly enough to supply the amount you need to draw off. You can do this by putting the tank in a tub or warm water or wrapping a heating blanket around it. You will need to supply heat all the time that you are drawing off gas or the temp wil fal below the critical point. Naturally, use reasonable precautions and do not use a heat source that could possibly take the tank above a safe temperature.

Secondly, you can get a much larger propane tank. This will allow you to draw off more gas without dropping the tank temperature to the point of freezing. Depending on yhour ambient temperature, you may need to go to as big as a 250 gallon tank. Your local propane supplier should be able to advise you how big a tank you need to be able to supply gas at sufficient pressure and volume to run 250,000 Btu's worth of burners.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/01/05 09:29:35 EST

Propane Freeze up:

Propane is a cryogenic liquid kept from boiling off to gas by the pressure in the tank. When it boils (turns to gas as pressure is released) the change from liquid to gas requires energy which is absorbed from the surrounding liquid and the tank. There is always and energy release or absorption then there is a phase change in matter.

The rate that gas can be drawn from any liquid is directly related to the temperature and mass of the liquid. When either the mass or the temperature is low you cannot draw gas at as high a rate as when there is a larger or warmer mass. So when a tank is partialy full it cannot produce gas as fast as when it is full.

The ambient (outside the tank) temperature also plays a part in that it replaces the energy lost in the evaporation of the liquid. That is why you see frost on the part of the bottle with liquid in it. Moisture in the air is collecting on the cold surface and freezing (thus releasing energy into the bottle).

In cold environments the propane is often mixed with a higher percentage of butane in order reduce freeze ups. But in the end the laws of physics catch up with you.

Specific Forge Problems: First I must note that there are hundreds of gas forge designs out there. Some are good and couple are just plain bad. I am not familiar with any of them other than those I designed and built or a couple of the commercial models. ALL the DIY forges can have gross errors in construction so it does not matter whose plans it was built from. Some of the worst designs perform well if well built and tuned.

That said. . .

Except for the most frugal of the smallest forges 20 and 30 pound bottles are too small in normal 70°F (20°C) ambient suroundings. Almost all the rest draw gas at too fast a rate and cause freeze ups, especially when the cylinder reaches half full. These often perform fine in hot summer weather (over 85°F, 29°C) if the draw is not too high. However, even under these conditions cylinders may freeze up when small forges are reved up for forge welding.

Regulator freeze up is from drawing fuel too fast and getting cryogenic gas in the regulator. If there is no problem in the tank then there are evaporators with fins to absorb heat from the air that can be placed between the cylinder and the regulator.

The ONE correct answer to freeze up is to get a bigger bottle. 100 and 120 pound bottles will run most small forges all day without freeze up until well below being 1/4 full or less. This is in climates where the average annual temperature is 68°F. In cooler climates you will need larger, possibly bulk, cylinders.


1) Gang up two propane bottles on one regulator. The plumbing consists of a 'T' on one cylinder with a short stinger going to the other cylinder and a regulator on the other side of the 'T'. On my big forge this only worked until the two 30# cylinders were about half full or about 4 hours. Once the mass was reduced to half the cylinders would only provide fuel for a couple hours after warming. This setup would probably work fine on a small to medium size forge.

2) Put the cylider in a heat sink like a tub of water. This has been a common method using big galvanized wash tubs and it works fairly well. Brackets should be made to hold the cylinder down to prevent floating and possibly turning over and getting water in the regulator. In cold climates you want to put a 'stock' water heater in the tank to prevent it from freezing. In the summer the heat draw cools the water and many folks find it a good way to cool their beer. . .

3) Warm the cylinder with a battery blanket or heat tapes and surround the whole with insulation. This method has been used in many places but it can be dangerous. It should only be done outside of a shop or dwelling and some distance from a point of ignition. The heating method should have a built in thermostat AND you should manually disconect them in warm weather. Similar to the insulated air compressor enclosures we have been discussing a "dog house" could be put over an outdoor bottle. The distance we are talking about (usualy 20 feet) assumes a permanent installation with copper lines.

WARNING! Tipping a cylinder IS NOT a solution. This has been mentioned in the past. All it does is expose the fuel to a small area of warm surface of the cylinder. This causes a temporary release of gas but it will quit as quickly as it started. Tipping cylinders is dangerous as you can get liquid fuel in the regulator and valve.

Codes and Safety: All propane fuel cylinders have an over pressurization pop-off valve built into the valve. This will open and bleed off pressure if the cylinder becomes over pressurized. I have seen this several times when freshly filled cylinders were left in the hot sun. These valves close when the pressure drops. This is different than the rupture disks and fuse plugs on other types of gas cylinder which once they open they must be replaced if the cylinder is salvagable.

For this reason most building codes require cylinders to be 20 feet from a source of ignition. That means locating them away from windows and doors opening into an inhabited area where a permanent or portable source of ignition may exist.

Propane is also a heavy gas and tends to pool on the floor like water or collect in unventilated spaces. This is why fire codes treat propane as more hazzardous than acetylene or natural gas which are a light gases that quickly dissapate.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/01/05 10:32:00 EST

Dodge, most all steels have some manganese in them. It acts to deepen hardening in alloys with enough carbon to be hardenable, among other things, but it can increase brittleness as well. Unless you know the actual alloy you have, just saying "manganese steel" is pretty well meaningless, as it could be 1050, 1070/1084, W-2, or O-1, among many others. In other words, treat it as an unknown quantity. Do you know what it was intended to be used for? That may help.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 12/01/05 10:56:42 EST

Dodge. Manganese. You are guessing at tomcats. For example, your everyday, nonsulphurized standard steels from 1005 through 1095, all contain manganese in varying amounts. Your steels with the AISI prefix in the 40s, 50s, and 80s all have manganese. As for tool steels, manganese is in O1, 06, A10, S5, W1. As for stainless in the AISI 3 and 4 prefix series, the commonly used ones contain manganese. Therefore, you have many, many steels which have manganese in their composition.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/01/05 11:11:31 EST

Thanks for the quick replies.

Marc the two burners use mig tips I think they are for .30 wire not positive.

Sounds like the problem is pulling two fast combined with the colder temps. Wasn't a problem in the summer but last night it was in the mid 30's when I first started the forge, Shop is about 800ft2 so the forge is the the only heat source I use when beating metal.

I have 3 40# tanks so sounds like the fastest temp solution will be to gang them together. Off to the supply house.

   Jeff - Thursday, 12/01/05 12:27:06 EST

Anyone near Azusa, CA interested in a forge pan without a blower? ebay #6229675500 shows a picture of it. I rolled the dice on this blower, and am searching for someone to pick it up and ship me the blower, and looking for a good home for the forge because I doubt it's cost effective to ship.
   Groves - Thursday, 12/01/05 12:35:01 EST

Another quick question. please forgive me but I am a novice at this, I was making the IForge #124 trileg candle stick and am curious why all the bends are made before welding. I didn't see an advantage so marked both bends then I bent the taper side welded and tapered the end. By this time tanks were frozen so I stopped for the night but plan on making the second bend, welding, tapering then bending and spreading the legs next time I hit the forge. Have I set myself up for disaster? Or are the bends all made first just to assure symetry before welding?
   Jeff - Thursday, 12/01/05 12:36:44 EST

I,m a professional architectural blacksmith with 8 yrs. experience. I'm interested in building a diesel drip furnace for heating steel, but can't find any info. In fact, "diesel drip furnace" doesn't even come up on a Google search. Do you have any info on the subject? Eventually, I'd like to run one of these on waste vegetable oil to make use of a renewable resource and make my shop more ecologically sound.
   Steve Dulfer - Thursday, 12/01/05 13:28:09 EST

Steve Duffer: Try the wastewatts group on Yahoo. They talk about all kinds of oil burners.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 12/01/05 13:29:41 EST

Jeff; I sure hope all the doors and windows were open while you were heating the shop with the forge!

I know my neighbors must have thought I was crazy last night opening up the 10x10 roll up door and the regular door on the side when I fired up.

CO exposure has a cumulative property.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/01/05 13:33:02 EST

Tri Leg Candlestick: Jeff, The one in the demo is made of all one piece. The welds are to create mass where the corners are drawn out. Otherwise just bending and forging you end up with thin weak connectors at the corners.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/01/05 13:42:52 EST

Yea I am sure my neighbors think I am nuts. Sunday it was snowing and I had the garage door wide open with the window on the other side open had a nice cross breeze (gale). Right next to the forge though I was in a tee shirt and felt fine.

Yes I understand the welds and am using one piece just was unsure the sequence used, the way you show the ends are in the way. I haven't finished yet but it seems like my way should be easier as I don't have to move the candle cup to make the weld on the opposite side. Acctually that side is done, I will have to move the leg to make the next weld after the bend. I wasn't sure if I was missing something by doing it my way or maybe I am just lazy and am always looking to save a step.
   Jeff - Thursday, 12/01/05 14:14:44 EST

Steve. I think that one of the Backyard smelting websites has a waste-oil furnace plan.
   JL:W - Thursday, 12/01/05 14:26:25 EST

Oil Forge: Steve, I have seen a number of diesel and heating oil forges. There are two basic types. The drip oil you mentioned and the furnace burner.

The drip oil type uses primitive manual controls. You fabricate a fire box with fire brick with a door and a vent. There needs to be a port for a forge blower to one side or even through the top. The blower will need a control, either an air gate or motor control.

Oil is introduced via a pipe and needle valve. If the pipe is in the top of the forge oil will burn in it and eventualy clog the pipe so it needs to be replaceable. I would have it only extend about 2/3 of the thickness of the refractory. The other way is to have the oil drip in the air flow from the fan. This helps cool the drip pipe and disperses the oil a little better.

To light the forge you put a piece of oil soaked rag or paper in it, light the starter, gently turn on the air then open the oil valve a crack. The forge should heat quickly and the glowing refractory will keep the fire going.

An more sophisticated aranvement is to use the burner assembly off a domenstic oil furnace. These are setup to one side of the firebox and the entrance should slope downwards slightly so that any liquid oil will run back into the forge, not the burner. These have built in fans, igniters and injection pumps. You just fire it up. . .

On waste oil I DO NOT recommend it in small installations. The additives in motor oil include some real nasties and they are added to from the engine wear (heavy metals for the bearings) and gasoline (still includes heavy metals, just not lead). Cooking oils are not so much of a problem but they need a preheat system to thin the oil before injecting it into the burner. A small well placed tube somewhere in the exhust vent can do this but produces a situation where you need to let the hot oil burn out on shut down.

The books by Steve Chastain (see our book review page) have some info on DIY oil burners.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/01/05 14:35:32 EST

Finally got around to drilling an oval hole in one of the 10" culvert sections and it worked right nifty. 1 1/4" hole saw. Drilled first about half way through in the bottom of a valley. Then punched a pilot dimple at the bottom, in line vertically, and drilled that one out. Then went back and cut out the half-moon left of the first hole. Basically resulted in a fat figure 8. No torch clean-up needed. If anything, I drilled it too long, so will move up the second hole a tad next time.

For cleaning out the hole sides I used my palm grinder. Friend was in the shop a bit back and asked why I kept the disks when they been been used down to about nothing. Work great for a small area such as this. On one item I need to clean up the inside of 2" or 4" long sections of 4" OD pipe. Using one of these small disks and taking off the handle allows me to reach inside the pipe for clean-up.

I try to find a use for all scrap - generating about one five-gallon bucket for the local recycle center every couple of months. Now if I could just find another use for the handles I cut off the freon bottles... Suggestions?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/01/05 14:36:48 EST

ReCycling: We mentioned the somewhat famous Wally Yeater the other day. . . He is as much a genious as he is cheap. On of his tricks was to use the plastic from 2 liter drink bottles in his face masks. He was doing all that grinding on swage blocks and eating up masks so he came upon using the VERY high strength plastic in the clear bottles. . . He had a detailed report on the material and its streangth. Claimed it was as good or better than what originaly came in the masks.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/01/05 16:19:54 EST

Much thanks for the advice, Turns out I can't even get ahold of 315 from my supplier. Hopefully he goes for good old 440. I have another question. How much should I charge per hour for doing work?
   Will Baity - Thursday, 12/01/05 16:48:08 EST

Quick note on CO exposure:

The reason CO is dangerous is that it binds to the hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin is what binds to oxygen, carries it around, and releases it. CO won't unbind from hemoglobin, so your blood loses its capacity to carry oxygen as you inhale more and more CO. Exposure to CO is not truly cumulative like heavy metal poisoning, but nor is it completely noncumulative like CO2 inhalation. Be Aware, and Keep Pounding!
   T. Gold - Thursday, 12/01/05 17:45:37 EST

Ken, on the handles -- maybe you could weld a piece of flat bar across the open part, and screw it to your ceiling -- slide stock through it to hang it up, or similar? Heck, I might make a couple of those. Thanks for the idea. ;)
   T. Gold - Thursday, 12/01/05 17:47:53 EST

Predictive Metallurgy: Although much of the "fine tuning" is done experimentally, there is so much data on various pure metals and iron alloys that one can get very close to a final alloy design without doing any hot work. I had the privilege to work with a world renowned PhD from CalTech several years ago. He had designed an alloy to use as a corrosion resistant rebar that was much less expensive than stainless steel. The company I worked for at that time made several hundred tons of it to use as a corrosion resistant pipe for oilfield applications. It worked pretty much as he designed it. This is not always the case however and my own designs for other applications fell a bit short of the mark. That's why I am not a world renowned metallurgist :-)
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/01/05 17:48:08 EST

When my 20# propane tank starts freezing, I completely fill a 5-gallon joint compound bucket with warm water and set the tank on top. The domed bottom of the tank extends about an inch down into the water.

I figure the steel tank bottom with liquid propane on one side and water on the other makes a very efficient heat exchanger, so there's no need to fool around figuring out how to submerge the entire tank. In any event, it seems to work . . . .
   Mike B - Thursday, 12/01/05 18:09:40 EST


You are a world renowned metallurgist in our eyes!!
A PhD would just stifle your creativity!!
   burntforge - Thursday, 12/01/05 19:21:19 EST

Will: more than it costs you! And don't forget all the incidentals including opprotunity cost of your time.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/01/05 19:48:28 EST

I just puchased a hearth pad for a wood pellet stove. The manufacturer (he does it on the side) told me I absolutely do not have to remove the carpet underneath the hearth pad. It will porotect the carpet. I have heard different scenarios where you should remove the carpet. Can you givve me some advice so I don't burn my house down? THanks. Butch
   Butch - Thursday, 12/01/05 20:28:19 EST

I just purchased a hearth pad for a wood pellet stove. The manufacturer told me I do not have to remove the carpet...I can just put it on top of the carpet. Any suggestions? I really don't want to burn my house down. Thanks. Butch
   - Butch - Thursday, 12/01/05 20:30:38 EST


A friend of mine who has always used wood stoves and pellet stoves recently put a pellet stove in his dinning room. He took some of the affordable large length and width firebricks and laid them out over the carpet like those padio blocks which would work fine also. He painted them a nice color to match his woodwork. He set his stove on them. It is one of those that the exaust goes through a thimble in the wall. It uses the double wall pipe and has a large appearing dryer style vent on the outside of his house, though made for the stove. The stove has a big clearence underneath with the leg height and the blower exaust is not mounted toward the bottom either. His stove does not get hot near the floor. The bricks are cool to the touch. While the stove is running and nicely heating his large federal syle house I can touch the double wall coming off the stove and it only feels slightly warm. I hope this helps
   burntforge - Thursday, 12/01/05 20:38:19 EST

I sent this to Jock today in hopes it can be added to the Coal Facts. I studied others information and condensed it into a very easy to read and comprehencable format. Basically a quick reference that cover most basic questions blacksmiths or the beginners have concerning coal. I give credit to those whom information originated. I also have more indepth info in only hard copy and will provide this to Jock for greater detail. I hope he doesn't mind this post here. I put a great deal of my day into this today. I can not make it center here as in the word document. As follows:

Blacksmith Coal Quick Reference

Blacksmith Coal:
For best forging performance your coal should be a low-volatile through medium-volatile bituminous grade.

Four Coal Classes:

a) Meta-anthracite
b) Anthracite
c) semi-anthracite

a) low-volatile bituminous
b) medium-volatile bituminous
c) high-volatile A bituminous
d) high-volatile B bituminous
e) high-volatile C bituminous

a) sub-bituminous A
b) sub-bituminous B
c) sub-bituminous C

a) lignite
b) brown coal

Analysis of Coal:

a) lowest percent possible
b) coal purchased by weight-higher moisture and you
are paying for water

a) inorganic content
b) lowest percent possible
c) higher percent-more clinkers

a) lowest percent possible
b) amount of gases and tars
c) indicator: high in volatiles- black tarry “foam"
while coking

Fixed Carbon:
a) highest percent possible
b) higher the carbon, the more heat per unit weight
or volume

a) lowest percent possible
b) lots of green streaks seen in coal if it is very
high in sulfur-as seen in train stoker grade coal
c) dirty yellow and green smoke while coking
d) high in sulfur- rotten egg sulfur like smell
e) all above are just some indicators of high sulfur
content and not inclusive

a) British Thermal Units
b) Highest number as possible
c) Heat value per pound

Free Swell Index / Coke Button
a) relates to coke formation
b) highest number possible
c) indicates the amount of carbon available to generate heat in the forge, as compared to carbon in the gases and tars which just go up the smoke stack

All characteristics are not listed in all coal analysis available. See break down of blacksmith coal below:

Coal from Pocahontas Vein #3

Size 3/8” x 1” with 65% 3/8” x 1/2”

Analysis of coal

Moisture- 2.0%

Ash- 9.0%


Fixed Carbon - 74%

Sulfur- 6/10 %

B.T.U.’s – 13,500

This quick coal reference is condensed information From “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Coal and More” by: Albin Drzewianowski
Originally published in the “Hammer And Tong” Blacksmith Guild Of Central Maryland newsletter

Pocahontas Vein #3 Coal Analysis from a local coal supplier.

Some sulfur content information such as color and smell provided by experience with many grades of coal and coal leftover from a train wreck that acurd many decades ago.

Quick Reference put together from borrowed information by: Burnt Forge
Current coal retail price: .145 cents per pound

   burntforge - Thursday, 12/01/05 20:49:54 EST

Burntforge, thank you for the kind words. The check is in the mail.... :-)
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/01/05 21:07:09 EST

Oil forge,
The only type I known of uses oil and compressed air. much like a bugsprayer blows over the oil pipe, Venturi effect draws oil and spraying the mist down the air tube into the firebox, Now I think of it, Its virtually the same as a heating furnace except the oil is not pumped thru an orfice and the compressed air replaces the blower fan.
These things were used heating rivets constructing substation and switchyard framings and towers for a hydropower facility in Sweden recently as the 60s.
What a thing to watch that rivet thrower, He could throw a rivet from his tongs in any direction 30 or more feet and all but drop it right into the catchers scoop.
Wow, Come to think of it, 1960s I am getting old,,,
   - Sven - Thursday, 12/01/05 21:07:32 EST

Hourly Rates: IF you want to make a living in metalworking and you have an investment in tools and machinery you have to charge $100/hr. for shop time to cover all the non-productive time (10% goes to bookkeeping just for taxes) and overhead if you are in the US. I've gone through the numbers numerous times and should edit a FAQ. But it starts like this:

Assume you want to make a "decent" living. In the US today that is about $50,000/yr. Also plan on 50% or LESS of your available time going into things you cannot charge to a specific job. With these simple numbers you have about 1,000 productive hours (assuming no vacations and a 40 hour week). Without any costs you need to charge $50/hr. But you DO have costs, rent, utilities, equipment purchases OR depreciation, a vehical, insurance (assume health insurance comes out of what you make and that 50K is dwindling). In any case on average it comes to $100/hr. without being in a high rent district or high utility bill area like the NorthEast.

With these numbers if you charge $50/hr. you make NOTHING. If you charge $60/hr. you make a little over minimum wage.

To make these numbers work in the US you must be EFFICIENT! To get $100/he you MUST be more productive than the other guy. That means blanking out those blades with a punch press and grinding with jigs and fixtures that let you sell at wholesale AND make money.

This may sound like a lot but big shops have to charge even more. Usualy they state an hourly rate with and estimated time of double what they KNOW it will take. In the worst case if they screw up they break even.

Consider the bit sharpening business. A friend of mine setup to do it and could sharpen bits at a rate that produced over $220/hr. But it took a BIG hammer and very efficient setup. Sounds good but that was only for the forging and clean up. Bits come in in full barrels weighing around half a ton. You need to be able to pick up and deliver one or more barrels of bits. This means a truck and driver/sales person. It also means a fork lift (something EVERY blacksmith shop needs). Somewhere along the line that $220/hr. productivity end up paying several folks and for some expensive equipment and fuel. The rate for doing the work becomes $25/hr. But that is a very good rate for an employee that all they have to do is show up and produce every day, day in, day out. . . So even at $200/hr shop rate, nobody is getting rich.

Think about it. Run the numbers.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/01/05 21:13:59 EST

Compressed air Oil Forge: I have a catalog photo of one of these somewhere. . . The forge was built ON TOP of the fuel tank. As Sven noted it worked on compressed air. This is fine for a large operation with huge compressors but it is very pricey energy wise to use compressed air except in some cases. It is very expensive to have to use 2HP of compressed air to do the job of a 1/4HP blower motor. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/01/05 21:20:38 EST

Wood Stove Installation: I have seen considerable overkill on floor insulation on wood stoves for no good reason. For several years we heated with one of those cheap tin heaters with no lining. It had legs that raised it off the floor about 3". The bottom fills with ash so quickly that almost no insulation is needed underneith. I usualy started with 1" of sand in the stove if completely emptied and just left a few ashes in place afterward. This stove sat on one of those good old asbestoes mats covered with wood grain painted tin. The tin never got hot enough to burn the paint off which is also about the charing point of wood. I often reached under the stove when the sides were glowing red to check the temperature underniegth and it would barely be warm.

That stove was replaced by a "Mother Earth" hot water heater tank stove. The top loading was a disaster. THAT was replaced by a behemouth that my brother now uses to heat a good part of his country home. All sat on that 3/8" thick mat but could have sat directly on the floor.

Where wood stoves are a problem in house fires:

1) Chimney fires. Unless you can run your stove wide open most of the time and keep the chimney hot you are going to get creosote and resultant chimney fires. The least damage you should expect is to have to replace a VERY expensive chimney.

2) Falling embers when shoveling ashes OR hot ashes in a container. I've seen metal buckets with paper labels or paint flaming. . . coals have a way of getting away and silently burning holes in floors or starting fire. I've also seen ash buckets get so hot they burn a ring on the floor. . . This is the number one reason for something fireproof under the stove. Be sure it extends in front far enough for ash fall and setting an ash bucket.

3) Setting fire to something level with the sides of the stove by radiant heat. Fire codes like to keep stoves a minimum of 30" from walls and furniture should be farther away.

Chimney fires are by far the most dangerous and most common wood heater problem. "Modern" air tight stoves were a disasterous fad that have caused MANY house fires. The heat in the chimney is sufficient to melt brick and spall terracotta linings. The masonry often gets hot enough to set fire to nearby wood framing. Yeah, the building codes call for 2" of rock wool but it is not there in most construction. . . Sparks from the erruption often set the roof on fire.

I think most of the pellet stoves do not have these problems but any wood stove that is oversized for the space it is in can become a problem in a hurry. If it shuts down to "simmer" it will make creosote and clog the chimney. I think pellet stoves avoid this by regulating the available fuel . . not sure.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/01/05 21:49:55 EST

http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/bestfuel02.html couple of plans on an oil burner and a propane furnace.
   jlw - Thursday, 12/01/05 23:16:34 EST

Oil Burneers: We had a drip type waste oil furnace in the wood shop for a while, Itr did work, but was trickey to get burning nicely and even more of a problem to shut down, as a reduction in oil input caused the puddle to vaporize more quiclley and the fire to increase. The guy who purchased the sawmill wanted it, Dad was all too happy to let it go for 50$. The compressed air type "Kleen Burn" workes wellwith waste oil and I assume would burn ANY flamable liquid nicely. I think the compressed air is only to cary the fuel and atomize it, it doesn't take a lot of air. Winkler burners atomized the fuel and would burn anything from motor oil to keroscene. They havn't been produced in 30-40 years. Some RV/Boat furnaces use a blower to atomize fuel, works good for the purpose, as blower speed is variable with available voltage-11 to 14.5 so mixture changes if fuel is suplied by an orfice at a constant pressure. Oil burner guns will burn salvaged hydraulic oil, so I guess they would work on fdryer oil as long as it is dry and not congealed from temperature.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/02/05 00:38:50 EST

Gar: You are on the right track in keeping the related hobbies as hobbies rather than trying to make a living from them. All of the materials and trades theory and skills go together well to make You a usefullemployee at the main job, and a knolegable tinkerer at the hobby stuff. Just be sure You study the right things to get a decent job in an area where You want to live, You can make the hobbies fit around that. The specialty steel companies are good at what they do, You probably won't improve on it as a hobby, but the knoledge of what is available and how to select the best materials for what You are doing and what capabilities You have and properly work with them will draw heavily on Your main ambition.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/02/05 00:49:57 EST

does any body have any info on a little john 25lb triphammer, I just got it and I want to put an electric motor on it but don't know how fast to turn it. Also would like a picture of a restored on so i know the original color. what is it worth it appears it is in great shape, even the dies. I paid a 100.00 for it.
   - Ty Rankin - Friday, 12/02/05 01:22:35 EST

Where can I find some info on little John trip hammers, I need to know how fast to turn it with an electric motor and how much hp. what color were they originally. I am finding zero info. Are they a good hammer? what is it worth, I paid 100.00.
   Ty Rankin - Friday, 12/02/05 01:25:45 EST

I have done and continue to do some stupid things, I prefer personel freedom and generally dont like Gov intrusion in personal life, but since the motorcycle helmet law was repealed in Pa. recently [right after auto seatbelts became mandatory]????? 2 of the guys I grew up with that now ride Harley's have had serious head injuries from relatively low speed crashes. That helmet is more than just a handle.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/02/05 01:33:47 EST

That last post of mine belongs on the Hammer In Page, not sure how I got it over here.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/02/05 01:40:58 EST

Little John Hammer: Ty, Never heard of them. BUt Little Giant is popular. See our Power Hammer Page for a spec sheet with speeds and such.
   - guru - Friday, 12/02/05 01:49:54 EST

CSI Members, The election of the new board starts tomarrow and you should receive mail in regards to it.

As part of the process we have had to purge the records of some 100 past members who's memberships ran out in 2004. Those of you who's memberships lapsed prior to November are still on record but your passwords will not work. This was required because the election is only open to members in good standing. If your login has stopped working it is because your membership has lapsed.

   - guru - Friday, 12/02/05 02:16:15 EST

Guru/All, I need some wisdom from you regarding 4340 steel. I am in the process of buying a piece of solid round bar with the hopes that it will make some nice hammer heads and hardy tools. Being a beginner, I am a little unsure about the forging quality and best heat treatment for this kind of steel. Any/All suggestions?

Thanks in advance,
   Paul Bilodeau - Friday, 12/02/05 08:17:54 EST

Paul: Amazing what you can find on www.google.com these days. Search on 4340:

4340 Alloy Steel Material Property Data Sheet4340 Alloy Steel property data includes chemistry,tradenames, specifications,mechanical properties,welding, machining,forming,& fabrication data covers ...
www.suppliersonline.com/propertypages/4340.asp - 27k - Cached - Similar pages
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/02/05 08:56:32 EST

Thanks Ken,

I already have a copy of those specs.. They are quite thorough, although I was hoping for some "hands on" blacksmith knowledge that I could try in my shop. I have read the specs. for tempering at 450 degress, but, it doesn't say how long to temper at that heat.

   Paul Bilodeau - Friday, 12/02/05 09:34:10 EST

AISI 4340 For Hammers: Paul, This is a classy steel for the purpose. Alloy steels tend to be a lot tougher to forge than plain carbon steels. This is a high hardenability steel. Hardness compares with 1050 which is a commonly used steel for hammers. 4340 is much tougher but will require a furnace anneal before hardening to achieve its full potential. This is an oil quench steel that is prone to quench cracking and should be tempered well before reaching room temperature.

A similar steel steel like SAE 4140 has a friendlier heat treat for nearly the same properties and 1050 is much more forgiving. 4340's recommended anneal before hardening makes it a good production shop steel but not blacksmith friendly.

Tempering most steels including 4340 only requires holding long enough to get a through heat. Double tempering (simply retempering at the same temperature after cooling) has some benefit by catching some of the structure that did not temper the first time.

Tempering this steel at 450°F gives the maximum hardness of about 514 Brinnel (~52 HRC) which may be too hard for a striking tool. Tempering at 550 to 600°F only reduces the hardness to 500 - 480 Brinnel (50-51 HRC) and makes for a much tougher tool.

If you want that hard a face you should consider selective tempering.
   - guru - Friday, 12/02/05 10:11:08 EST

When you start working with the oil burners for forging or for heat, make allowances for a flame out. Depending on the design, flame outs can be the result of water in the fuel, dirt in the fuel, or accumulation of junk in the system, and sometimes just happen for no apparent reason. The flame out results in vaporized fuel filling the firebox and chimney. A re-ignition can have explosive results.
   - Conner - Friday, 12/02/05 10:15:07 EST

That's why I like continous ignition, which is what using a domestic furnace burner gives you. I also have it on my big gas forge. It is not perfect but definitly reduces flame outs. Even a short one can make a heck of a bang.
   - guru - Friday, 12/02/05 10:29:09 EST

I am still looking for info on the Little John trip hammer and I am sure that it is not a Little giant. Sureely someone on this sight knows something.
   - Ty Rankin - Friday, 12/02/05 10:35:39 EST

hello all im new so dont be angry if my questions are old
who was the first blacksmith?
   peter - Friday, 12/02/05 10:50:13 EST


I have been told that the first blacksmith was Tubal-Caine in the bible.
   Paul Bilodeau - Friday, 12/02/05 10:58:07 EST

Paul Bilodeau. 4340 might be overbuilding. I can only offer my personal experience with hammer forging. All of my shop made hammers have been of old 18-wheeler truck axles, and they have held up wonderfully well. I believe that they are of 1050 steel, but I can't swear to it. With the plain carbon steels such as 1050 through say, 1080, you get a shallow hardening "case-core" effect which is desirable and acts as a "shock absorber" or internal "cushion" for a tool of percussion.

The axles have a slight taper in length, but they average about 2" in diameter. When squared up, you'll get about a 1 5/8" to 1 1/2" cross section, which is ideal for most hand hammer weights.

To further explain, a hardenable, plain carbon steel is termed "shallow hardening", meaning that any piece over 5/8" thick will not harden through and through when quenched, because the mass will slow the rate of heat abstraction. You wind up with a reltively thin hard case on the outside and a tough core inside. By the bye, this has NOTHING to do with "case hardening", even though I'm using the word "case".

When you temper the hammer face or peen after hardening, you are tempering the "case". The tough core is just that, somewhat tough and to a degree, resilient. All of this is desirable in a hammer head.

The head and peen are hardened separately to help in prevening the thin wall either side of the eye from cracking.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/02/05 11:01:29 EST


Thanks for the information. I'm glad that you were willing and able to give me such good advice, although, now I will be a little cautious when I try smithing this metal. In the future I'll try to find some 4140 or some 1050 as you have suggested.

Thanks again,
   Paul Bilodeau - Friday, 12/02/05 11:01:51 EST

Thank you also, GREAT ADVICE. I have been beginning to scrounge for good recycling pieces just as you have mentioned, particularly axles and heavy gauge coil springs. I'm hoping to find a good supply soon. I found this piece of 4340 on e-bay and will be getting a 2-5/8" dia. piece, 42" long. I was thinking about making hardy tools out of it. Maybe if I use it for "hot work" tools and refrain from the hardening and tempering, that may work well too. Just a thought.
   Paul Bilodeau - Friday, 12/02/05 11:12:59 EST

Little John: Ty, I looked them up but you will not find any specs on them. There were TWO Little John hammers made by the same company at the turn of the 20th Century. One was a horizontal helve and the other a verticaly configured maachine. Both had a flat leaf spring and toggle linkages. Neither was very successful. See Pounding out the Profits p.100 and p.180.

The helve hammer will need to run about half the speed of the vertical crank model. The vertical crank hammer will run about 30% slower than the much heavier and better engineered Little Giant for the same ram weight. So you need to determine the ram weight and look it up on the Little Giant chart.

All available images of these hammers are old engravings or black and white advertisements.
   - guru - Friday, 12/02/05 11:18:15 EST

Peter, who was the first person to chip flint into a tool? None of these things are known because how would you record them before writing was common? The earliest writings seem more focused on the gods and the actions of kings and taxes. They do not cover someone who makes an improvement to a tool or thinks up a new way to weave.

What we have are traditions that are passed down and many of them have the same validity as fairy tales---was Weyland Smith really the first iron smith in the british isles? I doubt it.

When being *first* became important was when the idea of getting a license from a govenment to be the *only* person to use a special terchnique or machine. Even with that there may be a large number of people working on the same "problem" and coming up with similiar ideas around the same time---look at the Bessemer/Kelly arguments!

If this is for a school assignment, as the Teacher who was the first teacher---and ask them to document it...

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/02/05 12:08:52 EST

Paul Bilodeau,

4340 is classed as an electric furnace alloy steel and contains carbon, manganese, silicon, nickel, chromium, and molybdenum. It is not catagorized as a hot work steel, but I'll bet if you did make hot work tools from it, they would hold up better than plain carbon steel.

post script. I hardened my medium carbon axle steel in water. in tempering, I usually draw the face to a dark straw.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/02/05 16:18:50 EST

Frank Turley,
Truck axles have been special alloy for about 15 to 18 years. Prior to that they were 4140 or 1050.
Currently new axles are basicly of 2 alloys.
Axles of unforged diameter of 1.38 OD less are 1050H
Axles of larger than 1.38 unforged OD are 1541H
These alloys are modified for a very quick heat treatment by a scanning induction process. They have manganese, nickel and chrome added. These alloy are pretty sensitive to grain growth if held above the critical temp without working for long, and tend to be sensitive to quench cracking. In production the quench used is a polymer modified water. If oil quenching I have had no cracking problems. In production there is also a time limit for the time allowed between quench and temper, of 40 minutes if I remember correctly.
   - ptree - Friday, 12/02/05 20:39:13 EST

Product name please. What is the name of the pen used to write in white in fine lettering on metal? Saw one at Quad-State. Looked much like a regular ballpoint pen.

For new folks in the Upper South, mark your 2006 calendar for April 21-22 (although site will be available from roughly April `15th - 25th if you want to make it a mini-vacation). This is the weekend of the first annual CSI - anvilfire.com Hammer-in at my farm here in West-central, TN. BigBlu Hammers will be here for hands on testing of at least one of their powerhammers using the Uri Hofi die system. Richard Postman (THE Anvil Man) plans to attend. Will set up my coal forge and anvil for open demonstrations. If there is interest, I can make one of my Freon bottle propane forges from start to finish. Intent is to keep the event laid-back, low-keyed with lots and lots of tailgate tool sellers. Primative camping on site and two campground and several motels in the general area. Event cost not yet determine. Almost all of the proceeds will go to the anvilfire.com general operating fund to help keep it going.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/03/05 03:16:14 EST

Fine-point white metal markers exist!! We used them where I work in the past. They were EXACTLY a ball-point marker. I believe they were made by a company called GPX.
   Dodge - Saturday, 12/03/05 03:43:55 EST

if any 1 has any specs on building a propane forge plz email me them.
These specs would be amazingly useful.
   crow - Saturday, 12/03/05 04:59:55 EST

crow: Your question is about like asking how to make an anvil. If you can provide the specific usage you have in mind, it may narrow down your options.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/03/05 05:42:08 EST

I should add to the above on the Hammer-in, folks are guest for three days. After that they become unpaid farm laborers.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/03/05 05:45:18 EST

Ken Scharabok
Our friends at Hagemeyer, offer the Sanford line of pint markers in a fine tip, medium and I have also used the broad tip. The fine tip makes about a 1/16", the medium about a 1/4" and the broad about a 1/2" line. All in real paint. These paints last very well indoors but will fade in a year or so outdoors. I think they come in boxs of ten each in about 12 colors. We used them to color code.
Try Mike at 502-961-5930
   ptree - Saturday, 12/03/05 09:35:02 EST

Working with 4340:

This is a grade that we forge almost every day in various sizes from 4" square up to a couple feet. Generally, there is no special cooling requirement from the forge unless you a working a very large cross section. (My idea of very large is over 18" round). So, forge, air cool, machine as needed, Normalize (heat to 1750 F and air or fan cool), Austenitize at 1525-1575 F, liquid quench in oil or polymer and temper as soon as the piece reaches 200 F or cooler. Quench time is a function of cross section, but for small cross sections (less than 4") start with a short quench time of 30 seconds per inch to avoid quench cracks. Also, break all sharp corners and remove any forge laps or cold shuts before autentizing. NOTE that annealing and normalizing are not the same thing and they will give differnt results. Annealing is used to provide a very soft structure that is easy to machine or cold form. To anneal, heat to 1750 and funace cool to room temp. Normalizing will provide a slighty harder microstructure, but has the added advantages of being a shorter cycle since you air or fan cool, and it will refine the grain size which promotes better mechanical properties.

4340 as a hot work tool steel: I don't think that 4340 will resist deformation at elevated temps any better than 1050. It will be more durable and restant to deformation at room temp by hammering and bending than 1050, assuming it has been heat treated correctly for the application. 4340 will be slightly more difficult to forge than a plain carbon steel, but small sections can still be handled in the average blacksmith shop.

   - Patriick Nowak - Saturday, 12/03/05 10:22:53 EST


Man has always been facinated by who did what first. Then we started writing it down in histories, most of which are wrong. Example: Gutenburg was not the first to invent movable type. The Koreans were doing it 200 years before Gutenburg. That is about enough time for the information to have traveled to Europe by word of mouth. . . Fulton was not the first to put a steam engine to work moving a boat, a couple Scotts beat him to it on a lark. However, he WAS the first to self promote the fact that he did it and commercialize the feat. Then there are the many modern discoveries made in Russia that resulted in the character Chekov in Star Trek. Many discoveriers WERE made first and independently in that huge closed country. All these are things that have happened well within written history.

Histories are also very one sided favoring the author's point of view or experiance. Virtualy every history we in the West read is very Eurocentric. Except for gunpowder and paper Eurocentric histories never atribute anything to being invented in East Asia or Africa. In fact both China and India had significant technological based industry well before Europe. However, much of it dissapeared and then much of the evidence of it was erased by colonial powers.

When you get beyond written history things get even more foggy. We rely on the archealogical record or things left behind or preserved. Man made artifacts often do not survive well and when they do survive the distribution is very uneven. They also tell little of the real story. In hot humid or wet places the evidence left by mankind disappears fairly rapidly. In places heavily trafficed by man the evidence of prior habitations often disappears most rapidly. When we look at ironwork there is almost nothing left over 1000 years old. Over half the iron age is unrepresneted.

When we get to earliest times and the most primitive tools such as hammer and anvil it is not even likely that man invented these things. Various animals use flat rocks as anvils to break open shells and nuts. Apes use clubs to beat things and birds and apes use slender stems to fish ants from ant hills. The old definition of man being the only tool maker and user has been diluted a bit.

The first blacksmith was some unnamed person, perhaps not even modern man who found a high iron meteorite or a piece of native iron and hammered it into shape with a stone hammer on a stone anvil with or without heat.

So, one thing we DO know. Blacksmiths have been scrounging and recycling since the begining of time.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/03/05 11:40:25 EST

Looking for information on integrating keyed type lockset into a gate I am going to build. I would like to use solid stock for this round head gate. I am imagining that the frame would be rather wide (2 inch) to accept lock bolt width. Obviously this is going to be a heavy gate. Any recommended hinge types??? Greg
   Greg Derse - Saturday, 12/03/05 13:25:49 EST

Installing locksets into gates- there are two ways this is usually done- either a hollow section of upright, or building a box to hold the lockset.
I have cheated, and cut and welded in sections of square tube, or built up plate, in an otherwise solid vertical upright, so I could sneak in a lockset.
Or I have built a box from plate, and attached it to the upright, to hold the lockset.
Ornamental iron supply places sell some narrow profile locksets, without doorknobs, but they are usually pretty low quality.
Of course, you could make some other type of lock- as complicated as you want to go, anything from a hasp to a cane pin to a real tumbler lock.
   - Ries - Saturday, 12/03/05 17:10:03 EST

Does anyone have any info on Blaschak coal? I found some for sale at a local hardware store in 40# bags that is labled "Blacksmith Coal". I went to Blaschak's website and they only mention anthracite coal and nothing about bituminous coal. I guess what i want to know, is this so called blacksmith coal bituminous? Any info would be great.

   Jeff - Saturday, 12/03/05 18:49:22 EST

Gate Locks,

Check out http://www.bestlock.com, they have many unique rim cylinder setups, I have adapted their cylinders in many ways, one thing you might think of is using a manually operated locking bolt that is locked by a regular internal deadbolt.
   - Hudson - Saturday, 12/03/05 19:58:09 EST

A gripfid is a specialized tool for a textile technique called Ply-Split Braiding. The gripfids I have are made from aluminum or brass tubing which has been cut to length, about 6 inches,and then tapered to a conical point, leaving an open channel behind the point which is able to grab a cord. The tool is used to pierce one cord (splitting the plies) and pull another cord through. I could scan or photograph and send an image of a gripfid I have. Here's the question: what kind of metalworker might be able to make something like this?
http://www.indianaweavers.org/weavingIndiana/MWC2003/plySplitting.html shows a picture, fourth image down.
I've gotten gripfids from England and California before, but those suppliers are not available now.
   Pat - Saturday, 12/03/05 20:06:12 EST

Pat, It's difficult to tell from the indiana photo exactly what the eye looks like, but leather workers use a "collar awl" that is similar. It has a solid steel point and eye, and a wooden handle. Check out http://www.siegelofca.com/view_cat_product.asp?id=8
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/03/05 20:30:36 EST

This is basically a machining job- turning a taper on the lathe, end drilling on the lathe,then cutting the channel with a milling machine.
A blacksmith could forge down a taper in the end of a steel pipe, but it would be a lot trickier in aluminum, and darn near impossible in brass.
So if you needed one or two, it could be forged, in steel.
If you want tens, or hundreds, then a CNC lathe with live tooling is the way to go, and my guess is that they wouldnt be any cheaper than 10 bucks she sells hers for. CNC lathes like that cost 50 to a hundred grand, so the hourly rate on one for it to earn its keep is pretty steep.
Then, if it is made of aluminum, it gets anodized- another process that is cheap enough by the hundred, but with a $75 minimum order, it makes onesies kinda pricey.
On this website, she sells them for 10 and 12 bucks- are they not still available? seems like a pretty reasonable price to me.
Or do you need some special size or shape she doesnt make?
Anyway, you want to look in the yellow pages under machine shop, and take one you have to them. And prepare to be flexible about materials, and listen to the advice of the machinist.
   - Ries - Saturday, 12/03/05 20:42:09 EST


Someone asked me to forge them a "camp" tomahawk, but he wants one that will hold an edge. I'm thinking about using 5160, but have never used it before, and am concerned that working it to a wide, thin surface will leave stress fractures because of the rapid cooling when worked on the face of the anvil. I didn't have any such problems with the railroad spike tomahawk, but that's mild steel. Is 5160 forgiving during the forging process? Maybe something like 4140 would be a better choice.

I tried something similar with some S-7, but when I forged it to a thin chisel shape I ended up with stress fractures that caused it to fail during use. This happened because I worked it too cold, which was hard not to do because it cooled to a non-workable temp almost as soon as it touched the anvil.
   - Tom T - Saturday, 12/03/05 21:32:12 EST

At the SWABA meeting today I saw a propane forge with 12 burners on it---would that work for you crow? Probably take a pretty hefty tank to run it too.

Frank Turley demo's some nice welding including welding together two pieces with massive difference in cross sectional thickness a rod to the end of a fishtail for a scroll end.

   ThomasP - Saturday, 12/03/05 21:49:35 EST

I dont have any specific advice for your application, But would just mention as an idea that may prove helpful, At one job, Alot of specialised doors I worked on used a typical deadbolt but it was installed in the jamb, Not the door its self. It worked real slick and the door retained its 'astethetic lines' without having the bulk of a lock housing in the door its self.

BTW, Today I bought second hand anvil. Pretty decent shape a moderate chipped edge and the ultimate stupid abuse, One spot torch cut about .75" in from an edge.
(I think thats way higher up the stupidity ladder than drilling into the clamp or table of a drillpress)
Its about 125lb. Cast iron body with steel face, A typical square heel 7/8" hardy, One pritchell, Its curious that its steel face (about .25"thick) is formed to step down and extend out to the end of the horn. Steel only covers the top radius part of the horn where the most striking occurs.
Also appears the waist is a welded joint, But I need to clean it more to be sure. The number "15" is cast into one of the feet also appears to be a faint logo on the side body, approx 1.5" dia. The letter "A" with a cresent moon over the "A". Possibly some smaller letters continuing from the "A", But its real faint, I may try to rub or highlight whats there, But right now, I am not at my workshop.
Its a good rebound and pleasant "thud". No ringing,,, Yippee!!!
It might be nice to know a bit about it If its an easy & obvious answer from somebody here. Overall I am happy with it and the price thats all that really matters.
I sort of dont care about an anvils pedigree, But everybody and their dog will be asking me "what brand, How old etc. ?"
Thanks alot
   - Håkan - Saturday, 12/03/05 22:42:28 EST


That sure sounds like a Fisher Eagle anvil. They are made with a steel face over a cast iron body, and have a steel plate covering the top curvature of the horn as well. I have one of 250# and truly love it. With the "15" cast onto the leg it should be 150 pounds, a very nice size. I have two other anvils, one European metric and a Peter Wright, and the Fisher is still my favorite. I love peace and quiet.
   vicopper - Saturday, 12/03/05 22:59:59 EST

Tom T,
5160 is used by many bladesmiths. Remember to forge thick and grind thin....... but thick and thin are relative terms after all.
   Ralph - Saturday, 12/03/05 23:00:57 EST


See Blacksmith Coal Quick Reference posted above
   burntforge - Saturday, 12/03/05 23:52:31 EST

Håkan: If there is a hortizonal line through the crescent moon with you likely have a SOUTHERN CRESCENT from the Southern Skein & Foundry Company of Chattanooga, TN from about the 20s or 30s. SOUTHERN would be above the line, CRESCENT below it. Under CRESCENT may be REG. U.S. PATENT OFF. Logo is likely raised. Can you make it stand out by using a black marking pen and send me a photo? Just click on name for e-mail form.

Jeff: Really only practical way to tell is to purchase a bag and test it per Bruntforge's information.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/04/05 02:59:56 EST

Tom T.

As Ralph has said, leave a little thickness on the cutting edge side. It helps prevent warping when your 5160 is quenched in oil. In addition, if the edge is sharp before quenching, the sharpness is going to scale away, so what's the point?

I saw a Japanese toolsmith lift his work slightly off the anvil after each hammer blow in order to conserve heat. If you get in the rhythm, this is a viable technique.

After hardening and tempering, THEN comes the grind, whet, hone, and strop.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/04/05 08:49:54 EST

Gripfid: Pat, The best I can tell from the photo available the hole in the channel extends into the shank a short distance. In this case the manufacturing process is.

1) Drill deep hole in end of an aluminium rod (probably in a lathe - material probably 6160).

2) Compress the tube to close the hole near the end and start the taper. This probably requires a small set of dies to use in a press or vise. It could be done with pliers or hammering but would make more work later.

3) Mill the end to the centerline (small milling machine required). It might also be possible to do this operation on a belt grinder/sander.

4) Finish shape the ends on a small belt sander or with a file.

5) Finish all over with fine grit Wet-or-dry sandpaper.

6) Send batches to anodizer (gold, blue, red, clear available).

As Ries pointed out if they are still available from the supplier mentioned (first listing on google for 'gripfid') it would be much cheaper. The tools necessary are not difficult, small lathe, sander and possibly a milling machine. But there is also a lot of hand work and skill in making these. Unless the quantities are fairly high and some production tooling made these would be quite expensive to have made.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/04/05 11:43:13 EST

I use 5160 as the edge in axes and tomahawks all the time with no problem, you just have to remember not to forge too cold (you CAN warm up your anvil, you know) and only forge it to about the thickness of nickel at the very edge. If you choose to do a rough grind before hardening and tempering, the edge should be about dime-thick, and after the whole HT operation you can sharpen as normal.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 12/04/05 11:46:25 EST

The above should read "thickness of A nickel", since you can get nickel sheet in many thicknesses!;-)
   Alan-L - Sunday, 12/04/05 11:47:22 EST

Thanks guys, I will purchase a bag and test it.

   Jeff - Sunday, 12/04/05 13:07:20 EST

Jeff, that is the best thing to do with any coal. It doesn't hurt to order a bag of good quality coal to compare to. Centaur Forge and the Kaynes both carry good coal.

If it IS anthracite then it is not good blacksmithing coal. But if they don't give any specs then it is hard to know.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/04/05 14:05:55 EST

I have not previous experience working with metal and I in I need to form a long twist in copper plate.
For example I have palate of copper (1/16”x ¾ x 7” or 1.6mmX 20mmX 180mm).
I need to twist in such a way that in every 1’’ I will get complete twist (0*-180*).
Another way to describe it will be if I using Length of 7”, I need 7 complete twists.
If required I can provide an image.
Thank you,
Vancouver, Canada.
   Tom - Sunday, 12/04/05 19:31:20 EST

tom, what you're describing is a half twist of 180 so over 7" you would only have 3&1/2 full twists of 360 or am I missing something?? anyway depending on the alloy some copper can be twisted cold with vise grips and a vise.
   dale - Sunday, 12/04/05 21:48:55 EST


Jeff, I happen to use coal from Blashack myself. I buy mine from a local full time 0smith who purchases trailer loads of pallets of bagged coal and is willing to resell some to few of us smaller users. In the past the bags were unlabeled but the last load was labeled St. Nicholas blacksmith coal from blashack of Mahanoy City PA. I've been fairly happy with the coal I've been using. It cokes very well and burns really hot. In my Centaur Forge firepot it tends to produce a good deal of clinker but it's not really excessive. My much more experienced source also says he'd like a little less clinker but he's generally happy with this coal. The blacksmith's coal is definately NOT anthracite. I'd suggest you give it a try; I think you will be satisfied.
   SGensh - Sunday, 12/04/05 23:10:07 EST

Twisting Ribbon or flat stock: Tom, The trick is to have sufficient tension on the piece (pull) while twisting to keep it from knotting up. In the width you are talking about I think you are at the limit of what can be done without tearing the metal. When you make a twist of this sort the outer edges must twist to make up the added distance. SOME of the change goes into compression of the center making it thicker but VERY little.

The way Dale mentioned clamping one end in a vise and using vise grips may work if you pull as hard as you can, which means the vise must be well anchored. The vise grips will also need added jaws for the full width of the metal. You cold make a folded piece of fairly thin steel to make a clip to do this.

IF you cannot pull hard enough to do the job since this is probably at the limit of what can be done (my guess), then you will need a more rigid setup such as an engine lathe. In this case the strip would be tightly clamped in the chuck and on the carriage. Again you will need good flat clamping surfaces preferably with rounded edges that will not cut the metal. The lathe would be run in the lowest backgear speed which is usualy 50 RPM and tension kept on the strip manually buy holding the carriage handwheel. AS the piece twists it will get shorter and you will need to let the carriage move a little to prevent tearing the piece or pulling it out of the jaws. Note that overrun can be considerable even in backgear in a lathe.

If the part you are making needs to have a smooth twist right to the ends then you will want some extra to cut off. This also helps if the length is critical as the length is going to change. In this situation it is often best to twist as long a piece as you can in rough multiples of the final length. Thus you only lose two end pieces for two or more parts rather than two for each part.

Hope this helps. I've done similar in 1/2" wide aluminium but that was when I was a teenager a few decades ago. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 12/04/05 23:42:50 EST

Finding a coal supplier:

#1. On the NAVIGAGE anvilfire link go down to Coal Shuttle.

#2. On the NAVIGATE anvilfire link go down to ABANA-Chapter.com. Contact the blacksmithing group in your area and ask where they purchase their coal.

#3. Go to www.switchboard.com and do a search on coal in a particular state. If you know how the first two digits of the Zip Code are structured for that state you can also search on it by using the first two digits followed by ***. You will be give a list of about eight categories, one of which is Coal Brokers. Burntforge (see above) has given information on what to ask for in the way of a grade suitable for blacksmithing.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/05/05 06:42:49 EST

where can I get acurate info about my 3B one piece Nazel?--History--Specifications? Age of hammer? Anything? Tanks, Walt~ 810-327-2045
   walt badgerow - Monday, 12/05/05 11:07:48 EST

Walt; One of Anvilfire's advertisers is Wallace Metals. Try www.nazel.com/. A book with a lot of specs on Nazels is "The Blacksmith's and Hammermen's Emporium", by Douglas Freund, published by Mingus Mountain Machine Works of Jerome, AZ. It may be out of print by now, so try Amazon.com. (BTW, it's not a good idea to post phone numbers or web addresses. We can reach you by keying on your name at the bottom of your post.)
   3dogs - Monday, 12/05/05 12:41:37 EST

Nazel Hammers:

Contact Bob Bergman at the Postville Blacksmith shop or Nigel Tudor at Tudor Ironworks. Both have websites and run Nazel hammers in their shops.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 12/05/05 13:18:04 EST

Walt, If you want the purchase history and age based on the serial number you need to contact Bruce Wallace. He owns what is left of the Nazel documentation, has some drawings and supplies parts when appropriate.
   - guru - Monday, 12/05/05 13:32:38 EST

Anvilfire: Hello Everyone
I just wanted to take a minute to inform all anvilfire users that I am no longer visiting this web forum. I think it is an absolutely wonderful and informative venue. I have been putting off joining mainly because of ill health and as a direct result economics. I have been wanting to support anvilfire in many ways even if I am just able to give simple information to help others. After much soul searching I feel if I join anvilfire by paying the usual membership as I have with many other blacksmith groups...I would just be considered an outsider. This is pretty much how many people have made me feel. I know I like to joke and sometimes it may not be taken like I meant it. Some folks have just been super nice to me: Adam, John Odom, JimG, Quenchcrack, Irsign, Ken S. etc... Many folks really work hard at maintaining a geographically close knit boys club. I am not the only person to feels this way. I get the subtle hints and the outright direct ones as well. I know some of those folks will have the don't let the door hit you on the way out attitude. This will just show their true colors anyway.

Hi John Odom I will be sending those pearl harbor photos to you within the day. Thanks
   burntforge - Monday, 12/05/05 15:15:52 EST

I am an artist Blacksmith/fabricator and I am moving to Dallas, TX and need a job!! I have a B.F.A. from Rhodes College and I am a certified welder. I was wondering if anyone could give some guidance or job advice because I am looking to work in a smaller shop that incorporates both blacksmithing and fabrication for more artistic product design. Any advice is appreciated!
   Susan Ratcliff - Monday, 12/05/05 16:53:56 EST

Sorry: I would like to appologize to all. If I wrote anything that is offensive to anyone I appologize and I am truely sorry. I believe this is a very educational forum with a great deal of wealth of information. I wish I could speak with a couple of folks to work some things out. I do not want anyone making assumptions as guru thought I was unhappy with him. I realize a alot of great folks put a great deal of effort into this forum.
   burntforge - Monday, 12/05/05 17:40:03 EST

what is a good book or resource that shows you how to make hinges,handles and other decorative hardware to put on wooden chests and boxes?
   lee sanders - Monday, 12/05/05 17:49:17 EST

Lee Sanders, Two books that might help are "Practical Projects for the Blacksmith" by Ted Tucker, and "Professional Smithing" by Donald Streeter. Your book finders such as www.campusi.com may have copies available.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/05/05 18:10:47 EST

could you identify the anvil I have for sale on ebay? sellers name is oollddjj thanks JJ
   jerry johnson - Monday, 12/05/05 18:15:39 EST

Jerry, I find no way to search under user names an item number would help (no links please)
   - guru - Monday, 12/05/05 19:16:34 EST

Guru: Fairly simple. In the upper right corner on the first page you come to will be Advanced Search. It will give you several options, one of which is to search by seller. Just cut and paste user name into box. Note on this page if you scroll down to the bottom you can ask for a sort several ways and also indicate the number of results (listings) per page you want to appear at once.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/05/05 19:23:57 EST

I found your anvil Item #6233437626 Thanks for the link

I think you question has been answered. It looks to be an old English anvil from the feet.

If it has good ring and rebound (not a cast iron copy) then it is probably a pretty good anvil. This is MUCH better than buying the many junk anvils that look pretty but are not real tools.
   - guru - Monday, 12/05/05 19:44:14 EST

Hi everybody,
Anyone ever heard anything (good or bad) about Central Machine Works mechanical hammers? I might look at buying a #100 model and was wondering whats the story.

Any help will be appreciated, and happy holidays to all...
   - Randall - Monday, 12/05/05 20:11:00 EST

Randall, All I can tell from the engraving in Pounding Out the Profits is that it looks to be a decently built hammer. However, there is a reason many of these machines were not highly sucsessful. This one used a bow spring linkage which is a good design but had a leather connecting link. These tend to be a little troublesome but Bradley built very good hammers with this system.
   - guru - Monday, 12/05/05 21:38:03 EST

Do you have any copies of The Revolutionary blacksmith that were sign by Paw Paw still for sale?

I was also wondering if this educational forum is grant funded? It sounds like you put a great deal of time into reports and paperwork. I thought it may be. If not just a thought anyway.

John T: Thanks John T
I will also scan those photos for you and email them tomorrow evening along with John O's

I liked the email you sent me. I appreciate it. You talked me into staying around. I am just going to let some things that get emailed to me and some things people say go in one ear and out the other. I really do appreciate some of the good folks I mentioned before. I know I forgot a few nice folks. The ones that want to blow you off and treat folks like they don't exist or others are beneath them can just pound iron...LOL I am still going to start visting other blacksmith forums as well.

Anyway enough of my rants. Go pound some iron!!! If anyone doesn't like that I posted this in the guru's den as well can have him delete this.
   burntforge - Monday, 12/05/05 23:06:40 EST

Catching up after being off chasing PA deer - no luck so far this year. A couple of comments - Carbon Tet is not acceptable for cleaning items for oxygen service - it leaves a residue that becomes flammable/explosive in oxygen. I would not permit a steel mill to start O2 service because they cleaned lines with carbon tet while I was working for Airco. Manganese steel - if it's mostly nonmagnetic, its probably Hadfields (aka as 13% maganese steel) it reacts similar to austenitic grades of stainless - quench from high temperatures to soften, and then work hardens. Back in the 70's we sold a bunch in the annealed state as jail bar - if you try to cut it with a hacksaw, it just keeps getting harder and harder. It's used mostly for wear resistant applications such as earth moving equipment.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 12/05/05 23:07:15 EST

Dressing Double Horn Anvil

Do any of you who have a double horn anvil dress the tapered square horn edges with a small radius .

It seems to be a logical thing to me, but I am open to input from others who own a continental pattern anvil before mine gets dressed.

Quechcrack did you dress your square horn on your old world sweety?
   burntforge - Monday, 12/05/05 23:13:10 EST

TRB - Sorry, No. Paw-Paw signed them as the orders came in. We are still selling numberd copies.

Funding - anvilfire is funded from CSI, ads and store sales. It underfunded by about 80% which is my time (I could make a lot more money doing ANYTHING else). The reason for CSI as a non-profit is to obtain grants. We are in the process of re-filing our IRS non-profit application due to some mistakes and questions by the IRS. Without full IRS non-profit recgognition you cannot even obtain grant application forms. . . Without CSI dues we would have had to shut down years ago.

Internet entities are much more likely to dissapear overnight than any other type of business. All it takes is to miss one server payment, one ISP bill, one PC upgrade.

Although there are cashed and archived copies of many web sites on line you will find that they are very unsatisfactory and usualy incomplete. Images are often missing. The one publicly funded archive does not include the javascripts that make many images appear or menus work. Although they archive anvilfire we are so large that they only have about 10% and are several years behind in archiving. So when web entities dissapear, they dissapear. That is the reason for CSI, to keep anvilfire on-line in perpetuity. Dues only cost $1/week.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/06/05 07:59:01 EST

Sharp Corners: All corners on anvils should have some radius. Most come with at least the edge broken about 1/32" but this is not enough. Square horns are usualy kept fairly sharp copared to the body of the anvil. Radii should be proportional to the size of the anvil. The bigger the anvil the more the radii. Besides protecting the anvil from chipping damage a good radius does not mar the work and makes better forgings.

On a 150# anvil I would put a 1/16" or a little more radius on the square horn, 1/8" radius on the body and about 3/16" from the middle of the body forward, berhaps less on the side toward where I stand.

On many European anvils they avoid the sharp away side problem by not having a right angle edge. The side of the anvil slopes away at about 20° making the corner 110°. Any radius on this corner is much more effective than on a 90°.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/06/05 08:09:01 EST

this is a bad question I know but is there any easier way to light coal that torch? I have poco #3 and I burn it with propane torch while blowing for 30 minutes just to light it any suggestions?
   freddy - Tuesday, 12/06/05 10:10:01 EST

freddy- I found it very hard to light a coke fire until I started using some "match lite" charcoal under the coke. Works great
   - ptpiddler - Tuesday, 12/06/05 10:25:54 EST

thanks lots Ill try
   freddy - Tuesday, 12/06/05 10:35:01 EST

Hi folks--thanks for yesterdays help--I now need to find Mark Krauses's booklet---Anything?-Norm Larson didn't have it --Thanks, Walt~
   walt badgerow - Tuesday, 12/06/05 12:02:31 EST


Great educational site. However, the limitation of self-teaching is the difficult of answsering ones own questions. Perhaps you might be able to direct me.

I have an antique iron balance sale with twin brass pans. It is made in france. I thought it was cast iron until, but there is the word "forge" which I haved interpreted to mean forged iron. Sound right? whats the difference, and does it give any clues as to age. the scale is marked 5 kilos. It also has embossed words, which translate into English, as non-stamped. Any clue what that signifies. Finally, any idea what the "DL" embossed on the balance arm means? thanks in advance. bob forer lawrence, ks
   Bob Forer - Tuesday, 12/06/05 12:20:08 EST

Hi Jock
Would you email me your new mailing address? I have a packet of information I want to mail in hard copy to you. Thank You :)
   burntforge - Tuesday, 12/06/05 13:20:29 EST


Pocahontas #3 coal is supposed to be pretty high quality smithing coal and should be pretty easy to light. Crumple up a couple pieces of newspaper and toss on a few little pieces of kindling and light with a match. When it gets going, pile on sme fresh coal and turn on a gentle air blast. It should light right up and begin coking in a couple minutes.

If it takes a torch and 30 minutes to get it going, it sounds more like coke than coal; certainly not like Pocahontas #3. I'm really a gas-forge guy and not much of a coal burner, but even I can light Poco #3 by the method I outlined above.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/06/05 13:36:51 EST

dear guru
I bought a forge that is made out of press steel by buffalo manufacturing and I need to know what to line it with as it had concrete in it whe I got it, also please tell me where i can get this material
   Rob Thomas - Tuesday, 12/06/05 14:50:37 EST

Is there any way to acheive a flexible/malleable quality in a 14 gauge rod of 316 steel? For the piercing industry. I was thinking maybe a system of braided fine wire somehow "sealed" or capped so there would be no crevices or gaps for bacteria to thrive in. This idea is for what's called "surface piercings", where 1" or so lengths of barbells are placed slightly below the surface of the skin. The rigid bars we use are bent at about 45' angles approximately 1/8" at each end, so the main length of the steel sits under the surface. Any thoughts? ideas?
   - The Great Nippulini - Tuesday, 12/06/05 16:17:38 EST

Rob; can you hint where you are at?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/06/05 16:40:39 EST

Rob Thomas

Use Fireclay

It can be purchased from: www.alligatorclay.com


Best clay and refractory resource from the "Burnt Forge Archive"
   burntforge - Tuesday, 12/06/05 16:58:38 EST

Bob Forer,

I have forged a couple of Hispanic "artifake balances" for the nearby museums. Cast iron is brittle and liable to break. Forgings are stronger in that regard. Also, after forging, the finish-filer could remove material on the unbalanced heavier side until the pointer was dead center. The pans could also be trimmed until a balance was achieved. I'm guessing that non-stamped indicates that it was either neither "drop forged" nor "trademarked", depending on the French words used. "DL" could be almost anything, perhaps a proof mark. I cannot date it for you except to say that it is post-metric.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/06/05 17:47:15 EST

I was wondering if the "non-stamped" meant that it wasn't tested and regulated for trade---just like the gas pumps have stamps from the weights and measures department.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/06/05 19:08:36 EST

I'm Fabrizio and i'm writing from Italy.
We are building a gas forge for damascus steel but we are unable to find the ITC products or other products with that features.

I have many question before we'll make an order.

1)Do you know an European/Italian supplier of them or other similar products?

2)What kind of product I must use to glue them together?

3)If I'll decide to make a vertical forge (like don fogg's one) how big I must do it to have the security to reach the highest temp?

4)How many wool i must put inside?

5)If i make an horizontal gas forge, must i use wool inside or i can put ITC100 directly to the bricks surface.

6)What type of refractory bricks i must use for a better performance? (ASTM or not?)

7)When the ITC100 reaches high temp get soften, is it hard enough (on the wool and not) that i can put on it the billet of damascus steel?

8)What is the reaction of the ITC products with molten metal during the forging works? Wich is the best to save at 100% the refractory under itself?

9)When it's opened (ITCxxx) how many time i can keep it on a shelf without dagrading?

10)With a pint do you think we could coat (3 layers) the internal of the forge with dims: 5"(diam) 12"/13"long?

Excuse me for the number of the question but in this way i bore you only one time... :-)

Excuse me also for my bad english... :-|

Best regards
   Bicio - Tuesday, 12/06/05 21:03:52 EST

Hi Guru, I wonder is there a rule of thumb for steel stock diameter and anvil size. My 80 lb anvil bounces with 1\2 inch stock. What do you think of a 500 lb anvil ? thanks, George
   George Reycraft - Tuesday, 12/06/05 21:07:14 EST

I'm finally finishing my shop..One thing has me stumped,I have a 250 gal. propane tank outside plumbed to my shop..I would like to find "quick connect" fittings like the ones used for air tools for my propane line so I can easily move my forge inside or outside. Does any such animal exist? Thanks alot for any help...Mr.Turley,,Greatly enjoyed your demonstration and commentary on forge welding last Sat.
   - Arthur - Tuesday, 12/06/05 21:49:58 EST


I don't know about European suppliers of ITC-100. I would ask the manufacturer, International Technical Ceramics, Inc. They can be reached at PO Box 1726, Ponte Vedra, FL 32004 - Tel: (904) 285 0200 - Fax: (904) 273 1616

ITC products are all liquid ceramic coatings and are used to coat and to glue together other materials such as insulating soft firebrick, hard firebrick, ceramic wool and ceramic fibre board.

You should use at least 2" (50mm) of ceramic wool, or preferrably 3" (75mm) for optimum insulation and heat retention. This applies to either vertical or horizontal forges.

A forge of any orientation can be made of firebrick coated with ITC-100 for heat reflection, or ceramic wool, likewise coated, or hard firebrick lined with ceramic wool and coated. The ceramic wool has the highest insulating properties, but is the most fragile. Soft firebrick is a fairly good insulator, but is fragile and will be eaten by molten flux if not coated. Hard firebrick is pretty resistant to flux and is durable, but is not a good insulator. I use ceramic wool for the sides and top, and hard firebrick or high-alumina kiln shelf for the floor.

ITC-100 is not tough enough to be used as a floor over ceramic wool. Again, I recommend that you use either high-alumina or silicon carbide kiln sehlving slabs for the forge floor. Do coat them with ITC-100 for heat reflectivity.

ITC-100 has a very long shelf life. If it is opened repeatedly, you may need to add a bit of water to keep it fluid. It is even okay if it freezes.

A pint of ITC-100 will coat that size forge at least three coats. You need to spray the ceramic wool with water before applying the ITC-100 so it maintains its consistency. Follow the directions that come with the product and it will work just fine.

Your English is far superior to my Italian, of which I have none. One failing of most Americans is that they never bother to learn a second language, thinking that English is universal.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/06/05 22:13:42 EST

George Reycraft,

If your 80# anvil is bouncing around a lot, it should be secured to a stand of some significant mass such as a tree stump. 1/2" is not that big and, if hot enough, should work fine on an 80# anvil.

I would love to have a 500# anvil for bigger stuff, though I find that I can do all I need to do on my 250#. For bigger stuff than the 250 can handle, I would use the powerhammer. If I had a striker, then a 500# anvil with a striker wielding a 16# sledge would be capable of doing a lot of big work. Since I work alone, a 500# anvil would be overkill, since I can only swing at most a 6# hammer one-handed. That makes for a 40:1 anvil to hammer ratio with a 250# anvil, which is plenty for efficiency.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/06/05 22:19:04 EST


You should be able to get fuel gas rated quick disconnect fittings at a place that services propane-fueled fork lifts and the like. You can undoubtedly order them from McMaster-Carr or W.W. Grainger online. Buy only the very best quality available.

When using QDs on propane, you need to check them for leaks every time you change them. Propane is heavier than air and settles and builds up from even a small leak.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/06/05 22:22:16 EST

Does anyone know of a dealer for Phoenix Power Hammers in or near Michigan? Or the going price for one?
Regarding starting a coal/coke fire, if you have a woodstove going, the coals from that with low air blowing is quick.
   Richard - Tuesday, 12/06/05 22:35:06 EST

Arthur : There are quick couplers for heating and cutting torches available from welding supply shops, just be sure they are rated for propane.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/06/05 22:48:30 EST

Rob Thomas,
Is your Buffalo Forge basically a inverted trashcan lid *(but heavier steel,about 1/8" thick?)
with a crankblower to the side? Sounds like my panforge from about the 1950s.
There are 2 schools of thought for your question.
Some line with clay, Some dont. I dont and have been using it for couple years my self and its been well used before me. The steel pan wont burn out because the main heat of the fire is above the steel within the coke bed.
Clay linings would help if you need to make the firebowl a specific shape for something, But they otherwise are not worth the effort and if the clay gets wet it will rust the steel quickly and the clay will probably crack when it heats up and steam creates cracks.
   - Sven - Tuesday, 12/06/05 22:50:30 EST

Rob Thomas,

Or is your pressed steel forge one of the rectangular ones, about 24"x30", with a cast iron firepot? If so, I line mine with a mix of Portland cement and sand, about 1:3. I line it level with the firepot flange thickness. Works for me.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/06/05 23:25:31 EST

Couple of comments:

Fabrizio: Be aware in the U.S. there is a difference between firebrick and fire brick/fireplace brick. Firebrick is generally a type of sand-based material which is very soft and typically used to line the inside of boilers. Normally specifications are either 2,300 or 2,600 degree. Fire bricks or fireplace bricks are more typically the heavy clay-based ones used to line wood burning fireplaces. Their value is they are hard and able to pretty well withstand temperatures within a propane forge. On the downside, they act as a heat sink until they come up to full temperature.

George Reycraft: On anvil size. I either avoid forgings which would involve powerhammer-type work or use one in a friend's shop and a pay-per-use basis. I have found my 160-lb Fisher capable of anything I need it for. To me 160-lb is a good compromise. 200 might be better. 500 would be gross overkill. There are several nice anvils on eBay at the present time, including a 175 lb one which is, in all likelihood, a Peter Wright.

Also on eBay at the moment is a 50-lb Mayer Brothers powerhammer said to be in excellent working condition. Unless one was to go into doing heavy stock I suspect it would be fully capable of handling day-to-day forgings.

On getting new coal to ignite, I have found it takes three full sheets of newspaper. Two and it just doesn't take off. One reason I prefer a propane forge (since I don't do forge welds). Typically I can have the job done before I could even get the coal forge up to working condition.

On round pan forges. Most of these were originally rivet forges. Used in the construction trade to heat plate rivets for ships, I-beams, etc. From what I understand, often the first apprenticeship job for a new ironworker. Trick wasn't necessarily being able to keep the required number of rivets hot, but in being able to toss them to the experienced ironworked to catch in their cone. I somewhat suspect many apprentices didn't make it past this stage.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/07/05 09:21:13 EST

I got some QD couplers for propane from a place that sells barbecue grills and other gas devices.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 12/07/05 10:41:55 EST

Phoenix Hammers: Richard, Like many products of this sort they are sold only by the manufacturer. Phoenix and Big BLU are both manufactured in North Carolina and sold directly by the manufacturer. Current price of a big BLU is posted on their site. You will have to contact Phoenix for a price.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/07/05 11:01:21 EST

Fabrizio; how much use will this forge see? If it's intended for heavy use you may want to look into a castable or rammable refractory that is resistant to flux. Such a forge will take longer to come up to welding heat but once it's hot the cycle time is very low as all that hot refractory helps bring the billet back to welding heat fast. It will also be more rugged than a fiber refractory forge.

For hobby use the coated fiber refractory forge is much better.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/07/05 12:27:10 EST

Anvil Size and a Scientific Look at Hammer Size:

There is no hard set or rule of thumb ratio between work and anvil size however it is easy to set a ratio based on norms for hammer and anvil (we will work out the hammer size below). In general you want an anvil 50 times heavier than your hammer. If you need a heavy hamer for the work you do then you need a proportionately heavier anvil. This is largely based on how much the anvil moves around when struck at full velocity with a hand hammer but also the efficiency of the effort going into the work.

1 pound hammer = 50 pound anvil
2 pound hammer = 100 pound anvil
3 pound hammer = 150 pound anvil
4 pound hammer = 200 pound anvil
5 pound hammer = 250 pound anvil
6 pound sledge = 300 pound anvil
10 pound sledge = 500 pound anvil

If you consider the historical normal hammer sizes used by smiths and the normal anvil sizes this ratio works out perfectly.

Now, as to work size. When I started smithing I used a little 2 pound hammer and a 100 pound anvil. The largest stock that seemed best to work was 3/8". Now some of this was inexperiance but this ratio felt right for several years. Later I moved up to a 3 pound hammer and a 130 pound anvil. The stock size that I liked to work the most at this ratio was 7/16" square. But with a heavier anvil 1/2" is OK. For 1" stock we found a 6 to 8 pound sledge necessary and working with a hand hammer was torture. I also know that mosts smiths really do not working anything over 1/2" by hand. So lets see if there is a ratio from my experiance.

We will use eighths of a square inch as our cross section unit (its earier to visualize than decimals of a squaree inch) and hammer in pounds.

1/4" = 4 eighths cross section. At 1 pound = 1:4
1/4" = 4 eighths cross section. At 2 pounds = 1:2
3/8" = 9 eighths cross section. At 2 pounds = 1:4.5
7/16 = 12.25 eighths. At 3 pounds = 1:4.1
1/2" = 16 eighths. At 3 pounds = 1:5.3
1/2" = 16 eighths. At 4 pounds = 1:4
5/8" = 25 eighths. At 3 pounds = 1:8.3
5/8" = 25 eighths. At 4 pounds = 1:6.25
3/4" = 36 eighths. At 4 pounds = 1:8
1" = 64 eighths. At 8 pounds = 1:8
1" = 64 eighths. At 10 pounds = 1:6.4

So we have a fairly consistant ratio at 1:4 to 1:5 for daily hand work and above that is heavy work and below is light work. A ratio of 1:2 to 1:1 is where steel really moves easily unless you are very good with a hammer then velocity makes larger work mover this way.

In power hammer ratings the rule of thumb was 50 pounds for 1 square inch for efficient working of mild steel, and we often use much more. In our ratio system above that works out to 50/64 or 1:1.28. This is roughly the same as using a 3 pound (1350g) hand hammer to forge 1/4" (6mm) square. So all that power of the machine is actually working easier than YOU do. The actual difference is that you swing a hand hammer faster than a power hammer. Just not as fast between blows.

In conclusion: It takes the largest "normal" hammer for a smith to work 1/2" (13mm) square stock efficiently. Experianced smiths that do a lot of hand work can do slightly heavier work with the same tools. This is in the range of a 3 to 4 pounds (1350 to 1800g) hammer. Using the anvil ratios above that means you should be using 150 to 200 pound anvil when forging 1/2" stock. Which is why for nearly two centuries this size anvil has been recommended for general shop work.

I'll have to graph this make it a little clearer.

Larger anvils are wonderful tools. You can feel the difference while forging. However, many forge shops are quite crowded and anvils in the 500 pound (230k) range are large and take up a lot of space. They are also a pain to move. But if you can afford one they nice to have.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/07/05 13:40:57 EST

anyone have any suggestions on drilling 1/4 inch 1080? I am drilling 7/16 holes with a 1 hp drill press using cutting oil. needless to say it is devouring my drill bits.
   freddy - Wednesday, 12/07/05 13:47:22 EST

1080 should drill just fine- with a sharp bit and the proper speed.
But most cheap import drill presses just dont go slow enough- 7/16" holes in a hard steel like that should be run as slow as 175 to 200rpm.
What speed are you trying to drill em at?
Drill bits, like any cutting tool, need to be sharpened periodically. Best is to learn to sharpen them by hand on a grinder- once you get the hang of it, its quick and easy.
Or, if you dont want to do that, buy a drill doctor type sharpener. Either way, buy a pack of 10 good quality made in USA bits, and use em till they are dull, then sharpen in batches.
We once did 6000 1/4" holes in 5/16" stainless- just take a sharpening break every hour or so, and the bits last a long time.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 12/07/05 14:02:02 EST


Is the 1080 fully annealed? If so, it really shouldn't be a problem except for breakthrough snagging. At a guess, you may be running the bits too fast and the feed pressure too low, resulting in pressure point hardening of the stock. I would use 250 rpm and feed it as hard as I could on my little wimpy 1/2 horse press, and it would work with a boron bit, on normalized 1080. I would expect to get twenty or more holes before needing to dress the bit.

If you can, punching works really well for that size hole in relatively thin stock like that. Cold punching with an ironworker would be a snap. Again, the 1080 would want to be annealed for this, or at a minimum normalized.

If you're trying to drill hardened 1080, you need to go to tungsten carbide or diamond cutters, as 1080 is in the tools steel range and is capable of being as hard as most drill bits.

   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/07/05 14:03:58 EST

Anvil Size and Hammer

What Guru shows scientifically is absolutely true.

My opinions...you can just plain forge anything on a 200 lbs anvil. You do feel the difference from a lighter anvil. I have owned up to a 600 lbs anvils. The horns are usually to thick to any fine work at the tip. It is much too hard to reach across the wide face or travel the length of the anvil to use all surfaces while your work is cooling. A big anvil takes longer to heat up ,so not act like a heat sink. How your anvil is anchored to solid surface is much more important than size. Also look at the waist on your anvil. A smaller anvil that is only 130 lbs can act like a 200 plus lbs anvil if it has a large surface area under the striking surface or "sweet spot". ie... a farrier anvil is not suited for general forging and because of the thin waist and is springy. It is a tool for shaping not heavy forging.

In the family blacksmith shop they made everything made for utiltiy farm purposes, horses, wagons and buggies. They used 108 lbs anvil 6 days a week until 1995. They used all sizes of steel and big stock I might add as well without using any modern means such as a welder or a torch. The anvil did the job and survived very well. They did not own a sledge hammer either. Heaviest hammer was 3 lbs.

Hammer ratio: From a scientic perspective what Jock says is true.

BUT...Working steel at the right heat range is more important than hammer size. Also hammer control and accuracy is more important...see URI HOFI hammer techniques. You just don't need a big hammer to move metal. I rarely have ever used over a 2 1/2 lbs hammer on all kinds of steel. I see people rely on small straight peen sledges too often. They do have there place and sometimes warrent use. Alot of times people damage there anvilsdue to poor control from the weight or snap the leg vise right off the mounting post.

These are my opinions. Some folks own big anvils and that is fine. To me personally it is like driving a hummer instead of a truck. For Bragging rights or to feel like a mountain man or women!

   burntforge - Wednesday, 12/07/05 14:20:55 EST

thanks it is hardened I have check my rpms agin and maybe Ill anneal. your input has given me some ideas Id like to try. thanks again
   freddy - Wednesday, 12/07/05 14:23:09 EST

I installed one of the VERY heavy axle forgings I brought home just outside the door of my shop. It weighs about 450#, and is a 6" shaft with a 22" flange. I wanted a heavy anvil for sledge work as my shop anvil is only a 125#. My son wanted to try the 20# sledge I also brought home. This "anvil" did not bounce any with either a 16# or 20# sledge. I would guess that having 37" of solid 4140 under the sweet spot must have fooled it into thinking it was the 1000# anvil the Guru's formula would suggest I needed:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/07/05 19:06:15 EST


He has the right idea. Save some dollars and bring home a big chunck of scrap to use on a very rare occasion you want something big to beat on with a sledge.

Up north we call those roughing anvils!!

I live in the area of the first crude oil discovered in this country and oil derricks. All the huge oil field drills were dressed by hand. They used a sledge and a normal size anvil of whatever was available. They didn't keep on the rigs or haul around 500 lbs anvils. Most of the bits used are bigger than Ptrees axle anvil mentioned above. Diameter of bits vary. They were about 10' long new and various diameters. Think of dressing a high carbon steel bit 12" diameter and 10' long on 130 lb Peter Wright. I rest my case with this over engineered anvil and hammer ratio garbage!! It looks good on paper, but the old smitties GOT IT DID!!
   burntforge - Wednesday, 12/07/05 19:30:07 EST

2nd annual slacktubpub/CSI tong exchange.

Once again it's that time of year. To get in on the tong exchange send your name and address to jmg@sasktel.net with tong exchange in the subject line

It'll work the same as last year, I'll do the draw chain style, so the person you get your tongs from will not be the person you send tongs too.

Get your name in before the 21st of Dec, and all tongs must be shipped to their new homes by 3 Kings Day (Jan 6th)
   JimG - Wednesday, 12/07/05 20:01:07 EST

S Gensh- Just read your post about the coal, Thanks. I just placed an order for 10 bags. I don't mind some clinker I just need coal, getting behind in my work. Hard to find good coal in CT.

Thanks everyone for your help


   Jeff - Wednesday, 12/07/05 20:12:56 EST

Burntforge, I dressed about 6" of the away side near the round horn on my double horned anvil to about 1/8" radius. I did put a slight radius on the rest of the anvil edges. I use a file on the edges if I notice they are getting mushroomed or dinged.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 12/07/05 20:36:52 EST

Last time I was at Home Depot I noticed that Irwin/Unibit is selling a set of drill bits they claim will drill anything -- masonry, steel, wood, etc. They look to me like carbide-tipped masonry bits ground to a fine edge suitable for drilling steel or wood.

I can't see how that fine edge would last more than one hole in masonry. But it struck me that the bits might be useful if you had to drill hardened steel. If I had 1080 I didn't want to anneal, I'd probably give them a try.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 12/07/05 21:42:31 EST

Mike B,

Back when I owned the sign company, I made my own carbide-tipoped hole saws for drilling stucco and block walls. Jillions of 1-5/8" holes for neon tube housings, and they had to be pretty darn round. To make the bits, I just took my worn out regular bimetal hole saws and ground notches in the rim, then brazed in carbide teeth taken off of cheap framing saw blades. Those teeth were sharp, as I usuall just bought cheap new blades, and I pretty much tried to align them as proper cutting teeth; not that it mattered that much for masonry, but sometimes I used the same hole saw for drilling wood, too. Anyway, the point is that the teeth held their edges longer than you would think. The reason, I think, is that I was using a strictly rotary drill motor, not a percussion drill. For percussion drilling, or rotary/percussion, you need a bit that will take the punding and distribute the forces evenly to the center of the carbide insert. That's why thos ebits are "sharpened" with a fairly blunt, centered V grind. A chisel grind would only last seconds, as you said.

No matter, I'd still anneal the 1080. :-)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/07/05 22:17:27 EST


Thank You very much
   burntforge - Wednesday, 12/07/05 22:35:26 EST

Drilling hard steel: One shop I worked in was owned by one of the cheapest people I have ever met. We used plain old masonry bits NOT GROUND FOR HAMMERDRILLING to make modifications on hardened tool steel. They actually worked pretty well, and can be resharpened on a green [silicon carbide] wheel or with a diamond hone or wheel.These are the bits with a single angle on each side, not the ones with a negative rake angle for precussion drills. The bits must be kept cool enough that the tip brazing doesn't melt out.Allso, a sharp edge is needed, one used for masonry will need to be sharpened first.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 12/07/05 23:53:16 EST

Yah, burntforge. We had those cable tool bits in Texas and New Mexico, as well. A few years back, a woman artist from Midland, Texas, made a bronze sculpture of a couple of guys dressing one. Proportionately, the bit looked to be about 8" in diameter. She depicted the bit held and laying horizontally on a bridge anvil, and the strikers were swinging pretty much horizontally. It looks like something they would do right at the derrick site. I wonder what they used for heat. Wish I'd been a little prairie dog (temporarily) and could have witnessed that whole procedure. I googled a good site which talks about how the cable tool rig was set up and used. http://www.lloydminsterheavyoil.com/cable.htm
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/08/05 00:27:54 EST

That sounds like a a very nice sculpture.
I will check out the website.
I know many folks who use to dress these bits. I will try to explain the proceedure they used around here tomorrow to the best of my ability. Most outfits used the Rail Road type coal forges and a whole lot of patience heating the end up.
   burntforge - Thursday, 12/08/05 01:07:01 EST

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